Act of Contrition

In the deep-rooted shadows upon which the forest stands, where nothing grows but moss and the debris of winter-felled branches, Scott Lang and his brother Tony heard the stuttering k-r-r-r-k like someone opening the door to a derelict shack.

But near all around them, there were no such homes except last spring’s birds’s nests and the torn-up insect domicile buried within a pine upon which a woodpecker hammered another k-r-r-r-k.

“This noise where there’s nothing around creeps me out, man,” Tony said.

“Some of us, little brother, find such ‘noise’ a blanket of comfort, the caress of natural music far from the crash and soul-crunching violence in city life, the promise of peace,” said Scott.

“Okay, I get it, but does it take sloshing all the way out here just to find your precious quiet? Besides, it’s so damn dark here, how the hell am I supposed to see anything well enough to shoot it?” Tony said, swinging his rifle in carefree arcs.

“Your life always comes down to noisy violence. It killed Mom. I don’t want to know who else. Can’t you just enjoy some serenity for once?”

“Yeah, but where’s the fun in that? Now where to something I can enjoy?”

“You’ll never get it, will… Wait, what was that?” Scott said.

“Where?” Tony said, swinging the muzzle of the 30.06 toward the shadows.

When the echo of the k-r-r-r-k made by four rapid shots from the .22 Scott pulled from his pocket faded, he sighed. After a few seconds, he heard the birds begin singing again. He could actually hear his heartbeat settle down as the wind strummed the tall pines like harp strings. And he was pretty sure there had been only two witnesses to what he’d done.

He made a silent Act of Contrition to one.

“Peace, Mom, just like I promised. At last, some peace,” he whispered to the other.

Just Enough

“Think she’ll answer?”

“I don’t know. It’s been so long since we talked. At least with a civil tone.”

“Then why the hell are you calling her in the first place?”

“To hear her voice again, I guess.”

“A voice you haven’t heard in…”

“Fifteen years or so.”

“Lotta things can change in fifteen years.”

“Or so.”

“Yeah. Like maybe she won’t recognize your name, let alone your voice.”

“Sometimes you just have to take the leap.”

“And all this leaping and listening serves what purpose?”

“Closure.”

“Closure of something for which there never was an open-sure.”

“That’s because I never tried knocking.”

“Oh, is that what they called it in the 90s?”

“Shut up. I’m serious. I never admitted my, my…”

“Infatuation? Obsession? Hallucination?”

“You can always leave, you know. You’re not helping my anxiety about this one bit.”

“And rightly so. Do you seriously believe that a woman you knew as barely a friend will be interested in talking to you for the first time in fifteen years, let alone being open to your ‘knocking’ her?”

“No. I don’t. But if I don’t try, even just saying hi, I’ll never have that moment like at the near end of ‘Love, Actually.’ You know, when Keira Knightley comes running out of her house, with her husband — Chiwetel Ejiofor no less — back inside waiting for her, to chase after Andrew Lincoln, since he professed his pretty much undying love for her.”

“Yeah, and she kissed him and gave him a sigh and a look like, ‘too late, but maybe if you tried hitting on me before MY HUSBAND did, I’d have been down with you being the male half of this It Couple in hip London circles. So maybe…’ Is that what you want?”

“Well, maybe. But actually, I’d be happy with what happens next.”

“Which was?”

“He walks away from his great love feeling somewhat like he’s found a kind of closure. And he says what I want to feel, one way or another.”

“I repeat: Which was?”

“He says, ‘Enough. Enough now.’ I just want that.”

“What?”

“Just…Enough.”

Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to have a bit of flash fiction I cobbled together selected to win a weekly competition, Siobhan Muir’s Thursday Threads. At 250 words or less, I think I may have just ‘cobbed’ it together. I was stunned and heartened by that honor. To say I needed that approbation of late can’t be overstated. I’m hurting in the creative part of my life as much as the others. So this week, folks were supposed to take a snippet of words from my story (the first line up there) to write a new one. I couldn’t get to it then, but felt the urge today to try. I’m afraid I just let the voices go and this is what happened. First draft, free write., too long for the competition. But for my writing muscles and creative needs? And my heart? Just Enough.

Where a Heart Would Be

You and I are no strangers
to the inevitability of Loss.
We’ve held its hand together.
Like a shadow, it has clung to us,
darkened the paths before us,
dogged our steps, for all our days.
And then come the nights,
the nights when all is shadow,
and Loss lies next to you in bed,
cold and silent, stealing your rest
with tossed elbows and hogged covers.
You have lost something you cherished
and are now bereft of that
to which you gave your heart
but received a heart in kind.
I lost something I never had,
though my heart cherished nonetheless.
You lost your Love. I lost my Hope.
You still have that heart to hold.
I have shivering shadow and
a tangle of covers where I always
hoped a heart would be.

Through a Ghost Rain

The “excuse-me” mist drops
like a ghost rain blurring
the windows. But,
there are no windows.
I stand here and let it
touch my face, soft and cold,
when instead I’d prefer
your touch, once soft and warm.
But that won’t be today.
It’s probably just my imagination
feeling something not really real.
Like there ever really was a you,
or there ever really has been a me.
Perhaps I’m just another
“excuse-me” drifting and bumping
my way through the tiny drops
of time. But, excuse me if
I still envision, blurrily through
misted eyes, a ghost us.

Just Can’t Stop It ~ A Pantoum

She’s not sure even she knows
Why she thinks of him still.
And she just can’t stop it,
Even though she’s tried not thinking at all.

Why she thinks of him still.
She’ll only whisper in the dark.
Even though she’s tried not thinking at all,
It’s his voice she hears there beside her.

She’ll only whisper in the dark.
What she never admitted out loud.
It’s his voice she hears there beside her.
Whispering what she wished he’d said.

What she never admitted out loud,
She’s not sure even she knows.
Whispering what she wished he’d said,
And she just can’t stop it.

An old friend suggested I join her and some of her other friends in creating a special form of poem called a pantoum. It is built on four-line stanzas that repeat certain lines that occurred earlier in the poem. In my present state of creative malaise (AKA paralysis), I thought it would tear my brain in two. But I tried and all it tore was my heart.

Her Hand Still on His Heart

She was the first one,
back when his armor still shone,
as did the chains that
always dragged him back home.
But for a while,
he held her in his hand,
and she held his,
almost leading him to her promised land.
But promises cut two ways,
like a broadsword drawn.
And swung like a gate,
in two pieces hearts can be sawn.
You can live a long time
on half a heart;
just seems so much longer
when she still holds the other part.

That Nothing We Shared

I wish we could talk,
just talk,
but then I realize
talking always
got in the way.
I’d say something
just to fill
the vacuum between us,
and since words
won’t carry across a vacuum,
you’d intuit in your way
that I’d said something
I never meant.
I never blamed you.
I don’t like blame.
Though, if I did,
I’d blame the vacuum,
the nothing we shared
which was everything.