The Moment

Composed 5/28/15
Description: I’ve increasingly become aware that I fear this myself.

It couldn’t have been a more peaceful evening.

As the sun began its descent, its beams filtered in through the kitchen window and illuminated her mug-filled hands. She brought the rim to her lips and grimaced only slightly as she swallowed.

Tugging her knit sweater more closely to her willowed frame, she stared outside. It was so bright compared to her dim kitchen that she squinted to clearly see the clouds drifting in the sky, the trees easing back and forth in the breeze.

She was alone. And it was this thought that seized her when the pains came.

She had anticipated death; she did not fear the pain or the passing itself. No, she feared bring alone in The Moment. There was no one to witness, to hold, to say goodbye. She would just be found, gone. No one would see her, speak with her again. Her lasts were finalized, and no one was coming to whisper sweet thoughts as she transitioned into that universally Unknown Place.

So she was afraid. As the mug broke, as she crouched to the floor, as she moaned and laid down, belly up, she was lonely, and she was afraid. It seemed such a cruel fate to live so fully, to have family, to make friends, and die abandoned and alone.

She died in the dark. She died sad.

It wasn’t until then that she could see the beaming silhouette standing beside her. He wore a white cloak – heavy, hooded, and warm. He offered his hand, and she took it. She stood and looked down at The Body and started to cry. But he brushed the tears from her cheek, and she realized she had never really been alone.

The Siren

Composed 4/23/15
Description: Something a little different. A short tale.

He gave his heart up freely
To any stranger with a smile
His shirt, his watch, his well-worn hands
Were theirs after awhile

A phony chance encounter
Led him into harpy claws
He could never see the ugly
Only hear a beauty’s song

But this knight in shining armor
Had a princess at his side
Who saw through the illusion
With a stare like sharpened knives

Brandished sword then skewered
Screeching siren through the throat
The song that once had lured
Broke with last unholy note

Sorrowful, indeed, but the knight would love again
His nature, sweet and flowing, still yet vulnerable to sin

But a friend he’d always have
A royal, watchful eye
Protector, friend, comforter
For both each one would die

Introduction

Composed  ‎2 /13/13
Description: Another lit art’s mag hopeful. It’s strange; I wrote this almost exactly a year ago, and here I am looking at it again! When I wrote this, it was originally part of a “100 Themes” challenge. The theme was “Introduction.”

She remembered Frank’s words.

You know, they say people make first impressions in as little as half a second.

Half a second. That is how long it would take to decide her fate.

The sequins on her red, fitted jacket burst forth in sparkle as the strobes flashed. She barely had time to catch a glimpse of the man in the long-tailed suit coat throw his hands up and jump into an exuberant stance of victory before the fog machines released another cloud of red and purple smoke. Confetti in colors of the rainbow rained down from the balcony. The audience’s roars were deafening.

He was good. He had tigers. How was she supposed to compete with that?

Thalia tugged on her stark white, elbow length gloves, the only object visible backstage. She gulped and glanced down, focusing on every crease and imagining doves spilling out of her fingertips.

Her heart was beating faster than it ever had. It all culminated here. If she failed, it was over. She had been lucky to get this five minute slot; so many other venues had refused her. Frank, the owner’s son, had only given her this chance – one chance he said – because he’d wanted to take her out to dinner. If she failed, there would be no way he could convince his father to let her have another try. She’d have to drag her feet back to Romano and meekly accept his offer.

Thalia shuttered as she imagined joining Romano’s league of sleazy showgirls. That’s not what she wanted. That wasn’t her dream. Her dream was to make her own way in the world, to do what she loved – magic.

Her guardian had been a lover of magic, and that kindly old man with the wrinkled hands and pale blue eyes had her entranced the first time he pulled a flower out of her ear.

All at once she was in a small, cozy apartment, spread out on the ugly blue and green rug with the tattered edges. She squealed in glee as she picked out a two of hearts and the man nodded.

