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Take Care: A Tale of the Abysmal Dollhouse

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Wheelchair

 

The storm clouds had moved along with the wind, leaving behind a still, grey day. The heavy downpour had come down on a slant, washing the dusty windows of shop. The glass glistened as the headlights of passing cars fractured off the puddles, the brief flashing of light creating a strobe effect on the items on display. Dollhouses littered the shelving: Victorian, Tudor, Colonial, Craftsman, and an Abbey. All stood at a slant, showing the open side, the rooms, staircases, floors. The placement also allowed the outside features to shine, the gables, balconies, bay windows, and wrap-around porches, adorned with miniature plants, rocking chairs, and welcome mats.

The bright reflective bursts caught the eye of Mark, who was passing by, but at a slow steady pace. His head had been turned to the ground, hands in his pants pockets, shoulders taught. The light drew his eye to the display, and his feet followed. He studied each house, taking in the details, admiring the color scheme of some, others the aesthetic beauty of the architecture. Mark’s wandering eyes and feet led him to the door to the shop. It was a plain glass door, wooden frame, with nothing to announce the name of the place of business. He found his hand reaching for the door handle, but he really couldn’t figure out why.

Behind the glass, behind the dollhouses, The Shopkeeper had been watching Mark as he viewed her safe houses, appraising him, the way he observed, his slow steady examination of her wares. She checked the dark corners of the shoppe and let out a wistful sigh. Some of the houses hungered, and she wished them appeasement, yet this man was not for them. The Shopkeeper shushed them before Mark had completed turning the door handle and entered, the action causing the hanging doorbell to sound.

The Shopkeeper took in his appearance, which through the window gave him a yellow/sepia hue. Inside, things did not change all that drastically. While he took a few steps in, looking around, she observed his color choices were dull, and his clothing, while well kept, was far from being stylish. He looked lived in and comfortable in what he wore, but his body language suggested more.

“May I help you?”, she asked.

Mark looked up from the Carriage House he was staring at. “No, thank you. I…I’m just looking, I guess.” He paused, his shoulders frowning, turning his head to the left, away from the Shopkeeper. “I’m not even sure why I came in. Dollhouses,” he swept his arms, palms up, around the room, “are not really an interest of mine. My ex was into it, and my daughter. Mom, too.” Mark shrugged his shoulders. “Sorry. Not sure why I’m telling you any of this. Is it OK if I just look around?”

The Shopkeeper nodded, picking up her duster, for there was always dust in the shop. The flakes swirled in the sun beams as they slanted through the windows. Today, they weren’t visible…until it settled down on top of the many surfaces. Mark brought in his own dust trail, and he was leaving it around the shop as he went from dollhouse to dollhouse. She followed him out of the corner of her eyes, marking where she had to concentrate on dusting, later.

She heard him stop walking. His shoes had been making a tap tap tapping as he walked; when he stood still to look, and he bent down, the shoes gave a little squeak, adjusting to the new stance. This time, it was a full stop. No noise from his shoes. No “hmmm” or “huh?” or just regular breathing. Stillness. The Shopkeeper turned and looked at Mark.

He was frozen in front of a traditional style dollhouse. Two floors, an attic with dormer, wide porch, shutters on the windows, wood detailing, the front door with two windows on either side and five windows on top, with the middle window directly above the door. The house in pristine white paint. Mark was staring hard. He gasped for air, realizing he had been holding his breath.

Turning the house around, he let out another slight gasp. “My house. This…is my house.” He stood up, looked around, found The Shopkeeper. “How? This is my house.”

The Shopkeeper walked over to stand by his side. He followed her as she bent down to look inside the house, adjusting it so they faced it squarely on. Mark began to point out some of the details to her. The layout was the same. The decor, the same:  paneling in the dining room, the soft blue scalloped floral pattern wallpaper that ran from the front door to the kitchen, up the stairway to the halls on the second floor, the wood floors with it’s various rugs and runners. The tables, chairs, sofa: same as it ever was.

Mark forced himself to look at the bedrooms, the ones on the second floor, and the den that had been converted to one on the first floor. He reached into his room, stopping to look at The Shopkeeper, waiting for permission. She stood, did a light dusting sweep of the houses’ roof, and moved back to the front of the shop. Mark bent back down and touched the bed. It felt soft and inviting.

