Bicycle Days, Part 1/3

It’s been awhile since I’ve published on here – not because I’ve forgotten, but because I’ve been a bit busy with other things.  And somewhat lazy.  But that’s not a valid reason lol.

I wanted to include part of a short story I started that was inspired by a casual walk on campus and a favorite movie of mine.  This is just part 1 of 3, and even that is tentative (who knows – maybe I’ll have to have a part 4?  We’ll see).  I hope you enjoy!

The wind whipped across her face.  She lifted her right hand from the bicycle handle and pulled her hood closer toward her nose.

It was one of those semi-gray days.  You could hear the clouds whizzing past, but you could also see scraps of white sun if you looked for holes.

As she pedaled down the sloping road, the eateries on either side tugged at her raincoat in pleading.  The town was small and its appetite even smaller.

But she was a picky eater.  Italian didn’t look appetizing, and neither did Indian.  Ever.  What else?  She sighed into the wind, swallowing some air in the process.

After her stringy calves pedaled her further, she finally came across something that wouldn’t disgust her.  It was a small Korean eatery that she almost nearly passed, her head turning backward to keep looking.  She dropped her feet to the road and pulled herself backward and up the road with her boots, looking like a penguin.

Just then though, she felt a whoosh of hard air at her ear.

It passed quickly, but she lost her balance and fell.  Her bike followed.

 

Stay tuned for part 2/3! 🙂

 

~ Ruth

He Dreamt of Gunpowder

Hey guys!  It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, but I assure you that I haven’t stopped writing.  In fact, maybe I’ve been so busy writing that I haven’t thought to post here!  In any case, below is a poem I wrote for a class – the idea was that the poem should be centered on a historical event.  I hope you enjoy (despite the event I chose)!

 

Mama, I’m missin’ the grassy days, but c’mon…

Here’s to

Forever.

 

Drunk in the mind, aren’t we all?, but where is…

All the

Fun?

 

And I realized too late, he thought fireworks were just…

Child’s

Play.

 

All those bangs… when did fireworks become…

Bullets and

Blood?

 

So fast forward to ’44, beautiful days, but not…

Out

Here.

 

All those bangs…  when did fireworks become…

Cannons and

Blood?

 

So now we’re crashin’ to the ground and…

Nothing’s

Fine.

 

Why nobody can see, I’m blind, but really…

I feel

Alive.

 

I’m splashin’, dashin’, in the ground, and now I’m…

Feeding forest

Ferns.

 

And for real, I’d have rather gouged them out…

My hazel

Eyes.

 

Oh, please, just make me a little crazy!  So I can taste…

A bit of

Love.

 

Because really when you think, Mama, …

Nobody wears

Eyes.

 

And now I see, oh those jungle branches swingin’…

Right like

Knives.

 

I’m empty, I’m naked, I’m sick, sick, sick….

Sinkin’ in

My mind.

 

Mama, I tried to keep their scoundrel hands…

Off my

Arms!

 

But now we’re standin’ in a line smilin’…

Grimy and

Crying.

 

All those bangs… Mama, when did fireworks become…

Bullets and

Blood?

 

And Mama, now I’m coughin’ from underground…

Swallowing

Smoke.

 

I want to push back, but my brain’s dead weight, I’m just…

Bones and

Stone.

 

I once dreamt of traveling through that plane….

Away from

This land.

 

But it seems that somebody out there played us…

Like

Toys.

 

Ha!  Joke’s on you, I didn’t pay for that useless…

Scrap of

Metal.

 

Ain’t it funny how time’s cogs and wheels don’t shiver…

In the

Cold?

 

I saw you droppin’ down, the days were ticked…

Red pins

Scattered.

 

Now I’m lost without you… nappin’, laughin’, oh those

Firework

Nights…

 

Now that you’re finished reading, I just wanted to say: the invention of gunpowder was absolutely tragic in many ways.

 

~ Ruth

 

Him

I’ve taken a look through my old writings and found this particular segment from my junior year of high school.  (As usual, it’s dark and depressing, haha.) And of course, I’ve done some editing to the original writing to reflect my personal changes and growth in writing.  I guess junior year was my writing prime time.

20 minutes.

He was beautiful.  His long, wavy hair curled around his face like a fallen angel’s.  With an otherworldly gleam, his dull eyes reflected the dim pallor.  It was beautiful.

15 minutes.

His lips parted slowly with each puff of smoke he took, each side bleeding.  His mouth was so dry that he could taste the unnatural bitterness of his own cheek, of his flesh.  He wanted to get up for water.  Please leave me alone today.

10 minutes.

Scarred like his arms, jail bars wove the confines across his mind.  The knife of regret hung close by, digging into his bruised, destroyed leg.  But the parlor’s dim light reflected upon it—always.

7 minutes.

An eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind.  An eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind.  But it hurts.  Oh, god… An eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind.  It hurts everywhere. Oh, god.

