Pips – Short Story

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Pips

By J. A. Weymouth

Plump, red and juicy with a hint of green at the ends.  The tastiest tomato in the world, he thought, at least in that moment.  The bite was cool on his teeth that sent a chill down his spine but the moment the juicy pips hit his tongue, the freshness of the taste soothed him, awakening his hunger for more tomato.

Sucking the pips, savoring the flavor before he took another bite, he plunged into the tight skin.  He then swallowed, clicking his tongue against his teeth.  A rogue pip stuck itself in between his two front teeth, frustrating him as his tongue was neither flexible nor thin enough to slide through the gap to catch the pip.  Instead he tried his thumb nail perhaps that would catch the bastard.  Success! The thumb nail was a miracle worker for annoying pips stuck in narrows gaps between two front teeth.

The pip appeared as innocent as a pray patiently waiting for its attacker to eat him as he pulled it out, gazing at him, wet on his fore-finger.  However, he could not resent the pip as it was obvious the only thing it wanted was company, and therefore this must be the reason behind it attaching itself to his two front teeth.

‘Maybe, I’ll burry you so I can grow more tomatoes.’  He said to the little pip, placing the seed on the black and gray replicate granite of the kitchen bench.  The seed, a miniscule mass in comparison to the gigantic expanse of the bench, so tiny it appears to sink into its dark background, almost drowning.

The skin of the plump tomato was cool and tight as he pressed the tomato once again against his lips, preparing himself for another bite.  Plrrrrp.  Sweet fluid along with solid pips was released into his mouth hitting against his teeth.  He smiled, more juice had seeped into his mouth from the tomato, waiting, teasing the pips to be caught once again.  Another and another.  He pulled them all out individually with the use of his miracle thumb nail.  He lined the pips against the first so it would no longer be lonely, then pondered over the sweet little gathering of rogues.

‘I will grow you all,’ he told the pips as he finished the tomato.

A voice called from far away, distracting him from his fantasies of flourishing tomato plants.  He slid the lining of seeds in his palm then hiding them in his checkered shirt pocket.  The voice was faintly irritating, with its distracting reality check, however it was useful, because it reminded him to be somewhere.  He communicated briefly with the irritating voice for a few minutes so he could satisfy it long enough to leave him be.  So the voice left and so did he.

***

THE END

Blue Fabric – Short Story (Part 3) END

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Blue Fabric

(Part 1) (Part 2)

By J. A. Weymouth

Everything seemed slow the moment Mary fell.  Noah’s eyes bulged trying to see her in the dark.  The red of her coat could only be seen just by the fade of moonlight through the trees, bobbing in and out of the stream.  All was silent in the presence of the violent water carrying the unconscious girl away.   Stillness took over the forest critters, frogs no longer croaked, owls silenced their callings out to the night as they waited, watching the boy run after his sister.

Noah meandered through, forcefully pushing past branches.  The dense forest could not stop him as he pulled away from rogue twigs and leaped over high, imbalanced rocks careful not to slip or lose sight of the shade of red barely seen in the moonlit water.  He was not going to lose his sister.

He thought anger.  He thought desperation.  He thought rage as he followed.  But then the adrenaline rushed in, blocking out painful feelings.

It felt like he was running ahead, that Noah had finally managed to get to a point along the river’s path where he thought he could catch his sister.

Up ahead, he saw his sister being carried towards him.  Noah had not seen her face and tried to ignore the upsetting feeling that was stirring inside him.  Stones led the way through the river and he thought the largest would be a good place to try and catch her.  Nervously, Noah took his first step onto the rock.  Second.  Third.  He made it to the middle without falling and steadied himself ready for the catch of his life.

Noah knew he had failed the moment before he caught his sister’s jacket.  It was empty.  There was no Mary.

After he threw the jacket against the shore in frustration, thinking himself stupid after another failed attempted at saving Mary, he began to move again.  But before he could take another step, he heard a moan – distinct – coming from within the water.  It had come not much further from where he was standing as it had sounded like a baby animal in distress.

He knew it was frivolous to stand and think to confirm whether it was his sister making the noise, so he moved in the sound’s direction – and hoped.

