Archive for the Dark Fiction Category

Margaret’s Sister

Posted in Dark Fiction, Literary Fiction, Prose, Short Story, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2011 by JC Cecala

Melting onto her golden skin, the Florida sun felt like a draped blanket of heat as she swayed gently in her hammock. Limp limbs swung dangerously close to the ground as she adjusted her face, pressed heavily against the beige colored fabric. She hadn’t felt the need to put on any make up or style her hair with that usual scrupulous touch since school had let out. The dryness in her throat sent her tongue sliding across the roof of her mouth trying to create moisture.

Her sister’s voice slipped into the summer haze and pulled her from that surreal moment between consciousness and sleep. Remaining still she listened to make sure she wasn’t dreaming and when the tone reached her the second time she rose. Bare foot, she lazily attempted to smooth the wrinkles from her cotton skirt before walking towards the back patio.

“Yeah?” She entered and stepped into the kitchen.

“Margaret, Ma wants you to hang the wash. It’s downstairs and– Margaret Louise Dawson, your feet!”

Her eyes joined in with her sister’s and she looked at her toes and the dirt embedded beneath the nails.

“Yeah?”

“You act like you don’t own shoes,” She exclaimed “And you’re trackin’ dirt all over!”

“I don’t see nothin’.”

“Anything.”

“Huh?”

“You don’t see anything, not nothin’. Good Lord, Margaret.” She huffed, walking to the sink and grabbing a wet rag.

Her older sister gently guided her back through the door before wiping up the faint dirt footprints Margaret had trailed into the house. Her arm was vigorous and stern as it moved up and down on the faded linoleum. The focus she gave this task was intense but much of what she did burned with the same intensity, the same force, and she herself never even knew it.

“I’ll bring you your shoes.”

“Okay.”

Re-appearing with her right arm outstretched and her head tilted back, pain consumed her expression. In her hand she delicately held a tattered pair of  tennis shoes, dangling by the laces.

“When are you gonna stop wearin’ these ratty things?”

“I like ’em… an’ Ma can’t afford new ones.”

Her sister let out a disdainful sound “Here, take ’em.”

After the shoes were on and loosely laced she re-entered the kitchen.

“What did you want?”

“I told you, Ma wants you to hang the wash out back.”

“Right now?” Margaret asked, rolling her eyes and pulling open the refrigerator door.

“Yes, now. You know how she gets. I’d do it but the flies eat me up when I leave the house, you know.”

Margaret shook a bottle of orange juice and listened to what little was left, swish and swash inside. Removing the thick, gold-colored cap she placed the brim to her lips and began chugging.

“You’ve been out there all day, the least you can do is– Margaret!”

Now empty, her mouth pulled away from the bottle.

“It’s like you were raised in a barn! You never heard of a cup?”

“There was two drops left.”

“You’re just like a boy sometimes, I swear.” She pulled her hair behind her ears and the small, red feather earrings she always wore caught Margaret’s eye.

“I’ve always loved your earrings. I wish dad bought me a pair.”

“Margaret, just hang the clothes.”

The sound of knuckles on a window screen rattled into the kitchen and the young women briefly fell silent as they exchanged expressions of curiosity.

“You expectin’ company?”

Her sister shook her head before breaking eye contact and walking towards the hallway leading to the front door. Margaret remained in the kitchen and was silent as she listened, leaning against one of the counter tops and placing the bottle down. The sound of the latch on the screen door lifting and squeaking could be heard. It made the same stridulous noise  every time it was opened.

“Oh, Bobby. Hi there.” Her sister said, a new softness to her speech.

“Hey, how are you?” Bobby gushed.

“I’m just swell. I was thinkin’ about you earlier.”

“Were ya’?”

“Mhm,” she giggled quietly “I was readin’ Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff…sorta reminds me of you.”

“Wuthering Heights?”

“Mhm. It’s a love–” She paused “Well…it’s a story about two people who can’t be together and wh–..”

“Well…go on.”

There was an awkward air to her laughter “Well, his description…the way he looks. Tanned skin, dark hair, intense eyes, all brutish and manly…I just thought of you, that’s all.”

“Aw, shucks. Ain’t you so sweet you make sugar taste salty. I thought about you too. Think about ya’ lots.”

“Bobby,” a smile lit in her voice “Stop it.”

“Listen. You think you can get away tonight?”

“Oh…oh, Bobby, I can’t.”

“Why not? You hardly ever come out with me. I jus’ wanna take ya’ dancin’. The tavern got a new juke box and everything. Plus, who else can I ask. You’re the most beautiful girl in town.”

“You’re just sayin’ that.”

“Cross my heart. Come on…please. 10 o’clock. I’ll come pick ya’ up.”

“Well,” She hesitated “Alright. Just make sure you stay down the road…I’ll meet you. You know how my–”

The familiar sound of old, worn tires swerving over gravel and dirt. That meant Ma was home. Margaret listened carefully but the close of the conversation was marked by heavy feet quickly moving across wooden floorboards on the front porch. Grabbing the empty beverage container she pushed it out of sight before walking into the entry way.

Upon entering, her sister violently turned her head and frosty blue eyes stunned Margaret, mid-step. She knew that look. It was precisely replicated from the thousands of stares, side-eyes, and glances their mother had frightened them with.

“Margaret, did you hang the clothes like–”

A honking horn.

“Girls, come out here! You ‘spect me to carry alla these here grocery bags my damn self?”

Again the two sisters quietly looked at one another, thoughts reaching, grasping, unsure.

“I said come on!”

Cupboards opened and closed alongside the sound of jars sliding across metallic refrigerator shelves. Words became foreign when Ma was around and quietude was worshipped by the two sisters like a deity. With conversation came accusation.

“I saw Bobby Mitchell,” Ma said, closing one of the cupboard doors but not looking at either daughter “What’d he want?”

“Nothin’.”

“Hm…don’t no boy pay so much attention without wantin’ somethin’.”

Neither of the girls said anything as they continued storing away what was left of the groceries.

“Heh, you,” Ma said, shaking her head “You think you’re somethin’ else.”

Margaret closed the refrigerator door before saying “All the cold stuff’s put away… I was thinkin’ that for–”

“Maggie, hush up, I’m talkin’ to your sister. Now, lil’ girl, I’ma ask you again. What was Bobby Mitchell doin’ here?”

“I told you,” she fumbled with a box of crackers “Nothin’.”

“Mhmm,” Ma said as her body slid back against the counter “You just too womanish, that’s what it is.”

Ma’s worn out fingers reached into the pocket of her stained blouse to retrieve a half smoked cigarette. She motioned for Margaret and like a dog with a trick ingrained in its mind, her hands took it upon themselves to grab the pack of matches from the wobbly wooden table and strike one. Lighting the cigarette she blew the match out and took a few steps back.

After inhaling on the butt deeply, smoke swirled from her coral lips and wafted through the air. She watched her oldest daughter twist her head away in a failed attempt to avoid the smoke, her nose crinkling and eyes squinting. Looking around the kitchen she spotted a book on the same kitchen table her matches were.

“And what’s this?” She quizzed, sauntering towards the new discovery, lifting it with her free hand “Wuth..Wwwuth-er-ring. Heg..Damnit, what does–”

“Wuthering Heights.” Was nearly unheard as it left the lips of her eldest child.

“Hm. Wutherin’ Heights…so, what? You, you pretending to read it? Tryin’ to be all studious.”

The book was dropped carelessly on the table and Ma turned to look at her as she finished putting away the last of the food.

“I’m talkin’ to you!”

“I am reading it. I’m half way done.”

“I bet. You really think mighty high’a yourself,” She took a drag “All the boys just lo—ve you, huh? And I bet all the men can’t wait till you’re finally 18, I bet this next month is just eatin’ ‘way at ’em!” A cackle arose from the pit of her belly.

“It’s a classic novel,” Her eyes fell to the floor ” It’s written beautifully and the themes and motifs are–”

“Mo-tif? Oh, so now you’re smarter than me?”

“She didn’t say that mama, she–”

“Maggie!…I’m talkin’ to Miss Beauty Queen o’er here,” she crept across the linoleum “So…you think you’re better lookin’ than me and now, now you’re smarter than me too, right?”

Margaret’s sister was stoic. Not a muscle in her body moved. No gesticulations pulled at her face and not a tremble carried through her limbs. Her head raised to meet her fast approaching mother and she remained still like prey hoping that it’s predator could not spot it.

“I used to be beautiful, ya’ know. Till I ruined my life an’ had you. God damnit, did I ruin my life! Haha!”

The kitchen was again silent of everything but two hearts beating at a rapid pace and the scent of resentment seeping from a 34 year old woman puffing on a hand rolled cigarette.

“Lemme’ tell you somethin’, my dear,” the tip of Ma’s nose pressed against her daughter’s “You better use them looks while they last because if you think for a second that any’a them schools up North’s gonna accept you, you got another thing comin’. And if you think you gonna run up there and become a famous starlet, ha! You’re a lot dumber than ya’ look.”

Her sister remained poised. Every time Ma reprimanded her it was as if she were protected by an invisible shield. She remained calm but not quite acquiescent. This is what urged their mother to become cruel. She wanted to see her broken but the young woman wouldn’t yield.

“If you’re half as smart as you think you are you’d stop bein’ so damn fast and marry one’a them Milton boys that’s been chasin’ you. Oh, yeah. I know they been chasin’ you. You’d be smart to spread your legs to the highest bidder..hmph.”

The moments seeped into one another and moved so slowly that time seemed to become complacent. Margaret knew what was true and what was not. Her sister was very popular with the boys and the men did want her too, but it wasn’t because she was fast like Ma often accused her of being. It was because she really was stunning. Margaret found herself to be relatively pretty and was filling out better than most of the other girls in her ninth grade class. But her sister was of another caliber. Once, when they were all in town to buy new school dresses, a man crashed his Lincoln staring at her.

Her sister had eyes like the clear mid-summer sky, the blackest, wavy hair , and skin the color of fresh cream. There was natural pout to her lips and a constant intensity in her face gave her this otherworldly essence. Her body was something most grown women envied and she was only seventeen. She had what the tailor’s called an hourglass figure and Margaret hoped that when she was seventeen she’d benefit from their parents the same way.

Aesthetic appeal was only a portion of who she was. The quirks and inquisitive nature masked by her girlish giggle, ethereal charm that rarely surfaced, and high-strung demeanor were far more interesting. Ever since Margaret could remember, her sister always carried books with her. She was smarter than all of the boys in her class, even at math and science and she never scored a grade lower than an A minus all her life. She had never seen her sister act but she knew of her being a part of  their school drama club.

“Ma, if she does as good this year as she’s been doin’, she’s up for valedictorian. She’d have a full scholarship to–”

“She ain’t valedictorian material, Maggie,” She said, glaring at her oldest daughter, their faces inches apart “Now you go on outside and play.”

“But ma, I–”

“I said go!”

The eyes of two girls in on one secret, locked. There was a dwindling spirit flickering in the eyes of the older daughter and the youngest could see it. Years ago it sparkled but as days drifted and years faded so did the glimmer. Margaret wanted to stay or at least leave a piece of herself there but what good would that do?

Shame overcame her as she slinked by and walked through the back door. “So you’re grown now, huh? You’re a woman now, right?” she heard Ma patronize as the door closed behind her. She twisted her neck to peer through the window and into her sister’s eyes. Margaret let out a gasp and she clutched her mouth with both hands. The flicker dissipated.

She wandered aimlessly for a while until she tired of walking. Scoping her surroundings she didn’t see much but open fields and brown trees. Tilting her head and gazing at the sky she watched clouds that looked like frayed cotton, sail by. The thought of angels crossed her mind and just as quickly, melted away.

Trotting through the wide, open space, she spent a good deal of time doing cartwheels and somersaults and when she grew bored with that, started picking flowers. She gathered a bunch, mostly made of milkweeds and her favorite, spotted horsemint, before noticing a marsh rabbit.

Imagining she was a silver wolf, she stealthily edged nearer, stalking the oblivious creature until she stumbled over an unnoticed rock and sent it dashing towards the wetlands. She knew better than to wander towards the swamps and her stomach started speaking to her so after gathering the bouquet she decided to head home.

Days were long this time of year so the sun still beamed brightly overhead when she returned. The wet clothes she had been told to hang were draped over clothes lines and a feeling of guilt bubbled from her stomach and rose into her chest. Why hadn’t she taken care of them when she was asked?

She could see her sister through the kitchen window, preparing dinner. It was almost like looking at a stranger but Margaret couldn’t quite put her finger on why. Deciding she didn’t want to cause any other altercations she took her shoes off and spent a good deal of time wiping the soles of her feet off with saliva and her palms before going inside.

Movements of her body were slow and subtle as she crept through the door. She looked to her sister who hadn’t looked up from cutting vegetables. There was an eerie calm within the home that was not there when Margaret left and this estranged serenity made her uneasy. Glancing around the kitchen she didn’t notice anything out of place.

