Friday Fictioneers: The ‘D’ In DIY Stands For Divorce

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

photo credit: Sandra Crook

Before Jamison could explain, Suzanne dropped her suitcase outside the front door, ran through the living room and out the newly installed patio doors leading to the garden. Seeing the roof she closed her eyes. Her heels sunk in artificial grass, freshly watered but empty of the pleasant dew smell.

“Fuck, James. You had ONE job.”

Suzanne grabbed her phone and speed-dialed the construction manager, one finger in her ear to block Jamison’s noise.

“Ned! Thank God. About the roof…. Well, my husband’s clearly incompetent!”

Jamison opened his mouth to speak then thought, “Why bother.”

This flash fiction is based off of the photo prompt above for Friday Fictioneers – flash fiction under 100 words. This was my first time participating and it was a lot of fun, so I look forward to joining in for more!

The Great Tribulation: A Short Story

Woah, it’s has been a minute since I’ve posted a story. Here’s one inspired by way too many wasted Sunday mornings… I tried to make the title a little less obvious, and failed. Ah well.

Curtis roasted like a pig. He moved in a fever between two pots, holding a wooden spoon the length of his arm. The doors and windows of his small shack were open but the heat was unmoved. He looked to see the girl was still naked and sprawled out on top of his bed with a filthy rag on her forehead. The girl’s breasts spilled away from each other like two repelling magnets, a steady stream of sweat licked her from chin to navel. Her mouth was open and dry and it had been minutes since she’d blinked or sighed.

“Hey you. Hey, you still alive?” Curtis said.

The girl made a sound, something like a squawk and wheeze, and managed a few licks of her lips.

“I think so.” she said.

“Unlucky you. Why aren’t you blinking?”

“Oh… I wasn’t paying mind to whether I was blinking or not.” she said.

“You weren’t.” Curtis dashed a palmful of salt into a pot, “I thought I was cooking for a dead girl.”

Curtis took the joint from the corner of his mouth and passed the dregs to the girl. It was mostly ash, but it was familiar so she inhaled and held anyway. Even bare skin felt like one too many layers, she made herself as wide as she could to cool down. Arms and legs spread open so she looked like she was making snow angels in the sheets. And when was the last time she’d seen snow? Heat had built up slow then wrecked them all at once, writhed out of the ground like some vengeful spirit ready to drive them delirious – and succeeding. The girl was half blind and shriveled like a newborn pup when he found her stroked out in the dirt and sand, the poor godless and sun-bleached girl.

Curtis brought a bowl where the girl laid and she finally sat up at the smell. The bowl overflowed with rice and meat, two spoons for sharing. The chunks of meat were mysterious but they both guessed it was goat’s meat; fibrous and swimming in it’s sweetness. He watched the girl’s mouth work the steaming chunk and wondered how she could put her lips on something so hot without batting an eyelash. She caught his slack look and laughed a crack lipped riot saying, cool as anything, “Man, when you’ve been raised by the sun a little heat don’t hurt.”

The girl’s body looked like a heap of Himalayan salt in the distance. Curtis had watched her crawl on her stomach from noon til late, the cloud’s bellies burnt orange and only a few hours left before they’d disappear. If the girl was going to make it, she’d have to drag herself to salvation and prove she wanted it. To be out at this time of the day was a show that at some point she wasn’t sure she did, and Curtis didn’t have time for people who’d given up on themselves. The girl passed out on the steps to the smell of starch and boiled meat.

From the empty bowl of her stomach, Curtis guessed it had been weeks since the girl had eaten. She downed a mug of water and refilled the mug to cleanse her ruddy face, before starting on a plate of sweet bread rolls and jam. They sat on the bed and the girl appreciated not having to move to sleep, the meal formed a content lump in her gut. The solitary candle wisped around in a moment of breeze and they both held their breaths while it bathed them. Curtis pushed the empty bowl away from himself and wiped a rag on his mouth and all around his forehead and neck.

