Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Lines by Laurita Miller - February Femmes Fatales

I'm so excited that Laurita Miller has joined the Femmes Fatales again this year. Her superb fiction and poetry aside Laurita has a lot say about writing itself. Her blog Calling Shotgun is packed with well-considered, almost conversational posts on the craft; she digs deep into topics and lays her thoughts bare. I admire that.

In Lines, her first of two February Femmes Fatales pieces, Laurita tests your comfort levels from the very outset. Let this story move and unnerve you - for it will. And then some.


The steady, droning buzz was his focus, like a mantra. He never got used to the needle, the little pricks of pain that merged to create a more significant agony. He needed it that way.

He glanced at his arm, at the progress. It wouldn’t take long; just one line this time, stark black on his pale flesh. Little dots of red rose to the surface, mingled with the ink, and he looked away. He didn’t like the sight of his own blood.

When the buzzing stopped he looked down at the finished product, the horizontal slash that crossed four existing vertical lines, a set of five that matched the one above it. Ten. It seemed like a small number, until he saw them grouped that way. He knew the suffering that went with each line.

He paid and left as soon as the work was done. Outside, the evening had cooled. He didn’t bring a jacket, didn’t want the fabric against his throbbing arm. It was really aching now, and there was a heavy knot in his gut.

The cold felt good.

He reached for the crumpled pack of smokes in his pocket and pulled one out with his lips.


He took it from his mouth and threw it on the sidewalk, tucked the pack back into his pocket. Just in case.

There was an all-night diner on the corner. What he needed was a good strong cup of coffee, maybe some of that awful apple pie with the cardboard crust. Something to ease his mind, keep his hands busy.

A young waitress pulled the door open just as he reached for it and she almost walked into him.

“Oh! I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you there.” She offered a smile and stepped around him.

“That’s alright,” he whispered, and watched her run across the street to the bus stop, pink skirt and red ponytail swinging.

He found a booth at a window, ordered his pie and coffee without taking menu. It was warm in the diner, uncomfortably so. He drummed his fingers on the table, focused on the drawl and twang from the juke. Outside, the waitress stood underneath the bus stop sign, illuminated by the streetlamp. She pulled her sweater around her and bounced a little on her toes. She craned her neck, looking for the bus. A stray dog wandered over to her, stuck his nose to her leg. She patted him on the head. He thought about the lines on his arm. The ten.

His pie and coffee came, dumped onto the table by a surly middle-aged waitress. The coffee was strong, the pie soggy and flat. He turned back to the window. The young waitress was just climbing onto the bus. Tonight she would relax and prepare for her long shift tomorrow.

He rolled his shoulder, felt the ache in his arm, felt a sob rise in his chest.

She would be number eleven.

_________ The End _________

Bio: Laurita Miller lives on a rock and and collects lines of her own. She sometimes comes out of her basement for coffee. Her work is scattered all over the web, like flies. She blogs here – www.ringkeeper.blogspot.com


  1. Noooooo!!!!! I'm calling her, quick, before he can do the deed.

    Laurita, that was FAB-U-LOUS. So well crafted! Every word sure footed and clean, the ending devastating. Standing ovation!!!!!

    Oh, and may I say again, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! :)

  2. Oh wow that was a twist I wasn't expecting! Wonderful story carries you along on a wave of intrigue, wanting to know what those lines on his arm were, then the reveal, so dark and delicious! ^_^

    ☆☆☆¸.*.¸☆HAPPY BIRTHDAY☆¸.*.¸☆☆☆

    1. { How the hell do you do those stars Helen? Magick? }

  3. Yeah, the ending really grabs the reader by the throat. Nicely done, Laurita (geezer)

  4. first HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
    second, CONGRATULATIONS on this superb story which is so intriguing, so well crafted, you cannot see the last line(HA!) coming!

  5. Great story, Laurita. As soon as you revealed what the tattoo was (and great description of that) I had my suspicions, which made the build up to the end so much more chilling.

    Loved it.

  6. Brilliant Laurita! I loved the pace leading up to the twist - spinetingling..Tanred

  7. Laurita - wasn't sure if he was a good guy or a baddie to begin with, could have gone either way. I guessed the tattoos were his way of marking his remorse (in fact, I could imagine this written with the main character as perhaps a prison warder on death row, or responsible for executions.....)
    Great read, nice 'n' short, and oh so tightly written! :-)

  8. OMG / OMG / OMG . . . you Poe-driven dame you. First I rattle along with the story line and in rhythm, I go here, there, there, here all the sleight of hand (or arm) places you wish your ardent reader to be led. You stir a little emotion as you keep the motion going. Hmmm, enough descrip all over that we're not too aware that pink skirt/red ponytail gal gets a few more mentions than the norm ... I'm beginning to wonder when the frisson you're so apt at the zap of ... could be coming.

    Ah, then you stall my breathing back down with ~

    "He drummed his fingers on the table, focused on the drawl and twang from the juke." <~~ I actually take time off from 'thinking' to marvel at the sheer strength out of the simplicity of that line.

    Offguard, going along with the tough guy and his cup o'joe - you punched me in the gut. It's not that I was your perfect reader on this one dear pal, YOU were the perfect writer.

    Could be Birthday energies with the sun in your highest realm??? Damn, Laurita. Brava! ~ A*K

  9. (outta breath) ~~~~> Ran all the way back to say ~

    LILY - WAY COOL PROMO GRAPHIC ON THIS ONE! I studied it for awhile first and in retrospect (that grande ol'dame) it told the story in tandem -- hear that? *applause* ~ Absolutely*Kate

  10. I'd like to think the girl has her own lines ; )

    Creepy write, Laurita. The pacing worked well for this, and you carried the reader along by seeing what the protagonist could see, though keeping his dark thoughts private - added good suspense.


  11. I had a sneaking suspicion. :-) I really enjoyed this one. There's a foreboding and dark atmosphere to it that is just perfect.

  12. 'Heard' the tatooists needle doing its work, felt the cold street air, tasted the soggy pie, smelled the coffee, watched the girl trying to keep warm at the bus stop. You describe everything so effortlessly and yet it's all in there; everything we need for the full picture. Terrific, Laurita.

  13. Well done Laurita, creepy tale. There is something noirish about the protagonist, and the background pastiche adds to the overall atmosphere.

  14. Eerie and uncomfortable - neat work, Laurita.

  15. Fantastic read, I really enjoyed this. Well done!

  16. Skillful writing, Laurita! I absolutely did not see that end coming. I definitely felt the man's self-loathing though. I just hope that "number eleven" puts up a fight. Maybe she can scrape her fingernails across his still painful tattoo.

    1. A sinister tale, well written and disturbing.

  17. That was chilling stuff! I figured it was a tally of some kind but man, you really pulled off that ending.


Lily Childs is a writer of horror, esoteric, mystery and chilling fiction.

If you see her dancing outside in a thunder storm - don't try to bring her in. She's safe.