You open your eyes and see the sun peaking beneath the skirt hem of low clouds. The ambitious birdcall pulls you in, and you track the conversation from pine tree to pine tree. No one else is awake yet, and that's just fine. This is a magic time, when fish are focused and hungry.
Time moves slower. Tea tastes better. You breathe the pine scent deep inside you.
There are so many marathon days. So many days where you are content to place your feet and count your strides and check your mile times. This is not that kind of day. This day will be a leisurely stroll through high grasses.
You know the fish are waiting, but you take a few minutes to just be still. To be part of the tableau. There is beauty in this, for you are but one small piece of an immense tapestry. Don't resist the pull of stasis. There are answers in the stillness that you didn't realize you were looking for.
I love that you always leave us gold nuggets. Like this one, "Don't resist the pull of stasis. There are answers in the stillness that you didn't realize you were looking for."ReplyDelete
One of the great things about this piece, and your work in general, is that the word choices, the rhythm, and everything else all works together to make the reader FEEL the emotion or the vibe of the piece. This one is serene. I'm not sure how you do that, but it's hellacool.
I already started mine with sun and birds and trees and even a mysterious pull, and then I read yours! How often do we all end up on some shared wavelength here? So weird. I love this, though. Contemplative, meditative. Like fishing!Delete
This is marvelous. I felt wrapped in the scents and the stillness, immersed in the vibe. Thank you.Delete
This is idyllic. I can imagine this so clearly; the brush strokes you've used are so evocative and hit home accurately - to mix metaphors a little. It feels like you're setting us for a jump-scare though, but that's a reflection of me rather than you in this instance. I love this - it's excellent writing, Dan.Delete
Such a pleasant surprise to leave this place feeling calm and peaceful.ReplyDelete
It’s still March; the sun doesn’t climb high, yet the trees try to lift it. Testing thermals, an eagle tries to pull it skyward with its wing draft, to reciprocate. They reach a kind of equilibrium no one is sure they want.ReplyDelete
Which is but one way to tell of our world now. Forces pulling, even friendly ones, others pushing, anxious of upsetting an unacknowledged balance, of tipping some unseen fulcrum. Like bison on the plains, leaning top heavy and narrow-eyed into horizontal snowfall, bracing for the calamity we only dimly discern.
The people of the village tell us not to go past the Corner, Marla and me. Never venture beyond where the road curves, that grey loop turning up the side of the hill, a ghost’s cursive. How can they not know such beseechments only make transgression more beguiling?
“What lies past the Corner?” we ask.
“A thing spawned by mischance,” they say and cross themselves.
All stockpiled quicksilver valour, uncontainable as a reactor core, Marla will go past the Corner. The inevitability of this dark, compact girl I love. Have loved since we were measured by weight not height and first touched fingertips and laughed, before we grew into language and even became human. The question is, will I dare follow?
“I’m a crone now, a dry slate headland buffeted by too many tides. You ask me why I’m angry? This isn’t anger; it’s bafflement. How about this? I used to believe there was someone counting all the insects, ready at some allotted time to sound the great alarm, to urge us to some agreed upon response when thresholds were crossed. Action. Some coordinated effort. I mean, there are people watching the corals bleach, and they’re distraught, they cry onscreen as they tell us with voices shook full of woe, but we watch until the end and the credits roll. And the credits roll. And the credits fucking roll. Until the great irony of the real ending dawns on us, when we realize there are no credits, just this infinite debit. Not even a theme song. Only silence. Silence. Like the universe didn’t pay its Netflix fees.”
The answer now; here it is, all these years later: Marla might have led, but we have all begun—some of us trembling, others sorrowful, a few even smiling and stepping light of foot and without care—to round the Corner, no one able to say or even know if this is sayonara or a strange and even hopeful kind of hello.
