Flash Fiction

On Pause

On Pause

I constantly feel like I’m on pause.  My life plans, my goals, my dreams, and even my privacy and space is always sacrificed for someone or something else. The sad part, I’m the one in control. I’m the one that keeps giving up my time, my space, my heart, my dreams and my goals – for others.

How do I fight for me? How do I take back my life? How do I protect it from being hijacked again?

Who is in control of my pause button?

Until tomorrow,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: Blog Post, Destiny, Dream, Fairy Tale, Faith, family, Flash Fiction, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, memes, music, Philosophy, poem, Poetry, Quotes, relationship, Relationships, respect, Song Review, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Joy of Writing

The Joy of Writing

I’ve read many of stories or books that start the title “The Joy of Writing,” but never really consigned myself to the concept.  Writing was anything but a joy. It was exciting, thrilling, frustrating, stressful, mind-blowing, and confusing and every other emotion on the spectrum from one extreme to the other. But, joy?

Do we categorize breathing as a joy? Or how about urination or yawning, or sleeping?  Well, I can see where sleeping might sometimes be a joy.  But how can we categorize natural occurrences, something that so much a part of you and instinctual be considered a joy?    Writing is part of who I am. Constructing a story is a part of my every day, every moment existence. I see the world as one long epic tale, and each major event it’s chapters, and each segment a paragraph, a sentence, or a word. Those moments are what makes up life and as a writer I am a recorder, a scribe, and an observer of life.

I don’t just write for fun, or therapy, or clarity, or need. I write because it’s who I am.  It’s like being a mother. While there are all the books out there in the world that tell us how to be a mother, I found out that being a mother is a natural thing, a instinctual thing.  My choice comes into play by deciding what type of mother to be – nurturing or neglectful, etc.  I am a writer and the only choice I have within this vocation is what kind of writer to be – and if you’ve followed me for any length of time you will find that I am a multiple-faceted writer – a writing diamond. I’ve dabbled in journaling, blogging, novels, novellas, epics,  punditry, op-eds, technical, business professional, auto-biographical, legal, free verse, poetry, screenplays, reviews, editorials, memes, short stories, flash fiction,  and songwriting lyrics. If I think about it, I’m sure I could add a few more in there – but I think you get the picture. Writing is just something I do. It’s natural.

Yet, writing isn’t without its own rules, standards and styles.  So, I have to learn them. Grammar, spelling and punctuation are just basic skills needed to be a writer, because after that comes tense, perspective, pacing, style, structure, threads, inciting scenes, prologues, forwards, and on and on and on.  These are skills developed over time and experience.

So, how is writing a joy?  I suppose the joy of writing is the ability to do it, and love doing it in the first place. I do love writing. It’s a part of me that comes alive and thrives within me. I am a collector of stories, a re-teller of tales, a silver-tongue, a scribe, a keeper of legends. How can one not find joy in that? When we leave this world, all we leave behind is our story.  Who will read it or hear it unless it has been written? I don’t need a Sorcerer’s Stone to make me immortal – I just need to write. While my body will leave this place one day and turn to dust, my stories will remain until it is no longer retold or pages are lost.

That’s one thing that makes me sad – the forgotten of those that were here before.  I sometimes walk graveyards and whisper to the headstones, “Hey, I see your name. You existed. You once were here and you once lived.” I know it’s probably crazy, but I don’t want to be forgotten. I don’t others to be forgotten. I don’t our history to be forgotten. I am an orphan and often feel forgotten in the world, so I write. Oh, the joy of writing.


Till next time,

~T.L. Gray


Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, blogging, Book Review, Dream, Dreams, Fairy Tale, Faith, family, Flash Fiction, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, memes, Muses, music, Musing, Philosophy, poem, Poetry, Quotes, relationship, respect, Review, Romantic, Short Story, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Howl of the Moon Goddess

Howl of the Moon Goddess

Thump. Thump. The speakers vibrate as the heavy bass blares throughout the small apartment. Each beat moves Luna, stirs her soul, and stimulates her imagination.  Her head slightly bobs and she taps her foot to the steady beat, sometimes even moving her shoulders with each progression, but her mind isn’t on the music, she doesn’t even hear the lyrics she finds herself singing.  Her thoughts are on him. They’re always on him, or at least it seems that way to her lately.

