Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2020/06/24 (Week 163)

I don’t know why she followed me, and I couldn’t figure out if I was glad she had, or if I wished she was anywhere else.

“So. This is where you wander off too.”

I didn’t say anything. Hell, I wasn’t sure if I could find any words, even a simple yes, or no. I wasn’t sure if I felt like she was an invader into my world, into one of my safe places, or if I was happy to see her, to see she’d finally followed me. Whatever I felt, I’m not sure it mattered right then. With her there, I couldn’t hide, not from her, not from me.

I nodded, and turned away from her, my hands shoved as far as possible into my pockets, and everything inside me screaming something different.

“This empty field? This is where you come?”

I wanted to answer, I really did. I wanted to tell her I went there to escape the noise, and the chaos in my head. The voices that were screaming at me, and arguing with each other, as I tried to figure out why everything had gone so wrong, so suddenly. But, those parts of me, the ones that were in my head, screaming at each other, made it where I couldn’t.

She seemed to know that, to understand that. I heard her thinking, I swear I did. But I couldn’t tell you what, I couldn’t hear her over the screaming in my head, over the angry, scared, confused, frustrated, impatient, and wounded voices in my head that kept screaming, endlessly.

I don’t know why she did it, but she walked up next to me, and didn’t say a thing. Not one word. She just stood there.

I was a wreck. The screaming was so loud, so overwhelming, I couldn’t escape it. I looked at my hands, something I always did. Like I was blaming them for everything. Blaming them for being alive, being able to feel anything. The wood from a table top, the Formica on a counter, the cold steel of a metal kitchen sink.

The texture of the skin on her hand as she took mine, and laced her fingers between mine, and waited, I have no idea how long, for my hand to stop shaking, and finally, slowly, respond to her, by holding her hand as she held mine.

“I sometimes wonder,” I heard her voice, magical, like music, like a favorite song, that somehow cut through all the noise, all the chaos, “why the lake dried up, why the stream died.” I know she looked at the ground, dried, broken dirt, where a stream had been.

That cold, heartless part of me answered her, “For the water.”

She didn’t answer, she simply kept holding my hand, as the screaming in my head started to fade, and the voices fell quiet, one by one.

“I come here because it’s quiet, and I can…” I couldn’t figure out the words to say, “Sometimes I need the quiet.”

Somehow, I managed to look at her, at her face, with those eyes, and that magic smile. I don’t know why, I don’t know what happened to me when I did. But I always felt safer, calmer, when I did. Somehow, she could always reach me, when no one else ever had. She could always reach past the chaos, to me.

“I come here because it’s quiet, and I can escape the chaos.”

“The chaos?”

“Yeah. The chaos. Inside of me.”

There was that smile, like when the sun comes out after a big storm, when it first breaks through the clouds, and the world gets lighter, more colorful. She kept holding my hand, “What do you feel, right now?”

“I…” I realized I couldn’t answer. Not because I didn’t feel something, but because I felt everything. I felt too much.

“You’re safe with me, you know.”

I nodded, because I couldn’t talk.

“And maybe, together, we can help you learn what you feel. And not be afraid to feel.”

I knew she understood. I didn’t know how to live with me. Didn’t know how to live with everything I felt. And the voices in my head were my emotions, screaming at me.

“I come here to hide. Somewhere safe. Alone. Until I can get back in control.”

And we stood there, her holding my hand, until I could breathe once again. Until the screaming in my head was gone.

744 words
@mysoulstears


Written in response to the prompt for week 163 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 : 2020/06/08 (Week 160)

Nathan James was one hell of a fruit-cake. I couldn’t come up with any other way to describe him, yet, there I was, out in the middle of nowhere, in a factory town attached to what had been an open pit mine, to interview him about his pet project.

“That’s a rather big hole in the ground, Mr. James.”

“Needs to be. Only way to make it deep enough.”

I hoped the video team was getting lots of footage of the Caterpillar 797 dump trucks driving in and out of that hole. “They tell me you are trying to prove hell exists?”

“It’s true.” Nathan nodded. “I’m going to dig here until we reach it. Then, no one can say it doesn’t exist.”

From the air, looking down at the pit, it looked like they’d dug a mountain sized hole. “How far do you think you have to dig?”

“30 to 40 miles.”

