That he was completely and utterly alone.
It had taken him weeks to get here, to see this view. Ascending had been no mean feat, a dizzying effort climbing hundreds of stairs. From the top of the Eiffel Tower he stared out into the city, sprawling and vast, buildings as far as the eye could see, all the way to the hazy horizon. Yet in all that view, there was no movement, no noise, no smoke or other sign of life. This monumental effort, climbing to the top of this wrought-iron perch, only confirmed what he already knew.
That he was completely and utterly alone.
I hope the unconscious and dying can hear. They would hear words from the heart. Like confessions of a little girl, loved by her grandmother. Who wished she could swing in the porch swing once more. Who explained how Miles loved his train with real smoke and whistle. Who told how each family member was okay, because they had been loved, through good times and bad, unconditionally. Who said she was beautiful.
Or, a sigh of resignation, acceptance, and reassurance. It’s okay. You can go. Someday, we’ll swing on the porch again, laughing about how great life was. Someday.
It is ten minutes to eight. I’ve taken my place at the table before time in order to savour every moment of anticipation. I have seen the door open and shut thirty times already; each time the suspense mounts. This is the restaurant to which the prospective groom is coming. Here’s where we shall relish the best blancmange in town. What is to come? I know not. I feel at once, the delicious and tumultuous jostle of anxiety, uncertainty, possibility and speculation. But I don’t want to be tethered, pinioned; I tremble, I quiver. I walk out the door again.
“I won these trophies in global tournaments.” He didn’t hide his disappointment when he saw all the trophies he had ended in a box, years ago.
The separation had damaged everything: belongings, family, trust, and love.
I felt sorry for him. I felt sorry for her, too. As time went on, some lives remained in the past.
“Dad, Mum has gone. Nobody can bring her back. You still have your life, live it. Leave the past, stay in the present. You might not be able to win any sports trophies anymore, but you still can win my heart, your daughter.”
Wallace Possum-Cat, the blackest man I ever saw, stripped some tiny black seeds from a grass. “To bake bread,” he said. Further on, he pulled from the sand some stalks with tiny, bulblike roots. “Desert onions.” We tasted the faint flavor.
Wallace approached a woody shrub, felt the branches, then snapped off a thick one. A three-inch white-green caterpillar dropped into his hand. “Witchetty grub, full of water.”
He handed the worm to Louisa, who looked around, nothing but desert. She bit the grub in half and handed the remainder to me. I closed my eyes and chomped down.
She is my buddy's wife. But he has always been a pig. During our schooldays, he would sneak out at night to meet Lula. He had a princess, but he coveted a sow.
Stephanie was naive. She believed every word he ever said. Or maybe she just pretended not to know. Lately, he’s been slapping her around. What kind of man could do that to an angel? Especially now that she’s pregnant.
He told me he was leaving. This morning he did. What a blessing to have a daughter. Culmination of our prayers.
Adios, sayonara, bon voyage and oink-oink, Fred.
Seoul. New York. London. My love, I know you are reading this right now. Happy birthday. I followed you on every step of your world tour. Perhaps not in person, but I was there. From your debut to your success today, I was there. As a true fan should, I prepared a humble gift. Remember that so-called superfan in London? Turn on the news, I took good care of her all right. Just for you. See you soon in Bangkok. I am always there...watching, protecting, loving you.
It has been 5 days since I had runaway. I'm now alone, walking down a dust filled road with no idea where I was. Cars drove past sometimes, no one stopped, its like I am invisible. All my life I have been invisible, unnoticed, alone. I had not runaway because of this, I had run away to find myself, to not be invisible. I want to be seen. I want the world to know my name! One day this journey down the dust road will end and I will slowly part with this road. But I will never stop walking.
Thirty knots of wind. Double reef in the main. Engine’s quit. Waves breaking over the bow. The The mule jib pulling us over the swells. Where’s the line between pleasure and pain? Chaos reigns. My wife is upset. The sandwiches have fallen into the bilge. One kid is puking. The other screaming. It was supposed to be a pleasure sail. Whose insane idea was this? Suddenly I wake up, rub my eyes, get out of bed. The sheets are soaked with sweat. In the shower I step on a bath toy. It’s my son’s plastic sailboat lying on its side.
