I’m quite stoked to have my Beneath the Rind included in Issue 2 of Unbroken. This journal is the brainchild of R.L. Black, a writer of the highest caliber. You can read all the scintillating prose in this issue here. My piece can be found on pages 76/77.
photo by jbdodane
I stabbed the heat once with a sharpened twig. I didn’t kill nor wound the blistering menace but it felt my rage, my unbridled defiance.
I would cocoon myself in palm fronds to avoid its searing wrath. The sun chuckled at my naïveté as its orange tentacles slipped through tiny cracks and looped itself around my wilting body like a flaming octopus. Cursing the infernal beast was fruitless as it only made me thirstier. Sometimes I just ran, bolted across the roasting sand until my lungs bloomed fire. The bored star tracked my escape, offering a hazy middle finger as a prize.
When the loneliness descended upon me like nightfall and my mind sank like the boat, I was forced to make peace with my tormentor. I would salute her daily and she reciprocated with a warm kiss. We lost ourselves in flirty laughter and conversations about family, books and climate change. She was muted perfection. Once, at dusk, I confessed my love, told her that she was the golden heart of my sky.
I still think of her four years after my rescue. Every morning I watch through the window as my fiery mistress rises in all her splendor. I always offer her a whispered and desirous hello.
My entry for Flash! Friday Volume 3-12. Your story was to be inspired by the photo prompt above and the conflict of Man vs Nature had to be explored in some fashion. Word count between 190-210. Pleased to receive a Special Mention this week considering there were 83 wonderful entries this week. A top 8 placement is pretty cool. The judges this week were Sinéad O’Hart and Pratibha Kelapure, two talented and kind writers. Their comment about my tale is below.
For an Interesting Premise: Chris Milam, “Saulė.” This story gains a Special Mention for its interesting premise. A shipwrecked man (we presume) who goes from raging at the merciless sun to feeling a grudging respect, and eventual affection, for his one-time tormentor, we thought this tale offered a fresh and interesting take on the idea of man vs. Nature. The image of the sun’s rays like ‘orange tentacles… loop[ing] around [his] wilting body like a flaming octopus‘ was particularly accomplished.
Photo by Esben Theis Jensen
Blueberry manslaughter was splashed on the kitchen floor and Eliza’s plaid pajamas.
“I made you a healthy shake, Daddy. There’s banana in it too.”
Two sloppy glasses sat on the counter next to the blender. “Thank you, Sunshine. Is that one for mommy?”
“Yes. If she drinks it she won’t sleep so much. It’s a magical potion.”
“That’s a wonderful and caring idea. How about you run upstairs and bring it to her. She’ll love it.”
Her concoction actually tasted good, a refreshing palate cleanser, but it didn’t have the nutrients to purify Kate’s marauded bloodstream. Eliza and her fruity medicine would never ascend that precipitous and terminal hill.
My entry in the the latest Micro Bookends weekly contest. The photo above was your prompt and the first word had to be Blueberry and the last word Hill. Word count between 90-110. My story received an Honorable Mention this week and the kind words from the judge, David Borrowdale, are below.
“Blueberry manslaughter” is definitely the best use of the opening bookend this week. Such a sad story A little girl wants to help her sick mother by making her nutritious smoothies. “Kate’s marauded bloodstream” is a wonderful expression of the disease Eliza is trying to combat.
Liverpool-Hope street. Photo by Harshil Shah
The terminal was a collage of strange invisibility. Rogue escape artists with detached faces peered at discolored tile, shoelaces and Gate 13, a glass portal to freedom.
I wanted to ask random people who or what they were running from. Was love brewing out west? A renewal of spirit? Or maybe they were similar to me, a man who flees when hope dissolves and the only remaining option is acceptance.
“Half Moon Bay now boarding,” the driver announced. It was a stampede of restless bones to have our tickets punched.
It was dusk on the bus, a human darkness of obscured intentions. She lounged in the fourth row. Luminous. A white rose floating atop engine oil. I intentionally grazed her leg as I headed to an available seat.
There was dejection in her eyes, a sapphire sadness that throttled me. I wanted to climb inside and vacuum the shadows. But the back of her head was all I saw the rest of the trip, her indifferent ponytail a mute witness to my longing.
When we exited the bus she strolled into oblivion as I stood directionless under an insurgent moon, its radiance like a shroud of solitude on my vagabond skin.
She was wrong. I wasn’t fine.
My entry in Flash! Friday Volume 3-11. Your story had to use the photo above as a prompt and the moon as some kind of setting for your tale. The total word range was 190-210.
There are times when I have to flip the switch in my mind and slither away into the cold comfort of solitude. This usually occurs when I’m involved in some kind of war with myself, a battle of combative thoughts instigated by a never-ending quest for understanding.
We plod through our lives enveloped by a bubble of fragility. When things stay on script, we are safe in this transparent cocoon. We can function. We can sleep. But at some point there will be a piercing of this faux-sanctuary, a pinprick of chaos that bleeds the tranquil air from your tenuous fortress of sanity. You emerge deflated and defeated with a wounded psyche and a perplexed soul. Things don’t make sense. Your mind becomes a labyrinth of dark turns and obscured voices. Everything is melting. Everything is a hoax.
When I’m in this mental quagmire I question the motivation of others, their sincerity. Their true intentions. And I question my own as well. I can process and flesh-out what I’m feeling at a certain time but I never truly find an answer. People are strange. I’m strange. But people are also manipulative and chameleon-like in their words and actions. I can spend hours attempting to peel back the layers of a stray comment, a fraudulent smile or the veiled deceit lurking in a digital missive. Sometimes it feels like dishonesty is the currency of every person I meet. Or maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m the issue here, a paranoid malcontent with a penchant for caustic relationships.
In the end, you have to move forward. You can’t change people. You can’t force them to be genuine and kind. The only option you have is to be the better human being. Don’t let others drag you into a cesspool of self-loathing and impenetrable darkness. We are not powerless, we are not valueless, it just feels that way at times. We invite what derails us when we make the decision to swathe ourselves in the machinations of others. You can choose to be a human marionette or you can choose to be a human devoid of that insatiable need to be loved, cherished and respected by all. Or at least a human who isn’t controlled by the opinions and deeds of people who are coated in the veneer of subterfuge. Implementing that philosophy is the tricky part but if you want to unshackle yourself from the invisible chains of pain that are latched by dismissal, deceit and degradation, it’s the only realistic answer.
This was supposed to be a music but I got distracted as usual. Put your ear buds in tight and get lost in some tunes. Or begin the process of repairing that punctured bubble of yours.
Haunting and gorgeous, this cover is my go-to song when writing an emotional scene in a piece of flash fiction.
Relatable and potent lyrics touching upon the need for that warm blanket of withdrawal when struggling with the darkness.
This is like a prose poem masquerading as a song. Lyrics that explore those slayers of the mind, blame and regret.
Jack White spins a tune about being controlled and marginalized by the powers that be, those entitled folks who don’t recognize the value in others.
A killer riff with a sultry vibe and lyrics steeped in the carnal grit of pining for someone.
Angel Olsen is a troubadour of melancholy. There’s an authenticity to her music that really appeals to me.
The day will come
when your laughter
vacates its perch
in my gutted mind
When it ceases to purr
like a jeweled feline
When its dignified echo
melts into a scarred hum
When its silken bounce
wilts into a lone thread
The day will come
when you are muted,
a hypnotic soprano
trapped in a glass vial
Until then, I am chained
to the sound of you,
a reverb of titillation
marinating in my chest
That saccharine melody
a throb in my throat