Hazardous Journey, moderate pay

John’s picked at the side of his thumb where a callus ran from fingernail to palm. He had prepared for this journey, the coarse skin acted as his reminder. Yet the wooden dock still creaked as he shifted his weight from foot to foot; the ship looked smaller in person.

He had read of the journey over a cup of steaming hot water. Tea had been the cheapest option on the menu but John hated tea, so he kept the leaves on the side of the dish. The steam warmed his lips as he read the newspaper over-the-shoulder of a man who could afford three times his cup of tea.

Help Wanted – Hazardous Journey, moderate pay

Under the text was a single image of a sailboat flying over the clouds. John stared, questions falling in and out of his mind before he could even think of answers.

Was it an artistic depiction? A symbol of sort? A fiction? A truth?

He was trained a sailor but hated the sea, a travesty – but the clouds. John’s feet moved before he could stop them. The man with three plates that smelled of honeyed meats and fresh croquette turned to him mid-chew. It was only then that John realized, he had tapped on the shoulder of this other patron.

Except, John was hardly a patron and the waiter glared from the corner at his lack of sense.

It was true, he was senseless, but now he was here.

“May I have that ad,” he added, after a pause, “sir?”

The waiter started towards him and the patron chewed with slit eyes but, after a moment of consideration, he ripped the ad out of the newspaper and handed it to John.

Now he was here, on a rickety dock looking at a ship that was much too small to fly. But what did John know about flying ships?

“Help wanted!” A voice shouted from inside its confines. “All aboard that’s coming aboard.”

John clenched his palm into a fist and stepped forward.

Sailing through time

Tomasz

Photo Challenge #107

Yellow

He came into my life in a burst of yellow; yellow raincoat, yellow floppy hat, yellow bag on his shoulder. We caught the same train. From under brown eyelashes, I stared at his yellow form for six stops. At one point, the movement of the train car jostled us together but we both looked away – yellow.

I saw him next on a bright day; yellow sunlight on yellow hair, a yellow coat trailing as he ran for our train. I held the door open. Our eyes met, then fell, then met again; his were warm honey with flints of yellow. I moved to let him pass, brushing my shoulder against his but said nothing – yellow.

We met again on the platform, waiting for the yellow line train. My eyes were on the departures screen so I did not see the yellow man, only his yellow blur as he tripped over his feet and into my own. Suddenly, I was covered in thick, wet, yellow. Splatters of paint fell onto the platform as the yellow man moved into my line of sight, face apologetic as he lifted the now empty pain can.

“You yellowed me,” was all I could think to say.


 

Photo Challenge # 95: January 12, 2016

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Yellow Orchids by Liz West CC BY 2.0

New Year

She waits; face painted and eyes aglow.  The hand of the clock moves closer to the next year, a new year.  She’s gathered her apparel, adorned her jewels, and is ready to fly over the merriment. For only tonight does she live outside the minds of those who call to her, only tonight.

“Five!” Someone shouts from beyond.

“Four!” The group gets louder, she spreads her wings.

“Three!” They scream now with raised glasses.

“Two!” She hovers, breath caught.

“One!” She takes to the air as a song breaks out. Below her the humans laugh, kiss.

No one notices her vestige, no one sees her garb. Yet they feel her presence. One man twirls his partner, a lady with a wide smile, and proclaims wildly that he will turn a new leaf. A woman grabs her friend’s hand, pulls the smaller frame into a hug and resolves to laugh more. Another man gets down on one knee with a diamond, another woman throws out her pack of cigarettes….

She flies, for sixty seconds and then she disappears.

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Fairy by Teatro Escola de Pelotas CC BY 2.0

Written for: Photo Challege #93

Kiss the Sky

“I want to kiss the sky!”

“Honey,” Amber paused mid-step, catching her breath. “You’re not supposed to take that song literally.”

Charles ran back from where he led the hike, humming Purple Haze as he circled his parents. Amber envied his energy.

“What does it mean then, mom?

She met her husband’s gaze. The corner of his mouth twitched into a smile. “Go on, Am, explain to our son the deep meaning behind Jimmy Hendrix’s most infamous song.”

She snorted a laugh. “Nope. You’re right Charles, It’s about kissing the sky.”

“No it’s not! You’re lying!”

Amber sighed, grabbing her husband’s hand. They broke into a run, so close to the peak of the mountain. Their sunrise hike almost complete. She used to have the same energy levels as her son and willed her legs to remember that fact.

Her husband laughed next to her, pulling away. He lifted Charles up and tucked the boy under his arm. Charles squealed in delight.

“Almost there!” Amber led the hike now, cheeks flushed. The early morning had provided enough light to let them climb up the mountainside but only now had the sun begun its rise along the horizon.

“I want to kiss the sky!” Charles repeated from his father’s hold. “I want to kiss the sky!”

The boy kicked and kicked until his father let him go. Then he rushed to the edge of the mountain, blowing kisses towards the clouds. The golden rays framed her husband and son, washing her little family in a glow.

Her husband approached, arms wrapping around her torso as he started to kiss along her neck. He whispered in her ear, “You know what I’m thinking?”

Amber shook her head.

He released her, quietly sneaking back behind Charles. He perched behind the boy and waited a moment before attacking with wet, sloppy, noises.

