May 2023 Drabble Challenge Winner
Thank you to all who entered, I enjoyed reading some very good super-short stories!
My overall winner is Mariah, with "The Familiar." In the end, I went with the story that spoke to the shadowy corners of my ghost-story-lovin' heart.
Here's the link: https://theprose.com/post/732781/the-familiar
A few others came damn close, and I think they're worth a read.
A damned close second place for the noir by ChrisSadhill: https://theprose.com/post/732670/she-left-him-in-chicago
MeeJong with an entry that makes me wish we'd met many moons ago: https://theprose.com/post/732963/a-drabble
dctezcan with a cautionary tale of solo travel: https://theprose.com/post/733229/alternate-reality
And ErJo1122 with a touching tale: https://theprose.com/post/735330/angels-in-the-architecture
Her hands were never cold.
It didn't matter the time of year, or what we were doing, or where we were.
I've long heard the term "Harlow Gold." I didn't know what it meant until Google gave me the answer, but it fit perfectly, once I saw it. It's basically a white-blonde dye job. She didn't dye; she was simply the palest blonde I ever did see.
She wore her hair in a simple ponytail, mostly. Sometimes she'd try to tease it into a shape, with curls and whirls and whatnot, but mostly, it ended up held back with a simple elastic band.
I was always careful not to let her see me laugh on those days. I think that likely kept me from being stabbed.
She used to tease me, and sometimes, she knew how to make me blush. I didn't mind, though. In the end, I knew she'd let me take her home.
They hand me a folded blue piece of 8.5 x 11 when I walk in the door. It reminds me of the church bulletins from when I was a kid. I hate places like this little Primitive Baptist snuggled up between Savannah and nothing at all.
I always find it odd when they call it a Homecoming. If this is God's house like they say, then it was never really hers. It couldn't be, because she wasn't a hypocrite. Precocious, ferocious, but not pretentious or dishonest.
I recognize guys from our shared youth. Some of them knowingly nod at me. We all loved her, in our way and in our time. We each speak to the husband; she kept no secrets, and he thanks us for coming, even if he doesn't mean it.
I admit being a little uneasy. She was always good at that, and I suppose this is her last joke at my expense. I sit, staring at the back of the man she married while a stranger leads us all in prayer.
I smile and shed a tear. Her hands were never cold in the back of that old Monaco, but now it's all they'll ever be.
Empty White House
She moves with gentle breath
into smooth waves of sound,
languid and dreaming of
The mirrors mimic her face as
she collapses within.
Words form, then vanish into liquid and vinyl.
She watches the moment before she slips away.
Blanketed by space, alone.
Her spirit struggling to push against the crushed blue velvet fabric of time.
She bursts suddenly into helium and carbon pieces. scattering instantaneously across the universe. She watches without firmament the eruptions and fractures of a brilliant moon, intoxicated instantly by weightlessness and snow.
One heartbeat and the heat returns to her body.
As she travels back through tunnels that hold the shadows and memories of her life, a gasp.
Like the first breath of a child. Every moment of light creates a distance and forgetting
until nothing is left.
Nothing but white walls in a large empty house.
Angels In The Architecture
I’m stunned, standing in silence. My usefulness a non-entity in this room of pain, blood, birth, and beginnings. It’s beautiful, but terrifying. I hold her hand, tell her it’s alright, tell her that I love her, and that it’ll be over soon. Empty promises escaping my mouth like cold-calculating prisoners. I don’t know what’s happening. There are doctors whispering amongst each other, their faces unreadable. But although she’s sweating, swearing, and writhe with pain, she’s beautiful. Her body a cathedral and from it a blessing. I hold my girl and hear Paul Simon singing he sees angels in the architecture.
Scar of prometheus
It was hidden there,
melting in soft ice.
His tongue, yellow,
and cowering behind
The fog began to lift
from the mystery as
I crushed a walnut
with the palm of my hand
on the kitchen table.
He looked at me,
and I felt a tug pull from
my swollen womb.
All the proportions
of the room began to shift into
the scars of Prometheus.
His chin bent slightly
to the horizon, and
his eyes fixed neon.
A volcano rumbled
in the distance.
"Maybe we should..."
There it was,
the shadow of his former
self became a streak
of red that reflected in
His smile morphed
into a pitiful grin, and
his words spat cyanide.
"The Nevada desert was so cold
in the winter."
I pinched the walnut shell between my fingers.
"That's fine, you should go."
My face contorted as the door closed, and our unborn child began to bleed.
In my memory, while sightseeing, I stopped in a bar for lunch where I made friends with the workers. A friend of theirs invited me to his restaurant for dinner to try some typical Valencian food. I accepted, got the address and left.
In my memory, the meal was delicious. Afterwards, he escorted me– to keep me safe on the night streets.
In reality, I don’t remember the meal and I woke up in an alley, clothes ripped, bloody, bruised.
In reality, I still have a scar where he carved his initials, though I have no memory of his name.
She loved the feeling of walking away. Everyone exited the train, masses herd to the left, following the siren sound of success. She turned right. To her street. To her home. She still works. But it doesn’t look like it used to. No pantyhose and heels. No bumping elbows or bruised egos that punch harder than a heavyweight boxer. She was so happy about this new world, answering to herself on her own timeline, she never noticed the shadow figure in her periphery. He masked the malice of his intent. Method over mania, he repeated to himself. Method over mania.
The bed in the guest room was comfortable, but wasn’t the same as home. Lying on her back, she willed herself to sleep.
A cat jumped onto the bed near her feet.
Oh, she thought, hello bedmate...
She felt the cat walk over her legs, felt its feline weight as it draped its body over her abdomen.
She soon drifted off to sleep hoping it wouldn’t begin that kneading thing cats sometimes do and wake her.
In the morning, she poured herself coffee and commented, “I didn’t know you had a cat.”
Her host’s face grew pale, “I don’t.”