Inspiration 5 Winners
It was a pretty decent run this time, thanks to the many genius writers who took part in it. I had a lot of trouble deciding on a clear winner for the origination entries, but the responses were so few this time around, I created one myself.
I had been looking forward to seeing how people would finish "forever in a..." and it was cool seeing where it went from there. Likewise, "I think of scales" could be interpreted in many ways, and we saw scales for measuring weights and souls and personal worth; animals' scales; and musical scales. Thank you all for the diversity of thought! It was a real honor to read from this batch of raw talent.
In the end, I opted to split the origination and response winners--four almost complete pizzas heading out. The winners were @ChrisSadhill (again), with Bushwhacked, and @thePearl with The Scale on the origination side. The response side winners are @Mavia (again), with The Alternate Truth (Part 2)-- on the flip side of @DanPhantom123 's The Alternate Truth, which was a formidable late entry; and @REIlyn with Scale this...
I would be remiss if I did not give mention to @Beccawaits and @Poetia_nocta, whose entries I found exquisite as well. If you haven't already, please spend some time perusing these writers' profiles. You will not be disappointed.
Thanks again for participating!
Apples and Oranges
the everlasting vast skies dyed with hues of the loveliest shades of red and orange, had never seemed so contrastingly different nonetheless seductively unattainable. a warm yet comforting breeze caressed my cheek eagerly persuading me to delve deep into a wishful pleasure for the very last time. slowly my gaze drifted away from bewitching horizons to the person standing within the omniscient lake. a mirthful sigh escaped my lips. it was him. those eyes, that gaze, captivating all those laying their eyes upon him. my ideals, my values, my pride crumbled under that very smile. he's standing there waiting, arms outstretched, flushed in a colour of a blossoming rose which painted his cheeks, eyes brightly lighting up and curving with joy. that expression, that very same expression, the one i've longed for, the one which i wished had only been shown to me. ever since i've seen him talk to her, i had felt an unknown heavy feeling, it was so very suffocating, my throat had tightened, my eyes had stung and my palm was bloodied as my nails dug deep to understand this foreign sensation. his gaze shifted in my direction, eyes staring, not even looking away for a second, as if everything in this very moment would disappear.
“my love,” he called out like a siren to a sailor.
i felt the cold water as it flung onto my body. a faint sound of water ripples crashing against bare skin followed by a ring of an unrestrained angelic laughter which filled the atmosphere.
a bitter smile fell upon my lips. i didn't even need to look behind me for i knew who was running. it was her. he only had eyes for one girl and that was her. to him she was the most precious thing on earth. to him she was meant to be worshipped and praised like the gods, for she, in his eyes, amounted and deserved every single thing in this world and more. for her, he’d rather burn the whole world just to see her smile. for her, he’d rather be imprisoned and face a life time of torture than to witness a tear slip from those crystal eyes. for her, he would do absolutely everything and anything.
Oh how i wished I was her. But we were too different just like apples and oranges.
remember to forget
in the house i grew up in (the sixth one, anyway) there were endless bookshelves filled with all sorts of things: Jane Austen, the Odyssey, and many classics like that, but also the biographies of local authors and musicians, self-bound books of college literary magazines, historical works about leaders of movements, of civil rights and of whistleblowers and dissonants. and tucked in every available crevice were childrens books of reflecting all the same things - 'On the Day You Were Born', 'The Snowy Day', 'Tango Makes Three'. My world was split so distinctly; time spent in this book lovers' paradise where nothing was off limits and all we had to do was ask was a stark contrast to the environment where all things, right down to the food we ate & shoes we wore each day, had to be approved of.
next to the overflowing shelf by the floor, leaning in the gap between the wood and the clay of an overflowing plant that lives in my mind to this day, there was a photo album. i used to love flipping through it - cream and lace, satin on the cover, with a thick binding and yellowed pages and a blue ink mark on the bottom left corner of the inside cover. i sat for hours, the ones i wasn't reading, running my fingers over the texture and flipping through the plastic-film covered photos. some, i was told, were from college - Mexico City, 1989. that girl just there - yes, her - she was the only one who didn't get sick on that first day from the adjustment to the water, new microbes in a new environment. they explored and climbed and met people and ate and laughed, and my mother returned with a beautiful Aztec calendar that never got hung but nonetheless lived on top of that same bookshelf, staring out at us as the years went by.
