This week’s post comes to us from Cathy MacKenzie, who writes short stories and poems. The current theme for The Spot Writers is to begin a short story with these four sentences: “This is it. So very simple actually. Just the end. And no one can prevent it.”
Her new book, Between These Pages (over 60,000 words compiling 18 of her most recent short stories of varied genres), is now available on Amazon and Smashwords. $2.99 for the e-book; $10.00 for the print book. The kindle version for $2.99 can be found on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Between-These-Pages-ebook/dp/B00DP3RDOA/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374948755&sr=1-6
You can view all of her e-books on Smashwords at: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/camack.
This is it. So very simple actually. Just the end. And no one can prevent it.
When I see the storm clouds, I run. As quickly as I can. But I can’t run faster than the rain, which pelts me like shards of glass. My flesh feels like it’s being punctured, but no matter how piercing the drops, they won’t cut into my skin. Another attack—more deadly than rain—might succeed, for nothing can be deadlier than black storm clouds chasing me down a dark alley.
The buildings loom alongside me. I almost feel smothered, and I would be, were they real, but they’re just inhumane chunks of concrete and strips of mortar and rising steel—inanimate objects—nothing that can actually crush the life out of me, unless, of course, the structures collapse upon me. But that isn’t happening. No, it’s the human factor in the equation I worry about, not the dismal grey surroundings.
I envision airplanes from World War II hovering over me, like when I was young and standing in the flowing fields, my face upturned to the sky, awestruck by the thundering steel birds breaking through the clouds. Menacing. War is like that—horrific. Yet, when it’s over, it’s done. And relief pervades. People relax. Somewhat.
I want this war to be over. When will he leave me alone? He is my war. I have no enemies except for him. I want no enemies. Life is within my grasp, breaths with which to flourish and eyes to wonder.
Yet, continual life is unattainable with him in existence. He prevents me from being me. From living and dying. Yes, even dying. Dying at will. Dying at my time, not his.
This is his time—or so he thinks. But he doesn’t know my stamina. I can live forever if I so desire. As much as he thinks he knows me, he doesn’t know me at all.
I hear the planes again and I’m transported back to 1944 when I was a toddler, uncomprehending and staring at the monsters above me. Many more years passed before I understood how complicated life is and how I may never understand men and women. How I may never understand life—nor death.
Death. That’s his aim. To kill me. I know that. Does he think it’s as easy to kill me as a mockingbird? I’m fearless. I can beat him. Like The Amazing Race, I’ll outwit and outrun him to the finish, intact and whole.
I sense him behind me, even though I don’t see. I want to see, but I can’t. Not with dark descending and overtaking light. Light can’t exist without dark, for what is light if dark isn’t there to obscure it? What is life if there’s no death? What is happiness without sorrow?
Despite my happiness, I’m clothed in sorrow, like at Halloween when masqueraders don their masks of deceit and hide from the world. But it’s not October. It’s still summer and the heat and chill fall upon me, trying to smother me as much as he wants to quash me.
I’m stronger than you, I want to shout, but I don’t, otherwise I’d give myself away. I hide behind one of the formidable pillars and I thank the architect for his unusual design. For surely it’s a man, right? It’s always a man.
He’s still here. He still chases me. I’m not as strong as I had thought. I used to be stronger. Age does that. Life overtakes you, swallows you whole, spits you out in pieces. You can’t win, no matter what you do.
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