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Thursday, December 31, 2009

December drabbles - 31

They kept him in a paper-wrapped box, and planted him in a place scented with pine. He dreamed outdoors, sweet earth beneath his paws.

Morning brought music, loud laughter, bright lights and wrappings all soggy and damp. Pup wagged his tail and they carried him round in a handbag till time for bed.

Tree tossed; the pup was left out in the shed. He pined for his pine, searched the roadside and hid by its scent. “Not even twelfth night yet,” sighed a passer-by. “Poor wet little thing.” She took him home, best gift, best friend, happily ending the tale.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

December drabbles - 30

Amy’s Mom gave her the wrong blanket for Christmas. She’d chattered for weeks about the red one with blue stars. This blue blanket simply wouldn’t do so Amy threw it away.

Amy’s dog liked every kind of blanket. This new one seemed just right to him, red stars for his paws, blue sky clamped tight in his jaws. Perfect he thought.

Amy’s dog liked the blanket so much he took it for a walk. An old man under the viaduct was shivering on a newspaper bed. Amy’s dog dropped the blanket and carried the newspaper back home to Amy instead.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

December drabbles - 29

Mom said the baby was a wonderful Christmas present. Dan thought his train was more fun and the computer games looked more interesting. The baby was wrinkled and icky, smelled odd, and made a funny noise.

“He’s your brother,” said Dad.
“Your best friend,” said Mom.
But Dan said “Yuk.”

Dan’s Dad found a photo of Dan as a new-born baby, looking wrinkled and icky, with his face scrunched up to make a funny noise.

“Look at you,” said Dad. “You turned out okay; I’m sure your brother will too.”

Maybe next Christmas thought Dan, going back to play trains.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Dacember drabbles - 28

He watched the house empty out again this morning. Mom snatched the children from bed. “No more holidays,” she said. Dad grabbed his computer-bag and a lunch-box that smelled of turkey and ham.

“Can Sam come too,” asked the kids as Mom loaded the car.

He’d enjoyed their company so much. But, “No,” said Mom. “Dogs stay home.” So he watched them go.

Delicious smells still drifted from the fridge. Sam’s nose, pressed close to the door, felt it move, blasting cold. Delicious indeed.

Then, warm and sated, he lay on the rug, and waited for them to come home.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

December drabbles - 27

On the sofa a mother sat suckling her child, shirt untidy, undone, drawn carefully back, and a blanket wrapped warm on her shoulder. The baby’s suckling murmured and sighed and the music of Christmas replied with whispering smile.

On the floor a little girl sat nursing her doll, rumpled dress pulled wide, towel hanging from her shoulder. The baby’s suckling sound she made were her own imitation of her brother’s hum.

In the manger scene a mother gazed down at her son. Shepherds and kings gazed too, and father, and sheep. The son gazed up.

And the Son gazes down.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

December drabbles - 26

Papers were scattered across the floor, bright wrappings in tangled heaps, dull newsprint lying in flat carpet-squares. Boxes were torn and upended and toys ruled supreme.

Father and grandfather crouched on living-room floor, aching knees ignored. Backs bent; wrists reached; eyes glowed with pleasures in store. They fitted track to terminus, circle to straight, and loops to points. They snapped the cars to carriages to engine and flipped the switch.

“Daddy,” said the child.
“In a minute. Nearly done.”
“Please,” said the child, hands on hips, staring down hopefully. “Isn’t it my turn to play with my Christmas presents now?”

December drabbles - 25

In the morning he barked at the milkman, postman and kids from down the street. He should’ve been kinder to the mailman though, ‘cause the parcels smelled savory and sweet.

At lunchtime he barked in the kitchen but no one there had time for him. They gave him an ancient biscuit from the end of the pack.

In the afternoon he barked at the cat and the squirrels and the birds.

In the evening he barked at the tree. They said “Don’t touch,” and went to bed.

And at night-time he waited silently by the fireplace for Santa to arrive.

Friday, December 25, 2009

December drabbles - 24

The donkey’s hooves kick gravel on the road. Camels and kings pad softly over sand. Sheep munch the ragged cold-dried grass. Cows low. And shepherds wait. The pregnant woman feels the start of pains. Father, afraid; “I’m sure we’ll find a place.”

“No room. No room.” The crowded streets.
“No room.” The jam-packed stores.
Bright lights. Bright singing voices. Years gone by.

Shopkeeper hangs his apron, soldier his gun. Sailors brings their ship to port. Teacher opens a page. The preacher’s words sagely report what angels sing, “No room.”

So gathered round the tree and stable now, we welcome Him.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December drabbles - 23

Some mornings nobody wants to wake up—the air's too cold; bed-clothes too snugly warm. But sounds of movement disturb him now. Feet bound. Doors rattle and slam on pots and pans. Scents drift with mysteries to share; laughter in the bathroom; giggles in the crib; and church-bells ring.

Some mornings he buries his head and pretends he’s not there, pretends not to care. But today baby brother’s rushed in with milk-suds on his chin. “Christmas!” he says; it’s one of the few words he knows.

Some mornings are different, so just for once, just this morning, the teenager grins.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December drabbles - 22

“Frank’s the sensible one.”
“He’s what?” asked Mom.
“Frank’s in sense.”
“Oh, right.”
“So Frankie’s the king.”
“Frank who?”
“David’s big brother Frank.”
“Gone to college I think.”
“And David’s washing socks.”
“David’s what?”
“He’s a shepherd, in the play”
“Okay.”
“He washes socks by night you see. And Jeremy’s the flea.”
“What flea?”
“The one that Joseph took.”
“Joseph did what?”
“He took his wife and son and flea to Egypt.”
“Not sure about that.”
“But I don’t know why.”
“You don’t know what?”
“A flea would’ve made them scratch I think.”
And imagining it was making Mommy itch.

Monday, December 21, 2009

December drabbles - 21

“D’you hear the geese?”
Flocks flew overhead, but “Not geese Mom,” said the child. “It’s God’s organ-pipes playing.”

Blackbirds rose in a fluttering cloud. “D’you see the birds?” said Mom
“Not birds. They’re angels.”

“D’you smell the smoke?” from a hundred fires, heating a hundred homes.
“Hay,” said the child.

“Can you feel the cold?”
“God’ll keep me warm.”
“Can you taste the air on your tongue?”

The little girl opened her mouth and gazed up at the sky. “Like honey,” she said, “and sweeter than wine.”
“And what do you know about wine?”
“Well, you tell me ‘Stop whining.’”

