The Fountain

I wrote this a few weeks ago, at the behest of my longest, dearest friend. The one who has stuck by me through good times and terrible. I was having a bad night, and he told me to write. Begged me to write, for release. Just for me.

You see, I was sitting in my car, in a store parking lot, and we were talking on the phone. And the dam burst. I had had a bad day, a bad week, and the deepest cries of my soul burst forth into him as they have so many times over the years.

I’m sharing it now.

For me.
For you.

For Tomás.

~

Watching the clouds roll in, she could feel the mood shifting. It shifted in the way a wounded animal’s mood shifts. It shifted in the way a broken heart shifts. It shifted in the way a distraught soul shifts.

The mood of the Universe was shifting.

She observed the rich but deepening blue of the night sky grow increasingly dark.

Ominously dark.

It was the clouds. But calling it a cloudy night is spurious, a red herring to throw one off from the event unfolding. It wasn’t a cloudy night. The mountainous wall of thick cloud laid waste to the sky, laid waste to the light, as it marched forward, assaulting the beauty of the night and robbing her of the glory of the Cosmos.

She was one with Cosmos. It had always been so.

She could feel the pulse of the earth.
She could feel the wind’s breath.
She could feel the raw power of storms thundering through her body.
She could smell the salt sea and sense unexplored depths.
She could smell the crisp clean air of untamed mountains and wildernesses.
She could feel the humid, damp earth of the forest floor and spot the slick and shiny slime trails of banana slugs and wonder upon their journey and purpose.
She could feel the shuddering earth as herds and hordes raced across the land, to greener grasses, to better mates, away from danger.

She feels the moods of the Cosmos. They are connected in some ways deeper than the connection of lovers.

She weeps when the Earth weeps, when the sky weeps.
She aches when animals are in pain, and she shatters when humans tear each other apart.

And she yearns. She aches. She needs.

Always looking up. Attuned to both the Earth and the Heavens. In awe of the unique and nightly paintings splashed across a shifting atmospheric canvas. In awe of the sea of stars carpeting the night sky. In awe of powerful light sources that looked so dainty to the naked eye, but were in truth powerful enough to burn one alive should one approach too closely, their beauty too much to behold in full.

She is not empathetic. She is empathy. And only the vast and mighty Cosmos understand her, and she it.

empath-challenges

And tonight, she wonders, and not for the first time…

Am I feeling the pain of the Universe?
Or is the Universe feeling mine?

Is the mountain of clouds drowning my light?
Or is my own darkness shrouding the universe in a cowl?

She tilted her head up, unruly curls whipping wildly about her head, and gazed up at the terror unfolding. The Others seemed oblivious. Doing their shopping, scolding their children, honking their horns to hurry, hurry, hurry. But not her.

She was attuned to things others ignored or had never been aware of at all. She could see that which was real and dismissed that which was not. She could see into the eternal. Searching in earnest for a sign. Any little sign that it would all be okay. And just as she was about to hang her head and weep, she spotted it.

A single rogue star, peeking out from the shroud.
Her breath caught, her pulse quickened, and she emitted the tiniest little squeak of joy.

And then.
And then it was gone.
The star was overtaken.

She gulped back tears, and the pain in her chest intensified with every advance of the mountain. It was overhead now, and as she gazed upon it, she could see in its darkness a swirling, seething mass of heartache, loss, lack, loneliness, pain, hate. It overwhelmed her gentle soul and seemed impenetrable. She collapsed to her knees on the pavement, one hand gripping loose asphalt, the other gripping her chest.

The Cosmos were dying, and she was dying with it.

Her heart pounded and hammered and raged against the dying of the light, until slowly, slowly it became the tiniest flicker of the tiniest ember. With the last bit of strength she had, she forced her head up through the viscous mass of cloud. She could see nothing. This was no mere darkness. This was a complete and utter lack of light. She slowly, uneasily and with growing frailty rocked back on her heels, thrust her hands up into the mass and up toward where she knew the heavens hid.

