Hands #flash friday

“Can you, please?”

Isaac gave her a doe eyed stare. “Really?”

“I don’t have time to do it myself. I have to get the others done… tonight.”

She batted those dark eyelids and they were like ocean waves upon the shore, crashing against his heart and his love for her.

He gave a nod and a deep sigh.

At the table he stared at the cakes, each one dipped in orange chocolate, lines drawn in them, a green jellybean at the top. They were pumpkins and stabbed in the bottom were white sticks to make them look like suckers.

The cellophane baggies were small, but he managed to get one cake pop in each baggie. It took him an hour—a whole hour, he thought.

Isaac snipped the orange ribbon with the shears, a pair that his big fingers barely fit in the grips of. Each cut sent a bark of pain in his thumb and first finger. He counted as he cut, pulling the ribbon from the spool to a length close to what she had showed him.

He looked at his hands. Oversized. The fingers were calloused from years of hard labor in the outside world. Those things he did easy enough. Need a hole dug? Isaac was the man. Need a tree cut down? Yup, Isaac. And he could take an axe to tree with little thought, the swings fast, furious and often striking with such a solid, jarring thud that most people who heard it thought he had struck stone instead of wood. Need concrete poured or pipes fixed? You guessed it, Isaac could do it for you in half the time most normal men could.

But something as simple as this, as simple as tying a strand of ribbon around a cellophane wrapper with a stick extended from it? He took a deep breath, his barrel of a chest extending outward and deflating as he released it.

The first ribbon lay on the table in front of him. He set one baggie wrapped cake pop on top of it, the white stick pointing at him like an accusing finger. Fingers rubbed together as if he were about to perform a magic trick. He picked up one end, bunny eared it in two fingers. With the other hand, he gripped the other end, bunny eared it over his thumb and into the rabbit hole.

“The hounds gonna chase yah in the hole,” he said and reached for the nub of ribbon jutting between the loop… and missed. The ribbon came free. A breath escaped him and he started over.

Grab. Bunny ears. Hole. Pull.

Over and over, the too large fingers fumbled with the ribbon, pulled it, made the damnable bunny ears, cinched them tight. Over and over he felt the frustration of hands better suited for labor than… than… what? What was he doing?

“How’s it coming?” she asked.

He glanced up at her and saw the aura of an angel before him, her brown hair like a vale, her smile to die for.

Back down at the table, his brows creased, bottom lip sucked in, two upper teeth bit down hard, drew a bead of blood. He looped the bunny ear, pulled the ribbon through the hole and cinched it. A smile came to his brute of a face.

Isaac held the cake pop up for her to see and then looked back at the table. His shoulders sagged, head dipped.

“Only one hundred and seventy four more to go,” she said…

A Silence of Whistles #Flash Friday

Ronnie’s breaths are labored; sharp gasps that sounds like he’s whistling through his nose, even with his mouth open and the few remaining teeth barely visible behind thick lips. He’s a little bigger in the midsection than he was years ago, when his health was better, legs and arms stronger. The green uniform doesn’t fit the same, a little snug in the middle. A contradiction of sorts being that his legs and arms never got much bigger, only his torso.

The cane goes out in front of him, the rubber stopper silent on concrete that looks as worn as he feels. His right leg pulses, his left one sends a shard of pain from knee to hip with each hobbled step. Ronnie reaches the corner, takes a deep breath, lets it out in a whistle through the hole in his throat. To the left, a crowd has gathered, men and women and children lining the sidewalks on both sides of the street. He straightens the best he can, a man in his late sixties who looks like he’s approaching ninety. Bones pop and a sliver of pain chides him for trying to stand tall.

He adjusts his VETERAN OF FOREIGN WAR cap and steps into the road, turns and limps along the sidewalk, passing families and groups of children, his eyes fixed forward as if none of them were there. He sees the small opening in the crowd—a place just large enough for a veteran of his size and stature. The sidewalk is barely six inches higher than the black top, but for legs that have seen a bullet in one and shrapnel in the other it is three feet or higher with no handrails to pull himself up with.

