I tried my damnedest to save Madeleine from the demon part of herself, but the moment I saw those black eyes and blue lips and my nostrils filled with the acrid scent of her burnt soul, I knew I was too late.
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“Let’s just talk about this some other time,” she sighed in exasperation. She being Lexi, my once and future girlfriend who is currently merely an ex. Don’t tell her I said merely, that’ll only set off another unnecessary argument.
“Why not settle it now?” I asked.
I watched the topography of her brow change as Lexi bit back her honest response. After a controlled exhale, she offered, “Because I don’t have your full attention.”
“Don’t be silly. Of course you do.”
“Can you please not lie to me, just this once?”
“I’m not lying, I swear.”
Lexi rolled her eyes. “I can see the movement behind your irises.”
I wanted to turn away from her, but that would have been an admission and I wasn’t in the mood to be caught in a lie. Again. “That’s nothing but a trick of the light and your overactive imagination.”
“My overactive imagination? Seriously? Project much?”
“That’s you all over, isn’t it? Creating drama where none’s present.”
“There wouldn’t be any need for drama if you simply cut the shit and tell me what you’re thinking.”
“If I was thinking something, and I’m not saying I am, what business is it of yours? We’re not a thing anymore, remember?”
Lexi threw her hands up. “Precisely why we’re not a thing, because of you and your secrets.”
I craned my neck and peered over Lexi’s shoulder, scanning the server area behind her. “Where’s our server?”
“On his lunch break if he has any common sense. Probably duped some poor unsuspecting clod into covering his tables.”
Wouldn’t it be great if people, much like good short stories, came with prefaces since sometimes the inspiration for how someone came to be the person standing before you is far more interesting than the stories they choose to reveal? Like glimpsing the person behind the curtain. The problem with that logic is a good introduction can’t be composed until the story is completed and we can’t very well write our own prefaces after we’re dead. Which I guess makes it more of a postmortem than an actual preface.
“You hold my very moment.”
“What does that mean?”
“Simply that you keep me here, grounded to this spot at this moment in time. When I am with you, I am nowhere else. My mind does not wander, I do not desire being anywhere else than with you, right here, right now.”
“You say the oddest things at times, but thank you, I suppose. It is kind of a sweet thing to say, actually.”
You may not know it to look at me, but I’m a real estate tycoon. I own more acres of land than I know what to do with, complete with property, some with sturdy foundations, other less so. Where, you ask? You should be asking when.
All my property exists in the past. Acreages of failed relationships with family, friends, and lovers, all abandoned before they could reach their full potential. Some were cut short by circumstances beyond my control, but the majority were absolutely avoidable if only I had taken time to till the soil.
Stories are the creatures that forage in the wilderness of our minds. Their claws pierce our curiosity, digging in deep to prevent our escape, as they force us into their maw, past razor-sharp teeth of conflict.
Kathryn’s gift, her one unique talent, had always been projecting a calm demeanor that she expertly layered like cosmetics over all her various and sundry rough patches until her public life appeared positively silken. Her deceptive doe eyes and counterfeit, rouge-cheeked smile helped the ruse remain balanced.
My memory? A sieve in which past recollections drain away into one of the many great black holes of half-forgotten yesterdays. Could it be the result of a built-in self-defense mechanism that tamps down the harmful events one never quite survives intact? Or am I simply a poor caretaker of retrospection?
I find that in order to remember a past event, I must pluck photographs from an album I do not recall assembling and fold the still images into my locks, like planting seeds in soil in hopes that these memories will take root and replace the ones that have evaporated forever.
According to the superstitious urban legend passed down by fish wives, it is said that when Death first approaches you, you feel it in your bones in the same manner arthritic joints can sense a change in the weather, but such was not the case for Millie Poole. She felt the arrival in her chest as if her heart was a charcoal briquette coated with lighter fluid anxiously awaiting the Grim Reaper’s fiery embrace.