the rocking chair

He sat naked in a rocking chair in an almost dark room. The door was closed. Three windows were open. The wind blew crisp air into the room and made the thin white curtains flow into the empty space. Outside, the moon played hide and seek with the clouds in the sky. Their play made shadows dance on the bare walls.

The chair creaked on the hardwood floors with every forward motion. Some panels were loose from years of use. It was as if they had a memory of every footstep that had ever touched them. The man kept moving. The same movements, over and over again. The repetition was somewhat meditative. Soothing. And he needed that for himself. Calmness. Stillness. He wanted to close his eyes and escape the earth and all its noise for a while, but he couldn’t. He was scared. Scared that the demons lurking in the shadows were finally there to steal his soul. No, sleep or rest of any kind was not an option. No matter how tired he was or how much his eyes hurt from squinting in the dark, he needed to keep them open and stay alert. Awake. Everwake.

The man’s mind was at once empty and overflowing. His body was in flames from the heat surrounding his heart one moment, and it was freezing cold the next from the gushes of air, raising goosebumps on his exposed skin. Everything was the opposite of how it was supposed to be. But he kept rocking back and forth on his wooden rocking chair.

In the dark, the red cushions weren’t visible. But he knew that they were there, supporting his weight. There was a tear on the back and a couple of stains under his bottom; he knew every blemish by heart. Like the scars or tattoos on his skin, every stain and every tear, every hole had a story. And he remembered them all. Memories. Remembering meant either torment or bliss. Tonight every flash of the past equalled agony.

The moon kept travelling across the sky, closely followed by a thin layer of clouds. An owl was awake in the tree under his window; it called for someone in the dark night.

He needed a drink, and he craved a cigarette, but he couldn’t leave his chair. He was trapped in his own darkness, not only the darkness of the room but the darkness of his mind too.

The partying shadows on the walls and on the ceiling kept mocking him and his life in captivity. If he were strong enough, he would have tried to fight every single demon. But he was weak and afraid of the dark. He was lonely. Alone.

Another flash of the past made him remember the woman he had loved. He had only loved once. Genuine and honest and raw. He had been able to feel love, to give, and to receive it too. Those times were long gone. There was nothing loveable about him anymore, and if someone tried to be affectionate toward him, he had the unique gift to ruin it every time. No one was allowed to see past the image he had decided to show of himself. No one was allowed to see his vulnerabilities and his weaknesses. No, showing those only ever resulted in pain.

As the middle-aged man kept rocking back and forth on his chair, the voices in his head grew louder and more insistent with each creak of the wooden frame. From soothing to aggravating in a matter of moments. He hit the side of his head with his flat hand. Left hand. Left temple. “Stupid,” he muttered. The ghosts had not left, but no one answered him. Behind him, the curtains made a swishing sound. He stopped moving. He was convinced they were here to take him away, to make him vanish into thin air. He held his breath. He reasoned that maybe they couldn’t see him if he stayed still.

The owl was calling him from the shelter of her tree. And from the walls, shadows tried to catch him. He was paralysed with fear. There was no escape. The sheer terror of all his sins was staring into his pale red-rimmed eyes and tried to pull him under. If he had been able to do it, he would have closed his eyes. But he couldn’t. His body did not belong to him anymore; it did not obey his silent pleading orders anymore. The man tried to scream for help, for someone to save him and wake him up from this nightmare, but no sound got out of his mouth. There was no sound but the wind and the owl. The man was lost in this weird dream, knowing full well that he was not asleep. He was trapped in a cage of fear.

He gasped. For a moment, everything became clear. For a moment, he understood that it was all in his head and that his mind was playing tricks on him. Nothing was real.

His face turned into a painful grimace, and then he chuckled. His shoulders moved along with the sound. And he started laughing until he was scratching at the door of insanity. He was rocking in his chair again. Back and forth. Over and over again.

The moon was slowly fading, making room for the sun. The shadows on the walls began to become invisible, and the owl stopped calling for her lover. The wind had let up, too, leaving the curtains to rest after an eventful night.

He tried to exhale deeply, but because he was still laughing, he only made a wheezing sound. The ghost of the night was still lingering in the sweat covering his naked body. The man was drenched in fear. But he kept moving. Back and forth. Back and forth. In his mind, a film was replaying the worst moments of his life. He was convinced that he deserved the punishment the darkness brought upon him every night anew. There was nothing left fighting for. No redemption in sight.

The man finally closed his eyes. A grin was spread on his face. Maybe the next time, he would start to fight the madness residing in his head. Yes. Next time. Or maybe… not.

