As much as she hated needles, Lynne was game for another dose, high spirited for 9 in the morning because Frank was home doing the vacuuming and once their respective chores were complete, they’d join the Senior Spartans on their monthly lunch outing. With the cold infusion slow dripping like a hipster’s coffee- into the orifice forged by the nurse’s ‘… little sting’- there was nothing to do but look around the room, make small talk with the nurse and other patient, or- as was mainly the case- look down at her gnarled hands, driftwood garnished with the ring Frank had given her 55 years earlier- hands that had changed Noel and Fiona’s nappies, held a glass to toast each child’s wedding, cooked countless shepherd’s pies- now too set in their ways to do as Lynne instructs. No way they’d hold the arm of the hoover much less a tennis racket these days, at least not long enough to raise much dust. Continue reading
Garnishing a Blood Mary with the stick of celery I’d bought at Al’s Corner Produce, I had no idea where I was, or where the hummus or Forrest were for that matter. Swallowed in the dark nothingness, once I’d lost my grip on Forrest, I was alone for what felt like hours. Time enough to regret my meddling that had caused all this. ‘It’ was what I wanted, but now that I was in It, feeling like the same person, but dressed differently, and from all appearances, working at a bar, I wasn’t sure what kind of mess I had created.
Mixing drinks seemed to come naturally to this other me, although I had never before done more than pour tonic and gin over ice, with a pretty relaxed take on ratios, as the mood required. It wasn’t just the celery and myself that got spirited away to wherever this was. My classroom black board was mounted on the wall behind the bar, announcing bar specials, but with faint traces of numbers and the alphabet, in my handwriting.
Who am I? This me still dislikes sloppy attempts at cleaning black boards. Is this what it felt like to be the woman on the Droste Cacao box? I was met by the familiar reflection in the bar mirror. A picture being revealed, within a picture. Identity is a funny thing. For now, all I had was ‘bartender’, ‘woman’, and potentially ‘black board obsessive’. I couldn’t even be sure of my name. I was going to have to feel my way through the other pieces that would fit together as I continued my search for Cynthia.
Prices seemed a little odd in the bar I tended. $4.53 for a Bloody Mary? I turned to serve the drink, and there she was, looking just like the face on the poster, complete with medal around her neck and what was probably a band t-shirt, with the words ‘Missing Persons’ emblazoned across it.
“I’ve been waiting here for ages. Did I interrupt your trip to la la land?” Her smile softened her obvious irritation.
To be continued…
Third of a 6 part serial – Timeline. Originally Published 18th April, 2016. Illustration added 2nd July 2017.
Inspiration for this week’s installment of the unfolding series ‘Timeline’ was from WordPress’ Discovery Challenge, Identity.
Regular readers – 10000hoursleft now exists outside of the WP world- check out the Instagram widget in the side bar- I will post illustrations for stories, behind the scenes shots, pics of inspiration for stories etc.
It was with a heavy heart that I worked my way through the Sandersons that had spent the better part of their youth at Henfield Primary School. There was a whole brood of them- some related, others just sharing a relatively common name. James, Felicity, Veronica, Sandra, Jack, Noel, a lot of Kates, and many Peters. Finally. Cynthia. Occasionally I received a phone call from an ex-student or the parent of an ex-student, usually with an inspired idea for a 21st or wedding. Otherwise, the time capsules were returned to the ex-students themselves at the 20 year reunion- enough time would pass by then for there to be an appreciation of the insight into what their 10 or 11 year old selves could give them.
Cynthia’s mother had called grasping for something, anything, of her daughter. I knew who she was immediately when Mrs. Sanderson told me her daughter’s name. For the past year, her face, smiling with a hand proudly holding a medal that hung around her neck, had been plastered around railway stations, at local convenience stores and occasionally on the news in what has been shorter and shorter segments as time moves on and other missing persons, wars, government budgets and natural catastrophes compete for screen time. Not for Mrs. Sanderson though. Her grieving voice told me that the world and all its news had stopped for her and her husband the day Cynthia went missing. 17 years old, at another milestone in her life, having just finished high school and celebrating on the Gold Coast during Schoolies Week. No one knows what happened to her, or at least no one has come forward with what they know. All her mother wanted was one more piece of her little girl. Continue reading
“Mission control, do you read me? The nebula is burning at a greater intensity than previous recordings, just concerned the hubble is drifting since yesterday’s calibration.”
“Mission control here, Captain- news just in suggests the increased luminosity coincides with a terrestrial event in the Southern Hemisphere of Planet Earth at roughly 03:00 GMT, little boy blowing out his birthday candle, a lunch time celebration in his local time.”
The astronaut breathed a sigh of relief, first mission nerves had made her question her judgements, but it seemed it was the instrument’s range that required adjustment in this instance- the kid is a force to be reckoned with.
