100 Word Stories: Big Eyes and the Boy

Photo by Becky Phan on Unsplash

Her ears were bigger than her head. She wasn’t ugly, though, far from it. Her enormous, round eyes, accentuated by whiplash lashes most women would’ve killed for, drew you to her and held your view.

There were years in those eyes, generations of wisdom. They deflected from her abnormal feet and rough skin. The latter was an eyesore, as if she’d never exfoliated or moisturised. As for her nose, well… better left unsaid.

I loved Nellie more than words. I looked forward to seeing her, even if it was an annual event. Every kid did. The circus was a treat.


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

The Closest We Came

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The closest we came to forever was the moment in which we gave up. Our breaths held and never really returned. The moment drew out to seconds, to hours, to more. Your eyes dimmed like exhausted candles. Mine were already black.

The closest we came to forgiveness was that moment we met at the wake. Dressed in black from head to toe, I barely recognised you. I said Hello and you almost said it back.

The closest we came to something was that moment when we both said, I do. I remember how it felt, not how it sounded, as those three tiny letters sunk beneath my skin and slipped off your well-oiled own.

The closest we came was closer than most but never close enough for me.


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

Celeste

Photo by Tati y Adri on Unsplash

Eyes like the heavens
full of wonder, sheer bliss,
alive in this darkness,
her gift, softest kiss.

She dreams of lost comets
and obsidian deaths,
for in all of my multiverse,
there’s only Celeste.


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

Bittersweet Departures

Photo by Cherry Laithang on Unsplash
Photo by Cherry Laithang on Unsplash

I dream of a darkness I’ll never escape. I dream of a life where there’s light. This nothingness clings like an obsidian straightjacket. It stifles me. I can barely breathe.

She appears as a comet, all flashing, dashing silver. The night peels apart before her, whereas I stand my ground. I am no hero. There’s no other choice. It’s what I always do.

She strikes like a velvet glove. The softest sparks fly. Traces of her flutter before my eyes, instants in time, forgotten memories. I taste her like blood licked from a wound. Hear her heartbeat pounding in the void. We are together again, albeit briefly.

I die each evening when sleep comes a calling, such bittersweet departures as to drown arid hearts. And I wonder: Are we both dead, or just me?


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

The Hesitant Breath

Photo by Chelsea Gates on Unsplash

Sometimes the need to breathe overwhelms. Our throats constrict, tongues swell, eyes bulge like bullfrogs. A blue sky darkens to ocean, the world reversed, our bodies upside down. Not even the earth offers a steadying reassurance, volatile like an undulating sea. We drown, eyes open. We gasp for air. The worst of it? There’s no rational explanation. Just another day or night in a life of many. Just another second on this road called life. 

These moments are fleeting, though occasionally, they linger. But the body always remembers what to do, after all, without a predisposition for breathing, why even have lungs? 

Breathing is what we do when we close our eyes. We leave the body to do its thing as we dream of better. Unlike the accordion that requires a good squeeze, or the bike pump that demands manipulation, our bodies do not. So, why do we need so many teachers to help us? The answer is simple: We don’t. 

Yet we have apps to follow and sites to see, gurus to advise, and leotarded superstars to offer salvation. If only we could breathe like them. If only we could do it right.

And we try. We try so very hard to understand. To appreciate. To live the dream. If we do it right, who knows, perhaps Death will never take us. 

Death, the dark force behind it all. The one who wants us to fail, to gasp, flounder, capitulate. He cares not that we breathe or that we might only sometimes breathe, just that one day we won’t. Even thinking about it makes our chests constrict, breaths shorten, noses block. As dogs before a desert without master or chain, free to explore, but scared to stray far from the puddle at their feet, we hesitate. Death smiles. 

Hesitation is his dark foot in the door. It is doubt. It is a taster. That instant of will our breaths return, even when knowing they should. So, we regather like they’ve taught us. We control ourselves with the skill a baby would admire. We breathe, deep and long, our cheeks puffed out and brows sweating. 

They teach us to listen to our breaths and from there ourselves. The body will know. The body will calm itself. But in this calmness, this cosmic realignment, we hear what our breaths have immersed. An app shuts down. A website fails. A guru collapses to the ground quite dead. The leotard splits to howls of universal derision. 

We breathe because we want to. We breathe because we must. But one day in the not-so-distant future, we won’t. On that day, Death can take us. On that day, our accordions shall not require being played. I, for one, shall welcome it, as I hope will you. 

The End — Almost.


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed..

One Evening Above the Moon

Artwork by me.
Artwork by me.

I awoke to a view of curving, milk-white rock, perforated in places, smooth as silk elsewhere. My bedroom window was gone, as was the bed I lay in, sheets, pillows and all. There was me, the ground, and a sky full of stars.


Midnight landscapes and closed-eye sleepscapes had always been my thing. Mum said I came into the world with my eyes shut and only opened them when hungry. I had no reason to doubt her, for what was there to open them for. “How are you going to see what’s coming if you can’t see where you’re placing your feet?” she’d moan. I always replied, “I’ll feel my way.” She’d shake her head and go back to her knitting.


Give me the serenity of a cool winter’s night over a sweaty summer’s day. Give me the moon and the stars. I leapt to my feet as though them made of rubber and took in the view. The stars still shone a constant reminder, but what was the other thing, the bright cerulean ball? There was no hovering moon because I crunched upon it. And then it hit, and I smiled for the first time since she passed.


Mum died at midday on some nondescript August date. If I’d written it down, it would’ve made it real. Besides, who wanted to remember the worst of the worst, when the rest was only slightly less shitty. Aunty Gladys had dressed her in lemon, saying it’s what she would’ve wanted. I’d protested, preferring black. The sun shone as they lowered her into a basement home. It wasn’t even near a tree. No shade at all.


The bright blue object made a merry jewel in its polished, obsidian socket. It hurt my eyes. So, I turned away and set off to explore, bouncing across the chalky surface like a demented kangaroo. I thought I might pluck out a star, roll a galaxy between my thumb and forefinger, but always fell back to the ground empty-handed. Still, it was fun to try.


I bounced between jobs, girlfriends, diets and pretty much everything else. The one constant was our home, by which I now meant mine. This was my sanctuary, and I grew reclusive. I lingered like a ghost, only appearing at night through the cracks in the curtains. My face lost its glow, replaced by a spectral pallor. I lived off my savings, ordered in, and I wasn’t talking food, gave up. It was inevitable, the bank’s foreclosing. They had to scrape me out.


The moon from above was even more spectacular than from below. No amount of longing, planning, dreaming, could’ve prepared me for that solitary joy of frolicking amidst the cosmos. When I leapt, I defied gravity. It was like I broke every law known to man. As I hung there at my zenith, I was one with everything I’d wished for, from the quiet reverence of midnight to the pinpricked spotlighting of the past. This was what I’d closed my eyes for all those years. But it wasn’t the past. The past had put me there. It was time to come down.


I visited Mum the day the drugs dissipated from my system. I took a snow-white lily and placed it on her headstone, and then fell asleep on the grave. When my eyes blinked open to a world turned white, one pitted and weathered, yet embellished with such smooth curlicued writing as to haunt Poe, I recalled that night on the moon. And I was there again, for a while, and this time, Mum was with me.

The End.

 

Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.