Drag

via Daily Prompt: Encrusted
Encrusted

Barnacles we gather
navigating life,
unable to shuck
what we’ve collected;
slowing us down,
dragging through heavy currents,
forward momentum stalling,
beginning to drift.

Encrusted are our lives
when ill-maintained,
when distraction
becomes purpose
and meaning is lost;
the shell becomes us,
the mask defined,
locking away the dreams of youth.

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Blind Date

via Daily Prompt: Suspicious
Suspicious

It was there in the slow swirl of her wine; the hesitant press and sip to her ruby lips that left just a trace on the rim; the blue eyes that just couldn’t quite meet his. She put her glass down and offered a forced smile to the waiter as he brought their meals- hers lobster tail with a garlic-butter sauce and his steak tartar- while still avoiding his gaze.

She was not sure why she had not left immediately, feeling such a odd aura from her date. It was only because her grandmother had set this up that she had acquiesced to the date and decided to try and make it an evening of it, but he was such an unsettling being- hairy beyond belief with such predatory eyes and a hungry smile that disturbed her.

When her grandma’s number had popped up on a cellphone call, she of course answered but to a very hoarse voice, barely recognizable, and upon inquiring as to her health, received only assurances.  The conversation ended with grandma insisting that she meet up with the doctor that treated her, a Dr. Wolff.  For grandma’s sake she agreed.

They arranged to meet for dinner at the The Gourmet Basket, a well-regarded place nestled in a wooded resort in the nearby hills- a place of fine food and dancing.  He had insisted on treating her to the best.

It was  a misty evening when she arrived in a cab, wearing a demure knee-length red dress with a matching hooded trench coat, her black hair cascading in loose curls past her shoulders once she passed it over to the coat-checker. Dr. Wolff had already arrived and stood as she approached the table. He was dressed neatly in a light-grey suit with a charcoal-gray shirt splashed with a rose-red tie. Handsome and distinguished looking though he was, his scrutiny of her promptly set her at unease.

“You look very lovely,” he seemed to growl. “That dress is amazing on you. I could just eat you up.”

“Uh, thanks,” shyly she replied. “You look very dapper yourself.”

He played the gentleman- seating her, ordering pork belly appetizers, and engaging in small talk, none of which seemed sincere to her. It was probing as he asked about habits, likes, routines, and family. In return, he slyly deflected her questions about how he knew her grandmother and her state of health.

It seemed feral the way he tore into his tartar as she carefully picked apart her crustacean after eating her exquisitely prepared spring vegetables, none of which her date had eaten of his own.  It was all devoured in silence.

Afterwards, feeling obliged to continue the night, she took to the dance floor where she had to admit that he was lithe and sure on his feet, adept at the foxtrot, but felt chased and hunted across the floor. Although being fleet of foot herself, she felt worn out and cornered by the end, desiring to go home.

“Would you like me to take you home?” he asked with a big, toothy smile as he helped her on with her hooded cloak.

“I’m not quite sure… maybe.” She replied.

My New Life-word

via Daily Prompt: Simplify
Simplify

Simplify, such and easy word to say but so hard to implement. About a year ago my wife and I had decided to simplify our lives.  Both sons were out of college and living on their own, and we had just closed down our business that had gone nowhere, which we had opened after I retried from the military.

The failed business had chewed up a lot of money, but I made enough in retirement to not have to work.  I had already published one book so I was going to work on being an author; my wife was going work on woodworking and art; and we were going to get back into shape and travel.

Dreams die.

Retirement was work and distraction.  With a big house, large yard, and two boxer dogs, we seemed to be either cleaning or fixing something and with two large dogs- one which can hardly handle temps above 65 deg- we couldn’t seem to get away. So we decided to simplify.

Life is full of stuff, most of which we don’t need but are convinced by advertising and/or friends and family that our lives would be better with it.  We decided to cast that aside and have been working on getting rid of first the dusty stuff and work on selling the house.  Anything we haven’t used in a while or question its use, we have donated to Salvation Army (I refuse to give to Goodwill).  But still there is more as we do nothing with our lives, living static and unfulfilled.

