She perched anxiously on the chair in the sterile corridor. He lay sedated in the recovery room, coming round after the examination.
Mary had been looking forward to their retirement together, her reward for a life of devotion. Johnny had finally ended his career, a series of high-flying posts around the country that took him from Alexandria to Logan. Then his old vigor suddenly gave way to bowel pain.
The nurse came and brought her to him. He lay on his side, one hand grasping the bed rail. “Hi, honey. How are you feeling?” asked Mary. “Alexandria?” Johnny groggily replied.
While flying back from overseas, the strongman terminated his top gun via a tweet. On tarmac, he stood alone in torrential rain, being unable to ride with the rest.
Mr. Howard Smith, MD, PhD, was not surprised. As the principal investigator, he had to terminate ongoing studies of a new medicine displaying hints of toxicity, thus affecting future profit-line. Next morning, he was similarly terminated. At noon, two security guards took him to his parked car. He couldn’t even finish saying “Good-bye” to his colleagues of past twenty years.
This country learned how to humiliate and destroy a human soul.
My fingers wrap around the stone in my pocket, your sticky blood still warm to the touch.
I was going to throw it in the lake, alongside your bound and weighted body, but I decided to keep it instead. A reminder of the day I finally found the courage to do what I should’ve done years ago.
I’m thinking of putting it on the mantelpiece, alongside that hideous clock your mother gave us as a wedding present. Like our marriage, it never worked.
They’ll be a constant reminder to me of the two women I hated most in this world.
They have been close-knit cousins, born in succession, after the nation earned its independence. Their parents became refugees due to the post-independence riot along the country’s religious divide line. None of the cousins grew up with a refrigerator, telephone, television, washing machine, or an automobile. They were the “children of independence”, first generation of a third world country. Now middle-aged, the cousins watch the evolution of the next generation. With smartphones, flat-screen TVs, designer clothes, and flashy cars, the country shed its label of “third world”, just in one generation.
But along came wealth-inequality with right-wing extremism, creating a brand new division.
“I can’t eat any more bear meat,” he said. “It’s just all gristle and grease. It’s so damn hard to chew it makes my jar hurt. I’m serious. Enough is enough already. I don’t want to do this anymore.”
The bear lay on its belly. The table around it was surrounded by diners all digging their utensils into its back that had been opened up and the fur pulled back, exposing the meat cooked to a bloody rare.
“You have two choices,” the bear said. “You can pick that fork back up or I can eat you.”
The man complied.
“Those who can, do,” someone whispered. ”Those who can’t, teach.”
Her hearing was beginning to fade. But the quip was loud enough that she could hear it as she awaited her students’ answers to the problem she’d just posed.
It hurt her. Maybe I’ve done this too long, she thought. Maybe I’ve become irrelevant. Maybe it’s time to step down, to give someone younger, someone more qualified, a chance.
Her eyes scanned the fresh faces of her students. How old I must seem to them, she thought.
A hand went up.
“Can you help us understand the question?”
Out of cigarettes at three A.M., Jack tucked twenty bucks in his sock and started walking to a convenience store half a mile away.
Jack felt spooked and quickened his pace, but had to stop to catch his breath.
Out of the woods a demon appeared wielding a knife.
The demon plunged the knife into Jack’s chest a dozen times before everything went dark.
Jack came to on the roadside without a scratch thinking, hallucination.
The shop keeper said it was a vision and that something was trying to warn Jack.
“Yeah, sure. Give me three packs, Lucky Strikes,“ Jack said.
Next to me, at the lights, an attractive woman waited to cross.
Another scurried towards us, small, neat, alert.
“Andrea,” a barely audible sigh. Of what? Forbearance? From the attractive woman, Wendy.
“You’re back?” enquired Andrea.
“A while ago, we were away for a year.”
A tiny pause as Andrea considered this.
“I believe your son got married … ”
A small tight smile from Wendy.
“A couple of times … ”
The green pedestrian green man flashed. Wendy moved. Resolute.
“Nice seeing you, Andrea.”
Another small tight smile. Andrea’s this time. She straightened, then we crossed together.
‘Once upon a time …. ‘ I wrote.
Now anything could happen …
‘In a land far, far away … ’
What land? Whose land? No limits.
“Be creative,” Teacher said. “Anything could happen.”
Dragons? I thought. Or magic men, animals who talk?
Could vehicles fly? Half hour down.
I look down at my page.
Deep breath, I start again, the words now flowing fast.
Distinct characters, witty dialogue and plenty of conflict.
Emotions, action, twists and turns.
The ending a surprise even to me.
Time’s up! The title’s blank.
I scribble one down fast.
‘The voices in my head ‘
Bill’s yard was a showpiece. His grass always looked freshly cut, his bushes neatly trimmed. He spread fresh mulch every spring. His flowers bloomed from spring until fall.
Retired, Bill had ample time to work in his yard. But they say he really did it for his wife, Betty.
One February, Betty died. That March, Bill didn’t put down mulch. When the grass began to grow, he didn’t cut it. In May, he planted no flowers.
That summer, Bill’s grass grew wild. A neighbor stopped by to check on him. No one answered. She peeked inside. The place was vacant.