She picked up the picture on the mantle. There she was, draped across his shoulders, both of them grinning, frozen in time forever. Both of them had eyes that shined so brightly. She slid her fingertips across the glass, pausing on his face.
That picture was taken the night she’d fallen in love with him. Even now she could still taste the whiskey and cigarettes on his breath and smell his cologne. Standing there in the living room of their apartment she felt it swirling around her, intoxicating her; taking her down all over again, twisting her senses and clouding her judgment with every inch of his body that she’d traced with her fingers a thousand, thousand times.
She put the picture back down.
She collapsed onto the couch, her fingers subconsciously finding the burn that he’d put there when the cigarette fell from his mouth as she wrapped her arms around his neck from behind and nipped at his ear. She ran her finger in a circle around it, over and over and over, thinking of nothing. Thinking of everything.
She wanted to touch everything. Feel the memories in her skin, because maybe then she’d know what to do. She’d find enlightenment in the welcoming arms of yesterday.
She felt suffocated. She couldn’t breathe. She bounced forward and ran to the kitchen. She grabbed a glass and with shaking hands filled it with tap water. She stared at it for several seconds before finally gulping it down. She placed the glass in the sink and walked over to the wall. She stopped when she came to an uneven patch of the wall. That’s where they’d plastered up the hole. Shitty job. Uneven, and the paint was a shade too dark. They’d meant to hide it. Meant to make it go away. But it stood out in frustrating defiance. It wouldn’t go away. A permanent mark that screamed at her every day of her life. From when…
She walked to the bathroom, closing the door quietly behind her. The sink looked cold and lonely without her make-up strewn about. She didn’t like to wear a lot of make-up anyway. She hated that she had too. That she needed too. She blinked rapidly and looked over at the shower curtain. It had lighthouses on it. They had decided to make a theme of lighthouses in the bathroom.
That’s how they met. She had taken her easel out to the shoreline. She had planted herself in front of the lighthouse and refused to leave until the muses had found her and guided her paint brush to form something beautiful. He’d been walking the shoreline when he saw her, and watched her quietly from afar for two hours. Just watching as she finished her painting. Finally, she stopped. It felt rushed and she hated it, but suddenly there was this boy in front of her, asking if he could buy the painting from her. Before the conversation was finished, they’d agreed to meet for coffee the next day.
She looked up to the top of the curtain. She could see the rips in the fabric where she’d grabbed it as she fell. They wouldn’t just buy a new one. They’d patched it back together, rather than admit anything had happened to make them need to purchase a new one. She turned to the bare spot on the wall where the painting she’d done on the day they met once hung. It hadn’t been there for a long time. She never put anything else there. Every time she looked at the spot, she remembered watching it burn as shouts filtered everywhere around her. It was crueler than the kitchen wall, and it made her soul ache.
To her, that painting represented everything she and he were. And it was gone. That was the answer her soul needed.
She walked back to the living room as her vision blurred. Tears, tears everywhere. She pulled a tiny folded note from her pocket. It had his name written in flowery script. Inside, all it said was “Good-bye.”
She sat it on the mantle, in front of the picture. She picked up her jacket and slid it on, covering up the bruises he’d left on her for the last time. She checked her make-up in the mirror that hung above the mantle, making sure that her tears hadn’t revealed that the skin around her eye was black and puffy. She picked up her suitcase as her breath caught in her throat. She opened the door and walked outside. As she pulled the door shut, she could have sworn that the rush of wind that tickled her neck as it escaped from the apartment with her whispered, “Freedom.”
-July 16 —
My name is Josh Riegs. Joshua Lawrence Riegs according to my birth certificate, and as of a few days ago, I’m freshly twenty-two years old. I live in a depressingly small two bedroom apartment in the even more depressingly small town of Greenpark, Virginia. On this particular night, my roommate and best friend since we could toddle, Staci Milton, was on some sort of ridiculous escapade with her boyfriend.
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I feel kind of inspired to write a follow up piece to the little short story Gray Morning that I wrote several weeks back. But as a follow up it would chronologically occur before that story. So kind of like a prequel.
The problem being is that the whole purpose of Gray Morning was for the impact the ending has, and the short story I’d write would kind of destroy that surprise because it would explain what lead to the Gray Morning.
So I guess I’ll think on it a bit and make a decision. Keep a heads up, because I might end up writing Black Night. We’ll see.
*** Writer’s Note: I wasn’t happy with the way this opening flowed. I ended up trashing the concept, but the whole segment wasn’t terrible, so I’m posting it. The problem was the shift of views was done poorly, and it was too messy for me to find a way to make it smoother.***
*** Writer’s addendum: I actually did return to this piece, revised and expanded upon it. This is the rough copy that follows a plot thread I scrapped. If you are interested, you can read, but I’d recommend reading the revised, extended one instead***
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Thick clouds hung in the air, painting the morning gray. A light rain drizzled down and left the world silently shimmering. The quiet of the morning was broken by the sound of a car trunk shutting.
I looked for the source of the sound. There he was, running a hand through his wet hair, looking thoughtful. I started to walk towards him, but I froze. I waited. He walked back into his house and came back carrying a travel bag that he proceeded to throw into the back seat of his car. He looked haunted. If he stopped for too long he began to look dazed.
I loved him. He was terrified to love me back.
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Eyes aglow, two-thirds love, one-third lust,
Taking in every breath and quiver, Pressed against
Soft porcelain skin dappled in light filtered through leaves.
Fingertips brush intricate circles along smooth alabaster as
Electricity is born from the meeting of lips.
Two become One becomes Two become One again and again
Nestled against the neck drinking in the scent
Intoxicated on perfection, breathing out euphoria,
A Taste so sweet, Ambrosia even the gods would envy.
Nearness becomes the only Truth
And smiling is the simplest Reality.
Time stretched out infinitely, and the Heart was
Completely happy to stay there until the sun burned out.
Every piece of writing that occurs after this post is a piece that was written while I was in high school. Please, don’t judge them too harshly. They aren’t astounding, and they are, and always will be, very rough. But they’re not terrible, so they exist here. Enjoy as you see where I came from.
*** Writer’s note: I copied and pasted this from my myspace blog (that’s how old this is, eesh) and in the process the formatting didn’t come out right. I know it, and I’m just too lazy to fix it. Sorry loves. ***
She was sitting under a tree in the park, a canvas spread across her knees, and paints and brushes scattered about on the blanket below her. She was staring into the distance, chewing on a strand of her hair. Absentmindedly pushing her hair from her in front of her eyes, she began painting.
A tiny boy was sitting on a bench, a few feet from the tree. His head was cocked to the side, watching her stroke the brush in elegant motions. He built up the nerve and walked over to her.
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I could feel pressure being applied to the back of my neck. Several needle-like stings shot up along my spine, and my breathing alternated between ragged gasps and vindictive coughs. I smelled something acrid, and each passing second made my nose burn more. Wispy tendrils that were really fingers played along my body, applying pressure here, pulling something into place there. I felt an oxygen mask slip into place, and the blurred images and sounds moved farther away. A searing pain entered my left eye and I pushed it shut in drowsy agitation. My left arm was dead; completely unresponsive. The bleep of a machine was growing longer in pauses as seconds passed. Then I felt it more than heard it; flat line…
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She twirled her hair around her finger, a smile broke across her face. Sure he was an idiot, but he was her idiot. She laughed, her face lighting up the world and pushing away the gray downpour. She entwined her fingers in his and led him on, pleased with his confused look.
She pulled him on, not giving him the chance to use his own legs, and they found shelter under a gazebo. There were signs of a hasty departure. They hadn’t been the only ones in the park when the storm exploded into being.
He looked at her. She was soaked through, and her breath was coming in ragged bursts, caught between panting and laughing. Tiny droplets had gathered on her eyelashes, and her hair fell to her shoulders in a cascade of dignified mess. Her rain struck face glowed.
”Come here,” she whispered.
He leaned in, and her lips met his. The rain pattered on the roof, and splashed down around them. Water danced in puddles just beyond them; the world played them a melody, as if they were the only two it cared to watch for the time being.
And, in such simplicity, they were happy.