Hypodermic Panic

As she searched, her movements were frantic. It was well past six. Medication time.

Kylo lay on the floor of the kitchen, his paws shaking. He raised white-rimmed eyes at her coming and tried to stand, his long nails refusing to catch on the linoleum. He whimpered and flopped stomach-first to the floor.

“Oh, Kylo. Hold on, momma’s here,” She said running past the old hound nearly losing her own traction. She threw up a hand to brace herself against the fridge.

“Where is it? Where?” She said, ripping open the fridge. Her shaking hands jerked tupperware containers as she looked over to Kylo. He had rolled onto a side and started to breath sharply, his jowls vibrating rhythmically. “Hold on, puppy. Almost got it.”

She too, started to breath sharply– fighting the urge to ball up her hand and bring down the upper shelf of her fridge. She stopped and caught her hands and brought them to her face. “Fffuck.” She screamed.

Kylo’s collar jingled as he tried to jerk up, acutely aware of her anxiety. Instead, his head rolled back and Kylo seized. Paws shot out and stiffened against the floor and the dog’s jowls made a flapping sound as the old hounds head shook.

She saw and threw the fridge door closed. Ceramic plates jumped at the impact and glass started to roll behind her. She heard and snapped up to grab the insulin before it fell from the counter.

“Needles. Needles. Needles.” She chanted to herself as she bobbed looking. At last she’d found the box of clean needles and took a deep breath to steady her jumping hand. Kylo started to breath audibly again.

She drew the insulin into the needle and grabbed a fold of the old hound’s scruff and stabbed. The tension in the seizing dog melted away and after a moment of petting and praying the dog lifted his head and whimpered, letting his head fall into her lap again. She did the same and fell back against the kitchen counter.

Wendy’s four for $4

Oh Wendy

The four for $4 deal leaves me weak in the knees

And my wallet full and mighty

Shall I count how I love thee?

 

One magnificent patty between warm buns

Two hands full of crispy hot fries

Three full-brimmed cups of cherry cream soda

And four juicy nuggets,

All under five bucks.

The Painting

He was unlike anything I’d seen before. Passion poured from his eyes and brow, but his fingers refused to submit to wild wants.

 

That was all I saw of him; his further form refusing to reveal itself, leaving both he and I in the white– of the canvas that is. I don’t know whether he quit me or I him. It was too real, too vivid– like a candle that burns from both ends. Perhaps the we did each other in.

 

At last, after many moons and frustrated sighs, we quit. He took me off of his stand and laid me in the corner, bound forever to stare into the white nothingness of his sheets.

 

I’d like to see that passion once more. I know it’s still there; the pacing, the growls for more wine. He’s out there. And I’m still here. Mayhaps next time I can make him happy.

 

Prompt: The Painting was without title, and obviously unfinished, but something about it seemed so real.

Ceased to exist.

A small breeze froze the cold sweat on my brow as I tumbled out of my haunting dreamworld. I’d dreamed I’d had no mouth; when I tried to speak I couldn’t. All I could do was growl. I sounded like a wounded animal.

 

Eyes open, my hands shot to my face. I felt my mouth, pulling on my bottom lip. I threw back the covers and swung my legs off the bed exposing my nakedness to my posters. I turned and looked at the reflection in my mirror. There it was. Two lips, teeth, and a tongue. Everything in order.

 

I sat back down in bed and felt my pulse in my throat. Just a bad dream, I told myself, nothing more. Of course I had a mouth. I wondered if anything could actually survive without a mouth. How would that work? I watched the dust dance in the diagonal light rays pouring through my windows and waited for my heart to settle.

 

A polite knock came from the door. Tat tat tat.

 

“Yeah?” I said. “Come in.”

 

Tat tat tat.

 

I crossed the room and opened the door to my mother who looked like she’d been up for hours already. She smiled and tapped her wrist.

 

“What?” I asked.   

 

The smile left her eyes as she cocked her head back and then to the side. She looked shocked, which gave way to curiosity as she looked my face up and down. Finally she put the back of her hand to my forehead and rolled her eyes upward and nodded. Fever? Maybe I was still pale from sleep. She took the hand away and shook her head.

 

“What?” I repeated.

 

A flurry of hand motions and the shocked look again. What the… She grabbed my arm and pulled me towards the kitchen. She put me in front of father and pointed at me as if she was a carnival barker. Another flurry of hand motions. He responded in kind.

 

“What am I missing? When did you two learn sign-language?” I asked, half laughing, anxiety crawling up my neck.