these pictures were fine, enjoyable - but what I really loved was the photos of the wedding. i'll never know why she still had them. maybe my fascination was morbid, maybe it was born of plain curiosity. it wasn't until i was 14 that it clicked for me that the wedding in the photos was hers. the bride - that was her. because it wasn't, really. she never talked about the wedding except to say that it happened on an old plantation, as so frequently does in the South, and that my father chose her dress. in other words, it was cursed from the very start.
for my mother, that's a big deal - not to talk about something. her adhd meant lots of things growing up. it meant i got left places, it meant i waited after school and practice and parties for hours at a time, and i waited in cars for hours-long searches to find keys and glasses and credit cards and a driver's license that never seemed to be where she'd left them. but mostly, it meant that she shared a lot - she could talk for hours, and frequently does. her wedding to my father is one thing she never discusses. i wonder if it's because, like me, she has a hard time recognizing the woman in those photos. they're both beautiful, but there are significant differences. that woman is happy, not just in laughing through the pain. her eyes smile. the two kids holding her hands, don't look like a burden. but most importantly, that woman has never been hit. she has never been punched around or controlled or degraded or abused. she has never put herself between her child and a man, the same child that existed in those photos, even if invisible still.
i wish i had gotten to know that woman. i wished it back then, flipping through that album, too. i'd take deep breaths as though it might be possible to inhale memories of happiness i never got to see. but always, it failed. i was mad, once, that she hadn't left earlier. she told me she almost did, when I was one, before the last three siblings. my father smashed a glass picture frame above my head. she hid money in a separate bank account, she almost put a down payment on a little brick house on the corner of a street, far enough away where he might not find her, find us. i asked her why she didn't. she told me that their couples counselor convinced her not to leave. i nodded silently. that night, i climbed out the basement window, the one from my bedroom connected to the well, and i ran to the trees, and i screamed. it was eleven o'clock and curfew was at twelve, and a cop drove past. years of experience stopping the tears. training your body to be okay and show no signs of weakness at the drop of a hat comes in handy.
i smiled waved and pointed at the house when he asked where home was. he'd seen me around the neighborhood before and let me walk back without knocking on the door. or maybe, i always told myself, he remembered any one of the calls made there. maybe it'd been him when my sibling knocked my mom (and her tooth) out cold with a tupperware at 6 years old, when one of them tried to climb out the attic window, when another tried to jump out of a moving car on the highway, when two of us ran away and hid for hours, when a fist met a head that was punched through the wall, when the school sent an officer to arrest my mom at my birthday party for bringing us late to school one too many times - when, when, when. maybe he just didn't want to deal with it. it preserved my role as "the good kid," anyway.
when i got back i did what i've always done - i pretended that none of it was real, just like i'll do when i finish this writing. and i wish i could say that i went to sleep and dreamt of a wedding that my parents existed in but the reality is that i can't tell you. i've forgotten most of the memories, now, and in my darkest moments i wish as hard as i can that i could forget more. but that photo album is still there. i can't visit that place - my now-adult siblings echo the actions of a father who did not know what love was. i cannot stand to see it. but every time i call my mom, i wonder if she ever opens the pages, just like i did, and wishes for her life to be as innocent and carefree as it once used to be.
Silver Springs and Xanax Dreams.
He said, "Who cares if one light goes out...in a sky full of stars." And I leaned into you. A distant voice on a distant line. My voice cracked and the tears fell and your slow southern drawl soothed my ears.
Through the Miles and the oceans and the white line dreams. I toppled down. Something like a game. Dominos click clacking as they fall.
"I hear the destruction in your voice," you say and I take a draw and shake it off. The Mollys wearing thin and my minds wearing thinner. Just an aching bottle and a xanny to my name.
I hear your words like a muffled sound, crackling like an old ass vinyl in my ear.
You called my name and they called you out. Whipped and abused and used.
"We're both the same," I think and then I shake it off. Crush it up, push it down...our tracked mark scars show a different world, a different us.
Soft Gibson strums melt me down. Burnt up spoons and burnt out dreams. Some black hole destruction of the soul. You say something low and I wanna ask. Tonight I'm too crossfaded to care. Something about love or gratitude...its all just fading words in self-destructing mind.
