Garden of Gray

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A trail of brown boxes line the sidewalk, leading to a moving truck with other memories piled inside.

Today, a family moves out of their small gray home, a sad shadow of the vibrant yellow one beside it. Bright as a lemon and absent of anything sour. Except for the Gray family, who were stoic, all carrying moving boxes in methodical procession and silence.

When they finished, they took one last look inside the house. Old corners adorned themselves in the finest webs vacated by the last owners. They inhaled the stale air, the familiar aroma of old memories and knick-knacks, things that were special to them on display for the entire family to gaze upon. All gone.

The vibe was off, yet potent, unseen, and detrimental to the soul. They had to get out.

Their last steps past the overgrown weeds is a memory of a challenge faced, accomplishments and failures, strange growth in the shadows of pain. The Grays didn’t tend to this garden; they were moving on.

After their solemn departure, the small gray house vanished, while the yellow stood alone, waiting.

~    

Today, a family emerges from their vibrant yellow home. Inside, shelves are full, reflecting the Grays and their knick-knacks. Old and new memories merge. Outside, rows of flowers line the house, blooming in rediscovered bliss. It is what they nurtured with hope in the years of gray gloom.

Scattered across their front porch, the Grays sit in silence, smiling, watching the sunrise together of a new day, and a new chance.

Lux Halifax v. The System

Art by Kirsten on PENUP/Snapseed

Waves of joy infuse the air in a collective hysteria; shouts from an adoring crowd rumble within blackness. They await with devices on standby; eager eyes, each desperate to consume and share on social media, where likes turned into cash. Lux imagined holding center stage before a sea of fans, all craving more, touching her growing ego, waiting for the famous squeal of her Black Diamond Elektrik.   

Her hands linger over the guitar strings as the cheers rise. Instead, Lux types away at a frenzied pace, dragged away from her daydream by the grip of life. She speculates about her money earned, notably after the overtime hours she contributed. Pay day was at the end of the week, the day she’s waited for to own the notorious guitar and pursue dreams she dared to turn into reality.    

Lux worked fast, long fingers speed with determination analyzing and inputting data as the rest of the week flew by. Once her check arrived, it was short. When taken up with the System, she was met with a listless response.    

“You did not complete your time sheet for Tuesday. I withheld pay for that day.” The System explains.     

“… But I worked on Tuesday, I did the volunteer overtime, there are emails with timestamps.” Lux protests.  

“You did not complete your time sheet. I withheld pay.”    

Lux goes to speak again, but the System accesses the Blacklist. An internal tall tale whispered from cubicle to cubicle now proven as true. Lux stared at a massive excel sheet with names of former employees listed. Soon after, the dreaded cardboard box appears, waiting to be filled. 

One more word and Lux Halifax would be in a cell.  

Powerless against the system, Lux stopped fighting, withholding her musical dreams for another day.

Chasing Waterfalls and Strange Clusters

Art by Kirsten on PENUP/Snapseed

Arani’s constant, tearful prayers plunged the translucent God of Shadow Mountain into misery and restlessness in her quest for infinite beauty.

Each day she visited the mountain, an ordinary reflection stared back at her through its slick outer layer. She stabbed the mountain to claim chunks of its mystical, black diamond clusters to transform herself, leaving empty-handed every time. The mountain was not one to extend its charm, but knew she’d return.

Taking the shape of a long, flat tongue, the translucent God brushes close, bearing the answer to her prayers.

“A sacrifice. Give to become.” The tongue’s soft voice deposits silver drops of persuasion into her ear.

Without pause, Arani presents a hazy orb of cool magenta, cozy coral, and shimmering gold. The sunset of each day offered on bent knee, placing the orb at the tip of the mountain’s tongue. One gulp was all it took.

“Now that I have given, when will I become?” Arani asks.

“You have it all. I require more, a sacrifice.” The tongue whispers, seizing Arani into a slimy spiral grip, swallowing her whole. Puffs of smoke bellow from the mountain top, lining itself in outstretched cerulean cotton patches. From its inside, diamonds line the puffs, each break into separate, multiple waterfalls. The translucent God rests, coaxed to sleep by the rushing waters of the girl.

… And within the plunge pool, at every sunset, villagers report they can still hear Arani’s voice, praying for more…

What the Mirror Saw

Image by Med Ahabchane from Pixabay

He looks at the mirror and doesn’t recognize the face   

crumbled bits sprinkle from above, he follows them leading to a screen    

he devours both, consumed

when the bits run out, he leaves     

walking a winding trail within darkness, he finds the light, and same mirror    

~

He gazes into the mirror; remembering the face smiling back   

sweeter bits fall, he hesitates, following to screen    

he eats slower, questioned choices

before the bits run out, he leaves     

walking a long trail within darkness, he considers the light    

~

He flashes past the mirror   

more sweet bits fall, ignored  

he wades through the bits   

he departs    

he runs the trail through darkness and feels the light… 

Strawberry Rainbow Eye-Squinting Sour Sweet Squishy Shake

Image by Kirsten on PENUP/Snapseed

I freeze in place with the distinct sound, sweet and slow enough to catch. The reminder from a year past beckoning me to rise.    

Here it comes, inching closer by the second… Hurry!

Wait, I need money. The rush begins: Quarters, nickels, dimes; I need one penny, just one. I can always find rogue currency mushed beneath the couch cushions, or on the floor of the car, and now that I need one, I can’t find one.     

Ah, got it! Finally

I run for my life out the front door.   

Second in line wasn’t so bad. I can relax while I review my options, pick what I want, and order in confidence by the time it’s my turn. The variety was exquisite. I purchased four of what looked the best and flew past the horde.  

“I love it. It’s so good!” 

At home we sat with satisfied smirks, slurping our shakes within a calm spring breeze and gentle sun. Mom and Dad daydream about the times they dabbled in the same joys of youth. The rush to find money, the pressure to catch the music, the relief of making it just in time. Their inner child blooms, immersed in happiness. We’re swept away in laughter, aching bellies in all… 

Until mom spit out an eyeball.

If You Died

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She sighed a sigh like prior sighs. Gentle in sound and smothered in love, her husband, the hero, saved the day once more. Whenever she needed him, he was there. 

This time was for pest elimination. 

“Those things freak me out… What’d I do without you?” 

“Yeah, well, if you died, I’d have to hang out with your parents without you.” 

He shuddered, giving the wall a magnificent taste of boot. 

The Peculiar Robbery of Lena

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Dismayed over the pain she’d feel once she reached the top, if she reached the top, the stairs to Lena’s apartment loomed above like an insurmountable mountain she didn’t have the stamina to ascend. 

Lena encouraged her feet to move forward anyway, drained from a long day at the office. After some force, she made it to the third floor. Key to her domain in hand, she mustered up sufficient strength to pierce the keyhole, twist, enter, and flip the light switch. Her vision adjusts where she’s shoved into a cruel truth; she gasps, reeling, eyes drift in bewilderment. 

I got robbed?! Thoughts of fear and confusion fester. Why me? What did they take? 

She glances at her phone to call the authorities but stops; her eyes scan the surroundings. Dishes filled the sink, papers scattered the kitchen counter, one dining room chair lay upside down on the floor, and clean laundry overflowed from its basket, an alternative drawer. She recalled the mad rush to the office earlier after failing to set her alarm, knocking the chair over on her way out. Unless she aimed to turn herself in for laziness, there was no robbery to report. 

Lena chuckled at her bold leap of suspicion and started cleaning.