1. Godalming: Fried Peanut Butter Sandwiches

    “You’re in for a treat,” Daisy said. “Trust me.” She pushed open the kitchen door. Although Phoebe didn’t think they’d returned the same way they’d set out, here was the kitchen, the same as it had looked this morning, the noonday sun blasting unimpeded through the room’s broad windows.

    “Rutabagas,” muttered Cook as she brushed past. Looking ahead, Phoebe saw a lanky boy about her age standing in front of the stove.

    Daisy cleared her throat and giggled as the boy turned around, dropping a spatula with a clatter to the floor. “Max. This is —”

    “Phoebe,” Max said. “I’d shake your hand or something, but I’m — that is — oh hell.” He extended his hand, still holding the spatula. Daisy took the spatula out of his hand with a kind if patronizing smile and went to the sink to wash it. Max blushed as Phoebe stepped forward to shake his hand.

    “Sometimes Cook lets me make lunch,” Max explained, still holding Phoebe’s hand. “I’m pretty sure she’s just placating me. Daisy likes my food, though. Don’t you?”

    Daisy laughed in response. “Of course I do, Max.”

    “Turnips.” Cook had returned to the kitchen.

    Everyone was moving around as though they had something to do, knew what it was, and were doing it. Phoebe felt conspicuous standing in place, her arm still half-extended as though Max was still shaking it — although he’d returned to his ministrations at the stove. Unwilling to ask any of them if there was anything she should do to help, she took a seat at the table.

    Daisy came over and set plates around the table at five places, then sat in the chair opposite Phoebe.

    “Watch your shoulder,” Max said behind her, holding a hot frying pan. With a flourish of the spatula, he flopped an oozing pile of squashed bread on her plate. “Fried peanut butter sandwiches,” he said with a smile, repeating the same flourish-flop onto Daisy’s plate. “My specialty.”

    Daisy picked up a fork and cut the corner of her sandwich, hoisted it to her mouth and chewed, then nodded to Phoebe as if giving her permission. “It’s edible, I promise,” Daisy said.

    Phoebe turned the sandwich on her plate, then cut a corner and put it in her mouth before she could think. As she was chewing, she felt hands around her neck, tugging against the piece of twine that held her key. She swallowed, relieved she hadn’t had to taste much, and turned, her nose bumping the man’s torso.

    “I didn’t mean to startle you,” he said. “Your key. Let me have it.”

    (Read from the first)

    © 2014 by Jennifer R.R. Mueller

  2. Jen’s Jam: Weather


    We typically consider “talking about the weather” small talk — an inconsequential conversation some stranger forces upon you while you’re out in public minding your own business. Since this is our first jam session, in many ways we are strangers, so talking about the weather seems a somewhat appropriate way to … break the ice.

    But as artists, the weather often takes on deeper meaning. Less idle chit-chat, more profound personal revelation. In Nine Stories, J.D. Salinger wrote “Poets are always taking the weather so personally. They’re always sticking their emotions in things that have no emotions.”

    This week, we’re jamming straight into the heart of the hurricane. Take it personally. Stick your emotions where they don’t belong. I dare you.

    Tag your creations #alitweather. We’ll be watching.

    This will continue until next Thursday, when a new jam will start. But you want to write something for this one, because it’s the first one, and you want to say you were there from the beginning. Or you don’t want to be left out. Or something.

    (via jayarrarr)

  3. The One

    If only broken
    hearts could be squeezed,
    their seams sealed air-tight
    to silence the screams
    begat by breaking;

    then you’d never know
    the weight of words
    like “he used to write
    poetry for me.”

    You’d never empathize
    with regret, never toil
    beneath burdens
    of shame.

    You’d see tomorrow’s light
    for what it is, without
    casting yesterday’s shadow
    upon it to filter
    and subdue its glow —
    weak and skinny,
    and impossible to hold.

    And fingers,
    grasping anyway.