She opened her eyes to the darkness. She allowed it into her. She became one with the darkness and felt all of the pain. All of the anguish. All of the love and loss and heartache and death and betrayal and war and famine. All of the poison. All of the lack. She felt it all. Overwhelmed by the vastness of it all, she gasped for breath and clutched her chest once more.

Please, she whispered.
Please, she pleaded.
If I’m causing you pain, I’ll do better.
If I’m feeling your pain, please help me.
I’m dying under the weight of your pain
.
Share it with me.
I’m taking your pain into me; take mine.
Be one with me as I am one with you.
Let us heal each other
.

When the first fat raindrop plopped onto her cheek, she brushed it aside as yet another tear. But then another and another and another raindrop followed, until she understood and looked up, bathing her face in it.

These aren’t my tears at all.
They’re yours.
Let us bathe in each other’s tears and cleanse each other of this palpable darkness.
Let me love you.
Let me love you, and others will follow.

And the tiny ember of her heart kindled once more into a crackling warmth. And she knew, she knew all would be right with the Universe. With herself. And so she did the only thing there was left to do. She stripped down to her naked skin and gleefully bathed in the fountain of the Universe.

Because no matter how thick the clouds.
No matter how dark the void grows.
The fountain always appears; the font never dry.

They simply have to hold fast through the storms, through the darkness, through the pain.

Together.

And the fountain will rejuvenate.
Restore.
Cleanse.
Heal.

~

Thank you, Tomás.

For the words.
For the listening.
For the kindred.
For the soul.

For the unconditional.
Love.

For the fountain.

Splish
Splash

 

 

Imprisoned: A Short Story

The exterior of the house was battered and damaged from the countless storms it somehow continued to withstand. Its color resembled that of an overripe peach, covered in bruises with spots gone to rot.

But inside the house? Oh what wonders there were to behold! Intricately detailed tapestries adorned the rich mahogany walls. The wood floors were polished to a reflective sheen. Elaborate chandeliers hung daintily from the vaulted ceilings. Centuries of wisdom lined the custom bookshelves. The Persian rugs were of the finest quality, and the sheer, silken wisps of curtains fluttered wistfully when one passed them by.

The resident of the weathered but stout little house suffered from no small dose of madness. Pacing the interior, day by day, year after year, she knew the layout and felt safe there. Safe, but lonely. Safe, but distraught. Safe, but afraid. Safe, but morbidly disturbed.

When necessity demanded it, she would venture forth from the walls of her home, her prison. Warily, shakily, relying on her cane to guide her steps.

She could feel their glares. She could feel them watching her every move. She could feel their judgment. But she couldn’t actually see them.

She was blind, you see. Blind to the world. Blind to her surroundings. Blind to herself. She trusted no one. It’s not that she wouldn’t. She couldn’t. She was incapable of trust. She refused to rely upon anyone but herself, so convinced she was that no one else would care for her.

People were kind to her, helping her fetch things from shelves or warning her of dangers she had yet to discover. She was blind to this, too, and could not trust their motives.

But the townsfolk were confused.

You see, though she stooped as she walked, she didn’t appear frail. In fact, she looked quite strong and stout. Like her house that appeared ready to collapse but stood strong against the battering winds that would cause most to crumble. And though she was blind, her eyes were clear as the trout pools the local men fished in the spring. Bright and clear and beautiful. There was no question of her fragility, however, but one could not see it with one’s eyes. One could not observe it outwardly, aside from the way she blanched at the slightest touch or stumbled backward when one moved in too close.

Try as they might, they could never break through her invisible barriers. They were friendly enough. Friendly as she’d allow them to be. But they kept their distance, respecting her apparent need for solitude.

But they didn’t know.

No one knew.

About the prisoner she kept locked away.

~

Returning home from one such outing, the blind woman wiped her muddy boots all over the Persian rug lining the floor of the foyer. She was blind to this as well, fully incapable of seeing the richly appointed home in which she dwelt. She wasn’t careful with it. She wasn’t respectful of it. If only she could see, perhaps then she would wipe her feet before entering. If only she could see, perhaps then she would keep things in better order. Such as it was, she tossed her groceries carelessly into beautifully etched glass cabinets. Once, in a fit of madness, she threw a bottle of sweet cream, shattering both a cabinet door and the bottle. She cried as her blood mingled with the sweet cream but never bothered to remove the shard of glass from her foot.

