TL Boehm - Writer

Written in my heart

Love Is....CONTENT WARNING

Talia stretched her nude frame fully, tossing her dirt caked hands above her head and extending her toes like a ballerina en pointe. She breathed deeply, pressing her spine flat against the damp earth. HIs pungent signature still lingered in her mouth and she pursed her lips together, licking them slowly to savor the taste. I am not alone. You are always within me. Talia rolled on one side, positioning herself closer to the remnants of the evening fire. She caressed the pile of still warm ash gently with an outstretched palm, locking onto a sharp protrusion of charred bone. Picking it up, Talia rose and followed a worn path down to a small stream just a few feet way from where she slept. Taking the bone she dug bits of grime from under her nails, then rubbed her hands in the cool water repeatedly. She continued this process until her entire body was pristine and her skin glistened in the morning light like a loaf of buttered bread. Placing the bone implement behind one ear, Talia cupped her hands, filling them with creek water. She then returned to the fire pit, letting the water leak from her fingers and pool in the cooling ashes. Talia knelt by the ash stirring the mixture to a black paste. Flipping her damp sable hair over one shoulder Talia exposed the flesh just above her left breast. Taking the bone in her right hand, she coated the end in ash and placed the tip on against her flesh. Picking up a rock with her left hand Talia pounded the end of the bone implement until her dark blood started to well up on her breast. She continued for the next few hours until her tender chest was welted and coated with ash and blood. Wiping the smears away with her hair, Talia examined her work. Her diligent tattoing revealed the words...Love is...Talia smiled. And now my love, there is nothing left of you but this ash and bits of bone. I have tasted your flesh. Consumed every bit of you for you always belonged to me. And now I will carry the ashes of you next to my heart and the words you spoke to me the last time we touched before the light left your eyes. Oh Talia....love is. 
TL Boehm

04/11/13

Short Fiction

Random collected short stories, embellished family life vignettes and silliness.

Perfection: Mesa Verde 

 

o I'm 46 years old and mostly inert, hauling my bulk down this series of tarred switchbacks designed to make the hike less stressful on a body. As if walruses were ever capable of a two mile sojourn at ten thousand feet above their watery world. The path is well traveled this afternoon. I exchange pleasant nods between gasps for air with family groups and couples all the while telling myself - as far as you travel downward, you will return upward. I stop for a moment under the shade of jutting sandstone and scrappy pinon while a mother flanked by three small children gives a nature lesson on a crawling caterpillar. Two mezmerized girls recoil as thier younger sibling dispatches the furry creature with a well placed stomp. 
"Oh my God. You are so getting a time out." 
I took a long swallow of bottled water to stop the giggles as I continued down the trail that soon widened out at the base of the ruins. The sloping cliff side echoed with the quiet conversations of tourists. Forest green clad rangers stood sentinel in strategic spots along the ruins - chasing the more adventurous from the "no visitors beyond this point" and "please stay off the walls' signs. A steady stream of people popped in and out of one of the working kivas and I found that familiar ache rising from within. That cry for solace amongst the chattering humanity. The drone of life oblivious to the pain and joy of people thousands of years gone. Standing where we pose for pictures...I took a breath and turned away from Spruce House...and there it was. That place where earth and air and spirit meet. The sloping cuesta melted soft and verdant into the tourmaline horizon. Two ravens danced on thermals overhead, pinioned wings gliding a breath away from each other. The air itself was cool and clean and laced with spruce and yucca flower. I ran my hand along the weathered stones at my back and sent a single word prayer skyward.....perfection.....06/11/11
 
 

 

Chiaroscuro Silouette

 

The ebbing sunset slipped through dusty curtains, spilling its saffron glow on floors of well worn wood plank. She stood silent for a moment, a chiaroscuro silohuette in the failing light, cigarette smoke curling in lazy circles above her head.

"Skoal" She spoke, bringing the chipped shot glass to her lips. 
Gawd, what the hell is in here? Butane?"

"Mescal. Down it! It'll put hairs on your chest."

"Yeah. I'm stoked for chest fur." She gulped the shot then smacked the glass down on the table upside down, trapping a largish fly under by the leg under the lip of the glass. "BIngo, you bastard. Been after your buzzin' ass all day."

"Nice, Cassie. Nice. And with the good crystal even." Setting my own shot down, I reached over Cassies shoulder and jiggled the glass gently in an attempt to loose the leg of her winged captive. The air around her was alive with the soft scent of magnolia and honeysuckle. Taking a deep breath, I thumped her on her back with the flat of my free hand. "Beast!"

"Oh yes, I'm Doctor Evil. This from the chick who pulls flies wings off, throws their carcasses out on the water and watches 'em circle and buzz till they drown. 'Sides. I caught him for you. Thought you'd like an appetizer with your paint thinner here."  Cassie waved a manicured hand at the half empty bottle of Mexican Liqour. "You know. One good buzz deserves another."

"Right. I'm thinkin' catfish kibble."

"Oh yes. I want to see you bait a hook with 'im." Cass jiggled the shot glass and smiled as the fly buzzed, bouncing off the sides of its clear prison.

"You ain't right." I poured another shot and swirled the liquid, its smoky aroma causing saliva to form under my tongue. "Glass or bottle." I nodded my head in the direction of the tequila and Cass responded by grabbing her throat and making choking noises.

"Dude. I need something a little more tame. Where's the Busch? I need beer."

"Busch is not beer. Busch is Amarillo horse pee in a can."

"Butane for you, Pee for me." Cass looped the empty ring of a half gone six pack over her finger and padded toward the kitchen door. "Cmon? You drunk enough to do this without bawling like a baby? Grab your liquid courage there. I got the box, and the beer" Cass tucked a small box under her arm and backed out of the door.

The path to the rivers edge was moist and slimy underfoot as we wound our way down the gentle slope to a sandy spot where the mossy water was shallow and bathwater warm. Cass set the beer and the box down, bending over to roll up the edges of her frayed denim jeans. She picked the box up and waded into the quiet water, motioning for me to follow.

"Come on. It won't hurt."

"That's bullshit." I sloshed in after her still gripping my bottle of mescal.

"Ok. It will hurt. It will hurt like Hell. But you're gonna do it because you're Xena. Warrior Princess.." Cass blinked rapidly as tears coursed down her freckled cheeks. She swallwoed hard, then flashed a cheesy smile and punched me hard in my arm."Do a flip. Do it."

"Shut up. Let's just dump it and go."

"Oh my God. No. Look. Gimme the damn bottle" Cass wrenched the bottle from my hands and placed it between her legs, gripping it with her thighs.

"I'm gonna laugh my ass off if you fall over, you idiot."

"Wanna shot?" Cass swayed back and forth in the water, sending cool wavelets splashing against my legs. "Here just close your eyes. You gotta trust me. I said I'd help you. You weanie. Now close your eyes and put your hands out."

I did as instructed, shivering a little as a breeze wafted up from the center of the river. I felt the contents of the box as it poured out in my cupped hands...warm and dusty.

"Now just let him go..." Cass whispered.  

"Bye daddy. I miss you so much." I let the ashes of my father slip away, swirling in the current as the last light left the sky....

______

And there you have it....bad fiction.

 

In my Dreams - working title

Stayed home from church today because I only had about four hours of sleep in between horking up a lung and releasing snot from my nostrils all over my pillow. I've gone through three rolls of TP in two days. (it was TP or paper towels....which would you pick? Oh yeah, your spouse would bring you aloe infused kleenex and progresso chicken soup. SURE!) I managed to spend about forty minutes tapping out the piffle I'll share with you in a sec before the spawn called from his camping trip, sweaty, smelly and desirous of transportation back to Casa De Hovel...oh and of course whilst I am out galavanting - certainly I can fill the carriage with gas and pick up the sandwiches I left at work on Friday, shan't I? So I return to the relative cool of my home after honey do's only to find that the miserable excuse for feline companionship my husband adores has once again shat on my freshly washed couch...she's outside...I'm considering a beer...

Anyway. The whole writing thing has me flummoxed and crabby. The Tam loves words. Somebody I admired compared me to Plath - when I was young and few responsibilities and lots of time to fritter away filling notebooks with drivel. I'm sure she meant well, but I took those words to heart. I wanted to write soul scourging prose and poetry. If not that, then I wanted to scare the crap out of my readers. Truth is, I'm not very scary - unless you see me without makeup..sigh. So whats left? Mame said something about humor yesterday. I'm really not a funny girl (Oh my bovines! I'm an accountant by trade...I traded my personality for the ability to run a macro spreadsheet. I don't do humor)

And so I sat here and let something spill onto the page. It's an embellished mongrel of a piece. I let the banshee and the tissue paper winged girl throw blows - its a mess. But its sunday and no one reads blogs on Sunday anyway:

The windshield wipers lamented, their plaintive cadence birthed a dirge in Mara’s weary heart. She coasted the citrine Jaguar down the winding drive where her haven waited. Letting the car idle, Mara allowed herself a moment to close her heavy lidded eyes. Even Spartans were given rest from the battlefield. The emotional carnage of the past few months seeped into Mara’s soul, leaving her morose, cold. Tears were the weapons of the weak. The dreams of corporate nirvana were for crushing, like skulls on a battlefield. Mara felt her hands loosen their death grip on the wheel. Perhaps the rain would wash the virtual dirt away, leaving her unsullied amongst the wreckage. A beacon. A light house. Yes…

A sickening thud startled Mara from her daydream. Horrified, she screamed and threw the lizard green Taurus into reverse as her son slid from the hood to the ground in slow motion.

“Oh My God! Alex!” Panick stricken, Mara wrenched the keys from the ignition, accidentlely pushing the locking mechanism on the key fob. She screamed, throwing herself against the locked car door. “Oh God, please, let me out!” Still clutching her keys she slammed her fist against the car window simultaneously pressing the unlock button. Launching her fortyish, flaccid frame from the vehicle, Mara faceplanted on the gravel driveway, her cheap wedge heel still tangled in the seat belt. “Dammit!” Mara struggled to her feet and slammed the car door viciously, catching her blouse in the door. With an ominous tearing sound, Mara suddenly found herself half naked, hysterical, and mudsoaked in her front yard.

“Ok, what the Hell are you guys doing out here?” A grizzle bearded, lanky man clad in white knee socks, plaid shorts and a random Christian graphic T shirt loped the short distance from the front porch to Mara’s side. “Alex.Get up offa the ground, ya retard.”

“Oh God! Steven! I think I killed our boy!” Mara threw herself against her husband’s chest, sobbing.”

“What? Alex. What did I tell you about teasing your mother.”

Alex rolled over from his prone position in front of the car, face twisted in a paroxysm of laughter. “Oh, I can’t breathe!” He clutched his stomach as he rolled up to a kneeling position. “Mom! You shoulda seen your face, Dad. It was awesome. I jumped on the hood and Mom looked like she’d peed herself!”

“You jumped on my car?” Mara shot a withering look at her teenager who now towered over her, wiping tears of mirth and dirt from his face. “You suck, Alex! And you!” Mara thumped her husband on the chest. “You wanted a boy! You FIX him!” Wiping her hands off on what was left of her blouse, Mara put her hands up in front of her in a “stop” signal. “I hate you both. Alex, you’re just lucky the hood is already toast because if you had dented it I would have ripped your head off and thrown it over the neighbor’s fence.”

“Oh, Mom. You’re so cute when you’re angry” Alex clapped a beefy paw over his mother’s head.   

 

Real life - fiction short and a long blog

Tana stumbled bleary eyed into the tiny bathroom, dropping her faded floral nightshirt to the ground. She stepped carefully through the aggregate pile of discarded tshirts and towels. So soaked with sweat and mildew, the wafting aroma threatened strangle a dry heave from her as she slipped into the shower. She pulled the torn curtain closed and studied the myriad patches of black mold blooming along the bottom of its ragged edges. She placed her hand on the calcium encrusted water spigot and breathed a long sigh as tepid water enveloped her tired frame. A moment of solace. Maybe I should shave. She picked up a pink razor from its resting spot amongst a collection of half full bottles of cheap soaps and hair products. Maybe not. She ran her finger along the surface of the rusty blades to remove the coarse collection of male facial stubble, then set the razor back in its usual place. Tana finished her morning ablution quickly and reached for the only towel still hanging on the towel rack. She snorted as that familiar scent of sweat and mold reached her nostrils. What power I own, the only human able to understand the complexities of a washing machine.

Her morning ritual complete, Tana walked the few steps to the small kitchen and pushed open the rickety louver door. A bedraggled green parrot croaked a morning welcome to her as she flipped on the light switch. Rough night, Bernadette? The bird ruffled its feathers and began to preen. Tana grabbed a flyswatter from the cabinet and began methodically swatting tiny moths that peppered the ceiling of the kitchen. At her feet a small gray cat coiled itself around her ankles.

“Some frickin’ mouser you are. Worthless feline.” Tana gave the cat a gentle nudge with her toe. The cat gazed up at her as it dropped a small rodent at her feet. “Nice.” Tana bent down and gave the cat’s tail a pull as the mouse bolted toward the drier. The cat mewed and stared up at Tana again. Furry retard. She gave the cat another push with her foot and picked up a frayed rag from the counter. In the small sink, the prior day’s dirty dishes bristled with caked remnants of unidentifiable food. Tana coated the mess with liquid soap and squirted the disgusting tableware with hot water. As small bubbles popped and swirled around her face, she allowed herself a moment to think.

I never chose this reality, did I? Her father’s image swam before her eyes. On the edge of his leather chair, surrounded by comfort and beautiful things, he struggled for that which he was gradually losing….the simple ability to breathe. He bit down on two plastic tubes as his hands purpled from lack of oxygen. Tana squeezed her eyes shut, dismissing the image from her mind. I’m going to lose him. This is my reality. With a soapy hand, Tana removed her smudged glasses from her face and tossed them to the counter. Grabbing a faded towel from the rack, she held the dishtowel up to her mouth to stifle the sobs she could no longer contain. She indulged fully in the only luxury she could still afford, and let herself cry.

I don't know what you may think of the above story, certainly I hope a few of you will leave a comment - many of you are aware or have learned over the past two years that if I am anything - I am a writer. This little blog site called Y360 that started from one person extending a hand of friendship - blossomed into something wonderful - then exploded into perhaps more than I ever should have tried to handle. At one time I had 300 friends - and was deemed "interesting." I knew tho' it was a transient moment - and now - perhaps the whole blogtopia is but a blip on the virtual radar.

As rumors swirl this morning regarding mash or mosh or the latest incarnation of a social network - it registers in my lizard brain that 360 no longer seems to care about this bastard child of its own creation. Leaving me to rot on the has been pages of last years interesting rabble. Staying static with design options while smaller maverick sites allow users the freedom to decorate - post music - pictures and other information at will. Mindlessly feeding the myspacers and kiddies that once were prevented from setting up pages on this - once adult or at least over 18 sanctuary...and now its a run for the pit as the latest POP moment leaves those of us who are truly serious blogging (or perhaps just conscious enough to understand who and what we are) wiping another clod of excrement from our ragged faces as the exodus of blogpeeps recedes in the electronic afterglow.

