Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2020_04_01 (Week 148)

My mother was too old to be in the forest behind her house, but she’d insisted. “There’s something you need to see.” I’d tried to talk her into staying in the house, to tell me where to look, or to let me put her in her wheelchair, and push her where she wanted to go. She was stubborn, and wouldn’t hear of that. “I promised I’d show you.”

It had been slow going. She’d had to stop several times to rest, and catch her breath. But, always, she was stubborn, and answered any concerns I had for her with, “I promised I’d show you.”

Eventually, we came to a small clearing, beneath a canopy of leaves. “Here we are.” Mother smiled, and patted me on the shoulder, “Here we are.”

It wasn’t anywhere special. I thought it looked like a half dozen small clearings under the trees we’d already seen. Until Mother pointed at something. “There.” It was a park bench. And old, wooden one, covered in mosses, and partially rotten. “There.”

She wobbled over to it, and sat down. “This is where I promised I’d show you.”

“This?”

“And before you say anything, a picture wouldn’t work, because I promised him I’d show you.”

“Who did you promise, and show me what?”

“Your father. I promised him.”

She hadn’t spoken of him since he’d passed nearly a decade ago. If anything, she’d carried on like she’d never been married, and never had anyone to miss. “Life goes on.” That’s what she told me.

“Dad?”

“Yes.” She leaned back against the wood. I worried it might collapse under her weight. “Don’t worry. He built this well. It’ll be here another hundred years.”

“Dad wanted you to show me something? Something here?”

“No. He didn’t want me to show you something. He wanted me to show you this place.”

“I don’t understand.”

“That’s what he said. ‘Mary, he’ll tell you he doesn’t understand. You’ll have to explain it. And show it to him. So.” She patted the space on the bench next to her. “Have a seat.”

What else could I do? I frowned, and sat down. Mother chuckled, “That’s just like you. No time for anything. Not even time to breathe.” She took a deep breath, “Humor an old woman, and sit still for a bit, while I talk.”

She sang instead. Amazing Grace. I hadn’t heard that song in years, but I knew the words. She’d always sang it, every Sunday.

Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see

Mother stopped there. “Just sit, and listen to this old woman.”

She didn’t say a word. I waited for her to talk, but she didn’t. Just before I asked her if she was going to say anything, she cut me off, “I said listen.”

It took a while, but eventually I began to notice sounds. Leaves on trees rustling when the wind blew through them. A couple of birds singing, somewhere. Mother smiled at me. “Just listen.”

I waited, and watched Mother, and listened. I watched as she fell asleep on that bench. I listened to her breathe, to know she was still alive. I listened to my own breath. I’d forgotten what it sounded like. I listened to the trees. To the forest.

I didn’t notice when she woke. I was watching the sunlight patterns on the ground, where the sun peeked through the canopy. It changed all the time, every time the wind blew, and the leaves shifted. I noticed the sound of the wind always happened before the pattern changed. Then, I realized I was listening for the wind, just to see the pattern change.

“I promised him I’d show you.” Mother smiled. “Promised him I’d remind you of all that really mattered.”

I helped her to her feet, and we started home. “He’ll be happy now. Now, when I see him, I can tell him your heart is still alive. That there’s still hope you might learn how to live.”

I didn’t say a word on the walk back, but Mother knew. Somehow, she knew. My father had been right. I’d forgotten what it meant to be alive.

710 words
@mysoulstears


Written in response to the prompt for week 148 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. Please go read them all.

 

Inside My Eyelids (13)

Of course, I never knew her, she was part of a dream. But I remember her name, and always will. I remember she stood on a tiny bit of what was left of the world, with her violin, and she played for me, as I stood on another tiny bit of what was left.

One by one, we’d watched people vanish. Everyone we knew, loved, befriended, grew up with, hated, wished would die, wished would live longer than we did. Everyone. We watched them vanish. One by one, into the cold, as their tiny parts of the world crumbled into dust which the wind blew away. One by one, the wind grabbed them, and took them beyond the edge of everything, and they were gone.

