Excerpt: Part of My Journey by Nancy E. Miller

Years ago I wrote Daffodil, a compilation of poems and prose about my journey from a dark childhood of abuse to, not only survival, but being a victor.  I haven’t published it…yet…but here are a couple of the pieces about the power abusers hold in our lives.



Turn off the light
Just crack the door
Tiptoe `cross the hall
Listen for the snore

Turn the knob in silence
Don’t run the water loud
Keep the lid down
Covered with a towel

Dangerous night trips
Across enemy land
Past the dragon’s lair
Lest she raise a hand

It’s a dangerous path
To answer nature’s call
When the slightest mistake
May bring the travelers fall


It wasn’t long after my marriage to Ernie that we decided to visit overnight with my parents.  I figured it would be relatively safe as long as their beloved, formerly hated, son-in-law was in tow. We stayed in my old room which was right next door to my mother’s room.

Now my folk’s house is your standard Florida 1950’s cement block construction with carpet over tile over cement flooring.  My mother blocked all sunlight out of her room. I often wondered if this added to my image of her as a blood-sucking vampire.  She also slept with a window air conditioner roaring just a few feet from her head.

And yet, my mother heard EVERY tiny noise outside her doorway.  She saw ANY light as it crept under her door.  And to wake her majesty was, dare I say, an infraction of her many rules and punished accordingly.

part of my journey

BarmaleyOdessa / Pixabay

So I found myself sitting quietly in my old room as my husband got ready for bed. He reached for the door knob and I jumped into action.

“What are you doing?” I whispered.

“I’m going to the can.” My husband answered back as any good sailor might.

“Well you can’t just go across the hall.”  And I was dead serious.

“And why not…that’s where the bathroom is.”  He said calmly as his eyes questioned my good sense and sanity.

I blurted out how, to go to the bathroom, one must turn off the bedroom light, open the door, tip toe across the hall, open the bathroom door, close it, then turn on the light.  Once done, you must put down the toilet lid BEFORE flushing so as to muffle the sound, then reverse the previous process. Oh, and you must put the toilet lid back up once the flushing stopped.

I know he laughed once beyond the doorway but, to my face, he tried to remain somber. After all, this was MY mother we were talking about offending.  Sure enough, the next morning she made a point of saying how SOMEONE disturbed her in the night with all the terrible noise in the bathroom.  Later on, I received the unedited lecture.  Oh, and we won’t even go into the night he decided it would be fun to have sex.

We don’t always see the extent of the control our abusers have over us until we see it through other people’s eyes.  It was through my husband’s eyes I realized the farce played out nightly for the amusement of the queen.  Even if she didn’t hear or see any offense, she knew we all danced to her tune.



Once upon a time
You were so tall.
I looked up at you
and to you
for all my needs.

Now I am grown,
Still you loom
in my head
as the
Gods of my childhood.

To survive the past
I must face the present
and embrace the future,
Seeing you
As you truly are.


part of my journeyStand up.  Take a good look around.  Imagine you are talking to your parents.  Chances are now, as an adult, you are the same height or taller.  Now sit; not on a chair, but all the way down on the floor.  Look around.  You are a child looking at the room through a child’s eyes.  Now imagine your parents again.  What chance did we have to defend ourselves against someone so big?

The problem most adult survivors of childhood abuse have is that, in their minds, they are still the defenseless child of yesteryear.  When we were children, our parents were gods to which we looked for shelter, clothing, food and warmth.  They had the power to take or give; to punish or reward.

The truth is, as adults, the only power our parents have over us is the power we give them; and we don’t stop there.  We delegate power to our bosses, our friends, whoever is willing to take it.  It’s how we were trained.  We can’t possibly be smart enough, or good enough, or strong enough to take care of ourselves. How can we?  Keep believing that and you’ll stay just where you are.

One word of warning.

