AnnieKO'Connor


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The Universal Story

In his book Miracles, C. S. Lewis discusses the ubiquity of a certain story, cropping up among the pages of history, in every location, in every religion. His view is that the story we keep telling is itself the Story of Christ.

All of history expected the Grand Miracle, and all of history since has echoed it. The story is that of descent and reascent. God descends to earth, descends into human form, descends into death, descends into Hell. He then reascends to Earth, to life, to human form, and to heaven. Lewis says, “In this descent and reascent everyone will recognise a familiar pattern: a thing written all over the world…Through this bottleneck, this belittlement, the highroad nearly always lies.” (Miracles 180).

Lewis continues to argue that this pattern is in nature, and “also in our emotional and moral life” because it is a reflection of God.

When I experience Story, I gladly delve into the universal elements of what each instance of Story has to offer. Lewis would say it is because God is universal—and I likely to say so as well—but others would say it is because Story itself is universal and the Christian Story is yet another instance of that, impartial to the existence or non-existence of a God. Both conclusions, however, are still shrouded in mystery.

So I proceed to experience Story and wonder at its universalness. From my subjective viewpoint, the default Story is that which Lewis claims, and that is the story to which I return again and again, no matter what tale I’ve set my sights upon.


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The Doctor’s Wife: Friday Flash

For Friday Flash: A bit of fan fiction. This is a piece that fills in what Rory saw in the TARDIS when House was chasing he and Amy in “The Doctor’s Wife”. No major spoilers if you haven’t seen the episode yet (slight, minor bitty thing: explains what was going on with House vs. Rory and Amy.) I hope you enjoy! And comments/feedback are more than welcome.

The Doctor’s Wife

Sliding doors slammed. Rory skidded, smacked the cold metal slab, Amy’s name suddenly the only word he knew. Adrenaline pumped, his yells echoed, fingers, they would they must, slip between the crack and pry the door, open it, find Amy. “Amy!”

And behind him: “Rory?”

Quickly he turned, wide eyes, sweat prickling his flesh. He breathed hard, fast, from running, from worrying, from anger and fear, and then it caught in his throat as he glimpsed his wife. Orange hair piled in loose waves atop her head, pristine as a Greek goddess, and he felt his fear replaced with a wave of desire.

“We thought you’d gone,” she said. Her face was more supple, her figure thicker, stronger, more seductive than thirty seconds before. Left hand rested on the subtle bump of her stomach. The ring she wore was not the one he’d given her.

“Amy,” he whispered.

Her lips trembled, deep breath. “Look at you. You look just exactly like the day you left.”

“I never left,” he said. “I was only just here, and you were there, and…” he trailed off.

Water shimmered in the corner of her eye. “Oh, Rory.” She approached him, arms out. He nestled his fingers into her back, gripping tight, vowing never to lose her again. But she said, “It’s been years. Years. You were gone. You disappeared when House was chasing us. We never heard from you again.” She shook her head.

Rory tried to object, but found words too difficult.

“We had a memorial. We thought you’d gone.”

He eyed the ring on her hand. She grimaced. “It’s the Doctor, Rory.”

His face contorted. It had only been a second, a second, he swore. Had years really passed? Could he blame Amy for taking another husband? He grabbed her hand. “Is House gone?” She nodded. “Then I want to see the Doctor. I have to face him.” Pause. “Amy, it was only a second. You were just there and then you were behind me.”

She began to lead him to the Doctor, but once again a door slammed between them. Again the beating, again the fury, again the voice behind him.

“Rory?”

He feared to turn, but needed to see her. She stood calm, simple smile, her hand resting on the head of a young boy. He had red hair, blue eyes, a funny chin, suspenders.

Rory took a deep breath, and whimpered, “Amy.” He ran to her and reached for an embrace.

She pushed him away, gave him a terse look. “I know. It’s probably not been any time at all for you. But,” she looked at the boy, “he doesn’t know. He wouldn’t understand.”

Rory stood, staring at them, his lips trembling, his eyes blurred. He took a few steps back. Gone, she was gone, forever. He’d lost her, finally. To the Doctor.

He finally stepped far enough back, another door closed before him. Defeated, he slid to the floor, curled up in the corner, wept.

Distantly Amy’s voice echoed, yelling inscrutable words. He hung his head, repeating within it, “Gone, gone forever. Amy’s gone.” But he could not resist. Her voice was too desperate. Even if she was the Doctor’s wife, he loved her still, loved her worth waiting 2,000 years alone for her, loved her past the end of the world and back again. He loved her, loved her Doctor if she did, loved her son. He went to her.

