"The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude." -Nikola Tesla-
August 18, 2017
The heat came back on. I couldn’t stay away for too long. I’m going to be posting some short stories soon. The heart wants what the mind does not. My lack of creativity did not last long. I guess I have to stay true to myself and continue along my path.
July 30, 2017
I decided due to the many personal projects I have currently going on that my short stories are going to take a back burner. They actually won’t be getting any heat. Therefore, the rest of the year (Gregorian calendar) I’m not going to dabble in forcing these stories that I’m having trouble concentrating on even during my creative periods. I hope to resume these fun short stories, but not until these remaining five months are done. I need to hunker down and focus on my rewrite, which I have not been doing. I feel like George R.R. Martin except it’s only one book. I have a feeling I will really feel like him when I start my trilogy, but will be keeping it to only three books, or at least, I hope and pray this is the case.
July 21, 2017
I’m having trouble writing a short story. Not going to lie because it’s proving to be a little more difficult. Actually, a lot more difficult. I’m not sure why, but hoping to get over this hump soon.
Reflection/July 3, 2017
I didn’t write any short story in June!!! I’m going to try writing, at least, one short story each month until the end of this year!!! I’m hoping to write a short story soon!!!
A Nightly Encounter/May 27, 2017
As the sun began its vanishing act, the moon became a sliver with its true radiance obscured behind a cloud. It was on this night I managed to catch a glimpse of his being before he retreated into the darkness. His posture was menacing as the black opal dangling from a chain around his neck.
I waited patiently for him to speak. There was no choice. My life depended on it.
“Not everyone flies, and not everyone floats. I do not know what will happen until the very end. You might do neither or you might do both. That will ultimately be up to you.”
I felt a shock in my head when he said this. It started at my left temple and zigzagged its way to the right. I had heard he could be persuasive in a way that left you wanting more. I wondered how long I could resist his temptations.
I could hardly see anything in front of me, and when my ears registered the ambient noises, I wasn’t certain what was making the sound. He had put me in a dizzy haze. I was sure of it, but my ears perked up when he finally spoke.
“Do not take my silence as a form of approval.” He uttered from deep within, like a dog giving a warning growl. “Despite what you believe to know about me, there is nothing accurate about any of it.”
I constructed an image of his likeness as he became quiet again. He was an equal opportunist with his weight distribution. He did not favor the left over the right leg. His elongated fingers, manicured and durable, were often covered by stylish black leather gloves. There were a few times he allowed nature to touch them, but this was only when he was alone. He was born into an aristocratic family, and given a fitting name of Arthur, Theodore, or Samuel, or maybe he had parents a little more daring and bestowed the name of Magnus to him. He did not like people referring to him by his name. I was in process of determining his facial features when he spoke, his voice echoing.
“I could be by your side before you know I’m even there. Would you be fine begging for your life if it came to it? I imagine you want the night to unfold differently. Where you don’t have to crawl on your hands and knees to freedom. Where the little decency stored in your bones is not used against you.”
His words rattled me, sending a chill from the base of my neck to the place where my trousers sat on my waist. His authority loomed over me like an invisible shadow. He had cast his net, and caught his prize. I felt helpless much like the first time I had misjudged.
“Why should I give you any courtesy when you don’t play by the rules with the life you currently have?”
A twig broke in the distance.
“It is time for something a little more playful, do you not agree?”
I remained silent.
“Do you not agree, Nicholas?”
It was my turn to speak, but nothing came out of my mouth.
“You give me an answer as if you never matriculated from a respectable university.”
“My, my apologies.”
“It makes me wonder if the only course of action is to extinguish you now. It appears destroying the misery you feel inside would be a blessing for you.”
“I feel no misery.”
“Be that as it may, I don’t see any reason to allow you to live.” He seemed closer now. “Unless, of course, you want to try your hand at persuasion.”
“Then, by all means, proceed, Mr. Nicholas Hatcher. But, time is wasting, and patience may very well be a thing of the past.”
“Should I face a certain way?”
“Tick tock, Nicholas. Tick tock.”
“Yes, sorry. I’ll begin again.” I swallowed, but the large cotton ball in my throat remained. “I… I… might not have the same riches as some of my friends, but I have never harbored ill will toward any of them. Sure, there were times I might’ve wished to have what they had, but everybody does this. My children are fed a good breakfast in the morning, and they don’t go to bed hungry at night. My wife is most pleased. I would do anything for them.”
“Including sacrificing yourself for their well-being?”
“There are always dangers in this.”
“If I protect them, nothing else matters.”
“But you served your interests first not too long ago.”
“That’s not true.”
“I saw you lying with unkempt girls when you should have been home.”
