Archive for July, 2011

Another story prompt by the BE KIND REWRITE folk who inspire so many wonderful writers.  Thank you.

This week, I’ve chosen “WHEN THE WIND GETS TIRED” as my prompt.  Let’s see where this takes me.

When the Wind Gets Tired

There it is again.  The wind.  Out here on the plains the sound of the wind seems to never tire.  I hear it when I’m tending the garden plot, I can hear it pushing against the blades of the windmill: the squeak and creak of the machine has become part of the background of life here on this dusty ranch set on the prairie.  My house is built below the soil.  Dug into the hard relentless ground of this land, with sod covering the wood beams that my husband and I traveled over 100 miles to bring back to our homestead.  My husband is buried here now, suffered  a burst appendix 3 years back.  Situated as we are at an altitude of over 4000 feet on Sunflower Mount in Kansas, many are very surprised at what is not here when they arrive at the crest of the mountain. No trees, no boulders, nothing that actually reminds them of a mountain.  But mountain it is:  cold, wind blown and dry.  A disappointment to many, but not to me.  Up here, I am at peace with the wind.  Up here, life is harsh and the loneliness is capable of pushing lesser beings over the edge as the wind sings her mournful songs. Over and over, sometimes she is shrieking, sometimes she whispers, but always speaking; always moving the landscape and always wearing away at the soul, the earth, the mountain.

My little homestead sits on one of the trails leading through and away from Kansas. Forever towering over us is Colorado. Majestic mountains, sharp jagged peaks, miles upon miles of wooded life, which to my eye and heart is much too fearful to contemplate living there.  From my own Sunflower Mount, I can spot a visitor from miles away.  The buffalo once roamed here in great herds.  I still find their bones half buried under the wind burnt crust all around me.  I have water here on my mountain, I have grass to feed my herd of horses which I sell or trade to the settlers as they slowly crawl across the unforgiving and torturous countryside.  Their horses and oxen need changing  by the time they reach my little outpost.  Here they exchange  the animals they are using to pull their loads across the mountains for a heartier breed:  a well rested animal: one able to pull their heavily laden burdens across the high mountain passes of Colorado.  From time to time, I also offer my land (temporarily) to families who arrive too late to safely traverse the high mountain passes ahead of them.  For a woman alone on the plains it was a good trade.  The men would fix and repair my property using some of the supplies they brought with them to start their own homesteads. This is how I started building my windmill.  With each new year, a large assortment of parts would find their way to my door.  I rarely worried about how things would get done.  My winter guests would scour the plains for fuel to burn in our hearth during the long cold nights of winter.  The women would help me put the veggies up from my garden. I gained my sugar and flour from their reserves, feeding them and me during the lean months of winter.    Everyone, including  the children would help with the care of the horses and cattle, the men would repair fences and the windmill that brings the life-giving water from deep within the earth to the surface replenishing the garden and beasts alike who share my existence here on Sunflower Mount.

Those who passed through my little homestead were often heard to say when they left: “I’ll bet  when the wind gets tired here on Sunflower Mount, it is still noisy with its relentless complaints!”   I never thought of her “noise” as complaints, only as the voice of the wilderness, the song of the mountains, the restless whisper of a being who couldn’t understand the earth as she stood mute, hopelessly battling an unseen and unbeatable conflict against the ever-moving force of nature.  I’ve tried to stay a few nights in the mountains to the west, but without the wind in my ears I found myself nervous.  I would jump at the quietness of the forest, of the rustle of the mouse through the dead fall.  I had to get back out here. To my constant and always speaking friend, the wind.  She never tires here.  She’s with me always.

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I’m barely fitting in under the wire with this submission, but here it is.  Sorry about this, I had 2 stories that needed written and submitted to my various editors for publication.  Nothing like procrastination for inspiration!

Without further ado~ here is my submission for “BE KIND REWRITE INSPIRATION MONDAY XX”

Rearrange Me-Till I’m Sane

I met Janna after I awoke in a bleak hospital room, my wrists securely anchored to the bed rails as were my ankles.  I could feel a hose snaking out from beneath my hospital gown, draping over my right leg down below the height of the mattress.  I wondered what that was and what it was for.  My throat was very sore, and I remember the ER staff lying on top of me to restrain me from fighting their efforts to insert a tube to my stomach.  They were gonna pump it, and then insert a charcoal concoction meant to strain  the chemicals still roaming about my system.  I never quite understood that reasoning.  If ya pumped it out, what the hell is still roaming around in there?  Just another way to milk my poor husband and family out of thousands of dollars is how I still see it, but what do I know?

