A peek at ‘Everything That Counts’


The air smelled like salt, a cool breeze washed over my face, the moon glittered on the water.  I couldn’t wait to leave Maryland, after eighteen years of drudgery, opportunity hovered on the horizon.  Yet, I’d always miss the water.
We sat on the warped wooden bench looking out onto the Magothy River.  Sophie at my side, scraped the bottom of her cup, then tossed it to the trash can.  She missed by a yard.
I laughed.  “I don’t know why you try anymore.”
“Because, one day I’ll get it.”  She walked over to the remnants of deliciousness and placed it into the receptacle.

Favorite lines according to writer’s group


He had never been able to describe the way the words jumped off the page and neatly filed themselves in his brain.  Each sentence correlated to another in a different place making a web of information that he sifted through with ease.  Able to find a pattern of similarities in everything from a map to music notes on a page.  The environment that surrounded him as he read would also be intertwined with the sentences.  So, for the rest of his life a group of rabbits would be associated with bubblegum, nicotine, and Samantha’s steady breathing.  



by Melissa Diane Algood

The neon-orange glow at the tip of the joint was all that existed.

“Get back in here, Jason!” Aaron yelled. “It’s the best part of the movie! Ya know, where the baby is crawling on the ceiling!”

“You’re a sick fuck. This isn’t the best part of the movie.”

“This isn’t film theory, Lizzie.” Aaron inhaled deeply, the fire on the tip of his fingers burned so bright she could see the outline of his chiseled jaw.  

He brushed his long blond hair out of his eyes, and passed the joint to Lizzie. As she came down, she didn’t fall flat on her face, but drifted like a feather to the bottom of the valley.

“Ugh! We’re out of beer!” Maya pulled away from Jason just long enough to call from the kitchen.

“Wanna go for a ride, baby?” Aaron arched an eyebrow at Lizzie, dark eyes shining.

Jason’s dad had a black BMW, perfect for an evening jaunt; so they all loaded up and headed out. Lizzie didn’t know anything about cars, but this one had heated leather seats and a badass speaker system. Every thump of the bass line hit her like a hammer. So she closed her eyes and let the night wash over her, as she smoked her cigarette attempting to avoid barfing. Needless to say, this car was a vast improvement over Aaron’s junker. He’d wrapped that old tin can around a light pole last winter.

“Hey, aren’t the Miller’s in Sedona for the weekend?” Maya piped up from the backseat, like always tangled in Jason’s grip.

Aaron made a sharp left toward the house, swerving onto the curb, and hit a stop sign. The pole skimmed the side of the car.  They all yelled at once, and then they giggled.  At last, they parked next to the brightly colored house.

Aaron used the bobby pin from Lizzie’s hair to pop the lock. The four of them stumbled into the house. Maya danced around the entryway, spinning Lizzie with her. The boys went to the fridge in the garage, where they knew the beer would be.

“The – Miller’s – Have – A – Pool!” Lizzie stressed every word to Maya. The girls stopped spinning and ran toward the backyard with squeals of glee.

They tumbled out of their clothing, leaving on only their bras and panties. Maya dove into the pool like an Olympian. Even faced out as she was, Maya still had the grace of a ballerina. When Lizzie dove, every molecule of water kissed her skin, every ripple felt as if she’d been taken out to sea. It seemed as if it took years for her to touch the bottom and pop back up laughing. Aaron and Jason rushed to the edge and began taking off their shoes, shirts, and pants.

“Mind if we join?” Jason asked the girls, right before cannon balling into the pool.

Drops of water shot up into the sky, a prism that glittered in the moonlight, enchanting Lizzie. The four of them floated on their backs, looking up to an unending ocean of stars.

“This water feels so…cooool,” Jason whispered.

“Yeah! Beautiful.” Lizzie heard her voice say, but couldn’t feel her lips move.

Maya swam toward Jason. They melted into each other. Lizzie remembered the last time she was in this house. She paddled over to Aaron.

