SHE LOOKED FAMILIAR
Daydreamers Write! Prompt & Challenges
(1) “I thought you were dead!” is the prompt. The challenge: 50 Words in total. The prompt must appear within the 50 words.
I entered the B&W Art Gallery. Two steps; I noticed her. Obscured by multi-colored winter wear, her eyes!! She looked familiar. Fixated on a large white canvas with a “?” centered, she turned as I neared. We both gasped: “I thought you were dead!” We fell into each other’s arms.
(2) Bonus Challenge: Another 50 words, same prompt, but from a different POV. SHE LOOKED FAMILIAR.
Just too damned cold! Should’ve taken a cab. An Art Gallery? YES! The heat of the room wrapped around me. Mmmmm. Should look around.
Huh? Why would anyone paint a “?”? Weird. Someone approached me. She looked familiar. OMG! “I thought you were dead!” We fell into each other’s arms.
⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔
Author’s Note: I am the organizer/host of DAYDREAMERS WRITE!: Prompts & Challenges.
It runs every Saturday morning from 10:00 am to Noon, EST.
No matter the level a writer you think you are, all are welcome.
The two hours are split:
10 to 11 is the first prompt.
I will post it on Monday, 8/10
At Noon: Another prompt WITH a challenge. It changes every week.
Both Sessions: 25 mins to write; 30-35 mins for Sharing & feedback
The two 50 word pieces above, “She looked familiar” appeared as the group’s Challenge Round on August 8, 2020.
Most likely this will remain in the Virtual World Community.
Click on the above link if you would like to join in. Everyone is welcome.
Lemmings to Slaughter
©Stuart Nager 8/5/20
I watched a woman dive off of a cliff.
The four others who had ascended with her ran to the edge of the outcropping. At first, I thought they would all follow her as a group, a splice of Lemmings following the herd. They did run helter-skelter after, yet they all stopped abruptly at the edge. Parts of The Trolls Tongue ledge were disturbed by their mad dash forward. Broken off pieces of rock following in her stead as they laughed and high fived each other.
Two went prone, cellphones at hand, in what I assumed was to record the woman’s rapid descent. The other two had packs already on their backs, each checking the other.
I noticed all of their movements for a brief moment: a fraction, really. I took them in more out of the corner of my eye. I lost total interest as I watched the jumper descend.
She was swimming through the air. The flips were followed by a turn to the west. Then east. A series of air pocket climbs allowed her to somersault, pushing her up on the currents. The spirals she performed were breathtaking. Her control was magnificent. The whining pitch of her aerials signaled her falling speed increase.
Spreading her body out, she pulled something. I could see the movement, but she was too far away, even for me, to see clearly.
The pack upon her back burst open. A snarl of colors leaped out and up. As it unfurled, I muttered an involuntary “ah” as I understood. A parachute. Multi-colored as it snapped into shape, drawing her once more upwards. The four yelled, laughed, and hooted at this point. I didn’t turn to look. It was enough to hear them squawk akin to Snowy Owls.
I imagined her laughing along as she heavily floated to the Fjord below. Her heart beating fiercely, blood coursing through her body at high speed. I envied her, that joy, that freedom, that overtaking of fear. Sensations that I have been divorced from for far too long.
A new shout from the four sought my attention and grabbed it. Only the two lying prone were still there. The others were off, doing their “death-defying” acrobats. I watched it for only a moment. Individually, they were nowhere near as graceful as their friend was. They made up for it a bit, and they maneuvered around and with each other. It wasn’t enough. I lost interest in the last hooting I heard from them.
I’d been alone on The Tongue for an eternity. Initially, I climbed this peak after the deaths of my family, trying to escape their death howls. They were silenced in turn as I fled. Ashamed, I traveled on. Climbing, ever climbing. When I first beheld this outcropping, my turmoil of thoughts leveled out. The gods were with me. An excellent place to die, I thought and felt. I had been alone for so long. It was good at that point to die alone.
Yet, when I reached the edge of the outcropping, ready to cross that flimsy border of safety, I found I was unable to move any closer. The dizzying height, the frigid air, the snow that had followed me as I trod on. Frozen in heart and mind, I was buffeted in indecision that lasted through the freezing night.
Just as the morning sun began its rise, my knees and lower legs wobbled. I grew unsteady, leaning precariously in the direction I needed to go. Wanted so desperately to go. A strong upwind slapped me in the face, sending me back instead of forwards.
I sprawled on the outcrop through the light of the day. Movement was beyond me. I tried, failing every attempt. As the day dwindled away, I let the darkness envelop me in whole. All the pride I still had fled, my resolve punctured. Emotions were stripped away in one swoop. I was unmade.
