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Tales told - a.k.a free reads > March 2016 writing - Silhouetted on Sky- Stories

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message 1: by Kaje (last edited Mar 07, 2016 07:05AM) (new)

Kaje Harper | 16521 comments Our writing prompt for this month is this lovely silhouette - who are these two people? Where are they going? How did they end up here together, at sunset, or sunrise, or on some other world...? Any length from haiku to novel - (if you're using more than one comment box in a row, please mark the end of your story somehow - like ###) Just keep it YA and LGBTQ.

Unleash your imagination.




message 2: by Kaje (last edited Aug 20, 2016 08:52AM) (new)


message 3: by Melvin (last edited Mar 09, 2016 05:23PM) (new)

Melvin Davis III (tr0isxheart) | 87 comments "It's done Roman. This is what's left of the world we knew before."

"What does that mean for us?"

"I'm not sure, we're just friends right?"

"Fr..Friends. Yeah. Right, just friends."
But i Love you. I love you. I'm so scared to tell you. I don't want to be your friend. I want to be everything you need. You're that to me .I just know I am not worthy of you.

"Hey. What are you thinking about?"

"nothing just... stuff.I can't believe how beautiful, this place is "

"So is the way you feel about me."

"Wait.what are you talking about?"

"I heard your heart ;loud and clear.It speaks volumes.Mine has always carried the same tune . I've always been afraid."

"So poetic, but cut the crap dude. Tell me .."
This can't be real.

" I read your mind, it's been happening a while now ,but because you've felt the exact same ; i assumed it was my own thoughts. It's peaceful in my head now. I'm no longer worried that i can't protect you.My thoughts aren't racing a mile per minute anymore,I can hear that it's actually you.So at least I know the other ability that I've inherited"
at your expense. I feel dumb for admitting this ,but you have to know.

"you were worried?"

"I feel obligated to keep you safe ,even if you can. I think anyone feels responsible for the one they're in love with."

"I....I Love you too. I just.. It scares me."
I think I'm going to pass out.Oh my Gosh he's listening. Stop talking to yourself . You're smile is beautiful; even if you are laughing at me for this.

Hey!Don't turn away . I'm sorry for laughing ; you're just so special. I have to admit, I can't imagine having dull moment with you. I need laughter in my future.

Just laughter?

"Yes,Laughter. along with your love."


message 4: by Kaje (new)

Kaje Harper | 16521 comments Melvin wrote: ""It's done Roman. This is what's left of the world we knew before."

"What does that mean for us?"
..."


Wow that is really cool - I like the layering of thoughts and conversation, and the sparseness and the sweetness.


message 5: by Wren (new)

Wren  (wrenreaders) You are my sun
A beacon of hope
All the things that I've done
Regrets fall away

You're the light in my dark
The sunrise to my sunset
You ignited a spark
And you're here to stay


message 6: by Kaje (new)

Kaje Harper | 16521 comments Wren (He or They) wrote: "You are my sun
A beacon of hope
"


<3 Thanks for sharing your poetry with us. Lovely.


message 7: by D.J. (new)

