Flash Fiction: She Soared

She soared, barging out the front door and taking the building’s stoop with a single leap. Her yellow high-tops hit the sidewalk so hard the ache echoed up into her ankles. Above her, two stories up, a bare-chested man leaned out the window to holler down, “Baby, don’t be like that.”

She raised her chin to the sky and the rumpled man ruining her view of the blue expanse and the downtown towers. The people sharing her sidewalk turned their attention towards the brewing storm on the pavement. She basked in it, knowing he’d bake. Words coiled on her tongue.

She bit them back. She’d save her sinning for someone who’d appreciate it, use it to warm a bed they wouldn’t bring another into. Silently, she snapped her heels behind her and started walking, the bounce of her steps sending her sundress swishing around her hips. The afternoon wind lifted her hair, sunning the back of her neck.

She swished away and he called after her, “Baby– .” The bystanders waited a moment longer to see if they’d get their show. They never did. The block ended, she turned, and they never saw her again.

Music Challenge time again, Raw Rambles asked me to write something to or inspired by Lake Street Drive’s Saving All My Sinning. This is what I wrote, see her’s here. 

Flash Fiction: We Move Lightly

We are of a different kind. Unlike others that spread over the ice, and mud, and into their sprawling clay hovels and towers of metal and glass, whose births and deaths come and go in mere cycles of the sun, a simple exhale of our breath may summon hurricanes. Our steps sink deep into the shifting snow and hit the ground beneath. They exist blinded and swathed by snow, never knowing or touching the earth below it.

Do not hold yourself above them, we matter no more than these quick-lived beings. The value of a life is not measured in its length. Instead, watch where your steps will land and understand the weight with which they do.

They are lucky, and may throw themselves into passions and down many paths, dipping about like swallows on summer winds.  We must be cranes, still and deliberate lest our steps upset the waters.

So, my daughters, as you leave the cradle of our realm to walk amidst them, be kind if you can, and harsh if you must, but move lightly.

For this weeks Music Challenge, I asked Raw Rambles to write something to or inspired by City of the Sun’s Everything. Without lyrics to rely on, this was more troublesome than I thought it would be. 

Oversized Sweatshirts

Rich didn’t exist where she was from. You were either trash, wearing never washed hand-downs, or lucky enough to have someone buy you new scratchy clothes from the dollar store.  She didn’t lay eyes on a department store until she was eight, a year after the system combed through her trailer park, plucking up kids and sending them all over the state.

Designer anything only lived in the torn pages of magazines set in the corner of social workers’ offices, worn and peddled by the sleek women who pouted out from the glossy ads. It was a talent, she thought, to look so unhappy draped in breezy cloth that cost more than six months trailer rent.

Her clothes came and went, changing as she passed from home to home. At ten she wore never touched t-shirts from some forgotten choir, boxy, stiff, and donated by a church. At eleven, she developed a fondness for lace amidst thrift store racks and learned to ignore the smell of the elderly that clung to heavy thread. Twelve was spent in the ill-fitting jeans and oversized sweatshirts the group home managed to guilt out of the community.

With big eyes, dark hair, and spindly limbs from formative malnutrition, she looked like a doll. And in each foster family or group home, she was dressed like one, in the bits and pieces no one wanted for themselves.

It wasn’t until she was thirteen, that a new foster family handed her sixty dollars and dropped her off at the mall. She returned with a jean skirt, black boots that made her feet look bigger than they were, and a soft lavender sweater with a hood that wouldn’t fit over her hair. She laid them out over the bedspread that wasn’t hers either and reminded herself not to become attached.

As part of our ongoing Music Challenge series, Raw Ramble‘s challenged me to write something to or inspired by Hollis Brown’s cover of Oh Sweet Nuthin’.

Temper and Temperance

It was not peace Simon felt when he stepped into the temple. Something else settled deep in his gut when he ran his fingers over the carved walls. It was like picking up a childhood toy, ill-fitting in adult hands but comforting nonetheless.

His brother and their guide were back outside on the front steps discussing the best way to get in, he’d gone around the side and noticed the crack in the earth through the jungle’s undergrowth. Simon had called to them, but after a quick assessment of structural integrity had decided to duck in.

Simon felt that odd familiarity when his new hiking boots hit the mud. The rains last night had funneled water into the place, and he suspected they’d encounter flooding in the temple depths. But for now, the upper levels were traversable, allowing Simon to trace the walls around him.

The scenes etched into the stone were ancient and stretched nearly from floor to ceiling, and Simon could only guess what the writing beneath them said, but stepping slowly along the walls, he could begin to follow the story they told.

A solitary warrior figure moved from battle to battle, fighting under different banners. Simon paused before the crude representations of fallen enemies and the furious expression consistently twisting the warrior’s face. After each violent skirmish, the warrior faced a looming crowd with his victims piled behind him. In those, the warrior held his head in his hands. Chased out, the warrior found his next fight and promptly lost himself again.

“On the dangers of rage, and the power of restraint.”

Simon was not easily startled, but his pulse still skipped. Heat rose on the back of his neck when he turned to see Liam, their guide, standing at the opening to the outside. Pulled into the carved story, Simon had not heard the other man come in.

“Wait for us next time. These temples are dangerous.” Liam said before turning his back on Simon. He busied himself clearing the brush away from the opening so Simon’s brother could get their equipment in.

Simon bit down on his response and ignored the prickling of his temper. He’d never liked being told what to do or that he couldn’t handle something, and had taken similar orders badly before. Simon glanced at the carved walls and took a breath.

His temper in check, he went to help his brother pull their climbing gear in from the outside.

