A Night To Forget

Narrow rays of light rested on Paul’s face, waking him from a deep sleep. He sat up and faced the window trying to get a read on the time of day, and then turned to the hotel’s alarm clock. Someone had unplugged it. Paul failed to repress his smile.

Paul felt a hand grasp his arm and try to pull him back to facing the bed. Under the covers rested a slightly chubby man with alabaster skin who was still trying to pull him down although Paul had turned away. 

Theon spoke. “Go back to bed. It’s much too early.”

Paul retorted, “How could you possibly know? The clock has been mysteriously disconnected from the wall. Do you have any idea of who would do such a thing?” Playfulness danced across his words as he stared into Theon’s bright green eyes. 

“The clock was still plugged in when I got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.”

“It was, was it? Was it still plugged in when you got back in?” Paul’s smile turned into a smug smirk as he cornered Theon in his not-quite-lies.

Theon stared at Paul’s deep brown eyes and then his dark curly hair, basking in his light like a serpent might bask in the sun. And after a moment he spoke, “You should stay in bed longer. There are things I still want to try.”

(more…)

A Gentle Sound

Grace woke up, rolled over, and stretched her arm to pull Izzy closer. Her hand felt empty mattress, so she patted along for a few seconds before finally opening her eyes and seeing that Izzy wasn’t there. Even with the blinds pulled, she could tell it was deep in the night, as no light peaked out from the corners of the window. 

Grace yawned, “Izzy, honey, where are you?” She sat up and stared at the empty half of the bed.

Grace felt a tickle of breath across her ear – Izzy’s voice. “I’m on the roof. I want to show you something.” Grace, startled, looked around the room. She rubbed her eyes and blinked them open again, but still Izzy was not near. Shaking her head clear, she mentally prepared for leaving the warmth of the blankets and threw her legs over the side of the bed. It took her a second, and a great amount of energy to take that single small step to the cold hard wood floor, and then into her slippers.

Across the hall from her room was the guest room, the door and window open to the small veranda roof at the front of the house, pointing toward the street and the city below. As Grace forced herself through the thick unrelenting sludge of being half awake, she whispered to herself, “Thank God Mom’s not visiting.”

Grace dragged her feet forward and pushed aside the lightly fluttering curtain so she could poke her head through. Izzy was standing at the edge of the roof, the tips of her toes just past the gutter. The side of Izzy’s face was illuminated by the drag of her cigarette. Grace started to crawl out, hoping not to be too loud and startle Izzy. 

(more…)

Paint

I have a few paintings in my living room. Each one was painted by my mother. She never went to school for art or ever made a dent in the art community, but she made a dent in me. She loved to paint figures in a variety of poses, attempting to express her mood through the figure. If she was anxious, the figure would pick at its skin. If she was joyous, the figure would dance. It was simple, yet beautiful.

She would taste the paints before using them. It didn’t matter if they were acrylic or watercolors or oil, she would touch the pad of her finger to the paint and then against her tongue. She said this would help her determine the mood of the paint. “You don’t want angry paint in a painting about sorrow,” she would say. I felt like she was doing this to tease me but she would even do this when she thought I wasn’t looking. She had to taste it each time in case the paint changed its mood, buried in her cluttered art box.

After working, after cooking dinner, after everything she did for us, all of her spare energy went toward painting. Despite that, she would just start another canvas when she was finished, if she even finished a painting. Never framed them, never hung them up.

(more…)

Incommon Haunts: Finished Business

Emma sat on the edge of her mother’s old double bed. She only came in here to dust the furniture and vacuum the floors even though no one had lived there for a few months. And also for the visits.

She ran through the events of the last few days, making sure the omens were the same and that she was sitting in the right place. There was yesterday when the raven flew into the house. Emma tried to chase it out but it just kept landing on the picture of her mother sitting above the fireplace. Then this morning, without warning, she thought she smelt the same scent as the white lilies she placed on her mother’s grave at her funeral. 

And finally, just a few minutes ago, there were those two identical twins in the second story hallway beckoning her to her mother’s room. Emma shooed them out and sent them back to the house next door and was determined to have a talk with their parents, but right now, she needed to wait for her mother.

(more…)

A Landscape of Thorns

Dear Alexia Ashgerd,

I hate to write to you like this, but it is of utmost importance that you read this letter fully. I need you to understand what you are doing, but I fear that what I say may fall on deaf ears. The whole idea seems absurd to any logical thinker.

I read of your recent discoveries in the Adirondacks. The stories are saying you followed clues in old oral traditions and found a series of a tunnels, caves and odd structures. It all reminded me of something that happened a few years ago.

(more…)

Dragonfly: Rescue

It had taken some time, but by now, modified versions of Maya’s hand were commonplace. When she lost her hand, almost a good decade ago, her new hand was more of an experiment than a product. She wanted something that could grasp, something that could feel. And that took trial and error. It also took money. Her payment came in the form of working on a dragonfly.

The Dragonfly Project hadn’t reached out to even the far corners of the solar system yet, so Maya was lucky and got to work in a relay floating just past Mars. Within a few years after she’d been assigned, the project sent out relays out as far as Eris. Now her relay directory had listings named after gods she most certainly never heard of.

Her hand was clamped to her work table while its inner workings were carefully placed  across the table’s surface. A spring or two had worn themselves down to useless. 

“Maybe I can get some lighter plates next holiday,” she mumbled as she screwed her pinky back into place with her good hand. The newest model weighed even less than a similar sized human hand. Maya’s, however, felt more like carrying a medicine ball at all times, one armed. 

(more…)

Down the Mountain

Lucas set the broom against the wooden railing of the back patio, took a step back, and wiped the sweat from his forehead. It had taken him a few hours, but finally the patio was completely clean again. As clean as the day he built this place. Lucas turned towards the valley and looked at the horizon.

He said, “Tree line is looking a little shorter than yesterday. Picking up a bit of speed I guess.” He took out two small paper tickets to a boat. It was docked off the coast in the opposite direction, and slapped them against his hand as he looked back at the horizon. “No point in these anymore.” He ripped them up over the garbage bag still hanging on one of the knobs of the railing.

He took another moment looking off into the distance, his hands on his hips. It was the first time he saw the sun setting like this, bringing a new glint to the snowy tips to the mountains on either side of the valley. The forest itself was quiet for the first time as well, as if nothing in it wanted to break the moment. He turned around, grabbed the garbage bag, and headed inside the sliding glass door.

(more…)

921: Part ???

Edgar opened his eyes. He wanted to blink, but couldn’t. He took in the scene in front of him. He heard the sounds of a robin chirping outside, saw the sunlight filter in through the shades, and felt the smooth fabric of the couch beneath him. Likely mid morning, definitely the living room, but why he was there was coming a bit slowly. Orienting himself, the remaining furniture slid into place into his mental map, with the stove in the connected kitchen coming last. He wished he could smell. He missed smelling breakfast. Edgar tried to stand up and start his day, but found his legs unwilling to listen, so he sat there, confused.

Edgar felt a weight shift to the right of him, but found himself unable to turn his head to look. Then, a hand was placed on his shoulder. “Eddie, honey, we need to talk about something.” He recognized the voice. It was Tina, his wife. All fear melted from him, and if he could have released the tension in his shoulders, he would have.

Tina took her hand, gently placed her thumb and forefinger on his chin, and turned his neck so he was looking at her, unblinking. “Your eyes are open, so I’m going to assume you can hear me.” Tina’s makeup was slightly smudged and smeared, she clearly had been crying recently, with small streaks of her eyeliner under her eyes. She took a sip of her deep hickory-colored drink. 

(more…)