Monday, September 21, 2009

A Man's Question

She lay in bed thinking about the man she had seen that morning. No, not like that. This man was the type she could ID a block away - pacing, patrolling a small piece of the sidewalk as if he owned it, approaching all who passed by. He was clean enough, with his shirt tucked in and his pants still khaki-colored, but she could tell what he wanted. Sure enough, as she approached him, he turned from his previous defeat and addressed her. His tongue was heavy, laboring over the words, but his delivery was nonetheless quick and confident. "Excuse me missus sir Good morning Good evening Could you spare a dollar?" She tried to catch his eye, smile, to recognize him as human even though she wasn't going to spare a dollar, but he was intent on finishing his sentence, and didn't meet her eye. Then she had left his turf and it was over.

On the way back, laden with groceries, she saw him still pacing the same few feet of sidewalk, still addressing passers-by. He was asking a man headed the other way as she passed; she quickened her pace and managed to elude him before he could turn to query her.

That night, her thoughts surprisingly wandered back to that man and his sidewalk as she lay in bed, sleep evasive. She wondered if anyone had spared him a dollar, had been willing to break the fourth wall. I should have bought him a coffee, she thought, visualizing the coffee shop just steps beyond the man. Dammit.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Through the Inches

She responded by instinct, naturally, when her body gave her those new, unexpected sensations. Heavy, focused, the young cat sought out the perfect corner. Somewhere quiet, dark, safe. She could not have explained why, and if she could have felt surprise at the sight of the kittens she would have, but she accepted it all with equanimity. It was instead the closure of the entrance, the theft of sunlight and fresh air that shocked her.

She had been so absorbed with her three new lives, blind, mewing and heart-wrenching, that she had not even noticed that the path by which she had entered her refuge was now closed. It was only when her body ached with hunger, when she was forced to leave her innocent, defenseless charges, that she realized. Anxious, she paced the perimeter of her space. It was large, but closed. Had she been human, she would have realized that the garage door had been closed, with only two inches of space remaining, leaving her in a concrete cube, without escape.

She hoped for mice - not rats, they might prey on her babies before she could prey upon them - but none entered. Soon, hunger terrorized her. Desperate, she cried out, sticking her nose out through the tiny bit of space that remained to her, her only reminder that the real, open, free world still existed. Food, release, help, she cried. Her belly, her pleading babies, drove her to distraction.

As she cried, a warm smell of meat, flesh and fat and blood, crept towards her. Then, miraculously, the meat itself appeared, slipped through the crack, glowing in the remaining sunlight. She snatched it and ran away, back to her nest in the corner.

But the meat only held her for a short time. Soon she was starving again, her kittens larger, their eyes open and looking to her for food. On black paws, she crept around the space again. No mice, no nothing. Hunger drove her, she cried. She cried and cried. The light disappeared, then, after the cool night, reappeared. Still she cried.

Inexplicably, the meat came again. She snatched it away, glimpsing bare fingertips and hearing whispers in foreign, human tones. Her hunger satiated, she calmed.

When the sunlight next returned, a rattling cacophony came with it. The cat mother blinked, startled, as the bright day slowly invaded her space. The door was opening.

She was too astonished to do anything for a moment. A man walked in, his face widening in surprise as he saw her. She cringed, waiting for the violence. He bent down.

And cooed. If she could have understood, she would have known he said, "Oh, aren't you darling! So sweet. Maria, come look at these kittens!"

He thrust a weathered, darkened hand at her. The cat laid back her ears, but was too tired, and too hopeful, to do anything more. She remembered the meat, proffered by similar hands, though smaller. He caressed her head.

"There there. We'll take care of you my love. Maria, can you get a box, blanket? We've got to move these kitties to somewhere better." He ran his hand down the cat's black fur, and extended a heavy finger to stroke the grey head of one of her kittens. "We'll take care of you," he promised.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

After the Ride

He stomped into the room, his plate armor groaning and clanking. The metal rested under a thick coat of dust, residue from a day's fighting. Lucinda watched him as she reclined on the bed. Richard paced and cursed, glancing up occasionally at her.

"That is fundamentally irreconcilable," he announced.

"You've had too much of that mead," she observed. "Mary is at it again, pouring you too much."

"Curses, Lucinda, you're not listening!" Richard yelled. He pulled his sword from the sheath at his hip. It did not emerge easily, seeming to grasp at the inside of the sheath. "I am telling you, the fool's claim is irreconcilable!"

"Why is that? It is entirely possible he had made his plans first. Just because the records -"

"NO!" He bellowed. He grabbed the sword hilt in both hands and drove the weapon into the bed. Lucinda raised an eyebrow as she watched, and marveled that he was able to push the blade through the fabric and avoid the metal springs.

"Listen, Richard. You are going too far with this. Look at yourself. Get out of that ridiculous RenFest gear, drink some water, sober up, and we'll call the club. Just because Dave says he booked the gig before you had a chance doesn't mean he's lying."

Richard glared at her. "You never believe me. You're just trying to keep me from succeeding."

"You know that's not true," she retorted. "I drove you to the Renaissance thing today, paid for you to rent that horse even! How can you accuse me of not being supportive? So I don't want you to quit your day job for your two fantasy jobs. Not yet at least. There's nothing wrong with that. I know you'll get there eventually," she softened her tone. "Whether it's knocking guys off their block every day in front of a movie camera or signing with a major label with the band, I know you'll get there. You just have to enjoy the ride."

Richard collapsed onto the bed, the weight of his armor sagging the mattress, which pulled his sword into a painful angle. Like a splinter sticking out from his hand.

"Ok. Can you help me get these damn boots off?"

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Note - no really, just a note

Not fiction!

... But I'm hoping to add a number more of fiction posts. This writing and posting is good practice for me but, I can't tell how good (or not) the practice is without reader reaction. Therefore, in case you're reading this and happen to have any thoughts (no really, any at all) about my work, I welcome your comments. I'm open to feedback as well as all your gushing, glowing, overwhelming praise. So, please help me feel like I'm not mumbling alone to myself in a dark damp corner of the internet basement, and let me know what you think!

Princess Nijma

Princess Nijma