So let me put it as gently as I can before the beer is cold enough to drink and I am able to drown the muse in hops and barley - IF you actually READ the story above....it is no fiction. It is my life. My yesterday, my today - and my inevitable. It is more than enough trauma, drama and discomfort. I don't need more of the same in the virtual world. I seek connection. I seek friendship. I seek to bless, and sometimes yes, I seek to remind you of your humanity - even if it makes you cry. I seek to remind you of what matters.

So yahell can banish the blogger to the ranks of nameless faceless socializers if it deems necessary. Or it can keep its aggregate collection of gemstones here - perhaps even putting some polish on those wonderful writers, poets, visionaries and sharers of real ideas and knowledge at 360. It is not and never was under my control. I am here to write. And for those of you whom I have connected to - without dropping names, I am here for you. But the clock is ticking, change is inevitable - and even I with my lame offerings of crap infused poetry and monochromatic prose - I have plan b. I am here by choice, just like the rest of you....and blogs, like dreams....disappear.  

Fractured

“Make sure you take care of the old lady in 310. She was seriously off her nut yesterday.”

 

“Miss Boehm? She’s a sweetie.”

 

“Sure, you didn’t see her up on her bed, swinging Mrs Larson’s cane around and shouting ‘En garde. You steala my meatballa!’”

 

“No way.”

 

“Way, and she had her shawl wrapped around her like a cloak. I guess she thought she was a Musketeer.”

 

“Well that’s better than old lady Larson. That old hag bit me yesterday. If she does it again I'm gonna hide her damn dentures.”

 

"Be nice. She's clueless, remember. Just smile and give her her meds, and put ice on your arm. How much longer could she possibly have?"

 

"Enough to take out a chunk of flesh."

 

They’re talking about me again. Every morning I wake up and I find myself in this strange place with white walls and white tile floors. It smells like rubbing alcohol and death. And the old woman across the room snores and drools, crying out and moaning in her sleep.

 

“Mrs. Boehm. Rise and shine. You’re going to have some company today.”

 

“Is Buffi here?”

 

“No honey. Your kids are coming. Eric and Fred. Now how do you want me to fix your hair?”

 

“Can I wear it in a pony tail again?”

 

“Sure. Red or blue bow?”

 

“Blue.”

 

I don’t have any kids. I don’t know what she is talking about. I just want to go home. Everyone here is old and crusty and crazy. Its wearing off on me. I look in the mirror and there’s this old troll looking back at me, all wrinkly like a white raisin. I don’t know who she is but she scares me. This woman who combs my hair, at least she doesn’t pull it like mom used to. I don’t know why my mom put me in here. She never loved me but I never thought she’d give me up.

 

“Ok, there, now aren’t you pretty?”

 

“Thank you.” I don’t know who they think they’re fooling. My hair is reddish brown, not this stringy white stuff with the bald spot in the back. Maybe they dye it when I’m sleeping.

 

“So are you excited about Fred and Eric coming?”

 

“Yes, I am.” I’ve learned to answer them with yes and no or they give me pills that make me sleep. Maybe I’m sleeping now and this is just a dream. I wish I could wake up. I just want to see my boys again. Fred will be a senior next year. I don’t know who the big bearded guy with the holes in his ears is that comes to see me but my Fred is only 16 and Eric is 12. God I miss my boys and David. I miss David so much. I wish he’d come see me but they just smile and pat my arm and tell me he’s in a better place. How could he leave me here with Mrs. Larson who smells like fish and pee?

 

“Hey, mom. How are you?”

 

“I’m fine. Have you met Mrs. Larson? She snores a lot.”

 

“Yes, I brought you something from Buffi. It’s a picture of her great grandkids.”

 

“Buffi?” There’s my BEST friend. I don’t know who the old woman is but that little girl with the green eyes in her lap, that’s Buffi. Tomorrow we’re going to climb the tree in the back yard and look for Cardinal Richeleau and stab him in the heart. “Thank you, young man. And who is this fine looking man with you?”

 

“This is Eric.”

 

“Eric, oh yes. I remember. Are you drawing?”

 

“Mom. I have my own graphic design company? Both of my boys, they work for me in production and technology research? Do you remember?”

 

“Why, yes. Eric. Eric. I love you. I always knew you’d be so successful.”

 

“I love you too, Mom.”

 

I know this boy. I do. My Eric. But why does he look older than me?

 

“I think she actually remembers you, Rico.”

 

“Well of course, Fred. I’m the favorite.”

 

I don’t know why Eric is crying. He never trusted me. I love him so much. I have another boy. What’s his name again? Where the hell am I anyway. Wait. I have to find my sword.

- The above story was inspired by my own Grandmother's battle with the monster that is Alzheimer's....peace.

TL Boehm

©2008

Love it Back to Life

 "Tell me again how it was, Mom." Sasha crouched in the middle of the street, dirty hands tucked under her armpits as she shivered in the frigid air. Her matted brown hair hung in limp tendrils around her face. "Before the fall?" The little girl's voice on the silent streets was like a serenade of moments remembered only when furtive sleep allowed them escape from the chaos their world had become.

"I'm not sure I can remember." Hot tears cascaded down Giselle's face as she knelt beside her freezing child. "My mind tends only to focus on finding us food, and shelter from the cold nights. All the less lucrative thoughts are pushed out by the things we do to survive."

"Come on. One more time, please?" The little girls eyes glowed like two jade moons as she stared off into the distance.

And so it starts my precious child. The wild animal in your eyes wants out and when the madness comes....I will lose you, and your innocence...

"Honey, don't look at them anymore. We can't bring them back. I'll tell you again if you promise only to look at me." Giselle grabbed her daughter's gaunt face in her own icy hands, breaking child's eyes from their locked stare. She closed her own wildflower blue eyes for a moment, trying to shut out the horror of the dozens of white sheets that littered the street and sidewalks. Friends and strangers covered where they lay, mute reminders of lives lost. She was running out of sheets, and out of time.

"I know, but sometimes the wind blows and the sheets move and I think, well I think somebody might still be alive.I believe they could be just sleeping." Sasha's thin voice bounced back at the two from the cement walls of the abandoned building they used to call home.

"Somebody is alive. You and I are alive. We can't bring them back, honey. But I won't let the abyss have you. Here, put this on." Giselle removed a ragged jacket from her shoulders. Tucking it around her little girl, she stopped for a moment and held her daughter fiercely against her. She allowed the tears to fall again as she felt her daughters small arms wrap around her neck. Like opium, her daughter's embrace enveloped her senses, and for a moment she felt the rush of life through her veins and her soul.

"Just tell me again, Mommy about something beautiful." Sasha pulled away suddenly. She stuck her hands in the pockets of the old jacket and extracted a withered chrysanthemum. "Tell me the color this flower was. It can't remember, so you have to do it." Sasha's eyes glowed in the twilight and she smiled, her breath coming in short, shallow gasps. "Please. Before time goes away." Her daughter's plaintive demand echoed in her ears.

"Ok baby." Giselle closed her eyes.

Please, God. I can't do this. I can't watch my baby die....not like all the others. "It was crimson. Vivid crimson."

"Like blood." Sasha whispered.

"Yes, like blood. Like that red lipstick I used to wear. You know the lipstick that your daddy said seduced him into marrying me." Giselle squeezed her eyes shut tighter.