As he approached, he found the walls smattered with words, scrawled in her handwriting: It isn’t real. House is messing with you. The closer he got to her yells, the more times it was scraped along the corridor.

Rory began to consider that House was messing with him. Amy hadn’t really married the Doctor.  Maybe, just maybe, this was here, now. This must really be Amy.

Jogging toward the noise, hopeful, he began to make out her words. “Doctor,” she yelled. Over and over, the name assaulting Rory. He winced and continued. When he finally found her, she stood next to a set of closed doors, banging it, weeping, fervently yelling for the Doctor.

“Amy,” he said in a low voice.

She gasped and turned. When she saw him her brow creased, her breathing picked up. She pressed herself into the door and yelled again, a screech, a plea: “Doctor!”

“Amy,” he said again. “Amy, it’s okay. I’m here now. It’s House, like the writing. He’s messing with us.”

She trembled, shook her head and said in a tense whisper, “Who are you?”

His own breathing picked up. “Amy, it’s me. It’s Rory.” He stepped toward her.

She pressed herself further into the wall and screamed.  “No!” Her voice grew quiet, her words fiery, her tone too familiar. “Don’t come near. I don’t know who you are, or why you know my name, or who sent you. Just go away. Go away!” Her voice rose into a furious shout.

“Amy, it’s me, Rory,” he said, reassuring, desperate. “Your husband.”

She sneered, shook her head. “Sick joke.” The door opened, she stepped through, and it closed again.

Rory took a few deep breaths, and turned to find the writing vanished from the wall. Again he heard Amy yelling in the distance. He bolstered himself, knowing whatever awaited must be worse, more terrifying, but soon he was running again to find her, try to comfort her, clearly horrified in the distance.

He finally came across her weeping terribly, doubled over in the middle of an empty corridor, apologizing profusely to nothing, nothing at all.

“Amy?” he said.

She screamed and turned, surprised to see him. A few deep breaths and then she looked back where she had been weeping, again looking surprised, confused. Amy stood and ran to Rory, pulling him close gripping tight. He finally believed he’d found her, the real Amy. No more illusions, not right now. He pulled away, and held her forehead to his. “It’s messing with our heads. Come on. Run.”


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Ice Cream

Carson brought his friend Jeremy home for Thanksgiving, and Layla watched in the entry way as mom and dad hugged Carson. Layla hadn’t seen many of Carson’s friends since he went away to college, but when she saw Jeremy she took a deep breath.

Jeremy had shaken her parent’s hands, confident, tanned, five o’clock shadow. Layla watched his arms, her hands trembled. She tried not to smile so she wouldn’t have to reveal her braces. It seemed that soon she would be shaking Jeremy’s hand herself, and she knew her face would turn an unforgivable shade of red; it was already turning. Carson saw her face as she skittered off. He smiled to himself, didn’t say anything.

Layla got the piano bench at dinner that night because they only had four dining chairs. She complained to mom and got a terse reminder: “You’re the youngest, you get the piano bench. Your brother isn’t here often, and his friend is our guest.” An afterthought: “And you shouldn’t have run off earlier. It was rude.”

When Carson and Jeremy came down the stairs for dinner, Carson picked the seat next to her, put his arm around her, squeezed. “How’s it going, kid? You ran off there.”

She bit her lip and nodded.

Carson: “How’s big bad junior high?”

Deep breath.

Jeremy cut in. “Uh oh, you’re in junior high?”

Red face. Nod.

Jeremy smiled. He didn’t draw attention to her shyness. He said, “I always loved science in school. Do you have a good science class?”

She shifted. Shrugged. “I guess. I like math better.”

Jeremy answered in mock surprise, “Really? You like equations better than poking dead animals?”

She made a face, and he laughed, said, “Just kidding. You have to be smart for math.”

She smiled.

He didn’t comment on her braces. She felt calm, fell silent, let her parents ask the boys about, school, life, girls, plans for the future.

Layla made a sculpture of an alpine valley with her mashed potatoes. She was diligently tracing the path of a stream down the side when Carson started collecting dishes and taking them to the kitchen. When she looked up it was only her and Jeremy. She looked around, startled.

He looked around surreptitiously, held out his plate, the last few pieces of broccoli. “Need some trees?”

She stared at the plate, thought that broccoli shaped trees didn’t grow in the mountains, decided against turning Jeremy down and took a few, placing them around the stream. They both smiled.

