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Red Marrow and Tomorrow

"Journal entry, November second." 

Eli mashed the Stop button on the digital recorder and let his hand fall loosely back to his side. He had finally warmed himself by nestling his limbs deep within his mattress’s plush bedding. Beside him, the nightstand, and on it were placed the familiar items. A lamp, a book, chap stick, and a water glass, which left a tiny rectangle spot perfectly sized for his digital recorder to live. It now lay atop the bedding beside his body as he clenched it in his palm. Feeling the thin plastic grate against the inside of his knuckles in a tight grip, he thought of the way some people carry journals and pens, and what those items might mean to the people carrying them. 

He thought of wombs and coddled children, and he thought of the special drawers mothers give to their pearls. 

He imagined the sanctity of a journal, the holy ground on which pens scotch. 

He thought of whiskey flasks on brisk nights, the joy of carrying familiarity on your person, and how flasks, like journals, hug the inside of breast pockets and are shaped just right for secrets. 

Above all he thought of ventilators, and iron lungs, and oxygen masks on old faces in hospital wards and all the other gadgets that help people survive for one more day, to just keep them breathing. 

With every salvation that journals offer, Eli likewise told everything to his recorder.

Head back against the pillow top, chin to the sheets, he created a new entry. He cleared his throat.

"Hooking the loose ends of a baggy sweater around my raw knuckles, I imagined the dresser top at home were the gloves I had forgotten sat dry and unused. When you bicycle through fifty degree rain in early November, being sideswiped by a speeding vehicle seems effortlessly more attractive than another mile of wet and cold.

Everyone looks at you madly. I must bike with an expression of rage in this weather. I suspect I can feel it too, tempering me, eyes scorning the Earth. To wipe my forehead with an ineffective wet sleeve only rips at the first layer of cold damaged skin upon my brow, and that's when I see them. A fantastic couple in Merino wool sweaters. Dry in their Volvo SUV. Foot heaters, most likely, on medium high. They smile through it all. Another quaint, rainy November night. Saying, 'I just love Chicago in Autumn, don't you?"

Eli took a swig from his water glass without stopping the recording and continued again.

"I once found a tattered Merino wool sweater at the thrift store for five dollars. I spent every day of a week wearing it, just to show it off. I kept asking friends to pull at the back of my collar to check the tag for authenticity, like looking for a serial number or dating code on an old oak RCA Victrola in a pawn shop. We are all the same poor here. you never ask my friends what whiskey they drink because you always figure it's bottom shelf.

It's easy to get sad. Hell, most days go by and if I'm not depressed about something, I feel misplaced. As though on the precipice of disaster, tragedy about to strike. Like in winter, they blast these heaters in shopping center doorways  before you exit. A bit of warmth before the frigid cold, but it only makes the chill outside worse.

Yet at the same time, if on any given day, I'm not overjoyed to tears about life's goodness and possibilities and whole heartedness, I feel just as odd. The most minuscule things can trigger my joy. I learn to pick up the pieces of people as they walk. Like small touches I cherish. Breezing past a friend at a party, they will just lightly extend their hand and smile from one room to the next, saying, 'Want another beer, Eli Salinger?" I love my fiends for that. For what they don't realize they do to me.

And that's how I know I'm doing it right. because I've started feeing things again. Like arriving home today, I could feel every nerve ending screaming, pealing off my rain soaked jeans from frozen thighs with cramped hands like paint stripping claws. And I've never been able to describe that before. I am more alive, more aware. More then when I had a car, arriving home warm and dry, and forgetting all the years so easily as they passed me by."

Eli let the recorder fall to the bed and they slept nuzzled there together, side by side.

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Rain

     Her shoes finally soak through and the water is dripping in the space behind her ears from the hair. She runs her fingers through it to get it out of her eyes. As she pulled away, a single piece of it clung to her fingers and she examines it quietly as we walk along. She looks so peaceful just now. Not that she ever looks anything other than that. But I guess I’d say she was always still, rather that peaceful. The two are not the same.
     I told her that, that peaceful and still are not the same and she glances at me, and though her face really doesn’t move, I can see the softness in her eyes. She likes the rain. I remember her telling me once about the smell of rain and the way it makes her spine tingle, like something is coming, without the anxiety of it arriving. I’d laughed at the time. It was exactly the sort of thing she’d say, reverent and unaware of its eloquence. I couldn’t laugh now, just admire the fleeting softness and the way she was dripping in the downpour. Her feet make squelching noises in her shoes and her clothes are hanging heavily from her body. She looks so thin and I suggest that we should grab some dinner while we’re out, but she doesn’t really seem to like the idea. I say that  we’ve come all this way and weathered the rain, we deserve an award, but her only response is to finger the end of the sleeves of her sweatshirt, where the ribbing is stretched and the elastic rendered useless from age. It’s a ratty old sweatshirt and I think she should throw it away, but she wears it so often that I don’t say anything to her about it aloud.
     It wouldn’t be worth it. Not now, when the rain is falling so directly upon us and her eyes are all softness, despite how much she blinks to keep the water out of her eyes. Her hair is in strands and I can see the hair that she pulled still caught between her fingers. I say that I think that the rain will never let up and that I think that I too shall become a puddle if it does not relent and her eyes soften. I think if she were to speak, she would tell me that a puddle would be an excellent state of existence, filling up and then evaporating, to later become a puddle once more. I tell her that to be a puddle would be an excellent state of existence and I think that she finds the assertion trite, but not so strongly as that, perhaps.
     Her shoes are soaked through and her feet squelch within them. Her fingers push the hair behind her ears, sopping up the rain that collects and cascades there. 

