•January 17, 2018 • 2 Comments

Holy moley it’s been a minute since I’ve been over here. My, is it dusty!

Hello! How have you been? I’m so sorry I’ve been away for so long.

I haven’t really been away, I suppose. I’ve been here all along but Life has a way of, well, getting in the way. I’ve been busy working on other things. All good things for me, not necessarily good for the blog here.

I got a new job in the summer of 2016! It’s a 9-5 office job; no more weekends or dealing with unruly consumers! I work in outsourcing now, in the engineering business. It’s much more geared towards my educational background, if not quite what I thought I’d be doing with it. It’s a pretty laid back environment and I have a lot of flexibility if I want to work extra hours or front-load a week to take off early on Friday. Plus, my boss is pretty cool.

I’d be lying if I said the pay wasn’t nice. It certainly helped stretch the budget for my wedding/honeymoon last summer. Oh yeah, I got married! I have a husband and everything!


Yeah, we got married on top of a mountain, as you do, then went off to Jamaica for his birthday our honeymoon. It was a lot of fun! I actually really enjoyed planning the wedding, but man is it exhausting. The internet is a blessing and a curse for wedding things. Sometimes too much information is a bad thing. Everything came together in the end, though. Well, mostly.

In the midst of planning all the final details, I lost my last grandfather, Opa. His heart was weak and he underwent a risky surgery to try to make it better so he could attend my wedding. He couldn’t wait to see me get married on top of a mountain. We hadn’t been particularly close in the years after my dad passed, but he was still so excited and would tell anyone who would listen that he was going to take the ski lift up a mountain to see his granddaughter married! I was the first granddaughter to be married, after all.

It wasn’t meant to be, not in this world anyway. He joined my dad and Oma for the best seats in the wedding instead. My Opa loved to talk though, and share his wisdom, so he made arrangements with my cousin, in case he couldn’t attend. He shared his secret to his 5 decades of marriage to my Oma. “Never go to bed angry. We had a lot of sleepless nights, but we never slept angry.” It was a beautiful moment after the speeches. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room.

It was a summer of weddings. Andrew’s cousin got married 2 weeks before us. My cousin got married 2 weeks after (though because of the timing and distance we were unable to go to hers). His other cousin got married in September, a week after my birthday, and he was IN that wedding. By October we were ready for some time to relax with nowhere to be!

But in the blink of an eye the holidays were upon us and that meant more traveling. Because of all the time off I took in the summer, I was actually short a day of vacation for the last week of the year, so I had to make it up. (I had initially planned on working as many hours as I could in 3 days the week before the wedding to save a vacation day for the end of the year, but after the funeral I had no energy to pull several 12+ hour days.) Luckily I was able to do training from “home.” And it was so cold out I didn’t want to be out anywhere anyway.

Spending time with family is always nice, but after the holidays I was ready to start devoting time to writing again. One of the gifts I got was the 300 Writing Prompts book from Piccadilly Inc. and I thought “Wouldn’t it be cool if I shared a prompt a day on my blog?”

So I hopped on my computer and made my way back into my WP dashboard to start tweaking the settings and updating the blog theme to be new and fresh. “But Sara, everything looks the same!” Ah, yes, observant reader, that’s because I did not actually change anything here.

As I was fumbling my way through the design settings it occurred to me my theme is ancient and changing it would be irreversible. I am stubborn and set in my ways, and this site’s identity, at least as far as I am concerned, is tied to the theme I chose way back in 2011 or 2012.

I had a specific theme in mind for the blog with the writing prompts and it didn’t fit here on this quirky hodgepodge of blatherings. I also did not want to completely wipe Time Well Wasted back to a clean slate. See, TWW is a place for me to rant and rave about whatever strikes my fancy, a pure digital journal of my thoughts. I wasn’t ready to let that go.

But a clean slate was just what I needed. I wanted a place specifically for my writing. So I added a new site and started from scratch. I plan to update it regularly. I have a year’s worth of prompts to get through, and from there I guess we’ll see.

This is not to say I am never going to post here ever again. If I’m feeling particularly feisty about something that isn’t tied to my writing, I’ll definitely come post it in here. After all, that’s what Time Well Wasted is all about.

However, if you’re still interested in following my more “serious” writing, head on over to Closet Full of Notebooks! Starting next week there will be daily posts, every Monday-Friday!

Until then! *hugs and kisses*

PS-Oh yeah, one more newsy thing. After the wedding, I cut off all my hair!


Life’s too short to play it safe and keep doing the same old thing. I’d been growing it out for 7 years and was so ready to cut it off. I stayed the course so I could have Elvish braids for my wedding, but it was so liberating to finally get rid of it.

Do things that scare you! (Within reason, eating Tide pods doesn’t count.) Take that trip you’ve been wanting to take! Dye your hair a vibrant color! Talk to that person you admire! Let them know they’re appreciated! Start that video gaming stream you’ve been talking about for forever! Start your novel! The time is now! You can do it! I believe in you!

Now, go!


•May 11, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Just like with any muscle, your brain needs exercise.  As a writer this means writing and reading and researching and practicing and writing.  Yes, I said writing twice, it’s that important.  I’ve let my skills grow lax because I don’t write every day as I should.  Part of my problem with that is if I can’t think of anything to write for my story(ies), then I simply don’t write at all.  But I also realize that if I’m not at least trying to write something then I may never get the inspiration/motivation to further my tales.  That’s not fair to my characters and it’s not fair to my audience, even if that audience is just myself and my cats. Ok and a small handful of people I actually make read what writing I do do. (Heh, I said doodoo.  This just in: I might actually be a five year old.)

Anyway, on a not unrelated note, I love Pinterest.  Pinterest is great.  I find recipes and funny pictures and projects and wedding ideas.  (Oh yeah, I’m getting married next year.  Neat, right?)  There are also loads of writing prompts and exercises.  (Side note, exercise is such a weird word to spell and that time it took me three tries to get it right.)  I save many of them but never actually do anything with them.  My last post was a rare, on-the-fly, totally-didn’t-edit story idea that was spawned from an image I found when browsing one of the “Writing” boards I follow.  Aside from the Lyrical stories I’ve done in the past, that was the first one I wrote from a prompt.  It also screams for me to go back and edit/add to it, but that’s a project for another day.

Today I was going to work more on the fanfic I had been working on for NaNo but I completely hit a wall with the plot about a month ago and still cannot bring myself to go any further right now.  I was just going to give up and close Word and head back over to Pinterest or keep reading more Tokyo Ghoul (spoiler: I am definitely a manga/anime nerd).  But as I was staring at my empty Word document I remembered a post I had seen once where someone had challenged someone else to describe the color red without ever actually using the word “red” or any similar color.  The result was beautiful and even though “red” was never written, I could see it plain as day.

