Monthly Archives: January 2009

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Blinding light flashes against her review mirror as the setting sun behind her gets to just the exact level to assault her eyes. Sighing, she reaches up to flip the angle and she notices the age of her hands. What it had been like to be young, the arrogance of youth; she never noticed her hands at twenty but at fifty eight she sees them all the time. Exhausted she places her hand back on the wheel and watches the road, slowing down as she hits the edges of the derelict town.

Forty one years ago she had left this place. Forty one years ago she had piled into her clunker of her car, the one only she could get running, with one bag and stone cold fear only outweighed by her need to flee. It had been a broken town then. Every ten years or so people would move in and try to revive it but nothing ever thrived. Factories shut down, earth couldn’t grow crops, businesses went unnoticed and families left the way they came.

Her car was no longer a clunker, but a reliable Volvo; she had a kind husband, one daughter was a veterinarian, her other two children were in college, life had been beautiful. Why had she chosen now to come back here? She had to clean up. Slowing down she pulls to the side of the road parking under power lines that no longer buzzed with electricity.

Flashes, not light this time, in her head of that summer. It was hot, oppressively so and the judge’s son was the only beautiful thing in that forsaken place. She loved him, loved him with the intensity only a seventeen year old girl could have.

She shakes her head and steps from her car the door shutting behind her with an echo. It was time to find it, to lay it all to rest. Mandy’s house still stood on the corner, though that seemed to be all it still did. She moves across the road and steps around the rusted fence. Inside the paint was in strips at best, the olive green barely showing. Her boots crunched against the torn and rotting floor. Someone had dragged a mattress into the back of this house and she ignores the implications.

Flashes, not clouds over sun but that summer again. Mandy calling her name through the house, begging her to come back, not to be stupid. The heat of her anger boiled into something alive within her body; something so fierce it rivaled the sticky season. She had left that night.

She takes a slow breath and steps free of her childhood friend’s home and it was only a rock’s throw to the judge’s old house right across from the silo now covered in graffiti. From here she could see the old school, its broken windows, the haunted remains.

Flashes, not strobe lights but the memories flooding. She had gone blind with rage and she knew the judge and his wife were gone for the weekend. That was the problem in the first place, that and Nina Mae with her blond curls and open legs.

Stumbling over the broken step she makes it onto the sagging porch and presses her hand to the door. Groaning loud enough to make her wince the door gives way and allows her to enter the house. It smelled musty, old, no one had lived anywhere near here in ages. The wall paper was filthy and faded, the floor covered in dust and dirt. Her heart froze.

Up the stairs, was she floating? First door on the left, that had been his room. Entering she was prepared to search the old far wall for the hatch but it had been busted long ago. Age, time, years had taken none of the memories away.

Flashes, not from drugs but from her whirring brain. He had blue eyes the same color as the sky at high noon and a laugh that made your insides take flight. She had given him everything but he had been ungrateful.

Bending she crawls into the passageway, fingers searching, was she shaking? No. She had complete control. Her hands, hands that had lived, pry up the board in the back corner. Belly down, dust filling her nose she reaches in, stretches. Contact. She feels the cold steel of the tire iron. No one ever found it.

Pulling it out she lets her eyes scan it slowly and then, there, on her knees in the rotted wood, she pushes the boards back into place. Hefting the weight of the tool in her hand a world of weariness falls upon her for a brief moment and then, just as quickly, it is gone.

Like a ghost she moves through the house, out the front door and back to her car. She did not go to the school or walk the haunted football field that she knew still stood in pieces. No, she had a little trip to make out to the ocean. Now she would have closure.

For the first time all day, she smiles, and starts her engine leaving the tainted town for the second time, this time never to return.

Inspired by Cellar Township built by Outy Banjo

Inspired by Cellar Township built by Outy Banjo

OpenSpaces

The air was heavy with the smell of sweat, smoke and tuna sandwiches. The space was lit by an orange-yellow glow streaming in from high windows. The light spilled down haphazardly upon stacks of boxes that stood floor to ceiling between me and the noises coming from the other side of the room.

“Where are you?” I half yelled into the ceiling, hoping my words would find the right ricochet to his ears.

“I’m over here .. past the pile of old maps,” came the tired reply.

I stood for a moment, staring at the maze of boxed pillars. I leaned left then right, trying to see if there might be some clue as to the entrance to his maze but there was none, so I took the most direct route ahead. There were more twists and turns than I had possibly imagined, the boxes were almost new but they were packed full, some overflowing with notes and most with the label “OS” scratched in black felt pen on the side.

I ran my hand along the pillars as I walked for what seemed miles until I found the heap of old maps, only they weren’t that old. I thumbed through them quickly, noticing the dates on each were just days apart but the land mass changed drastically map to map.  They would have played like a flip book cartoon showing the evolution of the world if I could have held them to do so, but something seemed wrong.

Just then, I heard his voice much closer than before, “Don’t bother with those, they will be destroyed with the rest of these once I get to them.” I looked up and saw him, a small figure hunched over an incinerator.   His shirt sleeves were rolled carelessly around his sinewy arms that lifted and emptied each box expertly in almost a machine like fashion.  Each time he emptied a box, a small puff of smoke escaped from the top of the black iron box and he waited for it to dissipate before lifting the next.

He didn’t stop when I approached.

“What are you doing?” I asked, but he didn’t stop to answer. He paused only long enough to wipe the sweat from his wrinkled brow then bent again quickly to empty the next box.

I turned around and looked again at the pillars of white boxes. They seemed to be marching toward us …”Into the valley of death rode the six hundred …”.

A puff of smoke found its way into my lungs, and I coughed almost uncontrollably, caught off guard by the thick black soot.    “Oh, I’m sorry about that,” he said, “some of them flash burn and belch out a nasty ash – I’m almost afraid I’m going to blow this place up one night with one of those.”

“One of those what?” I sputtered.

“It’s usually the artist colonies that create the most ash, but lucky for me most of the others were merely homesteads – which is where the name came from by the way. Anyway, those homesteads barely make this old iron box breathe hard,” he replied without breaking the pace of his movement.

I had been drawn to a box overflowing with notes as he spoke, and I stopped and looked up to read one that tempted me.

We regret to inform you that we have been forced to abandon our island due to pricing changes. At this time, we do not have recommendations for moving, as many of our friends and neighbors are facing the same circumstances. We thank you for making our lives rich, and we wish you the best of luck.

Respectfully yours …

I yanked the note out of the box and held it out toward him, “This is what you are burning, notes from homesteaders?”

“Notes, assets, terrain files, basically everything and anything associated with that establishment,” he grunted under the strain of what must have been another artist colony since the iron box groaned, then roared, then belched.

“But, why?” I asked, wiping my eyes with my sleeve.

He finally stood up, as much as he could in his state of constant hunch, and faced me. He didn’t look at all like the man I’d met three years before. His hair was thin and dark, a far cry from the boyish blond locks that once framed his face, and his eyes had turned from aquatic pools into cold steel traps, and they narrowed just before he spoke.

“Look, having this stuff around just makes people uneasy and there’s no sense in keeping it all – can’t you see it’s just cluttering up the place? My job is to keep the books neat and tidy and these, these monstrosities are making that nearly impossible for me. Historical records are for historians, not a forward looking business group.”

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish this out soon so I can clean up the stability and quality data warehouses. I trust you can find your way out.”

Inspired by OpenSpaces ~ Aera by Alia Baroque pictured

Inspired by OpenSpaces everywhere ~ Aera by Alia Baroque pictured