Tag Archive: fiction


As she walked purposefully toward the hill crest the leaves didn’t crunch underfoot, they whispered. Still their message was clear.

Respect the passage of time.

Diana didn’t need the reminder though. Everywhere she looked the delicate balance of life and death was being played out for all to see. Healthy feed corn on withered stalks. Vibrant colored trees dropping leaves like rainclouds. Even the air seemed to spin with wild abandon from sunlight warmed to bonfire perfumed icy breath.

She like the manic feel of Fall. The frenzy of soaking up every last dappled drop of light before night overtook day. The rush of completing each autumnal event on the list. Apple picking, check. Pumpkin carving, check. Cider mulling, double check. Each outdoor activity fighting off the not so secret fear of a pending winter. To Diana euphoria tempered with melancholia was the ideal mindset for this moody season.

From August through November she had watched the world change before her very eyes with each storm or frosty morning. Finally, perched at last upon her vantage point the whole of Diana’s small town was laid out before her. It was quaint, her town, filled with a bright history, like so many others, but it’s future was shadowy at best. For a moment it seemed to Diana that she could see both past and future in that panorama. For a second the frenzy gave way to clarity.

Seasons change, tides turn, and time marches on.

In the face of such certainty Diana felt easy for the first time in months. We are all in this together she thought, looking longingly over her shoulder jealously wanting to hold on to her moment of peace, during dark winter nights and balmy summer days… only time would tell which way the balance was falling.

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Pumpkin Spiced Lycanthropy

Jasper was every bit an “average Joe”. He loved his small-town roots, his perfectly worn in steal-toe boots, and his permanently coffee stained 42 ouncer plastic mug representing the one and only gas station before the junction. He had watched with mild fascination as the old community office just across the street had been transformed into a den of over-priced coffee, never feeling the pull of the iconic green and white cup sporting his name in someone else’s handwriting, but today was different. Today, Jasper was more than curious. Today, Jasper was in need.

The Gas’N’Go had failed him. Faulty wiring in the hot plate, where the decaf usually sat, had shorted the whole thing leaving nothing behind but an OUT OF SERVICE sign and a whiff of overheated metal coils. So now Jasper stood just within the doors of what he affectionately referred to as the Coffee Cult when making fun of his “on-trend” friends. It was a lot to take in. His first thought was that commercialization was alive and well. Quickly followed by a rapid fire 20 questions game with his sensory response to the environment. What is that sound? Was it a bag pipe? What is that smell? Carmel? Vanilla? It was like stumbling into a new age rock concert held on a scented candle. Even his eyes had to adjust to the low jewel toned mood lighting.

Two minutes later and Jasper was at the “I’ll be damned” stage. He had read the handwritten menu three times and could not find the word coffee anywhere. He was sure one of the items must be a simple coffee, but since fancy to him had meant a flavored creamer, things like Amerciano held no coffee-based meaning to him. By the time he made it to the woman at the register he had formulated a plan.

“Mornin’ I’ll have the least expensive coffee you serve.”

It had made sense to him a small black coffee was enough to get him to work and while it wouldn’t last all day, like the 42 ounces would have, it was better than nothing. Also, a plain coffee should be the least expensive thing on the menu and ordering this way would require no fancy jargon.

“That’s the best order I have heard all day!” The lady with an ear full of metal exclaimed flashing a smile that was pure manic glee. “You are in for a fun ride love,” she said her mouth drawing thin, “Name?”

“Uh, Jasper.” He was sure he had made a misstep, black coffee wouldn’t have gotten that response, but it seemed he was too far in for a graceful retreat.

“Tall PSL for,” direct eye contact then a wink, “for Uh Jasper”.

He walked to the PICK UP sign and scanned the hand drawn posters trying to decipher what he had ordered. He didn’t have to look very hard the center board was dominated by the words Special: Pumpkin Spice Latte. “What the…”

“Uhjazpeer!”

He almost missed his own name. “Hey, I just wanted coffee,” he offered to the man with an orange side swept Mohawk.

“That is coffee.” Came the response as the man hurried off to the next item on his list.

“Damn it.”

Jasper grabbed his “coffee” and headed over to the fixin’s counter. He tried the drink, eyes squinted, to assess how best to handle the PSL. An intense combination of kitchen spices lingered with a nice warmth in the back of his throat triggering an immediate need for another taste. Lid forgotten he walked over the nearest booth and sat. Savoring the aroma and smooth frothiness he alternated between gulps and sips till he hit foam. It was gone. Jasper sat still for a moment. Shocked. Confused. Unsatisfied.

He stood quickly, not sure if he would run for the door or the counter, then it hit him. His eyes went dim and a roar of electric sound tore at his sanity. His scalp and face recoiled from the sensation of a million fire ants angrily making their way from one side to the other. His chest felt tight and his extremities squeezed. Stumbling forward Jasper made it to the bathroom before he collapsed.

