Category Archives: Fairy Tale

Julemo, The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy

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Julemo, The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy

A prompt from A Creative PTSD Gal

...Some shall be pardon’d, and some punished:
For never was a story of more wo

Whoa. Hold on. Two kids, in the throes of their first lust love, just offed themselves. Their pining for each other hurled a monkey wrench into a powder keg mess, and boom it went off. Four confirmed Main Players died beyond these two, with enough blood on the streets, steps, terraces, and food stalls, that suggest there were a lot more (names not important to the larger issue) who fell down dead: damn kindred kept taking and hiding their deceased. Poor mojo on their famial name if the numbers were known by the populace.

Now, neither head of the two bloodlines were respected or even liked. They held their positions due to fear, the potential of favors bestowed, and the rest who care to be seen with the ones who are being seen without their even trying to be seen. They are a headache on the populace, if not to that last sentence. It’s no wonder their wives cloistered themselves with knitting, other crafty projects, wine, and “hey, is that a codpiece or are you happy to see me?”

No matter, for they all become even more bit players than they had already been. Well, except for the best friend. And the brother. But, this isn’t about them.

The once hot-to-trot teens were wheeled away. Unbeknownst to all the other players involved, not to the building where their bodies were supposed to be prepared for the funeral process. A bit of misdirection brought them to a place that, if alive, they would have killed themselves before willingly entering. Well, again, they were dead, so there was really nothing they could do.

Some of the gas buildup inside of them started to waft out, perfuming the surrounding area. Merc would have enjoyed that, gotten a great big chuckle out of it, and made a bon mot that all his friends would have laughed at, praising his scatological wit, whether they got it or not.

Friar Lawrence waved away the awful smell that started to fill up his small cell. He was lambasting himself for the way everything had unfolded. The friar knew he was culpable as an instigator, sticking his nose so far up the problems of the two households that…well, the picture in his head was enough to cause him the willies. He gave himself some satisfaction that he had nothing to do with Romeo meeting Juliet nor for the two of them falling in lust love with each other.  Just pretty much everything else that ended in their endings. He had a plan to fix things, no matter that Mother church would condem him to Heck for what he was about to do.

He knew a guy who knew a woman who knew a group of people who said they knew things no one else on Earth knew. Two of that group had been waiting in the friar’s cell. They had done their preperations already, and by the time friar and the corpses (later to become the name of a Punk band, circa 1972) arrived, the two men were five sheets to the wind, having found Lawrence’s holy wine stash.

The Friar, after admonishing the pair, needed their help in transferring the bodies to the prepared circle on the floor. Closing his eyes, he performed the sign of the cross, prayiing that he was not overstepping the will of the church and the savior or, well, not as badly as others might judge him. He uncovered the two; first Romeo (“Look at that…” was hushed by an elbow in the ribs by one of the men), and then Juliet (they both whistled their approval).

Candles were lit, ewe blood was tinkled around, and an undercurrent of chanting proceeded. Finally, Friar Lawrence came to the section he most dreaded: he would either succeed or epicically fail. He hoped to make things right, and only if he went through with this…if only he went through with this..if only…

The taller of the two sidemen gave the friar a shove. “Go on, mate. We ‘avent got all day. Go on with your self. ” The other man, who had been nodding off, came to, enough to agree. “Go on,” he slurred.

Friar Lawrence went on. He rushed through the Latin chants, stumbled over the sections that were complete gibberish to him, but was assured it was all right. Once the ritual words were complet, he said:

“These two, whose fate death doth stole, left this earthly plane too soon, too soon. I beseech the one on whom I call to make things right. Make them live, again, so that they may be together, as one.”

With that, a poof of a cloud enveloped the cell, with a stench that made Lawrence wish for flatulence again. Once the cloud settled, a ghastly, oozing, smirking demon, on the smallish size, appeared.

“Really? That’s what you want, what you went through, what you will suffer the eternity of damnation for? Really? For these two?”

Trembling, Friar Lawrence fell to his knees. The taller of the two men just sat down; his friend fell over, snoring.

“Yes,” he quivered. “Yes, yes, yes. My suffering is nothing compared to what these two suffered. Please. Make them live, so they may live as one.”

The demon (whose name I dare not write on pain of pain), looked at the two on the floor. His eyes passed over Juliet’s form, but with Romeo, he spent a lot of time…contemplating. The friar shivered even more, noticing a tumescence he wished he’d never had noticed.

The demon announced: “OK, as you wish.” With that, he snapped his clawed phalanges, and another foul-smelling cloud encircled the square cell. Friar Lawrence keeled over, dead; the tall man slung his passed out partner over his shoulder and was out the door before one could say “Bob’s your uncle,” which he was, but…

When the fogginess in the cell faded to nothing, it took the demon with it.
A stirring came from within the circle.

A painful groan caused eyes to pop open, followed by more groans as the aches and pains of death were shook off upon standing. There was a stretching of limbs, a rolling out of the muscles. Looking around this familiar room, it came that no one was in attendance when there should have been many servants around. Standing in place for a long, stiff time, perplexed, the bright rays of the sun were eventually replaced by crystal clear moonlight as it streamed through the small windo-nee-hole in the wall.

