Planet of Junk: Chapter 1

Hello once again on this fine Saturday (or whatever date it is of the time of your reading) Today we have something alike a short story. It’s more like a “pilot” of a much longer narrative or novel that I have in mind, but due to complications has not progressed very far, or any, for that matter. Though,when I wrote this, it’s intention was to be a standalone. However, I imagined the world far too big, and I began creating complexities where commonality was intended. So, it spiraled out of control and I wanted to explore it and make it something akin to The Road. Though, I’m not saying that I had much inspiration from the McCarthy novel, the premise, does share similarities, though, Planet of Junk has yet to pick itself off its feet.  So, for the time being, as Planet of Junk lingers in my pile of works, it’ll also linger here, as a cruel joke of sorts. Or perhaps, it might intrigue you more than I would think. Here you go, “Planet of Junk”.

For a second, I thought I saw a diamond, even among these piles of junk, I thought I saw a diamond. The world around me had ended. The only thing among the streets and buildings were piles and piles of junk. I walked miles and miles only to see an interminable array of junk lining every corner of my eyes. Gears, broken machinery, and the remnants of humanity has been strewn across the world to remind any who remain, the travesty of the human will. I know I am not the only person in the world, but as I walked across the streets filled with junk, I couldn’t help but wonder why anyone would want to live in such a world.

Today, I wandered across the streets with my backpack. Piles and piles of junk toppled one another, each reaching for the sky, almost as if they were fighting to see which of them could touch the clouds first. I looked up, and noticed that the piles of junk were not too tall, but rooted for them to reach the heavens. The sky above me was grey, with tinges of blue and tinges of white every so often, but for the most part, it was muddied junk. I wanted the junk to win, because I wanted the sky to be filled with their love of the world.

I often stopped among some piles of junk that seemed more valuable than others. There were no jobs in this world anymore, but I often thought myself to be something of an erudite when it came to junk collecting. I rummaged through the pile, making sure not to scrape my hands among any odds and ends and made sure not to allow any oil leaks to get on my clothes. These days, it’s hard to find clean clothes. Sometimes, people would often trade junk for clothes, but the clothes weren’t really that good either. Finding water to wash clothes was even harder since I needed water to drink first. I often read in books and from rumors that the world before had traded paper for commodities. I think I would want to live in that world.

Sometimes I wouldn’t find anything, and that was fine too. I knew that there were many more piles of junk in the world, and all I needed to do was to keep moving on. For today, I didn’t find anything, but I didn’t let that get to me. Being consternated was the last thing I needed. So as the night came, I smiled at the muddied sky, with my worn blanket over me, and my small fire at the end of the worn down building. I smiled and prayed, and then went to sleep. Today I couldn’t find anything, but I was happy to at least have somewhere to sleep.

Today, I woke up with my warm blanket over me, and my fire un stoked.  My backpack was beside me, with everything I needed still present. I had a few bottles of fresh water, a can of beans, and some spare clothes. I packed my blanket inside. I didn’t like looking at my side pockets, because that was where I had my knife, my screw driver, and my wrench. If I had to use my side pocket, it was for one of two reasons. I needed to be resourceful, or I needed to kill someone. I often confused the two.

After packing everything up and making sure that my firewood was displaced, I moved on and continued to rummage through the piles of junk that lied among the streets. Sometimes I wouldn’t be able to see a single person for days. And then when I hit an outpost, a place where many people come together to settle down, I would see hundreds of others. I wasn’t hoping to find an outpost. I hated those places. They would look at you with hungry eyes, and just staying at any outpost for more than one day was insidious. The only good thing about an outpost is that they have good beds.

It was probably mid-afternoon when I spotted it. I was rummaging through a pile of junk when I saw something glint in the corner of my eyes. It was strange to see something shine in a pile of junk. There were two rampant ideas about shining objects. Either someone dropped something valuable, or someone had missed something valuable. The former was very unlikely since most people were frugal, and the idea of dropping something would make them insane.  The latter was equally as unlikely, but probably the better of the two, since I didn’t want to be at the end of some contrived diatribe.

I moved towards the glint, and after moving some junk away from it, I noticed that it was the glint of a brand new walkie-talkie. I picked it up, and plastered some nearby dirt onto the surface, making sure to only wear out the shine rather than break the device. I turned the device on, by turning the dial on the front, and extended the antenna at the top. The incipient static soon subsided as a voice began chiming in. It was a female voice, one that was quite young, but not as young as a child. Children were usually not very social, and even if they were, they had ulterior motives. Though, one that left an obvious trap like this might not be trying to set me up for an imminent doom.

“Hello?” The voice from the walkie-talkie said.

“Hello,” I answered.

“Thank goodness someone found this. I was worried that I had dropped it somewhere– No wait, I did drop it, I mean, you found it. Uh–Oh! A meeting! We should meet! That walkie-talkie is important to me, and–Oh! I’m sorry, I should introduce myself first.” I heard her clear her throat, and then press up against her walkie-talkie, “I’m Winter. No last name. Nice to meet you!” From her voice and tone alone, I could tell that she was an energetic girl, perhaps even a bit gregarious. I reiterated what she said in my head, and considered my next course of action. Meeting this girl meant one of two things, much like most things in this world. I would either meet my untimely doom, or I would meet a new friend. The former very likely. Though despite this, I answered her anyway.

“Summer. No last name. I found your walkie-talkie in a pile of junk. Mixed in with the odds and ends this thing looked like a–” I stopped, and then answered her once I had the right word, “Diamond.”

“Your name’s Summer?” She seemed more surprised at my name than the fact that she had dropped her walkie-talkie and had a random stranger pick it up. I wondered if she was mercurial.

“That’s amazing!” She dragged on, “I’m Winter, the season where snow fell–Where snow used to fall. And you’re Summer! The season where the sun rose–Where the sun used to rise. We’re like… Complete opposites!” Now I was certain.

“You’re happy that you found your polar opposite?” I asked.

