#MWBB Week 2.42 – Ishq Love and the Veil

It would be sunrise in twenty minutes. It was time to set up my tent and prepare for another day of survival in a virtual oven. I dropped my backpack, pulled out my tiny tent, an a-frame tent, with lightweight aluminum poles, not fiberglass. The aluminum worked better for me. Made the tent easier to set up.

After my tent was ready, I grabbed my camera from the pack, then tossed the pack in the tent, sleeping bag and all. Soon, I’d have to hide inside for what would feel like endless hours. I adjusted the rain fly to block as much sand as possible. I knew it would be as much as twenty degrees cooler in the tent than outside.

It was day six of ten. I’d planned my trip for a year. A year of physical torture, walking miles in the heat of summer, learning to find water where I could, learning to set up water capture netting. Learning to eat what I could find. How to live off the desert. I’d even had to spend three days and nights in Death Valley solo to earn the right for my trip.

I walked along the netting. I’d set it up at the first sign of fog. You can taste the water in the air. I threw the netting up, and prayed I’d catch enough water to fill a glass or two. Enough to get through the next day.

I’d reversed the entire schedule. Walk at night, hide in the tent during the day. During the night I needed less water. At night it was cold as hell, but in a jacket, hauling 50 pounds of gear, I burned enough energy the cold didn’t bother me so much. And it certainly beat walking beneath a sun that could fry an egg in minutes on sand that could melt car tires.

Yeah. I know. “Why would anyone want to cross the desert?” You ask, ‘cause you ain’t me. You don’t know what I go through, working five days a week, in a job that’s trying to kill my soul. You don’t know what it’s like when you can’t say what you feel, what you think, because what you feel and think are wrong, and you’ll get told again, “You can’t be that way.” Or, “That’s wrong! You’re wrong!”

Daily life kills me. One bit at a time. One thread at a time, my rope frays away. Until I have no choice and have to escape. I have to escape everything. Phones. Radios. TV. News papers. The internet. The civilized world we’ve made. I have to escape it all.

This year, I escaped to the desert. Where no one could reach me. No one could tell me what to feel. What to think. How to live. In the desert, I was alone. All the voices that haunted me every day were gone. All the rights and wrongs were gone. All the good and evil, gone. All that mattered was survival. All that mattered was my next breath, my next heartbeat, my next swallow of water, my next meal. All the lies, the myths, the artificial things made by mortal men, fell away. The veil of civilization was cast aside.

And I was free.

And I was alive.

Once I knew the net was right, and was collecting what water it could from the ground fog, I turned Eastward, and waited. Soon, the sun would rise. And the colors of the world would come to life once more. The black sky, and black sand would light up with color. Golds, reds, oranges, pinks, yellows. High, thin, wispy, pink and orange cirrus clouds painted against a pale pink sky.

It was stunning. Just like life, without that veil we hide it behind.

628 Words
@LurchMunster


This is my entry for Year 2, Week 42 (Week 2.42) of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. This week the prompt is the song, “Ishq Love and the Veil” by Niyaz. Please, go read the other stories in the challenge.

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#FinishThatThought Week 2-25 : White Whiskey

In the beginning, there was the table, me, and a bottle of whiskey. I opened the bottle and let a long chug burn its way down my throat. “Forget,” I mumbled. “Forget all about it, and move on. That’s what they said.” I took a second chug. “Forget my ass.” I growled. “Some things can’t be forgotten.” The third chug burned so much it brought tears to my eyes. I smacked the bottle down on the table, and growled.

I knew the whiskey wouldn’t survive the night. I knew it was the lucky one. It wouldn’t see the sunrise. I would. I considered turning the bottle up, and draining it as quickly as I could, no matter how much it burned. Perhaps if I drained the bottle quickly enough, I’d end up killing myself.

I wouldn’t. I knew that wouldn’t solve a damn thing. I was in another stage of my recovery. Another step through my grief. My Dad told me once, “There’s seven stages of grief.” Seven fucking stages. And no one knows how long each stage lasts, just that it’s different for each person.

I didn’t really want to find out how my grief process worked.

