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

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

That one moment

I’m seated directly under the whirling fan, but I might as well have been out in the sun or waiting under some lamppost. I tilt my head from side to side loosening the knots in my neck. Had I stayed up all night, I would have been no more exhausted. At any rate by morning my bed sheets had been such a tangled mess that I had to literally extricate myself from its clasp.
I stare at my cellphone, my brain constantly searching for any signs of a message or a call, for any sign from him, like a phone seeking a signal when moving through a mountain pass. My stomach clenches uneasily and I find that I am hugging myself so tightly that my nails are pinching into my skin. Years of hard work and running around, sleepless nights, and it all boiled down to this one moment, the one crucial moment when dreams could either beget wings or fall like a stack of tumbling dominos.

A loud ring shatters the silence and I grab the phone with trembling hands. The unlock pattern goes wrong and for one brief horrifying second I can’t recall the password. And then I remember.

“Hello mom. Mom? Can you hear me? I got in, mom. I’ve been selected.”

In response to The Sunday Photo Fiction challenge of 7th May 2017.
Thanks to the photo prompt by A Mixed Bag 2012.

When it overfloweth

As the innocents are slaughtered, their blood spills over to stain skies.

Yet a new dawn awakens, with a trial for mankind.

When the floods overfloweth, will the Gods awaken then?

 

In response to Sonya’s Three Line Tales, Week 66
photo by Adi Ulici via Unsplash

Waiting for a call

Friday wound up amidst sighs of relief. The nondescript system administrator walked out quietly, clutching her tote and staring at her nondescript shoes. No one waved goodbye. No one invited her for drinks. No one ever did.

Monday shocked the entire office. None of the logins worked, the systems were infected with virus, the entire week’s backup had been deleted, and the system administrator was missing.

In the café across the square, she waited phone in hand.

The enquiry took almost a month.

When they asked her why she did it, her deadpan reply was ‘because nobody ever calls me’.

 


In Response to: Friday Fictioneers of 5th May 2017
Photo Prompt by Sandra Crook

Stars below

100WW

The cityscape was a jumble of shapes, like pastel legos thrown so close together that they almost touched. Between them long winding streets held little boxcars and even tinier humans scurrying around like ants, always busy chasing the next golden opportunity.

In the horizon a pink and lemon sky casts its glow upon the panorama.

To witness this was like being hailed by the angels, my breath stolen away in the most magical way. I want to shout out to everyone trapped under the haze of everyday, that whether they realise it or not, they are all stars in a phenomenal movie called life.

Its time to shine.


In response to 100 Word Wednesday, Week 17
Image Credit: Scott Webb