Autumn

I like the leaves in Autumn. Their warm colours are such a contrast to the cooling air, like a final ‘fuck you’ from the summer to the inevitable freeze. She liked the Autumn too. She liked how our boy would crunch and kick through fallen leaves as we walked along country roads trying to decide what we were to one another. Tied. Not just by him but by a mutual respect and understanding.

I did love her. She did love me. We were not in love.

We tried to be because we thought we ought to see what could be for him and his new perfect life in England.

But we couldn’t pretend and so we settled for friends. Happily. And we enjoyed the colours of Autumn as a family – even if not the traditional kind.

Now the burning orange leaves sing of yearning and grief. We lost her in the midst of the golden shedding of the trees. She was taken as winter approached and as the children started behaving as best they could in anticipation of Santa’s impending arrival armed with an arsenal of parent-funded bribery of the sort that is only acceptable once a year.

She loved to spoil him. We loved to spoil him. I still do and she still would if she could. I know and he does too.

This year he likes the colour of the leaves again. He sits at his window drawing pictures for her. If she can’t see it for herself then he’ll appreciate it for the both of them.

Waiting

She walked the river path day in, day out, purely in the empty hope that she might see him there. She never did though. And by now, a year – no, almost two years on, she didn’t even really believe she ever might anymore. It was more a compulsion or a fear that if he did happen, by some miracle, to walk back down by the river one day looking for her and she wasn’t there, that he might not realise she still looked for him at all. She didn’t want him to think like that, not after everything they had been through.

Her head would argue that waiting was pointless, before being stifled by her heart’s loud begging and pleading to wait just another day for him…and just another…. and just one more.

And she would sit there in that place where the daffodils once grew and pull the dandelions and weeds away from the foot of the small, rotting bench. Their heart was still carved into the bark of the old oak, clearly visible after all this time, though somewhat worn. Their initials still side by side, of course suffering the pain of the wear and tear, but still there – still together – still etched into the bark of a tree she was sure would never, ever, ever be gone from that place.

She would never be gone really, either. Not completely. Sometimes she left, but never for long and only for the essentials  – the food and drink she needed to continue breathing him and the sleep she needed to dream of him. She was there daily in body and always in mind, her soul stuck in the last place she kissed his mouth.

And an eternity might come to pass while she waits, but her heart won’t give up.

The Three Types of Cheats

There are 3 types of cheats. There are the cheats who know they’re cheats and, as such, they simply don’t even bother embarking upon any monogamous relationship. A selfless act, really, when you consider that even the most hardened cheat must feel lonely at night sometimes. Then there are the cheats who know they are cheats but do it anyway. They’re selfish. They want the best of both worlds – the freedom to sleep with who they want and when they want but a safe haven of a relationship to go home to when they stumble out of the bed of the latest one night stand.

The third type – well that’s where Tommy came in. The unintentional cheat. The cheat who cheats just once, but cheatsnonethe less. The cheat who makes a fatal error and it costs him everything – his wife, his children.

He sits in a bar sipping his eighth or maybe ninth whiskey, his eyes planted firmly on the pert ass of the brunette at the pool table. She’s bending over the table at his angle – deliberately. He knows it. She knows it. And tonight he’s going to take her home and fuck her. In the morning, she might try to hang around. She looks like the type. But he’ll get rid of her the way he always does. He’ll stuff a wad of cash into her hand and tell her,

“Darlin’ you were worth every penny.”

She’ll be so offended that she’ll storm out of the house and hope never to set eyes on him again. If she’s principled, she’ll leave the money behind. But most take it anyway, making enough of a scene about how offended they are first they they think it masks them pocketing the cash. Everyone has their price. For some, it’s just higher than others.

Whether she takes it or leaves it doesn’t bother Tommy. Cash isn’t what’s lacking in his life.

300 Words a Day – Minds

She already knows the contents of his mind, of his heart. She knows already what he’s thinking just by looking into his eyes. They connect on a level so deep that words are often surplus to requirements. Perhaps that is what tore them apart. The cracks that, for many, might have been invisible and overlooked, were picked up and analysed and over analysed to the point that every stitch was picked at and weakened.

But she still knows what he thinks. Whether they communicate, whether they see one another, whether they bump into each other on street or not, they still run into one another on that other level.

Minds don’t need to meet the way that hands do for someone to feel close. Minds can flirt with one another, tease one another and taunt one another all at the same time without the fingers even having caressed one another. The mind is far more powerful a tool than any man made instrument. Minds can fight without anyone else even knowing a battle is going on. They can love in silence and admire fearlessly without any uninvited people being remotely aware.

When two minds connect in that way, that indescribable way, traditional communication is forgotten. He can hate her with his thoughts, she can love him with her thoughts but they cannot be indifferent. The mind, once connected, can never hope to achieve true indifference.

