Category Archives: Short Stories

I love to write. On occasion, I’ll add a story here that refuses to go untold, but I don’t want to go through the ‘self-publishing’ grind. I hope you enjoy reading them, as much as I enjoyed writing them.

The Lonesome Lighthouse

The Lonesome Lighthouse – Book Five

If you haven’t caught up with the series, please do so now!  The Lonesome Lighthouse, book five of six of the McShane series is live on Amazon!! For fair warning, chapter five, Officer Robert Jones, made three out of four beta readers cry. Don’t hate me.

Thanks to all of my family and friends for bearing with me. It’s only been two years since I posted the last mini-mystery for grown ups. All of these tales are meant to be quick, intense reads for people as they wait for the bus, or at the doctor’s office, or wherever you find yourself idle.

I hope you enjoy this next-to-last installment of the McShane series. And again, don’t hate me. Thanks for reading.

Book Blurb

I’ve hit a stumbling block and I need your opinion. For the McShane book jacket blurb, which of these would make you want to read the story?
 
1) Sasha convinces Sam to explore the Lonesome Lighthouse with her, just for kicks. This adventure together will be their last .
 
or
 
2) When Sam’s old enemies join together to kill her, no one can stop them. But in this collection of murderers, who can be trusted? Cooperation among killers never goes well.
 
or
 
3) Enemies from her past have captured Sam and now threaten her life. Robert and Mike make it their mission to find and rescue her. Sometimes missions can go awry. 

 

Please post your choice in the comments or PM me. Thanks!

 

***

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

Sneak Peek – Chapter One

 

Hi everyone! Welcome to the sneak peek of Book Five, Chapter One of The Lonesome Lighthouse. If you’d like to read the other stories, you can find them here.

Since you are a reader of my blog, you get a first glimpse of the first chapter. Well, most of the first chapter. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers.

Thanks for reading.

************************************

 

 

Chapter One

Park at the Mark

 

In the dimming light of the setting sun, the Lonesome Lighthouse’s long shadow pointed to the sea. Built as a replica in 1980, the once iconic symbol of the SeaMark Resort had been abandoned for more than a decade. The crumbling fifty-foot cylindrical walls, wearing ivy tendrils reaching for its height, left an eerie sensation to the aptly named tower. Constructed in the most northern point of the SeaMark property, the Park at the Mark, the tower bordered a heavily wooded beach-side wildlife conservation area stretching north for two more miles along the coast.

Sam already knew a lot of the history of the SeaMark Resort, but never gave much thought for the abandoned fake lighthouse. When Sasha first asked about it, they did a little research together. Because it bordered a seaside conservation area, the permits became difficult to obtain. They learned that the owners gave up on the cost and the ceaseless administrative battles held with the city and county authorities every time the chemicals required for upkeep needed to be used. Since that surrender, the building had been claimed by the ever-encroaching tendrils of Mother Nature. And vandals with spray paint.

As Sasha bounced with delight next to her, Sam eyed the dilapidated structure with a level of concern. She did not understand Sasha’s fascination for the eyesore. It should have been demolished before someone got hurt. Sasha always had a heart for the underdogs. After all, they met in college at a rally organized to save the old library. Sam did not know of Sasha’s romantic interest in her until years later. Still, they were different people back then. When they reconnected at the beach party that left Chef Walters dead, her old college classmate became her staunchest ally. She helped Sam cope with the loss, and helped ease the ache for Tina. For that, Sam would always be grateful.

Sasha had asked Sam to come here, just the two of them, for a romantic lunchtime picnic. Cynthia Ramirez, ever the pragmatic bodyguard, denied the request. After an hours-long disagreement, Cynthia came here and got the lay of the land. After that, Cynthia allowed the two of them to come out here alone, but only if they promised to be back before nine.

Sasha squeezed Sam’s hand. “Come on, Summer! Let’s go inside!”

Sam pulled back. Her instincts said not to go inside. “Um.” The large oak double doors, covered in graffiti, did not appear inviting.

“Oh, come on,” Sasha said with a giggle. “How often do we get away from the she-dragon?”

Sam scowled. “I’ve asked you not to call Cynthia that.”

“You’ve also asked me not to call you Summer. If I promise to never use ‘she-dragon’ or ‘Summer’ again, will you come inside with me?” Sasha’s dark eyes and wide smile were Sam’s Achilles heel. The woman was hard to resist.

