Posts Tagged With: short story

Trees Guard the Sand

I’m sitting in a sinking boat, floating in a stagnant sea.  The water is brown and leafy.  Mosquitos swarm around my head and take the shape of clouds on the skyline.  The shore is almost out of sight.  Large green trees guard the sand.

I don’t remember what it was like standing there staring out at the sea or winding through the forest, carried by the pillowy floor.  I have no idea why I launched this boat or even sat in it to begin with.  I don’t know where I’m heading because I am not rowing.  I am drifting; the way that mud allows for drift.  And the only sights I see are sunrises, accentuating brown, and sunsets, dying gray.

I haven’t spoken a word in weeks.  I examine the thickness of the water; I feel it in my hand.  I listen to the cracking wood of the boat when stiff winds move me a foot or so.  In the distance I think I see another boat, but it is sailing with some speed.  It has a person on it, smiling and speaking out-loud to himself or possibly, someone else – someone he can see, but I cannot.  His boat is cutting through the thickness and soaring toward the shore, unaffected by the trapping mud.  As he goes ashore, he sees me and waves me in.  As he heads for the trees he shouts, “There’s nothing out there.  I’m going back.”

I raise my hand to wave and wonder what he meant.  I heard the words, but it made no sense.  I turn and sit and stare and watch the water shine like oil; hardly thinking anything at all.  And soon, I vaguely remember seeing a man run off into the woods, and I think he spoke of something but I don’t know what it was.

I lose myself again in the yellow-orange mist rising from the water and swirling from the mosquito hordes.  I feel the urge to tip over and let my weight carry me over-board and sink me to the ocean floor and fall asleep with a heavy sigh and pull the grime and filth over me like a warm and cozy blanket.  And so I do.

In the water I don’t feel wet and in the mud I don’t feel trapped.  I breathe deeply and I feel eerily at ease.  I feel drained but comforted.  And I feel utterly alone.

Peering up I can see the light of the dying sun; forcing its way through the surface of the water.  I can see my boat, but I can’t remember ever being in it.  I feel as though I’ve been lying here forever.  So I stare at the rays of light as they fade away and I watch the boat above slowly drift away.

Soon, I remember seeing something bright but do not know what to call it or how long ago I saw it.  I remember seeing something dark move away like a hovering shadow but I cannot describe it exactly.

I look around the darkness and I feel the thickness that blankets me with my hands.  Slowly, I get still and close my eyes.  After a while I open them but can’t remember ever closing them.

I don’t know where I am.  There is nothing.  I cannot see and I cannot feel and I cannot remember being able to.

Suddenly, the sight of the man on the shore appears in the space behind my eyes and I see him there. I understand the words he shouted and they pierce my ears.  My mind shudders.

Fear is all I feel and it is everywhere.

2/6/04

Categories: Old Stuff, Other Seeds, Short Stories | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Across the Waiting Room

Across the waiting room a mother is sat back, with her coat wrapped between her and the arm-rest; her large pocket book across her lap.  Across from Mom, with her back to me, sits a young girl and an equally young boy.  The boy is rubbing the girl’s back while she rests her head on his shoulder.  The mother keeps a running, uncomfortable conversation trudging along with a few one-word answers, mostly coming from the boy.  He looks lost with an expression of fear mixed with shame masking his deep-down indifference.  The girl is attractive for her age.  Through her distress, she comes across as intelligent and quick but of few words, and she has a contagious smile.

An overly cheerful nurse appears from behind a wall and calls out the young girl’s name.

The nurse stands still and silent with an exhausted smile from a day on stage.  The mother and the children stand.  The boy stretches an unwelcome arm across the shoulders of the young girl.  The mother follows with her coat and bag in hand and greets the nurse first.  The young girl disappears behind the wall with no expression.

A few minutes pass.

I pick up the nearest magazine and start flipping through the pages, mostly looking only at the pictures.  I flip past a page that catches my attention and I turn back and read the full title.

A couple walks in through the front door in a boisterous manner.  She checks in at the front desk while he continues his cell phone conversation.  She finishes with the receptionist and leads her boyfriend into the waiting area.  I try to remain focused on my article but find myself observing the nature of the couple’s conversations.  They behave in an inconsiderate manner that is only less obnoxious because of the late hour and the nearly empty waiting room.

A few minutes pass.

I  finally block the couple out when the guy comes up to me and asks for a cigarette.  I happen to not have any on me, so I tell him no and for some reason add, “Sorry.”

