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Rose of Sharon

Authors note: Music to read by “There’s no place like home” Michael Giacchino

Wicked dreams invaded her sleep. The nightmares had been going on for some time, and there was nothing she could do to stop them.  Every night, when the moon would creep over the horizon and extinguish the comfort of the sun, great waves of fear would wash over her soul. Sweat would soak the nape of her beautiful neck as she ascended the staircase one step at a time. Shadows would play tricks on her mind, causing her to see things that weren’t there, hear things that could never exist. Her house was very quiet after dusk and making noise would only summon ghosts, she tread lightly in pink, cotton slippers.

Rose of Sharon was an exceptionally gorgeous young woman filled with brains, courage and up until recently, a sound mind. When the clocks in her home struck the coming of bedtime, she prayed silently for one night’s sleep without waking up screaming. The vodka had helped but was wreaking havoc on her body, the hypnotist was a waste of money and the dream catchers she had purchased from the Indian reservation were malfunctioning.

Her mother had loved John Steinbeck’s novel Grapes of Wrath, so she named her daughter Rosasharn and spelled it exactly the way he had. She figured a child with three first names was more likely to be bullied than anything else.

The troubled girl put a kettle of hot water on the stove and waited for it to boil. She was drinking herbal teas to help relax her body before attempting to fall sleep. She took a seat at the kitchen table and looked at the black and white photo of her mother sitting on the counter. She loved her mom desperately, and could almost hear her whispering quietly in her ear like she had when she was a child. “Rosasharn, my sweet Rosasharn, sleep well precious one…you are special don’t ever forget that.”  

She slipped her cheek into her hand and tried not to cry as memories of her mother flooded her vision. Her dark hair was hanging loosely so she took a strand and twirled it in her fingers. When steam erupted from the teapot, she poured herself a cup and dipped and dangled the small teabag until brown liquid floated around in delicate circles. The hour was approaching and a tiny knot began to form in her rock solid stomach. If her mother had been alive, she would have asked her to sleep beside her to stay away the demons. She wasn’t embarrassed by this terrible fear of hers. She had confided in her boyfriend once, but he had laughed and told her to take some sleeping pills. She never broached the subject again. She was alone in this battle for sanity and dread overtook Rose of Sharon’s heart.

After finishing her tea and making it safely to her bedroom, she flipped off the light and climbed underneath the Egyptian cotton sheets. Once her eyes adjusted to the hellish darkness, she gazed around to make sure the boogeyman was not lurking in a corner, or worse, underneath her bed. She checked her cell phone to see if he had wished her goodnight. He had not.

Pulling the blankets up to her chin for warmth, she looked out into the night’s sky and noticed the full moon staring down at her, burning into her retinas. Her mother used to tell her that the moon was Gods bellybutton. She giggled at the stupid, but sweet memory. She felt good tonight and maybe sleep would come without any repercussions. The tea was working its’ magic and numbness spread up her toes and towards her neckline. It was only an hour before she began to dream.

Lightning bolted across the clear desert sky and was not followed by thunder. There were no clouds, no rain, all was still. Streams of electricity dominated the atmosphere, not even a god could survive the onslaught of sheer power. Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata was being played on a piano somewhere and the music reverberated into the thunder-less world.

 Rose of Sharon walked down the valley of death in a white dress and matching white sneakers, oblivious to the raging war above her head, she hummed along to the depressing music. The trail she followed was endless in length, but she marched on in order to find the pianist and demand to know the reason for playing such a sad song, a terribly haunting song. One she had heard in all of her dreams.

 Rattle snakes watched her carefully from coiled positions along the side of the path. Their tongues never left their deceitful little mouths, and their eyes were fiery red with hatred. Hundreds of them sat frozen as the woman in white trudged onward. Their eyes never left her. She was terrified of snakes and took note on how they remained human like.

 As she progressed up the dusty trail, she encountered a house that reminded her of her own home back on planet earth. There was a small lawn, white picket fence, and the ominous piano sat on the front yard. Only it was not her home, it was his home. He was sitting with his back towards her playing the song over and over again on his Baby Grand. She had walked hundreds of miles in mere seconds and hadn’t seen any buildings or people. But now she had found him.

As she drew closer to the compound, the man stopped for a moment and straightened his back. This caused her to halt for a moment.

“So young lady, you’ve managed to find me. You have been searching for a long time, haven’t you Rosasharn?” He said in a very deep voice.

“How do you know my name?” She said while walking slowly towards him.

“Oh, you’ll find that I know a lot of things. I know where you were born, where you went to school, how your mother died. Little things like that. But don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone her dirty little secret.” The mysterious being told her. He had yet to face her.

“She had no secrets, she was a saint. What are you talking about? Is that why I have so many nightmares?”     

The creature said nothing but went back to his melody. She began cautiously towards the large instrument.

“Go no further. I have been sick and I don’t want to infect you.”

 Noiseless lightning flashed and flickered. The snakes had begun to slither closer.

 “I want you to tell me why I have these dreams, what does this have to do with my mother? And why do you keep playing that song?” She said and was immediately overtaken with unquenchable fear.

 “…Many people think this song was written because he was extremely sad. I think Beethoven experienced some sort of inexplicable joy and this was the masterpiece that was created in his heart. As to your other questions, your mother is the one haunting you. She knows you have a special gift and is trying to deter you from utilizing it.” He said matter-of-factly.

The young woman stood dumbfounded and quite alone. Things began to move and come alive in the distance. She wanted to wake up but could not find the strength.

“Why are you fearful child?”

“Why won’t you face me?” She said to the back of his head. Her voice began to quiver and her right arm began to feel tight as if some unseen force was squeezing it.

 “I’m very sick, dying actually. Won’t you come in for some tea?”

 She looked up at the house and began to back away. Something was not right, her chest heaved and her knees shook. Rattling grew louder and things began to move in the windowsills.

 “No, I want to go home.” She cried. Her arm began to hurt more and more.

  The creature turned around and she screamed.

 “But darling… you are home.”

 

He let himself into her house, she had given him a key for their anniversary. When he opened the door to her bedroom, she was kicking underneath the covers and moaning softly. He tiptoed into the room and sat on the bed and gently touched her arm in order to wake her up. He knew she was having another nightmare. The doctor told him to do it in a non-aggressive way so she wouldn’t react badly. When she told him about the dreams it broke his heart.  All he could do was sit and wait for her to awake from it. He touched her forehead with a cold rag and rubbed her shivering body. He wished he could take them away so she would be at peace.

“Rosasharn, it’s me love. Wake up baby.” The man bowed his head and prayed for her.

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Hello Walter, goodbye Jack

Authors note: I love fiction and have been writing a ton of it lately. For some reason I have been sticking with the romance genre. I hope you guys enjoy this short story of life, memories and lost love. Please feel free to leave some comments. Music to read by: “Claire de Lune” by St. Marks philharmonic Orchestra

The old man hobbled softly towards a bench situated along the mighty Atlantic and took a seat. He held a bag of seeds in his left hand and a rolled up newspaper in the other. This is where he had first met her all those years ago, before cancer took her from his arms. God it must have been fifty, no, sixty years ago if it wasn’t a day. He remembered how she looked on that chilly, February afternoon. Her black hair was tucked into her wool collar and she wore a dark green scarf that accentuated her hazel eyes, her cheeks were rose-red from the bitter sting of winter. It had no effect on her personality because her laugh overpowered the noise of crashing waves and pissed off taxi drivers honking their horns in the background.

He removed a handful of bird food and gently threw it on the concrete sidewalk. The pigeons and crows would come, they always did. Food was scarce this time of year, the flying creatures ate whatever was available. They weren’t picky eaters, they were vultures. But he loved them dearly because no one else did.

He sat down and tried to remember what she had worn that day when she came trotting out of the woods like a lost angel. It was a black skirt, he was sure of it, a black skirt and a grey coat with ruffles on the hem. She was wearing red lipstick and brown buckled shoes. She was holding her school books and heading towards some study group he had long forgotten. She was extremely adamant about doing well in school and in the years to come, she pressed him to further his education. He had no use for school, but because she was the reason his heart beat, he wanted to impress her and in the process, become a better man.

Several pigeons made their way over to the stale pellets and decided hunger was the lesser of the two evils.

“BAH!”  The man shouted and swung a leg to scatter the herd. He laughed gingerly at their purple and silver bodies and tossed more feed on the ground with the hope of enticing other species to come and join the feast. He turned around and looked at the park where he had first encountered her. Two giant oaks to the left, a green cresting hill in the center, two more oaks on the right and the small waterfall cascading down the middle of it all. The town had erected a playground near the park’s entrance some years ago but other than that, not much had changed. She loved feeding the birds and in her memory, he made it a daily habit to befriend them.