(1048 words, written during the early hours of August 25th 2021)

Flash #2

A circle of words; never changing words. Every story has been written and felt before. Hers too. And yet, she feels as if she has to share her book of life in some way. Perhaps, laced with fiction, readers will want to know more about this unique yet average character. Perhaps, they recognise some of the described feelings and emotions and validate her in some way? But more likely, her own words become true for herself, too: everyone has a story, but not everyone should tell it.

Who decides if a story is worth hearing? Who is to say that one’s feelings are more valid than others? Who decides those things?

A circle of words; of never changing simple words can have as much (if not more) impact than complicated vocabulary.

###

Gil Ofarim – Vom Ende der Traurigkeit

Something a lot like love

I wake up, rested, and with a smile on my face. This hasn’t happened in a long while, and I stretch my arms above my head with a low moan. The sun is shining, and the birds are singing their songs, announcing another hot summer day. Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I turn to face you, and I am startled, and a bit embarrassed, when I see you sitting cross-legged with your laptop balancing on your knees and papers next to you. You are pinching a pen between your lips, and your reading glasses add something serious to your face. Your hair is messy and sticking in every direction, I smile, remembering how it felt between my fingers last night. I wonder how late it is and how long you have been awake. Your fingers are caressing the keys of your laptop as if they were on a mission. I nudge your knee with mine, making you smile and dropping the pen from your lips. The speed of your fingers falters, but they don’t stop.

By now, I know that you are a workaholic – a real sexy one at that, but I never had the chance to wake up with you in work mode before. It feels domesticated, and as if we are entering the next level of our relationship. At the same time, it feels as if it has always been like this; familiar. “Let me just finish this real quick, and then I am all yours, ” you say, and I nod. Your voice is low and thick with sleep. I want to crawl into your lap and claim your attention, but I am too old for that. You asked for a couple of moments to finish your business – I respect that. The words “I love you” are at the tip of my tongue, but I swallow them down. A concentrated frown is forming between your brows, and you lean closer to your screen. Intelligence is sexy, and you are the perfect example of that.

I decide not to distract you, and turning to my stomach; I fumble for my phone on the nightstand. I could get out of the bed and freshen up in the bathroom, after all, this is the first time we spent the day, the night, and the next morning together without any of us being in a hurry to get to work. We have never spent this much time together. But I want to stay in bed next to you. Your heady, sweaty scent is comforting for me. Your presence and your silent company are all I want for now. For a moment, insecurity gets the best of me, hoping that I am not a total mess this morning. In the movies, lovers wake up looking perfect, hair and makeup are where they are supposed to be, their eyes are never swollen. But I am not an actress; I am me. I run my hands over my unruly hair, matting it down slightly; after that, I run my fingers under my eyes, wiping smudged mascara away. That has to be enough for now. I am not perfect.

Concentrating on my phone again, I read the news and check my social media channels. Nothing exciting to see, and I keep scrolling until I see a picture of us. We are laughing into the camera, both holding a drink, looking flushed and happy. The caption underneath isn’t written in words; there are two emoticons: a smiling face, and a red heart. I smile, and my heart races. We had a great evening. Perfect even. But I hadn’t noticed that you posted our photo online. I don’t mind, too much, though. Until now, we were dating casually; the picture is making what we have more real and official. I like that. Butterflies are doing somersaults in my stomach. The comments are all kind and friendly; some are teasing. Some people are congratulating you on your new girlfriend. Is that what I am? Am I your girlfriend? We haven’t put a label on our relationship, but maybe that too is the natural evolution of things?

“Be right back, ” you announce, cleaning the papers from your side of the bed and tugging the laptop under your arm. I nod and get back to the social media app with a sigh. Is this it? Am I supposed to leave now? I expected a make-out session in the morning, continuing where we left off last night, but real life is not a story or a movie. I tug a strand of my hair behind my ear and push the blanket off my legs—time to get moving.

I startle when I feel your lips on my calf. One of your hands caresses my leg while your lips leave a kissing trail all over my body until you turn me in your arms. I can’t hide my happy grin.

“Good morning, where are you going?” you ask, kissing my lips. You taste like mint, and I am embarrassed that I didn’t take the time to brush my teeth. But you don’t let me overthink. You have a way of distracting my train of thoughts. My hands map your skin, touching as much of you as I can, while your kisses get more demanding. I close my eyes and feel the mattress dip under our weights. You cover me from head to toe, framing my face with your hands. I feel every inch of you pushed against me, igniting my need for you. I spread my legs, and just like a puzzle, everything falls into place. This is where I am supposed to be right now. I look at you and see an expression of love and lust. My heart is expanding and pushing every thought aside; I am pulled under in a wave of emotions.

We stay in bed most of the day. Making love, reading on our phones, talking. We just get up to eat and take a shower. The sun sets, and the moon rises.

