Dr. Heller never mentioned his problem, but everyone at the clinic knew about it. We were shocked by how normal he acted afterwards. He didn’t even take a sick leave or anything. A couple of days after his incident, Judy decides to bring in a vase of flowers for his office, some ugly artificial thing with a heavy cluster of lilies and roses and ferns. Dr. Heller thanks her and sticks his face in them and we all laugh because we think he's fucking with us. Turns out, he thought they were real.
Judy later discovers him in his office and we can hear her screams throughout the building.
The clinic is in a state of excitement, the staff milling around. Everyone keeps saying that he was fine all morning. We keep saying, how could this have happened. We keep talking about what we could have looked for, the warning signs. We repeat how much we miss him. A get-well card circulates around the clinic and everyone signs it from their hierarchical order of importance—the surgeons, anesthesiologists, RNs, the receptionists, even the fat, ugly custodian who only creeps in after everyone leaves for the day.
We draw lots to elect a person to go visit him. Our clinic’s been a family for more than ten years and is heavily involved in each other’s lives. We take care of our own. (Only the receptionists get recycled out every so often for newer, younger candidates. We take pride in appearances here.) Also, everyone is dying for more news about the late and great doctor.
No one volunteers to go, so we draw lots. I get chosen. They all clap my back and say, sucks to suck.
He is a beautiful man. His forehead is taut, his eyes etch upwards at the corners. The sides of his nose are perfectly symmetrical lines. With a ruler, you can measure the alignment of his eyes to his ears. Even now, hunched forward with his shoulders drawn up so he looks like a turtle receding into a shell, his flesh is smooth and hard like plastic. He adjusts his position over the edge of the bench as if uncomfortable, and his hands are spread claws digging into the wood.
Smile Dr. Heller, I say and lean closer to him. I take a picture of us on my phone, me with a huge smile and Dr. Heller looking lost.
The sun is out, but it’s cold. The sunshine deceives us. We sit on a bench on the lawn. His personal caregiver is in a chair a few yards away from us and glances at us over the cover of her book.
He is wealthy enough to have escaped the indignity of sanitariums, where they throw together the psychotic and the mentally ill indiscriminately. He has that small mercy for him. His wife is filing for divorce now, I hear, and will soon have sole custody of the kids and house, a substantial fortune built upon the splicing and reconstruction of flesh. Maybe this is his punishment for tampering with natures works, sullied as they are. Maybe this is punishment for playing God.
I take his face with my hands and kiss him. I feel his perfectly sculpted lips with my tongue.
It’s ok, Dr. Heller.
You’ll get over this.
Everyone at the clinic misses you.
Remember Mrs. Lebowitz? She threw a fit when we told her you went on vacation. She says no other doctor in the city does skin as good as you.
It’s dark when I leave. The neighborhood is unsettling in its quiet, undisturbed by traffic or people. I miss the dirty mess and the noise of the city. The stars are like dim, sad echoes of the city lights.
But, if I crane my head, I can see the city lights glow like a distant fire.
What’s Behind the Door
The stranger knocked upon the door,
A creaking, wooden throb,
And someone on the other side
Unlatched and turned the knob.
Uncertainty, a soft, "Hello,"
And, "May I use your phone?"
The person on the other side
Appeared to be alone.
An observation taken in,
No pictures on the wall.
He pointed somewhere down the way-
"Go on and make a call."
The thunder boomed; the stranger stalled
As wires were cut instead.
The gentleman began to sense
A subtle hint of dread.
A conversation thus ensued-
"So what has brought you out?
The rain has flooded everything,
And wiped away the drought.
Say, did you walk, or did you drive?
Why don't I take your coat?"
The stranger slowly moved his arms,
A sentimental gloat.
The water from the pouring skies
Enveloped cloth and shoe.
"Say, would you like a place to sleep?
I'll leave it up to you."
The person on the other side
Discarded his mistrust.
The stranger said his tire was flat,
And shed the muddy crust.
"The phone won't work," he also said.
