Rearrange Me ‘Til I’m Sane

Inspiration Monday XX. One more X, and I would have had to have added much more detail. :O

“would have had to have”? Jeez. Is there a better way to say that? It’s painful.

* * * * *

The shade of night offers no relief from the heat. I swelter against him, boil in his arms, melt into the bed of dusty earth and dead grass. Any more of this, and he’ll have to reform my body in the morning. Rearrange me ’til I’m sane.

His mouth is dry and so is mine. We’ve sweated all our moisture out. We both know there’s no water for miles, but in this moment, we could both dehydrate and die and it would all be worth it. Our bodies would return to the earth together, fertilizing the soil, this union creating life in a different way.

He pushes up on straight, stiff arms to look at me. His chest heaves. The air floods between us, pushing him an ocean away from me. A vibration tickles the back of my head, and I turn my ear to the ground. It’s just a hint. It could be anything. He puts his ear against the ground beside me. His eyes are mirrors of mine. The vibration builds into something we both recognize and we sit up simultaneously. Orange twinkles through the forest toward us.

He takes my hand and we run. We’re too dehydrated. We’re too far from water. Sound laps at the backs of my legs, stealing my death in bliss and handing out a death in fear.

“No!” I stop so abruptly I fall to my knees. He stops a few yards ahead and turns. I sit back on my heels. “No.”

He puts his hands on his knees, bows his head. Breathes. When he looks up, all I see is a wicked smile. “We face it,” he says.

“Yes.”

“No one’s ever faced it.”

I stand. “We face it.”

He comes to my side. We watch it coming toward us. Our breath slows. Our hearts calm. And we welcome our death in freedom.

I’m The Only One Who Can’t

For this week’s Inspiration Monday, I’ve continued the story from last week. They each stand alone, but if you want the whole story, read last week’s “I Dreamed This” first.

* * * * *

This new room is all wrong. I want to go back home. Your pupils are still dilated, your eyes are still bloodshot. The glare of these lights make it so obvious. Don’t you know what will happen as soon as they put it all together?

My awareness is a shadow on the ceiling, anchored by the body in the bed. Witnessing everything, participating in nothing. Unable to be with you, yet unable to leave. You’re looking into eyes that aren’t attached to me anymore. You’re holding the hand I can no longer feel. I see your lips move, I hear your words, but my response steams the glass in front of my face and bounces around inside this prison.

This dream of ours stinks of reality. We did this together, but I know you will take the blame. And I’m the only one who can’t tell you I’ve forgiven you.

I Dreamed This

I missed a week of Inspiration Monday, but I’m back.

I’ve been busy writing draft one of my third book, which is actually the prequel in the series. I’m about one hundred pages in. My manuscripts usually end up being 500-600, but I have a lot of ground to cover in this prequel and I’m starting to wonder if it’s going to turn into two novels. Or three. I’m also procrastinating working on the synopsis for book one so I can start querying. It’s written, but needs major tweaking.

So here’s my attempt at this week’s Inspiration Monday.

* * * * *

I dreamed this. Wind so violent, tearing at my hair, my clothes. The ground rumbles underfoot, and the city falls before my eyes. The dust becomes a new entity, rising up, higher than the top of the once highest building, yet suddenly the wind cuts off and I’m shielded inside a clean, soundless space, like an insect caught in an upside down glass.

You dreamed this, from the other side. Your distance flavored your terror with helplessness. You didn’t know I was inside that glass.

And when I woke up, you were there, but I was not. I was still inside that glass, watching you try to wake me.

Outstretched Fingers

Inspiration Monday XVI

* * * * *

The warrior shoots another glance at me. This time, he doesn’t look away. If his aim with a weapon is as pointed, as determined, he will return undefeated. This ceremony is his, but as the night slips along, with each glance, he seems to make it more about me.

His skin is the darkest of my generation, several shades darker than babies born this season. Our sun dissolves into the indigo sky more each day. Sky of periwinkle when I was a child. Now indigo, soon to black. What color will our babies’ skin be when our sun has abandoned us? Will we lighten into nothingness?

He coasts through the crowd without breaking our gaze. He stops in front of me. The celebration around us muffles, like a giant has clamped a shell over the two of us.

He touches my shoulder. “Ing-nikg-ah.” His name, a name my tongue could never pronounce.

I touch his shoulder. “Shee-ylan-bsh.” My name, as foreign to his tongue as his name is to mine. Sounds only heard among women. Unknown to men as his language is unknown to me.

Bodies silhouetted against flame dance in his dark eyes. His skin shows through the symbol of protection carved into the fuzz on his cheeks, the hair on his newly shaved head. The symbol inked on his arms and down his back hours ago. Inked on my belly the day I became a woman.

He trails his fingers across my collarbone, then along my shoulders as he walks around me. His touch on my skin is hotter than the embers from the fire, tracing an invisible rope. A snare. He wants me on his last night here.

When he returns to his position facing me, he lowers his hand. He smiles. He waits. I wish I could say his name, vocalize a response his ears would understand. The only language between man and woman is that of the body.

My outstretched fingers give him my answer.

Mindstorm

Inspiration Monday XV!

* * * * *

“There’s an obstruction in the main exhaust!” Cyd’s voice echoed down the chamber to her, reminding her of the empty expanse on either side of her.

She checked the clips on her harness for the fiftieth time. The lack of gravity was now her friend. If the engine suddenly powered back on, it would be her worst enemy. Without the harness, she’d be sucked straight out of the ship. In pieces. The grates were designed to keep metal and rock out. To a soft human body, they were vacuum-powered meat grinders. She’d seen it happen.

“I can see it, but I can’t reach it. Send Banj up.”

“He’s not with me.” She switched on her radio. “Banj, do you copy?”

Fingers clutched her arm. She unholstered her weapon and spun. Her helmet light illuminated Banj’s face, and she kicked him backwards with both feet. “Nice one, kid. Sometimes I forget I gotta keep an eye on you.”

Banj’s helmet light flicked on. “Easy prey, sweetheart.” He’d just had his thirteenth birthday. Now he thought he was a man, thought he could get away with calling her sweetheart. Even though he’d been calling her that since he was nine.

“Climb up with me.” Banj tossed his line up a few sections. His light got smaller and smaller.

She slid the cover over the control panel. Nothing she could do here would fix an obstruction. It was all up to Banj. Pretty soon he’d be too big for this job, and they’d have to find another kid.

She followed Banj’s light up the chamber. Cyd hooked her line to the wall next to his and Banj’s, then helped Banj into the exhaust opening. When Banj was out of reach, Cyd caught her eye. She knew what he was thinking. This is no job for a kid. She was thinking the same thing. Especially after what happened to Banj’s predecessor.

Shock waves rippled down the chamber as Banj worked the obstruction free. The air shuddered with each strike, releasing pressure that would kill them all if the engine powered on. Mindstorm creaked and groaned around her. She looked at Cyd. The ship should be silent. All systems should be down.

Cyd went for his radio, and she scrambled up her line to Banj.

Wait For My Signal

Here’s this week’s Inspiration Monday.

* * * * *

His lips taste like the dust of the desert when he wakes me in the mornin’. The night before, they flavored mine with whiskey and cinnamon. I ain’t never known a better combination. The next time I bake cinnamon cookies I’m fittin’ to add a splash of whiskey.

“Darlin’, you better git before that papa of yours finds yer bed missin’ its sleeper.” He raises himself on one elbow and squints in the morning sun, one eye closed tighter than the other.

I gather my skirts, but he pulls me against him. The muscles of the man movin’ under me and I about lose my knickers all over again.

“I ain’t fibbin’ what I said,” he says, his lips grazing mine. His horse whinnies, and he lets me go.

I hightail it all the way home. I plum fall through my window when I get there, right at Mama’s boots.

“Couldn’ta picked better timin’. I’m fresh outta lies for your papa. Now get out there before he loses his head again.”

I stand and brush off my fanny. “Sorry, Mama.”

“Ain’t it just like my girl to fall for the first stranger who rides into town.”

“He ain’t no stranger. He’s from Lexy. An’ he wants to take me there and marry me.”

She puts her hands on her hips. “Trustin’ strangers ain’t no good. No good at all.”

“I spent the night with him, Mama.”

“Better let him marry you then. Oh Lord. Papa’s gonna lose his head.”

“If I ain’t by the waterin’ hole at sundown, he’s comin’ to call on Papa.”

“Lord oh lord. That shotgun’s gonna find us all tonight.”

The sun wanders the sky all day while I work my chores. If I didn’t know better, I’d say it was slidin’ backwards. Mama slips a bag of gold in my hand when Papa ain’t lookin’, then hugs me ’til I cry for mercy.

“My lil girl, off to have lil girls of her own. You stay out here an’ wait ’til I get Papa inside. When it’s clear, I’ll come out back an’ wave my apron. You run like the devil’s chasin’ you and don’t look back.”

“I’ll come visit, Mama. I promise.”

“Scoot.”

The sun’s about touched the farthest trees when Mama comes outside. She waves her apron, and I turn and run. My skirts kick the dust all the way to the hill where I see his gang waitin’ on horseback. He’s dead center, his smile brighter than my heart, which ain’t no easy feat.

Another cowboy in his gang whoops and throws his hat in the air. I stop at my fella’s horse. He sweeps me up, behind him. The horses buck and charge away. I hold his waist tight as our horse takes off. First stop, I gotta ask my fella his name.

How To Make a Mask

I’m back to my usual style for this Inspiration Monday post.

* * * * *

Six two. One hundred and eighty pounds. Black suit, blue shirt, silver tie.

The door opens. Black suit, but the height is wrong. Leftover drops from the brief but consuming rain splatter against the hood of the car, reminding me of the fire escape above me. My own escape if things get messy.

My phone dances in the cup holder. I pick it up and open the text message.

You pick up. Stuck w boss til late.

Crap. Not today. A change in plan means I make a change in plan. I take a quick look, then step out of the car and go to the trunk. Swap the SIG for the Beretta. Screw on the silencer. Another look around. Slam the trunk.

The door opens. Black suit. Blue shirt. Tie could be silver. Height and weight spot on. He lights a cigarette and takes a drag. Looks at me. The cigarette spins on its fall and I’m up on him before it hits the ground. One in the chest, one in the head.

I get back in the car and drive until I’m out from under the cover of rain clouds. A brown sign alerts me of Gold Mountain State Park. That will do. When I reach the park, I follow the signs to a trail head and park. I put away the Beretta. Strip off all my clothes, replace them with sweatpants, a hoodie, and walking shoes.

Three trails available. I choose the longest one. The forest hums with life. The ground is spongy under my shoes and the squirrels are partying in the trees. I take off my sunglasses to enjoy the luminance of green. I could walk off this trail right now and be lost. So lost I’d never find my way back.

Three point five miles later I’m back at the car. I drive back into town with the windows down, and when I reach the parking lot, it’s almost empty. I hope he’s not upset.

He’s the last one, but he’s not upset. He shows me a watercolor he painted. I get his backpack, and walk him to the car.

“Is mommy going to be late today?” he asks as I’m strapping him into the car.

“Yep. But you and I are going to play some video games and eat some junk food.”

I see my grin reflected in the window when I slam his door. Another success. Let’s hope it holds until he’s in bed.