If I Knew

August 8, 2015 § Leave a comment

The roads are long, winding, swings of dreams;
forgotten footsteps; and trickling rows of streams.
There’s cash to buy and absent ambitions to trade
in the oceans of the fade where so few dare to wade.

In the rivers of a trodden gulf, little can be bore —
less verifies in the gone markers across this shore.
They are the many and the many are the mass alone
with much to atone and everything is always homegrown.

In the end, the start has been an overlooked mistake;
the troubled lie awake while the troubling partake.
All the while, I’m tripping… stumbling behind the lead.
With lessons I won’t heed, I drown in cider mead.

Some words never spoken are yelled into deafened winds.
Laughter sounds like tears when passing mislaid friends.
I’m as I’ve always been and been as if I’ll never be.
I and I, you see, will, ever true, likely disagree.

I’ve been found. I’ve been confused. Either suffice.
My words are often grey while the thoughts are precise.
How did I suffer the nights of that awful, ceaseless day?
How did I suffer the days of that dire, boundless way?

In those drying oceans and so many saltless seas,
most are contented with doing as the many please.
I do best in the creek when summer rains refuse to fall…
like being a memory recalled — never remembered at all.

The Melody

May 31, 2013 § 2 Comments

Somewhere a note was plucked, began to ring,
and I thought if I could learn to sing…
if I could carry a tune sweeter than mild
I might not sound so much a broken child.

I learned a note. I learned a chord.
I learned so much more than I could afford.
I could key a sound and I could strum;
so, I raised my glass to the drum.

I was dancing to my own wild beat.
Who knew you knew the placement of feet.
Who knew the world knew what I knew
and we were all playing it through.

I wrote my own lyrics, wrote my own tunes.
I sang until my voice was in bitter ruins.
I picked up the trumpet. I mastered the flute.
I even learned to play some pitiful, old lute.

I learned the sounds of a thousand delusions
and to mimic the sanity behind my confusion.
I laughed aloud for all and in silence, I cried.
I lived as if the melody never died, never lied.

Then from somewhere a voice rose across the winds.
I heard the desperate cries only despair lends.
I picked up a pen and I put it to paper.
That fresh rhythm was a crisp new caper.

I thought, if I could learn that spoken word,
I might honestly — truly and really — finally be heard.
Across that page, a broken child darted.
And over it began. And over it started.

Devil’s Rain

June 13, 2012 § 1 Comment

“What grace befalls the wicked.  The sting and distress that plague the righteous should inhibit the deeds of the depraved, but seek civility to wound and destroy.  Ever in quest to sodomize what little virtue is left in the world.  Ever in the hunt.”

“What grace befalls the wicked?  This grace that befalls the wicked is the avariciousness that beckons you in the night.  That sting and distress, upon which chooses to pass over charged wickedness, is what feeds the rage in your over polluted gut.  That soothes the temper of thirst on your faithless tongue.”

“Is this to propose I survive in the hands of the Devil’s Rain?  That the mere existence I live is complete by sheer avidity?”

“Certainly not.  It is implied, if not spoken, Devil’s Rain is exclusively the dwelling’s crown and your existence is whole by lust for its worldly molestation.  Wickedness is the broth in which the sanctimonious stew.  Wickedness does not make the soul; it is made of the soul.”

“To call to mind that I, of all sincere evils on Earth, am a feasible ingredient in the atrocious consommé of impiety — it’s preposterous.”

“A man of faith cannot plummet?”

“A man of faith can shatter.  A man of God is indissoluble.”

“Are you a man of faith or a man of God, Amadeus?”  Setting herself directly before Amadeus, Darcy stretched her legs with a purr.  Breaking him was of little interest, but shaking him could prove to be exceedingly entertaining.  His eyes darted from her stretch to the walls.  Fear nuzzled him, eliciting another purr from deep within her throat.  Without intent, she leaned in closer; he was a meal ticket to a higher calling.  “No answer rests within?”

“Why ask?”

“Why allude?” she coiled her arm around his neck, her breath brushing his ear.  “Are you of faith or God, Amadeus?”

“Of God.”

“Indeed.”

“Indeed?”

“Only a man of God would warm his soul in the house of Satin.”

The shove was abrupt, unexpected.  Unprepared she fell backwards to the chair as he rose in a fit, “Walls are but that and a woman is less.  Whatever the name, Satin sits in the bowels of Hell and no herald will have me mount the occasion — nor the courier.  Do you think I’m a fool?”

“You and your parishioners feast with transgression’s capital.  A surreptitious indulgence in the capital that sin has earned scampers, almost feral, in Jehovah’s Rain.  Growth is unmistakable.  Wider, but never wiser.  Do I think you foolish?  Scarcely.  Mad and morally comatose, unquestionably.”

“We accept no investment from Devil’s Rain.”