"It could just be the storm.
Perhaps I will stay here tonight,
To keep me safe and warm."
The patron of the house agreed.
He hadn't seen the wire.
The chilly dampness prompted him
To quickly build a fire.
"You have a name? They call me Ed.
My wife was Verna Dean.
She passed away five years ago
And left me here as seen.
I guess it's really not so bad.
We never had a child.
I loved that Verna awful much,"
He said and sadly smiled.
"No property to divvy up.
The bank will get it all.
Say, do you want to try again
To go and make that call?"
The stranger grinned and left the flame
As to the phone he strode.
Within his pocket, knives and twine
In hiding seemed to goad.
A plan was formed- he'd kill the man;
Eviscerate him whole.
The twine would keep him firmly held;
The knife would steal his soul.
A lusty surge erupted hence;
A wicked bit of sin.
The stranger hadn't noticed yet
That someone else came in.
About the time a shadow fell,
He spun to meet a pan.
The room around him faded out
As eyes looked on a man.
A day or two it seemed had passed,
And when he woke all tied,
The stranger gazed upon old Ed
Who simply said, "You lied."
Reversing thoughts, the moment fled
And Ed said in a lean,
"No worries, stranger. None at all.
Hey, look, here's Verna Dean!"
He looked upon a wraith in rage;
It seemed his little lie
Combusted in a burning fit-
He didn't want to die.
So many victims in his life,
Some fifty bodies strewn.
And now he was the victim; now
The pain to him was known.
The stranger fought against the twine,
And noticed by his bed
The knife once in his pocket left
A trail of something red.
A bowl filled full of organs sat
As Verna poured some salt.
She exited with all of them.
"You know, this is your fault.
We demons wait for just the day
The guilty take the bait
And play with matches one last time-
I simply cannot wait
To taste the death within your flesh;
The venom in your gut.
So now you know the way they felt-
Hey, you've got quite a cut!"
The person on the other side
Removed his human skin-
Before his wife came back for more,
He offered with a grin:
"Say, stranger, is there anything
You'd like to say at all?"
I looked at all the blood and said,
"I'd like to make that call ... "
Half of Me is Missing (excerpt)
“Jasmine was such a beautiful baby with her ivory complexion, pretty rosebud mouth, rosy cheeks and stunning green eyes. Her hair was so black and lustrous with soft curls. I couldn’t believe that she was our child!” Ann Stewart’s body seemed to elongate as she sat up straighter in her chair. Obviously, she had once been proud and thrilled by her daughter.
“I noticed that she didn't really seem to bond with me, although I held her and rocked her and tried to do everything I thought I should do to nurture her. This was our first child so I thought that her reaction to us might be normal for a young baby. She never seemed to cry or smile or show any emotion. I became upset, fearing that she didn't like me, but I was so overjoyed at having a kid after so many years of trying that I overlooked her responses. My friends and relatives all cooed at her in admiration of her beauty but she didn’t seem to care. Her pediatrician told me not to worry since she appeared perfectly normal. He advised us both to spend a lot of time with her, holding and touching her. I wondered why she did not smile like other babies did. I began to wonder if it was my fault that she was not developing as I thought she should. Because she was my first child, I had little experience in child development and began to doubt my abilities. I could tell that she was intelligent as she explored her immediate area and watched those around her. She talked very early but her words were not really directed toward anyone. She seemed to be carrying on conversations with herself or with some unseen person. The only time she seemed somewhat happy is when she looked into the mirror on one of her crib toys and babbled at her reflection as if it were actually her own self instead of a reflection.”
I noticed that tears were coursing down Ann’s cheeks as she described her child. I could see that she loved her but was perplexed since she was unable to reach her. She appeared to have almost given up on Jasmine and was now beginning to direct her attention toward her other children who did interact with her.
I turned toward George Stewart and asked him, “How do you feel about your daughter? Do you have anything to add to what your wife has advised? Do you agree with her observations?”
