This is you. 3 AM. The city is blinking away tears of red and blue, its bright lights blurring everything else--streets, buildings, people. People's faces blur until they're not human anymore. You are not sure if you are human anymore.
(more) It's 3 AM, and you are wide awake, your eyes itching from being open for so long.
You were given a puzzle, and the pieces are supposed to be the right shape, but they can't be. They are always bigger or smaller but never as they should be.
The music playing in the background is cheap and worn out, and it helps lull any romantic notion you may harbor. Somebody is asking you a question...He's asking you something important, but you can't hear what. It is funny, you think, that we only ask the vital question when drunk on exhaustion.
Transience, you savor the ward. Here, everything stands still. You are out of your comfort zone, staring and dried up, but time does not exist here. Not really.(less)
Corbin is judged discreetly, behind doors and curtains and walls. He has one window, which looks out into the garden in which he grew up. The tree he fell from when he was five is right in view, five meters away; even farther is the wall that encircles his(more) family's manor house. He can just barely see it touching the horizon, its solid black and blue stone shimmering in the summer heat. The wrought-iron spikes atop the wall make Corbin think of a bird cage and one of the old, now-controlled, now-censored books that Mademoiselle Islington had given him, called I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. The book reminded him of his life.
Corbin is caged, but the Blackbird is free. They're long-lost kin, passeriformes without homes. The Blackbird is free from judgement, too fast, too slick to be caught in its black bars. Another book Corbin wasn't supposed to read was about Robin Hood, who was like the Blackbird in a long-ago past.
The song of the free bird is sweeter than the song of the caged, Corbin found the night he met his sweet secret soulmate.
Corbin feels like he can remember freedom as a long-ago taste that reveals itself in undisclosed dreams where his body rubs against the Blackbird's.
Freedom tastes like the Blackbird's tongue and his tears, his sweat and his semen, his passion and his promise.(less)
I've clearly committed some sort of faux pas if the glare you're giving me is any hint.
I shrug it off and smile at you, and toss a small wave in for good measure, but to no avail -- you're still glaring determinedly at me.
I w(more)as walking briskly towards you, but I slow down considerably, wondering if it is safe to approach. You've never been a morning person, and today you look ready to tear my head off for anything more engaging than breathing in the same room.
I mutter a soft "Good morning, Sunshine," as I walk past you to my desk -- something about you always compels me to push my luck -- and I hear you snort behind me.
None-the-less, I hear you snap out a brisk greeting in response -- delayed as it was -- and figure whatever it is that I've done isn't too terribly serious if you're still talking to me.
I smile to myself, knowing you'll be just fine after a coffee or two.(less)
We lay wounded and facing the sea. Above us, marble columns were falling. I told her I loved her, and her eyes looked at me roundly, like candies. Two of them, and pretty.
In the moment before the smashing of our skulls, I tried to embody her gaze(more), to get a feeling of what she felt and thought of me.
She first saw me on a ship. I must have looked a skeleton in comparison to the bronzed and battle-tested men around me. But when I felt her gaze snap onto mine that first day, it was as though I had found a snowball in the Sahara. Startling.
Her first words to me: Where's your sword?
I didn't have one, of course. Being an indentured servant following a shameful and disgraceful love affair, I arrived at the island destitute. But just seeing her -- the marvel of her movement (all wind in the willows) -- was an elixir: one more potent and addicting than one I'd ever known.
After years of work and silence, I learned her name. And the next time I spoke to her, she learned mine, as it was written on the sheath of my sword.
One night, she grabbed my arm in the palace courtyard. We drank wine. Our footsteps in the halls mixed with the music of fountains. Arabesques in moonlight. The next morning, we ate oranges.
She never kissed me. She'd just tell me about the men she'd loved, and I tell her of the women I'd loved. Never have I believed in God, but to her I wanted to speak in tongues, in language able to cleanse my awful affection.
Looking into her eyes before death, I see myself in love with her. Enraged, I want to throw my sword in the sea.(less)
Henry looked awful. He was filthy and one side of his face and both hands were covered with angry boils. Jake approached with caution. Henry motioned him next to the diesel unit that was powering the Whirly ride. Probably, Jake reasoned, to keep their conversation private. Henry looked crazed(more) with anxiety. Spittle flew out the side of his mouth and clung to his unshaven cheek as he hollered, "I got evidence, Jake!"