5 minutes.

He opened his backpack.  Stupid notecards.  “Fermentation is a chemical process in which microorganisms break sugars down into miniscule molecules for use in living systems.”  Stupid notecards. Then he closed it.  Please be dead.

3 minutes.

His back nestled into the comfort of the curtain rod and wooden frame.  Click! And his feet knocked right into place on the familiar cold floor.  I remember.

2 minutes.

Peacefully he lounged amidst the smoke puffs and whispers and daydreams.  Maybe I should move my pack away?

1 minute.

What a white ceiling!  Indeed.  So beautiful!  Of course.  It deserves a grin, like me!

30 seconds.

Why are my cheeks wet?

20 seconds.

So lovely!

10 seconds.

He smiles.  Missing teeth can be beautiful after all.

5 seconds.

Knock knock.  Clunk, clunk, clunk.  “Get over here.”

0 seconds.

Life is a beautiful thing.

 

~ Ruth

 

The Glassedge Experiment

I’ve always been into dystopias and science fiction-esque stories, so I took that direction a little bit here with this quick short story I wrote.  It details my love for cats, my fear of our future, and a bit of other stuff you’ll have to figure out.

 

            There it was, a fluffy wisp of its tail beckoning him closer.  He tried to rub his eyes.

            Could it be?

            There, staring back at him, was a ginger kitten. 

            Kittens and pets were supposedly nowhere but in the government’s Glassedge District.  They certainly weren’t allowed here.  No luxury or pleasure was allowed here.  You were supposed to work for hours and hours and then go home to a bare, plain room to sleep.  You were supposed to realize the beauty of work and then take it to the next level. 

             The street was so clean in this rich city area, making him so out of place.  He turned his head both ways, back and forth, to find that the street was unsurprisingly empty.  Everyone was undoubtedly still at work.

               They’ll inspect everything.  Do as the authorities say or else.  At least you had a choice—end up a speck of dust on the floor, or end up unchanged… save for a bloody gaping hole laser-shot clean through your chest.  The Artificial Intelligence Force, or the AIF…  They’ll inspect everything.

            But against his will, he found himself reaching for the ball of fur with its luminous, adoring eyes.  “Mew!”  mewled the cat as it let out a slight yawn, and his heart fell at his feet.

            So he picked up Munchkin the kitten and placed him in his Work Organizer, out of sight.  His coal-stained hands from the day’s mining left a dark smudge on Munchkin’s face, and now, the kitten look like a scraggly warrior.

            He hurried down the street with his beaten charcoal coat flapping against his torso.  There was no reason for him to be suspected of anything—nothing was visibly wrong with him—but he looked out of place all the same.

            “Mew!”

             Shh.

            He pressed the flap of his Organizer tighter until the kitten’s mewls were nothing but muffled sadness.  Then he draped his mining jacket right over the Organizer, and voilà!  No sound to be heard, no sight to be seen.

***********************************************************************

            It was a good two hours before he finally found himself home in his apartment.  He’d taken the wrong train twice, and then he’d accidentally found himself in a strange district where each building hardly stood from the ground. 

            Clearly, it was a place for the lowest of society.  To live here would be repulsive.

            Not that his own housing situation was echelons above this one.  He had his own tiny apartment to deal with, one in which there was only one central room in which to sleep, eat, and idle.  At least his own place wasn’t ratty like he suspected the ones in this district to be.

            He tore his eyes away from the crumbling stone building across the street.  Under the shelter of a rusted roof, he called a cab home.  Given everyone’s long work hours, it was no surprise that the cab arrived in an instant.  He straightened his Work Organizer and sat down in the smoky haze of the passenger seat with only his destination escaping his lips. 

            As they disappeared into the growing night, the tired driver’s eyes crept back and forth within their beady holes, searching for street names or maybe something more.

***********************************************************************

            Munchkin had been in that bag for a while now.

            He was terrified at that; how could anyone or anything be okay covered in a bag like that for so long?

            But just then, a nuzzling movement snapped him out of his panic—ah, there’s the squirming—and so it was okay.

*********************************************************************** 

            Setting his Organizer down on his apartment floor, he lifted the flap and set Munchkin free into the small but empty room.  The kitten crawled out of the bag, dazed as could be.  It collapsed straight down for a quick nap on the bone-colored carpet.  The hazy, dull light outside shown on the kitten as his fur rose and fell.

            Adorable.

            He stroked Munchkin’s soft, trembling chin and felt love.  And fear.  And a strange surge of anger.

***********************************************************************

            “It’s game over for you.”

            The AIF Bot’s elongated black screen of a face buzzed with each word, an electrical blue line rising and falling on the screen with each syllable.

            He had nothing to say.  He merely looked down at his hefty, stained-black boots.

            But then: “What becomes of the kitten?”

