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Domestic Bliss

I stand alone watching the snow fall before the window. I try not to think about where we’d be now if things had worked out between us. I can still feel the warmth of your breath, the feel of your body up against mine as I gaze out the window. In my mind, nothing has changed. In my mind, you are still here with me.

You stand there next to me, lost in the beauty of the landscape. You were never one for the cold, but you could always appreciated what Nature had to offer. You were always able to recreate anything she had with the stroke of your brush. What you painted was not merely a cheap imitation but a mirror of Nature’s beauty. You reflected back to her something even more sublime than she could have ever imagined. Tonight you stood in our kitchen, your arms wrapped around me, keeping me warm as you absentmindedly sipped your tea. I can smell its aroma mixed with the scent of your freshly laundered sweater. This is what love smelled like.

I blink and you’re gone. I’m alone again, watching the seasons turn and the flower blossoms in the trees bloom. Under the raining petals, I see two lovers and I’m gone again. I am brought back to the first time we met.

It was strange how it came to be. We were both just tourists in another city, another country, but were united by a similar background, a similar interest, and we both called the same city home. Underneath the cherry blossom waltz, we made our own kind of love. One that we would never have to explain to the world. We lived in the moment. We understood that love, like life, was transient. That’s why we had each other. You were my rock and I was yours. Nothing in the world would ever change.

The fresh scent of jasmines float through the open window, the sound of a girl’s laugh brings me back. The taste of summer has arrived and with it long nights watching the sunset.

You stand outside taking in the salty sea air. I watch you with watery eyes as you lose yourself in another world. When you finally notice me, you laugh me off and tell me to go inside and fetch the peach iced tea. I oblige, we will have our Sunday tea. Tea with you is unlike any other. We have the customary scones and tarts, but that’s not all. Tea with you is like a meal and it’s one that I will happily cook. I spend hours baking and cooking up a storm as you watch, your arms wrapped loosely around my waist, your lips poised above my neck, nuzzling me every once in a while. When I’m done, there are blueberry scones and fruit tarts, cucumber sandwiches and dainty smoked ham and brie sandwiches, and of course pistachio eclairs and profiteroles. This is the future I’ve always imagined for us.

A chill comes over me, I shiver it off, shaking me into reality. The smell of rotting leaves and fire fills my lungs. I quickly pull the window shut. I don’t want any more reminders of you.

It was a long day. You were tired, as you’d been for the whole week. I wanted to make things perfect just for you. I made you your favourite meal with a glass of Pinot Noir on the side. You barely glanced up while you wolfed down your steak and potatoes, drowning them in wine. You never uttered a thanks as you headed back to your office. These days work consumed your whole life. Work had drained all the love from you. You didn’t know what it meant to put it down and enjoy what you had. I tried so hard tonight. I just wanted things to go back to the way things were, but all you could think about was the money. All you wanted was to make money, save up, and retire. You didn’t know what it meant to live anymore. You were barely surviving as it was. I just wanted to help. I wanted you to be yourself again. I wanted you to be the man I had fallen in love with. But it was clear that he was dead. That you had murdered him. And that he was not coming back.

You had turned your back on me. What else could I have done? I just wish it didn’t hurt so much. There are things that time will never heal. You are one of them.

A Lesson in Life

They all sat facing forward. A formless black mass. Their heads bowed in prayer as I made my way down the aisle. A few lifted their eyes to catch a glimpse, wondering who I was and how I dared to come so late. I took my seat at the front, next to a woman I presumed to be his wife. I set my little boy on my lap and faced forward. The woman, not much older than myself, looked over at me startled.

“Who are you?” she whispered.

“I think you know who I am,” I returned.

“These seats are reserved for family and close friends,” she hissed.

“Does the mother of his child count as such?” I returned.

She glowered at me, but said nothing. I knew her type. She wouldn’t make a scene here, but in the privacy of a sound proof room, she’d let me have it.

We endured the ceremony sitting next to one another. I watched as she rose to give her eulogy to him.

“…He was a great man who was loved by all. But most of all, he was a man who loved life and all it had to offer him…” she finished.

With that everyone rose and began filing out into the reception area. The mood had lightened. Now they were to celebrate his life. The man that he had been. I was probably going to get a talking to, but what did I care?

I rose, following the others into the reception area. She followed close behind.

