March 14th, 2016

Baby

By: Colleen Boehm

Twice a year, when the moon is at its peak, there comes a moment in which time slips. Just before spring, time will jump forward an hour during one night. At just that moment, worlds are suspended in time and doorways open. Every now and then something finds one of these doorways and passes through, going from one world to the next in the blink of an eye. Tonight was one of those nights.

***

The bonfire was warm and the sounds of laughter filled the air as the Millers were sitting around roasting s’mores. The kids were getting ready for bed and Jane and David were talking quietly.

“This camping trip was a perfect idea.” Jane said, leaning over to rest her head on David’s shoulder. “Too bad we have to pack up in the morning.”

“It will be ok, besides we need to get home and change all of the clocks. We lose an hour tonight.”

“That’s right! I almost forgot all about it. What time is it, anyways?”

David looked down at his watch, “It’s already 1:30 in the morning.”

“We really should get to sleep if we want to be out of here at a decent hour tomorrow.” Jane suggested as she got up from the log she was sitting on and headed for the tent.

“I will be right there, honey, I’m just going to put the fire out.” David stood up and grabbed a bucket full of dirt to smother the fire with.

Jane climbed inside the tent and changed for bed. With the fire light dying outside the task was quickly becoming difficult. After almost tripping over her sleeping bag and falling, she managed to get changed. David soon after entered the tent with the flashlight.

“I was looking for that.” Jane said with a sarcastic half angry tone.

“Well at least I had it and its not lost somewhere out by the fire.” David said with just as sarcastic a tone.

A smile crosses Jane’s face as she climbs into her sleeping bag with David not far behind into his. He turned off the flashlight and soon the Millers were all fast asleep.

The sounds of the night filled the air as they slept. Then out of the darkness there was a flash of light. The time change had begun and a doorway was open not too far from the Millers’ campsite. A thin strip of light shown in the trees as the doorway took form. Near the bottom of the door, a black silhouette appeared. It stood on four legs and had a tail that was held straight up as it sauntered through. Its glowing green eyes shone brightly in the night as it made its way to the campsite. It made its way to the tent of the Millers’ two children, first. Slipping in through the opening of the door it found their youngest. It walked over and sniffed little Evie’s hair and climbed into the sleeping bag with her and fell asleep.

The next morning, the Millers started packing their campsite. Little Evie spent most of her time in her tent with her new found friend.

“You have to be quiet now. Hide in here.” Evie said as she held open her backpack for the ball of black fur that looked up at her with bright green eyes.

The two tiny horns on the top of its head were the only things that gave away that it wasn’t a normal cat. The ball of fur uncurled itself and climbed into the bag. Evie quickly zipped it up and carried it out of the tent.

“Mom I’m putting my backpack in the car.” Evie yelled as she walked towards their SUV.

“Ok.” Jane answered as she was busy packing up the tents with David.

The Millers’ other daughter, Shannon, was busy packing cooking supplies in the back of the SUV when Evie approached.

“Evie.” Shannon called, “Did you get it into your backpack?”

“Yea. I just told it what was going on and it climbed right in.” Evie told her sister as she carefully set the backpack down on the backseat.

Soon the Millers were on their way home. Halfway through the ride the creature poked its head out of the backpack.

“No not yet.” Evie whispered as she tried to get it to stay inside the bag.

Agitated by Evie’s persistence to keep it put, the creature’s eyes narrowed and a small ball of fire erupted from its mouth and dissipated in the air.

“What the hell was that!?” David yelled as he pulled the car over to the side of the road.

Jane looked towards the back seat and screamed as she noticed the creature. “Girls, where did that come from? Get away from it.”

With the car stopped, David turned to see what all of the commotion was about. “Where did you two find a cat?”

“Evie woke up with it in her sleeping bag. It was cuddling with her.” Shannon spoke up, not knowing if she would get into trouble for having it.

“It’s sweet dad. Can we keep it please?” Evie begged with the saddest puppy dog eyes she could muster.

Jane and David looked at each other. “Well, it seems to be ok. At least it’s not attacking anyone.” Jane said.