“Why were you out there like a damn slug?” he said.

The girl didn’t open her eyes but cupped the new pouch of belly in her hands like an expectant mother with little more than a peanut in her womb.

“I was trying to find somewhere cool I could lay a while.”

Curtis lit a fresh joint on the candle, the light sparked the girl up like an angel and blasted the rest of the room into void.

“Hm,” he said, “You can crawl all the way to Lakeland and not find a lick of shade.”

“I don’t know. My daddy told me there’s still some places where it’s cool and maybe not so crowded.” she said.

“And where’s your daddy at now? Nowhere good, I bet.”

The girl shrugged and took the offered joint into her fingers. She tried to remember the last letter she’d got from her father and retrieved a memory from a year prior. She waited as the ocean crept closer and swallowed homes in front of hers, before it finally knocked on her own door and swept her inland. She’d stopped believing her father was alive, but not that there was somewhere else to go. If there wasn’t, they would be alone in the dark when the curtain fell on Earth, leaving only godless souls to crawl on their bellies like blind snakes in a barrel, one climbing on top of the other for a chance at dying last. The girl looked at Curtis’s smushed face and missed when there was only man to fear, and the ground boar more than death.

Curtis poured cold water in a large bucket outside and the girl had a good go at washing herself. Her skin was virginal and free of scars; flesh like the smooth hat of a mushroom. He watched steam rise from the pool at her feet. The girl paused scooping water on her body, opened her arms and face and mouth to the black sky in a silent scream. She gave up bathing when a hot wind kicked up and coated her in dust.

Curtis had craned his neck to the clouds in a similar way but let out a primal scream with his own girl’s body laid in his arms and her looking up, too. The gaze was absent and her neck was cut and leaning awkwardly curious. It was done, but she didn’t fly into grace with open arms. Her body laid useless and Curtis left her there knowing this was their punishment and nothing would lessen the sentence.

The girl fell asleep as heavy as a child with a fever, her garish frame barely enough to make a real lump in the bed. Curtis sat up in bed beside her. She looked like a corpse, her skin opaque and veins ribbed up and down her arms and legs. He watched her and grew angry at her carelessness. Dragging herself through the rotten desert for what – she only had to take one look around and it was obvious; this was it and no magic man saved a place for her, or any of them, in the shade. You could live in a dream or with the steady footing and firm disappointment of reality, and he preferred the latter.

The sky was lavender and a steady heat of steam rose from cracks like geysers. The girl was gone when Curtis woke up and he saw her naked body merge with the mirage of wavering air in the not so far distance. She’d taken his boots, but they both knew he had no use for them. She would hear him call her name if he knew it. If he screamed it loud enough and knew he wanted her to stay. Soon the distance was too much and the heat too strong to see her without straining. He went back inside to the unmade bed, still musty and covered in her dirt, stripped the sheets and dumped them in the sink, running water on them until there was a stream of murk. The girl could have her shade, and Curtis would have his. The comfort that even Earth was mortal, and as long as there were sinners you could crawl for eternity and never leave suffering.

Physics: A Short Story

The security guard hears the car long before he sees it. It’s low silhouette spits towards the parking lot and is the first to arrive, beating the sun that is barely risen above the hills, an arc of light in the blue-black sky visible then hidden again by fibrous rain clouds. The guard’s box is illuminated as the old two-tone Subaru pulls forward. He gets up and pokes his wide torso out of the warm box, the cold and wet coming in. His hands visor his eyes and motion for the car to go through. He squints to see the driver through the rain, the windshield wipers move too slow to clear the stream of water that casts a shimmer on the driver’s face, the wide set eyes constantly wavering. The woman smiles hard but the rain makes it look like she’s been crying, or maybe she has been crying. Her hand reaches from the car with a cardboard box and the officer takes it and smiles back, says his wife will literally kill him if he has another donut, that’s if his sugar doesn’t do it first, and waves the woman into the empty lot where she parks in a spot furthest from the entrance.