“Don’t you think it’s cool?” Despite only talking to her through a walkie-talkie, I imagined her voice to be something like a cool draft of air, the kind of air that made my spine tingle. It was the kind of air that made the low satisfying whistling sound through hollow machinery. I loved that sound.

“Well, if anything it’s certainly strange,” I answered.

“Both our parents named us after seasons, and both our parents–But, let’s talk about meeting up! That walkie-talkie is mine after all.” For some reason, I imagined her to be a perky kind of girl, doing everything with alacrity, and speaking more with her body than her mouth. I imagined her smile, and I imagined her pained face as she mentioned family. Those without were more common than those with. We call those privileged, nobles.

“Okay, where should we meet up?” I asked, knowing full well that I lost my map ages ago, and now I was more akin to a blind sheppard. Though, I’ve never seen a blind sheppard. Or a regular sheppard. And I wasn’t sure what I was shepparding either. However, I found it oddly fitting.

“Where are you right now?” She asked me. I honored her conviction, and looked around the piles of junk surrounding me, the worn down buildings that accompanied it, and the faded signs of landmark. In short, I was lost, though, as I stood here with her walkie-talkie in hand, I was in fact an eminent pathfinder.  I always seemed to find outposts, and always seemed to find interesting places to gawk at. However, having a map was nice.

“In the middle of the wasteland,” I answered with smug.

“Wait, you mean, you’re at the center of the world!” She seemed pretty happy to hear that.

“No… That’s not what I meant.” I sighed, “Look, I’m–I’m lost.”

“You’re lost? So you’re not at the center of the world?” And now she was disappointed.

“No. I’m probably somewhere up north though.”

“North…” It took her some time to process the information, and I could imagine seeing her deep in thought. For some reason, I imagined her to have bright golden hair, vibrant red cheeks, and a relatively small frame. I imagined her unusually long golden hair flow in the squalid air, and I imagined her wince at the sharper winds that followed. In my mind, Winter seemed awfully warm, and me, Summer, I imagined myself as cold. I didn’t like showing it, but I had white hair, short white hair that barely hung over my eyes. I liked hiding it with my hood, because finding hats in this world was harder than finding water.

“Why don’t we meet halfway then?” she said, “At an outpost! I know someone–I think I knew someone there.”

“At an outpost? Halfway there?”

“Yeah! It’s called Gear. It’s a small little outpost, unlike the other one’s you usually find–But the people there can be pretty bad too– That’s not the point though. It’s a nice little place. It’s my favorite place.”

“Gear? Anyway you can tell me how to get there?” There was a pause. I could imagine her thinking again.

“You said you’re probably up north right?” She asked.

“Yeah. I only travel in one direction so I don’t confuse myself. I can’t ever stay sedentary, so I just chose a direction and kept moving.”

“And you don’t have a map?”

“I used to.”

“What happened to it?” Her curiosity was unplaced, yet for some reason, it compelled me to answer her curiosity, and so I cleared my throat, “I was travelling towards Fox’s Wrench. An outpost that another traveller marked on my map. That was when I got hit by a sandstorm.”

“A sandstorm!” Winter seemed to light up at the sound of it. Childishly at that. Though, I imagined her expression to be quite amusing.

“More like a junk storm. You know, I’m sure you’ve seen one. Giant waves of wind come crashing into the torn down buildings and piles of junk get picked up. Any foolish enough to still be outside either gets hit by flying debris, or gets picked up themselves.”

“You were still outside?” I laughed at the question as I remembered the event unfolding in my head.

“I was running as fast as I could to try and take shelter from one of the torn buildings. Except, I didn’t run fast enough.” I heard her gasp, and I could imagine her expression again. It was strange, how vividly her face popped into my mind, her features, everything. It was like imagining winter. I just knew how it looked like, without ever seeing it.

“Before I knew it, I was neck deep in the storm. My backpack flung off–I found it later– But my entire body was spinning in the air, it felt like I was flying, but my stomach couldn’t handle it, and I almost puked.”

“How did you get out?” Winter’s voice spiked, it was high, and it was abrasive. I smiled with swagger, and, just as if she was standing in front of me, I waved my arm as if indicating my next set of actions was something laudable.

“I was spinning and spinning, and–I got really lucky. The wind couldn’t actually hold me for long, and I got flung into a pile of plastic junk.” Without needing her verbal confirmation, I could tell that her face sank and that whatever impression she had, had faded into disappointment.

“That was it?” She said.

“That was it. I got lucky, too lucky for my own good.”

“But– But I’ve heard stories of people being flung hundreds of miles away, of people travelling thousands of kilometers before being dropped off, of an outpost being hit by flying debris across the world!” I wasn’t sure about the last one, but I have heard of the two other cases, and me surviving probably meant I had sold my soul to some greater being. If that truly was the case, I would probably want to buy that back as soon as possible.

“I’m here talking to you, aren’t I?” I said. I imagined her shrinking in her spot.

“I guess. So, what about your map then?”

“My map was in my back pocket. It got flown over when I was in the storm, but I never did manage to find it.” I still imagined her sinking demeanor, her face linked to the ground, her pouting expression, and her swinging arms as she tried to shake off all the excess excitement. I smiled at that image. We had more pressing matters to attend to, though, and so I steered us back into the right direction, “Anyway, about that outpost, Gear.”

“Oh! Right! Sorry. I tend to get off track– People tell me that. Like, they really tell me that.”

“No problem. Just, how do I even navigate without any bearings?”

“You have no sign posts, or any landmarks near you?” I looked around once more, and tried my best to scope out any noticeable features. The answer still came out as a definite no.

“Then, there is one way–” Her voice trailed off, I couldn’t tell whether she was pulling the walkie-talkie away from her mouth, or she just lowered her tone, “Follow my voice.” I was astounded at first, taken aback, and almost fell on my back.

