Cupcake Windchime

Her Cam Girl name was Cupcake Windchime, and boy, could she ever dangle. She was a dangler, because she had sex in the woods or else she could chill. She could hang, @petergriffin-studmode69 had put it. And she tells us where to put it, he nodded to his old poodle in the corner.

Her parents had looked at her screaming twisting body and named her Loretta. They thought she would take on the name like a dough, but Loretta never took. Loretta was in a fluorescent kitchen by six am, whipping a cupcake batter into shape. She did not feel like Loretta- she wanted to be the cupcake. At the first opportunity, she was cupcakelover12@hotmail.com. Then, icedcupcake86, semi-professionally. And now, she supposed, her reasons were spiritual.

She never signed off the chat before 4am. That’s when you got the real freaks. She woke up at 2pm every day, without setting any alarms. In her mornings, the soft tinkling of chimes seemed to follow her around the house. Looking down at her ankles, she’d see the circle of thread and the knot. The attached pieces doing the tinkling were just plain-old cutlery.

Cupcake shook her head, bubbling over in a big laugh. Same dick different day, she said to the coffeemaker, and it bleeped its red eye, snarling out a few more drops of decaf. She grabbed the mug, and with it in one hand, and her hairbrush in the other, Cupcake climbed the stairs to her office.

When she walked in the room, a man jumped up from the desk chair. He landed on his feet, cat-like, facing the window. Legs spread apart and tensed. His audible breaths came like popcorn popping and she couldn’t see his right arm. His black leather jacket was turned towards her. Cupcake screamed and flung the mug across the room. It missed the intruder completely, breaking into shards and splashing its contents on the wall and window. The man threw his head back and cried out. She felt his whole body clenching- the sensation rocketing through her seemed both erotic and holy- driving at last into the buried pink nerve heart of each one of her teeth. Cupcake screamed out once more, then fell silent.

The man began lowing like a cow in heat. His bald head ran into a pink folded nape, reddening steadily.

“Spread those butterfly lips for me, chica, how ’bout it?”

How did you get in here? Cupcake asked. She watched in terror as a thin ray of moisture crept up on the air, her tongue ran along her bottom lip without realizing it.

He had said it all without turning around.

“Chica, I bet you’d do it with dirt in your mouth. You wouldn’t refuse me. Even if I sat your ass in a puddle right before.” He laughed- a high aluminum whisking sound that reminded Cupcake of a deli slicer. Her mood darkened, and she pictured pushing a great tube of salami into the path of a blade.

The black leather jacket began to shake, reveling in the bloodpump pleasure of its own lewdness. The right arm was again wrenched out of sight. Before Cupcake could speak, he had zipped his fly and was making a break for it! His legs swung up over the windowsill and in a flurry of chimes he was gone.

It was a long time before Cupcake could move. When she finally did, she walked over to the desk and unplugged the computer. Unplugged the webcam. Maybe she should take the night off. Maybe it was time for a different career altogether. Loretta, her mother wrote on lunchboxes, Loretta, at the top of her papers. Cupcake looked over at the kit, lying open on the desk, and her arms and face began to itch, itch, itch.

She carried the desktop over to the window, and, ever so carefully, pushed it over the edge.

Moonrock

Until I was twenty-two, I believed the faces of the sun and moon belonged to the same rock. I thought: when man first walked on the moon, he must have done it at night.
When my friends heard about this belief, they mocked me until they realized that no one had told them outright that it wasn’t true. Then one of them punched me. Laughing, he attempted to reassure us that we had all learned about such things in science class.
“Come to think of it,” one said, “I have seen the sun and moon together in the sky, on plenty of occasions.”
“So there’s your proof,” said another.
I agreed, nodding wildly. I had seen them together in the sky, too, but I had found a way to explain it: if you really looked, one or the other was always more duskily faded. Like a reflection in water.
“Or ice,” another said dreamily.
“You know, the Apollo astronauts trained right here in Iceland in the 1960s.”
We immediately bowed our heads in the direction of our quietest friend. I loved when this one spoke. We were careless listeners among each other, but when he spoke, we paid attention. We paid him the reverence that only Valur had ever earned from us, in those quivering post-match moments in the Hlíðarendi Stadium.
“My grandfather used to spy on their activities, combing the surrounding volcanic rock for cavansite.”
“Cavansite?”
“It had been discovered in Oregon earlier that year. He read about in Geology Magazine.”
We all stared at him blankly.
“In his old age, he became obsessed with finding this rare blue mineral. He would take my father on long walks, circling the training camp, whose presence had been corrupting his ideal of the black-ridged Icelandic landscape. My father remembers these walks, though he was very young, due to how completely alone he felt. My grandfather never said a word to him about the astronauts over the fence. Their mission, their freeze-dried food and microgravity training. All stuff which would have been fascinating to a child. He was too busy searching, and they had to search quietly. Every rock my father picked up glinted like a tooth, but it was never the right one. Never the prismatic royal blue contained in the crinkled magazine photograph, which was tacked to the mantle in his father’s workshop.”
“Did they find it?” I had to ask.
“Forty-three years later,” he said, lowering his eyes. “Another man found it.”
We all started thinking it- that his grandfather had died trying.
“You have to wonder… Was the cavansite there all along?” a boy asked, incorrectly, but we forgave him. He was careless with words, while I was usually not. And I had been mistaken about the moon.
I wondered if I would ever live it down, and that night I lay awake, dreaming of astronauts landing without sound as tiny snowflakes on black rock.
I twisted my neck out the window and aimed it at the moon.