“I feel like I should know who you are.”

“Nava.” She didn’t ask who I was. She smiled, and held up her violin. “Now, old man. Before we too vanish, I would play one last song.”

It was a song I’d never heard. A song that needed no words, only the sounds of her violin, the beating of her heart, and everything either of us had ever felt.

As she played, one by one, the little bits of land, floating around her, slowly turned to dust, and they too were gone. Her music said good-bye to each of them. To each person she had ever known. To each heart that had never turned to stone.

Then, she played for me. Her music said, “I never got to meet you in this life, except to say good-bye. I wish we’d had more time to spend. I’d love to play you many songs.” As she played, the wind picked up, it blew her hair, and dress, and I knew what was to come. I know she knew too.

At first, it was only the edges of her little bit of land. A bit of dust, every now and then. Then, the bottom began to crumble, and I watched, and wondered, if she saw the tears I know I cried. Too soon, all that was left was a tiny place for her to stand. But, still, Nava played that one last song for me. As the last bit of ground beneath her feet began to crumble, and the wind took it away, bit by bit. She played on, until the last of that ground was gone.

And then, the wind carried her away.

To this day, I wonder what it meant, that dream of the end of everything. Where the world fell apart, and crumbled, as it turned into dust, and everyone was gone. To this day I wonder what it meant that Nava stood there, on that last bit of land, and played one last song for me, and me alone, before she was gone. To this day, I wonder why I was the last one left, and how long I was there, on that bit of land and rock that was all that was left of everything I’d ever known.

And to this day, when I look in the mirror, at my eyes looking back at me, I wonder if that dream, and all the others I have had, where I’m the last one left of everything, and every one I’ve ever known, is life’s way of telling me I’ll have to say good-bye to everyone, one soul at a time, until I’m the last person on this world I’ll have ever known.

577 words
@mysoulstears


Written in response to the prompt for week 147 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. Please go read them all.

Inside My Eyelids (12)

It was one of those nights I didn’t want to sleep. “If I sleep, I know the dreams will be there.” In the process of avoiding sleep, I wound up in front of the bathroom mirror, staring at the me I saw there, hearing the words of an old song.

“A mirror, is a negative space with a frame,
And a place for your face
It reveals, what the rest of us see
It conceals, what you’d like it to be” (1)

When I closed my eyes, and shook my head to clear my thoughts, I heard the words an old friend, one who was lost to time, and to my past, had said to me. “Most people know. They know. And they will do anything to not have to think about it, to make it not real. Because, if it’s real.” They never finished the thought, instead, leaving me hanging, with no understanding of why people were how they were.

But those words echoed in my head that night. “Most people know.” And it combined with the words of that song. “I conceals, what you’d like it to be.”

I opened my eyes, and looked at the me in that mirror again, “Why?”

It was always the same question. My entire life was the same question. “Why?” As if the only thing that mattered, the only thing there was, was the question, and the search for an answer.

When I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror, at my eyes looking back at me, I wandered down the stairs to the kitchen. I didn’t turn on a light, but walked in the dark. I needed it to be dark. In the dark, the details went away. In the dark, no one could see me. In the dark, I knew I was free from the games of life. The pretenses that others made me, expected me, demanded me to wear.

In the dark, my facade faded, and I could be me.

And let my soul cry.

People had always told me, when you sit alone, in the dark, late at night, on the floor of the kitchen, something’s wrong with you, and you need to get help. Yet, there I was. On the floor, in the dark, trying not to think, not to feel, and maybe to not even breathe.

Until the ache in my soul faded just enough I could feel the fatigue in my body. It was time to face the dreams painted inside my eyelids for another night. To find some rest, however brief, to prepare for another day in a world where most people knew, but were too terrified of the truth of life, they forgot about it, or denied it was there.

