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Original Poster2 points · 2 days ago

Here’s an ITunes link.

Below is a text version of the story.

Unconditional Love

It started innocently enough.

It was intended as a cure for autism and was painstakingly designed to build empathy and foster emotional connections. The issue that researchers got stuck on, was that no matter how low the dosage, the chemical, which had a pheromonal base, would cause a chain reaction in the brains of complex mammals, which would create more of the chemical, deeper connections, and more and more emotional intensity.

It, quite simply, worked too well and the feelings of empathy, bonding, acceptance and openness towards others was unfocused, and directed towards everyone - regardless of whether or not the feelings were mutual or returned. The drug created an instant emotional connection and imbalance. Test subjects, rats, bunnies and eventually chimps, on the drug, loved everyone unconditionally, and without an intensive detoxing process, the feelings grew stronger and stronger. Subjects around them, that had not been exposed to the drug, simply couldn’t return the emotion with the same amount of intensity.

Before they went off the air, CNN had repeatedly shared an amusing clip from the lab which didn’t seem quite as funny now. It had featured an adorable fluffy bunny on the drug, chasing a non-drugged and terrified chimpanzee that it had bonded with. The chimp, a dark and frightening creature, absurdly, seemed terrified of it’s tiny cotton-tailed pursuer. Trying to get away, it had climbed to the top of it’s cage and the clip ended with the chimp, teethed bared and dark eyes wide, reaching imploringly through the bars towards the researcher with the camera, while below, on the floor of the cage the bunny hopped higher and higher - it’s pink nose quivering, it’s red eyes shining, and it’s stumpy and fuzzy forelegs grasping at the empty air.

The drug had issues and it’s testing on live subjects was put on hold.

Until God’s Love released their self proclaimed “Love Bomb” into the water supply in Rock Island, IL.

God’s Love was a group of Christian fundamentalist from a small town named Viola, IL. One of the men in the congregation had been a janitor in the lab that was developing the drug. He’d seen the drug’s effects on laboratory animals and had overheard laboratory workers discussing the effects and ramifications as well. What they saw as a problem, he saw as an opportunity. A God given opportunity to share God’s love with his congregation. He smuggled a small amount of the drug out of the lab, and exposed members of the congregation to the chemical. They bonded, called themselves God’s Love, and vowed to share the drug’s effects with the world.

A member of the church worked in a water processing plant in Rock Island, IL and he added the remainder of the drug to the outgoing water supply. The Quad Cities would be the New Jerusalem. That’s what one of the members had called in and told a local DJ. Eventually the news stations would play that clip on a loop for a few days, until they went silent.

According to one of the last scientists ever interviewed, the cult members had only been able to smuggle out a tiny bit of the drug, literally only a few ounces. But the drug, even in a minute amount, creates more of itself in the brains of complex mammals and in their blood and bladders too. A little bit in the water supply of a densely populated area, multiplied in the bodies of those exposed to it. It made its way into the cities’ sewage, the Mississippi and Rock River, and the water tables below the amber waves of grain, the water cycle, the oceans, and then the rest of the world.

The Love Bomb had been detonated and the world fell hard.

At first, it’s effects were subtle, subtle but cumulative. If any sociologists had been paying attention they would have noticed a sudden drop in violent crime, and productivity, and a dramatic increase in acts of simple human kindness. But nobody was paying attention to statistics and numbers, because everyone had their eyes on different types of figures entirely - each other’s.

If anyone had been keeping track, they would have noticed something else too, an explosive increase in every disease transmitted by bodily fluids. But no one was paying attention to statistics or larger social trends, they were distracted by the lovely person next to them, and the person next to them, and so on, ad infinitum.

And the love, as well as other things, spread wide, world wide - within days.

The drug was nearly 100% effective. Everyone wants and needs love. I am not immune to that emotion - that need. But, I am immune to the drug, and I don’t like to be touched by strangers.

I am a private person and I work nights with a TV to keep me company. As the world fell in love, I watched the news announcers flirt with each other and listened to their first amused reports of the amorous crowds, I saw the aerial footage of the slick and sweating Congo lines that filled the streets of Chicago, IL, and eventually the streets of all the cities of the world.

I saw the media put the pieces together, saw the way the live announcers looked at their guests and each other towards the end. I saw amusement, morph into fear, interest, warmth, smoldering passion, and finally raw and manic lust. I saw interviewers lurch towards their guest. I saw round table discussions between expert pundits devolve into gyrating joint monstrosities of entangled figures, bare skin of different colors, and dozens of flailing naked limbs. I saw far far too much before the stations, one by one, went off the air forever.

Frightened, I’d locked myself up in the warehouse where I work, and stayed there with the lights off for three days as the world burned with passion.

But I ran out of supplies and while foraging for food I was seen by a dog of all things; a Jack Russel Terrier - a complex mammal. It was a very friendly dog, terrifyingly so, and it chased me to this small and thankfully empty house.

I’ve broke in and barricaded the door. The dog is outside now, panting, barking, and scratching madly at the wood, desperate to get in. His owner, or perhaps a random stranger who loves him - loves everyone, has overheard the commotion and more than just his curiosity was aroused. He is now knocking on, and grinding against, the door, and tugging and fondling the doorknob too, with filthy, grasping hands that are smeared with bodily fluids.

The man’s lovers have joined him outside as well; it looks like dozens of them - with more approaching every minute. I can see them through the blinds. Small shambling figures materializing out of the darkness, their silhouettes growing larger, and coming closer and closer, seemingly to swell and engorge in the gloom. In the dusk’s fading light, I can see that their bodies are slick, pants-less, and even from a distance I can see that their raw skin is chapped, bruised, blistered, and covered in bites and scratches.

Some are looking in the windows now, their greasy palms and faces leaving streaks of mucus on the glass. Through the smears I can see their pursed, blistered lips, kissing at the air, and their desperate staring eyes, wide, hungry, and filled with a terrible and total unconditional love.

3 points · 2 days ago · edited 2 days ago

Interesting concept, and had a couple good lines in there. I particularly liked the silhouettes swelling and engorging.

Just a quick grammar moment since this is repeated often and is highly frustrating in your writing:

It’s = it is

Its = the possessive

A good way to remember it is that “its” is like his or her, a possessive without an apostrophe.

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Original Poster2 points · 2 days ago

Thanks!

9

A fantasy story in three parts about fathers and sons, hidden worlds, and people of various sizes. I’m posting the parts as I write them. If there’s interest I’ll post the remaining two parts as I complete them.

Little People

My father hid a lot from us, and after he passed, two of his secrets came looking for me.

Five days or so after his funeral, I dreamed about his train set - two of the figurines from his diorama to be more precise. My father had two things that I knew he loved: one was drinking, and the other was his basement train diorama. Those were also the reasons my mom claimed she’d left him, but I knew it was more complicated than that. I had been the third and real reason. My dad drank, sure. But he wasn’t a drunk. He was a calm drinker. Mostly. He’d drink and tinker away in the basement on his little world. I guess my mom was annoyed by the drinking, annoyed with his hobby, annoyed with his absence, and annoyed with him. Still, it could have gone on for years like that - it had gone on for years before I was born. But it came to a head when I was around four, and then it all got torn apart.

