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Meanmna: Book One of the Daearen Realms


Friday December 12, 2014

“That’s it! I can’t study! Time for a non-fat quad vanilla latte!” I said it with flair, tossing my book across the room and jumping on my bed, almost hitting my head on the low, angled ceiling. I wasn’t ten anymore and I needed to stop doing that, but who doesn’t like jumping on beds, right?

“Quit being so dramatic, Sarette. It can’t be that difficult.” Mathew grabbed my math book, tossing it to land perfectly in the middle of the desk with a thump. “Yeah, I’m sure you’re never going to finish without a cup of coffee, and you probably need to go get a new candle.” I couldn’t quite hear the rest of whatever he said, but he mumbled something about having a crazy chick for a best friend.

“I just need to get everything in order—and, then I can get focused,” I said.

Mathew stood up, stretching out his six-two frame, purposefully smacking his hands on the low ceiling just to startle me. I jumped, as I always do when he does that. “You know they have medicine you can take for OCD, right?”

“Quit being a dick.” I stood and put my hands on my hips. “I told you I needed coffee hours ago.” I looked at him—beautiful and perfect, with his dark brown hair and aqua blue eyes. He had filled out this summer, too. He had gone away on vacation as a tall, skinny, dorky kid and somehow came back still dorky, but a rather reasonably-built man, or at least well on his way to becoming one. Too bad we’ve known each other since we were in diapers. You can’t have feelings for someone you’ve known that long. It’s kind of creepy, not unlike those people who counted the days until Miley Cyrus or Selena Gomez turned eighteen.

“Earth to Sarette.” Mathew was holding my coat in his outstretched hands. “Where’d you go this time?”

“Nowhere. Just remembering when you peed in my bed.” I grabbed my coat from him and ran down the stairs from my attic bedroom.

“I was three, and that was fourteen years ago!” I heard him shout as I went down another flight of stairs and rounded the corner to the kitchen.

“Hi, Mom.”

My mother was leaning back on our farmhouse sink, holding her iPad. If I had to guess, she was playing Words with Friends. “Hey sweetie, I thought you needed to study.” A giant boom sounded through the house, shaking the doors of the china cabinet. Mom looked up and yelled, “Mathew Michael Conner! You are too big to be jumping down the stairs! You’re gonna break my house!”

With a sheepish grin he rounded the corner into the canary yellow kitchen. “Sorry, Mom.” He leaned over to kiss her on the cheek.

When I say leaned over, I mean it. At barely five feet tall, Mom looks like a little person next to him. I wish I looked like her. Shanna Miller was blessed with black hair, but hers was so black that it didn’t look natural—it looked like something that came from a bottle of dye. Her dark blue eyes always seemed a little sad. I’m not as lucky; I have sandy brown hair, perpetually frizzy and overly thick, and hazel eyes that change color with my mood, or at least it seems that way. I’m not as short as my mom; I’m five-foot-six, but at least I got her curves.

“Need. Coffee. Now,” I spoke my best approximation of a robot with my arms moving mechanically. I’m such a geek.

Mom didn’t need to hear about the candle. She hated all that stuff and absolutely forbade me to play around with “things beyond my understanding”, whatever the hell that means. I hated lying to her, but I tried to rationalize that I wasn’t really lying, I was omitting. Integrity can be a bitch, though. How would I feel if someone intentionally left out critical information when I asked them a question? Yes, omission is lying, but I have a ton of crap to do. I can’t get anything accomplished unless everything is just the way I need it. It just is what it is. Maybe Mathew is right about my having OCD.

With a quick turn to the kitchen island, I grabbed Mathew’s keys off the counter and yelled “Shotgun!”

“You don’t need to call shotgun when it’s only the two of us. Besides, I think you should drive. I’ve got a date later that I have to get ready for.”

Yup, that’s right. It’s Friday and MMC has things to do. His newfound good looks make Friday the day that we don’t hang out anymore. “Are you to the S’s yet? You seem to be working your way through the senior class girls pretty efficiently—so efficiently I might think you have a plan of sorts.”

I stopped talking and took in Mom’s and Mathew’s responses, both of their mouths dropping open at my accusation. “What? Come on. There must be a plan involved. Start with the A’s and work your way to the Z’s. Or, begin with the brunettes over five-foot-five and then on to blonds over five-foot-five. I don’t know how you are deciding who is next, but there is a plan. I just haven’t figured it out yet.” Truth be told, I know I am the only person in the world who could say that to Mathew, and I know I’m pushing it.

