Common Ground

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A cramped space this. I need to stretch, feel the earth under my feet. A little less talk and a little more quiet.

Thriving in closed spaces, you’ve mastered the art of contorting yourself, being stashed away.

The air is mine own. My mind lifts off- a sailboat in flight, the air my water, the water grounding me and the earth a vast expanse of ocean I float on.

You and I see the same road.

You are intent; and I never really look.

When did I begin to speak a different language?

Your eyes unseeing, uncomprehending, a thousand miles away.

Your every word, every drawn breath, every expelled curse- so easy to understand, mired in the world.

I surged ahead, wanting nothing.

And yet, here we are.

You lead, your eyes on the road.

I follow. My eyes also on the road.

The darkness is complete till dawn breaks.

The sky bursts. Clouds scud across the palette. Tints shifting settling into a golden hue.

Let us stop here and confront each other in enforced silence.

After breakfast at this lovely place, things will seem a little less intense, our bellies warm with pancakes, omelettes, buttered toast and hot coffee.

[200 words]

Priceless Joy Thank you for hosting this challenge. I’ve missed your challenges, missed writing and it feels great to be back and alive once again. Footy and Foodie, thank you for the photograph.

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Celluloid Eyrie

203 06 June 18th 2017

Murthy’s shadow loomed on the white sheet that stretched pole to pole at the little ‘hall’ with tin sheets for a roof.

A little better than an oven when the weather was pleasant and a lot worse than a sieve on rainy days, its only claim to grandeur was a statue of a rather pompous looking bird that had seen better days.

A fire caused an uneasy calm.

It was painstakingly restored when the demand for movies became greater especially when times changed from bad to worse.

The booming from the inside, invited the passers-by in once again. Anything to escape the direct scorching heat of the midday sun. Anything to escape.

It was like an oven inside, though fans whirred sleepily when the power was there. Power cuts saw the generator operate just the projector, improving the air immensely with Kerosene fumes.

Months morphed into years. Murthy’s routine never faltered.

A sloshed brother made a half-hearted attempt to follow the enigmatic Murthy one evening and passed out effortlessly.

Nobody knew what he looked like, where he came from and where he went.

Nobody cared.

Only the haughty eagle knew, but wouldn’t say a word.

Splat!

Damn! A passing crow.

[200 words]

Thank you Al, for hosting Sunday Photo Fiction

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L’amour toujours

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Madame Sophie collected the finest things in life first. Waterford crystal. Flora Danica. And then she set her sights on people, for people were attracted to things, mais oui!

She was known for her exquisite soirees. The lustrous rope of pearls felt cool against her fevered skin. She took her place by the piano, accompanied by her dear doting husband.

Alas! La Belle Madame could not sustain the high note. She would reach it but didn’t have the confidence or the passion to stay there. She would break off…Such a pity. Oh, Mon Dieu!

She never gave up though.

Madame began trilling. She scaled higher and higher.

‘Wait for it, here it comes!’

‘Now.’

As if on cue, little Gregory, Madame Sophie’s youngest, held up the bowl of Waterford crystal and put it on his head.

Madame was well into her range when she espied little Gregory and her precious bowl. The notes escaped her glorious throat, soaring higher and higher, as she let herself go completely.

Resounding applause brought her back.

A beaming Monsieur slipped an extra pastry to Gregory.

You see, Monsieur had decided that Madame had had enough disappointment.

[193 words]

Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers is a weekly challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. Thank you PJ, for the awesome opportunity! Thank you Louise with The Storyteller’s Abode for the photograph!

 

 

A Game of Hornes

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Presenting-“The Cowntess Moasty-Toasty of the House Cocoamuff, First of Her Name, the Unburnt Toast Almost, Queen of all Ambling Bovines and the First Moos, Cowleesi of the Great Grassland Stretch, Breaker of Great Wind and prospective mother of Prize Heifers…”

A secret tryst in the barn, induced by unlimited Cocoa and muffins, Pat-a-cake being the predominant theme, Moasty-Toasty was christened after her gleaming brown coat reminded the others the toast was almost burnt before her first Moo.

The First of Her Name, and probably the Last. It won’t catch on, really now, would it?

The Queen of all Ambling Bovines, for Moasty Toasty has been known to emulate her mother, the Cowager, who was known errr, for  mooching. The Cowager has long since been forgotten, the public having such short moomory.

Thus, the addition First Moos.

Cowleesi,  note the eyes, the tuft of hair, the distinct resemblance. The sun never sets on the Prairies, Pampas,  Veld,  Rangelands, Steppes, and Savannah, Great Grassland stretches all.

The ABC diet, rich in asparagus, beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage contribute to the penultimate title.

Throw in handsome Angus, and you’ll have little Bullah, and Cownnie gamboling in no time at all.

Charmed.

[200 words] Sorry, went overboard!  😀

Thank you majesticgoldenrose for the photograph. A million thanks, PJ, for hosting Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge! I had loads of fun with this!  ❤

 

Dingy Digs

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Ye olde County Hotel,

Vestigial pride of the city.

No need for reservations.

Who comes here anymore?

 

Dark corridors, damp walls and mouldy furniture.

The door creaks open. A dingy little room.

A lumpy mattress.

 

A television set in the corner blinks to life.

The sound of traffic from the street.

Persistent.

 

A mini refrigerator rattles with a couple of sodas.

A packet of crisps, a carton of cookies and salted peanuts.

The electric kettle hisses steam.

The teabag rests in the mug waiting to become an infusion, exploding into clouds of golden light.

The steady hum of the air conditioner is comforting.

 

The evening palls the horizon.

Everywhere lights are switched on.

Pockets of illumination.

 

I lie on my back, my shoes kicked off.

My head hits the pillow.

I close my eyes.

 

Like Pippa,

on her one single holiday of the year,

I make the most of my shoestring budget.

 

I’m on vacation too.

 

No cocktails, racy fiction, harmless flirtation by the beach; moonlight, starlight, sunrise or sunset; frangipani, marigold and magnolias; canapes, lobster swimming in butter, eclairs; satin sheets, fluffy towels, scented soap.

 

Hello, room service…

I’ll have a cheeseburger.

 

Who are you to judge?

Now scoot!

 

[200 words]

Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. To read more entries click here.

 

 

 

A Home Truth

​I am in my special place, the couch actually, and close my eyes. 

The lights are dimmed and I slip into a trance.

I am done for this minute, hour, day, week, month, year and even lifetime, maybe, and await further instructions from deep within to attain Samadhi state. A state of Nirvana. Having done all I can, having conquered all impulses, except maybe shopping, I am content to wait for eternal bliss to come my way. After some tea perhaps, or some mind-numbing television even.

At least silence works, for the moment.

The telephone. 

Where’s your mobile? 

I don’t know. 

Voices, trying to get into my head. Actually one voice. A voice that asks questions, answers them and makes observations and gives obvious conclusions, sounding pleased, waiting for accolades at such display of life and enthusiasm.

On steroids? 

Nope. A blithe spirit. A friend. A well-meaning, genuinely caring friend.

A devoted soul, brimming with concern enters the zone with all energy, brimming with cheerfulness that grates on my frayed nerves.

What are you doing?

What is this? Why? How? Where? 

And why are you so quiet? What did I say now? What did I do? Shouldn’t I have called? Shouldn’t you have answered first?

Hmm. Yes. No. Really. For the next ten minutes.

 I reel from the onslaught and ignore it while I can and then – Enough!

As expected, easy tears, the waterworks. The works! The efforts to pile guilt on me. 

GUILT.

I refuse to feel any, for I know I am in MY space, it’s MY time and MY life.

Don’t snap at me! How dare you treat me this way? After all  that I have invested into this relationship!

Oh Hell! That’s not how I remember it. Anyway I don’t think so.

You have not got any returns from this relationship?

 Only  incurred losses?

I’m not going down that road. I know she is itching for an argument now. I hold the receiver a little away from my ear and pace the room, now lit up in harsh lights, the blood rushing to my head.

From my window, I now look at the dog that won’t let go of a bone, worrying it till it cracks into splinters and then looks surprised as to why its mouth is bleeding. It yelps in pain. Some children playing on the street rush to call for help.

So I say- Could you please not think aloud? Resolve the way you feel. It’s not my problem.I am the problem here. So you need to let go. Deal with it. I want to be alone. I want silence. I don’t want to talk about anybody. To anybody. For anybody. Sometimes I just could go through the motions and not disturb the very air around me.

Nothing works out. The assault continues.

So I say, in all exasperation-Would it make things easy if I quit? OK. I quit. Even if it makes me more miserable than I am. Move away? Fine.  Even die? Yay! Why not! 

I will go. Why should you? Anyway, I do so much for you. I am such a good friend. You never think about me. In fact I watch out for you…

Yes, I’m so tired of all this now. Listen! You are the good one here. Miss Congenialty.You are the best. Could you now go spread some sunshine in other lives? Please? And if you have a real problem, you know where to find me. You have millions of friends, a wonderful family even. What can you want from a loser like me? Do you want to finish the job life started? Annihilate me?

Does nothing matter to you?

No.

Don’t people matter? 

No.

Who behaves like this?

I do.

Oh, the times you take ‘U Turns’ and behave so unpredictably. I never know where I am with you!

Yes. The U Turn. It’s called survival.

Don’t be sarcastic! AHHHH! Nothing matters to you!

Well, you see, so much matters. Peace, silence, and solitude matter. I feel stifled with all this attention. You’ve helped me, I am grateful to you. You are a wonderful friend. I get it. I’m eternally grateful. But I never asked you for help. Never. You did it out of the kindness of your heart. Don’t kill me with so much kindness. Find yourself another project to work on, another relationship to invest in. This here is done. You are flogging a dead horse. I have nothing to give. I am Nothing. Let me slip into Nothingness. No, I don’t need anybody to rescue me. I just want out. OUT! It cannot get more specific than that really!

But then, she chooses to think I’m in a bad mood. I know she thinks I am fraught with stress and other problems and I need tender loving care. Lol! Despite the blood pressure shooting up to alarming levels, I cannot suppress a smile. I am glad she cannot see me smile for she’d be really mad!

After what seems an eternity it comes.

I’m sorry. I know you didn’t mean anything bad. 

I know. I didn’t mean anything bad. 

Sob! Then why do you do this?

Hell, woman, haven’t you any sense of space? Any sense of self?

 I am a bad person. A horrible friend. Face it. I can’t be what you want me to be. I will be quiet more times than not. I will look into far away spaces and sit still. I will walk away inexplicably. I will be myself. I will take U turns. I refuse to pretend to be happy and jolly when I am a shattered being trying to make pieces of my self whole again.

And it is all my fault. Please accept this. And, I won’t change. I cannot. 

You don’t mean it!

But, I mean it all.

Every single word.

Specific

Silent Spaces

piic

Your narrow window to the world

tightly frames your limited thought.

Boxed in, your spirit

is beaten into submission.

Cracks, fissures and fractures

immobilize you.

Rejecting your body,

your soul floats away

seeking vast expanses.

Your breathing, shallow.

No movement,

for any imperceptible tremor

significantly magnifies the pain.

Limp, spent,

reduced to a quivering mess

of bleeding pulp.

You try to get used to it.

 

This life.

 

Try this. Get up. Walk.

Take the roads

that lead you away.

Move

till you reach the open spaces.

One step at a time.

Trek your way till you find a spot,

your private domain.

The wind now whispers in your ears

and the sun blazes on high.

The rock is warm to touch.

Steady, solid rock.

Lean back

and feel the warmth seep into you.

Breathe in.

The air so pure

it hits your lungs.

Your heart explodes.

So much beauty.

Such peace.

Walk away from those confines.

Break those shackles.

Now.

For, after this,

you can never break yourself into bits

to fit that box

again.

[175 words]

 

Thank you, Grant, for the beautiful photograph.

A million thanks to you PJ  for hosting this challenge Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Happy New Year! 😀

Archaeopteryx

This is not my life. This is not me. This is the thought that pounds at my mind, never allowing me to be content with my lot in life.
This is not my life. This is not me. This is the refrain that courses through my blood, ringing in my ears, never allowing me to rest.

This is not my life. This is not me. For I am the missing link. I never knew that at first, but destiny led me to believe that only I am the connect between all that I am and all that I can be.

This is not my life. This is not me. Slithering among my fellows, revelling in the sun, I waited, this buzz in my head preventing me from basking in peace. 

No, this was not the life for me.

I wasn’t cold blooded, you know.

I wasn’t cold at all.

In me, there beat a heart, there pulsed a thought- This is not my life. This is not me. This is not my life. This is not me. This is not my life. This is not me. This is not my life. This is not me. This is not my life. This is not me.

This is not my life. This is not me.

This is not my life. 

This is not me.

I waited. I watched. Change embraced me, slowly at first and then with indecent haste. They stared at me with distaste. How dare I?

I realized once you accept the inevitable, things fall into place.

My scales soon shed, of their own accord.

My beating heart made the connect, completing the leap it had begun a million years ago. I felt different. But it felt so right. Oh, so right!

But the others. They watched aghast as I changed from within. Soon the difference was apparent. There was a certain degree of alarm and a whole lot of conjecture.

At first I actually care to make them understand. It wasn’t their fault, you see. It was all me.

I said to anybody who would listen-

This is not my life. This is not me.

They blinked in all their incomprehension.

My beating heart sang this refrain. Over and over again. This is not my life. This is not me.
My heart changed as well. I now had four chambers. My love for life pumped through every chamber- I didn’t know when my body turned warm. So much joy! So much peace! I was doing what I wanted to do! I was being me! Oh the possibilities that awaited me!

They looked at me balefully and coldly.

How dare I even presume?

Hiding in the cracks during the day, they slithered onto the warm rocks at nightfall, cold and unfeeling except for the one common thing they had for me. Malevolent hatred.

Grouped together ominously for comfort, they twined and intertwined and it became less obvious where one ended and the other began. They looked my way a vengeful collective of dark, brooding menace.

All I knew was solitude.

Solitude was bliss. Ignorance more so.

Vital life coursed through my veins. I flexed my shoulders and hopped about in glee! A kind one shushed me and motioned at me with a blink but I paid no heed. I tested my arms, wiggled my digits and spread the membranes that defined me. I flapped. Blood surged through me.

I took flight.

A serpent reared its head and hissed- You freak! You moron! What do you think you are doing?

I looked down from my primordial perch and shrugged.

I didn’t have an answer to that. I didn’t have an answer to anything, really. You see, sometimes there are no answers. You just are. Things are. And that is all there really is.

All through my flight, my heart simply told me -This is not my life. This is not me.

I repeated these words to the now coiling serpent who slumbered on the still warm rock.

This is not my life. This is not me.

They fell on deaf ears.

I spread my wings. I left my perch behind. Far behind.

I now could view my primitive life from a different angle. Oh, the pettiness of it all. The struggle for existence. The futility of it all. I flew. Every flight I undertook changed me ever so slightly. I became this fascinating creature, at least I thought I was and began something I knew was unstoppable. I didn’t understand it myself, but all I knew I had to try. Well, you see it was my job to try. If I hadn’t tried, you wouldn’t have had these beautiful creatures who dot the skies, who wake you up with their song, need I really say more?

Who am I?

Do you need names, labels, categories?

You see I don’t really fit in.

I never belonged. I am different. And the whole world knows me. Because I dared. To be unique.

For I am Archaeopteryx.

I am the missing link.

I dared to dream. I dared to try. Alone. Never let them hold me back.

Where am I now?

Frankly, I don’t know. 

And really, I don’t care.

I lived my life. I mean, I really did. 

I was real.

Now, I am a fossil.

I am reduced to a theory.

I exist in your dust laden tomes. 

And maybe even in your vestigial imagination.

I am the bridge that forged itself between the cold and the warm

Between the unfeeling and the aspirers.

I am the pioneer of flight.

It all began when I said to myself-This is not my life. This is not me.

So much joy! So much peace! Oh the possibilities that awaited me!

Missing

Mountain Belles

Hey there Dolkar! Long time no see!

Hello Pasang! You look great! I love what you’ve done to your hair. Left it loose, hanging down your shoulders.

Yes, Dolkar, I don’t have your patience. You take such good care of your silver tresses, combing them every morning and evening and tying them back into this adorable little knot at the back of your head.

Wow Pasang, all your teeth have gone! How beautiful! I can see your gums!

Don’t worry Dolkar, you’ll lose that lone tooth soon. And then your look will be complete!

Pasang! Thank you! This tooth is rather annoying. It is a sore spot, comes in the way of my gums when I’m chewing. Carmah says I should get new teeth. How uncomfortable! You were saying something about my hair. Yes! You know how tiresome my now thinning tresses were four decades ago. I’m so glad I lost most of my hair and I can now wash my hair at will. It dries up so quickly. No sinusitis, coughs or colds.

You look fabulous. You have at least twenty more wrinkles than you sported the last time we met.

Oh, absolutely. You see, I laugh so much these days. They are crazy, these children. They are so stupid to worry so much. Yesterday, the goat went missing. You should have heard Carmah fuss. I told her the little one would return and it sure did, in the evening. Carmah lost it though! Want more wrinkles? You could do with a few, you know. Sitting out in the sun longer, helps. Next year, I aim for more lines, around the eyes.

Ha! Ha! Any more lines around the eyes and I won’t be able to recognize you, my dear.

Don’t worry. You’ll recognize me by my beautiful jewellery. I look so good, don’t I?

Yes, you do, Love! Look at my necklace. Got a new one just last week.

You were always a great one for jewellery, Pasang. Your fingers look so beautiful with these folds and lines. Do your rings still fit?

