Fiction

Hope's Survival: Art in the AM

Sep 7, 2016

You told me there was more, outside the small window in the bare wood door, more to see, to know, to feel, to explore. I was a superhero, in your eyes, in my multicolored dreams and multifaceted yearnings. Outside our small, cold, cramped home, there was more.

I don’t know, even now, why I believed you, but I did. I believed that I was bigger than our small life. I believed that one day I’d soar, find my way, dream, build, live, explore. I believed insanely in the veracity of a life beyond our worn walls.

It’s not that you were perfect—I knew that even then. You had your share of invited persecutions, of self-sabotaging delusions, of days, weeks, months of malaise, of despair, of short cold days and colder nights. Your temper was short and your wrath wasn’t spared. But you always had one thing, and there wasn’t a single day when it wasn’t evident. You had hope. And you shared that hope with me.

I watched as life passed by, through the small windows, through the cracks in the walls where the... Read More »

Father's Directive

Jul 20, 2016

Jason had never spoken to her. Seeing her as merely a play toy, an object to satisfy his amusement and lust—and Father’s directive—he communicated with pokes, prods, and, occasionally, gesticulating motions, as if she were a German Shepherd. Sit. Stay. Quiet.

The basement was damp and dreary this time of year, the rainy season, late April, but Jason didn’t mind. Most of his days he spent at work, and his nights he slept in his comfortable bed. Still though, this prize hadn’t brought him the joy of the... Read More »

Strange Surroundings

Jun 24, 2016

He woke to strange surroundings. It was bright daylight. A slight rocking. A canopy of trees.

The hammock. In the backyard. Sunday afternoon. John had his bearings.

Was this his actual life? It was hard to fathom. John squinted at the narrow swords of sunlight, reaching through the leaves and branches above.

The thin membrane of his existence that had been his only reality for three decades was thickening, hardening. That constant sense of unfamiliarity and tenuousness was gone. The new jobs were going well; his clients were impressed and paid him well. The new house was a significant improvement over the dump he’d left, with... Read More »

'76 Gremlin

Jun 3, 2016

I know it’s not cool to drive my ’76 Gremlin, but to me, it’s my identity.

I remember the day it all clicked in for me. I was fourteen. My dad had bought the Gremlin new. He was proud. It was his first new car. Working as a carpenter was good, honest, steady work, but it wasn’t exactly the sort of thing that made a man wealthy. We always had enough but never had a lot.

So he bought the Gremlin, an early Christmas present to himself and his small family, late in 1975. My first thought was horror. It was an ugly, almost scary, green. And boxy. And small, cramped. He’d traded in a ’67 Impala. A boat. Roomy. The back seat was more than spacious enough for me and my two sisters. There was even room for Max, our dog, a mix of mostly German Shepard with some sort of retriever or pointer, most likely—we never knew.

For two weeks I made excuses to stay home. I didn’t want to be seen in the car. Hank’s parents had a Lincoln and a conversion van they’d take on short camping trips. John’s dad had a Cadillac. And we had a Gremlin. The horror!

Then the moment came that would change my perspective in life, for the next thirty years, and likely far beyond. I was in English Lit class, Hank on my left and John on my right. We had been nearly inseparable since John moved in next door six years earlier.

Miss Simple... Read More »

Haunting

Apr 7, 2016

I clearly remember the moment I died. When I saw my lifeless body, beyond peaceful, inert, on my bed, I first thought I was dreaming. Then I noticed the details. The color of the hardwood floor, a shade darker than pine, a subtle sheen, random flecks of dust. The knickknacks and keepsakes on my mahogany bookshelf, on the top shelf, the beer stein from Austria, photos of Beverly and Amy, my daughters, each graduating from UVA, Beverly in '92 and Amy in '94. The rosary I'd received at my First Communion, cheap plastic black and white beads, white crucifix, unused for twenty years—I don't know why I kept it so long. The heavy black coffee mug that was a gift from Gwen, my wife of ten years, who died at thirty-two of an aneurysm, with a quote from Wordsworth: “Faith is a passionate intuition.” I'd tried to find faith after her sudden departure but my faith was as dusty and neglected as the mug.

Dreams were never so detailed, so colorful, so vibrant, so complete. This was no dream. This was a new sort of reality. A reality without blood, without breath, and somewhat surprisingly, without smell or sound.

I was surprised also that I could still feel. Not in a tactile sense, but in a “heart” sense. Obviously, I had no heart, no brain, no flowing life through me, and yet I still had thoughts, memories, feelings. What was life then, if not physical cells and chemicals and interactions and iterations?... Read More »

Carousel

Sep 27, 2015

It's not all that hard, not really.