The Maudlin Sisters

Maggie shivered in her dead mother’s nightgown, as the wind hurled branches at the roof, and dust tornadoes formed here and there on the attic floor. She stared into the locket, squinting at the Maudlin sisters- their smug faces and thin lips; the dumb noses which sat upon their faces like blind slugs.

The Maudlin girls… would have been 86 this year.
Had Maggie’s mother not murdered and buried them here.

Maggie closed the locket and went behind the house with a shovel. The Maudlin sisters shrieked from inside, crying for justice.

The ground below Maggie’s feet started to rumble.

 

-originally publ. on 100wordstory.org

Real Talk

These are real, real emotions, man, and we are on our way downtown. Downtown with our fingers on a lipstick cap inside our jean pocket to suggest a knife. Our hood, our hat is pulled low. We got this worm-lipped grimace on our face. We glide past the bus stop and see him with black, glittering eyes. Waiting at the stop, in khakis and a black raincoat and dark glasses, and he is just asking for it. Something like a fuse sparks in our head. He is pathetic. We are furious- not at him and we know it, but we can taste our own fury sitting like blood in our mouth. Our sweat is murmuring and our hand is a sweet fist- one to pump and kiss the sky. We wonder what it would be like to crush his skull under our blind boot, because our eyes have moved to swallow something small and pebbly from the part of our brain which recalls childhood. And the drama of the everyday never shakes down like this on the sidewalk- not without us slamming into it, not until we make it. And he never even saw us coming. No, he was thinking about divorce as a way out and how his whole life has been a lie and there was no way he could have seen us coming after that. No way, not from miles away.

A Lifetime of Milk

Carl stood under the umbrella, looking out across the downtown square. In coveralls reeking of machine oils and sweat, made worse by the rain. On the farm, Carl remembered, nothing was ever made worse by rain.

The old man’s farm. Paved over. A lifetime of milk and red earth-tinged memories. Sprouting tall buildings now, where sweet corn and green pastures once flowered. Where an old cow giving birth kicked the daylights out of his five-year old head. He got to name that one, ol’ Milk Dud, on account of how much his head bled.

And now he was the old man. He couldn’t have told you how it happened, but it did, and the city came up all around them. Lost the farm, hired on at the factory. At least he and Barb had the kids.

A tiny spasm wracked his hand and the umbrella slid out. Carl winced. The arthritis was flaring up, more and more these days. He collapsed to his knees. Why the heck did he come back here? And in his coveralls! He stuck out like a sore thumb. And in fact his thumbs were sore, and the truth was that being here made him feel there wasn’t a thing left worth livin’ for.

-originally publ. on flashfriday.wordpress.com

Old Heart

Cheung drew one long breath by the bleachers and coughed, setting his throat aflame. Nerves. Scorching his insides, without fail, year after year.

This year was special. Cheung’s promotion had followed a fierce string of bad luck- the loss of his mother, a cheating girlfriend- but now, he waited to usher in the new year as the venerable Head of the Dragon.

Cheung pushed through the crowd, taking his place at the head while his colleagues lined up behind him. The music began and the scarlet dragon sprang to life, undulating over the crowd’s heads like a silk ribbon threading a sea of black pearls. Cheung swung the pole deftly, in time with the drums and precise choreography that had taken weeks to master.

As the dance peaked, Cheung lost himself in the great smoking head of the beast. Tomorrow was a fresh start- the promise of a new year turned over like a leaf in his old heart.

