Gone the Way She Went

The air rushes past me. I’m not even afraid. No one will miss me anyway. My life went wrong a long time ago. I got a crappy job at a law firm, lost the love of my life, and married someone who didn’t want to die alone.

Ring! Ring! My stomach turns. Why did I do this? Why did I ever think this was ok?

My mind drifts back to that ringing phone twenty years ago. I picked it up and fell apart. She was dead. I loved her, but she was dead. Suicide. I hung up the phone and slept right there on the kitchen floor that night. Endless nights of sobbing ensued. Then rage. I broke my TV. I couldn’t understand why she would do it…but now I can.

Twenty-seventh floor, twenty-sixth floor, twenty-fifth floor, twenty-fourth floor…I see my wife’s face as she gets that dreaded call. I see her collapsing, screaming, cursing my name. Guilt pulses through me. Will she follow my footsteps?

Twenty-one, twenty, nineteen, eighteen, seventeen…I see my mom crumbling unable to make it to the funeral.

Fifteen…ten…five…I wish I could stop myself. The impact is going to hurt.

Four…three…two…one…I breathe in. Is there life after death?

March 20th

Due to a cold kicking my butt I was unable to publish any posts this week. My sincerest apologies. To make up for this I will publish three posts this weekend. Without further ado:

Something Blue

Am I really about to do this? I look down at my blue bouquet and my sparkling white ball gown wedding dress. I take a steadying breath. I love him, don’t I? No. Well, yes. But I’m in love with my best friend…who married someone else.
My fiancé is everything I need and should want: smart, kind, considerate, loving. But I don’t want him.
Suck it up. I can’t live alone forever and I’ll never find anyone better.
I take the first step down the aisle, and I die inside.

Transcending Triplets

The quacking oboe soars transformed from an ugly duckling to a swan
The squeaking clarinets dissolve into a woodsy, playful melody
The shrieking silver flutes sings a vibrato harmony

Honking brass settle into a moving line
Reedy bass clarinets relax into a supporting line
Hammering Percussionists keep a quiet tempo

Alone they grate through the air in an eternal forte
Together they transcend into music

Bloody Pearls: Mr. Vian's Body

I am Cynthia Bane and I am completely innocent. I have never murdered anyone. I was enjoying the evening festivities, mingling with other guests, and mulling over my advertisement idea for sparkling water when Ed rudely leaned over me to get a drink. I got up to get some air and space. I walked out into the foyer and found Mr. and Mrs. Vian, Pearl and Perry’s parents, arguing ferociously.

Mr. Vian was redder than I have ever seen him. The vein in his temple throbbed dangerously. Mrs. Vian’s face was white with rage. She used to react the strangest way when she was angry. She would pale and knead her hands together with those slim fingers. What I saw in her eyes was a vicious hate. I was afraid for my own life as well as Mr. Vian’s. I skedaddled and kept what I saw to myself.

At around 8:30 as I was powdering my nose in the powder room, Mrs. Vian came to me in tears. Her make-up ran pathetically down her face and I hugged her. What else could I do?

She spilled her guts to me about Mr. Vian’s “business endeavors”. The scoundrel stole money from Ed and she had just found out, poor dear. She wanted me to give her advice and I told her that men will be men and will do as they please. She didn’t take that very well so I made up gibberish about talking to him more. I let her know that whatever Mr. Vian did was not her fault. She didn’t believe me, but she looks a deal better. She reapplied her lipstick and got back out there. That’s the last time I saw her alive.
After my conversation with Mrs. Vian, I went looking for Mr. Vian to kick some sense into him. I got caught up in the party and by the time I found him, he was dead. The first thing I noticed was his polished shoe sticking out from under the frilly couch covers. There was a sticky dark puddle pooling around the couch. I ran to his side and pulled him out. His face…I had never seen a dead body before that moment. I just knew that he was dead.

Honey, Don't

Word crosses, honey dos, and crosswords litter the kitchen table. But today there is no crisping bacon. Today there is no hint of coffee. Today there is no pajama clad wife humming and flipping bacon just the way I like it. Today there is snow.
As I pass through the kitchen in my plaid pajama pants and hole-ridden slippers, I shiver. There must be ten inches of snow out there. Ten inches too many for a funeral in Saint Louis. I will have to shovel the drive way and kick my old hiccupping pick-up into four wheel drive. Damn, Lucy. If I die for you…
In the laundry room, I trade out my slippers for mud-caked work boots, pull on my winter coat, and go into the garage for my snow shovel. Lucy’s 1957 shiny blue Chevy watches as I yank the shovel off of the wall. Damn car…completely useless in the snow…taking up space…
I punch the garage door opener and the garage door rises into the air groaning in protest. I crunch over the snow and begin laboriously plowing away. My back twists and aches, but I push through.
Once the driveway is cleared I turn my attention to my pick-up. The snow dusts right off only to reveal a thick pane of ice. I chip away at it and by the time I am done the driveway is covered again.
“Luc, I don’t think I’ll make it to the funeral today. Betcha a piece of penny candy that the funeral home is closed.” Of course, penny candy is gone same as Lucy. My tears sting as the frost bites my exposed skin. Using the shovel for support I hobble up my drive way into the garage.
“Luc, I know what you’re thinking.” I wheeze. “Don’t over work yourself. You’re heart isn’t as healthy as it used to be.” I hang the shovel up and grab the key to her precious ’57 Chevy.
The tears roll freely as I shut the garage door and plop myself down on her leather driver’s seat. I put the key in the ignition and turn it. The engine purrs to life and her favorite song, My Girl by The Temptations, comes over the radio. “Luc, my heart can’t beat without you.”

