Each month, we post a photograph as a writing prompt. Post your 100-word story in the comments section, and we’ll choose one to feature in our next issue. To see examples, read photo stories we’ve published in the past.
Photo credit: Anne Worner
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He’s watching baseball. It must be spring again. Crack! Tiny sprinter on the shabby Magnavox. I want to run home too. He likes the game because each player’s accountable. Cup in hand, I can’t even look at him. Turn away, try to decipher his face in the tacky motel picture’s glass. He doesn’t even notice. Reach for my clothes hoping he’ll ask if I’m leaving. Silent! Don’t cry. I want to run home. His arm slides to second and pulls me over, “Today’s a double header.” I straddle his still moist chest and laugh, “Can you still see the game?!”
THE IMPOSSIBLE ROOM
Nothing in that room existing as it should. The pills in her pocket, unswallowed. The sky outside, bright orange and uncontained but inside soaked into the wall’s wood striations, pushed this way and that by shadows. Perhaps, in this impossible room, the tree that fell to become that wall is still causing it to grow—concentric life pushing outward every new, green year and becoming eventually another brown half-inch of wall. Maybe one day it (and she) will grow beyond this place. Maybe, if she waits here long enough, the pills will dissolve in her pocket instead of her blood.
“existed” instead of “existing”
Title: Within The Scarlet Teardrop
Shadows. Only shadows behind us. Nothing entraps us, right? No footprints. With past fecundity we face the light. Thoughts evade us in the night, without illumination to sustain the emerging crystal clarity of another sublime day. Electronics possess us momentarily for their mere service. Enlightened we conceal the juicy memory of another day gone by. Traceable future behind us. Shadows. A menu of our desires reflected, only to confound the accumulation of more unforgettable recollections. Approaching the light memories sustain parchment, quill, attachment, and prompt. Ahead into the unknown ambiguously we direct the ember of a hope to grasp eternity.
Our first year we couldn’t get enough. By year three we had peaked. Rabbits to robots. Our French pastry marriage now a box of stale donuts.
Were we ever in love? Our vows never mentioned complacency. Familiarity does breed contempt.
Your car was hot, too hot to let me drive it. You bought me a mini-van instead. Insisted I wear your favorite scent. Told me we were too cool to have a child messing up our perfection.
You gave and told, but you never asked.
Now I’m telling you. My flight’s at nine.
I’m two months pregnant.
It’s not yours.
Absolutely wonderful.. Great flow, imagery and story- love the ending…
Thank you 🙂
It’s like when you go see your favourite band in concert and you wait for them to finally play that song. The one that first made you examine all the possibilities, with the piano solo that arouses senses eclipsing music and all terrestrial existence.
But, under the glow of the lights, the singer is out of tune and the drummer speeds up and the guitar feeds back and the disappointment is greater than the price of the ticket.
It’s like that. Except there’s no screaming crowd, the room is quiet and dull and she doesn’t even know anything about music.
When he walked in, the kids were jumping on the hotel bed. I let them. The pillows were strewn across the room and the bed sheets were a jumbled mess. They were having fun. The look on his face told me he didn’t approve.
He yanked me from the red couch and dragged me into the hotel bathroom. I remember seeing the folded white towels lying on the bathtub’s edge before he delivered the first blow. After the second, everything went black.
I left the kids the emergency contact number on the pad. I hope they got away in time.
I grab my clothes from the drawer and shove it into my travel bag. I stuff my clothes as deep as I can and zip it shut. In front of the mirror I fix on a long red haired wig and brush it smooth. Passport? Check. Money? Check. Keys? Check. There is one more thing left to do. I grab a bottle of alcohol and douse every possible surface getting rid any evidence of my existance. I light a match and toss it on the floor. Fire whips to life and surge throughout the house. I make my escape … again.
After a two-week trip in February, traveling from city to hotel from hotel to city, the wheels on my luggage cart spun around and around like a roulette wheel, stopping, finally, in the last hotel room.
