Today it’s #FridayFlash time, and here is a 120-word piece, entitled Ritual:
Andy wakes up, a quick dash to the bathroom, toothbrush, cold water on his face, then back. Wardrobe opens, slick suit out and on. Business swoosh though bedroom. Therefore, inappropriate.
Margaret flips the eggs, flops them in the plate. Juice in the glass, ice cubes rattle. Soft sounds and smells of the kitchen. Totally suitable.
Suddenly, the building is rocked by the shock of the waterjets attacking it. No, no waterjets, they are waves. The word is tsunami, the cause is earthquake deep in the ocean, far off shore. So many small items crashed, floating, broken, floating through kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms. Floating. People scream, float, fight the stream, float, get lost.
Sounds, smells, movements – all in strict observance of their ritual.
Today is Friday, and one of my blog themes for this day of the week is Flash Fiction. Here is a topic I took from a prompt back in September. It was to write a six-word story, but you know limitations and conditions are “more like guidelines than actual rules”, as Captain Barbossa once said. So, here is my
Story about a Found Key Amshar’s heart burnt. His passionate love of his mother and the determination to find a cure for her illness set his course. He left home at 16. The priest promised to guard his mom from the evil spirits until Amshar’s return. One night, he couldn’t go further. Dropping to the ground, he hardly had the power to pull his carpet out and lay it down under a great tree. The dark branches whispered ingratiatingly above, so Amshar leaned against its trunk. When he touched the ground, something small and hard poked his left hand. Hardly seeing in the dark, Amshar realised it’s a key! Every key belongs to a key-hole in a door somewhere. Filled with hope, the boy clutched the cold object and closed his eyes. When he woke, it was still night. Standing up to move his numb legs, Amshar circled around the tree and saw the door in the bark on its other side. A door! His heart almost stopped stopped and Amshar held his breath fumbling the key until he almost dropped it in the thick grass. It fit and clicked lightly. The door opened. What he saw on the other side made him freeze.
His sick mother lay on a bed near a window, and a fire burned at the far end of the room. The village priest stood up from a low stool in front of the fire and moved towards him with a beastly flame in his eye and agile step.
The air around them stirred and everything dissolved in mist.
Jane got used to the darkness very slowly. She didn’t want to participate in this joke, as they called it. Yet, she had no choice. Now that things had gone too far, Jane couldn’t see how she could escape with both her reputation and dignity unbruised. She moved her stiffened fingers and felt dumb pain from pressing them too hard to the door handle. Working in a kitchen had never been her dream job, but even that seemed like a sweet paradisical world compared to the haggard reality of the moment.
“Jim,” she mumbled carefully. Then, more boldly, “Jim, are you there? Unlock the door already.”
No answer came from the other side. The radio unit cracked softly and went completely silent. Another day passed, then another night. Jane awoke to the cold truth that no one would hear her knocks and cries. Being found by chance now was an outcome that entertained a very thin chance.
I haven’t written for 3WW for a long time. Here are the 3 Words for Wednesday, last week – Wasteful, Addicted, Bruise. This time I felt like a flashy.
Wasteful – Addicted – Bruise “If you’re wasteful in your habits, your body’ll get addicted to bruises.”
A board with that slogan on it hanged on the wall just over the blackboard in our classroom. For four years my eyes fixed on it when looking up. I grew so accustomed to the words that I lost all sense of their meaning. Which, at first, I couldn’t understand. I read and read, but I didn’t see the logic and the idea behind them. Then, one winter morning, we all got the message in a clear crispy tone. Three of our schoolmates were on the sports playground, in their underpants only, bodies bruised badly, heads hanging in utter shame. Large cardboard signs hanged on their necks, and on them one could read: “Wasteful, ergo bruised.” The trick of the remaining years at the school was to keep from getting addicted.
For the 215th Wordle by Sunday Whirl: /organs tower money poor pond friends cell dna teeth signal bridge skirt/
I didn’t write a poem. As you see.
