Friday, December 26, 2014

2 Minutes. Go!

Hey, writer-type folks. AND PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT TO PLAY BUT DON'T IDENTIFY AS 'WRITERS' - all are welcome here. Every Friday we do a fun free-write. For fun. And Freedom!

Write whatever you want in the comments section on this blog post. Play as many times as you like. #breaktheblog! You have two minutes (give or take a few seconds ... no pressure!). Have fun. The more people who play, the more fun it is. So, tell a friend. Then send 'em here to read your 'two' and encourage them to play. 

The lights are suddenly too bright and you think: shit. SHIT. Lightheaded, not enough oxygen slipping through the carnage that used to be your nose. The mouthguard feels like an inflatable raft, choking you. You listen to the rattle and crunch of each punch - you don't feel them anymore - you just want to breathe. The blood drips like an old faucet.

This was going to be your comeback. Big fight, big venue. Boxing Day - forget fucking Christmas!, the return of the Iron Left. The kid from Cali. The Brick Trick. So many nicknames and so many fights and this one won't stop and you think: just let me die. 

Your eyes are bleary and you spin, looking at the saliva fangs of spectators cheering for blood. You wonder, briefly, at the strangeness of it. Wonder why they don't step in the ring if they're so bent on blood and sweat and pain. 

Happy fucking Boxing Day! Stupid play on words anyway. Stupid idea from the start. You could be at home sharing homemade gifts that rival anything Christmas brought. But you're not. Hubris, they call it. Right?

That may not be the last thought before your face hits the canvass, but it's close.

Thanks for stopping by! I will be in and out all day but, rest assured, I'll be reading everything and commenting as I have time, so check back.

158 comments:

  1. Ouch. I can almost feel the physical pain!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What Leland said. Love the play on Boxing Day. Great start to today's #2minutesgo. :)

      Delete
    2. Saliva fangs! Got that visual. Brilliant.

      Delete
    3. Oh, love it. What David and Leland said.

      Delete
  2. Not a creature was stirring. Bah! Why on earth would that be, huh? Maybe because of the evil animals you have in your house? The creature with the fangs? Of course we weren't stirring.

    Then, of course, you have the fact that you have cleaned this house within an inch of its life. Not a crumb to be found anywhere. Not one! That foul beast that roars and sucks up anything in its path scares even the fanged one.

    But the night AFTER Christmas... that is sublime. Piggy children drop crumbs everywhere... the fanged one is so plump and full he snores, even as his tail flicks.

    The night AFTER Christmas. That is when we come out. The mice of Christmas past.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! This is awesome I love the mice of Xmas past idea. And the vacuum. Perfect. Cat hated the vacuum and the girls hate it and I hate it and ... does anyone like fucking vacuums? ;)

      Delete
    2. :D This is awesome. I love that even thought to write from the mouse's pov.

      Delete
    3. thank you! it was fun... I always look for odd POVs

      Delete
  3. "Let's go camping." That's what you said. In December. In Colorado.
    Fool that I am, I said yes.
    60 degrees, amazing in winter. The packs were heavy. Only three miles in, you said. I left my parka in the car, hoping to lighten the weight a little. It was incredible. Seeing the waterfall, half ice, half liquid, rushing at our side. We laughed. We sang. Christmas carols while hiking. A perfect holiday.
    In a clearing, surrounded by perfect pines, we made camp. Not the first to stay there, from the looks of the fire ring. I prepared our simple dinner. You went to collect firewood.
    Before you came back, the snow started to fall through the sunshine.
    You pointed to the sky; there were sundogs framing the sun.
    It got cold. I regretted my decision about the coat. You built the fire as I shivered. Finally warm, we watched the stars, dreamt of a future.
    When the last of the firewood was gone, we zipped our sleeping bags together and made a different kind of fire.
    In the morning, we were knee deep in Christmas.
    The best trip of my life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This sounds like the most awesome Christmas ever. I think I'll start spending my Christmases around campfires. :)

      I like the falling rhythm. I can't think of a better way to describe it. Well crafted.

      Delete
    2. Aww... love this. And this line: "the snow started to fall through the sunshine."

      Delete
    3. <3 I've seen people try to force prose into poetry form; I much prefer the way you sneak poetry into your prose.

      Delete
    4. What a kind thing to say! thank you so much!

