Volume 1 Issue 31

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When I was a kid, there were abandoned houses scattered throughout the woods surrounding our house. Most were forsaken when the head of a family died and the remaining children had no interest in living in the sticks. Eventually, the houses would be ransacked and occasionally attract squatters but there was one house that managed to escape such a fate. It was a small concrete block house, built by distant relatives on a front lot of some less distant relatives.

They were quiet people and had one child. They built a dock and hung a tire swing and sent their child to the local school on the yellow school bus with all of his varying degrees of cousins. One day though, he came home sick from school and he never left his bed again. It was a long, harrowing illness and in the end, he was buried in the family cemetery a mile down the two-lane road that ran in front of their house.

Their loss was devastating. One night, they simply got in their car and never returned. People assumed they would come back once they were finished grieving but they did not. Perhaps they never finished grieving. Regardless, the little block house they had abandoned just stood there on the side of the road, filled with furniture and clothes, toys and cutlery. For some reason, no one ever ransacked it, even though the door was unlocked. No one ever squatted there either, despite the comfortable furnishings.

On my twelfth birthday, I had some friends over for a slumber party. I am a late September baby so when they arrived in the afternoon, we had quite a few hours of daylight to kill before it was dark enough for horror movies and pizza. My best friend at the time suggested that we go to the little block house, having heard it was haunted. I protested, said we would get in trouble, and she taunted me by calling me Miss Pretty Pure. Of course, I relented and made a point of leading the way. I hated being called Miss Pretty Pure and she knew it.

Stepping into the house was like stepping into a time capsule. Everything was olive green, yellow, and orange- the tell-tale colors of the seventies. The shag carpet, the flower print on the walls, the rough velour armchairs: all details were bought before any of us intruders were even born. There was an odd juxtaposition of cleanliness and vines, thorny rambling vines that we had to avoid in order to explore the six rooms of the place.

All the interior doors were open except one and this was the one I was commanded to open by my friends. I knew it was the boy’s bedroom, the place where he had exhaled his last breath. There was a sticker of a baseball in the middle of the door with the name Scott written across it. Little Scotty is what everyone called him.

I took a breath, walked down the hall and opened the door. His room was small but welcoming with fading sunlight streaming in through sun-bleached blue plaid curtains. There was a bookcase with a row of dusty little league trophies and a stack of curling comic books by the bed. On the bed was a yellow chenille bedspread and underneath it, for just a second, was Scott. He looked at me then closed his eyes and vanished. I did not jump because I was not scared. Instead, I just stepped back into the hallway and shut the door.

“We shouldn’t be here,” I said firmly and walked through the living room to the front door, giving no opportunity for taunting. I understood now why the house had been abandoned, why it was left as it was. I think we all understood for no one said a single word until we were in my backyard where my family was waiting for us with a cake and a stack of takeout pizzas. Scott had never seen twelve candles on a cake for him. This is what I was thinking as I blew them out, forgetting to make my wish. He was forever eleven and that was more haunting than the apparition.

The house is gone now, of course, along with the trees and palmettos and cousins. The family cemetery remains though with no one around to maintain it you can hardly see it from the road anymore. And as for Little Scotty, I am not sure what happened to him when they threw away his sick bed, his row of trophies and stack of comic books. Perhaps he is still there somehow but I know he is also here, in my memory forever. Little Scotty, my very first ghost.



And yes, that was a true story, or as true as a story can be when based on a twenty-seven-year-old memory. Isn’t that the way with haunted houses, that the ghosts are never as chilling as the truths of the living? More than the actual spirit, I remember the kitchen and the two cups sitting by the sink, white with a bold yellow stripe running around the middle. The disappearance of his parents breaks my heart even now, especially since I have an eleven-year-old, soon to be twelve-year-old, of my own.

This week, we have five tales of five different types of hauntings from contributors Kelli J Gavin, Sunil Sharma, Louis Kasatkin, Jean Wolfersteig, and Debjani Mukherjee. Very diverse in content but the common thread these five stories share is that ghosts take on all sorts of forms and can haunt a heart just as readily as a house.




The House Isn’t Haunted Anymore
Kelli J Gavin

He always knew it would be this way.  He spent six amazing months falling over every word she said.  He couldn’t get enough of her. Up late at night talking about all that they desired in the future. They spoke of past hurt and pain, the joy they experienced with each other and what they wanted from each other.  Every moment of every day, if he wasn’t with her, he wanted to be. He thought of her touch, the curve of her lip, the way she smiled when she caught his eye. He may have felt from the beginning that he loved her more. More than she loved him.  He was enamored with her. She may have cared for him, possibly even been entertained by him, but he never felt that she actually loved him. She was almost too good to true. She wasn’t particularly beautiful by today’s standards. Her hair didn’t shine. Her eyes didn’t glint in the sun. But she was funny, carefree and passionate.  She never did anything she didn’t want to do and she was good at everything.

When she left, she hugged him. Only a hug. Not a kiss, not a tight embrace, not a proclamation of another time and another place.  A hug. A simple meeting of bodies. She smiled yet her attention seemed elsewhere. Almost as if the act of saying goodbye to him was a chore and not voluntary. He tried to catch her eye to see if there was something more going on.  She wouldn’t look at him. She wouldn’t look into his blue eyes. Maybe she couldn’t. He wondered if she would have stayed if he had met her eye.

She now had been gone just as long as they had been together.  Six months together, now six months apart. He was convinced the home that they shared was haunted, mostly by her absence.  Little reminders of days gone by. An earring found under the bed. A whiff of her perfume even when he was home alone. He admired the way she folded the pillowcases in the linen closet. But then hated it at the same time.  He threw them on the floor and didn’t want to deal with the perfect folds at that time. Why did they have so many pillowcases? He found himself ordering pizza the way she liked it, then changed the order to something she would have turned her nose up at. He believed he could hear her humming when he came in from work each evening. He would stand in the dark back entryway of the home they shared and pray, that she would be there this time. She never was.

He wondered if there would ever be a time he could say, that it didn’t hurt so much. He prayed there would be a day when the house that they shared wasn’t haunted by her anymore.