I collapsed on the red sofa. Reaching for the phone to call room service, suddenly, a streak of warm, red light slashed my hand like a knife. I eyed a red teardrop in the form of a lamp, remembered it was the 14th. No heart shaped chocolates, no cute card to send. Instead of room service, I called my wife. She answered.
I was about to toss you out. End our years of coexistence. Reminiscing helped me see you in a new light. Made me realize how good you’ve been to me. Through difficult as well as good times you were there for me. Your goal to please was simple. You aimed to brighten my dark evenings and make me feel safe at night when I couldn’t sleep. I’m thankful for your enduring warmth. For without you, I wouldn’t have been able to orientate myself in these surroundings. Nor read my favorite books. Lamp I’ve owned for countless years, we belong together.
Yet another night alone in the hotel, watching football and flipping through the take out menus. Jared was on another business trip. Always travelling in the company of his iron pressed suits, paperwork, and emptiness. The kind of emptiness that could only be filled by binge eating slices of Meat Lover’s pizza. He finally decided to get Domino’s. “How original,” he thought. But he didn’t mind it. He loved his job. He loved traveling. Although he never made it out of his hotel room, he told himself, as he stuffed yet another slice into his mouth, next time he will.
Sheets muffled radiating a silence cutting through empty space and breaking these hearts. Hearts that sink in myself and the heat radiating next to me. Leaning to squeeze his hand feeling lost in the emptiness only a hotel room can bring. If that call would ring through, if that moment could happen, I could erase this pain and that inhospitable environment. I could have a child lay between us, and I could know that he would be a daddy. I want that more than I desire to hear momma, and then silence breaks. RINGS blast through, “we’re ready for you.”
“Room 278, our jacuzzi suite! Merry Christmas!” You pull your car around the back and grab your duffel bag from the passenger seat. You walk up to a door with salt loudly crunching under your feet. You head up to the second floor and slide your key into the door. The room smells like disinfectant and freshly laundered sheets. You turn on the hot water faucet in the jacuzzi tub, open your bag, and set the pill bottle on the edge. You place an envelope marked “Martha” on the desk. You disrobe and enter the tub. You open the bottle.
A muddy river of thoughts rolled through his head, none of them ever becoming quite solid enough to hold onto. He looked around the dimly lit hotel room and focused upon the table near the window. He walked over and grabbed the bottle of pills sitting there. Henry Rimington. Donepezil. Two pieces of a puzzle he couldn’t quite solve.
A cell phone rang.
“Where are you, Henry? I’ve been worried sick. Why don’t you come home already?”
He felt his heart rate increase, his face become flushed. It was the dream where he wasn’t wearing pants.
“Who is this?”
“And what do you think these dreams may mean?”
“Why are you calling them dreams!” Vincent screamed. “I keep telling you, it happened…it all really happened.”
“But you can’t prove that can you?”
“I can.” Vincent drew a stick from his inside coat pocket. He twirled it once and a slight breeze swept through the office. “See, it’s magic. I don’t know how to really use it yet, but it works.”
“Of course it does.” Said the doctor, taking the stick from Vincent. The timer rang, the session ended, and the doctor turned around. The windows were shut and locked.
I closed my eyes for a moment – I needed to remember why I was here. I longed for the smell of fresh linen though I don’t remember why. When I stepped through the doorway I was met with the familiar freshness mixed with hints of sage and candle smoke. I began to remember: long brunette hair, her unique eyes, the clamoring laughter – melodically dissonant.
I laid my head on the pillow and fell asleep in hopes of dreaming; remembering. There she was, one hand on my waist the other wrapped around an amber bottle of seasonal ale.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.
Often, I ponder this mystery. How ideas condense, gain substance, take form – step from thought into physical reality. Like most, I entered the priesthood because I believed.
Those dark nights of the soul, despairing of the call, I abandon the parsonage – rife with crucifixes – and get a hotel room. For the impersonality. To imagine other lives I might be leading. Then I’ll notice something. Shadows, maybe. Lamps like red tear drops. And I remember Christ’s perspired blood droplets in Gethsemane.
Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me.
