Lover’s Leap

I always thought you had rescued me from the chaotic darkness, with your graceful light. I admired you for how well you knew all the rules, that social dance that overwhelms me. With just a few flashes of your smile and steady handshake, you waltzed us right into the large house on the hill that makes mother green with envy.

You’ve always known what to say, what to do. I’ve never seen you angry. Ever. Not even when I ruined the stove. But there was always something I could never pin down, something that always made me wonder about how perfect your responses were, something that left me feeling like you might not be fully sincere, but I tried to have hope and tell myself it was my past making me nervous.

Now that I am to be a mother though, I feel some other instinct is making me watch you a little too carefully. I think maybe I’m beginning to see what I’ve been seeing all along. The young women that have been on the news have all been so familiar, in a way that bothered me but I tried to dismiss.

I asked about my favorite cashier that I hadn’t seen for a while, hoping she had made it into the school she applied to, and I found she was one of the missing. I just hadn’t recognized her out of context. It opened my eyes. So many faces around me just aren’t there anymore. We knew them all, didn’t we? Shadows from the corner of my life, girls I noticed yet never saw.

And then last night, the blood in your hair, but I could not see a cut. I went through our closet today, and there are too many of your clothes missing that I can’t find in the laundry. Were they burned? Dropped in a river?

I can tell that you know what I’ve realized. I see my time is getting shorter. So I came here, were you proposed to me while we watched the sun set over the ocean. The overlook where the waters are too rough for swimming, were fishermen won’t sail.

I look at my own hands on the wheel and I remember how true it felt when you said I was nothing without you. I could not survive. You are right. You’ve clipped my wings to ensure it. You will not shape your daughter as you have shaped me.

We idle the car near the edge of the world and watch the sun set, and chat pleasantly while you try to figure out exactly how much I know. I smile, and evade as my heart fills with sorrow. As the sun blows a kiss to greet the oncoming night, I let my foot slide and we drive.

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Archeon Tarot Prompt: Three of Cups, reversed. 466 words. More tarot stories.

P.S. – This is my Archeon Deck. Much more serious, dark, and beautiful than my tongue in cheek zombie deck. Perfect to explore the dark hearts of human monsters while I dive into my research on serial killers and enjoy whole new levels of understanding on my latest Criminal Minds marathon.

Our Children

We sat together, you and I, with our families. We cheered for our children as they threw their caps in the air. We clapped until our hands were numb and we roared ourselves hoarse. Your son embraced my daughter, and they ran together into the night to celebrate.

They ran as far as they could run, to the edges of the world. She followed him as he ran, he was her guiding light. Why he ran, well, you likely know more than I.

They ran, and they stayed, and they put down roots. From such a distance, all looked gleaming, and happy, and lovely. No one knew.

He took her compassionate heart, and stewed it in pain, then slowly sliced off a little bit at a time to savor for his own needs, watching her writhe in his shadow.

I used to bring her to this park. When I heard she was gone, I would come here. I thought it would help.

I like it more when it is empty. We only have the crickets and dewdrops to keep us company. I don’t have to feel the echos of laughter and clinking of swings as chains binding my heart. I like it as it is now, when the streets are as empty as the churches.

That will change soon, when the dawn calls to the sleeping children and the families start moving about. I will leave you for now, but you will have company soon. Someone will come along and wipe the dew from your eyelashes, the blood from your mouth. Someone will clean you up before you go off into the darkness to be greeted by the monster son you made.

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Zombie Tarot prompt: Justice. More tarot stories.

P.S. – As part of my research, I’ve been studying Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives by John E. Douglas, Ann W. Burgess, and Robert K. Ressler. If the names are familiar, it’s because they’re bigwig FBI profilers. It reads a bit dry at times, it’s a little like an academic paper written for the general public.

However, it has the lovely side effect of making a Criminal Minds marathon into an audience participation event, and I’m having a blast with my “research”. In honor of this bliss, I’m going to start using another deck next week and start exploring more human monsters.

Savor: Ten of Cups

Horseradish. That would be perfect, just enough to give the other flavors a bit more punch. Usually she prefers pork seasonings, but the occasional hint of something good with red meat helps bring out the earthier tones of the dish.

Grandma would disapprove of such additions to her recipes, designed to be simple and enhance the natural flavor. Unfortunately, the difficulty of the hunt lately made it so that meat was rare, every effort must me made to maximize enjoyment. The prey were learning to protect themselves much better than they did in Grandma’s day.

She hummed as she worked, slicing turnips while a thigh soaked in the marinade. So many people undervalued a good roasted turnip. The flavor was so strong when raw, you would never expect it to turn so savory and mellow.

The repetitive task allowed her mind to wander, and she considered the satisfying catch and kill behind her. This one had been taken in his sleep, always better for the meat. She didn’t know why horror movies and the like talked about fear enhancing the flavor of meat, in her experience it made it taste a little off. This one never saw a thing coming, he was nice and cozy in his sleeping bag.

The park rangers are cracking down like wildfire, but they don’t know how to track something like her. They look for their trails on the ground, not in the trees. They would be aware, and so would the campers, but there will always be one or two that consider themselves to be safe enough to stray.

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Zombie Tarot Prompt: Ten of Cups. More tarot stories.

The Student

The love songs of the night gave way to the chatter of birds as the girl made her way across the prairie to the hut. Dew drops reflected the overcast sky, turning the field into a dreamlike silver, cut through with a green brush stroke winding behind her as her toes tickled the dew to the ground.

She watched a butterfly opening its wings in the rising dawn, fluttering lazily, enjoying a few more minutes in its silky floral bed. She was tempted to tease it on to her finger, but catching butterflies was a child’s game and she was too old for such things now.

Father had stopped howling. He was likely either dead or sleeping. The virus didn’t grant him much peace, she wasn’t sure which one she preferred.

Inside the hut, the smell had quieted down, grown more earthen. She would have expected something sour. Like when fruit turns to wine. This smelled more like mushrooms. He sat quietly, observing her as she observed him. He wasn’t breathing.

“I promised Mother I wouldn’t kill you. Do you remember Mother?” He was still enough to be made of stone. Except for those eyes, which were darker now. The irises were larger, large enough to be seeing rather well in the dim light. That explained why the monster had stuck to the shadows, his eyes were likely sensitive.

She opened the curtains, letting the dawn creep closer to the thing that used to be her father. The chains rattled as he shifted his weight away from the light, but there was no other reaction. Interesting. That implies physical distress, but not at a critical level.

“We never did spend a lot of time together, Father. I think I will remedy that. I propose a partnership. You shall teach me exactly how to defeat the plague. I pray I don’t cause you too much discomfort in the process.”

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Zombie Tarot Prompt: Page of Swords. More tarot flash stories over here.