Bio:

Kelli J Gavin lives in Carver, Minnesota with Josh, her husband of an obscene amount of years and they have two crazy kids. She is a Writer, Professional Organizer and owns Home & Life Organization and a small Jewelry Company.  Look for Kelli’s first book of short stories and poems in 2019. You can find her work with The Ugly Writers, Sweatpants & Coffee, Writing In a Woman’s Voice, The Writers Newsletter, Writers Unite!, Academy of the Heart and Mind, The Rye Whiskey Review, Spillwords, Mercurial Stories, 121 Words, Hickory Stump, HerStry, Ariel Chart, The Basil O’Flaherty, PPP Ezine, Southwest Media, Otherwise Engaged, Pleather Skin, Paper.Li, The New Ink Review, among others.                                                                                                                                                                   Find Kelli on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @KelliJGavin

Blog found at kellijgavin.blogspot.com



 

The Ghost of R. Kipling
Sunil Sharma

Grandpa was a great storyteller. Here is his favorite:

In Shimla, I came across a hotel with a large sign: Discover history.

—What is the historic thing? I asked the portly owner, Wilson, the last Anglo-Indian family left.

—The Kiplings used to stay here in summers. We rebuilt the property. The Raj connection.

—Rudyard Kipling?

—Yes.

—Why demolition?

—It was in ruins. Remodeled the old colonial-style bungalow. Kipling enthusiasts visit us for that feel.

—OK.

The city was crowded with tourists. All hotels were full except this one, despite its good location, tranquility, nice garden and cheap tariffs.

Puzzling!

After checking in, I had this sudden creepy sense— of being watched by an unseen figure.

Spooky!

Never believed in the post-industrial mythology of haunting but something was definitely odd.

What was that?

I could not figure it out.

The answer arrived soon.

.

After a light dinner, smoke and stroll, I went to my corner room for the night.

And discovered R Kipling sitting in the chair, as a special guest!

Wanted to scream!

The author commanded serenely: Welcome to this encounter of a different dimension.

—Thanks. Why this conversation at this unearthly hour? I asked.

—You taught me for long.

I nodded.

—Chance brought you this place. The adepts are chosen for such Shakespearean trysts.

I smiled: Or Dickensian. Real haunting?

Rudyard: Writers never die. They get reborn. Resurrected by readers.

—Yes. I confirmed.

—Once you wanted to probe me. Go ahead.

I paused and then said: Yes, I do want to question you.

—Please do.

—Why did you paint the natives badly? The binary of whiteness and darkness? Civilized and savage? So predictable and overstretched. This supposed racial superiority of the West! Apes in need of salvation and light?

—Is it so? Give me the lines, angry post-colonial reader.

—Sure. I quote from that pathetic apology to imperialism, called “The White Man’s Burden”:

Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
The savage wars of peace….

The ghost replied: What is wrong with that paean to the West and its civilization?

—Why not a Caliban in this insidious text? Counterfoil and argument?

—His trace is there.

—Very weak, in fact.

—Not everybody is Shakespeare. Besides, the age of empire is over.

—Sorry! The neo-imperialism is back and you are their latest icon.

He was mum.

I observed: Writers are either a presence or a specter. You have become a ghost that haunts the West and the East. Things change. The sullen peoples rising up against the empires everywhere. Half- devils against the full devils!

Silence.

—The country of your birth represented so poorly! Disgusting racialism!

He remained quiet.

—Savage wars, to be reversed. Retold. We reclaim, re-write R. Kipling!

He turned paler and then….

End it your way, reader!


Bio:

Sunil Sharma is Mumbai-based senior academic, critic, literary editor and author with 19 published books: Six collections of poetry; two of short fiction; one novel; a critical study of the novel, and, eight joint anthologies on prose, poetry and criticism, and, one joint poetry collection. He is a recipient of the UK-based Destiny Poets’ inaugural Poet of the Year award—2012. His poems were published in the prestigious UN project: Happiness: The Delight-Tree: An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry, in the year 2015.

Sunil edits the English section of the monthly bilingual journal Setu published from Pittsburgh, USA:

http://www.setumag.com/p/setu-home.html

For more details, please visit the blog:

http://www.drsunilsharma.blogspot.in/



Les Autres
Louis Kasatkin

The unexplained disappearance of the reclusive author had never been properly investigated, at least not to the satisfaction of his fans, his readers and most of all his adopted son, the wannabe reporter on the local rag.
For years this state of dissatisfaction festered amongst the interested parties, who if nothing else managed to commemorate the renowned scribbler’s vanishment with an annual pilgrimage of sorts.
Then one year with the weather being particularly inclement, even for the usually desolate Scottish lochs, only the reporter had made it to the venue, the deserted house. Whereupon finding himself alone resolved in an instant to make a foray into the abandoned domicile to perhaps in his own mind satisfy an unquenchable curiosity.
Nothing actually came of that quixotic foray, nothing that is apart from a chance discovery, in the drawer of an antique dresser of a manuscript.
A suicide note perhaps? maybe not. A last will and testament? no one, however, questioned its authenticity when it was scanned and reproduced in the local weekly under the adopted son’s byline. The absent author alluded to his own ineluctable disappearance in the form of a poem. Simply perhaps to add to whatever mystery was bound to ensue from his vanishment.

When winter’s cadence sounds,
burn their pictures
the photographs of the dead
burn them,
so that they shan’t
trouble you again
when winter’s cadence sounds;

the gardens are shrouded
in snow
upon which no earthly foot
will fall,
and the door chimes dormant
hang suspended by a thread
of your own disbelief;

an imperceptible menace
waiting for a breath,
a snap of cold winter’s
air to cut the thread
and send it crashing,

crashing onto the floor,
where you shan’t hear it
except in your imagination’s
ear firmly fixed on the
sound of winter’s cadence.


Bio:

Louis Kasatkin is Founder of the renowned U.K.based Destiny Poets and Editorial Administrator of http://www.destinypoets.co.uk. Other than that Louis is an inveterate blogger and polemicist, local community activist and has been described as a general nuisance to the status quo. The rest you can google for yourselves.



 

I MOVED
Jean Wolfersteig

You woke me in the middle of the night in my last year of college. Standing at the bottom of my bed – tall and blue with a bandage circling your head like a turban – you looked so real I thought I’d left the back door open. Then, you faded away. In the days that followed, I found the shower running, doors wide open, and knick-knacks rearranged when I returned home from my classes. The house was built in the 1800s, and no doubt its bones ached with some tragedy. I imagined you were angry you’d been seen.

I moved

to a trailer on the other side of the county where I’d found a job. I relocated from a liberal college town to a rural hamlet to work at the local psychiatric hospital. It was a huge culture shock. Woefully, when I came home at night, the doors I’d locked in the morning were open, the shower running, the knick-knacks shuffled. I realized you’d moved with me. I went on vacation. The landlord found the doors open, the shower running – and fifteen hundred feet of telephone wire missing from beneath the trailer. There was a cemetery across the street. What did you have in mind?