Layla heard her name from the kitchen when Carson said, “Mom, can we take Layla for ice cream?” Layla wasn’t old enough to remember how the first-snow ice-cream had become tradition. But mom and dad stopped coming when Carson got his driver’s license.

Her mother pursed her lips, looked into the dining room, rolled her eyes. “She didn’t even finish her dinner. You’re going to spoil her.”

Carson laughed. “She’s my baby sister.”

Layla watched, wishing Carson still lived at home.

Her mother walked out to the dining room saying, “Well, try and bring her out of her shell, would you?” Layla’s mountain scene was taken from in front of her. “And don’t let her play with her ice cream like this, not in public.”

Layla went and hid in her room, but it didn’t work. She heard mom’s voice calling down the hallway. “Layla?” She found Layla in her room with a book. “Layla, you can go to ice cream, but you have to do the dishes first.”

“But, mom,” she said.

“No buts. You didn’t even eat your dinner and I’m letting you get ice cream. The least you can do is clean the kitchen before you go.”

Layla dog-eared the page and set the book down to the sound of her mother saying, “Oh, Layla, honey, why do you always have to ruin books like that? How many book marks have I bought for you?”

In the kitchen Carson was loading the dishwasher, Jeremy wiping the counters. She breathed a sigh of relief.

Her mother walked up behind her. “Carson, your sister was supposed to do the dishes.”

“It’s fine mom.”

The boys went upstairs to grab their keys and wallets. Layla stood at the front door, mom making sure her scarf was tied tight, that she had gloves on. “The boys should be down in a sec.” She laughed. “Well, I guess I shouldn’t call them boys, should I?”

Layla quite agreed. She shrugged.

Her mother looked at her sternly. “You shouldn’t have made Jeremy do the dishes. You’re making me look like a terrible host.” She sighed. “And Carson was more than happy to jump in and help. Why can’t you be more like him?” She went to the living room.

Layla stood waiting, thinking. She’d spent her whole life wishing she was more like Carson. And every time she’d said as much, her mother had said, “Don’t compare yourself to your brother. You just need to be yourself. Don’t be so shy all the time.” But Carson was the one who wasn’t shy. Layla didn’t know what she was supposed to do.

She thought of Jeremy, so calming, so kind, so intimidating. She tapped her foot, crossed her arms, stared at the wall. She got tired of waiting and ran upstairs with her boots on, a grievous sin.

Carson’s door was closed and she rolled her eyes, thrusting it open. Jeremy and Carson turned, stared at her wide-eyed, Jeremy’s hands on Carson’s waist, Carson’s on his neck. They separated, cleared their throats.

Layla’s shoulders fell. “I’m going out to the car,” she said.

In the car, after silence, Carson said. “Look, Layla. Could you not tell mom and dad?”

Layla sat slumped in the back seat, zipper pull in her mouth, scarf lying on the seat next to her. “Why would I tell mom and dad?”

Jeremy and Carson exchanged a glance.

Layla said, “You know they’d take it out on me. You don’t even have to live here anymore.”

Carson smiled tersely at her in the rear view mirror.

Jeremy turned from the passenger seat, smiled at her. “Parents are tough.”

Layla looked at Jeremy, sighed, and stared out the window.


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The Blue Toothbrush

Nicole stood over her sink, the end of day ritual prepared before her. For six weeks the blue toothbrush had laid dormant next to hers, but she had no more thought of removing it than removing her sink.

Tonight was different.

She glared at the bristled abomination, the curséd beacon blinking Daniel’s name across her mind. It seared her neurons and fixated her thoughts, but her ritual had already begun. She found the red toothbrush, her own, fast in her fist, ferociously scrubbing her poor, innocent teeth.

In her head, the evening replayed in fast-forward snippets: grimaces, kind greetings, and are-you-here-alones, until she reached the scene of the laughter. It spouted perfectly round, water-droplet, pearly shaped from the woman on Daniel’s arm, as lush and bubbly as the champagne in her glass must have poured from the bottle.  The woman—no, she was a girl—no, surely a hyena—eyed Nicole’s long-legged, sleek-stepped, I’m-not-intimidated approach toward the chattering clique of Daniel’s friends, Nicole’s own friends-now-foes.

Hyena had smiled at her, a glint of flame hiding behind an otherwise innocent demeanor. Someone else greeted Nicole.

“Fashionably late, as always, Nicole makes her appearance.” They volleyed generic smiles and greetings about the circle.

