Thursday: The Lake Pt 2

My finger extended in the moonlight, mocking shadow beneath agreeing. The street was quiet with a thick sort of silence that seemed to stifle any crackling leaf scuttling across the pavement. All was still in the eerie street-light hum. The place that buzzed in the sunlight of any afternoon had somehow not seen any movement in years.

“That’s quite far for an old-timer like myself,” the man croaked. “No place closer?”

He was instantly recognizable as a city man. Sharp suit, beard trimmed from scraggle, what hair remained was slicked back behind his ears and receded hair line. His glasses reflected the sky’s feeble light. Or maybe just the glint in his warm eyes shone through. Everything about him was comfortable and warm. He contrasted the night.

“No, that’s the only one in town actually,” I answered. Despite the rusty croak in his voice, I was disappointed with the way my own words sounded following his into the stillness.

“Very well. Any chance you could give me a ride? I hate to ask, but at my pace I won’t get there until after midnight.”

I glanced over my shoulder at my car, whose tires sunk sadly into the lake-soaked mud beside the water, and suddenly I wished I had walked down to the lake. Maybe it was his age, or the inherent warmth in his voice, or his dry-cleaned suit, or his leather briefcase, or maybe something about the chill of the night that made me sympathetic.

“Yea, of course.”

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Tuesday: The Lake Pt 1

I’ve decided to write a story for Halloween. I’ll start here and add to it each day. We’ll see what happens.

It was silent around the lake, as if the thick steam that slinked across its surface muffled any sound from its quietly lapping shores. The moon was brightest when it bounced off of tiny ripples and fell through the leaves that still clung to the Autumn branches. The serenity of the lake was misleading, and there seemed to be something in the cool, immobile air that made me uneasy. My heart seemed prepared to pump adrenaline through my body at any moment. My skin felt uncommonly warm. And then the crack of a stick from behind me and a stumbling of my brain to place it right or left. My head spun.

“Excuse me, young man,” an old voice called through the night.

Somehow the voice immediately calmed me. Outreach was welcoming. The voice was warm itself, possibly the source of all of the steam, and it came from the dark outline of a hunched over man just behind the short, stone wall behind me.

“Excuse me,” he repeated, “I seem to have lost my way…I’m…I’m not from around here. Would you kindly point me in the direction of the nearest inn?”

His voice creaked with old age and resulting sincerity. I planted my palms in the sand and hoisted myself up to walk over to him. The quick pounding of my heart was now just an echo.

“Of course,” I said. “This street right along the lake here is Main Street. You’ll want to take this about a half mile down. Umbridge Inn will be on the right.”

Monday: Pulling Air Through A Cavity

My pen tapped like keyboard keys, sending sharp sounds of old-fashioned, outdated clicks into my tiny, one-bedroom apartment. Through the paper walls I imagine my neighbors hearing me typing away. I laughed. The heater air caught in my lungs and it turned my chuckle into a coughing fit.

Seven flights, right down to the tight hallway, the door that kept the stuffiness ripe in our rooms. And finally fresh air blasted into my nose, stung the thin skin inside like little shots of Novocain. Even numbness was better than the warm air inside.

Out here the trees hung happy, even in city smog and unrelenting chatter. They aired their leaves out in the breeze, flapping with the birds and the flags hung from apartment windows. The old displays of harbored nationalism had been torn and frayed in the whips of city wind, and had come to be mirrors of the trees, branched out and split at the ends, and flapping.

I wish to myself each time I head out the door that some casual voice will call in the wind, will whisper to my soul what to write inside of the burning apartment. I listen carefully to the air, focus beyond the phone calls and conversations and the flaps of everything, beyond the turning newspaper pages, the crunching-gravel sound the cars make, the high-heel or dress-shoe clunks on sidewalks, hurried up where I strive to be slow. Anything to keep me from the heat where my pen sits idly.

Friday: Cloister

The point, of course, is to separate yourself so completely from everything that is not what you wish to become. It’s jarring at first, but when everything around you leads to do the same thing, your mind submits.

And silence is there in your room, and the heavy of dark, and the heavy of contemplation and focus, and it shines like only a pinhole of light from beneath blankets but it’s enough. Bare walls and shadeless windows allow the reflection to make it enough.

There’s a desk, though covered in darkness now too, and it has books and scribbled papers, and empty pens, empty from meandering in the darkness that settles in. The moon is opposite the window, and the trees are stingy outside, bathe in the light afforded them and share it beneath their tops, and candles are forbidden at such a time. So the papers are nearly nonsensical, and this is good, because they say the thoughts behind the scribbles are too.

