20 Lines A Day

A Community of Writers and Photographers


Miss

This was the sweet spot. Late afternoon, when the sun slanted her golden light across the land and made everything suddenly more beautiful and vibrant with color. Today blades of late summer hay glowed like they were rays of the sun, too.

Joe never missed afternoon light.

She held her position, crouched among the hay, heels digging into the soft earth. Camera ready. A butterfly was perched on one blade, its black wings specked with cornflower blue. Joe’s heart raced just a little faster, excited to catch the shot. Breathing quietly, she watched the butterfly flutter her wings. She slowed time and pushed down on the shutter.

And the neighbor’s six-year old son squealed from across the field. Joe’s focus buckled and she looked in the direction of the house. When she looked back, her butterfly was gone. Joe cursed under her breath. She cursed when her father sold that plot of land to city folk, and cursed again when they built a three-story summer home on it. A place to get away from the city, they said, cultured voices dripping with pretension. Joe hated city folk.

Maybe I still got the shot, she assured herself.


Summer Lilies

They say deer eat these mine are all still healthy

Summers lilies of pumpkin gold

waving softly in the wind

The black seeds perched

precariously at the center of every leaf.

 

I wonder-which wisp of wind

will scatter seeds and where will they land?

Will they hang on drying slowly

until fall finally wilts the plant?

 

The fuzzy stamens, tempting new life-

why do the seeds form down the branch,

when the stamens and ovulates

rest within the velvety soft flower?

 

Each tiny gift nature has given

develops its own ways,

keeps its mystical secrets,

reminds us that every living thing.

 

is special, unique, magical.

Look at a daisy, a lily, a daffodil,

every one with its own way to reproduce,

Life itself holds infinite recipes.

 

Every flower shares it beauty,

to observe and enjoy is a gift

free and simple, there for the taking.

The finest things in life ARE free!

 


Voices

Cockroach Wells loved to dig graves. We often said that he was always ahead of schedule.

Sometimes he brought a flashlight into the graveyard and Mrs. LaRoque would watch the dim light from her living room window across the street and call the police. He had no business messing around in the graveyard, disturbing the dead’s peace, she’d say. And the officers would come and Cockroach would put up a terrible fight and he’d spend the night in jail.

Cockroach was an odd looking fellow – he had a messy black beard that was always littered with crumbs, a slump to his shoulders and a little march to his walk, like someone had him on strings. And always mumbling – perhaps talking to the voices in his head.

One moonless night my friend and I snuck out of our beds on a dare to test our bravery in the graveyard. We crept along the stones – the names and dates on some of them worn clear off, others marking deaths 200 years old – giggling in whispers, carrying our own flashlights and hoping Mrs. LaRoque didn’t notice and call the police again.

And then we ran into Cockroach – he’d turned his flashlight off and sat in the blackness, Indian-style in front of one particularly old and moss-covered tombstone, chatting away.

“That must’ve been just awful,” he was saying. “Were you injured?” Cockroach stopped as if hearing a reply. “And that dun you in, eh? That’s a shame.”

He sensed the two 11-year-old boys watching and turned around. When he smiled, his mouth opened onto toothless gums – a wet cave above the bristling beard.

“This here feller just tellin‘ me bout his days in the Civil War,” he told them, motioning to the grave to introduce the dead soldier.

We just nodded and kept on walking – Cockroach didn’t seem to need our company. As we hustled between the stones, we could hear his low grumble of a voice continue his one-sided conversation. Who am I to say no one spoke back?


1 Comment

Clinging to a Life I Once Knew

Across the room, a picture of the two of you,
Its seems like yesterday, but its been 8 years,
in the purest hell. You- taken only four months later.
Your little brother now 6’3” and growing-
the girl who has his heart isn’t me.
I am alone in my heart-I’ve taken in my sick dad-
and the daily reminders of why I left home at 18
haunting my every quiet move, with doors down,
curtains up to accommodate walkers-hospital supplies.
Every time I think “life” can get no worse, it does.
I need you, I need your brother to be little again.
I want to teach 6 kids about bugs and butterflies
and play in the creek. I want to live, love, dream.
Tonight, if and when I close my eyes, please,
my beautiful young man, stolen for no reason,
come to me, be with me, let me remember life.


Hunt

Anna froze when the siren wailed. It cut through the humid morning slowly, as if impeded by the thick air – bounced off the palm trees, the thick vegetation beneath her bare feet, into the heavy cobalt sky above and then over the calm sea. Anna couldn’t see it, but could hear the waves crashing against the shore. That was, until the siren started.

She grasped Leo’s arm – it was damp with sweat. “What is that?”she asked. Leo looked down at her, his glimmering face cast in a shroud – he was scared, but not frantic. That was good. But he paused as if wanting to keep a horrible secret from her, one he wished he didn’t know himself.

He put a strong arm over her shoulders and Anna huddled under his protection, but still wanted her question answered.

“What is it?” she repeated. Her voice cracked.

He peered through the trees, trying to find a sign of movement in the shadows between their long trunks. The tension in Leo’s muscles troubled her and she tensed out of instinct.

“The Call,” he said.

“Call for what?”

Something moved several feet to their left and Leo whipped his head towards the sound.

“The Hunt has begun,” he whispered.

Before Anna could ask another question, Leo grasped her shoulders and pushed her down the path, away from the noise.

“We need to run,” he said. “NOW!”

As they sprinted down the path, over roots and rocks, between palm trees and ferns, Anna heard the leaves part where they had been standing. Something growled at her heels but she didn’t dare look back.


Eruption

Three weeks have passed and we’ve spent every minute of it in this small little room. Four days ago, the rain stopped. It only sounded like rain, but I couldn’t forget what it really was. Ash.

“Can we try the door, please?” My sister has been begging my father for days. It’s hot and she can’t breathe and she’s complained about it over and over. None of us can breathe, all of us are sweating – she isn’t the only one. But I bite my tongue. Father patiently tells her no each time and recites the reason, which my sister already knows.

“We need to make sure the eruption is over. We don’t want to leave too early, or we might not be able to get back in.” And that’s it. Though he doesn’t tell her to drop it – maybe he should – but his tone indicates the topic is closed.

She settles back into her discomfort. All of us try to keep our sanity contained in our skulls, but every day it threatens to spill over, like water in a glass. We wait.

“It’s time,” my father says one morning,. It could’ve been another week, but it hardly feels like a minute – time has become warped and twisted, my mind losing all concept of it. “Gather want you want to bring. I’m going to open the door in 10 minutes.”

Hardly enough warning, I think, but I’m glad to be doing something even if it’s terrifying. I don’t want to see what’s beyond our shelter, what has happened to the world. I stand behind my sister, holding her shoulders so that she rests against my stomach. My mother keeps close behind my father, whose sweaty hands grasp the handle of the door so tightly every muscle in his forearm ripples.

“Ready?” he asked.


3 Comments

Experiment

The dream was always the same. Two men wore masks over their faces and a bright light floated behind them. They spoke to her softly. The dream remained with her even when she went home, its residue ruining her focus. Her breakfast, a visit from a friend, her mother’s voice, all disappeared in its wake.

“What’s wrong with you this morning?” her mother chided one day. She couldn’t appear vacant or distracted or they’d take her back. It was an unfriendly place, full of crazy people. But she wasn’t crazy, just a little lost.

“I’m fine.”

She told herself the dream wasn’t real. She took her medicine and her mother checked under her tongue. It’s just a dream. But no – the room was familiar and she remembered something, something they did to her. Eyes loomed over paper masks; kind voices; her feet in stirrups.

I’m not crazy – I was never crazy. Maybe confused. But not this time.

She gripped her belly – it was growing rounder. She felt the life inside. But no one would believe her story – no one ever believed her. She was just a crazy girl.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,565 other followers

%d bloggers like this: