Simplicity

Photo by Raamin ka on Unsplash
Photo by Raamin ka on Unsplash

She claimed me a simple fellow bereft of ideas and ambition. In many ways, this was true, but not all. Whilst she revelled in opulent un-necessities, as I termed them, I made do. As she basked by day in dazzling pools of gold, quicksilver sprinkles by evening, I brushed off the ragged darkness and settled for black. This was just my way. As you might imagine, we clashed. Money and its making was ever a seduction to some.
Lissette was as headstrong as I was meek. She wore me down. She erased my lines like pencil from a clean, white page. It seemed I wore my soul as a too-long cape, one that dragged in the gutter, grew wet and mould-ridden, whilst she bought ever more spectacular silks and flaunted them as a modern-day Scheherazade. She recited her wondrous tales to whoever, whenever, just to get her way. Something had to change, as I was no king and she certainly no prospective queen. Yes, something had to change. But what?
The simplest solutions are often the best, and mine was the simplest of all: I ran. I gathered all I owned, emptied the accounts, leaving her with next to nothing, and fled to the mountains where once I’d thrived as a boy. There, where only goats roamed and cows munched the pastures, I lived the simplest of simple lives. Unfortunately, even this was too much.
She appeared one windswept evening, drenched and enraged. Her clothes hung from her like a wailing banshee, her skin now of spectral shades. What beauty she’d flaunted had long since past. Even her eyes had dimmed. If she still possessed the gold and silver she so valued, there was not one sign. Had she sold all her belongings, spent her, or rather, our fortune, just to track me? Could she truly have been so petty?
“You left.” She slammed the shack door closed to a whistle and a whoosh.
“I did.”
“You… left… me…”
“I did.” What else was there to say?
She shook so violently, raindrops sprayed everywhere, soaking everything, including me.
“You made me look foolish.”
“You did that on your own.”
“Me!” she said, as if in disbelief.
“What do you want?”
“It back.”
“You can’t.”
“I’m your wife…”
“We were never married. Never would have been, either.”
“In the eyes of the law, we were, and I want what I’m entitled to.”
She unravelled a script that said as much. I read it, rolled it back up and refastened the thing. I set her with one of my best looks and said, “I gave it all away.”
She laughed for some reason. Lissette almost split her sides. Only after several minutes of tears and frothing did she recompose.
“Where is it?”
“With a boy in Toulon. An old woman in London. A gypsy somewhere in between. There were, of course, others, all far more needy than I. The list was extensive. Now, I have this and nothing more. I spread my arms out wide.
I had seen rivers breach and even a volcano blow its top in Sicily, but nothing compared to her. Lissette knew me as well as I knew her, and there was never any doubt of my lying.
The dagger slipped into her hand as easily as a dream into sleep. Even easier into my heart, and twice in my head.


I woke to a glistening web of a place, neither silver nor gold, rich nor poor. The others were there, those I’d assisted, helping me to my feet, smiling.
“Is she…?”
“No, said the boy.
“Down there,” said the old lady, who looked decidedly better than when last I’d seen her.
“Cursed,” added the gypsy. She crossed herself and spat.
“Oh,” said I.
I wept then. Not for being murdered, nor that briefest of pain, but for Lissette.
“Why?” chorused the masses who’d benefited from my philanthropy, all those she’d tracked and butchered.
“I loved her.”
As I said, the simplest answers are always best. Never embellish them with adornments, no matter how fierce the shame.

The End


Thank you for reading
Richard

Within the Rose

Petals folded, clasped tight
No perfume escapes
Here, protected from life’s thorns and barbs
Cocooned isolationists sleep
Dreaming in false colours
Of Edens closed and gated
Ones milked in moonlight
And bathed in ebony shades
Shame!
If only someone had told them
Within the rose all worlds are possible
Once we cease to scream


Thank you for reading

Richard

Bullet

Photo by Marek Studzinski on Unsplash
Photo by Marek Studzinski on Unsplash

You know when your time’s up by the slowing of your breaths. A blink takes a century, a smile forever, the world around you stalls. Teardrops catch mid-cheek like dewdrops in a web. The blood in your veins turns sluggish and turgid. Your every organ closes down with a malfunctioning sigh. That’s what they say, but that’s not what happened to me.
I hung in the moment as Hell opened and Heaven slammed closed its gates, straining, determined to breathe, convinced of putting words to my madness. Battles raged all around as though I wasn’t there, smiles flitting across faces, scowls more, love, honour, all instants in time. More was lost in those seconds of non-redemption than eternity could hold. Infinity wrapped in a watch face, I crumbled.
That’s what you did to me, when you stole my heart. You killed me with a bullet not shot from a gun. You attacked with a weapon called love, then walked away and left me to die. Kindness, that’s what you murdered me with. I never stood a chance.
I never will.


