Friday Fictioneers – Hiding in Plain Sight

Friday Fictioneers time! No witty repartee beforehand this round, I’ve had a long week.

 

copyright Douglas M MacIlroy

copyright Douglas M MacIlroy

Hiding in Plain Sight

Everyone can hide, y’know? Just disappear while you’re staring straight at ‘em.

The Sullivan sisters? They bury themselves under cushions; their legs tangle around each other, twisting into roots of an old oak as it pushes through the foundation of a busted-down house.

And Mike over there. You see him, yeah? The skinny guy in the blue shirt? He turns into a deep sea diver with that helmet of his. He’ll swim away any second now, just you wait and see.

As for me, well.

I ain’t standing next to you any more, now, am I?

Friday Fictioneers – Generational Wanderlust

Easing my way back into a semblance of normalcy, I’ve started writing small things again. Here’s a bit of Friday Fictioneers for you.

Copyright Dloverling

Copyright Dloverling

 

Generational Wanderlust

 

“It looks like snowflakes.”

I looked down at my daughter. Her eyes were locked on the ribbons overhead, fluttering in the warm summer breeze. The delight on her face was apparent; there was nothing like this in our tiny town, sleeping in hills 5000 miles away.

“Are you having a good time, my sweet?”

She nodded wordlessly, taking the colors and sights of the festival. I couldn’t help but smile at her excitement; her face screamed what I felt. My hand tightened around hers as I looked up, too.

“Then let’s go have an adventure.”

…and we did.

Signs of Life

Coming out of a dark time of depression is a bit like the start of Spring.

There are still storm clouds on the horizon from time to time. A cold snap sends you burrowing back down under blankets, wanting to squeeze your eyes closed in your dark burrow beneath until everything is safe again.

But the soil beneath your feet slowly warms. Tiny bits of growth start to push through.

Life flourishes and, in the blink of an eye, there is a burst of color. Green and pale pink against the deep brown of dirt.

The dark isn’t over quite yet, but it seems a bit less gray these days.

There’s a patch of blue sky, just over the horizon.

I see a bit of green in the soil beneath my feet.

Depression.

I sometimes feel like nothing is worth it.

No. That’s wrong.

I sometimes feel like my worth is nothing.

Depression has sucked the joy out of everything. Charlotte’s laughter and pride after drawing something amazing. Curling up with a book. The simple, repetitive act of knitting. Writing, for livelihood or pleasure or both.

I feel like I’m walking on eggshell-coated pins and needles.

I feel like I am slowly sinking, and the more I try to fight my way free, the further I fall.

The little voice in the back of my head, the one everyone has. The one that questions your every action, that mocks your every misdeed. The one that keeps you up at night, running things over and over and over until you’ve examined every angle and are still certain that you can’t do anything but fuck up.

That one?

Mine is in overdrive.

I feel as though my friends are only tolerating me. Barely. They’re just smiling and nodding until they can get away, go AFK, hang up the phone, grab their coffee and leave the shop while I’m still waiting for mine. Like I want too much. Ask for too much. That I’ve put all my cards on the table when they didn’t even want to play.

I feel as though I’m in a fog. I’ve been like this since a bit before December – maybe even earlier. There have been brief points where things look like they’ll turn around, but they never do. The fog in my head has curled tendrils around everything in my life, dragging the sparks of joy away and sinking claws deep, deeper, until all I can do is sit and bleed.

I’m so tired of bleeding.

My family knows. This isn’t some dark secret. There’s just nothing anyone can do. I know I need to see someone, to get back on meds. I know it would help. But there’s one of the biggest problems. I don’t have the energy or finances to search for doctors. To go. To tell my story. To hope that I get a good one on the first try, because if I don’t it’ll be anywhere from a $25 to $100 co-pay a pop, just to start over. Before the cost of meds. I’ve had bad experiences on the couch; I can’t do that again. Not now. But I have to.

I have to. I don’t have a choice. I can’t fall any further.

I’m treading water. I’m so tired.

But I’m still going.

Flash Fiction – My Boy Builds Coffins

I haven’t done one of Chuck Wendig‘s flash fiction prompts in months. Which is a shame, really; they’re always achingly clever and I should go back and do them for funsies at some point. This week I decided that yes, yes, I really must write. The topic: take a random song title, whichever iTunes or whatever spits out, and use that as the title of your story.  1000 words or less.

I could do that!

The first song I heard was My Boy Builds Coffins by Florence & The Machine.

…okay, then.

My Boy Builds Coffins

I sent you a letter last week, dear cousin, telling you about how I was going riding with my brothers. I have been waiting to hear from you to write again, but I cannot wait any longer.

I have met someone, cousin. I think I may have found the man to carry my heart next to his.

He is so handsome. You would laugh, I think, but I idle in the shadows at the door to his workshop every day, now. The way his muscles bunch and stretch beneath his work shirt is like a careful dance, twisting together and apart and back together. I could sit and watch him for hours. I do sit and watch him for hours. Wordless. Breathless.

One of these days, I’ll get up the courage to talk to him. I’m sure of it.

I thought it would be last week. Last week would have been perfect. I saw him for the first time, then, on the afternoon we all went riding. Solemn faced, but his eyes twinkled with mischief and lit up in the early summer sun. He listened carefully to everything said, even though everyone else seemed to be so distracted with the world around and whatever was going on. I wasn’t paying attention to anything but him. I really haven’t been able to pay attention to anything else since I met him.

I hope I didn’t miss my chance. I should have set my hand on his arm then. Smiled. Flirted. My other cousins always said I was the best flirt out of all us girls; remember the picnic last summer? My dance card was filled and three different men went out of their way to stop at our table for a pleasant bit of conversation. None of them interested me, really, but I was polite and smiled and laughed at their silly little jokes.

So when everyone else was distracted. When no one was looking. I should have set my hand on his arm. I would smile, he would smile, and that would be it. That’s how it works, right? I’ve never felt like this before, but I see him smile, and work the way he does. I’ve been here every day since last week. I stay quiet and out of the way, just to watch him work. He knows I’m here, though

His hands, I think, are what drew me to him first. Even though he’s handsome, just one of those faces that will draw you to him, I don’t think I could describe him. Except his eyes. Dark, dark pools you could just fall into forever. Other than his eyes, I watch his hands. They are so careful with all he does; long, slender, pale fingers wrapping around the wood plane as he works. Did I mention that, dear cousin? He’s a woodworker. He arrives at his shop when the sun comes up each day, bundled in a long, dark coat. Every time he’s called away – some days more than others – he carefully puts his plane aside, pulls on his coat, and quietly shuts his shop. The smell of fresh-shaved wood hanging in the air around me now. It reminds me of him.

Talking of his coat reminds me of the most curious thing. I’ve been so cold, lately. I can’t seem to get warm, even in the heat of the midday sun. Maybe I’ll ask to borrow his coat tomorrow. If I look as cold as I feel sometimes, he would have to lend it to me. It would be the gentlemanly thing to do. And we would talk, then.

Dear cousin, I feel like such a silly girl. I don’t even know his name! I haven’t had the courage to speak with him. I only sit and watch him from the shadows. I feel as though I’m in a trance when I’m around him, as though he were the only one that matters. I don’t remember going home, or sleeping, or even getting up in the morning and walking to his shop to watch him. I’m sure papa would have a fit if he knew, but I can’t even remember the last time I spoke with him other than the morning we left for the ride. My brothers are preparing for the hunt, you know, and they wanted to test the dogs and the horses, and they all had new rifles. There was talk of trying to get a pheasant, which made me laugh because I was wearing my new hat; the green velvet one with the pheasant feathers.

Do you think he would like that hat, dear cousin? I should wear it tomorrow.

I think he helps in the fields nearby, as well; there’s a collection of farm equipment hanging on one wall. Scythes, mainly, the same way that your dear father has in his barn. Woodworker and farmer. Grandfather would scoff, I think, but a hard-working man is better than an idle one, don’t you think?

The sun is coming up, dear cousin, and I don’t feel like sleeping. I think I will put on my hat with the pheasant feathers and speak with him. I know he saw me last week. If you don’t hear from me again, dear cousin, know I have drowned in his eyes and gone to heaven smiling.

 With Affection,

**

The dusty hatbox clattered to the ground as Mrs. Framingham opened the creaky armoire door. With a sad sigh she bent, picking up the lid and the hat that rolled free. Green velvet, crushed on one side. A spray of pheasant feathers across the back.

The black-rust stain of blood on the silk lining.

She shook her head with a sad smile. Her grandmother had told her about her cousin. A great beauty, she had said. Kind and caring, but not the smartest woman.

Who would wear a feathered hat on a pheasant hunt?

Brief Book Review – Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Blackbirds is the first in a series by author Chuck Wendig. Set against a familiar backdrop of early 21st century life, the foul-mouthed Miriam Black has a gruesome gift: one touch against a person’s bare skin allows her to see how and when they will die – always in exacting detail. She travels around the southern United States, occasionally pausing to watch people die, but all is thrown into a frenzied state of unfamiliarity when she meets Louis. His death will be in a month: brutally murdered – as he calls her name.

The plot of Blackbirds grabs you from the very first chapter, and refuses to let go as you are pulled through a darkly violent world of death and fear. This is a very good thing. Continue reading

Friday Fictioneers – Warning Signs

Last week’s entry to Friday Fictioneers was a few days late, so I’m making up for it this week by posting a day early. Makes sense, right?

The recent weird weather across the country and around the world has had me thinking a bit about how nature shows warning signs before disasters occur.  Tides receding before tsunamis, bulges forming before volcanoes blow, that sort of thing.

Add those thoughts to the picture, and you get this.

david-stewart-bell

Copyright David Stewart

Warning Signs

When the poppies began to bloom on that cold December morning, we knew something was wrong.

Poppies are the herald of summer; they’re supposed to shine in the hot, heady days of July, not three days before the longest night of the year – and yet there they were, orange faces turned toward the ice-blanketed sun.

Then the animals began to turn. One by one, each horse shied and fled through the open barn door, disappearing into the hills. The pigs screamed in their pens, the chickens stopped laying.

We heard the bell ringing a full minute before the earth split open.