When Will I Ever Learn

Write an argument—the worst dispute your character has ever been in, at least in his or her opinion—without using a single exclamation point or all-caps word. It’s an exercise in discipline: Keep the fire contained, brimming at the surface but never boiling over. Oh, and make sure you mention a pair of pliers and a spectator.

My room again. Man, this just sucks. How many times have I been sent here so far this summer and how many times will I be sent again? No one knows, except my mom. Yeah, my mom.

I know I’ve told you about her before, but I just have to tell you again. She’s got to be the most controlling person on the planet. No really, she is. “Callie, you shouldn’t chew gum. It isn’t lady-like.” “Callie, you can’t wear make-up. Only loose girls wear make-up.” “Callie, cell phones are for emergencies, not for chatting.” Callie, Callie, Callie. That’s all I ever hear.

And when she’s not telling me how to act or feel or think, she’s grounding me to my room for breaking some kind of rule. You’d think I was a criminal instead of just an average 13-year-old.

So, what got me here this time? You are just not going to believe it. I swear, you aren’t.

I was out in the yard fixing my bike. How innocent is that? My little brother, Kyle, was hanging around me – bothering me like usual. He is about as annoying as my mom is controlling if that tells you anything.

Anyway, I was fixing my bike and I asked him to hand me a wrench. He reaches into the toolbox and hands me a pair of pliers. Gawd. How stupid can a kid be? I threw the pliers over my shoulder as I reached for the wrench out of the toolbox.


I whipped my head around and….crap. Yep, you guessed it. I threw just a little too hard and that stupid pair of pliers went right threw the basement window. It took no time at all for my mom to be out on the front porch and even less time for her to determine, that once again, I was in big trouble.

I tried to explain. It was an accident. But my stupid brother had to open his big trap. He started to whine about how I threw the pliers at him. In my loudest voice, and in no uncertain terms, I told my mom that I had not thrown anything at him. Then I made a fatal mistake. I told her that I wish I had. When am I going to learn to keep my mouth shut?

Mom began her tirade. I tiraded right back. My brother was snickering and I turned on him and said, “This isn’t a spectator sport idiot.”

And that was pretty much the end. I’m here in my room fuming. Kyle is out in the hall giggling. And my mom is sure that she has the worst daughter in all of Idaho.

Teri B. Clark
Copyright 2009

Forever Young

“He was going to make them right with a couple of pills or an injection, and people took him by the arm on his way to the sickroom. Flattering, but dangerous.”
Now, he takes your arm. Who is this doctor? Reveal him in scene.

“Good morning doctor! I’ve been waiting so long for this day. You can’t imagine how excited I am,” gushed Bernice.

Bernice was nearing seventy years old and didn’t want to believe that she was getting older. She had always been beautiful with her dancing green eyes and wisp-like figure. But in recent years, age had taken its toll. Her once tall and straight body was now just a bit stooped and her soft skin had taken on a leathery appearance. That, however, was all going to change because of Dr. Ballard.

Dr. Ballard smiled and said, “Good morning, Bernice. I can see those years melting off you already!”

Bernice blushed. She wouldn’t admit this to anyone, but she thought Dr. Ballard was the most handsome man she had ever met. If only……

Dr. Ballard interrupted her thoughts. “Are you ready to get started?” he said with a smile. Bernice nodded her head vigorously.

“Then take my arm, Bernice, and we’ll head down to my room of magic. When I’m done, not only will you look 30 years old, but you’ll look 30 years old forever.”

“Oh, thank you, Dr. Ballard. I just can’t thank you enough.”

Bernice took the proffered arm and headed down the hall to what she was sure was going to be the best day of her life – or at least the first day of the best year of the rest of her life.

Dr. Ballard smiled, but this smile didn’t quite meet his eyes. He was thinking about turning Bernice into a beautiful young woman. Just as he had done to all the others. His heart began to beat a little faster. His breath came a bit quicker. He knew that the moment was coming – that moment when Bernice would know the truth but would be helpless to do anything about it.

“After you, Bernice,” he said as he flung open the double doors. There, lining the walls were fourteen women, all of whom appeared to be in their thirties. Although smiling, their eyes stared unseeing. Death hung in the air.

“Oh my God. He’s going to kill me,” Bernice thought as she struggled to get free. The last thing she heard him say, with a maniacal laugh was, “Forever thirty, Bernice. Forever thirty.” Then the needle jabbed into her chest and the world turned dark.

The Mistake

Writer's Digest prompt:

The phone rings and a low voice groans—“Why me?”
You hang up.
Twenty minutes later, it rings again. “You made a mistake.”
The dial tone throbs as the phone hangs from its cord, limp.

(My response)

How many times do I have to hang up on her before she gets the picture? Big, framed, and matted with the words, “The end.” It’s like she’s never read a kid’s book and seen those words before.

Of course, this wasn’t a fairy tale and it certainly didn’t have a fairy tale ending.

