defined.by.words

writing blog of t.c.fitzgerald

Trapped

We were walking in the farmers market when the sirens went off. My father scooped up my little sister, grabbed my hand and led us to a nearby building for shelter. We made it; safe I thought to myself, for now at least. For the first few minutes the silence was deafening. Then the screams started; the cries for help, pounding on the door. There was nothing we could do. Everyone stood silently starting at the floor.

I scanned the room and took an inventory of the people. A mother and her young child, and elderly couple – I recognized them from the farmers market, a short middle-aged man – probably the same age as my father, and his wife, and a young woman in a green skirt and sweater. Then there was us; myself, my little sister, and my father.

After the first cries for help abated there was silence again — until the next wave started. This time the young woman in the green skirt and sweater ran towards the door. “We have to do something,” she cried. My father grabbed her before she could reach the door. “We all want to help, but there is nothing we can do. If we open the door then we all die.”

“He’s right.” the short middle aged man said as he stood up, reaching out his hand. “Look, we have to stay calm, just wait it out here. Once they get what they came for, they’ll leave. They always leave.”

The young woman in the green skirt and sweater became agitated. “But what if they don’t, what if they don’t leave this time.”

“He’s right,” my father chimed in, “We just have to be calm, patient. We’ll be safe here, but we should move away from the door and windows. We should search the building, see if we can find any supplies — food, flashlights, water.”

The young woman in the green skirt and sweater stormed off down one of the dark hallways. My father and the short middle-aged man agreed to split up and search the building. I wanted to go with him, but he insisted I stay and watch my little sister. Who, by the way, seemed completely unfazed by everything going on around her.

About an hour later my father and the short middle-aged man came back with a few supplies – a flashlight, some cakes that looked like they came from a vending machine and some boards and nails to secure the front door. After the door was boarded up we all sat down to eat, well, not all of us. The young woman in the green skirt and sweater hadn’t come back yet. No one seemed too worried; after all, there wasn’t really anywhere for her to go and she wouldn’t be stupid enough to try and go outside. We could still hear them out there. Scratching on the door. No one dared look outside. It was pointless, we all knew what they looked like, what they were capable of. We tried not to think about it.

The next morning I decided to do a little exploring. We were in an abandoned office building four stories high. I found my way up to the second floor. Most of the rooms were empty, but some of them still had old office furniture and equipment in them — desks, file cabinets, typewriters. I wasn’t sure how long any of it had been there, the building had been abandoned for as long as I could remember.

Smith and Smith Accounting Suite 206, as I turned the handle to enter the room at the end of the hall I heard a noise, crying, coming from inside. I opened the door and peeked my head insidie — it was the young woman in the green skirt and sweater, huddled on the floor. So this is where she ran off to.

“Are you…are you ok?” I asked. She didn’t seem to hear me, so I moved a bit closer, touching her on the shoulder.

She jumped back, startled. “What?! What do you want?”

“I heard you crying…are you ok?”

Next In Line

This is the beginning of a short story I wrote back in 2004.  I never got around to finishing it and I’ve always had the feeling that it is missing a page.

“Alex, wake up!  You’re going to be late for work!”

Uhhh… Alex groaned as he jumped out of bed.  It was only a dream, he thought to himself as he wiped the sweat from his forehead.  Alex couldn’t remember the last time he had a pleasant dream.

“Alex!” she called again from the hallway.

Alex opened his closet and looked over his clothes.  It always seemed rather pointless, as all government employees were issued “work grays”, drab gray uniforms to wear.  Alex slipped his uniform on and headed for the kitchen.

“Sleep well?”

“Well enough.”

Alex hadn’t known her long before the war.  Her family moved in next door about a year before the fighting erupted.  Before he left for his service it was decided they would marry.  Arranged marriages weren’t uncommon, even between complete strangers, especially when moving up a social class was involved.  Alex grabbed an apple from the table and started for the door.

“Alex! Wait!” she exclaimed.

Hmm…? He turned back to see what she wanted.

“You got a letter in the mail today.  I think it’s from your sister.”

“Oh…” he sighed, as she put the envelope in his front pocket.

“There, you can read it at work.”

She kissed him on the cheek and he smiled slightly.

“I’ll be home later tonight,” he said as he turned back towards the door.

It wasn’t a far walk to the metro station, but the brisk autumn air made it feel longer.  Alex reached into his back pocket and pulled out his metro card.  He always made sure he had the card with him, removing it from his pocket only when he got on the metro or did laundry.

“Next in line, please.” the clerk at the gate desk called out.

Alex approached the desk and handed the clerk his metro card.

“All set Mr. Branko.” the clerk smiled as he returned the card to Alex.

Alex returned the smile and walked through the gate.  He usually watched his feet as they moved down each step, lookup up only for a second to make sure he didn’t bump into anyone.  As Alex stepped down off of the last step he glanced over the crowd.  Something caught his eye, a woman with short auburn hair.  She was wearing a government issue uniform, which was odd as he’d never seen her before.  She must be new, he thought to himself, remembering not to stare too long.

“Kerri!” he heard someone shout from a distance.

He glanced back in the direction of the auburn haired woman and saw someone running towards her, another woman, with short brown hair.

“Kerri!” she shouted again. The auburn haired woman waved in her direction.

A voice came over the intercom.  Now boarding train 4B to the Records Complex.  The two women dashed for the train.

Alex had only caught a quick glimpse of her, but he was surely mesmorized.

“Kerri,” he whispered under his breath.

Traitor

A king betrayed
a bastard heir
best plans are laid
at the foot of despair
the hand rises
with words from the king
to claim the throne
in the name of his kin
while cloaks of gold
should prove unworthy
a daughter’s love
as she pleads for mercy
contrived confession
repent! repent!
as the bastard king cries
bring me his head

Banners

Quick writing exercise. Same story from two viewpoints.

Today was a horrible day. I just wanted to jump into the spring and feel the water hit my head and surround my body. I threw my shirt down near the edge of the water and dove in. The water was just the right temperature — not too hot or too cold. Spring was the best time for swimming in the Midlands. I let out a sigh of relief as I stood under the waterfall. I had thought about praying. Praying to Kren — the god of prosperity, Šay — the god of mercy, or Wûr — the god of war. My father was having a hard time in his shop ever since mother died of the pox last year. He could barely bring himself to lift a hammer. Ward and I tried to help but he tossed every blade we forged — “Not good enough”, he’d grumble. Maybe I could pray for war. The army would need swords and armor; maybe father could hire some help with the extra money coming in. Before I could get settled I heard someone calling my name. “Ten!”, a voice shouted. I stepped out from under the waterfall and could see my brother standing at the edge of the spring. “What?”, I shouted back. “Banners!”, was all he could get out. He seemed excited and out of breath. “Banners?”, I shouted back, not quite understanding. “Yes, banners!”, he said as he handed me my shirt. I dressed quickly and followed him up a hill to the south of the spring. “See”, he said, pointing at the horde of men-at-arms and knights marching down the King’s highway.

“The King has called his banners. We’re going to war.”

War. I thought to myself. Maybe the gods really are listening.


Today was a horrible day. Ten just wanted to jump into the spring and feel the water hit his head and surround his body. He threw his shirt down near the edge of the water and dove in. The water was just the right temperature — not too hot or too cold. Spring was the best time for swimming in the Midlands. He let out a sigh of relief as he stood under the waterfall. He had thought about praying. Praying to Kren — the god of prosperity, Šay — the god of mercy, or Wûr — the god of war. Ten’s father was having a hard time in his shop ever since his mother died of the pox last year. He could barely bring himself to lift a hammer. Ten and his brother tried to help, but their father tossed every blade they forged — “Not good enough”, he’d grumble. Maybe I could pray for war, Ten thought to himself. The army would need swords and armor; maybe his father could even hire some help with the extra money coming in. Before Ten could get settled he heard someone calling his name. “Ten!”, a voice shouted. He stepped out from under the waterfall and could see his brother standing at the edge of the spring. “What?”, he shouted back. “Banners!”, was all Ward could get out. He seemed excited and out of breath. “Banners?”, Ten shouted back, not quite understanding. “Yes, banners!”, Ward replied as he handed Ten his shirt. Ten dressed quickly and followed his brother up a hill to the south of the spring. “See”, Ward said, pointing at the horde of men-at-arms and knights marching down the King’s highway.

“The King has called his banners. We’re going to war.”

War. Ten thought to himself. Maybe the gods really are listening.

love is danger

your lips cut like razors
my mouth bleeds when you kiss me
distant hearts grow cold
in the arms of another
we try to forget
what it was like
to be (to be alone)
and I’d whisper in your ear
love is danger
a risk I’m not willing to take