My dreams did not disappoint me.

Mirrors appeared, hanging in air, nothing to hold them up, reflecting everything they faced. Reflecting the world, and the people I knew, the society I lived in. Rain and storms in one. Sunshine, blue skies, and wispy white clouds in another.

And that damn song echoed in my mind once more.

“A mirror, is a negative space with a frame,
And a place for your face
It reveals, what the rest of us see
It conceals, what you’d like it to be” (1)

That morning, I looked into the eyes in the mirror that looked back at me, and I knew. I finally knew. Everything in the mirror is two dimensional. It has no depth. There is only what you see. And I knew, suddenly, why, “Most people know. They know. And they will do anything to not have to think about it, to make it not real. Because, if it’s real…”

615 words
@mysoulstears


1 The song is “Mirrors” by Blue Oyster Cult.
Songwriters: Abbott / Roeser
Mirrors lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

I wrote this for week 146 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. Please go read them all.

Inside My Eyelids (11)

Each step I took, I heard the sound of my shoes striking the ground echo down the length of the stone hallway. It was a dark, damp hallway, and as I walked it, I could feel the weight of the stone above me. Solid, heavy rock, that threatened to crush the tiny hallway I was in, and thus crush me.

The hallways walls emitted a soft, faint light, just strong enough to see the world inside it in black and white, with no detail. Only the endless echo of my shoes on the cold stone floor as I walked along.

There was no way to know how long I’d been in that hallway, no way to measure its length, no way to reach its end, or its beginning. It remained the same, in both directions, endlessly. To walk it seemed pointless, and yet, something inside me, some feeling in my bones, told me to walk, and that if I walked long enough, I would find something.

Walk I did. I couldn’t remember when I started walking. I couldn’t remember how I got in that hallway. Had I always been there? Had I found my way to the place, and then gotten lost in its endless stone?

One step after another, I walked. I tried counting steps, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Eventually, I lost count. I started again, counting by blocks of ten steps, and grouping those into groups of ten, and those into groups of ten. I lost count again, after countless thousands.

“Perhaps this is a circle. A large circle, that barely turns to one side. Just enough that eventually, it comes back on itself. And I’m walking in a circle. Endlessly. Without knowing it.” My mind tried to explain the hallway. “It’s a circle, and I’m trapped to walk the same path, endlessly.”

When I found a light hanging on the left wall, I decided it wasn’t a circle. I’d never seen that light before. Another hundred steps, and I found another light. A third one at 50 steps. Then one at 25 steps. Then, three lights. Between the first two, hung on the wall, was an old, wooden shield. Painted blue, with white and black circles. In places the paint had worn away and revealed the wood beneath. The blade of a large knife hung by a chain on one side of the shield. Another weapon hung by a chain from the other side. I wasn’t familiar with it, having never seen anything like it.

Between the second and third lights was a door. One look told me it was ancient. A sign of the door read, “It is the demons who take life.”

Maybe, after walking that hallway for however long I had, I’d lost my mind, lost my ability to reason, or to understand written words. Because I opened that door, and stepped through it.

Into a room filled with weapons. Swords, knives, whips, bows and arrows, spears, pikes, axes. Every weapon I’d ever heard of, and what seemed like an endless array of weapons I’d never imagined existed. I couldn’t see the back of the room. It was like the hallway, unending.

Beside each weapon there was that same sign. “It is the demons who take life.”

I heard her voice, her words to me, from years ago, “The Devil and his minions can’t create life.”

Then my own words, “Neither can humans.”

Then, the thoughts of my mind, “But both can certainly take what they are given, and modify it, change it, adapt it, for their own purposes.”

That sign was beside every weapon in that endless room, “It is the demons who take life.”

And I opened my eyes, as I realized it was daylight, and time for me to get ready for another day at work. But, since that dream of that endless hallway, and that endless room filled with creations used to end life, I have never escaped the words of that sign, “It is the demons who take life.”

