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

Just a Taste

“My Father had a profound influence on me.
He was a lunatic, can’t you see?
Now I’m up all night
Trying to bite
Everyone who pays the entrance fee.”

“Is she telling the truth?” The guard asked his companion, Ms. Jones. She was a veteran in an institution where the staff rarely lasted more than a year.

The prisoner laughed from behind the bars. “Step closer blue-eyes and you will see.”

The guard stepped forward without thought, just a mix of instinct and curiosity. Ms. Jones hand shot out, grabbing his freshly pressed uniform shirt. The prisoner behind the bars cackled.

“Oh my, oh my, oh my, aren’t you a pretty one.”

“We should be moving along,” Ms. Jones declared.

The white of the prisoner’s eyes glinted with moisture, a single tear fell down her cheek. “Oh but Ms. Jones, he looks so tasty can’t I just have a…”

Her words trailed off and a feeling the guard tried to suppress stirred instead with interest. It was only his second day on the job. He could feel the sweat forming on the back of his neck as the woman -no, the prisoner- reached her hand out. Her fingertip felt strangely soft against the hard curve of the guard’s knuckle –when had his hands reach out to touch the bars?

“Just a little taste!” The woman -no, the prisoner- moaned.

“That’s enough Inmate Limerick,” Ms. Jones demanded. “We should move along.”

The guard stepped back, shaking his head to break the trance. He eyed the inmate cautiously, worry coursing through his veins. It had been much too easy to fall under her spell.

“Yes, let’s go,” The new guard agreed.

“Go! Go! Go!” The inmate squealed. “But you will soon return, for once I bite I never surrender. My father had a profound influence on me….


Written for this week’s #FinishThatThought

Home

I know this drive. I lie in bed during late, sleepless nights and run it through my mind like a film on repeat. The seemingly endless road between who I am now and who I once was – they say you can never go home again.

My high heels hit gravel as I close the door of the rental. This is when momma would run out onto the porch, screen door almost slamming daddy’s face as he followed. He’d catch my eye over momma’s shoulder, smiling while she pressed me close.

The wind blows gravel over my heels, scuffing them. The screen door shakes in the breeze; it’s worse than silence. I shouldn’t wait for the warmth of her hug or the comfort of his laugh –

Flashes of the twenty-four hour news cycle burn through the memories. The train crashing, the fire absorbing the cars, I cringe and try not to imagine them screaming as heat chars their skin and takes them away. I try and fail.

The weathered wooden porch creaks under my heels and for a moment my hand pauses on the doorknob. The house, the porch, the drive, the hometown – it’s all too different, it’s all exactly the same.


Written for last week’s FlashFriday

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

Deathplace

“Over there,” the Ghost pointed.

I craned my neck. “What am I looking at?”

“That bit of rubble, that’s my Deathplace.”

A chorus in the wind – “Deeeeeeeeathplace.”

“Did you hear that?” I demanded, looking for the source.

The ghost nodded. “Of course, that’s my Haunting.”

“Your what?”

“It’s On Demand –one of my many powers. Here, all my powers are more powerful because it’s my Deathplace.”

A chorus in the wind – “Deeeeeeeeathplace.”

“Okay…,” I felt like an actor in one of those staged prank shows as the Ghost snapped. The ruins began to rise.

A chorus in the wind – “Deeeeeeeeathplace.

———

Written for the Janet Reid Writing Contest, where we were challenged to write a story in 100 words of fewer and include: stage; actor; crane; ghost; chorus.

The piece did not win the competition but I still get a hoot from it 🙂

Carl’s Mathematics Dilemma

Carl tried to keep his eyes away from the clock. He had been trying, and failing, for the last three hours. Instead, he swung his feet under the table, doodled onto the margins of his worksheet and, with each thirty minute chime, he would walk to the window and wait.

Carl waited for his mother.

But he doesn’t want you to think this is some sad single mom tale! His mom isn’t struggling as a waitress or bartender or naughty dancer. His mom is an engineer, a great engineer, for the US Navy. She knows so much stuff! All the numbers make sense to her and she knows how to check the equation so the math turns into a backwards riddle.

Mom was awesome. She was just late again.

