A/N: Todays prompt was free write for at least 400 words and the twist was to write something you think is too silly or have been hesitant to write about. I choose to do actually just type up the story without handwriting it first, something I never do and I kinda see why. Stuff comes out too disjointed I think.
I leaned up against the window and looked at the dark shelves. Jackson said the book was on the back shelf near the top. He said, that it was hidden in a secret compartment that you had to pull out the right combination of other books to find. But it was there.
I jiggled the handle of the door. Of course it was locked. It was midnight, no book store was open at midnight. I looked around me, trying to see if anyone was watching. The streets were empty. Then again if I was seen breaking in, no one would question me. The bad guys were the good guys here. They would give me respect, think I might be able to pull some strings and get them out of trouble. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to be a villain.
So I made sure no one saw as I broke the little glass window above the knob. I carefully slid my hand inside, avoiding the shards of glass and twisted the lock. Once it was open, I pulled out my hand and opened the door. I slinked inside and ducked down. Praying no one saw me.
Once I was sure that I was safe I straightend up and ran into the shelves space. I carefully picked my way through the rows, making sure not to knock anything over or trip on the carpet. Once I was in the very back of the store, I looked around until I found the shelf that Jackson had mentioned. Right at the back in the corner.
I went over and began to pull the books off the shelf in the order he told me, I was just about to pull the last one when I felt a small hand on my back. I dropped the books and froze. Who was it? Was it the owner? Were they going to start questioning me now? Were they going to try to make me a friend of theirs to be used later? I didn’t say anything, I just waited anxiously for the person who was touching me to speak.
“I see we have found our way here finally,” the voice was soft and slow. It was female and I felt like something was inching up and down my spine. I knew what I was going to see when I turned around.
I spun and there before me stood HER. She was dressed in a long black dress, with a dark green outline. Her black hair laid over her back, straight and out of the way. She had on red lipstick and a cruel smile that I could just make out through the shadows. She gestured to a chair beside me. I sat down, knowing that if I didn’t do it voluntarily she was going to make me do it anyway.
I still didn’t speak. I waited for her to curse me, hurt me or try to make me one of her.
“So what took you so long?” she asked. She was trying to sound sweet and kind but the words just weren’t work. There was too much poison in her veins for any kindness to be able to live.
“I don’t understand,” I said. The words were truthful, I had no idea what she wanted from me.
“I have been at this for many years my dear boy. And you are the first to come looking for the book. Many speak of it, many say they have read it and many make up descriptions and stories to prove that they have read it But you are the first to actually come looking for it. Why? She was sitting in her own chair. Arms crossed, studying me.
“Because they all say that in it the hero wins. I have to see if it is true,” I told her. I knew lying was pointless she would see right through each and every word.
“So? What if the hero does win? What does that matter?” she asked me.
“It matters to me. The heroes don’t win anymore. Every story end with the ‘villian’ wining, the one who causes all the pain and hurt. It sucks and I am tired of that world. I wanted to see if another world was possible,” I felt my voice getting smaller and smaller. I felt like a toddler, waiting for my parents to tell me to stop being silly and grow up.
She smiled, a smile that crinkled her eyes and made me squirm. It was one of pride. “Good.” she stood. “Finally we have found you.”
“What now?” I felt like I had whiplash. I was scared and now I was confused and a bit intrigued.
“I have been waiting for you.”
“Because the stories are dying. They need to be saved. They can’t continue to live as they are. The villains can not always win while also the heroes can not alway lose. These stories,” she waved at the shelves. “Are old and worn out. It is the same tale over and over again. I am dying because of them. I need you to set things right again,” She moved to the shadows.
I waited, still trying to figure out what exactly was going on. Set things right? What things? Her world that she ruled? Why? Or was it more she needed me to save her. Should I do that?Should I run? Or will she just catch me.
“Here,” she handed me a pen and paper.
“Okay…,” I took them, no idea what I am supposed to do with them.
“Write the new stories. Make this world live again. Show the people that villains can be good and evil, same goes for heroes. Make the sidekicks rule the world while the main character fade into the background. Make a story that no one can understand, but is still intriquing. Write life for me,” she came over and kissed my head. “Thank you for my dear for being the only one to come looking for a new ending.”
A/N: Todays prompt was to take the scenario of Mrs. Pauley and old woman who has lost her husband and her six sons are no longer living at home. She has fallen on hard times and people come to evict her. The idea is to tell the story from the 12 year old child across the streets perspective. The twist was to write in first person perspective
It was a rare day. I was allowed outside today. I’m not allowed out normally. My parents say it is too dangerous outside, people disappear too often. Usually I just stay inside and read my books playing inside the story world on my virtual reality device. I like it in there, so many different places to go to.
But sometimes it is a safe day and today is one of those days. There is no danger of me being taken my mom says. I don’t know why today is any different then yesterday or the day before but my parents say it is okay and they are my parents so they know what they are talking about.
The sun is warm on my face. I giggle as the wind lifts my hair and throws it in my face. I pull the strands away only to have them come crawling back. I feel like I am playing with a wind spirit, like in my fantasy stories. I imagine a little sprite playing a trick on me.
The birds sing from the trees. It is nice to hear them, to hear actual chirping instead of the fake tracks that play in my games and sometimes in our house. We can watch the TV and hear the bird sounds and feel the “wind,” but it isn’t real. I like being out here where the world is real.
I sit down on the stone steps and prop my head on my hand. I don’t know what to do now that I was outside. I wasn’t allowed to go for a walk by myself. I was never allowed to do that even before people started disappearing. A few people walk pass our house on the sidewalk but they don’t pay any attention to me. Today is a safe day so no one really looks at anyone else.
I was so eager to be released from my house, to finally get out into the sunshine and the cool breeze but now that I was out here I was bored. I had freedom but I didn’t know what to do with it.
I lifted my head and scratched at a scar on the back of my hand. It was just a line that I had had since I was a baby. My parents said all kids nowadays had them. I wished I had friends like I used to have. But no one had friends anymore. At least not like in the stories that I read. I liked those stories that have two best friends taking on the evil world around them. They would laugh and tease each other but then jump in front of fireballs and off bridges to save each other. I wanted that. But it wasn’t safe to get close to anyone you weren’t related to anymore my parents told me. You didn’t know who was working for “them,” and if you talked to the wrong person you could end up gone.