D.J. Jamison (dj_jamison) | 10 comments Hunters' Sacrifice
It was a beautiful sunset.
Large swaths of burnt orange and amethyst swept across the sky, and all I could think was: I hope it’s not our last.
Kevin faltered to a stop, breathing hard. His normally pale complexion was flushed a deep red from exertion and his long limbs trembled with exhaustion.
“I don’t know if I can keep going,” he said.
I wanted to tell him he could rest. I wanted to pull him close, and let him lean on me until his heart calmed and his breathing slowed. I wanted a of things, but I couldn’t have them.
Not if we wanted to survive.
“You want to be the their dinner?” I asked in a harsh tone. He flinched, and I hardened my heart against those wide blue eyes so full of fear. “They won’t stop, so neither can we.”
“But, I don’t hear anything. Just for a few minutes? Please?”
“No.”
I adjusted the pack on my back, attempting to ease the ache of straps digging into my flesh and the weight of supplies that grew heavier with every step. Without checking on Kevin, I started trudging down the mountainside.
He would follow. He’d follow, or he’d die.
Sometimes, it seemed as if I’d loved Kevin forever. Surely longer than our 17 years of life. Longer than the decades of hunts. Longer even than the war that prompted desperate villages to agree to sacrifice two adolescents every year to the Hunters who dwelled in the woods in exchange for peace.
The Hunters that were half fact and half myth and entirely a mystery.
Some said they were primitive men and women, raised in the woods as survivalists and trained in the art of hunting and tracking their prey, be it animal or human. Others said they were beasts, wild animals that hungered for flesh and could be appeased only by a sacrifice of fresh meat.
The most frightening rumor, though, was that they were a blend of man and beast, with the appetite of an animal and the intellect of a human.
Whatever they were, no sacrifice had ever returned to our village, or any of the others, as far as I’d heard.
But I wasn’t hopeless.
If we survived this, we would never return, either. I’d take Kevin far away, and I’d protect him from the people who forfeited our lives.
He’d never love me back. I’d come to terms with that a long time ago, even before I started pushing him ruthlessly, berating him cruelly if it would yield just one more step.
“We’re gonna die anyway,” he muttered behind me, as we stumbled our way through the trees.
I whirled on him and clutched his arms. “Shut up! You’re going to freaking live if it kills me, Kev. Just. Keep. Going.”
“I can’t!” he wailed, sagging in my grip. I had to release him or fall to the ground, too.
He collapsed in the dirt, between limbs covered in prickly pine needles that itched like the devil. He leaned back into a low-hanging bough and closed his eyes.
“Just leave me. You can make it, Aidan. You’re tough. I’m … not. Never will be.”
“Well, toughen up!” I demanded. “I’m not leaving, Kev. If you stay, I stay. If you die, I die.”
He groaned. “Why? You hate me, so … why?”
It shouldn’t have surprised me he believed that, yet it did. I loved him so hard I lived in terror he would see it shining out of my eyes, even as I said cutting, mean things to him to hide my feelings.
“I don’t hate you.”
He scoffed. “You told everyone I wet my pants in fear of the Hunters.”
His voice broke on the last word, and I winced. I’d had no idea he’d be facing the Hunters when I made that taunt years ago.
“We were just kids. I was a brat,” I said.
“You avoid me,” he pointed out. “When I walk into a room, you cross to the other side.”
I sighed. “What it does it matter now?”
“Because!” He shouted, working up a good fit of anger. “You make my life miserable!”
It was a relief to see his temper. The anger would pump adrenaline into his veins, and he’d find new stores of energy.
He lurched to his feet, adjusted his pack awkwardly and stomped past me. Smiling, I moved to follow, and he threw out his arm, nearly clothes-lining me.
“You go your way, and I’ll go mine.”
“Kev--”
“Don’t Kev me,” he growled. “Leave me the hell alone. I’ll either live or die on my own. I don’t need my last minutes to be with someone who can’t stand me.”
He pushed ahead, walking too fast. The sun had set while we argued, and this dense section of woods blocked out the few rays of light still fading in the sky.
“I don’t hate you,” I called. “Will you slow down?”
He stumbled over a fallen log, his hands flailed at his sides, and then he was gone.
My breath caught in my chest. “Kevin?” I called.
I strained to hear his voice, or some sign of his movement, as I hurried forward. The normally peaceful chirp of birds and the sighing of wind through tree limbs was anything but soothing now.
“Kevin!” I shouted again, even as my heart sank in my chest.
Ahead of me was the log that tripped him, and just beyond that, the crevice in the earth that had swallowed him.
I dropped to my knees at the edge, and peered down. It was darker than night at the bottom.
“Kev?” I called again. “Are you okay?”
I held my breath, praying to hear his voice once more, vowing to the Gods I’d tell him the truth about why I’d treated him so harshly, if only I got the chance. If only he lived.
“Ow. Oh Gods,” he groaned. Then a moment later, a loud shout: “Aidan? Are you out there? Aidan! I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Gods, I’m so sorry. Help me!”
“Kevin! I’m here! Are you hurt?”
He shuffled around, cursing and making pained noises.
“It’s too deep to climb out, but only by about a foot or so. So, um … 7 or 8 feet deep, I guess? I'm bruised, but fine. Do you have rope?”
No, I didn’t. But I wouldn’t leave him there. If I could get to the bottom, I could boost him to the top, and then hope I could figure out some handholds to climb out myself.
“Get back. I’m coming down.”
“Aidan, wait--”
I swung over the edge, extending my full length so I could drop only the couple of feet left to the bottom. The soil pulled loose in my hands, and I fell into the darkness.
It should have taken only seconds to hit the bottom, but it didn’t happen. I fell, and fell.
When I hit bottom, a sharp pain shot through my ankle and I collapsed with a shout of pain.
“Aidan?”His voice floated to me in the darkness.
It was damp and cool in the chasm -- and so dark I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.
A touch whispered over my arm, and I flinched from it before I realized it was Kevin’s hand.
“You okay?” He asked.
“Seven or 8 feet? Really?” I asked in a sharp tone, before I remembered my resolve to tell Kevin the truth. To be kinder.
He sucked in a breath. “Sorry. I tried to tell you before you jumped that it was a blind guess. I’m such a screw-up. No wonder you hate me.”
“I don’t hate you.”
He laughed humorlessly. “I’ve basically gotten us both killed. Of course, you do.”
Exasperated, I reached out a hand blindly, fumbling it over his face until I felt the shape of his cheek under my palm.
“Why do you think I wouldn’t leave you, Kevin?” I said.
“I don’t know.” He sounded confused. “That’s what I can’t understand.”
I sucked in a breath to tell him, but the words lodged in my throat. I had to tell him, though. I’d vowed to the Gods I would, and everyone knew a broken vow brought only the worst misfortune.
Of course, in our present situation, misfortune seemed a given.
I wasn’t sure I could handle Kevin’s rejection as my last memory of him before death. I wanted to remember him as I’d seen him every day of our childhood: a golden-haired, blue-eyed, vibrant angel.
He was slender and a little gangly, yet somehow still graceful in his movements, and though he thought he was weak, I’d watched him long enough to know he was resilient.
I admired him, though I worked hard every day not to show it.
“Aidan?”
Laughter rang above our heads, and twigs and pine needles crunched under feet.
I clapped a hand over his mouth, as I strained to listen. I hoped they’d pass us by, but I suspected this chasm was a trap meant to deliver us into their hands … or paws.
This was my fault. Had I honored my vow, we might have yet escaped.
A lamp swung out over the chasm, and light filtered down between the rocks to shine in my eyes.
“Hello, boys! Nice of you to join us!” a deep voice bellowed.
So, they weren’t beasts. It was yet to be seen if they were entirely men.
Quickly, frantically, I turned to Kevin. If I wanted us to survive the night, I had to honor my promise to the Gods and pray they took mercy on me.
“I love you,” I blurted. “I was a brat because I didn’t want you to know.”
And then, unable to face the horrified expression that would cross his face any second, I pressed my lips to his in a brief kiss.
My heart raced and my palms sweat and it wasn’t at all what I’d dreamt when I’d imagined kissing Kevin.
There was too much fear and shock in me. I barely registered the sensation of his lips against mine.
“Climb the rope,” the voice from above called, and a moment later thickly braided rope thumped against the wall at our sides.
I turned to inspect it, finding that it had a large loop at the end for raising a rider. Good. I didn’t think my arms, or Kev’s, could handle a tough climb.
Grabbing it, I turned to him. “You first. Climb in.”
He leaned on me as he raised first one leg, then the other and slid into the makeshift seat.
“Aidan …”
I shook my head. “Not now,” I said. “I only told you because I made a vow and I had to honor it.”
Tugging on the rope, I called up to the men. “He’s ready!”
Kevin slowly ascended the wall, and then the rope was tossed back down to me. I wasn’t sure we’d made the right choice to put ourselves into these men’s hands. We could have died naturally, together, of starvation or thirst. It might have been better than what was in store. But it wasn’t in me to give up so easily.
I adjusted the rope under me, and began the ascent.
Minutes later, I was on firm ground beside Kevin. I couldn’t look him in the eye, and my ankle throbbed with every step, but we weren’t dead yet.
“What will you do with us?” Kevin asked in a shaky voice.
“Same as always, kid. Don’t look so frightened. You’ll thank us when it’s over.”
“Are you going to eat us?” he blurted.
I turned stunned eyes on Kevin as he stared down the huge man before us. He was a brute, I saw now that I was free of the darkness. He was tall, at least 7 feet, with broad shoulders and muscled arms. His hair was curly and wild, sticking up in all directions, and a thick beard covered his face.
A feral smile split his face, and my hopes sank in my stomach like a stone. There was a beastliness to this man that couldn’t be coincidence.
“You hear that, Hart,” he said, with a deep laugh. His eyes sparkled over his sharp grin as he turned to another hulked-out man beside him. “They’re telling them we eat them for dinner now.”
“So, you don’t?”
“Gods no, boy.”
“So, you kill us then,” Kevin said flatly, and it hurt my heart to hear the acceptance in his tone.
Unable to help myself, I grabbed his hand and squeezed it tight. He didn’t look at me, but he didn’t pull away.
“Relax, boys,” Hart said, his tones more civilized than his partner’s. “We’re not going to harm you. Come, we’ll tell you everything once get back to camp. You two look like you could use a meal and a rest.”
We had no choice but to follow. Thankfully, the camp wasn’t far, but it was still agony on my sore ankle. Kevin fell back to one side, wrapping an arm around my waist to lend support, and Hart yanked me gracelessly to my feet whenever I tripped and fell.
“What could they want?” He asked quietly.
“I don’t know.”
“They don’t need to lie. They’ve already won.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “But let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth, huh? We’re still alive.”
He nodded, and we fell into silence.

(story continues in next post)


message 8: by D.J. (new)