Sam sighed. “I’m pretty sure the door’s bolted.”

“Let’s find out!” Sasha pulled Sam in the direction of the front doors.

Their research showed the lowest level held a lounge for special guests of SeaMark. There should be bathroom facilities in the back, and a curved bar along the wall. Sam imagined the wealthy coastal elite sipping Mai Tai’s while discussing Reagan’s trickle-down economics.

The two women stepped through the palmetto shrubs and sandspurs toward the base of the lighthouse. The ornate, heavy oaken doors spoke of true quality, despite graffiti artist’s attempts to cover every inch of the wood.

Sasha opened the door with a gentle push. She stepped in and moved aside for Sam to enter.

A rusty, wrought-iron staircase leading to the observation deck four levels up dominated the room. The fixtures and the bar along the wall, with broken glass swept to the side, gleamed in the dim light. Sam realized there were no hanging cobwebs or clouds of swirling dust. The room appeared clean and ready for business.

“Okay,” Sam said, folding her arms. “How long have you been planning this?”

“Planning what?” Sasha asked with an affected tone.

“Why not just tell me you’d set this up?”

With hands on hips, Sasha said, “And spoil the surprise? What kind of girlfriend would that make me?”

Arms still folded, Sam made no response.

“Fine! I set it up!” Sasha said, throwing her arms in the air. She sighed and said, “When Cynthia came out here this afternoon to make sure there were no hidden dangers,” she used air quotes on ‘hidden dangers’ to mock the bodyguard, “I begged her not to say anything. But that’s when I had to agree on the 9 o’clock curfew.

Sasha grabbed Sam’s hand. “Come on, the best part’s up here,” she said, leading Sam to the foot of the stairs.

Their footsteps echoed in the chamber as they climbed from the first-floor lounge onto the second level. A door, heavy and carved to duplicate the front entrance, stood partially open to a room once used for storage. Sam peeked in. A sour aroma made her wince. A thin cut out in the stone made to resemble an arrow slit offered a small amount of light and exposure to the outside air. Since there was nothing else in the room, she decided it must have been emptied by staff or vandals.

Back to the stairs, they ascended to the third level. Vandals and trespassers seemed to have found this open floorplan most useful, as the stench of dried urine and vomit assaulted the senses. The odor would have been overpowering if not for the open shaft towering up to the trapdoor of the observation deck. Small slits in the concave wall served as windows for additional ventilation and light.

“Over here,” Sasha said, pointing to a built-in concrete display table that Sam hadn’t noticed. Sasha pulled a flashlight from her pocket and shined it on the drawings chiseled into the surface which boasted of the effort taken to erect this structure.

Sam mumbled, “Huh. I didn’t see this in the archives.”

“I know!” squealed Sasha. “Wait till you see the top deck. The view is spectacular!”

“We’ve already got a spectacular view from the penthouse.” For Sam, the darkening tower escalated the anxiety and suspiciousness of the moment, not enthusiasm.

“Don’t be like that!” Sasha said with a pout. “This is my discovery! I want to share it with you.”

Sam shook her head, her gut feeling telling her she should say no. Instead, “Lead the way,” came out of her mouth.

Sasha spun back to the stairs. The flashlight barely illuminated the fifteen feet of steps leading up to a trap door. Then the light faded out to nothing.

“Dammit!” Sasha exclaimed.

Sam said, “We can use the flashlight on my phone,” Sam offered, pulling it from her pocket. A few taps and the bright light created a lattice-work shadow of the stairs onto the circular wall.

Sasha stepped closer to Sam. “Freaky. I want a picture of this.” She pulled out her own phone and snapped a shot. The two laughed as the camera’s flash obliterated the effect, as well as blinding them for a moment.

Sam suggested she turn the flash off.

Sasha said, “I’m not sure how. You’re good with this stuff. Let’s trade phones.”

“Fine.”

“Cool,” Sasha said. “Yours takes better pics in the dark.”

Sam gave over the device, and Sasha used the camera for pics of the stairwell, the table, and Sam’s face, looking quite irritated.

“You’re not having as much fun as I’d hoped,” Sasha said, pouting again.

“No. I’m not having any fun right now. I did get your flash turned off, though.”

