She wore diamonds. Every head turned, every eye locked upon her twinkling self as she entered the room like a glitter ball. She shone brighter than the chandeliers illuminating the party like a searchlight. She sparkled. But diamonds mean nothing to the heart. Perhaps that’s why she wept? Perhaps not?
The germs, they slip across my oozing skin, greasy hair, delve under my fingernails. A beast, that's me, an abomination made real by the air that infiltrates my permeable skin; it's taking over. There's nothing I can do to stop it. This contagion has taken me. I call it life.
"I've thirty children."
I didn't know what to say to that, so just said, "Oh."
"They're each named after the man who fathered them."
I didn't know what to say to that either.
"So, do you want your name immortalising?" she winked.
"But, I'm only here to fix the boiler!"
I tear at my hair with the savage intent of a hungry tiger. This is not how it is meant to be. This is not… not… but I cannot find the words, they are lost in a mist of tumbling red where glaring eyes fire and vicious disassemblers of dreams lurk. I have lost myself. I am lost.
Breathe, I say. Write just write. Lose yourself to worlds and places others do not know. Throw yourself upon midnight dreams and cloak yourself in darkness. Cast yourself upon swords of your own creation and lick away the blood with false relish. They will not find you, I insist. They will never know I’m here, I try to convince myself. But, they do. I am always found.
Frustrations abound in this cacophony of me, this unsettling of self. I shake my head and scream, but nobody hears, not even me. Fingers clench until my fists turn white shaking with something… something, but I’m unsure what?
This world is a strange and wonderful place. There is so much potential, so much scope to make marvels of all that we know and all that we see. This world is a place for all people, all minds and bodies, but not mine. Like a jigsaw with an extra piece, I am surplus to this place. I find it… frustrating!
Author’s Note: I recently shared this story on the wonderful Nicola Auckland‘s blog and have also just published it on Medium. I wouldn’t want anyone having to read it who already has. However, I wanted to showcase this on my own site because I don’t often publish stories that I would say are very me; this is. As a shy Gemini (not a good combination where split personalities are concerned) who has lots of dark thoughts, work like this flows easily. When my mind is that way out and I just allow the words to flow, I often venture into darker realms than normal. You can read into that whatever you like, but nonetheless, it is me.
I hope you enjoy
Ghostlike the city’s inhabitants roam the streets. The metropolis has sucked them dry. A procession of timorous deer frightened and waiting to bolt, they make their way to wherever it is one goes during the day in a wide-eyed trance. I watch them with sadness, and I hope compassion. I hate to think someone would not extend me the same small civility.
The cityscape rises skyward in undulating waves of concrete and steel; the ghosts don’t see it. What they do see is questionable? Glass eyes, unblinking, roam everywhere but where they wish. The city’s full sidewalks suffer them to present a weak delusion of sanity. That’s all it is. The city is dead, it just doesn’t know it yet.
Old school, my mother would say, and I suppose I am. When a pretty girl slides by, her feet unseen in the city’s oppressive smog, I raise my hat and smile politely. Sometimes, they even respond. Most times, they don’t. On the rare occasion when one looks my way starry-eyed and shell-shocked, a rabbit in the headlights, it makes my heart beat. I like to feel my heart beat as it reassures me I am not like they. I am alive. Yes, I am alive. I must be, mustn’t I?
My perambulations conform to the city’s expectations: I stick to the main streets, ignore the side streets, and never ever enter the backstreets. There are weird creatures in those inhospitable dark spots, strange and un-wonderful beings. I fear them as they fear life.
The waterfront offers the greatest relief from my waking nightmare. Looking out upon a sea comprising trillions of raindrops, the very same that’ve run down my face and tickled my nose and will one day become an ocean of even greater values, makes me dream. Imagining the recycling atoms, what they must have seen on their journeys through every stage of the earth’s awakening and impending departure, gets the old grey matter churning. I hope that’s the case, anyway, as I’d hate to think it’s old memories relived. I’ve already forgotten too much to bear, having lost even more.
Vitreous, I think to myself, as the harbour stands like a millpond, not a ripple, not a blemish in sight, glasslike. It is almost the exact same consistency as the skins of the urbanites who roam the disconsolate streets. And I wonder, has fate dipped them in the ocean and sent them on their way? Should I? Will it help to blend in with the other poor, unfortunate souls?
I must stop thinking such rubbish if I am to remain apart. Uniqueness is a gift one should embrace and take pride in, not disparage. Some call it mutation, but not I, for is it not uniqueness that has transformed us from one thing to another, bettered ourselves, not abnormality. But it takes two unique individuals to proliferate the theory and I am only one. Still, one of the blank faces may one day smile back and I’ll know a fellow human exists, not a translucent fake as is the case.
Sometimes on clear nights when the moon is full and the city sleeps, I sit out on my balcony and take in the vista. I enjoy it. The sheen of celestial splendour enlivens the soul if you have one. There is a certain freedom in gazing out upon a world that no other appreciates. I’ll wink to the moon and he’ll wink back, our secret safe in the midnight, our pact still operating. Like a spectral spotlight picking out the ghosts of suburbia, I’ll watch the moon highlight passers by and shake my head: no, not that one, she’s lost; no, not that one, she’s smiling too much, etcetera, etcetera. One day, I’ll see a smooth-skinned beauty with tears in her eyes and I’ll know she too cries for the world, as do I. One day. Yes, one day.