“Where do you think you’re going?” she hissed.

“I have every right to celebrate the man he was-” I started.

“No,” she said cutting me off, “Not until I’ve had a word with you.”

“Why?” asked the little boy in my arms, “What has mama done?”

“Why don’t you go and play with the other…others while I talk to your mother?” she said with a forced smiled.

“Why did you bring a child to a funeral, are you insane?” she hissed.

“Stop being mean to my mama!” he said loudly, catching the attention of several guests.

“Shh, Adrian, it’s alright,” I said reassuringly.

He frowned, “But she’s being mean. You always said to stand up to bullies. She’s a bully!”

“I know baby, but let mama talk to her. Maybe she has something worthwhile to say,” I said.

“Damn straight I have something worthwhile to say. Get. The. FUCK. out,” she said enunciating each word.

“I thought I’d just come and meet you,” I shrugged, “I didn’t have to, but I thought it’d be the civil thing to do.”

“Well leave. You’ve outstayed your welcome,” she snarled.

I shrugged and walked in amongst the guests, losing myself in the crowd. He had touched so many people’s lives in his life time it was only right to have so many well wishers at his funeral.

I chatted with a few of the guests, all of them too polite to breach the subject of my relationship with him. From a distance I saw a young couple looking at us curiously. They seemed like interesting people and I approached them.

“Hello,” I said with a smiled, “My name is Brienne. This is Adrian. Thank you so much for coming today.”

“Hello, I’m Marcie and this is Luke,” introduced Marcie, “So how do you know Caleb?”

“We were high school sweethearts,” I answered, “Circumstances drew us apart…and then together again. But as luck would have it, he was already married.”

“So…Adrian is-” started Luke.

I nodded.

“Aren’t you a little young to have a child?” he asked.

I shrugged, “I suppose.”

“Do you mind me asking…when?” asked Marcie awkwardly, “I mean, Luke and I want…to have kids, but we’re kinda young too…”

I smiled, “I had Adrian when I was eighteen. That’s what initially drew us apart. But when Caleb discovered his wife was…how do I put this delicately, unable to provide what he wanted most in life, he came running straight back to me. You see, years ago, he just wanted to have fun. He wasn’t in it for a seriously relationship or committed to providing for a child.”

Marcie looked at Luke who nodded, taking her hand in his.

“Thank you Brienne…you’ve given us something to think about as we prepare for our life together. We’re so sorry for your loss,” murmured Luke.

I nodded drifting away again.

“A lot of people liked daddy didn’t they?” asked Adrian.

I nodded and said, “But you must know, daddy loved you most of all.”

Prompt: “Aren’t you a little young to have a child”

Blood red Lies

She arrived home, flicking on the light. It was late. She was tired. It had been a long day. The meeting had dragged on longer than anyone expected. The last thing she wanted to think about was finding a new place to stay. The lease was up in two days…they would be kicking her out in two days. There just wasn’t enough time. There never was anymore.

Tonight she had been less careful than she had been in the past. She didn’t notice that he had followed her again. And this time she led him straight home.

She sat down at the kitchen table with her head in her hands. What was she going to do? What could she do? How could she afford a new place now? Oh why did this have to come at such a bad time? She stood and put the kettle on and put a spoonful of tea leaves into the cup, sitting back down.

It had been a long time since she felt the tears burning in the back of her eyes, trying to break through to the surface. A knock came at the door, surprising her. Who could be calling on her at such an hour? She rose, in a sleep deprived trance and opened the door.

“Hi,” he greeted timidly.

She stared at him in shock, then swore.

“Can I come in?” he asked.

She shook her head, “It’s not a good time…not now…please…just go, just leave me alone.”

“Please,” he begged.

She shook her head again, but was too tired to resists as he pushed his way in.

“What do you want?” she asked closing the door behind him.

“Just to talk,” he said simply.

“You never just want to talk,” she said dryly.

He shrugged, “Well I do and what ever it is you believe you is irrelevant.”

“Fine, what the fuck do you want to fucking talk about?” she started.

He laughed coldly, “I don’t think you should be talking to me that way.”

She rolled her eyes, but apologized, “Can you just say your piece? I’m tired and need to get some sleep.”

“Or some time to mull things over?” he snickered, “I know your lease expires in two days.”

She looked at him in alarm, how the hell did he know that?

“Oh come on, it wasn’t that hard to figure out,” he said.

“Yeah,” she nodded, “But what’s that to you?”

“I dunno, maybe you could stay with me for a while?” he suggested.

She snorted, “Yeah right.”

He gave her a half smile, “Why do you keep pretending not to like me? Why do you keep pretending not to like it?”

“Look I’ve got a reputation to maintain,” she started.

“Yeah? And I don’t? Even if we live together, it’s not like the world is sudden gonna know every little detail of your personal life,” he interrupted.

“It’s not that I don’t like you,” she said trying to take a different route.

“We all know that you can’t get enough of me,” he said, “You can keep pretending that you have other options, but the truth is that you don’t. You’re cornered like a hunted deer, you have nowhere left to go in your sad pitiful life. So stop pretending you’re better than me. I have options, but I want you, so what does that say about us?”

Her eyes flashed angrily, “You don’t think I have other options? Where’s your evidence?”

“Well, for one, if you don’t have a place to live, how do you think you’re gonna keep holding onto that job you got there?” he smirked.

“I can handle myself,” she said defiantly.

“I don’t think so,” he said slamming her into a wall.

He trailed his hands down along her body and felt it shiver in pleasure. He grinned.

“What are you doing?” she asked with some difficulty.

“What your body wants,” he responded.

She grabbed his collar suddenly and dragged him off towards her bedroom.

***

The next morning she woke up next to him covered in blood wondering what happened last night. She nudged him slightly, he lay there motionless.

“Hey!” she called a little louder, shaking him.

Still he didn’t respond. A loud knock came at the door startling her.

“Police, open up,”

She panicked, stuffing him under the bed with the bloodied sheets. She dressed to cover the blood on her body and went to answer the door.

“Hello officers, how can be of assistance to you?” she answered amicably.

“Miss Quinn?” asked one.

“Yes,” she nodded, repeating her question, “Is there a problem officers?”

“Neighbours reported tortured screams coming from your apartment,” stated the other.

“Oh, my apologies…my partner and I were simply…roleplaying. We didn’t mean to disturb anyone,” she lied.

“Oh? And where is your partner currently?” questioned the first.

“Working. He had to leave early this morning,” she lied again.

“What’s his name?” asked the other, pen poised over a small notebook.

“Gerald,” she said, pulling a name from thin air, “Lorde, I think is his last name.”

He noted the name and continued, “And when does Mr. Lorde typically return? We’d like to speak with him to corroborate the story.”

“He’s on a business trip, so let me see…today’s Wednesday, so he should be back either late Thursday or early Friday,” she said.

“Alright, we will call again on Friday,” said the first, “Does that suit you?”

She nodded, “Certainly. He will most certainly corroborate my story.”

“Well thank you for your time, Miss Quinn,” smiled the officer.

She closed the door and turned around releasing a sigh of relief, but her joy was short lived. Behind her he stood waiting with a hatchet. Before she could scream he started hacking at her face.

“This is for not loving me,” he said fiercely, “And this is for using me.”

He hacked her to bits, stowing her under the bed like she had done to him earlier. Satisfied with his handy work he left through the front door, locking it with a copy the key he had had made earlier.

Bleak

Ever since the fall of the second dynasty, our world had been thrown into chaos. Nothing seemed right anymore. There were no morals, no laws, nothing. But no one cared. No one felt it was wrong. No one but me. Laws today were arbitrary. What was legal today wasn’t tomorrow under the new regime. The only law that remained constant was that no government, past, present, or future could be expressed in any form deemed derogatory by the current regime except by the conquering regime.

I couldn’t keep things straight anymore, but I had to; I didn’t want to die for disobedience. I didn’t understand how the others could keep up, following blindly like a bunch of sheep. I liked to think of myself as more of a leader, but I knew I wasn’t a real leader. If I was, I wouldn’t be so afraid to die for what I believed in. More recently, there have been whispers of a coup rising up against the new regimes, a group, working from the grassroots where there is the most discontent, as is the case in most uprisings.

