Short Story Sunday: “Clock” [311]

Short Story Sunday 311: "Clock" | Creative Writing | Flash Fiction | RachelPoli.com

“It’s stuck at 9:03 am. Can we assume that’s the time of death?” Evelyn, with latex gloves on her hands, tapped the face of the wrist watch with the tip of her finger.

“Maybe, though it also could have already stopped working beforehand.” Michael watched as his partner examined the victim’s wrist from the driver’s seat of the car. “Something doesn’t quite add up though. If that’s when the time of death was, then we would have gotten a call much sooner.”

Evelyn stood up. “What time was it called in?”

“About 10:30 am.”

Evelyn brought her hand up to her mouth. “The caller said they had just heard a car crash into the lake across from their house, right?”

Michael nodded. He looked over his shoulder and pointed to a young woman across the way. “That’s her house over there. She’s standing in the front yard speaking to one of our officers.”

“If the watch stopped because it got submerged in water at 9:03 this morning but the neighbor, who lives directly across the street from the lake, didn’t hear anything crash until 10:30 this morning… I’m confused.” Evelyn shook her head.

“You should be because she not only heard the splash but she saw the car drive into the lake,” Michael clarified. “Supposedly she was in the kitchen pouring herself another cup of coffee when she looked out the window – which is above the kitchen sink right next to the coffee pot – and saw the car drive into the lake.” He pointed behind him to a small window a few feet to the left of the woman’s front door.

Evelyn sighed. “It’s early in the morning on a Friday. I’m not sure if my brain can handle this much inconsistency right now. What are you trying to tell me right now? Do you have suspicions?”

Michael raised his shoulders into a shrug. “If the clock stopped because of the water than that means the victim drove into the lake at about 9:03 this morning. But how can that be if they didn’t drive into the lake until 10:30 this morning? Or so our witness claims.”

“Do you think the witness has any involvement in this?”

“Maybe. Or maybe whoever the real culprit is put on a show for the neighbor so as to create a witness with a false lead.”

Evelyn breathed deeply and let out a long sigh. “We need to figure out who our victim is. Maybe we can ask around and figure out where he was headed and what time he left his house or where ever he was coming from. Maybe that will be a clue to as to what time he should have been driving down this road. Still, I think the watch will be our biggest clue to this case.”

“Unless the watch was already busted before he put it on this morning and that, in a way, is a false lead as well.”

Evelyn narrowed her eyes at her partner. “Why would the victim put on a broken watch before leaving the house?”

“Maybe he didn’t realize it was broken. Maybe he had put on the wrong watch. Maybe the battery died while he was driving in the car,” Michael rattled off a few possibilities.

“Maybe,” Evenlyn joined in with a point of her finger, “he knew the watch was busted and was on his way to the watch shop to get it fixed.”

Michael stared at her with a deadpanned expression.

“It’s a joke, Detective,” Evelyn said with a frustrated sigh. “I know the investigation has barely begun, but my head already hurts.”

“Mine too. We had to skip our morning coffee because of this call. We’ll pick something up when we’re done with this scene.”

“That’s not why my head hurts, but alright. I won’t say no to coffee.”

“Let’s make a list.” Michael pulled out a notepad and clicked his pen open. “We need to figure out who the victim is, where he was coming from and where he was going.”

“Who the neighbor is, check out her kitchen to get her perspective of the incident, and figure out what exactly she saw at 10:30 am. Also, what she was doing at 9:03 am,” Evelyn added.

“We have our work cut out for us this time,” Michael said. He clicked his pen closed.

“Also, the watch. When did it stop and why,” Evelyn stated.

“That may not be a priority just yet.”

“I think it should be the number one priority. The time on the clock and the witness’s statement and call-in to the police don’t add up. If she saw the whole thing happen, then she should have called the police right away,” Evelyn said.

“She did,” Michael nodded. “She saw it happen at 10:30 this morning and called it in right away.”

“But the watch stopped at 9:03 this morning. What if the witness saw a fake killing for the purpose of creating a witness?”

“I gave you that idea, remember. I don’t know how plausible that is though.”

