Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/01/08

It was exactly what I’d wanted. A small place, private, isolated, away from the train wreck of the human race. With no phone, no television, no internet. Absolutely nothing. No one could call me, no one could knock on my door trying to sell me shit, no one could walk in, and shoot me in the middle of the night while I slept. No sirens could go off, no cars would wreck, and kill people.

It was perfect. I signed the paperwork, and plunked down every dime I’d ever saved. In a couple of days, I’d moved to my island. My own, private island. Hell, there wasn’t even a house on it. No hills. Nothing. And I didn’t care, because there were no people.

I sit on my beach every night, and watch the sun set. I watch it rise every day. A beach is only a short walk, in any direction. Sometimes, sea birds pass through. They eat everything, but that’s OK. I can always go fishing in my tiny boat. Sometimes, turtles show up. They nest on my island every year. I get to watch hundreds of tiny turtles dig out of the sand, and wander toward the water. They have better odds since I showed up. I tend to scare off the birds, and I’ve eaten the predators that were here. It’s kind of fun to watch over the nests, and see the babies hatch.

Turtles are simple. Birds to. Not like the humans I’ve abandoned. Lord, but humans are hosed up, aren’t they. Everything about money, and material goods, and each of them getting theirs.

I’ve named everything. Birds, turtles, lizards, fish, insects. There are a few insects I don’t like. Like that one with the nasty bite. First time I got bit by that thing, it was two weeks before I could use that hand again. Holy crumbs. I named that whole family, “Son of Sam”, because, they exist only to kill me. I see one of those, and I drop a coconut on it, like 500 times, to make sure it’s dead.

The spiders are fun, and they leave me alone. I get to watch them make their webs, in the brush. They make big caverns in the sand, and hide there, building little communities. And every year, when the babies hatch, little spiders hang from little parachutes, and the wind blows them who knows where.

It’s quiet here. I like that.

Marla, the one human I liked, told me, “You can’t move to an island in the middle of nowhere. You’ll never survive. We’re people. We’re humans. We need contact with each other.”

Ha! That was years and years ago. She wanted to have a job, work in an office with hundreds of other people, drive in the chaos each day. Cars streaming down roads, almost like blood flowing through veins, keeping society alive. Keeping the money flowing. And always needing a new car, and a new house, and new clothes, and new shoes. It never ended.

I got tired of it. The artificial nature of it. Of feeling like a single, useless cell in a giant life form, with no life of my own. Just another skin cell in the human organism, with no control over what that organism did, how it lived, what it cared about.

I wanted to be me. To feel alive. To feel complete. Whole. Independent. To decide everything for myself. When to eat, when to sleep, when to work, and what to work on. When to watch the clouds, or the ocean. I couldn’t do that in the world of humans. The world of people.

I can here. On my own, little island. In my own, little world.

Here, I’m free.

You can keep your world. Your societies. Your cities, and towns, and churches, and shopping centers, and wars, and guns, and everything else. Go ahead. Be the cells in some big, nebulous organism called society.

I don’t miss that at all.

664 words
@mysoulstears


 

It’s week 88 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. I never know what the picture will cause me to write. I get an idea, and have to let the words happen. This week, these words showed up.

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.

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.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/02/11

Raine peaked out the window, and took one last look at the sunshine. “The trees look lovely today, don’t they?” She laughed at herself. No one was there to ask. Just her. Everything was ready. It was time.

She felt the warmth of the brooch on her necklace, right above her heart, where it should be. Where it had been since she’d found it. A necklace with a golden glow, like a bright candle in a dark room.

The necklace stayed in her apartment. She never wore it in public, in part because the necklace had asked her not to. She knew others would laugh at that. “Necklaces don’t talk.” That’s what they’d say.

And she’d have to respond, “No. But fairies do.”

The fairy, Liliana, had watched over Raine, since that day, years ago. “One day, Raine, it will be time for me to return to my home.”

Raine had asked many Liliana many questions about her home. It was a different world. In a different time, and place. A world of moonlight, elves, fairies, dwarfs, pixies, and humans who had no other home.

Raine fell in love with that world. A world where she didn’t have to put on a business dress each day, and march to work, and spend eight hours answering a phone, and scheduling appointments for the doctor. A world where she didn’t get yelled at when the doctor had to make an emergency run to the hospital to help stitch together a gunshot or stabbing victim, and it inconvenienced a mother who had to be home in time to care for her children. A world where she didn’t cry when the doctor took a pill to deaden the pain of having watched someone’s heart stop beating, and then having to get yelled at by a father whose son had a concussion, and wouldn’t be able to play football on Saturday.