“Yes, I only just arrived, direct from JFK, back from Los Angeles. You know the taxis in this town,” she said, flawless execution, perfect ten.

Hyena spoke: “Too bad, so sad—“

Nicole paused the playback. Those weren’t the words Hyena used, but she liked the rendition and hit play on the memory.

“Too bad, so sad for you, Miss Priss. You missed a joke, a knee-slapper, from Dear Darling Daniel.” Hyena beamed at him—a puppy with its master. No, actually, the look was one of more grown-up regard; Nicole corrected herself and spat viciously in the sink.

Hyena: “It goes a little something like this: What, pray, is the difference between a vulture and a lawyer?” (The body of the group collectively stiffened.)

Nicole shifted her weight. (Slight weight. Slighter than Hyena’s, including top-front, but never mind that.)

Hyena cackled. “Lawyers get frequent flyer miles.”

Nicole smiled, feeling the horrified askance-glances of friends/foes. “I most certainly do.” She nodded at Daniel. “Got us a pair of round-the-world tickets two years back.” (Back when Hyena was on a study abroad in Madrid, no doubt, shocked by the vastness of the omg- so-awesome-wish-u-were-here world.)

She put the scene on repeat in her head, changing each iteration to her delight, her bitterness, her attempts at fairness and forgiveness, then back again to stunning the friends/foes with her starry superiority.

When she noticed the blue toothbrush again, she remembered it wasn’t about Hyena (thieving wretch) but Daniel—the true love in her starry-eyedness, trench mate during disillusionment, the constant friend in her otherwise dull days of money-making madness, and lover, of course, through it all.

She picked up the blue toothbrush. She tried to snap it in two, to no avail. She tried, again and again, to throw it into the trashcan with enough force to satisfy her rage. Still, to no avail. It wasn’t until she roared, angry lioness, at the memento—when upstairs neighbor stomped in 2am Morse-code “Shut up down there!”—that she sank to the floor, clinging to the brush like the little match girl’s match, and cried. They were burning tears: hot-tub on sunburn, summer asphalt on bare feet, whisky down your throat tears.

She confessed to her attentive bathroom between gasps, “I love him. I love him.”


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JuNoWriMo Week 2

I am writing, absolutely exhausted from travel. My trip has been fantastic so far but my writing has taken a toll because of it. Good thing I got so much extra done before my trip. I could write zero words for the rest of it, and still be ahead on my goal when I got home.

But where’s the fun in that?

The beginning of my week was great. And time spent driving has been time spent thinking about my characters and story. I even scribbled down a few words today at lunch; thank God for Moleskines!

An odd observation: My JuNoWriMo attitude has affected my driving. If I can keep going, I will just keep pushing through. Today I made it 90 miles further than I planned!

Happy JuNo’ing 🙂


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JuNoWriMo Week 1

Wow. JuNuWriMo could not have come at a better time for me. It has been so great to have the excuse to do nothing but write for hours on end. The closers at the late-night writing coffee shop are getting to know me by name, and it’s only been since Wednesday.

My story has been festering inside of me for sometime, and I didn’t realize how much I had to say about these characters. Writing quickly is new for me, and I think it’s fantastic. I don’t fix typos; I don’t fix grammar; I don’t try to sound good or think of fancy metaphors. Those things are easier to do on a rewrite, anyway.   My characters are positively coming alive, thriving, and I absolutely must tell their stories.

My total word count for June so far has surprised me. I set a goal of 1000 words a day, and I am going to maintain that as my goal, but I have exceeded it every day. Friday was really hard. Saturday morning was really hard. But Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday night have passed with word after word falling onto the page.

Total word count for Wednesday through Saturday: 11,600. Positively unreal.

This week I’m preparing for a trip, and will be on vacation all next week. I do not expect to keep this up at all!

(This is coming from a girl who dropped out of NaNoWriMo on about day 4 last year…I’m very excited!)


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JuNo What Now?

Last year for me, NaNoWriMo got waylaid by my pursuit of self publishing (which by the way went quite well.)

I am now set to do some serious amounts of writing over the next few months, and have a break in marketing my book since it is a Christmas story.

Enter JuNoWriMo.

My favorite part of twitter is running across complete strangers who are interested in and working toward the same things I am. Then I get to participate with them, make some twitter friends, and get some writing done.

So, I’ve decided to do JuNoWriMo. My goal? 1,000 words a day for the month of June. This is part of my larger goal to have a complete MS by September first.

So, fellow JuNoWriMo-ers: Hi! I’m Annie. This is my blog. And happy writing!