Family Anatomy: Corn

The boy sitting across from me has the unkempt, derelict look that the young seem to favor. Snarled streaked hair that resembles the back-end of a Collie, a black wool knit cap resting on a skinny thigh. Self-conscious foot-tapping too rhythmic to be restlessness. He wears thick black-framed glasses and a goatee that looks like pale cake frosting. He looks up from his phone, stares at the ingress and egress of the specialty stores ($5 for bottled water!) with a bored pantomime of someone who’s seen it all. I say “boy”, but he could be anywhere from 17 to 35. The froth of hair makes it hard to pin it down. He’s wearing work boots over his jean cuffs, but the ‘work’ part is only for esthetics. Not a smudge, not a nick or scar, and flopping mismatched bootlaces.

My hands folded over a newspaper I haven’t opened. My eyeglasses are in my pocket so everything is hazy-blurred. Colors, movements, the shape of Collie beside me, tapping his foot. At least a couple of hours before scheduled boarding time, but it’s still snowing. Could be an overnight delay. Sorry, Connie.

When I left home for the last time, it was deep summer, the smell of tall corn living inside the air. Going back will be like stepping into a black and white photograph. I remember the smells of lilac and the spongy wet soil from the back garden. Linen sheets banking against the wind, snapping like bullwhips; a turquoise colored sky. Cindy sitting beside me, hands folded, her face sour from denied tears and anger. It’ll be all right, I said. I don’t know if I believed it or not. The objective was to get away, far away. Away from the small talk, the speculation, the punctuated stares wherever we went. The smell of damp earth followed us for at least a hundred miles.

Ordinary Handsome: Purple Dress

Excerpt from Ordinary Handsome. Available at amazon.com/dp/B00P46ZPA0 (Reposted from Dec. 24/14)

She wore her purple dress, the one he liked most, because it made her look so pretty. She stood by the sofa, looking pale and sad, and Dad was there standing beside her. He was wringing his hands, and his face was clean-shaved and just as pale. They were talking real quiet, just a few words, and Euart couldn’t make out what they were saying. He was only five, but he could pick up on their feelings. Both of them looked sad and lost, even in the middle of their own living room. Continue reading Ordinary Handsome: Purple Dress

Driftwood

Another piece of flash fiction from the prompt “Beauty” from Felicity Johns over at http://felicityjohns.com/2015/02/27/friday-flash-beauty/

***

It’s been on the mantel for so long, most people don’t see it. It’s the first thing I see upon waking, and the last thing before I set myself down at night.

A chunk of old driftwood carved into a frame. Our wedding photo. It’s yellowed and curled, but I still see it in color. You standing with a rose bouquet, holding onto it like a sword, and I looking so serious and terrified. We were both terrified, remember? We knew it was something solemn and fragile, no matter the vows. It was you and me becoming us. We were kids who barely understood the weight of that word. Us.

The years passed, the hair faded, the skin became fragile lacework. You wore pant suits and I wore bell bottoms. We danced to Glenn Miller and Steve Miller. We lost a baby in ’74 and I lost my job the next year. Rough years, hard years, but we came through them together, still us.

The ocean carved the frame that holds that first deep memory. The ocean still rolls, the frame still holds.

I close my eyes and I can still see the sweet beauty in your eyes and can hear the ocean rolling over and over, carving another piece of wood for another us. And it will remain, long after the flesh secedes.

Ordinary Handsome: The night

Excerpt from Ordinary Handsome. Available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P46ZPA0

***

But the stress of the night piled on me like scar tissue. It had to be resolved, whatever that meant. So I went back.

It wasn’t an easy decision, but it wasn’t particularly difficult, either. It was meaningless. The feeling of pity wouldn’t leave, and I couldn’t just leave you. That night was the closest thing I’d seen to a traffic jam on Little Route, so I wasn’t worried that the road would be cordoned off.

I tossed a shovel and pick-ax in the trunk. I wasn’t expecting anything other than a corpse.