They walked away… {social prompts}

I'm trying to remember to write more, so this little experiment is the result. I got some prompts from Twitter and Facebook. This one is from @roeberg

They walked away from the spot silently – side by side – looking furtively forward, as if each was walking alone.

It was about time they forgot each other anyway. They needed to for the better of everything.

It was funny how it started. A bet, a drink, then another, then another. When they woke up in the morning, each thought, "Did I really agree to that?"

And they did, they were serious, each on a different level. John was worried. He was worried that no one would remember him after this life. It was o the peril of a gay man who didn't wan't to commit to anything at all. The last of his line, his father had said, and he decided to waste it on men. As if it was his fault that his family was dying out. He was unapologetic to this father. He shoved it off, like he shoved things around on his plate, but in his mind, he couldn't.

He was the last. His life, as wonderful and glamorous as it had been, would wither and die some day and no one would remember him. No one worth while.

Lily, on the other hand had no such excuse. When she was in her 20s, it was about getting ahead. She was the youngest executive. She was awarded this. She was given that. She traveled with her friends. After a while. she forgot what it was like to be touched by a man. After a while, she pretended she didn't need the touch of a man. And now, here she was, nearing the end of her possible child bearing years and no one wanted her. Now she was left to the leftover men, the divorced, the weird, the playboys. None of which she wanted Men were intimidated by a bank executive, or turned on by one. The wanted to fuck her, touch her, but never be with her. Never marry her.

So that was it. Two friends, drunk, decided to make a baby.

It had gone along so well for a bit. They would get drunk every Sunday, and then they would fumble into teh sheets. John would feel awkward, he didn't know waht to do with Lily. She was patient, and for fleeting moments, she thought that it wasn't about the baby. It was about…something else. Something they both needed.

"John," she'd say, pushing him off of her. "John," she'd slur, "You've got to think of this differently. I mean, it is like a job, we've got to get something done, but at the least, let's pretend it's not. Let's pretend we're anyone who we're not. Fuck it, let's pretend we love each other. Do you find anything about me even remotely sexy?"

He looked at her blankly. Then sighed.

"This is so weird."

She waited.

"OK, so I've always loved your neck. It's a regal one. You seem to stretch out of yourself, into something….oh shit, I'm drunk. Look, I like it. It's pretty."

OK. She could work with that. She moved his hands to her neck, letting his hands touch her, pushing them to grip.

"Here. Feel me. Let go of who you are for a minute. We're two beings, on some other plane and we're happy to be here."

He moved his fingers along her clavicle, the softness of it was something familiar, yet so different than a mans.

That was the night. Thank God it had only take a couple o months because they were about to go to a doctor and get a turkey baster, which seemed….inhuman to both of them. Clinical.

As they walked away from the spot, she remembered the best part of labor. When it was over and she was sweaty and gross and angry, but then, then she was there. She was beautiful. And so, so, so small.

Lily had stared at her fingers. Amy had tiny, tiny fingers. Untouched by the world, left in a box, with only a white blanket to replace the touch of her mother.

John watched her eyes. Sparkling with wonder.


It had lasted the better part of two weeks, in which the two of them had said almost nothing to each other. Friends before, now they only reminded each other of their own failure.

Lily tried not to cry. She looked back, for one moment. The stone shined in the sunlight, warming whatever was left of their hopes and dreams, buried deep beneath.

I tried to forget what he’d said, but I couldn’t. {social prompts}

I'm trying to remember to write more, so this little experiment is the result. I got some prompts from Twitter and Facebook. I'll try to do at least one a week.

This week: "I tried to forget what he’d said, but I couldn’t." from Kelsey Proud.

I tried to forget what he’d said, but I couldn’t.

He didn’t know me, so why place weight into what a stranger told you, much less a stranger who seemed like they didn’t have all their faculties.

It had been an odd day. A rainstorm in the middle of a drought, the kind of day where you walked out the door and immediately forgot what you were supposed to do. My mind has changed since the fall happened, not that everyone else’s hasn’t. What once was great was now…forgotten. The cities buried, the lives as if they had never been. The dust, though, was everywhere.

As were the men who relished in the end of days. The ones you used to see on TV and laugh at. I remember the guy who kept moving around the date of the end of the world, like re-scheduling a dinner with a friend you didn’t actually want to see. They were living it up now. Perhaps he was one of them.

Knowing what I know now, I wish I had read more. I wish I had spent days in libraries and bookstores, or on the lawn sprawled out on a blanket. The dust, the bare earth is just not as comfortable.

“The worst is yet to come, girl. And you know more than you’re letting on.”

He is right. But I don’t know how he knew. Is there something in my eyes? I’ve looked in the mirror, at the grey with whirls of gold. It’s not there, the truth. I’ve hidden it away as best I can. I do not want to be one of the recollectors. I don’t want them to know I remember. It was not my choosing, to remember. To know where we’ve been, instead of thinking this is the best we’ve ever had. Memory is a false and tricky thing. It lies to you. You want it to be as solid as a rock, as granite that will never chip, but it’s as malleable as play-doh. It changes and takes the shape of whatever you need at the moment. Something terrible can become wonderful if you just insert the right word that was never said. You can remember things the way they weren’t.

I didn’t want to remember and he knows.

I tried to forget what he said for a week now, and I can’t.

I can’t forget the sound of my mother’s laugh, and what it was like when she was gone. I can’t forget the day of the fall. I can’t forget him. I can’t forget him looking at me, telling me he loved me and closing my hand around a single pill neither of us should have had.

“Please, Jen.”

I looked at him, at the one dimple, the sleepy eyes. He was fading, breathing in the fog and we didn’t have much time. The fog was settling in and the blanket we had over us wouldn’t keep out the damp of the night. It was sticky, and cold. But he was soft and held my hand closed.

“Please.”

“I can’t do this. What does it really gain? It’s all happening for a reason and I’m no one special. I shouldn’t be any different than you, Robert. We all made the same mistakes. I’m not important enough to remember.”

“But you are. You are because I love you. I’m afraid of what will happen. Maybe there will be others and you can….I’m not sure, watch over us?”

He smiled, knowing I was remembering all the times I had told him I wasn’t there to be his mother, wasn’t there to watch over him like that. The fog seemed heavier with every breath, not painful, but thicker, like breathing in soup.

“And if something goes wrong, what can I really do, anyway?”

“Nothing,” he said. “But if I got this, others did too, and if something goes wrong you can, I’m not sure throw up a bat signal or something.”

I sighed. “When did our life become a science fiction novel? Or a comic book? How did this all become….real? I thought it was all going to be simple. You love me, I love you, we get married, we have kids, we live a mundane life in a small house, go to work, come home, and then one day die.”

Things had changed so fast and everyone was convinced the fall was necessary to rebuild. Reality had become distorted and suddenly, all those crazy movies and books seemed possible. I had spent the past couple of weeks waiting for dragons and aliens to show up, since everything else we had dreamed up had taken place.

“It’s not simple anymore. Roll with the punches, honey, and take the goddamn pill, give me a hug and remember me. Someone had to remember what we have.”

He wanted me to remember. I didn’t want to. I still don’t. Sometimes, I wonder if he had said any of those things or if I placed them in that memory.

I saw him the other day, Robert. I saw him and almost walked up to him, but then realized that he wouldn’t know who I was. He was standing in front of a tree, looking at it, and the sky peeking out from between the leaves. He seemed content.

I hate him for it some days. Alone, pretending, hiding myself from the world and putting on a face every morning. I hate him for the things that I remember. I hate knowing what a hot shower felt like. I hate knowing what that odd object really does. I hate knowing he is alive, and well, and doesn’t love me, doesn’t know to love me.

I tried to forget, but it’s hard when everyone else has and you remember.

The man, the one who said it will get worse, I think he remembers. I think he is the same as me. The others, they chose to rise above. They lied. They formed memory into something terrible. And no one knows. The recollectors should have remembered, and saved us. Instead, they’re making all the mistakes we already have and that they should remember.

I have to find him. I have to find him again before they find me. Maybe he’ll know how to forget. I can’t stand to pretend another day, and I don’t want to watch anymore. I don’t want to watch the fall after the fall. It has to end.

It was all a dream {freewrite}

187 years ago, it all felt like a dream.

The way things fit together and everything seemed…right. There was a time and a place, 187 years ago when she was sure of herself and the choices she had made.

But today was one of those days that didn't feel like that. Where the self-doubt cast a heavy fog through every thought and put weight into every step. Each past decision, whether years, months or minutes ago, felt like it might have been the wrong one. Always the wrong one.

Should she have turned left instead of right? Should she have said no instead of yes? These were the things that plagued her mind, the things she tried to push away with errands, tasks and busywork until it was no more. But today, it lingered through them all and everything everyone had said that was cruel pushed into the forefront. She could remember every word.

It wasn't intended. It should not have ended up like this.

The last rays of summer

“I like morning glories,” she said. “I grew up with them and they remind me of home.”

Her feet fell into the water, falling slowly, as if time took a break to watch the water envelop her hot summer skin.

The lake was her place and she was sharing it with them, commanding their presence every minute they were there, just like she did in the city. She was the kind of woman it was hard to turn down, and you didn’t know why. She was young, and not exceptionally beautiful. She worked too hard and dressed simply, but her simple black made it all the more elusive to get near her. Though, everyone was near her, but few knew her.

Charlotte wished she were this kind of girl. There was a difference, a confidence she lacked, a quality she would never possess. Instead, she would always be watching Jamie. Watching her and relishing in the moments they got. Because Charlotte was invited places because she was smart and relatively attractive, but lacked everything Jamie had. If they had been one person, they would have been amazing. Instead they were two, two acquaintances, linked by friends of friends who kept them near enough each other to envy the other in a small way.

The summer weekend at the lake had been the kind of thing they wrote short stories about: silly, fun, full of moments that would touch them and the others for the rest of their lives, as one of them saw a morning glory or felt the tickle of humidity.

It was at the end of this weekend that Charlotte decided it was time to do something. She had to. She had to know. She had to ask. And as they got up to start packing, after dragging their limbs through the water and laying on the dock, it was that time.

“Uhm….Jamie?” She was walking slowly but quickly, with persistence.

“Sure, what’s up Charlotte?”

“Do you think I could get a ride?”

“Oh, yeah, well, it’ll be a bit until I get back to the city. I wanted to stop somewhere first. Is that OK with you?”

“Sure.” There was nothing buy yeses for Jamie. Always.

+++

They called them enigmas. That was the word that Charlotte could not remember. People who drew you in for no reason. People you wanted to be around just because.

They stopped at a bar. They got drunk. Why they were here Charlotte could not tell. They lay in the grass outside, the waitress bringing them drinks even though they were not technically at the bar anymore. They were laying on each other, because they couldn’t find the blanket in Jamie’s car. Secrets lay about them, strewn like failed love letters in a teenage boy’s room.

“I never really knew if I liked girls. Or boys. It’s all been the same to me,” Charlotte found herself saying. “Maybe I just don’t know anything.”

“Are you bi?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you love girls?”

“I don’t even know that I can love one person. I’ve never loved one person.”

“Are you poly?”

“I don’t know. I don’t really know anything. I’m 27, with a good job, a decent life, and confused as all hell. I know less than I did at 14, somehow.”

They were close enough to threaten to kiss, but neither of them moved to do so. They just lay there, drinking, smoking cigarettes, and letting the last of the summer light die on their thighs.

“You know, Charlotte, I have no fucking clue either.”

Charlotte laughed at the idea.

“You should, though,” she said as she took another drink of an impossibly strong whisky and coke. “You have everything, you just don’t know it yet, Jamie.”

Jamie took a drag of the cigarette, and opened her thighs to the sun.

Charlotte looked at her, took the cigarette, and gave it back.

They both sighed.