Blinking his eyes, he first noticed that the music in the bathroom was much nicer than what they had been playing in the shop. The tightness had disappeared, so he chanced walking to the sink. In the mirror he could barely recognize himself. His clothes looked at least two sizes too small, the burning sensation on the right side of his scalp had left him with an exaggerated asymmetrical part, and his face which still itched and stung had sprouted a full beard. The door opened pulling a tendril of cinnamon scented air towards Jasper. His spine stiffened, all concerns forgotten except for the insatiable need for his next pumpkin spice latte.

The woman behind the counter was still smiling the manic grin. “What’ll it be?”

Image result for pumpkin spice latte hipster

A moment of peace

The day’s rain could still be heard in the leaves of the trees, softly rustling in the gentle breeze, and plodding off the broken drain pipe onto the slate slab walkway below. The sky, however, had been washed clean. The stars sparkled and the moon’s illumination fell softly upon the night. While the easy rise and fall of the nighttime thrum sang of rest and eternity.

It represented a moment of peace, and in that moment everything was beautiful.

Her lack of sleep rode shotgun on today’s commute. She had fought sleep then the alarm, to no avail, but she was wide awake now. It was mostly due to anxiety tying her stomach in knots, though honestly the “how” was less than important. As long as self-doubt didn’t run away with her she was sure she could make it though the day. Well, almost.

Snow Angel

I am a covered thing.

She thought trudging through the snow. I am covered in hats, scarves, and coats, but no, that wasn’t it. It was something more than this. She felt… masked perhaps. The snow had reduced her physical presence down to the rustle of moisture resistant fabrics, the soft crunch of her boots, and the swirling crystals of her breath. It was a sensation that she loved and loathed in equal measure. The quiet lent her false privacy. It made her want to act childish and vibrant, even if no one was watching. However, the weight of the world softly sighing was hard to bear, begging her to shatter the near silence. The crisp white perfection a thing she desperately wanted to mar. The decision wasn’t even a decision. One second she was standing, and the next she was free-falling backwards, arms open wide. Sinking into the snow the thought came again.

I am a covered thing.

Up thoughts

Alice in Wonderland all rights to Disney


She stood on tiptoe her nose barely reaching over the edge of the table. The treats were so tempting sitting in their cut crystal bowl screaming “eat me”, but still she wavered. Some small animalistic lobe of the brain alerting her to the danger of too perfect an opportunity. Quickly she glanced side to side, sure she was about to be found out for the uninvited interloper she was, but no one looked or noticed. Quick as a flash tiny hand took tiny treat. The jolt of adrenaline added to the flavor making the sugar complex and wonderful. Wildly she enjoyed the stolen morsel, and having eaten her treasure sank to the floor… deflated. No one had noticed or cared. Emptiness filled her stomach and inch by inch swollowed her, mind and all. Everything now felt sharp and disjointed as if it had become over large or ungainly. She sat with her new feelings and confused by them began searching for explanation. She had gotten what she wanted, right? 

Yes, it had been exquisite in both anticipation and reality. So why did she now feel even smaller? 

The thoughts made her want to wipe her hands off, as if this mindset could be cleared away so easily. 

Maybe, no. Perhaps the real want had not yet been met. 

Immediately her searching switched to scanning. The treats were little, the pleasure they brought had been little, and the motive tiny. She would need something much bigger to make the smallness go away. Ruby and amber flashes winked at her from smoky glass decanters daring her to “drink me”. This, she thought, was no little thing this was big. The big action of a big person who people would notice. Decided she went for the decanter thinking only up thoughts. The flush of success, so newly acquired, slipped away as the liquid passed parted lips. It seared and burned on the way down pulling her after. 

Up it seemed was still out of reach.

I itch between my shoulder blades, the unreachable itch of watchful eyes cast my way. I don’t dare turn to look as the pointless gesture only makes me look guilty, of something… of anything worth watching. Instead I slowly roll my shoulders and stretch my back, even pull a yawn. It is better to appear bored, or better yet tired, tired people aren’t a threat. It’s hard to mobilize when you are beat down by life and lack of sleep. The gaze slips from me to the truely tired business man slumped against the hand rail beside me. He startles noticibly before faining indifference. I keep my smile small and smother the laugh threatening to bubble out, nothing attracts unwanted attention like laughter at tense moments. The urge completely abates with the soft gasp and hushed rustle of fabric that means someone is being “helped” off the train for questioning. 

A heavy silence follows those sounds; filled with dred and inactivity. I cannot blame them the fear we are all mainlining these days, compliments of our government for our own good I’m sure, is a potent drug. 

I check my watch, like I always do, stand and walk towards the back of the train, per usual, shift my bag to the center of my back, in a perfectly normal manner. I am just a commuter. I am just tired. I am “sheepole”. The thoughts drive through me like a steel rod, straightening my back and my resolve, like bolts of lightning, energizing and wild, like the truth which frees.

