Category Archives: Beth’s Stories

The Bridge Incident

It’s a day like any other…

You’re walking across one of the more high traffic bridges in your city, (there are only three so it does tend to be quite busy) when you suddenly feel a gentle brush against your arm. That oh-so-gentle sweep that travels across, faintly jostling each arm hair just enough that you can feel the movement. Then, another brush, this time across your left eyebrow. You’re starting to feel a little uncomfortable now, so you reach up and brush away the phantom touch and continue walking as though nothing at all is happening.

The caresses continue, across your other arm this time, so you raise it in the air in an attempt to catch a glimpse of your invisible paramore. As you suspected, there is nothing at all there so you lower your arm and keep walking, rubbing your hands up and down your arms as though trying to cleanse them.

You swipe at something on your cheek, and then your nose — and that’s when you see it. Dangling innocently from your raised elbow, about a foot away. It’s the culprit, a tiny little spider that, along with its hoard of compatriots, had been setting traps and lying in wait for the unsuspecting individual who was fool enough to attempt to walk home.

A casual shake of the arm does nothing to dislodge him so you begin to experiment, trying to determine precisely which body part his ingenious silken thread is attached to.

It’s not the elbow as you first surmised, as waving it around in an imitation of a chicken with a broken wing did nothing other than cause him to twitch slightly while still hanging calmly in mid-air.

You realize that his thread seems to be getting shorter, somehow, despite your efforts to make him return to whence he came. He’s still getting closer and closer.

Beginning to panic now, you start waving your other hand around the vicinity of where you think his thread might be, but maybe it’s the slight breeze, or maybe you’re losing your mind, because you can’t seem to make contact with the silken line of doom.

He’s now within striking distance and you’re running out of time, you have to do something! Squatting on the pavement you lower your arm to the ground and try to encourage him to move on his way. The stubborn little jerk doesn’t care one whit for your feelings and remains attached, mocking you.

Unable to bear the obvious contempt he is projecting at you, you do the impossible. You remain in your squat, lower your elbow to the ground and in one incredible feat of human acrobatics you perform a squatting hop, bringing your foot down beside your elbow and permanently remove the little pest.

As you straighten in triumph, a satisfied grin upon your face, you remember where you are, and how many people have just watched you fight for your life.

Against an opponent that was too small for any of them to see.

After giving the entire population of your city undeniable proof that the drug use is clearly on the rise, what can you do but continue home, head held high. No one else might understand what they have just seen, but you know the honour you have just garnered. In the fight Humans VS Spiders, after all the struggle and torment, you have finally gained yourself another point.

The tides have been turned, they cannot stop us now.

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You: 2
Spiders: 3,567

It’s on.

(In related news: The last time a win of this magnitude was achieved was November 5, 2012)

The Thinker

Part of my endless search to discover a character that fascinates me enough to dedicate an entire story to their antics.

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Her feet were always a little bit dirty, her hair a little out of place and she tended to project an air of general neglect. It wasn’t for lack of caring, upon occasion she would catch a glimpse of herself in a reflective surface, sigh in resignation and fix the misaligned buttons on her slightly oversized shirt. Her hand might make a motion towards the pin falling out of her hair, but then a thought would occur and replace the previous one with such overwhelming ease that she would immediately forget what she was about to do, her hand falling limply to her side, its task unfulfilled.
It wasn’t that she didn’t care; there were simply more important things to focus on.

The White of Innocence

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A tiny droplet of blood glimmered on the sharp point of one of the many protrusions that fiercely guarded the stems. In the pale light of the cloud obscured moon, the world did not easily give up its secrets, but the pale flower buds collected the faint moonlight and cast it back out. From afar the countless buds gleamed like so many stars; an entrancing beacon that had drawn the four men across the valley.

Like sleepwalkers they had stumbled until they stood before the expansive bush, and Wren, the fool that he was, reached out to pluck himself a flower. At his yelp the other three leaned in to inspect the defences of the unusual plant. As they did so, one of the many lights winked out and a sweet floral scent began to fill the air. Wren squinted, sucking on his injured finger. The bud that he had tried to pick was no longer there; he reached out bravely, and his fingers met the soft silk of petals. Petals of a flower fully bloomed, with such deep color that they blended in with the night itself.

The men stared, uncertainty overriding their sense of wonder.
“What is it?” Aoin muttered beneath his breath, the scrawniest and youngest of the three he tended to be the one sacrificed as the scapegoat whenever one of their enterprises went awry, and he had the sinking feeling that this was one of those moments that would landslide into catastrophe. His wife would kill him if he came home with any more bumps and bruises from this trek.

“It’s magic.” said Alaarik. Ever the weaver of tall tales. Determined to see more in the world than it could ever hope to offer. Strong of body, but oh so delicate of heart.

“Don’t be ridiculous. Magic has been gone for so long that no one is sure it existed in the first place. It wouldn’t just materialize back into existence. And if it did, it certainly wouldn’t show up in a little wreck of a place like this.” The final member of the quad gestured at the rotting barn that stood nearby, the only structure on this side of the valley that hadn’t been completely consumed by neglect. His tone was imperious, certain. Lei, always the leader.

As his words fell into the silence, the moon banished the last of the wispy clouds that obscured its view of the events taking place so far below. The sudden light lit the landscape and the bloom, no longer cast in shadow, stood out among the white, a deep velvet red. The color of the droplet of blood that no longer stained the thorn.

Alaarik stumbled back, his feet tripping him up as he attempted to put some distance between himself and the bush.

“I know what these are.” his voice trembled, part in awe and part in stark raving terror, “That,” his finger pointed like a spear at the flower, “Is a rose.”

 

A crack in reality – Ocean’s Edge

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As I walk down the dark beach, the roar of the ocean the only sound I hear, the faint shimmer on the white capped waves the only thing I see; there is nothing to distract me from the power that surrounds me. The earth, the air; it hums with it. You can feel it down in the depths of your bones. I cannot imagine that anyone could stand with me and not sense it. It isn’t the gentle ebb and flow of the tide, it isn’t the gentle lapping of waves upon the shore. It is more than that here. The waves crash and roll, leaping forward; more alive than anything I have felt before.

It is strength, and here in this deep darkness, the moon and stars hidden by the clouds, the fog shrinking the world into what is right in front of you, it is loneliness. A great emptiness that rages and beckons. Terrifying and alluring. A sirens call.

Do you believe in destiny? – “Em”

Nebula

 

“Do you believe in fate?” he asked, a twinkle in his eye.
“Yes… and no.”
“You’re not very good at straightforward answers are you?”
Em just shrugged, a slightly embarrassed smile curling up the corner of her mouth. He leaned forward and kissed her quickly, on that very spot, before she had time to react. Wrapping his arms around her waist he pulled her towards him.
“Tell me then. You can’t just give me a terrible vague answer and leave it at that.”
“I didn’t want to be too long winded.” Which wasn’t entirely true. She didn’t mind talking, it was more concerning that he would think she was ridiculous. Anyone else and she wouldn’t care. But him? His opinion mattered so much more.
“Em. I’m used to it.” She jolted out of her thoughts, realizing for the first time that she was sitting very cozily on his lap. Her face warmed and she looked away, anywhere but at him.
“Fine, but you can’t say I didn’t warn you.” She paused a moment to collect her thoughts, or rather, to attempt to focus them on just one topic.
Wait. Did he kiss me?
She looked at him in shock, but he was the picture of innocence. She must have imagined it. Good grief. She was starting to lose her mind…. well. More anyway. She swallowed the sudden lump in her throat.
“Fate and destiny are tricky things.” She began, not noticing the faint sing-song lilt of her voice.He did, and smiled just a little as her eyes took on a dreamy quality. It was a different look from when she was thinking too hard about too many different things. It was so much more rare, there were no frown lines between her eyes and her lips weren’t pursed in concentration. She looked happily lost within her mind.
“Most people who believe in fate believe that no matter what you do, you will end up where you are fated to be. I think that is simply a lie that people feed themselves to make them feel better about their lives. If there is nothing they can do to change it, because it is destined to be, then they don’t have to try, they don’t have to dream and they certainly don’t have to fight for it. What will be will be.”
“But you don’t believe that?”
“No. I think in every moment of every day we have a choice. Every second we are shaping our lives and there is no one but yourself who determines how your life will turn out.”
“So you don’t believe in destiny?”
“No… I do. I don’t believe we have one all-fated destiny and that we will end up there no matter what we do. Your future is changing with every moment – where you end up cannot possibly be determined beforehand. I do think that there is one fate, one destiny that is meant for each person but most people never manage to discover it. They give up too soon or don’t try at all and at some point that destiny simply disappears from their future. I also think that it’s not always what people expect.”
“What do you mean – not what they expect?”
“Well sometimes when you look at someone, their supposed destiny can seem easy to figure out. Take for example a man who is extremely gifted musically. Those around him see him destined for what they think are great things. Playing for hundreds of thousand of people, gaining the admiration of a nation, fortune, fame… and perhaps all that is well within his reach. He could achieve it, and find himself desired and envied; but his destiny, his real and true destiny might be different. Perhaps he doesn’t chase down riches and the world sees it as a failure, maybe even he sees himself that way. He could have had it all! But time finds him living a simpler life, taking smaller gigs, playing at weddings, in orphanages, half-way homes. And suddenly there he is… not playing for adoration and to increase his own self-worth, but playing to brighten the lives of others. Giving them hope. Inspiration. Love. And being loved for who he is, not what he has.
Which would be the greater destiny?”

There was a long silence until finally she dared to look at him. At her movement he glanced up and smiled, albeit a little sadly. “I think you could change the world with that kind of thinking.” He said quietly.

It was her turn for sadness, “Perhaps, but the world doesn’t like to listen.”

***

“A View From the Alley” – A Short Story

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My life was once a simple thing, all I worried about was food and whether I would have a warm place to sleep. Avoiding getting kicked while in pursuit of either was my greatest challenge. I was free.

I left home rather young you see; I missed out on the easy food, the wacky summer haircuts and maybe some of the love, but I like to think that while I might be a little scruffy around the ears, I’ve made up for it by achieving a worldly form of wisdom.

Oh sure, there were the pretty young ladies that tried to tame me; sure they could drive out my wild side with sweet hugs and baked salmon, but I’d always found I just wasn’t quite ready for that kind of life. At first glance it seems so sweet, but after a while, if you’ve watched like I have, you start to notice things.

A lot of them, they’re not quite right.They start out happy and ready to take on the world, but soon they’re going about their lives all twitchy and agitated, like they just walked out of a room filled with nothing but wall to wall rocking chairs. It didn’t make sense at first, but lately I’ve been getting closer to the true heart of the matter.

In my travels I’ve come across a few spectacular locations to simply watch the world go by; a few choice walls, a perfect sturdy tree branch…. from my vantage points I can see into a thousand individual worlds. Each one different and yet so many plagued by the same tragic disease.

I was running, the day I found my way into one of those perfect ‘just looking’ spots. There had been a slight misunderstanding between myself and a fish vendor, not even really worth mentioning if it hadn’t led to one particularly memorable moment. There I was, perched in the crook of a sturdy tree branch, trying to be as still as I possibly could, when it happened. I looked out, straight ahead of me, to this incredible yellow glow.

It was a portal into a realm I’d never imagined, they say that my kind has a connection with the spirit world, with magic; perhaps that’s what it was. Or maybe it was just my fate.

They performed these rituals, these dances that I didn’t understand, being a lonely wandering tom. But after a time, perched in my tree, I realized that it was something magical called family. There was laughter, and a feeling I knew without a doubt had to be love. It was a heady combination, leaving me reeling like the time I accidentally drank that water that wasn’t water. The two larger ones, I could see they were connected; gentle touches, sweet glances. The smaller, they were cared for, taught – and by their bright smiles I knew that they felt the nearly tangible love that I could see. I left in a daze after the glow went out and the scene faded away, but I now had this longing in my chest I’d never felt before. My wandering life suddenly seeming like a burden and not a spot of luck.

In that moment I was utterly confused by this new view of their world. I couldn’t see how those twitchy, rocking chair people that I was used to, could even be the same species as those within the glow.

I have died a thousand deaths since then. The next night I tried to return to that spot, to that magic, but I was in a such a state when I left that I didn’t pay attention to where my wandering was taking me. I couldn’t find my way back. The streets blurred together, the trees all looked the same; and I knew that leaving that place was the greatest mistake of my life. I should have kept hold of the magic, I should have tried to find out if there was a place for me within that perfect glow. I can’t imagine why I didn’t. I’d give up my freedom for that. Not that I would be any less free, I’d just be choosing something that has the potential to make me happy.

I watch, every chance I can get, looking through the portals that I’ve found, but so far they have all been different. They’re lit by a flickering glow, a dangerous light that comes and goes and changes colors. The walls are filled with movement that isn’t natural and the laughter isn’t the same. There is love, to be sure, but it isn’t all-consuming. It’s tempered by flashes of anger and most often; something I can only describe as detachment. They remind me of myself in that way, never truly embracing each other because no matter how much they might care, their own self is blatantly the most important.

They don’t tell stories either, to bring laughter, they are seduced by the flickering light and let it instead entertain them. Individually, with no interaction. I cannot understand their fascination. I had assumed that nine deaths was my limit, but each time I climb a wall or tree and fail to find what I’ve been searching for, I swear that my heart stops beating, just for a moment.

Curiosity hasn’t been the death of me yet, it has just brought me an awareness I’m not sure I would have asked for if I’d known the longing it would bring. Sometimes I think that ignorance would have been bliss, but I’ve seen the light now – I’ve seen it. There is no going back.

I came across another likely looking tree today, perhaps this is the one.

I know what I’m looking for, I know what I want now. Do you?

Oh come on. You can tell me, it’s not like I can share your secret.

No?

…Cat got your tongue?

Authors Note: This story is an amalgamation of two ideas presented by a friend of mine. I’m pretty sure she never imagined that this was the route I was going to go after I picked her brain – but then again… I was a little surprised myself!

I’d like to continue writing short stories, I would like the practice and if they ensure that I write every day… even better! If you have some random idea you would like to see expanded upon, leave me a comment. You never know, I might just run with it! ;)

Conversations With An Imaginary Best Friend

“The Hairy Chest Conundrum”

She looked at me as though I were an alien, newly arrived on Earth and still struggling to understand the complexities of human society.
“NO, no, no.” She punctuated each rejection of my opinion with a vicious stabbing motion of her right index finger. “Real men have hairy chests!”

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“I disagree.” I shook my head at her lack of comprehension, “You see – If I fall asleep on a man’s chest, I want my biggest concern to be whether or not I drool on him. Not whether or not I’m going to wake up with a yeti imprinted on my cheek.”
“Besides,” I continued, a dreamy smile on my face, “I wouldn’t want the beat of his heart to be muffled by fur.”

She blinked dramatically a few times before responding, “You know we’re talking about humans here, not Wookies… Right?”

/end scene

During “Conversations With An Imaginary Best Friend” I will be writing in 1st person POV. This is mostly an experiment in writing techniques as I typically shy away from 1st person as much as humanly possible. Though I do hope you enjoy these random shorts regardless. ;)

Character Creation: Em (Part 4 – Here be Spiders)

This scene might be slightly familiar to some — but don’t worry, names have been changed to protect the scaredy-cat involved. Em was once again my character of choice…

Spider

Spiiiiiider

The word flickered through her brain like the creepy eight legged monster it portrayed; skittering across her subconscious with a terrifying kind of agility. She paused a moment before turning on the light, unwilling to believe what her mind was trying to tell her. The instant the light switched on she leapt backwards through the doorway, a scream bubbling up in her throat.

It’s bigger. How can it possibly be bigger???

He sat there in the sink, unafraid, knowing that to even consider challenging his dominance over the bathroom she would first need to conquer the crippling fear that prevented her from stepping back over the threshold into the room.

Can’t squish. Too big.

It was amazing how fear could abbreviate her usually long-winded thoughts.