D.J. Jamison (dj_jamison) | 10 comments We were hustled to the fireside, and situated on a fallen log. Bowls of soup were pressed into our hands, followed by cups of water that we gulped greedily, dehydrated after our panicked flight through the forest during the heat of the late afternoon.
There were a handful of people in the camp, women and men. Not all of them were so intimidating as the two Hunters who’d caught us, but there was a sort of wildness to them.
“Hart tells me you’ve been misled about your fate,” a young woman with dark hair and intense eyes said.
“There are a lot of rumors,” I said carefully. “About who you are and what you do with the sacrifices.”
“They would call it a sacrifice,” she scoffed. “We call it a gift.”
Kevin stirred beside me. “A gift?”
A note of hope crept into his voice, and I hoped it wouldn’t be shattered before the night’s end. I was glad to hear some emotion from him. That flat, numb tone had torn me to pieces.
“Let me tell you a story,” she said.
I noticed the other Hunters gathering around and settling in with bowls of soup, as if she were about to tell stories by the campfire for their enjoyment and not share with us our fate, whatever it might be.
Kevin’s hand crept into mind, and I held it tight, bracing for the truth at last.
“A century ago, there were hundreds of our kind in this forest. We kept to ourselves, mostly. The woods provided what we needed to survive, and we were happy enough. Then the Hunters came--”
“What? But you’re the Hunters!” Kevin blurted.
The woman’s eyes widened in surprise, and one of the men cursed loudly, angrily. My hand tightened on Kev’s in fear, but no one made a move to hurt us.
“They call us the Hunters?” She said, sounding astonished, then let loose a sharp laugh. “That just figures, doesn’t it?”
It was a rhetorical question, obviously, and she continued to the tale.
“The Hunters came, and they started killing us. No doubt you’ve heard enough about us to know that we aren’t like most humans. We can call our beasts from within, and change into beautiful creatures that thrive in the woods, hunting and playing. The Hunters started killing us, mostly for our furs, but sometimes just for sport. It went on for years, decades. We tried to hide, we tried to relocate deeper within the forest, but the damage was done. We had to fight back for our own survival.”
“The war started,” I said.
She nodded. “Yes. And, it went on for ages. We had a tactical advantage. Our beasts are excellent trackers--”
“And hunters,” Kevin injected.
Did he want them to rip him to shreds?
I tensed beside him and cast him a look that conveyed my wish for him to shut up.
“Yes, I suppose so,” she said. “In that way, perhaps their name for us makes sense. We began to hunt them. But we were disadvantaged by our dwindling numbers, and so the war went on year after year, decade after decade. Finally, we’d all had enough, and a truce was made.”
“Each village sacrifices two adolescents to a tribe of Hunters each year,” I said.
“Each village gives up two adolescents, yes. To join us,” she clarified. “We neared extinction during the war, and we’ve been trying to rebuild our population ever since. Once we reach a stable number, the villages will no longer contribute to our pool.”
I stared, stunned. In all of my speculations, I’d never considered that the village sacrifices might be joining the Hunters.
“You mean we’ll become like you?” Kevin asked.
“Yes.”
This time, I blurted the question. “But how?”
She waved a hand. “That is a long story, and it is quite late. You two need to rest. The transformation doesn’t come without a great deal of effort. Come, I’ll get you settled for the night.”
She stood and led us to a tent, complete with sleeping bags inside. At my astonished look, she cracked a grin.
“We’re not entirely animals, you know. This is just a temporary camp. We could sleep in our beast forms, and some of us will, but the rest of us want shelter from the elements.”
I nodded. “Thank you.”
Kevin and I crawled into our sleeping bags, close together in the small tent. I could hear his heavy sigh as we fully relaxed for the first time in nearly 12 hours.
“So, we’re not going to die,” Kevin murmured, mostly to himself.
“Looks that way.”
He cast a look my way. “Bet you’re regretting that confession right about now. Gonna go back to making my life miserable?”
I bristled. “I honored my vow, and we’re not dead,” I said shortly. “Hard to regret that.”
His hand landed on my shoulder and squeezed. “Aidan, I’m teasing.”
“It’s not a joke to me,” I said reluctantly.
He was right in a way. I hated that he knew my feelings, that he could use them against me. It felt like a weakness.
“Of course not. It’s just hard to believe,” he said.
I cleared my throat. “We don’t ever have to talk about this again, but I have to ask just once. Do you … I mean, do you want to--”
“No.”
“Oh.”
“I mean, not right now,” he clarified. “Right now, I still think you’re a jerk. And I’m still coming to terms with the whole not dying thing. Eventually, who knows? You did keep me alive, you and your vow to the Gods.”
He was teasing me again. I could hear it in his tone. He didn’t believe my vow had anything to do with our situation, and maybe he was right. But at least I wouldn’t have to face the idea that my cowardice had been our doom.
Kevin didn’t love me, didn’t want me. It was what I’d expected, and yet, he’d given me hope. Maybe, eventually he’d forgive the way I’d treated him while we were children. Maybe he’d come to love me in our new lives.
As men.
As Beasts.
As Hunters, giving new life to the packs that roamed these woods for centuries until our people came along to decimate them.
It was a sacrifice I was willing to make, especially with Kevin by my side.
###


message 9: by Kaje (new)

Kaje Harper | 16521 comments D.J. wrote: "We were ..."

Wow, that was cool, and different. I like your characters and their dynamic and that definitely could become a novel. <3 Thanks!


message 10: by D.J. (new)

D.J. Jamison (dj_jamison) | 10 comments Thank you!


message 11: by Jason (last edited Mar 25, 2016 08:40PM) (new)

Jason (jason_williams) | 732 comments I joined this group a few days ago. The Tales Told section is amazing, I really love reading everybody's work. I was inspired by this months prompt, so I figured I'd contribute.


Smiles & Cries
a short story

Chapter 1 - Doe, Dog, and Wasp

I knew how special their bond was. Colin loved him more than anything in his world, perhaps even me. He had been a part of Colin’s life for the better part of a decade. They were always together. I rarely saw one without the other. Charlie was with him the day we met in fact.

They had occupied the campsite next to my own, and had wandered over, no doubt curious at the sound of the ukulele I was strumming. I watched him approach, and with a stroke of inspiration, added my singing voice to the early evening air. I nodded at the tree stump next to me in invitation, as I continued to play and he sat down to my left.

I often played by the campfire for my own amusement, but I have to admit, that I was hoping to peak his interests when I removed my shirt and settled down with my instrument. When I saw him earlier that day at the water tap, his glowing smile greeted me with more warmth than the Hawaiian sun that beamed down on us. Not a typical smile, but genuinely sincere and contagious. Something that I would have thought foreign from the interactions of strangers.

“Beautiful day,” he said casually. “Yes.” I replied, realizing almost immediately how simple I must have sounded, surely this was what precipitated his smile to grow a little, as if he knew I was taken back by the sight of something stunning before me, a magical doe, perhaps, that I might frighten away with too many words. “Uh, Indeed, it most certainly is.” I quickly added with a twinge of embarrassment, surprised this time by how adult this reply had sounded. I may as well have added a British accent to that last one for good measure. Rather than make a fool of myself any further I made my way to the tap, as he nodded bye.

No straight guy would look at another boy with such radiance, I thought to myself. Did he see me with the same sense of knowing, I wondered? But this musing was quickly brushed away by thoughts of his beauty.

He was short, maybe five and a half feet at most, a trait I’ve always adored, an adoration that my close friends would often tease me of, being unable to relate to, I imagine. His complexion was lightly bronzed from the start of summer, but not quite as deep as my own native tan. His eyes, the lightest hue of brown, bordering on yellow, shared his sunny disposition. But what struck me nearly silent when he spoke in greeting, was the glowing smile, like he had just won the lottery, or rather like he knew the ultimate secret to the universe. There was an honesty about it that I can’t recall ever knowing of another.

He looked to be slightly younger than me, maybe seventeen or so. I watched him carry his water pail down the narrow path that led down to the camping areas, and was delighted to see him setting up camp at the site immediately next to my own.

After returning to my spot, I found myself stealing glances at him while he worked to make the space more comfortable. Busying himself with mundane necessities, staking his tent, unpacking supplies, and gathering firewood; I don’t know why I found it so fascinating. Maybe it was because I was used to being the only single camper when I visited these grounds. Usually families or couples occupied the neighboring spaces. I looked up again when I heard him start to hum a song I knew, but couldn’t quite place. Definitely a welcome change from the cacophony a family made upon arrival.

A few moments later I watched a wasp float down to his shoulder. My eyes widened, in expectation of what was likely to come next. But I was surprised by his reaction. Instead of swatting it away, he chose to address it as you might a younger brother. “Hey there little buddy.” I heard him say, smiling incredulously to myself, and shaking my head at his foolishness. “Ouch! Okay you got me, time to go home now.” He pinched the shoulder area of his shirt and flicked it lightly upwards to coax the wasp away. “Un--believable.” I whispered to myself, as I continued to watch this fascinating creature.

Camping, like music is one of the ways I choose to escape the hustle and bustle of life. Solitude and nature never fail to wash away the stress of the world, a world in which I had always struggled to find any sense of deep meaning or belonging. I always felt more comfortable out here anyway. It didn’t make sense to call these trips getaways; to me they were more like returning home.

At this particular moment, however, it wasn’t solitude that I longed for, but rather to share in the company and conversation of the charming guy sitting next to me, who seemed impervious to the sting of a wasp, who with a simple smile, bewildered me so completely earlier that day.

My wish was suddenly granted when my song came to a close. “That was amazing! Where’d you learn to play like that?” he asked. “Oh, every native Hawaiian family has a resident ukulele player. My father was ours, he taught me when I was young. I’m Kai by the way.” I said. “Nice to meet you. I’m Colin.” He half-stood and reached out his hand to me. “And who’s this then?” I added, embracing his delicate hand, referring to the mass of jet-black fur sitting next to him. “Oh, that’s Charlie. I always bring him with me on camping trips, If I don’t he pouts when I get back home.” We chuckled together, as Charlie cocked his head at us, as though he knew we were discussing him. “And does Charlie like Salmon? I was just about to start dinner, if you guys would like to join me?” I asked, as I unpacked several salmon filets from a cooler.

