Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2021/11/15 (Week 225)

Daddy always told me, “Never take anyone at face value.” Took me a lot of years to figure out what the hell he was saying, but eventually, I did figure it out. Never trust your first reaction to anyone. Never take anyone’s actions, or words, by how they appear. Always look deeper. Always learn who they really are.

Sitting in my chair at that meeting, Daddy’s words echoed in my head, and for good reasons. Every last person at that table had their own motives, their own agendas, their own goals. And none of them matched what they were saying.

Laura sat to my left. Pretty lady, and I admit that. But, pretty as she was, she had an ugly side when it came to the project. She was ruthless with the schedule. “George can finish this set of functions by a week from Sunday. Larry can get the new module written by then too. That way, Sue and Tim can test things out for 5 days, with George and Larry on call, to fix any problems they find in testing.  And in 3 weeks, we can have this update ready for production.”

So much in there she didn’t say. Like how George and Larry could spend all night, every night, during that time frame, getting the work done. After all, what’s 60, 70, even 80 hours of work, when Laura’s project management future was at risk?

Next to Laura was Steven. He was the project manager for the hardware team. He was like Laura. All business looking, never got mad, nice guy. And would crucify his wife and both his kids, if it meant the hardware was ready in time. Steve never worked a minute extra. That was what the hired help was for.

Across the table  from Laura was Henry, who was in charge of the project contract for the US Navy. Henry minced no words, and declared everything had better be ready for production on time, since it was going to be fielded in one month. Henry didn’t care how it got done, as long as it was done.

Across from Steven was Mr. Edwards. That’s it. He didn’t have a first name. He was Mr. Edwards. He worked for the base commander. “I find these timelines acceptable. I’ll be happy to inform the Admiral the update will be ready on time, and working.”

At the head of the table was the President of the company I worked for. “I’m glad we had this meeting, and have been able to straighten out the kinks in the plan, and clarify all the details.” The man would fire anyone who didn’t meet a deadline. Because. Not meeting a deadline made him look bad. No one was allowed to make him look bad.

There we all sat. At that table. At that meeting. And not one honest word was said.

“Remember, the contract does not allow for overtime, or comp-time. Only the flat rate 40 hours a week. That’s it.”

“Oh, we don’t work overtime. Our people know that. They plan ahead, and schedule things properly.”

Laura, Steven, Henry, Mr. Edwards, and the President, would all go home on time that afternoon. They’d eat dinner with their spouses, and their kids. They’d go to the PTA meetings, or the school orchestra performances, or the basketball games. They’d be there for their families.

George and Larry were working 65 hours a week, for 40 hours pay. Full time employees. Exempt from Overtime. No overtime for them. And they worked 65 hours a week, because they couldn’t afford to lose their jobs.

George told me he hadn’t seen either of his kids in the past month. He left the house each day before they got up, and worked until after their bedtime. His wife had stopped fixing any food of any kind for him. George was living on fast food breakfast biscuit sandwiches, black coffee, candy bars, potato chips, 4 16 ounce cans of energy drinks a day, and grocery store bought, throw it in the oven and cook it pizza at night. He was main lining ibuprofen, like a street junky mainlined crack.

Larry was divorced. His daughter never spoke with him. She’d sent him a birthday card a few weeks ago. She’d scrawled, at the bottom, “I hope you die soon, you  bastard.” He lived in a trailer park, and drove a 1981 Ford Pinto. I don’t know how he kept it running. Larry was brilliant. Larry was an alcoholic. Sometimes, he coughed blood onto his keyboard. No one in the company would touch Larry’s keyboard.

And there were Laura, Steven, and the President. Killing George and Larry.  And they knew they were killing them. So what? They were just expendable human resources. Tools to be used, and replaced when they broke.

And every deadline that got met, every birthday that happened, every time someone’s kids made honor roll in school, Laura, Steven, and the President all called time out, for cake and soda, to celebrate the occasion.

My Daddy said, “Never take anyone at face value.”

He was right. I always look deeper than that. I always look for what’s inside their cold, empty, ruthless, heartless souls. Just behind that facade they hide behind.

Who cares how many words

The picture for Week 225 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge got to me. I had to figure out how to put what it said to me into words others can read if they wish. 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.


Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2021/10/29 (Week 223)

It was one of those nights I was up stupidly late, because I couldn’t shut my brain cells down. They kept looking for answers. “Who owned the building before the incident?” “Who owns the building now?” “How do I figure out what a shell company is?” “How do I find her, before they make her destroy something else?”

It wasn’t the first time I passed out at my desk, with my head on my arms. “I’ll just close my eyes for a minute.” Boom! Out cold. Dreaming. And remembering.

Deborah had been in the same boat. Some rich, nasty guy owned her. Made her tell him what his business partners, and associates were feeling and thinking, so he could take advantage of them, and make himself richer. Thanks to her, he’d destroyed dozens of people’s lives. Left them in financial ruins. No one could ever find anything he’d done that was illegal.

That’s when I’d turned up, like the bad penny I am. Armed to the teeth, throwing hand grenades like a flower girl throwing flower petals at a wedding. “Here! Catch!” Shot my way in. Found her. “You asked for help?” Got her out of there.

And took months before I could walk again. I have no clue how many times I got shot. Anyone else would have died. Me? I’m a hidden one. You can shoot me a thousand times, and I’ll heal up, eventually. Not like those comic book characters. You cut my hand off, it’s going to stay off, not going to grow back. And I have scars. More than you can imagine.

Deborah had stayed with me as I healed. She’d hauled me to a hospital. They’d dug out pounds of shrapnel, and wondered why I wasn’t dead. “He’s just lucky, I guess.”

She knew I was a hidden one. Like her.

Like her, yeah. But not like her at all. See. Deborah was empty inside. After what that rich bastard had done, how he’d used her, and abused her, and all the other things men do to women, that women never talk about, everything inside her had died. She was nothing but an empty shell that looked like a woman, but had no dreams, no goals, no hopes.

I’d always tried to reach her, wherever she was. Draw her back into that body, so I could meet her. She’d never returned. Over 10 years since I’d gotten her out of that nightmare. And she’d never returned. All I knew was her name, that she was an empath, how old she was. She never even mentioned what she liked, what she hated, what she wished I would or wouldn’t do.

Not once. In over 10 years.

Now, I was looking for another one of us, another hidden one. This one could turn the air solid, and hit things with it, crush things with it.

As I slept, head on desk, I wondered if this new person was going to be as empty inside as Deborah. I wondered if maybe, this time, I should straight up kill the bad guy, instead of just rescuing the girl.

Have you ever slept at your desk, sitting in your chair, head resting on your arms, for hours? Waking up wasn’t fun that morning. But wake up I did. And Deborah was standing next to me, “You’re not a killer.”

“I know. The damage is already done. All I can do is get her out, so they can’t use her anymore.”

“I’ll fix you something to eat. You should get a shower.”

She didn’t say, “and take your pain killers.” She didn’t have to.

604 words

The picture for Week 223 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge got to me. I had to figure out how to put what it said to me into words others can read if they wish. 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.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2021/10/17 (Week 221)

Sitting on a blanket, on the floor of that long abandoned home, in the middle of nowhere, had to mean I was Fruit Loops. After all, no one packs a blanket, a sleeping bag, and a backpack full of munchies, to go spend the night in a house full of spiders, and god only knew what else. Yet, there I was.

It was a bit of a hike to get to. I’d been wandering around in the woods I’d inherited from my parents. They’d inherited them from my mother’s parents. 200 acres of nothing. Just one small house, made of cinder blocks, with all the electric wiring and plumbing running through the overhead. No carpets. No air conditioning. It did have a stove, a refrigerator, a washing machine, a kitchen sink, one toilet, and one bathtub. I didn’t know how anyone could live there.

But, I loved the woods. Mom and Dad knew that, so they left that useless chunk of land to me. Hell, they didn’t even know what all was on it. I figured, “I’ll go camping there a few times, explore the woods, then sell the place.”

Except, I never did sell it. I kept it. Because of the house no one knew was there. An old fashioned, one room shack, really, with a wood fired stove, and a pump for water behind the house. And one ancient piano. I suspected no one had lived there. Rather, they’d visited there, perhaps to enjoy the solitude.

I’d found it on my fifth trip to the woods. Takes a while to explore 200 acres of woods, you know. The first couple of trips I’d spent at the cinder block house. Set up a cot, and threw a sleeping bag on that. Used it as a base to explore a bit, and decide how I wanted to do things.

