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
@mysoulstears


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.

 

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#AtoZ2016 : U Is For Useless

I feel it again.
That sinking feeling.
That hopeless feeling.
The one you get when you try.
And you fail.
When you want to do something
So badly,
So desperately,
And it’s useless to try.

I want to write.
I want to craft magic with words.
To tell a little story.
And find a way to make it funny.
Something to laugh about.
Something to make me feel
Better.

But I find no words.
I sit here,
In this stupid chair.
And I stare at a blank screen.
My hands type junk on the keyboard.
Endless junk.

And I delete it all.
And I try again.
And I get 100 words.
Maybe 200.
And I hate them all.
I’d love to burn them.
To print them out,
Then set fire to the paper they’re on.

And I delete them again.
And again.
And again.

Until I stare at my screen.
And my fingers stop moving.
And I know.
I won’t write a damn thing.
Not one word.

And that feeling smothers me.
Crushes me.
Leaves me prone,
Bruised, crushed and bleeding.
And wondering why I try.
Why I put myself through this.

Endlessly.

I’m not a magician.
I’m not God.
I can’t make something
From nothing.
No mortal can.

And when I can breathe.
When the feeling withdraws.
When it says I’ve had enough,
And leaves me alone.

Then all there is
Is emptiness.
A hollow me.
A shell.

With nothing left inside.

And my heart screams into that
Hollow world.
That hollow me.
“You failed again!”

And I know it’s true.
I failed.
No stories came.
No words formed.
Nothing wound up on the page.

And perhaps,
This time,
It was useless to try.

Useless to struggle.
Useless to pretend.

Because.
On nights like this,
When no words are there.
And no dreams happen.
It’s useless to pretend
I can write.

And all I can do
On a night like tonight,
Is wait.
And try again.
On another day.

And so,
I surrender.
And collapse.
Into the rubble
Of a day of lost
Words.

A day when I was so worn out.
So damaged
From life.
I had no words to say.
But I had to try
Anyway.

Even though I knew the effort,
The time I spent in trying,
Wouldn’t mean a thing.
Except to remind me once again.

Sometimes
It’s useless
To try.


It’s April 25th, and the A to Z Challenge for 2016 is in it’s last few days. Only 5 more letters to write stories for this month.

Please, go explore the A to Z Challenge, and the sites of others who are participating in this adventure.

#FlashMobWrites 1×16 : Bad Blood

It wasn’t the first night Frank couldn’t sleep. Valerie slept inside their small home, in their small bed. He’d worked hard with her to make that house, to make the things they had.

Frank stood in their garden. Valerie cared for it, every day he was away. He was away often, with his wolf, bear, eagle, and hawk friends. The animals, all predators, walked through the world with him. They hunted men. Men who saw women at things, possessions, things they used, then disposed of.

Frank lost count of how many he’d killed. But he remembered them when he slept. Flesh and blood, like him. He saw the faces of the dead, some of them boys being raised by their fathers.

What they did was wrong, he knew that. Women were people, not animals, not slaves, not sexual objects. They were human beings. Flesh and blood. Like him. He remembered when it started. That long walk to the ruins of a city to find books and tools. Anything they could use. Anything they needed to survive.

He’d found Kelly on that trip, rescued her. The two of them found others, including Beth.

Beth’s body healed. But her heart, her soul, were to wounded. Too many nights Frank closed his eyes, and saw her body in the forest, in an ocean of dried blood. Beth killed herself

And Frank went insane.

“How many have I killed?” He stared at slivers of the night sky, filled with stars as it peeked through the leaves of the trees. “Before I become like them? Before I lose who I am. Before…”

His heart ached, his hands shook. He wanted to scream, but had no voice. To cry, but had no tears. He wanted to feel. Anything. Alive.

All he felt was empty.

A wolf entered the garden, stood before him. Jessica followed it. “Frank?”

Frank said nothing.

“The wolf brought me here. Told me you were here.” She stood beside him.

Frank said nothing. He wasn’t sure he was breathing. Maybe he’d never breathe again. Maybe he was already dead. Like the men he’d killed.

Jessica looked into his eyes. “Frank?”

“I’m not who I thought I was.” He didn’t know where the words came from. “I’m not a hero. Not a good guy.” He couldn’t look at Jessica. She was a hero. He wasn’t. “I’m a killer.”

Jessica took his hand, “It’s time. Go. Find yourself.”

Frank looked back at his home. “Valerie?”

“We’ll take care of her. You know that.”

Frank looked at the stars through the trees, then walked from the garden, into the woods.

Jessica cried. The wolf kept her company. She didn’t know if Frank would. She stayed in the garden, waited for sunrise, waited for Valerie. She had to tell Valerie where Frank had gone. When he’d be back.

And she didn’t know how.

The wolf spoke, “He’ll return. When he believes he’s paid for the things he’s done.”

491 Words
@LurchMunster


This is my entry into #FlashMobWrites 1×16, hosted by Ruth Long and Cara Michaels. Please, go read all the stories for #FlashMobWrites 1×16. You might find something you like. But if you don’t try, how will you ever know?

#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.

#FSF : Abandon

 

I should never have visited that ghost town. There, I couldn’t hide from the truth. I couldn’t escape my own emptiness. Among the empty streets, abandoned houses, and emptiness, I screamed, panicked, ran. Until I found myself in an empty hotel, staring out empty windows ask I asked myself,  “When did I abandon life?”


One for Lillie McFerrin‘s flash fiction challenge, Five Sentence Fiction. This week, the prompt is Abandon. 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.

#MWBB 46 : End Of Time

I realized, standing there, looking into my eyes in the mirror, looking back at me, I hadn’t looked into them in years. I almost smiled at that. I’d told everyone, for years, I was OK. “I can look into my own eyes in the mirror, no problem.” And yet, I never did.

“I should have noticed that.”

I should have. Years ago. If I had, perhaps things would have turned out different. Better. I hadn’t. And it was far too late to change anything.

“I never noticed how empty they look.” They looked glazed over. Dull. Like eyes that no longer saw anything. Eyes that no longer worked. If only I’d have looked years earlier.

I started at myself, remembering her.

“I’m supposed to cry, right?” I asked the me I saw in the mirror. “Or get angry.” But the me in the mirror never answered. He just looked at me, his empty, glazed over eyes staring into mine. I didn’t cry. I didn’t get angry. I stood there. Staring into those empty eyes.

“The eyes are the mirror to the soul.” An old proverb I’d heard growing up. One I’d heard in countless songs. So many songs.

“How can you see into my eyes, like open doors? Leading you down into my core, where I’ve become so numb.”

I asked the man in the mirror, “Don’t people cry when they have broken hearts?” He just stared at me. A lifeless, empty stare. He didn’t smile. He just stood there. Carved of stone. As if he had no heart left. No feeling left. No soul.

I remembered the note she’d left on the bed, where I couldn’t help but find it. Handwritten. She never wrote anything by hand. Unless she meant it. Unless it was special.

“You don’t love me any more.”

Those words echoed in my head. In her voice. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw her, saying those words. “You don’t love me any more.”

She’d left. Didn’t tell me where she was going. Just, “You don’t love me any more. Don’t try to follow me. Good bye.”

I saw the tear stains on the paper. I couldn’t miss them.

I looked at the cold, heartless, stone man in the mirror. I wanted to scream at him. I wanted to scratch his eyes out. I wanted to rip his heart from his chest, and throw it away. He didn’t need it. He had no heart left. No soul. He was a walking dead man.

And he stood there, in the mirror, his glazed, empty eyes, staring back at me. He never said a word. Never shed a tear. As if he were a man of stone.

She’d written the words of a song on her note.

“I’ve come to realize
Tonight my friend the end of time
Is not so far away
We cannot pray to save our lives”

I stared at the dead man in the mirror. “Cry, damn you. Cry.” I whispered the words. Knowing the man in the mirror wouldn’t cry. Couldn’t cry. He’d forgotten how so long ago. And I kept hearing her speak the words she’d written. Her last words to me.

“You don’t love me any more. Tonight my friend, the end of time is not so far away.”

And I knew. There was nothing left of the man I saw in the mirror that day. He’d reached the end of his time.

571 Words
@LurchMunster


This is my entry for week 46 of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other stories in the challenge.

NOTE : Song lyrics referenced in this piece consist of:

1. Evanesence – Bring Me To Life
2. Lacuna Coil – End Of Time

#RaceTheDate : Life In The Water, On The Water, Or Underwater

“It is time I remembered who I am.”

That’s all the note said. Oceana placed it on the pillow of her bed within the castle at the bottom of the Eastern Sea. She longed to hug her son once more. To walk through the flowers in the castle gardens once more. She knew she could not.

It was time for her to step aside, and let her son, Sword, rule. It was time for her to heal the wounds in her heart and find the missing pieces of her soul.

Sword would know. He would understand. She’d left him a message only he could read, in the drawings scattered about the note.

Oceana left the castle through the window of her room. Her wings silently propelled her from her home of centuries, into the freedom of the sea. She needed to remember. To experience. All of the life of the sea. The life in the water, on the water, or under the water. It had been so long she’d forgotten.

As she flew through the ocean currents, she closed her eyes, and tried to feel the oceans touch. Centuries before, she felt every movement of the water past her body, between her fingers, across the soles of her feet.

All she felt was empty.

She wanted to cry for the lost pieces of her soul, and the scars life had made in her heart. But no tears flowed.

She let her wings take her where they wished, soaring past schools of fish and gardens of coral. They too her from the kingdom she’d ruled for too long, into the wilderness at the bottom of the sea. Where she could remember how to feel. Where she would remember who she was. Where she would once more become one with the sea.

300 Words
@LurchMunster


A little story I couldn’t resist writing for Cara Michaels‘s Race The Date flash fiction challenge. Hope you enjoy it. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge this week. I find it amazing the stories people can create in 300 words or less.

#MWBB 20 : Home

I left her. I got up that Monday morning, and got ready for work, like I had for years. I left the house precisely at 0715 hours, like I had on Mondays for years. But I didn’t drive to work. I drove. I left town, and I kept driving, heading west. I drove all day long, stopping only for food and restroom breaks.

I left her. I left my job. I left my home. I left my life. I had to.

As I drove, I remembered my parents, growing up in their home. I’d never known they were in love. They always screamed at each other. Night after endless night. I used to lie awake at night, listening to the front door slam as Dad left. Listening to Mother cry. Listening to the silence when she finally fell asleep on the sofa, Listening to the front door open as Dad got home, just before dawn. Listening to him stagger through the house to the bathroom, where he threw up again, from drinking himself sick.

As I drove, I remembered the night Mom stayed awake until he got home. He was drunk, of course. She screamed at him. He screamed back at her. They fought. I remember seeing the bruises on both of them at breakfast that morning.

As I drove, I remembered my brother’s wedding, how he and Tabitha had been so happy. I remembered how proud he was of his baby girl. How he got sick at work one day, heaving his guts into the toilet. How they sent him home that day, and he walked into his own home, where Tabitha was naked, sitting on a naked man he’d never seen, her legs straddling him, as she softly moaned.

As I drove, I remembered the niece I had once. How my brother covered her head with a pillow, suffocating her, then went to the garage of his home, locked the door, got in his car, and turned it on. How they found him the next day, cold as ice, with the car still running.

As I drove, I remembered the woman I loved so passionately. How she always wanted more. More of everything. How I had to stay in that job I hated, to keep buying her the things she wanted. How she never slept with me any more, or even slept in the same room as me any more. How she always went out at night, “with the girls”. How I wondered if who she was sleeping with.

As I drove, I remembered how she’d once been beautiful. How her smile faded away with time, being replaced by empty eyes, and lines of age on her face. How he figure changed from a beautiful hourglass to a pear. We used to hold hands, years ago. I wondered when that stopped. She used to kiss me good morning, and fix me breakfast. That too faded, until she never stirred when I woke to go to work, and breakfast became a can of soda, and a bowl of cold cereal with milk.

As i drove, I remembered how I’d once been in love with her. How that love had grown cold and died. Like the love my Mom and Dad once had. I knew that’s why people started homes. They were in love. And thought they always would be.

I left her on a Monday morning, while she was still asleep, and I was heading to work.

Because I remembered homes become cold, and lifeless, and slowly kill the people living in them. And I knew the only thing I could do for her, and for me, was leave. And in so doing, free us both from the trap our home had become.

624 Words
@LurchMunster


My entry, in all its unedited glory, for week 20 of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge.

There Are Days I Forget

There are days I forget.
Days I get lost.
Days like today.
When I feel empty.
When I feel wounded.
When I feel drained.
When I feel all wrong.

There are days I forget
Now.
Here.
This moment in time.
This place.
When I remember everything.
When I can’t find my way
Out of my past.
Out of what’s already done.

Other times
I get lost other ways.
Worrying about too many things
That haven’t happened.
That are not happening.
That may never be.
Lost in wondering about a future
That I can’t possibly know.
That I can’t possibly see.

And I can feel my jaw clinch.
And my pulse begin to race.
I can feel my anger build.
Fueled by all my fears.
And all the experiences
Of my life.

The seeds of self-doubt
Sewn so many years ago.
When everyone I knew
Told me I couldn’t be
Me.
Told me I had to be
Them.

It’s on days like this,
When I’m so lost.
So confused.
Remembering my past.
And worrying about things
That haven’t happened,
And may never be.

It’s on days like this
I have to sit down.
And stop.
And breath.
And close my eyes.
And remember.

Now.
This heartbeat.
This breath.

They taught me long ago
The air is invisible.
You can’t feel it.
You can’t see it.
How can you know it’s there?

Like so many things
I was taught
In the life that was,
What I learned
Was all a lie.

For I know
As I sit here on my own.
And I close my eyes.
And simply breathe.

I know.

I can feel the very air
All around me.

I can hold out my hands.
Spread my fingers out.
And I can feel the air
As it flows across my palms.
And between the fingers
Of my hands.

How can anyone believe
The air isn’t really there?
When you can touch it.
When you can feel it.
Everywhere.

So I sit,
Silent and alone.
On the sofa
In my home.
And I close my eyes.
And breathe.
Just breathe.
And feel.
Everything my body feels.

And it only takes a few heartbeats
For my body to remind me
Of the truth.

All I have,
And all I am.
I now.

In this breath.
In this heartbeat.

And there is nothing else.

There is no past.
It’s gone.
It’s done.
No one anywhere
Can go back and fix
Anything that’s happened
Already.

No one anywhere
Can even fix what happened
In the last heartbeat.
In the last breath.

There is no future.
Because it hasn’t happened yet.
And while it’s possible
To extrapolate,
And project,
The events that might happen,
Based on what’s happened
In the past.

But there’s no way
To guarantee
What will happen
In your next heartbeat.

So I sit here.
And I breathe.
And I remember.
Now.
This breath.
This heartbeat.

I sit here
And remember
Me.