*** Shine had her mother’s DNA in her cells. She knew it well, it hurt. All her mother’s organs had collapsed and defaulted by her 45th year due to the booze and pills, and all the unknown substances she took. Herteeth decayed as early as her 25th year, while Shine was still a little girl. In fact, didn’t have a memory of good teeth in her mother’s mouth.
The tower where all poor and diseased people had to go was leaning over the pond ready to fall. No one had friends and no one would signal the outer world about the things that happened there. You needed money to cross the bridge backto your previous life.
Shine put on her best skirt and a new shirt and went out of the flat.
(c) 2015, MK
You see, the consequences were grim! I work at the railway station, the central one. There I have to take care of various things as arrivals and departures, but not about schedules or communications, what the complicated females at the office do. I am responsible for the real, physical trains that come into and leave our station.
So, one morning I came late. That was the minor trouble, as I came in drunk. Maybe I wasn’t too drunk, but I had been drinking all night with Heavy-Metal friends and the 4am shift came a bit early for me.
Uhm, I was at the station at about 5 am. That is early enough, considering only few trains move at that time. Besides the night shift had stayed longer to cover me. All in all, things promised to come right, when at about 10am I felt very sleepy.
There were two things I had to do that day: mind my work and take my son from school to his theatre practice. I am divorced and enjoy certain days to see my child. “Enjoy” is a word my lawyer taught me. “It shows enthusiasm,” he says. As he knows better, I agree. After all, he has studied for 17 years, as he quotes so often, while I had trouble completing 10th grade out of 11 necessary to obtain high education diploma. I doubt it my lawyer can make it on the street, or at the railway station as I do, but in court he is the boss.
The part about my lawyer is too long. He is of no importance to my story. I needed to mind my work and take my son from school to theatre practice.
The first thing didn’t come right at all. At about 10am when I started to feel weirdly sleepy, I had to lead a train into the station by redirecting the rails. My colleagues tell me they found me head over the switch board, pressing the lever with my heavy forehead. Sadly, there is no one working with me in the direction cabin at the remote end of the station. That way, my fellow could have seen me drop my head and could have saved the day.
That started a whole series of complications. Police needed to get to the spot, also the Railway Authorities. After all, an entire train had derailed and crashed! I was so lucky there were no lives lost. I may be a drunkard and generally no good, but I won’t take a life on my slate!
Amidst all the hustle, I was asked to step out of my duties, hand over the “representations of my office” – they called the baton and the red head-piece I was wearing that. All in all, I was at a loss. True, I was street wise, but that sort of administration clamour had never occurred to me. I felt I was not apt for the challenge. Best of all, I yearned to be left alone to take a healthy nap on the sofa in my high-air cabin.
So much so, that I forgot all about my son. The official held me at the station till after dusk and then a colleague drove me home, I was so shaken. When I stood in front of the door, I saw my son asleep on the door mat there. His mother had left us, so she wouldn’t have known.
“No theatre practice today, ha, son?” I asked, guilty in my heart.
“No, Dad.” he said humbly. “Today was the final rehearsal. We stage the play on Sunday. Will you come?”
I heard the hope in his voice, the hope not all has been lost. Youth’s foolishness, I thought, as I slammed the door and yelled, “When do you plan to do the dishes?”
There you have it – The Light At The End Of The Tunnel prompt for a flashy. How would I miss the opportunity to have a twist of irony with that topic? No way, of course.
THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNEL
Believe it, or not, I was ready to die. All of a sudden, death did not appear as scary or impossible anymore. I was ready, no, I was willing to embrace it. All the small things that had formed my small joys were gone, and the idea of not seeing the sun tomorrow, had simply expired.
How is that possible, one would ask. Is not the human being one that never loses hope or the love of life? Is not that the reason humans are at the top of all reasonable creation?
I don’t have an answer for that. I just know that I was indifferent to life, I cared not. To be honest, I was indifferent to death as well. It was not attractive in any way, moreover so, as the experience was entirely unknown to me. The downright truth was that I did not care. For the moment, death meant escape from life. Life had become a nuisance, a dark pit of losses and failures, from which I would rather break out. Since I had no power to struggle anymore and I had no faith that my struggles could bring about a life any different from the one that lead me here.