I moved

to a tiny house on a hill with a bathroom bigger than the bedroom, living room, and kitchen combined. I lived there happily for a few months. All was quiet. I thought you’d found your place in that cemetery and finally left me to my own life. Until one night while I was sound asleep in the darkened room, my cat flew through the air, screaming and scratching at my arms and face. The air was heavy and drenched in evil. I hurried outside and waited on the stoop for the sun to rise. The cat took off for good.

I moved

to an SRO at the psychiatric hospital where I worked. It was a strange place to live. Long hallways lined with single rooms and communal bathrooms, occupied by poor people doing shift work. Food service workers. Housekeepers. Ward staff. Cooking meals illegally on single burners in their rooms. Buying and selling drugs in the common areas. Telling stories about crazy people. Trying to feel better off than patients, as if they weren’t imprisoned, too. I kept to myself. Ate packaged soup and crackers. Showered while others were not around. Read. Went to work. I couldn’t feel you anywhere. I supposed I’d finally found a place to live where you didn’t feel welcome. But neither did I.

I moved

to a lovely little house in another town, less isolated, more tolerant. Almost perfect. No more anxieties about fitting in. No more worries about your ghostly presence. But something isn’t right. The air goes cold, ruffling the hair on my arms and the back of my neck. And there’s a bad smell in my shower drain, like ammonia and rotten eggs.

Maybe it isn’t the house that’s haunted.


Bio:

Jean Wolfersteig retired as CEO of a psychiatric hospital in upstate New York and turned to writing fiction and teaching yoga. She is currently looking for a home for her novel, The Room Where the Elephants Go to Die. Her short fiction has appeared in the Akashic Books Mondays Are Murder and Duppy Thursday series and will soon appear in their Fri Sci-Fi series. She lives in the Mid-Hudson Valley, and, in the tradition of her beloved Catskill Mountains, thrives on ghost stories.



Haunted House
Debjani Mukherjee

Titli kept running up and down through the spiral stairs of her new house. She just loved her new house. Before they used to stay in a flat where there was hardly any place to play but here in this big house with so many rooms Titli is very happy to fly around. One by one she checked all the rooms and selected the one in the southwest corner of the house, the one which has the biggest window of all, opening to the garden.

The whole day went in unpacking. Her parents took the room at the opposite side of the long hallway joining both the rooms at both ends. Titli unpacked all her toys and arranged them on the shelves beside the bed. Put all her clothes in the closet and arranged her little bed with a pink bed sheet. And then she hopped to the garden. She just loved the garden with so many trees. In Kolkata, there were very little trees planted only by the side of their building but here she got a whole garden to play in. She was no more sad about leaving her friends in Kolkata. She actually started loving her dad’s transfer here.

After dinner, Titli kissed her parents good night and went to her room. The big jalousie wooden window on the garden side was kept open. Titli slipped in her bed but couldn’t sleep. This was her first day in the house so she felt a little uneasy. She went to the window and closed it as she was unfamiliar with the solid darkness of the countryside. She didn’t remember when she fell asleep but woke up in the middle of the night by a whistling sound. It was coming from the garden. Titli tried to sleep ignoring it but the sound kept growing and after a while, it became so clear that she felt like it was coming just from the other side of the window.

She got afraid and hid her little body under the bed cover. But the sound kept growing even louder and this time she felt that it was coming right from under her bed. She shivered in fear and clutched the pillow hard pressing her face into it she wanted to call her parents but the room was too far and she knows her voice won’t reach to them. Suddenly the whistle stopped Titli slowly pulled down the cover from her head and looked around the room. There was no one in the room and just then the bed moved. Titli screamed like mad but no sound came out from her throat. She screamed again but only a silent gush of tears spilled through her eyes.

The bed stopped moving. She sat up on the bed bathed in her own sweat. Collecting courage she stooped down the bed to see what was there under the bed, but there was no one. She felt a little more courageous and stepped down the bed to run to her mother. She sprints to the door only to find it closed. She kept the handle twisting but couldn’t open it. She screamed in horror and banged the door vigorously but no sound came out at all. She felt her heart in her mouth and fell down on the floor and there it was written clearly with blood “Turn around I am just behind you.”


Bio:


Debjani Mukherjee
 is a MBA in applied management and also a poet and a writer. Her poems, short stories, and articles are published in several international anthologies and magazines.




 

Volume 1 Issue 27: The Voice

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It is a slightly disconcerting sight to watch a larynx at work. It reminds me of a sea urchin’s mouth instead of the feature that enables (some of) us to sing L’Orfeo. Consider how glistening vocal cords create sounds that our minds, upon receiving the vibrations, subjectively interpret as haunting or irritating, alluring or threatening. It is a rather bizarre but charming process.
The talented contributor Sunil Sharma came up with this week’s prompt and four writers responded: Sunil SharmaDebjani Mukherjee, Leslie Crigger, and KiraEach writer’s own ‘voice’ is distinct as well as the voices they write of in their respective stories. I hope you enjoy reading the stories and ‘hearing’ these unique voices as much as I did.

 



The Baritone
Sunil Sharma

Love and its obsessions.

Narcissus transfixed with his own image.

The new-millennium world is image-driven.

Nina Ganguly, too, adored images. At 30, she was a self-declared Alice in search of wonderland.

She did not have to wait long.

The Alice-moment arrived, on a Sunday afternoon, in an unexpected manner.

.

Nina got electrified by a voice on the podcast.

Transported.

Entranced by quality.

The voice was like the rumbling that convulses the earth.

Strange feel and texture: Akin to the wind whispering in a remote Alpine forest, on a crisp summer morning.

Divine!

She was overwhelmed by the tenor and intensity—and its ability to move the listener to the core, the way you get enraptured, watching the Everest summit, first time.

The masculine voice triggered some long-forgotten sensation.

Jouissance—blogged thus:

pure bliss this, like the first rain drumming on the corrugated sheets or tiles of the mud houses in the small village on the edge of the river…the big drops creating a symphony odd…the grey curtain travelling fast over the plain and the meadow, drenching the trees that dance in the strong wind…kids screaming in joy and splashing in the brown puddles, a woman singing a song in a Kolkata home, a child trying to capture the diamonds from the dark skies in outstretched hands and the manna sliding down the fingers, and, some death chant in a mourning family, the light-n-dark blending in that specific instance

She fell in love with it!

She went on playing the podcast and felt uplifted.

