Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 33
Welcome to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster Flash Fiction Challenge, Week 33.
This is a flash fiction challenge. The prompt is a song. You are not required to write about or even mention the song. It’s there only to get the ideas moving around in your brain pan. If you want to write about the song (or the video- it’s all good here) go for it but don’t feel like you have to.
500 words, but it’s a slushy 500, meaning you can go up to 700 or as low as 300.
Post your entry right in the comments section of this post.
MAKE SURE TO PUT YOUR TWITTER HANDLE NEXT TO YOUR WORD COUNT AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR POST. IF YOU’RE NOT ON TWITTER GIVE ME AN EMAIL ADDRESS OR SOME OTHER WAY TO GET A HOLD OF YOU!
The challenge starts whenever I post this on Tuesday and ends at 4:30PM Pacific Time on Friday. You read that right. Pacific Time.
This week’s song prompt comes courtesy of Hull’s favourite duo… Everything But the Girl.
The tune is… “Missing”. Here’s the link; http://youtu.be/W9VdJA6BCww
This week’s Judge is the adorable & very helpful writer… Ang!
That about does it for me. The challenge is open from the second you read this until 4:30PM Pacific Time on Friday October 4th.
Now go write!!!
Posted on October 1, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.
She found herself standing looking at the house. She had no real idea what she was doing here; she’d just stayed on the Central line and got off, walking automatically to the house. She stood staring at it, it was nothing special, just a suburban terraced house, rented out by the room. Nothing looked different, nothing stood out.
It had been years since she’d been here, and she wondered why she’d come. It’s not like she needed closure anymore, he was gone and had been gone for years, back to his country. But she still thought of him, still thought of their time together especially their early days when he was living there.
She laughed out loud, startling a guy walking his dog on the other side of the road, early days? That was a joke. They’d only been together 9 months, but it had felt longer, such was the intensity of their relationship – both at the beginning when they fell in love and at the end when they argued non-stop, finally driving him back home.
But she missed it, the emotion of it, feeling something – anything.
She had expected to feel tearful, seeing the place again, but no tears came. She turned round and walked back to the Tube station.
When the train arrived, the sound of the doors opening made her realise what had brought her here. On the Central line they had a slightly different rushing sound, and it brought back memories of them catching the train together. She sat in a half empty carriage, recalling moments knowing they were long dead.
Once she changed trains her mood shifted, and as she walked through Waterloo station, other memories flooded in dispelling the strange interlude she’d had.
The late night train was busier than expected and she distracted her thoughts by eavesdropping on other people’s conversation. By the time she reached home the lights were off, so she entered quietly, having a last cigarette in the back garden before going upstairs. She searched the stars for the answer to what it was she was seeking.
After she slid into the bed next to him she lay there listening to his gentle snore. She felt like she was lying next to a stranger, but at the same time someone she’d never been without. She turned onto her side and looked at his bare back in the dim light. He lay right there, but it was like he was a million miles away. She reached out and touched his back. He stirred, and she snuggled up, kissing his back.
Her feelings were so conflicted; on the one hand she wanted to feel close to him, and on the other she wanted to be free of him, but she couldn’t seem to obtain either. After several years of marriage a gulf had appeared, awash with silence, and she wasn’t able to close it. And no matter which direction she pushed in she couldn’t get a response, or stir an emotion. All she could do was lie there and remember a time when things were different.
I have absolutely no idea why I am walking down this street again. Too many times and too many memories that I can’t bury, no matter how many visits I make.
What do I think I can achieve by continually torturing myself in this way? I miss you. I do. But I am the instigator of my own misery. You will not appear at a bedroom window and you will not wave down to me. Will you?
No, you won’t, because I made sure of that years ago. You were a bad one Stan and you pushed me until I could take no more.
I’ve heard it said that no matter how many times a dog is beaten it still tries to cosy up to its master, looking for love and affection, until one day it just turns, because it can take no more.
Bit like me then. So many excuses. So many fresh starts. Too many promises.
And then came the day when I stopped searching for your approval. For a kind word or a hug.
