Peddling down the street on her pink, white-walled bike she felt the cool morning breeze rush past her bare ears. Turning down a wide side street in the heart of the suburb she spotted what she was looking for, though of course she knew right where it was all along. Coasting to a stop she jumped off her seat and in one fluid motion tossed the bike into a large shrub on the side of the road, so eager she didn’t care part of the handle bars were still visible, peeking out from the waxy manicured leaves. Skipping to the middle of the road she stopped and glanced around. A heavy fog rested over the still sleepy houses, each two stories tall with three windows to spy on the gardener from. Everything was quiet, and she was alone. Crouching down she laced her fingers through the slimy manhole cover’s slits. Rusty and crusty from stagnation as it was, she gave a hefty pull. She felt her arm muscles tighten as the cool metal dug into her fingers. Digging in her heels she puffed out a breath and pulled again, the cover finally shifted an inch with a metallic clank. Breaking out in a grin, she hauled it to one side, creating a slit of an opening. Dropping on all fours, she pulled out a flashlight and flicked it on, the yellow light falling on an old steel ladder descending into darkness. A strong stench of algae and rotting things danced around her nose eagerly, long cut off from the world above. “Perfect,” she smiled. Clenching the flashlight between her teeth she weaseled her way into the hole, her feet groping until one foot, then the other, found purchase on the rungs of the ladder. A chill of anticipation ran up her spine as she took one more glance around before ducking her head low and disappearing down the hole, the dimming echoes of her footsteps falling on absent ears.
Although she did not identify as a man or a woman, and was thus nonbinary, she did not mind when people addressed her as a woman. It tended to make things easier.
“Hey lady! Hurry up will ya’? It does not take all day to take a leak and some of us have lives we’d like to get back to!”
Ro stood at the front of the line at the pay-to-port. Paying to pee via public urinal had been law since she was a kid. There was no point in dwelling on the ethics of it. You simply stepped up, deposited your coins in the slot, and walked in to do your business when the door unlocked. The pay-to-port she often visited was a hot spot, being the only urinal in a ten-mile radius. That morning, the line stretched indefinitely down a long dirt pile of a hill, a steady slope elevating to one of the greatest earthly pleasures known to man. Unfortunately, euphoria was slow in coming that day.
“Hey!” Someone shoved her from behind. “Tell who’s ever in there to hurry up!” Ro looked over her shoulder at a woman, all short legs and furrowed eyebrows.
“Whoever it is, they paid just like the rest of us,” Ro said. “They can take just as much time as they need.”
“Says me.” Ro said sternly. “This ain’t a speed pissin’ contest. Now shut up and wait your turn like everyone else.”
“But I haven’t gone since last night,” the woman complained. “You know it’s illegal to go out in the bush, and I just now found a nickel in the trash so I could afford the port!”
“Not my problem.” Ro said, facing forward. She felt a pull on her arm as the woman grabbed her sleeve, still feeling scrappy. “Let go.” Ro said, restrained. “I don’t like to be touched.”
“Oh yeah?” The woman said, defiance flashing in her eyes. “Make me.”
Ro promptly punched the woman square in the jaw, the line parting around her as she tumbled head over feet down the slope. Ro heard the door to the urinal unlock and open. A young girl holding a stuffed bear stepped out and smiled up at her as the door clanked shut behind her. Ro smiled back, payed her fee, and stepped inside.
I want you
To take this pendant
In the shape of something repugnant
And push it in me
Through my throat
To silence my cries
From the inside out
The soft click and whirling of the disk let him know it’s working. The screen flashes white then crescendos to a glaring baby blue. When did he become like this? Staring at the screen, hunched forward, hands folded in his lap. Sometimes he forgets to blink, sometimes he forgets to take the suggested breaks. Bathing in blue, he feels and thinks nothing: never aging, never growing. One day he forgets to close the curtains, and the sunshine blots out the screen. He is annoyed, and gets up to shut the curtains on the rainbow hues outside. He returns to the desk and loses himself in the ocean. He feels nothing, and does not grow.
