Purple's Platitudes

nothing but words …

of lists and the old mare’s blanket

05 April 2014

 

 

Oh yeah, I could give you a list, a list a country mile long, a list like grandma crocheting a potholder, which ended up being a blanket for the old mare, out in the barn. Yeah, that kind of a list. A list I have rehearsed and rehashed, memorized, and added to over and over again. A list that defines everything that ever went wrong, is wrong, and will always be wrong about me, about my life, about the world I inhabit. Yeah, exactly, one of those kinds of lists!

But you know what? There is another list, a much shorter, simpler list. It simply says, “Yes, I will love you again.” For now, both lists coexist and life is all about choosing which list I will check off, right now, in this moment. And the next … There will always be things I could add to the longer list. That’s the list of overthinking, of not doing anything. I may never succeed in always choosing the shorter list, the To Do list, but the horse doesn’t need another blanket. Yeah, I choose to love you again, to live … to live.

 

 

written for Kellie Elmore’s FWF

 

 

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5 April, 2014 Posted by | Fiction | , | Leave a comment

after the darkness

31 March 2014

 

 

I was forbidden to speak. I could almost accept that, but the Old One had also forbidden anyone to speak to me, which was much harder to accept.  I am now known as She Who Returned, never spoken directly to, but I’ve grown accustomed to being spoken of, usually when I am actually within earshot, or worse, directly among those who are talking about me as if I wasn’t even there.

 

The Old One was counting marks on his staff, standing apart, yet always watching it seemed. I already knew tonight would be the ritual of the Three Trees. This was my first year to bleed and all of us who did, knew when the ritual would be. No one ever spoke of it though, at least not that I ever remembered hearing. Somehow, everyone just knew when it would be, and those of age would gather and wait for the Old One. The younger all knew they were not allowed and seemed to embrace the Wandering, most without grumbling or complaining, although some needed extra coaxing sometimes.

 

The Old One eyed me, scowling I thought, but he merely made some noise and quickly averted his gaze. I knew during the ritual everyone would become more enlightened to those around them. The light from the Three Trees would show us things we had never even imagined. Like the Old One’s silver gray hair which hung long and straight, almost down to his waist, or the almost terrifying knowledge of seeing faces and expressions in that powerful glowing light from the Three Trees burning.

 

I listened to whispers, busy hands, shuffling feet, and other noises. It was so frustrating, so sad for me to keep silent. I had returned! I knew something more than they had ever imagined or experienced and yet, I was not allowed to speak. Sometimes I was not afraid of the Wandering, even though we all knew someone who had wandered and never come back again. It was different for me. I didn’t go into the Wandering and come back, I went beyond, some place real. Not real like in the Wandering sometimes, but real, I don’t know how to explain it or even describe it. It was like here, only it wasn’t always like here. It was like the Three Trees, only more often, not just during the bleeding. I don’t know, I have no words.

 

The Old One took me aside, when I first returned, listened as I told him everything I could, asked questions, and then forbade me of ever speaking of it again with anyone. Then, he marched me back to everyone and changed my name and pronounced the judgment and prohibition – no one was to ever speak to me again. No one ever disobeyed the Old One. I don’t know if anyone ever even thought of the possibility. But I had, since I had returned. Tonight, during the burning of the Three Trees, I would break my silence, not knowing what might happen to me if I did. I knew after the darkness, I simply could not remain silent any longer.

 

 

 

 

31 March, 2014 Posted by | Fiction | , | Leave a comment

5th September 1682

28 March 2014

 

 

September 5th, 1682

 

My beloved Mary,

 

It has been a dreadful, terrifying journey, full of evil portents and bad omens. Your letter reached me, my love, just before we sailed from Sicily and I have read it daily, and often nightly before I turn in.

