Friday, November 30, 2012

All Eternity

Macie Snow shares another poem with us today. This budding poet, artist, and writer shows great promise!  





All Eternity

by
Macie Snow 


Love.

It is known throughout time,

Throughout history,

Throughout all eternity.

But what is it?

It is the purpose for existence.

It is not an act.

Nor a word,

Nor a gift given at midnight.

Love is not a trifle,

Not a passing feeling.

It exists for all eternity.

It is the deep bond

Formed when you know someone

Better than yourself.

When you would do anything

Give anything

Or be anything

To make that person happy.

Love does not waver

It does not vary.

The only change it experiences,

Is to grow stronger.

Love is the bond that overcomes all hardships.

It overcomes life

It overcomes death.

It overcomes temptation

And frustration.

Love lasts forever.

You just have to be willing to try.

Is it better to love for life,

Or to feel good for the night?

***********************************
Another great entry by Macie. But she has posed a question and we would love to hear your feedback on it. Come on don't be shy!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Language Barrier

     Humanity is expressive.  Mankind is always searching for new ways to express themselves and there is no better way to express one's emotions subtly and with flair than by using expletives.  For instance, the commonly used F - word is extremely versatile.  It can be used as an adjective, noun, and even a verb!  It can be used when one is happy, angry, or sad.  It effectively conveys emotions.  Simple expletives can be used in any situation and can convey a multitude of feelings. 
     When a person messes up something he or she has been working on, a simple four letter word can be shouted that conveys all their frustrations.  Why do people even bother taking years to learn a language when all their emotions can be expressed with just a few simple words? 
Instead, we could all just forget trying to be polite and create a whole language using only expletives.  It would replace all languages around the globe.  No one would have to learn a different languages, children would spend less time in school, allowing them more time to do productive things, like become mass consumers allowing corporate companies to flourish and with a worldwide language  there would be nothing stopping people from living in different countries.  Anybody could move to a different country, and they would not be restricted by language.  A common language consisting of only expletives, would be a benefit to all!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Swingers Part IV


What does Swinging mean to you? Did you remember the details? Aaron did...


Part IV: Another Swing

by Abyrne Mostyn
Aaron watched as couple fourteen parted company and turned for their respective sides of the hall, waiting until their doors were closed before turning back up the hall heading for the foyer to wait for couple fifteen to arrive. Mr. Fourteen was familiar but only perhaps in passing, Mrs. Fourteen, and her ring definitely identified her as MRS, was very familiar. When did she get married...Or was she always? That was the thing with swinging, sometimes you just didn’t know. Everyone came in consensually, but their back story didn’t always come in with them.
She had been an adventure. Dressed like a Christmas tree one December party a couple years back; he and Holden had taken turns removing the decorations and putting her away for the night. That dress had been a riot. Everyone had come dressed as their favorite winter holiday and she was obviously Christmas, complete with rope lights, colored balls and wisps of tinsel. They had played and made use of it all in the course of the evening, complete with having her hold the star high with both hands. He still couldn’t look at the big fir down in town square and not see her. Smiling now he nearly missed couple fifteen walk in, and had to stash the smirking to hand them their bags and give the spiel for tonight’s event.
Tonight was something new altogether. Props and play things were not new; usually however it was a single theme, so this was an experiment of sorts. To the west was Mardi gras, to the east was Carnival. Similar but different, it was going to be interesting to see if they evolved the same or if they took different turns. The rooms had been decked out with things fitting each festival, and had been a major effort. The current economy had been murder on many and the need to escape was a strobe light everywhere you looked. When he and his other half Sharilynne had enquired about helping with one of the upcoming parties, little did they know that they would get the whole deal.
They spent hours culling the net for images of Rio and New Orleans, getting poster prints of the ones they liked best and puttying them to the walls in the common rooms to flavor the spaces. They had downloaded music and had the Bose playing in each room to create atmosphere. They had even gone to the effort of having a caterer bring in dishes from those areas that would help complete the overall event. Sights, sounds, and smells…there was more to successful swinging than just ‘hooking up’ as the kids today would call it. It was being somewhere you might never be. It was fantasy realized, desire unchained, and personal hang-ups cast to the wind. For one night you could be the person you wanted to be, Don Juan and all that.
These parties had been successful for nearly a decade because it was something new and fun every time. Never the same thing twice. Never just another swing. This party was the IT party because everyone came in looking for the same thing. And, they got it. You wanted bondage? Someone else was sure to step up and play for a night, even if they wouldn’t anywhere else. You looking for some practice in submission, you’d find it. A taste or more of S&M? It was here too. All of it. Every fantasy come to life, couched in a new adventure. This night it would be the free-for-all festivals of North and South America. It was all there for the taking and all you had to do was walk in, take your clothes off, and leave your inhibitions at the door.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Reflections On My Writing



Ever wonder what the author is thinking about when writing those steamy scenes? What's the difference between pornography and erotica? What distinctions do you make in your own mind? Ben shares a little from his heart on this matter.

Reflections On My Writing

by

Ben Hannigan

Sex is something that is always special. Sex holds a power regardless of time, of space, sex can be gentle, sex can be rough, it can hurt, it can heal. Sex is something that I write about often but I would like to think that the focus of my work isn’t sex. Sex to me is something that is both beautiful and terrifying. It opens you up as a person in ways that cannot be foreseen; opening up to a lover in a kiss bares your soul in ways that simply talking will never do. To me if a lover is to cheat, taking them back if they confessed to fucking another would be easy but sharing a slow loving passionate kiss would be far harder and I take these views about what is meaningful into my writing.

The passion, the love, the desire I believe must come from more than sex, more than the simple act of making love. My characters have in my mind an image and a personality before they have their sexuality. In the piece that I am currently writing for this blog, I tried to create not only a plausible relationship but also create characters that are real and more importantly, can draw on the emotions of a reader. The erotic for me as a writer is more about the build-up to the act than the act itself. While the act is exciting; the moments of frantic thrusting, kissing, tasting, biting and the ultimate explosion of release, the teasing passionate build-up of anticipation, the lingering longing kisses and the slow gentle stroking are the things that keep me coming back to a piece, to an author. The foreplay and the lust have to intertwine in a deeper story. Simple sex has nothing in my view, it has no substance, no draw and no interest. If we use an analogy of food, crude hypersexualised writing that is concerned with the reproductive act and nothing more is a fast food hamburger, whereas the full piece focusing on the hunt, the chase and the challenge of courtship as well as the highs and lows of two lives colliding.

Sex without a reason to me isn’t interesting so I try to create a world for my characters. I want them to feel like people. Erotica that doesn’t have that feel of realism for me is similar to porn on the screen, it doesn’t feel quite right, it feels hollow and doesn’t have the same depth to it. For some reason, it doesn’t grab my attention and hold it. For me starting at “he was inside her deep, fast, rough, the sweat dripping down his back as he moved, driving his lover down into the silk”doesn’t appeal in the same was as starting at say, “they sat opposite each other at the bar table, she rubbed her bare foot over the younger girls thigh as their hands touched gently as they moved, reaching for the bread”. That’s not to say that the sex isn’t interesting or something that I want to read about, but it I think requires building up to it.

The role of the author, I believe is to inspire and create a world that a reader can lose themselves in for as long as it takes them to read. To create a world that you can be lost in eagerly awaiting the next instalment. I draw my inspiration from conversations with other writers, friends, things I read or have seen. I start with an image and spend my time trying to put the ‘thousand words’ that image contains onto paper.

I want to thank my fellow writers on Storytime for their encouragement, patience, and guidance as I test my new wings. They provide inspiration and support that I didn't realize I needed until I had it. There are people I talk to about my life, my writing, my hope and dreams; they know who they are and they are an amazing help. Thanks to all!

 



Sunday, November 25, 2012

Interview With Macie Snow

Welcome to Storytime Lounge.  Today we have a special treat, an interview with our very own Macie Snow.  



Ellie: Welcome Macie, please tell our audience a little about youreslf.
Macie: I'm a senior in high school, have one younger sister, and I'm interested in art, writing and gaming. 

Ellie: Wow, it must be tough to find time to write with the demands of school.  How do you find the time?
Macie: Whenever I can get a spare moment, and sometimes I write while I watch movies and such.

Ellie:  What genre do you typically write?
Macie:  I would say YA fantasy romance.

Ellie: What qualifies the end of a writing session for you? Do you set a daily word count, write by scenes, can you describe?
Macie:  I usually just stop when I run out of time, like when the bell rings at the end of class or if it's time for bed.

Ellie:  If I gave you a story prompt, how long would it take you to write either a flash fiction piece or a short story?
Macie:  Well it would depend on the prompt but typcially not long to come up with the story idea.

Ellie:  Where did you get your inspiration for Twin Desires? 
Macie:  I wanted to write a medieval story and that's what I came up with .  As I went along I just got more and more ideas.

Ellie: Who is your favorite author or authors?
Macie: Rick Riordan, Maria V. Snyder, Rachel Vincent, Chistopher Paolini, Louise Rennison, and Michael Chrichton

Ellie:  In the past you've mentioned that you and your sister often memorize and recite lines to movies. What is the most recent movie you've seen that you've done this with?
Macie: "A person can't feel all that, they'd explode."  Ron Weasley from HP movie.  "That's just maddeningly unhelpful."  Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean.

Ellie:  Describe your typical workspace to me.
Macie:  Messy, cluttered, mulitple projects open at one time.

Ellie:  I have to say for such a talkative person, Macie is rather shy in a formal interview.  Perhaps If I coax her with some video games next time she'll open up in her usual fashion.  What can we expect next from you Macie?

Macie:  Probably some poetry or some short stories, maybe some flash fiction as things are getting a bit hectic in my school work and working on my full length novel.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

White Moon, Yellow Leaves - Chapter 4

Hello all! My name is V.L. Locey and it is an honor to be a guest author on Storytime Trysts for the month of November. I generally write romantic/comedies but for this special outing we`ll have a straight up contemporary romance. I am a self-published and traditionally published author that lives in the mountains of Pennsylvania with my husband of over twenty-one years, my daughter who is sixteen, a herd of dairy goats, chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys, three dogs, two cats, and a partridge in a pear tree.

At the end of this issue I`ll link you up to various places where you can purchase my work if you`re so inclined, or just stop in and say howdy! Enough about me now, let`s dive into some holiday romance, shall we?

Enjoy!









White Moon, Yellow Leaves

Chapter Four

*~*~*


Not to sound like a braggart, but Aunt Jo-Jo and I really outdid ourselves. The meal was delicious. The desserts afterwards were mouth-watering. Those I can`t take credit for. The two apple pies were all Aunt Jo and her baking skills. It was such an enjoyable time, no rush or hurry to eat. We all slowly ate and talked, taking small dabs of scalloped corn, stuffing, turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. Even Rhett ate well, proclaiming that he had lots of room since he had used the bathroom.