“Cool. Let’s go to the top. It’ll brighten your mood.”

“Give me my phone.”

“I’ll hold it for another minute. I want to take a picture of you outside in the moonlight.”

They climbed up to the trapdoor, with Sasha leading the way. The metal covering clanged as the door swung outward with a shoulder shove. Handrails extended to the landing. As the two emerged, a gust of wind pushed them back and whipped their hair into their faces.

Sasha pointed to the east, where the final rays of sunlight from the west reflected in the vast expanse of the open sea. Sam agreed the beauty was spectacular.

Sasha said, “We can see the beach now thanks to the last hurricane that came through. It cleared a lot of the overgrowth.”

Sam nodded. “That was Hurricane Helen. The storm did a lot more damage than to the overgrowth.”

A man with a distinctive hiss said, “There’s an understatement.”

Sam spun to find Reginald Palmer standing on the opposite side of the lookout.

Shocked, doubting her own senses that her murderous enemy was really there, she stared, dumbfounded. The sadistic smile on his face was all too real as he stepped toward the women.

Sam heard herself scream, “Sasha! Run!” as she pushed her lover to the open trap door.

***

Palms slick with blood and sweat, heart racing, breath coming in gasps, Sam stumbled in the darkness down the final steps to the third landing of the lighthouse.

From the observation deck above, Reginald Palmer screamed curses from the pain of his broken hand. She’d managed to slam down the metal trapdoor as he held the frame. That gave her time to slip through the opening and reach the third landing.

The dim outline of the display table against the wall gave her a twinge of reckless hope. She spun for the cover. Her foot tripped on something unseen. Falling, her head hit the concrete table’s edge, hard. Ears ringing, she managed to pull herself into as small an object as possible to hide in the deeper shadow under the table. Perhaps he’ll run by. Then, I could lock myself on the upper deck and scream for help.

The trapdoor above opened with a clang.

From the first level lounge, a woman called up the staircase. “Reginald, are you alright? Shall I come up to help?”

Sam knew that voice. Constance Patterson, Palmer’s partner in real estate crime.

“No!” Palmer shouted.

“Alright, but be careful. Remember, she’s quick.”

“Thank you. I might’ve forgotten,” Palmer retorted. “No worries, I’ve got her knife, now.” He took a deep, audible breath.

Their conversation, including his sigh, carried well in the dark, empty tower.

“Sam!” Palmer called in his signature hiss while descending the iron stairs. “You can’t believe you’ll get away. Especially when you’ve made so much noise.”

Sam’s terror-filled brain spiraled. She didn’t dare breathe. Dear God, I pray Sasha got away.

“Damn it!” Palmer cried out again. Sam hoped it was from pain. He should be weakened from all of the slices she gave him before he managed to take her prized knife. She clenched her fist, angry at the memory of her knife being snatched out of her sweaty, clumsy grip. Then receiving a few cuts from Palmer’s inexperienced hand before she got away. The worst of it was a cut on the back of her hand, still dribbling blood.

Constance called from below, “Shall I come up and help?”

“No! You stop her if she gets that far,” Palmer growled, “But she won’t.”

Sam’s heart clenched at the woman’s voice. Constance Patterson. Her one-time friend, who had become her enemy. Partnered with the madman above, the two killed more people than they were convicted of. Their favored method of execution involved poison tea. At least she had the chance of a fight here, rather than suffering their deceitful smiles as she died from poison. Sam hated this pair nearly as much as they hated her.

But why aren’t they still in jail? Neal Rappaport, her lawyer and friend, once Tina’s closest adviser, must have known they’d been released. Why wouldn’t he warn me? She tried not to let fear rule her, but this couple terrified her. If jail couldn’t defeat them, how could she?

Reginald Palmer, the psychotic serial murderer, was on the stairs coming down to the landing where she hid. In a panic, Sam rethought her hiding place. He’ll have me as soon as he reaches the landing! She sprang from her spot under the display table and leaped for the stairs. A warm liquid oozed down her neck. The gash on her head from the table throbbed and hurt like hell, but she hadn’t realized it bled.

The small turret window on the second level cast the soft glow of moonlight on the last few steps. To the left, the door to the storage room still stood ajar. Sam slipped into that opening.

There was nothing in this room but stench and graffiti. She pressed herself against the wall behind the door as Palmer came off the last step.

