Wednesday, May 9, 2018

A Picket Fence and Iced Tea

Her head was tilted to one side when I saw her, reminding me of an upside-down rabbit I'd once owned. She'd escaped to the backyard one night and it rained on her (the rabbit, not the old woman in the flowered overalls), and she was never the same again. An inner ear infection, I think. She always had her head tilted upside down after that. Until her tragic death at the hands (or, more accurately, teeth) of the neighbor's Rottweiler

As I say, Tamara reminded me of that rabbit, the way her head almost rested on her left shoulder. She walked toward me down the garden path and stuck out her hand.

"Howdy, friend. Don't mind me, just trying to unstick a little earwax. Been bothering me for a week. My hearing isn't the best on a good day, but I'm half deaf now. Nothing a little hydrogen peroxide can't help. What can I do for you?"

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Heaven's Cattle Prod

You know that feeling when your heart jumps nine inches into your mouth and you're standing there with your heart pounding between your teeth, praying the other person doesn't see it, and trying to talk past the bloody, beating thing?

Some call it vulnerability. I call it heaven's cattle prod.

All my life I'd kept as far away from that feeling as possible, wrapping myself in layers of independence like fluffy down quits, insulating my fears with rationalizations, and ducking into shadows whenever authenticity threatened to shine its caustic beam on me.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Ms Tibby's Surprise

Tibby loved misty mornings. Good thing that Moorwood had plenty to spare. Nestled as the village was in a valley with a wide river running through it, nearly every morning was shrouded in a steamy haze. She liked drinking her coffee in the back garden, taking a seat on the dewy patio furniture and enjoying how mysterious every common thing looked. Moorwood was far from magical during the day, but right now, at the first breach of darkness, there were secrets in the air. 

This morning, she could hardly see to the fence on the far side of the garden. She was peering at the leaves of her espaliered pear tree, watching them reveal themselves in the mist, when a branch twitched. A bird, no doubt, lighting on a twig.

It happened again. Tibby blinked and stood up as if that would help her see better. There—again. The branch was shaking quite violently, and there was no possibility that it could be a bird. Perhaps it was another kind of animal, but she didn't think so. Tibby placed her coffee cup firmly down on the table and balled up her toes inside her house slippers.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Wayfarer: A Short Story

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Peregrine could no longer ignore the gate. For years it had dogged her, in one place or another. Dark alleyways, the ends of long corridors—her own home—wherever she least expected. Once or twice the gate had materialized right in front of her and she’d tripped over herself to get away. It always vanished after a few moments, but she knew it would come back. It pursued her.
It was frustrating and humiliating, how that shabby little gate disturbed her. She’d first seen it at the age of 12 when her grandmother died. It had not seemed so frightening then, but later it had taken on a horrifying significance.
She would be doing the most ordinary things—washing dishes at the sink, having a drink with friends, walking to work—when she’d remember something. Maybe her grandmother’s words, something she’d read, or a question that niggled in the back of her mind…and then she’d see it. She’d see the gate and the path beyond it. For one wild moment, she'd panic in irrational fear, but she knew that if she walked away, the haunting image would fade and her uneasy peace return.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Crucify: A Short Story

I've seen crosses before. Watched the hot blood run down wood and tasted acid in my throat when the men cried out in pain. Those sticks and rotting bodies on the hilltops around Jerusalem are a constant reminder. A reminder of Rome and all it means to us: pain, shame, death. The cries of those criminals are the cries of every honest man cheated by tax collectors, every virgin defiled by the lust of a soldier, every child who must swear allegiance to the beasts who killed his parents.

I've seen crosses before. But never this close. I've never stared at the torn flesh, or smelled metallic blood, or seen the feeble way the crucified have of lifting up their chests for breath, only managing to tear wider holes in their wrists.

I've seen crosses before, but until today I’d never seen someone I loved hanging on one.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Girl in the Hallway

A girl was born in a hallway. She opened her eyes and saw a white expanse of stillness, and then began to grow. Years passed as learned to walk, talk, and dance. Then one day while playing she realized for the first time that she was moving.

A black speck appeared in the distance, at the furthest end of the hall. She stood up to see it clearer and put out her hands to catch it, but her hand passed right over or through it. That was her first idea of distance.

Soon the speck was quite large, and she saw it was a door, plain and wooden with a single handle on the right side. She reached out again, and this time she really could touch it. She felt the grain of the wood, looked up at the shiny hinges, and then gave a gasp. The hinges had been directly in front of her a moment ago, but now she faced the door's middle. It was moving to the left, making its way down the long wall.

A minute later the knob had slid toward her hand. The door was drawing away from her, or she was drawing away from the door. Then it was few feet away from her, and she faced the empty wall again. "Well, I can just follow it," she said. But that was the day she realized her Great Limitation. She could not walk back to the door but was forced to watch it turn into a black speck once more, and disappear at the other end of the hall.

Monday, April 17, 2017

What Makes Me Mad

Can I start this in the winter?

Can I start the story on a sad note?

Can I start it on the morning when we ran up to see the sunrise from the water tower and I realized I had lost my friend forever?