A bit improved:
Often, I’ve pondered this mystery. How ideas condense, gain substance, take form – step from thought into physical reality.
After all, I entered the priesthood because I first believed.
Those dark nights of the soul, despairing of the call, I’d abandon the parsonage – nailed wall-to-wall with crucifixes – and get a hotel.
To imagine parallel lives I might be leading.
Then I’ll notice something in the room. Shadows, perhaps. Lamps like red tear drops. And I’ll remember Christ’s perspired blood in Gethsemane.
The energy in my room is reminiscent of you. I feel your absence on your side of my bed. It hangs from the hangers that used to hold your shirts. Sometimes it wraps me up and holds me there. Tonight I have to leave.
I check in by myself, wondering if a hotel room can actually be a neutral space. I collapse onto the bed and inevitably, I think of you. Maybe it’s not physical space you’ve invaded, but the space in my mind. I turn off the light, plunging myself into darkness, and brace myself for the night ahead.
She wearily inserted the keycard and pushed the door open. She struggled to find the light switch as she maneuvered her suitcase and duffle bag through the doorway. The light flicked on weakly. The small room smelled musty and dank. She pulled back the comforter of the bed and flopped into the ocean of starched white hotel sheets. This was not the Ritz. Hell, this was barely a Motel 8. But she was finally safe. That night, she slept soundly for the first time in 62 days, but she was sure to keep the pistol on the nightstand beside her.
The room would have serviced.
Not that we would have needed much.
Would we have noticed the picture in the frame,
or the late afternoon sun falling through the ruby-red glass foot of the lamp, transforming the upright into the horizontal?
The oblivion of blinding passion does not need a room, but you did.
You said you needed room.
I reserved one for you – for us,
but you did not come.
What a difference an article (or the absence of one) can make!
Picture in frame,
late afternoon sun,
ruby-red glass foot of lamp transforming horizontal into upright.
The light filtered into the room the morning after. He opened his eyes, almost shocked to see her laying there. She was facing away from him. He found comfort in the tan of her bare shoulders. His eyes traced the line of freckles going down her spine.
How had he gotten this lucky? Three years prior she was just another girl at a party. Now, he was admiring the outline of his wife. The woman he would spend eternity loving.
She rolled over, opening her bright eyes. A smile stretched across her face, her joy sweeping over him as always.
The light is waning, slightly peeking through the heavy, ajar shades. The room is quiet. The tick of the clock, the rustle of the blinds, the hum of the AC can be heard, but for her the sounds have faded with the protrusion of her thoughts. She sits on the edge of the lumpy mattress, waiting. Shadows dance on the walls where her gaze lies, but in truth she sees nothing. There are moments where she wishes to run, to leave and never return, but she is frozen, completely immobile. The phone rings. Her body goes rigid. Will she answer?
Last night’s takeout menu glares up at me accusingly. Dazed and hungover, I struggle to decipher the scarlet letters scrawled across the cover. I look over at Katie, hidden beneath a pillow, sleeping soundly. Over my shoulder, Bob Costas announces a double play by the Cardinals. We had been looking forward to this game.
My memory claws at the events of the previous night as I try to make sense of the scratch marks smothering my hands and arms. Muffled screams echo against my eardrums, sharpening the pounding in my skull. I glance back at the menu: sorry, accident.
When she wakes up in the hotel room, she remembers. The shame.The hurt.The hate she feels for herself. She had left the house without warning, leaving her kids to wonder where their mom had gone. She can’t remember anything after she arrived at the luxurious hotel, which she had paid for with her husband’s credit card. There’s some vodka left in the fifth lying next to her. It won’t be enough, but it will do for now. She takes a drink and the burning stings her throat. It comforts her. Soon she will be numb again.
To whom it may concern,
You are not the first one to pass this way but I cannot promise that you will not be the last. The shadows where long upon the wall foretelling of the darkness that was soon to fall. You walked around the room opening empty draws wishing against hope, to find some lost forgotten treasure left behind from your predecessor. A secret that will stop the passage of time. You turn on the game and wait. You will not wait long. The closer the night draws the hungrier I become.