            “It’s yours, you traitorous scum.  But you’ll be no longer.”

            He had nothing to say again.  Maybe he was cheering internally.

            But then: “Speak to me.  If I’m not being executed for owning the kitten, then why am I being executed?”

            “Don’t order us around.  And that?  Something you don’t need to know.”  One of the other AIF Bots had spoken this time.

            Now, he was met with confusion.  “Don’t I have a right to know?” What’s going on? “What… is this all?”

            Almost eagerly, AIF Bot #3 laser shot a hole straight through his middle, even though he hadn’t told the AIFs if he’d wanted to go out of this world with a hole in the chest or as nothing but a gray speck of dust.

***********************************************************************

            AIF Bot #7 held the kitten in its sleekly-designed white arms.

            “Mew!”

            He stroked the kitten’s face but felt nothing for him.  He wanted to feel something for him.

            It’s sad that you don’t know love.

***********************************************************************

            The hole in the body had no blood around its edges.  Well, it wasn’t really a body—it was more like a robot or machine.  There were countless singed wires within the hole the laser had shot, wires so black and sizzling that you couldn’t tell their different colors apart.

            “Such a shame that he was an experiment gone wrong,” said AIF Bot #2 to AIF Bot #1.

            “Indeed.”

            AIF Bots #1-6 whirred their ways out the door, the electronically broken body still lying there as it had been when it’d collapsed.

            AIF Bot #8 merely looked at AIF Bot #7 and held the kitten for a brief second.

            “Mew!”

            “It’s a shame that they wasted so much programming on him,” AIF Bot #9 said.

            “A shame indeed.  He was a Glassedge, but he only amounted to a coal miner,” said AIF Bot #8.

            Munchkin purred.

            “The dumb bloke didn’t even know he was Glassedge.  He didn’t even know he could own a kitten,” continued AIF Bot #8.

            “Yes, a true shame.”

***********************************************************************

            The rest of the AIF Bots had cleared the room. The only occupants now were AIF Bot #7, the kitten, and the body of the Glassedge Experiment.

            Munchkin purred.  “Mew!” he mewled.

            And with that, AIF Bot #7 wished he could feel.

 

~ Ruth

Forms of Terror for Those Who Fear Dying Young

One of my favorite poems I’ve written!  This is just a numbered poem I wrote… I hope you notice and appreciate the little details I put into it.

53. Starting
54. In the wrong place
55. Brown pants
56. Lustful stares
57. Oh little amorous boy
58. Remember
59. Light switches scared you?
58. Lethal museum of
59. Memories
60. Crawl alone
61. Into night
62. Without companionship
63. Not even a cat.
64. Don’t
65. Get me
66. Started on that, but
67. Let me work it out
68. And hopelessly
69. Leave out the
70. Painful Details
90. I once cherished
91. Midafternoon
92. But math
93. Hurt me.
94. Counting down
95. Growing bitter
96.
97. Or
98. Worse
98.5 Yet to come
99. Never hitting 100.

[**The random words given by a friend include the following: cat, brown, lethal, amorous, light switch, detail, museum]

 

~ Ruth

Elephantine

I wrote my first version of this short story in junior year of high school, and now as a sophomore in college, I’ve given it a much-needed update.  I hope the story surprises you and leaves you thinking.

The gritty concrete nibbles into the pockets of my Levi’s, but I don’t mind.  I crouch onto my haunches and let my knees release a satisfying creak as I squat down by the wall.

            I swear to god—I’ve definitely seen that yellow Beetle cruising around town before.  Yup, I can’t help but notice the telltale bumper sticker on its side, so shiny and mesmerizing.  I think it’s one of those cool “Coexist” stickers, but I’m not sure.

            “MARISE.”

            I look up.

            “Quit zoning out, or blocking me out.  Really, I don’t know with you.”

            I gauge the situation and automatically rate it a ‘six:’ disappointed demeanor, slit-like eyes carved by a packaging knife, and – the bloated face?  I guess it’s not quite red enough for a ‘seven.’  Go me!  I’m right again!

            “Look down at your jeans,” he points.  Then he raises his caterpillar eyebrows in a way that makes me want to either guffaw or smile, neither of which is appropriate at the moment.

            “You know I’m clumsy, mm?  Surprised?”

            “Hardly.  And stop. They’re Levi’s for heaven’s sake.”

            I widen my eyes pointedly and gesture to the deep black fabric.

            He grits his teeth threateningly, so I sigh and halfheartedly dab a napkin at the left thigh of my size tens.  Size tens… I have elephant thighs, according to Jules. 

Red globs of slushy hug the little napkin fibers.  Then, shoop!  Up they go to investigate my slightly stained pants.

            “All right, we’re goi—”

            “Can I buy another slushy first?”

He’s looking at me with a decided “no,” but then he pauses with a blank expression.  “Unless it’s for Janis.” Surprisingly, he smiles, wistful, sympathetic, and…

…sad, I think?

