#MenageMonday, week 44

#MenageMonday Challenge – Week 44

The hands wrapping around his midsection, pulling him backward, startled him for many reasons, none more so than because he was dead. He distinctly remembered the crash, and the sirens, and the thoughts you think once you’ve breathed your last but your brain isn’t done whirring. When he’d been alive, being dragged through complete darkness would have been terrifying, but he found himself merely bemused, curious about his sudden change of circumstances.

He burst forth into a large cavern, his body thumping against a pile of soft earth. Hands brushed his face clean, and where the fingers touched him, his nerve endings flared, not into life, but something entirely new. Without even opening his eyes, he saw that the being who’d taken him was tall, and framed by thick, heavy wings.

The first words he heard in this new life were muffled, and he shook his head to indicate his lack of comprehension. The angel put its hands to its mouth, and pulled, and suddenly the voice was perfectly clear. “Did you ever wonder, my son, why I was taken from you so early?” The angel shrugged her mask and oxygen tanks from her shoulders and embraced him fiercely.



Five Sentence Fiction – Blush

From the first notes of ‘Scotland the Brave,’ she was smitten. Six hundred pounds he was, clad in only a park ranger’s hat and a kilt, her love stalked the last forest. His hands, long ago replaced with semi-automatic pistols, manipulated the bagpipes on his chest with the confidence that only decades of practice can bring. He fired once, and flames began peeking out from the debris on the forest floor. She blushed, a bit weak at the knees, as he turned to her and said in his gloriously deep and booming voice, “Only forest fires can prevent forest fires.”

For @jeffcouturier, @seandfrancis, and @afsaneh_dreams, in memory of a truly weird Twitter conversation.


Visual Dare #19 – Depth

Falling into a bottomless pit leaves you a lot of time to think. Even if there had been air on this planet to carry the sound of his screams, eventually he’d be falling faster than his screams would rise, and there would be no way to ever let anyone know he was here. There had to be some way – something he could do to show the world he’d been alive.

There was a crunch, and a squeal of brakes. Many seconds later, a piece of notepaper slowly drifted down, landing in the spreading pool of blood.

No pit is bottomless.


Visual Dare #17 – Table For One

This one’s late, I know, but there is a good reason. And I like this idea. 🙂

The cafe wouldn’t be open for hours, but Lenny didn’t mind. He loved the way the first light of the morning showed just her shape, full and round and lovely. It was only after the streetlights faded that he could see her in her full glory – the cracked stone top, the three wobbly legs. He would share her with many today; Saturday was the cafe’s busiest of the week. He knew she was faithful in her own way, and that was enough. Lenny flew off, secure in the everlasting love between a pigeon and his table.


Visual Dare #18 – Minimal

No one cared about anything in this room. The springs on the bed creaked out an ode to decades of broken hopes under her weakened flesh. The curtains were too flimsy for the moths to bother eating, and the buzz of the neon lights outside made her feel as if she was being stalked by apathetic lightning bugs. Everything she owned was in a suitcase that didn’t lock and wasn’t even full. She sighed one last time, and then was still, her body unable to support even a minimal existence. No one cared about anything in this room.


And then there were five…

I haven’t been writing much or commenting at all in the last four weeks – I apologize to all of you who’ve taken the time to read and respond to one of my little creations – I do appreciate it.

Obviously, the reason I’ve been so busy is the arrival of our two new little boys, Will and Quinn. They were born seven weeks early, just a few days earlier than their older brother showed up four years earlier, and two newborns (and a toddler who’s creative and active) take up more than a chunk of time.

The two new little guys went into the NICU and did just fine. They ate and grew, learned to breathe on their own, and 18 days later, we were able to bring them home. Quinn was a little ahead of his brother – he’d started eating better sooner, and Will was still catching up, but we were glad to have them home.

Sunday night, about 6:30, I was in the kitchen preparing dinner for my sister’s birthday, and Beth was in the living room, feeding both of the little guys in our recliner. It was a nice evening.

By about 30 hours later, I’d lived through some of the scariest times of my life.

“Eric, I don’t think he’s breathing.” (All quotes are approximate. I wasn’t transcribing.)

We checked. No. Will was blue and totally unresponsive. I took Quinn and put him in his Pack n Play. Beth put Will on the floor and started CPR.