“Concentrate, damn it. You’ve got a deadline.”

Luna’s fingers sit idly on the keys as she stares at the empty page on her laptop screen, but she doesn’t even see the white empty space.  She can only see flashes of his black eyes, those mysterious, sexy, exotic eyes, staring at her, undressing her, her wolf hungry and filled with a need to devour.

Butterflies flutter inside her, the music takes her deeper and deeper into her day dream.  She closes her eyes, leans back in her office chair and with the tips of her fingers she lightly touches her forehead, imaging it’s the soft, warm touch of his beautiful full lips.  She moves her middle finger between her brows and down to the tip of her nose and pauses.  She can see him clearly now in her mind.  His forehead rested upon her own and his dark eyes staring into her own, his warm breath upon her own lips, the tip of his nose pressed against hers. One hand cradles her head, while his strong thick thumb slowly rubs against her jawline.  She can feel him peering into her eyes, deeply, beyond her hazel irises and into the very depths of her soul. 

“I love you,” her wolf whispers.

Her breath catches.  She wants to say those three powerful words back to him, but she can’t breathe.  She’s paralyzed, filled with both fear and overwhelming emotion.  She’s longed to hear him say those words, but at the same time doesn’t trust them.  Too many other wolves have said them to only have never meant them, never even knowing the power of what they meant, and in their blindness walked away beneath the power of the moon. Staring into those black eyes, she knows she loves the spirit behind them, more than any wolf she’s ever loved before, yet she knows that someday he too will walk away. The wildness within him will howl, and he will run, just as all the wolves before him.

Warm tears well in Luna’s eyes as she opens them and stares once more at the empty screen in front of her. She covers her face with hands, props her elbows on the end of the table and lets the cries of pain escape through her lips, a howling cry, a wearisome wail. 

Why does she cry?  Luna knows she’s wild, and something truly wild cannot ever be caged, cannot ever be tamed, cannot ever be possessed – only equaled by something just as wild, just as strong, just as powerful, and just as free.  She is a she-wolf that needs to run and not be caged. Her coat is beautiful, yet delicate.  She’s been broken so many times before by violent teeth, iron bars, and messy nets.  She is now tattered, torn, and frail, but she can still run, it’s all she knows.  Her strength comes from the earth.  Her heart comes from the moon.  The stars call to her and guides her toward her destiny.  The waves sing to her, telling her of the deep things.  The wind speaks to her and howls her name.  The rain washes the heaviness from her soul. The thunder and lightning energizes her and fills her with strength.

Luna wipes her face, takes a deep breath, and once more sets her fingers to the keys.  She knows she’s going to run.  Perhaps she knows her wolf won’t run next to her, but she can’t let his choice stop her.  The moon is calling her.  Her destiny awaits her.  She is a she-wolf goddess and her throne waits for her to return. Her scepter is the words she writes.  Her crown is her vision and drive.  It is a heavy crown and comes with much sacrifice, but she knows nothing great comes without a great cost. She also knows to be part of a pack is the easy way for an ordinary she-wolf, but she’s not ordinary and cannot ever be ordinary.

Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.  Luna’s fingers fly across the keyboard.  With each stroke, her heart beats just a little bit faster.  Her hazel eyes widened with excitement.  Her gift flows through her, filling her, stirring her, pouring into her at the same time pouring out through her fingertips. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. The heavy beat of the music behind her moves her, pushes her, builds the moment must like the way her wolf makes love to her… building within her an explosive pressure, leading her toward a great release.

