Midweek Musings 1×06

Welcome to week six of Midweek Musings, our free write session. The guidelines follow the video and lyrics.

This week’s tune is by 17-year-old Zara Larsson, of Sweden. She won the Swedish version of ‘You’ve Got Talent’ at age 10, released an EP in Sweden in 2012, and signed with US label EPIC in 2013.

Don’t let her age fool you. Her developing voice has bite and substance. Where will her plaintive tune CARRY YOU HOME take your story this week?

Lyrics – Carry You Home

I’ve been knocked down
I’ve been lost
With a ground shaking under my feet
I gave it all to someone
Who said, “fire, run”

I’ve been, I’ve been through the days
When bright love turns into hate
You bend and you bend till you break
Till the light’s all gone

When the one you care for just takes it all
Washing you down like a waterfall
You lose the way and you hit the wall
I’ll be the one, I’ll be the one, I’ll be the one to
Carry you home
When it hurts like you’ve crashed from above
Heal your broken bones
When you can’t move, your heart’s still locked out
You rise, you rise, you rise
Sometimes you need someone to carry you home
When it hurts like you’ve crashed from above
When it’s true love

I’ve been knocked down on my own
When the water’s too deep and too cold
Sleepless so many nights
With a broken heart running wild

When the one you care for just takes it all
Washing you down like a waterfall
You lose the way and you hit the wall
I’ll be the one, I’ll be the one, I’ll be the one to
Carry you home
When it hurts like you’ve crashed from above
Heal your broken bones
When you can’t move, your heart’s still locked out
You rise, you rise, you rise
Sometimes you need someone to carry you home
When it hurts like you’ve crashed from above
When it’s true love [x3]

I’ll be the one, I’ll be the one, I’ll be the one to
Carry you home
When it hurts like you’ve crashed from above
Heal your broken bones
When you can’t move, your heart’s still locked out
You rise, you rise, you rise
Sometimes you need someone to carry you home
When it hurts like you’ve crashed from above
When it’s true love

I gave it all to someone
Who said “fire, run”


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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16 thoughts on “Midweek Musings 1×06

  1. Heartbreaker
    548 words
    @rowdy_phantom

    Sometimes the heartbreaker isn’t a lover. Maybe none of them are. Maybe the set up for heartache comes long before the pulse-rush of passion.

    I shielded you from his rejection, but it found you anyway. Sparkly sneakered feet find the boot prints receding through the dust.

    Yes, he left. Yes, it hurt. But I closed that door, you were just a baby. I didn’t have the leisure to mope over another narcissistic bastard. You and I, we might want for a canopy bead and that purple suede jacket with the paisley splash, for a reliable car and cable TV, but you would never want for my care. We made it work with goodwill hand-me-downs and second-hand art supplies, homemade birthday cakes with recycled candles. The best things–tickle fights and bedtime stories about ponies–came free of charge.

    I refused to let him damage my heart, but he got to yours. Damn him. Damn all of them.

    You went looking for him in the faces of school boys, and then in those of the barflies at Motor Joe’s–the way I looked for mine. I see my mother’s pain in the chipped medicine-cabinet mirror.

    But I did everything right! Or rather, everything she didn’t do. I did the opposite of her stern-necessity approach, the one that sought to toughen me up so I could handle the inevitable hard knocks and hard hearts I’d stumble after to fill the spaces left by the sperm donor masquerading as a father. I never withheld nurturing. I wanted to give you enough attention for two parent, to show you that you deserved it. (I never believed I did.)

    And even so, the soft skin around my eyes puckers into my mother’s expression. Growing up I read it as disapproval (and naturally rebelled against it). I recognize now the shape of it: the helplessness, when all one wants to do is stop the sparkly sneakers from dashing after unworthy replacements. Again.

    It’s too easy to see him in you. To harden my heart another breaker that has never deserved my care in the first place. That when I’m gone, you’ll hoist your toddler on your hip and cross the dusty road to find the nondescript marker with your mother’s name on it and refuse to cry because you’re stronger than I ever was.

    And yet, I can change something. Even though the pain screeches at me to slam the door on your departure. When my bent pride decides it’s done bending and wants you to bolster it with a contrition you won’t feel until your own baby hits puberty.

    Maybe the set up for healing comes from a buried wellspring of love waiting for us to drill deep enough to change something before it’s too late.

