Friday Night Write #15 : Closer Than This

I never intended to let her get so close. To let her past all my defenses. Past the image I let everyone see. But I had. I looked at her. Asleep. On the sofa. Wearing nothing but this lacy black lingerie. My pillow stuck under her head. My blanket keeping her warm.

I was both terrified and thrilled. I wanted her to stay, and I wanted to never see her again. So, I just stood there and stared at her, watching her sleep. Wishing I could remember that moment all my life.

I didn’t understand at all how she wound up on my sofa all night. She’d called me, and asked to come over. She’d done that for years. I never knew when she’d call. But I always made time for her. So, I’d told her it was OK. We’d gone to eat dinner. If you can call Subway sandwiches dinner. Then, we’d walked all over the local Wal-Mart store. All 130,000 square feet of it.

I have to admit, it was not easy to stand there while she looked at women’s lingerie. Didn’t help me any when she held up that black lace one in front of herself. “Oh, this is pretty,” she’d said. And then she’d asked me, “What do you think? Do you like this one?”
I’d frozen solid. Couldn’t blink my eyes. Couldn’t twitch my fingers. Couldn’t talk. She’d laughed, and kept it.

We’d gone to the electronics department. And she’d found a movie she wanted to watch. “I’ve never see it. I missed it when it was in theaters.” She showed it to me. Some silly love story, chick-flick movie. The kind you only watch when a girl drags you to it, and makes you. She kept that too.

When we finished shopping, we returned to my place. She put that movie on. “Watch it with me.” How could I refuse? We sat down on the sofa and before I knew what was going on, she had pulled my arm over her shoulders, and then snuggled in against me.
I don’t remember the movie. I know we watched it all. But I have no idea what happened it in.

Sometime during the movie, she got up, went to the bathroom, and changed into that black lace. She came back, put her feet up on the sofa, and stretched out, putting her head in my lap. She’d pulled my arm around her. Right under her breasts.

When the movie ended, I realized she was asleep, and I didn’t want to wake her up. So, I let her sleep. With her head in my lap. After a while, she woke up. “Can I just stay here tonight?”

She could have asked me anything. I’d have said yes.

So, there she was. On my sofa. Under my blanket. Her head on my pillow. And me, standing there, watching her, wondering how she got so close to me. And if she knew how close she was.

Tuesday Tales #59 Anathema (Unedited Version)

Helen walked outside to watch the sun come up from the cabin in the mountains she’d rented. She’d always wanted to watch the sun come up. She’s always had a secret desire to walk around outside in her negligée too. So, she decided to do both things on that morning.

She found a good place to sit. It even had a post along the back, so she could lean back. She felt better than she ever had. Happier than she’d ever been. Her new life was going well.

She remembered her old life. When she was Father Henry. How miserable she’d been. Being trapped in the wrong body for 30 years. She remembered all the prayers to God she’d made. “Help me make the right decision, Father.”

Of course, when the church learned of her surgery, they’d labeled her an anathema, and excommunicated her. But that was the risk she’d been willing to take. She’d had to take. Now, she was a successful business woman. A published writer. And taking the vacation she’d always wanted.

All because she’d had the courage to do what her heart told her to do.

The picture and prompt word from the 59th Tuesday Tales inspired this work of fiction. This is the original, unedited, 201 word piece that I stripped down to 100 words for the challenge. Go read all the entries in the 59th Tuesday Tales. And thanks Stevie McCoy, for hosting the challenge each week.

Memories : Sangai

Sangai and Kaosu were adopted brothers.
We got them on the same day
From the SPCA.
They even got neutered
On the same day.
At the same Vets office.
They grew from kittens
Into cats.
With each other.
And with us.

Sangai was almost orange.
With really soft hair.
And he was a whopper
Of a cat
At 14 pounds.
But he was skinny
As a rail.
A flyweight for his size.

And the funniest thing of all
Was to hear him talk.
The boy was a soprano.
With the highest pitched meow
I’ve ever hear.

Sangai and Kaosu
Slept with us.
Almost every night.
She complained always
About the little slice of bed
She wound up with,
Between me
And the boys.

But she never seemed to mind.

Life was good.
Like it was supposed to be.
Until one day…

… Sangai stopped eating.

We tried to feed him
All his favorite foods.
Even tuna
From a can.

He wouldn’t eat a thing.

She took our sick kitty
To the Vets office
Where we always go.
And they tried
Everything they knew.

Special food.
Medicine.
Fluids injected over night.
All kinds of things
Were tried.

To no avail.

