Late night tale

What will be your legacy?

The earth will continue to turn over as the day melts into the misty night of the lonely. The seasons, with all their trappings will parade through time like compartments on a train; heading for an unknown destination but one that feels familiar.

What will you leave behind Jack, to a world already brimming with forgotten stories? Of people who have already done things that you crave to accomplish. Your life sits in the valley of the forever reaching, watching the clouds pass that offer hope and rain.
He held the phone to his ear, the ringing echoing in his skull like a voice in a seashell. He drew a pattern on his shorts as he awaited the click, the delayed static before they spoke. Looking outside his window he could see the half-moon poking its jagged edge above the trees. The clouds fluttered over it, shielding its full brilliance and illumination. Holding back the hope, and the light that didn’t even belong to it. The moon was a thief after all, growing infamous off the sun’s illumination.

“Hello?” the voice answered, the tinge of annoyance already present.
“Hi, how are you?” Jack said, clicking his fingers. He was nervous and angry; which had always been a dangerous mix.
“Fine….” they replied before following with “…you?” God forbid they be rude to the others listening. God watches all after all.

Even the devil? Jack wondered in that moment, as the moon ascended the top of the trees now and glared fully for the first time.

“I’m okay thanks. I was wondering if you wanted to talk?” He asked, trying his best to sound inviting, make his voice something that would open up the soul that had shut him out for nearly a week now. He knew it was a stretch, his feigned reassurance always came across as hostile for some reason, like razorblades in candy bars badly hidden.

“Not really.” They replied. He could hear music down the line, cutting the awkward silence that would be building now like a monstrous hill.
“That’s a shame. I thought by now you would have had time to think, and perhaps something to say to me. You know, you’re not being very fair.” Jack said, his voice stayed level. He was annoyed, it had been going on too long now. The uncertainty was eating away at his impatience, combusting his state of mind.

“Well, I’ve kinda said it all already. What else is there to say?” No remorse, no softly spoken words to reassure. Just the cutting knife of the reality that he had feared all along. Did they know how many nights that week he had cried into the pillow that their head used to sink into?  The smell of their hair long since gone. It had been ages since they had stayed over. A month and a war in the space of their relationship which was now halting, wheezing and ready to collapse into the river of time that pulled all things away.

He wanted to shake their head and heart, unhook the kindness that seemed to have been placed behind iron walls and stony facades. He knew these words betrayed their real feelings. How many times had they said they loved him, how many times? Less than he had ever uttered a nasty voice spat inside his own head. His mind had been a petri dish of all ill thoughts and worse case scenarios this past week. Suspicion breeding like virus as self-doubt was on the rise.

“I want you to say, you’re sorry I guess.” He blurted out suddenly, regretting it instantly but proud somewhat he had said it at all.

“Sorry?! Me?” the voice replayed, taken aback by such an innocent requests which echoed unwelcomingly in their own private world of self-preservation and denial.

“Yes, you’ve not been kind to me. You know how I feel, and you know what buttons to push.” He said.

There was a long silence, the music in the background having been turned off momentarily before. The break hung like Christmas decorations in March, out of place and conjuring conflicting memories.

“I’m…I’m sorry Jack.”

He was surprised, then overcome with panic. It was the goodbye he feared. The closure they needed and the thing he had orbited around. He had given them the ticket to depart and leave him forever. A clear conscience can flee with ease, and freedom only helps you say goodbye.

How long he had stayed on the phone, he didn’t remember. They must have clicked off a while ago as the moon now indicated to him the night had come. The darkness was here, nothing more now, and the nights were to be cold and desolate.

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Elle va bien

ELLE VA BIEN

 

They jostled onto the train that had arrived with a clankering commotion at the station. The vaulted tiled ceiling of the underground station swirled with the sound of metal, tannoy announcements and tourist hubbub. They train had emptied somewhat, spilling out its human cargo which shuffled towards the luminous sortie signs, the basic words even foreigners understood. Ingrained from childhood French lessons and the trappings of travel. They were able to get seats as the train pulled away and snaked into the belly of the city, passing tunnels and bones of the long forgotten.

The seats were as hard as wood, worn down from millions of asses thankful of somewhere to rest for the short journeys between stations. They were heading down towards Saint-Marcel and thankful too to be getting away from the crush and pull of the touristy hotspots. They watched the other passengers engrossed in smart phones, conversations and anxieties of potentially going the wrong direction. Passengers on life’s train of happenstance.

Opposite them sat a lady, listening to her headphones and glancing off into the train. Looking, but searching for nothing. Her brown hair fell around her face, framing her like a motionless portrait typical of those seen meters above in the many museums dotting the city. She sat motionless, listening to her music as the train swayed and hummed down the line. The only movement was a collection of tears that suddenly began to build and breach, trickling down her face. They watched as she tilted her head down, blinking away the collection of tears and emotions that had appeared. One of them jabbed the other in the side, bringing attention to the scene before them in case it was not being seen or felt for the degree that it was. The audience of empathy which was required. He reached inside his pocket and took out a tissue, hoping it was clean. The crinkles indicated it had been with him all day, but looked devoid of anything unpleasant.

He reached across and gently touched her arm. She looked up, surprised. “Are you okay?” he asked, hoping his eyes spoke to a level beyond the language required. She nodded and mumbled words of appreciation, taking the tissue and dabbing her eyes. A small smile appearing at the corner of her mouth, her eyes shaking away an embarrassment that wasn’t necessary.

She looked above her finding the line map, a tiny yellow light indicated they were at Bastille. The train usually emptied a lot here, and she glanced around seeing those exiting and ones awaiting to board. Her hand found the phone in her pocket and she skipped the track on her music. Her mind was suddenly taken elsewhere as her heart skipped a beat, and the chaos around her ebbed away. It had never been ‘their song’, but it was always one that had reminded her of them. The lyrics so seemingly fitting for what they had, what had burrowed inside of her and warmed her soul. She did not notice the two guys sit down opposite her, the limited space between where their knees nearly met. She was off elsewhere, hearing laughter and smelling them on her bedsheets.

The train jerked, and though she stayed in her memory, it shifted along with the train. It had all crumbled, corroded only yesterday. Smashed liked a teetering tea cup on the edge of a kitchen counter. She could understand things not working right now, she could even acknowledge the arguing. But those had been usual relationship problems. To be told you were no longer needed, that you were no longer welcome in their life. That was what had hurt. She could deal with the packing up of possession and the moving on. Going into work the next day as routine propelled her forward. But she could not take the hurt that had ignited within, perhaps lying dormant for the inventible. That she was never the one, she could no longer make them happy. All that she had to offer, came up short. All those reasons she had told herself why she was inadequate rang out to be real in a horrible realisation of truth, a view she had shielded her eyes from, like looking at the sun. It had swallowed her, submerged her in a grey that clung to her like oil.

Putting on her work clothes, combing her brown hair. Seeing the day instead of cowering in her bed like she wanted. The feeling of detachment and lack lay upon her, making her feel that no one really cared for her in this world. If she turned up to work or not; nothing really mattered in a way. The tears welled and broke forth, streaming down her cheek in a warm river. She had forgotten she was on the metro. Her mother would have been ashamed to see her show such emotion in public, but she did not realise. Too consumed in grief and self-piety that she found herself deep beneath the streets of Paris on a Metro train that ran all day, every day. Until she felt something nudge her arm, softly yet foreign. She looked up surprised to see a small tissue and concerned smiles greet her. She nodded a thanks and was able to cough up “Merci, je vais bien,” and she smiled slightly, knowing it was true.

They grey was still within her, but in that moment a tiny part had turned to white.

Land of the free and the home of the brave

Her eyes flickered from the calendar on her desk to the phone quickly as the device in front of her rang out shrilly. She knew who it would be on the other end of the line, she pictured them, slumped against the phone booth while the hot July sun glared in through the tampered glass. Her arrangements were all unfolding as she had anticipated, each one of her children doing exactly what she had expected them too. All was coming together, there was just one thing left to arrange and this phone call, she hoped, would finalize that. She let the phone ring once more before lifting it from the cradle, placing it up onto her heavily powered face.

She did not speak, she waited for their voice.

“Mame?”

“Yes.” she said, curtly.

“It’s all arranged. She said she will be there for the 4th of July.”

“Good, thank you Perkins. She is aware of the situation I trust?”

“She is aware yes. She wasn’t surprised at all, but it’s strange as she…” He began, but was interrupted.

“Excellent. See to it that money is arranged also.” She said, and hung the phone back quickly into the cradle, her mind now dancing over the weekend arrangements.

In a phone booth in downtown Boston, Robert Perkins held the phone to his ear, trying to hear against the traffic which sped past him outside his glass shell. He heard Veronica Van-Black, his employer, hang up the line her end; yet he finished off his sentence that he had begun, as if trying to figure it out still himself.

“…it’s strange, she said she was already there.”


This fourth of July, come and spend the weekend with the Van-Blacks who will delight you with wit, suspense, good food, séances and murder. A good time to be had by all, except maybe one.
Keep it together – out now in paperback and eBook. More stories here.

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I’m Out

Standing there waiting to get rich.
Capturing snowflakes and copper cultures.
Pulling at the loose threads of humanity as the earth boils.
Wake, work, repeat on a set shift.
Eyes blinking into obscurity and conformity.
Waiting for the computer to load and the phone to glow.
An alien iridescent-ness which steals your soul.
A final broadcast will not be aired.
Turned down your voice as they block out the sun.
Brick bones that build a city of sad sapphires.
Sparking in the ruins of a Midas dream.
Leave your stuff off me.
Unhook the claw of the social disease.
I disconnect and disappear, logging out of sociopathic media.
Where you capture nothing but a sad slow demise.
I run naked, like in a rainstorm.
Bathed in the sulphur from the solar wind.
Running away from your ivory nightmare.
Leaving the broken cage behind.
I’m out.