Every door in the house remained locked, only opened when she had immediate need of whatever lay inside. Otherwise, she forgot the other rooms even existed.

One door, however, she could never forget. Never far from her mind, she tried to keep it locked. But somehow, somehow, the door would swing wide now and again of no force she could ascertain. The draft which escaped from that door sent sinister shivers into her core, covering her flesh in goosebumps. She would shake and weep and curl into a ball on the floor, rocking and sobbing, overcome with such a feeling of destruction and great loss, of grief and sorrow, of stabbing pain and hopelessness. Once the draft finally settled, she would gather herself and close and lock the door. After testing the door to ensure it wouldn’t open again, she would return to her cold and stoic demeanor, denying that the room even existed.

~

Beyond the door, a narrow staircase led down. Down into the basement of the weathered but stout little house. The subterranean room was spacious, its footprint perhaps larger than the house that stood upon it. Covering it. Hiding it. Both protecting and imprisoning it.

This room was cold and dingy, stripped bare of all beauty and joy. An odd assortment of things lay randomly scattered upon shelves thick with dust. A stuffed purple bunny. A small porcelain turtle seated on a leaf. A dusty stack of children’s books. A stack of letters penned in the most beautiful script, all opened and bearing signs of multiple readings. A framed photograph of a smiling elderly woman, a small white puppy perched upon her lap. A strange taxidermic frog holding a guitar. Mostly neglected, these were the only things that gave any semblance of happiness to the otherwise stark room.

Intermingled with these innocuous but seemingly happy little things were other, darker things. A tattered shirt with a bloodstain on the shoulder. A photograph of a child seated on the laps of an unknown couple. A doll with finger-shaped bruises on its neck. A paddle with holes drilled in it, wrapped in layer after layer of thick, black electrical tape. A bowl of pickles. A small black and white television, playing a video on loop. A video of a man bathing his daughter; she played with her little ducky as he told her to be quiet. A tiny pile of broken toys.

In the exact center of the room, there knelt a little girl. She was filthy, covered in a thick layer of dirt and grime. Her hair was long and matted, wildly unkempt. What remained of her clothes was a tattered, disheveled mess of thin, holey fabric. If one looked closely enough, one perhaps could discern that it used to be a little white dress, homemade and scattered with tiny red hearts. Her knees were bloodied and scabbed, her dirt-caked hands tipped with sharp, shattered nails, fingertips callused and devoid of fingerprints.

She’s starving, subsisting on rotten scraps tossed down by the blind woman. The woman doesn’t properly care for her. The woman hates her. The woman hides her and wishes her away, but the little girl refuses to be ignored.

She feeds on rot and poison and nightmares. Her bones protrude through her skin in places, and she is in pain. Constant, relentless, malicious pain. Her heart glows through her chest, and though it is covered in scars, still it beats. And still she perseveres. Still there is an aura around her, a dim halo of flickering hope.

Looking closer, one would see that the little prisoner is digging. Scratching. Clawing at the ground. Fretting away at the earth to get at what lies beneath the thick crust. She wasn’t sure what she would find. But she felt, intrinsically, that it was important. Deeply important. And if she didn’t uncover it, she would finally wither away.

The scratching leaves the woman awake at night. She yells and scolds the little girl, hurling vituperative verbal assaults down into the dark. Piling on the abuse and neglect. Intentionally hurting the little girl in hopes that she will cease her digging and lie quietly in the dark.

But the tiny prisoner is tenacious, relentless, ceaselessly worrying away at her work. Year after year. Day after day. Hour after hour. Until the day she finally rocks back on her heels with a gasp, her broken little fingers clasped over her mouth.

~

The woman bolted upright in bed, heart hammering against her ribs. So dazed and shocked was she that she tumbled to the floor as she attempted to don her slippers. Righting herself, she grabbed her cane and cautiously, apprehensively made her way to the basement door. To the forbidden door. To the cell door.

