{drabble} Skywhales

I wake in the quiet, just as dawn extends her soft hands, slivers of light crawling into my window, caressing my eyes. The world outside my window has stilled, no one has anywhere to go this early. My cat, sensing my awakeness, rumbles and pushes his head against my cheek. Absentmindedly, my fingers flex and curl into his fur, his warmth reassuring.

Beside me, my wife shifts, murmuring in her sleep, and I wonder if she dreams. I stare at the ceiling, feeling my body lie heavily on the bed. I wonder if I will sleep again, I wonder what this new day will hold, I wonder what will be for dinner, I begin a to-do list. I have a silent conversation with my friend, hearing her voice in my head as we wander through the mists in my mind. I wave at her as we part ways, my hand of flesh unconsciously mimicking my imaginary hand, which makes me giggle out loud. 

The noise is startling, here in the silence. I feel as though I’ve broken an unspoken vow. I blink in the pale light and peer out the window into the world, cotton candy clouds drifting past. I catch sight of a skywhale and gasp.

I’m moving, rising quickly, excited, heart racing. I pat an apology atop my cat’s protesting head as I slip into my slippers and quietly make my way through the house. I get to the balcony in time to see the skywhale float by, a calf spinning in her wake. They move so gracefully through the clouds, tails swishing, backs arching - I can see the little one as he interrupts a V of birds. The birds squawk their frustrations, but they know it’s a waste of time, and after the slightest of hesitation they rise up, up, high above the whales before regrouping.

I’ve heard about the skywhales, of course. They’ve been spotted here and there along the coastal regions since the end of the last era. But here? Here in the space between yesterday and today, I am delighted beyond reason to see them for myself.

As the pair make their slow, graceful path past my balcony, the little one darts near enough to make eye contact with me. I am instantly weeping, moved by the gentle wisdom and depth of heart reflected in his tiny giant eye. I stand motionless, in awe, watching til they’re out of sight beyond the rising sun.

I make my way back to bed. It's darker than I remember, here just before the day begins. I am startled to see myself lying there, snuggled in between cat and wife - I gasp, and in that moment, I am gone.

{drabble} paper unicorns

“I’ll never get them to trust me after this,” she sighed, tucking the unicorn into her pocket. Looking behind her, she glared at the dark wizard. Even encased in crystal, he frightened her – though she tried not to show it. That wouldn’t do.

So she faced him. “I’ve killed twice to stop you,” she said, tightly controlling the tremble in her voice. “I’ve taken two lives. And now I’ve an entire species to restore,” she gently patted her pocket, “and their trust to regain.”

She looked into his frozen eyes, and could not restrain the shiver that ran down her spine. “And, of course, you.”

She knew what to do. And she was the only one left who would.

{drabble} Real.

It started suddenly. 

She was looking out the window while her father drove them down the coast, when off in the distance she saw one.

They'd made this trip dozens of times, but this was a first. She blinked. Rubbed her eyes. Still out there, a dragon-shaped darkness against the night.

But then they were everywhere.

Pegasus shadows sailing over the barn.

Pixies in the crisper.

Elves swimming in the river.

Gnomes merrily working in her windowsill garden.

And of course, still more dragon-shaped darknesses outside her window at night.

She learned not to mention what she could see. Too dangerous; no one believed.

Then came the Unicorn. Its regal mane flowing over its slender neck, so white she could barely stand to gaze upon it. She dropped her basket, forgotten apples scattering. It pranced, danced, gracefully slid right up to her, lowered its head to her. She reached up, trembling fingers sliding through. 

"Oh." Her face fell, tears brimming. "Oh, you're an illusion. I thought..."

The unicorn whinnied. "No," its voice like windchimes, music box notes ringing. "You're the illusion."