Every time, the baritone opened up secret passages inside a heart long suspected to be cold, clogged.

A lightness of being similar to listening to Zubin Mehta or viewing Mona Lisa.

.

The folksy song done in a soulful voice ran:

This spring I will not be home

I will miss the beauty and the splendor

Of a rural scene

That breeze

That murmuring of bees

And waters of the river

And the song of the fishermen

And toiling boatmen

I will miss out all these

And your smile and love

Stuck up in this city of concrete!

You ask me to return

But I cannot

There are huge debts to be paid

But remember sweet-heart

The moon unites me with you all.

.

It was a podcast made by a young researcher on a local tribe and their dying oral culture. In her intro, she had talked of a gifted singer who narrated the agony of the uprooted.

His name was Mehto. Sans surname.

Anonymous. Last time, she met the famished singer, he was admitted into a municipality hospital.

I lost him from there. Concluded the researcher.

Nina fell in love again, this time with a popular image—an obscure singer; impoverished worker; a homeless migrant, untraceable, in the big, bad city of commerce.

She could understand the dualism of art — the simultaneous presence and absence of the creator.

An unseen artist becoming real through a distinctive voice.


Bio:

Sunil Sharma is Mumbai-based senior academic, critic, literary editor and author with 19 published books: Six collections of poetry; two of short fiction; one novel; a critical study of the novel, and, eight joint anthologies on prose, poetry and criticism, and, one joint poetry collection. He is a recipient of the UK-based Destiny Poets’ inaugural Poet of the Year award—2012. His poems were published in the prestigious UN project: Happiness: The Delight-Tree: An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry, in the year 2015.

Sunil edits the English section of the monthly bilingual journal Setu published from Pittsburgh, USA:

http://www.setumag.com/p/setu-home.html

For more details, please visit the blog:

http://www.drsunilsharma.blogspot.in/



The Lost Poem
Debjani Mukherjee

The yellow streetlights flood the empty roads. The car is running on the chest of the sleepy city, playing hide and seek with light and shadows. It is a cold night outside the glass window, reflecting the series of yellow lights on its surface. Here and there, a few souls are sitting around the fire trying to cut the cold chilling their bones. Riddhi doesn’t know what they are discussing, nor can she guess; it may be life, it may be failures of the government or it may simply be bread and butter, who knows!! Who cares!!! Nowadays nobody cares beyond themselves; she doesn’t either or does she? Does her heart still beat? Still feel? Still cry for the cold growing on the bones of humanity? For a moment she wondered what would happen if she sat beside those men tonight? Spreading her hands to the fire, feeling the warmth inside her heart and asking them how are you? How is life?

But the car neither noticed the fire nor the people around it. The wheels kept rolling on the streets glimmering with halogens. She turned up the radio; the magnificent voice of Lata Ji singing the words of Gulzar. “There must be a road that will go to you from the bend of this lane” Her eyes are sleepy, the song ended and she changed the channel.
A lovely, soft feminine voice was rendering a poem. The beautifully expressed words were vibrating with life. Riddhi wanted to remember the poem but couldn’t except a few lines ….
“The heart knows the sun will again rise/ again the night will fade but it’s hard to keep forbearance till then/ what is this patience? Where could I get it from?/ no shop ever sell it though.”
It was R J Sayema with one of her daily poems. Riddhi’s heart grew sad: she lost a poem. A poem of which she couldn’t know the beginning, a poem of which she couldn’t remember the end. Just a few lines got embossed in the mind, keeping the hunger alive. She wanted to capture the poem in the pages of her diary but they were lost in the twilight of the road. Much like life, a little under your control, a little wayward like a wild horse. Riddhi took a deep breath in and looked outside the window. A moment she loved is now a moment she lost and on her bed tonight her heart will moan. Moan for the poem, moan for a love that she lost forever.


Bio:

Debjani Mukherjee is a MBA in applied management and also a poet and a writer. Her poems, short stories and articles are published in several international anthologies and magazines. 



A Gentle Voice
Lesley Crigger

Thoughts scatter like Skittles from an overturned Easter basket. Bright and dazzling, they spin and skitter out of control. The display of new thoughts entices the mind at first, but the stimulation approaches too quickly and becomes overwhelming. A cry escapes my puckered lips.

Shh, shh, shh.

The chant rolls in on a tide of molasses- calm, sweet. Her voice, the eye of my intellectual hurricane, wraps its soothing extensions around me, well before her arms do.

Her feet shuffle along the shag carpet creating a familiar pattern as the plush piles are parted with each step towards me. A tranquil ritual in its own right but the ceremony has just begun, and I match the pitter patter of her feet with soft whimpers.

 Shh, shh, shh.

She croons, to reassure me her presence. Silky arms dotted with the finest brown hair swoop in to rescue me from my bedchamber, a high-walled prison of sorts. The place of slumber is no match for the giantess. I nestle into her plump, predictable embrace. As she walks toward her throne, she continues the chant.

Shh, shh, shh.

A hint of stale milk lingers on the air. Anticipating my needs before I can, she lifts her shirt to allow me a deeper nuzzle into her chest. On a raft of lullabies, I drift past consciousness. Soothed by the greatest voice my infant ears will ever know- my mother’s.




I met you
Kira

Finally, I heard your voice.

I had known you for a year, and then suddenly realized I had never heard your voice before.

You, in turn, had never realized I had never told you my real name.

Before meeting you, I had frantically looked you up on every social media account I could find, looking for videos of you. Obsessed. Whether you would be talking, singing, screaming, it wouldn’t have mattered: I just wanted a sample of your voice. I wanted to feel like I had met you, before I really did.

You’re the only one I wanted to meet so badly.

Then, I got lucky. I was on holiday, and you asked me if I would be interested in spending a few days at your place. I brought a friend, in case you were a weirdo.

My friend and I got lost in the city, arrived late, and you came to pick us up. You tried to make conversation and were adorably awkward. I don’t remember any of it. All I remember is that you still didn’t know my name at the time. I didn’t correct you. It was okay to be someone else for a little longer.

We arrived at your apartment, were impressed by the space, the view, then settled in. At least, tried to. You wanted to lend us your printer, but it wouldn’t work. You had food delivered for us, but spilled some of it. You tried to heat something up in the microwave, but it wasn’t ready to cooperate. It shut down, never to function ever again.

I was so anxious to meet you, but this was my way out. In order to lighten up the atmosphere, I jokingly asked: “Well, I guess you haven’t been here in a while. Everything tends to explode around here?”

In an undertone, you answered: “Oh no, I blew up this microwave.”