She stood just outside, one palm pressed flat to the door. Where there had been a steely cold before, there was now a thrumming warmth emanating from the beveled door. It was slight at first and would only have been noticeable to the woman. But slowly, steadily, the warmth creeping into her through her palm flickered and grew, warming her icy cold veneer and penetrating into her frozen heart.

She never thought this day would come. She stood upright for the first time in years, but dared not open the door.

Not yet.

~

Scraping, clawing, digging for years, the little girl had finally reached down far enough to uncover what she hadn’t known she was looking for. It looked smooth, but jagged. Broken. She spat onto it and rubbed at it with her thumb. It was blue, a rich cobalt blue, with a nice shine once polished. But she could tell this was only a small part of a greater whole.

Weeks of relentless, punishing scraping ensued, after which the little girl stood and began splashing preserved water rations upon the floor. Pulling her tattered dress over her head, she knelt upon what was left of her knees and scrubbed the entire floor until it shone.

Once satisfied, she returned to the center of the room and spun slowly round and round. The tentative smile that had been cautiously building over the last few days finally spread into a full grin, until an innocent giggle escaped her lips. A giggle full of joy and hope and dreams. A giggle of release from bondage and demons. A giggle of freedom. A giggle of glorious realization.

Her eyes fell upon the precious pearl in the exact center of the floor. She scrubbed this extra carefully, until its iridescence shone to reveal its glorious perfection.

Slowly she backed away until she stood upon the first step, so that she could take in the fullness of it.

Clapping her hands and bouncing on the balls of her feet, the childlike joy radiated from her in glowing waves that rippled out from the center of her precious being.

~

When the woman heard the gentle yet insistent knocking on the door, she clutched her hand to her heart and nearly fainted. Though she’d kept the little girl prisoner for all these years, she had intentionally avoided direct contact with the wounded creature. She was too dirty, too scarred, too unclean. It was better to ignore such things, leave them to die. Yet the little girl had persisted. And now she wanted to be acknowledged. She wanted to meet the woman on the other side of the door.

In spite of herself, the woman extended a shaking hand to turn the knob, opening the door.

And there she was.

The scrawny, bruised, damaged little girl stood naked before her. Fully exposed in all of her pain. But something radiated from her. Warmth? Yes, but that’s not quite it. Hope? Definitely, but there’s something else here. Something…something more profound. Love? Selflessness? Healing? It’s…wait. It’s right there, just waiting to be uncovered.

“Life!,” cried the woman. “Forgiveness!,” the woman exclaimed. “Beauty! Beauty! I can see! Oh! Oh! I can see! I am whole!

“Not yet,” whispered the wisp of a girl.

The woman wept unabashedly and clasped the little girl’s extended hand. Following her down the stairs, she stopped on the last step. The little girl looked up at the woman for approval. The tears spilling down her cheeks, down her neck, between her breasts, testified to her regained sight.

She looked around, taking in the magnificence of the floor. There were shards of different colored pottery and glass, broken to bits and scattered everywhere.

But.

They had all been salvaged and put back together, forming an entirely new pattern. Oh the shards were terribly broken. But they had been carefully, lovingly, meticulously crafted into a mosaic so beautiful that it pierced the soul. A mosaic far more beautiful than the sum of its parts. The woman wept and wept as she allowed the little girl to guide her to the center of the mosaic.

The little girl pointed at the iridescent pearl.

The woman fell to her knees and released a cry. A cry so great, it rocked the walls and windows of the house.

The little girl knelt beside her and took her hands, placing both sets of hands upon the beautiful orb, pulsing with light and warmth. The power of the two of them together, working as one, fused together to generate a heat so great that they merged into one being.

A new, more beautiful being. The broken bits coalescing into something more beautiful and more powerful than they ever could have been alone.