“Come on. I wanna show you something.”

Somehow she was able to coax him out of the water. Maybe he eagerly followed her upstairs because she sucked on his index finger. The room was exactly as she remembered from when Mr. Miller, her coach, brought her here after practice. Midnight black silk sheets, red walls, and the massive headboard.

Lizzie couldn’t stop to analyze the last time she was there. Every nerve in her body ached for the safety of Aaron. All she knew was his tongue running along her collarbone, melting her like butter. He picked her up. She wrapped her legs around his toned frame and let herself fall into the feather bed. Every touch of his lips on her skin was like an explosion.

In her sixteen years, she had no better way to explain it other than, awesome. It felt like hours that they spent tangled in those sheets, which the housekeeper had so impeccably tucked into the king size bed. When Lizzie looked at the clock, it had only been ten minutes.

“Hey bitch!” Lizzie heard the roar. “Gabby just texted me about a rave! It’s in an abandoned house on 4th.  Stop fucking and get down here!” Maya’s voice echoed in the house.

Lizzie and Aaron redressed once they got back to the pool, where they had left their clothes. Before leaving, they raided the fridge, pantry, and medicine cabinet. Everyone hopped into the newly stolen Jaguar, and drove into the night, leaving behind the banged up Beemer.

Through the window, Lizzie saw neon flashing lights arrayed against a black canvas sky. That night, in the cold Arizona desert, there was house music, drugs, and a horde of teenagers crammed inside of a condemned-looking house.

Lizzie took another dose of medicine with the rest of them and sped up. If there was a door, none of them knocked on it. Each of them became an integral part of the mass. Even though it was chilly, Lizzie burned, as she ran her hands over Aaron’s body. She didn’t just feel the music; she became the drumbeat, bass line, and guitar chord. Every drop of perspiration, flicker of light, and body movement was absorbed by Lizzie and expelled back into the group through her dancing. When she opened her eyes, sweat dripped down Aaron’s forehead. His eyes were dry and bloodshot.

“Hey, let’s go to the chill-out room,” She suggested, pulling him close.

Lizzie directed Aaron down the hallway to the first door on the left, along with a few wayward youths. She did feel herself turn the door handle and gasp when she opened it. The entire room was soft, soundproofed, and blue.

It was long and narrow. The floor, covered in navy beanbag chairs, glowed under the black light. On the far side, across from Lizzie, Breaking Bad was projected onto the wall. Aaron and Lizzie weaved their way to a set of empty seats, each falling down into the most comfortable spot ever.

To her left was a couple making out. On her right another fucked against the wall. But most of the inhabitants were completely entranced with the moving images in front of them. Maya and Jason cuddled, closer to the screen.

No one acknowledged Aaron or Lizzie, even though they were hyper aware from the drugs. The tiny beads that they sat on, the padded walls, the shades of blue that bathed them, and the tenor of television all soaked into Lizzie’s consciousness. The space engulfed her senses. They were all so in tune, that right on cue, the whole gathering shouted along with Jesse Pinkman, “Magnets, Bitches!”

All the lights and sounds in the sapphire abyss were calm, until Jason’s nose started bleeding.

“Damn, I feel weird,” Jason whispered.

His eyes rolled to the back of his head. Maya, along with the rest of the room, were oblivious as the black light magnified the lines of red dripping from his dark eyes. His gasps blended with vibrations emanating from throughout the building.

“Hey look! Jason’s dancing!” A classmate pointed to Jason’s jerking body, writhing on the floor.

The group pounded their feet and clapped their hands in time with his frantic movements; until he went still. His blank face covered in blood, held no interest for them, so they turned their gaze back to the closest sparkling object.

“I wanna dance!” Maya jumped up, spun, and pulled Lizzie up from her seat.

The boys stayed behind.