She hurried over to his table, flipping the page on her order pad with her thumb.
“Hi there,” she said.
“Need a minute?”
“The beef on weck.”
“The beef on weck.”
“Weck,” she said, sounding irritated. “Roast beef on a kummelweck roll.”
“A kummelweck roll?”
“Thin roll with salt and caraway seeds.”
“With roast beef?”
“Yeah. Rare. Cut thin and topped with horseradish.”
“I’ve never heard of it.”
“It’s a local favorite,” she said, tapping her pen and rolling her eyes. “Yer in Buffalo.”
“Okay,” he said, looking wary. “I’ll try it.”
The cat had just finished a Bach partita. The cow was warming up with her trainer.
“Do have some cheese,” said the cat.
The little dog took a bite and chewed thoughtfully. The cow watched him over her shoulder.
“Why do they insist on Sage Derby?” asked the cow, rhetorically. “I prefer Saint Agur; better flavour; softer, creamier, more … Continental.”
“Pure snob affectation,” the dog surmised, with a grin. “By the way, did you notice how it fades in daylight?”
“No,” she said. “I’ve never looked.”
And as she began her run-up, the Dish and the Spoon waved goodbye.
Knocked for six by his packed abs
Caught midfield by his rugged good looks
Offside or inside leg, both of his are long and lean.
Bailed him up at the wicket; pitching my chat-up line.
Batting eyelashes; fielding off other catchers.
Ball’s in my court now, he’s within my boundary.
Dismissal is not an option.
Howzat. I’ve bowled him over.
Feel like I’ve won the ashes.
But cricket always come second to the game of love.
“I’m too uncoordinated,” Nicholas whined. “I wanna finish my video game!”
“Learning to build is important,” his father said. “No more games!”
He handed Nicholas the hammer.
“Hammering nails is basic. Just aim carefully and swing smoothly.”
Nicholas looked down, concentrating – he swung hard, smashing his father’s hand.
“Damn it, Nick! My thumb!”
“I told you I’m clumsy! It’s your fault!”
Nicholas returned to his room, where he defeated 2,714 online players, winning first place in his favorite video game, Space Sports. His fingers flashed lightning on the joystick, like well-oiled race car pistons, masterfully destroying thousands of alien invaders.
I get coffee and sit at a table outside, I ponder living here in St. John’s maybe for a year because they need someone to write on café patios and sip coffee and look up once and a while, then the sun actually comes out and my pondering strengthens and I say to the kids what do you think of this idea and I see they are fifty feet away in the little park, I tip my coffee back to finish though I want to stay when I see a woman point at the sky and say something about rain.
He was accelerating down the left flank, toeing the ball forward exactly the same length each time, as though there’s a hidden magnet controlling his touch with the ball. With curved legs like a taut bow, he, a consummate dribbler, sashayed his way past other defenders, constantly cutting inside, and let out a stunner, a banana kick that saw the ball curve away from the charging goalkeeper into the far post.
I remember this solo rhythmic run of my father here—once his home ground—whenever I walk past it, his six-foot-frame image popping up whatever direction I look at.
It was the lowest day of my life. Divorced and alone, I moved my meagre belongings into the rundown cottage. My friends gone, abandoned in my hours of need. A far cry from the two storey home with ocean views.
Despair washed over me and I sat staring at the grubby grey walls. Then a knock at the door.
A small boy stood proffering a plate of crudely decorated cupcakes with a gap-toothed grin.
I think I’m going to like this neighbourhood.
“Do you want that on a regular cone, a sugar cone, a waffle cone, or in a cup?”
“It doesn’t matter,” I said.
“You’re wrong,” challenged the boy behind the counter. “First of all, the sugar and waffle cones cost extra and if you put the ice cream in a cup you can put things on top of it.”