Sincerely, The Fly on the Wall
All day, he’d imagined her shoulders, breathing in her scent as his lips softly settled on her skin. It was a mantra he’d needed to soothe his gnawing anxiety, so when she called at 8:15 to say she wasn’t coming, he felt nothing but relief. Now staring into the sea of neon below the hotel window, he asks himself if he would’ve gone through with it, not certain he can believe the answer. What would it feel like to have cheated? How heavy would that weight be? How long would he have to carry it? For now, he didn’t know.
I can feel the weight of the dilemma in the story. Well done.
And in Two Hours You’re Hungry Again
“How do you know you’ve hit bottom? You quit digging.”
I’m living proof my wife has lousy taste in men. So do Betsy, Maurene and Kenisha. My fellow addicts think I’m bragging when I share at my 12-step meetings.
I’ve tried accelerating my demise with “X,” coke, “X” and coke. The list has more combinations than a Chinese menu. That reminds me of Liang Lu. My latest. She’s best when hot and spicy. General Tso’s daughter.
There’s a knock at the door. I hope she brought lunch. I open it without looking. It’s a guy. “You Paul Jenkins?” I’m served.
Title: So many questions.
Something has gone badly wrong.
Still feeling woozy, I shake my head gently.
Quite natural really, but this? This is all so wrong.
I take a hesitant step forward to steady my balance.
Good, the ground is solid. As for the rest?
I know I was in the cellars of the Palace.
Now I am where?
It’s just not possible. I had set the dial to 1795 before pulling the lever.
1795 is only 3 years into the future.
When was I?
Someone coughs behind me.
Not loudly not quietly, a straight forward natural cough.
I turn around.
I brought the saw and a really fine blade, cut a perfect recess through Jonah’s pages, and put the testament back in it’s same old place—it looks completely normal.
The ricocheting light bounces from the mirror, off the flask, through the lamp’s red-glass-base, and lands suspended in the shadows; a place to hang my anxiety while I wait.
Footfalls. Yours? They pass. I can barely catch my breath.
Come on … 204 … 204, come on … you can do it!
Show up, please.
One last chance. Do this, and we’ve got it made.
You won’t have to keep sinking.
She thought she would be ashamed.
Truly she felt nothing as she stared at it on the bed. Fifteen minutes ago it was a man. What lies on the bed is just an it now. It had been almost a year. He asked to meet with her, though she knew he wanted to hurt her again. She had to end this cycle before it consumed her.
The hotel was remote. The gun was warm in her hand. The blast was quick.
In that red leather chair next to the human-stained bed, she found herself drowning in blue and red lights.
They untangle from disappointing sex. Nothing new in that. An answer forms inside her head as twisted as the bedsheet shaping a question mark between them:
‘Because there’s always expectation in hotel rooms.’
He swings his legs down, straightens to a stoop, then lumbers to the toilet; his nakedness as bland as the room they’re in.
She hears him piss. She knows that together they’ve become a set of rudimentary functions.
She pulls down her bra and reaches for her coat. She needs to get into the hallway and shed the scream that’s stretched itself across her like a skin.
Elaine, you are such a strong writer. I admire your thought process tremendously. Jeff
Thank you so much. That’s such a fantastic thing to hear especially when I admire your own writing so much. So glad to see you on here again.
Thank you very much.
I agree with Jeff-very strong-yet entertaining story. Great job.
“I’m going to the store for ice cream.” She knows I don’t smoke, so ice cream replaced cigarettes. “Bring me some Rocky Road,” she hollered. That was in Redding; now I’m in Reno.
When the well-intentioned say, “When God closes one door, He opens a new one,” I don’t think they mean room 366. Right above the slot machines. Far from her.
I look at a number the concierge gave me, but guilt makes me call my wife instead. “Harold, where the hell are you?” she yells.
“They’re out of Rocky Road.”
I hang up and call the other number.
This is so compact. I love it. Great how you develop plot and character with such ease like in the final line in para 1.