He exhaled and a puff of smoke jutted out from his wrinkled jaws. It was cold, colder than he remembered and zippered up his fleece to stay away pneumonia. He laughed at the thought of getting sick because at this moment, and at this time, it mattered not.

His life had grown short and he had come up north to visit this special place one last time. He closed his eyes and pictured his darling in his mind. How precious she was to his heart, how beautiful and sweet and unforgettable. The woman had changed his life, gave him meaning and something to take care of. He cared little about himself and could have lived a bachelor’s life. But when he met her and saw the twinkle in her eye, he knew without a shadow of a doubt, this was a once in a lifetime happenstance. Oh how he loved her!

“Hello Jack.”

Jack bowed his head and sighed.

“Hello Walter.”

“What are you doing up here? You promised me you would stay put. What am I going to do with you?” The man with the devious smile questioned him without any emotion whatsoever.

Jack ignored him. He looked back towards the oak trees and tried hard to remember which one they had carved their names into. They were foolish romantics when they were young, and did silly things kids do when they first fall in love.

“Just wanted to get away for a few days, visit the old neighborhood. See some old sights.”

The invisible man sitting next to Jack reached down and grabbed a seed from the ground and popped it into his mouth. The thing pretended to enjoy it and rubbed its’ belly in mock fulfillment.

“I see you’ve chosen the cheap brand this time. I enjoyed the breadcrumbs you wasted last week. Have anymore?”

Jack remained silent as he pictured her ice skating for the very first time. It was their first date and they both had fallen more than once.

“I didn’t come here to feed you Walter. The birds need food this time of year, it’s cold and they have nothing else to eat. Giving food to hungry birds isn’t a waste. But then again you wouldn’t know about compassion, would you?”

Walter tilted his head skyward and chuckled. He was wearing a short sleeve shirt and dark jeans this time. A pair of sunglasses sat tilted on the bridge of his nose and a devilish smile formed on his whiskered face.

“Nonsense Jack, compassion is another flaw in the human species I will never understand. It’s a waste of time and effort and when it’s all said and done, you are deeper into poverty than you were at the start! And all in the name of helping someone else! Come off it old man, there is no room in this world for the likes of you.” Walter said matter-of-factly as he picked at his fingernails.

Jack thought about the day he purchased the ring and asked her to marry him. It was a happy day, a glorious day. She’d put it on her finger with tears streaming down her cheeks, and with quivering lips agreed to become his wife.

“Walter, if it’s all the same to you, can you just shut the fuck up and get on with it? I’ve been listening to your crap for the last seven years and to be perfectly honest, I’m tired of it. I want to see her.” The old man said with little anger and much hope. Her face was becoming much clearer now.

Walter glared towards his prey and took off his glasses, its’ eyes were pitch black with rage.

“So be it.” With one finger, Walter touched Jack on the neck and the lonely old man began to fade into eternity. Seeds fell to the ground and the pigeons began to fill their stomachs.


Trifecta Challenge: Rebel without a cause

The rebellion began once the fuses were set on fire. A great cacophony of explosions invaded the quiet atmosphere and turned the peaceful town into a graveyard. Great and small alike died valiantly.

Trifextra Week: Forty-Four: For the weekend challenge, we’re asking you to write exactly 33 words about rebellion and/or revolt.  Interpret it as you will, just keep it to 33 words.


Trifecta Challenge: Oasis of an eye.

Photography by Gabriel circa 2011
Weeki Wachee Springs, FL.

Trifect Week Fifty-Three: Write a 33-333 word story,poem,song etc. using the word “Hollow” as the prompt word. Authors note: Please enjoy this short story of complete fiction, feel free to leave a comment. In honor of typical fashion, my entry this week is exactly 333 words. Music to read by “Infinity” by The XX.    

His voice remained as hollow as the eyeballs in his skull. Lifeless, black globes gazed through her body and it caused Jennifer’s soul to shudder in contempt. She stood tall in front of the powerful man and remained like a lioness defending her territory or worse, her cubs. If he wasn’t a wonderful former lover, she would have slapped him and told him to go to hell. But that takes moxie. Hers had been taken when she was falsely  imprisoned because of him several weeks earlier.

“I don’t know what brought this on Benji but I told you, I left the affidavit in the bottom right drawer. By the way, don’t ever bring that up in public again. You had no right to say that, you had your chance, and you were the one who lied in court! Not me! Remember?” The young woman felt the pulsing vein creep up her neck like ivy on a wooden fence, pretty at first but in the end, chokes the beauty and leaves scars behind.

