The Ring

Just thought I’d try a little writing exercise, taken from an online monthly writing competition. I didn’t made the deadline to submit but enjoyed the process and story enough to continue. The only rule I didn’t keep was the 500-word limit – I think I’m roundabout 530. Close enough, I figure.

RULES:
Your story must take place at a PARTY of some kind.
Your story must include a BUTTON.
Your story must include the following sentence (which you will complete with one or more words): THE AIR WAS THICK WITH _______.

THE RING
The opulence was overwhelming. His stolen tux fit him like a second skin, and he could tell from the appreciative glances he was getting from other masked partygoers that he wore it well. Still, he had never before moved in such proximity to people like this, and found it unnerving.

Gorgeous women tossed manes of perfumed hair as they danced in a riot of impossible colours and fabrics. Men executed expert footwork as naturally as walking, slick as panthers. The air was thick with different scents, flowered perfumes and spiced colognes, mingling with dizzying potency.

The thief swallowed. He could throw an arm out into this flurry of wealth, quick as a fox, and walk away with something, anything, that could feed him for a week or more. The thought of meat for every meal made his stomach roar.

*

All of a sudden: his mark. The thief forced his coiled muscles to relax, and leaned into the pillar with an exaggerated nonchalance, gazing out into the rain-soaked night as if he were bored and wishing to get away. Sure enough…

“Drink?”

His mark held a shimmering glass to him. Beyond the mask, the green eyes were alight with merriment and a touch too much alcohol. The hand that offered the drink bore an ornate ring crusted with tiny precious jewels. They threw light into the champagne, greens, reds, blues glimmering in the liquid like restless fish. But the thief knew his craft well – it was not to the ring he looked, but into the eyes of its bearer. An opportunity like this was rare, months in the planning. He would not allow his desire, his hunger to betray him.

He accepted the drink, bestowing upon his mark a lazy half smile of thanks. The deception had begun.

*

Three hours later – long past the time the thief had allowed himself to be done with the trickery and away with his treasure – found the two of them sitting in one of the quieter rooms of the mansion. Partygoers swirled in and out from time to time, but largely they were left alone. Their glasses never emptied, topped up by waitstaff, silent and invisible as any thief.

As the hours waned, the masks had come off, the bowties and jacket buttons had come undone. They laughed easily and often and the conversation, like their glasses, never ran dry. If the thief felt any disappointment, it was only as if from a great distance: there would be no theft tonight.

*

Dawn had just started to thin the night when they parted ways. Plans to reconnect were made but the thief was all too aware of the lie that made those plans impossible to keep. There was a kiss goodbye, sweet and lingering, and a tight embrace.

And then he was alone.

Suddenly chilled, the thief thrust his hands into his pockets and felt his fingers close around something small, heavy and cold. The ring, catching even the nascent morning light, shone like a thing of magic against his palm.

Hunched against the cold, the thief began the long, slow walk home, wondering at what he had gained that night, and all he had lost.

ICE

(Written a while ago but probably just as – if not more – relevant today…)

Ice Heart, by Happy Tea

The block of ice was determined.

It could survive – even in this heat. If it just gathered its resolve and stayed frigid, things would be alright. The sun would be a forgotten enemy, and maybe they could one day even be friends, laughing at silly conflicts frozen in the past.

The block of ice was determined. …But it really was a hot day.

The sun smiled and the ice block started to perspire. There was no need to smile back. Frigid it would stay. …But what a gorgeous smile. So full of warmth and light and happiness.

The ice block was fighting now, feeling itself start to drip shamefully. This was no good.

And the sun continued to smile that heated, loving smile. Please stay, it seemed to say.

But the ice block got the goodbye it wanted. The sun was fading from view; they would soon be parted forever.

But the sun had its victory too. Because as it winked out of sight, all that it left behind was a slight chill and puddle of forgiving water.

Meat

The pigs wait. Fat pink hides slap against one another as they jostle in the heated shadow of their pen. There is no sound outside but death stagnates the air in their nostrils. And when the door opens, panic aids their capture.

Out front, a woman wrinkles her nose at a smell no one but she picks up. The unbearable stench pulls bile into the back of her throat. The Ashram owner welcomes her to his home of tranquility and tells her there will be pork for lunch.

She runs out to vomit as another throat is slit.

And the Ashram sits, bathed in a constant cooling breeze, pretending to be at peace.

An affair to remember

She aches for me, and I for her.

The day passes in a haze of impatience for light to leave the world to darkness. For as soon as the shadows fall, my little girl runs to take me to her bed.

And under crisp, rustling sheets we watch each other: she, as I dance for her within my glass confine, in all the glory of my fluttering illumination; and I, as her entranced eyes grow heavy with sleep and finally close on the day.

It is a love unlike any other that I have ever known.

Rufus

My sometime imaginary lover, he rocks me on the violin. He calls me baby for hours, drawing out the word endlessly; playing on a libido already aching for lazy summertime lovemaking. And he makes poetry of chocolate, of little sisters, of circus magic and cigarettes while I only half-listen, and smile.

* Written while listening to Baby by Rufus Wainwright