She worked the day shift and kept the television on as she cleaned. It didn’t matter the channel. She liked the background noise as she stripped the sheets, trashed the leftover belongings – a lone flip-flop, a dog-eared chapbook.
Some days, the afternoon light would pull her to a pause. She’d notice an abandoned to-do list, imagining its author. Their television show playing behind her. Their dandruff left on the pillow. Their body indented in the mattress. She’d stare at their script without reading the words, before dropping the notepad into the trash, along with the rest of her collected artifacts.
How many days had it been? Maybe seven, maybe eight. Oddly, the hunger had long passed. With each step he pushed a small mountain of snow, and with each breath the freezing air seared his lungs. If the others had any chance, he had to keep moving. The base camp was just over the rise, but his mind drifted to the hotel, where, just two weeks before, he had waited for selection. Now he wondered who had his room. Who slept in the bed with the goose down quilt. Content, he decided he should sleep, but just for a moment.
“Okay if I take off my shirt?”
“Yes, I’m just nervous.” He slid it off and reached for the remote.
“Just sit with me,” he said, “The Braves are on.”
A big dude took a few swings. Next to me, a skinny dude scratched his armpit. We sat without touching, sheets crisp.
“Listen, I’m not…”
“Don’t worry,” he said. “I know you’re not ready.” Big dude missed the pitch, a strike.
“I’m not sure if you’re serious about this,” I looked away. I hadn’t wanted him like this when we were married.
On screen, the pitcher threw a curve ball.
I put the game on the TV not because I wanted to watch, I just needed to end the silence. How long should it take him to get here? Should I leave a note for the housekeeper ahead of time? They do know I wanted a man, right? God, I hope I was clear enough. I tried to shut the drapes as best as I could but the light still streams in. Oh please don’t let my wife call. She can’t find out. She’d break just knowing her husband is gay, but cheating on her too. She can’t find out.
Your third victim in three months, his limbs bound in strips of silk, eyes blindfolded, an ice pick in his chest. Cheeks streaked scarlet from your kisses. Body tainted with the aroma of your sex. Which hurt more – his pain or your treachery? You sit naked in the corner chair, body rocking, knees drawn, staring. What are you thinking? I shed my clothes and lie at your feet, eyes closed. I hear the creaking of the chair. Footsteps whisper across the floor. I exhale knowing I can’t end your madness. Your lips brush my cheek, press my lips. You pause.
Fifty ways to leave your lover
You listed one.
We’ve gotten old.
Like the accoutrements in this room.
Once you loved our life:
Old school politics
Now we’ve gotten old.
I never complained about
your impotence: emotional, sexual, physical.
I lost a breast,
My hair, My vanity, My dignity. Almost my life.
Does that count as getting old?
Was I suppose to read your mind?
We’ve gotten old.
Go find the young ones
See if they’ll put up
With your laziness, dentures, your ED.
Don’t forget, take the Viagra we never used.
As recurring dreams go, it isn’t much. Ivan wakes up. It’s morning. He’s feeling really bad. It’s a ubiquitous Blues song scenario. First awareness rides the rumble and hiss from the room’s climate control unit. Ivan squints in the direction of the clamor. The sun is up. Featureless curtains diffuse a peculiar radiance. Ivan groans and deeply inhales a miasma of stale hotel smell.
He listens for his mother tapping lightly at the door. “Time to get up Ivan. Time to get ready for school.” He waits. Birds will be singing outside the window when he wakes. She never comes.
The hotel room wasn’t too fancy. It was nice and cozy, albeit a bit overpriced. It didn’t matter. This room was just fine for what they had planned.
It was quite by accident that they found out their respective spouses were here at this hotel together. A lucky break. So they agreed to get a room and devise a plan to confront them both. She was comfy on the red sofa and he was at the mahogany desk, ready to get to the task at hand. But first, they toasted with room service champagne to lucky breaks and new beginnings.