“Just because you can’t get a date doesn’t mean I need to be antisocial too.” Now Mathew was pushing it.

“Thanks for keeping it classy.” I shrugged away the hurt, set down his keys, and grabbed mine.

“You two crabby pants need caffeine and it’s on me.” Mom padded over to her imitation Coach purse to fund our caffeine mission. She searched through her wallet, made a slight shrug, grabbed a fifty, and handed it to Mathew. “You can keep the change for your date. And try not to be out too late,” she said with a smile. “Sarette, your curfew is 11 p.m. and please only go to the coffee house,” she said with a don’t-even-think-about-going-anywhere-else look in my direction. “Now, both of you say I’m sorry to each other and get moving. I’m going to take a bath. I’ll probably be asleep when you get back, so goodnight,” she said while heading to her bedroom, probably looking forward to a couple hours by herself. “Oh, and Mathew, please tell your mom to call me tomorrow. Love ya, guys.” As she shut the door, it felt like she was pushing us out of the house. But after seventeen years as a single working mom, she deserved whatever she wanted.

We looked at each other and simultaneously said, “You’re sorry,” then raced toward each other yelling, “Jinx, pinch, poke! You owe me a Coke.” Pinching and poking ensued. I think between Mathew, Mom, Mama, and me, we owe ourselves around forty-eight kabillion or so Cokes, although my math might be off a bit. I looked at Mathew’s stupid “I won” smirk, but I could not stay mad at him. I stuck my tongue out at him instead. We’ve known each other our entire lives and my life story is woven with our shared experiences—good, bad, and indifferent— we share a bond that I suspect even real siblings don’t have together.

Our shared lives started on day one of our existence. Looking into the nursery from the outside, our moms met while in the hospital on December 21, 1998. Both were looking fondly at their newly-born babies lined up next to one another in little Plexiglas cribs—each of us wrapped in hospital-issued blue, white, and red-striped blankets. I guess our moms bonded because they were both alone in the hospital, neither of our fathers stuck around and neither had any other family. They were both twenty-something single parents alone in every way until they found each other. They instantly became best friends.

At the hospital, Mom invited Mama and Mathew to stay with us until they got on their feet. Mom had just inherited a large home from her parents in Adrian, Michigan and there was plenty of room for all of us. We were practically raised as siblings. Early on, we started calling Mathew’s mother “Mama” and my mother “Mom” to distinguish between the two. As luck would have it, the house next door went up for sale right after we were potty trained. Mama and Mathew were able to have their own place while we all still had our family unit. It was a win-win.

“Let’s go! It’s freezing out here.” I reached for the car door handle on the driver side.

“I don’t have to go out tonight.” Mathew folded his hand on top of the hood and looked guilty. “Do you want me to cancel my date? I didn’t know it bothered you so much.”

“Dude, it’s all good. Just a mini pity party for me—I’m over it. I’m just destined to hit refresh on Facebook while bouncing between Words with Friends and Dice with Buddies. Enough of my fabulous Friday night plans—let’s go.” I slinked into the car.

“Are you sure?” Mathew got in and closed the passenger door behind him.

“Yes, I’m fine. You should go get ready for your date. I have to get to the store before they close, so I’m going to head there before I get coffee.”

“I really am sorry . . . I was just trying to be funny with the whole antisocial thing.”

“Ha, ha, ha. Mathew it’s only a joke if the other person laughs . . . I said I was fine. Seriously, dude, I’m just pickier about who I will go out with. That’s why I’m not going out. You, on the other hand, apparently are using a systematic, almost mechanical approach to who you date. Just to be clear, I turned down Shane today for winter formal and I’m—”

“You what? Why did you say no? I don’t get it.” He leaned back against the seat with a look of disbelief.

“I’m not interested in dating the ‘most popular guy in school,’” I said as I used my fingers as quotation marks. “He just wants to see me naked. Like I said, not interested.”

“You’re weird. Are you really stopping to get candles first?” he sighed.


“Is it going to be quick?”

“I’m going to take a long as I need to make it right. Why?”

“Well, I could use coffee but I have some homework to do and I have to get ready. I think I’m going to bail. Is that cool?”


“I’m going home.” Mathew reached for the passenger handle and sprung out of the car. “Love you!”

“Love you, too. Have fun! But, not too much fun. I have no desire to be an aunt yet!

“Bitch!” he exclaimed.