NEBULA

The Wallpaper

The Wallpaper was beautiful, ethereal. When you looked at it from a certain angle, it could make you erupt into fits of laughter. Tilt your head, and now you softly weep. Try another angle, and your heart would skip a beat. Another still, and your soul would soar beyond the corporeal. One might say there was a special magic to it, though there were but few capable of seeing it.

It covered a single room, smallish in size as far as rooms go. To say that the room was in a severe state of disrepair would be an enormity of an understatement. Furnished with two worn chairs, a small, stained and rickety tea table, a lone bookshelf overflowing and buckling from its burden and a dingy window showing only peeling paint and crusts of dirt.

There was a time when the chairs, so richly upholstered, would have been considered beautiful and welcoming in their comfort by anyone’s standards. There was a time when the varnish on the bookshelf was so rich and polished that you could see your reflection if you held your head just so. There was a time when the dingy window was carefully kept clean and crystalline, so that you could gaze upon the beautiful and wondrous lands of The Dreaming.

The Wallpaper made up for the room’s deteriorated state. In fact, only the room’s Inhabitant recognized what was happening. Only the room’s Inhabitant knew that the Wallpaper was next. The Keeper of the room, however, remained oblivious to the creeping neglect and the devastation it would wreak.

The last day of Autumn found the Inhabitant ensconced in the only chair ever used. One leg bent and tucked beneath the other thigh, the Inhabitant reached for a sip of tepid tea. The chipped cup forthwith dropped from a trembling hand as the Inhabitant saw it. The first crack in the Wallpaper.

Terrified, the Inhabitant bolted to the door and woefully wailed and begged for help. With obvious annoyance, the Keeper approached to inquire what could possibly be so wrong as to create such a ruckus. Choking on sobs, the Inhabitant pointed at the crack in the Wallpaper.

Moving closer to inspect, the Keeper fingered the new curl in the Wallpaper. Whirling back on the Inhabitant, the Keeper proclaimed that this was nothing. The Wallpaper is fine. In fact, the tear gives it character. When the Inhabitant pointed out that damage left in disrepair spreads and rots, the Keeper angrily chided and admonished against overreaction.

I am the Keeper! Not you! Only you would even notice such a thing! This is NOTHING!

With the slam of the door, the Inhabitant slowly stanched the flow of tears and sat back down. Keeping watch over the Wallpaper became the Inhabitant’s sole fixation. Slowly the tiny crack spread. Down, down, down, until finally an entire sheet had curled to the floor.

Once more, the Inhabitant begged for the Keeper to tend to it. This time, the Keeper showed a modicum of concern and immediately re-glued the curled strip back upon the wall. Mollified, the Inhabitant returned to unlocking the worlds within the precious tomes littered about the room. The Keeper stayed away, doing whatever Keepers do instead of Keeping, ignoring the Inhabitant’s warnings about the Wallpaper’s fading luster.

The day before the first frost, the wilting Inhabitant mournfully watched as the Wallpaper covering one entire wall crumbled to dust and slowly settled about the room. The Keeper heard a strange sound and finally checked on the room and its Inhabitant. The Keeper was alarmed to discover the Inhabitant keening and rocking and scraping at the thick crust of dirt covering the window.

“What’s the matter with you?”, questioned the Keeper.

The Inhabitant’s throat was coated in dust, and the response was gravelly and subdued. “I need to see. I need to dream again before it’s too late.”

“You see what I want you to see. This is My Room. And I am the Keeper,” admonished the Keeper.

With great trepidation, the Inhabitant pointed a gently accusatory finger at the naked wall and tried once more, “Look. Look at how you’ve Kept it. I warned you this would happen. I begged you not to neglect it. The Wallpaper. It’s dying.”

“It doesn’t matter. Nobody even notices Wallpaper. You’re crazy, and stop scratching at the window like some caged animal,” the Keeper scornfully returned. “I’ll paint over it. The window and the Wallpaper. So we can be done with this nonsense.”

Deep in the heart of winter, the Keeper suddenly thought of the Inhabitant and stormed into the room only to pause and look around with perplexity and great fear. The shoddy paint job allowed bits of irreparably damaged Wallpaper to peek through. The rest lay curled and crumbled about the floor. The books had gone to dust and every surface of the room thinly cased in ice.

