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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A Fruitless Endeavor

I’m SO glad I finally “balled-up” enough to join in with this group, and including this intro, I believe I’m more than maxing the 500-word count allowable for this week’s Write On Edge challenge. 

Please click the link above to learn more about the prompt and the community, and as always, I hope you enjoy…

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Watching him zip up the last of the three bags he’d hastily thought to pack, she became further irritated as he tried to compress its contents – with one shaky knee held hard against the fabric lid – while fiddling with the steel slider which protested loudly as he tugged it along the plastic teeth that were its mate. Timing it to where the entire endeavor appeared to be at its most fruitless, she waited before asking snidely, “So that’s it? You’re leaving then?”

Wha? Oh. Yeah.

“Just like that?”

Yes.

“Just ‘poof,’ and you’re gone?”

For God’s sake, YES! Why?

“She’s not going to be waiting for you, you know.”

She will.

“She won’t.”

She might.

Emboldened by his moment of caution and pause, she leapt forward unmindful into the din of her verbal castration of him, stressing, “Listen. There is nothing waiting for you out there anyway. You know that, right?”

There’s nothing waiting for me here either.

“Oh yeah? What about your career?”

Not for nothing, but I’m fairly certain that they have those where I’m going as well…

“What about the house?”

It’s not in my name anymore – it’s not my house anymore. It’s… it’s not my home.

“And what about me? What about your poor mother?”

Well. I’m sure the ole girl will understand. I’m sure you’ll get it, why I need to do this… Maybe some day.

“Well don’t be so certain of that. And what about the children? What about your children?”

Having finally secured the zipper – now groaning under its newfound charge of keeping all the baggage safely contained within, he sat back for a moment and wiped his haggled brow before almost whispering, and almost to himself, “Yes, there is them. That’s true.”

What…?

“I said that yes, there is that to contend with.”

See? You can’t leave. You need them.

“I do. But don’t you see? I sleep alone every night, while they sleep in the same house as her latest fling. No, they’ve already been taken from me. A long time ago. And besides, they’re almost adults now themselves.”

You can’t leave. I won’t let you. They need you.

“You know what? I’ve always told them that we’d all someday get out of this dump. I just never thought that I’d be the first to make the break. They do need me, but they need me to continue to lead by example. I think I’m doing the right thing here.”

She’s not going to be waiting for you, you know.

“She might.”

She won’t.

Rising on steady legs, he casually pulled the over-stuffed, yet self-contained third bag from the floor, and slung it across his back. Ignoring the still-protesting zipper as he did so, his step matched his smile as he strode enlivened towards the front door and the gate that lay beyond it, while saying much more to himself then to anyone within earshot, “She will.”

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A Solitary Slice

My second foray into Write On Edge, I already prove myself a thief. For this prompt, I stole from The Word Pirate her post’s song, and her toaster. As she’s a pirate n’ all, I’m hoping she won’t be too terribly upset…

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He glanced only momentarily at the toaster before the heavy sigh, sitting ever-present ready to pounce at the back of his throat, made its escape.

It was hardly the toaster’s fault after all, but when he caught it sitting there all smug in its newness, he once again felt acutely halved. You see, the toaster allowed for two slices, but all he ever ate was one. So every day he dragged himself through the process of making his singular slice while the slot beside his sat – still functioning, but empty. And every day that damned empty slot would mockingly remind him of his similar situation, of his never-ending nor seemingly-chance-of-winning quarrel with the world: his emptiness, his “still functioning for no apparent purpose-ness.”

He longed to be able to share his new toaster with someone, and he was also acutely aware of just how foolish that sentiment sounded. But as he was alone in his own head, he saw no reason for embarrassment.  In this space, he once again configured her. Maybe she’d be a writer of books, or maybe a painter, or maybe – well – maybe it didn’t really matter what she was, he reckoned, just as long as she was.