I had somehow gotten into the basement and started playing with the model city. It had looked like a toy to me - a toy world. I clamored up onto the table and towered over the town like a giant, laughing in amazement at the way the train sped around the track, and as it came close to me, I grabbed it and tried to make it go faster. It flew off of the track and into a row of the perfect little buildings, the railroad cars buckling and folding behind it. In my memory, the tiny toy people, all posed along the miniature Main Street, had scattered the moment before the train had flown off the track - as if they were alive and trying to get out of the way. I had laughed in surprise and wonder, and stepped back, and I felt something soft and slick pop and smear beneath my heal. I slipped, tottered, and toppled backwards onto a row of the perfectly crafted small buildings and a tiny water tower. I heard and felt things crunching beneath me and moisture explode against my back. I remember - though I must have imagined it - a high pitched chorus of tiny screams. But before I had totally processed what I had done, what was happening, I heard a roar, and then I was suddenly, agonizingly flying, yanked up into the air by my right arm.

My memory of the event is spotty. I remember things that couldn’t have happened. But this part happened. I have proof. I remember my dad being huge, terrifying, and of seeing a sudden jumble of images; the miniature town spread out beneath me, the profile of his furious face in my peripheral vision, the harshness of the overhead light, the heel of my shoe kicking the light fixture and leaving a smear of something red on it. The terrible feeling of being pulled apart, the blinding pain in my arm and shoulder, seeing spots of darkness multiplying - passing out.

My mom wouldn’t talk much about it, but my sister did. She had opinions. She said my dad found me playing with his train set and that he broke my arm to teach me a lesson. She said I was lucky I’d gotten away with just a broken arm. A few years earlier the family cat, her cat really, got into the basement, and must have made a mess. She heard our father screaming, and when she ran into the kitchen to see what was going on, she saw him come rushing up from the basement with the limp bloody body of her cat flopping from one white-knuckled hand, and something else cupped tenderly in the other.

“He buried the cat in the backyard,” she said.

She was sure he’d torn the cat into two pieces. Maybe tore off its head, because she saw the mound of dirt where the cat had been buried, and there had been another smaller mound of dirt beside it.

I didn’t totally believe my sister’s story. But I still remember it. The way she’d whispered it confidentially, her face so serious, her dark eyes wide. The way she kept glancing at my curled up arm, and looking away as though embarrassed. I hadn’t been torn in two like the cat. But I had been damaged. I had been broken. He’d been drinking, he claimed he hadn’t meant to grab me so firmly, to yank me away so hard. I had just been so small, so light, so easy to lift up. He hadn’t realized what he was breaking. He was sorry - so sorry. But it had happened. My shoulder had been dislocated, my arm, my dominant arm, had been wrenched from its socket and badly broken. Crippled it turned out. Social workers got involved, my parents separated, my mom got full custody, and everything else she asked for. He got the empty house he’d inherited from his father, and the train set in the basement. He got to keep the perfect little world he loved. The one I had broken.

I have another memory from that time too, of being in a cast - my whole right side hurting - looking down from the second floor landing through the railing, and watching my parents fight. Probably about me. It was the first time I can remember looking down on my dad. My mom had been packing. My dad was crying. He’d been sitting on the sofa with his face in his hands. From my elevated position on the stairwell, he’d looked small and helpless. He looked to me like one of the tiny toy people he’d been so protective of.

That’s really all I remember about that time, my injury, and the divorce.

After a few years I got to see him again. First it was with supervised visits and when I was a little older, it was one on one, or it was him, my sister and me. It was always complicated. It was rarely fun. My arm was damaged. It had been severely dislocated, as well as broken, and there was damage to the nerves and tendons, and I never regained full use of it. My father didn’t deal with the guilt of it well. It hurt him to see me, to see what he’d done in a moment of rage. To see me struggle to open a door, or try to get a lid off of a jar. I’d catch him looking at me with this stricken expression that I couldn’t stand. He’d look like he was about to cry, apologize too often, inevitably pour a drink, and then go into the basement and lock the door behind him. Then, on the few weekends we were supposed to be spending time with him, my sister and I would have to entertain ourselves.

I realize now he was struggling with guilt, maybe his drinking too, but as a kid, it felt like he didn’t like seeing me - like he didn’t love me. He also made me feel like I was handicapped, flawed - which I hated. None of those feelings are conducive to forming a relationship with a parent. We had no relationship really, and when I was 12 or so, and my sister went to college, I stopped seeing my dad entirely. It was easy. I didn’t return a few calls, he gave up, and then seven years flew by.

And then he was gone.

A week later I had the dream. In it, two plastic figures from the train set came to visit me. They stood on the coffee table trying to get my attention, and I - sleeping on the sofa - was at eye level with them.

They had little paper horns that they had formed out of postage stamps and they were bellowing through them, saying - I think this was the gist of it - that my father’s miniature world was real, and it desperately needed my help. The train had stopped, the sun had been dark for a week, and now an unstoppable creature from the larger world was terrorizing the land.

I remember staring at them blearily, and falling back asleep. When I awoke the next morning, the figurines from the dream were still there on the coffee table, both laying on their sides. One was a farmer in overalls and a flannel shirt, the other looked like a 1950s milkman; next to them were two stamps they’d been shouting through - both still curled at their edges. I blinked hard a few times, and I laughed nervously, not 100 percent sure I was awake, not really believing they were actually in front of me.

I had been tangled in a blanket, and laying on my left side with my good arm pinned beneath me, so I clumsily reached for one of the figures with my withered arm and twisted hand. Then I’d felt shock jolt me fully awake, and I jerked my hand back as the tiny plastic milkman sprung suddenly to life. First, grabbing the curled postage stamp by his side, then scrambling to his feet. Standing, he delivered two swift kicks to the side of the plastic farmer still laying down. Then the small standing figure turned to face me, raising the funneled postage stamp to his tiny painted face.

Part two can be read here.

9
6 comments

Yes! More please I can’t wait to see what happens!

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Original Poster1 point · 9 days ago

Thanks for your interest in my story! Part two can be read here.

Damn I love this! Can’t wait for the rest!

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Original Poster2 points · 9 days ago

Thanks for your interest in my story! Part two can be read here.

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19

I posted this writing prompt and decided to write a three part story based on it. It’s a fantasy story about fathers and sons, hidden worlds, and people of various sizes.

Part one can be read here.

Little People (part 2 of 3)

And he started shouting.

It was a repeat of the points I’d heard in my dream - the dream I supposed I was still having. I stared blankly at this tiny absurdity as he again launched into his high-pitched spiel about my father’s world needing my help, the train wasn’t running, the the sun had went out, and the monster was hunting in the darkness - killing men, women, and children.

While the milkman bellowed faintly through his rolled up stamp, his partner, who had stood up by this time, joined in with faint affirmative outbursts of “That’s right!” “Uh-huh!” and “Amen!” The farmer was waving a crushed straw hat with one arm, and clutching his other arm against his presumably bruised ribs. In his excitement, he’d forgotten to pick up his makeshift megaphone, and he was stomping on the curled postage stamp under his feet - almost stumbling over it at one point.

I had the presence of mind to know that I was still dreaming. But I felt awake. Faintly, outside I could hear birds chirping and the whisper of cars driving by. My dreams didn’t typically have this level of realism. Or, maybe they do when I’m having them, and I forget when I wake up. This had to be a dream, an incredible one. I played along.

“How did you get here?” I asked, quickly lowering my voice to a whisper when I saw how the sound of me talking normally had made them flinch and stagger backwards.

“Through the mail. Your dad left our mayor self-addressed, stamped envelopes for us to travel in, for when we’d need to reach you.” The milkman bellowed faintly in reply.

Sure, that makes a strange kind of sense. It would be easier to reach me than my sister. I lived one town over, she lived all the way across the country. Processing this, I started to sit up - pushing myself up with the numb arm I’d been sleeping on. Reaching forward to steady myself, I accidentally jostled the coffee table with my clumsy right hand. I saw them both scrambling to keep their balance as the coffee table was jolted slightly. I felt a twinge of embarrassment at my clumsiness - and I mumbled an apology. I was off balance too, just about as off balance as I’d ever been, and now sitting up, I sat there looking down at them in dazed fascination - and they looked back at me.

Both figures were about an inch tall - and they stared upwards with wide eyes and varied expressions. Their faces looked painted. Their expressions seemed drawn on, but were literally animated. Their features shifted and changed as they talked, displaying a range of emotions and mouths that opened and closed. The milkman seemed to be the spokesperson for the two of them - their leader. He was smiling slightly and squinting up at me. The farmer had stepped back a bit, sliding almost behind him when I had sat up.

I realized belatedly that me sitting up so suddenly must have been a terrifying sight from their perspective. The farmer was clutching his straw hat to his chest and his mouth was a tiny painted O of surprise - or fear. He’s scared. I scared him. That realization struck me as being both pitiable and hilarious, and I covered my mouth with my hands to muffle a bark of laughter. I kept my hands over my mouth as I tried to control the mirth that was bubbling up from my stomach. Maybe this isn’t a dream. Maybe I’m having a psychotic break. I’m hallucinating here in my living room. What a weird hallucination. I stared down at the figures, they stared up at me, and I surprised myself by starting to cry. Just a little. Maybe it was the shock of seeing them, maybe it was from trying to hold back my laughter, or maybe I was just going crazy. But the feeling of my eyes starting to well up, seeing the two visitors start to blur and waver in my vision, snapped me out of my impending laughing fit, and brought me back into the moment.

“So, you want me to go to my dad’s house, turn on the basement light, and start the electric train up again?” I asked softly to break the silence - already knowing their answer.

“Yes! And kill the monster!” The milkman piped up in response, and the farmer hiding behind him chimed in with an emphatic “Yessiree Bob!” But he didn’t sound quite as enthusiastic as he had before. In fact, he sounded a little afraid.

“Sure, why not.” I replied. Shaking my head in disbelief. “I can do that for you. Yeah, let’s do this.” Then I started to laugh in earnest, rubbing tears out of my eyes while the two tiny men looked up at me with dual expressions of perplexity, perplexity that might have bordered on fear.

Before leaving my apartment - with their permission - I secured the two of them in a makeshift carrying case. It was an empty plastic margarine container, with a wad of toilet paper as padding, and holes punched in the lid. According to them, they might look plastic, but they were fragile, they bled, and they needed to breathe.

Leaving the apartment with the container firmly gripped in my good hand, I glanced in my mailbox and I saw they had indeed arrived by letter. There was a letter from my dad in my mail. The envelope had one corner torn open and it looked like three stamps had been pealed off of it. Inside the envelope was an empty matchbox with a flattened cotton ball in it. I assumed they travelled in it. It must have been cramped. There was also a keyring with two keys. One was obviously a house key - freshly cut and shining brightly. The other was an antique pitted black skeleton key with a painted railroad crossing sign on its bow. It felt heavy and seemed ancient. I had never seen the skeleton key before but I knew what door it opened.

A long piece of red string had been secured to the keyring as well. It had dangled from my mailbox to the porch - swaying slightly in the light fall breeze.

It was easy to put the pieces together. They had shimmied down the string, and squeezed under my front door. Looking down I saw there were specks of blood on the porch, and a few small bloodied feathers. Following the spots of blood, I saw that inside my door, laid out across the doorstop, lay a third figurine - a broken one. It was a little businessman in a torn blue suit stained nearly black with blood. His face and torso was covered with a stamp stained by postage marks and blood, and his body had been sprinkled with small feathers. His arms, which had been crossed over his chest, cradled a tiny bloodstained nail that nearly spanned the length of his figure. In his arms, it looked like a spear.

Three little adventurers had tucked themselves into the matchbox and been sent in the letter, only two made it into my house alive. Exiting my mailbox, they had been attacked by a bird. They fought, one fell, and the two survivors had lain their friend to rest inside the doorway of my home, using my wooden doorstop as a burial slab. They placed his weapon in his arms, sprinkled him with the feathers of his enemy, and covered his face with the stamp he had carried. Then the two survivors carried on with their mission, with the stamps they’d peeled off of the envelope tucked firmly under their arms.

Leaving their friend behind, they made the long trek from the entryway of my apartment to the island of my coffee table. They had navigated past my kicked off shoes resting by the front door like sleeping sentinels. They circumvented the hills of the discarded coat that I’d tossed on the floor, and hiked past the landmarks and monuments of junk stacked around my small college apartment. Eventually, reaching the coffee table next to the sofa, they had scaled one of its legs. At the base of one of them I had seen two brightly shining nails that they had discarded to make the climb. The tips of nails had been filed down to sharp points and they were both streaked with specks of drying blood.

The two of them had laid down their arms, climbed up into the sky, clambering up onto a new world. They walked defenseless across the checkered surface of the coffee table, around the pile of textbooks, a slowly collapsing stack of overdue DVDs, and a few dirty glasses huddled together like a small crystal city. Both of them were small tourists, stepping carefully through an odd landscape of huge and miscellaneous things.

The journeyers had trekked along, while in the sky far above them my apartment’s ceiling fan whirled at the top of the world, like a strange and distant bladed constellation. Using the vast horizon of my sleeping form as a reference, they walked on, until at last the three of us were face to face. Separated only by the canyon between the coffee table and the the sofa, their two tiny determined faces looked up at my mountainous dozing visage, and they formed their stamps into funnels, and started trying to wake me up.