It is Saturday night, and as my senses are filled with you, I moan the words I kept back the entire day: “I love you.” You smile, and your touches become more sensual, and the way you make love to me becomes something deeper. Something meaningful.

I rest my head on your chest after being boneless from my last orgasm. Your hand caresses my back. “Say it again,” you demand. I smile against your skin. “I love you.” My cheeks flush as the words leave my mouth. “Is it cheesy when I say that I do too?” you reply. You shuffle from underneath me and turn to face me. “Is it too early to be in love?” I burst out laughing. We are in our mid-thirties and behaving like teenage girls. You join me, kissing my forehead when you regain your breath. “Stay, I love you.” The seriousness of your words overwhelms me, but I am trying to hide it. I simply pull you into my arms. And it feels good. No words are needed. Just us. The connection between us.

We settle in for the night, watching a movie on your laptop. I haven’t worn any clothes all day long, I think before I fall asleep in your bed for the second night in a row.

30 meters

Read at your own discretion… This short fiction is about a suicidal person jumping off a roof. Not for the faint of heart.

*****

I am standing on the window ledge. Outside There’s barely space for my feet. They aren’t large. It’s the sneakers which make them appear huge. Is that a stain on my Jeans? Does it make sense that I care? The wind is playing in my hair. I like that. And the wind kisses my face. It’s not cold. Not warm either. Something in between. Pleasant. I should have undressed. I should have thought about experiencing all of this naked. Naked I came into the world and naked I will leave. But I didn’t prepare this. There is no plan. The way my jacket flaps against my chest irks me. I take it off and let it glide down. I watch the black cloth as it floats down down down until it hides the gasping crowd. The people down there on the sidewalk are all looking up at me. Are they seeing me? Do they know who I am or why I am here? Are they seeing tomorrow’s headlines? I hope there aren’t any children. Parents shouldn’t gawk and watch a person jump off a roof with their children. That’s bad parenting. How will they explain to the little ones what they are witnessing when they have no idea what they are looking at?! They don’t know me and my messed up mind.

I look up into the sky. It’s grey. The clouds are moving fast. I always liked the clouds. I liked to watch them and dream myself away. Away from my life. I smile and try to touch the cotton-like clouds. But I can’t quite reach them. And yet…

I feel that I am in control. For the first time in my life. I will end here. My life, my journey – they will end here.

I can hear the wail of sirens. I can’t see them yet, but they are coming for me. Or whatever will be left of me after I landed head first on the concrete. Who are they? Firefighters? Paramedics? The police? Haha, the Police – Sting. Fields of Gold and that version Eva Cassidy sang that always chokes me up. Was her name Cassidy or Cassedy? I will look it up later. Oh right! There will be no later. I will miss Music… was my first love and it will be my last. Music of the fut-SHUT-UP!! Thoughts, shut the fuck up! This is not the time and not the place to distract me.

I check my pockets. I don’t want anything falling out and hurting my audience. Keys. Cellphone. Pen. I crouch down and put them on the ledge next to me. I get up, smile again and braid my hair. I don’t have anything to keep it together, but at least it’s not in my face anymore. I used to love the wind in my hair. Why is it irritating me right now? Maybe I should have shaved my head before coming up here, but… no. I like my hair. And I didn’t plan this. There is no plan. I run my fingers over the thick braid. My mood is shifting. From bubbly to irritated and angry.

My knees are weak. They are shaking, but it’s okay. It’s the height, I am not a fan of heights. Soon, I am going to fly. I wonder how it will feel to be weightless. Carried by the wind. That Lenny Kravitz song comes to my mind I want to get away. I wanna fly away yeah yeah… and I try to push it out of my head. I don’t want it to be my last soundtrack. Maybe ‘asleep’ by the Smiths would be good or ‘I don’t fit’ by Madrugada… I should have made a playlist before coming up here. I feel completely unprepared, and I don’t even have an appropriate song in my head. I should have planned this, but there is no plan.

I shake my head and jump. No more reason to pull off the inevitable. Goodbye, cruel world. I’m leaving you today…

30 meters

I can fly, and I am screaming in ecstasy. It’s better than I thought. I’m flying without wings. Whoohoo!! I wonder if I shut my door and turned off the music. Did I lock my car and feed the cat? I should have paid my rent yesterday. I forgot. Does it still matter?

25 meters

Did I call my friends and leave them notes? I didn’t. How will they remember me, and will they be sad? I know, I was rather complicated, but maybe they’ll realize that they miss me and that they loved me. I just hope that they don’t forget me. And I hope they will not talk bad about me. I should have been more approachable.

20 meters

I hope I don’t make a huge mess. Poor people standing there. Oh, but what if I hit one of them when I touch the ground? Will they die too? Will that make me a murderer. I don’t want to be a murderer. Please, move!

15 meters

I am hungry. I should have eaten before climbing up the stairs. Chocolate would be nice now. Or a burger. I will miss a couple of things. Pasta… mhmm…

10 meters

My braid came undone, and my hair covers my face. I am still flying. But I can’t see it.

5 meters

Wow, this is really happening!

4 meters

It’s too fast. It’ll be over soon.

3 meters

Is there life after death. I deserve a second chance.

2 meters

Please don’t let it hurt

1 meter

*****

My mind is twisted. I am not sure where the idea for this came from.

restless (a to z)

Restlessly prowling the streets; he was looking for something. Someone. He was looking for her. An orange glow cast an eerie light into the fog. Footsteps for miles, but she was not there. His eyes were searching. Left, behind a row of trees. Right, on a soccer field. His heart began racing; the humid smell of the grass to his left made him gave in to an urgency to run. He wanted to scream her name, but he didn’t dare. But he ran as fast as his feet would move. A gust of wind blew his cap off his head, but he kept running. Huffing and puffing. Trying to move forward. It was as if he was stuck. He heard the explosion behind him before he felt the blast. It threw him forward. His hands were cut on impact; the gravel left tiny wounds on his hands. He turned to see the fire. The fog in the distance was illuminated. His eyes stung. He had to find her before they did. He crawled on his hands and knees, wincing until he got his feet back underneath him. His lungs were burning, filled with fire. He smelled the demise of the village he has fled. A dog was barking. Curtains were left to fall in place. There was life behind these walls and doors and windows. Was there shelter too?

A bullet wheezed past his ear. “Halt!” A male voice commanded, but already another shot was fired.

He kept running. Until he couldn’t anymore. A sharp pain went right through his chest. Warmth spread around him; at the same time, it became cold. He was still restless, still out of breath. No matter how far and how fast he would run, he would never find her. He coughed and felt a sticky liquid on his hand.

Footsteps had caught up with him. “Fuck, he is one of ours.” He closed his eyes and tried shaking off the hands that were clawing at him. He needed to run. He blinked, trying to see. Light was blinding him, and he tried to shield his eyes from its brightness. A hand was reaching for him. “Take my hand, ” an angelic voice said. “Tired from running, ” he wanted to say, but there was no voice, and no air left.

“You don’t need to run anymore. You are safe, ” she said, and he took hold of the hand. He knew her. He had found her. No more running. Time for rest.

Adrian (improvised A to Z)

Adrian sat on the stairs in front of his house; a cigarette was dangling between his fingers. Ash was forming at the tip, glowing in the dark. He took a long drag and exhaled a cloud of smoke. He looked back into the empty house. No one was home. No ever was anymore. The situation got to him, isolation. Not so much the social distance, but the physical distance. In the distance, a dog barked, and Adrian looked up.

“I know, buddy. I know,” he sighed and flipped the butt of his cigarette away. Wiping his hands on his thighs, he got up with a grunt. Life was not waiting for anyone. Even less when most people were sitting in front of their screens, waiting for their daily distracting.

Adrian went to the kitchen, took a bottle of beer, and popped the cap with his lighter, and didn’t bother to pick it up. He set up his gear, took off his shirt, and exhaled through his mouth.

He pushed “start broadcast” and smiled. “Hi there… I am Adrian, and I am going to sing some songs for you.” He grabbed his guitar from the couch behind him and began his lifestream—the first one in April.

(My usual posts will continue…)

The Busker

Turning off the light switch, Johnny shoulders his guitar, puts on his woolen hat, and leaves his home. He lives above a café in a small apartment he rented from the owner. It shouldn’t be called an apartment because it is so tiny a shoebox would be a better description of his all-in-one living space. But it has a bed, a bathroom, and heating. It is not much, but it is all Johnny can afford. When he is behind with his rent, the owner of the building makes him work at the café, but that is okay, it pays nicely, and he is allowed to keep the tips for himself. Johnny locks the door, turning the keys twice, and puts them in his bag. It’s one of those large bags that you can sling over your head and onto the shoulder. This particular model allows him to carry around all sorts of things and to wear the straps of his soft guitar case on his shoulders. He would love to be able to afford a hard case, they look cool, but they are too expensive, and the soft case is more comfortable to carry around anyway.

