Thursday, 31 May 2018

Freinds

By James Bates 


Licorice Spice Tea


Dave was sprawled on the couch watching the evening news when an incoming text beeped. He glanced at it and sighed, "Shit, JT, what the hell?" He set his phone down without looking at the message. "Man, just give me a moment to myself," he was thinking, "Just let me chill and unwind a bit."
            He'd been home for half an hour, had showered, put on some clean clothes and fixed a plate of fruit: a sliced up honeycrisp apple, a hand full of red seedless grapes and a little chunk of havarti cheese. All he wanted was to chill a little; hang out and relax. He was beat. He had just finished a ten hour shift as what his boss called a sous chef at a local restaurant. Right. Dave grimaced when he thought about his job, because he was under no illusions whatsoever about the work he did; what he did food prep and that was that. Pure and simple. Any idiot could do it. The fact that The Egg and I was a locally sourced, natural foods eatery that regularly made the top ten list for places to eat in the Twin Cities didn't hide that fact, not one little bit. At least to Dave, anyway.
            But, he didn't mind. He liked the work. Liked that he made enough money for he and JT to rent the one bedroom apartment in the hundred year old brown stone on Emerson Avenue in an older neighborhood of Minneapolis. Liked that he was close enough so he could walk to work in ten minutes and not have to drive his old Ford Fiesta. Liked that he could help pay the bills. (JT made good wages working for Gibertson's Environmental Services, cleaning high rise office buildings in downtown Minneapolis late at night.) He liked that he could even save some money so maybe he could go to college one day; if he ever decided he wanted to.
            But for now...now he had to deal with JT. He fired up his water pipe and took a hit of Raspberry Crush, pulling the smoke down deep into his lungs and savoring it as he reached for his phone, "Let's see what the guy's up to."
            He read the text. It was short and sweet. Well not all that sweet. What it said was a cryptic, "Come get me."
            What the hell was going on now? Dave knew JT had had the day and the night off. He knew his friend was going to ride his fat tire bike somewhere. But it was the middle of winter and cold out for christ's sake. How far could he have gone?
            Dave looked out the window. Their apartment was on the third floor of the three story building. It was in the middle of the block, right across from a street light. Through the bright illumination he could make out the snow flurries that had begun to falling earlier in the day. It was beginning to snow harder, now, showing no sign of letting up.
            Damn.
            "What's up?" he texted back.
            "At RR. Need ride."
            Well, for double christ's sake. RR was the Red Rooster, a bar in Long Lake. It was the bar Dave and JT would sometimes stop at when they rode their bicycles from Minneapolis to the little town, twenty miles to the west. It was an area of woods and fields in western Hennepin County known for its well kept bike trails. They enjoyed going fat tire riding on those trails. Liked it a lot. But that was during the summer (or spring or fall, for that matter), not in the middle of February. Not in the middle of winter. Not with a foot of snow on the ground and more on the way. What the hell had JT been thinking?
            Well, Dave had a guess. JT had developed a thing for the bartender out there. A serious infatuation. At least he had last Christmas when the weather had been mild and they'd both ridden out to check on the trails. On the way home they'd stopped at the Rooster. The bartender was a handsome guy named Jeff and JT had immediately been drawn to him. In fact, he'd stayed drawn to him even though he'd never once been back to the bar to see him. JT liked to imagine the best when it came to relationships, instead of taking steps to show the person how he felt - imagine being the operative word here. He liked to pretend that whomever he'd fallen for was going to reciprocate his feelings. The way Dave saw it, it was easier for JT to just play the game in his head rather than act on his feelings. Except for now. Now, apparently his friend had decided to follow his heart and take things a step further. Yep, the more Dave thought about it, the more he figured that, yeah, that's exactly what JT had done.
            "Jeff?" Dave texted back.
            "No. Jeff's gone. Marybeth."
            Dave sighed. Jesus. When it came to infatuations, JT was an equal opportunity kind of guy. A good looking man or a good looking woman, it didn't matter. If there was a spark that JT felt, that's all it would take. Next stop, Love City.