The three of them had embarked on an odyssey, I now realized. A heroes journey. Only two had reached me. All because they needed my help doing something as simple to me as flipping a switch, starting up a toy, and disposing of a pest. It was a lot to process. I desperately wanted to help them.

There was something else in the letter too - a small folded piece of paper that turned out to be a note from my father. Here’s what it said: If your reading this, then you’ve learned that there is magic in the world and it needs to be protected. The house now belongs to you and your sister - to do with as you will. Before you do anything, please visit the mayor of the basement. Talk to him. He’ll explain everything.

I looked at the margarine container with it’s two tiny travelers in my left hand, and then I looked at the short - much too short - letter from my father in my twisted right hand. I suddenly had a lot of questions for my dad. Questions I’d never get to ask him. I felt my eyes start to sting, my shoulder twinged. Lacking The dexterity in my right side to fold the letter one handed, I crumpled it and clumsily shoved the balled up piece of paper in my right front pants pocket. It took two tries to get it in. As was so often the case when I thought about my father, I couldn’t tell if I was sad or angry. That’s another thing, for better or worse, that I’d never be able to talk to him about.

I’d settle for talking to the diorama’s mayor.

Driving to my father’s house was surreal. I put the plastic container on top of my coat in the passenger seat’s footrest. That seemed as safe a place as any for the two little guys. I found myself driving more cautiously then usual. For one thing, I didn’t want to get in an accident and have the milkman and the farmer bouncing around in their container. After seeing the businessman’s corpse - killed by a bird. I was painfully aware of their vulnerability. Also, I didn’t want to get pulled over and have a police officer examine the contents of the container either. Though I assumed the two of them would freeze if that happened. I felt confident the milkman would have the presence of mind to do that. I wasn’t so sure about the farmer. I should have said something about that to them. I would If I got pulled over.

The third reason I was driving slow was because I still wasn’t convinced I wasn’t dreaming all of this, or imagining some of the more fantastical elements I’d seen. A good rule of thumb, one I’d made up on the spot, was if you’re driving, and you think you might be hallucinating - drive carefully. Maybe I had been seeing things. Just little things - two little things to be precise, each about an inch high. Maybe I had gotten the letter from my father with the keys, note, and a matchbox filled with two or three normal plastic figurines, and I imagined the rest. That scenario actually made a lot of sense and was seeming more and more likely as I drove down one familiar midwestern street after another. I had probably been half asleep when I checked the mail. Getting the keys, the figurines, finding out the house was mine and my sisters now - probably just rattled me a little - or a lot.

By the time I arrived at my dad’s house, I was sure that was the case, but I had to check. I nervously peeled the lid off of the container and was greeted by the sight of the milkman and the farmer rising unsteadily to stand at attention on the soft bedding of toilet paper - both of them staring up at me expectantly, their tiny eyes wide and mouths forming tight determined smiles. I smiled back a little shakily, feeling a little unsteady myself.

“Here we are guys.” I said quietly, while nervously looking around me to see if any of my father’s neighbors were around to see me talking into a margarine container. Thankfully, we were alone.

The house key opened the back door, and I walked into my childhood kitchen; the kitchen of my dead father. I felt nostalgia descend on me like a weight. It was a physical force all around me, up my nose, in my head, in my heart. The kitchen smelled like him - cigarettes, Brute aftershave, and very faintly - the sharp smell of the unidentified liquor he drank. I hadn’t been here for seven years and I really hadn’t missed it. It was almost exactly the way I remembered it, but just a little smaller, a little more bare, and a little more run down. I felt a bubble of sadness threatening to rise up in me. The feeling felt a little bit like vertigo, a little like desperation, and a lot like fear. I forced it down and tried not to think about it.

Across the kitchen I could see the door to his basement. It seemed warped by the weight of memories. According to my sister it was the door he’d burst through with the cat he’d killed and the son he’d broken. It was the closed door he hid behind for years - the door that kept him from us.

I felt a sudden sharp ache in my right side - a twinge that ran from my shoulder to my fingertips. I gripped the keyring as tight as I could with my weaker and smaller hand. Then holding the container securely in my left hand, like a small chariot with its tiny gladiators peering over the rim, I advanced through my father’s kitchen with the skeleton key extended before me like a sword. Walking towards the basement door and whatever waited behind it.

19
6 comments
3 points · 9 days ago

Well, this has my attention.

Well done thus far.

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Original Poster1 point · 9 days ago

Thanks!

46

I posted this writing prompt and decided to write a three part story based on it. If there’s interest, I’ll post the parts as I’m writing them here. It’s a fantasy story about fathers and sons, hidden worlds, and people of various sizes.

Little People

My father hid a lot from us, and after he passed, two of his secrets came looking for me.

Five days or so after his funeral, I dreamed about his train set - two of the figurines from his diorama to be more precise. My father had two things that I knew he loved: one was drinking, and the other was his basement train diorama. Those were also the reasons my mom claimed she’d left him, but I knew it was more complicated than that. I had been the third and real reason. My dad drank, sure. But he wasn’t a drunk. He was a calm drinker. Mostly. He’d drink and tinker away in the basement on his little world. I guess my mom was annoyed by the drinking, annoyed with his hobby, annoyed with his absence, and annoyed with him. Still, it could have gone on for years like that - it had gone on for years before I was born. But it came to a head when I was around four, and then it all got torn apart.

I had somehow gotten into the basement and started playing with the model city. It had looked like a toy to me - a toy world. I clamored up onto the table and towered over the town like a giant, laughing in amazement at the way the train sped around the track, and as it came close to me, I grabbed it and tried to make it go faster. It flew off of the track and into a row of the perfect little buildings, the railroad cars buckling and folding behind it. In my memory, the tiny toy people, all posed along the miniature Main Street, had scattered the moment before the train had flown off the track - as if they were alive and trying to get out of the way. I had laughed in surprise and wonder, and stepped back, and I felt something soft and slick pop and smear beneath my heal. I slipped, tottered, and toppled backwards onto a row of the perfectly crafted small buildings and a tiny water tower. I heard and felt things crunching beneath me and moisture explode against my back. I remember - though I must have imagined it - a high pitched chorus of tiny screams. But before I had totally processed what I had done, what was happening, I heard a roar, and then I was suddenly, agonizingly flying, yanked up into the air by my right arm.

My memory of the event is spotty. I remember things that couldn’t have happened. But this part happened. I have proof. I remember my dad being huge, terrifying, and of seeing a sudden jumble of images; the miniature town spread out beneath me, the profile of his furious face in my peripheral vision, the harshness of the overhead light, the heel of my shoe kicking the light fixture and leaving a smear of something red on it. The terrible feeling of being pulled apart, the blinding pain in my arm and shoulder, seeing spots of darkness multiplying - passing out.

My mom wouldn’t talk much about it, but my sister did. She had opinions. She said my dad found me playing with his train set and that he broke my arm to teach me a lesson. She said I was lucky I’d gotten away with just a broken arm. A few years earlier the family cat, her cat really, got into the basement, and must have made a mess. She heard our father screaming, and when she ran into the kitchen to see what was going on, she saw him come rushing up from the basement with the limp bloody body of her cat flopping from one white-knuckled hand, and something else cupped tenderly in the other.

