The clock revealed it was almost 1pm. Time for our family’s annual Easter Egg Hunt. Mum and Dad were busy hiding the stash of eggs in the backyard. We could hear their muffled talk of watching for our prying eyes through the window.
The whistle blared, signalling the start of the search. We pushed past each other, rushing to be the first to find our share. Just like we had every year since we were kids.
My eagle eye caught a glitter of foil from the terracotta clay of a pot plant on the balcony. Too late! My fingers touched my sister’s skin as she snatched it out from underneath me.
“That was close!” I joked.
We scrambled and hunted, searching every nook and cranny – even in the charcoal of the fire pit.
Soon, we had all found our share. All but one. My brother in law’s last egg was nowhere to be found.
We looked and looked until our own chocolate began to melt. The weather was unseasonally warm for April and the chocolate had sat out long enough.
Eventually, conceding defeat, my mum handed him a stuffed koala instead.
They saturate the corners;
those whose souls hurt just
like the rest of us.
Their life’s dished
out sharp lessons,
and opportunities have slipped
through fingers like silk.
They are judged by others as
deserving of their fate but
the truth lies hidden
in the shadows.
Broken rain veils the music
of their hearts breaking,
these faceless people
of the streets.
There had been a blight upon the crops for months now, and his people were slowly dying from starvation. The pharaoh called a closed meeting with his advisors who recommended he enact the ritual of small kindness. The pharaoh cringed and initially refused such an atrocity. But his chief advisor cajoled him, explaining the practice was the only means by which they could survive the famine.
The children were heaped together and did not question, why they were suddenly being fed such a feast, in a time of scarcity. They wolfed it down hungrily, until their eyes turned wild with panic. They started to fall one by one, foaming at the mouth and twitching, as the poison spread through their veins.
Eventually, when they were all dead, the chief advisor reassured the pharaoh. “It was a small kindness that they should not suffer any more. By their sacrifice, now we have enough food to survive until spring.” He put his hand on the pharaoh’s shoulder adding, “and we can always make more children.”
A mother sobbed over a tiny sarcophagus containing her son.
The children had spent hours hauling snow, slowly molding the snowman into existence. They giggled as they rolled and pressed ice into a deformed trunk, topped by two small spheres. He was balanced but askew.
Raiding the kitchen drawer, makeshift features and a bow-tie were fashioned from aluminium foil. They tugged at my hand, pulling me out into the cold to inspect their handy work.
I drew a sharp breath, as I took in its snarling mouth, vacant eyes, and small, scar-pocked holes where two sticks formed outstretched arms. I swear, I even saw the thing wink at me.
“What do you think mum?” Katie asked, craving my approval.
I checked my face, lest it belied the unkind thoughts in my mind.
“It’s great hun,” I replied, secretly hating it. It was the creepiest snowman I’d ever seen. Like it would tear you apart at first opportunity.
“Come on, let’s get you guys rugged up and ready for bed. It’s late,” I cajoled.
– – – – – – – – – – – –
Later that night, whilst stoking the coals in the hearth, I heard it.
Scratching at the door.
Terror gripped me, for I knew who it was.
I grabbed the scalding bar, praying heat would conquer him.
Honey-tinted sunshine filtered through branches. The forest was thick with the crescendo of bird-song. If gravity hadn’t been holding me down, I could’ve floated away to the blue skies above.
It was a perfect day for a walk.
I continued along the boardwalk snaking its way through the dense woodland. It was an advertisement for safe passage, as ferns and scrub scratched at its edges.
My eyes were drawn to leaf litter peppering the path and it was then, that I saw blood. My senses immediately became electrified and the peace around me shattered.
The red droplets smattered here and there, dotting their way along the planks. Every instinct was telling me “Run!” but curiosity urged me on. I justified to myself that if someone was injured, maybe I could help.
I rounded a corner and there, I saw a pool of crimson so thick, it was impossible to believe anything living could’ve gone on.
