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Yin/Yang, plus/minus, dark/light, or just an excuse to write two-hundred instead of one?

Call it what you will, but after writing the first of these, I thought this week may warrant a second effort, just so y’all didn’t think my writing was far too dark much too often.

Playing along with Tara’s 100 Word Challenge again, here is this week’s submission in response to the word prompt “Idea.”

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*1

The rum slugged forth from the bottle, much like suffering a urinary tract infection.
Growling in a similarly stunted sloppy fashion to no one, he cursed while watching some nectar splash helplessly past the glass’s rim, onto the perpetually crumb-filled countertop.

The idea of inspecting the bottle’s pour for possible logjams never occurred, as he relished a certain unforeseen satisfaction in failing even this simple task of drinking himself to death.

From the floor, his cat sat licking in solidarity errant drops that reached their snout. Much like their master’s, the measure was enough to numb, never enough to kill.

*2

His eyes poured over her while watching another “indie” film that would linger long after the TV dimmed, the subsequential lovemaking exhausted.

They’d avoided speaking of the idea of “love,” as both previously had been ravaged by the self-serving narcissists each entrusted theirs with. Ignoring tomorrows unguaranteed, they instead relished Todays spent together.

Gazing upon her now, he filled with joy previously unknown. A joy he wanted not just tonight, nor tomorrow, but lifetimes to come.

Her cat nestled atop them as the movie plugged along, almost hinting that here is where he too should stay. Here he’d find life anew. 100-word-challenge.jpg

47 in 46: Love’s Theme

Admittedly, I had drawn this one up sometime ago, and even had it proofread to ensure that I chose the proper of two endings.

Still, it had a Halloweenish tinge to it, so I saved it till just now, this very week, in order to post.

Week next(ish) we’ll jump back a year again, and until then and as always, I hope you enjoy.

The year was 1974, the song was “Love’s Theme” by Love Unlimited…

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She hated his music, loathed it in fact. Always loud, obnoxious, screech-laden and filled with lyrics that she attributed to having mostly been something akin to blasphemy, had they been intelligible in the first.

She hated his music, truly, and the very worst was when he would go rumbling off into the shower, plugging his witches lament into the decrepit portable CD player that marred the otherwise docile air of the tiny white tiled bathroom they shared. Once the water was piping hot, the music too would begin to pipe through from under the bathroom door ajar’d, along with the steam and whatever pent-up anger he was washing off from his day.

She hated his music, but she tried her best to put up with it. They were roommates after all, and people who lived with each other needed to adapt. Her way of doing so was to try to ignore it as long as she could, hoping that it would cease before she lost her already loosened screw. Sitting in the hallway just outside, she would mentally try to tune down the cacophony, tight-lip screwing her face into a grimace worthy of dysentery while waiting on the silence.

She hated his music, and as he took dreadfully long showers, apparently playing an imaginary concert in his mind while lathering his body down, she could never find it within herself to outlast the audio carnage spewing forth, the billowing shower’s steam muffling it far too little. As a result she would often find herself wafting open the bathroom door, while dashing quickly into the haze of steam and heat. Being careful as to not look directly in on him while running over to the CD player, she would quickly paw the STOP button before bolting from the room in as hasty a fashion.

She hated his music, and knew he hated when she pulled this stunt as she could hear him scream bloody blue, seemingly at the CD player, over this abrupt silence. She always hoped for the best, but in each and every instance, it wouldn’t be but in a few heartbeats time before she would hear him splash from the tub and angrily stab the PLAY button once more to announce his encore of loud.

Today she watched him again on his bathroom sojourn, though this time proceeding sloth-like, gingerly placing a CD that she rarely saw him with into the player’s tray, instead of his usual fare. She was not surprised by the selection this time, as she had overheard the conversation he’d had just minutes before. She couldn’t hear what was being said from the other end, but by his reaction it was plain to see that he had had his heart broken once more.

Just like the last time, he immediately took all the blame – though in her opinion, just like the last time, nearly none of it rightfully belonged to him. And again, just like the last time, he immediately grabbed for his usually unused Barry White disc, a present from his now-deceased mother who truly never did understand his musical stylings either. Something about this disc must have somehow brought him closer to his mother, possibly the only woman ever who never demanded anything from him, never verbally bullied him, never made her love conditional, and never gave up on him.