Aching brain, half-assed thoughts...I try to focus. I try to focus on your words and your love and your wisdom. (So wise beyond your years.) And I wonder how you learned so young, so fast and I'm still here... fighting against everything you know, everything you love, everything you are.
I mumble something about being worthless and I shut out your response. I can't hear the good, I can't hear your words. Just once, I wish I could see me the way you see me. You make me so very fearless and strong. An idea, a carefully perfected image of something I'll never be.
Sometimes...just sometimes you make me believe my own lies. Tonight though, tonight I'm numbed out. The pills from the plug went fast and hard. Leaving me confused And brave and unaware.
"Talk to me," you say. There's a pleading in your voice. I should react. But, I don't. I just breathe in deeply and load another round. I want to say I miss you. Maybe that I'm lost without you. I want to say I need you. I'm silent instead.
I see the dominos falling. Click, clack, click, clack. A quiet exit to Silver Springs and Xanax dreams.
The Alternate Truth, prologue
In response to @DanPhantom123 https://www.theprose.com/post/764252/the-alternate-truth
It'd been a number of years prior. Who's to say how'd it all started. Peck only knew that they'd been left to fend for themselves. Like all the stuff was there, more or less. Adults came and went, even gave a pat or smile of recognition sometimes. Opened packages, napkins were around and they knew where there were garbage cans and utensils. Jimmy was the younger so it was up to Peck to show him, if he wanted. If either wanted, cuz what little brother necessarily follows any directions?
But he did.
"You sit up here. Can you reach? Do it yourself. Nobody's gonna be behind you all the time," said Peck parroting his parents' chiding and Jimmy would scurry up the stool in the kitchenette bar and reach into a bag of Doritos for breakfast. They'd wash it down with something from the fridge. Maybe they'd share a cup but honestly Peck was apt to drink milk directly from the container. Jimmy wasn't big enough yet. So, he did the brotherly thing. Poured him some.
Guess reaching for things becomes second nature. When you're growing into it, there's no line to draw at your doorstep. There's a gnawing at the stomach and we learn from side banter that that is called hunger, and you fill it, with something. And things come in packages, from box buildings, that somehow arrive, and obviously you see eventually that somebody goes to get. Well Peck had initiative. Jimmy had that backward curiosity to sit and wait. Until one day he too got up with the undertaker's dream, to be a go-getter. He'd been watching.
When Peck asked whatchya thinking about, he'd be random and evasive with words that didn't fit in a child's mouth. It was like a precursor, "I think of scales."
Whatever. Or really creeping Peck out he might sigh and say, "Cousin Hate's last breath."
He had a tendency to carry on like that in some family sense. Like the way he basically clung to Peck, followed him around like a mother Hen. Guess you have to learn from someone, and your observation, forever in a question, is maybe not going to jive with your experience.
So then, it's the beginning. You learn about Alternate Truth.
Jimmy did. Peck just didn't know yet well.
(Yet Another) Challenge of Inspiration 5 Response @BJLeCrae
Foaming at the Mouth
Well bless your heart! You didn't just open Pandora's box with this challenge, you took a sledge hammer to it then burned the motherfucker to ashes. What is bothering me right now? Okay, you naughty glutton for punishment, you asked for it!
1. The state of music today is a joke: You don't have to study and master an instrument, you don't have to have vocal range, all you gotta do is be purdy and autotune does the rest. Real musicians don't need to be good looking. Their talent is what matters. You need examples? Keith Richards and Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones. Keith was ugly before embalming himself with heroin, cocaine, alcohol, and nicotine. Now, a three thousand year old mummy looks more youthful. In short, Keith put the ug in ugly. Still, no one can play rhythm like good ol' Keith. Now, Mick just turned 80 and the dude still struts across the fucking stage like a god. The lips that made him a sex symbol in the1960's and 1970's have lost their elasticity to the point that if a stiff wind hit them ol' Mick would be sent sailing into the next county. None of this matters because it is Keith and Mick's talent that ensures that Stones still fill stadiums to this day. Dollar for fucking donuts the only thing Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber will be able to fill when they hit their 70's is their diapers and even doing that will require autotune!
2. The 21st century's bat guano crazy cult of personality: People used to admire the likes of Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Gandhi, Shakespeare, and Socrates. These individuals, though certainly imperfect had the courage and character that made them worthy of admiration. Who enjoys worship today? Social media influencers, sports stars, and (gag) the Kardashians. I have so many problems with these modern influences I just about foam at the mouth. Here's why:
a) Social media influencers: Exactly what is it they do that is worthy of influencing anyone? I mean, they're not trying to end world hunger or social injustice. Nope. Most of the time, they are promoting the stuff their sponsors pay them to schlep be it clothing, technology, or all things banal. Um when did we decide to emulate fucking commercials? I don't recall ever being compelled to be like Cap'n Crunch or Mr. Clean. Are we so materialistic that we worship the people who's basic purpose is to sell stuff?
b) Athletes: Now, I am a huge football fan. I grew up watching the Detroit Lions lose year in and year out. However, though I loved Barry Sanders, Herman Moore, and Calvin Johnson, they didn't influence me beyond the football field. Don't get me wrong, a lot of athletes do a lot of good off the field with charity work. However, for every athlete who dedicates their time to a worthy cause, there seems to be a douche bag who feels that their ability to catch a ball or hit a ball with a stick makes them above the law and basic human decency. The sick thing is the team owners and fans often give the players a pass for their bad behavior because they are athletically gifted. Many players have been caught beating their girlfriends, doing drugs, and even engaging in gang violence. Instead of being drummed out of their sport, they are often given the label of, "Bad Boy" and allowed to play until the negative press starts to become a distraction to the entire team or hurts ticket and merchandise sales. In short, a douche bag is a douche bag no matter how many touchdowns they catch or homeruns they hit. Character matters and awful human beings shouldn't be in the limelight just because they are good at playing a game.
3. The Kardashians: This one blows my mind. These vapid, self-centered, walking, talking, STD worst case scenarios are fucking billionaires. Why? I hear everyone talk about their business savvy. Okay, so they no how to market themselves. Unfortunately, what they market is materialism and the idea that women need to look a certain way to be successful and desirable. They make sure that the press is aware that their 5 year old's birthday party cost more than an average house and their kid's wear clothes that cost thousands of dollars. Look, women are the future and I can't wait for women to have their chance to turn the shit show that is humanity around. Unfortunately, vapid, self-promoting women who bring nothing worth while to the table like the Kardashians are preventing our new female overlords (overladies?) from taking over for the old, rich, men who have been fucking things up for centuries.
4. The blurring of opinion and fact (forgive me for getting political here): When the fuck did someone's opinion deserve to be proclaimed as the way things should be? This one has the potential to destroy the world. The conservative and liberal ideologies in this country insist that their views are absolutely right and there is no room for debate. To ask a question is to raise the standard of opposition. Both sides are guilty of this to one extreme or another, so both need to be called out.
a) Conservatives have been promoting the idea that the American way of life is under attack by those tree hugging, climate change fear mongering, LBGTQ agenda promoting, communist, liberals who hate America. They proclaim that there is a liberal conspiracy that seeks to make their children into godless, Anti-American, gender nonconforming, commies. Instead of creating an open forum to determine if these beliefs are true, laws are being passed in conservative states banning books, the free expression of sexuality or gender identity, a woman's right to choose, and even mandates that the nation's history of racism be glossed over in schools as if the problem has been solved. In short, conservatives are legislating their belief systems into reality. They are hinging everything on the idea that if it is against the law it doesn't exist and if anyone says otherwise, they are subject to punishment.
b) Liberals are just as quick to point the finger at conservatives as being the root of all evil. Their tactics are equally self-righteous and more annoying than anything. For example, many liberals feel that to question their belief means that the person who asks the question is against them. This isn't always true. For example, PETA often gives out pamphlets at local colleges in my neck of the woods decrying the evils of eating meat and using animal based products. Now, we are surrounded by dairies, beef cattle, poultry and pig farms. In short this part of California's economy is driven by all things PETA defines as evil. When I was in college I observed a fellow student ask a member of PETA, "Okay say we stop eating meat and using animal based products, what are we going to do with the MILLIONS of domesticated farm animals?" The member of PETA's response was to blow a gasket and claim that the question was sarcastic and hateful. Personally, I think it's a good question. Maybe the guy who asked the question was open to PETA's ideology, he just wanted to know if there was a plan for the farm animals. It seems more cruel to blindly free domesticated animals who lack the instincts and means to care for themselves into the world. I am guessing that thousands of these animals would die of starvation and sickness. Many liberals want change and their hearts are in the right place most of the time, but they fail to realize that they need to justify why they want change, offer to seek compromise, and also have a clue as to how to deal with the challenges that the change will create. In short, their belief may be valid TO THEM, but to others it is problematic and potentially more cruel than what the belief is so against.
