Tuesday, August 25, 2009

His skin began to blister from her touch

Good things come in small packages. He had heard the cliché before, but he wasn’t buying it. He stared through the haze of blood that filled his eyes into the soft, round face of the child who stood before him, and he knew for a fact that there was nothing good in this particular small package.

She was no taller than four feet; her cotton dress was trimmed with eyelet lace at the hem and sleeves and tied high with a large bow. Once white, the red of his blood now sprayed across the front like a scream. She wore white patented leather Mary Janes and was clutching a tattered Teddy Bear in one hand.

He was tied to a chair, his arms pulled painfully behind him and tied to the back legs, while his ankles were bound to the front legs. He could barely remember everything she’d done to him: burns, cuts, beatings; acid, knives, fists.

After three days at the mercy of the child who was out to destroy him, he could almost feel his sanity slipping away; the shell in which the demon was hiding conflicted with how he understood children behaved. Five year old girls didn’t drip acid onto your toenails; they didn’t ram metal rods through your wrists and then hook them up to a car battery… they just didn’t, did they?

He had no idea why he was there. Four days ago he’d been an accountant, calculating payroll for a deli chain called Mr. Squid Pickle, and barely making ends meet. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened on his journey home, until the bus came to a screeching halt and the metal side peeled away like burnt skin.

The child had been standing there in an apple red dress and pigtails, holding the Teddy Bear in one arm and smiling the most disturbing smile he’d ever seen. She walked very calmly toward him and took him by the hand, dragging him from the bus seat, and his skin began to blister from her touch. No matter how hard he fought or resisted, she was stronger.

One whole day had passed before she even spoke to him, at first simply tying him to the chair and wordlessly inflicting small torments: deep pinpricks and steam burns, and the more he struggled the bigger her smile became.

When she finally spoke, her voice was small and playful, punctuated by frequent giggles whenever he screamed. He slipped in and out of consciousness more and more frequently as time went by, and the sudden appearance of a tall slender woman wielding a sword was enough to bring him around.

Without a word she cut his ropes while watching for the child with keen green eyes. He crumpled to the floor the moment the ropes fell away, lacking the strength to even remain in the chair, and when the child’s laughter echoed through the room the woman spun to find its source.

The little girl walked toward her fallen captive and his would-be-rescuer, idly petting the Teddy Bear’s head as she peered at them through a thick fringe of lashes. “Did you really think I wouldn’t know you were here, Grace?” she asked, “I could smell your stench the moment you crossed the threshold.”

“Nice that you let me get this far, Sadira.”

“I wanted you to feel like you were doing well.” Sadira replied with a smile, flashing her tiny white teeth. “He doesn’t even know why he’s here,” she added, gesturing at the crumpled man at Grace’s feet. “He has no idea that the fate of mankind rests with him, and frankly I was surprised I found him first.”

Grace narrowed her eyes at the child, knowing she could not win a hand to hand fight with the demon housed in that tiny shell, so she opted for surprise and hurled the knife she’d had up her sleeve. To her own surprise the blade hit its mark, sinking hilt deep in the soft tissue and Sadira’s eyes went wide as she began to silently cry.

The man watched from where he lay on the floor and the child’s tears made him smile weakly. He watched as Grace strode to the child and without hesitation removed her head with one powerful sword stroke, and the black mist that pulsed from the open wound didn’t faze him, nothing could faze him anymore.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The ocean smelled of salt and death

It’s as if she knew all along; knew that the ocean would be her demise, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. She learned to walk on Florida beaches, learned to swim in Hawaiian lagoons and even had her first kiss while sitting on a surfboard off the coast of Australia; the ocean didn’t frighten her at all.

She was fortunate enough to have been born into a wealthy family so it was easy for her to travel so as to commune with the world’s seas and oceans. In her travels she’d experienced her fair share of ocean related incidents: coral cuts, jellyfish stings and run ins with barracuda, but nothing could keep her out of the water.

Sharks, however; sharks spoke to her spirit and she tried to spend as much time with them as she could. For her there was nothing more magical than sharing one small sliver of time swimming with these powerful creatures. Petting the rough skin of a blue shark as it moved past her, feeding a bull shark by hand and even going for a ride on the dorsal fin of a whale shark; such moments had been hers, and she wouldn’t trade them for a single drop of the blood that was now seeping out of her.

The open ocean was like a liquid desert, vast and largely lifeless, and she had sailed into the heart of it on her way to Cape Town South Africa. She had seen the jumping sharks there before, and cried at the beauty of it, amazed and speechless that something so large could be so stunning.

