When the Stars Landed in My Eyes

A falling star fell from your heart and landed in my eyes
I screamed aloud, as it tore through them, and now it’s left me blind

Last night, after I placed the cannula from my temporary oxygen machine in my nose, I laid back and placed my ear buds in my ears. It had been months since I’d enjoyed any kind of music because it seemed like every time I listened to it all I did was get pissed off or sad.

Tapping the touchscreen of my smart phone I selected Cosmic Love by Florence and The Machine. Letting the sound envelop me, I tried my best to slow my breathing, enjoy every nuance of every note, and feel every word wash over me. I needed to be taken under the waves and made clean, and I figured Flo singing about standing in the darkness listening to a heartbeat would push me through the abyss.

Then I heard your heart beating, you were in the darkness too,
So I stayed in the darkness with you,

At the utterance of these words, my body began to shudder. I wasn’t sure if it was from the steroids that I was tapering off from or the words that had finally hit me. Tears began to stream down my face and I wrapped my arms around my waist. I whispered into the air, ‘hold me, just hold me, I’ll be okay if you just hold me.’  I didn’t know who I was speaking to, but I didn’t want the experience to end.

Still shaking, I fingered my iPod to play Never Let Me Go. The tears continued, but with it came a sense of calm. Through the sounds of the oxygen machine, the fan, the music and my tears, I heard a crash. My old spirit was breaking free and I was on my way back to myself.

Finding the love of music again made me want to listen to more, but I forced myself to turn it off. I placed the phone beside my bed, rolled over and fell under the wave of sleep. I dreamed of Him, and fell even deeper into oblivion. I dreamed of the promise of him, and hoped that he was dreaming of me too.

Looking out from underneath,
Fractured moonlight on the sea
Reflections still look the same to me,
As before I went under.

And it’s peaceful in the deep,
Cause either way (Cathedral, where) you cannot breathe,
No need to pray, no need to speak
Now I am under, Oh.

And it’s breaking over me,
A thousand miles down (on)to the sea bed,
Found the place to rest my head.

Never let me go, never let me go.
Never let me go, never let me go
.

And the arms of the ocean are carrying me,
And all this devotion was rushing over (out of) me
,

And the crashes are heaven, for a sinner like me,
But the arms of the ocean deliver me.

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Shards of Glass

still-life-with-doug

 Copyright-Douglas McIlroy

After her latest hospitalization, Tricia isolated herself on an island where no one knew her.

While the ocean roared and licked her feet, she searched for colored shards of glass made smooth by tumbling waves. In her workshop she placed them in jars filled with water then sold them to tourists. Tricia was confounded by what rum soaked and perfect bodied folks would purchase while they laid in the sun.

Here, she remained sober and ‘off the grid’, but it didn’t stop her from thinking about her past life. She hoped they were okay without her. Actually, she hoped they were better than okay.

104 words/General Fiction (hell, I don’t know)

 

Thanks Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this exercise in discipline. It is a joy to work with you and have you comment on my work. Along with all of my other friends from Friday Fictioneers.

Readers, please check out the other stories found on Rochelle’s page. Thanks for stopping by.

Observations from “The Pier” by Jack Vettriano

The_Pier(H)-dcc39567-bfef-468c-a626-1e66ddd82c76-0-605x412

It was understood back then everybody needed a pier. Now there’s a perception of a value change. There’s a sensitivity to the scenic impacts of piers.-Don Lane

I’m seated in the gallery. My eyes focused on a painting by Vettriano entitled, The Pier. I’ve often wondered what the stories were for each of the subjects that he painted. The young lovers seated next to the solitary man. The lonely man gazing over the railing. The young girl in blue standing next to her father. The middle aged couple standing under the umbrella.

It’s funny how I can view an image and weave a story. Some folks think it’s a talent. Some think it’s me being arrogant. Like I know that I write well. For me it isn’t either of those things. I see the image and there’s a flash of clarity. A knowing. It’s not always a good story. Nor should it be. There’s a darkness to this talent of mine. A sadness that seeps into my chest. No one can remove it, but me. It escapes when I write.