644 words
@mysoulstears


I wrote this for week 145 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. Please go read them all.

Inside My Eyelids (10)

It had been a rough night, filled with tossing, and turning, and destroying the covers on the bed. Finally, I gave up, got up, made my pit stop, got some clothes on, and made my bed.

Then I went to brush my teeth, only to forget to brush them, and instead spend my time staring into the mirror, and wishing I could see anything but her. She was there, in the mirror, looking at me, just like she had in that dream, endlessly, all night. Asking that one question, over and over, “Why?”

“Why are you haunting me?” I put a hand on the mirror, right where her cheek would have been. “What’s wrong?”

I knew damn well what was wrong. I knew she was trapped in her home, not able to get out, and visit her friends. Not able to work. Not able to go to the library, which had been her favorite place. Not able to do anything she’d always done.

“You’re someone I have only seen one time. Why are you always in my dreams?” Because I wanted to be able to visit her. Spend time watching movies, or listening to music. Spend time eating chocolates, and drinking soda. Spend time. With her. And be her friend.

That’s why she was in my dreams. That’s why she asked why, endlessly.

I looked to God in heaven, and asked again, like I have countless times before, “Why can’t I help?”

242 Words
@mysoulstears


It’s Week 401 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. And more words in whatever it is that’s writing itself have turned up. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who show up every week.

Inside My Eyelids (9)

It’s the dreams that happen after I have to wake up in the middle of the night, for whatever reason, and then go back to sleep, that are the the most colorful. And the most difficult for me to cope with.

Last night, I woke at three-thirty in the morning. I’m old. I wake up every morning to go pee. Last night was no exception. After my nightly trip, I pulled the covers back up, and waited for the heat to build back up, which always sends me back to sleep.

Back to the land of dreams.

I remember walking. The same streets I’d always walked, all through my neighborhood. A long walk this time, one that took over two hours. As I walked, I wondered, “Where are all the houses? Where are all the cars? The trees. The buildings. The signs. Everything was gone. Everything. There was nothing to either side of me, nothing ahead of me, nothing behind me. There were no clouds, not birds, no planes, not bugs, the sky was empty.

It had rained earlier, though, I could tell because of the puddles on the street, and the sidewalk. Puddles that worked like mirrors, and reflected the images of everything around them. Those puddles were more confusing than everything being missing, because they were filled with images of everything that had been there. Everything I always saw when I walked was still in those puddles.

But none of it was left anywhere.

I walked from puddle to puddle, examining each one, trying to figure out what I was seeing in each puddle. The one in front of where my home had been still had reflections of my crepe myrtle trees in it. I watched the image of the bottom of my car in the puddle as my invisible car drove across it. The water didn’t move, there were no splashes. It was like my care wasn’t there. Like I was watching a movie screen.

There was a puddle a few blocks from home, where I could still see the buildings that used to be beside the road, even though there was no sign anything had ever been beside the road. In that one, I watched a passenger jet fly through the puddle, while no jet was anywhere to be seen.

Except in the puddle.

Most interesting was how, as I walked, I saw myself in the reflections of the puddles. As if the puddles were saying to me, “We only reflect what’s actually there.” And yet, there was nothing there to reflect.

I decided to try finding one of the street signs I saw in a puddle. A stop sign, at the corner of a road. It was crystal clear in the puddle. I kept my eyes on the puddle, as I moved my reflection closer to the signs reflection. Until I could reach out, and place my reflections hand on the sign. Except, there was no sign. There was nothing.

I wound up back at the puddle before where my house had been. I walked back and forth, left and right, even in circles. Nothing. My house wasn’t there. There was no sign it had ever existed.

There was a song, long ago, where the singer sang,

“Let me take you down
‘Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about”*

As I woke from my dream, I heard that song playing over and over again in my head, with some strange voice asking me, “What is real, and what is a dream, and how do you know?”