    I can slam the door on the compulsion to wait for you to come around with your pregnancy and your penitence. Instead, I will go to you, put myself on your doorstep. I will again willow-bend, under your frustrations. We will go down together, under the injustices of the careless lovers and fathers, but we will not break. And when we get down to that wellspring, we will teach each other how best to live and love with shattered hearts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lailah loaded the gun with quivering fingers. Aside from the faint glow of the highway lights, the blue-green radiance from the bullets was the only illumination in the grubby motel room.

    Six bullets for six angels. She held the blocky revolver in her left hand, ran the fingers of her right along the smoothness of the round. The cartridge was enchanted glass from the sands of Jericho. It would shatter in the chamber and blow her hand off if she fired on anything human, but drill to the heart of a divine creature. The payload was salt from the tears of demons, blood of wronged martyrs, prayed over by thousand tormented excommunicates, assembled in the shadows of the rarest eclipse.

    A weapon for slaying immortals. Lailah thumbed the last bullet into place. She named the angels silently as she loaded the weapon. Not aloud, for they would come when called, and it wasn’t yet time for that.

    One for each of them. She would have to be quick, and clever, and lucky. She snapped the revolver shut, and the blue light winked out.

    “You can’t kill her,” Malayeka said from the bed. Lailah looked in her direction. In the dim light, the younger woman was a smear of bare flesh, eyes like pits, hair a snarl of curls. She had drawn the covers over her body, curled herself into a protective ball, as if fortifying herself against the inevitability of what they had chosen.

    Lailah placed the gun on the table, reached up, and pulled at her hair, tightening her ponytail. Outside, the passing traffic hissed against the driving rain, headlights throwing queasy shadows through the cheap motel curtains.

    “A demonic bullet and the Accord’s legendary weapon says I can.”

    “I mean you can’t do it. The Accord will tear themselves apart if she dies. It will be interregnum. Civil war. It’ll spill out into the mortal world. The whole plane will bathe in blood.”

    “That’s the Accord’s problem, not mine.”

    “You’ll start a war,” Malayeka said.

    “She started the war when she killed me,” Lailah replied.

    The seraphim’s name hung in the air between them, unspoken. Unwanted memories of more pleasant nights fired in Lailah’s brain. Tangled sheets, the fragrance of their bodies together, lush as Eden itself. Calling her name in the dark, feeling her quiver. The stupid jokes from her divine mouth: You see? I told you I come when called. Both of them laughing, helpless, giddy, as if it would never end.

    Then, a hundred nights later, Lailah’s misstep. She’d seen something she shouldn’t have, unearthed some secret the Accord didn’t want humans knowing. So came the fiery obliteration of her innocence. The mortal agony of her shattered bones and seared flesh. Flayed by the glass voiced of the angelic choir, whose spoken condemnation took her life.

    There is a divine plan, the seraphim had said, in a voice that reduced all love to illusion, all affection to weakness. You are not permitted to see it.

    Lailah ran her fingers over the livid scars beneath her eyes. The Accord had blinded her, left her dead on the banks of the Dead Sea: one last dumb joke from her former angelic lover. She wondered if any of them had cracked a dry smile over that. She wanted to ask each one, before she put Lucifer’s bullet between their eyes.

    But there would be no time.

    Whatever she’d learned was still locked away, shoved in a metaphorical iron box and welded shut somewhere deep inside her soul. She would never know what she’d done to earn her death.

    “I didn’t heal you so you could end the world,” Malayeka said in a soft voice.

    “No,” Lailah whispered with a rueful smile. “You saved me because it’s in your nature. Because you’re good. Because you still understand what it means to be human, the way she… the way they never will.”

    “It’s not their fault. It’s how they were made.”

    “Then they don’t deserve to exist, much less rule us.” Lailah touched the gun with her fingertips, ran her bare fingers along the cool metal. “I realized something when I was in that pit. Before you pulled me out and carried me away. The seraphim can’t evolve. They can’t learn. They’re just one thing, forever. Judgment or mercy or wrath. But they can’t love. To love, you have to grow. You have to give of yourself to someone else. You have to know death.”

    The words stung like barbs in her mouth. Lailah had betrayed Malayeka’s adoration, squandered her love, a dozen times over. She had asked too much and given nothing in return — and was about to do so one last time. One last betrayal to pay for all. And still, Malayeka had saved her. Malayeka loved her. Lailah so desperately wanted to be worthy of that. But she could never be.

    “And you’re going to teach them?” It was the closest Malayeka had ever come to sounding bitter. She looked up. The light from a passing semi illuminated the tears on her cheeks, the anger and hurt in her eyes.