Sunday, December 20, 2009

December drabbles - 20

Really early on Christmas morning, or late on Christmas night, Tom and Alice drained the sherry glass, ate the last lonely pie, and watched the carrot-shavings softly curling by the fire.

“Think she’s asleep?”
“Let’s see.”

Tom’s red dressing gown was tied with a sash that matched the hat on his head. Santa-style, he smiled.

“Check the sack,” whispered Alice as they reached their daughter’s door, so he crawled to the cot.

“I'm invisible, see?”

But infant voice squealed out with infant glee, “Nice doggy!” and father scrambled away.

“She thinks I’m a dog?” he asked. Alice patted his head.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

December drabbles - 19

“Take your places.”

The children formed into lines, smallest angels in front and the tallest one at back. Teachers straightened haloes, untangled wings, and whispered words of wise encouragement: “Remember to sing. Remember; walk slowly now.”

Two heavenly lines snaked down the aisle, dissolving to pattering feet that ran while voices brightly sang.

“Careful.” They scrambled on pulpit steps, shuffling front to back, till the tallest angel was ready to speak.

The audience waited with bated breath. The seraph raised her eyes and opened her mouth, then loudly pronounced:

“Please Miss, one of the angels just peed in the pulpit!”

Friday, December 18, 2009

December drabbles - 18

A small tree bloomed, its branches bent with jewels, glass-walled reflections. Twinkling lights lent red and blue and yellow to shade the dark. And childish hands, each movement planned, pressed fingers over figures loved by time. Jane had the pale blue Mary, sparkling smile. John held out Joseph; Tim, the child, while Mama clutched the manger.

They set their shapes in place to wait while Papa fixed the lights. Then, shades and shadows blending right, he set the cruciform night-lamp to guard against the dark. “Saved by His grace,” he whispered; smiled; the Christ-child born again in Bethlehem.

“It’s Christmas-time!”

Thursday, December 17, 2009

December drabbles - 17

Tom slid miserably down the wall as girls crowded the hall. He wished he’d not been chosen, hated this. Jen’s catty, sharp-clawed words were hard; Len pudding-pawed her face; Di rooster-crowed.

“It’s only a play,” said the teachers. “Calm down while we choose.”
But “No-one’s playing,” thought Tom and watched them bruise. Mousy Len would suit the tale perhaps, but they picked Jen.

Standing beside him with doll in arms, eyes kitten-soft and keen, “’Lo Joseph,” she preened. A feline remnant glinted in green gaze. The baby slipped. Tom reached to gentle it. Then Jen cat-laughed with cruel, sharp-clawed glee.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December drabbles - 16

Mom was shopping for jeans for Tom. He thought his holey ones were fine; she disagreed.

Jen thought see-through blouses would be perfect Christmas attire. Mom disagreed.

Michael tipped his juice on the floor and smiled. Mom sighed again.

Sometime around then Jen realized Mom was doing a lot of disagreeing. But they stood in line for Santa discussing gifts. “Wouldn’t it be cool...?” “If only…” “Please…” with Mom still tired and sad.

“I wish our Dad could come home for Christmas,” said Tom and Jen together. Michael said “Da.” And Mom? She most heartily agreed.

Then her cell-phone rang.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December drabbles - 15

“My girlfriend’s pregnant,” said the youth as the church choir went caroling.
“Then you’re a sinner,” said the elder.
“We’re engaged to be married.”
“It’s still a sin.”

“His girlfriend’s pregnant,” said the elder to the priest.
And the choir sang “Come let us adore.”

“We’ll have to throw him out,” said the priest, “or he’ll corrupt the youth.”
But the old man said, “Put it to the vote. Let him who’s without sin cast the first stone.”

“His girlfriend’s pregnant,” was the verdict.
And, “Mary had a baby boy.”

It’s the sick and sinners who receive the greatest gift.

Monday, December 14, 2009

December drabbles - 14

David didn’t want to be a shepherd.
“Why not?”
“’Cause Daniel’s a sheep; he says he’ll bite me.”

David didn’t want to be a king.
“Why not?”
“’Cause Patrick says the presents weigh too much.”

He didn’t want to be an angel because they wore dresses. Or a camel or a sheep or a donkey because they smell.

“So what will you be?”
“A squirrel, except I can’t see properly through the eye-holes in my mask.”

David’s sister said that was fine because Jesus probably couldn’t see all that well when he was being a baby.

“Emily's doll's the baby.”

Sunday, December 13, 2009

December drabbles - 13

Winter came suddenly, streets turned to ice and wind to infinity. “My coat’s too small,” said the boy; he’d grown so tall.

“Never mind. We’ll get one later,” said his Mom.

They walked from the car, boy wearing four sweaters instead, three hats on his head, arms bearing his load. Old men huddled in holey rags, blowing warmth onto fingers and shivering in the road.

Pale light; church door opened wide to call them inside. Mother and child shared five blankets with fifty men.

“Is that their only present?”
“Could be. Yes.”
Old men smiled Christmas thanks with summer’s glow.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

December drabbles - 12

In scene almost Dickensian, dark alley, mildewed walls and dust-drawn windows eyeless gaze on young child’s pain. She hugs her blanket tight to narrow shoulders, shaking chest, then rests herself in nest of ragged straw. Rat shares the delectation of its grain.

A sudden cloud-break calls to passing stranger, turns her round, the sky resounding, sunlight dripped on rain, prismatic archways cutting angel’s paths through heaven’s refrain.

God-sent, the woman bends to see while shaking child falls still. She pulls away the blanket; wailing cry. In scene almost Dickensian, she draws an orphaned infant from the hay. Angels ask why.

Friday, December 11, 2009

December drabbles - 11

The silver globe hung on the tree, reflecting colors of room and lights, hiding secrets all its own. Child knelt and pointed awestruck at camels and kings that twinkled inside. Shepherds stood with sheep on straw like gold.

Child's knees felt cool dry sand beneath, night-sand. His nose smelled fire. Lambs bleated, cows lowed soft and voices murmured, “Where’s the king?”

But, “Where am I?”

Then babe in manger pointed too, where shadowed door hid darkly, scarcely seen. Child pushed it ajar. He found a room behind and saw himself before a silver globe, tree-hung and whispering, truth by star.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

December drabbles - 10

As woolen clouds touched earth and grew to fog, the sheared sheep shying, as sunlight dropped and puppy-dog wrapped its naked fur in dark, they started out. Stark shepherds crossed the wool-clad field, wool-capped and gowned, where downy grass-heads dripped their milk-white strands, slipped down the hill. Soft lambskin covered small boy’s hands, bleating; he carried his task while town lay sleeping.