 

They both turned to stare at me. I’m still dreaming. I pinched myself to make sure. Nope.

 

They had continued to throw hands at one another. My mother looked more frightened than dad, who looked annoyed. He stood and took my hands in his and turned them over once, twice and then back to my mother with a shrug.

 

“Okay, this isn’t funny anymore.” I said nearing tears. “Can someone please talk to me?” Neither seemed eager to speak up, so I did. “Say something!”

 

Smack. Across the left cheek from father. He took my shoulders and shook gently. Fear was in his eyes now too. I reached for father’s paper on sitting on the kitchen table. I scanned with my index for the words I needed.

 

“Why” “don’t” “you” “talk”

 

Their eyes watched my finger stop under each and looked at each other. Slowly, I watched their hands produce the same movement. Father looked at the paper, and did the same.

 

“we” “are” “Why” “aren’t” “you”

 

Prompt : You wake up only to realize that one common thing ceased to exist. There’s no trace for it, no-one ever heard of it and no-one seems to be missing it.

Moving Sucks.

“Hey has anyone see my towel in the last two days?”

 

Moving is a pain in the ass, no matter the distance. Obviously, different challenges arise when you uproot yourself a mile versus a thousand to be sure.

 

Each begin with what’s called the gradual stage. It starts a month out. Non-essentials are slowly, and meticulously packed up piece by piece until they are neatly stacked in the back of the spare room. If you’re really on top of your shit, every box will be labeled.

 

Then about a week out, comes the serious phase. Everything but the day-to-day necessities get boxed, tubbed, or toted up. You’ll probably run out of boxes in this phase. It’s a real pain. Luckily you know someone who works in retail and can score you some okay-sized cardboard boxes. Some may smell like old produce– that just comes with the territory. Some assembly may be required too, so you’ll need to get packing tape too. BEWARE THE DUST in the serious phase. It’s a sinus killer. You lose sleep because of things that ought not to have been fucked with will be. It’s like the scene in The Mummy when they open the sarcophagus. Malicious Arnold Vosloo whirlwinds will attack your house and choke you.  

 

The days tick by, and the serious phase bleeds into the frantic phase. Everything else in your room, the fridge, the bathroom, the living room, under the couches, on the porch, on the landing, in the cabinet under the sink, in your dresser, and the medicine cabinet must get rounded up. At this point, stress mounts and festers, and generally becomes a pesky cloud of thoughts and priorities that buzz around your face like nats on a muggy evening. How did you run out of boxes again? Shit. Okay, bags it is then. You need more city trash bags because, unbeknownst to everyone, your house is chock full of garbage.  

 

In the next few days, you’ll have some questions due to the frantic phase. Like, why were your socks packed with your dry goods? Where did this lava lamp come from? And, how did the tape come off the gold bond powder bottle and dust all of your sneakers?  

 

Slowly but surely you’ll settle in into the new digs. Maybe alone. Maybe with friends– depending on where your are in life. You can rebury the horror and stress that packing induced for another year or two or five, while you struggle to make ends meet. Such is the way.  

Dear Suzanne

Prompt: Write a tragic / heartbreaking goodbye letter.

 

Dear Suzanne,

 

You were my best friend, the love of my life, and my rock for quite some time. You were there when I couldn’t see a future for myself. You helped lighten some of the bleakness in my life, helped fight my depression while battling with it yourself. No matter how low either you or I felt, you always knew how to make me laugh and make the day that much more bearable.

 

And with the lows came some extraordinary highs; like graduation and getting our diplomas. I only made it out that shitstorm of an institution because of you.

 

Remember our garden? God, that was an undertaking. Remember the time, the innumerable cuts,  and the buckets of sweat we put into that goddamn rose bush? After a few weeks of trying and failing to keep the fucker alive, I came back inside in a huff and you took me by the arm and told me not to fret. You said something that stuck with me that day: If it’s meant to be, then it will be. If not, you can’t force it. That rose bush ended up wilting, even after all the work. Now it’s just a brittle mess of dried up thorns.

 

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to completely extinguish what we had, Suz. You were my first love, my first real love, that is. I remember lying awake next to you one morning about a year after we became official. I watched the way your hair fell over your face, the way your breast rose and fell with your breath and I  bit back tears at the thought of losing you. I asked myself if that was love. I still don’t know, but it was damn powerful whatever it was.

 

Sometimes I like to think “what if” had your cancer not been so aggressive. If only we had caught it sooner.  

