Short Fiction: Sweet Wall

White paint is falling off in chunks from the wall. If you felled the wall and layer it flat you could play giant’s checkers, there are so many patches. What’s left under the paint is gray and rough. My 4 year old son keeps licking it, saying it tastes sweet, like those candies he gets on Halloween from neighbors but can’t find in stores.

I worry about lead, but I’ve been too lenient in my raising of him. He just laughs and asks what lead is then goes right back to licking, the scraping of his tongue on the rough gray audible from feet away. I’m beginning to wonder if maybe he is the one causing more patches, seeking more sweet wall after exhausting old spots.

I try getting him candy, even finding that unknown kind. Swillers. An indistinct red wrapper covering oval red candy. But he is uninterested. The fascination with the sweet wall is too great.

Finally one day my son and I scrape all the paint off, although I haven’t told him yet that it’s because I’m going to repaint it. Underneath we find something no one could ever imagine. Strawberry sprouts, beginning to form a thin vine. My son starts licking like crazy. Given the miracle that I have encountered, I start licking too.

I decided not to repaint it. After that day we just sat and watched it grow, until we ended up as roommates in the hospital after my son started getting very sick. Turns out there was lead in the paint. Lots of it.

They are able to treat me, but because my son is so young he slowly dies. Before he finally passes, I bring him the ripe strawberries from the sweet wall. He licks them, sucks the red juices out, and somehow manages to fill a small cup with the tiny black seeds. The last thing he asks of me is to plant them, to carry on the miracle.

Now I sit in my house staring at the sweet wall. The deep-green vines crawl over it so thick now you can’t see the grey underneath. They are even beginning to spread across the floor, entangling the legs of the table and chairs, their innumerable green arms and blood-red berries giving off a sweet odor that tickles my nose. As I sit here, holding the cup of seeds, all I can think about is one of the last things my father said to me before he died.

“In the end, I suppose all things return to the hands of nature.”

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Short Fiction: Canon

I shot a canon.

The bullet rebounded off its thick hull and planted itself in my left shin. The doctor told me my tibia was shattered into 147 pieces. They had to amputate my leg, and for lack of proper funds I now walk around with a rotten-looking wooden leg.

I kept the pieces of my bone and attempted to reassemble them into a tibia-like shape but it turned out looking deformed. You can see the globs of crazy glue, a testament to my desperate attempt to restructure a lost leg. It sits on my mantle and I stare at it sometimes for hours in a Frankenstein-esque fever, wishing I could restore it to its former glory.

The last guy that saw it was a cable repairman. He told me it was an interesting sculpture. I don’t think he knew what it was or made the association when he asked what happened to my leg.

“You look like a pirate, mate!” He said with a laugh that I didn’t return. “Ever shot a canon?”

Dream Phenomenon Part IV

As I close my eyes I hear

Noises of the city near,

But closer than that to me now,

Is a multitude of ancient sounds.

 

Come from deep within my mind

To save me from the harder times

When the troubles of the city life

Makes the memory hard to find.

 

So as I lay me down to sleep,

Rumblings through my window creep

And wake me to the outer light

Pushing out the dark of night.

 

As I wake unto the day

I try to make the feelings stay

Of wonder at nature’s breath so new,

Witnessed in dream’s morning dew.

 

And as that dew rolls away by sun

The light and the dark are one

In the greatest game known to man

Played by Mother Nature’s hand.

Dream Phenomenon Part III

My eyes beat wider with my heart,

The sky is dizzy,

Swirling with stardust,

Each particle a piece in a

Grand light scheme,

Like golden festival gleams dancing in a

Celebration of life and

Death,

The stars both born and gone to rest.

 

Galaxies glow in the distance,

Whirlpools of matter where

Other such beasts

May dwell

Spinning, suspended in

The same battle between

Dark and light,

Dominated by the same fright of

The indescribable universe.

