A Single Flower

First off, apparently May 10th (last Wednesday) was my Blogiversary! My blog is 4 years old! YAY!

Okay, now onto a piece of flash fiction.

Trigger warnings: Depression, alcoholism, death of a loved one.


The empty scotch bottle slipped out of his fingers and settled next to the single flower growing from her grave. Tears ran down his cheeks into the stubble that had formed on his chin over the past week and a half since the night of the accident.

She was gone and it was his fault.

His back starting to cramp from his hunched, crumpled position leaning over her grave, he laid back onto the ground and looked into the trees, listening to the gentle hum of insects and the soft rustle of leaves in the breeze. He took a deep breath in an attempt to make the world stop spinning. The air was thick with the pungent smell of the bottle of Glenfarclas that had half gone down his throat and half gone into the ground. A warm, smokey flavor lingered in his mouth and he thought, “I better appreciate the taste now, because I doubt I’ll be able to stomach it tomorrow.” This was the sort of bender that turned one off of specific types of booze.

They had been saving this bottle of scotch for a special occasion. There would be no more special occasions now.

He had never been a big drinker, but he had been drunk that night – the night he had killed her – they both had.

For what seemed like the millionth time, the way her neck had felt beneath his hand when it snapped ran through his mind and he could almost feel it again. His stomach churned, from the booze? From the spinning sky? From the memories? Yes. Probably all of the above.

Tears had stopped flowing, but his body still went into convulsions, and his chest still tightened while he quivered in dry sobs.

He hadn’t meant to, he had loved her with all of his heart, but she was just so damn fragile. One moment she had been shrieking with laughter while they wrestled in the bed, her trying to lick his face because he had complained about her breath. The next moment they had tumbled out of bed and his hand went out to catch them. Somehow – and he still couldn’t piece it together – her neck had been twisted between his palm and the floor as her head hit the ground.

He had felt it snap and she had gone limp even while they were still falling off the bed.

One poorly placed hand. One fragile neck. Two lives ended.

The tears came back now. They tore through him as he curled into the fetal position on his side facing her grave. She had been his everything and he had killed her.

“Lance?” a small voice broke through his sobs.

He sat up and looked around frantically. It was a small, frail voice, but it was hers for sure. Was he losing his mind?

It came again, repeating his name, “Lance?”

It came from the flower. He looked closer. The flower turned towards him, petals framing a tiny face. “Lance, is that you?”

“I… I… How…?” was all he could get out and the flower smiled.

“I’ve been brought back to you, my love.”

“But,” there was a panicked tightness in his chest while he struggled to catch his breath. How was this possible, “How did you-”

“It doesn’t matter, Lance. I’m here now and we can be together.”

He crouched down so that his nose was inches from the flower.

The broad smile was strange buried between petals of a flower, but it was undeniably hers and it warmed his heart and he started to smile for the first time since she had died. “Stop crying; this wasn’t your-” she stopped short with a gasp.

“What’s wrong?”

“It wasn’t your-” she paused, the smile fading. Then the flower whipped around, looking at the ground, “GAHHH!” she cried, “My roots are burning! Make it stop! Make it-” She fell silent staring at the empty bottle of scotch on the wet soil.

“You DIDN’T!” she screamed in anguish.

“What?” he asked.

“OH god, the SCOTCH IT BURNS!”

The scotch? He grabbed the bottle. It was 120 proof, plenty high to kill just about any plant.

“You stupid son of a-” she continued, “OH DAMNIT IT BURNS!”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t-”

“I worked so hard to get back AND YOU’ve POISONED ME!” The flower was leaning to one side and convulsing now.

“I’m SORRY,” he bawled, not knowing what to do, dropping the bottle and cradling the flower in his hands. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”

But she was gone again.

The small, single flower wilted and died.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, rocking back and forth, “I didn’t know.”


Listen to it here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/9es9atuty2hob55/ASingleFlower.mp3?dl=0

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Late Night Shopping

The orange light from the bedside clock burned through the darkness, shouting that it was 2 am. I’m not sure what had awoken me, but my shirt was drenched in sweat. A cool breeze wafted in through the window, though, so unless the temperature had dramatically changed in the last several minutes, my dreams had not been pleasant. That’d been happening a lot lately.

I rolled over in bed and found that I was its only occupant. My girlfriend wasn’t there, but I didn’t have to wonder where she was; a thin line of light crept under the bedroom door, telling me exactly where she was. She was still up, working on something. That had also been happening a lot lately.

I dragged myself to my feet and shuffled out into the living-room, where I found her hunched over her computer, headphones in her ears.

