She’s waiting for the light. Barely dressed branches wait with her, arms and fingers outstretched, opening themselves up to the first strands of light.
It’s not getting any warmer. It’s not getting any brighter. They can see it, a spot like a smile in the distance beckoning them, but it turns and runs whenever they move toward it. So they stop moving. The burgeoning buds on the branches close up, retracting from the stingy sun. The wait to turn into something better and brighter and more alive is over, again.
Her heart stands still between winter and spring.
It’s always the little things that help light the fuse - maybe someone cut her off. Her hair keeps falling in her eyes. Something triggers the enormous anger that has been building up since she was first called worthless back in second grade and suddenly she’s Michael Douglas in Falling Down, taking hostages, crashing cars and finally, in a culmination of years of bad advice, failed attempts and broken relationships, she strikes the match.
She watches the match burn down, then blows it out before she touches it to the fuse.
No telling what will happen next time.
She’s distracted, preoccupied, obsessed with what lies ahead. She never looks right at him, just past him. At what might be.
You’re in love with someone else, he says.
I’m in love with something else.
She’s struggling to reach a point she doesn’t even know exists.
He looks at her with something like love, something like sadness.
You’re chasing what you’ve already caught.
She’ll never believe that. She always thinks something better’s ahead.
What if you keep moving toward the light and it turns out it’s been behind you all along?
What if you know that and keep going anyway?
The woman had one of those old fashioned cameras, the kind that spits the picture out immediately. He thought how simultaneously archaic and futuristic that was. She shook the photo around a bit and they came into focus, the two of them sitting on a bench, back to the photographer, looking fresh in love.
“Thought you might like this. Waiting for your ship to come in.” She smiled.
He didn’t have the heart to tell her they were watching their ship sail out.
He thanked her, tucked the photo into his jacket.
The three of them went their separate ways.
[The Pictured Word #2]
☛ 100 word stories
She can’t sleep so she stands at the window, watching lights flicker on and off in other buildings. She imagines it’s all a complicated code that unlocks the secrets of the night.
She thinks about the secrets behind the lit windows, the people who sleep with the lights on because it makes them feel less alone, the people who sleep with arms and legs entwined but still feel adrift and untethered, the people who cry themselves into restless dreams or stay awake to avoid the nightmares.
She wonders about everyone’s secrets because it keeps her from thinking about her own.
100 Word Stories was a year long project I had here on tumblr. I’ve taken my favorites from there (43 pieces of my heart and soul) and put them on @medium, which I think is a really great venue for what how I wanted to present these stories.
My goal here is to get them published in a book, which I will probably end up publishing on my own.
I’d appreciate it if you would check this out as it’s a project I put all of my emotion into. The photos are mine, the words are mine, the sentiments are mine, gathered over the span of 40 years or so.
If you’d like to share the link, even better. I don’t often ask you to reblog or share my own stuff, but I’d really like to get this one out there.
Keep swimming. There’s always another side. You keep swimming until you reach it.
What if my arms get tired before then? What if I tread water too long and drown while looking for it?
What if you don’t?
What if I get to the other side and the water is dark and murky?
What if it’s not? You don’t know. You have to swim. You have to keep swimming.
What if there is no other side?
There’s no answer for that and I panic at the thought of being stuck in between nowhere and here.
It’s easier to never leave.
“It’s the going up,” she says. “Taking your feet off the ground, letting someone else lift and carry you, that’s hard.”
“But once you’re up here,”, he says, “all that fear of taking off is gone.”
“Then there’s just the fear of flying, the fear of all that space around us, the fear of landing before you’re supposed to.”
“You can’t be afraid of everything. You’ll end up doing nothing.” He looks out at sky and clouds and feels weightless. He wants her to feel that, too.
She looks out at his view. “I’m not too afraid to be here.”
We slowly shed everything beautiful. We lose the grip on all that is vibrant and wondrous and we watch the best things about us do a slow dance through the air, tumbling gracelessly into a pile of our strengths gathered at the feet of those who shook it all from us. All of our dreams lie scattered in the grass, waiting for the wind to pick them up and carry them to places far from our outstretched hands that were hoping for their return.
We become bare. We stand stripped, naked and cold. But we still stand.
Still we stand.
She kept everything in jars, clear jars lined up on shelves. They were in every room on every wall, taking up all the breathing space. Each jar was given a name, just a word laboriously written in handwriting that was more loops and curves than necessary. Fear. Lies. Nightmares. Questions. Doubts. Eventually she had more jars than shelf space so she lined them up on the floor, on the tables and against the door and when she shut herself in, shut everyone else out, she unscrewed the lids and waited for whatever was swimming in the jars to devour her.