 

I lie before this cosmic lens,

Sure of nothing

but the

Inexpressible vastness,

The growing web of complex

Change

So powerful it could end at

Any moment but

Doesn’t,

As if there is some greater compassion at play.

 

Gaia has humbled me,

Making me feel as a lone hydrogen atom

Drifting in the

Cosmic ocean,

A necessary fragment to a puzzle

So far greater than

I.

 

But as all great marvels of this world,

It passed on.

The galaxies faded back into the

Unknown,

The planets shrunk back into

Nothingness,

The stars dwindled in number,

Retreating into the dark distance,

And myself

I feel slipping too,

Into a soft dreamt up snooze,

Comforted and satisfied as the

Coming dawn fades from view.

Dream Phenomenon Part II

A light begins to filter in

From a source deep within

And I find myself at the base of a hill,

The sweet liquid smell of summer surrounding me,

And the sounds,

few in variety but many in force,

Like nature’s accidental orchestra.

 

And I step, and step again,

Climbing past the

Grass reaching for my calves,

Seeing the trees in halves,

One half

Shooting towards the earth,

The other,

Reaching for the sky,

Seeming to wave goodbye as I pass,

Me also reaching for the peak,

The sky.

 

Dots of light blink in the

Black Space in

All

Directions.

Fireflies, luminescent energy

Fending off the darkness

As if to remind us that

We are safe,

Filling the role that the

Lifeless

Harrowing streetlights

Are manufactured to fill on

Moonless backstreet nights.

 

Now I see the head of the hill,

The space

My feet were meant to fill, and finally

The world comes into view with

So much old and

So much new.

 

A city glows below,

Grossly mirroring a spectacle above,

Space magnified by some cosmic trick,

As If I could reach it with a simple stick.

 

Through the path of trees I see

Planets looking back at me

Stars, their patterned cousins, free

To fill the space in between.

 

Between my breasts how my heart beats,

Breaking down in awe before this treat,

A phenomenon above the lawn,

Here I choose to take my seat.

Short Fiction: Appearances

My food was getting cold. I toyed with the macaroni on my plate, looking back and forth between it and the man who sat a few tables away with his back facing me. He wore a black suit that hung a bit loose over his already bulbous frame. The shine on his shoes gave me the impression that he was a man of wealth, like me. However, I do not flaunt my fortune, an inheritance which I let sit in a savings account, using only the modest amount needed for simple living. Noticing his attire caused me to reflect on my own, a weathered T-shirt with holes at the shoulders and a pair of jeans crusting over with several days wear.

I eat at this buffet once a week, despite the fact that I can afford fine dining. Life feels more genuine without extravagances. Besides, I like the food and people here better. Gina, the woman who works the register, has come to know me well. I enjoy the routine conversations we have each time I come, although they are always short and without substance.

“Gettin’ tired of this food?” I hadn’t noticed Gina approaching. She eyed my uneaten dinner as she stood with her hand resting on her hip over a checkered red dress.

I smiled, “No. Guess I just wasn’t as hungry as I thought.”

“You want some more water?” I realized my glass was empty.

“Sure.”

She took my cup and walked off. I followed her with my eyes until she passed the man in the suit, and I noticed him watching her as well. As soon as her back was to him, I saw him slip a piece of chicken into the right pocket of his suit jacket then rise up to refill his plate. I glanced at his face as he walked back to his table. He was clean-shaven and wore an air of confidence, obviously unaware that anyone had noticed his odd behavior.

Gina slipped as she returned, spilling half the glass of water then quickly setting it on the edge of my table. She held up a finger in exasperation before running back towards the register where some customers waited. I observed the half empty cup of rocking water before turning my attention back to the man. Again as she passed him I watched him place another piece of chicken into his suit, this time in the breast pocket.

I was curious as to why a man apparently well off would be stealing extra chicken from a cheap buffet. Then I realized it was just as strange that he was even eating at such a restaurant in the first place.

