#ThursThreads Week 530 : It’s A Long Way Down.

The eyes in the copy of myself in the mirror looked back at me. They had an emptiness to them, like a glass that’s run out of water and ice.They were still eyes. They still worked. But they had nothing to do.

I took a deep breath, just like I’d learned to do in all the years of therapy. One deep breath, hold it a moment, slowly let it out. Repeat if needed. It didn’t fill the empty eyes, but it did slow me down, slow my pulse rate down, and made me pause for a moment.

I stared into those empty eyes in the mirror, and I knew it was that time of year for me. When the days of summer are almost gone, and the sun sets a minute earlier every night. That time when I feel like the ground I walked on every day, dropped away, and kept falling, and I don’t know where it is, other than down there, somewhere.

That seasonal affective disorder feature of my life, that happened every year. When August neared its end, and the momentum of the summer kept me moving long after the ground disappeared. Until I finally ran out of steam, and gravity caught up with me.

And I fell off a cliff into my depression.

“It’s a long way down.” I looked at my eyes in the mirror. “Why does it always have to hurt to hit the ground?”

242 Words

It’s Week 530 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the stories in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who show up every week.


#SwiftFicFriday Week 138 : It’s Three In The Morning

It was one of those dark mornings, the kind where I woke up at stupid o’clock and couldn’t get back to sleep. The kind where I felt empty inside, like there was nothing left of me. I looked at the clock. “It’s three in the morning.” I shook my head, because I knew there was only one thing I could do.

I got up, got dressed, and put on my walking shoes. I plugged my ear buds into my phone, put them in my ears, and had the phone start playing all my music in random order. Then, I went outside, and walked.

At three in the morning. In the dark.

As I walked, I thought about what other people might think about me walking at such a stupid time in the morning. A time when no one should be outside, walking. But, I’d walked for miles at that time of the morning for years. Nothing had ever happened. No one had ever said anything.

I wasn’t that worried about it. I was a white man. A 6 foot 2 inch tall, 230 pound white man. I didn’t have a lot to worry about.

I wasn’t a woman that had to worry about being jumped, dragged into the trees, or a ditch, or behind someone’s house, raped, and then stabbed to death. It was sad to me that our society was that broken. That women had to live with that kind of fear, never knowing when it would happen, and having to change their entire lives around, rework their entire schedules, to do things when it was safer for them.

Part of me wished I could change that.

Part of me knew I couldn’t.

So, I kept walking, and listening to my music. Until the emptiness went away.

298 Words

It’s Week 136 of #SwiftFicFriday, hosted by Katheryn Avila. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #SwiftFicFriday. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who show up regularly.

#ThursThreads Week 529 : I Can’t Let You Fall Alone

When we were growing up, we’d always wanted to be astronauts, exploring the planets and their moons. That’s how we wound up walking on Miranda, working on a detailed mineral inventory for one of SpaceX’s mining companies.

“It’s a pretty view, isn’t it?” Donna paused and looked over the edge of the Verona Rupes.

“Yep. 20 kilometers. It’s a long way down.”

She laughed. “I want a better view.” I watched as she walked right along the edge of the cliff.

“Not a great idea, you know. There could be loose rock.”

“I’ll be careful.” She continued walking along the edge.

Until she found the loose rock, which gave way under her foot, and I watched as she pitched forward, over the edge of the cliff.

“Well, damn…” That’s all I could say. If she’d fallen on any Earth, or Mars, I’d have waved bye to her, and called for a team to come fetch her remains. But this was Miranda.

I walked off the cliff after her.

“Damn-it, woman! You know damn well I can’t let you fall alone! It’s a long damn walk back!”

I wondered how long it would take to reach the bottom. I’d never fallen in such weak gravity before.

All Donna could say was, “Oops. Sorry. Good thing the suits recycle the air.”

“Maybe we can try to catch something on the cliff, and stop our falls?”

Donna laughed. “Where’s the fun in that?”

240 Words

It’s Week 529 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the stories in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who show up every week.

#SwiftFicFriday Week 136 : That Ain’t My Yard

“This is what the neighbors all want.” I stared at the picture I’d torn out of a magazine. It was a fully landscaped yard, with brick pavers laid out in a perfectly designed pattern for the walkway through the yard instead of a concrete strip. Every blade of grass was identical. No weeds. The perfect lamp to light up the brick walkway, and show off the flower beds. Even the trees had been tuned up to look perfect.

