Tag Archives: prompt-vember

Bad Omens

          Lily had learned very early in life to trust her gut. It has kept her out of trouble and danger. From knowing that there would be a surprise pop-quiz in grade school, to anticipating the death of those around her, she’s always had a sixth sense niggling away when something was amiss. She chalked it up to being observant. But, since the car accident, she wasn’t so sure that it wasn’t something else all-together more uncanny, something more ancient than just a gut feeling
          Standing in the kitchen, she looked around and took stalk of the evidence that had greeted her that morning. Outside her kitchen window, under which the coffee pot she used every morning was plugged in, she met the owl’s unblinking gaze. She had noticed it right away, while she had spooned out the coffee grounds into the filter. Despite the bright sun streaming down on the leafless limb where the great bird sat, it was wide awake, ruffling its feathers and extending its wings, looking as if it had been waiting for her.
          The fresh container of coffee cream, just purchased the day before, was open; it’s curdled contents still in the bottom of her coffee cup. She had checked the best before date three times to make sure she was not misreading it, but there was no disputing that it signaled that the cream should have been perfectly fine for at least another three weeks.
          Lastly, on the kitchen table, were Darren’s work boots, freshly cleaned and oiled to look like new, despite their age. He had always been a stickler for taking care of his clothing but never before had he left them overnight on the table. There had been something off about their interaction that morning before he had gotten out of bed to get ready.  It had kept her awake, and sent her into the kitchen much earlier ten usual that morning. As such, she had been the one to see the owl, use the cream, and see his boots on the table before he had a chance to put them on.
          She didn’t hear so much as feel Darren enter the kitchen behind her, his socked feet whispering over the worn floorboards of their old but well-cared for home. Before he even had a chance to say good morning, if he was even planning to, Lily turned to meet him, tears building at the corner of her eyes, her voice hitching in her throat.
          “You’re leaving, aren’t you?” It wasn’t an accusation, just a simple question to which, her gut told her, she already knew the answer.
          “I know it’s Saturday. But I wouldn’t be going in if they didn’t need me.” His still wet hair fell boyishly over his face, even though it has long turned salt-and-pepper.
          “You’re leaving.”  It came out as a soft whisper, and a tear slipped down her cheek, hanging for a brief moment at her chin before falling. Darren crossed the kitchen, leaning in to kiss her forehead softly.
          “Don’t worry, sweetheart. I’ll be back in time for dinner. Your sister is coming over to help, okay? I’ll be back before you know it.” He pulled her into a hug, her fragile frame pulled tight against his still hard body. Age had not taken much from him, only added to it. He pulled away again and smiled, the crows-feet at the corner of his eyes more pronounced. “We’ll have supper together and then go to the tea shop that you love if you’re feeling up to it.”
          Darren let her go, and Lily let him let her go, as he grabbed his boots off the table and made his way to the front door. She watched, crying silently as he bent down to put his boots on, the movement less easy than it used to be, and then retrieved his keys, before leaving, closing the door behind him. The owl in the tree hooted mournfully, and Lily knew that it too knew. The final nail in the coffin sealed, Lily cried as the sound of Darren’s truck grew loud, before fading into the distance, taking him away from her for the last time.

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The Embrace

Joshua exhaled, feeling every possible molecule out in steady succession. The fragile, verdant light that filled the night rippled, undulating like muscular coils around him, closing more tightly with each measured breath. The pressure had been steadily building for longer than he could remember. He knew that it, whatever it was, had not always been there. He had vivid memories of the time before when the weight of it had not even been a blip in the back of his mind. All the same, he couldn’t pinpoint when it had begun to close around him.

With more effort than he thought he could muster, Joshua raised his arms, presenting them palm out in front of them. It was like moving through water, as he felt both resistance and weightlessness as his limbs responded to his mental command. A voice in the back of his head reminded him to breathe. Again, he knew that voice had not always been there, that there was a time when he didn’t obey its command. Or, at least, a time when he had not heard the command for such a routine action. But he knew that without its reminder, he might forget to draw the next breath. The light vibrated in response to his action, expanding outward to make room, before contracting in around him again. It settled back on him like a weight, slowly pushing the breath from his lungs. He could feel the substance of it, slipping into his nose, up towards his sinuses, and then down the back of his throat, thick and moist. The voice commanded him to swallow, and Joshua did. He could track the feeling of it all the way down, as it joined the dozens, hundreds, thousands, of others breaths he had taken before. It settled deep within him, joining the squirming, writhing mass inside his stomach, pulsing in time with his muted heartbeat.

Focusing his eyes, Joshua looked at his extended palms, though it took time for his eyes to focus in the green glow. He could see, more than feel, the sweat on his palm, beading and clinging to his skin with desperation. They too pulsed; erratic ripples just below his skin moved from the center of his palms outward, up to his wrist, then to his elbow, and to the tips of his fingers. This, the voice told him, was new. This was another step, another signal of what was to come, of what they had been preparing for with each exhale, each inhalation, and every swallow.

As he watched his hands, felt them lose touch with his body, weightless in the light, Joshua started to hear the faint rush of something in his ears. It followed his heartbeat, ebbing and cresting, growing louder. Coming closer as each moment passed. Be steady, the voice urged him, the reward was coming soon. Rising around him, the verdant coils pulled him in, tightening like an embrace around him. The rush of sound crescendoed, peaking like waves over him, drawing him down, deep into the glowing emerald void. Outside of his head, the voice rejoiced its triumph, and Joshua sunk down, pulled beneath the coils, as all began to fade.

 

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