Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/07/25

It was time for me to change. To grow. To do something else. I knew that. I’d known that for years. And fought it for years. Told myself 90 billion lies, too. “If you stop, if you go somewhere else, do something else, what happens to the people around you?” That was the obvious one. There were others. “What happens if you don’t make as much money?” With bills to pay, that one would hurt. “What happens if you fail?” That was always the fear.

But, I’d played my piano for 30 years. More, actually, if you count the time I spent learning to play. Started in 5th grade. Took lessons clean through high school. Took more lessons, and more classes at the university. I didn’t count those years in that 30.

And it was always the same thing. The same story. I wrote something, played it, everyone listened, spoke of how talented I was, told me how great I could have been, asked me why I stayed where I was. On, and on it went.

All the images were there. One big image. Of me, being a gifted, talented pianist, and composer. Able to compose tunes off the top of my head that were better than anyone expected. Able to play for hours on end.

It was exactly how it was supposed to be. I was who I was supposed to be, and how I was supposed to be. Everyone else knew who I was, and what I was, and what mattered to me. Life was running according to the perfect little plan.

Another soul would have stayed put. Too afraid to move. Too afraid to change. “I’m too old. What if I fail? What if I go broke, and have to sell everything? What if I get sick, and can’t afford the medicine I need?” Another soul would have sucked it up. And toughed it out. And been a grown up, responsible, and mature, and tried harder.

What do you do when you realize everything you are is a lie? When everything you do, everything you say, the way you behave, isn’t you, but is some character played by an actor on the stage, before an audience.

She’d asked me to write a song for her, just for her, no one else. “Make it something about the color yellow.” I’d sat down at my piano intent on doing so. Except. My fingers wouldn’t work. I don’t know why. Every time I raised my hands to the keyboard, to play the notes, my hands shook, and my fingers failed to move where they were supposed to. It felt like touching my fingertips to hot burners on a stove. Fire. Burning.

I stared at my keyboard for hours. I’d closed my eyes, and tried to picture the score in my head. I’d done that countless times. But all I saw were blank staffs. No notes. And the paper was always burning. Always.

I failed to write a note. Not a single note. The score was empty. Blank. The next day, I tried again. And failed again. And again on the third day. And the fourth.

The fifth day my eyes saw the truth. It was a moment I can’t forget. I try. I’ve tried since that day. But always, I remember everything, every detail. The keys on my keyboard, worn from decades of use, some chipped, some with the white top missing. The F sharp that never worked, no matter how hard my fingers pressed it. All it ever said was a soft, felt muffled “tock”. The stains on the top, by the music rack, left by thousands of cans of soda, spilled, or so cold they formed puddles of water from condensation. So many details. So many years. So much time.

I looked around that day. Studied the entire room. I knew it was a room, that’s where the piano was. Where it still is today. When I looked that day, there were no walls, no floor, no carpet, no bookcases along the wall, no lamp next to the piano to provide light for me to see with. Only a barren, parched field of sparse clumps of weeds, and bare dirt.

But off to one side, I could see mountains, near the horizon. They were miles away, I knew that. I knew too, they were green. Full of life. Full of flowers, birds, trees, squirrels, maybe even streams, and creeks, with fish in them.

It was a place I wanted to be. A place I knew I was meant to be.

I’d known for years I was supposed to move on. Known it was long past time for me to change. That I’d been locked in time, stagnant, unchanging, not growing. If anything, decaying. Leaving nothing but that image of who I was, and what I was.

That was the day I turned off the light next to my piano, stood up, stared at my keyboard one last time, and left the room. That was ten years ago. I have never been in that room since that day. That day when I realized how empty, how barren, my life, my world, had become. That day when I started this journey I’m on now. To reach those mountains I see, over there, miles away, near the horizon.

I’m looking for something. I know that. If I ever find that something, I’ll let you know. But, for now, and for all the days since I closed the door to that room. I have never felt happier.

922 words

This is written for Week 65 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. Miranda says I should write it out, what I feel. We’ll see. In the meantime, you can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.



