A New Face

k~ continually inspires me. As such, much like she has successfully done previously, with this week’s Inspiration Monday challenge, I attempted to use not one, but all five prompts. I hope it worked, and I hoped you like.

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“You’ve gone and fouled up the whole scheme of things, now haven’t you? Why don’t you just wipe that stupid grin off your face?”

The words never left her mouth of course, but through her bristled stare and hardened oxblood-red lips, you could tell that that was exactly what she meant to say, the very moment that she worked up the courage to actually do so. Sadly, it was a courage she’d been “working up” for most of her adult life, but to no avail.

“That is OBVIOUSLY the blouse isle,” she continued to silently scream through the thrift store where she stood at a safe distance, “and YOU are OBVIOUSLY in no need of any of those!”

Again, her lack of courage being an instance where cowardice in one, is a blessing to the many around them.

Having difficulty swallowing her disdain, she cringed as she observed blouses – colorful, flouncy and free – being held up first in surprised joy, and then to the breast, checking to see if they would fit.

“And being so flagrant about it! The nerve! You should only be the way the good Lord made you – no use in being any different! Why, it would be a sin – it would be like going up the drain!”

Her face continued to harden, making of it almost a new face, as she stared only through the windshield of her ignorance and fear while murmuring finally aloud through clenched and ground-down teeth, “I can only imagine the shame your poor family must feel…”

Her words were cut short by the appearance of the man who saddled up next to the teenage blouse browser. Shaking his head slowly in sad disapproval, he pleaded, “son, we’ve talked about this. You can NOT buy that blouse. Dude, you know that that shade of green makes you look totally dead! Besides, I found a pair of cool pumps you might wanna buy instead.”

The boy replied with a quick and excited “awesome!” as he hurriedly placed the blouse back onto the rack.

And in that action was when he finally noticed her, their eyes locking for a brief moment. He smiled naturally, and before he broke contact, placed both thumbs high up into the air as he mouthed the earnest and complimentary compliment of, “I LOVE your hat!”

In that moment, and while still only a shade of a glimmer of a possibility of an idea to her yet-hardened soul, she could have almost sworn that as he turned away she saw in him a different face. A face somehow new.

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For today’s post, I was going to end with another song altogether, before stumbling upon the choice below. I think this says exactly what I was hoping to say, only far more eloquently. Mainly – in the (new) face of hate, Love is our only defense…

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Silent Conversations

Sorry kids, but a very busy week means that this week’s Inspiration Monday isn’t arriving until Friday – err – today.

As always, I hope you enjoy…

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The clean, crisply folded clothes sat behind him, pleading to be placed safely back away, deep within their horizontally sliding wood and formica hovels. Begging to be taken out of the broken and rather dreary piece of molded plastic, that at one point had been proud to call itself a laundry basket. But instead of doing so, he sat facing away and inattentive, sipping aggressively at his vodka-straight while he stared into his computer screen.

In front of the screen was a keyboard of no importance, but atop it was a slightly crumpled, possibly tear-stained sheet of scrap paper. Scrap paper that had the word “flight” noted excitedly upon it. Scrap paper that was intended as a reminder for a task that was never realized, never completed. The scrap paper that now mocked him knowingly, as he moved it nervously – unable to dispose of it altogether – from this side to that, across the keyboard which remained of no importance.

To the left of that very keyboard, his phone violently burped out a small blue light, alerting him as to incoming messages, silent conversations wishing to be held. Raising its electronic hand in this fashion meekly, the phone likewise hoped to garner his attention. But much like the laundry before it, it had no success, as he continued to stare – dead-eyed but not numbed – into his computer screen, with one finger aimlessly stroking the rim of the vodka’s tumbler.

The tumbler itself and the vodka had very little to say, as they were both feeling incredibly loved and important at the moment. Seeing that the ice cubes might cause an interruption to the affection being unceremoniously showered upon it, the vodka had already taken careful measures – through the use of its limited knowledge of chemistry – to ensure that both cubes were forever silenced by their watered-down oblivion. Their raucous clinking now abated, still, into the screen he stared, sucking a combination of air and 80 proof through clenched teeth.

A screen that, being unlike the rest, in that it was unable to speak, was feeling very uncomfortable at this moment. For as he stared at it, it in turn was forced to stare at him – forced to gaze deep into his booze-soaked eyes. Held captive as it observed the sadness that created the tears, that in turn slowly strolled down his cheek, into the forest of his absent-minded beard.

The screen realized of course that he wasn’t staring at it, per say, but this understanding did little to make the whole experience any more palatable. And on the occasions when he actually touched it drunkenly – caressing it really – longingly, the screen could almost imagine what it must feel like to shiver with desire. It did not of course, as it was only a speechless screen after all.

While touching the un-shivering screen, he softly wondered why. Why had he made her countenance his screen saver in the first? With his free hand he found himself again stroking the lip of the tumbler, in some hope of finding a nick or a gouge – just something – to make him bleed. Just enough as to remind him that he was alive, and in this space, not hers.

He missed her.

Dammit, he missed her.

And that wasn’t like him. It wasn’t what he said this life would be, moving forward. And yet, here he was – the cacophony of his everyday life literally screaming for attention – and he, being only able to sit and stare. Not blankly at a random and mute screen, but at every nuance of the personage represented there, eyes and hair aglow, coming to life in vibrant 1024 x 768 dpi.

A cat, the only solitary living being within the house besides he (and a growing family of mice that neither yet had figured out was sharing the same roof), silently nudged its head against his shin, hoping as well to begin a conversation of sorts that would involve many strokes to the forehead and maybe even a treat or two.

Not diverting his eyes, he rubbed his thumb forcefully against the cat’s head – right where favored, upon the bridge – in blind observance of the tradition. But otherwise the feline as well, found itself unsuccessful in engaging, and decided to stalk off to its favorite corner instead, watching him with disdain, as he slowly continued to caress the random piece of glass that happened to be housed within an equally random piece of plastic. Both of which worked together to contain a countenance – due to its blatant lack of scent – unrecognizable to the cat, but still somehow very real to the man who beheld it.

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Unsatisfied

This mash-up brought to you by Trifecta’s very last one-word challenge, followed by Inspiration Monday‘s prompt. Both of which in turn were inspired by The Replacements, of course…

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The heels clicked smugly against hardwood, to satisfy her feeling victorious.

Never deeming a backward glance required – relishing with blind dispassion his devastation over losing her – as such, she never glimpsed the ball-peen rushing towards her head.

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706 Words Plus A Sentence

Parallax, parallax, parallax.

Say it three times, and it’s yours. Write it three times and, well, I suppose you’ve wrote it three times.

A new word learned, but of my Master Class and Inspiration Monday mash-up (as always, the prompts are in bold), this is only my second go – and fittingly enough – a response of sorts to my previous effort.

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storch-badgeI do hope that this second entry helps to explain Carl at least a touch bit further to those readers who were ready to take up Lou’s defense unabashedly (myself included), and as always, I hope that you enjoy…

I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen. Up until everything went to hell that is, I thought as I smiled at him. One last time, same as I always had.

But as had become the norm, Lou’s response was not at all as it had once been. No, I could feel that – much like his idle stare – his love was gone, somehow vacant. His desire, gone, somehow removed. His trust in me was gone… Just gone.

The accident had changed Lou, making him not only untrusting or me, but untrusting of every man.

I’m sure his ex had some sort of subversive say in this. The bitch always did, after all. He relied too heavily upon her opinion, even though while he lay there in the hospital, she came only once, and even then just to bully him in regards to the “maintenance” he found himself unable to pay, due to his latest misfortune.

And to himself, I suppose he felt he was just that. A misfortune. An unintentional misery.

But to me, he was beautiful. Scars and all, pain and questions be damned, to me – at one point – he was Beautiful. To me, he had shown through it all. His children were great kids, and a testament to the man he was. True, they’d always had an inkling – but none of them, not even the daughter – gave up on him when he eventually came out, unlike their mother, who had so readily done so well before.

Her loss was most definitely my gain, and I gladly caught him when first she gave him the boot. While I was younger and more experienced, that didn’t matter to me, as he was the one so much more well versed as to life in general. True, I tried in vain to create of my young career a caricature of an older persona believable, all while he partied much too hard, trying to reconnect with a youth that was stole years prior. But we still truly knew each other, and I marveled at his wisdom, while enjoying the lovemaking that we shared resulting from his years of tutelage – his years of understanding, appreciating, and loving the human heart.

But then, as he became so mindful to tell people, the accident occurred. He was hammered at the time, and sadly, since we had a third party designated, I found myself none too sober either. As such, I watched him fall. Watching him try in vain to avoid flakes that would’ve never hurt him regardless, I screamed as he fell hard and fast to the ground. I screamed knowing that I couldn’t catch him this time.

I remembered being in tears, chasing his ghost down the stairwells as I prayed for his safety to a God that I hadn’t believed in in years. Praying, until I met his battered and wobbly flesh convulsing on the ground floor pavement.

Battered, but not dead. Wobbly, but not defeated.

But over time I found that sometimes death comes slowly, and his came painfully so at that. The grey cloak of mistrust covered first his face, eventually boring deep into his eyes.

He began insisting that there were others more important to me.

There weren’t, though there were dear friends who supported me.

He insisted that I found peace in another.

There wasn’t, though I did eventually take his advise unwittingly.

He insisted that I would leave him,

I wouldn’t, but eventually – and once I realized that he had already done the same to me – I did.