The night sky was brilliant when I finally opened my eyes anew.
“I am not worthy of joining you. I see that now. I can wait. I can still remember.”
Hunger growls drew me out of the remembrance. Loud, but not loud enough to rouse the two left behind. My steps towards them were but feathers.
Upon The Trolls Tongue, I feasted well.
May those who come searching for them travel with speed.
Time is a concept.
Time is a concept created by and for us.
There was light or darkness.
Labels made to fit.
Labels to fracture light and darkness.
Labels created—our concepts.
Our concept of what Time is, is meaningless.
We have taken Time and let it control.
Schedules. Start times.
When to show up. When to leave.
When to take the train.
When Time runs out, the train is gone.
What has Time done to us?
Being free of Time would be a blessing.
Time is our illusion.
We’ve dusted our eyes to the instability of such a structured thing.
The giant Metropolis clock needs winding.
We strive not to have Time run out.
Is it Time to let Time decompose?
Can we exist without the burden of Time?
Being free of Time,
All the stars reach critical points
Gone in a blaze
Is there passing of Time?
Or is it just an end.
Time will have no meaning then.
Time has no meaning now.
A WEEKLY COHORT FOR WRITERS
This is what has kept me very busy over the last couple of weeks. Michael Grant, Artie Ohanian, and I have put together a Virtual Writer’s Group. RevitalWriters is for writers of any style or genre (poetry; fiction; non-fiction; memoir/biography; etc.) who want/need support for their WIP (Work(s) In Progress). All this leading to achieving a finished manuscript to send off to agents and/or publishers.
The sessions will run every Friday night, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, EST. If you are in any other time zone, if you’d like to become part of the cohort, let us know.
Our Goal: To offer support, encouragement, and constructive critique in a safe space.
We are not a prompt/generative writing group that you join when the planets align. Our intention is that writers serious about their craft get what they need to to finish and submit.
For full details of how each session will be run, visit RevitalWriters. You’ll find our guidelines, About page, contact information, and upcoming Resource For Writers and Blog pages.
I hope you can join us in our first group meeting at RevitalWriters Session. Friday, July 10, 2020, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, EST.
PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT US FOR MORE INFORMATION:
I hope to see you there.
by Stuart Nager©
“Wendy. Close the window. It is freezing in here.”
John was flat on his back, under his sheets and quilt. He had his right arm draped over his eyes. Truth be told, it was his nightshirt that did the draping. John’s arm was across his brow. He had to remind himself to relax, for he was leaving an indent in the lower forehead.
Wendy sat on the padded window bench; knees tucked up tight against her chest. Her arms encircled her legs. The window was ajar, allowing the night winds free entry into the bedroom. Wendy searched the clouds, looking. Praying. Hoping.
The wind whipped up, bursting past the lead paned glass. It sends Wendy’s nightshirt fluttering. Her shoulders lifted, her immaculate posture in place. Wendy tilted her head just so. She knew what he liked.
As did she.
“Arrrrrr, matey!” John used his pirate voice, doing his best to make her laugh. Wendy did not laugh nor smile. Jumping out of bed, John had to untangle himself from the bedsheets. All of the bed coverings wound up on the floor.
“Wendy, it is freezing in here. Shut the window, please.” He looked over at Michael, deep in slumber. His consistent snoring was the proof he was asleep. He could never duplicate that sound when he was faking to stay in bed. Mother saw right through him.
Wendy shushed him.
“You know he won’t wake up. He’s dead to the world right now.”
She shushed him again. John grabbed his quilt from the floor, whipping it over his head and onto his shoulders. So encased, John approached his sister. Wendy was still eyeing the night sky.
John plopped down on the other side of the bench, pulling the blanket even tighter around him. Just as his teeth started to chatter, he realized Wendy was only in her night clothing. Reversing the quilt, he laid one end over his sister.
“Thank you, John,” she whispered, far away from the room. John followed where she was looking. She’d change an angle; he would mirror it. “Darling bookends,” Liza would say if the housemaid was in the room. He smiled at that thought. Wendy noticed him as his smile slowly crept back inside him.
“Wendy. He’s not coming back. He isn’t. Shh. Please hear me out. We’ve had this…this…talk far too often. Fourteen months have passed. No pirates. No Indians. No Tink. No Pe…”
Reaching over, Wendy placed the four fingers of her left hand gently over his mouth.
“Enough, John. Please. I know. I still hope. I still have hope. Every blessed night I have hope. It just,” Wendy stopped, turning her head back to gazing the now unclouded sparkling heavens. “It just hurts, John.”
