Weekly Writing Challenge: A letter to my killer

This week’s writing challenge is to combine a genre with a style at random. Here is my take on writing a letter in the mystery/crime genre.

Dear murderer,

I know you had a reason for doing what you did but I’m not amused. I saw you kill a man for a reason unknown to me, and because of that, I had to die. I should have just kept walking. You are obviously smarter than most TV criminals by knowing that I would not keep quiet no matter how much you scared me, or how much I begged you to spare my life. I talk almost constantly, and you knew that when you looked into my eyes for the first and last time. I appreciate that you shot me, killing me instantly, rather than making me suffer and bleed out over several lonely minutes. I also appreciate not being killed with hemorrhagic fever in a bio-terrorism attack, but I don’t think you’re bright enough to pull that one off.

I hope that you come forward and tell my family how much they mean to me and how much I love them and how much I’ll miss them, but I know you won’t. I want you to tell them that I want them to forgive you and that I want them to know that I’m okay and that they’ll be okay too, but I know you won’t do that either. You’re not the dumbest criminal ever but you’re not exactly overflowing with courage. I’m not worried about you; I know this was not your first time killing and it may not be your last. You dug yourself a pretty big hole, and self-preservation took over and you kept going until everyone was gone.  Good for you for persevering.

CSI is going to be here shortly and they will remove your DNA from under my fingernails and soon you will be caught because you stole a chocolate bar when you were 19 to prove you could do it. And that put you in the system. Next time wear a bio-hazard suit. Enjoy your last few hours of freedom because you’re going to get put away for a very long time. And a cutie like you won’t fare so well in prison.

Warm regards,

The Victim

Writing 101: Music in our lives

Today’s Writing 101 Assignment is to free write about the three most important songs in your life. I couldn’t come up with just three but it reminded me a lot of music and growing up.

I can’t think about music without thinking about my family and growing up. My Mum always had music on when she was doing housework or cooking something delicious for us in the kitchen. Just writing this makes me want her banana bread. She would sing along and get most of the lyrics mixed up, which she says she did on purpose to entertain us. I remember her playing The Carpenters, Carole King, and Dionne Warwick. My Dad played music in the car. We drove frequently out to the coast, which was about a 13 hour car trip and we didn’t have iPods and DVD players in the car back then; we just listened to music. My Dad loved Elvis and The Kingston Trio, and most music from the 60s. It was awesome. I did not like Elvis at all and I often argued with my Dad about how the 80s remakes of Elvis songs were superior to the originals, but I loved The Kingston Trio. Their songs were so fun to sing along to, and we would all join in on the chorus (except for my grumpy younger brother who felt he was above it all). M.T.A. was my favourite of their songs because I loved the tune and I loved the story it told. Most music I listened to didn’t tell a story; it was whining about this or that or just a jumble of words put together, but not M.T.A. Here was a story about a guy that got stuck on the subway in Boston forever because he didn’t have enough money to pay. I couldn’t figure out as a child why his wife would bring him a sandwich and not bring him the money he needed to get off the train. It was a compelling story to me then, and now I find it to be a fun and creative story.

Even though my parents always had music playing, my older brother was the biggest music lover in the house. He had the smallest bedroom but he had the biggest stereo. He would listen to The Alan Parsons Project and Depeche Mode for hours while he read or did homework. I still know all the words to “The Eye in the Sky” even though I never played it myself. I shared his love for Depeche Mode and we even got to see them in concert together when we were in college. They had a song for every emotion. They would get me inspired with lyrics like, “Reach out, touch faith,” or help me pour out my sorrow with, “I want somebody to share.” I used to sit on the floor of my brother’s room and we would listen to their music and talk. Usually we talked about the music but sometimes the music was just the doorway into talking about more personal things. He never came to my room to listen to music; I don’t think he was too fond of Corey Hart or ABBA but maybe it was because he just had the better stereo. His stereo had auto-reverse and we were able to record songs off the radio without background noise which was pretty exciting at the time.

Now that my own kids are teenagers we have a lot of music that we enjoy together. We listen to Air Supply’s “Making Love out of Nothing at All” to remind us of one of our favourite movies, Mr. and Mrs. Smith. We listen to “I Believe” to remember going to the 2010 Olympic Games. And I play them a lot of my old favourites, like “Freedom” by WHAM! And Jason Donovan’s “Too Many Broken Hearts.” Weird Al is as beloved by my children as he has always been by me. For myself and my son that loves to write, Weird Al shows us that writing doesn’t have to be serious to be great. My son loves the same type of music as my brother so now they talk about music the way he and I used too. There is a commercial that says, “Cotton is the fabric of our lives,” but really I think that it’s music that is woven into our lives, and is ever present in our memories.

