Monthly Archives: May 2013

Half-Dreams

I used the Random Word Generator at CreativityGames.net for this story too. The words were ‘lamp’ and ‘pyramid.’

***

Lynn sat hunched in her room, staring tiredly at the pyramid base of the desk lamp in the corner. At its long, smooth, sturdy lines, and at the way they rose ever higher until they reached the bright, uppermost point that held them like a sun holding its rays. And as she stared it was almost as if she were back there, back digging and discovering under the big pyramids’ shadows, holding the past’s hand and letting it lead her.

So she continued to gaze, until in her tiredness the lamp faded and skewed and became very large. Then, her eyes drooping more, Lynn had the impression she was standing under the towering lamp, digging into the wood grain of her desk. And she reached her small-large hand toward the grain, to brush it away and reveal its treasure, but as she did she felt a small rush come to her so that her eyes opened fully, and she pulled her hand away.

She slowly looked around then, gradually moving her gaze from the lamp and the desk to the farther-off half-lit shapes that filled much of the room. Eventually her eyes reached the bed, where her husband still slept soundly, his thick, light-brown hair curving around the pillow softly and deferentially. Lynn stared at him for a moment, observing how much brighter he was than everything around him, before quietly standing and tiptoeing down the hall to the small bed where Sophia slept. And she watched Sophia too, watched the way her young, pale face picked up the light of her nightlight and glowed through the dark like a gentle wish.

Eventually Lynn walked back to her room, and she was more awake than before so that she brushed her fingers over the wind-like grain of the desk and felt it smooth and warm and strong. Then she carefully turned off the lamp and shuffled to bed.

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Morning

The morning rises like a flower
Newly watered, sunned and powered,
But rises heavy, like the plant
That, sustenance-filled, droops first to pant.
Though still it comes in all its weight,
Making eyes open slow like fate,
And making the man slowly roll
From bed to hardness – full to hole,
And then making him trudge along –
An off-key, mismatched, unknown song.
And as he slides with feet like hooves,
He slowly searches for day’s grooves,
And questions why he searches so,
Like he’s a train afraid to go
Apart from its track straight and worn
To places grand, unknown, untorn.
And so he wonders faraway
If something new should make the day,
And wonders why, and wonders how,
And wonders if the past is now.
He sighs a sigh empty and sad
As if the day’s some long-worn fad,
And looks around his quiet world
At sights unseen and sounds unheard.
And these things touch his consciousness
A little more, a little less,
Like a caressing summer breeze,
Or a child wishing please,
So that he looks around once more
At things so different than before,
And then he spots the well-used tracks
And rides along, and sees the lacks
Of cities far and cities grand
Fade before a humbler land.
Just like the plant inside its fence
That each day finds new sustenance,
And dreams of all the fence can be
And enters then the best city.

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Fireplace

For this story, I used the random word generator at CreativityGames.net for inspiration. I randomly generated two words – ‘fireplace’ and ‘signs’ – and wrote the story based around them. It was a fun way to get a story idea, and I hope to use it more in the future.

Here’s the story.

***

“Strange to imagine that a couple hundred years ago this was one of the most important things in life, especially this time of year,” said Wally as he motioned toward the fireplace behind him before expertly folding his tie.

“Hmm,” said Laura. She looked quickly up from her book, at Wally and then at the fireplace, and she wondered why she felt startled.

“Only way people had to keep warm,” he continued. “No central heating, none of that. Just a fireplace and blankets. Makes you think.”

“Sounds kind of nice,” said Laura.

Wally laughed. It was a hard and grating laugh, and it wasn’t his. “Not at all. You know how hard those people had it,” he said. “You can’t romanticize the past.”

Laura nodded. He was right, of course. He usually was. But still she stared sadly at the old, discolored bricks behind him. Then she watched him walk briskly toward the front door.

“Have a good time tonight,” she said tentatively. Wally’s gait slowed for a moment as she spoke. Then Laura saw him open the door slightly, slide out it, and close it quickly behind him, as if to avoid releasing any extra cold air toward her.

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Happy Punday

Here are the puns I tweeted during the past week, plus one more.

Why was the computer keyboard so wild? None of the keys were under Control.

What course did the architecture major take at the end of his college career? His capstone.

What did the geometry teacher need to do on his son’s mortgage? Cosine it.

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Why?

Why each year do blooms return
Same as before, this soothing change
Like gentle waves moved as the sun
And moon and Earth in awe arrange?
These blooms that are so known they’re hid
From wonder – trapped under its lid.
And why do people start again
In days cold, dreary and slate-gray,
And tread through walls strong and unseen,
And then repeat it all next day?
There must be something hidden there
That powers through and makes for care.
And why does string make melody
When pressed with hair that’s stretched and smooth?
Why don’t the two just scratch and bleed
And the ether’s inside never soothe?
So new it’s old, so old it’s new,
In places deep and places true.
And why do laughter, talk and smiles,
Why do warmth and things unbought,
Find wonder’s subtle center too?
These things unlearned and things untaught.
The answer reflects clear like rain
That falls and stops and falls again.
And why do questions echo on
Same as before, but different-sourced,
As generations pass to next
In cycles loved and cycles forced?
It’s always known, it’s always not,
And that’s the mystery of the lot.

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Two Poems

Something Inside
There was something in the singer’s voice
That cried out like a lost choice,
As the music hurtled through the room
In a fragile, vulnerable tune.
The man in the room heard the sound
And woke from half-sleep’s dreary ground,
So that he felt a hint quite still
And light and clear like air, until
He heard the heartstrings of the song
Inside him like a sadness long.
And as he lay he let it fill
Him hot and cold and hot until
All the empty things were sore,
And then he heard the song once more.

Colors
There are many blue shades
In the sky and the sea,
In the eyes open wide,
And the china for tea.
There are so many greens
In the leaves and the stalks,
In the coral far deep,
And the shell that still walks.
There are many of gray
In the clouds soft and hard,
In the days that have passed,
And the rains in the yard.
And when they combine
They could all turn to mud,
Or could find themselves light
And in light be a bud.

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A Quiet Evening

Ralph walked quickly from his car to the front door, the way he always did. It was a nice spring night, he thought briefly as he shuffled along the sidewalk and brushed against the bush that covered part of the path with its tentacle-like branches. Then he deftly slid the key into the lock and turned the door handle. An array of images and thoughts – the meeting earlier that day and the presentation he had to put together that night and the trip that weekend – ran through his mind as he followed the thin routine, and he felt the thoughts surround him like a sterile but warm cover. And as he swung open the door and saw the familiar tiled hallway and off-white walls and intricately patterned front rug, the cover fell away for the slightest moment, as if hit by a great and sudden wind, but then it quickly returned.

‘It’s pretty quiet,’ he thought for a moment, and he headed to the garden in the backyard to see if Cindy was there. She probably was, he figured. The kids might be too. He shook his head slightly. He didn’t understand it – all the time she spent there with those silly flowers, and the time the kids spent there with her between school and homework and all their other activities – but they were entitled to their hobbies. When Ralph reached the back door and stuck out his head though, he saw the garden was empty, and he laughed softly to himself.

Right, he remembered, the meeting. Cindy wouldn’t be home for a few hours still. The rest of the evening began to come back to him too – Chris with his sleepout, Amelia with her school dance. And suddenly the house felt larger than it had before, and Ralph realized he couldn’t remember the last time he was alone inside it. It was no matter though, and as Ralph thought back to his presentation he saw the house transform, with its green couch and wood-paneled kitchen and elegant paintings and all the rest shrinking and dulling until they were nothing but the office versions of themselves. Then he reached for his phone and checked his email before getting to work. But there was a message from Bob there, and he opened it. “Good news, Ralph. Client doesn’t need that presentation after all. Looks like you’ve got the night off. Enjoy.”

Ralph felt a bit dizzy for a moment. It was an odd, stripped-away kind of dizziness, and it turned deep inside him. Then he closed the email and sat down, and everything was very quiet. He began to wonder if there was another project he could get ahead on – something to fill the emptiness. He thought of the reports he had to meet with Bob about, the reviews with the new associates, the work for the trip north that weekend, but they were all already locked into their own time and place, affixed to that mechanical mosaic schedule he had mastered over the years, so that there was nothing for him now.

It was funny, he thought then – the one night he was free to spend with his family, and there they were, scattered far from him. Not that it was a surprise, of course. They were always doing their own thing. Cindy with her job and her garden and Chris with his soccer and Amelia with her theater. And the kids had their garden time with Cindy, and she’d watch their games and plays, and Ralph would try to catch one when he could too. But still, it was all so scattered. That was just how it was.

Ralph reached for his phone again and opened an article someone had emailed earlier that day. ‘No use in wasting the evening,’ he said to himself as he started reading. But the words didn’t connect like they were supposed to, and eventually he placed down the phone. Then he looked at the walls and windows and everything around him, and he saw them all skew strangely so that the house wasn’t an office anymore. So Ralph looked at the house, at what it was and what it wasn’t, and he felt it sweep off his cover like it would when he first opened the front door after another long day. But this time the cover stayed off much longer, so that he had time to wonder why it wasn’t there.

He stood up restlessly and began to walk, and he listened to his footsteps, weak and tentative on the light-blue rug. And as he walked Ralph tried to envision what Chris and Amelia and Cindy were doing at that moment, tried to ease himself with the thoughts. But it was all very blurry and filled with holes, and the holes were gaping and dark. Then Ralph tried to see Cindy’s garden in his mind, and what flowers were in it and how much they had grown since she planted them. She was always talking about it, he thought sadly, always offering to show it to him. And she always sounded so happy when she did – so happy even though he would usually say he was too busy. And even after he said no her face would remain bright, as if she were covering something too.

So Ralph shuffled to the back door and went outside and looked at the flowers, and they were sickeningly unfamiliar. Then he walked slowly toward them and he felt the cool spring breeze touch him like a very long ago thing, and he sat by the garden and watched it and wondered why it looked so beautiful.

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