            Dave and JT had been friends for almost their entire lives, having met back in grade school in Miss Whipholt's third grade class. Back then parents and teachers called the two boys introverted and socially awkward. Labels notwithstanding, Dave and JT only knew they preferred to not be around a lot of other people. They bonded over a love of bicycles and bike riding. Over time, their small coaster brake Huffys evolved to trek dirt bikes, diamond back mountain bikes and Schwinn fifteen speed racers, until finally, now, to each of them owning a treasured Raleigh Pardner fat tire bicycle. Riding bikes was a pleasant, solitary activity, something they could do alone or together. As the years passed, they did it together, more often than not.
            Now in their mid twenties, they were still friends, close friends, best of friends, in fact. Close enough that Dave texted back, "What a bunch of BS."
            Apparently unperturbed by Dave's response, JT responded with a smiley face. Then, after a short pause, another text pleading, "Come get me?" and another smiley face.
            Jesus.
            Dave could see it now. JT had ridden his bike out to the Red Rooster on his day off, thinking he'd be able to make it with Jeff. Jeff had been gone. Who knows, quit maybe; maybe even hiding in the back room, but gone nevertheless. So JT strikes up a conversation with Marybeth, a new bartender, and one thing leads to another. It gets to be make it or break it time and MB informs JT that she's not interested. Maybe she has a boyfriend. Maybe a girlfriend. Whatever...The point is, she's not interested. JT starts drinking and time goes by. It starts snowing. He's getting drunk. Suddenly he realizes he can barely stand, let along ride a bike all the way back to Minneapolis. So what's he do? He sends a text to his pal. His good buddy. Good old Dave.
            Dave sat back on the couch and glanced at the television. Colbert was just coming on. He watched for a minute or so and laughed once or twice at some jokes made at the expense of the current president. Colbert was really pretty funny sometimes.
            Beep. Another text. "U coming?"
            Dave lit up the pipe and took another hit. He looked around the living room, the main room of the apartment. It might not have a lot of furniture but that was all right. He slept on the couch he was now sitting on, JT had the bedroom. There was also a small bathroom and a tiny, galley kitchen. It wasn't the biggest space in the world, but the price was right and it worked for them. And it was clean. They both made sure of that. No one said that just because you were a guy in your twenty's you had to be a slob. Both he and JT liked to keep their place neat and tidy and looking good. And it was.
            On the table across from him was the television. Next to it was a red lava lamp with a gold base they'd bought together over three years earlier when they'd first moved in; a kind of housewarming gift to themselves. Dave watched the red mass bubble away for a few seconds and then got to his feet. He turned off Colbert, picked up his plate, went to the kitchen and washed it. Then he took out a stick of sandalwood incense, put it in its holder and set it carefully in the base of the aluminum kitchen sink. It'd be safe there. Then he lit it. JT would like the aroma when he came in.
            He picked up his phone and texted, "On my way. B there in 45."
            He put on his boots, winter jacket and wood cap before grabbing his car keys. He locked the apartment and made his way downstairs to the parking lot where his old Ford Fiesta was parked. He started the engine and turned on the heater. While the car warmed up he took his brush and stepped outside to clean off the snow. It felt like the temperature was around ten degrees. What the hell had JT been thinking, riding out to Long Lake today? Twenty miles in the winter. Man...Dave shook his head, fighting back a grin. What a crazy guy.
            When the snow was removed, he got back inside. The warmth from the heater felt good. Some of the snow on the sleeve of his jacket started to melt. He put the car in reverse and backed up. It usually took about thirty minutes to drive out to Long Lake, but what with the snow and all on a night like tonight it'd definitely take longer. That was okay. It'd be good to see JT. He'd been kind of been missing the guy.
            Just before he pulled out of the lot his phone beeped. Dave stopped and checked it. JT had sent a message: a smiley face and a thumbs up emoji.
            Dave texted a smiley face back.
            Then he put the car in gear and headed out into the snowy winter's night. Yeah, it'd be good to see JT. It'd be nice to see his friend.