 

I’m writing you because I’m finally doing what you told me. I’ve started seeing somebody else. Her name is Julia. She’s wonderful. I’ll spare you the specifics, but I think she and I have something special.

 

I still visit with your parents from time to time. They miss you too. We all miss you so much and hope that wherever you are, you’re healthy and loved.

 

Goodbye Suzanne

 

Love,

 

James.

 

Alex Drowns and Danny Laughs

Alex was always told that his fear of pool filters were irrational, and yet, the last thing he remembered was slowly sinking further into deep blue chlorine-shocked water. He couldn’t recall if he had been wearing trunks or not. Not that it mattered anymore. The sinking feeling quickly gave way to falling. Then, violent pulling.

 

His body was cold when he awoke. He gasped and vomited water on the floor. He pushed up to all fours and then laid his forehead back on the ground. Dry. Weird, he thought. He opened his eyes and looked about: whiteness. No walls, no horizon, just white.

 

Am I dead?

 

Clicking heels behind Alex startled him. “No.”

 

Alex turned and stood. “No what?” He said, looking down to notice himself fully clothed in a dry suit.

 

“You’re not dead.” The approaching stranger said. There was something unsettling about him. He looked like Alex’s father. Alex had only seen the old pictures that his mom tucked away in her photobooks. She’d taken them when they were a family; before she escaped his regular drunken wraths.

 

Who–

 

Who are you?” The stranger said, finishing Alex’s sentence. “A good question Alex, but I’m sure you know the answer.”

 

“I’m sorry. I’m sure that I’ve never met you before.” Alex said. “You must have me mistaken.”

 

The stranger chuckled. “Mistaken? No. How could I? This is your mind. This blank whiteness is your canvas. One that I’ve seen many times– and, frankly Alex, it’s getting bit boring. So how about you spruce it up a bit.”

 

Creases formed on Alex’s forehead. He cocked his head to the side.

 

“Remember your Great Aunt Mae’s beachhouse? We haven’t been there in a while.”

 

As the stranger spoke, the whiteness slowly faded into the livingroom of Aunt Mae’s vacation house. Right down to the salty air and the dog hair on the furniture. Alex stopped to inspect the couch before sitting down. The stranger had already taken a seat opposite.

 

“Amazing how vivid memories can be.” The stranger said, studying a photo of his Aunt’s dogs. He looked up from the frame to Alex. “You look confused my friend. Unburden yourself and ask.”

 

“Who are you?”

 

“Oh, Alex,” the stranger shook his head. “You’ve already asked me that.” He paused. “But if you must, I guess you could refer to me as Danny.”

 

Danny smiled and put the picture back on the end table. He looked relaxed. Too relaxed for Alex, who was still trying to comprehend not only where he was, but how he was.

 

Alex looked at his hands. “How did I, we, get here?”

 

“At Aunt Mae’s?”

 

“No. Sorry. You said, this is… my mind. How are we having this conversation in my mind? I thought I was dead. I was drowning and then I was here.” Alex said, his gesticulations frantic.

 

“Oh no Alex,” Danny leaned forward. “First off, you’re not dead. That bit with the pool. You dream that every night. And, every night you drown. It’s quite tragic to watch actually. You flail a lot and nobody ever comes to your rescue.” Danny looked up and inspected the ceiling. “This,” he said unfurling his arms, “is your mind, as to the conversation part– you conjure me into existence every night to talk.”

 

“Every night?”

 

“Every night.” Danny said, nodding.

 

Alex pushed himself out of his chair and began to pace around the room. He stared at his feet, concentrating on each step, the feel of it. The weight of each leg. Then he stopped and turned towards Danny. “So. If this is my mind. And if, as you say, I willed you into existence, then you have to tell me everything I want to know. Right?.”

 

“Not exactly, my friend. I like to think I’m my own man. You did will me into existence, but not consciously. I’m part of your subconscious. I don’t have to tell you anything, I operate however I want and you have to come along for the ride. I’m your fears, your anxieties, your kinks, and your instincts. I might be more you than you,” Danny said, jabbing a finger at Alex. “You try and think over me, but it never works. Though I commend the effort.”

 

Alex watched as the man calling himself Danny further transformed into a version of himself; heavier, hunched over, deadened eyes, and a receding hairline.

 

Danny laughed. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost, Alex.”

 

Alex paused and sat down. “I have: You. I know who I am, and you’re not it. I’m–.”

 

Danny interrupted with an evil cackle and transformed back into the father-like form once again. “Just keep telling yourself that, Alex. It’s time for you to wake up. I’ll see you tomorrow night.” Danny said, winking.