“Fittingly puzzled,” another maddening purr rose.  Was she cat or woman?  “A flagrant wool of perplexity canvassing those miserable eyes, my heart should break had I one to wound.  Come.”

Hesitancy was not quite what he felt as he watched her stalk from the room.  Desperately he tried to remember where he entered so that he might exit.  No more did he believe in Satin dwelling in a house than he reasoned ghosts settle in an attic.  It was the man, or woman, who chose to follow the paths of evil.  With free will, all were liberated to select their path and none could be forced to partake in the worst of habits.

Nonetheless, he feared for his faith, for his sanity, as he watched her sweep from the room. Even the innocent, unobtrusive beckoning of ‘come’ had been sinister, as if there were something far greater than evil waiting in the rooms beyond.

“You asked I come once and you have had my audience.  I now ask for an exit.  I have greater peoples of interest than that waiting here.”

She paused, a sudden turn, “Do the exterior resonances of the interior affliction clatter for faith?”

“For sanity — for sanity alone.”

“Wicked inventions command depraved declines. Come.”

Twist after turn through a hallway of rooms, Amadeus shivered against the sounds and sights. The gnashing of tongue, the floundering of uniform pulp, was too much. The endless twining of quay and ship; the spun-out, meaty fingers with dexterous grips; and the undemanding membership to madcap headship offended him inwardly as far as inwardly could go.

“Tell.” Darcy stopped, opening the only closed door. “The right-hands caught left-hand; households but ordinary lushes underneath a shrewdly cloaked, covetous mask.”

“No.”

“Denial?”

“Refusal. This is Devil’s Rain. No name or quarrel beyond will satisfy me otherwise.”

Pushed into the room, he shielded his eyes from his father’s room, and felt himself tugged away through another door. Door after room, discretion after debauchery, Amadeus shielded his face and swallowed his conviction.

“Sisters. Brothers. Mates. Lovers. All men of God, beings of credence and verity.”

“Conclude! For the love of God, I solicit a conclusion, close this program of persecution.”

“Query over what grace befalls the wicked. Claim as you desire the wicked sodomize the virtuous, but first show me the righteous not a partaking mischief. Arrange this populace at my feet! Prove to me depravity seeks to mutilate and rescind morality without, first, consent from the principled.”

“No.”

“Alight, or collapse, from that lofty steed, Amadeus.”

Crumpled against a wall, his face buried in his hands, Amadeus whimpered and wept. “I am damned by these sights. Fingered and spoilt.”

“We are spoilt purely by a visionless and canopy fealty to truth as a solo faction. Wickedness is unearthed in deeds that buckle or maim the substance of the guiltless. Autonomy and inclination are no fouler than the gasp life first gives.”

Taking Turns

June 12, 2012 § 2 Comments

The sun sat atop the world, heating the atmosphere, as if there were nothing in all the universe more important than the sweat of the people below it. Barely sunrise and even stones were sweating. Eric shivered despite the heat as he lay curled up behind the boxes in his closet. In the outer room, he could hear someone call out softly. Another shiver.

“Come on, buddy, come on out. I got your wife all tied up and she’s still breathing. If you don’t come out, I’ll take that hiccupping last breath all for myself and I will savor every second of her strangled gasp.”

Eric curled tighter and hissed. “Go away. Please, go away.”

“Where are you, dear? Come out, come out, come out. Your lovely woman will struggle, kicking to catch air. She will scream until her throat is raw. Every muscle in her body will eventually relax and she will shit on the floor. Her piss will trickle down the linoleum and under the fridge. Her last thought will concentrate not on her death alone, but couple itself with you hiding away while she’s savagely murdered in her own home.”

“Leave her alone!” Eric stumbled, not burst, from the closet. His scream was a strangled cry. He cowered at the door. None of that mattered, though. He was out and he wouldn’t let his wife die because he was afraid. He was more afraid when he saw the man leaning against the wall staring at the closet.

“I knew you’d come out of there eventually, poule mouillée.”

“Don’t hurt her.”

“Poule mouillée, don’t you remember? Your beautiful bride isn’t home. She’s not even in town. Tsk. Garçon crédule.”

“I… go… go aw…” Eric cleared his throat, straightening his back. He was exposed, but he’d try his best not piss all over himself. “Go home. Get out and go home or to the bar or whorehouse. Wherever people like you go.”

“Suddenly brave is the death of cowards, Eric.”

Eric’s head twitched, he tried to keep it still, but when nervous it had a mind of its own. He stepped sideways, closer to the bed, and steadied himself on his feet. The man looked familiar, maybe someone he’d worked with — or cuckolded — in the past.

Somewhere. He had seen that face somewhere. The news? Had it been the news? Eric thought maybe it might have been a news report. Was he a loan thug? If so, that would have been excellent. He could just pull the money from the safe — every dime in there if he had to — and give it away. Money for health. It was a good deal.

