This week I will be posting flash fiction pieces I have written within the past year for a great writing collaborative that is now laid to rest. My dear friends over at JuiceBox Confession
and Navigator, Equator
birthed LT 2.0
and in appreciation for it, please enjoy.
In this post you will find four pieces directly related by one common character. She has no name, but she surely has a problem. I wonder if I’ll ever pick up were I left off. What do you think?
7:38 pm. Where is he?
I’m sitting here. I’ve got my routine down. 6:45 pm I turn off the lights. I get my tea from the dank little kitchen in my 8th story three room apartment. I sit on my bed facing the window that faces his window across the street. I’ve got my camera, my notepad, my pen, my binoculars. Binoculars are the newest addition to my arsenal. I had to. His apartment is long, deep. The kitchen at the back. I can’t see his subtle movements that far back. Every egg crack, every dish scrubbed. I had to see. He needs me to see. To be here for him
7:39 pm. I get anxious. Different from the anxious I get when 7:28 comes. When I know he’ll be home in two minutes. That is a sickening, wanting anxious. This anxious is more of a break-in-pattern, fear of losing him anxious.
He moved in two months ago. It was fateful chance that I noticed his new residency. I was sitting here, on my bed. I was watching the birds above, the people scampering like ants at task below. Between the glances down to up I saw him with boxes. I saw her leave him there with a final hug. I saw him crumple to the ground and cry. That’s how I knew he needed me. He needs me.
7:40 pm. Where IS he?
I look down below. I don’t see him. I stand up. I start to pace. I start to scratch my forearm. I feel a tear trickle down my cheek. The contact of the warm fluid to my cool flesh and I break. I never bend.
I can’t wait. WHERE is he? I hurl my mug of tea across the room leaving shattered clay pieces sprinkled over the furniture. WHERE is HE?! I take the length of my arm and swipe the stacks of photos and notes from my ritual watchings off my drafting table. Some sheets fly and float like feathers and some plummet to the floor with severe haste. WHERE IS HE?! I run to the kitchen to grab more things to hurt least I turn on my self. Then I’d be no good to him. I smash a plate into the sink.
AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! WHERE IS HE?!
7:41pm. In my fit I catch the glint of a lamp flick on across the way. He’s home. I slide my finger under the top tissue in my kleenex box and pull up on it. Gently, I wipe my face dry. As the tissue comes down over my face a content smile replaces the panicked twisted lipped grimace.
I sit on my bed. I grin wicked. I collect my binoculars.
He came home. He came back to me. I love him so much. I love him to death. And what’s best about our love? It’s growing more everyday.
Walking closely behind him she carried her cafeteria tray, clutching the edges of it for her life. Getting too close meant discovery. She had watched his moves for weeks now. She knew his habitual patterns. As all humans, ritual is within our nature. At week three of watching, not one day differed from the last. Her confidence had blossomed and it was time.
He discarded his school lunch issued milk carton, the brown paper lunch sack sent with him from home, and the plastic spoon. Every day he had a yogurt or a pudding, no doubt lovingly packed by a parent. The spoon. The spoon…….
Keeping herself positioned directly behind him at the large garbage container she promptly shoved her tray into the trash. Feigning clumsiness she reached down to retrieve her tray….
….And the spoon he tossed.
Success. She clutched it under the lip of the tray in an attempt to conceal her prize. She deposited the tray to the dirty tray line, shoved the spoon into her hoodie pouch and hurriedly burst through the cafe doors. It took all her might to not sprint to the lavatory. Her heart beat unevenly and hastily. Her cheeks, she could feel, were flush and hot. The hair on her neck was raised and sweaty. Her panties were wet and warm. THIS, this is what she had been waiting for.
Checking each stall to confirm her solitude she closed her self in the far left toilet. Locked the door and perched herself up onto the seat as to not be discovered. Her only fear was interruption at this point. She closed her eyes. Held her breath. Reached her clammy hand into her pouch. Fingering the handle of the spoon she let out a moan and felt a tingle between her thighs she had never experienced.
Pulling out the spoon by the handle she held it with both hands in front of her and stared into it almost as if the spoon were his eyes. She pulled it close to her face and parted her lips, as any pubescent teen practices kissing in the mirror, .she held the scoop of the spoon to her mouth and wrapped her tongue around its dirty edges. Her eyes pressed tight knowing this moment couldn’t last forever she collected memories in her mind. The flavor of strawberry yogurt, foreign saliva and garbage all cataloged for reminiscing over in the privacy of her bedroom later .
Putting it deeper in her mouth she closed her lips over the white plastic spoon and tongued it as if it were his tongue. Withdrawing it, heavy with her spit, she gently grazed her face with it. Again her thighs tingled with that unknown achey tingle. She dragged the spoon down her face to her collar bone.
Another stall was abruptly occupied and she knew her date with the boy had to end… for now.
Now she has lots of that boy’s spoons. They are the roots of her desire, her lust and her want. Her obsessions.
She has them still, now, in totes, in her three room apartment twenty-two years later. She looks at the full totes and smiles from the thought of the first spoon. “What a silly girl I was” she thinks. She picks up her binoculars and watches her new love make coffee…..
