Friday, February 5, 2016

Devil May Care





I hadn't seen Seth in days. The last time he'd come to me, we'd argued and he'd left in a huff. He didn't believe that I loved him, and wanted me to prove it. And now it appeared we were going to have the same discussion again. He thought he could break my will, but I knew I was stronger than that. At least I thought I was.
I sat on my bed as he paced back and forth in front of me. I should have turned on the light; the sun had gone down just as he'd arrived, and it was almost too dark to discern his expression. He was going to plead his case again. I rolled my eyes; I'd had enough.
“Do it... for me.” His voice was low, almost a whisper, but his words had a commanding power that gripped my soul.
I fought against them. “No.” I said it flatly, with no emotion, although my breath was shallow and uneven. He had shaken my reserve and he knew it. He was pleased.
“Then you don't really love me, do you, my sweet Alice?” It wasn't really a question.
“What do you want from me? You think I'll agree to murder some random innocent person in cold blood because you say it will prove my love for you?”
“Yes. But hardly random, and certainly not innocent.”
“That's ridiculous. You're.... you're insane.”
“Perhaps, but that's where we're at. Put up or shut up my darling.”
“Absolutely not. I won't do it.” I folded my arms across my chest and shook my head.
“Then I guess we're done here, aren't we?” He tugged on his leather gloves and smirked, his blue eyes darkening as they narrowed ever so slightly.
“Yes Seth, I suppose we are.”
He turned and headed for the door, the cloud of darkness following him like a trail.
I couldn't do it. I wouldn't do it. And he couldn't make me... or could he? My thoughts were swimming in a sea of moral quandary. I didn't want him to go.
He paused at the door.
“Okay!” I screamed it at him. “Are you satisfied?”
Time seemed to stand still; suddenly he was beside me, his leather clad fingers wiping away the tears that trickled down my cheeks. I was losing my sanity, I wanted him to kiss me.
“Um.... no, I'm not satisfied... not just yet.” His sinister laugh filled the space between us as a purplish swirl of smoke surrounded him and he vanished.
A cold chill slithered under my skin like an icy reptile and my heart shivered. Now all I had to do was wait. Seth would tell me who and when, and I assumed provide the means to do it. I had no idea how to kill someone; I'd never thought about it.

Bit by bit, his evil had bled into my soul. Possession. That's what they called it. But there would be no exorcist for me; only a 6 by 8 foot prison cell. There was no way around it, I'd be guilty, and I would confess. And I'd have a ready made defense; the devil made me do it. Of course, no one would believe that it was the truth. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, I lived in a state that had no death penalty. They would put me away for a long time; my sole comfort, that the devil may care. 

©2016 Garden Summerland

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Turning



I tugged my bedroom curtains closed and relished the darkness. It wouldn't be long. I counted in my head, 1, 2....3. Then I felt his hands slide around my neck and he moved them sensuously down my bare shoulders. I turned around, my eyes expectant, but I was still alone.
He laughed.
I squinted in the blackness, I knew he was there... somewhere.
“Are you afraid of me?” His voice was smooth and deep, it soothed me.
“Of course not, I... I...” I stammered, I couldn't say it.
“Oh my dear, loving me is dangerous.”
“Why?” I couldn't fathom feeling anything but complete adoration for such beauty.
“Because you won't care about anything else.”
“But I don't care about anything else.”
“Then it is too late for you.”
He grabbed me and kissed me.
And it was all that I knew, because everything else had already been forgotten.
I forced myself to pull away; the need to gaze upon his exquisite form was overwhelming. My eyes fluttered open as if I'd been dreaming, and he had vanished. I folded my arms across my chest and shivered. I hated when he did that. No warning, no good-byes, he was just … gone.
I paced back and forth, my bare toes digging into the plush carpet as I wondered when I would see him again. I picked up my phone from the night table and stared down at it. I had no way of getting in touch with him.
Almost on cue, the phone vibrated in my hand. He had never called me; how exciting it would be to have him embrace modern technology. I swiped to answer. It wasn't him, it was my best friend, Jennifer.
“You're late.” She snarled.
“What?”
“We were going to see a movie?”
“What?” I asked again, still lost in thoughts of Jared.
“You were supposed to be here at seven. What is with you? Get over here, now.” She clicked the phone off before I could respond. I searched for guilt. I didn't have any.
I dressed unhurriedly and headed to Jen's. The fifteen minute drive seemed like three as my mind played out erotic scenes with Jared.
I rang the bell and waited, trying to focus on being the friend Jen deserved. Unfortunately, she was in lecture mode as soon as she opened the door. She was no fan of Jared. He'd taken me from her.

“I Googled it... I know how it happens. It's called The Turning. First you'll dream about him, once a month, once a week... then it's every night. He will become all that you think about, all that you want. You will become consumed. It's happening already isn't it?”
“No.” I couldn't believe she was going to be like this. She didn't understand. No one could.
“Don't lie to me. Even that is a sign. Deceitfulness. But I see right through you. Just like I saw right through him from day one. He's evil; you have to see it.” Jen paused and turned to face me. “Have you dreamt of him?”
“No, of course not.” I could lie easily now; to anyone.
“Dammit, don't lie.”
She wasn't going to let it go. I had to come up with something else.
“Yes. Okay, okay... yes I've dreamt of him. But it means nothing. He means nothing. I... I don't even....” I was patronizing her and she missed it completely.
She laughed. “Oh my god, you're lying to yourself. He's gotten to you. He's inside you... corrupting everything you are. He's controlling you even now...”
“Don't be so dramatic. No one has the power to do stuff like that. I think you need to spend a little less time watching those B horror flicks. You're confusing them with reality.” I shook my head and turned from her but she grabbed my arm and jerked me back. I glared at her with such force she stumbled backwards and hit her head on the corner of the glass coffee table; then a hard crack as her skull hit the marble tiled floor. I hadn't meant to do it.
“Oh my god, Jennifer.” I rushed to her and knelt down beside her. Blood poured from a three inch gash on the side of her head as her eyes filled with panic.
“Deirdre, please promise me you'll get away from him.”
“Shh, don't talk... everything will be fine now.” I took the scarf from my neck and held it against her wound. I stared at the cell phone on the table next to us.
She looked over at it too, “911” she whispered hoarsely.
“They can't help you now. No one can.”
I loosened the pressure of the scarf and sat with her until she lost consciousness. Then I called 911.
I knew it was too late. I cried. Why had this happened?
Jen had been right. I dreamt of Jared every night. He'd gotten inside me, my mind and my soul.
Now I was evil like he was. And I was happy for the first time in my life.  

©2016 Garden Summerland

Friday, January 22, 2016

Heaven



It was a sticky-wet, steamy kind of night. Storms from earlier in the evening had been replaced by a light mist that settled on my windshield obscuring the clear view I'd hoped for. I'd been impatiently waiting almost three hours. I had both of my windows down, but the street stench was practically making me gag. I was thankful I hadn't eaten.
I'd seen runaways, hookers and junkies. I'd watched patrons getting blow jobs in the parking lot, and a couple of guys left with dancers. But she hadn't appeared; even though she was due off work at two. Now it was quarter til five. Two groups of girls had come out an hour ago, but she wasn't amongst them. It would be getting daylight soon. Where the hell was she?
I'd parked on a side street across from the club. The rental stuck out like a sore thumb. If I'd had more time I would've boosted a car from the discount store across from my motel. But I was working on a time constraint.
It had to be tonight. If I missed this opportunity I'd have to wait another month. The ritual had to be done on the first night of the full moon. And it had to be her. Heaven Starr.
I got out of the car and closed the door gently. I lit a cigarette and walked around to the trunk. There was a homeless man with a full dirty-white beard sitting on the sidewalk and propped up against the building. He looked me up and down. I stepped towards him and he looked away.
"Hey old man, you never saw me, right?" I held out a twenty.
He smiled a toothless grin, nodded and snatched the bill from my hand. He was probably seeing two of me anyway. Nothing better than an unreliable witness. I smiled. My power was slowly returning, and after tonight, it would be full strength. Then nothing could stop me. No cops, no FBI... not even their god.
The right wing religious zealots that have been all over the news this month would take the blame for my work. The media had already given their coalition credit for two of the six rituals I'd performed. I'd left clues to my real identity but the cops were still too stupid to get it. I guess it didn't help that we shared the same initials. I laughed. I loved the irony. As usual, they were worshiping the wrong god.
They needed you to spell it out for them, but I didn't have time to play cat and mouse games.
I had a job to do. I didn't want to be caught. I didn't need to be caught, and I wasn't going to be. I'd been psychoanalyzed by the best of them years ago, and they'd been wrong. It had nothing to do with my mother. I'd been called, and I'd answered. And soon, I would be rid of the filth that had surrounded me since birth, and I would ascend to my true place. And they would all worship at my alters. Sinners.
I'd already caused one of the clubs to close. I'd gotten two girls from that one; I knew that was why. It was always something in the numbers, but that was beyond my comprehension. It didn't matter. You didn't have to be a genius to perform the work of the righteous. And I had been chosen. I'd known it all my life.
Heaven would understand.