What was once a kitchen and dining room had been transformed by spray paint and black lights. The DJ mixed Lana Del Rey and M.I.A., which pleased Lizzie as she was absorbed into the faction. She and Maya mirrored each other’s movements. Their groins rocked, fists pumped, hips rotated, and they shook their heads so that their hair cascaded around them. The room screamed with glee.

Suddenly Maya pulled Lizzie close, brushed a lock of hair from her face, and kissed her. Maya was soft, and tasted like a lollipop; too sweet. Lizzie tried to pull away, but Maya’s arms wrapped tight around her, like a vine. Lizzie felt Maya run her hands over her back, ass, and breasts.

Lizzie wanted to forget, get lost, so they became one in time with the bass. It might have been moments, or hours, until she felt the crowd shove her, finally breaking her from Maya. Lizzie didn’t hear the sirens, or know where the boys were. All she knew was the bright bubblegum pink lips in front of her.

“Run!” Lizzie heard Aaron scream beside her.

Aaron’s long slender tattooed arm yanked her out of the room, through a hallway, and into the still Arizona night. She blindly followed him, but Jason wasn’t with them. For a moment, Lizzie remembered seeing his body go limp on that floor. Then half the basketball team rushed past them. Lizzie giggled as the teenagers ran away, like a hive that lost their queen. Every time her sneakers pounded the pavement she felt the reverberation throughout her body. It shot like sparks into the starry sky. They ran for blocks, or miles, for what seemed like forever.

They were free.

More favorites from ‘Clear’


“Like you’ve never killed anyone before.  George would have never brought you to Erebus if you weren’t a little bloodthirsty.”  She popped her gum.
             “Not when I didn’t have to.”  Matthew said.  He might not follow any specific code of ethics but he didn’t go around murdering people.
             “What a fucking boy scout.”  Samantha rolled her eyes.

Blood on the Potomac by Melissa Diane Algood



  Iʼd been following him for days.  From the coffee shop, to the loading dock where he
worked, or the myriad of whorehouses in the tri-state area he visited.  I was not far.
  Now, I stand outside his row house, two blocks from the metro rail we both rode.  A
faint drizzle made a mist under the streetlight, but there was no sign of me as I stood in
the darkness watching him.  My decade of training made me invisible.
  The only light on in his house came from the television, making his stained undershirt
and overgrown gray facial hair visible.  He lifts up his Underdog Atlantic Lager to his
crusted lips and changes the channel.  A crimson glow washes over him.  A smile
crosses his pock marked face as a childlike, scantily clad, Asian girl stands up from
between his knees.
  I check my watch to verify how long it had been.  She was a trooper, working him for
forty-five minutes.  Maybe heʼd been thinking about his responsibilities and that clouded
his pleasure, since I doubt the whore was at fault.
  He threw a wad of cash at her which she tucks into her neon pink tube top, then
rushes out of the room and down the steps back to whatever dark corner sheʼd been
picked up at.
   Just then my phone lights up.
  “Itʼs time.” A French woman whispers in my ear.
  I turn it off without responding and stroll across the narrow street up the uneven
concrete steps, and rap on the door.  After some grumbling he swung it half open.

  “Who the fuck are you…Oh, shit Sam!”  
  I push the door open, exposing the trash pile he calls a home.  I waltz right past him.  
His eyes narrow, lips purse, as I kick the door closed with my boot, and push him onto
the couch.  He springs up.
  “Bitch this is my house!  What the fuck you doing!”
  “You know why Iʼm here.”  It was a statement, not a question as my body squared with
  “Oh shit.”  He wiped his brow.  “Iʼm working on it ya know.  Iʼll get it to her by the end of
the week.  Tell her that, Sam.”
  Iʼm silent as he unravels like a ball of yarn.  Ignoring him I make my way to the kitchen,
opened the oven.
  “Well, look what we have here.”  I whisper, pulling a blue duffel bag out of it.  I smile
once the bag is unzipped.
  “Oh yeah, I was gonna give that to you Sam.  To give to her, ya know?”  His eyes wide
and wet, mouth slightly open.
  I toss the bag by the door, itʼs weight making a loud thump, rattling the windows.  
Startled with the sound, his shoulders hunch as he folds in on himself.  Our eyes lock, a
tear running down his cheek.

