The Violence – Two

Sunday after Sunday, he goes to church.
Because it’s the right thing to do,
The thing you’re supposed to do,
Every Sunday.

He watches the other people of the church,
When the stand,
When they sit,
When they bow their heads,
When they close their eyes,
How they pray,
How they sing,
Every thing they do.
He watches it all.
Studies it all.
Memorizes it all.
So he can be like them.
So he can fit in.

He reads the bulletin,
Every word,
And tracks the lines,
Matching them to what people do,
And when they do that.
It’s a handy guide for him.
One he can use like a map,
Stand now.
Sit now.
Sing now.
Listen now.
All mapped out.
He follows it.
So he won’t stick out,
Won’t be different.
So he can be like everyone else.
So he can fit in.

He’s learned,
You see.
He’s learned it’s not what he feels.
Not what he thinks.
No one cares for that.
He’s learned,
You see.
To blend in.
So no one says to him,
“What’s wrong with you?”
“You can’t do that!”
“You can’t be that way!”
So no one calls him arrogant
For looking to heaven when he prays.
No one wonders what’s wrong with him,
When he doesn’t sing.
So he doesn’t do something
Different.
Or wrong.

He’s learned,
You see.
The words to say.
The way to dress.
When to smile.
When to frown.
When to laugh,
And cry.

He’s learned.
To fit in.
To belong.

To be one of them.

And he doesn’t care at all.
If all of it’s a lie.
If all of it’s all wrong.
It’s the way things are.
The way he has to be.

So he won’t have to be alone.

So he won’t have to be alone.

#FlashMobWrite 1×02 : Begging For Thread

All I want’s a thread. A single thread. Of life. Of hope. That’s all. A thread to keep me alive. But, there aren’t any around. No one’s there. I’m alone. Since she left. Until I can find someone else. Anyone else.

So alone.

So empty.

Rosy left a couple of weeks ago. I still hear what she said, still hear our last words to each other. We sat at our table in LuLu’s, our favorite place to eat. She’d had her favorite, the pulled pork pizza for one. I don’t remember what I had. Then, I never cared what I had. We talked like always. How was work. It sucked. I always lied, never told her how I felt. Never told her I didn’t care about work. About what I did, who I worked with. Nothing there mattered. I worked ‘cause I had to. Doesn’t everyone?

After we’d eaten, we sat at the table, and she said, “Let’s talk.”

I loved listening to her talk, so I nodded, and smiled, and got all excited about talking with her. But then, she didn’t talk about anything good. “Tell me what you feel.”

“What?”

“Tell me what you feel.”

“What I feel? About what?”

“Are you happy? Sad? What? How do you feel?”

“You’re here. I’m good.”

“And when I’m not here?”

Have you ever taken one step too close to the edge? Or climbed something you shouldn’t have? You know that feeling of pending disaster? Where you try to touch anything with your toes, and there’s nothing there?

“Well? How do you feel when I’m not here?”

“What am I supposed to feel?”

“How you feel.” Her frown scared me, I didn’t know what I’d done. “Don’t you know how you feel?”

I knew from her facial expression, she wanted an answer. An honest answer, and I knew what that meant, what that always meant. I couldn’t smile any more. “Empty.”

Rosy didn’t say anything, she didn’t have to.

I tried to breathe. “Secretly, I think you knew, didn’t you.” I was a statement, a declaration, me saying, “I know, this is where everything ends.”

Rosy nodded. “How? Why?” She didn’t look sad, or upset. She looked disappointed. “Is there anything to you?”

“No.” I couldn’t lie to her. Hell, I’d tried lying. It never worked. It just made everyone angry. “No.”

Empty, I’d told her. I didn’t feel anything. She’d left me sitting at the table. Her side of the table empty, like me. I paid, of course. I wandered home, eventually.

Now? Now I wait. Through endless empty time. For someone to offer me a thread of life. Just a thread. That’s all I want. Is that so much to want? Is it?

454 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this in response to the prompts and song for this weeks #FlashMobWrites Flash Fiction challenge. The weekly challenge is hosted by Ruth Long and Cara Michaels. Please, go read all the stories in this week’s challenge.

#FSF : Open

open_window-t2

I watched the curtains flutter in the breeze that came through the open window. “I’m too old to move,” I whispered as I looked at the empty yard beyond the window. Everything in the house reminded me of her. Of the truth she was dead and buried, and I was alone. “You weren’t supposed to die first, you know.”


One for Lillie McFerrin‘s flash fiction challenge, Five Sentence Fiction. This week, the prompt is Open. Please, go read all the other entries to this week’s Five Sentence Fiction. It’s amazing what creative people can do with just five sentences.

#FinishThatThought Week 2-5 : Slipping Away

She whispered, “I forgive you,” as her hand slipped out of mine.

It was a lie. We both knew that. She remembered everything I’d done. Whatever it was I’d done. It was funny how I never knew what I’d done. I always said something, did something, wrote something, that brought an end to a friendship, or job. Something that forced me to leave another club, another church, another gym, another whatever.

With me, everything ended.

I never knew why.

But I knew people. I knew what they were going to do. What they were thinking. What they were feeling. I had to. It was what kept me alive.

I looked squarely in her eyes and studied their color. I saw the bottled rage hidden behind the façade of tenderness and caring. I saw the tension at the back of her jaw line. Subtle, covered over, disguised, so most would never see it. The nearly invisible lines to the sides of her eyes, caused by stress.

She was putting on her best face. Acting polite, caring, and forgiving.

I replayed what happened in my memory. I heard every word I’d said. I watched her listen. I watched her stand once more. I watched her stomp her left foot, one time. I heard her say, “Really?” And I watched her walk out of the room.

I knew every word I’d said. “They’re all like. Inside. Beneath the surface. Like cars. Pull off the decorations, the bumpers, the paint, the fenders, the seats, and all the cars become an engine with a drivetrain. That’s how they’re all alike.”

“They think the same. They laugh at the same things. They eat at the same places, and they eat the same things. They vote the same every election.” I’d looked into her hazel eyes, “I can tell you who they voted for. Every last one of them. And none of them told me.”

“You don’t mean that.” Her words echoed in my memory. “You don’t mean that.”

“Yes. Yes, I do. Because it’s true. And you know it.”

That’s when she’d stood up, and left. “Really?” It had been an accusation. Not a threat, not a question. An accusation. I’d never seen it coming. Her reaction was a surprise. I’d stood, unmoving, like a statue, for ten minutes. I’m not sure I’d even breathed. I didn’t move, as I wrestled with myself, in my head, trying to grasp what had happened. What I’d done, what I’d said, how I’d said it, that elicited such an angry, harsh response from her.

I had no clue.

The only option I’d had was to apologize for the words I’d said, and bury what I felt, what I thought, what I believed, inside, where no one could see it again, and hope she accepted my apology.

She hadn’t. Everything I saw when I looked at her told me that.

Another friend. Slipping away again. Soon, she would be gone. And I would be like always.

Alone.

497  Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Week 2-5 (Year 2, week 5) of Alissa Leonard‘s Finish That Thought. Please, go read all the creatively shared stories in this week’s challenge.

Commentary : I Hide

It’s Wednesday. The day I have my weekly session with my doctor. There are several things we agreed about today. Several things I finally said. I’ve avoided saying them for nearly four years.

“This winter tore me up.”

“This winter was hard on a lot of people.”

I felt like saying, “Yeah, doc. I know.” I didn’t. I did what I always do. I thought first. I searched through my scripts. My databases. My knowledge. For the right thing to say. There wasn’t any right thing to say. I was in psychotherapy. And my doc knows how my mind works. He knows what I’m thinking.

“This winter tore me up bad.”

“I know, Mark.”

I thought of her. My spouse. My best friend. She whom I’d willingly die to protect. She without whom I’d be hopelessly lost. “She doesn’t know.”

My doctor nodded. “No. She doesn’t,” he put his papers down. “No one knows.”

“Yeah.”

“You hide.”

“Yeah. I hide.” I’d never admitted that. Never.

“And you’re damn good at it.” He doesn’t smile much, when we’re talking. He didn’t smile then. “You’ve had a lot of practice.”

“Yeah. I hide.” I knew there was no sense in hiding that truth from him. He already knew it. “I always have. I learned to. I had to learn to. I learned to hide. To keep what I feel, what I think, what I believe, hidden. I learned to observe. To tear apart. To analyze. To study. To build programs. Scripts. How to appear normal. How to blend in. Because I learned, if I did that, if I followed the scripts, and blended in, everyone shut the fuck up, and left me the hell alone.”

“I know.”

I wasn’t finished. “They stopped saying, ‘You can’t be like that. You can’t live like that. You can’t be that way.’ They shut up. And left me alone.”