About the author

I have been writing for a number of years: haiku, poetry, short and long fiction. In addition to CafeLit, my stories can be found posted on my website: www.theviewfromlonglake.wordpress.com

 

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

The Circle of Life

By Ann Dixon 

flat champagne 


 Money has always come readily to me. As an investment banker, I had what people often referred to as 'the luck of the devil.' I also played the stock market and lady luck  was, it seems, my constant guide and companion. BUT! As the old saying goes, ' Lucky in business - unlucky in love,' and this was certainly so in my case.

      I married young. Helen was the beautiful, blue eyed girl of my dreams and when we tied the knot, a whole raft of manhood sighed,  wrung their hands and wailed morosely.

The first few years of our marriage were sheer bliss but as Helen climbed the greasy pole of media management and I played 'he who dares' on the stock market, our lives slowly and irrevocably drifted apart. Socializing became an endless round of champagne breakfasts and business meetings cunningly disguised as cocktail parties. Looking back we didn't really stand a chance. Marriage, and the ever increasing demands of work, were a sure fire recipe for marital collapse.

      Helen and I went our separate ways three years ago now. We had pots of cash safely ferreted away in a Swiss bank account. With some  the money Helen set up her own advertising company. I, eager to escape the rat race for a while, bought a small island off the coast of Ecuador.

      My only companions on the island was my dog Gyp and Darwin Escaltza, a jovial and somewhat portly naturalist. When he wasn't showing tourists the wonders of the  Galapagos Islands, he was either teaching in the University of Quito, lazing on his own island of Bernita or swilling ice cold lager on my porch. Life was good and my considerable bank account enabled me to live on my island in consummate ease and luxury.

      I remember one particular day, standing on a spit of orange brown rock that jutted out to sea. It was one of those perfect days that lingers in the memory. The air was heavy with the scent of Jasmine. All was quiet save for the occasional cry of the flightless cormorants nestling in the shade of narrow crevices. Out at sea Black Noddies skimmed the waves at breakneck speed, a pod of dolphins frolicked mischievously, twisting and turning in a wild joyous competition. Right next to me, lazy Sea Lions basked in the shade of overhanging ledges, saving their energies for the rigours of night hunting. Overhead Mocking Birds flitted to and fro from bush to bush, bringing back precious twigs for their designer nests and crickets jumped from leaf to leaf in their secret low level world. This idyllic picture was completed as two graceful turtles, swimming in the shallows, raised their heads momentarily before descending into the shimmering depths. Right there and then I thought that life could not be better. Suddenly a tiny iguana scuttled over my foot and brought me back to reality. Life on my island was indeed blissful and yet hardly a day passed when I did not think of my beautiful wife. With Helen at my side I was convinced that a great life, could become a perfect life. There was no denying it; I missed Helen like crazy and the thought of her so far away made my heart ache.

      For many months life trickled by in a golden haze of reverie, until one evening in May my peaceful, quiet, existence was turned topsy-turvy. Hurricane Henry came raging into the South Pacific ocean and decided to pay me a visit. Prior to Henry, I had always been fascinated by hurricanes, seeing them as exciting and thrilling creatures of nature. I was foolishly not prepared for the complete devastation and destruction that Henry would inflict on my island home..

      On that fateful night the wind began to build and I guessed that I was in for a humdinger of a tropical storm. I gathered together some essential supplies, turned off the generator and headed down to the basement. Among other things, I had installed a triple glazed safety window so that I could, in an emergency such as this, keep an eye on anything happening above ground.
       
       As the day slipped into midnight black, I knew that things could only  get worse. Gyp padded too and fro whining softly. He too could feel the air pressure dropping and hear the howling of the wind. We sat there we listening to the house creaking and whimpering and the doors clattering. Then came the rain. Hard and fierce at first battering its fists against the walls and windows. By the time the full force of the storm hit us, the rain was travelling horizontally and an angry wind was bending the trees almost to the ground. Every time a gust hit, it shrieked and wailed, and the house groaned and moaned against the relentless onslaught. Even though I knew the house was incredibly strong and brick built to the very highest quality, I worried that the roof would not hold. I had visions that when the storm moved on, I would find the roof in tatters and strewn about the bedrooms.

      Slowly and irrevocably the storm worsened. Then, as a particularly strong gust of wind battered the ever weakening structure of my home, I heard it cry out, as if in terror. The ceiling shuddered and shrieked. Gyp yelped as a small lump of plaster fell onto his legs. I knew at this point that we would have to leave the basement and brave the raging monster that was Henry. Holding Gyp in my arms I headed up to the kitchen. Already my home was in tatters. For a few moments I stared  open mouthed at the wreckage. The roof had indeed been blown off and all that remained of the bedroom ceiling was a few joists. The furniture was mangled and broken and some of it had lodged in the nearby trees. Initially I stood there, rooted to the spot. Gyp began to struggle in my arms and  reality kicked in.