I unlocked the trunk and retrieved my gloves and handcuffs. I shoved them into the pockets of the army vest I was wearing, and let the trunk lid down. As I turned around I noticed the old man was still monitoring my activity.
"You don't worry about what I'm doing, okay?"
He mumbled something then spoke up, "I ain't seen nothing Mister. You don't even exist."
"That's right old man, I don't."
I flicked my cigarette into a puddle and got back in the car. Just as I closed the door, she appeared.
There was an ethereal glow around her. She was truly my star. I hated to sacrifice her, but it had to be done, didn't it? I'd meditated many hours about it. And now I sat questioning myself; could she be rehabilitated? Could she believe? She was after all, called Heaven for a reason.
I was in awe of her. She was the most beautiful creature I'd ever seen. I wanted her for my own.
It was in that moment that the course of my destiny realigned; I remade the decision I'd been adamant about only minutes before. Everything changed in the flash of her smile. She could rule by my side as my queen; heaven sent and so named. The vision evolved; I could see it clearly now. Even the lowest among us could be redeemed. I would save Heaven, and maybe by doing so, Heaven would save me. The rest of them would go to hell.

©2016 Garden Summerland

Friday, January 15, 2016

Seven Years Off



Casi tapped her foot anxiously. Two hours had gone by. One hundred twenty minutes she could never get back. It was just like all the birthdays and Christmases he had missed. They were gone unceremoniously and unappreciated. And now the train station was practically deserted. She scoffed. This wasn't her first time and it probably wouldn't be her last.
She rubbed her hands together wishing she'd brought gloves. She tugged at the too small cap she wore. The only thing he'd ever sent her. It was seven years old; she'd been seven when she got it.
Her aunt had called her in from the backyard, and she'd come running... tore open the brown papered package. A pink and white striped knit cap with a huge pom pom on the top of it. It had been the loveliest thing she'd ever seen. And it was all hers. The only thing he'd ever given her, the only connection she had.
She'd worn it for years. Knowing that the very first time she saw him, she'd be wearing it. So here she sat, looking ridiculous with a child's cap on her head. It was just seven years later than she'd thought it would be.
She looked at her watch. It was almost six. The last train would be coming in from the city. She felt her heart slow and her throat went dry. He wasn't coming. Again.
She swallowed hard and searched in her bag for a throat lozenge. She took one out of it's cellophane wrapping and held the sticky square in her hand. Honey-lemon. Her aunt knew she hated those. The cherry ones, those was her favorite.
“Casi?” A man's voice interrupted her inner conversation.
She was afraid to look up. Was it him? Had he come after all? Would she even recognize him? She stared down at the lozenge another few seconds... the man didn't speak again.
Her heart raced inside her chest and slowly she raised her gaze to meet his.
An old man in a rumpled brown suit stood in front of her, motionless; an envelope in his outstretched hand.
She let out a sigh of relief and contempt as she snatched the envelope from his hand. Bitter tears streamed down her cheeks as she glared at him.
“What do you want old man? A tip?” She barked it at him, the hurt and rage building inside her.
Then she noticed his hands; they were shaking, uncontrollably. Oh dear god, the old man was gonna have some sort of seizure right in front of her.
“I'm sorry... I'm so so sorry.” She shoved the envelope in her purse & dropped the lozenge.
The old man watched as the lozenge hit the dirty tile floor and he laughed.
“Honey-lemon? I always hated those. The cherry ones are my favorite.”
Casi froze. Something inside her recognized that laugh. It was warm and familiar and just like her own.
She didn't dare look up again; and her voice cracked when she spoke.
“Daddy?” It was a whisper.
The old man sat down next to her on the metal bench and touched the side of her face.
“Nice hat. Maybe we can find one that fits you better now.”
For the first time in her life, Casi cried tears of joy.


©2016 Garden Summerland

Friday, January 8, 2016

Spoke Too Soon




It had been seven days since she'd seen him. And she'd cried every one of those days. A whole week of tears, and for what? To ease her guilt?
She had no one to blame. She's the one that had broken things off. No contact. That was what she'd said. And now she was miserable.
But it wasn't because she was lonely. She'd never been lonely. A husband, two jobs, a lover and two best friends all vying for her attention. Only now, she didn't have the lover. She'd known that it would eventually come to this.
It had to be him or the husband. Had she made the right choice?
She wasn't even sure how she and Sam had gotten romantically involved. It had started innocently enough. David was the one that had introduced them. Sam was one of his childhood friends, and after Sam's divorce, he'd moved back to town and reconnected with David. Then there was the end of summer barbecue, and Sam came alone. He shook her hand when David introduced them and it made her go weak in the knees.
Carly and David had been married for eleven years, and she loved her husband. David was a traveling salesman and although he was gone three weeks out of the month, she knew she couldn't use that as an excuse.
She was fine being alone, that wasn't the problem. She was restless and bored. And she needed the excitement that Sam brought into her life. Late night rendezvous and clandestine meetings. It made her heart race and her skin tingle. Just thinking about him made her giddy. He was tall and muscular, with blond hair that fell into small curls at the nape of his neck. He had deep blue eyes and a Southern accent that made her melt.. He was everything David wasn't.
But then... David got fired. Now he was home all the time, and her unexplained outings were being scrutinized. She had grown weary of the dishonesty. It had been different when he was away, but now she had to face him, look into his eyes and lie. It was more than she could bear.
They had been happy once; years ago it had been David that gave her butterflies. She longed for those times again. But she feared it could never be recovered. She had tasted the forbidden fruit of Sam and now she realized there was no turning back the clock. No matter how much her guilt ate away at her soul, she couldn't shake the emptiness she felt since she'd decided to walk the straight and narrow.
Sam had been her secret pleasure. Not even her best friends knew, and she wasn't about to tell them now that it was over. No, she was going to have to face the facts, and try to rebuild her relationship with her husband. Of course he had been the logical choice, the only one that made sense. And yet... she couldn't help second guessing her decision. She thought it would be easier to say good-bye to Sam and never look back. But looking back was all she'd done. She missed him. And soon the cold hard realization began to sink in. She was in love with Sam.
There was nothing to be done. She was going to have to tell David. Then there would be a messy divorce, and she would lose everything she'd struggled for years to maintain. And for what? The reality was, that life with Sam might not be as thrilling as it appeared. But there was only one way to find out. Was it worth the risk?
She decided it was.
She would come clean that night. She would pack her things, and confess her sins. And by next week, she'd be with Sam.
On her drive home from work, she got everything straight in her head. She would be honest, and succinct. He could have everything, she just wanted out.
Upon her arrival, she found David sitting in the living room in the dark.
“What's going on? Why are you sitting in the dark?” she questioned as she turned on lights in the foyer. He sat motionless in his recliner.
“David? What's... what's the matter? You're scaring me.”
She flicked on the lamp next to him, illuminating his red face and swollen eyes. He'd been crying.
He reached his hands up to her, “Carly, come here.”
She took his hands and knelt at his feet. He must've found out about Sam. She hadn't wanted him to hear it from someone else. This was going to be harder than she thought. But she had no choice now but to come clean. The sooner she got this out of the way, the sooner she could start a new life with Sam.
“David....I...I don't know what to say. I'm so sorry. I wanted to be the one to tell you. And we never meant for it to happen... it's just... you're gone so much... and Sam... Sam has been there for me. And we...”
He jerked his hands away.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“David... Sam and I have been seeing each other for about a year. And.... and I want a divorce. He loves me, and I love him.”
He laughed. Not just a chuckle, but full on raucous laughter.
“Carly... you fool. You are so self-centered, you always were. If only you'd kept your mouth shut. There was a horrible accident out on route 5 this morning. Sam is dead.”