Decided to pack my one man tent, and sleep among the trees. Hadn’t found any dangerous animals, figured anything out there was as scared of me as I was of it. So why not? By sleeping in the woods, I could explore more of them, faster.

I’d spent the fourth night among the trees, listening to the crickets, and the frogs. Might have been a few small rodents out there, I heard some scratching, and some twigs breaking, and leaves rustling. But, nothing scary. I’d slept well. I always did when I was camping out.

The fifth day, after wandering around for hours, taking pictures, writing notes, I stumbled upon the shack. I figured, “Why not camp around here?”. I’d called it a day, and set up my tent. A banana, a couple handfuls of grapes, a can of soda, some peanut butter and honey, and some potato chips, and I was ready to call it a day.

I’d racked out in my little tent, shortly after the sun set, and closed my eyes, and fell asleep listening to the breeze rustle tree leaves, to the crickets chirp, and the frogs croak. It was a perfect night. I couldn’t remember when I was so happy, so relaxed.

The sound of a piano playing woke me up at just past 2 AM. It wasn’t animals. It wasn’t the breeze through the trees. It was, clear as could be, a piano. And for some silly reason, I had to find where it was.

I didn’t have to look far. It was the piano in the shack. That ancient piano, with the keys falling apart. On top of it, there was a candelabra, with candles glowing brightly, to fill the shack with light. And an old woman sat at the piano, playing.

She didn’t notice me when I first entered the room. She kept playing. A lovely piece of music I’d never heard. She played it until it ended, then smiled, as she rested her hands on the keys. Every note had been flawless. Something I knew that piano couldn’t do. She’d closed her eyes, “Ah, Liszt.  You wrote some marvelous tunes. Hard to play, but well worth learning.”

She’d turned to look out the window, and wound up looking square at me. “Oh, my.”

“Please. Play something more. That was beautiful.”

Now, I spend a weekend every month in this hidden shack, in the woods, that no one knows exists. And the soul of my great-great grandmother plays on the piano. And heals the wounds this world puts in my soul.

I don’t think I’ll ever sell the place. Who knows. Maybe, someday, I’ll live in these woods, and visit her every night, to listen to her play. Perhaps, even after I’m long gone, and someone else inherits this place.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2021/09/01 (Week 215)

They do not understand, and likely never will.

We are all alive, you know. All of us. Arranged in a hierarchy that never ends. The humans, bipedal, itty-bitty life forms, who live on my skin, play intellectual games, such as, “What if the Universe is alive?” “What if the planet is alive?” “What if the ocean is alive?”

It remains a mental exercise for them, nothing more.

They look at my lakes, surrounded by forests, grasslands, even piles of rock, and that’s all they see. A lake. A body of water. They don’t understand, I like to look at the stars at night, just like they do. They don’t understand, I watch the clouds of my breath. They call them clouds. “Masses of water vapor.”

No kidding. Just like the ones they make when they breathe out. The ones that fog their glasses, or tell them it’s cold. They don’t understand it’s me, breathing out.

The Humans don’t realize how their world works, don’t realize they are simple cells of a much larger life form. I find that fascinating. How, through their science, they’ve learned their bodies are made of tiny cells, and those cells are made of tinier parts, and those parts are made of even smaller parts, like proteins, DNA, RNA, and other molecules. They’ve learned that molecules are made of atoms, which are made of protons, neutrons, and electrons, which in turn are made of subatomic particles, including quarks.

It has never occurred to them that rocks are made of the same particles. So are grasses, fish, trees, dirt, and everything else. They can’t connect the dots, or perhaps, it’s more like they refuse to connect the dots, to see how they are part of my microbiome. Like the microbiome of their digestive tracts. Like the individual systems of their bodies, circulatory, nervous, skeletal. Like their organs. All made from specialized life forms. All those forms, working together to make a much larger life form.

For them, it all stops at their scale. At what they perceive as being similar to them. Some big, like whales. Some small, like mice. All, unique life forms. All made from cells, made from molecules, made from atoms, made from unimaginably small bits of matter and energy.

They don’t see the rivers, the lakes, the oceans, as life forms. Organs. Parts of something larger. Like their own hearts, blood vessels, veins, arteries, and even tiny capillaries. They don’t see me. Or the parts that make me. And they don’t see, and don’t realize, they are only a part of me.