Maybe it was because you made the mistake of reading James Joyce, in secret darkness of course, using only the pinhole of light, buttoned up at the reach of a creak. But there was something on the beach for Stephen, in the bird of that girl, in her beak, in her wings, her ruffled feathers by the sunlight, beautiful sunlight.

So the scribbles are similar to Stephen’s, the brushstrokes become pennings, the colors the adverbs.

Thursday: Senses In Autumn

Dark, dark, descending dark, caught in spanning webs, tiny flies and bugs expanding slowly, then gone before the light of moon is. Finicky leaves rustle on the ground and on sticks still, sticking around for the ice of morning, and then their fall. Fall, and all is cool and refreshed, and nothing is refreshed yet, but refreshing. Fall is the process of becoming refreshed.

As far as food goes, the fields find Autumn scrumptious, eat those little pills and spit out gourds for garnish and pumpkins for pies. Tart apple tarts or sweet, sweet things wrapped in crust or crinkle. That all-spice feeling on the tongue is boisterous, and welcome, and warming.

A walk is a wonderful thing. We take in bursts of colors from trees, the crackle of the fire of our feet, crushing things. And just the thought of beginning to see breath crystals in the air, the hushed exhale’s sonica sent out instead in a visual cloud, and it dissipates and we become Autumn ourselves, a little bit.

There is fire all over, the world consumed with the colors, at least, and the heat lost somewhere in its flicker, or preserved beneath the ground to radiate in summer. But who thinks of that in Autumn, really? The chilled wind whips through the cracks between houses, and the slimming of it or something makes it come out the other side transformed, the sounds of festival by the times it hits our ears.

Wednesday: Skies Grey With Age

I suppose if “storm-chaser” was a real job title it would be something to which I’d aspire. A paycheck to risk life and everything you are to see how close we can come to catastrophe without spilling over.

I think Vonnegut said something like he likes to stand in the middle so he can see everything. He had never seen a storm, I presume, because the middle is unattainable. In fact, you need to stand as close to the edge as possible and hope you can see the middle. Maybe that’s what he said…

As a child I imagined the power caught up in a storm, like it swept up energy from everything as it crept along above the ground, and by the end, just before it was fizzled out by the ocean, the latent power inside of it was tremendous and unattainable, just like the middle. I remember sitting in bed, staring out of the rain-pounded window, pajamaed knees tucked between my arms. Middle of the night, school the next day, but nothing on my mind but the middle.

It’s a shame the movies tricked little children like me. For years I had worked toward that title in my head, in my dreams. I wrote about it, adventures in storm-chasing, poems about the raw power, about the ruins they left behind, and about the inevitable crumble when they hit the sea. Eventually it just became an obsession, and then a passion, and then an interest, and then a casual annoyance.

Tuesday: On Your Face

What’s in a grimace? Twisted mouth, slitted eyes, corner of lips torn from the rest. Usually shoulders pulled up, a natural reaction to prevent something. Neither of us know what.

And a certain surge of insides, a tightening to do whatever the shrugged shoulders do. Which is nothing, except appeasing the natural feeling we get in our heads.

And also in a grimace, although we hardly ever think of it as a part of anything but itself, is the impact. The shudder from one of us or both, the quick extraction of power, pulled out in the contact immediately.

And part of it is the waiting for another grimace, and then they become one with each other if there is another one. And once they’re done they’re all just one, and waiting for another to make the very first one even more exaggerated.

By the end there are hundreds, I imagine. And I still won’t blame you or hate you or anything like that. If there was any in-between of those grimaces, it would have been happy, I think.

Monday: Back On Track

Isn’t it strange that something so orange with heat, steaming from prodding atop leaping flames and sputtering sparks, can be carried over to us on the very thing that could neutralize the heat in seconds? Coal on the ocean is what I’m talking about.
If a little brick is plopped into the salty expanse it would die immediately, with a quick sizzle for a cry and a patch of smoke for its escaping soul, and nothing more. The cooled remnants would sink until they settled, with no control, no burning will to strafe the plummet. Darker and darker, and no light from within itself to illuminate the impending depth.
Anyway, it’s strange that coal is how we conquer the ocean, how we travel right across the surface and do not sink without strafe ourselves. It makes me think that each element is conquerable only by another: fire by water, water by fire, earth by anything, air by fire. Air by fire.
And each battle is sided by another external element. The air does its best to bathe the lighted coal in fuel, to heat it to its peak before it’s tossed into the ocean, maybe hoping that the sizzling and steam will be great that it is unconquerable. Two elements together against one. A beautiful waltz for three or four in beats of three, a calm dance to outdo and overcome.
I think there’s a lot of natural beauty in that imbalance.