Delusions of grandeur

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Brett Myers challenged me with “Once I touch it, there’s no going back.” and I challenged Bewildered Bug with “One is the loneliest number.”

Looking out through the glinting sands, I stopped, unable to contain the creeping doubt another second. Digging into my pocket to pull out the digital compass, I squinted into the sun. Yes, this was the right way. I sighed, wiped my brow and trudged on.

There was nothing to see except hill after hill of sand. I could see myself as if from above, as an eagle would see me, or worse, as a vulture watching in wait. I would look no more significant than a lizard, I thought. Or perhaps like an ant to a human? Or, I continued with the line of thinking, maybe even as small as the inside of a cell. What am I after all, I mused, than a small colony of cells?

Which of course was why they wanted me on this journey. Surely they wouldn’t let me die out here? I, human – one of the last in the land – and they so in need of a coorperative, live specimen. I knew it was a dangerous idea to try and work with them, but I reasoned that billions of people had already tried to fight. The small pockets of life left on the planet remained resistant.

It hadn’t been hard to pack, or get away. Nobody much seemed to notice my presence anyway. Not since Dayna.

It wasn’t my fault, I said again to myself. As if someone were listening. Watching. Maybe even waiting. Well, they were supposed to be waiting, weren’t they?

Where the bloody hell are they? I played in my mind the scene where they would appear. I’d run toward them, hands outstretched. I knew that once we touched, there would be no turning back. I’ll be forever theirs. A sample. An outsider that will never belong.

Outcast to humans too. Not that it mattered. None of it mattered. Not any more…….

Dayna. It really wasn’t my fault! Her face flashed in a collage of images. Smiling sweetly, posing for a photograph in the sun by the sea – before they’d come. Her morning face, flushed from sleep and crumpled from the pillow. Her blood stained skull, and a gaping hole where her cheek used to be.

I gripped the GPS tighter in my pocket and grit my teeth. Why hadn’t anyone listened? It all just seems so unfair. Well I’ll show them. I’ll show them all. I’m going to be a god. Spread my seed and cells from one end of space to another. It will be mine. And then we’ll see who you want to talk to.

I’ll be the KING of this land. I’ll be the creator. Thor of thunder! Titan of the sea. You’ll see. You’ll see me and weep. All of you.

Savour the last dance for me

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Jay Andrew Allen challenged me with “It was the best of times…but not for long.” and I challenged Brett Myers with “Maybe I could sing you to sleep…pull the curtains, put down your beer and cigarette.”

Stubbing out his cigarette, Felix stood and smoothed down his suit. He’d sat and watched the others fumble, and he’d given them their chance to impress the newcomer, but enough was enough. He didn’t want her to leave with nothing but a laughable story of men from Santiago de Cuba.

He smiled and took long strides toward her. He caressed her with his eyes – appreciating the curve of her neck, and the way her white skin glowed through the hazy smoke filled room. The light danced over her hair but got lost in its wilderness, he thought. The dark depths appeared too impenetrably glossy. For a moment, he hesitated, something about this woman gave out such strength and valor that it seemed to answer a question he wasn’t aware he wished to ask. But it was only a moment, and quickly his natural ease returned, his smile radiating his intentions and his eyes innuendo.

“Hola, mi nombre es Felix. ¿Se interesa a bailar?” he said, grasping her hand with a mix of firm insistence and gentle persuasion. He’d not met a woman yet who had refused him. It was his inheritance – this way with the opposite sex. Sometimes it was also a curse – there was always temptation surrounding him. Urging him on. But he did admit to himself, it was a curse he could live with. He lived for this kind of moment – electric.

Her eyes lifted to his below lustrous lashes, and her red rouged lips curved into a gracious smile. He noted a dimple in her left cheek – but he did not ask her for a name. The band slowed to a familiar and slow rhythm perfect for the kind of dance he had in mind – lambada zouk.

She stood, and once more he allowed his eyes to travel her form. He knew she could dance – better than any woman here. So he took her hand, pulled her close from a spin, and let his grip guide her.