“Pull the antenna  up, and crank the dial full blast,” she told me, and so I did. Static roared into my ear, and probably anyone else’s in a small few meter radius around me. I quickly dialed back and then grunted into the receiver.

“You hear that?” She asked.

“The sound of death,” I answered back in small strides. She laughed, or rather, giggled at my predicament, which I imagine she did while covering her mouth with small fragile hands, pale as snow, if snow was pale.

“No. That’s a distance marker–Not really a marker, but more like an indicator. Just walk with it at full dial. The closer you are to my walkie-talkie, the quieter it gets.”

“And the louder it gets, the farther I am from you?”

“Yeah. So just do what you’ve always been doing, and keep walking. We’ll eventually find each other. I’ll make my way to Gear, and stay there, and wait for you. When you mean north, you mean– North, right?”

“Yeah. The north as in, the North Outpost. I guess, if it’s halfway there, it isn’t that bad. I’ll walk then, and I’ll check up on the static every so often.”

“Okay. I’ll be waiting, then, Summer.” I imagined her smiling and I imagined her putting her walkie-talkie down, wherever she may be. I sighed, and then gathered my things, looked at the pile of junk I was standing on, and promptly got off. I dialed up the walkie-talkie again, listened at the pernicious static, and then dialed back down. I ruffled my hidden white hair, and then moved my feet forward, towards north, where Winter waited.

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Little Blue Winter

Hello once again. This time, we have a story that’s a bit based off of the concept of Little Red Ridinghood. It’s kind of a stretch,but the idea was to parody the fairytale. Not in the sense that you would think, but I think with some sense of it, there are some themes that are mimicked. Except, of course, I added my own twist to it. Though, that’s not up to me to decide whether I did a good job of using some of Little Red’s concepts. But here you go, “Little Blue Winter”.

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Winter walks into her mother’s room and notices that her condition has not grown better. Winter begins pacing back and forth her mother’s room, her hands forming fists and her teeth now biting into her lips. Winter’s mother opens her eyes slowly and opens her mouth to speak, “Winter. I know that I have been causing you trouble. But please do not worry.” Winter makes her way to her mother’s side, and begins moving her hand to find her mother’s, “If you say that, you’ll make me want to venture out and find help.” Winter smiles at her mother, and holds back the tears from her eyes. Although she does this, she knows that it is imminent, and tears begin rolling down her face. Winter’s mother places one hand over her daughter,  and begins rubbing the top of her head. She then drags her close to her sides, and whispers into her ears, “Please. For me. Promise me that you won’t go outside. There are dangerous people outside. I’ll get better knowing you’re here with me, okay?” Winter nods her head, and then waits as her mother falls asleep. Winter knows that the world outside was surreptitious, and that her mother only wants to keep her away from that truth. However, Winter could not sit knowing what was traversing in her home, and thus she makes her way to the front door and ventures out.

With each step she takes, Winter sings a note from a lullaby she has grown accustomed to. With each step she takes, Winter skips and jumps and waves her arms as she narrowly avoids pebbles and branches. Winter and her mother lives in a desolated forest. Winter has never met many people because of her mother’s protective nature, and now as she skips along on the forest path, Winter smiles and laughs, despite no one to hear. With each step she takes, Winter begins to forget her mother’s pleas, and drifts off into her own realized reverie.

As Winter skips along on the forest trail, she remembers a story from her mother, one about a magical spring river that can cure any illness. Winter even remembers where her mother said the magical spring river would be in the forest, and begins making her way with alacrity.

After a few minutes, Winter realizes that she is lost. She begins shifting her feet on the forest path, and flailing her hands around to feel for a tree trunk. Winter does not know where she is and opens her mouth to prepare a scream. However, Winter stops, closes her mouth, and thinks. If she can listen for the river, then she will know exactly where to go. So Winter listens and listens and finally hears moving water. Winter is certain that this river is the magical spring river that her mother tells her about and quickly makes her way there.

As Winter arrives at the river, she realizes that she has nothing to put the water into. She begins reaching around the river bed to see if she can find something to put the water into. Winter is hopeful that perhaps a kind old lady has left a basket for her, or perhaps she would find an empty cup that someone left by accident. Winter would bring the water to her mother, and then return the basket or cup to the owner when her mother was better. Winter was sure they would understand, but Winter could not find anything after much effort. Winter was about to give up, but then she hears footsteps near the river bed. Winter gets up from the bed and then talks in the direction of the footsteps, “Hello!”

“You mustn’t play in the river all by yourself.” The voice was that of a woman’s, and although Winter hears the sincerity in her voice, Winter does not see the purple colored pointed hat that the woman wears, or her long black robe, or her long nose. The purple woman approaches Winter slowly, and notices Winter’s eyes. The purple woman then smiles and takes a small seed from her long robe.

“My name is Loki. What’s your name little one?”

“I’m Winter! I need this magical spring water for my mother, but I can’t carry it.” Winter frowns and pouts, which causes Loki to pat her head and say softly, “Is your mother ill?” Winter nods her head and Loki verbally expresses her deep thought, which gives Winter hope. Loki then takes out a small bottle, and says, “I have this bottle here. Why don’t I give you some of the water then?” Winter lights up, with a big smile on her face and says, “Will you really?” Loki forms a devious smile that reaches the ends of her face as she tells her that she will get her the water. Loki then crouches down at the river, and lowers her bottle, filling it, and effectively abrogating any incredulous thoughts Winter may still have. Winter waits patiently as Loki fills the bottle. When Loki is done, she hands the bottle to Winter, but places the seed into the bottle. Winter accepts the bottle, and grasps it firmly with both of her small hands and thanks Loki, while fully unaware that her act was not altruistic.

With the bottle in her hands, Winter begins making her way back to her home. With each step she takes, Winter sings a note from a lullaby she has grown accustomed to. With each step she takes, Winter swings her arms back and forth in complete elation, hopeful that her mother will now be free from the shackles of her illness.  Winter finally makes it to her home, and does not knock so that she does not wake her mother. Winter opens the door slowly, ousting any creaks and croaks, and steps lightly onto the floor boards, making her way to her mother’s room. With each step she takes, Winter begins reiterating her day in her head, how she got lost, and how a lady named Loki helped her.