It will be their end. As it has been their end before. As it will be their end over and over again. They are so small. So limited. They can’t see history. They can’t see the endless times they have sought their technologies, their civilizations, that which they call power, without understanding that my body, my immune system, my t-cells, and white blood cells, bring them back into their place, so they don’t harm me, don’t kill me.

I remember names of their worlds. Atlantis. Gobekli Tepe. Even the cities they had before the great flood 10,000 of their years ago. A flood that destroyed all their records, all their art, buildings, books, cities, everything. And left nothing but a few stones, scattered here and there.

I hope, some day, they learn, so I can use them to reach out to the other worlds, around other stars. So the other stars, and their solar systems full of planets, asteroids, dust, and gas, can join with our star, and the other worlds here. And become a community.

But, sometimes, with how humans are, I wonder if that will ever happen.

619 words

Holy crumbs! It’s been a while since I wrote for Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge! But, I saw the picture for week 215 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge and knew what I had to try to write. 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.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2021/04/04 (Week 193)

It was another week before I got out of the hospital. Something about life threatening injuries, broken bones, internal bleeding, something like that. All I knew was it hurt like hell.

Deborah had explained everything to me, during that week.

“You remember where we were?”

I didn’t.

She’d held up a picture. “It was a pretty little place.”

I did recognize the picture. “The old Hamlin building. The one they want to make a historical site.”

“Not any more they don’t.” Deborah held up a picture of what was left of the building.

“Holy shit. What the fuck happened?”

The entire front of the building was gone. I had no other way to describe it. The rest of the building was damaged. There was no fixing this building.

“I remember you said it was too late.” She’d nodded. “Then everything went black.”

She nodded again, “And the wind screamed.”

I thought about it, trying to remember, “Yeah. The wind screamed. I’ve never heard anything like it.”

“Me neither.”

“What was it. Bomb? Gas line? Some kind of space laser from up there somewhere?” I’d waved at the ceiling.

“No one knows.”


“No one knows. There’s no focal point, no point of origin, for the blast.”

“Can’t be. There has to be a point of origin.” My head had started to hurt. I didn’t need to be thinking that hard, and I knew it.

“Normally, yes. There’s no blast pattern either. No place on the front of the building with more damage than any other.”

“Can’t be. Uniform damage across the diameter of the blast doesn’t happen.”

“I know.”

“Then was it some kind of planned thing? Where everything was planted, and set to go off, and do the same damage everywhere?” I was thinking a planned demolition would have done the same damage across the entire front of the building.

“Harvey. There are no traces of explosives. None. Of any kind. Plastic. Thermal. Nothing.”

“No explosives?”

“None. They even called in the feds. And the feds found nothing.” Her eyes told me to stop asking what caused it. “No one can explain what happened.”

“Then how’d the building blow up?”

“Look, OK. Look at the picture. The building didn’t blow up.”

She was right. The damage was catastrophic, but was exactly the same kind of damage all the way across the front of the building. Nothing beyond the front of the building was destroyed. Knocked over. Jumbled. Glass broken. Papers blown toward the back of the building. Looked like you could clean everything up, and have a building someone had used a big ass saw on to lop off the front, so you could see a cross section of the interior.

“That’s not possible.”

Deborah had nodded. We’d sat there, neither one talking, for a while. I’d finally looked at the picture again, “And yet. There it is. It obviously happened.”

“It’s like your injuries.” She’d nodded at me. “Like how they describe your injuries.”

“How do they describe my injuries?”

“You don’t remember?”

I’d just frowned at her.

“OK. Let me tell you what they said.” She’d paused, to organize her thoughts. “They said it’s like a uniform shock-wave hit you.”


“Yeah. The same strength top to bottom, left to right.” She’d paused again. “Almost like you got hit by a wall of some kind. The doctors said it was like a wall of air ran into you. And because you were in the way, the air hit you, and didn’t reach me. Like you punched a hole in it that I fit through.”

She’d paused again. I’d looked at the picture again, and something snapped into place in my brain. “Crush damage.”


“The damage to the building. It looks like crush damage.”

It was her turn to stare at the picture.

“Deborah. It’s like someone stomped on a soda can. And crushed the entire front of the building.”

She’d looked shocked. Then her eyes had lit up. “That’s it! That’s what I was feeling!”

There I was, once more wishing I could understand what she felt. She was an empath, yes, but also something more. Sometimes I thought she could feel what the world around her felt.