“It takes as long as it takes.” I stared at the bottle, read the label. “Smooth Ambler White Whiskey.” Looked like water. Sure packed a kick water never had. I can’t drink water. God, that stuff’s nasty. But I can drink damn near anything else.

I took another chug, so I could pretend I was crying from the pain of the whiskey burning my throat and didn’t have to admit I was crying because she was gone.

I heard that damn voice in my head again, “God made the rain to fall on the just and the unjust, the good and the evil.” I screamed, and punched another hole in the drywall. Left some skin from my knuckles on the plaster. The pain felt good. Distracting. “If I ever find the ass hole that wrote that, I’m gonna kick him. Right in the nuts.”

Hemorrhagic stroke. They said the blood vessels in her brain exploded and her brain died of oxygen deprivation. By the time they got her to the hospital, it was over.

I used to tell people she was part of me. “If I ever lose her, I’ll never recover. I’ll never be whole again.” I took another chug of the whiskey. She was gone. But she was still the only reason I wasn’t. She wouldn’t want me to stop living. I had to work everything out. Had to find a way to live. Because of her.

But first I had to let the wounds heal. Let my heart stop bleeding. The whiskey wouldn’t survive the night. And I’d hurt like hell when the sun rose. Sometimes, you do what you have to, to find yourself. And I would find myself. Eventually.

The sunrise was gonna hurt like hell.

489 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Week 2-25 (Year 2, week 25) of Alissa Leonard‘s Finish That Thought. Please, go read all the creatively shared stories in this week’s challenge.

#ThursThreads Week 123 : Things You Wish You Hadn’t Done

We sat around the campfire, holding our paper and pens, wondering why we were awake at 3 o’clock in the morning. When we were all seated, Sergei commenced. “Now, we take the next step in freeing ourselves from the past.” He scribbled on his paper, “Start by naming your list.”

“But what’s it a list of?” Shelly always asked the first question.

Sergei answered “It doesn’t matter. What matters is what you feel in this moment, this heartbeat, this breath.”

I wrote, “Sergei’s Friggin’ List.”

When we’d all named our lists, Sergei continued. “Now, write a list of things you wish you hadn’t done. But you may not include things like I was born. List the things you regret doing.” He paused. “No sharing. The lists are private.”

I started my list with:

1. Letting people talk me into keeping that job.
2. Never telling Sarah how I felt.
3. The fights I had with my brother.
4. Never calling my Dad.
5. Losing Barbara.

I added things I could never forget. Mistakes I’d made throughout my life. Sergei waited until the last pen stopped moving.

“Now, it is time to let go of the past, stop letting it hurt you, stop letting it get in your way.”

Sergei burned his list in the fire. Then each of us did. And when the sun rose, I knew I’d finally cauterised the wounds my regrets had always carved in my heart and soul.

I was free.

239 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 123. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.

#ThursThreads Week 92 : Like Hell It Is

“I hear Earth is a beautiful place.”

I looked at the young angel next to me. He bore no scars. The armor on his wings was still polished, and new. He had never been to Earth before. Never faced Lucien’s minions before. Never faced humans before. So, he didn’t know.

“Yeah. It’s pretty enough.”

He smiled. “Tell me about it?”

I kept it simple. “Earth has nights and days. It rotates on its axis. So the sun seems to come up from the horizon every day. And then sink below the horizon later that day. It’s pretty enough. Lots of colors. Pink, orange, yellow, gold.”

“That sounds beautiful.”

“It has oceans of water covering over ⅔ of its surface. Where the oceans meet the land, there are cliffs, and beaches. With rocks and sand.”

“I want to see them. Sunrise, sunset, beaches, cliffs. Can we see them?”

“Yeah, kid. We can see them.”

So innocent. He didn’t know about fear, anger, rage, hatred, bigotry, pride, arrogance, lust. He didn’t know about sin. I sighed. I couldn’t let him go in blind. “There’s something you should know about earth. It’s beautiful, but it’s flawed.”

“Flawed?”

