High Expectations

Hello hello, and welcome to this week’s six, based on the word of the week LOUNGE. I took this to mean chaise lounge, and thought back to the classic cartoon therapist. Follow our narrator as they go to counselling for the first time, and well, you’ll have to read it to know more. Hope you enjoy!

Sitting in the office, in a chair that was uncomfortably close to the person in front of me, I found myself disappointing by the experience, though I really couldn’t say why.

I mean, I wasn’t expecting to lay on a chaise lounge and talk about my childhood, but the somewhat dim lighting was creepy, and the Himalayan salt lamp was more distracting than anything else.

I was nodding along on autopilot, because I just realized I had stopped listening just long enough that I had no idea what we were talking about anymore, and for some reason I didn’t want to admit that, though it probably would have been helpful information for her to have.

I smiled, and nodded, the facsimile of normality so convincing, that along with my sky high grades, I was shuffled out not to long after, and told to contact them again if I was having difficulties.

I was having difficulties, my own inability to articulate difficulties being one of them, and it seemed that somewhere between what I was saying and what she was hearing there was a broken telephone line that was making everything seem A-OKAY.

I left discouraged, downtrodden, an hour wasted, with nothing more than an patronizing handout to show for it that looked like it belonged more in a kindergarten class than on a university campus, and I resolved to try counselling again next year.


50 Shades

Hello Hello and welcome to microfiction Monday, this weeks prompt was “Write a Fable”, which I absolutely fell in love with. Follow Fanny as she experiences her justice system from the side of the defendent, I will say it is not as saucy as the title implies, and the following trigger warnings apply: Murder, Attempted sexual assault, extreme justice, dark AF. Hope you enjoy.

The rating system had always seemed fair before Fanny found herself at its mercy.

Where a jury was made up of twelve people, the new system presented the facts to 10,000, simply as they were, with no emotion, embellishments, or heartfelt pleas for mercy to sway the raters before they chose innocent or guilty. There were only two punishments, exile to a penal colony, or death, though some would argue given the conditions at the colony, it was a question of which was worse.

Upon implementation, crime rates plummeted, and for the first time in her life Fanny felt safe walking home alone at night in the city. She did so each night, and she was honestly shocked when the man held her at knife point, and told her to take off her clothes.

She fought, she got the knife, she stabbed him, and despite the fact it was in no way her intent, that knife struck an artery, and he died.

Intent however, was classified as an embellishment, as was a description of her fear, the way it felt to have him standing over her, the fact he had 100 pounds on her, and even the fact that with her broken heel she didn’t think she could outrun him.

She looked at the facts of the case as they were presented, and hoped for death, because there was no accounting for circumstances, and should she be sent to the colony, she might as well have surrendered to her fate. 

Suddenly, the idea of a few guilty people getting off on the mercy of other, seemed like less of a tragedy than it once had, and Fanny sobbed as she recognized the price of the thin veneer of safety that had been created.  She never realized that she would be the one to ultimately pay.

*Moral of the story: Not everything is black and white, reality is full of shades of grey.*

Dark Discoveries

Hello hello and welcome to a dark short story.  What is that I hear?  What’s different than usual?  Well probably nothing, but it was written for the prompt from the Belleville Writer’s Collective:

‘He might have said anything, knowing it was his final hour’ – The Buddha’s Last Instruction by Mary Oliver

So follow the story of our narrator, who chooses not to follow instructions, and discovers something very unsettling.  Don’t want to spoil it, but dark and creepy, so reader be warned. Note, best read aloud, and to that effect I am trying to upload audio to this for the first time ever.

I don’t know what I was expecting when I pulled the brown photo album out from where he said it would be.  If I’m being entirely honest, I didn’t expect to find anything when I reached up into the attic from the top of the closet.

I sat with it on my lap for a while before I opened it, looking down at the cover’s embossed gold lettering, PHOTOS, and considered doing as he asked and tossing it into the fire.  Looking back, I wish I had.

I braced myself before I opened it, hoping that I wasn’t about to see a collection of vintage nudes, but that would have been better than what was inside.

I flipped through the pages absently, and then what I was seeing really hit me.  I ran trembling fingers along the brittle plastic sheet, feeling the raised edge of the Polaroids underneath, 4 to a page.