A world where she didn’t have to walk with the other girls, just to go to the restroom, or the grocery store. Where she could eat her fast food lunch at a table without some guy asking her if she’d like company, and calling her a whore if she said no. Where she wouldn’t fall for some guy who took her out, and charmed her, and treated her like a princess until he found a prettier model, and dumped her.

She pulled off her shirt, and bra, and looked at the fairy broach. She heard Liliana so clearly, “It’s almost time.” She pulled off her shoes and stockings, and stood only in her skirt. “Are you ready, Raine?”

Raine nodded.

“Don’t be frightened. It’s just how quantum mechanics work. How entanglement works. When quanta from one place become linked to those in another. Especially if the two places don’t have the same laws of physics.”

Raine did what Liliana had taught her, and moved the broach behind her back. It’s warmth helped calm her. “Raine. Now it starts.”

The world started to go insane. Outside, the sunshine continued. The trees were as beautiful as ever. But inside, the room began to fill with water. Ocean water. From a rock strewn beach. Rain found herself standing in that water. The door to the room vanished, replaced by a night time sky, with a full moon, and dark clouds, and more of the ocean she was in. The door frame appeared to catch fire.

“Take me home, Raine. Please. Take me home.”

Raine stepped through the ocean, through the door frame.

And she was gone.

The room was as it had always been. Her clothes rested neatly in a pile on the floor. The sun still shined.

But Raine was gone, never to be found, never to be seen again, in our world.

@mysoulstears
627 Words.


Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 41st week. You can read about her small fiction challenge here. This week, I knew what I wanted to say. Don’t know if I said it, but at least I tried. 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.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/01/28

Marty took the pill, washed it down with his whiskey. Kept drinking the whiskey until it burned. “Ah, yeah!” He closed his eyes, and waited, even though he knew, when he closed his eyes, his mind wandered. And he thought of things. Things he kept trying to forget. Like the rent payment. The car payment. The credit card payment. The power payment. The grocery bill. The list was endless. “Fuck, they’ll charge you to breathe before you know it.”

Sometimes, Marty thought about what he was doing. Washing down an unknown, undefined chemical concoction he bought with his last $10 bill, with the contents of his last bottle of whiskey. “Pills and whiskey never mix, right?”

It was OK, though. It was OK. Because. The whiskey burned on the way down. It gave him something to focus on, standing up to the burn. Seeing how much he could take. The first time he’d tried, he managed one swallow, and almost choked. Now, he could drain almost half a bottle in one shot.

“Lord, kill me now,” he thought for the billionth time. “Just kill me, and set me free.” His eyes still closed, he tried to detect the change in his feelings, in the things he felt, the whiskey and drug would bring. It only took a minute. Maybe two. Before he felt that flush, that sudden rush, like every nerve in his skin had come to life. Like he could feel the wind blowing, the sun shining on his face, the heat of the concrete sidewalk through his shoes.

Instead of being numb. Instead of wishing the ache in his head would stop. That ache nothing could ever kill. Except the whiskey and the pills. Instead of feeling empty, like he was waiting for his body to die, so he could stop worrying about everything.

Instead of feeling like his guts were twisting around a pole wrapped in barbed wire, as he bit his tongue so hard he drew blood again, so he didn’t say anything to the boss. As he nodded, and lied, “I’m on it.” As he did whatever he had to do to hang on to his job. “I’ll stay here until it’s done.”

Gods, he hated those words. That meant he’d be there hours. Sometimes all night. Getting the work done. Doing what he had to do to keep his job. Calling home and telling his wife, “I’ve got to work late.” Listening to her bitch and moan about it. Funny how she didn’t care about anything but the money he made. Take away her house, her car, and she’d leave him.

Everything was money. Everything was that damn job.

Marty knew he was a walking dead man. One with no dreams. No hopes. No laughter. Only pain. Only emptiness. Like the guy at work who died in the car wreck. Marty worked next to him for six years. Then one day, he was dead. A week later, someone else was working next to Marty. Just another human resource. Another person who’d do whatever it took to hang on to the job.