I have many weak points when it comes to my writing, and I am painfully aware of each one.  I overuse the passive voice, a habit I have actually been working very hard to break with editing here and there.  I also use more words than are really necessary at times.  But my biggest weakness is probably my descriptors, or rather the lack thereof.  I have a horrid habit of telling instead of showing and it kills me.  So when the idea of describing colors came to mind I thought “Hey, that would be a perfect exercise to work on my descriptions.”  And so I did one.  I could probably do better/more, but at least it’s a start.  And I’ll probably try other colors at some point too.  But for now, I’ll leave you with this.

“It is warmth, the gentle caress of the sun. It peppers the grass and lines the roadways after an early June rain. It’s the juicy, sweet flesh of a ripe, southern fruit. It shines off the water as you lazily row along.  It is summer.  It’s the sound of children laughing in the morning and afternoon, showing off their new clothes and admiring backpacks.  It is the ground as the air grows drier and colder.  The trees shed their accoutrements and it blankets the ground below in a bountiful mosaic.  It is autumn.  It is a warning.  Do not eat.  It is heat, emanating from a brick alcove, crackling and dancing as it consumes the wood which gives it life.  It is a rare treasure in a season of darkness, glinting off the snow as you glide along on your skis.  It is winter.  It is a bed of daffodils, a sign of rebirth.  It is the afternoon sky, pushing the darkness back a little more each night.  It is spring.  It is bright and soft and welcoming. It is peace. It is mellow.”

The Notebook

•April 4, 2016 • 1 Comment


It was a simple enough instruction.  IF FOUND DO NOT OPEN.  Problem is, I have a bit of an impulse control problem.  Someone says “don’t” and I go ahead and “do”.  The tattered leather-bound notebook was just begging me to look inside it with that declaration.  What could possibly go wrong? It was just an old notebook.

So, I disregarded the warning label and went ahead and opened it.  And you know what? Nothing happened.  The weathered pages were blank.  I flipped through the whole thing twice, just to be sure.  I won’t deny that I was a little disappointed.  I didn’t expect anything catastrophic, but I did think there might be some interesting reading in there.  At the very least, a note admonishing me from disobeying the prime directive or something.  The only thing of interest was a small stylus tucked in the binding.

Dissatisfied, I was going to just drop it back on the ground where I’d found it and continue on my way home.  I still don’t know why I brought it with me.  I probably looked a little ridiculous walking down the street with that notebook clutched in my hands.

I am not a small man, and I don’t exactly look like much of a scholar.  My muscles might earn my living but I have read as many books as I have been in fights.  No one knows this about me of course; it wouldn’t fit my image.  Of course, I also have no close friends to discover this.  Comes with the territory of being a maverick.

So the fact that I carried it out in front of me instead of just tucking it inside my jacket was very out of character for me.  Someone I knew might have seen me and started asking questions.  They might have wanted to open the notebook themselves.  I couldn’t allow that. I would have to kill them if they tried.  I found it.  That made it mine.

Why would I need to murder someone over my notebook?  I don’t know why that thought occurred to me, just that it made sense at the time.  Thankfully, I didn’t encounter any of my acquaintances. No one had to die that day.

I put the notebook on my coffee table when I got home.  Home was a tiny two bedroom apartment seven stories up with floor-to-ceiling bookcases filled to bursting in every room.  My bed was a ratty old couch with a flat pillow and a light blanket.  The bedrooms had all my workout equipment, from my treadmill to my dumbbells, tools to keep my muscles ready for work.  I used them every day.  They collected dust that night.

It had started to rain by the time I got to my building.  The weather was always fickle around that time of year.  Warm and pleasant one minute then cold and miserable the next.  It had been a warm morning and the forecast was for sunshine all day so I had left the windows open to air the place out.  Now I had to close them.  I couldn’t risk my books getting wet.  The notebook could not get wet.

I pulled a quick-serve meal from the freezer and tossed it in the microwave.  Most nights I actually cooked for myself; the microwave dinners were for late nights or quick lunches.  That night was neither, but I needed to eat something quick because I couldn’t leave the notebook alone.  I needed to figure out its secrets.  It had to have secrets.  Why else would someone write DO NOT OPEN on it if there was nothing to be found?

I burned my tongue on the lava-infused cheese of my nuked dinner.  I didn’t even taste it, I practically inhaled it, ignoring it as it scalded the back of my throat.  I left the empty plastic container on the counter, dirty fork tossed unceremoniously inside, and returned to the living room to the notebook.

I sat perched on the edge of the couch, knowing I would sink into the cushions otherwise.  My hands gripped the notebook so tight my knuckles started to turn white.  Why?  Why was I so fixated on this stupid simple book of blank pages?  Why wasn’t it supposed to be opened?  What was supposed to happen to the person who found it?

I laid it open on the table and fetched a pen from a cup on one of my bookshelves.  Maybe if I tried writing in it…

The phone rang.  My blood boiled.  How could someone interrupt me during so crucial a moment?  I glanced at the caller ID.  It was my partner. Well, he was technically my boss, he signed my paychecks, figuratively speaking, but we came to an agreement long ago that he would never treat me as a lowly employee.  I couldn’t just ignore his call.  It meant there was work to be done.

I swallowed my rage and picked up the receiver. “Yo, Isaac, what have you got for me?”

“Hey champ, gonna need you down at the docks tonight.  Moving some cargo and one of my guys bailed.”  Isaac never called me by name.  It was always champ, or buddy, or slugger, or some ridiculous iteration of the sort.  I think it was his way of being friendly so I never called him out on it.  Still, it was annoying.

“What time?”  I tried not to sigh and let my frustration show.  It was always best to get straight to business with Isaac.

“Can you be there by 11?”

I looked at the clock on the wall.  It was already a quarter past ten.  When did it get so late?  I rubbed my forehead between my eyebrows.  I could feel a headache coming on.  “Sure thing Isaac.  I’ll be there.”

A whoop came from the other end of the line.  “That’s what I like to hear!  Dude, you are the best.  A real life saver.  That’s why I know I can depend on you!”

It was always like this.  He always acted like it was a life or death situation and always over exaggerated his relief when I accepted the job.  He paid well, though, so I never called him out on that either.  “Are we expecting company?”  Sometimes the jobs Isaac had for me got messy so I preferred to be prepared.

“Nah, should be a cut and dry transfer.  Just need you to do some heavy lifting.  I’m sure you’ll still be ready in case I’m wrong.”  Isaac laughed.  He was rarely wrong.  Still, I had a weird feeling about this job.

“Alright Isaac, if that’s all, I’ll get ready and head down.”

“Fantastic.  See you later, pal!”  Click.  Dial tone. I stared at the notebook lying on the table.  My stomach roiled as I realized I would have to wait until after the job to get to the bottom of the mystery.  Slamming the pen on the table, I stormed over to one of my bookshelves and started removing several tomes.

Behind them was my safe.  I frequently changed the books that hid it so they didn’t seem conspicuous.  I opened it and grabbed my folding knuckle knife and my throwing knives.  I hoped I wouldn’t need them, but in our line of work it was good practice to be prepared for the worst case scenario.

I locked my apartment and headed to the elevator.  It was sketchy at best.  Normally I would take the stairs, but I wanted to conserve my energy for the job.  The doors opened up and I hesitated to get in.  The interior lighting was dying, and the flickering bulb cast eerie shadows on the carpet inside.  I’d never noticed before how the pattern resembled blood splatter.

Not that that bothered me.  I’d created plenty of blood splatter in my work, it wasn’t something that unnerved me.  I hesitated because the flickering light aggravated the dull throbbing in my head.  I debated what would be worse, the elevator or the stairs.

“You shouldn’t have opened it.”  There was a woman in the carriage. I hadn’t noticed her at first.

“Excuse me?”  How did she know about the notebook? Had she been watching me?

“The door.  You shouldn’t have opened it if you weren’t planning on taking it.”

Relief washed over me. “Sorry.  I just spaced out for a second.”  She gave a noncommittal shrug and grunted.  I’d never seen her before.  The ride would certainly be faster than taking the stairs, so I stepped in.  The doors closed behind me.  The light continued to dance on the walls.  “That thing is going to give me a headache,” I said as jovially as I could muster.

My grin faded when my eyes fell on her again.  Her eyes were black and unsmiling.  A low keening was coming from her, though her mouth was closed.  I smelled blood under all her perfume.

“Are you ok?” she asked.  The light flickered again.  Her eyes were brown, not black.  The keening was just the grinding of the cables.  I looked down at my hands and realized I had been clutching my fists so tight that I had drawn blood.  I wiped them on my pants and took several deep breaths.

I laughed.  “I think I need a vacation.”  Maybe that was true.  I had never had a vacation before.  I was always working odd jobs for Isaac.  I could certainly afford one.  Well, that didn’t exactly suit my image either.  Maybe that’s why I had never taken one.

The elevator came to a stop and the doors opened to the lobby.  I beckoned for her to take her leave ahead of me.  She bowed her head in thanks and sauntered past me.  Following her, I also made sure to hold the main door for her.  They say chivalry is dead, but I don’t believe that.

The rain still poured down.  She was dressed to the nines in a sleek crimson form-fitting floor-length evening gown complete with gloves to her elbows and her short dark hair neatly covered under a matching cap with a birdcage veil.  She looked like she had fallen out of a Prohibition-era fashion catalogue. “You probably don’t want to ruin that lovely gown in this.”

She frowned.  “I had hoped it would let up by the time I left.  Guess I was wrong.”

“Want me to hail you a cab?”

“I was planning on walking.  It’s good for my health.”  She flashed the first smile I’d seen all night.  She stunned me with that smile.

“Here,” I offered her my umbrella.  I didn’t really need it anyway.  I didn’t mind the rain.  “The theater isn’t too far from here.  I’d escort you, but I’m headed to work the other direction and I’m on a bit of a tight schedule.”

She popped the umbrella open and held it over her head.  “You’re an owl, huh.  What are you, a torpedo?”

Was it 20s night somewhere?  Not only was she dressed the part, she spoke in the vernacular of the era.  I figured I could play along.  “Something like that, doll.”  I wasn’t wearing a hat, but I mimed tipping a hat to her.  “Take care now.”

As I walked away I heard her say something else.  “You were warned.  You shouldn’t have opened it.”  I turned around to question her but she was gone.  The rain that never chilled me did so then.  I touched my breast pocket to feel the notebook, to assure myself it was still safe.  What did she know?  There was nothing wrong with opening it.  It was just a notebook.

I put her out of my mind and made my way to the docks where Isaac was waiting for me.  He had roughly a dozen wooden crates that needed to be unloaded from a ship onto a truck.  I never asked what was in the crates.  It was better if I didn’t know.  I just assumed it was either drugs or weapons.

He had a couple other guys helping so it only took a couple hours to finish the job.  The truck left to whatever destination was in store for the crates.  Probably a warehouse.  That was usually the case.  Isaac handed each of us an envelope full of cash.  Everything we did for Isaac was under the table.  No paper trail, no taxes.

“It’s not like you to just let a guy bail on you,” I mused aloud while counting the bills.

“Nah man, this one was ok.  Ricky’s wife was having their first son.  Couldn’t let the guy miss that.  He had let me know it was getting close so I wasn’t surprised when I got the call. Still, he’ll be pulling double time on the next job to make it up to me.”

“That sounds more like you.”  I laughed.

Isaac laughed too and clapped me on the back.  He wasn’t as big as me, but he was still a strong man.  The force of his clap knocked the notebook out of my jacket.  My stomach dropped.  “What’s this, buddy?”  He reached for it.  “’DO NOT OPEN’, huh? What, is this a diary?  Didn’t take you for the writing type.”

I barely recognized my own voice as I shouted at him.  “DON’T. TOUCH. IT.” It was too late.  The notebook was already in his hands.  I couldn’t let him open it.  It was mine.  I don’t know when I had put my hand in my knuckle knife, but his jaw cracked when I hit him with it.  I heard a couple teeth roll on the pavement.

He staggered to his feet.  “What the shit, man?  What is your problem?!”  He still held the notebook.  I swung again, but he was ready for me the second time. He ducked and hollered at the other two to restrain me.  My knives found their vital spots before their hands could reach me.  Isaac’s eyes went wide.  I don’t know if it was rage or fear behind them, but he’s just as dead either way.  I cut off the hand clutched to my notebook and then jammed the blade into his throat.

The rain washed the worst of the blood off my jacket by the time I got home.  The night manager at my building didn’t even spare a glance for me.  I took the seizure elevator back up to my floor.  My key turned after three jiggles.  It was a temperamental lock.  It always took three jiggles to open.  I dropped my wet coat on the floor and cradled the notebook against my chest.  It had been defiled by Isaac’s hand.  How could I have been so careless?

I saw the pen on the coffee table and remembered I had been planning to write in it when he had interrupted me.  Truthfully, I hadn’t known what I was going to write, but Isaac had given me an idea.  I’d never had a diary before, but maybe I could write about my day.  Maybe that would relieve my headache.

I picked up the pen and started to write.  Nothing appeared on the page.  I could have sworn it was a brand new pen.  I tried it on a spare piece of paper.  It worked just fine.  I tried it again on the notebook and again it failed to write.  I tried every pen I had.  Testing it on the scratch paper between attempts.  In the end my test page looked like a piece of abstract modern art while my notebook remained naked.

My eyes were hot with tears.  I just wanted to write my story in it.  Was that so much to ask?  I had never been so frustrated as a grown man and I had seen The Bourne movies after reading the books.  I was about to call it a night when I recalled the stylus in the binding.

Curious, I pulled it from its sleeve and put it to a blank spot on the test page.  Nothing happened.  There was no ink in it, it was just a stylus.  Still, I thought it must have a purpose if it came with the notebook.  I put it to the paper. “Please.” I don’t know why I spoke it aloud as I wrote it, but the word ‘please’ appeared in dark red ink as I moved the stylus across the page.

My heart skipped a beat.  It had worked.  I let out a whoop, which caused one of my neighbors to pound on the wall.  I didn’t care.  It wasn’t hopeless.  I could write in my notebook.  I could feel the tears streaming down my face.