Pale lips pursed through the surface of the water, now opening to suck in the air – desperately.  Mary had survived only to be carried away into a small enclosure from the side of the river bank; a separate stream dragged her into a dead end.

Noah became too far to stop her but he thought there was a chance to save her as he watched on miserably.

Water tickled Noah’s toes as he stood upon muddy ground. The water levels had risen, the river was flooded and now the urgency of his endeavour was becoming more and more desperate.  When he finally made it to the small enclosure, he could see that it was in fact a cave against the cliff side before the rising of a hill. Noah thought it lucky he had made it to this side of the river earlier on, as now it seemed impossible to cross the river with the force of the current in his way.  The only obstacle in his path now was his ability to maneuver himself into a steady position to reach his sister as there was only enough room for his footing to shimmy against the cliff side.  One slip and he could fall into the river and drown.

With steady feet and keen focus, Noah made it to the side of the cave and looked in.  The cave was a lot deeper than he expected and Mary stood there at the bottom, waist-deep in water and conscious.  Besides the blood and swelling near her left eye she appeared to be well enough despite her fall in the water.  She yelled out in glee when she saw her brother.  Her hand stretched out.  He grasped it tightly and pulled.

Her sister was such a small light thing.  Noah knew this well.  Small for her age he always found it easy to carry her on his back during their games of piggy-back rides.  But there was something terribly wrong when he could not lift her from the cave.

‘My leg is stuck,’ she whispered painfully but Noah ignored this and pulled her as hard as he could but all of a sudden he heard a terrible snap like the sound of a delicate twig breaking.  She screamed this time and cried out to him to stop.  ‘Stop Noah! My leg! I think it’s broken.’

Noah’s mind was racing.  With the water growing more and more ferocious as it rushed in to fill the cave, he needed to think of something quickly because Mary was now shoulder-deep in water.

Noah would have dived into the water with Mary to see the damage to her foot for himself but the cave was too narrow and he would not have been able to fit.  He tried to dip his hands in the water to see if he could reach the bottom but it was no good either, the cave was just too deep.

Soft water droplets fell onto Noah’s face.  Rain was beginning to fall.  Cold shrouded him with a light coat of mist.

This was not happening.  How could this happen?  Only hours ago were they playing on top of the hill in the wind with their kite flying pleasantly above them.  They were having fun.  It was a good afternoon.  By now, they would be at home with their mother, having dinner by the wood heater.

So how could this have happened?

Slowly, the realisation came to Noah that he could do nothing for his sister but watch.  Watch as the water slowly rose above her.  Watch the water slowly drown her.  And all he could do was hold her hand and watch.

Something happened.  The mist that had surrounding him became still in the air.  The water froze in place.  Everything quieted into silence and stilled.

Noah looked eerily into the distance and saw that everything that surrounding them had frozen into place.  He looked at his sister, as the water had become motionless before it completely engulfed her, and looked into her petrified eyes.  It seemed Mary too was solid, still and unmoving.  Everything around him was frozen.  Completely still in this one moment of time.

Then everything sped up around him as quickly as he realised it.  And he was standing over his sister.  Somehow they had made it out of the water – to the bank of the river.  But Mary was lying still by his feet with her eyes now closed.

‘Mary…’ Noah nudged his sister.  ‘M-Mary,’ his voice became broken with the realisation that something wasn’t quite right.

