Tag: family

The Traveling God

A young man sat on a bench, turning to check the timetables further down the platform. He still had a good half an hour but he could not get himself to stop tapping his foot.

Past the platforms, on the far side of the station were a dozen stained glass windows, and behind the man were another twelve. He could name a few of the gods of travel depicted on them, but not all twenty-four. Religion was not his best subject, and another two had been added since he graduated. A trade hub like Fora picked up more gods than they knew what to do with, especially gods of travel. 

Fourth from the right was the one he knew best, Thera. After all, he was named after her. 

He shook his head, choked down a curse, and started to pray instead . This train hadn’t derailed in the ten years it had been in service, but how many stories could he recite on hubris? A prayer couldn’t hurt. In his head, he recited, “Thera, mother of travelers, who carries the moon gently…”

Suddenly, there was a hand on his shoulder, startling him out of his prayer, almost dropping his ticket.

Edric.

Edric stood there and said, “S-sorry for startling you. Hope…hope I’m not bothering you. Can I take this seat?”

The young man sat silent, ignoring Edric, with his stupid salt and pepper beard and calloused fingers that still felt like sandpaper on his shoulder.

(more…)

Votive

Nina flipped up the personal mirror over her seat, placed her chapstick back in the central console, and turned up the radio. The music was new, at least to her. Some band she never heard of, but honestly, pretty good. She liked how it was kind of jaunty, high energy, but without overstating itself. So much new music was trying to be more than it needed, and this, this was just something you could really lean into, follow the groove.

She reached down the side of her seat and leaned it back, pulled out her phone, and checked for updates. 

No messages for the past half hour. That was fine. No reason to get concerned.

She read Rae’s last message again. “hey mom, could you come pick me up from blue oaks? meet you at the park’s front lot, if that’s okay. love you.” 

It was probably fine, only twelve minutes since Nina texted back that she was in the lot.

She adjusted her seat back up, getting ready to pull up Rae’s contact and call her when she noticed in her side mirror that there was a thick fog rolling down the mountains. The park was named after the way the fog made the mountains, more like hills, look sort of blue instead of green. A little further south and the mountains would be described more as smoky. 

Nina looked toward her rearview. “Hope she gets here soon. Don’t want to drive through that.” She looked back down and turned just a little, just enough to get a glimpse of movement. “You sure she said she’s on her way back? You know her, she can get kind of lost in the moment.” Nina saw the girl in the back nod, her hair bobbing.

(more…)

Dragonfly: Diner

Ferg set his tray on the table, sat down, and put on his visor. The room around him was still the same, cold white walls, a white table, and a, well, it wasn’t a bad facsimile of mashed potatoes, but it still wasn’t quite past the uncanny valley. Whatever detail was missed with the meatloaf though, that little detail wrong, made it taste almost twice as good.

He sighed and took a bite. 

A prompt flashed on his visor to close his eyes. He smiled and complied. He said, “Finally.”

He opened his eyes and suddenly the room was completely different. The table was wooden, and across from him was his sister Beatrice, her hazel eyes wrinkling with her smile. “Ferg! It worked!” She took a bite of her eggs, part of a full English breakfast. 

“It’s so nice to see your face sis.” Fergie smiled and unrealized tension left his shoulders. 

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Bricked

From the window of the station Tony could just make out the outline of South America. With a nearby ding he remembered where he was standing, grabbed two coffees from the vending machine and turned around to see Lynn waving him over to talk with one of the doctors. He quickly crossed the waiting room toward his haggard wife and the well-kept Dr. Zionkowski.

As he bridged the distance, his wife motioned to the doctor. “She says she has news.”

Tony handed one of the coffees to Lynn, who just held the warm cup. He said, “How is she?”

Dr. Zionkowski lifted up the tablet to double-check her charts and then sighed deeply. “I wish I could give you better news, be more gentle. But it’s not looking good.”

Lynn mumbled, “Oh no.”

Dr. Zionkowski continued, “She…she isn’t responsive, not to sound, not to light or vibration. I fear you have only a few hours to make a decision.”

(more…)

A Better Life

Jason took another plate and stacked it on the edge of the table before picking up the whole set and walking to the sink. As he began washing the dishes, his husband spoke up.

Adam said, “Before I head out, just letting you know, I heard some scratching in the wall I think.”

“Could you get some rat traps on the way home?”

Adam stood up from the table and walked up to Jason. He wrapped his arms around him. “Sure. I could get a few from the hardware store.”

“I’ll set them up. It only seems fair if you’re getting them.”

Adam leaned in and gave Jason a quick kiss. “You’re good for me.”

Adam disentangled from his smiling husband and picked up his suitcase. “Hate to kiss and run, but I have to get going.”

“Can you take Danny with you today?”

Adam looked into the living room and saw the little troublemaker watching cartoons. He looked at his watch and then said, “It’s the exact opposite direction.”

Jason turned away from the sink and looked his husband in the eye. He stared with wide pleading eyes.

Adam broke. “Alright.” He turned back towards the kid again and said, “Alright Danny-boy. Let’s get moving! Pop has a tight schedule and I need to get your butt to school.”

(more…)

Meet Me at the Gates of the Cemetery

Peter Grange walked past the fake marble pillars that flanked the sides of the large wrought iron gate. He took a moment to appreciate the ornate flourishes of the metal flowers. If you couldn’t bring flowers, these would never wilt.

Peter turned to walk to the street and back home, brushing off some dirt from his jeans. As he looked up towards the road he saw a figure leaning against a street lamp, standing just between the two cones of light from the lamps bulbs. A faint cloud of cigarette smoke wafted away from the figure and into the leftward patch of light. 