599 words
@mysoulstears


* The song is Strawberry Fields, by the Beatles.

Songwriters: J. Lennon / P. Mccartney
“Strawberry Fields Forever” lyrics © Sony/atv Tunes Llc, Sony, Sony Atv Tunes Llc, Sony Atv Music Publishing France, Sony/atv Tunes Llc Dba Atv Obo Atv (northern Songs Catalog), Wixen Music Publishing Inc Obo Harrisongs Ltd

I wrote this for week 144 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. Please go read them all.

 

#LoveBites2020 : Trapped In An Elevator

It was Two in the morning, on February 14th. Valentine’s day. We’d been stuck in the elevator for almost an hour. An hour earlier, the floor had bounced, and we heard two loud pings, and the elevator came to a dead stop.

I’d used my cell phone to call building maintenance, but no one answered, and my call went to voicemail. She’d used her phone to post her status on Facebook, and Twitter, and to send messages to her friends. No one answered. No one texted back.

We were stuck. “I figure we’re stuck here until the maintenance crew gets here at five or so.” That didn’t make her happy, and I’m sure her being stuck in an elevator with someone who was probably older than her parents, wasn’t something she wanted.

At the one hour mark, I decided to sit down in the back corner of the tiny room we were trapped in, and see if I could take a nap.

She watched me like I was some kind of predator, waiting for her to pass out, after which there was no telling what I’d do.

“Well, since we’re stuck here,” I pulled out my phone, and put up a picture of my daughter. “This is my daughter. She’s 31, and married. Expecting a baby in a few months.”

The girl looked at my phone. I let her hold it. “She’s older than me.”

“Yeah. I thought she was.” I shrugged, and leaned my head against the wall. “I’m too old for a lot of things, you know.” After a big sigh. “A lot of things are for younger people.” I almost laughed, “Getting stuck in an elevator at stupid o’clock is exhausting. I need a nap.”

She sat down in the other back corner. “I could use a nap too.”

“I have a son, too. Want to see his picture?” She nodded. I brought the picture up on my phone. She looked, and smiled, “He’s kind of cute.”

“He’s not married yet. Think he has a boyfriend. But he doesn’t talk about it.”

She handed my phone back to me. “Are you married?”

“I was. She died early. Way too young.”

“Oh. I’m sorry.”

Since we were talking anyway, I asked, “You married?”

“No. And not in a hurry.”

“Can’t blame you there.” I shook my head, “Men these days. I’m telling you.”

She actually laughed about that.

“If you want a nap,” I tugged at the shoulder of my coat, “You are welcome to put this out on the floor. I mean. I wouldn’t sleep on this floor. Holy crap.”

We talked a bit, about families, and work. About cats, and dogs. Even about how no one would ever believe we got stuck in the elevator all night. Eventually, she did take me up on my coat offer, and stretched out on my coat, on the floor. I drifted off to sleep myself.

I woke up when the elevator floor bounced again. So did she. I was surprised to see she’d put her head in my lap. “I needed a pillow.”

“Well. At least I’m good for something.”

We heard two more pings from the elevator, and it finally started to move. It was five-fifteen in the morning. We staggered to our feet. Well. I staggered. She bounced right up. “Work is gonna suck today.”

She laughed, “I know what you mean.”

“Nine for me. You?”

“Noon.”

“At least you get to take a good nap.”

“I got a good nap. You make a good pillow.”

As we got off the elevator, finally, she tapped me on the shoulder. “For what it’s worth. I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather get stuck in an elevator with.”

“You make a good person to talk with.”

“Happy Valentine’s day, old timer.” She gave me a hug.

“Happy Valentine’s day.”

640 Words
@mysoulstears


My attempt at writing a story for the #LoveBites2020 Blog Hop. Tried something different this year. Hope it’s acceptable.

Please, go read all the other entries for the Blog Hop.

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