Survival of the fittest, not the strongest!
She kissed the king’s lips. The monarch gave his head a jerk, with little impact on the lip-lover. He shook his entire body, but she stayed on. After a while, she reached the king’s eyes. The infuriated sovereign raised his arm but only to bruise his eye, in his attempt to get rid of the eye-nut. Then, she began to caress the royal nose. A mischievous move made the monarch send a loud cry. Instinctively, the right hand moved but only to make the nose bleed. The king’s distress rolled down his cheeks.
Survival of the fittest, not the strongest!
He came, he succeeded uniting the citizens to rage against him for all his destructive policies, and then he left a friendly relationship in tatters.
Even the babies in strollers showed up to protest his inhumane behavior towards other children. Then they saw his namesake cartoonish diaper-clad floating baby-balloon. All the children began to giggle, soon creating a giggle-tsunami that would cross the boundaries of the nations, slowly infecting the globe.
Next day, the emperor would travel to meet his “new friend”. He noticed millions of yellow balloons flooding the sky, while a fresh wave of the giggle-tsunami drenched him.
Hot, suffocating air, ruffled by the sea breeze. Glinting cars queued up for the chain ferry. Heat rippling the air, sky a vibrant blue, the beach bleached by the sun. An old red telephone box, standing adjacent to a telegraph pole.
Brass with a jazz beat escape from a can. A cigarette tip peeps out a window of a car. A sailing boat pops into view between sand dunes, and races ahead of the clanking ferry. Speed boats zip about in the sea.
The ferry creaks into place. We rush to the car and move on.
The world still belonged to the sleeping. Few have stirred from their slumber, and the quiet belonged to me. Briefly I held time to savor the precious moment that was mine alone. I looked out as the play of a wakening world unfolded. Covered in glistening frost and snuggling fog. And I was its sole audience.
Too soon it wakes. That tempestuous being that steals my peace. But tonight I will find it again. Until morning breaks again for me.
She looked on, her young granddaughters were absorbed in their books. She watched and remembered. When her own children were that age she’d believed she could keep them safe from the vagaries of the world. Though she’d never stopped loving them in her own fierce way, she’d been proved wrong; been proved inadequate to the standards she’d set herself. These days, she saw her daughter striving for perfection in her motherhood. She wanted to say,
‘Cut yourself some slack, be gentle.’
Yet she felt she’d lost the right, due to her own maternal failings. She simply kept on apologising.
A rare event: two stories in one day. I can't think what inspired this one.
Everyone diner was smiling, but not in identical ways. Most had fixed smiles taped over faces whose eyes squirmed with embarrassment. A handful of naughty boys enjoyed the general discomfort of their fellow guests.
One diner, a large disgusting creature, wore a smug grin.
At one corner table, a quiet argument broke out.
"Why is he here? He's a beast! A sex offender! A bully!"
"He just invited himself."
"She was too weak to say no."
'She' – the dinner's host – had to sit beside it. It turned towards her, placed its hand between her thighs and said, "I'm enjoying this."
"Why does he seem so unhappy? He shouted at me and then put his head in his hands."
The winner's trainer took a suck on his pipe and explained.
"You came fourth. A good effort but you were not obsessed. He has been training for this moment for years and now like Alexander the Great he has no more worlds to conquer. Victory does not always mean pleasure."
"I guess I'm Salieri and he's Mozart," observed the runner.
The winner headed for the pub with his eyes full of melancholia, the reason for existence now disappeared like chaff into the ether.
When I squeeze my eyes shut and think of all the places I would rather be at this moment, the dental chair does not top my list. But how did I know that biting down on the nut was
going to wreak havoc on a back molar and give it attitude.
As the dentist injects a local anesthetic into my gums, I wrinkle my nose, dig my nails into the sides of my chair and ignore the perspiration that lays siege to my forehead.
Then I think of all the nuts that remain uneaten. They will just have to wait.
When the starship crashed on Voledex, cryogenic chambers were scattered across the alien landscape.
I was the only crew member who had suited up before life support gave out. There were no other survivors.
Eight children slept in their chambers, dotting the gray dust of our new home.
I located a rover, and one at a time I hauled those chambers from the frozen waste to the previously-built Ops Dome.
It was not ideal, but the second ship would arrive in a month. We might make it. And if not, well, at least we had made it home.
Two old friends sat together in a cafe, sipping coffee. They got together too seldom these days, it seemed. Unlike the old days, when they were inseparable.
In those days, there was an ease about their togetherness. Sometimes they talked about important things, sometimes not. It didn’t matter. They were simply together, and that felt right.
Lately, though, one friend began asking critical questions of the other, and now he began talking about the conditions of their friendship.
His friend tried to hide her dismay. She wanted to talk further, but the cafe was closing and he had to go.
Davie was a small, wiry man, his frame emaciated by heroin. Each night, he'd crawl inside communal wheelie-bins, sift through the discarded refuse of better-off city residents, and drag out whatever he could find. Then, he tried to sell his treasure to the very people who had dumped it in the first place. Incredibly, some took pity on him. However most simply called the police, who moved him on.
Then one cold night he climbed inside a bin and fell asleep. The bin lorry came along the next morning.
Davie's body wasn't noticed at the landfill site for another fortnight.
Light of my life. I loved you with a passion I thought would never die. I was with you when Bobby, Geoff and Martin were there. I’d follow you everywhere… anywhere.
I’d scream to encourage you, be in agony when you fell. I’d have done anything for you.
But the magic’s faded. I won’t get out of my chair to see what you’re doing in the next room.
The shout goes up! England scored? Who cares? Croatia scored? Twice? England’s out of the World Cup? So what? Eleven millionaires on the pitch moaning? Football’s boring now. Bring on rugby!