The timer buzzes from the oven and with one last look outside the rain-fogged window Carl moves to shut it off.

Mom had left him his favorite because she is awesome.

Only, he didn’t want to eat alone. He thought of Mr. Quaid across the hall with his smelly cat and tiny furniture but didn’t want to hear him complain about the tenants upstairs. He just wants to eat his favorite casserole with someone nice but all his friends were far away until school tomorrow. He wants to eat with his mom.

His eyes flicked to the clock again. He should complete his math worksheet; have it done before the morning so his mom doesn’t get mad. He clicks on the television instead and continues to wait amongst the blue glow of the screen. Mom is better at math and math will be better when Mom is here.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Land of Confusion.”

Caged

It’s funny how you only want to leave when someone locks you in. I was free before this –no, more than that, I was eager to be here. My fist had pounded on the entrance door for a moon’s turn, until my knuckles ran raw.

This place is a salvation, a home to feed and clean and love and keep you. None of those things come easily on the outside.

There’s a saying across the ocean: nothing good comes for free. Now, I’m here, reaching for keys that months ago were a warm weight in my pocket.

“Lights out.” I used to find peace in the schedule. My mind would quiet an instinct that felt caged, because I had the keys. Freedom was a choice then.

“Nightly song begins now.” The Voice bellows.

I croak familiar lyrics with the others, they are words of hope; they are the words that brought me here. They say this is part of initiation, succumbing to the hopelessness. We are not forewarned how long this part will last.

My feet trail along the stone floor as I reach for the keys, so close but always too far. Eyes watch me try and fail, try and fail.


Written for the Flash!Friday Writing Challenge. These elements but be included:

(1) Required story element (this week: theme. If you want your story to be eligible for an award, the below theme must be central in it. Note: read the history & examples of this theme here.)

Catch-22

(2) Photo prompt to incorporate:

Keys. CC2.0 photo by Apionid.

My Twin

I learned I was a twin when I was four years old.  It was during my first visit to the home of someone outside our small circle of family.  It was a place where no one knew the danger.

You see, up until then every home I visited had certain walls decorated with draped cloth. The cloths were so unimportant to my toddler mind I hardly gave them a second glance.  Though I knew instinctively, or more probably, I knew from training early on, that the drapes were not to be touched.

But there they were, consistently, in every home I entered. Until I met a girl at a park.

Four is too young to be at a park alone, so I imagine an unwittingly friendly babysitter or careless cousin was at fault.  Whoever they were agreed we should follow the girl home, to step foot into a house where no one knew about the drapes.

So it turned out, at the home of some random girl from the park, I first saw my own reflection.  Somehow I knew it was mine, the same dark hair I saw curling around my chin, same teeth missing. Only, it wasn’t just mine because as soon as my eyes met the ones in the reflection everything changed.

That was nearly twenty years ago.

I describe the feeling of switching much like the revolving doors I used to see in old-school horror or spy movies. The character steps onto a certain tile or pulls a lever or says a phrase, and the wall shifts around and turns into another room.  It is quite the same, only my secret room is my prison and my sentence is unknown.

We both learned early on to avoid anything that produced a reflection like people learn to avoid staring at the sun –we sense that it is there but, since what happens when I look at my reflection is worse than going blind from the sun well, we both avoid it at all costs.

We learned that time on the outside would last for as long as we could outrun a particular body of water or pane of glass. To everyone on the outside, to my parents and my friends, there is no disruption in the realms of existence. The Earth moves on like nothing happened. My family knows, though, can tell in an instant when it is me or when it is her.  It’s easy to read preferences from their expressions after one of us slips up and the switch occurs.

It should all be mine, every single morsel of time. I was the one they chose on the birthing table after the curse landed on our family. It was me they decided to save. But then they met her because of some stupid girl in the park who was ignorant of drapes and left reflections on nearly every surface. A vain girl with vain parents who needed a mirror right when they walked into their home, they were the reason it was all taken away.

Once they met her, they “loved us both” and the word share took on new meaning.

The longest I have waited in the prison behind the glass was a year.  “A year” was my family’s mercy, their one rule. If it hit a year without a switch, my parents would force us to stand in front of a full length mirror to trigger it. It was the only way, they said, to let us both live.

