Always

The muddied uniformed woman walked into my kitchen, a steel cup of congealed redness in her hand. She tried to pour it into the sink.

I shook my head.

She sat on the floor, resting her head against my right thigh; darkened blood, flowing from her left ear, seeped through blue denim to chill my skin.

I rubbed my arms.

“Cold?” my fiancé said, frowning at me from across the table.

I glanced down at the woman.

Setting his fork down, he walked by her to stand behind me. “I’ll give you privacy.” He kissed my forehead, nose, lips… and spoke a soft “I love you” into my mouth.

“I need to clean up,” I said, after my fiancé left the room.

“Sorry,” the woman said.

“No need to be sorry.” I headed towards the bathroom.
.

I pulled my t-shirt over my head, and walked into the shower with my bra and jeans on.

Through the semitransparent shower curtain, I watched the woman sit cross-legged in front of my tub; her eyes fixed on the contents of her cup.

Once all the red had washed out, I struggled out of the wet clothes and wrapped myself in a towel.

The woman was trying to empty her cup in the toilet bowl. “Please,” she said, her marred hand extending the cup my way.

“You need that,” I told her.

“No,” she shouted, standing up and rushing through the door.
.

Hours later, the sound of steel landing hard on wood startled me awake. I smelled the woman. Keep your eyes shut. Think her away. But that never worked. I opened my eyes slowly, and rays of moonlight trickled through the bedroom window to outline the woman’s eyes—full of tears, blood and dirt, and just inches from my face.

I screamed.

My fiancé jumped out of bed. He knew not to touch me when I was like that. He called my name, from three feet away. “Look at me,” he said. “See me. I’m with you.”

“I see you. I’m okay.” My heart pumping wildly, my eyes averted from the woman and her silvery cup of blackened blood on my nightstand.

“You scare me sometimes,” he said, lying next to me.

“I scare me all the time.” I managed a grin.

“It’s frightening when I call your name, and your eyes are listening to things thousands of miles away. What if you stopped seeing me? Or… stopped loving me enough to want to see me at all?”

“I love you everywhere,” I said, “all the time.”

“Why?” He asked infinite questions with that word.

Wondering if he truly didn’t know, I said, “Because you ground me. You help me hold myself together. You know how to kiss my screams into song and fuel the bright that balances my dark. You remind me how amazing it is to be me. I’ll never stop loving that.”

He pressed his face between my breasts, and breathed.

I held him; and watched my eyes watch me, from a clean face, a torch overflowing with light in my healed hands.

.
Inspired by “Always”, winner of From Blackout Poem Bit to Flash Fiction or Full-Length Poetry, 2; because there was a tie between poetry and fiction, I let Shelle’s comment make the final choice, and went with fiction. She suggests “‘Always’ is so perfect as a stand alone [poem], delicious word food already, without needing the extra aioli…”.

a wee note on tardiness and stuff:
I’m a day late… and 200 words over my self-set limit of 313 words or fewer. The first was unintentional; I had an appointment that left me exhausted, and ended up taking a nap that lasted about 5 hours too many. The second bit was the cup’s fault… I’m not exactly sure where the cup came from… But once it got into the tale, it wouldn’t go away without morphing into something it liked—you know cups, my Luvs, stubborn like bloody mules.

Antique Always (Snape)
“Always” (quote from Snape, in Harry Potter) Antique Style Bronze Ring

via

Be Human

Her sister entered the apartment with burglar’s stealth.

April got out of bed, walked to her bedroom door, and stopped when she heard a voice that wasn’t her sister’s. May Sullivan, there might be hope for you yet. It was almost midnight, and her sister had company.

Grinning, April pressed an ear to the door.

“…don’t know about that,” May whispered.

“She isn’t good for you,” responded an unfamiliar voice.

“Kiley, you’ve always been biased when it comes to my sister.”

“Not biased, sweetie. Everyone knows your sister. She won’t help you find the courage that will allow your husband back into your life. Sharing a space with her will hurt—”

April opened the bedroom door. “My sister and I shared a womb for nine months, Kiley sweetie, and we survived just fine.”

“I should leave.” Kiley stood up.

“You should.” April walked across the living room and opened the front door.

Kiley rushed out.

April slammed the door closed.

“That was uncalled for,” May said.

“Uncalled for?” April got in her sister’s face. “That woman wants you ‘to find the courage’ to forgive the bastard who put the horns on you for two fucking years. That’s uncalled for!”

“Please don’t yell.”

“Damnit,” April shouted. “When did your soul die? Why is your carcass feeding everyone’s expectations? Can you breathe through that much weakness? Are you human, May S—?”

“Fuck off, April.” May slapped her sister.

May hit her hard, but it was the words—not the smack—that still rang in April’s ears.

“I’m sorry,” May said. “You were hysterical.

April hugged May, saying over and over, “You hit me.”

“I did,” May said softly. “And earlier, I drove my soon to be ex-husband’s car out of the garage that used to be ours and into the pool that’s now his. Is that human enough?”

April hugged her sister tighter.

.
Inspired by “Be Human”, winner of From Blackout Poem Bit to Flash Fiction, 1

wee notes:
1. to put the horns on someone means to be unfaithful.
2. I put Helen Mirren’s super inspirational advice in May Sullivan’s gentle mouth: “At 70 years old, if I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to use the words ‘fuck off’ much more frequently.”

Nude, by SunshineShelle
Detail from “Nude”, by SunshineShelle

Of Banshees and Clean Underpants

“You promise?”

“I promise.”

.
The old heart slowed as summer began to fall towards October.

She howled her promise into the night.

When her cry was swallowed by the roaring of too much city, she ran… but arrived too late—Death took her friend before the Banshee could warn her to change into clean underpants.

.
***
Process Note
: a couple of days ago, I spent time with a group of ladies who have lived for a very long time. We were discussing myths associated with death, when one of them said, “It might be nice to befriend a banshee.” I asked why, and she answered, “Am I the only one who would like some warning, so I can change into clean underpants before the big trip?” Then, pointing towards the city, she added, “With all this damn noise, the banshee might not be able to shriek loud enough.”

.
for the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads – Flash 55 Plus

Lucy, by A Little Company
“Lucy”, by A Little Company, “Forever in mid joyful expression, in a natural state of being, she is sure to inspire and remind you to live life to the fullest.”