Through frosty path

Frosted leaves with their delicate ice buds sparkle in the brilliant wintry light, for there is no weather today, no wind, no clouds. The slippery path glistens like white quartz, and I wonder at the irony of all this beauty over everything dead. Spotting his headstone I pause, my breath rising in rapid puffs, and I have to remind myself that he is gone. “You will always be mine,” he had said, right before the day of the fatal car crash. Sadly the break wires had snapped.

I close the gap between us and then I see the rails put up beside him, around the freshly dug open grave. “O honey, you’re getting company,” I say.
The idea suddenly strikes. I step across the rails, taking out the greasy gloves I needed to dispose. Down they go.

“I told you. You will always be mine,” I hear Frank hiss behind me. Startled, my foot slips and I’m falling. My head hits something and then…


In response to Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers, 115th Challenge
Photo prompt by loniangraphics

Fontana di disperazione

Observing these statues is almost like beholding my own reflection. Beautiful objects on display that evokes awe in others but are themselves cold and dead.

There was once a young girl with beauty in her visage, dreams in her eyes and hope in her heart. A handsome prince arrived on his ivory steed, saw the exquisite girl flanked by her generous parents and immediately fell in love with her. “You are so beautiful,” he confessed, “that I cannot bear another looking upon you!” and with these words of love he locked her away in his castle. She spent her days waiting for him to return from his many tasks of great importance and her nights taking care of his many needs. When there were parties or when the generous parents visited, he dressed the girl in finery so all who saw her could marvel. How fortunate to have beauty, riches and a doting husband who takes her on exotic holidays around the world!

I wonder perhaps if someday my heart will grow so hard that I too would turn to stone. They could place me in some corner where naïve young girls will toss a coin in my direction while wishing for beauty or a good husband; and my cold unfeeling heart might whisper, “take my beauty; give me your hope.”

In Response to The Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of 14 May 2017
Photo Prompt credited to Sally-An Hodgekiss

Still Crossing

As he waited for the walk sign to turn green, a sudden glow of orange caught his eye. Sunlight reflected off of the glass façade of one of the many skyscrapers. In his youth buildings were made of brick and wood and the sun set behind them, but all these modern buildings of glass and steel, it was almost as if the sun was going to sear through their windows and rest within. He was raised a practical man, and never could understand why one would opt for all that fragile glass. Glass barely kept the sunlight out and it shattered so easily in the cyclone!

Slowly as the orange glow subsided and the interior lights grew brighter, he started making out the forms of the people inside. Men and women bent over their desk, hard at work. Men and women, moving about with rapid strides, rushing to complete tasks before the day is done. Men and women, chasing after success and wealth.

Who awaited them at home he wondered. Little children who ran up to the door when daddy got home? Teenagers sitting oblivious behind shut doors? He watched them until the lights started going out one by one. It was getting cold. He had meant to go to the store but suddenly he could not recall what he had set out to buy. God, this was happening way too often.

It’s all right, it would come back to him soon. It usually did.

END

Many thanks to Neil MacDonald for posting a very interesting Scrivener’s Forge exercise in character and world building – A man whose son has died in the war is looking at a building. Describe the building without mentioning the war, the son, or his death.

Image source Pattern image created by Evening_tao – Freepik.com

Keys

The fire had been no accident.
The entire town knew that, but they also knew the fire department would class it as one. Not to do so meant an investigation, turning up questions better left unanswered. It was far simpler to say that with all the books kept inside, it had reached the temperatures of a kiln in there, all those beautiful words being used to roast the very life out of the little house. Now all that remained were ruins that stood like an unholy skeleton in the pale morning light.

Sarah didn’t know what drew her there again, perhaps a compulsion to face her most dreaded demon, perhaps the necessity for closure, or perhaps the need to assure herself that it was truly over.

“It’s not your fault,” the councilor had repeatedly assured. Then why did she feel so dirty? Why did the sound of a piano fill her up with dread? Why could she not step into church until the choir stopped singing? And why did it not make a damn difference knowing that she was not the only one?

She honestly did not know what she expected. After years of having come for practice, her labored feet automatically led her into the room where the lessons were held. The piano stood in the same corner, keys broken and covered in soot. What had been the stool lay in a broken heap on the floor. She hit a key and a crystal clear note rang out. Startled she looked around, terrified that the sound of heavy footsteps would follow. But the house was as silent and lifeless as her heart. With unexplainable urgency she started whipping away the dirt with her shirtsleeve. Somewhere in that mess was her life, and if she could clear away the soot, maybe she would finally find the person she had been.

piano

Written for Michelle’s Photo-Fiction #87

Don’t stop the music

After months on the road the band was finally taking a break and everyone but the stage technicians had left for home; that is everyone but the lead singer, who quietly lingered on.

To him home was a cold lonely house where three people shrouded themselves in a cloak of cordiality and tiptoed around love.

It was in a room full of strangers, with the sounds blaring, and the lights searing, that he found his peace.


In response to Sonya’s Three Line Tales, Week 67 challenge for a photo prompt by Paulette Wooten.

The pickup job

The damn place is out in the middle of nowhere. I’m freezing my ass off and the old man takes ten minutes just to answer the door. The car’s obviously been in an accident, the side view mirror is hanging off, and there are dents and scratches and muck all around. “Just a little bump,” he tells me.

