I Don’t Run Warm

His breath shuddered out of him, turning white in the late winter air. He hurt, why did he hurt?

“Why do I hurt?”

His voice sounded breathless and he wondered why. He could actually see his breath because of the temperature. Which led him to another question

“Why aren’t I cold?”

He should be cold because the temperature is low enough that he can see the water in his breath crystallizing. He was not the kind of person who ‘ran warm’ as his mother used to put it. He was always cold even in the middle of summer when it was pushing 99 degrees Fahrenheit.

He gave up on trying to figure out just why he wasn’t cold and closed his eyes instead.

Better Times

Matt wasn’t as clueless as everyone seemed to think. He knew that Mom was working herself to a very thin thread and that she didn’t sleep at night even if there were never any bags under her eyes. That Terry was running all kinds of errands that would send Mom into cardiac arrest if she found out.

He knew that their family hadn’t really fallen apart until Dad had died even though their parents had been divorced. Because the divorce had felt temporary, like it was only there because it had to be, but wouldn’t last forever.

It had because Dad had died.

Nothing felt temporary anymore. He couldn’t let it, just in case something that was supposed to be temporary (like the divorce) became something permanent (like Dad’s death). So he had to make sure that he was okay with the consequences of his actions because it was possible that they would be permanent consequences.

A Long Sleep

I have no fear of death. Must be wonderful, like a long sleep. —Katharine Hepburn

Sometimes, when she stared off into nothing for a long time, she could see the little particles of light-

(Is that what they were?)

-dance around. She was never certain where they came from or if they were even there-

(Was anything really there?)

-but she would look at them regardless.

They helped her feel less…lonely. Yes, that was the word. She was lonely. She hadn’t always been lonely, had she?

(No, once there were others all around her, weren’t there?)

Either way, she was lonely now.

She was old and there were very few who ever came to visit her now. Those that did would talk around her or at her, but not to her. They had tried talking to her in the earlier days of their visits-

(She still didn’t know who they were…)

-but she had such a hard time keeping track of the conversation that they often had to start it all over again every few minutes.

(She didn’t always make it that far, sometimes it was every few seconds.)

They kept coming anyway, though, and after some time, she’d come to appreciate the visits even if they were nothing more than companionable chatter all around her. She was like the rock in a stream, watching everything swim by but still enjoying the atmosphere of the little glade the river ran through.

(How their lovely faces would crinkle and worry and yet still hold so much love…)

She was smiling when her eyes closed for the last time.

Instead…

Who says, who says you’re not worth it?
Who says you’re not perfect
Who says you’re the only one whose hurting
Trust me, that’s the price of beauty,
Who says you’re not pretty?
Who says you’re not beautiful?
Who says? –“Who Says” by Selena Gomez
 

Why were people so heartless? So eager to cast someone, anyone down into the dirt and mock them as they flung stones? Why did they only feel better about themselves when they were destroying someone else?

It didn’t always end in death. Oh no, it was far more fun if their victim lived on, that way they didn’t have to find another to trap in the entanglement of their chosen entertainment.

Even those that had once been in the dirt were eager enough to squash someone else beneath them so that they knew that, for all their pains, there was someone worse off.

What would it take to stop this cycle? To change it so that pulling someone up and out of the mud would make you feel better instead of shoving them back down in it.

Is it even worth it some days?

Only you, yourself, can know the answer. It’s not the same for everyone, because some people just need time away from it all to rest. To step back and do something else, worry about anything else, because they’ve been int he trenches so long, that they’re starting to forget that anything else ever existed in the first place, let alone that they can make it.

In the end all it takes is time. Time that you use yo out-stubborn, outlast and out-believe that your way is the correct way in the first place. Because there’s no other way to do it.

Not that I’ve seen.

This mini-rant was inspired first by a post from Oliana that I read today, Sense of Loss, but the rant isn’t just about what was contained in her post. It was further pushed out because of this week’s Three Word Wednesday prompt.

There are many, many, many different ways to hurt someone, to push them down.

If only we had more ways to pull them back up instead.

Different Phoenix, Different Ending – Reflections Traces Prompt #12

Sometimes she wondered how different life would have been for her had she the power to chose her own outcome. She had loved a man so much, much more than he had ever deserved, though that was something that she had not known until later in their life together. They’d had children, so many children and she thought they’d been happy.

It was only later that she learned there was more to life, their life, that she had not known about.

Her kind were often thought of as a blessing or a curse, depending on who was talking.

To her husband, she had been a blessing both in children, long life and in personal power. Those who came to their home to speak with her husband were always awed by his wife, though it was unintentional on her part. It was just what and who she was.

In many tales, it is said that those of her kind will die and then become reborn from their own ashes, ready to rise once again in glorious fire.

For her, she would die upon an altar, her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren around her and her husband standing over her. In her death, her children, some of whom were very sick, would gain some of her life force and heal from it. She had chosen this. She was old and if her death could have a purpose, then she would be grateful, even if it interfered with the original sequence of her kind’s death.

Her rebirth would happen not right away, but scattered throughout the lifetimes of her descendants. What she hadn’t foreseen was the outcome of that supposed one-time sacrifice. Every death thereafter would further seal her fate to what had once been her family but was now nothing more than her slavers.


Original concept for this particular story is actually a little old. I have some scenes for this story written down somewhere in another collection of shorts. When I saw the Reflections Traces Prompt for this last week, I thought of this story. It has no connection to my other long-standing story in Phoenix ‘Verse.

Ringing Silence

The room was quiet and Mary sat staring out the window. The lights were out and her sons were asleep though she could hear the sounds of Terrence tossing and turning even from down the hall.

A small smile graced her mouth, he had never been a particularly quiet boy.

The smile faded just as easily as it had come, but he was far more guarded then ever before. He hadn’t been happy when his parents had separated. No one had been happy, but it had been necessary for the work that Warren was doing. Matthew hadn’t been happy either, but he hadn’t been as vocal about it as Terrence.

Terrence (Terry as he was more and more insisting on being called) was rather translucent about his feelings though Matt wasn’t far behind. This was the reason (other than their young ages) that the boys hadn’t been told about the plan. They were the children and they had responsible parents, parents who could conscience the idea of putting that kind of pressure on their sons.

They wished this hadn’t been necessary at all.

Mary shook her head, these thoughts wouldn’t help her. She looked down at the black clothing she was still wearing though her shoes had been placed by the door as always. It would be some time before she changed out of these clothes and into a pair of Warren’s sleep clothes, ones that he had left behind when he’d initially moved out.

It was eerie how little like him they smelled.

(She had only been wearing them every night since the separation had begun. The boys hadn’t known as she always went to bed after they did and woke long before they started to stir for the day.)

Once she had changed into the sleep clothes, she reached down to where a pocket in the pants would have been located, her hand seemed to disappear into a pocket though if anyone had looked closely (there was no one else in the bedroom) they would have realized that the pants had no pockets. Once her hand came back out, it was holding a simple golden band. It was larger than the one she still wore on her hand.

Mary slipped it over her thumb and spent the few hours she tried to sleep turning the large ring over and over with the fingers of her right hand.


Inspired by the words from this week’s prompt in Three Word Wednesday.

Broken Promise

Warren looked up as they entered his house.

(It wasn’t really home. No one was here with him. Sometimes, when Terrence was home, it was home. But as soon as his eldest left the building it went back to just being a house.)

Some of the thugs were obviously dressed up in the colors of one of the more violent gangs that lived in their city, but Warren knew that they weren’t members of the gang in question. For one thing the Nautilus Gang were a lot louder when they were attacking someone. They weren’t afraid of what they cops would do to them, oh now. They relished going up face-to-face with the cops.

This group had entered his home silently, taking care to disable his complex warning system. Something that could only be done after careful study. Again, not something the Nautilus Gang would bother with, especially for a middle-aged man who was separated from his wife.

“I think you know why we’re here.”

Warren didn’t dignify that with a response. He was only glad that he’d hidden the disk with all of its information in a spot that they would never look for. It was likely that his son wouldn’t find it soon either, but he knew that his wife would.

(She was aware of what he was doing, was aware and supportive about it, even though they were publicly separated and ostensibly going through the beginning of a divorce. Mary knew what he had found and how to find it.)

“You won’t get away with this,” Warren finally said after an hour of them searching for it and taking their frustrations out on him when he wouldn’t ‘help’.

“I believe we already have, Mr. Ginnis.” came the arched reply.

Warren closed his eyes for the last time and thought of his family. He hoped that all of his work would keep them safe.

(“This won’t be forever, Mary. I’ll be home as soon as this is taken care of.”

“How long will that be, Warren? What about the boys?”

“It will work out. I promise.”)

‘I love you Mary, Terrence and Matt. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to keep my promise.’

“Tell them I came, and no one answered, That I kept my word,” he said.
– Walter de la Mare, The Listeners

Written for yesterday’s Light and Shade Challenge prompt: http://lightandshadechallenge.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/light-and-shade-challenge-monday-30.html