The Final Bullet

“I summon you, the beasts of war!”

One soldier suddenly screamed into the darkening lazuline skies nearly obscured by smoke and flame surrounding them as they huddled in a found trench.

The tokens that had moved around maps in the plotting and paper rehearsal of their campaign in the sterility of the general’s compound, had not lived up to its gritty reality.  If 100 things could have gone wrong, it seemed that 90 of them had. Watson again pushed away the mental reminder that this mission would be his final bullets for a while; he would be on leave in a few days. Having been back-turned twice, this mission was one for the Fail column. Those thoughts did him no good now when the few of them left were simply trying to survive long enough to report this failure of a mission.

“Janssen! What the bloody hell are you doing? Shut it!” Another soldier, Corporal Murray, hissed.

With his rifle raised overhead to the sky in defiant punctuation, Lieutenant Janssen continued his rant.

“Come! Cast your shadows upon my flesh. You think me afraid? Come then! Come find a gallant feast of fear in which to dine and learn that Janssen is a poor man’s buffet indeed for I am not ear-marked to be such food stuffs!”

Captain Watson’s head spun from Janssen’s outcry, to Lieutenant Rupali,  a meter on his opposite side in a clear do you hear this? expression before they ducked from a spray of stone and debris from another blast close to where they were. Blasts that were getting closer and closer as the enemy closed in.

Captain Watson wished he were surprised. He had always felt there was something off with Janssen but had kept it to himself. The man was a decent soldier, if high strung. When Janssen, what they at the time had thought was jokingly, fancied himself a modern-day Shakespearean tragedy in the making and started to sprinkle Elizabethan speech into his words, Watson knew he was no longer the only one who had begun to worry as signs of that off-ness increased. It explained Janssen’s language as the mission and his mind started unraveling. 

They have been on the run for three days straight as they wove their way out of the gauntlet of enemy territory. At times there was no choice but to quickly fish through the belongings of the slain, picking up ammunition and whatever supplies from the fallen who no longer needed them. Leave no man behind, an abandoned concept in their desperation for survival. Watson felt the weight from the collected dog tags of those he could get to that he carried in his med pack.

He knew they were so close to being saved. Their last radio communique before it was shot out had them no more than a couple of kilometers from the rescue approaching on the other side.  The last thing they needed was attention drawn to themselves. It was clear Lieutenant Janssen had not got that message as another grenade blast went off far too close to them. Watson knew the next one would strike true. They had to abandon their position.

“Come you spilled seed! A worthiness for only the lead of my bullets to eat!”

There was no ambiguity about it, Janssen had gone mad; the screaming man rising to his feet now put them all at risk.

“Jesus Christ! He’s going to get us killed!” Rupali swung his rifle around, his intention clear.

It was Rupali’s outcry that made Janssen turn and lock eyes with his fellow lieutenant. Watson and Rupali knew then that any chance at communion with Janssen was gone a moment before he turned and started screaming at a run when he was brought down.

“No!” Watson yelled as he scrambled out of the trench, the doctor already swinging his med pack around for use.

Some part of him registered the increased firepower as his people began to engage the enemy to give him a chance. He ignored it as he made his way to Janssen.   

He dropped to his knees, his mind already in medic mode as he began to triage. It took a moment before it registered that he was too far from his patient. It was another moment before the agonizing pain that caused him to drop his med pack from the bullet that tore through him made itself known.

But Watson knew it was bad. Very bad.

He did not notice that their rescue had finally arrived; his thoughts as he slipped into unconsciousness: Please, God, let me live. Don’t let this be the final bullet.


The Sunday Whirl  | Wordle 509
Language, Eat, Fish, Flame, Feast, Saved, Risk, Unraveling, Spray, Shadow, Stone, Off

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie | Wordle #249
Gallant, Ear-Marked, Sterility, Fail, Stone, Plotting, Rehearsal, Punctuation, Ambiguity, 100, Back-Turned, Communion

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie |First Line Friday: July 16, 2021
“I summon you, the beasts of war!”

A Cuppa Can’t Fix Everything

A perfectly brewed cup of tea can’t fix everything.

Words oft said by his French grandmother flittered through his mind.

Though it is surprising what a good cuppa in good china can help get you through.

Though normally a coffee drinker, sometimes grand-mere’s advice had its merits.  The aroma of the brew wafted from the bone porcelain cup he delicately held. The translucent teacup was over a century old. It had once been part of a set of twelve. Now only five complete sets, by some miracle the teapot itself and the single cup sans saucer he used now remained.

It was soothing.

But not soothing enough.