“That was before the children were born.”
“But you were still committed.”
“I was younger then.”
“What would you do if I told you little Nicholas Jr. and his dear sister do not have much longer to live? That the plague will bring them pain they wished never came knocking? Would you believe me? Or, would you carry on with your life, not heeding my warning?”
“I would need proof.”
“The stamp of authenticity.”
“It’s only fair.”
“But life is not fair. You know this. And, I would not give you the benefit of seeing it on a declaration because I know things.”
His fingers wrapped around my neck in a fierce grip, pushing me against a tree effortlessly, and yet he allowed me to breathe. I’m certain he knew the correct amount of pressure to use on my chest in order not to kill me. I felt the bark digging into my back at all the right places. His face was mostly obscured by his hat and how he positioned his head. I saw his mouth and nothing more. His lips seemed to be the color of maroon.
“You cannot bring back the dead.” He methodically brought his other hand to my face, and covered my eyes. “Horribly, you sent an innocent man to his death. He will breathe no more like I have decided you will breathe no more.” I remained in his grasp, for what seemed forever, when he released me.
My body crumpled to the ground. I had no feeling in my legs. It was as if he drained all my energy. My arms were useless. I couldn’t lift them into the air. I could only muster a shallow inhale and then exhale.
“If you let me explain,” barely whispering, “you will know I tell the truth.”
“A liar in front of me.”
“I saw what you did to him.” His voice became guttural to the point I thought a part of his physiology might have changed. “You are not the one dictating the rules. You are not the one who gives orders. And your insignificant brain seems not to understand that soon you will find yourself in a grand finale.
“Just tell me what you want.”
He flung me against the same tree, pine needles stabbing my flesh when I landed face first. I scrambled onto my knees, and removed the needles sticking out of my palms. “If I’ve lost all chances of living, just kill me already!” My anger increased substantially. “Don’t think I don’t know you’ve been following me since that night. I know you have weaknesses too even though you claim to have none.” I had clearly misspoken. It was one thing to accept your impending death. It is something completely different to invite death, knowing there was the chance of further brutality.
I waited for him to extinguish my life. I waited and waited. He never showed himself to me again that night. I am not certain why. Hundreds of reasons entered my mind of why he departed, but not one correlated to the actual truth.
I needed to get home to my family, but my body was so weak from my ordeal. I was certain my arm was broken. My eyes closed, and I fell asleep, my hand intercepting the pine needles from touching my face. I dreamed of him watching me from far away.
The next morning I was greeted by insistent chirping of birds. The sunlight filtered through the tree tops. It warmed my face as I looked upward. I felt for my glasses. They weren’t there. I could hardly see as I stumbled away. I hadn’t comprehended my predicament until I returned to civilization. There it was in my grasp. I locked my eyes on the blurry black opal with the chain limply hanging from it.
“Curses. Revenge would be coming another day.”
He would return for this. It was only a matter of time.
When he would make his grand appearance, I would be ready.
Dear Diary/May 14, 2017
The screams coming from our house were heard by the next door neighbors on both sides of my parents’ house that day. Mrs. Lambert lived to the right of us. She pushed on her screen door, loosening the hinges even more, with her bony hand to investigate. She was married twice. I don’t know what happened to her first husband, but she looked like a skeleton.
Whenever my mom invited her over for dinner, she always declined with a shake of her head. It isn’t polite to stare, but I couldn’t turn away from her beady eyes in the middle of her shrunken head. It was like she was scared of being in a normal house with normal people. I was glad she had never set foot inside my parents’ house, but I kept this to myself.
Our windows were open all the time except during the rainy days. I hoped my mom didn’t tell Mrs. Lambert about my birthday party. I doubted she would come, but this was the last person I wanted to see because she would ruin it. I didn’t like how she talked either. Her voice was high-pitched and nasally. Her conversations usually went the same way with my mom.
“You know how Jonathan doesn’t like me eating past six o’clock.”
“I’m well aware.” My mom gave her a short eye roll and prolonged her exhalation, all the signals of annoyance.
“Oh, stop it! Jonny means nothing by it.” This sounded convincing enough to me, but not my mom.
“Your flimsy justification doesn’t erase the sting behind his words, and the last time I saw Jonny, it seemed he had put on weight himself.
Mrs. Lambert stammered out her words. “Well, I didn’t come over here to argue. I just wanted to wish you a good day.” And with that, she left without another word. My mom later confessed she probably shouldn’t have made those comments about our neighbors. She didn’t exactly feel bad enough to apologize to either one of them, but expressed her regret. She had been friends with her since grade school. I’m not sure about her husband.
