Tag Archives: short story

Fairytales and Farewells- A Short Story

I’m feeling in the mood to write depressing fiction this week. I’ve been thinking a lot about fairy tales lately, so I thought I’d write a piece with this inspiration in mind. Enjoy!

38230_1251561949734_6692994_n

Fairytales and Farewells

So this is goodbye.

In movies they make a big deal of these kind of things. Tears and broken words and people hugging. In the traditional story motif, when a character bids family and friends farewell to set off on the quest, there’s teary smiles and well wishes. It’s not like that for me.

Goodbye is numbness. Goodbye is unreal. Goodbye is something it never should have come to. But I suppose by now I know everything has to come to an end. Even the things that once made us happiest.

I used to never feel like I belonged. I was the awkward uncomfortable child who spent recess on the bench with a book of fairytales to hide the fact that I didn’t have any friends. I faced teasing at school, intense conversations my parents didn’t think I could hear at home. And I began to be aware that no matter what I did I would never be quite right. Normalcy wasn’t an option. So maybe there was something else.

I used to imagine I was a foundling. That one day I’d go back to my people and find the real place where I belonged. Maybe I was just like the little ugly duckling, waiting to swim among my fellow swans. In the meantime there was misery, and I began to despair that redemption never would come.

But when I was ten was the first time I met Zayn.

Another day on the playground bench, ignored by the teacher on duty as a few of the boys in my class through balls my direction, made sneering remarks. I huddled in on myself, book up to my face as though to shield me from the world. And for a while I absorbed myself into fiction and I could forget who I was and where I was and everything that was wrong and difficult and hurting.

It was his voice that drew me out of where I’d buried myself.

“Hiya.”

I looked up to see him perched a few feet away on the bench, blue eyes staring at me intensely, this crooked smile never wavering.

“Hi,” I murmured, sliding the book down.

“I’m Zayn, nice to meet you,” he said.

I managed to stammer out my own introductions. My fingers were tight on my book. Could I go back to reading? I didn’t know. Was that rude? But did it really matter considering who I was and what other people thought of me already? Zayn was new, he’d probably figure out soon I wasn’t worth his time.

“I like reading too,” Zayn said. “If I bring a book out next recess, can I read with you?”

I nodded and then ducked my head back towards my book, trying to hide my embarrassment. Zayn didn’t seem to figure out I wanted to be alone. After a long moment of him sitting there in silence, I turned to offer the book I was reading.

“It’s Hans Christian Anderson. Do you want to read with me?” I asked.

He flashed pearly teeth and reached for the book. We flipped back to the beginning and for a minute I thought we’d just go about reading ourselves. Then Zayn started speaking out the words, voice slow but steady, keeping himself flowing through the story of the small mermaid trying to win her prince.

For the next year of grade school, we spent recess like that. Always with a book, always with each other. Sharing a simple love of reading that none of the other kids ever seemed to understand. Hiding in the realm of books that had come to be my safe haven.

Zayn was always there. He didn’t ever question the way I dressed, or when I’d tell him I didn’t want to go home because mom and dad were fighting again, or when I came to school with a bruise on my cheek. He told the other boys to piss off and kicked the basketballs they threw at me back in their faces.

For a while I was almost convinced Zayn had slipped out of the pages of one of my books, or straight out of my imagination. But storybook characters can’t hurt you. People you imagine don’t break your heart.

We were friends all through our young years of school, but puberty was when disaster struck.

I hadn’t anticipated it, but it made sense. Zayn was the one who had rescued me. It wasn’t dissimilar from the princesses in fairytales. I was his damsel. And if that was the case, it made sense I might unintentionally hand over my heart. What I was oblivious to, was the fact that Zayn never once saw us that way. For him, I was a fellow nerdy classmate he’d befriended on the playground. And nothing more.

So it was logical that a few months ago he started dating this pretty girl in math class. I shouldn’t have been so surprised. I shouldn’t have been so angry. I should never have shouted at him one day. And above all, I should never have told him how it made me feel.

It’s a funny thing. As children adults tell us so much how important it is to be honest and voice what you really want to say. Especially about feelings. There’s a whole lecture from the school counselor on conflict solving the little I felt ___ when you ____. It sounds all nice on paper. In the real world it sucks.

Zayn tried to pretend it was fine when I finally worked up the courage to tell him. He apologized and said he respected that and appreciated honesty. But the Zayn I knew died that day, replaced by a stony replica who stopped inviting me over and sitting with me at lunch and telling other people to not pick on me.

After six years, the barrage of those old emotions coming back was overwhelming. For a good portion of my life I’d stopped feeling like I didn’t belong. I’d begun to feel I had a place. Maybe I wasn’t quite so much of a mistake as I’d felt like the beginning portion. But with Zayn gone, those painful emotions fell back into place, sweeping me up in a drowning tide I could not escape.