He knew someday he would find her, or maybe she would stumble upon him, if in fact it was ever meant to be. If, in fact, that sort of thing even actually existed. By this point, he was none to sure, but still found himself clinging to a sort of hope about it all.

The sudden sound of popping browned bread bounced him from his revelry. And as with other mornings past, he found that he had unconsciously begun to sway to and fro with a nervous anticipation, whilst waiting for his appliance to function at half capacity. Almost dancing, he thought, but not quite.

With a second, less expressive sigh, he pulled his solitary slice from the toaster for two, and grumbled his slipper shod feet over to the table to eat once more, alone. Pretending and hoping that somewhere out there, anywhere, she was at that very moment also seating herself in a similar fashion, pretending and pining for him in a manner likewise.

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This is NOT a President’s Day Post

In fact, it’s not really a post at all actually, but rather, a recent facebook status update I made. One that I feel should be thrown into a larger web of the social media. One that, with a singular simple addition of a word (and more than a whole slew of singular edits), I feel will work pretty danged well for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge:

FUNK (noun)  3 :  SLUMP  <an economic funk>  <the team went into a funk>

Picture11-1While struggling to swallow my latest fit of depression tonight at work, I met a mom who had really nice kids, and pretty sweet tats. As these things transpire, in conversation I found out that each tattoo represented one of the children. As she explained each in turn, I learned that the child whom I thought the most mature (a birthday boy JUST turned twelve who simply HAD to have Minecraft merch to celebrate properly), was born with autism. But it was his sister who stole my heart and gave me hope, in that at no more than 10 years old, she knew that she was transgender – a knowledge held since six years of age according to the mom. To date, she is the youngest transgender person I believe I have ever met.

While mom shared with me that her daughter was treated very poorly by her classmates and the school, the girl that stood before me was still a happy, well-adjusted kid. One who knew and was comfortable with whom she was, and (from my vantage point) well-loved by her family. Including her baby brother, whom she could not carry correctly, even had he come with instructions sewn in. Seeing them all (four kids and one mom with pretty sweet tats) woke me up out of my self-imposed pity-party over my current (and hopefully temporary) funk, to the idea that there are still a LOT of really good people out there. People who love without condition. People who would rather build each other up, then tear each other down. People who can, willingly I would assume, love something much bigger than only themselves.

I’m glad that that mom, her kids, and her sweet tats came in tonight. I’m glad to know that they exist out there. This world is five people better off as a result.

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Admittedly, the song chosen today has absolutely not one singular thing to do with the post, but honestly, how many challenges come along that provide you with the *perfect* cue to end with this gem?

654 Words Plus A (n excessively long run-on) Sentence

So when Professor SAM – on behalf of Master Class 2014, and via Kelly Garriott Waite – gave us the longest written prompt in the vast history of written prompts EVER (thanks A LOT, Kelly!), I of course had to rise to the challenge.

I hope I didn’t screw it up too badly.

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Dad was dead.

That much could not be denied.

I’d seen him breathe his last. Hell, I’d damned near given him permission to do so. He would never have left mom otherwise, and she was very much in need of his finally finding some sort of peace, some sort of solace.

Mom was still around of course, but only by mere inches.

The other woman – the one I thought I would love forever – offered some token assistance, but her crocodile tears could hardly hide the gleam of the “Steve McQueen-esque” boys she was not-so secretly dreaming of, while feigning concern for me and mine. She escaped at her first self-serving opportunity, and left me alone with a grieving widow, one going through an unwanted separation 45 years in the making, and a Life for us all that would simply never be quite the same again.

I suppose you could say that, as far as self-serving opportunities go, she got out just in the nick of time.

