I lean over in bed and tug on the curtains to see if the rain has stopped. No such luck. It’s still dark out there. The sky is a sickly kind of grey. It’s been drizzling for hours and the late morning is starting to look more like dusk.
Each time I check I’m more convinced I should stay in my pajamas and pull the blankets back over my head. But that would just mean dragging myself out later, and the prospect of being in a grocery store crawling with people I might know… well that’s even less appealing than the rain.
If I’m gonna go, I have to go now. If I don’t, it’s another night of Ramen Noodles, and I’m not sure my body isn’t already morphing into a pillar of salt.
Moisture is everywhere so I don’t even try and tame the frizzy mop of hair on my head. Ponytail it is. A yoga pants and hoodie kind of morning, all dreary and gross outside. Pretty much how I’ve felt all week.
Thank you Mother Nature, for understanding. Continue reading
The street was littered and unkempt, and my heart thundered as walked down it quickly, my eyes darting back and forth, taking note of every face.
It took me a moment to spot him, a wiry man with curly dark hair in a threadbare brown jacket, patched at the elbows. There in his buttonhole was the blue paper flower that marked his profession. He wasn’t my usual—my usual was captured, or killed maybe, by now, though I pushed the thought away. I hated going up to strangers. No one liked it nowadays. But there was no choice in it for me today.
As I got nearer the man, I made the sign that I wanted to make a transaction—I took my hat off and rolled it in my hands. I only ever wore a hat to take it off as a symbol.
The man crossed my path, casually. “So, you’re a new one, are you?”
Everything about him was the same. From the sharp, arrogant angles of his jaw to the pitch black of his hair. He stood with the same rigid tension, the same restless frustration. An animal, caged in, waiting to be released.
He hadn’t let it consume him. Yet. But it would. The imperfections of a man he used to be would creep to the surface until he became the same controlling, cold, difficult leader Syr was. The man they both used to be, some distant lifetime ago.
Still, looking at him, she found it hard to believe it. Standing right there, just a few feet away, was the man she’d loved, all over again.
I sense the moment she walks into the room.
“A little early for lunch,” I call over my shoulder, glancing at the large clock that hangs above the white board. “Just couldn’t wait to see me, huh?” I smirk, pour another liquid into the vial hanging above the Bunsen burner. “Don’t blame you. I’m pretty irresistible.”
She doesn’t speak, doesn’t laugh. My hands freeze where they are, the liquid in the beakers sloshing from side to side at my sudden lack of movement. I don’t turn around. I don’t have to. I know she’s there. I feel it.
She brings a mass of unspeakable energy with her everywhere she goes. Usually, it’s vibrant and warm, like being touched, embraced by a brilliant star. Today, it’s not. It crashes and cracks within her tiny frame like a thousand lightning storms.
The skin on my back prickles and burns where she stares. My eyes slip closed. I choke on the emotion her very presence conjures. My chest fills to the brim with pressure I can’t afford to release. So I exhale slowly, placing my equipment on the lab table, and force a smile as I turn to face her.
She stands no more than three feet away, her arm extended.
I’m staring down the barrel of her gun. Continue reading
This is a short I wrote for a bloghop last Valentine’s Day. The prompt was “love at first sight.” This is just a photo, a moment.
It was a hot day for February. A Saturday, too. A million people or more littered the beaches of Southern California, which was usually enough reason for me to stay away—I liked my beaches better quiet, something akin to private. It was the first day in months that my friends Wes, Ky and I all had off work the same weekend, too, so we did the same as everyone else, and took advantage of the heatwave. We were seventeen and after graduation we’d all split ways, it seemed natural to hang out as much as we could.
The funny thing is, at first I didn’t even see her. There was a whole gaggle of girls playing volleyball, a couple of whom I’d seen before from school. I noticed because Katie Huxley was there. I’d always had a thing for Katie. We sort of grew up together, and she was nice. She reached “out of my league” status around freshman year though, and I’d always been content to admire from afar.
The three of us were walking down to the water, but we slowed to watch the game a bit. We weren’t the only ones—it’s not everyday you see the volley nets used at all, much less by a group of teenage girls. Katie was serving the ball, and it went high over the net. Some girl on the other side lobbed it back, and it went out of bounds—knocking the girl on my left right into me.
It happened the night the sky split.
It was all over the news. The Milky Way would be extra-visible due to atmospheric somethingorother. The scientist were explaining it left and right. The pictures, they said, would be breathtaking. And they were.
But no one saw what I saw.
I was out at the lake with my family that weekend. We were all staying out to watch the sky darken, to watch the stream of light that seemed to tear the sky in two. I’d seen the Milky Way before, but only as a dim trail across the sky. Not this vibrant, violent thing.
“Grandma, what’s happened to all your gnomes?”
It was the first thing that I noticed when I pulled up her driveway. I didn’t remember much about my grandmother’s house—I hadn’t been here in years—but I did know that her lawn used to be absolutely covered in gnomes. They were my favorite thing about coming here when I was a kid. I used to think they came alive.
Grandma waved a dismissive hand. “They get stolen,” she said, her voice weary in a way that only happened with the elderly—frustration at being too tired to care. “I used to replace them, but they get harder and harder to find.”
“So the gnomes are disappearing,” I said, trying not to smile at the idea.
“It all started when these damned young kids started moving into the neighborhood,” she said, staring wrathfully out the window to a house down the street, where I guess the offending neighbors lived. “They ran over my Jox, then let their kids knock over Bean and Bopper. Broke Bopper’s hand right off. All my little friends… ” She shook her head, sighing.