If you like to read, and enjoy quirky, welcome. There are about 30 random things here for you. After you read a short story you may even find some personal comments/insights! The main purpose of creating this blog is for writers. I see so much written about writer's block, and honestly, I don't have it. Occasionally, I write short stories, longer stories, books, plays, one act plays, monologues, and sometimes I even think one is good enough to submit somewhere. Of course, when you submit a story to a magazine that receives 200 stories a month and publishes five, you'd better enjoy the process of writing. I'm not suggesting that I'm a good writer, merely that I can sit down and just start writing.

It is important to write, to constantly be working on your art. If you are constantly plagued by writer's block, perhaps you are being too selective in what you write about. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you some examples of my writing, from someone who can write all the time. Occasionally the topics are a bit strange, but I don't let that slow me down, I love to write and get to a finished product. Hopefully, by looking at some examples, you will say to yourself that phrase that all artists who visit MOMA in NYC say: "Well, I can do this!" That would be good, because you can! One of my posts is about a talking tomato. (You have to be able to do better than that!)

In part I'm trying to get some of my stuff in one place, so keep in mind I never claimed it was going to be an incredible read. You can decide that. I will tell you that occasionally I have a story in me that seems to fit the goal of a publication, and I try to write specifically with that goal in mind. Lately I've been considering publications that publish nonfiction memoirs, so some of the entries you'll find here will have that flavor. Perhaps this is a way to get past writer's block - find a publication looking for something that you'd like to write. It seems like memoir-based publications may be a good place to start, because we're all experts in our own families. I'm using a blog here to share some of the things I've written; the blog format is not ideal, so you need to poke around a little at old posts, to see if you can find a story or something else that may interest you.

Two last items. None of these are finished products. I usually get to a point where I have something written, and then stop. If it is something I may decide to submit for some reason, I'll finish formatting, following the specific rules of the magazine or organization (the rules are alwaysdifferent). If you do see something in here that you may be interested in using, don't hesitate to contact me.

So welcome to my blog. Welcome to my writing. Write, people, write! It feels good.

Please also consider getting a copy of my first book, Saturday Night at Sarah Joy's. All Royalties go to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund. Please check out the book's blog at:

Thank you!

© 2012 John Allison

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Kiss of the Blue Lizard (A One-Act Play)

There are four characters who are always on stage.

The MOTHER is front, stage left, sitting in a chair when the play opens. 

The DAUGHTER (Sarah) is front, stage right, unlit when the play opens.  She is sitting on the floor, surrounded by prescription bottles, a cell phone, a piece of paper, and a can of beer.

Center stage is WHEELCHAIR GIRL, a young girl in a wheelchair. 

Behind her is a girl, in a hospital bed; BED DAUGHTER is sitting up, sleeping.  (It is important for the audience to know that BED DAUGHTER and DAUGHTER are the same character.  BED DAUGHTER is young (10 years old) and DAUGHTER is the same person, now 30 years old.)  Next to BED DAUGHTER's bed is a second bed, made up but unoccupied.

As the lights come up, each holds a purple stuffed lizard. 

Low light spots fall on the two young girls.  A spotlight then comes up on the mother.

MOTHER (to the audience, generally happy, slightly clueless):  I found a little blue stuffed lizard in the closet today - a twenty year old toy that we'd given my daughter.  Perhaps she lost track of it, because it's never been played with. It brought back all the feelings of a really good day that I'd almost forgotten (she looks back toward the bed).

MOTHER gets up and walks back and forth between her chair and the hospital bed, stopping briefly every time she passes the wheelchair, to glance at WHEELCHAIR GIRL.

MOTHER (cont.): My 10 year old, Sarah, was first on the surgery list of the day, to get her tonsils out (smiles at BED DAUGHTER).  My husband and I waited and waited until the doctor came from the operating room to report that she was in her bed and she was fine.  He took us in and I held her hand while he explained that she had a slight infection, which was common.  He was going to give her some penicillin, which he did while we were there, and a little something to make her sleep.  She quickly dozed off.  He said she'd sleep till morning.  They wanted her to heal and didn't want her to try to talk.  The doctor suggested that we should just let her sleep for the day.  Nurses would check in on her every hour and there was nothing we could do.  As we were walking out we asked the parents of the other girl in the room how she was doing.  We assumed she had her tonsils out too.  Unfortunately, she was a cancer patient, and it had spread through her little body quickly.  She was the prettiest blonde girl, and had only weeks left to live.  Her mother had 5 brothers and sisters, and all of the aunts and uncles and cousins from around the area were coming in to see our daughter's roommate.  It was one continuous line.  Even though Sarah was sleeping, I still called six times that day to see how she was.  I hated not going in but we did what we were told.  Her aunts, her uncles, even neighbors called me all day to ask how she was doing.  They all offered to visit, offered to do anything we wanted, but the doctor didn't want her to talk, and she'd just be sleeping anyway.

The next morning, we left early to go pick her up so we'd be there when she first opened her eyes.  Her father wanted to stop by our local department store.  He bought her the biggest stuffed bear he could carry.  Well, the biggest he thought he could carry!  He almost fell about a dozen times, getting up the Hospital steps.  When we entered the lobby, there was a girl sleeping in a wheelchair.  She had a new little stuffed thing in her lap.  It looked like a snake or lizard or something.  It was this! (holds up the stuffed lizard)  A nurse who was passing by confided in me that she had been checked out of her room because her parents were coming to pick her up, but they never came.  The nurses weren't surprised.  The lady who runs the gift shop gave her the little blue stuffed lizard thing, but she'd been sleeping and probably hadn't seen it yet.  So my husband took the lizard, gently woke her up, and introduced her to her new friend.  You should have seen how wide her eyes got.  That bear was bigger than she was.  Such a sweet smile.  Children (shakes her head) . . . they deserve better.

I guess we never explained  to Sarah why we'd given her a little purple stuffed lizard, but she was young, and kids like little stuffed animals.  I just remember how good I felt that day of her tonsillectomy.  It was special because my husband did something out of character that was so different for him, and he seemed more responsive to everyone ever since that day.  My family made us feel like . . . well, like family, the way they rallied around my daughter, calling me all day to ask how she was.  It was a good day.

Today I found her little toy.  I drove by her house and left it in the mailbox for her.  It should be a great surprise.  I hope she remembers it!  Maybe she'll give it to her son.  It's hard to believe we gave it to her when she was ten, and now she's thirty.   It was one of the best days of my life!

 The MOTHER shakes her head, smiling, and sighs.  She sits down.  Her spotlight goes out, and a weak spotlight focuses on the DAUGHTER.  The DAUGHTER sits on the floor and talks to the audience, her face largely lit by her cell phone, which she is staring into.  She is drinking a beer. 

DAUGHTER (agitated, angry, frustrated, animated):  It was the worst day of my life.  (Spills pills onto the floor)  So many pills.  Do I swallow them all at once or one at a time?  I'm such a loser - I don't even know how to kill myself.  Why don't they put instructions on these bottles?  (She throws the empty bottle into the audience.)  Lets see, I have a suicide note here (holds it up) - still blank.  That's typical.  And of course, I'm accompanied by my old friend from hell, the god dammed stupid stuffed whatever the fuck it is.
I was ten.  Can you remember what it's like to be ten?  I woke up probably a dozen times the day that I had my tonsils out, as the anesthesia wore off.  They were never there!  Never!  I'll bet they were thrilled to be able to take a day off from me.  (cheerily)  Maybe they went to a movie!  The girl in the next bed had company all day and night.  Five different families came in to visit her.  All five bought her teddy bears, and she felt so bad for me that she offered me one.  I didn't take it.  I don't work well with the pity thing.  All day, as I faded in and out of sleep, I got to hear loving families who cared about a little girl.  Me?  I was nothing.  I had nobody.

The next day, Mommy and Daddy came in just in time to pick me up - wouldn't want to get there early!  They brought this blue stuffed thing.  I was never sure what it was.  (sarcastically)  How thoughtful.  I remember leaving, seeing a dozen more of the damn purple lizards through the gift shop window.  They all waved to me, just so I'd know how special I was.  I also remember some ratty looking girl in the lobby - she had a great big stuffed bear!  I bet she had parents who loved her. 

I've thought about that day for the last 20 years of my life!  They just made it so clear that I meant nothing to them.  I was just a piece of crap.  I've gone back and forth.  Why weren't they there?  Why couldn't I deal with it?  Am I so needy?  One second I'm feeling abandoned, because I deserve to be, then I feel worthless.  Why shouldn't they blow me off?  They had a loser for a kid!  Then, just so I understood, they spent zero time getting me such a stupid little gift, and dragged me past the hospital gift shop just to make sure I understood.  They expected me to be excited over this stupid thing?  I wasn't, but I wouldn't let them see me cry.  By then my heart had been broken and had hardened.  It was so clear why they got this purple thing.  Crap for crap!  I can't tell you how many hours I've talked about this in therapy.  Still, if I go to a birthday party or something, and nobody talks to me, I find myself moving into my own personal isolation.  I feel like people shouldn't bother to talk to me.  Then I feel like I'm just a whiner.  My God, these people screwed me up.  Bastards. 

I can't imagine what she was thinking by putting this thing in my mailbox today - twenty years later.  Jesus!  Well, I'm done, Mom!  You win.  I can't take it any more.  Thirty years of worthlessness is enough.  When I'm gone I'm sure no one will care and you, Mom, you'll be so relieved.  Getting the purple thing back is a great way to celebrate the worst day of my life.  I guess I'll take these one at a time (takes another pill).  I'll dial Mommy and Daddy's number on my cell after I take the last pill.  (She opens her cell phone and its bright screen illuminates her.)  (cheerily) Maybe they'll hear my body when it hits the floor!  Why do people have kids, just to abuse them?  What sense does this make?

            (Spotlights come up on the two younger girls.  They briefly talk.)

BED DAUGHTER (to wheelchair girl):  Hey.

WHEELCHAIR GIRL (wearily):  Hey. What?

BED DAUGHTER:  Sometimes life just hurts so much.

WHEELCHAIR GIRL:  Yeah.  It does.

BED DAUGHTER:  So, how do we make it stop hurting?

WHEELCHAIR GIRL:  I don't know.  I think it's just what life is like.  (thinks)  Maybe you just gotta love every purple lizard you can get your hands on, you know?

The spotlights fade on them both.  The only light on the stage is now the Daughter's cell phone, which she holds close to her face.

DAUGHTER (sarcastically):  Whatever, Rainbow Bright.  I got a better idea.

 (DAUGHTER picks up a pill, puts the pill in her mouth, washing it down with some beer.  She reaches for the next, puts it in her mouth, then flips her phone closed, leaving us with)



© 2012 John Allison

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