He nodded his head. What was left to say? They had had this conversation far too many times. It always ended in tears. There were many nights where John tried his best to distract her. The successful evenings were spent making up stories of what battle or mischief he would be embroiled in, smack in the center of it all. She’d laugh at many of his tales. The more outlandish he made them, the more Wendy relaxed. And she’d stop looking out the window.
The less beneficial nights would come, ones where John felt powerless. Wendy, questioning, always the same. “Why doesn’t he return?” John knew there were two unspoken words to that query: “For her.”
Wendy did turn her head back to John. “No stories tonight, please. My insides are so knotted, so heavy. Not tonight, dear John. Not tonight.”
He nodded his head, and the two sat quietly by the window. No one spoke. Michael snored. They both yawned, Wendy insisting John started it. John, naturally, accused Wendy.
“We better get to bed. I don’t wish Mother to be cross with us in the morning.” She stood up, patting her nightwear down into a proper shape. John noticed Wendy’s hesitation before she reached over and closed the window. The sound of the latch fitting in place brought a feathery gasp from her lips. Her arms, as always, crossed over her heart.
John returned to bed. He tossed all the linen quilt back on the bed, diving under it all for warmth. John’s face was warm. He felt an unpleasant tightening in his chest. He should have hugged her, said he’ll always be there for her, that she was the best sister anyone ever had. John only said: “Good night, Wendy,” as she closed the door, tiptoeing down the hallway to her room.
As Wendy made it to her bed, her thoughts swallowed her whole. She thought of the unfairness of growing up. How much Wendy wanted to share the same bedroom with her brothers again. How much she wished she had stayed and not returned home. All swept away by the burning question she held tight: “Why hasn’t Peter returned for me?”
It was just over a month that Wendy overheard “The” conversation. Wendy, supposedly in bed, was walking by Mother’s bedroom. The door was partially open. Peeking in, Mother was sitting at her vanity, Liza behind her, counting out the number of times she ran the brush through Mother’s hair.
Wendy was not pleased that Mother was now calling her “a proper young lady.” She had experienced her first flow, a most embarrassing event. Her bones were achy almost all the time. She started maturing. Wendy’s new clothing, the changes in her body, all of it left her feeling embarrassed and humiliated. Wendy’s deep sadness permeated throughout her.
She knew why Peter did not come for her.
Why he would not come for her, ever again.
Wendy wished she had never eavesdropped.
“100,” Lisa stated, putting the hairbrush down on the table. “Miss Wendy is starting to fill out, mum. She’ll be as beautiful as you. Not that she isn’t a pretty young thing now.”
Mother was silent, staring into the mirror. Wendy was sure Mother would not answer Liza. Just as she began to walk away, Wendy heard Mother say, “I know it is the right thing to do, Liza. It is time that Wendy a room to herself. She is blossoming. It is time for her to grow into being a proper young lady. But.” Mother left that word dangling on its own.
“Yes, but,” Liza agreed. “It will be for the best.”
Mother nodded. “I do pray that this will ease the burden she carries. Wendy needs to let this fantastical story of flying, pirates, faeries…” Mother sighed. “She needs to let it go.”
Wendy moved away from the door.
The next day Wendy was given her room. She sulked alone for the next two days, only leaving her confines for meals that she picked at. The third night, though, she had had enough.
Wendy immediately ran to the bedroom she had shared with her brothers. She threw the door wide open. Her feet glided across the nursery floor until she got up on the window. Kneeling, Wendy opened the windows. She crept to the window frame, her eyes fixated on the dark, laden clouds above. No stars were visible. Rain, though: rain fell ferociously. Wendy became a soaking wet sponge instantly. She kneeled on the pane for a long while.
A noise coming from the doorway startled Wendy out of her fugue. Wendy slightly turned and saw Liza standing in the hallway.
“Wendy Darling,” Liza trumpeted. She stamped her feet as she approached the window seat, not thinking of the boys at all. Upon arrival, Liza shooed Wendy to move away. “Young lady, what has gotten into you? You were not in your room. I knew you would be here. You, young lady, are heading straight to your room: a hot bath and fresh nightshirt. Go on. I’ll be right behind you.”
Wendy, shivering, glanced at her brothers, warmly tucked in. She smiled although her heart was shattering.
When she heard the latch fall into place, she sat on the floor and cried.
SONNET: WITH YOU
Sir Frederic Leighton Flaming, June 1895
My hope for you is restful sleep tonight Your curls I moved; gazing upon beauty My wish is for your dreams, wild with delight Watching o’er your rest, my loving duty. Curtains blow in; a cool summer night’s air Eyes closed, lips pursed, a notion of a purr Lying beside you, this comfort we share I kiss at your neck’s nape; you barely stir But, how would you sleep if I blew away? No longer in your life, would nightmares sing? Could emptiness consume; so love decay? Tears would worry angels. A bitter sting. My heart is yours always; our love aligned In sleep you take my hand, fingers entwined.
What makes this a Sonnet?
I am using the traditional English pattern/Shakespeare’s sonnet sequencing. 14 lines. Three quatrains followed by a couplet. Ten syllables on each line. The rhyme scheme is abab cdcd efef gg. There are other variations: the first and second quatrain, joining the two into an eight-line stanza(the octave), in eight-syllable lines. The third quatrain and the couplet together are a sestet, with only six syllables used per line. I prefer the Shakespearean or Elizabethan style. The first two stanzas are the setup. The third stanza presents a possible conflict or hurdle to overcome. The couplet resolves the tone of the first two quatrains. Or they may not. A poet purist will see it only set up that way. Other “dabblers” have the artistic choice.
The party took a turn when I was in the shower. Steam clouded the entire bathroom. I was waiting. It was taking its time tonight. A heavy thumping on the door makes me jump every time. Three times: THUMP pause THUMP pause THUMP! Silence. I thought it wouldn’t happen tonight. I was wrong. My eyes jerked to the curtain with the first THUMP. The second THUMP and my stomach falls to my ankles. My heart skips a beat while my testicles disappear with the third THUMP. The sound of the water beating down drowned out. Rain without sound. That rain was now scalding my skin. That damn noise!
It always takes a few moments for my breathing to get close to normal. I took hold of the shower curtain, hoping to catch a glimpse of the noisemaker. On the other hand, I wished I never caught that glimpse. No matter what, this had to stop, especially tonight. I peeked.
Like every time before, nothing was out of place. The Medicine cabinet was in one piece, its mirror fogged over but whole. Same with the pictures on the walls. Nothing had exploded out of the toilet, to my relief. I pulled on the towel rack. The best epoxy mortar firmly held it tight. Nothing was out of place. Again.
I’d had enough. Too many nights to count. Way too much fear.
On the balls of my feet, I inched over to the door, only to fling it open with an “AHA!” like I’ve done every night it’s happened. This night there was something beyond the door, in the hallway. My yell turned into a combo “AhaaaaAhhhhhOoooo,” ending with a yelp. Jan and Patty were just outside in the tight corridor. Jan had one hand over her mouth with the other pointing at my, ahem, sacred space. Of course, she was laughing. Patty’s hand flew to her heart, at first. Then the grin slowly built up her wattage. They were both laughing tears together by this point. Patty tried to bring Jan’s pointer finger hand down, but that brought the two of them to extreme giggling.
“We need the bathroom, Davey.” Jan knew I hated that. David. I’m David.
“Um..uh…,” Patty started. “Everyone is waiting for you. You know. Downstairs. It’s your…” and then she cut off with fire rising in her cheeks that spread to the rest of her face. She was still looking. I hadn’t done anything to cover myself or hide. Hiding was always a good option.
“It’s your frigging Birthday, you nimnut.” She pointed at David’s descending pair. “Make that nimnuts.” Jan’s smile combined a shit-eating grin with that of the cat that got the canary. I started to yell at her. Mid rant, she clutched my arm, pulling me out of the bathroom. The click bounced in the hallway as Jan locked the door behind her.
Patty stood there, admiring the newly waxed parquet floors. Water was dripping off of me. I sighed. Patty giggled. I had to sidle past her. I was sucking my gut in, squeezing past Patty. As I made it to my bedroom, I heard Patty’s giggle morph into a heavy sigh as I closed the bedroom door. I think she wanted me to hear that.
Drying myself was pretty much-taken care of by then. I threw on my clothes, gelled my hair, and opened my door. I left the room, expecting to see Patty still in place outside of the bathroom.
Nope. Jan. Of course, she noticed my instant let down hound dog look. I thought I was quick to control it, but again, nope. Jan knew me too well, growing up together, one year apart. My sister was a royal pain most of the time; tonight, she wanted to be one.
“Aw, Davey, little Patty’s gone for a tinkle. Or she’s hiding. Probably both.” Jan leaned in close. “Psst…Patty knows you like her.”
“What are we? Twelve?” I shouldn’t have answered her. I should know better by now.
“Davey wants to kiss Patty. Davey wants to…”
I lightly stamped on her foot. I moved back out of reach.
“YOU SHIT!” was loud enough to quell some of the noise from downstairs. Jan took the stairs with an “ouch ouch” here and an “ouch ouch” there. I could tell she made it in one piece. Everyone yelled, “Jan’s back!” The noise from the party ratcheted up.