“Harvey! That’s it!”


“It was a wall of air that crushed the front of the building!”

All I could do was stare at her.

727 words

The 3rd part of a story that’s writing itself, and telling me what to put on the pages. I have no idea where this is going. Part 3 is for Week 193 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. 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.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2021/03/29 (Week 192)

“Um. Zed? Is there more than one galaxy?” I had this bad feeling there was.

“They’re like marbles. They’re everywhere.” I guess my facial expression caused him to continue, “Why do you ask?”

“Um. Turtles.”

“What kind of turtles?”

“Big? And covered with mosses?”

“The space turtles from Orion?”

“I don’t know. I’ve only seen the one.”

He pushed a button on his desk, and a hologram displayed between us. It was of a turtle. At least 10 feet long. Covered in green mosses and lichens.

“Yeah. That’s what it looked like.”

“They come from Orion. Some of our residents keep them as pets. You almost never see one. They tend to keep them on the bottom of lakes in swamps. Like the one in under the muck in Lake Drummond, in Virginia.”


Zed did the math himself, and I didn’t have to explain why I’d asked. “You mean you saw a space turtle? And a galaxy?”

I nodded, “And the turtle ate the galaxy.”

Zed pushed another button, and J and K answered, their holographic selves hung over his desk. “We have a problem, guys.” Zed pointed at me.

J was the talker, and started first, “Hey, Epsilon! How’s the training coming?”

K glared, like always, “Shut up and let him explain.”

Zed tapped his fingers on his desk, “Well?”

Not knowing what else to say, I explained, “I saw a space turtle.”

“Those are ugly, aren’t they? All covered in green slimy stuff. Like that Swamp Thing from the comic books came to life, but uglier.” That was J. Always talking.

K cut in. “What did the turtle do?”

“Um. He ate a galaxy.”

“Oh, dear.” That’s all K said.

Zed took over, “We’re gonna need you boys to find that turtle, and get him off planet before his dinner is digested.”

J looked at K. “Is this a not good thing?”

K nodded. “It’s good if you want to swim in turtle shit 100 feet deep around the entire planet.”

J nodded, “So this is definitely a not good thing.”

K nodded at Zed, “We’ll handle it, Zed.”

“I’m counting on you, boys.”

The holographic display of J and K vanished. “I do hope they find that turtle in time.”

“Turtle shit 100 feet deep around the entire planet?” I had to ask.

“Well, Epsilon. It did eat an entire galaxy.”

395 words

I pretty much had to write this, when I told Miranda, “OK. So, MIB hasn’t done this one yet, where some giant moss covered turtle eats a galaxy…” And then she answered me with, “Write it for me!” How could I say no? So, for week 192 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge, we get a fan-fiction story about Men In Black. 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.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2020/10/28 (Week 171)

The observer sat in their pitch dark room, the only light shining from the monitoring devices, observing everyone she was directed to observe by the Law Enforcement Agents. It was a large list, with hundreds of names, but she kept observing, moving from one name to another, endlessly, and at random. That was the key to catching behavioral violations. Observation had to be unexpected, and at random, so no one could plan for them.

She was almost half machine any more. Her eyes gone, replaced by a digital and mechanical system that had a replay memory built into it. She could replay the last few seconds over and over, to determine if the observed behavior needed to be reported to Law Enforcement.

There had been a book, a work of fiction, at one time, about a world in which everything people do is observed, monitored, and if necessary, corrected. Where deviant thinking, and departures from managed lifestyles, were punished, and where those who exhibited such behavior, were re-trained. Taught the error of their ways. Corrected. And when they no longer exhibited such deviant behavior, they were released, although an asterisk was always next to their names on the list of those she observed.

The observer never wondered if there were other observers, she knew there were, she was only one of many. It took many to keep things right, to maintain order, to protect all there was, every life, every detail of life.

She’d reported a person the previous day, before she got to rest, and recharge with sleep, and sustenance. A male. White. What had his name been? S2315. That was it. S2315. He’d been exhibiting deviant behavior consistently for a time. Reading paper books, not watching entertainment, cooking, not requesting sustenance. Multiple violations. One violation here or there was normal. No one was perfect, all people made mistakes. It was when the violations became consistent, and deliberate, they needed to be reported. S2315 had become consistent, and the number of violations he made was growing.

She’d reported him.

