Relinquishment [Flash Fiction]

I abandoned my baby on the coast, the day the skies rained with fire and brimstone and God called the mighty wrath of hell upon me. I had the puling thing alone in the woods where only the birds and beasts could hear my screams of rage. I lose track of the hours that I lay there on rocks that I had coated with leaves. The leaves disintegrated beneath me because of my sweating and shivering. When it came out I didn’t clean it much, just gave it a rap or two on the back until it started crying and waiting for the next part that I’d been warned about. I didn’t feed it. It was my baby, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t. It did not belong to me and I had to give it back.
I left my baby on the beach where I had stolen the things to make it with. Back when I thought that it was the answer. But I learned differently. I learned with every rust specked nail that scaled me and turned me fish skinned. I made the baby out of curse words and spittle and the dust of murdered friends. I did all that. I did.
It is too late to repent. Either way I will die now and I long for the release with every bone that abandons my body in fatigue. But the baby which is not mine was to live a life. I despise it for what it has done to me. It disgusted me from the moment it stirred within me. I could not look upon its weak face and I will never know it if it ends up in Hell with me. But I know this – it was my responsibility and my mistake and I relinquish its life to another. I have done it enough harm. Let someone else choose to be cruel or kind.

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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.

Giddy and Gone

I feel like forgetting

(In my fraught fear of freedom,)

That I cannot convey

My quite careless creation.

The words wear away

While I whisper “Why?”

And I decide to deduce

That the devil has danced

Along paths full of posies

And performed with precision.

I’m still so surprised

As I see the solution:

Guarding the gates

Gets me giddy and gone.

 

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.”

Blind Date [Flash Fiction]

His incisors gleamed in the cold fluorescent light and for a moment I imagined he was a vampire. Maybe he would sweep me off my feet, violently take me in his bed, sink his teeth into my flesh and suck the life out of me one tortuously sweet moment at a time.

Then again, maybe he would just bore me to death right at the dirty McDonald’s table. I stared at the splotch of ketchup that was dangerously close to his pristine white sleeve. I knew it was going to happen – I’d been spending the last hour and a half just waiting for the moment to happen. I thought it would at least bring some variety and interest to this dullest of all possible blind dates in the history of the world. Finally, as he wiped his mouth of the grease that had adorned his too-red lips, it happened. His elbow moved just half an inch sideways, apparently slipping, and a red dot adorned his sleeve. But even that didn’t help – he didn’t notice it had happened and just kept smiling at me weirdly.

It wasn’t that he was a bad guy. He was probably very sweet. But come on – McDonald’s? On a date? This guy had no class. Even though he was dressed in a white shirt with a starched collar, complete with delicate cuff-links.

“Tell me,” I finally broke into his monotonous monologue about his absolutely fascinating job – I still wasn’t sure what it was that he did, but I was convinced that he found it absolutely wonderful, which was, I guess, really nice for him. But he hadn’t managed to get across the simple idea of what on earth his job actually was. “Tell me, do you bring all your first dates to McDonald’s?”

He looked at me blankly for a moment and then picked up the empty carton where his fries had rested in greasy strings a few minutes ago. “We’re at McDonald’s?”

“Uh, yeah? Didn’t you notice?”

“Not really, no. You see, I don’t really pay attention to what I eat. I’m sorry. Was this inappropriate?”

I had no idea what to say. We’d been sitting in a brightly lit food-court munching on bad fast-food and he hadn’t noticed? “Wait. Wait a second. So you’re saying you didn’t actually mean to bring me here?”

“I didn’t bring you here, did I? Didn’t you choose the venue for this meal?”

“Um. No. I didn’t.”

“Interesting.”

What was with this guy? Had he been in a coma during the last couple hours? “Don’t you remember picking me up?”

“I did?”

“You did. Are you even aware we’re on a date?”

“Of course. Your friend, Judith, set us up.”

“Okay. So how do you think we ended up here?”

“I gather that we used some form of transport to reach this – where are we again? Some fast food restaurant, is that correct?”

This was getting to be too weird to deal with. How could he remember we were on a date, that Judy set us up, but not realize how we’re gotten from my place to the stupid mall? I was growing fascinated. Finally, the evening was getting interesting.