            “It is.”

            He still wears that expression.

            Brushing off my elephant thighs, I head toward the door and hear an airy jingle from above.  He follows me inside.

            “Make it quick.  I have places to go.  I’ll drop you off back at the house right after this, so hurry.”  His tone has obviously changed.

            With a few dollars less in my pocket, I’m out the door again with another triple cherry bomb slushy in tow.  I’m automatically brought back to the memory of the first time I’ve ever had one of these bad boys: it was the time Janis had accidentally dropped her Wendy’s frosty on my fifth grade graduation dress.  She’d felt so bad!  She’d hugged me tight and bought me my first-ever cherry slushy with her allowance money.  “You’re all right, big sissy,” she’d said.  And in spite of my last-minute change into a new dress, graduation turned out pretty great, I suppose.

Don’t sip it.  I pull the straw closer.  Nope, stupid.  I pull it back.  Uh-uh. Oh, maybe just one sip… Damn it, I know that Janis will throw another fit if my “mouth germs” happen to “infect” her straw.  Looks like I’ll have to find that stubborn girl and give her the slushy before I give in.

            Our feet crunch across the gravel in unison.  I pull open the gray Honda door and plop down unceremoniously onto the stiff seat.

            He ‘tsks’ at me disapprovingly.  Apparently I’ve forgotten I have a “problem item” in my grasp—the red slushy.

            “You do it on purpose.”

I look down pointedly at the still-clean seat.  But still, I guess I’m not a very good soldier.  I’m willing to wager that I make a better elephant.  Yeah, have at me, Jules.

            With a turn of the key and a stab at the gas pedal, we’re suddenly off.  There’s no traffic in sight, which means smooth sailing—in silence, as usual.  Within seconds, I’m passed out in the shotgun seat.  My earbuds hang loosely in my ears and sway to the rhythm of the Honda as it hisses into the swallowing night.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

            Mm….  Hm, hrngh…  What?

My eyes open slowly and then slam shut.  Then open again.  I spy the familiar tan driveway easing into view and notice that the sky outside has darkened considerably.  A beautiful, clear moon sits in full sight on its starry perch.  We’re parked in the driveway, so I open the car door with a forceful and systematic swing.  Then, since it’s nearly a ritual for us, I hop out and salute goodbye to him while he pulls immediately out of the driveway and away.  The little Honda disappears down the road faster than the yellow Beetle had.

            I turn to the door and heave it open, kicking off my worn Doc Martens onto our scuffed green rug.  My size tens make it awkward because apparently size ten means I’m too big to move.  It is completely dark in here, and it looks like our automatic lights have not flickered on just yet.

            “Janis!”  I call.  “Janis, I’ve got a slushy for you!  Triple cherry bomb, so hurry your butt up!”

            No reply.  Well, of course.  Dumb preteens.  Time to find her and bring her to justice with a little bit of tough love, a little bit of hatred.

            “Janis, you idiot!  Why do you always pretend you don’t hear me the first time?”

            No response.  Again.  What is that damn girl up to anyways?  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised though, since it’s always been this way.  See, with Janis, she’s always so aloof and hiding because she’s got the best surprise for you in store.  I’ll never forget the time I was eight—she was four—and I’d come home from school with a sad face for the sixth day in a row.  Unsurprisingly, I was the weird kid at school who none of the other kids liked, and I suffered dearly in terms of nicknames: “poopy head,” “weirdo,” “bug lover girl,” etc.  None were too specific, save for the last one, but they still hurt. 

And so I’d come home that day from school feeling sad, looking for Janis, hoping for anyone or anything on which I could take out my anger… but where was Janis?  It’s funny how she seemed to disappear whenever you needed her. 

With all options out of the question, I settled in front of my mismatched dollhouse filled with dinosaur figurines.  A deep funk cast over me as I picked up a crew of dinosaurs, haphazardly mashed them together, and called them a family.  But just as I was settling my beautiful dinosaur family down into the lonely kitchen, Janis had burst into my room with a giggle and a handmade card in her hands. 

I remember being so confused and then happy as I opened the little pink card… Inside was a really poorly-taped praying mantis figurine for me to add to my dollhouse collection, in addition to a sweet note that said in scrawly scribbles, “You arnt a poop hed i love you luv janis.”  The ‘s’ in her name had been endearingly backwards, like an evil snake turned good.  After I looked happily upon my first bug figurine, Janis had smiled and swayed back and forth saying, “Mommy told me I could w-we could get buggy cause I said you were sad c-cause of the poop heads at school.”  And I’d smiled and hugged her tiny pink-covered frame with my own gray-covered arms.

            Now, here she was, at it again, with this whole nowhere-to-be-found business.  Surprise, surprise… that wonderful little bitch. 

“JA.  NIS.”  I make loud slurping noises.  “I’m sucking on your straw and ‘infecting;’ it, so hurry up, lazy!” 