When you decide to take back your power, the people who enjoyed its fruits for so long will fight you for it.   It’s normal.  People don’t like change and they do like control.  Your choice will be whether to stand tall or shrink back into the shadows.

The only power others have over us is the power we give them. @NE_Miller #poetry #wisdom… Click To Tweet

Poetry: Sad Santa by Eric Keizer

Christmas is one day away, and tonight Santa will weave magic as he leaves packages of all colors and sizes for children all over the world. For us adults, though, sometimes it seems like more work than we expected. We need a little relief and perhaps even a more realistic view of Santa than we give our children. Here’s a little something for you.

Sad Santa

‘Twas the night before Christmas,   

And Santa was drunk,    

He sat with the Mrs,   

All down in a funk.    

The union had called,

The elves all were mad,

The reindeer had stalled,

And Rudolph was sad.

His belt wouldn’t close,

His hat wouldn’t fit,

He’d rip out the seam

Of his pants when he’d sit.

Some toys had been broken,

And some wouldn’t work.

Although he’d tried hard,

He still felt like a jerk.

He looked out the window,

And to his delight,

There shone such a star,

a bright beacon of light!

He suddenly felt

His depression give way,

He’d climb his big butt

Right into his sleigh!

He pleaded with elves,

And then with the deer,

And even poor Rudolph,

Who wouldn’t come near.

Mrs. Claus ran ‘round,

Rousing the elves,

They had sacks to fill;

They emptied the shelves!

Donner then stamped

His magical hooves,

he ordered the deer

to strap on their shoes.

Santa jumped into

His brightly lit sleigh,

He crackled his long whip,

and took off right away.

Mrs. Claus saw him wink,

As he yelled out a warning,

“Be ready, hot Babe…

For your gift, in the morning.”


Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, we hope you find what you wished for under your tree tomorrow. When you need a break, come on back and read Nancy E. Miller’s Christmas story written just for you.

Merry Christmas

Short Story: Tears of a Sinner by Stephanie Ayers

Halloween is 2 days away. It’s time for the monsters in all of us to come out. No one does this better than Stephanie Ayers. In fact, we’ve got one for you today in her short story, “Tears of a Sinner.” In an alternate universe, Jackson Bruning is not all he appears (or doesn’t appear) to be.

Tears of a Sinner

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a good wife.” -Jackson Bruning

I read somewhere in an article about Jackson Bruning, the world’s most eligible bachelor. The most intriguing part of the article, however, was the fact that there were absolutely no pictures of the man anywhere to be found. In this technical day and age, that was very rare, but, I suppose, could happen. I wasn’t happy that the only information I had on my betrothed was an article written by an untrusted source and no pictures to swoon over.

My parents spent a great deal of time talking about him, his good fortune, and his generosity towards his fellow man, however. Whenever I asked them about his appearance, they never gave any description other than tall, dark, and handsome. Perhaps they did this on purpose so I would dream my own daunting idea of what and who he was. I do know that by the time we officially met, I was already in love with him.

The evening was a cold one, with the threat of snow tingling my nostrils. We were to meet at the esteemed La Chef Passionale, a place that required reservations made months in advance. I waited with trepidation to meet my mysterious fiance. He was late. Of course, he was late! I waited another thirty minutes and when he still didn’t show, made my way out of the restaurant before the tears began falling, one at a time. I imagined I could hear them splashing on the ground as I walked, following me like a bread crumb trail. A man approached me, his black top hat sinister over his handsome face. A teardrop tattoo rested just under his eye. I shivered, understanding what it meant. He stood in front of me, his dramatic black cape fanning out to block every time I tried to go around him. I looked around in panic, trying to find someone who could help, but to my dismay, the streets seemed deserted. It was as if when the clouds hid the moon, and this evil had stepped out from the darkness, everyone had scattered.

“You are very beautiful,” the man said, his finger sliding down my jawline. His voice was surprising pleasant. He pulled my hand to his lips and kissed it. “What are doing out here on these streets this time of night alone?”