My excitement for being let outside had evaporated. I didn’t know what to do and now I felt more trapped then before. I was sitting here but I couldn’t really do anything. Everything beyond my doorstep was dangerous, and I didn’t know why! I was on feet and about to go back inside when something across the street caught my eye.
Three men were walking up Mrs. Pauley’s driveway. I liked the old woman. She would wave at me sometimes from her window. She always looked sad though. My dad said it was because she lost her husband, I don’t know if he was taken or just died, and that her six sons were all on their own now and she had no one left. I never talked to her, because my parents wouldn’t let me but I alway assumed she would be really nice. Maybe talk like the grandma’s from TV, all sweet and always offering you a cookie.
The three men were all much taller then me, maybe even taller then my dad. Two of them wore blue uniforms and the last one wore a white shirt like my dad used to wear to work sometimes.
They knocked on her door. I sat back down, scratching at the scar on the back of my hand. They waited but the door never opened. They knocked again, louder this time. She still didn’t answer.
Maybe she wasn’t home. It was a safe day, maybe she went out for groceries or a walk down the street. Couldn’t they just come back later? I guess not, because now they were yelling while they knocked on the door.
“Open the door!!” they yelled at the door. They were as loud and as angry as my dad was when I would lock myself in my room.
The door opened and old Mrs. Pauley stepped out of the door. Her hair was sticking up in all different directions and she wore a pink night dress. She was really shaky looking as she closed the door, stumbling as she walked forward. The men didn’t help her at all.
“NO!” I screamed as I saw them reach out to take her. I threw my hand over my mouth. That was a very bad idea. They all looked over at me, the men giving me a glare like my mom did when I said a bad word. Uh oh, would they take me now?
Mrs. Pauley waved at me, the same way my teacher had waved at me when I was taken out of school that last day. I felt a hard tug on my shoulder. I stood up.
I turned to find my dad watching across the street. He waved at the men as he steered me inside and shut the door. I couldn’t see where they were taking Mrs. Pauley.
“Where is she going?” I asked. I tried to go to the window on the side of the door but my Dad held me tightly not letting me move.
“Away. It is her turn. It is why today is a safe day. They knew it was her time. We can’t be taken today. Their quote has been filled,” I didn’t understand most of what he said but I nodded as if I did. “Go up to your room,” he told me. He didn’t sound angry, more like he did when he was watching a sports game and I asked a question. He was only half paying attention to me.
“Okay,” I said. As I walked upstairs I rubbed my scar over and over again. Why was it her turn? I didn’t understand.
I went to my window to look down at the street. A black car was pulling away. No one followed or tried to stop them. I swiped at the tear on my cheek. It wasn’t fair.
A/N: Day 17 prompt was to write about a fear or something you are scared of. The twist was to write in a different style then what you are used to. I tried to write in a stream of consciousness type way as well as keeping it personal.
I parked the car and glanced at the clock on my dashboard. There was fifteen minutes left until the meeting was supposed to begin. I stared at the little white glowing numbers trying to get my brain to stop racing.
What would they think when I walked in that door? If I went in too early then I would have to interact with someone, maybe? Or I could end up sitting alone, waiting desperately for the meeting to start so I could stop feeling like a three-eyed alien. I bet I am the youngest one there tonight. They are all going to wonder what I am doing there. I am too young to know anything about this. Why is she even here? Does she even know what to do? What has she written that is worthwhile? She isn’t old enough to have anything worthwhile. She has nothing published, why even bother listening to her?
“Dammit, that is enough,” I snapped at myself. I had to stop this incessant sound track that was trying to take over my mind. That damn little voice is always trying to make itself the only thing I hear. I need to stop it in its tracks or else I will never get out of this seat. If I was going to go through with this and meet my goal tonight, I had to not let my habits take over. I needed to completely ease my mind and go in there and see what happens.
It was eight minutes to seven. It was time to leave my car. I opened the door, stopping the song mid sentence. I gathered myself together. I had to stop trying to think of what could happen in this meeting. Right now even trying to think positively was dangerous, my mind would run away from me and that was not acceptable. I just need to go in there with a blank slate.
I knew that I was also battling the side of me that wanted to get into my car and turn around and go home. I could easily open that door back up and drive until I was in my parking lot. Go up to my apartment, curl up on my couch with my purring cat and just be safe. Home was safe, here was potentially dangerous. But here was also an opportunity I could not pass up. I had to show myself and what I could do other people. I can’t be successful hiding behind a closed door, it just wasn’t possible.
I walked up the street, continuously telling myself to remain calm and stop obsessing. I need to put a smile on my face and straighten my back. I have to be open to what is going to happen next; not on guard. I need try to show every who I am. Not show them that scared child that hides in the corner that keeps trying to come out. Yes, I am quiet but I do have a voice and when I use it, it echoes loud and proud.
The meeting starts quickly. I barely have time to take in everyone that surrounds me. I am asked to read first. I read with my eyes never leaving the small black letters before me. All my energy is concentrated on not stumbling over my words and making myself sound like an idiot. I want them to hear the story with the emotion that I intended for it. They need to hear the story without my nervous voice coming through. All my energy goes into reading what I wrote so they can get escape just like I did while writing it.
The critiques are few but good. They are not harsh or angry. They are helpful and are given as opinions not commands or demands. I accept them without saying much in return. I don’t know what to say, still afraid that the wrong words may leave my mouth. I don’t want to sound arrogant or upset or too nonchalant. So I don’t say much but a few “thank you’s” and “I understands.”
The spotlight leaves me and I feel myself relax. My shoulders are no longer taut and my hand has gone down to only slightly trembling. Now it is time for me to listen and add my voice in when necessary.
But as is my habit my voice remains inside me. Look we are talking about blogging, I should open my mouth. I should tell them what I know, how I blog and why I like where I post my pieces. The woman wants the advice, why can’t I give it? Why can’t I just tell them what I know? Why is my opinion not worth as much? At least in my eyes. Because they may ask too many questions and I may run out of answers. Maybe they will think I am being too haughty, or maybe I’ll say something that they will all stare at me for. Am I even blogging the right way?
“Enough!” I silently chide myself. I can’t do that. I can’t let the obsessing over what may happen keep me from finding out what will happen. I have always hid away in this tiny comfort zone, always keeping myself scrunched up in here. This spot is safe and warm and nothing can hurt me here. But also nothing can help me here either. There is nothing left inside this little circle of mine, but old words and dried up thoughts and dreams. It isn’t pleasant in here. But I live here.