#ThursThreads Week 322 : It Was Up To Them

The police checked every hotel. Ever bed and breakfast. Every campground, park, parking lot, vacant house, empty building. They held the greatest manhunt anyone in town had ever seen. They found nothing. I had to chuckle about that. After all, I was a dead man. A man who didn’t exist. Encased in an armor that diffracted the entire electromagnetic spectrum, and rendered me invisible. I couldn’t be seen, or heard. Even their camera systems were of no help.

They went door to door through the entire town. Nothing. No one had ever seen the man in the picture from the video. They found no car. No motorcycle. No taxi use. Nothing.

As they searched, the internet went insane for a third day. This time, it showed those who wished Michelle didn’t exist, so they never had to deal with that thing, Michelle, again. How so many of them smiled, and laughed, and cheered when they found her mangled body that day.

“I’m glad she’s gone.”

“I don’t have to be nice to it anymore!”

“Now, I can use the women’s room again!”

Those words were why I’d come to their town. Why I’d acted. Why I would finish what I’d started. It was up to them, to their actions, to their deeds. They’d acted with violence, hatred, and intolerance.

I’d responded in kind.

And revealed their hatred to the world. Like the saying goes. Nothing on the internet ever really goes away.

243 Words

The next part of the ongoing Armor 17 story. It’s Week 322 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who turn out weekly.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/07/08

I stared at the stack of strange objects on the raised board. “What the hell is that, Muddy?”

Muddy held his hands before himself, and made a cross with his fingers. “I don’t know. But it can’t hurt to be safe, right?” He started mumbling the safety prayer. “Dear Father, protect us from the things which can cause us harm, and keep us safe, so we can continue to do your work in this life.”

I held up my hands and made a cross too, just to be safe.

“They don’t look dangerous, do they?”

Muddy kept his fingers crossed, and pointed at the stack. “Isn’t everything dangerous if we don’t know what it is?”

I pointed at the board. “And that board, balanced on four talk, skinny boards. What is that? And how does it work?”

Muddy slowly approached the stack, and crouched down. “The skinny boards seem to be attached to the big one somehow, making a flat surface up in the air.” I crouched down to see for myself, as Muddy moved around the stack and studied it. “There are some strange silver colored things that seem to hold the skinny boards in place, and the big board to the skinny ones.”

I stuck my hand into the opening under the raised board. “Empty space. Nothing there. Why would anyone make a board float in the air, and then pile stuff on it?”

Muddy had the perfect answer, of course, “Why would anyone live in a cave under the ground?”

It was a cave. What else could it be. It was under the ground. “We’d have never found it if the board over the opening hadn’t blown away. Or whatever it did.”

Muddy nodded. “Yeah. It would have been invisible.”

We’d found the opening, after a big storm, with lots of wind. I got up with the sun, and headed to the fields. And there, on the side of the small hill I’d rested on many times, was a gaping hole. I’d called Muddy. “What the hell is that?”

We’d prayed about what to do, and asked God. Then, we stared into the dark hold. “Muddy. You stay here. I’m going to get a candle.” I’d come back a few minutes later. Muddy was still there, praying. I’d lit the candle, and we’d started into the hole. It was some kind of path. Strange for a cave, really. Almost like a big rectangle had been cut out of the ground. And it went down, into the ground.

We’d taken that path. And that lead us to the cave.

“Yeah. This is one strange cave.” I touched one of the cave walls. “The walls are smooth, and they don’t feel like dirt, or brick, or wood, or even rock.”

“Yeah. And it’s like the path. Like something cut a big box into the ground, with smooth walls. Almost like a room in the barn.”

I nodded. “It’s like it’s not natural.” That’s when we panicked. Not natural meant one thing. The Devil and his minions had made the cave.

“We need to get the hell out of here. Now.” Muddy was already running toward the path, to escape the cave. I followed him, as fast as my legs would run. We didn’t stop running when we escaped the cave.

“We need to get to Poppa. He’ll be able to call in the Church. They’ll know what to do. They’ll be able to save us from the Devil’s work in the hill.”

583 words

This is written for Week 62 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. Not certain if I’m able to write much these days. We’ll have to see. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.