I withdraw my notebook and pen from my purse. I stare intently at the older couple standing under the umbrella. My mind wanders to the pier. I’m standing at the railing with the lonely man. I take into my nostrils the tang of the salt water. Hear the squawk of the seagulls. See the waves lap the shore. I’m in my element. At home. My pen starts before I realize what I’m writing….

The lady and gentleman stand under the umbrella. Not touching. But there’s an intimacy in the way he shields her from the heat of the day. He looks at her and envisions the young woman he married 15 years before. She turns to him and gives him a knowing smile. That’s the nicety of being with someone for so long. The familiarity. They came to the pier that day to walk and soak up the sun. There was the shared hot dog and cotton candy too. The ride in the rickshaw. Holding hands while walking in and out of shops. They bought nothing. Only talked about what items would look pretty in their seaside home. They’re childless after so many years together, but they have each other. That’s all that matters. He wishes he didn’t have to hold the umbrella. He wishes they were at home. In bed. Sharing wine, chocolate and kisses.

Remember I told you, I’m standing next to the lonely man at the railing. I turn to look at him as he stares out into the wide open. There’s a crashing of waves in his eyes. A storm. There’s no serenity in the seascape for him. He’s thinking of the job he lost. The wife that’s no longer waiting for him at home. He knows his next double shot of whiskey will bring him no solace. He wants to end it all. Walk into the ocean and drown. Like Sylvia Plath. Stones in his pockets. The end.

The young girl in blue stands with her father. She wants to be any place but here. Actually, she wants to be with her sweetheart. They had shared their first kiss a few days before. She’s still preoccupied with the softness of his lips. The way they bumped noses trying to figure out which way to turn their heads. Where to put their hands. The tingling sensation that surged through them as they brushed tongues. Daddy is asking her about school. She answers automatically, “It’s fine. Everything is fine.” She smiles at him. He sees his little girl growing up before his eyes. She’ll be going away to college in two years. He’ll be lost without her. Even though she grows away from him, he loves her more with each passing day. Also, he knows about the first kiss from her sweetheart. It makes him happy, but wistful.

The old man is sitting on the bench next to the young couple. He thinks back to the day when the love of his life died. He lost all hope for living when he put her in the ground. His children are there for him. Take care of his bills. The housework. Bring the grand kids to see him too. They try to make it not seem like an obligation. Like they love him and want to be with him. He knows better though. They have their own lives to live. He wishes they would do just that and leave him alone. His mind wanders back to a pleasant memory of his wife. 40 years before, they’d walked the pier. Hand in hand. Her hair up in a bun with a few tendrils escaping the clasp that she had used to keep her hair in place. He bought her some popcorn. They shared the bag and smiled at each other when their fingers touched. He licked the salt from her fingers, and the blush that rose to her cheeks made a stirring in his loins. How he missed that feeling. How much he missed that beautiful wife of his. And how he longed for his death, so he could be with her again. For eternity.

Ah now it’s time to tell the story of the young couple. Not even a breath of air gets between them.  His arm is around her. Her hands, on his chest. It is sweltering, but the lovers pay no mind. They continue to touch each other. Sharing a sip of soda to cool their lips in between sweet kisses. She lays her head on his shoulder. He caresses her side and kisses her forehead. They gaze out at the ocean. Hear the roar of the surf. The crest of the waves surge, like their need for each other. How he wants to take her right where they are. On a bench in the middle of a crowded pier. She would allow him to, for she wants him also. Her dress billows in the wind caused by the surf. The young woman turns her head, and whispers, “take me home, and make love to me.” He answers yes, by lifting her delicate hand to his mouth. He licks the tips of her fingers.

I back away from the railing and once again find myself seated on the bench in front of the painting. My eyes open and notice my notebook bears the scribbles of the story I just penned. It’s funny, I barely remember writing anything. I thought I was standing next to the lonely man at the railing on “The Pier”. I place the items in my hands back in my purse. I get up to leave the gallery. It’s then that I notice hanging on the wall close by is, The Singing Butler by Vettriano. I head to the gift shop to buy the print. I always wanted to have a copy of it for my home.