Our neighbors to the right were more personable. I didn’t mind calling them by their first names. Pamela and Marcus were the only adults invited to my birthday party. I made sure of it.
The day prior to my birthday I arranged the top of my desk with an assortment of balloons, paper streamers of my favorite colors, birthday paper plates and napkins, and random noise makers. I wanted everything related to my birthday as close to me as possible minus my presents. My parents had hidden them in their bedroom. It was off-limits to my sisters, and I didn’t feel like getting into trouble even though I was dying to know if anything on my wish list was in their bedroom.
My dad had already eaten breakfast by the time I came into the kitchen. He was sipping his coffee as I waited patiently for my eggs and pancakes. They smelled good and tasted better. His glances at me became longer and longer. I could tell he had some fatherly advice to give.
“Jackie, don’t let anyone say you can’t do something. If you want to do it, then do it. Once you have it in your head you can’t, you might as well give up the ghost.”
“Thanks, dad.” “I’m not kidding around.” “I know.”
“Things like that don’t leave, and set you up for failure again and again.” His advice would be over when he would knock his knuckles on the table. He hadn’t done that yet. I hoped it would be soon. “I want you to see things the way you see them. I want you to see things with your own eyes. I want you to be your own person, Jackie, but carefully.”
“That’s what I want to hear.”
I wondered how many times my sisters had heard this. They had no problem tuning him out during dinner time even when he pointed his index finger at them. That finger always lingered when he came to me. It made me feel important and anxious at the same time. He would end his speech with our responsibilities to one another.
He continued, “I’ve been around here longer than you and your sisters put together.”
I knew this wasn’t true. I was almost eleven. My sister Margery was seventeen and Alice was fifteen. I knew how to count. My dad wasn’t forty-seven. He nodded a few times at his own words, and finally knocked on the table with his knuckles. This was my cue to put my plate in the sink and grab a plastic bag from the cabinet.
My plan was to help my parents after breakfast, but now I wanted to be by myself. My excitement of turning a year older bubbled inside me as it did earlier. After I closed my bedroom door, I removed my diary under my mattress, and scribbled the date with my special pen. It had my name on the side of it, and was a gift from my best friend, Sherry, from last year’s birthday.
July 2, 1981
Tomorrow is my birthday. I can hardly wait. turn eleven. I can’t believe this. I’m four years away from being a woman. My mom says you become a woman when you’re able to have children. I think you become a woman when you can wear a bra. I’m still flat chested unlike my sisters. I wish I could be like them. Don’t tell anyone. They would rub it in my face. I try not to show my disappointment in being treated as a girl by my parents because I don’t feel like a girl anymore. I’m no longer in the single digits. At least my mom doesn’t tell the story of how I was a blessing even though I know I was an accident. My sisters will always be better than me. It isn’t fair. I wish I had been born first. Then they could be jealous of me. My parents probably got me stupid gifts. If my mom actually knew me, she’d know I really wanted a white bra with lace around the edges. I wish I could wear a dress like Margery. And why don’t boys call me? Other girls in my grade have boyfriends already. It isn’t fair. Sherry told me she’s a woman now. Her mom let’s her wear a bra. You want to know what my mom did when I asked her to buy me a bra? She touched my chest. How embarrassing! IT’S SO NOT FAIR!!! I stormed out of the room. We haven’t talked about it since. This was two weeks ago. I’m going to be the only one not wearing a bra to my party. How lame! I just want everything to go perfect tomorrow. I haven’t felt this nervous since I don’t know when. I almost feel like vomiting. I better go downstairs before my parents look for me. They have no idea I have this. I promise to write soon.
P.S: I think I love Danny.
P.S.S: I think Sherry does too.
I thought I had brought the birthday decorations back to my room. I guess I hadn’t because when I went to the living room my dad had already ripped open the red balloons. His cheeks were getting their workout. I counted his progress. There were fifteen. I tore into the blue ones, and handed him one. I watched him take a deep breath, then blow. His process was a sight to see.
My mom was in the kitchen making my vanilla cake. I requested a lemon filling and frosting. It smelled so good. I knew she would let me have a taste of the frosting if I went in there, but I wanted to help my dad instead. She usually saved some for me anyway.
My dad and I were making good time when one of the balloons broke in his grip, making a loud pop. We both jumped a little bit. He then exaggerated his movements, and it sent us into a fit of giggles. After all the balloons were gone, and our cheeks couldn’t take anymore, they were ready to be hung. I handed them one by one to him in the archway. We next coiled streamers to be hung in the archway and outside the front door. The house was looking more and more like a party celebration.