Teeth bared, the beast was upon me so quickly, I slipped in viscous liquid, becoming one with he who’d fallen before me.
My breath rattled in my chest, as I exhaled my last, and I thought, It had been a perfect day for a walk.
I should never have followed my urge to explore the abandoned asylum, but my hunger to venture into the spirit-world was boundless. I’d done this kind of thing before. Many times. No problem.
Mesh fencing, chains and “No Trespassing” signs plastered everywhere, should’ve served as a warning, but I didn’t want to miss out. This place was reputed to be a powerhouse of hauntings, on account of the madness and misery of the hundreds of people who’d died here.
The wind howled around the main administration building as I entered. I consulted the map I’d drawn, heading to the notorious “Bullpit”. A ward that had once housed the most violent male patients.
I hadn’t been in there long when I heard a sound. A scraping along the bare, tiled floors. My hair stood on end, senses on high alert. Excitedly, I grabbed my EMF meter and night vision goggles, and heard a shout from one of the rooms.
That is all the memory I have, of how I died. Now I too, am trapped here. Another crazy spirit, existing in parallel with the real world, where the sands of time move so slowly.
The door hung askew in its frame. Hazy yellow light, like a saint’s halo, leered at me from around the cracks, suggesting that someone, or something, was already in my room. I shuddered and continued tentatively down the hallway.
Feeling uneasy, I chastised myself for my situation. If I wasn’t so poverty stricken after my divorce, I could have afforded my own place, and not be forced to reside in this creepy, old, share home.
I reached out to turn the handle, when cold gusts surrounded me. Strange, I thought, looking around for the source of air. I folded my arms around my body, vigorously rubbing my skin.
Then I heard it. A shallow, rasping voice in my ear, unmistakable in its malice and intent.
Shocked and confused I turned to see who had voiced the command, but there was no one there. Thinking I must be going crazy, I shook my head, opened the door and stepped inside.
A rope lay coiled like a snake at my feet; a noose tied at its end.
Again I heard the voice say, “Leave” as the rope began to move.
I turned and ran, knowing nothing on this holy earth would ever make me return…
Even with a plethora of songs on my iPod, none of them, were filling the void I was feeling today. I flicked from one track to the next, feeling ever more, musically dissatisfied. I needed something that would turn my mood around.
Suddenly, I was struck with an idea. I wandered over to the buffet and pulled open the top drawer. Inside, I carefully extracted an old 45 vinyl record. Turning it slowly in my fingers, I smiled. Yes, I mused, pleased with myself. This would scratch my itch!
I opened the lid of my old, 80s stereo (that remarkably, still worked – they didn’t design things like this anymore) and flicked the power switch to on. A satisfying crackle of static hummed through the speakers, ever so briefly. Placing the vinyl on the the turntable, I manually guided the thin needle into the first groove of the record’s A side.
As the opening chimes of the piano riff began, I immediately began to feel soothed. The sound was amazing as it boomed through the stereo speakers, surrounding me and carrying me away. The molten voice of Gloria Gaynor soon sponged off all the hurt, rejection and disappointment, replacing it with something else.
A righteous, empowering, spirit overcame me, and I found myself jumping up; dancing and singing along, alone in my lounge room. In that moment, I knew things were going to be okay. I would be okay.
But as the final words of the song faded out, I decided I had better play it one more time, just to be sure…
I put on a song,
hoping the sound of music
will provide a temporary
e s c a p e;
respite from this tedious task.
My mind pushes and pulls against itself.
Who voted on this existence anyway?
Was it someone…
Thirsty for pain?
Wishing to drive us crazy?
Seeing if they can steal our weekends?
It’s no party, trust me. Thank Goodness reports are finished.
It seemed a simple puzzle
– twist; stand still; and wish,
ambler nor no other would nuzzle.
It seemed a simple puzzle.
A sneaky trim, a stolen tousle.
Stream toward the prize…oh no, we’ve all gone squish!
It seemed a simple puzzle
– twist, stand still and wish.
I wiggled and jiggled in
The small change room.
I cringe at my reflection.
Broad hips, narrow shoulders.
My body clearly taunting me.
‘Twould be funny.
If it weren’t so serious.
Feeling fury and disbelief,
I test the fabric’s strength.
I win the mission but not the war
As I free the garment from my body,
I hear the resounding RRRRIIIIIPPPP!
I gather up the pieces.
Sometimes in life, we get away with it.
And sometimes we have to pay.
It’s a sliding scale.
Author’s Note: Uponfirst reading, it would seem this poem is about a mishap at a clothing store. Which is one interpretation should you choose to take it 😊. The metaphorical intent behind this free verse is to show the lengths we can go to in life to change, bend and mold ourselves to an ‘ideal’. Eventually it wears and tears and tests our strength. Some of use choosing to cast off the oppressive ‘second self’. Sometimes that price is high and we are left picking up pieces, other times, we can move on. Life’s sliding scale; a balancing act and struggle, but the self in some form, will always endure.
Prompts: Sammi Scribbles, Weekend Writing Prompt, #28 – Life Poetry Challenge – Write a poem in 20 lines or less about life; the ups and downs, the important things, what it means to live a good life.; and also, Daily Post Daily Prompt – Fabric; and also, Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, Saturday Mix, Opposing Forces – 11 November 2017. Words: broad and narrow, funny and serious; and, The Sunday Whirl, Wordle 325. Words: clear, taunting, body, fury, test, war, mission, lesson, slide, dirt, pay, disbelief.
I emerged from the artificial cocoon of the Sunshine Plaza in Maroochydore and straight away, noticed the sun was gone and it had started to drizzle. Also, I had no umbrella.
Now I know, getting stuck in the middle of a downpour is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I had two reasons for deciding to walk out into that rain. One, I needed the exercise, and climbing up the hill to my accommodation would do the trick; and two, I just needed to FEEL something again. I’d been numb ever since the break up and stumbling through every day as though my life was no more than a dream. That was the reason I’d chosen to holiday here on my own. I wanted to discover my ‘spark’ again.
Despite the overcast skies, the late March day was warm. As I began the 2km trek to the hostel, the rain tumbled from the low grey clouds. Each drop that fell on my skin was cool, silky and invigorating; igniting my senses and tickling my pores. I tilted my head back, closed my eyes and allowed the spray to sprinkle over my face. I felt like a kid again.
Smiling, for the first time in months, I subconsciously picked up my pace and started a half stroll-half skipping move, and began to hum. I knew I probably looked like a crazy, drowned rat, but I felt alive! A bud of hope began to swell in my chest – maybe everything would be ok after all.
I stepped over a puddle, lifted my head, and wiped my sticky hair out of my eyes. I heard footsteps pounding the pavement and they were moving my way. Another person who liked singing and walking in the rain! I said to myself gleefully. My lips started to form a greeting when the words froze on my tongue. My face fell and my stomach plummeted through the cold cracks of the pavement.
It couldn’t be! I thought, as an all too familiar figure ran towards me.
But it was. Of course it was.
He had always been fanatical about keeping trim, and a little rain had never stopped him before. I wondered what the chances were, that out of all the holiday destinations in Australia, out of the twelve months of the year, out of the thirty-one days in the month, out of the 24 hours in the day, and out of the 60 minutes leading up this exact moment, that we would cross paths? Surely one in a mill…or even less!
He strode past me as though I were nothing. His face as scornful as a king mocking his lowliest servant.
They say love is blind and I wish that were true. For then, I would never have known it was he who swiped my blossoming hope and crushed it in the dirt.
Overwhelmed by a world teeming with pretense, I am challenged to keep up with so many ‘individuals’. In this dearth of light, I take the easiest possible route to jump ship. Ambivalence is my drug, and I take it in bulk. Shock; horror.