“I’m going to be a famous magician one day!” Thalia announced with the kind of happy arrogance only three year olds are capable of.

“You certainly are,” said that man in his warm, wispy voice. He was smiling. “And you are going to make me very proud.”

The ferocious roar of a giant cat, and then the audience, broke Thalia from her daze. Her black eyes narrowed, and her slender hands clenched. No, magic was not just a way to make a living, not just a passion to her; it was also her sole connection to the only person she had ever loved.

She would do this. She would live her dream.

The slender man in black took a bow. Only seconds now. Seconds until her name was called.

And then half a second. Half a second in which the audience decided her fate. Half a second would determine her future, her survival, her pride. The loudspeaker squeaked; an announcer called her name.

In a half a second, her whole life would change.

She stepped onto the stage. They cheered.

Snatched and Scratched

Composed 10/14/13
Description: This is a piece I wrote a fair bit of several weeks ago and finished up last night. For some reason, when I’m walking back to my place of residence alone, I always have these kinds of morbid thoughts. This piece is also kind of ironic considering my last entry.

You don’t ever think about how you’ll react in that situation. I mean, that’s the point: it’s unexpected.

And you’re sweet, straight A-ed. You go to a Christian, liberal arts college for crying out loud. Making out with your first boyfriend sent you straight into guilt-ridden anxiety for an entire week.

Whew, okay, I guess THAT was an adrenaline rush. But it’s a suppressed rush, that kind of “down boy” adrenaline that our civilized society has taught us. You don’t embrace real, primal adrenaline any more – not like they did back when they were fighting off tigers.

Anyway, that’s all you know, so you think you can only go that far. It’s only in intense situations when you find out where your limits are.

I found out two years ago, October third.

You know, they told us during the apartment meeting to not walk alone. I knew what they were saying was valid, of course; it was nothing I hadn’t heard all my life. I watched the news. I knew people got picked up, abducted, hurt, molested, killed. But, it was also one of those pieces of advice you took with a grain of salt. I mean, always be with a partner when you’re walking back to the apartment? Really? First off, it’s just not practical. You and your friends have different schedules; sometimes you have to walk back alone. And, for real, the building was about a minute and a half from the thick of campus.

So I didn’t really worry. There was nothing TO worry about.

That was my unconscious mindset, anyway, as I strolled back to my apartment building after a late night of hanging out with friends.

My apartment was in a crammed little neighborhood just off campus. On my street in particular, cute, if quaint, little houses on tiny plots of grass were smashed side by side. Occasionally, a slender footpath to the front door or stubby driveway would stick out and spill onto the crumbling pavement of the street; though, most cars parked on said crumbling pavement. And, for some reason, there was only a sidewalk on one side of the street.

So naturally I was strolling along this one sidewalk – a straight shot to my apartment building. And naturally there were several cars parked alongside this sidewalk. All seemed quiet.

Right as I approached an old, black Mustang, the driver’s side door flung out directly in front of me. I stopped, startled, as a man stepped out. He was so close to me I had to step back to let him pass. He was dressed in a light gray graphic T-shirt, which was just barely showing through a beat up leather jacket. That stuck out to me, because he was so tall the best part of him I could see was his chest.

I looked up, but it was hard to distinguish his features under the shade of the trees lining the sidewalk. Then, all at once, I saw his teeth – too white, exposed in the universal grin of bad intentions.

“Hey,” he said, and his voice slithered out of his lips like smoke slips out of a cigarette. “You need a ride?” Continue reading

Consequences

Composed 9/10/13
Description: Inspired by a similar event that happened today.

Light was just beginning to fade as they walked across the parking lot. The air was cloaked in a buttercup yellow, and dusty shadows from trees and cars spilled across the blacktop like prowling malicious spirits. The only sounds were the clopping and smacking of their shoes against the dry ground. Only with much focus could one pick up the distant cries of racing metal machines and the eerie lullaby of leaves.

He inhaled, and the air was like wood.

“Smells like someone’s burning something.”