And it wasn’t only political chaos that was rampant, nature also had had enough of our abuse. She took her revenge on us and sent in an invasion of highly resistant pigeons. It was as though they had taken on the characteristics of bacteria, growing and adapting to the technologies created to destroy them. You would be hard pressed to find a building that wasn’t covered in a thick layer of shit. I know it’s hard to imagine, I know what you’re thinking. They’re just pigeons, what can they do? Well for one, they are creepy as hell. The way they watch you with their beady little eyes. It’s like they know something, like they’re watching and waiting for you to slip up, to make a mistake and expose a vulnerability that they can shit on. I suppose that’s why the pigeon has unofficially become the symbol of the imminent rebellion.

In early China, the ability to control the Yellow River was a measure of a dynasty’s competency to rule. Now it was the ability to control the pigeon population. The rebels enjoyed the symbolism associated with the stream of regimes unable to control these pests. They imagine themselves to be such a handful for the government when the time comes that they will be impossible to suppress.

But we will see. Only time will tell. But for now, all that is left is to wait.

Prompt: Random three word story (derogatory, me, pigeon)

Frosted Reality

I drive this familiar road remembering what you called a better time. Everything looks so different covered in snow, shivering and bracing itself against the cold. Despite everything I’ve lost, despite everything that’s changed since you left, I can’t say life was any better before. Less lonely, yes, but like everything else in this world, it was temporary, fleeting, that’s what made it beautiful, that’s what made you beautiful.

Though everyone is gone. Though everything is different. Though I’ve lost you in my life. I don’t feel alone. Not anymore. Through loving you I found myself. Through seeing the deadness inside reflected on this lonely road I realized that I too had beauty. Too long I had been kept from seeing my truth.

I stop, taking in the dark, leafless trees standing tall against the sky. Defiant and declarant. All along I should have seen my strength. You didn’t make me stronger. You didn’t help me realize my full potential. Everything I did for you was never enough, but somehow that showed me what I was capable of. Like the winter, I realized how destructive you were in my life. Even when you assured me you loved me. I knew it couldn’t be true. How could it be? You were just a trick.

Without you, my life is complete.

Two Sides of the Same

He found her huddled in a corner, her clothes torn and blood stained. She was shivering uncontrollably and sobbing quietly.

“What’s the matter?” he asked softly, sliding down the wall next to her.

She looked up at him and buried her face in her hands in shame. He put his arm around her and pulled her close.

“Who did this to you?” he whispered.

She shook her head and continued sobbing.

He sat with his arm around her until she had cried herself to sleep. Gently, he rose, taking her with him back to his car, driving them to the hospital. He watched as the nurses and doctors ran around flurried, cleaning her up, tending to her wounds. Not once did she wake up. Not once did she stir. He did not leave even after visiting hours ended and out of pity, they let him stay. He stayed by her side, holding her hand, watching her sleep. In the morning he woke her up.

She rubbed her eyes, not knowing what was going on at first, not remembering what had happened the night before. Then she saw him in the doorway and nearly bolted.

Their eyes met, the one who had sat with her in the night and the one in the doorway.

“Leave,” he growled as she cowered under the sheets clutching his hand to her heart.

The other merely smirked at him, taking a step forward.

He stood, his hand still in hers.

“You wanted it as bad as I did,” he said.

The first shook his head, “There was no way I would do something like that to her.”

“Oh, wouldn’t you?” challenged the other, “You’ve always pretended, always used the ‘nice guy’ act to manipulate her. You were no better than me. Only I had the courage to do what you could not.”

“I never did that to manipulate her! I’d never lie to her!” the first exclaimed hotly.

“Oh? Do you think she’d come if I asked her to?” smirked the other.

“Never, not after how you hurt her,” said the first shaking his head.

“I never hurt her. I let her know what I would do. I asked for her consent,” said the other.

It was clear who was in control now.

“She would never consent to that brutality you call love,” said the first disgusted.

“She’s right there, ask her yourself,” said the other with a shrug.

He turned to her and whispered softly to her, “What happened? Who did this to you?”

Again she shook her head and refused to answer.

“Why?! Why don’t you answer! WHO’S HURT YOU?! WHO DID THIS TO YOU?” he exploded.

The one in the doorway chuckled, “I think we both know the answer to that question.”

He turned on him, “How dare you?! Who do you think you are coming here, pretending that you care and taking away everything that ever meant anything to me?”

“I never took anything away from you. I only gave you what you truly wanted,” answered the other seriously, “I only did that which we both desired. I did what was right for us.”