Love it. The word choices and the images and the universe not paying its Netflix bill. And the credits fucking roll.Delete
And then there's David. I always love the way you write - as panoramic as the photos you share and with detail enough to invite you in and make you feel at home. There's grit beneath the facade though; these people are as real as anyone you might care to meet, and the whole makes you want to take a seat and watch the events take place. Fabulous as always, David.Delete
Wow, this one leaves me kind of stunned. SO many cool images and twists. I love the ghost cursive - I started pulling other lines, but it turned into the whole piece. I love this. Not a word wasted. Just right.Delete
He closes another door. The noise gets quieter. The world seems better for him rejecting it. The many-headed hydra buzzes at his window, pressing its many faces against the glass.ReplyDelete
He turns away.
His mood lifts - he notices Nature. There are birds and there are flowers, persisting. He takes off his watch and grinds it under his heel, rejecting the symbol it represents. A muted roaring threading through the clouds: he ignores the winged cylinder, the people it carries.
Nothing to do with him. He abstracts himself from it all, the everyday chatter and fuss, the busy making, the noise that disguises the message. He has no need for them now, if he ever did.
They are all distractions. Blood in the water he drinks. A metallic taste, laced with pain. He chooses to remove them from his attention.
He walks. He pushes his hands into his pockets, creating a bunching of the material. Denim, with a cotton lining, discoloured by time. He has keys to open doors, plastic cards, paper – lots of that – all of it seeking to distance him from this moment, other people, life and the air he breathes. He is alone, despite all these - they are encumbrances.
The pathway rises. The white-noise ebbs away by degrees. He sees soil and hedges and unmanicured trees. He takes a breath and tastes nothing.
He is alive.
Wow. So powerful. I love the rhythm, especially that last paragraph. I so want to follow this guy.Delete
Dittohead, but I agree with Laurie. Every word.Delete
The flow of this piece is awesome. I love the detached feel of it, too. I also want to see where this was headed. You are so good at getting the hook in.Delete
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Yulia eyes Maksym, who sits bathed in the shadows that fall from the flickering lights, and smudges in more charcoal where it’s needed. In the hollows of his cheekbones and clavicles. Even in the thick, lumpy scar that runs diagonally across his chest, a souvenir—as he calls it—from the last war. Does he know how beautiful he is? No. Men never know these things. Well…some know. Those are the ones who hurt you. This man is still a puzzle to her, more than one simply to be deconstructed and reassembled on her sketchpad, even though he’s one of her favorite models—when he’s not out fighting the Russians. Thinking about the danger he faces on the outside tightens her stomach.ReplyDelete
“You could have left, with the others,” he says, as if he can read her thoughts. “I don’t know why you would have stayed.”
“I stay…” She is suddenly conscious of the press of time. When will the sirens go off? When will the upstairs neighbors be arriving? She rents the entire basement, such as it is, and they bring whatever food and water and blankets and flashlights they can find, everyone pitching in to care for one another. She teaches the children to draw; it calms them, and there’s no shortage of charcoal. But right now she scolds her selfishness for just wanting to complete Maksym’s portrait. At least then he could put his shirt back on and not have to endure the cold.
He has endured enough. They all have.
“It is where I’m from,” she says, her voice shaking. “It’s what I know. I will not run scared.” She stands straighter. “I will not run from that khuylo.”
He grins, deepening the shadows on his face in a way that is not unpleasant. “Putin khulyo.”
“I want to shout it from the rooftop,” she says. “The way they do at the football games.” She looks at the unfinished drawing, and lets her shoulders drop. No more. She has lost the thread. “You might as well get dressed. You must be freezing.”
“It is nothing,” he says. As he stands. As he reaches for the bulky sweater he’d draped across a wooden chair.
The action moves something in her, heightens his unselfconscious beauty. “Wait.”
Maksym looks up, eyes deep and soft. Asking a question.
“We still have time,” she says, stepping closer, her voice silent in the underground depths. “Yes?”