I bent back over the notebook, but I was met with the blank page again.  What? I know I wrote on the page.  One of my tears splashed on the page.  It was as red as the ink from the stylus.  I watched as the page absorbed it.

Slowly, shakily, I brought my hand to my face and wiped the tears from my cheek.  My fingers were smeared red.  I brought one to my mouth and spat when I tasted blood.  What was this? My body felt like ice.

The stylus was still in my hand.  It hovered over the notebook, shaking. I needed to write more.  I needed answers.  I knew the stylus would guide me to those answers.  It would reveal the secrets of the notebook.  Trembling, I put the tip to page once more.

You were warned. You shouldn’t have opened it.

The woman’s last words to me.  She still had my umbrella.  That wasn’t important. Why was I thinking of her?

She was the first to find this book.  Evelyn Morrissey. She was assimilated in 1926.

Assimilated?  My headache grew worse with each word I transcribed.  Tears of blood streamed from my eyes and fell to the page, being absorbed as I continued to write.  Why had I opened it? How many people had opened it before me?

You do not follow the rules. You will be the eighty-ninth such rebel to join our ranks. It has begun and there is only one thing left to do.

The notebook had taken eighty-eight lives?  What could I do?  All I wanted was to write about my day.

That is all that is left.

My blood drained onto the page as I began.

It was a simple enough instruction.

Degree or not Degree?

•March 20, 2013 • 2 Comments

Well, here I am. A college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics, but no career plans whatsoever. For as long as the question “what do you want to be when you grow up” has been asked me, I have not even had the slightest inkling as to what I want to do for the rest of my life. The main reason I even got my bachelor’s degree was because it seemed the thing to do. If I was ever going to find a career, I would need a degree first.  But that didn’t really interest me all that much either.  I had no idea what to use a Math degree for aside from teaching, which also didn’t interest me.  I didn’t care for half the classes I had to take to satisfy my degree requirements (and because of that almost failed to achieve my degree at all).  The ones I elected to take, those free electives, were the ones I did best in because I was interested in them from the start. In the 10 months since earning my degree, the one thing I miss about college (and quite possibly regret not doing now) is learning new things. Expanding my knowledge. I want to know how to do so much stuff.  I am a fast learner too.  Show me how to do something once and I can (almost) always do it by myself after that. Sometimes I need a refresher or reminder here and there in the first couple times, but once I’ve done something myself, I don’t easily forget it.

My point, and I’m straying far from being able to make it coherently, is that after all this, I think I’ve finally figured out what I want to do with my life. And what I don’t want to do. I don’t want to work for anyone anymore. I don’t want to have to answer to anyone but myself. I want to be the one to tell other people what to do, to do things my own way, and I’ll never get that unless I work my way up through some company or another. The only way to achieve this my way would be to become an entrepreneur.  But I don’t know the first thing about building a business or maintaining one or all the legal paths I would have to take once I got to the point of starting my own business.  Andrew suggested I get my MBA. It’s a fine idea, but here’s my issue.  I would need to do it as cheaply as I could (money is the bane of my existence) and would like to do it online. But I don’t know how I would go about doing such a thing.

While I was thinking about all this stuff and just browsing the internet, Stumble brought me straight to the University of Phoenix’s homepage. Eerie, but whatever. I got curious and was about to request information when I realized what I was doing. I didn’t even know if U of Phoenix degrees were even taken seriously. So I started searching for accredited online MBA programs. I’m fairly certain most are out of my price range (not to mention it would take me forever to earn my degree while working two part time jobs and blah blah blah) and I worry my grades from undergrad could keep me from acceptance to any of them anyway.  Which brings me back to the point of “does it even matter where the degree is from if all I want is to gain the knowledge to do what I want to do?” I’m not planning on applying to any companies with my degree (if I even complete the course of study), I simply want the know-how to be able to be my own boss and own my own business.  Specifically, I want to turn run-down, dilapidated, abandoned businesses back into something worthwhile.  Bring jobs back into struggling communities, restore potentially historic sites back to their former glory, etc.  Living in an area that feels the squeeze of the economic times, I see a lot of businesses come and go, and some that have been empty since I moved here, and I want to change that.  But how do I get to that point? Is an MBA necessary? Or would a few courses in relevant topics be enough? What do you think?

A New Beginning

•November 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Oh. Hello there. Fancy to meet you here. How long has it been? Too long, I know. I’m so sorry. I’ve been a little sapped in the creative juices since I picked up the second job.  Most days I wind up working them both and by the time I get home and make dinner and get settled for the evening, I’m just too tired to think about writing anything. I don’t get many days off from both jobs, and the days I only work one or the other I’m out running errands or catching up on reading or trying to have a social life. And Time Well Wasted has suffered for it. I sincerely apologize for that, and I’m really gonna try to work on that.

That being said, I’ve been hit with the creative bus and have begun working on a new story, a potential novel. I’m not mentioning this because I plan on posting any of it here. I may, to get a feel for the potential reception, but I have a very poor habit of telling far too many people too many details of an idea I have and then it becomes diluted and fizzles out. I just need to write and let it happen.

Ok Sara, that’s great and all, but what’s the point of this if you aren’t planning to share the story with us? Well, the point is that I’ve begun researching the possibility of publishing and the potential difficulties that will arise when I finally go to acquire an agent. Writer’s Digest has been incredibly insightful and has given me much to think about as I begin this journey. The least of which entails my credibility as a writer. One of the many things they look for in up and coming authors is awards and writing degrees. I have none of these. For me, writing is a hobby, a hobby which I have been told I have talent. It is a hobby I would one day  like to share with the world and if a lack of awards or a MFA in writing stands in my way, I’ll find a way around it.

That is where my blog comes in. Another way to establish some credibility is with a platform, like a website for my writing, kinda like this right here. That means I need to garner more followers, here and on Twitter and other social networks. To do this I will need to write much more frequently as well as invest more time into reading other blogs and following other writers. I am aware that this will be difficult as I also try to juggle two jobs, but I am working on better budgeting my time just as I am with my money.

So I suppose what this big missive is trying to say is to expect to see more of me in the coming weeks as I sort out my schedule and get back into the habit of writing. The sequel to my ninja story is still in the works, in progress even, as well as more short stories spawned from lyrics or dreams or the most obscure of thoughts. If you are still following me here despite my absence, I thank you and hope you will continue to support me as I take this next step. I hope I can still entertain you and I will do my best not to disappoint.

Much love,

An Open Letter to Walmart Cashiers

•August 27, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The hiatus is over!  Sorry about that folks, but I’ve been in a bit of a creative funk of late.  Between craziness inserting itself into my family life, summer shenanigans, and picking up a second job which is sapping me of much of my creative energy, I have been at a lack of ideas for writing.  Well, that’s only a half truth.  I’ve had a lot of ideas but have failed to implement them.  There’s a lot of words in my head that want to get out and this is the easiest way for me to start letting them loose.

