Dust

It was a hot summer evening and Lacy contemplated the setting sun from her perch by the window.  The dust shifted slightly as the wind blew.  She hadn’t seen rain for so long, she wondered if it would ever come back again.  The desolate landscape, empty buildings – sometimes they would get to her.

A portable Walkman CD player sat beside her and she picked it up and walked to the stacks of music – she looked through the stacks of CDs and finally found the one she wanted.  “Klemperer Beethoven Symphony No. 9 Choral” were printed on the front cover of the CD. She popped it into the Walkman – her walkman, really – and went back to looking out the window.  Night was coming on fast and with it, tendrils of sleep began to mingle with Lacy’s thoughts as she drifted off to sleep.

***

Lacy jolted awake.  She heard a ping as something hit the window beside her head.  She looked out quickly, surveying the street.  Her eyes locked on a boy, not much older than herself, who was getting ready to throw another rock at the window.  She backed away from the window and moved towards the large glass doors, yelling as she exited.

“Hey, stop throwing rocks at the window!”

The boy looked at her and a rock flew from his grasp, hitting her in the head. The impact knocked her back and, sitting down, she felt a trickle of blood make its way down her forehead and nose, until it reached her lips.  The metallic taste made its way to her mouth, and a surge of nausea came over her.  She had to work hard to steady herself, especially when she noticed that the boy was advancing on her.

She started to get up to walk inside, but the boy’s words stopped her.

“I’m sorry for hitting you in the head.”

She looked at him.

“Well, why did you do it?”

“I don’t know.  I guess I didn’t know what to expect.  I was a bit scared, I guess.”

“Why?”

“It’s been a while since I’ve seen anybody.  I mean, after … ”

He stopped there.  He didn’t need to explain it – she already knew what he was talking about.  The memories remained with her.  In actuality, it wasn’t really a sudden collapse.  It wasn’t just one thing that happened, but rather a multitude.  The US had become a militant nation, a virulent strain of HIV that began infecting people by the millions and with people dying left and right, it wasn’t long before the revolution took hold.  But then, it was too late.  The already collapsing economy imploded, and amidst the blood and violence, very few remained alive.  And those that did knew how to protect themselves.  Lacy remembered her parents vaguely – remembered the privileged lives they’d had before everything fell apart.  She remembered ice cream and trips to the beach.  But now that was all behind her.  Dust and heat was all that was left.

Reality TV Show

“On tonight’s special edition of ‘Surprise,Surprise’, contestants will have to wade through a pit of dangerous, poisonous scorpions to retrieve the blue flag in the center of the pit.  To win, the contestant must retrieve the flag and return to the starting area.”

Freddy watched intently, excitedly as the contestants were revealed.  Using his intense powers of perception, he concluded that the rugged brunette Brigette would win.  He was rarely wrong.

“Joanna Somers!  Come on up.”

Joanna, a petite blond, stepped up to the starting area.

“So, Joanna, what’s your strategy?”

The blond trembled and looked around.  “I … I don’t think you can really have a strategy for walking through a pit full of scorpions.  Just do it quickly.”

“Mmhmm…  So what’s your plan?”

Joanna’s face became bright red and she refused to respond.

The announcer started the countdown, “On your mark, get set, go…”

A shrill whistle blew on the last word and Joanna climbed the steps into the pit of scorpions.  The camera followed her, taking shots at different angles to show the scorpions climbing on her arms and pinching her.  She squirmed and started falling into the pit well before she reached the blue flag.  Her body became covered in scorpions.

Suddenly, 3 people in protective suits arrived on the scene with a gurney.  They quickly and deftly opened a side door to the pit and pulled Joanna out, laying her on the gurney and wheeling her out.  One of her exposed legs was black and blue.

“Well, too bad Joanna couldn’t make it.  I guess we’ll have to go on to our next contestant.”

The next few followed a similar fate, jumping in and getting stung and bitten by the scorpions.  Freddy watched with horror and fascination.