Weird

The past two-three weeks have been odd. I can’t put my finger on what it is, but things are being turned topsy-turvy in my mind, in my gut, in my heart. I don’t understand it, and although I’ve been trying to, I’ve also realized that I might not be able to really fathom what it is I’m going through.
Because of this, everything I’ve seen, done and experienced during the past couple of weeks has seemed dreamlike, as if it hasn’t been taking place in reality.
Have any of you experienced this? Do you have any tips on how to deal with it?

Gertrude’s Conscience

“Gertrude?” the clerk at the DMV smirked involuntarily when he read the name. He stifled his sneer as best he could, but she’d already seen and noticed it, as she always did.

“Yes, um, so can I please renew my license?” she asked quickly. She wanted to get the whole thing over with. The clerk asked her to wait a moment and went to a back room to do whatever it is they did at the DMV that took so damn long.

Gertrude sat, unmoving, on the uncomfortable plastic chair and fumed quietly. She cursed her parents for the umpteenth time for giving her such an old-fashioned name. She’d learned to like it in her teens because she felt it gave her an air of fragile antiquity and maybe some sort of old-fashioned elegance. But now, in her mid-twenties, she was learning to hate it again. Her boyfriend always told her he loved it, but they’d been together for so long that she never took his compliments seriously anymore.

She looked up at the large clock and sighed. She’d been waiting in line for what felt like forever, and now the sneering clerk with his comb-over and his ugly, crooked teeth was chatting, quite audibly, with one of his coworkers while he waited for something to come out of the printer. Gertrude stared at him sullenly, but looked away quickly when she realized that he might look back and see her watching him.

Instead, she put her head down and examined her nails. They were too long again, and she was much too lazy to paint them. It just didn’t seem important anymore, this having nice nails business. She just wanted them short enough so as not to be in her way and damn appearances. But even as she thought that, Gertrude scoffed inwardly at herself. She still cared about her looks, much more than she ought to. She felt the nape of her neck tingle right now, in fact, and was sure that one of the fussy, mean old ladies who were in line was watching her and frowning at the tattoo that was clearly visible on that area.

Gertrude felt that everyone disapproved of her, no matter where she went. Whether she was buying books that were technically considered teen-novels or walking into a designer-clothing store, she felt as if people stared and watched her, thinking that she was strange and odd and altogether not quite right.

Being not quite right didn’t bother her when she was alone. In fact, within her circle of family and friends she enjoyed being the odd one out. She liked having unique tastes and being considered a bit of a strange bird. In fact, she took offense when she was told that she was too normal. She felt that being normal was boring, wrong even. Especially as she wanted to be a teacher. Teachers needed to be odd, special, or plain nuts in order to have an effect on their pupils. Gertrude was convinced of this because the only teachers she’d ever had who had any impact on her were the weird ones that people laughed at but listened to.

It was only when she was out and about on her own that Gertrude felt uncomfortable. She kept her head down as often as possible so as to hide the large birth-mark that covered half her cheek with a purple tinge. In those moments of honesty to herself, she knew that she was hiding herself more than the birth-mark and that it only gave her an excuse to do so.

“Excuse me, Miss?” the clerk was back and had apparently decided that he couldn’t say her name without laughing. His formal address to her was almost more insulting than her name said with a snicker.

“Yes?” she answered, raising her eyes and looking at him politely. Like most clerks, he didn’t meet her eyes. She always tried to meet everyone’s eyes when she spoke to them, almost defiantly, as if to prove something.

“I’m sorry but you didn’t fill out the proper forms online, so we can’t renew your license yet,” the clerk said without sympathy. He was already looking behind her, his hand hovering over the button that would make the screen flash and the next number called.

“I did fill them out,” Gertrude said quickly, before he could dismiss her. “Can you check again, please? If you don’t have them then I’ll fill them out right now,” she offered eagerly.

The clerk emitted a little noise of distaste and impatience and without a word got up and went back to the computers that for some inexplicable reason weren’t set on the clerks’ desks.

Gertrude hated him for a few moments before reminding herself not to be a mean, selfish and judgmental idiot. She looked down again and tried her best to imagine the clerk as a good person who had a family and friends and belonged to another life that didn’t consist of the DMV. It was hard to imagine, but she nevertheless tried, in order to stop feeling bad about herself for hating someone so fiercely that it hurt.