For several seconds Ronnie eyes the curb, steeling himself against certain pain that promises to eat away at him the rest of the day and into the night.

“Would you like some help, sir?”

He glances up at the young woman, her eyes soft and brown, her face a study of concern. “Thank you, Ma’am,” he says, sticks out a gnarled hand missing two fingers and places it in hers. With her strength and his cane, he gets onto the sidewalk, lets out a long whistling breath and nods at her. His face is pink with exertion and maybe… just maybe a little embarrassment. When he was younger, he wouldn’t have needed help. Ronnie looks back at her, gives a nod.

Her eyes linger on him a moment longer, something in them… something stronger than concern. Unease? Fear? Worry? All of them? The sound of a marching band pulls their attention from one another. He looks to his left. One of the local high schools’ bands proceeds toward them, the students in yellow and green outfits, feathers in tall caps. They pass with their eyes straight ahead, their instruments blaring, drums thump-thumping. Behind them a car—a Thunderbird, he thinks—inches along, the mayor on the back, his wife beside them. They are waving, broad smiles on their faces. He thinks of Kennedy on the day of his assassination, shakes his head and watches the car pass, his heart beating hard, mind praying for no such event today.

Another car passes, followed by a second band, then a third. A truck pulls a trailer decked out with a wooden platform painted green, brown, gray and black. A forgotten unit from World War II is painted on the truck’s door and along the side of the float. Ronnie switches the cane to the three fingered hand and raises the other one in salute, the fingers as straight as he can get them, arm rigid. His throat whistles.

Police cars trail behind the soldiers, followed by another band and a tribe of Native Americans, their dances being of war or peace or rain. He didn’t know. A smile traced along his thick lips as they paraded by.

Another band was followed by a lull of… nothing. In that nothing they began to appear, soldiers in muddied uniforms, their helmets covered in mesh and leaves, their arms carrying assault rifles. Some limped, others were helped along by their comrades. His eyes narrowed.

Is that Bobby Jenkins helping… Is that Leroy Wallace with a bandage on his head, a bloom of red decorating the cloth? Are those the Sullivan twins carrying Mike O’Rourke on a stretcher? But…

They stop, the soldiers of yesteryear, their battered bodies forming a rag tag unit of the deceased. They turn to Ronnie—a soldier long dead on the inside, cast aside by the country he stoutly defended—their eyes like yellow fire, their mouths straight lines drawn on haggard faces. Those being helped along or carried, stand and straighten their spines. One man—David Calao, puts his arm back in its socket.

Ronnie backs away, his legs barely holding him up. The building behind him keeps Ronnie from tumbling back and breaking a hip or arm or his skull. The people turn and stare, the woman, her eyes now full with fear. She approaches him. Ronnie waves her off, grunts at the stiffness in his arms, his legs, the weight in his chest, the pain in his shoulder and shoulder blade.

He looks back to the soldiers, his heart beating hard—too hard. They’ve changed. They’re bodies are no longer war torn, but the way they were before death charged the battlefields of Vietnam, waving It’s scythe in broad arcs, claiming them with bullets, bombs, mines and even arrows. With a whip snap of arms, they salute… him.

Ronnie’s eyes fill with tears as Bobby Jenkins steps forward, motions for him to join them. He lets out a pained laugh at the notion of joining the ranks of dead soldiers—men who died honorably, fighting for a country they loved in a war… in a war their people didn’t believe in, didn’t support. All while Ronnie went home, a medical discharge ending his military career before it really ever got started.

Tears spill down his face. The whistle in his throat grows louder with each painful breath. His heart hammers too hard. Ronnie straightens, the bones in his back sighing in relief. His legs don’t ache for the first time in forty years. His brothers wait, their voices lifting on the air, calling to him, beckoning him to join them. He takes a step forward, then another. The edge of the sidewalk greets him, but he steps off of it easily enough.

Just down the road another band was making their way toward them. Behind Ronnie, the woman screams as she and another man struggle to get Ronnie’s body to the ground. He looks back once, noting the world becoming silent. He takes a deep breath, lets it out. There is no whistle. Ronnie smiles, walks toward his fallen comrades, a soldier of honor, his war finally over…

#friday flash It’s Raining Again…

It’s raining again.

Cold and dreary gray clouds hang overhead, but not so far away–I think I can touch them if I tried. The rain chills the skin, sinks to the bone and dampens any hope of survival, a hope I’ve given up since…

No one saw it coming.

The massive rains flooded the world–not parts of it. All of it. Billions of people were washed away as the waters rose and levees and dams broke.

I’m fortunate, I guess, or maybe not so much when you consider the way things have turned out. When the rains began I pulled up the boat–a standard johnboat–and prepped it like I was heading out to fish. It’s a precaution I always took, though I never thought I would need to hop in and float away. As the waters rose higher, I pulled the boat onto my porch, loaded it with food, a cooler, life jacket, an inflatable raft, first aid kit and a few other items.

When morning came the next day the water had already seeped into the house and was rising at a steady clip. I grabbed my dog, Rufus, and untied the tether. The current swept us away, spinning our boat round and round. There was no use trying to steer against the rushing waters.

The rain finally stopped, but by then the world had been completely flooded. It was like Atlantis and I’ve often wondered if this is what happened to that city. Every once in awhile some of the larger skyscrapers can be seen jutting out the water like an obscene finger, a regular fuck you to the world.

The dead… they floated, bodies bloated, hair around their heads like halos. The stench grew worse as the days passed, but eventually blended in with the rest of the damned world, like one big rotting planet. I guess that’s what it really was– what it is.

I’ve also wondered if this is what Noah felt like when he was on the ark, if he saw the dead floating like logs. I wonder if he wanted to help the people too stupid not to have listened to him when he said it was going to rain.

I wonder if we didn’t listen to him again…

Most of the bodies have sunken beneath the surface leaving only dirty water and debris of the way things used to be. Plastic toys and bottles float along, some trees, too. I plucked a stuffed lion from the water. I was amazed to see it floating, but horrified when I tried to pull it out of the water. A small hand still clutched tight to it.

I screamed, fell back. The lion tore free from the hand and landed in the center of the boat. Rufus sniffed at it and then chomped down on it, probably hoping it was real meat or a bone, anything to get rid of those hunger pangs I’m sure he felt. His eyes were miserable brownies staring at me, begging for something to eat. He spat the stuffed toy out and went back to the front of the boat where he plopped his head down.

And we floated.

Days turned to nights and back to days, each one blending with the other. Our food ran out well before we found the stuffed lion. Part of me wishes I would have grabbed that bloated blue hand. The other part, that section of my brain that still holds onto sanity, somehow is still very thankful I didn’t. I think that part doesn’t know I’m dying.

It’s raining again.

My stomach no longer growls at me. It hurts and I can see my ribs. The clouds are now an angry black. Though I can’t see the lightning, I do see the bottoms of the clouds flicker like a bulb about to die. And that thunder off in the distance sounds like the gods are laughing at me.

Puny human. Puny survivor.

Rufus lays at the front of the boat, his eyes closed, tongue hanging out. I don’t know when he died, but I know he did, just like the rest of this damn world.

I stare at my old friend. His thick chest makes my stomach hurt more and wets my tongue. I scoot forward, weak, but determined. I reach for him. Lord knows I thought about it before… His fur is wet and matted down and my stomach grumbles for the first time in days. It’s still alive in there, still wanting to be fed, still clinging to life.

I lick my dried, crack lips and tears spill down my cheeks as I lift Rufus to my face.

“I’m sorry old buddy,” I say.

The sound of his body hitting the water makes me cry. He sinks quickly, leaving behind bubbles popping on the surface.

I lay down in the bottom of the boat. My head is dizzy and the rain pours down on me… And somewhere behind the clouds, the gods laugh louder…

#fridayflash One

(As usual, not for the kiddies and for those who may get offended easily)

Flames kiss the exterior walls, cracking and shattering glass, working its way up the sides of the house. I sit in the middle of my room, Mom and Dad and Leroy all dead. Mikhala sits near me, naked, bound at the wrists and feet, gagged with one of her very large panties. Her eyes plead with me, beg me to free her.

