Solitude didn’t both him, that wasn’t it, but his brother, Silence, was a different story. Nights when he was the only person alive and the vast silent expanse of the sky cupped over him like a giant’s hand. Those nights he curled up in his blankets and shivered, eyes tight closed, not wanting to see the Nightly Things creeping up on him. If he didn’t see them, they couldn’t see him, no matter how close they crept. Nightly Things couldn’t peer inside closed eyelids, that was the rule.
The Doctor didn’t look over at Mrs. Marshall as he spoke. “As you can see, he hasn’t gotten any better.”
“Do you know why?”
“The workings of the mind are still mostly a mystery. There is so much we don’t know about mental illness.”
“He isn’t mentally ill.”
“Look at him, Mrs. Marshall. He has no connection nor concept of the world.” He paused, feigning sympathy and patience. “He isn’t going to get better. The best thing for him is to put him into an institution so he gets the care he needs…” Droning on until his words turned into blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Care for him yes, but not love him. Not like a mother.
Mrs. Marshall stared through the window at her son. She knew so little about him, his world, but one thing she did know was he was not mentally ill. Those words he scribbling over and over – Nightly Things – scared her. What did he mean? What was he trying to tell her, his mother, the one person who loved him unconditionally?
She thought his words were a cry for help, for protection; to be heard. Something somewhere terrified him. Something, real or not, chased him in his silent world.
On the drive home, she thought about being a mother. Mothers didn’t give up. They didn’t leave their child behind. She stroked his hair, silky even at ten. Mother’s protected against Nightly Things, whatever they were. Mothers loved. Mothers listened even to the silence.
Mothers didn’t walk away.
“Whenever you look back and say “if” you know you’re in trouble. There is no such thing as “if”. The only thing that matters is what really happened.”
― D.J. MacHale,
“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
― Stephen King,
This week, turn the concrete and familiar into something new and mysterious.
The idea of Sunday Photo Fiction is to create a story / poem or something using around about 200 words with the photo as a guide.
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“Really?” a tiny voice grumbled. “Stop breathing down my neck.”
A lower, louder growl. “If I could, Marv, I would, don’t you think?”
“I’ve seen you move!”
“I’m an animatron. I move when they turn me on!”
A moment of silence passed between the two, little Marvin below and big Percy above.
“Me,” Percy whined. “King of the Jungle.”
“Isn’t that King of the Dinosaurs?”
“What ever.” Exasperated. “Point is, I’m the King and they’ve reduced me to… this!” If he could have wrung his claws he would have.
“What about me? Stuck under the jaws of the biggest predator of them all, you, and I can’t move. Do you know the nightmares I have?”
“Nay.” He didn’t have the biggest brain.
Went on, “When they turn me on, I can feel my feet. I can. And if I feel them, I can move them.”
“Just don’t…. eat me.”
“Nay… Do you feel the urge to travel? How about Graceland? I’ve always wanted to see the Jungle Room. Hey, maybe I’m the King!”
23:59 EST (New York Time) Wednesday.
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The surprise was she came at all. He hadn’t expected it. She never did the expected.
“So,” she asked, swinging easily down in the chair across from him, hair dancing about her face. Sexy. She was so damn sexy, but he forced his mind to focus on the important.
“I’m surprised you came.”
“Darling, you know I adore you more than anything.”
Thing. Yes, that was the reality of the matter.
“Yes, whatever.” He paused, turning his coke can, laying ring after ring of condensation on the dark tabletop. “I’ve been thinking.”
She laughed, reaching across to touch his hand. “You know what I’ve told you about that, darling.”
“Thinking too much.”
He grimaced. This was what she did, distracted him from his real purpose, his truth.
“I’m busy today,” she went on, eyes loving him.
It was a lie, but a lie he desperately wanted to believe.
“Can we do this later?” She cocked her head, smiled. “Tonight, when we have all the time in the world. Just us.” Her voice softened to a purr, smile promising things he couldn’t refuse.
He was addicted. That was the thing. Addicted.
She rose, leaning over to kiss his cheek. “Tonight, darling.” Her voice promised things he’d never have.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Man or mouse? Man or mouse?
He watched her walk away, swing in her hips affecting him deep down inside. Finally, he faced the truth.
She owned hm.
He ran towards her, calling out her name. The street and sidewalk were busy all around, forcing him to duck and dodge.
“Valarie, wait!” he called, skirting around a parked car.
To his surprise, she turned.
Man or mouse? Chicken or egg?
When he stepped in front of the truck, her irritation turned to confusion and then, at the last second, to surprise.
Finally, he’d surprised her.