But what type of life is this where I enter into it over and over to see someone burn down every decision, every long term plan I’ve made?  What type of life is this where my own body is used without my consent?  A reflective food tray in the hospital once triggered the switch after she decided to undergo cosmetic surgery.  A sequin bikini once led me into a hot tub with three naked women and one happy man.

And what have I lost?  Countless moments that mattered cut short because unknown reflective surfaces.

This is no life to lead. I am twenty-five years old but only experienced fifteen of them.  The girl in the glass will continue to leech my years, stunt my life.

I learned I was a twin when I was four years old.  Now I have a job offer in my inbox and a marriage proposal impending and I’ve decided, it’s time to kill her.

I am standing in front of the first drape I ever saw. It’s the heavy velvet one in our living room, a dark slate gray that complimented our burgundy rug.

There is this moment during the switch, a mere second where the mirror is empty.  I caught it two switches ago.  Then I thought about it for the entire three months I waited for her to catch her reflection.  I am better at it than she is, I can, and do, usually go the full year.  She has lost her free pass to the world mere days after she has stolen it from me. I am usually the one in control, rightfully so but still, the thought is enough to make me reconsider my plan. To maybe…not murder my sister.

No. I deserve all my days and the plan already in place.

I formed a theory that in that moment the mirror is empty, whichever of us in transit is vulnerable. During this time, I still remain in my body to see and process that the mirror is empty so, maybe, she wouldn’t have a place to settle. Maybe if I destroy the mirror in that moment, I will destroy her along with it.

The crowbar is cold against my palm. I reach down to lift the corner of the drape, pulling it slowly up my reflection forms first in the shape of my jeans, the belt around my waist, the t-shirt along my stomach and up my torso. I pause at the neck, adjusting the weight of the drape more securely in my fist. I lift the crowbar up and poised to strike.  The reflection’s chin appears, the mouth turned to show my own determination.

My breath had caught somewhere along the way. I settle my nerves with a deep breath before moving the drape one last centimeter.  Our eyes meet, I still dictate the reflection and I see my own resolve tighten the skin around the edges of my stare.  I wait, the seconds stretching to minutes as I focus on the flickering reflection in the mirror.  Then, she is gone and I strike the crowbar down.

There’s a moment when time comes tumbling to life again, speeding up as I step back. The crashing glass is quieter than I thought it’d be, softer than even the crowbar hitting the wood floor and…if I had known those would be my last thoughts outside of my prison, I may had thought of something more important. Because in the next minute I am staring through cracked glass at a slate gray drape, counting the time as passed again.

Truth or Dare

“Truth or Dare?”  Sally asked with her nose tilted towards the ceiling, as if the entire game were beneath her almost-ninth grade sensibilities.

“Dare.”  Jake spat.  He crossed his legs so their knees brushed and added, “only chickens choose Truth.”

Sally had chosen Truth.

Despite being a year older, Jake knew she had the romantic experience of a fifth grader -as in, none at all.

She blushed, eyes meeting his for a moment before dashing away just as quickly.  He smiled as he watched her squirm. They were only playing this game because Sally had questioned him after Jake called himself “Daring”.  As if his love for skateboarding and habit of questioning authority failed to settle his reputation in the eyes of his next-door neighbor.

So now, it was the two of them, face to face and pushing each other’s barriers.  Now, through this game, Jake knows that Sally thinks he’s cute.  Her Truth settled, unmentioned, between them.

Sally’s eyes kept flickering from the ceiling to Jake and back towards the closed door.  He knew she’d pick something lame.  Her fingers kept turning into her sweater sleeves and he wondered if she’d make him run around the neighborhood naked or do all of her homework for a week.  No, Sally wouldn’t trust someone else to do her homework.

She bit her lip, eyebrows drawing together and he tried to read her mind.  When the blush reddened on her normally pale cheeks, Jake knew she settled on a dare.

“Kiss me.”  Sally said flatly.  Her eyes stopped their dance and drilled him with a stare.

Jakes jaw dropped as he realized he wasn’t the only daring one in the room.