“Ever hear the saying like Hell on Earth?” The kid just stared at me, so I explained. “Lucien and the fallen ones live there. Demons all. Earth itself is not Hell. But like hell it is.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I know, kid. I know. But you will. You will.”

The ship started its descent.

248 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 92. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.

 

Fall Flash Festival : My Fall

I stood on the beach, watching the waves, wondering how long it would be until I struck the ground again. Like I do every year. Every fall. Sometimes, I think they named this time of year perfectly. Fall. And every year, I do.

It was good to stand on the beach and watch the sunrise. The sun always brought color back to the world. The blue-green, grey, and white of the ocean and it’s waves. The pale blue of the sky, with it’s wispy white clouds. The green and gold of the sea oats. The shades of brown and tan in the sand.

Watching the colors come back reminded me, like all things, Fall and Winter eventually ended, yielding to Spring. In roughly 26 weeks. Spring. I always look forward to that. Fall. I never look forward to that.

As I stood in the dark, before the dawn, everything was a shade of black, or gray. I knew, as the leaves changed from their many shades of green, to their painted shades of gold, yellow, red, and brown, those leaves would fall to the ground. And leave bare trees. All of them, shades of gray. All of them the same.

I knew, the roses would bloom one last time. Defiantly painting themselves in oceans of pink, yellow, white, peach, bronze, and red. I knew those brilliant splashes of color would fade, the petals of each bloom would curl, and fall, beneath the ocean of gray fall always brought.

Already I could feel a nip in the wind, a hint of the biting cold that would grow in the days ahead. That little hint of the coming Winter. The playful nip of cold, like a puppy’s playful nip. A nip that grew throughout the fall into the searing bite of a full-grown, predatory wolf. Hunting every last shred of life it could find. Hell-bent on sinking its teeth in, and crushing that life in it’s jaws.

Fall. That time of year where all hope faded. Where the bottom fell out of my world, my life. Where the ground I’d stood on, the hill I’d climbed in Spring and Summer ended. And I walked off a cliff I never saw coming. A cliff that just appeared. Where the solid ground I stood on simply fell away. And I fell too.

Fall. At least it was named accurately.

There had been a time, not so many years ago, when Fall brought despair. When Fall heralded the return of the demon my depression was.

Until I learned to walk along the beach. In the hour before the dawn. And watch the sun climb out of the ocean, into the sky once more. And watch as the shades of black and grey faded away. And the colors of the world came to life again.

Until I learned to Fall heralds the return of the Camellia trees to full bloom. Their shades of white, pink and red, reminding me the Fall and Winter don’t last. They end. As if the Camellia trees catch me as I fall, and gently place me on the ground.

I knew Fall would grow the demon of depression within me. The darkness of my life would grow, just like the length of each night. But I’d learned. The darkness would never win. So long as the Camellias bloomed in the dead of Winter once again. So long as the sun rose every morning, and painted over the darkness of the night, and brought back the colors of life.

588 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for the Fall Flash Festival, hosted by Eric Martell and Daniel Swensen. Please, go read all the other stories written for the festival. They all show the magic of words.

#MWBB 29 : Stay

It broke my heart
To answer you today,
When you asked me,
Please,
Stay.

You asked me to stay with you.
To hold your hand.
To walk with you
Out on the sand
Down by the water’s edge.

“Stay with me,
Please”
You asked.
“Wrap your arms around me
As we watch the sunrise.
And then kiss me again.
And again.”

“Stay with me,
Please”
You asked.
“Hold me when the sun sets.
And then all through the night.”

But I could not stay.

“Stay with me,
Please”
You begged.
You pleaded.
“We can walk through the roses,
Hand in hand.
And spend hours on end
Watching the butterflies
Again.”

My heart ached
As you spoke those words.
If only I could
Spend time with you.
Sitting on the sand at sunrise.
As the sun
Brings the colors of the world
Back to life once more.

If only I could
Kiss your lips
As the ocean waves
Played their songs of life
Once more.

“Stay with me,
Please”
You whispered,
As your fears
brought tears
To your eyes so blue.

You should know.
I love you.
I really do.

