Posts Tagged With: Fiction

The Mailing Factory

He just wants to wash his hands. Why won’t they go away, leave him be, let him wash his damn hands? The vein is throbbing in his temple again, he can feel it and he knows that anyone who looks at him will be able to see it, writhing like a worm under the thin skin. Any attention is unwanted attention, but anything that draws attention to his tenuous grasp on control is doubly so. If they would just stop, if they would just be quiet and let him scrub under his fingernails, he knows he could breathe through it, that he could get that vein back under control where it belongs. Why won’t they just give him a minute? He hadn’t intended to run behind schedule this morning, but when opportunity presents itself, well, he would be ungrateful if he didn’t take advantage of it. If he had just gotten here one minute earlier, if he had been able to wash his hands before clocking in, he wouldn’t feel like they were on fire, he would be able to lose himself in the repetitive whirring of the laser printer and let the beast sleep for just these few hours. Why won’t they go away?

***

Alex glanced over at Tobias, a little disdainful, a little fearful. The strange little barrel chested man stood at his ink jet machine for eight hours straight every day; he didn’t take breaks, or go to the food truck for lunch with any of his co-workers. Alex honestly wasn’t even sure if he’d ever seen Tobias go to the bathroom during a shift. It was no skin off his nose, either way the time allotted for breaks was deducted from the payroll, but it was weird, and Alex liked things to slot neatly into their places. Tobias didn’t slot neatly into anything, including the ill-fitting outfit he habitually wore everyday.

Mentally shrugging off the uncomfortable feeling that always floated around him when he was near Tobias, Alex turned back to the prospective customers. “As you can see, this machine basically runs itself. An experienced operator can have it programmed within ten minutes, and, depending on the paper stock you choose, have it running a minimum of 250 addresses per hour. I’m familiar with your market. I know that your location does corporate mailers and individual store flyers approximately every two weeks, which is why I’m showing you this particular machine. For the volume you guys deal in, it’s a perfect fit. We run three straight shifts here, so we’d be able to run your jobs 24/7, which I happen to know your current business associates cannot do.”

“Mmmmm.” Robert made a non-committal sound. He was pretty sure that Alex thought his little smiles were ingratiating, when what they were, were smug and unduly self-satisfied. He wished that he could do business based on principle, because he really didn’t want to shake the smarmy floor manager’s hand again. Alas, what they were offering would shave off about 25% from his marketing costs, and Robert did love himself a tidy little bonus at the end of the quarter. Still, he didn’t want to make it too easy. He stepped forward, peered over Tobias’s shoulder at the shiny paper currently whizzing across the mini conveyor belt and slotting itself into neat bundles. “With a job running this fast, what’s your procedure for quality checks?”

This was a typical question, and as he hadn’t intended it to be a slight, Robert was a little taken aback at Tobias’s reaction. He watched his shoulders stiffen, his hands flex over the machines controls and then squeeze into fists. He swiveled from the waist, slowly, making it look more like a contortion than a turn. His face mere inches from Robert’s, he growled at him, low and threatening.

“Tobias!” Alex, shocked, quickly stepped forward and tugged at Robert’s arm, pulling him back a step. “What in the hell, man? I’m so sorry,” he continued, looking over at Robert. “I, uh, I, I don’t know what, I don’t…” he trailed off. “I’m so sorry,” he repeated. He gestured the two men back towards his office, indicating he would join them momentarily. He took a few deep breaths, completely unsure of his next move. There had been something animalistic and frankly a little terrifying in the look behind Tobias’s eyes, and his managerial training at the Lane Williamson School of Business had not equipped him to deal with frightening employees who growled at customers.

***

As Robert closed the door to Alex’s fastidious little room of the ruler, Jacob burst out laughing. “What in the actual fuck was that? That guy seriously looked like he wanted to bite a chunk out of your face!” He tucked his longish, sandy blond hair behind his ear. “Sorry, I know it’s not really funny, but that was maybe one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen.”