"And the leaves." Sasha's breath was warm against her mother's cheek. "Tell me about the leaves."

"Honey, they were green like your eyes, and they smelled like summer playgrounds, Oh Sasha!" Giselle grabbed her daughter and squeezed her hard "Don't leave me! I love you."

"I know, but you're crushing my flower." Sasha squirmed away from her mother's grip. "Look."

"Honey, its not a flower anymore. Its just a memory of something that was alive."

"Yes, it is a flower."

Giselle looked down at the chrysanthemum that rested in her daughter's hands. Blood red petals burst from a slender green stem, and Giselle could smell the scent of summer welling up from the bloom.

"Honey! Where did you get that flower?"

"From your pocket, mom."

"But that flower was dead."

"I know. But now it isn't. I wanted to give you something, Mom. So I loved this flower back to life." Sasha's eyes sparkled and her cheeks glowed as she smiled at her mother. "We can love it all back to life."

Giselle felt her daughter's body grow warm as she held her tightly, her daughters voice repeating over and over "we can love it all back to life".
 

TL Boehm 020808  

Marooned - Pandora Flight 24/7

I’d spent the bulk of my conscious life consumed by the gnaw of this inescapable moment. So obsessed I was, I had played out the graphic scenarios in high definition detail worthy of a CSI script, complete with full color and visceral sound effects. A miscalculation on a slick, predawn commute, caused her vehicle to flip end over end across the median as her son’s scrambled eggs coated the windshield like sticky confetti. A sudden burning sensation in her hand as she reached into the recesses of the pantry, caused her to recoil. She saw the bulbous black hindquarters of the spider scurrying away from her throbbing digits as the widow’s toxins coursed through her body. But never in my wildest moments of neurosis or psychosis or rabid, sweat soaked sleeplessness did I ever entertain the raw terror unfolding before me. Hurtling earthward at 600 miles an hour, I grasped frantically for something, anything to remind me of the meaning of my life but all that coursed through my adrenalin soaked brain was a few lines from a forgettable Alanis Morrisette number: “As the plane crashed down he thought…well isn’t this nice?”

Plucked from the deck of a sinking cruise ship only to succumb when the rescue helicopter propeller clipped the disabled luxury liner’s pitching deck, a woman’s body was found floating in the flotsam….

Seconds later I opened my eyes, expecting to see either God with His hands on his Mighty hips, or the complete chaos of the charred plane scattered across the impact field. When neither vision met my gaze, I rubbed my eyes and looked again. As far as I could see, calm turquoise water stretched toward a lavender horizon. Beneath my quivering body, warm beach sand gently shifted as I struggled to my feet. Whirling around, my back to the expanse of ocean, I stared in disbelief at the vista before me. Tropical trees, heavy with fruit, beckoned from the edge of the pristine beach. The verdant orchards gave way to lush, rolling hills, threaded with cascading falls and streams. The air was fragrant with the scent of flowers. Above my head, brightly colored birds circled and glided while chirping avian melodies. I looked down the beach again. Spotting a dark object a few yards away, I determined myself to regain control of my wobbly gait, and started down the beach to examine the object.

Walking the shoreline proved more difficult than I initially expected and after only a few yards, I found myself winded and weary. Exhausted, I flopped down beside the object. It was ancient, decaying, and smelled like a basement. The clasp, its lock long since rusted away from exposure to the saline atmosphere, fell apart at my first touch. For a moment, I paused. Perhaps closed boxes should remain closed. Or perhaps something wonderful, as wonderful as this secluded shoreline, waited for me within the rotting case. I flung the lid open and peered into the container. It was empty. Disappointed and bone tired, I shut the lid and leaned against the edge of the trunk.

When I opened my eyes again, the sun had released her throne of azure sky and left behind a night studded with myriad twinkling stars. A crescent moon rode the gently cresting surf that lapped at my exposed toes.

“Well, you’re finally awake. Thank God. Your snoring was waking the dead.”

“Excuse me?” I sat bolt upright as I addressed the darkness. “Who said that?” My eyes scoured the beach and tree line for the source of the voice, but I saw no one. I felt as though I were the only person on the planet.

“I said it, you bonehead. Who else would talk to you?”

“Not funny! Show yourself.” I struggled to my feet. Picking up a jutting timber from the side of the box, I brandished it like a club.

“Ok, Tammy. Put the stick down. You might hurt yourself. Woman picks up moldy stick. She gets a splinter that festers and her entire hand rots off. Her body was found yesterday along the shore of a deserted island.”

“Stop it! I said you weren’t funny. Now step out here where I can see you.”

“Well,” the voice suddenly sounded very near, as though it was welling up from the ground around me. Or maybe it was rumbling up from within me. “I would, but you never carry a mirror.”

“Please! You’re scaring me to death!”

“Of course I am. I always have. And I always will. Come on. You didn’t think you could travel without ME, did you? By the way, the box was a great metaphor, don’t you think?”

“You were in the box.” I sank to my knees as the realization enveloped me like a shroud.

“Suffice it to say, you had me boxed, for a moment, but you can only go so long without me. So what shall it be today? Woman found today on a small island. Further test results indicate she stepped on a poisonous cone shell. No, wait. Preliminary tests indicate that the woman found today died shortly after being struck by a large piece of overripe fruit that fell on her head while she was foraging in the jungle. Oh yes, on a deserted island.”

"Shut up! Please, get out of my head.” I started to sob as I rocked back and forth on that lonely stretch of beach sand.

After years of rushing and worrying, it could have been paradise for me. But, I conceded to my inner neurosis. I let the fear of death out of the box. I can still hear her as she torments me. After surviving a horrific plane crash, the victim’s body was found today. She apparently succumbed when a rogue wave pummeled the small deserted island where she originally came ashore. A woman’s body was found on a deserted island today, a puffer fish lodged in her throat…. The partial remains of an unidentified woman were found today on a newly discovered island that is populated by a small band of cannibals. It appears they only eat brains…. 

You Got me WHAT? Tell the Christmas Truth

So I hauled out of the relative warmth next to my husband’s hairy um…legs, showered quickly and prepared myself for the obligatory Christmas ritual gift ripping. I averted my eyes from the sparkling heap of shredded paper burgeoning on the carpet soon festooned with Pirates of the Caribbean action figures and generously sprinkled with holiday Reese’s tin wrappers – those tiny airborne balls of torment flung repeatedly at the aging cat who now growls underneath the PC chair – and I smiled politely as I unwrapped a nice pair of dangly earrings, and the latest Kate Bush CD. Yes the pleasantries almost over and my gnawing gut clamored for the promised sausage omelets I would soon prepare myself and the males in my life. But wait, one more peppermint candy wrap confection planted in my lap. Soft and small, perhaps a scarf and gloves from my loving husband who gazed at me over his glasses as he sat planted in his nappy white robe, hairy um…legs exposed. The prefab “thank you” behind my pursed lips faded as the gift wrap revealed the horror of horrors…a six pack of rolled cotton ‘granny panties’ in assorted earth tones, size OH MY GAWD looming in my lap as my husband said ever so gently “I hope they’re big enough.” There I was confronted with the bane of my existence on this holiest of days.

Perhaps it was an early childhood trauma that spawned my Hanes aversion. I remember that fateful summer day when my innocence met the reality of a 100 percent cotton nightmare. I was young and exuberant, riding off into the wilderness on my blue and gold striped teeter totter swing forgetting everything including the limitations of my preschool bladder. Although I do not remember the crime – the punishment haunts my psyche even now. Yes, my eyes still well with tears as I consider those nasty yellow rosebud patterned abominations wrapped damply around my neck, my hind parts perched on my wooden potty seat and my mother’s voice emanating from the recesses of the tiny trailer “and you’re going to stay there till your underwear is dry.” Yes, to this day I break a cold sweat at the mere mention of a cotton crotch and elastic waistband and yet there they were on Christmas morning in shades of rose and taupe and colors that should never house my flaccid fanny. “But honey, they breathe. Cotton is comfortable.” Yes. And so I shall treasure them and wear them every night….to bed…whilst sleeping next to my husband’s hairy um…legs.  

Merry Christmas, Lu

Evening shadows deepened, spreading chilly tentacles across the hard wooden floor as I sat cross-legged amongst myriad metal Tinsel town denizens. Picking up a brightly painted coal car, I carefully picked away last years gnarled angel hair.

“Pretty cool, mom.” My teen knelt beside me as he arranged the amalgamated buildings in a row. “Check it. Avenida de Boehm.” He grinned as he flipped a switch and windows and fixtures lit up on the small street nestled at the foot of our Christmas tree.

“Yup. Your grand dad rocked for giving this to us. I’m not sure how we are going to get it all to fit down here but we’ll try.” I picked up a yellow SF engine and pried angel hair from around its black wheels. 

Suddenly a sharp thumping sound startled me from my train detail. I looked up briefly as the collection of cards taped to the front door fluttered down to rest on the doormat.

“Nice, knock my card design down.” My younger son untangled his legs from his nest of Christmas tree lights and flung open the front door. “Mom, the mail guy left a package!” He turned toward me holding plain paper box with a small black bow.

“Who’s it from, Rico?” I hooked the engine to the rest of the train cars as Rico handed me the small package. “To you from Lu. Who’s Lu?”

“Lemme see, Mom.” Fred grabbed the box from my hands and tore it open. As he ripped through the box, small packing peanuts and plastic objects burst from inside landing like tiny missiles in down town Tinsel town.

“Hey, knock it off, Spawn. Whatever the hell it is, you’re scattering it everywhere.”

“Dang, Mom. Cussing on Christmas Eve?” Fred bent over and carefully picked up the small peanut bombs and figurines he had dislodged from their protective box. “Oh this is tight. It’s a nativity scene. Look, here’s some assorted farm critters, and Mary, and Joseph and look at this itty bitty Jesus.” Fred placed the baby in my hands. It felt oddly cold and heavy resting in my palm, Its small painted mouth set in an unsettling smile, and its black eyes, like two abysses, bored holes in the middle of my forehead.

“Yeah, creepy little dude, ain’t he?” I gave the grinning cherub a toss toward the manger, where it landed face down.

“Oh that’s lovely. Did the town angel see you Jesus tossing?” As Fred dropped to his knees beside me, I heard a crunch.

“Fred, tell me that was a candy wrapper.” My eyes were now locked on the tinsel town tree sans the crystal angel topper.

“Uh. Well?” Fred shifted his weight back onto his heels and brushed a bright glaze of crystal shards from his kneecap. I bit my lip and rose from my spot by the tracks.

“Ok, so much for the happy angel.”

“Sorry mom. But you know we have Jesus now, right? Should be an angel with this set? You think?” Fred dug through the small box while I arranged the new nativity in the town square. The small Jesus’ mouth curled in a menacing smile.

“I’m not sure I like you.” I gave the manger a thump with my finger.

“Mom. You’re gonna go straight to hell for thumping Jesus.” My younger son folded his arms in disgust.

“Son. I loved the angel. Now its toast and I have Chucky Christ in my train station. Look at the nasty thing. It’s sneering at me.”

“Ok mom. I will make you another angel.” Rico disappeared into his room, returning a few seconds later with a lump of white modeling clay. While I finished hooking up the lights, he worked furiously on a quarter sized ball of clay.

“Here. An angel.” Triumphantly Rico placed a small clay figure in my open hand. The small angel stood, cloak flared, eyes defiant, complete with tiny sword in its outstretched hand. “I know its kinda anime, and you don’t really like anime.

“No, honey. I’m impressed. You even have little feather cuts in the wings. I’m just not sure about the sword.”

“Well, it’s a kick ass angel.”

“Ok, don’t say kick ass.” I placed the clay angel atop the town square tree. “Come on guys. We’ll be late for caroling.” As the boys headed out to the car, I looked back one more time at the finished tree and train station village. All was bright, twinkling, and warm except for a small circle of darkness around the nativity. I shuddered and closed the door behind me.

   ***

“Uh mom? You leave the door open?” The car lights bounced off the darkened front porch as we pulled into the drive.

“Wait here.” I exited the car with my keys clenched between my fingers. “Who’s there!” I yelled, pushed open the door as wide as it would go and flipped on the living room light.  “Oh my GOD.” My stomach churned as I surveyed the wreckage of my living room. The tree lay on its side, lights and baubles strewn all over the floor. Train cars and buildings lay heaped against each other and shredded Christmas wrapping festooned the couch.

“Somebody is gonna die.” Fred stood behind me with his lips sucked into his mouth as far as they would go, staring at the couch. Two pairs of amber eyes stared back at him as two tails thumped a welcome home.

“Oh man, Mom, they squished my angel.” Eric held up a paw on one of the guilty canine invaders as he picked small white chunks of clay from between the dog’s pads.

“I’m sorry honey. Fred, get the stinkin' dogs out of my house.” I slammed the door behind me and knelt down amidst the wreckage. “Why didn’t they eat YOU.” I glared at the undisturbed manger and its malevolently smiling contents.

“Mom. Please quit manger bashing, ok? Well clean the mess up, why don’t you go get a beer or something.”

"Fine. Eric, when you make that angel again. Make it big as hell and pray over it that it slaughters itself Tinsel Town Trolls.” I reached down and plucked the baby from its manger and tossed it across the room.

“I’m gonna take care of it, Mom.” Eric picked up the baby Jesus, placed it back in the manger and rolled the chunks of mangled clay into a ball.

"Ok son. Stay out of the room guys. I’m wrapping presents.” I carefully turned the lock on the bedroom door, sat down on the edge of the bed and began to sob.

  ***

A sharp popping noise and the acrid scent of burning wood brought me quickly to consciousness. The tree! I bolted from my bedroom into the small living room. The tree lights twinkled warmly in the predawn darkness. Nestled beneath the tree, gifts were illuminated in the soft glow from the tinsel town lights. The train engine gleamed and even the nativity seemed bathed in a gold glow. That baby. I knelt under the tree and examined the now holy scene. Mary’s placid face turned toward the manger and its contents. I stared at the baby in wonder. Its eyes were two sky blue points and its small mouth formed an exquisite ‘O’ on its serene ringlet framed face. I glanced up at the Tinsel town tree. A ragged clay angel leaned crazily against the branches, a broken  sword clutched in both fists. At the bottom of the tree a small black lump rested, the tip of the sword buried in the center. Kid’s got a vivid imagination. But then maybe I do too. Well Lu, guess you met a kick ass angel, didn’t you? Picking up the foul blob with my thumb and forefinger, I carried it out to the kitchen and dropped it down the drain. I allowed a smile to pull at the corners of my mouth as I flipped on the garbage disposal.

Merry Christmas, Lu.  

Robbed in the Hood

written for a contest, the language is a bit rough...forgive me...