“He buried the cat in the backyard,” she said.

She was sure he’d torn the cat into two pieces. Maybe tore off its head, because she saw the mound of dirt where the cat had been buried, and there had been another smaller mound of dirt beside it.

I didn’t totally believe my sister’s story. But I still remember it. The way she’d whispered it confidentially, her face so serious, her dark eyes wide. The way she kept glancing at my curled up arm, and looking away as though embarrassed. I hadn’t been torn in two like the cat. But I had been damaged. I had been broken. He’d been drinking, he claimed he hadn’t meant to grab me so firmly, to yank me away so hard. I had just been so small, so light, so easy to lift up. He hadn’t realized what he was breaking. He was sorry - so sorry. But it had happened. My shoulder had been dislocated, my arm, my dominant arm, had been wrenched from its socket and badly broken. Crippled it turned out. Social workers got involved, my parents separated, my mom got full custody, and everything else she asked for. He got the empty house he’d inherited from his father, and the train set in the basement. He got to keep the perfect little world he loved. The one I had broken.

I have another memory from that time too, of being in a cast - my whole right side hurting - looking down from the second floor landing through the railing, and watching my parents fight. Probably about me. It was the first time I can remember looking down on my dad. My mom had been packing. My dad was crying. He’d been sitting on the sofa with his face in his hands. From my elevated position on the stairwell, he’d looked small and helpless. He looked to me like one of the tiny toy people he’d been so protective of.

That’s really all I remember about that time, my injury, and the divorce.

After a few years I got to see him again. First it was with supervised visits and when I was a little older, it was one on one, or it was him, my sister and me. It was always complicated. It was rarely fun. My arm was damaged. It had been severely dislocated, as well as broken, and there was damage to the nerves and tendons, and I never regained full use of it. My father didn’t deal with the guilt of it well. It hurt him to see me, to see what he’d done in a moment of rage. To see me struggle to open a door, or try to get a lid off of a jar. I’d catch him looking at me with this stricken expression that I couldn’t stand. He’d look like he was about to cry, apologize too often, inevitably pour a drink, and then go into the basement and lock the door behind him. Then, on the few weekends we were supposed to be spending time with him, my sister and I would have to entertain ourselves.

I realize now he was struggling with guilt, maybe his drinking too, but as a kid, it felt like he didn’t like seeing me - like he didn’t love me. He also made me feel like I was handicapped, flawed - which I hated. None of those feelings are conducive to forming a relationship with a parent. We had no relationship really, and when I was 12 or so, and my sister went to college, I stopped seeing my dad entirely. It was easy. I didn’t return a few calls, he gave up, and then seven years flew by.

And then he was gone.

A week later I had the dream. In it, two plastic figures from the train set came to visit me. They stood on the coffee table trying to get my attention, and I - sleeping on the sofa - was at eye level with them.

They had little paper horns that they had formed out of postage stamps and they were bellowing through them, saying - I think this was the gist of it - that my father’s miniature world was real, and it desperately needed my help. The train had stopped, the sun had been dark for a week, and now an unstoppable creature from the larger world was terrorizing the land.

I remember staring at them blearily, and falling back asleep. When I awoke the next morning, the figurines from the dream were still there on the coffee table, both laying on their sides. One was a farmer in overalls and a flannel shirt, the other looked like a 1950s milkman; next to them were two stamps they’d been shouting through - both still curled at their edges. I blinked hard a few times, and I laughed nervously, not 100 percent sure I was awake, not really believing they were actually in front of me.

I had been tangled in a blanket, and laying on my left side with my good arm pinned beneath me, so I clumsily reached for one of the figures with my withered arm and twisted hand. Then I’d felt shock jolt me fully awake, and I jerked my hand back as the tiny plastic milkman sprung suddenly to life. First, grabbing the curled postage stamp by his side, then scrambling to his feet. Standing, he delivered two swift kicks to the side of the plastic farmer still laying down. Then the small standing figure turned to face me, raising the funneled postage stamp to his tiny painted face.

Part two can be read here.

46
10 comments

Damn now that's an interesting story hook n sinker

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Original Poster2 points · 9 days ago

Hi! Thanks for your interest in my story. Part two is posted here.

I'm in.

More, please and thank you.

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Original Poster1 point · 9 days ago

Hi! Thanks for your interest in my story. Part two is posted here.

6

I posted this writing prompt and decided to write a three part story based on it. It’s a fantasy story about fathers and sons, hidden worlds, and people of various sizes.

Part one can be read here .

Little People (part 2 of 3)

And he started shouting.

It was a repeat of the points I’d heard in my dream - the dream I supposed I was still having. I stared blankly at this tiny absurdity as he again launched into his high-pitched spiel about my father’s world needing my help, the train wasn’t running, the the sun had went out, and the monster was hunting in the darkness - killing men, women, and children.

While the milkman bellowed faintly through his rolled up stamp, his partner, who had stood up by this time, joined in with faint affirmative outbursts of “That’s right!” “Uh-huh!” and “Amen!” The farmer was waving a crushed straw hat with one arm, and clutching his other arm against his presumably bruised ribs. In his excitement, he’d forgotten to pick up his makeshift megaphone, and he was stomping on the curled postage stamp under his feet - almost stumbling over it at one point.

I had the presence of mind to know that I was still dreaming. But I felt awake. Faintly, outside I could hear birds chirping and the whisper of cars driving by. My dreams didn’t typically have this level of realism. Or, maybe they do when I’m having them, and I forget when I wake up. This had to be a dream, an incredible one. I played along.

“How did you get here?” I asked, quickly lowering my voice to a whisper when I saw how the sound of me talking normally had made them flinch and stagger backwards.

“Through the mail. Your dad left our mayor self-addressed, stamped envelopes for us to travel in, for when we’d need to reach you.” The milkman bellowed faintly in reply.

Sure, that makes a strange kind of sense. It would be easier to reach me than my sister. I lived one town over, she lived all the way across the country. Processing this, I started to sit up - pushing myself up with the numb arm I’d been sleeping on. Reaching forward to steady myself, I accidentally jostled the coffee table with my clumsy right hand. I saw them both scrambling to keep their balance as the coffee table was jolted slightly. I felt a twinge of embarrassment at my clumsiness - and I mumbled an apology. I was off balance too, just about as off balance as I’d ever been, and now sitting up, I sat there looking down at them in dazed fascination - and they looked back at me.

Both figures were about an inch tall - and they stared upwards with wide eyes and varied expressions. Their faces looked painted. Their expressions seemed drawn on, but were literally animated. Their features shifted and changed as they talked, displaying a range of emotions and mouths that opened and closed. The milkman seemed to be the spokesperson for the two of them - their leader. He was smiling slightly and squinting up at me. The farmer had stepped back a bit, sliding almost behind him when I had sat up.

