The Tunnel

Here’s another one of Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenges. Choose a picture from Flickr’s Interestingness, and write a thousand words. This is the one that caught me. I’ll try to get the picture to post, but if it doesn’t, here’s the link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/122145383@N02/17922889682/ dark perspective – street art B&W – EXPL. 21/05/2015 by Paolo

The Tunnel

Din’t matter the sun was hid behind a smear of shit-brown smog, it was still brighter on the street than in the Tunnel, and Cass stopped just inside the doors to let her eyes come right. She never been in the Tunnel before, din’t have no way to know was there stuff to trip on like in the alleys Outside, so she waited till she could see before steppin out. She din’t know no one been in the Tunnels before, and far as she knew no one ever come out, either. So wasn’t no one to tell what was it like, what they did there, what they wanted. Why they wanted street folk. Why they wanted any one at all. Just—you get your Summons, you pack your stuff, and you show.

It was cooler in the Tunnels than Outside, and Cass shivered. ‘How they get it like that, so chill?’ she thought. Her hair lifted with the faint stir of cool air and her hand come up quick and pushed it down, scared, her eyes back and forth lookin if anyone saw. Wasn’t no one there, though. Just her by the Tunnel doors and way-way down some Mac walkin away gone.

Cass looked around now, the light in the Tunnel enough, finally. The floor was clean. Not clean, like nothin to trip on, but clean, like shiny water. Throwin back light in ripples like you could see yourself in the store windows. ‘How they get it like that?’ she thought again, her head shakin just a little in wonderin it. She turned and looked behind her, on the floor, scared to see the street dirt where she stepped in. Wasn’t nothin there, though, and she frowned. ‘How it does like that?’ her thoughts ran into the walls of her head, scarin her more. ‘Street got dirt always, how they got no dirt in here?’ Behind that thought were the ones she was too scared to think: why they let the street people in when they keep the dirt out? Why they let her in? What they want her for?

She shivered again, the movement making her bag shift against her hip, and she flinched at the touch. Then she caught her breath and shook her head. ‘Don’t get answers standin,’ she thought. She stood her up tall, squint her eyes tight. ‘They want me, they get me,’ she thought hard and grim. ‘Get me like Cortez think he get in my pants and he get a s’prize. They want me, I say what they get, not them, no. I say.’ She hitched the bag higher up on her shoulder and stepped out.

Her shoes made a kind of shush-shush sound on the shiny floor, sometimes a scritch or a squeak where the plastic soles caught different. She saw movement in the side of her eyes where the light showed her back in the shiny walls, walkin. She turned her head a little each side lookin, makin sure just her was there, not somethin else tryin to sneak around her somehow, but it was her, just her, and her shoulders eased a little. She look ahead, and the Tunnel was empty; that Mac was walkin there gone somewheres when she din’t see.

The Tunnel was brighter down there than by the doors she come in by, and she saw there were doors there, too. Doors just like the other ones, glass doors with the bar for your hands so you din’t get dirt on them. Cass slowed down a little, lookin, lookin hard, lookin to see what was on the other side of those glass doors, but all she could see was light. Way bright, way bright, shine in the doors onto the clean, clean floors, shinin hard enough to show on the walls and up on the roof of the Tunnel, and Cass wondered if that was the Sun up there like they said in the stories. Like they said the Sun shinin bright as day, and she wondered was the sky really blue like they said. Because the sky wasn’t blue now, hadn’t been since the world broke and they just let things go so pollution was okay any more. Could the sky be blue in the Tunnels with the Sun shining down, when it was all brown like shit in the Outside? She din’t know—but now she hurried again, because she wanted to know if it could. She wanted to know, wanted to be on the other side of those glass doors no matter what was gonna be, because if that was Sun then she wanted to be in it, wanted to feel it clean on her skin and warm on her face, not like she had to hide it from the bad rays in the Outside.

She remembered the stories her Ma told her when she was a little, that when she was little you could go Outside and play and the Sun din’t burn you and give you cancer. When the sky was blue like her Ma’s eyes, and now Cass was runnin, runnin to get to the doors, wantin to see her Ma’s eyes just once more even was it up in the sky… She reached the doors and pushed the bar hard and the door swung open, and there was sound like she never hear before and light like she never see before and there were people and space, enough space to run and never touch a wall, and she just stopped dead standin, breathin too hard like cryin. The light come down from way high above, and the sound was water fallin down in a glittery white rush to a pool in the middle of somethin green like never was. The people come from all around the space in ones and twos, with pale faces and clean hands reachin. “Welcome to Enclave Tower Six,” the first one said. “I’m Maintenance Captain Farrell. You’ll be working with me. Welcome home!”

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(Going to) Save You

Here’s one of those things that just crept up on me. I don’t recall what was in my mind at the time, it was just one of those where the Muse came up and smacked me, and out it came. It hasn’t asked for music yet, so I don’t know what it sounds like, other than it’s rock…

(Going to) Save You

Here in the dark
Where hope cannot remain
Nothing but rage
Nothing here to feel but pain
I saw a spark
I saw your need
I saw my fate
I saw you bleed
I saw it all
I have to reach you
God, I hope it’s not too late

Ch 1
I want to save you
No, I can’t let you die
Going to save you
I’ll give it my best try
‘Cause if I can save you
Then maybe I
Will learn the reason why

Your heart is pure
Too good for this dark world
How your light shines
Like a banner it unfurled
Against the dark
Against the greed
Against the hate
Can it succeed?
I saw you fall
I tried to reach you
When I did it was too late

Ch 2
I have to save you
No, I can’t let you die
Got to save you
I’ll give it one more try
‘Cause if I can save you
Then maybe I
Will know the reason why

There’s so much anger in my heart
Where does it end?
If all I feel is numb
When nothing’s real
And the only way to feel
Is to hurt someone
(whisper) Don’t hurt me

Now all that’s left
Is the whimpers and the cries
I’ve got to try
To live up to your eyes
You’ve left a mark
Planted a seed
It’s not too late
We will be freed
Tear down the wall
Please let me reach you
Before it is too late

Ch 3
I’m going to save you
I’ll never let you die
Going to save you
I’ll give it one last try
‘Cause if I can save you
Then maybe I
Will learn the reason why
Then maybe I
Can save myself…

Varina Suellen Plonski © 12/07/12

I Need to Write

I have always wanted to be a writer. Scratch that, not true–I always wanted to write. I started writing when I was in first grade, and in one form or another I haven’t stopped since. But never the way I wanted to, the way one assumes a “writer” writes; as though that was their job, their living, their passion.

Almost 5 years ago I lost my job. I took two years off for online classes to re-up my skills in hopes of getting another job in the field I wanted. And once those classes were done, while I was job-hunting, I wrote. OH, how I wrote! And I loved it. For nearly three years.

All that time, I lived off first my retirement money, and then off my father’s when he died. (Still job hunting, not that irresponsible!) But suddenly I was notified that the money was gone. No lead time. No warning, not a hint.

Yes, a writer writes. But sometimes a writer HAS to stop writing.

I had to.

I’m exhausted every day, doing nothing but hitting the job search engines and falling asleep in front of my laptop trying to fill in One. More. Damn. Application. It’s desperation time; I absolutely HAVE TO have a job by the end of this month, or I will lose my house. I know finding a job has to be my priority, or all is lost.

And I’m going bugfuck CRAZY.

I MISS writing! I miss my characters. I miss writing down (and finding out!) what happens next. I’m hoping this ‘not writing’ is actually a good thing, that I’ll come back to my WIP fresh, able to look at it with new eyes and see where things might be going wrong, or where something needs tweaking (That’s tweaking, not twerking! Gods forbid!). Or even that I might come up with something to improve what I’ve done, a new twist or new insight.

But I’m afraid that I won’t. I’m afraid I’ll lose my edge, lose the flow, lose my train of thought.

If I really think about it, I’m sure those doubts and fears are due to depression and stress and exhaustion, and that once I get a job (because I refuse to believe that I won’t) and get a chance to catch up I will be able to get back in the groove.

I’ve done it before, snatching every second to write, scribbling in my notebook at breakfast, on my break, at lunch, and then transcribing everything when I get home. I wrote everywhere, every second I could. My chiropractor (the absolute BEST guy in the world!) grins every time he sees me with my notebook, and was the first person to notice–and pointed it out–when I didn’t have it. (I was put on new medication, and my brain leaked out somewhere. That was the first time I was unable to write at all, and I hadn’t even noticed it!) And the first person to hug me when he saw me with the notebook again.

