Wilhelmina Winters: Six

As usual, Wil dreamed that night. She usually had vivid, exciting dreams of superhuman abilities and daring escapes. Lately, though, she’d had recurring visions of walking through a dark place trying to find something she desperately wanted.

This night, Wil had on a romantically glorious, long, dark cloak with a hood. She could see herself and see from herself, peering through a dark and misty fog twisting between trees in a fantastical woodland. Her elegant, pale hands drifted from the cloak to part branches and leaves as she wandered.

As her mind drifted closer to wakefulness, she strove one last time to see whatever tantalizing object it was that was her goal.

Instead, she was jolted to consciousness by the abrupt aural slap of her morning alarm. Quickly, Wil turned it off and sat up. She stretched, then searched around for her favorite clothes to get dressed: dark jeans, dark purple hooded shirt, black scarf, long black coat. She pulled on her favorite striped socks, and then the boots with a faulty sole. Last, she pulled her dark hair back from her face in a messy ponytail.

Tiptoeing and sometimes squeaking down the hallway to her parent’s room, she saw through his open door that Jakob had fallen asleep in his clothes -again, with his homework as bedcovers -again. He was snoring slightly.

Wil gently pushed her way into her parents’ room and knelt by the bed to awaken her mother. Quietly, without bothering her father, she nudged Cynthia’s shoulder.

“Mom, it’s time for our walk,” She whispered near Cynthia’s ear. Her soft breath slightly disturbed her mother’s fine hair. Wil saw it glint faintly in the ambient light of the parking lot through the nearby window blinds.

Cynthia stretched slightly and opened her eyes a small slit. She stretched more, then curled into a protective ball as she was struck by a coughing fit. To her side, Rob rolled over in his sleep to lay a protective arm around her body.

The fit subsided, and Wil’s mother carefully set Rob’s arm aside and sat up. She smiled a pleasant smile. She allowed Wil to help her into her boots and stood up to don her coat. They left the bedroom to the soft “Eee” of Wil’s left shoe, and walked down the hall and out the apartment door in similar fashion.

Outside, a light fog muted the world. Their footfalls were dull and echoes came back hushed. Wil intentionally breathed into the mist and was happy at the white cloud she made.

“How beautiful,” Cynthia whispered, then hunched over to cough again.

After she recovered, they started on their morning walk around the complex. The familiar, dull blocks were relieved somewhat in features by eerie fog.

Wil referred to it as a promenade; her mother as a walkabout. When she had first been recommended to exercise daily, Cynthia encouraged Wil’s input to make the routine less monotonous. Wil found no delight in pretending herself elsewhere whenever she had time with her mother, however. She felt an increasing need to savor every real moment with her mother they had.

Sometime during the second circuit, as she ducked under a naked tree branch, Wil was struck with the realization that this exercise mirrored her dream of the night. Mentally awakened by this thought, she looked around to see if there was some clue or object of interest to help answer the lingering, questioning feelings she’d had.

Her only reward was the usual tall, dull blocks of buildings, the gray sidewalk twisting between them, the dark and ugly trees, and the dirty parking lots. Wil felt frustrated. Patience was low on her list of character traits.

Wil and her mother completed a third cycle and returned to the apartment. They went inside, and over to the couch. Wil helped her mother off with her boots, then covered her legs with Cynthia’s favorite soft blanket.

Before letting Wil go back to her room to get ready for school, Cynthia held her arm and said, “Tell me where you go when you get back tonight.” She smiled with genuine love, and Wil returned it with her own.

 

Continued from Five.
Keep reading to Seven.

Mixed Media

Shade the negative space of a lone woman;
Daub the dying sun’s embers behind her,
Then soliloquise of heartbeats echoing sunsets.
Charcoal, paint, poetry.

Commit her uplifted hand to a memory-keeper.
Film her swirling hair against swirled light,
Harmonize with deep wind-flutes of regret.
Photograph, film, symphony.

Beat softly to echo the oboes’ cry
And pulse sorrow through interpretation,
As patrons study her angles solemnly.
Rap, dance, art in 3-D.

Feel her dramatic, poignant tears.
See Earth’s brilliant display at days-end.
Then turn, and show us what you see.
Myriad media, expressed endlessly.

C.S.I.

Two a.m. was never an easy time to go to a job. But here they were again, hedged by police tape walls and squinting in the dark illuminations of floodlights.

“It don’t look good, Hurles.” He dragged at his e-cig, blew the filtered, no-emission, smokeless, digitally-altered remains of what may have been fumes into the air as dramatically as he could, and gave his partner a serious look.

Julie Hurlesman turned to the prostrate female form on the floor before rolling her eyes, to give him his illusion of dignity. “You’re right, Tray.” She responded cooly. “I don’t see any silver lining in this case.”

Richard Tracy shrugged away from the wall he’d been moodily supporting and effectively shrugged his oversized lapels higher round his neck. Finally abandoning the e-cig to one of many pockets within the long coat, he instead used his right hand to pull his hat brim even tighter down his brow. Satisfied with the final results, he hunched over to stand behind the squatting Hurles.

“Tray,” Hurles said with a decade of patience, “You’re blocking the spotlight again.”

Tray pretended concentration on their assignment as he sidestepped a foot to her left. She pretended not to notice, then intently tried to eliminate distractions as she began her usual examination.

Swirling dust motes and remnant e-cig particles outlined the shadow puppet hand orchestrations of her careful, thorough search. Tray looked on, more distracted in his somber thoughts of how he could finally get Hurles to use the nickname he kept asking her to, instead of the one his mother always used.