Soon, it was Brigette’s turn to go through the harrowing obstacle.  A look of determination adorned her face as she awaiting the signal to begin.

Freddy became more excited than he had been before.  He thought, for a moment, that his breathing pattern matched that of Brigette’s.   He could feel adrenaline rushing through his body as the whistle sounded.

Brigette jumped into the pit.  Freddy felt a pinch on his leg.  And the another and the another.  They hurt.

While Brigette made her way to the flag, Freddy looked down at his leg and noticed bit marks.  Soon enough, nickel sized red spots appeared all over his legs, and they began to turn black and blue.

He looked at the TV, unable to take his eyes away from it, as Brigette reached the blue flag, her skin unmarred.  The announcer looked on in surprise as well.

“Remarkably, Brigette has not even been scratched by the scorpions.  What is this miraculous happening?  How has she been able to do this?  Look at her stride back to the starting area without a scratch on her.”

The announcer practically threw the microphone in her face as she descended the stairs, “How does it feel to get out of there completely unscathed?”

“It feels great.  I don’t know how it was done, but I would like to say thanks to Freddy, for his unwavering support.”

Freddy’s glazed, dead eyes stared at the screen.

Life Ends

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post.  To be quite honest, it’s been a pretty rough few weeks.  I normally wouldn’t even write something so personal here, but I need to get it out and share.  In the past two weeks, I have had news of two deaths of close relatives.  First was my biological father, who passed due to a massive heart attack.  And just last Saturday, my grandfather, who was ill with cancer, also exited this world.

I haven’t really mourned, or had time to.  My life is hard as a single parent, and keeping it “together” is something I normally do very well.  But these two deaths in such a short period of time have left me a bit raw.

Of these two men, I was closest to my grandfather.  As a young girl and just recently adopted, my adopted mother decided to move us across country to Virginia where her family lived.  So we drove from Montana to Virginia in our red Jeep Cherokee, to a new home and a new family far away from what my sister and I had previously known.  Moving can be scary, especially when becoming accustomed to new people and this was no different.  Upon arriving to our new home, I remember how the room selection process went, with my sister automatically claiming the first room she saw as hers.  Coincidentally, I ended up getting the larger of the two rooms meant for us. 

I don’t really remember that first meeting with my new grandmother and grandfather, but I can tell you that they both filled my childhood with much happiness.  I remember all of the funny Halloween costumes that my grandfather wore, like the year he dressed up as a ballerina.  And the time he dressed up as Dracula and jumped out of a closet, surprising my sister.  I remember going over to their house and playing checkers.  Or the few times that my sister and I purposefully missed the bus so that my grandfather could drive us to school.  Although they acted as our grandparents, to me they were so much more than that. 

He was that type of person, somewhat larger than life.  I only remember him ever being mad once, and I don’t even remember the details.  As I grew up, our relationship changed, as all relationships do.  We both shared a love of science and it was through him that I learned about the stars – he even built his own telescope!  Although he may not have known it then, he was in a sense a surrogate father, one of a few that I have had over the years.  It’s difficult not to look up to someone like him.  He was one of the most caring people I’ve ever met, and his presence was always one which inspired happiness and laughter and just an all around feeling of comfort.  He always inspired me and was supportive of my dreams and goals.  For him, I was an intelligent person, someone who was worthy of love and acceptance.  When I heard of his passing recently, it was difficult not to think about all of the things I should have done or could have done with him.   

My father, on the other hand, was someone I barely knew.  You may laugh at this, but I found him through Facebook.  I was speaking with my biological mother on the phone one day when I asked her about him and was able to find a Facebook profile that matched the information she gave me. 

Our first telephone conversation was odd – was this really my father?  Another unknown had entered my life.  While he gushed about how he had missed me and had been trying to find me, doubts were raised in my mind.  I found it hard to believe, but I decided that for better or for worse, this must be my father.  He wanted me to go visit him in Dallas, but I was never able to get the money together to go out there.  We rarely spoke by phone, but some of that may have been due to some very serious issues I was dealing with myself – caught up in bouts of anxiety and depression and having been recently diagnosed with PTSD, I find it not at all surprising that my energy stores were depleted.  I just didn’t have the energy to devote to anything – every day was a new battle that left me weary.  No situation is ever perfect and I just wish I had been able to get to know him better before he passed.