 

We sailed up the eastern coast of Italy, but the gods turned against us, or so the unlearned crew believed. I tolerate their ignorance and try to keep a civil tongue, but they are a superstitious lot. I must admit though, these last two weeks have been quite trying. Near Naples, we lost fair sailing. Contrary winds and turbulent waters soon proved their origins as we encountered ten days of monstrous fire and brimstone, dense black smoke which fouled our vision and our lungs and blotted out the sun. A constant beastly roaring accompanied us day and night. The sailors claimed it was an angry Jove and many, in secret of course, offered all manner of appeasement in deep dark corners of the ship, away from prying eyes and ears.

 

As you may or may not have heard, it was just Vesuvius rearing its temperamental head once again. I would have liked to have seen it erupting, but alas, we were enshrouded in darkness and left to our imaginations.

 

I have heard about the trial and execution, a ghastly affair to be sure. It would seem the crew I sail with are not the only ones who cower in their superstitions and act accordingly. Are we really that naïve to accuse,, try, and hang three young women for witchcraft? Are we not enlightened enough to see beyond such fear and prejudice? Well, my love, on to last night’s vision.

This morning finds me cautious and watchful, almost fearful. Last evening I finally saw it clearly. I have spoken of it many times before, my comet. It appeared, exactly as I had predicted it would, although it is a good thing I spoke so little of it to these pagan minds. It was stunning, beautiful beyond belief as it slowly passed overhead in all its glory. The men panicked and it was all the Captain could do to maintain any control or order over them. At one point, a few even suggested putting me off the ship as if I was somehow responsible for this omen of ill. The Captain had me confined to quarters, locked in, with an armed guard at my door, a prudent, if not unconscionable precaution perhaps.

 

Do not worry my dearest, no harm has come to me and despite the fear the events of this journey have provoked, we have had only fair skies and favorable winds since, easing the men’s dispositions considerably. Through my round cabin window I can see a brilliant sunset, golden against the clouds and waves, so I am going topside for some air. It should be safe enough, no more comets for approximately 74 years if my calculations are correct!

 

I hope to be home with you in Islington before September’s end.

 

Your loving,

Edmund

 

 

(written for Kellie Elmore’s FWF)

You find yourself in the lower level of an old ship. A calendar on the wall says  1682. There is a small window, and the view is nothing but open sea and a setting sun. There is a staircase and you can see daylight at the top…

28 March, 2014 Posted by | Fiction | , | Leave a comment

she was there

08 March 2014

 

 

“Is that it?” Susanne asked incredulously and I nodded silently. From the safety of the car it looked innocent enough, a dilapidated, long since forgotten old house.

 

The yard, if you could call it that, was still peppered with more small boulders and rocky outcroppings than grass. Fallen branches littered the ground, the broken bones of two large trees flanking the house to the front and side. They were dead years ago, bare, leafless, and yet somehow still possessing that sinisterness they always had before.

 

Surprisingly, what grass was still there was green, but not over grown. It had never seemed to grow, even back then.

 

“Do you want to get out and look around?” Susanne asked tentatively, knowing all that I had shared with her about this house, the memories and nightmares I had never escaped from, even after twenty years. This time, I sat silently and didn’t answer her. She touched my arm gently, tenderly, and I shrugged. It was the only answer I could muster at the moment.

 

Everything about the house seemed the same, although time had taken its toll on it. The roof was curling upwards in places, the outside was pockmarked, pieces hanging off or simply missing. The cement front steps leading up to the porch were eroding, while a scattered few potted plants were thriving on both the porch and the balcony directly above it.

 

Most of the windows were still intact, even curtained, all except that one.

 

It had been my room.

 

Susanne opened her door quickly.

 

“What are you doing?” I demanded, more abruptly than I intended.

 

“I want to see if it’s open is all, just to peek inside.”

 

I knew telling her no was pointless, she was far too strong-willed, so reluctantly, I started to follow her.

 

“You sure honey?” she asked without any hint of teasing or challenge. “You don’t have to go with me you know.”

 

Again, words would not come out and I shrugged and nodded simultaneously, probably trying to convince myself more than her.

 

At first, when I initially shared with her my memories of those final days in that house, she playfully chided me, teasing mercilessly. But in time, when the nightmares became something I shared more intimately with her, she became understanding, supportive, even though she remained a skeptic at heart. There were too many unexplained happenings to dismiss, occurrences which she witnessed – it’s always difficult to argue with personal experience.