“No, sorry,” I say as if I had done him a disservice.  He responds with a ‘no problem’ and returns to his seat.  I had lost my place in the article I was reading and couldn’t help but focus my attention on the, in some way, repulsive couple.  They both stand and go outside to smoke.  Apparently, she had one cigarette left and is now willing to share it with him.  I turn my attention back to my article.

From the door behind my right shoulder, out walks the attractive young girl with the pensive boy and mother following behind.  The nurse sends them off politely with her cheerful mannerisms.  The young girl’s face is no longer blank but has the expression of raw fear.  Her eyes lowered with face quickly shading red, her arms across her chest walking well in front of the boy.  The three walk through the outside door and I watch until they are out of sight.  Moments later, cheerful nurse reappears from behind the waiting wall and calls to the obnoxious couple.  The girl stands and follows the nurse behind the wall.  The guy gets up and goes outside, presumably to smoke another cigarette or call a friend on his cell phone.  I turn back to my article.

The door behind my shoulder opens again.  A girl I thought I knew appears as I stand.  The nurse finishes a few last words and hands her a tiny manila packet..  This girl turns and I no longer recognize her.  Her face is drooping and her eyes are empty.  She stumbles slightly, giving me a half-smile through her anesthesia haze.  I go for her hand.  The nurse turns to me and asks if I’m driving.  I say yes and she says, “Okay.  Just make sure she remembers to take these pills again in a few hours.”  I nod and I follow this girl toward the door. We get outside and I help her into the car.  She is weary from the painkillers and does not make much sense as she tries to speak.

“Are you still hungry?” I ask.

She rolls her head toward me with an unresponsive look.  I repeat my question.  She closes her eyes with a soft smile and nods that she is.  I ask if she still wants to go over to the diner she had mentioned  and she agrees.  I ask her for a cigarette as she lights up one of her own.  We drive to the diner in silence, she in an opiate cloud with me in the dark.

We eat our food through incoherent conversation and then go back to my place.  We sleep and spend the next day in bed together.  The following morning she says goodbye. I haven’t seen her since.

Categories: Other Seeds, Short Stories | Tags: | Leave a comment

Untitled

Nick picked up the pack of cigarettes from off the kitchen table and took out a cigarette.  As he replaced the box of Newports on the table, he slid the cigarette between his lips.  He sat searching his pockets for a lighter as the cigarette dangled from his mouth.  It moved around furiously between his lips until finally Nick’s hand reached up in frustration and grabbed it, asking anybody for a light.

As my hand reached out towards him, he threw the cigarette back between his lips and leaned forward.  It stuck straight out of his mouth waiting for the fire.  It was nothing without the flame.  My thumb ran down the top of the lighter and made a useless spark.  Repeatedly it sparked.

Then a glorious glow of fire that instantly set off a chain reaction.  Nick’s head leaned closer as my hand reached out just a bit further.  The flame engulfed the tip and the cigarette released all its tension as the smoke filled the air.  The lighter went out.  The fire kept burning.

The cigarette needed Nick to live and it glowed with life.  It released all the stress that was sealed inside for so long.  Nick breathed and it burned.  It let go of everything inside of it out into the air.  The pain of living and struggling to remain alive that was bottled up inside was finally being released in a passionate outpouring of regret and sincere sadness.  The feeling of an enormous loss.  It all filled the air in a cloudy smoke.

And as quickly as it began, it ended in a dirty ashtray.

1996

Categories: Old Stuff, Other Seeds | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Shit

He woke up early for the first time in weeks. It was around 8:30 and he felt good. There was milk in the fridge and he had time before work that he wasn’t used to having so he made coffee and watched a little SportsCenter. As he dragged on his cigarette he felt that familiar looseness in his bowels. Uncomfortably he knew there was no toilet paper left and decided to suppress the urge and wait till he got to the office to take a shit. He went over to his computer and checked his email and other various websites that he frequents. After a few minutes browsing the infinite world that is the Web he got another cigarette and sat down to finish his coffee.
He had already watched this episode of SportsCenter last night so he had no real interest in it. He considered showering but decided against it since he’d be home early today and figured he’d just wait.
The urge came back strong after the second cigarette and the subsequent sips of coffee. This time the feeling was so strong he thought he might not be able to make the ride to the office. It was literally right there and ready. He searched the bathroom and the hall closet for anything he could use but he was also out of paper towels and there were no napkins anywhere. The thought of using a washcloth or towel crossed his mind but as a last resort. He also considered jumping in the shower immediately after dropping but that also didn’t appeal to him. It subsided a moment and he, relieved, went back to getting ready to get to the office. It was short-lived. It came back fierce. It was useless, he had to go and he had to go now.