In this context, the title track, “Love’s Theme,” blared more mournfully than most others would hear it, and – as he had the rigged the player to do so – tonight at least would immediately repeat itself each time its dulcet tones faded into silence.

She hated his music, but she loved this song. And she loved him even more. So much more so in fact that her heart would often flutter, as if it belonged to that of a schoolgirl, over the mere idea of their being together.  As such she couldn’t understand why, especially given all the disasters he had had with his other relationships, he never once even thought to give her a try. She knew him better than anyone else, she too never demanded nor expected anything from him, and in all the years he’d lived here with her, she had never once – not even with the loud and obnoxious music – thought about giving up on him. As the song entered something like its 800th iteration, she decided to pull her stunt just once more, but this time she wouldn’t run from the room. This time she would wait for him, and talk with him, and express herself to him. This time would be different. This time he would notice her.

She hated his music, but this time was different. This time the silence fell like a temple wall on the mourning, like the dropped casket in a quiet church. This time, instead of running, she sat quietly down in the chair across from the shower, waiting for him to acknowledge the silence and her. Time stood still for a moment, which meant forever, which meant it was over before it began, and the solitary slam of his fist against the wall alerted her as to what sort of mood she’d have to first contend with while telling him of her love.

“GoddammIT!” he quietly yelled into his chest, and then again louder to the ceiling. “Why can’t you give me just this once? Just this once without randomly turning off mid-song???” he tore open the curtain to see the room as it always was, foggy, white tiled, small, and empty of all life sans his own and that of the nameless cat that lived with him. He had no idea why the feline was just sitting there again staring intently at him, nor why that damned CD player would constantly shut off like it did. Lord knows he had paid enough for it not to do so. He went to hit the PLAY button again but then stopped mid-thought as he saw his raisinesque digits and realized that he’d probably shriveled in his lament long enough.

Drying off, he turned out the lights and scratched the top of the cat’s head absent-mindedly before leaving the room. He mused as she walked close enough by his side as to squeeze through the door with him that he should probably name her one day – hell, besides his mom, she had been the only other woman who’d never given up on him…

Living Our Dream

Second week in a row for my 100 Word Song and Light And Shade mash-up. They both had a very similar spirit, and I hope I was able to capture it correctly…

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Shrugging the tuxedo jacket on gingerly, Val noticed the smallest of sections was threadbare. None would notice, but this coming-out party was important for Pat, and Val felt everything should be perfect.

Pat didn’t care though, and remained delighted that they’d been able to even find Val a vintage suit correctly sized. Smiling while pulling stockings over freshly-painted nails, Pat decided that optimism was the magnet to pull them through this night, this life, together.

Opening the car door for her – as gentlemen do – Pat waited until Val buckled, before anxiously closing it. Tonight was to be special, and he couldn’t wait to start.

•••

Light & Shade Challenge:

Optimism is like a spiritual magnet 

– Anna Massey

100 Word Song Prompt:

A One-way Conversation

A smattering of a truncated thought. A portion of a one-way conversation, held in 100 words or less. The last remnant of a topic that no longer needs be discussed, here or elsewhere. Inspired by a reality more surreal than fiction, my latest prompt mash-up – this one being between 100 Word Song and Light and Shade Challenge.

As always, I hope you enjoy… 

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“I’ll always love you.”

A white lie, one eventually bloomed to black.

“Whatever. You never listened to me.”

Listened? My very life was a response to your words.

“I wanted you to be free.”

Than why’d you cage me?

“Shut. Your. Mouth! Without me, you’d have crashed.”

With you, I did.

“I’m doing this for you.”

More white lies, a wedding cake’s full.

“I know you’re ‘unhappy…’”

This isn’t going to make me so.

I know you’re gay!

It wasn’t me who left our marriage-bed for another man.

“Whatever. I’ll always love you.”

A white lie. One no longer worth holding true.

•••

Light And Shade Prompt:

She tells enough white lies to ice a wedding cake – Margot Asquith

100 Word Song Prompt:

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.

•••

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.”

•••

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.

•••