I kept reminding myself to not laugh, I was doing my job, making an interview for the news program. A human interest story. I had to wonder how many humans would be interested in this guy. “That’s a long way. The deepest we’ve ever dug is 7.5 miles, and it took them 20 years to get that deep.”

“That was a bore hole.” Nathan nodded. “Only 9 inches wide. That’s why it took so long to get that deep. They couldn’t use better techniques.”

I looked at the pit again. “Better techniques?”

“We’re able to drill small holes, and use explosives to fracture the rock. We can also move around large blockages. They couldn’t.” Nathan looked outside. “It’s like clearing a path for a road through the mountains.”

It defied my imagination, “How wide would you have to build this to get 30 miles deep?”

“Don’t really know. No one’s ever tried.” He laughed.

“And you’re convinced it’s there?”

“Oh, it’s there. Down where the rock melts, and gets soft. The heat and the pressure down there is hell. Literally.” He paused, “They gave up drilling when the heat and pressure got so much, the bits stopped working. You can’t go deeper unless you make an open pit.” He paused again. “The pressure and heat melted their drill. They had to use titanium and diamond to drill. Very expensive.”

“Did they reach hell?”

“No, they did not. They barely got deep enough to notice any signs that it’s down there.”

I wanted to ask him about science, about how spherical planets form, and how gravity, heat, and pressure melts the interior, and it separates into layers, heaviest at the center, and lightest at the surface.

It was like he knew that, “I’m also proving the flat earth people are fruit loops.” Nathan laughed. “You might want to use another set of words.” He laughed more. “You can’t have those layers in a flat earth. To do that, you need a round, spherical object. Also demonstrating you can’t dig through the flat earth. That you dig through layers.”

I stared out the window at the pit a moment, “Have you found anything interesting so far? Do you expect to find interesting things as you dig?”

“We have found a few fossils. The deeper we dug, the further back in time we went. But, we’re deep enough at the center now that we’re past the fossils. Now, it’s unknown bacteria.”

“Unknown bacteria?”

“Yes. That stuff lives in the harshest conditions. Any kind of crack in the rock, any kind of surface, they turn up. Living on the heat, and on minerals.”

“How will you know when you find hell?”

“That will be where damned souls are. We won’t be able to see them any more than you can see them now. But we’ll know they’re there. We’ll sense their screams of agony.”

“Agony?”

“Where they get endlessly crushed, and burned, and ground to nothing.”

I must have looked pretty funny when he said that, because he continued. “When we reach the place where nothing could possibly live. That’s when we’ll have found hell.”

It was the strangest interview I’d ever done, interviewing a filthy rich fruit cake with a pipe dream of finding hell, and proving it exists. Don’t think it’s what I’d have done with all those billions of dollars.

713 words
@mysoulstears


Written in response to the prompt for week 160 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 : 2020/05/19 (Week 157)

“It’s a book,” she pointed at the book I was reading. “A purple one, with gold letters, and this candle thing on the front.”

I nodded, and kept reading.

“Why do you waste your time reading so many books?” She plunked down on the sofa next to me. “There’s so much to do in the world. So many places to go. So much to see.”

I nodded, and kept reading.

“And you sit here, reading books all day.”

Carefully, I placed my folded sheet of paper I used as a bookmark between the pages, and closed the book. “Yes, I do.”

“Why?” She grabbed my book, and put it on the far end of the sofa from me. “There’s so much to life, and you read books? Why not do something fun?”

There are times when words are useless, and I knew this was one of those times. There were no words to explain my fascination with books to her. She would not understand any words I said. Which is why I started saying them anyway.

“They change me.”

“What?”

“The books. They change me.”

“Oh, really.” She gave me a good look over, “You look just like you did this morning. Nothing changed about you.”

“They change me anyway.”

“How can books change you?”

“I learn from them.”

At first, she didn’t answer. Then, all at once, “You learn from books, but you don’t learn from life?”

“Of course I learn from life.”

“Then why do you read so many books?”

“To learn more than I can from life.”

“What more is there to learn?”

There it was. The reason she would never understand a word I said. Her mind was closed, she’d already determined books were a waste of time. “OK. Tactic change.” I made certain I didn’t look at her eyes, I knew, if I did that, I’d give up instantly, and do whatever she wanted. “Why do you watch movies?”

“The same reason everyone watches movies, silly. To escape reality.”

So much for that idea. I could hear her thinking, “You read to escape reality? Seriously?”