I live in this zone because I am terrified. Terrified that when I venture out, putting my toe over the line, that the world will come crashing down on me. Like everyone is a dragon waiting for me to cross that boundary and they will swoop down and consume me. They will throw negative thought after negative thought at me. Or I will make a bad impression and they will never forget it. Or I won’t make an impression and I will cease to exist to them. I will remain invisible as always. That is what is outside that comfort zone, at least in my head.
I tried for years to deal on my own. I would jump over the line and then slink back in because it was all too much. My imagination would take off creating all these horrendous scenarios and I would just curl up into a ball and refuse to move. If I didn’t move then those scenarios were dead in the water. It wasn’t working.
So I made a decision, I needed to find someone to help me. My family is great but they don’t understand. I needed someone who could try to give me tips and advice and ways to work with the fear. I found a therapist to talk to and quickly realized that I knew what I was doing was absurd.
No, people weren’t going to attack me as soon as I opened my mouth. And if they did, I didn’t need them. Yes, this introduction or that interaction might go wrong but I can walk away. I can walk away and my life is not over. The chances of that one person having a hugely detrimental effect on my life from this point onwards because of one dumb thing I said is very very small. I know all this, I know I am being too hard on myself. I know I am obsessing and I need to stop. Now I am learning how to do just that.
This was a big step for me. Not only did I actually walk into this meeting but I shared apart of myself with them. Did they get the best impression of me? No, they saw the quiet woman who is still living mostly in shadows but the important thing is they saw me. I let them see me and next time I will let them see a bit more.
I will never be the one who can go around a room and chat with everyone that is there. I will never be the one to jump at the chance to talk to a stranger. But I am slowly learning to not fear those unknowns. Yes, it can go bad and Yes, it can go well. But I will never know until I actually try.
Next time I will offer my opinion on a subject, even just a few words. It will be one more step forward. And for now on, forward is the only direction I am going to bother trying to go in
A/N: Day 16 ( I did day 15 but again it wasn’t publishable) prompt was the write about a place of lost and found, and the twist was the complete the 3 part series. The idea here was to reflect on the concept of lost and found and see where it takes you. (the other two parts in this are Indestructible, and Indestructible team). I wanted to take this last part and reflect from the daughters POV.
I threw my bag onto the ground beside the closet door. I collapsed onto my butt onto the ground and yanked off my work shoes, letting my feet breathe. My cat came over and curled up into my lap, purring contently. I scratched him behind his ears and closed my eyes, only intending to rest them.
I had no intention of drifting off to sleep, but the day had been a long one. Full of complaints and running in circles. My body needed a few minutes to rejuvenate itself, so I drifted off.
I found myself with my feet dangling from a cloud watching the world below me. I liked it up here, it was comforting. I felt safe up here. Up here I could watch events unfold without being apart of them, without having to make the tough decisions and suffer the consequences. Up here what happened down on the ground couldn’t hurt me, at least not at the moment. I couldn’t lose anyone or anything up here.
I felt the cloud sink down a few inches as someone joined me. I grinned over at the tall lanky man who had sat down beside me. He just smiled back at me, watching the cars zoom through the streets and the people run to make appointments. We watched life move forward for a few moments.
“I like it up here,” I said, swinging my feet. “No worries, no stress, just pure bliss.”
“Yeah, it is nice,” his hand squeezed my shoulder. “But not your place, at least not right now.”
I sighed. I knew he was right. I wasn’t done following my life path. There was still miles upon miles of unexplored territory waiting for me to discover. Dark holes, corners and dirt paths that had never seen a living soul. They were all waiting for me to come crashing through them, smile on my face as I opened their ways up to the world.
“Kinda sucks down there,” I told him, letting my carefree smile sink away. “I mean my life start out pretty shitty and ever since then every time I take a leap forward, life punches me back until I’m only inches away from where I started. I’m tired of being on the end of that fist,” I told him.
“I know and I’m so sorry for that. But unfortunately this was the hand you were dealt. Look at your mother, she lost everything yet found a way to push herself up from her knees and knock that fist away from her. She raised her own hands and began to fight back. She matched the world blow for blow. Now it is your turn,” He pointed at the ground. “Each person down there will most likely lose what they wanted most. They will then find something new, the choice becomes about what you do with that find. Do you push it aside because it isn’t what you initially wanted? Or do you pick it up, look at it from all angles and see the beauty that stands before you?” I could feel his eyes staring into the side of my face.
“What if what I find requires too much work? What I lost was whole and complete and now I have only pieces surrounding me. What do I do with them?” I asked him, my voice almost a whisper. For some reason I felt ashamed admitting this out loud.
“Then you begin to put the puzzle together. You could just leave the pieces in a tangled mess and mourn what you have lost but what do you end up getting from that? Nothing, but a faint and painful memory. Take those pieces and start building the outline. Trust me when I say the picture you are creating is going to be stunning,” he shoulder bumped me, making me laugh.
“Good to hear. It is just going to be so tough,” I said, looking over at him.
“Yep, it will be. But use your mother as your example. Lean on the shoulders you need to lean on. Rage and break things when necessary. Break down into life crushing sobs when you feel like there is no way out of where you are at the moment. But when you get to the end, and you will reach that point eventually, stand up proud of what you’ve done. One of your first lessons in life was how to find inner strength to keep yourself moving. It lives like a fire inside of you, always burning. Sometimes it is only an ember but it is always alive. Use it and take on that world down there,” He leaned forward and kissed my forehead. “And as always I’ll be right beside you.”
“Thanks,” I said. He stood up and waved good bye as the cloud began to sink closer and closer to the Earth. A moment later my eyes opened and I was on the floor of my apartment, my cat curled into my side.
I sat up and stretched out the knots in my shoulders and back. Just like my mother I had a fight on my hands, one that was going to try to break me with everything that it had. But she was able to rise above her loss and in turn found an indestructible strength inside of her. A strength she passed onto to her family. It was an essence that we all had that could never be dampened. Now it was my turn to find my own indestructible strength and take on this rough yet beautiful world.
A/N: Today’s prompt was to open the page of the nearest book to page 29 and use the first word to jump out at you as inspiration. I used the book “To Say Nothing of the Dog,” by Connie Willis and the word was crypt. The twist was to write in letter form.