She had stopped for a swim, diving into the blue depths over and over and even played with a pod of dolphins that had happened by. Close to sunset it had been the arrival of the Great White that had surprised her; in such an endless realm it was amazing that their paths had crossed.

She had done everything she was supposed to do: she began moving back toward her boat, not panicking, not splashing, just swimming steadily. When he made his first pass she could feel his coarse skin against her leg, and she was torn between wanting to wait for the chance to feel it again and continuing toward the boat. She wasn’t stupid, she kept moving toward the silhouette of her boat.

She knew that sharks investigated things by putting them in their mouths, much like infants, but infants weren’t armed with rows and rows of razor sharp teeth. It was just bad luck that his first exploratory bite severed her femoral artery.

She floated on her back, arms stretched wide as she stared up at the blanket of stars passing slowly overhead. At that moment the ocean smelled of salt and death, her death, and she waited for the sleek predator to return to claim her; now she would never have to be away from the ocean she loved.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Just one word






















His look stopped me in my tracks (part 2)

From where I sat by the windows I could see him sitting in his car. There was no burst of steam from the tailpipe so I knew he hadn’t even started the motor. The wipers and headlights remained off as well, though through the windshield I could see him gripping the wheel tightly.

I couldn’t even begin to guess what was running through his mind at that moment, and I again reached out and laid my hand on the glass. I wanted to ease his confusion and I wanted to calm his uncertainty.

I watched as he got out of the car and started back toward my building, and my breath caught in my throat. The thin walls of my building allowed me to hear his steady steps as he ascended the metal stairs to my floor and I rose to my feet just as the door opened.

Stepping into the foyer his eyes met mine and he froze in place, his hand on the doorknob with rainwater dripping off the hem of his leather coat onto the pale gray linoleum. I took a step toward him but his look stopped me in my tracks.

“This isn’t fair, you know that right?” he asked as he closed the door.

“What isn’t fair?” I asked, confused by his question.

“The danger you’ve put our friendship in,” he clarified taking one step toward me. “Don’t you see the peril?”

I folded my arms and cocked my hips to one side, arching one eyebrow at him, “No I don’t. If you’re not interested in going out with me then nothing need change between us.”

“It’s all changed!” he said, his voice sounding a little panicked, “Just knowing how you see me has changed the very foundation of our friendship, how can it ever be the same?’

“It doesn’t have to be weird unless we make it that way,” I replied, “I just didn’t want to be one of those people who sit on the sidelines and then bitch about not being in the game!”

This statement stopped him and for a full minute he only stared at me. I did my best not to squirm under his intense gaze, but I finally succumbed and turned on my heel, walking across the room to look out the windows.

I could feel him in the room; I didn’t need to see him with my eyes to know he was warring with himself over what I viewed as a fairly simple issue.

“It’s not that complicated, you either want to go out with me or you don’t. Simple. If you don’t, then nothing need change. If you do, then…” I let my words trail off, trusting he could deduce how great it’d be if he did want to go out with me.

His feet were almost silent on the carpet; almost. He came up behind me and I’d have turned around but I was busy at that second wishing I could breathe. His warmth rolled over me and fought back the chill in my bones as he laid his hands on my shoulders and slowly turned me to face him.

I looked up into his face, painfully handsome, and when he gave me a small smile just before laying a soft kiss on my mouth I was sure he could hear my heart sing at the chance we’d agreed to take together.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I could smell his fear as he passed (part1)

I was acting on courage alone. I stood at the window, my hand pressed to the rain splattered glass and oblivious to the cold, waiting. My green eyes watched, anticipating the sight of him, and the tension I’d created within myself strained along the rim of my psyche like a brimming cup.

For a year he had been dominating my thoughts, and I found it increasingly difficult to focus on my job, my mind constantly shifting back to memories of his face and driving me to distraction. We had the shared skill of story telling, and on that we had built a friendship. We shared a passion for words, keeping one another inspired and motivated to create; the irony wasn’t lost on me that as much as I loved words, some were difficult for me to put together.

He was a handsome man with dark hair and dark eyes that danced when he laughed, and his winning the genetic jackpot only served to intimidate me into silence; no small feat. And now here I was waiting for him to arrive under the pretense of needing him to read my latest work; clearly I was insane.

It wasn’t just the possible rejection of my feelings that I was afraid of; it was the potential affect my confession could have on our friendship, which was something I didn’t want to lose. But as a friend had once told me, “fate favors the risky” so here I was, waiting to take the risk.

His car turned the corner onto my street, the silver paint shimmering under a layer of rainwater and the headlights refracting off the sheeting drops that fell through the beams, diffusing the light into an almost worthless haze. I watched as he parallel parked near the corner, climbing out of the car and jogging toward my building.

