Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Return

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

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The Return

It had been weeks since he had walked through this door. Jake stood on the front porch and stared at the weathered wood. A few patches of paint remained—the only indication that the door had once been red.

Leaving had not been easy. Staying, he knew, would have been worse.

He couldn’t listen to the shouting anymore, witness his father’s maniacal tirades, watch his mother cower in terror. He knew, now, why she didn’t defend herself. She had known that if the man the law recognized as his father—though he never saw him as that—had nothing else to beat on, he would turn to her son. And Jake knew, deep in the pit of his soul, that it would mean more than just a beating.

The day he left was testament to that.

His mother, weakened in body and spirit, was slumped on the filthy kitchen floor, unable to defend herself.

“Get up, you lazy whore!” His hulking mass leaned into her, his face mere inches from hers. Spittle flew from his mouth onto her face. She didn’t even blink. “I ain’t finished with you yet, bitch. Get up or I’ll play with the boy.”

Her eyes flickered at the threat and she tried to move, but was unable. Her eyes, wide with fear, flew to Jake who stood trembling in the doorway. Jake remembered all to well watching his father’s head twist to leer at him. And Jake knew. Looking into those cold eyes, he knew. But he was 13 years old now—a man. His Mama might not be able to defend him any more, but he would take care of her now.

He steeled himself as his barrel-chested father staggered over to him. “C’mere, boy.” A pale tongue darted out to flick over cracked lips. Jake suppressed a shudder. As the beefy arms reached out. Jake squeezed by the hulking mass and lunged for the counter, groping for anything that would serve as a weapon. Jake’s hand wrapped around something cold and he clutched it with a vice-like grip. Whirling around, he turned to face his father and swung his arm. The older man howled in pain, his eyes staring at his son in surprise. He looked down at the dark stain that spread across his shoulder.

Jake either didn’t see it, or chose to ignore it. He continued to hack at his attacker, his vision blurred with rage. He slammed the knife into the soft flesh over and over. His arm pistoned like an oil drill. Crimson lava flowed like a river across the dirty kitchen floor.

“Jake.” It was a whisper, but the soft voice broke through his trance. He glanced over at his mother, who watched him. She sat on the floor, slouched against the cupboards. Her skirt was torn, exposing her right leg all the way up to her greyed panties. The other leg—a mere hump beneath the tattered skirt—was twisted at an impossible angle. A trickle of blood leaked from the corner of her swollen lips. “Jake,” she whispered again, pleading with her eyes.

Jake scurried over on his hands and knees, tracking blood and dirt across the floor. He pushed his mother’s dishevelled hair from her face and tucked it behind her ear, leaving a scarlet smear across her cheek.

“Run,” she said.

Jake shook his head, glanced behind him at the bloody mess.

“Run.” She gripped his wrist with surprising strength. “Run!”

And he did. He ran as fast as his legs could take him, knowing that it was his mother’s way of protecting him one last time.

He was tired of running now. He would face his demons and pay the heavy price for his salvation.

The house was run down now. Weeds choked the brown lawn, bare patches dotted the roof. It was clear no one had bothered to maintain the house. Perhaps no one wanted to live in a house that had a horrific history, where someone had been butchered. The fact that the monster deserved it meant nothing.

The hinges creaked in protest as Jake pushed the door open. The stench hit him like a wall, slammed into him with such force that he staggered back two steps. His stomach revolted and he retched his breakfast onto the decaying floor. He dragged his sleeve across his mouth and took tentative steps toward the kitchen, already knowing what he was going to see.

Maggots crawled over one another, vying for position on the mound of liquefied flesh they consumed. The plaid shirt and faded jeans were the only things that identified the wriggling mass as once being human. Jake’s gaze darted over to where he knew his mother sat.

In some macabre form of respect, the maggots chose not to feed on her. Instead, she looked as she had when he had run from this home. Her hair was pulled back from her face, tucked lovingly behind her ear. Her eyes stared at him, unseeing, but the message they sent was clear.

“Welcome home, Jake.”


Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

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He drew the arrow back, pulled it taut and gazed through the site. He shifted, adjusted for the wind and let the string go, sending the pointed missile flying.

Carole glanced up. Saw something bullet through the air. It appeared to be aimed right at her.

“What the...?” She squinted, cocked her head to one side. “Is that...?”

Her eyes widened as she realized what it was.

“Oh no you don’t!” And she dove into the bushes.

Carole crawled out, pulling twigs and leaves from her hair. She gaped at the arrow that now quivered in the ground in the exact place she had stood moments before. She glanced up at the sky.

A plump cherub shook his fist at her, his blonde curls bouncing about his round face. Carole yanked the arrow from the ground and waved it at him.

“Nice try buddy.”

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cookie Caper

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

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Cookie Caper

Reaching behind the box of granola and rice puffs, she pulled her emergency stash of double fudge cookies from the back of the cupboard. Selecting two chocolate sandwiches from the bag, she cradled them in her hand as though they were priceless Faberge eggs.

Halfway to her bedroom, she spun around and ran back to the kitchen to snatch four more cookies from the bag. “Screw it,” she muttered into the darkness, “the diet starts tomorrow.”

Monday, February 8, 2010

These Games We Play

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice.

Four-line poem.

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These Games We Play

If I had known the outcome, would I have played;
would I have even followed the rules?

Or would I have cheated, like you did,
to ensure that I win and you lose?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Morning Commute

Today's muse: A spectacular sunrise greeted me this morning.

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Morning Commute

Trees, houses and factories whisk by as the train speeds across the tracks—a harsh reminder that life passes by at a dizzying pace. My anxiety level increases exponentially as the distance between home and work shrivels.

The world closes in, presses against the windows. It is suffocating. A blur of trees and dishevelled backyards passes by, then—without warning—the world opens up. For just a moment, it is as though the veil that covered my eyes has been snatched away and a great surprise is revealed.

The vast expanse of Lake Ontario stretches before me. It is a tiny window of opportunity to cleanse my soul, but I take it. Claw greedily at the peace it offers, before it disappears behind graffiti-covered reinforcement walls.

Each morning is different; a barometer of mood. Not mine. Theirs.

Some days, the wind churns the dark water, whipping it into a frenzy as the geese bob up and down on roller coaster waves. Others, clear glass mirrors the sky above; a delicate balance between this world and the next.

As the train bullets through the commuter corridor, I take a moment to regroup. I lay down my book and gaze out the window at the greeting the gods bestow on me this morning. My heart beat steadies, the weight on my shoulders dissolves. Tranquility washes over me, infuses every pore.

Moments before the window closes, I take a cleansing breath and send my thanks, ready to face a new day.