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I was born in a Roman Catholic house. And in these regards, the capital “R” and “C” couldn’t have been more prominent had Jesus Himself come down from a puff of blue sky, and utilized His very Own personal holy typewriter in creating the cards that they carried continually throughout their lives. Cards so well used that the fictional corners of each would’ve been much more like dog-eared worry stones than they would mere 90 degree angles. Personally, I struggled for years against their R.C. ideology, all while still hoping to believe that J.C. was quite alright with me. They in turn struggled against understanding how I could ever sit with “fags and junkies,” when J.C. Himself wouldn’t have been caught dead – well, resurrected, I suppose – with that sort of crew. Whores and tax collectors, sure, but even He had His standards, they presumed.

Mom was losing her grip fast, but not so much as to not realize that when she went, her “faggot-loving” son could very well tank the whole deal of a promised familial salvation. As such, she made me promise to believe as she. And, as I figured that she was the only woman to ever truly love me, I lied and said I did. This resulted in more than one of my friends – long after dad’s service had been performed – thinking to themselves, “He was the only one left to fulfill that contract and try to justify the labor and the harshness and the mistakes of his parents’ lives, and that responsibility was so clearly his, was so great an obligation, that it made unimportant and unreal the sight of the motley collection of pall-bearers staggering under the weight of his father’s body, and the back door of the hearse closing quietly upon the casket and the flowers.”

What can I say? My friends have always been fans of run-on, overly literate smart ass commentary.

In short, what they were thinking was that I was the douche who had to make amends. Amends to a God that I didn’t truly understand in my parents light – amends to a religion that never did do anything but strangle their love towards their fellow-men. Fellow-men deserving of love, though they be of a different color, or sexual orientation, or political bent. You see, my folks loved J.C. more than they ever loved His people. And much like the woman I thought I would love forever felt towards me, when push came to shove, they loved themselves even more than they did He.

So the hearse doors closed, and the body was buried. But the belief was not. Though I could’ve swore that I caught a glimpse of J.C.’s back, as He walked delicately across the partially frozen cemetery grounds, just like all the others, slowly away from me.

And I stood. Alone. One arm empty, as the self-server had by then run off with the first of many Steve McQueen’s to come. And the other arm full – though still empty – struggling to hold the woman who had once bore me, the only woman to ever truly love me, the woman hanging on now, only by mere inches.

And through it all, I just kept staring at my arms, both empty and full, while thinking to myself…

I had seen him breathe his last – I’m sure I had.

Dad was dead.

That much could not be denied.

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Trifecta 2nd attempt: I’m telling you now…

Ever-present.

No matter should I attempt to run from, too, or through – He stands, belligerent.

Pervasive, judgmental… longing for me to fail. Needing me to.

He is what I fear.

He is me.

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Sorry to be back so soon, raining again on your Trifecta Writing Challenge parade, but this prompt – wherein we get to slap down 33 words about that which scares us most – (for me at least) was a clear no-brainer. I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into a “me” that is in the process of withering, as my new horizon slowly chases all his shadows away.

Trifecta 99: Trifecta 1st attempt

Bacall would’ve been proud, Gabriella thought, while wiping the make-up muddled blood from her lip.

Hell, Gabriella was proud, but not because she’d gone down swinging; and definitely not because they decided to kick the “fag outta him,” in the first.

No, she was proud because with every return blow dealt, she felt her conviction rising – her belief in her true nature, becoming real.

She knew now who she was. She believed in whom that person would someday be.

As Gabe gazed into the mirror, Gabriella smirked back at him, filled with newfound life.

Yeah… Bacall would’ve been proud.

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This is my unintended return to the land of Blogsville, and my first-ever attempt at banging out a couple of words (99 to be exact) for kids over at the Trifecta Writing Challenge. Having no intention of doing so, when I saw that the word “Bacall” was available for use as a prompt, I decided to finally swallow my fears and jump onboard with the continuation of my little tale of GabriellaHaving a shot at the $99 Gift Card didn’t hurt either, but this blog is ALL ABOUT THE ART, people…!

I hope you click through the Gabriella link to read the previous installment, I hope you join in the challenge yourselves, and as always, I do hope you enjoy.