My heart pounded almost painfully against my sternum.

For the hundredth time I glanced around my apartment, making sure everything was perfect. I had lit at least a dozen candles when the power had gone out, so the air glowed with soft golden warmth that gave the feeling of being in a cocoon.

Despite anticipating it, the knock on the door made me jump and with a deep breath I opened the door to let him in. His hair was wet and a fine layer of moisture coated his face. He took off his coat, shaking the water off in the hallway before coming inside.

“Man, it is pouring out there,” he said, “This new work of yours better be epic.” His laughter filled the space and I smiled at him, closing the door in his wake as he hung his coat on the rack.

Heading into the kitchen he poured himself a cup of coffee; he had been over enough times to know there would be some hot and it made me smile that he was so comfortable in my home. I smiled even wider as I watched him pour a second cup for me, adding cream and sugar and giving it a stir before handing it to me.

Holding the cup in my hands I moved into the living room, sipping the sweet brew as I stared out the window at the eerie light the storm had created. Turning when he entered the room I watched as he sunk down onto the sofa, sipping his own drink with a contented sigh.

“So, what is this new thing you’re working on?” he asked, propping his right foot on his left knee and stretching his left arm along the back of the couch. I lingered by the bank of windows that made up one whole wall, the cold air that seeped through pressing against my back as though trying to push me forward.

My mantra rolled in a loop through my mind, fate favors the risky, fate favors the risky, fate favors the risky and the nerve those words gave propelled me forward. I set my mug down on the coffee table and folded my arms in front of me, as through they could protect me.

“Well,” I began, “I have to confess that I invited you over today under a somewhat misleading guise.”

His eyebrows drew together in confusion, “What do you mean?” he asked, setting his mug on the side table before sitting forward, resting his elbows on his knees.

My pulse was fluttering wildly, thousands of tiny bird wings beating against the underside of my skin, but I pressed on. “I have been working on something, but it’s not a new book.” I felt rooted to the spot by the intensity of his questioning stare, and couldn’t have moved if my life depended on it.

Finally I just sighed, closing my eyes as I spoke, “I don’t want you to feel pressured or obligated or anything like that but I couldn’t let another day pass without telling you how I feel about you.” I kept my eyes shut and pressed on, “When I’m with you I feel like I can do anything, like I could be anything I wanted to be. I can’t even articulate all the things you make me feel, and I know I’m not the kind of woman you normally go for, but there it is.”

I kept my eyes closed for a few more heartbeats, but I could feel the weight of his gaze on me and it made it hard to breathe. The silence that descended on the room was heavy, like a wet blanket, oppressive and smothering, and I slowly opened my eyes.

He got slowly to his feet, wiping his palms on his jeans. “I… um…” he paused, “This is a lot to process,” he said as he moved slowly toward the door, and I could smell his fear as he passed. Lifting his jacket from the rack he paused with his hand on the doorknob, looking over his shoulder at me, “I’ll call you.” With that he was gone.

I moved across the room and stared out the window, my hand again pressed to the rain splattered glass and oblivious to the cold. I watched him walk slowly through the rain toward his car, and I wondered if I would ever see him again.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Adrenaline Bliss

He had been a coworker for almost two years. Over time we’d had a handful of non-work related conversations, which I found to be both wonderful and torturous. Wonderful because for a few moments in time I was on his radar; torturous because he made mine go crazy.

I wasn’t a slender woman, never had been, and one thing I’d learned over the years was that almost without fail, handsome men went for stunning women. Why shouldn’t they? Beautiful people could afford to be picky.

His hair was dark and glossy, like mahogany that had been polished by years of loving caresses and the short cut kept it away from his face. Thick lashes that would make any woman pea green with envy framed his eyes, warm like aged bronze.

Yes, he was beautiful. Yes, he was kind, and funny, but it was his scent that ate away at my nerves. Soap, shampoo and cologne I couldn’t name; but under that was just him. Just his skin. Each time he passed me my eyes involuntarily fluttered shut as I inhaled in his wake. When we spoke face to face it took all I had not to bury my nose in the hair behind his ear to breathe him in.

I was routinely surprised at how strong an aversion the mass population had to making, and keeping, eye contact. People always seemed to find somewhere else to focus, only letting their gaze skip rapidly across other faces like a stone across a pond. But not him. He held my gaze, steady and unflinching, which only served to fan my fascination.

He was talking about books, his laugh rich and touchable as ermine, and to punctuate a statement he briefly touched my hand. Adrenaline bliss!

