She wound her way through the foreignness in her own backyard, smiling shyly at the vendors hawking their wares. The mix of languages floated through the air like exotic birdsong, falling around her like rain. Stopping beside a metal gate, she hesitated, looking around, then stepped inside, hurrying down the concrete stairs. Inside the dim restaurant below, she shook her head at the waiters, making her way back, through the kitchen, and out the back door. Putting in earbuds, she listened to the news of the assassination. No one would find her here.
“How’s that for moving houses?” Van asked.
He shrugged. It wasn’t a house, it was a trailer. Extra wide maybe, but still a trailer.
“I can’t wait to stand on our front porch,” Emmy said with a clap of hands.
It wasn’t a porch…. it was a extended door.
“What? Honey aren’t you excited?”
“Well, you could act like it!”
Well, he could, but what was he excited about? Not a trailer no matter how pretty inside. Not a bolted together house….
Walking away was what he was excited about and he did.
They sat amid the devastation, oblivious. If not oblivious, at least resigned. The flood waters lay flat, motionless. Behind them, well, there used to be a house.
“Funny,” the first said, “how these daman chairs are bout the only thing to survive.”
“Yeah, funny,” agreed the second, dead-pan.
“Indestructible less you sit in them wrong.”
“Think FEMA will get their tails in gear this time?”
“You’re right. Probably not. Still……” And he was silent for a long moment. “There is always tomorrow.”
The marshmallow lights stretched across the field like a string of aliens making for the border. Next thing you knew, they’d be asking for asylum because their Moon Gorky was being mean to them. Well, damn it, as far as he was concerned those aliens could just go back to where they came from.
The touch on his shoulder pulled Jeffrey back from his character’s mind and he turned.
“Jeffrey, will you take Karen on the Merry-Go-Round?”
Oh, please! “Yes, dear, of course……” As if he didn’t have better things to do at his typewriter, what with an alien invasion looming and all…
“It’s where they get the water for the guests,” Dad said with a smile, settling Dorrie down at the table.
“Naught-ah,” she shot back, wiggling down into her chair. “Cause I didn’t see anybody go there while we waited.”
“They are sneaky. Full up a bucket in a second and then gone.”
“All right, it’s for punishing little girls who talk back to their elders and don’t eat their dinner.”
Dad smiled again. “Of course not. It’s only a decoration, Dorrie. Isn’t it pretty.”
“Chris, your brother has something for you!”
Chris slammed the door. Just what he did not need right now. His mother. Just another fight waiting to happen.
Davies swung around when he entered the kitchen.
“It’s us,” he said in his strangely high voice, his way of responding to the fight.
“Who’s the one without pants or a shirt?”
He laughed. “Yeah, figures. Which one is me?”
Davies pointed to the cookie with the green sweater and necklace.
“You going to be Rock Star!”
His eyes met his mother’s. She smiled.
“Do you really think it is?” she asked in an awed whisper.
“Where is the wardrobe?”
“You can’t see it from here,” I told her. “It’s to the left of the lamppost.”
Eyes wide, curls dusted with snow, she started into the empty space.
“Do you think we can find it?”
A firm nod.
“One day,” I said.
She nodded again as I took her hand.
“One day,” she agreed. “I am going to find it.”
I glanced right, at the faun peeking around the tree.
“You will,” I said. “I know it.”
PHOTO PROMPT © Liz Young
“It’s a tree!” His friends stood back, looking at lines and angles, but seeing only a huge tree.
He said nothing, captured by the spirit before him, breathing age.
“Hey, you want to go get some snacks?” Jason asked.
Always hungry, that one, but for the wrong things.
He stepped forward, drawn by the inexplicable radiance before him.
“Let’s go. I’m starved.”
“It’s a tree. Big whoop.”
He stepped inside the doorway into darkness. Dizziness. A rush of lightening across his spine.
A rustle of people starting up the path. A pause.
“Hey, where’s Dave?”
He’d come to the beach to stay. Time didn’t matter. Nothing mattered but the beach.
Sometimes he fished, but he always let them go in the end. He didn’t like to see them in such pain.
Sometimes he walked, but the walking got harder as the days went by.
Sometimes he sat and watched the ocean. Daydreamed he could fly out under the waves, a thousand miles in a moment; freedom.
Sometimes he sat and slept. Dreamed about the salt in his blood mixing with the waves, the ache of faraway places.
One time, he just walked into the water.
Not much left from a life of ink-stained fingers and bad food. He’d been a reporter for the Washington Times, but he could have been on the Centerville Herald. The remains were the same.
Tommy looked at the items on John’s desk, taking in the bits and bobs along with memories of his mentor.
“Take what you want,” the editor said. “A new body will be there Monday.”
He should quit less this be his remains as well.
With one hand, he slid the items into the trashcan and walked out of the office.