“Blaise. You’re standing there trying to figure out if you know me and I can see that on your weasel little face, poule mouillée. My name is Blaise Parizeau.”

“I… don’t. I mean, if you want money. I mean, if you’ve come to collect what I owe, I can give it to you right now. All of it and then-some.”

Walking slowly, glaring, Blaise moved across the room. Stalking Eric openly was gratifying. Much like watching the worst of the world slowly melt into fear. He stopped toe-to-toe with Eric who was taken by the unexpected backhand.

“If I wanted your money, I’d have it already.”

Crumpled against the wall, Eric glared back. “What do you want?”

“Don’t worry. This won’t take long. We’re waiting on a phone call.”

Blaise left the room. After ten minutes, when he didn’t return Eric grabbed his cell and dialed. The first call was to the police. They promised to send officers. He hung up. The second call was to his wife.

He saw it light up on the nightstand before he heard it ring. His heart sunk as he hit end. Blaise laughed from the doorway.

“Where is she?”

“How would I know? I’m not a travel agent. You’re her husband; you should know where she is.”

“Just tell me… where is she?”

“Like I said.” Blaise darkened, settling on the edge of the bed. “Besides, my interest is in your misery, not hers.”

“The police are on their way.”

“Eric, poule mouillée, if someone is in your house threatening you misery, you should not tell them you have backup on the way. What kind of ignorant connasse are you?”

“I’m giving you the chance to run while you can.”

“Now I’m going to have to slaughter you where you stand.” Eric’s face fell and he slumped back against the wall. Blaise erupted in laughter. “You have no idea what I’m going to do. Will I rob you? Am I some kind of lunatic out for death? You’re so screwed right now.”

“Why are you here?”

“I’m not surprised you don’t remember me. We’ve not formally met, but you did slaughter my sister.”

“What? No. No, you’ve got the wrong guy. I’ve never killed anyone ever. Not even accidently.”

“Do you remember the Austin experiment?”

“Austin?”

“Yeah, that’s right. This isn’t about your loans. This isn’t about you stealing your wife away from Rick. This isn’t about anything but your experiments — the things you think will change the world.”

“My experiments will change the world.”

“They will. They have. They changed my world, didn’t they.”

“I don’t understand.”

Blaise shot off the bed, slamming himself against Eric and the wall. “She came to you. She told you the effects were causing her pain and discomfort. You told her it was perfectly natural.”

“Mich… Michelle?” Eric remembered Michelle well. She had made numerous reports. She kept a family photo in her room — he remembered staring at that picture while Michelle explained her symptoms. That’s where he had seen Blaise. “Your sister was Michelle.”

“Yes. Yes, Michelle. How many times did she come to you? Ten, twenty?”

“The effects were natural. Her body was adjusting the hormones, to the shift in form.”

“Her body was adjusting… she internally exploded, abruti!”

“No, she left the program four months in. She just walked out in the middle of a test and never came back. She never picked up her paycheck, either.”

“She couldn’t pick it up. She was laying on her bedroom floor bleeding to death.”

“I… I didn’t know…”

Eric squirmed away from Blaise, dodging into the bathroom. He locked the door and sat in the tub. He could hear Blaise swearing through the door.

“Of course you didn’t know, Eric. You wouldn’t listen. She called me the day she walked out. I told her to get the hell out of there and go to the hospital. She couldn’t make it to the hospital, the apartment was closer. She laid down and called for an ambulance. Then she called me. You didn’t know because you didn’t care. You couldn’t possibly be wrong — people could be more than people and now she’s dead.”

Eric curled up in the tub, waiting for the sirens.

“Go away, Blaise. I didn’t kill your sister!”

“Eric, the police aren’t coming.” He opened the bathroom door. “Helps if you lock it, poule mouillée. I intercepted your call. Where do you think I went? The fastest way to get someone to stop struggling is to make them believe they have help. You don’t have anyone to save you.”

“You’re going to kill me.”

“I’m not. I’m leaving as soon as you get your call.”

“What call?”

“Remember? I said it won’t take long. We’re just waiting on a call. I’ll be downstairs until the call comes.”

Eric sat in the tub waiting. Staring at the wall, wishing he could call his wife — needing her comfort and security. She was stronger, more resilient to life. He was good with science and nothing else.

He could feel the urine soak into his pajamas and run down his legs. He knew he was going to die. Whoever found him would just think it was the end of life, not fear, when they saw his condition.

He waited and the minutes ticked away. Finally, his cell rang and he rushed to answer it. “Rissa?”

“May I speak with Mr. Eric Torvalds?”

“Speaking.” He tried desperately to keep away the quiver, but as the officer went on, he could feel every part of his body shake. When the officer finally said the final words, confirmed she was dead, Eric dropped the phone and charged through the house. As he rounded the hallway corner into the living room he felt a sudden burning in his gut and Blaise staring him in the eye.