    “No,” Lailah said. “You are. When it’s over, and they destroy me, you will carry my body to them, and tell them why I’ve done what I’ve done.”

    It wasn’t fair to ask of Malayeka. But then, Lailah had never been fair. She deserved this oblivion every bit as much as the seraphim did.

    “Why?”

    “Because you’re the teacher, Malayeka. You always have been.”

    “Then what are you?”

    Lailah picked up the weapon, edged her thumb along the hammer.

    “I’m the devil.”

    936 words / @surlymuse

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Death (Maiden) in Distress
    Ember and Ash (WIP)
    533 Words
    @mishmhem
    #FlashDogs

    Darkness surrounded him, but he knew it wasn’t of his making. He could feel his pulse pounding in his ears, a sound he hadn’t heard…

    He let the thought trail off. He hadn’t heard his own heart beat since the day he died, and that had been a very long time.

    As he tried to get his mind around that thought another one struck him. He was in pain. It was what had driven him into the darkness in the first place.

    “Don’t move,” he heard a gentle voice urge. “I’ll get the lights.”

    When the lights came on, he winced, wishing he was back in the darkness.

    “Just close your eyes. They’ll adjust.”

    He opened them, slowly at first. Looking through half lidded eyes he realized he was in a hotel room, and the gentle voice was attached to a rather pretty red-headed woman.

    “Ember…” he managed to say in a husky voice as he tried to feel around the word.

    She nodded. “Take it easy, you’re hurt.”

    “Shouldn’t be.”

    “Yeah well, don’t ask me how… it’s still my first day on the job and you should not be hurt or even hurtable.”

    “S’not a word… ‘hurtable’…”

    She chuckled. “Yes well, kick-ass, nigh invincible doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.”

    He squinted at her then just let his eyelids close.

    “Do you know your name?”

    “Adri…”

    He stopped. He’d been about to answer ‘Adrian’ but he knew that was wrong. His name was… he didn’t really have a name, more like a title, and considering his condition it sounded both appropriate and very, very wrong.

    “Ash.”

    She rewarded him with a smile.

    “Now, the big question,” she started. “Do you know what happened.”

    “I… got hurt.”

    “Well, that is happened… but I’m looking more for… ‘how the hell does that happen?’ level of ‘what happened.’”

    “I…”

    He stopped again as the room started to tilt. His eyes went wide as he grabbed both sides of the bed and realized Ember wasn’t moving.

    “Not good.”

    “You really are the master of understatement.”

    “How… How did I get here?”

    “I carried you,” Ember answered, laughter twinkling in her eyes. “I know, right? Little slip of a girl me… carried you like you weigh nothing…”

    “I do.”

    She sighed and shook her head. “Is there someone I can call?”

    “None that can help.”

    Ember rolled her eyes. “Is there anything I can do?”

    “Rest.”

    “Ash, I hate to tell you this, but you’re like… the courier of the dead… and we’re supposed to be somewhere…”

    “We are ‘somewhere’”, Ash commented as he looked around the room.

    “Somewhere not a delivery point. Somewhere where something very big beat you up for your lunch money and left you there for me to find.”

    “You…”

    “I’m your delivery,” Ember reminded him. “Or at least I was until you got called in on something and went from ferry to ride-along.”

    Ash winced then nodded. “Let me rest a little more. We need to get out of here.”

    “Ya think?” Ember asked, in full sarcasm mode.

    “Yes,” Ash answered gravely.

    Ember rolled her eyes and let out her breath slowly. This was going to get old, fast.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A spherical shuttle crashed into the street, covered in ash a hatch released, seeping a smokey haze. U.S troopers circled the shuttle, each one with a gun pointed at it. They got closer… and closer. Too close. Each one was engulfed by the smoke, their screams of pain came to a sudden halt and with it, the smoke. The bloody remains of them were covered in boils. a black hand with needle like fingertips jutted out of the shuttle flinging the hatch open. One horrific creature emerged form the shuttle, one stepped onto the hot asphalt. Its back arched releasing spider like legs covered in black blood-like substance. Gunfire rained down upon the creature. Helicopters closed in on it along with firing soldiers. It let out a roar and jumped onto the helicopter firing at it and dug a claw into his torso. The second creature emerged from the shuttle, this time it had a tail in which it swung in a circle impaling the nearby soldiers. The helicopter crashed with the first creature on it but not killing it. One of them picked up the shuttle and threw it into the other helicopter causing a massive explosion. Suddenly their was nothing but silence. The two creatures began to eat the bodies that remained. Behind the were more raining shuttles.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My summons arrives—I cannot say early, as time is of no consequence to me, but it is unusually soon after my last collection. I read the missive twice to grasp the magnitude. Reaping is never truly easy. Whether I am called to guide a soul to Heaven or to Hell, mortals are rarely prepared for what comes after death. But this is no mere reaping; it is a harvest of souls calling all Reapers to duty.

    Four hundred seventeen lives, ended in an instant.

    I expect perhaps a boat disaster. A great flood or earthquake, perhaps. But this. Even my mind, ancient and jaded, struggles. So many children. They wander amidst the wreckage of the school, sobbing, screaming, begging for surcease. They do not yet understand their bodies lie below the rubble.

    She is no different.

    And yet, she is entirely different.

    She stands still. Silent. Her pale hair and simple black dress shift in the restless flow of time and energy eddying around her. The vermillion aura surrounding her tells me she is one I will reap to Hell. I cannot fathom what this young woman has done to damn her soul. I approach close enough to see she stands over a body, recognizable as her own.

    As though sensing me, she peers over her shoulder. There is no fear in her gaze, though I know she sees me not as an angel of mercy, but the demon of her damnation.

    “The world exploded.” Her voice carries the gentle cadence of the southern United States. “I didn’t—I didn’t know it could do that. I thought I’d just go to sleep.”

    Rescue workers are arriving, already tearing through the debris, calling for survivors. Her gaze moves back to her body. So close to the top of the rubble, she is easy to see.

    “Here! Over here!”

    “So much fire.” She does not step out of the way. The workers move through her. One shivers. He clutches a small medallion around his neck and whispers a fervent prayer. “Why didn’t they run?”

    I do not explain they had no time. She can see this well enough in the mass destruction surrounding her. Some of the souls recognize the faces searching for them. I wonder if anyone is looking for her. If someone will grieve her loss.

    “God above, I know her. My son—she’s his teacher.”

    “Isn’t your boy home? What’s she doing here?”

    “I needed it to end here.” She covers her eyes as they pull her mangled body free. Her legs are gone, and one of her hands. Her face is strangely serene, untouched by the cataclysm. “This is the only place I’ve ever felt at home. The other teachers say I’m a bit touched, but I hoped they might take care of me… after.”

    Suicide, then.

    “The gas was just supposed to put me to sleep.” The souls bound for Heaven do not acknowledge her. Her soul has already begun its descent. She can see them, though. The serenity embracing them, carrying them home. One last bit of earthly torment for her to endure. “Is it supposed to hurt now?” she asks me. “Because it does.”

    For her suicide alone, she would be directed to Hell. This botched effort, claiming so many innocents, will magnify her punishment tenfold.

    “It was only supposed to be me.” Her whole body shakes in denial. “Not them. Not the children. They’re family.”

    Though she has indirectly said as much, I did not expect her to readily admit she caused this devastation, so I believe her words. I believe the sorrow in her tone.

    “I’ve killed my family.”

    This is an ache she will carry until her time of penance ends and she is permitted rebirth. Even then, her soul will likely bear the scars.

    “I fell down this well when I was a kid,” she says. Her voice is smooth and rich, and I find I enjoy listening to her. “Hurt so bad, knocked the wind clean out of me.” Damned souls cannot cry. Tears are cleansing. They bring relief. She presses her fingers to her eyes, as though they pain her. “I know that fall only took a few seconds. Felt like forever, though. Right up until it stopped, so hard and sudden, the water so cold I thought I’d freeze. My daddy got me out, beat the bits of me not already bruised or broken.”

    I wish I could shelter her, a strange desire. I should not care what led her to end her life. She is no different than any of the thousands upon thousands of souls I have reaped.

    “This is worse.”

    She looks up to me. Her eyes remind me of building storms, changing shades of blue, green, and grey.

    “I know I’m not going with them. I don’t deserve that peace, or even forgiveness. And I know you’re probably not allowed to say anything that might be misconstrued as a pleasantry or comforting statement.” Her body moves as though taking a deep breath. In time, she will forget this act which is instinctual to her now. “So, I apologize in advance, if this makes you uncomfortable.”

    She steps forward and wraps her slender arms around my chest. Her head rests just above where my heart once beat.

    Again, I tell myself she is no different.

