K is for Knowing

An attempt to produce a poem or story from now until the end of April (except Sundays).
The theme for the 2022 A to Z Challenge is the human condition.


“What’s wrong?” Ben appeared in the kitchen doorway, still in his hat and coat.

“Your darling daughter and I are no longer on speaking terms.” Chrissie slammed a bowl of salad on the table.

“Could have fooled me. I heard the screaming in the street.”

Chrissie scowled at him and stomped off into the pantry. Ben dropped his briefcase with a sigh and a thud.

“How has your mother offended you this time, Kim?” He addressed the slumped figure in an oversized hoodie.

“She won’t let me go to Mia’s party.”

“That’s because it’s on Friday.” Ben loosened his tie.

“And if you remember, Friday is my brother’s wedding anniversary.” Chrissie was back with a jar of mayonnaise. “And we are all going to the party. Together.”

“Why? We’re hardly in the running for the happy family of the year award.”

“Do not speak to your mother like that,” snapped Ben.

“You do.”

“I have had enough of your attitude, young lady, any more of this, and you will be grounded for the next forty-eight hours. Understand.”

“Yeah, only school and clarinet practice allowed and no friends over. Until,” Kim checked her phone, “Thursday.”

“And drop the passive-aggressive act, or it will be for a week.”

“Sorry, daddy,” she said with a contrite smile.

“That’s better.” He patted her hand. “Come on, let’s eat. I’m starving.”

“I’m not hungry,” said Kim.

“Not one of your diets again?” Chrissie gave her a stern look.

“No, just had a nasty biology lesson today.”

“Nastier than the mess you made dissecting cockroaches?”

“Ben, please!” Chrissie wrinkled her nose.

“Worse than that,” grimaced Kim. “A boil-in-the-bag rat.”

“Try not to be too graphic and upset your mother again this time,” said Ben. “But what do you mean?”

“Frozen rats sealed in vacuum bags. We broke their little legs and pinned them to boards by their tiny feet. Don’t worry, mum; there was no blood. Then we sliced them open. My rat was a right fatty lard cake with an abdominal cavity full of orange slime. But the intestines were the funny bits: Mia made her rat poo itself. So much crap came out; Kasey was sick in the lab sink. Which smelt worse than the rats. Until they defrosted and went all mushy—”

Chrissie gagged and ran from the room with her hands over her mouth.

“That’s it, Kim, you’ve done it now,” Ben jumped up. “You aren’t going anywhere for the next seven days.” He snatched a napkin and hurried after Chrissie.

Kim smiled, picked up her mobile, and texted Mia.

“It worked LOL CU Friday!”

J is for Joyful

Image source: oceanadventures.co.za

An attempt to produce a poem or story from now until the end of April (except Sundays).
The theme for the 2022 A to Z Challenge is the human condition.


He puts on the linen suit Wendy said would be so classy and perches a Panama hat on his head at a rakish angle. The mirror reflects a picture of sophisticated elegance, except for his expression. He forces his face into a smile; now, he is ready for the Beach Terrace Café reception.

‘This is where we will meet the right people,’ Wendy said.

He will do this for her because all he ever cared about was making her happy.

‘How do I look?’ Wendy appears in the bedroom doorway, dressed in lilac, the colour of old age. Her hat resembles the light shade his mother had on the standard lamp in their front parlour. A fusty room for entertaining guests who merited the best china, and where he would sit in polite formality, wishing he were anywhere else.

‘You look nice.’ What else can he say? He misses her ethnic prints and the bold palette of colours she used to wear. Now she favours the bland tones of safety and respectability.

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His social smile fades as he escorts her along the greeting line. She simpers and air kisses with the best of them.

He remembers a time when Wendy drew attention with her shine and dazzle, and how she moved among people, not caring if she said the wrong thing or wore the wrong clothes.

Now she tries too hard, her smile is brittle, her laugh is too loud, and they brush her off like a fly from honey.

She bows her head, and he moves to her. ‘Don’t cry, Wendy.’

‘I am not crying; I’m angry with them and with me. What are we doing here?’

‘You insisted we come because making new and better friends was one of your conditions for us to start again.’

‘I was wrong.’ The sun disappears behind a cloud and Wendy shivers.

‘Shall we go home?’ He struggles to contain a burgeoning hope.

‘Take me back.’

‘Stay here. There’s something I need to do.’

He finds a dark corner in the bar and takes off his clothes, letting them fall to the ground. A waiter approaches him.

‘Sir, are you all right?’

‘Never felt better.’ He takes a drink from the tray and steps outside.

A woman screams and drops her glass. The throng of people stop talking and stare at him in silence, except for two children who giggle and point.

He winks at them and hands his drink to the woman. ‘There you go, enjoy!’

He strolls over to Wendy. ‘Are you ready?’

She nods but does not look at him. He crooks a finger under her chin and lifts her face to his.

The sun comes out, and Wendy smiles with a radiance that is blinding. She rips off her hat, takes his hand and they run, laughing, down to the sea.

I is for Insomnolence

Image: Depression by Ekaterina Myroniuk @ saatchiart.com

An attempt to produce a poem or story from now until the end of April (except Sundays).
The theme for the 2022 A to Z Challenge is the human condition.


Sleep, little one, sleep
Let me chase away your demons
For I am the guardian of the night
And with me to protect you
To envelop you and hold you
Sleep will come to you again

Wake, little one, wake
Shake off your chemical slumber
For I am the morning star
And my light will carry you
Guide you, and support you
If you awaken unto me

Depend on us and trust in us
Do not spurn us, but embrace us
For are we not your friends
Our one desire to help you
Think of life without us
And remember it if you can

H is for Heartbreak

Image source: weheartit.com

An attempt to produce a poem or story from now until the end of April (except Sundays).
The theme for the 2022 A to Z Challenge is the human condition.
Also includes the Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt: HOW
.


“How much do you love me?”

He buttons up her wedding gown, but the bodice gapes and droops. Then he hands her the veil. But no pins or hair grips: she has no use for such things these days.

“I love you more than I did yesterday,” he says, cupping her face in his hands.

“But will you still love me tomorrow?” Her sunken eyes sparkle and gleam at him.

“My love for you will never die,” he promises.

“Can you show me how much you love me?”

He carries her out onto the terrace, where his tears flow to mix with hers. They share a kiss, and he steps back.

“Thank you.” She gives him one last smile and hoists herself up onto the balcony. For a second, she is silhouetted against the setting sun. Then her body tumbles into the lengthening shadows below.

G is For Guarded

Image source: wikipedia.org

An attempt to produce a poem or story from now until the end of April (except Sundays).
The theme for the 2022 A to Z Challenge is the human condition.


“You don’t look like a florist,” said Rowan. “More like a builder.”

“Looks can be deceiving,” Liam grunted as he took the seat opposite.

“I guess there’s not much call for flower arranging these days.”

“Not really.” Liam’s eyes narrowed. “Can we cut through the remember when crap and get down to business?”

“Just making small talk. I want to get to know you and your people.” Rowan gave him a bright smile. “For instance, what did these fine fellows do back in the day?”

“Spencer here, used to be a hairdresser. And that lanky streak of piss over there is an Olympic gold medallist.”

“High jump?”

“Close, long jump.” Liam signalled for the two men to leave the room. “I assume that’s what you wanted?”

“Yes, this is for your ears only.” Rowan leaned forward. “I have a proposal.”

“Really? You are in no position to make demands.”

“That’s where you’re wrong! Calm your tits,” chided Rowan, “and do sit down again. I’m going to tell you a story.”

“Make it short if you want to get out of here alive,” Liam growled.

“We are a group of thirty-seven: sixteen males and twenty-one females. The youngest is a boy of seven months, and the eldest is a woman of sixty-eight. My mother.”

“Heart-warming.”

“Hear me out: Her name is Martha.”

Liam’s head jerked up. “The Martha?”

Rowan nodded.

“I see the resemblance now. This changes things somewhat.” Liam drummed his fingers on the table. “Who else knows?”

“Torrance and the late and unlamented Conway. And they had enough sense to keep that information to themselves.”

“Why tell me? If I take out Torrance, then all thirty-seven of you are at my mercy, Martha or no Martha.”

“And that, Liam, is the reason I’m here. We are tired of living in fear and moving from place to place. We thought Conway was the answer to our prayers. But she was greedy, and her protection never matched up to what she took. So we went into hiding.”

“Until along came Torrance, I’m guessing.”

“An amenable chap, but not a leader. He removed Conway, which is something we were all grateful for, but Torrance is weak, and there are too many factions vying for power.”

“And you want stability?”

“Who doesn’t! We see it this way. If everyone came together and formed an alliance, then this entire area could be defended.”

“Our two groups combined will not be enough. Why should I risk my people to save yours?”

“Because she believes you could convince Torrance and the other groups to work together. And,” Rowan grinned, “I have five brothers and four sisters, and we all lead a separate tribe.”

“Why don’t you work together to safeguard your people and land?

“That’s not my mother’s way. She has been waiting for the right person to come along. Someone with the will and motivation to build a force to be reckoned with.”

“Meaning, if I use my skills to guard the perimeter, Martha will use hers to provide food and sanctuary.”

“She said you’d understand.”

“I more than understand. Tell Martha, I’m in.” Liam rose to his feet. “Just one thing: why me?”

“She likes flowers.”