Happy 2nd birthday to my little boy – my constant source of love and inspiration, combined here with image prompt from Sonya’s Three Line Tales Week 19. Fittingly, the NASA image is an anniversary pic celebrating the Hubble Telescope’s 26th year in orbit. The fiery object is a Bubble Nebula, cloud and hot gases released by the brilliant star at its core. Other pics capture the birthday boy and the moment that threw NASA’s measurements off, and his observation of a sound/light/bubble installation in Melbourne, taken yesterday by Richard Baxter, also known as Daddy.
full moon’s tidal dance
breaking waves of purple light
reign of crying doves
scent of violets in bloom
solar orbit, fleeting life
Inspired by the artist we knew as Prince. His music lives in the souls he moved. Prompt words sun (interpreted as ‘solar’) and moon from RonovanWrites’ Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge.
Postscript: It was after posting this that out of curiosity, I read about the scent of violets (it is late here, so I couldn’t go seeking violets to have a whiff). I learnt that after stimulating your olfactory receptors, the aromatic compound that gives violets their scent (ionone) temporarily shuts off the receptors, taking away your ability to smell the flower. How fitting and serendipitous that violets are known for their ephemeral scent! There is nothing more I’d like to do right now than smell a violet for a little while.
Well, it’s time to begin as the summer sets in. You could say it is my busiest time of year. No days off, and it’s when I’m closest to the workings of things, as the system literally revolves around me. I know, I sound like a seasoned bureaucrat, but I’m it, basically, with my relatively sedentary but global role (I won’t bore you with the details of the outermost corners of my reach). A creature of habit, I make my presence known from East to West, for the most part receiving a welcome – open doors, smiling faces, songs written in my honour and a hit that becomes an anthem for the season. I cross paths with birds moving this way and that, following my warmth and the harvest it brings as Earth rotates around me.
What keeps me going? what lights my fire? that’s easy, summer love. I guess I’m a romantic.
When the cooler months and all their darkness are shed, new layers are revealed. Kissed by my rays, and in keeping with the first law of thermodynamics, my radiant energy transfers to the warmth of a smile, crinkles in the corner of the eyes, a contagious joy that makes strangers take one another’s hands and decide to trust in the moment. Sometimes I see those summer lovers through the changes to follow- changes that are inevitable and start with the fading summer glow- clouds form, winds sweep away words no longer spoken, and the growing darkness begins a countdown, time divided and apportioned by my appearance and disappearance over the course of a revolution, till summer sets in once again. Love that lasts through the seasons knows I am always here.
This is my response to Friday Fiction with Ronovan Writes Prompt Challenge #11 (start with the first line of one of your favourite songs, max 300 words). I have previously written about a ‘favourite’ song. For this challenge, it came down to Gatekeeper by Feist or Off the Wall by Michael Jackson. I chose Feist’s Gatekeeper for being fresh as a ‘favourite’ as I only recently really listened to the lyrics and gained an even greater appreciation of it. It is lyrical perfection. ‘When the world is on your shoulder’ would have taken me down a different path- perhaps one to traverse in another post!
Peter was always on time, so it struck Elaine as strange that he didn’t turn up for his weekly session. She’d already seen the next client, and now sat waiting, wondering what had kept him from the appointment he had been faithful to for the past two years. They were making good progress. He was now able to make eye contact when he spoke to her, but there was still a fear that rose up in him and made him twitch and draw back if ever she took more than a step toward him once he sat down on the plush beige armchair where he unburdened all the troubles of the week. He was possibly one of Elaine’s most difficult clients- in the sense that she still, after all this time, didn’t have a sense of where his fears were coming from. Without that, she knew there could be no intimacy between them. It seemed everything frightened Peter. Sitting now in the armchair, she felt a strange protrusion digging into the side of her right thigh. Feeling about and contorting in the chair, she dug out a wristwatch which was wedged between the arm rest and the firm cushion base. The glass face had come off clean- not leaving any sharp edges, and the arms were bent, with the minute and second hand reaching out as though to escape their fate of turning round and round in time, all the time. She recognised the watch. How could she not? It had been two years of seeing him compulsively pull back the long white cuff that covered his wrist while clearing his throat and attempting to discretely check the time. It wasn’t so discreet when he did it every 5 minutes for the whole 50-minute session. How did he get by since, without the watch? Did he have a spare? Was this why he was…Her thoughts were cut off then with a knock on the door. “Come in” she said. It was Peter. “I, I, I have something to tell you” he blurted out, walking toward her almost at a leaping pace. She stood up, but just as she did, he’d already advanced too close for her to move away from the chair. As she was about to fall back into the chair, Peter’s arms closed in on her, an awkward hug that pushed her backward, with Peter’s tall frame following suit, tipping the arm chair, Elaine and Peter onto the floor. His face was only millimeters away from her and she noted the strong sent of peppermint on his warm breath. Turning her face away from his, she said, “Peter, you are late, I’m sorry, we are out of time”.
Write a story that contains all three of these elements: A broken wristwatch, peppermints, and a hug that goes too far (prompt from this site).