I shake my head. “He’s coming.”

A muffled groan escapes her throat; tears spill from her green eyes. She wasn’t so merciful earlier when we slit my parents’ throats and stabbed Leroy so many times the blade broke off in his chest. She didn’t listen to him as he begged us to stop, to stop, to oh please stop. No, she didn’t care one bit when we rolled my older brother from his bed and then did the nasty on his blood drenched mattress. She may be a larger gal, but she’s got a wild streak in her and satiating that bitch was damn near impossible.

She fell asleep. I didn’t.

“Not much longer,” I say, though I’m not sure she can hear me over the roar of the flames engulfing the house. I set the fire on the outside to give me enough time to drag Mikhala into my room where we could both wait for… who? I can’t remember, but I know he’s coming. He’ll be here soon and he’ll take Mikhala as a sacrifice and…

Smoke filters beneath the bedroom door. Sweat breaks out along my body as heat fills the room. Mikhala cries. This angers me and I kick her in the side. My boot connects with one flabby breasts and she lets out a yelp of pain and gives me an angered look.

“Quit your whining, Mikhala. This was your idea.”

And it was. She wanted to summon the demon, the creature who could make our lives that much better, make us eternal… she, with her ‘I’m a Satanist’ attitude, dark clothes and pasty white skin. She, who laughed in the face of religion.

She’s not laughing now.

The doorknob glows red and the snap and pop of burning wood echo through the house. The door gives, the flames peel away paint, burn through the flimsy thin wood. A rush of reds, yellows and oranges fill my vision and heat sears my skin, singes the hairs on my head. I want to duck away, but don’t. Only cowards duck away…

The air flees the room and a black mass appears in the crumbling doorway.

“He’s here,” I whisper.

Mikhala’s eyes grow large and she struggles to move. Screams tear from her as gray smoke fills the room, takes on the shape of a beast, horns on its head, wings on its back, talons jutting from its ankles. It reaches a dark hand toward Mikhala, its fingers impossibly long, its arm stretching further than it should.

“Yes,” I say. The smell of urine mingles with smoke and burning wood as I wet myself.

The beast looks up; its void-like eyes stare through me. A shiver runs along my spine and it smiles, showing horrible flaming teeth dancing in its black mouth. Its hand reaches for me, fingers stretching, seeking… me.

“No,” I say and try to back away. “You want her. She’s the one who called you. She’s the sacrifice.”

My legs grow numb and I fall backward. Its fingers latch onto my ankle, burning skin, cooking flesh. I slide across the floor. I grab for Mikhala, feel her doughy flesh and my stomach turns. Reflexively, I let go of her. Flames lick at my legs as it pulls me through the door.

I hear Mikhala, catch a glimpse of her as her bonds loosen, freeing her limbs. She laughs… that bitch laughs and points a meaty hand at me. She smears ash on her naked body and her smile broadens. From behind her another mass appears, this one so much larger than the one that grips my ankles. It reaches around her and grabs one of her sagging breasts. It smiles, a gaping maw of eternal damnation.

Darkness surrounds me as the flames begin to swallow me… I hear her laughter and I am one with the fire; one with the demon…

#friday flash As They Were

The elevator bell rings and we step inside, the door sliding closed behind us. The four of us punch our floors, six, seven, eleven and nineteen. I’m going the highest.

The elderly lady directly to my left stares straight ahead, her eyes on the mirrored door. She clutches a purple handbag that doesn’t match her light blue dress and black shoes. Her eyes are a dim gray and her face holds the wrinkles of a life near spent. Yet she goes into work each day as if she were in her early thirties. It’s in her face, her eyes…

The man in the left corner, closest to the door wears a pressed blue pin striped suit, matching shoes and matching tie. His hair is near perfect, He brushes an invisible strand out of his face. Fake baked tan skin rounds off his false good looks. He stares down at a handheld device—I’m guessing a blackberry—punching on keys with a little pen. Self assured Important. Everyone else evolves around him.

