Saturday, February 25, 2012

a kiss for all days, revisited

a few years ago I was inspired to attempt a daily 'flash fiction' blog where I would post fiction of not more than 200 words length featuring a kiss. I didn't get very far but still love the idea of regular flash-fiction posts. As the old blog has played password tricks and I can no longer access it, here are all the original posts. I've closed it down and will continue on here...

A kiss for all days, Day 1

They’d been traveling all day minus a gear across red dirt. The air con had broken down around Broken Hill so when the sun was at its zenith they bunkered down with light beers and salty chips in a pub that wore its veranda like a low-slung hut. Making camp a few hours ago a hot wind had rushed about them, rattling the poles and making the stretching of their tarp near impossible. Pre menstrual and slightly hung over she’d bitched until their hammock was up then flounced into their ‘bed’. Now he was rolled against her, slick with sweat. That they were forced so close when she felt so enraged was crazy. She loved him, she loved these stupid trips they did to kill time between each of her periods as they just kept coming. All goes still and the regular rustle of animals quietens. A shiver flicks along her spine and the chill fluter of air on her bare toes make her hold her breath. Splat- the rain starts to hit the tarp in fat drops, a staccato beat like wings as the atoms about them realign. Something in her chest loosens at last and she turns her head to him and whispers a kiss along his now cool shoulder.

A kiss, Day 2

A young Celeste had turned her back on her Presbyterian church and maintained a zealot’s version of the hippy lifestyle ever since. When they pulled the toxic aluminum pin out of her hip (long after the car accident that had put it there to begin with) her chronic fatigue became less consuming and with time she stopped looking so wasted as she consumed more and more varied foods. A relief for her son Astor who had nurtured her frailty through a lonesome adolescence and serious adulthood. A short reprieve for him then, then this, this cancer that whittled away the little flesh left on her. This cancer that had the reiki and ‘course in miracles’ friends flocking with their flutes and fluttering useless hands. And for him again no such lightness, just his serious duty as the ‘man of the house’, his power of medical attorney. Her body seems a husk to him now though her chest still rises and falls in its inexorable rhythm. Her body cleaves to a life she has always seemed to merely dab at. He turns to the waiting doctor. “Now” he says. He bends and seals this vow with a kiss. Her lips are already cool and dry.

a kiss, day 3

Panting now, she drops the dagger as the deck sways under her bare feet. Lightning flashes again and she sees that his hawk-like features look strangely calm beneath his silver gaze. She can feel her breasts heaving beneath her drenched chemise and knows by his sharp intake of breath he sees it too. All is quiet suddenly; they are in the eyes of the storm. “I hate you,” she whispers. “Yes” he replies. Then he lunges for her, fast and silent, his arms encircling her then reaching to clasp her sodden tresses. Her breasts crush against his broad chest as he whispers along her jawline, “yes”. His mouth against hers is hot and the rain on her arms makes her flesh goosepimple as she unwittingly clings to him. His firm lips slant against her mouth until breathless she gasps aloud. He pulls her more roughly against him and she feels his tongue firm against her own. Heat flushes through her belly and her knees buckle. Around the ship the rain beats on relentlessly.

a kiss, day 4

Giuseppe carefully feeds the tube of liquid plaster into the void left within the settled ash layer. He wipes sweat from his brow for here where his men continue the careful excavation there is no cooling breath from the bay of Naples. Here is only the ash that closed like a coffin around the fugitives; here is the silent scream, the forgotten feast day, the fear captured now in his cast of a fist clenched around some token comfort. He has seen them take shape during this dig, the bodies curled unto themselves, hands holding heads as the Bay trembled and Vesuvius spewed forth fire. He thought he was inured but as the shape begins to form he sobs quietly for the mother with babe clutched to her chest. He knows the small head to be nestled under her chin; he knows her lips to kiss the vulnerable head. Their kiss caught forever, beyond bodies, beyond time: mother and babe.

youth: a kiss

At seven o’clock on a chill August morning a young drunk falls away from the sea wall where he has been propped all night, falls face first into the sand. He opens his eyes upon a long flat line of blue. A beach. A fucking beach. It could be any beach in the world. He can’t remember. He just remembers kissing the girl, the girl with the overcoat, the cigarettes and the sea-misted hair. He trembles and remembers kissing the girl, the soft, salty girl.

man: a kiss

He sits beneath a deco-leaded window done in shades of blue-green and the world around is all early morning light refractions and a silence as vast as a yawn. Outside, beyond this night world of espresso and weary waiters, early suburban commuters drift about still drenched in the pale wash of sleep. Their hands trail slight air currents and are still loose around a briefcase handle. Not enmeshed just yet in the days spinning schedule. Bright office blocks shoot above like strange and exotic flowers of glass, sprung from beds of silver trails wich cross over and under, already nostalgic for their night’s trails. He can smell toast, and single origin brew, feel the blue-filtered light on his hands, the warmth of the cup.
He thinks about Agnes, that restrained and cool first kiss and how she kept her hands at her sides, and he wonders if she still works in town.

girl: a kiss

Frayed gig posters curl up and crawl down the walls. She is on the fire escape swaying slightly with the height and bass thumps from behind. She’s got her scotch-colored glasses on; the world is sepia and wicked with the sulphuric glow of street lights trapped by dark walls rising above. Far below, a polystyrene cup swishes. She can’t look down though, the door to the club has shut and she can taste the amyl nitrate in the back of her throat mixed with an old fear of heights. All around her mean little rooms fall into each other, fans stuck in their old panes. Even the fans can’t find air. They grate slowly round, round and round.
A light goes on and she sees a square room with walls painted hot yellow. On the sill, someone hopeful has placed a vase of cheap pink chrysanthemums. A young woman passes the window, holding a babe, then dropping her head to kiss its halo of pale hair so softly, a falling-petal kiss. The flowers are wilted, but sweet.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Setting fire to paper boats

Two adults sit in the dusk, man and woman. Their conversation is a lake and they cavort in it like teenagers.  He swirls the undercurrents and makes waves then proffers them to her like a powerful gift. She frolics a little and sometimes dives deep under to feel the strength of his tides.
They take up positions at the edge of the lake. The have each made a paper boat, beautiful objects, and now they place them in the water. He pushes his and its prow makes a handsome shape knifing through the water. Her boat is less muscular, it drifts and dips.  They look at each other, at the lake, at what they have made and how beautiful it is.
Suddenly he pulls a matchbook out if his pocket. Her nostrils flare and blood thickens as he strikes flame along the paper. He smirks at her and holds the fire above her boat. In her eyes he can see the reflected flame and himself within it and he likes it. When he drops the lit match the conflagration is immediate, both boats are brief incendiary bombs that could go anywhere wreaking their damage.
But the lake is safe, just a little manmade folly. The conversation slows and turns away from the ash on the water, as it must do. Soon the ash will sink, the wine will be drunk, the evening over.