It’s cold outside, and Johnny’s breath freezes mid-air when he exhaled. A look up into the sky makes him realize that there will be rain sometime during the day. The crowd will be sparse. People hurry from one store to the next when it rains. They don’t stop to stare or listen to random buskers playing their songs in the street. Johnny puts his scarf around his neck and pulls the zipper of his jacket up to his chin. He blows hot air into the palms of his hands to heat them. Somewhere in his bag are fingerless gloves, but he doesn’t want to wear them yet. One of these days, when he put enough money aside, he will buy a new jacket. One that will keep the cold out of his bones. Not that long ago, Johnny saw one at a second-hand store, with a little luck, it will still be there when he has the money for it. But for now, it has to wait, and he is content with the clothes on his body. Johnny glances at his watch. It is time to hurry up and stop dreaming.
In quick steps, he jogs for about fifteen minutes before he reaches the stairs to the underground. He takes them two at a time,  knowing exactly where to go. He knows which tube he needs to take and how to ride it without paying the fee. Of course, if he gets caught, he will have to deal with paying double or even triple. It happened once or twice before. For today, Johnny chooses not to think about it.
Johnny quickly finds a seat on the train and puts the guitar between his legs. Every day, he waits for the morning commuters to vacant the trains. As soon as they are at work, his customers emerge from everywhere, and it is them who help him pay his measly rent and keep food in his belly. Most people assume that he doesn’t have a schedule or plans when he wakes up in the morning. But he has. Johnny’s day is well organized. It is something he needs to feel safe and protected.

In his mind, Johnny repeats the songs he wants to sing today. He puts buds if his headphones in his ears and put play on his old and battered CD player. It has seen better days, that’s for sure, and the kids who see him with the old gadget never spare their pitying looks or condescending comments. He puts his favorite self-compiled CD in and hopes that his batteries aren’t too weak to play for the remainder of the train ride. Johnny composes a mental tracklist for his day. He will start with a couple of cover songs, those that make people stop and sway along and then, a couple of his own songs to sell maybe one or two copies of his home-recorded, unedited and raw album. That’s the plan. But things never go as planned. Johnny knows that all too well. The rain could ruin everything but, on the other hand, someone important might hear him and make him a star. He shakes his head at his own thoughts. Johnny is not a dreamer. In his life is no space for dreams anymore. And yet, he keeps fantasizing about a career in music. Rain or not, he will play.

Two more stations until his stop. Johnny watches a young mother making silly faces at her child. The child laughs out loud, and the mother kisses its head. Both seem happy, and their happiness fills the cart of the train. Observing the mother and daughter reminds him of his own child that he hasn’t seen in a while. He misses Penny, every day and he keeps a picture of her in his pocket. It is worn and faded, but it is his little princess. She should be five years old by now. He recalls the times when he took her with him to ‘work.’ She used to dance, and people stopped to watch the little, then three-year-old sing and dance along to her daddy’s tunes. Those were happy days. The carefree days are long gone now. Often times, Johnny feels as if he is existing, not living. His girlfriend – ex-girlfriend, has a new life, and she moved them to the suburbs. She has it all now. The car, the big house, the dog, she even has the fucking white picket fence and the model husband who works a regular desk job. Not to forget the conservative clothes and hairdo, too. She has everything they ever mocked when they were together, and the thirty-year-old musician has no justified reason to exist in her world anymore. She refuses to see him, and she refuses to let him see his child. She erased him from her past, and all that is left of them – his own family, are sad lyrics in songs no one has ever heard. He continues to watch the mother with her child, and for a tiny moment, he wishes that his life has turned out differently.
Where would he be now if he hadn’t dropped out of school at fifteen to pursue his dream of making it big as a musician? Where would he be now if he had looked for a ‘real’ job when his ex-girlfriend became pregnant? Where would he be now if they were still together?
The crackling voice coming from the speakers above his head announces the next stop, his stop. He gathers his bag and his guitar and gets up. As soon as the train stops, he leaves. He doesn’t look back at the woman and her child. It takes some effort, but he doesn’t turn his head. If he only had the chance, he could be an amazing dad for his little girl. He wonders if she even remembers him or if he turned into a faded memory mistaken for a dream once in a while.

Johnny takes the stairs two at a time again. At the top, he stops to take off his hat and rearrange his baggage. The streets are still empty, but it doesn’t bother him, not yet. He sees familiar faces and greets some of them, making small-talk. It’s good to have allies on the street. It’s not always as romantic as it may appear to be. He has his corner, and others have their corners too. As long as no one plays on the other’s territory, everything is easy, but overstep the invisible border, and you and (or) your instrument will suffer severe damage. Johnny prefers his world to be peaceful and stays out of as many brawls as possible. His corner is a good one, though. It’s close to a fountain, and in summer, when it is hot, people sit on the steps with an ice cream cone or cooling their feet in the water. In the colder months, it’s a bleak place, yet it is his, and it is across from a well-frequented coffee house. His back is turned toward an expensive boutique—the kind where one pair of jeans costs more than two months of his rent. The people going in and out are not the type of people to stop and listen to his strumming, but it’s okay. He is realistic enough to know that he can’t win them all. Unconsciously, it bugs him more than he will ever let on.