The words pour from her like a great river following around bends, navigating through rocks, and then plunging down over great falls.  Her imagination runs through the forest of fantasy like the spirit of her she-wolf, her feet barely touching the moss-covered ground, her heart racing as she dodges in and out hidden trails, inhaling the earthy scents of the forest, seeing all the vibrant natural colors. How wonderful would it be if another ran and witnessed the same beauty, but Luna knows only a wild wolf possesses such vision.

Ring. Ring.  Luna snaps out of her vision and her fingers rest once more on the keys.  She reaches over and pushes the power button on her iPod and silence fills the air that was just pulsating with heavy bass and erotic, tribal percussions.  Ring. Ring. Ring.

“Hey, babe,” Luna answers, eyeing the name of her wolf flash across the screen of her phone.

The tone of his voice through the phone tingles her ears, much like the way the drum beats just did a few moments ago through the music and she can’t help but smile. His soul draws her out of her imagination, leaving her wild trails to fade back into the recesses of her mind. Her mind now focuses on him, the memory of his touch, the intoxication of his scent, of the wildness inside him that is an explosive combination when it comes together with her own.  His bite is infectious.  His growl is erotic.

“What you doing tonight?” Luna’s nipples begin to ache and her breath shallows. Her soul knows it’s a new moon and she wants to howl tonight, to run and hunt with her wild wolf.

“I’ll be waiting for you.” Luna laid her phone down on the desk, glanced at the black font filling the page and smiled. Her wild-woman hazel eyes glowed as she shut the cover of her laptop. 

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, Fairy Tale, Flash Fiction, Independence, Inspirational, Life, love, Philosophy, Relationships, Romantic, Short Story, Spiritual, Writing | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Mountain Climber

Mountain Climber

Mountain Climber


I’ve started a new chapter. I’m facing a new mountain. I’m not just talking in my novel, but in my life.  How many chapters does that make it now?  How many mountains are behind me? Let’s just say on Sunday I’m turning (45) forty-five.  Wow.  I don’t feel forty-five, and yet I feel like I’ve already lived a hundred lives.  How many times have I started over? How many mountaintops have I crested? I can break my life into several different segments, each filled with adventure and tragedy, love and hate, hurt and healing.  Some of it terrible, but some of it great.  I feel I’m both blessed and cursed.  Where am I now?  What new valley do I enjoy now?  What new mountain do I face to climb?

I look around me and I don’t recognize much of me.  I’m living in someone else’s apartment, surrounded by someone else’s things, in someone else’s town.  At moments, this reality is overwhelming and I cry for my space, I cry for my familiar things stuffed away in some storage unit.  I often feel my life is stuffed away, melting in the heat, locked away, confined, and forgotten. I had begun discovering myself, gathering things around me that were mine.   It’s always “soon” I’ll have my space.  “Soon” I’ll get my things back.  “Soon” I can get back to my life.  Yet, soon keeps getting pushed back one extended lease at a time.  It was just supposed to be for a few months.  In a couple weeks it’ll be a year.  In my experience… soon often never comes. I feel helpless, trapped and wonder how I got here, why I’m here, and how long will I have to stay?

Other times, I’m grateful for where I am, because I’m not alone and I know my best friend and roommate loves me and all the mess that I am.  The confined space is suffocating me, but her presence, her love, and her acceptance helps me when I fall into that panic mode.  I love having her around, I just wish we had a bigger apartment.  Being confined into small places stirs up childhood and other nightmares. Sometimes I can’t breathe and become filled with anxiety.  She also works from home, which means during her work hours (which are late afternoons) our small space becomes even smaller because I have to be quiet and stay in my room. It’s not so bad when I can go outside, go explore my new city, go enjoy the beauty of nature.  But it’s July in Florida and hotter than hell, and being outside during the daytime hours literally makes me sick.  I mean, puking-my-guts-out-and-getting-overheated-or-burned-to-a-crisp sick. My confinement becomes even smaller, and I feel like I’m locked away in a jail cell.  Sometimes I can literally hear the slam of a thick, metal door, and the sound of sliding steel as the lock catches.  Even the door to my bedroom gets stuck sometimes and is hard to open, which causes my feeling of confinement and panic to rise. I know it isn’t real, just a ghost image my mind uses to torture me, but I hear and feel it. 

