There are moments caught between heart-beats that fall into crevasses where they nourish our dreams. Streaming rivulets that escape our conscious daylight world swell these moments until they become full-grown nightly adventures––what we have hoped blended with what else might be possible, tempered by fears and regrets. What part of us orchestrates these dreams has never been discovered––some grand arranger of self that does not allow itself to be controlled by any conscious part of us, perhaps. It is a cinema we construct for ourselves—a relief from or a censor of or a collector of those parts of ourselves we would otherwise not deal with. Those parts of ourselves we struggle to forget and throw away? There is no detritus in our lives. Some great hoarder within us reaches out a hand to capture and arrange them, then calls them dreams.
The dVerse Poets Pub prompt today was to write a 144-word flash fiction piece making use of the first sentence in my essay above.
As she awakened from her afternoon nap, she could see the glow of the lit-up dial of the alarm clock even through her closed eyelids. Everything on her body was thinning out. Her hair hung so limply that all she could do was to push it behind her ears and smooth it back from where it formed fuzzy little swirls on her forehead. Her arms sprouted an archipelago of purplish dry torn bruises—new ones every time she knocked up against a door frame or pruned the thunbergia vines. No one ever mentioned these bruises, although her children were perceptive and must have noticed them on those occasions when they stopped by on their way home from work to bring her groceries or to open the damper in the chimney and check that the gas lines had not clogged up over the summer.
Today it was her son who rang her doorbell to check up on her and accept a fast cup of coffee. It was going to be a cold winter, he lectured, so she needed a fire. Did she want him to light it for her? No, she wasn’t cold, but she would do it herself later, she insisted. For the hundredth time, he lectured her on being careful to make sure the pilot was working every time, then feigned interest in what sparse news she had to impart. She feared her subscription to life had expired along with most of her friends. What new did she have to say about this week’s installment of Mrs. Maisel or even the weather, now that it had turned gray and unchangeable––much like her life?
After ten minutes, he was off to children and wife and supper, and she was glad for this. She kissed him good-bye. A good boy. She had been fortunate in her life. She moved over to the fireplace. It was cold already, she thought, as she bent over to close the damper and blow out the standing pilot light on the fireplace, then turned on the gas.
Prompt words today are dial, chimney, expired, perceptive and work.
A cow is screaming across the arroyo. Fireworks explode in honor of whatever saint’s day is being celebrated this week, drowning out her loud shrieking bellows. It is twelve hours later that someone finds the cow, her horns caught in the wire fence. Too late to save her, they do the kind thing and a single shot rings out. When her owner leaves her for the buzzards, a stench settles over the neighborhood, and we pay a man to cover her in quicklime. It is months later that someone ventures up to find a perfect effigy of the cow—jaws open in her last cries of agony. In mistaking concrete for quicklime, the man we paid to do away with her has instead constructed her monument. Immortalized on that mountain where few others will ever see her, I often see her in my dreams.
For dVerse Poets, we were to write a story of 144 words or less that made use of the line about the screaming cow above. You can read the stories others wrote on the topic by hitting the dVerse link above. This one is exactly 144 words. True story, by the way.
The dogs made their usual frenzied protest at his leaving. “This time he’s not coming back,” I told them just before opening the gate for them, even though I knew that all I had to do, really, was to think it. They were his dogs, but they were psychically attuned to my thoughts.
Their “tracking” brays grew fainter but more frenzied as they vanished behind hill after hill, and finally, when far away—an interrupted cry as a shot rang out. Then the yelping of one dog. Or was it two?
Was it fear or mourning for a master already forgiven that brought about the brief caesura that followed the gunshot and preceded the wailing––that trio of sounds that have reverberated, in sequence, down through my life since then.
For the DVerse Poet’s Pub, we are to write a flash fiction prose piece of no more than 144 words and to incorporate this line from a Robert Frost poem, “When far away an interrupted cry.”