Because I can’t not write. It seems to be my biological imperative. I get crazy, like a junkie needing a fix. Anxious, jonesing, itching, frantic.

I got a call today, for an interview. Exactly the job I’ve wanted, receptionist at a doctor’s office. I’m hoping I get the job.
Not only because I need the money and want to keep my house.

Because I want to WRITE, dammit! And until I have a job, I can’t.

And I can’t live like this.

I’d love to have a garden

I love flowers. Nasturtium, lantana, hibiscus, lavender, hydrangea, orchids, roses… I can even respect the beauty of oleanders, albeit wondering why anyone would want something so poisonous anywhere near anyone they love.

Among my favorites are morning glories, but my absolute favorite is the gorgeous and exotic night-blooming cereus. My cereus currently has seven bunny tails (soft, furry buds), and I’m hoping that the spring rains don’t beat them all off the plant before they have the chance to bloom, as they did last year. This plant was a cutting from the Mother Ship down the street—that one logged in at over 120 blooms a couple of years ago! I can only aspire.

One of the reasons that the morning glories and the cereus are my favorites is because I have two brown thumbs. I’m not a gardener, you see. To call my style of gardening “benign neglect” is to be WAY too kind. But the morning glories grow wild in my garden, and the cereus hums along happily so long as it gets some water when it’s dry. It’s the only plant I take in or cover when the frost warnings come out down here in Florida.

The only other things that grow without anyone tending seems to be Brazilian Pepper and the oak trees. In my yard, those are serious pests! I currently have six—yes, SIX—oak tree saplings growing in and through my chain-link fence, and two more growing up through the hedge in my front garden. I can’t keep up with them. I’m 61 years old with arthritis in my hips and back, I can’t do the work that it would entail to dig them out, root and branch, and I don’t have the funds to pay someone else to do it. And I’ve given up on the Brazilian Pepper. NOBODY can keep up with that!

So I take my pleasures where I can get them. When I take the dog out for her walk in the morning I say hello to the morning glories that are blooming, and tell them how beautiful they are. And I pet the bunny tails on the cereus and tell them I can’t wait to see them bloom. And I take pictures of them, to document each stage, because let me tell you, when they bloom they are absolutely BREATHTAKING! 8 to 10 inches across, and such a pure white that they glow in the dark. When they go off this year I’ll see if I can post some pictures. If you don’t know, they only bloom one night a year, though sometimes the blooms go off at different times, making the show last for up to a week. If all of mine bloom, that will happen over several days. I love it!

The fun thing about my garden is that it did it its own self. When I moved into my house, the garden was a disciplined hedge precisely cut to within an inch of its life, two beautifully blooming bird-of-paradise plants, and three rose bushes under my bedroom window. The bird-of-paradise never bloomed again, though their foliage remains with a haughty nose-in-the-air stubbornness. Two of the rosebushes died, but the third held on until my house fire in 2004. The fire never touched it (it was all internal), but oddly enough when I moved back in after the house was redone the rosebush was gone. Completely. Root and branch, thorns and all. Just an empty space between the hedges. I can only say “?”

And, of course, the ubiquitous plethora of weeds.

But then the morning glories showed up, and the pothos that I was told was philodendron grew out of its pot and moved in, and a hibiscus appeared in the perfect space where the porch roof turns the corner. And this past year a flowering bush mysteriously moved in at the corner of the house. We have decided it is an azalea, and I gloried in its beautiful explosion of pink petals.

Nobody dug the soil. Nobody planted the bushes. Nobody trims or tends them. Perhaps it was garden fairies, taking pity on my poor, neglected garden and deciding to cheer us up by giving us this gift. If so, I thank them from the bottom of my heart, because they’re beautiful.

The Brazilian Pepper, not so much. I’m pretty sure it was some bird carrying the berries and dropping them into the midst of my crepe myrtle. It has all-but strangled the poor myrtle, its staves shooting up almost overnight through the myrtle’s branches. It doesn’t even have the grace to grow into the myrtle, standing aloof within it while the myrtle’s branches touch and embrace and become one.

Was there a point to this post? Not really. I just wanted to share my wild garden with you. Because, hey, morning glories.

And because life deserves the incredible beauty of the night-blooming cereus.