The Inhabitant had faded: skin nearly translucent, head lolled to one side, breath coming out in slow, measured, white puffs of air.

Slowly meeting the eyes of the Keeper, the Inhabitant whispered, “It is time.”

“No… No, you can’t mean it! I forbid it!,” shouted the Keeper.

“But the Wallpaper is dead. It has suffered, and it has died. Only dust and decay remain,” the Inhabitant stoically replied.

“Why did you allow this to happen? You can’t let this happen,” implored the Keeper.

The Inhabitant shed a single tear and solemnly raised a mirror to the Keeper’s face. “Tell me what you see.”

“A Keeper. A Keeper that couldn’t Keep.”

The Inhabitant stood and touched the Keeper’s cheek. As the Keeper wailed and reached for purchase on the Inhabitant’s body, the Inhabitant slowly faded from the earthly plane. Returning home, to The Dreaming, with a faint twinkle and hope of Spring.

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The Keeper cursed and wailed and blamed and pounded the floor and begged the emptiness. And the vacuum created by the Inhabitant’s departure caused the door to swing inward, locking the Keeper into a room now devoid of anything worth Keeping.

Free to Be: A 100 Word Story

He opened the door and stepped aside, allowing her to cross the threshold.

You’re late. Testing me, are you?

Why am I here?

This is what you want. This is what you need. And you know it.

What have you done to me?

I’ve done nothing but allow you to be you.

You’ve freed me?

You’re free. Everything you are, from the surface to your core, is free.

She covered her face with her hands, weeping silently into them.

Why do you weep?

I’ve never been free.

Pulling her hands from her face, he firmly spoke, Get used to it.

A Family Afflicted

This little tale was an impromptu response to a fellow blogger’s prompt. He asked that I tell him a story. I asked what kind of story, and his response was “a fictionalized account of real life.” The following is the story I told him.

~

The house was situated a quarter mile back from the main road, though there was a straight shot from the front window to the traffic beyond. For the most part, people steered clear of the little house set apart.

It’s not that it wasn’t part of a larger community; it was. But the occupants never acclimated to the area, nor had the townsfolk ever warmed to them. It certainly didn’t help matters that the woman was a bit touched in the head. She could be spotted walking the sidewalks, muttering to herself, wringing her hands, her eyes glazed over as though she wasn’t focused on anything.

At least not on anything anyone else could see.

Following the general rules of communities such as these, the local gossips cast aspersions on the small family which consisted only of the woman and her three children: one boy and two girls. No one knew if the father was in the picture or if, in fact, the woman had simply conjured them up. Such can be the nature of small town gossip.

On the day of the Annual Harvest Festival, nearly all of the townsfolk gathered around the main square: bobbing for apples, getting face paintings of cornucopias and pilgrims, carving pumpkins, taking hayrides in old Farmer Wilkerson’s rig, the usual Harvest Festival activities taking place on Main Streets all across America.

All save The Spooks that is, which is what the townsfolk had taken to calling the little family that avoided social functions without fail. It was a relief, really, because people grew quiet, wary, fearful even when the family was around, say in the grocery or the little three room schoolhouse.

On this particular day, the woman was out on the porch, rocking rocking rocking in her chair. She stared out at nothing.

At least not anything anyone else could see.

The boy and the younger daughter had wandered off to the nearest neighbor’s orchards to relieve the leaf strewn grounds of their sweet apples and tart pears. The elder girl was in the back of the house, taking a bath.

She locked the door before getting undressed, as anyone with an older brother is wont to do. Stepping into the bath, the hot water turned her pale skin a deep shade of pinkish red. As steam fogged the mirror over the sink, her ever-present anxiety elevated. Thoughts of Bloody Mary and other schoolhouse nonsense flitted through her mind. But she cast them away and commenced washing. She was a bit hurried in her actions now, though.

The house was quiet. Too quiet. The others were gone, but the mother should have begun preparations for dinner by now. Wringing out her washcloth over and over, squeezing it along her arms and upper body, the girl rinsed and prepared to finish her bath.

