Mid-week flash challenge, week 63

Posted in Uncategorized on July 11, 2018 by drmagoo

For some, the future was cloudy, but I knew what I wanted. I knew which path was the right one for me. They tried to talk me out of it, did my friends, my family, passersby. “There are better ways,” they’d cry. But there weren’t. Who were they to tell me what to do? They didn’t know my heart. They didn’t know the lengths I’d go to in order to achieve my goals. Some, I’m sure, thought I’d fail. That I’d come back to them, broken, and they’d have the job of rebuilding me, of keeping me together as the sinews of my life weakened. Others, I know, thought I’d succeed, and pass into something they didn’t understand. They would understand though, each in their own time. We all transcend, but explaining what it’s like on the other side of the wall is like explaining flight to a stick. It wouldn’t know – couldn’t understand – until it was thrown, and then it would be changed forever.

I stood on the beach, contemplating the bridge into the deep. It was time for my journey. I took one step, and then another. They screamed behind me, begging me to stop, but I was in a different place, I inhabited a different way of being, I had a different journey than they did. They couldn’t reach me in time, and for that, I smiled. As the water rose over my mouth I didn’t doubt. As I covered my nose, I breathed deeply, though I choked. Death was just the final step of life, and it was my turn. I was glad.

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ThursThreads, week 312

Posted in Uncategorized on April 26, 2018 by drmagoo

The vaguely reduced grey of daytime begins, and so do the voices. Since yelling into my hole would only produce a cacophony of echoes, they’ve installed a speaker by which I can hear. Today, the message was worthlessness. Why I shouldn’t be allowed to exist, even here. Person after person comes by, taking time out of their day to tell me how my life, here at the bottom of a thousand foot hole, offends their sensibilities. I have no microphone with which to respond, no hands to cover my ears. I hear every word, every snarl. I’ve grown used to the hate. When that’s all there is, it’s easy. I lie on my floor. I lap at the nutritional liquid they pool next to my head twice a day. And I listen.

I deserve to be down here, of course. It was a justice that they finally saw through my shell of adequacy and sent me to this home. Here I will rot under the weight of a thousand mistakes and ten thousand failures to be a better person.

The voices come, one after another, from what passes as my dawn to what passes as my dusk. At night, I ponder what they say to me, to know why I deserve to be in my hole.

If only one person would wonder, would ask, would say “you okay down there,” I would break. Thankfully, no one cares for me, and no one should. And the voices keep coming.

#ThursThreads, week 306

Posted in Uncategorized on March 8, 2018 by drmagoo

Prompt: https://www.siobhanmuir.com/siobhans-blog/thursthreads-tying-tales-together-week-306

She knelt down in the corner of the closet, pressing herself into the walls, making her body as small as she could. Corners always held onto smells and textures differently than walls and big open rooms where people walked and talked and yelled and hit. The carpet was still soft here, and she dug her knees into the rough pile, feeling the give of the padding underneath. She wiped the blood from her face, blood that was running down from her eyes like tears. ‘I’m blind now,’ she thought, ‘I can’t see anymore.’ And she was glad. No longer would she see hope draining from her life. No longer would she see her future vanishing a little bit more every day. Her mother would still yell and slap and berate and belittle. Her father would still growl and punch and cut and touch. But no longer would she see, no longer would she be a witness to her own destruction. ‘Can I lose the rest of my senses? Can I become deaf and stop hearing her hateful words? Can I stop smelling his cologne and the alcohol on his breath when he comes to me at night? Stop tasting the spoiled milk she makes me drink? Stop feeling his belt on my skin?’ She dreamed of a world like that, where her imagination was the whole of her story and she no longer had to be a witness to her own torment. And in that, she found hope.

#ThursThreads, extended, week 305

Posted in Uncategorized on March 1, 2018 by drmagoo

This is a slightly longer version of the piece I wrote for this week’s #ThursThreads. I had to cut everything after “Could you find them for me? Please?” but it’s incomplete there, and I wanted to put the fuller version somewhere.

 

“Margo.” I meant it to be a yell, but it was barely a croak. I tried again. “Margo.” Better, but still pretty pathetic. Then again, everything I did was pretty pathetic these days. I pushed myself up on my elbows and breathed in as deeply as I could, hoping the third time would be the charm, but I needn’t have bothered. Her slippered feet scuffed along the burnished wood of the hallway anyway, her voice, strong as ever, calling that she was on her way.

I laid back against the pillows, the deep breath turning into a coughing spasm. Not a big one, thank goodness, just the ordinary everyday reminder that my lungs were half soup. I heard Margo round the corner and make her way to my bedside. She put her hand, warm and soft, on my brow, and waited for the coughing to stop. I knew that being at the beck and call of my failing body couldn’t be the highlight of her life, but I never heard that in her voice. “What’s up, buttercup?”