“Just put it in a cup,” I sighed
“Would you like some whipped cream on it?” he grinned. “Or hot fudge, nuts, and a cherry? How about a ripe banana?”
My business is sales.
I hired the kid on the spot.
Miles away from the privileged lifestyle she had once known, Penelope sat at the breakfast table spooning cereal. Her gaze noted the crooked pailing visible through the cracked pane.
She looked around, it could all do with a good clean. She would have to attend to that pailing before the neighbour's dog started making a nuisance of itself..
Her attention returned to the room and she held her breath against a putrid stench. Reaching down for the warm bundle, a smile of pure happiness light her face.
"Nappy change time for you my girl."
Naturally, this isn't eligible for any contest. It's not even fiction. But after Peggy Gerber's story "Dinner of Love", I couldn't resist it. Sorry. Editorial privilege.
It's 1972, and it's a promising early date. Her parents are away from home, and she's cooking that seventies' retro classic, spaghetti bolognese. In the kitchen, she invites me to taste the ragu: we agree it needs a little cayenne. So she goes to shake the little pot... and the entire top comes off, depositing a mound of red powder into our evening meal.
I insist that we scrape what we can off the top, then eat it. It tastes... spicy.
49 years later, we still eat lots of spicy food, but these days I do most of the cooking.
She’d stand shivering in the rain, teeth chattering, barely able to hold up the umbrella in the wind. Every game, Mom was there, no matter what, cheering me on as I ran up and down the field.
“Kick it, Benny!” she’d yell.
I remember how, win or lose, she’d tell me I did a great job, even when my only shot of the game was a miss.
“Keep practicing, Benny,” she’d say, handing me a towel. “You’ll get it next time.”
Now it’s my turn to cheer her on as she struggles to walk, talk, and remember my name.
We climbed the ridge and found a space between the treetops to draw the three elements together; creatured woodland, peopled pastureland and high priest mountains wearing pristine white miters. Ensconced in goose-feather-filled quilts, the gods peered down through their sun glasses on occasion to ensure that all was meet and that all activities were right so to do. We tried to see them through our cheap binoculars, without success, but we did see a lone figure from time to time, inching its way along the shoulders of a high priest, carrying what seemed to be a lighted torch of hope.
The morning sun shines brightly on the water. It shimmers like millions of diamonds.
A flock of grey and white seagulls scream while they perform acrobatics in the sky.
Her powerful leg muscles pump like crazy while she runs down the sandy beach.
Her auburn-colored ponytail swings back and forth.
Sweat trickles down her face and exudes from her pores.
A gentle breeze off the water cools her warm cheeks.
Her pink lips curve into a smile.
Nothing like a morning run to blow away the cobwebs.
I made it to the start line; spoke words of encouragement to myself.
I don’t recall the exact moment when I signed up for this.
I do remember the early mornings; long training runs, completed before the heat of the day; alcohol free evenings, when that was all I craved.
I bought new running shoes; set up a fundraising page which kept on giving.
I wasn’t fast; I grew strong. I kept on living.
I ran, in his memory, for those who faced adversity they had not chosen. Still running, I crossed the finish line. It was a marathon achievement.
Some people were playing sports while sporting off their splendor. A person from the Special Olympics attempted to enter a tournament with the splendid people. Unfortunately, the glamorous people taunted the person with a medical condition. Nevertheless, that member from the Special Olympics remembered the meaning of being special. Specialty is uniquely different from normality. There is also more to life than being part of a group. Therefore, all of them played on in harmony.
Game day. Harvey was to be a hockey referee.
He loved his team. Got to know every player. If not by name, by number. He cheered on excellent performance. Yelled and swore when improvement was needed.
Game started. Harvey followed the puck, twisting his body in awkward angles. Pendulum legs swung over one another. Neck stretched crane-like whenever a goal was disputed. Missed opportunities and penalties had him reach boiling point.
The buzzer rang. Timeout!
Pizza was ready for quick pickup from the oven.
So Harvey could return to his recliner for the rest of the game on TV.