She remembered him because Law Enforcement had given her a new directive to increase the frequency of observing him. It was them, collecting evidence, before they incarcerated him. Before they retrained him.

“Why do people become deviations?” It was a question she’d asked herself countless times. A question she couldn’t answer. It made no sense to her. Avoid deviations, and live a peaceful, happy, full life, with no chaos, no job losses, no massive debts, no ending up homeless, no going hungry. If you remained compliant, within the system, following the rules, life was good.

The observer knew why she watched. Why she reported. It was to keep others safe. To keep chaos from returning to the world. Chaos that nearly destroyed everything, and everyone, according to history. Where people went where they wanted, did what they wanted, believed what they wanted, ate what they wanted, and got themselves killed in accidents, or made themselves sick from consuming the improper foods and drinks.

The observer reported deviations, and endlessly watched for them. Because. Without her, chaos might return.

528 words

An idea that may tie into something I’m working on writing. Not even a draft, really. Too rough. But it’ll do for some words for Week 171 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. 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. Please go read them all.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2020/10/25 (Week 169)

“I like that. Looks good.” I know I wasn’t supposed to grin, certainly not a happy grin, but looking at that frigging angel’s blue wings nailed to my garage wall brought a big smile to me. “What that ass hole fucking deserved.”

Angels, I’m telling you. Sitting there, in the clouds, looking down at us, judging us, telling us, “God the Father said do this.” This one had been a guardian angel, you know the type, sent down to protect us from ourselves, watch over us, make sure we learn the ways of the Lord, all that shit.

Bitch didn’t take it well when I lopped off his head with a machete. I kept hearing that song from that old musical, “He had it coming. He had it coming. He only had himself to blame!”

I cut off those blue wings to remind me of him, and the chaos he caused in my life, and burned the rest of him into ash. Wasn’t murder, you know. Not according to the law. I didn’t kill anyone. By the law’s definition, it was like murdering a dolphin, or eagle. Sportsmanship. And then collecting a trophy.

I’d had to do it. Asshole gave me no other option. Wouldn’t answer any questions. Wouldn’t explain anything. Just stuck with “God said.”

“Yeah! I know! But why the fuck did God say?”

And really? Did God say, “Burn all the fags at the stake!” Really? Or, “White people are better than everybody else!” Really? God said that?

That’s the same kind of shit dictators say. Authoritarians. “I write the rules! You do what I order!”

So, there I was, in church, growing up, wondering how God could say, “Love your neighbor as yourself” in one sentence, and in the next declare, “Kill all the Muslims before they kill you, my people!”

I told those damn wings, nailed to my garage wall, “Yeah, you’re why I’m so fucked up!” But it was OK. I was free, finally. I could finally explore what right and wrong were. What good and evil were. Outside the control of some damn angel sent to beat me into following the straight and narrow path.

And I know God wasn’t happy, if that was indeed His angel I’d cut up, and burned to hell, as I stood there, looking up at the heaven He was supposed to live in, and told him, straight up, “Now I can find out for myself. Now, I don’t have all your Christians, and angels, and minions trying to make sure I behave. Now, I can figure out what good and evil are. And I can finally figure out what love your neighbor as yourself means. Without having some 4000 year old set of rules, written by other people like me, who were every bit as mortal, and error prone as I am, being shoved down my throat by some ass hole with fucking blue wings!”

Yeah. Take that you angels, and your God. It was time for me to figure out if people who were different from me were good or evil, or if it was some stupid ass social construct that declared they were evil.

528 words

Written in response to the prompt for week 169 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. 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. Please go read them all.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2020/10/18 (Week 170)

I suppose it’s what I deserved, for looking in the mirror. Even though I knew what I’d see, I looked anyway. I saw all that was left of me. Not my body. Not my skin, hair, clothes. None of what people look in a mirror to see.

I saw a dead, rotting, wasteland. Dead trees reached to the sky, their long dead trunks covered in molds and lichens, their leaves, in a thick layer on the ground that was slowly turning to dirt.

It was silent. Dead silent. I couldn’t hear anything. No birds, animals, even water in a stream, or leaves rustling on the ground. There was no wind, no clouds, no life at all. It was all dead. Dead, and rotting, turning back to the dirt it came from.

It wasn’t easy to look, especially since I knew what I was looking at. My brain knew, and heard my own words, echoing endlessly. “There’s nothing left of me. Nothing but the fire. Nothing but the anger, the rage. Everything else has been lost.”