When I don’t hear footsteps, I sigh.  I set down her slushy a little too harshly on the table corner.  Naturally, the lid goes flying off, and now the floor is coated in triple cherry slush.  An explosion of vivid red lies on the dark wooden floor.  What a mess.

Wow, I’ve used up so much of my clumsiness quota in one day.  But it’s the usual. 

I dab furiously at the tragic spill.  Once again, I observe the white little fibers as they latch onto the red flecks, but this time the single napkin isn’t enough.  I grab more and repeat the process with my army of napkins.

            I dare to peer inside the Styrofoam cup.  It is now very battered despite having been under my care for less than a day.  Heck, less than an hour.

            “Shit’s great,” I mutter under my breath.  “Now there’s barely anything left.  Joke’s on me, Janis already hates me.” 

            Then, louder, for Janis to hear my broadcast: “I KNOW YOU HATE ME, Janis!” 

It strikes me as odd that I’m screaming this now, because just a few summers ago, there’d been this agonizing public experience in which I’d yelled the exact same thing at the park.  I really did feel like an accusatory fool that day.  As I recall, it all began with this routine I had of storing a pack of gum in my battered Hello Kitty jacket (which I abhorred) for every park trip.  I loved taking two pieces at a time and glomping them together for a huge ball of gum to chew on. 

Mm, what can I say? —it was a daily park ritual.

That day though, as I reached for both the monkey bars and my first stick of gum, I panicked.  My hands felt around in my pockets and touched nothing but sticky sides.  In my shock, I slipped off the edge of the playground platform leading into the monkey bar pit.  The pain was pretty intense, which would have been unfortunate if it weren’t for the fact that I wanted my damn gum.  Yeah, my bleeding elbows could wait.

My suspicious mind jumped straight to Janis as the culprit. 

So I called her out in front of the whole park.  “I KNOW YOU HATE ME, JANIS!  AND I HATE YOU, TOO!!”  It was one of the loudest yells of my life, but Janis took it in stride, I guess.  She’d jumped off the slide, confused and looking a bit hurt, asking, “What?  What did I do?”  I was seething with anger—yes, over an 18-pack of Trident Spearmint gum—and so I shoved her a little too hard into the slide.  But then, the thing was, a girl about my age ran right past me at that moment.  Her mouth was wide open in laughter to catch her stupid friend. 

My sharp, accusatory eyes spotted a green blob of chewed gum bouncing up and down in her idiot jaw.  Target acquired.

Time to handle this bitch once and for all with a confrontation. 

In retrospect, it was a wild assumption to make on my part, to assume that this random eleven-year-old girl had stolen gum straight out of my sticky pocket, to assume that she hadn’t just gone to Walmart herself to pick up some similarly-colored gum.  But I was right that day—through blubbering fear, the stupid girl confessed to me that she had indeed nabbed my precious eighteen-pack right out of my pocket. After her confession, I harshly grabbed back my gum pack from her criminal hands.  And of course, Janis had been watching the whole thing, so I felt a little bad that I’d accused her.  For the first time in my life, I might even have considered myself publicly embarrassed.  Without a word, I’d laid out my palms to offer Janis my gum pack as a token of silent apology.  Yet she’d only curled back my bleeding fingers with the gum still enclosed in my palm, and she’d smiled at me.  Keep it, Marise!, she seemed to say. 

What a nice-ass little sister, huh.

But I’m back to the present now, and I’m getting a little concerned.  I’ve called Janis so many times, and she still hasn’t answered. 

Where is that girl?  What is she up to?

Maybe Janis isn’t doing so great?

“Hey!  Janis!  You good?”

            No response.  Again. 

I really should go find her now.  Aren’t I the older sister?  Aren’t I the responsible one who should be looking out for her?

But before I act, I stop to think for a second.

 She can’t possibly be out; it’s a school night, and she’s too good for that.  She’s probably not out shopping with Jules, since Jules is a stingy bitch.  She’s probably up to something up there… drugs?  Is she trying to hide them while she can, before she answers me?  That doesn’t sound like Janis though.  She’s probably just going to the bathroom… but she always takes her damn phone with her and would have sent me a mocking text by now.  Maybe she’s asleep… or, uh, I don’t know.

I’m actually starting to get worried now.  And there’s a stupid iciness snaking up my arms.

            Now I’m darting for the staircase. My feet, cocooned tightly in my slippery socks, fumble clumsily for grip across the slippery wooden floor panels.  We used to play “don’t touch the lava” here on couch pillows almost every day.  I’m running up the stairs two steps at a time now, which I’ve been told too often is not a good idea, especially for someone as clumsy as me.  I bet my elephant thighs are clapping together, and it’s probably really weighing me down.  Somehow, I still can’t escape Jules’s disapproving gaze from our family portrait on the dank wall.  It’s the one she always wears around me.