Winter makes her way to her mother’s side, and just as she takes out the bottle, her mother wakes up and looks at Winter with tired eyes. Winter smiles, and shows her the bottle, “I got this from the magical spring river! The one that can cure any illness!” Winter puffs her chest out and smiles a smile that reaches the ends of her face. Winter’s mother looks at the bottle, and notices the strange color of it. Winter, still unbeknownst to what Loki had done to her bottle, continues to stand by her mother, awaiting the sound of her drinking. Winter’s mother, who lay sickly in bed, without the strength to break the news to her dear daughter, opens the lid, and begins drinking the contaminated water. Upon hearing this, Winter lights up and hugs her mother’s side, with her mother’s hand over her head. Winter’s mother looks over at her hand, and whispers as she notices her hand slowly turning blue, “I’ll always love you, Winter.”

Songs of Disillusion

Hello once again. Today, although it is a short story, is actually very heavily based off of a poem written by Lang Leav, entitled, Sad Songs.  Lang Leav is known  for her book of poems: Love and Misadventure, Lullabies and Memories. Each book contains a collection of different poems with ranging themes, and the poem that so happened to spark a chord within me was Sad Songs, though there were many. This short story is very much a retelling of Sad Songs to the very core, so don’t expect the core plot to be any different, it ends the same way, and it has many encompassing ideas. Though, what is different, is the presentation and how I decide to execute it. So, give it a shot, here you go, “Songs of Disillusion”.

I am a boy who has lived on this planet, yet I can’t speak, not even to a baby. No matter how wide, and no matter how hard I try to produce what is known as words, I can’t. I will never be able to speak to anyone in my entire life, except for myself. I say words in my head, and that’s how I think. I talk to myself, because I can’t speak. It’s almost like, watching my life go on by in a vivid dream, like I’m living in third person. What’s there to live for, if I can’t even say, “I love you” to my parents, “good bye” to my grandparents, and, “I’ll miss you” to my friends. I’m living like a dog. Except, even they have it better than me.

I always imagined my voice to be something like a soft whisper, because that’s how it is in my head. I’ve met many soft spoken people before, and they have lovely voices. They get ridiculed and blame themselves for being too quiet. I find that a very pernicious way to think. They have no idea how envious I am of them. To even have a voice is a blessing, no matter how loud or quiet. They just haven’t learned to embrace it yet.

One day, my parents gave me a small music box. It was filled with many songs, and I would listen to each and every one of them while I watched the other boys and girls play. I came accustomed to these sounds, the sound of music. They were unlike any voice I’ve heard. They came from a language that I couldn’t understand, yet the tones and accents were all so engrossing to me. My mom called it, harmony. I thought that was a nice name, and so I named the music box, Harmony. It was a she, and she had all the idiosyncrasies I could ever hope for in a laconically quaint box.

I soon realized that Harmony was just an incipient part of my much larger life. It was imminent that more was to come, I just couldn’t see it, and even if I did, I couldn’t tell it to stop. I met a girl at a park one day, while I was walking home with my music box. She was sitting near a river of ducks, feeding small bits of bread to them. I watched as she ripped piece after piece of the loaf, until there was no more. I could hear her laugh, and I could see her smile, yet I couldn’t reach out to her, because I thought it would be too weird, and so I simply watched. However, I had an idea, and so I winded up my music box, and played a song out loud. The notes sprang into the air as the soft rhythm danced across the grass around us, swirling up into the blue of the sky as each well constructed beat filled our ears. The girl turned around to see me, she waved and smiled, but when I didn’t respond, she didn’t walk away. We locked eyes, and she walked closer towards me. Her voice was crystal clear, like the notes of my music box, “I never heard a sound like that before.” I didn’t answer.

“What’s it called?” She asked. I looked at her and smiled.

“Let’s go over there and sit, and you can make more, okay?” I nodded, and we sat near a park bench. I winded up my music box again, and allowed the stream of notes to engulf us. It was like crashing waves, thunderous clouds, and the earth shaking around us as the acerbic melody bounced around our vivid minds. The girl giggled, “Something like before!” I made a mental note of the song I just played, and then winded up my music box for another song. This time it was a song filled with fireflies in the dark. They lit up as the dark of the night enshrouded us, and the small flicker of lights  made it blindingly enchanting. The song then moved faster, and faster, and the notes more intense, the wind of the forest flying up at us, and then, everything stopped. One, two, three, the notes slowed, and the fireflies calmed, and we were left in an inescapable darkness. The girl beside me suddenly burst out of her seat and began jumping with alacrity. She smiled and jumped and smiled and jumped until she could smile and jump no more.

“More!” Her eyes were wide,  her expression that of great elation, and she captivated me. For once in my entire life, someone who talked to me, wanted to be with me, even if it was just for Harmony.  I played songs that entire day until she had to go. We were waltzing in sunflower fields, in desert storms, in the ocean with a school of sharks, and even in outer space. Harmony was filled with worlds that she nor I could ever attain, but with it, we were able to reach our hands for the stars, and grasp the lucid surface of our reverie.  She waved goodbye to me that day, and said that I would see her around again. I never got her name, but I called her Melody.

The next day, I saw Melody again. She waved to me, with her flowing hair behind her, her bright cheeks, and her vibrant smile. Her eyes were brightly colored and shined in the lowlight of the evening. She waved to me, and we both sat by the park bench again. I winded my music box, and allowed the notes of the small box to swallow us into a pit of darkness. Everything was still, and then a tinge of color appeared at the edge of our eyes. And then another tinge, and another, and another, until our entire world was filled.  We found ourselves walking on a beach, with the light of the wind against our face, with the sand on our feet, and with the smell of the salty ocean beside us. And then, everything crashed, the ocean, the sand, and the seagulls above us. Everything came crashing down on our quiet enclave, and everything turned into a meager spilling black. Our worlds became distorted and everything came jarring into our hearts. Our beings turned into oil, and before we knew it, we were burned. I turned towards Melody, who remained awestruck at what she saw. This song made me cry.