Sangai wouldn’t eat.

They told us to take him
To a veterinary hospital.
They recommended one.
And that’s just what we did.
They recommended surgery.
There was a chance
It wouldn’t work.
But also a chance
It would.

He was one of the family.
And neither of us cared
At all
How much it cost.
We had to try
To help our boy.

He went through surgery.
And a few days later
He came home.
For the weekend.
He spent that Friday night,
Saturday,
And Sunday with us.

On that Monday,
I called in to work.
And took our boy
Back to the hospital.

They took him in.
To check him out.
And I went home.
To wait.

Before I got home,
She called me.
Back to the hospital.
It was time.

The surgery had failed.
They could keep Sangai alive
For a while.
On a respirator.
But that wouldn’t have been right.

When I got
To the hospital.
She and I stood there.
We said good-bye to Sangai.
And we watched
As he fell asleep
One last time.

They tell me
He was just a pet.
Just a cat.
That’s all.

Sometimes people are just stupid.
Or so it seems to me.
Ruthless.
And cold-hearted.
And not at all
The way they ought to be.

He was our Sangai.
Our friend.
And our companion.
And suddenly.
He was just gone.

But I know something
Other people never seem to learn.
Because of how they are.
With their approach of
Kill the pain.
And forget everything.

I remember Sangai.
Watching him climb
On the stair rails in the house.
Rescuing him from the top
Of the ladder more than once.
Where he’d climbed up.
And then gotten stuck.

He use to love
Sliced turkey meat
From the Wal-Mart deli.

And the thing I know.
He’s still there.
In my heart.
In my soul.
And every time
I remember
Watching him.

I just can’t help but smile.

‘Cause my memories
Of our Sangai cat
Are a part of me.

And that’s how
Things are meant
To be.

Fairies : Scream Waits

Scream was silent. He glided down from the sky, to the trees. Landing silently. Gracefully. He was much smaller than he’d once been. And far more deadly. With more speed than he’d ever had in his younger days. With a dragon fire that was hotter, and more accurate than it had ever been. He was a full-grown dragon. Second only to Merlin in all of dragon-kind.

Fiver other dragons were with him. Each dragon landed in the trees surrounding the village. A village of humans. Innocent humans. Humans that lead simple, honest lives. Caring for their neighbors. Helping each other when help was needed. Caring for their sick. Raising their young. Teaching them all they knew about the world.

They didn’t know. The people of the village didn’t know about the machines of the world called Cylinders. Didn’t know the machines protected them. Kept them safe. Didn’t know the machines had been on Cylinders for more than 25,000 years. Didn’t know the machines had created the fairies, the elves, the dragons. Didn’t know about the quantum mechanics the machines used to perform magic tasks. No. The humans only knew that there was magic in their world.

Scream’s heart ached. For he knew the humans would learn. Soon enough. They would learn everything. When the invaders arrived. And the war touched their lives. That’s why Scream was there. Outside that village. To fight the invaders.

Merlin had let everyone know when the invaders had arrived. Landing in their space ships. Bringing their weapons with them. Intent on extending their empire to another world. In the belief they were bringing order to the chaos of the galaxy.

The machines of Cylinders could have simply wiped the invaders out. Erased them from existence. But they didn’t work that way. Instead, they left fighting the invaders to the people of Cylinders. The dragons. The fairies. The elves.

Scream and his dragon friends took up their positions. And waited. The invaders would arrive. In the dark of the night. In the hours before the dawn. When the people of the village were asleep. That’s when Scream and his brothers would engage them. And destroy every one of them. They would protect the village. They would protect their world. The invaders would soon learn that Cylinders was not what it seemed.

And the people of the village would be safe. But forever changed. And that caused Scream’s heart to ache. Scream found fire burning in his soul. Ignited by the knowledge that the village would be forever changed. The world would be forever changed. It’s innocence lost.

For that, Scream would fight the invaders to his dying breath.

A Little Faith

It has occurred to me.
If I am afraid to try.
If I am afraid of life.
Why am I still here?
Why am I slowly reaching for
New things?
Why am I slowly bringing
Dreams to life?

I’ve got a job.
Had it for a year now.
I know
It’s not the best job.
But it’s a good first step
Into a life
I never had.
A life
I denied myself.

A lot of people act
As if the job I have
Is all wrong for me.
That I should have a job
Like the one
I used to have.
Before all this started.
Two years ago.

They don’t know.
They don’t understand.
They see the world
Differently from me.