Bloody Pearls: Father's Business Enemy

Cynthia ignored me throughout dinner. I made faces at Perry the whole time trying to get him to laugh.

After the usual four courses, the orchestra struck up a dancing tune and everyone got up to dance. Perry asked me to dance with him and I complied. We hadn’t danced together since we were little at Cynthia’s wedding to some horrid drunkard who created a scene halfway through the reception ending in the shortest marriage I had ever witnessed.
At around 7:30 I was looking for my parents to remind them that they had prepared a speech for 8 o’clock, but they were no where to be found. I went to ask the bartender where they were, but he had no clue. Father’s business rival, Ed spun towards me on his barstool and said that he would look for them and that I should go enjoy the party. Then he chugged a whole glass of Scotch. I had never seen Ed drink before…

Bloody Pearls: The Ex-Wife

Please don’t ask me about that night again. I’ve already told you everything I can remember…Fine I suppose I’ll just tell you again since you don’t believe me.

Holmes, our butler, opened the doors at promptly six in the evening like usual. Father, Mother, and I greeted guests as they made their way into the ballroom. Perry didn’t come down until later. He didn’t help us greet. He went straight to the orchestra to help them set up. Father wasn’t happy about this, but he was glad that his son was attending the party so he compromised.

We ate dinner at 6:30 as usual in the banquet hall. I sat by Perry and Cynthia, Father’s ex-wife. She sits with her chest out and saunters around in slinky dresses. She’s in marketing, and as she knows, sex sells. I don’t know why Father divorced her. He refuses to talk about her, but he invites her everywhere because they are the same social circle which is really code for they have outrageous amounts of money.
Looking back on it Cynthia was more edgy than usual. She sloshed her glass of wine over her red silk dress and was laughing loudly at everything. She usually has no sense of humor. And her eyes darted constantly to Mother’s diamond wedding ring…

Bloody Pearls: A World of Delicacy

Ever since I can remember I’ve lived in a world of tinkling champagne glasses, twinkling chandeliers, and sweet string music played live in the corner while a sea of delicately dressed people stood talking over it. I flourished in my environment full of uncomfortable lace dresses and flowy blouses tucked into tailored skirts. I delighted in the ache in my feet after hours of socializing at parties in polished heels. I devoured highly sophisticated finger foods delicately like a woman should. And I simply couldn’t contain my excitement the day of my debutante ball.

My twin brother Perry is a different story. He hated everything about our stuffy, suffocating lifestyle. He ran around the yard in his church clothes and always unbuttoned his shirt sleeves. He was the pickiest eater and would eat only sweets on days that we hosted extravagant parties. Even now he refuses to make an appearance at them, but despite all his grumblings he has never made to run away.

Our father threatened to cut Perry off and kick him out on a daily basis, but he never did. Despite his business like air, our father was gooey on the inside.

Our mother never spoke about Perry’s disobedience. She was always busy with other things. She didn’t work, but she headed every committee at the country club and spent all the rest of her time shopping for high end clothes.

That night we were hosting Father’s Christmas Business Party in our newly polished ballroom. He never missed a chance to show off. I was particularly exuberant as Perry came down from his tower and joined the party. When I asked him why, he gave me a big hug and exclaimed, “I miss my dear sister and I would never miss a Christmas party! It’s my one exception to my boycott.”

“Since when?” I demanded.

“Since today,” He smiled popping a piece of white chocolate fudge into his mouth.

I wish he had come to every party, but he only came to that one and that one would be the last. That was the night our parents were murdered.

ACT= Apocalyptic, Cataclysmic, Terror

The day the world ended was the same day that I was taking the ACT. My pencil slipped out of my sweaty palm as I fired through math problems. I was just bubbling in the answer to question five when a slow rumble built up from the ground. I looked up to see heads bent over tests, so I buried my nose again. Then the room jumped. My head hit the stone cold ground and the desk fell on top of me.

“What’s going on?!”

“Earthquake!”

Several girls screamed.

“Everyone remain calm!” The room advisor’s shook. We turned to her looking for answers, but her eyes were full of fear and confusion.

She walked to the window and looked outside. When she turned back around, the fear was gone. “It was just a little earthquake. I’m sure the building is stable. We will resume testing so that we can get it over with and go home.” She smiled straightening her hair.