My eyes fluttered about the room and I craned my neck about like it was a swivel stick.  I was trying to observe my surroundings.  It was quite dark in the room: I guess it was after lights out on the floor.  I felt the door open more than I heard or observed anything.  You know the eerie feeling of unease? It appears that while I had assaulted my senses with deadly levels of toxic chemicals; my radar for danger was still on high alert. Out of the darkness to stand beside my bed was the biggest and scariest man I’d ever been confronted with.  He stooped over my bed, reaching for my chest when suddenly Janna’s body flew from the shadows hiding the bed next to the window. She was little thing screeching and scratching like a mongoose devil at this humongous and threatening male.  Janna landed on the guy’s back. She had clawed a hole in his cheek and had his ear between her teeth; ripping and tearing at his flesh as both growled and screamed obscenities at each other.  It took something like 45 seconds for a pair of nurses to arrive, both male, both of them ready to do battle with whatever they met in this room filled with swearing, screeching, the smell of blood and fear permeating the air with the hormones that create the fight or flight factors in humans.  The nurses had a called for security and by the time those guys were in the room the nurses had accessed who was where, doing what to whom and who to direct security to subdue first.  The guards quickly separated Janna from the big intruder,  she and the big guy received mega doses of some calming agent in their backsides.  After the nursing staff had accessed me as  being securely trounced and not a danger, they me left to wonder what the fuck had just happened.  My heart was in my chest.  Not one of the people in charge asked if I was OK.  They just checked my moorings and left me there in that damned bed!

Janna had been returned to our shared room 12 hours later.  The powers that be had he sedated, stripped and placed spread eagle on a dirty mattress, securely bound hand and foot to four eyelets sunk into the cement floor .  Thorazine was the drug of choice in these instances.  She was quite aware of the circumstance she was in, quite aware the guards and staff were watching her prone and naked body on the live feed that came from the camera in the upper corner to the right of the door.  She had been in this room many times before.  The orderlies wheeled her to this same room every time they came to take her for the treatment.  She was belligerent and fought them until they had her hog tied and drugged.  She would then be taken for “treatment” and after the orderlies would bring her back to the “quiet room”.

Jenna was a small girl who liked her smack.  A drug addict: her father had her committed against  her will. Daddy was a council man in the town we lived in.  He paid doctors to diagnose her as paranoid schizophrenic: a danger to herself and members of the community.  After spending 6 weeks with her, I knew she wasn’t.  I know she was simply a sad little girl who got hooked on drugs and shoved into this hell hole; left forgotten by her family.  She was an embarrassment to her father as he fought his way up the political ladder of the community.

Jenna came back after each treatment less and less the girl who saved me on my inaugural night on the ward.  The last day I saw her, she knew she was going back into the room for another treatment. It was during one of the few lucid moments she was experiencing those days  that she looked into my eyes and told me, “They said they’re gonna rearrange me till I’m sane, Lesley.  They’re gonna kill what makes me-me.” Her sad sunken black rimmed eyes were already dead.  I was so scared for her and for myself.  I just wanted to “be good” and pass the next evaluation that would decide if the Baker Act would be able to keep me here at Pembroke Pines State Hospital.

I remember her saying that. Clear as day.  There she is in my memory echoing over and over “Rearrange me till I’m sane.”  What a sad epitaph she’s been saddled with, but it’s true.  She was “rearranged” by them.  I miss her, yes after all these years I still miss her.

In responce to Scribbla’s invitation to write a reply to his “DEAR JOHN” letter, and INDIGO SPIDER’S  Sunday photo with a twist: here is my story in tandem of Scribbla’s.

Thanks for the push Scribbla, you furnished a wonderful jump start for my imagination.  Hope you like it.

Dear Gilliam,

I pray this note will reach you.  Your Bessy arrived but she was poor in spirit.  Her heart burst as she flew into the pen on my rooftop.  I’ve no idea how she escaped the pull of the dark void that has arrived in your little hamlet, but the effort cost her dearly.