Nesting {scenes}

They built a nest for themselves, safe from the rain and the heat and the sun.

Here, in the piles of pillows from childhood and blanket forts, they hid. The funny thing is they hid from each other as much as they hid from the rest of the world, waking to talk and laugh and chitter, falling asleep a few hours later, waking up from their nap to snack from what they found in the fridge.

Sometimes, they said nothing. Sometimes, they just curled up around each other and let their breath cloudy the air under the blankets with each other’s scent.

“Let’s run away and built a hut in New Mexico.”

“OK.”

They dreamt in their nest. They dreamt together and tried not to let their own fears and holdups keep them from each other. They dreamt of a life together that was easier, easier and constant, like it was in their nest. They read each other pieces of the internet. They laughed at Youtube movies. They shared those dreams, and a few of them, a few of them they kept to themselves.

The nest, the gathering of blankets and sheet and pillows, it was where they felt safe. It was where they could be themselves, instead of the people they presented the world every day. He was less of an ass. She was less of a pushover. They were, in a sense, perfect.

They tried to love in their nest. They did their best. They opened up and hoped they would find their way to each other across the expanse of their creation, across their own bodies, the walls of muscle, skin and bone that kept everything from everything.

It was a good place. It was the kind of place you close your eyes and think of when your boss is yelling at you or everything that day has gone wrong. It was a place, just for them.

lucy and charlie {fiction}

She didn’t like her spot. Lucy liked her toys piled up next to it, her giraffe that she slept with every night, and the pile of soft blankets that made up her spot. But she did not like her spot.

She could not help her size. Being a mutt, she did not know what her mother or father really were, but somewhere along the line they had been large. And she was large. Not quite as big as the Great Dane she saw once walking down the street with a prissy lady, but large.

Her spot was not large. The WInnebago was not large.

Charlie grunted in his sleep and she lifted her head from the giraffe and look at him. Was he OK? Yes, he was OK. She lay back down.

In the morning, she could hear him start to wake up, so she woke up. She paced in front of him. She lay her head down near his hand.

Pet me, please? I’m hungry, too. 

Charlie got up after Lucy pestered for about 20 minutes.

“OK, girl. I got the message. Grub for you and for me.”

He rolled out of the tiny bed and and looked in the cupboards.

“OK, what have we got for me?”

As he looked around the WInnebago, he scratched his ass and picked bits of food from his bushy beard. The beard was scraggly, as if he had inadvertently grown it in the middle of the night.

But me, first, please. I’m hungry, Charlie…

Lucy whined.

Charlie poked his head out of the fridge and looked at her.

“OK, girl.”

As he filled her bowl, he sighed.

“This stuff smells like shit and I wish i could give you better, but its what we got for now, OK Luce?”

Lucy was happy. She devoured her meal and nosed around her bowl, hoping it would refill even though she knew it would not. She looked at Charlie, hoping he would give her more, even though she knew that wasn’t going to happen either. After a minute of staring at each other, she complied and sat, watching him as he went back to rummaging for food.

Lucy sat outside, on the grass near the neighborhood with the pretty houses and yards. She had no yard. She had this patch of grass. She sat, looking.

A pretty girl ran by, running. From something? To something? Or just running? Lucy watched her, then stretched. Lucy remembered when she and Charlie used to go running, when they were both younger. Her tail started to wag at the memory. She had a yard, then, too. It was big and there was a squirrel in the tree near the kitchen who would chatter at her. She hated the squirrel. She loved the yard. She would sleep there until Charlie got home and then they would go running. It was nice. She liked it much better than the Winnebago. That had come after Charlie had been sad for a long time. She was not sure why, but he was sad and he stopped leaving during the day, and he stopped running. He just lay in bed and she lay with him, trying to love him out of his sadness. He did not comply. He kept getting sadder, then one day they went on a walk with all his bags. too many bags. And then came the Winnebago.

She looked inside.

Charlie was in a nicer shirt, and he came outside with her leash.

“We might get a job, today, girl.”