And then it happened.

She gripped the washcloth so tightly that her fingernails dug painful crescents into her palm. Mouth agape, she watched as the knob on the bathroom door slowly, silently twisted. First all the way to the right. Then all the way to the left.

The lock was still in place. This shouldn’t be happening. It’s simply not possible.

She held her breath and was struck by the fact that there were no sounds at all as the knob turned again and again, moving slowly as through molasses.

She finally found her voice and called out, “James!? Caroline?! Mama??” No one responded to her calls, but the knob slowly ceased it’s turning.

Cautiously rising from the now tepid bathwater, the girl wrapped her dripping body in a ratty towel and tiptoed toward the door. Heart pounding at her rib cage, she unlocked the door and jerked it open.

Eyes wide, she clutched her hand to her chest and backed into the bathroom.

When James and Caroline returned with potato sacks full to bursting with their contraband, Mama was nowhere to be found.

The worried duo found their sister wearing Mama’s nightgown and slowly rocking in Mama’s rocking chair on the porch. Try as they might, they could get nothing out of her.

The girl’s eyes had glazed over, and she muttered unknown words in a barely perceptible whisper. Ceaselessly wringing her hands, she stared off at nothing.

Or at least not at anything anyone else could see.

~

THE END

Mere Words

Before she could give herself over to her nerves, she dialed the number. It rang four times, and she thought the person on the other end had decided not to answer.

She nearly hung up, but she knew she was being foolish. You’ve spent your entire life being a fucking coward. You know you don’t have to be that way now.

“Hello?,” was the hesitant answer.

“Hi!,” she exclaimed, heart slamming against her rib cage. “I may as well tell you now, but I’m nervous as hell and don’t know what to say.” The stammering speech and nervous laughter testified to this.

“I don’t want to talk to you,” came the curt reply.

Silence followed.

“This isn’t good enough. It will never do, and there’s no time to explain just now.”

“I’m sorry to have wasted your time,” she muttered in a hoarse whisper.

“Meet me after work. The bench. You know the one, by the lake in the park.”

“…okay.”

“We’ll walk to my place from there, because you’ll never understand through mere words.”

Click.

Winds of Change: A 100-Word Story

Fearsome winds whipped sodden detritus about her feet, the ground slick from last night’s storm.

Only mist now meandered its way down from still laden clouds, caught in wisps of wind here, trickling down a lamppost there.

Adjusting her hoodie and leaning into the wind, she stuffed her cold hands into her pockets and trudged forward.

Heart pounding, she couldn’t stop, magnetized toward something unknown. Heady from winds of change, dizzy in contemplation, she didn’t see the limb in her path.

Looking up at the boy that caught her, she knew she had finally found the source of the pull.

An Island Getaway (from me): A 100-Word Story

She met him at the airport in Dubai. Blushing and hopeful, she waited for him to embrace her.

But he never would.

He offered a tentative smile and motioned toward the gate with a nod of his head.

Hopping aboard the plane, they embarked on the next leg of the journey. Onward to an island paradise. With so much nervous excitement, she had looked forward to sitting beside him on the flight.

But he leaned away.

The week passed slowly: him writing on the sofa, her crying in the bedroom.

She waved goodbye, broken and spent.

He never looked back.

~

Thank you, T. Wayne, for inviting me to participate in the 100-word challenge. Y’all should check out his blog – he talks about a variety of things and with impeccable writing, at that. His music posts and personal reminisces are my favorites. Go give him a look-see. You won’t regret it.

Eduardo Spotted Philandering In New Mexico

Y’all….Eduardo has been spotted. Though I don’t know what it means that he requested Chili Peppers while bumpin’ uglies. (I swore I’d never use that phrase: bumpin’ uglies. Fuck, I just did it again.) I introduced him to the peppers…I’m reading too much into this. Oh dear.

