Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Free At Last

Ella hated shoes. They hurt. It was also the way she felt about work, and boyfriends, and sex.

Even now in her late twenties, Ella liked going to playgrounds. She was too big for the slide but could soar on the swings, and hand-walk the monkey bars, and not worry about other things. Today, though, she did worry about other things. Things like her mother’s cancer, and her sister’s divorce, and her new boss, who would touch her and look at her the same way he did when she was the receptionist in the marketing department.

At the apex of one swing, staring into the cloudless sky, Ella decided what she should do. After dismounting, she removed her running shoes and socks, left them near the slide, and skipped to her car, arms raised, her body twirling in the breeze.

Ella scampered past her VW Bug into the woods, laughing. She began to sing a melody she’d never heard before, removed her blouse and slacks, then bra and panties as she roamed deeper into the darkness. Ella was free—free to do whatever she wanted.

The roar of the waterfall tickled Ella’s ears, made her laugh again. She ran to the edge of the falls, took several deep breaths, and looked down. A mist covered the pool at the bottom. With giggles circling her head, she leapt toward the foaming water, her arms spread wide, back arched, legs together, toes pointed, just like her diving instructor had taught her. Ella’s mind and body relaxed, she entered the cleansing water.

Three days later a family hiking the valley found Ella’s body draped on a rock.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Lady and Wolfman

This story first appeared in Elbow Pads Literary Magazine, Volume IV, Issue II.

Wolfman bayed to the sky whenever someone passed by wearing a suit and tie—like he did a lifetime ago, before the downsizing—and watched Lady amble toward him pushing her possessions in a rusted grocery cart, one wheel drunkenly spinning. No one knew her real name. He wasn’t certain she did after years on the street. But she’d always wanted to be called a lady, so that was the name the street people knew her by.

Most folks wouldn’t find her beautiful, with oily, salt and pepper hair stuck to her cheeks, a faded blue coat, and a face permanently etched with a scowl. Wolfman saw beyond all that. She was the one who came to his aid after another binge with a bottle of Jack could have put him in the hospital. The one who sat with him in his box, helped him sober up, convinced him alcohol was the enemy. The one who hosted their personal AA meetings.

He stood as she approached, reached out to her, kissed her on the cheek. She hrumphed him away with a sweep of her hand. Her face remained the same, but Wolfman noticed a sparkle in her eyes. She was almost alive again. And so was he.