Taking a bite of food reaffirmed my lack of interest in eating. I glanced out the window at the shadows growing like weeds in the jungle of night as the last red glow of the sun faded. My attention was pulled back to the man as I heard the legs of his chair moving against the linoleum floor. He began a slow walk to the front counter, and I noticed all of his pockets were bulging, presumably with chicken he had been stashing prior to me observing.

I could hear Gina give him the total, $6.95.

“I thought the buffet was $3.99,” his voice was quieter than you would expect given his size. “That’s what it says on the window.”

“That’s for the lunch buffet. I’m sorry, it says it under the price on the window.” This wasn’t the first time I’d watched this exact misunderstanding unfold.

“Oh.” He turned and glanced at the window and I saw a somewhat anxious expression on his face. He pulled out his wallet, glanced inside and scratched his head before saying, “I think I must have left my credit card out in the car. Is it fine if I run and grab it?”

“Sure,” Gina said.

The man turned and exited the restaurant. I watched out the large window as he walked down the illuminated street, thrown into half shadow. He glanced over his shoulder after a few moments and then hastened his stride. I realized he wasn’t coming back, and that there likely was no car with a credit card in it. I left my cold plate of food and went to the counter, pulling a ten and a five out of my wallet and setting it in front of Gina.

“What’s this for?” She asked.

“My dinner and his.” I jerked my head in the direction of the door. “You can keep the change.” I didn’t wait for a response before swiftly turning and stepping out the door. Having nowhere to be, I looked the direction the suited man had gone and with a gaze at the starless sky began down the shadowy sidewalk.

Dream Phenomenon Part 1

I took a very strange and powerfully vivid dream that I had some time ago and arranged it into a poem/prose piece that is divided into 4 separate parts. Here is the first:

As I close my eyes I hear

Noises of the city near,

 

Shadows passing under lights

Quiet cars in grounded flight

Voices of the myriad of

Souls in the electric night.

 

Passengers on the great highways

Tearing through nature’s alleyways

Black plumes from their pipes,

A trail of stripes that cuts the sky.

 

The knife edge scream of a train

halting in its chosen lane,

an oily sea of sand and steel,

Spotlight in the pouring rain.

 

Workers headed back to home

Content to settle by their phone

In a man-made paradise

Built with sources used on loan

 

Amidst the sounds of our made up world

I search for something from before

A cricket or a chirping bird

trees bending that the wind has stirred.

 

A horn, instead, enters my head

Crawling up from a car to my bed

And I’m left yearning dreamily

For a more natural place to be.

 

As I fade from consciousness and

Hear these sounds less and less

My Body drifts further away

For me to find in tomorrow’s day.

Short Fiction: Memory

I found something nailed on the top of my doorframe this morning. A mid-shin length blue sock, hanging down as if to remind me of something. I’m almost positive it is not my sock. I didn’t have company last night. I sat alone in my dim living room, drinking edgy, cheap whiskey and occasionally popping a small square tranquilizer into my mouth. I was chewing them. The bottle says, “Swallow one pill with water every 4-6 hours as needed.”

Needless to say, I was rather relaxed. I’m not sure how many episodes of… I’m not sure what I watched on TV. Maybe I was watching a movie. In any case, I don’t remember nailing a sock in my doorway. Or where the sock itself came from, for that matter.

My phone is ringing. I don’t recognize the number.

“Hello?”

“You still forgot.”

“Forgot what?”

Click.

Leap

You ask me for my

Time,

But I don’t own it,

For I do not

Own my

Self.

 

I lost it,

Dropped in a

Wastebasket

Among onions and

Used tissue,

Unable to find it as the

Golden sun turned

Gray

Behind clouds and

Disorientation

Swept me with harsh bristles into a

Cold metal dustpan,

A place I

Belonged.

 

Now I wander a

Desolate dump,

Listening for the

Thump

Of my own heart,

Looking for the

Smile

Of my absent identity,

But it blends in as

A chameleon.