“I think,” Evelyn suggested, “we should search this whole lake and look for another car.”

Michael sighed. He clicked his pen open again and wrote that down. “If it would make you feel better. I guess we should cover all our bases. But again, I don’t think we need to. A proper autopsy on the victim will tell us the time of death.”

“It may not be accurate though.”

“It’s something.”

Evelyn squatted down beside the victim again. Her hand hung out of the driver’s side with the car door wide open. With her gloves still on, she took the watch off his wrist.

“What are you doing?” Michael asked.

Evelyn stood, prying the back of the watch open. She smiled, turning the watch around for her partner to see. “No battery.”

Michael groaned. “Great. Now we definitely have a homicide on our hands.”

I hope you enjoyed the story. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Please feel free to share this post.

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The Anatomy of Prose by Sacha Black [Book Review]

This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission should you buy from these links at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support.

I bought an eBook copy of the book through Amazon. The decision to review and all opinions are my own.

Title: The Anatomy of Prose: 12 Steps to Sensational Sentences
Author: Sacha Black
Genre: Nonfiction, Writing Reference

Series: Better Writers (Book 7)
Publisher: Atlas Black Publishing
Publication Date: May 29, 2020

Seeing as this a nonfiction, writing craft book, my review format is a little different. There are no characters and no plot but there is a whole lot of writing style.

Within these pages, the author goes in depth on the craft of writing better sentences, thus better scenes within your novels. She discusses anything and everything from basic sentence structure, description, dialogue, word usage, and more.

The Anatomy of Prose packs a punch and has a lot of useful information without bombarding you. It’s easy to read and the author has a humorous, conversational tone. At the end of each section is a bulleted summary list of takeaways from the section allowing you to easily go back and search for something to need to look up.

If I were still in college, this would be a great textbook for a creative writing class. There are topics that you learn in elementary school, such as the meaning and use of personification, which is touched upon in this book but it goes much deeper than a dry explanation with dull examples.

This is the third book in the Better Writers series (not including the workbooks) and I think it’s the best one yet.

The Anatomy of Prose: 12 Steps to Sensational Sentences by Sacha Black

Conclusion

Informative
Easy to Comprehend
Writing Style

Overall

There’s always something new to learn when it comes to creative writing. Even looking over what you already know once in a while is useful. The Anatomy of Prose does both well.

5

Have you read this book? Let me know your thoughts on it in the comments below. If you enjoyed this post, please share it around. Also, you can take a look at more Book Reviews here.

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The Merry Writer Podcast: Episode 018 Now Live!

Do You Use Writing Prompts? | Ep. 018 | The Merry Writer Podcast | RachelPoli.com

The Merry Writer Podcast

The Merry Writer started as a hashtag game on Twitter and Instagram. Hosted by Ari Meghlen and myself, The Merry Writer Podcast is a fun, friendly show about all things writing and bookish. Join us as we ask all the “write” questions.

Episode 018: Do you use writing prompts?

In this week’s episode, Ari and I discuss our thoughts on creative writing prompts and how they can boost your writing. Be sure to give it a listen through the YouTube video below or any of the links below.

New episodes are published every Wednesday at 10:00 am EST (2:00 pm BST). Please subscribe to the podcast so you can be notified when a new episode goes live. Also, give each episode a “like” wherever you enjoy tuning in. It’ll help the podcast grow and we’d really appreciate it!

Thanks for listening!

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What are your thoughts on this episode? Let me know in the comments below so we can chat! Please feel free to share this post.

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A Year Using the Daylio App [Mental Health Monday]

A couple of weeks ago I talked about the Calm app and how I use it. I don’t use its full potential as I have the free version and it does what I need it to for now. Another app I use to help me with my anxiety and depression is called Daylio. This one is a journaling app and mood tracker. I’ve been using it every day for a year now and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

Mental Health Monday: A Year Using the Daylio App | Mental Health | Mental Health Matters | Apps for Mental Health | Journaling Apps | RachelPoli.com

What is Daylio and what does it do?

