Lonely Lights

              Room 103, 9:45 p.m.

              I choose Hotel Apoti Thalassa as a destination wedding hotel because, ever since I was a little girl, I always dreamt of getting married by the sea. Having lived all my life near the sea, I could not imagine it not taking part of my big day. Fortunately for us, the hotel was pretty empty at the time so we managed to book a couple of rooms together. This way, we could keep mostly to ourselves. The wedding party, consisting of only Owen, my future husband / love of my life, myself, my mother and my sister, and his mother, father and brother. We were getting our simple wedding, with a wedding party consisting of my sister and Owen’s brother, as well as his parents and my mother.

              I had just gotten into bed, all warm and snuggly, feeling so cozy I could not envision getting out of bed, when all of a sudden, the enormity of the event started weighing me down. All the doubts I had ever had came racing – was I doing the right thing? What if we aren’t meant for each other? What if we get divorced? What if I made a huge mistake? Suddenly, this “sleeping in separate rooms” idea sounded silly. I needed him to reassure me… or maybe I just needed somebody to talk to. As I put on my dress robe, I realized just who I wanted to talk to – my sister! I walked past the door to the balcony, and got ready to knock on her door, when I heard my husband’s voice from within. I hesitated for a moment, thinking of all the panic from before, thinking about who’s idea it was to sleep in separate rooms, about all his “late nights at the office”, how it had seemed to me, even in the weeks before the wedding, that he had grown so close to my sister. I had been happy to see that, because it meant I had a chance to have a united family. Man, was I wrong! As I push the door open, I see my half-naked husband’s jaw drop, as he races into the bathroom.

Room 107, 9:45 p.m.

              “Go on, try it on!” my sister-in-law urges. “See if it fits!”

“I have tried it on, it’s all right. It’s just…I’m not so sure if this is a good idea!” I mumble. Truth is, her father’s military uniform fits like a glove. We had to do a bit of digging to find this particular uniform, as it is the one her father wore when he married her mother. I must admit, I feel like a fraud for wearing it. Not because I’m not part of the Army, because I have done my duty and served, but because I am not sure of the message it sends. And, if I am being reaaaally honest, it’s because I am not sure I have earned it. Better said, I am unsure of whether or not my late father-in-law would approve of me marrying his youngest daughter. Yes, we have known each other since kindergarten, and yes, we have dated for almost ten years now, but I am still not sure. His convoy was blown up before he had a chance to give us his blessing, and it has always weighed heavy upon my heart. I have blamed myself for not proposing earlier, but I just wanted us to be settled as a family before we can take this last step. Before I get a chance to finish my thought, the door to my sister-in-law’s room opens, and I see my future bride standing in the doorway. I manage an “Oh shit!”, as I jump in the bathroom, before it dawns on me that I can’t keep this a secret anymore.   

1st floor lobby, 21:50 p.m.

              “Wait! It’s not what you think!” my sister manages to catch the door as it closes, coming after me. I brace for this moment. They make me the mad one, it’s just like it was with dad, before he died, when he was having an affair with his second Lieutenant. She was almost half his age, and they made mom doubt herself, made her think she was crazy. It’s not what it looks like. I must be imagining.

              I need a second for myself and I need some fresh air, so I head over to the end of the hallway, with my sister a step behind me. She keeps trying to reassure me that they weren’t doing anything wrong, and just as I reach the door and try to jam it open, she admits it was all a surprise for the wedding day. She tells me how they tracked down the uniform dad wore when he married mom, because Owen found out I slept with their wedding photos under my pillow when I was 4. God, I hope that’s not true. Just as I decide her story makes enough sense for me to head over to her room and hear them out, I manage to pry open the door, and end up staring down at the sea below us, as it turns out the “balcony” is just a narrow gap between the door and a small rail. I instinctively step back, in order to avoid an accident, and my sister reads my gesture as going in for a hug, and tries to embrace me back. I raise my hands to ward her off, but she slips and bumps into me. As I stagger backwards, I feel the rail graze the back of my knee as I fall backwards and manage an “Oh shit!”