His eyes and hands traversed through each room, taking in the memories each invoked. The kids room, converted from the guest room after his divorce, was as they had left it after they both stopped coming, college then marriages, ending their obligations to be there, to be with him weekly. His parent’s bedroom, full of his mothers’ things, which she valued above anything else most of the time. The walk-in closet crammed with her clothing, shoes, pocketbooks, hats. Her cane leaning against the nightstand.

Mark kept his eye on the cane for a short while. He started to reach in but stopped, closing his eyes, his right hand locked just outside of the room. He breathed in deeply, letting the air escape slowly. Three times. Opening his eyes, he moved his arm.

Piece by piece, Mark removed items from her room, placing them down on the side of the dollhouse shelf. The dressers, the rocking chair, foot stool, pictures hanging on the walls, the bed, night table, the cane. He emptied the closet of all the clothing, making neat piles on the shelf next to the furniture. He was looking at an empty room, save for the wallpaper she loved. Mark stripped that off carefully, leaving the white walls underneath without blemish as best he could.

The kids bedroom was next. It was easier to strip away everything in there, things that would never be used again. Removing everything on the second floor, leaving his room alone. Marks’ excavation, of digging down to the basis of the home, continued downstairs. He methodically removed the items and decor from the living room, foyers, kitchen.

The bedroom nee den stopped Mark dead in his tracks. His eyes got blurry, wet, forcing him to wipe at his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt. Leaning against the back wall was another cane, next to a walker, next to a wheelchair, next to an oxygen tank. The hospital bed was in the center of the room, which had been denuded, sterilized down to it’s bare bones.

Mark knelt on the floor, slightly rocking back and forth on his heels.  “Sorry, Dad,” he whispered, as he cleansed the room as he had done with the others. When he finally took the hospital bed out of the room, he held it up, examined it, had trouble putting it down, but he eventually did.

While this last task was going on, he had faintly heard The Shopkeeper moving around him. Looking down once the room was emptied, he noticed that all of the familial life pieces had been removed. In their place was new furniture, the stuff one fills a house and makes it a home. Mark wasn’t too surprised to see that it all was in his tastes, design and color.

He filled up the house quickly. Mark moved his things into his parents’ room, adding a few new things that he found left for him. The kids room was returned to guest room status, and he transformed his own room into a second. He moved to the first floor, laying down wall to wall carpeting, then bringing in the chairs, tables, sofa, big comfy chairs with big comfy pillows, large screen TV and fixings.

Mark took his time when it came to refurbish the bottom bedroom back into a den. Executive office chair, desk, computer, stuffed full bookcases and shelving. It was comfortable, and he finally relaxed.

The doorbell rang. Mark got up from the padded chair, walking towards it in his socks only, not wanting to mar the new carpeting. As he got closer to the door, he noticed a familiar face peering in through the left side window at the door. Mark stopped short. He hadn’t seen her in years, lost touch with her, missed her all this time.

He reached out and opened the door.

“Donna.”

She smiled at him, bottom teeth still slightly crooked, head tilted to her right, eyes shining. She had on the red dress and white stockings with red hearts on them, the same as she wore that one Valentines Day.

“Are you going to invite me in?,” she asked.

Mark did, watched her walk a few steps down the hall and into the living room.

“I really like what you did with the place,” she said, whirling around. “Feels like home.”

Mark smiled deeply and went to join her.

The Shopkeeper turned the dollhouse around, the front facade facing out towards the aisle. She gave them the privacy they both deserved.

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Author’s Note:

I haven’t written a “The Abysmal Dollhouse” tale in quite awhile. It has been a favorite of mine of the different story line themes that I’ve come back to explore. If you’re new to these tales, here are two links to check out:

What We Hold Onto

The Abysmal Dollhouse: Collected (sort of)

I hope you enjoy them. When I can force myself to write, I still feel there is more to tell.

Let me know what you think.

Stuck in L

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My love life has been surrounded by women whose names started with the letter L. Yes, there have been other alphabetical choices, but L’s seem to prevail. There’s been Lynette, Leslie, Laura, Lucy, Lisa, Lori, Lindsey, Linda, and even a Lola. I know I’m a man; Lola wasn’t. Boy, she wasn’t. I’m sure there were a few others who I’ve simply forgotten, but in the end, I’ve had my fair share of L. No matter. None of them ever prepared me for Lili. I can’t even begin…well, not true. How do I skirt around a cliche? My life has never been the same since I met Lili.

I was on my bike, a Yamaha YZF-R6 that I called Yaz, going home after an uninspired date. Not an L, that I know. It was two in the morning, and the Merritt Parkway was almost car free. I was going fast, keeping an eye out for speed traps; I knew where most of them were, traveling this road so often in my life. It was cop free that night. Connecticut sleeps, unlike New York. I revved Yaz up to the century mark. We whizzed along the road, passing trees and the few cars on the parkway. This more than made up for a so so date.

Until I noticed headlights in my mirror that were getting closer. Thinking COP, I slowed down, knowing it would not be enough to avoid a ticket. But, no flashing lights. No megaphone voice telling me to pull over. The lights were catching up to me, low to the ground, and then it passed me on the left. As it pulled ahead I noticed a very quick two blinks of the brake lights. The car sped ahead, slowed a bit, two quick bursts of brake lights, then speeding on. I took the hint.

We played taking lead, overpowering the other, back and forth, for miles. The car was in the lead when a new light appeared, the right blinker. The last gas station/rest area was coming up, the one that’s just before the NYS border. I clutched and braked Yaz down and followed the car to the parking area.

It pulled into the spot furthest away from the station/mini mart. I parked right next to the car I’d been having fun with, giving out a little happy gasp as I took my helmet off. Didn’t need one in CT, but I was heading to NY. The car was gorgeous: a bright yellow Lotus Evora 400. A car I’ve been drooling over. Well, one of them. We were at too high a speed for me to notice anything really more than the color, but now…

But now the driver door opened. The gasp I had for the car was amplified by the woman that stepped out. Long black hair ran down and over her shoulders was the first thing I noticed. Then the smile. It radiated a lot of things; well, in my mind, and other parts, it did. She was wearing sunglasses (2:00 am, remember) that only accented how beautiful she was, eyes or not. Black buttoned down shirt was equally unbuttoned as buttoned, and painted on looking black jeans. Boots. Goth to the extreme, but she wore it better than well.

She leaned against her car and beckoned me over. Beckoned. I’d never been beckoned like this before. We exchanged names, admired each other’s driving, me admiring a whole lot more. Lili? I’m not a mind reader, but if you judge by where we went from there, she was doing the same. Talking turned to kissing, kissing turned to other things. We were both sweaty and smiling when Lili got a serious angry face going.

“Davey, this has been lovely, but you need to get out of here. Now.”

Rude shock, but there was something in her voice that was more urgent than anything else. I backed away, adjusting my clothing, trying to adjust the very mixed feelings I was having.

“Now, Davey. Now!”

Helmet in hand, I watched her as she opened her car door. That was as far as she got before a really terrifying animal growl sounded. That was followed by the biggest, meanest looking dog I’d ever seen. Then, another one. They came out of the wooded area behind the station and lopped rather quickly towards us. I wasn’t watching Lili at the moment as one of those things came towards me.

It leapt over the Lili’s car and came right at me. Only thing I could think of was hitting it in the head with my helmet. A quick not-even-a-yelp came out, and then a very angry snarl was directed at me as it landed behind me. I was at a loss as to what to do. Bike was off and cold, I had no weapons beyond my helmet. I turned slightly to see what was happening with Lili.

What was more surprising? These two beasts coming at us, or seeing Lili holding off the one, her hands on both parts of its jaws, pulling them further and further apart. Just as I heard a squeal coming from her beast, mine decided I was game, fair or not.

The blow to my back knocked me down and almost out. I rolled over onto my back and shoved my helmet into it’s maw as it came for my face. Believe me, having a death grip on that helmet saved my lift. Jamming the piece further into the mutts’ mouth, I did the only thing I could think of: try to Mountain it.