You were the worst Father a man could ever be and one gentle shove as you stood at the top of the cellar stairs was all it took to end my suffering.
But these houses are to be demolished soon and the truth will come out. Or maybe it won’t because you will be skeletal now. They won’t be able to decide how you died. Will they?
A whiskey sodden chap pitching head first down a flight of steps is what they will think.
Most will be shocked because “didn’t Stan up and leave his wife and that young lass a good few years ago?”
Well yes, he did. But he didn’t go far. And me and Ma kept a watchful eye over him for most of those years.
Every once in a while, she would go back to the old neighborhood.
She trembled remembering the nights she had walked those streets. She had been young, foolish and most of the time she had been alone. She had been safer alone than with her friends.
She was always careful not to meet anyone that knew her from the old days.
This might have been difficult once upon a time, but now everyone she had known from back then was either dead or they had also escaped.
At one time she thought she came back to check out what was new. But after a while she had to admit to herself that she knew nothing ever changed in the old neighborhood.
So why did she keep going back?
At first these visits were on foot. Next she drove a company car, a big reliable, ugly sedan. After that she came round in a minivan, but never with the kiddoes in the back. Today, she was driving in a luxury SUV.
She stopped in front of the house. She wanted to get out and see if her name was still carved in the porch rail. She was pretty sure it was, no one had so much as painted the house in decades.
She put the cruiser back into gear. One last look to the right before leaving, but she froze when she saw a little girl staring back through the dirty window. As she stared, a young woman came and picked up the child. The woman saw her staring and closed the curtains.
Caroline put the SUV back into park. Tears. Why was she crying? Time passed as she wrestled with herself.
She knew why she had come back. She wanted to be brave again. Nothing in her life required courage. It was all clear to her now. She would be brave for them. She would show them how to escape.
On the way to the door she confirmed, Caroline was still carved in the porch rail. She had left her mark, and she would do it again
The Old Neighborhood
The alert screams out across the control center, easily silenced with a finger angrily stabbed at the console. The usual argument happens briefly in my mind as I confirm that the catastrophic event alarm was merely triggered by the expected navigational anomaly. Should I just disable the alarm? What happens if a truly catastrophic event happens? I suspect if it truly happens, I won’t need an alarm to tell me, and another loud noise likely won’t be very helpful. As the internal debate continues, the computer’s elegant wiring remains safely untouched for now.
As my scout ship moves past the warning beacons scattered through this system of planets, it approaches one of the smaller spheres. I bring all the displays to life and darken the overhead lights so that it’s almost like floating in dark vacuum. In front of me lies the sickly green planet that I’ve come out of my way to see, covered in swirling vortexes of toxic gas punctuated periodically with lightning. Watching carefully, I see an eddy break free from some upper atmospheric turbulence and a slice of land shows through the opaque blanket, for the briefest of moments. My heart leaps with joy at the lifeless brown husk, even as it is obscured once again. My imagination races with possibilities at the people who once lived there, seeing vibrant homes and fields of green leaves as far as the eye could see. The lives they could have lived stretch before me, tantalizingly distant from my life of recycled air and food rations.
My thoughts are brought back to the present by the scraping impact of debris across the hull. No real damage done, but it punctuates the futility of coming back here. Simply put, I miss it. We may find other planets to live on, changing them and settling down, but none of them are home. Earth will always be the planet that humans grew up on, and I miss her, regardless of the illogical sensibility of assigning a gender to a ball of rock. That is especially true of one that’s been poisoned and killed by decades of war. Still, even in death, the planet below is magnificent.
As a young man, one of the last people on the surface below, I had a love. We would sit under the protective domes and look at the rainbows of sunset as the light fractured through the polymers and poisons in the air. As the deserts around our biodomes cried out for clean water, we would sit and consider the past and fear for the future. Our people have moved on, out amongst the stars to better places. When the final evacuation came, we were separated. Hopefully, her ark made it to a lush green world. Now, as I make my rounds through the galaxy, searching for survivors, resources, and safe places to settle, I still come back here every chance that I get. Hope was one thing that I left behind on the surface. Looking at the past of our people helps me to remember what we’ve lost, and what I truly hope to return to some day. After an hour of mourning over the planet’s corpse, I set a course for my assigned route, and get back to work.
