Remind Him to Laugh

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Dash had slept with countless women. His old friend, Anne, called it trying to prove something. He became himself with Grayson. They’d been together forever.

Their big empty house had a “For Sale” sign in the front. Not for long. San Francisco real estate moves fast and Dash was motivated. Dash’s retirement party was tomorrow. Anne would call him “queen” at the airport. She was the only one left who could. She’d help him grieve, find another life. Sell the house, tie up loose ends, deliver him to the ashram to reinvent himself. Most important, she’d make him laugh.

……..

Find “The Vow” which features Dash, Anne and Grayson at https://www.paloaltoonline.com/short_story/short_story_33/adult2.php

The story took second place in the 2019 Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest.

Grow a Mind

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“They grow around here.”

“You identify mushrooms?”

“Yeah.”

Markus had read something about depression and psychedelics. He was depressed. Still, I couldn’t imagine him taking psilocybin. A guy who drives a truck with a gun rack and operates power tools for a living doesn’t seem like the right demographic. I said I’d watch. I had my notebook ready. I could write something. The ravings of a man high on drugs would do. 

He was quiet, calmer then I’d ever seen him. He opened a sketch pad and started painting with water colors. I wished I’d joined him when he offered.

There’s an App for That

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Tunnel Vision for a relaxed viewing experience. It’s an app. Easily available for download from the not-evil-less-good purveyor of such things. Said app is guaranteed to shield your eyes from unwanted images of, among other perfidities: measles, ecoli, drought, floods, and politically apocalyptic weather conditions. Also: locusts, wildfires, and plagues of hailstorms as revealed in Revelations.

We never saw it coming and, once we did, we took it as God’s will. Surely the End Times. Most definitely nothing to do but pray. Pray or prey on. Better not to look. They say death by freezing is rather like falling asleep. 

L’Chiam

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Snow symbolizes death. Check out twentieth century fiction. I’m living in twenty-first century America, looking out the window at snow in June. Banks of it cover the summer ground. Carbon flecked flakes fall from the sky. Opening the door of my isolated cabin, where it’s safe to stay for now, I look out on the garden. Poles push out of the white landscape. They have labels: potatoes, carrots, turnips. Shriveled apples hang from a tree. Inside the house, basil and thyme grow fragrant, adding their flavors to the root vegetable stews that make up my post climate change diet. L’chiam.

Stormy Weather

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The Pineapple Express thundered in last night, dark, weighty, pouring rain into soggy ground late into summer. In the morning, you pull on yellow boots, a raincoat, grab an umbrella, and step outside. Splashing through small puddles, avoiding big ones, your legs pump, hoping to reach the station between outbursts.

A lush jungle, California’s changed. Waiting at a light, feeling the air blow warm through your hair, you remember the cool contrast of Midwest rainstorms and muggy summer days. You think California could get used to April showers in August. You know the climate is evolving. Here comes the train.

Dry Lightning

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Feels like it might rain, like something might trickle through the seared air and quench the thirsty, dusty ground. It’s just a feeling though. Nothing to make it true. Even the clouds lie.

Next thing is a flash, a thunder peal, dry lightning somewhere in the hills. You think it’s far away because the bolt is disconnected from its scream.

A fire smolders. The wind spreads it, jumps it over the plowed break in the dry, brown grass. Acrid smoke and deep hued sunsets linger after the flames run their course.

No one dies, nothing changes. We think we’re lucky.

The Guardian

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It was a big tree, gashed along the side away from the barn. My grandpa calls it “The Guardian.”

Said he saw it happen in the big rainstorm of 2012. The sky alight, the thunder rumbling; the dogs scrambling for cover on the porch, yowling like every clap tore open an ear. Then a bolt hit the aspen. Hit it at the leafy top and seared into the trunk, so now you see the scar ripple dark down to the ground.

It’s grown some. Taller now. Stronger. Beloved. Hay bales safe under the barn roof feed the cows all winter.