Why me? I should ask that question, too. Why? Probably the sultry eyes and that low cut tank. Maybe the classy voice and the gorgeous smile. Whatever “it” was, it vanished with the reality of what was behind the eyes and the smile.

Here I am a writer, and I can’t think of the right word. Shrew? Battle-ax? No, not quite. Well, whatever the word, I’m through.

And she has the nerve to call me and say that I’ve made a mistake? Well, she is technically right. I DID make a mistake – going out with her in the first place. Being taken in by the persona hook, line, and sinker. That was my mistake. Leaving, on the other hand, that was no mistake. No, that was the smartest thing I had done in months.

In fact, leaving definitely calls for a celebration. Pizza, a cold one, and the Monday night football game – with my feet on the coffee table, I might add. Yes, this was going to be a great night.

Who’s walking up the front steps? Andy next door hoping to catch the game on the big screen? Maybe Josh is home from school a day early. That would be great. I head on over to the door with a big smile that fades immediately.

My last conscious thought was, “I’m looking down the barrel of my last mistake.”

© 2009 Teri B Clark



© 2008 Teri B Clark

I can’t believe I waited all year for this. Watching this stupid ceiling fan go round and round just makes me dizzy. However, the choices are rather limited. It’s either that or read another romance novel.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to read, especially when the heroine in the book falls in love with someone who doesn’t even know she exists. Finally, he realizes that she is the one and they live happily ever after. It gives me some hope about Kyle and me.

Or, at least it used to. Now it is just one more thing to prove that I am a nobody doing nothing.

Meg and I had big plans for the summer. Meg is my best friend ever. I’ve known her ever since we started school. We have so much in common, except that she hates all sports – well, except for horseback riding and neither one of us think of that as a sport. It is totally fun and the instructor is so cute. I like tennis and swimming and have made the team 2 years in a row. But I don’t like soccer or basketball. I worry too much about the way I look when I’m all hot and sweaty. Meg’s thing is art. She makes the best drawings I’ve ever seen – except in books, of course. But I figure that one day Meg will be in a book – she’s that good!

Like I said, Meg and I had big plans. This was going to be the best summer of our lives. We were finally going to be high schoolers! No more junior high. No more Mr. Mounce and his incredibly boring English class. Honestly, who really wants to read Of Mice and Men? No more Ms. Doyle and her health class. She was very unimpressed when I said that sugar was a main food group. In fact, my mom had to sign a note from school over that one. No more anything that was even remotely babyish. I had even convinced my mom to let me wear mascara!

Now, that may not sound like much, but you’d have to understand my mom. Her idea of fun is having family time. Playing board games or going to the pool as a family is just lame. No one wants to spend that much time with their family, especially when it is my family. Between my controlling mom, out of touch dad, and annoying brother…certainly you get the picture.

But let’s get back to my mom. She can’t seem to understand why I want to spend time with my friends instead of family. And she hates the cell phone. She is soooo controlling about the phone. I can only talk to my friends at night and on weekends. And for mom, night means 7 to 8 because “it is impolite to make phone calls after 8 pm.” Gaww…we don’t live in the 90’s anymore. The way she acts, you’d think that cell minutes were gold. Oh, and her taste in clothes…it is a wonder that I was not the laughing stock of Taft Jr. High.

That is why it is a miracle about the mascara. She wouldn’t even let me wear lip-gloss with a tint last year! She said, “Callie, girls your age wearing lipstick were always considered loose when I was growing up.” Loose? What kind of word is loose? So, when I said, “Are you saying that if I wear lipstick I will be a slut?” I thought she would die of apoplexy (that’s one of my summer vocabulary words for high school English next year). I thought it was pretty funny at the time, but the week spent grounded in my room with no phone wasn’t funny at all.

But now, she said that since I am starting high school that I can wear mascara. I know that it is only mascara, but it is a start!

Yep, it was going to be a great summer. Being a freshman and wearing make-up was only going to be the beginning. Both Meg and I were going to have a big party – with boys! And we both planned on spending as much time at the pool as possible – without family, of course. We were both signed up for horseback riding lessons and I was taking tennis, too. She was taking a pastel class taught by Ms. Whitelaw. Ms. Whitelaw lives right here in our town and is famous! She’s had some of her work in a gallery.

Dawn – I only call her that to Meg because it wouldn’t be polite to call her anything but Ms Whitelaw to her face – is the only famous person I’ve ever met.

Anyway, we had the whole summer planned. Had.

Then parents came in and ruined everything. Meg’s parents, to be exact. One month before school was out, they decided to move. Not just to a house on the other side of town, but to a whole other state. The moving van would be there the day after school ended!

I thought living in nowhere Iowa was bad, but Meg had to move to North Dakota! You might be wondering, “Why North Dakota?” I know I was, so it is a good question.

See, Meg’s grandma lives in North Dakota on a really big ranch. But she’s gotten sick and needs someone to help. Meg’s dad is no rancher, that’s for sure, but mom says he is really good at business and that the ranch was getting into some financial trouble. Mom was trying to help me understand why they had to move away. It didn’t work at all. Why couldn’t she just hold me while I cried instead of trying to reason it all away? I couldn’t see a good reason for Meg to move. Not then and not now. Especially not now.

