Tag Archives: death

One Step

Two Women by Egon Schiele The author died in 1918, so this work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 90 years or less.
Two Women by Egon Schiele
The author died in 1918, so this work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 90 years or less.

Tipsy Lit: Prompted: Risky Business   ·

For this week’s prompt, the theme is taking a big risk….

Adrenaline tickling my body, I crossed from one landing to the other. My ecstatic screams subsided only when I reached the other side.

It was Jeima’s turn. Others were teasing her. She had let her turn pass a few times, and watched many of us walk on the thin rail to the other roof, probably telling herself it was not a big deal, that it was one straight step she had to take after another. Had she not, so many times before, practised walking on a straight line on the pavement, pretending to be walking up in the air, with everyone watching and marveling at her courage from below, their eyes reduced to thin lines with the sun shining just above her?

Sometimes we played the acrobat game together, imagining we were world famous artists, walking on ropes above all city chaos, defying gravity, smiling and shining with the confidence we gathered from the inaudible applause below our feet shaking buildings with its intensity. Brunette Rebellion, the name we had chosen for ourselves, rebelled against gravity and fear!

I saw her, with her arms already lifted, balancing her weight, although she had not yet taken a step towards the edge of the roof. She seemed tense, much more different from her jolly, mocking self in our games.

I looked all the way down, focusing on the half of my foot resting emptily on the nothingness between the roof top and the grey pavement 7 floors below.

I imagined the one slight moment when I would push my foot forward and place it on the emptiness. It was as if I could keep walking to the other side where Jeima was still waltzing one foot forward one foot backward, trying to find the courage for the big adventure. It was as if all would unravel like in cartoons, where the character does not fall until it notices it has exhausted the cliff and is standing over a huge gap.

I wondered what difference it would make, my landing on the pavement and never getting up. I wondered what would change for the tiny people rushing in between tall chaotic buildings…

I wondered how my parents would feel and what would change for my friends, whether they would ever come back to this rooftop and carry on with their daring games.

A dress with dark hair rustling and dancing against gravity passed through the corner of my eye, followed by a thump.

And I received the answers to my questions.

People on the streets without a second to waste would quickly gather and stand still around my body. My parents would lose all motion in their body, maybe to go back to a time when they could hold me from climbing up to the roof top.

My friends would never visit the rooftop again, and the fun teasing would be diminished to an unbreakable silence.

I know all this, because it all happened when Jeima stepped quietly away from the cliff.

Word Count: 502

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Fresh Dirt

Women Riding a Donkey by Modesto Teixidor y Torres This work is in the public domain in those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 80 years or less.
Women Riding a Donkey by Modesto Teixidor y Torres
This work is in the public domain in those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 80 years or less.
Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge:
Fifty-Word Inspiration: This week, find inspiration in fifty words. Use a fellow blogger’s response to a previous challenge, “Fifty,” as a springboard for this week’s post.

I saw fresh dirt and made a move to touch it.

I saw the hand underneath and tried to hold it.

I heard his voice and responded.

Then silence followed and I was left with no hand to hold or voice to listen to. He was gone, I was left behind…

Wordcount: 50, pure luck!

My first go at ultra flash fiction.

After the War Part 2: She was a good mother

Madame Augustine Roulin With Baby by Van Gogh The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Madame Augustine Roulin With Baby
by Van Gogh
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

On a sunny day, on my way to the shop, I passed by the garden I admired for the lavish green it enclosed. On that day, amidst the leaves and trees, there were sorrowful faces. After so many years, the three orphans were once again gathered under the same roof. Yet this time the woman who had gathered them was in a wooden box they were carrying towards a pit in between the shrubs.

Years ago, the woman in the box had taken them in one by one and offered them a home. Now, after a long time, they were together, thanks to her.

Of the three orphans, especially the girl had left an impact on my memory. I remember clearly the day she was brought to the old woman’s house. Her large dark eyes were shining with fear on her tiny face where tears had made pathways through dried up blotches on her cheeks… on the cheeks that had known nothing but caresses until that day. She looked tired and small in worn out dusty clothes.

I probably remember her so well because of her mother.

Years ago, her mother came to my shop with red puffy eyes. I had seen her around a few times but never had a chance to start a conversation. My shop had been a popular spot the townspeople liked to frequent. They were eager to spend their newly acquired wealth on goods they had never seen before.

Once the war broke out, my customers dwindled. So did the supplies delivered to my shop and I was left with considerable time to listen to stories.

On one such day, she entered my shop with swollen eyes. I asked her if she would like to sit down. She responded with tears and her story that had brought her there. She poured out the string of events one after another with the insatiability of those who are overwhelmed by an accumulation of experiences they cannot quite make out what to do with. She needed to hear them herself by speaking them out loud.

Thus, she began talking. She had moved from her family’s home where she had spent her whole life to our town a few months ago with her husband whom she had met only a month before their wedding. At her new dwelling, in between the alien surroundings, she had to learn to share everything, from her food to her bed, with a complete stranger. So to learn, she watched. She watched this man until all terrifying strangeness about him became a source of comfort. She observed him up to the point where a new life in a new town did not appear so daunting as long as he was present.