"Evidence of what, Henry?" Jake hollered back.
Henry gestured to Jake to lean in a little, "Of the experiments they're doing on the base!" Then he shoved some papers at Jake. "Here!"
Jake held up his hands and took a step back.
"Hold this for me, Jake! Please. I'm afraid. I'm afraid ..." his voice trailed off.
Jake considered the situation. Henry had always been a good friend. And, he was obviously scared out of his mind. But, what if Henry was crazy? He didn't look crazy; just scared. Jake stood in judgement a moment longer, then reluctantly took the papers and shoved them in his backpack. Henry managed a small smile of thanks and backed away, hoping to disappear once again into the night. "Take care," Jake hollered after him.
Returning to the fairway and all of its noise and lights made it easy for Jake to pretend he was just an average twelve-year-old boy enjoying a day at the fair. Deciding to take the ruse farther, he bought an ice cream cone and sheltered under the cart's awning while a summer squall passed over, a few chilly drops moistening his face. He turned in the direction of the beer garden to find his mom, but Before he could move, a strong, very large, and very hairy hand grabbed his left upper arm. He startled. Caught.(less)
Gramma sat in judgement in her favorite chair. We said our thanks to God by turns down the length of the dining room table. When the last one had finished, Gramma said 'May not the devil take my boys' and, as if to signal us, she took her napkin from the(more) table and snapped it open like she was making a bed, then folded an end over the collar of her blouse. We all did the same with our own napkins. It was Friday, and that meant potatoes and cabbage. We ate it with gusto so Gramma would'nt think we were ungrateful. Jeffy hated cabbage and wasn't afraid to admit it by passing the cabbage bowl for the potatoes and piling a double portion on his plate. Cabbages gave Jeffy too much gas, and we all welcomed his abstention. (less)
Martin stood carefully, focusing on proper demeanor. His father was next to him, paunch puffed up under his waistcoat in importance, looking proudly on the sickening scene before them. Occasionally, his head would bob nervously as he glanced at the Lord and smiled in an ingratiating manner.
The(more) depravity before them was obscene. The first time he'd attended, Martin had vomited noisily in the middle of the silent crowd, unable to restrain himself. But now, maybe from overexposure, maybe simply from the freezing temperatures, Martin just felt numb as he stared forward.
He stared into the rictus scream twisting the face of the young woman before him, like some sort of silent pantomime as the knives slipped silently in and out of her and she contorted. Martin started to wonder if any crime was deserving of this, but stopped himself. The Lord stood not three stridelengths from him, and he couldn't risk that any sign of sympathy cross his face.
Instead, he allowed his eyes to drift up to the misty shadow floating serenely above the silent gore. Common legend said that they were agents of the underworld, sent to eat the souls of sinners, but no one really knew.
For a moment, Martin let himself hope that instead of being yet another force of evil, the shadows were something more. Maybe, he thought wistfully, they appeared at these executions not to devour tainted souls, but to observe. His heart thumped quickly once before he quelled it, but still he hoped.
Just maybe, these shadows were drawn to scenes of blood and death to watch the executioners. His eyes nearly tearing with longing, Martin stared and wished that the shadows stood in judgment.
As the girl's contortions finally faded, so did the hovering mist - and so did Martin's dreams.(less)
When the crystal ball had predicted Jake's death, Al felt relief. He wouldn't die soon, and, more importantly, Marceline wouldn't either.
"We should get rid of it," said Paul. "It might be killing us."
"No," said Al, "It just predicts them. It's better to know."
"Just(more) in case, I'm going to destroy it," said Paul. He began walking to the center of the living room, kicking stray shirts and empty frozen dinner containers out of the way.
Al shook himself off the plaid couch to stop him. He didn't need to; Al froze when he reached the ball.
The tiny crystals, suspended in a floating liquid sphere, reflected the green of the nearby lava lamp. Every so often, they would arrange themselves into shaky letters forming a prediction of death for somebody Al, Paul, Jake, or Marceline knew.
