Frowning in the Desert

Standing atop a dune, he truly comprehended the connection between sand and glass. Tumbling, slipping and sliding his way up the miniature hill, he’d cut his shins and forearms on the stinging sand. His hands were scraped raw. There were tiny grains of sand – grains of glass? – inside every fold of his body, cutting and scraping away uncomfortably. It was incredible to him that such small flecks of matter could sting so much.

The desert was not his home. He never intended to make it one. In fact, he hoped that he would, very soon, be miles away from the place. The broken-down plane that lay some yards away seemed to mock him, telling him he would never find his home again. He’d tinker with the engine tomorrow; today, tonight, he couldn’t stand the thought of being defeated by a machine he’d mastered through long years of study. And to think that he could have been a painter!

The desert around him was too vast to contemplate. He knew he would go mad if he tried very hard. So he decided to accept it in chunks; that night, all he needed to accept was the discomfort of the sand in his body. Thirst, hunger, loneliness and despair – these he’d leave for the following days.

Sliding down the dune, he returned to the shadow of his plane. He didn’t notice the beauty in the fact that there was a shadow at nighttime, nor did he notice the stars that lit up the sky like the brightest Christmas trees back home. He didn’t think, yet, of the secrets that the desert might hold or the treasure implied in those secrets.

He also didn’t think of the boy who would wake him up when dawn came; he didn’t know anything about him yet. Although he hated grown-ups and refused to admit he was one, he never thought that night of the sheep he’d be drawing in the morning or of the rose he’d be introduced to. So much was in store for him as he lay down to sleep, rather hopelessly trying to brush sand off his hands, but at that moment he could only frown and begin to weep.

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Kiss Me [Flash fiction]

“Kiss me.

I want you to kiss me.

Do I get a kiss?

So what about a kiss?

How about a kiss?

Goddamn it!”

Shannon’s face screwed up and she put her fists over her eyes, blocking the view of her rapidly reddening face in the mirror. She breathed deeply, trying to calm down. She felt the blush recede slowly, and took her hands away, although her eyes were still closed. Puckering her mouth, she made a soft kissing noise and then uttered a loud “yech!” Turning away from the mirror she grabbed the phone off her bedside table and scrolled through the texts she’d received from Peter. They weren’t many of them, but they all seemed to indicate that he enjoyed the two evenings they’d spent together.

So why won’t you kiss me? she thought fiercely, trying to telepathically send him the question burned across the coils of her thoughts. She wasn’t obsessing. She’d been warned not to obsess again, not over another one. The past three men had been nothing, bodies that she remembered stretched naked in her bed, unappealing in the morning when the alcohol and excitement had worn off. But Peter was different. He and she had known each other for years, had worked together companionably at the factory. There was that one week when she’d been transferred to make up for a lack of employees in some other section, and it had been horrible, full of men trying to hit on her and women who looked at her tank top and low-slung jeans derisively.

Peter saw past that. He told her about his troubles at home and how his wife’s last miscarriage had been the final blow for them. He was a widower, and three dead babies hadn’t helped him emotionally. But Shannon thought that she might be helping. She wanted to see him in her bed from the first time they’d met, but, uncharacteristically, she’d never made a move, even when he and his wife were separated. She waited until the divorce papers went through, and still never hinted at her interest in him. Instead, she continued to date others, pretending that everything in her life was just the same as it had been.

But then, finally, he’d asked her out. And now he wouldn’t kiss her. Tonight was the third date, and she didn’t know if she should kiss him or not. She didn’t want to, though. After years of being the initiator, she thought that it was someone else’s turn this time. She threw her phone back on her narrow bed and strode over to the closet. The door creaked as she opened it. She pulled down one of the blankets from the top shelf, a blue and purple afghan, and flung it over the mirror. Then she picked up her toiletry bag and went to the shared bathroom in order to get ready for her date.

But all night, the two words that kept going around and around her mind, looping like a broken record, were ‘kiss me.’

An Empty Room Full of People

The snow danced merrily outside Kelly’s window as the wind blew it this way and that, sometimes making little twisters out of it, at others merely sweeping it across the flat roof. The window overlooked a part of the apartment complex that was inaccessible to the tenants, which was a shame, since it seemed to invite a picnic table and chairs during the summer months, and a beautiful place to stargaze and shiver during the winter.

Kelly, however, was insensible to all of this. Her eyes zoomed continually between the keyboard and the screen. Twenty-two years old, her fingers were round and pudgy and still unable to type easily. Kelly had often tried different methods of touch-typing, but she never got the hang of it. It wasn’t so bad, though, since her eyes had learned to move with almost supernatural speed between her typing fingers and the words forming in the blank white boxes on her screen.

Her world was not one of cold and heat, flesh and blood. She would claim differently, of course, for she could absolutely feel emotion, thought and true friendship flowing from the words on her screen. The people she interacted with lived all around the world, some as close as a few apartments away, and others as far as England or Japan. Kelly could see each of them in her mind’s eye, as well as the characters they portrayed online. She spoke to them daily, almost hourly, via the little white boxes that she filled with frantically typed words, chosen carefully so as to display her wit, her inner beauty, her true personality.

When a knock came at the door, Kelly called “It’s open!” without looking up. Two of her friends came in, friends who weren’t a part of her online world. She glanced at them and looked back down to refresh the page and see if there were responses to what she’d written yet. Yes! She grinned and began to read.