In hotels, I disappear. The white sheet is no one’s. Backwards from the source the same self reaches out. Lambent is the word for TV’s light in darkness. I won’t be there when I get home. You will be, but the light now is casting off of a frozen parking lot beyond. Drafty are the windows it casts through. Silver clouds some distance off bear witness. Gather myself and leave. Existence is that water trapped under ice, expanding with each step like liquid on a microscopic slide. No one remembers hotel rooms. After I go, replace the ice bucket bag.
She never trusted him. He always had a way with words; written words. She dreaded the lampshade he always sat under, scribbling worlds that hadn’t been born or would never come to be. Sometimes she peered from across a hidden edge, to see whether words flowed from a lampshade like a crystal ball. He wrote about dragons, Normans, and thrones, as he drank a Cincinnati wine. One night she cried when she heard he had published a book she thought her demons pulsated between the pages. A concert invitation he wrote for two probably would help exorcise her dark memories.
Pants on Fire
Two hundred, ninety-five dollars for the weekend based on double occupancy. You texted that it sounded wonderful. Couldn’t wait to meet me. The voice taking my order said I hope you have a great time. I was giddy at my indulgence. Used my platinum card. The destination wasn’t important. As long as we shared the weekend. I overpacked as usual, prepared for any weather. I waited in the lobby comparing your web pic with each blonde face that entered. I memorized your description. Thirty. Spontaneous. Loves barefoot walks on the beach. Danielle Steele. You never mentioned you were a liar.
He disappeared for months. Like that missing plane no one could find. He came home smelling of hotel bleach. Tiny bits of chocolate at the corner of his mouth. For a month all she listened to was Roy Orbison. “Crying” on repeat. They were high school sweethearts, although sweet too nice a word. One day after school, he’d come up to her and said you’re mine and that was it, she was his. In Vernon, TX there’s a life size statue of Roy. She priced flights. Maybe she’d disappear. Planes often fall from the sky, right themselves before they crash.
Late afternoon light is refracted through red glass, creating an illusion of motion. As if the lamp is a streaking projectile one can only comprehend as an object if caught by chance in their peripheral. The slanted shadows on the wall are reminiscent of student perspective drawings, the way they seem to nonsensically extend to a single point somewhere off the page. The wall they fall on seems textured; the result of sun through sheer curtains. Shadows layered upon shadows.
A Baseball game plays on TV.
You should take your hat off, when you’re inside.
Not my idea to be cooped up in a motel room with discontent. Perhaps it was.
Daylight obliterated a restless night, sending sunshine into my space. Thoughts distorted through insomnia became clearer. I needed to be freed.
I knew what had to be said. Just had to find the right words. Not from pen to paper, but through heart to spoken word.
I’d forgive him if it were the other way around.
Who’ll make the next move? It would be I. It always is.
Until we argue.
Only next time, hope could have run out to bring us back together.
‘If you’ll just have a seat here,’ the concierge said with practised concern, ‘I’ll make some inquiries.’
And so she sat and waited.
No inquiries were made. The concierge went off shift. The afternoon crept out of the lobby to make room for evening, trailing amber light across the Persian carpet. Happy hour came and went, too.
“Looks like she’s a no-show,” the hotel bartender said with dutiful charm. “Pour you another?”
“Set me up,” said the lonely man. He ought to retire to his room, but the darkening lobby advised against it.
Instead he sat and drank.
This was awful. Jill dumped me before I could dump her. I had to find a way to get back together so I could dump her instead.
I called her and couldn’t believe it when she said I could have another chance. We agreed to have dinner and a one-night stay in a nice hotel, with absolutely no sex involved.
Drinks and dinner were excellent, the room was comfortable, and I intended to depart before Jill awoke.
The next morning, having got up late, Jill was long gone. A note on the end table read, “Got you again dumb ass.”
Love this…made me laugh…and smile. Great job!
Drinks and dinner were excellent, the room was comfortable, and I intended to depart before Jill awoke .
The next morning, having got up late, Jill was long gone. A note on the end table read, “Got you again dumb ass”.
