Short Story – Part I

The boat rocked violently back and forth, side to side, tipping with the current and against it. Marshal who was at the helm had his coat zipped up over his nose, and if his hat hadn’t blown away his face would have been completely covered. He couldn’t stand the cold, and when the ocean spray drenched him once more, he hollered for Zebb to come on deck.

No reply.

Zebb was tall and thin with curly red hair. He was lucky his eyes were the pale blue they were, lest his beard would have overwhelmed his face and his looks would have been lost in the bush.

Marshal wiped his face with his arm, holding the helm as steady as he could and looked out ahead. He squinted and then widened his eyes.

There was Zebb, standing at the end of the pulpit.

“Crazy bastard,” Marshal yelled. “Get away from there! If you fall in I’m not coming after you!”

Zebb could barely hear Marshal over the wind and the waves, though Marshal was not one to go unheard. But he stood there, with the elements rushing toward him, smiling. He loved the cold. He loved the way it would wake his senses and leave him shivering. It was discipline for him to resist the chill, a welcomed challenge. But the wind was far too strong to resist, and rain was pouring, beating down like the sounds of heavy drums, echoing in his ears.

Zebb turned and walked back to the helm to join Marshal.

“What do you think you were doing up there?” Marshal yelled in his ear.

Zebb laughed his laugh, brushing him off as he grabbed the helm.

“It’s my turn,” he said, taking the wheel from Marshal, who waved him off and went below deck. He was tired and wet, a familiar combination.

His Vessel needed fixing. He wondered how long she would hold up and if it would be best to dock at the next port or continue toward the Hudson. Docking would have certainly been best, but Marshal did not want to extend the trip any longer.

He lay down on his cot.

There were people waiting for him at the edge of the bay, one person he had been apart from for far too long. A round, flushed face with gold stripes tangled in her ashy hair. Maybe she would be wearing that dress that cinched her waist in just so. The one with the little flowers on it that played peekaboo when caught by the wind. He thought about her as he drifted off.

The boat would not dock tomorrow.

Back on deck Zebb was trying to be careful about the night watch, thought it was easy for his mind to wander. Tonight, it was carrying him far away, through familiar woods. He recalled what it was like to lie in the grass, on a cool summer night. How delicately the green would brush against his cheek while the wind blew, tracing the stars in the sky with his fingers, looking for Orion’s Belt. It was a fantastic sort of bliss for him. Yet his last night spent camped beneath the stars was far less euphoric. His neck was sore and his throat seething with pain, and as the rain beat down on his tent, he shifted in his sleeping bag trying to stay warm.

TDM

The True Love Cafe

The True Love Café stood out. Though I had never been inside, it seemed to capture my attention. It was not particularly attractive on the outside, painted a deep shade of purple, with a giant heart scaling the front of its building. The inside, which I could only gather from looking through the windows, was just the same. Unattractive under dim lights (and probably more so amidst bright lights), chairs and tables could be seen in the presence of tall plants, sad looking palm leaves and house shrubbery. Not as appealing to the eye as one would think or hope for a place with “love” in its name.

Only the outlines of figures could be seen, like shadows blurred in the background. A man behind a counter, a few people spread among eight or so tables, moving slowly, making their time last in beats.  It seemed quiet to me, as though anyone on the inside could be sheltered from the city sounds, from the noises of streetcars rolling along the tracks, people trudging down sidewalks, bikes, cars, trucks, horns honking, dogs barking, hollering for apologies and yelling for the sake of yelling. It just seemed as though time stood still here, and that it stood quietly with a grin of contentment.

I had never seen anyone enter the café, nor had I ever seen anyone exit. Yet whenever I passed by there were always people inside, perhaps just a coincidence of timing, or perhaps not. Though I admired the pace that seemed to be present among them, the folks inside always seemed quite unwell from where I stood. Why were they able to be so still, so present in their moment? Were they not flooded with the commotion on the outside? How could they not see or hear the masses that passed them by beyond the walls of the café? What content they must have.

