Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/08/29

“Everybody hates the rain. I hate the rain. I’m glad it’s over.” Sometimes Matteo said what he thought was the right thing, only to learn it was totally wrong.

“Matteo! That’s not what I meant!” I glared at him, and he froze, a dumbfounded look on his face. “I love the rain. And I love when it’s over, and everything’s clean, and fresh.”

“I’m sorry, Emma. I thought…” He looked so confused, but to be honest, around me, Matteo always looked confused.

“It’s OK. It’s OK.” I poked his shoulder. “I know most people hate the rain. But I wait for it. When it comes it cleans everything. It washes the dirt out of the air. Cleans the buildings, and windows. Washes the streets, and sidewalks.”

He nodded, trying to move past his mistake. “You’re right. It does.”

“And when it’s finished, we can walk outside, in all the clean.”

Matteo seemed to be more confused than ever, as he stopped, and looked at the ocean of leaves the storms had washed down from the trees that lined the streets. “Clean. Right.”

“It’s fall, silly. The leaves are falling off the trees already.”

“Yeah. Seasons.”

I wondered if all boys were like Matteo. Total dummies, but cute anyway. Almost like his inability to figure out the universe, and the world we lived in was a trait of boys. He walked beside me, as we walked home from the book store. And, as always, he paid more attention to me, and where I was, and if I was happy, smiling, laughing, than to where we walked.

The puddle made a marvelous splash as I stomped in it. The water formed an almost circular splash. It got my other leg wet, and it got both of Matteo’s legs.

“Emma!”

So, I stomped my foot again. And got him more wet below his knees. Which ignited a puddle stomping war between Matteo and me, exactly like I wanted. I wanted to see him smile, and laugh, and forget about everything for a moment. And stomping in the puddles, trying to get each other wet, did precisely that.

We wound up standing in the biggest puddle, in the middle of the road, looking at each other, laughing. It was fun. And I liked to have fun. And I liked to make Matteo laugh. I didn’t think he laughed enough. Not like he did a few years earlier.

I knew what had happened. His father had told him to toughen up. To get serious. “You’re becoming a man, Matteo. You’re not a boy anymore. Now, you put away the ways of a boy, and you become a man.”

He’d stopped talking about what he wanted. What he felt. It was like he’d lost himself. Lost who he was. Or perhaps hidden it, behind some construct boys make when they have to turn into men. One that hides everything about them. So they become like machines, and all behave the same way.

It was sad, really. To see what was happening to him. He was my friend. Friends laugh, and talk, and cry, and sing, and do silly things, like stomp in puddles after a rain.

I wanted him to be my friend, and I wanted to be his friend. So we could have fun. And be who we were, feel what we felt. But, somehow I knew, the day would come, when he wouldn’t be the same Matteo. When he’d become more like the older boys. And I wouldn’t be his friend anymore. I’d be an object. A thing. To be possessed. A sign, or symbol, to the other boys that he’d become a man.

And I wished that didn’t have to happen.

But right then, standing in that puddle in the street, soaked below the knees, and laughing like little kids in a sandbox, was all that really mattered. And I’d take any such moments I could find.

654 words
@mysoulstears


This is written for Week 70 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. 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.

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Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/08/18

I stopped looking into mirrors ages ago. I use them only at tools now. To see to straighten my hair. To help with putting on the makeup this world demands I wear. But I don’t actually look into them. Because I know what I’ll see.

The last time I looked, I saw the chains. The chains that tie me here. In this house. In this image of who I am. Of how I am supposed to look, think, behave, act. Of what I can and can’t say.

That was the day I went to dinner with him. The day I saw the chains that bind him to his work, our house, our children, me, his parents, the people he works with, the people we go to church with. I saw all those chains.

I saw the chains that hold everyone. Each of us, bound in place. Free to roam about within the reach of the chains. But never free to leave. Free to sleep naked on the living room floor, in a spot of sunlight from the back yard. But not free to be seen by anyone. To be seen, the chains mean clothing. Appearances.

They were everywhere I looked. Everywhere I went. Attached to everyone.