“OK. That’s not going to get anywhere either is it?” Any discussion I could have had with her was already over, and I knew it. “You already know all the answers to everything, don’t you.”

“No, silly. No one does.” I thought she was going to laugh for a moment, “I know what I need to know, and that’s more than enough.”

I wanted to ask her about all the religions of the world. Then about the languages, and why there were so many, and why different languages allowed people to say things they couldn’t say at all in other languages. I wanted to ask her about politics, and Conservatives, and Liberals, and Socialists, and Marxists, and a thousand others.

I didn’t.

I already knew. Her mind was closed. She’d picked one religion, one language, one political viewpoint. And she’d closed everything else down.

“That’s not enough for me.” I reached past her, and picked up my book. “It never will be.”

“Idiot.” She stood up, and walked off. I didn’t know where. I thought about following her, maybe apologizing. Maybe doing something like taking her to dinner, and a movie, and spending time with her.

But she was so small. So limited. So set in her ways.

The thought occurred to me, perhaps I should be sad because I’d grown apart from her, and she from me. I was still sitting there, thinking, when I heard the door to the apartment slam.

“This can’t be fixed, can it.”

I swear I heard the walls of the room answer me, with a quiet, “No.”

614 words
@mysoulstears


Written in response to the prompt for week 157 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 : 2020/05/06 (Week 156)

The team of Russian, French, Japanese, Chinese, and German scientists, and their heavily armed escort, worked their way through the remains of Oklahoma City. Half of it was rubble, melted glass, and scorched ground. The other half still stood, though it clearly needed repair.

They’d seen too many bodies on their walk already. Bodies in every city, and every town. Many of them as charred as the ground, others as damaged as what was left standing. In the cities, and towns, almost no one survived.

The French team checked their radiation exposure badges, “We may have 30 minutes left.” Then they resumed measuring the radiation levels of everything. Dirt, parts of bricks, chunks of concrete, melted pavement, everything.

The Russian team took pictures of everything, hoping the pictures could provide a three dimensional digital reconstruction of the area, so they could identify where the cruise missile had impacted the ground.

The Chinese placed markers every 10 feet, in a square pattern, to help measure the size of the area the blast had leveled. Several of them knelt, and silently prayed to whatever gods there were, that this never happened again.

The Japanese and the Germans worked on air flow patterns, cloud cover, humidity, temperature, and general records about the environment. Several of them spoke quietly to each other of how the Americans had sown the wind, and sadly reaped the whirlwind.

All of them knew they would find nothing alive. No people. No cats, dogs, rats, birds, snakes, squirrels. Nothing. Nothing would have survived the power of the blast, and the overwhelming dose of neutron radiation it released.

One of the Russians stopped his work before a steel door, embedded in the remains of a rebar wall. The door stood alone, the building it had been part of was gone, nothing but piles of debris here and there.

The other teams stopped when they saw him standing before that door, and they joined him.

Somehow, by some magic unknown to human science, the door still stood, and the paint on it had not burned away, nor was it black or charred.

It was a painting of a man. He was crouched down, one hand touching the ground, the other his head. None of them knew what it meant. The Russians took pictures of the door, from every angle.

Too soon, their time was up, and the transport helicopters touched down, they boarded them, and were carried away, to the safety of the heavily shielded research base the United Nations had constructed to support their research.

The Chinese and Japanese scientists spoke frequently of what had happened, and why, and how many lives had been lost, and how much of the world would be uninhabitable for centuries. The Japanese were the most experienced with post nuclear blast recoveries, and their insight was highly valued.

The lead Chinese scientist politely noted, “There was no other way.”

The lead Japanese scientist responded, “Indeed.”

They both looked out of the helicopter windows at the devastated landscape below. The Chinese man spoke first, “All this because one of the corona-viruses mutated, and became able to spread among humans.”

The Japanese man nodded, “The Americans always sought someone to blame.”

“It was not our fault,” the Chinese man shook his head, and was no longer able to hold back his emotions, and tears silently flowed from the corners of his eyes. “It was no one’s fault.”

“We all know that. Even half the Americans knew that.”

The Russian leader placed his hand on the Chinese man’s shoulder, “It was their own fault.” He looked at the devastation below. “They insisted on blaming someone, and then set about getting even.” He paused, then sighed. “It was their way. Their nationalistic pride. And it killed them.”