The Case of the Missing Legos – Alternate Ending #2

In response to my coworker, Deia, who has asked me to write another alternate ending, I am now presenting yet another alternate ending to the serial I’ve published, The Case of the Missing Legos.  I have graciously accepted the task.  I also want to say thanks to my readers, specifically Obscured Dreamer, and her ongoing writing with her serial Fading Fae which has been an inspiration and our mutual challenge to explore alternate endings. 

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 I woke up the next morning feeling refreshed and headed about doing my normal morning routine – I made breakfast for the boys before retiring to the porch with a cup of coffee and my laptop.

As I opened the laptop, something caught my eye, something out of the ordinary.  Something moving.  Something that seemed to be a reflection from the sliding glass door.  I was a bit scared to look, and when I finally did, I realized why.

Staring back at me was the reflection of what I could only deem as an unholy creature of the night.  A black, foreboding cape dangled around its body.  Red, fiery eyes met mine through the reflection.  I looked behind myself, but nothing was there.  It was only through the reflection of the window that I could see the being, which happened to be holding something that looked a whole lot like Luke’s Lego set.  Suddenly it changed form, into a young man of average stature and looks.

“Hello,” I said boldly to the shape-shifiting creature in the reflection, “Why are you standing behind my reflection?  What do you want?”

The being looked back at me and then I heard, in my head rather than aloud, the response from the dark being.

I have come to return the Legos that were stolen from you.

“Um…” I was a bit speechless, but that just happens sometimes.

I was intrigued by these things you call Legos and decided to study them, to ascertain their purpose.

“They’re just toys that kids play with.”

I did not know.  So, does this belong to you?

“No, not me, my son, Luke.”

You do not seem old enough to have a child.  I did not realize that this is how you were treated… perhaps we will meet again someday, once you have escaped this prison that you are in.

“Prison?”

Oh, yes, I probably should not have mentioned that. Just forget it.

“So, you mean to say that I’m in some kind of prison?”

Yes.  The souls of the damned of the Land of Stars are sent here to live in this world, never consciously knowing that they are actually here.  Once they have done penance, they are released from the prison and reintegrated into their society.  I am not of that place, so know very little about their customs.

My thoughts were racing a mile a minute.  I just couldn’t believe that I was somehow in some type of hell, if what the being said was true.

“But that would mean that…”

Yes, you are not really human.

My mind felt like it was ready to explode, a memory was triggered and images flashed before my eyes.  I fell to my knees in pain.

Forgive me.

Those were the last words I heard from the being before it disappeared and I blacked out. 

I came to later, my husband (if I can even call him that now) apparently left his briefcase at home and found me on the back porch.

I stared at his face, but it almost seemed unfamiliar, as though the life we had lived together no longer existed.  I just could not believe that this was me, that this was where I was.  That this was my prison.

I looked beside me at Luke’s Legos and laughed.

An Award!

Recently, much to my surprise, I was nominated for the Most Influential Blogger award by Obscured Dreamer.  First and foremost, I must say a big THANK YOU to Obscured Dreamer for the nomination.  As a somewhat new member to WordPress, I’ve had a very positive experience which has been made much more so by bloggers such as Obscured Dreamer – she’s given me some great feedback on my blog and I hope that I am able to do the same to others.  Her blog is also pretty awesome, so you should check it out! 🙂

That said, I have nominated the following blogs, and there are more to come, of course, and the post here will be edited as needed to include the future nominees:

UP!::urban po’E.Tree(s)

Linguistic Pulse

RevolutionIsEternal

If you guys choose to accept the award, there are a few things you’ll have to do.