I was absolutely certain that my friends were sick of hearing about him, but I just couldn’t bring myself to act, which was the antithesis of my usual direct approach to life. I wanted to ask him out. I wanted to tell him how I felt, but the overpowering fear of not only being rejected, but of losing what little interaction we did have, paralyzed me into inaction.

“I’ve been meaning to ask you something,” he said, shoving his hands into his pockets, and his usual confidant demeanor slipped into that of an uncertain teenager, “Would you be interested… I mean, if you want to… I was going to ask if…” His words trailed off but had been enough for me to deduce where he had been going with them, and I thought my heart might burst from my chest.

“Are you trying to ask me out?” I asked, amazed that I’d summoned the nerve to say those words out loud.

He smiled a ten thousand watt smile at me, flashing white teeth, and he seemed to relax when I smiled back. “Yes, in my own feeble way I am.”

“I’d love to,” I said with a nervous laugh, and at that moment I could have sprouted wings and flown to the moon. “What did you have in mind?"

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Just three words

Dark eyes smiling
Room spans forever
Feet move forward
Time stands still

Hands reach out
Fingers meet softly
Blood courses faster
Heart beat anticipates

Touch, taste, scent
Soft, sweet, intoxicating
Tender turns heated
Patience is gone

Touch of lips
Caress of hands
Swell of passion
Climbing, cresting, falling

His breath was cool against my skin

The fog lay over the city like wet gauze, clinging and sticking to every curve of her elegant skyline. The buildings seemed to prod at the moist haze like fingers tentatively exploring, searching for a weak point through which to escape. The light of the moon, fat and bright, couldn’t penetrate the blanket of vapor and the city was left at the mercy of streetlamp’s dismal yellow glow.

I walked alone through the thick curtain of suspended water, the white mass swirling in the momentary eddies my body created in the air. My shoes were silent against the wet concrete of the sidewalk, the tread prints left by the soft soles the only proof of my passing. My heavy black Naval coat hugged me warmly and my denim-clad legs moved me through the sleeping metropolis.

Every plant that lined my path was coated in dew, the tiny drops adorning every leaf and flower like the finest diamonds, which sparkled in the softly diffused lamplight. Night’s wet kisses had collected on my face, coalescing until heavy enough to run down my nose like a teasing tongue.

The air shifted around me. It moved and gave me pause, tempting me to turn around and look for what had caused the disturbance, and every single horror movie I’d ever seen flashed through my head. If I didn’t look, then nothing would be there, right? Isn’t that how it worked with the monsters under the bed?

I kept walking. It was all I could do not to speed up, not to take my hands out of my pockets so I could be ready to run, and I managed to feel a little proud of myself about that. The air moved more deliberately, as though an unseen body had moved through it, and my momentary pride vanished under a rising swell of fear.

My pace increased involuntarily; there was nothing I could have done to slow my legs down when the steady staccato of footsteps suddenly began and sent my heart racing. The sound seemed to echo off the thick air itself, effectively disguising from which direction the steps were coming.

I moved into a walk-jog. Walk two strides then jog one, walk two jog one, walk two jog one—

“Why afraid little mouse?” The voice was male, thick with an accent that drew out his vowels and the sound was candy for my ears. “You have been waiting for me.”

With each word my pace slowed a little more until I all but stood still. His voice vibrated through the dense air, touching and teasing me where hands could not reach, and with a sigh I stopped walking. My eyelids felt heavy and I blinked slowly as though I were drunk, not on manmade alcohol but on his voice; bottled it would be illegal.

He emerged from the mist like an apparition, and I could do nothing but wait for him to reach me. He stepped into the liquid pool of lamplight and the planes of his face seemed to be a Michelangelo sculpture come to life.

He stepped well into my personal space, the bump of his body against mine serving to convince my mind I wasn’t hallucinating, and I gazed up into his dark eyes. He lifted his hand slowly, deliberately, and I held my breath until his elegant fingers lightly brushed my cheek.

I found my voice and gathered my wits enough to ask, “Who are you?”

He smiled, a gentle curving of his lush mouth, “Don’t you know me?”

I stared at him, taking in every angle and curve of his face, absolutely certain that if I’d met someone so beautiful I’d remember them. I shook my head and frowned at him, “No. Should I?”

“You summoned me long ago,” he said as he bent at the waist and brushed a light kiss across one cheek and then the other, “Many lifetimes ago, in fact.”

His breath was cool against my skin, and yet a rush of heat coursed through me at his touch. “I don’t understand.” I whispered.

“Centuries ago you asked for love to find you.” He lowered his head and pressed his lips to mine in a brief, soft kiss. “Sorry I’m late.”