Essays, Misc, Stories

Butterfly: New Short (Short) Story

Who said Flash (super short) fiction was easy??!! lol 

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a story, mostly because I decided to take a break from smaller projects as I am actively writing the last book in my fantasy trilogy. But I felt I needed a change of pace and to look at subject matter other than what’s going on in the world of my fantasy novel. What follows is a reduced version of a full length story idea I’ve been toying with in my head for a while but just never had time to write. I decided to write a short version so that it can exist somewhere other than my imagination. I thought, ‘Well, it’ll be short so it won’t take so much time’. Mercy! I forgot how challenging this is. People, never underestimate how hard it is to write short fiction! For the time it took to write, revise and edit, I’m kinda pissed that it only amounts to 446 words! lol But here it is. Let me know what you think. 🙂

www.layoutsparks.com
http://www.layoutsparks.com

Butterfly

It’d been a while since the red cloud had blossomed under the bathroom door and pooled into a morbid patch on the worn hardwood. When I came in from school, Aunt Augusta had screeched from the cramped kitchen and come barrelling down the hall with a cloth in hand. Its white tail fluttered in the stale apartment air. Unsullied and bleached to purest perfection, this was what she used to sop up mother’s mess.

That stain will never come out.

Everyone watches as I stand in front of the closed door; I couldn’t yet move. The gelling pool rests inches from the tops of my scuffed sneakers, and I think it odd that it’s shape resembles a butterfly. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem so scary or gross only the family can’t see what I do. Stricken, they continue to murmur amongst themselves.

“She shouldn’t be there!”

“For God’s sake, someone take her away!”

But no one moves. No one dares touch me. I may be poisoned, not all there. Crazy, like her.

I’ve always known what they thought of my mother. Afraid of ‘a sickness’ they didn’t understand, they’d shunned us my whole life. Maybe that fear is what ate away at her. It took pink, yellow and sometimes blue pills to numb it away followed by bottles of clear and amber gross-smelling ‘water’. Then she would sleep, sleep, sleep to forget, forget, forget and when she couldn’t do either, she’d cry. She’d often talked about going away and leaving it all behind. Until today I believed she planned to take me with her.

I understood then that kids, even older ones like me, know nothing. And because of it we believe anything.

Somehow, I’d found my way to the living room. The sun’s rays are warm and heavy in the window seat, like a blanket. Buddy is in my lap, and my fingers play absently with his fuzzy arms and legs and then his shiny black, button eyes. His blank stare is kind. I hug him tight and whisper ‘thank you’ into his deaf ear because his is a look I can stand.

I look beyond the window pane and watch as white, puffy clouds trail across the sky. They are so far away; too distant to touch.

She’d left me to fend for myself. But if I was honest with myself, I’d have to say mother’d abandoned me long, long ago. I wonder if she’d sat in this very window seat and seen in the sky the hope I now see: salvation in the distance, hidden by massive, fluffy cotton balls.

So pretty…

So pure.

Maybe…

Maybe that’s what had given her the strength to shed her skin and fly.

Copyright@ 2014 by Dyane Forde

Stories

Give and Take-Short Story

NOTE: FOR AN UPDATED VERSION, DOWNLOAD (FOR FREE) THE VERSION PUBLISHED IN THE DARK HELIX EZINE.

 

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Preamble: I wasn’t planning on posting this story. It’s very personal and the idea came to me while I was watching children play on the shore during my vacation. But over the weekend, I came across a some very personal posts and stories by other people. They reminded me that everyone suffers pain and loss at times in their lives, and that as much as Life hurts, it’s important to remember that pushing through it is possible, even necessary. So, I hope you enjoy this story and are encouraged by it.

GIVE AND TAKE

castle-sand

I used to love the ocean. As a child, I would plant myself on the white, powder-fine sand and watch while the waves broke against the shore. Even then, young as I was, something about the rolling of the waves felt like magic to me. Maybe it was the planes of aqua coloured water foaming into roiling, white tips; the waves were like the sea’s breath, the surging soul of a mysterious, marine world. Sometimes, the receding dregs left gifts behind on the beach: shells, twisted driftwood or glistening jellyfish. I felt like a princess and the sea, my first and most generous lover. But that was before. I have grown up since. When I visit the sea, bits of discarded plastic are left behind for me now, and pieces of broken bottles, not jellyfish, glisten like jagged jewels in the sun.