I realized belatedly that me sitting up so suddenly must have been a terrifying sight from their perspective. The farmer was clutching his straw hat to his chest and his mouth was a tiny painted O of surprise - or fear. He’s scared. I scared him. That realization struck me as being both pitiable and hilarious, and I covered my mouth with my hands to muffle a bark of laughter. I kept my hands over my mouth as I tried to control the mirth that was bubbling up from my stomach. Maybe this isn’t a dream. Maybe I’m having a psychotic break. I’m hallucinating here in my living room. What a weird hallucination. I stared down at the figures, they stared up at me, and I surprised myself by starting to cry. Just a little. Maybe it was the shock of seeing them, maybe it was from trying to hold back my laughter, or maybe I was just going crazy. But the feeling of my eyes starting to well up, seeing the two visitors start to blur and waver in my vision, snapped me out of my impending laughing fit, and brought me back into the moment.

“So, you want me to go to my dad’s house, turn on the basement light, and start the electric train up again?” I asked softly to break the silence - already knowing their answer.

“Yes! And kill the monster!” The milkman piped up in response, and the farmer hiding behind him chimed in with an emphatic “Yessiree Bob!” But he didn’t sound quite as enthusiastic as he had before. In fact, he sounded a little afraid.

“Sure, why not.” I replied. Shaking my head in disbelief. “I can do that for you. Yeah, let’s do this.” Then I started to laugh in earnest, rubbing tears out of my eyes while the two tiny men looked up at me with dual expressions of perplexity, perplexity that might have bordered on fear.

Before leaving my apartment - with their permission - I secured the two of them in a makeshift carrying case. It was an empty plastic margarine container, with a wad of toilet paper as padding, and holes punched in the lid. According to them, they might look plastic, but they were fragile, they bled, and they needed to breathe.

Leaving the apartment with the container firmly gripped in my good hand, I glanced in my mailbox and I saw they had indeed arrived by letter. There was a letter from my dad in my mail. The envelope had one corner torn open and it looked like three stamps had been pealed off of it. Inside the envelope was an empty matchbox with a flattened cotton ball in it. I assumed they travelled in it. It must have been cramped. There was also a keyring with two keys. One was obviously a house key - freshly cut and shining brightly. The other was an antique pitted black skeleton key with a painted railroad crossing sign on its bow. It felt heavy and seemed ancient. I had never seen the skeleton key before but I knew what door it opened.

A long piece of red string had been secured to the keyring as well. It had dangled from my mailbox to the porch - swaying slightly in the light fall breeze.

It was easy to put the pieces together. They had shimmied down the string, and squeezed under my front door. Looking down I saw there were specks of blood on the porch, and a few small bloodied feathers. Following the spots of blood, I saw that inside my door, laid out across the doorstop, lay a third figurine - a broken one. It was a little businessman in a torn blue suit stained nearly black with blood. His face and torso was covered with a stamp stained by postage marks and blood, and his body had been sprinkled with small feathers. His arms, which had been crossed over his chest, cradled a tiny bloodstained nail that nearly spanned the length of his figure. In his arms, it looked like a spear.

Three little adventurers had tucked themselves into the matchbox and been sent in the letter, only two made it into my house alive. Exiting my mailbox, they had been attacked by a bird. They fought, one fell, and the two survivors had lain their friend to rest inside the doorway of my home, using my wooden doorstop as a burial slab. They placed his weapon in his arms, sprinkled him with the feathers of his enemy, and covered his face with the stamp he had carried. Then the two survivors carried on with their mission, with the stamps they’d peeled off of the envelope tucked firmly under their arms.

Leaving their friend behind, they made the long trek from the entryway of my apartment to the island of my coffee table. They had navigated past my kicked off shoes resting by the front door like sleeping sentinels. They circumvented the hills of the discarded coat that I’d tossed on the floor, and hiked past the landmarks and monuments of junk stacked around my small college apartment. Eventually, reaching the coffee table next to the sofa, they had scaled one of its legs. At the base of one of them I had seen two brightly shining nails that they had discarded to make the climb. The tips of nails had been filed down to sharp points and they were both streaked with specks of drying blood.

The two of them had laid down their arms, climbed up into the sky, clambering up onto a new world. They walked defenseless across the checkered surface of the coffee table, around the pile of textbooks, a slowly collapsing stack of overdue DVDs, and a few dirty glasses huddled together like a small crystal city. Both of them were small tourists, stepping carefully through an odd landscape of huge and miscellaneous things.

The journeyers had trekked along, while in the sky far above them my apartment’s ceiling fan whirled at the top of the world, like a strange and distant bladed constellation. Using the vast horizon of my sleeping form as a reference, they walked on, until at last the three of us were face to face. Separated only by the canyon between the coffee table and the the sofa, their two tiny determined faces looked up at my mountainous dozing visage, and they formed their stamps into funnels, and started trying to wake me up.

The three of them had embarked on an odyssey, I now realized. A heroes journey. Only two had reached me. All because they needed my help doing something as simple to me as flipping a switch, starting up a toy, and disposing of a pest. It was a lot to process. I desperately wanted to help them.

There was something else in the letter too - a small folded piece of paper that turned out to be a note from my father. Here’s what it said: If your reading this, then you’ve learned that there is magic in the world and it needs to be protected. The house now belongs to you and your sister - to do with as you will. Before you do anything, please visit the mayor of the basement. Talk to him. He’ll explain everything.

I looked at the margarine container with it’s two tiny travelers in my left hand, and then I looked at the short - much too short - letter from my father in my twisted right hand. I suddenly had a lot of questions for my dad. Questions I’d never get to ask him. I felt my eyes start to sting, my shoulder twinged. Lacking The dexterity in my right side to fold the letter one handed, I crumpled it and clumsily shoved the balled up piece of paper in my right front pants pocket. It took two tries to get it in. As was so often the case when I thought about my father, I couldn’t tell if I was sad or angry. That’s another thing, for better or worse, that I’d never be able to talk to him about.

I’d settle for talking to the diorama’s mayor.

Driving to my father’s house was surreal. I put the plastic container on top of my coat in the passenger seat’s footrest. That seemed as safe a place as any for the two little guys. I found myself driving more cautiously then usual. For one thing, I didn’t want to get in an accident and have the milkman and the farmer bouncing around in their container. After seeing the businessman’s corpse - killed by a bird. I was painfully aware of their vulnerability. Also, I didn’t want to get pulled over and have a police officer examine the contents of the container either. Though I assumed the two of them would freeze if that happened. I felt confident the milkman would have the presence of mind to do that. I wasn’t so sure about the farmer. I should have said something about that to them. I would If I got pulled over.

