Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/11/21

“I know it doesn’t look like much, but it’s ours.” I pointed at mine. “That one’s mine.” I pointed at Jim’s, “That’s Jim’s.” Our small group started to cheer. “We own these, people! We own them!”

What did we own? A bunch of old metal phone booths and out houses. None of them more than a four foot by four foot floor-space. Hell, we even had to sleep in them sitting up, no room to stretch out. No water. No plumbing. No electricity. Nothing. Just a four by four box, with a door that didn’t lock. And lots of missing parts, like how most were missing windows.

But, damn. We owned them.

It was a baby step. We all knew that. Going from living in the warehouse where we worked, to having our own little town of boxes. We didn’t have to sleep at work anymore. We had real work schedules, finally. With time off, time we could use for whatever we wanted.

“Let’s celebrate, people!”

We all ran to our little boxes, looked them over, top to bottom, checked the doors, checked the floors, and roofs. The phone booths were empty inside. Not even a place to sit. The out houses at least had a place you could sit. Yeah, there was a big hole in it, and it took half the floor, but a little cardboard over the hole, and you had an actual chair.

The inside of mine had a couple of sharp metal edges where the phone had once been. No one had needed to take care of them, they ripped the guts out of them, phones, wires, everything. And the two little windows on the top of one side were gone. Only the holes where they’d been were left. A bit of cardboard and some tape, and I could seal them up.

We had paint. Different colors. Red, blue, black, white, green. Left over containers of paint, from where they didn’t use it all at the warehouse. “You guys can have this.” I could see us with a rainbow colored neighborhood.

We’d made a square of them. Kept the middle of the square empty. That’s where we’d put our garden. Try to grow some tomatoes, corn, and beans. Not much, of course, we were starting up. And we had to learn how to garden. But, it would be our food. We could eat it without having to work four hours for another burger and fries. Oh, we’d still work. We’d have to. We couldn’t feed ourselves. At least not yet. But maybe someday.

I stared up at the sky, and the bright dot of light I knew was the station. They told me it was a giant ring, that spun slowly, so it could feel like it had gravity, and you’d feel like you did on the ground. That’s where all the rich people went. The ones that owned the factories, and warehouses. The ones that owned everything.

They left, when the air started killing people. When the fires burned everything to the ground. When all the animals died. They left. Went up there. They tell me the ground up there is green, with something called grass. And they have a blue sky.

I didn’t really care. That was all dreams. I liked what was real. What I could touch. I liked my tiny four by four box. We were all spending the night in our boxes, for the first time. Our boxes. We owned them.

It was a start. It was a dream come true. Maybe one day we’d be able to stop working at the warehouses. Maybe one day, we’d be able to have families. And children. And lives of our own.

It was certainly worth dreaming about.

625 words
@mysoulstears


Saw the picture for week 81 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge and my mind went blank for a week. Until last night, when it said, “This!” 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.

#MidweekMusings 1×01 : Defeated

“Define defeat.”

I stared into my eyes in the mirror, and heard that voice in my head.

“Define defeat.”

Chaos. A cacophony of thoughts, of feelings, of beliefs erupted inside me. “I’ve lost everything.”

“Everything?”

“Yes.” The flash of anger I saw in my eyes shocked me. I’d never noticed such violent emotions in myself before. “Everything.”

“Have you?” Such an innocent question. Such a simple question. “Have you?” That damn thought echoed through my mind. My hands shook. My heart raced.

“Everything I was! Everything I had! Everything I built!” I’d never known I could feel such anger. I wondered where it came from. What powered it. What fueled it.

And that damn question echoed through me again. “Have you?”

“I worked so hard to take care of them!” That was my answer. Them. Everything was for them. Everything was to take care of them. Help them. Give them what they wanted. Hold them when they needed holding. Dry their tears when they cried. Give them the means, the tools, the inner strength needed for happiness. To smile. To live. To love. To be what they wished. Do what they wished.

“Have you lost everything?”

“I can’t take care of them anymore!” I was a failure. I’d failed. Everything had imploded. My job, gone. My income, wiped out. I wasn’t taking them to the doctor when they got sick. No. Not anymore. This time, it was me. Visiting the doctor endlessly.

What did I feel? Numb? Broken? Defeated? A failure? I heard the words of my doctor, “All his greatest fears have come true.”

Was that it? Was I afraid?

“Do you remember?” I stared into the eyes looking back at me. “The nights you couldn’t sleep. The endless days.”

I remembered headaches. Every day I went to work. I remembered eating naproxen pills, two of them, every morning when I reached my desk. Before I did anything else. I remembered, the pills didn’t help. The headache was always there.

I remembered nights. Spent with my eyes open. Staring at the ceiling. Not seeing anything. Not thinking anything. Wondering if I could ever sleep. Wondering if I’d stagger to work having been awake all night. If I could function on three or four hours of sleep. Wishing I could close my eyes, and dream. Just for one night. But sleep never came, until I passed out from sheer exhaustion. Until I pulled the covers up, and without thinking, without trying. Without turning out the lights, turning off the TV, brushing my teeth, or any of the things I did to get to sleep. I pulled the covers up, and passed out.

It was the only time I slept.

“Have you lost everything?” echoed through my mind. “Or have you found something?” My eyes in the mirror wouldn’t let me go. “Have you found something?”

I knew the truth. I knew what had happened. I knew what I’d done to make everything happen. To make everything inevitable. I knew I wanted out of the work I’d had for years. I wanted change. I wanted a question answered.

“What about me?”

Every decision I’d made, everything I’d done, for nearly 30 years, was never about me. Never had been. Never what I wanted. What I felt. What I believed. Everything had always been to care for someone around me. To help someone around me.

“What about me?”

I’d never seen such fear in any eyes I’d ever studied. Such confusion. “How hurt am I?”

I didn’t know. Staring at my eyes I saw a lost little boy. A child. Wounded. Confused.

“I don’t even know who I am.” That changed everything. Every part of me “I don’t know who I am.”

And that voice in my head laughed. “Now I can change.”

I’d lost my life. The life I’d worked so hard to build. The life I the world taught me to want. The one we’re all supposed to want. That dream, of a family, a job, success. It was gone. All of it. Burned to the ground, turned to ash.

“I’m free.”

As I stared into my eyes, the chaos faded, the cacophony grew silent. Until there was only me. The lost little boy. “Now. I’m free.” I actually smiled. I hadn’t smiled in days. I couldn’t remember when. I couldn’t remember feeling anything but anger. Burning through my blood.

And I smiled.

“Now, I’m free. To learn. To grow. To be.”

I wasn’t defeated. I wasn’t broken. I hadn’t lost everything. I’d gained everything. I’d broken free from the life I’d been trapped in. The life that owned me. Suddenly, I was free. To feel. And to learn the answer to that question I’d never answered.

“Who am I?”

789 Words
@LurchMunster


This is for week 1×01 of #MidweekMusings, another flash fiction adventure hosted by #FlashMobWrites (Ruth Long and Cara Michaels). Please, go read all the stories for this week’s prompt.