  “Enjoy your beer?”
  “Good cuz itʼs your last anything.”

  Once I moved a step closer, his gaze broke away.  He darts like a rabbit toward the
door.  He isnʼt fast enough.
  I ram him in the knee with my boot, the bone pushes out of his calf like a bent
paperclip.  Yanking him up by his greasy hair, head bent backward forcing him to look
up at me, head bent backwards.  I love to watch them cry.

  “Be sure to tell the devil that Sam sent ya.”  I cackle.

  The butterfly knife flips open.  I run it across his sweaty throat.  His eyes dilate, a river
of blood flowed down his chest.  With a gurgle, he was gone and this job was done.  
Drop him to the floor, the thud reverberates throughout the room. I dodge the pool of
blood before it reaches my boots.  Didnʼt want to have to scrub them again.  Snatched
the bag, my primary mission, and stroll out the door to the Metro.
  I exit at Metro Center, surrounded by thousands of strangers rushing home.  Walk to
the third bench on the right.  Sit, legs crossed, and wait precisely six minutes.
   Her bright blonde hair is in a high ponytail, mobile phone attached to her ear, a map
unfolded in front of her, she sits next to me and places a large blue duffel bag at her
feet, right next to the identical one Iʼd set on the tarnished concrete ground.  Avril
ignores me.  She speaks French loudly into her phone, a perfectly manicured index
finger traces the maze of the D.C. subway system.   When the blue line pulls up I
reached for the clone bag and made my way to Foggy Bottom.  
  I tear Samʼs bloody rags off my body, then promptly toss them in a dumpster.  Pull on
Jessicaʼs clothes and feel as if Iʼve been born anew.  Light a match, throw it into the
heap of trash, a tornado of ash swirls around me.   The smell of the worn leather and
pack of smokes brings me back to the last time Jessica had prowled the night.  I stroll
the three blocks to Joelʼs row house overlooking the Potomac, the blaze of the
dumpster lit my way.

  He opened the door before I knock, the blue glow from the flickering TV hides the bags
under his eyes.
  “Howʼd it go baby?”  Joelʼs hands rest on my hips, drawing me closer to him.
  “You know how it went.”  I whisper in his ear as my hand slides down the front of his
  He unzips my leather studded jacket, and tears off my leggings.  Our clothes become
a pile on the floor as he picks me up by my thighs, and slams me against the wall.  He
moans as I scratch his back, and yank on his long curly hair.  I squeal as he moves
faster and harder inside of me.
  Then itʼs over, but we donʼt bother getting dressed, since weʼd screw all night. My
libido skyrockets after a job.  So for three years Joel has been an outlet for my anger,
desire, and adrenaline.  We never talk about ourselves, but I donʼt mind.  All I care
about are the eight inches in his boxer shorts.
  The sunlight reflects on the river and pours in through Joelʼs blinds.  I light up a
cigarette, still naked, tangled in the cotton king size sheets.  Joel leans over, kissing my
neck, plucking the cigarette from my lips, and inhales.  My jaw clenches.
  “Damn baby, I love it when you work.”  He falls back onto the bed.  I light another
  He grins at me, crushing the cancer stick in the ashtray on the floor, and glides his
tongue down my body.  He continues until my cigarette is ash, I flip him over and get on
top of him.
  “Ah Jess, youʼre the best,”  he moans.
  With a flash the butterfly knife from under my pillow is at his throat.
  “My names is not Jess you stupid fuck.”  I lean in closer to him and hiss.  “My name is
  “What the hell baby, we make sense,”  He whimpers.  A thin ribbon of red drips down
his throat.
  “You donʼt know anything Joel Chapman.  You were born November 20, 1984, in
Annapolis, Maryland.  Youʼre the youngest of three, blood type O, and you lost your
virginity at 23.  Mommyʼs dead, and Daddyʼs a drunk crabber.”
  “H-how do you know that?”  He stutters.  
  “Because Iʼm the fucking boss, and I donʼt fuck anyone until I know everything.”  My lip
curls, “Iʼve used you until you pissed me off, and now youʼve pissed me off.”
  “What did I do Jessica?  Iʼm so sorry!”  Joel pleads.
  I snarl in his ear, the knife pressed against his jugular.  “You never take a ladyʼs
cigarette without asking asshole.”  
  With a flick of wrist his eyes go dead, and with it every trace of the past three years,
isnʼt safe to have gotten so close.  Jessica would have to rest with him, for now at least.
  I shower and dress, but leave the black knit cap and jacket on the floor.  Wouldnʼt need
her clothes anymore.  After I reach the end of the block, I turn my phone back on and
type in the code.  Joelʼs row house explodes.  
  Debris scatter all over the street, giving the fraternity houses at GW something to look
at on an icy January morning.  I pull out the battery, crush it with my boot, and toss the
phone in the gutter two blocks later.

