Standards

Lovingly
via Daily Prompt: Lovingly

The couple ate at a low Japanese style table. Molly cross-legged. Bill standing. Bill struggled with chairs. This was the compromise they had reached. The meal was mainly vegetables, with a little rice. Bill felt uneasy eating meat. Molly had come to adapt.

“Close your mouth when you eat.” Molly reminded him.

“My mouth is closed… Was closed.”

“I just don’t get it. How is it possible to make some much noise when you eat?”

“The process generates some noise.”

“Well, your process generates more than others.”

“You realise that everyone makes noise when they eat?”

“Not like you. You’re… careless, I guess.”

“Careless? What is that even supposed to mean? You just spend more time with me eating than anyone else. It gives you more time to obsess over it.”

“It’s not an obsession.”

“You seem pretty hung up on it.”

“Well, maybe if I got to go out and eat with other people more often, it wouldn’t be such a problem.”

“You went for dinner with your dad, last week.”

“That’s hardly going out… I mean with friends… People. Normal people.”

“Normal people!?”

“Oh, don’t take it the wrong way. It’s just…” Molly sighed. “With two men like you in my life. I don’t know. ”

“Really? You’re going to draw that parallel again?”

“You know how he is. And, you’ve seen him eating soup. Slurping – then blowing on the spoon. Always blowing on the spoon.” Molly mimed blowing on a spoon, letting the wind whistle between her lips over the imaginary cutlery. “Blowing and then slurping.” She rolled her eyes. “Why so loud?”

“There are only so many ways you can eat soup darling.”

“And you.” Molly hesitated. “Marginally better I suppose.”

“At least I never use a spoon.”

“Mmm… I do wish you would keep your snout a little, cleaner, though.”

“I try sweetheart.”

“You don’t have to get your whole face in there.”

Bill, grunted and backed away from the table.

“Alright, if I am so terrible to eat with, you can finish the meal on your own.” His trotters clacked on the kitchen tiles as he completed the maneuver.

“Oh, come on. No need to be like that. I’m allowed to dream of having some standards aren’t I?”

“Standards?” Bill snorted. “I can only do so much and you know it. You knew it when you married me. I thought marriage was about accepting someone for who they are. Loving them for who they are.”

“Awww.” Molly softened. She liked it when he got worked up. “I’m sorry, Billy. Come here.” She motioned to him.

Bill glanced over his shoulder and sighed. Reluctantly, he sidled across the room and lay his head in Molly’s lap. She stroked his head, running her hand across the coarse bristly hairs of his back.

“I’m sorry Billy.”

Bill nuzzled his snout into Molly’s lap. His curly little tail wagging with contentment.

The Taj

Exquisite

via Daily Prompt: Exquisite

The children huddled behind the dumpster, dirty, shirtless, hungry. It was not permitted. The boys had been beaten for it before, but it was too hard to resist. The trail of tomorrow’s sauces wafted from the window above. Cinnamon, cloves, mustard seed, anise, cardamon. Deep complex, carefully crafted blends. It teased their senses, stomachs groaning in anticipation.

The back door swung open. A boy dragged two swollen rubbish bags. Lifting the heavy plastic lid, he swung the bags one by one into the dumpster, letting the lid slam shut as he turned back inside.

Waiting just long enough, the boys scrambled from their shelter. Climbing with practiced efficiency, inside the dumpster, they ripped open the bags, snatching hungrily at scraps of chapati, idly, gravy and rice. Gravy and rice! Exquisite gravy and rice.

The video that can’t be un-seen

Unseen

via Daily Prompt: Unseen

“Holy shit!” Jay blurted out. It came involuntarily, like an unwelcome bodily function; part words, part laughter, part vomit… Just a little bit of vomit, which he swallowed back down.

Ripping off his headphones, Jay swung around his leather office chair. He cried out again. Louder this time. “Holy fucking shit, Tess, come. You have GOT to see this.”

Pivoting back to the screen, his eyes boggled. He rubbed them in disbelief, but it was true. It was real.

“What do you want?” Tess’ voice croaked down the hall. “I’m sleeping”

“Babe, no frikken joke. You HAVE to see this.”

Tess groaned. The bed frame creaked and bare feet pattered down the hallway. Tess appeared; bed head, pajama pants, tank top, bleary eyed.

“What is it? “she mumbled.

“You, you’re not going to believe it! Look here.” Jay motioned toward the screen. “Aghh, god, internets you have delivered… in the most… disturbing… and yet wonderful way.”

Tess moved to peer over Jay’s shoulder. He had paused the video. At first glance, the frozen frame seemed to depict some kind of giant leather bag, or perhaps oversized Cheeto, crushing one, or maybe even two naked girls.

Tess tilted her head to the side and squinted. At this angle, the baggy Cheeto showed some form…

“Wait, Jay, are you watching mature porn?”

Jay, laughed, gargling excitedly. “Umm, no… well, yes… kind of. It’s just that this is not your average, run of the mill, mature porn.” Jay ripped his headphone jack from the tower, wiggled his mouse and hit play. “This is mature, fucked up porn, that might just save the world.”

The audio kicked in; the Cheeto gyrated, jiggling up and down on a pretty young blonde. “Oh, oh, oh, tell me who’s your daddy,” it demanded.

“You’re my daddy, daddy,” the girl squealed.

Jay burst out laughing. “He literally is her daddy.”

“Slap me with those big hands of yours, daddy.” The girl moaned.

“Oh, Jesus christ,” Tess exclaimed. “I Don…” Tess wretched loudly. “I’ve seen some shit in my life, but this, this trumps it all…Turn it the fuck off.”

Clutching her belly, Tess rushed from the room. Jay, heard the contents of her belly splash into the toilet.

It was the video the world had waited to see, and now, could not be un-seen.