Sam worried he might hear the terrified pounding of her heart. Perhaps this wasn’t the plan she needed. She drew in a long, slow breath through her nose. Mona Malone’s lesson recalled, Breathe in. Stay calm. Stay focused. Breathe out. The lesson from her mother did bring a small measure of calm.

A touch on her shoulder shattered focus. It was only liquid, Sam’s inner voice consoled. Either she dripped sweat, or the blood flow had increased.

She mentally flailed to find her mother’s calming lessons once again.  Breathe in. Stay calm. Stay focused. Breathe out. It wasn’t working. Palmer’s steps echoed as he searched for her. In the height of her wide-eyed terror, she remained paralyzed, now holding her breath, hidden behind the door.

Then she heard Palmer’s steps pass her and go back to the stairs.

Run now, her brain commanded. In her panic state, her legs refused to obey.

“Constance?” she heard him call. “Are you alright?”

“Yes,” she replied. With irritation in her voice, she added, “How did you lose her? I know she’s fast – ”

“Not that fast. Stay there.”

Slow, heavy footfalls, coming back up the steps, then stopped at her doorway.

“Sam,” came the hiss. “Let’s stop this game. There is no other way out of that room, and I’m not stupid enough to come in there with a broken hand to fight a caged animal. Instead, I can stay here and wait for you to come out. You recall I’m a patient man.” He chuckled at his own gallows humor. “However, you might consider my offer of amnesty now, and come out quietly. Someone wants to see you, and I’ve been hired to bring you to them.”

Who the fuck would send this maniac to get me? Obviously, he was lying. She weighed her very limited options. In a flash of hindsight, now that she’s trapped like a rat, she realized this room was a very stupid place to hide.

Sam took a deep breath. Trying to sound calm, she called out, “Sasha knows I’m here. She’ll bring help.”

“I’m afraid not,” Palmer said. “Oh, Constance dear. Is your company still with you?”

Connie responded, “Sasha, tell your little red-headed lover you’re here.”

“Sam?” Sasha’s quavering voice stabbed Sam’s heart.

Her thoughts spun as the worry for Sasha overcame all else. “Sasha?” she shouted. “Are you okay?”

Connie said, “I’m sorry. Sasha is done speaking with you.”

Palpable silence. Sam couldn’t make herself move. Nowhere to move to, or even a chance in hell of running past Palmer to help Sasha.

“Sam,” he whispered, pain etched in his hiss. “What are you going to do?”

************************************

 

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

 

Cesar the White Knight

I recently came upon a writing prompt from Hit RECord to tell about your first pet. Wow! The memory of Cesar came flooding back into my mind. This little tale is what I submitted.

~~~

Cesar

At the age of fifteen, I came home from summer camp to find a ball of white fur curled around the leg of our kitchen table. It turned out to be a white German shepherd puppy named Cesar, given to me by my cousin. From the look on my step-father’s face, he wasn’t happy with it. I knew times were tough, so I promised all of my pay from my part-time gig to cover the expenses for the dog. If not for the gift coming from family, and a little goading from my mom, I wouldn’t have been allowed to keep it.

My step-father was an occasional bully and a belligerent man. He would strike me just for laughs, beat me when he felt it ‘appropriate’. But as Cesar grew, it became my defender. So much so that my wake up call for school changed from a profanity-laced roar in my ear, to a gentle clearing of the throat from the partially-opened bedroom doorway. Accompanied by the deepest of throat growls from my white knight laying on the floor at my bedside.

I loved Cesar more than I had loved any animal before or since. He was my constant companion. Admired by all (except for, well, you know), he was a fun, fun-loving, gentle giant of a dog.

One day I came home from school to learn that Cesar was gone. My mother told me that a man came to the door looking for the owner of the shepherd. He had said the dog bolted out in front of his car, and he couldn’t stop in time. I cried for days.

Whether truth or not, Cesar was gone. My white knight had been taken from me. No animal will ever come near the depth of love I had for that dog.

~~~

Do you remember your first pet? Care to share? Hopefully, it’s a little more uplifting than mine.  😉

 

***

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

Diary of A Quitter – Phase V

Diary of A Quitter

 

Phase V – Bring it

 

 

It’s been One Hundred and Thirteen days since my last cigarette. But who’s counting?