“What about the earthquake? Won’t there be more tremors?” The kid behind me asked.

“If there are, they will be minor.” The room filled with the scraping of desks as we got to our feet and got back into position. The advisor’s heels clicked as she walked up and down the aisles straightening up our papers.

“Will we get more time because of the earthquake?” The kid behind me asked.

“I will check the testing instruction booklet and see if there is anything about earthquakes. For now, just assume the answer is no.”

The scratching of pencils began again and I started the next problem. I tried to focus, but my throat was dry and my hands were shaking. My answer didn’t match any of the multiple choice. I glanced up at the clock. Twenty minutes were left in the math section. I circled a random answer.

As the clock ticked on, the anxiety in the room grew. Everyone was braced for an aftershocks that never came.

Just as the advisor called time on the math section an ear splitting scream pierced the air. I jumped up. The scream spiked my heart rate, driving me over the edge. I had to get away from it.

I ran to the door. I could just take the ACT another time. I was only a junior after all. Blood pounded in my ears. I felt eyes follow me as I fled. I barreled down the steps and tripped on the last two. The screaming was getting louder. I jumped to my feet and immediately crumbled. My ankle throbbed beneath me. I was pretty sure that it was broken.

The screaming was getting closer. The pain in my ankle was nothing compared to the liquid fear pumping through my veins. I grabbed the railing and hauled myself to my feet. I could see the door just feet away from me. The sun outside was shining blindingly bright. I just had to make it out that door.

I took a step. Dark spots blotted the hallway. I leaned against the railing willing my vision to come back. When it finally did I saw the screamer. She, it must have been a she at one point because the shoes were bright pink, was reaching towards me with a raw, red hand. It was like her skin had been peeled away revealing blood red muscles. Her hair was thin not entirely concealing her bald spots. Her face was an indiscernible mess of molten flesh.

I bolted. My ankle rolled as I pushed out of the school doors. Collapsing onto the grass I breathed in the fresh spring air and choked. It felt like I was being burned alive. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. The heat was blustering. I felt my skin bursting into blisters. I would’ve screamed if I had, had any air to use.

I forced my eyes open and through the ashen, debris filled air, I saw the girl inside the school running away from the door. This was why she was screaming.

The Avenue: Like Fine Wine

I sipped on ginger ale as I settled down at The Avenue, my favorite underground bar, to scope out a good candidate to write about. I found them in a cozy, dimly lit corner towards the back. He rested his lacquered cane against the table and pulled the chair out for his wife. “Excuse me, sir and madam. I was wondering if I could have a quick word. I’m a writer you see and I write about people. I don’t write nonfiction pieces and I don’t use names. I just use people’s experiences. Would you mind if I ask you a few questions?”
The woman’s eyes lit up. “A writer. She sounds like you, Lloyd. Except she admits that her work is fiction.”
“You wound my heart, Penelope.” Lloyd winked and nodded to me. “Fire away, Miss. We have all the time in the world.”
I flipped open my grey notebook. “What did you think when you first met each other?”
Penelope’s eyes glossed over and a pleasant smile crossed her face. “He’s gossipy. I thought he was simply terrible when I first met him. All full of energy and jumping around like a frog.”
Lloyd chuckled. “I didn’t see her at first. I was too busy snapping photos of the fire. But when I did see her, I was so taken that I forgot my own name. She was stiff and proper looking, but her eyes were full of wonder. Her beautiful pale green eyes that showed me places I’d never been.”
I jotted a few notes down. “And what kinds of dates did you go on?”
“He took me on more adventures than I could count. One day he said that he wanted to travel the world with me, and I said that I’m more comfortable in my world of books. But he insisted that he wake up beside me every morning, that my eyes took him places unobtainable and so I showed him my writings. I’m a fiction writer like yourself.
“He read my work deep into the night and then woke me and asked me to marry him because, he said, that he had traveled everywhere in my writings and that the only place worth being would be wherever I am.” Penelope gazed over at Lloyd with eyes so full of tears of joy that I buried my nose in my notebook to pretend that I hadn’t noticed.
Lloyd cleared his throat, rested his wrinkled hand on Penelope’s, and turned to me. “She holds the world inside her head, and I am grateful that she shares it with me. We are kind of the same, me and her. We’re both explorers who go on adventures everyday even just on our way to the kitchen.”
“Our souls are made of the same stuff. It’s a miracle that we found each other.” Penelope whispered brushing tears from her eyes.
Lloyd patted Penelope’s hand and smiled at her with watery eyes of his own. “No, we would’ve found each other anyway because you and I would have conquered the world and traced the globe to find each other. That’s just how it is for the yearning hearts of dreamers.” Watching them communicate with just their eyes struck me and I closed my notebook. I couldn’t write this story. I didn’t know how to go about recreating a love like theirs. Sometimes life is too perfect for words. I tried to pin down stories like theirs, but something was always missing. Some things can’t be immortalized in writing and they don’t need to be because a star that burns so brightly in life will not be forgotten after darkness extinguishes the light.