Daylio App | Mental Health | RachelPoli.comThe Daylio app is a mood tracker, first and foremost. There are five levels of moods you can add. I use the “traffic light” color scheme for my moods. So, they’re green, light green, yellow, orange, and red. The green is happy, productive, for example, and the red is angry, anxious, etc. You can give each color more than one mood which I find to be great.

You don’t just track your mood throughout the day though (you can update Daylio as often as you each day but it will “check-in” on you once a day). After inputting a mood along with the date and time you can write a journal entry that can be as short or long as you need it to be. Or, you don’t need to explain your mood at all. I personally like to add what I did during the day and why I feel the way I do. Sometimes I don’t know why I feel the way I do.

There are also “activities” you can add. For example, I have blogging, writing, reading, walking, baking, video games, and so much more. You can group them as well. So, I have an “appointments” group with activities such as a hair, doctor, dentist, grooming for Chip, etc.

It’s a great way to track your day. It’s quick and easy too.

Journaling is a great reliever

Daylio App | Mental Health | RachelPoli.comI’ve tried journaling so many times. I wrote in a notebook for years that’s still not filled up (though it’s almost filled) and I’ve also tried tracking my mood in a bullet journal. These methods work for so many people but I love the daily reminders from Daylio. I also love to see the progress I’ve made each week, month, and for the year.

Because you can add activities to the moods and your journal entries, you can see which activities tend to make you happier and ones that stress you out the most. You can find patterns and see how you can improve or figure out which things need to change and what don’t.

You learn a lot about yourself

Daylio App | Mental Health | RachelPoli.comNot only is journaling in some form a good habit to get into – whether you have anxiety, depression, something else, or nothing at all – you can learn a lot about yourself while doing so as well.

One of the things I love about Daylio is that you can also view your entries in a calendar form and they’ll show the different moods you’ve been in on each day.

I’ll admit, I didn’t think I’d stick with Daylio for long. This is, without a doubt, the longest habit I’ve ever been in. At the time of writing this post, I haven’t used the app for quite a year yet, but I began using Daylio in late July 2019.

It was a rough year

I’ve probably said this enough but 2019 was a rough year and 2020 has been worse. Using Daylio to track my days – all the good and all the bad – has been one of the best decisions I’ve made.

If you’ve been struggling with anxiety or depression or anything else, I highly recommend this app. It’s great to track your mood and talk things out with yourself. Plus, the app is encouraging. There was one week where I didn’t have a single green mood and a pop-up appeared and basically said, “we’re sorry you’ve had a rough week but we’re glad you’re here.”

With that said, it’s encouraging and therefore motivates you to keep going. It does help.

Take care of yourself.

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Short Story Sunday: “Virtue” [310]

Short Story Sunday 310: "Virtue" | Creative Writing | Flash Fiction | RachelPoli.com

The words stared back at her. She flipped her pen over the knuckles of her right hand, though it kept falling onto the paper where the words were listed. She had seen people fiddle with a pen in their hand – weaving it in and out of their fingers, though she was never able to master it. (Sure, she had mostly seen people do it in the movies, but it must have been a little possible, right?)

Noelle pressed her lips together not sure how she was going to get through this assignment. She had just finished her homework for school and now had to worry about this task. Was it legal for a therapist to give their patient homework? If it was, it definitely should have been illegal.

She had only been seeing her therapist once a week for about a month. They were slowly getting to know each other but Noelle wasn’t sure how this list of words would help her. She still wasn’t going to feel confidant in anything she did – her soccer team, homework, any creative work she’d done. There were still going to be days when Noelle wasn’t going to want to get out of bed and go to school, see or talk to people, and not want to do anything at all.

A knock came at her bedroom door and when Noelle looked over her shoulder she noticed her friend in the doorway. She must have left her door open which was a mistake. Noelle had no intention of seeing anyone or talking to anyone tonight.

He walked into the door and stood over her at her desk. “Hey, you were missed at school today.”

“Okay,” Noelle said. How else was she supposed to reply to that? She wasn’t sorry she missed school. Besides, it wasn’t her fault she missed school anyway. Her brain didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. She was lucky she wasn’t back in bed right now.

