ICU

Written in response to SundayPhotoFiction, a photographic prompt for two hundred words.  

ICU, D. Avery

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What she had read about writing was proving to be true. It was hard! But now, having dealt with every need and distraction, now she would finally write.

Except, now what? Another distraction.

Pesky fly. It would evade her half-hearted swats, then settle on the keyboard, always next to the alt button.

“I could write alternative facts”, she said to the fly. “Frankly”, she confided, “I have no idea what to write about.”

The fly flexed its front legs then turned toward the c and v keys.

C… V… V. is what she had always called her sister.

The fly hovered, then daintily primped itself on the 8 key. U…i; i…, u.

Suddenly that day, that phone call, that time in the ICU; that memory washed over her. The fly buzzed her again, again landed in front of c v. And then she remembered her sister before, remembered how even a pesky fly that others would swat and squash, V. would gently urge out of doors.

She saw the fly go out the window she hadn’t even realized was cracked open. Confident now at the keyboard, she knew what she’d write about.

“I c u V.”, she smiled. “Thanks.”

Extractions

Extractions, D. Avery

After straining the rust, he combined their gleanings. His children had become experts at extraction, at syphoning gas and oil from the abandoned and decaying automobiles. Their specialty was in finding smaller machines that others overlooked, lawnmowers, leaf-blowers. Today they found almost five gallons of gas, three of oil. It was good, but what was the current rate?

“I’ll be back.” His voice was husky and raw. Trading was dangerous. And necessary. His children watched him go.

He hoped for a good rate. The last time they were only giving a quart of water for each gallon of fuel.

 

Written for Carrot RanchApril 27, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes oil. It can be an oil refinery, the raw product or used as a commodity. How does oil fit into a plot or a genre? Go where the prompt leads.

Well Wishing

Six sentence story in response to this week’s prompt, cue word, “well” at https://unchartedblogdotorg.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/welcome-to-six-sentence-stories-45/ 

Well Wishing,   D. Avery

They were very pleased with the place, such a deal, it was all they had wished for, despite the rundown condition, despite the lack of power and water, toting drinking water in for now with a plan to maybe later dig out the old well.

They went down to the well and dropped a rock, then another and another, listening in vain for its landing in the dark below, hoping for a splash, but hearing nothing at all, not even the tunk of rock on dirt.

But later, when returning to the well for her forgotten sunglasses, she thought she heard a gurgling sound, and another dropped stone sounded a very clear splash, though very far down. When they checked the next day the water level was visible and they rigged a rope and bucket that they might draw water, planning on having it tested later for potability, but for this trip they were now motivated to start scrubbing and cleaning the long unused cabin.

Lying in their sleeping bags that night she remarked how strange the change in water level seemed, but he tiredly mumbled reassuring words about water tables and springs and how they simply didn’t hear the splash at first, and they both were soon asleep after a good day’s work.

They woke at dawn’s light, which shimmered on the water that was up over the hood of the car, and that now lapped over the top step and under the door of the cabin on the little rise of land overlooking the submerged well.

Homage

Homage,                   D. Avery

That immobile travel trailer under the trees is a sanctuary. It stands on columns of humble cinder blocks, the destination of a pilgrim. Inside it is luxurious. There’s an abundance of books, one comfortable bed, and small altars enshrined with shells and pebbles. Yet this trailer overlooks the actual temple.
IMG_0483While the red-capped stewards drum rhythms on riddled trees, juncos sanctify the space with their spring rituals, alighting on a rounded glacial erratic before continuing their northern pilgrimage.               This omphalos stone holds all the answers for the pilgrim, but there at the center, the questions have now drifted away.

Written in response to Carrot Ranch  flash fiction prompt: April 20, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a navel story. It can include a belly-button, feature an omphalos (geological or cultural), or extend to navel-gazing (used in meditation or to describe excessive self-contemplation). Go where this oddity leads you. Also at :
https://unchartedblogdotorg.wordpress.com/2017/04/19/welcome-to-six-sentence-stories-44/  

D. Avery’s Books

6x9_Front_EN newest final cover copySource: D. Avery’s Books

I revise way more than I write. That’s why I like Lulu Press for self-publishing. I can always go back to a project and make changes. And I very recently wrote (and revised) this poem that belongs in For the Girls, so I will add it to the book. Computers… amazing.

The original version of For the Girls came together last April as I was finishing radiation treatments alongside a neighbor and colleague (what are the odds?) and a year after losing a dear friend to breast cancer. Too many of us are too familiar with breast cancer so, unfortunately, this book of poems may resonate with you.

Aftermath

there’s the aftermath and the math that came before

the math beginning

at conception

studies in symmetry

cell division

beyond your perception

dividing dividing

doubling doubling

whole greater than the sum of its parts

that math was before

now you are older and there is more

increase of everything

increase of years

increase of knowledge of what you might fear

there’s simple math, the hardest math

simply counting

those we know diagnosed

more than two hands can handle

fractions and subtractions

impossible math of infinite cost

enumerating

those we have lost

and maybe you become

one that’s counted

diagnosed

now doing the math of probability

careful computation of likelihood

of outcomes

positive or negative

percentages and rates

varying possibilities

including remission

including recurrence

check the math

compute for assurance

the math meant to be descriptive

expressions of comparative measures

of stages and of grades

the math of measures

of counting time

of duration

days of radiation

rounds of chemo

years of expectation

calculating how long

weighing quantity and quality

this kind of math is wrong.

