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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everything was money. Everything was that damn job.

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

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

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

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

Until it faded.

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

670 words
@mysoulstears


Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 39th week. You can read about her small fiction challenge here. This week, I knew what I wanted to say. Don’t know if I said it, but at least I tried. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.

Once

I was like you, once.
Not so long ago, really.
My life was defined.
Planned.
Everything was organized.

I walked a fixed path.
A predefined path.
Cut through existence.
Trees, brush, animals, birds, squirrels,
Everything.
Gone.

The path was clear.
Maintained.
Perfect.
Used by everyone.

I was like you, once.
Not so long ago, really.
The professional.
The success.
Everything I was supposed to be.

I walked a fixed path.
What to wear.
What to say.
When to speak.
When to be silent.
Everything was planned.

Do your job.
Never speak the truth.
Only positive words.
Can do words.
Even if everyone knew
It was a lie.

I was like you, once.
Not so long ago, really.
I had all the signs in place.
The house.
The cars.
The yard, well kept,
Always edged,
No weeds anywhere.

And perfect flower beds.
I knew the path.
I knew the way.
What to do every day.
What mattered.
What didn’t.

I was like you, once.

And then I changed.
I saw the path
For what it was.
How barren,
How empty.

Nothing lived there,
On that path,
Where every day,
And every one,
Was the same.

A path that lead from life
To death,
In a straight line.
Turning neither right,
Or left.

Oblivious to everything.

So I stepped off the path.
To see what lies beyond.
To greet the unknown.
And explore the world,
Outside the land of safe.

I was like you, once.

No more.

I’m free.

#55WordChallenge : The Fence – Part 30

Squirrel CloseupA squirrel ran down the side of the tree and walked to Taran. “Yes, little one. This is Flint. Alice’s son.”

“You’re the animal man.” The man whose animals kept us trapped inside our fences. Protected from him. I swung my fist at him but he’d already moved, as if he’d known what I’d do.

55 words
@LurchMunster


This is Part 30 of the serial story I’m working on for Lisa McCourt Hollar‘s #55WordChallenge flash fiction challenge. Please, go read all the other entries in the challenge this week.

The entire story, from Part 30 to Part 1, is located here.

#MWBB 35 : I Am Going To The West

I closed my eyes, and listened to her song, and felt once more those first words touch my heart, and stir my memories.

In this fair land, I’ll stay no more
Here labor is in vain
I’ll seek the mountains far away
And leave the fertile plain

It’s what I’d done. I’d left the land I’d lived in for nearly 30 years. I’d abandoned it. Because it was a dead-end. That land of work I used to live in. Where nothing ever changed. No matter what I did. No matter how hard I worked. No matter what I tried. Nothing ever changed.

I didn’t have the words then, to explain what was happening. How do you explain to everyone you know that you’re trapped? Stuck in place. In a cage. That’s what work had become. A trap. A cage. Where nothing would ever change. Where I faced the same day, the same problems, the same expectations every day. Where there was only one way to behave. Only one way you could be.

I remembered the words I’d been told a thousand times, across a thousand days. “You should be more like him.” I used to wonder how I could. “How can I be like someone else? Someone I’m not?” Until I found myself asking, “What would he do? How would he react? What would he say?”

And I lost me. Somewhere.

Do you want to know if you’re trapped? Look in the mirror. Into your eyes. And ask what the person you see in the mirror wants. What that person feels. If you don’t know. If you can’t answer. You’re trapped.

And I listened to her words as she sang them. I know they weren’t meant for me. But it felt like they were.

Where waves of grass in oceans roll
Into infinity
I stand ready on the shore
To cross the inland sea
I am going to the West

Her words echoed in my memory. For 3 years now, I’d been on a journey. Across an inland sea. A sea within me. A sea I had to cross. To find my heart. To find my soul. To breathe life into me. I remembered standing alone. Straining my eyes, my mind, my heart, to see the future, what was ahead of me.

I couldn’t. No one can. If they tell you otherwise, they lie. Don’t listen to them.

“What are you going to do when you grow up?”

“What are you going to do to earn a living?”

“How are you going to pay the bills?”

“Where are you going to live?”

Yet, no one ever asked the questions that mattered. And it was those questions that ate away at me.

“Who am I?”

“What do I want?”

“What do I believe?”

“Are my dreams still alive?”

“Am I still alive?”

I remembered everyone thinking I’d gone crazy. Telling me to pull my boots up, and get tough. “They’re watching you. If you don’t straighten out, they’ll get rid of you. If you don’t behave, they’ll get rid of you.”

They did. And it hurt like hell. And it scared me stupid. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t sleep. I swear there were times I couldn’t breathe.

But with time, that changed. I figured it out. I’d done what I had to do. To save me. I’d escaped.

You say you will not go with me
You turn your eyes away
You say you will not follow me
No matter what I say
I am going to the West
I am going to the West

It cost me everything. Every friend I had. Every person I knew. To escape. To take those first steps into that inland sea. To begin to ask those questions.

“Who am I?”

“What do I want to do?”

No one followed. That was what scared me the most. What kept me there in the first place. What kept me trapped. What kept me lost. The fear everyone would say what they’d said all my life.

“I will not follow you.”

“You can’t live that way.”

“You can’t be that way.”

“You’ll always be alone.”

If only they knew.

If only they knew.

693 Words
@LurchMunster

NOTE : The song lyrics used are from the song I Am Going To The West, from the CD The Border of Heaven, by Connie Dover © Taylor Park Music/Connie Dover


This is my entry for week 35 of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge.