(Author’s Note: Hey folks! Hope you’ve been paying attention and watching things. Even in the weirdness of school, I have had time to write. You all should be able to read my latest piece, Her Last Performance. The music will really make that one pop. Otherwise, here’s this week’s Fictioneers offering! Enjoy!)
Her Last Performance
a story by Miles H. Rost
The sway of her foot was the start of everything.
Sandy closed her eyes off from the rest of the audience, as she moved her body to the sound of the music. She wanted this time, this period, to be focused on her and all the good she could do.
Sandy remembered her pain from nine months ago, as she swung her leg around and jumped onto the ball of her right foot. She remembered the stage, and the warning from the front of the house, two seconds too late. She remembered the air below her, the crash onto the metal chairs below in the orchestra pit.
She recalled the pain of the ambulance ride as she twirled once and lept across the stage. The heat and electricity burning up and down her entire right side as she was driven to the hospital she understood well. The words of her doctor, telling her that she would never dance again, and her response of “That never stopped me in the past,” were ringing through her head.
A tear fell down her porcelain face as she remembered the nights of tears into her pillow, and the calls of Psalm 6 from her lips. The cries of being weary, as she worked on walking again; the continued tears as she slept on her bed; the afternoons of crying into the arm of her couch. As she pirouetted in the center of the stage, she saw her friend’s face. She remembered his hands, as they dried her tears and put medicine on her eyes when she had an eye infection as she recovered.
Tonight, though, tonight was it. She was able to make it through, and as she finished with a gentle falling splits, she helped put a cap on the year’s dancing. The crowd cheered loudly at Sandy’s return, the last performance of the year.
She would be back the next year. She would be better than ever.
(Author’s note: Welcome aboard! So after the adventures of being SO creative last week, I had to deal with a week of problems and work. It is likely I will only be posting Fictioneers stuff for this week and next week, as I have a lot of assignments due for workshopping this week, as well as getting things started for some of my larger papers. So, for now, here’s the latest Friday Fictioneersstory.)
Tom Corrigan extended his middle finger toward his unfinished project.
As he drove his gas tanker on the expressway, he passed by the old building that was to be his crowning achievement. Or, rather, the demolition that was.
“That damn building cost me my job,” he grumbled to himself.
For but a moment he thought of this, then switched lanes and exited onto a side street. He took another turn, heading back the direction he went. He reached the street that the landmark building stood on and sneered at it.
“I can’t let a job go unfinished,” he cried out, mashing the gas and shifting the gears.
(Author’s note: It’s been a busy week here at Music and Fiction. 3 different stories have been posted for your perusal, and I hope you can read them all. You can read the mini-fictions The Lament of the Scribe and 5 Steps, plus the longer fiction Walking On Ice (my current personal favorite of mine.) Make sure to comment on them, as a few of these were actually created as a result of class exercises for my university courses. Besides that, please enjoy today’s creation.)
We had just pulled up to the drive thru on Route 7. I was reaching for my wallet when Caroline shrieked.
“Honey! What’s wrong?”
“I can’t stand bugs! And there are two right under the drive-thru window!”
Being a valiant man, I reached over the seat to get them. In my haste to shoo the beasts away, I miscalculated my reach. I let out a “whoa!” just before my face landed in her lap. I heard a gasp, then a breath.
“My darling, if you wanted pie, you should have just said so…”
I looked up at her, and she cracked up. I can’t help but crack up now whenever she, my beautiful wife, asks if I want pie.
The Lament of the Scribe a.k.a. ABC a short story by Miles H. Rost WARNING: Some language may not be suitable for kids, even in the proper context.
I first really noticed it when they took the word ‘contemplative’. To be contemplative means to think about something. At least, it used to, until some people got a hold of it and conflated it with the idea of emptying your mind. Why must they take my words and abuse them so?
As I sit in my den, looking over my various manuscripts, I realize that I only started recently noticing this.
Even before then, now that I think of it, they took more of my words. ‘Progressive’ used to mean forward, as ‘conservative’ once meant ‘held in reserve’, just as liberal once meant generous, and ‘congressional’ meant moving backwards. They got hijacked by renegades in blue and red, using them as bats upon which to beat each other and bludgeon until submission. Oh, how my words must feel so awful.
But these, these are not new. These changes in my words, they haven’t been just limited to larger words. Oh no, me a simple scribe could not only have words taken away and changed, but have words that should not have been added, brought in specifically to raise my ire.
The history of ‘shit’ goes back to an acronym, “Store High In Transit”. It was referring to fertilizer, in the form of animal feces. While it was fine that it suddenly became a word to describe such things, it produced an image that would make the normal, everyday user cringe with its use. Suddenly, though, people started using it as a noun to describe everything! “Pick up your shit!” “I don’t give a shit!” Oh, my poor word! Used in such ways by such uncouth of folk. And to make it worse, they even turned it into a VERB! This is horror to me! Oh my precious words, why must you add more?
I remember when words were simple, and the things you said held weight. Now everyone throws ‘fascism’, ‘socialism’, ‘elitism’, and other words around like they’re horseshoes or baseballs. They have no more meaning! When someone spoke the word ‘fascism’, people thought of really Bad THINGS. But now, everything is fascism! It’s like the description of ‘Christian’, where it used to mean something set apart from others, but now is being used by people who have no business even calling themselves as such!
I think the worst was in the 1970s. They took the basic building blocks of my life, the essential pieces of my existence, and they turned it into a love song sang with the voice of a child! And what’s worse, is that it was only the first three letters. Why, Jackson 5, did you have to do this? Why oh why must you do this to me?
I suddenly heard a scream from far away, blazing into my ears. It shrieked, “Why must you torment us?!”
That’s all it is. You tell yourself that as you walk around the corner. Looking up in the midnight sky, there it sits. It calls to you, beckons you to cross underneath it’s latticed metal and rusted rails. The area underneath is totally dark. Very few lights behind you, and in front of you, if any at all.
You’ve taken a deep breath, imagined this moment for a long time. The time when you would have to cross underneath this potential death trap. The red staining on the rails, mixed with the gray metal, reminds you of a mouth with teeth full of silvery-gray fillings. Decayed teeth coming down upon the jaw of the ground awaiting the tiny morsel of sustenance that is you.
You’ve put your foot in front of you, the sound of your foot landing on the paving stones echoing down the seemingly long corridor. The sweat on your forehead is starting to rain down lightly upon the bridge of your nose. A bridge, not unlike that of the rails that are threatening to consume you, heart and soul.
Getting up your last milliliter of courage, you quicken your steps and blaze quickly down the brick-lined tunnel of buildings. You look up at the grey and red metal steps, the five steps in between two platforms, those steps that you think will be eating you momentarily. As you pass under, you look forwards to the other side and you see what looks to be freedom.
At last, you reach the corners of the building. You’re made it past the gauntlet, the metal mouth has not eaten you this day. You breathe a sigh of relief as you turn to your right. That is when you realize the horror is just beginning.
You have now stumbled upon a maze of paths, with jungle-like trees in the middle of it, the door of safety that you have to reach so far away. As you look at the next task at hand, the many possibilities of danger flood into your mind like meat into the mouth of a velociraptor, which may be in those trees there.
Pia Nagala was incredible. No one who looked upon her would have doubted it.
Among the world of the urban man, she would have been called “on fleek”, or looking very fine. The air about her was captivating, and she held your gaze constantly. For any man, she would be considered as close to perfect as one could get.
The guy on her arm, however, would be another story.
Charles Trainor would not be considered “on fleek”. He was a good looking man, but unremarkable compared to Pia. A lot of people wondered why they ended up together, first in a touch-and-go relationship, then much more steady. Some even warned Charles to be careful, that he wouldn’t rush too far and be too focused.
“So, what do you plan to do now?”
The question from Darryl, one of Charles’s good friends, was pointed. It cut home quickly, without much of a fuss, and Charles shrinked down in his chair at it.
“Plan to do about what?” he responded.
“About Pia. You two have been dating for a while, and now there is full on, undisputed evidence that she’s been involved in some really nasty behaviors.”
“Yeah, but you’re the one who gave me that evidence.”
Darryl’s olive green eyes narrowed as he looked at Charles. He was correct, it was his investigation of Pia that brought up the evidence of her dalliances with tarot readers and illicit sex acts in places that Charles would never go to. He looked over at the manila envelope, sitting lazily on an end table, the contents of the package spilling out onto the floor.
The color photos that were visible had showed the chestnut haired woman with a blissful look on her face as she was leaving a tarot parlor. Another photo, laying on the floor and facing towards the ceiling, had the oblivious woman walking towards a warehouse door. She was wearing skintight clothing that showed off her endowments, uncharacteristic of the normally demure young lady commonly found on Charles’s arm.
“Pictures don’t lie, Chuck. She’s been playing you this whole time.”
“But, how can it be that she would do this? I mean, she was the one who helped get me straight with my father. She was the one who helped me get in touch with guys who were able to keep me accountable about my binge drinking. Heck, she was able to help me find you!”
Darryl’s face grew a slight bit more red, more from embarrassment than anger. Again, a true statement, as Pia introduced Darryl and Charles at a dinner party a few months back. They had become very close, due to their higher age and their similar tastes in music and food.
“C’mon, Chuck, you know me. You know my record, and you know that I wouldn’t lie about Pia.”
Charles ran his hands up his face and through his straight, thick black hair. The expression on his face was like a man who was about to crack up. His neck muscles tensed as the factoid bounced through his head like a small bouncy ball.
He sighed, his shoulders slumping down in defeat.
“You’re right. You wouldn’t lie about her.”
“I don’t like saying things like that, man. I know she was something very special and she made you feel really good.”
“You’re right. She did. But, I know that she has other…”
He stopped for a moment, shaking his head as he thought about the depravity of it all.