Alchemy

He acted like he had found gold, though it was just an old skidder wheel-rim.IMG_1147

“Whatever for?” she asked.

“For you”, he said. “I got you a ring.”

He set it in the clearing behind the house. He gathered wood. He brought seats. And they along with friends and family often ended up there, speaking easily around the crackling fire, into the night, gazing into the flames in communion, staring in their own silent reveries.

In daytime, empty and cold, it looked like what it was, an old rusty rim. But it was gold. She loved her fire ring.

The above was my response to the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge. April 13, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about a ring. Keep the definition to that of a piece of jewelry. Whose ring is it and what’s its significance? Go where the prompt leads.

Reciprocation

Do not forget Turtle who brought the earth up from the watery depths. Do not forget Tree, whose roots hold and cradle the earth, whose branches hold up Sky. These ones, Turtle, Water, Tree, Sky, are sacred.

Long ago these ones spoke together, and together thought to provide and to sustain; they thought us into existence that we might use their gifts.

Be humble. Our creations are mere imitations, expressing gratitude, expressing wonder. Be mindful. Give thanks to Turtle, to Water, to Sky, to Tree. We are their thoughts that receive their gifts, and they think us most sacred.

 

April 6, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about a creation myth. You can write your own, use one in a story or create tension (or comparability) between science and culture on the topic of creation. Go where the prompt leads.       

Here’s a different take on the prompt. I left this one off the Ranch. Just wrote it for fun and for the love of Castor canadensis. (In 99 words, no more, no less.)

Damned

Creation? Let’s give a dam.

One by Beaver and one by man.

Beaver creates ponds, meadows, healthy land features

Ecosystems for innumerable creatures.

Man makes dams that flood out his brothers

Providing power for the higher ground others.

Beavers’ land is terraced and holds water like a damp sponge

Man’s land dries up then down the rivers it tumbles and runs.

Beavers’ dams are subject to their own engineering revisions

Man’s dams are a permanent domineering decision.

So if a life’s work is a true veneration

Shouldn’t it sustain subsequent generations?

Beavers show more reverence through their creations.

 

Feedings

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By D. Avery

There were entertainments, of course, at the arenas. Relentlessly the Trump Youth rooted out books and paintings that still polluted many of the buildings. These fueled their great bonfires after the Feedings. Artists were kept on hand in miserable cells until a show at the arena where the large animals from the forsaken zoos would finally get to satisfy their hunger. The writers were the first to go. Not just the journalists, but all writers, even poets and songwriters.

All eyes were on the pouncing tiger. Only the poet saw the single ashy page fluttering aloft on the wind.

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Keys

In 99 words (no more, no less) write a hello or a goodbye. You can pick any greeting that grabs you from howdy to fare thee well. It will be interesting to see how the collection intertwines the opposite greetings. Go where the prompt leads you.

This is my response to the March 30th Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction challenge; it is the latest episode in the series that started with the March 16th flash challenge, Gone Art.

Keys, by D. Avery

“Hello again.”

The artist had stopped his work when Marlie approached. He was shirtless, little droplets of blood magnifying the added details of his phoenix, the blood tipped shard of stone in his hand.

“What are you doing?”

“I think you know. What are you doing down here again?”

“The lieutenant feels the animals are too dangerous, so he let me guard the artists and writers instead.”

The artist smiled. “But we are a danger to society. Aren’t you afraid? Of me?”

“You’re to be in the arena tonight.”

“I know.”

Marlie unlocked the cell.

“Good-bye.”

“Come with me.”

A Series of Flash Fiction

The following 99 word pieces of fiction are the results of responding to  in FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE on Without Art MARCH 23, 2017    &  MARCH 30: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE

Feedings, by D. Avery

There were entertainments, of course, at the arenas. Relentlessly the Trump Youth rooted out books and paintings that still polluted many of the buildings. These fueled their great bonfires after the Feedings. Artists were kept on hand in miserable cells until a show at the arena where the large animals from the forsaken zoos would finally get to satisfy their hunger.

The writers were the first to go. Not just the journalists, but all writers, even poets and songwriters.

All eyes were on the pouncing tiger. Only the poet saw the single ashy page fluttering aloft on the wind.

Escape, by D. Avery

Sprawling from the impact of the tiger, the poet grasped at more loose pages from a half burned book of poetry among the bone littered ash. The tiger nudged and pawed her. The bloodthirsty spectators thundered with taunts for the poet to get up and fight. Knowing that fighting for her own life was futile, the poet would fight for theirs. Even as the half starved tiger ripped into her flesh, delighting the crowd, the poet stirred and clawed at the ashes, releasing ninety-nine ragged edged poems unto uncertain winds that carried them over the walls of the arena.

Opening, by D. Avery

The artist had witnessed many fires, many Feedings. Peering through the crack between two stones, he watched the poet stride purposely to where just the night before there had been a tremendous blaze of paintings, books, and the remnants of bodies.

