A noise woke Tennison up.
His eyes, slits, in his dirty, sunburned face, surveyed the camp. The fire’d grown low. A popped knot, maybe, he thought. Not quite convinced, he set back to sleep. But something kept him awake. He listened, keeping his breath regular as best he could. The fire went to coal. Then ash. Movement, to his right. His hand moved slow under the blanket, working the iron from his holster. In one quick motion, he threw the blanket and fired until empty.
The midday sun woke Tennison up. His eyes, slits, in his bruised and swollen face.
Deer’s mother told her she was too pretty to write poetry. People wouldn’t believe any of her pain, they’d toss her words aside. Wondering how anyone that beautiful could be so tormented.
“But that’s how I feel,” she said, shoulder keeping her bedroom door closed. Her mother paced the hall.
“You only think you do. You’re a cheerful girl.”
Deer slide down the door and pulled her knees in. Faintly, from somewhere else, she heard glass clinking.
“Men don’t want to date someone with a stack of dreary poems,” her mother said, back on the other side of the door.
Folk singers throwing fits in the backrooms of coffee houses because the barista used soy instead of almond milk in their latte and then go out front and sing about the troubles of the working man to university students riding waist-deep in debt and snapchat pictures of tits and dicks. Strumming on an out-of-tune acoustic guitar, sold by Sears-Roebuck fifty years previously and passed down from generation to generation of pawnshops, since the original owner gave up on his dreams of playing music and followed his father to work in the local paper mill.
Until it closed ten years later.
That’s not who she was. Not anymore. She watched her reflection smooth down her hair. Straighten her blouse’s collar. Wipe the corners of her eyes and mouth. Such a hateful letter. She’d read it three times, trying to recognize the hand writing. But the words blurred as the tears welled, and she thought of all she had, and everything she could lose.
“Spite,” her reflection said, lips curling up, and nose crinkling.
No. She’d decided.
The keys were in her husband’s night stand. The lockbox in the closet. The gun, heavier than she expected, but its weight a sudden comfort.
Prompt courtesy of the Daily Post.
Wildfires tumbled down from the hills, filled the canyons with flame and smoke and ash thick enough to choke. Bill saddled his best pony and loaded supplies on the next best, and opened the gate for the rest. Figured, free they might have a fighting chance.
Flames at the fence post, by this point, he struck west, hoping the reach the river, riding fast, not looking back to the ranch, not wanting to see it go. But then not caring one way or the other. Been meaning to leave, last few years had been awful lonely, since his wife passed.
The night the stars fell, we stayed out in the yard watching, until the last one dropped. We expected noise. But they fell quietly, landing in some distant ocean. “That’s not how stars work,” we thought, blankets tucked around our legs, sitting in the plastic lawn chairs, in a neat row along the alley with all the neighbours. “This isn’t right.”
No matter what we knew, or believed, they fell, dropping straight down, their lights extinguishing as they entered the earth’s atmosphere. We stayed out, and as it got darker, we both started to wonder if the sun would rise.
Go on, you won’t do any better, but neither can I, I guess. Is that what you meant when you said so much of me was about me? How many sentences have I spoken with a comma between two self-referential pronouns? Did you keep count? I wouldn’t be surprised. You were always pretty. Petty. I meant petty. Petrified. If I had to describe how I felt and since you asked, I will.
You wanted repentant? Sorry. Is it too late? Can we pretend I said that? I’ll end up feeling that way eventually, when the fear washes away, I guess.