***

“Well, the X-Rays look fine, I would just say take it easy for a couple of days, and try to get some rest!” Giorgios, the young doctor turned to face me. I was thanking God in all the languages I knew for making Owen get us extensive insurances for this trip. “I would maybe advise postponing the honeymoon, but I don’t see any reason why you can’t get on with the wedding tomorrow” Giorgios smiled.

Flash Fiction

Hello everybody!

101words.org is looking for writers!

If you enjoy reading flash fiction, you can subscribe and receive their magazine for free!

If you enjoy writing flash fiction, and you think you can do it in EXACTLY 101 words, feel free to submit to their website!

You can find my piece here – https://101words.org/on-the-road-again/ as an example.

If you decide to try your luck and get published, don’t forget to leave me a link to your piece! I would love to read it! 🙂

The Long Lost Mayor – Part 1

Hello dears!

As I have previously mentioned, I will be trying my hand at writing this year. I have a surprise for you all, a short story which will be published this month, and you will have access to it for free, on April 23rd.

Besides that, I am currently working on 2 major stories, and the short story you will read below belongs to the #NewLegendsOfOlympus series. You can check it out on Wattpad, I will leave the link below.

For today, I have prepared the first part of the short story. Enjoy!

As I try to decide what to wear today, I hear Artemis yelling at Athena again. This is not something out of the ordinary, as Artemis seems a bit annoyed since we had to leave the French Alps and move to Italy. You’d really think that living in the country of wine and pasta would have a positive impact on her, but I guess some people are like that. You can’t make them happy, no matter what. If I had to guess, I would say that the reason she is so angry all the time has something to do with that investment banker chick she left behind, but I try not to pry. Too much.

As Athena and Artemis keep shouting to one another, I try to envision myself in pink chiffon, but opt for jeans and a silk blouse. It doesn’t feel like a pink chiffon kind of day. I reach the back of my closet, looking for my black pumps, when I hear Athena yell something about Marco Ricci. I jump at the name, and bang my head against the top rack. I curse and grab the first pair of shoes and make my way downstairs.

“Good morning, everybody! I hope you slept well!” I really, really hope they can’t tell my shoes don’t match my blouse. I should have taken the time to coordinate better, but I need to know what is going on.

“Maybe for you!” Athena answers with a smirk. “Not so much for Ricci.”

“Who?” I ask somewhat absentmindedly as I sit down.

“Marco Ricci. He was in the news last week. Oh wait! I forgot. You only watch Fashion TV.” Artemis throws a newspaper my way and gets up from the table. The front page of the Sicilian newspaper shows a photo of a dark haired man in his 40s, giving a speech. The title proclaims “Sicilian mayor missing.” I skim the article for any more pieces of information. Apparently, the mayor of a little town next to Catania, where we live, was presumably kidnapped by Mafia boss Ernesto Fieri. That seems possible, seeing that Fieri was gonna run against Ricci, having decided that being a mayor would be better for his business. The only problem is, I was on Fieri all night last night. I mean I was surveilling him.

“Ricci’s been missing for a couple of days now,” Artemis says as she pours me a cup of coffee. “It seems like Fieri didn’t want to wait for the elections anymore, and decided he would be sure to win.”

“Are you sure about this? I don’t think it’s in his best interest to have his political opponent go missing like that. I’m sure the other Mafia bosses wouldn’t be too happy if Fieri would ruin their agreements with the police.” I mustn’t let them suspect I know more about this than they do.

“The timing is really odd,” Athena agrees. She reaches for an orange and starts peeling it with her long, French-manicured nails. “It might be Fieri’s lieutenant, Giovanni Capodanno. He stands to gain if Fieri is locked up for this; he could take Fieri’s place as head of the family.”