Nearly eight years: seven years, nine months and sixteen days to be exact.  

He looked at the packet of papers before him once again.

All the appropriate boxes were checked, statements filled out and signed, copies made and the original certificate and cheque made payable to ‘HM Courts and Tribunals Service’ attached.  

Such a cold black and white ending to something that began so red hot nearly a decade ago.

Form D8: Application for a divorce, dissolution or to apply for a (judicial) separation order

Form D80A: Statement in support of an application for divorce or (judicial) separation on the ground of adultery

Then wait for response.

Then Form D84: Apply to court for a decree nisi, conditional order or (judicial) separation decree or order

Then wait some more.

And then finally, FINALLY Form D36: Ask the court to make a decree nisi absolute, or a conditional order final

It was going to be at least another three months before all was said and done.

He just wanted it DONE!

The inherited tea set became the lesser by one unmatched teacup as it went airborne and crashed into the wall.

He cursed as he realized what he did and cleaned it up. Another thing the marriage had ruined.

The tea had been soothing, but not anymore.

He gathered what he needed, grabbed the packet and headed to the nearest divorce center.

He heeded another piece of advice and called a friend to meet at a pub later:

And when good tea in good china no longer helps, it usually means you need something stronger. Because sometimes a  perfectly brewed cup of tea can’t fix everything.


Mindlovemiserty's Menagerie logo

First Line Friday: May 21, 2021

Dylan gives the opening line and challenges you to create whatever comes afterward. Length, genre, and structure are completely up to you. Feel free to modify the line as you see fit, adding punctuation, quotes, or other bits if so desired. No need to tie it to the picture, unless you want to.

Or for more of a challenge, change nothing.

The line for this week is: A perfectly brewed cup of tea can’t fix everything.

Garden Tableau

In the early hours
As the dawn does rise
Rain had fallen deep
As I lay in sleep
And soaked the dark earth  

Awake now I breathe
The petrichor scent
Deep in the city
A moment of Zen
My window garden
Belies urban sprawl

<>==========<>

dVerse Poets Pub | Quadrille: How Does Your Garden Grow?

At dVerse Victoria wants to know about our gardens in a quadrille.

A Quadrille is a poem of exactly 44 words not including the title. The poem must contain the prompt word for the challenge: Garden.

And because Muse likes to combine challenges I wrapped the Quadrille in a Tableau. (Or is that wrapped the Tableau in a Quadrille? You decide.)

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie| Saturday Mix – Lucky Dip, 8 August 2020

For this week’s Lucky Dip, the mystery bag gives us a Tableau. 

The Tableau, a poetry form created by Emily Romano in October of 2008, consists of one or more verses, each having six lines. Each line should have five beats. There is no set rhyme scheme, although rhyme may be present. The title should contain the word tableau.

Welcome Tableau

I with heart of night
Now reach for the sun
With revered delight
Oh, sweet baby girl
This is what you’ve done
Welcome to the world  

Baby you’re the best
It is not bias
This I can attest
Oh, sweet baby girl
My love most pious
Welcome to the world  

My soul you’ve laid bare
And redefined love
All I have I share
Oh, sweet baby girl
Stuff dreams are made of
Welcome to the world

<>==========<>

Double dipping with two challenges this weekend:

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie: Music Challenge
Nobody Does It Better Week 85

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie: Saturday Mix
Lucky Dip, 8 August 2020 – The Tableau

Empty Tableau

I am not happy
I am not angry
Nothing here to share
In this lethargy
Abject apathy
Cannot seem to care

<>==========<>
Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie| Saturday Mix – Lucky Dip, 8 August 2020

For this week’s Lucky Dip, the mystery bag gives us a Tableau. 

The Tableau, a poetry form created by Emily Romano in October of 2008, consists of one or more verses, each having six lines. Each line should have five beats. There is no set rhyme scheme, although rhyme may be present. The title should contain the word tableau.

One dictionary states the word tableau means picture or representation; the poem should reflect this. A picture should come to mind as the poem is read.

Muse challenges with the representation of nothingness. Nothing to see here, but you can picture it.

Mock the Changing Times

Some news will mock the changing times with shock

So I take stock in how it’s oft more than it seems

Where some will hock that life is all but in lock

Yet want to block another’s chance to live their dreams

<>==========<>

Mindlovemiserty's Menagerie logo

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie | Saturday Mix – Rhyme Time

‘Rhyme Time’ focuses on the use of rhyme to build your writing piece. You will be given six rhyming words and need to use all of them (but not limited to these) in your response, which should be a poetry form of your choice.