She waited outside the brick building. It had been awhile, but nice people had pet her and talked to her. She liked them. They were nice. The nice lady from inside had brought her water, too, which was nice because it was very hot outside. She lay down because the hot pavement hurt her paws.

She waited because Charlie was inside doing something and he had talked to he the whole way here and been very happy. She liked it when Charlie was happy. It made her happy. He had brushed his hair and he gave her a bit of bacon from his breakfast. It was tasty.

She hoped they would go soon. She wanted to go home and the pavement was no place for a nap. She had slept a little bit, but then a little girl pulled on her ear and woke her up. She was not very happy about it ,but the little girl pat her nose and called her a good doggie.

Charlie came outside.

“Lucy, I’m not sure how that went.”

He untied Lucy and they started walking home.

“I’m tired of that shithole and I want to get us to a nice place, Lucy, where there are squirrels for you to chase.

Her ears perked at the word squirrels.

“Yeah, squirrels! And that job might be our ticket to a life of squirrels and a real bed and an address. The guy asked me all sorts of questions and then kept chewing his pencil. It was pretty disgusting, but the job is good and it pays real well. Real well, Lucy.”

Charlie kept talking and she kept walking.

Soon. {fictionish}

It was silent now, without the sound of the TV and the heater and phones buzzing and ringing. It was silent and there was nothing to do but sit and wait.

It would happen soon.

The world would end and everything would come crashing down.

It was not that he did not want the child, he was certain he’d love it. But this time, the time when it was just him and her and the silence, it would end. There would be noise, so much noise. And the mess. And there would be no more lazy Sundays laying in bed having sex over and over again for the mere fact that they were bored and already naked so why not.

He was determined to love it, no matter what. He should no longer call the baby an it. That was not fair. It was a he. It was going to be Cody and he was going to love it.

He cursed himself.

The baby would be named Cody, after his brother and he would love Cody. Cody would be wonderful and make him happy and he and Julie would coo and ooh and ahh at every little shit the thing made.

He doubly cursed himself.

He was not ready to give up the silence, was the problem. He stood, in the hospital, pacing in between two rows of chairs that looked like a plastics factory had an illicit affair with a carpet factory. He walked, pacing, wishing he had a cigarette. He was should be in the room with his screaming wife, but he had needed a break and it had been hours of her clenching his hand and then letting go and saying all the calming things his sister, mother and the lady who taught that class told him to say. It was tiring. Not as tiring as what Julie was doing, but tiring nonetheless. So he walked outside, claiming he needed a cigarette even though he could care less so he could stand here, fretting about their sex-filled Sundays and where they would go and wishing they were home and watching Glee instead of this, eating ice cream and cookies and laughing.

He wondered if anyone else had ever been ready. He wondered if his father had been ready. If only he could’ve asked him. If only he had someone to ask, “Am I supposed to be this freaked out? Shouldn’t I want to bring this child into my life and nurture and care for it? Shouldn’t I love it already?”

He wondered if he was selfish. When Julie had started casually bringing up having kids he was much more excited at the possibility of having even more regular sex than they already accomplished, in the name of having a baby that is. He had been excited at not having to deal with Julie’s anxiousness at whether she had taken her Pill that day or if she had forgotten or where they were. Maybe he should have told her this. But he loved her, and this would make her happy.

He saw the way she looked at her nieces and nephews, the way her eyes had strayed to the kids clothing in Target. He knew his time had ended and that the silence was over. He loved her enough to give that to her, the things he loved most for the woman he loved most.

But shit. He was not ready for this Dad shit. He was scared he would not do it right and he wanted his silence. He wanted it to be just the two of them, happy. It was selfish. He was a jerk, all in all. But maybe this is what all potential fathers said to themselves as they paced a lobby, avoiding their sweating pregnant screaming wives.