The Chinese man knew. The US had launched military strikes at China, and all its allies. They’d blown North Korea off the face of the planet. They’d left a hole in the ground where Wuhan had been that glowed green in the dark, and was visible from the International Space Station. That, all by itself, triggered a global response, with thousands of nuclear weapons launched against the US.

The Russian nodded at his Chinese friend. “We could not let them destroy the entire world out of their pride and arrogance.”

The Japanese man spoke, quietly, “They sowed the wind. They reaped the storm.”

729 words
@mysoulstears


Written in response to the prompt for week 156 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 : 2020/04/24 (Week 154)

I stood in the field, looking at that ancient tree. Figured that thing must be at least 1000 years old. One hell of a lot older than the country. That tree had been there when the American Indians ran things, and likely even before that.

“God willing, and with a little luck, here’s hoping us humans don’t cut you down, and turn you into firewood, or pencils, or anything else.”

I’d frequently stared at that tree, and wondered what all it had seen in its life. Certainly, it had seen the rise and fall of more than one civilization made by us humans.

“I’m betting you’ve been around long enough to learn how to not repeat history.” I sighed, and placed a hand on that tree’s trunk. “Unlike us stupid humans. We only live so long. And then we die, and take all our experience, and knowledge with us, and our children repeat the same mistakes we made, endlessly.”

There was a breeze from the south east. A hot, sticky, human breeze, the kind you get in the summer. Those breezes had gotten hotter, and stickier, in my lifetime. Still resting a hand on that tree, “We’re killing everything, you know. And pretending we’re not.”

It was true. We were destroying everything. In search of money, power, wealth, material possessions. Everyone had to have a mansion, with half a dozen rooms they never set foot in. And a three row SUV, or a truck that could haul 20 or 30 bags of concrete, even though not one bag of concrete ever got put in the truck’s bed.

It was sad, what we’d done to the world God gave us. And the tree had seen us do all of it. It had been around when the breeze from the south east had been cool, and refreshing, and pulled up the clean air from the Gulf. Not anymore. We’d fixed that. It was not a hot, sticky, steam bath that floated in off the Gulf, and forced everyone inside into their air conditioned homes.

“And all we can fight about, all we can argue over, is politics, and who is right, the Left or the Right.” I sat down next to the tree, in the hot sticky breeze. “Doesn’t matter if both sides are wrong, as long as the side I’m on wins, that’s how we fight.” I wondered if the tree understood anything I was saying. “We get so busy fighting, so twisted around ourselves, we forget everything we’ve learned. We forget everything at all. Except keeping what we have. And getting more of what we want.”

Sometimes, I wished that tree could talk, and tell me what it had seen, what it knew.

“Maybe you’ll still be here when this is over, and we’ve killed everything, including ourselves.”

465 words
@mysoulstears


Written in response to the prompt for week 154 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_04_01 (Week 148)

My mother was too old to be in the forest behind her house, but she’d insisted. “There’s something you need to see.” I’d tried to talk her into staying in the house, to tell me where to look, or to let me put her in her wheelchair, and push her where she wanted to go. She was stubborn, and wouldn’t hear of that. “I promised I’d show you.”

It had been slow going. She’d had to stop several times to rest, and catch her breath. But, always, she was stubborn, and answered any concerns I had for her with, “I promised I’d show you.”

Eventually, we came to a small clearing, beneath a canopy of leaves. “Here we are.” Mother smiled, and patted me on the shoulder, “Here we are.”

It wasn’t anywhere special. I thought it looked like a half dozen small clearings under the trees we’d already seen. Until Mother pointed at something. “There.” It was a park bench. And old, wooden one, covered in mosses, and partially rotten. “There.”

She wobbled over to it, and sat down. “This is where I promised I’d show you.”

“This?”

“And before you say anything, a picture wouldn’t work, because I promised him I’d show you.”

“Who did you promise, and show me what?”

“Your father. I promised him.”

She hadn’t spoken of him since he’d passed nearly a decade ago. If anything, she’d carried on like she’d never been married, and never had anyone to miss. “Life goes on.” That’s what she told me.

“Dad?”

“Yes.” She leaned back against the wood. I worried it might collapse under her weight. “Don’t worry. He built this well. It’ll be here another hundred years.”

“Dad wanted you to show me something? Something here?”

“No. He didn’t want me to show you something. He wanted me to show you this place.”

“I don’t understand.”