“I guess you’re right.” I let my words hang in the air. She isn’t right. Capodanno would never speak against his boss; that would literally be suicide. And Fieri’s whole reason for running against Ricci is that he will testify against Luca Romano, another Mafia boss. Fieri’s testimony will lock Romano up for life, so Fieri has made arrangements for his departure from the island. He is trying to keep everybody occupied with his political career, so they won’t look too closely on his other actions. He bought a one way ticket to Brazil two months ago, for an alias he uses. His wife and son are to follow him a month after his arrival, to make sure everything is in order. However, he is unaware that the Brazilian president and the Italian prime-minister are working towards signing an extradition treaty. I am one week away from locking up both Romano and Fieri, but Ricci’s disappearance only complicates things. And where in Hades’ name are my black pumps?

***

If you want to know the ending to the story, follow the link below for the whole story!

https://www.wattpad.com/714233308-the-long-lost-mayor

Have a great day!

I. S. Nichols

Accents 7

“Dana, I have only known you for a month, but you have changed my life forever! I will never be the same!” his voice quivers as he opens the box. “Please, think about our future together! Dana MacArthur, will you marry me?” his voice tells me he panicked and is not very sure of this move, but he is all in. I see my reflection in his eyes and realize I do love him. More than I can say right now. But I cannot give him what he wants.

              “I can’t stay home tomorrow. No more than you can. And I cannot live my life like this, waiting for the moment your boss comes knocking on my door with that flag in his hands.” My voice trails off and my eyes fall on the ring. It is a solitary diamond with a plain band. My dream ring. It looks gorgeous.

              “This was my grandma’s” he says, trying not to make eye contact. “She gave it to me on her death bed and made me promise I will use it when I feel the time is right…I never pictured I would use it like this. She would always say, “When you know, you know!”. I never knew what she meant until today!” he is disappointed and very afraid.

              “I’m sorry Tony! I have to go warn Livy and Josie!” my voice breaks and tears start falling down my face. The whole cab ride over, I think about the first time we met, in the bar. It’s only been a month but it feels like more than a year. Things have changed drastically for the last few days. People are becoming more and more agitated, I knew they were planning something, I just didn’t know what it was.

***

              The Government’s plan worked just as Jose said. The aggressors were infiltrated amongst the peaceful protesters, and they called in the Army. They were under strict orders to evacuate the square, and they managed to do it in record time. The ammo they used certainly helped. It wasn’t war ammo, it was mostly tear gas and rubber bullets. It smelled like the firecrackers I used to smell when I was a kid. I’ll never forget that smell. The result was 5 people dead, of which 2 from respiratory failure, one was hit with shrapnel, which the Government insists was used by the rebels, and 2 people had heart attacks which resulted in death. 58 injured, among which Anthony and myself. I spent the whole evening thinking about him, about us, about what ifs. As I was filming one of the agitators, trying to get a clear shot of him so we can identify him, I was also hit by shrapnel. I lost my balance and fell, next thing I know I was being carried towards an ambulance. I heard his voice as he panicked when he realized it was me. He had a deep cut on his left arm which was bleeding profusely, and another gash above his right eye, but seemed otherwise fine. As he saw me open my eyes he visibly relaxed, and tried to seem friendly. It was over. They won. I would need to leave the country as soon as possible.

Accents 6

 “Wait, you mean Jose is the one who will publish your article? How do you know him?”

“I don’t. Josie gave me his name and phone number, she says she met him when she was covering a story on the construction of the new highway. I got the feeling there was something there!” I smile at him. He makes a face at me and I know what he’s thinking, that Josie is a little weird, but Josie is my friend, so I smack him over the arm. He dances out of reach and I catch myself before I trip.

“They would be a match made in heaven!” he answers. “He’s also a little odd, but I do consider him to be a friend, and I am sure he will help with the article. I’ll give him a call, but he has this code and we’d better talk in person. How about we meet up with him tonight? Order some Chinese, plan our next move?” he grins.

“Plan our next move? What are we, Liam Neeson in Taken?”

***

It’s been one week since the article, and one week since I lost my job… But I don’t care anymore. There is no staying out of it, in the middle of the war. I became a target for the Government, and now they try to discredit me. They even confiscated my passport. Freedom of the press means nothing in the society that they want. And I am more and more convinced that they will get it. The bill proposal will be voted on in two days’ time. And then they will win.

I am trying to sleep, even though it is only 9 o’clock. I noticed this pattern where we go to bed earlier still every day, trying to get more sleep, but we just lie in bed, unwilling to drift off. Anthony’s phone rings and he answers. The lines on his forehead announce bad news. He’s curt and annoyed.

              “That was Jose. He can’t speak, he mostly spoke a code we invented back when we were training for the Navy. He says the Government plans to create a diversion tomorrow, by planting decoys in the protests. They will engage the police and they’re supposed to become aggressive.” He pauses as he sees my reaction, not sure if he should continue. “That’s not all. Jose’s brother called him. He’s in the Army. Everybody got called in today. It’s a coup. Jose said we should lock ourselves in the house tomorrow.” He trails off, following my reaction.

              “I should go home tonight. Livy must be worried. I’ll try to keep her occupied tomorrow. I…”

              “Please don’t…” he hesitates…”I don’t want you to go tomorrow. I want you to stay at home, lock yourself in and not say a word to anybody.” He stands up, opens the sock drawer, and reaches for a pair of black socks. He unrolls the pair and reveals a small jewelry box. He looks up to me with bleak eyes, and I realize he is scared. He doesn’t want to lose me as I don’t want to lose him. But I can’t ask him to remain home with me tomorrow any more than I can stay home myself. A tear rolls down my face as I realize neither of us can stay. We wouldn’t be who we are if we did.               “Dana, I have only known you for a month, […]

Accents 5

I try to make as little noise as possible, so as not to wake him, but when I turn around I see he is awake and staring at the ceiling.

“Good morning, sunshine!” I smile at him.

“’mornin!”

The dark circles around his eyes tell me he still hasn’t gotten much sleep last night. Not that I wouldn’t know! I blush as I think about last night, and he sees me staring at him, so he kisses me and catches me in an embrace, pulling me back to the bed.

“Must…brush…teeth!” I manage to get out, in between kisses.

He laughs and lets me go, muttering something about coffee. I manage to find my toothbrush and some toothpaste and start brushing my teeth. I feel the minty taste of toothpaste and already feel refreshed. As I try to find a dry towel, he comes up from behind me and picks me up and kisses me again.

“Better?” he grins at me.

“Much better!” I smile at him and we kiss again. I try to think about not being able to do this and it makes me sad. He sees me disconnect and I see the question in his eyes.

“It’s just… I was thinking about the bill proposal. What if the Government vote passes?  Can you imagine outlawing feelings? Not being able to express yourself? I mean, I get why they try to do this, but blaming feelings for terrorism and rebellion is just hypocritical. They want to subdue the population, they have managed to get people not to care anymore about anything with their TV propaganda, and now they want to take away every bit of emotion in the world – no music, no art, no love, no nothing. How would that work? Would marriage still be a thing?” I half expect him to try and cheer me up, but I see he is only watching me intently.

“I know what you mean… it gets worse, I just didn’t have the heart to tell you! They will start outlawing books next… As for the art, my boss called me in his office yesterday to ask me to work this weekend – Josh was supposed to, but it’s his wife’s birthday. I agreed, but when I was leaving his office I noticed some papers in his fax machine – it was the fire report from the Central Museum of Art. They mentioned the use of a catalyst, which means that, as I was saying all along, the fire was planted. However, my boss mentioned they found nothing, when I asked him. They are going to get away with this, as they are going to get away with everything!”

“Not exactly…my article was supposed to be published today. Maybe I can quote you as a confidential source.”

“Sure! That sounds good!” He smiled at me as he went to get dressed, but I knew he didn’t believe it would work. I wasn’t sure what I believed anymore.

