Mercy

At fifteen, I was a witness.

An enormous steel door cranked open in the distance and launched his cries into the stale, cold air. His heavy steps clamored on the slate pavers and I heard hesitation in the back and forth shuffle he seemed unable to control. As he moved slowly up the ramp towards me, his breath clouded and fused with the death that engulfed us. He didn’t look up.

A noose was placed around his neck; eyes saucers of spilled black tea, dark and brimming. His lashes were long and caught in the tiny pieces of cool, blue light filtering through cracked slats of wood. He was massive and mesmerizing, stunning. It was impossible to look away.

My heart galloped as the straight end of the noose was pulled taut. He bucked frantically, but was dragged off his feet, head ramming into the stone wall beside him. Dazed, he’d slumped to ground, groaning and moaning, tears wetting his panic-stricken face. The bolt went straight through his skull, centered just above his eyes and a long, straight metal prod was inserted, meant to scramble his brain. He fought and flailed and I’d felt his desperation clawing its way into my own rattled organs.

He finally looked up and our eyes locked, both begging.

Kill him,” I’d choked. “Oh please dear God, have mercy and kill him.”

They used the noose to rope his legs and in an instant, he was on his back, all fours up in the air, slit open straight down the middle. His body shuddered and his sweat christened the ground below him before the blood reached it. His insides oozed and steamed as his valued parts were scooped for market.

It was the most brutal thing I’d ever seen and like the beast, I was gutted. Running off, fighting through tall grass and bursting out into the misty morning air, I was sure I’d never kill a living thing as long I lived.

The door protests loudly at my intrusion, but she doesn’t look up.

The room is shadowy and the rain pelts hard on the double-glazing. Cool blue light steals in through a crack in the curtains.

She’s lying on the bed; what’s left of her anyway. Trying to raise her wasted hand is exhausting. She surrenders after only a moment. There’s hesitation in the back and forth breaths she seems unable to control. She groans and moans, as tears wet the cheeks of her panic-stricken face. Dazed and scared, frenzied, as fear and death vie for her attention.

My hand rests over her heart and it’s clear we’re not beating in time. Hers is slow and labored; mine races to keep up with the trampling thoughts littered over my aching soul.

She finally looks my way and her gaze locks on mine, eyes big and blue, brimming; an ocean’s waves spilling onto the beach. And it’s obvious we’re both begging, only for two very different things; I’d give anything if life would sustain her. More than anything, she finds torture in each extra minute.

Every raindrop punctuates her silent plea.

End it. Oh please, please help me. Have mercy and end it.”

And, I do.

At forty-five, I’m a participant.

Cracked light

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Let There Be

He trudges along his near invisible path. The path he’s been trudging his entire, whole life.

His thin trail cloaked in twisted and tangled trees and trunks. Hidden under broken and bent barb and brush.

Holed up inside his rusted roost at the end of his ratted road, he sidles his wood-burning warmer, rocking and reading, wearing and wondering, settling, suffering.

He sleeps silently in his bed with none, eats quietly at his table for one. Windows assaulted with carwash crepe, angry branches leave insides sodden with weight.

The path he’s been trudging his entire, whole life.

But, had it been forever been this way? The more he thought, the more he sought, to find a time when he’d had a spine.

So, he stuffs his wool-covered feet into steel-shielded sheets, throws a long-handled axe across his back and unburdens. He hacks away at thick, burly trunks. Chops at the rot where the deep roots have sunk.

Ever so lowly, the changes he’s made somehow let the old him fade. As he swings and sways, things just fall away.

And, when he’s done, he is light.

Lght through the trees

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Behind the Story

“Who the hell would do this?” She barks at Sam.

They are up to their dusty eyebrows in broken tile, rotting fiberglass and pieces of popcorn ceiling.

He turns and sees that the old towel bar she’s holding sports a large chunk of what used to be their bathroom wall. The massive, chalky piece is clinging to the bar for dear life, no intention of letting go.

“Good Lord, Jill, how about a little less demo? We’re not going for open concept here. Try leaving the wall where it is.”

He’s tired. They both are. She gets it. This reno has been a whole lot more work than they’d bargained for.

“I know, sorry. I didn’t do it on purpose though. The bar was like, Crazy Glued to the wall. There aren’t even any screws here or anything.”

“Idiots,” he says with a sigh. “Why would they do that?”

She finishes her work in silence. They have enough on their plates.

***

Joe and Barbara turn the key together. They are so excited to own their first home they don’t even notice that the lock is rusty or how the key barely makes it out upon their firm yank.

With the door open, Nathan lets go of Barbara’s other hand and teeters his way down the hall. Barbara, nine months pregnant, waddles after him. Baby number two due any day, her back is sore and she’s more tired than she’s ever been in her life. The move has taken its toll.