Writing 101: The setting of our first home

Today’s Writing 101 Challenge is to write about setting which is something I am not good at! Here is my attempt.

It should have been exciting to move into our first house but all I could think about was getting everything done. We still had to unload the truck, unpack the boxes, call the cable and phone companies, and get the builder to finish the plumbing. We might never be done. It wasn’t even lunch time but I was exhausted. My husband asked me to guide him as he backed the truck up to the garage so I hopped out and stood near the back of the truck. The driveway wasn’t even poured yet so I made my way through the muddy gravel. I looked around and it didn’t look like any of the other houses in our cul-de-sac were completed yet. There were construction trucks everywhere. I wondered when we would get our first flat tire.

Luckily for us it wasn’t raining, which was rare for the end of June. I signaled to my husband to back up, keeping an eye on the back of the truck and the garage door. The stupid garage door that the builder forced us to paint red. It stood out like a bloody canvas against the off-white house. I liked the red trim but a red garage door? It seemed ridiculous. He kept backing up until we both heard a crunching sound. What was it? I looked down: nothing. I looked up and saw the house crumpled above the garage door. I am a complete idiot. I never thought about the top of the truck. Now our brand new house was ruined and it was all my fault. My husband looked at me, probably wondering if I could be any dumber, but he just turned the truck off and hopped out. “We’ll get it fixed,” he said. There was work to be done so we opened the garage door and saw the empty space inside. At least the garage had a poured concrete floor. It looked like so much space but I knew we would fill it up quickly.

We started moving boxes into the entryway and kitchen. Everything looked so clean: the kitchen, the living room, the dining room. It was all empty, void of life and laughter. The linoleum was shining as it was hit with the morning sun. I loved those big windows that looked out past the edge of the city into the prairie. I looked forward to watching a thunderstorm from inside but not today; there could be no rain today. The dining room wasn’t really a dining room yet, just a space with linoleum floor and a chandelier. I didn’t really care about any of it outside of the kitchen. I loved the blue countertops and the maple cabinets. We chose them from the showhome and they were perfect. I looked at all the boxes and wished I could start cooking right away. The little family room looked so odd being empty; it was the only space on the main floor that was carpeted. Unless you count the stairs I guess; I had insisted on carpeted stairs. I had insisted on no triangular stairs either, ours turned at 90 degree angles because I figured I would fall if they curved. I sat down and started emptying boxes while my husband did the hard work and brought everything in to the house.

Twenty years later I still miss those maple cabinets and blue countertops. We would feed our baby in that dining room for the first time. I labored in that house. Our son peed all over that house. We laid him down on what would have been a fireplace (if we could have afforded it) and let him get some sun to eliminate his jaundice. My husband would build a big deck off the back that looked out over a weedy park and the back of Canadian Tire. I don’t miss that yard; the slope was immense and nothing would grow, it was so dry. I somehow miss the train though, even though it woke me in the middle of the night. There was something secure about having a train enter the city behind your house, seeing it come through each day. There was comfort in the routine and watching the cars. When we were sick and overwhelmed, it was good to see that life went on outside. Every memory of that house is related to our first baby because I was just pregnant when we moved in. I remember our huge master bedroom with a walk-in closet and big bathroom where I threw up every morning at 5:20 before I got ready for work. I remember the evening heat in our son’s west-facing bedroom. I remember when the crunched garage got fixed by an awesome superintendent who felt sorry for my stupidity. And I remember dropping a big bowl of cooked pudding on to the floor where it sprayed everywhere, including on my son who was busy rocking his Little Tikes rocker motorcycle. And I remember crying over spilling a box of cereal because that $5 was too precious to waste.

The undeveloped basement was our first connection to the online world. It housed our computer, hard wired into the phone line, where we got very slow and squawking dial-up service. I don’t miss the driving though; I don’t miss it taking me half an hour to drive to the mall that we now walk to. And I don’t miss navigating the road down the hill to our cul-de-sac in the winter where tracks created only a single lane for both directions to try to get through. And I don’t miss our crazy neighbours who probably had a grow-op. It was the perfect place for us to live at the time and although I miss parts of it, I am perfectly content where we are and I’m not ready to move on just yet.

Weekly Writing Challenge: A Writing Tanka

Writing is not hard

But writing well is very

Any skill is hard

We must get down and work it

There is no reason not to


Limit distraction

If you can’t think do push-ups

Or go for a walk

Just put the words on the page

Edit, review, and rewrite


When you’re done it’s great

But you’re never really done

One story and next

You can’t ever stop writing

It’s inside of all of us


In response to this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge. Tankas are awesome!