Hands began exploring, feeling what was known but also unknown. Panic soon set in, followed by a flailing  of appendages, hair being pulled this way and that, and a frenzied carrening around the room.  Finally, exhausted, a large plop! on the ex-friars sleeping pallot was felt in great pain. Huge moist sobs ensued.

The star-crossed lovers were, as that damnable friar (in reality, now) asked as he asked for.  Alive, but as one.

Only one.

Combined as one.

One body. One set of hands. One heart. Even death would not part them now.

Knowing he/she/they could not stay, they threw on one of the hated robes that Lawrence had left lying around, which, truth be told, needed a thorough washing.

They realized they could not be called Juliet nor Romeo anymore. That started up a quick arguement. Neither won. They were somewhat something wholey new. The idea came to combine names, somehow; neither one of them could agree who came up with the thought first, which started up another quick arguement with themselves.

Romiet didn’t sound right at all. They were in agreement on that. A few other configurations were considered and abandoned. Fred didn’t work at all for them. With resignation, Julemo was the best of all possiblities.

They crept out of the cell, vowing that the only time they would ever return would be to cause its destruction.  Easing on down the road, it was tough going in the beginning.  As they got the rhythm of their gait in check, they made their plans. Julemo knew if any of their kinsmen found them, they would face death, again.

Julemo fled, under the fairest stars in all the heaven.

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Author’s note:

Jo at A Creative PTSD Gal was one of the writers/bloggers I fell upon (sorry for the bruising) during the AtoZ Blog Challenge. I enjoyed her work and visa versa. Like others, I found a prompt on her blog that actually was a contest, which was the least of it. I liked the picture prompt and that led to Hence, The Exorcists.

Jo had been following another blog that dropped a lot of prompts and then dropped dropping said prompts from their pages. I also had not won the prize from Jo’s contest, but she sent me an email with three potential prompts:

  • The main character is trying to quit smoking and the medication that she is using to help shows her the evil within someone she thought she knew since childhood.
  • The world just survived an apocalyptic event (your choice) and your character has to team up with the one person they hate to survive. 
  • It was not your normal Romeo and Juliet tale. The star-crossed lovers aren’t kept apart by their family but rather an unforeseen paranormal being.

Obviously, I took the last one, tweaked it, and Bob’s your uncle. I left it open-ended because, who knows? Why? I don’t know. Third base.

Hope you liked it. Please check out her blog for stories, doodles, and a lot more.

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Stuck On You

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Stuck On You

#Flash Fiction Prompt

“How are you? I’m OK, but I’m leaking glue.”

Elsie stared at Elmer in disbelief. They had been together for a while now. He’d always been a bit bullish, and she adored that about him, especially in the sack. He was almost always horny, and that was fine with her, as long as they weren’t chewing the cud. Nothing ruins mating like starting a discussion.

Like now.

“What do you mean, you’re “leaking glue?”

Elmer had been behind her, as was his want, but mooved around so he was facing her to make that statement. She loved the milky whiteness of his skin, the baleful ferociousness that was offset by the cravings she saw in his big brown eyes. She loved how he was outstanding in his field, how Angus and the others freely gave him his stomping grounds.  Elsie loved a lot of things about Elmer, but this…this was scary. He was not one prone to joking around or making existential statements. He was more of a grunting hulk, moody at times, but…that was just his way.

“I’m…I’m OK as well, Elmer,” she stammered out. “Honey, what do you mean? You’re leaking glue? Is that a joke?”

He didn’t answer. Elmer mooved away slightly, staring off in the distance. She turned in the same direction as his gaze. She saw nothing out of the ordinary. The young ones were frolicking over the meadow, no matter how many times they were swatted to stop. Over by the clump of trees a number of their crowd were just lazing around. Elsie noticed Bessie-that heifer!-was there, making eyes at anyone who would pay attention. She had been with Elmer when they were younger, but he had mooved on. He was with her, now, and she’d be darned if…no, he wasn’t looking at her.

What was he looking at?

She waited with him, patiently at first. He wasn’t paying her any attention, and she wasn’t used to that. Sure, they’d stand around all day, catching rays, or hang out under the trees. But, Elmer had always been Present. This, this was unlike him, and it made her skittish.

The sun moved west, and the light of the day began to wane. The others began to mosey indoors; it was feeding time, and none of them would wait a second longer if they didn’t have to. Elsie stayed because Elmer stayed. He was lost inside of himself; she had no idea why.

The light of the day slowly turned to darkness, accentuated by the twinkling far away lights. The moon was full and bright, which allowed her to see quite well. Her gaze was on Elmer. His was still elsewhere.

The grumblings in her tummies had grown to an uncomfortable level. Head hung down, Elsie thought to swat Elmer, mad at what went on this day. Her better sense of propriety won out, and with one last look at Elmer, she started to saunter off to be with the others.

She had only taken eight steps when Elmer said his first word since earlier in the day.

“Elsie?”

She stopped. Her heart began to race. Elsie slowly turned around to face him. The faraway look that held him was still focused, but focused on her. She stayed where she was, rooted to ground. The grass, which had been getting taller, swayed around her.

“Elsie,” he said again. “Have you ever thought why we are here? What our purpose for being is all about?”