I really liked this and want to continue it. Tell the stories back and forth.
“To all those dead and gone,
I sit here in the corner of this almost pitch black hole in the ground. My only light is from my phone. There are no windows, only one single door at the top of a handful of stairs that lets in sunlight and life. I closed the door after I walked in today, secluding myself from the living and breathing world. I want to spend the afternoon in your home, just you all and me.
In this crypt there are a number of you, departed souls. All of you have your stories,most of which I will never know. Some of you I will only know how your lives began or how they ended. Some of you I will make up your stories based off my own wild imagination, using only your name and birth and death dates.
Maybe you at the very top corner were a shoe salesman but in my head you have the story of a great war hero. You saved countless number of lives and came home with more medals then you ever could find a place for. Are you smiling at my ramblings? Amused by my take on your life? Are you shaking your head in disappointment as I rattle off the life you wished you had but were too scared to go after? Or are you angry that I under cut your honest and hardworking life? A life that made you proud and let your family live in comfort.
I didn’t plan on coming in here today. I was just on my way home from work when I saw this place. There is just a small little stone building that holds the door, then a few steps and the entrance to this place. There was nothing here that would scream at you to come exploring. I knew what was behind the door, ashes, bones and memories.
I came inside because I need something. I don’t know what I need though. Maybe I’m looking at the wrong place, searching in the wrong dark corners. Something is missing from me. Can you give it back to me?
Are any of you actually listening? Am I just talking to the dust and the wind? Do you care? Can you see me? See my crumpled form, hunched in this corner, a pen in my hand skating across the surface of this paper? Can you see what I am missing? Is it obvious to your eyes that are no longer crowded by the problems of this world? Do I have a hole in me?
Or would helping me be cheating? Can you cheat at life? I’m not one for taking the easy path in life. I was taught that hard work and risks yield the most precious results, though I haven’t actually seen those results yet.
Am I whining too much for you? Do you want me to just shut up and let you return to your slumber? Do you get this a lot? Should I just crumple up this piece of paper, set a match to it and watch it become part of the Earth like you? Should I? Or should I stay put and wait you out? Let you make your final decision, let you see that I really am at my last option here. Are you just waiting for me to fall silent for a minute so you can jump in and rescue me?
I guess I can’t wait though, my pen is just about out of ink. I guess I’ll leave this here and return in a few days time. I will probably find this paper long gone, trampled by visitors footprints; covered in so much dust and dirt that I couldn’t even begin to guess the words that I had once written on it.
I will make one last plea. If you can hear me, if any of you can hear me, I would appreciate the help. All I need is one word. I just want to know someone is listening.
Dear lost soul,
We are here. We are always here. We can hear you and we are listening. We only ask one thing. We will listen to your story if you are willing to listen to ours in exchange. We all have stories that need to be told as well, stories that some have never heard before. Open your ears to our hurt, pain, joy and triumphs and we will open our ears to yours.
-The departed souls
A/N: Todays prompt was to write about something that was found. The twist was to make it the second part of the three part series. So part one of this is from Day 4- Indestructible.
Right now she sat at the dining room table, piles upon piles of pictures before her. She was attempting to find the right ones to put out for her daughter’s high school graduation party. There was just so many different ones and she never had organized them. There was a pile with half Halloween and half Christmas. The vacation pictures had school pictures mixed into them. For many it would seem like a daunting and maybe even aggravating task. For her though it was a great way to examine the past.
The pile in her hand was from her second wedding. She let a smile take over her face. She laughed at some of the pictures. She stopped at a picture on the altar. There she stood in her wedding dress beside her new husband. Her three year old beautiful flower girl daughter stood at her feet, smiling shyly, half turned into her mothers legs. Her husband held their couple month old son, who was grinning an adorable baby grin. Here stood what she thought she could never truly have, happiness.
Smiles and true laughter were not something she thought she was ever going to be able to have again after that terrible night. For her she thought life was always going to involve her faking smiles, always trying too hard to not let them slip into a frown. She thought her laughter would always sound hallow and sad. Since that night eighteen years ago she hadn’t thought that true happiness ever could be hers again. When he had collapsed in that bathroom never to open his eyes or speak to her again she had thought that was it for her. The picture perfect family life with the loving husband and grinning children was torn away from her.
She had made the decision to live for her daughter. She knew she had to keep moving forward for the little girl. She had been determined to hold on tight to that child to make sure that she never got hurt again by this world. Eighteen years later and that little girl was graduating high school and heading off to college. She was beautiful, well behaved and smart (13 out of 300+ in her school).
On that night she had thought that it was going to be just the two of them against the world. Never did she think she would fall in love again and have that family she had once dreamed about half of her life.
That mother and daughter team was stronger then she could ever have hoped but it wasn’t just the two of them anymore. Now it was a family of five against the world. She had a husband who had walked into her life and had accepted what he had found with open arms. He had held out a hand for the two of them to take, and they had been holding on ever since. She had two sons as well. Two more children that she loved with all her heart, a heart she didn’t think could heal from that punch eighteen years ago.
She took a deep breath and wiped a tear from her eye. Just when she had believed that the universe had discarded her she was guided down a new path to a life. She had found a new way to define happiness and family.
As she watched her children come home from one of the last days of school for the year she tried to picture the family she had originally planned to have. She could see them still, but they were a vague outline, a ghost of a memory.
She would never forget him and the life they had planned before; a two child family in a tudor style home. She would never forget his tall lanky form and ridiculously huge coke bottle glasses. He would always have a place in her heart and her memories but she had found a way to move on. She gave each of her children a hug hello, though the middle son tried to wiggle out of her grasp.
Yes, that night a comet had cracked up the Earth and tragedy had cracked open her heart. But just like that crack in the ground she was healing, it was a slow process that would last her whole life but with these four people beside her she knew she would be okay no matter what the world threw at her. Because together they were an indestructible team.
I slipped my grease stained shirt over my head, buttoned every one but the top button and gathered together my apron. I wrapped the dangling strings around the bulky apron to keep them from trailing on the ground and getting dirtier then they already were.
I had one foot out of the door and a hand on the door knob when I glanced down. Damn, I forgot to cover up my tattoo. I shouldered the door open and sprinted the length of the living room and into the bathroom. With fingers that knew what they were doing I put the white bandage on my leg and taped it down.