He practically purred.

“I…I…I’m supposed to be meeting someone,” I stammered, my terror so great It felt as if my eyes would pop out of their sockets. I shivered again and attempted to shrink away from him. “He will be here any minute.”

“Indeed,” he said. “Perhaps he is here right now.” He stepped back suddenly and, in a grand gesture, bowed, his hat in one outstretched arm. “I am Jackson Bruning, and I apologize for being late. There was an emergency I had to attend to.” His tongue ran across his lips as he spoke this last. I shivered again. He was not at all what I’d expected. “I have confirmed that our reservations are still available. Clarice, would you please join me?” He turned and offered me his arm. I realized suddenly that as much I didn’t want to join him, I had to. I had to, for all the years spent pining away after him, I had to, for myself. I took his proffered arm and we walked back to the restaurant and were seated immediately.

To my delight, he didn’t look nearly as sinister in the soft light of the restaurant. He’d removed his top hat to reveal a head of thick and curly ebony hair. His blue eyes sparkled with life, and his very white teeth glistened beneath every smile, which happened quite often. Images of our imagined future life together distracted me, intensifying my feelings, even as my heart tried to warn me. Through the multi-course dinner, I was an apt pupil, studying everything about him and memorizing as much as I could. I never wanted to forget this moment as I feared he would find me dull. His was a life of adventure and excitement while mine composed the very boring, run-of-the-mill life of a secretary.

“Why are you so mysterious, Jack?” I asked over dinner.

“I don’t like people prying into my private life,” he said over dessert. “Believe nothing you read about me. They have glamorized it all. I work hard for my fortune, but they don’t want to tell you that.” He rose from his chair and discarded his napkin to his plate. “Come, beautiful, let’s carry our conversation somewhere more private.”

My heart beat ferociously in my chest as I allowed him to seat me in his luxurious coach. The carriage took off smoothly and before I knew it, we were at his house. Again my heart beat warning, which I ignored. I was too busy admiring my future home and the fastidious nature with which the home was kept.

“Does it meet your approval?” Jack asked.

I felt heat crest my face as I nodded, swallowing the lump I found in my throat. “It is beautiful. Any woman would be lucky to live here.”

“Not just any woman, however, just you, and you will be here forever.” He stepped closer to embrace me and I let my guard down, just as hungry for his touch as he seemed to be for mine.

I let my guard down, just as hungry for his touch as he seemed to be for mine. @theauthorSAM… Click To Tweet

“Forever sounds like a long time,” I said.

“You have no idea,” he answered, his breath tickling my ear. He took a step back and from somewhere in the house music played. He cupped my hand in his, and we spun together in a dance foreign to me. The rest of the evening filled with hospitality and courtesy. He was as much a gentleman as my parents had ever claimed him to be, and, by the end of the evening, I found myself desperately in love with the real man, who happened to be my dream come true.

He paused in the foyer and knelt down on one knee. He reached for my hand and slid a beautiful diamond ring onto my fourth finger. “Clarice Anastacia Garland, would you do me the honor of becoming my wife forever?”

A fortnight later, after a quiet wedding, I became a married woman. That night, now that he truly belonged to me, I felt emboldened.

“Darling, why do you have tear tattooed on your face?” I asked him just before he bedded me. His only response was to awaken my body in places I had never been awakened before. He was as gentle a lover as he was a rough one, taking his time to ensure my pleasure before gaining his. When we were spent, he tenderly tucked me into his embrace and I rested my head on his shoulder. He began kissing my neck, small splashes that tickled like a feather, to an urgent suckling that brought goosebumps to my flesh and aroused me once more. As a quiet moan left my lips, I felt him bite, soft at first, then so hard he broke the skin. My blood leaked down my neck, and he pressed me closer, drinking deeply.