Then, a few days ago her husband had left to join the fight and she had lost the only person she knew in this town she had moved to for his sake.

From that day on, I became her confidante for the next three years. I was there when she received news from the front. I held her hand when she found out her home town had been hit by a deadly attack. I was by her side when she came to the realization that she would not be receiving any news from the front anymore. I reassured her as gunfire approached closer day by day.

I was also there when she found out she was going to be a mother. I witnessed her joy when despite everything, she told me about her dreams and hopes for the little bean growing in her.

At a moment when she had no one left, she was eager to embrace her child, to reformulate her existence and grow roots strong enough to hold them upright whatever may strike their little family. I knew, in spite of the war, the dirt, the destruction of everything good, she was ready for her child. Despite the ugliness of fast approaching blood thirst, she wanted to bring her baby up to be aware of others, thoughtful, sensitive and with belief in a safe future.

I knew she was ready to give everything for her little child. I knew it from the way she wrapped her little baby’s hands around her fingers. I knew it from the way she considered tomorrow, and from the way she thought about years to come. I knew it from the way she held her child when her house was destroyed in an air raid and from the way she was holding her little girl when the bullet hit her. I knew it from her dried blood on her daughter’s face when the little girl was rescued from under her lifeless body.

Now, looking at the young strong woman’s sad face in the garden, standing by the grave of another who brought her up to adulthood, I cannot help but think of that friend who felt strongest holding her little daughter.

Word Count: 824

After the War Part 1: Love in a Pizza Slice

Painting by: PeterKraayvanger Source: http://pixabay.com/en/watercolour-painting-summer-flowers-75123/
Painting by: PeterKraayvanger
Source: http://pixabay.com/en/watercolour-painting-summer-flowers-75123/

Her wrinkled hands skillfully whisked the little bit of flour with ground oatmeal and water to prepare the dough for the pizza. We were three kids left at her care, each with the same expectation expressed in a different ingredient.

“I want onions!”

“I prefer carrots!”

“I like beetroot!”

All of us had chosen a different vegetable she grew in the tiny patch on what was left of her once voluptuous garden.

If she mixed all ingredients, none of us would eat anything that day and we would be hungrily whining around her until bedtime.

Were she to choose only one of the ingredients, the other two would definitely sulk complaining they were not loved enough to get the pizza of their choice.

Thus, carefully measuring with a ruler, she divided the dough into three parts, forming the Mercedes logo on the round baking tray.

She meticulously added the exact same amount of each topping, making sure to use the same measuring bowl so that none could have any reason to protest.

The baking tray holding three different ingredients on one pizza was delivered from the oven to the table we had gathered around. The smell of freshly baked dough wafted through the house after so many months watering our mouths and raising a pitch higher the rumbling in our tummies. As soon as we impatiently bit our slices of pizza, our tongues burnt and we were happier than ever.

In a time when rations were hard to get hold of, with the little she could produce, she had created a pizza with ingredients we were free to choose from. With that pizza, she had made us feel equally loved and very much valued by paying particular attention to our choices. Most important of all, by letting us know that despite everything, there was someone to answer our needs, to ensure that our share was duly noted and provided for, she had made us feel secure.

Many years later, I went back to the house. I put a scarf around my head and followed the two middle aged orphans I had shared a patch of my childhood with out of the old house where each of us had eaten a small slice of the thin bread while shards flew through the broken windows and bullets wheezed nearby.

Walking behind the wooden box, I stared at the once barren garden I used to watch with my child’s eyes. New colorful vegetable patches had been added over the years and trees had grown thick and strong yielding fruits under quiet sunny skies. In the middle of the lush foliage, while they lay the white cloth wrapped around her at the bottom of the freshly dug pit, all I could think was a yearning for a potato pizza with the aroma of onions and beetroots mixing in between every bite.

Word Count: 477

Meaning of Life and Man

I have spent years chasing the tail of my darkness. I cannot catch my past, like a dog trying to get hold of its tail, seeing its tip, I see the tail wiggling, making fun of me, but whenever I am about to get hold of it, whenever I am close to catching it, understanding the mystery, bringing some light to the darkness, it goes further away, mocking me, making a fool of me…

So I carry on further through days and nights…

I have met many people on my way, some were old some were young, some were slow, some were fast, but I have never spent enough time at one place to make real friends, to share a drink, a moment that could last forever, a moment immortalized like a painting in memory.

I have felt closer to some, though, and more distant from others. I have had some children, here and there but never stayed behind to watch them survive. I could not have stayed… I had a tail of darkness to chase… a world of wonders to figure out. Did I wish I could stay?… I am not sure… This life of wandering, hours, days, weeks of wandering, hoping to find out what life had in store for me consumed me, made me restless… I believed I could figure it all out only if I kept on, and saw what was hidden in the dark.