To this day, it makes absolutely no sense. I still have no idea why, but those words still echo in my mind. Suddenly, the world stopped being white noise. I was left troubled for a while.

Interesting to think that such random words, with your deep, husky voice, could be mesmerizing. You managed to make blowing things up very appealing.

You were the best kind of weirdo I could ever imagine. My kind of weirdo.

Finally, I met you.


Bio:

Kira is a full-time dreamer who just started her journey as a writer. She aspires to make a difference to those who stopped seeing the beauty in this world.

www.jackofwriting.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/JackofWritingTrades



 

Volume 1 Issue 12: Addy

Sorry for the delay folks. There were some technical difficulties over here but finally they are resolved and the show can go on as planned. Thank you for your patience.

For this week’s unusual prompt, we had three contenders toss their stories into the ring. Deb Felio with her story Regarding Addy, Tim Clark’s story The Boxer, and my own piece (that ran over the word limit a bit but due to time constraints, I will just overlook my violation). Hope you enjoy our story adaptations.

——————————————————–

Regarding Addy
Debbie Felio

     It’s been fifteen years and I remember like it was yesterday. Isn’t that what everyone says? Like it was yesterday.
    He knew this day would come. He raised me for it. After Momi died and Dadi got too sick to fight anymore, he knew he had to make me tough. Even when Charcoal died. No tears. Just strong face. Just another loss. We both had so much dammed up. So much we never talked about. I hated him. And I loved him. And I needed him, and I hated that he needed me. I would hit at him and he would mock me. ‘Harder!’ he would shout. “Harder!” And I wanted to show him I could and would, and I was afraid I could and would.
    The first time he hid his medicine from me when he asked me to get him magic water, I hated he didn’t think I was big enough to know. And I spit my hate into his water and took it to him. He swallowed it. Everytime. He was that tough – to swallow up my hate. Did he know then it was also my fear?
     Distractions were short term solutions. Cartoons on the TV. Coloring. My collection of special bugs found in the house – each one named.  Watching Jody and Jessi next door outside. I was so alone. And I wouldn’t leave. Until that day.
     That day Charcoal died and I hit Dadi too hard and he needed magic water more than usual and we just looked hard at each other. And then.That.Tear. Coming down his cheek. We held each other tight. We both felt in each other what we knew.  And when he told me to go outside, I did. Jody and Jessi came up and we ran off together. I knew.

It was like it was yesterday.

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The Boxer
Tim Clark

“In the clearing stands a boxer,

And a fighter by his trade,

And he carries the reminders

Of every glove that laid him down

Or cut him till he cried out.”*
He could have been somebody, but, he never was. He left all of his hopes and dreams scattered in broken pieces lying in ratty gyms and smoky halls across the lower half of the country. His heart was broken, and failing. His dreams had died, and he would have joined them had it not been for her.

The only thing he had was the girl, she was his life and all he could give was the love he didn’t understand.  His daughter, his protected, his protector.

She had a curious touch, a nurturing spirit, and she cared for everything. Including the boxer. He saw the world in her eyes, and her gentleness. He could never understand what it meant, but it was his world.

The only gift he could give her was himself, and it was given freely. And the only thing she could give him was herself and she did. They shared a bond born of extreme poverty and nourished by need.

They lived off the food they could grow, the chickens they shared their shanty house with. She fed the chickens with the insects she caught, and she nourished her father best as she could. Calling on her own magic she would spit in the medicine power she mixed in his water. When you have nothing you try everything.

In the end he lost the fight but he waited battled long enough to teach the girl everything he could. He hoped it would be enough.
*The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel

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Magic Water
Tiffany Key

Addy had been awake since dawn, occupying herself as quietly as possible while her father slept in the other room. She always did her best but her coloring books became boring and there were only so many times she could watch Brutus punch Popeye across the forest before she lost her patience. She was laying on the floor in her torn tee-shirt and cut-off jean shorts, listening to the chickens peck the dirty brown carpet for food that was not there.
The laundry was washed and hung up on the walls where the framed paintings of flowers doubled as a clothesline. She rolled onto her side to watch her hissing cockroach make its way slowly over the carpet. Addy reached out and scooped it back into its jar, turning the ice-pick punctured lid shut. Returning it to its place amongst the jars of crickets and stick bugs on the top shelf of the closet, Addy went into the kitchen to feed the cat. Yesterday’s food was still in the bowl but she did not realize it until she had already opened the can. It had been raining all day yesterday so the cat had probably just been holed up somewhere, waiting it out. Looking out the window, she saw the neighborhood children playing in the mud, laughing. Addy watched them for a moment then realized it was late enough in the morning for her to wake her father.
She went to his room and gently pushed his broad back. His snoring continued. Addy looked at the picture he kept tucked into his vanity mirror: her father, strong, glistening, a boxer ready to fight. Behind her, he stirred, coughing himself awake. He was sweating from his dreams and looked around a little dazed, remembering his reality.
Addy, get me some magic water.
She ran to the kitchen where the dirty dishes from days and weeks before surrounded the sink. She ripped open the powered solution and poured it into the glass before filling it with tap water. Then she lovingly spat into the mixture before stirring, carrying it carefully back to him so as not to spill it.
She was watching the children again when her father called her to the backyard. There, curled up into a ball, was the cat. Its fur was spiky wet and at first Addy wondered why it had just laid there, sleeping out in the rain. Her father had a plastic garbage bag in his hand and was just about to pick the cat up when Addy figured out what was going on. The tears rose up in her eyes before she could stop them. Her father must have felt her weakness and turned to her.
No, we are not going to do that, he said.
Addy nodded, wanting to be stoic.
Good, now show me your strong face.
It was too much.
Addy shouted no then ran into the house, leaving her father to bag the cat on his own. As he dropped it into the garbage can, he noticed the three children digging in the mud, smiling and sharing makeshift shovels.
He walked inside and was immediately attacked by his daughter, who wore his gloves as if they were hers.
That’s it, he said, delighted she was dealing with her grief like a fighter, bring it. Who’s the man?
I’m the man! Addy punched him hard in the chest.
The pain was immediate. His lungs constricted and he fell back into the armchair.
Addy, go get me some magic water.
She was quicker this time but he still managed to pop two of his heart pills into his mouth before she returned. He did not want her to know that it took more than her spit and seltzer water to keep him alive.
He drank it quickly and felt his pulse return to normal, his lungs fill with air once again. Addy stood before him, eyes wide and glistening with tears.
She looked so much like her mother. It had been over a year already. He let the tears roll down his cheeks as he pulled his daughter close.
Later, when Addy went to join the children, she turned for a moment and looked back at him, uncertain. He just nodded and thought, go on. Go on, my girl.

No. 8: Parallel Lives: Stories

Sorry for the delayed post. It seems someone* at a particular university suggested to some students there that they participate in this week’s round of writing so unlike the usual three or four stories, I have thirteen for you.

It is fascinating to see how thirteen different writers can take the same prompt and create thirteen very different stories. I hope you will enjoy them all.

*Thank you.
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I’m Nobody Without You, or You, or Is It You?

Debbie Felio

  They say everyone has a twin – a doppelganger – somewhere in this world. You know, the reason you ask people, or they ask you, “Do I know you?” ( well, unless you’re at a bar, because there’s usually another reason they’re asking you that if you’re there – and that’s another story)  Have you met yours? I have wondered over the last 20 years if my doppelganger is a different person or did we age similarly. You know, like maybe my twin when I was in my twenties was a young Julia Roberts – okay this IS flash fiction so go along with me here – and now it’s Helen Mirren or Kathleen Bates or did it really change and maybe now more like Jaba the Hut? Of course, I have to use famous figures because if I used real possibilities like Sherry Feinstein or Michael O’ Hanlon you’re not going to be that interested.

  Do we recognize them when we see them? Or they see us? Because I’ve never heard of anyone recognizing seeing themselves in another person. Well, there’s that guy on the Progressive commercial but that would be like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory thinking people could mistake him for George Clooney or Bill Gates for that matter. And how far would that whole twin thing extend? Would it be like those long lost twins who were separated at birth and discover they have lived within 50 miles of each other all their lives and work at similar manufacturing plants and are married to women named Jo-Ann with no ‘e’ on the end – with kids – 2 boys and 2 girls. And are both Steeler fans and are on bowling teams. Parallel life with a real twin. But back to the doppelganger.

  Is there someone living my life out there? Close? But since I‘ve moved, did she? Or did I move because she did? Who’s in control? And has she had several careers and finally landed on writer? Or did it take me this long to catch up to where she has always been?  Does she have to travel to see her children or do they come around on their own?  Does she struggle with body image or is she comfortable and adorable in hers?

 I guess what I’m really wondering about this twin of mine that is living my life is, is she doing a better job of it? Oh, and does she look like Helen Mirren, too?

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Parallel Life
Connor Clark

Connor Clark could be the most normal person in the world.  I think he’s as normal as it gets.  He goes to school, he works, he lives the perfect life.  But underneath all that normal, he has a secret.  He’s a human shark.  Every night, he sneaks out, to the ocean, and transformers into his human-shark form.  He sets out on patrol.  He’s on the lookout for shark finners.  People who poach and over fish on sharks.  When he finds any poachers, he……he….does his thing.  He kills all the men who are aboard the ship, and he heals the dead sharks and sets them free back into the ocean.  The only reason why I know all this is because I saw him one time transforming.  He became the thing that he keeps secret from the world.   I care about him, but I fear that if I ask him about it, it’ll cause big problems.  I know he cares about sharks, so maybe that’s why he’s doing this.  I just hope that he knows what he’s doing.

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Eight Months, Three Days
Kayla Hofferth

Today was Iowa, last week was Minnesota. My dad is always leaving for work. He is always traveling far away. He got this job five years ago and he always travels for it. I know the truth though. I found out eight months and three days ago… I am keeping count… I don’t know why.

I was upstairs, and he was downstairs asleep. I saw his phone… I love going through his pictures of pictures from his travels I decided to go through his phone and look at them, I never go through them when he isn’t there, but I didn’t want to wake him up.

I was going through the Canada pictures again. I kept swiping and swiping… and then I saw it. A picture of a woman and a girl. The girl looked older than me, probably 21, the woman probably 40. I kept staring… I swiped again… My dad, looking at the camera, while holding the woman’s hand. Who is that? Who were they? Why did he look so happy?

I still question it to this day… Tomorrow will be eight months and four days… and I still haven’t told my mom.  

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Parallel Lives
Brianna Dingey

“It has been confirmed that on the morning of June 25th, 2009, King of Pop Michael Jackson was found dead in his home in Los Angeles due to drug overdose. We have very little information other than the confirmation at this moment, but more information will be revealed as we are given it. Please stay tuned for further news. And now, for our top story: a YouTube video about a dancing guinea pig has gone viral….”

As the television news network changed to its next story, I took a sip of my coffee and nodded to myself. Everything had gone perfectly according to plan. I adjusted my baseball cap over my head, making sure it still shadowed my face.

In my pocket, my cell phone began to ring. I reached down and pulled it out, answering it without bothering to check the caller ID.

“It worked,” I said, by ways of a hello. A deep chuckle sounded from the other end of the line.

“We knew it would. Where are you? I’ll come pick you up and we can head to the airport.”

“I’m at the coffee shop on Boulevard. Don’t forget the passports this time.”

“Don’t worry, I got ‘em. I’ll see you soon, Michael.”

It was my turn to chuckle. “Watch what you say, Elvis. It’s Jack now, remember?”

“Yeah, yeah, you got it, ya hound dog. Take it easy, Jack, I’m on my way.” The line went dead.

I set my cell phone down on the table in front of me, lifting my cup of mediocre-tasting coffee to my lips. I drained the last of it as I watched the video of the guinea pig dancing on the TV, and smiled over the styrofoam rim.

Yes, the world would be just fine without me.

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The Stirring Stick
Josh Zoran

The pitter patter of my fingers flying across the keyboard was washed out by the indie rock playing over the speaker. My fingers paused for a moment to pick up my mocha latte and they started flying across my laptop once more. In the midst of my finger flurry, my elbow bumped into my pencil and it danced on the floor before resting next to a man’s foot two tables away. With a sigh of annoyance, I walked over and introduced myself to the old man and explained my situation. With a jolly smile that illuminated his cheeks, he picked up my pencil and told me it was no problem at all.

“You look familiar, do I know you from somewhere?” It was like I’ve seen him on TV or something.

“Oh, you might, son. I do philanthropy work at Our Lady of Grace down the road.”

“Hmmm. Maybe. Anyways, thanks for the pencil!” I went back to sit down, but before I started typing again, I glanced behind my screen at this nice, old man. I’ve never been to that church, that couldn’t have been where I’ve seen him. I observe his soft, brown eyes fixate on the coffee in front of him while his leathery hands stir the drink around with a white stick. He brought his own stirring stick? It’s on the tip of my tongue. He turns to look out the window, the late evening sunlight causing his rosy cheeks to glow.

Then it hit me. His mugshot. He’s the Coffee Shop Killer. His mugshot’s been shown on every news channel ever since he escaped from prison, but he looked so much cleaner now. That means his stirring stick…

Those soft brown eyes looked my way and he smiled.

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Anna Alabama
Lauren Frick

Ellie always came to class with dark circles and bags under her eyes. She fell asleep at approximately 11:30 every day. All the other students in her grade thought she was an unmotivated, lazy individual; the one person who was never going to succeed at life. The one thing they consistently questioned was how she always managed to pass her classes yet she never turned in work and never participated. Half the time she didn’t even show up to school for weeks on end. Little did they know, Ellie spent her nights performing to millions of people under the name Anna Alabama. Anna Alabama was the best female rapper in Canada. The majority of her school were huge fans and always sent out petitions to get Anna to perform there.

Finally, on March 7th, Anna’s manager decided enough was enough and that she should perform at her school. “Don’t worry, no one will know it’s you Ellie,” her manager said attempting to console her. Ellie put on her Anna Alabama costume and headed to the stage. Her friends were in the front row and she could hear them whispering where she was. “Ellie’s such a huge fan of Anna, I wonder why she didn’t at least come to school today of all days?” they inquired. Ellie ignored this comment and began her first song. In the middle of it she tripped over the microphone cord and her wig fell off. “Ellie?!” the whole entire school screamed.

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Parallel

Adeola Oladeinde

It’s Tuesday and I have an interview for a multimillion dollar company called Apple. I am meeting up with the CEO her name is Kathy, she is one of my dad’s loyal patients since the 90s. We walk in the white room it’s spotless not a speck of dirt anywhere. We sit on the chairs that feel like fluffy clouds. “Your resume is remarkable you work for Microsoft created software for Samsung. You are overqualified for this position!” Kathy says jokingly. Her phone rings she begins to sweat and answers it  “ I told you not to make a mess!” She slams her phone on the desk. “ excuse me Mike but I have some business to take care of please tell your dad I said hey I have an important meeting to go to.” She rushes out the door leaving her phone on the table. It begins to ring, no caller ID, I pick it up and answer it. “You sick human-eating whore. I’m going to kill you” the scratchy voice said and hung up abruptly. Her phone then received a text message saying next target revealed. I opened it up and it was my dad she was going to eat my dad next. I call to warn him and he doesn’t answer I rush home and I see a white car in the driveway I bust down the door and I hear my dad screaming at the top of his lungs, “AHHHHH!” I see Kathy gouging his eyes out with a fork I threw my phone at her yelling, “get off him!”. We struggled, fighting each other. I get her off of him and she runs out the door. I asked my dad if he was OK and he said, “She was after me because you were after her job.”

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The Person Next to You
Lainie Polen

 

To get her mind off of everything, she sat on the bench in the park and stared off at the pond. Occasionally, she’d see fish swim up to the surface and watched the water ripple outward.

A sneeze interrupted her thoughts.
“Bless you,” a man said as he was walking by.
She assumed he’d continue walking, but he stopped, and this made her feel nervous.
She felt that if only she didn’t sneeze, she wouldn’t be nervous about this man towering over her right now.

“Hi there, darling. Is something troubling you?”

She sat there, frozen. She wasn’t an amazing liar, so she was deciding what to tell him.

“I just… I’m having trouble in school. I thought I could handle being a biology major, but it’s putting so much stress on me. I think I’m going to have to change majors, again. But I’m scared. My parents pay for me to go to school. I don’t want to switch to a major that they’ll think isn’t worth their money.”

“Dear, sometimes, you need to let your parents down to do what fulfills you. I promise, my parents were none too happy to figure out that I spend my evenings wearing wigs and outrageous makeup. And singing to an audience that likes that sort of thing.”

She processed what he’d said, “You’re a drag queen by night?”

He smiled, “I wouldn’t rather be doing anything else with my time. Have a great night. And be whoever you’d like to be. Not who your parents want you to be.”

He was exactly right. And he had given her the perfect advice. She was going to do it. He had given her the power to give into her urges and finally kill something bigger than a cat.

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The Diamond  
David Paulauski

Once again I awaken with yet more jewelry on my finger.  This is the third time this week where I have these weird dreams of treasure and I wake with it in real life.  Are these more than just dreams I’m having?  The first time was a pearl necklace.  The second, a gold chain with an emerald pendant.  This time was a diamond ring.  These dreams seem to be intensifying as well as the rewards.  I am either a pirate searching for the “X” on the map, a drug addict searching for his next fix, or a detective finding the missing child.  This night, I have put a hidden camera on the collar of my pajamas to see if anything abnormal happens while I sleep.  The anxiousness of me watching me in the morning is so overwhelming I can’t sleep.  A drink will most definitely help.

I awaken the next morning with no jewelry in sight.  I dreamt last night I was an alcoholic beating his wife.  This has to have been the most intense dream I’ve had.  That’s the last time I drink before I go to bed.  My hands are stained with blood.  What happened last night?  I’ll put in the camera feed on my laptop.  

I watch, stunned, as I expertly break into the local museum, beat the security guard to an inch of his life, and steal the world’s biggest diamond.  It cuts off after I return home.  Where would I put the world’s biggest diamond?  I search ferociously around my apartment.  I eventually find it under my bed in a bag along with a passport, extra clothes, and 100,000 dollars in cash.  It’s time to leave.  

I grab the bag and start running down the stairs of the building. I should start looking over the name of the fake passport and memorizing a new identity for myself.  I burst open the front door to find squad cars all over the apartment parking lot.  A police officer approaches me.  He calls me by my name and asks me to turn around with my hands behind my back.  I have been caught.  They will never believe me that I have been stealing all this in my sleep.  I reach into my bag to return the diamond.  The police officers are alerted and before I take out the diamond, an intense pain runs through my body.  I look up to the sky for one last time as the diamond rolls out of my hand.  Maybe in this will be a more enjoyable dream.  

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The Secret
Shannon Finn

I watched as he calmly and smoothly spoke to the people at the premiere for his new movie. I played with my fingers watching the interview from home, I just don’t want my college life changed because I’m dating someone with such high social status. We have had mistakes of letting it slip but whenever I was brought up in conversation he would just segway it. I felt slightly degraded and I hate that I can’t be with someone I love, but for the regularity of my college life, it was needed. No one knows, no one can know for now. It takes a toll every now and then because I miss out of all of the relationship titles and just the whole experience. He seems fine with it but I know he must hate it because anytime we take pictures he sighs and just saves it to his phone saying he’s going to print it out.  It wasn’t until I saw his arm slide around some actresses waist and kissed her head just like he would if we were at home. My heart drops instantly not rationalizing the situation. The only thing I could think of was how I can’t take any of it anymore, I can’t take the constant publicity stunts to boost his fame by having him be with other girls. I did the only thing I could, I surrendered myself and the safety of our secret. I posted the most recent picture of us laughing together and wrote a caption “Happy one year.”

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Elvis Turned into Aaron
Shae Oakland

What began as a simple thought turned into a meaningful life change. Never had Aaron decided to be true to himself, but he finally decided to end it all and live his life. “Elvis has left the building,” was the last thing Aaron heard. He got into his limo and drove home to see his girlfriend, Ginger. He could not wait to marry her, but he didn’t want to be in the spotlight anymore. Yet, that is what she wanted… that was what she craved. She wanted the money, the glamor, the fame that came with being in a relationship with a rock icon. And Aaron realized that she did not want him. So, he devised a unique plan. That same night, he decided to follow through with his nightly routine in front of Ginger. He took his blood pressure medication and his sleeping pills (or so she thought) and then went to the bathroom. When she called for him he was not going to respond, he was not going to do anything. Ginger found Elvis dead in his bathroom. But Elvis had set it all up. Ginger was the only close person to not know what his plan was. Everyone who was working the shift at the police station, even the coroner, was in on Elvis’s plan. Instead of taking what she thought was a mixture of his medications, he did take the blood pressure medicine but also took a pill that would make his pulse non-existent to an untrained person. He would still be alive, but his body would be in a state close to death.

Elvis, now that his life had been given back to him, decided to go by his middle name, Aaron. Aaron decided to move to Mexico, he resorted to dying his hair back to the dirty blonde that it originally was in his youth and opened up a peanut butter and banana sandwich shop. He was happy being able to do what he pleased without being in the public’s eye. People who may have recognized him did not say anything, for most of the townsfolk, were in on it- being silenced with money. Aaron performed for those who asked, happily obliging them.

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BCC
Sonya Vergara

Professor Yemaya was considered one of the absolute best professor’s on campus. She was one that went above and beyond to help her students, faculty, any and all that had a

breath per-say. Yemaya was seen as a motherly figure on campus; watching, teaching, protecting, providing, and mentoring all that asked help from her. She shared and became close to some students on a professional level as vice-versa for the student. They spoke of rent, salary, boy/girl friend – wife/husband issues, and such with a keen sense of respect and privacy. Professor Yemaya was vote “best professor” for the fall and spring semesters of 2017/2018. She was dearly loved, admired, respected, appreciated, and held the admiration of all.

Out of nowhere, extremely unlike her, she cancelled classes for two days. Which in turn had too many students, friends, and co-workers excessively worried. Finding out when she had phoned in once again explaining she needed another professor to pick up and finish her class semester, due to the fact that her parents had become very ill. Yemaya had to return home to become their caretaker as she was the only child. The entire University was stuck with deep sadness upon the discovering of her departure, however, understood that she had to do for her parents first and foremost. Upon wishing Yemaya receiving the best of wishes and reassuring her that if anything was needed just ask and the support and aid of her need(s) would be there and or met.

Yemaya arrived back to her hometown where she was raised until she left this small “village” type town for college many years ago. She was the only one that ever did leave this place called home. All the town folk greeted her with joy and happy tears so excited to see her back even under the sad circumstances. Settling into her parents’ home once again, brought back years of memories so beloved and missed. Yemaya wept quietly in her old room cuddling up with her pillow, as she fell asleep. Morning came and breakfast was already made by her mother for her. Yemaya was delighted though a bit upset with herself knowing she should had gotten up before her parents to fix and have breakfast waiting there for them.

The first week went better than expected on the “heath wise” portion of her parents illness. Yemaya was rather surprised with silent hope of this being some type of fluke and all will be better in a couple days. Painfully this was not the case.

Yemaya’s father taught her growing up how to hunt. Her father always put emphasis of not letting an animal “suffer” if it did not die with the first shot, put the “suffering” animal out of its misery. This is a great importance to grasp hold of, never undermining your decision.

Never hearing a word from those that said: “if anything was needed just ask and the support and aid of her need(s) would be there and or met.”  Now Yemaya is spending the rest of her days in prison for the “murder” of her “suffering parents.”

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She
He
Tiffany Key

She got up, fed her kids, wished them a good day at school, then climbed on her bicycle and rode to work.
He got up, looked in on his sleeping kid, ate a bowl of cereal, then got into his truck and drove to work.

She liked her students but the hours were long and she was busier outside of the classroom than in.
He liked his coworkers but the hours were long and he was busy doing paperwork when he was not out supervising the floor.

She thought of him.
He thought of her.

She had wanted to tear everything down to be with him, move across the country, make him a stepdad, become a stepmom. She had believed that love conquered all. That life was short.
He just wanted her to wait until the kids were all grown. He had had both a stepmom and stepdad and did not want that for the kids. He felt patience was key. That life was long.

She thought of him.
He thought of her.

She wrote him long emails but he never replied.
He read her long emails but he never replied.

She woke up every day with her husband.
He woke up every day with his wife.

She made plans for the future with her husband but never the distant future, after the kids were grown. Her husband was not someone who would do well on a sailboat or backpacking through India.

He made plans for the future with his wife, looking for a house near his ailing in-laws. He knew that he would be taking care of them all for a long time.

She thought of him.
He thought of her.

She went back home for her father’s funeral.
He heard she was back home for her father’s funeral.

She wanted to see him but after all she had written, she realized she had nothing more to say.
He wanted to see her but after all she had written, he did not know what to say.

She wrote a book and then she wrote more.
He read all her books.

Her kids got older and her tattered marriage fell completely apart.
His kid got older and his wife became ill, needed him more than ever.

She thought of him.
He thought of her.

She bought a sailboat and changed the name even though he had told her it was bad luck.
He bought a one-story house and build a wheelchair ramp from the front door to the driveway.

She bought a backpack and a ticket to India, to Argentina, to Norway, to Transylvania.
He bought a van so that it was easier to take his wife to her appointments.

She wanted to go back to her hometown. To be his friend, his neighbor, but knew it was too late.
He wanted her to keep going, to do all the things he would never be able to do.

She thought of him.
He thought of her.

 

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