Resolutions

I walked up to the door in a familiar neighbourhood. These where the streets of my childhood. This was where I had grown up, fallen in love and been left heartbroken. These were the streets that I had sworn to protect.

On these streets lived the people I promised to protect, people whose names I still knew. On these streets lived my friends and some of my best memories, but now…things were different. I had come back for another reason. A sadder purpose. All my life I had made others laugh. That was what I was good at. Then I was told of my duty. I had to be the one. The harbinger of woe, the bearer of calamity.

War always changed things. No matter how we tried. No matter what we did. War always changed us. We tried to hold on to our ideals, our morals, but War was determined to take away the things that meant the most to us. I gave myself because I thought I had nothing to lose, yet, I found myself mourning a loss not of my own.

He had once been a good friend. Perhaps even my best friend, but things changed. It was a girl. It was always a girl. I loathed and despised him for being better than me, for being the one that she ultimately chose. I loved her. She could do no wrong in my eyes. So it had to be him. He had to bear the brunt of my anger.

Days turned to months as we continued to drift apart. How could he know how I felt? I had been alone for so long. When I found her, I had been the happiest man alive. How could he know how it felt to lose all of that in a heartbeat? As he took my place, he took my happiness and the anger inside of me grew. He still valued me despite it all. He still thought of me as a friend. I tried to let the feelings pass. I tried to pretend I was not still bitter, but I was. I loved her, but it wasn’t his fault.

The last time I had walked up to her door was to take her to prom, the night she left me. I was overwhelmed with emotion as I approached the door. I knew I had been wrong to be angry with him. He had the right to be happy. He had been so alone. He deserved to be forgiven. He deserved an apology.

I rang the doorbell and waited. I heard the bark of a dog, the laughter of children and her melodic voice.

“Hello,” she answered coming to the door, her eyes twinkling.

“Mrs. Madison,” I began.

“Tony?” she interrupted, “How long has it been?”

“I’d say about fifteen years,” I said dryly.

“What brings you ’round to these parts?” she simpered in her beautiful southern accent.

“Well, you see, I-” I began again.

“Come inside, make yourself comfortable. Lucy, please fetch us some scones and iced tea,” she called leading me into her parlour.

“Anna, please…” I said, trying to bring some professionalism back.

“Tony…look. I never got the chance to apologize to you. I know I hurt you real bad, but you gotta understand, David made me feel things that you could just never…well…I’m sorry,” said Anna, her feelings spilling out.

“Anna…that’s not what I’m here about,” I said quietly.

Lucy brought in the scones and iced tea before disappearing again.

“You’d better take a scone and explain then,” said Anna sitting down across from me, holding a plate out to me.

I nodded and took the plate, taking a bite before starting, “Anna, it’s about David. I-I’m not sure how to tell you.”

Anna shook her head, her curls bouncing against her face, her eyes wide with terror, “No, please.”

“I’m so sorry Anna. After all these years, after all this regret, I’m so sorry I have to be the one to bring you this news,” I continued quietly.

Tears welled up in her eyes as she pressed her hand to her mouth, suppressing a sob. I leaned across the table and handed her my handkerchief.

“How?” asked Anna, her voice cracking.

I shook my  head, “I don’t know. I don’t know how they knew we were coming. Someone must have told them, tipped them off.”

Anna just kept looking, waiting for an answer. I struggled with myself. How could I put it gently?

“His plane went down over Germany. We don’t know if he survived,” I said at last.

“If he did, the Germans would have captured him right?” asked Anna.

I nodded.

Anna bit her lip, “And…is there a chance he could have escaped?”

I shook my head, “I don’t know Anna. I-”

Lucy reappeared at the doorway, “I’m sorry Mrs. Madison, but there’s a gentleman at the door for you. Says he needs to talk to you urgently.”

Anna stood, drying her eyes with the handkerchief. She reached out for my sleeve, “Tony, come with me.”

I nodded and followed her to the door.

“David?” asked Anna bewildered.

He nodded.

“DAVID!” she screamed running to him.

He wrapped his arms around her wordlessly watching me. I approached him with a nod.

“It’s good to have you back buddy” I chuckled.

“It’s good to be back,” he returned grinning.

Prompt: You are a military officer responsible for going to people’s homes to tell them that a family member has died in combat, is a prisoner of war, injured, missing in action, and the like. Describe one of the notification scenes.

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