Category Archives: Mystery

Holding On

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a night window

HOLDING ON

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

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SONNET: WITH YOU

Sleeping woman

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.

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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.

Just write.

The Party Took A Turn

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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!

Again.

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.

I don’t.

“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.

 

 

Wounded Hovering: Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul, AtoZ Blog Challenge

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W2020

NIGHTMARES FROM AN UNBLEACHED SOUL

WOUNDED HOVERING

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

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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:

  1. Why Nightmares From An Unbleached Soul?  
  2. I’m curious.: How do you interpret it
    1. for yourself ?
    2. why do you think I chose that as my theme title?

Comments are always welcome.

Query Élan Vital: Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul, AtoZ Blog Challenge

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 Q2020

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?

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Author’s Note:

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.

One More Day… AtoZ April Challenge

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One more day.

Follow your dream; The courage found within.

It’s been inside of me all along

All along.

Don’t give up.

Please, don’t give up.

Don’t let me down

It’s your destiny to make it to the end

Now I see the finish line

Gonna finish mine

Set the controls for the heart of the sun

One day more!

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April 1st and the Blogging from A to Z Challenge begins.

26 posts, starting with A and finishing with Z.

My theme this year:

Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul

Song Lyrics and Poetry

Something different from me to you.

Please leave a comment here in the comment section.

Click on the link for AtoZ Blog Challenge; it’s not too late to sign up.

It’s never too late to discover new blogs on a variety of subjects.

I hope you enjoy what’s to come.

Me?

I’m a bit on the terrified side.

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Copyright info for the song lyrics that make up the top “poem.”

  1. Don’t Give Up lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management
  2. Strength Courage & Wisdom lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc
  3. Follow Your Dream lyrics © Star Songs Inc.
  4. One Day More lyrics © Alain Boublil Music Ltd., Alain Boublil Music Ltd, Wb Music Corp Obo Alain Boublil Music Ltd.
  5. Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun (25th September 1967 “Top Gear”) lyrics © T.R.O. Inc.
  6. Don’t Let Me Down lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
  7. Finish Line / Drown lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Yes, I Am

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NaNo_2019_-_Poster_Design_1024x1024 To order this beautiful poster print, use this link: NaNoWriMo Poster

Yes, I am taking part in this year’s NaNoWriMo event. It is kicking my buttocks and taking names.

For those who don’t know:

NaNoWriMo is a month-long writing challenge to get out the Great Novel you swear is in you.

  • Start a brand new Novel on November first;
  • write EVERY day during that same month;
  • Match, or surpass, the daily word goal they have set, just a teeny tiny bit under 1,700 words a day;
  • Ultimate Goal: 50,000 words that will hopefully lead to a brand spanking new novel.
    • Yes, 50K does not a novel make. Start it, write more, boom! Novel.

As of 11/10/2019, I have scribed 16,684 words of my “novel” idea, one that has been percolating since 2010. Yes, I know, not “brand new” 100%, but I’ve discarded so many ideas over the years of how to approach this. New start, new path. New. Don’t mention all the first chapter first drafts that I wrote, and deleted.

Don’t. Mention. Them.

I joined a Buddy Group. I signed up on the main site. Posted my daily achievements on the site and on FB. Procrastinated a bit (why do you think I’m writing this post?). And thought and thought, researched and thought, finally actually sitting in front of my WIP and adding more and more as the days pass.

Check it all out if you like. I am not discussing exactly what I am writing, but, sad to say, it is not The Abysmal Dollhouse. That is a major editing re-write that I’m taking a few steps back from. It’s a bigger job than I initially thought: to take the individual pieces and novelize them.

UGH!

If you enjoyed AD, I think you’ll enjoy the new WIP.

I’ll be silent here for the rest of November. For those who celebrate Thanksgiving, go celebrate.

Celebrate anything that warms the cockles of your heart. Fight for your right…to PARTAY!

Don’t drink and drive.

KingCon: Haverstraw Library’s annual comic convention! Saturday, August 3

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I have been honored to be a panelist at a

Modern Speculative Writing Program!!!

Speculative Fiction is a genre of fiction that encompasses works in which the setting is other than the real world, involving supernatural, futuristic, or other imagined elements. It includes Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Magic Realism, and so much more. Speculative fiction writing takes the imagination as far as it can go, and then some.

Located in beautiful Rockland County (less than an hour northwest of NYC), the Haverstraw King’s Daughter’s Public Library is holding their annual comic convention, KingCon. Yes, the pun fits.