 

It was still dark when he awoke drenched in sweat. He ran fingers through his hair and vaguely remembered a drowning sensation.   

Cheers Hermie

It was just for one night. That’s what Heather and the kids said when they brought it into the house. Brought its smell, its unceasing shedding, and that damn lolling tongue. They named it Hermie. I told them not to; that they shouldn’t get used to it. We would be printing out “Lost Dog” flyers and putting them up tomorrow. Somewhere, someone must be missing this little thing.  

 

But dad, they protested, what if we can’t find the owner, and Hermie already loves us, and we can’t find him a home, and he can’t go to a shelter, and we love him. Can we keep him? I never thought that I would take a barrage like that from my daughters, especially not in my own damn kitchen. They played off of each other like Westbrook and Durant back before the betrayal. I looked at Heather, but she was apparently staying out of it.

 

I stood my ground. No pets. None. I’ll end up being the one who has to clean up after it, I said. No, the older one dropped to her knees, we promise that we’ll feed him, and walk him, and love him every day. The tiny voiced groveling paled in comparison to the tears running down their cheeks.

 

At this point I felt myself losing. I’m a sucker for tears, even those of the crocodile variety. Even acting tears in Heather’s rom-coms get to me. From my own daughter– fuggetabout it. I couldn’t be that dad, the dad that crushes dreams–  my own father already owns that job title.

 

Alright, I said, ready to concede. How about this: if we can’t find the original owners in two weeks, then we can keep him for a while and see how it goes. If I feel that you two are responsible enough to take care of him, then we’ll keep him. Sound good? Oh, how I felt like a million bucks. I don’t think I’ve ever been hugged that tightly before.

 

Days went by, then weeks. The deadline came and went without a peep from an owner. Perhaps this dog was a wanderer destined to end up in our lap. Or, maybe, I was the only one putting in the effort to find this mutt’s actual owner. Either way, I’m a man of my word. We went out to Petsmart on Hermie’s 15th night and got him a personalized collar. Sorry Hermie, I whispered, as I wrapped the heart-adorned pink collar around his neck, but they picked it out– not me.

 

Months went by, fur collected under the furniture and leashes were only checked out of the closet by yours truly. But I will give it to the girls, they loved the hell out of that dog. Shit, it even grew on me– I mean he did spend the most time with me. Guy time– my wife would call it, chuckling to herself. Yeah just us on the couch watching ESPN and me stroking his ears. I won’t lie, it was nice to have a bit of company while the wife was working and the girls were at school. Ah– the life of a stay-at-home dad.
Cheers, Hermie. But, I fear I’ve left the floodgates open. The girls just came home with a stray kitten. Look at him dad, he’s so skinny. He needs our help. Yeah, and I need yours, I think. But okay he can stay just for this night, I suppose.

 

 

Prompt: First line: It was just for one night.

Good Times, Bad Times

With you, she’d had some wonderfully stable times. Though for every good day, there were 3 or 4 bad ones. It’s just the way it was with her. Some days, she would be content just laying there in bed with you giggling, kissing under the covers, running her fingers through your hair while you two talked about afternoon plans. You would look up to her, she would smile, and you would get lost in her eyes. You just wanted to swim in her big doe eyes.

You two wouldn’t leave your bedroom for hours. Oh she was so easy to talk to. She was the kind of girl that, when you said something stupid, she would smirk and say something even more outlandish to coax a laugh out of you.

Then there were bad days. Sometimes it was only tears– those days were relatively easy; she just needed space. Sometimes, she would have so much energy that she bounced off the walls.

You nearly broke that one time a few months back when she came home with that new Lexus.

What, she said, we were planning on getting a new one anyway. This one has good milage in the city and I liked the color.

She screamed at you when you took the keys and drove it back to the dealership. She stood there staring daggers at the back of your head while you and the salesman hashed it out.

Look here bud, she’s really not well, you said. He shrugged and said it wasn’t his problem. She signed the paperwork. You pulled him aside and told him that if he didn’t void the sale then you’d see him after work for taking advantage of a mentally sick person. That changed his tone real quick.

When she stepped out of the cab, she pushed her way past you and didn’t talk to you for the rest of the day. But, she came around. She always came around, and then all the way around again. Her revolutions on the emotional scale never stopped– like living on one of those topsy turvy teacup rides at the fair.