Gilliam, this void you describe is not new.  I have heard of it’s occurrence many times.  As a conjuror of time, I’ve traveled through many eons and lived several lifetimes.  What you describe is not an un-natural state of affairs.   If my own bird arrives safely at your rooftop pens with this revelation, I will be greatly surprised.   Man, beast, fowl, and fauna can not keep the fires of their spirits lit inside the life sucking blackness that is coming.  As you have observed, the fowl and the beast have succumbed, disappeared from the landscape of the land.  You spoke of cleansing or bleaching the darkness from your sight?  What you are experiencing is a cleansing in it’s own right.  It’s as though something from beyond our lives has decided a mistake has been made and everything as we know it is being cleared away by the darkness:  the light will return once all but the strongest of heart and desire have been swallowed and destroyed by the inky decay of nothing-ness.  The strong will survive, but not with their memories.  All will be wiped clean, the survivors will be nothing more than near empty vessels of genetic material.  The survivors will learn to build fires, to cure meats, how to chip arrowheads from stone: they will barely be standing upright.  It is a cleansing of the weak of mind and spirit.  Only the best genetic material will survive.

The empty shell of the woman (Kerry?) on the bed is what you should expect to happen to all those you know, all those living.  You’ve observed the result of the darkness once its entered and overtaken the spirit. Taking with it all the human vestments and knowledge.  If your mind and spirit are strong enough, you will fight the ensuing madness that will prevail within you.  You will fight it and win, in a manner of speaking.  Because my dear Gilliam, little is stronger than the desire to pass on the genes of a fighter.  Nothing is stronger than the yearning to live and be the Ark of the people.  There is no way to avoid the darkness sweet Gilliam, but there is no room for despair either.  To win this battle: to be a parent of the New World, you must prepare yourself.   You will find your mind in conflict. Don’t fight this variance , but rather direct its fight for survival.  Don’t allow despair to turn the darkness against your very will.  It is the WILL that will save your genes.

The emptiness of will is what has consumed Kerry.  It’s taken her soul, her self-awareness, and her life.  She breathes the air but derives no pleasure from it.  What she exhales only expands the void around her.  Infecting all who  breathe the same breaths as she.  The void consumes the vegetation which explains why the fields are dark and the hedgerows barren.  The animals have fed upon the vegetation and are bleak and infertile inside, until they too become one with the void.  The fields have blackened and in turn have befouled the  intestine of the rabbit and the cow who feed upon them.  It cannot be stopped or slowed.  Prepare yourself Dear Gilliam: be strong of heart and faith.  Be one of the few whose bodies escape the deepening black abyss.  Pass on your exceptional genes of survival, strength of character and superior mind to the new breed of humans advancing themselves to the next world.  Pray you are the strength that pushes the future of human survival: work hard so it is your offspring that will be the object of  praise from the universe and your offspring will inspire the elements to end the cleansing of the species this earth has endured since before time.

Be strong Gilliam, and I will see you in the next world.

John

I so enjoy “BE KIND RE-WRITE” and I’m very glad for the prompts and story lines this site sends to me.

 

Sneezing Stardust

“Jesus, woman.  What’s going on with that brain of yours?”

Jamie appears to be dumbfounded. “How can you say this to me! I’m not stupid! I’ve been able to get some good stuff and this is how you thank me!  This stuff is so fricken good, it will change your life and you talk to me like this?”

Jamie is a small diminutive woman around the age of 35.  Kinda mousey looking with her shoulders drawn into her chest, her greasy hair falling down into her eyes and her chin seemingly always tucked down on her sternum.  She’s not the kind of female who is all in your business; she’s the frightened girl who is easily cowed into submission.  She couldn’t look a human being in the eye is her life depended on it.

“For God’s sake, Jamie.  How can I believe in you? HUH?  Jesus!  You walk in here and tell me this shit and all I can see is a ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ story.  Jamie, you’re not 9 years old! Who the hell believes in this shit? WHO THE HELL SHELLS OUT THIS KIND OF MONEY FOR THIS KIND OF SHIT?  HUH?  WHO?  A fricken nutcase that’s who!  You’re not fricken Tinker Bell and life isn’t a fairy story.  Christ.”

Jamie’s heart is beating faster with each verbal insult Jason is tossing at her.  “I saw IT, dammit. I experienced what it can do.  I know it works.  I didn’t get ripped off, Jason. This is gonna do the trick. It will work.”

Jason, pours the contents of the bag out on the mirror.  Grabs the razor and starts chopping.  Pissing and moaning about what she’s done. The money she blew, the dreams she’s burned.  He chops the crystal into powder shoves the stuff into a line: booting a straw up one side of his nose as he plugs the other side.  SNORT.

He feels it hit the top of his head like a hot poker.  Something’s wrong.  This ain’t right.  A kaleidoscope of tumbling shapes and colors fill his brain.  His body recoils from the blow.  His eyes roll back into his skull, inspecting the brain.  His nose is bleeding profusely and he is sneezing violently.  Stuff is spraying out his nose.  It ain’t natural.  It’s as though a fireworks display was going on right in front of her.  Jamie’s smile is ear to ear.  She’s watching Jason and enjoying what the “Star Dust” is doing to him.  “Serves him right.” she murmurs.

Jamie watches until Jason stops thrashing.  All the while she’s telling him about the Star Dust.  He doesn’t hear her anymore, but that don’t stop the story as it flows from her lips.  “Star Dust Jason. I made it.  It’s chemicals from under the sink and it’s rat bait.  You stupid tweekers and crackheads are all alike.”  Jamie collects the mirror, the straw, the baggie and the compound.  She wipes everything she’s touched, and she walks out the door.

Jamie walks from the house with her hair pulled back high into a ponytail, her head proud and her shoulders now supporting her chest as she saunters from the building.  In her mind, she’s a super hero.  Like Blade cleansing the world of vampires, she cleanses the world of tweekers and crackheads.

Jamie’s smile grows larger as she walks deeper into the neighborhood.  She knows which house needs cleaning next.

I’ve been a while getting back into writing. Mom is doing much better now after having a pacemaker installed. Life is returning to “normal” and I’m feeling better about writing. So here goes. This is in response to Indigo Spider’s SUNDAY PHOTO PROMPT

You Can Never Go Home Again

I guess you can.  You know, go home. But don’t expect things to remain the same as when you left.  Never again will the old haunts of your childhood look as crisp and sparkling in life as they do with-in the halls of your memories.

It’s a hard lesson to learn.  I’m sure every human being has to learn this inflexible lesson about time and memories.  What a shocker!  I returned to a childhood memory yesterday.  A place I spent many lonely hours: a place where four-square, hop-scotch, and tag were part of the daily activities.  My grade school.  I learned to spell, to read, and to write here.  My teachers tried to instill a love of mathematics in me here, (a lesson of futility, poor Mr. Kerr!)

I only spent a few years here before my father moved us once again.  I grew up a military brat.  My family followed Dad from state to state, duty station to duty station, country to country.  This particular duty station and memory was in England.  I was six years old, finishing my kindergarten years at a school on an air base.  My foremost memory of this school was misery: I was such a shy girl, a new kid in a school full of new kids.  I should have known better, but my last experience at a new school wasn’t a Department of Defense school, it was a civilian school:  A place where the resident children all knew each other.  They understood the community and the rules of the neighborhood.  I didn’t.  I knew the rules of a military community   which is something much different from civilian life.  I was cootie-ized and excluded from the groups. I was never chosen first for the teams in dodge ball.  I was always chosen first as the target in dodge-ball.  I always sat on the sidelines, but I don’t think I made myself very easy for people to like either.  I was a strange and aloof child.  I remember leaving the house to catch the school bus when Mom called me back  to change my socks. I was wearing 2 different types and colors of socks.  One sock reached for the knee and was argyle in nature, while the other was a white, frilly ankle sock.  I refused to change those socially offensive articles of clothing and continued my way to school.  This action only heaped upon me ridicule from the other kids and verified (in my mind) my unworthiness and how lonely my life was.  I was a child who felt the need to suffer.

Now I stand here, looking at the school and the yard that held so much torment for me.  Gone and boarded are the gaping windows that allowed me to daydream and leave the classrooms as the teachers droned on:  me, on my beautiful white stead racing down the valley past all the stinking, smelling decay of evil children and unfair teachers.  The yard is choked with weeds; the pavement is a broken mass of up heaved concrete, stones and shards of metal.  It reminds me of my life as a student here.  It’s sad, almost forgotten except for the stray cats who’ve made the place their sanctuary.  It’s a memory of time and anguish.  I think I’m glad this building is crumbling and disrespected.   I feel a mixture of joy and sadness as I stare at the decrepit building.  I’ve survived this place.  I have survived time and the ravages of childhood nemeses.  I’m a survivor and I’m happy to have outlived this place of tears.  I’m satisfied.  Yes, I came home and found some things are better.  Sometimes you CAN come home.