      Delete
  4. I knew the man who lived here. A loner, that one. 'Cept for that mangy old cur. How they found each other I'm not entirely sure. But they stuck together, through good times and bad, and brother, there were a lot of bad.
    I stopped by after the old man finally got the cancer. Too many cigarettes, too much sun, maybe too much life, who knows. But he sat me down and made me promise I'd take the place. Had all the papers drawn up already. I swore.
    Now, every Christmas Eve, I come out here. I light a fire in the fire ring, and I watch for comets. They usually come in twos out here. I figure it's the old man and the dog. They died together.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I like this one very much. Too many. Too much. Like the assonance in the first P. You are the King of last line heart tweak. Dope.

      Delete
    2. Yes, less is more! Is it possible for your heart to do a double take?

      Delete
    3. My turn to be the dittohead, but really, what else is there to add?

      Delete
    4. Thank you so much... and yes, hearts can do double takes!

      Delete
  5. Everything's so simple, but it' so goddamn complex. You're wrapped up in it - the feverish hope that the day will unfold slowly, with calm and love and peace. Every day, it's like simple arithmetic meets string theory. Every day is spent on the high wire, anxiety pounding in your chest. You can feel the rhythm of your heart. It's off. Like a CD skipping. You wonder if you'll die and what that would mean. Probably nothing.

    There's a place under the parking structure by the mall. It's behind the dumpsters, and there aren't cameras, and no one ever goes back there except pissed off kids covered in spoilt milk dragging trash bags, clad in green aprons. They don't give a shit. So, you got your place, you got your rig. You got it all, kid. Dig?

    Now sleep. Not the dreaming kind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you had me at "simple arithmetic meets string theory" and then you ripped my heart out with "your rig" and the rhyme...

      Delete
    2. Weird, I made my heart-doing-a-double-take comment before I saw this, I swear!

      Why are you Yanks writing like Brits? Leland had his "dreamt" up there and now you got your "spoilt." Someone tell me what's going on, lol.

      Delete
    3. We're finally learning the language?

      Delete
    4. LOL, you guys. :)

      You know as an editor I'd at the very least query it, right? :D

      Delete
    5. "simple arithmetic meets string theory" is one of the best descriptive phrases I've ever read. awesome piece

      Delete
  6. Grandpa was a drunk. I mean, really, a drunk. He'd save his binges for Saturday afternoons at the pool hall, but he drank non stop all the time. If he didn't make it home by Saturday night, Grandma would send the boys out to look for him, and they'd find him in the same spot every time. He always missed the same corner on the old country road. The boys'd push the truck back up on the road, and then drive him home.
    But one year, Christmas Eve was on Saturday, and Grandpa didn't go into town. He stayed home. His breath smelled funny without the whiskey on it. He kept looking at me, his youngest grandson, with a sparkle in his eyes, like he was seeing my future.
    He wasn't any good at wrapping presents, so he handed me a brown paper bag, tied together with bailing twine. I was five.
    Inside the bag were a pair of red mittens, and a pocket knife. The mittens are long gone, but the pocket knife, it lives in the pocket of my own grandson. And I drink the same whiskey as my Grandpa, but I drink at home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Man, I love this one. And not just because of the pocket knife. I think we all have lived this story in some way, from some angle, or from all of them. Tender and cold and wonderful.

      Delete
  7. I gotta a magic fox foot, and it's gonna make all the difference. Got it from this old Indian outside the mine. He kind of gave it to me on the sly, but I swear when our hands touched it was like fire. Not pain, warmth. Comfort. I slipped it in my pocket.

    I don't eat cheese on odd numbered days. That's going to be big. That might be it, right there.

    I never pick up change. Someone needs it more. Unless it's a penny. Give it to a friend, then my luck will never end.

    My pockets are stuffed with trinkets and magic pebbles and lucky bolts I've found. Soft down feathers left in tree branch clutches. I tap the center of my chest three times, cross my left fingers in my back pocket. Nod twice. "Howdy." He knows.

    The ticket almost glows. It's the one. Sure, you've thought that before, but this time you know it. You put the ticket in your right breast pocket, snap it secure. Gonna be a tough wait for the evening news, that's for sure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ohhhh... I like this. and I forgot to pick up a lottery ticket. Dammit.
      Back to writing... you have an awesome ear for the rhythm of language, you know?

