Midweek Musings 1×04

Welcome to another edition of Midweek Musings, our free write session. Full guidelines follow the lyrics below.

This week’s song is a moody piece but the lyrics are the voice of a character longing for a shred of hope. Will you give him that hope or crush him under your heel?

 

 

I Of The Storm Lyrics

If I could face them
If I could make amends with all my shadows
I’d bow my head and welcome them
But I feel it burning
Like when the winter wind
Stops my breathing
Are you really gonna love me when I’m gone?
I fear you won’t
I fear you don’t

And it echoes when I breathe
Until all you see is my ghost
Empty vessel, crooked teeth
Wish you could see

And they call me under
And I’m shaking like a leaf
And they call me under
And I wither underneath
In this storm

I am a stranger
I am an alien inside a structure
Are you really gonna love me when I’m gone?
With all my thoughts
And all my faults
I feel it biting
I feel it break my skin so uninviting
Are you really gonna need me when I’m gone?
I fear you won’t
I fear you don’t

And it echoes when I breathe
Until all you see is my ghost
Empty vessel, crooked teeth
Wish you could see

And they call me under
And I’m shaking like a leaf
And they call me under
And I wither underneath
In this storm I feel it

And they call me under
And I’m shaking like a leaf
And they call me underneath
To this storm

The Guidelines:

  • This is a non-judged free write session.
  • Use the prompt anyway you’d like.
  • Post anytime between now and next Tuesday.
  • Keep it under 1,000 words.
  • Leave encouraging comments for other participants.
  • Most of all, have FUN!
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23 thoughts on “Midweek Musings 1×04

  1. His Furious Angel

    Twenty-three days, four hours, and seventeen minutes. That’s how long he’s been sitting in the chair beside her hospital bed. Give or take a few hours when he was coerced to do things like choke down food or take a piss.

    He stands, leans over the bed rail, and brushes hair off her forehead. Her face is the one thing that isn’t swaddled in bandages. There are a half dozen mottled streaks, where the chemicals and flames kissed her through the cracks of his fingers, but otherwise, her eyes, ears, and mouth are unharmed.

    He takes little comfort in her small fortune because her pain and suffering should be his. Their entire unit was cut down but for the two of them and when she saw that he was in a tight spot, that his number was up, she stepped in front of him, stood there with her chin raised and took the stream of chemicals and flames meant to burn him alive.

    There’d been only enough time to throw his hands across her face before the flames hit them. He’d hauled her to the ground, managed to wedge them behind the door of a dismantled truck, and douse the fire by smothering it with dirt. His hands and arms were burned but that was nothing compared to the damage Ventura Cruz sustained.

    Soon as the area was clear, he’d carried her to the nearest functional vehicle, and driven to the closest medical base. Two helicopter trips later, they’d landed here, in a civilian hospital that was already overwhelmed and understaffed. But the staff had been kind and efficient, and for that, he was grateful.

    Now, three weeks later, he’s exhausted but fear that she’ll slip away or that the dreams will come for him, keep him awake. Sleep is his enemy. The wakeful flashbacks are bad enough. But the horrific dreams of sleep knock him back in to the moment things went wrong, went beyond his ability to control or stop what followed.

    He lowers the rails and rests his cheek beside her gauze wrapped hand.

    “Knuckles,” a voice rasps.

    He looks up to see her lashes fluttering. “Here. I’m here.”

    She stills.

    He panics, rushes to say what he’s kept locked up for weeks. “Forgive me, Ventura. I know you wanted me to go for the launcher and kill the bastards but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t leave you there alone.”

    “Sleep now,” she says, eyes closed. “Argue later.”

    He sighs and scoots back to get settled in his chair.

    She grunts. “Not there.”

    “I don’t –“

    “Up here.”

    “But the doctor said –“

    She manages to get one eye open. “Don’t care. Come here.”

    He walks to the far side of the bed and climbs up. Mindful of his bulk beside her lean frame, he keeps close to the bed rail and stretches out on his back. This is the most comfortable he’s been in several years – comfortable mattress, clean linens, and soft pillow – but it’s not enough to coax him to drift off.