We simplify and simplify but the road still stretches before us, there is some much stuff we’ve collected over time and so much inertia to overcome. In the end, we will have just an RV, a Kia Soul Exclaim, two dogs and each other heading out to the horizon living life for a change.

And although I do not care much for Stephen King, I will use a line delivered by Andy Dufresne, “get busy living or get busy dying”. We’ve been doing the latter for far too long, so we have made “Simplify” our new life-word in order to do the former.

I hope, too, that you find your way in how to live life.

Bewildered

via Daily Prompt: Bewildered
Bewildered

days of nights
nights of lights
wakeness murky
topsy-turvy
thoughts are run astray
bewildered grasping
a world unclasping
flailing, flailing away

ashes swirling
memories twirling
loss and confusion
hurt a contusion
left by the hammer’s blow
bewildered reeling
earthbound kneeling
crying, crying so

finding reason
in the dying season
one spirit unbound
one mind unsound
that grief had rent apart
bewildered praying
graveside laying
with broken, broken heart

To the Bone

via Daily Prompt: Enroll
Enroll
A battered troop transport traveled between distant stars, its hull marked with repeated battle scars.  Inside, battle weary soldiers of several broken units pressed together in uncomfortable silence, the survivors of a large force sent from their homeworld of Vanaar to participate in the battle for Kreneth.  The bottled atmosphere of the transport smelled of the surface of the now conquered alien world.  The musty smell mixed with that of filth-covered humans and fear formed an atmosphere that could be cut with a sonic knife.

There was no rank and order.  Officers occupied the same space as enlisted as the transport was forced to load over twice the amount of its rated cargo capacity.  They were just cattle now as the Vanaaran units had been disbanded. Nobody in the ship was healthy, they were all diseased with a war that had lost its purpose; except for the megacorporations that fueled the expansionist motives of the Free Terran Conglomerate of Market Worlds.

One man, no more important than the rest, hugged his backpack that contained all his worldly possessions.  Among those items was an alien skull burned clean by his plasma carbine, since surrendered after his units dissolution.  The skull had belonged to the last denizen he had killed on Kreneth.  The man could only remember bits and pieces of his last combat before boarding the transport home.

He remembered the painful blow of the huge “alien” fist smashing into the side of his head, sending his helmet flying and then meeting the ground with his bloody face.  He remembered rolling in the foul muck of a Krenethian swamp, struggling desperately to aim his carbine with trembling hands at the huge form that was blurred by the mud in his eyes, and the subsequent flare of his weapon as it burned a gaping hole in the being’s torso.  He unloaded his entire power cell into the lifeless figure until it caught on fire, burning the flesh from its skull until clean to the bone.

He remembered effortlessly pulling the skull from the crisp body and the brain slopping out into the swamp, then stuffing in his pack. Why, he did not know and the rest was just a dim memory.  How he found the remnants of his unit, how he made it to the ship, and where it was going, he did not know, or care.

Enroll and serve your people! the campaign urged. Serve a higher purpose and defeat the Krenethian threat! the campaign entreated. Enroll and get fabulous pay for a great future! was other appeal to those of a less patriotic nature. It had all been a lie and Kreneth a tragedy.

The ship had been in transit for nearly two weeks, little of that time was spent for sleep.  It was almost impossible to obtain that kind of freedom in the cramped conditions.  To the sleep starved soldiers, time was a blur, it seemed an eternity to debarkation on their homeworld from which they left six long years before.

The end of the trip came suddenly as the whine of braking engines awoke those who had managed to attain a semi-slumber status.  The ship  shuddered through normal space as it took the stress of transference from super space.  Sub-light engines engaged themselves in a deep rumble that permeated the ship and all those aboard.  The mood of the soldiers lightened some as this signified the end of their confinement and a new beginning on Vanaar… or so they believed.