Hot

Prompt: Memory

woman damaged_Fotor

Leep awoke, feeling too hot. He’d had that dream again. The too hot dream.

It was more a memory than a dream because Leep did remember it, it was real, that sharp fragment from a life he had mostly forgotten. But he couldn’t understand why it played on a loop in his dreams, over and over.

He was a boy, sitting on a chair behind a floor to ceiling plastic curtain. The curtain was white with a pattern of solid red circles struck through by solid red lines. The pattern made Leep uneasy— it felt unfinished, wrong, hostile, and it was all he had to look at.

But the coffee finished percolating. He heard the silence. So he stood, pulled the curtain aside and went to the counter where he unplugged the pot.

A woman sat at a formica-topped table. The table was edged with shiny, ridged chrome, and the pattern on the top was sky blue with white starbursts. She wore a starched white dress with sensible white shoes, badly scuffed and starting to wear at the heel.

The pot was heavy for a boy, but Leep was careful. He poured steaming coffee into the white porcelain cup set before the woman. She took a sip.

“Too hot,” she said.

And Leep awakened in the dark. He got out of bed, took his gun out of the side table drawer, and went into the hallway. He put his navy blue nylon jacket with the hood over his black pyjamas, pulled on his boots, and stuffed a dark woollen scarf into a pocket.

And he walked, in that perfect deep abandoned silence, through streets and alleyways and across parks, until his legs ached and he found himself in the parking lot of the hospital. He wrapped the scarf around his mouth and nose so only his eyes showed, and waited until a lone nurse, in a pink pantsuit with navy blue piping, emerged from the glowing light of the hospital’s east entrance and approached the row of parked cars.

He crept out from the shadows as she reached into her handbag for the keys to her car, a grey Toyota.

“Give me your wallet,” he said, as usual. “I have a gun.”

She was in her forties, plump, with frizzy ash blonde hair. She was Theresa, Anthony’s daughter, and Leep had helped her get her father home one day when he’d passed out on the bus stop bench. He hadn’t known she was a nurse.

She looked startled, but they all did.

She said, “Leep, is that you?”

Leep took the gun out of his pocket and pointed it at her. “No,” he said. What was he going to say? “Hey, how’s the old man?”

She had forty-five dollars in her wallet, and in the clear plastic slot for a driver’s licence she instead had a picture of a boy, about twelve years old, staring out from under a red baseball cap.

Leep threw the wallet as hard as he could, towards the hospital entrance.

“Go get it,” he said.

When Theresa turned, Leep ran. He took the back alleys, crossed parks now damp with dew, through shadows of dim unlit streets until he reached his house.

He felt sweat trickle down his torso and prick the back of his neck.

Too hot.

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The Right Person

Prompt: Broken


Hello Wednesday,

When I was a child of nine, I broke the big mirror on the bedroom dresser I shared with my sister– a mirror which partly covered a window– when I tried to open that sticky window. It shattered into a thousand pieces and took me and my mother a long time to clean it up.

My mother knew it was an accident and wasn’t angry, though every extra expense was problematic for my family in those days.

I wasn’t worried about the expense or my mother’s reaction. I was nine: I knew for sure that breaking a mirror meant seven years of bad luck. I did the math: my life would be a living hell until I was sixteen.

What happened was that I did think about it for seven more years. I fretted a little. I thought I recognized catastrophes related to the broken mirror. But mostly, I realized that superstitions are stupid AF.

I understand that this is not a brilliantly intelligent revelation, but it was to me as a child. I didn’t have to believe things. I could be critical. I could make up my own mind. After years of avoiding cracks on sidewalks, being repulsed by the thought of walking under a ladder, and touching wood with great solemnity, I was finally free!

Well, I throw salt over my shoulder if I spill it, don’t know which shoulder it should be but I do it anyway. And if it rains, I blame my partner for washing the car.

In the spirit of Wednesday’s prompt, broken, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, only the first of which is related to the theme?

cartoon 10 commandments

cartoon broken refrigerator

cartoon eye contact


See you tomorrow for Throwback Thursday. Have a wonderful week!

~~FP

The Long Days — Repost

Prompt: Pace Oddity
Prompt: Memorize

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I get up as late as possible, telling myself I will shower after work instead of before work. Makes logical sense.

I complete my assigned tasks. I’m a professional. The day drags, and I become weary of smiling and listening to the same banter, the same jokes, the same complaints and petty politics.

Once back home, a large drink is in order. I don’t feel creative enough to cook, but defrost something instead. We eat in front of TV, with a bottle of wine.

More wine, more TV, then finally, bed, where I dream I am the master of a herd of wild horses.

On the weekend, I sleep later. It’s physically very hard to drag myself out from under the cool white sheets and plump duvet. I meet friends for late lunch. There are jokes and banter, complaints and petty politics. But the pizza is filling. The glass of wine I drink with lunch makes me drowsy, and I nap, dreaming I am a time traveller.

I wake in time to make dinner. We had planned to go see a movie, but I feel a bit tired, so we have steak and salad at home. I’m not very hungry, but have a few more glasses of wine.

Finally it is time for bed. Finally. The day passes so very slowly, it is almost painful. I feel pricks of hurt, and aches in places there should be no aches. But at last, I can turn out the light, and return to my dreams.

__

For me, this is partly what depression feels like. The day passes agonizingly slowly because there is no joy in it. There is no connection, only numbness. Yet you have to meet and speak to people as if everything is perfectly fine; you have to perform everyday tasks as if they matter. There is only one real and meaningful thought: This will soon be over.