“I picked some flowers.”

Silence. They were placed on the table before she turned around. Her empty juice bottle was still on the counter and she walked over to it.

Approaching the garbage bin she lifted the lid and dropped the bottle but there was a hesitancy that paralyzed her. She thought she had seen something out of place and lifted the lid once more.

Her stare fixated on the sheen of a familiar pink fabric before she realized the sight before her. Amidst chicken fat, vegetable peelings, cigarette ashes and empty food boxes was a doll. A doll that Margaret had grown accustomed to, the only toy she had ever seen her sister play with. In their trash was the debutante Ginny Doll that their father had given her  older sister years ago. The clothes were torn, tattered and off of her body while the right side of her face had been smashed.

“What…happened to Lady Dubois?”

Nothing. There was no response, no acknowledgment, just the chop, chop, chop, chop of blade against wooden cutting board.

“Why is she broken up and in the trash?”

Her sister looked over at her and Margaret could tell that her face had been coated in tears not very long ago. The puffiness around her eyes, glow of her waxen skin, and sorrow that escaped her face reminded Margaret of the cherubs she had read about in the bible. She imagined that they had to have looked just like her sister. A part of her wished that her sister could become an angel so that she could be at peace forever. So she didn’t have to be so strong, so closed off.

“Just leave it be, Margaret.”

The lid closed and she stood there. Her sister went back to cutting and seconds later there was that familiar tapping sound again.

“You expectin’ someone?” Margaret quizzed.

“…I’m expecting anyone.”

Her sister continued with what she was doing but Margaret looked down the hall and towards the entry way. Her mother stumbled from the living room into the view of the doorway and was unsubtle in the attempt to regain her composure. Her clumsy demeanor while lowering the top half of the split screen door was evidence enough that she had already been in the bottle.

Most of Margaret’s view was being blocked by the inebriated woman but she could see a tall man looming in the doorway. Lifting herself on the tips of her toes she was trying to make out what his face looked like and once she did, her stomach was stricken with a splitting ache and she stumbled into the table, accidentally pushing it into the wall.

The cutting instantly stopped.

“Margaret. Margaret, what is wrong with you?”

The erratic thud within her chest echoed in her ears and she stood erect, her line of vision not once leaving the stranger on their front porch. Warm palms slipped around her arms and shook her lightly but still she could not look away. Something about the arch of this man’s eyebrows, the contour of his cheeks, the unusual point of his ears, and the ease of his smile nearly moved her to tears wrung from terror.

“Margaret?”

“… Huh?”

“What’s the matter with you?”

“…That man. That man reminds me of–”

“Man?”

Her sister retracted her fingers then took delicate steps towards the hallway, her full attention on her mother at the front door. Ma’s laughter trailed down the hall and as she bridged the distance between herself and the doorway she and the stranger made eye contact. He stopped speaking, her feet ceased moving. A grin told her to come closer and so she did and as she approached, Ma turned to look at her.

“And who is this young woman?” He asked.

“…This girl is my daughter.”

“Pretty must run in the family.”

A high pitched giggle fluttered from Ma as she placed her boney fingers on her chest and swayed back and forth.

“I’m Nicholas. But my friends call me Old Nick.”

“…You don’t look old.”

“I don’t look like a lot of things, young lady.” He responded to the older daughter.

“What d’you want?” Margaret asked walking into the entry way.

“Maggie, mind your manners!” Ma said, running her finger through her hair and smiling at Old Nick “This is my youngest daughter, Nick.”

Margaret remained focused on him. He was tall in stature and had very broad shoulders. His build was stocky but it suited him well and he didn’t look podgy, but rather, quite strong. Many women would consider him to be handsome, she was aware, yet the uncomfortable feeling that tightened around her gut while she looked at him eclipsed all of this.

She noticed a reddish sunburnt tint to his skin and what seemed to be black, leather gloves on his hands.

“Ain’t you hot?” She asked, quirking a brow and poking out her bottom lip.

“Oh no, I love the heat. I was just telling your mother how much I enjoy the summer’s down south.”

“Nick is a door to door salesman. He’s from New York City.” Ma said, her statement dripping with enthusiasm.

“New York City?” Margaret’s sister echoed.

He nodded.

“What’s it like?”

“Why, like nothing you have ever seen. Like heaven.” He responded, winking at her.

Ma had missed it but Margaret didn’t. She folded her arms.

“Ain’t you gonna try an’ sell us somethin’, Old Nick? Like Bibles or somethin’.”

“No, young lady, never,” He said with a light-hearted laugh “I was gonna try to sell something else.”

“Tupperware?”

“…Yes, tupperware. And I’m pretty sure you all could use it because I can tell your sister here… is a master chef.”

She watched her sister bashfully look away, clasping her hands together and could sense Ma’s annoyance begin to fester.

“I taught her everything she knows.” Ma intervened with a forced chuckle.

“I bet.” Was his response, his eyes still intent on Ma’s eldest.

In his right, gloved hand he held a very thin suitcase the color of apples when they were their ripest. Margaret doubted there was any tupperware fitting inside of it and wanted so badly to close and lock the door.

“I must say, your daughter has awfully pretty eyes. She reminds me of Elizabeth Taylor.”

Ma winced at the flattery. Squinting, she peered over at the object of Old Nick’s attention only to see her flushed cheeks and coy demeanor. Her youngest daughter could tell that she was fighting the urge of anger and smelled the Whiskey she had been drinking, seeping through her pores. She seized the opportunity to get this stranger away from their home and said “Well, Old Nick, don’t look like you have anythin’ to sell in that little briefcase and we were jus’ gettin’ ready to eat dinner and watch some television…so…”

“Is that so?” He asked.

“Yeah, it’s the truth.” Ma said matter-of-factly, now bored with the attention of this new male as she had lost it to her daughter.

He looked away from the young woman he had seemed fixated on and into the bloodshot eyes of Ma.

“Oh, very well. Maybe I can sell you something some other time. I should probably get going. Gotta head to New York City tomorrow.”

Margaret’s sister smiled at the sound of New York and the flicker in her eye re-ignited.

“You could do really swell up there, you know. Some of the biggest models and actresses aren’t half as pretty as you.”

Her eyes widened “Really?” she asked, dangling on edge of his comment.

“I don’t lie about such things.”

“Alright,” Ma interjected “It was nice meetin’ ya’.”

He winked at her again “Yes, ma’am, thank you for your time. If you’re interested in what I’m selling I’ll be at the Red Lake motel closer to the city, room 7. Be there till tomorrow,” He finished, tipping his fedora “You ladies have a lovely evening. And may God keep you on the right path.”

The long day had drawn to an end and a black sky was upon them. Ma had finished half a pint of Whiskey and was slouched over in front of the television, snoring lightly. In the bedroom she and her sister shared, Margaret was lying in her twin sized bed, eyes closed. She could hear the sound of fumbling in the dark and as her sister tip-toed out of the room she listened to her go into the bathroom. Opening her eyes, Margaret could see the bathroom light slipping underneath the closed door and she watched her sister’s outline sway within the light, delicately, as she primped herself in the mirror.

Her sister had rarely snuck out but Margaret knew where she was going after overhearing her conversation with Bobby Mitchell that afternoon. She slowly let her lids meet once more and pictured them and their father as they were, years ago. The images of him surprising her sister with a brand new Ginny doll were fuzzy but Margaret held tight to her 11th birthday and the red, feather earrings she had been given. The earrings that evoked a new emotion that day, what Margaret learned to be envy. The earrings that lit the blaze in her sister’s eyes which radiated with such fervor. It was so different from the dwindling flicker that had vanished earlier that night then re-appeared when they were speaking to that strange salesman, Old Nick.

She released control of her mind and allowed it to drift wherever it decided. It wandered and conjured up moments floating  in yesteryear. The ones she thought about when rage was all that flooded their home.

Father’s white teeth dimples laughter sister’s blue eyes running in a field blowing out birthday candles rocking horse piggy-back rides ponytails pigtails door creek yellow breaking black her sister standing over her? “I’ll come back for you..” warm sensation on the forehead losing teeth nickel under pillow bedtime stories fifth grade principals office funeral tears tears tears tears yelling grey black Whiskey Gin hands pain blame guilt fear terror silence Old Nick red black teeth black hands pain scream stars silence.

Margaret gasped for air as she tore from her bed. Sunlight was kept at bay because the thin, faded beige curtains were drawn. Taking a deep breath she swept her hair behind her ears and exhaled.

“Just a dream…just a nightmare.”

Stretching and wiggling her fingers she turned her neck to face her sister’s side of the room. She wasn’t there and her bed was still made. Squinting, Margaret glanced around and inhaled. There was no breakfast in the air. Climbing out of bed and creeping into the hallway a gentle prick shocked her sole and she looked down. Red screamed against a taupe colored carpet. A feather earring was on the floor.

Making her way downstairs she peeked into the living room only to see Ma on the worn down sofa in front of the television, slouched in a deep sleep. After turning the T.V. off she walked through out the house in search of her sister but she wasn’t there. Everything was in the exact same place as it was the day before.

Her nerves grew weary and she ran to the telephone in a haste.

“Yeah, mornin’ ma’am. Could I be connected to Mitchell 1315, please?”

Bobby’s mother picked up. Margaret apologized for calling so early in the morning but asked if she could speak to him.

“Bobby?”

He yawned “Yup, who’s this?”

“It’s Maggie. I’m–”

“Oh, hey Maggie.”

“Hi. I wasn’t evesdroppin’ or nothin’ but yesterday afternoon I heard you and my sister make plans to go to Joe’s Tavern. I was wonderin’ if–”

“Yeah. I waited for her at the end of the road in my pick up jus’ like she said. She never came so I figured ya’lls mama caught her tryin’ to sneak out.”

“…She never went to Joe’s?”

“Nah. At least, she wasn’t there when I got there an’ I was there till pretty late. Why? Is somethin’ a matter?”

Feeling slipped from her legs and arms as she hung up the phone.

“Maaa….Maaaa!” She called.

Her mother alerted the local authorities and they had begun their search for the missing girl a few hours later. They assured her that the girl had probably been caught up in some teenage shenanigans because this was always the case with teens around her age, in their town. That Tuesday was the longest day in Margaret’s life.

Wednesday finally came and still, she had not heard from or seen her. Margaret called all of her sister’s friends that she knew of, inquiring if they knew her whereabouts but none had claimed to have seen or spoken to her. By Thursday she wondered if perhaps her friends were lying. Maybe her sister was staying with one of them because Ma had grown too intolerable.

Aimlessly wandering around their bedroom she looked at pictures of them and little trinkets they had collected over the years. She stood in front of the old, chipped vanity her sister had and pulled her hair from her face as she stared at herself. She looked more like their mother. Dirty blonde locks, deep brown eyes, thin lips, round nose, sun-kissed complexion.

Looking down at the make-up her sister kept she noticed a folded piece of paper. Her fingertips glided over it and she debated whether or not looking at it was a bad idea. It could be a love letter from a boy; her sister received those frequently. Margaret wanted it to be a letter from her sister. A piece of assurance to ease her twisting nerves. Opening it up she immediately noticed it was a letter from one of the Milton boys and set it back down.

Back downstairs she heard her mother in the kitchen, rummaging through the cabinets and mumbling to herself. Margaret knew her mother was looking for more alcohol. Since her sister left, the drinking and smoking had been heavier than normal and she hadn’t gotten much rest.

“God damnit!”

The howl went ignored and Margaret wondered if Ma was going to prepare dinner as she turned the television on. Plopping onto the couch she noticed the clock read 3:22.

“Ughh, the news.” She rolled her eyes.

“And the store will be opening this coming fall.” The male anchor stated.

“Maggie! D, did anyone… c, call ’bout your sister?” Was slurred leaving her mother’s mouth.

“No, Ma! I woulda told ya’.”

Empty bottles clinked and clanked and soon the only sound was that of the television. Ma had found her temporary fulfillment inside of her now full glass.

“Wonderful, Mary Lou,” The same male anchor ‘s face then shifted, hardened, as he straightened the papers he held ” In more unsettling news, the bound body of an unidentified young woman was found along the Indian River Lagoon earlier this afternoon by a group of young boys who were fishing.”

As if possessed, Margaret felt something pull her body upward and straighten itself.

“Police have no details on the young woman, but she is described as being between the ages of 18 and 21, 5’5″, with dark hair. If you have any information please call your local police station.”

Glass shattering cut through Margaret’s shock. Startled, she turned to see Ma standing in the doorway with a face void of expression, fingers outstretched, palm exposed. Shards of the broken cup were sprawled out across the floor and a brown puddle seeped over the floorboards towards the center of the room.

“Now to Charlie with the weekend weather forecast.”

“Thank you, John. We can say goodbye to the cool breezes and hello to a heat wave that’s headed our way .”