Dawn woke to the sight of a young boy crying as he lay beside his dead sister.  Frogs began to croak in the distance as the gentle, warm light stirred the forest awake.

~~~

END

I would like to thank everyone for your support and enthusiasm in the duration of this story. Thank you so much for your kind words and feedback.  It is what helps motivate me in the creation of these stories.

The Hand – Poetry

ImageThe Hand

By J. A. Weymouth

 

Faded/split into two.

Other side is conscious and knowing while one waits silently at the door.

 

Curious as ever,

Its eyes move rigid, pressed against untamed littlies.

Watchful, hateful, noiseless.

 

Finger tips encircle a crown as golden entrails seep outwards.

 

A word is rested,

sentimental even –

with festering purpose.

 

Circles ins and outs:

reflections of an ill-mannered past like pictures reminiscing velvet lies.

 

And I shudder.

 

Still shivering like a child who holds on.

Never alike to the become and the then before.

 

Always a child,

and never more.

Blue Fabric (Part 2) – Short Story

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Blue Fabric

By J. A. Weymouth

(Part 1)

It was midday but it felt like evening.  Grey clouds overtook the brightness of the sky, but nothing could dampen their spirits.  To them, it was the brightest of days.  Their father had just made them a brand new kite – cobalt blue – brighter than the sky and he was taking them out for their first test run.

            The winds were high.  A perfect day for kite flying.  Noah took charge.

            ‘Me first!’ Noah demanded as he eagerly clung to his father with the kite in his eyes.  But his father turned to Mary – his four year old sister – and gave her the kite.

            Mary accepted the handle with a nervous hand as Noah looked at her in contempt.  He pouted and waited for their father to explain.  Why did dad ignore me? Noah wondered hurt from the neglect. It was supposed to be his turn first, it had been his right since he and their father had worked on that kite together.  He had helped weave the tail tying the bows together.  Mary had done nothing but watched.

            ‘Why does she get to go first?’ Noah demanded but their father continued to ignore him as he gave Mary instruction on how to fly the kite, the timing, the speed, the pull of the string.  But as their father gave instruction Mary looked at Noah.  Grey eyes looked at him, steadily gazing with curiosity.  It was but a moment that she watched him and he in return saw her.  There was a glimmer in those strikingly clear, grey eyes.  They were the eyes of innocence.  And as he began to recognise that innocence and understand why his father chose his little sister over himself, a gust of wind suddenly picked up.  Mary’s auburn hair flicked upwards against the gale hiding her eyes.  The moment was lost and then they both turned away.

            ‘Okay Mary, now’s your chance!’ their father called out to her encouraging her to run with the kite in response to the quickening wind.  It seemed like such an enormous effort for a little girl, but determination was in her run.  Instructions continually flashed in her mind by concentration.  She pulled in the prime moment and so the kite obeyed, spreading out in full glory, out and free.

            While Mary ran with the kite their father, still in sight of Mary had walked over to Noah.     

            ‘Son,’ he said as he kneeled, ‘I want you to understand something very important.’  He put a hand on Noah’s shoulder.  It was a kind hand.  A hand that never rose in violence or threat but instead, with firm discipline, it had guided over growing children.  It was a hand that lectured, that advised and cautioned.  It was the peace bringer between childish tantrums but had always nurtured in pride. To Noah, his father’s hand would always comfort him, calming him so he would take any advisory word seriously.  Even, in regard to his little sister (maybe even especially).

            ‘You’re my son,’ his father said affectionately, the knot in Noah’s throat growing tighter with his words.  ‘You are my first born,’ Noah thought he could hear the faint catch of breath as he spoke, ‘and as an older brother you have a responsibility to uphold and that is to watch over your little sister even if it means that you might have to sacrifice your turn first every once and a while,’ he continued with a smile.  He was like a lion, the freed sun now glowing behind him like a proud, golden main had somehow magnified his smile. ‘I would hope that you would always watch over her, to look out for each other because maybe one day,’ his father paused the smile now somewhat obscured by the troubled – yet somewhat forced – expression on his face, ‘I won’t be around.’

Starting to feel angry at himself for losing his sister, for failing to be the protective brother their father had brought him up to be, Noah looked up again and in a flash of light he thought he saw the blue fabric of the kite.  It was there and then it was gone but hope reignited.

Now that Noah had an idea where Mary might be, he took a turn as he ran into the direction of where he saw the kite.  The rain continued to fall, fast and hard.  It was cold but as uncomfortable as he was, the weather did nothing to Noah’s determination, he moved fast, unaffected.

A flash of blue fabric stood out as a warning.

Rain continued to fall.  The sound of rushing water came from a distance behind a gathering of overbearing trees.  A blue ribbon flicked and waved in a clutter of dying twigs trapped between two trees.  Noah caught it when it freed itself from the entangled grasp.  As Noah came closer to where he found the ribbon, the sound of water grew louder and more ferocious.

He thought the sound was familiar when he arrived at the bank of a river.  What little he could see, he could just make out the outline of the kite.  He forced his eyes to adjust to the dark, darting about to find his sister.  Nothing but the faint reflection of light against water and the flicker of a nervous kite could be seen.

A gasp.

A whimper.

It happened that Mary tried to cross the river in an attempt to reach the kite.  Finally having been caught by a rogue log against the other side of the river the kite appeared battered and lethargic in the dying wind, but Mary had not made it.  Instead, Noah thought that she must have slipped in her desperate effort to save the kite because now she was clinging onto a low branch, shoulder deep in water.

‘Mary!’ Noah yelled, upset and angry at Mary for getting herself into danger but soon his frustration turned into worry as he came to realise her present situation.  Her head rested above the water by an inch as she breathed and gasped for air, exhausted.  With her hands still clasped around the branch and her grip fragile but sturdy, she called out for help.

Noah saw that Mary had her eyes shut tightly, concentrating on her severe resilience to fight against the force of water and be swept away.

Realising she could not see him Noah called out for her again.  When she heard him she cried out his name and then lunged herself forward for a better grip and cried out again, eyes wide open and searching.

It was pitch black.  The river steadily grew more ferocious as the rain increased.  Mary still could not see him but her situation became more difficult with the rising water level.  Noah managed to find himself wrapped around the low branch (the same branch in which Mary still clung to) in an attempt to rescue Mary.  She cried out when the branch dipped in adjusting itself to Noah’s weight.

He scuffled forward and when he got close to Mary he leaned over and opened his hand out for his sister.  Noah could see the whites of her knuckles as she clung to the branch in an effort to hold on.  The strong grip was desperate.  Noah realised that she was too scared to let go and hold his hand so he was forced to move closer.  He would need to catch her wrist and pull her up instead.

Sliding down towards her, Noah stretched out but he was still too far from her to hold her steady.  He would need to reassure her, give her courage to let go and thrust herself into his arms to be free.

There was only one way now as they were running out of time.  Even Noah began to shiver at the vile cold, its iciness licking his skin, soaking him in cold even through layers of his thick coat but whatever cold he felt then could not be anywhere near as unbearable as the cold Mary was feeling now.  The thought worried him, because surely she would be losing feeling in her hands, making it even more difficult for her to hold on.  Noah saw his sister struggling and despite her sheer grit to hold on – as only a seven year old could – her strong grip was weakening and would not last for much longer.

‘Mary,’ Noah called, in a desperate attempt to encourage her, ‘you’re going to have to let go and grab my hand! It’s the only way!’

Mary seemed unsure.  Despite his hand only being inches away from her, she saw it as something of an obstacle.  It meant that she would have to let go of the safety of the log and with the dark shrouding her surroundings she would have to take a leap of faith into Noah’s hands.  As Mary thought about it more, he appeared further and further away.  Anxiously, she began to plan her attempt concentrating on her left hand (the hand closest to his).  She told herself to do it, over and over again. Finally, Mary took a chance.

Mary caught his hand and as the feeling that she could do it began to occur to her Noah struggled to hold onto her.  His hand had been wet from rain water and she could not feel her hand for the cold had numbed it.  She could not grip.  She was slipping.

The imbalance of the loss of grip made Mary lose her hold over the branch.  A sudden wave of fresh rain water took her and she became overwhelmed under water.  The force of the impact pushed her to the bottom of the river, where sharp rocks and twigs lay rested but because she lost control over herself Mary could not protect her head from hitting the corner of a rock.

There was pain and then the darkness swept her away with the water, flowing onwards to an unknown path.

Looking out in despair as the water raged like a tyrant sweeping away the earth – Noah cried out.

***

Part 3 will be up Saturday 🙂

The Red Scarf – Short Story (Part 3)

The Red Scarf [Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 4]

By J.A Weymouth

