Risqué

I stood at the back of the room, when the man and woman walked in. The woman was shouting.

“Her glutes aren’t showing, Simon. Stop seeing things.” The woman pushed the man away, and walked towards me while still talking to him. “The pose might be a little risqué. That’s all. But it’s our daughter’s best self-portrait. She wants it at the center of her birthday celebration, and she’ll have it.”

“Bethany, please,” the man put a hand on the woman’s shoulder, “let’s talk about this.”

The woman slapped the hand away. Hard. The flesh on flesh sound echoed through the empty parlor. When he reached for her again, she stopped and said, “There isn’t any talking to be done. Grow up, Simon! Our daughter is sixteen-years-old. She has the right to show some thigh, if that’s what she wants.”

“We don’t know, Bethany,” the man said, “maybe she—”

“There are no maybes here.” She left him talking to empty air. And wiping tears on the sleeve of her black suit, the woman closed the distance between us. “Excuse me,” she said, “you’re the event planner?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I extended a hand, “let me offer you my—”

“Never mind that.” She waved my words away. Her tears and her annoyance towards the man were covered by a bright smile. “My husband can’t agree with me on the details of the celebration.” She glared at him when he joined us. “Would you mind being the voice of reason?”

“Bethany,” the husband said, “don’t do this.”

“I understand now.” The woman laughed. “You know he’ll agree with me,” she said, pointing at my chest. “I’m right and you don’t want to hear it. Well, too bad.” She took a picture out of her suit’s inner pocket. “Let’s get this over with.”

The husband tried to grab the picture, but she had already put it in my hands.

“You tell me, sir.” The woman looked from my face to the picture. Then she turned towards her husband, and said to me, “Tell us.”

I didn’t look at the picture. My eyes were on the husband’s face. The dark circles under his eyes were wet and swollen. His lips were trembling.

I squeezed the picture between my fingers.

“He’s getting to you too, isn’t he?” The woman shook her head. “Just look at the picture. I made her that dress. I don’t understand the ribbons, but I made the dress. It was the only thing she asked for, so of course mommy made it for her baby.” She smiled and hugged herself. “It’s hand sewn. I had a business meeting I couldn’t miss, but I made the dress during the plane ride. On her birthday. But I don’t understand the ribbons.” She began to cry. “I don’t understand the ribbons. I don’t understand the red ribbons…”

“They told me she had to see it for herself,” the man said.

I nodded before lowering my eyes to the picture in my hands. A girl in a white dress floated in still waters. Tendrils of blood, that looked almost too red to be real, streamed out of her wrists.

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a wee note…
First published in 2013. I did a bit of editing, but nothing too drastic.
– Linked to Sanaa’s Prompt Nights: When shades of loss weave with pattern of madness.

photo-by-elena-kalis
photo, by Elena Kalis

Praying Him into an Angel

Death has a rather peculiar effect on the memory of the living… or more accurately put, on the way some of the living tend to remember those who are no longer breathing. I recall standing near my little brother’s coffin listening to people say things about him, which had nothing to do with who he was. The things they said were lovely and sweet and… total fabrications. I wondered, Why try to turn him into someone else? He was a good man—wild, and not as responsible as we wished him to be, but a good man nonetheless… The bit of fiction below was inspired by my feelings towards the whole situation.  

“Praying Him into an Angel”

“My own viewing and they have the cojones to glue my eyelids shut.”

I turned away from his casket. The voice behind me wasn’t familiar. But the ire-infused mirth in the words told my heart’s ear that the body being viewed by friends, family (and by pretenders trying to pass for the former) was only soulless meat.

“Want a spin?” he said.

“These bones were made for dancing,” I answered, but cocked my head towards the black and white teary gathering. “You know anything lively will piss them off right now.”

“Fuck ‘em,” he said, extending a hand and spinning me around and around, until I was clad in a blood-red dress with spaghetti straps and tiny polka dots sprinkled blackly around the hem.

Two young women, one in tight white leather and the other in very little of anything, began to argue over his casket.

“He loved me,” said one.

“In your heifer dreams,” said the other, snatching a handful of straight blonde wig.

He picked me up by the waist, and we leapt-danced into the middle of the fight.

“Tell her you loved me often,” said one.

“I did,” he told her with a grin.

“Tell her you love me best,” said the other.

“I did that, too.” He winked before gliding us out of reach of clawing shrieks.

“You are still a scoundrel,” I said.

“I died, but I’m still me. Always me, no one changes me without my permission. You should know that, brujita.”

“I’m a big one,” I said, as I always did when he called me little witch. Then I stopped laughing, and told him, “They’ve been trying to pray you into an angel.”

“Ha!” He twirled me closer to him. I grinned at his teeth made of light. “I would look ridiculous with wings. A flying Cadillac or no one’s getting miracles out of this baby.”

I was quiet for a while.

“Plotting, sister of mine?”

“Wondering about eyeballs and Universal Truths,” I said. “Someone told me I might be able to find my answer, if I were to look into the empty fullness of your eyes. Would you—”

He opened his eyes before I finished asking. “Anything for you.” His eyes were full of books, frogs, and skulls surfing powerful wee waves made of letters.

“What does it mean?” I said.

“I know what it means to me.” He tapped the tip of a finger of light between my eyes, then pressed a hand over my heart. “But only you can see through your eye.”

“Will I remember this when I wake up?” I said.

“And who said you’re sleeping?”

I blinked until my brother’s casket came back into focus. The funeral home was still bursting with black and crying. A pretty woman in a white leather suit and gold stiletto shoes jabbed a finger at a mirror image of herself in a micro mini dress. I grinned (and perhaps cackled), letting the words dancing in my mind’s eye spin and spin until they morphed into this story.

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the wee notes…
First published in 2014.
– All the characters that appear in this story are fictional… except the ones that aren’t *cough*.
– Linked to Sanaa’s Prompt Nights (That which we seek; deep within will find – “Identity”)

dancing-with-a-ghost-by-lucille-rusty-umali“Dancing with a Ghost”, by Lucille Umali