My blood leaked down my neck, and he pressed me closer, drinking deeply. #fiction #horror #vampire… Click To Tweet

He laid me back against the pillows gently. I knew it wouldn’t be long until I was gone. Stars danced in front of me and swam behind my eyelids, and the room spun madly. His tongue licked my neck and he whispered in my ear.

“You are not my first wife. I mourn her with this tear, just as I shall mourn you with this one. I may have taken your human life, but I give you eternity in exchange.” He pulled his head to meet my eyes with his. The last thing I saw before beginning my rebirth was a second teardrop, glistening underneath the old one.

Flash Fiction: A Queen for a King by Mickey McRosh

Halloween is a week away!! We would be remiss if we didn’t try to corrupt you by bringing you over to the dark side. Today’s featured story, a flash fiction by emerging author Mickey McRosh, will do exactly that. Enjoy!

profilephotoMickey McRosh is a software engineer by profession and a writer and a hiker by inclination. He is new to writing and has worked on multiple short stories and flash fiction, and has published them on his personal blog. You can reach him at his website.

A Queen for a King

“I’m going to disappoint you. But you knew that already.”

The Nergal smirked at the emaciated old man. “You are not scared to die?”

William whispered, knowing that Nergal could appropriate his thoughts anyway, “What have I to lose, demon?” He leaned back into the wooden spokes of the worn-out Boston rocker. “If not now, then of old age.” His light brown eyes scanned the dingy room.

It had one cracked, leaky, and moss-covered skylight; the only other source of light.  A quarter of the crescent moon shone through the crack, illuminating the Staunton chess set in front of him. William was glad that they sat where they sat, as the wall-candles weren’t luminous enough for his presbyopic eyes. Tiny droplets of water hung from the skylight’s flora. The room stank of rotten eggs.

A drop finally gained freedom and descended.

When it splattered itself on the board, the Nergal’s irritation-masked voice resonated through the room. “Is that why you have that metal-spitting weapon? Spare me your philosophy and make your move, paraplegic.”

“Rush me and you will lose, Nergal,” William retorted, “and you will return sooner, without my soul.”

Outside, the breeze died away, allowing some leaves to fall through the crack and dance to the cold stone floor.

Will had never seen the death god’s face; it absorbed all light that dared to embrace it.

The creature spoke, “So, you want to play that game?” In the darkness that was its face, a thin red line appeared; curved like a menacing smile. Then it parted horizontally, to let out a barrage of cackles, before vanishing into the darkness. “Then I’ll make my move now.”

It snapped its talons to let out a tiny red spark. Unseen to Will, his Samsung’s screen lit up for a second in his shirt pocket, and returned back to dormancy.

The wind started blowing again. A single flash of light appeared in the sky. A few thousand miles away, in a small one-bedroom house, on top of a drop leaf table, a cell phone dinged.

A notification on the screen read: Won the Powerball today. Let’s get divorced so that I can enjoy the money alone… kidding…see you soon. Love you.

Mrs. William grinned seeing this. “Oh, I’ll show you.”

She replied: Be happy… I’m leaving.

Back in the dark cold room, William fake-frowned at the message from his wife. “Ah Nergal, have you ever loved?”

The Nergal remained silent. The beeswax wall-candles flickered the slightest.

“Ok, let’s end this. I hope you will not trick an old-timer.”

Silence, again.

“Alright, creature, I’ll stop futzing around.“ He moved the rook deep into enemy territory, and said, “Checkmate.”

The Nergal stiffened and leaned forward, studying the board carefully. A set of dark-red talons swerved in from the right, hovering over its majesty. Its long, scaly tail moved non-stop from side to side. Then the tail froze and the talons retracted into darkness.

“So,” started William, amused, “time to take me home?”

“Yes, but keep your weapon close by tonight, human.”

Tension showed on William’s face for a split second.

“Is that fear? Yum.”

William blinked and he was at his front door. His watch showed midnight.