This letter will mark the first in a series of open letters that I plan on writing.  I’ve had this idea for a while and have actually done several already, but in the form of an internal monologue, usually sparked by an inane comment or just the sheer stupidity of some people and directed at the person or people in question. I’m going to start actually writing them down now and posting them. These will more likely than not fall into the “rants” classification of the tagline to my blog. Prepare for snarkiness and an over abundance of sarcasm and perhaps even some satire and irony. Today’s letter was actually conceived this afternoon after a shopping trip to Walmart.

Dear Walmart Cashiers & Your Supervisors,

I understand that you do not have to have the highest IQ to be a cashier at the world’s largest corporate retail trap (and I’m also fairly convinced that if your IQ is in fact 90 or above you are overqualified to work here), but it doesn’t take a genius to know that you need to hire drones who can at least do basic math to handle your registers.  I shop at your establishment because I live in a small town and it is the only place I can purchase certain products.  It also helps that your prices are significantly less than your competition.

When I brought my merchandise to the register to check out today, I paid in cash.  My total came to $12.96 and I handed the woman $13. She took my money and put it in the register before I had a chance to dig out a penny from my change pocket.  No big deal, she would just have to give me a nickel instead of the four pennies she would have given me.

Well one might think I had asked her to give me all the money in her drawer the way she looked at me as I said “Here, I’ve got a penny for you.”  After staring at it for a moment with uneasiness, she informed me she couldn’t do that as it would “mess everything up.” I’ve dealt with her kind before so I very kindly informed her all she needed to do was give me a nickel and she could keep all five pennies. She shook her head as she begrudgingly took it and told me “they don’t like when we do that.” I took told her everything would be fine, wished her a great day, took my purchase, and left her to likely complain to her other coworkers about how pushy and what a rude person I had been, giving her my penny and demanding a nickel after she had already put my thirteen dollars into her drawer.

To that cashier and all others who would have responded the same way, let me tell you something I know from my 7 years working retail.  “They” have no way of knowing exactly what bills and coins come through your drawer during the course of your shift.  All that “they” care about is the bottom line and that the total amount of cash in your drawer at the end of the day is equal to the amount of cash your register says was tendered. Someone could have paid you twenty dollars in coin at the start of your shift, and by the end of it you might have gone through most of it giving change to other customers. That twenty dollars is still in your till when you pull it, just in the form of bills or other coins.  Do not blame your supervisors just because you can’t do the simple math of adding a few cents to the change total when a customer gives you some change after the fact.

If you absolutely have to, count out the change your computer says you owe, then take what extra the customer gave you, and give it all back in the fewest coins possible. If you have a hand full of pennies, put five back in your drawer and take out a nickel. If you have two nickels, make them into a dime. If you have two dimes and a nickel, make them a quarter, etc. The reason the customer is giving you the extra change after you’ve already taken their bills (whether because they found the change after telling you they didn’t have it or because you just jumped the gun and didn’t wait for them to give you the coin) is because they don’t want the extra coin weighing down their wallet, purse, pocket, whatever.

And if it truly is the case where the supervisor told you not to do that, I have this to say. Whoever had that bright idea needs to work the register and explain to all his or her customers why they have to deal with excess change they don’t want when the cashier could easily just make the change for them.  Save your cashiers from educated people like me who will likely ruin their day by handing them change after paying with bills and make them feel awful because they can’t make a nickel out of five pennies.

A College Graduate and Disgruntled Customer

Coping Mechanism

•July 9, 2012 • Leave a Comment

It’s time for another rant. When something is really bothering me or has me very angry, writing is one of the things I do to help bring me back down.  Somehow, getting it out on paper (or on screen, as in this case) makes a world of difference.

Now, I’m a pretty easy going person.  It takes a lot to get under my skin (siblings excluded).  And you have to be easy going to work in any customer service venue, be it retail, fast food, whatever.  Right now, I currently work in fast food.  The customers are not an issue.  My coworkers are not an issue.  My boss, on the other hand, tends to be an issue.  Whether it’s asinine commentary, unnecessary rudeness, or complete laziness, the guy is a total jerk.  He’s not liked by anyone in our store, and even his bosses don’t really like him.

Well they’ve been cracking down on him lately because things have been going wrong a lot lately. He doesn’t order enough of a certain product, or doesn’t schedule enough people, or fudges his own hours.  The scheduling thing is absurd.  I’ve never worked at a place where the schedule for the following week wasn’t done with at least three days between the end of the current work week and the start of the following, and in most cases schedules are done at least two weeks in advance.  This week’s schedule wasn’t done until the day before.

Now, I requested this weekend off, several weeks ago mind you, for my sister’s graduation party.  When looking at my schedule for the week, I noticed I am scheduled for Friday, the day of the party.  Thinking he just missed it, as he has in the past, I brought it up to him toward the end of my shift. There are already four other people scheduled and we usually only have four people on Fridays.  I figured it shouldn’t be much of an issue.

He turned on me and told me I had to be there.  When I mentioned I wasn’t going to be in town, he said that I’d only written “out of town” for Saturday and Sunday and that I could go to the party when I got out of work. I informed him that the party was three hours away and he told me it wasn’t his fault he had no one else to schedule.  He apparently “needed” to have five people scheduled. (Guess who isn’t going to be there himself?) When I tried to press the issue he told me “Either you work on Friday, or you don’t work here anymore.”

And with that he went to go get changed for his second job. (Another reason the big bosses aren’t too keen with him.)  That set me off.  I stormed to the back to finish my water.  The shift supervisor on for the morning just gaped as if she couldn’t believe what she just overheard. She took me aside and told me to talk to the assistant manager later so that she could inform the district manager of the threat that was just made against me.  I said it was already on my mind to do so and was glad she agreed with me.

Just before he clocked out, my manager came back and said he would talk to the DM to see about getting someone else to come cover my shift.  He also said to ask him later and that today was just a bad day.  It was the closest thing to an apology as I would get, but it did not excuse his behavior, nor did it quell the emotional boil that was roiling inside of me up to that moment.  After he left, it all spilled over and I couldn’t stop myself from crying.  I never cry, and certainly not in public.  My shift supervisor talked me down (as they have to do with her pretty often, she’s an emotional one herself) and my shift was almost over anyway.  We joked about what a jerk he is and they made me feel better.

I still have to go back in to talk to the assistant manager, but I’m sure my shift supervisor already filled her in.  They’ve never seen me upset before so it was probably the first thing she said when she came in.

I do feel better now that I’ve gotten this all out, here as well as vocally to my boyfriend and to my mother. I really don’t hate my job, I just had a bad afternoon.  I had an interview this morning for a second job at Price Chopper to supplement my hours at Arby’s.  I’ve heard they pay better anyway so even if he did get to fire me, it wouldn’t be like I’d be out of a job.  At least, the hiring manager seemed interested in hiring me. Fingers crossed!

I’ll work on getting some more stories out too.  Dunno when, but I’ve got a few ideas in the works. Until next time!

It Could Happen to You

•July 8, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The call came just as she was settling into her comfortable couch after a long day at work.  She was home alone for the weekend and was planning to make the most of her evening.  Caller ID revealed that her mother was calling. Odd, she thought, as she knew her mother would be on her way to work at that time on a Saturday evening. Maybe she’s off tonight? “Hi mom,” she answered, her voice inflecting curiosity.

“Shannon, I’m on my way into work,” she began, “and I knew you had to work earlier so I didn’t want to bother you.  I also didn’t want you to find out through Facebook or something…”  Shannon sat up in her seat.  She knew her mother was hiding something; the woman had a tendency to talk around a problem she didn’t really want others to worry about. “I just wanted to let you know Erica had a little accident today.”

There it was.  The elephant had entered the room.  Shannon knew there was more to it, or her mother wouldn’t have bothered calling.  “How bad was it, mom?”  Erica was five years her junior and had only recently acquired her driver’s license.

There was a pause at the other end as her mother hesitated, “Well, she was leaving work at the campsite, and you know how bad those roads are, hairpin turns and such, and as she was pulling out of the driveway to go to her second job, a motorcyclist came around the bend and hit her car.”

“Oh my god! Is she ok? Is HE ok? Is the car salvageable?” The floodgates had been opened and only a few of the dozen questions that filled her mind came out.

“Erica’s shaken, but physically ok. The biker wasn’t in as great shape,” her mom went on sadly. “They say it’s not hopeless, but it’s really up in the air.  The car is totaled.  I haven’t seen it, I was at work when it happened. Don’t know that I want to.”  Shannon could hear the stress in her voice and wondered how she could possibly go into work at a time like this. But such was the nature of her profession and there was no one else to call in to cover for her.

“It’ll be ok.  Is she home?” she asked.

Her mother sighed and Shannon knew she was nodding her head. “Yeah, they had to sedate her to take her to the hospital, she was just so upset.  She thought the guy had died on impact.  Knowing that he’s alive has helped her a little, I think, but the fact that we just don’t know his condition now is taking its toll.”

Shannon nodded silently as she listened. “You have to work late?”

The disgruntled snort from the other end was more than enough confirmation but her mother also spoke, “Yeah, we have the two cruises tonight because they’re doing fireworks on the lake.”

“What about Cassie? Does she have to work late too?” Cassandra was another sister, three years her junior, still living at home, and like a second mom to the youngest sister, Meghan.  Cassie worked long hours at her position in middle management for the games department at the local amusement park.

“She’s trying to get out early, but you know how her boss is.”

Shannon snorted this time.  Matt was a slave driver and did not treat his employees as well as they were used to with their previous bosses, if at all.  “Well, do you think I should come home for the night?” she asked, her offer sincere. “I don’t have to work tomorrow and if I leave right now, I’d be home before either of you.”

“Only if you want to dear,” her mother replied. “It’s a long drive.”

“It’s not that bad.”  The three hour journey was nothing to her anymore, she’d driven it so many times. Besides, she wanted to be with her family when they needed each other most instead of sitting at home by herself worrying about her sister.  “I’ll see you tonight.”

They spoke their salutations and she bid her mother good luck on the evening’s shows.  She called her boyfriend to let him know what was going on and to get all the crying out before she hit the road.  The thought of losing any more family, especially her sisters, scared her to death.  Once she was composed, she packed an overnight bag and hit the road.  She grabbed dinner on the way, and turned up her music.  There was something therapeutic about the drive, and she was sure she made the right choice when she arrived at her destination with almost no traffic to hold her up.  Any traffic lights she came across either turned green as she got to them, or were already green.

She pulled into the driveway to find Cassie’s car already there.  When she ran into the house, she found Erica was sleeping (or trying to) in her bed.  She wasn’t in a talking mood, and Shannon couldn’t really blame her.  The only thing she really had to say was that Shannon didn’t need to drive all the way down to see her. “Hush,” Shannon said, “of course I did.”

Despite the circumstances, it was nice to be home with her family for a little while.  She rarely got to see or talk to Cassie whenever she did come home and the two spent much of the evening catching up.  When their mother finally returned, they had cocktails and discussed the details that they hadn’t had time to delve into earlier.  After an emotional evening, and a very long day, she finally retired to the couch.

The following day she went to see the car, to see if they could find her phone, which had gotten tossed around the car in the accident, and her glasses.  They emptied the car of all her belongings, phone and glasses included, and returned home to spend the day by the pool. Erica even came out frequently, though she was still uncharacteristically reticent.  “I am glad you came,” she softly confided at one point in the afternoon. The two girls fought often, so this was also uncharacteristic.

After the relaxing day, she gave her sister a big hug and reassured her that all would be ok. She had to make the return trip that night because she had to work the following morning.  She wished she could stay longer, but her love would be waiting to comfort her when she returned home.  And she knew she would be back in a couple weeks for Erica’s graduation party.  “I love you,” she said as she released the embrace, “and I’ll be back in a couple of weeks.” There was a flicker of the old Erica in her eyes as Shannon spoke, and she knew Erica would be ok, in time.


This is a true story. It happened a week ago to my sister.  Some details have been tweaked for the sake of literature, but the main story really happened.  The biker is expected to recover, which we found out a few days later through a friend of a friend of his family (talk about six degrees of separation) and my sister is doing much better now that she knows this and has been back to work for a while.  I don’t believe she’s been back to the job where the accident occurred (not sure my mom would even let her) but she is at the same amusement park our other sister works at.  The names in the story have all been changed.  Once upon a time each of us had a different intended name before we were born, and the names used in this tale are those names (or middle names).  I was going to write this last week after I got home, sort of my own way of coping, but I figured I’d let it go for a while to see how the details progressed.  Now that this little excitement in our lives has played itself near to the end, I felt this was a decent time to write.  Plus, I hadn’t written anything in weeks, despite my several tries at sitting down and just writing.

To wrap this up I’ll just say one more thing: Even though this time around no one was killed, it still serves as a lesson to always look twice and keep a keen eye out for motorcycles.  It is the season, and you can prevent an accident if you just practice more vigilance.  Look twice, save a life. Have a good week everyone!

A Promise

•June 24, 2012 • Leave a Comment

[Well, here it is! the final chapter of what I am coming to consider the prequel to the tale of the brave Captain and his ninja ally.  The full telling of their adventure is yet to come and I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief glimpse into their tale.  Be on the lookout for new material in the weeks to follow, including some recipes perhaps! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll just leave this here with you as I go curl up to finish the first book of the Wheel of Time series. Until next time!]

The sun was beginning to get low in the sky by the time they had returned most everyone back to the ship.  Only Lucas, the Captain, and a few stragglers remained.  He began to wonder if the ninja woman really would come to see them off.  He couldn’t really delay very much longer.  They needed to find another island with a port town to get more supplies so Cyril could better treat the wounded.

Just as the men were loading the final boat back to the ship, a flicker of orange and black caught his eye from the edge of the forest.  He turned to see her leaning casually against a tree at the tree line, mask-less with her hair down and floating in the light breeze.  “I’ll be right back,” he said absently to Lucas without really meeting his new first mate’s eye before jogging over to greet their new ally.