“Champagne and caviar tonight, babe,” Jay called down the hall. “This is going to be big!”

This is not a life

Cling
via Daily Prompt: Cling

Donna wept openly. It was the first time that Sarah had seen her break. It made her uneasy to see her like that; hunched, head hanging over her knees, tears cascading across the pristine white tiles.

Sarah shifted uneasily.

“You can’t let it get the better of you. Not after we’ve come so far.”

“How can I not? We lost everything; the house, the farm, the animals, everything that we worked our whole lives to get is gone.”

“Everyone lost something, Donna. Some more than others… You just have to keep it together. Just be glad that we’re here. That we got to come.”

“I mean, I’m grateful, I suppose. It’s just, I hate living in a city.”

Donna stared out the window mournfully. From their vantage point, in the tower, they could see across the city. The streets were sparse and grey. Citizens streamed between the glassy highrises, vehicles weaved between buildings, elevated roads crisscrossed the horizon. The activity was a distraction, not a comfort. Looking past the city, the evening stars on the horizon made her feel even further away from home.

“Don’t look like that, Donna.”

“What am I supposed to look like? You don’t like the city either.”

“I don’t… but it’s what we’ve got now, right? You need to let go.”

“Jesus, don’t tell me you don’t yearn for it.  What it used to be like.. before.”

Sarah looked at the floor. Donna could see her mind’s eye traveling back.

“The green, the grass was so green. And the trees. The fruit trees in the summer; apples, oranges, pares. Everything was just easier right? You never had to worry about the kids. They could be out. Play all day. Sit in the shade when it got too hot, drink from the stream.”

Sarah’s eyes softened as she let her mind drift for a moment.

“The animals, Sarah, the plants, the mountains, the clouds. I miss it. I miss it so much. It’s like… I feel like a part of me died along with that place.”

“But it’s gone now, you know it’s all gone. It’s dry, lifeless. There’s nothing there anymore, not even water. Just dust. Can’t you just appreciate that you are here in the city now? Your family is here. Your boys. Others weren’t so lucky.”

“I know, I know I should be grateful, but it’s alien to me here… It doesn’t feel right for you either does it?”

“Well, no, but…”

“I just can’t imagine spending the rest of my life here. We’re country girls. What’s life without the long summers, the trees in the autumn, the family by the fire in the winter, the spring.”

“Well, it may not be home, but at least you’re alive.”

Donna stared, glassy-eyed out past the columns of buildings, over the greenhouses, past the atmospheric generators, through the dome, to the endless rocky red landscape beyond. She wiped away a final tear.

“This is not a life.’

For the baby

via Daily Prompt: Uneven

It was uneven. Hanna hated it when things were uneven. She didn’t think of herself as OCD, but some things just had to be right. This was not right.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” She growled.

Roo, glanced up from his book as he flicked the page.”A little to the left, darl.”

Hanna stomped her foot. The low wooden chair atop which she stood, tipped, the legs lifting slightly. She scrambled to regain her balance.

“Do, you have any idea how long I have been trying to get this right?” She demanded.

“Not terribly long, darling.” Roo cast his eyes through the open doorway to his right, checking the hands of the faux art deco clock hanging above the kitchen sink. “About four minutes… including the time you couldn’t find the hammer.”

Hanna let out an anguished, rumbling, throaty groan that resonated off the walls. “Why isn’t it cooperatiiiiiing.”

She had found the print in a garage sale. It was long and rectangular. A horrendous, rocky landscape of scrappy gnarled trees, dotted with crumbling, burning buildings and a mass of naked, writhing humanity in the foreground. The frenzied heap of mortal flesh sloshed about in a mess of copulation, murder, and what appeared to be public defecation.  The artist was unknown,  at least to them, but it looked medieval. Roo had thought it a little bloodthirsty to hang over the space where the cot was to be when the baby finally came along, but it appealed very much to Hanne, so he did not complain.

The piece was framed in a long thin, shiny black metallic frame. A white cardboard border held the print in place, which was then protected by a shiny panel of glass. Hanna lifted the frame with both hands and shifted it a touch to the left. Roo eyed the frame. It held even for a moment and then eased lazily to the left.

“Jesus fucking christ!”

“Darling, do you think you should be getting so worked up… with the baby and all?”

Hanna spun around on the chair, finding it hard to stop with eight months worth of momentum in her belly.  She raised one eyebrow while the other dipped. Her front teeth clasped her lower lip so hard, it was unclear whether she was trying to eat it. She didn’t say anything. Her head vibrated as her arms rose, palms up, a posture so tightly wound with invitational violence that Roo had to look away.

“Umm.”

“Don’t umm me. Why aren’t you helping me.”

“I know better than to offer to help you, lest I undermine your capabilities.”

“I’m pregnant!”

“I know. And you probably shouldn’t be conducting an argument from on top of that chair.”

“Well, are you going to fix this?”

“If you wish.”

Hanna eased herself down from the chair.

“I just want it to be even… For the baby.”

“Sure darling, we all want what’s best for the baby.”

Nothing Specific

via Daily Prompt: Specific

Her feet sink into the soft dry sand, the warm grains pressing through her toes. The waves roll in rhythmically, a rumble of whitewash as she scours the beach. Her walk is meditative yet purposeful. She breathes evenly taking in the salt air, the smell of the ocean washed ashore with clumps of decaying seaweed. Head lowered, her red hair brushing against her pale cheeks, eyes scanning steps ahead. Reaching down, letting the sand trickle away, she takes between her fingers rounded stones, glittering seashells, sponge, and pumice. She examines each piece. With a decerning eye, she finds beauty in patterns, blending of shades, geometry and structure, stray pieces of incidental artistry cut by the force of the ocean. She passes each piece that pleases her into her pocket and continues to search.