Melody smiled at me, like she always did, a fleeting smile, that I would never have guessed would be so fulfilling. For the times we spent together, I winded up my music box and played song after song for her, but the songs she most enjoyed were those of consternation. It became a normality, so much so that Melody was hard-wired to only hear the bleakness of the notes, and the drudgery of the rhythm.

Our days of grandeur could never have become a thing of permanency. It simply wasn’t within our grasp that we would revel in complete bliss in a sanctum of perpetual chords. Melody came to the same park bench that day, and I had Harmony in my hands. I winded her up, and allowed the notes to flow out into our meager perfunctory. It was the same few songs that she adored, and yet, the same shine in her had faded. She looked out at the river in front of us, at the shards of grass on the ground, and stared up at me. I wanted to ask her why, why her expression remained expressionless, why her face remained faceless, and why our days became pointless. I opened my mouth, with Harmony in my hand, but no words came out. However, Melody understood my tacit statement, my darkened down casted eyes, my pained lips, and my tensed hands, as they gripped on my pants. She noticed my entire being as it was being drained of it’s very essence. Her smile had brought everything about me to life. Her bright smile had made placid grey into vibrant reds, displaced whites into beautiful blues and staccato notes into tied wholes. She smiled, “I know you can’t talk.” She smiled at me vibrantly, almost too vibrantly. I began shaking with Harmony in my hands. The small music box neared its last ensemble, for me, and for her.

“For the longest time, I’ve been stuck in my own little world.” Melody began speaking to me, her eyes locked with mines, but she knew that I could not answer back.

“I didn’t know that my feelings would pour out so much when I heard the sounds you made for the first time.” She looked down, she avoided my eyes, and her hands scrunched up in her lap.

“It was enchanting.” Her eyes had welled up, and she smiled a broken smile, a smile that struck me in the chest and forced my entire being out. I gripped my chest to stop my fleeting entirety, to suppress the blood from the daggers of reality, to stop the lead of the bullets from spilling over.

“Thank you.” She smiled again, a broken smile, with broken tears,  with broken dreams, with broken hopes, with broken happiness.

“It was my first time hearing sadness, but now, I have to leave you.” Somewhere inside of me, I expected her to say those sullen words. Somewhere inside of me, fought it to be a lie. And somewhere inside of me, knew that it was imminent.

“I never thought that the feeling of sadness was so gripping. It was truly beautiful.” My world became a languid trance, I waited and waited but I was stuck in an interminable loop. The words Melody spoke began bouncing through my head, but none of it remained solid.

“Good bye.” Those were the last few words that I remember, and lucidly understood. Melody took my hands in hers and then pressed her lips onto them, they were warm, and despite my consternated  being, I still felt a tinge of sanctity. Melody stood up, and then left, waving and smiling back at me, and before I knew it, I was all alone, again.

“Now, I need to find someone who can show me what happiness is.” Her words sprang in my head again, words that she said but I never bothered to want to understand. Words that meant everything to her, and nothing to me. I wanted to scream, and cry, but as I opened my mouth, I knew that nothing would suffice. All I had to do now, was just move on. There was no point in dwelling on her, no point at all. I would miss her, miss her smile, and miss her company, but she would never miss me. I was just a boy with a music box.

And So The Bell Tolls

Hello once again. I don’t have much to say other than I’m at least trying to get some stuff out. This, and a few more are the result of that effort. It’s something. Unfortunately haven’t gotten the time to actually work on new pieces, but for now, revel in what is essentially months of backlog. Here you go, “And So The Bell Tolls”.

The sullen family stood facing the tampered soil, with each head facing towards the tombstone. The wind blew softly, and with it came small snowflakes; falling gently onto the holy ground. The atmosphere was stagnant, not a single soul spoke a word, and the only sounds that filled the air were that of weeping, and mourning. Emily stood at the side of her father, who towered over the other attending family members. Her hand was clutching the hem of his black suit, and her eyes were filled with tears. Her bright blonde hair and her small stature trembled.

Emily’s mother had passed away, leaving Emily and her father all to themselves. Emily is still attending elementary school, a precarious child that has been nurtured by her mother. From when she was born, Emily has done nothing but dote on her loving mother, but now as she is gone, she is drenched with losing both a figure of parental care, and a companion. Surrounded by family, friends, and even strangers, Emily finds herself in a world devoid of any light. The sounds of leaves rustling in the early winter draft, and the cold air that passes through Emily are but shadows to her. When the news first came to Emily, she was absolutely obstinate. She cursed her father, her uncles, and at one point herself. She cursed her father for his lies, for the things that she could not believe, for belittling her mother. But Emily knew all along, when mother never returned home, when her relatives were comforting her, she knew all along. And she wanted to be there for her.

Throughout the process, Emily didn’t budge. She wouldn’t answer when spoken to, she wouldn’t look when called upon, nor did she walk the same. She was shrouded in her own veil, seeming to still deny everything about the world she knew. But when push came to shove, when she had to face her realities, she broke. The still face of her deceased mother, the crowd of shadows behind her, and even the darkness which draped her body all seemed so real to Emily. Perhaps the reason why her face contorted, and why tears began streaming down her face, was because they were real.

Upon laying her feet onto the soil, Emily could feel the weight of everything around her. The soil sank beneath her feet, and with each shovel full of dirt that sank into the dirt, Emily felt like screaming. She didn’t want to let go, but her father’s large hands had shadowed over her face, and her body was glued to his like a magnet. Like bees to honey, she couldn’t escape her father’s warm grasp, and cried into his suit. She cried, and cried, silently into his father’s side, until tears could no longer depart from her tiny eyes.