Robert was a little more shaken than he had realized at first. Jacob had hit it on the head, though, he thought. The guy had given off a vibe that said that two seconds more would have had him doing just that. “I really think he wanted to. I really think that guy wanted to bite my face off.” His voice was a little unsteady, and that irritated him. “Some odd violent tendency working at a mailing factory wanted to bite my face off because I asked him a question about an ink jet printer.” He supposed he was trying to normalize the situation by saying it out loud, stating it as fact, but that didn’t make it any less strange, or make him feel any less uncomfortable. He wandered over to the little window that looked out on the shop floor, standing shoulder to shoulder with Jacob as they watched Alex actually wring his hands as he debated what to say to Tobias.

***

Alex stuttered a few times, still not knowing what to say. Tobias had turned back to his machine, pulling a stack of brochures from the sorted bundles, performing the very quality check that Robert had asked about. Alex could hear, very faintly, that he was still growling softly, and that the hands that normally flipped so deftly through the papers that he didn’t even have to stop the machine to re-load the feeder were shaking. “Tobias,” he said. “It’s time for you to go.” He hadn’t known that those were the words that were about to come out of his mouth, but discovered as he said them that there really was no alternative. An employee who growled at prospective customers, one who behaved threateningly, well, that just wasn’t someone that he could in good conscience keep around. Decision made, he spoke more firmly to the man who hadn’t acknowledged that he was being spoken to. “Tobias, you have to leave. I’m afraid that the behavior that you just displayed is unacceptable, and you’ll need to shut the job down and go home.”

He didn’t even have time to scream.

***

“Holy fuck!” Jacob grabbed Robert’s wrist so hard he felt his bones grind against each other, and started yelling so fast that his words became one long litany of breathless profanity. “Holy fucking shit holy fucking shit holy fucking shit what the fuck jesus fucking Christ what the fuck!”

Robert yanked his arm free and dove for the phone on Alex’s desk, but halfway there he decided locking the door first would be prudent, and changed direction in mid-lunge like an ungainly bird that had forgotten how to fly. He jabbed at the locking mechanism in the door knob a few times before he actually managed to engage it and ran back to the phone. He punched in 911 and danced from foot to foot while he waited for the operator. “Jesus, Jacob, what’s the fucking address here? I don’t know where we are, I don’t remember where we are!” He looked around wildly, there had to be letterhead, a business card, something. “Jacob!”

“911, what’s your emergency?”

There was reverberating thump behind him, and even though it was the last thing he wanted to do, Robert turned to face the window. He saw Jacob hunkered down on the floor below it, trying to retch quietly, and as his eyes slowly tracked up the first explanation his brain provided was that obviously someone had spilled a can of red paint all over the man who currently had his palms splayed out against the glass.

“Hello, this is 911, what’s your emergency?”

Red spattered teeth bared in a grin, and Robert thought distantly that it was strange that he even got paint in his mouth, that had to taste awful. “I, yes, I have an emergency.” He stopped and gaped as the monstrosity on the other side of the please dear god thick paned window opened his mouth wide and hocked out what Robert thought at first was just a mouthful of blood. “A man just spit out another man’s nose.”

***

Tobias loped away, heading for the docks and an escape route where the security cameras were broken and only left up for show. He would have thought that this morning’s unexpected bounty would have kept him full for a few more days at least, but all of a sudden he was just so damn hungry.

***

Brought to you courtesy of Skinny Puppy, The Process and Vivi Sect VI

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celestina dances

inside the tree trunks, bleached white and spotted with age, kneel old men. Even though they are creaky, their limbs are sinewy and well defined. They genuflect inside the trunks, feet rooted into the earth, toenails tangled with roots until one is not discernible from the other, heads bent. They have beards, knotted and dread-locked, that dangle between their knees, clumps dancing forward and back with each inhale and exhale. The old men are tired, and wish to retire.

from a distance, a reedy and melodious whistle floats along the breeze, teasing ears and quickening minds long passed into a meditative state. The dawn comes, and spring breaks. The whistling dances closer, and becomes a song. The old men do not move, except for their faces, where smiles spread and break through wrinkled cheeks. Celestina comes.

she pirouettes through the dappled light on the muddy ground, arms extended in graceful arches, gliding as fluidly as water around a rock. The dirt does not bother her; she revels in spinning on tiptoes in the mud, the soft and loving squelch and the smell of good, clean earth drifting up. In her wake, trailing in the notes of her music as surely as the rats enthralled by the Piper, are the children.