The third reason I was driving slow was because I still wasn’t convinced I wasn’t dreaming all of this, or imagining some of the more fantastical elements I’d seen. A good rule of thumb, one I’d made up on the spot, was if you’re driving, and you think you might be hallucinating - drive carefully. Maybe I had been seeing things. Just little things - two little things to be precise, each about an inch high. Maybe I had gotten the letter from my father with the keys, note, and a matchbox filled with two or three normal plastic figurines, and I imagined the rest. That scenario actually made a lot of sense and was seeming more and more likely as I drove down one familiar midwestern street after another. I had probably been half asleep when I checked the mail. Getting the keys, the figurines, finding out the house was mine and my sisters now - probably just rattled me a little - or a lot.

By the time I arrived at my dad’s house, I was sure that was the case, but I had to check. I nervously peeled the lid off of the container and was greeted by the sight of the milkman and the farmer rising unsteadily to stand at attention on the soft bedding of toilet paper - both of them staring up at me expectantly, their tiny eyes wide and mouths forming tight determined smiles. I smiled back a little shakily, feeling a little unsteady myself.

“Here we are guys.” I said quietly, while nervously looking around me to see if any of my father’s neighbors were around to see me talking into a margarine container. Thankfully, we were alone.

The house key opened the back door, and I walked into my childhood kitchen; the kitchen of my dead father. I felt nostalgia descend on me like a weight. It was a physical force all around me, up my nose, in my head, in my heart. The kitchen smelled like him - cigarettes, Brute aftershave, and very faintly - the sharp smell of the unidentified liquor he drank. I hadn’t been here for seven years and I really hadn’t missed it. It was almost exactly the way I remembered it, but just a little smaller, a little more bare, and a little more run down. I felt a bubble of sadness threatening to rise up in me. The feeling felt a little bit like vertigo, a little like desperation, and a lot like fear. I forced it down and tried not to think about it.

Across the kitchen I could see the door to his basement. It seemed warped by the weight of memories. According to my sister it was the door he’d burst through with the cat he’d killed and the son he’d broken. It was the closed door he hid behind for years - the door that kept him from us.

I felt a sudden sharp ache in my right side - a twinge that ran from my shoulder to my fingertips. I gripped the keyring as tight as I could with my weaker and smaller hand. Then holding the container securely in my left hand, like a small chariot with its tiny gladiators peering over the rim, I advanced through my father’s kitchen with the skeleton key extended before me like a sword. Walking towards the basement door and whatever waited behind it.

6
comment
1 point · 11 days ago · edited 11 days ago

Here’s a few that have helped me: 1. On Writing by Stephen King. He talks about his journey and has some practical advice for people breaking into the business. His tone is super personal, he’s a really likable dude, and it’s a fun and inspiring read without being cheesy at all. 2. Letters to a Young Writer by Colum McCann. It’s really personal book, written as a series of letters. It’s filled with beautifully written advice for writers of all ages. This dude can seriously write. 3. Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg. This book is really something else. It’s filled with the author’s thoughts on life, her craft, and she gives a ton of really thought provoking advice. She writes about writing as though it’s a spiritual journey and lifestyle. After reading this book, I saw how it is, or could be. After reading this I felt like I loved the author a little bit and I felt grateful to her for writing the book. Most of it’s written very conversationally, but there are parts in it that veer into the sort of beautiful prose that makes your eyes water.

Hopefully these help! Good luck!

8

I have a strange relationship with the city I live in. I moved here about 15 years ago and still don’t really feel as though I’m a part of it. I honestly don’t feel like I’m a part of anything. That probably means I’m the problem.

I’ve got problems. Sometimes, usually late in the night, I feel a restlessness, perhaps it’s anxiety, squeezing me. It flickers at the edges of my thoughts, a growing unease, a mounting despair. It’s a terrible feeling and when I get it, I have to do something, I have to escape it. So I walk around the city I live in; the city I am in, but not a part of.

I walk the empty streets, accompanied by my distorted reflection pacing me in the darkened shop windows. Sometimes I see the occasional cars sliding through the night, like sharks with glass stomachs. Inside them, I can see the ghastly faces of their prey, under-lit by dashboard lights, peering out.

Sometimes, in the early hours of the morning, I see other night walkers too. I don’t know their names, but we recognize each other. Perhaps we are fleeing a common enemy - ourselves. There is a heavyset woman with wild gray hair, an older man with a cane who walks with a limp, and a black man with a harshly lined face and missing teeth. We are figures all familiar to each other, but strangers to ourselves. All shambling to our own unknown destinations. We acknowledge each other with furtive sidelong glances, then our eyes, and we, slide away - going in our own directions and into our own darkness.

I am harmless I think. But my shoulders are wide, my hair and beard are unkept, and my eyes are black, and naturally squint. In the darkness, vibrating with the emotions that drove me out into the night, I seem to repel eye contact. Those I see, look away from me, walk faster, and even cross the street to get away. It perplexes me, but I am at the same time weirdly grateful. When I walk at night, I want to walk alone in an empty city. Other people I see, people seemingly as lost as I, are an imposition to my solitude. They remind me of myself, the person I’m trying to get away from. I don’t want them there, or at least I don’t think I do.

The city I live in is a college town and on the weekends, the downtown area is filled with people sitting outside of the bars, chatting, laughing, and drinking. To me, they all seem beautiful and interchangeable. They seem like the lifeblood of the city, and there is an open seating area - situated between a handful of restaurants and bars, that in my mind seems like the very heart of the city. The people there make it beautiful, and recently the city decided to beautify it further by commissioning a local artist to paint a mural on one of the walls facing the open seating area.

The artist is a local one - a skinny tattooed girl with huge eyes and pageboy bangs. I know her socially, we nod, smile, and wave in passing. I admire her industriousness, her work, and her mural.

Late at night, when the square is empty, I walk past the mural. It’s a cartoon collage of iconic things in the city. Buildings, a bridge, a local statue, and in one corner - four silhouettes sitting around a table - obviously they are a representation of the open area that the mural faces.

Originally, it was four outlined figures, but last week I saw that one of the figures was filled in. It was a painting of the wild haired woman that I’d so often seen walking late at night. Her hair was combed, and she was captured in the act of laughing - her head tossed back and one hand raised as if to cover her partially open mouth. I had stood by the mural, admiring the artist’s work. Perhaps she knew the woman that I had seen so often in passing. It was a fantastic portrait - much more detailed then the rest of the painting. I had tentatively touched the wall - the woman’s cheek. Under the bright colors I could feel the pitted texture of the brick. The paint had felt dry, smooth, and oddly warm beneath my fingers - and then I felt something twitch and give way beneath my palm. I had yanked my hand back, shaking it as though I’d been burned, and I stepped away from the painting - my palm and scalp still tingling. The woman in the painting laughed on silently, seemingly looking at me out of the corner of her partially closed eyes.