With a giggle and a smile, the fight was over. Mathew ran across the lawn and went into his house as I started the car. Darn it, I should have started it already. The windows were solid ice. I went back into the house to stay warm while the windows defrosted. When I walked into the living room, I noticed the picture of my dad was gone off the mantle. Mom is crying again, I thought and turned around. I went back outside and got in my cold car. It whined loudly in protest as I backed out of the driveway.

My Website: http://emmygatrell.com/

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Book Link : https://www.amazon.com/Meanmna-Book-One-Daearen-Realms/dp/0991285115?ie=UTF8&ref_=tmm_pap_title_0

Excerpt from Love, With All My Heart








by Anna Gorman

Chapter One


His voice sounds like a knife scratching a plate. Why is his voice in my living room? My space? My head? The TV! Damn that television and damn his commercials. With a smile on my face, I put my middle finger up in the air to his face as I jerk the plug from the wall. Forget the damn remote. The only thing stopping me from throwing the massive contraption out the window? TV isn’t mine. What gets me is how many people flock to his station because he’s a “handsome guy”. Too bad they really don’t know how much of an asshole he, my ex-husband Trenton Pritchard, is.

Unfortunately, he is a very public person since he is the President and General Manager of TGP Media Group. Or as most people in the Portland area know him, the face of Channel 8, and he’s on TV frequently. “Mine, Analind, you are mine,” echoes in my head, but I push his nasty words to the back of my thoughts.

I pick up my cell phone from the table and scroll through the contacts to call my roommate and hit send. The line rings twice.

“Hey, girl. I was getting ready to call you. I just went on break. What’s up?”

“Hey. I just wanted to give you a call to let you know that I’m going to The Grotto and then I might drive around. Today is a day of change. I feel like something is right around the corner, and I’m going to find it,” I rush out. Today is the day something positive is going to happen.

“Good luck! I’ll be thinking about you.”

“Thank you. What time are you off work?”

“I should be home around five thirty or six. Depends on how crazy it gets after lunch.”

“Sounds good. I’ll be home by then, or should be. Talk to you later. Love ya.”

“Love ya. Bye,” she says, hanging up the phone.

I put my phone in my purse, grabbing my keys off the table by the door, and head downstairs to my car after locking the apartment. On my way down the stairs, I think about how amazing of a person my best friend is. I’ve known Kendra since middle school, and we live in a two-bedroom apartment in Kearny on the Westside of downtown Portland in the Knob Hill area.

As I’m driving to The Grotto, rain starts to gently fall, and I think of all the events that have happened over the past year. Events that have happened in my life that allow me to come to The Grotto once again, actually allow me to have a life again. I don’t think it would be possible to be where I am today without Kendra’s help.

She helped me leave Trenton when I broke down and told her what had happened and had been happening. I didn’t want to make a massive production of my failed marriage, and I felt it wasn’t the world’s business of what happened behind closed doors. Kendra showed up to help me pack and took me to her place. After a few hours of tears and comforting, I was on my way out of a kind of marriage no one should have to live in.

After some time away from Trenton and a few sessions with Dr. Soden, I learned how much I actually survived through. I endured years of mental abuse, abuse that at first I didn’t think of it being that, just bluntness. Add in the revelation of Trenton’s infidelity, I knew it was time for me to leave the marriage that I once loved.

Trenton laughed in my face when I first filed for divorce, and he refused to sign the petition. Once he forced my hand and learned that I knew about the women he had slept with, he changed his view. If word of the scandal got out, it could ruin his company and the careers of the women he was with—station whores.

We had a prenup, and he didn’t have to pay much to kick me to the curb. I felt like in the end, I didn’t know the man I’d been married to. Within a few weeks, the divorce was final because there isn’t a minimum of ninety days waiting period in the State of Oregon if you meet all the requirements, and it helps to know judges in the right places. Trenton wanted the divorce over quickly as he’s a very impatient man.

Once the ink was dry, all I was worth was a new car and twenty thousand, and that’s not much in Portland especially when you don’t have a job. I’ve been living off the money for the past year and would be homeless if it wasn’t for Kendra, and luckily she’s been supportive of me. She hasn’t been pushy about me getting a job or forcing me into situations that I haven’t been ready to put myself into, but that’s changing today.

I push the thoughts of my past out of my head as I pull into the parking lot. Only three spots in the vast lot have occupants, so I park in the closest spot to the trail that will lead me to Mary. As I get out of my car, I notice the rain has stopped falling, but everything is wet, and dampness clings to the air around me as I walk down the paved path.