    And yet, as forbidden tears seep through my raiment, I am forced to acknowledge she is entirely different.

    I pat her back, my arm in motion before I consciously remember this tiny act of kindness.

    “It will not be forever,” I say. “Though it may seem that way before it ends.”

    She nods without lifting her head.

    “Do you recall your name?” I ask.

    “Yes.”

    Hand in hand, we walk, passing the untouched school sign at the edge of the property. New London School.

    “But that girl is gone and in time no one will remember her.” She traces the sign’s letters with her free hand. “Call me London.”

    @caramichaels
    1000 words

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: #MideekMusings 1×06 : Carry You Home | My Soul's Tears

  7. She was still alive. The man next to her was dead, the hole in his head, the mush that was the back of his head. They’d shot him. He’d been in the way.

    Frank knew what they’d done to her. Naked and tied to a tree. His blood turned to ice as he remembered Beth. He’d saved her body, but couldn’t save her heart.

    The ice calmed him. “First, make sure no one’s still around.” He pulled his bow off his back, set an arrow, then moved, silently, like a wolf, through the trees and the brush. A predator, hunting. He listened, but heard no one. He searched the ground, and the trees, ready to fight if needed. A trained warrior. A trained killer.

    The woman was still alive. Damn it. He should have walked away. Should have let her die. One more victim of the violence filled world. But, he couldn’t. He wouldn’t sleep that night if he did. He might never sleep again if he left her there.

    He searched the woods until he found them. Three of them in the trees, four of them on the ground, arranged in a half circle around the woman, waiting for anyone to show up. A classic trap, she was the bait. Outnumbered, seven to one, Frank could have walked away. Waited until the men gave up. That might be a day, or two. That might be a week. They might stick around until their bait died. Either way, they’d move on, find someone else.

    The woman, and her friend, lost in the woods. They’d probably been hunting a safe place. A village, a town, where people would welcome them. Take them in. Plenty of lost couples wandered in the forest, the mountains. Most of them starved to death. They didn’t know how to hunt for food.

    Bands of men hunted them. Always killed the male. Always raped the female. Always set a trap. Frank knew they set traps because it always worked. Others lost in the woods tried to help. They rushed in, blindly. And the men who waited had another woman to rape. And they did. Endlessly.

    Frank wasn’t lost in the woods. He lived there. Hunted there. Survived there. Alone.

    Carefully, he pulled two more arrows from his quiver, propped them against the tree he stood next too. Frank knew what to do. He targeted one of the men in a tree, let the arrow fly. It struck the man in the neck. The second arrow struck the second man hiding in a tree. It caught him in the belly. The man howled in agony and fell. Idiot probably broke his neck in the fall.

    The other men knew something was wrong, but hadn’t started to react. Frank fired the third arrow. It caught the third tree dweller in the chest. The man stood on a tree branch, and looked at the arrow sticking out of his chest. He looked surprised, like something was wrong, something didn’t make sense. He sat down on the branch. Frank wondered how long it would take for him to die. But he had no time to watch. He dashed through the brush to his left, toward the closest of the men on the ground. He pulled an arrow from his quiver as he ran. The man never figured out what was going on. Frank pounced on him, and drove the arrow into his neck. The man fell, silently. Unable to scream.

    The other three did what Frank expected. They left their hiding spots, wandered into the open, headed toward the tree dweller who’d screamed. Frank put an arrow in the back of one of them. The other two turned, drew their guns, and started shooting at everything.

    One arrow struck a man in the left thigh. Another struck the other in the right hip. Both howled in pain. Frank stayed hidden, and waited. The two he’d wounded panicked, dropped their guns, and started to rip the arrows from their bodies, which only caused them to bleed more profusely. The other five were no longer threats.

    Frank walked to the two wounded men. He kicked their guns away, into the woods. They looked at him, pleaded for help. Frank never made a sound. He approached the woman. Untied her. She was too weak to walk.

    “I know a place you will be safe.” He pulled the shirt off one of the dead men, helped her put it on. Then, he carried her. “A place you can call home.” He looked to the sky and screamed the cry of an eagle. An eagle answered. Frank screamed again. He knew, the eagle would fly to Jessica.

    “I know someone. A woman.” Frank looked at the woman he carried. “She’ll take care of you.”

    And he carried her away from that place of death.

    808 words
    @LurchMunster

    Liked by 1 person

  8. TRIAL RUN

    The autumn burnt meadow and snow dusted mountains make a remarkable and rugged backdrop for the ranch but the woman standing on the gravel path between the stable and the barn-turned-house doesn’t seem to appreciate the grandeur.

    Chris Patterson watches from his bedroom window, a frown lining his brow and tugging the corners of his mouth beneath the overgrown mustache and beard. He wasn’t counting on hiring a new employee right now and in spite of her sterling recommendations, Paula Dardeen doesn’t seem up to the job.

    She might fit the bill out there in the real world, but up here on the mountain, she’s lost at best and a liability at worst. No cell reception. No internet. No television. Just wide open country and three cantankerous patients.

    Two more weeks and they’d be on the race track. Hardly enough time for her to get up to speed and definitely not enough time for them to feel comfortable with her. He should go out there and have a chat with her. Although, he isn’t much for chatting.

    He reaches for the cane beside his chair and walks out to the front porch. Can’t think of how to start, so he just parks himself on one of the chairs, leans back, and closes his eyes. Might have dozed off some, because when he opens them, she’s in the chair next to his and the sun is beginning to set.

    “You need a blanket,” she asks, eyes still scanning the land.

    He shrugs. “If I do, I’ll get one.”

    She makes a face at him. “So, you don’t need me to hover? Good, then I’ll go get something to eat.”

    “Hang on,” he says, realizing he’s started wrong but not sure how to fix it or even if he’s willing.

    “Oh, so now you want me to hover? Let me guess. You want dinner, right? Deer stew, corn bread, and a cold beer.”

    A flash of anger swims through his belly but as it rises, it exits his mouth as a laugh. “No. Let me start over. I’m pissed that Sheryl took off on us. And I’m pissed that I had to bring in someone new. But I’m not pissed at you. I know it feels that way and I apologize.”

    She leans against the porch railing. “Thanks.”

    “As for meals around here, Sheryl was a vegan so we cooked for ourselves. I don’t see any reason to change that. You’re not here to cook and clean. Let’s be clear about that.”

    “Okay. Now we’re getting somewhere. Three days late but I’ll try to let it go. Now that you’ve established what I’m not here for, let’s talk about what I am here for.”

    “Medical purposes. Plain and simple. Take daily stats. Give deep tissues massages. Administer first aid as necessary. Bottom line, my liability insurance requires a licensed nurse on the premises when guests are on the books.”

    “And what am I supposed to do when I’m not conducting weigh ins and applying bandaids?”

    “Whatever you want,” he says, reaching for his cane and standing. “Sheryl was an avid reader. A bit of a photo bug too. Kept herself busy.”

    “You might have mentioned something about that in your advertisement. I’d have brought a sketch pad or yarn. Or something.”

    “There are reader’s digest compilations in the den. A vegetable garden out back that could use tending. Oh, and horses. Course, those are down in the valley.”

    “Other than daydreaming about chasing down and saddling a horse, what does a usual day look like around here?”

    “Up at six. Breakfast. Workout. And then head out to practice. Usually come in late afternoon and go through medical and massage. Chow and relax the rest of the evening. I’m usually down by nine and the boys are up until eleven or so.”

    “Just trying to figure out what to do with myself.”

    “I understand it’s a bit of a culture shock coming all the way up here. You’re welcome to use the landline as much as you’d like. Keep in touch with friends and family.”

    She glances at him, holds his gaze a moment too long. “Aren’t you curious about why I took this job? I love my job. Don’t misunderstand. But I thought I’d get to spend time treating people, not treating their conditions. Seemed like it became all hurry up and process a patient and their payment and paperwork. Oh, never mind. I suppose that doesn’t make sense.”

    “What’s not to understand,” he says, walking to the railing, his limp more pronounced now, at the end of the day, when the rest of his body is too tired to adequately compensate. “You came here for focus. I can help you with that, if you want.”

    She nods. “How’s that?”

    “I spent a lot of time stuck on my back in that hospital, being told what I couldn’t do, what I’d never be able to do again. But here I am, not only walking, not only prepping to for my fifth race in as many years, but training other athletes who were told they’d never be back on a race track.”

    “You ever train rookies?”

    He grins. “No, but in case you haven’t been listening, I can’t resist a challenge.”

    “So, roll call is at six?”

    Never had an employee who wanted to go shoulder to shoulder with the crew. Volunteers, sure, but not paid employees. But this one seems determined, seems like she’s capable, seems like – well, she’s just as strong willed as he is and damn if that is almost as attractive as that lopsided smile.

    – – – – –
    @bullishink / 937 words

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