We were silent for a bit. Only a minute. Maybe a hair more. Until I spoke again. “I’m going to take a walk in the morning.”

“Good! You need it.”

“Yeah. I need it.” I sat there, on the sofa in his office, as I have far more times than I can count, and I finally spoke the truth. “I don’t walk 5 and 6 miles because it doesn’t hurt.”

“I know.”

“I walk because I have to walk.”

He sat there, waiting for me to continue. We both knew he’d do that. We both knew why. “I have to walk. It’s how I cope.” I could have stopped there, but it was time to bring the truth out. “It’s how I cope with the anger. The frustration. The stress. Of living in this world.”

“I know. And it’s good. You need to walk.”

“She doesn’t understand. No one understands.”

“I know.”

Yeah. These aren’t the exact words we spoke today. But they’re close. I told him of the time I posted a message on Facebook. “I said no one knows. No one understands. How hard it is for me to keep going. To keep dealing with this.”

It’s true.

No one understands. Oh, people think they do. You have no idea how many people think they do. But, unless you’ve lived through this. Unless you face this in your life. You have no idea.

I the past few years I’ve found a few special people. They understand. They live with this same nightmare, or another nightmare like it.

I hide. Because the truth still stands. If I hide. If I put up a façade. If I blend in, and appear close to normal. People shut up. And leave me alone. They talk to me. They spend time with me. They don’t understand the person they think I am is a lie. Isn’t real. Isn’t me.

She knows I need to walk. She knows there are times I have to walk. She’s even said, “Walk. I’ll be here when you get back.” She knows. And I know it disturbs her. Especially when I’m wounded so visibly she says, “Go for a walk.”

I wish there were words, magic, miracles, anything at all, that would let me explain why I walk to her. Let me show her that I HAVE to walk. And I have to walk for miles. I have to walk, even if it hurts.

Do you know what it’s like to walk seven miles, or more, in August, when the sun is burning the grass, and it hasn’t rained in weeks, and you can see the heat coming off the asphalt streets, and the humidity is so high you feel like you could cut the air with a knife.

Yeah.

It hurts.

But I have to walk.

It’s walk. Or go insane.

You have no idea. You really have no idea. The price I pay. Every day. To live in a world I never made.

#VisDare 49 : Devoted (Taran’s Tale, Part 32)

After the videos, Alice spoke. “Cynthia is my mother. Leighla is my daughter.” She looked into my eyes, and I got lost in hers. “I have a son. The hordes took him.” Her blue eyes became wells of sorrow. “I’m afraid,” She pulled away from me. “Of what I feel.”

I knew not to touch her then. It would hurt her. “I’m from the caves.” It was time to tell her. “But I lived alone. Alone.” Her eyes wouldn’t let me go. “I read the books of the ancients. I left the caves to find a new life.” I let my eyes return to hers. “And I have.” I tried to smile.

“Me?”

“No.” I couldn’t lie to her. “Me. And I’m afraid. Of what I feel.”

I slowly offered her my hand. She slowly reached for it, and what we both felt began to grow.

146 Words
@LurchMunster


This is part 32 in the continuing story I’m working on for Angela Goff’s Visual Dare. Please read the other entries in this week’s Visual Dare challenge.

The entire story, from part 32 to part 1, is located here.

#ThursThreads Week 99 : But I Won’t Go Alone

My ship was listing to port. I had to hold the rudder to starboard to hold a steady course. Her sails, tattered remnants of the black sailcloth they’d been. Her deck, littered with the bodies or her crew.

She was dying. So was I.

I yanked the wheel, guiding her toward the closest British warship. They would not ask for a surrender. They would keep the cannons aimed, putting more holes in my ship. Each shot bringing her a step closer to the end.

We never stood a chance. Three small ships, three small crews, and our bitty cannons against a host of British warships. We’d been outnumbered, three to one. We’d been outgunned, five to one. We had no chance.

We’d run, our sails filled with the wind, knowing our only chance was flight. We’d failed. Our first ship struck by British cannon fire, her main mast falling, splintered wood striking down members of her crew.

The British called us pirates. If we were pirates, we’d have left one ship to die, and continued to flee. We didn’t. We were free men. We turned, and fought to protect our wounded comrades.

Only my ship was left. Wounded. Dying. I screamed at the British. “I will die a free man! But I won’t go alone!” I turned my ship toward the closest British vessel. She knew what I wanted. And she granted me one last wish. With her dying breath, she speared the side of one of her British killers.

250 words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 99. I’m experimenting with imagination. Hope you like it. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.

#MWBB 36 : Howlin For You

Friday night. And I was alone. In my car. Going to watch a movie. With no one. Going to eat a dinner somewhere. With no one. Going to lie on my bed, with my eyes open, staring at the ceiling all night. Again.

That’s not how I wanted to spend my Friday night. I wanted to spend it with her. Take her to a movie she wanted to watch. I’d have even gone to watch one of those love story movies, if that’s what she’d wanted. I wouldn’t have cared what movie. I wouldn’t have seen the movie, or remembered it. I’d have seen her. I’d have talked with her. I’d have sat next to her. Maybe she’d have even held my hand.

But she wasn’t with me. I’d picked a movie for me. Just like I did every Friday night. One movie after another. And I sat through it, wishing she was there.

After the move I’d have taken her to dinner. A real restaurant. With sit down service. Not a pizza place. Not fast food. She liked Italian. So I’d have picked an Italian place. She’d sit across the table from me. We’d talk about the movie. And about work, and school, and our friends. I’d get to watch her again. See the way the light shined through her hair. See the way her hair caressed her neck and shoulders. I’d wish I could put my hands where her hair was, letting my fingertips trace the curves of her shoulders. I’d stare into her eyes, and forget everything. No studies. No projects. No deadlines. Nothing. I’d just stare into her soft blue eyes. And get lost. I’d talk about anything she wanted. For as long as she wanted. And we’d get a desert. And split it. Two spoons, one for each of us.

Instead, I went to Taco Bell. A fast food burrito, and an absurdly big cup of Mountain Dew. I wolfed both down, and got out of there as quickly as I could. I’d learned. If I kept moving, I didn’t notice as much how she wasn’t there.

After dinner, if she wanted, I’d drive to the ocean front. And we’d take a walk on the beach. She’d take off her shoes, and walk barefoot on the sand. And she’d hold my hand. Her graceful, delicate fingers laced through mine. Our palms pressed together. I wouldn’t even notice the ocean breeze, or the sounds of the waves. I wouldn’t even notice the other people there. All I’d see was her. All I’d feel was her hand, holding mine.

Instead, I went home. To my room, shut the door, and turned off the lights. And I pulled aside my curtains, and looked out the window, into the dark. I stared at the stars, and the moon. I knew they were alone. So far from everyone, and everything. The stars couldn’t talk to each other. No one could visit them. Stars were isolated islands in an ocean larger than I could ever imagine. The stars were alone.

Like me.

Without her.

I slept with the curtains open that night. Lying on my bed. Staring at the stars for hours. Until I passed out. I’d done good. I was proud of myself.

I didn’t cry.

546 Words
@LurchMunster


This is my entry for week 36 of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge.

Sitting In The Dark

Here I am, again.
In the dark.
Alone.
The cat sleeping
On my lap.

I suspect a normal person
Would give up,
And go to bed.
“Tomorrow’s another day.
I’ll be better.”

Or perhaps they’d
Have a drink.
And watch a movie on TV.
Or something like that.

Perhaps a normal person
Would text message a friend.
And the two of them
Could keep each other company.
Cheer each other up.

I don’t really know,
You know.
What a normal person would do.
On a night like this.
When their depression
Cuts them to the bone.

Sometimes I scream at God.
“Why?
Why me?”
But I know.
It wasn’t God.
It was random chance.
The luck of the draw.
The way the genes
Of Mom and Dad
Mixed.

No sense,
And no use,
Being upset about that.

I never told anyone before.
Why I stopped Prozac
In 2003.
December 6th.
I remember the day.
It was the day I took
The last pill.

I’d taken 20 mg a day
For three years
And two months.
And for the last six months
I felt it.
The depression.
Growing.
Gaining strength.

I knew the Prozac
Wouldn’t work.
Wouldn’t help.
So I stopped taking it.

Now, I’m at that point again.
But I know so much more.
I know how to manage
My biochemical imbalance.
My screwed up neurochemistry.

I walk.
I visit the flowers
In the Botanical Garden.
I watch the ocean
As I walk on the sand.
I stop.
And breathe.
And remember now.
This moment.
This heartbeat.

I used to think
My hands
Were a curse to me.
I’ve learned.
They’re not.
They’re a gift.