Outside the old mansion, a car pulled in.  The radio’s I need you tonight blared from the car and echoed throughout the courtyard, interrupting its peace.  Henry sang innocently to the song’s lyrics, (“I need you tonight! Because I’m not sleeping.  There’s something about you girl, it makes me sweat…”) as he stretched out a map over the dust board, tentative of his current location.

During his stay in the nearest town, he had asked around, investigating the town’s local ghost stories.  He had heard from friends back home that the area left remembrance of the war.  Shattered buildings in ruin and homes forgotten in their despairing state, he had hoped for something he could work with.  As a photographer Henry found beauty in such derelict sadness and therefore found himself at present outside an old mansion with its garden overgrown, vines entangling the once proud structure now crippled by an unpleasant past.

Henry had been guided by a local, hoping he had followed true to the woman’s directions.  When he arrived, despite being unsure if this was the correct place, the mansion appeared to fit the description and with a shrug he stepped out of the car.  Kit in hand he made a mental checklist and walked towards the gate.

It wouldn’t budge.  Henry attempted to climb the gate only to find himself entangled by persistent vines causing him to fall in a clumsy mess.  ‘Goddammit!’ he cried as he ripped the weeds away from his ankles.  Rubbing the soreness from his backside as the frustration encouraged him to try again, Henry estimated the complicated entry.  While thinking about how he could climb over he came up with an idea and then checked his camera to see if it was damaged and then made his move.

After successfully climbing over the gate (by the third try), he pulled himself together and set foot towards the mansion but stopped in front of its doors.  The gate wasn’t the only thing that had been covered in vines and age.  Half the building had been torn away from decay or the by the effects of war.

The doors were sealed and while he checked to see if there was another entry he realised it was no good.  Window ledges were laden with broken glass but inside he could see the last remnants of a home; lost.  Bits of furniture still scattered one of its rooms.  A glimmer of light shone and reflected from the decaying room that drew his interest.

Henry pried the sealed door open with a force he didn’t know he had in him.  He succeeded with a final pull.  Half the front door came with it which took him by surprise and made him tumble backwards, though he was able to quickly catch his feet.  He made his way into the hallway.

The mansion was grand indeed and Henry couldn’t help but pull out his camera and start clicking away.  What especially had moved him was the oddly placed stairway that opened itself to the rooms above, its stance still eerily maintained since its younger days.

Henry went up stairs, careful to avoid the cracks missing floorboards and nails waiting for a nasty trip, though just as the thought passed and was about to reach the next step his foot clipped a jagged edge causing him to lose his footing and fall face first onto the landing.  Dust blew up in his face as he landed and coughed, particles floating up into the air and glittered in the sunlight.  The air flowed into the gap of a door – ajar – drawing his curiosity to the room inside.  He entered to find himself in a place he had earlier seen from outside.

The collapsed ceiling appeared in a more advanced state of decay then what Henry had seen from the courtyard; glass scattered across the floor, glistening in the sunlight as the last fragments of a window and as he looked down the wood by his feet appeared more rotten then what was left in the building.

Henry walked into the room careful to avoid the debris and the sharp, smirking edges of the broken glass.  He removed his camera from his back-pack and organised himself for some shots.  The room was long and quite narrow as he meandered around with the camera to his eye, the lens amplified his environment.   The same vines that tripped him out front had covered themselves around half the room.  Pepper green wallpaper still maintained some of its colour in the corners.  He could tell that this place had once been a grand room indeed.

He turned to take photos of the door from the way in and found something he had surprisingly missed.  A lone mirror stood proudly in dust and dirt like everything else but fully intact.

The preposterous mirror appeared out of place as well as a good portion of the room surrounding the mirror remained unscarred bar a few pieces of glass and tattered furniture.  There were no cracked floorboards or debris lying at the foot of the mirror and the paint had not peeled back from age.  Only this area of the room and the mirror remained pristine.

Henry went over to inspect the mirror.  Stroking its golden, elegant frame he pondered over its mystery and wondered how it could survive the devastation that surrounded it.  The perfect mirror merely glimmered in silent response.

The mirror became the subject of his work.

Henry tried to take the perfect shot only to end up frustrated.  As he was trying to take photos of the mirror there had been a speck of dust or a spot light which obstructed his focus of the subject.  Giving up, and with more photos then he expected Henry left the mansion to move onto his next destination unsatisfied and hoping for better luck.

~~~