Our minds have become
Modern and spacious
Empty and waiting to be filled
To be decorated with thoughts
Like strings of lights
Dancing across the room
(more) But as the designer
What will you choose
To fill up the room?
Will it become an inviting space
Full of candles and flowers
Or a dark crowded room
Where the flowers go to wilt?(less)
The fish with damask scales hung from the ceiling by a cord. The corpse was stiff but still damp. In the night, someone had broken into the modern and spacious Ogilvy mansion and, ignoring the Rembrandt prints on the wall and other treasures, had gone straight to the aquarium room. The intr(more)uder removed the not small fish from its tank, threw one end of the cord over the chandelier then, after twisting the other end around the fish's tail, hoisted it into the air, where it was left to flail, choke, and die. It was an odd thing to do, murdering then posing a fish in this way, but would have been inconsequential had it not been for the fact that this particular fish, named Tora, was a twenty-pound Japenese Koi insured for $100,00.
The police had come, taken the report from the housekeeper, and then left. As the insurance investigator, I had to do better than that.
Whoever had done it had left no fingerprints, and had entered through an unlocked window. The alarm system, inexplicably, had been off. I found the housekeeper on the ground floor, dusting a table on which sat a fish made of cut emeralds. I introduced myself, invited her to sit down, and commenced my interview.
Within a few minutes, it became obvious to me that she knew more than she was letting on. I doubted she was the perpetrator, but I was sure she knew who was, and had left the house unlocked purposely. I confronted her, and watched as her face turned red and tears started to flow. Threatening her, I forced a confession. Her boyfriend had done it. Mr. Ogilvy loved that fish, but he loved her, too, and the boyfriend wasn't having it. The fish would have to hang.
I can barely speak, my mouth is so dry, and the air pushing out of my lungs feels like fire on my throat. The young man leaning over me looks confused and horrified.
Water, I mouth at him, but he doesn't understand. My sunburnt face and animalistic eyes(more) don't register any sympathy.
I dig my fingers into the dirt and pull myself toward him, dragging my naked, bruised body across the pebbles and stones of this dirt road. He was on a jog. One earbud falls to his shoulder but he doesn't notice.
"Water," I cry again, this time able to put sound to the word, but the voice I hear come out of my own throat sounds alien to me. What have they done to me? What have they turned me into? Three days ago I was an upbeat, trendy businesswoman who broke down on the way to work, and today I'm a creature spit out by the barren, pitiless desert where I was left to rot once they were done with me. Only I refused to die.
The young man finally understands what I want and he pulls out his metal bottle, casually strapped to his hip like it's nothing. I can't even hold the thing on my own so he has to ease the water into my mouth like a child. I barely hear him as small sips of cold, refreshing water tumble down my throat.
"It's okay," he says. "I'll get you some help. It's going to be okay."
I pick him up and hold him in front of the fridge. A ragged winter moth has fumbled its way inside and plastered itself against the brushed aluminum. His nose twitches, short wifts of air jetting from the folds of his nostrils.
(more) He sticks his nose too close. The moth flies away. He flinches, looks distracted for a moment, then goes back to staring at the refrigerator door. A mind used to observing things as they flit in and out of existence without ever getting a firm grasp on them.
I put him down. His claws clack across the cold tile. He dips his face part-way down into a plastic dish and laps up a few mouthfuls of dingy water. His heads lifts. Rivulets run down the locks of hair that frame his snout and pool at the tips, before dropping to the floor in an unceremonious, ragged delta before his feet.
He makes his way to the open front door and peers out at nothing in particular. Perhaps just to see if the world is still there, waiting, just the other side of the nose-smeared pane of glass.(less)
genesis leaned against the bar, slowly sipping on a glass of wine, and, once again, flipping through the worn pages of his copy of LOVELESS. when the glass wasn't against his lips, he found himself softly reading along. he closed the book once he reached the fifth act, reciting(more) the rest from memory. he tilted his glass and finished his wine, deciding it was time to retire fo the night. just as he was about to exit the room, there was a soft knock at the door.
who would be at the door this late? most likely zack, coming by to retrieve something he'd forgotten earlier in the week.
with a sigh, genesis strided over to the door and swung it open.
outside on the porch stood cloud, his clothes drenched in mud. he wore a tired smile on his face as he shed off his boots, knowing full well genesis would never let him in the house with the condition they were in.
"cloud..." genesis murmured, far too tempted to step forward and pull the man into a hug.
"i know i told you i wouldn't be back for another week, but we managed to wrap our recon up early," cloud explained, pushing his way passed genesis. genesis shut the door, trailing cloud into the bathroom.
"i missed you, darling," genesis' voice was soft, a voice meant only for cloud. "but you do look a little trashy."
