Dan

Rise

When some of us wake into the white, it is with a grand portent, like surfacing from a lake in a fairy tale. Emerging fully-formed from a prophecy of hope, we awake into the shining world with the innocence of babes. We slept knowing that when we woke, the world would already be prepared by the sacred spells. Ready for us to enjoy. As if we had gone to sleep with a terrible curse, being blessed by a wizard, knowing that when we finally woke that particular curse would be lifted.

Not all curses, though.

When others among us wake into the white, it is with a pit of dread in their stomach. These were the watchers along the journey; not fully awake, but in a dreamlike state, they have one by one taken the watch as we gradually traveled over the stretched-out millions of years. The growing black beauty of the final approach has shaken them to their ghostly cores, just like a sudden nightmare accelerating in the moments before waking.

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Dan

Cold Start

A distant line of trees shivers in the same morning wind. The cold takes his pen and steals his ink, so that he huddles closer to the brown grasses below, still shaking, still feeling like death. No time left to warm under his stare, no feeling from sun to core.

“I can’t practice what I can’t do, without anyone left to listen,” he says.

The horizon murmurs voicelessly, up and through the all-consuming hum of the angry dirt.

“No; yeah, it’s no use to worry now, but my stomach won’t stop twitching anyway. It don’t listen to me.”

The dry blades of grass feel his eyelids flutter, tickling them.

“We didn’t know. I swear. Damn it! We didn’t know…”

“Hmmmmmmmmmmm,” says the ground.

“Never be sure what happened, anyway. Probably wasn’t my fault,” he says. “How come I haven’t frozen yet?”

“Hmmmmmmmm.”

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Jenifer

Talking about the Elephant

So this is a short piece i’ve been working on for years; writing dialog is one of my favorite things to do although i haven’t the technical knack. But try, try again…

Talking about the Elephant

Jenifer R Thompson

They sat in the dark bar and chain-smoked Camel Lights trying to forget the summer furnace outside; sweating in front of them despite the air conditioner working overtime were pints of Stella Artois .
“So how come you never told me about this before?”
“I don’t know. It wasn’t the time; I wasn’t ready.”
“So…why are you telling me now?”
“Because it doesn’t matter anymore. I’m tired of hiding the past and sometimes I think it’s funny it happened to me.”
Waiting for the rest, he watched her as she absently brushed an errant hair off her forehead, finally he said,
“I’m glad I didn’t know. I probably would have made things worse.”
She shrugged. The bar was empty; just the two of them and the bartender who sat on a stool farthest from the front door and did a crossword puzzle. The jukebox played Miles Davis’s ‘Autumn Leaves’.
He sighed,
“I can’t believe you stayed with him so long”.
“I was embarrassed, I couldn’t bring myself tell anyone; and where was I going to go if I left? The worst part is I believed him, I believed it wouldn’t happen again…I mean, this was me. That kind of stuff didn’t happen to me.”
She glanced sidelong as he lit them both another cigarette.
“I should have know. I should have guessed what was going on”
She jerked around and looked at him,
“Why would you have?”
He stared at the bar as if mesmerized by the beer sweat rings,
“I just should have known. He was such an arrogant ass”,
“Really? You liked him, at least at first. You played video games, compared notes on cigars, and drank gin as if you both had discovered it. We all had fun together, he wasn’t always bad; just if we drank too much and he felt threatened. He loved me,” she trailed off with another shrug.
“Don’t justify. He doesn’t deserve that.”
She blew smoke rings at her reflection in the back bar mirror,
“Sometimes I miss him, that’s the craziest”
“He didn’t deserve you.”
Tension and unspoken thoughts swirled with the cigarette smoke. The bartender looked up at the sudden silence, asked if they want another; mutual nods brought her quickly to empty the ashtray and refill glasses. She asked what they were up to while the beer flowed and foamed.
“Just two old friends sharing war stories; picking at scars.”
The bartender nodded, took eight dollars from their pile of ones, and returned to her puzzle.
He took a long drink,
“So…anything else I should know?”
She smiled and lightly touched his hand, their first contact all day. He turned in his stool so his leg brushed hers.
“Did I ever tell you about the Tuesday my roommates and I skipped school, called in sick to work and dropped acid?”
“I’d better buy another pack of cigarettes.”

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Jenifer

Flash Fiction

Magic Trick by Jenifer R Thompson

So he said, “Hey let me show you a magic trick.”

She nodded and waited.  He picked up his drink took a long swallow, then picked up his coaster, looked closely at it and set it down.  Finally, he picked up his beer and took another long swallow.

“Well?” she said

He looked at her smiling, “that was it.”

“What was it?”

“The magic was you being fascinated by me for one whole minute.”

“That’s not very funny.”

“I wasn’t trying to be.  I would have said, ‘want to see a joke if I were’.”

They sat and watched the bartender polish wine glasses.  He held each up to the light to make sure there were no spots.

“The irony is that this bar is so dark no one would even notice a spot.”

She sighed, “I’m going home”

He took another drink of his beer and waited.  She sighed again and took another sip of her wine.  She was drinking Malbec and had had so many her teeth were turning purple.  Perhaps there was still love between them, but if so it was too far down the crevice between them, they did not notice.

She spun around on her barstool twice, and then wobbled to a stand.

“Where are you going?”

“To the bathroom.  Pay our tab and let’s get out of here.”

He took on big swallow and finished his pint, “Hey Chad, we need to get out of here.”

“What are ya doing?”

“Don’t know, she wants to go home.  What time you done?”

“Depends, 11 or 12, want me to call you?”

“Sure, I’ll probably be up.”

She came back, finished her wine in one drink, grabbed her coat, and walked out, saying “Bye Chad” over her shoulder.

“Nice girl”

“Yeah, whatever.  Call me.”

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