This week I challenged Raw Rambles with a song from one of my favorite artists, Janelle Monae. Per the music challenge, we are to write a post to or inspired by Janelle Monae’s Cold War.

Peace in an Unquiet World

Utah shook the batteries out of the silver discman and spun them on the studio floor. Cullen said the ritual wouldn’t squeeze any more use out of the little cylinders, but they were the only ones she had. It was the middle of the night,  the market and Cullen’s shop were closed. Utah needed to learn what happened to Yoshimi.

The switchboard was up and running the nighttime stream, its lights basking the radio studio in sleepy crimson. When she leaned towards the bulky technology and strained her ears, Utah could hear the song currently wafting out on the airwaves.  If she really needed to, Utah could interrupt the stream and play the album, but her listeners across the wastes, hinterlands, and blasted mountains depended on Outlast Radio to get them through the night.

Instead, Utah popped the batteries back into the discman. The little rectangle on the front of the device turned on woke with dim illumination and Utah’s smile unfurled. Cullen didn’t know what he was talking about.

Utah slipped the headphones over her ears and spread herself on the floor, staring past her studio’s red ceiling as the music began again.

Yoshimi fought robots, evil-natured pink machines, to keep them from defeating and eating the seemingly hapless singer. It was a strange dreamy song and it ended without resolution. After listening to the mechanic beats and feminine screeching in the fourth track, it never came.

Utah frowned upwards through the wistful fifth and sixth songs on the album, as if she could discern Yoshimi’s fate in the rotting ceiling of her makeshift studio.

The line between her brows eased as the album continued. The songs linked themselves with mellow melancholy that was not logical, but entirely at peace in they unquiet unsatisfactory world they sang in.

Utah exhaled, feeling her limbs ease against the normally uncomfortable floor, and she listened to the album until the batteries in her discman truly died.

As part of the Music Challenge Raw Rambles and I write every other week, this piece was written to Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part.1 by The Flaming Lips, which I’d never listened to before. Check out what she wrote to, or inspired by, the song here. 

The Nature of Chaos

Chaos was not an unthinking thing. Prone to disruption over impulse, her path through the towering pines was purposeful. And her thoughts, like herself, were unquiet as she trudged deeper into nature’s cold heart.

The thick silence of the snowfall could not smother her, nor could the vast solitude of the endless trees quell her intentions. Where others might fall into lonely contemplation and lose themselves in the enshrined serenity, Chaos thrust herself into the ancient webs of land and sky until the very threads of it all shivered with entropy.

What are you doing?” The voice rumbled from the trees and earth around her, only to end the question with a single voice.

Chaos turned to the speaker, panting in the cold and from the effort of unmaking. A young man with deep hazel eyes glared at her from between two pines. The trees here stretched deep into the sky but the moonlight still managed to fall on them both. Despite the grace in his strong limbs, there was no mistaking him. The thing behind the brown- green eyes had never been human.

But then, neither had she. “Getting your attention. Nice flesh suit.” Chaos answered.

His expression hardened at her vulgar words. “Precise vocal cords have their uses.” He took a step towards her into the glen. “You’re not welcome here. Return to your walled temples.”

Chaos snorted. The mountains overhead recoiled from her presence and the silence of the forest grew denser, as if the trees could cage her influence. “No can do. Welcome or not, I’m here.”

Anger churned beneath his placid expression like molten rock. As ancient as he and his kind were, the stuff that formed her was older still. Before humankind huddled in their caves dreaming of gods, and masses of earth shuddered against each other to form mountains and ocean crevasses, before life had wriggled itself from those secret depths, primeval chaos reigned supreme.

Rarely welcome, she was here, as she’d always been, and would always be until she picked apart the earth, sky, and sea. He knew it, as did she. Chaos was just giving him a choice, now or then.

He sighed, and the wind rustled through the snow-blanketed branches. “What do you want?”

Chaos smiled for the first time since she’d set her path into the frozen pines. “Your help.”

This week is my fault. I challenged Raw Rambles to write something to or inspired by one of my absolute favorite bands, Lord Huron and their song Frozen Pines. The resulting weirdness is above, and you can see her piece here. 

Flash Fiction: It’s Just Bizness

There was nothing more damning than the click her heels made on these floors. The sound was the same as it had been for the last decade. Sometimes on these tiles, sometimes on others. But designer heels on high-end corporate tiling and hardboard clicked the same wherever you were.

Today, it was the top floor of their building, in a boardroom that overlooked the street. Below her and her coworkers, the sidewalk and asphalt churned with faces, arms, and signs. The protesters broke past the police line.

As she and her suited counterparts watched the boiling sea below, a subtle ache began in the arches of her feet.

Ninety floors below, the protesters overtook security and alarms blared.

The men around her shifted nervously in their own leather loafers and eyed her sideways. After years of meetings, corporate retreats, and company Christmas parties, they saw her face in the screaming women below. When they scattered, they seemed to run from her as well.

With the elevators out the mob caught them in the stairwells.  The noises echoed up through the concrete. She pressed her hands to her ears. For the last decades they’d made her life hell, commenting on the blouses, her hair, the cocktail dresses she’d squeezed herself into. But, they’d been her staff, her bosses, her friends.

The sound of broken doors cracked through the upper floors.

She couldn’t run in her arched shoes, the frantic clicking did nothing except to advertise her presence.  When the mob poured into the ninety-first floor they saw none of themselves in her.

The excellent musical tastes of Raw Rambles inform this week’s music challenge. Read her’s here.  She asked me to write something to or inspired by tUnE-yArDs  Bizness.