Thanks for reading 
Richard

Sapphire Blue

Photo by Ion Fet on Unsplash
Photo by Ion Fet on Unsplash

Londinium’s streets filled with merchants of every description. Some purveyors of fine silks set up stalls in such-and-such an alley, others of fresh produce in this and that, the retailers of jewels and gold settled closer to the constabulary’s arterial junction. It, or rather, she, sat somewhere in between.
Less an organ grinder’s monkey, but not quite a ventriloquist’s dummy, she rested, her coiled legs draped over the side of a wooden cart. Her creator, or owner, or whatever he was, poled people to guess her name at a sovereign a head. He promised great riches to the soul who guessed correctly, though I ventured no one ever did.
Entranced, I squeezed through the gathered crowd to better gaze upon her, excusing myself more times than decorum demanded. Nevertheless, it felt nowhere near enough. At my last muttered apology and doffing of my hat, I looked up: there she was.
She was stunning, beautiful, yet made. Plaited horsehair adorned her bonnet-less head, which stood against convention, but looked right on her. A face of chalked perfection rested on a frame of awkward, angular imperfection. The contrast made for an uneasy balance. Yet, it was not her body I looked upon, but her eyes. Even though I knew it was wrong, evil even, an affront to God, I could have stared into them forever.
The almost-woman had the sort of eyes that dreamt of oceans, a blue so deep as to swim to the stars. She stared out across her audience impassively, searching for something, searching for me. I was hers, and she was mine.
“Hey, that’s a sovereign’s worth of a gawking you’ve given. You gonna guess ‘er name or not?”
I paid the man his money and walked away.
“Hey! Hey, mister! Ain’t you gonna guess then?”
“Sapphire,” I replied.
“Wrong,” he expounded.
Maybe to you I thought, but Sapphire she remained. My dreams would be eternally painted blue.


Thank you for reading
Richard

50 Word Stories – Ocean Bound

Unsplash image courtesy of Tolga Ahmetler

Lost in moonlit moments, we walked along the creaking pier, as wicked surf stripped the ancient wood of yesteryear’s memories.
“We’re ocean bound,” I called to a nosey seagull. He cawed a warning, one we chose to ignore.
We held each other as we drowned, no longer lost, just smiling.

Thank you for reading

Richard

Alligator Eyes

mohammed-ajwad-xYpRJMuvG4s-unsplash
Photo by Mohammed Ajwad on Unsplash

There was something about her. Something impassive. All she lacked was the nictitating membranes of a reptile’s eyes, that brief translucence before the kill. She killed often. I know. After all, she killed me.
We met on a windswept Wednesday, when everyone with sense remained indoors. I caught her umbrella as it blew from her hand, or rather, she let slip from between her fingers.
We walked, drank coffee, and later… danced. Wednesday night became Thursday morning and the sun reappeared. The city streets steamed.
It was inevitable really, she and I. She had a house near the swamps and I had the money to fill it. I’d always hated the city, anyway.
We settled together like a hen on an egg, by which I mean, she smothered me. It was a slow disassembling of self, how she manipulated me with raised eyebrows and slight shakes of the head. She never moved more than necessary.
Late spring became mid-summer and the weather turned hotter still. The flowers drooped, trees sagged, and the weeds burned to a crisp. Every day began with the misted leftovers of the prior fried evening. They never quite cleared, the sun a citrine blur behind the withering reeds.
I took to walking along the thickening waters like a heron patrolling a stream. It was as if God reduced them daily to pour on his lunch instead of gravy, so unctuous they turned. They had that same solidity as skin and I wanted to walk across them, test physics and nature alike. I wanted to but didn’t.
My keeper lounged. She always lounged. She wore as little as possible as often as she could, sprawled like a lizard basking in that endless heat. Nothing bothered her, not hunger, lust, or even death. As the world burned, she bronzed.
It came to a head when I tripped over her one afternoon; I hadn’t even seen her there. A dislodged sandal slipped into the water and a whisky-lined throat scratched, “Get it back.”
I tried. I really tried! But no matter how far I stretched, reached with grappling fingers deep into the shoreline, the sandal was gone. Her response, “Wade.”
And I did. Despite the very real fear of knowing what lurked beneath those stygian waters, her presence commanded it. My own personal Cleopatra, her beauty expected nothing less.
My stomach hurt, teeth ground, heart sank. I gagged on the stench, eyes watering and throat retching.
She sipped her drink and sauntered over.
And just when I thought she might help, she slid onto her stomach and slipped into the water face first.
It was not a fast death, that drowning. She made sure of it. I saw the pitch-black night of those depths as an astronaut sees space, taking them in, navigating them needlessly. The pain became insignificant as I faded.
She placed me in her parlour with a pat to the cheek, her teeth stained crimson, eyes glazed. There were others in various states of decay. I was just the latest.
She remained there for those final moments, motionless, inches from my face.
I drooled a lobotomy. “You have alligator eyes,” my last words on this earth.
She leaned in close enough to kiss.
They say you see your life flicks past at the end. That a jigsaw of all you’ve been and all you’ve known is laid before you. It wasn’t, though, not for me. And as I went to who knew where, passed on, all that marked it were her epitaph words. “Wait till dark comes, my love, they glow.”
But I was already there and saw nothing.

The End


Thank you for reading

Richard

The Bridge Between Us (100 Word Stories)

Photo by Andre Amaral Xavier on Unsplash

Lands are divided by borders, some obvious, others not. Whether lines on a map or cracks in the earth, borders separate. Add war into this equation, and ours was wider than most.

She stood waiting with the others, wearing the same desperate expression they all wore. Families removed from each other. Children unstitched from their parents. Soulmates lost to limbo.

They lifted the rope at the agreed upon time, Lissette and the other refugees pouring forth like an unblocked drain. How could the bridge hold them? But it did. It was their replacing the rope that made us both cry.


Thank you for reading

Richard

Insistent, We Breathe

Photo by Jackson Simmer on Unsplash

Wisps of darkness transcending life
Whilst dares and memories abound
Embers, are we, huddled in charcoal
Indivisible of form, just existing

We breathe, we breathe

Fissures of intermittent moonlight
Score this impermanent scene
With a harsh unarguable truth:
We are part of this universe, still

We breathe, we breathe

Ghosts of the primal no longer
Dreaming, eyes wide open
Two unlocked shadows, shackles lost
Unable to deny nature’s physics

Insistent, we breathe