If I was truly a damsel, and my circumstances were my tower and dragon, and Zayn was not my knight…what was there for me? Few fairy tales ever answers that for you. Almost every princess has a prince, as sexist and frustrating as that can be. But if you’re helpless to stop any of it yourself, what is left? Sure self-empowerment is great, unless you’ve got no energy to fight in the first place. I might as well be Sleeping Beauty for all the energy and motivation I had to make life change.

So this is goodbye. The realization that whatever I had is gone. That whatever there is in the future I don’t want to face alone. That whatever happens, I am incapable of handling this level of grief and farewells and endings. So often the story ends with a kiss, a wedding, a happily ever after. Stories don’t tend to prepare you for when they don’t. So this is mine.

I sit here in these last moments looking down at the churning sea below. Was it supposed to come to this? Is this what love is supposed to feel like, stabbing in your chest and panic in your mind and utter overwhelming inability to move at the mere thought—

But none of that will matter anymore. After all this time, none of it has. My sacrifices, my honesty, my bravery. The few little bits and pieces I’d cradled inside me for so long, wasted on a foolish boy who cared nothing for such fragile bits of vulnerability.

I have nothing left here. I have nothing to fight for. I have no ending in mind, and so I depart on this quest in hopes of finding a happier ending to what I have now, in hopes of finding what’s right and true. In hopes of finding where I truly belong, hoping to make my home in these icy waters, my portal to the next place. I’m going and there is no stopping me…

So this is goodbye.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Writing

Stormy Skies

I thought about spending some time revising this, but with the amount of essays I have coming up I decided to just post it for your viewing pleasure instead. Here’s another free writing exercise I did for my writing class. We were supposed to write about a scene on a vacation and convey something through the setting. Hope you enjoy it!

Stormy Skies

The beach was under assault. Whenever Ashley had pictured Mexico, she’d thought of sun and sand and clear blue water. But today’s forecast had chosen gray and windy with a chance of hurricane instead. She sat on a chair in her room looking out over the sea, watching the waves crash along the edge of the empty beach. Hotel workers along the strip of wild sea were hastily gathering up beach loungers to be put away until the sun returned. Ashley watched one of the large umbrellas topple down and begin a swirling run along the sand, moving further and further away from the original destination. A worker started chasing after it, shouting something in Spanish to the other men.

Ashley curled tighter under the blanket she’d dragged off the bed. What was there to do in Mexico with awful weather, she wondered. Well, perhaps if the internet was working it would prove a distraction for a few brief minutes. Grabbing for the computer she’d set on the desk Ashley pulled it onto her lap, glad for the warmth, drawing her legs off of the cold tile to meet the heat of the device. She typed in her password, fingers clacking against the keys and echoing in the small chamber.

Once online she scrolled through Facebook before flipping to her email. She let it load for a moment before scanning the ten new messages. It was the third from last that had her fingers pausing over the mouse.

Her brother had emailed her, a rare occurrence to be sure. She opened the little message, smile growing on her face, only to be dimmed as she scanned the actual words.

Dear Ashley,

I know you’re on vacation, but I figured it was better if I told you this now. I hope it doesn’t ruin things for you, but I knew you’d be upset if I didn’t tell you.

Leila was found dead yesterday morning. Her boyfriend found her in the bathroom with her wrists slit. It was a real mess apparently. I guess she’d been off her meds again. I didn’t realize. You probably didn’t either.

I know we haven’t been close for a long time, but I wanted to let you know I’m here for you.

Your brother,

Paul

Ashley stared at the words for a long moment. She was distracted by the clattering nearby as the chair on her porch blew over. She muttered a curse and stood, walking over to the door and opening it, staggering out into the storm, robe flapping. The wind whipped her dark hair into her eyes, blinding her momentarily, but she pushed it aside and hastened over to pull the chair up and tuck it in the porch corner. She grabbed the other one and stacked it on top, hoping the two wouldn’t fly away.

After a long moment she turned to the railing of her hotel, placed her hands against the hard wood, raindrops cold beneath her fingers. The sea air filled her nose, salt and sand forcing their way towards her on the wind. She stared out at the sea, and wondered if this storm would ever end.

557247_3098286476693_1950228887_n

4 Comments

Filed under Writing

I Do Not

Decided to give a snippet of fiction after all the other stuff I’ve been posting lately. I’m taking a fiction writing class right now and we had an exercise the other day supposed to help us work on point of view. We were supposed to describe an incident at a wedding from a variety of different viewpoints (a first person peripheral, third person objective, third person limited). Feel free to do this exercise on your own practicing POV, or just using the prompt to get you started on a story or poem. It can be entertaining actually. If you do write one and want to post it, feel free to link back to my blog. I’ll share any response I get. Anyhow, this was my favorite so I’m sharing it here:

I Do Not

Every little girl is supposed to have big and exciting dreams about her wedding. But after being a part of my cousin Allison’s, I’m not so sure I ever want to get married at all.