      The rain was cold and hard and stung my face. I fumbled into my rucksack and brought out my high powered lamp. Leaning against the gale force wind, I pointed the lamp towards the path that lead to Carris Cavern. At least Gyp and I would be safe up there but the way up was steep and rocky and with Hurricane Henry dogging our way, we were exceedingly lucky to reach the safety of its open arms. I slept fitfully, dreaming of Helen. For sure, life had been good to me but I would have given away every penny I owned to look once more into her deep blue eyes and feel the warmth of her body next to mine.

      Come the morning all was quiet and still. I woke Gyp and we tentatively made our way back to the remains of the house. It was such a sorry sight.
The skeletal remains looked forlorn, as a fighter might, who had just lost a title fight. The island had fared no better. On the sand palms lay motionless, their bodies snapped clean in two. The shoreline was littered with flotsam and jetsam. Delicate green-blue plants were flattened by huge boulders, thrown by the mighty hand of Hurricane Henry. Even the lazy Iguanas usually found basking in family groups in quiet pools, now meandered about aimlessly, unsure of what to do or where to go. Ignoring the devastation I walked over to generator housing where I kept a transmitter. I tapped out the statutory s o s signal and waited to be rescued.

      When help finally arrived it came in the guise of Darwin in a naval launch. As there was now no jetty, the boat anchored in Sandy Bay. A dinghy was launched and as I peered out to sea I noticed a woman step aboard. It was her. My brain did a double take and my heart danced the jitterbug. Once ashore she raced towards me and flung her cold wet arms around my neck. "Jake! Oh my god Jake I thought you might be dead." She cried.
      "No way Babe," I retorted. "No hurricane could ever get the better of Jake Dempsey."

Needless to say, the reunion was glorious. I was in seventh heaven. It was as if we had never been apart. I gazed into her azure blue eyes and held her close. At long last I felt complete. Then, from the corner of my eye I glanced up at Darwin. He sauntered up and gave a short embarrassed cough - my bubble of joy slowly faded into the warm  Pacific air.
        Later that day,  I salvaged the remnants of my island life and stowed them aboard the launch. I bid my island adieu and with Helen at my side, we headed for the mainland. From there, we flew to the safety of a hotel room in Quito. We were decidedly pleased to note it had an ample king sized bed. The rest as you say - is history.         

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

The Payback

By Foster Trecost

home made lemonade


My pace is about right for someone my age and it takes forty-five minutes to get there; used to take less. Gone are youthful scoots down the sidewalk. These days, kids scoot past me. I hope they don't mind. I never did, but I never came across anyone with a chair strapped to his back.
            My mother always brightens when I walk into her room, then a sallow nature overtakes the short-lived smile. It's as if she expects someone else, and disappointment sets in when she sees it's only me. Truth is, it could only be me. More truth: she doesn't even know me.
            I sit next to the bed and cover her hands with mine. Her bones are brittle, so I'm careful. Her skin reminds me of late fall leaves, and I massage her hands with lotion, then move on to her hair. I'm no stylist, but by the time I finish, it looks pretty good. She used to lick her fingers to smooth unruly patches of my hair and sometimes I do that to her, but not often.
            I tell her stories of when we were all together. I confess to inventing a few, but mostly they're the same stories I've told before. Still, I tell them as if for the first time and she listens like she's hearing them for the first time. On occasion I get the smile that greeted me, but mostly she just nods.
            After lunch I make tea with water barely warm enough to steep, but she doesn't seem to mind. She sips and I sip, and the tea is gone within a few minutes. Things that once took longer now pass with a quickness never known before.
            I kiss her forehead and say I'll be back tomorrow. She has no concept of tomorrow, but I say it anyway, and when I walk in she'll smile like she knows me. And for those few seconds I believe she does. I strap the chair to my back and leave.
            The walk home takes more than forty-five minutes because I'm tired. The kids continue to scoot past and I smile and remember, thankful I still have memories. Then one stops and asks me what's with the chair. I'm not sure how to answer, though I know the answer: for many years this chair bore my weight. Now that it no longer can, I bear the weight of the chair. But I don't say that. Instead I tell him at my age, one never knows when a rest is needed and it's nice to have a place to sit just in case.
            The answer satisfies him, but not me. I should tell the truth.

About the author 

Foster Trecost writes stories that are mostly made up. They tend to follow his attention span: sometimes short, sometimes very short. He lives in New Orleans.