Her scent filled his lungs as their bodies glided over the floor. There was no resistance within her fluid movement, his every instruction – from the roll of his hand on her back to the gentle pausing fingertip – met with a corresponding roll of the hips, or rock in rhythm. He’d never met a partner he could guide with such grace. He closed his eyes, and allowed his senses to flood.

Her breath over his skin. The flash of the lights warm over his eyelids. Her silken skin dewy in the humid air. They rocked together, and he was far away, in love with the night. In love with life, and all its possibility.

Suddenly, beneath his fingertips, he felt her grow rigid. It broke his reverie, and he opened his eyes. Standing before him, hands folded across his chest, stood a solid looking man in a suit. His eyes flashed then grew cold. Distant. Did he want to fight?

He dropped his grip on the girl, and she hung her head as the suited man squeezed her forearm. Felix took a step back, surveying the crowd, who, sensing danger, had begun to move toward the outer reaches of the bar and eye this new stranger with trepidation.

Felix smiled, and spoke in English. “No harm done. Have a good night,” he said. The girl turned so he could see her face. Her eyes implored him. Gone was the strength he had seen in her. She now appeared as though she were nothing more than a young girl, or a bird. Yes, he thought. A bird, but one without flight feathers. A bird in a solid cage.

He smiled at her. Then he walked past the couple, threw money from his pocket toward the bar, and headed for the inky blackness of the door. He was not followed, and as he stepped out into the street, he tried to capture the beauty he had felt only moments earlier. His appetite aroused, he headed toward another bar. There would be another girl, he was sure.

Bad Habits Die Hard – Chapter Three of ‘Hijinks’

For this week’s Indie Ink Challenge, Brian Feebhail challenged me with “Bad Habits Die Hard.” I’ve written this challenge in the voice of my main character for a young-adult novel I am writing for NaNoWriMo – your feedback as always is appreciated.

Chapter Three

She looked out from her bedroom window, thinking about the day. Why had he been so kind to her? It seemed suspicious, all of it. After all, he was so good looking, and she was so plain, she said to herself.
She headed over to the mirror, and looked at herself in the reflection. Yep, plain. Her friends had always said that her best feature was her hair. She twisted it now, on top of her head. She had seen some women in magazines with this hairstyle, but on her, it just looked wrong. She never seemed to be able to pull off anything other than a messy style, or a classic pony tail. Her shoulders slumped. She wouldn’t hold his interest for long, that she was sure of.

Then she remembered how he had looked when they’d said goodbye. That couldn’t have been fake. Even though they’d only just met, he truly looked forlorn when he’d waved goodbye and headed down the footpath back toward the ferry terminal. Like he really didn’t want to go. Like he wanted to stay and talk to her, in the same way she wanted to talk to him. To take the time to get to know each other better, to understand one another more. She took out the piece of paper and stared at it in her hand. Caleb Liu. 6045 67 89. It was just a simple piece of paper, but something significant. It represented her first date.

She looked at herself again in the mirror, seeing the smallest of smiles at the edges of her lips, but when she caught sight of herself, her hair now hanging in a half up, half down mess, her freckles sticking out against the flush of her cheeks, her hips bulging slightly above her jeans because of the way she was standing, everything crashed back down again. She didn’t even know if this was a real phone number. What if today had been one big prank?

Why else would someone so handsome want to spend so much time with her?
Why HAD he been so friendly? She searched her mind for an ulterior motive. Anyway, she eventually said to herself, when she couldn’t find a valid reason for him hanging out with her; he will soon figure out how boring you are and you’ll be alone again.

Alone, in a different country, without any friends. She slumped on her bed. She’d had a spectacular day, and had experienced so much, but now that it was over all she wanted to do was bury her head in the pillow and cry. She still missed her friends. She missed her hometown. She missed the familiarity of the world around her that she’d had back home. She hadn’t known how simple her life had been before, and how good it was for her.