    © 2014 by Jennifer R.R. Mueller

  4. Godalming: What People


    “Those people were fighting,” Phoebe said at last. She realized she sounded like a child.

    “What people,” Daisy said, not looking up from the notebook she held in her palm. She flipped back a few pages, as though looking for a note she’d only now realized had relevance.

    “The people in the room. They were fighting.”

    “We can’t know that,” Daisy said, her pen scratching divots on the page. “Things aren’t always what they seem.”

    “No,” Phoebe said, summoning up every shard of confidence she had to pronounce that tiny word. “It was … I was … uncomfortable. I felt like …”

    “This is why we try to avoid talking about them,” Daisy said, flipping the cover of her notebook closed. “Well — one of the reasons, anyway. Your role here is to observe, as openly and blankly as possible, and to capture that observation. After you’ve been here awhile, after you’ve looked through more portholes, you’ll start to see connections between the people. You may even see the same people on more than one occasion. You’ll be tempted to tie those observations together in neat packages as though you’ve figured something out. The more you talk about them, the more tempted you are to speculate, to see things that aren’t there, to pull out those shiny threads and attach them together.”

    “I’m not sure I understand,” Phoebe said.

    Daisy laughed, and Phoebe laughed too, in relief that Daisy’s face had regained a warm and welcoming expression. “Of course you don’t understand,” Daisy smiled, taking her arm. “And that’s a good thing! How frightfully boring the world would be if you always instantly understood everything. Don’t you agree?”

    “Sure, I —”

    “Then it’s settled,” Daisy said, pulling Phoebe along with her as she set off down the hall. “I think we’ve done more than enough for one morning. Lunch? I believe Cook’s letting Max try one of his culinary experiments today.”

    “Max is?”

    “Oh,” Daisy’s eyes widened and she reached over with her other hand to squeeze Phoebe’s arm. “You haven’t met Max yet, have you?” She patted Phoebe’s arm and then raised her head and smiled.

    (Read from the first)

    © 2014 by Jennifer R.R. Mueller

  5. ☛ Inkstained


    Inkstained’s worried. It thinks you have forgotten about it. But that’s surely incorrect.

    I often get messages from writers asking if I will review or critique their work, which is something I don’t do on Tumblr. However, I do review/critique on Inkstained. If you have a piece that you’re interested in getting some feedback on, feel free to post it there. I’m actively reviewing today and tomorrow and I’d be happy to give it a look.

  6. Objectification

    “Oh for fuck’s sake, it’s just a coffee pot.” He rapped the carafe on the counter twice before replacing it, as if proving some point.

    “I don’t expect you to understand.” She blew a curl up out of her eyes. It had always been this way. Whenever she met someone she felt something warm toward, she fretted when she’d tell them. She’d waited, with this one. Perhaps too long. She’d tried to play it off as a personal idiosyncrasy, and he’d responded by treating it as such. For awhile, perhaps, he’d even found it endearing. But they’d been living together for four months, and the more familiar she became the more her “personal idiosyncrasies” became less endearing and more grating. She knew this. But she didn’t know how to explain that everything he thought he knew was wrong.

    “Lina, listen.” He was in her face now. She could feel his jagged breaths fogging up her personal space.

    “You know I hate it when you get in my face like that.”

    “Oh my god, but it’s the only way you’ll fucking listen to me,” he said, backing away from her and rinsing the same pot he’d already rinsed three times.

    “Ralf,” she said through clinched teeth. “His name. Is Ralf.”

    “Lina. It’s a fucking coffee pot. It doesn’t have a gender. It doesn’t have a name. It’s a fucking thing. It doesn’t feel, it doesn’t have emotions, it doesn’t like some things and dislike others, it doesn’t have preferences or thoughts or — it’s —” he slammed his hands on the counter.

    “Maybe you could just accept it, you know? I realize it’s different from your own experience, but maybe you could just — I don’t know — give it a chance? The benefit of the doubt?” She got up and walked over to him and put her arms around his waist. He pushed her away and spun around.