The prayer area of The Grotto is void of anyone praying at the foot of the statue. I kneel and the coldness of the wet stone penetrates through the thin leggings to my skin, but I push the coldness to the side and start saying my prayers. I can feel Mary taking me into her arms, holding me close to her heart. Her strength, love, and most definitely her courage is pouring into me, reassuring me that I made the right decision, and letting me know that I will be okay. I will be complete again. I’m so much closer than I was a year ago.

The April rain starts to fall with gentleness around me, and at one time the rain used to hide my tears. Now, the rain is a comfort to me as I feel it touch my skin, reminding me I’m no longer living in that nightmare.

I say a few more prayers, “Mother Mary, thank you for everything I have, listening to me, and comforting me all these months. Thank you…”



The Ring – by Ica Iova





 Forty-five minutes had passed and not a single call. Nights like this made Julian mad because, like everyone else, he relied on every penny. He had come here from a village with gravel roads, two-way streets and one working traffic light, and he wasn’t always a cab driver. A few job applications later, he was holding the keys to a company van with Coroner stickers on it, and for eleven years, he had carried dead bodies.

A dog’s bark interrupted Julian’s thoughts. He opened the window and shivered. It seemed colder than expected for an early fall, and a layer of thin frost had already covered the ground.

The dispatcher’s voice boomed through the CB radio breaking the silence and startling

Julian. “I need someone at 2117 David Drive.”

Julian reached for the microphone. “201. I am close.”

“10/4,” the dispatcher’s voice scratched through the line.

Julian turned onto the poorly illuminated one-way street when the dispatcher’s voice rumbled again. “201, David Drive canceled.”


“Sorry about that,” the dispatcher apologized.

Julian shook his head and made a turn for the main road.

A woman emerged from the cemetery and flagged the approaching cab. She seemed young – dark hair, immaculately dressed. Quite attractive from what Julian could tell. The whitest skin he had ever seen. 

Probably one of those supermodels—doesn’t want to be seen in public.

“River Road, please,” she said settling into the passenger’s seat.

A foul smell entered the cab and Julian grimaced. “What number?” he asked throwing the car into gear.

She seemed puzzled. “What?”

“The number… on River Road?”

“Oh… um… I’ll show you,” she said then turned toward the window. Clearly she wasn’t interested in talking.

Julian opened his window to get rid of the familiar stench. Though he had been in close contact with dead bodies, he could never grow accustomed to the smell.

“I hope my window doesn’t bother you. Probably some dead animal that has drowned in the canal.”

The young woman nodded but remained silent.


“You can drop me over there,” she said pointing to an empty parking lot.

Julian cocked an eyebrow, knowing that the factory had closed a while ago. “Are you sure?”

“Yes,” she replied, searching for something in her purse. “I think I lost my wallet.” She pulled a ring off her finger. “Here, take my ring, and I’ll pay you tomorrow,” she said, holding out her ring.

“I-I can’t take your ring.”

She searched her purse again and pulling out a piece of paper and a pen, she scribbled something. “Here is my address,” she said placing the ring on it and exiting the car before Julian could protest.

Is she ill? Julian wondered. What is she doing here in the middle of the

night?                                                                                     ***

In the morning, he pulled in front of a house, proceeded down the narrow walkway and knocked on the door. A young man still in his pajamas, answered.

“Hi, may I help you?” he asked.

“Um…” Julian realized that he didn’t know the woman’s name. “I am looking for a young lady—”

“Sorry, you have the wrong address.”

“Is this 2117 David Drive?” A jolt of anger struck Julian when he realized that this was the same address that had canceled his order the night before.

“Yup, but I live alone.”

“The woman… Um… I am a cab driver—” Julian stuttered.

“Look, man, I’m tired.” The young man turned to go back inside.

“No. Wait. I gave a ride to a woman, but she couldn’t pay so she insisted that I take her ring and return it today.” Julian revealed the ring.

The young man looked at the ring in Julian’s palm and took a quick step back. His face became white and the next time he spoke his voice seemed obstructed.

“W-where did you get that?”

“I told you—”

“That’s impossible,” he interrupted. “That’s my wife’s!”

“Look. I didn’t mean to—”

The man paced back and forth. “Jody died a year ago.”

“Say what?” Julian could swear his hearing played tricks on him.

“Jody died in that stupid factory.”

“Man, stop playing with me. I just want my money.” The words crawling upward from the depth of his throat sounded more like a growl.

“I am not… playing! I swear.”

Instantly, Julian felt sick. A buzzing sound vibrated in his ears. He opened his mouth, but no words came out. The world shook and then went deathly still as he crumpled forward.