545 words, @BryantheTinker
LOST AND FOUND
For the life of her, since the news broke, she couldn’t get to work on time. Kept walking through the old neighborhood and pausing in front of the apartment complex, the book store, the bus stop. She knew he wasn’t there – well, her mind did, anyway – but her heart kept telling her to hang on, hold out.
Nostalgia, weather, and an umbrella mishap put her at the coffee shop thirty-three minutes late. Thankfully, weather seemed to be a factor in other lives too, judging by the near empty tables and drive-thru. Everyone was so kind, so understanding. Anybody else would’ve been out on the street but being the boss’ niece continued to save her, even when she wasn’t so sure she wanted saving.
The war was over but he wasn’t coming home. She’d known it for nearly a year now but with all the soldiers returning, her stubborn heart wanted to believe otherwise. If she could just somehow get jolted out of this damn … who was that at the end of the counter? She crossed the distance in quick strides and tapped him on the back.
He turned and for a moment, a breath or two, she was looking at a ghost, and then he smiled and the apparition was gone. Same crew cut. Same clean shave. Same respectful demeanor. Different man. This one was alive.
She couldn’t keep the disappointment out of her voice. “Apologies. I thought you were someone else.”
He stood up, favoring his left leg as did. “Katy, right? Your aunt said eight o’clock. Hope you don’t mind that I’m a little early. Still getting the terrain figured out and didn’t want to make you wait.”
Wait for what? She kept staring into those gray eyes as though the answer was there.
“You have no idea who I am or what I’m talking about, do you? I’m supposed to take lead on the morning shift once you get me trained. Still not registering, huh? If you like, I’ll come back when your aunt gets in this afternoon.”
She shrugged out of her damp coat. “No, that won’t be necessary. I didn’t bother to check my phone messages this morning. I’m sure Aunt Phyllis outlined everything for me. She’s very efficient like that. Wish I’d inherited that instead of the family freckles. Anything else I should know about you before we get started?”
“Your aunt mentioned something about an upstairs studio too, though don’t know how that will work,” he said, smoothing a palm over his thigh. “The veteran’s clinic is supposed to get me assigned to a physical therapist next week. Doc says I won’t ever regain full mobility but long as I can hobble around the basketball court, I’ll be good.”
She leaned against the counter. “Mind if I ask why you’d want to serve overpriced coffee to an uptown clientele? What I mean is, why work here when you’re qualified for better things.”
“I’m not looking to make a career here. Just trying to find somewhere low key to fit in while I get my bearings. Coming home, being stateside again, it’s great. It is. Thing is, I miss being over there. The familiar routine. The camaraderie . I’m trying to make sense of it but …”
How did anyone make sense of life? Maybe the best you could hope for is to muddle through without causing too much upset to other people. Of course, to do that, you’d have to honest with yourself, acknowledge that you’d been holding on to some things that weren’t yours to begin with.
And maybe the only way to let go was to take hold of something new. She linked arms with him. “Come on, Alley-oop. I’m going to let you fix me a cup of coffee and show me what you know about the java business.”
The way his chuckle stirred her pulse and his body pressed warm and firm against hers, one thing was certain: there weren’t going to be any more late mornings, empty days, or lonely nights.
Maybe sometimes you had to find something before you realized what it was you’d been missing.
– – – – –
@bullishink / 692 words
I stare at the thin sliver of yellow light in the upstairs window as it escapes from behind the drapes. Tears smart and a silver coil swirls from my lips as I rub my gloved hands together. I run my finger along the rusted gate, watching shards of frost gather and drop. The pounding in my chest threatens to fell me and it takes every ounce of resolve to move my leaden legs and walk away.
My boots clump on the glittering, early morning pavement, as they have every day this week. I retrace yesterday’s footprints to the end of the street and slide round the corner. There, against the rows of garage doors, I give in to my tears and feel the sting of warmth roll down my frozen cheeks. Dark spots appear on my mackintosh, and my hands shake as I lift them to my face.
I gather wits and wipe away tears, and push away from the wall. I walk a familiar path, decorated with the ghost of my little, pink bicycle speeding uninhibited around the corner, and I smile. Children’s voices dance in my recollection and thirty-year-old pictures invade the street, warming up the cold morning, bathing the pavement in tinged faded memories of childhood.
As I reach the gate, upstairs curtains shift. A tempest whirls within my heart as I stand by the gate. The curtain drops and I push the gate open. Metal screeches against the ground, like it always did, and I flinch as it echoes across the sleepy neighbourhood. I drag my feet up the path and try not to slip on my rubbery legs. The door is new, white and plastic, not blue and broken.
A light snaps on behind the door and it takes everything I have not to turn and flee. Nausea rises, my stomach churns and I’m breathless. My hands shake, and I shiver with more than the frosty morning chill.
I imagine her face, lined and old, but familiar and…and what? It had been almost twenty years since I left; my soft, compliant hand in the firm grip of a social worker. I’d gone without a fight, because I’d had no fight left.
Now the door opens and I stare. She stands in a stark flood of light. I swallow, my throat as dry as the desert, and choke out something incomprehensible.
She places a hand on my arm. “Are you alright?” she asks in an alien voice.
“You’ve stopped outside every day this week,” she continues.
I nodded again.
“Have you got the right address?” Her face is gentle with concern. “Come on in, you look shattered.”
I shake my head. “Mrs Fenwick…”
She shakes her head. “No one here by that name.” She gazes past me. “Maybe…several tenants ago.”
“Do you know where..?”
She shakes her head again. “I’m sorry my love, past my time, and old Mrs Davies, next door, passed away, so she won’t know, and the Andrews are gone too…”
I step back, my feet almost tripping over each other.
“Won’t you come in? It’s so cold out there.”
I shake my head and sniff. I want this lady’s arms around me.
“Who was she?” asks the lady.
I shake my head again and I rush away down the old familiar path, the words barely making it out of my mouth as I run. “My mother…”
The Dry Valleys
There’s some ignorant man sat opposite me – in your seat – looks constantly like he is about to pick his nose. I want him to so that I can look at him with disdain. He is in your seat – today.
Two years ago you sat there and we talked as we always did – “soul mate talk” you called it. I sometimes have our conversations over in my head again, sometimes I tweak them a bit, sometime I invent new conversations too. Who am I kidding? I do it every day.
Our last real conversation – two years ago today – had been about our favourite deserts, I’d said had to be the Chilean one – the one with the Nazca Lines and all that hokum – but you trumped me with the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica. They sounded properly fascinating them and I’d agreed that on our fantasy honeymoon the desert part of it would be spent in the dry valleys.
He did it! – the ugly man thought I didn’t notice but he just picked his nose – I look at him with superior superiority through the window’s mirror reflection – in your seat.
Over that last week we had sorted out our fantasy honeymoon destinations in terms of the tropics, cities, national parks, sporting events (because I loved you) and finally deserts. And then you left me without a word.
Having this daily commute doesn’t let me forget you. We met here, we talked here, we gradually fell in love here, we realised we were soul mates here, how it was just meant to be – even though we both said we didn’t believe in any of that clap-trap I’m sure we both secretly did.
Each day since I have sat in the same seat opposite yours – ignoring the morons who take the train with me. Most days we’ve talked.
God I miss you Simon.
It’s a special day today – two years since the McMurdo decision – so ’m going to walk past your house and talk with you there for a change. Where ever you are. Perhaps you can tell me why you left me here – alone. We were soul mates, strike that – we are ARE soul mates.
Tomorrow if I’m strong enough I may visit your grave, but that would be like admitting you really did die in that crash. If I did that then I’m afraid that I wouldn’t be able to have these conversations with you anymore. And I’d miss that.