I watched them yank him out of bed in the morning, drag him to the shower, to get him ready for work. I felt them drag me out of bed, and down the stairs to the kitchen, to fix him a breakfast, and a lunch he could eat at work. I watched the chains pull my children, my two sons, out of bed, out of their slumber, their peace, their dreams. And drag them through getting dressed, and cleaned up, their homework papers collected, their notebooks and textbooks packed in their backpacks. I saw the chains relax for a few moments, as they ate their breakfast. Then, the chains drug them along, through brushing their teeth, only to finally drag them outside, to the corner a few houses away, where the school bus picked them up.

The chains dragged me to the kitchen, made me wash the dishes, clean the sinks, clean the counters and the range. Then open the refrigerator, and make a list of what I had to buy at the grocery to get through the next few days. It wasn’t a decision. It wasn’t freedom. It was chains.

It was responsibility. Those things we each do to be functional in our society. Those things we have to do to even have a society. Mow the lawn. Wash the cars. Wash the laundry. Buy groceries.

The chains were everywhere I looked.

Except on the birds. Or the flowers. Or the spiders, or dragonflies, or rabbits. Those could come and go as they pleased. They could leave, if they wanted, go exploring, find a new place to live. A new place to sleep at night.

Since that day, I don’t look in the mirror anymore. And I take my pills each day. The ones I have to take so I can live with the knowledge that none of us are free. That everyone, every last one of us, lives in chains. And I wonder. Do we really know what we have done to ourselves? Or are we blind to the chains we have made?

Then, I felt the pull of the chains once more. It was time to make dinner, and have it ready for him when the chains returned him from his work. And the chains know what I must do to keep things working in our home. I try to see the chains exist for a reason. I know, without the chains, there would be chaos.

But many times, I wonder.

What would it be like to be free? And does anyone else know we are not?

663 words
@mysoulstears


This is written for Week 68 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. 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 326 : Just Let It Flow

“Well, Pastor Greg. You have a rather nasty brother, don’t you.” It was true. His brother was part of Crew 38, and new Harry very well. “Little Jimmy has a gun fetish, doesn’t he?” I left a note to Pastor Greg trapped to his TV screen, “Little Jimmy did a bad thing.”

Crew 38 got word from Harry of a transgender thing people wanted gone. They gave Jimmy the job. “Kill it.”

Jimmy had. He’d gathered a few of his friends, and told them what they were going to do. “We’re going to take back our world. One step at a time. We’ll be safer when it’s gone.”

The idiots had taken pictures with their phones, and had them in a photo album at the Crew 38 single wide trailer in one of the trailer parks outside of town. The entire gang was disturbed to find all those pictures spread out on the kitchen counter one night, and a computer printed note that said, “I know who you are.”

Jimmy called Pastor Greg every time another note turned up. “I wonder when I’ll kill you.” “Was it fun to use a knife?” “I’ll cut off your fingers. One at a time. While you watch.” “Was it fun to watch the blood? To just let it flow?” “Tell the others, I’m coming for them.”

Pastor Greg called the sheriff. They moved Jimmy to a safe house. Jimmy still got notes. Tapped to the TV screen. “It’s almost time. It’s almost time.”

247 Words
@mysoulstears


Getting closer to the end of this Armor 17 story. Maybe 6 parts left. It’s Week 326 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.

#ThursThreads Week 324 : And When Will That Be?

On the fourth day, the messages on the internet changed. The pictures of Michelle’s mutilated body showed up again. But the message tied to them was different. “Dear, Michelle. I know who did this to you. I know who took your life from you.” There were several pictures of Michelle, walking in the sunshine, at a botanical garden, with roses everywhere. She was smiling, and happy. “I know who took this from you.” Pictures of her in line with a friend, buying movie tickets, and laughing. “I know who stole your life from you.”

Then, the sheriff’s voice spoke, “I said, lay low for now. Stay out of sight. I’ll take care of it.”

A muffled voice answered, “I’ll talk with the boys. See what they can stir up. Stop the guy.”

“But…”

“Would be a shame if Janie knew about you and Shelly.”

There was silence for a moment, then the sheriff’s voice, “Try not to kill anybody. OK.”

“No promises. We’ll take care of this.”