Before this summer I’d only ever seen weddings in movies. You know, like when Cinderella gets her shoe on and then she’s in the same dress but it’s white with a veil and she rushes off and loses her shoe again. It’s like the same ending to every princess movie ever. Except Frozen, cause mom says it’s progresso-ive.

I mean most of it was ok I guess. Allison got a ring and she cried. And she asked me to be her flower girl and cried. And she got a dress and cried some more. For being a happy occasion she sure didn’t seem very happy, but mom always shushed me when I tried to ask what was wrong.

Allison walked out looking like a white glitter store had exploded. And she and Gerald did the whole long saying promises about stuff like being sick and being healthy and all that cause apparently sometimes when you’re sick people stop wanting to be married so they have to promise to be married anyways. And they did the gross kiss stuff and everybody clapped for some reason.

But it was during the after part- the inception- that everything went really bad. I had wandered over to try to sneak more dessert while my mom was distracted talking to Aunt Judy. And that’s when I saw it. A man in a tux had his hand on Allison’s arm, holding it tighter than you hold a baseball bat. And Allison’s face had gone all tomato soup colored like mine does when I say something I’m not supposed to.

They were yelling at each other, but I wasn’t sure what exactly they were talking about. Mom always says my leaves-dropping is a bad habit.

“You’re not right for him!” he snapped.

Allison shot him a look. “I don’t know what you want but you leave us alone you hear!”

My forehead crinkled up as I concentrated on listening. I grabbed some more cake, but even as I stuffed big pieces in my mouth I was more focused on what was going on with Allison.

Of course, right around that time Gerald suddenly seemed to appear out of nowhere. Guess he had to swoop in like Superman to save her from the bad man. Except, instead of going all hero on the bad guy, he started yelling at Allison instead and then some at the other guy who was called Ron. And the guy Ron kept saying the word love over and over again to Gerald and Allison started freaking out real bad, especially when Ron said that they’d apparently been sleeping together for years. I didn’t really understand what everyone was so angry about. I have sleepovers all the time and nobody gets mad, but everybody seemed all upset, especially Allison who went from tomato soup to stop sign red, and Gerald started stammering that he could explain.

Either way there was a lot of yelling and people started noticing something wasn’t quite right and soon there was more commotion and hollering. It’s funny cause mom always tells me that I’m not supposed to yell and I’m a big girl so I can talk in a normal voice, but for some reason all the adults got into their yelling and didn’t seem to notice that they were breaking the rules. And next thing I knew Allison was slapping Gerald, and then the guy Ron was punching at Allison, and suddenly he and Gerald were wrestling on the ground like me and daddy always used to do. And Allison was screaming and crying some more, but I wasn’t sure what that meant since she’d been crying all along.

Mom took me home sometime after that. And all I know now is that Allison and Gerald don’t see each other anymore, which is weird since they just got married. So I guess those vows things aren’t really that important after all. And I saw Gerald once at the mall having lunch with Ron, so I guess they still get to be friends and have sleepovers. But mom says I can’t talk about it, and all Allison says when I see her is that men are bass tards, which I still don’t understand and mom gets mad at me whenever I repeat it.

So that’s why I never ever want to get married. But mom says I might change my mind later. I think she’s got it all wrong.

4 Comments

Filed under Writing

Blind- A Halloween Short Story

In honor of Halloween I thought I’d write another short(ish… ok not really too short) story. Um…I kind of thought I knew where I was going with this, and then I lost it. Sooo…it probably will mostly just seem like weird ramblings having some vague connection to Halloween while trying to have a message too and failing at both. But hey, I can’t just work out the kinks and post it another day…so this is as good as it gets. Here it is!

My pumpkin I carved this year.

          My pumpkin I carved this year.

Blind

Fred looked cautiously out the dark window into the foggy night. He was so sick of this. Always feeling the hairs on the back of his neck standing up. Always looking behind him. Always wondering if something was going to jump out of the shadows and turn on him. For days now he’d hardly slept.

He caught a glimpse of himself in a mirror, jumped at the very sight, trembled momentarily before trying to steady his already racing heart. Darkened shadows permanently affixed beneath his eyes greeted his sight. He looked at his greasy unkempt hair, his sunken cheeks. If he had once been handsome he didn’t remember when. The anxiety building within him was beginning to utterly overwhelm him. If this was his enemy’s goal then the man was succeeding.

Or perhaps man was too kind of a word.

Fred curled in on himself slightly on the couch, wondering when things had gotten so bad. His thoughts raced in frantic circles while he tried to steady himself, pull it back together.