Their voices remain hushed and reverential, but within those boundaries of respect bordering on awe, is the joyful shriek and commotion of children everywhere, the ecstasy of being alive. Now that they are in sight of the trees, they are freed from their restraints and run towards them, somersaulting and leaping over each other, good natured shoving and tumbling, laughter everywhere. They dive into the soft ground at the trees bases, wiggling and squiggling until they pop up in between the feet of the old men.

Dirty hands on old cheeks, the children place kisses on each eyelid of each old man, bidding them to open and to see again. The old men smile wider as they welcome the youth to their new homes, returning the kisses with gentle, scratchy bearded pecks before rising slowly to their full heights. Arms elongate and fingers stretch as they lift their hands towards the sky, gnarled knuckles inhabiting branches and twigs, mixing and merging until all is one and the same.

In the heady rush of becoming temporary guardians, the children go wild. They sing and scream and holler back and forth as they dance around their tree’s trunk, inside and out, to the edges of the smallest, barren twig and back. Budding and growth, color seeping into leaves until a riot of color blooms across the forest like a rolling wave crashing across the horizon.

Celestina dance. Spring comes.

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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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What’s Left

I want to rage but you want to cry,
and so I whimper.
I want to sing but you want to sleep,
and so I whisper.

You win by default, never warning me
your compromises are comprised
of a hundred tiny deaths.

Categories: Fiction, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , | 25 Comments

Moral Compass

Mother has been through my writings again, I can tell. It is only a personal diary. She really should not hold against me the things that I write simply for my own edification. I no longer have anyone to converse with, and so I must create my philosophies within the confines of my own mind.

It is raining again today. Every time I feel that I have Mother convinced that I should be let out for some fresh air, it rains. I am starting to believe that she times her acquiescence with the likelihood of precipitation. I do not believe that she wants to let me out. I do not know if I shall ever get out again. I know that she is afraid, both for me and of me, and I cannot say that I blame her. That does not mean that I am not angry about it. These walls grow closer together with every passing day.

There was a time when she thought that it could be controlled, that I could be controlled. That time passed, rather long ago I admit, and I am not happy. I have put so much effort forth to be other than I am, to no avail. Failing that, I worked to conceal it, to allow a film down over my eyes so that the urges buried in my soul were not on display. This failed as well, excepting one memorable experiment that most likely cannot be repeated as Mother now keeps the only key to my door upon a chain around her neck.

She does bring me things to brighten up my lonely days. She brings me small animals, sometimes. Pets, she calls them, though she never asks what I plan to name them, and very obviously refuses to notice that they are no longer keeping me company when next she returns. She is most certainly playing the willful ignorant, as the small collection of sharpened bones that had been squirreled away underneath my mattress is now gone and the dumbwaiter frequently reeks of bleach when I pull up my supper.

Earlier today I heard a woman’s voice that I did not recognize, through the door at the bottom of the attic stairs. The tantalizing lilt of Ireland sang through it as she answered Mother’s murmured directive. “Yes, Miss, I swear to you that I will never try this door again.” Despite the gloom outside of my barred window, I feel that my burden may be lightened, soon. It is nearly a given that Mother was not explicit with the woman when delivering her warning, and where there is a crack I may find a way to slide through it.

I do wonder that Mother did not bother to mention to me that our missing maid had been replaced.

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It’s Tea Time

Mal pulled a face as he took a swig of bitterly brewed tea.

“Here, look, I’ll spoon some sugar in or summat,” said Vaj, pushing one of the many strangely shaped buttons on his newly acquired multi-purpose tool. It glowed a dull orange every time an instrument flicked out.

“S’ like a Swiss Army knife, innit? How many doohickeys that thing have?” asked Mal.

Vaj shrugged bony brown shoulders. “Dunno, do I? I ‘aven’t pushed all the buttons yet, yeah?”

Vaj and Mal were professional grave robbers. Well, as professional as you can be when there’s no guild or union to join to make it official-like. They’d made up business cards, painstakingly cutting out uneven cardboard squares, hand-lettering each one in blocky print: Don’t Let Them Take It To Their Graves. It was amazing, really, the number of disgruntled family members who hung about cemeteries, whining. “I can’t believe Aunt Mildred was buried with that diamond brooch” or “Really, how greedy for Uncle Harold to wear that emerald stick pin in his coffin!”.

It was one such group, clustered away from other mourners, that had scored Vaj his new gadget. Five men, dressed in mourning grey, hats pulled low over pallid faces, murmuring in undertones carrying sparks of anger. Overhearing a random snippet of conversation, “it was OURS, it wasn’t HIS”, Mal had sidled over and pulled a card out from under his crushed cap with his version of a poncy flourish, tucking it into one of their breast pockets. Before he had the chance to execute what he liked to call his exit swagger, one of the men called him back.

“Oy, you, c’mere then!” The man beckoned with a talon-like hand. Surprised but pleased, Mal instead used his swagger to return to the huddle.

The man who had called to him gestured towards a large mausoleum, spotlighted in a beam of watery sunshine in the northeast corner of the grounds. “Your, uh, expertise. Does it extend beyond digging up dirt? What we need retrieved, it’s in there, not in the ground.”

Mal nodded. “Sure sure, just trade shovels out for crowbars, yeah?” Not that they’d ever done it before but he wasn’t about to admit that in front of these gentleman, who gave him a case of the heebie-jeebies. “Wot you need outta there, then?”

They had drawn Mal into their circle, whispering at and to each other, epithets directed at the dead man, and finally instructions. “You will find a number of strange looking devices within Branson’s coffin. We only wish to have one of them returned. The rest, should you be able to figure out their usage, belong to you and your partner. They will be your payment.”

Mal held his hands up. “Sounds a bit like Jack and his magic beans, mate. My partner and I deal in currency. You know, real payment for services rendered. Yer tryina tell me we might just end up with bits of junk that we can’t even figure out? How are we supposed to be able to turn that into profit?”

“Ah, but did not Jack end up with the Golden Goose?” It was a different man who spoke this time, although he looked much like the first man, and seemed rather pleased with his rejoinder.

In the end, Mal was swayed, and although Vaj did more than his fair share of complaining, they had duly gone to work with their crowbars. Once inside the mausoleum, they had discovered only one coffin inside; a large varnished box with intricately carved flourishes, set in the center of a marble dais. To their delight, there were no locks or seals to fight with and the lid opened smoothly on well oiled hinges.

Tucked in around the dead man there were indeed a ridiculous number of odd looking widgets and gizmos, like someone had upended a robot’s toy box in along with the body. Vaj reached for the only one that was even remotely recognizable.

“Look, this ones got a corkscrew on, and a little spoon, ha. What’s this one for though?” He punched at a button with a rectangular pictograph, but nothing happened. He shrugged. “C’mon, let’s just scoop up the lot of ’em, figure out how to make ’em work at home.”

****

Many miles away, in Amesbury, a startled group of tourists stumbled backwards as a slow, grinding sound rose from the ground. A swirling whirlpool of earth opened up, and a girl screamed.

“Stonehenge just fell down!”

***

I admit that I had a hard time finding inspiration from the prompts for Grammar Ghoul challenge #9- which is the entire point, of course, of having writing CHALLENGES. So kudos, Ghouls, this one stumped me, and I’m not sure how well I did 😉

The prompt word this week was ‘spoon’, and the visual prompt was a really adorable (because camels) short film that you can watch here, called The Egyptian Pyramids:

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , | 14 Comments

Cresting the Summit

Sarah felt like the beleaguered heroine in a Greek tragedy. She muttered as she searched for toeholds, fingers digging in to grip at the soft surface of the mountain she was scaling, trying to remember who the hell it was that had to do the whole boulder bullshit. She knew it was a he, and that he had to push this big ass rock to the top of a mountain over and over again, since it rolled all the way back down every time he reached the top. Well, whatever the hell his name was, that’s who she felt like. Prometheus? No, that was the fire guy who got his guts pecked out every day. Or his eyes. Maybe some days she felt like him, too, but that’s not who she was thinking of. Trying to figure it out was a welcome distraction from overthinking her current predicament, so she didn’t mind overmuch that she hadn’t landed on the right name yet.

A rank smell assaulted her nose each time she was stupid enough to forget not to breathe through it. “Phaw!” she yelled, smacking her lips, actually tasting the stink in the back of her throat. Bits of grimy crust stuck underneath her fingernails; bits of what, she didn’t want to know. She just wanted to put her head down and concentrate on reaching the summit.

She shuddered in fear that yet again, once she reached the top of this mountain, all she would see would be another, and another, stretching towards infinity, no end in sight. Searching inside herself, she was dismayed to realize that she really didn’t know how much longer she could keep this up. There was a part of her that just wanted to snuggle into a crevice, crusty smelly bits and all, and let herself be buried alive. It was hard to keep going, hard to traverse an entire mountain range that had just sprung up over night. She would have sworn that yesterday there was only a single mountain, more of a hill, really, nothing insurmountable. Then, some time during the night, she had heard voices, a rustling born upon a rumbling, and next thing you know…

She silenced her inner wuss, drowning the voice out with more muttering. “There’s gotta be an endgame, Sarah, just shut up and get to it, just a few more feet to the top.” It was a comforting lie to tell herself, as distance appeared to be relative in this landscape and she had no idea how far away it truly was.

With dogged determination, she grabbed and slipped, lifted and dug in, until finally she could flop herself over onto a plateau with all the grace of a slug. She scrambled to her knees, exhausted but driven by the need to see. She gained her feet slowly as she realized that she had finally reached the end – down this side was gloriously flat land. Energy rebounding, she pumped her fists in the air and hooted. “I’m done!” she yelled, doing an ill-advised happy dance on unstable terrain.

Down she went, ass over tea kettle, around and around and around. “Oh, well,” she thought, “at least I’m falling in the right direction.”

She caught up against something cushioned yet firm, and lay there until her whirling thoughts and dizzy limbs calmed. She glanced to the right and found herself looking under a couch and into a pair of feline eyes, blinking mere inches from her own. She reached out, scratched under his chin.

“Come on Sisyphus. I finally finished the damn laundry. Time for the dishes.”

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

Parental Rights

This fucking skirt. I could give a shit less what I look like if I’m not comfortable, and this skirt sucks. It twists, it clings, it’s all over the damn place. Of course, I can’t stand still, so that could be a factor. My left foot bops, my right attempts to jitterbug. My shaking hand holds a cigarette that will burn down to the filter after a few cheek hollowing, lung harrowing inhalations.

I can’t decide which is worse – the grey outdoors where I’m standing, the sun on vacation, leaving us mortals clinging to its memory and feeling only half alive, or the painful harshness of the indoor fluorescents, the sadistic and efficient creators of which are on my find-out-I-have-a-terminal-illness hitlist.

No Smoking, says the door. Yeah. Fuck you.

I eye every person that passes, searching. Not you, not you, definitely not you; you do not have the answers to the questions that I am asking. I am twenty-five years old, defiantly clueless. You do not have the answers to the questions that I am asking.

Hello, I rehearse in my head. Hi. I’m your daughter.

Stranger words have never passed through my mind and I want to grab one of the grounded in well-being and ask them if they have ever had to say those particular words in that particular order. Excuse me, have you ever had the pleasure of introducing yourself to one of your parents? If so, how did that go for you?

Hi. I’m your daughter. Still strange.

I turn my head and I see her staring at me through the window. I was told she’s my grandma, but I’m not sure how to process that information. I’ve never met her, there are no over the river and through the woods cookie baking memories between us. As soon as she realizes I’m looking back at her, she looks away. Hi, I’m your granddaughter. Still strange.

My body can’t handle one more iota of nicotine, so I light another cigarette, and man, it hurts so good. There are so many butts strewn on the ground it looks like a homeless man came and made a collage. I look for pictures in them, like you do in clouds, but it’s just dirt and garbage. It’s nothing.

Hi. I’m your daughter. Still strange.

I take as deep a breath as my riddled innards will allow and pull the door open. Yes, that’s right, hush your conversations and stare. I will offer you a smile, regardless.

As the door whooshes closed behind me I am in another dimension. Though this first room is barely larger than my high school homeroom, I have never been somewhere that felt so cavernous.

I chant my mantra in time with my steps- Hi, I’m your daughter. Hello, I have never seen a single person in this room before, will you welcome me into your family with comforting arms, because this hurts me too you know, or will you all just keep looking at me like you’re more afraid of me than I am of you?

An arched doorway, into soft lighting, softer music, and the stink of flowers.

I know from television that the insides aren’t inside, the organs removed and weighed and recorded in posthumous posterity, and the mouth has been stuffed so you don’t notice the sunken cheeks. For a moment, looking at smooth eyelids, I get a mental flash of garish, cartoonish, giant black X’s stitching them shut.

I shake the image away, take a waxy hand in mine, and bore my words through the shell.

“Hello. I’m your daughter.”

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , | 27 Comments

Anthony and Eli

The stained glass imploded and the man sitting in the front pew turned towards the heavy wrought iron crossbars as they were wrenched apart by powerful, invisible hands.

“You do so love your entrances,” he remarked blithely.

The black cloaked figure descended, shiny pointy shoes making two little clicks as he settled to the floor. “But of course,” he replied. More tiny clicks from his heels as he made his way towards the seated man.

Anthony rose from the polished wooden bench and followed Eli up to the altar, dark curls shadowing his face. As they sat and settled themselves on the carpeted steps, Eli’s nose wrinkled at the overpowering scent of incense and, what the hell was that, lilacs? He shook his head with a grimace of distaste. He looked up, about to speak, and saw a tear drip onto Anthony’s silk shirtfront, the damp splotch spreading like a blood stain across the dark material. Anthony glanced down at it himself, and slumped over in a heap.

“Stop being so melodramatic, Anthony.”

“Oh, shut up Eli! God, you’re so boring these days,” he mumbled this last part, face pressed into the carpet. He rolled over and propped his head on his hand. “I’m tired,” he offered, by way of apology.

Eli shrugged. “They never really gave us a crash course on what exactly was meant by the job title Guardian Angel. I might have tried out for a different rank.”

“Yeah, well, we didn’t and now we screwed everything up, and we’re not ever allowed to go home again! Fucking Aslan guarding the pearly gates for Christ’s sake.”

Trying and failing to contain his laughter, Eli let it loose until he fairly shook with it. “How the mighty have fallen, you blaspheming angel,” he hooted. “Besides, it’s not like we got a healthy dose of free will mixed in with our angel DNA.

“It’s not funny! These damnable creatures don’t even want our help anymore. They call modern day wizards called Life Coaches now.” He switched topics abruptly. “Do you know a teen-age girl tried to seduce me the other night? After she asked if I wanted to smoke some weed with her.”

Eli waited a moment. “And…” he prodded.

“Well, shit. Her self proclaimed ‘bodacious body’ was…lush, but her face,” he waved a hand distractedly. “Vacuous. Vapid.” He shrugged. “Haven’t you ever looked at them like that, though? Seen something more in their faces, seen more than the sheep we thought they were?”

Eli sat silent for a few seconds. “Those are dangerous words, especially to be spoken aloud here.”

