Posts Tagged ‘quickie’

Festival of Love
by KM Zafari

I dream of you sometimes. We are back in Mumbai, and I am getting a shave at a roadside stand.

“There’s something I never told you,” I say. “A secret.”

“After 30 years?” you ask.

“Yes,” I say and begin my confession. “The truth is, we didn’t meet at the Holi festival by chance. The first time I saw you, I was sitting in this very spot. I caught your reflection in the mirror as you passed by. You were impossible to miss – tall, sandy blond hair, looking more like you should be shooting surfers in Sydney than at a Hindu celebration.”

I tell you that I knew I was too plain to capture your attention and how I assumed you were there to photograph the festivities, so I searched for you in the crowds, hoping that the color, the magic of Holi would bring you to me. I tell you how happy I was that I was right and that I would marry you all over again.

You look a little teary, so I lament about how much my reflection has changed, and how you’ve aged so much better than I.

You stroke what’s left of my hair gently and tell me that I still look good to you, because you really are the same, sweet boy I fell in love with in Bombay.

We talk about how much has happened over the years and how gratifying it has been to live life to the fullest, to love one another with abandon.

Then, we return to the Holi festival of our youth, and, amidst the fountains of colorful gulal blooming around us, I mark you with red kumkum powder, signifying you are mine.

I wake up wiping away tears, still wishing that, all those years ago, I’d had the courage to say hello.

Man Toes

by Rebekah Postupak

“You have man toes!” he said.

I don’t think he’d meant it to come out quite like that; his words tumbled to the ground between us with vaguely disappointed surprise, like the face of someone who’s just been shot.

“So do you,” I said.

“But—”

“Also, yours smell bad,” I said, “while mine currently smell like rose petals.”

He didn’t say anything, just kept staring at my toes, which I’d been wriggling enthusiastically in the Jamaican sand. Thirty-five dollars I’d spent on them, my first pedicure, and I fully intended to get my selfie money’s worth. My toes alone in sand, my toes in the sand with Caribbean waves lapping nearby, my toes and his toes wriggling in sand together framed by a “We’re Not Missing You At All” meme.

After a minute or two, though, he got up and wandered off in the direction of the bar, leaving me alone with my toes and Hercule Poirot, who was just launching into a speech about the underappreciated state of fine mustaches and who, were he here, would have made heavily accented disapproving noises in my new husband’s direction and ordered me another pina colada.

In honor of Poirot, I’d drunk three pina coladas and finished an entire Tropical Appetizer Platter for Two before my husband finally wandered back.

He said, “Dinner’s in an hour. You going?” even though we’d made our reservations for the Honeymoon Table (including the optional violin serenade) only that morning.

“We’ve got the Honeymoon Table! I wouldn’t miss it.”

“Oh.” He stood there for a while not looking at anything in particular. And then: “It’s probably going to be crowded.”

“No doubt,” I said, “which is why we reserved the Honeymoon Table.”

“I don’t know what to wear.”

“It’s black tie. You should wear a black tie, I’d guess.”

He fidgeted. “What are you going to wear?”

“My slinky red dress.”

“I mean, what shoes?”

“The matching red sandals.”

“Oh,” he said, turning to face the sea. The setting sun stretched his shadow long and dark across me, across my toes, across one day down, and thousands, so many thousands to go.

Kawaii

by Angelique Pacheco

It was hot and humid that day. Being a Saturday, the train was full as it chugged past the rice paddies toward Eiga Mura, the movie town in Kyoto. I haven’t gotten used to how homogeneous the Japanese are. There are so few tourists that you couldn’t hide out if you tried. I have been here for two weeks already. The summer heat is unimaginable. I thought Africa was bad until I realized that I can’t live without the air conditioner here. We step off the train and walk along a dusty road the rest of the way.