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Maria…

Posted in Literary Fiction, Prose, Romance, Short Story, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2011 by JC Cecala

  Lights on.

The fresh faced diva with the stunning three and a half octave range, Maria Cara, headlines the long awaited production of Lucia di Lammermoor opening tonight at The Metropolitan Opera House. Tickets are sold out.

She flipped a few pages.

Rolling blackouts continue to leave the sweltering city in the dark.

Placing the newspaper onto the vanity table, her hand drifted towards a nearby playbill. There was a hesitance that struck her but eventually gave way and she picked the pamphlet up. Thumbing through, she spotted a photograph of herself. Stone gray eyes intensified by charcoal colored curls cascading against flesh of alabaster. Bare neck, elongated. Coral lips parted by a smile that left most of her teeth naked. Bare. Nude. A way of being she had forgotten years ago as she was now hidden. Hidden by agents. Hidden by elaborate costumes and hair styles. Hidden by beaming lights. Hidden behind make-up and fad diets. Hidden by the music that was giving way to a lust for fame.

“Miss Cara, close your eyes.”

“What?”

“Close your eyes. I have to blend your eye shadow.”

Lights out.

Groans of disdain echoed on the other side of her open dressing room door. Lids lowered. Eyes shut. Black. Just like her nights. Just like her mother’s hair before it all fell out. Just like her days. Deep. Dark. Cumbersome. Her nerves were calm despite the anticipation that loomed. Listening to the taps of heels scuffle across floorboards and bits and pieces of dialogue being built around her, her name dangled from the tips of the tongues of everyone.

Lights on.

“Her wardrobe! Miss Cara’s wardrobe for Act II!”

“Did you book her reservations? For Cipriani’s, after the show!”

“Somebody get me maintenance. We’re having electrical issues.”

“Miss Cara will be on in fifteen, how much longer?”

“She’s almost done with hair and make-up.”

Exposing her eyes to the rest of the world, they came into focus and she saw her mother. In the arch of her eyebrows, the shape of her eyes, and the point of her nose. She was beginning to forget her scent and this terrified her. Again, she closed her eyes and heard her voice. Heard the Italian she spoke to her and the much younger sisters Maria protected and cared for as best she could.

Her mother vanished. The reflection now stared back at her, glaring, snarling.

“Where is my water!” Soared from the back of her throat.

Tearing her head away from the fidgety fingers of the make-up artist and hair stylist she twisted her body and charged out of the open door to face the tapestry of workers, stage hands, understudies, and co-stars alike. Standing in the doorway she released a low growl.

Hello! I’m not talking to myself, people!”

Eyes went into a frenzy, darting, leaping, bounding, while lips fell still, tongues retreating. Maria walked away from the tiny quarters of her dressing room and into her onlookers as she peered, quirking her left brow, pouting her painted lips.

“I’ve been denied the humidifiers I requested…I agreed to wear this, this disgusting gown, and have my hair done by an amateur,” She seethed, looking over her shoulder at the doe-eyed stylist peeking from the dressing room doorway “and on top of this…I am still waiting…for…MY WATER and lozenges!”

“Miss Cara, I –“

“Shut up! Shut up…and go get it!”

As her lips met one another once more, in a hassle, the group dispersed, some silent, others whispering, some running, others strolling at a steady pace.

“No air conditioning. I’m melting!” She complained “I’m on in ten, no water. What is this!”

She stood in that moment and watched the crew bustling, cast members conversing and rehearsing. Alisa, the maid to Maria’s character was doing vocal warm-ups, hands pressed against her belly, concentration exuding from her tight mouth and burrowed eyebrows. Naormanno, the huntsman that helps tear Maria’s character from her beau was chatting with one of the female understudies, arm propped against the wall, leaning in as she giggled. Maria rolled her eyes at his attempt at flirting with women especially since every night, he was sneaking into the bedroom of Lord Enrico Ashton, Maria’s stage brother.

“She’s talented, but I think she got the lead because she’s screwing Mr. Mottolini.” A high pitched voice attempted to whisper.

“Who?”

Maria spotted the culprits. She assumed them to be easily expendable, as she did not recognize either.

“He produced this show!…He’s one of the top members of The Broadway League, idiot. He’s like God of the opera world.”

“Ohhh.”

“He can make or break any career and he–”

Maria tapped the shoulder of one of the girls. Startled, she turned around. Her face red in an instant.

Ladies, next time you want to gossip, try and be a little more discrete. Especially…when you’re spreading lies about a woman who has the power…to have you both terminated and blacklisted. Understood?”

They both nodded with vigor. Maria shook her head before looking around at the frenzy that continued to ensue.Turning away from the spectacle before her she went back to her dressing room and plopped into her chair, her stylists slowly approaching her, timidly, unsure whether or not to attempt to finish.

Lights out.

She released a gentle sigh.

Lights on.

A familiar gaze. The stare cut through her exterior. The gown, the hair, the make-up, dissipated to expose Maria; modest, sensitive, lonely. And she watched as he drew near, the faint hint of a smile in the corners of his mouth.

“Evening, Lucia,” He said with a nod.

Maria glanced at him in the mirror. Chestnut hair, hues of hazel, olive skin, and an impish grin rendered her defenseless, at least for the moment.

“Are you ready for tonight?”  He asked.

Collecting her thoughts and feeling, she turned to him. The hair stylist and make-up artist caught her attention, still lingering in the background, waiting.

“You are done now,” Maria snapped “Now please excuse yourselves.”

In a setting overwhelmed with people the two were now alone within a small secluded area, within a private sliver of time. Their focus invested in one another as they fought the urges pulling through their limbs.

“Lucia.”

“Edgardo.”

“Nervous?”

“…”

“Don’t be,” He smiled.

“I…I don’t know if I can do this.” Fingers tugged at a gold band wrapped around her fourth finger.

“We talked about it.”

Maria’s sudden wave of disdain spread across her face. Arms folded, shifting her body’s weight onto her left leg. She wore a sneer and found herself outside of her vulnerability once more.

“And that’s all we did. Talk.”

“Maria…don’t.”

“Don’t what?”

“Don’t push me away. Not after—“

“Maria—“

The dark baritone rattled her bones. She knew that voice and it forced her attention away from her Edgardo.

“Maria,” The man said, coming to a halt by her side “You look lovely!”

She forced a thank you from the pit of her as she stared at the Swarovski crystals woven into the corset of her gown.

“And your sist–”

“They’re fine.” She was sharp.

“Okay, okay, just making sure. Is everything to your liking?”

“Well,” there was a brief pause “…I’m a bit thirsty…and could use a lozenge or cough drop. Apparently that’s too much to ask for around here.”

“Did you make that request already?”

He saw her nod.

“Unacceptable,” He huffed, walking to the doorway of the make-shift dressing room.

There was no eye contact between the two.

“You!” The man pointed “Yes, you! Come! Now!”

The little man scuffled over, pretending to be invested in some paperwork on his clipboard, a failed attempt to mask his shaking nerves.

“How many God damned times,” He began through gritted teeth “Does Miss Cara have to ask for fucking water and lozenges! What are you people doing?”

“I, I apologize, Mr. Mattolini. We sent someone out for them a few minutes ago. He should, he should be right back any minute now.”

“Curtain opens in less than ten minutes!”

“I, I know. And I—“

“How is the star expected to perform on opening night in such conditions! A dressing room the size of a closet, no amenities, what the hell?”

She lifted her eyes and let them flutter onto him. Onto her Edgardo. He gazed back at her, both sympathy and disappointment carved into his face. He took a step back. Her skin burned. She took a step forward.

“Fucking idiots.” Mr. Mattolini muttered as his arm clasped around her waist, drawing her in with one quick motion “Anyway—oh! My manners. Mr. Gregory Duprez…I hadn’t even noticed you.” He said nonchalantly before disregarding the young man’s presence.

He grimaced.

“How are you, Thomas?”

“I’m well.” Was barely audible as he glanced over, his eyes uninspired.

Gregory’s attention drifted back to Maria. Adorned in her beaded and jeweled garment, hair flowing from beneath the glimmer of her tiara, and with a sorrow poorly veiled by deep mascara and a dusting of eye shadow.

“Here’s your water and lozenges, Miss Cara.”

The sound of her name yanked Maria from her thoughts. Her eyes rolled and with a snatch she held the water and lozenges in her hands.

“Finally.” She muttered.

“Curtains open in two minutes, people! Two minutes, time to move!” Echoed through the backstage area.

She looked to Gregory and noticed him stepping back. She stepped forward.

“Where did you get that ring?” Thomas asked, squinting his eyes.

The rim of the bottled water met her lips and she sipped.

“I have to take my place.” She said quietly before lifting her head and scurrying off.

Melisma and mordent rolling in tandem, moisture trickled down the nape of her neck, clung to her cheeks, and despite the sweltering theatre she continued to sing. Sending a litany of high E’s into the back of the room, she had to touch everyone. The onlookers sitting in the balcony, the audience lining the back of the opera house. The people outside of these four walls. The kingdom in the sky. She had to or else she would die and not only would she die but her life would have proven to be meaningless.

So she sang. Her body, the instrument. Teeth slicing syllables, tongue twisting Italian rhymes, sweet sounds mellifluously rising above the orchestra and floating higher until….Lights out.

Maria continued despite the lack of vision, despite the lost direction of the orchestration, despite the hushed whispers of confusion in the crowd. She forced feelings of intensity out of her stomach, out of her eyes, out of her throat and into the sounds escaping her and with a final release the music stopped, the crowd was silent and the last bit of feeling trapped in her lungs was launched into the world. The applause was sudden. The applause was violent. The applause belonged to her.

Stumbling around within darkness backstage, she could hear the madness. Curses, running, befuddlement. A hand on her wrist. A familiar sensation. A pull she could not break free from. She followed the scent into a space that felt familiar. A door closed. Her dressing room door.

Two hands rest on her hips, causing her pelvis to tremble.

“I’m telling him.”

“You can’t…” She whispered.

“I can and I will.”

Burning palms set empty bodies aflame. Bodies that were now vessels pulsating with a raw lust. Lips and teeth snatching at neck and tongue, craving salt, savoring skin, yearning for more, for everything.

“Maria,” was soft on his palette.

Breasts pressed against chest, digits sliding up thighs, supple cheeks rubbing against stubble, hard ache against soft surrender. Hands crept nearer to the unfulfilled space inside of Maria and her neck fell limp, her breathing grew deep, her fingernails dug deeper.

Black coated their desires, draped over the room, swallowing the building, devouring the streets. And the two allowed it to eat through their bodies, though, it could not consume their thoughts; Maria’s burning with fear, Gregory’s with wonder.

Lights on.

The two paused briefly and Maria pulled away. He clutched her hands and pulled her near.

“Please, Maria…Please!”

Trembles trailed skin. Hers. His. Maria’s vision blurred as teardrops welled in the corners of her pleading eyes.

“Greg…Greg, don’t…don’t make me do this.”

“Do what?” He exclaimed “I’m not doing anything but professing what I feel. What we feel.”

“This isn’t the time, Greg.”

“I will not share you.”

“Share me? As if I’m a piece of property? Your belonging?”

“That isn’t what I meant and you know it,” was stern as it left his mouth “I meant everything I said two months ago. Every single thing.”

“And I didn’t?” She quizzed before wondering if she even had the right to ask.

“If you did,” His hands closed tightly on her left hand “If you did…you’d say yes.”

“I…”

“Just…say…yes, Maria.”

Her chest tightened as though it were seconds away from collapsing, caving in on her hidden desires and secrets. His heavy hands on hers, warm palms, strong fingers, gave her the most indescribable sensations. Sensations only matched by the bliss she found in singing, performing. Eyes like those of a newborn child. A soul like no other she had ever been intimate with. Soft. Gentle. Honest. Resilient.

Knocks on the door.

“Lights are back on, Miss Cara! Curtains need to go back up! The audience is waiting.”

“Maria” Thomas’s muffled tone was ominous as the door opened.

She drew her hands back out of shock and turned towards the opening door. Her back to Gregory, a terror born in her; One she was a stranger to. So intense it was, she was too petrified to turn and face him again.

“…What?” Thomas halted, puzzled “What are you two doing in here?”

“Thomas,” Gregory said, his voice dark and thick “Maria and I are getting—“

“Tired!” Ran from her quivering lips “ We’re getting tired of working under these…these conditions…” She finished, her fingertips shielding her mouth.

“I know, but I can’t do anything about the rolling blackouts.”

Maria could feel the hand of a hurting man grip her left wrist and pull it back. Tense. Torn. Tattered. She felt furious fingers grasp at her ring finger and claw at the golden band that was now just as much a part of her as her lips, as her breasts, as her toes.

Ripped from her body she awaited blood. Prepared to see red droplets decorate the carpet beneath her. Ready for it to accompany the agony. But it never came.

