Search Results for: Petrea Burchard

Micro fiction: Rupert’s Snapping Turtle by Petrea Burchard

“I didn’t do anything, officer.”

“Maybe you should have, ma’am.”

The officer stomped out to the porch to wait for the coroner, walking right past Rupert’s crumpled body on the rug. Contaminating the scene of the crime, I think they call it.

But there was no crime.

Rupert always said I was slow. I didn’t make dinner fast enough, didn’t pour his beer quickly enough. He even said I was a slow learner. He called me “Tortoise.” It wasn’t an endearment.

Sure enough, when he keeled over I was slow to get to the phone. You were right, Rupert.

© Copyright 2016 Petrea Burchard. All rights reserved.
• • • • •
Petrea Burchard enjoyed a 30-year acting career before morphing into a writer. She is the author of the novel, Camelot & Vine, as well as Act As If: Stumbling Through Hollywood With Headshot in Hand, essays about the life of a journeyman actor in Hollywood. She gained a following in the anime world as the original English voice of Ryoko, the sexy space pirate in the cult classic, Tenchi Muyo!, and continues to work in the voice-over field.

Micro fiction: Horace Parker’s Mind by Petrea Burchard

Horace Parker had known he would lose his mind one day, he just hadn’t thought he would lose it in the back yard.

“I had it only a moment ago,” he thought. “It must have bounced.” Then he forgot what “it” was.

He was on his knees, weeding among the tomatoes, when he felt it fall, like so many feathers brushing past his ears. His reaction time was quick; he reached out his garden-gloved fingers to catch it in mid-air. But when he opened his palm he found not one, single feather. Only tomato leaves, shriveled and brown.

© Copyright 2016 Petrea Burchard. All rights reserved.
• • • • •
Petrea Burchard enjoyed a 30-year acting career before morphing into a writer. She is the author of the novel, Camelot & Vine, as well as Act As If: Stumbling Through Hollywood With Headshot in Hand, essays about the life of a journeyman actor in Hollywood. She gained a following in the anime world as the original English voice of Ryoko, the sexy space pirate in the cult classic, Tenchi Muyo!, and continues to work in the voice-over field.

#61 Rooms by Petrea Burchard

Randolph has his pompous, executive job and his overweight, red-faced golf buddies and I have our big, old, Pasadena Craftsman house–or I would, if Randolph would let me do things my way. Except he can’t. Says we have to make “these decisions” together. Says I’m his “little kitten.” Says I’m his “flower.”

So where is he on this fine Saturday morning when I’m ready to get to work? Playing golf.

I thought I’d redecorate the upstairs storage room. I’d paint the walls (light blue, for sky) and add white curtains (diaphanous, for clouds). I’d put my books on the shelves with my treasures, like the little sculpture I made of the dog and the picture I painted of the roses. I’d shop the flea markets for a four-poster bed and paint it white to match the curtains. I might even sleep in it from time to time.

Randolph says we have to remove the drywall and start from scratch. Says we need an architect. An interior designer. He knows people. He’ll call them. “Be patient, kitten.” Once again I wait while Randolph figures out how “we” are going to do “my” project.

I want to do it myself. I want to do something, paint something, fix something, make something!

Screw Randolph.

I find a big claw hammer in the garage and lug it upstairs and down the hall. I take the hammer to the drywall and pound, cracking the wall and making a hole big enough for my hands. I grab and, with a satisfying yank, pull down a big sheet of drywall. The crash sends white dust flying over the room. It snows on boxes of whatever we’ve stored here that we haven’t looked at in years. When the dust settles, I see what’s behind the wall: fake wood paneling.

Yuck. Hideous stuff. Maybe a 60’s remodel. I should have left the drywall.

Frustrated, I slap my palm against the paneling, leaving a dusty, white handprint. The wall opens, or rather, a door opens, just a crack. I see candlelight.

Wait. This room is above the back yard. There’s nothing beyond these walls but a 20-foot drop into the vegetable patch.

I push the door open and see, not carrots and tomatoes, but a ballroom. I test the polished, hardwood floor with my tennis shoe. The floor holds my weight. I step in. The door closes behind me without making a sound. Across the length of the grand room, the floor, shiny as an antique gymnasium, reflects the candlelit chandeliers above. Gilded chairs stand ready against the silk-lined walls.