I licked my lips – or tried to, but my tongue was dry – and she gave me a sip of water from the plastic jug with the hospital logo. “My glasses. I can’t seem to find my glasses.”

“Oh, sweetie. Do you really need them now? I mean…” she trailed off.

“I know I can’t see anymore, Margo, but my face feels weird without them. Could you find them, for me? Please?”

Margo bent down and kissed me, gently, with just a little of the pressure we used to share. I felt her guide my hand to my belly, my fingers settling on the smooth plastic of the lenses. “You must have fallen asleep with them on, and they slipped from your nose.” I put them on my face, settling them so they felt straight, and took her hand in mine. Somehow hers retained some strength after all these years, even though mine were barely anything more than spotted skin and bones. She didn’t say anything more, but just stood there, running her thumb softly over the back of my hand, humming tunelessly as I drifted off to sleep. All was right with the world, or as right as it could be.

Let Your Heart Be Light

Posted in Uncategorized on December 22, 2017 by drmagoo

The ice around the window frame made it trickier to get the locking mechanism, but Emily had long ago resigned herself to working under sub-optimal conditions. Last year was nicer – one of those weird Chicago winters where it was 45 degrees on the solstice, but this year it was already in the single digits and falling, and there’d been two days of ice and snow already this week. She crouched closer to the building, shielding her hands from the wind, and began chipping away the ice. The alleyway was empty – for now, as her father always told her, don’t assume it will stay that way – and no one heard the muffled thumps and cracks as small pieces of ice landed on the peeling paint and grey wood of the fire escape.

Once the ice was out of the way, Emily pulled her picks out from the inside of her wool jacket and took care of the lock. Buildings like this always had tricky locks, not because anything inside had real value in any objective sense, but when it was all you had, even a beaten-up couch and TV with a crack in one corner were treasures. Still, she’d been doing this for her whole life, and no mechanical window lock was going to stymie her for too long.

Stepping inside, Emily took a look around and began to sketch out a plan. The worst part of these jobs wasn’t that she had such a narrow window of time in which to do a lot of work, but that she couldn’t plan ahead as much as the job really needed. She knew when they’d be home, who lived here, how old they were, but not the layout of the place or what aesthetic she should strive for. Usually, she started with some basic traditional motif and tried to bring enough variations with her in order to achieve the greatest effect. This job was particularly challenging. Single dad, two daughters – nine and twelve. Old enough to know miracles didn’t exist, young enough to still hope they were wrong. The younger one loved science – Emily had seen her carrying her science fair project to school last week, eyes shining and mouth moving a mile a minute. The older one was into sports of all kinds – the basketball and soccer ball in front of the door were hers – but it was the more-tape-than-wood hockey stick and torn-at-the-corners poster of Amanda Kessel that showed her real dreams. Poor kids, especially poor girls, didn’t play hockey though. Skates, helmet, stick… it all added up.

Okay, time to get to work. If she let herself think too hard about these kids, their dad, how hard it was to get up when you were this far down…ah, that way lay madness.

Emily went back out on the fire escape, using the door this time, and began bringing everything in. The tree was still in its box. She would have loved to have put up a real tree, but this one would last this family years and years, not just a few weeks, and already being lit helped. The tree-decorating drills she did in her living room paid off here, and the tree was up, tinseled, and ornamented – two packs of shiny glass balls, five gift cards to the grocery store, a set of NASA spacecraft, and various memorabilia of great moments in women’s sports – in twelve and a half minutes. Then came the wax tart – at least it would smell like a real tree – stockings laid before the tree, hockey gear, a microscope with USB connector to download digital images, a tablet computer, and gift cards to the mall that they could get to on the El. She didn’t forget dad, of course. Caught in the switches – too much experience on the jobsite to hire just as a laborer, not enough credits at the local college to get the degree that would get him the interviews he needed to put a piece of paper next to his knowledge, and lost trying to be mom and dad to two girls busily turning in to women, determined not to let them raise themselves – his head was under water, and he spent every day just hoping that he’d be able to keep his girls afloat until they could leave home. He got three things –the phone number of a woman Emily knew who owned a construction firm that employed a few too many guys who could lift boulders but didn’t know where to put them or had all the credentials but hands that had never picked up a hammer; an appointment for a fitting for a new suit, already paid for, of course, that he could wear to his interview; and an acceptance letter for an online degree completion program that he would have no trouble affording with the new job he was about to get.