                “Don`t look at me, I didn`t teach him to say that,” Aunt Jo had said when the boy flopped down in his seat between his great-great aunt and Andy Big Deer.

                “It sounds like something my grandson would say,” Andy winked as he ladled gravy over his mound of potatoes. Andy looked much as I had remembered him. A huge bear of a man with a voice that sounded much like a bruin in depth and tone. His hair was all silver now, not a strand of ebony to be found upon his neatly trimmed head. He was using two crutches which were placed directly behind his chair. His skin was deep sienna and covered with laugh lines. I chuckled and peeked to my left. It did not escape my notice that Aunt Jo-Jo had placed me next to Jonah. Bless the old gal’s heart.

                “Hey now,” Jonah countered pausing in his roll buttering.

                “See how he assumes it`s him I`m talking about?” Andy said as he tucked a napkin into the front of his dress shirt, “I got ten grandsons and thirteen granddaughters, and yet Jonah,” he waved his fork at the man beside me, “Jumps right up and figures it’s him.”

                “More than likely it generally is” Jonah admitted, giving me a wink before we took a moment to say grace: one version in German and another in Seneca.

                Conversation flowed easily. The Big Deer men were gregarious and ate like grizzly bears just coming out of hibernation. Rhett asked question after question. I grew a bit ill at ease about him being so blatant until Jonah leaned to the right while Andy was answering Rhett`s latest query about the Seneca.

                “It`s better for him to learn the right things from the right people than go through life thinking the wrongs things told to him by the wrong people,” Jonah patted my thigh under the table.

                He was right. I tried to stop worrying about my son offending our dinner guests.

                By the time I placed two pies and a freshly brewed pot of coffee on the table our tiny group moaned in agony. It didn`t stop any of us from having a slice of pie topped with vanilla ice cream though. Rhett excused himself and wobbled to the couch beside the wood stove after dessert. We adults, and Herr Poopbottom, who had been fed enough under the table to placate an Irish wolfhound, remained in the cramped kitchen area and talked. We chatted about old times and those who no longer came to Mud Puppy Lake. Aunt Jo-Jo asked Jonah what his line of work was. I stirred sugar into my cup as he explained that he had taken the training he had gotten in the National Guard and was now working at a large trucking company as a diesel mechanic. Aunt Jo raised her wild eyebrows at me. I stirred faster.

                “Dana works in a bookstore,” my aunt said. I nodded and popped my spoon out of my mouth.

                “Maybe you can find a book for me?” Andy asked, dabbing at his mouth with the napkin that was still hanging from his shirt collar.

                 “Sure, I`ll try. What are you looking for?” I asked, leaning back into my chair. My arm brushed Jonah`s. Flames erupted at my elbow then spread to the tips of my fingers and toes. I stared at Andy across the table, not daring to look at Jonah lest I toss my cup of coffee aside and leap on him like a starving puma.

                “Oh man,” Jonah murmured then put his cup to the table beside his dirty pie plate. Andy Big Deer ignored his grandson and requested a copy of that book his sister told him about.

“It`s something to do with this Viking and this woman and it`s really dirty,” the elder Big Deer stated. I smiled into my coffee. I had a strong suspicion of what he was asking for. It was called ‘Norse Desires’ and had been flying off the shelves for the past month. Everyone was talking about it. A thud to my side drew my attention from Joe. Jonah had dropped his head to the table in front of him. Aunt Jo-Jo was giggling and patting his thick dark hair across the table.

“It`s okay,” she cackled with mischief, “We`ll keep the dark dirty secret that the Big Deer men like romance novels to ourselves.”

“Only him!” Jonah quickly pointed out, sitting straight up and giving me a long, desperate look. “I read good books.”

“Are you saying that romance novels aren`t good books?” I asked curtly, crossing one leg over the other and slapping a dour look on him.

“No, of course not, I just meant that – Uhm, yeah, how about those Mets?” Jonah muttered.

“Oh no you don`t! You`re not shifting the discussion to hockey Mister Big Deer,” I countered and the rest of the guests burst into laughter. “Well basketball then!”

The next outburst of hilarity nearly woke up Herr Poopbottom. I gave up on my defense of romance novels and drank my coffee. By the time Rhett threw Pictionary on the table we had all refilled our mugs. Another hour raced past. I learned that while Jonah Big Deer may possess many fine qualities, drawing is not one of them. He, Rhett, and I were on one team, Aunt Jo and Andy on another.

“It`s a horse? Really?” I asked, squinting to try to make out how the thing with legs Jonah had drawn was supposed to resemble anything equine.

“Yes it`s a horse. See the long tail?” he huffed, pointing at the mentioned part scribbled on a blank piece of paper.

“I thought it was a wolf. That`s why I said ‘Dances with Wolves’,” I explained.

“I thought it was a cat,” Rhett admitted with a shrug.

“That`s why I put him on your team. He couldn`t draw himself through a straw,” Andy chortled. Jonah mumbled something that only Andy understood. By the tone of the quick sentence it wasn`t anything a six year old should hear. Sadly, after a few rounds of game-play the inevitable could be put off no longer. Dishes had to be washed.

I sent Andy and Aunt Jo into the tiny living-room to listen to the radio and chat. Rhett, Jonah and I began the seemingly overwhelming clean-up. Another hour crept past as we washed, dried, and put away dishes, pots, and pans. Rhett was getting pretty sleeping looking, so I handed him some crayons and a pad we had used for our game, and he joined the pair talking about summers past.