“Ugh,” she thought. “Existentialism, just as I was not hoping for.” She shook her head, dismayed. A smattering of bells, discordant in nature, accompanied her gesture.

“Do we have the right to be happy? If we do, is it something we have to earn? Do we have to have commonality to really connect with another?

All day, I’ve thought of all these things, and more. The why, the where, the how, the what, and when… these thoughts rushed over me. When they did…the questions: they froze me in place. I felt small, for the first time, as I began to…to…” Elmer trailed off into silence.

“What? You began to what?” Elsie asked, with a tone in her voice that she never, ever, used with Elmer.

“Contemplate. Us. You and me. Our crowd, our offspring, our being in this place, right here, right now.

I came up with some thoughts I’d like to share with you, if you’ll bear with me.”

She shivered at the thoughts of bears. She knew that wasn’t what he meant, but the image was placed in her skull. She hated bears.

Elmer cleared his throat. Elsie quietly sighed.

“I’m OK, but I’m leaking glue.

Bound together, me and you…”

“Poetry? You wasted the day on poetry?”

Elmer glared at her. If there was a stronger light source, she’d believe his eyes were turning red.

“I’m sorry. Please, go on.”

He shook his head, clearing his mind, centering himself. He began again.

“I’m OK, but I’m leaking glue.

It binds us together, making us true.”

“That’s not what you said before.”

“It’s a work in progress. Humor me.”

Elsie sighed again, and nodded her acquiescence.

He coughed. “Please let me finish.” Without waiting for a response, he soldiered on.

“I’m OK, but I’m leaking glue;

It binds us together, making us true.

The reason I am here on this Earthly place

Becomes clearer as I look upon your face.

A gentle peace resides within,

Even though we occasionally sin

Yet a more beautiful heart I will not find,

Especially one with a wondrous behind.

It matters not what others may say,

I will love you to my dying day.

No tears, no tears, my heart does swell,

As in this dell do we dwell.

Let what I feel spread to all around

My love is strong; to you I’m bound.

No matter whatever roles we’re meant to be,

Why we’re us and not some flea.

We’re here together; it is our due,

 I’m yours, forever.

 I’m leaking glue.”

To Elsie, it was a bit laughable, but in the end it really wasn’t. This day she felt her heart grow three times its size. Tears started to well in her limpid eyes. She mooved close to Elmer and leaned against him.

They stayed that way through most of the night, not saying much at all.

Towards the dawn, they both snuffled a bit with the rising dew around them. Elsie started to quietly chuckle.

“What’s that for?” Elmer asked

Elsie leaned her head on his, closing her eyes.

“I think I’m stuck on you, too.” Elsie paused. “You do know, that was a bit cheesy.”

The two of them laughed, and were still laughing, when the others came out for the day.

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Author’s Note: Yes, the above came from a prompt, which was:

 “How are you? I’m OK, but I’m leaking glue.”

That line was actually said to either Debs or David of Fiction Can Be Fun. They hold prompts once a month, and post here and there when they can. Life, y’now? They collaborate on the site as well as write together: they are in the midst of fleshing out their WIP. I’ve read the bones of it, and I am excited to read it all when they care to share their showable draft.

If you want to take up the prompt challenge, Here There Are Rules:

Please post on your own site and add a link in the comments section [on Fiction Can Be Fun].  If you don’t have your own blog or similar outlet, do send us your story via the contact form on the About page and we’ll post for you, with an appropriate by-line.  

Word count: up to 1,500
Deadline: 2pm GMT on Friday 8th June 2018

Please do not submit anything that would be NSFW.

Now shoo. Have fun storming the castle.

You’re Not Around…

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cemetery silhouette | Lisa Stahl

You’re Not Around…

(A companion piece to Somewhere That’s Green)

At the gravesite: Audrey, the Pastor, and the cemetery gravediggers.

Pastor:     …The links of life are broken,
but the links of love and longing cannot break.
Their souls are bound up with ours forever…

(The Pastor continues his cemetery prayer in the background. Audrey stands apart. The gravediggers behind them; one is smoking).

Audrey: (Dressed in black; stares first at the grave, and then lets the song move her):

I don’t believe you’re gone.
We shared much more than a moment, a lifetime, cut short.
This wasn’t what we planned to do,
So much of my hopes, they fell on you.
But you supported me, not told,
How to be myself, be bold.
But I stand here alone, in despair, Because suddenly, Seymour, you’re not there.

From city slums to open skies, our white picket fence…(sobs)…and then you died.
I begged you to leave the plants alone
But my words fell on ears of stone.
Did I support you? Yes, in every way.
Did I love you? To my dying day.
But now, with my love in the ground
Suddenly, Seymour, you’re not around.

I found my strength and self-respect
But right now I feel only wrecked.
When you held me in your arms…and said I love you,
I felt it deep inside; I loved you too.

And now, you are not here.
At least you no longer have to fear
Being eaten by that horrible thing
Feel it biting, teeth chomp down, the sting.

You’re safe, my love, under this earthly mound
But, suddenly, Seymour…

You’re not around.

(Bring up the Pastor’s volume as the last chords fade away)

Pastor:      Help Audrey
to realize that the distance between them, now,
is not so great and that one day,
she will be reunited with Seymour, in paradise.