He noticed the subtle sheen as her eyes lit up upon meeting his.  “I almost thought you were gonna leave without saying goodbye,” she said coyly when he was in earshot.

He smirked and replied, “You know, I thought the same thing about you,” as he sauntered up to her.  She had tightly bandaged her shoulder where the bullet from his gun had torn through, leaving a wound that would likely take weeks to heal properly, and he noticed the arm hung rather limply.  There was a thin line on her face from where the bandit had successfully cut through her mask and another on her stomach from her battle with Rhea.  She had other minor gashes and scrapes, mostly evident by the tears in her clothes.  “Are you alright?” he asked.

Kita nodded.  “I’m fine.  Are your men okay?”

“Yeah,” he said.  “Cyril’s been working hard to make sure everyone survives.”  She glanced out to the ship and stared for a few moments in silence.  “You know,” he said softly, “we lost several men out there, and many good fighters.  We could use someone with talents like yours on our crew.”

She turned her gaze back to him and he was complacently pleased that she seemed surprised.  After a minute of staring at him in bewilderment, she shook her head.  “I couldn’t.  The sea isn’t the place for a ninja.”

“You still think I’m a ninja,” he replied without hesitation, “or you likely wouldn’t still be here.”  She looked away and he added, “My crew and I certainly wouldn’t be,” as he followed her gaze to the ship.  “A pirate’s life has really worked out for me.  I can sail wherever I wish, do what I please, take what I want.  If I happen to find anything about my parents along the way, so be it.”

“Your parents?” she quirked an eyebrow.

He blinked back his surprise at his own little outburst.  He shook it off and shrugged as he responded, “Yeah, I don’t know anything about them.”

Kita stood up and carefully removed his pendant from where it had been hanging around her neck.  She tried not to reveal any discomfort in her face although the slow movement of her right arm inflicted pain through her shoulder as though it were being torn open again.  “I almost forgot to give this back to you,” she said as she handed it toward him with her left arm.

He took it from her then looked at it briefly.  After staring at it for a moment he said, “You know what? You hold on to it.  I‘ll come back for it someday.”  He grinned and placed it back over her head.  Her hand shot up to grasp it and she flinched as the movement sent another shock of pain through her shoulder.  “You sure you don’t want to come back with me? I’ll have Cyril tend to that wound immediately.”

“I’ll be fine, really,” she said with a slight grimace.  “I’ve been in plenty of battles and can take care of myself.  Besides, I’m sure he needs to get more supplies for what wounded you have and I refuse to come before any of your men.”

Leo frowned slightly.  “Yeah, we do need supplies.  But we have no idea where we are to even get to a friendly port town.”

“Well you could always go to the one around the island on the other side,” the ninja casually replied, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world.

The Captain stared wide-eyed at her for the briefest of moments. “There’s a port on this island?” he all but shouted when he returned to himself.  “Why didn’t you tell us before?”

She blinked in surprise.  “You didn’t ask.”

Again he stared for a moment, but this time he burst into laughter.  “You’re absolutely right, we didn’t ask. We just attacked you on sight, sent you to rescue us when we were in trouble, fought at your side but never thought to ask you for directions.  That was foolish.”  He leaned on the tree and glanced back at his ship as he regained his composure.  “So how far is it to this port?”

His reaction had left her slightly confused and she didn’t respond at first.  Once she’d collected herself though, she pointed with her good arm to the west where the sun was slowly moving lower in the sky.  “If you follow the coast for a few miles, it’ll round out to the north.  After about two days or so of sailing you’ll see lights on the shore.  The town is there.”

“No kidding,” he mumbled.  She shook her head as she looked back and smiled at him again. He startled her again by clasping her hands in his as he cheered, “That’s fantastic news! The men will be so glad to hear that!  We’ll be able to get the necessary supplies and drink and relax for a bit.  Huzzah!!”  He was so happy he could have kissed her. In fact, he was so happy, he did.  He cupped her cheeks in his hands and gave her a quick kiss before either of them realized what was going on.

He stepped back and the light that was fading from the sky caught his sea-green eyes with a flint of gold.  His dark curly hair waved in the wind as he held his tricorn atop his head to keep it from blowing away.  She felt her face flush and was suddenly thankful for the darkening sky to hide it.  The impromptu kiss had only lasted a second, but still Kita was caught off guard.  “W-Well,” she stammered, “I suppose you should get back to your crew.”  She her voice sounded nonchalant and not as blissfully awkward as she felt.  “They need their captain.”

Leo had also been slightly shocked by his action, but as was his fashion, he shrugged it off and pretended that nothing out of the ordinary had happened at all.  “Aye,” he said quietly, looking back once more, suddenly anxious but unsure why.  “Will we see you again?” He hoped he didn’t sound too torn about their departure.

She smiled, her deep blue eyes shining in the diminishing light.  “I’ll find you in town.”  She smirked as she added, “You still owe me for saving your life, twice.”

“You have a point.”  The Captain chuckled and gave her a low bow.  Then he grinned slyly and leaned in to kiss her again, this time for a few seconds longer.  “Consider that my down payment,” he replied with a wink.

“As if I needed reassurance,” she retorted with a chuckle.  He gave her a quasi-salute and ran off to the boat that was taking him back to his ship. “See you in a few days!” she cried and waved with her good arm as they pushed off into the waters.  Leo waved back as she turned and disappeared into the forest.  He watched a moment longer, wondering if she’d reappear.  After a few minutes he knew he would have to wait until they got to port to see her.

He turned back to his crew with a smile.  “Men,” he said as he threw an arm around the shoulders of the two men nearest him, “there’s a port on this island and we’re going to it. In just a couple of days we’ll have warm food in our stomachs, warm beds to sleep in, and plenty of beer and women to go around!”  There were cheers and jeers from those on the rowboat and the same response once he returned to the ship.  They corrected their course according to Kita’s directions as the sun dipped below the orange-red horizon.  The men chatted eagerly about the promise of beer and women, but as they sailed to the west, Leo thought only of one woman and began counting the hours until he would see her again.


•June 19, 2012 • Leave a Comment

[Got my desk all set up, so that means a new chapter for you! Almost finally finished settling into my new house! And we’re almost finally done with this story! Last chapter later this week!]

Brutus had recovered slightly and was able to stand. Leo’s arms seared with pain from being crushed. He swung his sword the best he could, but Brutus shielded himself with his giant arms. Leo was growing tired and weak. I can’t stop now, he thought to himself, I’ve come too far. He gripped his sword with two hands, his shoulder still aching from the earlier punch.

He thrust his blade at Brutus’ throat, but the beast caught the sword between his gauntlets. Brutus quickly crossed his arms, disarming the Captain once again. The bandit king dove forward, looking to crush Leo under his weight, but the Captain was fast enough to avoid the attack, and Brutus hit the ground. Leo kicked at the back of Brutus’ head in an attempt to smash his skull. It seemed to have little effect on the brute. It was thicker than expected given there obviously wasn’t much in it.