Four nights ago I was driven out into the night again by the feeling and I once more walked the dark and now emptier streets. I did not see the wild-haired woman, nor did I see the old man with the cane and the limp. But I did see that another figure had been filled-out in the mural. It was the old man in profile. He was sitting at the other side of the table, frozen in the act of pointing at the laughing woman. His cane wasn’t in the painting. Perhaps he no longer needs it. Between the two of them sat the remaining empty shadows - two blank human shapes. The old man seems to be saying something - beneath his large hooked nose his lips are caught in the act of shaping some unknown word. He actually looks as though he’s blowing an open mouth kiss at the laughing woman. Perhaps he is. I admired the mural and the additional detail of the familiar old man, but I admired it from a distance. I felt no desire to approach it. I did not want to touch it.

Last night, alone in my home, I had again felt the feeling, the unease and desperation that calls me out into the night. The streets were dark and completely empty now and although it was a hot night, or more accurately a hot early morning, I had felt my body break-out into a cold sweat as my feet, seemingly of their own volition, had carried me towards the mural. I didn’t want to go. I went.

I had stood a safe distance back from the mural and I saw what I expected to see. Three figures now, filled out in bright colors and amazing detail. The third figure, and latest addition, is the black man with the missing teeth and lined face. In the painting he’s smiling widely and his smile is perfect. The familiar lines around his mouth and eyes form deep creases - but the formally harsh natural lines have somehow been softened by the artist’s skill into something nearly beautiful. In the painting he’s holding up a drink loosely in one hand as though making a toast, and the other hand is held up, palm out, and fingers splayed, as if waving to the viewer - as if waving to me.

Between him and the woman, sits the sole remaining dark and empty silhouette. The outline of the remaining figure seems to be in the shape of a man with messy hair, a beard, and wide shoulders. It is still just a dark empty shape - but it is surrounded by its colorfully painted friends. Friends frozen in the act of laughing, talking, waving, and waiting.

In the dim lighting and to my tired eyes the dark figure seems like both a hole in the wall and a detached and separate shape floating in front of the mural. As I stared at it, it seemed to flicker and move. I had rubbed my eyes, backed away slowly, and I spun on my heel and went home. I told myself I didn’t hear anything moving behind me. And as I walked home I told myself that the dark shape flickering in my peripheral vision was my shadow. But as I walked, it seemed that I felt the mural, or something else, lightly, insistently, plucking at my hair and clothes, pulling at me, calling me back. I told myself it was my imagination. I almost believed it.

Tonight, when the city sleeps and the feeling comes, I will be ready. I will return, one more time, to the mural, its familiar faces, and the waiting table.

I think that I will stay there.

8
2 comments

Love your writting man, or i guess woman. Very captivating. Too drunk to explain, probably completely nullifies my conpletment but whatever keep doing you homie!

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Original Poster1 point · 13 days ago

Thanks!

"Have you got the bags?"

"Here."

"I fuckin hope that's enough."

"It's gonna have to be."

I take one last look in the rearview mirror. At the home I built. I put all those shingles on the roof, one at a time. I put all those windows in. Broken now, of course. I drove every screw into that deck, cut every board. Sealed the ends. Never would have expected I would leave it like this.

The glassy eyes of my mother-in-law stared up at me from her place at the bottom of the stairs, her mouth a frozen rictus of a smile. Her neck bent at the impossible angle that allowed her eyes to rest on mine. My son, my daughter, locked their eyes on mine from the back seat. Their tiny mouths a pair of hard straight lines.

Good. Small miracles.

"Everybody good? Anybody need to use the bathroom." Their heads barely move as they signal a no. Small miracles indeed.

"Honey." She's jabbing me, and I drag my eyes off the mirror. Off my children. Off my home. "Honey we need to go." She's right.

I press the gas. The engine doesn't hesitate to climb the small hill that was once my father. The back tires jump over him as well. One more glance in the rearview mirror, at what used to be, and we're out the driveway. We're gone.

My wife as never handled silence well. She tries the radio. Laughter. Laughter across every station. She turns it back off.

"Daddy?" A voice from the back calls out.

"Yeah Bug?"

"I have to pee."

I snort. A half choked laugh I manage to smother. I feel my wife's eyes on me, can plainly imagine the white of her knuckles as her grip tightens on the pistol in her hand. She knows the drill. If I can't reel it in she knows what to do.

I reel it in.

I cough instead.

"I'm sorry Bug, we can't stop now. That's why I asked, remember? That's why you're wearing the pull-up? I know you're a big girl now but-"

"I'm a big kid now!" She shouts from the back. And dammit she's so serious. I clamp down my mouth as tight as I can. My throat burning. I can see the same struggle, the same fear, in every line of my wife's body. The moment stretches out, and finally, mercifully, ends.

From the back, into the deafening silence, the most perfectly timed fart that ever was. That ever could be. That will ever be again.

And I lose it.

I pull over the car as the laughter peels itself free of my body, hardly able to see the road for the tears in my eyes. Slapping the steering wheel as something I've been holding back for weeks finally comes due. I'm hardly able to get a breath in before it's blowing back out again, and I'm so preoccupied with my own struggle I barely notice the screaming.

It's my wife again. Screaming at me, eyes wider than I've ever seen, and she's got this gun pressed against my head, right? And it's just so big in her little bitty hands. And she's screaming that I've got to stop. That I've got to stop or she's gonna have to shoot. And I know she doesn't have it in her. And she knows she doesn't have it in her. And I'm just laughing at myself for trusting her with this, you know? So I take the gun away.

And I just give her a little tap, you know? Little shot in the jaw. Because goddammit she should've known better. And her head just bounces off the window like a goddamn bobble head and that, my friends, is comedy so I do it again and again and a couple more times until she stops bouncing and I mean she isn't dead I'm not a monster or anything like that but she's like bleeding and she's kind of crying and the kids are absolutely LOOSING THEIR MINDS IN THE BACK AND I GUESS THEY'VE PROBABLY BEEN DOING IT FOR A WHILE CUZ THEY SOUND KIND OF HOARSE SO I POINT THE GUN BACK THERE TO SEE IF MAYBE THAT'LL GET THEM TO SHUT UP AND WHADDAYKNOW IT DOESN'T AND THAT'S WHEN MY WIFE LADIES AND GENTLEMEN GROWS A PAIR OF FUCKING BALLS OR SHOULD I SAY GRABS A PAIR OF FUCKING BALLS AND BY THAT I MEAN SHE GRABBED MY NUTS AND HAULED ON THEM LIKE SHE WAS TRYING TO LEAD A GODDAMN BREEDING BULL

And for the briefest moment it isn't funny anymore. The fear in the car, the screaming, the gun in my hand slick with the blood of the woman I love. I look down at that gun, my wife's free hand clawing strips of skin from my chest. The gun looks back at me. I wonder whether I've got the testicular fortitude to do what needs to be done.

If I've got the balls.

A chuckle bubbles up inside.

I do.

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Original Poster1 point · 15 days ago

Wow. Super dark and so well written. Great job.

4 points · 15 days ago

Almost makes you...

want to laugh...

never gonna give you up

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Original Poster1 point · 15 days ago

Never gonna let you down

Becauseisaidsotoo

u/Becauseisaidsotoo
I post typos, shower thoughts, writing prompts, and original stories.
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