She beat her fist into the bedspread, forgetting that she still had Caleb’s number in her hand. It had started to become a little damp from her body heat, and she nearly tore it in half by accident when she punched the bed. It was enough to shake off some of her self pity. She lay her head on the pillow and looked out the window. The lights were shining across the harbour, and the colours looked pretty.

Why oh why was it so hard to believe in herself? She questioned. Just for once, she wanted to feel like the girls on T.V. She wanted to feel beautiful, desirable, and fascinating. But you’ll never be, she told herself. No, you’ll never be that, she heard the voice say, nasty and mean, just like the ugliest version of herself.

She looked at the piece of paper. What did he see? She wondered. Next weekend she would know more. It’s a long time to wait, she thought.

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I challenged L.Vu with “Art for Art’s Sake” – why not drop by and check it out?

First Kiss

This week’s Picture It and Write photo from Ermilia corresponded with my prompt for the Indie Ink Writing Challenge from Kevin Wilkes – great work guys!

Kevin challenged me with
“Write a story that takes place entirely outdoors and includes a discussion of
a natural object or occurrence.”

Here is the photo from Ermilia.

“Hurry, or we’re going to be late!” said Roger, holding two folios under his arm while glancing back over his shoulder to Jenna, who was obviously struggling. She could tell he wasn’t going to wait for her, and mentioning her high heels wasn’t going to make him slow down. Why had she worn them today at all? She’d known they’d need to cross town to get from one court house to the other, a good ten minute walk through pedestrian-filled uneven sidewalks.

There was a stillness to the air. It was hot, and humid, making her feel more rattled than usual. She knew why she’d worn the shoes of course. “I’m right behind you,” she said in a fake breezy voice that belied her challenge, while dodging a pushy teenager who was listening to music so loudly that the guitars could be heard from a meter away. She hurried behind him, keeping to his pace but feeling a tiny hot spot appear on the top of her big toe, that pinched with every step. On top of that she had started to sweat. To provide a distraction, she allowed herself to openly gaze at his body, as she walked.

His arms were strong and muscled, the shape just showing through the long sleeved jacket of his suit. The clean lines of the tailoring showed off his broad shoulders, and athletic torso. Lowering her eyes she appreciated his determined gait, and started to wonder what it might feel like if she just grabbed his bum and squeezed it a little. Or had both hands on him, pulling him toward her in a heated embrace. Or …

“Oh no!,” Roger said, turning and stopping so abruptly that she ran right into him, feeling his solid chest and inhaling a heady mix of his scent – that seemed to rush through her cells creating confusion. She tried to look composed, stepping back a little. He didn’t notice. “It’s a T8 storm signal,” he said, holding out his iPhone to show her the glowing screen. As if on cue, rain started to sheet down and the sound of thunder filled the air. “We’ve got to try to beat the height of the storm. Are you going to be OK?” he said, concern filling his eyes as his gaze dropped to her shoes and back up to her face, making her shift uncomfortably from foot to foot.

“I’m going to be fine, but what about the papers?” Jenna said, imagining the reaction they’d receive from the judge if they tabled soggy papers, themselves soaked in rain. “I don’t have an umbrella,” she said, indicating her grey ostrich-leather office bag.
“I can run ahead with the folio, grab a brolly, and meet you back here,” he said hurriedly, looking at the sky. She’d not seen this side of him before. Caring, thoughtful and considerate. She knew him as the hungry go-getter, willing to do anything to get the deal done.
“That would be wonderful,” she said, and in the next moment he was gone, one hand shoving his phone back into the inside pocket of his suit while he ran, the other wrapped around the work they’d labored to finish over the past three months.

She slunk over to the shop window and felt her breath return to normal as she peered into the display of jewellery. She lifted her arms a little, and enjoyed the escape of heat. She liked the princess cut diamond, in a cluster of smaller gems. She imagined what it might look like on her hand, second finger from the left. Or in a box. In a box, being held by Roger, who was smiling at her. Holding out the box, on bended knee, imploring her with his heart-stopping eyes.