I re-hooked my keys on my finger and put my apron back under my arm. I was out of the front door a minute later and twenty seconds after that I was behind the wheel of my car. I had gotten to be an expert at covering up my tattoo. It was a problem for where I worked. Why it was a problem? I had no idea. It was a picture of an open book, with the words Believe written across the pages by a feather quill. How unoffensive could you get?
Tattoos didn’t create the proper image for the restaurant where I worked. Everyone had to look uniform and match. No individuality or personality allowed inside those walls. I hated having to cover it up the five days I worked a week. I got it for a reason. It was my emblem, my way of showing the world who I was and what I did with my life. I wrote with full belief in myself, my words and what I could do with them. If that was offensive to someone, well screw them. I didn’t and would not try to care.
The drive was quick, only fifteen minutes today. No traffic to delay me, which was good for my mood. What wasn’t was the actual shift. The work day did not fly past like the drive. It was long and full of attitude and confused messed up orders. I got my exercise that day running back and forth recooking half of what was served. I got into a fight with one of the cooks when I wouldn’t admit that his job was more difficult then mine. (He didn’t have to talk to these people! I did.)
Finally the end of the day was near. I had one hour left. Sixty minutes was all I had to endure before freedom was mine. I had two days off and I was planning on using them to forget that this place even existed.
I got a new guest at the counter. I handed him a set of silverware but left the menu in the holder. He was a regular (not a particular favored regular) who knew the menu better then half of the waitresses here. He rattled off his meal of choice and I turned to head around the corner to put in his order. He caught sight of my bandaged leg and asked question I had heard at least a dozen times that day.
“What did you do to your leg?” He asked.
I stopped and glanced down at my leg to ensure we were thinking about the same thing. “Nothing. It is actually covering up my tattoo. Against regulations to have it,” I said. Now that should have been it, just like it had been for the rest of the day. But this guy wasn’t one for keeping his mouth shut.
“You have a tattoo? Why would you destroy yourself like that?” He asked, completely shocked and disgusted.
“It was designed by my brother. It’s an open book with a feather quill writing the world Believe,” was how I responded. It was the safest thing for me to say right now. I walked around the corner to the computer, knowing that if I stayed near him any longer some unpleasant words would leave my mouth.
Unfortunately for me staying away from him was not a possible task. The restaurant was the size of a shoe box, it only sat 30 people. So I ended up back in font of him only minutes later.
I was at the front computer checking out a guest, doing everything in my power to ignore him. He kept trying to catch my eye but I refused to even glance at him. As soon as the woman had her back to me, Mister-I-know-everything opened his mouth again.
“So what gang are you in then?” he asked, no laughter. He wasn’t joking, he was being serious.
I had to drop my pen because my fingers started to shake. “What!? I’m not!” I snapped at him. I was usually very much in control of my emotions. I didn’t snap or get angry easily. People joked it was like pulling teeth to get me mad. Unless you attacked someone I cared about. Today though I was already at the end of my rope and he wasn’t cutting the last threads.
‘Well, that is automatically what I think. If you get a tattoo you are in a gang. Simple.”he shrugged at me. His look said “Well, you’re the one who got it so don’t blame me.”
“Well, you are a judgmental piece of shit! You know that!? You wear glasses and a high priced suit, guess you are a smug bastard who thinks because he has money he is better then everyone else. Like being judged? No!? Well, neither do I! Did you bother to ask if it had any meaning? Or why I got it in the first place!? It is a reminder to me to believe in myself always. Even when arrogant piece sod shit like you attack me! SO FUCK YOU!!” Such an awesome speech, I just wished I could actually deliver it. I wished I could have watched his face fall and watch him fumble for his words.
But I needed my job so I bit my tongue until I tasted blood and turned on my heel for the back area. As I scooted past coworkers I let the scene continue to play in my head. A small smile creased my lips. In real life I could never say a word and could never put him in his place. But in my own little world I could tell that bastard off and he could get what he deserved.
A/N: Todays prompt was to write about where you lived when you were twelve. The twist was to pay attention to sentence length and try to vary them. My story “Always,” provides more information about the guardian angel in this piece as well. That story gives you a better idea of who the guardian angel is.
I slammed the door behind me. I didn’t care who had heard it. Didn’t care if my neighbors would be giving me dirty looks when I passed them by tomorrow. I couldn’t hold it in any longer. My bag slipped off my shoulder and hit the ground, the content spilling out in a heap. My cat walked over and began to scratch around the surface, smelling the pages and trying to decide if he wanted to make any use of the items or not.
For months now I had been holding myself together. It was like I had kept patching up the holes with duct tape but now they were combining into one another, creating huge holes that couldn’t be covered. No amount of tape or sewing was going to fix this problem.
I slid down the wall and buried my head into my knees. Pain, confusion, anger, sorrow and hurt came pouring out along with tears and sobs. Each deep breath brought forth another emotion that I didn’t get time to fully process before the next wave came crashing down. It was becoming too much. My brain was fuzzing over and I couldn’t breathe.
Just as I was desperately trying to decide between passing out and finding my phone to call from help I felt a gentle hand grip my fingers. I caught a sob in throat and instantly looked up. I looked left, right, to the ceiling and at the floor. There was no around me. I felt the touch, a strong yet gentle hand, but there was nothing physical that I could see.
Anyone else would have been freaking out. Most would have assumed they had finally lost their minds Stress can do that to a person. Yes, my mind was exhausted and screaming for release but I knew this touch. It was a touch that I had felt once or twice before. It was his hand, my guardian angel’s hand.
As my chest eased and my nerve ends loosened slightly I felt a calm begin to steal over me. The hand still gripped mine. I pictured my guardian angel sitting beside me, huge coke bottle glasses watching me. Eyes never leaving my face as I came down from my panic attack.
In my head I could almost hear his whisper, “It’s okay. Deep breaths and happy thoughts.’ My eyes fell closed and my spent brain ran back in time.
After flipping through a catalogue of happy memories I choose a simple summer day. I opened my eyes. I was twelve and standing inside the bedroom that had been mine for most of my life.
Our house was nothing special. It was small, barely accommodating the five of us plus an eighty pound Akita, a cockatiel and a guinea pig. Shouts of laughters and reprimands coated the hallway walls like wallpaper. I could hear all the conversations we had as children, full of crazy stories and imaginary friends. Conversations that matured as we did. Going from school work to plans for our now adult lives.