Lights danced and sang in candy clouds above, star speckles glinting in the fleece. And newborn babe? Wise shepherds came to offer him a lamb.

Child’s hands grow cold. It really doesn’t matter anymore; waits for the son.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

December drabbles - 9

When the children sing like angels, when the bats fly like reindeer, when bells ring like a wedding, and when joy disperses fear,

When the sun is bright in all your dreams, all night, the air is warm, and every good thing turns out being exactly what it seems,

When all things torn are mended, and every sorrow has its end in sight,

When a loved one’s touch stirs you awake, when the lost are not forgotten and love is a magic spell that nothing can break,

Then you’ll know it’s Christmas and all manner of things shall be well.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December drabbles - 8

“It wasn’t me; it was him,” said Jen when she and her brother tripped over the Christmas lights and got tangled in wires.

“It wasn’t me; it was her,” said David. Lumps of ice made a trail of snowy footsteps behind them on the carpet.

“It wasn’t me; it was him,” said Jen. They’d forgotten to close the door so the dog and cat were outside in the yard.

“Not me; WOOF; it was her.” The dog looked aggrieved. The cat looked proud of the chaos they’d achieved. And both were trapped under slowly deflating snowmen crowned with twinkling stars.

Monday, December 7, 2009

December drabbles - 7

The Christmas tree twinkled with tiny lights and scented the living-room with pine.

“Smells like washing-up liquid,” said Emma, but Mom seemed to like it--she spent the whole afternoon in a chair with her feet up and heavy branches tickling her toes. Then Dad got home and carried Mom upstairs, which was decidedly odd.

“Want a slumber party at Alison’s?” he asked.
“Why?” said Emma.
“Just because.” Getting odder and odder.

Dad walked down the street beside Emma to knock on Alison’s door. Her Mom said okay.

Next morning, when Emma got home, she had a new baby brother.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December drabbles - 6

“Run,” said Lisa.
“Run faster,” said Jill.
“Fly,” said Emily-Dee.

So they skittered through trees, shaking snow from the last autumn leaves, shedding frost on the grass. Under dark looming sky they sang “Faster,” and leaden gray clouds shimmered silkily blue. The quivering moon danced with laughter to see how they flew.

Dripping stardust like gold from their robes, they skipped to the window where children looked out. Tiny fingers made pictures of silver, pale frost on the glass. Then swiftly the three slipped inside, went to hide in the tree - Christmas fairies, dancing and prancing with bright Christmas glee.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

December drabbles - 5

The first year wasn’t so bad; just a touch of black powder in the chimney, sides nice and clear; a good solid roof.

The soot got thicker with the years, of course, and one time a bird’s nest tangled in his beard. Still, it was all part of the job. Even the night they forgot to put out the fire wasn’t really a problem; he just asked the reindeer to do a little judicial watering.

Then they took the fireplaces out. He had to carry his sack through the front door, and left a trail of muddy footprints; Santa’s revenge.

December drabbles - 4

A spider lived in a fir tree in the woods, spinning webs to catch sunshine and rainbows like fairy-lights.

One day she heard a chopping sound; her home fell to the ground. The spider held tight while her tree was carried away, ending up in a parking lot, and then a family’s living-room.

Next day the tree was decorated with lights and ornaments. An angel was fastened to its highest peak, smiling though the small child cried because the angel had lost her wings.

The spider spun new angel wings with gossamer webs that night, and the little child smiled.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December drabbles - 3

Peppy the puppy liked playing under trees with his friends Peter and Pamela. So when Daddy brought a tree into the house, Peppy wanted to play there too. But Peter said “No.”

When Mommy put ornaments on the tree, Peppy wanted to play with them, but Pamela said “No.”

And when a man in a red suit put presents under the tree, Peppy wanted to open them, but “No,” said the man.

Next day was Christmas. Peter and Pamela opened a parcel with a bright red wagon inside. Peppy climbed in to play and, this time, they all said “Yes.”

December drabbles - 2

Oscar’s a cat. Timmy’s a boy. Oscar chases butterflies. Timmy chases Oscar. Oscar chases butterflies up trees and Timmy says “No.”

Oscar couldn’t find any butterflies in winter. He thought the Christmas tree lights looked fun and he chased them to the top. Timmy said “No.” Timmy’s Mommy said “No.” And Oscar caught the fairy but she wasn’t a butterfly.

“Yuk” said Oscar, but it sounded like “Meow.”
“Naughty cat,” said Timmy.
“Give it back,” said Timmy’s Mommy.

Oscar caught a butterfly biscuit that Timmy threw to him. Then Oscar dropped the fairy and said “More.” It sounded like “Meow.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December drabbles - 1

“Why do shepherds wash their socks by night? Wouldn’t they see better in the day?” Alice/Mary was holding her doll upside down, checking for shoes, while Joseph tugged at his gown.

Mrs. Adams had heard it all before. “Now, children; get in line.”

“But if it’s silent night, why are we singing?”

“No talking children.”

“But Miss. Did they have reindeer in the stable?”

She ushered her caroling calamity onto the stage. Dolly Jesus, shoeless and sockless, rolled down the steps, but a “free king” rescued him. The angel’s halo got stuck on the elephant’s nose.

“Did they have elephants?”

Monday, November 30, 2009

November drabbles - 30

“It’s not our way.”
“New land. New ways.”

So the people changed. Slowly their faith, their certainty changed; their government, their dreams, their lives, their freedoms and their hope. Strangers and enemies changed. Buildings changed; the land where they grew crops; the shape of their seas. Wrong-doing and forgiveness; wrong-thinking and war; wrong planning, believing and more.

Too many wrongs don’t make a right, and might’s not right either. But in the end, they were all changed. Their faith, their certainty, their government—their dreams, lives, freedoms, even hope—they learned to share.

So Plymouth grew, and Mayflower’s remembered there.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

November drabbles - 29

They sat in their fortress and planned. They made their alliances, tribesman to tribe, future promise to weigh against pain. Then fire from the sky drenched their village in flames, flowing blood quenched the blaze, and bullets and knives wrenched their lives and their families’ away.

Men women and infants all killed on one day, in one battle, at Mystic River.

“It’s not our way.”
“Too many slain.”
“No bravery or honor in this.”
“Too furious.”

But it was the way of that land far away, and the victors gave praise, sang their bliss, and prayed “Thanks be to God.”

Saturday, November 28, 2009

November drabbles - 28

“The land is the land’s; it’s not ours to divide; not ours to say who lives or dies.”
“Still, so many have died...”
“…leaving space for us all, and the white man has paid with his beads, coats and shovels and spades…”
“…shoes, a pot, and some cloth for a robe with fur sleeves...”