 

Standing on the front porch she glanced at my face, waited for some sign, permission to proceed perhaps. I gave none, but she reached for the front door and …

 

“That’s all I really remember,” I said, my voice trailing off. The officers looked at one another, then me. I kept expecting the guys in the white coats to come through the door of the interrogation room.

 

“Tell us one more time about the little girl you saw in the window upstairs,” one of them demanded, his voice hardly disguising his suspicious disbelief.

 

I suddenly remembered. Everything happened so fast, but I ran, terrified, back to the car, jumped in, locked the doors, started the car, threw it into reverse, and floored it.

 

She was there, peering out my bedroom window, the eyes that stared at me, that face that haunted my troubled sleep, that smile, usually the last detail I remembered before I woke up screaming. She was there! Maybe I am going crazy, maybe I have always been slightly mad, but I know one indisputable fact. She was there and now Susanne is not.

 

 

(written for Kellie Elmore’s FWF)

 

 

8 March, 2014 Posted by | Fiction | , , | Leave a comment

leading me on

01 March 2014

 

 

“What the …” I muttered, not finishing the thought out loud.

 

It was night, but the fuzzy glow of a few streetlights revealed enough for me to tell I had no idea where I was. A sidewalk, on an unknown street, in a neighborhood I did not recognize.

 

I shivered slightly. It was snowing, softly, in big fluffy flakes that fell on my face and hands. I heard footsteps, behind me, casually walking away.

 

“Hey, excuse me,” I shouted, just loud enough for the stranger to hear.

 

He stopped and turned, but neither spoke, nor moved.

 

“I was just wondering sir, if you could possibly help me. I seem to be lost.”

 

I heard him shuffle back towards me, accompanied by an all too familiar sound. You see, even though I could not make any sense of where I was, or how I got here, I knew that back and forth tap tapping sound as intimately as he probably did. It was then I laughed, realizing he and I were both blind, the blind leading the blind.

 

(written for Kellie Elmore’s FWF prompt)

 

 

1 March, 2014 Posted by | Fiction | , | Leave a comment

Doctor’s office decorum

06 January 2014

 

‘Doctor’s office decorum’

There is always that woman, the one with 2.5 kids, who manages to continuously text with one hand while intently reading a tattered, six-month old copy of Good Housekeeping through gawdy Sophia Loren sunglasses, while fidgeting nonchalantly (as if no one notices her cross and uncross her legs forty-seven times.)

Or the gentleman in the obviously tailored suit who sighs loudly and checks his watch precisely every three pages of Car & Driver, which he is reading upside down incidentally, but of course, no one notices that until he clears his throat in an over-exaggerated manner which he apparently hopes the receptionist will notice, but she’s too busy.

Or the lady, and I use that term very loosely, who has managed to answer seventeen cell phone calls in less than ten minutes, all of whom are treated to an insanely loud diatribe featuring her latest acquired gossip, or worse, intimate details of her most recent personal encounter with a member of the opposite sex. And I am not sure which is worse, her slathered on lipstick smile as she notices that others may just have overheard her, or her laugh that would make even Fran Drescher cringe.

And then there is the twelve (almost sixteen) year old girl who is slumped down in her chair, cell phone-less, impatient, and looking like she may have raided her laundry basket to enhance her disheveled look, to appear more pathetic, sicker … like it is going to kill her if she has to wait even five more minutes. After all, she has to get back to school. Right?

Oh, and there is always someone, usually sitting closer to the corner with one available seat to his right, even though there are eleven people standing and leaning against the wall or pacing back and forth. Now, he actually looks sick.Iin fact, he is the one you look at and wonder if perhaps he has died, right there in the waiting room. His eyes are closed and no one is really sure he is even breathing, but no one bothers to check either.

And me? Well, to be honest, I feel perfectly fine. I don’t even have an appointment – I am just  taking my lunch break. Even doctors need to eat sometimes you know.

6 January, 2014 Posted by | Fiction | | Leave a comment

The Color of Surrender

22 September 2013

The Color of Surrender

 

I was almost eighteen, well I would have been in fourteen more months. My older brother was eighteen and once I got used to answering to Marshall instead of Michael, pretending to be him wasn’t all that crazy. It got me into the Marines.

If I had thought about it, I might have realized that lying about my age, just to get into the Marines, to run off and fight and try to be a hero was never really going to impress Cheryl Anne like I hoped, but, like many things in life, we find things out too late.

It wasn’t one of my brightest ideas.

Vietnam was a never-ending nightmare, a moment by moment ordeal. The horrors I witnessed were so surreal, unimaginable, perhaps even indescribable, at least if you wanted it to sound believable to someone who had never lived through it.

I was smaller than most of the other guys in my outfit. Unfortunately, that landed me the assignment of tunnel rat. I was the one that got lowered down into those dank, dark, death traps after we had dropped a couple of grenades down the hole. My job was to go in with just my sidearm and seek out and kill anyone still alive.

Some tunnels were nothing more than a tight crawl space. Others, a man could stand up in and walk through. Sometimes there were caches, storage rooms, or living quarters. I even found oddly abandoned command centers, their oil lamps still burning.

I learned quickly how clever and resourceful the enemy could be. They seemed to invent new ways to inflict pain and death on anyone whose judgment could be momentarily colored by distraction. You learned to always pay attention, to never let your guard down. Down there, your life depended on it.

There were Booby traps everywhere, bomb triggers, water traps, and landslides that could be set off by crawling into a certain tunnel, or past a specific point. You just never knew. These were only some of the goodies I ran into and learned to recognize, even in near total darkness.

She was only a girl, I thought, maybe ten years old at the most. Straight, long dark hair and dark eyes, sitting in that room, all alone, in the dark.

I found and shot one VietCong. I heard him breathing ahead of me as I inched forward down a freshly dug side tunnel. I emptied a full 15-shot clip into the darkness and hit him twice in the back.

Above ground, a mortar shell hit and caused the tunnel to collapse behind me, blocking my route back to the main tunnel. The tunnel was only dug out to allow one person to crawl through it, so I had to dismember the dead soldier in order to crawl past him and continue on. I guess I panicked a little, but I did what I had to do. I was a Marine after all. We did whatever had to be done.

The room was a surprise. An earthen door in the tunnel wall collapsed inward and I fell into darkness. I tumbled head-first onto the floor, and landed hard enough to knock the wind out of me. I knew better than to start firing randomly into the darkness, but I was terrified, trying to hold my breath, slow my pulse, and listen for anything sound besides the rapid beating of my heart. I heard nothing, no telltale noise, no movement in the darkness.

"Please don’t hurt me," a child’s voice whimpered.

My instincts failed me at the sound of her voice. I should have fired first and asked questions later as they say. But, I didn’t. My ears told me where she was even though I could not see her.

"Are you alone?" I growled, trying to sound as threatening as possible.

"Yes."

I reached into my front shirt pocket and flicked my lighter on. In the orangish glow I saw her sitting there, in an ankle-length, clean white dress, oddly out of place. I saw nothing else in the room and relaxed a little. She was only about three feet in front of where I had landed.

The light flickered across her face, illuminating her eyes, a solemn little girl’s face. So innocent, so young, oh so young.

Suddenly, I focused in on her hands and I saw what she held in each. I watched in horror as she pulled the pins on the two grenades and whispered, "I surrender." Her smile was the last thing I ever saw.

22 September, 2013 Posted by | Fiction | , | Leave a comment

You hear music

25 April 2004 

 

 

You Hear Music

 

            It was the strangest comment I think I’ve ever heard, and yet, it was one of those things that stays with you for the rest of your life. I was sitting on the bench reading the morning newspaper, waiting for the 8:20 express. The last bus had managed to clear out the corner since most people have to be to work earlier than I do. In fact, I was the only person left after the last pickup. That suited me just fine, because I enjoyed the solitude. There’s something about being able to quietly enjoy the hustle and bustle of the city’s sounds without having to listen to the endless chatter of everyone else around you. It’s almost like people have to say something to fill some void, like silence is a demon kept at bay by idle chit chat. Personally, I enjoy just listening. I don’t feel the overwhelming need to add in my two cents worth, to offer a personal commentary on every subject.

I paused in my reading, noticing the unorchestrated cacophony of the city. Traffic blasted its way through crowded streets with grunts, screeching horns punctuating the emotional impatience of many, and the whirring mechanical chorus of sounds that morphed into a rhythmic masterpiece of sound. People seemed to be talking everywhere, like myna birds proudly mimicking every sound they heard. It was difficult to grasp more than tidbits of any conversation, a word or two here, a phrase there, perhaps an entire exclamation if it was forceful and loud enough to carry above all the others. Mixed into this symphony were other sounds, pigeons and seagulls fluttering and calling, thousands of footsteps marching to work, the distinct call of the hawker, proclaiming the worthy headlines, trying to sell his papers, the winded greeting of a passing jogger – funny I don’t remember even looking up.

            I had just turned the page and crisply shook it out when I felt someone sit down on the bench beside me. I held my breath waiting for the usual banter of greeting and idle conversation to begin, but there wasn’t any. That suited me just fine; someone who preferred to remain silent unless invited was a rare commodity these days. I went back to scanning the bold headlines, looking for something worth investigating further.

             “You hear music…,” he said calmly, quietly. A statement, yet somehow a question requiring an answer.

             I turned one page down to glance over at this stranger who apparently was talking to me. He was smiling, warmly, but he wasn’t looking at me at all. Even when I made it somewhat obvious that I was giving him my attention, in case there was to be further interaction between us, he stared off into the distance. I quickly gave him an once-over, mentally evaluated him and filed away the gathered information.

            He was older, older than me anyway, a little gray beginning to show just above his ears. His face was clean-shaven, but rough, marked with pits and unattractive scars. His nose was crooked, like a boxer’s, turned to one side slightly and too broad, flattened. He wore tiny black-rimmed glasses that he allowed to slide down his nose. His clothes were plain, nondescript, a pair of blue jeans, a dark colored T-shirt underneath a Tartan patterned flannel shirt, and tan work boots, laces undone. I immediately distanced myself from this character, judging him and properly placing myself on a pedestal far above him. I returned to my paper without even acknowledging him in any way.

             “You hear music…,” he repeated quietly.

             With as much annoyance as I could possibly communicate, I crumpled the paper into my lap.

             “Excuse me?” I responded, trying to convey my irritation.

            “Did you say something to me?”

             He never turned to look at me. He didn’t even attempt to respond to my question. He simply stood up and slowly began to walk away.

             “Fine! Thanks for the interruption,” I yelled after his retreating figure.

             I tried to mumble something derogatory, but found my thoughts uncooperative. Even as he disappeared out of sight and I returned to the paper, that single sentence began to worm its way inside my head. I found myself thinking about what he had said, and I couldn’t concentrate on anything as mundane as the daily news.

             “You hear music… “.

             That was all he said. Apparently, it wasn’t a question; he didn’t offer an explanation, no long-winded exposition on the meaning of life or the state of politics or anything.

             Just that one simple statement, “You hear music…”.

             What did he mean? Perhaps this stranger knew I listened to the world around me, paid attention to the sounds of the moment. Maybe he heard them too, and his inner tuning fork reverberated with mine?

            The bus pulled up, slowed down and whooshed to a stop. The door folded and opened with just a hint of the powerful air hydraulics that controlled it. People scrambled to exit, scattering in all directions. I sat, patiently waiting for those trying to get off the bus before I stood up, stepped up and in. Dropping my tokens in the slot, I listened as the driver pushed the handle that opened the slot and watched as the money disappeared. It was a funny sound, like a spring being stretched and released, mixed with the familiar jangling of coins… yes, I thought, I hear music.