{poem} the night I did not have a heart attack

The night I did not have a heart attack
I really thought I might be dying but
I was trying not to blow things out of proportion or
accidentally be a drama queen.
I felt like one of those people
on those commercials who
say they called 911 just in the nick of time,
but I wasn't when the nick of time was and
after all, it could just be heartburn or
even an anxiety attack and either way
probably nothing serious, I mean
I have good cholesterol and
don’t eat red meat or ever put salt on anything,
so in the end, I took an aspirin and a muscle relaxer
and went to sleep -
but not before making a will
(just in case)
and not before feeling so afraid
for so long
I forgot what courage felt like,
and not before considering that
this is how
the rich stay rich and
the poor end up dead.
And then I lay in bed and wondered
what is so wrong that my own heart
would attack me?
Why would my heart declare war?

The day I did not have a heart attack
I stagnated, a pool of dark deep water
unwilling to reflect the light
unable to see through the murky depths
I wasted time - time I thought I had to burn
time spent on Facebook and
thrashing on Youtube, watching videos
I did not even enjoy and
do not even remember.
I did not write a single word or
text a single friend,
I did not laugh or cry or
feel much of anything at all.
I spent my precious day
my one wild and crazy Monday, 
the last day of the last November 2015 will ever see,
avoiding the things I love to do by
doing things that numbed me to how much it hurt
to avoid the things I love to do.

And then I dared to wonder
why
my heart
might flutter in her cage?

The night I did not have a heart attack
I went for a walk for the first time in years,
holding hands with my wife and talking
about Christmas lights and stars and love and
I knew in those long, terrifying moments,
while death breathed down my neck,
that everything would change, that
it is time to give my heart a reason to keep beating,
to begin peace talks with myself and with the Goddess,
to make love to my life and
write inconvenient poetry at 3am and
go to the ocean more often and
talk more with my son,
to spend more time with my wife and
text my loved ones every time I think of them,
to relish in the purr of my cat,
to never go to sleep angry,
hug as many people as possible every day,
to breathe deeply and sing loudly,
to laugh long and hard and unashamed,
to weep at the beauty and the majesty of this world,
to approach myself with compassion and to
listen
really listen
for really real
to my heart
because the night I did not have a heart attack -
I did not die and
what not dying of a heart attack taught me
is how very much I want to live.

{drabble} Dreams.

No one finds more than pieces of new dreams anymore...

I wasn't looking for dreams, anyway. I was looking for music. Having the best sex of my life, but we needed new music - which seems unrelated maybe, but dreams come unbidden when the mind quiets, the mind quiets when the body lives loudly, and if sex isn't living loudly I don't know what is. Really good sex mingles living and dying all together in gasps and sweat and teardrops of release.

And ours was really good sex, but we needed new music. So I set off to find some.

But I found the dream instead. A whole one. And it took hold of me, putting all I knew at risk.

{drabble} second chances

It’s not that she was a bad child. She was stubborn, difficult, often challenging and occasionally downright immovable, but not bad. Her father had died the day before she was born. I’d done everything I could to give her a good life on my own. I didn’t have to work; her father’s company supported us, so I devoted my life to raising her well.

Somewhere along the way, I must have done something wrong. Otherwise, this wouldn’t be happening.

I watched her sitting with the other kids. She was lecturing on the behaviors of cats, holding her own kitten captive so she could bare his tiny teeth and gently expose his claws for demonstration. The other children were enthralled. I could just barely hear her, and everything she said was factual and correct. I wondered where she’d learned so much about cats; the kitten had been a present only this morning. Today was her 12th birthday.

She was so brilliant, it frightened me.

I turned back to the conversation. “She’s gotten so distant from me. I can’t get through to her anymore; she does her own thing most of the time, and when I try to teach her something – anything – she knows more about it already than I do. She has no patience for lessons with me. We’ve grown so far apart, but all I’ve ever done has been for her.”

The teacher nodded, compassion in her soft brown eyes. “Do you touch her?”

I stared at her. I looked over at my daughter and realized I couldn’t remember the last time we’d held hands or hugged or touched at all. I was flooded with sorrow. I couldn’t speak.