A pretty blond stands to my right, her hair full of waves, her eyes shimmering, lips a perfect red. The dress she wears hugs her figure and I can’t imagine her wearing clothing like the elderly lady to my left. Too much pride in that body, in those features. She pushes her chest out a little, probably to get the suit’s attention. I want to smile but refrain. Blondie is a woman who knows how to use her assets to get what she wants.

As the elevator lurches upward I glance at each of them, notice their flaws, their ages, their lifelines stretched across their faces.

One by one, they file off on their respective floors and I see…

The Suit is first and he departs on the sixth floor, his briefcase traded for a baseball glove, his suit for a pair of dirty jeans and a t-shirt, his hair poking in all directions; gum smacking. The hopes of any little boy who ever played a sport still carried in his heart. I notice his old sneakers—Converse scrolled across the back. He has written the number 3 on the sides, possibly the jersey number of his favorite player. There is a field waiting for him and other boys with gloves and bats in hand. As the doors slide shut he is greeted by old friends and family.

On the seventh floor the door opens and the elderly lady shuffles toward it. As she crosses through the threshold I see the drab blue dress is gone, replaced by a frilly white one—her Sunday best. She holds a basket in her hand instead of a purse. There are eggs in the basket. She skips off and looks under a bush.

“I found one! I found one!” Her joyous proclamation fills my heart and I smile. Two adults kneel beside her, a man and a woman. They hug and congratulate her. The man kisses her on the head.

The door hisses shut and we ascend.

On the eleventh floor Blondie gets off and her head is full of precious ringlets that bounce with each step. She wears socks with frilly laces and slip on shoes; her dress is yellow and there is a bandage on one knee. The room before her holds a dollhouse. She picks up one of the dolls and hugs it tight. She sits on the floor and cradles the doll like a baby. I hear the toy coo and realize the baby is real and not a plastic store bought item. Blondie tickles beneath the child’s chin and giggles happily.

I am left alone as the elevator continues upward. It reaches the nineteenth floor and the doors open. I look out into white puffs of cloud that await me. I step off and see other elevators, others like me. Some of them wipe tears from their eyes. Others smile from the joy of delivering the children to their destinations, to their happiest times; times before life took over and changed them into the adults they became. Before decisions and indecisions, wrong and right moves, love and heartbreak ruled their lives and skewed their views. Before the downward spiral of life–real life.

The door remains open and I look back to it. I wonder if I will ever know that forever peace, forever joy of my greatest times as a child, when Mommy baked apple pies and Daddy held my hand as we walked the trails in the woods; when the best present was time spent with my parents.

I sigh and move back onto the elevator. There are more children who need to be taken home. I can already feel their presence and tastes their sorrows. The doors close and the elevator descends.

Then, it stops on the ninth floor. The doors open and I stare into a familiar room. I hear my name and I exit the elevator. I don’t look back as the doors close and the elevator moves on. The fresh smell of apple pie drifts in the air. I hear my name and I turn to see Daddy standing there, his strong hands held out to me.

“Come on, son, let’s go for a walk.”

My heart leaps and I grab Daddy’s work-rough hands and I know my journey has finally found an end. As we walk toward the woods not far from home I smile. Never again will I go to the highest floor, the only one left on the elevator at the ride’s end. As my heart leaps I say a silent thank you and then turn my attention to a world long gone and a heaven far better than I ever imagined.

#fridayflash Heart Locket

The nights were cold, the days hot. I lay in the hole I dug when the winds began to whip around the island and blew my tattered boat back out to sea. I barely escaped, unable to grab anything but a coat and my locket—Marybeth’s locket. I lost the coat when the water beat down on me, the undertow trying to pull me beneath the surface. By the time I made it to dry land, I had lost the locket as well.

But, my hands still worked. They made decent shovels. The trees swayed with the blustery wind as I lifted sand and shells and even a crab from a spot close to the tree line, but far enough off that if one fell, it wouldn’t land on me. Sand and salt burned my eyes, tears streamed down my chheks, more from the loss of the locket, than my stinging face.

I fell once or twice, as the rain pelted down, but I managed to get a decent size hole dug and slid in, away from the gusts. I covered my head with my shirt.

Morning came and the world had calmed, the sun out, casting her brilliant rays on the beach. It warmed my clammy skin. I sat up to view the turquoise sea, its whitecaps crashing along the shoreline. If not for the broken boat lying a few hundred feet from me, its sails tattered, a hole gaped the hull, it would look like any other beach where families would gather and swim, sunbathe; where young men and women would flirt and flaunt and that other F word later on, when they thought no one was looking.

Weak legs carried me to the boat. The hull had more than just a hole in it; it had split in two. Very few personal effects remained. With the boat’s wood I could make a small hut around the hole I had dug. It didn’t stop me from searching for Marybeth’s locket, the one with the picture of her pretty face, her teeth gleaming from parted lips.

“Please, please, please,” I begged a God I never believed in. “Please, let me find it.”

No luck. I dropped to the sand, crying from the loss—the second time I had lost my Marybeth in under a year. The first time an accident claimed her. An icy road, a swerving vehicle, blinding lights and her scream; a scream that haunted me every day of my life. They say she died instantly, but that’s not true. I held her as she breathed her last, her head against my chest, her blood pouring onto me.

The sun beamed down, my skin tingled with the beginnings of sunburn. Trudging to the woods, I longed for Marybeth, for anything except not having her. The locket was all I had left and I didn’t have it anymore., swept away into the sea, lost to me forever.

Days came and went, taking with them any hopes—any desire—of rescue. As I lay under the stars, my hole—widened by my hands and a flat piece of wood—surrounding me, I prayed for another storm, one that would wash me away so I could join Marybeth.

I dozed, woke to the sound of a tree cracking, the whoomph of its collision with the ground shaking the earth close to me. I peeked out. The wind gusted across the island, sucked my breath away and blinded my eyes with darts of sand. I ducked, but the damage was done. Blood seeped from my eyes and—

Then I heard her voice, carried on the wind, a hushed calm in it. Again, I sat up, shielded my face against the coming storm and scanned the beach. Blinking several times I tried to get blood blurry eyes to focus. Wiping them the best I could, I glanced out to the ocean, waves crashed onto the shore, mountainous walls of white and deep blue.

She stood, along the edge of the water, her hair long and flowing, whipping about her face.

“I’m here,” she said, stuck a hand out to me.

Another crack and another tree fell. I scurried from my hole as it landed not too far from it. My head and face blazed with heat from fear and the reality that my hole was too close to the tree line after all.

“It’s okay,” she whispered. Yes, whispered. She motioned and I ran for her, the wind buffeting me from side to side, though she stood still.

I stumbled along the sand, fell at her feet. Saltwater filled my mouth. I spat several times, tried to stand but couldn’t.

“You have to get out of the water,” I yelled, fearful of what would happen if one of the giant waves reached shore before crashing down.

She put a finger to my lips, made a shushing noise and took my hand. Something cool touched my palm. I stared at Marybeth’s locket, my jaw slack, heart thumping. Tears rushed forward. In the instant it took to look at the necklace, she was gone, swept away into the ocean, I assumed.

I stood, bumbled my way back to the hole and stopped short. My heart leaped into my throat and I stared at the hand jutting out from beneath a patch of broken branches and leaves. I touched the back of my head, pulled away fingers wet with blood.

Turning back to the ocean, I saw her standing there again, her arms outstretched.

“It’s time, Henry,” she said. The world calmed. I walked toward Marybeth, my heart lifting with each step.

Taking her hand, we stepped into the water, a great wave crashed down on us and I thanked the God I never believed in for hearing my prayers.

#flashfriday When Monday Comes…

Content Warning: Some strong language and adult situations. If you don’t care much for either of these, stop reading now…

We moved in on a Friday. By that afternoon, the neighbor had taken a shining to Momma. He had that twinkle in his eye, like most other men. His voice made my skin shiver; the way he smiled hurt my stomach. By evening, they were having drinks on the back deck, swapping stories of relationships gone awry. I heard him say something about not hurting Momma, something about love.

Saturday I awoke to the sun beating down through my curtainless window. He stood in my doorway, a hand on his chin, rubbing dark stubble.

“You awake?”

I pretended not to hear him, closed my eyes and rolled onto my side, legs clamped tight together. This scene played out in my head, like other events with similar traits, each of them involving one of Momma’s fuck toys.

Four steps and he stood by my bed. The mattress sagged when he sat down. His hand on the outer part of my thigh was warm, calloused. Heat filled my face as anger rose in my breasts. I clinched my teeth tight as his hand tickled its way up to my hip.

Eyes opened, I reacted, not waiting for the party to get started. My hand on his, I squeezed three fingers together and sat up. His brown eyes grew wide, mouth dropped open. I could smell the stench of stale alcohol on his breath. It mixed with the aroma of cheap cologne. My stomach turned at what he had in mind.

“Stay the fuck away from me,” I said through clenched teeth. He flinched, tried to pull free from my grip. “If you so much as look at me, Momma and I will move… again.”

I gave him a kick to the hip, shoved him from my bed. He struck the floor, rubbed his hand, then smiled and stood.

“Feisty. I like ’em feisty.”

He sauntered from the room shaking his hand. He gave a laugh and I knew… I knew when Monday came we would be on the move again.

His voice carried down the hall as he sang. No doubt Momma had told him she loved men who could sing. He could not sing.

I closed the bedroom door and tried to shake his touch from my skin. I wanted to shower, but with him there–having apparently spent the night–getting naked and showering was out of the question. I learned that lesson in vulnerability from my dad.

I sat at the window staring out on the world. The wind blew gently through the trees and the grass in the yard was a light green. I guessed in another week or two it would be longer and so much brighter. Too bad we wouldn’t get to see it.

Mom gave a knock on the door.

“Callie,” she said, entered the room without my invitation. “Are you going to come to breakfast? Harold’s making bacon and eggs.”

“No thanks.” I didn’t bother turning to her. I knew the look. Her brows would be lifted, eyes wide in hopes that I would get along with her new dick.

Her hand touched my shoulder. “Callie–”

“You couldn’t get to know him first?” I interrupted.

“What?”

“You had to fuck him on the first night?”

“Callie–”

I turned. Her face was flushed pink. Embarrassed. Good. “He’s just like the others.”

“Give him a chance, Callie.”

“Did he tell you he loves you?”

She said nothing.

I laughed. “I can’t believe you fell for that one again.”

“Callie, listen–”

“No, Momma. You listen. By tomorrow morning he will be in my bed and by Monday we will be moving again. You know what’s going to happen, Momma. We’ve played this game before.”

Tears formed in her green eyes. “Unpack,” she said and left the room.

“Gladly.” I unpacked the only thing I would need.

Harold spent the day there. And the night.

Sunday, I awoke to his touch. He rubbed my left breast and it was all I could do not to grab his hand and break it right then. He put one hand over my mouth and fumbled with his pants.

“Wait,” I said, though muffled through his palm.

“What?” he growled, removed his hand.

I smiled, let the twinkle form in my eye. “Give me five minutes and meet me in the shower.”

His eyes popped open, confused. “What?”

“I need to pee and brush my teeth. Besides, I like it in the shower. If you want me, you can have me there.” For good measure I reached down, rubbed the front of his jeans. “What do you say?”

Harold licked his lips and stood. He nodded frantically. “Yeah. Sure. That sounds great. Five minutes?”

“That’s all I need,” I assured him.

He left the room.

The water was hot and it only took a minute for steam to form a gray mist in my small bathroom. My clothes lay in a heap by the toilet and I stepped through the curtain, letting the water sting my skin and awaken me fully.

Not five minutes had passed when I heard the door open then gently close. The tumble of the lock came next. The shower curtain brushed aside and I glanced back, not turning toward him. Harold stood there, naked, his hand at his crotch, lust in his eyes.

“Come on in,” I said as I held my left hand between my breasts, the razor firmly in my grip. His hand touched my ass and I bit back the revulsion tracing through me.

“You want some of this?” he asked, pressed himself against my backside.

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath. Maybe Momma will let me choose the town we go to one day. I turned to him the razor obscured by steam. The shower is a vulnerable place. Dad taught me that.

When Monday comes, I thought sadly and brought the blade across his throat…