Those who paid for the land, that still wasn’t theirs, sold it on, growing rich on the spoil.

Those who sold squeezed their people to forest and shore, rich in beads while their tribesmen grew poor, while they toiled to survive on that portion unfairly divided.

November drabbles - 27

“They’ve given us a garden my dear.”
“Given a what?”
“A whole plot, all our own.”

The husband led his wife out of town, to the place where his field was assigned. “We’ll grow corn,” he promised. “Keep chickens and pigs and eat eggs,” though by we he meant she.

The boy said “We used to have cows back in England.”
“I know,” said his Dad. “And if any arrive on the boat then maybe we’ll buy one.”

“How?” Mother frowned.
“Well, they’ve given us a garden my dear. You grow things and sell them and I’ll buy the cow.”

Thursday, November 26, 2009

November drabbles - 26

A wise man said, “Once blood is shed it’s seldom staunched,” except by length of war. "If only you’d converted them before," he said, but time for talking done, they set their enemy’s head up on a stalk and praised the day.

The wise man said, “More glorious in men’s eyes than pleasing God’s” is the spreading of fear. Then nations split, alliances changed, and curious flag was raised, held strangely dear. Not red and white against the clear blue sky but cream stained brown; the cloth that bore the enemy’s head proclaimed the enemy’s fate. Peace lay down dead.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

November drabbles - 25

Windows were parchment and linseed, walls wattle and daub, and roofs made of reeds; not really home. Stockades dripped sap, tree-bark peeled back, and cannon stood on guard upon the hill. Men guarded too, the ones that weren’t already starved and gone. Cold breezes dripped, war sipping on the wind.

The steady drip of fear led to despair, and dripping hunger to their flight elsewhere. The ice dripped too. But drips of lies from scheming spies brought threats to cruel truth.

A woman’s face, dark epigraph carved deep on Indian knife, dripped hard-earned tears from blood-stained eyes. The Indian died.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

November drabbles - 24

What’s a man to choose? You can dig in the sand and find clams and call them food but you’ll still go hungry. You can steal the corn that Indians seal away and pretend it’s okay. You can beg them to teach you to fish and they’ll make you a slave but at least you’ll be fed. So what do you do?

They knock the sand-filled clam-shells from your hand and mock and scorn. Will you ignore their taunts and wait to eat? Sneak into their stores and steal? Or beg for help and admit they know better than you?

Monday, November 23, 2009

November drabbles - 23

He rose from prisoner to interpreter to friend, but wanted more. He planned and tricked and played the game of war and politics. “They’ll make you sick,” he swore of those whose hands protected him, and sowed dissent.

“Kill him,” said Massasoit, but the white man said he still needed him.
“Kill him,” said the messenger, but the white man said not yet.
“Kill him,” said the man with knife. “We’ll pay,” but the white man said no, because even a man accused of betrayal might still be called a friend.

When Squanto died, their peace came to an end.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

November drabbles - 22

On Christmas day the families play. That’s just the way things are. The governor called them out to work but instead they all agreed, “No, not today,” so he let them stay.

The holy ones, religious, didn’t choose to follow the crowd. On Christmas day their families worked, a day like any other. The governor called and they set out to labor.

On Christmas day, workers returned to find the town at play. The governor confiscated their games. “No more,” said he. “You can pray if you must, but otherwise work like us, all fair and just.”

On Christmas day…

November drabbles - 21

The snake in the grass shook its rattle and dared them to pass. But the snake in the mind whispered fear and dismay, and the snake in the hand was a skin filled with arrows that day.

“It’s a challenge,” said Squanto, “one tribe to another.” A snake in the promise of Eden. They filled up the skin with gunpowder and sent it straight back.

The challenge was met and the threat settled down but the promise of fear didn’t leave. So they chopped down their Eden’s fair trees to build forts and prepared lest a war should be fought.

Friday, November 20, 2009

November drabbles - 20

“There’s a ship!”

It was exciting at first. Maybe Mayflower had returned, but she stayed offshore.

“Still there.”

The people watched and grew afraid.

“Close now.” The ship rounded the bay while pilgrims fired their cannon rounding laborers from the field.

“Who’s there?” they asked, and Fortune was her name.

It wasn’t the enemy after all, not French but Englishmen in this small vessel to join their group. But they brought neither food nor aid, only orders for furs to trade, and winter soon.

“She’s gone.”

The strange ship sailed away.

“Count your blessings, one by one.” The people prayed.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

November drabbles - 19

At the mercy of rain and soil, reaping rewards of backbreaking toil, ruled by law and God together, with practical steps the pilgrims prepared for the cold. And if the strangers had colored skin, spoke foreign words, dressed odd and worshiped a different kind of God, well, so did strangers everywhere. The streets of Leiden had never quite been home.

“Can I sleep in Sam’s wigwam?”
“Can Sam sleep in my house?”
“Can we have dinner together?”

At the mercy of love and peace, now quarrels ceased and they were chosen friends. But others made their own plans, wanting more.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November drabbles - 18

“We’re free from Crown and Bishop here.”
“And from soldiers defending us.”
“We fight alone.”

So they marched to rescue a captured friend—-a different crown for them, or else a headdress of feathers. They brought the wounded enemies home to treat and purchased peace from the store of good relations. Wild ducks and geese were torn in half for the first Thanksgiving feast, and enemies sealed their friendship with venison.

Green leaves turned scarlet and gold under pale blue sky over wind-blown grass.
“They said we’d not last; be dead in a year.”
“I’m dead serious. We’re still here.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

November drabbles - 17

“I’ve seen a lake,” said the boy. “There’ll be fish. There’ll be food.” But adults told him “Come down out that tree or you’ll fall.”

“I’ve seen people,” he said. “They’ll help us. They’ll tell what to do.” But adults told him “Get on with the job lad. That’s all.”

“I’ve seen the future,” the boy said, and walked in the woods, and disappeared.

Empty valleys were filled with wandering tribes, scary natives with fearful memories of betrayal. And strangers wanted their corn and grave-gifts back.

The boy who saw the future came to lead them out of the past.

Monday, November 16, 2009

November drabbles - 16

They walked side by side with Indians, following the river, and stopping at holes in the ground.

“Here,” said the native and sat down to talk. Here was where someone had lived, where something had happened, where history’d been made. And here; he stopped again. And here; another told the tale of another hole. The walk from lobstered harbor to village was a walk through history. Empty plains were homes of the brave; empty hills their throne.