“Care to join me for a stroll around the lake?” Jonah asked, rubbing his slightly rounded stomach.”Maybe walk off a few calories?”

“Sure,” I smiled. I`d need to walk back to Pittsburgh to work off all I had eaten today, but a stroll around Mud Puppy Lake was better than the nap I would usually have taken. We bundled up, told the stove huggers where we were headed, and then stepped into the night. The temperature had dropped sharply while we had feasted.

“I bet there`ll be ice on the lake in the morning,” I blew into my hands as I stepped off the porch.

“Thin layer,” Jonah reached out and placed his hands over mine, keeping them cupped. He raised them to his lips and blew. “You want to go back for gloves?” he asked, each word steaming my palms. I shook my head dully. “Okay,” he smiled and released one hand. The other hand he held onto and led me to the worn path circling the water. We walked in silence for a few minutes, the grass and dead leaves brittle with frost under foot.

“So, you good with all this?” he asked after we stopped to listen to two barred owls hooting back and forth to each other.

“Good with all what?” I asked.

“Me and you,” he said as we resumed walking off the stuffing.

Is there a ‘me and you’?” I inquired. “I`m not trying to be catty or coy,” I explained, trying to peek around the blanket of black hair hiding his profile. “I`m just not sure we should take this past a pleasant flirtation.”

“So you`re looking for something short and superficial,” he said stiffly.

“I didn`t say that! I just assumed you`d be looking for something short and superficial.”

He stopped and turned to look down at me, his fingers still clasping mine. “And why is that? Wait,” he interjected when my mouth opened. I wished I could see his face but his back was to the full moon. “It`s because I`m younger than you, right?”

“Partly,” I told him honestly. He tsked rather angrily. “Okay, so you`re telling me that you want to date a woman that`s ten years older than you, has a child, and lives in another state?”

“The only impediment I see to us going out is the distance and your hang-ups. I told you I don`t care if you`re older or had a kid or are white. I like you. I think you`re funny, smart, hotter than hell, and a good mother. I want to get to know you better. End of story, or it would be if you`d stop throwing all that other bullshit in the way.”

I grew a bit defensive and tugged my hand from his. “Those are real concerns, Jonah! Life isn`t as simple as you`re trying to make it out to be,” I stalked off, keeping a good foot from the reeds that swayed at the edge of the lake.

“It can be,” he argued coming up on my left. “It can be as simple as two people who are attracted to each other wanting to get together. You`re heaping all your baggage onto the tracks, trying to derail a really good possible thing, because you`re concerned about the size of your caboose. Or, what your ex thinks of the size of your ass, I guess I should say.”

“You need to stop talking to Josephine behind my back!” I spit at him and sped up. How dare she tell Jonah all those things I said to her in confidence?! “The size of my ass has nothing to do with it.”

He grabbed my bicep bringing me to dead stop.

“Listen, she didn`t tell me anything that I didn`t already know. Do I look like your ex? Do I sound like him?” the man demanded. I shook my head. The moon was bright and shone on the side of our faces. I could see now that he was growing quite angry. “That`s because I`m not him. Now, care to give me a damned chance at the least?”

“But how are we going to work out the logistics?” I insisted. It was so cold and still clouds of breath lingered in front of our faces.

“I don`t know, but we will. I can drive down some weekend.”

 I gaped at him. “Drive down to Pittsburgh? That`s a long way to go to see a movie with a woman.”

“Depends on the movie and the woman,” he replied smoother than the surface of Mud Puppy Lake. Oh yeah, Jonah Big Deer was very good. I wanted to come back with something flip but my lips just formed a smile. His head slid to the left, his hair flowing off his shoulder to block out the moonlight.

“Are you smiling?” he teased, moving the hand that had been holding my arm downward until his fingers were tickling my wrist. “Is that a yes?”

“It`s a ‘You`re crazy, but if you drive down I`ll go out with you’ as opposed to a yes.”

“Damn, you are one tough woman to woo,” he chuckled, turning us both back to the path then placing his arm around my neck. It was heavy and warmed me better than any scarf ever knitted.

“Are you wooing me?” I asked coquettishly.

“I`d like to think I am,” he admitted as we rounded the far side of the water. We walked out onto the rickety boat launch. Four canoes and a johnboat were overturned, waiting for the snowfall that would bury them until next spring. “What kind of wooing do you prefer? Flowers? Candy?”

“God, no candy,” I groaned. Jonah pulled me closer to his side. I went willingly, my arguments against this new affair of the heart soundly beaten down by his honesty. “Teach me something in Seneca.”

I caught him glancing down at me. It was hard to judge what he was thinking as he looked over the nearby woods then stared at the sky.

“Kakë:'ët Ë:ní'ta:'” he said, reaching out to tip my chin upward. “White moon,” he translated. I tried to repeat the words but they got tangled on my tongue.

“That was pretty horrible,” he winced as I mangled a lovely language. “You work on those and when I come down next, I`ll try to teach you a few more.”

I nodded then followed the two owls we had heard moments ago as they left the trees on silent wings. They crossed across the white moon. Their departure shook some yellow leaves free.

  Jonah dropped his head to kiss me. It was a soft kiss at first, tentative and unsure.  I rose to my toes for more. Then the kiss deepened. My hands moved under his hair to find the back of his neck. We were both breathless when the kiss ended.

“I hope it doesn`t snow a lot this winter,” I confessed, his hands resting on my waist.

“Those Inuit’s aren`t the only natives that can be mushers,” he informed me slanting his mouth over mine for another taste.