He captured the image of her oasis like pupils in his tortured mind. He felt terrible that she was infuriated with him. He noticed the way her blue eyes lost its usually warm glow when she was all hot and bothered. He didn’t want to lose face in front of her like the week before last. He remained stoic.

“Typical Benjamin. Stay silent. Just keep playing king and barking orders through your golden telephone. How’s the service up here on the fifteenth floor?” Her heart shaped face radiated a trifecta of emotions; honest aggression, embarrassment for not having something more clever to say, and more importantly, a broken heart. She would have accepted some sort of apology, but the camel’s back was broken repeatedly, and it was an old animal. Enough was enough.

His façade cracked, he leaned forward to kiss her lips and she yelped quickly before allowing him. It was the oasis in her eyes, those deep, eternal pools.


Trifecta Challenge: 33 words and several more

Triextra week: Forty-Three: Write about a favorite thing in 33 words… Authors note: On this weekend challenge I decided to write a small collection of very short stories, all of them 33 words of course 🙂 But as for the challenge itself, my submission is the first one. Please enjoy them all and let me know what you think! 

 

The Rocky Mountains spiral horizontally across the earth unopposed, causing the vertical to become distorted and make you dread mortality. Early sun cracks the atmosphere and unveils its mighty peaks and ferocious pitfalls.

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She sat quietly on her throne and watched the full moon scatter beams into eternity, the Chianti swirled around her belly and she remembered kissing him. She blamed the wine and grinned playfully.

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The fire was lit to keep the herd alive. Cold had fallen suddenly on Tucumcari, freezing everything exposed to the elements. Old men searched the desert for sustenance, terror struck their beating hearts.

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She picked up his new book for a third time and marveled at the name etched on the cover. Her eyes danced with excitement as she scanned her wardrobe for something to wear.

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Storm clouds congregated over the small town without mercy or grace. An invisible blade split the sky; large pellets began to assault villagers. They ducked and dodged and shook their fists towards heaven.

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The old mutt jerked its lazy head and sprinted towards the knock. Feel free to answer the door, he almost yelled. He watched her smoke the cigarette without a care in the world.

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The fire alarm roared above the nurses as they scrambled to regroup the geriatric wing into some semblance of order. Sam tried to escape amid the chaos but was tackled by his wife.

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Nausea was rampant among the fleet. Rogue waves enveloped the sea and nothing could quell the turmoil. The people below deck buried their heads and sang miserable songs to forget the trouble outside.

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The baby elephant trotted towards Lucy who stood in complete awe. The pachyderm had been a surprise birthday gift and she loved him instantly. The animal blew its trunk and her heart melted.


It’s going to huff and puff before you loose electricity.

Hurricane Sandy is barreling down the East coast miles above the churning Atlantic Ocean right now. As you read this paragraph, a monster made of energy and all sorts of ferocious power is rotating in the heavens just waiting to crap down lightning and bullets of water against the inhabitants of this tiny globe. We must have pissed off the atmosphere one too many times and now, after several false alarms, this could be the proverbial mother-of-all storms. I believe the eye of the milky-way shaped natural wonder is hovering near the Carolinas. If you had the guts and, I would assume, supernatural powers to stand near the center of the storm and look up, you would probably see a red-eye full of malice and rage with no other purpose than to terrorize us for intruding its orbit.

Hurricane Sandy 2012

Meteorologists and laymen alike will never fully understand each other. It usually works in our favor to take the advice from the truly informed professionals. As opposed to your average bar room nonsense fabricated by way too much alcohol and a grandiose sense of knowledge. How about the guy standing at the bus stop looking at the clouds? Nine times out of ten he’ll give you his two cents worth. When someone lacks the proper education to give you a lucid and educated guess as to the proper trajectory of a category one hurricane shooting up from the south at a gazillion miles per hour, they will credit their theories on experience from previous storms. This is what I do.

The pros say one thing, our neighbors say something else and when it comes down to it, we fail to concur and wait for them to retract what they’ve told us. When Irene struck in 2011 we were told to shovel holes underground and hide like a pack of groundhogs with all the survival equipment we could strap to our backs. Not much happened. But we comply and prepare because not to do so would be asinine. The wind howls, rain falls, branches topple telephone poles, more huffing and puffing from the galactic phenomenon and boom, the power goes out. Back to the Middle Ages we go!