When Al reached Paul's spot, he saw the crystals arranging themselves. A whining sound, like that of a tea kettle, came from the ball's water. The first four crystals created the letter "M."
"No!" shouted Al, diving for the ball.
"Stop," said Paul. "You wanna mess it up and kill us all?There's no way to change it."
"There might be one." Al jammed his hands into the ball, finding the water lukewarm. The crystals easily moved where he wanted them to. At first, he tried simply separating them, but they always returned to become letters.
Finally, he grabbed four crystals and put them at angles to each other until they made a P.
"Paul! No!" shouted Al.
Paul continued serenely until he placed the final letter and found himself unable to extract his hands.
Al tripped over a can of soda and landed on Paul, pushing his face into the ball.(less)
The disdain. The holier-than-thou attitude. It was a scoff and squeaking of shoes in the opposite direction. It was the faint, "We'll loop around" from the wife or girlfriend.
Her eyes followed the downward motion of her curling toes at(more) the soggy cardboard-esque flip-flops separating her soles from the slippery supermarket floor while her hair uncurled from the rainwater weighing it down. It wasn't that she'd expected to be treated as a princess upon walking in, but she didn't expect to avoided either.
Just because she'd left the house in a hurry - not even stopping to put her always present watch on her pale tan-lined wrist - didn't mean she didn't usually take pride in her appearance. The flip-flops were easy to shove on and the wetness creeping up the legs of her jeans didn't bother her enough to roll them up before splashing through the puddles in the parking lot.
But maybe it wasn't just her attire that made the couple shy away from her and make a beeline for the opposite direction in the frozen aisle. It could have been the listless look in her eyes as she stared at the selection of on sale ice creams. Or even still the red tinge to them and wetness she was pretending was from the rain. It could have been the off putting sound of her shallow breathing as she caught her breath from the sobs that had previously wracked her body.
Whatever it was, she should have been smart enough to know people have patterns to their actions. Introverts stay in the house or at least keep to themselves. Fathers break promises not to lay hands on Mothers.
And people judge books - and people - by covers.(less)
To the run of the mill bake sale sellers who make pastries cakes and cookies the checkered cotton table cloth that shifts from side to side, reflects in their eyes with dollar sized looks and the quarter hands ticking, tapping their fingernails
caching! goes the register and those with arms in holsters stand by with fogged and processed snacks, mouths caked with grease and spittle the yawning stretch marks pulling their bellies down, flushing red rosy grins (less)
I spent the evening lost in judgement, amidst the gossamer snow. Tiny ornaments strung on the caress of the wind, nervous and pale, they danced a dismal song, humming softly with blushing cheeks and daring not to touch. I'd reach and beckon into the empty air.
Perhaps, one woul(more)d sing for me, despite my scarlet wrists and the sadness that fell from my eyes.(less)
The path to judgment lies on a dust trodden path flanked by sycamores which, after many miles, gives way to clearing of stamped tundra. The pilgrimage is identical for each traveler; the destination is unique for each traveler.
(more) The first time I make the journey through the dark trees was the autumn of 1923, after my first son was born. My was wife recuperating in ragged hospital gurney. I looked down at my newborn son and at his familiar lips and brow-line and felt a tingling at the back of my skull. I might have dropped my son--I can't be sure. Either way, I found myself standing shoeless at a path-head that sprawled and narrowed in the vast distance. It was sunny yet chilly, and I pulled that wool shawl which I now wore over my shoulders and began to walk.
Throughout the journey, I never looked back. Indeed, the thought occurred to me, but something I knew prevented any notion of examination. I beat onward, and as the path narrowed sycamore branches reached out and scraped my skin and rustled my hair until I found the thicket before impenetrable. I pulled from my waistline a machete and hacked through and fought foot by foot. I could see the clearing now--the rock tundra and the figure thereupon pacing listlessly, waiting for my arrival.
As I broke through the last wall of branches and emerged in the clearing, bloody and tattered, the figure looked up and spoke.
"The forgiveness of sins is perpetual and repentance is not first required."
"Who are you?"
"I am you. I am your son. I am your wife's ailing body. I am the dull and formless sentiment in the dells of your mind, the one that unknowingly knows the futility of existence. Your life begets judgment."(less)