    Her voice is slurry with medication but no less commanding. “You can’t sleep with your eyes open.”

    Trust her to know what was up without having eyes on it. “Yeah, well -”

    “I am tired and in pain, but I’m not going to let anything disturb your beauty sleep. You’re safe here with me. Bandaged up like we are, we can’t hold hands and I’d rather die than cuddle. But you can put a paw on me, yeah, like that. There we go. Okay. I’ll see you in your dreams. And McNulty? I better have all my clothes on.”

    He chuckles in spite of himself, pats her hip with his bandaged hand, and closes his eyes.

    Some time later, voices wake him, and he jolts upright in the bed.

    Dr. Clemente eyes him from the door. “It’s all right, James. I’m just checking on her.”

    “Sorry,” McNulty mumbles, struggling to shake off the grogginess.

    Clemente steps into the room. “I’m the one who should be apologizing. Hospital protocol states that beds be restricted to patients only but Ventura’s stats have improved significantly since you’ve been sleeping beside her.”

    He’s still not up to speed. “Two hours made that much difference?”

    “Two days, James,” Clemente says with a chuckle. “You’ve been asleep nearly 48 hours.”

    He swings his legs over the bed and starts to get down.

    Clemente stops him. “No, I’d like you to stay. You’re welcome to use the restroom, shower, and grab something from the cafeteria, but then I’d like you back here, close to her.”

    He stands up and faces the doctor. “So, she’s gonna make it, right?”

    “That she is, James. In fact, I was going to wait until she woke to deliver the good news, but I’ll go ahead and tell you now. She’s improved enough to be transferred to Shiloh Valley Veteran’s Hospital.”

    He can’t help himself. He swoops Dr. Clemente into a bear hug, lifts the man off his feet and swings him in a circle before putting him down. “Thank you, Doc. Thank you. I know you went through a hell of a lot of red tape to make it happen.”

    “Yes,” Clemente says, holding onto the bed rail to steady himself, ‘but it was worth it. We can do most of what Ventura needs here at Mercy General, but Shiloh Valley is better geared for your recovery, James. I’m truly sorry I’m not qualified to help on that front but PTSD is beyond my scope of knowledge.”

    He quiets for a moment, confronted by the reality of his circumstance. “You think there’s any hope for me? Can they really get in my head and stop the nightmares and anxiety? I need the truth, Doc.”

    Clemente smiles. “Mr. McNulty, I have every confidence that between the doctors at Shiloh Valley and your furious guardian angel here, you’re going to be just fine.”

    – – – – –
    @bullishink / 997 words / WIP supporting character back-story sketch

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I tried to close a chapter on my life
    Quickly, quietly but with firmness
    To flush away my family

    Nothing but pain, I told him
    Via frozen phone lines pulled taut
    Stretched over 2,000 miles from home

    I’m a murderer of family connection
    White picket fence, 2.5 kids, ma and pa
    A 60’s dream
    Aborted before conception

    But one refused to stand down
    Or go quietly into the night

    I held connection hostage
    Via frozen phone lines
    What do you want, he asked

    Pictures and stories
    Answered the little girl
    Inside my head

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Dissolve

    It sneaks up on you, somewhat like a playful kitten, staccato-like, prepares to pounce on an innocent human toe, or a ball of fluff, or an imaginary, albeit vicious, kitten chomper. You, me, not the metaphorical kitten, I am still in a playful mood, curious, engaged, at least as much as I am able, for it has been my experience that men, me, representing all the men that I know, a heavy responsibility I am probably too ill-equipped to do any justice for, poor schmuck of an example that I am, are somewhat distant, preferring an aura of modest elevation, of restrained disinterest.

    That was how it was for me. Years of risk-taking when younger, younger and with less to lose, less capacity to care, all that, muted now by the sense that if there is no self-restraint, I will push myself too far, make a misstep. Go overboard. Be a typical husband. The same thing, perhaps.