I’m out of precious breath by the time I reach the top of the stairs, but I quickly gain my composure and burst into Janis’s room.  I hear an airy jingle from high above.  The slushy is still bouncing in my hands.  I flip the light on with a flailing arm, and my hands shake.  I think—I hope—everything is all right.

            “Ja.  Nis.”  I pause.

            She’s frozen and already looking up at me, as usual.

            “Janis.  Don’t tell me you didn’t hear me screaming the first time.”

            But she’s frozen and already looking up at me, as usual.  As always.

            “You totally did.  You totally heard.”

            Janis is frozen though, like I mentioned, two-dimensionally.  She’s already looking up at me.  As usual.

And I’m so damn sick of the usual.

Yep, I said it.  She’s always on the bedside table.  Frozen.  She’s always like that, doomed to stay on the bedside table forever unless we move her.  Stuck here.  I’m so stuck, too…

            “Ja.  Nis.  Don’t tell me you didn’t hear me screaming the first time.  Screaming… at you to get out of that pool.  Begging you to… to get out so that you’d be here with me still.”  My throat is a bitten cloth and my words are shy moths.  Then I remember to smile.

            “We’ve all had a long day, I guess.  We should be off to bed by now.”  I prove my point by yawning loudly.  As I yawn though, drops of stinging water blur my vision.  This is bad, because in the distant past, I’ve been told that these water droplets make you become an easy target for the enemy.  You are inherently weak, and being the elephant that I am, it really isn’t helping my ability to blend in here.  But I’m also a soldier, apparently.  And a soldier is supposed to be tough and forget how to feel.

            I grab two-dimensional Janis and hug her close in her frame, which is her forever house now, a stiff lonely cage.  I tuck the two of us under Janis’s dusty covers.  I hold Janis—her cage—close to my face.  Etched into the cage are the words ‘In memory of…,’ but there’s nothing written in the little square they left for a name.  They should have put her name in sparkly Sharpie here.  She would have liked it.

The cage: it feels so cold and empty…

I’m half-asleep, half-lost right now—lost in thought.  And all I do is remember…

And remember…

And remember.

But… what if I don’t want to remember?

And then I remember that it’s useless because I’m an elephant.  I’m an elephant, Jules.  That’s me.  It’ll always be me, just like Janis’ll always be a glossy sheet.  Just the usual.

And an elephant never forgets.

 

~ Ruth

Navy and Fading (A Night To Remember)

On this rainy day, I’d like to present to you a writing segment I’ve been working on recently.  I think that this segment would be perfect to incorporate into a more complete story someday, but for know, “ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat!”

Of course, writing a fuller story would change the course of the current story as it is, but I’m willing to make changes to it later.

Anyhow:  And now!,  in an unsurprising tribute to usual morbidity!, I hope you’ll read my mind at work.  Please don’t enjoy it too, too much. (ha. haha. ha.)

“This is how it’s going to be, huh?  Forever?” She breathed out a cloud of smoke and flicked her wrist to let the ashes fall to the sidewalk curb.

Out beyond was the full moon, staring back at them in solemnity.

“I guess so… This is how we were made.  We weren’t made for the rest of this shit,” he mumbled as he gestured to the electric rush of cars beyond.  The glow highlighted the silhouettes of the closed, rickety shops just before them.

He inhaled a puff of smoke and let it whirl out in a tired haze.  Then, he fell back in surrender onto his olive green parka.  His foot found rest atop a few shards of beer bottle that he didn’t care to move.  Mm, must have been a few drunkards like me and Mags who just didn’t give a fuck.  Maybe a late-night graffiti run? That bottle would have been easily chipped and shattered, maybe with the help of the elements over time.  Or, he wagered, a reckless teenager’s car.

She sighed, wiping subtly at her nose with an oversized plaid sleeve.  With a lazy but deft sidestep, she laid down right next to him.  Her feet propped and arranged themselves atop the crumbling parking stop.  It was more comfortable that way.

The two fallen angels looked up at the starless sky. 

He took a small puff of his cigarette and then tossed the stub to the side, right by the edge of the sidewalk where his head lay.  She did the same, tossing her own stub to the right.  While they each drowned in their thoughts, the “B” in the Blockbuster sign above them flickered and went out. “locbus,” advertised the weathered letters.

“I don’t really give a fuck, and I really don’t give a fuck.  If it won’t ever change, I mean.  Ya know?” he said with a slur.

To anyone else, “it” would have been cryptic and confusing, but Maggie understood with perfect clarity.

“Yeah… Let’s just get struck by a car—or something—out here.  Ten bucks it’ll happen one of these days, if we keep this up at least.  Mm, I could- I could die right now,” she uttered as she examined her battered brass ring.  He grunted in glum acknowledgment.  Those were words that ran through his mind all too often.