“This is why I hate all the neighbors.”

I tore the picture to shreds, and threw it in the trash can.

“Go ahead and call the city inspectors, bitches! My yard passes the city inspection!”

I knew the steel sided, raised garden beds in my yard were not what my neighbors wanted to see. I knew the squash, okra, beets, carrots, beans, and peas that grew in those beds were not what the neighbors wanted to see.

The neighbors wanted the value of their houses to go up, and up, and up, every year. So they could sell their houses, and move to bigger, better houses that cost more money, and then, in a few years, repeat that process.

My urban garden yard didn’t help them do that. They’d called the city, and complained about my yard. The city had come out and inspected everything. My urban garden was inside my fence. It was well maintained. It was as clean as gardens get. It was all within the city’s codes for what you could do with your yard.

The neighbors don’t talk to me.

You know what?

I don’t mind that at all.

Greedy bastards that they are.

I started planning the trellises I’d need for the blackberry, and raspberry plants next spring.

“They’re gonna love that, aren’t they.”

297 Words

It’s Week 136 of #SwiftFicFriday, hosted by Katheryn Avila. Rachel Thompson (@RachelintheOC) kept telling me, and everyone really, to write what I was afraid of writing. To write what I know. It seems I’m finally starting to figure out what that means. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #SwiftFicFriday. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who show up regularly.

#ThursThreads : Week 527 – You’re Going To Pay For That.

“Did you wish he was dead? Or that he would die? Or that someone would shoot him and…” The speaker paused, and examined the top sheet of paper in a stack. “Put him out of our misery? Yes, I do believe that’s how you phrased it.”

I stared at my feet, which were sunk ankle deep into the fluffy white ground. “You seem to have a record of everything I’ve ever said.” The ground obviously wasn’t grass and dirt. “May I ask a question?”

The speaker paused, and looked at the twelve people sitting in two rows, inside a little enclosed area, then at the rather huge, bearded being behind an equally huge, ornate desk. The being nodded.

“Where am I?”

The speaker laughed. So did the twelve. When the speaker stopped laughing, he informed me, “This is the court of the afterlife Here, we decide what you will do to help people on Earth, and in the kingdom, to pay for being an ass while you were on Earth.”


“Oh, you are guaranteed eternal life in heaven. That’s how the Jesus bit works. But, you do have to learn that your actions have consequences. Here, we review your actions, and decide what those consequences are.”

He looked at the stack of papers, and nodded his head, “It will take a lot of 40 hour work weeks but, you’re going to pay for that.”

“This is not what I thought would happen.”

“That’s what they all say.”

248 Words

It’s Week 527 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the stories in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who show up every week.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2022/09/03 (Week 265)

The lake was normally dry, without a drop of water in it. The lake bed normally looked like bone dry land, the surface broken into irregular shapes, with cracks that went down inches, maybe even feet.

Every August, and September, the rain came, and everything for a thousand square miles flooded. Sometimes it rained for two or three weeks. All day, and all night, the rain fell endlessly. The dry lake bed was the lowest point anywhere. It’s where all the water from the rains went.

The rain had started on August 25th. It was September 3rd, and the rain was still falling. It was time for my annual trek to the lake. A trip I always looked forward to. A trip I’d made for the last ten years.

I took my all-terrain vehicle, my backpack, my tent, and two boxes full of canned fruit, cereal bars, juice, and sardines, packed in the small trailer attached to it, and headed toward the lake.

Of course I got stuck. The path from my home in the middle of nowhere to the lake changed every year. The rains changed the landscape. Boulders moved. New ditches formed. Old ditches got filled in. Soft ground turned to mush, and sucked in anything that touched it.

I lost count of how many times I got stuck. Three, four, five? It didn’t matter. What mattered was getting to the lake to watch what happened when the rains came.

That night, when I reached my campsite, on the highest hill next to the lake bed, hours after the sun had set, I set up my tent, ate sardines, and fruit cocktail, and collapsed into sleep. I knew the next morning I could watch magic on Earth begin to unfold.

I woke as the sun rose. It was time to sit on my hillside, and watch the magic of nature, as I’d watched for ten years.

The lake was shallow, maybe a foot deep at its deepest point. Along the shore, it was more of a puddle. The biggest puddle you could imagine. I watched as the rain kept falling, and water kept flowing from everywhere around, into that lake bed.