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Frankie’s whole body was shaking- her arms, her legs, the hand holding the gun. She ejected the empty magazine and dropped the handgun. It clattered on the ground.

"Holy shit, Colin- what the fuck- I… Did you SEE that guy?" She doubled over, taking a deep breath. "Damn, he came out of freakin’ nowhere!"

Colin nodded and walked over to the man’s dead body. The man was older- fifty, probably. He had a black backpack and the knife he had rushed at Frankie with.

"Pick up your gun," Colin said.

"Sorry-" Frankie knelt down and picked up the gun. She inserted a full magazine and sent the slide forward.

"We’ll take his backpack- and his knife. God willing he has some more ammo on him. That was a little excessive back there," Colin said with a frown.

"I didn’t empty the whole magazine," Frankie protested. "There were only three shots left."

"And you used all of them," Colin said, glaring at her. "You only needed one."

"And… we’re just taking his stuff?" Frankie stared at the dead man, at the sticky blood stains blooming across his shirt. He had been quick- almost too quick. Frankie only had just enough time to scramble back a few feet, grab her weapon, and shoot three rounds- two had hit his stomach, and one had hit his chest. And now he was dead.

"Look, Frankie," Colin said, exasperated. "He’s dead. He came at you with a knife, and you defended yourself. Believe me, he would have killed you if you hadn’t. You think he wouldn’t have taken your stuff?"

Frankie didn’t answer. She clicked on the safety and put her gun away.

"Things are going to get worse," Colin said. "A lot worse. People are scared, people want to survive. It’s not going to get any better. Now grab the backpack and the knife. Let’s get out of here."

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Snow

      Tension makes fists out of her heart. You can see it in the way she’s standing in front of me.  Feet spread, a hand holding onto her neck, fingers flexed and holding on to the spine beneath her skin.
     I pace the room nervously, a leaf in the wind and she just stands there, still as the tile flooring beneath her. She just stands there, her eyes following my movements through the small, bland room. I run into the teal curtain and the rings suspending it from the ceiling clang and scrape and she doesn't move, just shifts her gaze up to them, and then down again to me.
     I start babbling about the blandness of the room and the awful teal curtain. I make a joke about it, I think, and her face does not react. No smile, no admonishing frown. I think that I’ve made more inappropriate jokes than that, but at the moment none came to mind. I still babble though, and I think I’m sure she’s listening. I talk about the road conditions on the way here, about the snow and how it looked so pretty the way it clung to the leafless trees, like they were white instead of the dull gray-brown. She does not say that she thought that they were lovely as well, that the snow on the pine reminds her of her home in the north woods, where the snow falls and collects in such a manner as it did through the night, while she was asleep.
     I have not seen her chest rise and fall with the breaths I think that she must be taken, she takes them so imperceptibly. I cease in the words, but continue to pace, surreptitiously stealing gazes at her, gauging her lack of responses. There is a fluster of activity in the hallway, a gurney being rushed to an elevator. I look past anxiously, but she stands near the doorway facing in, looking ahead to the bed and to the window in the corner of the room.
     I start talking again, words pouring out of my mouth like water I had forgotten to swallow. I swallow, just to make sure that I do. I say that the snow is falling again, that we should be careful when we go home, that accidents can happen on the roadways, but she does not respond to my cautions. She must be able to see the snow falling outside. I say that the roads will be slippery and that accidents can happen when the salt and the sand haven’t been sprinkled over the asphalt yet and that accidents can happen. I say that winter is deceptive that it looks all still and calm, even as the snow is falling and that things look still and calm. I need her to respond in some minuscule way for me to be able to disregard the way my heart is twisting and writhing in my chest, not pacing but sprinting hitting the walls of my ribs like a bird in a glass cage, but she does not.
     Her fingers do not shift upon the spine in her neck. Her eyes still follow me, invisible lines forming intersections, oh no, intersections through the room. I want to stop moving, but cannot; my feet keep moving through the small hospital room like they’re sliding on ice.
      I keep babbling on about the weather and accidents and the way the trees looked this morning, and I realize that I can no longer form words and a groan escapes from the back of my throat, from my spine. She still looks at me.
     I finally catch my footing as a man in a long white coat quietly opens the door and enters looking still and calm.
     As he speaks, I look at her. She’s not looking at me, she’s looking out the window. Her heart is a clenched fist in her chest. Her feet are spread. A hand is holding onto her neck, fingers flexed and holding on to the spine beneath her skin.

 

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Gravity Always Wins

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Legacy Might Be a Dick

I like to think of myself as a nice guy. I even wondered why the lava supermodel seemed to be crying. Or leaking.

Probably leaking. Lava girls don't cry. Do they?

Anyway, I hit her with a trash can. She falls. The can melts.

The poor guy underneath her hips had third-degree burns, scratches and body pressure cauterized against his neck and other tenderer locations,  but he'd live. If he got medical help. Like me. I'm not a doctor. I skipped my residency to aid foreign kids in...uh... I forget. Guam?

Anyway.

Black lips hissed like a wasted sirloin, then she lunged at me. Probably a scream or roar or something. So I slash the lid across the back of her (literal?) obsidian hair as hard as I can. 

She falls. The lid starts to bend like butter. I drop it fast. 

I hit my panic button for an ambulance - private care is always faster, then I get him elevated and covered in my tux. I knew that jacket would get ruined. Who hosts a party in Detroit? I work soup kitchens, sure, but let's be serious.

Okay. Maybe not everyone in Detroit's a demon. Maybe.

The demon snaps up, throwing a clumsy punch. The air from it scorches an inch off of my left eyebrow and warps my glasses right out of prescription. Goddamnit.

"Those were 200 dollar glasses, asshole!" I throw an overstated roundhouse kick that sends her flying. The Italian leather goes with her, seared into her face. I swear. 

Then the fire in her dies. Under the ashes, there's a knockout blonde in the natural. Unconscious, but crying.

"Oh, goddammit..." I mutter. 

Like the superhero I aim to be, I give 8-Mile a good look at my fantastic obliques as I carry my demon off in my own shirt. I keep on the cummerbund, though. I am sexy.

And, yes, Doctor Franks, I know it. It was going to be a dumb party anyway. Exes...

 

writeworld:

I don't just want to be famous, I want people to really love me.

Writer’s Block


In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.

Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!

Because I like to see capable "normals" on a roster. His privilege is his superpower. He means well,  I swear.  He's just really, really working on his daddy issues. And god complex. And...

(C) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins.  Send me prompts.

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Adamant's Grand Tour

Ayesha Franks walked into the room like she owned it. After all, she did. She'd earned it the hard way.

Her glass heels chimed on the shining marble with every step down her personal spiral staircase. Eyes averted from the momentary gleam. Not just her shoes, not just the diamonds in her hair, along the razor edge of her cheekbones, wrapped tight around her long throat. Not just the gown itself, airy and electric blue, with shadows full of strength and strongly- worded suggestions.

Ayesha Franks was tall, smart, and she owned the room in every way. She was radiant.

Diamond discs lay flush across the backs of both her hands, held tight by loops and rings of hand-worked gold. Gilded vines of copper bound two more across the tops of her feet. A matching diadem fell just above her eyebrows, like the hawk's beak of a warrior's helm. Gold chains whispered music underneath her gauzy gown, just one more secret carried by her strut.

Just below her collarbones, a diamond the size of a human heart pulsed to the bass beat. She'd shaped and circuited the setting to cover a gunshot scar. Her heart stopped once; never again.

"If you're here to view paradise, simply look around and view it," she declared. She spread her arms, grinning white-toothed like a lioness. "Anything you want to? Do it!" She licked her lips at their applause, a little more dramatically than necessary. She bit them when she was really eager. "Want to change the world?" She sat on the steps, raising her glass. "Nothin' to it."

The crowd fell to a hush from her presence. Some poor man - her stylist - gasped. She laughed.

She struck the glass with a finger-snap, a perfect B note thrum. Diamond disco balls all around and above hummed to life, illuminating her showroom. Outside, the grid of synthetic diamond lights expanded. With one snap of her fingers, her reactor powered fifteen city blocks, clean and crystal clear. Instead of the whine of turbines, an operatic hum swallowed their stunned silence.

"See? Pure imagination, " she whispered. "We win." The crowd erupted.