Perhaps it was the heady thought of Guiness chilling in the refrigerator at home. Perhaps it was the wafting aroma of green chile  carried on the evening air. Perhaps I was exhausted after a week in  corporate hell. Whatever the reason, my usual diligence failed me as I slipped from the protective circle of light in the parking lot and into the unknown.

 

I'll just swing into the first available space and sprint into the store. Seemed like a logical concept in my tiny villa - only a few blocks away from my house. I'll only be a moment.

 

Lost in my reverie of a worry free weekend, I sauntered across the parking lot, never noticing the three figures lurking only a few steps from my car. In a rush of sneakered footsteps and a flurry of arms I suddenly found myself sprawled face down on the pavement - my molesters receding into the darkness with my purse and my pride in tow.

 

"You sorry sonsa..." In an adrenalin induced panic I sprang to my feet, my head snapping right and then left as I scanned the parking lot. Then the nausea hit me. All my unfinished ideas were in that notebook. What was I thinking, taking my bag into the store? Hot tears welled unbidden in my eyes and I brushed them off angrily. Thank God I wasn't stupid enough to toss my keys in my purse.

 

"Excuse me Ma'am. Are you ok?"

 

"Don't even think about touching me. You have no idea who you're messing with." The sentence spilled from my lips before I could stop it as I spun around, keys brandished in my fist, prepared to pummel the living crap out of who ever just called me 'ma'am.'

 

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to startle you." The young man stared intently at me, his jade eyes flickering as they reflected the parking lot lights. He reached out his hand in greeting.

 

"Don't think so, Son. I'm only stupid once." I shook my keyed fist at him with all the venom my quivering flesh could muster after face planting in the parking lot.

 

"Well, I just saw what happened. I can help you. Do you need me to call some one? Your knee, well it looks pretty messed up." He let his hand fall to his side.

 

"I'm fine." I spat, jaws clenched. I took a breath and looked down at my kneecaps. Maybe he noticed they were shaking so violently they were slamming together. A trickle of bright red blood wound its way from my knee to my ankle, and an angry patch of rashy flesh covered the top of my foot. "Well, I'm fine except for missing a shoe."

 

"Its over there." He pointed a few feet away. "I really want to help you." He stepped toward me.

 

"You know what? I'm fine. I'm just gonna get in my car and drive home to my husband who is expecting me any time, and knows exactly where I am right now. So, thanks but no thanks." I straightened my frame and stomped backwards toward my car with all the force and authority I could muster as the young man continued to watch me intently. I threw myself into the drivers seat, slamming on the door lock mechanism, and revved the engine as I turned my lights on. Then I shot my most venomous look at the young stranger still standing in the parking lot. The slightest hint of a smile played at the corners of his mouth as he raised one eyebrow and held a finger to his lips. He then bowed deeply and sprinted off in the direction of my attackers, his oversized green hoodie billowing out behind him like a cape. Jerk! I bit my lip and threw the car into reverse, hearing a dull clunk as my back tire rolled over the shoe I'd neglected to retrieve. Stupid  shoes. Stupid purse. I'm such an idiot.

 

I held back the tears until I was safely nestled in my familiar spot on the couch, chilled Guinness in hand. Then the sobs came as I recounted the events for my husband and children.

 

"Did you kick him in the ass, mom?" my younger boy piped up.

 

"Don't say ass. And no I didn't." I took a gulp of foamy stout.

 

"So what did this kid look like? Maybe I will run into him at school tomorrow." My hulking teen smacked his beefy fist against his palm in a threatening motion.

 

"Um yeah. Four against one. I don't know. He looked kinda like Robin Hood. You know, mysterious eyes, quiet demeanor and a great big cape like sweat jacket. Forest green."

 

"Sure, mom. Robin Hood swipes your purse in the parking lot. Mom, robbed in the hood!" The conversation dissolved into giggling as someone suddenly knocked hard on the front door.

 

"Who is that at this late hour."

 

"Maybe its Robin the Hood." My younger boy pulled his knees up under his chin and rolled on the floor as he laughed.

 

"Don't laugh at your mother. Honey, I told you you shouldn't carry your whole life around in that giant bag lady thing." My husband pursed his lips and sighed.

 

"Yeah, well my life is over now, huh. Get up and see who it was, Son." 

 

"Dang mom, we're just joking." My older son uncurled himself from beside me on the couch and walked the few steps to the front door. He opened it wide and peered out into darkness. "No one's here, Mom. Hey is this stuff yours?" He turned to face me, my stolen purse dangling from one finger as he clutched a pair of new shoes in the other.

 

"My purse." I snatched the bag away from my child. Rifling through it, I found everything in place, money, credit cards and my precious notebook. A page fluttered out of the notebook as I flipped through the pages. It came to rest on the floor. 

 

"What's that, a love note? Dear, ma'am - here's your purse. You'll find all is in order. I hope the shoes are to your liking. Best regards....Robin..."

 

"Gimme that!" I snatched the note away from my younger boy. Robin? Suddenly the image of a jade eyed, green clad young man flooded my memory. I smiled as I stared out my open front door into the darkened night. Thank you Robin. Where ever you are. 

TL Boehm 

Endless Blue

Eric leaned against the weathered rail and gazed out at the endless blue of Lake Michigan. A whisper of a breeze lifted the edge of the green flag over head as children's laughter wafted up from the band of pristine sand at waters' edge. Yes, the singing sands...God how I've missed you. He sprinted down the short flight of steps where green tendrils of ivy fought back the encroaching dunes and sunk his bare toes into the warm beach sand. With each planted step, the sand squeaked gently underfoot and he breathed the damp air in deeply.

Eric let the old beach towel fall from his shoulders as he strode boldy into the placid lake. The water was tepid yet he shivered as wavelets lapped at his shins. Putting his hand over his brow, he surveyed the expanse of tourmaline water. Yes, I can easily make it to the third sandbar, away from the kiddies and vacationing soccer mommies...in two - maybe three minutes. Eric focused on that foggy place where the water met the sky and dove cleanly into the water.

Coming up for a breath, he checked his position. As expected he had surfaced just beyond the pillars marking the usual safe haven and a lone gull astride the red and white marker gazed steadily at him in mute agreement. He felt for the sand bar with one toe and smiled as the smooth surface met his skin. Eric stood up shoulder deep on the second sandbar and looked back toward the shore line where a young mother chased her small toddler, her arms waving a yellow beach ring as the child giggled and splashed in the gentle surf. Eric turned and faced the endless blue again, squinting to see the opposite shore or at least that line where water and sky collide but only that misty aqua blur greeted him. The lake was a tease with her gentle caress and shifting hues. Fine, we'll skip the pleasantries shall we Old Blue? I'm going for the fourth sandbar...

Eric filled his lungs with air and dove again, his taut body cutting the surface of the waves with no foam. With each long thrust of his arms forward he counted the strokes, remembering exactly the number of kicks it took to acquire the prize, standing atop the fourth sandbar. He stopped, treading water for a moment before extending a leg downward. And there it rested on familiar smooth beach sand. Triumphant Eric porpoised upward and landed with a splash. Again he surveyed the endless blue but the view had not changed. The water and sky collided in an indistinguishable mix of muted blue and the silence roared in his ears. He turned back toward the beach expecting to see that confetti of bright umbrellas and happy people...yet only the endless blue greeted him in every direction. There, old girl. No tricks today. Where's the shore line? The waves lapped gently against his chest as Eric spun around again trying to locate the beach. With each revolution that odd mix of sky and surf seemed to close in around him, weighing him  down...permeating the air. He looked up expecting the brilliant light of a summer sun to burn his retinas but all that filled his eyes was endless blue....

Overhead a lone gull circled eyeing an object floating just a few feet from shore. The bird coasted silently, settling on the tepid surface only inches from Eric's outstretched arm as he bobbed gently in the surf, his eyes of endless blue permanently fixed and lifeless as his bloated body drifted finally back to shore....
© 2007 Tl Boehm (jus' Tammy)

080307 

Life Cliches 0507

Cliches italicized for your convenience....an SP short to amuse you:

"Son, what are you doing?" Sarah stood, hands on hips in the small kitchen staring at her son as he stood sleepy eyed in front of the open refrigerator.

"Getting Rico's breakfast" The tall teen boy scratched his buttocks with a beefy hand.

"Ok well its not gonna jump out at you - come on - grab some cereal and let's go." Sarah turned on her flat black shoes and stomped out of the kitchen.

"Mom, we're outta milk." Randy brandished the cereal box at his younger brother.

"You know, just put the cereal in a bowl and get your hide to the car!" Sarah snatched her purse up off the floor and dug in the bottom of it for the car keys.

"Mom needs to get a life." Rico pulled a chipped bowl out of the drain tray and tossed a handful of cereal into it.

"Brat!" Sarah looked over her glasses at the younger boy.

"Rico, life is what happens when you're busy making other plans." Randy handed his little brother a spoon and slung a backpack over his shoulder.

"la i wa you may ih" Rico shoved a spoon full of dry cereal into his mouth and spoke, little pieces of cereal falling onto his red tshirt."

"What are you doing, son!" Sarah tapped the back of Rico's head with the flat of her hand.

"Mom, "life is what you make it, remember? Joe Dirt?"

"Yeah whatever, like you are so chalk cajun, don't talk with your mouth full. and it was home is where you make it...damn. Home. Like this crack house in which we live."

"Mom. Don't say bad words." Rico swallowed a mouthful of dry flakes.

"Mm Life cereal. He likes it, Hey Mikey." Randy gave his little brother a shove as the three made their way down the porch steps.

"Mom! He's calling me Mikey again." Rico spit pieces of dry cereal at his older brother.

"Don't spit and don't whine - "

"Don't let life pass you by" Randy interrupted his mother, grabbing her around the waist and dancing in a circle with her.

"Son, my hand is gonna pass by the back of your head. Do you understand late?"

"Chillax. We're living the good life remember?" Randy let Sarah go and ducked into the passenger seat of the car

"Life's a b*tch and then you die." Sarah squealed the tires as she backed out of the driveway.

"Mom, I know you're stressed but its ok. We're not that late." Randy patted his mom's shoulder.

"No. You're not that late. I'm going to be late and one of these days I'm gonna get fired for coming in ten minutes late every day because my children do not respect me." Sarah gripped the steering wheel tightly as she accelerated on to the freeway.

"Mom, life comes at you so fast, sometimes you just have to slow down and deal with what's important and let the rest wait."

"Randy, I want you to be a winner at the game of life. I'm not trying to be an evil witch. But rules are rules and work is work and on time is on time."

"And the needs of the mommy outweigh the needs of the son. Live long and prosper." Randy held up his hand in a Vulcan greeting.

"Ok.Son. Ok." Sarah glanced over at her boy as he put his MP3 player earbuds in his ears and started to headbang silently in the passenger seat. She looked in the rearview mirror at her younger boy, who crunched dry cereal and stared out the window.

This is the life....

a secluded paradise life cliche short http://secludedparadise.yuku.com/

Heaven and Hell

The needle sank deep into her veins. She braced herself against the whirring machinery as the back of her throat started to burn.
Was prayer at this point frivolous?
Full circle view of an inner life she could not see progressed as she held herself immobile against the tremors that begged release in her war ravaged brain.
Hope is food for children and I have grown gaunt as an adult imbecile.
"Ok, we're all done. You can get dressed and leave when you're ready." Father, I'm not ready.
Her legs shook as she dressed herself quickly, poised to flee from the physical reminders of potential danger; her feigned calm was a masquerade transparent in her mirrored reflection. She looked away, fighting unbidden tears.
Waivering faith is an indulgence to rich for my shallow palate. I am no longer immune to the fear.
She smiled politely at the faceless desk drones as she exited the building. Could they see she was afflicted with a soul disease?
There is no Heaven in the Hell of a double mind.
2007 

Marlee

Marlee sat naked on the edge of the bed. Her toes cast odd shadows on the dusty wood floor. I need a pedicure. She hoisted a scaly foot up, resting it on her chunky kneecap. Yup, a full body pedicure. She looked up at the mirrored canopy suspended over her like the Wicked Queens mirror of Horror. I wont even go there. Whos the fairest indeed? Marlee cringed at the fullness of her reflection for a moment and took her glasses off. The light under the bathroom door glowed soft for a moment on the old hardwood floor, like a warm fire. Warm enough to melt the Ice Princess. How long has it been? She let the towel fall to the floor and slipped under the old cotton sheets. You're getting old, Princess. Frayed sheets. Frayed nerves. And that lovely how long have you been homeless excuse you call a hair style. Its no wonder you've forgotten what its like for a girl. And you expect him to remember.  The light disappeared as her husband crawled into bed at her side. He was a solid man. Solid and loyal. Like an old dog on the hearth. Looking for a fire that's been cold forever.

Where's the key?

"Marlee, under the doormat. You wanna wait up for him?

"Guess not. You left the light on, right?"

"Doors open. You see the light, right?"

"Sure. I see the light more than you realize." Marlee rolled over and faced the wall. She traced the dark ring at the edge of the sideboard. This bed hasnt moved in fifteen years. Seems like such a short time ago when he'd come in and close that door...

She rolled over and put an arm around her husbands chest. Only when she heard his soft snores of sleep did she allow the tears to fall.

"Strong inside but you dont know it
Good little girls they never show it
When you open up your mouth to speak
Could you be a little weak?" - What its Like for a Girl - Madonna  

The Best Days

Despite the crisp predawn air, the coffee tinted water felt tepid as I dug my toes into soft sand. I swung quietly into the old metal boat and aimed the prow for the center of the pristine lake. Eddies swirled and danced in the wake of the oars. Our summer refuge seemed smaller through my adult eyes. Surveying the placid scenery, I pulled in the oars and let the boat drift.  The gentle current rocked me back to that time when you and I sat in that boat in the hot summer sun. How we froze when dragonflies strafed the tips of our fishing poles because you said if a shadow crossed the water, the bluegills would never bite. So many mornings and afternoons cruising the pond with our two horse mercury and the only thing that ever bit was the deerflies and hordes of mutant mosquitoes.  I shifted in my seat, kicking an aged plastic yellow and red bobber loose from its tangle of dry rotted nylon. Maybe you left it last time you were here. How long had it been? That was the beauty of our summer hideaway. The timeless birch trees waved lithe white branches as pines stood sentinel over tiny cottages dotting the rim of the lake. Nothing changes here. Except you.

 

My promise brought me back to the present. Taking a small envelope from my shirt pocket, I poured its precious contents into my hands as the sunlight slipped gently across the tree tops. You never let me stand up in the boat but maybe this time you’d forgive me as I rose and closed my eyes. Taking a breath, I flung your ashes skyward watching them cascade in a sunlit shower of dust settling on the surface of the lake you loved. You said we’d share another sunrise and like a true friend, you kept your word.

