Tag Archives: Flash fiction

Comfort Me with Apples…

Comfort Me with Apples

Tonight, she was sure of it: she’d been entered.

The stillborns and miscarriages of her recent past mocked her.

In the still of each evening, she heard them cackling and cooing as they romped through the deserted and darkened nursery. Vases occasionally tumbled and shattered.

She saw darting movements out of the corner of her eyes. Sometimes an entire child-image. Other times, just the quick shadow of a tiny foot as it whisked around a corner.

Of  course, he didn’t believe her. Not that he was cold or indifferent. Another man might have deserted her by now, leaving her yoked to barren solitude.

But he tried to make her laugh. To forget.

But they would never let her forget.

Each night in her dreams, she was assailed by tiny, blue faces. Shriveled. Accusing. Milky eyes staring up at her. Small monkey hands that reached up out of her bloodied bedclothes until she sat up screaming and he would comfort her, easing her back down until her bird’s heart returned to normal.

Tonight, another being had warmed itself beside her. Waiting to be invited in.

She put down the potato she was peeling and inhaled deeply. A sweet aroma of ripening apples entered her and she had wept. Another had chosen her.

In the hallway, she heard a picture frame slide down the wall and smash on the hardwood floor.

When he returned from work, she’d told him what had happened and what she wanted to do. He’d listened and agreed, as she knew he would.

She entered his study. He was sitting at his blood red writing table, staring out the window as the sun descended behind the Parliament building.

“Are you ready?” she asked him.

He turned to her and held out a red rose and a tightly wound bundle of sage. “Yes.”

They went to the fireplace and she thrust the sage bundle into the glowing embers. Its musty scent immediately filled the apartment.

“Come,” she said.

They unlocked the nursery door and entered, the smoking sage held out before her in a shaking hand. The end of the sage bundle glowed an unearthly orange in the semi-darkness. The smoke scent mingled with another, more ancient stench of corruption.

She grabbed his hand and strode to the very center of the room, sage held high, and screamed. She ran to each corner and thrust the smoking bundle upward. She demanded to be left alone, to be free of unnamed children.

The walls shook, the floor buckled. And outside, an unnatural orange glow filled the sky.

The woman and the man held each other tightly until the room stopped convulsing.

They walked back to the blood red writing desk in his study.

She draped herself onto his lap and lay back.

She took his hand and pulled it to her waist.

“Here,” she said. “Put your hand here. I smelled apples and then he was living right here.”

The man cradled her stomach and kissed her.

A delicious silence settled on the house as the orange glow faded to purple in the west.

She looked up at him with shining, wet eyes.

“Just like apples,” she said.

________________________________________________________

Today I was at the home of a close friend. We were discussing books and life etc.  Conversation turned to whether or not there were such ‘things’ as individual human souls. I was of the opinion that the notion of  eternal souls is a delusion (not that I am in any way qualified to make such a statement.) My friend told me of her experiences with failed and successful pregnancies and I was fascinated. Moved, I wrote this story.

Image of incredible Chagall painting by Shawn Rossi

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A Glass of Water…

A Glass of Water

Atsuko heard the creaking of the porch screen and hurried out to greet her husband.

“What?” she asked. Her eyes bulged and glistened.

Hoshu limped through the door after removing his shoes. “There is no bottled water left at any of the stores.  Where is Tokutaro?”

“He’s out back playing with his friends.”

A breeze blew in the open door. Atsuko rushed to close it. “The neighbors have said the same thing. No bottled water at all. What will we do? Maybe we can go to Kamakura and stay with my sister and her family?”

Hoshu looked down at his gnarled hands and sighed. “It will be the same thing down there sooner or later. It’s in the wind as well as the water. It goes everywhere.”

“The radio and the television both said the water in the tap was fine to drink. The levels had gone up and babies shouldn’t get any. But they said it would not be a problem for anyone else. It is not too high.” Atsuko twisted a dry rag in her hands.

Outside in the street, children yelled and Hoshu could hear a ball slapping against the side of the building: Tokutaro playing football with his friends.

What does she want me to say? Hoshu wondered. He’d been at work laying bricks all morning and had finished his last bottle of water before coming home. Atsuko had promptly sent him back out in search of more. Now he was parched and found it hard to speak without coughing.

Atsuko said, “Tokutaro has a bottle with him outside, but that is the last one.”

Hoshu looked at his wife and shrugged. “It’s tap water then. The man at the store said they won’t have bottled water at least for a week. We can’t go that long without water to drink. The neighbors are all in the same position. I don’t see we have much choice.”

“Tokutaro. He is only eight years old, Hoshu.”

“Do you think I don’t know the age of my son? That a few hours without water have damaged my brain?” Hoshu stood up and went over to the sink. He peered down the drain looking for any telltale sign of contamination. What was he supposed to see, a green glow from deep in the drainpipe?

“What are you doing over there?” Atsuko came across the room and joined him at the sink.

“Looks fine. Smells alright,” he said.

“Don’t Hoshu.”

He grabbed a glass from the drying rack and held it under the tap. His hand did not shake at all, which surprised him.

He looked at Atsuko and took a deep breath, held it for a second, and then exhaled.  Hoshu turned the cold-water handle, letting cool clear water spill freely onto the white porcelain of the sink.

Atsuko took two steps back and bit her lower lip. “Hoshu, no…”

He filled the glass, turned off the water and walked to the kitchen table. Hoshu placed the glass in the center of the table like a sculpture in a museum. They gazed at the glass of water in silence. Hoshu imagined downing the water. What would happen, really?

He finally broke the silence. “Sooner or later, we’ll have to drink.”

“But let’s wait.” Atsuko said. “Maybe one of the neighbors will have a relative who’ll bring some. Or we could go down to the store one more time. Let’s just not do it until we’re sure we don’t have any other choice.”

They stared at the glass of water while joyful shouts floated up from the street. They heard Tokutaro yell “Goal!”

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I was driving around today and NPR was airing a story about the partial meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The story centered on the questionable safety of the Tokyo tap water.

The government has advised that infants not have any tap water. The question remained if older kids and adults could drink with impunity. Government pronouncements indicated that radiation levels, while elevated above baseline, were not such that a health hazard was likely.

Bottled water is getting harder to find…


Sitting in Darkness, doing what?

Each morning I wake before dawn and go to my study.  Of course it’s dark. I don’t turn on the light in my office: I light a candle and a stick of incense.

Then I sit .

I prefer the Zen term, “sitting”, rather than “meditating”, which makes me feel too spiritual.

I sit in darkness, breathe in, out.

Then I write.  I sit at my desk and clack out words on my keyboard. There’s still no light.

I write about this flaming world of ours. Interesting times, as the old Chinese curse would have it.

This blog is about writing. And the germ of writing resides in darkness. The moment of creation.

Each day for a year, starting March 25th, 2011, I’ll be posting a new piece of flash fiction.

My stories will be prompted by something in that day’s news or something else that grabbed my attention.

I hope you enjoy the stories- all three of you who find this blog.

Hopefully we’ll have a gem, every now and then.

365 stories, coming up.

Peace.


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