Posts Tagged With: dreams

Curled up

Waking on an island, more aptly called a person sized pebble, they feel smooth stone underneath their cheek. Their knees are pulled up under their chin and their strong arms are wrapped protectively around their middle. There is a light without source to illuminate their space and they are grateful. They do not mind being alone, but they would prefer not to be so in the dark.

The dreams and cries of billions make up their roof overhead, a featureless dome of sound and thought. They think at first their dreams are up there too, until they feel them still inside their skull, papery moth wings beating gently against the walls of their cage. They find that they have not yet found the key to releasing those dreams into the wild, letting them fly free, and this they regret, just a little. They know that once those dreams are given the freedom to take flight, to flock within the turbulent masses overhead, that those dreams, their dreams, will be subsumed by the whole, either to take root and sprout their own little daydream babies or to dissipate into the cacophony.

They discern that perhaps the key they have yet to turn is hidden within acceptance, that they will never know the fate of their dreams until they are allowed to roam and explore the corners of their world; that to let dreams outgrow their fishbowl is to allow them to mutate, to give blessing the influence of yet more dreams. They are not quite ready for this yet.

As the dreams beat ever more incessantly, insistently, demandingly, to be given fresh sights to see, they smile quietly and tighten their arms around their middle, pull their knees up just a little bit closer to the chin. They will hold them close, just this little while longer, on this island, alone.

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The Frayed String Snaps

The spotlight turns toward her, aged metal hinges creaking unintentional atmosphere into the performance. Her feet splay in bow-legged display, arms held out to her sides, head bent forward in repentance for an as yet unnamed sin. The audience cannot see the flakes in the rouge spots on her cheeks peeling off, cannot hear the skritch of her wooden joints as the strings, the fraying strings, pull her gently across the stage, a broken doll flung aside in slow motion.

They, the they whose human faces she has never seen except in shadow, work their levers and turn their wheels and make their adjustments with soft grunts and sometimes not so soft curses from behind the heavy curtains, equipment no longer up to snuff for the demands that they make of it.

There she is now, in place at center stage, fully steeped in the spotlight’s beam. She can feel them starting to lift her head, to force her eyes once more into the glare of the floodlights, to make her look out upon an audience who does not understand that she doesn’t want to be their entertainment any longer. They do not see the splinters escaping from under her painted eyelashes, little tears that look like tears; they would only add to the sad ambience of her painted face could anyone see the detail.

She does not want to be on the stage any longer. She had been the pinnacle, not the penultimate, but the zenith at the time of her creation. She was given no direction to go but down. How could every show, then, not be more of a disappointment than the last? The sighs and gasps and applause are a saw blade drawn against violin strings to her psyche, leaving her more and more an empty shell. She does not want to dance any more, having already been forced to reap more than she had ever hoped for simply by catching the eye of someone who thought that they came bearing a gift.

Her middle pulls taut as all the strings are tugged at once, a crescendo of agony behind the rictus of a smile, and they pirouette her across the boards, a blur of ragged beauty through steps that have not been altered in a hundred years. She yearns for silence, she prays for release, even as she drips joy across the horizon of bodies that sit in rapt attention at her stocking feet.

The man whose job it is to tighten all knots and inspect all ropes, to adjust wardrobe and touch up wig, has taken it upon himself to become lackadaisical.

Her weight is being raised from the floor, she is on her tippy toes, they are in the air, and all of her is now suspended in an airborne arabesque, to the delight of the squealers. Her left arm is beginning to droop noticeably lower than the right, her side is canting, and she imagines she hears, layer by layer, the already frayed rope coming apart above her, over the voices of the men as they scramble and over correct.

She begins to jerk a bit, from side to side, corps de ballet de grotesquerie.

An infinite glee comes with the sudden snap. Her prison is collapsing around her and for the first time since she looked out from behind the dead material of the face she had been forced into, she re-awakens to bliss. A broken ragdoll of disjointed bits is all she is now, sprawled in an untidy heap upon a dirty floor, legs and arms akimbo, soul winging up through the rafters and into the ether.

The audience is stunned into silence at this unexpected ending, this abrupt departure from the tawdry bows and curtsies that tend to follow such performances as these, but then shake free and welcome the new and rise to their feet, a hootenanny of hollers and cries for an encore that can never come.

The maestro, the magician, the darkness that had encapsulated her soul, cries quietly behind the scenes as his queen, his triumph, arcs towards the heavens and leaves him, alone, ever more.

*****

So, I was listening to Lindsey Stirling and this story popped up….

Okay, so here’s a crazy thing…the erudite and awesome Suzanne, whose blog I have followed since I first found her through the now defunct Trifecta Writing Challenge (go read her here, both her fiction and non-fiction posts will either have you thinking or laughing or learning, sometimes all at once http://lucidedit.wordpress.com/ ) recently announced that she was launching her own writing challenge DUN DUN DUN here: http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-2-open/ and that got me excited because she attracts other writers as talented as she and I love the word ghoul. I just happened to write this story for the hell of it this morning while I was supposed to be working, and then just now realized that, by adding a single sentence to incorporate the word prompt REAP, that it fits the word and picture prompt.

I’m rambling like a crazy person. I’ll shoot for extra coherence later. No guarantees.

Read, write, love, sleep,
Shannon

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Rowan’s Journal (Part 9)

He waited for an hour; Rolly tried not to be the kind of listener who just waited for their turn to speak, but the longer Rowan had gone on, the more the incredulity had loosened his tongue, til it was flapping about his mouth like a trout out of water and he could barely keep silent.

When Rowan stopped to take a couple deep breaths, Rolly shot his hand up in the air, quick as a pouncing cat. “Wait wait wait,” he said. “Before you go on, and I really want you to and I’m really sorry for interrupting you, but I have to ask you a question.” He took his own couple of deep breaths and glanced at Mara, who was looking at him with bemused encouragement, reaching her hand out to fold over his. “Did you keep a journal? I mean, like, a journal about all this stuff that was happening to you? Did you have your own Dreamer’s Chronicle!” The last question bulleted out like an accusation and Mara’s comforting hand squeezed his tightly in reproof.

Rufus beamed, his tutored pupil got the right answer on a pop quiz, and Rowan frowned at Rolly like an over-taxed older sister. “Jesus, what the hell are you yelling at me for? Yes, I did, in fact, keep a journal about the Nightscape. I was a regular old Martha fucking Stewart about it. If everyone already thought I was crazy, I can’t imagine what they would have thought if they had seen my construction paper nightmare collages.” She snickered at the thought, finding the discomfiture of others highly amusing as a general rule. “It was sort of like I had to. I couldn’t very well walk around with my nightmares running around my brain all day. The weird thing, well, like the eighth weird thing, was that after I would paste the freaky little bastards into my book, I never saw them again in my dreams. I mean, there were still, like, a gazillion monsters every time I had nightmares, but the ones I put in my journal never came back.”

She shrugged, her favorite default gesture. “I’d show it to you and we could all have a giggle down memory lane, but I lost it.” She thought for a moment, worrying her lower lip with her teeth. “Actually, I didn’t lose it, the damn thing disappeared one night.” Her shrug this time resembled more of a shudder. “It was really bad that night. It was, like, a monster council meeting or something. Some of scariest shit I’d ever seen. I’d never seen them look even remotely organized before, and here they were, standing around in a circle, talking to each other. They sure as hell weren’t speaking English, so I couldn’t understand their actual words, but somehow I knew it was about me. They’d noticed me, no matter how much I’d tried to stay hidden, and my nightmares were meeting to discuss me.” Her hollow eyes were aimed at Rolly. “You can understand why this was way more frightening than watching them rip each other to bloody pieces.”

He nodded mutely. Yes, he most certainly could understand that, very well.

“So I bit my tongue and pinched myself and dug my fingernails into my palms until I woke up. I was sweating something fierce, shaking all over, but I was determined to get out of bed and get as many of these dirty bastards pasted into my journal as I could, and hope I could make at least some of them disappear. Disband their council, and they can’t very well plan a war, right? It wasn’t there, though. My journal. I always kept it under my pillow, and it was just…gone. I don’t think I’d ever felt such disappointment as I did at that moment, my groping hand finding nothing but cool sheets. I gave up, I gave up and I gave in, and I cried until I sobbed and sobbed until I choked and choked until I threw up. My only weapon against my nightmares was gone.”

