Advent Street

Tess stood at the corner of Advent and Main, leaning against the rusted street sign, holding a cigarette to her red pouty lips. She looked at the line of broken-down houses with tarps where chimneys ought to be. She glanced in the window of number 29, saw her mother sitting in the overstuffed chair she’d dragged from the good side of town where she cleaned houses three days a week.

“I’m leaving,” Tess had told the chair, staring at the hole in the arm where the stuffing escaped.

Her mother didn’t look up from the television. “Be home by curfew.”

 

This was written in response to The Hundred Word Challenge.

Palindrome

My girls detach the heads from their Barbie dolls. Laugh, watching Barbie’s smiling face roll across the plush carpet my wife insisted upon six weeks before she filed for divorce.

Carpet didn’t save the marriage?

Left me with the kids, the dog and the carpet for a man who sits himself before a mirror every chance he gets, just for the opportunity of admiring himself.

A handsome fellow?

God, no.

But your wife?

Ex-wife. Married him for his money. Truth is the man’s broke.

Shame, ain’t it?

Damn shame. I poured cream in my coffee, stirred it with my knife and laughed.

 

This was written for the 100 Word Challenge at Thin Spiral Notebook.

Hunger

Sometimes my father ate Dinty Moore straight from the can, clenching a serving spoon and shoveling the stew into his mouth like he was the lumberjack he’d wanted to be, not the frustrated accountant he was. Dad never emptied the twenty-ounce can. Invariably, he’d hand it to my mother who’d pretend to eat a few bites before feeding it to the cat. Mom didn’t much care for the stew. Neither did Dad. He ate it so that he could briefly slough off one life and slip into another. The stew touched a hunger that neither food nor Mom could reach.

This was written in response to the 100 Word Challenge at Thin Spiral Notebook.

In the Telling Time

We queue beneath the sheltered path, trying to avoid the rain. A child in front of me holds her ration basket with both hands. The line moves forward. A person is dismissed. The girl is summoned. She hands me her basket.

“Tell me child, what colors the rain?”

In a voice clear as love she says, “yesterday’s bomb.”

The child, shot once, falls to the ground as I approach.

“Why is the rain grey today?”

“Volcanic activity.”

The leader nods, dismissing me. As I return to the barracks, the rain blisters my face. Only then do I mourn my daughter.

 

This was written for The 100 Word Challenge. The word was telling.

Cold

“It’s the cold what converts water to ice.” Billie points to the branch where drops of frozen water cling. “The cold claims the water from itself. Turns it hard and swollen.”

“Like Momma’s heart?”

Billie frowns at her granddaughter. “Bitty child oughtn’t worry about the weight of your momma’s heart.” She breaks off a nub of ice. “Press it in your palm. The warmth will melt it.”

Were it so easy to melt the heart of her daughter, the mother of this child standing before her. Is she destined herself to pass time frozen in time? “Press it tight, child.”

This was written for this week’s #100wordchallenge at The Thin Spiral Notebook.

 

The Thread of Ancient Memories

“What’s that sound?” Cari’s eyes widened.

William took a kind of pleasure in knowing something his granddaughter did not, this child of the city, this child of gleaming buildings and pavement and subway trains. “Woodland chorus frogs.” He paused, listening. “Grey tree frogs. Spring peepers.” He watched her looking around and felt himself filled with love for a child he barely knew. “Look there.” He pointed to a rotting log where a line of turtles sunned themselves before slipping into the water at their approach.

Cari’s yellow boots were smeared with mud. The hem of the dress she’d insisted upon wearing was black. She’d lost the ribbon he’d tied into her hair after breakfast. “You look just like your momma, when she was a kid.” Continue reading

In Her Wake

They fed each other cured walnuts she’d gathered from the woods last fall, breaking the hard exterior beneath the blows of a hammer stolen from her father’s toolbox and prying out their broken hearts with a pick.

Hand in hand, they walked the pristine lawn, dull blades of grass succumbing to their bare and tender feet. “Look.” He pointed.

She stopped and paused where the mower blades had scraped away the rough roots of the oak tree, two hundred years old, according to local lore, and struck by lightening twice. There was a gap in the trunk, where she used to secret her treasures: Notes from old boyfriends. A journal she needed to hide from her brother. Cash for the time she considered running away. Now, she stuck her hand in the gap and withdrew a plastic bag.

“What’s that?”

She turned and stuffed the bag in her pocket. “Nothing.” She stared at the roots of the tree, imagining the blades of the mower endlessly chasing after themselves, head over heels until they stumbled upon a knot of wood and choked and had to back up and take a new path.

“I love you,” he said.

She reached a hand in her pocket. Felt for the familiar bag, pressed her thumb against the shape, tracing the thin hollow circle again and again.

She had stumbled. “I love someone else.”

She turned and walked again towards home, leaving neatly trimmed blades of grass and a weeping root in her wake.

 

~

This was written for this week’s Studio30+ prompt.

 

 

Truths Untrue

Again, the children called for me to join them. “Come, Eva,” they urged, patting their dirty hands against my skin, pale and unfreckled.

“I cannot.” I shook my head to emphasize the point I had made every day, as if that would finally convince them of the truth of my words. But children, being children, are full of the possibilities inherent in impossibility.

Innocence is beauty. Continue reading

Leaving only Vapor

“I had just come to accept that my life would be extraordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.”

He sat up and stared. No, he has no name. Don’t bother asking, I already did. He prefers anonymity. Anyway, he sat up, shoved the cat from his lap. “Extraordinary, how?” He took a sip of the tea he’d requested, tea I’d had to order from China. Pu-erh something or other, aged in the skin of an orange. He drank four cups each time he came, sitting elegantly upon the sofa he’d convinced me to put on my credit card, paying it off fifty bucks at a time so that he could rest his brittle bones upon a soft leather seat.

“Oh…” I reached into the plastic sleeve and grabbed another Thin Mint. Yes, he preferred the tin from Harrods, but he’d polished them off last month and I hadn’t yet gotten around to placing a new order, despite his persistent reminders. “Well, perhaps extraordinary is too strong of a word.”

“I see.” Another sip of the tea. A resigned sigh as he reached for a cookie.

“My socks, for instance.” Continue reading