The End

*~*~*




Care to read about Jonah and Dana`s first date? Good! We`ll have a special Christmas two issue short to show us just how things go  for this new couple in December. Look for their special holiday issues titled Blue & Silver Bows December 8th and December 15th.


If you`re interested in my novels, you can find the first of my trilogy Of Gods & Goats in print here at my website-


For you eReaders fans, Of Gods & Goats is also available at Smashwords-


And if you`re hungry for a zombie apocalypse story with some M/M heat, keep an eye peeled over at Torquere Press, where my short story will be offered in the anthology He Loves Me For My Brainssss available 1/2/13—
 




Yours in romance and laughter-

V.L. Locey






Friday, November 23, 2012

Wounded

Today we are pleased to present Macie Snow, a poet who will be moonlighting now and again on our blog. Macie Snow has contributed a piece of her poetry expressing her heart. She is a budding artist and poet who shows a promising future for both.  Maybe next time she'll share some of her art work!

Wounded
by
Macie Snow

 Love is as the wounded sun.

Sinking

Fading

Falling into night.

It vanishes

With thoughts of lust

And greed.

Love is gone.

And the vain moon shines her light.

People do not see

They do not care.

They only feel the vain moon’s pleasure

And ride it through their life.

What they do not know,

What they do not see,

Is the bright beautiful sun

Rising in the east.

Love may be gone,

As the light disappears for night,

But it will always rise again,

And triumph through till morn.

Darkness never wins,

As pleasure never fulfills.

Light breaks through the shadows,

And love lasts your whole life.

* * * * * ** * * * * * *

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tortilla Woman

Tortilla Woman understands the need for love, passion and romance. She helps those who deserve it meet these needs. Her discretion and wisdom in such matters is laudable and this is what makes her a folk heroine.
The story Tortilla Woman and accompanying recipes/foodlore are included in the newly released Black Pepper Visions: Original Folktales & Stories You Can Eat (FolkHeart Press 2012).
Enjoy!


In the Mexican desert looking for flat rocks to use for cooking special tortillas, Tortilla Woman overheard a young mother scolding the child clinging to the hem of her colorful skirt. The child cried to be carried in her mother’s arms.

“I told you the trip was not easy, but you wanted to come along anyway. Well, here we are and you changed your mind. You can see that my hands are full and that I still need to pick the cactus bark your father likes to chew at night. I have no room for you now, child.”

“Mama, I’m tired.” "The little girl begged.

“If we rest I will not have time to pick enough bark. Your father will be very unhappy.”

“But Mama!” The child pulled on her mother’s skirt.

“Children,” Tortilla Woman gently smiled as she approached them. It had been a long time since she’d come across others on the edge of the desert and she did not want to startle them. Unlike the lizards and other creatures she would sing to announce her arrival, people from the pueblo were no longer familiar with women like her who called the desert home. People just didn’t travel to the desert much anymore. Cactus flowers that blossomed into fruit were no longer important. Neither were the rocks, that and thin enough to quickly cook tortillas that could heal broken hearts. Food was purchased at markets by people who no longer had time for the old ways.

 “What do you want?” The mother dropped the bright pink cactus flowers in her hands and quickly directed her child to stand behind her.

Times had changed since Tortilla Woman was a young woman. Back then the desert outskirts were a playfield for children who followed their mothers as they harvested the cacti and talked to Tortilla Woman about their problems. Too young to help harvest, the children would chase one another around while their mothers filled their baskets with prickly pears and other cactus treats that later would become salsa. Many of the children, now grown up, had moved away from the pueblo to larger villas where they earned money they spent on TV satellite dishes, movies, and batteries for their children’s radios. She knew it was a rarity to come across this mother and child.

Maybe, she thought, they were lost. Just the same she was happy to see them. Anymore she spent her days alone. Preparing the sun-ripened corn which she ground into maize and occasionally traded in the pueblo for firewood, queso, and salsa took all of her time. The only one left of her family to make treasured healing maize, she had little time to have friends. Besides, she knew there were some in the pueblo who believed her, her mother, aunt and grandmother were brujas malas. But these women cast no evil spells. They did not cause the desert streams to flow into pools that drowned the corn fields of others.

“I make maize and tortillas as round and as golden as the sun,” Tortilla Woman smiled and then winked at the young girl.

“What do you want? The child is mine!” The mother’s nostrils flared. Back arched she glared at Tortilla Woman.

“I can see that you are very tired. Because you have brought your daughter along and had to take care of her, you have not been able to collect enough bark for your husband. Will he beat you?” Tortilla Woman pointed to the bruise on the mother’s arm.

“That is no business of yours!” The young mother quickly placed her arm behind her.

“I can help if you will let me. But you must leave your child with me. I can make tortillas so big they will stretch between those two cacti over there, like a blanket overhead. I can make tortillas so small that they are easy for your little one to eat. She can rest in the shade while you gather more bark,” Tortilla Woman spoke slowly. With each word, she exhaled calming puffs of air that helped the mother relax.

The woman was right to be concerned about her child’s safety after all there were wild dogs in the desert that could at a moment’s notice drag the girl away. But Tortilla Woman was not a wild dog any more than she was evil.

“What if I return to find her gone?” The mother squinted.

“You won’t. And if you find her unhappy, she’ll be no different than she is right now,” Tortilla Woman looked the woman straight in the eyes and answered the unasked question. “She will be here when you return.”

Glancing over her shoulder to see her child grinning up at the older woman, the young mother sighed. She kissed her daughter on the forehead.

