Welcome to the official website/blog of Allison Sobczak. Feel free to view her portfolio or contact her with any questions or comments.
I get into the bad habit of forgetting to update my blog. I was busy working and recently switched jobs. Not excuses, I know, but with NaNo around the corner I decided to come back and at least pop in for a bit. I also realized that there were two stories I hadn’t added to my Portfolio page, so I’ve just updated it with “The Case of Rosie Pings” (flash fiction) and “A Short Story” (creative nonfiction). Please let me know your thoughts if you check them out!
I do a lot of writing for my job currently, but I’ll do my best to warm up with some Writer’s Book of Days prompts and hopefully get those posted. Thanks for checking me out and sticking around!
Prompt: You’re watching someone sleep (284 words)
He knew she was waiting for him in their bedroom, but he couldn’t bring himself to look away from Nora. Watching her was helping keep the unwanted thoughts at bay.
He startled and turned towards the doorway, where Alice was leaning, arms folded over her stomach. “Dylan, you can’t avoid it forever.”
“We need to talk about it—“
“I know, Alice.” He finally faced her, but when he saw the way she moved a hand from her stomach to her mouth as her eyes glazed over, he wished he hadn’t. Dylan moved from Nora’s bedside and over to Alice, who fell into his chest and tucked her head under his chin. “I’m sorry. I’m just…I just don’t want to think about it right now.”
“I know you don’t want to,” she said, talking into his shirt,” but you have to. If Nora had seen that—“
“But she didn’t—“
“But she could’ve, Dylan. She could’ve seen that body, and then what would we have done?” Alice raised her head up to meet his eyes. “I don’t think we can risk staying here, Dylan.”
“We’ll figure it out,” he said, pressing a kiss to the top of his wife’s head. He looked back over his shoulder at Nora, her mouth open and hair fanned out across her floral-printed pillow. Her stuffed orange bear, Wilbur, had been knocked to the floor. Dylan disentangled himself from Alice and retrieved the bear, placing it in the curve of Nora’s outstretched arm. She smacked her lips and crushed Wilbur to herself in a chokehold. Then Dylan took his wife’s hand and led them out of their daughter’s bedroom.
“We’ll figure something out. I promise you.”
Prompt: Write about a shade tree (175 words)
It was hard to see the body, at first. The willow’s leaves hung low enough to obscure the swinging shadow, so it took Dylan a moment to realize what he was looking at. When he did, he cupped the back of Nora’s head and pushed her face into his shoulder.
“Daddy!” came out muffled against his shirt.
“Don’t look, sweetheart,” Dylan said as he began hightailing it back home. Only when he was a safe distance away did he loosen his grip on Nora’s head. She raised her head up and took in an exaggerated inhalation of air.
“I couldn’t breathe!” she exclaimed. “What was that for?”
“Nothing for you to worry about.”
“Nora. Enough.” His tone brooked no further argument, but it was enough to bring a sheen to Nora’s eyes. “I’m not mad at you, honey. But Daddy needs to take care of something, and I need to bring you back to Mommy. Okay?”
Silent now, Nora nodded and repositioned her head against Dylan’s shoulder for the duration of the walk home.
I skipped writing over the weekend and yesterday, but I wrote on Monday so here’s that entry. I’ll also have today’s up later tonight:
Prompt: A word left unspoken (175 words)
That morning, Mariah woke up to her baby’s silence. Usually, the sky would be a dusky blue when she heard Thomas’ warbling squall. She’d make it to his crib just as his cry reached crescendo, and his tears and sniffles and hiccups would peter out against her shoulder.
Today, early dawn crisscrossed the bedroom floor in stripes of light and the house was silent. Her husband, Franklin, slept on beside her, one arm curled under his pillow, the other thrown carelessly over her thigh. It was easy for Mariah to slip out from beneath his hand, and she quietly pulled on her robe and padded down the hall to the nursery.
Thomas was sleeping as all infants do — on his back, tiny fists splayed beside his head in a sign of victory. It made her smile, and Mariah leaned over to brush a knuckle across his warm cheek.
Except his cheek was cold, kind of rubbery, and tinted gray. Mariah moved that same knuckle to Thomas’ slightly parted lips and felt no air passing through.
Prompt: Write about saying goodbye (331 words)
The boxes were packed and waiting out in front of the house. The back of the truck was opened in a wide yawn, waiting for the boxes to be put inside.
Cali was in the woods, trying to prolong the inevitable for as long as she possibly could. Her treehouse had always been her place of safety. Not it was a sanctuary.
From where she stood at the window, she could see her parents moving in and out of the house along with the movers, coming out with hands full of knick knacks and trinkets and placing them in the pile to be put in the truck.
If she could spend the rest of her life in this treehouse, she would. She didn’t want to leave her house, her home.
Cali saw her mother stand and look around herself, obviously searching for her daughter. Cali ducked beneath the window.
There were markings in the wood, there. Initials. CR 4. CR 5. CR 6. CR 7. That was the last one. Cali remembered that she had stopped taking her measurements, but she couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason why she stopped. For some reason, at age eight, keeping a tally on her growth didn’t seem as pertinent to her as it once had. And now, at fifteen, it seemed even less important.
Cali lightly grazed her fingers over the markings, feeling the indentations and the prickly splinters in the wood. Whoever moved here was going to discover this treehouse and make their home here where Cali had already set her roots. Someone else was going to scratch in their initials and age and track their progression, and if that person had a sibling, then they would add their initials, and it would go on and on like that, endless, nameless people passing in and out of Cali’s house in a tree.
When the initials started to blur in her vision, Cali redirected her attention back out the window to check on her parents.
Prompt: “An immobile time not marked on clocks” – Charles Baudelaire
“An immobile time not marked on clocks.”
That’s what death feels like. Someone said that, but I can’t remember who.
There’s no outer body experience. There’s no pearly gates waiting to greet me. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
There’s just consciousness, and then there’s not. Like a light switch. On. Off. Flick flick.
This is what I believe, but it’s also what I know. Death comes for all of us, and it doesn’t hold your hand when it does. It’s greedy and unfulfilled, constantly lurking in the shadowy corners of hospital rooms, at the bottom of a bottle of Jameson, on the wings of an airplane.
I think about my own mortality a lot. I think a lot about the mortality of others, too. Sometimes, I imagine my life without some of these people, and the yawning ache that swallows me completely is so powerful, so consuming, it literally takes my breath away. I don’t know how I will survive it.
But really, I do know. Because I’ve had to do it many times before. Ashton. Emily. Granddad. More than a decade has passed since their deaths, and just the mere thought of them brings back every last emotion I felt when it first happened, its all its shades and flavors.
For someone so utterly terrified of dying, I sure do think about it a lot.
Prompt: She was a redheaded woman (246 words)
Her hair was as red as the blood that sang in her veins. It was as red as the heart thump thump thumping out a rapid, staccato rhythm against her ribcage, so forceful it was almost painful. It frizzed and teased out like the 80s glam rockers of yesteryear. She was a force Mother Nature herself couldn’t stop.
Her presence shrank Cali’s down to the size of a pinprick.
It was hard not to feel insignificant when you shared the room with someone of such stature and charisma, but Cali was not one to back down so easily.
Placing her empty glass on the table, she stood on newborn deer legs and made her way over to where the woman leaning against the jukebox, chatting with two other guys.
It took a minute for them to notice her through the smoky gloom, but when they did, one of the men leaned his chin on the hands folded over the point of his pool cue. “Can we help you, li’l missy?”
Cali spared him a glance but no response. She faced the woman, said, “Hi,” then shut her mouth.
A beat. “Hi,” the woman parroted.
Trying to ignore the men’s snickering, Cali started again. “Sorry, I just, wanted to tell you that I thought…your singing was really good, and…yeah.”
“‘And yeah,’ huh? That’s quite an endorsement,” the woman said, but her smile was sincere, and it made Cali feel a little firmer on her feet.
Prompt: Write about a sideways glance (313 words)
When she gets on the train, the first thing he notices is how she holds her purse; with both hands on the looped handle, fisting it in front of her pencil skirt. He notices this because it’s unusual (how can she walk without the bag knocking into her knees every time she takes a step?) but then he begins noticing other things about her, like the run in her black stockings, the scuff on the toe of her left shoe, the way her eyes shift above the red scarf covering her mouth and nose, as though something more sinister is at play than just the uncertainty of finding an empty seat.
She finally settles on one directly across from him, crossing her ankles and placing the bag on her lap, still gripping it tightly.
“What’cha got in there, Mary Poppins?”
Those shifty eyes shoot up to meet his, and he’s shocked at the very quick but very real terror he sees there — but then she blinks it away and lowers her scarf from her mouth. “Pardon?”
He decides to go easy on her this time. “That’s a pretty big bag. You going on a trip?”
For a moment, she just stares at him, hand still pinching the scarf away from her face. Then she smiles and gives a jerky bobblehead nod. “Yes, I’m going on a trip. I’m visiting my brother in the suburbs.”
Against his will, he notices one more thing — that she’s pretty. Real pretty. A soft kind of pretty, like fluffy icing topping a cupcake. Her hair is completely covered by her cap except for one auburn tendril that curls around her right ear. Her eyes, so nervous, are a brown that must warm her during these frigid winter months. And her lips are chapped, but dotted with freckles at the corners, giving her a youthful, almost child-like appearance.
Prompt: What is seen through open windows (290 words)
The neon lights match the dusky pink of the sky. She can feel the burn of the bulbs through the pane of glass her head is leaning against as she watches the scenery pass by in a blur. Abandoned motel pools, deserted strip malls — it’s strange how much contentment and security she feels from places so empty.
Vegas is a chipped jewel — shining and bright on the outside, but cracked deep enough to show what’s really inside. It shows off the parts that don’t want to be seen. The parts Cali wants to see more of. All of them.
Her parents finally pull into The Pink Flamingo, a tiny, seedy joint with three cars in the parking lot and six of the sign’s letters burn out. Her mother is annoyed they have to stay at a place like this. Her father says this is the best he could do on short notice. Cali wonders why this place, with its desert-yellow walls and sandy sidewalks makes her feel like she belongs.
When they’ve checked in and put their bags in their room, Cali ventures out to the pool area. It’s empty now, but with the leaves sprinkled across the water’s surface and the whorls of dust coating the pool’s floor, she’s not so sure that anyone would’ve been swimming anyway.
Despite all that, Cali kicks off her blue flip flops and stands on the pool’s first step, feeling the grit and grain between her toes. It’s uncomfortable, but a discomfort she likes, and she adjusts her feet into a firmer stance. She tilts her head back and looks up at the sky. Out here, beyond the Vegas lights, the stars reveal themselves, slowly, like shy children. It makes Cali smile.
As with everything in my life, I’m late to starting this. But I found a book today called A Writer’s Book of Days by Judy Reeves that offers not only insight and guidance, but prompts for each day of the year. I want to take on the challenge of writing something for each prompt every day, and while I can’t promise how interesting or exciting the pieces will be, or even if they’ll make a lick of sense, I hope that they’ll provide me with more incentive to keep up with a daily writing goal.
So, rather than starting from the beginning, let’s just jump right in to today’s prompt for January 16:
Prompt: The place where wings unfurl (250 words)
It starts between the shoulder and moves out through the arms and over the hands and across the back. It starts off slow, languid. It takes its time. It does not hurry or make haste. It’s in no rush.
When they spread wide, spanning the length of a fireplace bannister, it’s glorious and wondrous. Something magical. Something precious and private and not of this world. Something not to be shared.
Sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s stiff. Sometimes it doesn’t want to leave. Sometimes it thinks it’s better to stay. It doesn’t want to show itself to whoever might be there to see.
Don’t let it win. Show it, make sure it gets seen, but make sure it’s done with care, with a delicate gentleness that one uses when handling something fragile. THIS SIDE UP. Keep it upright. Don’t drop it. Don’t let it fall.
It may not be perfect. There may be stains. There may be smudges. There may be pieces that are bent or broken or worn or torn. These are not reasons to stay hidden. Don’t let them be a factor. Show off those stains and smudges. Shine a light on the broken pieces. Zoom in on the faded, off-white color. Don’t shy away from the imperfections. Put them under a magnifying glass and let everyone see what makes them yours. What makes them special.
It’s time to fly. It’s time to come out of hiding. It’s time to see the world. Unfurl your wings and soar.