I miss my things. I miss my space. I miss my kids. I miss the mountains. I miss the woods. I miss a lot of things.  But, I don’t miss the isolation, the feeling of being lost and forgotten and unnecessary. After 20 years of marriage, 18 years of church service.  After two decades of hard work to climb the corporate ladder.  After 25 years of motherhood.  I felt like none of it mattered, all the sacrifice I made was for nothing.  No one cared.  I had nothing to offer anymore, so I wasn’t necessary and became forgotten, tossed aside. I just wanted to be loved, but it seems I could never do enough to earn that from anyone. I walked away, and no one stopped me from leaving.  Then my body turned on me too.  I hit bottom a couple years ago, as low as one could go.  I faced death, and he almost won, but he didn’t.  I’ve been fighting to pick myself up from those deep trenches, ever since.  I can’t express or explain or even describe what it’s like to prepare to die.  I didn’t prepare, I imploded. But this blog post isn’t about staying in that dark place.  On the contrary, I’ve posted all the darkness above to lead to this point so that you can see the light.  There is light, there is hope, and there is freedom.  Yes, I’m still in a small confined place, and some days it’s very over-whelming.  BUT, I’m also in a good place because the doors are not locked.  I am not alone.  I will have my space, but this time it won’t be a place of darkness, of sadness, or of loneliness.  I just have to hold on for a little while longer, and “soon” will happen before I know it.  Yes, I’ll still have days of panic.  Yes, I’ll still have days of extreme anxiety.  But, I don’t have to face those days alone.  I still miss my kids, but they’re grown and living their lives without me and finding their way in this world.  My ex-husband has now remarried.  My ex-church has accepted the new couple and replaced me very easily.  My ex-in-laws now have a daughter-in-law in whom they can be proud.  Those chapters in my life are now closed.

So, yes, I’m starting a new chapter.  As with every new chapter, it takes a little while before you get to the inciting scene, the moment when everything changes.  The beginning of a climb is often slow and the size of the mountain seems overwhelming and a huge obstacle.  It won’t be until I reach near the summit before I will feel victorious, but I have my eyes locked onto my goal, onto my target, and though it will be a difficult climb and push me to the edges of my strength and will, I will succeed.  Do you know how I know?  Because this isn’t the first mountain I’ve climbed, nor is it the biggest or toughest mountain I’ve faced.  The biggest difference …I’m not climbing on my own.  I have two wonderful people in my life right now that have their own climb to make and we’re climbing together.  This time, I’m there to lend a hand when they need it, and to grab a hand when I need one.  I don’t know what struggles tomorrow holds, and I’m sure there will be many, all I know is that I don’t have to face them alone. 

Till next time,

~Mountain Climber

Categories: Blog Hop, Faith, Flash Fiction, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Inspirational, Life, love, Muses, Philosophy, Poetry, relationship, Review, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Weaver of Words

Weaver of Words

Sometimes it seems my life is stuck in a rut and refuses to move either to the left or right, keeping me circling the same tree over and over and over again. Other times it moves so fast I think if I blink I’m going to miss the thousands of things flying by in a rapid pace. That seems to be the way it’s been these last few weeks.  So many new things have happened I can barely recognize my life or what it had been just a couple months ago.

With all the thousands of ideas moving in, out and around me, I’m taking a quick step back to see if I notice a pattern. I usually can’t see the image when I’m up close or right in the middle of a thought.  Some pictures need a wider view.  So, what are these patterns I’ve been noticing?  What are the words, thoughts, and meditations that’s been coursing through my mind of late?  What do they mean? What are they trying to tell me? Where do they lead? Most importantly, which ones do I listen to and which do I ignore? Whew, I’m getting a bit overwhelmed just thinking about them.

I’ve been on a journey lately, one of the mind, most importantly, one of the soul.  My imagination has been soaring to distant worlds, floating on different planes, seeking wisdom and enlightenment in understanding.  Here are some of the quotes that have motivated me lately. Here are few words of wonder.