Unable to bring herself to face him, her blank gaze fixated on Thomas who looked perturbed, or perhaps infuriated. And out of the corner of her eyes she caught a glimpse of gold, moments before she watched Gregory walk out towards the doorway. No looking over his shoulder. No pause in his pace. No gentle words to help her sleep sound in the solitude she would face that night. Now he was gone.

“Miss Cara,” the wardrobe supervisor stepped into the room, his voice lost among the thoughts that invaded Maria “Curtains need to go up. Everybody’s waiting for you.”

Her head hung low. She stifled the chaos that fought to rip through her and expose itself to anyone willing to care, willing to notice. Eyes like slate hit the floor, dragging towards the golden glimmer. Two bands. Golden. Just inches apart.


Skin Like Christmas Time

Posted in Dark Fiction, Literary Fiction, Prose, Short Story, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2011 by JC Cecala

Britten was this many years old. Four fingers. He had eyes like blue marbles. Hair like the sunshine he never got to see. Skin like Christmas time, his favorite. And he was this many years old. Three fingers. Brielle and Brianna were his sisters and were old enough to cross the street. They were like mirrors when they stood next to one another. Same cheeks, same nose, same kneecaps, same toes. Their skin was like chocolate cake just like mommy’s and daddy’s and sometimes they played games with him like red rover, tag, and capture the flag. But mostly they laughed at him.

They covered their teeth like milk, with pudgy fingers and giggled. They flicked names from their tongues. Highlighter. Casper. Invisible. He didn’t know what any of them meant but the words punctured his still thin skin.

Mommy and daddy were nice to him even though they made him stay inside a lot. They held him, kissed him, and let him eat cupcakes. But sometimes they got mad at Britten and would send him to his room. He’d cry and pout and they felt bad. Play with your toys. Play with your plush lamb, the one we bought for your birthday they would say. That made tears drip faster. He didn’t like playing with that toy anymore especially since the red appeared on its wool.

On Sundays his parents and sisters left him with his cousin Larry who could cross the street by himself too, and rode his bicycle without a helmet. Britten hated Sunday more than medicine, more than monsters. He knew it was coming before it arrived. He imagined all of the fun things his family was doing like riding carousels, cascading through clouds, discovering forgotten worlds, and chasing leprechauns. All the while he was hostage inside of four walls; blinds drawn, curtains closed.

Larry liked playing games with Britten. There were no animated action figures, no matchbox cars or play dough. There were promises of going outside to blow on dandelions and fly Brielle’s white kite if Britten played the game without crying.

Sometimes they played in the family room. Once they played it in the garage. It was the only time Britten didn’t cry too much because for once he got to go outside even if it was only for a moment. But mostly, they played the game in Britten’s bedroom. Come inside Larry would say. Your lamb is calling, baah baah. Let’s play with it.

Every Sunday afternoon Britten’s family would return with lots of big bags. No pot of gold or artifacts from their day of adventure. Just those little green trees, the yucky ones his mother said were good for him, and new socks.

Thank you, Larry, they would say, as he tossed Britten’s dirty lamb onto the kitchen table. Brielle and Brianna would hug and kiss him and everyone would stand around forever and squint their licorice eyes, clasp their cocoa hands, and show their milky teeth. Everyone except Britten who was this many years old. Four fingers. Had eyes like blue marbles. Hair like the sunshine he never got to see, and skin like Christmas time, his favorite.

Nobody saw him in the corner of the room, his white skin tugging at black curtains.

 Aquarius

Posted in Dark Fiction, Literary Fiction, Prose, Short Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2011 by JC Cecala


“…Sign the papers, Randall.”

“God damnit, Lucille,” Thrusting his fork onto the table he roared “I’m not signing any God damn papers!”

She lowered her head and stared at her coupe shaped plate. The silver. The delicate pattern of diminutive rose stems and petals.The stream of gravy seeping from the lumps of mashed potatoes and saturating beneath her half eaten pork chop. With fork in hand she poked at the food before completely losing her appetite.

His lips were tight. His vision seared through the skin of her dejected face. Slowly, her sable eyes rose from the plate to meet a gaze screaming with vehemence.

“I told you,” Using his free hand he lifted the newspaper he had been reading “I’m not signing them…I’m not!”

Lucille solemnly shook her head. Standing up, she lifted her dish from the table and walked to the metallic garbage can. Placing her foot on the pedal the lid sprung open. Staring into the black hole before her she hesitated before dropping the entire plate inside and walking towards the sink. Randall bellowed a laugh and she turned to look at him. He was still immersed in his newspaper and with a mouth half full of masticated pig meat he exclaimed “Listen to this! Aquarius: Today your sense of control and logic will yield to your more impulsive side. Emotions may get the best of you so be wary of your actions.

She stared at him with a despondency that she had grown too attached to over the last few years. His thin lips, usually pursed and wet, fanned an ire in her she struggled to keep from imploding. The raspy, dark tone of his voice was one she dreaded hearing when awakening in the morning. The feeling of those fingertips and palms against her slender frame had become a cringe-worthy experience and though she had never openly said so, she oftentimes found herself forgetting his name.

“…And why is that humorous?”

“Well,” He inhaled deeply, his face etched with arrogance “ Emotions may get the best of you. How? God knows you barely have any.” He flipped to the next page.

“Oh.” Facing the sink once more, she looked out of the kitchen window.

The saffron sky was reminiscent of her garden. The dendrobium orchids and lavender flowers she spent entire June afternoons with. Before Randall decided that a deck took precedence over the sanctuary of perfume and colors she had nurtured for years.

Wiping the hurt from her wet eyes she reached for the faucet handle before stopping herself.

“I asked you to wash these glasses before we sat down to eat.”

“What was that?” He mumbled from behind his newspaper.

“These glasses…in the sink. I asked you to wash them before I set the table for dinner…yet they’re still sitting here untouched.”

“Just put them in the dishwasher.”

“…I can’t.”

A throaty sigh was released before forcing “Why not?” from his mouth.

“…The dishwasher doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked for weeks. I’ve asked you to take a look at it several times.”

“Oh,” He flipped a page “I’ll get to it.”

“You’ll…you’ll get to it?” Her torso twisted in his direction “When? You’re always getting to something but it never gets done.”

“Don’t Lucille.”

“Just like I asked you to fix the window in the bedroom or put new batteries in the smoke detectors.”

“It’s February! Nobody opens windows in February! So stupid,” He mumbled “And we’ve  gone this long without working smoke detectors. What’s a few more days?”

“…Or to hang the new oil painting I made.” She added, almost inaudibly.

Randall poked his head up from behind the newspaper, his fingers digging into the pages he held.

“Why is it still sitting in the garage?”

“Because it’s atrocious. You’re not an artist, Lucille. I already put the other one you did in the living room…as hideous as it is.”

Somewhere inside of her she heard a crack and felt something like the last glimpse of the sun’s edge fading into a charcoal night. Turning to face him she made her way back to the table. She lifted up the papers sitting to the right of her cutlery and place setting.

“Sign the papers.”

He slammed what he was reading down and his body tore from his chair, rocking the wobbly legs of the wooden table and spilling his glass of scotch and soda in the process. Lucille didn’t move nor wince.

“I told you! I’m not signing them!”

“I’m not happy.”

“Yes, you are! You are happy! You don’t have to worry about bills or money. I buy you everything you want! Your art classes, your yarn…everything you want!”

“I wanted to work…you can’t buy work,” She swallowed hard “I wanted children…you can’t buy babies. I wanted a few reasonable things…not everything. Just a few…reasonable things…that can’t be bought.”

Red. He was red. Lines carved into his twisted face, his lips pursed together as she knew they would. She extended the papers she held towards him.

“The papers–”

Before she could complete her string of words he slapped her hand aside, sending the papers into his plate of half eaten food. Her eyes darted after them, watching as they landed. She sighed.

“…Now they’re stained.” She reached out for retrieval.

Randall grabbed the papers and with a brutish ferocity he shoved the table aside. It toppled, his plate and glass smashing onto the tile beneath them. Forks, knives, and spoons danced in separate directions to the music of their handles and tips clattering before coming to stand stills. He leapt out at his wife, then halted, the tips of their noses touching. Lucille remained still, staring into the two blue abysses that glared through her.

Tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth, a low tone lifted from his gut.

“I am not going to…repeat myself,” the sound of papers tearing penetrated Lucille and she shuddered “ You’re not leaving me. You can’t! You love me…you love me. Do you understand? And if you…if you pull this shit again…Lucy, I swear.”

Not a noise fled from her.

“I said, do you understand me?” He repeated, his voice elevating, breath fiery on her flushed cheeks “As long as you’re in my house. You’re not going anywhere.”

Glancing away she closed her eyes. That cracking sound, the one inside, sharp and cutting like bones being snapped. She could hear it again. She felt it, the little black lines opening wider, spreading, trickling into depths she had left discarded and unexplored. Her brows burrowed before her hand swept over her forehead, guiding loose strands of ash brown hair behind her right ear. A gentle exhale followed.

“I’m speaking to you!” He flung the torn papers to the side and she felt his fingertips digging into her arms, shaking her with a jolted force.

Quietude hung heavy over the moment, taunting, teasing. An experience that seemed to expand into an epoch. Lungs pressed into her sides with a heavy force. A heart violently thudding into her ribs. Her very being quaking through her chest. And then it happened. It broke.

“…Yes.” She whispered.

“Yes? You love me?”

“…Yes, I understand…As long as I’m in your house, I’m,” she paused, her attention drifting to the right of her, through the open kitchen window, at the saffron sky “I’m not going anywhere.”

He nodded. One by one his fingers fell from her, his arms pulling back to the sides they sprouted from. Adjusting his collar he took a few steps back before completely turning away from her and tucking his shirt into his slacks.

“I’m going to the office now,” He looked over his shoulder; she was still standing in the same spot “I’ve got some work to wrap up.”

Lucille had been moved. Moved to a place she was estranged to. She was soaking in this unfamiliar sensation and nothing other than this odd, aberrant feeling seemed important. He spoke. She nodded.

“I should be back in a couple of hours.” He neared the doorway to the dining room.

“Randall.”

The hushed tone grabbed his feet, held them still.

“…Yes, Lucy.” Incapable of bringing himself to face her, his body aflame and eyes watering,  he looked down at his shoes.

“Before you go…would you please bring the tool kit in from the garage.”

“What for?”

“So I can take my painting down…I don’t want to leave the nails in the wall.”

He turned to her, but didn’t look her in the face “Lucy, you don’t have to–”

“No,” was sharp as it slit his sentence in half “I want to.”

“Alright.”

Lucille followed him to the backdoor, watching him walk across the deck, the graveyard of her flowers, and into the garage. Emerging with a dust ridden black box, he brought it inside and set it down on the floor. Standing, his arm reached out, taking her left hand in his. She twitched. He smiled.

The scent of freshly applied cologne invaded her space. The cologne he kept hidden in a box of odds and ends in their garage. The same way he assumed he had kept other secrets stashed in places she’d never conjure up or figure out. And she allowed him to believe in her non-existent ignorance.

“I love you, Lucy. You give me life. I take the vows we made 22 years ago…very, very seriously…I love you.”

His pain trodden face made the quiver of an abrupt giggle rise from her gut, but she caught it with the tip of her tongue and back of her teeth, and to make sure it didn’t slip through her lips, she covered her mouth with her right hand. He smirked.

Once composure was recaptured, she slowly exposed her thin pink mouth.

 

She watched the sleek, black sports car Randall had purchased several months ago, speed by the house before turning from the window and making her way to the living room. She stood in the center and looked around. The beige carpet tickling the soles of her bare feet was one of the many objects she despised. The decorum of this room reeked of Randall. From the eggshell colored walls, barren of anything but her painting, the one he found hideous. It was hanging over the brown suede sofa against the wall.

Climbing onto the furniture, her fingertips glided down the sides of her artwork. The array of pastels were smoothly smeared across the once blank canvas. In the middle of all the gentle, soft beauty was a violent, red smudge. It evoked a havoc. It evoked hatred. It ruined everything else around it, which was why she splattered it in the center.

Lucille carried it to the garage where she could still smell him in the air. Shaking her head, she walked to where the other painting had been stored, a white cloth hiding it. Tearing the cloth away, she placed the painting she had carried against the one he had refused to hang. The fabric was then thrown to the floor before she returned to the house.

Stepping into the dining area in the kitchen her head fell to the floor. She observed the litter of memories. Hostility. Animosity. Disgust. Hatred. Shards of glass were dispersed amongst the tile along with remnants of the meal she had prepared earlier and the now shredded papers Randall had been refusing to sign for the last three months.

Lucille spotted the newspaper and tiptoed towards it, minding the jagged trails of glass beneath her. Lifting it, she thumbed through the wrinkled literature until she came across today’s horoscopes.

“Capricorn,” She read under her breath “It may be a good idea to retreat into yourself today as you are feeling rather moody. Try not to take this out on others as the consequences may prove a poor choice and cause discord.”

