Short Stories

Sometimes we're all in the mood to escape to somewhere.

Up Is Down

She wondered if anyone else ever stopped for a second to say, “what the fuck?” As in, what the fuck is happening right now? Part of her mind was trying to pretend that everything was fine…fine and normal. But the other part, the one that was fighting to the surface, was screaming in pain — no, not pain — it was screaming because it’d been suffocating…for years. And now, because of what’s happened, it started to feel the air and it was gasping for breath…trying to break free at any weak moment. Her self-control, the power that kept it hidden for so long, was slipping.

She didn’t know how to respond. For the first time, she faced a situation she couldn’t talk, laugh, cry, reason or fuck her way out of. It was gut wrenching. It was so beyond any normal level of frustration it had to be some big dream. Or a joke. Inside she felt like a two-year-old having a temper tantrum. If it were even remotely socially acceptable, she would ball her fists up and stomp around until the feeling passed.

But, of course, that wasn’t acceptable behavior. And since life and success are all about perception, she tried to keep up the charade she’d been playing for some time. The big house. The dinners. The cheek kisses. The smiles. They’d served her well. But something was different now, suddenly.

Alone. That’s what it was. It’d been awhile since she thought about how much that feeling enveloped her. It was scary. She usually did whatever it took to avoid feeling that way, but not this time. It wasn’t about avoiding the uncomfortable; it was about trying to solve for it.

She thought how odd it felt to get to an age when she no longer wanted to keep going, just because. That inner monologue she’d been ignoring all these years? It was getting harder to ignore. Good enough was no longer good enough. At least, that’s what she felt at this instant. Who knew what was real and what wasn’t. Who knew what would pass and what wouldn’t.

She was at a fork in the road. Life and happily ever after were trying to part ways.

Ghost Town, Part 1

The town seemed as if it’d been asleep for hours — days, even — but a lone bed & breakfast still had its front light on. The plan was for it to be a one-night stay. They’d get up at dawn, perhaps grab a cup of coffee if it was offered, and be on their way.

She woke up before him. With a long day ahead, it was best to let him sleep a bit longer. She grabbed a sweatshirt and headed out for a walk. It was the first exercise she’d had in days, and it felt good to get out even if it was in such a sleepy old town.

Cool air came in off the mountains, making her thankful for the sweatshirt as she steered herself toward what must have been Main Street.

Something was off.

No one was in the street, but a sinister air filled the silence. As she walked, she realized there were more than a few faces staring back at her from behind beat-up, rotted-out window frames, the paint long ago peeled away.

Now self-conscious, she tried to act normal as she picked up the pace and redirected her course back to the b&b. Priority number one just became getting away from whatever secrets lurked beneath the surface in this sleepy old town.

Nowhere to Hide

She’d always felt like she had something to prove…ever since she was little. Some people would kill for a face that made you look innocent. Not her. She spent years running from it, showing herself and anyone in her way that she could not be controlled. No way. No how.

At some point or another, she’d turned into a grown-up. No one ever tells you that grown-ups have no idea what they’re doing. But to be fair, other grown-ups might have their shit together. She was just trying to prove she wasn’t a total screw up. So far, so good…as far as she could tell anyway.

Every city was the same old thing — new faces to meet, new faces to prove something to.

Occasionally a face from her past, nearly forgotten, would show itself. Then she was back there, living her memories of the way it used to be. Sometimes she couldn’t tell if it was a good or bad thing. All she knew was that it was harder to hide here…nowhere to run. Nothing to do but face it.

A New Beginning

The buzz of the city wasn’t as loud as the quiet out here in the country. Between the birds outside her window, always chirping, and the farm animals doing who knows what across the way, she couldn’t sleep. She longed for her old bed, now safely tucked in a 5′ x 5′ storage cell. With no spot left to call her own, her bags stayed packed and her life, on hold.

It’d been weeks since she even heard a siren. She missed the current of excitement, always on…in the air, the floorboards, the sidewalks. But it is calmer here, more relaxing. With less to do, she had more time for herself. More time to figure out the next step. New adventures will be had, of that she was sure. And she looked forward, not back.

One Last Night in NYC

She sat under the Oaks in Union Square, pondering the direction her night would take. It was the last one. Her last night as a resident. It was as if she looked back at a dream seven, no 27, years in the making. Her dream of surviving and thriving in the Big Apple. A city that showed no mercy to the weary. A city that swallowed tourists and spat them back out. A city she would always love.

Thoughts of sadness, loneliness and regret started to consume her. She was at risk of spiraling down, of spending the evening wallowing in self-pity and sorrow.

Then the acorns started to fall. One by one they bounced off her head to the pavement below. She looked around…no one else seemed afflicted, nor to even notice what befell her. Sitting atop the bench now posed a hazard. Beware of falling acorns…don’t look up, you’ll get one in the eye.

It was all she needed…she snapped out of it. A smile crept in. Then she was off.

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