That water brought everything with it. Any trees that had died in the heat, and the drought, got washed away by the rain, and carried by the floods the rains made, to the lake. I spotted four new trees that clung desperately to the mud, as they tried not to be washed into the lake. Another couple of days of rain and I knew they’d be floating, and would go where the water carried them.

Such trees dotted the lake bed after the water was gone. They became homes for the animals, mostly mice, and insects, and an occasional snake. It was an annual gift from Nature to the animals that dared to live in the dry desolation that lasted month after endless month, when the rains were gone.

I waited for the flowers and the grasses to start growing. At first they would grow along the edges of the lake. As the lake dried, and shrank, the plants grew in an ever tightening circle, until only a small island of green remained.

Those grasses and flowers brought mating season for the animals. Everything happened at a furious pace. Eggs got laid. Mice got pregnant. For two months, the lake was alive, and that brought everything around it to life.

I waited. I’d wait as long as I needed to, to see the grasses, and the flowers. To watch the mice, the snakes, and the insects, springs to life for that few weeks. I’d take every picture I could. I’d write about everything I saw.

So I could remember, when the lake was gone, and the relentless sun scorched the ground, and turned everything to an endless field of gray dust and dirt, that life never gives up, and would be there once again, the next time the rains came.

Who cares how many words.

Written for Week 265 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. Mirror, mirror on the wall. What can I do with you as a prompt? 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.

#SwiftFicFriday Week 135 : Umbrage

The first person who hammered this truth into my brain was my 6th grade teacher. I can’t remember their name, but that doesn’t matter. “You have to speak to your audience! Use language they understand!”

It’s a simple concept, but it’s ludicrously difficult to perfect, and execute consistently.

I paused to translate everything into words Jim would understand before I spoke. I had to simplify my words, dumb down my content, so the testosterone based brain that filled his pants, and rested between his legs, would not want to urinate on me.

My brain cells translated, “I see you have taken umbrage with another article of news” into words that would not anger him. Words I knew he would understand. Next, they ran those words through a filter, multiple times, to remove any content that his anatomy might mistakenly assume was an insult of his intelligence.

“So. I’m guessing another lie from the liberal media has pissed you off.” I paused, and deliberately scratched the side of my head. “Is it the one about gas and oil causing the wildfires in our state?”


He glared at me.

“Help me out here, Jim. I’m trying to understand. I know you’re angry. But I don’t know why.”

“The government wants me to set my AC to 78 frickin’ degrees! Just like being outside! Asking me to sweat in my own home!”

“Did they tell you it was to lighten the load on the power grid, so the grid could keep working?”

“Lies! That’s what it is! Lies!” He stomped a foot on the ground, “They need to burn more oil! Make more power! Stop using that wind and solar power crap that doesn’t work!”

It took everything I had to not laugh in his face.

294 Words

It’s Week 135 of #SwiftFicFriday, hosted by Katheryn Avila. Rachel Thompson (@RachelintheOC) kept telling me, and everyone really, to write what I was afraid of writing. To write what I know. It seems I’m finally starting to figure out what that means. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #SwiftFicFriday. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who show up regularly.

#ThursThreads : Week 526 : You Know Why I’m Here

For seventeen nights, Sword waited on that beach. He spent his eighteenth day like the previous seventeen. He fished. He walked in a circle for hours. It was fascinating to him how deep of a trench he’d made in the sand, walking that circle for eighteen days. He tidied up his lean too. He watched the sea grass grow.

And he waited.

He would wait seventeen more if that’s how long Rose took to reach the ocean. Hunting small animals in that brush was no problem either. With his wild magic he’d been a master at spear fishing for several years, and at hunting, for several years. He had no problem obtaining food. He was beside the ocean, so had no problem staying clean.

That afternoon, he drew a rose in the sand. He’d drawn pictures of roses for the previous seventeen straight nights. Always, the wind, and the surf, took them away. But he liked to draw them. They reminded him of her.

That evening, as the sun drew near the horizon, he saw a crescent moon shaped boulder drifting through the brush, toward the ocean. He knew it was Rose.

Rose stopped her journey when she reached Sword.

He helped her down from her seat. “You know why I’m here, don’t you.”

Rose held his hand, “Of course. Thank you for waiting for me. I’m sorry I took so long to get here.”

“Don’t be sorry. I want to hear all the stories of your journey here.”

249 Words

It’s Week 526 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the stories in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who show up every week.