Rowan trailed off and sat back. Mara blinked back the tears pricking her own eyes, seeing the lost child with no hope left to cling to, shaking alone on her bedroom floor.

Rufus made an incongruous throat-clearing sound, and while it didn’t seem like much, Rowan zeroed in with a laser stare. “Oh, for Christ’s sake, Rufus. Did you take my damn journal?”

* * *
I think that this works, at least in part, as a stand-alone bit of a story, however – The Nightscape is the place where our demons and nightmares live. Rowan and Rufus are a part of it, on the outskirts, as no longer quite human. Rolly and Mara are a human couple that were pulled into it with no explanation, thusfar…

The Speakeasy is back in business after their summer hiatus, and I found that I very much wanted to get back in on the fun. This week we had a sentence prompt to use as our first line “He waited for an hour” and a photo reference: school-supplies-300x187

Click the badge and check out the other writers, or become one of the other writers yourself 🙂

Categories: Fiction, The Dreamer's Chronicle | Tags: , , , , , , | 15 Comments

The Dead Can Dream

this is an installment in Mort’s Graveyard Tours. If, perchance, you find it entertaining, feel free to check out the others- just click on the link for ’em over to your left…

Sneed rocked down onto his haunches amidst the roots of Mort’s tree. He quietly watched twilight paint bleeding colors onto the scrim of the horizon; plum blended into smoky grey and patchy pearly leavings of light. He fingered the brim of his hat. “Now, it’s not that we need sleep as such. There’s some as prefer a lie down of an evening anyway.”

Mort was standing at his graveside, studying the pretty calligraphy that spelled out Mortimer Ramsey. He felt thin; the required concentration for holding his particles together in this form was waning.

“Do we dream?” he asked quietly. “Do the dead dream, Sneed?” He found that he felt rather anxious about the answer either way.

Sneed reached up a hand and scratched at the bashed in ruin of his face, fingers mixing right in with the foggy apparition of his skull. “Yeah, sure, sometimes. Ah, it usually takes a while though. You have to, ah, be sort of relaxed into the finality of the whole thing, ya know?” Sneed’s smile was both ghastly and oddly reassuring. “I don’t think you’ll drop deep enough just yet.”

Mort crossed one foot in front of the other and sank onto the freshly turned earth mounded over his grave. He skimmed his palms across the grass to either side, imagined that he felt the tickle and bend of individual blades against skin that no longer breathed. He looked up. “I feel like I’m trying to have a séance with myself.” His grin was real, but tired. “It feels like it’s all a dream now anyway. But I’d rather rest without them tonight, I think.”

Sneed’s where-his-heart-would-be twinged as the grin faded from Mort’s face. “Then you will,” he said. He clapped his hands together, a disconcerting sight without the expected accompaniment of sound, and his tone slid from jovial to gentle. “Just rest up now, boy. It’s sorry I am to have met you here and now, but I’m glad of it all the same.” The bowlegged man bandied his way over to his carriage and climbed in. With a noise that sounded half chuckle and half cluck he sent his horse trotting away, around a bend and gone, leaving Mort alone.

Leaving Mort, he thought, mortally alone. He sighed. He was well and truly as alone as it was ever likely possible to be. A phantom burning rose where his tear ducts used to be, and he pushed phantom fingers into his phantom face to make it stop. It was like a cousin to grief, once removed – he felt that he was sad, but he didn’t feel sad. He decided to lay his head down and curl up under his tree, holding tight to Sneed’s memory and hope for tomorrow. A leaf fell, slowly drifting down and through his cheek to the ground beneath, a good night kiss. Comforted, he slept.

*****

The dream wasn’t so much a dream as a memory. A gift straight from Father Time, who remembered past present and future like they had already happened somewhere within infinity. A present of the past, if you’d like a bit of cleverness.

Mort sat at his dining room table, in his customary chair, across from his mother and to his father’s right. “He’s called you his right hand man since the day you were born, you know,” Patty Ramsey used to say to Mort, brushing his hair behind his ears before kissing his cheeks good night.

Dream Mort’s feet dangled above the hardwood floor, and he guessed that he was about six. “Dad,” he said. “Hi!”

His dad laughed. “Hi yourself, weirdo. How was soccer practice today?” He steepled his fingers under his chin and opened his eyes wide to stare at his son. The fingers waggled. “Was MA-deline there?” he asked with exaggerated interest.