Twelve dazed children emerged from the masqueraded van of the Border Patrols. They were separated months ago as punishment for their parents’ crossing the border asking asylum.
Anita Lopez, picking up her two-year old Maya, burst into tears: “What did they do to her? She recognizes me no more!”
Half-a-world around, the last little footballer out of a dozen, trapped in a flooded cave for weeks would see the sunlight again for an international joint-effort, while the world celebrate the same sport.
Neera Desai (born to immigrant parents), a pro-bono lawyer for refugee-rights pondered “In which America we’re living now?”
The girl boarded the train.
She slipped out a different door but I exited as well, gaining on her in the rail yard.
She looked back and I noticed mirth in her eyes.
Dodging left, the girl put a box car between us and I lost her for a moment. I saw her again when she tripped on a stone and stumbled.
I closed the distance between us.
I could smell her perfume. He brown eyes sparkled. I grabbed her arm and she surrendered.
“You’re under arrest,” I announced, ignoring the fire in her eyes.
"Why are you laughing?" said 1.
"I can't help it; they're spinning out of control," said 2. "Just look at them."
"Why are they doing that," said 1 "Don't they know it's suicide?"
"For them, to admit that they are wrong is to show weakness," said 2. "Better to fall with your chin held high than to admit your mistake."
"What a selfish way to look at things," said 1. "What about all of the other creatures that have nothing to do with it?"
"We shall have to wait and see," said 2. "It's time for us to report in."
His world was spinning. It was moving too fast, and he felt swept up in it, as if his life were just a speck caught up in a dust storm that swirled around him.
He was speeding to his next appointment when he was forced to take back roads because of an accident on the highway. A cyclist ahead was peddling dead center in his lane, and because of oncoming cars, he couldn’t pass right away.
Knowing he would now be late, he downshifted and watched the cyclist, who seemed so focused, and realized that his world too was spinning.
Joe let the battered book slip from his fingers and swallowed hard. When were they coming? The pool of dark liquid was seeping further across the floor. He reached up from where he crouched and yanked the door handle again. The lock didn't budge. The ticking clock echoed in the empty room. What if they never came?
Joe grabbed the book back and began tearing out minuscule fragments and sliding them under the door. As his fingers pushed the full-stop out of sight, he lay down and turned his face to the gap, to where the evening sun would come.
The clearing was dimly lit by a crescent moon.
I could not have fire because there was no dry wood to be found.
The predators were out; I could hear them howling, snuffling and screeching.
I hugged myself and nearly nodded off, but fear prevented me from sleeping and I was alert when the big wolf entered my camp.
I stood, raised my hatchet and dared him to advance.
"I'm your spirit guide," he whispered, "you are sleeping."
We talked a long time.
I awoke cold and sore.
Circling me were large paw prints, and the echo of a dream.
James and Sarah were panicking. The rain was pounding them, and they were too far from shore to safely return. Their paddle boat was filling with water, and no matter how quickly they scooped, they couldn't empty it. They felt the boat lowering.
“What do we do?” James panted. “We won't make it!”
“Relax! We'll think of something.” Sarah's mind was racing.
Actually, she had no idea. She was sure they were doomed. But then she closed her eyes, humming softly.
The rain stopped. James' jaw dropped.
“Beatles' 'Here Comes the Sun'.” Sarah smiled. “The perfect solution!”
Only the other day, I discovered what 'ghosting' is.
You've had a long-term relationship with someone, then suddenly they break off all communication. You send them texts, emails, leave messages on their phone, but you don't get replies. It's as if they're not there. Or perhaps it's you who's not there.
Looking back, I'm not sure what I ever saw in her in the first place. She was just a chance internet hook-up and somehow it developed from there. I helped her out with a couple of things, but then I suppose I stopped being useful.
Better off without her.
I climbed the mountain.
In a cave at the summit, I asked, "Where am I to find the riches held within this mountain?"
The air around me rumbled and the oracle replied, "To find wealth, find first thyself."
I was angry. I knew that oracles spoke in riddles, but this was no answer!
I found a side tunnel leading from the oracle's chamber. I made my way, into the mountain.
The passage ended in a doorway. The room had a mirror covering the far wall.
My reflection smiled. I hurled a stone, glass shattered. In a nook was my treasure.
He wanted a kindly gesture from the lively party. Usually he sat but this time he behaved as normally as he could to be noticed. People didn't. He quickly entered the restroom and saw his sad reflection in the mirror.
Asking himself, "Is it my ugly face, or my poor taste of clothes?" he bravely walked out towards the crowd, but hardly anyone noticed him again.
He remembered, and asked God: "Why do you give me this terrible feeling? They think I'm not important, no title or money." Discouraged, he finished by adding, "People can make you feel uncomfortably inhuman."
You'll wear flowers in your hair, not subtly either. You'll look like a vigorous florist's display. The previous day, you will have worn a bikini, the weather in Norfolk demanding it. You'll keep yourself hidden after that. Maybe a year later, your dress will be so bereft of material that your lack of underwear will attract admiring glances. Another subdued week, maybe a walk wearing his heavy great coat, will signal something closing. Hopefully something opening. You'll regret nothing. Not the kisses. Not the body crashes. Having lain in the ground for over two years, finally you'll let him rest.
Between bursts of crack crack pop, when the air is still, the dust falls and settles in the pools of lamp oil on the particle board floors. The room - the vault - is air tight. We put on our masks anyhow. I wonder if there be enough masks for everyone and I am mentally counting people. Some aren’t here. The masks don’t fit the children no matter how tight the straps. The children are all crying because they don’t want to wear masks. He slams the door which only opens from the outside. Don't move until you see God, he says.