I’m alone. I hear but don’t see an orchestra, so I glide to the other end of the room and step through a door.

The door leads to a hallway. Along it are more doors, all open, all inviting. Warm light glows at each distant end. Voices and laughter mingle with the music, coming from somewhere.

I enter a small drawing room with a fireplace as tall as I am. No one’s there. The fire crackles. I take a seat in the leather armchair. A glass of wine waits on the lacquered table beside a well-worn copy of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. I wonder if I should drink the wine. I reach for the goblet and sip. Yes, the wine is for me.

I don’t pick up the book. I’d like to find the people, and curiosity leads me to light flooding in from an open doorway on the other side of the room.

Taking my wine, I enter an atelier—an artist’s studio flooded with sunlight. A canvas faces away from me on the easel. I go to the bright window and look out over the rooftops of Paris.

I remind myself to breathe.

I turn to see what’s on the easel. It’s a portrait of me. I recognize the painter. I put down my goblet and take up my brush.

The orchestra stops.

“Kitten? Are you upstairs?”

My heart whams against my chest. I slam the brush down and run out of the atelier. The room I enter is not the drawing room. It’s a kitchen with stone walls. The heavenly smell of fresh bread slows me down, but I mustn’t stop. I dash to the next door.

I think I’m going the right direction but this isn’t the ballroom. It’s a dusty library, its shelves sagging with leather tomes. I want to stop and peruse each one.

Randolph’s footfalls clomp up the stairs, coming nearer. I must be close to the door in the paneling. I throw myself against the one door I see and stumble through it, returning to the guest room just as Randolph enters.

I’m a little out of breath.

Randolph surveys the drifts of drywall dust. He frowns, moving the white tuft on his golfer-tanned forehead. “Honey,” he scolds, “I’ve told you not to take on these projects yourself. This is the kind of thing we should do together.”

But you weren’t here, I think. I don’t say anything.

He looks past me at the wall. There’s no sign of an opening in the paneling. My handprint is still there to remind me where to whack.

“Wood paneling,” says Randolph. “Nice. Shall we keep it?”

“Yes,” I say. “I love it.”

© Copyright 2011 Petrea Burchard. All rights reserved.


petrea-burchardPetrea Burchard enjoyed a 30-year acting career before morphing into a writer. She is the author of the novel, Camelot & Vine, as well as Act As If: Stumbling Through Hollywood With Headshot in Hand, essays about the life of a journeyman actor in Hollywood.
She gained a following in the anime world as the original English voice of Ryoko, the sexy space pirate in the cult classic, Tenchi Muyo!, and continues to work in the voice-over field.

#8 Belinda’s Birthday by Petrea Burchard

Damn hot flashes.

Belinda Marvel rolled over onto the empty Cheetos bag, blowing orange dust in her face. Her pajama pants pinched at the waist. Her stomach growled.

She allowed her sock feet to flop to the floor. The motion propelled her to sit up. On the silent TV screen a skinny girl sat crying and eating take-out on the bed in a hotel room, in a rerun of a reality show. Belinda smacked the remote. The screen went black.

Crumbs in the cookie package on the coffee table would not suffice. Belinda heaved herself to her feet and slogged off in search of food.

At first she hadn’t been able to do even that much. Rising from the couch meant confronting the swelling pile of mail under the front door slot. She hadn’t opened a single envelope. Now, after six weeks, the heap of sympathy cards and legal-sized envelopes had stopped growing. Belinda had become accustomed to it, as if it were a batch of mending she’d get to one of these days.

She rarely went down the bedroom hall except to use the bathroom. She preferred to sleep on the couch with its crowding bolsters rather than face the king-sized bed alone.

The dining room had its obstacles, too, namely the pyramid of birthday gifts gathering dust on the table. Belinda scurried through the curtained room, jiggling her new fat, avoiding the sight of the packages. She didn’t want to know what he’d meant to give her for her fiftieth birthday.

The kitchen cabinets gaped. Why bother to close them when you’re just going to open them again?

She’d started with the vegetables and fruits from her last trip to the Farmers’ Market. She had once dreamt of a garden of her own in the back yard. Organic whole foods, that was her.

He was Cheetos and cookies. He adored sugar-coated cereals and salty chips. High calorie, high fat, high bad, that was him. She had begged him to change his eating habits. She had worried about his heart. He was over fifty. He had to take care of himself.

