No contest or challenge, this time…just “navigating small” and writing the words that come…
1) “Dreams of Smoke”
I tried so hard to hold it, the memory of the dream.
Even after everything, the dreams were still there…the dreams we had shared.
But so was work, and family, and all the trappings of life the way it was supposed to be. But supposed to be doesn’t include dreams. Supposed to be doesn’t leave room for could be.
I stood in that room, surrounded by white and green, surrounded by all the little lights and the beeping machines. Surrounded by fear, and by loss. I tried to hold on to her, tried to hold on to the dream.
A touch on my shoulder, and a gentle voice. One last squeeze of her hand, then. One last chance for the dream to come true…but the harder I held, the more the dream turned to smoke, drifted away.
I turned and left, broken. Like what could be, she was gone…and so was the dream.
2) “If Only You’d Known Me Then”
The endless summer of my younger days. Nights under the stars, sharing dollar-booze and thoughts that cost the world. Trysts under the overpass, tearing at each others’ clothes. Days under the sun, before the coming of autumn and winter. When I was invincible and immortal…when I was young.
“If only you’d known me then…” I whispered.
Before life took its toll. Before reality and consequences. Before regrets.
She reached a hand — her touch was light, barely there. I hesitated, stopped, trapped by what I was at that moment. Broken and frail, weak in ways my younger self would never understand. Could never understand.
I couldn’t help her, couldn’t help myself. If only she’d known me then…
There were no tears: I remembered enough of the strength I once possessed to be strong one last time. There were no tears…but no words, either. I wasn’t that strong.
Her frail hand was shaking almost as much as mine. “I know you now,” she said gently, lovingly.
3) “The News”
“I have money — you don’t have to worry about that,” he stammered, his mind several steps behind reality.
Her hand on his arm, a smile that was no smile. “It’s not that, and you know it.”
Laughing screams from the nearby playground brought a flinch. A look over, a glimpse of those kids, and it all came crashing home.
“But…what can I do?”
A shake of her head, then. “I just wanted to give you the news myself, before you heard it from someone else. I’ve already been to the clinic.”
The news changed everything.
1) “Dreams of Smoke” started as a very different story. What I had originally envisioned, however, just didn’t come together, so I put it aside. When I came back to it, a few days later, I had 125 words and a broken story. I put on an album and got working to “fix” it. The only part of the original I truly stuck with was the limit of 200 words, and the “vision” of dreams disappearing like smoke. I’m still not sure if it worked.
2) “If Only You’d Known Me Then” is a story about age…about getting old, and everything that goes with that. It is, to be honest, intended to be the opposite sentiment to Springsteen’s “Glory Days”, but drawn from the same well. Trying to do all of that in 150 words may have been over-ambitious…
3) “The News” is autobiography. The moment that changed the universe for me…and that’s all I’m going to say about it.