“That’s what he said. ‘Mary, he’ll tell you he doesn’t understand. You’ll have to explain it. And show it to him. So.” She patted the space on the bench next to her. “Have a seat.”

What else could I do? I frowned, and sat down. Mother chuckled, “That’s just like you. No time for anything. Not even time to breathe.” She took a deep breath, “Humor an old woman, and sit still for a bit, while I talk.”

She sang instead. Amazing Grace. I hadn’t heard that song in years, but I knew the words. She’d always sang it, every Sunday.

Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see

Mother stopped there. “Just sit, and listen to this old woman.”

She didn’t say a word. I waited for her to talk, but she didn’t. Just before I asked her if she was going to say anything, she cut me off, “I said listen.”

It took a while, but eventually I began to notice sounds. Leaves on trees rustling when the wind blew through them. A couple of birds singing, somewhere. Mother smiled at me. “Just listen.”

I waited, and watched Mother, and listened. I watched as she fell asleep on that bench. I listened to her breathe, to know she was still alive. I listened to my own breath. I’d forgotten what it sounded like. I listened to the trees. To the forest.

I didn’t notice when she woke. I was watching the sunlight patterns on the ground, where the sun peeked through the canopy. It changed all the time, every time the wind blew, and the leaves shifted. I noticed the sound of the wind always happened before the pattern changed. Then, I realized I was listening for the wind, just to see the pattern change.

“I promised him I’d show you.” Mother smiled. “Promised him I’d remind you of all that really mattered.”

I helped her to her feet, and we started home. “He’ll be happy now. Now, when I see him, I can tell him your heart is still alive. That there’s still hope you might learn how to live.”

I didn’t say a word on the walk back, but Mother knew. Somehow, she knew. My father had been right. I’d forgotten what it meant to be alive.

710 words
@mysoulstears


Written in response to the prompt for week 148 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.

 

Inside My Eyelids (13)

Of course, I never knew her, she was part of a dream. But I remember her name, and always will. I remember she stood on a tiny bit of what was left of the world, with her violin, and she played for me, as I stood on another tiny bit of what was left.

One by one, we’d watched people vanish. Everyone we knew, loved, befriended, grew up with, hated, wished would die, wished would live longer than we did. Everyone. We watched them vanish. One by one, into the cold, as their tiny parts of the world crumbled into dust which the wind blew away. One by one, the wind grabbed them, and took them beyond the edge of everything, and they were gone.

“I feel like I should know who you are.”

“Nava.” She didn’t ask who I was. She smiled, and held up her violin. “Now, old man. Before we too vanish, I would play one last song.”

It was a song I’d never heard. A song that needed no words, only the sounds of her violin, the beating of her heart, and everything either of us had ever felt.

As she played, one by one, the little bits of land, floating around her, slowly turned to dust, and they too were gone. Her music said good-bye to each of them. To each person she had ever known. To each heart that had never turned to stone.

Then, she played for me. Her music said, “I never got to meet you in this life, except to say good-bye. I wish we’d had more time to spend. I’d love to play you many songs.” As she played, the wind picked up, it blew her hair, and dress, and I knew what was to come. I know she knew too.

At first, it was only the edges of her little bit of land. A bit of dust, every now and then. Then, the bottom began to crumble, and I watched, and wondered, if she saw the tears I know I cried. Too soon, all that was left was a tiny place for her to stand. But, still, Nava played that one last song for me. As the last bit of ground beneath her feet began to crumble, and the wind took it away, bit by bit. She played on, until the last of that ground was gone.

And then, the wind carried her away.

To this day, I wonder what it meant, that dream of the end of everything. Where the world fell apart, and crumbled, as it turned into dust, and everyone was gone. To this day I wonder what it meant that Nava stood there, on that last bit of land, and played one last song for me, and me alone, before she was gone. To this day, I wonder why I was the last one left, and how long I was there, on that bit of land and rock that was all that was left of everything I’d ever known.

And to this day, when I look in the mirror, at my eyes looking back at me, I wonder if that dream, and all the others I have had, where I’m the last one left of everything, and every one I’ve ever known, is life’s way of telling me I’ll have to say good-bye to everyone, one soul at a time, until I’m the last person on this world I’ll have ever known.

577 words
@mysoulstears


Written in response to the prompt for week 147 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.