Instead it waits and watches and stands back to observe the silent messages. It never sleeps though. It might rest for a while or lie even almost dormant for quite some time. But it may continue to taunt your sleep with images of something that never happened or with subconscious impressions of a dream your mind convinces you was one of yours once.

Powerful. Dangerous. Utterly fascinating.

300 a Day – Football Hero

“Got your shorts?”

“Yes, Dad.”

“T-Shirt?”

“Yes Dad.”

“Footie socks?”

“Yes! I’ve got everything. Stop!”

“I bet I know one thing you’re missing?”

“I’m not missing anything!”

“Shin pads!”

“Oh…”

Dads know best. Or at least they like to think they do and in my parenting experience, the times at which you are right are the times you need to make your point – if nothing else to compensate for the times you will inevitably get it wrong. Even parents are human.

“Here they are,” I smiled, packing his shin pads into his sports bag.

“Why do I need them, anyway”?

“So you don’t get sore legs if someone tackles you badly.”

“It’s football, Dad. Not fighting.”

“Well, it’s your first competitive game!! You never know.”

As a half Argentine half Englishman, I’m football (or soccer) crazy and was encouraged that my young son was taking to it well. He was fast, a rapid little winger with great ball control. His own worst, enemy, however, was his own perfectionist ways. His “final product,” as his coach called it, was some way short of the rest of his game play. His passes or shots were generally a little wide of the mark (to put it nicely) but he still made the team.

Standing on the sidelines rubbing my hands together under the thick clouds of Manchester was a proud moment, more for him than me, though, it seemed as he stood, six year old chest puffed out and football socks right up to his knees.

An effective winger he proved, a real playmaker responsible for much of the action in the midfield. Being the centre of the team play wasn’t enough for him though, as he went on to score his first goal. He hadn’t even managed one in training prior to the game and his pride was evident from the beaming grin on his face.

After changing, he came running towards me laughing and smiling.

“What a goal!” I said, picking him up.

“Never mind that,” he said. “I told you I wouldn’t need my shin pads!”

Flash Fiction – Options

Two names. Two options. One promised the security and familiarity she had become accustomed to, on an indefinite basis. Essentially, that name promised “forever.” It promised no jolting, no sudden pulls and pushes. It promised everything she felt was home.

The other name promised excitement and butterflies. But it was a change. Not just a change of company, but a change of lifestyle. Friends would change too. It might make her family happy, that change, but she risked everything she had grown to love as her life for what might only be a honeymoon period.

Name one was her girlfriend of nine years on and off. She came with the love and tenderness that could only be found in relationships that had lasted so long. It was a mature love, in bloom, one that was steady and sure. It would not fade. Years of history gave it a glow and the voice that owned the name would always speak softly. You could always hear love in a voice like that.

Name two was his. Again, a face she’d known for years but, largely, had only ever known as a friend – save for an experimental fling when they were both learning about themselves. But his name had suddenly developed a tingling it never had before, an excitement that it failed to bring the last time that they met up. It was sudden and new and came with no promises. It was unexpected, not homely. At least, not yet. But doesn’t there always come a time when someone wants to leave home? Travel? Not physically. But at least, the heart desired an adventure and while he came without promise, he did come with love. And he did come with honest intentions.

Two names. Two options.

But the head has no say when the heart takes charge.

Defining Evil – Flash Fiction

Another 300-a-day Flash Fiction.

Defining evil had been a dilemma for him since a young age. Was it murder? Was if theft? Was evil just another way to explain hatred?

He knew ‘evil’ was at work in the stories he saw on the news about people killing other people, about world leaders torturing their own people and he knew evil definitely had a part to play in the wars he’d studied in his history classes. But faced with the issue of identifying exactly what it was at the age of nine – well that was a whole other story.

He asked his Mother for advice and she assured him it was quite simply a lack of God. Satisfied with this answer, he based his short assignment on this, god the grade he wanted and thought little more of it again until many years later.

When his own daughter was stolen from the world, many years after he has last thought of his Mother or of a God and more years still since he had set foot into a church, he was faced again with that question.

“You have to face him and forgive him,” his wife pleaded. “Face and forgive, Eric. It’s the only way we can move on.”

As he sat opposite the face of evil, separated only by a glass pane, he could muster only one syllable.

“Why?”

The face said nothing. It just stared emptily downwards, not even as though trying to search for answers. There was a looming silence and Eric decided, after a moment or two, that he was wasting his time. Before he could stand up though, the face spoke.

“I’ve asked God for forgiveness.  It’s probably easier for God to forgive though, than for you. I am sorry.”

“I won’t ever forgive you. I hope you rot in hell.”