(Fade out to Audrey and Seymour’s kitchen)

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I’ve loved Little Shop of Horrors ever since I saw the movie, and then the musical on stage. Different vibes, especially the original ending of the movie. Look it up. Not the most postive of finale’s,and the test audiences told them so.

At the time, the title was worming its way around my head, until I realized why: it was originally a SciFi movie made by Roger Corman in 1960. It was one of those movies I watched as a kid, most likely on Chiller Theater, or maybe by way of Zacherly. Either way, I’ve enjoyed the versions, one and all.

The above: I was playing around with readers from the previous post that I’d love a sequal to the movie. What started out as a 100 word prompt piece led me here, the idea fermenting on my way home from a coffee shop (where you can now use their bathrooms. Hey, no free publicity: If I name the place, I want to get product placement $$$$$).

I had a tune in my head while I was writing this out. I’m not a musician, but creating song melodies is something I’m used to doing. Just need a musician to transcribe what is inside of me. Also: I was NOT using the music of “Suddenly, Seymour” from the movie. I just wanted the words to connect to the film. Honor, tribute, as you wish.

Hope you liked this.

Philomel, with Melody: #Friday Fictioneers, A Different Take

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dadsshoesPHOTO PROMPT submitted by Courtney Wright. © Photographer prefers to remain anonymous.

Philomel, with Melody

“Will you look at this? Look at these boots! How darest he leave us a pair in such disgusting shape?”

“Yea. How darest he?”

“Look at that! How in Titania’s Tits are we supposed to fix…those?”

“Yea, Titania’s titties. HeHe.”

“Oh, do shut up.”

“Me lips are sealed.”

“And yer still yapping your yap. Damn me for a hobgoblin! This is beyond my ken.”

“You haint no hobgoblin.”

“Oh, double do shut up! Spit and a prayer; they’re falling apart! The soles! Look at the soles!”

“Back to the mushroom fields, then?”

“Ay. No cobbling tonight. Daft shoemaker. Daft boots.”

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So, I look at the picture prompt, and methinks to myself: “Thar be different stories one can tell from a picture of boots.” I thought I just thought it to myself, but when I got strange looks from the other coffee house patrons, I realized I said it out loud, in full Pirate voice. My timbers were shivered.

Yesterday, the picture prompt led to Boots in Distress. Today, the above.
As to the challenge: The above was a prompt from Addicted to Purple by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields that she calls Friday Fictioneers . The rules for this prompt are simple:

    1. Use the photo on Addicted to Purple as your prompt.
    2. Write a 100 word story, complete with beginning, middle, and end.
    3. Make every word count.
    4. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor of the photo credit.

Liebster Award Sunday: not lobster; Abysmal Dollhouse/AtoZ Blog Challenge

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.
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“Share, Discover, and Enjoy!” That is the underlying mission of Shari Marshall’s blog, Writing is Communication. We discovered our mutual blogs through the 2018 AtoZ Blog Challenge. It has been a pleasure discovering her work: focusing on a fantasy world continuing story through a drabble (100-word complete flash fiction). It’s not easy to par down all you want to say in just 100 words, make the post complete, AND have it tell an engaging ongoing narrative…well, Shari accomplishes it, and does so very, very well. I’ve linked the title to her blog: go check it out. Now. Shoo. Do it. I’ll stick around for the nonce.

As to the Leibster Award: AtoZ and other blog challenges are two-fold. (1) The most obvious is that they are challenges for the blogger to meet the requirements in whatever they are tasked to do; not always the easiest thing to accomplish, but the reward is in making a go of it and hoping you can see it through to the end. (2) The most important element (to me, anyways) is to discover new blogs and their creators. I’ve come across some amazing sites, followed & continue to follow most, became online friends with a lot of them, and one more intense crossing of paths.

Nominating blogs you admire is tied into the blogging community. It shows appreciation for what you’ve produced beyond hitting a like button, or stars ratings; even beyond leaving a gushing comment or three. While there are many “rules” for the Leibster Award, here are the

RULES OF THE LIEBSTER AWARD 2018
The rules are:

1. Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you and display the award logo.
2. Answer 11 questions that the blogger sets for you.
3. Nominate blogs that you think are deserving of the award.
4. Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
5. Let your nominees know about their nomination!

Hey Shari: I acknowledge you. Phew. That one was easy peasy.

I shall now endeavor to answer her eleven questions, sorta like a magical quest:

  1. Do you think that a writer has to be defined by one genre?

Absolutely not. I do my darndest not to. I believe a writer should move beyond what becomes their comfort zone.  Write what moves you that day. I’ve attempted a lot of genres and styles. Some more successful than others. My blog is an open…blog. The list of the last 50 or so is to the right. Scroll down. Discover. I have favorites that went nowhere.

2. What is your favourite writing topic?

Paranormal stuff. Horror, lately, it seems.

3. Do you have a book that you recommend to other readers on a regular occasion? What and why?

Knots, by RD Laing. It blew my mind wide open at 17. I suggest that if you tackle it, you must read it in one sitting, late at night. If you do, I think you’ll also get a good insight of the mess that is my thinking process.