Inside My Eyelids (12)

It was one of those nights I didn’t want to sleep. “If I sleep, I know the dreams will be there.” In the process of avoiding sleep, I wound up in front of the bathroom mirror, staring at the me I saw there, hearing the words of an old song.

“A mirror, is a negative space with a frame,
And a place for your face
It reveals, what the rest of us see
It conceals, what you’d like it to be” (1)

When I closed my eyes, and shook my head to clear my thoughts, I heard the words an old friend, one who was lost to time, and to my past, had said to me. “Most people know. They know. And they will do anything to not have to think about it, to make it not real. Because, if it’s real.” They never finished the thought, instead, leaving me hanging, with no understanding of why people were how they were.

But those words echoed in my head that night. “Most people know.” And it combined with the words of that song. “I conceals, what you’d like it to be.”

I opened my eyes, and looked at the me in that mirror again, “Why?”

It was always the same question. My entire life was the same question. “Why?” As if the only thing that mattered, the only thing there was, was the question, and the search for an answer.

When I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror, at my eyes looking back at me, I wandered down the stairs to the kitchen. I didn’t turn on a light, but walked in the dark. I needed it to be dark. In the dark, the details went away. In the dark, no one could see me. In the dark, I knew I was free from the games of life. The pretenses that others made me, expected me, demanded me to wear.

In the dark, my facade faded, and I could be me.

And let my soul cry.

People had always told me, when you sit alone, in the dark, late at night, on the floor of the kitchen, something’s wrong with you, and you need to get help. Yet, there I was. On the floor, in the dark, trying not to think, not to feel, and maybe to not even breathe.

Until the ache in my soul faded just enough I could feel the fatigue in my body. It was time to face the dreams painted inside my eyelids for another night. To find some rest, however brief, to prepare for another day in a world where most people knew, but were too terrified of the truth of life, they forgot about it, or denied it was there.

My dreams did not disappoint me.

Mirrors appeared, hanging in air, nothing to hold them up, reflecting everything they faced. Reflecting the world, and the people I knew, the society I lived in. Rain and storms in one. Sunshine, blue skies, and wispy white clouds in another.

And that damn song echoed in my mind once more.

“A mirror, is a negative space with a frame,
And a place for your face
It reveals, what the rest of us see
It conceals, what you’d like it to be” (1)

That morning, I looked into the eyes in the mirror that looked back at me, and I knew. I finally knew. Everything in the mirror is two dimensional. It has no depth. There is only what you see. And I knew, suddenly, why, “Most people know. They know. And they will do anything to not have to think about it, to make it not real. Because, if it’s real…”

615 words
@mysoulstears


1 The song is “Mirrors” by Blue Oyster Cult.
Songwriters: Abbott / Roeser
Mirrors lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

I wrote this for week 146 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.

Inside My Eyelids (11)

Each step I took, I heard the sound of my shoes striking the ground echo down the length of the stone hallway. It was a dark, damp hallway, and as I walked it, I could feel the weight of the stone above me. Solid, heavy rock, that threatened to crush the tiny hallway I was in, and thus crush me.

The hallways walls emitted a soft, faint light, just strong enough to see the world inside it in black and white, with no detail. Only the endless echo of my shoes on the cold stone floor as I walked along.

There was no way to know how long I’d been in that hallway, no way to measure its length, no way to reach its end, or its beginning. It remained the same, in both directions, endlessly. To walk it seemed pointless, and yet, something inside me, some feeling in my bones, told me to walk, and that if I walked long enough, I would find something.

Walk I did. I couldn’t remember when I started walking. I couldn’t remember how I got in that hallway. Had I always been there? Had I found my way to the place, and then gotten lost in its endless stone?

One step after another, I walked. I tried counting steps, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Eventually, I lost count. I started again, counting by blocks of ten steps, and grouping those into groups of ten, and those into groups of ten. I lost count again, after countless thousands.

“Perhaps this is a circle. A large circle, that barely turns to one side. Just enough that eventually, it comes back on itself. And I’m walking in a circle. Endlessly. Without knowing it.” My mind tried to explain the hallway. “It’s a circle, and I’m trapped to walk the same path, endlessly.”

When I found a light hanging on the left wall, I decided it wasn’t a circle. I’d never seen that light before. Another hundred steps, and I found another light. A third one at 50 steps. Then one at 25 steps. Then, three lights. Between the first two, hung on the wall, was an old, wooden shield. Painted blue, with white and black circles. In places the paint had worn away and revealed the wood beneath. The blade of a large knife hung by a chain on one side of the shield. Another weapon hung by a chain from the other side. I wasn’t familiar with it, having never seen anything like it.