    “When you told me about this shit, I thought it was cute. I thought — I don’t know what I fucking thought. But I know I didn’t expect you’d be reprimanding me for how I fucking treat inanimate fucking objects.”

    Carolina slid down the counter to the floor and curled her knees up to her chest. “I knew this was a mistake,” she said. There was a snap, and a thunderclap shuddered through the air outside. The lights flickered twice, then went completely silent.

    Jacob slid down to the floor beside Carolina and reached for her hand, no sound save the steady static of falling rain.

    “You angered them,” she said. It thundered again, as if on cue.

    © 2014 by Jennifer R.R. Mueller

  7. Godalming: Through the Porthole


    The room appeared to be a kitchen — albeit much smaller than the one in which Phoebe had eaten half a plate of breakfast earlier.

    “I don’t care,” the woman said, her voice coming from inside a fridge. “I don’t want him in my house.”

    There was a man standing beside her, removing containers from bags and placing them in a cabinet. A door slammed, another opened. “Honey,” he said, a desperate edge in his voice. “But … I thought it was our house. And he’s my friend. And I thought —”

    “You do entirely too much thinking,” she said, standing to face him. “The problem is you think about the wrong things. I understand that he’s your friend, although I can’t for the life of me imagine why. Do you ever think how selfish that makes you seem, to me? That you’d remain friends with him after —”

    The man handed her a bag of things meant for the fridge. “But you said you’d moved on —”

    She tossed the things in the fridge and slammed the door. “I have moved on, Charles. The problem is obviously you haven’t. That you’d invite that … that … neanderthal … to our dinner party. Our first dinner party. I can’t even —” She walked out the room, seemingly through a wall. The conversation was over.

    The man continued putting up the groceries, and then pulled his phone out of his pocket. His hands shook as he tapped on the screen, then held the device up to his ear.

    Phoebe pulled away from the glass. She searched Daisy’s face for some understanding of what they’d just witnessed, what role they were meant to play, but was met with an inscrutable blankness.

    (Read from the first)

    © 2014 by Jennifer R.R. Mueller

  8. Godalming: No Vacancy


    “All these rooms are occupied. My task — and I’m assuming yours, at some point — is to observe. You record your observations and ultimately those are collected together in the massive record books in the libraries upstairs.” Daisy pulled a small notebook out of her pocket and flipped the cover open as they walked.

    “But how? When I came in last night, it didn’t look like anyone had been upstairs in ages. All that —”

    “Oh no, no one ever uses the front stairs. Or the front door, really, for that matter. I haven’t even been out there since I first came here. It does give quite an impression, though, doesn’t it?”

    “I suppose. I mean, I was a bit afraid I was going to be handed dust rags after breakfast,” Phoebe said.

    “That’s a totally understandable conclusion to reach,” Daisy said. “But don’t worry — you weren’t brought here to help with housekeeping. I know what he saw in you.”

    “That’s what I don’t understand,” Phoebe said. “I mean, okay, all of this is strange and confusing — except you, I guess, you’ve been … lovely. But last night … he said he knew what I was. That I was safe. Or would be safe. If I came with him, I guess. I don’t —”

    “I see it too,” Daisy said, rather like she’d simply completed her original thought than that Phoebe had spoken. “Here,” she said, motioning to one of the doors. “Take a look.”

    “Wait,” Phoebe blinked and looked at the window in the door as though seeing it for the first time. “How is that — is that a porthole?”

    (Read from the first)

    © 2014 by Jennifer R.R. Mueller

  9. howitzerliterarysociety + praiseworthypeliades = synergistic perfection.

    howitzerliterarysociety + praiseworthypeliades = synergistic perfection.

  10. Out of Context

    • Jen:
      Don't you dare send me cat porn.

    • Matt:
      Hahaha ouch.

    • Jen:
      I kinda had to ... since you sent me horse porn once. That envelope can't be resealed.