1.  Display the award on your blog.

2.  Announce your win with a blog post and thank the blogger who awarded you.

3.  Present the award to 10 deserving bloggers.

4.  Link your awardees in your post and let them know that they’ve been nominated either with a comment or a ping-back.

5.  Include an imbedded video of your current favorite song.  If you’re unable to include a video, then you can use SoundCloud.

So, here’s something funny to end your Friday with!

 

 

The Case of the Missing Legos – Alternate Ending

This is an alternate ending to a serial that I published – you can see part 1part 2 and part 3 here.  I also forgot to mention that I did this, in part, as a challenge to Obscured Dreamer as she had an idea for an alternate ending for her serial Fading Fae – just click the links to read – part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4.  I really enjoyed her alternate ending!

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I woke up the next morning, ready to start the day out right.  I climbed out of bed and began my morning routine.

After making breakfast and wishing the boys goodbye, I got my cup of coffee and went out on the back porch to have a moment to myself.  While settling myself into my chair, I heard a shuffling in the bushes near the the stairs. I looked over quietly and saw something quite surprising – Rodney’s father attempting to hide his expanding beer belly in the bushes.

He turned around and the Legos were in his hands.

He looked pretty embarrassed to be caught in the act.

“So, you came into my house to steal my son’s Legos?”

“Wel… I um …. well…”

He trailed off, eyes peering down at his shoes, mustering the courage to continue.

“Well, I’ve been out of a job and stuff’s been hard and Rodney really likes Legos and always talks about how Luke has them and he just wanted some and I saw the door open and I just came in and took them.”

He stated this quickly, still looking at his feet and shuffling a bit as he stood there.

I wondered if I should press charges for breaking and entering, but instantly decided not to.  It would serve no purpose except to embarrass the already humbled man further – being unemployed is bad enough.  Rather than this, I decided that something else was in order.

“Mr. Fronker, I must say that I am quite taken aback by your behavior.  Entering someone’s house when they are not around is not appropriate, especially for a man of your age.  In the future, I suggest that, should you see the door open, that you kindly avert your eyes and continue walking, otherwise I may have to put in a call to the police.  Taking into consideration that your actions were those of someone in desperate circumstances I will forgive you, but if it happens again, you are now forewarned of the actions I will take.”

Mr. Fronker looks at me, irritated, aggressive, afraid.

He places the Lego set on the stairs and walks away, only turning around once to glare at me.  I give him my friendliest smile and wave him off.

Once he’s out of sight, I get out my laptop – time to find a more reliable security system!

I am the Phoenix

I watch as the woman born of ashes separates from me. She glows, bright, fire surrounds her, heat stroking every motion of her body. She is on fire – this woman of beauty. Her brilliance is unmatched – it dazzles me as I look closer and closer. No hint of self-hatred or remorse appears upon her brow, but rather a singular happiness at being born again. She lives.

I look at my hands – grey, dead. Strangled from loss, pain, suffering – yes, the blood supply had long ago dried up. The heart in my chest beats faintly. I watch as I tap my fingers together and they crumble under so small an impact – I watch as the grey cracks spread up my arms and reach my shoulders, as they appear all over my body. They encompass my torso. The only thing left is the brilliant orange-red heart, barely beating. Barely alive. Yes, it´s there. I can see the cracks obscuring my vision as the bright one comes ever closer, her fiery beauty blinding me, searing my optical nerve. I can feel her heat coming closer, as though her hand is reaching towards me, to take from me something that she desperately needs.

No, I try to cry out. But my mouth is dust, dry and cracked. Don’t take my heart. Don´t take my memories.

But she doesn’t hear my pleas – my anxious thoughts do not reach her. I hear the heart beat, slowly, ever so slowly. I feel the scorching presence of her hand reaching into the pile of ashes – yes, the pile of ashes that I have become – and pulling my heart from the grey dust. I am no longer conscious of what is happening except that the heat does not leave me. It surrounds me and passes through me, becomes me.

After an infinite second, I open my eyes. I look at myself, flames surrounding me. I am the Phoenix.