We are now in February and, honestly, the constant struggle has now become random. There are moments when I realize my mouth is actually watering for a smoke. I know that seems odd, but if you’re a smoker, you know. The frustrating thing is, these moments seem to have nothing in common. Playing with the grand kids, quietly watching television, talking on the phone, none of it matters. My body wants nicotine. It’s a fact I have to live with. I did it to myself. No one made me put that first smoke to my lips. Speaking of which, I can now recall that moment without the pangs of addiction.

On that day, I was leaving high school for my part-time job at McDonald’s. As I walked toward the school’s parking lot a girl shouted, “Hey! You got a cigarette?” In my youthful sarcasm I shouted back, “Nah. You?” And then a third person said, “C’mon over here. I got a pack.” A gorgeous guy that I’d been dying to meet held out his pack of smokes toward me.

I am now fifty-seven years old. Still wishing I’d kept walking.

Nicotine is a beast. A beast to fear, and one that demands respect. Yeah, I’ll say it. Fearfully respect the beast. No matter how long it’s been since the last smoke, that urge, the demand for more, never goes away completely. Because as much as I’d hoped it would, it doesn’t die. Every time the beast taps me on the shoulder, every time the demon smiles seductively, the fight begins anew, but for a shorter amount of time, each time. I must be strong. No one else can do it for me. Nothing else can be blamed. My own weakness wakes the monster.

Today, 113 days later, I can say with confidence that I am a non-smoker. Yes, the fight rages on, but in odd and sporadic moments. I can handle that. Not the first time I’ve quit (but it will be the last).

I fear this scene may play out for the rest of my life:

Demon: I see you’re a bit stressed. Sheesh, deadlines, am I right?

Me: Go away.

Demon: Don’t be like that. I’m here to help. Let’s get you something to de-stress.

Me: (voice weaker) Go away.

Demon: Are you sure you don’t want to take a ride? It’s been long enough. All of the nicotine must be out of your system by now. One cigarette won’t kill you.

Me:  (whimper) True, but…

Demon: Just one, then we’ll throw the rest away.

Me: (Trying to catch my breath, hands trembling) God, help me! I’m so fucking weak! (Takes a deep breath.) No! Not again! (Clenched fists.) C’mon, Demon! Is that the best you got? I said GO AWAY!

Demon: (Smiles seductively.) Okay. See you next time.

Me:  (feeling a bit stronger) Yeah. Bring it.

***

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

McShane Update

For everyone who follows my McShane series, I’ve just fixed a MAJOR plot hole (big enough to drive a truck through) in the upcoming book five. What does that mean, you might ask? Well, it means that book 5, The Lonesome Lighthouse, will be ready to send to my editor by the end of February. Which, in real time, means Amazon will see my latest installment before the end of March! I’m so excited!

If you’ve not read the Mini-Mystery books one through four, I would NOT recommend starting with book five. There are a lot of characters pulled from those previous incarnations and you might get a little lost if your unfamiliar. Each story should take a little under an hour of uninterrupted reading. You’ll find links for them at the top tab of this page marked McShane Mini-Mystery, along with a small excerpt of the work in progress (You’re welcome).

As an aside to those following the bi-sexual, billionaire redhead, you may want to brush up on the previous tales before publication.

This promises to be one of the most exciting adventures for Summer Autumn Malone McShane. One thing is certain. McShane will never be the same.

Diary of A Quitter – Phase IV

Diary of A Quitter

 

Phase IV – Frustration

It has been 64 days since I’ve told the next phase of the Quitter’s story. Allow me to explain.

Contained within those 64 days were the holidays that come to us at the end of each year. The magical time of year when we all live care-free, stress-free lives, enraptured in the joy that… (bleck!)

Meanwhile, in the real world… My fight with addiction continued. The friend that was to quit with me was unable to withstand the pressure of breaking the addiction. I couldn’t blame her. There were days that nicotine never entered my mind. But, of course there were the other days.

You may recall my mantra from Phase III.

He will not win.

I’ll not give in.

He won’t prevail.

I will not fail.

Yeah, I gave that shit up after 4 days or so. Talk about an earworm. It really got on my nerves. Reciting it through clenched teeth made me realize the mantra probably wasn’t performing its original intent. Which would be to calm me down. Right.