One by one, the people standing in prayer for the deceased began heading back. Their steps were unheard to by Emily, who still stood clutching by her father. Her eyes were empty, and her hands were frozen, her feet were stone, and her hair was glass. Emily’s father was the last adult at the venue, and the only thing he could do for Emily, was try and break her spell. Emily’s father grabbed Emily’s hand and got onto his knees, so that his view was not bird eye. With one hand on top of Emily’s head, her father spoke, “Everything will be alright. Mommy might be gone, but that just means that we have to pull through even more. That’s what she would have wanted.” Her father’s words passed through Emily like paper in a shredder; not a single piece intact.  Emily looked over, and stared blankly into her father’s eyes, but, something caught her attention. A little ways over her father’s head, was a red butterfly. It was so vibrantly red that Emily  thought it to be just fiction. But something within her sought out to follow it.

“Let’s get through this together, Em.” Her father’s words drifted in the wind as she broke from his grasp and began running after the red butterfly. Her father watched her as she chased after what seemed to be the wind itself. He called out to her, but she didn’t respond.  Emily chased after the butterfly as if it was the only thing in her world. She bumped into tombstones, tripped over rocks and dirtied her dress, but none of it mattered in front of her crimson captor. Her entire being was captivated by its bloodied wings, and amidst the darkness within her eyes, she finally saw color.

The red butterfly finally halted its flight, opting to rest upon a young man’s fedora. Without regards to the man whom the butterfly perched upon, Emily walked up and extended her hand. “Hello.” The man’s words were of little relevance as Emily continued to reach for the butterfly. Without warning, the man grabbed Emily’s arm, breaking her out of the trance, and effectively noticing the man crouched in front of her. She searched frantically, but could not see the butterfly. The man let go of his grip, and noticed the aloof look in her eyes. “Are you okay? Lost?” The man received no response, but he knew that he couldn’t just leave her alone. The man grabbed his bag and searched for his phone.

“Did your parents ever give you a slip of paper to hand to strangers if you get lost?”

“Mom–” The man heard a whisper. He gave Emily a questioning look and asked her to speak up.

“My mom–”

“Your mom? Do you mean she gave you something?” Emily didn’t respond, which further confused the man. He gave himself a minute to think about her circumstances, and figured out the general idea.

“Do you mean, your mother’s dead?” Emily nodded her head in response. Her whole being was still spellbound, but something about the man made Emily feel nostalgic. It was strange to Emily, why she felt this way towards this man. A strange feeling inside of Emily’s head radiated towards the man in front of her. It made her feel comfortable, which is what allowed Emily to speak her mind.

“Mommy can’t make it to dinner anymore. Daddy will be all alone. She can’t eat with us.” Emily’s voice was cold; devoid of any emotion. The man couldn’t look at her in the face while she talked, it was too wrenching.  “If mommy can’t make it back home, then she can’t read me bed time stories anymore. She can’t pet my head, she can’t tell me how much she loves me.” Suddenly, tears began welling up in Emily’s eyes. It seemed almost unnatural. The man couldn’t sit just listening, he rummaged in his bag, until his hands wrapped around a wooden texture.

“Your mother might not be around anymore, but you still have your father. I wonder, have you ever heard of an annulment?” Emily shook her head. The man brought out the wooden rectangular box from his bag. Upon lifting the lid, a soft tune began filling the air. It was a simple melody, designed for putting children to sleep; a lullaby. As the notes rifted in Emily’s ears, a wave of nostalgia crashed onto her. The melody was all too similar for Emily, and her eyes  widened with color. Her arms began trembling, and she dropped to her knees. The tears in her eyes fell, but the sensation was no other. To Emily, it felt as if it was her first time crying.

“This melody…A friend gave it to me a long time ago. I carry it with me as a cruel joke.”

“My mommy used to hum this when I had trouble falling asleep. It feels like she’s here with me.”

“I’m sure she is. I’m sure she’s watching over you.” The man handed Emily the music box. Her hands were still slightly shaken up, but she was still able to grasp onto the object.

“Are you sure mister? Isn’t this yours?”

“It’s not that important. Besides, I think the owner of that music box, would have liked you to have it anyway.” The man then got up and began walking in the opposite direction that Emily came from. Emily wiped her tears away, and stared at the music box; it’s melody long faded. She closed the lid of the box, and began winding it. Once open, the melody filled the air, and gave Emily the same warmth that her mother had. She remained frozen within the music’s grasp, unknowing to all around her, ignoring even her worried father’s distant calls. In the instant that the music box played it’s slow melody, Emily felt that the world she knew might be alright after all. It was a strange feeling for Emily. She couldn’t find the right word to describe the feeling inside of a person when everything in the world felt right. Though she had it now.

Knife In a Hay

Hello once again. You know, I’ve been doing this for quite some time, time enough that it has become my mantra in a sense. Disappearing, claiming I was doing things, and then returning with some short stories that I’ve been saving up. This true. And this also the realities that I’ve faced, I think. Or something. I won’t chalk this up to peer indolence, because it wasn’t. Anyway, this time we have a short story, one that is considerably, or arguably longer than most, about a man who learns a little bit about happiness, one step at a time, through the encounter of a quaint, lost young girl. I’ll be pumping things out, I promise on that, because I have things to pump out. Perhaps not new things, but short stories are going to be flooding. Well, more like a wave.  Waves are cool too. Here you go, “Knife In a Hay”.

 

 

A scream resounded in the dark alleyway, which slowly turned into muffling as the man covered his victim with a cloth.

“Quiet!” The man said as he pushed him down onto the alleyway and ducked his head. After assuring himself that no wandering eyes would befall him, he brought his victim up and searched his pockets.

“Where is she?” The man pointed a knife towards his victim, and removed the cloth from his mouth, urging him to answer his question.

“I don’t know!”

“Don’t give me that.” The man brought his knife closer to his victims neck, and produced a small picture in front of him.