“I lied, but you understand lying to get your way. Don’t you, Eric?” Blaise twisted the knife and pushed harder. “Marissa was pregnant, too.”

Waking the Clock

April 27, 2012 § 5 Comments

‘She’s breathing inside your head.’

Sandra opened her eyes.  She looked up at the ceiling, staying off the sudden grip of fear.  The stucco was long-faded from white to a sickened grey.  Water had created a cow-like pattern, except instead of a soft brown or slick black, the off shape ovals were a dusty green.  What sort of water greened rather than browned?

‘Breathing like a sick pup waiting to vomit.’

The miniature, rectangular, if not slightly warped, range of mountains hung upside down.  Normally just a part of the house, the design threatened to spear her one by one.  She could see how it happened.  One small peak would break away and grow.  It would lengthen and widen to just the right size before it would tunnel through her chest.  In a few days, when the smell of death reached the neighbors, police officers would find her heart thrust through the thin excuse for a mattress and pinned to the floor.

The neighborhood would gossip.  How could she have possibly been impaled by what looked like a stalagmite?  Where did it come from?  Was it murder?  It wouldn’t be murder, though.  No.  Murder would make sense.  At least as much sense as mindless evil does.  It would just be one strange phenomenon to keep the people interested for a while until the next best thing came along and then she, like so much else in the life of the world, would be forgotten.  The unsolved mystery of yet another cold case.

Only she would know she had willed the ceiling to take her away in whatever way it could.  After all, being as lifeless as a stone, the only way it could do her bidding would be to use the stucco.

‘She’s breathing inside your head.’

When the fear refused to abate, she closed her eyes and spoke aloud, “For every time I drown in fear, I’ll count the things I must hold dear.  Like the sanity of life and love, the success of winning push-comes-to-shove.  What I think and what I feel, aren’t always one or always real.  Stay my heart and breath in deep; take a moment to take the leap.  Count the days or count the nights, happiness and joy are in my rights.  Believe the truth of fearless mind, and rejoice in the sanctity I find.”

‘Three thousand four hundred seventy-nine.  That’s how often you’ve said that just this year.’

She did the math.  That averaged just about thirteen times a day.  She was absolutely certain that crazy had rented out her mind, making itself as cozy as a winter skier in a summer lodge.  Crazy makes the world go ‘round.  Climbing out of bed, shuffling to the door, she knocked gingerly at the metal-coated wood.  As she waited, she stared at the wall.  Such an off pattern.  Floral.  It was never a favorite décor choice and those who chose it, she believed, were as crazy as she was.  It didn’t take long before she began trying to will the awful, tacky vines of the wallpaper to reach out and strangle her.

‘Won’t you let her just speak?  She deserves it, you know.  You did this to yourself.  Did this to her.  She’s breathing inside your head.’

The vines reached out slowly, but refused to strangle her.  Instead, they stroked her head gently, fingering (so to speak) small locks of her hair with their tarnished thorns.  Roses on the wall.  It couldn’t have been something more poisonous?  Wolvesbane, perhaps?

The bedroom door opened to a woman who, despite her small stature, could have snapped Sandra in two.  She smiled softly, “Are you doing well?”

“As well as the crazy get.”

“Voices?”

“Vines.  Stalagmites.  I keep trying to will them to relieve me, but they just won’t listen quite like they should.”

“I see.”

“You see the vines about my head?”

“I see what you’re saying.”

“You’ll call Adramen?”

“Of course.”

With the door closed, Sandra returned to her bed.  Instead of climbing atop the flimsy excuse for a mattress, she dropped to her knees and looked beneath it.  She waited to see if she would conjure up some hideous idea, maybe blood seeping from the eyes of some broken child or wild dogs gnawing on the legs of kittens.  When nothing came, she ventured beneath and lay quietly on her side, tracing lines in the dust that had gathered.

‘Are you waiting for the end or just bidding your time?’

“Neither, I suppose,” she answered the new voice with comfortable familiarity.  Unlike the other, this one she knew well.  This one was an old hat, a gentle comfort who so loved to caress, pet, and stroke the shards of glass rooted in her mental soul.  The voice was an abuse she missed each time it found itself wrapped in silence, something that left her feeling lonely when gone.

‘Then what are you doing?’

“Hiding away.”

‘Why?’

“I’m crazy and sometimes it helps to hide from myself.  If I weren’t already insane, I’d drive myself there.  You can bet a buck on that.”

‘I miss–‘

“The sunrise?”

‘Sometimes.’

“The moonlight?”

‘On occasion.’

“Breathing?”

‘Rarely.’

“Life?”

‘Never.’

Not wanting to have that particular conversation, or inner-outer-monologue, she rolled to her stomach and pressed her lips to the floor.  Counting the stars she couldn’t see, she closed her eyes tight.  A shiver coursed her spine in a delightful wrap of pins and needles, leaving her stomach filled with acid and a nauseated sense of weakness.  She splayed her arms out to hug the floor.

‘Are you so lonely that you’d hug the mites of timeless dust?’

“I’m not lonely.  I’m not hugging.  Why must you tease?”

‘I don’t mean to.  You are lonely.’

“I’m lonely at times.”

‘Loneliness is a sad place to live.’

“Please, don’t pity me.  No empathy either.  I don’t deserve anyone to sympathize with me.  Especially not myself.”

‘Won’t you just ask for a hug?’

“And who would I ask?”

‘Will no one else hug you?’

“Not likely,” she whispered into the dust.

‘Why?’

“I imagine hugging me is no more appealing than hugging a teddy bear that likes to eat little children.”

‘Do you make wishes?’

“On the rare occasion I have been known to grant them.”

‘Won’t you grant me one wish then?’

“What do you wish?”

‘Star light, star bright, oh the fifteen millionth star I’ve seen tonight, my windows are blacked and my soul is cracked, it’s been months since I’ve seen the light, but grant me this one wish I wish tonight.’

“Hilarious.”

‘I wish the grass would start to grow.’

“The grass grows every day.  Wish granted.”

‘No, I want the grass to start to grow.  I want the clock to tick again.  I want the world to turn.  It’s so cold on the dark side of the Earth.’

Sandra, sighing into the dust, lifted her eyes and watched as a small spray of settled time flew into the air, in motion again.

‘Yes, just like that.’

‘Her heart clicks and cranks in the depths of death, she breathes inside your head.  Are you listening for the chimes of the old grandfather clock you never knew wound down?  Tick-tick and tock-tock.  Tick-tick.  Tick-tick-tock, it’s the old grandfather swinging that pendulum back and forth in his chest.  Except it doesn’t move anymore, does it?  It stopped swinging and you made that happen.  You stopped all of time, killed everything that mattered.  Including life.’

‘Leave her be.  She didn’t.  She didn’t kill Life or anything else that mattered.  She didn’t kill anything.’

“Pendulum.”

‘Tick-tick-tock.  That’s the death of the grandfather clock.’

‘Shut up.’

“Someone always said, ‘Sandra, you live like a pendulum.  It’s always one way or the other for you.  If you stopped in the middle we could easily assume you were dead.  Wound down like an old grandfather clock.’  I hated it when they’d say that.  Who said that to me?”

‘It’s best not to remember who would say something so generalizing and all-encompassing.  No one is exactly any way others perceive them.  The world would be a bit foolish to assume one person could sum them up into a few words.’

‘If the sound of silence doesn’t take you, the breathing inside your head will.’

“She’s breathing inside my head.”

“Who’s breathing inside your head, Sandra?”  The outer voice startled Sandra and she jumped.  Dr. Adramen peered under the bed as Sandra rubbed the fresh knot rising from her crown.  “We’ll need to get that checked for you.  We don’t need you falling asleep with a concussion.  Come out of there.”

“Can’t we just talk while I lay here?”

“Why would you rather lay beneath the bed?”

“Life settles here, under the creaks and groans of sleep, much the way it settles inside of me.”

“Are you suggesting you might be the floor in which Life settles its dust upon?”

“That or I’m a great white porcelain god and Life eats far too many spicy meals.”

“Come out of there.”

“Not likely.”

“You can stay there if you wish, but it would be less awkward for my back if you’d come out.”

“I couldn’t care less for your back.”

Adramen nodded that understanding, maddening nod of hers and lay out across the floor as well.  She gazed under the bed.  Sandra stared into the eyes of a ghost each time she looked into Adramen’s.  The knowing (judging) eyes of Adramen were more like the dead eyes of Joy and Hope than any others she’d encountered.  The raised cheekbones, oval face, and gleaming smile made matters even worse.  She couldn’t help but snarl in return each time Adramen smiled.

“When will I have a new doctor?”

“You won’t.”

“But you said…”

“I said I would inquire.  I never said you would.”

“Bullshit.”

“In the fields, maybe.  Not here.  Not now.  Not ever.”

“You’re the worst doctor.  I hope you burn.”

“Feeling angry tonight?”

“Way to take a stab in the dark.  Your superior powers of perception have caught me once again,” Sandra’s cheeks blazed with embarrassment and frustration.  She’d been caught in her own emotions; called out she had to testify, “Blow.”

“Austin tells me you were hallucinating.”

“Is that a question?”

“Tell me about it.”

“I wasn’t hallucinating.  I was wishing.”

‘Star light, star bright.’

“And what were you wishing?”

“I wished for death.”

“Why would you wish for death?”

‘Because the world has stopped turning.  Because she’s breathing inside your head.’

“I’m locked up inside a tiny room because I wish for death; I’m hardly the one to be asking… Doctor.”