He sets up his little workspace and tunes his guitar. He opens his case for people to throw in some money and decorates it with his homemade CDs along with a sign that they are pay-what-you-want. Most people give a Euro or so, it’s nowhere near as much as they are worth, but it’s better than nothing, and Johnny is not the type of person to complain. He takes what he can get, but never demands more.

He clears his throat and starts to sing into the microphone. The first songs are always hard to sing. Every day he needs to find the courage and the voice to sing in the street for the passing people, and that from the top of his lungs. Three songs in and the first group of people stops. It looks like a class on a day trip. The young girls giggle. He knows it’s because he is handsome. And he has to admit that he likes to look good. Enough of his fellow buskers look like bums, and he sees how people look the other way when they see them; he wants to stand out with his good appearances. He takes care of his daily hygiene, and he doesn’t walk around in holey, grubby clothes. In his mind, success and looking good go hand in hand in the music industry, and he wants it more than anything else.

Johnny winks at one of the girls. That small acknowledging gesture always works, and she starts to rummage in her purse. Before he knows it, she put a 5 Euro bill in his case. He smiles. It’s a great start. The song stops, and he thanks the young girl. She blushes and asks for a particular cover. Johnny is happy to oblige. He isn’t able to take on every request because he doesn’t know every song, but he knows this one and starts singing about seeing fire inside of mountains. The girls clap, and because of them standing in a half-circle around him, more curious people stop to listen, and more money is thrown into his case. At one moment, he closes his eyes and almost forgets that he is only a street musician. Almost. He imagines standing on stance; professional equipment makes him sound better than ever. The spotlight heats his cold fingers. But as soon as the song is over, he is back in the cold reality too, watching as the crowd disperses. Another song finished, and this time, the girls buy one of his disks and ask him to sign it. Johnny has to laugh out loud, he has never signed a CD before, but the girls insist. He poses for pictures with them, and for the minutes they share with him, he feels like a rock star. One of the girls asks if she can share the video she took of him on her Facebook page or Instagram account. He agrees. Usually, those videos are shaky, and the sound quality is terrible anyway, but he is also aware that they put his name out there. They make a little small-talk about this and that, but the conversation dies down, and the situation becomes awkward. Johnny excuses himself to play some more songs, and the group of girls leaves. And while the city is fully awake now and the grey clouds moved on to reveal patches of blue sky, Johnny continues to play. The day announces itself to be a good one after all. He plays for money, yes, but he also plays for his tormented soul. To ease the pain, that threatens to drown him some days. He plays to fill the hearts of every listener with love and gratitude, and he plays because he is grateful too. Maybe one day, his heart will be filled with love again too, but Johnny is a cynic, and he doesn’t count on it.

After three hours of singing and playing, the tips of his fingers hurt, and his throat is as dry as the desert. It’s time to take a break. He sits on the steps of the fountain and looks at the busy crowd. He rummages in his bag to find something to eat, and when he looks up, he sees her face, and it feels as if time slows down. She vanishes into the forest of legs and bags. He jumps up to search for her in the crowd. Was it real? Is his mind playing tricks on him because of the mom and girl he saw on the train? People move in slow motion, but then her face appears again. Her hand is embedded in a larger one. Johnny’s gaze travels up the arm, and that face is familiar too. They come closer, and he straightens his clothes, runs his fingers through his hair to smooth it down, and, with a racing heart, he waits for their reaction.

To his surprise, she stops in front of him.

“Hi,” she says, looking down at the little girl he would recognize everywhere in the world.

“Hi,” he answers, rocking on his heels and burying his hands in his pockets, not to reach out and touch the child’s blonde locks.

“Remember Penny?” She asks. Of course, he does. How could he forget his child? He nods, and then he has an idea. He takes one of his CDs and scribbles something on the case. ‘For my dearest Penelope. You will always hold the biggest place in my heart.’ He hands it to the girl with a smile, and she looks up at her mother as if to ask permission to take the gift. He hasn’t much to offer and doesn’t have the money to buy her toys or anything. Instead, he gives her something that comes straight from his heart. The moments between Penny asking permission and her taking the gift stretches, and Johnny releases a shaky breath.

“So. You’re still playing then?” His ex nods at his worn guitar, and it makes him feel small, like a failure. She wears an expensive coat, and even her perfume smells expensive.

“Yes. Every day. Always here.” She looks at him with a longing expression on her face. Is that remembrance? Is she thinking of all the times she sat here with him? She looks down at his worn boots and up again. Her face has changed.

“Take care, Johnny.” She pulls at the girl’s hand, and they move on.