“Sometimes you have to stop being scared and just go for it.  Either it will work out, or it won’t. That’s life.”

“Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.”

“Never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you were meant to do.”

“The Buddhists say if you meet someone and your heart pounds, your hands shake, and your knees go weak, that’s not the one.  When you meet your soul mate, you’ll feel calm. No anxiety. No agitation.”

“Find someone you can be completely free with; sexually, spiritually, emotionally, physically, and cosmically, and go freaking WILD.”

“Find a heart that will love you at your worst and arms that will hold you at your weakest.”

“You cannot force someone to comprehend a message that they are not ready to receive.  Still, you must never underestimate the power of planting a seed.”

“I’m very picky with whom I give my energy to. I prefer to reserve my time, intensity and spirit exclusively to those who reflect sincerity.”

“We’re so busy studying and seeking to find our life’s mission, let us not forget to look around and simply ask, “How can I help?”

“I admire people who choose to shine even after all the storms they’ve been through.”

“I love you neither with my heart nor my mind. My heart might stop, and my mind can forget.  I love you with my soul because my soul never stops or forgets.”

“A person’s actions will tell you everything you need to know.”

“You deserve the love you keep trying to give everyone else.”

“I don’t want a perfect life; I want a happy life.”

“Whatever you do, never run back to what broke you.”

“On this road called life, you have to take the good with the bad, smile with the sad, love what you got and remember what you had. Always forgive, but never forget. Learn from mistakes, but never forget. People change. Things go wrong. But just remember, the ride goes on.”

“When you connect with people who are good for you, you feel it.  This is a big deal. Don’t forget to acknowledge how great it is to be around someone who lights you up. Tell them, even if you feel a little weird. Your people love your weirdness.”

“When you kiss someone and you stop kissing them for second and smile, and then kiss again… I can’t think of something more beautiful than that.”

“Let your weird light shine bright so the other weirdos know where to find you.”

“I think it’s important to realize you can miss something and not want it back.”

“You don’t know this new me; I put back my pieces differently.”


I think you’re starting to get the picture.  Well, I hope I’m able to get the picture, because those are some amazing clues.  I’m still digesting, still trying to wrap my mind around what it all means, what it’s trying to tell me, what I need to hear.  I may not know the whole extent of it at this moment, but I already know it’s all good.

I’ve smiled more in the last few weeks than I have in a very long time.  Sometimes I get a little sad when I think back to other times I used to smile so much it made my cheeks hurt.  Those times, those memories, those associated with those memories will always be precious to me.  But, this is a new day, a new time, and a new season to smile. I’ve cried enough.  Joy comes with the morning, and baby… the sun is rising.

“I’ve got a pocket, got a pocket full of sunshine.”

I don’t know what tomorrow holds. I don’t know what’s in store for me. Maybe it’s a great adventure. Maybe it’s a great love affair. Maybe it’s a new page to a new story.  Whatever it is, however weird it is, I’m ready and I want it.

Till next time,

~Weaver of Words of Wonder




Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, blogging, Flash Fiction, Life, love, Muses, Philosophy, poem, relationship, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Good Morning, World – 04-23-2014 – Say Something


Lately, I’ve had a few conversations with some of my closest friends about the subject of not being guaranteed a tomorrow. It creates a need to be appreciative and a desire to express love while there’s still time.

My heart overflows with love and admiration to those who own a piece of it.  They’re precious to me.  I can’t describe the depth of my love for them, because it’s bigger than me, more beautiful than any word I know.  They are a bright spot in a dark world, a warm beam of sunlight in a field of ice.

I am rich because I possess the greatest treasure this world has to offer – I am loved, and am able to love in return.  This world is hard and angry.  I taste its bitter tang every day.  I see its vicious negativity as it tries to pull me down into its depth and snuff out my bright spots. The toxicity of negativity, pain, and victimhood is detriment to my joy and happiness and I choose to push that negativity away from me like a deadly disease.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: Blog Post, Flash Fiction, Inspirational, Musing, Philosophy, Writing | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Say Something

Say Something


*An Adventures of Jude and Tammy story*

Tammy slowly swung back and forth, the tips of her sandals gliding through the sand.  She looked up, hearing Jude’s voice across the playground.  He laughed and chased Katy around, trying to place a ladybug in her hair, knowing she was scared of them.  Tammy smiled and kicked off to make her swing go faster, higher. 

Katy’s squeals echoed off the brick wall of the school. “Jude, stop!”  She ran into the circle of her other friends.  “Help me, Alex, Chris, Rob.”

The three friends circled around Katy and then grabbed hold of her.  The tall skinny boy named Chris blurted out, “I’ve got her, Jude.  Do it!”

The five friends squealed and laughed in their circle as Jude pretended to place the ladybug in Katy’s hair. Tammy giggled watching the chaos from the swings.  Katy frantically searched through her hair for the bug and everyone else busted out laughing. Chris and Jude fell to the ground holding their stomachs, Alex giggled into her pig tails and Rob shook his head.  They then launched into a game of tag, covering the entire playground.

Tammy swung higher and higher, closing her eyes so she could feel the catch in her stomach as her swing fell back down to the earth after soaring high into the wide blue sky.  The warm rays of the sun kissed her cheeks with a light burn.  Her pale, porcelain skin always turned pink when exposed and caused a patch of freckles to appear across her nose.  A soft, sad song played in her mind as she lost herself in the swing.

“Hey, Tammy!”

She opened her eyes just as she reached the apex of the back swing and then smiled as she soared toward Jude standing beside the swings, his hands cupped over his brows like a visor to block the sun from his eyes.

“Hey, Jude.” It took a couple passes, her toes running through the sand to bring the swing to a stop.  “What’s up?”

“You should have seen it, Tammy.  I pretended to put this bug in Katy’s hair and she went all crazy. It was so sweet,” Jude told her as his eyes sparkled with excitement.

“I saw it,” Tammy responded.

“Did you see how she screamed? She sounded just like you when you scream.”

Tammy nodded.  The bell rang, indicating the end of recess.

Jude turned his attention to the school and then back at Tammy.  “Well, I’ve got to go.  I’ll see you tomorrow.”

With a small wave, Tammy responded, “Bye, Jude.”  She walked slowly into the building with a huge lump in her throat.


Tammy hung upside down on the monkey bars.  She closed one of her eyes and held out her tiger-eyed marble, catching a ray of the late summer sunshine in it and it sparkled.

Jude walked up beneath her.  “Hey, you still got that thing?”

“Yeah, why wouldn’t I?”

“Can I borrow it?”

Tammy wrapped her fingers around her marble and scrunched her brows at Jude.  The pressure in her brain grew heavy from being upside down for too long, so she pulled herself up and sat on top the bars.  “Why?”

“Chris wanted to play a game but I didn’t have a shooter.  We can play if I borrow yours.”  Jude held out his hand.

Opening her hand, Tammy looked down at her most precious treasure and then at the marble in her hand.  She bent down, placing the tiger-eye into Jude’s hands. “Take care of it.”

Without looking back, Jude took off running toward his group of friends and waved over his head, “Thanks, Tammy.”

Her fingers ached where the marble had once sat.  She closed her eyes to stop the tears that wanted to fall.


Watching the pretty pink ink flow across the paper, Tammy carefully formed each of her letters.  Her teacher told her earlier that day she had the best penmanship in the class and her stories were very imaginative.  She lay in the grass, swaying her legs back and forth behind her as she scribbled words across the lined page.  The black beetle scurried across the moss-covered log.

A ball bounced onto her paper, causing her to mess up the letter-g.  She raised her head and shouted, “Hey, watch where you throw your balls!”

Jude ran up, his steps crunching over the fallen autumn leaves and grabbed the ball.  He looked down and said, “Sorry, Tammy.  I didn’t see you laying there. Your brown sweater camouflaged you.”   He cocked his head to the side.  “What are you doing?”