"thanks," cloud spoke dryly.
he gave genesis a knowing grin before pulling him into a bear hug, bursting into laughter at genesis' protests and threats.
it was good to be home.(less)
It's about time to drive yourself crazy. Book a flight to Spain to have human trafficking haunt you. Take a job at a bookstore to put more knots in your back. Pick up English courses to put more notches in your(more) bank account and knowledge on a dusty shelf. A better credit score, at least. But still, hiding from your insides, piling on new titles and identities until the old is lost. And always wondering who you are now and who you were then.(less)
nights spent under the nibelheim sky, watching the stars twinkle and promise admirers a breathtaking display. wind that blew softly, almost caressing their faces as it passed. wolves howled in the distance, not close enough to pose any threat, but close enough that both spectators of the stars inched(more) just a little closer to their swords, not unclasping their entangled hands.
"i wish you could stay here with me forever," cloud whispered, tilting his head to look at zack, who let out a soft chuckle.
"forever is a long time, you sure you wouldn't just get tired of me?" he teased, gazing at cloud with a small smile.
cloud smiled back, shaking his head. "i don't think i'll ever get tired of you."(less)
"hey baby, tuck's fight is on in a couple minutes."
cal remembers the easy way his brother used to be: long before boxing matches, before coming home spitting up blood and pushing bones back into place, before he'd crawl into bed an ancient man, bruised and bloodwarm, befor(more)e he'd call in long, desperate favors that made missy cry when she shouldn't have, scared their mother witless, used cal as a punching bag-- before he'd lift his shirt, split lip dripping down the side of his face, and say, "ma ain't proud of the bruises, but that's what gets you in that ring.'
now he's here. now he's a little blip on a tv screen. they even have to buy the extra packages on dish just to watch him fight.
"who's he fighting?" cal asks. their little tv set barely grasps the grainy images of his brother-- high definition squared down to a static box --and he sees tuck shaking the nerves out of himself from his corner of the ring.
"don't know." missy rolls over onto her stomach on the carpet. "he'll get the shit beat out of him, for sure."
"don't say that. he hates when we jinx him."
"tuck can kiss my ass."
"if he ever comes home long enough to do it." the ref's an old man, paunchy belly and gray hair, and he looks starkly garish in comparison to the girls with the round cards. tuck's opponent is a lean latino kid that keeps shaking his head, letting his coach clout him around the ears. tuck sits alone in his corner. watches the kid's feet dancing around from underneath a towel.
"tuck ain't scared of anybody." cal says. "don't worry about him."
tuck throws the towel away, spits at his feet. cal sees blood in him.(less)
I decided to have it removed, electively. That meant insurance wouldn't cover it. But considering the long-term gain I hoped it would bring to me and my ultimate sense of well being, I thought the high price negligible.
(more) The procedure, while not exactly routine, had been performed "hundreds of times in Europe to great success", and reasoned that if the best surgeons in Switzerland had given their tacit endorsement, who was I to disagree? I wasn't red-eyeing it to some skeevy clinic in Puerta Vallarta. AirFrance to Bern, plus procedure, plus ten days recovery in the shadow of the Alps, plus return. $80,000. I had saved and would pay cash in full upon discharge, in and out, sleek and Euro-style.
The benefit would be total. I would awake in the recovery room, as the saying old as medicine goes, a new man. In researching the operation, the clinic had provided me with the e-mail of a "happy" client and we exchanged messages. The guy lived in Denver and was an account manager for a big investment firm. Rhymes with Oldman-Stacks.
"The second-best thing I ever did." His e-mail went, "Next to leaving my wife, of course." Before or after, I wondered. He went on to mention that he attributed all of his latest professional and financial successes to having the procedure done. I found him persuasive.
"Where do you keep it?" I wrote.
"I let them keep it. I guess it got incinerated with all the other bio-waste that day."
In an antique shop I had found a Victorian-era decanter to display mine in. There it would sit, a conversation piece on top of the liquor cabinet.
"Guys?" I'd say to guests, "Want to see my soul? I had it removed."
the darkness wrapped around him like a blanket, warm and comforting. it was becoming harder and harder to keep his eyes open. he wanted so much to lean into the darkness, let it envelop him, take away all of his worries. how easy it would be just to give(more) in, to let it take control. but...
sora. he had to fight for sora. the knucklehead wouldn't get far at all without him. he was quick on his feet and could hold himself in battle, but he wasn't terribly bright.
though, what would sora think of him now? maybe kairi would be better suited to help him keep his head out of the clouds. after all, riku had tried to kill him. no, sora wouldn't want him around after all that.
without a word, he hugged his arms around himself and let the darkness fall over him.
Surrounded by generations of kindness and the warm sounds of her loved ones welcoming the impending joyful holiday season, she could only discern the sound of her own shadow whispering to let this be the last night she heard anything ever again.