            The bus lurched forward before I found a seat, and I noticed people staring at me. Everywhere people talked, about nothing and everything.

 Yes, I hear music.

             I found an empty seat next to a woman and sat down. She was dressed in a formal navy business suit, brunette hair neatly pulled back and restrained, briefcase open as she typed on a laptop computer. Without even skipping a keystroke she smiled at me and said, “Good morning.” I nodded and tried to smile back, but she was already absorbed back into her work. Very professional, I thought to myself.

 “You hear music…”

             I suddenly realized that I was listening, observing, breathing more deeply, and smelling things I had never bothered to notice before. I looked around, noticed people, what they wore, what they looked like, listened to what they were saying, observed the silent ones who preferred not to speak, yet still spoke volumes.

            I gazed out the smeared bus windows at the city as it zipped past, like little frames of a movie. Perhaps, the stranger was right? Perhaps he noticed something about me that I hadn’t even allowed myself to notice fully? With that one statement, he had reawakened in me something about life I had almost allowed to slip away, to get smothered in the busyness of now.

 “You hear music…”

 “Yes, my strange friend,” I thought out loud, “because of your timely reminder, I do, I certainly do.”

20 September, 2009 Posted by | Fiction | | Leave a comment

Billie & Brindle Chapter 1

Billie & Brindle Chapter 1

 “So, do you want to see? I dare you to come down with me?”

             Billie hesitated, fidgeting awkwardly, trying to think fast and make up his mind. He didn’t want Stephanie to think he was afraid, but the truth was, he was.

 “Well…?” she asked impatiently, folding her arms across her chest and tapping her foot and giving him one of those “truth or dare” looks she was so good at delivering.

 “Okay,” Billie managed to say, although he was certain she could detect his fear, just like Bernie, Mr. Fenderson’s Saint Bernard, whenever he tried to hurry past him on his way home.

             Stephanie smiled. Without even saying a word, she turned and descended the three steps to the cellar door. It was taller than either of them, with black cast iron hinges and a blacker push-button handle. Billie noticed that much of the door itself was coated with a thick green and brown moss, but nothing grew around the door or on the stone steps leading down. Billie was already dreading his decision.

 “So, what’s under your house that’s so exciting?” Billie asked, trying to sound as uninterested as possible.

             Stephanie stopped and smiled mischievously back at him. “You’ll see!”

             She reached for the handle with both hands and squeezed. A loud click sounded and Billie gasped, trying to cover it up with a weak cough. Stephanie leaned against the heavy wooden door and began to push. The scraping of wood over stone and dirt seemed much louder than Billie expected. The effect of this was not lost on his face, but it was too late to turn back now. Stephanie would never let him live it down if he didn’t go in now.

            Stephanie managed to only push the door open a little ways. Billie secretly hoped that the opening wasn’t large enough for them to squeeze through, but Stephanie easily wiggled through. Billie paused, just long enough to get reprimanded by her taunts from inside before he took a deep breath, crushed himself against the mossy door,  and forced his way through.

            Frightened by the total darkness, he reached with hands he couldn’t see but found nothing within his reach. It was cooler in there and strange scents overwhelmed his nostrils. The smell of dirt and mud and worms and things he couldn’t even imagine. Billie shivered.

            He was just about to ask Stephanie where she was, when he felt a light tickle on his arm. Quickly drawing both arms to his sides, he barely stifled a squeaky protest, as he heard a girlish laugh just ahead of him and to his right. Suddenly Stephanie flicked on her flashlight, which illuminated her face with an eerie reddish glow.

 “Very funny, Steph” Billie mumbled.

“I thought so,” she replied laughing, “made you jump didn’t it?”

             Billie tried to appear irritated, but he was inwardly thinking he shouldn’t be such a scaredy-cat. If Stephanie wasn’t afraid to explore down here under her house, why should he be frightened? After all, he tried to tell himself, she’s a girl!

 “So, we’re here,” Billie exclaimed, “what’s so amazing that I just had to see it?”