“Where are they gone?”

“They died. Caught by the plague.”

Life hung by a thread and holes in the ground told its shade.

November drabbles - 15

“Will you marry me; my wife is six weeks dead, I need another?”
“Will you marry me; my husband's eight weeks gone?”
“Will you marry me; my daughter’s sad'n' really needs a mother?”
“Will you marry me, be father to my son?”
“Will you marry me; I need someone to cook the food I grow?”
“Will you marry me and bring me food to cook?”
“Will you marry me; I’m lonely here, and so…”
“I’ll marry you; I’ve nowhere else to look.”
They married each, no need for priest, which Gospels don’t decree,
In accordance with “laudable custom,” secular, free.

Friday, November 13, 2009

November drabbles - 14

Sea and sky colored dismal gray in light that drained away to speckled haze.
“Don’t like it here,” said Emma watching Mayflower’s wavering form.
“Tough.” Her mother pulled her away. “Will you help me cook tomorrow?”

The daughter sighed, watching birds that cried their song in colorless shade.
“Indians,” she said.
“They’ll not come near.”
But they marched bright-robed and dancing like snakes in the pass.
“Are you scared?” asked Emma.
“They’re just visiting dear. Will you help me clean tomorrow? “

Mayflower sailed, the Indians left, and Emma chose a gray-green grass-snake pet.
“Will you help me build tomorrow?”

November drabbles - 13

War or Peace? I don’t mind. Here’s the deal; tipped arrow shining, or blunt release. Which one d’you choose?

And yes, I know I’m not wearing coat’n pants. I’m not naked though, for all your fine words in your book. Have a look. Walk around me. Stare. I don’t care if you find our ways strange. You’ll learn enough.

Food’s good, yes, thanks. Reminds me of Somerset. And I learned soon enough in my time.

Call me Samoset, if you need a name, but tell me what you’ll give. I’m offering War or Peace. Will you die here, or live?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

November drabbles - 12

On the boat, she helped her mother tend the children, and she felt sick. Waves tossed her round. Salt drenched her gown. And she felt sick some more.

In the bay, she helped her mother tend the children, and she felt sick. Neighbors died, were carried aground, buried down where none could save them.

In the house, one long low smelly and miserable place she felt sick again. She buried the lost, tended the living and felt sick.

She mended the wounded, best she could, and wished her parents still lived. She got sick, prayed, God saved, and she survived.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November drabbles - 11

Shores of the land were dotted with homes, sweet smoke pluming into the sky. Fields of the land were ripe with corn and squash trailed its yield on the vine. Streams of the land bore fish and sand bore clams, retrieved from boats built out of hollowed-out pine.

Faraway travelers made wishes and plans, bought a ship and believed, “This we can.”

Sickness spilled and the land filled with bones. Homes fell to the earth, smoke died in the hearth, and crops turned to rot in the mud.

Then travelers brought rebirth to the hollowed-out home. “This land is mine.”

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November drabbles - 10

A rock stuck out in the waters, a sheltered spot, flat-topped and safe in the space of a comforting harbor. The man stepped dry-shod onto land and knew after all their time and toil and trouble, here they would stand.

The woman leaned over the waters at the rail of the ship, watching the tide’s angry waves roiling wildly below. Another woman’s child had child. Another one was sick. Her sorrow cried for a son left behind, his absence wounding her soul.

Trees had no beauty to tempt her now and rocks no gift to save; the ocean her grave.

Monday, November 9, 2009

November drabbles - 9

He dressed in his best and colored his face, feathered arrows to fly straight and true. His wife laced love and jewels into his hair.

“They’ve stolen our corn and this winter we’ll starve,” he said, his eyes fixed on the child. His wife tasted love in the dripping of tears that they shared.

“They’ve stolen our souls from their graves.” She whispered and prayed.

“But don’t fear.” She hugged their child near while her man disappeared.

He was dead in his best and blood covered his face and his arrows were all gone away.

“Now they’ve stolen you too.”

Sunday, November 8, 2009

November drabbles - 8

“Look! People.”
“Friends.”
“And dogs. Let’s talk.”

But the strangers turned away and ran, with dogs kicking sand at their heels.

“They’re natives, see.”
“Get back to the ship.”
“I think that dog’s a wolf.”

From hilltops, strangers stared while white men wheeled around in their boat. “Why don’t they care?”
“Why don’t they share?”
“Why don’t they just float away?”

Then as a wolf turns round in its bed, Mayflower returned to spill her pilgrim load.

“D’you think they’re friends?”
“Don’t know.”
“Where will it end?”

They landed, empted graves and stores alike, denying hope. “This land is mine.”

Saturday, November 7, 2009

November drabbles - 7

They strolled the sand, guns in hand, sea to the right and grassland to the left, keeping the ship in sight. Kettles and pans lay discarded in the grass. Others had passed before. Bees hummed in fields of stubbled corn, long harvested and stored. And patches of empty ground were graves well-dug. Others had passed.

Only ghosts answered cries of geese and gull, haunting grasses and senses, whisps of light. Only ghosts tended corn hid in storage pits, though eyes stayed watching in the night. They didn’t believe in ghosts so they stole the food, leaving strangers to their plight.

Friday, November 6, 2009

November drabbles - 6

The mother thought it an island. She wondered how the ship had strayed so very close to shore. But no, sailors replied, for “Look, there’s more.” And all around poor humans watched while smooth-backed humps devoured the ocean’s unseen bounteous store.

The child called it a fish and swore it swam around the boat. “Look Mom. A fin.”

Father declared it dinner with a grin. He took his gun, and shot at it. The magazine exploded and the whale got fair away.

Around them nature ran her rugged course. And man, who studied dreams and plans, swam stubbornly for shore.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

November drabbles - 5

Monday morning…

They dropped anchor Saturday and longed for shore. But Sunday’s the Lord’s Day with more important matters. Then Monday morning…

The little boat, so close to the waves, felt lost at Mayflower’s side. They staggered, stumbled down and sat, hugged tools to their chests and babies to the breast. Oars squealed, splashed bitter spray sweetened with land. Wet sand and grassland. Glorious cloudless sky.

Ducks flew and geese. Dinner! And mussels grew against the rocks. (Ah, and muscles were weakened later that day; eating them a mistake.)

Then sweet fresh water bubbled in a pond. Monday. Washing day.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November drabbles - 4

“I saw a walking island once,” said the old man.
“No way!” said the child.
“I saw it walk into the bay, with trees as tall as heaven and leaves like the wind.”
“What did you do?”
“We went to see if we'd find friends or food.”
“And what did you see?”
“Grapes of lead and burning fire and death and desire.”