Just saw the episode of Game of Thrones where the Mountain killed his opponent by squeezing a guys head real hard, pushing his thumbs into the eyes. Gore and victory ensured on the show, so…why not? Reaching up while the thing continued to chomp down on my helmet, I started to push as hard as I could once I had my hands in the right position.

It wasn’t easy, by no stretch of the imagination. I was hurting the thing, but I wasn’t winning. Victory was definitely not ensured. I head the helmet crack, gave a big prayer, dug in harder…and then poof.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Except, Lili was standing over me, holding a very wicked looking knife like thing that glittered. She held out her hand and helped me up. Lili gave me a once over, running her hands over me, kinda like she had before the attack, but in no way sensual. I felt OK after that, but also weak once the adrenaline rush wore off. I was just about to ask her what was going on, when another growly voice sounded, this one not from an animal.

“Mother, congratulations.” Which did not sound congratulatory in the least.

“Buzz off, B,” Lili said, still checking me out. “I’m very, very sick and tired of this game you insist on playing”

“It’s not a game, Mother, and you know that. One day, and soon, you will pay for your insults.”

Lili just smiled, waved her hand in the air above her floating hair. Yes, floating hair. No wind. Floating. But it fell down, cascading over her shoulders again. I could sense that whatever had been there wasn’t here now.

Before I could ask any “What? Huh? Who? What?”, Lili put her hand on my chest and closed her eyes. I felt a bit of a tremble inside, something clicked, and, well, things were different.

Lili got into her Lotus; I got onto my Yamaha. She pulled out of the lot, and I followed her. As I continue to do.

This was how I met and became involved with Lili.

Lilith.

Mother of Demons.

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Author’s Note:

So, hi. A to Z Blog challenge is over two weeks ago. I needed a bit of a mental break. I kept getting messages to write more, continue more Rovas & Berrak, but…not right now.

I plan to do a bit more with Lili and Davey. Let me know what you think

Zenith of All Things (A to Z Blog Challenge)

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**To start from the very beginning: From the Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

**To read the first parts of this story line:  X-Folders and Yesterday’s Sorrows

Zenith

“Zenith of All Things”

The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

Khazarian Rovas, ex police Inspector, awoke in the hospital with a splitting headache, woozy and disoriented for a moment. Knowing only he was laying down, Rovas raised his head. Bad move, as more pain shot through his head. Putting his head back down was almost as painful as when he raised it. The room was dark, the only light in the room was either emanating from the machinery near his head or seeping in from outside his room. Looking the other way he saw Berrak, sleeping, in a chair.

He coughed when he tried to call her name. She woke and immediately came to his side.

“Hi,” she said, running a hand through his hair on the left side. She saw him wince and moved her hand. “Would you like some water?”

Zarian nodded. He sipped some, started coughing again, drank some more. Berrak put it down and moved the chair closer. She left the room only to return with a nurse a few moments later. Berrak refused to leave as the nurse brought in her cart and  turned on all the lights. She took all his vitals down, entered everything into her computer, and asked her questions. She didn’t stay any longer than she had to, which suited both Zarian and Berrak.

Berrak walked over to the light switches, turning all but the light by the bathroom off. Closing the door, she sat down and took Zarian’s hand.

“Obviously I got hurt, but I don’t remember how.”

“What do you remember?”

“Peters had a knife up to one of the children’s throat. He nicked her with it. Is she all right?”

“Yes she is. They all are,” she squeezed his hand.

“Good. Peters put down his knife, picked up his rifle, and aimed it at me. He lost seconds when he tossed…”

“Aemilie. She’s 13.”

“He tossed Aemilie away and brought the rifle up. He knew the recoil: one handed and nothing to brace with, he’d have little to no chance. As it is, he got off two shots before I beaned him.

I had that moment between the tossing the girl and his training his sites on me to barely dodge the first bullet. As I went down I reached for a fairly hefty crystal candy dish…could I have some more water?”

Berrak brought the straw to his lips. He motioned it away after a few sips.

“I tossed the dish as hard as I could. It hit him in the chest with a satisfying thud. Peters staggered. I got to him as fast as I could, going for his knife. I turned…I turned…dammit, I don’t know what happened next.”