A docile smile crossed her face. The newspaper drifted back onto the floor and she left the kitchen the same way she had found it.

Lifting the tool kit with both hands, she walked upstairs and entered the master bedroom. Dropping the heavy box onto the bed she eyed the only window there. She never wanted to live in this house because of the medium-sized, solitary window in the bedroom. Little light danced against her skin in the morning and the stars were strangers come night.

Now the only bedroom window needed to be repaired. She could lift it but it wouldn’t stay propped. There had been something wrong with the sliders for almost half the year now and Randall still had not fixed it, though he handed out promise after promise that he’d do so.

Grabbing a small number of nails in one hand and a hammer in the other she approached the window. Head tilted, she examined where the bottom of the wooden pane met the sill before dropping the pin-shaped items to the ground and kneeling. Lifting one of the miniature, steel, pointed rods she was meticulous with its placement against the pane’s projecting edge. Once certain, the hammer came down.

Lucille spent about forty minutes repeating this act along the window’s bottom until she was positive it could no longer be opened at all. Once finished, she pulled out the top drawer of the nightstand on Randall’s side of the bed. Rummaging, she found what she was searching for almost instantly; a fading bronze key. Placing it on top of the disarray made up of loose papers, crossword puzzles, watches and calculators, she then closed the drawer. She returned the hammer and remaining nails to the tool kit and lugged it back into the garage, leaving it in the exact spot it originally was.

Back inside of the house she again returned to the dining room. During the span of an hour she managed to wipe down the counters, clean the stove top, sweep and mop the floor as well as lift the table back on its four legs. Lucille did not wash the dishes that were left in the sink from earlier. She refused to.

Finished with this, she went to the cellar and retrieved two bottles of wine then fetched  two chianti wine glasses from the cupboard and brought them upstairs to the bedroom. She knew Randall would be home shortly and she craved perfection tonight.

***

“What is this?”

He stood in their bedroom doorway, greeted with the caresses of lavender and the faint scent of honeysuckle. Dim moonlight and scented candles sent a glow through out the space and softened the hard edges of everything in the room. This included Lucille who sat on the corner of the bed, limbs languid and adorned in a black, see-through peignoir, exposing her ample cleavage and the curves that trailed her hips, thighs and legs.

“…Welcome home.” Her voice was faint.

Still awe-struck he stepped inside, almost cautiously, looking around.

“What’s going on here?”

Her body lifted from the bed and she glided towards the red oak chifforobe in the far corner. A stare stuck to her slinking across the room, watching delicate arms reach for what appeared to be two wine glasses atop the piece of bedroom furniture.

“It’s Zenato Amarone, your favorite.” She spoke quietly, turning around, a full glass in each hand.

Her eyes were low and gazed at him in a way he had never seen.

“Where’s this coming from?” He asked.

She looked him up and down and noticed he had no briefcase with him and the belt he had left wearing was no longer wrapped around his waist. This used to make her flinch, but tonight, nothing resonated. Instead, she swayed to him and extended a glass.

“I’m..I’m tired of fighting.” She whispered, looking into the glass she now held with both hands.

“Lucy, Lucy, I am too.” He exclaimed, his glazed eyes now lit.

She could smell the bourbon on his hot breath. She shook her head.

“You look so good, Lucy…so good.” He reached out and pulled her close.

“Careful,” Her frame gently drew back from his feeble grasp “We don’t want red wine on your carpet.”

He grinned “No, we..we don’t, huh?”

Lucille placed her lips upon the brim and took a sip before leading Randall to the bed.

“Is that…are those–” He pointed to several small, clear bottles on her nightstand.

“Massage oils,” She answered “ finish your glass so I can pour you another.”

The navy sky melted into black and two bottles later, Lucille was now clad in nothing but her panties. All of Randall’s attire was strewn across the room and his stomach was pressed onto the Egyptian cotton sheets sprawled atop their mattress. She straddled his posterior, thighs tight against his hips, her wet hands glimmering in the candle light. She glided more of the ginger scented oil across his broad bare back and defined shoulders, then down his lengthy arms, thin wrists, the outlines of his wide palms, and laced her fingers with his, avoiding the tips.

“Do you like how this feels?” There was no response.

Leaning forward, her breasts pressed against the back of his neck, her bottom lip barely grazing his earlobe as she placed her mouth beside him and whispered “Are you sleeping?” to a still unresponsive man.

She felt his body rise and lower at a slow and steady pace before climbing off of him. Taking her robe from the closet, she wrapped herself up before gathering his clothing. Using his shirt she wiped as much of the oil off of her hands as she could, before placing it beneath the window, on top of his slacks and undergarments. She then closed the draped curtains, isolating herself from the star dusted sky as well as the looming moon.

“You know,” She paused “Oh yes, Randall. You know…It hasn’t been twenty-two years. It has been twenty-three. Twenty-three years, seven months, and two weeks since we spoke those vows.”

Turning around she looked at his nude body as he lay, intense in slumber, lips parted, drool spilling into the puddle forming around his protruding cheek.

“But I guess..vows are just simple words you say in front of God…”

Lucille left him passed out in their room and walked downstairs, back into the kitchen. Standing behind the sink, with her pinky and ring finger she pulled one of the curtains of the kitchen window aside. A part of her hoped to see the same shade of saffron from earlier but instead she was greeted with black. The same black she saw upstairs. A black that stretched across the sky then dripped down to the edges of the horizon. A sigh escaped her and she took off her wedding ring before lifting the faucet handle.

After washing her hands she dried them with a dish towel. Walking across the kitchen she opened a cabinet and pulled a pan out, placing it on one of the coils of the stovetop. Twisting a knob she waited for that familiar click before seeing a spectacle of blue and orange erupt from beneath the pan. She then turned the flame down. Drizzling a thin stream of oil onto the pan, she observed the yellow liquid as it spread across, the same way the massage oils did in the dips and curves of Randall’s body.

Opening the refrigerator she pulled out two already seasoned pork chops from the same batch she had prepared earlier. She placed them in the pan, a bit of oil splattering.

Lucille climbed up the flights of stairs once more and entered the bedroom.

“Randall..if you’re awake, please..please say something.”

No response.

“..If only you had just..” She sighed and shook her head.

Walking to a group of the half melted candles placed atop the chest at the foot of the bed, she lifted two by their holders and walked to the window, her robe coming undone and wafting behind her. She stopped then closed her eyes and listened for her heartbeat. Nothing.

Inhaling deeply, she sucked in more air than she ever had in her forty-two years of existence. And as she exhaled, she extended both arms and moments later she parted her lids.

They spread wide, exposing eyes that instantly absorbed the shade of amber running across the fabric that fell over the window. Stepping back she leaned over and placed the flaming candle tips to the bottom of the curtains, watching the blaze first nibble then devour the intricate ruffles then spread to his pile of clothes.

A few moments had passed before she set the candles down in front of the blaze. Randall’s nightstand drawer was then opened and she pulled out the key she had found earlier. Walking to the foot of the bed she looked down at him, a culmination of brilliant yellows, intense oranges, and soft reds invading her peripheral line of vision. This slippery, sleeping body was luminous and the urge of touch was something Lucille suddenly found herself fighting against.

“I wanted a career. You wanted a house wife. I wanted a family. You wanted abortion after abortion.. after abortion..tubes torn..I wanted art. You wanted your armchair and reruns. I wanted travel. You wanted work. I wanted laughter. You wanted silence. I wanted your love. You wanted theirs… I just wanted a few reasonable things…you wanted everything. And I’m so tired of fighting..I’m so tired,” the grumbling embers ignited into a blazing outcry “So..you win, Randall. You win.”

Swinging a limp arm she knocked the remaining candles on the chest over before heading towards the door, not bothering to turn and see if anything else had caught fire. The crackling of burn followed her, calling her name, tapping her shoulder, yet still, she had no interest in looking back. Exiting, she closed the door and inserted that key into the keyhole, twisting until the final click of a lock was heard. Cli-clack.

Downstairs, Lucille flipped the pork chops. Though burnt, they smelled delicious, with an aroma that was for some reason, more enticing than the ones she had prepared earlier. She imagined what her garden would have looked like if it were still out back. The purples and violets and saffrons would have rivaled how beautiful the sky was that evening. And they would’ve made a lovely bouquet she could’ve used for a table centerpiece.

The sound of an intense impact ripped her from her land of wonder. Another thud followed along with the sound of a dull bellow. She listened to the vibrations of movement dragging above her head. A long, trill screech was followed by a louder thud that shook the house. Lucille flipped the pig meat again before walking to the table, looking at the torn white papers and the key next to it. The key was then picked up and placed in the right pocket of her robe, the pieces of paper, in the left.

A thick black smog seeped into the kitchen and she only noticed this once breathing became a bit more difficult. She walked across the room to the antique wall telephone. Lucille then lifted the receiver and after coughing for a short spell, dialed 911 and placed it to her ear.

“911, what is the nature of your emergency?”

Silence.

“911, what is the nature of your emergency?” The dispatcher repeated.

“My husband’s house is on fire…”

“You said your husband’s house is on fire?”

“Yes..” she coughed.

“Okay, ma’am. Are you in the house?”

“Yes!” She exclaimed.

“Okay, is there anyone else inside the house?”

“He’s upstairs.”

“Okay, I’m going to need you both to get out of the house, do you understand?”

“Alright.”

“Now, before you leave, can you give me the address?”

“6366 West Dyer Boulevard.”

“Okay, we’ll have someone there right away, okay ma’am? Now is this a cell phone or a house phone…ma’am?”

Releasing the telephone she heard plastic collide with tile. She turned away. Walked to the front door. Her fingers slipped around the knob and gripped tightly. Open. She floated down steps of cement. Feet bare, they lead her into the middle of the front lawn. Moisture of dew tickling her soles. Tickling her soul.

She now faced the house, her husband’s house. The second story engulfed in the roaring flames of a ravenous blaze and the fervid angst of a broken woman.

..Till death do us part, she thought.

The torrid light ran rampant in the calm of her desolate eyes.

“…You should’ve just signed the papers.”

Cherries

Posted in Dark Fiction, Excerpt, Literary Fiction, Prose, Short Story, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2010 by JC Cecala

He really was beautiful standing there in all of his newly stolen glory, wrapped inside of the night he had created. Nothing shone but the refrigerator light illuminating his pasty white flesh and eyes like glass as he stood before it like the triumphant warrior he believed himself to be. I could still taste him on the roof of my mouth as he looked at me, smirking, red juices dripping down from the corners of his curled lips.

“…Those cherries are mine…My mother gave them to me.”

“They taste so good…they’re ripe,” was all he could manage to say, his mouth full as he continued chomping like a complete slob.

I lifted my back from the cold, thick glass table beneath me, then slid my uncovered skin across the top. The second my bare feet hit the surface of my floor I could feel the moisture trickling down my thighs and drop onto the ground. I  could hear it slither over my flesh like the serpent of Eden fleeing the scene of chaos he had concocted. Then a moment of silence before the next drop plummeted and yet again another pause.

“You okay?” He asked, almost concerned.

I remained silent as I stood there bewildered and freezing. So cold that my hair stood on end and I wanted to be held so badly. I wanted to feel so desperately but had he touched me at that very moment, I would have slit his throat.

What happened to my home? Where am I? I wondered as I felt my feet begin to walk away, my hands feeling the nearby wall for the light switch so I could expose him; so he could see himself in the light. So he could see me in the light.

“Ah! What the hell? Turn those fucking lights off!”

That was when my eyes pierced his. They seemed to be screaming as they looked back at me and I couldn’t resist staring. I could see the rage festering from his squinting eyes and I waited for it to storm through out the entire kitchen; all over my house, ripping the walls apart again. But it didn’t. He just laughed.

“You’re gorgeous…go clean up and go to bed, sweetheart,” he said amiably…softly…gently.

I didn’t notice it until then, but there it was, smeared on the wall next to him. I could feel my face shift to the commands of disbelief and ferocity permeating from within myself. His smacking and slurping penetrated me and I finally turned my attention back on him, still looking at me, still eating my cherries. My god damned cherries.

“What?” He asked, nonchalant as he turned his body to look at the stains on my wall, the blemishes he put there, “Oh…Nah, don’t worry about that.” He spat several seeds onto the floor, tiny droplets of red splattering.

“You’re a fucking pig.”

“Shut up! I’ll clean it,” He calmed himself “I’ll clean up everything. No one will notice.” He turned back to the refrigerator.

I’m sure he’d try but my home would never be as untainted as it once was. Stains like that never faded from white walls. They made their mark and lived on, a constant, inescapable figure.

“Was it good?”

“Huh?” He closed the refrigerator door and started to suck the red from his fingers, his wet lips coated in indulgences.

He then ran them through his chestnut red hair. So wavy and glossy. I paused, suspended inside of that moment, looking at his unclothed chest and defined abdomen; the kind I’ve seen plastered on high fashion ads far too often. He was toned and brawny, tall, attractive. I’m sure all of the college girls clamored for his attention. To be with him. To reap the privileges of being his. I guess that made me lucky. Lucky or damned.