Adannaya turns the engine off and lays her head back, closes her eyes. The temporary black is the closest thing to sleep and the faint drumroll on the roof will do for a lullaby. The urge to cry rises again, from her stomach into her throat, but she takes another hit instead and fills the car with a smoke that makes the world look like it’s been covered with ground glass. She inhales until her lungs are at full capacity, holds even longer, then exhales smooth letting the smoke and everything else go. The car is warm and fragrant and smells like her home, seaside scented candles and peach flavored rolling papers in an overflowing ashtray. Helium-filled balloons bob about the car in a kaleidoscopic fog. She turns and retrieves a bouquet of sunburnt and bell shaped lilies, a stapled brown baggie of her mother’s prescriptions, the balloons nod their encouragements. The walk to the hospital is long and quiet save for slow footfalls across the graveled lot. Adannaya jumps once, but there’s not enough helium or hope to go anywhere.

Nature’s Call Sounds Like: A Short Story

“Did you know Buddhist monks aren’t allowed to touch women?” Jerry yelled even though his mouth was right next to Liz’s ear. His bony fingers wrapped around her waist, squeezing her rib cage from behind. Liz’s eyes narrowed, fastened to the road; partly to resist the urge to snuggle her cheek into Jerry’s beard, partly because she hoped if she stared long enough, the road they were supposed to be on would become obvious. Neither of them remembered to bring a map. Liz’s left hand was on her head holding a floppy straw hat in place. Her long lens camera swung wildly around her neck. The other hand worked to steady the motorcycle.

“What?” she yelled back.

“I said, Buddhist monks can’t touch women!” he yelled, louder this time. “Not even mothers and sisters. Unless they’re sick- then touching is okay. I wonder why.”

Jerry read an ‘All You Need to Know About Cambodia’ pamphlet on the plane and spouted random trivia whenever there was a lull in the conversation, which was more often than not. Liz thought for a while, taking in the bamboo forest around them. She made a right in front of a hut on wooden stilts, an old woman tended a pile of flaming trash behind it. Half dressed children laughed, chasing a small dog around the fire. Why were they up so early? The path was straight, painted sky opened up, shades of orange and pink. Some might have found this place romantic. Liz turned to see Jerry’s face up close, purring in the sexiest voice she could muster.

“Maybe it’s got something to do with desire. It comes naturally between a man and a woman.”

“What? Speak up!”

“DESIRE. IT’S NATURAL.” She could only sound so sexy yelling at the top of her lungs.

Jerry nodded slowly, wrinkled his brow. “Are you saying they’d go as far as incest? That kind of stuff is probably frowned upon in a monastery.”

“No, I’m not saying that.”

“I mean, I could see it. Not being near a woman for that long. If that were me I’d likely rape the first woman I saw.”

The group of children stopped chasing the dog and were screaming after the motorcycle. Was he coming onto her? Liz waited for his grip to tighten around her waist, to feel him hard and pressed up behind her. She waited a little longer, holding her breath to sense any subtle sign he might give. Nothing. Her heart sank. She checked her watch, thirty minutes until sunrise. Liz was losing faith that there would be enough time to reach Angkor Wat, buy tickets to get in, set up their tripods amongst a sea of other tourists, and take photographs for the article. The week would be full of photographing travel spots in Siem Reap, part of a budget travel segment Liz proposed but Jerry was ultimately chosen to produce, while she tagged along playing assistant. Leading up to the trip, Jerry wore mandala printed pants with slouchy crotches and leather bound slippers around the office, sporting a rust colored pre-tan – something Liz was unaware existed until then. It would dissolve any barriers between him and the local Cambodians, Jerry said, handing Liz a pair of her own slouchy crotch pants. Jerry was always a well of information, that’s what she loved about him.