“Enough thinking,” Marty opened his eyes. It was time to enjoy the escape. The precious moments of time where he would be free from everything.

“Woah, dude…” He almost lost his balance. Everything was wavy. The street wasn’t flat. It looked more like corrugated cardboard. The buildings too. And the cars. And the people. “This is so cool.”

He slowly walked along the sidewalk, careful not to bump into anyone. Not to step off the curb, into the street. The distraction was exactly what he needed. He knew, as long as it lasted, he wouldn’t think about anything, feel anything. All the shit in life would stay away from him.

Until it faded.

Until he needed another pill, and another shot of whiskey. To escape the hell of life once more. “Maybe one day I’ll get lucky. And this will kill me.” He knew he wouldn’t mind being dead. At least he’d be free.

670 words
@mysoulstears


Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 39th week. You can read about her small fiction challenge here. This week, I knew what I wanted to say. Don’t know if I said it, but at least I tried. 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.

#MidweekMusings 1×13 : Freedom

I sat in my recliner, watching the TV. Some stupid show about how aliens had visited Earth in the past, and shared science and technology with us, and that’s how we started advancing as humans. I’m sure it all made sense to some people, but to me, it was flat silly.

As I watched, I thought about everything. My job. My art. My life. I was old enough, the kids had grown up, and left the house. I wasn’t sure if I was proud of them standing on their own, as a sign I’d been a successful parent. Or if I was sad at the struggles they faced daily, a sign of my failures as a parent. It was one of those questions you ask yourself, but can never find an answer too. Always, you wonder how you did, and what that means about you, what that says about you.

I doodled. I did. I drew things on paper. Stupid things. Fairies with butterfly wings, bugs with big eyes and stupid grins. I even had this idea for a bug civilization, where big bugs were busses, with advertisements on the sides, and windows, filled with little bugs looking out. And bug traffic everywhere, with bug street races, and bug old people. I know. Silly, right? It wasn’t a serious thing, just something I did, something fun.

I must have had three dozen notebooks of doodles, sketches, drawings. It was a hobby for me. I’d never taken it seriously, never thought of selling any of my sketches. Hell, I’d never thought of finishing any of them, cleaning them up, making them worth looking at.

I doodled. That’s what it was. Something fun, something to pass the time, something to help me relax. It wasn’t real, after all, I wasn’t doing that for a living.

What I did for a living was work. Full time, like a grown up’s supposed to. Work a full-time job, be responsible, be grown up, be professional. All that stuff you learn in school. That’s what school was for, wasn’t it? You went to school to learn how to get a job, and earn a living. A decent living. Where you could buy a house, get married, have a family, send the kids to college. So they could do the same thing.

I suppose my work defined me. Or, you know, maybe I let my work define me. I let what I did at work define me. That old question, “And what do you do for a living?”

I worked. I worked for a good company. They paid me well, gave me medical insurance, two weeks of vacation every year, five days of sick leave if I needed them. It was good money, a good deal. We’d done well with my work, we had cars (three of them), a roomy house, and all the trappings. TVs everywhere, computers, smartphones. All that crap.

My reflection in the TV screen spoke volumes when I noticed it. And I tried not to notice it. The tubby, balding white guy sitting on his lazy ass, drinking a zillion calorie soda, eating peanut butter fudge cookies, watching some stupid TV show in the middle of the night. The old white guy at the end of his life.

I didn’t want to see that, didn’t like my reflection in the TV screen. I grabbed the remote, and started surfing the channels, mindlessly clicking through them, until I stopped at the music video channels. I figured I’d watch some of the women sing. You know, one of two of the girl bands, where they dress in skin-tight outfits, with barely present skirts, and push up tops that make their boobs look bigger than they are. And they shimmy their hips, and shake their boobs lots while they sing and dance around. That was always fun to watch, right?

But that night, it wasn’t. I kept thinking how I was probably older than their parents were, or at least as old as their parents. About how my daughter might be older than the girls in the group. How those girls dressed up, and shook it, for money. How they took advantage of the truth of men spending money to watch them, and have fantasies about them.

Hell, I hadn’t had any sex with anyone in ages. I couldn’t remember the last time I had, and it didn’t matter. I wasn’t really interested in that anymore. I was too tired, too old. I’d outgrown it, I supposed. But, it was everywhere on that music channel. The ads between the videos were for women’s sexy underwear, bras and panties, always lacy. And the models had big tits, and big asses. The kind of woman a twenty something guy wants to get naked with.

