Nobody… Anymore…

04_illustrations

“Don’t cry.” She presses the doll tight to her chest and whispers, “It will be fine. Nobody will hurt you anymore.” She stands outside the burning house watching the firemen extinguish the remnants of the fire.

The policeman wraps her up in a blanket. “What’s your name?”

“Annie.”

“How old are you, Annie?”

“I’m seven.”

“Do you live in this house?”

She nods.

“Was your mom in the house when the fire started?”

“No, she wasn’t there. Mom’s still at work.”

“So you were alone?” The policeman writes in his notebook.

“No, Bill was home.”

“Who is Bill?”

“He’s Mom’s boyfriend.”

“Can you tell me what happened?”

“Today or yesterday?”

The policeman looks puzzled. “Something happened yesterday?”

She nods.

“Tell me about yesterday.”

“Bill made Mimmy cry.”

“Is Mimmy your sister?”

“No.” The girl shakes her head and points at the doll, “This is Mimmy. And he made her cry.”

“What did he do? Did he hit you… or her?” The policeman frowns.

“No. Bill told me to come to his room. He took Mimmy and dropped her on the floor. Then he took off his pants and lay on the bed. He said, “Come here and sit on it.” I didn’t want to, but he made me. Then he said, “Don’t tell Mom.” I took Mimmy and went to my room. Mimmy cried all night. It hurt. It still hurts.”

The policeman keeps writing in his notebook, his fingers tremble slightly. “Did you tell your mom?”

The girl shakes her head. “No, he told me not to.”

The policeman nods. “Now, Annie, can you tell me what happened today?”

She nods. “Bill came home and called for me.”

“You were in your room?”

She nods. “I was with Mimmy. She was afraid.”

“Then what happened?”

“I took Mimmy and came downstairs. Bill took a beer from the fridge and told me to come to his room when he called for me. Mimmy and I waited in the kitchen. Mimmy cried.”

“Did he call for you?”

“No. Mimmy wanted to hide in my room, but Bill told me to wait for him in the kitchen so I had to stay there. I waited for a while. He didn’t call for me so I tiptoed upstairs to see what he was doing. He was sleeping. I went downstairs to the garage. I know where he keeps gasoline. I took the can and went back upstairs. I spilled gasoline in front of his door and then went back to the kitchen. I know where Mom hides cigarettes and a lighter. I took the lighter and went upstairs. When the fire started I took Mimmy and we left the house. Lucy ran away too.”

“Who is Lucy?”

“She’s my dog. She’s over there. She got scared when the firemen arrived. I’m not scared. I’m waiting for Mom.” The girl smiles at her doll. “And Mimmy is not crying anymore.”

Burnt Match

Image Credit: Januz Miralles

Image Credit: Januz Miralles

Matt arrived late. When he entered the church it was already crowded. Numerous colleagues and students sat on the benches and looked at the coffin where the Dean lay. Matt breathed in thick air and felt overwhelmed with the suffocating vibe of death. He made a hasty step to leave but then changed his mind and only loosened his tie. He leaned against the wall near the entrance door and looked at the widow. As always, he couldn’t take his eyes off her face.

Wrapped in a long black dress that accentuated thinness of her body, she seemed more fragile than ever. Her red curly locks, which usually hung loose to her shoulders, were now hidden under the strict black hat. Her stiff, straight posture and a slight tilt of the head made her look like a burnt match. She stood near the coffin and shook hands with people that kept coming over to her to express their condolences.

“She doesn’t hear them,” Matt watched her force a mechanical nod. “She doesn’t see them. She’s barely there.”

Last time Matt saw her at the Dean’s birthday party. She laughed at her husband’s awkward jokes holding onto his shoulder, and the flame of her hair danced along the rhythm of her laughter. Matt chuckled too, not able to resist her contagious joy.

“What does she see in him?” Matt looked at the Dean’s bald head. “His thick glasses? His false teeth?”

“Well, it’s not fair,” he said to himself. “He’s not so old to have false teeth. But he’s too old for her.”

Now he was too dead. Matt looked at the corpse in the coffin. There were no glasses on the Dean’s nose; and he didn’t smile to show his horse teeth. He looked calm and secure as if he knew that, even dead, he still owned her, as if he was sure that now, leaving this world, he would take all her warmth and brightness with him so that she could never look at anyone else the way she used to look at him.