“I’ll be back soon,” the young mother waved as she left.

“Whenever you like,” Tortilla Woman responded. Then she turned to the child. She was going to build her a lovely place in the shade. The child reached out for the short woman who hugged her and eagerly held her hand.

Tortilla Woman laid out the rocks she had collected and quickly cut the skin of a cactus limb to let its juices mix with the handful of maize she always carried with her. In no time at all she had prepared a tortilla that would stretch between two cacti like a roof over the child. As she worked, she told the girl how she herself had been raised by women who taught her to make special corn cakes. Flat and yellow-white, they were more than just food. She then pinched off a bit of the tortilla roof and made animal shaped tortillas and birds she knew by name. Immediately the child stuffed herself with freshly cooked food and swiftly grew tired.

“Children are like that,” Tortilla Woman wiped down her cooking stones and sat down alongside the girl under the roof’s protective shade. The mother, afraid of what might happen to her daughter, did not stay away for long. Returning, she came upon her child still asleep.

“You kept your word, you can be trusted,” the young mother said. “I must go now. Here, take a few pieces of bark. I want to repay you for your care of my child.” She held out splinters of rugged, dried cactus skin.

“That is not necessary. Bring the girl with you again if you wish. Let her spend the afternoon with me. Her giggles are sweet. That will be payment enough,” Tortilla Woman asked for nothing more.

“Come, wake up. It is time to go home,” the mother nudged the sleeping girl.

“I don’t want to wake up.” The child rubbed her eyes.

“Next time you can stay longer,” the mother promised.

“But I want to stay now,” the child pouted.

“Children,” Tortilla Woman said, then watched the girl and her mother walk away. She knew that the mother and child would be back in a few days because the mother needed the bark. It made her husband happy.

The bruise on the young woman’s arm told her he was the kind of man who hit his wife because she had not provided him with enough after-dinner bark. She knew he would also be surprised, even suspicious of the bark she could provide.

“Where are these from?” he asked that very evening.

In all their time in the same house, she had never before brought home so much bark. She was not going to tell him about Tortilla Woman for he was among those who believed that women like her who live without men were witches.

“Have you been keeping this much from me all along?” He stood ready to strike her again.

“No, good husband, no,” she scrambled to her feet. “What you have said before about me has been true. I have been lazy. I have not picked fast enough,” she lied, her eyes racing quickly over to where the child sat. Her stare demanded the girl to be silent.

“Let this be a lesson, lazy woman.” He struck her one last time, pulled the bark close to his side, and did not strike her again the rest of the evening.

Tortilla Woman knew the young mother would come again soon to the desert’s edge and when she did, Tortilla Woman handed her several tortillas wrapped in cloth. “Serve them with dinner. They are special,” she said.

“Made in the full light of day they are rolled in red pepper sugar before I put them on the stones to cook. They will bring out the sweetness of love for the one who eats them.” Tortilla Woman wanted the husband to care so much for his wife that he would never hit her again.

But, night after night, exhausted from having eaten so much bark, the husband instead would fall asleep without so much as a kind word. He would not move until the morning light reached him. The young mother would wake in the night and wait for the signs of sweetness Tortilla Woman spoke of. She found only his snores. Disappointed, she tried to go back to sleep, but could not.

Frustrated, she decided to throw the remaining tortillas away. Stepping outside she looked up and down the street to be sure it was empty. The last thing she needed was for someone to see her. Word would get back to her husband that she herself might be a bruja. Why else would she be up and about while others slept?

She headed past the well towards the edge of the pueblo, to where it met the jagged desert that stretched for miles. That was where she planned to leave the crusty flat cakes. “Let the dogs take them,” she whispered, unaware that someone else unable to sleep had been watching her every move.

Manuel had gone to the well to cool off. The sweat of dreams that ran him in circles beaded his skin. Even in sleep he had not been able to escape the way he had blinded one of his friends. Not once had he believed that his friend would take his dare. “Touch my novia and you will not see my sweetheart any more,” he had said while drunk, not expecting the other man who was also drunk to take up the challenge.

Standing by the well, Manuel who had returned to the pueblo from a larger city to escape prosecution watched the young mother walk by with the tortillas. It had been a long time since he’d last been close to her.

“Good evening,” he kept his voice low.

“Oh!” the young mother was startled. She hadn’t expected to see anyone or anything other than a lone, stray dog searching for something to eat. For a moment in the darkness, their eyes met. She lowered hers first. Just the sight of him caused her skin to tingle.

“No,” she told herself. She was a married woman and could not allow herself to think about Manuel. Many years before he had been the man she wanted but he had left to find his fortune in one of the larger, fast-growing cities. She had heard at the time that he had had also found himself a novia. She excused herself and continued walking.

Recognizing the footsteps that now followed, the young mother absently reached for a tortilla. Without thinking, she nibbled on its sugary edge. Her pace slowed down; Manuel caught up to her. A thin smile on her lips, she offered a tortilla to him. His fingers brushed hers as he took the offering.

Quietly, they arrived at the edge of town and stepped into the shadows. Kissing, the young mother sensed warmth inside that she had not felt in a very long time. She wanted the night to last forever.

Tortilla Woman did not know when the young mother asked her for more sun-baked sugar tortillas that she was feeding them to Manuel.