Charles screeched, “Dad! What are you doing?”

“Forgot the sky. Excuse me while I kiss the son!”

They both dissolved into a heap of laughter and kisses as the sun rose over a new day.

- NEKNEERAJ

– NEKNEERAJ

Ballooned Happiness

The wood creaked under my weight as I stepped further into the room. I knew those shoes, I had bought them for his birthday; I knew that wrinkled shirt, I had washed it many times. I knew him, he was my lover.

I just want you to be happy.

And I tried to explain to him that I won’t always be happy, that it didn’t quite work that way – that I didn’t quite work that way. I won’t always be happy and that was okay. More than that, I don’t rely on others for my happiness. Yes, even him.

I saw the confusion in his eyes, then. Now, I only see his torso and his legs.

I had told him once, years ago, that balloons made me happy. I liked them from beginning to end. From inflating them, to helium sounds, to flying high into the sky. I liked popping them and bouncing them. Balloons fly and I help them with that flight.

He wanted me happy. A simple request that’s not so simple when the mind can run and twist things into demons. Yet he tried, he appeased, he indulged.

I reached out and ran my hand along the top of the balloon. “What did you do to yourself?”

He didn’t reply, couldn’t reply. Instead, he clapped his hands and let evermore balloons fly from his grasp.

- Julia Anna

The Choreographer

- wallpaperswide.com

One, two, three. One, two, three.

She went through the steps in her mind. The light and smoke tricking her eyes so the vapor danced her choreography. She ordered water because whiskey would dilute her imagination but lit up another, another in a long chain, and let the smoke flutter in and out of beat.

One, two, three. One, two, three.

Her exhale turned gracefully into a pirouette. A partner came with her next breath, lifting up the dancing wisp and placing it gently on the wood. The condensation caught in the light, setting the stage and waiting for another wisp of smoke to dance along the bar-top.

One, two, three. One, two, three.

The world of her mind, the beats and steps, played before her as the deafening applause from the theater beyond the bar erupts. Through the doors her previous hallucinations possessed human form with every twirl and leap. But she preferred the smoke.

One, two, three. One, two, three.

The Challenge of the Ice Bucket

“I don’t think we should do this,” Harold stopped himself from biting his peeling lip. It felt like some of the hanging bits of skin were his oldest companions, these days.

Samuel sighed. “It’s not that big of a deal, they do it on the internet.”

“So that means it’s okay? Did we imitate every act on the Johnny Carson show? No. Why is the internet any different?”

“Oh, the internet is very different. It has images of beautiful beaches from all over the world, lots of panda videos and even the occasional young lass in very revealing clothing. Let me tell you about this one website I found-”

“I’m aware of the internet,” Harold said through a groan. He braced his hands on his knees, groaning again as he lifted from his seat. “I merely disagree that we should do this to Max.”

Samuel kicked the bucket of ice. “But it’s for Lou Gehrig’s disease!”

“Max doesn’t even have that disease.”

“He has something; can you smell him through that vented windbreaker?”

“Cause you smell like freshly cut roses,” Harold chastised.

“Oh come on,” Samuel whined, almost sounding like his five year old grandson. “We already brought the ice down here.”

Harold looked from the bucket of ice to their nearby friend. He remembered the last time Max stole the pot of poker winnings from right under his nose. That sealed the deal.

“All right,” Harold relented. “Let’s do this.”

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Tuesday’s Photo Challenge #6

Brother’s Keeper

“Hurry up!” James yells over his shoulder. He’s struggling to get his twin to follow him down the path; Gary was always such a scared-y cat.

Through the fog, he cannot see his brother. He can only hear the rustling of leaves and Gary’s incessant sniffling.  Even after ten years, James finds it unbelievable that they even came from the same fertilized egg. His “older” brother was both scared of everything and a walking allergy machine.

The snap of a stick echoes throughout the woods as Gary makes his way through the fog.  James can see the dark silhouette of his twin now.  He taps his foot, bored now and sick of waiting.

To his right, he sees a large tree. It is definitely wide enough to conceal him and with a wicked smile he decides to hide behind it. He picks at the bark and waits.

“James?” His brother is near and his voice is trembling. James mentally counts as the forest quiets around them: the birds evening chirp disappears; the predators of the woods are hidden from view, watching the two human boys.

James doesn’t have a plan, he hardly ever does. He only knows that he wants to see his twin flail and fall onto the leaves, wants to watch as he stumbles back and shrieks. He wants to kick Gary while he’s down then run up the path leaving him all alone on the foggy path.

This anger towards his brother isn’t new – if anything it’s the most consistent feeling he’s ever experienced.

A snap of a stick from the other side of the tree trunk and it’s the cue James needs to move.  In a single jump he’s in front of his brother with a roar. As if in slow motion, Gary’s face twists in fear. The shriek James expected follows but so does something he wasn’t expecting – his twin swinging his arm around, punching on instinct.

Time speeds up and James realizes that he is the one the floor, leaves crinkling under his jeans as his hands come up to cradle his face.

Gary is on his knees then, carefully trying to inspect the damage. James waits for a mocking laugh that never comes.


- Oer Wout

Photo Challenge #64, Pathway, June 09, 2015