A Typical Wedding on a Typical Day in Key West

RogandMeg

ChrisandMeg

I look up to see Meg’s smiling face. She’s standing next to her father. They are arm in arm. She’s beaming; radiant. The sun hits her hair and it appears that it has been set fire. Roger is smiling ear to ear. In the background I can hear Matthew playing guitar and singing Edelweiss. For just a moment, I’m thrust back in time. I see her as she used to be. Three years old, cuter than a bug’s ear, and struggling to get her hand out of her father’s grip. Tears form in the corners of my eyes. My throat closes as I struggle to hold  back tears. This is a happy day. Even with all the little stresses that have come with it.

I see her as our little Cindy Lou Who from Whoville. A girl with a tiny nose. It was so small, her little sunglasses would slide off of her face. She is so much like me, but she isn’t. She’s all woman. Brilliance, beauty, brains, and talent. I couldn’t be more proud of her. She and her father walk past me while Matt plays the song that bonded her to the first man in her life. As they pass me, I fall in line behind them. I look up at her fiance Chris. His eyes are brimming over with love. I’ve never seen anyone look at her like that. He truly does love her with everything he has. He’s a good man. First of all because he loves her. Secondly, because he loves her. Thirdly, because he loves her. That’s all we need to know. It’s all we’ve ever wanted.

I stand back and watch Roger give her away to Chris. He leaves Meg’s side and comes to stand next to me. He whispers, “Today is perfect. This is perfect.” He kisses me. I squeeze his hand, giggle ridiculously, and tell him, “I agree completely.” We hold hands during the ceremony. On a beach in Key West. Just like she wanted. I’m telling you, that girl always gets what she wants. The ceremony was perfect. The company was perfect. We had sand in our toes and the taste of the ocean on our lips. They exchange vows, smiles and rings. I reach for my momma’s hand and squeeze it. I finally knew how she felt the day I got married to Roger Darling. It was letting go, but it wasn’t. It was building a new family. A new life. For our Meg and Chris. For all of us.

I Can Fly, I Can Fly, I Can Fly

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.”
― J.M. BarriePeter Pan

There I stood at the edge of the cliff. I readied myself for the next step. I timidly placed my left foot over the edge, then drew it back. I wasn’t sure if I could do this. I wasn’t sure if I could fly. I prayed for it, but I was still afraid. I can see the beauty of the sky in front of me. The clouds look like cotton candy. I want so badly to fly through them, open my mouth and give them a taste. Are they sweet? Are they bitter? Are they just vapor and as tasteless as water? The colors of the sunrise are grand, the coral pink, the beryl blue, and titan orange. I want to fly closer to the sun. Feel the warmth on my skin. I want to fly and feel free.

I look down and gaze at the sea below. I can hear the roar of the waves as they crash over and over on the rocks. The sound is exhilarating and makes the tiny hairs on the back of my neck erect. My body vibrates with excitement. A smile crosses my lips and I know that I’m ready. I put my left foot forward and feel nothing but air beneath me. Then I place the right foot next to the left one. I am standing on air, and feel nothing but elation. I raise my arms up and feel myself move further away from the side of the cliff. My wings, they protrude from my back. They are like those of an angel. Alabaster, immense, and dazzlingly beautiful. Yet they are lightweight.

My clothing changes to a gauzy purple gown. Light and as beautiful as my wings.  My wings spread and I ascend. I can’t believe how free I feel. How this flying feels like second nature. All it took was a little pixie dust and faith. The belief that I could fly. I move close to the pink cloud, look behind me and see that the cliff is miles away. I feel no fear.  My wings as they flutter, move me closer to that glorious cloud. I finally hover within it, grab a piece and place the fluffy goodness in my mouth. The burst of sugary sweetness is so overpowering it knocks me backward. All the better to see the blue of the sky and feel the warmth of  the rising sun. I can still taste the sugar of the cloud in my mouth. I’m smiling as I lay on my back and fly like I’m doing the backstroke.

This is my ocean. I can see all the way to the bottom and I feel no fear. I turn over on my stomach, flap my wings and fly closer to the orange of the sun. As I fly, I think of the quote from Peter Pan, “Second star to the right and straight on till morning.”  Will I find Neverland? Will Tink share her pixie dust? Hmmm, once I get to my destination, we’ll see.