      Delete
    2. Good point.... like the post office....

      Delete
    3. Yes, much love for this. Has an easy lilt and rhythm and something quietly... what? Something. It's something. And by that I mean something good. :)

      Delete
  8. You couldn't have done it any other day? Nah, you died at Christmas. Ate like you were starving, blamed your wife for your getting overweight, lit your cigar, sat in your rocker to take a nap, and then you had a coronary.
    On Christmas Day.
    Your timing always did suck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is so stark. It fits the story perfectly, the tone. I like the implied complicity and "blame".

      Timing is everything.

      Delete
    2. Again, ditto what JD said. Also, I"m always impressed when someone can say so much with so few words.

      Delete
  9. Do you remember Christmas Eve in Cologne? The hymns, sung in German, floating across the icy air? I told you about my grandpa singing the same hymns when I was a boy. You and I played chase on the ice in the square and nearly slipped and hurt ourselves. You fell upon me and your heat bled through layers and layers of winter clothes.
    We sat up laughing. You reached in your pocket, found a small box, and said "Here, for you."
    I opened it. A ring--how did you know my size? Simple, gold. It took me a minute to say thank you and almost no time at all for you to say "It is nothing."
    Now, five years later, in an empty house, I realize how right you were.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. This is such a strong piece. You write love so well. And heartache. :(

      Delete
    2. Agreed. And you do second person well too.

      Delete
    3. Thanks, gentlemen! I appreciate that!

      Delete
    4. Ouch. That last line whammy. So perfectly painful.

      Delete
  10. I was five and it was Christmas once again, and we were at the grandparent's house a thousand miles away in Montana. Mom had gussied all us girls up in little matching dresses made from one of Grandma's old tablecloths, and we had big red sashes around our waists. We looked forward to those flour-dusty hugs of Grandma's apron and her large arms... she must have been strong in her day but her muscles had faded to soft all-encompassing comfort just for us, her granddaughters! As we drove up to the warm bungalow with smoke gently escaping from the chimney, we could see her out on the top step, standing in a few inches of snow, arms outstretched and smiling, awaiting our arrival.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah. This is beautiful and reminded me so much of both my grandmothers - very different women, but I loved them. You captured the Grandmother magic perfectly. "flour-dusty hugs" - Yes!

      Delete
    2. You caught my grandmother in here, too... and flour dusty hugs was my favorite phrase, too!

      Delete
    3. Yep. Made me miss my grandmother.

      Delete
  11. Suddenly untethered, you float. Your feet scramble to gain control as the wind takes the basket. It swings left to right, up and down, as does your stomach and that mistake of a breakfast. You soar. You don’t know the destination; it has been kept a careful secret. Others have speculated on where you’ll end up; it was discussed and argued and voted upon in several meetings of which you had no knowledge and you were just chosen for this mission, given your blind orders and a packet of clothing to wear. They own your damned soul so you obey; they are holding something valuable of yours hostage and you have not been told what that is but you know it’s important otherwise you wouldn’t be thinking so hard about it, you wouldn’t be putting on the thermal underwear and flight suit and helmet if this were just a lark, a trick, a double-dog-dare. This goes beyond triple-dog-date. This is war. This is all out balls out war and your are flying now, above the power lines, above the trees, above the mountains, above the weather, above the clouds, and stars dot in the blackness and the chill bites your nose and ears. You pull your hood tighter and duck your head and wrap your arms around your body and it’s not enough, you feel like you will freeze to death and for what, for why? What is the thing they have on you, why did you feel you needed to go all in on this mission or die? The others? Feeling connected? Being connected? Is it that important? But you are untethered here, you have no destination, and you’re staring to worry that you will never return, that it was all a trap, that they were looking for some poor soul with nothing on the ground and his head already in the air, so nobody would miss him and nobody would be the wiser. You feel a little lightheaded, all of a sudden, the air harder to breath, the cold air sticking your nostrils together, crisping the ends of your eyelashes. It’s over now, isn’t it? That’s why they chose you. But they were clever. They had to make it seem like your idea. Like you were bold and brave and volunteered for this mission. This is war. The power lines are a long ago memory. The trees, the fond farewell, the cat you patted on the head and left for the girl next door to watch, the mail you stopped having delivered, the paperwork you signed. You’re never coming home and you know that now and somehow, deep in your heart, that’s okay, because they chose well. They chose someone untethered, someone the world didn’t need, someone who wouldn’t be missed. Not even by the cat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ohmigod, Laurie... this is heartbreakingly awesome.... I have no idea how you got into the head of that second person narrator, but you did.... and you described what friends of mine who went on such missions have described.... this is phenomenal.