Man, no. That was not the right definition. Though in his crazed state perhaps these things were better left unconsidered. He shuddered at the mere thought of his stalker, the fanged and furred menace that had only recently made him start questioning his grip on reality. Monster, yes.

The teenager wondered again briefly what might happen if he told someone. His parents perhaps. Would they send him to the  madhouse he so deserved? Perhaps. He wished for the seventh time that night that they hadn’t gone to the party. Maybe they could have protected him. Maybe he wouldn’t feel so alone and defenseless on this lonely Halloween night. Especially since some terrible beast was after him.

He’d been walking home probably two weeks ago when it had happened. A strange man with fangs and fur and claws had approached him, growled his name, chased after him when he fled. Fred could still picture those glowing feral eyes, the horns perched on curly hair. The little abnormalities that made this devil all too frightening to behold.

A knock suddenly echoed through the empty house, interrupting his memories. Fred froze in fright for a moment, before reassuring himself it was probably just trick-or-treaters out looking for candy and not really caring that the porch light was off. Idiots. He could be a child-molester, for all they knew.

Fred rose carefully from the sofa and ventured towards the door, carefully trying to avoid any line of sight from the windows, tiptoeing close. Another grave knock rang out in the house. Fred paused for just a moment before venturing a tad bit closer, peering carefully out the little window and hoping he wouldn’t be seen back. He sighed in relief at the sight before him, undid both locks and opened the door.

The girl standing there brightened at the sight of him, dark pretty eyes sparkling, lashes batting in amusement. Fred felt his heart lift slightly, pounding now for a different reason entirely as he took in the short ruffled skirt, fishnets, and low cut bodice. The pink did fine things for her coloring, brought out her fair skins hues, made her dark hair seem more lustrous.

“Princess?” Fred guessed.

She giggled and did a little curtsy that did nothing to lengthen the already ridiculously revealing skirt. “Yep. And what are you… a zombie?”

Fred gave a weak smile and glanced around, suddenly remembering what had caused his appearance to so rapidly decline. ‘Um…you’d better come in.”

He locked the door behind her, though she seemed utterly oblivious to the clicking of the bolts. She examined the house around her with careful attention to the details before spinning to face him once more all smiles. Fred shifted from foot to foot, trying to figure out what Morgana, the prettiest girl in his high school was doing on his doorstep on a chilly October night. Nonetheless he tried to put aside his confusion and fix a dashing presence to himself, asking her to have a seat and offering her something to drink.

Morgana let those long lashes flutter against her pale cheek, and smiled again, though this time with teeth. Had Fred not been exhausted he might have noticed right away, but it took him a minute. Fangs. There were two white glittering fangs situated amongst her other perfect teeth. And not the plastic kind either. They were too real for that. Fred took a step back, gulping. Beauty had never seemed so false.

“What’s wrong, Fred? Weren’t you offering me a drink?” she purred.

Fred shook his head and stepped back once again, back bumping awkwardly against a chair blocking his path. He tried to lubricate his throat enough to allow sound to escape, but his mouth hung open as dry as the cold fall air. Nothing came to him. His already sleep-deprived brain struggled to come up with something to say. Words failed him utterly.

“I think I’ll take that drink,” she whispered. “I think I’ll take it now in fact.”

In a childhood move, he closed his eyes as though hoping this might banish the terror before him. If you couldn’t see it, it couldn’t get you. Wasn’t that how it worked? He recalled years and years of pulling bedsheets over his head, hoping maybe this would keep the monsters away. But the monsters were here. And they were very real. And very much not deterred by him closing his eyes.

A soft breath fell on his bare neck causing more shudders to course through him in repulsion at the very thought of her so near him. What once would have had him shivering for different reasons now was utter disgust in his eyes. Soft lips descended and brushed against his collar, a mockery of something he might once have desired. Fred might have once desired to flee, but in his weariness there was nothing. Only the desire for it all to be over. The desire for sleep, dreams, and of course death. He presented his neck just as he might with an executioners axe, readying himself for the inevitable.

It never came.

A crash echoed in the little room. His eyes popped open gasping, looking at the girl before him who had been all too ready to sink her teeth into his throat, confirming what he had indeed imagined and feared. But his gaze was drawn back to the front window where his horned-assailant stood growling and snarling as his body tangled with the blinds he’d crashed into after breaking through the glass. The cool autumn air rushed to fill the room, replacing all heat with its biting chill. Fred breathed deeply trying again to steady his racing heart. The smell of rotting leaves filled his nostrils as wind rushed into the room.

“You Monster,” Morgana hissed. “Stay back, he’s mine.”

