There’s something in my eye but it only shows up when I get home. hurts so much I have to keep it closed. Squint through the evening. Half-blind by the time I go to bed. My left shin itches, but only at my mother’s house. Right one at my father’s. At work, it’s stomach trouble. Queasiness. Then sudden panic.
Everywhere else, just a vague feeling of unease. Like ghosts whispering. Saying I don’t belong. Telling me I shouldn’t be there. No one likes me. Urging me to go back to my red swollen eye or raw skinned legs or two-ply.
Before they forced us all out, we told them about the caves and the rivers. How the little stick figures we wove from pine branches protected us from those within. They laughed. Called us names and said there weren’t such things in the known world.
“This isn’t the known world,” we said.
They pushed. Some of us bled. And many died. But we left, burning herbs and leaving hides and knives on the banks behind us. Tribute. Payment for passage. The newcomers laughed, carried our gifts to their huts. Huddled against winter.
We returned with the spring thaw. Found nothing.
Inspired by Sue Vincent’s #Writephoto.
They’d come from all over. Either dropping their banjos in the beets, beating their way down bad roads, dodging bulls. Or from street corners, denim pockets heavy with switchblades and pomade. Or from darkened doorways, making their way on the soles of their damned to hell feet. A few took the elevators down from the towers they’d since climbed, chauffeured there in air-conditioned luxury.
They married in a grey barn, so old it titled almost all the way over.
Those stuck outside pried the boards away, stuck their faces through, passing jars around all amicable.
Royal weddings didn’t happen everyday.
Dunn stumbled from behind the solitary stone in the scrubland when he heard the coach coming, and fell across the trail. Hollering, the driver reined the horses. They reared snorted and stomped their hooves inches from Dunn’s face.
“Hold on,” the guard said, dropping down from the stagecoach and cocking the hammer on his Winchester. He used the shotgun’s barrel to prod Dunn, and got no response.
“Shit,” he said. “Help me drag the bastard off the trail.”
They tossed Dunn in the brush and started to climb the coach.
Dunn sprung up like a rattlesnake, fanned his pistol empty.
Prompt courtsy of Sue Vincen’t #Writephoto.
Left alone, a man’s thoughts turn to vengeance.
Who cut who off on the way home from the fucking grocery store. That loudmouth broad outside the restaurant. That one asshole at work, who you shouldn’t think about, but sticks in your craw. Every dumb little thing that’s ever happened.
Left alone a little longer, a man’s thoughts likely turn to a bunch of ridiculous ‘what ifs.’ What if he’d done one dumb thing ,or another. Like that would’ve changed anything.
Fuck, he must think, looking over a lawn that refuses to grow in evenly, this fate shit must be real.
“So everything’s been about you lately.”
“It has? They have? Not sure which is right. How do I answer that?”
“I didn’t ask a question.”
“Sounded like you did.”
“That felt an awful lot like a question.”
“Are you asking me again, or are you just saying?”
“Just saying. But, if I was asking.”
“No. No. At least, I don’t think I am.”
“Not sure. Not really interested in the answer, I guess.”
“What? Same what?”
“I suppose I feel the same way.”
“About the answers?”
“Yes. The answers.”
He’d never cooked for them, she’d said, hollering from the shadows at the top of the stairs.
He’d never done much for the both of them. Cooking was just that day’s trouble. So after she’d gone and left, and he’d tired of the two restaurants between his office and the new apartment, he’d starting cooking.
After a couple of weeks of dry chicken, burnt steak, raw potatoes, and limp beans, he got the hang of it. And, turned out, actually loved cooking. He spent his afternoons dreaming of dinner. And his sleepless nights kicking himself for letting her get away.