“My wife and I are simple people,” responded George. “We own and operate a mom and pop grocery store here in the outskirts of Portland. I always thought that my daughter, Jasmine, would join us in our business after high school. If it’s good enough for me, it should be good enough for her! But, oh no, she wants no part of our business. She thinks she’s too good to do this type of work and refuses to even discuss it. I admit that she was an excellent student in high school, right at the top of her class. She graduated early when she had just turned 17. I thought she had the brains and ambition to eventually take over as manager of my store.” George pulled strands of hair nervously up from the top of his head as he vented his frustration. His face turned red in frustration as he showed his disappointment.
“I understand how you feel,” I sympathized with George. “But, tell me how Jasmine was as a child to your best recollection.”
“She was such a beautiful baby and I was so proud of her. However, she never seemed to care much about me. I tried to play with her and get her to laugh but I never felt she was on my wave length. My wife and I took her into our shop and put her in a small playpen behind the cash register. Every customer that came in remarked on her loveliness, wanting to hold her and interact with her. We actually did allow some of our long term customers to pick her up to see if she would be stimulated by someone else. We always felt guilty that she did not seem to like us. But she never responded to all the attention she received. I thought maybe she was just shy and would develop later but she never did. When she began to talk early, she would just ask for things that she wanted. She never seemed to give us any reaction no matter how hard we tried. I just hoped that she would become more loving when she became older.” When Jasmine was almost three, we finally were able to have another child, a wonderful little boy we called George, Jr. He was the polar opposite of Jasmine and loved us with all his heart. He often tried to catch Jasmine’s attention as he smiled and cooed, but she couldn’t care less. Jasmine was always looking around, searching for the other half of her body. She insisted, even then, that part of her was missing. I could not understand it! Later, we had two more children whom we adored. Jasmine might have felt left out but she never seemed to resent the lack of attention because of our other children who needed and appreciated our encouragement.”
“Is there anything else that you feel is significant?” I asked George.
“Well,” he reluctantly replied, “I noticed that she seemed to be flirtatious with the younger boys and I felt she was too seductive. My wife said that I was crazy because such a young child would not be doing this. She said that all little children played ‘doctor’ and that it was a normal part of growing up. But one night, both of us went into George’s bedroom to kiss him goodnight, as was our ritual with all the children. We were both absolutely horrified to find Jasmine, naked, rubbing up to little George. We did discuss this with their pediatrician who advised us that we shouldn’t put too much significance on this act because it would just draw attention to something that was probably a temporary thing. He told us to explain to Jasmine that we knew that she was a good little girl but we did not allow this experimentation in our family. George was only three at the time and too young to understand. And, Dr. Engel, can you guess what Jasmine said to me when I reasoned with her?”
“What did she say,” I asked with curiosity as I was taking my notes.
“She said, ’It wasn’t me that did it. It was my other part that I can’t find. If I
can find her, I will tell her not to do it anymore!’ ” Tears filled George’s eyes as
he related this to me.
Her eyes, like embers blazing hot,
The prison of my married rot;
She came to set me free.
An ocean barred and held us bound,
Though miles, they mattered not.
The bonnie lass my heart had found
Secured a sacred spot.
We met in poesy swapping words;
Her husband was a star.
And I was in my cage as birds
Unfit to fly afar.
For many years, we both had stayed
In halls and walls; routine.
Amended edges, tattered; frayed-
A chopping guillotine.
However, life has hidden keys
And she was such a gift.
An open door, a welcome breeze
To give each wing a lift.
Permission bled to passion's plan
And over time, we fell.
The world of woman and of man
Has never heard the tale.
No Romeo and Juliet;
No cross of lover's debt-
My loving never sowed regret;
No worry or no fret.
The secret words of poetry
Exchanged became the way
We shared each other knowingly;
We kissed, caressed by day.
And though our lips would never touch,
The way we pleased the soul
Ensured my love for her as such-
We made each other whole.
Rekindled feelings blooming grand
In written form, she took my hand
And helped me learn to cope.