The creature still wrestling with the blinds snarled at her, eyes lighting in the darkness with something so utterly inhuman that Fred couldn’t even place it on the spectrum of emotion. He suddenly snapped to motion himself, pushing the chair to topple behind him and then backing further away from the beautiful girl so intent on sucking the very life out of him. Literally.

There was a moment of calm, and then everything happened at once. Morgana lunged at Fred causing him to topple backwards, just as the creature untangled himself and rose on shaky legs. He let out a growl and moved forward at a pace unknown to man. His clawed hands found Morgana’s body and grabbed for it, picking her up as though she was a Barbie doll. Fred again let his eyes close in a defensive reflex. He curled slightly in on himself once more, listened to the growls and screams before there was silence.

The rustle of the leaves on outside greeted his ears, but otherwise there was nothing. After a long moment he slowly looked up again, finding Morgana’s body strewn across the ground, the creature standing panting over it. Yellowed eyes found Fred and seemed to deem him unhurt.

“Why?” Fred managed to whisper, still not willing to rise from his place on the floor.

“Not all is as it appears,” the creature hissed, voice still a deep guttural groan that normally would have frightened the wits out of the boy. But he was already feeling crazed enough he didn’t flinch away. Merely looked at this strange beast that had guarded him, protected him, killed for him.

“No,” Fred whispered, pulling himself up to hands and knees and then slowly moving to stand. The creature growled and swooped forward, clawed hand catching the boy before he could tumble over. Fred’s eyes were drawn down to the sharp nails now resting lightly on his bare arm. There was such gentleness in the way he was held up, in spite of the deadliness that had caused Morgana to be killed.

“You must rest,” the creature said. “You need sleep.”

The boy didn’t protest, lost for any sense of energy or thought in the moment. This creature that had so driven him to this point, was now the one leading him back towards healing. How could that be? The girl he’d thought was beautiful was evil and mad. This creature he thought malignant had in fact disproved his trepidation by being his rescuer, and now his caretaker.

“What’s your name?” Fred asked gently.

If such a ferocious mouth could manage a grin this was it, the twisting of the corners, a little drool falling down a fanged tooth. “Costin. You are kind, asking such, Fred.”

The boy nodded, too wearied to get anything else out. “Was…was this why you approached me on the street?”

There was the briefest nod that Fred almost feared his addled brain had imagined it. The beast spoke once more. ” Seek to know no more,” he whispered.

His eyelids felt heavy. Had those parting words been a spell? Into the darkness his mind slowly crept, disallowing him from rejoining reality, whatever that might be.

-*-

Monday morning. Fred’s gaze could not be drawn away from Morgan Elliot’s form as she giggled and flounced across the checkered cafeteria floor. He remembered his dream so clearly, the strangeness of whatever had happened Halloween night still lingering in his mind. Morgana… No, Morgan, was busy giggling away with her friends, looking at him occasionally while batting those long lashes. He was trying to separate the dream Morgana from the real Morgan, but it was difficult.

On Saturday he’d gone downstairs to find no signs that his Halloween night had been a reality. There was no body, or broken glass. The room was put to rights and his parents asked after him with no sign that they’d sensed anything the least bit wrong. And Fred had been left to constant pondering about the strange enigma of that Friday October night.

He was drawn from his thoughts by Morgan’s shrieks.

“Monster, get away!” she hissed, baring her teeth in a disgusted grimace, dark eyes fixed on the boy who’d tried to sit at her table.

Fred looked up at that. Monster. It seemed too familiar. He fixed his gaze on Gus, the boy who had shuffled to his feet and was edging away. Fred’s heart clenched as he watched the boy’s uncertain gait move towards the nearest empty table.

After just the briefest moment pondering it over, Fred rose and marched past Morgan. She giggled and simpered at him, trying to reach out and grab his arm. He withdrew his hand as though burned, glared at her, and resumed his resolute walk to the previously empty table, slamming his backpack onto the bench and sitting down across from the rejected boy.

Gus glanced up, golden hazely eyes meeting Fred’s blue. He smiled a bit uncertainly, the grin lopsided as always on his somewhat disfigured face. Fred hesitated but smiled back at the boy, not knowing how he’d never seen it before. He’d never really looked at this other boy in earnest, never tried much to see beneath the scars of untold abuse and hurt, knowing so little beyond that this boy bore a face only plastic surgery could probably ever cure.

“Hi, can I sit here?” he asked.

Gus nodded, though there was just a moment of hesitance. “You’re Fred,” he whispered, voice hoarse as though not used to being taken up in speech.

Fred smiled. “Yes, I’m Fred. And you’re Gus.”

The boy’s eyes lit with something akin to happiness, though Fred probably would have gone so far as to call it joy. The deformed mouth stretched a bit more to try to accommodate his crooked teeth into a blinding smile. Fred let his own smirk rise to the occasion. Never had insane dreams had so sweet of consequences.

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air.