“I will be back soon,” there was a leafy shadow over the woman’s eyes. Tortilla Woman assumed the vines of love that were growing inside of the young woman were entwined with her husband’s. She herself had not been with a man. The women of her family only met with men to have children and raising a child was something Tortilla Woman did not want to do on her own. Over the years, long after her thick, raven-black hair turned into thin strands of silver she wound up each day into a bun at the nape of her neck, she contented herself with making tortillas that could feed love and heal the cracks of a broken heart. Still there were times when she wondered how her life might have been had she chosen otherwise.

A few days later, Tortilla Woman again heard childish squeals. She smiled; glad that she and the child were getting to spend more time together. They had already spent many afternoons together and the girl now ran into Tortilla Woman’s arms when she saw her. This time, though, the girl was breathless. Breathing hard, she shook like a mini earthquake.

“What’s this?” Tortilla Woman had been about to ask when she caught sight of the mother clutching the arms of a man whose grin was outlined in specks of red pepper sugar.

“I am here today,” the mother released her hold on the man and took a step forward, “to be with him. Can you watch the child for a while?”

“Ah…” Tortilla Woman nodded. “Do you need a private place?” If so, she could cook them a tortilla big enough to blanket them both while she cared for the child. Taking in a deep breath she pulled in some of the air between the young mother and Manuel. She knew this was not the husband who beat her. Yet there was something about him, about the way he looked down at the ground instead of into Tortilla Woman’s eyes that told her that he was a man whose passion could become dangerous.

“I have only seen him in the dark, when my husband is asleep. I brought him here where you have more than enough light…” Again, the woman stumbled over her words.

Closing her eyes for a moment, Tortilla Woman sighed. If she denied the young mother one hour of time, she may never see the child again. If the child were kept busy, then the young mother would have a chance to get what she wanted and that would be the end of that. Tortilla Woman could feel that the man was getting ready to leave the pueblo again so this one time wouldn’t repeat itself.

Taking the ball of tortilla dough she had prepared for the child, Tortilla Woman flattened it between the palms of her hands. She placed it on the flat rock and pushed its center until it was stretched in all directions. At last it was large enough for her to wrap around the young mother and Manuel. Like the layers of a cocoon, the sheet of cooked corn flour went around and around their bodies. Careful to gather in their legs, Tortilla Woman folded and tucked under the ends so that no part of the couple could be seen. With a gentle push, she rolled the now- stuffed tortilla towards the cactus where the child usually took her nap. She grabbed the child’s hand and walked away.

“She is an adult,” Tortilla Woman thought of the young mother who was now coupled with the man in the tortilla. Glancing back she saw their desire bursting out from the corn shell. Flames of reds, oranges, and yellows were everywhere. Anyone looking up at the sky might think there was a fire somewhere in the desert.

“No!” Tortilla Woman knew that no one must see them. If the lovers were found out, the young mother would surely get more than a beating from her husband. He might even throw her out of the pueblo, denying her access to her own child.

Child in tow, Tortilla Woman went back to where she had baked their tortilla. She quickly cooked one more that she shaped into a roof to shield the cocooned lovers should anyone come looking. It did not take long for the tortilla cocoon to stop rocking back and forth. “Maybe they have fallen asleep,” she said of the quiet that now replaced the passion.

“A nap would be good,” Tortilla Woman was pleased. She believed the young mother would wake up refreshed from such a long sleep. Then she’d be alert and awake for her daughter. At the thought of the child happy because her mother was not tired, she smiled. “Then surely the child will come again tomorrow,” Tortilla Woman hummed.

The e next day Tortilla Woman heard the murmur of voices coming her way. Excited that she would see the child’s wide shining face, she froze when the young mother appeared without her. Instead there was only Manuel.

“Where is the child? I have made her extra animal tortillas,” Tortilla Woman was surprised.

“She is home,” Manuel stepped out in front of the young mother who stood eyes downcast, in his shadow. “We want you to wrap us up again,” he demanded.

“She has agreed,” he spoke to the look of concern in Tortilla Woman’s round, brown face.

“All right,” Tortilla Woman felt the hair on the back of her neck rise. Manuel had changed. No longer a man full of passion, he was telling the young mother she had to lie with him.

“Or else I might tell her husband that we’ve been together,” the man hissed.

Pretending she did not see the invisible vines of love harden into chain that linked the young mother to the man, Tortilla Woman only nodded. Then she set out to flatten another white tortilla. This time, however, she made sure that it had not cooked evenly.

“The man first, always the man first,” Tortilla Woman said. She knew how to make him feel important. Straightening his shoulders he did as she instructed and lay down on the tortilla. Motioning the young mother to be quiet, Tortilla Woman wrapped him up. As she worked, Manuel asked when the young mother was going to join him.

“In due time,” Tortilla Woman hurried, a gleam in her eyes.

“Hey, wait!” Manuel’s muffled cry came through the many layers that now had been rolled around him.

Standing behind the mound, Tortilla Woman signaled for the young mother to help her. Together they pushed the burrito over the edge of a desert ledge. The tortilla rolled down between crevice walls until it landed in a bed of thickly branched cactus. Out of sight it would not be seen by anyone unless they were willing to climb down the steep wall and search through the cactus. And who would know to do that?

“Oh!” The woman, both shocked and relieved, threw her arms around Tortilla Woman who said, “He will feel nothing. In time the tortilla and he will dissolve.”

Tortilla Woman waited many days for the child to arrive again. Still sitting by the stones at night, she ground the last of the corn into fine powder. “Tomorrow she must come.” Angrily, she spoke to the darkness. It was all that had remained of the day. Glancing back over her shoulder, she stared at the cactus where she usually met them. Even in the darkness she could make out the cactus’ browning tips. “Tomorrow,” she repeated herself, “tomorrow the girl will come.”

“Maybe the child is ill and her mother cannot leave her side,” Tortilla Woman told herself as she pushed hard against the kernels of corn she was grinding into maize. After it grew dark she would go into the pueblo and look for them.

Wrapped in a shawl and with a few flat sweet pepper tortillas in hand she left the desert. A small woman, she stayed in the shadows until she neared the young mother’s house. It was low to the ground and offered only one window Tortilla Woman could look into. Breath quickening, she hurried towards the house; the idea of seeing the child excited her. In a rush she moved past the well, the tortillas still bundled in her arms.

“Hey!” She cried out when someone reached out for her. As she fell, the bundle dropped to the ground. “Those are mine!” she said as the man scooped up the tortillas.

Hungry, he ate one.  “I am sorry… I haven’t eaten in a while. Mmmm,” he praised the taste. He had never before eaten such delicious tortillas. “They are sun-filled,” he said with a smile.

“Give them back, they are for the child,” she demanded of the stranger whose gently wrinkled skin was like hers.

“Your child?” And then, before Tortilla Woman could answer, the man handed the tortillas back to her. “Forgive me, senora. I’m a foolish, selfish man. But it has been days since I last ate and much longer than that since I’ve tasted anything as wonderful as this. How can I repay you for what I have eaten? Perhaps the child will need...”

“No, put your money away. My tortillas are free.” They were a gift. No one was supposed to charge for or pay for them other than trade. That’s always the way it had been. “Excuse me, please. I must be on my way now. The girl is…”

“Let me at least walk you to where you are going,” he offered as she raised one arm to point to where the child lived. Tortilla Woman nodded her head. Yes, she would let him walk with her. And there were still tortillas left, enough for the child.

“I am Santiago,” His handsome face could be seen in the darkness.

“I live in the desert,” Tortilla Woman offered little else about herself. She’d never seen this man before. Was he to be trusted?

Outside the young mother’s house, Tortilla Woman thanked Santiago for having escorted her. Then she turned to peer into the window.

“What are you doing?” The man asked.

Tortilla Woman did not bother to answer. Instead she walked to the window and stood on her toes. Nothing. She saw nothing. The house was empty. No husband, no young mother, no little girl.

“They are gone.” Her face had turned white.

“What? Your child? But this is my house and I live alone.” The man, beginning to feel the sweet tortilla’s power, rushed to her side. He reached out for her shoulders, wanting to draw her close to him. “Let me help you find your child,” he peered into her face.

“She is not mine, she belongs to the woman who lived here,” Tortilla Woman stepped out of the man’s embrace. She searched Santiago’s face for a clue.

“They moved back to the pueblo of her husband’s family and gave me this place,” he gently explained. “His mother was dying…” Santiago watched as Tortilla Woman headed back to the desert.

The next morning when she came again to the desert’s edge hoping to see the young mother and child, he was there waiting. Through tears she could not hold back she listened as he asked permission to see her from time to time. She said nothing. Instead she baked a small tortilla to repair the crack she now had in her own heart.

Over time, she found herself enjoying visits with Santiago whose deep brown eyes reminded her of roasted cacao beans before they were ground into paste for chocolate. She liked to hear him talk about his life.

“Where I come from, along the coast, there are people everywhere. Each morning, the marketplace chatter spreads across town. Fish sellers and basket weavers compete to see who can yell the loudest. And there are always people arriving in boats from other lands.” Santiago would talk for hours.

“Buy why did you leave?” Tortilla Woman asked many questions; she liked the sound of his voice.

“I had to,” he stopped talking to look away as though there was something in the distance that captured his attention. “My wife’s father had been dragged down to his death by the ocean’s salty hands. She threw herself into those same waters in order to find him. That place was no longer my home.”

Grief stricken, he had come looking for a family of women who could cure a broken heart. He’d been told to look towards the desert. “I still have not found those women, but I have found you and already my heart grows stronger.”

Tortilla Woman glanced away as he spoke. She did not want him to see her staring at his firm brown face, his deep-set dark eyes.

“Have you ever heard of these women?” Santiago got to his feet. Looking past the square line of his broad shoulders, Tortilla Woman shook her head. “They are all gone now, except for one and she rarely comes out of the desert.”

 “It doesn’t really matter. I find I am happy here. As long as I can see you…” He stepped out in front of Tortilla Woman.

“Yes, well, I must go now to grind more corn,” the words quickly hid her blush.

“Wait! Won’t you let me help?” Santiago called after her. Watching her walk away, he smiled. He knew she would appear again like the delicate cacti blooms that would in time fully reveal themselves.

RECIPES
Red Pepper Sugar
2 handfuls of sugar
2 pinches of dried red chili peppers
Tortillas quartered and fried.
Mix sugar and peppers in a bowl. Sprinkle the mix over the tortillas while they are still warm.

FOODLORE

Chili Peppers
Chili peppers originated in the Americas. There is archaeological evidence at sites located in southwestern Ecuador showing that chili peppers were domesticated more than 6000 years ago. Following the arrival of Columbus, chili
peppers spread around the world as both food and medicine.

Here are some of ways different cultures use chili peppers:

Paprikash from Hungary: uses significant amounts of mild, ground, dried chilies, (paprika) in a braised chicken dish

Mole poblano from Mexico: uses several varieties of dried chilies, nuts, spices, and fruits to produce a thick, dark poultry/meat sauce

Puttanesca sauce from Italy: a tomato-based sauce for pasta that includes dried hot chilies