I was thinking how I would remember this day for the rest of my life when someone knocked on our door. My parents didn’t hear it the first time, but I sure did. I guess girls have better hearing than their parents.
“Someone’s at the door, dad.”
“Are you sure?”
Before I could answer, the knock became more insistent. This time because he put down the streamers on the floor.
“I can get the door, dad.”
“Let me see who it is first.”
My dad could be overly protective. He turned halfway to me. “This better not be one of your sisters.” I smiled. I wished it was. She would be in so much trouble. There was a time for pranks. This wasn’t one of them.
I followed slowly behind him to see who was at the door. The third loud knock brought my mom out of the kitchen. She nudged me aside and went to my dad. He opened the door enough for me to see a police man.
He said politely, “Mr. and Mrs. Simms.”
“Yes.” They said in unison.
“May I speak with you in private?”
The police man must’ve seen me because he pointed in my direction. My dad ushered my mom outside and closed the door behind them. I wondered what they were talking about, and it didn’t take long to hear my mom’s voice.
“Oh, God! Not Margery!” I scrambled to the door and pressed my ear to it.
“I think you should sit down with your husband, ma’am.”
“I want to see her.”
“Let’s give it some time, ma’am.”
“Where is she?”
“The scene is still being processed.”
“My poor baby. Was she decent?”
“Yes, she was found clothed.”
There was silence, and I moved just in time when the door swung open. It hit the wall with a thud. I stood there, unable to move, inches from my parents and the policeman. I had not obeyed my dad. He didn’t say anything. I watched him help my mom inside. She looked out of it, not sure of where she was.
“Mom? Are you okay?”
“Not now, Jackie. Go to your room.” When I didn’t move, he raised his voice. “Right now, Jackie!”
I stood my ground, but it was no use. The police man knew what to do in these situations. He took my hand and led me away from my parents. I asked questions along the way, but he gave no answers I wanted to hear. We entered the kitchen instead, and around the same time my mom let out her first scream.
I had known friendly policemen, but he was not so friendly. The way he looked at me scared me too. I didn’t want to see him anymore, and turned my back to him. This is when I noticed my mom had taken my birthday cake out of the oven. It rested on the stove burner. I wanted a bite, but I didn’t have any for fear he might tell my parents what I had done. He finally left the kitchen when he heard commotion, but not before ordering me to stay in the kitchen.
I finally learned what happened in between all the sobbing and talking of Mrs. Lambert with my parents. I was for once happy she had come into our house. My sister liked to take long walks. My parents saw our town as home sweet home. Young children played outside without any danger. Boys rode their bikes up and down the roads all hours of the day without fear. Girls ran back and forth among their houses without a care in the world.
This changed when Margery was discovered by an elderly man walking his dog. He had noticed her legs sticking out of the bushes. I couldn’t believe someone would be so cruel to my sister. She was annoying at times, but she didn’t deserve to be beaten. She had been the first murder in over five decades.
It became almost unbearable for my sister Alice after her death. My parents never let her out of their sight, and dad insisted on having a strong teenage boy with her every time she left the house. I wish he had said that to me. If I wanted to go anywhere, it would be him with me. He didn’t think the boys in my grade could protect me. He didn’t know the strength of Danny.
I cursed at Margery for ruining my birthday as I laid in bed that night. It wasn’t right of me to feel this way, but I did because mom never frosted my cake, and dad blew up the balloons for nothing. The streamers were useless. The plates and napkins wouldn’t be unwrapped. My friends would never see me blow out eleven candles. I never would eat any of the food I requested.
As my eyes finally closed, I stayed sleeping until late into the next morning. I spotted them before I sat up. My parents had not forgotten. There were more presents than I imagined. The biggest one was wrapped in shiny red paper. I hopped off the bed and went to my knees. I tore off the wrapping paper. This present was on my list. I had finally gotten a boom box. I was so happy. I wanted this feeling to last.
I grabbed another one. It was from Margery. She must’ve given it to my parents before she went for her walk. She liked to leave things until the very end. Tears fell down my face as I tore off the wrapping. I opened the box. It was a necklace with my initials on it. It was the similar to the one she wore. She had never taken it off. She wore it everywhere. I closed my eyes and promised to Margery I would do the same.
Wild Sea/March 25, 2017
In the sea of infinite waves, I found myself with one oar that day. The wind had picked up, and my hand clumsily hit the side of the boat. I will add it was built by my dear friend. He has since passed away, body mixed in with the dirt by now, and creepy crawly insects having a corpse to explore. I shouldn’t view Tobias as a corpse, but I’m not one to exchange that word for another. He became a corpse when his soul left him, and just because you might find that word repulsive is not a problem I want to inherit. People tend to have little pity for the situations I placed myself in, and maybe I deserve some of it, but it doesn’t reverse my desire to exist. My true love was the only one to understand me. She had a radiance I’ve never seen in a woman before or since our time. I miss her more days than not, but let’s get back to my dilemma.
It floated past my boat with great speed into the wild waves. I almost jumped to retrieve it, but then I’d be dealing with another issue, and that was hypothermia. My children would never forgive me either if I died this way. They never feared me getting lost when they were children, but we are thirty years older now. If I arrive one minute past my projected time, my son and daughter panic. My desire of living out my days in peaceful self-reflection never really came to fruition as I expected, but on this day they gave it to me wholeheartedly. It had to do with my birthday and the fact I was well past my drinking days.
What was tantamount to suicide, I was distraught over losing the oar. My grandfather had never used them as they rested on pegs above his fireplace. I understood the importance of keeping treasured objects within the family tree, and now it was forever gone. I sat down on the hardened seat when my eye caught sight of the oar. I leapt up and burned the location into my mind. I grabbed the remaining oar and shoved it into the water. I paddled with long strokes, switching sides, until I was close enough to grab its nearly identical twin still in my grasp.
The anticipation of holding both my oars unsteadied my balance. My remaining oar flung into the sea. This is the way I’d like to remember it, but in actuality, I lost my balance for no other reason of being old. No one was around to hear my cursing at God, the sea, the boat, Tobias who had died, my wife who had died unexpectedly, and the oars themselves. I scrambled to the boat edge and searched for the oar. It was about ten feet away, bobbing with the waves, and teasing me every time it moved a little closer. My hope was it would float its way back to me as if it was scared of being away for so long. I imagined the water droplets hiding in the tiny cracks of both oars when I lifted them to safety. It would be good to have them back in my possession. When the oars didn’t come back on their own, I recognized my situation with more urgency.
My flesh tried to resist the effects of the icy water when I jumped feet first. I had managed to remember to take off my shoes, socks, and jacket as all three would keep me warm once I got out of the water. The pesky oars that never should’ve left my grip were not visible. I screamed loudly, making the nearby birds take flight. My attention went back to the sea and swam in the general direction of where I had last seen the oars. They were on the same side of the boat when I lost them. I scanned the surface for any hint of my oars, and unfortunately my fingers turned a lovely purple before I found one of them. I reached it in record time for a man in his late sixties. After craning my neck in all directions, I located the other one. I swam to it just as fast in hopes it would warm my body. Hypothermia had claimed most of it, and I was forced to embrace it with open arms.
I focused my grip around the oars not to lose them on my swim back. It took every determination to not close my eyes and sink into the sea in a death spiral. One thing kept me going and that was the warmth of my socks and jacket waiting for me on the boat. It could not have drifted far away, but when I looked up it appeared much farther even though it wasn’t the case. I thought about all the things I hated doing, but now I would take that over my current predicament. I kicked my feet as hard as possible, hunger clawing at my stomach.
The nature of my situation had turned to critical when I arrived at my boat. I imagined the warmth my socks and jacket would provide as I picked them up. If only a towel would drop from the sky so I could dry myself, but my weary body soon didn’t care about that. I fell into a heap and sat there, breathing in and out heavily before starting the task of jamming my feet into the socks. My unfocused eyes remained that way while I tore off my water-soaked clothes. They had the scent of seaweed and dead fish. What an exquisite combination was the last thing I remembered as I slipped into unconsciousness. When I came back to reality, I didn’t notice the goose egg on my head.
The sea went from puzzled to indignant, back to puzzled, and remained at a rumble. I was caught during the roar, but now it was my turn to be angry. I kicked at my heavy soaked pants and threw my shirt into the water. It would have been a sight to witness a sixty-seven year old in his underwear flailing about, but good riddance to it all. I wore my half dry socks with pride and my jacket didn’t fully hide my behind. I’ve since bought a longer jacket to wear in case this happens again although it hasn’t. My shoes were the last to go on and once I picked up my oars, I made sure to smack the water with them a few times before rowing back home. Similar to the sea, I went from frustration to rage. It was going to take a while to get home, and I used this time to release this steam with each stroke. The situation had spun out of control quickly, but now it was calmer. The thing chasing me this morning was no longer with me. The grief of what had happened could fit onto the diameter of a penny.
While I did not know it at the time, losing my oars was a blessing in disguise. Some say God works in mysterious ways, and but I haven’t met any of them. I suppose there are shards of truth to everything. My daughter believes I’m trying to feel better about myself when I go out on my boat. She thinks I’m instinctively sailing toward something better, but it’s all in my head. I’m not sure about this. My son thinks I’m trying to recapture my youth. I’m not sure about this either, but when I arrived back home and soaked in hot water up to my chin, I had time to think about how lucky I was to be breathing oxygen.
The sea can be a small place when there are people fluttering around you, trying to stay afloat such as in a shipwreck; but when you are alone, no one sees you struggling. The day the sea challenged my longing for it, my body was not in the best of shape. I had wanted to give up, but I prevailed to feel stability under my feet again. When my feet touched dry land, I bent down and grabbed a handful of sand. Damn the sea who tried to take me and damn the God who put me on this wobbly ride in the first place, but shortly after saying this I also thanked both for returning my oars to me when they could have been swallowed for dinner by the ever moody sea.
Turnaround Farm/March 1, 2017
We had spent many good years on this farm. The animals were taken care of, by far the best, compared to what it could have been. There was enough food for all of my family and abundance was enjoyed by every relative whether cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and step children. Even the piglets were happy at that time as they were regarded as family. They sat with us at the kid’s table for holidays, but as we grew older and they grew larger, we realized one of them became our family dinner for Christmas. That was the only year my younger sister cried during this holiday.
We would watch my father grab a pig by its legs, wrap the rope around its ankles, and string it up in the air by both feet. He would produce his sharp knife at the last second from behind his apron and slit the pig’s throat with such precision and depth. We were in awe of his ability to kill pigs at such a quick rate. He could corral any medium-sized animal, string it up, and cut its throat. The animal would bleed out, which we would collect for my mother. She loved making those sausages during the summer time. They were so tasty and every time I eat one now, it reminds me how special my mother was in the kitchen. I have never tasted better sausage since her passing.
My brothers were involved in the skinning and butchering process. They were happiest when my father was showing them how to butcher the pig where the least amount of meat was wasted. Nothing was ever wasted in practice, thanks to my parents, as they used everything from all animals. The bones left over were boiled down for various soups or given to our wild, crazy dogs. Some of them scared us, but they protected the livestock when it counted the most, against the coyotes and wolves.
My oldest brother shot a wolf in the head when it came too close to the livestock, but regretted it soon after. The mother wolf was only trying to get food for her pups. He heard them crying for their mother on a walk the next day to clear his head. They all survived thanks to him. He became their provider by throwing them raw beef after he ate supper and did his chores. My father found out and wasn’t too happy about it, but there was nothing he could do about it. My brother was as stubborn as my father was, and this included his decision to leave the family business, and apply to college. His interest was in European history, given he was European himself, and became a well-respected professor among his colleagues and students.
The year we lost much of our fields to a fire, spreading quickly during the summer I was fifteen, was the worst for us. Some of our beloved livestock was killed. It sent my parents into a survival mode, and had a hard time recovering from this disaster. My father never walked the same way, he never whistled anymore, and in his free time all he did was stare into empty space. He did not view life as something to be enjoyed as he once had. He went through the motions for a few years and doubt he realized that he killed more animals in those two years than he had in the previous five years before that. The shack behind our house was filled with more bones than any of us knew what to do with, but we dared not throw any of them away. My father had a knack for knowing when something was missing.
Those two long, hard years was when we changed the name of our farm from Pritchard Farm to Turnaround Farm. We all survived because we asked our extended family to help us during the early morning hours and when they had to leave to tend to their own families and jobs midday, we asked for other members to carry our progress into the night. We all worked hard hour after hour, day after day, month after month, and when one year became the end of two years, we had made our money back. We were in a better position than when we started in some respects. My parents had more dollar bills in their pockets, and our family members wanted nothing in return when offered; but our bodies suffered in the process. Everyone hunched over a little more including myself.
It was many years later when I voiced to my father to sell his farm. I was the closest living kid to my parents along with my younger brother who was about an hour away. He was proud of his green pick-up truck. The rest of my siblings were much more adventurous and moved to other parts I won’t visit. He didn’t listen to me and said I was being a knot headed pig, which is what he said when any of his friends or family said something he disagreed with. It was after his stroke that he stopped being rational. When he could not talk, those were some of the most relaxing times for me as an adult. I had a hard time understanding him, and this frustrated both of us. He kicked me than once because of his inability to speak well. When he had his second stroke and could not talk at all, the frustration between us evaporated.
My father liked to compare us kids. My older brother was book smart. I was not. My older sister had the looks. I did not. My younger brother had both smarts and looks. I did not. My younger sister had the face of Shirley Temple and was bound to be a child star. She never became a child star, but she was in a many films as an extra with speaking parts and then made a name for herself in theater and independent films. They had things I would never possess. I never wanted to be in front of a camera or prance around on stage, which is what I imagined my little sister doing when she rehearsed.
My father told me I had things none of my other siblings possessed. He said I was the closest to him, but just happened to be female. He said it was neither here nor there. He didn’t blame me for my inability to be as tough as my brothers. He said I could do anything I wanted in life, and said he was the most proud of me because out all his kids, I was the one who never left his side. This was where the fork in the road between him and my siblings became wider. I took the left and all my other siblings went right. I felt a duty to stay by his side until the end.
My father told me on his deathbed a story when I was five. My mother had planted flowers with yellow petals and a black center. I took one look at them and hated the color. I wanted them to be purple. I made a sign that read, Purple Flowers, but they weren’t exactly purple after I was done. My collection of magic markers went from ten to nine. It didn’t take long to notice this was going to take forever. I replaced my original idea with a new one. I hid this puke yellow color as best I could on the petals with purple polka dots. He said I had imagination that was hard to harness.
When my mother came home, she was horrified. She took out the paddle my father only used on rare occasions and more so on the boys than the girls. She hit my behind several times, and each time I heard the whack, I gritted my teeth as my mother cursed at me. My father told me to apologize to her for what I did. I readily said, “I’m sorry” over and over, but deep down I hadn’t wanted to apologize. I felt she was mean to me, and I don’t remember crying although my father said I did. He stated it took quite some time for me to calm down. What I do remember was him picking me up and holding me as he walked among the cornstalks. He pointed toward the direction of his recently acquired land and spoke about his vision for his family’s future. Even though I was born right in the middle of it all in so many ways, he made me feel as if I was an only child.
This was what I wrapped my beating heart around as my father grabbed my hand and squeezed. He told me everything was okay back then and everything would be okay now. I told him how much his recognition of me carried me throughout the years. He never let my hand go until he died later that night. I had wanted other family with us, but he said I was the only one good enough to be with him during this time. The actual reason was he did not want others to see him as frail. He told me I could handle it. After placing his bony arm beside him, I left his bedroom where he had slept over fifty years.
I sat down at the table where all us kids sat and thought about the memories of this farm. We lived here, through the good and bad, and best of all we continued in our own ways. We did not agree upon many things as we grew older, but my siblings would eventually meet with me to discuss the best way to divvy up our parents’ land and house.
I took this time and sat alone collecting my thoughts before calling my younger brother first. I intended to honor my father’s wish and did. I buried his secured box in a thick plastic bag where no one would find it except me. We could see what was inside, but not a day sooner, and could not tell my siblings about it until five years had passed.
It was in short time I heard my younger brother’s truck barrel down the gravel driveway and come to a halt much too close to the house. This always bothered our father in his later years. Even though Conrad had lived close to us, I hadn’t seen him in a few years. He looked the same, but wore a different cowboy hat. Being the bigger sister, I held the door open for him and gave him a big hug. He picked me up much like my father did when he was still able to lift me up. It was so good to see him.
I took his hand and walked toward our father’s bedroom. He knew what had happened and stood taller. My chest tightened and wondered was I doing our father justice by keeping his box a secret. I stopped at the door and waited for Conrad to enter. I waited until he had said his goodbye, much like I would do with my other siblings when they arrived. I never told any of my siblings about the box and never thought otherwise when we buried our father. When the five-year mark had passed by, it was apparent to me the box should stay hidden. We had spent many good years on this farm and wanted to keep it this way until our end.
The Killer in Delilah’s Dream/March 1, 2017
Image by Getbetterhq
This was not one of those dreams where the person wakes up in the middle of the night wiping the sweat from one’s forehead. This was not one of those dreams where the person wakes up just in time before the knife plunges into one’s chest. This was not one of those dreams where the car moves just in time before a train smashes into it, or the wife senses something wrong and dodges her husband’s attempt to shove her from the cliff. This was one of those dreams where it matters more on what day it is and how the events of the day factored into the sleep patterns of the person.
A woman named Delilah had been waking up every hour on the hour for a few minutes at a time the past few weeks. She was not certain what had triggered her eyes to flutter and stay open. She only heard the normal ambient noise one hears at night once fully awake. She managed to close her eyes before the thoughts of days past flooded her conscience, and before long she was asleep and moving back into her dream.
Her dreams, this week, allowed her a bit of solace throughout the night. She was able to rest without her sleep being disrupted for a few days. It came to a halt on a Wednesday. The dream was nothing out of the ordinary. There was no reason to have alarm, but some women fear the cliché. A man in a black trench coat, sporting a felt hat with a tan ribbon wrapped around it, and wearing sunglasses even during nightfall may look threatening at first glance, but that stranger often becomes a friend after the initial greeting and introductory handshake. Different styled men go about their lives without wanting to harm women, and nothing evil is in their facial expressions. There was nothing to be feared among these men in Delilah’s mindset. Many men had followed her in the past, in her days as a prostitute. It seems most men wanted a free handout if they could get it.