Colin seemed reluctant at first, but I could tell it was more out of not wanting to impose, than anything else. “My mom packed way more than I needed, she always does.” I added, after noticing his hesitation. Colin looked over at Charlie who was licking his chops in the direction of the foil wrapped fish. Colin shrugged. “Okay then, I guess we will. Otherwise I’ll be eating a sandwich by myself, while Charlie sneaks over to have salmon with you.” He laughed, as I set about prepping the makeshift grill.

Before long, the succulent smell of grilled salmon and sweet corn filled the air, and we fell into the typical banter of conversation amongst new friends. “Is this something you and Charlie do often? Camping that is.” I asked. “Once a month, although we missed last month, because I forgot to reserve a spot. We made the drive up anyway but they were already booked. I live in Hilo, which is less than an hour away, so it was no big deal, we still got to hike a little.” Colin said. My stomach leaped at this news. “Hilo! You live in Hilo? That’s where I’m from!” I said, not hiding my enthusiasm. “No kidding! What are the odds?” he said.

“So, do you always camp alone? No girlfriend back in Hilo?” he added a little too quickly, making me chuckle. I watched him closely before giving my answer. I already knew he was gay, he certainly had the feminine qualities that appealed to me and that I looked for in a guy. But I could tell with his question that he was unsure about me. “No. No girlfriend, and I’m all the better for it. But sadly to say, no boyfriend either.” His eyes widened a little, and the smile from water tap earlier that day returned.

It’s sad that we have to play this game I thought to myself, beating around the bush to find out if each other is gay. It’s a game the hetero world takes for granted, but one we must occasionally endure, to find companionship.

Charlie walked over to me and started licking my arm. “Charlie’s thanking you for dinner, I think.” Colin said, cheerfully. “I think he needs some exercise before bed” he added, as he pulled a miniature tennis ball from his pocket. Charlie was clearly excited at the sight of this little ball. Colin reached back and tossed it in the direction of their campsite, a dark blur bounding after it. He returned to his master, showing off the ball proudly in his mouth.

After a couple more throws, Charlie brought the ball to me instead. “Careful, once you do it, he’s gonna expect you to every time.” Colin warned, as I started to retrieve it from him. After ignoring his warning, I threw the ball as hard as I could, sending it flying well past their campsite, Charlie darting excitedly towards it. “He’s going to love you, these next couple of days. Feeding him salmon and playing fetch.” Colin said with a grin. “I figure its the best way to charm his daddy” I joked. “Oh, you already did that with your little guitar.” He replied. “It’s called a ukulele.” I corrected with a chuckle, as I picked it up to play him one more.


message 12: by Jason (new)

Jason (jason_williams) | 732 comments Chapter 2 – Loss & Comfort

Colin talked about Charlie constantly, and almost always with the same majestic smile across his sweet face. A face that had always seemed to me blithe and radiant, even when mildly upset, his expressions somehow betrayed his feelings of the moment. It was a quality that I had come to admire over the two years we’ve been together.

I’m reminded of the time we left the cinema, holding hands as we made our way back to Colin’s car. A group of teenagers caught sight of us as we passed by. “Ugh, Look at the faggots!” one of them exclaimed. I have a short temper when I comes to that sort of thing, and was about to turn and accost them, when I heard Colin say “That was random.” before giggling. I was beginning to learn that nothing seemed to get him down.

So when I arrived at his place, to find him waiting outside for me, I felt the pit of my stomach drop into nothingness at the sight of despair, expressed not only in his face, but from his entire body.

I should have expected this. He had called me thirty minutes earlier with the bad news. “Charlie’s Dead!” he cried into the phone. His voice shaking and hoarse, and punctuated with many wails and sobs. “Oh no. What happened?” I asked tentatively. “I w wo woke up this morning, to take him outzzzide, and he w wo wouldn’t come. So, I went to fa find him in his doggy bed. And I knew something was wrong, cuz he wasn’t moving. And he’s g gg gone!” I couldn’t help but share a portion of his sorrow. “Oh, baby I’m so sorry. Listen, I’m on my way, I’ll get there as quick as I can. Okay?” I assured him. “Okay.” He said weakly, as I leaped from the couch, snatched up the keys to my Jeep, and prayed I wouldn’t get caught speeding.

When I pulled into his driveway, he was sitting on the entryway steps, knees pulled tight to his chest with his arms wrapped around his legs. He was rocking back and forth, comforting himself as you might an injured child. When he looked up and caught sight of me pulling into the parking space nearest to him, I saw the full measure of his sorrow. His face was covered in a mixture of dried tear tracks, layered with fresh ones. He stood and wiped his eyes on the sleeve of favorite green tee shirt.

Of course the loss of a pet would upset anyone, but Charlie was more than a pet to Colin. He was family, the only family he had for the past six years; both his mother and father having died in a car accident when he was thirteen. Charlie was all he had, and also the last real connection he had to his parents.

He needed me now, more than ever, and I needed to be strong for him. I love this boy, and it pains me to see him in such a state. He brought so much happiness to my world, a joy I never thought I would find before I met him. Now it was my turn to fulfill a role often overlooked, yet expected of a loving partner, to comfort, as he one day may have to do for me.

I didn’t stop to remove the keys from the ignition before I got out to meet him. I didn’t stop for anything in fact. I wrapped him in my arms as he laid his wet eyes into my shoulder, crying away as I squeezed tighter than I would have under normal circumstances, feeling that this tightness would express my sympathy for his pain. I tried to think of the right words to comfort him, but ultimately decided that remaining silent was best.

We stood there without speaking, bound tightly and swaying as one, in the most miserable of slow dances. After some time, his sobs faded, until eventually he looked up at me, eyes brimming with tears, and cheeks flushed from emotion. In his mournful gaze, I sensed he was about to lose it again. I loosened my embrace and put my palms on the sides of his neck, lightly caressing just beneath his ears with my thumbs, I bent forward and placed a steady, gentle kiss to his forehead. I felt him exhale deeply, and I knew this did the trick. He was still in pain of course, but I was with him now. He knew I would be there to help him get through this. And it was enough, at least for now.


message 13: by Jason (last edited Mar 25, 2016 08:50PM) (new)

Jason (jason_williams) | 732 comments Chapter 3 – Ukulele Eulogy

The mood was still somber a week later as I packed the Jeep for our drive. I knew this was going to be hard for him. But it was something he needed to do to find some sense of closure to this ordeal. I certainly thought it was appropriate, but I wasn’t so sure that he was ready. “You know we don’t have to do this right now? We can wait a few weeks if you want?” I said, when I noticed him staring blankly at the small tennis ball he was holding. It had only been two weeks since we had taken Charlie on what would turn out to be his final hiking trip. And I thought maybe it was too soon to rekindle those recent memories. “No, I’m fine. I want to get it over with.” Collin replied, as he climbed into the passenger seat, putting an end to my questioning but not my misgivings.

I followed his lead, after all, this was his expedition, my purpose on this trip was to provide comfort. Within minutes we were heading up Mamalahoa highway, to our favorite hiking spot, Waipio Lookout.

So many memories of the past two years came flooding back to me. We passed an old service station and I was reminded of the time we stopped to let Charlie out for a nature call. I laughed out loud at the thought of us chasing him around the field nearby for fifteen minutes, when he caught sight of a couple of chickens he was determined to terrorize.

Later, when we pulled off the highway, I subconsciously glanced in the rear view mirror, expecting to see Charlie whining with excitement, as he always did when we got close. He loved the outdoors just as much as we did. And although I knew our ritualistic trips would continue, I couldn’t help but feel sad that Charlie wouldn’t be a part of them anymore.

As we turned down the road that led to the trails, Colin let out a muffled sniffle. I reached over and grabbed his hand and squeezed. I held his hand until we pulled into our destination, and parked. He turned to me, with watery eyes. “Thank you Kai, for coming with me, it means a lot to me” He mustered after a moments pause. “Of course. I want to be here with you. I love you.” I assured him. “I love you too.” He said, flinging his arms around me. I rubbed his back as he regained his composure. “Are you ready?” I asked. “No, but let’s go anyway.” Colin replied, warily.