    Do I not see beyond my everyday husbandly ways? What a woeful species we are!

    That’s how I saw it all, anyway. I was elevated, above it all, treading the waters of domesticity; a sensitive 21st Century man. I was, more or less, a contented man. My contentment was lackadaisical. I had a low threshold. It didn’t take much to convince me that all was well.

    Everything was as usual. The same. Familiar. So many ways to say how normal life seemed. That’s the word, in a nutshell. Normal.

    Perhaps Jeanne and I were in some suffocating nutshell, a large one, some humongous macadamian nutshell of contentment, of sameness.

    Again, this is how I saw it. And, if you have had this experience, commonplace I know, you’re looking into your loved ones eyes; you’ve seen them often; there is pleasure, was a pleasure that bounced back at you like a sunbeam; now, there is no change.

    You smile and expect that those eyes absorb the softness you are sharing, the love you are feeling; yet, something, something nameless has entered the equation. You want it to remain unnamed; there is too much to lose to call it something. Anything!

    Like last spring. A Saturday! Jake had spent the night at Jeanne’s parents. We had zero obligations. There was a gale blowing outside, thick rain plunging down like there was a broken drainpipe in the heavens, like that fierce storm in Key Largo.

    We were sleeping late and I was toying with the notion of making breakfast in bed. What I really wanted was for her to make breakfast. She really hadn’t developed a taste for bed-bound meals, had lost the joy of it, I thought. We were just lying there. No words were spoken. She was facing away from me. Food, or a more vigorous nourishment; I wanted something; I wanted her to be part of it.

    Most of our mornings are work and Jake. They drive us, take us our separate ways during the day; Nights are pretty much the same; needs take a back seat; the business of day to day surviving, the reenergizing evenings feed the machine but not the soul of the lovers we were, should still be.
    I seek warmth in an embrace. Jeanne seems to welcome the closeness.

    “Wally,” she murmurs.

    “Yes,” I say and draw her tighter to me.

    “No,” she says, “I didn’t mean that.”
    “But I did,” I say, lightly, seeking, at the least, second base, but wondering if we are, at this moment, at this collage of moments, actually playing the same game. Is there a tone in her voice that I fail to understand, to appreciate?

    I test the waters.

    “I was hoping for a little rock and roll in the hay, Jeannie.” My corny, well-used euphemism for a slam-bang end of the evening celebration falls flat. She turns to face me. She looks like the meringue has fallen off her fresh-baked lemon pie. I feel myself diving deeply into the comfort of my favourite food metaphors.

    “Wally,” she begins whatever diplomatic bar of soft soap she has up her supple flannel sleeve. She has been wearing winter pajamas well into spring. I still sleep like a baby, dressed like a newborn recently arrived from the womb.

    “Wally, something about us isn’t working. Do you know what I mean?” She asks this with a provocative urging, tempting me to bite. I have no intention of answering. I have fallen into similar traps before. And I know that something is always not working in a relationship.

    My parents separated once. For a week! Or that is what I imagined. They both said that she had gone to visit my Aunt Belle. My old man slogged around the house like a broken cement mixer. My sister and I scrounged up food because our father was an uninspired cook and we knew our own concoctions, peanut butter and cheese and the like would serve us reasonably well. When mother came back from her “visit,” there was a month of cool, a chill that eventually thawed. It was a sickening time.

    Of course I have to answer Jeanne.

    “I don’t know sweetie. I think we are working fine. “
    I leave it there. The last thing I want to find myself doing is guessing what might be wrong. The wrong answer could fuel the fire that is clearly simmering, clearly poised to rampage out of control.

    “You do? Really?”

    I pull away and stare at the ceiling. beyond the ceiling, hoping to catch a glimpse of wisdom, of future, of hope, of something that will save me.

    The storm keeps pounding.

    I begin to dissolve.

    940 words
    @billmelaterplea
    http://www.engleson.ca

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Heart of the Storm

    “When are you going to talk to him?”