“You know who that is?”

“I don’t!” The victim didn’t squirm, and fixated his eyes on the knife that found itself near his neck.

“That’s my wife. And you know what?” The victim began shaking his head, his lips sealed, and his eyes bolted wide.

“She’s dead. Someone killed her, and now I want her back.”

“What?”

“Where is she?”

“What do you mean? She’s dead, you just said that!” The victim began panicking as the man’s eyes began dilating.

“You look like you could have done it. I’ve heard the rumors.”

“Rumors?”

“They say things about you. You get around the neighbourhood, if you know what I mean.”

“I have no idea what happened with your wife, okay? I didn’t even know you existed!” The man drove his knife into the man’s neck.

“Have I found you yet?” The man said out loud.

“No. I haven’t found you. I’ll keep looking for you then. I’ll find you again,” the man said as he began wiping away the blood from his knife and from his hands. Once he was done, he left the dark alleyway, and began walking down the snow covered walkway. He checked his watch; the dead of night. He sighed and watched as his breath formed and disappeared. He thought that it was fleeting. When the man looked up, the only thing he could see was the star filled sky. It was all so bright, he thought. Too bright for his own liking. He scuttled his way towards the busy intersection of bodies, and walked towards the front of a bakery. The man sighed, he had nowhere to go, and didn’t care. He sat down at the front of the store, with his knees out stretched. His head banged onto the glass of the store, causing him to place one hand over it. He turned his head with a sour look on his face and looked at the glass window. A disheveled face, and a limp body appeared in the glass pane. The man laughed at this image before turning back towards the streets. Cars roared from every side, and exhaust filled the air. People walked by without giving the man a second glance, and even more people gave him pitiful looks. He laughed at that as well.

“Mister?” A voice called out to the man. He had fallen asleep on the store front.

“You okay?” The voice called out again, bringing a of serenity to the man. He woke up slowly, his eyes barely adjusting to the figure in front of him.

“Where–” The man began, but his voice began trailing. Once his eyes had adjusted, he noticed a child in front of him. It was a young girl, probably still in elementary school, the man concluded. There was no one else, and the streets were eerily quiet, with only the odd car or passerby giving much life to the intersection now.

“Never mind,” the man said to himself. He was still in the same streets, sitting on the same store front, and sleeping at the same time. This much was his life, and the man knew that. His knife was tucked away in his pocket, and he made sure that his hands were clean. He checked his watch and laughed at the time.

“You shouldn’t be out so late, young lady,” the man said.

“I’m not out late.” The man looked at his watch again, and looked behind him to see the empty store. He looked back at the child, who was staring intently at him. The man had two choices now, and didn’t feel like doing either, but he knew that if he didn’t answer, the girl in front of him would not budge.

“Fine then,” the man began, “Where’s your mommy? Or daddy?”

“I don’t know!” The girl proudly proclaimed.

“So you’re lost?”

“I came here with my momma and dad to see the lights.” The man took a few moments to think about what she could have meant, and then looked at his watch more closely. Eve, he thought. The thought of that day, made him want to be more uplifting. He figured that if anything, he should at least stick to traditions, and at least have some spirit. At the same time, the thought of spending that spirit alone also made him all the more bitter.

“Did you see the lights then?” The man asked.

“Yeah!” The man waited for her to continue, but she didn’t. The man gave her a questioning look, and then laughingly asked, “You’re not going to tell me about it?”

“Not unless you ask!” The man was taken aback by the child’s boldness. Or perhaps, it was a type of protectionism, the man thought. He was still a stranger.

“Fair enough. Then, how were the lights?”

“They were pretty!” The man waited again for her to continue, but as she didn’t, he realized that he would have to keep asking.

“Right,” the man started, “How pretty?”

“Really pretty! They were in all kinds of colors: blue, red, yellow, orange.”

“Purple?”

“Purple! Pink, brown….” The girl began trailing as she said the word ‘brown’ which prompted the man to ask, “You don’t like brown?” The girl shook her head, “It’s a yucky color,” she said.

“Yucky? Wh–” The man stopped himself in the middle of his sentence, and realized why. He laughed. Still precious, he thought.

“After the lights, where did they go? Your parents I mean.”

“They took me to eat!”

“What did you eat?” The girl thought about it for a few moments, and then proudly answered, “I don’t know!”

“You don’t?” The girl shook her head.

“Then, after that?”

“We began walking down the streets where they had this big parade.” The girl stretched her arms out to emphasize how large it was. Must have slept through it, the man thought.

“After that?”

“After that?” The girl repeated, “Then I found you!” The man began piecing together her story in his head. He looked at his watch again, and sighed.

“How long ago was that? I mean, when you found me, from when you last saw your parents.”

“I don’t know!”

“Great. Well, no point just sitting here then.” The man got up and stretched his back and arms. He walked over to the walk way, and peered into the distance, looking both ways for cars, and for people, especially those who look like they need a child.

“That parade,” the man said looking back to the girl, “It’s long over.”

“Uh-huh.”

“You have to go back to your parents.” The man looked up at the sky, stars were glittering, and his breath formed and disappeared like before. It was all so fleeting, he thought.

“Do you know where momma and dad are?”

“Me? No. I don’t.” The man looked to his right, to the end of the streets, seeming to peer off into space. The girl didn’t think much of this notion, and simply stood looking at him, wondering what he was thinking about.

“I don’t know where anyone is. I’m still looking.” The girl tilted her head in confusion to the man.

“Anyway, let’s go. Your parents must be worried sick.” The man stretched his hand out to the girl, who accepted it. They began walking towards the center of the city, where the parade had previously happened. The man was asleep during the event, but knew all too well what it was about, and where it was. It reminded him of his past.

“I wonder,” the man said to the girl, who was skipping along beside him, “How you even found me.”

“What do you mean?”

“You got lost from your parents. Somehow. And ended up wandering all the way to that bakery.” The man stopped himself, and realized something.