“It’s pretty late,” I said, “Are you coming to bed?”

She sighed and pulled her headphones out, then looked at me, exasperated. “What?”

‘Oh good,’ I thought, ‘she’s in a mood again.’ “I asked if you were coming to bed.”

Her eyes shot down to her computer screen. “I’m working on something,” she said. Then her eyes came back up to meet mine.

“It’s important,” she said, lowering her voice.

“Sleep is also important,” I said. Sometimes she gets wrapped up in her projects and forgets about the rest of the world. “Don’t you have that meeting tomorrow?”

Looking back down at the screen, she brushed some hair behind her ear and said, “I’ll sleep when you’re dead.”

Taking a deep breath, I leaned against the wall. “I think the saying is ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead.’”

Her eyes came back up to meet mine. She considered me for a long moment, her eyes dark and her expression moody. “I’m aware,” she said finally, “it doesn’t apply to this situation.”

Suddenly uncomfortable standing in the living-room in my boxers, I shifted my feet. Her gaze didn’t let up.

“Now, if you’re done,” she continued, “I’d like to finish ordering these knives before the sale ends.”

Without another word I shuffled back to the bedroom, but I didn’t sleep.


You can listen to me read it here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/2cn6238t26tobmh/LateNightShopping.mp3?dl=0

 


There’s also a related shirt up on RedBubble: http://www.redbubble.com/people/imasillypirate/works/23539253-ill-sleep-when-youre-dead

A Stranger Comes to Call

AStrangerComesToCall

Today is my 3 year blogiversary!
I’ve included an audio file of me stumbling through reading the story, if you are interested (you can find it below the text of the story). I stole the idea to include an audio file of me reading the story from Bruce Goodman. The flash fiction on his blog (https://weaveaweb.wordpress.com/) is amazing, and I suggest checking it out!

Enjoy!


Thunder roared and a flash of ominously timed lightning outlined the stranger at the open door, her black, torn cloak whipping around her skeletal frame in the sideways rain. She wasn’t a stranger in the sense that the gathered family members didn’t know instantly who she was, or that she hadn’t visited them before, or even that each and every member of that terrified, huddled group didn’t spend a sizable amount of their time thinking about her. She was a stranger in that they didn’t want to know her and tried desperately to forget her existence between visits.

The drenched, black hood clung to her skull and she pealed it away as she entered, leaned her scythe against the inside wall, then shut the door behind her. Her cloak dripping on the hardwood flooring of the entryway, she glanced around at the shocked men and women that sat on assorted furniture in the living room.

“Looks like you’ve been waiting for me, hope I didn’t keep you too long,” she said, her voice more chipper than one might expect to come pouring out of a fleshless skull.

“Dear God,” a bearded, bespectacled man said quietly from a folding chair next to the television.

“Oh, there you are!” the stranger almost laughed, fixing the dark pits that should have been eyes on the man. “I was looking for you.”

All eyes had been wide and fixed on her from the moment she pushed the door open, but now a few flicked back and forth between the bearded man and the stranger, showing glimmers of both pity and relief.

Shrinking back from her, as if trying to hide his entire face and chest into his beard, he stammered, “I-I-I thought y-you were…” he couldn’t finish the sentence, but pointed upstairs to covey his meaning.

Slowly, the stranger moved towards him, raising her hand. Panic bubbling up from his chest made the man’s breath turn into a ragged wheezing. After two slow steps that seemed to last an eternity, she stopped abruptly and doubled over laughing.

Sometimes laughter served to help drain terror out of people’s expressions but, in this case, it seemed to only make it worse. When she got her cackling under control, the stranger straightened and wiped at where a tear would have leaked out, if she had possessed the required equipment to cry. “I’m just fucking with you, Doug. Of course I’m here for the old lady.” Looking around the room, she added, “that’s why you’re all here, right?”

A couple of heads nodded slightly as she turned. “Tough crowd tonight, I’m dying out here,” she said, making her way to the staircase. “Don’t worry, Doug, you aren’t going to die.”

With her foot on the first step she paused and looked back at the bearded man, finishing her thought, “tonight.”

Trailing laughter, she bound up the stairs and out of view. Not a word passed between the men and women who had gathered to say goodbye. They all just sat and stared at the place where the woman’s skeleton had disappeared, watching as the water from her cloak dripped from one step to another. Despite the sporadic thunder and the howl of wind and rain, they could hear the stranger moving about upstairs, not by her foot falls, but because she still chuckled.