Eric stood and turned to leave.

“Then you, sir, will live as empty as life as I.”

He ignored the jibe and left.

For the first time in many years, on his way home, he stopped off at the cemetery. He stood by his Mother’s headstone and spoke softly.

“Love isn’t a lack of, God, Mum. It’s a lack of love. And I’m sorry.”

Broken – Day 5 of the 300 a Day

I’ve always had a fascination with ruins. Castles, fortresses, medieval hamlets where only the barest of bones are left. These supposedly broken structures are beautiful. Yet we naturally associate ‘broken’ with negativity or something that’s wrong, flawed or defunct.

Ruins are not flawed. They’re perfect imperfection, stunning, beautiful and completely open and vulnerable. They reek of history, of stories we were not around to witness ourselves, stories that might once have been told by storytellers now long departed from this world. They hide nothing. What once they sheltered has also long since departed and now they’re free of the attacks they once endured to protect those within.

Ruins are, to me, something like broken hearts. They’ve crumbled and they have fallen away but in their exposed and vulnerable state, they reveal something so incredibly and inexplicably simple and stunning that we have to look. We have to peek inside because it’s only in this broken state that we can see the wound inflicted by previous battles. Ruins, just like broken hearts, can no longer hide anything. They can no longer hide what was within, no longer hide wounds and are subject to observation by anyone who cares to look. And many do. There is a natural human fascination with that which is broken.

Broken is beautiful. Broken is exposed. Broken is human and flawed just like everything should be. Broken is not quite perfect but does not try to be and does not care that it isn’t. Broken lays all its cards on the table for you to see. It doesn’t want you to fix it. It just wants you to see – to look, to observe, to learn from. Broken is a lesson, a beautiful lesson.

From broken hearts, to broken buildings, to broken dreams, the flawed things in our lives are the things that eventually make us stronger.

The Perfect Place

Day 4 of the 300 a day challenge…. I’m getting into a habit, generally, of doing these early in the morning when I seem to be thinking the freshest!

He fell deeper into confusion than ever he had been, permitting his life to escape from any reality and drip slowly into a fantasy he shaped into the thing he thought he wanted. She was his fantasy and he was hers. They engaged one another in talks and thoughts of the maybes, the one days, the what ifs and the if onlys. They lived a perfect pixel life in wooden cabins in snow filled forests, in penthouse apartments in the sky, in beach homes, on their own private island… They lived anywhere they wanted and the world was their own. Each the master of their own success and engineering joint successes that might be the envy of others… were others not too busy engineering their own fantasies.

The wake up was a disjointing jolt from the other side – the real side, as one he loved slipped away into an untimely non-existence.

Death does funny things. One effect – an almost overnight change in his outlook. He no longer desired perfect fantasy homes, what ifs and one days with a perfect stranger and slipped solidly back into a reality that was, without doubt, a little darker than he’d like, but was a place he simply had to be. He had real responsibilities to a real little boy. And though that little boy and he did not live in penthouses in the sky and they didn’t live on their own private island… their joint existence and battle through the storm, was more beautiful than anything he’d experienced in the perfect place.

The withdrawal was not from the perfect place. It was not from the perfect escapism and immersion in a platform he’d come to love. The withdrawal was from a life he thought was really his, but one, it emerged, didn’t even really exist. The jolt turned his perfect pixel place from his ‘life,’ into his ‘hobby’ and restored balance.

300 a day – Day 3

Day 3…. slightly later today but here nonetheless. Fancy joining in on the 300 a day challenge?! Email me: josue[@]pixelscoop.net

I’m angry at God for not existing. I should rephrase. I’m angry at myself for being angry at the fact that I seem entirely incapable of allowing myself to believe for a millisecond that God might exist somewhere. Because if I believed it, then I’d be more convincing when I was telling him. I would be more convincing when I am telling him that she’s in Heaven with God. I would be entirely more believable when I tell him that if he closes his eyes and concentrates really hard that he can still speak to her even though she can’t speak back like she used to.

I mean, he believes me. He does. But one day he won’t. One day he will be able to look into my eyes and tell that I don’t believe what I am saying to him. And then what will he think? Will he think I’m the misguided fool for not believing? Or will he follow me into a mindset that all who have passed are just gone and when it’s done, it’s done? Cos life isn’t a video game, is it? You don’t fall down, cue the cheesy music and then spring back to life again. It’s not about second chances, second lives, second opportunities to say the things you didn’t say the first time round.

And if God did exist and if I believed, for a moment, that when my time’s up I’d just move along into the next room and I’d see her again, I wouldn’t have to kick myself every single day of my life for the short sentences I just could not say aloud when I had the chance.

“Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the most beautiful and precious gift that anyone has ever given me. I forgive you its late arrival.”

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