Impatiently, I wait for the train to stop and the doors to open. I tap my toes, check my watch, and adjust my bag. In an exaggerated motion I crane my neck looking for the conductor who will stand near the open the door waiting to help myself and the pair in front of me disboard. I mumble and “swear to god” under my breath. Everyone has backed away from the door except us three. Our mixed bag of emotions, as repellent as noxious gas, acts as a shield. No one wants to see the fear in the eyes of the man being taken for questioning or the joy in the young recruit’s. I remain impatient and agitated. I shift my bag to my side just as the train lurches to a stop. My perfectly timed fall is unavoidable and undignified. As the locked doors spring open the young recruit, I grabbed for stability, and I fall down the steps in a tangle.

The fearful man, selected for questioning, freezes for only an instant.

We lock eyes.

He nods once, then is gone.

The itchy feeling is back, but at least I no longer have to suffer the dreadful inactive silence. What comes next will have been worth it.

I am civil disobedience, and I will not be ignored.

 

“She just… kind of broke,” the little boy sounded surprised. 

“Well what happened,” his grandfather asked him. “Did you wind her up too tight? Did you press her buttons too many times?”

The perplexed look never left his eyes even as he shook his head no vigorously.

“Maybe you neglected her then,” the grandfather offered. “Is she still in one piece? Was she nurtured? Did you protect her from the muck of the world?”

The boy turned her over in his hands more gently with each revolution. “I think so papa!”

“Then what do you think it could be kiddo?” 

The boy’s eyes squinted and his brow worked up into a furrowed ridge before a lightbulb went off behind his eyes. “I don’t know, but I’m going to try and make it right.”

All rights to owner

What do you remember?

As seen on wikimedia all rights to the owner

The night was sharp. I have no better way to describe it. It looked like it had been cutaway from the daylight by a painter’s knife with short sure motions. 

I could focus on little else.

Driven to distraction it wasn’t till my fingers started to burn from the icy wind that I looked away from the heavenly Bob Ross. Summer sunsets are beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but there is some kind of eery otherworldliness in crisp winter night skies. 

Once inside I turned off the TV and put a kettle on to boil, the image had me in the mood for strong tea and dark silence. So I watched the red-orange flames lick out alive waiting for the hiss of steam.

I held the mug with both hands soaking up the minty warmth, but the tension in my shoulders refussed to drain away. Something in the night nagging at the periphery of my attention. The house was quite, the door was locked, I closed my eyes willing the edges of my frayed nerves to lie flat…

I startle at the sound of a man clearing his throat sloshing piping hot tea onto my right hand.

“Ma’am can you tell me what happened,” he asks a look somewhere between pity and suspicion in his eyes.

“Happened? What happened?”

He checks a notepad while I look around the small uncomfortable room. It has dingy short pile carpet, a table with coffee cup rings, and hard molded plastic chairs. The man makes direct eye contact, only suspicion this time, “What do you remember?”

“It was sharp,” his eyebrows shoot towards the ceiling, “the night was sharp.” I elaborate, “the sky had this look like it was painted, you know what I mean? Too many straight edges…sharp-like.”

“That’s what you remember?” 

He’s incredulous.

“What about the fire? Do you not remember the fire?” The man is very nearly yelling at me.

I consider what he has said, thinking back, trying to remember. Like a reflex I take a sip of tea, “I made tea.” I offer holding up the mug.

He stands and walks to the door. Quick quiet words are exchanged with someone I cannot see. “I just handed you that tea ma’am,” he says while walking back to the table, “you don’t remember anything.” This time it’s a statement not a question.

“The night was sharp and otherworldly.”

He looks at me so hard he looks through me. The pity is back in his eyes.

Looking

If I had to describe it I would have said that she had her sea legs. She swayed from toe to heel in the ebb and flow her hand resting gently on the rail in front of her like an after thought. Her ease was all the more evident as the man with nervous eyes directly to her left gripped the rail like a life line. Was she adrift? Certainly, but she wasn’t casting about for rescue like the man. Her eyes swung over the throng pausing to read this or that sign, to stare out the windows where brief and eerie light would often break the gloom, and when anyone met her gaze head on she smiled before looking away. If the thought that I shouldn’t be watching this sure-footed woman had actually crossed my mind I would have dimissed it, the T was a dull dredge of a task only made better by people watching, but it didn’t. So I waited to see if she would notice me also a veteran of the halting jerking MBTA holding a book in one hand and the rail in the other. Till then I would continue to make sailing analogies. She even wore nautical navy trousers and linen all she needed was sun and surf and the look would have been complete. The slow moving green line surfaced, whale-like, she  adjusted her bag freeing a pair of sunglasses and caught me looking. Her eyes dropped and heat raced around my collar. No smile for me then, but she looked back up quickly and smiled before putting on her bright green frames. I watched as she pressed the call button and waited for the doors to open. As the doors slid to a close I walked over to the window to watch her disappear as the T sank back underground. She waved once and fell out of sight. Maybe she was more like a mirage … or a fever dream…

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