Then I spotted that vague light area far ahead. I blinked once or twice to make sure I can see it correctly. There it was. A very dim and unclear dot, not disappearing. I must have reached the bottom, I reckoned, if that is the light at the end of the tunnel. I have never believed one could see such a thing. I must be at the end of my tether, indeed. Once I had swallowed the bitter realization that I have nothing to live for, I started thinking what to do about this light. I mean, if I see it, am I supposed to undertake any particular piece of action? Do I need to feel hopeful again, resurrect my expectations, my will to fight, or was the light going to do something for me?
“Good evening.” A sharp voice stated ahead of me.
“Good evening.” said I not sure what to think.
“We are sorry to announce that due to recent huge spendings, we are forced to turn off the light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks for your hopes and have a happy afterwards!”
So… I blinked a couple of confused blinks. Huge spendings, I thought. Suddenly I didn’t feel like giving up. Curiosity overwhelmed me, as I headed towards the place where that voice sounded a moment ago.
I am already so hungry that it seems to me my hunger has eaten the colour vision from my mind. I close my eyes for a second and when I open them, the whole world around isblack and white. Not that there is anything attractive to be seen in colours. Bare rock, a solitary fir tree emerging from a crack in the rock, some shrubs… And more rocks.
Wherever I turn my eyes, I see rocks. And cracks where something grows. How come only prickly things grow in these cracks? Why not soft fern to pick and make into a mattress? Why firs? The rock is too hard already, no need for more.
The sky is also black and white. Predominantly white, of course, with a cloud or two here and there. Yet, something is weird in this black-and-white picture. I feel as if everything shines with intense brightness and I have to close my eyes for a while. Then I lose my balance and swing slightly from side to side. “That must be me starving”, I think. Hoping to restore both my balance and my colour vision, I make an effort to open my eyes.
I believe I manage. My head grows heavy all of a sudden and it hurts like hell. “Could’ve brought some aspirin, too”, I think, “in addition to food.” Still, I am able to see. Colour has not come back, though. Neither has balance, so I slump down like a bag. There is no pain. I am sure the rock is not smooth at all. Yet, it isn’t hard either. It simply is. So, I begin to crawl towards the edge of the rock, past the fir tree. I want to see what is beyond.
The brightness of the sky maddens me. I think I can see metal blades flash here and there moving in the ruthless sunlight. Nothing moves in the scene. I crawl and I bump against something. I raise my hand in the air at my eyes’ level, push and press something there. Only, I can’t see it. Perhaps hunger has eaten more from my mind, and I can’t remember what, because it has been eaten off. That idea is scary. Looking into the large crack just beneath my nose I see a glittering speck. “What is it?” my mind trembles with lame excitement. The crack is wide enough for my arm, so I fish inside without fear of the unknown darkness below.
My fingers touch something smooth, feels glossy. Will I be able to grab at the thing and fish it back to the surface, or just like in a cheap movie I’ll be struggling to get to it? The crack is spacious and I push deeper, until I feel the glossy thing reach my palm. Then I grasp. And pull up.
It is a colourful piece of foil, the empty wrap of a tasty, nourishing waffle. I can still see chocolate dots on the silver inside. My empty stomach howls in despair. Would a wolf eat that? I am musing. Perhaps it will.
Wait a minute! I stop and look at the foil wrap again. Now-wait-a-mi-nute! It is colourful. So, I have my colour vision alright. I look around. Everything is still black and white. Then some motion attracts my eyes. Just beyond the rock edge, where I bumped into the invisible something, I saw something move. I thrust myself in that direction. That is not exactly a fast move, because I have no power left in me. But, somehow, I reach the invisible wall and press my face against it.
Now I begin to see more clearly. I can see a large hall on the other side, merging with the bare rocks and the brightness of the black-and-white sky. In that hall, there are people – I can see them a lot better now, walking in twos, or in threes, children hopping from show-case to show-case. I see other glass cases like the one I’m in, with other objects inside. A small face presses against the glass wall, just opposite mine. We look at each other not breathing. I don’t know whose shock is greater.
