Tag Archives: AmWriting

The watcher.

In response to Photo-Fiction #46

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I got my hat when I was 17. It had been hanging on the wall of the rickety shack where my summer love reached it’s zenith. I had loved her and she was only passing through and as a parting gift I had given her my virtue. She had given me a hat. I wore it proudly and for many years it was the thing by which I was defined.

“My Husband, the one with the hat.” My wife fondly. I had worn it on our first date, or wedding day, seen our son born.

“Dad, do you always have the wear the hat?” my son full of teenage angst. I wore it everyday to work, to drop him off to school.

“My Grappa wears a funny hat.” my granddaughter full of childish glee. It was hiding my bald spot.

“Grappa can I wear it?” My great grandson, the magician. To him I was just classic.

I watched them grow and change as the world chiseled them into shape. It’s been a good life, witnessed since that day in that rickety shack, by this hat. Is it any wonder, that when she came to me at death’s door, it was the thing I took with me?

She came, that night as the machine beeps started to slow, I could feel my last breath gathering it’s strength, she had come. Not a day older than the 19 I had left her, the ghost of a summer back then. My hat on the side table. She offered me another way. A chance to see and to follow, the way the man the hat had been had done for me. Just to watch and never interfere.

I made the choice, I took her offer. I’ll live, a watcher now, in a black top hat.

The Stranger

In response to Photo-Fiction #28

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“Back then I was a wild child. Out ’til all hours, moonlight raves, in the nude no less. Once it promised a new experience, I was there. I tried it all, once it was there.If was good I did it again.”

She must have seen the look on my face. I’m sure I looked somewhere between awestruck and mortified.

“How you mean? You think you come lately doing great things? I remember running nude through the botanical gardens, not a stitch. The only thing covering us was the hair God provided. Lighting an effigy in the government yard. And the vigils?” She laughed out loud. A musical sound, that set all the lines of her face in motion, like a road map of all the things she had felt over time. “We had causes back then, real ones. Not them flimsy things y’all argue about now.”

I was still gaping. But no words could come, I couldn’t reconcile the woman in the photo, all laughing and carefree, so much cleavage, with the grey afro and the pride straightened back bone, and the deep, warm, wise voice that came out of my mother’s face. She was statuesque, she required the bowing of heads or bending of knees when she entered a room. This stately woman who had been the subject of my rebellion with her dignified-ness. Now it seemed she could read my thoughts, because she continued.

“I had my fight, I did the radical thing. Then I learned, to look before I leap, to finish the conversation after I made the statement. I learned how to play all the parts needed.” She handed my blouse and looked around the dank cell they had stashed me in. “I came from here too. You’ll get there, some day.”

It was Fur Elise

In response to photo-fiction #31

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It was Fur Elise we heard, as we hid in the woods.It was the song  Nan had played on the old baby grand. To get us to sleep, or to be quiet when Mama had reached the end of her wit and Papa was not there to quell us with his stern expression.

We had listened to her play the night the men had come. Stopping abruptly the music and the spell of sweet Nan, who smelled like peppermint and her tincture for her fingers and old age. Stopped it with shouting in their harsh voices, the splintering of wood as the door frame shattered beneath their boots and the wailing of an old woman, and the arguing of an old man. A ruckus made only to allow Mama to herd us all out the kitchen, across the way and to Papa, the Rabbi and the family who gave our kind shelter.

We heard Fur Elise in the forest three weeks later, as we tried to reach the border in stealth. To escape the concentration camps, the mustard gas, the manifestations of the Fuhrer’s  hatred. Six of us, listening almost dreamlike to the sound of a piano in the middle of the forest.

The smallest among us ran to the sound, looking maybe for Nan. It was a man he found instead, one of them. The same one that had ripped our life apart with a heavy boot to our front door. He never stopped playing, even as we skidded to a halt before him, as our hearts stopped and we each said our own version of the benediction. Each saying in our own way, goodbye to this life. He did not stop, his masterful hands gliding gently over the keys, until he was finished, and all that was left to temper the ear was the sound of my mother weeping.

“I am sorry.” He turned to us, he too was in tears. Tired and sadness carved deep in the lines of his face, he let us go.

 

Listening to Road Noise: Assumptions

A little creative writing, a little reflection.

She lay in the circle of his arms, warm and well tousled. He kissed her shoulder and ran his finger a smooth line up and down her collar bone. She felt a smile boom across her lips. He proceeded to nibble his way towards her neck, and she felt something inside her clench. She wasn’t sure if it was the memory of what had just passed between then, or if it was the anticipation of the sating the hunger he was awakening again. But she liked it. She heaved a happy sigh, just as he laid a tender kiss just behind her ear.

