An Untoward Exchange

This was originally posted elsewhere, under a different title. Written for spoken word poetry. 


Inside my head where the lies we believe thrive:


 

 

I make a difference.

 

Prove it.

 

I influence others?

 

You do? Like I said, prove it.

 

Well, I have a community. I belong.

 

You only kinda have a community. Would they even notice if you were gone? 

 

Well, I did have one at least, back where I used to live. 

 

Key words: You. Did. They’ve moved on.

 

Well, I’m interesting–I think. Pretty? 

 

Keep telling yourself that, babe.

 

Dang it. It gives me shivers–I’m totally going to fail at, well, everything this year. 

 

Don’t have to work hard to prove that one!

 

Ugh! Why do I even try?!

 

That’s right. Why do you even care about having a meaningful life?

 

A meaningful life? I guess that is it, that’s what I want. I want my life to be worth something; for me to be worth something. If I only . . .

 

It’s all such crap. Meaningful, shityful. 

 

Shut up, you’re kinda a jerk.

 

 

Where’d you go?

 

 

Hey, you know, I do have a meaningful life. Even if I don’t do anything. I do have some self-worth.

 

 

And I don’t have to be afraid of failure. I’ll just learn from it; I’ll just call that success. . . don’t you think?

 

Humph.

 

You’re back?

 

Who said I ever left?

 

Maybe I am just afraid of being lonely. You know, besides that whole failure thing. 

 

Oh, that is so right. You are so alone. Lonely and Failure sitting in the tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G . . .

 

Hey!

 

First comes spite, then they disparage, then out YOU come in their baby carriage!

 

That is so  . . . morose. Surely I’m not born of failure and loneliness!

 

Prove it.

 

Well. . . I guess I can’t. . . Wait a minute! Who are you to tell me–

 

Oh, and, by the way, you can’t change the world either.

 

Who said I was even trying?

 

You said you were trying! It’s written all over . . . well, all over your everything! 

 

You know I can’t stand the evil in this world. And the indifference and misguidance as a response to it. Then there is the oppression and hate–

 

Like I said, you can’t stand to believe your life has no meaning.

 

Are you saying I have a savior complex?

 

I’m saying you have an identity complex. Which then manifests itself as a savior complex. So, yes, I am telling you that. You have all the complexes. You are way too far down that rabbit hole. I can’t believe you’re still even able to breathe. 

 

That can’t, that can’t be true.

 

I’m telling you, that is who you are!

 

I am so more than that! Why am I even listening to you? Just shut up for a minute so I can think!

 

 

You went away again. Whew. You are so LOUD.

 

 

I am more than that. I don’t need others to tell me who I am. Let alone you! I am valuable simply because I am.

 

 

Right?

 

You’re asking me again?  Of course you have no value!  You are a persistent failure and no one gets you. You’re a dog who never gives up even though the bone is clearly out of reach. You are worthless.

 

Sounds like you are complementing me on my persistence and audacity.

 

Trust me, I wasn’t. W.O.R.T.H.L.E.S.S.

 

Okay, that’s it. You are nothing–nothing but lies.

 

I am so the truth.

 

No you are not! Your voice is hate. You are the evil in the world. I think you need to be quiet now.

 

 

Did you hear me? Go away!

 

 

Are you gone?

 

Eeep!

 

Uh-uh. Nope. Hear me loud and clear: I don’t ever want to catch you whispering your antagonizing, conniving, disparaging, snide and venomous lies of hate ever again. And–so help me God–you are forever exiled out of my head and will continually be tenaciously guarded against. Capiche?

 

 

I said die monster, die!  

 

beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep —————————————————–

 

There. That is so much better. Now let’s find the truth.

 


 

Muted Medieval Equity

“Every time you visit, I’m undone.”

“I don’t want you to be bewitched. I want to speak at the Table! And do stop stroking my ear–you know I despise it.”

“But I love the way it curves up into a point.”

“Sir, the counsel? Please, be my escort?”

“Oh, don’t put your coat on. Although you’re ravishing in scarlet, the more ivory skin to espy, the better.”

“Now you are just being vulgar.”