Jerry told Liz to pull over, he recognized the area from a description in the pamphlet, the temple was not far. The sky was blue now, but the sun was not up. Heat stayed pent up in the trees, turning the air thick. They could see everything in this false daytime. Being outside between night and day, just the two of them surrounded by walls of tall bamboo and foreign smells was like a lucid dream. As if they were the only ones that knew this place existed, or they were the only people that existed within it. As if this space would only exist as long as they were there. They climbed off the motorcycle, as good a time as any to stretch their legs.

“Nature calls. And when it calls, I answer.”

Jerry walked towards the trees, already pulling down his slouchy crotch pants. His back was turned but he remained insight, resting his forehead on a tree, his legs in a wider than necessary stance. Liz decided to go a little deeper in the woods, but still, if Jerry turned around he would see her head and knees bobbing behind a small bush. When she pulled down the slouchy crotch pants Jerry had given her (yet had said they made her bottom half look a lot like a potato, when she asked what he thought of them) she rolled the excess crotch in her hands so it wouldn’t sit on the ground while she urinated.

Squatting out in nature with a breeze at her backside, skillfully hovering a few inches off the ground, Liz felt primal. Did nature always have this effect on people? She smiled, eyes closed, face towards the sky. Nature’s simplicity forced itself on them, skewing social norms. There it was perfectly fine for two colleagues of opposite genders to relieve themselves in full view of each other. Liz wondered what else nature could turn on it’s ear.  She watched a trail grow from between her legs and go downhill towards a small clearing where there was a pile of burned trash. An old pair of sneakers sat on top. Something shiny was in the waste, at the base of the mound. Liz got up, looking around her. Jerry was still insight, now on the bike reading his pamphlet – probably still thinking about incestuous monks. The sky was yellow now. Liz walked towards the clearing, unsettling dirt around her. She had never been somewhere so still yet all encompassing. The shiny thing lost it’s shine the closer Liz got to the trash pile. Finally she stood over it and saw it was only cheap aluminium,  wrapped around a bloated wrist.

Liz did not know how long she was staring at the body. The dead man was at her feet, his eyes wide open, the underside of his chin visible from inside his open mouth. The corpse was naked except for a wristwatch that was stuck at 5:38. Liz’s mouth opened, nothing came out. Useless, just like the dead man’s. She could not tell if she was making any noise. Her ears only gave way to the sound of her heart thumping against her chest. Her eyes stayed fixed to the corpse; partly because she was scared it would rear up and kill her, partly because she had never seen anything like it. Her fingers came down around her neck, reaching for her camera. She held the camera up to her eye and took in everything nature had to show her. The sky’s yellow was deepening. Jerry called from the motorcycle, waving his tripod in the air. The sun was rising.

I’m still working on my titles, but I’m not too bothered about this one at the moment. This is a very first draft of a story I’ll be handing in to my creative writing professor so if you have any constructive criticism, feedback, opinions, or questions of any sort, they will be appreciated!

Beach of Wasted Wishes

St. Marteen
A nude beach in St. Marteen, taken by me.

She held a third gin and tonic in her left hand and a freshly lit cigarette in the other. My kinda girl. Collapsing in the sand she pressed into me with wanton desire and turned my skin to film.
“How long until the tide comes in?” she said. Her words were honey and I a humble bumblebee.
“Maybe a few hours.”
Inhale. Exhale. Smoke.
“I want the waves to take me somewhere. Anywhere but here.” A wasted wish since the water was smooth as ever. Chugging without constraint liquor spilled down her chin. Silently I willed her to drink me up with the same eagerness she drank that shot.

Her poison came best in triple doses; alcohol, smoke and I were the only medicine she cared to take. When we kissed she would take my head in her tobacco stained hands and I always pulled back a mouth of must, a chemical cocktail of haze and tang. This I found the most irresistible.

Her breasts failed to fill the space in her bra and a mismatched thong peaked from folds of scarred belly, legs spread wide and hands pressed back in the sand, she let the ocean wash over her thighs, stealing kisses before drawing back into itself. It was then that I knew I would gurgle sea and sand to give her all the kisses she needed to feel healed, if only she would let me.