4. Book version or movie version?

Depends on the book and the movie. Each is its own animal. Caveat: If the movie is trying to be a “faithful adaptation” of the book, then you better damn well be faithful. Loose adaptations, where the director is adding her/his voice (which is the majority) I’ll try and take it as a separate entity. Please note: I wrote “try.” Just be good. Don’t suck.

5. If I gave you the word “vellichor” as a writing jump off point where might you jump?

The Last Used Bookstore In The Known Worlds

6. What would be your dream setting to write in?

THE comfy chair, headrest perfectly aligned (with massage system embedded and  attuned to every ache). THE perfectly brewed Black Cherry Iced Tea. THE best snack at hand: sweet or savory, as needed. THE well-trained puppy and kitten, needing attention; being perfect momentary distractions. Last, but definitely not least, THE love of my life, for fuller distraction and attention, cuddles, kisses, massages (who need the comfy chair, then?), and other things only she can provide.

7. What is your favourite season?

Fall. Cool, breezy weather. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh

8. Who is your favourite villain? Why?

Catwoman. Meow. Does one really need to ask?

9. Who is your favourite hero? Why?

I’m Batman, Damnit.

10. What does writing mean to you?

Release. Distraction. Creativity. Justification. Acknowledgement. Appreciation. Love.

11. How would you respond to either of these quotes from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you there” or “No wise fish would go anywhere without a porpoise.”

I’ll take “The Road Less Traveled” for $2000, Alex.

Phew. All done. Wait? That was only #2 on the Liebster rules????? OY…I’m dying!!! Ok, here are my TOP OF THE POPS:

Fiction Can Be Fun   Yes, both of you!!!

A Creatvie PTSD Gal

A Bit To Read

Iain Kelly

Swerve Strikes Again

WordDreams

I’m exhausted. But wait…there’s more.

OK. Here are MY elven…um…I mean eleven questions that the six nominees (well, 7) NEED to answer. There will be a quiz. BONUS POINTS: answer any of the questions with WHY you answered that way. Up to you. No pressure. ::::Unfolding Doll sharpening its knife::::

  1. If you could write in any writers voice besides your own, whose would it be?
  2. What literary genre holds NO interest for you?
  3. What song with a strong narrative still touches you?
  4. What fictional character do you wish you were?
  5. Savory or Sweet?
  6. What are “The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of?”
  7. You stumble upon a magic rock. Picking it up, you discover something underneath. What is it?
  8. Have you had an inexplicable experience? What was it?
  9. What fiction book would you recommend to me?
  10. What movie or TV show do you love but hate to admit it?
  11. What does writing mean to you? (yes, I’m stealing it from Shari. Deal).

Have fun kiddos.

I’m done. Lunch and nap.

Tomorrow: N is for…

Imprint of a Bad Dream

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Three a.m., and Rachel woke suddenly, feeling as if an arm had withdrawn, a body, light,  pressed against her. Her heart pounding, Rachel turned away from the wall and searched the darkness. She should be alone, had been alone, for a long time now. No arms draped around her, no heat generating body snuggled in such a familiar way, no touch, no caress, nothing. Laying on her back, the clock light the only illumination in the room, the only sounds the passing of a car, then others…Rachel was aware of being the sole occupant in her bed.

Why, then, did she still feel like she’s still being held?

Tossing and turning, the night crawls by. Her pulse rate takes its time in returning to a relative state of normal, chest finally relaxing where she no longer feels like her rib cage would expand to bursting. Sleep comes, but is interrupted often by a quick wake up, startled, flipping over, wrapping her sheet around her, kicking off the blanket, putting the blanket back on. Three and a half hours pass this way.

Rachel slams the alarm button, and the clattering noise stops and leaves her hearing her own ragged, panting breath. The left eye hurts, the right one not much better. She rubs them with the palms of her hands, and they tear when she blinks them open again. Massaging her temples, Rachel puts her feet in her slippers and gets up off the bed. It takes a second to balance herself.

Her morning rituals go without a hitch. Rachel is on auto-pilot, showering, dressing and completing all her needs in the correct order, as she’s done for so many years, and while this stabilizes her, at the back of her mind she can not get over the feeling of the arm, the hand, the fingers splayed upon her back. “A dream” she says to herself. “A nightmare.” Shrugging it off, Rachel leaves to, as she sees it, truly begin her day.

It is one disaster after another. Stress piled on top of anxiety on top of belittlement, with a dash of confusion, worry and angst blended in to the mix. The car that cuts her off; the boss reaming her out; the phone call not returned; the splatter of grease from her lunch on her suit; the call that interrupts; her mother; the co-worker; the bill that she thought she paid; the smile not returned; the feeling that she still has not shaken off the nightmare grope, what it meant, why it still is touching her.

She feels as if she carries around an imprint of the appendage from the night, that it is affecting her day by rippling out to those around her. Rachel sees a grasping, a clutching that cuts off anything from running smoothly, the same old same old to the unexpected. It tightens and pulls, runs strangle holds over thought processes, thumps speeds bumps into her path. She was physically exhausted from lack of sleep already; Rachel felt, by end of her work day, completely beaten up, drained of energy, worn out, worthless.