“Who was that man?” Penny asks, looking over her shoulder at him. He wants to yell, “I’m your dad,” but the girl’s mother is quicker with her answer.

“Nobody, honey. Just a busker.” Johnny turns away and grabs his guitar. His heart is heavy, and his voice hoarse. His eyes are moist, and his pride a little bruised, and he clings to the only thing that ever offers a hint of security to him. A hint of normalcy. His break wasn’t long enough, his fingers still hurt, but he starts to sing again. The physical hurt is not as bad as the hurt he feels inside. Until then, he only assumed that Penelope wouldn’t know him. The assumption became true. And the truth hurts. For the remainder of the day, he sings songs of lonely hearts and broken dreams. Passers throw some money in his case, and he wonders what they see when they look at him. His ex’s voice reverberates in his mind. “Nobody. Just a busker.”

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She was glowing from an unexpected bout of happiness, and for a brief moment, the world did not matter. At that moment, nothing mattered. Just the peace she felt within. Every interaction with him made her happy, and she wasn’t sure if he knew. He made her happy. Thinking about him made her grin. Browsing the pictures he sent on her phone made her heart race. Nothing was perfect about him, and it was those imperfections that she loved the most. He was not hiding, not holding back. He was real, raw – there. He was a unique man, and somehow he had found her. And she couldn’t imagine a life without him anymore. He made her feel safe and understood. He made her feel loved.

Their call had ended moments ago, and like a lovesick teenager, she sat on her bed, thinking about the way he made her comfortable, the way he made her laugh, the way he had succeeded in getting her out of her shell. She was a woman in her mid-thirties, she had a job, kids, a home, and yet, he made her feel young again. He reminded her of how it felt to be in love.

Some days, she was scared to be hurt, but that fear was meaningless compared to the fear of hurting him without intent. Her past had been hard here and there, but she was able to handle it most days. Did that make her strong? She preferred not to think about it, not since someone had called her weak in every aspect of her life. He had a past life too. He was damaged and bruised, sometimes even bleeding. There wasn’t anything she could change about it; she could only be there and hold him through the bad times. Both of them were broken, but somehow, together, they were whole again.

Next to her, her phone was ringing. It was him again, and the butterflies in her stomach spread their wings again. It was his second call in the same hour.

“Me again. I just forgot to say, I like you. A lot. I like you.”

Before she could reply, he had disconnected the call. And the smile on her face grew even wider. She shook her head. Had this really happened? She laughed out loud, a bubbly happy sound she couldn’t prevent from filling her empty room. She held her phone close to her heart and waited a moment before sending a text message to him.

She liked him too. A lot. She didn’t want to admit it out loud, but he was her last thought at night and her first in the morning. She missed him when he was not there and worried when he was not well. She broke out in internal happy dances when he sent texts or pictures, and with every call, every meaningless and every meaningful conversation, he got a little deeper under her skin.

With a deep worried breath, she realised that a piece of her heart belonged to him, and she had no idea how and when it had happened.

Welcome to Eternity (repost)

And so it began. Her reflection in the mirror faded with every time she dared to look. Her skin became grey, and her eyes had lost the living spark. Color was a distant memory she only vaguely remembered. Grief had taken over the moment he had passed on. She rubbed her face with bony, wrinkled hands, trying to find the person she once was. But she was gone. He had taken everything with him, and he had left her with an old and worn shell.
She shuffled to the bedroom and closed the windows. The evening breeze was crisp; winter was lurking around a corner. She shed the last pieces of her clothing and laid on the bed, folding her hands on her soft stomach. Then she closed her eyes and conveyed the images of him that she had stored away in her mind. They came and took her away. Away from the grey. Away from the grief. She felt her feet touch the ground, and her eyes sought out details to understand where she was. She was in a strange land where no age and no pain existed. A land between life and death. But she didn’t know that yet. Her vessel was still inhaling air to fill her lungs and making her heartbeat on.

She could hear his voice; Henry’s voice was teasing her, asking to come see him. But whenever she turned toward the direction of the sound, nothing was there. No one was there.

“Henry?” Her thin voice reverberated through the nothingness — the uncertainty spread inside her body. The soles of her naked feet felt a change in the surrounding before her mind was able to catch on. Where the ground had been of sand and gravel before, it was now cotton-like and soft. Walking became more like floating. A burst of familiar laughter made her walk on with a smile. She was where she wanted to be. For a moment, her chest had felt constricted, but it wasn’t anymore. Panic that had threatened to arise was pushed back down. She knew that she would be fine because he was near.