Then the text changed to say, “Oh, sheriff… I think Janie knows about Shelly now…”

Lastly, there was a picture of a house, in a good neighborhood, with a big tree in the front yard, and roses along the porch. Beneath that was a timer counting down from eight hours. Beneath that the text asked, “Almost time for more trouble. And when will that be? When time runs out.”

It was almost time to give Michelle the justice she deserved.

247 Words
@mysoulstears


Getting closer to the end of this Armor 17 story. Wonder what I should do with it when the draft is finished. I think of something, I suppose. Anyway. It’s Week 324 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 : 2018/08/02

“I came down here to visit you, you know.” Well. What else was I supposed to say? What is anyone supposed to say inside a crypt, surrounded by the homes of the dead? I didn’t know, but felt I had to say something.

“Your Mom. She doesn’t know what to feel anymore. You know that?” It was true. Her Mom spent hours smiling, and talking, and laughing, and singing, and then… She spent hours crying, and prone on the floor, and staring at her Bible, and her painting of Jesus on the cross, always asking, “Why?”

“You’re Dad’s started drinking.” Everyone had seen that coming. We knew that was how he coped with loss.

“They both ask me why. Why you left. Why you thought you had to leave.” I stared at the drawer she was in. Put my hand on the marble plate on the door. “Ella.”

I don’t know how many times I’d cried, how many nights I’d stared at the stars and wondered if she was happy, finally. At peace, finally. And finally, didn’t spend her existence in agony, constant pain, misery.

“I know. I know.” It didn’t make sense to say why. Ella knew I understood. Those nights I’d sat on the floor, next to the sofa, with her having finally cried herself to sleep, her hand resting on my shoulder. Hell, I didn’t care if I couldn’t stand up the next morning, I wouldn’t move. I’d stay right there, and be right there when she woke.

And she always woke too soon. And always in agony. I could see that in her eyes.

“I used to ask God, you know. I did. Let me carry all the hurt for a while. Let her be happy. Just for a little while. But God never answered me.”

I told her about the darkness in me. I did. That darkness that stains everything. Touches everything. How I can look at a perfect rose, soft, velvet petals, tiny drops of dew on it, and want to hold onto it because I saw the darkness around it, and knew it was going to be gone too soon.

I told her of the times I walked beside the main street. Cars zooming by. Big ass trucks too. “You know. All I had to do to be free, to escape that dark. All I had to do was wait. And when it was time. Take two steps to the side. And all the darkness would have been gone. I’d have been free from it.”

She knew. My Ella knew. And she knew I wouldn’t. Not that I couldn’t. That I wouldn’t. Because. If I did that, I’d have lost her. My Ella. She knew. I’d have walked through the flames of hell, the ones that set fire to the rocks, to be able to see her, and hold her hand, and talk with her.

She knew I’d take being stabbed by a pitchfork, every breath I took, every step I took, every heartbeat, to see the roses once again. To stand on the sand by the ocean, and close my eyes, and feel the breeze, smell the salt on the air, and feel the heat of the sun on my face.

My Ella. She knew. She knew me. Knew I’d learned. The darkness was a small price to pay, and small thing to endure, for me to see those few moments, those few people, that mattered to me. That were gifts to me. From God. I was cursed in this life, I knew that. Ella knew that.

“You had the best smile. And pure magic in your eyes, you know.” I stood in silence for a time, and tried to feel her there, with me. Reaching across time, space, the fabric of life. To hold my hand once more.

“I know.” I wished I could hold her one more time. “I know. My Ella. Be at peace now. Be happy now. Be free. At long last. Be free.”

Finally, I turned, and walked from the crypt. Back into the darkness of the night. The darkness I’d always lived with. As much as I wanted to be free, to join Ella wherever she’d gone. I knew I wouldn’t. I’d stay.

Because I had to see the roses bloom another day. Soft velvet petals. And tiny drops of dew. That somehow, for some reason, washed all the darkness away. If only for a little while. And perhaps. Someday. I would find another soul, like Ella. Who could touch my heart. Like the roses did.

That thought alone was worth staying for.

767 words
@mysoulstears


This is written for Week 66 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. 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.