Eighteen years of experience doing this with her dad hadn’t prepared Emily for the emotions she’d feel when she stepped back and took in the entirety of what she’d set up for the first time. But that was a decade ago, and now she was all business. Pulling out her phone, she checked the time – ten minutes left before they’d be home, perfect – and snapped a picture. Dad would have loved this one, she knew, but the accident that had taken his foot ended his breaking-and-entering career for good. She’d share this one with him, and then with her daughter – Abby would be old enough to join her next year. She smiled, turned on the lights on the tree, set her father’s calling card on a branch in front, and headed out.

Four minutes later, Robert slid the key in the lock and opened the door. The girls were dragging a bit from a long outing in the cold, but enough activities at this time of year were free – anyone could look at lights – that they’d made a whole night of it. As soon as the door opened a crack, a chill went down his spine. He knew the lights had been off when they left, he wasn’t about to pay for electricity they weren’t around to use. And his nerves sent a jolt into his brain when his youngest screeched behind him. He whirled to see what had happened to her when Lily and her big sister pushed past him and darted into the apartment, their voices reaching a painful pitch almost instantly. “Ohmygoddaddaddoyouseethetree?”

Spinning back around, Robert finally saw what Lily and Rose were yelling about. A seven-foot tree, surrounded with lights and color and presents, dominated the living room. It was the only bright thing in the home – well, other than the girls – and he felt his eyes well up, thinking of the Christmases of his childhood and the pain that came every year when he couldn’t provide the same things to his own kids. The shining star on the highest bough seemed to twinkle through his tears, and he reached out to hug the two squealing shapes heading back towards him. “Dad! Dad! It’s from him!”

Lily was holding something out to him, and he wiped his eyes to take a better look at it. It was a simple business card, the kind he’d seen in news stories on TV this time of year for seemingly decades. Printed in the middle, in a festive font, were the words “Have Yourself a Murray Little Christmas,” and below, in a smaller block script, “EMILY LITTLE, Proprietor.”

ThursThreads, week 284

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29, 2017 by drmagoo

The glare on my wife’s face grew deeper as she thumbed off her phone and turned to me. “That was Citibank.”

“I told you I was going to get a few things.”

“A few things?”

“I needed a new dress for Joan’s wedding.”

“Uh-huh.”

“And we wanted new linens.”

“They didn’t call about a dress and some linens, Lanie.”

“There was also the negligee I got you – you know, that one you saw at Vickie’s. Though that’s kinda for me too.”

She just stared at me.

“Okay. There were a few other…things…I found on the internet.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Did they flag the one from Romania? Or Tibet?”

“Both.”

“How about the one from Peru? He’s the biggest one.”

“The biggest what? What did you buy, Lanie? Exotic pets?”

“No. Well, kind of. I mean, they’re not really pets.”

“Lanie!”

It was my turn to be quiet.

“What. Did. You. Buy?”

“Dragons.”

“Dragons.”

“Well, dragon eggs. Unless they hatched en route.”

“Dragon eggs, unless they hatched. You spent how much on these?”

“They’re real, I swear! The sellers got great Yelp reviews and everything. Wanna see the websites?”

“No, I don’t want to see the websites. What I want you do to is call and cancel the purchases. All of them. Well, not the dress. Joan is my sister.”

“I can’t. They’re getting delivered tonight.”

“They’re going to deliver us rocks, Lanie.”

“Unless they hatched!”

“I can’t understand how you could be so fool…what’s that noise?”

Outside, there was a roar.

ThursThreads, week 283

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29, 2017 by drmagoo

The air was sickly sweet from too many flowers, too much perfume, and whatever the hell they used in places like this to keep people thinking about rotting flesh. People had been filing past Timothy for hours, a never-ending stream of kids from school and crying family members and gawkers hoping to get a glimpse of this month’s celebrity-a-la-newscasts. They didn’t know what to think of me, sitting alive while he was dead. There should have been two coffins lined up next to each other, their eyes said to me. How could you have escaped when he didn’t? Weren’t you supposed to protect him?

I didn’t give a fuck.

They hadn’t been in that cabin. They hadn’t been lashed to the floor with ropes and fed pills that made the room sway like the cabin of a ship in a hurricane and raped for hours and days. They hadn’t been asked the same question over and over and over until they said everything they could think of in order to make it stop stop stop.

I realized I was clenching my hands so hard my fingernails had drawn blood. God, I was so mad at Timothy. He knew where Dad had kept the money. I didn’t. He’d spied on Dad, once, and seen the key. I begged him to tell them. Begged him to give in and save us. But he wouldn’t. He just smiled, and he never talked.

I was glad he was dead.