I always get the shittiest pickup jobs!

“Tell you what, let me finish my inspection first,” I say.

I don’t see it at first, and then suddenly I do. I step back… I stare at the seemingly oblivious old man… I turn around and puke.

There is hair in the grill, not fur… blond hair… and that muck is dried blood.

 


In response to Rochelle’s photo prompt for Friday Fictioneers of 12th May 2017

Lost in translation

A lot can be lost in translation.
Sometimes your entire identity can be lost in translation!

We Indians have a unique problem when it comes to languages – we have too many of them. The constitution of India recognises 22 languages, while according to the official census we have 122 major languages and 1599 other languages or dialects. Now you might think that having too much of a thing would undermine its importance. Nope. We are almost fanatical about our languages.
All Indians are multilingual, and I don’t say that with pride; its merely a fact.
In school I was formally taught the two official languages, English and Hindi, lets call them A and B, and the state language, lets call it X. At home I was taught the language of my ancestors, lets call that Y. Later on I shifted to state Z, where my son received his education and he therefore studied A, B, Y and Z.

Yesterday I had to fill out an official document. Obviously I filled it out in English, the language that I am most comfortable in. But then for the state’s records everything was automatically converted into the local language Z and I was asked to review and confirm.
So I trot off to my son to request him to do the needful. Anyone who has a 17 year old will understand this is tantamount to calling in a big favour, and there are only so many that we can expect in any given period.
Once the necessary ritual of looking busy, then harried, then bored, were exhausted, he finally graced me with his presence, only to burst into rude guffaws.

My dear parents have bestowed upon me a name which has a beautiful meaning in our native tongue. It takes a particular combination of English alphabets to produce the sounds that compose my name. Unfortunately language Z does not have the alphabets required to accurately produce the same effect. Add to that the software program that does an alphabet by alphabet translation from A to Z, I now stand rechristened to an altogether different name.

It is with deep anguish that I tell you – a rose by another name does not smell just as sweet!

socsbadge2016-17

In response to the Saturday Stream of Consciousness prompt – Language

Unapologetic… Unconstrained…

100WW

This is not art, this is shameless exhibitionism,” he had ranted.

How does one define art?
Does he not understand that to define art is to limit it!

Art is not what you see, it is what you feel. It speaks to your soul, is heard in the very depths of your body where it resonates with meaning. What that meaning is, is up to you. Art is everywhere and in everything. Art requires no canvas and everything is art’s canvas.
It is in the music of the winds, in the dance of the meadow, in the shimmering canvas painted by sunshine bouncing off the grass, in the swirl of the crimson flowing through her veins and the rhythm of the heart thumping in her chest.

Does he not see that art is wholly and completely selfless, and because of this, it is beautifully shamelessly and unconstrained!


In response to Bikurgurl’s 100 Word Wednesday: Week 18 challenge
Image credited to Felix Russell-Saw

Do you think they will come?

Waiting is easier for me. I read the papers and enjoy the peace. After years out at sea, the solid earth calms me. My concept of time is very different. To her a day is a long time, a week a very long time. She comes up with a million different ‘do you think…’ and expects me to respond to every one. I try to indulge her but oftentimes it’s draining.

Guilt makes me patient. I never encouraged her to take time out to live for herself. To the contrary, it was my belief that with one parent away, the children deserved the undivided focus of the other. So she did. She gave them her everything. They grew into beautiful smart confident adults.
Then they went on to live their lives.

She was left purposeless, aimless, spending the week obsessively tending to house, and the weekend obsessively waiting for them.

I watch her straighten the chairs again.

Waiting on my own is simple. Waiting with her is exhausting.


In Response to Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers, 114th Challenge
Photo Prompt by Yarnspinner

Masquerade

The excitement wired my body like I was plugged into the mains. My brain was on fast-forward and there was no off switch. What was I even doing here? An impromptu vacation to attend the Mardi Gras was not only uncharacteristic of me, it was downright crazy. I am a desk-nerd. I don’t do irresponsible shit like this. And dancing was totally not my scene.

Yet I couldn’t help but vibrate in synch with the music playing all around me, music so loud that that my pulse thumped in time to its beat, as though we were one. Over the roar of music I could hear joyous hoots and chatter and the tinkling of laughter. The explosion of brilliant colours, exotic costumes, and the exuberance of life sucked me in. I had no choice but to join the crowd, jumping in a huddled group, like Tic-Tacs being shaken in a box.

Around me dancers moved like water flowing in graceful arcs, limbs in constant motion like ribbons in the wind, they were timeless. Yet even in this enchanted melee she stood out, twirling effortlessly, serene, as if she were floating, with a smile that shone out of her eyes. I couldn’t stop staring.

I don’t know which of us moved for I was in a dream. All I knew was that I was looking at a goddess. The rest of the world paled and faded away beside her.
When her long graceful finger curled to beckon me, I followed with the single minded determination of a parched man following the sound of water.

“Faster,” she called.

“Where are we going?”

“Nowhere”

“We have to be going somewhere.”

“Nowhere is somewhere too,” she teased.

“Your beautiful,” I called out behind her; “this can’t be real.”

“Maybe it’s not real,” she replied, her entire head turning to face me. “Maybe I’m not real.”

mardigras

Written in response to Michelle’s Photo-Fiction #86 challenge