Monday, 28 May 2018

The Fox's Tale

By William Edgar

 red wine


    Let me introduce myself my name is Frederick Fox and I live in a hole in the ground with my wife Freda, my two daughters Fee and Fan and my son Foxy. I had another son Felix who was murdered by the fox hounds it was the most horrible day of my life.
    I spend all of my time trying to feed myself and my family. I catch rabbits and a few crows and just about anything we can eat. I sometimes steal a chicken from a farmyard or even a lamb if I can get one but you have to know the tricks. One trick I have is watch a mother sheep give birth to a lamb and if she starts giving birth to a second lamb grab the first one when she is not looking. New born lamb is very tasty and the farmer does not know if there ever were two lambs.
    My biggest enemy is the fox hounds it was supposed to be banned but it never stopped. The leader of the fox hounds is a fat farmer and I do not like him. When they killed my son Felix he cut off his tail and held it up in his hand and all the other blood thirsty hunters cheered. It was horrible the most disgusting thing that I have ever seen. I do not like the hunt and I do not like the fat farmer. I wish I could put a dozen mice in the fat farmers bed.
    One night I went to the fat farmers farm to get a chicken and a dog started to bark and the next thing I knew the fat farmer opened a door and let about twenty blood hounds after me. I had to run for my life they were on my tail howling as they chased me and I very luckily ran into a ditch that had flowing water running down it. The good thing about a ditch that is running water is that the hounds can not follow your scent in water so I got away and the hounds stopped and then the fat farmer blew his horn to tell the hounds to go home.
    I don't know why human beings hunt us foxes we don't we just feed our families it is not stealing when it is necessary and I don't understand human beings they have a thing called money it looks like litter and they are prepared to fight each other and kill each other to get it. Where is the sense in that? 
    About two weeks ago I could hear the hunt in a wood not far from where I live so I thought if the fat farmer was with the hunt it would be a good time for me to go to his farm farm and bag myself a couple of his chickens so I told Freda and the cubs where I was going and they said not to go but I said I was going ant they told me to be careful and I went to the fat farmers farm and saw some lovely white lambs in a field but they were to big for me to catch and carry so I got myself two chickens when fatty was away and they tasted very nice. Should I say thank you fatty I don't think so.
    That evening after we had eaten Fee said she could hear some guns going bang not far from our den. We went to investigate and the fat farmer and another man were shooting ducks with a big black dog running and getting them after they were shot. There were two ducks fell out of the sky not far from Fee and me and as the black dog was getting one duck Fee ran out and got the other one. I told Fee she should not have ran out like that because if they had seen her they would have shot her. Fee laughed and said they didn't see her so we lay down low under the bush and watched and then the black dog looked at us and barked and the fat farmer fired his gun into the bush above our heads and scared the living daylights out of us both so we made a run for it taking the duck that Fee got with us.
    A week ago I was looking for food and as I went through a gateway I got a shock to see about a dozen fox hounds straight in front of me. I turned and ran and the hounds saw me and chased after me. I ran onto a track and there was another dozen fox hounds there so I had to turn up a hill and head for the village. Both groups of hounds were running after me and I was running for my life and as I got to the houses there was a long wall in front of me. I thought it was my dying day and then a dear old lady opened a door in the wall and shouted this way mister fox. I ran through the doorway and the dear old lady closed the door behind me. The hounds were howling as I ran away up the road. That was close I thought my time had come and I bet the fat farmer was angry that I got away it is my dread that someday he will cut my tail off and hold it high and get cheered by his blood thirsty fellow hunts men.
    When I got back home Fee said that when the fat farmer was chasing me she went to his place and caught his big fat rooster and we all had a good supper that night and then cuddled up together for a good nights sleep and Fee started to laugh and I said why are you laughing and she said wouldn't it be funny if fatty was going to have that rooster for his Christmas dinner and we all laughed and had a good nights sleep.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Welcome to the Machine

by Boris Glikman

spring water

A young man, in the full flower of his youth, comes across extremely lengthy, complicated and abstruse instructions on how to construct an apparatus of some kind. He becomes intrigued and then obsessed by these instructions and devotes all of his hours to the building of this contraption, the function and purpose of which he is completely ignorant and wants desperately to discover.  

Years go by as he struggles to comprehend and to painstakingly follow each step of the seemingly endless instructions. So engrossed is he in his task, he is not at all concerned with the passing of time. 

He is convinced that once the machine is completed, all of the work and the time he had put into it will be retrospectively justified and his life will gain the meaning it presently lacks.

Sometimes, as a reward for a day's hard labour, the man allows his imagination to run free and in his mind's eye all sorts of wondrous scenarios begin to materialise: the apparatus turns out to be a vehicle capable of travelling faster than light, or it can be used to visit the Afterworld, or access parallel Universes, or a device that will enable him to change the past, or grant him immortality, or even a genie lamp that will fulfil his every wish. Perhaps it might even turn out to be a machine that will allow him to access physically and logically impossible worlds, such as a world in which black is white, 1= 0, lies are truth, and life is death.

Occasionally, the man's resolve wavers momentarily and he is overcome by fundamental doubts as to what he is doing. Was he always destined to discover the instructions for the apparatus, or was it merely by chance that he came across them? Was it a blessing or a curse for him to have found them? Are others constructing their own machines too or is he the only one? What if, so as not to confront the senselessness and emptiness of his own existence, he is merely preoccupying himself with meaningless work that will never eventuate in anything, or that will result in the construction of some mundane, insignificant thing? 

Other times he wonders if perhaps the machine is just a metaphorical entity, and he is merely a character in an allegorical parable that endeavours to convey, through his actions, some essential deep truth about existence—a truth he himself is, alas, blind to and can not comprehend. 

Over the years his hands grow less dexterous, his vision loses its acuity, his back becomes less supple, his mind declines. Tasks that previously required almost no physical and mental effort now demand his full attention and strength, leaving him  exhausted. 

And so, after the long and arduous period of construction, the final component is ready to be put into its place. The only thing left to do is to fasten it with the last nut and bolt and the apparatus will be complete. As he is doing so, the man is captivated by the overpowering allure that seems to radiate from the finished structure. He envisages himself never leaving its side, so that he can gaze forever upon its breathtaking beauty. 

It is then he realises that he is now living out the final moments of his mortal existence. As his vision grows dim, he sees that the machine he had spent all of his life building looks like the ideal resting place and that nothing else remains for him to do but to place himself in it for all eternity. 
 

About the author 

BORIS GLIKMAN is a writer, poet and philosopher from Melbourne, Australia. The biggest influences on his writing are dreams, Kafka, Dali and Borges. His stories, poems
and non-fiction articles have been published in various online and print publications, as well as being featured on national radio and other radio 
programs.





Saturday, 26 May 2018

Sound and Light

by Jesus C. Deytiquez

new wine 

I was in an airport. I was holding with my shaking right hand, a ticket to another country. I waited for so long for that moment. I worked very hard to earn enough money to follow her in that country. Everything was like a dream, and like a sleepwalker, I walked and managed to get inside the airplane. I sat and waited. And soon we were off the ground, among and then above the clouds. 

The day was just dawning when we landed. As soon as I got out of the airport, I sent her a message, telling her that I already arrived. She replied that she will wait for me by the fountain of a particular park. I hailed a taxi and told the driver to take me to that place. 

It was not that hard for me to meet her right after that flight. The trip was short, and my luggage was light, for even if I want to spend more time with her, I saw that my money will not be enough. The joy of meeting her once again is greater than any burden. A moment with her, no matter how short, will be always enough. 

I was carried by the taxi through the city. Everything was new to me. I imagined her walking through those streets alone for countless of time. At length, the taxi reached the park. I started to walk towards its center. My heart was pounding. For four years I never met the girl waiting for me by the fountain in the middle of that park.

There she was, like an angel of beauty dressed in white. I cannot help but smile when I saw her again. She still has the eyes as starry as the night sky, the hair as black as the darkest evening, the skin as white as snow, and lips as red as a delicate mountain rose.  

She was the only one I saw. Everything and everyone seemed to disappear from my sight during that moment. She smiled at me. She stood up and then slowly walked towards me. She then hugged me like a long-lost friend, and I thought my heart would break with happiness. I held back the tears of unspeakable joy welling up in my eyes. 

We sat on one of the numerous benches of that park. We talked about many things. And after some time, I asked her to go with me to a mall, and maybe grab some coffee there. She said yes and showed me the way. 

We continued our conversation in a coffee shop inside that mall she led me to. She was still as funny, innocent, mild, and smart as before. At length, I took a book out of my bag. It contained the stories and poems that I wrote. They are about the moments we shared in a mountain city of the land of my birth, while we were still students in a university there. Some of those stories and poems won or was published, and the prizes or money that I got from them was added to the fund that I saved in order to meet her. I gave the book to her, but told her not to open it until she returned home. She did not know that I love her. She did not know what I went through for us to meet again. She thanked me and took the book. And after we finished our coffee, I then asked her to walk with me through that mall.
I saw a shop selling musical instruments. It was what I was looking for during that time. I asked her to accompany me inside it, and in it I saw and took a ukulele. I found that it was tuned well. And I started to produce a song from it along with my voice; it was the song “Kiss me Slowly” by Parachute, a song that I longed to serenade her with when we meet once more. 

All the time, I was looking at her twinkling eyes. 

“Can you still remember my beloved?” I thought back then. “How we used to sing a different song about longing and cold summer nights before? Now, after a thousand of those cold summer nights, let me speak to your heart with these borrowed words and melodies, with my borrowed time.” 

She was smiling at me the whole time. 

After that, we returned and walked again through the park. But this time, we were both silent. It was as if words were not needed anymore. Speech was silver, and silence was gold. And soon came the moment that we needed to say farewell already for the sun was already dying. 

“Can you promise me, that you will read that book?” I asked her.

“I will,” she replied with the sweetest of smiles. 

“Thank you.”
A dead, yellow leaf from a tree that overshadows us fluttered and descended between us. A light rain poured and drowned the tragic silence. 

“Until we meet again.” 

“Yeah, until we meet again.”

And I started to walk away. I looked back and saw her standing still, looking at me with a twinkle and a tear in her eye. 

I felt a warm, wet fluid flow from my eye to my cheek. 

It woke me. 

I found out that everything was a dream. But that could not make me sad. Instead, I smiled as I saw the dawn breaking. A sunset may be the morning of another place. A fall may raise the other. A dream may lead to wakefulness. I know that I shall meet her again, someday, somewhere, somehow. I have that mysterious hope inside my heart. And I know also, as true as a promise made by someone who cannot and will never lie nor betray, that everything, will be alright in the end.

About the author

Jesus or Jessie is a youth from a rustic province in the Philippines. He enjoys the beauty of nature and literature there but still he longs for something or someone beyond. He now writes stories in order to meet his beloved.
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Friday, 25 May 2018

Halo




by THOMAS J. MISURACA

 sweet wine

Everybody loved Roberta Swanson, but hated her husband Albert. She was a darling old woman who would do anything for you; he was a miserable old man who never had anything nice to say. If you told Albert it was a nice day, he’d reply, “Yeah, but it’ll probably rain tomorrow.” If it was raining, Roberta would say, “But the sun is shining behind those clouds.”
When Roberta met Albert, he was already what she called “a lovable curmudgeon”. He professed his dislike for other people, yet Roberta was the only person who didn't annoy him. Ever. He was quick to pop the question, knowing he’d never find another woman he could tolerate and vice versa. Roberta saw something in Albert that nobody else saw, so she was quick to accept. They built a life together and raised three respectable children who endeavored to be more like their mother than their father.
Those children now had children of their own and the Swansons found themselves in the role of grandparents. Roberta loved baking cookies for her grandchildren’s visits. Albert would eat most of them before the kids got there, but Roberta always hid an extra dozen.
Roberta dressed well every day of her life. Even for a day at home, she wore a nice outfit with some tasteful costume jewelry. “Why bother?” Albert asked her once. “It feels good to dress up,” she told him. Albert spent most of his time in loose-fitting slacks and stained t-shirts.
Every night, Roberta sat before he vanity mirror, removed all her jewelry, placed it in a gold-trimmed music box that Albert gave her for their first anniversary, and began her beauty treatment. This irritated Albert, who’d bark, “It’s not like you’re meeting anybody tonight.”
Albert barely slept anymore, while Roberta snored through the night. He got out of bed in the early hours of the morning and read the paper in the den. One night, he couldn’t find his reading glasses.
Roberta often used Albert’s glasses when she couldn’t find her own; this annoyed him to no end. She probably used them and mislaid them. He searched the den and the kitchen before going into the bedroom.
Albert assumed she threw them in her music box with the rest of her junk. He’d barely looked at the thing since he gave it to her over fifty years ago. He was surprised how new it appeared, the carved angels that fluttered over the box were not marked by age. The box felt warm.
He remembered clearly the day he found it in a souvenir shop while he was in San Francisco on a business trip. Usually, he wouldn’t think of bringing souvenirs back for Roberta, but she loved San Francisco so much and was very upset that she couldn’t accompany her husband. Though the box looked nothing like a memento of the city, it played “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” so Albert bought it. Roberta loved and treasured it, even though she never wound it so as not to disturb Albert with the music.
Albert lifted the lid and was caught off-guard by the light pouring out from it. He slammed the lid shut. It was impossible that something inside could be so bright. He opened the box again and its contents illuminated the room. A round, glowing object sat on top of Roberta’s costume jewelry. It seemed to be made out of light itself.
It looked like a halo.
Albert figured he wasn’t seeing it clearly without his glasses. One of the grandkids must have made her a necklace out of one of those stupid glow sticks she once bought for them.
He picked it up. Warmth ran up his arm. It was the most wonderful sensation he’d ever felt. Yet, he could find no words to explain it.
Instinctively, he placed the halo on his head. 
It hovered slightly above his thinning hair. There was no way it could just float there, but Albert didn’t question. The warmth filled his body. An old emotion opened within him: happiness. The kind he hadn’t felt since he were a child. He also felt forgiveness to all those who took this feeling away from him in his youth. It was like a sun of love burned away the clouds of hate.
Joy swelled inside him. He wanted to do nothing but good for people. To help everybody in need. To tell his family how proud he was of them. Even those who failed, he admired how hard they tried. Especially in the shadow of Albert’s negativity.
He wanted to tell his wife how much he loved and appreciated her. How she was the only reason he was still alive. How she-
Roberta snorted in her sleep.
Albert removed the halo. It did not belong to him. His wife had earned it, most likely by putting up with him all these years. He could never deny her the pleasure the halo brought. She deserved to be the nice old lady that everybody loved, even if it meant being married to a miserable old cuss like him.
Albert back in the box and closed it. 
He continued the search for his glasses. Where did that stupid wife of hive them?

Abut the author


I studied Writing, Publishing and Literature at Emerson College in my home town of Boston. Over eighty of my short stories have appeared in publications worldwide. Two of my novels have been published, including the vampire parody novel, Lifestyles of the Damned. I've focused more on theater recently. Over one hundred of my one-act plays have been produced or stage read globally. And my full-length musical, Geeks!, was produced Off-Off Broadway in October 2012. 




Thursday, 24 May 2018

Where We Were Happiest



 by Bren Gosling

lemonade

Father took pleasure seekers out in a boat along the coast. The trip lasted a little over two hours, across the Bay to the lighthouse and back. I collected fares: the silver sixpences of the pleasure seekers, in a bucket I otherwise  used for crabbing. Janey liked to come and see us off. My sister was what people in those days referred to as an’ imbecile’. Mother said it was on account of the way Janey came out, with the cord wrapped around her neck like a hang man’s noose. It made her turn blue as the salt wrapper in a bag of crisps. The mid wife nearly didn’t save her.
   Janey was loved. She grew to be a beautiful young woman, in spite of the way she was…When people remarked on how beautiful my sister looked, mother used to stare into nothing and mumble nature is cruel that way. Janey drooled a lot. She waved her arms up and down as seagulls do when they are defending. She never spoke a word any of us could understand, only squawked. Other kids made fun of her, soon had her christened the ‘gull- girl’. Father taught her to swim, well it was more doggy paddle than swim really. He’d take her out to waist deep, cradle her in his arms, then let the water lift her until she floated. The sea was Janey’s medicine, father said. It kept her calm. Happy days…
When I became older, father encouraged me to better myself, leave Yorford Bay and see more of what the world had to offer. I joined the navy. The war came, and I survived it, but that is a different story for another time. Mother and father were killed when the post office got flattened by a German bomb; the Luftwaffe often dumped bombs on east coast towns like ours before heading across the North Sea on their return leg. Janey ended up in an Institution. They looked after her well, so far as I could measure, but not long before the war ended, she died. I decided to scatter her ashes where we were happiest.
     Each year I come back, and, no matter what the weather, I take off my shoes and socks and paddle the foreshore. Time slips away, the moments and hours of my life tumble into consciousness all at once, like the shingle thrown against my feet by the breaking waves. The salt – kissed air on my face and seagulls crying down the wind bring everything back, as if then were now, and I am collecting silver sixpences once more.