On the other hand, the man who averted his eyes when Delilah spotted him across the street sent tingles to the base of her neck, down her arms, where it entered into each finger and expelled at the tips. He held one commonality with other dangerous men of her past, and that was the urge to fulfill his desire. The butterfly excitement they felt did not differ from this man. His taut belly had the capacity to hold as many fluttering wings as possible. She maneuvered through the crowd, and at certain points she had no choice but to elbow those that did not move after her initial insistence. She feared she knew this man, and soon felt his presence close by.
A second of time turned into two seconds and two more turned into four as the crowd seemed to hold her back. It took him a short span to be in arm’s length away from her long ponytail. His hand moved effortlessly and grabbed her wrist, instead. He forced her body close to his. She tried, unsuccessfully, to dig her fingernails deep into his flesh. She thought. He must’ve done this before. He’s quick about what he’s doing. She looked down and glimpsed the long scars on his hands. He used her arm for leverage and forced her through the crowd. His other hand pressed menacingly against her back.
When she opened her mouth, her sound drowned in the laughter and screams of nearby children. Each passing moment her opportunities to escape dwindled. Before the throng of people seemed to hold her back, but now they moved out of the way for him. Crisscrossed arms spread apart to let him pass. Life hardly ever worked in her favor, much as it had been as a little girl, when she was told her body was for sacrifice. Her mother neglected this truth to her, and had to learn about it firsthand. When she was thrown her on top of the small table, her father imparted the answer with condescension each time. This duty was expected of her more frequent as years passed.
The point when her dream twisted into a nightmare was when the man shoved her into his apartment. Her knees landed on the chill of the linoleum floor with a thud, the cold seeping through her thin cotton pants. He decided this was not suitable anymore and yanked her by the ponytail. She had no choice, but to follow him into his bedroom where he threw her into his closet, as it brought him the added layer of security. He wrapped his hands around her neck and squeezed. His murderous grip held tight as she lost sense of the surroundings. The lamp bulb hanging from the ceiling was what kept her from losing complete consciousness.
He gave her some reprieve when he loosened his grip. She had the opportunity to damage him with her nails, but it proved fruitless. They struggled against each other, but soon he overwhelmed her. The best alternative was hoping she would be able to rip into his flesh at a later time, and then have another day to live. Her predicament reminded her of the nights she had to defend herself from johns with a viciousness only reserved for those special people.
She lay in the closet, trying to suck in as much oxygen in her tightened windpipe. She wondered when her body morph into a skeleton. How long would it take for a person or people to find her body? What level of decomposition stage would it be? Would they kick dirt over her bones because they viewed me as less than? Would they volunteer to cremate or bury her after the autopsy? Or would they just leave her for the animals to destroy further and not report it? Would she end up in the morgue for a long time because the detectives had given up finding her killer? She condemned herself for thinking about her body’s disposal right now instead of fighting for her life. She should have figured these details before finding herself under the foot of this man, but one rarely cares about death when she has such a hard time carrying out the process of living. Would it be wrong for her to give up the struggle and allow him to kill her? What would God think as the last little bit of life left her body?
Sensing a change within her, his rough hands completely moved away from her neck, giving her a brief reprieve to catch her breath. Yet, her body did not feel like her own, and he slapped her a few times and brought her back to her reality. She thought, I’m in deep trouble. As quick as he released his grip, his hands tightened around her neck again, his fingers burrowing deeper into her neck. Was he trying to produce excess fat when there was not any?Am I so bad that he feels it necessary to excavate the sides of my neck? She had done questionable things in the past, but her past actions were not so severe to equal death, let alone this kind of death.
Delilah teetered between leaving her living world behind and embracing the new world much darker and permanent. His body no longer looked like a man’s body upon glance. He now wore a robe, the darkest black she had ever seen. The hood brought a long shadow to his face. The thick folds of crushed satin hung peacefully on his robe that covered his now transparent skin. He floated above her, not wanting to violate her quite yet.
There was much more playing to be done, and he wanted to engage in this fabrication until the end. She felt the weight of him on her again, but this time only bore half the previous weight. Her survival instincts betrayed her, and soon found herself waiting to be extinguished, her chest lifting and falling heavy, knowing it would be her last breaths. He copied her movements, in a mocking way. She had no idea what his name was and before she could demand it from him, Delilah woke up and found her hands clutching her neck.