    Georgie pulled her shoulders up to her ears and hunched deeper into the chair. “I can’t face him, daddy. I can’t make amends. There’s no magic wand to wave to make it all better.”

    “When did you stop believing in magic, baby girl?”

    “When the shadows got so dark I couldn’t see myself any longer.”

    “Awww, honey.”

    “Don’t, dad. Just…don’t. I know what the doctors say. Fifty-fifty.” A bittersweet smile formed on her face. “Today I feel half dead.”

    “Don’t say that, Georgeanne. Don’t you give up.” George pushed out of his chair and stomped over to stare out the window. “Dang it. I hate this. I hate seein’ you weak and pale. You were never sick as a kid. You’d be out there even when the winter wind was cold enough to steal your breath, on top ol’ Brownie, movin’ the cows to shelter.”

    He glanced at her over his shoulder. “You came runnin’ in the house after, your cheeks as red as apples, laughin’ and hidin’ a snowball behind your back. What happened to that little girl?”

    “She grew up, daddy. Grew up and away. Do you still love her now that she’s gone?”

    “That’s a hellava thing to ask me, girl! Of course I love you. I’m your father. No matter what.” He grabbed a pillow and punched it a couple of times before very gently easing it behind Georgie’s back. “Now you listen to me, baby girl. You’re not going anywhere. And if you had a lick of sense in that way too smart head of yours, you’d call Clayton Barron and tell him to come see you.”

    “No.” Georgie pulled her sweater a little tighter around her shoulders. She was always cold these days. Her dad had arranged her chair so she could sit and watch out the window. She could see the lake where she’d learned to fish and had gone swimming with her horse on hot summer days. The afternoon sun flared just above the horizon, teasing the water with glittering fingers. A small herd of deer grazed in the meadow and up above, a kite of hawks spun lazy circles in the thermal updrafts.

    This is why she’d come home. Not to die but to heal surrounded by the places and things she loved, the place that made her. She was so scared these days. Afraid of saying goodbye. Afraid of living. Afraid of the look on Clay’s face when he found out the truth. The memory echoed in her dreams, a ghost she could neither touch nor exorcise.

    Her dad dropped a kiss to the top of her head. “Rest, baby girl. I love you.”

    Georgie called after the clumping of his boots. “I love you too, daddy.”

    The glinting path of sunlight pulled her into the dream—the one she always reached for when the pain or the weakness from the chemo got too bad.

    The sun, sinking in the sky, spilled in the window and drenched Clay in shimmering gold. The light made a halo around him she knew he deserved, and he looked incredibly right mantled in the splendor. He was Oklahoma’s favorite son, would be president soon. She admired him from afar, knowing she could never touch him, never share in the warmth of his golden glow. As she turned to walk away, he called her name. Always. And then she was in his sheltering arms, warm and safe. He dipped his head, his firm lips finding hers. She sighed, offering everything she had, everything she was to him.

    The wooden floor creaked and she startled awake. So she thought. A waking dream stood in front of her. Clay, bathed in the copper light of the setting sun. She blinked then rubbed her eyes.

    “I’ve missed you, sweet pea.”

    “What are you doing here?” She had to shade her eyes against the glare. It truly was Clay, standing there so tall and handsome and…perfect.

    “Here is where you are.”

    “I don’t understand.”

    Clay squatted in front of her. “I’m here because you are, Georgie. I love you. I’m not going away. We’ll ride through this storm together.”

    “But…the election—”

    “Can take place without me.”

    “You don’t mean that.”

    “Don’t put words in my mouth, sweet pea. You quit that job, remember.”

    Georgie was shocked for a moment but caught the hint of curl at the side of his mouth. Without thinking about the consequences, she touched her finger to his lips, traced their outline.

    “I’ve missed you.” Clay leaned closer, brushed his lips against hers. “And I’m not going away.”

    “Is that a campaign promise, senator?”