It was my soul, in that mirror. My heart. All of it, dead. Everything I’d been, everything we are when we’re born, every dream we have, ever hope, ever feeling, laughter, sorrow, pain, joy, smiles, tears, all of it. Gone. Dead. And turning back into the dirt it had come from.

“You know, I did try to explain to them. I tried to tell them. I even said, more than once, there are parts of me that are gone, and I don’t care who you are, those parts aren’t coming back. They’re gone.”

“Anger destroys everything.” I seriously considered throwing something hard, and heavy, at that mirror, shattering it into a million bits of glass. I didn’t. I knew. That would only be another image of what was left of me. Tiny shards of glass, scattered everywhere, waiting to cut up the bare feet that walked across them, waiting to sink into the fingers that tried to gather them up, and make the ground safe to walk on once again.

“Anger destroys everything.” I couldn’t even remember where I’d read those words.

That’s when I told the mirror, “It’s all I had. This world,” I looked around, even glanced out the window, “there was no other way I could be.”

Perhaps another man would have cried, mourned for the loss of his soul, felt the emptiness of the shell that was his body. But that wasn’t me. I’d mourned decades ago, when I realized I couldn’t survive in this world, that this world would drive me, little by little, day after day, into insanity.

“Well. At least I did my best with what I did have. At least I tried to do something positive, something good.”

There was an old phrase I’d learned, over 30 years ago, “Even doing the right thing, for the wrong reasons, is wrong.”

I still didn’t know how to respond to that thought. Was it wrong to take rage, anger, hatred, and do something positive with them? All because rage, anger, and hatred were wrong to start with?

“Wonder if I’ll ever learn an answer to that?” I asked the desolation in that mirror. “Or is it not possible for a destroyed soul to learn anything?”

546 words

Written in response to the prompt for week 170 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. 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. Please go read them all.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2020/09/21 (Week 163)

“There’s this thing about history that no one teaches you,” sometimes roaming city streets was a better teacher than any book.

It was Cinthia who asked the first question of the trip, “What do you mean, professor?”

“I won’t tell you, because you won’t really understand.” I kept walking across the parking lot, to the road, where the city was putting in new fiber optic cable. “You’ll remember the lesson that way.”

“Why are we outside, in the cold, and the dark, at stupid o’clock?”

“Ah, Beverly. We are here to learn this.” I stopped, and pointed at a space on the pavement of the road, next to the trench the construction crew had dug for the cable. “What do you see?”

Cinthia didn’t disappoint me, “History.”


The asphalt surface of the road had come up next to the cable trench, most likely because of ground stresses, as the adjacent pavement  had been ripped up, along with everything beneath it. The missing asphalt revealed cobblestone pavement.


“Yes, Beverly. Brick. And you won’t find a record of it anywhere in the city’s archives, blueprints, road plans, or anywhere else.” I took a picture of the brickwork, “It’s what the road was made of before the layers of asphalt.”

“You mean, there was a  time the road through here was brick?”

“Yes. It clearly was.”

The entire reason I was at that location was to record everything I could about what had been found. The trench for the cable cut straight across several layers of earlier construction. When the construction team spotted the brick, and the other layers, they’d stopped work, and reported their discovery, as they were required to do.

In response, the city requested an archeological team to examine the discovery, and determine if the layers needed to be preserved.

“And what,” I looked squarely at Cinthia, “do the layers here, and in the trench we are about to explore, tell us.”

“There’s more to history than what is written down.” Cinthia didn’t disappoint. But then, she never had. Sometimes, I thought she already knew how history worked, how archeology worked, and how the past wasn’t recorded, but was forgotten, and rewritten into something that worked better for the current day and age.

We examined the nearby trench, and found several layers of history, two layers of earlier brick, a layer of gravel, and through it all, several layers of electrical cables, and pipes, all of which were no longer used.

“No one knew this was here. Because. Whoever writes the history of a place, of a people, of a nation, only writes what they want those who come after them to see. Only writes what fits their beliefs, their understanding, of the place, and the people who live there.”

Cinthia once more didn’t disappoint me, “Like now. How things in our history people don’t want to remember are being erased from the books.”

“Yes. Just like now.”

490 words

Written in response to the prompt for week 166 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. 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. Please go read them all.