Okay, I have fumed, foamed at the mouth, and declared what is currently tying my nuts in a knot. In the spirit of respectful discourse, no one needs to agree with me. I value any and all opinions so long as they don't promote violence against someone else. So, feel free to disagree, just don't force me to listen to Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber, that would be perpetrating audio violence against this bald headed, inbred, cranky, social worker.
Narrow navigator, nihilistic nomad,
Neurotic nonconformist, numb
No nuance - not nurtured,
Normalcy? Not needed.
Nations’ nadir, night’s necromancer,
Narcotizing Narcissus, near-nothing noose.
No negotiation - neutralize necessities
Notice nitwits now,
Naïve neglected nobodies,
Neither nectar nor noteworthy,
Nathan None – napalm.
Lois in Love: Jacques Nel
Oh! Joyous rapture of my heart. You will never guess who found me on the dating sites. Jacques Nel. Jacques Nel the Rugby legend of our old high school. Jacques Nel. The hottest guy in our high school wants to go on a date with me! He called me “Beautiful”! I am so excited. Too bad the flu is not completely gone and that I’ve developed some blisters under my nose. I don’t care. I said – yes. We are meeting up this Wednesday. I’m so excited! I can cover up everything with concealer then everything will be all right.
It is a bit strange that he didn’t have a profile picture only some photo of the ocean. Maybe he thinks that looks are overrated? It was also strange that he didn’t recognize me? I mean he lived next door to my uncle, and we use to have numerous talents shows; me and my cousin Richard that always involved me singing a duet with Richard to The Shoop-Shoop Song. Jacques couldn’t have heard us or seen me in a costume. There were high walls around the garden pool area, and I was rather fat in high school. We had at least three subjects together right through school – how doesn’t he remember?
My friend, Yolandi Pavier has just reminded me that high school happened over twenty years ago. How can that be? I still remember it like yesterday. Yolandi says that a lot of people we thought we knew have changed. How can that be? Yolandi then continued to inform me that Alecia, Jacques’s high school sweetheart had married another woman, that most of our crowd was either living in Australia, Ireland or Botswana that some of our classmates were dead. I listened to her for three hours straight with disbelieve. Where in the world had I been? Did aliens kidnap my body and now after over twenty years bring me back? When I asked Yolandi how she knew all this, she said that she was on Facebook. Facebook strikes again.
I told her about meeting up with Jacques on Wednesday. I didn’t go into details. I lied to her in fact. I said that he sent me a friend request on Facebook. I really need to find a church. Yolandi got excited for me and approved immediately. She said that Jacques was a generous and lovely man. Jacques had helped a special needs mother to get a wheelchair in through Botswana. Apparently, Jacques is some sort of doctor or wealthy businessman. Yolandi wasn’t sure that information was blocked on Facebook.
So, Sunday I went shopping instead of looking for that church. I bought the most beautiful floral dress for myself and new underwear, just in case. I’ve put it all on account. My son wanted to know why I was buying things for myself when I never used to. As if it was some sort of criminal offense. I lied and said that I needed to. Technically, it wasn’t a lie I’ve not bought something for myself since 2009. I think I really did need it because for the first time in years I feel a bit special. It lasted a whole minute. My daughter was practicing her football shots in the garden when we came back. The ball ricocheted off the post straight into my nose. The blow caused me to stumble to the ground and scrap both my knees. I look like a defeated boxer with an interrogating son and a hooligan daughter. Nonna looked at my shopping bags with suspicion but gracefully said nothing, sipping wine.