    “No, Georgeanne Dreyfus, that a promise from my heart.”
    ****
    789 words on the new WIP (now that Corke are off to betas/CP/editor) 😉
    @SilverJames_

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Children. So many small faces, drained of life, dead eyes locked on me. Lives snuffed out before they’d truly begun. Oh gods, how many?

    You failed us.

    You killed us.

    The circled around me, linking hands as they chanted.

    Now I lay me down to sleep,

    I pray the Lord my soul to keep,

    If I die before I wake,

    I pray the Lord your soul to take.

    I shuddered as they closed in on me. Hands gripped my shoulders, shaking me. Or were they holding me down? I blinked and the world went dark. I felt the weight and heat looming over me and struck out, pure terror screaming out of me. The weight vanished, followed by a fleshy thump.

    “Son of a—damn it, Kelly.”

    “Wha—?”

    “There’s a damn good reason for trying to drive a left hook through my brain, right?”

    Graham’s voice cut through the last haze of the dream, the dark hotel room orienting itself in my mind. Footsteps trailed toward the door. He flipped the light switch, flooding the room with soft light. His right eye and cheek were reddened and puffy.

    “Are you going to tell me about it?”

    “Is there some reason you think I should?”

    “You punched me in the face.” He pointed. “You punched me with rather serious intent. In the face.”

    “I respected you as a threat.” The wrenching fear rose inside me and I shivered.

    “To be honest, considering me a threat is more of an insult.” He paced along the floor, a few cautious steps closer. “Let’s be clear. We’re both awake right now.”

    “I know.”

    “You’ll forgive my black eye for wanting confirmation.”

    “It isn’t black yet.” I buried my head against my knees. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

    “I know that, Red.” His voice carried a tone of disbelief or exasperation, maybe. “But I’d rather like to know who you did mean that wicked fist for.”

    “I don’t remember.” The dream was hazy and I thought maybe I wanted it that way. “It’s a blur.”

    “We are going to talk about this.” He picked up the ice bucket and his room key. “I’ll be right back.”

    He returned a few minutes later, scooping ice into a washcloth. He lifted the makeshift ice pack to his right eye, wincing. With his other hand, he filled a tumbler glass halfway with whiskey. Drinking it down in one gasping gulp, he set the glass down and poured again. This one he handed to me.

    I accepted the offering with murmured thanks, masking the pulsing ache in my left hand with a grimacing swig from the glass. The golden liquid burned all the way to my belly, thawing the chill in my core.

    “Tell me,” he said.

    “Graham.”

    “The only people I know who come out of dreams like that? They’ve traveled through hell and come out the other side, whether they wanted to or not. Some accept it and keep living. Some end it.”

    “Suicide isn’t my style.” I lifted my head, rested my chin on my knees. “And I’m no war vet.”

    “Don’t bullshit me, Red.” He pried the glass from my hand and filled it again. “I see what you do, what people expect of you. A trick of the light separates us from the truth. Yet you pull back that veil and face the monsters hiding in plain sight.”

    “It isn’t the monsters.” And it wasn’t. It was the human cost. The ones turned, taken over, used. The ones I didn’t save. They were always lurking, haunting my memories, my dreams.

    “It’s the victims.”

    “Yes.” Tears stung as they spilled from my eyes.

    I didn’t have to remember this exact dream. I remembered plenty of others. I’d died at the hands of those I failed a thousand times over in my dreams, only to wake up and wonder why I still lived. A punishment, maybe. An endless loop of phantom deaths slowly stealing my life, stripping my sanity, leaving me an empty vessel.

    “They drag me under,” I said. “A storm of rage, biting into me, tearing me apart. Death—real death—might be a blessing.”

    “Don’t say that.”

    “Do you want the truth or not, Graham?” I scrubbed my face, hoping to stem the guilt. The grief. I didn’t have time for either. “I can pretty it up for you, if it’ll make you feel better.”

    He slammed the glass down on the dresser and came at me. I didn’t flinch as he hauled me to my feet. His fingers bit into my arms, but I welcomed the pain. He shifted his hold, his hands tunneling under my hair. Golden light flashed through his blue eyes.