“No. The bakery, was bright. And it probably smelt really nice too. It was probably warm as well.” The girl tilted her head in confusion to the man’s ramblings.

“Never mind,” the man added, “Why did you approach me, anyway?”

“Because you seemed cold, mister.” The man looked down at the girl, who was skipping away, looking at the steps in front of her, and seeming to be collecting snowflakes on her hand. A few cars roared by, sending a wave of light to them, and then drifting off into the distance. The air seemed to radiate cold, and the snow didn’t make it any better, the man thought.

“I was cold,” the man said.

“But the light, was warm,” the man said to himself.

“My momma said to never talk to strangers.”

“Rightly so,” the man said with a laugh.

“But,” the girl stopped, looked at her feet, and then up towards the man, “You, you’re just like a kid.”

“Like a kid?” The man asked, giving a raised brow to the child’s thinking.

“Yeah!”

“What makes you say that?” The man was referring to his height, and his other obvious differences to any male child the girl could have meant. It perplexed the man that he would be compared to a child.

“When little Timmy, and little Billy, and little Jimmy are all alone, they look just like you!”

“When they’re all alone?”

“They don’t like playing with other people. I think. I always see them by themselves, and they always have bruises and bandages on. I don’t know why they like playing by themselves.”

“Bruises and bandages?”

“They even have friends! I see the older kids always with them! I don’t get why they always look so sad though.” The girl’s pace slowed.

“Have you tried talking to them?”

“I have! I go up to them all the time! But lately my friends tell me to stop going to them. And even my parents say that I shouldn’t try so hard. I don’t get it!” The man kept his eyes fixed on the streets, and on the city. He needed to find the girl’s parents, but as she continued her story, he just couldn’t help but be interested. Being alone, and not having anything or anyone to comfort them. It all seemed so close, the man thought. It was all so close.

“So? I looked like them, when I was sleeping at the bakery?”

“Yeah!” The girl said with pride.

“I was just a kid, huh?”

“Just like Timmy, and Billy, and Jimmy!”

“Childish.” The man’s voice began trailing off. He laughed. He couldn’t help but laugh.

“Maybe your right,” the man said. The girl gave him a questioning look, but the man simply continued walking, staring forward, and looking out for her parents. He laughed again.

“Say. Don’t you have some kind of paper, or number or something that your parents gave you?”

“Paper?”

“Yeah. Like if you ever get lost, and they tell you to call it or something.” The girl thought about the question, and shook her head. The man sighed. They’ve been walking for quite some time now, and even the girl had stopped skipping. The man’s face was growing red from the chill winds, and he could tell that the stars would soon subside. He only had one place to go now. Her parents were nowhere to be found.

“Hey! Look!” The girl said excitingly. She let go of the man’s hands and began running towards the city square. The man thought that she had saw her parents, but as he followed up, he noticed a big gathering. He checked his watch, and looked up again. A group of people were all huddled  together. It was an unbelievable amount of people, the man thought.

“Hey! Don’t run off like that,” the man said as he caught up with the girl.

“Look! It’s Santa!” The man looked up to see a man dressed in all red, in what was undeniably a Santa suit. There seemed to be a divide in the group of people. There were some like him and the girl, who wore what they had on, jackets and scarves. And there were people who dressed in bright red and green. One of them pushed past the crowd with a cell phone on hand. The man stopped him and asked, “Hey? What’s going on here?”

“Oh this? We’re setting up for the float today.” The worker scuttled off.

“A float?” The girl asked, with bright eyes.

“Yeah. Apparently. Never seen something like this before, though. Must be new. I wonder if–” The man stopped himself. He didn’t want to remind himself. Not now. It wasn’t the time for that. In one strange sense of it, he wanted to move on. The girl looked at him with a questioning look, and then asked, “Hey, mister?”

“Yeah?”

“Are you sad?” The man looked at the girl with wide eyes.

“Why?” The man said with a soft voice.

“Because, you’re eyes are always down. And you walk so slowly, and you always seem to be thinking about something!”

“That makes me sad?”

“Whenever my momma and my dad are sad, they are always like that! They look like the worst kind of people ever!”

“They look like the worst kind of people ever when they are sad?”

“Yeah! Like super scary!” The man laughed, “Super scary?”

“I guess I’m super scary, then,” the man said.

“You’re kind of scary. But I think you’re okay!” The girl said with a bright smile. The man smiled, and laughed again. He’s never had this much joy, he thought. It was a good night, or a good morning, he thought. Truly a time to be alive, and truly a time to let go, he thought.

“I guess I am sad,” the man affirmed, “But not anymore, I think.”

“You moved on?” The man looked at the girl surprisingly.

“Where did you learn that from?” The man asked.

“That’s what my dad says when someone becomes not sad. He says they move on.”

“I think your dad is a smart person,” the man said with a chuckle.

“Yeah. I think I can move on now,” the man said to himself, “I won’t need to find her. There was no way I would find her, I think I knew that.” The girl looked at him curiously, but the man simply waved her off and laughed.

“Let’s find your parents, okay?” The girl nodded her head. The man began walking around the crowd, avoiding the herds of people. However, he quickly found out that his notion was fleeting.

“Mary!” A voice resounded in the distance, catching the girl’s attention.

“Momma!” She answered back. The man looked in the distance, to where a woman and a man appeared, running towards him. Once they arrived, the girl named Mary ran towards her mother, who embraced her in her arms.

“Thank goodness you’re safe!” The mother said in relief.

“I’m sorry. Our daughter caused you so much trouble,” she added.

“No. It’s fine. Things happen. It’s a busy holiday. I understand,” the man answered.

“How can we ever repay you?” The mother asked. The man considered his answer. It took him a few moments, but as he looked up into the fading sky, and looked towards the crowd of people, he knew that there was only one thing he wanted to do. The man grabbed the knife from his pocket, and placed it on the snow covered walk way.

“Call the police.”