The birds outside the window must be wondering where we are. They can still fly, observe from above, and the city is empty, those big boxes of metal and plastic, we call them cars, are parked idle on the side of what we use to travel or walk, we call them streets. Bird Two says to Bird One they can finally breathe and the message is relayed. Another bird comes, Bird Three, slightly different chirp, he was at the park earlier, to catch the proverbial worm naturally, and the gates there are closed. Bird One is astounded, but Bird Three, worldly and well-flown, explains the parks are shut because we didn’t understand what it means to stay home. He tells the story of how Big Man in government told all of us to stay home, then urged us, then pleaded, but we all went out anyway. Drastic Measures, National Shutdown, and Bird One has a shiver when he hears the words. Chilly morning, huh? Spring is coming. Spring is here – March 12, can you believe it? Bird Two can maybe count the days, and be astonished. Do they care? Should they? The world is theirs! (this morning) – they fly away.
They must both work downtown, but downtown is big. So the suburban rail carries them both in, briefcases and all. They must see a bit of the country in between the dark tunnels, which is “quite something” now that the sun rises early. Once off the train at the Northern Junction they go their separate ways. A have-a-good-day kiss never seemed so week-daily real amidst the morning rush, dusty litter swirling in the breeze and the three (red, blue and green) plastic buckets where the dripping water off the humid station walls sets a rhythm nobody pays attention to.
In response to: https://carrotranch.com/2019/03/21/march-21-flash-fiction-challenge/
Through the woods, at the end of a track that goes along a stream (mom swears she used to bathe in it as a child with her friends) there’s a mill and the modern-day idea of a quaint cluster of small farmhouses – a B&B proves the point, and so does an old shed, of mossy bricks and rotten beams, untouched by the renovating fury, showing a massive wooden plough, stuck in time and dust and cobwebs. In El Dorado somewhere in the Andes, ploughshares were made of silver, and this gripped the imagination of a farmer who might have heard of the legend. One morning, as he went about his day, he must have stopped and pondered whether it was worthwhile to send at least one of his nine children to check if that was true. (Mom says they would rest under that giant oak after bathing and then run back to the village before sunset, so no one knew where they’d been.)
I turned the heat off. For two days, in February. The weather’s deceived me, though. It’s gotten cold again. Now it’s one of those days when you’d love to be, or you’re reminded of, a house in the country surrounded by hills, a fire crackling in the big living room, rectangular windows to the outside world, biting cold, but cloudless light-blue, when you feel nature knows best, she wouldn’t be taken in by a few warm sun rays. At this latitude! We may have created the concept, but nature knows what it really means. So the heat goes back on, like winter in reverse, and it would be lovely to be carried around the old pipes in the walls, like warm water from the boiler to these white radiators far from the window, as the low cut of the winter sun reaches them, too. They are dusty!
In response to: https://fivedotoh.com/2019/02/25/fowc-with-fandango-reverse/
Warm and cold weather she recognized by the time it took her laundry to dry, although she could never tell exactly when each item of clothing was dry; it had been pointed out to her that something can be humid but not necessarily wet – (“Never trust linen!”) – so she needed another hand to check what her touch told her, which was the light-hearted excuse for the forthcoming marriage, which is how neighbors and passers-by found out her friend had passed, clothes out in the wind for days on end, at the stretch of new balances, just to be sure.
In response to: https://carrotranch.com/2018/12/14/december-13-flash-fiction-challenge/
At the station early in the morning the first train gets in at 5. No one gets off. The train’s left the Central Station an hour before to reach the end of the coastal line so people can get on. Empty to full, passengers will then alight in the main town, or at some other stop, to work in the factories along the coast. The line, a feat of engineering constantly monitored, gives its best at 4:35 and 4:40 and a little before 5 when dawn breaks the night and the red lights of the big power poles cease to flicker in the dark. The train driver is the lone custodian of these very early contrasts – because you need the empty 4am to have the full 5am train. The towns along the coast are not so big. There’s a saying, everybody knows it, when a thing or a person is like “the 4am train,” it means that you take this thing or person for granted.
In response to: https://fivedotoh.com/2018/11/29/fowc-with-fandango-contrast/
She liked the smell of eggs in the morning, not their taste; so he had them and she was happy. The steaming cup of coffee was for her; he preferred tea. Looking out, she had to admit that the pomegranate tree was the most beautiful tree in the world, its green greener than green, and the shape of its leaves so delicate. She also prayed, without religion, that if routine ever crept in, then lightning could strike her – under her favorite tree! – although, wait, lying there on the grass, a branch of the magnolia would intrude un-aesthetically on the shade of the pomegranate, and she liked the magnolia but that branch was so irregular! She got up and made for the garden. “You’re not making much sense…” And she stopped, wondering if the voice she’d heard was his, or the sweet abstract buzz of those who have gone but can still communicate.
In response to: https://fivedotoh.com/2018/10/24/fowc-with-fandango-abstract/
Grandma used to hang the laundry on those wires, and it would float in the breeze. She had a basket to put it in when dry and I guess I’d follow her up the sloping garden and onto the big expanse of green grass. Behind us, grandpa was picking peaches, apples and pears, orange apricots. Or he was busy inside, at other times, at his income tax – “he uses a calculator and then does it all again by hand to see if the calculator is right!” she’d say. Now their two sons balance his checkbook and he doesn’t seem to care, even laughs at their precision. And the laundry, seldom out to dry on the rusty poles and saggy wires, somebody else collects it. It’s the smell that takes you in – the smell has stayed the same. And the bees, fortunately, buzzing around the flowers. There, those have changed. There used to be so many more.
They hoped there would be something else after Australia, so they sailed on. They had been confirmed in their (dis)belief that the earth was round and in the past that had lifted their spirits in their search for “a passage”, but now it was only bringing them down as each circle was bound to take them back somewhere they already knew. Still, it was a nice day and the ocean stretched ahead peaceful and welcoming. They spotted land and saw people they already knew. They sailed on. Another land and their flag had been staked in the rocks already. An island and they heard their language. Another tiny isle they stumbled upon but by that time it was too small to accommodate their curiosity. Their port of sail seemed different after all the years spent at sea, so when they disembarked, it did feel strange and unfamiliar. And to some of them the feeling lasted for years
I am deaf and yet the world listens. I am blind and yet the world sees. I don’t talk and yet there are sounds. What a strange combination of thoughts. If I were any of these things I would think intuitively everybody else was like me, till they told me it wasn’t so. The other side of the little valley is the village, once thriving, now much less, with the willing effort of a so-called repopulation. We never can let go completely, but it does strike the imagination now as the unpretentious bell tower, above the rooftops, has a tuft of something sticking out under the tatty small dome of slate. It’s blades of grass, quite a clump must be, seen so from a distance, and it makes the bell tower a proper ruin in the modern sense – sneaky for a piece of architecture.