The ones in the beginning were fading out, the date written in blue ink providing a stark contrast to the thick yellowed border at the bottom edge of each photo.  The terror though, that was still as visceral as I imagine it was the days the pictures were taken.

As I moved through the album, the pictures became clearer, far more of them than I could have imagined, even if I could ever have imagined something like this.

The transition to grainy ink-soaked paper was jarring, a reminder of how angry he had been when his trusty old camera had broken, and replacements were astronomically expensive.  We tried to get him one with film, but he was insistent on not being dependent on someone else to make his pictures, why didn’t it occur to us to ask why he didn’t want anyone else to see.

We went together, Jannie, Donnie and me, to get him the digital camera and printer, and while it wasn’t a Polaroid, he was glad for a way to continue his photography.  I never did ask him about it, never saw another picture he took outside those ones of us the day we gave it to him.  Now I know why.

The newer Polaroid’s hadn’t had a chance to fade yet.  I tried to imagine him taking these with the pastel pink camera I bought him at Michaels, when “instant” pictures became the new fad a second time.  I felt like a million bucks looking at the smile he had on his face when he unwrapped the box Christmas morning and saw the camera, I had gotten him, now I feel like garbage.

As much as I tried to deny that he did this, was a part of this, evidence to the contrary hit me page after page.  A two year gap in dates during his recovery, the barely legible scrawl that followed when he still had weakness in his left arm, and the sharpening penmanship as he fought his way back to full mobility.

I remember thinking how strong he was in the face of the stroke, how determined he was to recover, and I thought it was for all of us, so we didn’t lose him, but he probably wasn’t thinking about us at all.

Another few years and the writing starting going downhill again, the last photo was dated a week before we first brought up the subject of a nursing home.  I thought he was being stubborn when he resisted over a year, but looking at the basement in the background, it must have taken him almost that long to get rid of the evidence in the condition that he was in. I always thought it was strange that he put so much work into it for a place he was soon to be leaving, but I thought he was in denial.  He wasn’t though, it was all calculated, every bit of it.

I closed the album, and looked at the fire.  What do I do now?  Do I heed his wishes, and toss it?

I wished more than anything that I had listened to those last gasping words he said on his deathbed, that I had thrown it out without looking, or that I had ignored him entirely, dismissing the instructions as a product of the dementia, but I hadn’t, and now I had a choice to make.

This could give a lot of people closure, but at what cost?  He wouldn’t suffer for it, he was gone.  It would be me, and Jannie, and Donnie who paid the price.  It would be my son, my daughter who was six months along with her first, so her son too.

I found myself on the stool in the closet, tucking the album back into the attic, before I had even really thought about what I was doing, but I couldn’t bring myself to pull it back down, not now, maybe not ever.

I closed up the attic, and swept up the stray bits of insulation from the closet floor like I was trying to sweep away the memories of what I had seen.  I didn’t have to make a choice on what to do with it today, but until I did, there would always be a small part of me thinking about the album in the attic, and my father’s last words, “pictures…. attic…. burn them…. don’t look.”

Not Quite Silver Screen

Hello hello and welcome to this week’s response to the six-sentence story prompt WRAP.  I decided to go with the classic Hollywood version of the word, and tell the story of our narrator that just headlined a production disaster. 

I never thought I could be so relieved as I was when they yelled out, “That’s a wrap,” after two months of production hell.

It was a low budget film, which we all know, and why it was supposed to be done over three weekends, not the eight that it took, or the many days and evenings it took during my weeks.

Everything we shot, we reshot at a secondary location after flooding washed out the bridge we filmed our outdoor scenes at, then the building we rented for indoor scenes was condemned, and of course after we all lost so much weight from the food poisoning fiasco of weekend five that it became a continuity error.

Someone literally caught on fire, not like special effects fire, because our special effects were not that good, and while he ended up being okay, I was cold, tired and miserable, just wanting to go home.

What I did make, went towards paying overnights at a no-tell motel nearer to set after 12-hour days, and between that and the lost wages from missing my day job this had put me in the red rather than the black, not even including the next contract I would lose when they saw the weight change.

Sitting there on opening night though, it had been all worth it, because if the audience reaction was anything to go by, I had just starred in my first hit.