“I’m writing a story,” Tammy answered.  “It’s about that time at the start of school …”

“Jude, come on!” Chris yelled from across the playground.

“See you later,” Jude said and took off running.

“… that we saw a black beetle in the woods,” Tammy finished saying.  She closed her notebook and placed her face into the crook of her arms and cried.


The cold winds came and snow fell, making the playground look like a winter wonderland.  Tammy loved her pink coat, boots, hat and mittens.  They had been an early Christmas gift from a grandmother she didn’t know who lived in the city. It was the last day of school before the winter break.

Tammy stepped through the snow until she came to the familiar plastic tunnels.  She liked to crawl into the end of the one placed by the edge of the playground where the other kids rarely played.  She liked to write there, free from the sounds of laughter, the wayward ball, the stares, or simply the sight of anyone else.  She crawled inside and pulled out her tattered notebook, now almost full of her stories.  She pulled out her pink pen that was now almost empty of ink and began to write.

The princess swung her sword and slayed the mean dragon, saving the kingdom.

“What’cha you doing in here?”

Tammy looked up, surprised to see Jude peering into the edge of the tunnel.  “I’m writing.”

“You’re still doing that?” Jude slid into the end of the tunnel and sat next to her.  “What are you writing about?”

Tammy blinked.  Her bottom lip trembled.  She snapped her book shut and said to Jude, “I missed you.”

Jude looked up at her and answered, “What are you talking about? I’ve been right here.”

She shook her head.  “No, you haven’t.”

He smiled. “You’re being silly, Tammy.  I see you every day.”

“No, you haven’t seen me in weeks.  You haven’t played with me or talked to me.”  She stuffed her book and pen into her pocket and climbed over him to get out of the tunnel.

Jude sat there quietly and stared at Tammy.  Confusion covered his face.

“Say something …” Tammy started, but then snapped her lips shut.  Tears sprang into her eyes.  “I was your best friend and would have followed you anywhere.”

“You are my best friend,” Jude muttered.

“You forgot me.” Tammy shook her head.  “I gave up on you when you took my marble and never gave it back.”

“It was just a stupid marble.  I’ll get you another one,” Jude said.

Tears coursed down Tammy’s face.  “It was mine and precious to me. You were precious to me.”

Jude pulled himself out of the tunnel and crossed his arms over his chest.  “You’re being such a girl, Tammy.”

“I am a girl.”  Tammy turned away and started walking away. “Good-bye, Jude.”


Till next time,

~T.l. Gray

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One Hell of a Ride

This is a short story I posted for a contest. It contains characters of other stories I’ve posted here, but older. It didn’t win, but I thought I’d share it here.  Enjoy.



Story prompt.

Story prompt.


Pushing through the thick brush, Tammy shivered as a lone wolf’s howl rent the air, causing chill bumps to pop up all over.  The silvery moonlight covered everything with a shimmering film, as a thick, green fog slivered across the ground.


“Let’s get the hell out of here,” Jude whispered behind her.  “Why can’t we just go back to the campsite?”


Tammy felt something strong draw her into the woods.  “I have to do it.” She knew the answer to her escape lay ahead, somewhere in a legend.


Jude growled.  “I don’t understand why you have to do this.  You’ve got nothing to prove to anyone, me most of all.”


“It’s not about you.”  Tammy stopped, turned and faced Jude.  She reached out and placed one of her hands on the side of his strong, bold face.  “You’ve made your choice, now it’s time for me to make mine.”


Pushing forward, the sound of crickets and the smell of stagnant water assaulted Tammy’s senses as she sloshed through the soggy moss and putrid swampland.  Her breath caught as she pushed through a tangle of dead branches and the skeletal giant of twisted, rusted iron appeared before her, like a ghost forming out of the mist.


“Holy shit!” Jude exclaimed from behind her.  “That’s jacked up.”


Feeling her lips spread into a wide smile, Tammy answered, “I think it’s beautiful.”


