Gabby looked through the steam rising from her coffee. The liquid so hot it threatened to burn her through the styrofoam.
Somewhere behind her came a voice thick with disgust,
“Filthy beggars, all they want is money to buy more booze.”
She did’t have to look to see who had spoken, she had heard the same thing or a variation countless times and sometimes they were accurate, she couldn’t deny such a sad truth, yet she saw it as no reason not to be kind when given the chance. She didn’t know someones story. There could be countless reasons why a person found themselves down and out, living on the unforgiving streets and none of them mattered, really. A person in need was a person in need regardless of the cause.
“Here you go, Miss,” the vendor gave her a gap toothed smile as he handed her a cardboard container with four more steaming drinks.
She returned the smile with a “Thank you” along with a ten and a wave, “Keep the change.”
She crossed the street with the light and headed to the far corner where four men stood huddled around a steam vent in the sidewalk.
One, his coat two sizes too big and shabby from long use turned as she approached. He was wearing a ‘Bud Lite’ ball cap on top of a overflowing mane of silver hair which fell into his tired grey eyes. His mouth, barely seen through a thick mustache and grizzled beard, curved into a smile as his eyes caught what she was holding.
“Here dad, something to warm you and the boys.”
A mirror can be such a cruel mistress.
Jessie stood before the mirror in her parents bedroom, her eyes unfocused, turning her reflection in to a blurred suggestion of a person. Thoughts and images smashed through her head, scattering her thoughts into a million pieces. It had to be a lie, some cruel, awful, horrible joke.
Images from the television flicked across her mind, the voice of the host announcing todays show. Then there they were, one after another walking out onto the stage. Women; each so beautiful it took her breath away. So confident, so graceful. Each the same has her.
Could it be true? Did she dare, for even a moment allow herself to believe?
Hot tears began to course down her cheeks blurring her image further. She tried to wipe them away, to stop the flow but she couldn’t, She couldn’t hold them back any longer, neither them nor the sobs which suddenly choked her and she collapsed atop the clothing piled at her feet. More and more, an endless flows of pictures and words, all mixed with hope and dreams and wishes ripped through her with the muffled cries until she lay there, a crumpled wreck.
Those women, each a dream come to life, a promise, a hope, a wish made in the middle of the night as she lay in bed.
Each of them not having been born women, yet there they were for all the world to see. Born boys, yet they had fulfilled her deepest desire and become the women they knew they were inside.
The roof top was a empty, burning expanse of concrete in the midday sun. From here one could see completely across the downtown. A hustling, bustling place full of people and cars, delivery trucks and shops. It seemed as if anything was possible and everything was for sale behind shiny glass store fronts. Anne, turned in a slow circle and smiled. Looking to me, it was easy to see the excitement in her eyes.
“Wonderful,” she said, her hands and fingers moving almost too fast to follow. “What do you call this place?”
I thought for a moment and in my slow and akward sign language said,
“It seems I have forgotten the right words.”
She shook her head and grinning, teased,
A single drop of dew hung from a petal. A glistening orb reflecting a universe of blue and green and opal. She sat as still as possible, searing the beat of her heart would shatter the moment and the drop would fall, to shatter on the ground below. She loved this little moments, when time itself seemed to hold its breath. When she could imagine anything and it might come true.
A tiny twitch, the rose, in its vase teased by an errant breeze, bobbed and the drop trembled, seemingly caught in an instant of indecision, before falling in slow motion until it struck the dusty earth below. A strange mixture of fate allying the liquid to send a miniature mushroom cloud into the bright morning sky.
She sat back and released a long held breath.
Who knows what the future holds?
“Not I,” said the fox.
He turned and gave me a toothy grin before darting into the undergrowth. I stared at the green, leafy wall for a moment, listening as the sounds of his passing faded into the surrounding chirps, clicks and whistles. Then I turned my ears from these as well and heard the rustle of leaf against leaf and the whisper of the warm Summer breeze.
Somewhere a brook tumbled over stone while overhead the sky was a blue to hurt my eyes. I smiled a knowing smile and answered,
It seemed to be the same every time. Week after week watching the same images repeated. So many, all so young. Only the faces changed. The sad expressions, the tears were always the same. The broken voices speaking disbelief.
