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Archive for November, 2012

He’s a walking contradiction

A study in opposition

He’s Bill Gates with a mohawk

And Gene Simmons in a Sunday suit.

He’s a Harley Davidson with training wheels

And a Mercedes Benz with discount tires.

He’s a computer geek with a mean throwing arm

And a quarterback reading Shakespeare on the sidelines.

He’s everything and nothing

Life and death.

He’s happiness and despair

Comedy and tragedy.

He is all

He is one.

He’s my clean little secret,

My private public lover.

He’s my most comforting nightmare

My most terrifying dream.

He’s my past and my future,

My fantasy and my reality.

He’s my knight in blood stained armor,

My paladin without a god to serve.

He’s my man of steel with silken hands

And my angel with devil’s horns.

He’s a lover marching in to battle

And a warrior wielding flowers.

He’ll love me and leave me

Tie me up and let me go.

He’ll lift me up and let me fall

Give and deny.

Love and hate.

Stay and leave.

Pray and curse.

He’s everything I am

And everything I’m not.

He’s love on the rocks.

He’s always and never.

He’s here and there.

He’s mine.

He’s my own.

He’s my muse.

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Contagion

Hands, slender and long-nailed with ghastly white skin reached out for the terrified face of the man whose words had sealed its fate. His eyes were wide with terror, and his mouth opened in a silent scream as those deathly hands gripped his face and held tight, not allowing him to move from his place in the high backed leather chair he graced as if it were a throne. Holding him still, the wild eyed creature climbed up on to the wooden surface of the desk as bony fingers slid back, wrapping around the sides of his neck, finding their way in to the hair there that seemed to thin rapidly with every passing second.

As items fell from the desk, scattered to the floor like so many forgotten pieces of refuse. Papers fluttered through the air as bare feet kicked them aside and the hunkered form continued its predatory climb up, across, and onto the creature’s prey. Stringy hair a mixture of white and black and stained with something that resembled old blood hung in to those wide, intense eyes as the hollow-cheeked abomination crouched there on the desk. “Look at me,” the voice was a hiss, too reptilian to be human but too clear to be animal, and jagged nails dragged across the man’s face.

Blood gathered rapidly at the surface of his skin before beginning to run down his cheeks, pooling in the place where the nightmare’s hands pressed to his skin. His blue eyes continued to stare off in to the distance, not focusing. He wouldn’t… No, couldn’tfocus. It would seal his doom, he knew it. An angry sound left the creature, as if air were rapidly escaping between its pointed teeth and the stench of death flowed over his face. “Look. At. Me!” the voice insisted again, and he felt his head being squeezed in warning, as if it were going to be crushed like a pimple.

Still he resisted, but when the abnormally, inhumanly strong hands shook him hard, making him feel like a rag doll despite being rigid with terror, his fight fled from him. “Look at me!” He looked. His blue eyes met those rage-filled ones and he was aware for only a second that the creature had one. Pale, thin lips stretched over jagged, dangerous teeth in a cruel smile and a sound that rumbled like a hiss and a growl in the back of the creature’s throat sent terrified chills down his spine. “You broke your word,” the creature whispered in that deathly voice as it leaned in closer. He could feel the moisture of its breath now, could hear the promise of violence in every uttered syllable.

Nails dug in to the skin beneath the hair on his neck, blood gathered around the puncture wounds and began to drip from there, sliding down and staining the collar of his once clean white button-up shirt. “You broke your word and now you have to pay. Now you have to suffer like I suffered.” Little more than a terrified whimper left him at those words, and the creature let slip what could be assumed was a laugh but was too malicious to hold any mirth at all. “You smell like fear. Are you afraid? Yes? Good. Let me show you what happens to betrayers.”

Hissing again, the creature stood on the man’s desk, spindly legs unfolding until it stood straight, simultaneously lifting him bodily from his chair until he hung from the creature’s grip, his toes nearly a foot from the floor. Two easy steps carried the monster to the edge of the desk before it jumped down and dragged him, still holding his bleeding head in its hands, to the tall mirror on the far wall. Thrust before it, the creature stood behind him, peering over his shoulder and grinning a feral, murderous grin. His reflection was pale, and growing steadily more so, his eyes were wild and terrified, his hair was thinning and growing out, his teeth were rotting and breaking until his gums were black and the teeth themselves were jagged and terrifying. He seemed to be growing thinner and thinner as the creature watched, the human in its hands rapidly seeming to mimic its looks.

As he watched in horror, his mouth opened to let loose…

~*~*~*~*~

A wretched scream left Dr. Jacob Ryan’s throat as he arched and writhed, fighting against the restraints that held him down to the bed. The saddened green eyes of his once-colleague looked down at him while a male orderly delivered another tranquilizer shot to his thigh. As he began to calm, he murmured incoherently and Rebecca Mardsen waved the orderly away. “You can go,” she said quietly. She wanted to be alone with her newest patient.

When the door to the cell-like room closed behind him, Rebecca leaned down to lift one of his eyelids, looking at his dilated pupil for a moment before shaking her head and standing. Looking down at the file in her hand, she frowned. The last file Jacob had begun had been on himself and it contained a paper he’d begun working on just days before falling ill. The title ‘Contagious Psychosis’ was typed neatly across the top of the paper in bold font.

Shaking her head, she turned to leave the room as she began to read, and just before she cleared the door, she heard an odd sound from behind her. The malicious half-hissed laugh sent a chill down her spine, but when she turned to look back at him, Jacob’s form was still and the sound was still echoing through the room. Frowning, she stepped in to the hall and pulled the door shut firmly, trying to shake the feeling left behind in the silence after the laugh stopped abruptly.

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I’m always forgetting something. So much so that the feeling people sometimes talk about, where they feel as if they’ve left something behind or turned on or open or closed or running or canceled has become such a common place sensation for me that I pretty much just ignore it. I know we get those feelings for a reason, but with the alarming frequency that I forget… well… everything, I’ve just learned to not pay attention to it. But I can’t do that today. I can’t ignore it or push it aside, and I certainly cannot forget anything.

Why? Because today is a big day. Today is a momentous occasion. Today is so stressful I’m pretty sure I’ve lost ten pounds from the worry. Today is Thanksgiving. Today is the first holiday celebration I will be hosting in my new home, and the entire family will be here. And I cannot afford to forget, so I made lists.

I’ve got them coming out of my ears, these lists, with their names and dates and amounts and costs and stores and letters and ink and graphite. They’re seeping out of my pores and I feel like they’ve become more a part of me than my forgetful nature. I’ve got them tucked in pockets, shoved in day planners, typed up on smart phones and emails, taped to cabinets and posted to the fridge. I’m drowning in a sea of little paper slips and strips and I’m bleeding ink of many colors because I keep losing and forgetting my pens, so I have to replace them.

But today is different. Today I’ve remembered everything. I remembered the turkey, green beans, the stuffing, the apple pie, the pumpkin pie, the sweet potatoes, the corn, the gravy, the rolls, the cider, the tea, the coffee (to keep me awake), and the butter. I even remembered the decorations: table-cloth, cloth napkins, silverware, china, wreathes of autumn leaves and gourds and dried pumpkins. The wine is chilling for the after-dinner toast, the entire house smells of food and autumn, and there’s music filling the air, occasionally punctuated by the sound of banging pots and pans or a yelp of pain because I forgot to wear an oven mitt.

My guests are arriving and I’m so proud of myself. I remember to wash the flour off my hands before I go to greet them at the door, and I remember to smile even though I feel like screaming at them that they are too many, too loud, and too soon. They’re asking if I need help or if there is something they can do, and even though I want to scream “yes!”, I remember that the polite thing to do is say no and wave them off after handing them a glass of tea and telling them everything will be ready soon.

I remember to do a double-count of heads to be sure that I remembered to set a place for everyone. I remember to don my apron before returning to work in the kitchen, even though I keep forgetting to breathe. I remember that my husband’s parents are coming and that I’m terrified of what his mother will think if everything isn’t just right. I remember that his father is allergic to nuts and decide that it’s a good idea I didn’t have time to make that pecan pie my cousin requested.

But even though I’m sure I remembered everything, even though all my lists have been checked twice and my pen is out of ink from all the strike-throughs and check-marks I made to say things were done or taken care of, I feel like I’m forgetting something. I’m mulling it over and wracking my brain as I set the table and prepare to call everyone to dinner, to display my prowess over the kitchen utensils and grocery store carts and silver polish. I begin to panic as I can’t shake the feeling that something incredibly, crucially important has flown from my mind and can ruin my big day.

I remember what my husband’s arms feel like as he pulls me in to the office and closes the door, insisting that I keep forgetting to breathe. I remember that my hands are shaking and there are tears in my eyes which could be disastrous because this morning I remembered to put on mascara and eyeliner, but didn’t remember the water-proof kind. I remember how much he loves me as he strokes my hair and insists I take a minute to myself. I remember that he’s been so proud of me and so worried this week as all I’ve done is go, go, go. I remember the scent of his cologne as he guides my head to rest against his chest and tells me he loves me.

I remember what calm is. And then I remember something else…

I remember I forgot to set the timer on the oven. I remember the smell of overcooked poultry and stuffing that’s turning black at the edges. I remember panic. I remember how fast my legs can carry me. I remember that it’s impossible to run on wood floors in stocking feet when you’re in a hurry. I remember what pain is as I throw open the oven and try to grab the pain without a mitt (again). I remember laughter… inexplicable, sudden, raucous laughter as I finally pull the turkey, with its slightly tough meat and too-crisp, too-dark skin out and place it on the counter.

