(third in a series of ghost stories)
He always locks it when he leaves on business. I know it’s off limits. But I can’t help wondering what hides there. I searched the key many times, curious worm darkmawing my chest. But always empty handed.
I’m glad when he leaves town for business, a hurricane here, a revolt there. Massacres too. He assures me there’s always a demand for his skills and one day I’ll take over the family business.
When he comes home he’s so tired, his hands feel of stone. I glance up into his eyes, lost. Can’t seem to find him in shadows. His cheeks move higher on his face.
“This job is killing me,” he sighs. He brings home a dark air, some long wind foreboding and I shiver. He dusts my hair with a withered hand and I gasp. A sinking deep. A feeling to run. To scream, but my body too still. too still.
He opens a beer. Sits mute on the table. Unharmed. Tie flung aside and sunk into the recliner. His bones, a heap. Fingers dripping over arm rests. And I can’t see who I am looking at. I have forgotten.
I notice behind him the door to his room sliced open.
That dark wind swirls me. To the closet door standing – cracked. No heart in my chest. I see into space Dusk outlined souls and glint of sicklesteel and fire. Fear and trembling and teeth scattered round. My teeth falling. Then vast nothing
of no end
“I hoped you wouldn’t see this, yet”
I jump- skin out of pocket, arms tight held around me. The darkness horrible and bright. Faint smells of matches extinguished and scentless nothing.
“This is the family business?”
And his eyes stone sink back into a fleshless skull. my father, now the mask of Death.
“soon this will all be yours”
(Second in a series of ghost stories)
Her half-child back and half-full sack turns, (the sagging sun too tired of the day) and sees a gloaming shade at the field’s far edge. Trudges over to lay down under winded branches, a sleeping bed of white frogfruit. To forget she’s alone. To forget her fingers purple cracked.
An owl hoots at the secret mouse and she wakes in a pool of moon. Shivers. The field spreads a dark stain. A truck forgot, she and the half picked bag. Forgotten. Someone should come for her, of course they should. Of course they would.
Panic chews at her mouth. Closed night all around. Darkness in her eyes and shivers heat to scream.
Only blind woods hears. Hearing
a melodic strain, low and thin. Silver keys thread the dark. Is it a waltz? She turns shadow eyes to a glow. Follows the music through undergrowth. Scrape and claw. She stumbles and pitched to ground, looks up in the foil moon.
Filigree door swinging open and seated on the velvet – a crystal slipper. Diamond bright. Leather tuft interior glows pearl. Melody grows with her breath
so close in.
Steps into the coach, how lovely the shoe.
Wedges foot in. Wrought toes pained. But, her hands soft, now French manicured. Her lips pout, red and full. Money rustle of silk and wrapped fur. The smell of rich and clapping for the belle of the ball.
Click door shut.
Glass shoe cold. And colder. Colding and happy and pain. Coursing up and down and into her blood, turns her breath hard. Crystal prisms. Symphonic volt and tympani drums.
Two mornings from now they find her body – chill. Toes broken back. Officer suspects foul play. An old glass slipper inside an overlarge pumpkin rolls away. A belly full of blood.
(First in a series of three ghost stories)
He married her in candlelight. A silver ribbon round her neck. Their love in flame. And the house and the cars and kids and the silver ribbon never left her neck. Silked velvet ribbon. Crushed in places, held high on her neck with a clasp of bone. He knew because he studied that ribbon, over coffee, over date night, over her making love. He could tell its everly crease and how the light softened over edge.
Him asking her, take it off.
“You’ll be sorry.” She says. Sometimes hazeleye laughing, sometimes eyes in storm.
Times he demanded, angry. Blood shot through eyes.
“You’ll be sorry,” clear grey tears. Fall like hourglass seconds.
PTA meetings go by, and the days. Going by. And cereal bowls rotate through the sink. He watches her ribbon to plot and scheme against it. This ribbon, a steel rebellion against him. He must have it.
Take it off – the years of denial crush in his throat.
“You’ll be sorry.” Her eyes pearl.
And the clouds hang dead, pale shroud the bulging moon. The branches scrape, scrape against night fall. Across the bed her breath rhythms the universe and he reaches. Reaches across to pull the clasp and her eyelash quivers,
The ribbon limp in his fingers.
A long sigh
as her head
the night hush whisper y o u’ l l b e s o r r y
Her soft lips vanish into burgundy dark.
In the spirits of All Hallow’s eve, I’ll briefly chronicle some daily occurrences I find very “creepy.”
You pull into a fast food chain that hawks chicken sandwiches. Fresh face teenagers repeat “It’s my pleasure” over and over to you. Slaving away in entry level food service (aka chain) is a twilight zone of torture. And when they repeat again, “my pleasure,” they can’t be talking about the chicken. You start to imagine R to X-rated very pleasurable things. With a teenage automatron smiling into your face.
Freak moms spooked by kids climbing trees. Hell, breaking a bone is/was a celebrated kid-rite-of-passage. The cast – a trophy (and weapon). My best thinking, swinging between limbs. “Honey, now let’s not climb that tree, we could get hurt.” We?
Traffic cameras buzzing facial recognition software, recorded phone conversations with corporations, ubiquitous big brothering, internet spiders crawling though your email. Who’s watching? Stalker in your pocket, apple spy phone trick-tracking your every move.
Immortal FB pics/posts, indiscreet tweets frozen in forever cyber-life, little word vampires sucking your bloodygood reputation dry. Ad infinitum.
Go into a clothing store. Feel pretty good about buying those new BOGO jeans. Until you ask to use the restroom and look up to see a big red sign posted by the john, reminds the store’s employees to, “compliment her choices again and again” followed by, “celebrate our new friend with upraised voices.”
It’s a sticky flung corporate web and I’m a juicy morsel. My desire, consumer vibration so slight. Awakens worldwide-long legs. Hairy. Clustering eyes.
Oh you Monday. With your redrush urgent,
your orange streak, next-in-line, get-it-done-before-lunch.
I’m yellow drifting in a little late, weekend hung over
deskchair heaped, haven’t checked emails yet.
your high hot list, citadel efficiency
Staff mtg doesn’t start for another 5 min.
He posted calendars. In his office and garage and kitchen – spent several hours a week updating them to quarter hours, syncing old-school. With sharp colored pencils, he outlines boxes of time.
Fox news fills squared time between 6:30 and 8:30, formerly dinnertime. Lawn maintenance and church in green numbered boxes. She watches the blue bedtime box inch its way up from 9:30 to 9:00 to 8:30. His outworn hands gripping thin pencils like colorful pickup sticks. She noticed the broken pieces pierce heavy duty trash bags on Tues mornings, even though he double bagged.
“When do you go to the john?” She was there, borrowing his angle grinder. The grey clink of his fingers rummaged through a Folger’s coffee can, searching out an odd length screw. The color sharp schedule catches her eye. Rocking back and forth, heel to toe.
“The john!” she says louder and points. He needed a hearing aid. Of course wouldn’t admit it. Old men love their bowel movements. A daily badge, a gold star sir for gastrointestinal bravery.
“You didn’t schedule your bowel movements, isn’t that the highlight of your day?”
He scowls. A hoarse sound, possible guffaw. Remembers laughter like his last kidney stone.
She’s right, he didn’t schedule in his “constitution.” Takes good half hour or more. Enough to read the front page. Or study the obits for friends.
“guess I’ll have to update it. “
“And get a hearing aid.”
“what?” he deadpanned. Heel turn. “Not gettin’ a damn hearing aid. Juliet couldn’t make me. Neither can you.” Coughs. “So go on, here’s the grinder. Keep the box neat will ya?”
Shoes her out of this neat hen-house garage. He hunts and pecks for the one screw he found and lost several times. Entirely unnatural. A neat garage I mean. That schedule too.
(overheard – Queen Elizabeth II on cell talking to her stylist of eleven years, Stewart Parvin about the acquisition of the Warhol prints)
Stewart, when you come up, bring a gin and that beastly pillbox.
Yes, yes. I’m fine. Just reading up on reviews of my Diamond Jubilee. It’s just the bees knees. Don’t you think it’s gone swimmingly so far? The paracute out of the plane at the Olympics was genius. And that Daniel Craig – brill.
Don’t forget the updated wardrobe spreadsheet. I need to approve next month’s ensembles. I do believe we forgot to log the Hermes scarf I wore yesterday. Bollocks – these readers!
I saw it on the tele, yes – I’m absolutely cheesed about Harry’s naked bum pictures and Kate’s as well. Brings down the Royal brand, of course. PR is casting about for a new image to release for the media to bandy about. Preferably one that’s clothed.
Oh the Warhol prints? Those were ages ago – 1977 as I recall. My he was a cheeky monkey.
I don’t know, Stewart. I think the colors are quite too garish. Do you think the public will like to see them at Windsor?
But I’ve run through my art allowance this year. I could approve a petty cash expenditure.
Oh, alright, they are modern, sigh. Send up the Royal gallerist.
Don’t forget the gin. And Stewart, I won’t wear the cornflower blue pumps until Lilly breaks them in again. They still pinch.
If you haven’t papercut your pinky on the slim corner of sanity, then maybe you aren’t pushing the life envelope hard enough. Or maybe you have solid mental health genes (also good). This painting reminds me of the daily tip-toe tripping of the mental health wire and our need to balance out these “wiggles.”
The background color – this minty pea soup green – is also the color of the walls of the mental hospital one of my best friends stayed in. Checked in to that facility to get the wiggles out. But it’s very routine in there, no wiggle room. Only pills, clocks and talks. If you have the dough. The bill alone could drive you nuts.
I have the distinct impression that these deep purple wiggles will not be worked out. Are the green walls giving structure to the wiggles, lending a stable hand? Or are the wiggles encroaching on the green walls in a slow-mo land grab? Is it a stalemate, a writhing truce with ground being lost and gained in equal measure. Or a protracted battle of attrition with sanity as the long shot?
Don’t miss the red dots which could be game changers. Stabilizers or trauma points? Although they may just be ticklish.
I just found out wriggle and wiggle aren’t interchangeable (though I did it anyway). Wiggle is a back and forth movement. Wriggle is a turning twisting movement a.k.a. to squirm.
So there is wriggle room in a wiggle room. But not the other way around. Drives me crazy.
If I could find myself here today, it would be a talisman. To protect me from evil. From my greed to be something more than what I am.
If I could walk this path of yellow it would surround me with its bright shield. A place of refuge to look upon the water and see the reflection of the sky. Of me. Of the things that were and the things that were not.
To divine between solid and spirit and find somewhere a sign. A chill breeze brushes my skin. The haunting loveliness of life. Gold leaves fall around my fingers and summer’s memory washes away.
Come Fall with your earth-bound wand and sweep away the summer. Fold me into your apron crisp and cool. Bury me in leaves.
I have a few choice things to say about punctuation. One would sound like this, “#*!&!!”
And the other would go like, “Ohhh, you darling ellipsis, how I adore you . . .”
It’s interesting how emoticons 🙂 have subsumed the life of punctuation. Emotional shorthand that in the “olden days” would have taken couple of sentences to explain, nicely delineated by commas and quotes – reduced now to smiling faces and stuttering exclamation marks!!!
I like Jessica Snow’s painting because it transforms the symbols of dialogue and makes these marks we call punctuation into gibberish. The addition of color further alienates them from their rhetorical duty. They are happy and carefree, released from bonds of wordiness. They meander and flock like lime-green geese in formation. Emoticon-y, “cartoony,” vaguely bubblesque.
The modified punctuation itself is doing the talking here. Signs that used to tell us when someone speaks, now all jibber-jabber away, Can’t shut ’em up. So the question is, what are they giggling about? These buoyant half/symboled shapes?
Ninety percent (90%) of meaning is not corralled in words, letters or punctuation. That facial twitch or icy edge to my voice is lost on my social media friends. Are we losing some bright depth of interaction in our new tweet-driven styles? How do you tweet a pregnant pause?
I rarely punctuate in texts anymore. Who needs to tap the period key anymore? The phone does it for you. The loss of punctuation is bleeding over into my email life too – since Microsoft doesn’t know to add periods like Apple does. So its Fare-thee-well my punctuated friends. 😦 But I’m hanging on to my question marks