“Promise me something.” his breath tickled her.

“What?” her own husky murmur answered his.

“That we will never assume anything about each other.” she furrowed her brow at that. It wasn’t what she was expecting. She turned slightly to catch his hazel eyes. He was serious, and anxious maybe. He wanted this of her. She nodded, and let him engulf her in a kiss so passionate she had no choice but to fall right into him all over again.

You see, what he wanted was for her, for either of them really, to never take for granted the weight of each other’s opinion. To never assume that every reaction would be the same. To never loose sight of the moment. Being young and idealistic, maybe because of the newness of them, never really coming into contact with the harsher sides of each other, not having been scared by each other the way long time lovers do, he understood that you can never really know what someone else is thinking. He also knew that this woman was his, only and utterly. He wanted her to always be with him, known to him. Or at least when I think back at that scene, and the conversation that happened after the love making. That is what it seems. That is what I hope it was. That is what they lost sight of.

Some time later, they stopped asking the questions that matter. Worse, they stopped wanting to answer. Why? I think they stopped wanting to be so open. They saw once or twice the fragility of what they had together, and instead of cherishing and protecting and making up of minds to always hold it in high regard, they thought to protect themselves from the end of it. Surely something so fragile must eventually fail right?

Or it could have been that they just got complacent, thinking that they knew all that there was to know, despite evidence to the contrary. Despite the fact that time and life and even each other had evolved them into people they didn’t start off being. Maybe feeling that some things should have been learned by now. Or depending on a level of comfortable familiarity to always lead to the right choices or responses. Is that even possible though?

What of those moments when assumptions breed calamity? Is it then worth the strain, bought on by the fear of the question mark? After all, isn’t the whole point of courting intimacy with another soul, to be seen and accepted completely?

He walks in, his shoulders slumped against his burden. She takes him in briefly then turns back to her own task. He didn’t want to talk about it, she was sure. She didn’t want the brushing off that she knew came with asking if he was OK. He would say he was, even though his crisis was evident in the sad line of his lips, the crease of his brow and the weary way he surveyed their space. She heard him strip, listened to the shower, the rustle of the towel, and felt the mattress dip as he settled himself in.

She read, and he twiddles with his phone. So it went til her mind wouldn’t let her anymore. She missed him, and he was right there beside her.

Setting her book on the stand beside their bed, she snatched the phone from his fingers and sent it the way of her book. He was fast, but she was faster, and she levered herself onto him, straddled him and captured his protest with her own lips. His body went rigid, as if he meant to protest, but he softened. Soon his tongue was eagerly exploring her, and his nimble fingers tangled in her hair, traced the lines of her body and rid her of the gossamer nightgown she had chosen to shield her body from him this night.

He settled her beneath him soon after, and claimed her enthusiastically. Until they both had only enough strength to sink sweaty skin to the cool sheets in a tangle of well worn limbs.

“Are you ok?” she asked, planting a reverent kiss to his lips. Holding her breath, hoping that the moment wouldn’t shatter when he refused her. Instead his arms tightened around her, and he nestled his face into the crook of her neck and inhaled deeply.

“No, today was…..”

 

It was the Dwen,

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“Do’ ansa you name if you only hear it once. You hear me? Do’ ansa if you no see nobody. Do’ go outside,  jus kip quiet and go ’bout you way.” She wiped her hands on her apron,  and sat heavily on the concrete, coal pot smoke wafting around her in the twilight.

“You see de boy Fredrick, lib ova so? He na juss come nuh? Is de Dwen, dat did tek him. You wan’ en’ up like he?” she had told us this story about 50 times in a tenth the number of days. In fact it was all the old people could talk about.

The boy who had disappeared over 20 years ago.  Found wandering the main road coming into the village, in a stupor. Claimed he was just playing with a little girl in the bush, just yesterday. But yesterday was 20 years gone and he come back a big man. Well, with a big man body anyhow.

He looked frighten when he saw his reflection. Even more so when he saw his mother, who had long abandoned sanity for missing her only son and mourning her husband who died of grief. It was him, because his fingerprints match those of the child that disappeared.

Later Javonte Piper would tell what the old people didn’t know, that he saw Fredrick come back. He said he fell out of a rippling reflection in the middle of a wild tamarind thicket. Said before the air became clear and thin again, he self heard a little girl laughing. Said the place was cold all when it happened, and truth be told if you walk there you feel a chill, more than that cause it cold from in your bones.

I nudge my daughter, rolling her eyes, she needs to listen.

“Do’ answer if you hear jus’ one call.”

In response to photo-fiction #26