Then came the tiger.

He had seen many struggle desperately for their lives, but this poet was much stronger. She conjured hope to rise up from the ashes.

He would go out in a blaze too. He prepared for his exhibition. Finding a small sharp rock, he began an outline of a phoenix on his chest and torso.

 

 Detail, by D. Avery

“Did you enjoy the Feeding?”

Marlie straightened, startled. “Yessir.”

“Disappointing, the lack of fight in that cowardly poet.”

“Oh, yessir, very. Disappointing.”

“Well, Marlie, you’ve got cleanup detail tonight.”

The officers weren’t supposed to call Youths by their first names.

“I should patrol outside the arena as well. Wind took some litter from the stands.”

“Very well.”

Hoping the lieutenant hadn’t noticed her anxiousness, Marlie began methodically clearing the bleachers of dropped napkins and cups.

She worked her way out around the gate, gathering litter, steadily edging her way towards a singed piece of paper lodged against a bush.

 

Recitation, by D. Avery

Beneath the bleachers, Marlie furtively looked at the paper. Clumsily she sounded out, “Die Ged-an-ken sind fre-i…”

“Die Gedanken sind frei. It’s German.

Thoughts are free, who can guess them?

They fly by like nocturnal shadows

No man can know them, no hunter can shoot them

with powder and lead: Thoughts are free!

 And if I am thrown into the darkest dungeon,

all these are futile works,

because my thoughts tear all gates

and walls apart: Thoughts are free!

“It’s so beautiful.”

“Yes, it is”, agreed the artist.

“What’s this?” The lieutenant tore the paper from Marlie’s hand.

 

Gifts, by D. Avery

“It’s mine”, said the artist. “This Youth took it from me.”

The lieutenant looked from one to the other.

“Yessir”, said Marlie. “I heard this one reading and confiscated his poem.” She wondered that the officer did not hear her heart pounding. “I was about to burn it.”

The lieutenant looked relieved. “Yes, we should burn it. And this pathetic artist here will be the next Feeding.”

The lieutenant watched the flaming paper curl into smoke. “Ha! Your precious poem is gone.”

Marlie noticed the artist’s blood etched shirt. They exchanged cautious, knowing smiles.

Never gone.

Thoughts are free.

 

Lion’s Den, by D. Avery

“It was good work, Marlie, but you aren’t supposed to be down here.”

“And you should not call me by my first name. Sir.”

The lieutenant stammered and blushed.

“Sir, I was wondering. I would really like to work with the cats.”

“It’s dangerous, Mar- It’s dangerous… usually done by older, male Youth.

“How I’d love letting lions into the arena.”

“I’d worry about you…” The lieutenant’s soft eyes never left Marlie’s face. “I’ll see what I can do. I’ll have to get you a set of keys, get you trained with the gates…”

“I would be so happy.”

 

Keys, by D. Avery

“Hello again.”

The artist had stopped his work when Marlie approached. He was shirtless, little droplets of blood magnifying the added details of his phoenix, the blood tipped shard of stone in his hand.

“What are you doing?”

“I think you know. What are you doing down here again?”

“The lieutenant feels the animals are too dangerous, so he let me guard the artists and writers instead.”

The artist smiled. “But we are a danger to society. Aren’t you afraid? Of me?”

“You’re to be in the arena tonight.”

“I know.”

Marlie unlocked the cell. “Good-bye.”

“Come with me.”

 

Released, by D. Avery

“Okay.” Marlie didn’t hesitate. “Come, this way.” Before leading the artist away down the opposite corridor, she sent the key clattering against the bars of a cell. “There’s a back way out.”

They squeezed through a narrow passage and waited. They would still need to go through a small opening and then out past the gate where a growing throng was filing in to see the Feeding. Suddenly there was chaos. People were screaming, turning and pushing back desperately through the crowd. Gunshots sounded from the bleachers. The big cats had been released from their pens.

“Let’s go. Now!”

 

Swept, by D. Avery

They easily got absorbed by the crowd, which swept them out into the parking lot. They kept moving, breaking away from the crowd as they got to the fringes of the lot. They looked quickly about before climbing the fence and scrambling into the bordering scrubby woods. Here they finally stopped to catch their breath.

“The key… I didn’t think they’d let the cats out!”

“I told you artists were a dangerous type.”

“Well thank goodness for the distraction.”

“I’m Adam, by the way.”

“Marlie.”

“Where we going, Marlie?”

“The last Feeding… those pages…”

“We’ll follow the wind then.”

 

Lingering   

Lingering day gilded the trees.

And shall it be said that my eve was in truth my dawn?”

“More”, entreated Marlie.

“So, you like Gibran.” The artist continued. “Long were the days of pain I have spent within its walls, and long were the nights of aloneness; and who can depart from his pain and his aloneness without regret?… It is not a garment I cast off this day, but a skin that I tear off with my own hands. Nor is it a thought I leave behind me, but a heart made sweet with hunger and with thirst.”

(to be clear:  the italicized words are from Kahlil Gibran‘s The Prophet)