The bathroom door unlocked. Patty joined me in the hall, closing the door behind her. I noticed the shower was off. One of them had to have done that because I forgot to.
Patty looked at me, her cheeks still pink.
“David, I’m sorry. We shouldn’t have…”
“It’s over, Pat. Let it die. Jan is Jan. You know that as well as me.”
Suddenly, three heavy thumps pounded on the other side of the bathroom door.
THUMP pause THUMP pause THUMP!!
The doorknob began to turn.
NIGHTMARES FROM AN UNBLEACHED SOUL
Keep the head down, take in a breath Arms tight across the chest, hold hold legs are rooted to the floor, hold hold Relase stone shoulders, and Collapse and sprawl, release Exhale Exhale Exhale Walking through a crowd Stop to find a calling path Others push past, not perceived Invisible to all that mill about Need to scream gets cancelled out Deep breath in, and hold Sit at home, so few reach out The initiator receives no replies Excuses made feel like lies While gatherings swirl about Not a second thought, or third Deep breath in, and hold Shutting down becomes the norm Someone checks in, clouds start to fray Disconnect. Nothing changed anyway Find happiness, find joy Can't take in, they bounce away Hold breath deep, then exhale Look forward, but it's a blur Calls for help aren't heard Windows beckon to so much more Stillness seeps inside Distress and fear halts the way Deep breath in, hold, exhale What is superficial? What is true? So confused as what to do Disconnect and hide Completely numb inside Breath, hold, exhale Deep breath in Hold Hold Exhale Deep breath in Hold Hold Hold hold
I don’t care if Monday’s Blue or Black or it makes me hold my head or even if it all falls apart…We’re in the last week of the AtoZ Blog Challange with the letter W.
MUSICIANS, or people who know musicians, hear my call I would love to find someone to collaborate with. Not every one of the 26 Lyrical Poems are winners, I know that. Many will need some tweaking if I take this further. I would just love to hear some, or all of these, put to music. Anyone knows, please email me.
My theme for this year’s AtoZ Blog Challenge is: Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul. 26 lyrical poems during the month of April (no Sundays). It started on April 1st and ends this Thursday on April 30th. After that, a week or two later you’ll be able to find Reflections on the experience. I hope you found new blogs to like and follow. If you still wish to, go to The Master List.
I’ve asked a few questions along the way: what genre of music you think suits the lyrics best? Who or what style of music was in my head when I wrote these? My last one for the week:
- Why Nightmares From An Unbleached Soul?
- I’m curious.: How do you interpret it
- for yourself ?
- why do you think I chose that as my theme title?
Comments are always welcome.
NIGHTMARES FROM AN UNBLEACHED SOUL
QUERY ÉLAN VITAL
What's the substance of consciousness? The public face that's worn; the other unknown. Locked in & secure is the hypothesis Of surviving another day all alone. The nature of the world that is shown Demanding expectations that aren't you Comes in conflict with your moral tone Become other than yourself, unglued. Qu'est-ce qui ne va pas? What's wrong with you? Chaque jour, vous endommagez votre âme! Every day you damage your soul! Défaillance fabriquée Hors de contrôle. Fabricated failure Is out of control. Aveugle pour le bien intérieur. Blind to the good inside. Pourquoi es-tu ici? Why are you here? Pourquoi? Why? The mind is such a chaotic thing Taking on more as it melts away Dripping out as they pluck your strings Life is a burden on tilted display. Numbness finds it's way into despair. Tightness in the heart beyond belief Finding yourself balancing on a chair Looking for answers, some relief. ¿Qué sucede contigo? What's wrong with you? ¡Cada día dañas tu alma! Every day you damage your soul! La falla fabricada está fuera de control. Fabricated failure Is out of control. Ciego a lo bueno por dentro. Blind to the good inside. ¿Por qué estás aquí? Why are you here? ¿Por qué? Why? [Instrumental] Nani ka mondaidesu ka? What's wrong with you? yeder tog ir shedikn deyn nshmh! Every day you damage your soul! Echèk fabrike Èske soti nan kontwòl. Fabricated failure Is out of control. Cieco per il buono dentro. Blind to the good inside. Limadha 'ant huna? Why are you here? Why? Why? Why?
For those that will ask:
The first chorus is in French.
The second one is in Spanish.
The third section has six languages. In order:
Japanese; Yiddish; Haitian Creole; Italian; Arabic; English.
Yes, I had music in my head as I did for every AtoZ entry.
I hope you liked it/were moved by it.
Comments are always welcome.