Chapter 1

The wind had picked up since earlier in the day when the windsurfers had trouble staying in motion, but nobody was on the water now. It was coming on dinner time, and people had moved on to yard games. The kids had all found friends, somebody else’s kids who they saw once a year, most years. My wife was talking to different people every time I found her, a beer in her hand and a smile on her face.

I’d worn myself out earlier in the lake, playing with the kids and playing water volleyball, mostly with people who were younger and in better shape than me, but it was a game for everyone. The late-afternoon not quite late summer sun had started to head toward the horizon to the southwest, and everything except a few white fluffy clouds in the distance was blue and green, the colors popping against each other like an apotheosis of life.

My headphones filled my ears with the words and music of John Prine singing about Lake Marie. That man had insights into the truth of being alive that few I knew about could match, and somehow Covid took him and left that monster who had been President. Further evidence that no benevolent deity could ever exist was not necessary. Whether there were no gods or whether they existed and were capricious and cruel was a mystery the universe had not chosen to reveal.

I took this all in, the kids and my wife and the sky and the laughter and the music and the breeze and the water and the beer, and I thought what a wonderful day this was. And I thought about the dark buzzing sound that gnawed at the base of my brain. The sadness that blew in, but not on the breeze. The pain that filled the earth and the sky and the water and the people like a luciferous ether.


#SwiftFicFriday – Week 131


There Will Come Soft Rains

Lucy floated down the stairs, her tiny wings helping her hover over the dusty and ill-kept stairs. She’d spent all of her eight months in this house and loved it as much as any place she’d ever lived.

Not in this life, of course.

Wyatt bounded up to her as she entered the den, his long, shaggy ears flopping in time with his pointed tail. Lucy grabbed on to his thick fur and laughed with delight. She’d been a baby more than a dozen times before, but she’d never had a dog, hell-beast or otherwise. More often than not, she’d been called on to rule from the moment she crawled out of her mother, and that put a damper on playtime.

When she’d opened her eyes this time around, though, she heard Wyatt bark and saw Rufus smiling down at her. Rufus never changed from one life to the next. They’d tried to explain it to her more than once, but while she was adept beyond all others at magic, science was never of interest to her. His giant metallic hands were somehow warm and soft, though, and he loved her.

In the 40 years that always passed from the end of one life to the beginning of the next, something strange had happened. No battles took place outside her door. The smell of blood didn’t permeate the air. The night air didn’t resonate with cries of pain. No one knelt to her and asked her what to do and how to do it and when.

Lucy’s giggles rang down the hall as Wyatt leapt after sunbeams and barked at shadows. She could smell the breakfast that Rufus was cooking, and the last three beings left on Earth began another day filled with joy.


#ThursThreads, week 521


This is the way the world ends, one generation at a time. Most people have no idea that anything is happening, the process is so slow. But the things that are supposed to be passed down aren’t and the things that are supposed to go away stay. And the end approaches. 

This is the way the world ends, one year at a time. Some start to notice – we hear friends and loved ones talking about how the past year was the worst one ever and maybe next year will be better. But if you cry out that the end is coming, you’ll be largely ignored as people go to work and school and eat and fuck and die. And the end approaches faster. 

This is the way the world ends, one week at a time. People – some people, anyway – notice, but they’re so consumed by bouncing from crisis to disaster to crisis that they can’t act in any collective ways. And so they work and fuck and go to class and die, but none of it, not one thing is really okay. The faint (really, is it faint or do we not want to hear) sound of the end coming is everywhere. 

This is the way the world ends, one day at a time. So many things, so many places, so many people are on fire that even the protected people and places and things feel the heat. “Why didn’t anyone warn us the end was coming,” the people cry.


#ThursThreads – 10 years!

The dead woman sat down on the sofa. Since she wasn’t there – not really – she didn’t sink down into the cushions. But it still felt good.

“I always did love this room.”

Katie could still remember the day she and Emily walked into this house along with their realtor. It needed a lot of love, but love was something the two of them had in excess, and they thought they had time to play the long game of transformation. They’d transformed themselves, after all, finding each other in the dark, each having fled somewhere that didn’t deserve them, and creating their own light.

The house became their sanctuary, their fortress against the anger and the hate and the voices that told them they didn’t belong. Each room got the attention it needed, transforming from a paean to mid-20th century banality into a new thing unto itself, something that never would have existed without her and Emily.

But this room – the library – was her favorite. A fireplace, cozy blankets, a sofa that was comfortable to sit or lay on, alone or with Emily, and shelf after shelf of books.

The books were packed away after Emily died. She’d hung on to the books for years after the gunman took Katie, but there was no sense in keeping the books locked up when the readers were gone.

Katie sensed a presence next to her on the sofa and reached out to put her hand in Emily’s. “I always loved this room too.”