©2016 Garden Summerland


Monday, December 21, 2015

Mirrored Soul Soliloquy




I had awakened and yet I still slept; restless and broken. I still dreamt of you, but I could no longer remember details, only fuzzy recollections of your beautiful face; an amber lit street, strangers and your friends, dancing in the dark.
Some of them I recognized from old photographs, but I never knew them. I was confused... had I been with you? Yes, I could still feel your presence; lines had been crossed. Reality to my dreams, my dreams into your reality. But now it was all a part of the past... or was it?
As expected, my room was unbearably hot. I opened a window onto the cool night and looking up I counted stars, your stars. Our stars. I whispered to the wind; look up at that sky; endless blackness dotted with tiny sparks. I wanted you. And I would have you. Again.
I took out my journal and jotted down the time and how I felt.
Sad? No. Depressed? Maybe a little. But tonight's ruling emotion was more like bereavement. I'd lost... something. I felt relieved and lighter... freer and yet bound even tighter to my fantasy. But it was so much more than a fantasy. This one had come true, and I knew we would be reunited once again. I felt it deep inside my soul... my bones... what was deeper? I couldn't escape you. My soul mate, my twin flame... separated by eons, years traveled in a heartbeat... love to love. Me to you.
The cool air made me shiver. Sleep beckoned once again, or perhaps it was you... calling from across time. I would go back to you. I felt your words inside my mind.
Meet me in our secret place... close your eyes and I will appear.
I did as your voice commanded.
Nothing.
I kept my eyes closed and waited... willing myself to you.
Still nothing.
My breath became shallow as my hopes fell.
I opened my eyes and let the window down gently, turning my back on the powerful shimmering orb in the sky.
I fought the urge to smash my fist through the pane. I wanted to feel the shattering glass... jagged shards slicing into my arm. That was what my heart felt like... separated from you. Bereaved? Yes. That was it. You were split from me so long ago, and never allowed to find your way home to me.
And now you wander...seeking solace with them. Your lovers. Hundreds of them; adoring sycophants willing to do anything you ask.
They are lost too... still you go to them; sleep with them and tell them you love them. For what? Only to breed dissatisfaction because they are not me.
But I am here. Silently I cry out for you in the middle of the day. My words never reaching their intended destination. Only... you do not know that I am here; how could you? Your world has been twisted, turned upside down; an amnesiac soul tossed around the unfathomable abyss. That city. The place you call home.
You catch your breath as I whisper your name. You can feel me... somewhere out there, and somewhere inside; deep within yourself, you know I exist. I must, or there is no purpose to any of it. I felt the same and then I saw you. Your smile touched the aching spaces between my heart and my soul. The empty space that was all that was left when your soul was ripped from mine. You feel it too. A longing that nothing satisfies... you search for another high, but there is no drug to replace me. Your addiction isn't for the feeling... it is for my presence inside you.
Hear me now, my love. My twin... the white hot flame of my mirrored soul can never be extinguished or replaced.

©2015 Garden Summerland



Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Fine Line



At first I struggled with the prospect of being alone. But I had gotten used to it. A new-found sense of freedom made the time pass quickly and eased my conscience somewhat.
And then today I found an old photograph taken of us when we were toddlers. A Christmas picture with Santa taken at the mall. We were smiling. We looked happy in our matching outfits. Thankfully, I didn't remember it.
And I didn't recall when things had changed, only that they did. We'd grown up together, with so many things in common and yet we were so different from each other. I'd always been the one that cared too much, until one day, I just didn't.
That day had come two years ago. It had been two years since I'd held her in my arms. Two years since she'd died. Two years and I could still feel her pulse weakening beneath my fingertips. She had passed out but I didn't turn loose of her, I couldn't. Her words echoed in my head and my grip had tightened.
"Loser. You'll never be anything, and no one will ever love you. You're ugly."
It was her morning mantra directed at me as she greeted me at breakfast every day.
Tears had streamed down my face as hers had turned an off shade of blue. My were fingers were locked around her neck, all I'd had to do was wait. I remembered it fondly just like it was yesterday. I'd counted in my head until she'd stopped breathing. Had I known it would be that easy I would've done it years before I finally did.
How odd that the old photo made me miss her. The duality of loving someone so much that you actually hated them had always been my cross to bear. And now, apparently, so was the guilt.
She had been my best friend.
My only friend.
My twin.


©2015 Garden Summerland