Weekly Writing Challenge: Tanka Treasure Map

When my husband died

There was no way to go on

Then I found the map,

“To my sweet, sweet love,

I leave you treasure of old.”


Down the road and back

I ran, unable to stop

Do I believe it?

Could it be true? Or a trick?

I took it on and drove away


Up our hill I climbed

For hours and days it felt like

But only minutes

I found our spot at the tree

I dug until I found it


His initials found

I knew it was made for me

I cried at his thought

The sacrifices he made

Even in death, he was here


Inside the box was memories

Of many times together

I sat, shook, and cried

Until I could cry no more

I felt myself start to go


My tears began to wrap

Around me as I flew up

I saw his face shine

And welcome me home again

I was free and he was here



Weekly Writing Challenge

Edge of Tomorrow (Live. Die. Repeat)

Edge of Tomorrow (or Live. Die. Repeat) is a big budget sci-fi action feature with some humour thrown in. Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise do superior jobs in their roles as soldiers fighting an alien invasion. There is a lot of fighting and running and explosions that are sure to please the action lover in your family, and Emily Blunt is an awesome female role model. She is beautiful, strong, determined, and confident, and she’s a tough coach!

But the underlying theme of the movie is sacrifice, not mindless action adventure. Tom Cruise is forced to relive the same day over and over again in an effort to destroy the alien ‘mother ship’. Not much of a sacrifice perhaps as he would die anyway, but he has to die over and over again and it appears to be quite painful. He has to put his personal feelings aside; something that is difficult for him to do as he is an arrogant administrator in the beginning of the movie. Luckily for Tom Cruise he gets to have Emily Blunt by his side through most of his journey; but even without her, he continues the fight. There is a point in the movie where Tom Cruise checks out and sits in a bar and sees what happens if he takes that route, and the result is devastating. The film makers were brilliant in putting this short scene in the movie without making it longer or heavier in dialogue or clichés. It reminds us that we all have a choice in how we respond to others and how we spend our time.

Edge of Tomorrow is about sacrifice rather than honour. It is not about medals or pride but about doing what needs to be done. It is not about blindly following orders. It’s about supporting the right person and putting your selfish desires aside. There is a moment in the movie where Emily Blunt says, “thank you for getting me this far,” to Tom Cruise. I’m thinking that line should be part of my prayers each night.

The Hundred Foot Journey

The Hundred Foot Journey might be a predictable tear-jerker that seems unappealing to movie-goers that are hooked on special effects and action scenes, but food connects us all and this story has something for everyone. We only use two of our senses while watching movies but The Hundred Foot Journey is so beautifully crafted that you will feel, smell, and taste the scenery, fresh produce, and prepared dishes. You will feel the heat of the fire and the heat of the chilies as your eyes take a bite of every food offered. Preparing and eating food is a gift that God gave to all of us and this movie will inspire you to go home and create dishes with love no matter who you might be cooking for. It doesn’t matter whether you know what a Michelin star is or even if you know how to poach an egg, cooking is a skill we all can, and should, learn. Delight your taste buds and make a reservation for the Hundred Foot Journey. Your senses will thank you.

The Five Phases of School

Stage One: Excitement

New (or new to you) books, sharpened pencils, and maybe a new coil notebook. Ear-to-ear grins as you feel pity for your friends that are not in school.

“I can do this!”

“I love school!”

“I’m going to get all As!”


Stage Two: Overwhelmed or Overbored

As you delve into the course material you realize there is way more here than you first thought. Visions of reading the entire textbook in a weekend have long since evaporated. Or you find the material so boring that you’re looking for boredom as a cause of death on WebMD and find yourself asleep on your textbook no matter how much sugar you put in your coffee.

“Does ANYONE understand this?”

“Who really knows what Shakespeare was thinking.”

“How did someone stay awake long enough to write this?”

“Why am I here?”


Stage Three: Panic

It’s time for the first assignment. Heavy breathing, chest pains, and heart palpitations set in as you read the requirements. You avoid your friends that aren’t in school, envious of their lives of leisure.

“I’ll never finish.”

“Does anyone actually do this?”

“Working at McDonald’s forever doesn’t seem so bad.”


Stage Four: Plateau

You didn’t fail the first assignment or test and now you’re in too deep to withdraw. Motivation seems hard to reach and you often find yourself trying new recipes or cleaning instead of studying.

“I just need to get this done and then I can study.”

“I better run out and get some bagels.”


Stage Five: Completion

The final exam is written and you leave with a huge sense of accomplishment. Maybe you’ll get that A after all. You don’t stop smiling until you realize that next week you’re back in step one.

“I’ll stay in school forever!”

“This is the greatest day of my life!”

“Why is no one around here congratulating me? Don’t you know what I did?”