All those reminded me of was my daughter being older than the models.

I changed channels, and stopped at one where a guy in jeans was singing. Lots of scene changes, of course, it was a music video. But he was singing something about freedom. And that got me thinking.

Yeah, my reflection was still there, in the TV screen. My fat, lazy ass was still there, collecting dust. Hell, if I was a car, I’d have been a Junker in the back field somewhere, with weeds growing out of my front end, where my hood was gone, and the engine too.

That’s when I kept hearing that damn song echo in my head. That word, freedom.

I started drawing that night. And for once I finished a picture. Maybe that was where I’d find the freedom the guy in the song kept singing about. And that got me thinking. And thinking would change everything.

950 words
@LurchMunster


For week 1×13 of #MidweekMusings, a flash fiction adventure hosted by #FlashMobWrites (Ruth Long and Cara Michaels). Please, go read all the stories for this week’s prompt.

#MWBB Week 3.01 : Freedom

You, with your job.
Your house.
Your cars.
Your children.
You do not see
Or understand.

You go to work five days a week.
Through endless weeks.
And months.
And years.
In a job you hate.
A job which slowly nibbles away
Your very soul.

Until there’s nothing left.

You know the truth.
Somewhere.
Buried under all the lies you’ve told yourself.
The pictures you painted of success.
Of the American Dream.
A dream the tells you how to live.
What to think.
And what to dream.

You, with your job.
Take your headache pills each day.
To numb the aching in your head.
An ache that always starts
Once you get to work.
One you never have on weekends.
Or holidays.
But every day at work.
And you never wonder why.

You sit at a desk five days a week.
Wishing you were somewhere else.
Belittling yourself.
“You have work to do, damn-it!”
“Get your lazy ass together!”
“Do your fucking job!”

You know the truth.
Somewhere.
It tries to speak to you at night.
On those long, sleepless nights.
When you toss, and turn.
And stare at the ceiling,
In the darkness.

There’s nothing wrong.
This is how things are.
How they will always be.
How they’ve always been.
You’re a grown up.
Mature.
Responsible.
You have a good job.
It pays well.

Damn.
Anyone would love to have your job!
Anyone would love to make
The money you make.
Hell, the benefits alone would make the job
Worth any misery for some folks.

Everyone knows that.

You know that.

As you stay up late at night.
Studying for that test next week.
That certification test.
The one you have to take.
Have to pass.
To keep the job you have.

It doesn’t matter how you feel.
It never has.
The truth lies trapped inside you.
You dare not let it out.

Because you can’t afford
To lose your job.

Remember the times you wanted to scream?
To call the boss an idiot.
“You don’t know what the fuck you talking about!”
“That can’t be done!”
“You want it when?”

You never did.
Never said a thing.
Instead.
You ground your teeth together.
Until your jaw ached.
That ceramic crown on your molar,
The one on the top left.
You know how you got that.
That tooth cracked under the stress.

You know the truth.
Somewhere deep inside.
Pretending you are free to do
Anything you want.
Knowing you’ll do anything you have to do
To keep the job you have.

Swallow your pride.
Do what you’re told.
Be where you’re told.
And be there when you’re told to.
Wear this.
Not that.
Shave every day.
And wear business clothes.
After all.
You have to look the part
Of a professional.

All you are is a little cog.
In a big machine.
And if you break.
If you don’t do your part.
You’re easily replaced.

For the truth you’ve buried
In the ground.
With your heart and soul.
Is something you’ve always known.
And can never talk about.

The people you work for.
The job you’ll do anything to keep.
The life you’ve worked so hard to have.
The wife and kids.
The house,
The cars,
The yard.

That life is who you are.
It’s all that’s left of you.
It owns you.
You have no freedom left.
And all you’re dreams have died.

So, lie awake in bed each night.
And wonder why you cannot sleep.
And wash your pain pills down each morning
With an ocean of caffeine.

And lie to yourself.
Until the truth is gone.
And you believe once more.
You’re free.

And everything’s exactly
Like that dream you had.
So many years ago.

620 Words
@LurchMunster


Welcome to year 3, week 1 (Week 3.01) of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. This week the prompt is the song, “Freedom” by Anthony Hamilton and Elayna Boynton. Please, go read the other stories in this week’s challenge.