    “You pretty the truth up for Gail? Eidolon?”

    “For everyone.”

    “Not me.” His hands clenched, shaking me. “You give me everything.”

    I stomped on his bare foot and he stepped back with a hissing breath.

    “You are a vicious hellion, woman.”

    “And you are a demanding, overreaching idiot.” I shoved him square in the chest. “Who the hell do you think you are?”

    “Just a man you’ve saved,” he said. “Twice. And damn if that doesn’t make me somewhat fond of you.”

    “Ridiculous man.” How did he do that? Piss me off in one breath and leave me all warm and fuzzy in the next. “You should be running for the next flight home.”

    “Running away from you seems excessive. And terribly unmanly.” He stepped close, his hands at my waist. “Don’t hit me again.”

    “Your fate is on you, English.” Still, I leaned into his hold. And maybe I wrapped my arms around him. “I’ve got my own to wrangle.”

    @caramichaels
    945 WIP words

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love everything about this story, Cara, but what I especially love is the very real, palpable, believable relationship between Red and English. You have this fantastic ability to keep their personalities distinct and level with out letting them become trite or predictable! 💕

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Ruth! So glad you’re enjoying them. I love these two. ❤

        Like

  6. [Don’t know if this fits here or not. But here it is anyway. In all it’s first draft, unedited glory.]

    The fairy stood in her cage and watched me as I pulled two boxes out of the corner, where I kept my art supplies. “I put these away the week I got home from the hospital. And I’ve never taken them out since then.”

    “What are they?”

    I placed the two boxes, shoebox size, on the table, and cut through the tape holding them shut. “This one was Jillians.” I pulled the bubble wrapped object from the box. The fairy peeked through the bars of her cage, trying to see what I was doing. I carefully cut through the tape holding the bubble wrap in place and unwrapped the object it protected.

    A deep red rose, stem and all. I’d hand crafted it. I remembered the months of work. The number of times I’d cried tears of frustration at my inability to get it right. The countless times I’d cut my fingers trying to get every detail, even the thorns on the stem, perfect. I carried it to the birdcage.

    “I made this for her.”

    The fairy reached through the cage bars, let her fingers brush against the deep red petals of the bloom. “You haven’t looked at it until today?”

    “No. When she died, I put it away.”

    “It’s stunning. So real.”

    Neither of us spoke as I held the rose so she could see it. After a time, I returned to the table, placed the rose on the bubble wrap, and opened the second box. Inside was a lady bug, hand crafted by me.

    “You made this for Lillian?”

    I nodded. “She was my lady bug.”

    Again,we didn’t speak as she studied the sculpture. Eventually, I returned to the table, picked up the rose, and carried both to the book case. I cleared space to either side of the fairy I’d made for Kellie. To the left, I placed the rose. I place the ladybug to the right. “The loves of my life.”

    I looked through the bars at the fairy. “I have to talk with Kellie when she gets home.”

    “You’re starting your studio again, aren’t you.” I’d guessed she’d know. Somehow, she knew what was in my heart.

    I nodded, then told her of Bobby, and his family. Of his being fired at work, the dreams he had of sending his daughter to college.

    “You’ll help them, won’t you?”

    Again, I nodded.

    She looked at the bars of the cage. “If there was a door, I’d open it, and let you free.” I put my hand on the bars. “But there’s no door.”

    “Oh, but there is.” She smiled as she pressed both of her hands against mine. She was so tiny. So delicate. I wanted to bend the bars of the cage, set her free. But I’d tried before, the bars didn’t bend. I’d bruised my fingers trying. She smiled. “Do you know my name yet?”

    I stood beside the cage, looked at her, her smile, her brilliant eyes, her butterfly wings. I nodded, because somehow I knew her name, though she’d never spoken it.

    “Heartsong.”

    She smiled. Her wings fluttered, then came to life.

    And the cage was gone.

    526 Words
    @LurchMunster

    Liked by 2 people

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