Yes, they do. I’m rather vain about my chapped hands. Every crack is testimony to the chores I still do at home.

Yes, you always do a lot. Now, how about some Butter tea at the shop up the mountain?

OK. let’s go. But first let me take a look at the mirror.

You always look good, dear, you don’t need the mirror!

I know my darling, but I do love a little primp.

You never change!

You too!

 Primp

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Image sourced from the internet.

Epiphany

Epiphany.

At dawn.

You give up. There is no struggle anymore. You are light again. You are not dead, however. You float. On the surface of all the raging waters you once thought was your life.

You give up. You offer no resistance. You are led to different shores, bits of you erode and you now perfect the art of living. You don’t seek hope because, for you, hope doesn’t exist anymore. Not from the outside world, anyway. You become Hope yourself.  Hope festers, becoming you. Because you don’t care anymore.

Care to seek hope? Not really.

Care, to seek hope. Not your deal.

You rue the day you were born. A product of indecent haste, you are everything that nothing should ever be. Their mistakes reflect on you. Your mistakes loom large, magnified a million times over.

You look around, with overwhelming shame, at the lives of people.

The images taunt you, showing you how things should be.

Sometimes it gets under your skin.

Like an abscess.

Suppurated, like a gleaming ruby edged with pearls.  And then thoughts fester in your mind. Thoughts find release in words, words that are twisted out of context, startling you with meanings you never thought possible. You now choose to mute yourself. Your silence says more than all the slander the world ever spewed.

You feel the dull throb of the sore you left unattended.

It bursts.

You are amazed at the oozing drama. The jewels of suppression, harvested.

Oppressed, your shame renders you numb.

Your thoughts, now, gather to fester, seeking blessed release.

A ruby and lots of pearls.

Pearls mean tears, don’t they?

You have tears you say. You prepare to shed them.

Your eye tears up. Mind you. Only one eye. They say the eyes never behave differently. Two eyes, one vision. But nothing is really normal, right? This eye of yours sheds a tear that you aren’t even aware of. You sit sipping your morning coffee and it trickles down your cheek. A surprised onlooker bothers to query and you attribute it to an unheard of allergy. Only you know, the secret revealed to you, it’s your life.

The epic tale of Murphy’s Woe.

You realize soon enough that there are people who have heard of legendary lives such as yours.

The great Murphy dreamed of a perfect subject like you.

You prove him right.

Every single time.

How?

Let’s see.

You are born into this family, you had no choice, really.

He didn’t know how to be a father. He couldn’t really.

She turned cold, even before you screamed angrily as you fought your way out, shrieking your fury at the unfortunate accident of your birth.

Accident?

Right!

You should have been crushed under the wheels of their drama.

But, no. Instead, you were beaten to pulp, every single time, but you were persistent, learning a lot from the Roadrunner Show. Flattened, you waited, popped your limbs out, cackled in glee and continued your mutilated survival.

You wanted to live, right?

You wanted to breathe, right?

You filled your lungs with painful gasps in the sewer of your existence.

Your deformed spirit is still an embarrassment to the wholesome lives around you.

Trees twist around their trunks, seeking elusive sunlight.

Roots claw into the earth, finding traces of moisture that doesn’t even begin to quench your thirst.

Everything snaps or wriggles away into the mud while you lie, on your side, head burrowed in the muck, willing yourself to find air.

You grow up too. Somehow. You make it so far. However, you don’t learn from the mistakes of the ones who begot you. You decide to play with fate. You go down the same road. But fate, she has other plans for you. Your choice after all. So endure it. Remember, she always has the last laugh.

Ha!

You look away. Out into the world. You try to make a difference and think, now it is all going to work out.

It’s your choice after all.

You add to your collection of rubble, crumbling bits of your mistakes as well.

After a while you are blessed. You turn blind. You stop looking anymore. You are now completely visionless.

Congratulations!

For now, you realize you’ve let yourself down.

You allowed one chink in your armor, one ray of light in your chasm to be the real deal and the walls close in.

You are trapped.

You are now in an incinerator of your own making.

You know there is no hope.

Not anymore.

Not for the likes of you.

How do you expect to hold on to strings believing them to be hope?

There are no more strings for you to hold on to.

Want to survive?

Stop looking for hope. On the outside at least.

It’s a battle alright.

Learn to fight. Or face it. Or give up.

Either way, it doesn’t matter.

Ever.

On second thoughts, why do I even bother telling you all this?

That is Epiphany.

My Epiphany.

At dusk.

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Second Thoughts