I didn’t get this job
By sheer dumb luck.
I picked it.
I waited.
And when it was time.
I applied for it.
I chose it.

Because it gives me
What I need
In my life right now.

Time.
Time to heal the wounds
In my heart and soul.
Time to change my course
Through life.
Time to write.
Time to dream.
Time to learn new things.

There’s nothing wrong at all
With the job I have right now.
Nothing at all.

I want to write, you know.
I always have.
It’s always been a dream
Of mine.
One that I gave up,
‘Cause everybody knows,
You can’t make a living
Writing stories.

I had to grow up.
Get a real job.
Be an adult.
Not a dreamer.

So here I am.
With the job I know
Most people don’t approve of.
I can almost hear them say,
“It’s sad.
So sad.
What happened to him.
The fall he’s made.
The broken person
He’s become.
He’ll never be the same.”

Just another victim
Of the ways of life.
We’ll leave him behind.
He fell by the wayside.
But the rest of us
Are OK.

Yeah.
I hear those voices.
Hear those thoughts.
And I know them
To be false.

For the truth is something more.
I changed.

I’m not the person
I once was.
I’m me.
The way I’m meant to be.

And with time.
And patience,
I’ll learn
The things I need to learn.
To breathe life
Into the dreams I have.

Step by step.
Day by day.
I’ll find a way
To use the skills I have
To help those around me.

And one day at a time,
I’ll find a way
To write.

I can’t help but feel
I’m on my way.

I just need
To have a little faith
In me.

It’s Time For Me To Change

I walked tonight.
I really needed to.
Then,
I wrote.
I wrote nothing.
Every word,
Wasted.
Useless.

In the end,
I looked at my reflection
On the screen.
The image of myself.
And I heard a voice.
Speaking.
Asking me something.

I didn’t know what.
I couldn’t hear.

I looked at my work life.
And wound up looking
Once again.
Through the job listing
At Career Builder.

What I look for
Has become more open
Than it’s ever been.
Heck,
I even looked
At entry-level
Security jobs.
Walk the halls.
Guard the front door.
Log everything in books.

I felt a lot of things.
And for the first time
I tried to identify,
And understand,
What I felt.

Apathy.
I felt as if I didn’t care.
I’d never really paid attention
To that before.
That feeling
That I didn’t care
If I ever have a full-time job
Again.

But there was more.
Apathy couldn’t explain it all.
So I looked deeper
Into my heart and soul.
And noticed.

Pain.

That says so much
Doesn’t it.
That single word.
But it’s so true.
That’s what I remember.
That’s what I associate
With work.
With a full-time job.
With being
Just like everyone.

Pain.

I wish I could explain.
But I lack the words.
How do you explain
What it feels like
To have your heart
Ripped apart?
To have your soul
Burned at the stake?
To realize
That everyone you know
Betrayed your trust
In them?

How do you explain
That kind of pain?

But I wasn’t done
Looking yet.
I knew
There was more.
More I hadn’t seen
Before.

So,
I closed my eyes.
And I breathed in.
And out.
I breathed in my pain.
And when I exhaled
I filled my breath
With concern.
And caring.
For myself.

For I knew.
I knew.
It was long past time
I cared for me.
Long past time
To heal my wounds.

And admitting that
Let me move past the pain.
To the next layer.
The next feeling
That I had.

Fear.

Complete and total
Fear.
Terror of the kind
I’ve never once admitted,
Never once faced
In all my days.

The fear I could be hurt
The same way
Once again.
And worse.
I was afraid
To even try.
To even risk
More pain.

By now,
Someone else
Might have gone on.
Might have rebuilt.
Might have returned
To a job
Like they’d had before.

By now,
Someone else
Might have moved on.
Found another life.
Another career.
Doing something
Different and new.

By now,
Someone else
Might have done so many things
That I haven’t done.
That I haven’t tried.

And as I sit here
On this night.
I know.
It’s time.
Time for me
To look into the face
Of the fear I have.
And say the words
I’ve learned.

I know I’m hurt.
And I’m afraid.
And I don’t want
To hurt that way
Again.

I know that.

And I’ll take care
Of my fear.
Of the wounded
Frightened
Child
I am inside.

I also know
I can’t let my fear
Stand in my way
Anymore.

I remember all the times
I asked others,
People that I know.
People I have never met.
“What are you afraid of?”

I remember all the times
I shared the thought
Of reaching for a dream.
Of setting fear aside.
And trying to bring their dreams
To life.

But I’ve never
Said those words
To me.

And it’s time I did.