Taylor Voght, author and MFA at Manhattanville College, will be our moderator as we delve into what makes Speculative Writing so attractive, contemplate the nature of sequential narration, and share what inspires us to write as we do.  Sitting beside me will be noted authors and editors Michelle Levy and Gerrit Overeem.

This is Haverstraw’s SDCC and NYCC, just without the mile-long lines!!

I hope you can make it. If so, stop by after the panel and say ‘Hi!’

SATURDAY, AUGUST 3, 2019: KingCon!!

Haverstraw King’s Daughters Public Library
10 W. Ramapo Road
Garnerville, NY 10923

Modern Speculative Writing

1 pm – 1:30 pm, Community Room
For all ages. Speculative fiction requires using your imagination to create entirely new worlds, and it has never been more popular! In this panel, learn from science fiction and fantasy authors Taylor Vogt, Stuart Nager, Michelle Levy, and Gerrit Overeem on how to write your own speculative fiction novel. All attendees will leave with the tools to write their own story!

KingCon2019EventsFlyer

Forgotten Way (Part One)

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Forgotten Way

Part One

A dark, dirt road that led upwards, vanishing into untamed bramble, caught my eye as a Ford F-150 screeched to a stop. My chest tightened in a quick, sharp snap, the thought of being T-boned by that monster coming too close to reality. I remembered to breathe, not realizing I had stopped, as my foot pressed the accelerator down. A sign darted by as I sped along, naming the road.

Forgotten Way.

As I drove down Route 9, I found my concentration waver: I wasn’t sure at the moment if it was the near miss of the truck or the near miss of that road. My hands grew clammy, and a buildup of saliva sent me into a small coughing fit as I choked upon swallowing it.

A mile passed in less than a minute. It was a good thing there were no police on the road at the time.

Once I reached my destination, other things took my attention: Kelly, the woman I came to meet, beat me to the picnic grounds. She was waiting by her car. Her purple summer dress clung to her, which drew my eyes at first. The tilt of her head and her half smile brought me closer. “Men,” she said, her smile broadening until it disappeared with the kiss that she laid on me. We stood like that until a woman walking by harrumphed us. Our foreheads met as our lips parted. Eyes closed, I began to smile, but lost it as a stray thought hit me.

Forgotten Way.

She could feel me tense, asking me what just happened. I laughed it off, blaming it on the “harumpher” and her puritanical ways. That got a small smack on my upper arm, another kiss, this one a peck, and we broke apart to get the food she had brought and the blanket and wine I had in my car. Hand in hand, we left the parking lot and traveled into the park for the night’s entertainment.

The music was wonderful, the company more so. We had decided earlier that we’d end our evening here instead of going to one of our places for the night. She was leaving extra early on a business trip the next morning and made the time and effort to at least spend this time with me, for us. I agreed, reluctantly, saying I also had tons to do the next day and also had an early start.

I didn’t, and I’m pretty sure she knew I was fabricating it all. She let it lie, and I appreciated it. Nothing was going on, and nothing had been going on for way too long until she had entered my life. The last thing I wanted to do was to blow it this early in what I hoped would be a relationship.

Stowing away the blanket and picnic ware, we leaned against her car in a Goodnight kiss. She was beginning to waver in her decision to go home alone: I was long past wavering, having mentally abandoned that choice after our first kiss that evening. But, again, I didn’t want to blow things. You know when you can tell there is something really special about the other? She was it, for me, and while I pressed a little bit, I rode evening out as planned.

Her biting my lip with our last kiss did not help in that decision.

She took off first. I idled a little, thinking, adjusting myself, and turned on the car stereo system. Static filled the cabin, and I had to tune around to find something I wanted to hear. At that point, the night’s music was enough in my head, so I turned off the system, put the car in reverse, and almost hit the walking “harumpher” who was passing right behind me.

She screeched, and a stream of well laid curses and obscenities spewed forth. My heart did a quick skip: for that moment, I was back with the almost T-bone, back at Forgotten Way. Then reality hit me as she smacked her hand on the trunk of my car and shambled off. I left the grounds without any further incident and made my way back along Route 9.

A twenty-four-hour gas station/mini-mart was my first destination. I needed the facilities, and a snack would be welcome. The kid at the counter was a familiar face. I’d stopped here a couple of times in the past month, ever since Kelly and I had met cute. He said, “howdy,” I said, “hi,” and he scanned my snack and soda.

Outside, a semi whooshed by, tooting its air horn, and it brought me back to earlier in the evening. I asked the kid about Forgotten Way. It wasn’t that far down the road from the station. He looked at me, bagged my loot, scratched at a pimple on his nose, and shrugged.

“Never heard of it,” he finally answered.