-originally publ. on flashfriday.wordpress.com

Flight 909

The morning flight to Miami is all hungover bridesmaids and businessmen in wrinkled suits. The vibe gets frisky after take-off, which is too bad, since who is this, coming to sit next to Dave? The most elderly man on the plane. Dave watches as he pops open the overhead compartment, stashing a bejewelled tree branch, which is presumably a cane.

The old man’s beard reminds Dave of his mother’s decades-old oven mitt. Dressed in a crushed velvet robe, his blue eyes twinkle behind honest-to-god spectacles. Dave is staring unknowingly at the man’s gut, when his eyes lock onto a gold pocket watch- its chain swinging like a pendulum over the seat.

Waves of nausea slap the walls inside Dave’s stomach. He looks out the window. The sky is still so dark. A low rumble in the plane’s belly; seatbelt lights switch to ON. The plane launches smoothly, rising in the stratosphere like a ghost ship sinking for miles under black water. The stars look wet. Dave suspects his fear of flying has encouraged a morbid personality.

They have been in the air for some time when the beard finally speaks.
“Dave,” it says, surprising Dave, who has been twisting his pretzel wrapper in and out of knots.
“I am the resident wizard of Flight 909. I must introduce myself using my Holocene name, Chronus. Your species is unable to comprehend my current name, which is-”
A shrieking sound explodes into the cabin like a vicious stream of bats; their flapping dissolves in an instant and Dave’s eyes grow wide. He senses a pattern developing, in a distant land, of time switching back and forth along the arm of a giant metronome.

“Look out the window,” the old man says, and Dave obeys, feeling his will come up against something.
“There- the break in the clouds!” The old man points to a golden spray of pure sunlight, burning through a ceiling of grey cloud. It is the most miraculous sight Dave has ever seen; indeed, he thinks it is proof of heaven.
“I’ve been trapped in this epoch for ages,” the stranger continues, “riding in your planes and on the backs of large birds. Hoping to come across this very ‘window’- this golden passage through time- one bright morning and find my way back to the world I left long ago.”
“What world?” Dave asks in a voice that seems not to belong to him anymore.
“A crueler world than this,” the old man replies coldly, and a hushed silence falls over the plane.

As if cued, the plane veers sharply, charting a new course in the direction of the heavenly light. The pilot comes on over the intercom: It’s going to be a beautiful, sunny day in Miami, folks, and thanks for flying with us. Dave considers his fear of flying, which has all but disappeared.

In the seat next to him, an old man fiddles with a gold pocket watch, closes his eyes.

-originally publ. on https://luminouscreaturespress.com

Marooned

I had made it to dry land, but the sea still swirled in my ears and throat. The memory of the mutiny was as fresh as the sabre wound on my chest.

The taste of my lover’s lips, indistinguishable from saltwater, from sand- now indistinct from that which coaxed his bright soul from its body, numb and unblinking. His pale face sinking into black water under a cruel shape of moon.

It was better not to be marooned. It was better to be both of our glowing, weathered faces- plunging deep and snuffed out along with the treacherous nature of our disgrace. You proved your love in arrogance, and I bit my tongue a thousand times trying to say it. I know this taste to be regret, and privateers’ mouths are full of it.

My love, there are things that I wish I had done differently… Beginning with: why the hell can’t two people fit on one floating door?

– originally publ. on flashfriday.wordpress.com

Dollhouse

The American had seemed kind, at first, and though his kisses rubbed her raw, she believed in some tender promise of love at their core. She knew he was a hero in his war, but not in the war of her people. With her family gone, stolen in the black smoke at Nagasaki, life as a rich American’s ningyô did not seem so terrible.

She touched her wrists, tracing the scars, invoking the unexpected cruelty of her lover: the bizarre, childlike costumes; numbing agents; the meticulous positioning of her broken joints…

Vera glanced at her watch, lowered the umbrella, and positioned the American’s gas mask over her face. She recalled her Mother’s untraditional choice of ‘Vera’, after Japan’s strongest typhoon.

As the mansion burst into flames behind her, she thought of the American trapped inside… She felt a wave surging inside of her and knew that she was strong- stronger, even, than the Vera who had swallowed thousands of lives.

– originally publ. on flashfriday.wordpress.com

The Seventh Son

Seven sons was too many, and a girl could have helped smooth things. Ten years between the oldest and youngest. Ten years of hand-me-downs, rocks through windows, muddy sneakers and unsigned permission slips. After their father left, she kept the box around the house. With its crudely rendered front flap, it served as a reasonable disguise. She stapled straw hair to the top, and wrapped the middle with a torn blue dress.

When she dropped the box on their heads, her sons shrank down into feeble, trembling things. She longed for a daughter, who smelled sweet, like pineapples and cream.