What's that? Life.

Bullshit! What's hard about it?

The usual. Money. Job. Relationships. Bullies. Bastards. Bitches.

Other people make your life hard?

Well, yeah. Of course.

Why's that?

Do you really think I know?

I do.

Well, I don't. I mean, I don't think I know. If I knew, I'd change it, wouldn't I?

Would you?

Why the hell wouldn't I?

What's the payoff to not changing?

The payoff? There's no payoff! Unless you count grief, discomfort, disappointment, loneliness.

Maybe you like feeling that way.

Why would I like feeling that way?

You tell me.

This is a useless conversation. It's just a circle.

Yes. A circle. You got it.

I got it?

Yes.

Got what?

It's a circle. You're running around in circles. You must enjoy it. Or find it comforting.

Comforting?!

Yup.

Do not.

Regressing to six-year-old responses won't help you.

Will too!

As you wish.

As I--damnit. So what you're saying is that I like to feel bad so I invite these people who make... Read More »

Clarence

May 19, 2015

I’m sitting with a man I just met.

He’s overweight, but not unattractively so. He’s smoking Marlboro Reds. Says he gave em up for the fortieth time; started back up today, a day he calls grey.

He went to church Sunday; says he sang with angels. Healed a woman with chronic arthritis. Says it without pride, just matter-of-fact.

He enjoys the quiet irony of the Batman t-shirt he’s wearing. “Never take life too damned seriously,” he counsels.

“Are you suggesting—?”

“Ain’t suggesting nothin’, son. Just observin’.”

“Observing.” I let the word echo in the still spring air, moist from the morning’s rain.

“Yup. Just observing.”

I decide to move to another topic. “What brings you to Delaware?”

“Seemed as good a place as any to stop. I caught a ride with a couple takin’ the scenic route to North Carolina. Decided I didn’t want to hear any more of their subtle bickering.”

“Subtle?”

“Yeah. You know. It’s the looks I noticed first. Suzy put three sugars in his coffee and I think he only wanted two. He watched her put in the third packet, then there’s this little shake of his head. I been riding with em since Boston. Had enough.”

“You have plans to stay?”

“I don’t never make plans, son. Not beyond a couple days out anyway.”

I wonder why he calls me son. It’s clear he’s no older than I am, or if he is, it’s no more than a couple years. I decide not to be offended. “What sort of work do you do?”

“A little of this, a little of... Read More »

Independence

Aug 10, 2014

“I simply don’t believe in the limits that you believe in.”

“I don’t even know what that means.”

“It means precisely what it says. It means that I know that this life we share is limited only to the extent that we believe it’s limited. It means that I don’t subscribe to your definition of the universe, to a definition based almost wholly on physical theories and postulates and misdirections. It means—”

“Are you saying that Newton was wrong? And Galileo? And Einstein?”

“That’s not precisely what I’m saying, no. What I’m saying is that they were right, and you are right in your agreement with them. And that is perfectly okay for all of you. But I’m also saying that their correct view and perception of the universe is not the only correct view and perception. And I’m saying I don’t subscribe to theirs, or to yours.”

“What? You’re somehow smarter than all of us? You’ve found some sort of higher formula?”

“It’s not about smarts. It’s about the precise opposite of smarts. It’s about heart, about soul, about courage and independence.”

“Independence?”

“Yes.... Read More »

March Fourteenth

May 10, 2014

She’d cried at least once a day since March fourteenth.

Sally touched her iPhone to silence the alarm. She reached to the left side of the bed, the side nearer the bedroom door, and found it empty. Again. Ted was gone, she reminded herself. Gone. Forever.

She wiped away a single tear, quickly sliding off the bed, and lightly walked down the hall to her kitchen. She could smell the richness of fresh brewed Starbucks coffee.

It wasn’t... Read More »

I Wonder

Jun 21, 2012

I wonder if you know. I wonder if you could ever know. I wonder if you could ever know the fullness. I wonder if you could ever know the fullness of what I feel for you.

Of course, I love you. That you know, have known, since that first week we shared, experienced, unexpected, welcome, known. Memphis, the town, is a blur now to me, but I remember clearly your eyes. I remember your fragrance, fresh and airy, strong and full. I remember breathing in your sweet essence, how it stretched and grew when I touched you, undressed you.

For some reason I remember the deep green drapes, but I don't remember the color of the walls. I don't remember whether the hotel room's window faced east or west. But I remember the first touch of your full and pink nipple. I remember your black lace bra, though I saw it for only and instant before I removed it. I considered for but half an instant asking, but knew I... Read More »

10 Random Fiction Posts (All Fiction Posts)