“I asked you, was it good?”

“Those were the best cherries I’ve ever had.”

I knew he enjoyed it. That was all I needed to know.

“Goodnight.” I solemnly said as I flicked the lights off.

I walked out of the kitchen and left him to finish his victory meal amongst empty cupboards, dollies, half packed cardboard boxes scribbled with fragile and this side up, and masking tape. I was as destitute as my cupboards and my head was throbbing. At that point all I wanted to do was retreat to my nightmares since they always kept me sane.

***

She was there. Standing right there, her spirit so worn out you could hear it whimper from the corners of her parted lips; her vacant, docile mouth wanting to say something…Say it. I ran towards her without dignity, without pride, I ran full force. Faster, faster, faster! But the faster I ran the farther out of reach she became and even though I knew this, I kept running. No one in this world would keep me from her. The anger of God himself couldn’t compare to the wrath I’d unleash on anyone or anything that tried.

I opened my mouth to scream but all that escaped me was a horrifying choke. My lungs began to ache as I struggled to inhale air that reeked of fear and smog. I couldn’t let her get away. She needed me the same way I needed her. A need deeper than simply that. You could keep air from my gasping mouth and I’d still live to protect her. No food or drink could ever tempt my tongue for every remaining second of this world and I’d still exist to make sure she was safe. No one understood. No one ever understands what they’re afraid of.

Suddenly she was out of my line of vision. I could no longer see my mother’s face; the face that was marked with invisible scars that life had left as reminders of the past. This didn’t stop my feet from moving, my legs from stretching as wide as they could with every futile dash.

“—ie…Jolea.”

The sound. That voice.

“Jolea, honey..get up.”

I thought about opening my eyes as I lay there in bed. Was it really necessary for me to wake up? What would I do with this already wasted day?

“The movers are here, sweetie. You need to get up. You have to shower and get dressed.”

I finally decided to open my eyes. Wrong choice. I peered at her from beneath the fluffy, white comforter that intertwined with my body and she smiled at me with lips that were all over him last night and this morning. It made me want to vomit up my insides but I guess she couldn’t hear my thoughts because she kissed me on my forehead before saying, “Come on, baby. Chop, chop. We’ll probably be leaving in about an hour.” And after that, she was gone again.

I’ve often awakened with and indescribable feeling borrowing into my chest. I don’t remember when it started harassing me and I don’t recall how I felt before it came, but with each passing day it dug deeper and deeper and I’ve given up trying to stop it. So as I lie here attempting to muster up energy to roll out of bed, a million thoughts consume the space between my ears.

If I stayed in bed perhaps she’d stop this entire charade. If I refused to get up maybe she’d realize that she was making a huge mistake. If I left this house I’d be leaving myself behind; I’d be giving up the battle and finishing the war in a territory I wasn’t familiar with..and that would be unfair.

“Jolea!”

Leave me alone!

“…Yes?”

“Are you up?” She asked from downstairs.

“…Sadly.”

“What?” She yelled, my tone being too low.

“I said yes!” I rolled my eyes as I turned over onto my right side and stared out of my window.

I loved my house. I knew it inside and out, so well…better than anybody else. The enormous deck, the stone patio, the gazebo in the backyard which was so vibrant with life…everyone always commented on how beautiful the outside of my home was but only I knew how to appreciate what was inside.

I knew all of the sounds, each of the smells, the way the light glistened through windows on long, lazy summer days that I never wanted to end. I loved the way the beige carpet felt against the soles of my bare feet, especially after… I loved the way the bathroom sink’s knobs were mismatched so that the cold faucet ran warm water and warm, cold. I loved the split in the wall that my brother and I accidentally made when we were goofing around. My Mom covered it with a replica Monet portrait, the way she tries to cover up imperfections…it’s in our family room. I even loved the way the stairs creaked when you tried to tiptoe…but most of all, I loved my bedroom.

The soft yellow walls and white carpeting comforted me through very red and black periods. It was once my palace, decorated with optimistic art I had made myself, creating an atmosphere of possibilities and promise. Walls plastered with posters, pictures of laughing friends, mirrors, and closets filled with bright, colorful clothing, shoes, secrets, and costumes.

I used to stare at the posters so much that they came to life. All of the cute actors would court me during our secret rendezvous; each one of those godlike men wanted me and only me but I never could decide which one I’d spend my life with.

Ballerinas would accompany me as I danced around, working on my ballonarabesque, and spinning in circles until my vision swirled into a soupy water painting. And some nights, Pop groups joined me as I belted their songs at the top of my lungs and of course I stole the show, adding runs and melisma to their chart topping successes. I used to live in magic. My house was once magic.

Now it was hollow and recollections echoed from the corners, almost tauntingly… It’s hard to love it the way I used to. There were no more sweet aromas. A repairman recently screwed around with our sink so now it works just fine and it has been eternity since laughter even crept in. My room was empty of everything except big brown boxes, my bed and of course, me. But it was hollow far before everything was packed up and taken out…it’s been hollow for quite some time now.

“Jojo!”

“What?”

“Mother said to get up.”

“…I am up, see..I’m talking.”

“Some people talk in their sleep.”

“I don’t.”

“You know mother wants you out of bed and ready soon.”

“And what if I don’t want to leave?”

“I don’t think it matters, Jojo.”

“It never does, does it?”

“‘Scuse me, little guy.” A voice which had never tickled my ear spoke.

I rolled over onto my other side to face the doorway and to my surprise a young man was standing there. The bass in his voice built up the image of a tall, husky, middle-aged man, but instead my expectations were greeted with someone in his mid-twenties and not too harsh on the eyes.

“Oh, hey, um..your mother..?” He paused, the uncertainty in his voice far too audible.

I looked like a young female replica of my sperm donor…I mean, father. From his sharp, defined features, to his deep, slanted emerald eyes, raven hair, even his sand colored skin…and I hated it. Not because I hated myself but because I hated him. So I’m accustomed to people being unsure of my relationship to my mother. After all, we look nothing alike.

I looked at this new man from bottom to top. From his outdated, ratty construction boots to his loose fitting, dingy blue jeans, to his off-white muscle tank top, to the red baseball cap on his shaven head…then I looked at his hard, jagged face…and nodded.

“Yeah,” he laughed nervously “Your mom said to empty the rooms out first so…”

“I guess that means I should move.” I sat up, using my comforter to cover my chest, running my fingers through the waves of my hair before flipping it over my shoulder, not once looking away from the stranger.

“Well, yeah,” he laughed, the way people laugh when they know nothing is funny “Unless you want me to carry you out too.”

“Doesn’t sound like a bad idea.”

I could see him tense up. His eyes told me that he was nervous and I found that to be quite humorous. Just to make the moment a bit more awkward I allowed my comforter to slip and fall onto my lap, revealing my newly budding accessories underneath my powder pink, lace camisole.

Immediately he was trying his very best to avoid looking at them. The struggle itself made me giggle, and I could see him beginning to blush…Tsk, tsk, tsk. Boys are so predictable.

“I’m joking,” I lied. “…I’ll get up, sir. I’ll let you do your job.” I whipped the comforter off of the bed, showing off my long, slender legs, subtle curves that were becoming my hips, and the blood stain on the front of my white, cotton underwear.

Looking at it for a moment, I began to chuckle. Because if I didn’t chuckle, I would’ve screamed until my vocal chords exploded.

I scooted off of the queen sized mattress only to see small, red droplets on my sheet and that’s when I remembered the man standing in the doorway. I wanted him to die…but when I didn’t hear his body immediately hit the floor I looked up at him. He was looking at the blood on my bed then to the front of my clothing and then into my eyes; panic seeping across his face. My throat tightened as memories of the previous night started reappearing and a sense of struggle draped itself around my wrists and between my thighs. I closed my eyes tightly and shook my head before pausing. Beginning to laugh quietly, I started to walk out of my room and upon passing him, shrugged and said “Aunt Flow. Boy, I tell you, you never know when she’s coming to town.”

I remember when I was a little girl and everything made perfect sense because nothing made sense at all. The world was perfect. We were perfect. It’s funny how perfection starts to crack. You don’t really notice it at first and by the time you finally do, you figure it’ll go away. Before you know it, the crack is a fissure and the fissure leaves what you thought you knew in a mangled mess at your feet. No one helps you pick up the pieces. No one even warns you. One day I was wearing pig tails and a frilly pink dress. My Mary Jane’s were on my feet, click clacking beneath me as I ran on the pavement, chasing dreams. The next day I’m here…and where here is I can’t be sure.

I don’t know how to put into words what happened between then and now. I’d say it hit me like a whirlwind, you know, the cliché it came out of nowhere, but then I’d be lying. The truth is I watched it happen the entire time. Actually, it was almost like slow motion. I remember so many details, so many images, so much…and though my eyes were open portals, my hands were tied with either pretty ribbons, or Barbie dolls, or shiny charm bracelets, or whatever the hell else they gave me to preoccupy my time.

I guess it all led up to now. To me scrubbing my skin because I couldn’t tear my soul out of it. Trying to remove history from myself, mistakes I couldn’t erase, with nothing more than a white luffa sponge and body wash. I remained in the shower for twenty minutes, scrubbing sensation from my breasts…filth from my thighs…taste from my lips…but it wouldn’t go away. History had left its mark within my bones, hidden and tucked away. I couldn’t even manage to get past the surface.

Holding back tears, I left them to throb in the corners of my eyes, the way I always had. Crying is for the weak, the emotionally unstable. I wouldn’t give in that easily. So I stood there, streams of blistering daggers stabbing at my skin, beating it bright red. I opened my mouth, inhaling the intolerable humidity, catching beads of water on my tongue. I was curious to know if the water burned more than my throat…more than my chest…more than my mind, but it didn’t.

I finally turned the water off and watched the remaining puddles in the bathtub trickle into the drain. I could still see it. Every single moment played over and over again in the back of my mind like a silent, black and white film. I had no choice but to watch it,all by myself and I wouldn’t dare tell her…But where the fuck was she? Of course the enemy held her captivated, but I had always held her in such high regard; the highest regard. How many times did she need to be fucked over before she realized that it never changes? This new family she was trying to create did seem perfect. But perfection is a lie.

“Jolea, aren’t you going to eat your breakfast?

I looked at the two strawberry frosted donuts in front of me then over to her.

“… What happened to real breakfast?” I questioned as I hovered over the black and white marble surface of the kitchen island, looking from the donuts to my vague reflection.

“You know all of the pots and pans are packed. I can’t cook anything anyhow. I threw all of the leftover food out. There’s nothing here.” She laughed a light laugh to herself as if I wanting to eat a home cooked breakfast in my house for the last time was some sort of unbelievable joke.

I gazed at the back of her as she fiddled with whatever paperwork she had on the counter. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply, catching traces of her perfume and saving them for later.

“And where’s your step-brother? He did stay over last night, didn’t he?” She quizzed.

“…Yes.” Was all I could muster as my body stiffened at the sound of his reference.

“You can’t leave teenage girls home alone these days. It’s sad what this world is coming to.” She shook her head as she licked her thumb and turned a page.

“He stole my cherries…last night, Reid devoured my cherries, mom.” I whispered, my voice giving out as I stared down at the donuts.

“No honey, the donuts have strawberry frosting on them.” She responded, flipping a few pages and picking up her pen to scribble something.

She wasn’t listening…she wasn’t listening again.

“He bought them?” I asked, already aware of the answer.

She turned away from the kitchen window where she could see the moving truck and looked at me with intensity in her eye; the same intensity that reared its head whenever I referred to him as he. It was that same intensity that insisted on challenging my tenacity.

“Yes,” She said harshly “Herald, your step-father did buy the donuts. And thanks so much for inquiring on our honey moon. It was lovely, thanks.”

“…I usually ask questions about things that matter.”

“Why you ungrateful little—”

“Mother!”

Within a blink the expression had vanished and she was smiling as she turned to my younger brother and responded “Yes, sweetheart?”

“Are we leaving yet?” He asked enthusiastically, coming to a complete stop to the right of her.

No. We’re never leaving.

“Almost. I think the movers are loading the last of our things. Did you have fun at Craig’s last night?”

“Yeah! We got to play video games all night after the birthday party!”

“Exciting,” She humored him as always “And now my little man is ready for our big move!”

“…I’m not going.” I said, quietly.

I didn’t mean for it to come out but by the time I tried to close my lips the words had somehow skinned the tips of my teeth and escaped the overcrowded dungeon known as my orifice.

She looked at me, puzzled and asked “Excuse me?”

I stared at her. She had an intimidating stature for a petite French woman that only stood at the height of 5’5”. Her silky blonde hair which turned into loose curls at the ends was draped over her delicate shoulders; she never let it grow much longer than her shoulders. Her skin was always a sun kissed olive and lied about her actual age for her. I glanced at my brother, who looked exactly like her, before looking back at her face.