I’ll take care of you,
My fears.
I’ll show you
There’s no reason
For me to be
Afraid.

There are some dreams I have.
Dreams I’ve always had.
It’s time.
Time I stepped beyond
Being afraid.

And finally tried
To bring those dreams
To life.

It’s time for me
To change.

No One There But Me

I’m afraid of being alone.
With myself and no one else.
When there’s no one to talk with.
Except for me.

But I’m learning.

I’ll have completed
The next step of my journey
When I can spend time
Alone.
With no one but me.
And being alone
Doesn’t hurt me
Any more.

When I’ve learned
How to appreciate me.
The things I like.
The things I feel.
I know right now
I don’t.
At least not all that much.

I have a lot of fears
Of being alone.
If having to face me.
Having to deal with me.
Openly and honestly.

I have a lot of things
I have to change.
Things I have to relearn.
Rules I have to break.
And when those rules are broken,
I have to sweep away
Their remains.
Not let them be rebuilt.

There are so many things
I’ve got go change.
But they all come down
To the same thing.

I have to learn
Not to hate myself.
Not to be afraid of me.

That I’m not defined
By how many people I know.
By how many friends I have.
By how well I get paid.
By how big my house is.
By how nice my car is.

None of those things matter,
In the end.
When you get down to it
What matters most of all
Is learning
To live with myself.

And that’s what I’m working on
Right now.
In this journey
That began
Two years ago.

I’ve come so very far
In only 24 months.
How far, you might ask.

Far enough to know
And understand
I have to learn
To live
With me.

So that on afternoons like this.
When I’m at home.
Alone.
With only me.

I won’t hide from myself.
I won’t find endless things
To kill off time with.
So that I won’t feel
Like everything’s wrong.

So that I’ll be content
To be alone.

With no one there
But me.

The Burial Of The Soda Cans

“I will never forget the sacrifice they made, nor let it be in vain.” I held up the bag of empty soda cans. “They sacrificed their contents so that I would not throw things at other people.” I dumped the contents of the bag into the recycling container. “They surrendered all they were to help me cope with homework, housework, laundry, dishes, and yard work.” The cans made a lot of rather loud pinging, and clanking, and tinking sounds as they bounced around, entering the recycling container. “If not for them, I would not be the person I am today,” I announced as I closed the lid to the container. Then I took a single step backward, and held my hands before my face, as if I held up a trumpet. And I quietly voiced the tune of taps. “May they rest in peace,” I spoke, when my musical salute reached its end. I saluted the recycling container, then turned, and went back inside the house.

My mother, bless her soul, watched my burial of the cans. She was standing in the kitchen, laughing as hard as I could remember her laughing. It was good to hear her laugh. Since Dad’s deployment had started, I don’t think she’d laughed at all. So, doing something silly that brought laughter to my Mom. Well, that made the burial of the cans thing worthwhile.

I captured these words in response to the 45th Motivation Monday prompt. I was the judge this week. So I couldn’t really enter. But I had fun writing this little off the wall tale. Wakefield Mahon hosts Motivation Monday each week. Please go read all the short pieces of fiction people created for this week’s prompt. The are all worth reading. I enjoyed each story.

Have You Ever Seen The Rain

I remember that day. Just another beautiful day, with me walking through the roses. I still do that, you know. Walk through that rose garden. Always did love roses. Never could grow ‘em though. Always managed to murder ‘em, for lack of a better way of describing it.

That day was different. On that day, I began to realize, began to understand, how hurt I was. How wounded. You gotta understand. If you’re wounded bad enough. Hurt bad enough. You do things you wouldn’t normally do. Like turn on your friends. Turn on the people that want you to get better.

Yeah. I was hurt that bad. And I’d hurt her ‘cause of it. I’d never meant to hurt her. No. Really. It was a stupid thing to do. And I’ll never forget it. Ever.

See. I’d been banned from the workplace. Couldn’t go to work. Had to sit at home, and wait to find out what would happen next. And I kept seeing these pictures in my head. Where she was talking with them. You know. Them. The people you don’t trust. In this case, one of the program managers. Didn’t help any that during the previous week, they re-arranged the office. Put me in the desk furthest from anyone. So they could watch me.

Paranoid. I know. But, you know. I was that hurt. Been in that job too long. Didn’t leave when I shoulda. Stayed there, ‘cause I thought people depended on me. Thought they needed me. Thought I was helping them keep their jobs. Yeah. I was fuckin’ screwed up. To the point where I thought everything that happened was done to try to get rid of me. Hell, I still think that. Probably always will.

But that morning, I’d written a note to her. And asked her point blank if she was one of them. If she agreed that I should have been banned from the workplace.

Talk about an idiot. Yep. That was me. Died in the wool idiot. Standing there in the roses that day. Catching my first glimpse of how injured I’d become. And how responsible I was for that. How badly I’d hurt myself. I’d told my doc already, “It’s nobody’s fault.” Which was a frakkin’ lie. It was my fault. It was always my fault. Everything that ever went wrong had always been my fault.

She’d written back. “How can you say that to me?”

Yep. Time to take a big damn sword and cut my heart out. That’s what it was. And there I was. Walking in the roses. Wishing I could do just that. Knowing I deserved it. Me. Looking at the roses on a beautiful day. Clear sky. Sun. Warm. And me standing there. Cryin’. Like frakin’ rain was fallin’ from my eyes.

Sometimes, God. I’m such an idiot.

I never meant to hurt her…

 

This piece was written for the 13th Friday Night Write, over on Sweet Banana Ink. There are always great little pieces of fiction there. Wonderful tales that have been shared. Please, go read them.

 

Perhaps It’s Time

I stared into the mirror.
For a long time.
Trying to find something.
Anything.
Positive to say.
Positive to think.

All I could see
Was a trail of destruction.
A trail of fire.
A trail of anger.
Rage.
And pain.

It’s no one’s fault.
I know that.
What happened.
It’s no one’s fault.
Trying to blame someone
Would be like trying
To hold someone responsible
For the rain.

It rains where it rains.
It rains when it rains.
No one is to blame.

I used to think I’d grown.
Think I’d changed.
Believed I’d gotten through
The worst of things.
That I understood
The world I never made.
And could cope with it.
Live in it.
Let it be
The way it is.

Heartless.
Ruthless.
Cold.
Savage.
And so very gray
To me.

I stared into the mirror
For a while.
Oh the things I said
Inside my head.
To myself.

I’ve tried.
God, how I’ve tried.
I try every day.
To keep that last bridge
Between the life I had.
And the life that’s growing now.

With what happened today.
I’m not sure I can.
Not sure it’s worth
The pain.
The effort.
The stress.

It takes so very much
To not be angry.
When everyone you knew
Abandoned you.
Just because
You changed.

And it’s not really like I changed.
Not really that at all.
The truth is far more simple.
Far more plain.

I woke up.
I opened my eyes.
Like Neo
In the Matrix.
I unplugged.

I live in a world these days
That is filled with color.
With people that are so
Very much alive.
People that embrace
Change.
And let me be
Who I am.
Let me believe
What I believe.
That don’t expect me
To be just like them.

Except for that bridge.

I don’t want to burn that sucker down.
I don’t.
There are people on the other side
I really do like.
That honestly
Just don’t understand
Me.
And why I’ve become
So very critical
About the way things are.

I let them be their way.
I try.
Oh, how I try.
To not say anything.
To let them do
What they believe.
Live how they believe.
Be how they believe.

I’ve asked God now
For better than one year
To not give up on them.
To find a way
Somehow.
To wake them up.
Like He did me.

But I know
They won’t.
They won’t ever see.
Won’t ever know.
Won’t ever change.

They don’t see any reason to.
They don’t see any need.
To them
Everything’s the way
It’s supposed to be.
Or just so damn close
That it’s close enough.
That they’re OK
With the way things are.

I know so very many
New people now.
The kind of people
That the folks
On the other side
Of the bridge
Wouldn’t understand.
Wouldn’t accept.
Would ask me what I see
In them.

They’d call my new friends
Evil.
Call them wrong.
Call them sinners.
Heathen.
The Devil’s spawn.

I stared into the mirror
For a while today.
Oh, the things I had to say
To me.
They would hurt you
If you heard them.
I know this.

And in the end
I have to ask
If it’s time.
Time to take
Another step.
And burn that one last bridge
To the ground.

Can I leave that bridge standing
And ever truly be free
From the self-hatred,
Self-abuse,
And self-denial
That once owned me.
In that world
I never made.

I wish I knew the answer.
I wish I knew.

Now, I have to think a while
And figure out.
What I will do.
What’s best for me.
So that I can take
The next step forward
In this new life
I’ve been given.

Perhaps the best thing
I could do
Is nothing.
Is just watch.
And wait.
And see.
What the people
On the far side
Of that bridge do.

Maybe I won’t have to do a thing.
Maybe they’ll burn down that bridge.
To keep their world
Safe from my new friends.
Safe from me.