      Delete
    2. And untethered is the perfect choice of words.

      Delete
    3. Yeah, this is epic. Uncomfortable in its honestly and beautiful for the same reason. Well played, G.

      Delete
    4. Very, very nice! Can you tell how you did that in 2minutes? My stream of consciousness is rather sluggish by comparison. Seriously, though, Good stuff!'

      Delete
    5. Thanks...that was about four minutes, and I type fast. :D

      Delete
    6. I was there, every moment, felt every gust of wind, saw each star. Gorgeous, Laurie.

      Delete
  12. Rock a bye baby, in the tree tops... tonight's hit parade of lullabyes brought to you by Daddy, the one who protects you against everything. But he can't protect you against yourself little one, all he can do is to try and make you believe in you no matter what anyone says. You might not be Einstein, you might not be Steinem, but you're you and you're Daddy's little girl and they better not hurt you. See that picture there? That smile on that guy's face? That's me holding you right after you were born. You're the one with the closed eyes. I'm the one with the face that's well-worn.
    When you get older, we're going to see the ballet and the symphony and we're going to the zoo and we're going to rock concerts together you and me. When it's time to date, I'm gonna interview that guy--or that girl--like there's no tomorrow. What are your intentions, we'll start off with, and if the answer is anything other than love your daughter for the rest of time I'll kick 'em out the door.
    I love you baby. In a tree top. And that bough ain't gonna break, 'cause Daddy's here and he's gonna make it all right for you as long as he can. And if you fall, Daddy's gonna catch you.
    G'night little one. G'night.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is beautiful. Got me all teary. :)

      Delete
    2. "But he can't protect you against yourself little one, all he can do is to try and make you believe in you no matter what anyone says."

      That's the stuff. <3

      Delete
    3. It's a good thing I don't have kids.... they'd hear so many bits of advice

      Delete
  13. You stand with your hand over your heart, and you feel good about it. You don't always, but on cold fall evenings with the stadium lights - hell, it feels good and there isn't time or reason to question it. There's steam coming off your pads and, hate it or love it, it's about to happen and it's real as hell. No doubt about that. Real things are important.

    After the hot shower washes off the sweat and blood, after the ankle-tape comes off, then you can think about it - what it really means. You'll think about that forever, but in the moment - there's no alternative to gall and aggression. It's game time. So you strap on your helmet and put your mouthguard in. It tastes like dirt and grass. Game time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gritty and honest. The Mader trademarks.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, brother. If I ever end up with a tombstone, they can carve that shit on it and I'll be happy. :)

      Delete
    3. LOL... maybe you oughta have it tattooed somewhere, too.

      Delete
    4. How about:

      Gritty and honest. Tastes like dirt and grass.

      ;)

      Delete
  14. You ask me if I love you? Let's talk about what love is before I answer yes or no. Yeah, love's about the heat of passion, but not just about the sex, which, by the way, you're pretty good at. Inspirational even, but it's not just about that. It's about the sobbing I feel through your skin when you listen to Tchaikovsky, it's about the tears I see that haven't fallen when you watch the news, it's about hearing you read Dickinson aloud as if her words were your own. It's about the funny laugh lines that someday will be permanent around your innocent eyes that aren't really all that innocent at all. It's about how when you ask me how my day was you stop and listen.
    It's about how I feel when we're both cold and clinging to each other, it's about taking turns driving up the coast, it's about movies where our hands find each other on their own. It's about buttered popcorn burned in the microwave and how we both laugh about it. It's fighting for the covers on a winter night and both of us making sure the dog is fed.
    Do I love you? Yeah, as long as we're clear on what love means. You hold my heart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Man, this is gorgeous. This line is SO good: "It's about the sobbing I feel through your skin when you listen to Tchaikovsky" - the whole thing is Ace.

