starting with “It was a dark and stormy night.”
it was a dark and stormy night. then a cold and rainy day. a snowy night followed by a bright but cold day then an icy night, and on through the days and nights of the year, while Ed stood in his front doorway and watched the days pass like bad special effects in a cheap made-for-tv movie. season followed season and year followed year, while Ed checked his phone, trying to gauge how fast time was passing outside his grandfather’s old farmhouse.
he was dumbfounded enough by the impossibility of it all, so it was slow going, but eventually Ed pegged it at about seven-and-a-half minutes a year. he didn’t feel the cold or the rain, the wind or the sun… in fact, his central air-conditioning kept running like it was the same day he’d opened the front door to find time flying by – a warm May afternoon.
it was hypnotizing, and Ed didn’t feel too concerned about the fate of his wife or children because things in dreams – or hallucinations – didn’t affect the real world, and he lived fully in the real world, so there was no doubt what he was seeing wasn’t real in the least.
the houses in the neighborhood aged, quick flickers of motion evidently people going to and fro, and still Ed watched, and wondered which of the drugs he’d done in his youth was bringing him this flashback.
finally, growing bored by it all, Ed stepped outside.
write about a haunted character.
empty spaces on the walls where pictures had hung.
it was the first thing she noticed every time she came home.
he’d left most of the furniture. they had been her decorating choices anyway, but every picture he’d been in, he’d taken with him, leaving not a trace of his image anywhere in the house, every little bit of him gone, not a sock under the bed, not a prescription bottle in the cabinet, not a food he liked that she didn’t in the cupboard. the garage was spotless except for what she stored out there, and that wasn’t much.
she wasn’t sure what had gone so terribly wrong. they’d had their issues, just like any other couple, but one day he’d gone from loving-her-and-exasperated-by-her to just-plain-gone. everything had been fine in the morning, and when she’d come home that evening it was as if he’d never lived there at all. she couldn’t even find their marriage certificate, their joint checking account was a single account, only her name… she’d look at the mortgage papers but that was useless as she’d been buying the house when they’d met, he wasn’t involved in that.
he’d even taken the smell of him, leaving the house smelling of her patchouli candles and Febreeze.
later that night her eyes went blank and unfocused when she found one of his combs at the very back of a bedside table drawer. dressed only in her nightgown she took it out the back door, across the two acre field to the ravine, and threw it in, on top of the his body, and everything else that had been his.
she wondered how her feet had gotten so dirty, rinsed them off, and went to bed.
in the daylight, it wasn’t so bad. scenic, actually. a ruined church in a country full of ruins, a country where the scars of war weren’t covered up with ugly concrete bandages that pretended to be schools and offices and stores and churches.
a country that wanted to remember.
at night, the ruins took on a different tone. the church was a place where people gathered, and mourned their dead, and wrote the names of the dead and messages to their departed loved ones on scraps of paper they threw into garbage barrel fires, to be carried up to the heavens as ash. the people spoke their own language, quietly, in whispers, and prayed their conquerors had no spies in the crowd.
not that it was likely, given the differences in their appearance, but no one could completely discount the stories of humans working with ‘them’.
and when daylight returned, there were their overlords, asking in the politest of terms if the people would really prefer ugly concrete bandage buildings, put up free of charge, new and modern and convenient and comfortable.
and the people smiled politely, and said, “thank you, but no.” they returned to the crumbling remains of their home, and tended their little gardens, and their flocks of sheep and herds of goats, and pointedly looked away when the bright shiny trucks came through their towns, with free food, and supplies, and medicine, and books.
and when someone died of malnutrition, or disease, or exposure, or simple old age, their names were added to the remembered war dead, names on paper, thrown into fires.
listening to: a very quiet and peaceful house
mood: good, albeit very barely awake