The perishables were gone by the end of the first week. Then she’d tucked into the canned goods: first peaches, mandarin oranges, kidney beans and organic diced tomatoes. Then the refried beans, canned chili, spaghetti and tamales. He’d stocked up to prepare for disaster, not knowing what form it might take.

He’d gone early on her birthday morning to a bakery in Eagle Rock to surprise her with her favorite flourless cake. A drunk driver had hit his car head-on in the middle of the Colorado Street Bridge. He hadn’t been wearing his seat belt because it was too tight. It wouldn’t have mattered.

Two lean, healthy Pasadena Police officers had come to the door, hanging their heads and bearing his belongings, including the bag of pastries he’d bought. As soon as they left she had eaten it all, even the frosted long johns.

Belinda kicked aside empty cans, their gaping throats crusted and molding. She tore through a lower cabinet, tossing away a sack of dry lentils. One last jumbo bag of barbecue flavored potato chips was hiding there. Belinda plopped to the floor, ripped open the bag and stuffed a handful of chips into her mouth, then another. She couldn’t eat them fast enough. Little bits broke off and tumbled down the front of her pajama top. She picked them up and ate them, too. She stuffed herself with handful after handful.

Finally she licked a finger and wiped it along the inside of the bottom of the bag. Red barbecue seasonings covered her pajama top and chin.

Her stomach roared. It wasn’t enough.

A long, low moan erupted from her, but not from her stomach.

Sobs hit like hunger pangs. She was insatiable. Between wails she gasped the fetid kitchen air. Air gave power to sobs of rage.

“I won’t go out!”

“How could you get so fat?”

“How could I get so fat?”

“God damn drunk driver!”

Belinda grabbed the sack of lentils and threw it against the wall. For a few seconds, it rained lentils in the kitchen.

Belinda sat. She shook the beans from her gray-brown curls. Grasping the countertop with pudgy fingers, she pulled herself up with a grunt. She waddled to the sink, splashed cool water on her face and dried herself with a kitchen towel. The towel came away red with barbecue seasonings.

She blew her nose on a paper napkin. The trash can was spilling over. It stank. She found a grocery bag in the cabinet and put the napkin in it. She added the potato chip bag.

Belinda stood still for a minute.

Bracing herself on the countertop, she shuffled through the debris to the dining room. The presents on the table were wrapped in bright colors. He was creative. He was generous. He had liked birthdays. There were a dozen packages, all sizes and shapes. She couldn’t open them all today.

Her finger stroked the topmost gift, a chartreuse envelope addressed to “Beautiful Belinda, garden of my heart.” Belinda smiled. Not much of a poet. Another hot flash came with its immediate, internal combustion.

The envelope rattled like maracas. She slid a dirty fingernail under the seal.

Inside were seed packets: tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce.

Belinda gasped. She clutched the packets to her chest. Her heart pounded.

She ran to the kitchen, kicking a path through the lentils to the back door. With shaking fingers she turned the deadbolt. Her heart whammed. She squeezed the seed packets to her lips and opened the door.

The sun rushed in with its cacophony of birdsong and fresh air. A lawnmower next door kicked up scents of cut grass, wet dirt and salvation. A fly buzzed past, a butterfly flitted through blossoms on the orange tree, a dog barked several yards away.

Grateful for the gift, Belinda breathed. In and out, in and out, in and out.

© Copyright 2009 Petrea Burchard All rights reserved.


petrea-burchardPetrea Burchard enjoyed a 30-year acting career before morphing into a writer. She is the author of the novel, Camelot & Vine, as well as Act As If: Stumbling Through Hollywood With Headshot in Hand, essays about the life of a journeyman actor in Hollywood.

She gained a following in the anime world as the original English voice of Ryoko, the sexy space pirate in the cult classic, Tenchi Muyo!, and continues to work in the voice-over field.

News flash: fiction is fiction by John Sandel

John Sandel
Tara Samuel and John Sandel, co-founders of the Script Kitchen. (Photo by Petrea Burchard.)

The Rose City Sisters welcomes guest contributor John Sandel. He and Tara Samuel are the co-founders of the Script Kitchen, a small class devoted to helping writers develop stories.