A strange parallax our relationship had become, one wherein he had thrust his own traits, his own desires, instead upon me – almost as if to justify himself feeling as he did. It was a relationship made all the sadder because that was exactly what his ex had previously done to him.

I loved him. I loved us. But he was sadly incapable of either, and now we are both alone.

So what’s so “extraordinary” about this tale, you ask? Well it’s just that. That no matter un-extraordinary it was, nor how painful it eventually became, I still consider myself blessed by a God I might yet one day believe in, that at one point in time it was mine to share in, mine to behold.

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792 Words Plus A Sentence, Plus Another Sentence

As honored as I always am to be the one chosen worthy to pick a prompt, I very rarely ever provide just one, as I feel that the challenge host may also want a say in the matter. And this week Prof. SAM did just that, deciding to offer the Master Class 2014 students (2) of the (3) I provided as options (please click the link above to learn more about the prompts, and to play along).

We were told we could use either one or both, so you know that I just had to try for the latter. I also decided to take the Prof.’s lead and jump on board with the Inspiration Monday prompt (using “epilogue”) as well. I hope it all worked well in the end, and I do hope that you enjoy…

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Unruffled, Carl smiled at me one last time, as he’d always done.

That smile, the very one that originally attracted me to him long before it ever turned into such a nuisance. The smile that used to arouse every last inch of even my soul, had since then become almost a standard bore to his condescension. His condescension not just to all men, but especially towards me. When first I realized that I could no longer look pretty for him, and attempted to become more learned in order to somehow compensate – to have more to offer – I read somewhere something to the effect of, “There are some people you like immediately, some whom you think you might learn to like in the fullness of time, and some that you simply want to push away from you with a sharp stick.”

Now what the somewhat naive author of this particular ideology didn’t realize, was that of these three options, the worst type – the very worst – was that of the unmentioned fourth kind, primarily those like Carl. Those who presented themselves initially as the former type, when in fact and over the course of time, proved to be truly those of the latter.

Carl was my first you see. And right from there, I should’ve realized the epilogue of this story. He was younger than I, but more experienced, and much more comfortable in his own skin. Partially as a result of his being a lifelong “team player,” he had no children to explain things to (as did I) and he had absolutely no qualms about publicly bantering his freak flag about, (as I sometimes – well, most oft-times – was fearful to do.)

Ultimately, he wasn’t really the one who called me out. But he, him and that damned smile, was the first one there, waiting to catch me when it happened. His scruffy beard, disheveled wardrobe and bookish knowledge, all played well into the role of the professor that he was trying valiantly to project early on in his career. And when he placed it all “just so” – again with that damned smile to wrap up the whole package – I found myself beyond smitten, finally ready to embrace and experience a truth about me left for years in the dark closet of my being.

We enjoyed a love together longer than I thought possible. Longer (and more passionately I might add) than I previously had experienced with any woman I had ever swore my allegiance to. It was a sort of heaven really, and I’m almost certain that ours might have even been a case of “happily ever-after,” had the accident not occurred.

I won’t tell you too much about it, as it is still painfully embarrassing to this day. Suffice to say, there was a lot of alcohol, a blustery night, one last joint, a menacing snowflake or two, and a 3rd floor patio with unreliable rails involved. My chances of survival were almost guaranteed at that height (though mom swore that my continued breath upon this plain was “simply miraculous,” and a sure sign from Jesus that all my recent “impure love” foolishness had to stop to prevent further punishment), but the visual quality of my upper body and face were seriously in doubt, as in the game of rock/paper/scissors, it turns out that hardened cold concrete always beats aged bone and drunken wobbly flesh. Carl wasn’t the one to blame for the fall, but this time he wasn’t able to catch me either.

The time spent in the hospital was lonely, although he did visit more often than most others would have, or did. But when he wasn’t there, the clock came to a standstill. And that sense of oppressive timelessness and stale air one day interrupted our latest visit, as I noticed that even when he was there, the second-hand ticks increased by only a fraction, the dust motes dragging but painfully slow against the windowed sunshine. I started to notice, that even when he was there the room was still empty, sans my self-loathing, his damned smile, and me. I started to notice, even when he was there, he continued to not catch me.

I suppose I’ll never know if his heart had simply given up and moved on, or if in my anguish I’d inadvertently pushed him out in some form or fashion. Regardless, I do know that by the end, his smile – that damned smile – the very one that had once wooed me into a near-frenzy, only now served to turn my previously astute soul into obtuse stone.

So I survived, much less attractive than before, and now far more alone. Deciding to live on in the knowledge that regardless the gender, lovers will only use you until they’ve taken their fill, before moving on. And regardless of what mom may say to the contrary, I will now forever feel that while I’m still technically alive, my ”miraculous survival” will not change my opinion that Heaven is an idea constructed by man to help him cope with the fact that life on earth is both brutally short, and paradoxically, far too long.

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