It wasn't the standing ovation she was expecting. Mostly, it was MAC-10s and screaming. Without so much as a rebuttal, lead rain popped and hissed for her. Her eyes narrowed.

Sheets of priceless fabric sheared loose from her dress. The silly glass heels chipped down, inch by chopped inch, until bare feet struck the ground. The ends of the glowsticks holding her bun snapped, sending her braids slapping down her back. The flowing gown downsized to a party dress. Just as planned. She was radiant and she was unafraid. They couldn't even touch her.

Against the hail of hateful lead, she stood adamant and stood her ground. Grinning.

The bullets struck bands of humming light, ephemeral armor floating an inch above her skin. The diamond discs burned a wicked blue when a stray shot killed the lights. The bullet spray illuminated her perfect defense and her white-toothed lion smile. So they aimed for the crowd.

"For real?! Oh, HELL no!" With a single finger-flick, barriers snapped to life halfway through their blaring magazines, bursting it like a row of Black Cats in July. It was her party, after all. 

Ayesha Franks was born under the boot of violence. Rather than fear, she bit her lip in anticipation. "You get nothing. You lose. Good day, sir!" She laughed. Her fists clenched.

"I said good day!" Then, step by marble-slicing step, Adamant descended. And she was radiant.

Prompt: A comical Anonymous asked me:

Ironman.

I wanted to envision a black heroine with some of that Stark-brand swagger, but her own take on technology. Someone applying peace technology to necessary war, rather than the other way around...but having (maybe too much of) a good time with it. A millennial hero, I hope.

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Seeking writing prompts, feedback, questions, etc.

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A String of Dawns

(Trigger warning - see tags if concerned.)

It wasn't the falling lattices of flame that broke me. It was opening my eyes after they'd fallen.

It wasn't the stink. Brimstone, after a while, can be a comfort. I;d wandered through too many shells of homes, bonemeal crunching underneath ill-fitted, dead men's shoes. They'd been clean once - the shoes, the floors, the homes. Now they were tombs of dust and stink, but not even stink lasts forever. Flame was fresh. Flame cleans. Sometimes, in the flame, you found survivors.

The ropes and weaves of falling flames were almost always the last to die.

And it wasn't the scream of howling engines that electrified my heart. It was silence, open air.

Silence was certain. Engines had hope. Wings of possibility, Starya had called them. Friend or enemy? Food parcels or penetrating spikes? Every bird's a bird of prey, but you never could know if you were the intended meal. There's a comfort in that, in the thick of bonemeal and living flames. There's a chance that  shrill cry might just save your life. Birds call; survivors hear them.

And... it wasn't the taste of my own blood that tore the sweat out  my heaving chest.

It was the breath of sweet air, the scent of warm tea, the reality of a world that wasn't falling all around me. There was no gallows humor; only rusty gallows to remind me of the good jokes. There were no somber songs, just  children's voices who had never seen open skies and wept. There were no penetrating spikes, no wings or bonemeal. No Starya. No Starya. No falling flame.

It wasn't that she hadn't made it. It was that the flames had died.

It was that I had survived. It was that the bonemeal crunch never goes quiet.

But I'd survived.

Or had I, really?

Prompt: text-onlynopromises asked you:

2) I thought I was not in a dream, for I had seen this city once before in my nightly sojourn, but I was still asleep.

Lighter pieces with lighter prompts, I hope, over the next few days. I'll be traveling, so posts may come at odd times or with a surprising brevity! Be prepared!

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins.

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Journal


Write about a journal. Does it have an interesting look? Who does it belong to? Is it a mystery? Does it have a lock? What types of entries are inside? Are they personal thoughts, information, or random notes? Try writing them. 

(Prompt: GTD Index + Notebook + leather cover + antique key by Patrick Ng via get-scribbling)

I want to keep a record of the real you. Not before, not after, but who you ought to be.

I'm going to scratch on dry, browning paper all the perfect words that won't get any older, any wiser, any harder from the friction of the lives we've led. It'll just be wet ink on dry wood, treated with more care than we ever really managed. I'll leave the marks I always saw in you.

 

But this time, I'll be so much more inspired. I'll see you through me, past me, and over me. This time, I'll describe you. I'll go down every detail like little bites along your shoulder blades - I'll make it good, I promise, make it more about you than just myself. I'll rework every unsung song, revise every half-spoken conversation. I'll do you better. I'll be better. You'll be better than...

...You know. Before.

And when I'm done? You'll know. You'll see. I hope you cry, because you haven't for too long.

And when I'm done? I'll give it all to you: a leather-bound notebook, a key, and even matches.

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins

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Red, Revisited

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