Beautiful Eyes

He appeared to her through thin feathers of smoke from her lips. She would have ignored him, but her gaze had already, unwittingly, acknowledged his presence.

Over the soft jazz playing from the speakers in the bar, he asked if he could join her. Without much of an answer, shoulders lifted in a casual shrug, she watched him take the stool next to her – his expression one of unabashed relief to have company.

She stubbed out her cigarette in a metal ashtray while he stuck a hand out, signaling the bartender whom sidled over with a broad smile as he inquired what they’d have to drink.

Without asking her what she wanted, he ordered two glasses of rum and coke. He caught the way she blinked, lips pressed together in wordless intrigue, and sheepishly admitted he didn’t have the guts for the harder stuff. He was sure he caught the first glimpses of a smile through her nonchalance.

They clinked their glasses together and his curiosities about her were met with a demure vagueness.  Most women didn’t often waltz into bars alone, unless in search of carnal indulgence. But she was only here for the music and ambience. That was all she gave him, which he didn’t mind. He liked the types that weren’t so easy to figure out.  

When she said nothing more, he offered his first name as a gesture of familiarity. But as her eyes pulled him within its russet rippling, he gave her more than just his name.

He told her of his job as an accountant and how things had started falling apart since his divorce from his wife. How she was fighting him for full-custody of their kids. Jamie and Alex; a twin boy and girl. He pulled their picture from his wallet and she could almost see where his thumbprint had engraved affectionate traces over their sweet faces.

His eyes smoked over with emotion and she touched his arm, cutting in gently to ask if he’d like to go somewhere else. Without his lips shaping the obvious answer, she saw his willingness in the smooth lick of his lips.

He followed her from the bar, apologizing that he didn’t have a car. She waved aside his apology, spinning her own car key around her index finger as she winked at him and led him to her vehicle parked on the side of the road where the streetlight flickered. 

Her home bore her reflection. Alluring in its simplicity and odd mystery. She didn’t have much furniture and unlike his home, strewn with hints of his family life, her only interest was hung in frames of abstract art.

In her bedroom, she offered him a can of beer and they talked for a bit more until she finally seduced him with a deep kiss and climbed atop him.

He was in the throes of orgasm when he tasted blood in his mouth, eyes flashing open to see her smiling through splashes of scarlet. He grabbed at the gashed flesh of his throat, desperate to stop the bleeding. Choked on confusion and fear. And all she did was lean down, small breasts pressed to his chest as she cooed that everything was okay. She kissed the corner of his mouth then pressed her lips to his eyes.

Such beautiful eyes of verdant sorrow that were now all hers.

***

To Know the Heart

Shadowed
Within onyx pupils
Keyholes swirl at the center
Of every marbled iris
Locking away
The true intentions
Lying at the threshold
Of every human heart
If only
It were possible
To possess the perfect key
That could split apart
The meaning
Behind every beguiling smile
And reveal
The honest murmurs
Traipsing every cordial word
Or is it sad
That it’s become
So hard to trust
The blooms of a smile
That could veil
Thorns laced with poison
Ready to attack
When we are most vulnerable?

The Sound of You

Paradise becomes possible

In the colors of your voice

Splattering through

The monochrome prism

Of my world

With blinding light

More radiant

Than the primrose flushes

Of dawn

Streaking the horizon

And could I sink

Within the velvet embrace

Of your laughter

I’d tuck myself away

Like a child

Cocooned in abundant sheets

Clinging

To the halcyon promise

Shaped to the sound

Of my name

On your lips

An Evening Epiphany

On nights like this—

Supine beneath

The emerald trails

Of an angel’s dance

Swirls of aurora flow

In tandem

With the delicate flutter

Of a faint song

Echoed

In the heart of a music box—

I realize

This is not where I belong

On this earth

Filled with misery;

Its unrelenting yearning

Unseen burdens

Bruising the spines

Of those like me

Awaiting the freedom

That calls to us

Beyond the cosmic gloaming

Losing A Friend

Connections bittersweet;
Unsuspecting bonds
Worm into our hearts
Building nests
Within the pulsing chambers
Until staccatos of reticence
Flutter into
The dulcet cadence
Of trust
And it becomes easy
To hold them there
As though
They always belonged–
Fettered
To the roots of our soul

But sometimes
There is a rupturing
Hazardous and disruptive
Like the unbidden
Flails and shift of the earth
Dislodging
The myriad nests
Until they collapse
Some only snagged
And preserved
On stubborn branches
Of a mutual
Dogged will
While vestiges

Of those lost
Are remembered
On the hollow whispers
Rustling through
The chasms lefts behind

Unloved

Am I

Not trying hard enough

To let you see

Beyond the folds

Of these frayed seams

Keeping me

From falling apart?

With razor-tipped talons

And an indelicate touch

I bear the bruises

Of your thorned caress

While the candied petals

From your lips

Silence every

Tremulous breath—

Swallowed protests

To tear my flesh

From the deep hooks

Of your love—

But perhaps

I’m the one

Gazing through

Translucent scales

Unwilling to accept

That perhaps

You never truly loved me

At all

To the One Left Behind

A box of pebbles

And cracked seashells

Broken echoes

Of an ocean lullaby

Remnants

Of pleasant memories

Rippling the dark sands

Washed of the dawn’s

Footprints

That had once lingered

In harlequin flushes

On the serene shores

Where her heart

Had touched the sun —

Such a pitiable thing now

Like a lost

Wandering orphan

Without a name

Without a place to belong

The Roper’s House

The last house on Elmers Road was like a hideous scab that wouldn’t go away. But for whatever reason, it was a hoarded relic attracting intrigue and scorn. Weathered strips of yellow tape still hung around the property with its unkempt hem of browning foliage. Five years ago, Mr. Roper had slaughtered his family within those brick walls before slotting the shotgun between his teeth.