Joe wanders from room to room, seemingly over moon, and honestly, he is, but deep down, he’s smothering fear. How is going to pay for this? He can’t bear to tell Barb there’s been talk of lay-offs at work. This came, of course, after they decided to make baby number two and after they signed the papers for the house.

A year in, they’re barely making ends meet. Joe is laid off. Baby number two is sick. Medical insurance disappears along with Joe’s job. Things in their new old house are falling apart. The roof needs repairing, the electrical has to be rewired, their hot water tank blows.

Fear has triumphed in the struggle and is now smothering them both, so when Nathan accidentally pulls the towel bar off the wall, Barbara quietly glues it back on.

“It’s okay, sweetheart,” she whispers, stroking his soft, pale hair. It’s all better now, don’t worry.”

She doesn’t tell Joe. They have enough on their plates.

WMC_EveryoneHasAStory

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Good Enough

The powder slowly fell out of the paper envelope into the bowl, reminding me of a dump truck off-loading a pile of sand; only the dust rising from this pour was so sweet, my mouth watered at the scent.

I carefully tore open a second packet, fearful of losing even one of the tiny, tasty granules. Spinning a spoon, I methodically mixed the two flavors together making sure all was evenly dispersed.

The kettle was taking forever. I braided my hair and drew hearts on the windowpane where condensation had formed. I did a few pirouettes and slid back and forth across the sleek kitchen floor, but the kettle still hadn’t boiled.

Unable to wait any longer, I added the slightly more than lukewarm water and stirred away. Growing even more impatient, I added the cold and happily popped the mixture into the fridge.

I did some homework, brushed the dog and painted my fingernails, each one a different color, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I checked and checked again, finally deciding it was good enough.

Quivering almost as much as it was, I brought the heaping bowl up to my room. I’d waited for what felt like an eternity and I was finally about to reap the reward.

But to my surprise, it wasn’t ‘good enough’. In fact, it wasn’t any kind of good at all. It was runny and watery, not firm and wiggly. It was sour and sad, rather than joyful and jolly.

As I sat on my bed slopping the red garble around in the bowl, it didn’t take me long to figure out that greatness never comes from ‘good enough’.

Write quickly

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It’s Clear

At times we tumble to the bottom of the sea and lay quietly on the mossy floor. We coil in darkness, sometimes stretch in cool patches of light. We spy our reflections in warped, mottled looking glass and struggle to swim in opposite directions.

At times we stumble upon glistening treasure, unearth masked memories, open swollen doors, loosen rusty locks and break through current that nearly drowns us.

We float and sink, sink and float, continuously rising and falling at the mercy of the deep.

But it’s the times we hold hands though they are cold and unfeeling, join hearts though they are aching and unglued and fight though we are worn and tired, toward the watery sun just above our reach.

It’s the times we together break the surface, that keep us breathing.                    Copyright © 2013 The Wrought Writer

sun under surface

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Author Wednesday – Hazy Shades of Me

So honoured to be promoted by a fellow Author and Blogger. Hurry and check it out…set to self-destruct at midnight. Wait…me or the post?! ;0)

P.C. Zick

typewriter.jpg

Welcome to Author Wednesday. I’m very excited to host a new, but solid friend and author, Alana Agerbo. When I started this blog last year, Alana was one of my first followers and one of the first to comment on my posts. I remember how excited I was when she posted one of my blogs to Facebook. I began following her blog, Hazy Shades of Me, and discovered a writer with extraordinary talent and a woman modest about her craft. I also made a friend, even though we’ve never met in person. To me, she will always be “Hazy” in name, but clear and poetic in her prose. I present to you with great pride and joy, my friend and author, Alana Agerbo AKA Hazy.2FBHazy.jpg

I Can Be Silver

By Alana “Hazy” Agerbo

I am gray.

Dappled Gray. I’m unconcerned whether we see a drama or a comedy…

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Only You

Through the fog, it vies for my attention. I can barely see it just below the surface of the sand. Grains scattered over the exterior, it’s mottled, difficult to visualize. Dust surrounding, settling, my view is nearly blocked.

People walk past, not seeing what I can almost see, busy, distracted. Although the sun skips on the water’s tips, a haze keeps me from seeing clearly.

I stab and strive, but can’t reach it.

The longer I wait, the deeper it drives. Rooting itself in the bottomless beneath and I fear I will miss my chance. Never see it again.

I beckon passersby, begging them to nab it. I wave and yell, scream. They take no notice of it or me, oblivious to my struggle.

I reach out for what I’m sure will be my last chance and its edges finally hint at my fingertips.

“I am yours,” it murmurs, “and only you can keep me from sinking.”

I reach out for what I’m sure will be my last chance and its edges finally hint at my fingertips.

“I am yours,” it murmurs, “and only you can keep me from sinking.”                           Copyright © 2013 The Wrought Writer

Only You

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Senseless

Sweat trickles right past his finger and I wonder if he can feel it. I doubt it, because he pushes harder, burying his nail into the soft of my spine.

It hurts. I don’t move.

“Whaddya think yer doin’?” His whisper is cruel, seething.

I sit silently, facing front. Inching so slightly. Hoping he won’t realize I’ve lessened the pressure of his poke.

“Think yer so smart, huh?” Push, push, push.

“Ya big suck…all goody two shoes.” Pffft…

 

His spit spray wets the back of my neck and I regret my ponytail instantly.

The kids are playing kickball on the gravel field. I sit on the grass, bagged lunch at my side. Left of the field, near the fence, there’s a dip. I position myself just right. I am almost invisible. I pick at my peanut butter covered crusts. Daydream about being anywhere else.

My eyes are closed.

When I open them, the red kickball is bouncing away, slowing to a roll at the edge of the grass. Stops at his feet.

For once, I have to take my glasses off so I can see. Takes me a few minutes to realize they’re cracked. My only pair.

The skin on my forehead is split open from hairline to nose bridge. We’ll mend it best we can, the Doctor tells me, but this is going to leave a scar.                                                                   Copyright © 2013 The Wrought Writer

Kickball

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Exposed

As I lift it out of the box, the soft material all but slips through my fingers. The creamy beige cashmere is rich and lush, silky and soft, like nothing I’ve ever owned. Instantly, I’m in love.

“I’ll treasure it always!” I squeal as I hold it up to my face, inhaling the fresh outta the shop smell.

I wore it with everything. Magically, it seemed to suit any ensemble I put together. It was always just the right fit and went with me everywhere, a loyal accompaniment.

But as time went on, I began to take advantage of my coveted cardi. I used it as a cushion on hard seats, I let the cat curl up on it during lazy afternoon naps, slept in it on cold nights and wrapped it ‘round me while sitting on salty sand before fiery flames.

The smells and smudges of a life well lived began to take their toll. My beautiful cashmere sweater now mimicked a rag doll, crumpled in the corner, its depressed drapery defeated. Neck soiled, cuffs frayed.

Now, when I lift it to my face as I had so long ago, I inhale abuse, neglect. The sad, sour scent of a sorrowful soul. My mind races; I could wash it. I could run it to the drycleaner. I could stitch the cuffs and scrub the neck.

But the truth is, I know it’s no use.

When something is so precious, so delicate, it warrants continuous and consistent respect. A little attention, once in a while, when you can find the time, won’t keep it undamaged or unscathed.

My beloved cardigan is falling away and I am left exposed.                             Copyright © 2013 The Wrought Writer

Broken Heart

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Help

I sat outside a coffee shop on callous, stony concrete hoping someone would give me something, anything; money, food, a coffee, kindness. It was bitter and my fingers were understandably numb.

Men in unyielding suits talked on their phones and held doors for people completely capable of opening them on their own. I watched women with big hair chatter and chide, wrinkle their noses and throw half full cups into the trash as they skipped away.

Not one looked at me.

I cupped my hands around my mouth and savored the small touch of warmth my breath provided. It was getting colder and my muscles stiffened. I sat on, unable to think of much else other than where I’d be in a few hours.

“Could you hang on to my dog?” My body tightened at the unexpected voice.

I looked at the little curly haired dog and then up at the little curly haired boy.

“I need to grab something real quick and he can’t run super fast, so if you could just hold him for me…”

“No problem,” I agreed, not sure what choice I had as the little guy ran off without really waiting for an answer.

The dog climbed up onto my lap, his belly like a hot water bottle and his sandy fur a warm coat. He stretched upwards and licked my face with a soft, velvety tongue. I felt myself loosen a little, a pulled elastic slipping back into its natural state after being stretched to the max.

The very next person to come out handed me a five-dollar bill. “Say no to drugs.” he laughed, half serious, the next; a cup of steaming coffee and a couple of toonies. “Cute pup’” she said. “Buy him a treat,” she added, smiling.

By the time the boy returned, I’d had a sandwich, a conversation and the shake of a hand.

“Hey thanks for watching Jack,’ he said. “It would’ve taken me way longer with him.”

He handed me a somewhat grizzly sleeping bag and a greyish pillow. “Here, they’re yours.” He told me.

“What? No,” I said, shocked. “Where did you get these?”

“I gotta go,” he said, grabbing the dog. “I can come back tomorrow though,” he offered. “People are way more generous when Jack’s around.”

He took off so quickly that I barely had time to notice his dirty fingernails and his hoodie full of holes, Jack effortlessly keeping up alongside him.

Copyright © 2013 The Wrought Writer

homeless boy and dog

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