“What the hell is a rollercoaster doing out in the middle of a swamp?”  Jude scratched his head.  “This isn’t right.  This whole thing smells wrong.”


Tammy marched forward, walking between the legs of the coaster, which were buried deep into the soggy earth.  She stared at the rusted frame above her.  Jude followed close behind.


“This is the way out,” Tammy said as she climbed a set of rickety stairs to the tall launch platform.


“That’s ridiculous, Tammy.  This is a roller coaster.  It doesn’t go anywhere but in the same loop.  It ends up where it begins.”   Jude stood on the platform and pointed out into the foggy distance. “There’s nothing out there.”


Tammy placed a kiss on Jude’s soft lips and then stepped into the front car.  She sat down and pulled the rusted safety bar into her lap.  She looked back at Jude.  “No, that’s not true.”  Squeezing the bar with her sweaty hands, she said, “Staying where we are, going around in the same circles is where nothing lives.


This…” She nodded toward the rusted track.  “…this is where living happens.”


Jude clenched his jaw and ran his hands through his hair.  “That coaster is nothing but ups and downs, curves and hills.  It doesn’t go any fucking where.”


“It’s life, Jude.”  Tears welled in the corner of Tammy’s eyes.  “It’s living.”


Shaking his head, Jude answered.  “No, Tammy.  That’s nothing but a rusted track.  You could die out there.  Just get the fuck out and come back with me to camp.”


Warm tears slid down Tammy’s cheeks.  “I’m sorry, Jude, but I can’t go back.  Being in that swamp, in that fog, in those woods …that’s not living, babe.  We’re lost.  We don’t know where we are, how we got here, but I can’t stay.”  She wiped her cheek and nose with her shoulder as she gripped the lap bar. “This is the way out, I know it.”  She looked up into his hazel eyes.  “Please, come with me. I love you.  I need you.”


Jude took a step back and shook his head.  “I can’t.  I’m not ready for this. I need… time.”


Tammy closed her eyes, pushing more tears from beneath her lashes.  “I don’t understand, but I can’t make you choose.”


The coaster creaked and then roared to life.  The metal rollers screeched across the rusted iron rails like the call of a banshee as it shifted and lunged forward into a slow crawl.  Tammy looked back at Jude, “I will love you forever.”


“Please stay.”


The coaster entered the upward climb.  Her legs shook in nervousness, her teeth chattered, and her heart pounded against her chest. She held her breath, not being able to breathe as the coaster reached the top of the summit.


At the pinnacle, she met deathly silence as the coaster came to a full stop.  She looked over the side and below her a green fog hovered over the ground, exposing only the tallest peaks of the coaster.  She saw no woods, no swamp, no platform, no Jude.


The coaster inched forward.  She gripped the lap bar as her fear reached its apex.  She let out a long, slow breath, released her grip on the safety bar and lifted her arms into the air above her head.


The coaster lunged forward and then plunged into an endless dive.  Tammy screamed as loud as she could, releasing all the pain, fear and helplessness bottled inside.  Every moment of rejection escaped into the air, and for once she felt truly free as the coaster raced along the rails.  She would not close her eyes.  She would not grab hold for safety.  She wanted to fly, and that’s exactly what she did.


The dark green-gray sky turned to a bright-brilliant blue.  The rancid reek of swamp melded into the salty tang of sea spray.  The empty, hollow howls of lone wolves became replaced by the gleeful screams and peals of laughter from fellow coaster riders. Tammy grabbed the lap bar as the coaster came into the bay and stopped at a freshly painted platform.  As she stepped from the car, she felt the dark memories of a beautiful pair of hazel eyes evaporate from her mind.  A lone image standing on a haunted platform faded into a silver mist.


“Tammy!” A bubbly girl ran up to her and draped her arm over her shoulder.  “So, how was the ride?”



Tammy felt as if she left something important behind, but she couldn’t remember what she forgot.  She smiled. “That was one hell of a ride.”


Till next time,

~T.L. Gray


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