      Delete
    2. I feel foolish again, but yeah, what Mader said (except I'd lowercase "ace"). :)

      Delete
    3. LOL, unless Ace is someone he knows... thanks!

      Delete
    4. It is all the little things that count... and you have expressed that so well!

      Delete
  15. What's it about. Son, this ain't about nothing. You see this scar? You know how I got that scar? No? I don't either. THAT'S what it's about. Fuck the reason you got the medal, you earned it. Somehow.

    Don't look at me like a shit-stained goose. What? You think I'm crazy. I can show you crazy. I can show you all the crazy you want, and you'll shake your head and think: well, fuck, there ARE people who think that crazy shit.

    Pound of flesh. I've given more. Years and years, one dollop at a time. You add it up, and it would be a hell of a lot more than a pound, though. Count on that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "one dollop at a time"... yep, you give it just like that... and I like how you channel the old geezer even though you're a youngster.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, G. I'm a young geezer. ;)

      Delete
    3. I like that.... a young geezer...

      Delete
  16. Okay, okay. you've all inspired me! Gimme a minute to meditate...

    ReplyDelete
  17. Only one night before, and a world ago, Ted Bauer sat on Santa’s throne at Thompson’s Toys Ahoy Shoppe distributing pink-wrapped and blue-wrapped presents to awe-struck children. The long line of Bird Creek parents, their youngsters in tow, delighted him. Once a year, Pete’s gift to him: “Be our Santa.”

    So many yuletide seasons since he and Pete Thompson served in Vietnam! Where did the years go? They’d fought in the same dwindling squad, brushed shoulders with death, survived and returned home only to confront the proverbial fork in the road and go their separate ways.

    Pete joined his dad at Thompson’s Toys Ahoy until his old man died and he inherited the shop. Meanwhile, his war buddy Ted took the road sadly traveled upon, staggering over sharp stones, tripping, falling, standing up again, that ubiquitous dark whiskey bottle gripped tightly in his hand.

    Now the Eve has dissipated into Christmas morn. On the park bench Ted lies snoring in his tattered coat. Gone the red suit, black sack, hearty ho-ho-ho’s, and that long white beard the children playfully tried to yank free.

    What is Ted dreaming? What springs of hopelessness wash down and waste away his boyhood sugar plums?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, sweetly mournful. Even Santa has his dreams. Even Santa has his pain.

      Delete
    2. A strong statement on the reality of promises kept and promises broken.

      Delete
    3. Yes, mournful indeed. Lovely piece, Salvatore.

      Delete
    4. Yeah. Just beautiful. Indeed.

      Delete
  18. Christmas is past and the new year is just around the corner. She finds herself unusually, and unaccountably, optimistic. She is certain that the next year will be her year, an epic year full of good things. A tiny voice in the back of her head cautions her against such optimism. "You'll be doubly disappointed when things go wrong," it says. But she shushes it and goes on being hopeful. More than hopeful, because it's not hope but certainty of good things that she feels.

    Perhaps, she muses, that is the key. There is, after all, a great deal of power in positive thinking. Maybe the trick to making it a happy new year is to know without doubt, without question, without reasons, that it will be the happiest of new years.

    So believing, she lets go of her plans and schemes and resolves to let the year take her where it will, knowing that wherever it leads will be not only where she needs to go but someplace good and right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed. And she sounds all too familiar.

      Delete
    2. I like the contemplative feel to this.

      Delete
    3. Ah, that feeling as if the other shoe will drop any moment. Don't we all have those moments? And yet, boldly choosing optimism instead! It is that moment of bravery, to actively take responsibility to go forth undaunted. Well done!

      Delete
  19. 'Member when we used ot play cowboys and Indians? I was Tonto and you were the Lone Ranger. We practiced Hi Ho Silver Away until our moms kicked us out of the house and then we yelled it louder. I didn't find out till years later that Tonto's horse was named Scout, because I never thought we'd ride on separate horses, we'd just share Silver and ride off into the sunset together.
    I used to go to sleep imagining holding on to you as we rode that horse together, feeling your back against my front.
    Then we learned to play GI Joe. You were a better soldier than me. I wanted to protect you but I could never kill anything. A sissy, I guess. You were always the hero, but you went on to play GI Joe in real life and I imagined that you'd come back for me and we'd move on to Family Affair and you could be the uncle and I could be Mr. French the guy who kept their house and we'd have kids and cats and dogs and all that stuff.
    What we didn't practice, though, was how GI Joe ended. They never told me you'd come home in a box. So I'm just gonna pretend that we're riding off into the sunset together, kids and dolls and dogs all running to catch up, and me hugging you all the way west.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved it, Leland! and re: your next story? I ain't old, so YOU can't be!