Also, she certainly wasn’t going to go back to school because people missed her. Who missed her anyway? The teachers? Of course they were going to say that. She knew her classmates didn’t miss her. Aside from Alexander, she had no friends.

Noelle let out a sigh. She turned around in her desk chair and placed a tick mark on a sheet of paper in the corner of her desk. It was one tick mark of many covering the page.

“What’s that for?” Alexander asked.

“My therapist told me to mark whenever I begin to over think. I think she wants to gauge just how much I do it,” Noelle explained.

“Ah, okay. Did you want to talk about it? You don’t have to, but I’m here if you want.”

Noelle gave him a small smile. “I appreciate that. I always knew you were here even though I don’t act it at times.”

“I know.” Alexander placed a gently hand on her shoulder. “What’s that list there?”

Noelle rolled her eyes. “It’s a list of virtues. My therapist wants me to circle five to ten words that describe me.”

“Oh, well that’s easy.”

She narrowed her eyes at him. “They’re a list of virtues. You know, positive words. How am I supposed to circle five of these things? I told her I might be able to get one but she said I needed at least five. She wasn’t going to accept any less than that. Do you know how stressful this is?”

Alexander frowned.

Noelle continued. “She said it gently, of course. I like my therapist, I really do. But I don’t think it’s fair that I have to really think on this when it stresses me out. Virtues aren’t exactly something I have too many of. How am I supposed to pick a couple out that explain who I am? Not to mention I’m going to totally sound arrogant if I do circle a couple of these words. Who likes arrogant people? No one.” She paused. She wrote another tick mark on the other sheet of paper.

“Okay, I hear you. But let’s just take a look at this list,” Alexander replied reaching over his friend. “There are a lot of words here and I bet there are way more than five that describe you.”

Noelle snorted.

“Hear me out.” Alexander stared at the sheet. “I can easily point out some words that describe you.”

“Of course you can. My parents could too but you guys are just being nice,” Noelle said gently. “Besides, my therapist told me I need to pick the words out on my own without any influence from anyone else.”

“That’s fair.” Alexander nodded.

Noelle turned back to the list and grumbled under her breath about it staring at the words.

“Why don’t we talk about something else and take your mind off of that list?” Alexander suggested.

“I’m seeing my therapist tomorrow afternoon though. I really should get this done. I’ve honestly lost sleep over this,” Noelle replied.

“Be sure to tell your therapist that,” Alexander said. “But let’s just talk for a little while. I won’t stay long. I don’t want to distract you too much but it seems as though you need a break.”

Noelle sighed. She turned away from the list of words once more. She didn’t know why her mother had allowed Alexander to come up to her room in the first place. She loved him, they were best friends, but she wasn’t in the mood to see or talk to anyone. Alexander was just about to use up the last bit of strength she had for the day and once he left, she wasn’t going to want to think about the list anymore. Though she couldn’t argue with him – she really did want to do something other than think of that list.

“What do you want to talk about?” she asked.

Alexander sat down at the end of her bed and grinned. “Do you remember how we met?”

Noelle furrowed her brows in confusion. “Of course I remember. Why do you want to talk about that?”

He chuckled. “You tell me. How did we meet?”

“One of our classmates outed you before you were ready. You were pretty embarrassed and upset,” Noelle recounted.

“And who punched that classmate in the face and got suspended for it?”

Noelle paused a moment before throwing her head back and laughing. “I forgot about that… I must have blocked it out of my memory. My parents were so mad at me.”

“I wasn’t mad at you though. We became fast friends after that despite not really talking to one another before that day.”

“Yeah, that was a good time. I mean, I’m sorry you went through that though.”

Alexander shrugged. “Hey, my job was done for me even if I wasn’t ready to tell people yet. And I made a new friend that day, so how can I look back at such a day with a sour face?”

Noelle nodded in agreement with a grin still on her face. That was a good day despite Alexander being upset and her getting in her first (and last) fight in school. Also, her first (and last) time being suspended.

“Hey, aren’t some of those words on your list?” Alexander asked.

Noelle frowned. He had to bring that up now? They were just having a good conversation.

“I mean,” Alexander amended his statement, “are there any words on that list you can find that remind you of us meeting?”

Ah, she saw where he was going with this. She picked up her pen and scanned the list of many words that faced her. Two jumped out at her.

“Acceptance, I accept you for who you are.” She circled the first word on the list. “Friendliness? We became friends that day.”

“I would say you’re friendly. You’ve always tried to make sure someone had somebody to sit with at lunch, for example,” Alexander agreed.

Noelle circled the word. Then she chuckled to herself and crossed out the word, “peace”.

“You’re a peaceful person,” Alexander argued.

“I punch people in the face.”

He laughed. “Okay, but that was one time.”

She looked at the list again. “What about creativity? I was creative in sticking up for you.”

Alexander narrowed his eyes. “I wouldn’t exactly call that creativity… I’m not so sure your therapist would like to hear you talking about how punching people in the face is a creative way to get them to stop doing whatever they’re doing. I would say you’re creative in other ways though.”

“What do you mean?”

“You think of new ways to do things or to fix things. Remember we worked together on a science project freshman year? We worked so hard on it and had many late nights and spent our weekends on it.”

“Well, yeah. That was our final project, right? It was easier than a test and, if I recall, we were both doing pretty lousy in that class,” Noelle added.

“We didn’t have the best science teacher that year though. I wouldn’t go so far as to blame us for our lousy grades,” Alexander corrected.

“That’s what all dumb people say.”

“We’re not dumb, we just talked a lot in class. Do you remember the project? The solar system?”

Noelle nodded. “I remember we thought it was weird to be learning about the solar system in high school when that was something we went over in elementary school.”

“I agree, but you remember the actual project?” Alexander egged on.

“You mean the food?”

“We didn’t make it out of food at first. It was all Styrofoam pieces and we had tried to think of other materials. But we took the easy way out and painted Styrofoam and attached them to Popsicle sticks. But then my dog got to it?”

“Oh, yeah…” Noelle said trying not to laugh. “That was an interesting day. The project was due the following day and for once we didn’t procrastinate.”

“So, what did you do?”

“We went to the grocery store and we bought a bunch of baking supplies and ended up remaking the solar system using cake and cookie dough.”

“That was all your idea and it was the most fun we’ve ever had. I’d say that’s pretty creative,” Alexander stated.

Noelle looked back at her list and circled, “creativity”. She read the other words and circled another. “Determination? We could have given up the whole project but we didn’t.”

“That makes sense to me.”

“Flexibility?”

“Why?”

“I didn’t get angry that you left the project on the table where the dog could easily get to it. I saw an opportunity to improve upon on our project. Despite our hard work the first time around, we were both flexible in just doing the whole thing over again,” Noelle explained.

Alexander smiled and gave her a nod. “I think that makes sense.”

Noelle circled the word and squealed with excitement. “Hey, that’s five!”

“See? I knew you could do it. There are many other words on there that describe you too. But you have your bare minimum for your therapist. Maybe you can get some good sleep tonight.” Alexander stood up from the bed and leaned over his friend’s shoulder.

Noelle looked back at the list and circled two more words. “Loyalty and thankfulness,” she said. “I am thankful for your company and friendship, especially since I’m having a hard time lately.”

Alexander put his hands on her shoulders. He gave them a gentle squeeze before massaging them.

“Loyal because I believe we’ll be friends forever no matter what. I know that sounds corny but we’ve both been through hell and only came back because the other got us out.”

“So you do believe you’ll make it out of this rough time?”

Noelle hesitated to reply but she nodded. “I do. I know it’ll take time, but I understand my parents, my therapist, and you are all here no matter what.”

“Exactly. That’s what we’ve been trying to tell you all along. I’m glad you see it for yourself. However, if you lose sight of it again, we’ll point out these words and have a chat,” Alexander explained.

Noelle chuckled. “Who knew this exercise would actually be helpful? Honestly, I can’t wait for therapy tomorrow.”

I hope you enjoyed the story. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Please feel free to share this post.

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