Silence stagnates the air. Michael waits at the kitchen table, the untouched bowl of cheerios turned mush in front of him. Hard footsteps pound down the hall and out the front door. The screen door bounces, slams shut. A car revs to a start then takes flight down the gravel driveway and out into the street.
Michael pushes his chair back from the table, goes to the sink, lifts himself on tippy-toes, climbs onto the counter to hold a dishrag under the tap. He turns the cold water faucet, ensures no water escapes the cloth, no drops to pelt like stones, no echoes in the stainless steel sink. Both hands clasp the damp rag as he glances around the room. Then he climbs down, then kneels down, closes in towards the sharp, rusty smell on the floor.
His small left hand holds the cool rag against her forehead as he watches, waits to see her blink. Her brown eyes with the little gold flecks, round like marbles. He watches closely. She doesn’t blink. He covers her face with the rag.
He knows it’s time. He goes to the back door, sits on the little bench with his name painted on it, ties his sneaker laces in a bow and a knot like he learned in school last year. He pulls down her pilly gray cardigan from the hook above him and puts it on. Rolls up the sleeves so his hands peek out at the end. The sweater’s long, hangs past his knees, but it smells like her, like laundry soap and stale cigarette smoke.
Michael leaves through the back door, pauses, thinks about locking the door. He doesn’t lock it, he hopes someone finds her. He crawls through the hedge at the bottom of the garden, through the dug-out spot she made for him. On the other side of the locked gate, he stretches as tall as he can, brushes the leaves off, thinks about running, keeps walking, crosses the block to the next alley, then to the next.
He thinks about the car returning to the gravel driveway, about the screen door opening and slamming again. Michael thinks about his name being shouted throughout the house, white hot anger filling the rooms. But somehow, he knows that when he isn’t found, no one will continue to look.
He stumbles on his shoe laces, stops to re-tie and re-bow. He concentrates. He doesn’t see the car driving towards him.
Over 400 words for Angela Goff’s 150 word Visual Dare writing prompt. I usually follow rules, but this story needed more words to tell the story of a boy without a voice. The photo is scary and all too real in subject and tone. I hope I’ve done the story justice.
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You know, I used to say relationships were difficult for me. I blamed my inability to say the right things, do the right things, act the right way. I wanted a calm, sunny-bright, loving life. Yet, at every turn I created only charcoal-black shadows. Smudges.
But recent events (Yes. Her.) made it clear to me that the problem all along has been my criminal lack of judgement. My passion, trust, desire – they bled together. They created a pathetic display of devotion. And let’s face it, with people like you, devotion equals weakness, doesn’t it? When I raised my head up in prayer, I showed my jugular.
Take it easy now. Don’t gulp the air. Breathe slowly, it’ll hurt less. If you keep lurching and straining, the ties that bind you will leave angry incisions, cutting wounds that can’t ever heal.
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We bonded quickly, snapped together like two magnets that found each other and were defenseless to stop the attraction. Our smooth surfaces flushed together, heat conducting.
It was meant to be, for better and for so much worse. Unchangeable.
Unchangeable until you changed it.
We spent an afternoon in a suburban mall, searched for a birthday present, bought Tide at the Canadian Superstore, all before you decided to explain, over lukewarm Starbucks lattes, that you couldn’t love me anymore. Oh wait. Was it that you didn’t love me anymore? Or, was it that you didn’t want to love me anymore?
It didn’t really matter what you said. It was how you said it. You leaned forward, your elbows rested on the faux wood table as you stirred a plastic stick through muddy-coloured coffee foam.
A chill pierced and twisted me as you broke away. Suddenly, I was cold, exposed, jagged metal.
150 words for Angela Goff’s Visual Dare writing challenge.
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“Ellen, this is Sarah, from the parents’ advisory.”
Ellen tipped her Ray-Bans and said hi.
“Nice to meet you, Ellen. So what grade is yours in?” Sarah asked as she stood in the sand shading her eyes from the midday rays. Her stomach roll-crinkled like a Shar Pei but the rest of Sarah was golden, and intact.
Sharon responded before Ellen could: “Oh Ellen’s never been blessed with children.”
“Well, now they’re teenagers, I wouldn’t call them a blessing,” Sarah said. She and Sharon shared a hearty laugh as they leaned towards each other to share parental confidences.
Ellen turned back to her novel but the words swam. She waited and it happened, as it always did at such times; Ellen birthed her chosen son. He burst from her heart and rose gigantic.
She quietly wept as he appeared and then floated away on the breeze.