My parents always said and still say to this day that the house was too small and cramped. Not one surface wasn’t covered. Everything was falling apart and the place was just one big mess.
As a child and even to this day I have never agreed. My eyes glaze over the mess of papers and piles of dog hair that live in the corners. Yes, the doors had holes where frustrated feet had kicked in the wood. In the back-room there were cracks in the walls and the wallpaper was peeling. The tiles floor of the kitchen always had footprints and the walls always had handprints. The basement was a half finished place full of darkness and dirty laundry.
Each room was small and cramped. Finding a place to hide for privacy wasn’t a real option. Even your own room wasn’t safe, people always walking in with only a knock to announce their entrance. Silence or even quiet were words that had no place in our home.
No matter the issues though, it never changed what the place was. It was home. A home where laughter, love and creativity reigned supreme. I stood, as my twelve year old self, in my room. This was the room I had moved into once my youngest brother no longer needed a crib. For most of my life this had been my room. Right now the walls were covered in NSYNC posters. The floor was covered in everything from clothes, papers to stuffed animals and shoes. If you walked without shoes you had to be careful not to step on pen caps or push pins. Books overflowed from the bookshelf, spilling into piles on the floor.
Standing here I felt a welcome calm. This was my place. Over the years the band posters would come down to be replaced by pictures of friends and family. During my four years of college the room would become dark and lonely for most of the year. Until a year ago this had been where I went to cry, to study and to read. This is where I played school with my stuff animals and where I wrote my first stories.
A year ago I had packed up every piece of paper and every last sock and had left behind nothing but tears and memories. It was my middle brothers room now, but standing here at twelve I remembered how much this place had meant to me.
A knock sounded at the door. My mom opened it slowly, barely able to move it enough to talk to me because of the mess.
“Dinner,” she told me. No comment on the disaster inside. By this age she knew it was a fruitless battle with me. I cleaned the place and two days later it looked like I had never touched it. Organization and neatness would never be attributes of mine.
It only took a handful of steps to cross from my room across the hallway and into the kitchen. Our kitchen was unique in the neighborhood. Attached to the back was what we called the “back-room.” It was just an addition created to be a dining room, but it made this area the biggest part of the house.
Tonight the kitchen held the aroma of hamburgers and french fries. These counter tops saw everything from birthday cakes, report cards with good and bad grades, to final notices from credit card companies. Here cakes were made and here cakes were dropped. Here metal spoons were turned into drumsticks and tupperware bowl were drums. The floor was skating rink in our socks or a dance floor while music blasted from the radio. This room saw laughter from crazy family dinners where more food was thrown then eaten. Tearful dinners and angry dinners with no words spoken also lived here as well.
Dinner was enjoyable that night. I sat as my twelve year old self listening to my family joke and talk about random topics. Always being sure to include the imaginary friends into the conversation as well. After dinner it was everyone off onto their own.
My middle brother and father headed out the backdoor and into the backyard, the dog at their heels. A swing set stood at the very back of the small backyard. It was hand-me down, with two red swings and a slide. There was just enough room to hit a ball and play a simple game of baseball. Which was exactly what my dad and brother did tonight. Each of them tried to use only half their power, afraid of hitting the ball over the fence. It was a good try but my brother failed. He hit it a bit too hard and watched it soar over the back fence. He groaned, ran to the back and gripped the wooden tops and threw himself over, my dad keeping a watchful eye. I turned away as the ball came soaring back over the top.
I turned back towards the front of the house. A minute later I was in the living room. My mom was busy flipping through the channels looking for something she could watch but was also appropriate for me as well. She ended up on Nickelodeon. Just like the rest of the house this was also sort of a tight squeeze. Here the couch and arm chair took up all the wall space. You had just enough room to move between sitting places.
The living room saw the opening of birthday and Christmas presents, bedtime stories and sleepovers. Here was where we played with our current dog, as well as a future puppy we would get after this one passed away. Just this year was where we also lost yet another beloved dog. It wasn’t a large space but it was big enough to build forts with pop up tents or to jump from couch to chair avoiding the lava ground. These chairs would be where I would get lost in world of Harry Potter. As each book was released I would become completely cut off from the world until dragged to dinner or when my dad stole my book to tease me.
I only watched the television for a few moments before pulling a book out of the chair cushions. It was a companion book the Sabrina the Teenage Witch TV series. As I turned the pages I felt myself sinking into the words and the soft sofa cushions.
My mom sitting on the couch and our dog settled at her feet began to fade. As the picture faded I began to surface from my memory. That house was not my parents dream home. It was small, and falling apart. But it held so many memories, whole lives worth. It wasn’t perfect and never would be. Something would always be cracked or in danger of falling apart on top of you. But for me it would always be my home, my safe haven, the keeper of so many of my memories.
I had lived there for nearly 24 years of my life. I was born there and grew up there. That house was my life. Remembering those rooms with its sights and sounds began to bring my frazzled mind back into focus.
I opened my eyes. I noticed that the gentle hand was gone. Yes, things were all twisted and tangled up in a ball right now. I had no idea what was going to happen. But as long as I remembered where I had started I could figure out where I was going.
I stood staring ahead of me. Directly in front was three large doors. Each was set flush into the wall, the only thing making them stand out was a slight sliver light glowing from around the edges. Each had no other decoration but a black knob waiting for a hand to grasp its cool surface and give it a turn to reveal what was inside. Three doors that sat waiting for me to make a decision.
Only problem was, was what decision was I supposed to be making? I had literally no idea how I had gotten to where I was right now. One minute I was settling down for a nap, a nap that hopefully would rejuvenate my exhausted beyond comprehensible thought mind, and the next minute I was standing here confused beyond words.
I was dead. That was the only explanation. I had died in my sleep and now I had to choose my eternity. One was heaven, one was hell and one was purgatory. My choice could doom me, make me live in bliss forever or I could end up in no mans land with nothing. I didn’t move, this was all too much. I didn’t want to be dead and I absolutely didn’t want to suffer for eternity.
“Whoa, take a deep breath. If you pass out my jobs becomes kind of pointless. Hard to show you something when you are unconscious,” A voice called from somewhere high above me. My head snapped up, desperately searching for the source.