It seemed everything provided an extra heap of helping on what remained of my nerves. My four grandchildren, perfect as they are, really seemed to piss me off throughout December. No one would have been able to tell, because I kept my irritation to myself (I’m sure I did). Besides, there were so many other little things that annoyed me, no one could have noticed my impatience with the kids.

I was a real jewel to be around, no doubt about it. Several times I tried to write an installment of Diary, but talk about writer’s block! Whenever I considered just the title, a wave of desire for that one hit consumed me. One of the ways I distracted myself was trying to remember my first cigarette. I’m pretty sure it was 1975. I was in high school. My parents were chain smokers, and I remember the odor… hmm, that one drag sure would be nice.

DAMMIT!!

Since the holidays have passed, I’ve been finding fewer and fewer things to blame my stress on. The remarkable thing is, I have fewer and fewer reasons to need that scapegoat. The whispers of temptation still come, but they are rare. And random.

Frustration had been the rule of the day throughout the holidays. Looking back, I beat myself up over my behavior. I tried to apologize to my husband for things he doesn’t remember happening. God, I love that man.

My last smoke was October 25. It’s now February. I’ve reread my Diary, and am ready to embrace the fifth, and final, step to smoke free living. As a refresher, the opening tale, I Quit Smoking. Again. Then came the Phases. I – Busted, II – Truth, III – Struggle, and this Frustration is IV. I’m now ready for V.

And I promise, I won’t keep you guessing another 64 days.

***

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

Diary of A Quitter – Phase III

Phase III – The Struggle

 

 

I’m not gonna lie. This has been tough.

To recap the story, I lied to my world of people about the fact that I had started smoking again. Then the ONE person I truly wanted to spare the knowledge of my weakness, discovered the sham. The first phase was Busted. The second phase was me facing the Truth. Which brings the next phase of The Struggle.

I’ve wrestled the demons of addiction before. Some are stronger than others. Cocaine was a rough one to beat. But, I did. There is not a hint of desire for that demon to be back in my life. The last time I fought nicotine though, it only played dead. I know because the sensuous seduction returned when I was at my ultimate weakest to resist. Which means, unlike cocaine, it was never truly beat.

Perhaps you’re thinking there is nothing sensuous or seductive about a cigarette. Congratulations. You, my friend, are a non-smoker. However, there are others who might understand the allure of the first smoke of the morning, the after-lunch-deep-drag, or the twilight puff while watching the sunset. There are other times that are just as powerful, but these particular moments are ingrained deep in my psyche. These are the moments, for me, that the demon of nicotine is the most sensually seductive.

October 25 saw my last cigarette. Thirty-four days and counting, so far. There have been times that it never crossed my mind to have a smoke. I don’t know the why of that, or else I’d certainly share the information and engage it permanently. Because there are other days, when all of the stress just boils over.

We’re human. There will be stress. Sometimes in an overabundance. On one of these occasions, while alone and pacing through the house, I found myself looking in all of the places I’d hidden cigarettes before. None were to be found (Curse you, past self!). The car held another hiding spot. I checked there two or three times. Once with the keys in my hand, temptation to go buy a pack at the breaking point.

Between all of the searching, the question, “Why are you even looking?” screamed through my brain. The question seemed ludicrous. I tried to ignore it. The next question, “What are you going to do if you do find one?” was not so easily dismissed.

Shocked, I stopped looking. Because the answer to that question was obvious. “Smoke it. Then pretend it never happened.” I stepped back and realized what I was doing…

 

Demon: I see you’re stressed. A hit of nicotine might help ease that up a bit.

Me: Man, it really would. But I don’t have any on hand.

Demon: Are you sure? Have you checked?

My Spirit: Why are you even looking?

Me (ignoring Spirit): Yes.

Demon: Let’s check again.

My Spirit: Why are you even looking?

Me: Still nothing.

Demon: Did you check the car?

Me: Yep (rattle keys).

Demon: Let’s –

My Spirit: What are you going to do if you do find one?

Me: Smoke it. Then lie.

Demon: [Smiles]

 

This is the weakest I have felt, and the fight wages on. I cannot let the demon win. To smoke would be to allow the cancer-causing, foul-smelling, breathing-inhibitor, not to mention lie generator, back in my life.

 

My new mantra is;

He will not win.

I’ll not give in.

He won’t prevail.

I will not fail.

 

My poetry may be weak, but the struggle sure as hell ain’t.