A shudder wracked her body, starting at the hair follicles on the top of her head and working its way downward until there wasn’t a single hair lying flush against her skin. With sudden clarity she bolted for the kitchen and grabbed a bowl. She twisted the hot water tap and began to fill it when she realized that the two cups of liquid it held wouldn’t even phase the monster. Cursing her sleep addled brain she fished around in the bottom cupboard until she came up with the soup pot that she had never had occasion to use. A pot of soup made in this beast would feed at least 37 people. She didn’t even know 37 people.

Fully armed, Em returned to the bathroom, inching forward until she could just see the creature over the rim of the sink. She eyed the tap, knowing that it was far too close to him for her to hope that she might reach it first. Steeling herself, she swung the pot, water arched through the air, glistening with elemental power. It hit the spider with incredible force, dislodging it from its position at the bottom of the sink and sweeping it towards her with tidal strength.

The scream no longer bubbled, it ripped out of her, a primal challenge that managed to do nothing but accurately portray the depth of fear coursing through her veins.

The tidal wave settled as the water slowly drained down, leaving the creature standing, mighty and unphased, on the drain stopper. He hadn’t even had the decency to curl up into a spidery ball and show a smidgen of concern.

Hands shaking with the intensity of the confrontation, she returned to the kitchen and began to re-fill her weapon of choice.

He never should have been able to withstand that much water.

Visions of the spider being swept up in the water, carried over the rim of the sink and landing at her feet, played out before her. Unwilling to risk propelling him any closer, Em was much more careful with her second attack. This time she only emptied half of the pot but it didn’t do so much as dislodge the creature from its perch.

It’s inhuman.

She blinked.

Of course it is. Idiot.

The remainder of the water hit the sink with a great deal more force, once again dislodging the spider for a wild ride that ended with him swirling up the side of the sink, only to settle right back on the top of the drain plug.

If her scream was a whimper, at least there was no one around to witness her shame.

Collecting herself she filled the pot for a third time, taking a deep breath as she inched back towards the bathroom door. With a mighty screech she launched the entire contents of the container directly towards the spider, howling in victory as his fat body was finally forced down the drain.

With speed she didn’t know she had, Em dropped the pot where she stood and lunged toward the tap, wrenching it as far open as she could. After a moment’s hesitation she twisted the tap from lukewarm to scalding.

He would have done the same to me.

Leaving the steaming water to continue pouring down the drain, she let her shaking legs give way and collapsed beside the pot, giving it an affectionate pat.

I am king. None can defeat me!

A gentle touch against her nose had her on her feet and out of the room faster than a blink. Swiping frantically against her face, her heart stopped for a moment as her hand came away wet.

Oh god, I squished it on my nose.

But there was nothing on her hand but a faint smear of water. Confused she turned back to the washroom and took a moment to really look at the room. Moisture clung to every conceivable surface, there were puddles on the floor and there, from the ceiling – a drip.

The water from the tap became a roaring in her ears as she surveyed the damage to the once pristine room. Suddenly aware of a chill in the air she glanced down to discover that her pajamas were completely soaked through.

What… happened? …What have I done?!

***

Character Creation: Em (Part 3 – Thoughts)

Em (which could be short for Emily, Emma or not an abbreviation at all – I haven’t decided yet), seems to be sticking around… Her story has only just begun, but I’m having a whole lot of fun delving into her mind. 

This won’t be the last you see of her.
*** 
 
Lake
It was peaceful here; the wind, the seagulls, the sound of the water gently lapping against the stones. She let herself get as comfortable as possible amidst the rocks that made up the little peninsula, let herself relax and just watched. The sun glinted off the water, crystalline and beautiful. The sky a blue so deep it took her breath away.
I’m only robbing myself when I can’t see the beauty around me.
She knew it was true. Deep down she always had. But when the world seems like it’s falling apart, beauty is too hard to find.
Liar.  
Her treacherous mind just couldn’t let her get away with anything.
You’ve just been giving up. It’s easier to tell yourself there is nothing you can do than to try to change your circumstances.
Her forehead creased in irritation and she tried to focus on the sole fluffy white cloud floating lazily across the sky.
You’ve convinced yourself that being alone prevents you from being happy. As if you only have worth when there is someone standing beside you. If you can’t see the worth in yourself how the hell do you expect anyone else to see it?
She hated it when she was right.

***