“I’m right here. Don’t strain your neck,” the speaker was no longer an echo, but now it was right beside me. A man’s voice, calm yet strong. I looked to my right and felt my mouth drop open and my breath catch in my throat. Standing beside me was the most handsome man I had ever set my two eyes upon. He had a face that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a greek god statue. He had a few strands of his chocolate brown hair hanging over his eyes, making him look playful. He was smiling showing a full set of bright white teeth. His eyes were wide as well but they didn’t match the rest of him. They are all business.
“You still with me?” the man asked.
“Uh…,” I tried to find my words. They were there, hovering on the edge of my brain. Right now though the only words my mouth wanted to say was “Pretty,” while drooling or “Huh?” while staring confused yet still entranced.
“Okay, let me start and you can jump in whenever you get your brain back in order,” he strode forward, trend his back to the doors and said. “Here we have three doors. Each holds a moment, a moment that means something to you. Behind these three doors you will find three meals. Three meals that define a part of you,” As I listened my brain restarted itself. I felt myself start to chuckle, he sounded like a game show host explaining the prizes.
“Okay kind of random but continue,” I said. His behavior had eased my initial reaction to his looks.
“Oh so she can actually articulate full sentences. Good to see,” He joked, giving me a smirk. I resisted the urge to flick him off. “Alright, we will continue on. Behind door number one we have Christmas dinner, the last one with your grandfather,” he walked over and opened the door farthest to the left.
Inside I glimpsed our family packed around the table. Not an extra inch to spare. Elbows, forks and plates kept hitting each other over and over. The danger of having half the meal on the floor was always hovering over the table. Getting up from your spot was a process. You placed you arms as close to you as possible, pushed out the chair as far as it would go and stood straight up. Careful not to take a step to the left or right. Then you turned around, giving the family a view none of them wanted while eating and got up onto your chair. Using all your hand-eye coordination you stepped over the back of the chair and hopped down to the floor. Fifteen years and no one had yet to end up back first onto of the table.
Despite the cramped space we were all smiling wide. Laughs and chatter filled the room. Smiles and laughs to an outsider that looked all happy and perfect, like some family off of a Hallmark movie. But if you looked closely and truly listened to the surroundings you would be able to see how fake it all was. Smiles fell seconds after they appeared and the laughter was hallow. None of us could keep the sadness from intruding this meal. It was tough rejoicing when you knew what was going to be coming soon.
The door slammed shut. I jumped, not prepared to lose the image so quickly.
“You could have warned me,” I huffed, wiping a single tear from my eye. “Okay so that was depressing. Thanks, I needed that. Next?” I asked. I was never good at keeping harsh sarcasm from my voice.
He rolled his eyes at me, as if he was used to my snarky remarks. I shrugged at him, what did he want from me? I had no idea what was the point of all this. I still didn’t even know if I was dead or not. Maybe I was in the process of slipping away?
“Next,” his voice kept the thought from developing into anything. “We have a birthday. Not yours, you mothers. Just the five of you enjoying a nice Mexican dinner out. Calm and simple,” he grinned at me like he knew secret. He opened the middle door.
I knew what was coming before the knob had even been turned. On the other side sat anything but a simple and calm meal. My parents , my two brothers and me were laughing so hard tears were streaming down our cheeks. We were flapping our hands like seals. Speaking wasn’t an option right now. We just let out loud guffaws every few seconds when we got enough oxygen into our lungs. How the manager didn’t come over and ask us to settle down and stop acting like crazy people I would never know?
Why were we laughing so hard we were all in danger of passing out? Some random joke. A joke that no one would find nearly as funny as we did. It was one of those you had to be there moments. Something about throwing ice cream at the ceiling and escaping the angry restaurant owner.
The laughter brought smile to my face I felt the laugh bubbling up inside my stomach. A chuckle escape me just as the handsome yet irritating man slammed the door shut. My laughter died instantly replaced my annoyance.
“What are you doing?” I snapped. “What is the point of all of this?” I was getting anxious. If I was dead could he just say it already? Did we have to go through this weird ass process? I couldn’t do much more of this back and forth emotion thing.
“Last one,” he didn’t even attempt to explain. I waved him on, knowing that if I opened my mouth certain swear words would make their-selves present. One left, then this whole irritating thing would be over.
He opened the door to chaos. I felt my eyes squint as the assault of images and colors before me. Random snapshots of people. Some I knew, some I had never seen in my life. All laughing, crying or shouting at each other in anger around some dinner table. Not one image stayed long enough for me to get an understanding of what was happening. Just enough time for me to take in the emotion and faces before everything was swapped around again.
“Enough,” I shouted covering my eyes. He loved slamming that door shut and now he held it open? Really? I felt the point behind my eyes begin to throb while my stomach churned. I heard the click of the door and knew it was safe to look ahead of me again.
The mystery man, who I no longer wanted to get to know in anyway, was leaning on the last door, arms crossed.
“So?” I asked. I was waiting for him to break down the whole experience. Where was my explanation? How this was all about some grand design. Where was the call for my choice that could change my life? I was waiting for the existential part of all of this.
“So?” he shrugged.
“Am I dead?”
“Dead? I don’t know,” he shrugged again.
“You don’t know? How can you not know? You brought me here. Gave me this weird glimpse into my life and now I have to choose right? I have to make a decision about what path I want to take. Each of these moment means something,” I pointed at each door. “Choice of life of happiness, hidden sorrow or the unknown? Right!?”
“How the fuck should I know?” he shook his head and shrugged again. I wanted to snap those shoulder off of him. “I’m not real.”
“Seriously? That doesn’t actually tell me anything. You could be a dream or the last ditch efforts of my dying brain to make sense of the world and my life,” I said.
“I could be, yep,” he slid down the door, leaned his head back and closed his eyes. “That is up to you. Let me know when you have the answer.”
I walked over and sat down beside him. I leaned my head onto his shoulder. “What if I don’t feel like coming up with an answer?”
“That is up to you,” he said, his shoulder vibrating as he spoke.
“Good, cause I’m tired. I’ll figure this all out sometime later,” I closed my eyes. Maybe I was dying or maybe I was dreaming and I would wake up only able to grasp at pieces of this story. Then again maybe my mind had snapped finally and I was awake in some padded room living inside of hallucination. So many maybes to sort through. I felt my breath getting more even. It could wait until later.
The last thing I saw before “sleep,” over took me was five people laughing so hard they couldn’t even begin to speak.