Some depression is triggered by an outside event. Sometimes, it is nothing but an inexplicable shift in your feelings of self and of others. People who are depressed can’t help it.

If you have such feelings, please speak to your doctor. There is relief for depression, whether it is counselling, medication, or a combination of the two.

If you recognize depression in a friend or family member, realize that pep talks don’t work. They need actual, professional help, and you can encourage them to seek help by pointing out there is no shame in depression, and that there is effective help available.

If the shadows grow too long, and the day passes so slowly that you are desperate to hurry the night, please call an emergency hot line. You can feel better.

__

  • Photo: Getty Images.

Makizmo

Prompt: Scent

broken-pottery

The last thing Deborah expected was the scent of Vincent. That is, the scent of his cologne, inhabiting her mother’s house like a coat of paint, assaulting her as soon as she walked through the front door.

She put the bottle of wine on the kitchen counter, where there was a note: Put cass in oven 325 back 6. Why did her mother have to write as if every character was as painful as plucking hair from the roots? It’s not as if she was busy, or even working anymore.

There was a clear pyrex dish on the counter, covered in foil. Inside looked like some kind of macaroni casserole. Leave the foil on or off? The note didn’t say. Deborah turned the oven to 325 degrees and put the casserole dish in cold. She glanced at the wall clock. Half an hour before her mother said she’d be back.

Deborah went to the cupboard, pulled out one of her mother’s china plates, and smashed it into the sink. She sat at the table and cried, drying her tears with paper towels. She carefully gathered up the delicate and unsalvageable shards of the plate and put them in the garbage can in the corner. She went into the bathroom and washed her face. She used the face cloth to scrub under her arms too, since the scent of Vincent caused her to sweat into her blouse.

Vincent smelled like lime leaves, musk, and burnt sugar. That was the fragrance, Makizmo, that he chose to wear, when he was alive. Deborah knew of no one else who wore it. Smelling it now made her think of Vincent’s arms— he was so proud of his well-toned arms, and was fond of tank tops even though Deborah thought they made him look rough and common. She thought of the way he bit her ear when they made love. She thought about his laugh, the way he threw his head back and there was just that moment of pause before the guffaw burst out. She thought about how he loved and missed his childhood dog, Chummy, and how that creature was the only sentimental topic in his repertoire. She thought about his body, his face shot off, the closed coffin at his funeral.

Vincent was gone. Deborah was on her own. She was recovering. She was back at work. She was able to pay the monthly mortgage on her little house, the one she had shared with Vincent, thanks to financial help from Uncle Al and her mother. She was moving on with her life, like every single person she ever talked to kept telling her to do.

And then her mother goes and lets Vincent back in the house.

Deborah went to her mother’s bedroom. The bed was hastily made. The scent was stronger here. She picked up a pillow and pressed it to her face. It was awash with the scent of lime leaves, musk, and burnt sugar.

She heard the front door open, and her mother call her name. Her mother, the whore who let Vincent into the house, who let Vincent sleep in her bed that day even though Deborah was to be her guest that evening.

She went to the bedroom window and drew back the curtains, throwing open the window to a gust of frigid air that raised goosebumps on her arms and neck. In a moment, she felt warm arms reach around her and pull the window closed again, then clasp her tightly, lovingly, silently.

It smelled like Vincent.

The Long Days

Prompt: Pace Oddity
If you could slow down an action that usually zooms by, or speed up an event that normally drags on, which would you choose, and why?

sb10067777h-001

I get up as late as possible, telling myself I will shower after work instead of before work. Makes logical sense.

I complete my assigned tasks. I’m a professional. The day drags, and I become weary of smiling and listening to the same banter, the same jokes, the same complaints and petty politics.

Once back home, a large drink is in order. I don’t feel creative enough to cook, but defrost something instead. We eat in front of TV, with a bottle of wine.

More wine, more TV, then finally, bed, where I dream I am the master of a herd of wild horses.

On the weekend, I sleep later. It’s physically very hard to drag myself out from under the cool white sheets and plump duvet. I meet friends for late lunch. There are jokes and banter, complaints and petty politics. But the pizza is filling. The glass of wine I drink with lunch makes me drowsy, and I nap, dreaming I am a time traveller.

I wake in time to make dinner. We had planned to go see a movie, but I feel a bit tired, so we have steak and salad at home. I’m not very hungry, but have a few more glasses of wine.

Finally it is time for bed. Finally. The day passes so very slowly, it is almost painful. I feel pricks of hurt, and aches in places there should be no aches. But at last, I can turn out the light, and return to my dreams.

__

For me, this is partly what depression feels like. The day passes agonizingly slowly because there is no joy in it. There is no connection, only numbness. Yet you have to meet and speak to people as if everything is perfectly fine; you have to perform everyday tasks as if they matter. There is only one real and meaningful thought: This will soon be over.

Some depression is triggered by an outside event. Sometimes, it is nothing but an inexplicable shift in your feelings of self and of others. People who are depressed can’t help it.

If you have such feelings, please speak to your doctor. There is relief for depression, whether it is counselling, medication, or a combination of the two.

If you recognize depression in a friend or family member, realize that pep talks don’t work. They need actual, professional help, and you can encourage them to seek help by pointing out there is no shame in depression, and that there is effective help available.

If the shadows grow too long, and the day passes so slowly that you are desperate to hurry the night, please call an emergency hot line. You can feel better.

__

  • Photo: Getty Images.