Her briefcase, shoes, stained suit, shirt, stockings, bra and panties are scattered from the front door of her apartment to the bathroom. That was not like the normal Rachel, the put together Rachel, the almost OCD Rachel, the orderly, neat and clean obsessed Rachel. That Rachel had a phantom arm around her throat, constricting her every movement.

The shower head pumps out steaming hot water, the mirror fogs up in seconds. Soon her white skin is pink, turning to red, and it gets to the point where she almost screams that she feels the limb dissolve, melting away in the heat, running down the drain with the too hot water. Rachel presses herself against the tiles, cold on her back, fiery blast assaulting her front. Closing her eyes, she stands there until the pain finally reaches her, and she stumbles to turn off the left faucet, letting icy water race down her torso, genitalia  and legs.

Eleven p.m., and Rachel has finally made her way to her bed. Before this it was  mindless TV watching on the couch, huddled in her pj’s and terry cloth robe, nursing a beer along the way while she downed a few shots of Tequila. Her normal to bed time went by an hour ago, and she knew she could not put it off any longer. Two days of little to no sleep would do her no good, nor would two days in a row of being batted around by others, and herself.

Lying on her back, eyes wide open, Rachel checked the darkness, looking for any sign of movement. Nothing. She closed her eyes, re-shifted, opened her eyes, tried to focus, closed them, shifted again, and again, pulled the top sheet and cover up to her neck, swaddled her feet, curved into a semi fetal position, and finally…finally….finally…

Three a.m., and it was more careful this time, not wanting to wake her, to distress her, to cause her any pain. It floated its caress around her,  a diaphanous embrace of the night.

Indifference To A Walk In The Park

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The writer wished he  was a painter. In his mind, he painted, as he strolled through the park that surrounded the lake. “An artist that crafted something permeable,” he thought.  “People would enjoy the aesthetics of my creation. Or not. Who cares?” He knew his words held power, but they came fleeting, more often then not. He wanted a blank canvas on an easel, paints, brush…all the accoutrements. What he had was his hands in his pockets as he walked around the shallow body of water.

He thought in tones of realism, but wished he was  a writer who tended to the abstract, maybe even pointillist, impressionist or surrealistic styling. He wished to dig at the what emits through the nature of things, taking away the shell and leaving the essence.  He wanted words that would fly, forgoing concrete for emotive deconstruction. The writer who wanted to be a painter wanted intrigue, disgust, passion…not the indifference of being one of so, so many.

His thoughts led him along the path, noticing moments: the couples on the benches that were shaded, not in direct sun; the gangs of geese, on land or in the water, their droppings littering almost any step he could make; the twin girls learning how to bike ride, both in pink helmets and pants, one free wheeling, the other still attached to dad, who yells out “Be strong!” to her as he’s ready to let go; the bicyclists who pass him by; the joggers who run, stop, start, all around him, in various work out clothes, both loose and tight; the woman with the  lame leg trying to keep up with her younger walking partner; the broken pathway, cracked earth, the cloudless blue sky that’s letting the sun light to beat down on the surroundings, on him, sweating. He wants to paint these moments, these scenes.

It happens in a lost thought. Coming up the path, straight towards him, wide open eyes staring at him, a smile plastered across the dirt streaked face. A collision course, chicken played out in daylight. A foot splashes into one of the many puddles that dot the walkway, sending a light spray towards the writer, towards geese sitting to the side, silent. The writer stares back, keeping to his path, and a reflective smile creases his face. His hands, which are at his side, reach up towards his belt, elbows bent, ready.

The mother shouts “Liam!” and  takes the three year old’s hand, moving him out of the writer’s way, just as the writer side stepped the child. She and the father apologize for their child, but the writer waves it off, laughing, and says “It was just a showdown. Liam would have won, ” and he continues walking. Looking back, Liam is riding high in his mother’s arms, looking over her shoulder at the retreating writer. His little hand waves. The writer waves back, then continues on.

From there on, the writer observes the dragons that come to roost on the banks of the lake, the mates and their dragonettes in clusters, resting. The Swan King settles down in the middle of the water, standing on one foot, and calls out to all his turquoise and brown brethren, who swim in a circle around the king, genuflecting into the water, and coming up with catch for their supper. A high speed chase flashes down the path, two wheeled and two legged, a race on a moebius strip of gravel and dirt. The writer notices things out of the corner of his eye, but he pays them no heed, for when he looks directly at them, they are altered forever.

He sits on a throne of blue painted planks held up by ornate grey cement, etched with decrees of love and foul curses. Breathing in the moments, it all plays out for him in hundreds of different ways. He is an artist, and he is a painter, and he sings and conducts and composes and his mind dances to all the tunes he can imagine, and all the colors are at his disposal.

Levitating off the throne, he wings his way home.

Leda and the Swan: National Flash Fiction Day

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Man Ray: Leda and the Swan

A swan walks into a bar…

No, not really.

A God walks into a bar…actually, the once King of the Gods…well, Greek Gods…and not King for a pretty long time…

…and it’s not really a bar, per se, but the bar in a disco, The Metamorphoses.

He’s not really Zeus anymore, either,  having given up that name for quite a while.  Too many just don’t believe in him and his anymore.