David sighed, “We can take it home for now but it’s going to the vet, and as long as it gets a clean bill of health we can talk about keeping it.”

The girls cheered with excitement as Evie opened the bag and the creature climbed out and into her lap. “I will call you Baby.” Evie cooed as she scratched the creature under its chin.

***

The Millers never get a chance to take Baby to the vet and as the years pass they know just how special their creature has become. Baby watches over the girls as they grow and is always at their side. As the years go by, Baby watches them grow old and have families of their own until the day that both of the girls pass away of old age. Baby sits with their children and grandchildren as the last of their caskets is lowered into the ground. After everyone has left and the groundskeeper filled in the grave, Baby walks over and lays down between the two sisters’ headstones and falls asleep, never to awaken again.

For more information about Colleen Boehm, check out her site: colleenboehmauthor.com.  You can also check out her Facebook page: m.facebook.com/ColleenBoehmAuthor

 

Affair: Part I

By: Brittany Adkins

Lily walked off the plane that had just landed at LAX. Striding down the terminal her fading blue boot cut jeans gave her that country girl look, along with her black cowboy boots, though her black tank top, deep red long wavy hair and wolf tattoo on her arm made her look much more like she was a city girl. She was a clash of worlds, and that is what most people loved about her. As she made her way down to baggage claim, she looked as if she was just another LA native coming home, but then again this was not her first trip to LA. She picked up her small black rolling suitcase, then walked outside and began to look around for him. Soon, a middle – aged Caucasian man ran up to her, hugged her and kissed her cheek.

“Paul! Hey handsome!” She said excitedly as she threw her arms around his neck.

“Hey, how are you? Did you have a good flight?” Paul asked with an excited smile, as he let her go from the hug and took her bag.

Paul was twice Lily’s age, a moderately handsome man but not the most attractive man. He was dressed in an off blue tee shirt and jeans and sneakers. He put his arm around her and pulled her bag for her as they made their way to the parking garage.

Paul being a professional writer and producer had started this relationship as a mentorship between an experienced writer and a fresh out of college graduate. It all had started out as a phone and email thing, had grown into a full blown love affair, with each of them flying back and forth across the country to see each other. It was complicated, messy and most of all risky for them both.

She walked close to him but never actually holding hands or touching beyond their hug in case someone who knew him could be watching. “It was good, long but good. You look great! Eric has really been workin’ you hard lately, huh?” She replied as they walked through the garage to his silver BMW.

“Yeah he has. He’s a sadistic ass, but worth every penny.”

Once they reached his car, he put her bag in the trunk as she got in the passenger side, he then joined her. He started the car and pulled out of the garage and headed to the freeway away from LAX to his home in Hollywood Hills. As he drove he slipped his right hand over and placed it on her left thigh.

She blushed and smiled softly at his intimate gesture before she asked, “So how’s the filming going? Are you still working on it?”

Paul laughed quietly as he glanced at her through his black square framed glasses before returning his attention to the road. “No. We finished two weeks ago, didn’t I tell you?” He replied, then gave her thigh a gentle, but affectionate squeeze.

Lily smiled tenderly and shook her head as she looked over at him, admiring his features. “You could have. This new book has been leaving my brain pretty much numb by the end of the day, but I am glad for the break and to be here.”

Paul gave her a curious but concerned look as he pulled up to a red light. “Is the writer’s block that bad?”

She scoffed a bit and tucked a pieced of hair behind her ear as she looked down at his hand on her thigh. “No! It’s…it’s…oh hell! It’s just difficult to write that dark all the time.” She said then looked out the window, crossing her arms, then shutting her eyes tightly as if she was trying to hold something inside her. The truth was, she was trying to hold the memories inside her.

******

The airport was unusually quiet that night in Albuquerque. Could it have been the blizzard that rolled in out of nowhere or could have been the eerie feel of Karma chasing her? She would never really know. She walked into the ladies room near her terminal as one woman walked out in a hurry. She found a stall, walked in, and just as she began to close the door it was shoved open by a man in a security uniform. She tried to scream as he grabbed her and shoved her hard against the stall wall.

She could hear the unbuckling of his belt as he held her mouth painfully tight. Her body fought hard as she could but his strong, thick frame easily overpowered her. She felt his hand under her skirt, and her tears pour down her cheeks, but it was too late. In one mundane moment her world shattered and changed forever, all the while as her phone buzzed in her purse with Paul’s call.

******

The moment grew quiet between them. Paul was the only one who knew Lily was in therapy because of that night. They had planned the Southwestern getaway weekend for months to New Mexico. Only to have it ruined on the night she was supposed to fly home to Tennessee. Lily never told anyone but Paul about that night, not even her husband.

******

Paul looked even more concerned as she looked away from him. They rarely talked about that night but he knew dark scenes that she had to write for her book often made the memories come back to haunt her. He looked at her with a fretful look, but when the light turned green he continued to drive. As he drove, Paul’s memories of that night, flooded back to him in that moment.

******

Paul dialed her number for the third time and still no answer. He knew something was wrong. His flight didn’t leave for another hour and a half so he grabbed his laptop bag and rushed down to her terminal. He looked around for her but she was nowhere in sight. Soon a scream was heard from the women’s bathroom. Another woman came running out calling for help. He knew it was about Lily, in the pit of his stomach, he knew. He dropped his bag and ran to the woman and saw her on the floor.

“Lily! Baby hold on!” He said to her as looked at the bleeding wound on her head.

Her skirt was ripped as was her shirt and the blood on the toilet seat showed where she hit her head. His only thought was, ‘how could someone do this to her?’

He remembered them taking her to the ambulance and her words that were once happy from the first time they slept together, to horrific, “No one can know…it must be a secret.”

******

He shook his head then began, “Lily?” His voice drawing them both out of their memories. “Why don’t you talk it out with me? The story that is… It might help. Remember your therapist said not to let it get to you.” He said trying to be encouraging and hoping he wasn’t stepping on her toes.

She turned and gave him an adoring smile. “Come on Paul…You know I don’t talk about my work until it’s done.” She paused, “And…I am not letting it get to me.” She said over emphasizing the ‘it’ referring back to that night.

He pulled into the driveway of the large house and parked in the garage, closing the garage door behind them. “If you say so,” he stated before he unbuckled his seat belt and she did the same as they exited the car.

If you'd like more information about Brittany, check out her Facebook page. You can 
also contact me at Tony@tonywassom.com and I'll gladly pass on any messages to her.

 

 

Skipping Pennies

By: Tony Wassom

I had a plan and I was feeling more relaxed than I had in weeks. That happens, they say, when someone finally decides to commit to their suicide. Knowing I had finally made the decision and all my pain would soon be behind me, I got a long night’s sleep and got up this morning to go on one last run.

God, it was beautiful. Bethany and I used to run the exact route I took, sometimes so early the morning fog made it difficult to see the path. That’s how it was, this morning. I parked the truck, just after sunrise, and nearly fell on my ass a couple of times before I reached the edge of the woods. Once I got to the trailhead, though, the trees kept the fog from settling and I knew the next four miles would be just me and the path I used to share with her.

I didn’t bring a watch, but I’m sure I set a personal best. I mean, I was cooked by the time I got to the pond…our pond…in the clearing at the end of the trail. We used to sit on the bank, before making the return run, and talk about everything imaginable. As many times as we had been to this very special place, I had never noticed the park bench, until this morning. I couldn’t bring myself to sit on the bank, so I made my way over to the bench to sit and catch my breath before heading back.

The clearing where the pond sits still had much of the morning fog I left at the trailhead, but it was beginning to slowly burn off. The water looked like smoke was rising from it, and the only sound was that of some birdsong in the surrounding trees and an occasional splash from a surfacing small-mouth. The bench was so rustic, yet so pretty. I couldn’t believe we hadn’t noticed it, before. It was simple with cast-iron legs and uprights, treated wood slats making up the seat and the back. There was heavy dew on it, but I didn’t care. The cool wetness would feel good after my run, and I wouldn’t be there long. I had plans.

As soon as I sat down, I felt a shiver, like someone watching me. I looked behind me, and when I turned back there was a gentleman sitting on the bench, next to me.

“Hello,” he said. “Is this your first visit?”

He must have been someone from the park service was all I could figure. He was about my age, dressed in work pants, boots, and a jacket. He had big floppy hat, like the bucket hats I wear to keep the sun off my neck, and he looked out at the pond while he spoke to me.

“Um, not really.” I was stammering, a little. “Sorry, you startled me.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry. Is this your first visit?”

“No, my wife and I come…used to come here several times a week. We’d run up the trail and sit right over there on the bank before heading back.”

I pointed to the far side of the pond where Bethany and I used to sit. I stopped pointing when I realized my entire arm was shaking uncontrollably.

“But, you’ve never sat on the bench?”

He continued looking out toward where I had just been pointing across the pond.

“No, this is my first time sitting on the bench. Did I do something wrong?”

I wasn’t sure if I invaded some private space or if this jackass was just being a little too nosy. All I knew was I had things to do and he was interrupting my last visit to this very special place.

“What is your name, please?”

“Listen, buddy,” I was getting pissed and not in the mood for company. “I’d really just like to be left…”

“What is your name, please?”

He sounded so robotic, yet there was a calm in his voice that was causing me to relax.

“Ryan.”

“Hello, Ryan, I am pleased to meet you. As this is your first visit, please allow me to explain the rules.”

“Wait, what are you talking about? What is your name?”

He ignored my question and continued looking out at the pond.

“You are permitted exactly sixty-six minutes with your membership. These minutes can be spent whenever you please, provided the bench is not being used by someone else at the same time. You can use your time all at once or it may be divided over several visits throughout the remainder of your lifetime; however, once you reach sixty-six minutes, all communications will cease and your membership will be considered fulfilled. You are permitted to speak to any one person per visit. Once your visit is complete, or if you need technical support, please call for me. I am the caretaker.”

With that, he stood, looked at me with a smile, and walked away.

Did I understand him, right?

Could I really talk to anyone?

Could I really talk to Bethany, again?

I jumped off the bench, screaming inside my head, “I’m losing my fucking mind!”

I felt all the blood leave my head, the fog disappeared as blackness pushed it to the center of my vision, then the blackness was all that was left.

I couldn’t have been out for too long; there was still dew on the bench and a little fog on the water. I pulled myself up and started to sit on the bench but stopped myself. Was it a dream? Had I passed out after my run and dreamed about the caretaker and his little speech? I sat on the bench, my elbows went to my knees, my head to my hands, and I began to cry.

“Welcome back, Ryan.”

“Jesus Christ!” I nearly fell off the bench; the caretaker sat next to me as he had moments before.  “You scared the shit out of me!”

“I’m sorry. Have you decided to start the clock?”

“Is this real?”

“When you are ready, please speak the name of your guest. Your time will start at that moment. I will return when you call me.”

Once again, the caretaker stood, smiled, and disappeared.

I sat on the bench and time seemed to stand still. All I could figure what I was losing my mind. Then, the calm I felt right before my run returned and I remembered I had nothing to lose. I leaned back into the seat, looked up into the pale blue of the morning sky, and I whispered, “Bethany.”

I didn’t have to see her to know she was there. I felt her hand on mine, then she grabbed the middle three fingers of my left hand and squeezed them. Only Bethany did that, to me.

“Hi, baby. Did you have a nice run?”

***

I had no sense of time, at all, while I was there. At one point, the caretaker put his hand on my shoulder and informed me thirty-three minutes had passed. I realized, then, I didn’t want that to be the last time I saw Bethany, so I lifted her hand to my lips, kissed her fingers, and called the caretaker.

I walked away with twenty-seven minutes left.

As I made my way around the pond I reached in my pocket and took out the penny I brought with me. “They skip better than rocks,” I used to tell her, and bringing a penny to the pond became our thing. I cocked my arm and let the shiny piece of copper soar across the pond’s surface. I found myself smiling, and as I turned toward the woods, I saw an older gentleman slowly making his way around the pond. Just as I stepped on the path, I heard in the distance: “Hello. Is this your first visit?”

I used to thank Bethany, every morning, for giving me a reason to live. Tomorrow morning will be no different.

Thank you for visiting!

 

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