She didn’t move at all as her light brown eyes attentively focused on my mouth. Her attire for this morning consisted of classic beige high heels and a matching skirt that flared at the bottom and swooped just below her knees, swaying with every gentle movement of air. She wore a white, short sleeved blouse with a garnet pendant in the shape of a butterfly on her right breast. Her choice earrings were tiny ruby studs and of course she was wearing no make-up. I was looking at the most breathtaking creation I had ever seen. Artwork a mere mortal didn’t deserve.

“I’ll ask once more, Jolea,” she said sternly, taking a step towards me “Beg your pardon?”

“…I said I’m not going.” I poked at the frosting on the donut then placed my fingertips gently onto my bottom lip.

“Well, you can’t stay here.” She said, shrugging like she didn’t even care.

“Why not?”

“Can you pay mortgage? Can you buy groceries? Can you pay for utilities?”

I looked at her, cocking my head to the side and then gave a tired smile “…Could you?”

“What did you say to me?” I listened to the fury rumbling in her gut.

I raised an eyebrow.

“Jolea Abdul-Noor. I’ll ask once more…What did you say to me?”

“I just…I don’t think it’s fair for you to expect me to be able to pay for all of those things…well, when you yourself couldn’t do it either…that’s all…” My voice was hushed and airy as I pinched the side of one of the soft donuts between my fingers, still looking at her.

She charged towards me like a rampant bull toward anything moving and if it weren’t for the island in between us, I don’t know if I would’ve lived to tell the rest of my story.

Her balled fists collided onto the black and white marble and she squinted at me with contemptuous eyes before saying, through gritted teeth “You listen to me, you ungrateful little brat! The next time you speak to me in that manner will be the last time you speak without the assistance of modern day technology, do you understand me?”

My brother was holding his breath and didn’t know whether or not to run back outside or make sure that our mother didn’t end my life right then and there. What can I say, he was always a thoughtful little fellow.

All she ever did was spew gasoline from her mouth onto the raging flames on the rise inside of me. I never heard her speak anymore, just felt ire building up every time she decided that we needed to hear her voice…or in my case, feel her ignorance. She didn’t even care about my house; my home…or that it had been invaded and robbed without my consent.

I had to control myself. I had to fight the urge to stifle her life, to watch her eyes bulge as her mouth stayed agape, making not a sound as it begged for air…for my clemency. Instantly I clenched a donut within my right hand and clutched it tighter than anything I had ever held before, feeling the sticky frosting against my clammy palms. I could hear my teeth as they started to grind back and forth and I released the mangled breakfast from my fist and made my exit, not saying one word. He was right. No one even noticed. The enemy was proving to be more of a challenge than I originally expected.


The Politics of Being With You

Posted in Poetry, Romance, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2010 by JC Cecala

I’m not interested in the politics of being with you

I didn’t sign up for televised debates

rallies or speeches or opposing candi-

dates

are what I wanted

Discussions about Plutarch and

Emily Brontë

or The Divine Comedy by Dante

Not the whys and why nots

the maybes and what ifs

when we haven’t even tackled

the anatomy of this

this

This

whatever this is

because I’m sort of like a mistress

stealing tongue, teeth, lips, and kisses

from someone who’s married to themselves

yet you want to question me

like I’m guilty, guile, and on trail

but I don’t recollect us walking down the aisle

still, you want to check the numbers in my phone like an audit

but wait a minute, you never put a fucking ring on it

So what do you want from me?

To be thankful because you text every now and then

try to beg me into bed but um, remember, we’re just friends

I won’t spend my Saturdays and Sundays

suffocating in your sheets

then wonder what you’re doing for the rest of the week

because I’m not interested in the politics of being with you

I didn’t sign up for radio interviews

or press conferences broadcasted on Fox news

all I really wanted to do

was become better acquainted over tofu

maybe Thai, Italian or even Swiss fondue

I wanted to buy that red shirt because I know

you’d like the way it hugs my shoulders

but trying to sway you is like trying to move boulders

and yes, at one time your scent made me smolder

but now I’m getting colder and that red shirt

shivers into a shade of cerulean

and all I have left of us

is yesterday, remember when

being together meant just that

You

and

I

But now everything I say

is to defend myself

and everything you do

is so you can commend yourself

But I don’t care about some silly title

I don’t just want to be a boyfriend

for sake of the claim

just to have the name

so if we hate it and it ends

I can say I had you back then..

And I’m not sure what it is

maybe the words lodged

in your throat

are making you choke

better cough them up quick

I don’t know the heimlich

and I never really said it

but it’s not hard to decipher or connote

you know I’m not here to win the popular vote

so perhaps the chatter of

him, her, they, them and those two

have made you paranoid

and scattered your askew

point of view

But like I said before

and after this, I’m through..

I’m not interested

in the politics

of being

with you

Lovers Is For Death

Posted in Dark Fiction, Literary Fiction, Romance, Short Story, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2010 by JC Cecala


Passion of Lovers

Obusan stood in the center of a silent room. He stared at sleek silver rails wrapping in spirals and leading to the upstairs. Was that where Casey sacrificed his body for a few moments of lust?  That stairway; was it where a painful path to a shameful end had started? No. He never once caught the scent of infidelity in the bedroom. Maybe it happened in the kitchen too? After all, it’s not like they never had sex in the kitchen.

He wandered through the darkness that draped from the corners, slinking around packed boxes, running his palms across drawn curtains and tapping his fingertips on closed blinds that shielded him from the reality awaiting him outside of four walls. Four walls that didn’t belong to him anymore.

Hesitating for a moment and with curiosity yanking at his fidgeting limbs, he slid a single digit between two of the blinds and eased one to the side. A single sliver of buttery afternoon seeped in and he twisted his frame so that it did not touch him.

Aware that he’d have to face the world in just a few minutes, Obusan peeked from behind the calico colored panels. The intensity hurt his eye and he winced and waited for his vision to adjust. When it finally did he glanced at the lustrous lightning colored sports car in the driveway beneath a shadow cast from the garage. His attention wafted from the vehicle to the mailbox by the curb, to the ring of asphalt that looped within the realm of the neighborhood and bordered a circle of grass in the middle. He then found himself gazing at the realtor’s sign on the lawn with the word SOLD plastered on the front, in bold red letters. Sold, he thought.

His attention was pierced by a high pitched yelp and instantly his eyes took to the vast cerulean sky coated in frayed white cotton clouds. From the corner of his eye a small white dot straddled the line of his direct vision, swaying in one constant space. Obusan acknowledged it but did not look at it. He knew it was a seagull flying through the open sky. He knew that more were nearby, coasting on a breeze, gliding and squawking. But he hated them. He hated birds. So he retracted his finger and allowed the shadows cast from the four walls to consume him.

His frame turned away from the window and faced the tableless dining room. A room also lacking in chairs, place mats and a centerpiece.Maybe they did it here, was a thought that appeared as quickly as it vanished, cracking across his mind like a shard of sharp white through thick black, before sinking back into obscurity.

Obusan wandered from the dining area in hopes of detaching his body from his thoughts and leaving them in that very spot, but they lingered on as he drifted into the living room. He gazed at the stripped walls then his neck gave out and dropped his head to the ground so that he could stare at the marble tile that no longer hid beneath embroidered rugs and Art Nouveau inspired furniture. He wanted his head to imitate the living room, to imitate the dining room, to imitate the house. He ached to be empty.

A tremor trailed up Obusan’s side and he jerked before realizing it was his mobile vibrating. He slid his hand into the right pocket of his shorts and struggled to pull it from within the clinging fabric.

“Hello? This is Obusan.”

“Obie! Where the hell are you?”

“Mark?…I’m sorry, I’m headin’ out the door right now, I—“

“Spare me the bullshit. Get your ass down here now. You’re wasting company time. They’re supposed to start shooting in an hour!”

“I, I’m sorry, Mark… I told Madeline to tell you that I might be a little late today. I, I have—“

Dial tone. Obusan looked at the screen of his mobile, his vision wandering across the background picture. A picture of golden eyes, like dawn breaking and wild tresses of fire sweeping above them. He stared at the outline of this face, this brutish face, with its curled pink lips and raised brows and for a moment he was lost within himself and forgot where he was.

He glanced around what used to be a home and knew that he shouldn’t have felt the way he did.  But his eyes did not water when he saw the vacant walls and his chest was not tight as his footsteps echoed through the desolate rooms. The missing furniture didn’t resonate anything within him and that was when he realized he wasn’t standing in the middle of an empty home, but was taking up room in a house cluttered with boxes and dead dreams.

The sun burned through his pores, soaking into his blood and he could feel it boil but did everything he could to focus on the wind whipping across his face as he raced up the boulevard for the last time. He thought back to how excited he was when he bought his yellow dream eight months ago, but that feeling of fervent nostalgia dissipated as the promotional sign for the Classic Dealership drew closer.

He pulled into the lot, lurking by rows of aligned Alpine’s, Lotus Elan’s, and Camaro’s that seemed a lot more appealing than they were the first time he was there. Eyes were everywhere, pretending to be browsing the vehicles when they were really watching him, criticizing him, mocking his situation.

Coming to a stop in front of the main office he kept the car running and remained inside, his hands fidgeting on his lap, linking fingers around one another and pinching wet palms.  His right hand leapt out at the radio and pressed random buttons before twisting the volume knob to mid level.

The passion of lovers is for death, said she

The passion of lovers is for death,”

White teeth and amber eyes a laugh sailing through birdsong and green grass because this is love.

She breaks her heart

Just a little too much,”

Bronze cheeks soaked in an unrecognizable torture looming over a sense of inadequacy is inescapable because this is love.

And her jokes attract the lucky bad type

As she dips and wails,”

His eyes were lit his peach flesh stroking against the tanned skin of a stranger bellows of pleasure shake the world beads of sweat trailing down his broad shoulders flexing back bulging thighs stains on their sheets.

And slips her banshee smile

She gets the better of the bigger to the letter,”

X-rays stethoscopes syringes alone in a waiting room filled with familiar pale faces blood stains whispers resentment solitude blame.

The passion of lovers is for death, said she

The passion of lovers is for death,”

The ache of reality chipping away at his sanity solitary in this world betrayed tears tears tears so little time dying.

The passion of lovers –“

There was a knock on the car door and Obusan felt his shock tear from him as he jumped in the seat.

“Oh my God!”

“I’m sorry!” The man hovering outside of the car laughed “I didn’t mean to startle you, Mr. Nagai.”

“Jaquan!”

Obusan turned the volume down and then placed his hands on his chest which rattled with traces of terror. He allowed himself to believe the tears forming in his eyes and the numbness in his lips were from surprise of Jaquan’s presence and he temporarily discarded the memories he clung to.

“Are you okay?”

Obusan exhaled.

“Y, yeah…Yeah, I’m fine.”

He looked up at Jaquan, a young man around his age with cocoa skin and a lanky physique who seemed to tower over him.

“Are you sure about this?”

“…What?” Obusan turned the radio completely off and then did the same with the car.

“It’s a 1987 Fiero GT…Do you know how hard it would be to find another one of these? And in yellow…”

“I thought you were a car salesman, Jaquan.”

He turned from Jaquan and looked down at his lap, squeezing his hands. Jaquan smiled and shook his head.

“I am, Mr. Nagai…but you were mad excited when we called you with it, man. I just wan’chu to be sure…because I would never—“

“I’m sure!” he cut him off and hesitated as he pinched his palm “I…I’m sure.”

Jaquan’s smile weakened and his teeth withdrew behind his lips as he slid his hands into the pockets of his navy slacks.

“Aight, man. If you’re sure…Park it in front of the garage and come on in. We’ll finalize the paperwork and get the plates off.”

“Okay…Thank you.”

The heat hung from Obusan as he stood near the curb of ongoing traffic cluttering the streets in an array of metallic shades. He glanced over his shoulder at the dealership behind him, his lemon colored car no longer in sight, no longer his.

His wristwatch dial read 1:36pm and he knew his shoot would be starting in less than thirty minutes but he had to get this done today before he started filming or else he wouldn’t be able to focus.  Shoots always took hours and it may be too late by then. No, perhaps he was just paranoid. Perhaps just dramatic, but time evoked a fear out of him that he never believed to exist. Time was something he could no longer ignore.

The cry of seagulls dropped from the heavens and slammed into his ears and he flared, looking up to the sky, spotting their silhouettes against the gleam of the sun.

“…Fuckin’ birds.”

He shifted his attention back to the oncoming traffic and whipped his arm out, giving a tepid wave and holding his breath in hopes of catching a passing breeze.

“Come on…” He mumbled, leaning outward.

He pulled his arm back and looked around, stepping a few feet back. Using his fingertips, he brushed the fine, raven hair away from his slanted ebony eyes. The cawing seemed to be drawing nearer and he thrust his head to the sky.