“I don’t care. I’ll figure it out after. I can’t wait. It has to happen Right Now,” he said aloud.

He strode straight to the bathroom, sat down, and as he suspected it was ready to dive and it did. Resigned to the fact that he now had a shitty ass and nothing to clean it with, he picked up the current book he was reading when he used the can and started reading. When he was done shitting he put the book down and thought about what he was going to do. He sat for a while thinking about how he was going to clean up and by now he was no longer early for work.

He surveyed the bathroom. There were a mess of towels strewn across the floor. There were his boxers that he had taken off. He also considered the socks all over the apartment that his dog steals from his closet and chews to pieces. He knew exactly what he could use but tried not to think about it. It was unthinkable. However the thought of wiping his ass with a towel or a slew of socks was not an attractive option. What would he do with them afterwards, put them in his hamper? Throw them out?
He looked to his right and between the sink and where he sat was the wastebasket. In the garbage was a colony of used tissue calling to him. He stared long at what was his most viable option. There was enough, it appeared, to wipe the shit off his ass but the proposition of replacing it with snot was not something he was readily prepared to accept.
He picked up one of the larger pieces and looked at it, checking to see what part of it he could use and how badly he needed to use it.

“I have to. What else am I gonna do.”

He stood up with the piece of garbage in his hand. Since he was a child he had always stood up when he wiped his ass. He couldn’t fathom how other people didn’t. It didn’t make sense to him. How do they get it all if they can’t see what they are doing he always wondered?
He was standing there with the tissue. This was the best option he could bear. Using a snotty tissue was much more civilized, he thought, than having a shitty towel to deal with. However disgusting the idea was to him, he swiped the first piece of garbage up his ass and tossed it quickly into the bowl. He bent down and chose another and repeated the act.

“This is fuckin’ disgusting.”

He continued to use the used tissues until there were none left in the can. He was hardly satisfied with the cleanliness of his ass when he was forced to stop. He wanted to jump in the shower to finish the job but now he was late for work.

“I’ll go to the bathroom as soon as I get to the office and do whatever I gotta do when I get there,” he thought.

He put his boxers back on with a sense of shame and internal disgust.

“I gotta start keeping more than one fucking roll of toilet paper in the house. This is awful. I can’t believe I just did that.”

He finished dressing and headed out to his car and lit a cigarette. The entire ride he shook his head back and forth in disbelief of what he had just experienced. He hadn’t been able to finish his coffee so he stopped at the 7-eleven on his way. As he rose out of the car he could feel his boxers clinging to him in a crusty fashion. All he could do was carry on. What else was he going to do? He made his coffee and grabbed a paper and, of course, toilet paper. He wanted to buy cigarettes but he had no cash and was using his debit card. He had 7 dollars in the bank so cigarettes were out. He had enough for the moment anyway and the drying shit and possible snot on his ass was a more pressing predicament at present.
He finally arrived at work and headed straight to the restroom. He attempted to shit again to make sure but it was no use. He rose to his feet and finished wiping with the fresh toilet paper. It was hardly a relief and he certainly did not feel any cleaner than he did when he began. He could only get his work done as quickly as he could and go home.
His article was flowing smoothly and he was thankful for it. He couldn’t wait to get out of there. Then, a scent wafted to his nose. It was faint and had the smell of dirt and stagnation. It was clearly his ass. He ran the events of his morning through his mind again. Once again he was disgusted by what he had done but at the same time sincerely amused. He couldn’t help laughing at the idea of such an act no less the thought that he had actually done it.
He finished his article and packed up his desk to leave. He got up and discreetly pulled the sticking boxers away from his body. He left and headed home. When he got there he undressed entirely and went into the bathroom to put an end to this awful chain of events. While he showered the water was getting colder and colder no matter how high he turned the HOT knob. After a few minutes he realized the heat and hot water must have been turned off. He hadn’t paid the bill in months.
Whole-heartedly pissed off, he dried himself off and wrapped the towel around his waist and went into the other room to get dressed. He hadn’t done the laundry in about 10 days and had no clean clothes to put on. He laid down on his bed in his towel. He was on his back with his arms at his sides staring blankly at the ceiling. He tried to relax and eventually did. He drifted off to sleep and slept for a number of hours. He woke to an obnoxious pounding on his front door. When he answered it he saw, standing in front of him, a large woman wearing far too little clothing for her size.

Categories: Other Seeds, Unfinished stories | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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