“You’re not locked inside this room.  You’re free to come and go as you please.”

“I want a new doctor, Leslie.”

“You called me Leslie.”

“I didn’t.”

Adramen sat up, reaching past her feet.  After a moment of stretching she laid back with a recorder in hand, “Listen.”

Sandra’s voice played back.  ‘I want a new doctor, Leslie.’  The words echoed in her ears, in her heart.  The syllables were strums of a dispirited guitar back dropping out of tune piano keys.  Shattered music was the tune of the century, the only music she seemed to know.  Feeling weary, she pressed her lips back against the floor.  The pressure would ease the ache and help her to avoid the onslaught of a crying fit.

“This is no way to live.”

“And what way is that?” Adramen did care, she knew that.  The only reason she asked for a new doctor is because Adramen was, in the most evocative way, an exact replica of Leslie.

“I’d laugh at the question, but I’m afraid of the bitterness I’d hear.  Laughter should be warm, something you want to hear.  Not splinters of the wreckage inside.”

“Sandra?  What way is no way to live?”

“Yes.  I heard you the first time.  I want you to listen close, because this is the only time I’m going to talk to you.  Are you listening?  Do you have that infinitesimal microphone pointed this way?”

“I’m listening.”

“My life is no way to live.  Haunted by your doctor because the picture she is lies buried beneath the filth and dirt of the world.  Unable to take my own life because I’m scared to die.  Listening to the voices in my head telling me I’m not a murderer and that I am, too.”

“Voices?  There’s more than one?”

“Now.  Today.  Leslie’s voice is there.  And then my own.  A darker me.  An angrier me.”

“Sandra, you didn’t kill anyone.”

“I killed Leslie.  I beat her.  I ripped her apart piece by piece.  Then I buried her.”

“Did you?”

“I loved her.  Did you know that?”

“I know you did.”

“I really did love her.  I would have gladly thrown myself down at her feet.  I would have thrown myself down in front of the worst evils imaginable to save her life.  Instead, I killed her.”

“How did you kill her?”

“I don’t know.”

“You said you beat her.”

“Not literally, but somehow I killed her,” replacing her lips to the floor with her cheek, Sandra gazed at Adramen.  A small part of her began to awake.

“Where did you bury her?”

“In the world.”

“I’m not sure I understand.”

“Have you ever loved someone, but never known how to do it the right way?”

“Possibly.”

“It’s either yes or no, but the answer doesn’t matter.  If you haven’t, you will.  I loved Leslie that way.  I loved her to no end, but I didn’t understand how to love the right way.  I always believed that if you just loved someone and was always there for them then that was all there was to it.  I was wrong.  So every day I woke up loving her and trying to make the right choices, but I always seemed to make the wrong ones.  Eventually, she and I… I don’t know.  We died.  By the end of time, she hated me.  Her biggest regret in life was having ever met me.”

“You feel as if you killed Love?”

‘She’s breathing inside your head.’

“I killed Love and Life and Leslie.  Now she lives inside my head.”

“Is she really dead?”

“I don’t know.”

“You’ve lost contact?”

“She hated me.”

“I don’t think she really hated you.”

“She said, ‘I wish I’d never met you.’  That’s a strong hate.  The kind that never goes away.”

“She doesn’t hate you, Sandra.”

The wallpaper lay still.  The ceiling remained intact.  The only sound in the room was their breathing.  Adramen smiled Leslie’s smile and somewhere inside of Sandra, reality woke up.  Sandra scooted from beneath the bed, ignoring the stillness of time come to life again.  All she wanted was to take Adramen’s hands into her own, to feel that contact for one moment.

“If she doesn’t hate me then why was I not enough?”

“Maybe you were too much.”

“I broke her.”

“Maybe you broke a part of her, but not intentionally.  You certainly didn’t kill her or Life or Love.”

“I broke the best part.  The part that loved me once.”

“No, you broke the part that kept her away from happiness and sometimes we can’t face the fact that we can’t be happy alone and those that can help us find who we are can be more terrifying than even loneliness.”

“I don’t think people hate people who love them.”

“Yes, we do.  When we can’t love as much as they can, we hate them for having more than we can possibly find inside ourselves.”

“I didn’t need her to love me as much as I loved her.  I just needed her to love me at all.”

“She did.”

“Now she doesn’t.”

“Even love ends when there are things in the world to interfere.”

“Nothing is forever.”

“Not even forever,” the moment was still.  Sandra closed her eyes and wrapped herself closer to Adramen.  “You’re not real.”

There was no answer, but that was alright.

“Leslie, I’m going to sleep.  This time when you leave… please… don’t come back.”

“I promise.”

More stillness as Sandra drifted into sleep.  She was crazy, she knew that.  Something had gone wrong inside her, but for one moment she could face reality and maybe when she woke that reality would stand strong, “I won’t stop loving you.  I didn’t know how to love you right and I don’t know how to stop either.”

