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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Eavesdropping

I could tell you the story of what really happened, but that would be no fun. No one wants the truth. They want the fantasy, no matter hoe gory or outrageous it truly is.

There I was minding my own business and sitting in the middle booth at the Corner Cafe – a little nook tucked away off Seventh – where no one but me came to sip coffee and play a game of Solitaire. With real cards. None of that computer crap I saw everyday I walked from my apartment to the restaurant. All those blank faces distracted by their tiny screens and angry birds.

I should have been writing, but words faltered and remained stuck in my head. To busy my mind, I passed the time with cards and chatting to Rosie, the blue-haired waitress with arthritic hands which shook when she set my coffee cup on the table.

I liked this place, although I had no idea how it stayed open, given the only customer I ever saw was me. My endless refills of coffee could hardly keep this place in business…

And then one day, the glass door jangled and banged shut, trapping inside two giggling voices, breathless, almost giddy, like they were in love.

“Table for two, please,” a female’s voice chirped.

Rosie gestured to the empty restaurant.

“Don’t think that will be a problem,” she shrugged. “Seat yourself.”

Despite my silent please, a young couple plopped themselves into the booth in front of me, interrupting my blank view of the wall. They sat together, their backs facing me, whispering furtively.

“Do you think anyone say us?” the boy asked, glancing out the window.

“I doubt it,” the girl giggled. “Let’s just enjoy the afternoon before they figure out I’ve disappeared.”

I recognized her voice from somewhere. The brilliant hair of fire, too, neatly pulled into a bouncing ponytail at the middle of her head. She was someone famous, internationally known for her big doe eyes and brilliant smile.

And he was a nobody. I could tell. The way he hunched forward, then sheepishly eyed her, his cheeks blushing at her innocent stare. He lacked the confidence of a leading man, but she like that. Thought it was cute.

“How long before they know?” he asked her.

She laughed, “Oh, I’m pretty sure they already know. But who cares? Let’s have lunch! I’m starving.”

They cuddled together, lost in each other’s self, as I listened to their murmurs, sighs, and tender remarks. The outside sun crept behind the skyscraper across the street, and shortly after, they were gone themselves, their clandestine rendezvous drifting away with the words I had heard that afternoon.

– Written on March 28, 2012

a Kiss

I think kissing is often underrated. Especially the first kiss between two people. It’s such a powerful event. I can remember most of my first kisses with incredible clarity. Especially my very first kiss. I think her name was Amy…yeah, haha…here I am talking about “incredible clarity” and I can’t even remember her name! Well, I remember that I met her that same night and my friend Matt introduced us. She was the type of girl that EVERY guy wanted. Carefree, fun attitude…friendly…tall but not too tall…beautiful, long, dark brown hair…cute laugh…well, ok, I don’t really remember her laugh, but I’ll assume it was cute because a bad laugh can be quite the turn off. She and Matt had been friends and Matt liked her, but they didn’t have any romantic history. Not that it would have been a deal breaker either way.

I was entranced from the moment we were introduced and if I had been able to pay an ounce of attention to anything else, I would have noticed that Matt was not happy that her attention was going more in my direction than in his. Not happy at all…but I wasn’t concerned with my friend’s feelings at that moment. I was 14 years old, walking through the July twilight on an old Hinsdale, Illinois sidewalk with this amazing girl that I just met. My friend could have been hit by a bus and I wouldn’t have noticed. The next hour or so is a blur. I know we walked into town…probably to get something to eat. Ice cream, maybe? Seems likely to me…sometime between then and the walk back, I remembered that my friend was there. Probably because on some primal level, I saw him as a threat. At some point on the walk back, she was a few steps ahead of us and we started talking about how nice her ass was… I made a finger frame (picture frame with your thumbs and index fingers) and was looking through it saying, “ooooh, look at that” and she caught me! I’m surprised that didn’t ruin my chances with her right there. I must have played things cool after that because a few minutes later she and I were talking and my friend Matt got ahead a few steps. It was dark outside and the street lamps cast a magical glow over the sidewalk. I wanted to kiss her and my heart was probably beating a million times a second as I tried to figure out the right moment and how to do it…and whether she would kiss me back or not. Something happened, like jumping off the high dive for the first time, and I just did it. I took a couple quick steps to get in front of her, and turned around to face her. She stopped and asked me what I was doing. I said to her, “I’ve been wanting to do this all night,” and leaned in toward her lips…and she leaned in toward mine…and it happened! With fireworks and marching bands, and crowds of people cheering, and streamers falling from the sky!

– Written by Mr. T on March 26, 2012

Dreams

We pull up to a house – my non-descript comrades and me – and climb out of a van with plush, velvet seats and a smooth leather steering wheel. Who are these people I’m with? Their faces blurred and blank – oval clay heads I call my friends, my lover, or siblings. Maybe even my enemies, despite the comfortable acquaintance which leads me to full them toward the single-level house…

Only inside, there are three levels. Are we on the side of a cliff or mountain where the stories drop down one side until they hit a vast, flat backyard with lush emerald grass and a sparkling aquamarine pool. I want to live here – is the house for sale?

I wander with a faceless friend, who opens closets and peers inside. Musty coats and jackets hang cramped together. Decade-old wrapping paper stacked atop wooden shelves.

Until there is a narrow staircase which lures us through the door to a downstairs cavern lined with shimmery white stones and a hearth adorned in fire. We walk past this mysterious room, searching for something more. In the distant hour, the rumbles of thunder erupt a splitting crack as if the world is being halved in two.

And it is. I feel myself falling, falling, falling through open air, my fingers whipped by the sharp breeze that stings my bare skin. My beating heart lurches and freezes in fear while I wonder, is this the end?

It isn’t. Thin, leafy branches catch my soaring body, grasping for me with their ample limbs, but to no avail. With a thump, I land on the ground of an open field brushed with gold and lavender grains. Where is everyone? They are gone. I worry about snakes slithering beneath the tall grass and think to myself, I have to get away from here. There is no sun, but the sky is blue and somewhere far away there is a gray road where a car might come if I hurry fast.

I break into a run toward the road which stays on the horizon no matter how far I go. Why is this happening? This crazy field, the out of reach road. How can I make it stop. Come closer. Go away.

I run up to a fence, where there is a barn on the other side. A tattered, dilapidated barn that once was burgundy red, but now hunches over as a rotting brown. This place can’t be safe, but against my will I move closer to the swinging door with squeaky hinges that cry out as the wind rocks them back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth. There is a persistent urge to find what’s inside…

And just as my fingers lightly touch the aged door, a chime sings to me from behind. When I turn away to see the source, my eyes are opened to the pitch black room where my alarm is reminding me it’s time to wake.

– Written on March 25, 2012

Eclipse

Step right up and see the mighty magician. Azra Candelabra, perform his most amazing feat yet! Tonight, for one time only (!), Azra will move the moon into the Earth’s shadow! That’s right, folks! Tonight, our most impressive magician on the face of this planet will obscure the full moon – and you will not want to miss it!

Well, now how’s he gonna do that, son? What kind of power does he have to move the moon like that?

Yeah, moon’s pretty far away, I think. What’s he gonna do? Rope it with a string and pull?

Gentleman! You ask questions and tonight you will see all your answers when you come to Azra Candelabra’s most spectacular magic show! Tickets are on sale today for FIVE DOLLARS! Heck, I like you so much, I’ll even give ’em to you for FOUR-FIFTY! That’s more than HALF-OFF! If you wait ’til tonight, tickets will cost you TEN DOLLARS!! Don’t pay that much tonight! Get your tickets now while they’re still cheap! Remember – this is a once in a lifetime opportunity that you won’t want to miss! Bring the kids and give ’em a story they’ll be able to pass onto the generations to come! The night Azra Candelabra moved the magnificent moon into the Earth’s shadow and blocked the moon’s light from everyone’s view!!

Five dollars is a lot of money, if you ask me. Circus costs us only three dollars when it comes to town, and we can see lions, tigers, bears, clowns, and those funny people who fly through the air.

Sure, miss, that’s true, but have you seen a lion, tiger, or clown turn off the moon’s light? No? Well, tonight you can!

He’s gotta point, you know. People at the circus can’t move moons. At least no person I’ve ever seen! Boy, I’d like four tickets!

Ah, you’ve gotta point there. You know what? I’ll take two!

Me, too!

I need three!

Step right up to this line folks and tell me how many you need! Don’t forget your Uncle Bob and Aunt Bo! They will surely not want to miss this incredible opportunity to behold the amazing, SPECTACULAR Azra Candelabra turn off the full moon’s light when he blocks it with the Earth’s shadow! Don’t be the odd man out – get your tickets, on sale, right now!

 

– Written on March 14, 2012

Bowling alley

Using the prompt to practice setting description…

Outside the night was still and quiet, all the cars parked neatly into rows, waiting patiently for their drivers to emerge from the cement gray building lit up by a flashing neon sign that called out “Senior Citizens play for 1/2 price every Monday!” Inside the cinderblock, the Norse gods roared, pounding hammers against the wooden floors. Weighted balls rolled mightily, boasting to nonchalant pins, “Heed my call!” as they ominously barreled toward the end of the road, aiming for the impact of a crash us mortals would try to avoid in our everyday lives. But not here. Not where we eagerly anticipated the smack of dense weight against innocent pins that catapulted into the air and fell stoically on their side when they struck the wooden earth. A medical arm reached down and swept them to the back lair, a dark cavernous space masked by black, where the gods and mortals alike did not bother to go because there was nothing behind the curtain that was important enough to see. Instead, patrons stood at the giant conveyor belts, waiting for colorful balls to pop out like Pez while small numbers popped onto computer screens. Maybe this one would be a strike. These bowlers were an interesting lot – balding men with paunchy or bulging bellies – depending on the number of beer pitchers perched at their tables, where slabs of greasy pizza and stone cold french fries were left until the second go-round; aging women who battled against their years, masking the deepening wrinkles under layers of oily foundation and bright blushes and red lips, their dyed hairs molded firmly into place with gels and sprays; middle-aged couples with glazed eyes and few words left to say to one another when they finally escaped the house of screaming kids for a night and ended up here, lulled by the heavy crashes that weren’t followed with whiny cries. A night at the movies would have put them to sleep, which is why they ended up here, slumped tiredly in the haze of neon light and trails of cigarette smoke that crept across the vast room, barely overpowering the pungent odors from sweaty feet and stale beers. Ah yes, this was a Friday night at the Bowling Alley – the place to come when you had nothing better to do – which happens a lot in a small town. And that’s what kept this place alive.

– Written on March 4, 2012

Cowboy

Using the prompts to build character descriptions…

He leans across the bar, his boot casually kicked against the wooden backing, his leather hat tipped low over his eyes and casting a dark shadow over his tan, weathered face. A frosty glass of beer sits coolly on the bar top beside him. Almost as cool as him.

Is he watching the other ranch hands playing cards in the far corner or the barmaid singing on the stage across the room? It’s hard to say.

His dirt-covered boots and jeans haven’t been washed in days, maybe a week. Not much time for cleaning when he’s on his horse herding cows across the plains all day, sleeping for a few hours beside his fire before dusting off the hat at daybreak and doing it again.

Tendrils of dark hair curl against his neck. He’s due for a cut, but his early morning departure to the next ranch won’t leave him time for a trip to the town barber.

But while he’s here, he drinks in the night scene of a one-road town, listening with one ear to the jovial piano man’s fingers flying across those ivory keys, while the other eavesdrops on the gruff conversation between two unhappy men down a ways from him at the bar. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see one peering suspiciously at him, trying to make out who is stranger is, but the cowboy pays him no mind, reaching for his beer and cocking his head to hear the barmaid’s canary song.

– Written by Miss A on February 29, 2012

Separation

Separation changes two people – two sisters, a parent and child, friends, strangers, enemies.

What happened to the two sisters whose bitter love and hate for each other was torn apart, ripped across the seam, their ragged clothes thrown across opposing sides of the room? Their scraps were made into other things, formed into strangers with new lives of their own. Their blood watered down into a weak wine that wouldn’t age well, not while they festered in the same musty cellar.

What happened to the father and child who clung to each other for hope and love until the Reaper swung his scythe and sliced the bond in two? The child who was forced to remember what had been taken from her forever while the father would never recall anything at all. The permanent separation bittersweet and painful for the one who was left behind.

What happened to the two friends who grew so close for many years, knowing each other’s secrets as if they were their own, and then moved apart, distanced by miles, relationships, family, life? Their knitted bond unraveling at the seams, two threads drifting apart until one is caught in the wind and blown away. Every once in a while, a call or an email to say hello, until those lines of communication run dry, disconnect, disappear.

What happened to the strangers who had never met at all, only to find they were intertwined all along when separation split a crack in their lives? Separation as they were briefly interconnected, passing one another on the street, standing in a line at the store, or sitting in the same restaurant, before moving on – forward, backward, sideways – never speaking a word beyond a curt “hello” or “excuse me.” To what extent would the separation impact them unless one or the other is struck by a car, collapses on the floor, or chokes on a piece of dry bread – momentarily bringing them together if the other rushes to help or turns to acknowledge the incident, capturing the fleeting time in an imprint to be remembered years from now as that day when – when what? When the passerby died? Lived? Survived?

What happened to the sour enemies who heaved their grudges atop their staunch shoulders, stubbornly carrying them wherever they walked in life, despising the other for her path, his career, or her power. Breathing angry fire at one another for all of their lives, thriving off the black heart which consumes the happiness they lack to feel when one crosses the other’s mind. Their only moment of reconciliation converged at the time of death, when all the bitter resentments on which one has survived have suddenly lost their target for hatred, and without that gripping ire, do they themselves have the strength of carry on?

How has separation changed you?

– Written on March 2, 2012