The young man remembered the conversation now. Gazing out from the trees he saw the wooden island drawing near. Its leaves were folded back on themselves and a boat set out for the shore. The future was here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

November drabbles - 3

After the storm, there was land. And sure, the land was over the waves, but there was grass and trees and green, and green, and glorious green, after the blue and the gray.

The children ran and parents caught and held them to keep them safe, while the deck still rolled.

The parents ran and the children caught and held them to keep them near, while the sailors steered.

And then there was tide and tempest and fear, with the hills still too far though so near.

And then, their star-crossed voyage done, there was American earth beneath their feet

Monday, November 2, 2009

November drabbles - 2

Another short story in 100 words for November: A drabble that tries to imagine how the Mayflower's passengers might feel during a storm at sea.

“Stay below!”
“But I’m sick.”
“Stay below!”
“But I can’t”
“Stay below!”
“But I just want to breathe.”

So he ran up the ladder and leaned on the hatch and collapsed in the rain-storming gale, where the deck reeled insanely, the splashing waves lashed, and the rigging hung wailing and lost. Then he flailed as he prayed, and the waves tossed him way overboard.

Holding tight to the cord, holding tighter than tight he was hauled from his watery grave to alight on the deck.

They knew in that moment, hold tight onto God and he’ll save from eternity’s wreck.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

November drabbles - 1

I read Nathaniel Philbrick's Mayflower a while ago - highly recommended. With that and other history books, I'm hoping I might stay fueled with ideas for a months worth of Thanksgiving drabbles - a hundred-word short story for each day in November.

They knew the world was ending from the fire up in the sky. They knew it, looking in the Book, when highest hopes bled dry and friends lay dying. Rabbles roused to fight throughout the streets that housed their dreams, their leader seeming lost to them in jail.

They knew the world was ending but they knew they had to try. And so they sailed the hopeful tide, but slow and should have known how man would fight and lie to them. Still, God defended, ever at their side.

Mayflower given, they sailed the mighty seas; world’s end and free.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

October drabbles - 31

They say the fabric stretches thin one night a year and think it’s those in graves that rise to haunt with curious rage. But I wait here, imagined fear on brightly painted page. I look into your eyes. Don’t close the book.

Time passes. Ticking clock. D’you hear? Just wait. Don’t close the book. The last bell tolls.

That’s when I rise from paper, freed by fabric stretched too thin. That’s when I draw you in and sketch your face to take my place. That’s when I’m free.

Next Halloween midnight I’ll hold the book tight-closed. Just wait and see.

Friday, October 30, 2009

October drabbles - 30

“There was a mouse at school today.”
“Really dear?”
“Yes Mom. The builders said it came out the wall when they mended the holes.”
“Oh, really dear.”
“There was a cat at school.”
“Really?”
“Yes. Katie’s mommy brought it to catch the mouse.”
“Oh, really dear.”
“And there was a dog.”
“Really? Oh dear.”
“It was chasing the cat I think.”
“Really?”
“And an elephant too.”
“Surely not.”
“It was pink. And an alien.”
“Really dear!”
“Really Mom and it ate it me,” the little boy said, jumping up from his dinner in glee. “Now it’s going to eat you.”

Thursday, October 29, 2009

October drabbles - 29

Sam thought a balloon with a sheet on top might bob around in the air and look like a ghost. Dad said it wouldn’t work of course, but Mom said they should try. And Dad was right.

Dad laughed when Mom went searching the yard. “Don’t encourage him,” he said. But she found a stick with twigs like arms; they taped the balloon to its end.

“I’m a ghost,” said Sam from under his sheet, balloon held high overhead.

“I’m scared,” said Dad, not looking at Sam. He was kissing Mom instead.

“Trick or treat?”

“In a minute sweet son.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October drabbles - 28

The waves’ sweet susurration sounded softly in his ears. His tears blended with sea-salt spray portending eventide. The man who watched the waters turned away, his thoughts for sorrow and the lost; his one last stone now cast, bobbing in waves. The woman waiting thought what cost he paid.

Tomorrow, All Saints’ Day, he’d celebrate, remembering. But here tonight, all Hallows Eve, it was the long-lost wife who came to him. In Halloween’s dark glory, whispering mysteries; not she, but she who swallowed her, the one who stole her soul.

Still, tasting sweet, incubus smiled and then she swallowed him.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October drabble - 27

They send a truck round to clear the leaves in the fall. It sounds like a vacuum cleaner. A long blue neck in front spews green and brown into the trailer behind.

Sam thought it was a monster when he heard it. “What’s that noise?”

“Don’t worry dear,” said Mom. “Just the leaf-truck again.”

“What’s that?” He saw the neck over the vines.

“Just chewing up leaves.”

Then, “Mom. What’s that?” His brother’s shoe, a blue shred from his jeans, and the brown turned red.

The monster looked down with glowing eyes and pointed bloodstained teeth. “You’re next,” it said.

Monday, October 26, 2009

October drabbles - 26

It seemed strange, feeling sorry for his brother. The older one, with the Midas touch; the one who always did everything right, rode high as the sky, while Ted had to run like the night just to stand still. But daylight scorched those golden wings and fate had dealt its blow.

Ted kneeled over the sleeping form, pale face, dark-shadowed brow. The cold crypt air whispered with dreams. Candle-light flickered and drips of tallow fell.

Suddenly Daniel’s eyes opened red. Fangs bled. Ted drove the stake, with sad intent, into his heart.

It seemed strange, feeling sorry for his brother.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

October drabbles - 25

She dawdles. Always she dawdles. You tell her to go straight to grandmother’s house and she’s wandering, playing her games. But there’s things in these woods a red riding-hood won’t keep away. So I’m watching and keeping her safe till she catches my shadow and runs right away. What’s a grandma to do?

The white moon lights her way of course, but look what it’s doing to mine. So I hide in my bed, with a nightcap down over my ears and I hope she won’t know.

“Oh Grandma, what big teeth you’ve got.”

If only the girl didn’t dawdle.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

October drabbles - 24

“I'm never going back to my old school.”

“Why not?” said Pete.

“Because…” Lynn sighed.

“’Cause what?”

She wrapped his arms in a fierce embrace and drenched his face with tears.

“Come on. It wasn’t such a bad old place,” said Pete, but Lynn disagreed.

Then Peter struggled from her grasp—“Please no!”—strode streets on silent feet, slid shadow-less into the night. The school’s closed doors that stopped Lynn’s following let him pass unhindered.