“I do, Zarian. The mother, Mrs. Frasier, told us what happened. She was cringing on the couch, trying to protect her children with her body, but she saw you throw her dish at Peters. Mrs. Frasier -Caroline- said as you grabbed the knife and turned, Peters fired one more time. He…clipped you on the side of the head, there.”

“Ah, that’s why the pain there.”

“Yes. It was a nasty looking wound. I thought you were dead when the police let me in. So much blood.” Berrak stopped, took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

“And…?”

“And you fell, knife in both hands. You fell down on Peters, driving the knife into his chest. The police found you on top of him, blood all over the floor. Yes, before you ask, he’s dead.”

She brought his hand up to her lips and kissed it. He moved it out of her grip and cupped her face, sliding his thumb over her chin, her mouth.

“It’s over, Berrak. I wished he could have stood trial and rotted in jail, but…it’s over.”

She nodded, closing her eyes as his hand cupped her cheek.

She stayed all night by his side.

*****

EPILOGUE

Many hospital visitors later, they both returned home. Gil and Jill had organized a small “Welcome Home” party. Rovas was not a fan of surprise parties, but this one he tolerated with grace. Jill had brought Sara, her daughter. Tina, who had nicely recovered from her ordeal with Peters, brought a date.  Chief Inspector Oliver Dole was there, with his wife, as well as other friends from the force. Even Maggie and Pearl, who kept refusing the people food the others tried to slip her. Maggie allowed Pearl her treats. He was content with this crowd, but then the doorbell rang one more time.

The Palmonts arrived, all three children in tow. Berrak had gone to the door, ushered them in, and called Rovas over. They gathered around him, the parents shaking his hand. He got hugs from both Janice and April. The three of them shared some tears; the girls hugged Berrak as well, then went into the living room: they had noticed Sara.

Rovas’s arm was tugged on. It was Gerald. He beckoned to him with his finger. Rovas stooped down a little. Gerald went close to his ear, saying, almost in a whisper:”Thank you for stopping…him.” Rovas got another hug. He returned this just as fiercely.

Rovas sat on the couch, a cup of perfect coffee in his hand, made by Berrak, of course. Dole came over. He was congratulating and chastising him in the same breath, until his wife smacked him on the arm and made him promise to behave. This brought a round of laughs from all, more so from those who worked with him daily. Rovas was glad, later, that he kept to his promise.

Gil, with Jill in hand, came over and sat with Rovas. Berrak was talking with Tina and her plus one, Samuel. They went over to join Zarian.

As they sat, Gil hit himself in the head, smiling. “Oh, I can’t believe I didn’t…well, yes I can. It’s not like nothing else has been happening.”

“What, Gil?” asked Rovas.

Gil turned and looked at Tina. “I think we’ve found the man who killed…um…your friends,” he said, pointedly not looking at Samuel.

“He knows, Gil.” She took Samuel’s’ hands in hers. “Go on.”

“Well, while Inspector…um…Zarian,” he changed after a look from Rovas. “While he was recuperating, one of my inquiries into this Vic character came to my desk. In one of the books we found from the…woman of the house…there were numerous booking for a VG. So, I started searches for anyone named Vic or Victor with a surname starting with G. I finally got a hit, and I think it’s him. It took long enough, but…”

“And…?” Berrak asked, pushing Gil along.

“If this is the guy, his name is Victor Gilbride. I found him in the mental ward. Scarily, he was in the same high level ward that Peters had escaped from.” Gil shook his head.

“Victor had been in another…house…when he was arrested. He was with two girls and got rough with them. He left teeth marks, pretty bad ones, on one of the girls. They screamed, he was getting more violent, the madame threw the door open and tassed him.”

“Good for her. I wish Lily had one.”

“Yes, well, once he was in police custody, Victor went a little bat crazy.”

Everyone groaned.

“Yes, well…when they searched his home, they found more equipment like was left at the scene of the murders. Victor didn’t confess so much as relished his telling of why he did such a disgusting thing.”

“Gil, he drank the blood?” Rovas asked.