I had no one to ask about my past, to direct my questions… I never knew my mother or father… I never knew where they had met, how they had decided to conceive me… Probably they had acted on an impulse, a raw urge to copulate rather than a thoroughly designed plan for the future. Much like the way I came to be a parent, I assume. Probably, they did not brood much over it, and followed their instincts, their inner drive to be close to someone, to feel fluid with another.

Probably I followed in their foosteps without even knowing them, and most probably my children are no different. Probably, my past is nothing but a vicious cycle, a ferris wheel that returns to its starting point, sooner or later and over and over…

I wonder how similar my children have grown to be, how much a part they are of this cycle… I wonder if they are on an endless quest for answers… An endless quest to understand why they are the way they are… Why they do what they do… Who they are… I wonder if they ever wonder about me… I wonder if they feel abandoned like me, or accept it as part of life and move on. Moving on endlessly, slowly…

But I am certain, soon I will find an answer to all my questions, soon I will know why this darkness haunts me, why I cannot stop moving, why I cannot break out of it, why I am alive, and what my existence holds for the world, what it means to-

 CRACK! SQUASH!

Without even bothering to look at the snail and its philosophical quest he had just obliterated under his foot, the man walked on counting the money he had earned gambling.

The first line of this week’s Speakeasy challenege was to write a piece of fiction of 750 words or less starting with “I have spent years chasing the tail of my darkness.” and making a reference to Paul Cezanne’s painting the Card Players.

The Waiting

He looked at the clock on the wall. A toilet flushed upstairs. With his eyes, he followed the water flowing through the pipes in the walls. She used to hate this sound. She would say: “We are living in their sewage!” To him, it was relaxing like the sound of waves. However, now the sound of the water only reminded him of the emptiness of the house, with every drop resonating in the hollow rooms squeezed in between the walls.

He looked at her shoes. The pair of shoes she had worn every single day of the last ten years. They were torn at the edges. One of them had a hole on the sole that she had tried to cover with a piece of felt. She loved those shoes. It was part of her daily routine to polish them every evening. The more her shoes shined, the greater the dignity she emanated as she walked.

Being presentable and clean was of utmost importance to her. That is why no one dared to say anything when her vision deteriorated and she could no longer detect the stains on her shoes. Bits of blotches began to accumulate on everything she used to clean. Cleanliness, her signature, began to wear off as the smell of dust and old wooden furniture grew.

The dishes also carried the impact of her weakened eyesight. Bits of grease appeared on the rims of the plates. Whenever he ran his hands on the once smooth china, he would feel the grease forming bumps here and there. Yet, he never uttered a word to her about it. He knew she needed to believe in her abilities as a home maker. As long as no one made a remark about dirt lingering on the kitchen counter, there was peace in the house. As long as she kept the house running, they were reassured that they could carry on.

The fact was that things had not been going quite smoothly but he did not care. The only thing that mattered to him was that they were making it through the day together. One would find what the other had lost. One would remember what the other forgot. One would provide what the other could not.

In the last couple of years, however, what each could do had diminished, and they had learned to live with less. They had been shopping lighter since neither had the strength to carry heavy bags. With their bones losing their mass, high shelf tops were no longer among the parts of the home they visited often. Many photographs and letters placed on top shelves years ago had become parts of their lives rarely remembered, forgotten among papers turned yellow.

The clock rang eleven o’clock. He boiled an egg for lunch and sat to eat it with tomatoes and bread. He did not have much appetite anymore. He did not know much about cooking anyway, with her having taken care of meals ever since they had moved into their first home together.

During lunch, he had a look at the newspaper. He did not read about the country politics anymore. Politics, he deemed, were for those who still had the energy to believe in seeing the outcomes of changes. Nor was he interested in classified ads. They were for people eager to make a fresh start with a new car or a new apartment. He read third page news about lonely old people vandalized in their homes by young drug addicts for silverware in cupboards. He always checked the weather report to decide whether to put on another cardigan and of course he loved crosswords.

Until four o’clock, he did the crosswords. At four, he got up from his sofa, of which the seat had sunk under years of weight, and placed his dinner on the stove. He looked up at the clock on the wall. With each minute the minute move of the handles echoed in the house. The shoes of his late wife were by the door, shining under the dust with the polish she had last applied. The toilet flushed upstairs, and he watched the water flow through the walls.

 And he waited…

Driverless Bus 2: Crying Man

“It’s been months since someone called me dad.”

I heard a crying man mutter at the abandoned city center, kneeling by a deep crater on the ground where it had all started.

Had it been a few months earlier, had I not held the cold dusty hand I had found under the relics of the house where I grew up, and seen the woman who had catered for my every need, who had always held my hand with greatest affection, had I not seen her eyes half shut blood oozing from ears; had I not watched my boyfriend, the man who had brought hope and happiness to me, an escape from every stinging loss I would feel trying to make it through the day, had I not watched him disappear as a crater similar to the one the man was kneeling by opened on one of the busiest streets, I could have empathized with him. I could have knelt by him and cried with him for his loss with greatest sympathy, but the energy I needed to mourn was consumed. I had none left for compassion.

Thus, I followed a stranger I had met a few months ago by a bus and looked away from the crying lonely man…