It was beautifully ironic then: two minds whirring so loudly in a pristine outside world.  In fact, silence had overcome the parking lot as the only remaining car left the Marsh, signifying the last employee of the night.  He had probably rushed to head home to a lonely son, eager wife, and cold dinner.  Carson and Maggie were doing the exact opposite, avoiding their “houses but not homes.” After all, for them, that’s just what those buildings were—houses.  In the distance, the revving of a car engine buzzed through the air—then slow silence.  The last embers of each cigarette stub faded into the night around them, a night more navy than the sea. 

They couldn’t escape.  They couldn’t wrest away.  But in that moment, they were content to lie there in absolute helplessness. 

Carson’s chest took to a languorous rhythm of rising and falling.  Rising… and falling..  Rising…….. and falling… With a slight breeze to bring them the world, a few fallen leaves gently crinkled along, one landing atop his heartbeat.  The cool, crisp air tickled the hairs of their nostrils, reminding them of autumn’s caress.  It was the least Mother Nature could do. 

With the embrace of the night, the pair drifted off dreaming.  And in those dreams of theirs they found better places: places where they could be unapologetic and unafraid.  Places where the pain of their worlds could be lifted.  Places where their young, bruised shoulders could shrug it all off and take a well-needed rest for good.

… What do you think?  You may have noticed that a lot of this segment was an exercise in imagery and emotion.  I’m trying to improve those qualities of my writing, and hopefully, this turned out to be at least mildly successful.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll be updating with another post as soon as I can.

 

 

~ Ruth

 

Love, Written in Words

I usually write rather dark things – that’s just how my mind works – but today, my thoughts seemed to drift somewhere different. Do you ever just sit there and sigh to yourself as you think of what ultimate perfection and happiness would be? Well, this is the beautiful way I’ve always envisioned ideal love. Yes, it is quite possibly too utopian to be true, and so what I’ve written probably happens to very few. It reminds me of what you see in movies: who knows if it’ll ever happen. In any case though, I’m sure something similar to what I’ve written is bound to have happened to at least one couple in the past and present… right?  Without further ado, here’s my random writing segment. How do you feel? Do you think a perfect love is like this, too? How would you portray it?  Enjoy!

“Your hand, Mademoiselle,” he said with a mischievous little bow.  Plastered on his face was the happiest smile she’d ever seen.  Her own face sparkled with a delight she had never known. 

With a playful, flirty smile back, she offered her delicate hand to him and gazed into his blue, blue eyes with her own brown ones.  Together, they twirled down into the flower-filled meadows in beautifully dizzying circles, radiating more rays than the sun itself. 

Her orange dress billowed out like a picnic pinwheel on a windy day, and his brunette hair shone like copper under the sun from its perch in the endless sky. 

As each held the other tight, they rolled into the colorful tulips and daffodils, tumbling in laughter, never letting the other’s eyes go.  When it began to rain soon after, they just sat there in the dewy meadow, hair soaked and skin glowing, mesmerized by their own beauty and the power of their clasped hands.  Each drank deeply from the other’s luminous eyes. When lightning and thunder began to sound above, it didn’t matter; neither noticed when they were so lucky as to have the real marvel before them.

The storm raged on all around them, but neither moved.

After all, they’d each found what they’d been looking for.

 

~ Ruth

 

Saving Just Ryan

Life can be a scary thing, and I think we all realize that. It’s complicated by all the disappointments, the hurt, the pain, … the list goes on. Inevitably, all this burden and pain changes people and makes them suddenly understand why some people smoke their lives away. Sometimes this manifests as mental illness, which is pretty much hell and the plague mixed together and drawn out. Below is a segment I wrote randomly (surprised?) because I guess it was all subconsciously on my mind.

“Tell me how it feels,” she said as she gazed into his deep brown eyes.

He paused for a moment, staring at his knuckles. “I don’t know how to describe it.”

“Well, tell me the best you can.” She put her slender, smooth hand on top of his gnarled one and gave it a little squeeze. Her eyebrows creased in concern and framed her green eyes, which were alight with a curiosity to know what his brown ones had seen. They wanted to explore his world and its colors—or maybe its lack thereof.

“It’s… It’s as if you’re dying, as if something on this hell of an earth is off but you don’t know what it is… It’s like, you know that there’s something out there, that this something is just whispering to you that you shouldn’t have been put here at all… it’s almost—“

“No.  Don’t say that,” she interjected sharply.  “I would die if you weren’t put here. You’re here for a reason.”

Silence from him. He picked at a scab through the largest hole in his tattered jeans, waiting for something to take him away from that lonely stair step.

Then, “You’re my reason, you know,” she whispered. And a single tear clung to her inner eye, trying its hardest to climb back up from whence it came. She didn’t bother to bring her polish-tipped nail up to her eyes and clear it away.