His companion breathed. Her eyes paled; once an ocean, her irises melted into ice. She stared off into the distance, past the cars and the trees and the parking lot. Past the grass. Past the horizon.

He knew that look. She was Seeing something.

Her irises filled with ocean blue. Her pupils refocused on the ashen ground.

“What’s up?”

She looked across the parking lot and pointed.

“There. In the median. In the mulch between the trees.”

He followed her finger and noticed a trickle of smoke leaking from the ground. They walked over to the place where the wisp originated, just as she said, in a median filled with mulch and a few trees. A cigarette butt lay in the center of a ring of dried up woodchips; around its edges, the ring smoked. A tiny red spark brightened and dimmed at one point of the circle.

“Put it out,” she whispered.

He took his water bottle out of a pocket of his backpack and let the water flow over the ring. He spread the mulch with his shoe and stomped on it once he was done to make sure all the coals were out. The smoke halted.

His companion exhaled heavily, as if she had been holding her breath. He jumped back onto the blacktop and stared at her. Her eyes remained on the upturned earth.

“What was that about?” He asked. She nodded at the now damp mulch.

“That would have set the whole campus on fire.”

He looked back to the place. It was just a bit of mulch now, not at all remarkable. Even the cigarette butt was buried. He glanced up, then, to the buildings around him – grand, brick structures with tall, arched windows. A concrete fountain bubbled yards away.

“Really?” He looked back to the mulch. “But putting that out seemed so… insignificant.”

She nodded. “It always seems that way. But little, seemingly insignificant things change the world. A cigarette. A bullet. A kiss. They determine the course lives take. Or how they end.”

With one last look she turned and walked toward the place they had been heading before. His brow furrowed, but he stuck his hands in his pockets and followed.

The Alpha Bet

Composed 7/27/13
Description: My response to today’s Daily Prompt: A to Z! The challenge was to “create a short story, piece of memoir, or epic poem that is 26 sentences long, in which the first sentence begins with “A” and each sentence thereafter begins with the next letter of the alphabet.” It sounded fun, so I gave it a shot. I must say, I am impressed by how this turned out. Let me know what YOU think!

“Aha! Bet you didn’t see that coming!”

Clarisse grinned and, after a triumphant brandish of her sword, bowed. Down on his back, Ezekiel’s lips pulled back into a snarl, but he kicked over his small sack of coins as they had agreed.

“Ezekiel, please don’t look so grim and downtrodden! Finer swordsmen than you have fallen prey to my excellent skill!” Gleefully, Clarisse swiped the bag, leapt, twirled, and jabbed into an imaginary foe. “However, I admit, few of the worthy opponents I have battled share your particular… disadvantage. I therefore believe you have, indeed, waged a comparably remarkable battle. Jealous, I’m sure, others of your make would be of your skill.”

Kings have had my so-called disadvantage!” Livid, Ezekiel jumped to his feet. “Maybe you’ll see who is really at a disadvantage during our next bet! Nightfall – that is when we will decide who really is the best!”

Only a few hours later, Clarisse met Ezekiel a few hundred feet into the forest.

“Pray tell… exactly what is the nature of this challenge?”

Quirking an eyebrow in some smugness, Ezekiel remarked that they would be dueling in the pitch black of night in the center of the forest. Reputation as the “alpha” of their group would be the prize at stake.

Stepping back, Clarisse voiced her uncertainty. The danger of sword fighting in the pitch black of night, even with blunt swords, was enough to make her wary.

“Understandable, it is, how some people would feel afraid to battle while lacking one of their primary senses, even though some do this casually and with much success…”

Very soon, the two were battling.

Whipping her sword this way and that, Clarisse struggled to anticipate Ezekiel’s moves. “X” soon became the shape of their blades, and Ezekiel, fighting as energetically and easily as they had that afternoon, maneuvered, pushed, and sent Clarisse flying over a branch behind her.

“Yes, indeed, my dear beta, blindness can in fact become an advantage!”

“Zee, I see your point.”

Some Advice

Composed around 2009/2010
Description: Another oldie. Different from my usual style; though, I am still entertained by this one…

Never ever use a bathroom with a window. It may just be the last thing you ever do.

Don’t believe me? Ask my uncle. He’s dead.

I mean, when you think about it, what better time is there to kill someone? They’re distracted, vulnerable. And I’ve never known anyone to carry a gun or a Kevlar vest with them to the bathroom.

I dated a girl who took a dagger with her once, but I’ve dated a lot of weird chicks.

Anyway, in my opinion, the guy who started the trend was pretty clever. Besides the vulnerability, there’s also the fact that there is usually only one person in the bathroom at a time. Granted, you‘ll get some frisky newlyweds or old bickering couples, but the point is that at least once a day the target will be alone in the bathroom in a vulnerable situation, lulled into a false sense of security. And if you’re a decent sniper it’s not too hard to find a spot to sit and wait. Or, if poison is more your style, the window probably isn’t locked, and it will be simple to slip in there right before your target hits the restroom and spike their toothpaste or gas the place.

So don’t ever buy a house with a bathroom window. If you’ve already got one, first off, congratulations on surviving this long, and, secondly, take my advice and replace the old window with some bulletproof glass while you’re ahead.

Paranoid? Maybe. But, hey: tell that to my uncle. Putting a window in the bathroom was not a smart idea on his part. Of course, maybe the real moral of this story is don’t have an affair, especially if your wife knows a good hit man.

I really felt bad when Uncle Cameron died, but Aunt Becky paid ten grand in cash.

Divine Intervention

Composed 4/27/12
Description: While much of this is inspired by an actual walk I had on 4/27/12, most of it is made up; this is simply a scenario I
imagined happening while I was walking back from class one day. The scenario stuck with me so much that I wrote it down. This is the result. After about a year after it was written, this piece had the privilege of being published in Anderson University’s 2013 Spring Literary Arts Magazine.

A boy whizzes past me on a bicycle, close enough for me to be justified in a feeling of rage or the utterance of a curse word. I don’t even flinch.

It’s just a normal day, and I’m heading back to the dorm, just like always. People are walking all around me, and I couldn’t now report to you any of their faces, even the color of their hair. I’m lost in my own world, in my thoughts, which are so incomprehensible and muffled that I could not accurately report them to you. The only thing I’m really aware of is the sun, which is shining brightly, and campus, gorgeous on this spring afternoon. However, even this is more of a matter-of-fact observation than an emotional revelation. It’s like someone just told me about that beauty of the day, like I’m not actually here experiencing it.

It’s hard for me to get out of this fog, this numbness of going through the motions. Even though my classes were interesting, even funny, I still can’t break out of this blah-attitude that I seem to be enwrapped in nowadays.

I stop at the crosswalk and let a few cars pass me. When there’s a gap large enough for me to pass through I step into the road and cross. Crossing the street always feels like a gamble to me. No matter how long I stop to look to see if cars are coming, I always accept the possibility that I missed something, that a car’s going to come barreling at me at eighty miles per hour. My heart rate stays constant today though; even that irrational fear isn’t enough to get me motivated today.

I make it across the street without incident, and this is when I notice I’m actually very cold. I can’t help but roll my eyes. That’s Indiana for you – sunny and gorgeous and somehow still thirty-five degrees. I pull my hoodie closer.

I’ve stopped by this point, and I look down the path. I have two options: I can take the shorter path that curves directly alongside the dorms, or I can take the longer path that lines the road. It’s cold enough I choose the long path, which avoids the shade of the trees, so there’s a slim possibility that it will be warmer.

I am cognizant that this is odd immediately. I never take this sidewalk, and I am a notorious creature of habit. Walking this way feels weird to my body, unnatural.

But I go with it. Hey, I could use a little rebellion. And it was warmer this way.

I have to pass two other dorms to get to mine. As I walk pass the first, I start thinking about this fog I’m in. I really want to get out of it, but I don’t know how. I see all these other people who have all these passions; they know exactly what they love, what they want to do with their lives. Those are things I really lack in my life. I just wish God would give me a sign, throw something at me that I was really passionate about.

I feel myself starting to get back into my mind fog as I pass Ricker, the next dorm. And that’s when the building exploded. Continue reading

Dreams

Composed 4/9/11
Description: This was written solely because the boy I was dating at the time wanted me to write something for him. This is the result, and I’m impressed with it, as it was so spur of the moment. It definitely reflects my feelings for him at the time.

Cheek cupped in hand, she stared blankly at that flashing, vertical line, the only black mark visible on the otherwise blindingly white page. Her unoccupied index finger dusted the keypad, sending the cursor to the bottom of the screen, where an attractive blue and orange logo called to her so temptingly. She hesitated, knowing full well that the next few seconds would determine the rest of the evening. Click it, and she might as well forget about being productive. Ignore it, and there was still hope, still a sliver of a chance that inspiration would soon find her.

Her fingertip was startled from the button as a soft buzz and brief glow caught her attention. A mixture of feelings welled up inside her at that moment – surprise, frustration, and a kind of giddiness that she would deny vehemently if confronted. Nevertheless, she did not hesitate to grasp the small device and flip open the top.

A smile was brought to her lips soon after, an eager reply swiftly returned. However, in the downtime of the conversation, she glanced back toward the screen and scowled. Never one for anger, however, her expression melted, and, with a yawn, she was encouraged to fold her arms on the desk and rest her cheek in the homemade pillow.

She woke up hours later, again startled by the persistent buzz of her nearby cell phone. Adrenaline kicked in, and her head jerked upward suddenly. She grasped for the phone, certain a hundred messages, their content increasing in confusion and possibly anger, were waiting for her. However, after she rubbed the sleep from her eyes, she discovered only one message – the one that had woken her.

Let me in.

Her confusion was broken by the loud chime of the doorbell. Continue reading

Arlo

Hachiko

Composed 1/4/11
Description: A little piece I was inspired to write after seeing this picture.

It is in the region of the Egova in which this tale takes place.  There it is said that the spirits once lived, for the deep slopes of the hills and mountains are cut into hundreds of tiny stair steps which lead to grand, smooth plateaus.   The plateaus are said to be where the houses of the spirits rested for thousands of years until these spirits, exasperated with humanity, destroyed their earthen residences and disappeared into the heavens – a world they created in which they could be alone and truly rest in peace.

However, it was rumored that some spirits stayed behind in Egova.  These few had grown so attached to this place that they would not leave; instead they vowed to stay on Earth forever, to watch over and protect the land.  The Great Spirit, who created the heavens and the earth, looked favorably on these few and blessed them with powers similar to his own.  This way they could protect the earth during his absence.

Humans moved into the mountains once the spirits left, building small settlements directly into the ancient stairways.  In these first days, many villagers witnessed ghostly forms strolling in the distance, circling the communities.  Frightened by this, they built shrines for the spirits to show their good intentions.  The visions then stopped.  However, the villagers kept a wide birth from these shrines, arriving only once a year to tend to the shrines and present gifts to the spirits.  Disturbing a spirit’s shrine on any other day was considered bad luck – not only for the individual, but for all the people of the mountain.

Spirit sightings had been rare since those first days.  Only a certain few had witnessed bizarre or extraordinary events, things that could only be explained as the work of a spirit.  Miraculous healings, massive, destructive fires… Both were considered signs of favor or disapproval of the spirits, respectively.

But seeing a tangible form of a spirit was rarely heard off.  What they looked like was only known because of myths, and even they were contradictory.  Some believed they possessed human-like forms, while others claimed they took form as animals.

Nevertheless, as the years passed, villagers continued to pay homage to the shrines; though, stories of spirits were always told in past tense, as if the species had died off long ago… Continue reading