Tag Archives: macabre

Taking In the Night

I couldn’t quite figure out what had brought me to the moment – a road less traveled, a flip of a switch, fate? Yes, good old reliable fate. It was the only explanation, anyway, that managed to place a roadblock in my racing mind while I lifted the last shovelfuls of soil into the ditch.

I’d rolled him in face down – or he happened to land that way – and I was grateful for only having to look at the back of his head. My arms and back throbbed from hours of digging into the earth so I planted the shovel into a patch of grass and sat down for a cigarette. I fumbled for a lighter in the pocket of my jeans and ignited a tiny flame that brought one last spark to the dying afternoon.

I scanned the area, breathing in images of reds and oranges and the hard scent of early autumn that always reminded me of highways at night and the coming of snow. Memories washed over me as I assumed they always do when you lose a loved one, of holidays and one of kissing Charlie in our driveway. I blew them away with the smoke and flicked the butt into the ditch. It landed on his pant leg; I used the shovel to get it off.

Another hour’s worth of packing dirt and he was gone, and I stood looking for my own hands in the dark. I took out the lighter again and gave one last look at where I’d left him.

“Thanks for nothing,” I whispered to no one, and let the flame go out again.

We’d married young, as most did in those days, living off of whims instead of income. Soon after we’d already checked “home” and “baby” off of the list, and I’d grown bored. He worked in a factory, taking in sweat and metal and the whirring of giant machines, telling dirty jokes at lunch; I made batches of iced tea and looked forward to afternoon naps.

Our whims were quickly sealed in concrete. My hair had not yet grayed, but I had already lost the energy to break them free. “Yes dear” “No dear” were the only things that parted my lips with the exception of lullabies and a bottle of vodka in a stray kitchen cabinet. Wake up, feed child, feed husband, clean house, rinse and repeat.

I hadn’t thought much about what would happen after the sun went down, and now I’d found myself in the thick dark of the woods, ten miles from home but much further in the night. The lighter illuminated only my face and the hanging tips of tree branches, so I shoved it back in my pocket and resorted to finding my way as a zombie, arms straight out and stiff, rows of cool bark at my fingertips. I staggered through brush and remnants of a bonfire that crushed aluminum cans and paper plates beneath my feet. I smiled through pitch black. Charlie was packed in deep, the barricade of silence he’d always tried to build finally on his side.

Things got less boring as we grew older; I added heavy layers of powder to my daily makeup routine, and Charlie had become the one wielding a bottle of vodka. He didn’t bother with a cabinet to hide it in, and instead had it by his side as he enjoyed his morning paper. It doubled as mouthwash at night. I made an effort only to stay out of his way, tiptoeing through corners of my own home, cooking dinner and trying hard to disappear into the walls.

My breathing grew shallow as time passed. The darkness grew closer to me and every direction soon looked the same. Mentally I scolded myself for my lack of preparation. Finally I’d had the nerve, finally I’d freed myself, and there I was trapped in the very place I was trying so desperately to rid myself of.

He’d complained loudly about the red sauce I’d used. I told him it was the same brand I always bought – the truth. He hadn’t asked if I’d added something new.

Eventually I gave up on finding direction. I could feel my face grow hot with embarrassment although there was no one there to witness my failure as a first-time criminal. I felt below me for a patch of ground and lowered myself to my knees. I sat still, taking in the night, calm in my new-found glory and the serenity of the unknown draped at my feet.

“At least I’m finally alone,” I whispered.

I had time for one last panicked inhale before his hands were wrapped like vines around my neck and I was flailing like a rag-doll in a dying sliver of moonlight. He smelled like earth, that sweet must after a rainstorm. I thought of the grit on my skin and how my entire life had been a series of exciting beginnings and disappointing ends. I think I smiled as the moon disappeared. I think I thanked him.

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A Crossroads

cabin

We are all, at some point in our lives, handed an envelope of sorts. In that envelope – sometimes crisp, sometimes worn and wrinkled, depending – are two decisions. One from your bones, one from your brainwashed head. If you lack passion, go for the head. But I say go for the bones.

Always go for the bones.

I met my first crossroads when I was eighteen. The day after graduation I was behind the wheel of my father’s pickup, winding my back way from a friend’s, when I spotted her: sweat pants, loose tee, the curve of one shoulder on point in the sinking sunlight. An old handbag clapped against her side as she weaved through trash and high grass on the side of a back road. Before the stop sign I’d already noticed her thumbing it like clockwork. I still don’t know what pressed my foot to the break pedal instead of the gas.

A jumble of words filled the air and she was in the leather cab, the handbag on the seat between us. I cleared my throat, she shifted and rested an elbow on the windowsill. The window was up and she turned her head towards blurred houses. Her fogged breath sprayed in circles on the glass. I focused on green lights until there was a red one and I asked her name as the truck idled.

“Nancy,” she said. She had some kind of accent, something nasally. I though of the city, what she was doing here. I nodded and twisted my grip on the steering wheel. “Take me to the nearest motel,” she’d asked. I managed to avoid passing any in town, and headed far out with methodical turns. She stayed relaxed. My mind raced.