Today, my daughter builds sandcastles and moats in the same powder-white sand I used to build in. How futile. Piling up columns of sand when the slightest misstep causes them to crumble. I sigh while pulling down the front of my sunhat against the sun’s glare and continue to reflect on my younger days. The tide always swept my projects away, leaving no sign of them behind. Still, back then half the joy was in the creation of the thing. The happiness I’d felt tempered the loss so that I didn‘t quite mind so much. Funny how our perceptions change over time.

But just as I imagined my parents had been unwilling to burst my bubble, I can’t tell my daughter the truth. I let her fill and refill the sand into various sized yellow, red and blue pails, press it all down and dump it all out, over and over. I watch in aggravated silence while she carves doomed tunnels and trenches and rebuilds the walls when the water she dumps into the canals are breeched. She is just a child. Innocent and un-phased, her world is painted in shades of aqua and sea-green and the sea god still leaves pretty pieces of shell and smooth driftwood on the beach just for her.

I settle into my beach-chair and turn my gaze to the waves. They spill onto the beach and withdraw, each time pulling along with it handfuls of sand. Ebbing and flowing, the waves take more than they bring, and the gifts they do bring are none that I want. How sad that somewhere along the way I’d unknowingly crossed the line where the blush of youthful dreams faded away and only the stark reality of adulthood glares back at me. Work, work, work. Strive, strive, strive. Build a life, tear it down, build it again…

(Fall in love.

Marry.

…Separate…

Rebuild).

I have since constructed my house on a barren beach.

Smiling and laughing, my daughter runs up to me. Sand is worked into the creases of her shorts, is packed under her nails, and all I can think of is how long it will take to get her all sorted out. But she is radiant, the joy shining through the dirt splayed over her face. Even her eyes are aglow.

“Mom!” she cries, “Did you see what I made?” Then she’s off, running down the list, providing a play by play of just how she did it. Towards the end of her telling, I begin to see a crease deepening between her brows and her eyes begin to widen with understanding. She looks from me to the beach.

Her shoulders slump.

“What is it, honey?” I ask, though I already know the answer.

She takes a minute to gather her thoughts. When she finally looks me in the face with those gorgeous, oh-so innocent brown eyes, she holds me captive. “It won’t last, will it? All that work, everything I made today, none of it will be here tomorrow. Right?”

Pressure builds in my chest. The truth rises up into my mouth but I hold it back. I can’t do it to her, not yet. Not when there is more time for play and make believe. Isn’t that what adults always lament? Not having enough time to be children?

“Honey,” I begin and then stop, still not knowing what to say yet hoping wisdom would somehow come to me.

Slipping her hand into mine, she asks, “When it’s all gone, can we rebuild it?”

Rebuild? I almost laugh, a most bitter and unpleasant laugh. Instead I say, “Sweetie, it’s late and it’s almost supper time.”

“Mom,” she insists, shaking her head. “Can we rebuild it?”

She holds my gaze. Truly, she is braver than I had given her credit for. But then, hadn’t she watched while I picked up and re-knit the tattered pieces of our lives? Hadn’t she cried with me and held my hand when the ghosts of loneliness haunted my sleepless nights? And yet even now, she still looks to me with the expectation that, somehow, I can explain the madness that is Life, as though I have the power to resolve its many discordant chords.

Shelly hands me a blue shovel, one that matches the blue bucket she carries in the other hand. “Mom?”

The tide is rising, the sound of the breaking waves growing louder in my ears. But her smile speaks louder.

Smiling back, I squeeze her hand and with the other, take the shovel she is offering. Then I lead her to a spot higher on the beach, one that is more difficult for the waves to reach.

“Yes, baby,” I say to her once we reach the spot. “Together, we will rebuild.”

Copyright@ 2013 by Dyane Forde