 

"And if I had the choice

I'd always wanna be there

Those were the best days of my life"

TL Boehm 2006 inspired by the above song lyrics

Wild Child

Once upon a time a wild child sat at the entrance to the great cave of secrets. Chained to the damp entrance by heavy metal bound to her ankles – she cried – collecting her tears in a small stone box. Every night – the ogre came. A pale worm like wraith – to feed on her tears. If her salt offering was not bitter enough – the wraith beat her, tattooing  words of sadness and despair across her back in a secret sonnet of pain.

So bitter her tears became she was almost blinded by the acid in her own soul. She could no longer see the sunlight in the full of the day, so she waited until the sunset. Cowering against the wall of her dank prison cave, she listened for the lioness that roared in the forest below her stale dungeon. She called to the lioness, begging each sunset that the fierce feline would come and eat her whole, rip her apart so that she could at last feel the sweet release of death.

Soon even her call became hollow and lonely like the memory of a birdsong on an abandoned windowsill. Her bitter tears became caustic, burning her cheeks. The ogre delighted in her pain, licking her tears until the wild child’s face was no longer recognizable.

And so she laid in the floor of the cave, her pool of tears slowly dissolving her flesh and bones until she was but scars and sadness. She barely heard the hushed breath of the lioness when she came – hungry and hunting for the song bird that no longer sang on sweet nights when the sun dipped down into the lush cover of green forest.

“Wild child, do you not know me?”

“Is it you my lioness? Come to put me out of my pain? Please make my death quick” The wild child closed her eyes – waiting for the strong bite of the lioness around her throat.

And the lioness responded. Licking the wild child softly – slowly caressing every inch of the childs scarred body, healing the years of torment and pain with her gentle pink caress.

“Open your eyes, wild child.”

As the child opened her eyes the fresh vision brought new tears of sweet rapture to her once scarred face. The once ragged flesh clinging to her bones had been healed, and covered with tawny, soft feline fur. Swollen hands and feet were now strong – powerful paws with claws of steeled ebony. As she sprang up the chains that had trapped her fell away and she caught her own image in the eyes of the lioness. She too was now a proud, strong cat – lithe and muscular.

“My lioness!” The wild child roared – passionate and sweet – resonating through the old lioness's heart.

“Yes, wild child. You have found your truth. Now you are free from pale ogres that haunt you in the night – swallowing your bitter tears.”

And the cats slipped shoulder to shoulder melting into the warm summer sunset – forever safe in the lush cover of the forest.

SP Exercise – fairy tale. June 2006  TL Boehm

Honey, I'm Home - My first Short - 1984

The ice on the lake groaned and buckled, sending shockwaves toward the shore.  Miranda shivered as numbing wavelets snapped at her already soaked feet.  Across the bay, lights came on in Washburn through dark green smudges of trees. It’s getting dark. I have to get home.  She walked the few yards to the highway, stepping over clumps of tar blackened snow. Behind her, the ice creaked again.  She pushed her gloved hands deep into the pockets of her gray fur coat.  The fur rested heavy and clammy against her chilled body in the evening air.

            “I’m glad Ashland is such a small town. I’d hate to have to walk very far in this cold. Especially after dark like this.” She said out loud.  She was surprised at the rasp of her voice as it bounced back at her from the waterfront buildings. A breeze ruffled the fur of her collar. Miranda caught the scent of rotting fish.

            “Yummy. Good old Lake Superior air.  If it isn’t fish, its skunk. Or run off from the paper mill.”

            She stopped on the corner of the highway and 11th Street to admire the pewter mugs and copper plates in the window of Roxanne’s Gift Shop.  The white trim stood out crisply against the gun metal blue of the converted Finlander house.  Someday I’d like to open up a little gift shop like Roxanne’s, when Mandy is a little older. When Paul builds his business. When the sun brings warmth again, instead of simply bouncing off Lake Superior ice. 

         Miranda turned down 11th, again catching the odor of fish.  She walked quickly, keeping her eye on her home at the end of the block.

            “Mandy’s left her trike on the sidewalk again! How many times do I have to tell her to put it away at night?”

            Miranda’s wet shoes squelched on the concrete drive way.

            “Wow, we must have company. Nice car. No salt. Dealer plates. Who buys a car in the dead of winter?”  She opened the door quietly and stepped in to the brightly lit hall.  To her left, she saw her husband Paul hunched over a pile of papers he had sprawled all over the kitchen table.  His thick red hair brushed the collar of his dark blue suit. She could not see his eyes through the rims of his glasses, but she knew they were squinted in concentration. 

           “So what is my dear spouse doing while we have visitors?”   She started up the stairway to the right. The light was on in her bathroom at the top of the stairs. 

            If Mandy’s in to my makeup again – she hurried up the steps, almost bumping in to her five year old daughter at the top.

            “Mandy!”

            “Mom-mommy?” the little girl’s eyes grew huge as she stood rigid in front of her mother Miranda.

            “What’s wrong? You know Mommy.”

            “Daddy!”  Mandy screamed as she ran downstairs past her mother. Her red slide shoes flapped against her stocking feet like warning flags in a rip tide breeze.

            “Daddy, daddy!” the little girl started sobbed, throwing her arms around her fathers legs as he stood at the bottom of the stairs. 

            “Whatsa matter, baby girl?” Paul pulled his daughter away from his knee and knelt down to look at her.

            “Daddy, daddy, its Mommy. I saw her. Mommy, mommy.”  Mandy clutched the bottom of her sweater in one fist and pointed at the stairs. 

            “Now slow down and tell daddy what you saw.”

            “It was mommy. I saw her. I was in your room. I didn’t break anything, I just went in for a minute and I saw her.” Mandy pulled up her sock and took a deep breath.  “I saw her, I really did. I’m not lying either, honest Daddy. I did.”

            “Mandy, Mandy. I’m going to explain this to you one more time, so listen carefully.  Are you listening?”

            “Yeah.”

            “All right.  Now your Mommy is dead.”

            “But Daddy.”

            “Your Mommy accidentally drove in to the lake last fall. Now we’ve been through this before.”

            “But they didn’t find her in the car.”

            “That’s because she went to Heaven.”

            “But, but maybe she stayed in the lake and now the ice is going away and she came out.”

            “Amanda!”

            “But I saw her. And she was all wet and yucky looking. And she smelled like Grandma’s fish tank.”

            Miranda stood at the top of the stairs listening to them talk.

            Dead? An accident? Yucky looking? She put her hands to her face, but could not feel her skin through her gloves.  She clawed the left glove off. Her wedding rings fell to the floor with a hollow ping.  Bits of blackened flesh clung to the bands.  Miranda saw the bones of her left hand as she bent to pick up her rings.

            “My God!” she screamed as she staggered backward into her bedroom.  She turned to her mirror recoiled at the creature who stared back at her.  Black sockets where blue eyes should have been met her horrified gaze.  Her once smooth porcelain skin was sallow and blotched with blue and grayish green. Her shriveled lips receded revealing the molars on both sides of her jaw which now hung tenuously by shredded ligaments of tissue.  Her mouth hung open in mock surprise.  She lifted her hand to the two claw shaped holes that marked where her nose should have been. The smell of rotted flesh almost gagged her.  She brought her other hand to her matted dripping brown hair.  The remains of a trout gaped at her from the side of her head.  She frantically slapped at it at it, and then screamed when a clump of hair and scalp slipped from her skull, hitting the floor with a soft plop.

            “Oh, God. It can’t be. No, no!”

            Miranda stumbled down the stairs past her startled husband and daughter. She heard Paul gasp as she ran shrieking into the freezing Wisconsin night.

1984