The town itself is beautiful. The buildings are varied as most of the movies are filmed here. There is even a monster in a pond that pops his head out every now and then. It looks like “Hello Kitty” has thrown up all over the curio shop. I walk around; fascinated as I observe Geisha-type actresses walking around and my heart almost stops when I spy a ninja on a rooftop. They like to position their mannequins in odd ways here.

Children are the same all over the world. They are full of curiosity and excitement provided they don’t see a foreigner. I feel like a celebrity most days. When children see me their mouths drop open in horrified fascination. The question,”what is it?” is emblazoned in their eyes as their mothers shoo them away from me.

I decide to walk into the theater and I sit on a hard bench at the back, trying not to draw attention to myself. Child actors peer from behind the stage curtain and stare at me wide-eyed. I stare back at them and smile. I get no response. I bring my fingers up to my cheek and yell “Kawaii!” The children giggle. The grownups turn and see me still showing the symbol for the word “cute” and they smile. I am escorted to the front of the theater as people around me jabber away at me in a friendly manner. I got to sit right up front to see an unforgettable performance of which I understood nothing. That, after all, is the Japanese way.

Penance

by Steph Ellis

A hand can signify so much: a loving touch, a safe anchor, a friend. His hand was none of these. His hand was a map of pain raised against the world.

The Selector scanned the fleshy palm scarred with broken lines, a future going off at a tangent, a break claimed by death. How far along that road was he already? It didn’t really matter, they needed a sacrificial lamb, someone to carry their message, their plea for help. Would anybody listen? Was there anybody out there? It was unlikely but they had to try. This was a one-way journey into the unknown.

And still he kept his hand in the air whilst all around him others were lowered. Soon his was the only one left; an unfurled flag ready to be planted on alien shores.

He was chosen as he knew he would be. Showed no emotion as they told him how long his rations would last, oxygen, water. Remained impassive as he was given a small capsule. Its contents would ensure a quick death.

They suited him up. Took him to the launch pad. The remaining survivors waved and cheered him. There was no family, no loved ones. She wasn’t there. Not any more.

Then he was in the small craft. It had been prepared for the mission some time ago, merely waited on a pilot. Now the countdown could begin.

Ten

Him. “Who is he?”
Her. “No one. There is no one.”

Iron hand.

Nine

Him. “Who is he?”
Her. “No one, I said.”

Steel hand.

Eight

Him. “Who is he?”
Her. “I told you, please … don’t …”

Leaden hand.

Seven

Him. “Who is he?”
Her. “No …”

Hand grabbing.

Six

Him. “Who is he?”
Her. “You’re hurting me.”

Hand grasping.

Five

Him. “Who is he?”
Her. “Please … no …”

Hand gripping

Four

Him. “Who is he?”
Her. Sobbing.

Hand pressing.

Three

Him. “Who is he?”
Her. Groaning.

Hand squeezing.

Two

Him. “Who is he?”
Her. Choking.

Hand smothering.

One

Him. “Who is he?”
Her. Silence.

He pressed the ignition and the capsule blasted out into the endless night. His penance had begun.

Homecoming
by K.M. Zafari

The eyes staring at me from the photo mirror my own; aside from a smear of black paint, they are identical to mine. “I didn’t know Dad played football.”

“Toss it,” my sister says, after a cursory glance. She is the less sentimental of us two. “His pension barely covers what Medicare won’t, let alone a storage facility to house all his junk.”

“This isn’t junk,” I say. “These are memories.” I turn back to the box of photos, trying to pretend we aren’t deciding the importance of a man’s entire existence.

But here it is, a life in pictures. Star athlete. Prom king. High school graduate.

This is a man I never knew.

“He won’t even remember any of it, Jace.” Denise softens. “I don’t mean to sound cold, but pictures are meant to remind us of of things. And he’s just too far gone.”

I pick up another photo and slink to the floor.

Soldier.

These were the eyes that I remembered. The ones from after the war, whose stare was cold, unfeeling – a wall between who he’d been and who he’d been forced to become in the depths of a jungle far from home.