He said nothing but continued to stare at the wooden floor board before him.  His long eyelashes brushed downward with each slow, reluctant blink, and his faded gray hoodie rose up and down with each unnoticed breath he took. Without thinking, his fingers traced the crease of the first floor board back and forth, pushing little specks of dirt into mini piles at the adjacent boards’ boundaries.

She watched each motion but barely registered her surroundings. She was thinking, contemplating. Curious. She wanted to help.

“I’m sorry, Ryan, for interrupting… Go on, tell me more. I mean, please just go on.”

Not a word escaped his lips. His shoulders tensed up, and his tousled brown hair shaded his eyes from the light.

She continued: “…I want to know what it’s like, how it feels. I want to understand it all.”

He looked up at her and then quickly averted her gaze. His clear eyes, affixed to the stair banister, did not flicker as he adjusted himself in his position on the first stair step.

She could sense his discomfort, and she sensed that she wouldn’t be able to get another word out of him for today.

It’s time for a well-needed hug, she thought as she prepared to enclose him in her warm embrace, safe from the outside world.

But then: “It…” he started.

Stunned. “It what?”

“It feels like suicide.”

Plummeting.

And she listened. And she heard.  With those words, she burst forward, her arms around him in milliseconds. In that instant, she knew that no amount of hugging, no number of pills, no god would be able to bring the old Ryan back.

 

~ Ruth

 

At the Mercy of Criminals

Do you ever hear the news and suddenly wish you didn’t have to live on this planet? Me too! I remember one time, when I was in about fourth grade, I saw this news story about a local rockstar’s entire family being murdered in their basement; maybe, subconsciously, this is where the idea for this prompt came to me. (Only mine is more sci-fi [?] I suppose – I guess that’s up to you to decide.) Anyways, I was on the airplane home when the idea for the story below occurred to me. Still, I had to jot things down! Before I knew it, the pilot announces “In 10 minutes, we’ll be on the ground.” Wow, time really does fly when you’re typing stories on your phone – pun not intended.

Let me know how you feel about the story: What do you think? How do you think it all ended?

“Please don’t do this, please, please…” she begged as her shoulders shook. Her sobs echoed throughout the desolate room and rippled with her torn black dress. 

“Oh, but darling, you look so beautiful with that painted face of yours all stressed out!” drawled Criminal as he traced the dripping black mascara all over her wildly red, swollen face. 

There was something purely unnerving about his voice. When he spoke with excitement, it was as if he were mustering the collective power of every muscle and nerve in his body to evoke emotion. It was as if he were laboring, trying far too hard, to sound like a soul, like a young boy trying desperately to behave during the five days before Christmas. But one earful later and you just knew there was no emotion whatsoever in his voice. Not a flicker of humanity. Zero.

The two little boys stood off to the side, enthralled by the scene before them. They looked on as this strange-looking man drew a line across his neck in the air in front of Mommy. Oh? An invisible line? How fascinating! One little boy, Aiden, sucked his thumb curiously and held onto his handmade taupe sandals, his blue eyes widening to take in all this great new learning experience. At his feet lay his younger brother, Owen, who was still learning to stand. Owen’s brunette curls bounced with each slight motion of his head. It was quite odd really, how both were so calm and content. And somehow, in spite of their many bumps and bruises and freshly scratched wounds, neither boy cried. Each bruise blended perfectly into the rest of the brown, splotchy basement.

As she continued groveling, Criminal went through the motions; everything was clear as day. 

And now, silence—save for the barely audible whimpers of the woman. Neither child gave any semblance of being alarmed as each looked on.

This time, utter silence. The dim lights flickered as if intentionally placed there for dramatic effect.

And then, breaking the silence: “Well, darling. It looks like I have to do this after all. Very unfortunate, I must say.”

Her livid eyes widened with a crazed kind of animal fear. “No, no, … please no, no… I beg you with all my heart and and all and all the bones in my body I will give you anything, anything, anything just let my sons – anything – and me, and.. I mean, just please let my sons and me, and me, and- P- p- p- p-…”

Her torn fingernails left red streaks on the ground in front of her as she continued clawing at him for mercy.

“Oh shut up darling, I only said it because I love to hear you beg and grovel. Anyways, we all know that I need you for one more thing before you go,” he hissed in her ear through smiling, white teeth.

Her crumpled form writhed but then slowly stilled itself with calm. Then, like a rushing river, crazed joy pulsed through her veins with astonishing speed; what had once been a nearly motionless shell was now frantically grabbing for his ankles and feet and shins to kiss them in rejoice, in bliss, in acknowledgment of another night to live. 

But he lied. As do many criminals.

Without another word or pause, Criminal’s hand arced gracefully over to the wicked-looking lever.

One small pull? But of course! They’d be right on their way, her and those adorable little bastards. Almost brings a tear to my eye.

A nice buzzing sound. Then, 1, 2, 3, pop! 

And they were all right back to where they belonged.

~ Ruth