Matt sat in the coffee shop, Financial Times in hand, a perfectly executed cappuccino steaming on the table in front of him. He looked out the window to see Manhattan bustling with life, people moving in “New York time” yelling and honking all while effectively ignoring one another. He looked back to his paper and his cup, then pulled out his phone. Might as well call in; it was going to be one of those days.
He didn’t have those days very often any more. Occasionally though, she would creep into the back of his mind and sit patiently until he relinquished all other thoughts. When memories of her demanded his attention he knew it was useless to do anything productive. He snapped his phone shut after having his secretary cancel five meetings and reschedule two. The work would just have to pile up – today was hers.
Matt glanced back to the street. It was warm for October but she would have loved it. Autumn in New York was always her favorite time. He paid for his coffee and walked out to the street. He dismissed his driver. Being with her was a solitary thing. He allowed the wave of moving people to sweep him down the street. She had loved walking through the city. And the subway – God knows why she had loved the subway. But it had been her preferred way to travel between destinations too far apart to trek by foot. She had said the trains were like portals, flying through the darkness to deposit travelers in new lands and on great adventures. Matt had always smiled and teasingly reminded her that there was nothing new or exciting about Coney Island or Broadway. She would bump his hip with her own and give him a sly smile before stating it was all about perspective.
He pulled out of his nostalgia and realized he was standing on a platform with a throng of people waiting on the train. He smiled; this was the train that stopped at her old apartment. She was guiding him on this journey down memory lane and it warmed his heart. He could almost feel her hand in his pulling him onto the train as the doors peeled open. The stale air in the subway car offended his nose. He loosened his tie and removed his jacket, feeling sweat popping up on his back. It had been years since he had traveled through the underbelly of the city. But the heat and the stench, the mass of humanity stuffed in like sardines, made him feel alive; made him feel closer to her.
He left the train in the East Village, moving back into the sunlight. The streets felt familiar and foreign all at once. He walked through the buildings until he stood outside her apartment, looking up at the window that used to be hers. He imagined her leaning out, her dark hair moving with the air and her smile brighter than the sun itself. God, he missed her. His feet carried him to Washington Square, his mind and heart overwhelmed by the sight of an empty window.
It had been twelve years and twenty-four days since she’d left him; since the Towers had come down. She had moved on to “a better place”, on an adventure he couldn’t join. Matt had thrown himself into his career. And twelve years later he had the perfect apartment, the perfect bank account, the perfect life. But he had never moved on, moved past her love. He had everything. Everything but the girl.
Loved every line! Brilliant.
She sat staring out the window, watching specks of color become recognizable objects. Bringing the pixilated Chicago skyline into a fluid, meandering reality. Each barreling inch of the plane’s approaching decent drew her heart into her throat.
The city of her alma mater. Her home no more. With relative calmness, she acquired a cab and her bags.
“Where to?” The lethargy evident through the thickened accent of the driver. She’d forgotten how she enjoyed the presence of people all around, contributing nothing of actual valuable content to her day. Chatter, inane interaction, she’d forgotten.
“The Drake—” She spoke as if she’d been a hundred times.
Her mind sped as the taxi crawled, and then she noticed the ‘L’ running overhead. In a second she was whisked back.
Headboard clacking, in the tiny apartment that seemed to sit astride the ‘L.’ It wasn’t the train rattling across the tracks, in the room that night, shaking the headboard. With every clink and rattle of the metal rapping against the deteriorating plastered wall, she was bound further to him. The humid summer night only added to the heat produced between lust-filled bodies in the decadent darkness.
“Ms. … The Drake.”
“Oh, thanks.” She hadn’t realized her memories would be so vivid with her return. Sights and sounds of familiarity all contributed to a past she’d never forget, never quite understand.
A long way from the days as a struggling student. Beautifully appointed room with all the indications of a successful life. Only it was all wrong. She retreated as quickly as she entered and headed down to the bar.
A bartender—the kind that took it as a profession, not a struggling college student—approached. “What’ll it be?”
“Glenfiddich, neat.” She elicited another automatic response, which struck her odd. She hated scotch. It burned and reminded her of him. It was exactly what she needed. She wanted to feel it, completely. For a moment. Perhaps, for a day. She sat and sipped and let the burn coat her throat, numbing her mind and body.
Goosed flesh also a reminder, no matter how long ago, the ache hadn’t faded. Time hadn’t healed all. It continued to suffocate. She finished off the room-temperature libation and tipped the man behind the bar. She wasn’t sure if she tipped him for the drink or the memories.
Determined, in an unknown direction, she headed out into the night. The clicking of her heels became forefront in her mind, the sound painfully familiar. Then she knew exactly where her feet were leading.
Nothing about that old rundown apartment from her past should have elicited such fond memories, yet every decrepit detail did so, deliciously. All the beauty housed within The Drake couldn’t compare to the crumbling apartment where all the promises, ultimately to become broken, were once made.
Strappy sandals typed out a staccato rhythm on the pavement as she took three quick strides for each one of his. They entered the building quickly. Hitting the second flight of stairs, he backed her into the wall of the stairwell. Hands firmly on her thighs, he lifted and urged himself forward nearer her needy body.“God, Julia, there is no one like you, the way you answer my soul. I want to wrap myself in your scent and drown.”
She remembered the day the air in the stale apartment, he’d rented for them, turned acrid. It had signaled the end. She’d fallen prey to his unrehearsed appeal, but he wasn’t wearing khakis that would become rumpled in a stollen hour. His expensive suit made him stand impossibly taller as he said goodbye.
She drew a last, languid look at the exterior of the lamp-lit building that housed the clandestine, once coveted, room. The stairwell that kept hushed secrets.
She turned and steadied her stride, heading away from the street she should’ve never retraced with her steps. The noise of the rustling city assailed her ears, bringing her back to the present moment. Tears began to trickle a well worn path, the salt abrasive against her tender skin. She returned to The Drake and cocooned herself in its staged beauty and false warmth, without answers.
Well darn! Found a typo 😦 It should be descent not decent.
Never Go Back
“…but that’s the one place in the world where she’s not going to be. It’s five years since we missed her when she ran… Yes, fair enough, I missed her, but the fact remains… Yes… It’s just, if we have a new location, perhaps I should go there. Make amends so to speak… No. of course I’m not defying you, Sir… Yes, I understand perfectly. I’ll be there by this evening.”
Stone’s breath was clearly visible and the windows were starting to mist over. To start the engine and un-fog the glass or to sit here freezing outside a building he would soon no longer be able see? Not that he needed to see it. He knew it like his own reflection. He’d even been back a few times, reflecting on his first visit.
He checked again that the interior light switch in the rental car was off before getting out. She wouldn’t come back.
Before the wind stole their warmth away, Stone thrust his hands deep into the pockets of his heavy winter coat. The hammer of the revolver had caught on the hole in the lining he kept forgetting to patch. He fingered the small piece of polished tigers eye. His lucky charm. Stone’s stone.
The sounds of footsteps carried clear and sharp in the icy night air.
An uneven rhythm.
Moving slowly, cautiously.
He took a step back into the shadow of a high Yew hedge and waited, still.
As she came level with his position he saw her head sweep from side to side, a precaution severely limited by the Pashmina that shrouded her head and shoulders. But he didn’t need to see her face.
His hand on her shoulder spun her around and she teetered on her heels, before grabbing his other arm for support. The gun’s weight thumped against his thigh. He didn’t need the gun with her.
“Get in the car – now.”
He bundled her in, offering her the seatbelt, and watching her buckle it. He flipped the kiddie lock and slammed the door.
He drummed his fingers on the wheel as the heater cleared the screen, sneaking sideways glances at her. He roared away as soon as he had a decent circle of vision, even if he had to hunch to see through it.
“Do you still have it?”
“I mean it! Shut up!” His glare convinced her and she subsided.
Out of town, he turned the car onto a narrow farm road. He drove slowly, both because of the icy surface, and because he had switched to side lights and didn’t want to light up the brake lamps.
“Where are we going?”
“We aren’t going anywhere. I’m going back to the main road. After I’ve crashed and burned this car.”
He stopped, facing the ditch at a sharp bend.
“Are you stupid? Why the hell did you come back? Here, of all places?”
“I had to…”
“…there was always going to be me, or someone like me, waiting for you. I told you that… last time. And yes, it’s in my pocket. Always.”
He turned her chin towards him and kissed her.
She pulled back.
“But the call said you were here, but in trouble. Big trouble.”
“Call? What call?”
The cough of an engine and flare of full headlights pinned them to their seats.
“Keep your hands where I can see them, if you please, Mr Stone.”
He grabbed for to his pocket and cursed the snagged hammer as gun refused to come free. He heard a stone drop into the foot well just as the windscreen crazed. The echoes of two shots chased each other into the night.
“Yes, Sir… Both of them… If you recall, at the time I suspected… Yes, Sir… We’ll take care of it… Oh, a crash on a slippery road and a fire, I fancy, Sir.”
“I promise, he lived right THERE.”
The young lady was adamant. She’d known this neighborhood since childhood. Classic brick row houses, a block over from the old part of town.
“Ma’am, nothing there but an empty door frame. The building’s been gone for a long time.”
She stared at the empty lot through the door frame, dumfounded. Then she studied the old man talking to her. He seemed honest enough. But she wasn’t so sure.
“Okay, come on now, jokes on me, very funny!” She feigned laughter.
“Ma’am, I’ve never seen ya before. God’s truth I’m not lying. Ain’t no one lived there since Nixon was president.”
It didn’t make any sense. She’d spent all day with him, right there, just yesterday. She’d been seeing him there for several months. He’d become the focus of her world. Inseparable. And just like that, he was gone, and she was all alone.
She knew he said odd things. But he always had that grin, which she took to mean he wasn’t serious.
“Oh dear lord he wasn‘t joking,” she muttered under her breath.
He’d told her he was only there for a short time. That he was on a mission. From God. Visions of “Blues Brothers” always ran through her head and drowned him out whenever he’d go into his mission-from-God stuff. Besides, he was gorgeous. She never much listened to what he said. She just enjoyed the sound of his voice. And staring him up and down. She KNEW there had to be a catch, but she never imagined it would be a supernatural one.
She kissed him once. And then again, the other the day. Some of the only times he’d let her touch him. A brief peck on the lips, but each time a bolt of energy surged through her that sent her flying. She assumed he was just being a gentleman, but she wondered if maybe he was afraid to touch her. Afraid he might hurt her.
She kicked at the debris strewn about the lot, each stone another memory, another moment with him.
“I’m from the fifth dimension,” he would tell her.
She’d asked him how he got around, because he never had a car or any transportation. “I just walk through a portal. Or fly, if I feel like it.”
She yelled his name several times. Maybe the “fifth dimension” was within shouting distance.
“Fifth dimension,” she mumbled. “I’ve lost my mind.” Her thoughts were racing through the possibilities. Had she entered his dimension all those times they spent together? The “house” was immaculate inside, colors so vibrant they made her high.
“Maybe I traveled in time,” she thought. Where exactly was the fifth dimension, anyway? She wished she’d paid more attention to what he told her. She had so many questions.
Reluctantly, she walked out into street. Nothing made sense anymore.
“Say, miss, I don’t suppose you could help me out? Miss?” Jolted from her thoughts, she noticed the old man talking to her.
“I’m sorry. I sorta zoned out there. What’ya…” She stopped mid sentence. He had been beaten. Severely. She pulled out her phone. “Who do I need to call? Do you have any family nearby?”
He did not. He lived alone.
“Mission from God,” she mumbled while dialing 911. “I got this.”
Arm-in-arm, they slowly made their way along the tree-lined avenue.
“By the way, I’m Susan.”
“My wife’s name was Susan.” He managed a broad grin. They hobbled along together, disappearing into the distance — street lights flickering, moon waxing — beneath an autumn sky.