             Stephanie’s face grew serious and pointing with her flashlight, she directed his attention back towards the darkest, farthest corner. Billie strained to see what was back there, but the flashlight beam barely reached more than a few feet in front of them.

 “What?” Billie asked, perhaps just a little bit more impatiently than he meant. “I don’t see anything back there.”

 “Come on, I’ll show you, if you’re sure you want to really see?”

             She let the flashlight play across the floor just ahead and Billie noticed two wooden planks formed a makeshift walkway through a wet, muddy mess on either side. Stephanie warned him to be careful and stay on the path, but, unfortunately, she forgot to mention the low ceiling beams, which Billie painfully discovered all on his own. Neither of them could avoid the dense spider webs that crisscrossed the cellar and Billie found some small satisfaction in the fact that these seemed to bother Stephanie immensely.

            Billie followed Stephanie closely, too closely in fact, because when she stopped he clumsily bumped into her. Billie noticed one tiny window but it was too high and too coated with mud and gunk to allow anything more than a sliver of light through. His eyes had begun to adjust to the darkness and Billie could see a small trunk nestled in the corner against the wall just ahead of them. It looked like one of those treasure chests he’d seen in pirate movies, complete with a dirty brass padlock too.

 “Is that what this is all about?” Billie asked incredulously. “Doesn’t look like much to me.”

 “Sshh!” Stephanie commanded.

             Billie jabbered on ignoring her completely. “Here I thought there was going to be something really cool to see, some big secret, but …”

 “I said be quiet Billie!” and Stephanie clicked off the flashlight.

             The sudden darkness and the urgency in her voice made Billie uneasy. He whispered “Why?” only to be shushed again.

            For what seemed like forever they stood there. Neither of them spoke. Billie wondered what Stephanie was waiting for or listening to in the darkness. He shifted his weight from foot to foot, willing himself to keep breathing normally, well, as normally as he could under the circumstances. He stared into the dim darkness around them, imagining all sorts of shapes and hearing more than just his breathing. He wished Stephanie would turn the flashlight back on again or say something. Billie glanced back, towards the cellar door, but it seemed so far away.

            Stephanie’s piercing scream caught him off guard and Billie panicked and began to run. He hit something hard and fell backwards, landing in stinking mud and gross stagnant water. He yelled for Stephanie, but she didn’t answer. He tried again, nothing.

 “Okay, Steph, this isn’t funny anymore,” he practically bawled. “Where are you? Turn the flashlight back on!”

 Still no response.

 “Steph?” It was a question, with more than just a little pleading in his voice.

Billie held his breath and tried to listen, but the blood pounding in his ears only sounded louder. He heard nothing. Maybe something had happened to Stephanie, maybe she was hurt, maybe even unconscious? Maybe that’s why she wasn’t answering him.

 “Stephanie, please answer me, please!” Billie whimpered, unsure of what to do. He was afraid to move, but afraid not to as well. Maybe he should try to find the way out and go get help, but he had no idea which way was out.

 “Help! Can anybody hear me?” Billie hollered.

             He felt around, trying to find the wooden planks that marked the path back to the cellar door, but to his surprise, he felt something soft, almost prickly, almost like grass? Grasping it in his fingers he tugged and came away with just that, a handful of grass.

“What the … ?” he stammered, “that’s weird. Grass growing down here in all this mud and … “

 “Help! Somebody help us… help!” Billie yelled.

             Suddenly even more afraid, Billie forced himself to crawl forward on his hands and knees, feeling his way through the darkness.

 “Help! Somebody help us… help!” Billie yelled even more loudly again.

             The terror was building inside of him but he knew he had to find the cellar door and get out, especially if something had happened to Stephanie.

So he stood up and carefully scuffled forward, one and two steps at a time. He kept stumbling along, hoping he was heading in the right direction but in the darkness he didn’t know anymore. He wondered why the floor seemed so uneven and different, softer, almost as if he was walking across dirt or mud, sure, he was just off the planks and off the path and …

19 September, 2009 Posted by | Fiction | | Leave a comment