There was nothing to push with the teen. I thanked him and left the mart. Getting in my car, I felt that tightness in my chest again. Taking a swig of my soda, and then popping open the bag of chips and munching a few, did nothing to alleviate the pressure inside of me. Turning the car over, I sat.

There were two ways to get out of the area, the quickest being the road I was already on. I debated for a few moments, feeling silly in the end over my indecision. Part of me wanted to call Kelly, or head over and “surprise” her, but I didn’t.

Checking behind me very carefully-I wasn’t sure The Harumpher wouldn’t have been waiting for me-I backed out of the spot, came to the exit of the lot, and turned right onto Route 9. Towards home. Towards Forgotten Way.

I should have gone the other way home.

 

To be continued

 

 

Withering Heights

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WITHERING HEIGHTS

The dawn broke in a ribbon of grays and burnt reds as Cathy stood upon the cliff, her gaze fixed on the distance, obscured by the haze of the morning refractive light. She pulled her off-white shawl tight over her shoulders, then cinched her leather tooled belt to the gasping point in an attempt to ward off the chill of the lingering night air. A shiver ran through her chest, startling her eyes to a downward glance, her teeth ground tight to prevent their chattering. A sob tried to escape, but, firmly lodged, it choked her to silence.

“It’s me. Cathy,” she whispered, near inaudible.

Far below, the sea foamed, crashing up and against the abstract of rocks jutting out of the waters. Cathy found herself taking a step back, then another. Wind whipped up with force, hitting her so that her hair became unbound, freed as if from a practiced hand. Her auburn strands danced out, up, and around, swaddling her freckled face, her eyesight obscured.

Wind and hair subsided as fast as it had thrashed up. She let her tresses lay where they fell, clenching her shawl even tighter in her too white fingers. Cathy allowed free passage of the wetness flowing down, past her nose, cheeks, and chin. Her right hand wanted to wipe them away, but it remained where it was in the folds of the once warm fabric.  She knew she was not now alone on the crags.

He was behind her. She felt he always was.

“Cathy.”

Her name drifted over the mist that surrounded her, syllables riding between the dew drops in the moving air.

“Cathy.”

Her fleshed crawled with hundreds of raised bumps, ones never derived from any goose that shat upon God’s green pastures.

“Cathy,” and her heart skipped a beat, and then another. Her eyes closed against her will, lips parting, a web of saliva breaking as the distance grew. “Cathy,” and the voice implored her, begged, rose to a controlling pitch.

“Cathy. Call me. Say my name.”

She mouthed his name without a sound.

“Please,” seeped at her back, closer than it had ever been before. “Call my name.”

Cathy tried, but, in shaking, breathless, she did as he asked.

“Cthulhu.”

“Again,” he cajoled.

“Cthulhu!”; wrung out with tears.

“Now, Cathy, Now!”

Her voice cracked, merged with the violence of the waves from below and the returned force of the winds:

“Cthulhu!

Cthulhu!

Cthulhu!”;

And she fell onto the damp moss that had lied about her feet. It cradled her body, her clothing absorbing the moisture, her shawl laden with a mixture of this water from the morn and her streaming teary emissions.

Cathy locked her arms around herself, deep within the folds of her wear. Her knees drew themselves inwards, her chin burrowed into her chest, and the reddish hue of her hair hid her face, creating a darknet around her white, white skin.

A tentacled appendage glided gently under her still form, followed by another as the first gained a secure hold. Then another, and still another, until Cthulhu’s embrace cocooned Cathy. Lifting her into the air, Cthulhu’s face burrowed into her hair. He drew his arms around her, then.

Cathy smelled the salty brine of him. Licking her lips, her tongue swirled the sea waters from below that mixed with the tang of other dimensions, repellant and inviting.
She drew them in, letting this fill her throat in a trickle of infusion.

“It is time, Cathy,” Cthulhu purred. It was what she had come here, on this cliff, on this jagged height, to hear. She gave herself over, open to the void Cthulhu offered, his expanse, his otherness.

“Come,” he said.

“Yes,” she answered. “Yes.”

The waves crashed against, and consumed, the empty precipice.
*************************************************************************

Author’s Note:

A prompt was given at one of the writing groups I attend. In the space of 45 minutes:

“Write a story where you place a fictional character in the WRONG story.”

So, Withering Heights. Who is in the wrong story, or, is this the right story for the wrong reasons?

Obviously, well, to me, anyway, I drew on several literary reference points, as well as one literary musical place, for inspiration.  Care to break them down in the comments section?

Hope you enjoyed. BTW: this is my very first attempt at Gothic Romance/Horror. Yes? No? Maybe so? Let me know.