Never loved. Never been blessed.
**151 words (one word over) in response to Angela Goff’s Visual Dare Weekly Writing Challenge.
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Shadows blink reflected on the wall as Christmas lights twinkle holiday bright, bright white, bright pink, on and off, on and off.
No golden present miracles appear under the tree for no present giver miracles appear at my door, two times a loss of Christmas miracles for me, for me.
It seems an utter shame or sham to swathe and decorate a house in fir, a house devoid of spirit and of cheer, cheery me, cheery me.
Will the music, hark the herald angels music, let it snow drifts, will the music change the feeling, feeling alone, feeling so singular, on and off, on and off.
Mistook shadows, they aren’t shadows, they’re hope and delusions, fading out, fading fast, the bulb’s burned out, and so it goes and there it goes and me with it, off I go, off I go.
Originally written several years ago for 5 sentence fiction. I’ve edited it a bit for this ‘new’ release
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Six packets of sugar, ripped open, contents tumbled into a cardboard cup of cold water
Solid concentration focused on process rather than the free concoction
Stir sticks become airborne as the choice of mixing utensil is made
Shifty glances towards the condiments, a room full of furrowed brows umbrella-ing narrowed eyes
While shoes shuffle along a slippery, faux ceramic floor, determined not to lift in step
Voices surround, netted in conversations, rise and fall in volume and pitch
The question on everyone’s mind isn’t what’s it for, what’s its name, where’s it from
They don’t ponder or fondle, wonder or stun-der about such trivialities
The question forming on pursed and rounded lips is where does he belong (in the grand scheme of things)
Though the universe may be big enough, bold enough, vacant enough to hold infinite worlds
Starbucks customers may not contain multitudes enough for a rained-out wanderer
Shoddy, needs a scrub, needs a meal, needs a job, requires too much understanding
And he feels it, and he knows it, and so moves his stain out through the in-door
In his endless search for warmth
Unedited poem from Thursday night when I met a fictional character in non-fiction form.
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There was that smile again. Even now, Mitchell was able to use it to his advantage. It might not work with the cops anymore, but passersby, deciding which undesirable to bestow their money to, would usually go with Mitchell. He would look suitably downcast and hard-done by, then when the money clinked onto his cardboard mat, or better yet, when it fluttered onto his cardboard mat, Mitchell would slowly look up at his street benefactors and beam. Light shining from within, like a sunbeam. Shirley thought he was a faker and probably lived in a mansion in the suburbs, only coming downtown to get some weird kicks.
But Mitchell didn’t care what worked or what inside track he used to gain advantage, he needed money. Pure and simple. He needed cash to buy the smack that kept him going. Fuck them if they were jealous. He was doing what he needed to do.
He always had something to say too. He kept up with the news. Commentary on current events surprised his street donors and he liked the shock value of a hobo (he couldn’t bring himself to use the term ‘bum’ or ‘addict’) having well considered opinions. If he sat ‘just so’ underneath the diner kitchen window, he caught snippets of the news from the cook’s portable radio. Mitchell’s hearing had remained gold star through the years, even with all the punches to the head. The news, being well-read or well-heard, were holdovers from his previous life. It helped to keep him from isolation, and desperation, in his room at the Edgerton Hotel.
This is a draft of the beginning, or the end, of a longer piece of writing.
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Though Vivaldi wrote the shades of all four seasons
My autumn, painted rich with gold and red, shines with only Bach
Baroque swirls of longing, sad notes on a rotund bass
Apples fall from overladen, chipped bark trees and seem to roll
Into concert halls filled with sharp and flat acoustic, light-toned, wood walls
Seating arc for vantage views of stark stage punctuated with black music stands
I close my eyes as strings begin to sing, pining for attention and darker afternoons
When flushed cheeks in sweater weather walks end with turns
Into rooms lit by lanterns and crackling fireplaces
Tapestry and the setting of St. Matthew’s Passion evoke more memories
Of childhoods spent in reverie of worlds beyond these polished rooms
These cosy spaces of dangerous corners and painted ceilings
For outside, rain washes clean the leaves of trees longing for change
Puddles form on gray stone and brick walkways, and I tap
My booted toes to the faraway sound of trains and journeys yet to be
Elizabethean harpsichord join violins and the lonesome cello
Notes plucked, then strings skimmed by ribbon bows
Baroque, my fall friend, obliges me forward,
While all the while I look back in awe and sigh.
Written in response to d’Verse Pub: http://dversepoets.com/2014/10/14/poetics-under-the-influence-of-music/