Matt wanted to come up to her and look into her eyes and say something nice and encouraging. He wanted to try and erase the lines of pain destroying the beauty of her pale face. But he kept standing next to the wall. He was afraid to meet the dark emptiness of her look which replaced lively sparkles that had always flicked in her smiley eyes. For the first time he didn’t want her to know he was there.

He left the church, not waiting till the end of the ceremony. She won’t notice anyway. She won’t care. He had always been in the shadow of her love for another man. Now, he will stay in the shadow of this man’s death.

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

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Rebelling in the Rain

passing-through

Image Credit: lesley-oldaker@Deviant Art

It was his fourteenth birthday, and he didn’t want to go home even though he was all soaked through. Since he never listened to the weather broadcast or his mother he wasn’t prepared for this sudden, though predicted downpour that now was hitting him with its big and heavy drops.

He didn’t care. He stood in the middle of the street and watched people hide under umbrellas and hurry away to get under the roof as soon as possible. They ran to their safe spots, to their dry worlds.

He looked at a couple that shared a small umbrella and, huddling, tried to speed up the steps, but instead of walking faster they waddled clumsily and stumbled every so often. “One shelter for two never works,” he thought. “That’s how they feel home too. Their love is as awkward as this run in the rain. It’s all a big lie.”

He looked up at the grey sky. The water flew down his neck, and he felt its cold touch under his collar. “You are bullies!” he cried at the clouds. “Why do you make us suffer?” The clouds ignored the question. “I won’t let you win!”

A man, scurrying by, threw a scared glance at the boy and then immediately looked away.

“Keep running!” the boy yelled at the man’s back. “He thinks I’m crazy. But I’m the only one who is not,” he told himself. “I’m right, and I won’t leave. The rain makes all of you hide in the stuffy cages you call apartments, in the small worlds with annoying routines you call life.” He lifted the collar of the wet jeans jacket and shivered.

“I’ll stay outside. Yes, I’ll get wet, so what? No big deal, I won’t get cold. And even if I die of pneumonia it still will be better than pretending that I’m happy.”

“It’s better here, outside,” he kept convincing himself. “I’ll walk along the streets, I’ll be among people, and I won’t feel lonely. I’m one of them even though they don’t realize it, they don’t recognize me in their blind haste.”

“I’ll stay. Maybe the rain is not a bully at all, maybe it’s just a reminder that you can’t hide from what’s inside you, from the pain that eats you, no matter how strongly you wish to avoid it. I’ll stay. I won’t go home. Nothing that waits for me there can help me. I don’t want to see their false smiles. I don’t care about their stupid cake. I don’t need their fake love. I don’t care because they don’t care.”

The rain let up. Passers-by kept running past a small wet figure frozen in its desperate try to prove the point.

 

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Photo Challenge #29 “Passing Through”

 

The Red Date

calendar

The days of the week lined up like buckets, ready to catch whatever fell in. He stared at the calendar in despair, “There’s no hope here. The future is empty, there’s no way to fill it in.” He touched the red date of Sunday. The smell of blood hit his nostrils. He jerked his hand as if to wave the smell away, but it stayed. He shivered, his memory brought him there again.

He came back to that weekend where time lost its meaning, where the whole world stopped, where he couldn’t feel anything but the pain of burning regret and remorse, remorse, remorse. That weekend when he knocked at the door of his son and didn’t hear anything in response.

“Stupid boy, playing his games all day long, can’t hear anything but the shooting in his headphones. Open!” he knocked stronger. “I need to talk to you.” The room behind the door stayed silent. “Jerry, if you don’t open I’ll come in anyway.” Silence again. “Enough! I’m fed up with your childish behaviour.”

He pushed the door and entered. The room was empty. The computer was off, and the bed was neatly made.

“Finally, somebody came to his senses,” he thought with relief. “I hope he also washed his hair.” He knocked at the bathroom door. “Can I come in?” He heard nothing but running water. “Jerry, I’m sorry I yelled at you, but I’m your father, I know better. And I see that you have agreed with me.” He looked around the clean room and smiled: even the bookshelves were dusted.

“Jerry, I’m coming in.” He stepped in the bathroom, and his foot sunk in the pool of water. “What the heck, Jerry!” he wanted to say, but his eyes received the answer already. Jerry, dressed in his Sunday-church suit, floated in the opaque red water flowing over the brim of the bathtub.

The hysterical ambulance siren pulled the neighbors out of their houses to the street where they watched in silence the car carrying the body away. “What are you staring at?” he yelled. “There’s nothing to look at here, don’t you see? Nothing to look at!”

“Nothing to look at here.” He turned away from the calendar and wiped his tears. “I’m sorry, Jerry. I thought I knew better than you, and it’s too late now. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

Brevity Teasers

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time,” said Blaise Pascal and looked proudly at the pile of paper covered with his neat writing. “Not a blot! That’s how great I am in writing,” he boasted and stroked the upper leaf with his hand. “This feather can’t be used anymore though,” he looked at the broken tip, sighed and threw it out in the open window. The feather did a slow farewell dance in the air and fell on the cobbled roadway.

You know what they say,” Anton Chekhov pensively looked at the feather disappearing under the hoof of a dirty horse. “Brevity is the sister of talent,” Chekhov gave Pascal a wink, “which one you, obviously, don’t have.”

What?” Pascal jumped up from his chair and clenched his fists. “What have you just said? Repeat it and I will punch this grin off your face right away!”

Oh, come on, Blaise, calm down! Don’t take it so seriously,” William Shakespeare tapped Pascal’s shoulder.

But Bill, don’t you see, he’s mocking me!”

Tony made a joke, that’s all. He’s a satirist, that’s what they do.”

Pascal looked at Chekhov through his narrowed eyes and murmured several words in French, one of them being ‘merde’.

Chekhov took off his pince-nez and, while cleaning it with his handkerchief, looked with his near-sighted squint at the cloud that looked like a grand piano. “But tell us, Bill,” he said after a long pause. “You are agreed with me, aren’t you?”

Well, you know what I wrote in my last work…”

About the cuckoo prince? Yes, I remember. But tell him,” Chekhov pointed his pince-nez at Pascal. “He has no time to read, he spends it all on writing without blots.”

Shakespeare nodded and recited, “Therefore since brevity is the soul of wit, // And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, // I will be brief. Your noble son is mad.

I will be brief,” repeated Chekhov and giggled, “Pascal is tedious and should quit writing.”

Damn you idiots!” Pascal jumped up from his chair again. “We are not friends anymore.” He pointed at the door. “Get out of my house!”

Shakespeare shrugged his shoulders and got up from the couch. “Ok, Tony, let’s go. It’s time to pay a visit to someone else.”

“To Charlie maybe?” Chekhov put the pince-nez back on his nose.

Sure, why not?”

They came out to the street and stopped a cab. “Bring us to the Dickens’s house,” Shakespeare said.

Yes, bring us to Dickens,” Chekhov grinned and rubbed his hands. “We have some brevity issues to discuss.”

“All right, sir,” the cabman said, and off they went to see the man working on Little Dorrit.

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The Danger of Blue Eyes

She couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen the stars, but at the moment she fell into the dark-blue sky of his eyes she saw all of them at once. Mesmerized, she didn’t blink. If only she knew what it meant…

 

“No light, please, no light,” he said hiding behind his hand when she clicked on the switch.

“Why not?” She asked laughing at this funny figure awkwardly crouching on the bed. The noise of the party, which merrily bubbled in her veins, leaked through the half-open door into this small room which tonight they used as a wardrobe.

“What are you, a vampire?” She made a scary face and jumped on the bed pushing coats and jackets aside. “Let me drink your sweet blood, my darling!”

“You’re funny.” Still squinting, he leaned against the wall. Finally adapted to light, he looked straight at her.

They were beaming, his eyes, and under their radiant power her body drowned in warmth so thick and so permeating that she couldn’t tell where her skin ended and where the air began, such seamless was the connection.

“I have to go,” he said and got off the bed. “Thank you for waking me up. It’s your turn now.” He switched off the light and closed the door behind him.

“Don’t go,” she wanted to say. “Stay here, with me, forever.” But she couldn’t move her lips; she suddenly felt cold as if he took all the warmth with him. She crouched on the bed and managed to cover herself with a random jacket before her heavy eyelids closed and her mind drifted away into the endlessly black smiling emptiness.

 

“Stacy, are you still there? Have you found your coat or not?” Andy’s hand clicked on the switch.

“No light, please, no light,” she whispered hiding her eyes behind her hand.

“What are you doing in bed? Are you sick? I told you, get easy on cocktails! Come on, look at me, it can’t be that bad.”

She finally opened her eyes and looked straight at him. They were beaming, her eyes, as dark-blue as summer water glittering in the sun. The fresh breeze embraced him and dropped into the waves of the bottomless ocean where he couldn’t tell when one wave ended, when another began, so smooth was the flow, so seamless was the connection.

“Don’t go,” he wanted to say, but the powerful, rapid stream already swept him away into the depth of the endlessly black smiling emptiness.

 

On the spaceship placed into Earth orbit an automatic door opened to the cabin of Commander in Chief.

“Any news, colonel?“

“Yes, sir. The mission Blue Eyes is completed. The epidemic is triggered; the collective intelligence will be reprogrammed within a week.”

“Great work, colonel. Prepare the space troops for landing.”

“Will you stay to supervise, sir?”

“No, I have to go to Mars. I expect complications there. The Red Planet is better prepared; we can’t take them unawares.”

“I assume you will use Plan C, sir.”

“Exactly. You can go, colonel. Keep me informed if anything changes.”

“Yes, sir.”

The automatic door closed. Commander in Chief looked through the porthole at the blue ball of Earth. “Irresponsible creatures, they fool around instead of guarding the planet. Nothing could have been easier.”

 

Freaking Out

I stopped by our favorite café to wait for Greg and ordered espresso. I sipped my coffee, looked at the window and pretended I was absorbed with the view of the busy street and didn’t care that the guy in the corner stared at the back of my head for fifteen minutes. I felt enormous relief when I saw with the corner of my eye that he got up from his chair. “Finally he’s leaving,” I thought. I was wrong. He came up to my table and sat in front of me.

“Hi,” he said. “I’ve been looking for you.”

“You mean at me,” I thought, but I said only, “Really?” and expressed false surprise as well as I could.

“Yes, you look beautiful in this light. I’m Danny. Can I ask your name?”

Softened with the compliment, I said, “Liz. But I have a boyfriend.”

“I know, I saw you with him here, a week ago. That’s why I was looking for you. He doesn’t deserve you.”

“Oh really?”

“Yes, really,” he said seriously, not noticing my sarcasm.

“It’s not your business,” I decided to be more direct.

“It’s my business because I deserve you.” Now he stared at my forehead and, probably as a result of heavy concentration, his eyes crossed.

I felt awkward, but also curious. “Are you trying to hypnotize me?”

“I’m connecting to your third eye to correct your thinking.”

“Oh, and how’s it going?” I checked my cellphone for time.

“He’s late, your boyfriend?” he asked.

He was, but I said, “It’s none of your business, believe me.”

“I saw him with another woman. Here, twice. He doesn’t deserve you. You should be with me.”

Now I stared at him. “When, how did she look?”

“Red hair, slim, not as beautiful as you are. So, will you go out with me? I can cook, I dance tango and I am a great lover.”

“Oh my god,” I got up from the chair. He got up, too, and grabbed my hand.

“Don’t leave, let’s go to see a movie.”

“Next time,” I said, pulling my hand out of his clammy claw and wiping it off on my jeans.

“Promise?” he said.

“Sure.” I rushed to the door and right outside the café bumped into Greg.

“Liz, I’m so sorry I’m late.”

“Sure, it’s hard to date two women at once.” I pushed him away and hurried along the street.

“What are you talking about?” Greg caught up with me and blocked my way.

“I knew it!” I almost cried at him. “I knew something’s going on, and now it’s finally clear.”

“What’s clear?” He looked puzzled.

“You are cheating on me, that’s what’s clear! You don’t even care enough to bring her to another place; you meet her in our café!”

“Who told you this crap?”

“Danny!” I paused. “I mean, he’s a freak, for sure, but it doesn’t matter. He saw you with another woman.”

“And you believe some random freak more than me?”

I looked at him, confused. ”Kinda.”

“You’re a freak!” he shook his head. “Let’s go, I will introduce you to my second girlfriend.” He brought me to his car and waved to a read-haired woman on the front seat.

“Melissa, this is my girlfriend. Liz, this is Melissa, she is a realtor,” he looked at me meaningfully. “Re-al-tor.”

“Realtor?”

“Yes, realtor.”

“You bought the house!” I jumped on him and hung on his neck.

“Almost. I want you to see it first.”

“Oh my god, I’m such an idiot, I’m so sorry.” I hid my face on his shoulder.

“I know,” he kissed my cheek and said, “Get in the car.”

Before we took off, I said, “You know, let’s not go to that café anymore. I’m afraid being a freak is contagious.”

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