Brief interlude: if you have kids, learn CPR. 

I called 911 and said words I could barely imagine. “My son’s not breathing.”

He responded to the CPR almost instantly, but clearly, something was wrong. The firemen and paramedics arrived quickly, and he was packed up into the ambulance with his mom. My sister came over, and I climbed into the front seat of the ambulance. By this time, the crisis had passed – they didn’t even use sirens, But to the ER we went.

Originally, they thought it was a problem with coordinating breathing and eating. That’s not easy for super little guys, and he was struggling with it. But that didn’t explain why every so often he’d just pause breathing, wait a few seconds, and start up again. These apnic episodes just didn’t go away.

Then, Monday night, we were told that his condition was being changed, and that a pediatric intensivist would be assessing him. We found out that he’d stopped breathing for twenty seconds, and that he’d be moved to the ICU (the SICU, not the NICU – once you’re gone, you never go back). He had some sort of bug – a virus, bacterial, a combination, something – and he was so clogged with mucus that he couldn’t breathe, and that was what was causing the apnea. 

Did you know that at that early an age, the brain can decide that breathing is too hard and just decide to stop? It’s not until they’re older that the brain learns that breathing is on the “non-optional” list.

They ran every test that they could think of to check for the really scary stuff – meningitis (via a spinal tap), and so on. He was on support helping him get oxygen, keeping him warm, giving him food – basically, all they were asking his body to do was fight whatever it was that was making him sick. The doctor and nurses were great, but that was a hard time.

He kept improving. By Wednesday, he was back in Pediatrics, no longer in the ICU. He’s feeding from a bottle more often than not, but still not able to get all his nutrition without the feeding tube. He’s not on oxygen, but he did get some caffeine to stimulate him. Beth hasn’t left the hospital since he went in.

Quinn is doing well. We’ve had a ton of support at home – my sister, Beth’s parents, some friends – the number of people who’ve helped is incredible. 

Ethan’s had a busy week – extra playtime with classmates helps, although I know he misses some normal time at home, and wants some family time.

We should be on the upswing here, although it way take a while. They’re going to ease Will along slowly, making sure he’s really ready to come home, and soon we’ll get to really learn what it’s like with all five of us here.

If you’ve got a few extra dollars, you could do a lot worse than sending it to the March of Dimes. Without the research they’ve done, we might have no kids instead of three wonderful little boys. 

I’m also quite fond of The Linus Project, which makes blankets that they distribute to kids in NICUs and in other rough places. 

I hope you’re all having a great week. Love life, love those who are around you, and help those who you can.


#unZombie Tales

Will laughed as he twisted the top off another beer. Damn, it felt good to be able to just relax for an evening. Next to him, his friend didn’t look so complacent.

“Coop – I tell ya, if someone had told me we’d both be dads of twins, I’d have told them to stop smoking so much. You’re in for some fun times, bud.”

Coop smirked. “Yeah, I’ve heard. I’m glad you guys will be around to laugh at us when we’re in up to our eyeballs. I’m just sorry we weren’t able to be around for you last year. That job offer Abby had in Edinburgh was just too good to pass up.”

“No worries. We’ll help you. I mean, this is no Sunday school picnic, but you’ll survive.”

“Speaking of – you never told me how you guys survived the zombie outbreak last October. We couldn’t believe the news – our home town, besieged by zombies! Thank goodness it was contained quickly.”

“Uhh, zombie outbreak? I have no idea what you’re talking about. We didn’t see any zombies here.”

“No? It was all over the news. They would stop at each house, eating the brains of anyone there who wasn’t already a zombie.”

“We did have a bunch of salesmen stop by, now that you mention it, but they all just walked away…”

The sound of a sprinkler in the distance filled the air during quite a pregnant pause.


“Oh yeah.” Will laughed, deep and long. “You guys are screwed!”


Visual Dare #16 – Bells in the Rain

At first the tears fell slowly, for death was rare and pain only slightly less so. The goddess reveled in her love for her people, and the bells hanging from the chains binding her to inaction were silent. But she had given them desire, and soon she saw one of her beloved slaughter another to take what he had. She let a tear fall, precious in its singular nature, chiming out her mourning.

Her people were nothing if not ambitious, and as the blood began to flow more quickly, so did the tears.

The bells made such a beautiful sound in the rain.