Confessions never claimed the right-
Ability in rhyme.
Decisions plagued my heart at night-
I longed for us a time
To share the space of wedded bliss.
However, on the screen
Composed of all we had in this-
The way our love was seen.
So many letters we exchanged;
So many wonders sought.
And though at odds we were estranged,
Together love was wrought.
Compelled by something old as earth,
We clamored to the sun.
Repelled by gravity in worth,
To never be undone-
A husband and a wife to those
Who never read the truth.
But she and I, we gladly chose
The sanguine labeled proof-
And as forever she will be
My love that never ends-
What you call infidelity
I choose to call amends ...
I never loved him
I loved how he saw me
The version of me
In his hopeful eyes
I could never be sure if he really saw me
I could never be sure if I let him
I was afraid he was wrong about me
I was afraid he was right
I never wanted him to know
I never wanted to know myself
I would never test the theory
I would never challenge the fairytale
So I kept myself away
I let who he thought I was
Become who I would always be
In his eyes
What is love? i often used to think. In silence and darkness,when you could clearly listen to your body and soul.You hear your every heart beat and sometimes enjoy the peacefulness and beat too.It is the time, when your soul could scream at you and show what you really are.If you are brave enough, to listen the truth.
Every time, i almost get the same answer. If something bounds you or puts you in a cage like a singing bird. It's not LOVE for sure. May be some other kind of attachment or relation you could say, but not LOVE.
Now comes the Funny part about the "ORTHODOX LOVE". It is kind of love, which could even kill you, like slow poisoning. The interesting part, THE ORTHODOX LOVER and THE TRUE LOVER will not even know, till death. When the poor true lover would die out of suffocation and frustration.There would be a dramatic scene of loss and sorrow, by the orthodox lover and every one would say "poor fellow".
There are some very interesting characteristics about the ORTHODOX LOVERS. Like amphibians and reptiles have certain characteristics. They think, binding and suffocating a person, is LOVE. Only the true lover should compromise, so the relation could last for ever. They are BIG FAT LIARS and they consider it to be okay, but the true lover has to be truthful as well. They would not change, but RIP THE SOUL of the true lover.When the POOR TRUE LOVER goes into deep DEPRESSION. They tend to be very nice and loving by saying " HONEY, DEAR, YOU NEED A PSYCHIATRIST."
They sometimes suffocate you like ANACONDA and some blinds you like BLACK MAMBA. Some make their lovers suffocate, by caging them according to their love rules.You could call them HUNTER ORTHODOX LOVERS. There are so many varieties.You must have met some of them. After all this, orthodox lover would say in the end " I LOVE YOU SO MUCH". Funny and thrilling.
So, dear friends be ware of the ORTHODOX LOVER. "LOVE MAKES YOU A FREE MAN AND EMPOWERS YOU". Do not sell your freedom at LURING TALES OF THE ORTHODOX LOVE. Wait for the RIGHT TIME.
Prose Challenge of the Week #44
Good morning, Prosers,
It’s week forty-four of the Prose Challenge of the Week! Last week saw you all writing about ghoulish activities. We had shed-loads of superb entries to read, so thank you everyone.
Before we find out which one of you takes the $100 prize, let’s take a look at this week’s prompt:
Prose Challenge of the Week #44: You’ve been baited by the person you’ve been stalking. Held at gunpoint, you can’t leave, ever. Write about it. The winner will be chosen based on a number of criteria, this includes: fire, form, and creative edge. Number of reads, bookmarks, and shares will also be taken into consideration. The winner will receive $100. When sharing to Twitter, please use the hashtag #ProseChallenge
Get writing, now.
Back to the winner of week forty-three. We have read all of your entries and thoroughly enjoyed every single one. There can only be one winner, however, and after much deliberation that winner is, @ALifeWitArt with her piece “Choking on the Afterbirth.” Congratulations to you, we will be in touch shortly to arrange transfer of your winnings!
That’s all for this week, here’s to a week filled with all things Prose!
Until next time, Prosers,