The figure spoke up, “You don’t see many people here this late.”

Peter smiled. “Guess I could say the same.” He stopped halfway between the gate and the street lamp.

“So what are you doing here then? Paying your respects?”

Peter wanted to laugh but instead came out with, “Not exactly. More like, I was just doing some cleaning up.”

The figure shifted its weight, still resting entirely within the shadows. “Oh? You make a lot of messes.” The figure vaguely gestured towards the dirt stains on Peter’s workman jeans. 

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Broken

Giovanna wiped the sweat from her brow, smearing a thin layer of half dried clay across her forehead. She looked into the door of the cooling kiln, careful to only touch the handle. The bright yellow light within was finally beginning to dim. As she waited, she walked over to her work table and leaned against its messy surface, covered in tools and knives and rags for sculpting and shaping clay. The clock in the corner of her desk clicked along and Giovanna smiled at her notes and formulas. Her wastebasket was full of failed recipes that used to come more easily to her, but this, this recipe was sure to work. The roots she used to use had been wiped out after a year of blight and an unexpected cold snap late last spring. 

Reaching for her notebook, she recognized the remaining wet clay stuck on her hands was slowly dehydrating in the heat of her workshop, so she walked toward the wash basin. With the cool spring water flowing across her hands she took a moment to look out the window, down the cliff and across the coast. Down the path, at the bottom of the cliff was the local community. At least half a dozen of her creations were living full and engaging lives with the rest of the population. It was hard at first. People were hesitant, but now they are just people.

Giovanna turned the valve, shutting off the spring water, and faced the clock. It needed repairs, for sure. It’s gears would occasionally slip, and the pendulum definitely wasn’t calibrated properly anymore, but it worked well enough as a timer. Her clay should be finished.

She stepped over a few tools strewn across the floor and towards the kiln’s valves and knobs. She let in a surge of brisk air from outside to speed things up. The kiln would still be hot for a minute, but she was too excited to wait. She put on a thick cloth mitten and opened it up, staring at the yellow glowing embers that surrounded her creation.

(more…)

Step Mother’s Note

Dearest daughter,

I know when you went to sleep you still didn’t consider me your mother, but I hope you know that I always considered you part of my family.  By the time you read this, you will have woken up from your rest. I hope that you are feeling better. I know things haven’t been easy, and I hope when you wake things will finally be easier, fairer.

I know that this situation has taken a deep toll on you. It’s taken a toll on me as well, but I don’t mean to make this about me. 

What I am trying to say is, I hope that by the time you wake you can find it within your heart to forgive me. I never wanted to hurt you. I never wanted to do this, but… I hope you can at least understand why, even if you can’t forgive me.

(more…)

Summer Loll

Isaac leaned against the fence post that marked both the edge of the neighbors farm and informally the edge of town. He flipped the dagger in his hand, letting it rest on the back of his palm, before throwing it into the air. It spun a full rotation before landing blade first into the soft dirt. He bent down to pick up the dagger and do the same with his other hand. 

His father was more of a show off. When he taught Isaac how to play with blades, he would always do two, or even three rotations in the air before the dagger would bury itself into the ground. Isaac was much more utilitarian with his knife games. 

His father taught him several summers ago, back when Isaac was only maybe six or seven. Isaac wiped the summer sweat from his brow back then just as much as he did now. He hated the drills his father had him do; alternating stance and form at a moment’s notice. Forward grip extended his reach, his father would say, and back handed grip made boxing more lethal. A downward thrust had more force, good for armor or a thick shell, but it made him vulnerable to someone with longer reach. 

Isaac grabbed the dagger, flipped it underhanded, and stabbed it more than inch into the post behind him. 

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Incommon Haunts: Last Stop

Janine closed her leather jacket, trying to get herself just a little warmer. Late October wasn’t the coldest by any means, but it was a bit windy. She kept walking towards the old platform, holding a large bouquet of white lilies held together with a rubber band and wrapped in a Kroger shopping bag. She stopped for a second and looked at the Kroger bag she was carrying them in, tilted her head, and furrowed her brow. “Is this good enough? Fuck. It’s fine, no time anyway.” She stopped talking to the flowers, removed them from the bag and threw the bag in a trash can just before the stairs up the platform. 

Janine walked along the stone platform, listening to her own footsteps echo between the old train station and the apartment complex across the street. In the middle of the platform was an iron bench, recently renovated back to its original design from over 100 years ago. Janine was a sucker for art nouveau, but she could still appreciate its more art deco stylings, with its bold sharp shapes and sleek symmetry. 

She sat down on the bench and brought up one arm to rest against the back. Her flowers sat next to her. Turning towards the sign hanging just a few feet above and to the right of her, she confirmed that this was the right stop. The clock on the wall confirmed that it was the right time too. She was a few minutes early, but honestly, she was always early for these kinds of things.

Turning back forward, she jumped a little as she noticed that an older woman was sitting next to her now. The woman was wearing an old-fashioned bonnet with lace and a floor length dress. It reminded Janine of the Mennonites that would come into town to sell bread, and presumably other things. She only ever bought the bread and the pretzels.

Janine started to tap her foot and check her watch, occasionally turning towards the other woman who was sitting stone still. Janine would open her mouth, and then stop herself before looking back at her watch.  

The old woman finally seemed to shake awake and move a little. She blinked, once, twice, three times, and then yawned. She stretched and bumped into Janine. “Oh! Sorry dear, didn’t see you there.” She took a long look at Janine, starting at her eyes, following her nose, down to her mouth, then chin. “Have we met?”

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