“Seriously? That warehouse was a sex club?”
“Yeah. The PI that went in there came back and showed me the video that was in there. I had to tell him to turn it off after the first minute…”
“Yeah, yeah. No need to recount those details.”
“So, as I asked, what now?”
“I am not sure what exactly to do about it.”
Charles looked around the beautiful living room that was part of his new place. He gazed at the crystal light that hung over the living room table, remarking in his mind about how beautiful it made the rest of the living room.
The new place was possible because of her help. A fact that Charles knew could be a big problem if things blew up.
“It might just be good to get it into the open and just break it off with her cleanly,” Darryl said, taking a sip of his dark Colombian roast coffee.
“But, that could mean trouble. Remember, she’s pretty influential among my friends.”
“Duh! I know that! Remember that most of them are my friends, too!”
As Charles started to stand, the screech of tires emanated into the house. Darryl looked at Charles for the briefest of moments, locking eyes with him, before he bolted from the chair to the pictures. As Darryl furiously scrambled to put all the evidence back into the envelope, Charles paced back and forth.
The slam of the car door lightly reverberated into the house. The wrinkles around Charles’s eyes became more pronounced with each second’s passing.
Charles’s heart panicked and quickened as he heard the keys slide into the door to the garage.
The door opened, and Pia walked in. As she closed the door, her green A-line skirt twirled around her, barely showing her knees. She turned around, her fuzzy white sweater covering her torso and arms, holding a bag of groceries.
She smiled as she looked at Charles.
“Charlie! You’re here! Can you help me with these groceries?”
Charles’s face froze in a look of petrified shock. He could not move, could not blink, could not do anything. When Pia looked him in the face, her infectious smile lessened.
“Charlie, are you okay?”
Charles blinked, then smiled bashfully.
“I’m sorry, Pia. I had some bad news come to me today that caused me some issues. I was just talking with Darryl about it when you came in.”
He walked over to her, picked up the bag from her hands, and started to unpack them. Pia just smiled and bit her lip as she walked back to the garage. After a few minutes, and putting the bags away, she put her hands around his waist. She pressed herself into his back.
“So, dear, what was the bad news?”
“Oh, you remember that job I applied for? The one at the newspaper?”
“Yeah, you were happy about that one.”
“I didn’t get it. They called me just before you got here, and told me that I had excellent references and information.”
“And other people were more what they were looking for, right?”
Pia turned Charles around with her hands and gazed into his caramel brown eyes. Her own deep, dark eyes showed sincerity.
“Don’t worry. God’s on your side, and you will get that job. He provides.”
“I know he does, Pia. I just hope that something comes soon. It’s really gonna be hard to deal with if I can’t find something here to provide for my living expenses.”
“He’s already come through for you before, right?”
“Yeah, he has. I just really wish there weren’t so many other issues to deal with.”
She laid her head against his chest, as Darryl carefully walked into the kitchen.
“Hey there, Pia.”
“Heya, Darryl. How’s everything been?”
“Eh, not much to say. Rita is doing alright, but she’s mostly home for now.”
Pia looked into his eyes, giving a solemn nod.
“I gotta run, Charlie,” he said, taking one last look at his friend. A friend who was locked in an embrace with a temptress.
He looked at Pia, sweet and innocent Pia, as the images of her in revealing clothing flashed past his eyes. His face became stony, and he quickly walked out of the kitchen. Neither Pia nor Charles did anything until the door slammed.
Pia was the first to break the silence.
“Is it just me, or did it seem like he had something wrong with him?” she asked, as she turned towards the stove.
“Nah. I think he’s just been under stress with the children at school.”
“I thought he liked his job.”
“They take a lot out of him and today was his first real day off.”
“That would explain it. So, what do you want for dinner?”
Charles was about to say something when she turned around and looked at him, with the usual and beautiful smile she always gave him. He worked his hardest not to show anything but an emotion of gratitude.
“Oh, whatever you wish. I am more interested in just resting than watching you cook tonight.”
“Aww,” she pouted, making herself look more enticing than before, “I was hoping you’d help me.”
Charles nervously laughed, looking everywhere for a way out.
“That news really took me hard. I think I’m just going to go into the living room and lie down.”
“Okay!” she beamed, “I’ll let you know when dinner is ready.”
As Charles left the room, he breathed a sigh of relief.
“I really don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep this up…”
(Author’s note: Heyo! Classes are a bit hectic, but I may actually have some real stories up this week, depending on how things go. I realize that writing a bit longer-form may actually help me with my classes [especially my short fiction class], so be ready for some experimentation to come. Anyhow, here’s the latest Fictioneers offering.)
I feel as thought my heart has been pulled from its place, but I know it is still there. Despite what might have been, I still am able to continue on. I am confused as to why you had to go that route, though. Why would you submit yourself to all of that dreck?
I am not sure which direction to go now, as my path has been shaken up. I still hear your voice in the dark night, telling me the things that I want to hear.
But I hear a different voice now, one that says “time to move on.”