That night you sat at the kitchen table and cried. She was upstairs sleeping like a baby, having swallowed a slew of different medications. You splayed out that month’s bills in front of you, but the numbers were too hard to focus on behind the tears. You thought about quitting her for the umpteenth time. You all but convinced yourself that it could be done; that you’d be better off without all that craziness in your life. But, but, you tried to picture yourself without her. Without those eyes and that smile. It hurt. It hurt so much. Like physically ripping your heart out. You convulsed as silent sobs wrenched themselves from your body. You’re sick of the drama, sick of the stress, but the good times were just so damn good.
She woke up first and found you hunched over asleep on the kitchen table and kissed you gently on the temple. You woke up to the smell of fried eggs and spam– your favorite. That pretty much cemented it for you. You’ll stay, for now, but she’s walking a thin line– just like the umpteenth times before. You smile at her and she smiles back. She didn’t even mention yesterday. Are you guys back to normal? She thought you were, but you didn’t know. You weren’t graced with her ability to move on and forget. Eventually it would reach a tipping point.

Prompt: With (him), she’d had some wonderfully stable times.

Changed “him” to “you” and tried my hand at a 2nd person POV

Liars

Everything about her was a lie. From the red and purple highlights in her hair all the way down to her inflated ass. A cheap look; not bottom shelf, but certainly not top of the line. When she moved too quickly her hair’s frame rate dipped slightly.

 

Jon didn’t mind. He knew that underneath the glamour there would, unfortunately, be no more inflated ass.

 

The two were standing at the bar. It was dark; the only light coming from the soft orange glow of a few lonely incandescent lights overhead. Jon had made the first move, exchanged hello’s, and bought them both a drink.

 

“What do you do for work,” Jon asked over a neat bourbon.

 

“Oh, well right now I’m a dog groomer.”

 

Jon nodded along, humming into his glass.

 

“So I take dogs, bathe ‘em, dry ‘em, give ‘em cute haircuts. And if they aren’t little shits I cut their nails.”  

 

Dog groomer: okay. Is that mole on her left cheek fake too? Who pays extra for a mole in their glamour?

 

“It’s alright money. And you do get tipped sometimes, which is nice. But it’s not what I want to do for the rest of my life. When the economy picks up a little bit, I plan on opening my own salon down the street from my house.” She paused and sipped her tequila sunrise. “I’m licensed to work on hair–human hair. And, my girlfriend Becky is working on getting her license now.”

 

Jon leaned harder into the bar. He felt himself slipping out of the conversation.

 

Becky? Hmm, I don’t remember Jack Daniels being this vanilla-y? Did they change their recipe?

 

Jon continued to nod until she stopped talking.

 

“So, uh, what do you do?” She said.

 

Jon searched for an answer. “I, er, jail break glamours.” Jon said, swallowing the last finger of bourbon.

 

“You what?” Her hand reflexively went to her face as if to cover herself. “Isn’t that illegal?”

 

“Technically, yes.” Jon shrugged. “But it’s good money.” The whiskey made him bolder.

 

I could hack you right now if I wanted to. Why the fuck am I even talking to a fat-assed dog-grooming nightmare when I could be having this conversation with Emma fucking Watson. I shouldn’t though: too many eyes around.

 

“So what kind of shit have you done?” She asked, arching her eyebrow. “Do any weird sex stuff?”

 

Oh, I can’t spill all of my secrets honey.

 

“Sure. All the time. A while back I was hired by some big tech company CFO to hack his escort’s glamour. He met me before hand and handed me a picture of some girl. I scanned it, fleshed it out, and loaded it onto her system no problem. Dude paid me $10,000 for one night.”

 

Her eyes widened. “Ten grand? For one night. My god.”

 

“That’s not even the craziest part,” Jon said smirking. “I looked him up on Facebook after. Turns out it was his daughter’s picture.”

 

“No.”

 

“Yeah, sick shit right.”

 

“Who’s the guy?”

 

Jon smirked. “I can’t tell you that. I’m still under contract with the old fucker.”

 

That, and I just made the whole thing up. It wasn’t his daughter. It was his long-dead wife. But that depressing shit doesn’t get you laid. Weird shit on the other hand…

 

She looked impressed. Or maybe it was the way her fake eyebrows arched. “Do you wear one?” She asked, placing her hand on the bar to steady herself.  

 

“Of course. Everyone does.” Jon leaned in close and whispered. “Y’know, I can be anyone.”
She laughed a fake laugh and pulled on his arm. She smelled of cigarettes and didn’t walk straight. He hated that. But she was pulling him towards the bathroom. He hated that he liked it. Everything about him was a lie.   

 

 

Prompt: “Everything about her was a lie.”