Less than a minute later, the stranger was coming back down the stairs, followed by a spectral shape that, though lacking opacity, was still very clearly the family matriarch. She too was laughing.

“Mother?” Doug said, standing. “Mother, I don’t think you should go with her.”

“Oh, Dougy,” the elderly woman sighed, “It’s not like I have a choice.”

They had reached the bottom of the stairs at that point and the stranger reached up to help the old lady down the last step. “Besides,” the recently-deceased continued, “she’s not that bad,” then she again began to laugh.

“What’s so funny?” Doug asked, taking a step forward.

Hearing the pain in her son’s voice sobered her up for a moment. Her eyes had gone to her feet as the stranger led her toward the door, but now her gaze returned to meet Doug’s. “It’s just something my new friend told me. You aren’t ready yet. You wouldn’t understand.”

Doug opened his mouth to protest, but the two women had made it to the door and the stranger spoke, opening the door, “Don’t forget your coat. In a storm like this you’re likely to catch your death.”

Allowing herself to be directed out the door, her eyes closed and tearing with laughter, the old woman managed to squeak out, “Oh, you,” then she was gone. Out the door, she disappeared into the darkness.

The stranger turned back, gave them each one more look, grabbed her scythe from where it had stood against the wall and said, “See you later,” then pulled the door closed.

There was a long moment of silence where all those gathered still stared at the door. Then, suddenly the door popped back open a foot and the stranger’s skull was thrust back in. Doug almost fell over, startled.

“Oh yeah,” the stranger said, her voice still sweet and chipper, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

Then the door was closed again and she was gone. Among the sounds of the storm raging outside, the dumbfounded family could hear the two women laughing like teenagers as they drifted off into the night.


Listen to me read it here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/mhoml7za4uajuj0/AStrangerComesToCall.mp3?dl=0

 

You can get swag with this image on it on RedBubble: http://www.redbubble.com/people/imasillypirate/works/21672364-a-stranger-comes-to-call

Parade Raining

Do you ever come across a piece that you wrote a long time ago which you immediately fall back in love with?
I happened upon the following piece (written in 2008) buried in the deep, dark recesses of an old writing folder along with 5 accompanying sketches and I felt like sharing, because I really like it/ them.
Without further introduction… enjoy a previously unposted snapshot of my literary past.

———————-   ———————-

Parade Raining

01The rain came down. Dancing in the pale, yellow sodium street light, the distinct drops painted streaks of refraction on the patchy black backdrop of an overcast night sky. Every drop of refreshing precipitate that gently struck my upturned face exploded in a tiny blossom of chilled peacefulness. Each collision a distinct, blissful experience.

Alone they landed, but together, they melded into a flowing body, caressing my cheeks and brow, cascading through my hair and over my chin, down my neck and over my pale, bare chest. The flow would then either drip off my finger tips, each drop leaving a gentle kiss as it let go, or it would soak into the waist of my jeans, for a longer, yet still inevitable, trip to join the puddle around my naked feet.

I curled my toes. The mud that squished between them sent a sensual, relaxing wave up my body.02

The mortgage fell away.

I took a deep breath of the cool, saturated air. The tangy smell of sopping autumn helped drop my shoulders back.

The fact that I needed to dump another unbelievably large sum of cash into that over-regulated hunk of steel and pistons faded into a position in which it no longer mattered.

A smile curled over my lips as the tranquil roar of the falling drops filled my head. I turned my sensitive palms outward and raised my arms from my sides. As I did so, the tie that had been loosely held in my left hand slipped through my fingers to rest on top of the discarded shirt that soaked up mud.

My fear about the wife I may or may not still love leaving me and taking the dog I still haven’t trained not to crap on the floor, paled until not even a hint of the anger, the fear, or the question lurked in my mind.

As my hands reach03ed a forty five degree angle, the fragrant, chill breeze nuzzled its way up and enveloped my body and outstretched limbs.

It failed to matter that I had just stormed out of a meeting with the board that now viewed me as a joker and a clown. Like a sand castle melting into the ocean, the seeming importance of their comments disappeared.

Total bliss and happiness set in.

I closed my eyes, and smiled into the rain.

The rain.
The ecstasy.
Bathing in the rain and the street light.
Not only was everything going to be okay, everything was okay. No, not okay; everything was perfect…

Happiness.04

I was jarred into a state of confusion as the rain suddenly stopped. No, not stopped; I could still hear it but couldn’t feel it. I opened my eyes to see an umbrella held over me by a tall dark figure. The ambient light reflected from the shiny ground illuminated a bone pale face looking down at me, dark eyes remaining in shadow. The white face seemed to glow faintly in the black surroundings of a hood.