Anyway, this has made my night. 😀

All Things Chronic

https://stephellaneous.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/eduardo-the-company-man/

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A local reporter caught this shot of Eduardo leaving a well-known brothel early on Tuesday morning. (Photos taken yesterday.) The ladies who serviced Eduardo said he was very polite, a good tipper, and that he asked to listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

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Eduardo*: The Company Man**

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*The protagonist of this true story tale of whimsy shall be referred to as Eduardo. (Make sure to roll the “r,” or the fake name loses its charm.) His true identity shan’t be revealed. I assure you this is quite necessary, as I would meet a certain death were I to reveal it.

**Eduardo insisted I refer to him as Company Man rather than Company Lizard. He called me specist, but I think he’s just being sensitive. I say we should refer to him as the Company Being and be done with it. He told me to stop being an asshole.

This is a true story, except for the parts that aren’t almost all of it.

~

Chance Encounter with a Company Man

I first met Eduardo the night he appeared outside my bathroom window. I was startled, to be sure, but immediately smitten. As soon as I laid eyes upon him, I clasped my hands and gave a sopranic* shriek of delight before dissolving into a mass of giggles. (*Sopranic is definitely the adjectival of soprano; trust me on this.)

He hadn’t meant to blow his cover, and he blames me for the Lavatory Rendezvous. You see, he’s drawn to the light. It’s a serious weakness for someone in his line of work. But so long as the bathroom light beckoned into the darkness, Eduardo was my prisoner and I was in control. (Eduardo is an opportunist, you see. And nighttime lights provide a veritable buffet of light-drawn insects.)

Before we parted, I asked Eduardo to pose for a photograph. He tried to refuse but knew I would have my way so long as the light switch was in the up position. But he did adamantly protest a portrait. I readily acquiesced; after all, I wouldn’t want him being taken out. So long as I couldn’t pick him out of a lineup, there remained plausible deniability. Besides, he said, his belly is his best side.

Eduardo, shamelessly exposing his soft underbelly. He asked me not to tell you that I pet his belly through the glass. Oops. Sorry, Eduardo.
Eduardo, fearlessly and shamelessly exposing his soft underbelly. He asked me not to tell you that I pet his belly through the glass. Oops. Sorry, Eduardo.

Eduardo returned every night for weeks after that initial encounter. Drawn by the light that I switched on at dusk and left on until bedtime, summoning him to the window.

I learned that it’s tough for a lizard (skink, whatever) in The Company. Shower times are particularly problematic. People don’t seem to understand his need to climb the walls and peer down, flicking his tongue at rogue water droplets in hopes that one of them turns out to be a bug. So now he showers alone, but he hasn’t found anyone to turn the faucets on for him. No thumbs, you see.

Besides, he’d always aspired to be an Observer.

The resemblance is uncanny.
The resemblance is uncanny.

I told him the Observers weren’t real, and he said, “You know nothing, human.” This time I called him a specist, but he only snorted in derision. According to Eduardo, the requirements to become an Observer are far more rigorous than those of The Company. But it’s on his bucket list. For now, he just tries to avoid being called a spook. He prefers Company Man to that.

spook

Over the course of our nightly visits, Eduardo filled me in on his life story. He’s Brazilian, which you may have surmised from his chosen pseudonym. It was no accident, that, though he hasn’t worn a ponytail since his days as a capoeira instructor when he used it as a weapon.

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We talked about music – he turned me on to salsa and water drumming; I turned him on to the Chili Peppers and LL Cool J. And he spoke of his wandering eye, his philandering ways, hence why he’d chosen this life over settling down and having a passel of lizardlets. I swear I saw a glint in his eye, the tiniest scintillating hint of a tear, but he dismissed it as a shimmering scale left behind from his last meal. I let it go. A lizard man has his pride.

~

It’s been nigh on a month since last we met. I’ve all but given up on the nightly lighting ritual. Try as I might, I can’t help but think the worst.

Eduardo is most certainly floating face-down in the Mediterranean Sea, subsequent to being shot when he had a change of heart in the midst of an assassination attempt. I can only hope that some gruff but kindly fisherman will happen upon Eduardo and rescue him before he freezes to death.

But until I know for sure, I’ll leave the light on.