“Yes, and he got good and sick from it. Victor really thought he was a vampire- wait, I know, but according to the docs this is a syndrome. He was planning to do it again, he said. His biting was a kind of foreplay for him. The madame said she knew he did it, but it had been more restrained before that night.”

“Oh. Oh…wow. I just…I’m not really sure how I feel, Gil. Thank you.” Tina got up, nudged Jill slightly, and gave Gil a hug. She went back to sit by Samuel. “He’s not on the streets. Wow.”

They all smiled and relaxed.

The evening wound up early. Everyone knew Zarian needed his rest. They didn’t linger very long. He got many hugs and pats on the back, and some kisses on the cheek from Jill, Tina, and Janice, the oldest of the Palmont girls. Gerald stood in the doorway, looked him in the eye, and waved. Rovas waved back.

Alone, the two settled on their couch.

“I will clean up tomorrow, Zarian. I’m tired, and I know you are as well. It’s in your eyes.” She leaned her head on his shoulder. “All this horror is done with, now. I think I could sleep for a week.”

Zarian stroked her hair, closing his eyes, relaxing with her on the couch.

“Come,” she said after waking up from dozing off. “Bed time, for both of us.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too. Let’s go up.”

He took her hand as they both levered themselves off the couch. She turned off the light in the room and made their way to the stairs. Rovas stopped for a moment, looking into his darkened study, out the window.

Rovas noticed a silhouette of a man briskly walking away from their house, down the street, hands in his pockets, head cast down, fading down the street horizon.

He smiled, looked at Berrak, and headed upstairs for some much needed sleep.

The End

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Well, that’s it…for now? I’m not sure if I’ll return to this or not. There are a few other story lines I like (Devil’s Diary; The Kitsune Mochi; The Abysmal Dollhouse) that I’d like to re-explore, as well as an idea for a novel that has been floating around the vast emptiness of my mind, one that sets foot in the urban paranormal vein. I need a couple of days off of just vegging. Then…we’ll see.

I’m supposed to have a Reflection Post up sometime in May, say the Masters of the A to Z. I will get to that, and announce the date as soon as I firm it down.
There is still plenty of time to check out blogs from the A to Z Blog Challenge. Click on the banner below. It will take you to their home page. Or, click HERE to go to the A to Z Challenge list.

As to the Blogging from A to Z challenge, I’ll let the words of Arlee Bird (founder of said challenge) tell you what this is all about:

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 4 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends.

Thank you for coming by. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series, mistakes and all. As I said awhile back, I consider this my “First Draft”, which kinda sorta means I might pull this out and rework it a bit down the road.

Anyone want to be my editor? Beta Reader? Cannoli maker?

Comments, likes, and outpouring of love and gratitude is always welcome.  🙂

 

Tears (by Roman Nager)

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Tear

There are tears of joy
and tears of laughter.
Tears of dread
for the morning after.

There are tears of pain
and tears of fear.
Tears of mourning
for someone dear.
There are tears of woe
and tears of sorrow.
Fears of longing
for a better tomorrow.

There are tears of regret
and tears of passion.
But the more precious tears
are those of compassion.

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My father, Roman Raymond Nager, wrote poems and stories. 
Sadly, for whatever reason, he tore up many of them.
I was going through more papers of my parents, discarding most, saving some.
I found this poem of his today. 
I remember reading it, years ago, when he shared it with me. 
I thought I'd share it with you.

Arrangements

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arrangements

We used to think differently. That was beaten out of us.

Listen…

The notes played, flowing along the aural pathways. Twenty-nine Beats headphones plugged in, the varying colors echoing the twenty-nine varying mindsets. Eyes closed, some feet tapping along, some adding percussive finger drumsticks, some rocking, some swaying, others sitting still. One had to remind herself to breathe a couple of times.

When the last of the notes trailed off, with a slight reverb, heavy on the base line, the twenty-nine opened their eyes. There was a quiet expectation amongst them, knowing what was expected. They picked up their stylus’s and turned their attention to their tablet screens,

Some began immediately, taking apart the score in their heads as they listened to it. Others had to sit and ruminate over the chord structure, the rests, the tempo, and decide what would be acceptable to change.