This whole time, I’d thought it was me. That I just wasn’t good enough. But suddenly, I understand – he saw in me a future he’d lost long ago.

I pick up the box of photos and carry them out to my car, then sit behind the wheel and stare at the carefree eyes of the star athlete, the eyes that had not yet seen. And he is no longer my drunk, angry father, but a man.

I peel out of the driveway. Denise runs after me, but I don’t hear her shouting, don’t care.

“Hi, Pop.”

He’d changed a lot in twenty years. Feeble, frail. His hands shake as he reaches up and cradles my face. “My boy,” he says. “My boy.” Tears fill his wrinkled, innocent eyes.

“Look what I found,” I say, showing him the picture of the man I want to know. “You never told me you played football.”

I’ll take the remaining pictures home. Some things are better left forgotten.

Sisters
by J.R. Hershberger

Laughing, we jostle into Katja’s living room with our shopping bags.
She drops hers. She is not laughing anymore.
I turn to see what she does – two embracing figures. One is Katja’s husband. The other is a woman I do not recognize.
Katja shoves past me, back out the door.
I follow her.
She runs up the street to the park on the corner.
“Katja,” I call. She does not slow down.
She turns onto the park’s running trail. I fall further behind but am confident I will catch up. She has always been the faster of us, but I have always had more endurance.
It’s been years since either of us has done running of any significance. She tires after less than half a mile and collapses on the grass next to the trail.
When I reach her, she is hugging her knees and sobbing.
“This sucks,” she says.
“It does,” I say, “but you can’t run away from it.”
“Didn’t I just, though,” she says, laughing through hitched breaths.
I laugh, too. “I mean, I guess you can. You did. But, you’re going to have to go back. Deal with stuff.”
She rocks back and forth on her bottom. Watching her, I’m reminded of a game we’d played as kids.
“Remember, ‘Rotten Tomato’?” I ask her, joining her in the grass and hugging my own knees. I push myself backward and attempt to use momentum to right myself without letting go of my knees. I flop onto my side.
“Oh, yeah,” Katja says, then tries herself, rocking backward and then straining to come back to sitting position. She fails; her hands slip and she releases her knees.
We each try again, hugging our knees and rocking backward.
Attempts once again unsuccessful, we lay sideways in the grass.
A teen-aged couple appears on the trail. They stop, staring at us.
We stare back.
I ask, “wanna play ‘rotten tomato’?”
They do not answer as they continue past, wearing worried expressions.
When they disappear around the corner, Katja and I laugh.
We laugh until there are no tears left for crying.
Then, I walk her home.

Please accept my apologies for the missing winner’s post this week. Some unexpected events popped up and one of the casualties has been the Angry Hourglass. I plan to do a double winner’s post as well as double up on the HumpDay Quickie next week, but in the meantime, since I neglected to rescue one of last week’s entries from the spam goblins in time to be judged, here’s a bonus story to tide you over until this weekend.


A Personal Challenge

by Stella Turner

It’s the hug that finished it. Arms around me like bands of steel, hot breath searing my neck. The heaviness of his head forcing mine downwards as the ground rose up to suffocate me. I could only see the chains of domesticity dangling in front of me. I was terrified. My arms limp, fingers caressing the daisies hidden in the grass like ancient overturned gravestones.

The city skyline calling to me, “Run! Run! Before it’s too late”

Whispering in my ear he said the word I’d been dreading. I tried to breathe gulping air into my constricted lungs. I couldn’t push away. Hadn’t I been working for this all my life? Twenty five years! The counsellor had told me how to deal with my underlying anxiety. It was easy just concentrate on breathing.

“You okay Ruby?”

I gasped for air and shook my head. He reached into my bag and passed me the blue inhaler. I wasn’t ready. The strong steroids soothed my lungs air passing down into the bronchioles. I felt stronger but not fit for a battle to end a war.

“I thought you might like to flat share with me”

I shuddered. I’d never shared anything in my life not even my parents and I wasn’t going to start now.