I am generally concerned about this pre-Halloween trick. When the weather guy on T.V throws his hands in the air repeatedly and when it’s obvious he has no power to force his eyeballs to blink, I guess it would make sense to heed his warning and haul ass. He just told us the subways in NYC will be forced to shut down tonight and the LIRR will be out-of-order, who knows? Maybe the National Guard will come rolling in next.

I like storms though. It has a way of breaking monotony and it makes me believe this is the way earth releases its stress. Through hurricanes and snowstorms and Wizard of Oz style tornadoes, the earth regurgitates its frustration and reminds us the fate of humanity lies within its ability to tolerate us, and we should be happy if it allows us to survive another uppercut from one of its roaming fists made of dark smoke and terrible thunder.

The markets are packed with little old ladies roaming for cheap canned goods, there are parents purchasing milk for screaming brats, single women are stocking up on God knows whatever it is they stock up on, bachelors like myself linger around the snack area trying to figure out if a box of crackers can last us three days and will it go well with my beer. A frantic call over the intercom, someone has slipped in frozen foods, people fight over a leg of lamb, a single roll of toilet paper flies over my head. It’s just your average end of the world crisis being played out in your local food store.

Gas stations are backed up down the road too. It’s amazing how confused the whole parking lot becomes once there’s a threat of a gas shortage. People just sit in their vehicles and stare straight ahead waiting for the guy in front of them to pull out, shake off and put the nozzle back in its place, and that’s not a euphemism.  It’s all good because someone in the Middle East is making money.  More good news for us Americans (um, yes this is dry sarcasm at its best). Some tough guy will get out of his car and yell at the person in front of him for not moving fast enough. I sit and think you can only go as fast as the pump allows you maniac. An old man bangs on his steering wheel; someone else overflows their tank and the flammable substance leaks dangerously all over their pants, but it’s no big deal, it’s just your everyday emergency.

Thankfully it’s an election month so gas prices have dropped considerably in our favor, just in time for the storm of the century.  Yet it doesn’t really matter because the officials have called a state of emergency for most of the coastline. Many people have to evacuate homes and leave their lives in the hands of a terrible situation in which they have no control. Please seek out proper shelter if you have to evacuate. Call your local Red Cross for more information.

This type of storm is a wonderful excuse to break out the survival gear your wife mocks you for owning. Short of a zombie apocalypse, this is the right time to use it.  I keep a bag near my bed and another in my vehicle in case I find myself in a situation where I have to be mobile. I thought about giving you a detailed list of what to keep in a survival kit, but I’m not going to. There are other websites you can visit which will probably be more beneficial to you than mine would. If you’ve been paying attention to this article I just finished telling you I was shopping for crackers and beer a day before a hurricane. All jokes aside, go buy Les Stroud’s book “Survived” and you will find yourself ready to take on anything Mother Nature has to throw at you.


Trifecta Challenge: The midnight hour

Trifecta Challenge: Week forty-eight In keeping with the month of ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the night, our discussion topic for the week is things that scared you as a child. Write a 33-333 word story using the word  Sinister. This story is exactly 333 words. Music to read by: Enya “Tempus Vernum”

Thunder shattered the sound barrier as quarter sized droplets of rain pummeled the newly installed Anderson window. Shadows cast ghostly apparitions on the inside of Jonathan’s bedroom wall causing him to sweat in fear.  He took the bottle of vodka and turned it upside down, disregarding the burning fire coursing down his throat. He needed to stop the nightmares. He knew the true horror of things that transpired beyond the midnight hour.

She made me buy that cursed thing, I was against it. She always gets her way. Jonathan looked in the mirror and cursed his wife under his breath.

With his ratty blanket wrapped around his shivering body he walked towards the window and watched the storm rage with fury. The wind screamed like a banshee released from hell and lawn chairs were scattered about the grass. It was terribly dark and he pulled the blanket closer to his chin like a child trying to protect himself from some unseen monster.

But there was a monster, a living thing walked around his home. It had no business doing so and it had already driven his wife mad. His skin crawled at the thought of its wooden legs moving forward with inhuman speed and agility. The gypsy said it was just a block of wood, a child’s toy, and the silly stories surrounding it were better left for camp fires and Halloween night.

His bedroom door creaked open. Jonathon turned quickly just in time to see the outline of the sinister puppet standing upright in the doorway.

My God, this isn’t happening. In the name of all that is holy, please go away you cursed devil! It stood for a moment before making its way into the bedroom.  He wanted to scream himself into insanity but his voice could not be found.

“Why are you hiding up here? We have many things to discuss Jonathon.” The painted lips began to form a smile as it howled with laughter and started towards the human.