(Originally sent to the e-mail address for the WordPress blog.)
She laughed at my joke like normal, but that laugh could unwind me. I didn’t realize how much I missed it. She leaned back in the bus seat. “You’re such a weirdo, Chase. Do you know what would be better, though?”
“No.” I tried to control my emotions, but my stomach flipped. My chest tightened. “What would be better?”
“If I was actually here.”
She disappeared. The old bus seat stayed empty beside me even as more students gathered on the bus. The air dropped too. Or perhaps I just noticed how freezing the air was.
I forgot she died.
“Phyllis, I’ll be moving now.”
“Did Gus find out you were staying again? How?”
“My brother told him where I was hiding.”
“Why? Gus’ll try to kill you again when he gets here.”
“He already did; I saw him coming and took off, but he ran me off the road about 60 miles into the desert.”
“How’d you get away?”
“My brother was in my car. He grabbed Gus, took his keys, and drove away in Gus’s car. I drove away in mine. Gus has a 60 mile desert walk – and no water.”
“When did this happen?”
“Nine days ago.”
“Don’t worry, Private. It gets easier over time.”
“No, Sargent. You’re dead wrong”
It’s not that it gets easier; rather, we get harder.
We turn to stone, abandoning humanity and mercy. The overwhelming madness of war breaks against us like waves breaking against the rocky shoreline. It washes away who we are, who we used to be.
Yet not all can be washed away
The relics of our violence. The ghosts of our brutality. The bridges to our ruthless past we try so hard to burn.
Some things are forever woven into the fabric of time which clothes us all.
(Posted, with picture, to a page on the F.F.F. website.)
John was always a talker.
By age two, when most kids are just forming words, John was talking in sentences.
By age three, he was memorizing and reciting nursery rhymes.
Growing up, John talked non-stop. He had a way with words, too. In grade school, when other kids were playing baseball, John was competing in public speaking contests. He won all of them.
Of course, he spoke at his high school graduation.
In college, John majored in oral communication. Upon graduation, he ran for city council.
Right now, John is on the floor of the Senate, leading a filibuster.
(Originally posted to LinkedIn. Nice to hear from you, too, Janette.)
Habitually she thought of others as she ate; today, she said to God, “I am thinking of people who live with unintelligible horror.” She grew still … ‘Yes, even a hundred years compared to eternity isn’t long’ … thinking, ‘This seems small compensation for those who suffer now. But the perpetrators? Yes, you showed us that evil can’t be flooded out of existence. But what about Korah and the rebels?’ she asked, longing for direct intervention. ‘That wasn’t you? Oh, nature mutates, morphs according to our intentions? Our fates are mutually intertwined? You intend the earth, even angels, as our allies … ‘
“Well, you finally killed Jack after 12 long years.”
Jack’s sister glared at Sean with hatred in her eyes.
Sean returned to that terrible night. He was driving too fast and also using his mobile. Jack was in the car and broke both legs, ending a career which held the promise of international football.
“He died alone in a bedsit at only 33. An overdose, but you’re the real killer, aren’t you?”
Everyone in the pub stared. Sean muttered a tearful apology to her contempt and slunk out into the indifferent wet streets, guilt bringing tears to his eyes and soul.
It slips through claws. It wraps around whiskers. It plays jump rope with pointed ears. It perplexes one of the world’s most vicious predators. Most of all, it does the impossible. It gets a boy away from video games. Hours of fun provided by gift wrap.
The gift sits idle.
(Originally posted to LinkedIn. Lovely to hear from you again, Emma.)
Hunger had sucked the skin of her face to the skull. It stretched taut, impossibly so.
Dana longed to feed her, but she was just one of hundreds of people herded into the place. Prominent cheekbones didn’t make you special here.
Lapses in concentration were Dana’s stock in trade these days. Too long spent in the camp rendered the thought of making a difference a fantasy; taking one person, wrapping your arms around them and watching the sparkle return to their eyes as you spoon-fed them peanut butter.
She filled in the form. “Next!”
Silently. “I’ll come for you.”
“Mum! I found Horace,” called Tommy.
“Thank goodness!” replied Mum. “Where on earth was he?”
“Under the garden shed!”
“Lucky the neighbours didn’t find him. I’m not sure they’d like you having a python for a pet! Put Horace back in his vivarium and make sure he can’t get out again!”
“Don’t worry,” said Tommy. “He isn’t going anywhere for a while. It looks like his tummy’s full!”
The doorbell rang. It was old Mrs. Albright from downstairs. “Hello,” she said. “Sorry to bother. I’m looking for Mr. Snuffles, my Yorkie. You wouldn’t know where he might be, would you?”