There was no way to describe what she saw around her. There were no shapes, and yet everything was of different shapes. There were no colors, and yet everything was so very colorful. There were no sounds, and yet, it wasn’t quiet either. Everything felt familiar and well-known. Almost intimate. Even the smell of the air reminded her of a place she had loved once upon a time.

“Henry?” she asked again. She felt the touch on her bare arm before she saw him.

“There you are, my love,” he replied and kissed her forehead. “I missed you, what took you so long?” She needed a moment to answer. She took his cheeks between her hands and exhaled sharply. “Henry, is this you? This can’t be you.” The man looked familiar, but he was young. So very young. Her Henry had been old and sick, marked by his age and everything he had seen in his lifetime. His hands covered hers. The heat of him seeped into her. His smile was contagious and familiar. “It is you,” she whispered, stepping back and bringing her hands to her lips. If this was Henry, what did it mean? How could it be? The blurry shapes and colors changed around her. She was on the farm she had grown up. The grass was green; the shade of green it has after a recent summer rain. The sky was blue and cloudless. The barn that had burned down and had killed livestock stood tall and was painted in red and white. Looking down, she realized that she was standing on a wooden porch. She was wearing a thin dress she had loved because of the flowers on it. She turned around. Everything was familiar. Young Henry sat in a rocking chair, looking at her.

“Did the other shoe finally drop?” he chuckled and reached his hand out to her. He was engulfed in light. The glow was so bright, she almost had to look away, but she couldn’t. She took his hand, and he pulled her toward him. “Oh, Henry,” she sniveled. “Are we…?” She didn’t finish her question.

“Yes, Vera, my love. Welcome to eternity.”

melting your clouds

Memories of us on my sheets. I wish you were here. I don’t want to wake up to reality. My eyes fight to open, and my brain refuses to activate itself. How can I survive the day when I am craving you? Where have you gone?

I sigh. There is no point in delaying the inevitable. I stretch my arms above my head, remembering how you held me down last night. I miss you already. My mind is still lingering on past days; I am not in the present yet. I shuffle to the bathroom to take a shower. It doesn’t even register that the water is running and why. My thoughts are whirling around my brain without making any sense. I push the curtain aside, and there you are. Naked as you came. You are not gone. You are here. With me. For me.

Water is cascading down your body. Strikingly handsome. I follow the rivers caressing your skin with hungry eyes, licking my lips. My gaze zooms in on your cock that is slowly filling. You smirk. I bite my lower lip, not thinking, just reacting to you. I push my shirt over my head, feeling the water splashing against my legs. You seize the moment when I cannot see and pull me inside the shower, my arm still tangled in the cotton cloth. My dry skin meets your wet skin. A moan escapes my throat as the air leaves my body. I drop my moist shirt on the floor. My panties get soaked. Your finger traces a drop of water down my breast. As the water keeps on running down, your finger stays there, teasing me. I look up and straight into your eyes. Your eyes get me every time. I am not sure why, but the lust in them, the feral desire, it affects me.

I am waiting for you to devour me, but I don’t have to be patient for long. You push me against the tiles, I giggle because I almost lose my footing, but you catch me with both hands on my ass. I raise my leg, and your hand glides down, supporting it. Your forehead touches mine.

The tension is crackling between us. Too much. I lick your nose, and you pull back with a deep husky chuckle. I follow you, as much as the confined space allows me. I touch your cock, and you growl. Memories take over. You know how to make me orgasm again and again — fingers, tongue, cock. You make me lose my mind.

Buried deep inside me, with our eyes locked, you pump in me. Fast, greedy, hard. I am not sure if it is water or sweat that is dripping off the tip of your nose, and it doesn’t matter. More. I want more.

The noise our bodies make, the low almost inaudible moans coming from your mouth, it is filling my mind. I grin, feeling how you are swelling inside of me. You nod, I moan. My head falls back, and you attack my neck. You are close. I can feel it. The tingling at the centre of my self is driving me mad. I can’t breathe. I can’t concentrate on you anymore. My hips are moving to meet yours. Out of control. Both of us are working towards release. My legs tremble, your lips find mine, assaulting me with an insatiable kiss. Your tongue dancing with mine, your hand pinching my nipple – hard, your cock – large inside of me. And then the world ends. I can’t move on my own. My sex is clenching involuntarily around you, and we are cumming together.

Out of breath, we collapse against each other. I giggle, you do too. I lower my leg and feel you slipping out of me. I am not ready to lose our connection and put my head on your chest, listening to your heart; is still racing as you tenderly kiss my head and smooth my hair.

Perfect start to the day. The mundane tasks of getting ready for work comfort me. I can’t resist bumping my hip against yours in the kitchen while you are preparing your daily smoothie. Everything about us is ordinary, yet, nothing is, because we are not. You are the moon that lights my stars. I am the sun melting your clouds.