Lost in her thoughts, she didn’t notice that the sidewalk on her side of the street was all but completely empty. She turned from the shop window and felt something cold on her feet, and looked down to see that water had already risen to cover the cement, and gushed up in a fountain instead of running down a nearby drain.

The sky darkened purple, then black, and rumbled ominously. She noticed lights come on in the office towers across the street, as if it were night. She felt a peculiar sensation in the air, and noticed that her hair had started to stand up on her scalp. She could smell something strange too, and tried to remember when she’d smelt that scent before. Inhaling deeply, she saw a white flash of light in her mind – the photocopier. Ozone. Her ears started to buzz and she felt an unusual warmth. A siren rang through the air and car horns sounded in the distance. Water continued to rush over her feet. She decided to stop waiting for him and get inside. She could see an open cafe on the other side of the street, but she’d need to dash 20 meters uncovered to get there.

She stepped out into the rain, and it immediately soaked right through her cotton blouse making it stick to her body. She tried to run, but the strong current of water caused her feet to feel sticky, heavy and slow in motion. Her skirt wouldn’t allow her knees to bend high enough, so she had to walk, a well of water rising past her calf. Suddenly she dipped in the road, and her shoe caught on something. A loud ‘BOOM’ resonated through the air and she looked up to see a giant flash of lightning, forking into not one, but 5 streaks of power through the sky, seeming to make land right at the office tower. She screamed, and tried to budge her foot, but it was stuck. ‘BOOM!’ rang another penetrating bass crash, and she saw the blue fork at the same instant, less than a meter away. “Ahhhhhh!!” she cried, pulling her foot out of the shoe, only to fall into the watery road, splaying the contents of her office bag into the stream. ‘BOOM’ the sky bellowed, and she saw nothing but light.

Smoke. Light. Everywhere blue. Green. Buzzing. Water, streaming, gushing. She drifted up above her body and saw her form lying in the middle of the road. She watched the agonized faces of those who could see her from the cafe. They were crying, screaming, hugging each other. She could see another figure approach her body through the rain, and then she was tunneling down a slippery dip, a million miles an hour, feet first.

The sky was concrete and water. Feet walked through, leaving no footprints in the watery clouds, until her mind registered that she was upside down. Whispered voices attached to misty faces arced in front of her, looking right into her eyes. She felt her waist held steady by strong arms, light everywhere, weightless and free. She drifted between flying, and an awareness of a body that covered her like a skin. In the distance she listened to a beating drum thrumming in a rhythm she had heard a million times before. Voices.

“Jenna? Jenna? Are you O.K?”  It was a good voice.
“Damnit, I shouldn’t have left you!” it said, pained. She became aware of her hand. A warmth surrounded it, that reminded her of sunset. The glow of amber across the horizon.
“Jenna. I’ve been wanting to say this for a long time now,” the voice continued.  “I’m in love with you,” he whispered gently. She knew that voice. She liked it. Could she open her eyes?
“Don’t leave me now…,” she heard. A sniffle, and her hand felt more pressure.
“Don’t leave me Jenna,” he sobbed.

She strained against the light, ignoring the crowd behind her eyes that questioned her. She pulled with all her power, feeling herself stretch into a fine line as she flew across golden fields of wheat, over an entire lake of shimmering water, growing thinner and thinner. From deep within her essence, she felt an orb float upwards in a pulsating glow, resting behind her eyes.

Colour filled her senses as she snapped her eyelids open. Misty, impressionist painted people drifted before her until one face, so close she could smell his cheek, focused.

Roger.

He smiled, and planted a gentle kiss on her cheek, relief written in his eyes.

Roger, she said to herself, wondering if she was dreaming.

He loved her too?

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Why don’t you check out Sir’s response to my challenge “The restless waves curse over the rocks, and the sea is the colour of my sorrow”.

Sailing Paper Boats

For the Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week, Mare challenged me with “It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year since it happened”, which is a very timely challenge, as this week was exactly one year since my father died of brain cancer.