“Go away,” he whispered “Go away…”

“Hey!”

Obusan pulled his chin down just as a canary colored blur was speeding towards him. He thought of his newly old car as the taxi came to an abrupt halt just inches away from the curb, a man leaning out of the back window, a goofy smirk taking up most of his face.

“Waiting for a cab?”

Pausing, Obusan tilted his head to look at the driver in the front. The middle aged man had arms that reminded Obusan of a grizzly bear and a solid, sun burnt face that clearly had no interest in why he had pulled over.

“Well?”

Obusan looked back to the man in the backseat. The strawberry blond hair and hue of his eyes made Obusan think of Casey.

“Yeah…”

“Ride me.”

“What?”

“I said ride with me…C’mon. I’ll pay. Anywhere you need to go. I hate riding in these things by myself. The drivers never talk to you.”

“You’re probably not goin’ my way.”

“Trust me,” His grin spread “I am goin’ your way.”

Obusan sighed as he looked up and down the street in hopes of spotting another taxi but they all sped by, mixed among city buses and candy apple convertibles with their tops down. He looked at his watch.1:47pm.

“Okay.”

Obusan’s lips remained sealed as he gripped onto his seatbelt and looked directly ahead, staring at the numbers on the license plates of the cars ahead of them. They had been driving for ten or fifteen minutes without a word between them, the only noise filling the air being that of the Tejano music the cab driver had playing on the radio. But Obusan could feel the man’s eyes searing his surface, singeing his thighs, his chest, and his face.

“So… making a stop at the bank, huh?”

Obusan looked at him from the corner of his eye. The man’s sight ran across Obusan’s slim, long frame before settling on his exposed feet and fixating on the roundness of his delicate toes lying flat upon mahogany colored flip flops. He tried to withdraw his feet but with nowhere to go he twisted them to the side in a useless attempt to hide them.

Immediately his eyes lifted to his smooth, sleek legs, over the khaki shorts to the tight fitting, burgundy t-shirt and the thin arms with no definition that sprouted from his broad shoulders. When he finally got a good look at Obusan’s face his excitement catapulted. His features were a lot less fragile than they appeared on screen but his toffee skin was just as flawless and the shaggy coal colored hair that draped over his eyes gave off the faintest mint aroma.

“I’m Matt.”

Still, Obusan said nothing.

“Why so quiet?” Matt paused, “Obie.”

Before he fully processed the moment, Obusan’s head jerked towards Matt, his eyes squinting and his lips pursed.

“I knew it!” Matt’s mouth bent into the leer of a deviant “Obie the Pinoy Boy!”

“Driver, pull over.”

“Wait, wait! Hold on! I can’t believe I’m in the same taxi as the Pinoy Boy! Can I touch you?”

“What?” Obusan’s expression was riddled with disgust.

He felt his armpits grow moist as his heart flustered within his rib cage and he brushed his hair from his face.

“You’re so much taller in person. You’re just, you’re just so fucking hot, man. My friends and I love you! They are not going to believe this! We’re such huge fans!”

Obusan forced his stone face, etched with repulsion, to soften, and his shoulders to release their tension. He hated this. Running into them was one of the reasons he dreaded going out into the world. He didn’t hate them, at least, not the semi-normal ones. He knew they were the source of his budding fame, his growing fortune. It was the pretending that he hated. He had to act at work, make-believe when friends asked about Casey, the last thing he wanted to do was pretend in what little free time he had to himself. But he did.

“Thanks. Th, thank you,” His lips took on a familiar forced shape and his face beamed with an artificial light “I’m sorry, you just…you caught me off guard.”

“I knew it was you! I knew it! I told the driver to pull over and once we got close enough—MAN! I knew it!”

Matt let out a sound that aimed to be an exuberant laugh but fell short and ended as an excited moan.

“I, I have a pen – oh, my camera phone. Can we, I mean, if you don’t mind,” He lifted his pelvis; his back pressed against the seat, and pulled a mobile from his pocket “take a picture?”

There was a childlike eagerness to Matt but it was nothing new to Obusan. Most of them reacted with the same giddy outward appearance which did little to mask their dirty inner thoughts.

Obusan finally arrived at the hospital after a bank detour and Matt’s random pit stop for cat food. He thanked the aloof cab driver and paid the fare despite Matt’s objections. Matt suggested the two hang out sometime but he politely declined with a generic excuse accompanied by an apology.

He scurried away from the taxi and rushed into the establishment, waving to the woman at the front desk. She smiled at him and waved back but he darted by her in haste and headed directly to the elevators.

Making his way to the seventh floor he trotted off of the elevator and nimbly maneuvered through the maze of empty hospital beds, mechanical ventilators, trash bins marked hazardous, flocks of frivolous nurses, intravenous drips, and the occasional empty wheelchair.

His movement slowed as he neared the main entrance of his destination, Intensive Treatment Unit looming above the doorway. He could hear the morose ranting of familiar voices nearby and they became more audible with each step.

“Ma…Ma, he ain’t gonna die!” A husky whisper trailed to him.

“You don’t know that!”

“C’mon, Charlotte. He gon’ get the surgery. H, he gon’ be alright, now. Don’t talk like that!”

Obusan came to a stop in the corner of the doorway and pressed himself against the wall, staring straight ahead. The cramped excuse for a waiting area was to his right and he made sure to stay out of direct view, well aware of who made up the huddled group of people sitting in the waiting chairs.

“I warned him, Johnny. I warned your nephew ‘bout that boy.” Charlotte fumed.

“Ant Charlotte, not this again.”

“You don’t start with me, Maggie Louise. My son is, is layed up in here dyin’ ‘cause of, ‘cause of that queer!”

“That queer is the one Casey’s livin’ with. He’s the one taking care of Casey an’ his bills. Because’a him we can stay up here and be near Casey.” Maggie intervened.

“Girlll,” Charlotte said through a clenched jaw “You startin’ to really piss me off. It’s on account’a him Casey’s here!”

“Maggie, don’t bother defendin’ him,” Johnny said to his neice “It’s all that faggoty behavior that got Casey like he is. Your cousin’s up in here with tubes an’ shit all on account’a some fairy.”

“He’s a grown man! Ain’t nobody turned Casey gay, he—“

“My brother ain’t no faggot, Maggie.”

“Jim, you can’t turn no one—“

“He ain’t no faggot, I say.”

Obusan could hear the dialogue pause and the sound of petite feet rushing towards the entryway. Taking several steps backwards, he contemplated running back towards the elevators but it was too late. A distraught Maggie came into view and her roaring eyes met his gentle stare.

“Obusan,” She stopped, her expression becoming one of a guilt ridden adolescent “I…hi.”

“…Hi.”

“H,how are you?”

Obusan shrugged.

She brushed a few strands of dirty blonde hair from her plump cheeks. A shade of red was rising beneath her freckles and her lips grew tense.

“They’re in there.” She said.

“I know.”

“…I know you ain’t got it,” Maggie blurted “How can you give him somethin’ you ain’t even got? Look at’chu. You’re perfectly fine.”

The two shared a brief space in time and remained silent, just looking at one another, before Maggie stepped outside of the moment, extending an “I’m sorry,” and walked towards the elevators. Obusan turned to watch her wait for the elevator doors to open. Once they did, she vanished inside and suddenly he felt more alone than he had before they spoke.

“And you know how them gays are, Johnny! You know it! They snatch up good boys, good boys like my Casey.” Charlotte’s voice cracked “And it ain’t like we don’t know what that, that bastard does for work. They all spread that gay disease!”

“Mhm. Ain’t no respectable career, ‘specially for no chink. They always doing accountin’ work an’ shit like that.”

Obusan quietly entered the room, fluorescent lights and the scent of wet cotton and old hospital food greeting him.

“He gave it to him. I just know he did!”

Johnny and Jim spotted Obusan as he neared, but Charlotte, whose back was to him, began to sob.

“Hello, Charlotte,” Her body jerked at the sound of his airy tone but she didn’t face him “Johnny…Jimmy.”

“…Hey.” Jim said, the beginnings of a sneer spread onto his face.

Johnny nodded in Obusan’s direction. He slid his hands into the front pockets of his tattered and fading blue jeans as he looked down at his sister who remained seated.

Obusan dug into his pocket and slowly revealed a neat bundle of twenty dollar bills. He extended it to the back of Charlotte.

“Here…It’s for the hotel.”

Charlotte’s neck snapped up and turned in her seat, her vision instantly grabbing Obusan’s money heavy hand. She sloppily wiped her face, thick streaks of black mascara trails smeared onto her withering cheekbones. Her lips parted and revealed a pattern of missing teeth, her hand clasping the cash before she muttered “Thanks,” and turned away.

Obusan hesitated before lowering his head and walking out of the waiting area towards room number 1318.  The corridor was silent and as he stood outside the room he was welcomed by a string of beeping noises of the equipment penetrating Casey’s flesh.

“Casey,” he whispered, stepping into the doorway, but Casey remained still, his eyes closed, his breathing slow.

At one time Casey had skin so ivory it glowed beneath the sun and the moon, but it was now sagging in a sallow shade. His head of once curly, ginger hair was listless and fell flat onto his forehead, a brownish yellow color. Arms that once bench pressed 200lbs every afternoon lay limp by his protruding stomach that at one time, was pure muscle. The strength Casey had epitomized, looked frail, and feeble, and only the remnants of a decaying man were left.

“You need a shave, Case.” Obusan looked down at him, running his thumb over Casey’s dried bottom lip. “…Your surgery is in a few days, but I don’t want you to be nervous. I have most of the money together and I know you’ll be fine…Superman can’t be defeated, remember?”

He felt around in his pocket and took out a tube of lip balm. Taking the cap off, he slowly twisted the bottom, pushing the contents of the tube out. With every bit of care he possessed he slid the lip balm over Casey’s top then bottom lip and ran his fingertip over them. Obusan’s eyes welled with water and he stroked Casey’s hair before turning away and walking to the foot of his bed.

Obusan lifted the clipboard and browsed over the information for the thousandths time: Casey McMillan, 12/9/84, Case; Hepadnaviridae, acute liver cirrhosis brought on by HBV, Admittance: 6/23/09.

Obusan felt his mobile vibrate and placed the clipboard back on the small metallic hook it hung from.

“I’ve gotta go, Case.” He said, tears streaking his face as he walked back to the left side of Casey “I’ll see you tonight…I love you.”

Obusan held Casey’s cold hand and leaned over, kissing his chapped lips as gently as he could. Casey murmured. Obusan left.

“Alright, alright! Now that the diva is here and all made up, lets get this show on the road, people!”

“Come on, Ronny.” Obusan sighed.

“I’m kidding, Obie, I’m kidding. Alright, places everybody!…Okay. One, two, three—Action!”

Obie walked into the office, fidgeting with his pink tie and stumbling over his own feet, a mug of coffee in his right hand.

“I, I have your coffee, Mister Johnso—WOAH!” He tripped and on his way towards the floor the mug full of coffee detached from his hand and flung into the lap of his boss.

“Ah! Obie!” Mr. Johnson sprung to his feet, pushing his chair back.

“I, I, I’m s,sorry, Mr. Johnson!” Obusan pulled himself to his knees, his limbs trembling.

Mr. Johnson grabbed some napkins from his desk and started wiping his shirt with them. The brown liquid seeped through both his pants and his white button up, exposing a defined torso and a prominent chest.

“God damnit, Obie! Get over here and clean this mess up!”

Obie obediently crawled over to Mr. Johnson, slipping behind his desk to find the mug. He could see a boom lowering from the corner of his eye so he did his best to raise his voice and still sound timid.

“Where did your mug go?”

“Forget the mug, Obie, look at my pants!” He exclaimed.

“Oh, I’m sorry!” Obie wailed, grabbing a few napkins from the desk and patting the crotch of his boss’s trousers “Mr. Johnson, I didn’t mean to do that, honest! I’m sorry, I–…Mr. Johnson. What is that?” He looked up at a pair of silver eyes gazing down at him.

Mr. Johnson smirked before saying “I believe I mentioned I needed to be debriefed earlier. I’ve had a hectic week.”

“Mr. Johnson! What are you doing?” His boss gripped his wrist with his right hand and slipped the left into his pocket, pulling out a condom and tearing it open with his teeth, savagely spitting the wrapper out.

“Well, Obie,” He began, moving his hands up and down on his pelvis “I figure you’re in the perfect position to debrief me right now.”

Obusan pushed the steel door open and walked into the studio lot, leaning against the metal wall behind him, a crimson number thirteen painted on it.

The sky was streaked in tangerine and ruby and he pulled his mobile from his pocket, looking at the background of Casey, his blazing red hair, intoxicating whiskey eyes, and the t-shirt he donned, a bold Superman symbol on the front. He shook his head. Above him he could hear the seagulls calling out to one another and he looked up at the dimming sky cluttered with ethereal white wings.

“…Take me with you.”