  Back at the metro station, Avril meets up with me again, her long blonde hair is curled,
and dark rimmed glasses enhance her blue eyes.
  “Itʼs done?”  I ask, turning the page in my book.  
  Emma loves to read, and now that I was going home, Iʼd have to get back to myself.
  “Oui Madame.”  The cell phone is still glued to her ear.
  Avril sets a creme colored suitcase in between our crossed legs.  Our exchange is lost
amongst the drones of Capitol Hill winding through a maze of dark underground tunnels.

  The metro line pulls up, takes me to Reagan National.  Once there, I dig the key out of
the suitcase and open locker 815.  In the bathroom, I change into a pencil skirt, shirt,
and black heels.  Threading the seven carat canary yellow diamond on my finger, I
complete the transition to Emma.  
  Leaving the bathroom, Coach bag slung over my shoulder, I place the key into the
oversize locket that hangs from my neck, and walk out into the frozen gray day.
  “Hey sexy, need a ride?”  Brad calls out the window of our white SUV.
  “Donʼt mind if I do.”  A sly grin crosses my face.
  Brad takes his keys out of the ignition, runs up to me, and spins me around like a
ballerina.  Our lips meet, tongues tousling, and I take him all in.  We brake apart and
jump into the car.
  “I missed you so much, Emma.”  He laces his fingers with mine and our eyes meet.  
“So how was the Junior League?  Did you raise enough money, honey?”
   Emma giggles, “It was great sweetie.  The silent auction was a big success.  I brought
lots of pictures.”
  “Thatʼs great Emma,” he kisses my hand which remains locked with his.  “I love you so
  “Love you too, Brad.”
  An hour later Brad pulls up to a light blue two story house, complete with bright white
picket fence, and red rose bushes.  We donʼt even bother with my luggage as we raced
upstairs peeling off each others clothes.  We make love all night, until he finally falls
   I sleep fitfully, imagining all the laundry, meatloaf, and book clubs Iʼll be forced to
attend and all that awaits me when the sun rises. It makes me feel like a cog in a wheel.
   Unable to drift off I roll over and watch him breathe.  I think about how I could kill him
right now, just with a snap of his neck.  Yet I wonʼt because Brad is the only thing that
keeps me glued to reality, and that is paramount.  Avril taught me to always have an
anchor, and an escape plan.  
  When I look deep into his eyes and see his purity, knowing that he is the closest to
undying love Iʼll ever experience.  My life with Brad will suffice, I want someone like me,
but there is no one else like me.  So Iʼll go on, each day will melt into the next.
  At least until my phone blinks again.
Blood on the Potomac