Zeus took flight and has  lived a long time as Mr. Swan.

So…A Swan does walks into a bar…

Mr. Swan saunters to the Metamorphoses bar and his burps dissolve into the loud music; his gastrointestinal expulsion is showing  his appreciation of a fine meal. He had just come  from the Olympus Diner, where he had:  an appetizer of Spanokopita; a generous helping of Lamb Souvlaki with rice; and he followed all that by two large slices of Baklava, dripping with extra honey (the waitress was enthralled, naturally, without knowing why). His stomach was happy, well sated. But…the diner had no liquor license (he’ll fix that in the morning). Swan wanted to get drunk…and he was looking for a little bit more pleasure.

The dancers were staying alive on the multicolored lit floor, the pulsating music swarming around the enclosed room. He scooped up a double Ouzo the bartender (a lithe blonde he intended to revisit) had set down, snorted a line of coke that was offered to him, and settled in. Swan scoped the place out, dazzled by the gyrating young flesh moving to a beat that stirred him in a number of ways. Sipping his drink, a smile playing around the rim of the glass, Swan found what he was looking for.

His eyes locked on a tableau: she was tall, curvy, long legged and teased out brunette hair. She had stylish (“for this age”, he thought) earrings, was not chewing gum, and best of all…she was alone. Downing his Ouzo and taking the replacement glass that was immediately in front of him, Swan boogied on down the steps of the bar/lounge area, across the dance floor, and up to his prey’s high top.

Chatting her up wasn’t all that hard, music blaring or not. Her name was Leda, she was a Broadway wannabe, and just had a fight with her boyfriend, Ty. She came with her girlfriends to let off some steam, and why was she telling him this and more, but Leda could not stop, nor could she refuse the copious amounts of Ouzo that Swan ordered for her. They talked, she laughed, he flirted, and they took it all to the dance floor.

If you ask anyone who was there at the Metamorphoses that night, no two stories would be the same, except for one thing: that night was magic. Everyone spilled out onto the dance floor, hours upon hours of drinking and drugging and sweating and laughing, taking things to an extreme that had never been experienced before.

And sex. There was a lot of sex that night.

Leda found herself with Swan in a ladies room stall. She wasn’t the only one that evening, but she was his main event.

Mr. Swan walked out in the early hours of the next morning bedraggled but beaming. He kept the music alive in his head and an arm around the blonde bartender, heading back to the Olympus Diner for some eggs, disco fries, ambrosia,  and the still enthralled waitress (her shift was over when she paid for his bill). The three of them had a fun morning.

Leda found Ty sitting in front of her apartment door. He as ten times ten apologetic, taking all the blame and asking her not only to take him back, but to marry him. He was an idiot, he admitted, and…and…and…

Leda said yes later that afternoon, after the two of them got out of bed and got dressed. They went for lunch at the diner (missing Zeus..um…Swan drop off the waitress by minutes) then got in his car and eloped,  driving to New England.

Nine months later, they had twin girls: Poly and Helen. Leda never questioned, Ty never knew, and the both of them loved to love their babies.

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From the UK comes the first ever Flash Fiction Day (National should become International, but that’s for another time).

What is Flash Fiction? Well, you can read about it HERE or HERE or even HERE.

My working definition: It’s a very short piece of work, not normally considered a short story (which usually has word counts under 7,500 words). Flash is basically considered anything from a few words to one thousand (give or take). It cuts out meandering sentences, extra words, and run on sentences, as you, as the writer, are forced to focus on being as concise as you possibly can. Unlike this explanation. 🙂

Most of what I write here on Tale Spinning has been Flash Fiction (without my announcing or championing it). I really discovered what FF is thanks to Lisa Vooght, author of the aptly named blog, Flash Fiction. She’s also the one who let me on that there was a National Flash Fiction Day. There are many others out there, and it’s been a pleasure finding them, bit by bit. Might be a blog post just on other FF blogs to find, but again…that is for another time.

You have 16 more days to read my Swan Rise series before it comes down on June 1st. Click HERE for all the links to the 26 stories. (and no…this story is not part of Swan Rise).

You Are Mine! (A Tanka Poem)

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YOU ARE MINE!

Something comes at night
Holding breath; no creaks, no sound
Covers drawn up tight
The moon peers in my window:
It, illuminated so

Saying: “You Are Mine!
From this night forward, believe
We are meant to be.
To the underbelly, fly
Nothing wicked to deny.”

Covers off, so tossed
A soft sprinkling of dust
Anticipation…
My mattress far below me
A smile lights up my being.

Out the window, soar
Swoop and laugh forever more
Reach the stars above
Quick! The morning sun comes fast
What is left behind?

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Author’s Note:

From Wikipedia:

Tanka consists of five units (often treated as separate lines when Romanized or translated) usually with the following pattern of onji:

5-7-5-7-7.

The 5-7-5 is called the kami-no-ku (“upper phrase”), and the 7-7 is called the shimo-no-ku (“lower phrase”). Tanka is a much older form of Japanese poetry than haiku.

About 1300 years old (I’ve seen 1200 too, so..why quibble), A Tanka has been hitting the poetry rounds lately.

This is my first Tanka, and I based it on a well loved story (see the tags if you don’t see what I was playing with).