There was a note on the front-door, attached with scotch-tape. The writing on it was smudged. It was signed by Mrs. William and it read: Take care. I’m leaving. – Martha.

Was she crying when she wrote this? he thought. He ran to every room, checked every corner; she had really left.

Suddenly, he heard the kitchen window creak. He remembered the words of the Nergal. Pointing his Ruger at the window, he placed a twitchy finger on the trigger.

Seconds passed into minutes. Sweat rolled along his cheek and dripped from his inverted church-steeple of a goatee.

Something moved behind him. “Surp-”

With his eyes closed, he turned and pulled the trigger three times.

“rise…” he heard his wife’s drowning voice finish.

He opened his eyes to see her lifeless body on the floor with her blood sprayed across the walls. The gun fell from his jaundiced hand and he dropped to his knees.

While his eyes were still on her, Mrs.Williams blood-smeared lips started twitching wildly. His eyes widened in shock and his brain commanded him to move away from her, but his body wouldn’t heed. Her lips then stretched and curled into a crooked smile and her head careened to a side — he heard the sound of her neck snapping. Her eyelids jutted open and her red-rimmed eyes moved to focus on his face. As he fell back, her lips, with the creature as their puppeteer, exploded with a tinge of amusement, “I’m going to disappoint you, too. But you knew that already.”

Can William outsmart the Nergal? #Read now and find out! #flashfiction #horror #ourwriteside… Click To Tweet

Poetry: The Darkling Throng by Stacy Overby

We are delighted to offer this spook of poem, a Halloween villanell, written by long time OWS supporter and emerging author, Stacy Overby.

author-pictureStacy Overby works as a substance abuse counselor for teenage boys by day and as a writer by night.  Her day job provides inspiration for a number of her stories, including her short stories “The Trial of Summer” and “Karma Incarnate” releasing in October 2016.  When not at work or writing, she is playing with her son, hiking, camping, or involved in other outdoor activities – as long as it is not too cold.

The Darkling Throng

We will dance in Moon’s dim glow;

In shadows we are finely dressed.

Blood runs free when Dark winds blow.


The call is out; our crowds will grow.

This is the night when none will rest.

We will dance in Moon’s dim glow.


On blackened wings a battle crow

Alights atop his heaving chest;

Blood runs free when Dark winds blow.


Among the cheers his heartbeats slow.

Jeering laughs at his behest;

We will dance in Moon’s dim glow.


A crimson stain in pure white snow;

We will send him with the rest.

Blood runs free when Dark winds blow.


Across the land the hunt will flow.

In wholesale death we are refreshed.

We will dance in Moon’s dim glow;

Blood runs free when Dark winds blow.

#halloween2016 #poetry. good #read #ourwriteside #writing #villanelle Click To Tweet

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Poetry: Arambol by Apala Bhattacharya

Apala is a regular contributor in our Facebook group, OWS Word Mafia. She shared this poem there, and I knew it needed a wider audience. Enjoy!

reading-tall-talesApala Bhattacharya is a copywriter, cat lover, and period-drama aficionado.

When she’s not writing for brands, she writes for herself. Some of it even gets published.
She talks to herself at https://mellowmarauder.wordpress.com/

You can talk to her at apalab@gmail.com



I left my soul
in Arambol.
In that photo you took
of a photographer
taking a photograph
of the sea.

our-write-sideAt that store where I wore
a dress too short
for my thighs too fat
and didn’t care.

I left my soul
in Arambol.
With Marie the dog who,
wet from the rain,
curled up in my chair,
and I let her stay.

With the tree that we
stole coconuts from
and drank the water
like savages.
I left my soul
in Arambol.
At the spot where
I thought:
This cliff is so high.
If I jumped off
I’d fly.

In Room 203
where I breathed easily
and the world was just
the sea and me.

I’m going back
to Arambol.
I’ll draw in the sand
with my feet
and with my hand
and walk into the water

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