John wrote features for a living, starting in 1996, for clients like the producers of Revenge of the Nerds, Tom & Viv and Arlington Road. Since the writers’ strike of 2007, he’s produced and directed small projects, including his own. He serves on the board of We Make Movies as Director of New Business. Now, on to the guest post! Continue Reading

Books by our contributors

If you like what our contributors can do with 1,000 words, you’ll love their longer works!

cover-camelot Camelot & Vine by Petrea Burchard
On the eve of her 40th birthday, a failing Hollywood actress loses everything she never cared about, falls through a gap in time, and accidentally saves King Arthur’s life.

What Happens to Us by David Groves
An NSA employee with access to warrantless surveillance has an obsession with a young San Francisco woman. As the novel opens, he attempts to kill her and she gets away. The police don’t believe her, since she is a recovering alcoholic who has given them trouble in the past. Thus begins a breathless chase across the country and off the grid. Read an excerpt. 

Ice Pick by Donnie Dale
A Los Angeles noir love story, circa 1938.

Beauty Has Her Way  by Ann Wilkes
Heroines doing bad things…in the name of good.

The Goddess Lounge by Margaret Finnegan
Love, motherhood, a lot of dogs, an ocean of traffic, and just a little divine intervention.

Human Cargo by Désiree Zamorano
Inez Leon is a skilled private investigator with a tortilla chip on her shoulder.

The Redheaded Stepchild by Kelly I. Hitchcock
An archetype of life in small-town America and a testament that the broken family is the new whole family, these short stories show how the unwanted stepchild can be a everyday hero.

Torn: True Stories of Modern Motherhood edited by Samantha Parent Walravens
Torn captures the voices of a generation of women caught in the crossfire of kids, career and family life. In a series of heartfelt and often laugh-out-loud essays, the book exposes the dirty truths of motherhood and the inevitable crises that life brings: battles with cancer, lost jobs and broken marriages, unplanned pregnancies and the heartbreak of infertility, and lots of “bad mommy” moments. Contributor Windi Padia contributed her essay “When I Sneeze I Pee a Little: Notes on Momhood.”

Congratulations Margaret Finnegan!


The Rose City Sisters 2009 “Story of the Year” is “Sweet Revenge” by Margaret Finnegan. Her story is a darkly comic cautionary tale about a man who eats the last piece of cake.

More than two dozen contributors were eligible to vote for their favorite of the seven finalist stories. The votes were tallied on Monday, January 25.

Margaret will get a certificate (suitable for posting on the refrigerator where slices of cake are sometimes stored) and a rose quartz-and-pearl necklace and earrings designed by Jill Pearson for Wasabi, a Pasadena-based jewelry company.

To learn more about Margaret, visit her website or read her blog, Finnegan Begin Again.

Congratulations to all the finalists:

Belinda’s Birthday by Petrea Burchard

Downsized by Janet Aird

Get Gone by Cindie Geddes

Glorietta and Red Bob Come to Terms by Laura L Mays Hoopes

A Losing Game by Bonnie Schroeder

Quicky by Desireé Zamorano

(Okay, fun’s over. Please submit more stories.)

Announcing the 2009 Story of the Year finalists

When I announced the competition in early December, Rose City Sisters contributors leaped into action and started sending readers to their their stories. Nearly 700 new visitors stopped by for a flash fiction fix in the last 30 days. Wow.

Today I used Goggle Analytics to determine the most popular seven stories of 2009. In the next few weeks, all 2009 contributors will have the chance to vote for the story of the year.

This combination of marketing and merit reflects a real-world scenario facing writers today. Writing isn’t enough—you need to promote your work as well.

The winner will receive a hand-knotted pearl and rose quartz necklace (with matching earrings) from Wasabi by Jill Pearson, a fine jewelry company based in Pasadena. The donation from Wasabi is much appreciated and far prettier than the certificate I had planned!

In alphabetical order, the finalists are:

Belinda’s Birthday by Petrea Burchard

Downsized by Janet Aird

Get Gone by Cindie Geddes

Glorietta and Red Bob Come to Terms by Laura L Mays Hoopes

A Losing Game by Bonnie Schroeder

Quicky by Desireé Zamorano

Sweet Revenge by Margaret Finnegan

The first story of 2010 will be posted on Friday, January 8. Please subscribe to the blog or become a follower to make sure you don’t miss any of the stories.