Still staring into the seemingly missing eyes, I opened my mouth to speak in protest, but my throat was suddenly dry and refused to utter a sound.

He spoke in a deep rumble, “Come. You’ll catch your death playing in the rain like this.”

05

Prelude in D Sharp Major

PreludeThe most important moment to every thing’s existence is, one can argue, the moment that it came to be, yet it seems to be some sort of rule that one cannot remember it. The air gave me form. I was born through the coming together of many separate particles in the haze, condensing into a single body, or so I have been told. I don’t remember the event, of course.

It’s like there is no exact moment that I became conscious, either. I can remember, I presume, almost to the beginning, to what I am forced to assume is the beginning, because things moved less quickly then, and I looked different. I have gotten bigger, and I can remember with gray, fuzzy clarity that, once, I was much smaller, so that must have been near the beginning, but there is no definite edge to my memory, only a fading into obscurity.

As time marches forward, so do I. In every single memory that I have, I was propelled forward out of it by something: fate? time? destiny? I don’t know what it is, but I can’t go back. I left the wispy gray of my past and it was gone. As I was pushed faster and faster my shape changed, I became longer, and lost some of my roundness, but I gained other strange bulges. More important, I think, than what I am now, is that I used to be something else and can never go back. Am I still changing? I don’t feel like I’m changing, but I must be in flux, since I am not what I used to be. What lies ahead? I can’t tell. I can see that those around me have gone through similar changes, and those ahead of me are different still, but is that what I will become? What will it feel like? I see that I may look different, but will that change who I am? I resign myself to waiting to see, then I can compare, but by the time I get there, that is me and what I was when I asked is just a memory. That won’t do for objective comparison, so I let it go, and just assume that I have changed.

Way ahead in the distance I can see a vast, dark, blue expanse; an end to my existence, but it is far away, and bigger than anything I have ever seen. I can tell every once in a while that it is getting closer, but as with my changing form, its distance seems static. Its existence is disturbing, so I try not to think about it as I barrel on ahead towards it.

The wind tosses me about. I still charge ahead, I can never stop charging ahead, but sometimes the wind pushes me side to side and I meet others like me. Together we dance, and laugh, and share, but we are all headed towards that great big end, and we all know it. Some of those around me have been with me all along, as far as I know. There are others that come and go on occasion, and though a few of them I consider friends, we cannot fight the wind. It’s like our charge towards the end, we must just accept that some will be with us for the entire journey, others will come and go, while others still will enter our life for a brief time, then disappear, never to return, like the past.

I learn to enjoy and cherish those that the wind has allowed me to be near while we charge ahead to the big, dark, blue end.

The end, as it gets closer and closer, begins to develop texture, an uneven surface, and a looming presence that seems to be approaching faster than I originally thought. I try not to think about it still, and enjoy the company of the friends around me, but it is so close now that everywhere ahead of me is now an expanse of uneven, dark blue that swells and pulses, changing all the time, but always there, getting closer. I have moments where I can push it out of my mind, but as it grows closer, those moments become harder to come by.

I start to see some of those ahead of me, many of which have been my friends, disappear into the dark surface. I am scared, but it is not a surprise, I have known this was coming since the first time that I looked ahead, but it seems to be coming too fast.

As I get closer, I can see each one of them plunge headlong into the surface, the form that makes up what they are is immediately dispersed. They are gone, leaving nothing but a small ripple.

It is so close now that I can see that the surface, the end, is made of the same thing I am, when I strike it, I will become part of it, and it will be changed in a small way because of me. I suddenly understand that it only exists because we do, and we are only able to make our journeys, as short as they are, because of this great looming end. In my last moments, now able to hear the splashes of those around me meeting their ends, I reflect on my journey from the clouds. I smile as I strike the surface, sending out my own little splash and disappearing forever into the sea.

I smile because I have finally learned that without the sea at the end, raindrops like me could not exist.

Reverse Pinocchio

140210_203120

He always hated children.

He never had kids of his own and when he died, he left his small piece of land to a friend. His only wish was to be cremated, his ashes mixed with the soil, and a redwood planted to absorb his body’s nutrients. That way, his friends and family would have a place to come and speak to him.

As the years passed, though, the few that had ever come to visit stopped coming. The land passed from his friend’s hands to another, and the distinction of the tree was remembered by none.

The tree grew tall and forgotten.

Many years later, the tree was cut down and turned into a picnic table. The land became part of a park and the table became a place where children liked to carve their names and little hearts.

He always did hate children.