Mort’s grin widened. “Yup,” he confirmed. “She ran down the field faster than anyone, and then when she got the ball guess what she did? Guess, Dad!” Without waiting for an answer he rushed on. “She passed it to ME and I got to score the goal!”

“Well, no kidding? So when’s the wedding?”

Mort threw a pea at him. “That’s not funny,” he said seriously, and then burst into an embarrassed fit of giggles. “Shut up.”

Throughout the encounter, Milly sat, quietly eating and smiling, listening and watching. These were some of her favorite moments; the byplay between her two strange and wonderful guys, good food at a comfortable table. Flying peas. At times like this she was more than happy to remain an observer, grateful to have been given admittance to this club that was her family. She kissed Mort on the top of the head as she walked behind him into the kitchen to refill her water glass.

*****

The ghost of Mortimer Ramsey opened his eyes.

Categories: Fiction, Mort's Graveyard Tales | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Not Enough Me

Storch-Badge-MasterA story for Master Class that is more disjointed than usual…

****

“But it’s not enough,” I whisper. My fingers twist together, twining and untwining like restless snakes, held before my heart. I feel its thud, too heavy, squeezing in all the beats skipped in the past; it is a pulse point the size of a planet.

“When the dreamer wakes, the dream is not done it is undone. That’s all I remember.”

His watery blue shrink eyes try to bore over the tips of studiously steepled hands held in front of his chin but fail to hit their mark. It is a look that speaks of being practiced in a mirror: this should be your super serious face.

I arch an eyebrow back at him, a look that I freely admit to having practiced in a mirror. Silence does not make me feel awkward or prone to chatter. Silence is my default setting. I’d often wished that I had a mind with a criminal bent, simply to test my demeanor against their interrogation. There’s still some time, I suppose.

After a pointless minute of this strange stare off, he clears his throat and adjusts his bony ass on the leather chair with a whisking sound that makes me flinch. Wings, silky wings and gossamer wings and broken dirty and decaying wings, beating around my face, floating my hair in a nimbus of static. I flinch and stand abruptly.

“I’m going to leave now,” I begin, holding up my hand when he makes as if to speak. “This isn’t a break up, there’s no give and take, so please just shhh.” I hadn’t brought anything up here with me and I head for the door unhindered, unencumbered. I don’t want to tell this man anymore about my dream.

As I close the door behind me I hear him start to speak. “Well, what the fuck…” The door clicks, coolness and blessed silence on the other side, finally alone, finally enough oxygen so I do not have to share my deep breath.

Down to the sidewalk, cross the street, my car barely squeaked in before a No Parking sign standing sentry of nothing but an expanse of concrete curb. I tilt my head up, let the afternoon sun beat a staccato tattoo of warmth against my eyelids, let the sweat drip down my back unheeded.

The icy breath of the dream that was not a dream, the dream that is not yet undone, gusts around me, billowing linen pant legs out like little parachutes. My eyes are open wider than they’ve ever been and still sight escapes me, the world of heat and sun, the world where my hand clamps on my door handle, an anchor for my feet, my reality.

The man had come to me while I slept. It was a good sleep, a deep sleep, the sleep where you wake in the exact same position with a little puddle of drool on your pillow because your body has given itself over completely to its own natural machinations and you wake feeling like someone slipped you a Xanax in the night. Blasphemous, to intrude on this type of sleep.

He whispered in my head. He whispered that he had things to show me, and asked did I want to see. I want to see all there is to see, and how could I not? The whispers turned into skitters that reached groping fingers and I was enveloped in the dream.

I had thought it just a dream and while the dangers of dreams are well known I had counted on my thorny and threatening roving gang of thoughts to keep me safe from intruders.

He insisted. He cajoled. Against my wishes, he delivered his messages and he showed me what he wanted to show me. He showed me all of it, the end of it. The end of me. And there isn’t enough time. There isn’t enough me.

*****

For this weeks Master Class, Professor SAM (http://frommywriteside.wordpress.com/) chose Tara to head up our class because she wrote a piece about a father taking justice into his own hands that delivered a punch to the gut (http://thinspiralnotebook.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/a-fathers-right/).  Tara chose Christopher Moore’s Lamb for her prompt this week:

That’s all I remember.

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

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