Brutus rolled away from him and pushed himself up off the ground. He glanced around quickly, his eyes lighting up when they fell upon their target, and took off with surprising speed. About thirty yards away, Brutus picked up a huge battle axe, with a human skull set between the dual blades. He gave a threatening swing and shouted, “Now it’s time fer Roddy to ‘ave ‘is revenge!”

Leo mumbled, “That sick bastard; that must be Roddy’s skull.” The Captain stood ready to dive to one side and avoid the deadly blade. As expected, Brutus came right at him, heaving the axe over his head. His eyes were locked on the pirate, causing him to leave the approaching ninja girl unnoticed.

Kita came running towards the Captain, a pistol in her hands. “Leo!” she shouted as she drew nearer, “use this!” She sped up and threw the weapon to him.

So that’s where my pistol went, he thought as he grabbed it from the air, cocked it, and pointed it towards his rival. Brutus was moving too fast to stop himself. Even if he had tried it would have been too late. The Captain sprinted towards Brutus and slid feet first towards him. With just a few feet between them, Leo secured his aim between the bandit king’s eyes and pulled the trigger.  Blood and grey matter filled the air behind Brutus. His face was a tattered mess. His sudden death stopped his legs and he lurched into the air. Leo covered his face with his arms as he slid right under the airborne man. He came to a halt as Brutus’ body met the dirt with a loud THUD that rippled through the air.

One of the bandits witnessed the event and cried out in disgusted terror. “Oh my god!” he screamed, “he killed Brutus!” More and more bandits ceased their fighting to view the faceless body of their master.

Soon Rhea’s decapitated corpse was found. “They got Rhea, too!” Another shouted. The pirates stopped their assault as the bandits began to flee in horror. They couldn’t go on with both their leaders dead. They ran for their lives and didn’t turn back once.

The Captain called Cyril over. “I want you to go and check on everyone,” he said to him, “and report back to me with any casualties.”

“Aye aye, cap’n” came the curt reply and he set off.

Leo walked over to see how Kita was doing.  “So,” he said as he approached her, “where did you get my pistol?”

She gave a little smile, “Oh, so that was your gun?” She pulled back the ripped cloth on her shoulder to show him the wound she had sustained from Rhea. “I guess that means that this is your fault,” she said jokingly. He let out a slight chuckle.

His eyes softened and with his tone sincere he said, “Thanks for saving me back there. I owe you my life.” With her mask off, he could see her face redden ever so slightly. “I am very grateful.” He locked her gaze with his as he took her hand and lightly brushed his lips upon her fingers.  For a few moments they didn’t look away from each other.  Kita’s heart was pounding in her ears, she almost failed to notice the medic approaching them.

“Cap’n,” Cyril said, breaking the tender moment. “I have some grave news.”

“What is it, Cyril?” Leo asked, finally breaking his gaze from the blue-eyed ninja woman before him.

“Eight of our men are dead,” he said rather quietly, “and there are others who are wounded.”

The Captain stood silent for a moment. He looked out over the ravaged camp. “Gather the dead. We shall give them a proper burial at sea.” he said finally. Cyril nodded in agreement.

As Leo began giving orders, Kita wandered the battlefield.  She collected her shuriken and throwing knives from the bloodied, lifeless bodies of the bandits she had slain. There were a lot of dead men, but what halted her were the bodies of a few women who had been caught in the crossfire. She waved over a few of the pirates to help her carry away the innocent victims.

“What are you doing?” Leo asked as he saw his men carrying some of the bandits’ dead away.  “I said to leave them where they were!”

“I asked them to help me,” the ninja informed him as she ran over.  “These women were not supposed to be in the battle. I expect they were probably even slaves. It’s not fair to make them suffer the same fate.”  He nodded at her pleading gaze and she followed the men to make sure the burial was done properly.

Leo supervised the extraction of his men to the shore.  Everyone left carrying someone else or helping to carry off some of the loot.  Cyril was hard at work mending to the most severely wounded so as not to lose any more men.  They’d only lost eight men to the ruthless bandits, but at least twelve more were wounded with five of those in critical condition.  The Captain placed a reassuring hand on the medic’s shoulder. It had been a long day.  “Keep up the good work Cyril. I promise you’ll have plenty to eat and drink and a nice long rest after this.”  The young man’s smile was small and tired, but he diligently kept working.

Jeremiah had brought some men from the ship out to the shore to help with the wounded and the treasures.  He waved to Leo as they came closer and was grinning from ear to ear, eager to be of some help.  Leo chuckled to himself as he waved back to the old man and continued his patrol.

Lucas was busy loading their dead into one of the boats and ordering a few men to take it back to the ship.  He’d cleaned the blood from his face and an eye patch covered the right portion of his head, protecting the wound he had suffered in the battle.  His dark hair was mussed up and his body slouched with fatigue.  The Captain came over and clapped an arm around his shoulder.  “You’ve done well, boy.” he said with a smirk.

“Thank you, sir,” the new first mate responded automatically.  “I was just doing my duty.”

Leo patted him on the back and replied, “You’ve gone above and beyond. You’ve accepted your promotion without the slightest hesitation, even in light of Phineas’ death.”  He stopped talking for a moment and looked out to his ship, trying to choke back his grief.

The young man at his side looked to the sea as well.  “No one can replace Phineas,” he said quietly.  “I certainly don’t intend to.  But I want to make him proud and live up to everything he did and was.  Maybe after many more years I can be half the pirate he was.”  Tears streamed down his face from his good eye and he tried to resist the trembling sob that managed to escape.

The Captain wiped away a tear that threatened to roll down his cheeks as well and placed his hand on the boy’s shoulder again.  “You’ll do fine,” he said and hugged him briefly.  “You’ve already proved yourself worthy of being my first mate by your actions today.  I have the utmost confidence in you and expect great things.  I knew what I was doing when I made you second mate.”

He smiled again and Lucas nodded. “Thank you, sir,” he said again.

“Of course,” Leo said.  “I’ll let you get back to your task. You seem to have things under control here.” With a final reassuring clap on the back, Leo left Lucas to get the dead men back to the ship.  He wandered the camp, half wondering where their ninja friend had gone.  He spotted the men she’d borrowed earlier sitting on a log, waiting to have their minor injuries looked after.  “Oi! You two, front and center,” he ordered.

They rose and briskly walked over.  “Aye, cap’n?” they said in unison.

“Where’s the ninja woman?” he asked.

“She sent us back after we buried the dead bandit women,” one said.  “She said she was gonna go clean her wounds and get something to eat and she said to tell you she’d see you before we left.”

Leo smiled at them both.  “Thank you, gentleman.  Get yourselves back to the ship.  Cyril will treat you there once he’s had some rest.”  They saluted him and headed to the second rowboat that was returning to the ship.  They had managed to fit all the loot onto one rowboat and had already sent that one back.  There should be enough to trade for food and supplies in the next port town they came across, but he had no idea where they were to even get to one.