-William Shakespeare Macbeth

________________________________________________________________________________

Partially inspired by this prompt: http://themeasureofabook.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/writing-prompt-32/

4 Comments

Filed under Writing, Writing Prompts

Closing the Door- a Writing Prompt

I made myself do a writing prompt today. I noticed short stories were one of the top votes for what people wanted more of, so here’s a short story in dedication of this weeks Daily Post Writing Challenge:

Write a new piece using Nighthawks by Edward Hopper as your inspiration.

nighthawks_by_edward_hopper_1942

So here’s my response to the challenge. Decided to just take my own thoughts on it and roll with it to create a short story.

Closing the Door

The door hasn’t opened since I’ve arrived. It’s a lonely night at Phillies, my typical haunt on quiet nights like these. The cold October air makes a nice cup of coffee in hand a welcome treat. I sip at the bitter drink with relish, glad of the distracting nip the heat gives my tongue. Makes it easier to forget the long work week I’ve had and the emptiness back home waiting for Annie to get back. Ill mothers in New York sure don’t make anything any easier. I’m getting sick of it to be honest.

Hal is working busily behind the counter. He turns and gives me a smile, obviously glad of the company on this lonely fall evening, only the pelting rain on the window giving any noise in the little room.

“Your dame gone again?” he asks curiously, wiping off the counter yet again til it shines. I almost pity the man, forced to try to find work to keep him busy. I hope business doesn’t stay too slow for long.

I smile at the question nonetheless. He always asks after Annie, even though they’ve never made acquaintance. Still, it’s nice to have someone to talk to about it.

“Yes. Caught a train sometime yesterday morning. Thinking maybe we ought to convince the mother to move closer. Can’t keep this traveling going every weekend. It’s not working.”

Hal nods understandingly, probably thinking of his own wife Linda back home with the kids. He’s a lucky man Hal. A wife. A family. I suppose it’s why I worry so for Phillies, not only for my own comfort but to keep this good man employed bringing back bread to put on the table. I often envy him, til I see how empty the place is.

I sip at my drink reflecting on that. I’m just thinking of getting something to eat when the door opens, a bell jingling merrily in its wake. I turn and glance, only to have my jaw drop at the sight before me.

A red-haired woman waltzes in, a man in a smart suit tagging after, holding the door ajar so she can saunter up to the counter and drop into a seat. My jaw is hanging half open, unable to believe it.

She leans against the dark wood, her arms in pale contrast. I gaze cautiously at the red dress adorning her slim form, the wide neckline, short sleeves, the flirty skirt riding up slightly as she sits down. Her dark heels click as she situates herself, turning the briefest glance to her companion beside her, his eyes darting anxiously back as though to ensure all is well.

The tension in every muscle of his broad shoulders is visible beneath the neat tailored lines of his suit, a puppy on the verge of doing some trick, trying to ensure he does it to perfection. His large hand reaches to join hers, swallowing it up. He sits calmly, tall frame hunching comfortably over the counter like his companion, knees folding up neatly to rest on the lower rung of the bar stool. He smiles, lips flitting up as his blue eyes journey back towards the woman who has so captivated his attention.

I sit there unsure how to even react. The cup of coffee in my hand has paused in its journey midway to my mouth, the harsh smell invading my nostrils, wafting into my mouth I’ve left ajar allowing me to taste the teasing steam. A basic instinct of wanting to flee happens first, then a second to rise and take action against events unfolding. But I do neither. Merely shut my trap with a loud clap and sit there gazing on at the scene playing out before me.

“What’s buzzin’ cousin?” Hal cheerfully addresses the man. “You and the girl having a nice night on the town?”

The man gives a crooked grin showing pearly white teeth, looking back at his companion for just an instant before settling into more easy conversation. “Sure are, aren’t we, doll?”

She gives a polite smile, hand moving to smooth the fabric of her dress. “Never better.”

“You two goin’ steady then?” Hal asks.

The man just shrugs, shoulders rising noncommittally to only semi-affirm anything. Hal chuckles seemingly pleased with this answer.

“The usual? Cup of joe?”

She nods and he answers for them both. I sit there feeling invisible for a brief moment, though it suits me well enough. I lean over my cup that’s redescended to the bar, sitting hunched with my fedora partly obscuring my face. Thankfully the couple is completely focused on Hal now handing over two steaming orders, smiling all the while.

“You sure are all decked out,” Hal says, still eager to make conversation as always in spite of the way the couple seems to be looking at each other as though asking for privacy. They seem caught in each other’s gazes, as two lovebirds too often are. “Special occasion?”

A rumbling chuckle comes from the man. “Just treating my baby. I’ve always loved spoiling her.”

“He sure is stuck on you,” Hal says. “Best wishes to you both.”