“I just don’t understand what happened.”
The raw voicing of life’s reality.
She walked past the couch, shaking her head in disgust.
“Mom, you need to stop watching those reality shows, they’re going to rot your brain.”
This is the opening scene for an short story idea. Not sure where it is going, I have a vague idea of it being an “Alice in Wonderland” sort of story with a gender bender twist.
Rachaell’s Antiques was a favorite stop, full of dust, dirt and wonders. Eric could loose himself within the endless shelves and piles of forgotten treasure. He would move from place to place, shelf to shelf, trying to guess what something was. Somethings were obvious, other beyond comprehension, but all interesting. Today though, he had a goal in mind, something he had glanced the previous week but had been unable to return to find before today.
It was a tall mirror buried far back into the shadowed recesses of the store, half hidden by broken furniture. He couldn’t say what was so interesting about what was most likely another broken and useless thing, but he couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Entering the door with its dust encrusted glass, he heard the tiny bell that hung above his head give its usual metallic tinkle, the harsh notes sending a shiver up his spine. No one came to see if it was a customer, but there was nothing unusual in that. He had been coming in for months and yet to see another soul. He simply assumed the owner or whoever was working was either in the back or wired at the counter, though thinking about it, he hadn’t seen anyone there either. The though passed through his mind he should be concerned my this fact, but he had other things the think about and so it was quickly forgotten.
It was easy to loose track of time in the place, with its dim, yellow lighting and deep shadows. After the bright sunlight outside, it was a world of perpetual twilight. He made his way ever deeper into the store, twisting, turning, ducking under hanging banners, stepping over miniature landslides of magazines and crumbling rolls of wallpaper. Each step taking him further from the door, yet closer to where he was sure the mirror waited.
The walk each day was long, going between home and school, yet worth every step she could spend with her friends. There was plenty of laughter and gossip to make the time pass and distance roll away beneath her feet. The exciting part though was when they walked from the paved street to the “short cut”. This was nothing more than a dirt track which lead into a patch of woods located behind the last row of houses.It slowly curved to the right, and soon it was as if you were in some long lost land where parents and siblings never existed.
There were clicks and clacks, whistles and calls from just out of sight which would rise to a deafening cascade of sound, only to suddenly end, leaving a silence which rang in the ears, as if something had arrived and the world was holding its breath until it passed. Then the sounds would explode with heart stopping abruptness.
In those times everyone would huddle closer, seeking assurance without knowing why, only to break out in squeals and laughter. Each joking and teasing about who was really scared and who wasn’t.
Then it was past the sunken lake with its green waters surrounded by rocky walls and the drawing of a dragon scrapped into the dirt. From there the trees thinning until they found themselves walking along the edge of Bee Glade, with all the white towers blazing in the sun. The constant buzz of the bees and the vibration in the air that set your teeth on edge.
Then, before she knew it, they were back among the houses and the school was just in sight and it seemed as if she were waking from a dream.
He looked from one to the other, the left and the right. He grunted and spit on the ground, scratched his chin and wondered which should die first. He stood under the bright Summer sun, sweat running down his neck and thought, until, with a grunt of disgust, he gave up and returned to the porch.
Keeping an eye on the objects of his displeasure, he reached blindly into the cooler at his feet and fished out a fresh beer. He sat down on the top step and closed his eyes. It was such a simple decision, why couldn’t he make up his mind?
One or the other or both, it didn’t matter. Not really. Yet he just couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger.
“The hell with it,” he thought, “they’ve been there this long, another day isn’t going to make a difference.”
A slow evil grin spread across his face, “besides”, he thought, “I kinda like the idea of a slow death.”
Two rose bushes shivered as a shadow passed.
She didn’t know what possessed her mother to choose the name she did for her only child. Maybe it was a fiendish sense of humor or, more than likely, a combination of drugs and pain, that made it seem like a good idea to name her daughter Nothing. Nothing Annie Moore. A clever play on words to be sure, if they didn’t scream at you from your birth certificate.
Her grandmother professed it to be the worst name since God created names and refused to call her anything other than Annie.