I remember what relief is as I realize that the day is decidedly ruined, but at least it’s over. I remember that I’ve been bottling every ounce of stress and worry and panic up inside of me for weeks. I remember that despite all my lists and all my preparation, I’m only human. I remember that because I screwed this up, there probably wont be any more holidays at our house.

I remember what today is all about. I remember that I’m thankful. I remember that a world of expectations have just been erased because I burnt the turkey.

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Her Name Is Sarah

Her name is Sarah, and her fingers are moving over the paper, smearing the thick, slippery paint everywhere, painting a picture of her home. She’s painting the blue of the sky and the green of the grass, the black outlines of the house and the yellowish orange of the sun. She’s humming a tune she’s known her whole life, one without an end that spins itself over and over in her mind, one that annoys her mother and makes her father groan every time it starts. She’s crouching on the carpet and her hands are telling a story without words while her toes curl in and around the fibers.

They’re soft and thick, plush and tickling the sensitive skin under the soles of her bare feet. She’s drawing her pet now, a little bright pink ball of fluff beside the big tree. It’s purring, sitting a few feet away and watching her paint with its lazy eyes, head tilted curiously to the side. She’s ignoring her hair as it hangs in her face, obscuring her view of her painted place. She’s biting her lip and listening to the distant creaking of her mother’s rocking chair and the sound of her father’s truck rumbling up the drive way.

Her name is Sarah; she’s still humming her song while she’s painting her favorite thing of all, a purple birthday cake with a messy, smeared number five on it, the number of years since the day she was born. She’s painting her birthday scene on the lawn where her stick-figure self is surrounded by family and friends from her class. And now she’s adding the final touch to her perfect memory, her perfect dream… the bright red apples hanging from the branches of the big green tree beside her birthday scene.

Her name is Sarah and she’s seventeen years old. The blue of the sky is what’s left of the dish detergent her mother put beneath the sink. The green on the tree is antifreeze her father keeps in the garage. The brown is the chocolate sauce she puts in her milk and the black is the ink from her mother’s calligraphy set. The sun’s rays are painted with the remains of a carton of orange juice long since gone bad and the purple is old grape jelly scraped from the bottom of the almost empty jar in the back of the fridge full of food that’s growing life on its surface.

She’s kneeling on the tattered remains of her mother’s favorite fur coat, a crime that would be punished if her mother was able to get out of bed, and her fingers are adjusting the bumpy, pulpy pink substance that forms her cat’s body, taken from the mess left behind when she bashed in its skull with the bust of George Washington her father was so proud of showing off. The bright red apples are painted with the stuff that’s collected in the Tupperware container she cooks her meals in. Her fingers reach for another pinch of her favorite treat and as the recently microwaved meat slips between her lips, she sings a few sparse words from the song she can’t seem to forget.

“The song that never ends, yes it goes on and on…” she stops to chew for a moment, still humming and bobbing her head as one hand reaches out to grab a bit more of the pulp from the cat mess on the carpet and uses it to decorate her birthday cake with little pink candles, giggling. “And they’ll continue singing it forever just because…”

Her name is Sarah and her mother would be mad about the mess she is making, but she hasn’t left her bed in days, and her father can’t spank her because he doesn’t have hands anymore. Or eyes. Or a tongue. Or a heart. She slurps the luke-warm liquid from the pulmonary artery and lets out a happy coo as her distant blue eyes lift to look up at her Daddy and what’s left of his body slumped in his recliner. “It’s gonna be such a pretty picture, Daddy. You’ll see.”

The rumble of thunder is the tank rolling down the road, ignoring the dilapidated house a few hundred yards off the highway, the creaking of the rocking chair is the back door blowing in the wind, and the rumble of her father’s truck is the sound of a jeep pulling up outside carrying five men with guns expecting an abandoned home in the war-torn country side. The clicking of them pulling the hammers back on their guns doesn’t seem to faze her, but Sarah reaches out to pick up the nearby cleaver anyway.

“Did you come for my party too?” she asks in a distant voice, only lifting her eyes from her picture once she’s fully upright. She’s stepping over the picture, she’s ignoring their hurried shouting as she lifts the cleaver over her head and smiles that broken smile.

Her name is Sarah, she’s seventeen years old and lying in a pool of her own blood, eyes glassy and distant as the dirty and torn remains of her favorite flower print sun dress are soaked through by the crimson liquid spilling from the series of holes in her chest and stomach. Her world is going gray and fuzzy, and now black and cold as her lips form the quiet whispers of her favorite song.

“Yes it goes on and on my friends…”

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