Between the second and third lights was a door. One look told me it was ancient. A sign of the door read, “It is the demons who take life.”

Maybe, after walking that hallway for however long I had, I’d lost my mind, lost my ability to reason, or to understand written words. Because I opened that door, and stepped through it.

Into a room filled with weapons. Swords, knives, whips, bows and arrows, spears, pikes, axes. Every weapon I’d ever heard of, and what seemed like an endless array of weapons I’d never imagined existed. I couldn’t see the back of the room. It was like the hallway, unending.

Beside each weapon there was that same sign. “It is the demons who take life.”

I heard her voice, her words to me, from years ago, “The Devil and his minions can’t create life.”

Then my own words, “Neither can humans.”

Then, the thoughts of my mind, “But both can certainly take what they are given, and modify it, change it, adapt it, for their own purposes.”

That sign was beside every weapon in that endless room, “It is the demons who take life.”

And I opened my eyes, as I realized it was daylight, and time for me to get ready for another day at work. But, since that dream of that endless hallway, and that endless room filled with creations used to end life, I have never escaped the words of that sign, “It is the demons who take life.”

644 words
@mysoulstears


I wrote this for week 145 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.

Inside My Eyelids (9)

It’s the dreams that happen after I have to wake up in the middle of the night, for whatever reason, and then go back to sleep, that are the the most colorful. And the most difficult for me to cope with.

Last night, I woke at three-thirty in the morning. I’m old. I wake up every morning to go pee. Last night was no exception. After my nightly trip, I pulled the covers back up, and waited for the heat to build back up, which always sends me back to sleep.

Back to the land of dreams.

I remember walking. The same streets I’d always walked, all through my neighborhood. A long walk this time, one that took over two hours. As I walked, I wondered, “Where are all the houses? Where are all the cars? The trees. The buildings. The signs. Everything was gone. Everything. There was nothing to either side of me, nothing ahead of me, nothing behind me. There were no clouds, not birds, no planes, not bugs, the sky was empty.

It had rained earlier, though, I could tell because of the puddles on the street, and the sidewalk. Puddles that worked like mirrors, and reflected the images of everything around them. Those puddles were more confusing than everything being missing, because they were filled with images of everything that had been there. Everything I always saw when I walked was still in those puddles.

But none of it was left anywhere.

I walked from puddle to puddle, examining each one, trying to figure out what I was seeing in each puddle. The one in front of where my home had been still had reflections of my crepe myrtle trees in it. I watched the image of the bottom of my car in the puddle as my invisible car drove across it. The water didn’t move, there were no splashes. It was like my care wasn’t there. Like I was watching a movie screen.

There was a puddle a few blocks from home, where I could still see the buildings that used to be beside the road, even though there was no sign anything had ever been beside the road. In that one, I watched a passenger jet fly through the puddle, while no jet was anywhere to be seen.

Except in the puddle.

Most interesting was how, as I walked, I saw myself in the reflections of the puddles. As if the puddles were saying to me, “We only reflect what’s actually there.” And yet, there was nothing there to reflect.

I decided to try finding one of the street signs I saw in a puddle. A stop sign, at the corner of a road. It was crystal clear in the puddle. I kept my eyes on the puddle, as I moved my reflection closer to the signs reflection. Until I could reach out, and place my reflections hand on the sign. Except, there was no sign. There was nothing.

I wound up back at the puddle before where my house had been. I walked back and forth, left and right, even in circles. Nothing. My house wasn’t there. There was no sign it had ever existed.

There was a song, long ago, where the singer sang,

“Let me take you down
‘Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about”*

As I woke from my dream, I heard that song playing over and over again in my head, with some strange voice asking me, “What is real, and what is a dream, and how do you know?”

599 words
@mysoulstears


* The song is Strawberry Fields, by the Beatles.

Songwriters: J. Lennon / P. Mccartney
“Strawberry Fields Forever” lyrics © Sony/atv Tunes Llc, Sony, Sony Atv Tunes Llc, Sony Atv Music Publishing France, Sony/atv Tunes Llc Dba Atv Obo Atv (northern Songs Catalog), Wixen Music Publishing Inc Obo Harrisongs Ltd

I wrote this for week 144 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.