Her friends took her smile as directed at them and swooped towards her for an awkward hug. They had to struggle across the floor, strewn with dirty laundry, empty cereal boxes and soda bottles, to get to her, sitting cross-legged on her bed with her laptop perched securely on her knees. She put one large arm out to pat each hugger absent-mindedly on the back, but hardly listened as they began to describe the party they’d been at, how they’d missed her and why she should now come with them.

“Hm?” she asked, looking up with unfocused eyes.

Her friends repeated their questions, exchanging glances of exasperation. Kelly was always like this, they seemed to say to each other silently, and, as they’d expected on arrival, they left her in her small room without managing to draw her away from her computer. As they left, each of them saw her as being incredibly alone, a small mound of  a person sitting lonely on a single bed.

Kelly didn’t hear them close the door behind them. She felt surrounded by people, and she chuckled as she read a joke, almost hearing the laughter of people all around the world chiming along with her own.

Horror

Horror doesn’t only happen at night, you know. It happens on the streets of London and in the slums of New York. It happens in the homes of the rich and the poor alike. It happens in your back garden when you’re not looking, or right in front of you when you’re trying not to see. Horror is everywhere.

Believe me, I know. Why? I’m not sure you’d understand. I’m not sure you really want to know. See, there’s a problem with you people – you always say you want to know, but then you cringe and cry, snivel and beg, and I need to deal with it. It all gets very tiresome. So if you want me to tell you why I know about horror, you need to promise me that you can deal with what I’m going to tell you. Well?

Ah, there, I knew it. Once you’re confronted with what happened to everyone else who asked the same question, you back off. That’s smart of you. Sometimes you people actually do learn something. I like that. There’s nothing fun about playing with your food if it doesn’t know what the outcome is. The mouse, for instance, instinctively knows that the cat wants to eat it, so when a cat’s paw descends on its tail, it’ll bit that bit off in order to get away. Of course, once it does that, the cat will catch it by its body and eat it anyway. But the point is, the only reason it’s fun for the cat to play with the mouse is because the mouse knows what’s coming. And now, you do too.

Now, now, don’t give me that look, please. You knew from the moment you called for me what was going to happen. Yes, remember? You’re the one who called me here. You called horror upon you, and horror comes in the guise you gave it. It’s time for you to live with it simply being your own fault. You think you’re dreaming, I know, and maybe you are! But tell me… Right now, does it matter whether or not you’re dreaming? I’m pretty horrible either way.

 

A Relationship

“I can’t take it anymore!” Nell screamed. “I just can’t! I don’t know what I can do anymore, I really don’t!” She was at her wit’s end. It had gone on for far too long, and she had no idea how she’d let things get to this point. “What more do you want me to do for you, huh? What more can I do to please you? I can never win with you, you know that? It’s a lose-lose situation, no matter what I do!”

She huffed, and paced, walking from one side of the carpeted living room to the other. Her hands clasped behind her back, she tried to calm down a little. “Is there something I can be doing that I’m not? Tell me – is there? I’ll honestly do whatever it takes. I’ve been with you too long to give you up, even though I’m this close,” she held up her hand, forefinger and thumb almost touching, she was holding them so near. “But I’m not going to run from this – relationships are something you need to work on, everyone says so.”

Continuing to pace, Nell waited. And waited. The silence lingered. She burst out again, unable to restrain herself. “But how can I make you happy if you don’t tell me how?! I feed you, I clothe you, I bathe you – I take care of you, damn it! But you keep saying it’s not enough! I try to do things for you, I really do, I swear I do!”

Tears now stained her face. Her voice broke and she sat down heavily on the couch, pulled her legs up and hugged them tightly to her chest. “Tell me, please, I beg you, tell me what I can do,” she was rocking back and forth, sobbing, her anger evaporated. Only a deep, heavy sadness remained. “Please… please tell me… Tell me how I can make you happy – I’ll do anything, I swear, I promise, I really will,” she looked up imploringly, her eyes two pools of salt-water, pleading, waiting for an answer.

There was no one else there.

Twins

Once upon a time,

there was a girl

who lived in a town

all by herself

and she was fine.

She went to work

every day

and did what she

was told

and went to bed every night

at a reasonable hour.

She was a good girl

this girl.

Once upon a time

there was a girl

who lived in a town

all by herself

and she was fine too.

She stayed in bed

every day

and read a book every night

and she stayed up late

talking to people in her head.

She was a bad girl

this girl.

Once upon a time

there were twins

who lived in a town

together

and they worked some

and they played some

and they read some

and they slept some

and they talked some

and they danced some

and they were happy

and they were sad.

These were just girls,

these girls.

In The Spirit of The Gilmore Girls

I don’t know how many of you out there are aware of the TV show “The Gilmore Girls” and I also don’t know whether or not it had as much hype surrounding it in its native country as it did here. I think every single one of my girlfriends watched and loved it at a certain time in their high school years.

My mother and I are not to be excluded from the GG fan base! Oh no, we watched it religiously whenever it was on, and rejoiced at the time when the reruns were on every day and we got to giggle at the excellent script and sigh at the love affairs and family dramas. The odd thing about looking back at that time is that my mother and I, though on good terms in comparison with many a mother and daughter of the day, were not nearly as close as we are now.

Now, she and I, the two girls in the house with only our cats to keep us company, are close. We’re very close, I should think. I cannot express how much it means to me to be able to consider my mother as a friend and confidante, and I love our evening routine of dinner and a movie together. I hope against hope, though it’s quite a foreign thought to me as of yet, that I manage to have such a good relationship with my children as my parents had with me.