Alyssa’s purse thumped rhythmically against her side as she walked down the street, the steady beeping of car horns setting a tempo her feet couldn’t help but follow. The smell of a nearby hot dog stand hung in the cool fall air, coaxing her stomach awake. She decided a quick snack wouldn’t hurt, and let her nose guide her as drool pooled in her mouth. A man walking the opposite way brushing against her bare arm with his worn leather jacket, along with a whiff of cheap cologne. She heard bits of gravel crunch behind her and felt a sudden pressure on her rear. Turning, she saw the man’s arm stretched out, his hand firmly grasping her. Jerking away, she clutched her purse tightly and confronted the man who looked down on her bemused, his cologne wafted around her like a repugnant crowd. Receiving little response from the man after berating him with accusations, Alyssa made up her mind. Loosening her grip on the straps of her purse she lashed out, her fist connecting with the man’s greasy nose before her bag hit the ground with a thud. The man cried out and doubled over, clutching his nose as a trail of red leaking between his fingers. Huffing, she bent over to pick up her bag, brushing city grime from the bottom, and once again felt the comforting straps on her shoulder. She turned to continue on her way, the smell of boiling pork bits once again occupying her interests.
Just because I am not there does not mean I am no longer your friend.
I am sorry I have been replaced in your heart by another.
I am much better than I used to be, do you not want to see?
It is a shame you have forgotten who I am.
I and all I am is lost on you.
*Note: Just a little something I spit out one night and wanted to share. Enjoy!
“Food.” I thought lazily. Strolling through the school library, one could easily loose all sense of time and space amongst the clutter of paper backs and ink. I was certain it had been hours since the start of my shift and would soon be narrowing in on my lunch break. Sighing, I glanced down at the cart of books still to be placed back in their proper serial spot. Just finish this up, I promised myself, and then to lunch. Standing up straight, I pushed the cart forward with renewed vigor, placing the remaining books back one by one as I trolled the aisles.
I looked up from a particular favorite of mine with a lovely colorful cover to see a coy man standing before me. Dressed smartly in a deep purple suit, he stood with his hands behind his back, bending forward just enough so we saw eye to eye.
“Hello?” I asked, slightly taken aback by the man’s peculiar look. He continued to look, no, stare at me, smiling. “Can I help find something?” I asked.
“You may,” He said, narrowing his eyes. Suddenly he reached out at took the book from my hands. “Oh,” He said. “This is it.” He held it securely in his grasp, but didn’t glance down once.
I narrowed my eyes. “I’m glad I could help you.” I said politely.
“I am glad too.” His smile bloomed into a grin of inhuman proportions. “I’ll be sure to bring it back soon.” With that, he stood up straight, extending his body to its full, well over six foot length. I had to strain my neck to see even the underside of his nose.
He turned to walk away, his long suit tails swinging with the motion as he left. I glanced at the clock again. Only a minute had passed. I groaned inwardly and continued with my job, hoping for no more interruptions.
Amber sat on the couch feeling somewhat lonesome. She watched TV and munched on some fruit flavored cereal, but wasn’t really paying attention to either. She was waiting.
Bang, bang, thud. “Good morning John,” Amber said, trying to not sound too excited at the first sign of life in the morning.
“If she asks, I’m not here.” John said urgently. Amber looked over her shoulder just in time to see John duck into a nearby storage closet, clothed in nothing but a pair of checkered boxers.
“Uh,” She managed to get out just before she heard more bangs and thuds coming down the stairs. A girl of beautiful proportions, but terrible hair and makeup, appeared.
She fixed her cross eyes on Amber. “Who are you?”
“I’m Amber,” She answered honestly. “I live here.”
“You live here…” The girl huffed and nodded. “If you see that slim ball excuse of a man who goes by the name “Bill” anytime soon, tell him he can keep it.” With that she threw her rather oversized purse over her shoulder and, head held high, exited stage right through the front door.
A moment later, after he made sure it was safe, John emerged from the closet. “Who was that?” Amber asked, amused at John’s endless antics. It kept the house interesting. “And what is it you can keep? And who’s Bill?”
“Don’t worry your little pretty brain about it.” John patted her bed head as he walked by. “Good morning Tiff,” He said distantly.
“Good morning Stud.” Amber heard Tiffany clink delicately down the steps. “It sounds like you had a good night.”
“Always.” John chuckled and headed upstairs, noisy as ever.