“In memory of Peter Ransom,” said the words on the photograph; should have stayed away.

Lynn watched through the window as her boyfriend vanished again.

Friday, October 23, 2009

October drabbles - 23

He gazes back at me. Brown eyes or black, I can’t be sure. He sits so safe, secure. “You want me gone,” his body says, that firm demeanor, still, but for the trembling in the breeze.

His bending knees, he stirs so subtly now. I shrink away. I think it’s me that he wants gone, me shrunk to size, despised, diminished, done. One foot flicks out on swinging calf, and I’m half-way across the room still looking back to ponder on his wrath.

And he? He’s gazing back at me, unmoved.

Brown-clad, thick-trunked, dark-eyed, dark-fanged; dark spider guards the door.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

October drabbles - 22

“ ‘Your world is as big as you make it.’* ”

Ginny slammed down her homework by the computer. “How the *** do I write about that?”

“Speak nicely Ginny,” said her mother.

“Yeah Mom. Sure.” Ginny flounced onto her chair.

“Sit nicely.”

“Sure.” She bit her apple, spitting out seeds.

“Eat nicely.”

Sure. Then Ginny started to type. Her mind found its groove, the essay growing swiftly under her hands, and fingers shrank.

“Ginny, where are you?”

“Here Mom,” she replied from inside the computer screen. “I’m in my own world now; it’s as big as I make it.”

(* quote from Georgia Douglas Johnson (1866-1966))

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October drabbles - 21

It was a game at first. She wrote “candy” and found chocolate in the cupboard, wrote apple pie, wrote honey. Soon she was using the magic paper for all her shopping lists, though when the cupboard door fell off she learned it was best to dream small. Still, who needs giant-sized cornflake packs when the mini-ones reappear at zero cost?

Baby food, toddler food, lunch box, TV dinners, after-game: It was all still her own secret system; her husband proclaimed her a wiz with the books. Then Tom got hooked on computer games, wrote fifteen orks, and they ate her.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October drabbles - 20

If her father hadn’t been ill, and the dog hadn’t barked, and her brother hadn’t screamed all through the night, she would’ve still been in bed. But since she was up, she made breakfast, and having eaten she set off for the bus.

“’Bye Mom.”

“’Bye Sweetie. Take care.”

Same as any other day.

The headlamps, white against the dawn’s trailing light, slithered lazily, sleepily over the tree-lined streets like a snake sizing its prey. They bobbed and swayed in hollows and ruts, hypnotizing with the engine’s stuttering roar.

Then teeth beneath them opened wide. An ordinary day no more.

Monday, October 19, 2009

October drabbles - 19

It was late. Sam wasn’t sure what made him wake. Perhaps the roar of heating, or chattering squirrels disturbing the night. Aurora stirred, her back pressed on his chest, no stress, soft breath caressing silence at his side.

The mattress creaked. Sam opened his eyes as two red spots of light blinked overhead. Turn three times round; thick legs, soft paws descending to claw their space.

He would’ve stroked the warmth of heavy fur but its touch was ice; would’ve woken his wife but she didn’t, couldn’t, know. For Halloween was the one night every year when Lassie came home.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October drabbles - 18

The sun was glowing orange as it fled into darkness. The distant horizon crawled closer with night, while owls called their ghostly cries, and creatures rustled in the trees. The children huddled close, voices frozen to stone, and their thin arms shivered, chilled by fear or the cold.

“And then?” whispered one, as silver moonlight bathed her face in white, and starlight dripped like tears. “What comes next?”

The storyteller turned. “And then,” she said, “the ghosts appear, floating high over the table, one for each of you.”

And it’s true. Vanilla pudding does look ghostly when served by moonlight.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

October drabbles - 17

He felt the usual sense of dread, as if the air were imbued with the victim’s memory, the dead seeking hope. Sergeant Daniels, in front, was suddenly still, lacking the will to walk through the open door. And Peter felt the air’s thick treacle boring into his mind. Copper filled his nose and choked his throat.

Murder, he wrote.

His limbs slowed down. Breath formed an empty cloud before his eyes. And motionless, a delicate jewel of red, clear rubied pearl, floated ahead, blood frozen in time.

Too late for Daniels now, caught by the dead: Pete turned and fled.

Friday, October 16, 2009

October drabbles - 16

It rained today, just a bit of a mist at the start, a bit damp and gray.

We had to use the wipers when drips turned to showers; fat wet blobs rolling down the glass and rain drumming loud.

Then came the insects rattling the roof; grass-hoppers clouds and bees and moths. Frogs slid down the windscreen in green muddy streaks, closely followed by bats.

Why would bats fall out the sky? Why not just fly, we wondered, but worked it out when their teeth chewed through the glass.

Afterwards we flew with them to pastures green—well, red perhaps.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October drabbles - 15

It’s time. As more bodies were found Tuesday alongside major highways, none of them with cell-phones, police departments nationwide are advising citizens to keep their phone-plans paid up and their cell-phones readily available at all times.

This reporter followed up on the curious case of a dead dog with an empty phone-clip on its collar. “Just goes to show the cell didn’t help,” said the owner who, after appearing to answer a call on his own cell-phone, immediately died. On investigation, no phone was found at the scene, but this reporter’s convinced....

It’s time – to leave your cell-phone at home.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October drabbles - 14

Sir Geoffrey rode with sword aloft, sweet Emily’s ribbons and lace adorning the hilt. A happy smile decorated his swashbuckler face, and the only sign of harm was the deep red cloth that trailed from his arm.

Red like blood, thought the fox in the trees, though Geoffrey was known for blue.

Red like the fox’s plume.

Sir Geoffrey shouted a proud “Halloo,” but the fox’s chase caused the valiant steed to fall. The sword plunged deep into Geoffrey’s heart. Then Lady Emily Vulpine’s severed hand released the hilt. Frail fingers fell, beribboned, to their cushion of lace and leaves.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October drabbles - 13

The last high-pitched laughs, footsteps, dropped candies, last echoes of “Don’t be so greedy,” faded into night. Jen closed the door, half-smiling, half-waving still in the gathering gloom, but her own babe was too small for the Halloween haul.

“Was that fun Jimmy?” she asked.

He nodded solemnly, hands grasping for her face.

“Did you like all the witches and wizards and wild animals?”

He nodded again.

“So, time for dinner?”

They retreated to the comfortable dining-room with its coffin and bats.

“Time to wake up Grandma d’you think?” Because Grandma would gather the food tonight; mustn’t frighten the child.