But I cannot stay with you.

Both our hearts know
This is true.
Although someday
I may find a way
To return.

Right now
I cannot stay.
For I would be in the way.
I would halt the flow of time.
So you could never change.
And never grow.
And never learn to walk
On your own.

For I know the truth.
I know why you asked.
You pleaded.
You begged.

I know
You are afraid
To be alone.
You are afraid
Of you.

If I stayed
You would use me
As a crutch.
You would put me
In your heart.
Where you need to be.

You would look into the mirror
When you wake up
Every day.
And see me looking back
At you.

You would do everything
I wanted to.
And love every minute of it.
Because you wouldn’t
Have to live
With you.

You would never learn
To see your own eyes
In the mirror.
Stare into their
Clear,
Strong
Blue.

You would never take the time
To stand out on the sand,
Down by the water’s edge.
And listen to the songs
The ocean sings to you.
Watch the world prepare
For its healing rest
As the sun fell from the sky.
Feel the world
Come back to life
As the sun restores
All the color
Painted over by the night.

You would hold my hand
So you would never get the chance
To feel the breeze
Flow between your fingers,
And across your palms.
And your fingertips
Would never feel the texture
Of the sand
On which you stand.

And you would never see
The beauty of the roses
Of the butterflies.
Because you would see me.
Keeping you company.
So you wouldn’t be alone.

If I were to stay
You would never get the chance
To meet yourself.
To be alone.
And learn to see you
As I do.

If I were to stay
You would never learn
Why I love you so.

That is why
I cannot stay.

That is why
I have to go.

533 Words
@LurchMunster


This is my entry for week 98 of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge.

#FinishThatThought 9 : Dessert

If I had know he would be there again, I would’ve brought my dragon. Instead, I found myself pondering the idea of reshaping a certain part of his anatomy with my boot heel, which was clearly not a polite thing to do to a wizard.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to hide a pair of six feet tall butterfly wings coming out of your back, and a pair of six-inch tall ears shaped like a Star Trek Vulcan’s, just to go out for apple pie and vanilla ice cream one night a month?

He’d been there last month. “Karen! So good to see you!” The man told endless stories of fixing things the humans screwed up every day. “I had to turn on the brakes in Tom’s car so he didn’t plow into the side of some lady’s mini-van, and boot her munchkins out the other side. I swear that idiot can’t drive!” He’d rambled on and on. “Frank went to the meeting yesterday, and left his presentation on his desk. I transferred it to his briefcase, so he would have it when he got there. He’s always doing things.”

I’d tried to concentrate on my pie and ice cream. It was Häagen-Dazs vanilla. I’d looked forward to it all month. A quiet evening, watching humans interact, while I relished mixing the flavors of two of their most amazing creations. Even with all my fairy magic, I couldn’t bake apples, let alone get the mix of cinnamon and sugar right. I’d tried. My apple pies came out more like scorched black frisbees.

And there he sat, at my table, drinking glasses of water, rambling on about how screwed up the humans were. “I cry every time I see them put another 500 sheets of paper in a printer. When I think of all the trees they’ve destroyed to print 50 copies of a report no one ever reads, I cry.”

Oh, I knew about that. You try caring for forests when the humans are chopping down trees left and right to make paper. Wizards. I’d tried to block him out, ignore him. I’d failed. He’d wrecked my peaceful evening. I’d had to fly to the oceanfront, and watch the sunrise to calm down.

And there he was, going to ruin my apple pie and ice cream again. I tried so hard to ignore him as he marched right up to my table. “Karen.” He didn’t sit down. “It has occurred to me, I owe you an apology.” He frowned. “I interrupted your desert last month.”

I just stared at him. He pulled his right hand from behind his back, and set a dish of apple pie and ice cream on my table. “I’m sorry.”

As he started to leave, I asked him to have a seat, and ordered apple pie and ice cream for him.

I wonder what will happen when I go out for dessert next month.

494 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for week 9 of Alissa Leonard‘s Finish That Thought flash fiction challenge. It’s a fun challenge. Now, go read all the other entries in week 9.