He turns towards me, but I’ve grabbed a newspaper and am taking to perusing it, though mostly my gaze is moving back and forth, not really paying attention to anything in print. The story in front of me is much more interesting. And I’m not giving up my observation for anything. Not when it seems so apparent that I’ve become utterly invisible to them both, able to view everything I normally wouldn’t.

They chat a bit, quietly amongst themselves, fingers lingering together against the dark wood, his large ones caressing hers. There’s a moment where I think perhaps I’ve been noticed, but curiously familiar eyes seem oblivious, focused only on the sight of love. Hal has busied himself again. He shoots me strange looks every now and then, but I’m just focused on the newspaper, my fedora low over my face.

After what seems an eternity the couple rises. The man thanks Hal with a bright smile, and takes the woman on his arm. She grasps it all too eagerly, clutching her purse in the other hand while looking ready to race out the door. To go home I can only assume, though to what I try not to let my imagination wander too far.

Hal bids them farewell. “Come again Andrew. Nice having you round the place again.”

He smiles and tips his hat to reveal the sandy blond hair underneath. For just a moment I fear he’ll turn and see me, but he doesn’t. And neither does his date, still hanging on his arm. Then the bell rings again as the door opens for the second time before shutting firmly behind them. I glance into the dark street and watch their shadowed forms disappear into the night.

“What’s wrong with you? You look like you’ve seen a ghost?” Hal questions, reaching over to grab their cups and clear the empty counter once more.

“I suppose I did,” I whisper, my voice breaking in spite of my desire to keep it together. I can’t help it. My throat clenches, eyes sting as tears attempt ruthlessly to break free from well designed barriers. “I suppose this means one thing…that Annie is dead to me.”

Hal blanches suddenly. “That’s Annie? You’re joking!”

I shake my head, unable to voice the truth in my broken state. Something in me feels like it’s been torn out. My chest aches, my stomach clenches painfully. I suddenly don’t even want to think of food let alone consume it, no matter how hungry I am.

“Oh Tom, I’m so sorry,” he whispers.

“How long have they been coming here?” I asked, though I’m unsure I want the answer. Everything is adding up now. The weekends in New York. The excuses. The phone calls to give reason for absence. It’d been becoming more and more. I suppose I always should have known.

“A few months,” Hal whispers. “I mean Andrew comes in here all the time with girls. But this one seems to be a keeper. I don’t usually bother to learn their names…I mean…it just isn’t practical. But if I’d known…I swear Tom I would have told you.”

I shake my head. I know full well it’s not his fault. He could never have figured it out. Not with how much he remains in the dark. I always should have known it wasn’t real. It’s me who should have shut the door long ago when I had a chance, when I first thought maybe Annie wasn’t really in love with me.

“What can I do?” Hal asks.

I push my coffee away and put a few bills down. “Take this. That’s it. I…I’ll figure something out myself.”

Hal nods, though he is still looking at me with lines in his usually youthful energetic face. I push off the bar stool, head towards the door, not eager to look towards him again to see the mixture of shocked emotions.

“I’m so sorry, Tom.”

“So am I.”

The bell tingles again overhead and I’m stepping out the door that opened only twice in my hour at Phillies. I shut it slowly behind me, and the sound echoes in the empty air. I wonder suddenly if this is the last time I’ll ever shut it. I don’t see why not. I walk down the same dark street their shadows traversed moments earlier. I walk into the night not looking back. Only knowing that the further I get from the light of the restaurant, the darker things will get. But perhaps that’s alright. I’ll let the night swallow me up, let myself forget awhile. Take my time and figure out how to face the reality, that nothing will ever quite be the same again.

11 Comments

Filed under Writing, Writing Prompts

Soaring- A Writing Prompt

I’m taking another writing prompt up this week to keep working on improving my ability to adapt to different writing situations. This one was quite fascinating and I was drawn to it right away. From Daily Post:

This week, consider the unreliable narrator — a classic storytelling device — in your own work, no matter your genre.

Unreliable narrators are fascinating. Whether it’s Nick in The Great Gatsby with his naive misunderstandings, or Faulkner’s three protagonists in The Sound and the Fury, or the mentally unsound woman in The Yellow Wallpaper, plenty of authors have demonstrated this is a fascinating writing technique and I was eager to try my hand in a short story. In an effort to not give anything away, I’ll inform my readers they are welcome to ask questions at the end or make guesses or discuss their own experiences with unreliable narrators. I don’t want to directly state what’s going on, but if any confusion needs to be made up please let me know! Thanks and enjoy!

1924335_10201467864619093_7938202446298291053_n

Soaring

The birds keep leaving and coming. Lots of them. I sit there watching behind the glass, wishing maybe I could have wings like the birds. Then I could fly away and never come back.

The lady keeps sighing as she looks around. She frowns and pulls out a box and pushes on it, and then sticks it back in the little bag she always carries. I don’t like that the lady is upset. I wish she’d smile. She looks kind of pretty when she smiles. But nothing like mommy.

Mommy was the prettiest lady there ever was. She took care of me. She made everything right.  My lip moves up and down like it does before my face gets wet. I hate when that happens.

We’ve been sitting for a long time. I’m tired and just want to lay down. If mommy were here that wouldn’t be ok. But mommy’s not. I wonder where she is. I miss her.

I hate when the big birds come towards the glass. I get scared and worry maybe they’re going to fly into the window. I hit the window one time. I don’t remember a lot. Only red paint on the glass after I hit it, and my nose feeling runny.

I paint a lot. Red paint. Or maybe mommy does. Lots and lots of paint. Everywhere. Sometimes that’s all I see. Paint. Sometimes mommy paints black or blue too. Sometimes when I look at the boy in the window I see he has black and blue paint also. Or sometimes he’s white like a ghost. Or sometimes he’s red.

The lady looks at me again. I wonder if she paints. I kind of hope she doesn’t. Painting always makes me feel tired and sad and makes me hurt.

A voice like God rings out around the room. I cower and cringe at it. It’s happened several times, but I don’t like it anymore. I think God is angry mommy’s not here. She’s supposed to look after me. She’s supposed to make sure I’m good so God doesn’t get angry. I’m probably not being good anymore.

The lady stands up. Maybe this time she heard God too. She usually hasn’t acted like she heard it. No one else does either. They just sit there and look at papers and talk and put boxes to their ears and talk some more. But this time people get up. They must know God is angry.

“Come on,” the lady says suddenly, frowny face still in place. When I don’t move she says a weird word I don’t know. I don’t understand so I keep sitting. When will mommy get here?

She sighs and grabs my hand. I pull away a little, scared she’s going to do something bad. I don’t know what. Just bad. God was angry earlier, maybe she knows he’s angry with me.

My hand is in hers and she makes me get up. We walk over to two people standing at a weird high table. They smile at us and the lady hands a piece of paper over.

“Have a good flight,” the lady says. Flight? Are we going to fly like the birds? I feel one part nervous one part scared. It’s like when mommy let me have the brown sweet drink with floating little circles in it, and it made my stomach feel all weird but in a good way.

We walk down a long tube to a door and then through that. The lady holds my hand tightly as we move into a tiny little room, but as I turn I see it is really really long, with rows and rows of seats. Another lady smiles at us as we walk on. She looks at me and then looks kind of funny. It’s like the look the people who came to visit gave me before they brought me to the weird bird place.

“You okay sweetie?” she asks.

I look up at the lady, not sure what I’m supposed to say. She frowns.

“He’s had a long day,” she said quietly. “We’re taking him to Salt Lake to live with his relatives…was removed from his mother’s house.”

The other lady makes a surprise face. I push my new shoe in a line on the floor and look at it so I don’t have to look at the ladies anymore. They make me feel bad.

We go sit down in a row. I sit next to a tiny oval window. I look out and see more birds, and the glass windows I was looking out of earlier. I smile as I watch the birds fly. So far no one seems too mad at me. Maybe things will be ok. Maybe God wasn’t telling them I was being bad.

The lady leans over. She says that weird word again I don’t think I’ve ever heard before. Tyler? “Have you ever been on a–?” she asks. The words are mixed up like when mommy puts things in her little can and pushes the buttons and they spin up and mix all together like goo. I don’t know what she said.

I shake my head, not understanding at all.

“We’re going to lift off the ground in a few minutes,” she says. “But don’t be scared, ok?”

Lift off the ground? I look out the window again and picture what it’d be like to fly with the birds. Sometimes when I was with mommy I’d look at the birds in the tree outside and think how nice it would be just to fly off into the blue sky. Fly all the way to heaven since mommy told me I’d never get there. But maybe if I had wings I could.

The lady helps put a belt around me and then there’s more voices from God, but he sounds different from before. And I sit back and try to relax even though my chest keeps going up and down really fast. And then suddenly the long skinny room is moving and when I look out the window the building is getting further and further away. I clutch at the little bars next to my arm and stare outside.

We go faster. And faster. Soon we’re racing. Faster than I ever could run. And then suddenly there’s this strange weird feeling in my tummy and we’re suddenly looking out at the ground moving further and further away. And I feel so strange and good at the same time, and my ears hurt a little, but not too much. And before I know it I’m staring down at the small little world beneath me, soaring into the big blue sky.

“You’re going to be ok, Tyler.” The lady says, but I don’t need her to say it. I already know. A smile blooms on my face. I’m finally free.

10403560_10201300394112435_3578213632407257811_n

7 Comments

Filed under Writing Prompts