 

Sometimes I scale a

Garbage heap,

Leaping over rotting fruit carcasses

And thrown away

Memories,

And stand upon a cliff of

Waste.

 

From here it

Taunts me,

Pokes out a toe, a

Quivering shadow,

But I know if I run down after it,

It will disappear.

 

The only way to catch

My haunting

Creep,

Would be a faithful

Leap.

Our Blood is Red, White and Blue

Raven Symone, the cute little girl from “The Cosby Show” and the former teenage star in “That’s So Raven,” sent Oprah into freak-out mode during their interview a week ago over a statement Symone made regarding race and identity. Oprah warned Symone that she was about to start a fire on Twitter, and she was right. Symone became a major topic of ridicule in the media, mostly via Twitter, for saying that she identifies herself as American, rather than African-American.

“I don’t know where my roots go to. I don’t know how far back they go. … I don’t know what country in Africa I’m from, but I do know that my roots are in Louisiana,” said Symone. “I’m an American, and that’s a colorless person, because we’re all people.”

Angry tweets began to run rampant as people condemned her for running away from her blackness and being afraid to identify with reality.

This bogus backlash is a result of people misinterpreting her intentions, and proves the reality of race perpetuation and ornery over-identification with physical differences that is so common in our society.

Symone was not denying the fact that she has the skin color and hair-grade of a black woman. In fact, she acknowledged these personal attributes herself, but went on to say that she connects with all types of people and cultures. In other words, she meant that she is tired of labels that separate humans into categories, when we should just accept everyone for who and what they are.

A human being is a human being, and we should love all human beings regardless of what they look like. Symone doesn’t know her roots, other than that she was born and raised in America. She speaks American English and is a part of American culture, and so she simply considers herself an ingredient of the massive melting pot that is our nation. She accepts that America is meant to represent all colors and beliefs.

To not do this would, in a sense, further perpetuate racism in the same way that much of our society does. It turns Blacks, Asians and all other categorized races into people that aren’t as American as everyone else, as if they are a different breed of American, even if their family has been here for generations.

I can trace my ancestry back to several European nations but I don’t identify myself as European-American, and I don’t ever use the term Caucasian unless I am specifically asked on a formal document. I am American, and I, like Symone, simply want to see humans as humans. In the end, whether you believe in the idea that we are all descended from Adam and Eve or that we evolved over time from primates, the same blood runs through all of our veins.

Roxanne Jones wrote an article for CNN about Symone, filled with an air of sympathy and pity. She believes that Symone is merely going through a phase of trying to fit in.

According to Jones, Symone is “seemingly hoping that no one acknowledges her beautiful brown skin and the history written all over her face.”

She denounces her for “trying to be ‘colorless’ when there’s no way to look at someone without noticing appearance. And that includes color.”

But Symone isn’t afraid of her color. She doesn’t want to hide from the hues of her genetics. Rather, she wants those facts to stop being the calling card of her identity. She wants people to look at her and see a beautiful person, no matter the color. She wants to stop being the victim of connotation.

Her statement was a modern off-hand embodiment of the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. He wanted color to be of lesser importance, for those of white and black backgrounds to hold hands in an act of uplifting grace. He wanted skin to no longer embody character and propagate judgment.

Stop letting it create a divide, separating us from the truth that we are all brothers and sisters at the end of the day. Stop letting color be the barrier that even those who feel that they are the victims of racism preserve.

Hold on to culture, hold on to roots, but stop letting those things become the butter to this bread full of fissures. Black history is American history, and to separate those things is to separate the people.

Morgan Freeman once stated that an important step to letting racism dissolve is to stop talking about it.

“I’m going to stop calling you a white man, and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man,” he said.

He meant the same thing that Symone did, that we have to look past the color and understand that it is nothing but a pigment. What lies underneath and within is independent.

Once we can understand and openly embrace that fact as a culture and society, then and only then will King’s dream come true. Then and only then will we be able to truly sit side by side at the table of brotherhood.