Only one put the stylus down and flipped the music on again: the one who had to remind herself to breathe. She closed her eyes and let her hands drift up and down, tracing the patterns, the highs, the lows, the fervor. Most ignored her; those closest to her gritted their teeth, forcing themselves to focus, used to her behavior.

The day passed. Some of the twenty-nine gave up, tears streaming or fists clashing on the door frame as the exited the room. Others, sweat drenched, struggled along, searching for the key to breaking down the music into symbols, and creating something different from the foundation. They, too, gave up, one by one.

The one who had to remind herself to breathe, the one who listened again and again, conducting the empty space in front of her, was not one of those who left. By the time evening fell she had worked non-stop, erasing whole passages, coming at her composition from one angle, only to pick up a phrase that would cause her to rethink all she had done.  She did this into the early hours of the next day.

The moderator, who had left at midnight, came into the room at eight a.m., noticing that only five of the twenty-nine were left. He plugged in at each station and listened to what they had done. He neither smiled nor frowned at any piece, just closed his eyes, taking in what was accomplished, and then dismissed each .with a sharp wave of his left hand.

The four stood by the door, silent, watching as the moderator plug in, all waiting with their own bated breath. He listened as he had with the others, yet there was something different in his manner. His composure changed, head starting to tilt up, his right hand rising to the headphones, taking them off, as his left hand pulled out the plug.

Her arrangement enveloped the room, the speakers deftly picking up the nuances, the changes in tempo, the soaring heights and depths re-imagined. All in the room listened, the others enraptured, the moderator still as stone, and the arranger lost in her crafting.

The moderator opened his eyes, fixed them on her, and with a nod of his head towards the door, he left with her following.

She was expelled later that morning. Nothing officially was said about the why, or where she went. We were discouraged to talk about her, but the four who had stayed behind quietly passed around what they heard  in the hall, the sublime composition, the emotional contact and harmonics. In one fell swoop, these four were also expelled unexpectedly.

We were not allowed to discuss what had happened; fear of harsh reprisal prevented this. The music program was overhauled, and the next time we came together, we twenty-four, we listened to the music played for us again.

We didn’t change a thing.

Après moi, le déluge

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It began, or rather, ended, with an email. A “Dear John” squeezing of his heart, rendering him into a lumpish mass, slumped over the steering wheel of his car. Hugh had just pulled up to his office, parked, took out his cell, and read the words that left him in pain.

Not a good start to the day,

Looking at the front door of the building, watching others stride, slink or glide in, Hugh was ignored. It was a state of being he had grown accustomed to. Finally, realizing he had not turned the car off, Hugh killed the engine. It clanked to a halt. Hugh and the car were frozen in silence, frozen in movement. Hugh heaved himself out of the car after a few minutes, the cold weather of a long winter hitting him. Before he shut the door, he reached back in, turning off the knob to the heater like she always had reminded him to do. Cursing silently, Hugh backed out of the car, clicked the locks, and slammed the door, wincing at the sound.

His sweater and parka had gotten bunched up on his ride into work. He pulled both down, adjusting one thing after another, standing facing his car, staring at nothing of any real notice. It wasn’t until his breath hurt from the cold did he decide to go indoors.

The day was as horrible as Hugh thought it would be as he trudged inside.  The morning’s message was not something he could really separate from the day. He carried these dismissive words in his entire being, and others saw it in the way Hugh walked slumped over, talked in a low volume monotone. When someone would catch his eyes, they saw liquid glistening, brimming just above the lashes.

Yield (SIGNS: #AtoZChallenge)

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YieldWhat they had on their table was the bounty from their small garden. It was just enough for the two of them.

Helen took a red tomato, biting into it. She closed her eyes and smiled as she chewed, letting out a small “mmmmm”, throaty, deep.

Jim watched her, noticing red juice drip out of the corner of her mouth; Helen’s tongue reaching out to lap it up as it started to wander down. He reached for her hand, pulled it close, and took a healthy bite of the fruit as well.

They shared the tomato to the last bite.

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For the April 2014 A to Z Blog Challenge, you will find a story a day (except Sundays) from me. A to Z: Staring with A on Tuesday, April 1st and ending with Z on Wednesday, April 30th.