“It’s okay.  You loved me the way Sandra was supposed to.  No one else will ever be you,” Adramen paused.  She closed her eyes, prepared to go.  “Sandra?”

“Yes?”

“I really did love you.”

As sleep covered Sandra, a clock began to tick in the darkness.

Shadows Can’t Hurt

April 20, 2012 § 2 Comments

His eyes were glued to the set. Later, when they asked him what he had seen, he perked up and rambled on about Timber. That damned dogesque goof with the annoyingly high pitch, unbelievably optimistic voice. He went on about the plot, such as it was. When they asked him what he had heard he brightened even more.

“Hot dog! Hot dog!” he cried as gleeful as one might expect.

When they left the room, when he was alone in the silence, he listened to the sounds of the day fight for room in his head. He watched the shadows of his home struggle on the concrete walls in front of him. His father’s shadow made the most noise, falling through a table and pleading for his son’s life.

His mother’s shadow sat quietly. The shadow waited for the gag to go away. He kept his eyes as much on the screen as he could. If he didn’t look, it didn’t happen.

“God, please, please, don’t hurt us. Don’t hurt my boy.” That was his father.

His father screamed the most. His father cried the most. When it was his mother’s turn, her shadow straightened against the wall.

“Take what you must and go.” The acrid sensation in her low demand had chilled him and the strange shadow. “Touch my boy and no amount of death will stop me from taking you with us.”

The shadow had laughed. He had laughed, but the laugh had shaken with imbalance.

Timber danced across the screen. Then his mother screamed, too. He sat waiting, eyes glued to the set, waiting for his turn. The front door shut.

In the silence, he closed his eyes and remembered his mother telling him in the long nights that shadows just can’t hurt people. “Hot dog. Hot dog.”

Heartbroken

February 29, 2012 § 2 Comments

One of my siblings had an assignment for English class way back in 1997 and being kids, I said, “I’ll write it for you!” So I wrote this.

“Ssshhh, baby, Momma’s come home. I’ll always be here when you need me. Never will I ever hurt you on purpose. I swear it. You are my life.”

The young mother held her baby tight and sighed. When the child fell asleep she laid her in the crib and poured herself a drink. Hesitation grabbed her as she brought the drink to her lips. Ah well, a couple drinks a night couldn’t hurt. Over the next six years the mother cradled, spoiled, and loved the child through out the days and partied through out the nights.

The child never seemed to mind, but on the inside she was dying. It broke her heart that her mother never tucked her in. It was always the baby-sitter who did. It hurt her to see her mother so sick every morning. So every night she’d watch silently as her mother walked out the door. There was nothing she could do and she knew it. But she knew her mother would always be there when she really needed her. She believed that with all her heart.

Until one night she was feeling sick. Her fever was high and her vision blurred. She cried out for her mother, “Momma, please, don’t go! Momma, please. Please, Momma, stay!”

And her mother whispered softly in her ear. “I will, baby.”

And she did until the draw of whiskey tore her away. Her child cried out in pain and desperation. “Stay with me! Please, I don’t feel good and I need you here! Mommy, please!”

The mother wrestled quickly with the pull of fun and the true responsibility of her daughter. Shamefully the fun had won and she called the baby-sitter. Her little girl cried as she left.

The cries echoed through her head as she sat at the bar. Finally, the guilt and fear took her home. The baby-sitter was on the phone. An ambulance was on the way. She saw her baby laying on the couch and burst into tears.

“She was so sick, how could I leave her?” she wailed in terror. The baby-sitter shook her head and looked toward the couch. The dying child made no sound. She let a tear of pity and sorrow slide down her cheek, then looked to the mother.

“This is no sickness that’s taking her life, but heartbreak.”

The saddened mother looked to her kid and knelt beside her. Taking her into her arms she let the tears fall to her daughter’s delicate cheeks.

Her heart was broken and when she opened her eyes it was only to smile, take one last breath, and kiss her mother on the jaw.

“Please, baby, stay with me. It’ll be alright.”

“Mommy? You came back!”

She looked on in terror as her only link to life took one last, shuddering breath. She let out a howling scream of anger at herself and clutched her baby tight.

Your Voice Echoes

February 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

Then you hear, “Love always, from me” and the voice that echoes the memory is your own. You know then – the sound of loneliness ricocheting off the blocks of time, piercing the already shattered truth you so desperately pin beneath your mental palm. It’s a vision of isolation, the last of forever fading into the background. Tomorrow will be tomorrow, not a chance for salvation.

“God speed!” you cry. “God speed the end. God bless the final night.”

The days wear on… obstinate… mocking. What can you do. The choices are few – to stay, to quit. Just those two. No matter how many nights your lungs feel as if they might collapse, how tight your chest constricts, or the speed of your racing heart change belongs to all others and all else belongs to you.