“Hmm,” Tiffany spotted Amber still in her pajamas and smiled. Tiffany was a peculiar sort of woman, mature well beyond her years. She took care of everyone in the house without overbearing anyone into submission. “Good morning love,” Amber felt the smile in her voice.
“Good morning Tiff,” She said back. “Do you know…?”
Tiffany sighed. “I try to stay out of that boy’s business. Honestly, it’s more of a bother that anything to concern yourself.”
“Yeah,” Amber said absentmindedly. She’d focused in on the TV now, comforted by the movement of others in the big house. Upstairs, she heard John ram, what she could only assume, his foot into his dresser (again) and cuss loudly.
The news was on. Tiffany, serving herself her usual grapefruit, sat next to Amber on the couch to catch up on the daily grind. A new news reporter, a young boy straight from school, lectured them on the safety hazards of sink plugs.
“He’s decent.” Amber commented first.
“Talent wise or…?” Tiffany asked, coy.
“It’s too early to say talent wise, but look wise…”
“I would eat cheesecake with him.” Tiffany confessed.
Amber gasped. “Really?” She couldn’t help but pry.
“Oh yes, I think so.” She said.
“What are we talking about?” John’s head poked between the two women’s.
“Tiffany said she would eat cheesecake with him!” Amber pointed with her spoon.
“Really?” John asked, surprised.
“Well, don’t all sound the alarm at once.” Tiffany smiled and stood, exiting stage left into the kitchen.
Reaching over, John stole Amber’s half eaten bowl of cereal and drained it, following Tiffany into the kitchen. “Well,” Amber said, more to herself than anyone else. “I guess I should get dressed now.”
“Oh, and we need some nectarines.”
“Ok,” Grabbing one, two, three nectarines, I put them in a bag and deposited them in our cart.
“Oh, and some oranges too.”
“Alright,” I grabbed five oranges (because I really like oranges), put them in a bag and placed them next to the nectarines. “Why are we getting so much?” I asked. A plethora of fruit splayed out before us. We could start our own stand with the amount we continued to add to. Bananas, apples, grapes, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, the list was endless and continued into eternity.
“We’re just stocking up.” My mom answered.
“Stocking up for what?” I shuffled the cart a hair to the left so she could reach the pineapples. “Most of this stuff is gonna rot before we have a chance to eat it.”
“We’ll see,” A whole pineapple in each hand, she hurried on. Shrugging I continued to follow her. My mom could be strange on occasion, but usually with good motivation. Who knows, perhaps we really were opening a stand?
Suddenly a whoosh sped past my ear. Flinching, I turned looking for the bug to swat. I noticed a stand of watermelon next to my elbow. One particularly plump melon perched on top of the pile, almost as if to say “Pick me!” A certain reflection made me lean in close. To my shock I saw what appeared to be a metal star sticking out of the green skin. A thin trail of pale pink juice leaked out of the hole it left as I pried it out. “Hey mom…?” I wasn’t sure I saw what I saw. Was it a weapon? It looked an awful lot like…
A woman screamed and a man yelled. Glancing up, I saw a lone figure a few feet away dressed in all black. He disappeared and reappeared before me suddenly. I could only see his eyes as they coldly stared down at me. Reaching out he took the shuriken from my hands, drew a sword, and disappeared again.
Hands grabbed my shoulders. “Oh crap,” I heard my mom say. My mouth hug ajar in the stupidest way. What had I just seen?
Chaos exploded around me. More whooshing sounds accompanied an explosion of fruit which quickly coated everything in a sticky mess. My mom pulled me down out of sight and covered my eyes. I fought to see through her fingers and glimpsed an amazing sight.
The man darted from left to right slicing and dicing. The other shoppers who had been near had also ducted and covered only to have various fruit parts shower down upon their heads. I sat in awe at the spectacle.
As quickly as it started it ended. No more was the fruit section of our local grocery store. Shattered wood and seeds littered the floor and my hair. All was quiet and I saw no more of the man in black.
“Wow,” I whispered. My mom stood and pulled me after. “Was that a—ninja?”
“Why does this keep happening to me?” My mom shouted hysterically. The other shoppers looked to her in shock. Sighing, she looked at our cart. Pulp dripped from between the grates in a sick, murder scene fashion. She kicked it angrily and stormed off.
“Mom!” I ran after. “Mom, what was that? That—was the coolest thing ever!”