Forgotten Ground

There is nowhere in the city where people don’t put their feet inside of their shoes, their sticky, stinking shoes, with gum and grime and dog waste and spit of a thousand disgusting young men on the bottoms of their souls. No, that is not a mistake, in case you were wondering. I never make mistakes. I am deliberate a fault, each and every one of my fault lines is purposeful and is there to make you trip and fall and break your necks, the same necks you take such pains to make smooth with operations and suctions of various sorts and different kinds of nips and tucks and pulls and lifts, as if you can climb into an elevator and make time go back if you take it from the seventieth floor to the twentieth floor fast enough but what you forget is that the hand that you use to press the buttons will always look the same no matter what happens to the rest of you on the way.
The only places that are forgotten are misnamed thus because things that are forgotten are done so by accident, but these, these places are as purposeful and deliberate as each of the cracks I put in the sidewalks for you to slip and trip and pool your blood and life and your lifeblood in. The forgotten grounds are always remembered by those who live in them and wish they could forget about them and return to the places they came from, the places they used to live and that they fled from because they thought that they could come here, where everything is oh so much better because that’s what you tell them on your black boxes with people smiling so brightly with little white pearls replacing their teeth.
There are no forgotten grounds. There are only those neglected by the shoes of those who think that their souls are so much cleaner and that their behinds never let out a single spray of brown waste and that there is nothing but smooth plastic between their legs and that the pits between their arms smell of the sweetest perfume at all times. Those people don’t even really think that this is the truth but they wish it was so deeply that they try to make everyone else in the world believe that it is and it is there, in their minds and hearts, that the real forgotten wastelands of kindness and feeling and truth lie.

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Floating On

Above the clouds, looking down at their spiraling turrets and sweeping fields of snowy white substance, a soul flies. It is lonely, disconnected, lost. It is searching for something among the cool and constantly shifting vista below. A little while ago it passed above a hole that showed the brown and green of land. If a soul could blanch, it would have grown pale to see that. The far away land wasn’t what it was searching for. In fact, it was what it had fled from. The answer it was searching for was supposed to be in the clouds.

The soul floats on. Most of all, it fears the intrusion of loud and dirty airplanes, full of bodies with souls more or less trapped inside them. It doesn’t miss the weight of flesh, nor the noise of humanity. It wishes, sometimes, that it could have experienced the desert, seen the emptiness of the sand dunes and spent the nights gazing at the endless blanket of stars that hangs above the world like a soft dome.

But the life it was given was not such a calm one. The soul can’t remember it very well, but it knows that it never felt at peace, caged inside the coils and toils of the brain it used to reside in.

Freedom isn’t all it’s cracked up to be either, though. The soul continues to float, and slowly loses its belief in what it was hoping to find among the clouds. It’s been wandering among them for long enough now to become disillusioned.

Next time it sees a hole in the clouds, it peeks down. If a soul could gasp, it would have. If it could have clapped its hands, it would have. Instead, it swoops down, faster and faster, the air drawing its formless vapor into a long and softly colorful streak. As it approaches the land beneath it, the heat and dust of a desert rise up to meet it.

He’s in the Kitchen [Flash Fiction]

Who? Satan, that’s who. He’s a chum, a pal, you see, of my pop. Pop has him over round ’bout once a month, for beer and a chat. They yap their jaws like nobody’s business. They talk and talk and I lie abed like Pop told me to and try to listen, but I can never understand no words nohow. It gets so mighty hard to take, knowin’ the king of hell is in the room just across the hallway, but Pop says he made a deal and he’s gotta abide by it. Pop’s a man of his word, I know that. He’s never made me a promise he didn’t keep, and I know he won’t ever.
Lacy says that Satan once came and spoke to her but she’s a big liar and likes to make hersel’ seem big and important, that she does. She says that Satan gave her an offer, jus’ like he gave Pop, but she said no on account of bein’ too young. She said he should come back in five years and ask again. That was two years ago. Lacy is seventeen now, and I’m fifteen. I guess fifteen is the age Satan likes, cause tonight he comes and knocks on the door to my room.
“I haven’t seen you since you was in diapers,” says Satan, nodding his big head and smilin’ all kind-like. He ain’t so scary once you get used to him. Sure, his skin’s a little strange, and his horns take some gettin’ used to, but all-round he looks a mighty lot like Santa Clause, only in a fisherman’s gear and not a big red suit. He’s fat and jolly, is Satan.
“Yessir,” says I. I wait but he jus’ smiles down at me. He looks like he’s gettin’ taller every second. Pop says that can happen with him – he doesn’t look the same two seconds in a row.
“Gertie,” he says all solemn suddenly.
“Yessir?”
“I have a proposal for ya.”
“Sir?”
“The same one I made your pop all those long years ago.”
I guess Lacy wasn’t lying, and that’s a surprise right there. I think my mouth stays open too long, cause Satan puts a finger under my chin and closes it and says “Don’t want the flies getting in there, do ya?” I don’t know what to say, so I shut up for a while and think.
What have I got to lose? I’m short and ugly, Lacy got all our ma’s looks, and I ain’t brainy neither. Pop is good to me and I’m his favorite, that’s true, but nobody else in town takes much store by me. I think now that Pop maybe never made an effort with Lacy and me really cause he knew Satan would help us along by and by. I think of Sunday school and the old preacher-man who talks for hours and doesn’t say anything. And I think of the talks that Satan and Pop have. I hear ’em laughing a lot. It sounds kinda nice, the way they talk, and Pop always looks kind of young and smooth after Satan leaves.
So I stretch out my hand and tell Satan “Alrighty then. Shake on it.”

