Sometimes the most horrible things that happen to us don’t show up in theatres or along the spines of novels. They have no title, and the blurb is too deep and felt too inarticulately to imagine. But horror can rescue us, too. We can’t describe the nameless thing that is trivialized by the mere attempt at narrative. But we can do battle with it. We can fly in the face of the amorphous dark. Horror can be the tale of that kind of love and friendship. We can acknowledge that the awful thing can’t be spoken, not really, but that “I am here with you and I will not leave”. And telling that, even if nothing else can be said, can be the means by which we reach across the night and race in the face of terror on behalf of those who matter to us. If you are interested in this, you are offered this tiny piece of multimedia fiction – a children’s tale if you wish (I don’t mind), because we are all children in the face of our monsters. It is crafted with care and laid gently, like a weaving of twigs, at the feet of suffering. Read the Sparrows’ Tale [Here].
The Tree of Breaking
A Story for the Fallen:
One man stays away from windows and puts his back to the jambs of doorways, using the framing as a shield. No moving if the refrigerator compressor kicks on – you need your ears – every sound. Stay clear of the lamp – make no shadow. Don’t anticipate the recoil – by then the bullet will be out of the gun. Take aim with your mind. Don’t waste the trigger. If your enemy comes through the window, fire only when you have the shot. The sure one counts. It’s your dream gun, but not a TV gun that doesn’t run out, and every wayward bullet is a wasted moment. [Read more…] about The Hand That Makes the Cut
Rewrite of a story from Oct 29, 2006
We had a large family together, ten children in all, some more successful than others. We were happy, oldest to youngest. But life throws curves to life, and ours was that our house caught fire with the children trapped inside. The flames were impossibly hot, but I would have given my life trying.
“A stitch in time saves nine”, she said. So I took the needle from her hand, and raced in a circle around the house. Nine of our children got out, but not the youngest.
Grief consumed us, slowly, like cold settling in when you’re dying. We grieved even to look at each other. But she knew a way to forget it all.
“Penny for your thoughts,” she said.
I looked at her. Beautiful, ponderous, and hurting. So I took the penny, and then I repeated those words and handed it back. At last, then, we let memory go.
We have one of those relationships where people (including ourselves) often wonder why we’re together, but there isn’t any particular reason to part. Perhaps, they think, it’s just habit, or that we’ve just gotten old. And then, one day, I saw the thing I truly wanted. I couldn’t hide it from her, and she didn’t need me to.
“Strike while the iron is hot,” she said.
I looked at the folded linens and the steam rising from the ironing board. She was always right, so I did it. I balled up my fist and hit her. It was the first and last time. There wasn’t any need after that.
What I wonder now, is whether it’s better to live a life of cliche.
Don’t swing so high, my parents said.
You’ll learn to fly, or you’ll wind up dead.
You kick off with your knees. Your feet leave the ground and you immediately tilt back and encourage them skyward. [Read more…] about Gravity’s Child
Everything was fine. We were fine. We were a family. Until the tree came up through the floor. It didn’t happen in a day, or a month, not even in a year, though by a year’s time we could feel the strangeness of it. It wound through our lives like blood courses through veins, spreading out and consuming us from within. Yes, we’re still talking about the tree. It’s not a metaphor. It’s not symbolic. It was rough, with shaggy bark, and green on top, OK? [Read more…] about The Tree of Breaking – A History
There was an age of fire. It became so hot that it burned the first mother, even as she shielded her young from the inferno. [Read more…] about The Stone Mother
I looked at you, looking at me. At first, I basked in it. You would adjust your hair. You would smile. You would turn your face a little and look at me sideways. You were nervous and would fiddle with your clothes.
I felt something I had never known. Longing. You filled me. You were all the light I needed. With you, I had a meaning in the world that I understood. I guess you could say I loved you. [Read more…] about The Sound of Breaking Glass
A man had twenty four hands, and each of his hands held a secret or an answer. He lived in Russia in 1913, under the reign of the last Tsar. There were many such itinerant people then, and many made their living from fortune telling or as oracles of astrological research. Let’s call him Ivan, since it’s the most common man’s name in Russia. It’s like John in the US, and it’s pronounced “ee-VON” not “EYE-vun”. That’s important. [Read more…] about The White Lies of Ivan the 24-Handed
Racy Feder is the fastest sketch artist in the world. When the second tower fell in New York, she wasn’t taking a photograph, she was standing in the street, pencil in hand, making a sketch. When she was witness to two men making it out of the bank on 42nd Street with automatic weapons and sacks of Chase’s money, no one dared hold up their cell phones for a shot. Racy, sat calmly and efficiently with her knees tucked in, seemingly scribbling on a pad, and her not one but two sketches became the only globally syndicated images of the holdup. During the ice storm two years later, when cars were sliding out of control on I-87, Racy turned in drawings to her grandmother’s insurance company, made on the scene, showing the trajectory and position of each car in her line of sight, even before their own vehicle was struck. [Read more…] about Hands that Listen
Mrs. Jenkins didn’t know about changing babies. She knew that when fruit spoiled, you tossed it out. She knew that when an egg turned, it went down the chute in the hall to the dumpster below, and presumably into the belly of some hobo desperate enough to fish it out. That’s why, when they asked her about the twins left in her care, she said, “Oh, they’re all taken care of. Cleaned up, spic and span, no mess.” The detectives looked at each other, looked at the gleaming counter tops, noticed the complete lack of finger marks around refrigerator handles, and found an absence of even one spot of grease on the stove. Mrs. Jenkins nodded approvingly, “All new set of appliances. Just delivered last week, after I made the little ones dinner.” They asked about the new prescription bottle on the counter – wanting to know if it was for her. She had been beaming, but now she frowned. “Yes,” she said. “I’m not well, apparently. Don’t worry, I haven’t taken the pills. I’m not about to dirty the new glassware with lipstick. It all gets so expensive, keeping house.” She shrugged. “Oh well, I guess everything gets replaced, and it’s past time for a new model.” She stepped backwards off the balcony, careful not to leave any marks of fresh nail polish on the rail.