Now there was no fun for the summer. None at all. Mom said I could still go to the pool. But why? I’d have to take my brother along because mom says it isn’t safe for me to go all by myself. I’d rather watch the ceiling fan than spend the whole summer with my brother. The problem is that I said so to my mom. And I got my wish. I’m grounded. Right here to my room “until I get a better attitude.” She didn’t even set a time! Just until I get a better attitude. I’m liable to be grounded well into my sophomore year in high school! So much for riding lessons, tennis, or summer parties.

To make matters even worse, I got a letter from Meg yesterday. She wasn’t happy to leave here. Just like me, she couldn’t see a good reason to go. She even begged her parents to let her stay with me for the summer. I’m pretty sure I could have gotten mom to agree to it and Meg figured it would be better to spend time with my family than be hauled all the way to North Dakota. However, her parents didn’t agree. They said she had to go with them. Period. I think her parents are almost as controlling as mine.

But her letter made me sit up straight up on my bed. Can you believe that she really loves the ranch now? Her grandma gave her a horse. Her very own horse. It is a chestnut with white socks. She says it looks like the one our horse-riding instructor has. He has such dreamy eyes. The instructor, not the horse, of course! But she isn’t worried at all about missing Mr. Dreamy Eyes. She says that her grandma has lots of teenage boys working in the stables, especially in the summer, and that several are really cute.

She doesn’t even miss the pool. Grandma has her own pool – right there on the ranch. Meg has met lots of people and they go swimming every evening. Her grandma is even throwing her a “welcome to North Dakota” party – with boys. All she’s missing is a famous art teacher, but the way things are going for her, I’m sure she’ll find one of those, too. How is she ever going to convince her parents to move back here if she actually likes the ranch? She is ruining everything – my summer and my life. So much for being a best friend….

She has cute boys, a horse, a pool, and a party. She has everything we had planned for the summer. I have a ceiling fan, a stack of romance novels, a bad attitude, and 6 more long weeks of summer.

© 2008 Teri B Clark

Why I Don't Insist

Teri B. Clark © 2009

I have my ideas
Of things I want in my life
And there are times
When I want to insist I get them.

My ideas.
My things.
My plans.
My timing.

And then
When I least expect it
I get something I hadn't considered
Or even dared to hope for.
Perfectly now.

When I leave it in His hands
Allowing Him to work
Miracles in my life
I always get far more.

His timing.
His gifts.
His love.
His vision.

(Created from a writing prompt)

Young Love

This writing prompt came from Writer's Digest: Write a 26-line poem using all the letters of the alphabet, where the first line starts with the letter "A," the second "B," the third "C," etc., culminating with the final line starting with "Z."

Young Love
By Teri B. Clark

A little
Boy and little girl
Came to love one another at the tender age of 5.
“Doesn’t that make you laugh?”
Everyone said,
Forgetting that even such young children could love.

Growing up each year, their love changed from one of teddy bears to the love of a teen
Heart to heart
Instead of growing farther apart as the years went on, they grew closer,
Just like they always
Knew it would. Still, the adults
Laughed for they knew that certainly such childish love
Not last forever. “They are just children. Barely
Out of the crib.”

Perhaps if they had listened, their love would have
Quelled and they would have moved on
Realizing what the world knew. But
Still they went on loving
Through thick and thin, and there was thick and thin, as you would expect with such young love.

Until one day the young man got down on his knee and proposed to his
Very lovely bride-to-be. And
Wedding plans were made. And the adults stopped laughing and marveled.
“’xtra special,” they said, “This love of theirs. How they did it, we don’t understand. And
Yet, it has been done.” And they marveled at the beauty and the
Zeal of young love.

Copyright 2009 Teri B. Clark


I was speaking to a professor I had in high school via facebook. He told me he was living in Asheville. I said that I loved that area and the Boone area, but Boone didn't have the charm it used to have. He then said:

I'd like a list of things in Life that still have the charm they used to have.

So, I took that as a writing challenge. Here's my list:

Small town eateries with booths and art of times past - the original stuff that was there when the restaurant opened. Add to that homemade ice cream and you have charm! In Sanford that would be Yarborough's Ice Cream and the Dairy Bar.

Watching kids play hide and seek or catching fireflies.They are having the same kind of fun that I did as a kid, getting just as sweaty, and laughing just as hard.

Riding in a motorboat on a lake with the sun beating down on your shoulders and glinting off the water.

Downtown Surf City on Topsail Island where you walk up barefoot and covered in sand from crossing the dunes to eat a hot dog at the stand.

Downtown Pinehurst - it hasn't changed in 30 years and if the Alderman have anything to do about it, it never will.

Small town libraries that smell like old books and the librarian knows every book title and every patron by name. Once again, Pinehurst would be a good example, though they aren't as friendly as other small towns.

Teri B. Clark © 2009