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Flash Fiction: Reflections

He saw himself in the window, and it stopped him short. Hair fell damply around his haggard face. Swollen lips with blood from his broken nose dried crimson. He should have let them steal the woman’s purse. Nothing had changed from him trying, but for the beating he took. His soul was heavy with his weakness. His uselessness. Past his reflection, he saw a lady staring at him. He turned away ashamed, continuing to trudge down the snowy street.

 

“Wait!” She called after him. “My aunt told me of how you put yourself in danger to help her! Come in and let me clean you up.”

 

He turned to her, and in her eyes his reflection was completely transformed. Not useless, but brave and caring. Unexpected pride swelled in his chest. He took her offered hand and followed her inside.

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Flash Fiction: Amusement Park Graffiti

“Whoever loves, goes to hell.” The words were engraved into the safety bar. He traced his fingers across the old steel and felt a scab in his memories wanting to bleed again. The taste of raspberry lips and warm sand cooling in the evening tugged at his mind. He gave into it, letting the blood flow.

 

In his mind, that carnival song that no one knew the name to, but everyone could hum flooded the abandoned park. Lights flickered back on, casting lengthy shadows. Ghosts of his past brushed by him, feeling more alive than the moment he was in. He saw himself walking beside her, brimming with hope, none of the wear, tear and misery of life dragging him down.

 

He had loved, and it led to here. To hell. Standing in an old park with nothing but discarded moments and forgotten dreams. As if responding to a jolt, he jerked his hand away from the safety bar. A bittersweet emotion flooded him, and he felt his heart yearn once more. Sure, whoever loves, goes to hell. But that was only half the story. Now it was time to find his way out.

Mourning

“Tell me a story, Watcher!” Her eyes gleamed with hope as she leaned closer to the fire. “Tell me of a time from Before.”

The Watcher didn’t react to the request. He slowly stirred the embers, watching the sparks dance to their deaths in the dark. A few moments of hopeful silence died as it became an eternity of purposeful ignorance. The Watcher adjusted his coat and coughed uncomfortably.

“Don’t bother the Watcher, Eteri.” The mother of the girl who had asked for a story gave the Watcher an apologetic smile. “He doesn’t have to tell any stories tonight. He’s welcome just to share our fire.”

The Watcher gave a slow nod of thanks without looking to the mother. His eyes stayed focused on the embers. “I mourn for a world I will never see. I mourn for the Before.” His voice was smooth, an easy and light baritone. “So starts any story of those who watch. To watch is to see. To see is to learn. To learn is to not repeat.”

“I knew he’d tell a story,” Eteri whispered to her mother. “He’s a Watcher, that’s what they do.”

“Hush child,” her mother responded with a small smile. “Let him speak.”

“My father was a Watcher too. One of the first. He was born in the Before.” The Watcher’s eyes met Eteri’s. “He told me this story.”

“There was a creature called a monkey in the Before. It looked like man, but had a tail. It lived in the jungle, and swung from tree to tree. Monkey was endlessly curious and constantly wanting to learn more. Each day it woke with a question in its heart. Each day it would try to solve the question.

One day Monkey found the largest tree he had ever seen. It stretched high above the canopy of the jungle. The base was so big around it would take Monkey and two dozen of his brothers holding hands to circle the tree. Monkey knew he had to climb to the top to see how far he could see.

There was another creature at the base of the tree. He was Anteater. His mouth was long, and always trying to eat bugs from the dirt. Anteater saw Monkey looking up at the tree and knew no good would come from his curiosity.

‘You shouldn’t go up there. Look down here at the ground, there are many bugs to eat. Your day would be better down here with me, eating to your content.’ Anteater hoped that his words would sway Monkey.
But Monkey would not be dissuaded.

‘I have to see how far I can see from the top,’ He told Anteater. ’I have to go.’

Monkey started climbing, his nimble fingers easily finding holds. He climbed for an hour, till he was above all other trees in the jungle. There he found a creature called Viper. Viper had no arms or legs, but curled his body around a branch to stay where he was. Viper saw Monkey looking at the top of the tree lost in the clouds and knew no good would come from his curiosity.

‘You shouldn’t go up there. Stay with me and sun yourself on this branch. Your day would be better right here with me, warming your fur to your content.’ Viper hoped his words would sway Monkey.

But Monkey would not be dissuaded. 

‘I have to see how far I can see from the top,’ He told Viper. ‘I have to go.’

Above the trees Monkey could see for miles. The wind whipped at him, and he shivered in the breeze. The top of the tree called to him, so he kept climbing. Monkey climbed for two hours, till he could almost touch the bottoms of the clouds. There he found a creature called Bird. Bird could fly, and loved to soar above all other animals. But Bird knew that if Monkey kept going higher, no good would come from his curiosity.

‘You shouldn’t go up there. Stay here with me and kiss the clouds. Your day would be better right here with me, playing with the wind and the sunshine.’ Bird hoped his words would sway Monkey.

But Monkey would not be dissuaded.

‘I have to see how far I can see from the top,’ He told Bird. “I have to go.’

Soon Monkey reached the top. He was above all the clouds, the world just a grey fog beneath him. The sun glared down at him, and the wind pulled hard at him. Monkey struggled to hold on to the top of the tree. He was proud he had done this, but he was scared. A strong gust of wind caught him off guard.

Monkey fell.

Past Bird, past Viper, until he crashed to the ground beside Anteater. Monkey died from the fall. He died to answer his question, to find out how far he could see from the top.

So what is the lesson in this story?” The question was pointed at Eteri. She paused, caught off guard by the abrupt ending.

“We shouldn’t follow our curiosity? It leads to bad things… like the day the bombs happened.” Her voice became more sure as she responded, a hint of pride creeping into her tone as she finished. She smiled at her mother expectantly. Her mother nodded encouragement and rubbed her hand across Eteri’s back.

“I wish life was that clear cut.” The Watcher’s voice was gentle but rebuking. “Curiosity is not the evil, it is heedless searching that leads us to danger. If Monkey had stopped with any of the creatures that asked, he would have learned something new, and become better for it. But he pushed too far, and paid the price.”

“But…” Eteri trailed off as she thought through his words. “How will I know when I’m going too far?”

“That’s the thing about life. No consequence is clear until you’ve made the choice.” The Watcher’s smile was bittersweet, his eyes trailing back to the fire. “Search for the answer to the question in your heart. But know the answer may not be what you want.”

Rough Around the Edges

Desperately trying to be clever
A monkey with nothing up my sleeves
Standing on my head
Claiming I’m seeing everything fresh
That I’m revolutionary, individual.

“Come closer,” she whispers.
“Your comedy of intuition is done.”
Clamping down with iron control
Conformity smoothing out rough edges
Till I’m perfectly spherical

Staring out the window longingly
I see the lights decorate the city
As seemingly content
People mill from place to place
Their downpour on the inside

Hunting A Monster

Taking aim I put it all in the sights
Pulling trigger with determination
Heart pounding as I wait
For confirmation of the strike
Fury and hunger clawing at the edge

Between the seconds I dare
myself to stride into victory.
As I stand on the doorstep
I’m discovering myself quickly
Learning I don’t like the monster

I’ve conquered all I laid eyes on
Blood steaming on darkened soul
In twilight victory I revel
My claws burn to catch their prey
Feral, as I’ve become my hunt