For now, I’ll keep walking, collecting the welfare checks when I can, and perusing the city’s glassless shop window. She’ll come. I’m sure of it. She’ll come as a pellucid ghost made real, and we’ll live out a happy ever after like in a fairytale. Or we won’t, who can say?
Richard M. Ankers
Author of The Eternals Series
She was like a bubblegum bubble waiting to pop: intriguing, but best stood back from. Chomping and chewing, she winked at one guy, clicked her teeth at another, then pointed a neon-pink fingernail at me.
"Wanna play?" she giggled.
"Can't, love, I think I've just stood in your sister."
Self-worth to the Worthless
This is my latest post on Medium. I try not to preach but this is a subject close to my heart. I hope you enjoy reading it.
Ask yourself this: how many times have you heard it said he or she is worthless? They’re no good for nothing! He’s a waster! She has no talent! They’re sponging off society! The list goes on, a list almost always spoken with venom. I don’t subscribe it, not one bit.
I have known lads who could barely pick up a pen to write their name. Often this was exaggerated due to boredom, a general disinterest in the what others judged correct etcetera, etcetera. In no way did this change the underlying factor that they were not academically gifted. Not everyone can be. The problem occurred when people would never let them forget it, or worse. Yet, I have seen those selfsame so-called illiterates strip down an engine without instructions, clean it in no particular order and rebuild it better than it was to start with. Some people would have marvelled — I could never have done it — others would’ve claimed it all they were good for. I found the latter looked down their noses at the time — looking down one’s nose is a very English occupation that seems to have spread.
Once, I knew a girl with no school friends, who others proclaimed stupid. Years later, I saw this selfsame girl, now a woman, care for my grandmother with a consideration and patience even family couldn’t have matched (she shall have my eternal gratitude, too).
It takes all kinds to make a country function, and it would be a sad country indeed that offered a landscape without variety. In turn, countries without variety would make for a tedious and rather boring world, at least, in my humble opinion.
I believe everyone is good at something, some more than others, but always something. That certain something might be giving a speech, writing a book, painting someone’s nails or kicking a ball, it is the observer that categories said acts and seeks to appropriate a scaled percentage of proposed quality. They shouldn’t.
You can’t be all things to all people, neither can you do all things well. But I believe if you can do something well, be happy in the doing it and others be happy for you, the world would benefit. What’s more, those supposed worthless people might for once in their lives smile and feel valued, good, fired by self-worth.
I know this to be true because I was one of them. I don’t want to see anyone being made to feel useless and I hope you don’t too.
Thank you for reading
Richard M. Ankers
Author of The Eternals dark fantasy series.
The Benefits of Escapism
Here is my latest Medium post. Please feel free to click the link and join me there.
A Writer’s World
Writing is more than a passion, it’s a therapy. An escape from a world that often seems destined for disaster, writing offers that rare opportunity to not just step back, but also, step away. When I say away, I mean by extension to drift off into our imaginations, which is often the only place left for ourselves. Writing gifts us this outlet. For me, it’s a lifesaver.
I don’t like confrontation unless it is necessary; violence unless it is a last resort; provocation without good reason. Some people thrive on such things insisting you cannot be free without each. I disagree, but I don’t feel the need to shove my opinion down someone else’s throat. Neither do I like hassle for hassle’s sake nor the sneers and jibes of those who think they’re your better. I don’t like a lot of things: prejudice; intolerance; war; big-mouths and the list goes on. At one time, I might’ve stood on my podium and disparaged those people who disagreed. Now, I write and let them get on with it. Life is too short to waste on verbal lambasting and displays of physical prowess.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t or won’t be times when you must stand up for yourself or others but it’s not the way to influence. I prefer to use words.
Words act as a therapeutic balm to my soul. Escaping into worlds of my own creation, which are more real to me than any stage hoarder’s or televisual mainstay’s, cleanse my mind. I breathe every comma and I live every full stop. I yearn for the sunsets and pray for every dawn. One has to if one wishes to convince a reader of the same. It is here in the realms of fantasy I allow my thoughts to shine and my true feelings to permeate every dreamscape. This is a place I feel happy in and happiness is a commodity you can’t buy.
These are the reasons I gave up everything to write and draw a line in the sand between those who say you can’t, or, in my case, you couldn’t. These are the reasons I would dare that you can.
I intend to live my dreams whilst hoping to inspire others to do the same. This is my private escapism from a world I now distance myself from, one where there are too few dreamers and too many destroyers.
I would end by saying this: Don’t disparage writers for living the dreams others rely on. We need them now more than ever.
Thank you for reading.
A waved hand signalled his dissatisfaction, a sniff of malcontent. Nothing was good enough for this impresario of life; not the food, drink or especially the company. I took that as a personal slight as I was the company. My coup d'état: another night with his wife. Sniff at that!