Accents 4

I throw my pen on Josie’s desk hard enough to knock down her framed photo of her and her brother. She stops typing and turns around to watch me, no surprise showing on her face. She knew this would happen, she warned me to let go, that my boss has a family he is responsible for, and won’t go against the Party anymore.

“He won’t do it! He won’t publish my article on the protests! He says we must be careful what we show to the world, and we should try to get people back inside their houses, so as not to get unwanted attention from the Government…He’s such a weak piece of shit! I bet the Governor threatened him…or his wife! Maybe little Annabelle. He mentioned something about wanting Annabelle to go study abroad, I bet he was preparing for something!”

Josie only nods, having decided not to interrupt me as I have my epiphany. She just nods along, not wanting to say “I told you so!”.

“I’ll just leak the story to one of the websites created for the protests.” There are a couple of them who are really trying to be objective during this whole period, and they would not “butcher” my article too much, in order to gain sympathy for their own political affiliation.

“I know exactly who can help!” quips Josie.

“Great, now you decide to chime in?” I bite at her in frustration. All this work, going out every night after work, going home exhausted, only so we can tell people the truth, and now he decides he can’t risk his job anymore, even though it was his idea in the first place!

She starts typing something furiously, and I decide to go get a cup of coffee. However, as I arrive in the kitchen, I see that the pot if empty again, and nobody bothered to wash it. I grab the pot, rinse it and put it back, I lift the top off the machine and measure 6 tablespoons. I quickly glance at my watch – it’s 5 p.m., everybody will be having long nights tonight. Serves them right for not cleaning the damned thing in the first place. I only meant to measure 4 tablespoons, but somehow my mind started wandering. I have a bad feeling about this Emotion Law, and nobody but Anthony backs me up. Sure, Livy will go protest with me, but I think that’s just her way of disconnecting from her very demanding job. Josie doesn’t believe we are going to succeed anything. And Anthony… well… Anthony is another story. I can’t believe we are so in tune, after only knowing each other for like 5 minutes! As I start pouring myself a cup of coffee, I see Josie coming and pour a cup for her too. She waves me off with a pen in her hand and gives me the piece of paper she was holding. On it is a name, Jose, and a phone number.

“Make sure he knows Josie told you to call him! Just say you need to talk about his niece’s birthday party. That’s his code for the protests. He used to train to become a Navy SEAL and was all about code. Became sort of paranoid in the last couple of years, but with the Government doing what it’s doing, who can blame him?” she paused, thinking for a second, then she took her cup of coffee and started going back to her office. “Gotta go! Andrew is taking me to the Art Museum tonight! There’s an exhibit of the Students’ dissertations, should be fun!”

“Yeah… if you like flowers!” I mutter to myself as I remember Anthony’s story. Speaking of Anthony, today marks a week since our first kiss and two weeks since we met. The deadline for the bill proposal is in two weeks, and I have a very gloomy feeling. The storms in the last days are not helping either, but they don’t stop people from attending the protests. Yesterday, almost a quarter of the city’s population was in the square. People have been gathering outside, every day, for almost a month now, and things are getting worse each day.

Accents 3

This is an excerpt of a short story, please find part 1 here and part 2 here.

I wake up to the buzzing of the coffee press. Livy is snoring next to me, and it takes me a moment to realize where I am. I slip out of Anthony’s sister’s change of clothes and into my jeans and shirt. I run to the bathroom and brush my teeth with my finger. I missed this “high school sleepover” feeling. I finally enter the kitchen to see Anthony hunched above a plate of eggs sunny side up.

“Hi! Sorry, did I wake you? I’m still trying to get used to the espresso maker James bought.”

“It’s all right. I actually slept in. I wouldn’t be much of a journalist if I were up at 10 everyday!”

“Well, today is a special day. The deadline for the Bill proposal is in a month, and even though everybody seems to be against it, I wouldn’t want any surprises! As soon as you guys are ready too, I’m heading back to the square.”

“We’ll join you! I need to finish my piece anyway.”

Accents 2

This is part 2 of a short story I am working on. You can find part 1 here.