I hit my fist against the window case and say with a fierce grimace and bare teeth: “Bring the food, or I’ll come out and eat you, child!”
Hi, there! Wondering how many more bottles of Jacks I have to dry to keep this mailer thing going… And nobody coming to the rescue, either. Ah, sorry if my speech is broken, it’s all the Tennessee stuff I been gulping lately. Speech, did I say? Meaning spellin, I was. Wait til I get sober.
OK, ignore the above. I mean the mistakes. Otherwise the message is correct. I’m stranded here, no one’s coming to take me away. This is my 24th message and they are all nearly identical. First I lay on the beach all day, but then I got hungry. Not very clever of me, as I didn’t have any power to swim to the ship. Then night came and I was still wondering what to do. Hunger kept sleep away. Next day I felt indifferent, so I managed to get to the boat. All I got was a casket of smoked meat and several caskets of Jack Daniels’ bottles, full of the original stuff, as far as I can judge. Oh, I also found the ship’s log. Our captain was not very diligent, it seems. I read all and couldn’t recognize a thing. And I am supposed to have been onboard there, you know. Maybe this log holds the records of his parallel world sailing, I don’t know. I believe all that whisky was for him alone. Well, it’s mine now. Or, rather, it WAS mine, as this is the last bottle I’m using to mail this. Still got lots of paper, though. Not using it much. No need for paper here… Nope. None whatsoever.
So, somebody, anybody, just please, do bother yourself/ves and come over here to ship me away. This piece of goods is ready for free shipping. Come before it gets stale and unfit for use or whatever.
Yeah, “whatever”! That’s the word that’s been plaguing me all around.
Maroon, or Moron (I don’t really remember now – ocean water washed some of it away)
falling off that great height, she remembered the day she had promised herself to keep a diary and put down brief notes and ideas. so useless a memory. not even worth the mention.
Directly from the mind oven comes the hot-hot-hot Mention Monday blog post:
Today being Monday, I feel like mentioning that my primary career is EFL/Eng Lit teacher and En>Bul>En translator. For years my teaching earned my living. Then I switched to full-time sworn translating and private part-time teaching. Sworn translations are not that fun as people imagine. They are boring, for the most part. A lot of uneducated translators out there, too. As in every profession, I guess. All along I translated fiction as a hobby. Applied to work for several publishers. Unfortunately, no answer came. One publisher sent me a test text and then all was quiet. I enquired, they said they had no answer from the editor/proofreader yet. And that was it. The other publishers didn’t even make the effort to re- to my mails. Then I started poeming a lot! That made me very happy and found me some new poetic friends. We started communicating over various social networks. Step by step, I became part of a supportive community. People would come by my blog, read some of my poems and comment. A good thing about that is, that only people who like the poem they read, leave a comment. Whenever the reader doesn’t like the poem, they simply move away. Of course, the small number of visitors and comments made it clear that what I write is not widely-liked. Somewhere along that social networking road I got the idea to try my hand in novel-writing. It made me happy and enthusiastic. It developed better than expected. I came up with an idea for a second novel, and that happened even better than the first one. Somewhere along the road, however, I got involved in tighter communities and suddenly, unperceivably to me, writing was not as thrilling and fulfilling as before. I got into some sort of self-imagined race to submit and seek approval and recognition. I always do things for recognition. My very small audience has always made me feel not good enough. Official rejection from 8 of the 10 places where I submitted (1 response still pending) and an opinion for my second novel-like text simply crashed me. Thus, two days from the day I heard two haiku of mine were published online, I felt very low. I suddenly realized writing makes me miserable. Not finding good work, that I think will make me feel better, just added to my downcast mood. All the pressure at University, where I take endless exams and write numerous assignments, doesn’t help the situation, either. The depressing aspect of that is that I might be an excellent student (as usual), but my prospects are close to null, all due to lack of connections. I have noticed that I only get accepted to places no one else is interested in, or places that don’t pay, which is usually the same thing here.
And finally, because Brevity is the soul of wit, have a bite at those Mention Monday 6 words that describe my life right now: