Saturday, February 25, 2017

But soft (in the head)

He liked to think of it as her balcony.

(it's not a real balcony, just a decorative architectural element)

Perhaps she liked to stand there, lean on the railing, gaze out at the moon and stars.

(it's only a foot deep, the railing eighteen inches high)

Her long hair would cascade over her shoulders, drape along the rough stone.

(she'd have to be two feet tall for that to happen)

Just as a dreamy look of contemplation came across her face, he would whisper from the bushes.

(the neglected garden, overgrown, full of weeds and thorns)

Startled, she'd look about in confusion until he stepped into view, then a smile would bloom.

(more likely a shriek and quick call to the police)

Their moonlit conversation would last until the first shades of dawn, and her tears at their parting.

(nighttime temperatures just above freezing, so she'd be hypothermic)

He knew it would never happen.

(of course not)

But what was the harm in dreaming?

(well, you've got me there)

Thursday, February 16, 2017


A hushed conversation.

"Yes, I think she's made a lot of progress. You can see it in the way she..."

"But she still walks that way. You know, looking at the ground. She never notices anybody, walks right by her friends, everyone who says hi. I don't get it."

"Well, that could be a reaction to overstimulation. We can work on that."

They pause to look at the girl, reading a book. It's possible that she can hear them, but she gives no sign that she cares what they're talking about. Or even that they're talking.

As the whispers begin again, a quick glance from her. There's nothing she hasn't heard, half a dozen times before. She isn't counting. She no longer cares. She isn't shy, either. Or overstimulated. She just sees more when she's looking down.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

What Friends Are For

"Get out, I don't wanna see you here, never again!"

Big hand pushing him backwards, threat of more where that came from.

"But I just, we were just hanging out, he's..." choking on the words, pain in his chest that has nothing to do with the shoving match.

"He's not your friend. He's not nothing to you any more. He is never gonna see you again. If I catch you here, I'll break your goddamn neck."

Dust whispering down from the porch ceiling after the door slams, window glass set to rattling.

Danny is barricaded in his room, but can't stay there. When he comes out, more buises, another black eye they'll work together to cover up in the school bathroom.

It's dark. He should go.

His grandmother used to say whenever God closed a door, he opened a window. The hunk of broken brick in his hand is just the right size, and they're both fast runners. God never specified how the window was to be opened...

Friday, February 3, 2017

All Good Things

"Teacher, what are the things hanging down on the corner of the building? They look like wires."

She sighed. Only three weeks into the new year. She needed to encourage curiosity, keep them engaged, but this...

"Yes, Sarai, they are wires, for electricity. We learned about electricity last year, how the solar farm..."

The hand went up again. "But, Teacher, they aren't connected." Sarai was very sharp.

Now she closed her eyes to gather the pieces of an answer. She needed hours to explain how electricity used to be produced and distributed, days for implications of the choices that had been made, and their impacts. These children would never be able to truly understand how ubiquitous it had been, how central to everyone's lives before the End. They knew electricity as the dim pathway lights at night, the film projector on Saturday evening and their remaining medical machinery, no comparison at all.

And yet, there were stories that might help. "Well, children, once upon a time..."