Monday, October 12, 2009

October drabbles - 12

The sun is warm, but the air’s cool on his brow. He bends his back to the rake. Brown plate-like leaves dance in the breeze before he stacks them high.

The sun is warm, his body slick with sweat, harder work than expected. But the deck is clear, chairs neatly placed and Mother patiently waits. “Shall I pour tea?”

His mother doesn’t drink too well. He tips the liquid in through skinless lips. It drips through teeth. And wind blows the leaves.

Then he weeps. His mother’s just a heap of scattered bones. “Put me back,” she cries. He tries.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

October drabbles - 11

The leaves are brown and falling, fall’s bright colors yet to come. And footsteps leave dark hollows on the ground. D’you see? D’you hear? Look round behind but all you find is fear. I’m following.

The leaves are lying flat like broken dishes, smashed and spurned; and your unspoken wishes lie. Do you remember why? I’ll follow you.

The leaves await the rain and, sodden, sink beneath the pain. I wait till fall’s bright colors form the ribbon flowing down, scarlet on brown. I hide and seek and follow you.

Beware the seeping hollow in the ground. I followed there.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

October drabbles - 10

The end house always has the spookiest ghosts. Dad says they make the smoke out of ice, the jack-o-lanterns are pretend, and the skeletons are just people dressing up. I ask him why they wear bones on the outside of their skins then he complains, “Too much imagination.”

Dad always used to tell me ghosts aren’t real, but he died when the end house burned down while he worked on its lights. I don’t listen now; just go there trick-or-treating on Halloween nights.

“Too much imagination,” Dad says, with his skin squished tight under bones, but he’s still my Dad.

Friday, October 9, 2009

October drabbles - 9

His cape, a torn white sheet, ballooned behind as he pedaled his bike. The pillow-case filled with treats spilled from his basket. And he sang to the silence of the deserted street.

Empty houses greeted him. No lights. No children’s laughter or pumpkins or smiles. He didn’t seem to mind.

Then with the sound of a creaking door, an old woman appeared, frail, with pale sunken cheeks, white hair, and wailing her pain. She pointed a long bony finger and shrieked at the boy.

Then silence reigned, the pillow-case bulging wider on the basket’s wire rim, the boy still singing.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

October drabbles - 8

Her morning voice was like the whispers heard on a summer’s night, clear as rinsed crystal. Champagne bubbled to the rim of her laughter and honey dripped its scent from the waking hive. Her touch was silk.

But winter was dark and muddied as ditch-water. The trees beckoned with witch-like arms, threatening doom. In dreams he rushed to the midnight pool where a crystal moon cast stars that passed like comets of sparkling wine. Then he tasted again her honeyed lips, and the breeze spun hair to milk and whispers to glass.

She was his vampire, lover of his dreams.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

October drabbles - 7

Dark Love

I loved her but love makes you blind. I didn’t ask. She didn’t tell. Her strangely fearsome hell.

Today, I’d question everything and risk whatever loss, except I’ve nothing left to lose.

What I called love, she simply called possession. Bat-transformed, she flew into the night, left me behind. She didn’t realize I was still alive, and nor did I. But now I’ve changed and followed, bourn a stake into her heart because of love, and this its cost. I’ve let her go.

D’you hear the sirens mourn? Fear me and tell me what you choose. I love you so.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

October Drabbles - 6

Twelve

“How old are you?” he asked.

“Twelve.” He tried to draw back but she drew him on, tiny fingers pressing bruises into his arm.

The room was dark with heavily brocaded curtains hiding the sun. Silken sheets adorned the bed, and diamonds glittered in the dust that obscured the mirror.

“You’re never twelve,” he said, turning to face her because he couldn’t find her reflection. “How could you be?”

And her fingers began to unfasten his shirt, deft and cool on his skin, her breath like ice against his throat. “I’ve been twelve for such a very, very long time.”

October Drabbles - 5

The Man at the Bar

He went there to disappear. His back to the door, he was just another nobody sitting at a bar. The beer held no reflection. The splintered images from spotlights and mirrors had no consistency. And the sounds of voices and music and laughter drowned the cries of memory.

She went there for love; red wine in her glass, and a stillness that settled like a veil as she sat down.

“Truth is…” he said, hesitant.

“Truth is.” She held the wine-glass close; still surface, no ripples, no reflections. “Truth is, we’re alike.” They sank their teeth into a loving embrace.

October Drabbles - 4

Bookseller

“There are people in these pages,” the shopkeeper said.

“People?” asked the little girl

“Yes,” said the old man. “They live their lives and nobody knows or cares unless you read them.”

“Then what?”

“Then they become your friends.”

The friendless girl thought that sounded a good idea, so she became a bookstore regular, a dreamer curled in the window’s frame, browsing the lives of others while her own faded away.

“There are people in these pages,” said the old man to his new customer. And he held up a book with a picture of the girl on its cover.

October Drabbles - 3

Bobby sat hunched on the floor and complained, “I’m hungry.” But Jimmy ignored him and splashed on the rain-sodden carpet to dark kitchen door. Pale moonlight shone through the cob-webbed window. An orange skillet glowed its dusty reflection. Sizzles of bacon made salty, mouth-watering smells.

“Hey Bobby. Ghost food!”

At the foot of the stove, a pair of boots shuffled and danced to a silent tune then fell over their laces.

“Watch out!” shrieked the cat.

Jimmy turned.

Then Bobby ran past, axe in hand, to smash skillet and ghost. “Reeses Pieces,” he said. “Human food.”
“Yummy-yum,” said the cat.

October Drabbles - 2

“You didn’t knock on any strangers’ doors?”

“No Mom.”

“You didn’t wander off on your own?”

“No Mom. I didn’t.”

Jesse’s mother looked at the strange collection of items in his sack; eyeballs with strings of sinewy red clinging to their spherical smoothness; fingers dripping sticky goo; a severed ear; a spider, still alive.

“And everyone else got the same stuff as you?” she asked.

“Yes Mom,” said Jesse, but didn’t tell her who constituted “everyone else.”

There are no strangers’ doors when your companions are ghosts. And Jesse’s mother remembered, as she sat down, that her son was dead.

October Drabbles - 1

“Open your eyes,” they said, because he was asleep and they wanted him to wake up.

“Open your eyes,” they said, because he had screwed them up tight so he wouldn’t see.

“Open your eyes,” they said, and they tugged at the hands he was holding in front of his face.

“Open your eyes.”

He opened his eyes; then they went away.

Tommy’s mother opened the bedroom door. She picked her screaming son off the floor, and hugged him and comforted him. Then she swore she would never again let him eat so much Halloween candy before going to bed.