I love your people, Laurie. They're always so well observed. You've such skill in writing dialogue and capturing the way people think. You're another one of our regulars who display such a huge ability to catch a reader's attention and then keep them engaged, the only problem being that you never seem to write enough. Great work, Laurie. And as always, I want more!Delete
That phrase did indeed start with Ukrainian football ultras, so that's a nice detail. Your research, even for flash pieces, is always so meticulous. And again, I agree with Mark this time. All this work trying to leave comments on the site, and I turn into a dittohead!Delete
I agree. You have a facility for placing characters and revealing them. Such a delicate touch.Delete
Petyr bit his lip. He couldn’t get his grandfather to look right, and time was too short. The battle was getting closer; even though their home was now little more than a pile of bricks, the ground it had rested on was still valuable territory. The enemy soldiers wouldn’t hesitate; they’d shoot first and shoot again if they saw movement.ReplyDelete
It seemed disrespectful, nonetheless. Bernhard deserved better than this. He deserved to be put to rest with the consideration due to a man of his age. He was one of the original characters in the town, one of the men who’d fought in the second great war like his father had in the one before, a hero who’d come home hoping it would never happen again. The price that his generation had paid then had been too dear for the peace they’d won. Too much blood and too many tears, and too few benefits for the ones who’d follow. Their battles had to be fought and be won, but unnecessary deaths were never a solution.
Especially now. Especially now, when his death had been indiscriminate, a casualty of a bombing where his attacker had ended his life without thought. One moment he’d been committing his memories to the ground, not wanting them to be despoiled, then the next he was among them himself, his blood and his bones interred without grace, his life suddenly forfeit.
And now, he lay dead in the dark, incomplete. He would have died with honour, given the chance.
“Petyr. We’ve got to go. There’s no time.”
Lidiya took his hand, their fingers intertwined. She wasn’t used to being refused. She wasn’t used to being homeless either, but that would soon change. The unthinkable would become commonplace, there were no limits to how low they would fall.
Anna took his other hand, leading him away. They were a family unit of three now, their histories limited to the little they could carry while they ran.
Their personal prestige had all been forfeit. Their survival was in doubt. They could only hope they’d live long enough to be able to grieve.
A helicopter gunship rose like a banshee, thundering rotors and blazing lights. It picked out the buildings one by one. Its gunnery sergeant was sparing with his shots. They must have been tracking heat signatures because they only strafed where there was life, cannon shells thundering into the rubble where people had most recently been.
And so, they fled into the dark, waiting for the shots that would end them.
Oh, this is so raw and heartbreaking. Beautifully done.Delete
Agreed. Super heartbreaking. Super real. I think it is one of the obligations of writing to give voice to these hardships and stories we never see.Delete
“Hey, lady,” he said, flashing a smile, cautious but wide enough to show the gold. “You here about the feets?”
I nodded, surprised he needed to ask. This wasn’t the Pacific North-West, but I’d been here before. And yes, I’d been on TV as well.
He set off across the beach, knowing I’d follow.
“You get many down here in Hermosa?” He had the sun behind him, so I had to squint, but I knew he’d be studying me carefully.
“Not many,” I said. “And the police like me to keep it quiet when I do. ‘It’s not good for investment,’ they always say, so unless you want to draw their attention, it might be better that you remain 'an undisclosed source'.”
“And the money?” I could imagine him weighing up the risk, doing a cost-benefit analysis.
“Slim to zero, without your name,” I said, shrugging. “Who do you think we are – National Geographic?”
He cursed under his breath, and I knew it was a toss-up whether he’d follow through. But even a few dollars would be worth his time.
He stopped short, his gaze calculating as he ran through the options.
“Maybe if you come back tomorrow,” he mused, guile colouring his tone. “These ones have been all chewed over by sharks.” He shuddered and then grinned again. “But I can do you a better deal if you wait. Give me a good price – I might even be able to get you a pair that match.”
Woah, this one is really interesting and spooky. I would love to watch this one unravel. So many places it could go.Delete