Jacques has messaged me just now. He has sent me a photo. It was not his face. I am shocked. It was a photo of his thing? My husband has never sent me photos of his thing? Maybe this is how men tell girls that they like them now? Jacques asked me what I thought. I didn’t want to be rude and say that his thing looked like an episode of National Geographics. The feature on elephants. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings to say that penises don’t really move me anymore or excite me that much since I caught my son dancing naked in front of the mirror swinging his balls all around.
So, unfortunately, I lied by accident again and told him that he reminds me of torpedoes that hit sure and true. He must have really liked the remark because then he unwrapped a little bit more. Jacques then told me that he had become a successful psychologist, owned a clinic and that he was living in Durban now. The four-hour drive from the coast to our date would be worth it, if only I could send him a photo of my breasts. I said that I would think about it.
I thought about it until midnight when everyone was asleep. I kept thinking about Nonna’s words, “Keep with the times.” Then imagined how everything I possibly knew about love and relationships have changed. Then – I did it! I feel like a naughty schoolgirl. I couldn’t sleep.
Oh my gosh, its Tuesday morning Jacques says that he is five minutes away. I am not ready. My boobs are powerful. Jacques says that he needs a place to spend the night. What am I going to do? I will never flash my boobs ever again!
I can’t believe it. It has been the weirdest two days of my life. It was or has been the weirdest date in all my life.
Jacques arrived in a beaten up old white car. I was instantly confused because I thought he was a successful psychologist. What the hell was going on? When he stepped out of the car, I was disappointed once again. God had taken all his hair and his beautiful white teeth. They are stained yellow and broken beyond believe, how can this be?
Once, I gave Jacques something to drink. We put his bags in the guestroom. Jacques confessed to me that since high school he had been struggling with a drug addiction problem for some drug of sorts, that I can’t remember its name. He had relapsed on Monday and just needed to get away from everything. I listened and secretly regretted buying Nonna that one night stay at the Casino Hotel that she thought was complimentary from the Casino.
Jacques almost crashed the car when we went to fetch the children from school. He temporarily blacked out for a minute then was shaking all the time like an old man. The children weren’t happy either.
My son’s first question to Jacques was – he wanted to know if he “had to” call Jacques, “dad” now. Jacques tried to high five or fist pump my daughter. She bit Jaques on the arm.
Lord, forgive me but I was in no state to cook so I ordered pizza and drank a lot of wine. When Jacques went to go shower, I immediately got the children on the side. I told them that for that night bedtime was strictly eight o’clock and that they need to sleep in my bedroom. I’ve never been so scared in my life.
Yet. I couldn’t chase Jacques away. If I had a problem, like that I would be so grateful for one night’s help. I wouldn’t want to be chased away. The same goes for my children, if they ever had a problem like that, I would want someone to help them even if it is for one night only. I reasoned that I just needed to survive one night.
At bedtime Jacques whispered to me that I must come to him when the children had fallen asleep then French kissed me for until forever touching me everywhere. I almost considered it. But! I’m a mother first. So, we all went to bed at eight o’clock sharp in my locked bedroom. I didn’t close an eye that night as I lay in the dark clutching the kitchen knife under my pillow. Listening to the farting sounds coming from the guestroom.
Jacques woke up early in the morning. He said that he had to leave now, and it was the worse luck yet. There was another confession. This time Jacques confessed that he was immigrating to Australia. I told him that we would always be each other’s “almost”. I bid him farewell and thanked Australia in my heart for taking yet another South African. Jacques dedicated The Shoop Shoop Song to me…which means, he does remember, he did see me in my costume!
I related the whole story to my friend Yolandi Pavier minus The Shoop Shoop Song bit that is private and her conclusion is that you must kiss many frogs to find the prince…I pointed out to her that I am not Chinese.
My husband’s lawyers have sent the court order and divorce papers. My husband refuses to pay the children’s maintenance stating on that grounds that I left him. He must have forgotten to tell his lawyers about having had the locks changed so that we couldn’t get in the house?
Let’s see who will be victim number two…
Time-travel technology turned tragic today. The team trained themselves thoroughly, taking their tools to the transmission tower. The trip took them to the threshold--three thousand thirty three. There, they tried to track the titanic tumult that threatened the timeline. Team trainer, Tony Talbot, told the telecasters that "This terrific ten-person temporalnaut team traded themselves, trying to tame the time-twister."