“Have I ever mentioned I love your rosebud lips?”

“Stop stalling! My poetry is what you love, and that is all. Now I’m out of patience.”

“I don’t believe it. You could never be anything less than perfect.”

“Please, I must rest my case. We need justice.”

“Your other striking virtues will cause the knights to drool more than your lovely logic.”

“What’s the point of being fae if my womanhood leaves me unheard?”

“Yet I ask, why be the Enchantress, unless to enchant us?”


Written For Flash! Friday Flash Fiction

The Jungle of Long Island

Mrs. Gray, they said, didn’t play the field well. This was unfortunate, as the Felines maintained that summer in the Hamptons should be a spectacular jest.

When Mr. Gray began busying himself in the City, they welcomed Mrs. Gray into their pack. She didn’t do much besides toddle behind them, though, and definitely not with their poise and alluring swagger.

They were fools, those who mistook these cougars for delicate kittens, lounging in their high-cut swimming stripes, meticulous curls licked into place. More than one gentleman would fall prey throughout these golden days.

It was an irony that Mrs. Gray–of all of the Felines–had been accused of indiscretions. When Mr. Gray arrived at the mansion in a possessive rage, like a typical pawn, she didn’t discern who was really behind the damning missive. Her brutal stabbing was simply a triumphant checkmate in a game of societal entertainment.


Written for Flash! Friday flash fiction

A Misguided Spade

Caspious was digging his weapon of choice into the earth. “Are you at war with those buggers again?” Istar teased, looking past him, her angelic figure sauntering up the path.

“Aren’t I always fighting one vile enemy or another?” Caspious spat at the ground. But when he faced her, Caspious softened adoringly; innocently. “I hope you get used this . . . er, to me I mean.”

He was tan, scientific and kind. Istar sighed. If only he was a smidgen more . . . obliging. When Caspious cared, his royal magic pierced all barriers; everything he caressed bloomed.

Everything not hidden by her facade, at least.  

Istar scanned the treeline nervously. She couldn’t delay. “Sweet, the Syscans, surely you’ve heard. Without assistance they’ll die. Although they’re few, however distant and lowly, they’re still your subjects! You’re needed now!” I need you now! But that last sentence never actually left Istar’s tongue.

Caspious was glad he turned from her mesmerizing eyes, resenting that Istar had opened this Pandora’s Box again. It had almost been their honeymoon’s undoing months ago. Wait–that was only months ago, right?

The Heir shelved his lovely bride’s humming into its own compartment, focusing on the soil sifting through his fingers. He crunched what was left in his palm, imagining it was the worms he despised.

Istar watched Caspious wane as she pleaded one last time. Maybe if he knew the truth of her past, he would reconsider his indifference.

As Caspious often said (one of his gardening maxims), “One can’t unhinge the fly from the web.” And neither could she release her tongue from its curse, so frigidly bestowed on her, when torn from her family, discharged to the Castle by the Syscan Reds.

The Reds had spent their patience.

In a rare moment of honesty, Istar breathed “I love you,” startling Capious from his vegetation. But then she turned away quickly, hearing only the thump, rather than seeing his head roll too, as it joined his trowel on the garden plot.


Written for Flash! Friday Fiction

An Engagement?

The Prompt:

Jeremy sat across from Heather in the little hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant. It was just his style to take her some place like that to “unexpectedly” pop the question. She waited eagerly to see the ring box appear on the table. He’d been hinting at it for nearly a month now. At least, she was pretty sure of it.

But the lemon chicken came and went. So did the fortune cookies. Heather felt her temper boiling up, but she batted it back down. Surely he would take her somewhere for dessert, or maybe a romantic walk along the lake, and ask her then. He had to ask her tonight, didn’t he?

Photo copyright K. S. Brooks.
Photo copyright K. S. Brooks.

 

Their conversation grew stale, as did the leftover taste of fortune cookies. Finally, Jeremy awkwardly pulled an impeccable velvet box from his pocket.

Heather straightened, plastering on her yes smile–she’d been practicing for months.

“What is that?” Heather purred.