“Here” I said, parking. A tan, rectangular building and a neon sign, that was all. The highest curve of the sun was peaking from behind it. I smiled. “Let me pay, it’s the least I can do.” As if the ride hadn’t been enough, she didn’t object.

I slipped the credit card back into my wallet, we headed through the parking lot to 32B, I opened the door. She had nothing but the handbag, nothing I could offer to carry. “Thanks,” she mumbled, holding the knob. Suddenly her face was a landside of realization. I stared at the navy carpet from the doorway. Her grip loosened like the waving of a white flag. Her whole, complicated life, had it all come to this? Maybe it was nothing new.

I stepped inside.

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Severance

The delightfully morbid Severance – by Pulitzer Prize winning author Robert Olen Butler –  has quickly become one of my favorite short-story reads. One of my writing professors mentioned it somewhere down the line of my college career, and the idea of recently beheaded characters sharing their final thoughts before the lights go out…well, obviously it sparked my interest. So I scribbled the book’s title in a corner of my notebook and searched for a copy on Amazon that day.

It’s a very quick and very interesting read, some characters real, some fictional, each story appearing almost as a poem. I’ve always been a huge fan of the stream-of-consciousness style, and at times even try to work it into my own writing.

Butler’s book was inspired by two concepts:

1.) “After decapitation, the human head is believed to remain in a state of consciousness for one and one-half minutes.” 

2.) “In a heightened state of emotion, people speak at the rate of 160 words per minute.”

So, of course, once each character is presented and their cause of beheaded-ness is explained, their final, headless thoughts are given to us in the form of 160 words. My personal favorites (with brief excerpts) are:

“Valeria Messalina: wife of Emperor Claudius I of Rome, beheaded by order of her husband, 48”

we are panting now we are the Circus Maximus we are the rush of wheels the wild breath of horses on the throne room floor the bright expanse of marble I shift my eyes and I see us both in the mirror of stone” 

“Dragon: beast, beheaded by Saint George, 301”

“my wings are still, I close my eyes and open them and all around are the quivery greentops and the great ball of breath above, I will fly up that high sometime but now I am in a peaceful dawdle that I don’t understand, full in the center and sweet heavy in my legs and fluttery of the wingtips”

Yes, there is a dragon. There’s a chicken, too. Butler even ends with himself! And so, laden with inspiration after reading these very interesting pieces, I’ve decided to try recording my own final thoughts.

Nicole Marie, decapitated by a crazed fan of her award-winning debut novel, 2014 (wishful thinking.)

but everything is so bright, turn out the lights and come to bed, I whispered, why can’t you hear me? it’s that dream again, the one where I’m running but not getting anywhere the one where I see you then I don’t it’s dark, it’s so dark and I can’t back out of this tunnel before the cold comes again the whiteness of the highway always bothered me, the clips that were supposed to keep us awake and now it’s Christmas and the fan is buzzing and my head is in your lap while you pull that blanket to my chin you kiss my forehead, it’s a bad hangover or something worse I’m nauseous that pit is in my stomach again why do I have to leave you’re transparent I feel the sweat on your face your jacket smells like fire they never were proud of me were they? i’m so proud of you, you said, get some sleep now 

 

It would be pretty awesome to see what you guys could come up with. Any takers? Post and link back? Anyone? Is this thing on?

Happy Friday!

 

 

 

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An obsession with the macabre doesn’t make me crazy. I swear.

I have applied for every job that has come my way, and still I am hearing nothing but crickets on the other side. BUT, I am trying to make the most of my afternoons off, writing and working out and lounging in the air conditioner.

Yesterday I marched into a local Barnes & Noble and demanded to speak to a manager (or…quietly and politely asked…whatever), only to be told they are not hiring, but that they would keep my resume and application on file. I am looking into a second job, until something even more wonderful comes along; Joe and I are hoping to get our own place, and we need lots of $$$ <—that stuff.

Once in a while I veer away from the path of novel writing and attempt to churn out a poem or two. I have submitted a few pieces in a contest for Writer’s Relief, and am keeping all fingers and toes crossed. The majority of my poetry follows the theme of most of my other writing: gore, murder, depression, the works. Should I die and someone comes across my flash drive, they’d probably think I had some major personal issues.

I’m not sure where the intense interest comes from. But, I find myself being able to explain the death and decomposition of a character in more elaborate detail than I am the love between two others.

This poem is a quick glimpse at the usual topic of my writing, from the point-of-view of a wife and mother murdered by her husband, and how he lied to their daughter. Feedback is appreciated. I need subscribers!

 

I am here, I am silent

A mother in a conduit

A daughter in a murky lie

I am here, I am silent

Screaming your name

And bouncing off the steel

That you used to

Hide my limbs

In pieces

In the plastic

That held

Our daughter’s crafts

That were never

Quite good enough

But you scraped them

From the darkness

And put me inside

And told her

I had left her

While you

Kissed her on the head

And I sucked

The cinnamon

Of her skin

And the things

She once held

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