Signs is my theme for this year’s outing. Road signs, building signs, warning signs…Signs alert us to a multitude of messages. My plan is to use the alphabet through Signage, but not to stick to what the sign was originally intended to convey. So, the genre of story writing, and styles, of the posts will vary as my mood and interpretation sees fit. Possibly a poem or two. We’ll see.

I’m also trying something more of a challenge: each post will be a Drabble. A Drabble is 100 Words Exactly.

Hope you enjoy the stories.

Winding Road (SIGNS: #AtoZChallenge)

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Winding RoadDave wanted to be a scientist: his first memory of wanting to be anything. He finagled his parents into getting all the science toys the local toy store carried. He made volcanoes, looked at bugs with a magnifying glass, put things on slides under his microscope. He mixed things together and took things apart.

Letting that go after the last disastrous school science fair, he tried on so many different ideas…all the time his father pushing him to work on his math, become a CPA.

Dave grew up. Had jobs. His life mixed things up. He put it all together.

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For the April 2014 A to Z Blog Challenge, you will find a story a day (except Sundays) from me. A to Z: Staring with A on Tuesday, April 1st and ending with Z on Wednesday, April 30th.

Signs is my theme for this year’s outing. Road signs, building signs, warning signs…Signs alert us to a multitude of messages. My plan is to use the alphabet through Signage, but not to stick to what the sign was originally intended to convey. So, the genre of story writing, and styles, of the posts will vary as my mood and interpretation sees fit. Possibly a poem or two. We’ll see.

I’m also trying something more of a challenge: each post will be a Drabble. A Drabble is 100 Words Exactly.

Hope you enjoy the stories.

Viewing Area (SIGNS: #AtoZChallenge)

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Viewing AreaSo, they stood behind the glass wall that reflected blues and pinks. The grandparents held each others hands, looking for their grandchild. Most were sleeping, clenched in their blankets. Some mouths were open, their noise filtered.

“Is that her?” she asked, doing her best to read the names.

“Put on your glasses, silly. No…third row, second one in.”

She did, shoulders relaxing, a smile opening, tasting the salty streak that was coming down.

Their son came up behind them. He watched the two of them for a moment, then joined them at the glass, resting his head upon it, staring.

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For the April 2014 A to Z Blog Challenge, you will find a story a day (except Sundays) from me. A to Z: Staring with A on Tuesday, April 1st and ending with Z on Wednesday, April 30th.

Signs is my theme for this year’s outing. Road signs, building signs, warning signs…Signs alert us to a multitude of messages. My plan is to use the alphabet through Signage, but not to stick to what the sign was originally intended to convey. So, the genre of story writing, and styles, of the posts will vary as my mood and interpretation sees fit. Possibly a poem or two. We’ll see.

I’m also trying something more of a challenge: each post will be a Drabble. A Drabble is 100 Words Exactly.

Hope you enjoy the stories.

Dead End (SIGNS; A to Z Challenge)

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Dead EndHaunting did not come with a manual. That had infuriated Ana after she became aware of her new “life.” It  turned to anger, which became wearisome, and then settled into a heightened state of constantly being chagrined.

Stumbling upon things: her best friend (Di) and her husband (Tim) “comforting” each other just a day after the funeral; her son, being that “mean  bastard” she had heard but never wanted to believe; friends and relatives who stopped calling Tim less than a week after she was “gone.”

This cul-de-sac needed a good haunting. Ana was determined to give it her all.

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For the April 2014 A to Z Blog Challenge, you will find a story a day (except Sundays) from me. A to Z: Staring with A on Tuesday, April 1st and ending with Z on Wednesday, April 30th.

Signs is my theme for this year’s outing. Road signs, building signs, warning signs…Signs alert us to a multitude of messages. My plan is to use the alphabet through Signage, but not to stick to what the sign was originally intended to convey. So, the genre of story writing, and styles, of the posts will vary as my mood and interpretation sees fit. Possibly a poem or two. We’ll see.

I’m also trying something more of a challenge: each post will be a Drabble. A Drabble is 100 Words Exactly.

Hope you enjoy the stories.