“I’ll say what I like, when I like, wherever I like,” he replied indifferently. “How could they punish us beyond banishment? Truly though, you’re telling me that you’ve never had a moment where this human you’re with becomes nothing a purely carnal creature, you no longer care what brought you there in the first place, you don’t remember what she suffers or what she needs, because she’s so close to you and you know you could just reach out and touch her?” He was crying again.

“No, Anthony, I haven’t.” Eli dropped his head into his hands. “You’re speaking poetry. They are not there to help us, you know this.” He pulled a handkerchief from a hidden pocket in his cloak and leaned forward with it.

Anthony shoved the hand away and drew backwards. “I like my tears just fine where they are, thank you,” he said petulantly. “You’re the one who wanted to meet anyway, so why don’t you start talking.”

“I don’t know if I can make you understand, because as you seem to grow closer to them every day, so I grow more and more dissatisfied at the end of each mission.” Eli glanced around furtively, as if the boss himself were present. “I don’t like them, they’re pointless and they’re boring. Nor do I care very much what happens to them. I find myself wanting to sabotage their meager little lives for my own petty enjoyment.

“Now who sounds like a madman,” said Anthony sarcastically. He stood and straightened his jacket, pinched the crease sharper in his pants, and lit a cigarette that had materialized between his lips with a lighter procured the same way.

“So, what do you say we give them what the really want?” Eli asked, an evil grin splitting his face.

“Let’s give ’em hell,” Anthony smirked back.

They ascended together, through the window that repaired itself behind them.

***

So ends my submission for the wonderful Grammar Ghoul Press, Challenge Numero SIX already: Go here, read the things, write the things, vote the things, appreciate the awesome Ghouls that populate the page:
http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-6/#more-612

This piece was completely inspired by the prompts for this week – the word bodacious and this really cool painting by Rene Magritte, titled Homesickness
homesickness

Cheers,
Shannon

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

Courage

With my halcyon days so far behind me that
they no longer even cast a shadow,
as what I know to be my last years begin
to climb out of the depths,
wrapping their ropes around my ankles to
slow my steps, hunch my back,
eke the marrow from my bones,

I find myself wandering the cemetery
in the sunshine,
under fluffy clouds and winging birds,
to visit a plot that for a decade,
I pretended did not exist.

I stray from the path, because really,
why not, when there’s no one on guard;
I doubt there’s much market for broad-daylight
grave pilfering,
but I wouldn’t know much about such things,
myself

I had heard you were gone; even in introversion,
news travels as fast as the speed of a click
and there’s always some who
can’t seem to wait
to start a conversation with the words ‘oh hey, have you heard?’

I still thought about you all the time,
even then, so many years from
when I had last seen your face,
my own eyes shimmering tears, doubled
the sheen of those gleaming in yours
and then, pfft, never again

would I have looked longer,
I wonder,
if I had known that I would
never see you face to face again?
It didn’t seem like a thing that could be,
a truth that still made no sense,
when reality sits in your lap
and you don’t even realize you have company

And so here I am now,
shuffle stepping to your marker,
stooped and angry,
still mad, still furious, that you
couldn’t manage to be that man,
the one that I saw the first time that I met you,
that was leaps and bounds ahead
of the one that I left behind,
even though I loved you

i’m not here to say goodbye,
I’ve talked to you so often in my head
and doing it when you’re alive and not near
is even more pointless than doing it
when you’re already dead.

If my epitaph stood next to yours,
these many crumpled years later,
Yours, I think, would say goodbye.
And mine, mine would only say I tried.

***

So, I used to join in at The Speakeasy (which I really loved) with Suzanne, and it was brought back into the fold of the Yeah Write community – so I figured I’d give it a try over here.

I pretty much wrote the whole thing around the optional prompt that was given:
What is written in the stone?

As soon as I pound some more words out for NaNo, I very much look forward to reading the other stories. Click on the badge at the top of the post if you’d like to check out all of the other cool stuff going on.

Categories: Fiction, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , | 15 Comments