      Delete
    2. This is awesome, my friend. I love it.

      Delete
    3. Heartbreaking, but beautiful.

      Delete
  20. She's living on our sofa now. And there is a sadness that clings to her.Settles over her shoulders and around the lines of her mouth. She writes on her job applications: I have recently emerged from an abusive relationship." Abused. My baby sister. And I wonder how that happened. Fifteen years and the son of a bitch moves another woman into his house--into his bed. When she called the women's shelter--he called the cops and accused her of stealing from him. I won't be left with NOTHING! You fucking BITCH!
    She lives here now, trying to stay invisible, not wanting to piss us off. And carries her sadness silently, like a coat thrown over her shoulders when she steps outside to smoke.But there is more to her, too.I asked if she wanted to go to church on Christmas and she shook her head. "Naw, we can pray here. Just as long as everybody remembers to pray for ME."
    And then she laughed in the face of all her uncertainty. And there was a light in her eyes that are so like my mother's.
    There is a sadness to her,
    But she is far from done,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This: "And carries her sadness silently, like a coat thrown over her shoulders when she steps outside to smoke," and this: "But she is far from done" ripped my heart out and then lit a candle of hope.... great...

      Delete
    2. Yeah, that last line. So understated yet so powerful in its way.

      Delete
    3. Agreed. The whole piece is rad. So glad you stopped by to play. :)

      Delete
    4. Exactly, exactly what Leland said. So honest, so real, and that bit of hope at the end...well done.

      Delete
  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No actual story was removed from this thread; instead, it was an inexpertly placed comment that belonged elsewhere. We regret any inconvenience to our readers.

      Delete
  22. He woke under a sky that was a puzzlement. No immense swan soared across that black night, no northern sigil of a messianic creed, nor even the great why of Cassiopeia. Orion's flapping sheet had sailed on or, worse, was yet to sail.

    He wished for clouds. Ghost-white shoals to make of the night a cataract to blind itself to the strangeness of this antic new void.

    On the iron desert pan writhed a manshape of sorts, wreathed in a bloodcaul, seeming to search for purchase in a world without currency. Blind. Uterine. Articulated limbs and joints or things less wonted yet, angular as imperatives, stretched the wet sac in sundry places, and whatever sought its birth here mewled appallingly.

    Nothing had to become, no positing need quicken, even at this late juncture.

    He scanned the makeshift ground for a weapon. Finding none he followed the bloodtrails of the blind pups into the hills so as to dispatch them between bootheel and the igneous floor, their sad soft heads compliant under his implacable decree.

    Returning he kneeled and bared his teeth to midwife the abomination, a mad satire of a doula a-squat on this cracked unyielding earth.

    It fought its way into a lifespan curtailed, its face mostly mouth, its lunar eyes sightless. It was devoid of the skin necessary for the bufferment of the world's pain and it shrieked like an ice age wind howling through a low brake, and even the mountain wolves were dumbfounded into silence.

    It climbed unsteady to a semblance of upright, still screaming.

    The man stood on the sneering lip of the world, clasped the thing's dripping hand, and together they plummeted toward the dry, rough, upraised palms of an indifferent giant.

    ****

    "… of this popular Southwestern tourist attraction. It seems the man had some kind of psychotic break, causing him to blind and mutilate his wife of thirteen years—the latter in ways we can't describe on television—before completing a murder-suicide the full five hundred feet to the canyon floor. Police continue to search for the tragic couple's two young children. I'm Ramsey Farris and this is WTAF News, Arizona."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is just this madness in the desert....Been there, lived there, know it. Understand its power and you got it down, dude.

      Delete
    2. I love this landscape; to me it's haunted and yes, mad. Thanks, Teresa!

      Delete
    3. That was epic. It must be extra frustrating for you to live in this illiterate world. Deadly.

      Delete
    4. Don't know, really. I been playing my guitar more lately, even though I basically suck at it. Not sure how that relates, lol.