“I am really really sorry about that!” I turn around to see him standing there next to me. He gives a 10 to the bartender and says “I’ll have what she’s having!”. Having not ordered anything yet, I feel like it is time for a lesson. I lean over the bar and whisper to the bartender, Dean, to make us two of the most fruity pink tasting all sugar mocktails. He laughs and sends us back to our table.

As we return, Livy is texting somebody, not paying attention to us.

“I never did get your name” he says as we wait for our drinks.

“No.. you didn’t” I say, matter-of-factly. “And you’re not gonna!” I think to myself.

“Well, I’m Anthony. And I really am sorry! I haven’t slept in two days, and I would not blame fatigue for my poor jokes, but I was just so happy with our victory today!”

“So, you really think we have a chance?” I ask, changing the subject.

“Every little counts, especially after last night. Did you hear about the fire at the Central Museum of Art? I was there…I was never a fan of Expressionism, but seeing Starry Night burn before my eyes? I must have looked like The Scream. It’s not right. I have a friend…you might know her, she was in Livy’s art class, Alejandra.” As he says this, he gestures with his head towards Livy. “She was enrolled in a Master of Arts at the University, and she told me they are only allowed to paint flowers for their final project. She’s furious.”

“I never realized things have gotten so far!” I think of my bass guitar back home. I think about not being able to play, and it makes me sad.

Dean comes back with our drinks, looking like a unicorn puked them. Anthony throws me a half smile and says

“If you think something that pink scares me, think again! I grew up with a younger sister. No pink fruity drink is ever going to scare me!” He raises his hand and shows me his pinky finger, with the nail painted a fuchsia color.  “This is Jenny’s work. She wanted to test the color, but didn’t want to spoil her manicure. At least I’m color-coded now!” Livy laughs and I feel a little jealous. I always wanted a big brother to torment.

“So, let me make it up to you for my comment earlier. Let’s go grab a pizza, my treat!”

“Pizza sounds good!” Livy says. “I’ll text Josie, let her know we’ll be late!”.

“No,” I say as I make a face. “If we stay out any longer, we won’t get any cabs tonight. You know they enforced an 11:00 curfew.”

“Even better” Anthony laughs “James is out of town, so I have the apartment to myself. You guys crash with me tonight, and I’ll serve you both breakfast tomorrow morning! Maybe I’ll even get your name!” he grins.

“Oh come on, Dana,” Livy chimes in, “we can come back here tomorrow morning, grab a coffee and go back to the protests. This Emotion Law doesn’t sound too good!”

“Fine!”

Accents 1

Hello everybody! 

I mentioned when, and if, I ever get around to start writing, I will publish my writing here!

Here below is a glimpse at a short story I am working on! More to come next Sunday! Any feedback is welcome, so please let me know in the comments what do you think sould / will happen!

Have a nice week ahead!

We were celebrating the first victory of the year. The governors had decided against the Emotion Law because of the protests in the last few days. Livy was sitting in front of me, sipping her beer and pointing towards something with a cigarette in her hand. We were free. For now, anyway. A tall guy with a strong jawline and baby blue eyes entered the bar. He stopped and grinned when he saw Livy, and started making his way towards our table. I left to grab a drink, realized maybe I was being impolite and came back to hear him talk to Livy.

“So…” he said after he caught her in a bear hug “who’s your friend who’s gonna serve me breakfast tomorrow morning?”

Livy smacked himover the arm and made an apologetic face my way. Who does this guy think he is? God’s gift to women?

“I don’t “do” breakfast!” I answered, slightly annoyed. “I actually came back to ask if I could get you something from the bar, but I see you can’t stay! I’d say it was nice to meet you, but I don’t lie to people as a first impression!” I headed back to the bar, leaving him to collect his jaw from the floor. I honestly don’t know where that came from. I am never confrontational, and the best replies I have are usually at five thirty in the morning, after about two years, when I cannot sleep due to social anxiety. My blood was boiling. Who treats people like that?