I can feel the air I breathe
With them.
I can spread my fingers wide
And feel the air move
In the room.
Feel it pass between
My fingers.
Flow across my palms.

My hands are not a curse.
They’re a gift.
They remind me,
Even in my darkest times,
Even on my darkest nights.

I’m alive.

And I can feel.

I can feel the carpet
With my toes,
And the soles
Of my feet.

I can feel the shirt I wear,
Where it touches me.
If I decide I want to.
All I have to do is stop.
And remember.

I’m alive.

Prozac didn’t teach me that.
I didn’t learn it from a book.
From a friend.
From a doctor.

I learned that
Long ago.
When I was so young.
I had no words
To explain
Anything I’d learned.

And I buried everything.
To be like everyone.

But my heart
And soul.
They knew.
And they found a way
To explain the truth
To me.

I’m not broken.
I’m not evil.
I’m not defective.

I’m Me.

I don’t know
What a normal person
Would do
On a night like this.

Somehow,
I don’t wish to ever know.
Instead,
I wish
The normal people
I have known,
And know now,
Could stop.
And listen.
To their hearts
And souls.

And perhaps they’d know
The drugs,
The medications,
They don’t cure a thing.
All they do
Is help.
Let you catch your breath.
Give you time
To get back on your feet.
And remember how to walk.

No.
The meds don’t kill
My depression.
They don’t remove it
From my life
At all.

Its me that cures
What ails me.
It’s me that remembers
I’m alive.
That learns to live
In each heartbeat.
And each breath.

It’s me that learns to walk.

So I sit here.
Alone.
In the dark.
And I face my self.
My heart.
And soul.
And my depression
That never really goes away.

And I take care of me.
Until I can once more
Smile.

#MWBB 29 : Stay

It broke my heart
To answer you today,
When you asked me,
Please,
Stay.

You asked me to stay with you.
To hold your hand.
To walk with you
Out on the sand
Down by the water’s edge.

“Stay with me,
Please”
You asked.
“Wrap your arms around me
As we watch the sunrise.
And then kiss me again.
And again.”

“Stay with me,
Please”
You asked.
“Hold me when the sun sets.
And then all through the night.”

But I could not stay.

“Stay with me,
Please”
You begged.
You pleaded.
“We can walk through the roses,
Hand in hand.
And spend hours on end
Watching the butterflies
Again.”

My heart ached
As you spoke those words.
If only I could
Spend time with you.
Sitting on the sand at sunrise.
As the sun
Brings the colors of the world
Back to life once more.

If only I could
Kiss your lips
As the ocean waves
Played their songs of life
Once more.

“Stay with me,
Please”
You whispered,
As your fears
brought tears
To your eyes so blue.

You should know.
I love you.
I really do.

But I cannot stay with you.

Both our hearts know
This is true.
Although someday
I may find a way
To return.

Right now
I cannot stay.
For I would be in the way.
I would halt the flow of time.
So you could never change.
And never grow.
And never learn to walk
On your own.

For I know the truth.
I know why you asked.
You pleaded.
You begged.

I know
You are afraid
To be alone.
You are afraid
Of you.

If I stayed
You would use me
As a crutch.
You would put me
In your heart.
Where you need to be.

You would look into the mirror
When you wake up
Every day.
And see me looking back
At you.

You would do everything
I wanted to.
And love every minute of it.
Because you wouldn’t
Have to live
With you.

You would never learn
To see your own eyes
In the mirror.
Stare into their
Clear,
Strong
Blue.

You would never take the time
To stand out on the sand,
Down by the water’s edge.
And listen to the songs
The ocean sings to you.
Watch the world prepare
For its healing rest
As the sun fell from the sky.
Feel the world
Come back to life
As the sun restores
All the color
Painted over by the night.

You would hold my hand
So you would never get the chance
To feel the breeze
Flow between your fingers,
And across your palms.
And your fingertips
Would never feel the texture
Of the sand
On which you stand.

And you would never see
The beauty of the roses
Of the butterflies.
Because you would see me.
Keeping you company.
So you wouldn’t be alone.

If I were to stay
You would never get the chance
To meet yourself.
To be alone.
And learn to see you
As I do.

If I were to stay
You would never learn
Why I love you so.

That is why
I cannot stay.

That is why
I have to go.

533 Words
@LurchMunster


This is my entry for week 98 of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge.