Heart Click

Jul 6, 2013 by

She can hear the clicking. Maybe it’s not a clicking but more of a hum of the escalator behind her. She’s staring at the text but not really seeing it. Not yet. A little girl and a little boy with their father squeal and laugh at something as they pass her by in a blur. A woman on her phone comments about the price of coffee. A man holds the hand of his boyfriend and complains about the cold. She can hear their footsteps hitting the tile, hitting the escalator. Hitting the pavement. A car honks distantly from above and she thinks that if she could just hold her breath a little longer she might hear the sound pigeons make when they are all startled to take off at once.
The screen is the eye of Mordor but she doesn’t have a ring and Sam’s given up on Frodo and she can’t breathe. She can’t.
Back from doctors, it read. Then, It’s cancer. –Mom.
She always signed her texts. It didn’t matter how many times she’d patiently sit her down with the phone and show her that each one came with her name at the very top, see? There was no need to sign it. She knew who they were from.
A little bar beneath the words urged her to type text here. A cursor blinked.
The world idly kept on turning but she’s still. She’s so still. Everything is still.
Cancer.
The word is the taste of ashtrays in her mouth and in her mind.
She can hear the clicking. Maybe it’s not a clicking but more of the wail of a little girl alone in the subway with her mother in her heart.
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Bitter Twitch

Jul 3, 2013 by

Western_country_plant_by_Nestaman

Town ain’t big enough f’the both of us,” Tomas-the-Twitch ground out around a half-chewed unlit cigar. His beard had more life in it than a saloon at midnight and his beady little eyes belied the lack of a single spark of intelligence.
I rolled my eyes. “Tommy, you have any idea how many damn times I hear that on any given day?” You don’t get creativity and imagination being a sheriff for a two-bit mining town like this one. We had one watering hole, seven whores and six houses. But the trouble rolled in and out faster than I could say tumbleweed.
“Don’t rightly care, sheriff,” Tommy grunted. I watched him roll his eyes toward Irene and then settle back on me, narrowed.
For her part, Irene didn’t give a flick of an eye his way. Bright red curls as sweet as fire and eyes like dark earth after the rain; I’d known her since we were kids in this town. I knew her when her Pa used to beat her and promised I’d never let a man lay a hand on her again. I knew her when her Ma left her thanks to consumption and a bad love for the whiskey. I tried to stop knowing her when she took up with The Saddle n’ Spurs whorehouse and she did tried not-knowing me, too. Wouldn’t give me the time of day and was real careful not to look me in the eye after she started working there. Like it was something to be ashamed of to desperately want to live.
She did what she had to do back then and I came to terms with it a long time ago.
And I made god damn sure no man ever laid a hand on her again like her Pa did, because I grew up and became the law in this shit-end town and by god I kept it and I kept it good.
Until Tommy. Until Tommy got a hold of Irene.
She was lookin’ right at me then as we stood on either end of the street, her black eye was a screamin’ notice of my failure. Nobody hit their women folk when they was in this town. And nobody sure in hell wasn’t going to be hitting the women folk of this town while I was around. Yet there Irene stood with the girls around her, bruised eye a testament to the fact I’d slipped up.
No way, no how I was going to let word of that walk out of this place. Not for the town. Not for me. Not for Irene.
“Figure then we might as well get on with this, don’tcha think?” I asked.
Tommy spat out his cigar and grinned.
That’s all the warning I got really, before I learned quick why Tommy was named the Twitch. His hand ticked out faster than I’d ever seen in my life. I had a split second to realize that the thunder-crack of my gun boomed later than his–then all I had was dirt in my mouth and a view of the earth meeting the sky forever. Somehow upright, suddenly flopped on my belly sadder than a fish out of water.
It was Irene’s hair I saw first. Couldn’t hear shit all because of the ringing in my ears. I saw her curls and the frill of her worn skirt and saw the fear on her face. Didn’t hear her screaming but I could see my name on her lips and I felt my lips twitch up in a smile: she hadn’t called my name in years. Makes a man glad to hear a woman say your name after being mad at you for so long.
The sound of the world came crashing in soon after. Someone was crying, someone was shouting. Someone was laughing.
“Oh Jesus,” I heard Irene say. “Oh dear Jesus, Johnny, don’t you leave me! Don’t you go and damn well leave me on this earth all alone, y’hear? Johnny! Sweet God, Johnny I love you….You listening? I love you. Please don’t leave me alone. Please!”
I tucked that right up. Tucked those words right up in my heart before the darkness took me and I thought I’d died.

#

When I woke up in my own jail cell, feeling like I’d been kicked several times by a rabid Donkey, I remember seeing Irene standing outside my cell. Irene looking miserable and sad and happy at the same time. Tommy’s arm around her waist and holding her prisoner real tight against him as he grinned, wearing my badge too like he was a man who had a right to any of these things.
Could never walk right after that. Could never find the strength to fight back against Tommy’s reign of terror after.
I grew old and miserable and bitter and Irene grew thin and sick and empty. Ain’t never talked to her again. Couldn’t even make it to the graveyard where they buried her.
The things you can hide in a bullet wound.

What is FF month?

July is Flash Fiction month, where authors and writers attempt to write a 55 – 1000 word story a day for the month of July. Fate and a Gun is the first Flash Fiction for July, inspired by Flash Fiction Month deviantart’s group; where text, visual and audio prompts are given to inspire fellow writers. Join in and visit Flash Fiction Month here: http://flash-fic-month.deviantart.com/
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Fate and a Gun

Jul 2, 2013 by

gun_png_by_doloresdevelde-d5fye4hHe was, quite simply, mad.
Though she knew he did not start that way and his thread was never knotted to be so, some things were well out of her hands. Which, in retrospect, the thought would have made her slightly smile if it wasn’t for the fact the chill barrel of a gun was pressed as surely as a lover’s kiss upon her temple.
“I said, undo it! Unravel it! Un-unknot it. Whatever it is you do, you fucking do it, got it?” In the caverns, his tremulous and cracking voice bounced along the walls as a child’s toy thrown in grief.
“I cannot,” she repeated herself quietly. He smelled like sorrow: salt and tears and sweat and fear. He had not washed in several days. She did not think he had eaten, either.
“You can,” barked. The gun was painfully shoved into her temple, pushing her head violently to the side. She straightened herself best as she could and noticed that she could see the smallest sliver of light underneath the blindfold.
“I cannot, there are rules I must not break.”
Even the smallest click of metal as his finger tightened slightly about the trigger felt louder than any of the screaming he had done earlier.
“You can either break the rules or you can be dead. This is the last chance I am giving you.” His hand had trembled earlier, his voice wavered with hidden tears. Now she heard another note. A note that finally made her hands on needles and thread in her lap move. She picked up her golden needles and began to weave the hole in the path of Fate that the death of his wife made.
A car accident a week ago. It had not been her wish to end the woman’s life so suddenly and it had not even been knotted into the string of the woman’s life. But Death also had his own rules and his own way of things. His string she could never see or touch, so she could not tell when he would throw an unseemly tangle in her careful stitches. And so it is what it is, she had thought seven days ago. But she had not counted on him. There had not been a human in the caverns of the oracles in thousands of years, the old gods should have been long forgotten, the old ways of summoning buried deep.
Should. Yet, here he was now, grieving for his wife with a gun to the head of Fate.
“Please,” softly. “Please rethink this. You do not know the consequences. There are some things which cannot be re-done,” she pleaded, even as her hands skimmed over the work that was usually familiar to her. It was a tad more difficult to knit blindfolded, with a gun to her head.
I don’t care!” Shouted. “I don’t care. She’s…She’s my everything. She was everything. She’s all I have and if you do not bring her back I will end you. I will end you, and then find all of you and kill them too until I have what I want.”
She did not doubt him. “All right,” soothed. “All right,” her voice was calm but it was her turn for her hands to tremble. She found the string she wanted, knotted it around her needle and slipped it through. End over end and around and about, in her mind she could envision the faint cavern’s light flickering off gold as it had done and always did for centuries.
“It is done,” she intoned. There was a strange echo to those three words: a warning, a sadness, and a finality that even made him hesitate. She could feel it in the way the gun barrel pressure on her temple lessened.
“What–?” He did not finish. The sound of Death’s footsteps were that of long passed leaves, dry shed skin of serpents tussling with one another in the wind. One moment silent and the next moment she could hear the silk rustle of his robes as he rush-stepped (never ran. Death ran for no one) over to touch the man on the shoulder. As he did so, the man died. The gun, his last breath, crashing to the stone floor.
Death eased the blindfold from fates eyes. She blinked the light back into her vision and glanced down to the lump of the human who dared to find and threaten a god.
“If only they listened to our warnings,” she murmured sadly.

What is FF month?

July is Flash Fiction month, where authors and writers attempt to write a 55 – 1000 word story a day for the month of July. Fate and a Gun is the first Flash Fiction for July, inspired by Flash Fiction Month deviantart’s group; where text, visual and audio prompts are given to inspire fellow writers. Join in and visit Flash Fiction Month here: http://flash-fic-month.deviantart.com/
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The Man Who Ate The Sun

Jun 30, 2013 by

Sun_March_2010_Filtered_by_StormPenguinIn a land far away in a place where gods danced freely across the grass; Mother sun was always at play. High and bright, she was joy. Flowers titter-tilted to follow her golden feet as they danced, the bees made music and honey. She touched man, beast, field alike and made them grow.
She was gracious as well as kind. She would bow her wheat-blond head to grumpy Grandfather rain, letting him mutter, mumble, rumble about to water all the things that grew dry with her touch.
Father Moon watched the sun from far, far away. Placed on the other side of the world to shine down, ever-guiding the oceans, he could not abandon his duty to come down and dance with her. But he could watch.
A man in the village watched them both for some time. He saw how the Moon’s silvery light waned, how the Sun smiled during the day–but how it faded at night when Moon arose. He thought to himself that this was too sad. So one day he told his wife that he wished to help them. For they reminded him of them when they were young; he from one village and she from the other. He told her that he would have to travel very far and she cried. She said, “How can you leave? I have no children. I will be alone.”
He said, “Woman, have faith. I love you and I will bring you the sun and moon. This I promise.” He kissed her brow and packed little, grabbed his walking stick and left.
He traveled far. He saw the Great Turtle in the mountains and asked him for help. The Great Turtle sent him to the Laughing-crow in the dark forest. Laughing-crow said he did not know, that he should ask Uncle Bear instead. He spent many years through dangers untold to track Uncle Bear. One day in a bright forest with trees that stretched as giant walking sticks, he found the Uncle Bear and asked him how he might help Mother Sun and Father Moon.
Uncle Bear told him at length and he did not like it. They argued and spoke for many weeks, attracting all the animals to listen in. But in the end, Uncle Bear’s words did not change. The man finally relented, bowing his head and made his journey back.
When he returned to his village, he was no longer a young man. Not an old man yet, but gray had touched his temples, his shoulders had broadened and he stood proud. His wife for a moment did not recognize him when he stood in their hut. When he spoke however, she wept with joy and welcomed him back. So too did his village, so too did Mother Sun who danced brightly across the earth.
The man put a hand upon his wife’s arm to still her and called to Mother Sun. He said, “I have traveled everywhere man’s feet will go. I have spoken with the Great Turtle, I have spoken with Laughing-crow, I have spoken with Uncle Bear.” His voice caused a great hush. “He told me many things. He told me how Mother Sun and Moon could be together.”
So he told Mother Sun, his wife and his village. When they heard what he said they cried out in anger and fear.
“How could that work?” They shouted.
“Why would you even do it?” They cried.
Mother Sun stilled them with her warmth, laying a hand upon the man’s arm. Though she said nothing, all could see that she had made her choice.
That night, she cut a piece of herself–bright as love, light as joy–and bled yellow onto the man’s floor so that he could eat of her.
The village did not forgive him and cast him and his wife out. For weeks they wandered alone. His wife cried that he should not have done what he did. He said, “Hush, woman, I have made you a promise and I will not break it.” She did not understand what he meant and cried harder.
After many weeks they found a village who had not heard of the man who ate the sun. They settled in a new hut and soon, his wife came to him in surprise.
“I am with child!” She exclaimed, holding her belly. “Oh, husband–I thought I would never be!” She finally stopped crying over her old village and smiled. The man was filled with pride.
When their daughter was born she did not look like the other children. Her eyes were as yellow as gold rings, her hair as bright as campfires, her skin the color of bronze knives. She grew into a woman of warmth, who drew many to her with her love as well as care.
Soon the man and his wife were old and their daughter old enough to be married. Many men from many villages came to try and win her heart. None of them were good enough. The girl’s mother began to worry that there were never be grandchildren.
One day after all the men from all the different villages had left, the man’s daughter stood out on the field and opened her arms, singing.
Her singing brought the village to her as well as her mother and father. They watched with puzzled eyes as nothing they did made her stop.
The girl was singing to call Mother Sun who came quietly and took the girl’s body as her own. Uncle Bear had told the man that the only way Mother Sun and Father Moon could be together is if he had eaten the sun. Uncle Bear did not say how, but the man had faith.
Mother Sun with their daughter’s voice, told the girl’s parents that she was still their daughter and always would be. Then she turned back to the sky and began to sing. This time, it was the Sun who sang and she called down the night and Father Moon.
Moon dipped low to gather her into his embrace. He said, “I will marry the Sun and finally know joy. Thank you, man, for doing this. We will never forget. “
The man’s wife wept, then. She understood.
“See?” Her husband said, a smile creasing his old, lined face. “Did I not promise you the sun and the moon?”
And so it is said, to this day–some women still feel the pull of the moon because of Mother Sun’s blood running warm in their veins. They stand out at night, arms spread, singing quietly for their love to come in the silver light.
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Crow

Jun 29, 2013 by

SONY DSC“I can see why they named you Crow,” said, while he reached with sticky hands to smooth back her black hair. Straight, glossy-clean, soft as things he had no names for (because in his world, soft was not a part of it.)
“Though you didn’t caw in time to save any buffalo, did you? No, not even once to save yourself,” chewing thoughtfully, he pulled a small bone from between his teeth and gestured with it as he spoke.
“Do you know that legend?” He tossed the gnawed bone over his shoulder and waited. “The legend of how Crow came to be black?” She didn’t answer; dark brown eyes stared past him. It wormed in his belly a moment to become a small fire of anger–women and their eyes. They always had a talent for cutting you with them in a single, dismissive rake.
He leaned forward and shoved the tip of his thumb between bone and lower lid. A sharp small movement with enough force that prised the eyeball out of her socket in wet, squishing—pop– release. He raised it, twisting it right as well as left to stare at it thoughtfully.
“Perhaps if you are a good girl, I’ll tell you one day.” He grinned, slipping her eye between smiling lips.
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