The teacher reached out and put her hand on my arm. The feeling of warmth and skin on my skin was so foreign to me; I realized I hadn’t touched anyone else, either. She looked out over the children, then turned back to me. “Her stars say she’s a very physical person. We all are, really, but her especially so. Can you remember the last time you held her in your arms?”

Memories flooded me. The grief at losing her father poured through me, mixed with the joy at her birth. Her perfect little face, eyes that matched his, her ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes, her completeness. The older she grew, the more like him she became – both in looks and in behaviors. Eventually, it became too much for me, and I retreated into my head. I stopped touching her, grew cold when she would reach for me.

How long ago had that been? Oh gods, nearly ten years?

My heart burst, I broke into tears. I stood, sobbing, and walked toward her. As I grew closer, the other children scattered, clearing the path between me and my daughter.

She looked up at me, her eyes cold, calculating.

A moment, a lifetime, an eternity passed. Tears rolled down my face. Neither of us spoke. The kitten wriggled free and scampered off, unnoticed. She stood, taking slow, hesitant steps toward me.

Her eyes changed, softened. Deepened. Our fingers reached out toward each other.

I was holding her hand. She was holding my hand. We were standing closer than we’d been in years; I could feel her warmth. I could smell her; grass and kitten and dirt and cherry shampoo. Our eyes were locked and for this moment, there was nothing else in the universe.

“Give me a second chance?” I asked.

She nodded.

I looked into the soft brown eyes of my toddler. Today was her second birthday; she grew more like her father every day, and the pain in my heart from losing him eased when I looked at her. She toddled toward me, arms wide, and I scooped her up and spun her around. I pulled her close to me, kissing her face a dozen times.

A shiver ran through me; I heard a voice like wind in my ears. This is your second chance…

I wasn’t sure what it meant. My daughter patted my cheek, tugged my hair, asking for attention. I looked at her and a lifetime flashed in her eyes; pain, sorrow, distance between us. For a moment, her eyes turned cold, calculating. I nearly sat her down, I wanted to shield myself from how like her father she was.

I wanted to close my heart.

But then she grinned, and the moment broke. Her eyes softened, lit up, and she started singing her favorite song. I kissed her a dozen times more, nuzzling her soft baby skin, feeling her warmth. I snuggled her close to me, close to my heart.

I would never let her go.

Not this time.

{drabble} circles in the carpet

She sat in the driver’s seat of her brand-new car in the parking lot of her brand-new apartment, her head resting on the steering wheel as she willed herself to get out. To go inside. To start her brand-new life.

She took a deep breath, dried her eyes, and opened the car door. The cool night air rushed in like a lover eager to greet her.

If only.

She shook away the thought, burying the memories. Not now.

She opened the hatch and pulled out her duffel, slinging it over her shoulder. She took the first few steps toward her apartment with trepidation until determination took hold and her pace quickened. She unlocked the door, sweeping it open and stepping inside. Fumbling for the light, she dropped her bag on the plushly carpeted floor. Her fingertips found the switch, throwing on a soft golden glow.

It illuminated the tiny loft like sunrise.

She gasped.

Not here, too.

Keys, duffel, trepidation – all forgotten. She took a couple of steps further into the room, heart pounding, breath held.

Oh, yes. She could see clearly now.

Crop circles.

In the carpet.

{drabble} diamonds

“Anyway, these are extraordinary, much more than the usual stone.”

She nodded, stifling a yawn. He noticed.

“So sorry.” His perfect British accent made him sound even snider than he intended. “Am I boring you?”

“Yes. You are. You’ve been droning on for ages!” She ran her fingers through the bowl of sparkling gems, scowling as he smacked her hand.

“Dammit, woman. Leave off. They’re not yours.”

“Oh, but they are,” she muttered, her fist closing tightly around several hundred stones. She turned and ran, disappearing into the darkness. She tripped, cursing, and the diamonds spilled from her grip and lifted up into the sky, becoming inseparable from the stars that lit the night.