“First, I have something to tell you.” He paused dramatically. “I’m moving.”

Heather stared blankly at him, wondering what he meant. He was moving to another apartment? Or wait–maybe he wanted to move in together?

Jeremy continued, “I’m going to Botswana. I didn’t want to tell you until I knew it was for sure, but I applied to the Peace Corp and I finally received my assignment.”

She was stunned. Heather’s perfect smile drooped. She barely managed to squeak, “When?”

“Five weeks.” Jeremy scratched his forehead like he was considering a math problem; all previous nerves had vanished. “Obviously we needed to talk about this right away.”

Heather’s shock briefly faded and she snapped “You bet, buster! I can’t believe you didn’t say anything!”

“Wait! Before you go all crazy on me just open the box.” He slid it over.

Inside on the satin pillow sat a golden ring. But not just any golden ring. There was no diamond. In fact, it looked almost like an earring. Heather looked up to excitement in Jeremy’s eyes.

“In some cultures, when a couple mates she wears a nose ring as a marker that she’s taken.” Jeremy smiled confidently. “You see, Heather, I want you to come with me. Will you be my female?”


 

This was written for Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge

The Last Trip Down Beach Lane

This short story was prompted by the following image:

Old Woman. CC2.0 photo by Giorgio Grande.
Old Woman. CC2.0 photo by Giorgio Grande.

Mademoiselle Villeneuve and her companion creaked, shuffling down the cobblestone towards the end of the road. One step, one roll. One drop mirroring past beginnings in Mademoiselle’s eye.

“Félicitations pour ton diplôme! Bonne chance dans le monde!” echoed behind them as she threw her cap in the wind, riding towards the future.

Sunbeams cast wickers of flame on the coastal path, a golden gleam to guide them. One step, one roll. One shared memory of love from the heart.

She sat on the blue bars giggling, flying towards the moon. He dragged his feet on this same beach lane, slowing them just enough so he could kiss her neck.

Mademoiselle’s clog skimmed sand, choking the grout, and their bony frames shuttered. One step, one roll. One more movement reminding them they were now broken and bald.

They carried meager paychecks together, then wine and bouquets. They skidded from uncounted fights; pedaled towards countless friendships. Children, then grandchildren twirling their wheels.

Mademoiselle and her partner had arrived. She held to his frame so tightly as they stood one last time gazing at their shore.

Peeling off her wig and clothes, she rested them and her beloved bicycle against the junkyard’s gates. Then without a backward glance, Mademoiselle Villeneuve maneuvered through sand to surf, burying her bruised body under the salty sea.


This was originally written for Flash! Friday flash fiction contest

My Boss, “Handsome Johnny”

This poetic story was prompted by the following image:

Coliseum in Rome. CC2.0 photo by Vlad.
Coliseum in Rome. CC2.0 photo by Vlad.

Whisking me off my sensible feet, Mr. Roselli took me out to play–

So giddy–I didn’t know he even felt that way!

This morning he called at eight, arrived at three,

Thrusting brusquely past our janitor to get to me.

My top button suddenly felt too tight,

My shy smile grew wide; inside I soared like a kite.

Just yesterday I was well-coiffed, pinned-down,

But in his penthouse my hair was ruffled under Sinatra’s soothing sound.

“It’s Secretary Day!” Roselli cried with glee,

He moved the years of imaginary employee’s flowers to pass me a key.

My trembling hands, forever smelling of our office soap,

Inched to open his envelope.

My blood rushed as I squelched my dreams,

Although my heart-wrenching wanderlust burst at the seams!

Hopefully glancing at my board, pinned with snapshots from afar,

I was distracted by the window framing his car.

Crestfallen, instantly my nerves were grating,

While he cooed, “My dove, why are you waiting?”

A relic from his travels, a scratched postcard from ancient Rome,

Scribbled on the back it said “Just call before visiting my home!”

Nuzzling my neck, he pressed the key into my palm.

I glared at the Marilyn Monroe in his Maserati, centering my raging calm.


Written for Flash! Friday flash fiction

Compare A.Ravenel Clay’s story, The Bastard’s New Job, written with the same prompt