The habit made its way into her life easily while he was away on what seemed to be a long vacation. His things were still left in his apartment in the dark of the night and the bright of the day. She missed something in his routine that would have revealed that he would be gone for any length of time.
Binoculars on her eyes at all hours of the day and night, save the few hours of sleep her body would force her into, left red rings and slight bruises on her high cheek bones. The pain of his absence was pain unlike anything. Worse than the ache for him, worse than the minor possibility that he would run late on occasion and routine would be disrupted. The pain required alleviation.
The habit. Ohhhh, yes the habit felt so good at the moment and would leave her feeling raw and unable to move. The habit tools were an exacto blade and a pair of tweezers. A steady hand was nice but not required. Going on day four of his vacancy and the steady hand was…well, not so steady.
The workstation had a light overhead for a shadowless effect. Bolted to the table was a length of leather strapping with a buckle to meet the two. The habit routine goes as follows:
Binoculars, collect tools from the sink in the bathroom from the last cleaning, binoculars, lay down the dark red blotched stained towel below the strapping. Check again with the binoculars…..
Now, see, she didn’t want to do it. She had to have the pain taken away for a moment though. So she checked often to make sure he was still gone. Just in case….
……lay left arm on the table, place wrist in strapping, buckle. Grit teeth. Grin madly…..Begin.
She didn’t mean for this to become the habit. She was cutting out pictures of him with her exacto blade….He’d been gone 8 hours. She tried to fill her time…..It hurts to miss someone you love so deeply….She was unfocused. She slipped. She skinned her forearm on the interior side three inches below her wrist about 2 inches long, half and inch wide. The blade was new and the fillet was superficial. It happened fast and the pain kicked in quick after but for that moment while she quizically stared at the pink flesh laying on the blood splattered worktable she felt…..amazing. It did the trick….It did the trick three times a day since that time.
Now she had a new collection on her table, 10 short strips of her flesh pinned and laid out to dry…a new fixation. Just till he returned. She promised she would stop once he returned. Really. She would.
It was mid-August and the dank studio, rife with the musk of trash and rank of drying flesh meshed well with the humid nasty heat…..But soon August would be over and soon he would return and soon the dog days of summer would be over.
The alarm. It was so loud. The elevator was deactivated so he headed for the stairs with a small crowd. All scrambling to find refuge on the ground, far away from the smoke and the fire and the eighth floor. Some of them pushing, some of them whimpering and grunting. It was flashes of memory looking back. He couldn’t decide if this was real or if the jet lag from his mini getaway was getting to him.
The alarm…..the group of escapees was growing in number each time they passed a level on the poorly lit back stair case. Babies were crying. Some people were yelling for help. One guy had a white Persian cat….Its hard to tell which of the two were more traumatized, the freaked out cat or the scratched to hell guy. The cadence of group’s feet became a cohesive beat as they all had the same goal in mind. To get to safety. To get out of the fiercely burning building.
He could hear the emergency responder’s sirens, and shouting from the outside of the building with each window he passed. The shock of the event left his tongue quieted and his eyes wide. Fight or flight. Nature versus nurture. Whatever the hell it was….it kept him in a state of shock. The alarm. The time was not passing by. Time was not moving. Why was it taking so long to get to the bottom? The smoke was filling the stairwell. The smoke was filling his lungs. His heavy panting from running and confusion allowing gulps of smoke to fill his every air sac.
Finally, a burst of a door and people were pouring out of the burning apartment building like water from a pitcher. Just flowing out like the water they all desperately needed. His eyes reached up to the sky to confirm that his confinement was over and that he had reached refuge under the sun in the the oxygenated wind currents created by the tall buildings.
Whether it was adrenaline overdose, excessive smoke inhalation or just plain old exhaustion. He passed out……”The alarms” he thought as consciousness left him…..”The alarms”.
And as soon as he burst through the door was about as quick as she was on him. The crowds. The smoke. The sirens. The fire. The alarms. A perfect storm. A calculated perfect storm.
She scooped him up under his arm, hauled his arm pit over her head and headed across the street. With much haste she made way for the elevator, key in hand. Her world, his world were moving so fast. The chaos and confusion that surrounded them stopped as soon as the elevator door slid closed. She buckled her knees hoping that his weight would hold on her for a little longer. And in that 24 second elevator ride she was brought back to that brief moment back in her school days. Back to that toilet seat, back to the spoon, back to her first rush of lust and love and obsession. The smell of him intoxicating, the curve of his lips where they met in the corners, the mess of hair falling in perfect cascades over his strong brows….Sucking in each detail and cataloging them in to her memory files.
The alarms……where were the alarms? Where was outside? He looked around and could tell that he had just exchanged one crisis for another. His feet and arms were bound…..and he could see her… She was hunched over at a desk pulling her own flesh from her forearm with a wild look he had only seen in movies…..He let out a breath a little too loud.
Her head jerked over in his direction. She smiled over to him. She smiled over to him in the way you smile at someone you‘ve known for a long time. A comfortable smile. “Good morning sweetheart……….”