The salty breeze blew as the girl carried a cardboard box toward the lake. She was escorted on either side by two women, one older, and one younger, and there was a sense of purpose in her step that loaned gravity to the box. Poking out the top were the harsh lines of triangles in a multitude of colors, glossy and firm.

The younger girl was crying. Tears streamed down her face as her long blonde hair whipped across her cheeks in the wind, sticking in places where the damp salt penetrated. She reached up and brushed it away, but the slow stream of warmth from her eyes continued like an elegant waterfall.

The older lady held her chin high. Her eyes were wild, like the colours of the sky as it began to fill with the dying embers of the day. Her crisp white shirt gave her a polished and professional appearance, at odds with the natural beauty of the surrounds. Those who knew her could see the signs of the immense stress of the situation, but a lifetime of caring for others facing similar circumstances kicked her actions into auto-pilot, and she smiled through the pain.

A small group was gathered on the wooden jetty over the lake, as if witnessing some sort of ritual, a rite. The wind blew stronger, and as it gusted, the sounds of birds filled the air – chorusing the fading sun.

The girl with the box reached the end of the jetty, and took off her thick winter stockings. Despite the cold, she lowered herself down the steel ladder into the black briney water, the colour of deep space and equally mysterious. They were only a few meters from shore, and from this vantage could see right across the bay to the other side of the lake, where tiny houses began to turn on lights in their even smaller windows. Surely it would take all day to swim that far, and at least an hour’s sailing?

“Ahhh it’s freezing!” the girl said, her cheeks ruddy in the wind.
“How are we going to do this? Does someone want to pass them to me?” she said, gesturing toward the paper boats in the box, while holding on to the steel ladder with the other hand so that she wouldn’t fall in the water. Her question gave away the spontaneous nature of the event.

“I’ll pass them to you,” said the older lady. The blonde girl was standing with her arms wrapped around herself in a hug. On the shore, the last glowing warmth hit the land, highlighting the bare Jacaranda tree and the verandah. “This is exactly what he would have wanted,” the girl on the ladder said, taking the first boat in her hand, and holding the eyes of the older woman, who looked like her mother, so striking was the resemblance.”Yes, I think he would have liked this,” she replied, smiling and frowning at the same time.

The boat traveled through the air to the water, where it sat high up on the surface, bobbing expectantly. The girl gave it a little push, and it began to sail, solo, into an unknown future. Soon it was joined by another, then another. A line formed when a fourth entered the water, and the second boat tipped on its side but continued to float. They spread out, forced by unseen currents and eddies.

“They might end up in the channel and go right out to sea!” said the mother-woman wistfully. “That would be nice,” she added, passing another boat carefully. “Yep, they might. Who knows where they’ll end up? Some might cruise to the island and make a landing there, only to sail again with the next tide,” said the girl as she prodded the paper boat in her hands forward.

One after another, the fleet set sail. “What are we up to now?” said the girl, eyeing the box contents. “Well, there’s only 5 to go. So we’ve sailed 50. That’s most of his life,” she said. “Here you go. We could say this one is his early years, just going off to school, or it could be the last few years we spent together, the holidays to the islands, or out fishing, depending on which way you look at it” she said, pausing to gaze out toward the middle of the lake, and biting her lip as if trying to concentrate very hard, or to remain stoic.

“Last one,” she said, passing a white boat into the hands of the girl. “I guess this one’s both birth and death. Happiness and sadness. Joy and grief. The full circle,” she placed the glossy paper boat in the girl’s hand. The girl spun on the ladder and sent it sailing, salty tears running off her nose as she leaned forwards, joining the huge pool of tears they’d already cried, as big as a lake and as deep.

“We love you Dad,” she mouthed, wiping her nose with her skirt, and watching as a seagull swooped down to inspect one of their creations.

The jetty fell silent, entranced, watching as the boats floated away. “It’s hard to believe that a year’s already passed,” someone said, words blowing on the wind, scattering over the waves through the huge blue expanse.

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I challenged Jen O with “Listen to your heart: You are standing outside a room but can clearly hear what is happening within. You cannot enter the room”.