It’s funny at times, the things we fixate on. There never seems to be rhyme or reason, just mechanical action. I don’t think of the words that day, I don’t think of the papers that were signed, I don’t think about the mustard stain on the lawyer’s tie. No. I don’t think about the house, the car, the child that was taken away from me. I just think of that lamp, the way it’s shadow grew on the wall, how red it was. Red usually symbolizes rage, anger, passion, desire; in me, it’s just an empty, hollow, distant memory.
I roll over and cover my head with pillows to try and silence the screams. I do not want to be called as a witness as I return home tomorrow, nor do I want anyone to know I can hear what’s going on next door. I lie completely still as the screaming comes to a dying halt and I try to blend in with the absolute silence that has overcome the room. A door closes in the hallway. I can hear my heart beating as the footsteps sound to be coming closer and closer. A shadow sits beneath my door.
A Breath, Drawn In
The sun makes us feel bigger, my sister and me. Like the things our parents always say aren’t possible, are. Like the things they say we aren’t, we are. But we know we don’t make the rules, they do, which means the sun moves and shadows grow, shrink, grow again. We wax, wane, wax again. Feel full and possible and then hungry again. But for now, here, in this moment, with the sun spreading the body of a desk lamp across the laminate faux wood wall of the hotel, things are possible. For a moment, the world gives without wanting.
Six in the morning, and I’m still not drunk.
No, fuck him. Let him wonder.
What’s that “they” said about life and a black sheet of paper?
“To whom it may concern…”
Nobody fuck’n cares, Concern. Is that even a verb?
Two grams. Is that enough? Maybe with the pills…
I didn’t even turn down the bed.
“Remember to wear clean underwear…”
Mom was so lame.
Forth years with the same bastard.
Should I shower first?
Emory insisted on flavored douche, but never washed himself.
Little Amber’s recital is tonight.
Her smile gives me pause.
It doesn’t work.
“forty,” not “forth.”
“blank” not “black”?
Thank you for reading and catching a second typo.
Note to self: Proofreading is part of writing. Proofreading is part of writing. 🙂
Rolling over to turn the light out, his unfinished book glares at me, reminding me of what I had lost. His glasses slight ashew along the spine. My shaking fingertips brush over the dust jacket as a tear slinks down my cheek, splashing on my wrists. A distant memory of what once was, of a life I can never have, a life that I had lost. The fool that said time heals all wounds must have never had to experience what I did. Why don’t we ever say the things we need to say before it gone forever?
We drove for hours on hours that day. I can’t remember what we were looking for. We stopped at the lake, and walked on the ice. The wind blew on my face, and the ice cracked beneath my feet. I told you I was going to prom with your sister, and a crack formed between us. I didn’t care. We got back in the truck and drove along the lake, more quiet than before. We played poker that night, still cold from the day. After that, things were different for a while. The crack had formed, a break between us.
Note: This story and the three previous were posted in response to last month’s photo prompt–an icy landscape.
It wasn’t till I was much older that I learned that deserts were not always places of hot sand, barren land, and relentless sun. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood what it was like to feel the vast emptiness of a desert but with the sharp chill and icy coldness that is a tundra. It wasn’t till I was much older that I learned that hard feelings can be like places, and can go by many names. So now when I speak with ice on my breath I know that tundra and desert are not the same.
The ice crackled beneath his feet. Careful now. He had come too far to fall down some hidden crevasse. The outpost was only a few more miles away. What a welcome he would get! “Lone survivor of the lost expedition.” He would be famous! He stopped. He shook his backpack until the bones clattered on the ice. They wouldn’t understand. Call him a monster. It was the others’ idea. No food left and the captain was dead… was it his fault that he was better at it than they were? Shaking his head, he trudged on toward his hero’s welcome.
It’s garbage. A forgery. Mine. For so long it was everyone’s hope, inspiration. A lonely burrito wrapper on a planet that’s cold but not too cold, with air that’s barely breathable but close enough. Why wouldn’t there have been another animal like us in a nearby galaxy that got so far as aluminum foil? Travel time only too reasonable. Our planet too far past inhabitable.
The first convoy has just been sent. Within months mass colonization will be done. We will be the first to discard burrito wrappers though I don’t have the heart to let on.
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