      But did anyone get my WTAF joke? I did that to try and make it less awful. Those soft heads :(

      Delete
  23. On him, old age was a cloak of invisibility. With each passing year, fewer and fewer people saw him. Weekly visits from the neighbors became monthly, then yearly. He made the trip to the mail box every day, hoping there would be something other than a plea for donations for some charity in South America. There wasn't.
    He shrank from his six-foot stature to 5'10", and then to 5'8" as his back began to hunch.
    The town folk said he talked to himself. They didn't know he was talking to his brother, dead some forty years now.
    One day, the UPS man stopped by and recognized the smell of decaying flesh. They said he was dead.
    They didn't know he dreamed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I enjoy your twists and they way they are delivered.

      Delete
    2. Thank you! Sometimes I worry that I overdo them a bit... I'm working on that. I mean, it IS possible to do flash fiction without a twist at the end, right?

      Delete
    3. I like the twist. This is a bang of an ending, too.

      Delete
    4. I like the twist here. I like them in general. Probably because you do them so well.

      Delete
  24. The Sacrament of Reconciliation:
    In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Guilt. Bless me father, for I have sinned.
    Then I work too hard for too long, thinking of what I have done.
    Yes? The silhouette behind the screen inquires.
    It's not anything specific...not a commandment or anything. I don't know what to say.
    I feel so stupid. I don't know why I have come.
    What do you mean, he asks. His voice is an old man's voice. He breathes patiently. The sound is shallow and without judgment.
    And suddenly it comes to me. I cough, too loudly and am inexplicably moved to sudden tears.
    "I have no faith, I say. Or my faith fails me. It just occurs to me that every other sin I ever committed in my whole life was because of that. Because I couldn't believe anything would get better, or change, or I had to protect myself, or lie. Or whatever. Every sin is that same sin, isn't it? So maybe there's just the one.
    A Long pause and I can feel his kindness coming through the screen. He rises and pauses and opens the sliding door between us.
    I can see him very clearly now. He smiles.
    "I know that sin very well," he says.
    "And we are BOTH forgiven."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. <3 "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guilt" <-- such an awesome phrase. The whole piece was great.

      Delete
  25. Snowflakes spiralled down from the sky, obliterating the unsightly scarring of the town, transforming it into a wondrous decoration. Above, the moon shone through a gap in the clouds, shining through the frosted filigree of a spider's web, its shadow invisible on the snow-covered lawn.

    Inside, Anais had her face pressed to the window, her nostrils warming the air to form two roughly oval patches of mist on the glass. It was their first snow of the year and it was Christmas. Stepping to the door, she pushed it open, shivering when the cold air hit her but standing still defiantly. To hell with the weather. This was Winter at her most beautiful.

    Closing the door behind her, she bathed in the moon's monochromatic gaze. Single again, but a woman feeling alive and in love with life itself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm enamored of snow, and your imagery touched me.

      Delete
    2. Beautiful imagery... and I love the moon's monochromatic gaze...

      Delete
    3. I agree with DA. You found something and you're playing with it now. It's working.

      Delete
    4. Beautiful imagery. Beautiful sentiment, too. :)

      Delete
  26. "Some folks just don't get it," she sighed, leaning her forearms on the podium. "I'm not supposed to say anything about this to you all, but someone has to." She looked out over the sea of faces in the amphitheater.

    "If you want respect for your faith, you have to give respect to others. When our country was founded, it was with the belief that each individual had a right to worship in his own way. Yes, it's sexist to say it that way, but this was over 2 hundred years ago."

    Pushing off from the podium, she walked slowly to the far end of the stage and back as she spoke. She did her best to relax, not telegraph, but the subject was a sore one.

    "As time passed, Christianity took a good foothold, publicly. Other belief structures remained understated, private, not shoved onto anyone unwillingly. It became a common belief that Christianity was the dominant religion here, and no one really bothered to argue or campaign against it, again, publicly, except those who did so in a negative and detrimental way." She scanned the faces before her, finding interest and boredom and hostility fairly evenly spaced out. "You all should know my now that I am Pagan. I don't try to hide it, and I openly wear the symbol of my Faith. However, I don't discuss it here. This is not the place for it. I do not base any decisions on your grades on your individual beliefs. For most of you, I do not know what you believe."

    She paced some more. "It has come to my attention that someone on this campus is of the negative and detrimental variety. You should all be aware that the campus chapel has erected a Nativity display for the holidays. Someone has stolen the baby Jesus from the scene." There were a few angry looks, more were surprised, but there was no guilt that she could discern. "He was replaced with a pig's head."

    Gasps of surprise and murmurs flooded from the audience.

    "If I find that one of my own students had any part in this, I will zero out your grade. I may be more lenient in light of a confession and assistance to the police in supplying information. All of you will owe me a paper when you return from holiday break on a topic related to this incident, what kind of mind would be driven to commit such an act, and why. Minimum 1000 words, maximum 10,000. Before you complain, remember that you signed up for my courses, you asked to be taught about psychology."

    She glared at them all. "Prove it."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whoa! fascinating premise and fascinating ending. Good set-up for tension, and you wrote to it. Well done!

      Delete
    2. Yep, I'm the dittohead. What can I say.

      Delete
    3. Also a dittohead. Just wanted to add that you drew me in from the start and didn't let go.

      Delete
  27. As you sit in her kitchen, in the pink chair that had been yours whenever you visited, the tea grows cold; the cookies, unappealing from the start, go untouched. She bites at her lower lip and shifts on her own chair, the blue one, bringing one leg up underneath the other in that flexible way you always envied when you were two couples palling around, four friends, having dinner, going to movies, and not this weird broken-up semi-rhombus of a thing. Her gaze lands somewhere over your right shoulder. No doubt she is wondering when you plan to leave town so she can start breathing again and stop telling half-truths to her husband. You clear your throat, swallow, and gather your courage. It is why you’d flown in from Boston with an oversized duffel and one change of clothing. “He took some of my things,” you say. “I know they’re here.” You don’t really want to put her in the middle but in a way she’s been the silent partner, and you feel justified in calling her out. She gives the slightest nod, looking off into the distance as she rises. And when she returns with the items your ex had absconded with, a cloud passes over her face, and in that shift, you know that once you walk out that door, you will never see her again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is good stuff... and honest and true. And you can feel the wistfulness that even after all of this, the "you" wishes that they might see each other again. This line, "this weird broken-up semi-rhombus of a thing." is nothing short of brilliant.

      Delete
    2. Yup, I already copied it - weird broken-up semi-rhombus of a thing. Dope. The whole piece is real and hard. Brilliant.

      Delete
  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Someday, I'll learn how to comment ON the story, not some place BELOW the story.

      Delete
  29. It's a vicious game we play, degraded. I don't think you lied outright, but you hedged and shaded, you drew blind all the light, heart-joy afternoons. I remember. We all remember. And what of dread? What of sadness? What of a longing that tastes like sour grass?

    You picked your piece and that's the truth. You can run or stick. You can jump and fly and cry and cry and cry. Ain't no one listening and I'm only devoting one hand, so sorry if this comes off flippant, but I gotta say that there are a lotta good folks doing a lot of good things, and I hope one day you meet one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brilliantly expressed. I know that person, that situation all too well.

      Delete
    2. Yep <3 also... and adding "degraded" to the opening sentence was brilliant.

      Delete
  30. The sun had begun to sink below the horizon, smearing streaks of pink and orange and dotting blotches of purplish-grey onto the pale blue canvas of the sky. The air was tuning cooler as the encroaching night spirited away what little heat the day had offered. The wind was picking up, too. Soon it would be far too cold to stay outside, and too dark to see much of anything. Until then, though, he would stay where he was, the damp chill from the marble slab under him seeping though his faded jeans. He would watch the colors drain from the sky and listen to the wind sighing through the trees. He would think of her, as he did every day, but for this one night he would allow himself to feel. To miss her. To mourn.

    Only when the last of the light had faded and his rump was numb with cold did he finally stand and shake off the heaviness that had settled into his limbs. He took a few steps and laid his hand on another, taller chunk of marble and forced out the first words he'd spoken in hours: "Happy anniversary."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, man. Right in the heart. Well played.

      Delete
    2. Ahhh.... a beautiful piece, beauty in its pain.

      Delete
    3. What they said. So lovely and sad.

      Delete

Please leave comments. Good, bad or ugly. Especially ugly.