The telephone’s ringing. It’ll be a savior calling to say… calling you… how they’ve missed you so. The world was a lonely place without your heart, how life can’t move on without your hand to hold – without your shoulder to lean.

“Hello?”

The silence is more than you deserve. It seems once upon a time, even when no one was there, the sound of the dial tone could keep you in miserable company. Now the silence on the other end serves as a reminder – there’s an emptiness in your life you’ll never fill.

You’re all grown up, a lifetime spent and lost.

Steady your hand, rest your mind. Hang up the phone, there’s death on the line. Goodnight my fellow Shade. Goodbye to the forgotten – to what you were meant to be.

The days wear on… obstinate… mocking. What can you do. The choices are few – to stay, to quit. The reality is intense, sometimes it seems the gods can hear your cries. Load the car and drive, stop where the gas stops. Live where the car dies. The days are creeping through the years and your life is a bitter-sweet regret.

Waking

January 12, 2012 § 4 Comments

Gloria watched the twitching, nervous spasm of Rodin’s eyes. He was desperate; she knew that. He was dangerous. She knew that, too. Everything about him warned of a precarious, heated explosion settled in the offing of an opportune — or inopportune — time.

“I am afraid you’re mistaken,” he muttered. His eyes shifted from hers to the floor. His feet seemed to want to shuffle away in a dance of escape, but remained trapped in the two-step shuffle headed nowhere.

“Maybe,” she whispered. “I’ve been known to make mistakes, but I’m not wrong today.”

“How could you not be wrong?” It was a question; it was a demand. Rodin straightened in his chair, motioning for her to come nearer. Of course, she hesitated. Any sane person would have, but then if she were sane it she wouldn’t have wound up sitting in front of him — so much for a testament to her sanity. “Tell me. What makes you so great?”

“My passion.” It was an automatic answer.

“Your passion? The world is filled with passion.”

“My passion isn’t the passion you meet every day.”

“Ha! You’re as foolish as any artist. This world births a new babe every minute and every minute the world fills with more passion. Passion and ambition are the crucifixes to which greatness is nailed.”

“Are you suggesting I’m no better than the average artist starving on the streets of any city and begging for recognition?”

“That’s exactly what I’m suggesting. Greatness is not a love-child of passion and ambition. It’s not even a byproduct of need and desire.”

“Then what is greatness?”

“Nothing. Greatness doesn’t exist.”

“Goddamn,” Gloria thrust her body forward, shoving Rodin backwards in his chair. She watched the chair flip first back then over him. He lay there dazed for a moment. The room filled with his laughter.

“You think this is funny?”

“You, Gloria, are about the most angry person I have ever met.”

“My anger amuses you? My isolation and loneliness makes you laugh? Do you know what I’ve sacrificed? Do you know how many nights I’ve lost and how many opportunities I’ve tossed away in order to be that perfect someone? And you laugh at me!”

“Why shouldn’t I?” he asked standing and brushing the dust of the floor from his jeans.

“I have emotional teeth sunk deep into metaphorical flesh — a gripping vice that swells and slobbers for some sort of substance; yet, refuses to tear in fear of irrevocable damage.”

“Then tear, you damned fool. Tear away that flesh, take substance for sustenance and thrive off that blood.”

“I am not an emotional vampire.”

“No. You’re the victim of such.”

“I am no one’s victim.”

“Then why are you crying?”

 

Day 12 – 365 Stories

I Will Always

January 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

Singing along and telling a story all about the nights that never end. Writing down memories — letting the pen whisper sentiments she’ll never send. It’s the first time, the first time she finds is hardest, when she cries.

Tapping a pen and writing a song all about the days full of sin. Singing about the forgotten — letting the words promise closure she’ll never give. It’s always the last time, the last time she finds is saddest, when her tears cry, too.

The days and nights are too much. Shadows rise under the sun or moon. Swallow down the light; it’s a fire of blood and rage. Feel free to spit it up — can’t stop the burn. Scream into the night, sing along. Laughter and love are the wickedest mendacity she will live; it’s a fire of blood and rage.

Higher and higher, block after block, floor after floor. Flying to the depths of the deepest sky, she falls further into the yawning nadir of Hell. She catches the shining stars, they shine for her. She sends them speeding down. Down and burning, they still shine for her and she hates them more.

She thirsts for something new; an ache eating her through. It’s a fire of blood and rage. Finally, she lets go — falling with her stars (they shine for her) she sings alone with the end. She sings about nights that never end with days filled with sin. She sings about a thirst that just won’t depart and a soul that won’t die.

With each foot closer to the cursed earth binding her, caging her, to eternity, she thinks she will always shine with the stars. She will always ache and hate and live.

“I will always—”

 

Day 8 – 365 Stories

Where Am I?

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