ADDENDUM:

This is what cosmic synchronicity is about: I got, on Friday morning (the day after I wrote this), an email from The Purple Treehouse that their poetry prompt to express a different poetic form,  this week  to write a “WAKA” for you to think within 5-7-5-7-7 syllables and let your love know, how much you love…  or, one of its’ forms:

Chōka consists of 5-7 Japanese sound units phrases repeated at least twice, and concludes with a 5-7-7 ending.

The Tanka, as described above, which allowed a bit more expression

“There are still other forms of waka. In ancient times its moraic form was not fixed – it could vary from the standard 5 and 7 to also 3, 4, 6, longer than 7 morae part in a waka. Besides that, there were many other forms like Bussokusekika, Sedōka, Katauta etc.” (copied from The Purple Treehouse)

So, now I’m linking this piece up to their site and poetry blog hop. Please click on The Purple Treehouse link and take a look at the other poets expressing this poetic form. I Hope you like it.

The Golden Princess: An Un-Fairy Tale

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Once upon a time…King Midas touched his daughter and she turned into gold.

His despair was genuine, as was his outrage, all swiftly turning into self-loathing and shame. He fled his court, wailing at the travesty brought upon him by his golden touch. He never returned.

The Golden Princess was left behind. The hand that had reached out to her father in his anguish was still outstretched. Her still face reflected the the concern she had for him, her shoulders slightly hunched; all immobile. Except…

She was aware.

Aware of all that went on around her. The King’s advisers tried to keep decorum, waiting (in vain) for Midas to return. That lasted only so long. A bloody power struggle for the rule of the land ensued, as the only true heir was a lovely gold statue.

Whatever gold items that had been left behind were taken: either to support the efforts of the warring factions, or stolen to create a new life somewhere else. The Golden Princess was the last artifact of The Midas Touch remaining in one piece.

She was aware of all the plotting, the treacheries, the betrayals. She heard her father both cursed and praised, although the praises were for the gold he created. She heard grief about her own loss, from servants and from lords, and she heard some of the tales of those who wished they had bedded her…and more.

Awareness was a curse unto itself.

Time passed. Long giving up counting the days and nights, she knew not how long. Moved around now and then, new faces appeared, new voices heard. They long since stopped calling her Princess Marygold. The Golden Princess became her own legend.

The worst, or so she thought at the time, was being placed into a dark room. Hearing the bolt and lock clack and snick so loudly, she remained in darkness for an uncountable determination. She screamed and cried and wailed and keened…all inside her golden self.

No one heard. No one heard anything of her for a very long time.

Voices. Loud yells…and screams. Clashing of metal on metal, explosions shook her, waking her out of her stupor. “I’m here. I’m here!” she wanted to bellow. She wanted light, freedom, release. It had gnawed at her.

She was aware of the sound of the lock being broken, of the bolt driven back, of the door flung open and torch light coming in. The joy she felt at these things, taking in the unknown faces. The men, battered and bloody, whooped and grinned when they saw her. She heard shouts of “The Golden Princess!!” from these men and then outside of her imprisonment.

Lifted up and out, with great effort, the men brought her up to the throne room. Or, what was left of the room. She was aware there was blood along the way, bodies strewn. Damage…damage to the walls, stairways crumbled, light streaming in from what had been the west wall of the hall.

The Golden Princess was placed down in a shaft of light that streamed in from the gaping wound of the castle. The men talked continuously, starting at her, running their hands all over her. All over her. They stopped only when one man yelled to them, as he walked over and they parted for him, going to  knee.

“Please,” she thought with urgency. “Please, find a way to release me.”

In a language she was unfamiliar with, he spoke to his horde. They brayed in unison at times to his speech, the rest of the time they were rapt in attention. When he was done, as one, they stood, and cheered, cheered, cheered!

If she could have shed tears, a dam would not have been able to hold them. She did not know these people, but to be in the light, to not be so alone…

They removed her from her castle, her home and prison of so long. She was aware of being put on a cart and moved, screaming inside when a covering was placed on her, again hiding out any light. She was aware of the voices, the animal noises, the movement of the cart, then being hoisted off the cart and brought inside.

She was aware when the covering was taken off, and she was equally aware of the immense heat around her. A cauldron, large and blackened, fire raging underneath it,  took up a good part of the room. New men surrounded her, black with soot and grease and sweating.

Their rough hands brought her to the edge of the cauldron. She was aware of their laughter, their horrid, filthy jokes. Vile, vile men, they handed her with no care. They dropped her on the floor, and her outstretched hand…her outstretched hand…one of them took red hot glowing pincers from a smaller smoldering bin, and she was aware as he took great care in separating that hand, at the wrist, the thinnest part.

She was aware of the noise it made as it hit the floor.

Great peals of laughter surrounded her now. The hiss and noise of the fire and cauldron goo mixed with the glee of the men. Many hands now were on her, and again she was aware she was lifted. A count started; they all joined in, and what she assumed was three, they tossed her.

She was aware of the hands letting go. She was aware of the short flight in the air. She was aware of the horrible heat. She was aware of the splash she made, and the sinking down, and the melting away, and she was aware, aware, aware…

She was aware…they found a way to release her.