Maybe he did need that cigarette. He dug in his pockets and walked outside, staring at the automatic doors moving open and closed for the excited and sad people wandering in and out of them, walking slowly down the hall as if to his own death. It was cold outside, fresh from the rain earlier. The sky was clear and despite the Los Angeles smog he could see a star or two. Or maybe they were planets. He looked up and lit his cigarette, taking a long drag and then staring at the smoke mingling with the bright dots in the sky, like fog on the beach in the morning. He watches the smoke swirl and rise up and up toward the stars until it disappeared. The cigarette seemed to last much longer than it usually did, the red cherry keeping him company and the smoke killing his lungs and keeping them warm at the same time. He hated that he still smoked. His mother smoked when he was a kid and he hated it. Another thing he’d lose because of it. Smoking.

The quiet outside was broken by the wail of an ambulance. He stepped aside as people bustled in and others streamed out to see what was going on.He did not look to see who was brought in, but kept staring at the cherry on his cigarette, watching it glow. He did not hear the bustle. He did not notice the man wheeled in. He dropped the cigarette on the ground.

He did not notice the loss of the silence until he looked up and heard all of the noise finally.

He followed the gurney inside, and kept walking past the waiting room.

He had been away too long. He had to get back in there, back to where things were. On the way he counted all the things he was losing, and he hoped that it was going to be worth it.

XIV: inanimate objects {unedited chapters}

The journal was a thing, not a person. The journal should not have feelings, wants or desires. The journal should not speak, should not dictate.

But it did.

It was alone. It was surrounded.

It was hers, it was a guide to no where in particular. It did not tell the future and it was not meant to make her fortunes better. It was no decades old, passed down from mother to daughter to improve luck and win the lottery, there was no ritual. It had been made partially by hand, partially by factory, bought by the mother in a bookstore long ago.

It had dreams of being the conduit to the next great American novel or keeping the secrets of an heiress which would later become a memoir which would later become a movie on Lifetime. But it was empty.

It had been full of hopes and dreams and words that the mother had collected and saved from magazines written in the dark light of the morning or overheard in the grocery store. The words had fallen away and continued to fall away into the books that washed over the girl, her dark hair splayed on the couch, the cat purring itself in contentment. The words were never to be seen and would not be seen except sometimes the journal liked one.

It liked pennies.

It liked the light way it glanced off the tongue and how tiny yet important the shiny coper pieces were. It liked the double ns, the way you could let the eeeeeeeis slide up or down into light or dark or be as crisp as a autumn apple. It liked the word

So it kept it. It kept it from sliding off the page into the books collected about the ramshackle apartment like a hoarder or nothing but paper and lost love.

The journal cried for the girl who had been heartbroken twice over, somewhat by her own device. The journal cried words and sniffled punctuation marks. The journal lay alone, surrounded by the other books that did not feel as it did, did not talk did not cry words did not hold hopes and dreams just words printed on a page once written by a man or woman in a cabin or hotel room hoping that they had written the next great novel hoping that maybe the advance would be enough to pay the rent. The books were not like the journal. Not at all.

XIII: fairy tales {unedited chapters}

This is not a story to make anyone feel better and maybe there are no fairy tale endings here, but there is something. The wash wash wash of the words and the spilling of letters onto white can ease. There is no moral, there is no overt struggle.

It is not easy, it is not hard. This is a story. Just a story about a girl, a boy, another boy, a journal and a life. Maybe there will be more people, maybe less.

Stop reading now if you want to leave with a better view of the world.

XII: Perfect {unedited chapters}

It was perfect. She looked at her three jars of pennies. Perfect.

She leaned back on the couch, putting her book down, awash in words of a fantasy novel – she smelled the leather and heard the clink of metal the sweat and the bodice around her ribcage. She lay down on the couch and let the words float there, like waves washing over her her as she stared at the pennies, shining copper in the afternoon light it was a mental health day or actually a day she just wanted to take off for no reason other than she could and something told her to.

She breathed in the hot air, the stray cat who now waited for her every night outside her apartment door purring as he lay on her feet. He looked up as she looked at him hoping she would not get up and then realizing she would not fell promptly back asleep but not after stretching the full length of his body.

She placed her hand on the catcalling him purr and then leaned back, the book on her chest and closed her eyes.

It was perfect.