“Aha!” Hurles whispered. Tray immediately drew closer, even forgetting to flail his coattails behind him as he squatted next to her elbow. Hurles never made a verbal exclamation unless she’d found something really important.

“What?” He asked excitedly, also forgetting to use his gruff voice.

Infinitely meticulously, Hurles lifted the damp, lanky, unwashed locks from the pale face of the prone body before her. Damp eyelashes bordered a bottomless pool of darkest sadness. A deep brown iris contracted slightly at its sudden exposure to the glaring light beyond Hurles and Tray. The lashes slowly closed and reopened in calculated effect of misery. The rest of the long, drawn face held its agonized expression.

Tray took in a surprised breath. This was important. “You don’t mean -?” He began, turning to Hurles and regaining some of his former composure by raising his thick eyebrows over a fierce glare of suspense.

“Yes, I do,” Hurles told him, meeting his eye and successfully keeping her expression both neutral and normal for the circumstances.

They simultaneously moved their faces slightly to watch, as the woman on the floor heaved the heaviest sigh in human existence. She lifted just enough to turn away from the two investigators, her hair falling naturally from Hurles’ fingers like rain-soaked tree fronds. She lay still once again.

Hurles withdrew her hand, and unobtrusively wiped it on her jeans. She stood. Tray followed suit.

“Another one,” Tray concluded in a deep, gravelly voice. “A victim of her own emotions.”

Wilhelmina Winters: Five

Wil watched the murmured conversation between her parents out of the corner of her eye, as she put her father’s beer and her mother’s special milk into the fridge. She noted her mother’s happy, tired smile as he dredged up some anecdote from work. A shadow of happiness reflected in his eyes at her responses.

Wil smiled sadly herself, and stooped to get a pan from the cupboard. As she straightened, she saw Jakob briefly pause in pulling textbooks and papers from his backpack and look toward the couch. He, too, was touched by a glimpse of memory and looked almost kind.

Cynthia coughed, and worry creased itself at the edges of everyone’s short serenity. Wil heard her father rumble a question, putting his hand on her mother’s arm. She nodded, and laid back on the couch. “Thank you, Rob.” She said tiredly.

Wil’s father looked over at Wil to ensure she was getting dinner started, then he straightened and clunked in his heavy work boots to the fridge. He extracted a can, opened it, and took a short gulp as he stood in the open door. Wil saw him sadly shake his head at the nearly bare interior, then close the door.

She studied her father as she opened the soup and poured it into the pan. She had always admired how hard-working he was, despite having a slight build. He also rarely showed anger, though life was serving him so many stressful responsibilities.

She sighed. It was difficult work being a professor of archeology, saving ancient relics from greedy collectors. Wil could hear his boots echoing -not across a kitchen floor, but around the spacious, musty interior of an abandoned temple.

He moves stealthily through cobwebs and shadows. He nearly steps on a trap -but, no! Rob Winters recognizes those carvings just in time and turns quickly away from harm.

He draws closer and closer to the treasure chamber, slits of sunlight panning across this careful explorer and his determined path. He turns a corner and-

*Kuh-huh* *khuh* *khuh!* Wil’s mother’s cough brought Wil’s mind unwillingly back to her apartment kitchen. Just as well, because she had been standing at the counter with the soup can still suspended (now empty) over the pan.

Luckily, Wil’s father and step-brother hadn’t noticed. She slid the soup onto the stove and turned the burner to medium. After tossing the empty can onto the counter, Wil realized her mother was watching her.

“Yes, Mom?” She asked.

Cynthia smiled at Wil and crooked a finger to bring her closer. Wil happily skipped over to her mother’s side, her boot squeaking at every other step. She plunked down on the floor and looked up in anticipation at her mother’s loving face. Cynthia smiled at Wil’s exuberance, one of the few who did.

“I just wanted to hear what adventures you had at the grocery store, Wil.” She encouraged.

Wil looked around carefully, but Jakob was lost in a mathematics problem and her father had gone down the hall. All clear. She cleared her throat.

“Well: the snow danced like crystals and my breath like a cloud.” Wil tried to speak slowly but, as usual, forgot in the excitement of retelling her adventures. “The castle gates opened at my arrival,” she continued, “and I took a curious vehicle to transport my goods in. I wore my regal sash of black with my magic imp boots. My trumpeters lined my way to The Hallway of Doors..”

 

Continued from Four.
Keep reading to Six.

Open Book

Message_1500849950052At the time we meet a person, we have caught him mid-story -perhaps on page 322, paragraph 5. He has read all that came before because it is his life, but you have not. You are only looking at that page, and mentally writing your own thoughts entirely for pages 1-321. You’ve even supplied your own prologue, prequels, and alternate series set in the same world.

I recommend this approach for someone who will likely take advantage of you. You may be three hundred pages in; but know, from other stories of scowling street stalkers, that caution would be wise.

That aside, let’s remember that a new person is a new chance for both in the encounter. He and we are perusing people, and the future has not been written yet.

Metamorphic

When a person makes a child, there is at least a small part of the father and the mother in him. These pieces are not always the best ones, but I love how they suddenly sparkle in the light of conversation or in that left-side dimple smile.

I love talking to an aunt with the same laugh as her brother and the same nervous smile as her sisters. I enjoy seeing a child’s expressions -then, meeting her parents and noting that same crinkle at the corner of the eyes or similar hand gestures when outlining a point.

We’re like a stone formed from the pressures of life, with bits of our ancestors glinting here and there. That is our makeup, and our formation overall depends on the loving people who raise us, interact with us, and marry us.