Adriana had been at school the day it happened. She’d returned home to chaotic flashes of red and blue, screeching sirens and the banshee wails of neighbors. Her mother had rushed her upstairs with an urgent instruction not to leave her room. From her window, she had watched wildfires of grief and shock rage below; had felt panic flood her chest and mouth with a metallic bitterness.

But time had boxed away the nausea associated with those memories and now, her gaze lingered on the looming scar that wouldn’t allow any of them to forget what had happened. Back then, she’d thought the house was beautiful and pristine, its walls colored in a deep, eternal blush. And the flowerpots lining the porch had always blossomed with such lovely flowers. The two upper windows, too, had seemed like smiling eyes.

She craned her neck to look at the twin frames of glass now; they didn’t gleam with transparent pride — caked over in years of dust.

Adriana had heard several rumors about the Ropers since then. Of the boring sort. How Mr. Roper had been involved in the occult. That the family had partaken in blood rituals. That malevolent spirits roamed the empty halls. But there was no suffocating tension she could feel, standing this close to the house.

Without thinking, Adriana had already covered the weedy walkway to the Roper’s porch. She glanced over her shoulder, saw her house roof eyeing her from a block away. It wouldn’t hurt to take a look inside, after all this time. No-one could hurt her and it was still only a little after five in the afternoon.

The door winked at her and with the toe of her boot, she pushed it open further. She looked over her shoulder again. The wind ambled the empty street. She slipped inside and looked around the hallway, cast in a dim shadow, almost emptied of all its furniture.

A low and heavy breath whispered from her lips, gaze swinging from one side of the corridor to the next as she walked further into the house. Now the silence was unsettling. There was a family portrait on the wall leading to the kitchen and she stopped in front of it. Mr. and Mrs. Roper were standing with their twin girls between them, relaxed smiles on their faces. A normal family, as far as the picture told, but there were always secrets tucked in the seam of every smile.

She walked around the corner and stopped dead in her tracks when she caught the shift of something from the corner of her eye. Like a blurred motion she caught the tail-end of. There was nowhere the figure could have gone, except inside the kitchen wall. And Adriana was sure she wasn’t seeing things.

She licked her lips and took a breath. Probably it was just in her head. An uneasy bout of paranoia that she shook off with another deep sigh. It was better to go home now. She turned to retrace her steps. A scream exploded from her throat as a monstrous figure barreled towards her. The front door slammed shut.

There was no-one on the street. Just the wind and the fading glow of sunlight on Elmers Road.

***

Monochrome World

A look through Jared’s photo albums revealed endless spreads of monochrome. A world rinsed in gray undertones as if they were ancient stills he’d collected from old newspapers.

Megan knew all his photos were recent, part of some personal project he’d mentioned to her briefly, but the beauty of his shots was subdued by the absence of colors. Even the photos which captured candid glitters of mirth could have been breathtaking, if they weren’t misted in colorless light.

She’d never been the type to criticize his artistic choices, but she did think his photos would’ve been better as he’d captured them. In the raw colors that bled all around them. This had nothing to do with her own aesthetic biases (perhaps a little, she admitted to herself) but life was meant to be seen as it was.

That was art in its most natural sense – a variegated mess that oftentimes merged and contrasted to create a striking blend of colors that had yet to be named. The world had given them that special magic and Jared had removed it completely from his work.

She was careful not to shuffle around too much in his darkroom as he developed his latest set of photographs. Within the soft red hues around them, she looked at the hung photos and trailed her finger along one’s edge. Two goats, surrounded by a stretch of pastureland, looked forward. She’d thought it prudent not to question him too much on the reasons for this new project, but the question already dove from her lips before she could restrain it.

“Why black and white?”

Jared was slightly bent over his workstation, voice low with his focus, “Huh?”

“Your pictures, why do you only do them in black and white?”

He glanced over his shoulder at her then, brows pinched as if the question was a bit odd, “I think the quality is better this way. What, you don’t like them?”

Megan shrugged, turning to face him, “They’re beautiful shots, but don’t you think they’re a bit dull?”

Jared smiled at how childlike she almost sounded in her curiosity, “Of course not. It’s a popular style of photography for a reason.” He started to shift back and forth from the table to the line where he hung the photos to dry.

“Colors aren’t bad, but sometimes you miss things in a picture bursting with them.” She gave him some space when he inched closer to her, pinning the last of his set. “Sometimes it’s distracting. When the colors are silent, you can focus properly on the whole. There are details you wouldn’t see otherwise. Layers that show you how complex and deep the natural world is and…I’ve lost you, haven’t I?”

Megan blinked up at him then. Into the sharp grey of his eyes, full of the same complexity she felt he was speaking of. She shook her head and closed the distance between them.

“I think I’m beginning to understand now.”

***

This story was inspired by My Black and White World ✨ Such beautiful pictures.