The weather thankfully didn’t match our mood. It was gorgeous. The sun was beaming, but it wasn’t too hot out, even though it was already midday by the time we arrived. “We should eat before the hike.” I suggested, pulling on my backpack, and taking his hand as we made our way to our usual picnic table at the edge of the trail entrance.

We ate in silence. It was quieter than I can remember. Of course, it was a Tuesday and this was one of the less used trails, due to the fact that it was one of the more grueling in the area. But it was our favorite, because of the breathtaking view of the ocean on the far side of the valley that rewarded your hardship near the end of the trail.

I glanced at Colin to see him looking into the trail, smiling slightly. Perhaps, he was revisiting a happy memory with Charlie. It warmed my heart to see him smile again. The same enchantment of his, that time and time again, reminded me of just how lucky I really was. It affected me now, with the same power it did the very moment I first laid eyes on him.

Emotion momentarily took me, and felt a tear fall from my left eye, as I grinned at his smile’s return. I looked away, and wiped my eyes covertly, not wanting him to see me cry. It wasn’t out of embarrassment that I did so, but rather not wanting to provoke his own emotions.

To me, he never looked flawed, even with bed-head in the mornings. He was beautiful, even when he was sad. But he was positively stunning when he smiled.

I got up and walked over to his side of the table, threw a leg over one side of the bench, and sat down, pressing my chest against his back, reaching my left arm over his shoulder, and my right around his waist. I held him softly as we listened to the wind in the trees, and the call of some sort of tropical bird that was roosting nearby out of sight. We must have sat for an hour like this, which suited me just fine, but eventually he turned to me and said, “I’m ready.” We cleared the table of our refuse and made our way slowly and with solemn hearts, up the trail, hand in hand.

The hike was still grueling, even though we took our time. We took a break halfway up to catch our breath. The exertion, was a therapy that Colin would likely benefit from, considering what was to come. We reached the crest of the hill that marked our usual stopping point, and caught sight of the horizon. The deep blue ocean before us, streaked with flashes of orange from the setting sun, seemed so calm at this distance.

“Look!” Colin cried out, after a sharp intake of breath. I stepped over to where he stood, trying to find what had caught his eye. In a small patch of bare earth, on a hill otherwise covered in grass, were two small paw prints. They had been preserved by the dry spell, but I was still amazed the wind hadn’t yet eroded them. “I can’t believe they’re still here.” I said. “I guess this is the place then” he said, removing his pack and crouching down.

I stepped back to give him room as he reached in his pack and removed the surprisingly small box that contained Charlie’s ashes. I watched with concern as he hesitated. Would he be able to do this? I wondered. But then he carefully opened the top, and unzipped the bag contained within. I could only imagine how hard this simple task must have been for him.

He upended the box slightly, and sprinkled the ashes over the spot where Charlie had once stood. After putting the box away, he retrieved the miniature tennis ball from a pocket, and placed it in the deeper of the two paw tracks. He slowly got to his feet, and stood sentinel, looking down at Charlie’s final resting place.

With his head bowed I saw him start to cry. My first instinct was to go to him, but he needed to get this out. It was part of the healing process. Instead of embracing him, I pulled the ukulele from my pack and for a moment was at a loss as to what to play. Ukuleles aren’t really meant for memorial songs, so I decided to play Colin’s favorite. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

As I began to play, Colin lifted his head a little, turning his ear in my direction, but without facing me. I put all my heart and soul into that song, determined to do this moment justice. I looked over see Colin close his eyes, breathing deeply. I continued into the last chorus, with my own tears now. And as I finished, he turned to face me. And though his eyes were still swimming, he wore the most majestic, beautiful smile he had ever shown me. A smile that spoke words in unison with his voice. “I love you Kai” he said, rushing forward to embrace me.

###


message 14: by Mel (new)

Mel (melleach) Wren (He or They) wrote: "You are my sun
A beacon of hope
All the things that I've done
Regrets fall away

You're the light in my dark
The sunrise to my sunset
You ignited a spark
And you're here to stay"


Beautiful, Wren.


message 15: by Tully (new)

Tully Vincent (tully_vincent) | 78 comments OMGosh, Jason.

As a dog owner who lost one dog just last month... and who lived in HI for five years that is beautiful. Heck, its beautiful anyway. And I loved Israel.

Thanks for sharing.


message 16: by Jason (new)

Jason (jason_williams) | 732 comments Tully wrote: "OMGosh, Jason.

As a dog owner who lost one dog just last month... and who lived in HI for five years that is beautiful. Heck, its beautiful anyway. And I loved Israel.

Thanks for sharing."


Thanks, Tully. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun working on it.


message 17: by Kaje (new)

Kaje Harper | 16521 comments Jason wrote: "...
The mood was still somber a week later as I packed the Jeep for our drive. ..."


Aw, sad and sweet. What a lovely story, thank you.


message 18: by Kaje (last edited Mar 30, 2016 07:27AM) (new)

Kaje Harper | 16521 comments When the Sky is For Sale

I stopped and looked out across the valley. Behind me, Jae said, “Wow.” One word, filled with a day's worth of wonder.

The chrono behind my ear beeped. Damn. The last thing I wanted was to be reminded of how short our time here was. I clicked my jaw fast three times, to shut it off. Responsibilities and duties were waiting for me, back Inside, but I had one day and I wasn't going to waste a moment of it.

“We could go a little higher,” I said, pointing left. “This isn't quite the summit.”

“It's high enough.” Jae stood silently, just watching as the colors of the sunset grew more and more brilliant.

While he watched the sky, I watched him. The light reflected in his eyes, tinting their dark depths with echoes of amber and violet. His lips curved, parted, as he drank in the beauty of that sky. I wanted to touch him, but more than that, I wanted to give him more of this— a day in the open, under that clear arch of blue, with plants that could be crushed underfoot to release the green scent, and no EnviroWatch monitor swooping down on him. A day with breezes that didn't carry the scent of ozone and MeadowGreen or whatever this month's flavor was. A day to stretch his legs and hike uneven ground, drinking in the renewing beauty of this planet.

Eventually he turned to me. “I'll never forget this.”

“I hope this is the first of many trips Out for us.”

“I won't count on it.” He turned his face up, letting the wind play with his hair. “How many people get even one trip like this, let alone more than one?”

Rich people do. I'd been here a dozen times. More than a dozen. Every birthday since the first time Dad asked me what I wanted most. Middle school graduation. When I won the Science Fair last year. All my Dad had to do was put in a request, and a pass Outside, with transportation all arranged, would pop up on my wristscreen.

But for people like Jae, whose mom was a third level tech, and whose dad actually did labor? Yeah, not so often.

The sun sank lower. Mellow light washed the clouds, gilding the edges.

I said carefully, “You could marry us. Nina would like it too.”

I saw him blink. For a moment, hope and want showed in his eyes. Then the shutters went down. “Was that a proposal? Seriously?”

“Yeah.” I blushed. “I guess I'm not much of a romantic. I hoped the setting would make up for it.”

“Right. You and Nina have been married what, a month now? And she'd be happy to have you already add a third?”

“She would,” I insisted. “We planned it all along. The Fruitful marriage first.” That was required of us if our genetics were a correct match, when we turned eighteen. “The Heart marriage soon after. You, Jae. You're my heart.” Law and custom allowed it, as long as we could afford it. And I could.

Jae shook his head. “I won't leave the tech levels of the Deep and move into the Strata. Not even to marry you.” He turned to me, silhouetted against the brilliance. “Now if you and Nina wanted to move down with me, into the lower levels?”

“My father would disinherit me.”

“Oh dear, you might have to work for a living.”

I winced. “Is that what you think? That I'm afraid of work? But I have Nina to think of now, and maybe a baby one day. It'd be irresponsible—”

“Right. You tell yourself that.”

“You liked my money well enough when we ate at Indy's, and went to the vids. It bought us this pass to come Out!” I knew it was the wrong thing before the words left my mouth.

He pressed his lips together hard.

“Well?” I couldn't help pushing, rubbing it in. “Look at that sky. Marry Nina and me, and our child could come out here every year. She could see the planet we live on. She could have the best. Tell me you prefer to live without this.” Without me?

His sigh stays with me, even now. I think it was the saddest sound I've ever heard. “When you understand why I have to go back down where my family lives, and not come Out here until everyone can, then ask me to marry you again.”

“You like being a martyr.” I meant that to sting, and he winced.

“You like being rich.”

I dropped the pack off my shoulder, and tapped the com behind my ear. I didn't even bother to subvocalize. “This is Dan Troy. We're ready for pick-up now.” After all, why wait? I'd planned to propose, and kiss him, maybe celebrate right here at the roof of the world. But he'd thrown it all back in my face. So why drag it out?

~Ten minutes ETA. the bot said.

We stood there, side by side, not touching. Definitely not kissing. The sun dropped below the horizon. The last rays slid off the mountaintop above us, and were gone.

“So beautiful,” he said, as if we hadn't just fought to the death. “To think the whole world once looked like this, not just a few small preserves.”

“It will again,” I reminded him. “That's what project Terraform is about.”

“I hope you're right. That this won't always be a rich boy's playgound.”

I swallowed down bitterness. “If you feel like that, why'd you even come with me today?”

He turned to me. We both flinched, as the hum of the transport rose, approaching from the valley below. But he held out his hand, and touched mine. “For one last memory. One last chance. Come to the Deeps with me?”

“Stay in the light with me?”

I don't know who began the kiss, but I'm sure we both tasted the desperation in it. A second, maybe two. Mashed lips and tangled tongues, hands urgently gripping, his hair against my face, his hip brushing mine. But when we stepped apart, nothing had changed.

“Stay with me.” I hadn't meant to beg, but my voice had a life of its own. “Work change from above, if you really want to. I'll even sponsor you into a clerk position with the Council. You could make a difference.”

“Come to the Deeps. See why change has to happen, not just on a whim to please a strange lover.”

I huffed. “I'm not stupid. I know life isn't fair. I'm aware that I have more than my share of good things.”

“You know it.” He tapped me on the chest, over my heart. “Come find me when you feel it here.”

I feel you there. I wasn't going to ask again, though. I loved him, had for years now, but he'd always been like this, too serious, too urgent. He'd had no off switch, from the first time we studied together for math. Always pushing, protesting, agitating. I'd hoped marrying me would keep him safe. He was eighteen now too. Some of the things he'd done, previously written off as pranks would lead to harsher punishment now. It was a dangerous thing, to be a revolutionary.

The bot crested up over the ridge, blowers whining. It hovered, and landed beside me. Without another word, he opened one door, swung his pack off and in, climbed into the seat, and fastened his harness. All I could do was get in the other side. I stared out the front window as the bot rose, dipped and began a long swooping descent into the valley. Night was falling. In the deepening shadows, I couldn't make out Jae's face. Probably just as well.

We followed the curve of the riverbed south. Only a dozen miles on, the green hillside began to turn grey. Gaps appeared in the lush undergrowth. Boulders rose, rough and bare, and the ground turned to ash. Twenty miles out, and we were into the badlands. The jetflow of the bot stirred up the dry ground, and a few fragments pinged the underside as we eased lower, slower, following the stone-marked trail. Then in the mountainside ahead, the door to Inside slid open.

I felt more than saw Jae turn, looking back at the sky, the fading light, the first faint stars. I know he was still looking behind us when the big metal door slid shut.

We passed through the airlock, and into the lighted hover-space of the bot-bay. A hiss of steam scoured the outside of the bot for a fraction of a second. The referred heat flashed over our bodies too, not dangerous, but sudden and shocking. Jae grunted in surprise. Then the bot skimmed down to the landing floor, settled, and unlatched the doors.

“Welcome home,” I said flatly.

“Thanks for the ride.” He looked at me for a long moment, then swung out, grabbed the pack he'd brought on our non-engagement hike, and strode away.

“Wait!” I scrambled out, staggering as my arm caught in the harness strap. “Jae!”

He didn't look back. Didn't pause even for a moment. Passing though the archway to the tube system, he stepped onto the slow walkway band, then hopped to the fast one beyond it, and was gone. The moving sidewalk whisked him off, into the crowds and the anonymous paths of the Deep.

Follow him! There was an instant when I could have done it. Then, to my left, my uncle said, “Hey, Dan, how was your trip Out? As pretty as ever?”

He'd pulled strings to get it for me. I turned. “Even better. The fresh air was great.”

“And your young man? Did he like it?”

“Experience of a lifetime,” I said.

“Yeah. Those techs don't get Out much.”

I turned my head to stare at the spot where Jae had disappeared. In all our years as friends, and then lovers, from early teens till now, I'd never followed him down there. He came to me, never the reverse.

“Nina called,” Uncle continued. “She had a couple of things for you to get at the store. And some question about the spare room? She can explain it when you get home, I guess.”

“Oh. Of course. Thank you.” I loved Nina too. She was my wife. I had no right to think about disappearing into the Deeps after some guy who didn't want me more than he wanted his political slogans. “I'll check my messages and head home.”

“Will your aunt and I see you for weekend dinner?”

“Yes,” I said dutifully. “SixthDay. Nineteen o'clock.”

“Well, go on then. See you at work in the morning.” He clapped me on the shoulder and winked at me. “Got to earn those perks, right?”

I didn't answer. The taste of bitter loss filled my throat, as I turned for home.

***

I planned the celebration for my forty-third birthday. Not because there was anything special about forty-three. That just happened to be a convenient date from when my Outside-Rights bill passed the Council's advisory board. Ten years after the riots. Four years after the new solar array went up. Thirteen years after Nina finally gave us a living child.

She and my daughter were waiting at home. There'd be cake, and sweet wine, in an hour or two. But for now, I stood here, on the landing floor of bot-bay sixteen, and sipped at my bottle of water. Off to my left, the random number board lit up. The first number up would give some lucky citizen a day Outside. Any citizen. It was only fair.

A big glowing 764 came up on the board. The little gathered group watching applauded. No one screamed with joy, which was natural. Odds were that 764 was working down below, or sleeping. A message would wing to their implant hold-box. ~You have been randomly selected for a day-trip Outside. To claim your trip, set up a meeting date with your guide at bot-bay sixteen…

The crowd dispersed. I stood there, waiting. It would be twelve hours before the next random draw. And another after that. One for each bay, twice every day. Enough to keep the bots and guides busy. Hopefully enough to keep the techs happy and prevent another riot, while the work of reform went on. I waited.

A slim dark figure stepped off the slowest walkway and came through the arch toward me. He hadn't changed as much as I had. Still a little shorter. Still with that jet black hair and dark eyes. My hair had a trace of grey, and my middle was definitely thicker. Time had been kind to Jae. Or not, because when he stopped in front of me, there were deep lines carved in his face. Still, he smiled.

“You finally did something good, Dan.”

“Thanks for the commentary on twenty-five years of public service.”

“Twenty-four. You screwed around for a year first.”

I couldn't deny it. I shrugged.


message 19: by Kaje (last edited Mar 30, 2016 07:28AM) (new)

Kaje Harper | 16521 comments Jae looked around him, smiled at the board. “Hey, my number's 763. I almost got another trip Out.”

“I'll still take you. Any time. As supervisor I still get the rich-boy perks.”

His gaze cut back to my face. “This is weird, isn't it?”

“Yeah. I wasn't sure you'd come.”

“I wasn't sure either. Not till I stepped off the band.”

“Did you miss me? Ever?” I bit my lip because I'd vowed not to talk about that.

“Every day.” He sighed. “We were young and stubborn. You should've come for a visit. I should've taken that clerkship. We might have changed the world.”

“We're doing that now. Representative Jae.” He'd won in the last election. The next time I sat in Council, he'd be there representing his district.

“We could've done it faster.” He grinned, and there was the sparkle of the boy I'd known.

“How's your wife?” I asked, because rubbing salt in the wound of missing him had become a decades-long habit. “Anara? I've seen pictures. She's lovely.”

“And kind, and smart. Yes. How's Nina?”

“Happy. Even though our daughter is in the terrible teens. Her Heart-Husband is a good guy too." I was happy sharing the home-place with him, although we were only casual friends.

Conversation stuttered and died. I'd never contracted a Heart-marriage. I knew he hadn't either.

I waved at the board, unable to delay any longer. “So now every citizen has a real chance at going Out. Is it enough?”

“It's a symbol. A powerful one. But just a tiny beginning.”

“I know that.” I'd spent years moving from wealthy playboy to the champion of the Deeps. “But is it enough for you? To forgive me?”

Jae took a step back. “Tell me you didn't do all this just on my behalf.”

“No. Of course not! It was the right thing to do. But I thought. Maybe. If I did it right.”

“Oh, Dan.” He reached out and touched my arm. “I forgave you long ago.”

Our eyes met. Two middle-aged men, long married. Strangers really. And yet it was like a magnetic North finding its South. We stepped forward at the same time. Our lips touched, so lightly I might not have felt it, except it chimed through me like a bell.

Jae tipped his head back and looked up at me. “You think they still have that tofushake at Indy's?”

“You think they still have Indy's?”

“I checked.” He grinned. “The cafe's still there. I didn't look at the menu.”

“We might wander that way.”

“Talk for a bit. Get caught up.”

I bent and kissed him, better this time, and his mouth smiled against mine. I said, “Stick with me, Jae. This time you will convince me to change the world.”

####


message 20: by Jason (last edited Mar 30, 2016 08:51AM) (new)

Jason (jason_williams) | 732 comments Kaje wrote: "Jae looked around him, smiled at the board. “Hey, my number's 763. I almost got another trip Out.”

“I'll still take you. Any time. As supervisor I still get the rich-boy perks.”

His gaze cut back..."



As always, another great short Kaje. Love truly is eternal.

That one reminded me of one of my favorite films, Gattaca. Although it's not a love story, it's a science fiction dealing with an unjust class system of society. A cry rivers when I watch it.

Thanks for sharing that one.


message 21: by Kaje (new)

Kaje Harper | 16521 comments :D

I'll have to save that title on my "need to watch" list.


message 22: by Riina (new)

Riina Y.T. (ibxxxriina) | 469 comments Melvin, DJ, thank you for those shorties! And Wren, I always enjoy your poems :)

Justin, that was so touching! Loved it a lot. It made me cry a little.
I hope to read more from you in the future :)

Kaje, that brought me tears too! Lovely story :)

It's always fun to see just how different everyone's story is!


message 23: by Mtsnow13 (last edited Apr 03, 2016 09:02PM) (new)

Mtsnow13 | 13 comments Kaje wrote: "Jae looked around him, smiled at the board. “Hey, my number's 763. I almost got another trip Out.”

“I'll still take you. Any time. As supervisor I still get the rich-boy perks.”

His gaze cut back..."


Mel, Wren, DJ, Jason.. Thank you all for sharing your words. Such a gift you all have.

Kaje, This one made me a bit sad. Such a waste of years. But that they still do have each other. Thank you for the emotion. *sniff


message 24: by Kaje (new)

Kaje Harper | 16521 comments I love how different all the takes on this are. :)


message 25: by Jason (new)

Jason (jason_williams) | 732 comments That's what I loved about this prompt. Silhouettes are in a way ink blots. People see so many different tales in them. The imagination can branch out like fractals sometimes.


message 26: by Riina (new)

Riina Y.T. (ibxxxriina) | 469 comments Um... I don't have a title for this one. It was a bit of a spur of the moment thing :)

- UNTITLED -

“Do you think we’ll ever find somewhere safe?” I gripped my friend’s hand tighter. My breath was coming fast and walking a straight line was a struggle, my legs were all shaky. A quick look over my shoulder told me the dark forest was finally far away enough that I dared to raise my voice and keep my eyes open from now on. Trying not to fall behind with my eyes closed was too tricky. I’d tripped more often than I can count.

“There must be a village behind this mountain. Or the next,” Joshua said, his voice barely above a whisper. I wondered if he too had been spooked by the forest. I didn’t think so, he was always so brave, not batting an eye at whatever we had to face.

When I looked at him, opening my mouth to protest, he shushed me with a finger to the lips. He knew as well as I that we hadn’t yet encountered neither another human being nor building of any kind.

What were the odds that he’d be finally right and there was a town just around the corner?

I didn’t want to get my hopes up, not anymore.

We’ve been walking for days, our food rations were dwindling fast and at this point I was afraid we’d never get anywhere. Everything up here looked the same to me. Grass, hills, trees, more grass, hills and more trees. And, of course, there were now huge mountains ahead of us. Great.

My heart sank further into the ground than I’d thought possible, making my chest ache so much I just wanted to sit down, pass out and never wake up again.

“I know it’s been a long journey Sammy. Everything's real shitty right now, but I know it will get better. It has to.” He pulled me against his side and squeezed my wobbly body, knowing I was just one breath away from losing myself in tears again. He always seemed to know.

“I will keep you safe and make sure we’ll find somewhere nice where we can settle down. A village or town with kind people, lots of animals and nice houses and many shops,” he whispered close to my ear. His hand patted my back. “I’ll find work and then buy you lots of apples and bread and cheese." He paused and squeezed my body tighter. “I'll get you more food than you can eat."

Joshua held me so tight, I could barely breathe. I found I didn't mind.

“I’ll work too,” I mumbled against his dirty jacket. The worn fabric rough against my skin. Ugh, I wanted to have a bath. So, so bad!

“Of course you will,” Joshua said with a passion and confidence I didn't feel. “But first you have to get better. Your arm’s broken, Sammy. Let it heal all good and well."

He sounded so sure of it, certain we'll be perfectly fine some day, soon even. His confidence kind of hurt, right in the center of my chest. It was an awful feeling, so new to me. So scary.

“I don’t want to be your problem.”

“You’re not.” Joshua shook me gently until I looked at him. It took a lot of effort to meet his eyes and not drop my gaze immediately. “You’re my friend and friends look out for each other."

Especially when there’s no one else left. He didn’t need to say the words, we both knew the reality of it. It would only hurt more if we’d talk about it, like a deep deep cut into our open wounds. After the first night we’d promised to have each other’s back and not to talk about what happened unless there was a good reason for it. Unless we had to. A day or time I didn’t want to imagine.

We would never forget even if that day never came. It kept haunting us at night. When everything around us falls dark and quiet our thoughts and memories make sure we’d never forget.

My head dropped, keeping my eyes to the ground. After a long, weird pause I mumbled, “Will there be chocolate you think?”

“More than you can eat!” Joshua promised. His hand touched my arm and I looked up at him, my long bangs falling into my eyes.

“How do you know?”

“Well.” He shrugged. “If there’s no chocolate, I’ll make you some damn chocolate myself.”

My lips twitched. “Yeah?”

“Promise.”

How a single word could cause my heart to flutter so awfully fast was a total mystery to me.

“I didn’t…I didn’t mean the chocolate. I meant all of it. How can you know we’ll find all that? Work. A nice place to stay.”

He slid his backpack off his shoulders and tugged at mine, not saying a word. Joshua didn’t know, did he? Of course he couldn’t know!

I felt my lips tremble as I held back those persistent tears that were dead set on making me look like a baby in front of Joshua. I was already younger, weaker, smaller and broken in more ways than one. I didn’t want him to think even less of me, if that was possible. He’d already seen me cry when I fell from a balcony trying to fly like superman and broke my arm. Then when they shot my dog, I cried for his too. I’m not sure I can count all the times I gave in to the pain and tears since the attacks started happening. Maybe one more time wouldn’t matter.

“I know because we’ll go looking for a new home for as long as it takes.”

I nodded lamely, my throat was too dry and ached too much to speak. Still I fought. Really, really didn’t want to cry.

When our eyes met, Joshua touched his fingers to my right cheek and leaned forward to kiss the left. “I promise, we’ll be fine. Now let’s sit down for a while and rest before setting up our camp for the night.”

It would be dark by then but I could only nod and stumble to my knees. I was so tired. And hungry. I sat on my ass, the ground hard and the grass quickly dampening my clothes. When Joshua noticed how wet it already was, he removed the blanket we always shared from his pack. Shuffling close together, we sat there in silence for a while, in the middle of nowhere on a green, green hill surrounded by nothing but nature.

The rich orange sun sinking behind fluffy white clouds was a stark contrast to the azure sky. It was indeed a beautiful thing, but as it was getting darker and the owls began their hooting fest, the world became once more a place I feared. I wanted to be anywhere but here. Spending the night out in the open was awfully scary.

“I wish this wasn’t our life now.” I scooted closer to Joshua, silently begging him to take my hand and make me feel safer.

“I know,” he said. His voice was stronger and deeper than mine. Without looking at me—his eyes fixated on the now rapidly disappearing sun—he reached for my hand and brought it to his lap. His fingers squeezed mine. “I’d rather be back home as well, but you know that’s not possible."

It didn’t look like there was a way out of this mountain trap and I was afraid we’d escaped one hell and traded it for another. Starving in the wilderness didn’t sound much better to me.

All the things we left behind. The people. I couldn’t think about the consequences our running away caused or I’d look a real baby after all, drowning in tears yet again.

Instead I gazed out before us, a heavy stone weighing down my heart, capturing the final rays of the sun. I’d never appreciated the true beauty of a sunset before, not like Joshua. He’d told me once how it had always been his favorite time of the day, often shared with his twin sister and dog out on the front porch. I tried to see the magic in it, feel the happiness it clearly brought him even today but I failed. It was pretty, sure, but a lot of things were pretty. Or used to.

Glancing to the side I marveled at the smile that spread across Joshua's face. He really, really liked his sunsets. I looked again, watching the darkening sky swallowing the last flicker of light before everything went dark. Maybe I'm too broken to understand it.

Squeezing his fingers in return I asked, “Do you think the war will ever stop?”

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Joshua shrug but I knew it was a habit more than an expression of indifference.

“Maybe,” he said with a small voice. “I’d like to think so, yes. But in the end it doesn’t make a difference…”

He trailed off, another shrug, and I knew what he meant. It would be too late then for us. There was no point in hoping to return, not when everything was gone.

When everyone was dead.

“Thank you for helping me escape,” I said, feeling a tear break free after all. It rolled down my face as if in a hurry, leaving a wet trail behind. It was the first time I’d thanked him for carrying me away from the battlefield that used to be our neighborhood.

“You’re damn stupid if you think I’d have left without you.” Joshua raised his voice and he looked angry. “Not for anything in the world.”

I didn’t think it was a sure thing, risking his own life for me was stupid. I didn’t dare say so because I knew how mad he could get if someone thought he was wrong. I had no energy left to argue.

He must have noticed my exhaustion and the tear stain because he brought his fingers to my cheekbone, following its path all the way to my jaw. I looked down at my lap when his thumb rubbed at the same places, wiping, making sure there was no leftover wetness.

“I’m sorry, Sammy.”

“None of this is your fault,” I argued weakly. “You saved me.”

“But… This shouldn’t be your life.” When I lifted my head I wished I hadn’t. Joshua’s expression was pained, his eyes watery. I didn’t like it. He added, sounding a little defeated. “You deserve better.”

“You do too,” I said with a wobbly voice. I wanted to be strong and confident and give back some of the strength he always gave me with his words, but I was so weak and tired.

Joshua being Joshua he recovered quickly and smiled at me with the softest expression. Nothing ever made my heart jump and tumble like it did when Joshua smiled at me.

Then he tugged me close and wrapped his arms around me. I loved his hugs, they made me feel a little more okay. Holding me close he whispered into my ear, “I just need you to be safe. Healthy, happy and safe.”

And I knew, no matter what lay ahead of us, he’d do everything in his power to keep me safe. It was what he did, what he’d always done. Joshua had been protective of everyone in our village, especially his sister Tamy, but he’d always seemed to have an extra hard punch for whoever decided to torment me.

Only recently I realized how much stronger our bond really was, how important. I didn’t know why he decided to keep me away from harm or why he thought I was worth risking his life for. We hadn’t been the closest of friends, probably because he was a little older and I’m always living in my head, not noticing anything or anyone else.

Now that we lost everything, I was thankful it was Joshua who had come to rescue me from the flames that took our house. That he would be there for me from now on. It was probably selfish, but he was so kind and I really liked him.

I was so glad he had decided I was worth fighting for.

Maybe a miracle would happen and this wasn’t the end.

Maybe we would find safety soon.


** THE END **


message 27: by Kaje (last edited Apr 05, 2016 11:51AM) (new)

Kaje Harper | 16521 comments Riina wrote: "Um... I don't have a title for this one. It was a bit of a spur of the moment thing :)

- UNTITLED -

“Do you think we’ll ever find somewhere safe?” I gripped my friend’s hand tighter. My breath ..."


Aw, sad and sweet. Lots of emotion there. I hope they find their miracle <3


message 28: by Riina (last edited Apr 06, 2016 12:56AM) (new)

Riina Y.T. (ibxxxriina) | 469 comments I hope so too! :(
Thank you for reading :)


message 29: by Jason (new)

Jason (jason_williams) | 732 comments Riina wrote: "Um... I don't have a title for this one. It was a bit of a spur of the moment thing :)

- UNTITLED -

“Do you think we’ll ever find somewhere safe?” I gripped my friend’s hand tighter. My breath ..."


Aw Riina, I must have missed when you posted this.

Tragedies do have a way of bringing people together. Sometimes we can't see the beauty of what we have until we almost or completely lose it. Thanks for sharing this one.


message 30: by Riina (new)

Riina Y.T. (ibxxxriina) | 469 comments Jason! :) Thanks for taking the time to read it!


message 31: by Jay (new)

Jay Clark (jaydclark) | 488 comments Jason wrote: "Chapter 3 – Ukulele Eulogy

The mood was still somber a week later as I packed the Jeep for our drive. I knew this was going to be hard for him. But it was something he needed to do to find some se..."


Thanks for the tender, sweet and thoughtful story. The passing of a beloved pet is as hard as any other family member. I loved the gentleness with which you presented two very bold, adventurous MCs, whose shared mourning brings them and us together. I felt I was on the trail with them to bid final farewell to the ashes but not the dog or the love he helped them share.


message 32: by Jason (new)

Jason (jason_williams) | 732 comments Jay wrote: "Jason wrote: "Chapter 3 – Ukulele Eulogy

The mood was still somber a week later as I packed the Jeep for our drive. I knew this was going to be hard for him. But it was something he needed to do t..."


Thank you Jay, for taking the time to read it. And for your kind thoughts on a bittersweet moment.


message 33: by Jay (new)

Jay Clark (jaydclark) | 488 comments Jason wrote: "Jay wrote: "Jason wrote: "Chapter 3 – Ukulele Eulogy

The mood was still somber a week later as I packed the Jeep for our drive. I knew this was going to be hard for him. But it was something he ne..."


Funny how the time flies when the reading is worth the time taken.


message 34: by Darren (new)

Darren (dwite) | 359 comments TRIP

You can go on that trip, my love
I am allowing you to.
The world is a vast and beautiful place
So much to explore
Without me

We did so much together
rode my wheels
shared our bodies
near the campfire
With soft and tender arms

Tamed broken pasts
Cried and yelled at the moon
and crushed nightmares
Drank together and helped each other
back to bed

Sweetheart, I love you
But I cannot bind you to me
I see the longing in your eyes
while you are watching these mountains
those sunsets.

I feel you drifting
Like a traveller in time
from my heart, from my love
from my arms
I will not keep you

Freedom is important
The wild roar of your heart
is not for me anymore
I am allowing you
He is lovely

So go, my love
Climb that mountain in the sunset
I will watch you with a smile
and eternal love
in my heart.

- Darren.


message 35: by Kaje (new)

Kaje Harper | 16521 comments Sad but lovely, Darren - thank you.


message 36: by Darren (new)

Darren (dwite) | 359 comments Kaje wrote: "Sad but lovely, Darren - thank you." Thank you :)


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