A/n: Here is day nine of the challenge. (I completed day 8 but it didn’t fit in with my blog). Todays prompt was to write about a man and woman walking through a park where they see an old woman on a bench knitting a red sweater. The twist was to tell it from each of their perspectives.
His hand was curled tightly in my hand. My fingers were curled around his but I wasn’t actually using any pressure to hold on. He was doing all the holding, I was just present.
I had been just “here,” for months now. I woke up and gave him his good morning kiss every morning; lips to cheek but with no feeling to make it mean anything. I did it because I had been doing it for years. Why change that routine?
I moved around the house and through my day in a complete daze. My body moved, hands reaching for mugs and plates, using knives and forks, turning on light switches and turning doorknobs. My feet moved along paths that had been worn into the carpet. Same steps to the same destinations, everyday and through every hour.
I didn’t even known what day it was let alone what month or year. I felt like my body was on auto pilot. My brain was set to the most basic setting, only completing those tasks necessary for survival. I don’t know when that switch got flipped or what caused me to check out front the world. Nothing had happened. No fight with my husband. I hadn’t gotten fired. And I hadn’t been diagnosed with some incurable disease. So what had caused me to just be content with being a playing piece that life just moved along the easy and simple paths?
Nothing had happened. Maybe that was it? Nothing had happened to me in years. After I graduated, got my job and got married there was nothing left to happen in my life. We weren’t going to have kids so there was nothing left to happen until we retired and died. I was tired of waiting for life to get interesting so I just stopped caring. I was alive and that was enough. Wasn’t it?
My husband was pulling me down a shaded lane of the park, long branches intertwined high above us throwing cool shadows down on us. It should have been a welcome relief from the sun, if only I actually had felt the warmth. Ahead on a bench sat an elderly woman, hands moving back and forth as she knitted a blood red sweater. Her eyes were trained on a spot right in front of her. She wasn’t actually paying attention to her knitting, she was waiting.
A part of me wanted to turn a different way, run through the grass to avoid having to walk in front of this mystery woman. As we got closer and closer I felt the last live part of me shut down, my feet just stopped moving completely. My husband hadn’t noticed, he kept walking until he got the extent of my arm length.
He stopped and turned to look at me. The minuscule part of my brain that was still chugging and puffing away at staying awake saw the tears on his face and wanted to desperately make them stop. I wanted those tears to leave this wonderful man alone. Tears I would take from him, if only to feel again.
I had suggested a walk through the park. I had told her that after the winter we had endured we had to soak up every ounce of sunlight just in case we had to endure the torture again next season. She had agreed, just nodding. Not an enthusiastic nod as if I had suggested we go on a year long vacation. Not a casual nod, as if it was a good idea just nothing special. Just a nod that said, yes, because that was what nods were for.
As we walked I realized I was basically pulling her along behind me. Her hand rested in mine. I held on tightly afraid that if I let go she would collapse onto the ground.
I had no idea what had happened to this woman that I had fallen into cloud 9 with years ago. When we had met she was so bright, everyone smiled when she entered the room. You couldn’t help but feel uplifted when she interacted with you. It was like trying not to squeal with delight at a bunch of puppies.
She was spontaneous, always up to try something new. Brand new restaurant? She was the first in no matter how experimental the menu was. You said you were bored? She would pull your to the car and take off for some destination that no one had ever knew existed.
Now she just moved because she had to. She ate because she couldn’t live without food. She barely spoke and when she did her tone was devoid of anything resembling life and vitality.
We came up to a tree lined path. I moved down the path, maybe cause of the shade? Maybe because it didn’t matter what way we moved as long as we moved? In the middle sat an old womb knitting a red sweater on a bench. She was very concentrated on her work. Never did she look up or move her eyes from her work. I wondered if she knew where she sat.
As we got closer I felt a hard tug on my hand. Inch by inch it got more and more difficult to move forward while still attached to my wife. We were feet from the woman now and I felt as if I was pulling dead weight behind me.
My heart sped up, pounding inside my chest so hard I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bruise there tomorrow. It had happened. I had tried so hard to save her but I had failed. She was gone. I was going turn around to find a crumple heap of what once had been an alive and beautiful woman at my feet.
I tasted the salt from my tears sneak past my lips and my chest got so tight it was almost impossible to breathe. I had to turn around and see. See what had become of the woman I had once loved beyond my own life.
I held my breath and turned around.
I knew they were going to come to the park. Parks were neutral zones to talk. A place full of life that moved on despite your issues. Here your problems meant nothing to the trees, flowers and breeze. Here your problems felt insignificant and meaningless, making it easier to deal with whatever was hurting you.
I scratched at the high collar chocking me. I hated this disguise. Old women were always treated either with pity or sickly sweet kindness. Neither emotion was ever real, just done because it was expected. I hated that. Doing something because the world expected it made me fidget, it was irritating like a mosquito in your ear.
I have no idea how to knit. My hands were just moving back and forth and around in a circle. If anyone glimpsed the real me they would see a huge knotted ball on my lap, a tangled mess so bad it was pointless to try to save the yarn. To the world though I was on my way to creating the perfect sweater.
I felt them enter the park and went on alert. I had to watch for when they got close then I could get this party started. They rounded a corner and it was showtime.
The wife walked by placing one foot directly in front of the other, like it was her first time on two legs. She didn’t glance around her. Her eyes just stared at the back of her husband. Without her husband she would have walked into a pole or fallen on her face by now. She had no idea where she was. Her eyes were open but she wasn’t see a thing.
He was two steps ahead of her. He was pulling her along like a disobedient child. He never looked back at her, never said a word. Just desperately kept forcing her to move forward. I doubt he had a real destination in mind, he just wanted to move forward. Forward had the solution.
He was right this time. I whispered softly and her feet stopped completely. She wouldn’t be moving again for a moment. He got to the end of her arm and took a step backward at the resistance. I let him ponder what it meant for a moment. Gave him a look at his biggest fear in bright color; finding a wounded woman in a mess on the ground behind him. Then I forced him to turn around.
Now they were face to face. He saw she was still standing and she saw the utter relief and love covering his face. He raced forward and gathered her in his arms. I released her and let her melt into his safe embrace.
I put the “knitting,” away and dusted off my hands. Another job well done for me. I knew patting myself on the back wasn’t humble but I didn’t care. Everyone thought cupid was only around to spark love. I thought did a pretty damn good job keeping the spark alive as well, thank you very much.