 

***

JL Mo is mother to two full-grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

Diary of A Quitter – Phase II

Phase II – Truth

 

 

The mental gymnastics we perform in order to convince ourselves to do something that we don’t want to do are amazing. You cannot deny, at least once in your life, you’ve lied to yourself in such a convincing way that you even came to believe it. That is, until the whole thing blew up in your face.

To light a cigarette, and take that first, deep drag was my end goal. That’s all I wanted. Just that first hit. I told myself the one lungful of tar and nicotine had a calming effect on my nerves. With stress piling up, just that one hit could set me right again. Buy a pack, take that hit, then throw the rest away.

I hate smoking. I hate the way it tastes, the smell it leaves on me, the expense. All of it.

This takes strength to admit. I am strong.

I lie to myself quite well, don’t you think?

Lies. The truth and strength I’m searching for are layered in them. I put them there. Layer after layer, it had grown thicker and thicker, until the truth became unrecognizable.

My husband, in a hurt and sardonic tone, threw the spotlight on the congealed mess I’d made of things. “So, you’re lying to me.”

No! I should have screamed in protest. I’m lying to me. Not you! Me! You had nothing to do with this.

Now, the backward gymnastics begin.

I was hiding the truth. From me. And from him. I was lying. To myself first. Then him, and then just about everyone else in the end. I lied about smoking. I lied about where I was going when I went to buy that destined-for-the-trash pack. I ate something strong to cover the hideous, hated taste the cigarette left behind. Can you see all the layers I’d hidden the truth in? Because I didn’t.

As an aside to those who might wonder: I have battled the demons of addiction in many forms. The demon of nicotine is the strongest by far. No shit. I hate him.

The time had arrived to quit smoking. This time it’s permanent. (Stop snickering.) This is not new ground, it should be easy by now. It is not. Dammit, this will be the last time.

I still didn’t see the truth.

Weak from the struggle and humbled by the strength necessary to overcome my base desire, I began to pray. Scoff if you will, but I prayed hard. Prayer buoys me. To rise above the flesh and see the problem from a detached, matter-of-fact level offers more hope than I can explain. Besides, if I’m really lucky, I’ll get a God-smack of truth out of it.

While in prayer, I’m given the knowledge that this hated, hateful demon would be beaten back. Encouragement coursed through me. I am strong. That is not a lie. I will be made free of this demon. That is not a lie. God is with me (I really should pray like this more often).

I quit on a Wednesday. The first day I did pray for strength. And that prayer was granted. No secret trips to the store. Yea! The second day went smooth enough, but I did a lot of praying. I mean, a lot. My friend wasn’t going to quit for another week, and I hoped that the first couple of days would be okay for her.

Day three was a Saturday and we were going out with a few friends to a Halloween party. My soon-to-be-quitting friend offered me a nicotine patch. She reminded me that while drinking, the urge was strong, and the mind was weak. Her logic made sense. I accepted the crutch/patch gladly. The end of the night found me exhausted from dancing, inebriated, and laughing all the way home. Not a thought for a cigarette the entire time.

The morning after. I woke up with a slight headache, but attributed that to the alcohol. Duh. But a cigarette! I could think of little else. The concentration for prayer escaped me. The demon had sidled up and whispered everything would be fine with just one, deep, drag. If I had been alone I can’t say that I would’ve made it through the day smoke-free. But I wasn’t alone. My husband was there. I turned to him in my weakness, instead of sneaking off for a covert meeting with my hated demon.

Then I remembered. The nicotine patch was still adhered to my left arm.

I yanked it off, cussing.

In that moment, the realization of the ineffectiveness of this crutch hit me hard. This system is not for me. My approach to quitting is stop. Just stop. No chemicals, no bargaining, no backsliding. The inner battle is my own to deal with. This nicotine patch system still puts the drug in my body, just not through the lungs. What the F good is that? I’m fighting this addiction with every tooth and nail, and then I gave the demon exactly what it demanded? Argh! Once the delivery system on the patch ran dry, my body wanted more, and flooded me with the need for more.

It was on that Sunday the truth blew through the layers of lies.

Truth: I love the demon named Nicotine. But, if I don’t get him out of my life now, he will kill me.

As with any other abusive, toxic relationship, this must end.

God-smack received.

 

****

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.