Tired

Tired.

My eyes are tired.

My cheeks are tired.

My mouth is tired.

**

Tired.

My lungs are tired.

My arms are tired.

My hands are tired.

**

Tired.

My thighs are tired.

My knees are tired.

My feet are tired.

**

Tired.

My mind is tired.

My soul is tired.

My heart is tired.

**

Tired.

McS’s Feet

It was one of the last really warm days of autumn. You know the kind of day I’m talking about. It’s the day right after you start to notice that the leaves have really all turned into wonderful shades of red and orange. It’s the day right after you start to move all your heavier clothing to the front of your closet and the top of your drawers. It’s the day that takes you, and everyone else, by surprise and makes the atmosphere seem happier for no reason except that the wind is blowing warm and soft and the sun is shining and the birds are singing.

Only it wasn’t day anymore. It was evening, now, the wind still blowing warm across the young faces wandering around the not-very-well lit paths. The sweet notes of a guitar strumming were emerging from one window while a heavy bass note could be heard through the walls of a building across the way. The smell of marijuana was thick in the air as it almost always was, while still seeming to be entirely smokeless. The leaves rustled in the dark tops of the trees, and now and then one or two would flutter down to the ground, hitting a shoulder or arm on the way.

Through the partial darkness, McS walked in bare feet. She walked along the gravel paths serenely, back arched just a bit – maybe naturally, or maybe because of many years of dancing. Her blond hair was cut short, with just a swoop of bangs across her forehead signaling that she was style-conscious. Other than that, she defied convention. Her face was unadorned by makeup, her clothing was simple and usable, but she carried herself with such confidence that your eyes couldn’t help gazing at her with a sort of awe.

One of her toes bore a ring, but other than that, her feet were completely bare. She wasn’t afraid of glass or stones or twigs to come in her way. She didn’t even glance at the ground as she made her easy, charmingly swaggering way back home; her shorts and tank top clung to her, showing off her muscles and her curves, while never seeming tacky, flashy or exhibitionist.

Her feet were bare as she walked, and she knew – just knew – that she could walk around the entire earth if she were to put her mind, body, will and heart into it.

Objects’ Spirit

I often wonder whether or not inanimate objects have spirits of their own. Oh, I know it sounds absolutely crazy, but stay with me for a moment.

Haven’t you ever felt close to something that was just… well, a thing? A favorite mug, perhaps, or a painting that moved you. Maybe a childhood toy or stuffed-animal or a piece of jewelry or even the first car that you called your own. Of course, stuff is just stuff. We all know this. There’s no argument that if we had to choose between saving our friends and family from a fire or saving our things, we would choose the people in our lives over the mere objects that we’ve accumulated.

And yet, I always feel that the mere act of possessing something and appreciating it instills a kind of life in it. I find myself talking to my computer at times – sometimes aloud, sometimes only in my head. I know that I could never get rid of Beary-Bear or Twinkle, my favorite teddy-bears. I know that the bowl in which I pour my Quaker Squares in the morning seems to greet me cheerfully in the mornings when I dip my spoon into it.

What if objects actually did have some sort of life or spirit to them? What if they whispered amongst themselves when we went to sleep, chatting about how we used them during the day; complaining when we were unkind or rough or when they were ignored. What if they appreciated our attention or loathed it? What if our refrigerators were in love with our stoves?

Well, maybe they do have a life of their own. Maybe they do communicate. It would sure explain how when one appliance breaks, everything else seems to follow it in breaking. It would explain why some objects charm us and make us love them while some make us put them way back in the shelf or never buy them in the first place. It would explain that bizarre feeling when we get up to use the toilet at four in the morning and feel as if someone’s just stopped talking when we woke up.

Ah, the things one thinks about at midnight…

Writing Exercise: The Portal

It’s not every day that you see a portal. Actually, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a portal in my life. Well, let me amend that; I’ve seen portals, but they were just regular doorways or windows, a portal from one normal space to another. This portal, the one I saw today, was different.

At first, I wasn’t sure that what I was seeing was a portal. It looked like a shimmer of air – like the sort of shimmering that happens above the flames of a bonfire in a hot and humid night. As I drew closer to the wavering patch of air, I realized that if I looked at it out of the corner of my eye, I could see something through it. What I should have seen through it was just the trees, tall and boring palm trees, on the other side of the park. Instead, what I saw through the patch of air was something exceedingly odd.

It looked like a kind of demonic vortex: a sort of whirlwind of dark colors, weaving through each other and around and around the spiral they made, tumbling over one another and creating frightening images if I tried to concentrate on them. Sweat poured down my face in the summer heat as I kept turning my head this way and that, trying to see where the moving tunnel inside that patch of air led to. It was no use, however. The spirals of color just kept on and on inside that portal, and the ending was so far away it just looked like a black dot at the end.

The portal drew me towards it. I took a step, and another. I wanted to enter it, get swept up in that endless darkness and see where it would lead me. Before I knew it, my hand was inches away, reaching towards the shimmering air through which I saw the tunnel.

My logic kicked in. I snapped my hand back. I shoved both hands in my jeans pockets, like unruly children who had gotten away from me and needed to take a time-out. With one last, involuntary yearning, glance at the portal, I turned away. I turned my back on the fate that would await me if I entered that darkness. Now, at day’s end, my curiosity burns for that knowledge and my logic must sooth my imagination. “There, there,” it says in my mind. “It couldn’t have been anything good. There, there. It’s alright.”