TDM

Big Sky (Part 1)

Barefoot steps on dirt paths carried me deeper into the wooded area where I was greeted by hordes of people slithering between and grazing one another. Their sun-baked faces turned blue in the starlight, contrasting the drench of sepia and terra cotta that soaked their cotton, burlap and linen garb draped across their bodies. Sipping whiskey before gulping fresh air I stopped noticing where my steps were, and following the brightest lamppost made of moonlight I took my gaze toward the sky. I stopped in my tracks and settled, cross-legged, on the mossy mess of dirt and grass, to draw a line connecting all of the silver specks in the sky. Being under Big Sky meant the changing of gratitude swept in overwhelmingly with the changing of the seasons. The rows of trees were not just trees, but homes for little life, simple life, or companions to the dazed people weaving in and out of them looking for the path. People were not just people under Big Sky either, but friends and gentle faces to stop and hug and wish a happy harvest too. In the short distance beyond the clusters of tent cities was a bon fire whose flames stretched upward, so tall they could have reached over the heads of giants.

TDM

Child Grin

Here is a very rough poem for which I was hoping to get some thoughts on:

i can tell

when you lean in quite close

that you wear the fragile grin of a child

on your face,

to hide behind gritted armour

has done you well

but you leave a trail of feathers behind

whenever I walk with you,

a hurried look on your face

to peek through fences

and burrow in the mud

excitement for any difference in the day,

what wonderful character that is,

to fill my head with thoughts of

daisies and falling

leaves and perfume

staining the air,

innocent charm that

scoops me up and tosses me

onto a bed of golden leaves

stealing sweet smiles

that become gentler

and soften into tiny baby giggles

as you frame my face with your hands

and lean in quite close

 

Overhead

The following text is a snippet from a short story of mine which continues to be a work in progress.

I could tell it was storming, but not for the sound of thunder or rain. The window frame was plastered so well that I could hear no sounds from the outside, but I could see the drops falling and the trees whipping wildly in the wind. Sparse flashes of light illuminated the dark room and made Caroline visible. She seemed so much smaller underneath the covers, and I didn’t think there was anything that could make her petite frame look any frailer than it already did.

When insomnia took me, as it so often did, I sat on the end of Caroline’s bed and rubbed her legs. So far, she hadn’t been woken by this, but I swear I could hear her sigh when I started massaging. When the snoring came, I knew she had drifted off properly and I could stop rubbing her little legs. Caroline would fight with anyone who pointed out her. No way did she snore. Snoring was for boys and old grandpas with bad breath and white hair.

Sometimes I imagined what it would be like if Caroline and I lived in the country. The grass would be lush and green wherever we could see it, and the wheat fields would be golden like the stars that hung above them at night. I pictured the two of us lying in the grass with the moon over our heads and fireflies dancing around like fairies. We would probably swap stories and rhymes and point out the Milky Way. Maybe we would lie like this forever.

I moved to the window, my bare feet patting against the cold grey floor, and saw that the rain had stopped; something to look forward to, a clear day, made it easier to rest when I returned to my bed.

I couldn’t help but think about the look Caroline gave me earlier, when I bent over to kiss her sweet little forehead. Her eyes were wide, black and piercing, like eagle eyes that began to well up with tears. She smelled of jasmine and roses and cool summer nights, a mixture of scents that seemed to stick on her body and never leave.

TDM

 

Marble Head

I would take

this big head of mine

and shrink it to the size of a glass marble

if I could,

and not even think twice

if it were to roll away

off the side of a cliff

and shatter,

at least then my head could

be of some use

the scattered fragments

could reflect the sun

create sparkling flicks of twinkle,

or cut someone.

TDM

Skipping Rocks

I would skip

rocks

with my feet plunged into moss

curl my toes underneath mud

grip myself

turning a stone over in my hand

weighing it with every rotation

to make sure it wouldn’t just

plunk

to the bottom of the brook

though if it did

it would not be lonely

because there are plenty of others

who have

sunk

to the

bottom

and nestled themselves

even after they’ve skidded the rapids.

 

TDM

A Little Nature

If only i could lie

in the grass for more

than just a little while

I could graze the atmosphere

with my drifting eyes

turning my head this way and

that way

I’d twitch my ears

to tune them to the sound

of daffodils being kissed

by tiny insects

I could wipe my nose clean and

inhale perfumed stardust

that would shake itself off

and hitch a ride on currents

golden flecks falling through my hair

hovering first like a halo

and I would not mind nibbles

from creatures polite enough

to make their presence known

take what they need and then leave.

 

TDM