This week’s rhyming words this week are mock, shock, stock, lock, hock, block

Muse offers a surprisingly succinct entry this challenge using internal and cross rhymes.

Half and Half

Cass was a nightmare in white silk and pearls. Well half a nightmare. There was nothing to do but be attentive to the child as she enjoyed herself. It was all her father’s fault. He fell asleep on the couch last night watching classic horror movies. Cass came down for water at a pivotal scene as the title character walked down a street slinging mayhem about and a new idea was borne.

Unbeknownst to us parents until the moment she came down the steps she had made a few changes to the costume. Half of the lovely white dress was runny with red food dye and corn syrup – thank you so much internet for telling my child how the original movie did it, by the way. Though the movie character did not wear pearls, Cass being Cass insisted on them for her remake. The tiara was split in two and half hung tangled in her strawberry blond hair. The pearls, tiara and her hair was also spayed with the gooey mixture down half her body. It limited where we went because I could not find enough trash bags to cover the car seats enough to drive to around other neighborhoods, but she deems it worth it – so okay.

I knew it was going to be far from a breeze to get all that goop wash off, but I have to admit she did a fantastic job of it all on her own.  Two mornings ago, she was all about the pretty princess: lovely white dress and a tiara and pearls.  Only half of that walked the misty streets now as we stepped around the tossed eggs and toilet paper draped tress of the tricksters while we go treating. My creative daughter the very pretty Cassie on one half of her body, the very terrifying Carrie from the movie on the other.

<>==========<>

Written for:

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie | First Line Friday: October 26th, 2018
We’re given the first line, the rest is up to us. This week’s opening line: Cass was a nightmare in white silk and pearls.

The Sunday Whirl | Wordle 375
Eggs, Breeze, Misty, Attentive, Child, Drive, Movies, Sling, Runny, Find, Corn, Spray
Use at least ten of the words in a poem, prose or story.

Microwave

Shawn stood at the stove, fry pan in hand as warmed-up yet another of James’ impromptu dinners. The man had a gift for taking leftovers and whatever else he could find and conjure up deliciousness. It was the only way to get a decent meal in Shawn sometimes. He let work keep him up all manners of hours and a proper meal oft fell by the wayside in the process. James made sure he ate.

After three other roommates had come and gone in a two year span. James signed on. They gave each other a million reason to walk away from being roommates. Yet in a short few weeks of living together there had been a marked difference in the daily routine of the place. Holly claimed it was like the apartment had a cold draft that someone finally sealed and the place was warm again. Shawn knew the draft was him and the warmth was James. He was always the mar, the blemish, the thing wrong in the equation. Until James that is, who arrived with his own issues. His temper being the worst.

Normally Shawn would use the microwave, but he had conducted a food experiment that had not gone quite as expected. James understandably had refused to clean it this time as he had all the other times, but the man was a hard-wired germaphobe. Shawn would often just wait it out knowing James would cave in and do it. Still, every now and then the man would raise a brow and get a stubborn streak. And it would be like sand in his shoe  he couldn’t seem to shake out until it was resolved. This was three days later – that was a record. Shawn knew he really was going to have to do something about it. He couldn’t stand it if James employed the silent treatment again.

Over a year ago, the first and last time Shawn made a huge mess and didn’t clean, James absolutely did not speak to him. Being petty, after a week, Shawn had moved the sofa to block the front door, delaying him when he knew James was running late. Shawn sat at the desk on his, earphones on, acting engrossed on his laptop. He looked up just in time to see James eyes turned stormy as he glared at Shawn. He still said nothing as he lifted the couch, flipped it over where it landed on the side table smashing it and went on his way leaving the door wide open. Holly, their landlady heard the crash and came running upstairs, passing a furious James along the way. She walked up to him and smacked on the back of his head so hard he saw stars ordering him to fix it. He knew she did not mean the table. Shawn was not in the least surprised when the cost of the table was charged to his share of the rent. By then he had cleaned the apartment, apologized. He almost cried in relief when James very efficiently and justifiably proceeded to curse him out.

Somehow they made the worse seem better in each other. Now at nearly two years together it was so much improved. James made him do better. No James made him want to do better. Shawn knew James learned to better manage his temper from dealing with him. They balanced each other.

Shawn sighed looking back at the microwave with guilt.  He turned off the stove and got the cleaning supplies.

<>=========<>
Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie | Music Challenge #24: “Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga

The Sunday Whirl – Wordle #342
Mar, Draft, Stormy, Sand, Charge, Silence, Fry, Star, Wired, Manner, Gift, Guilt

 

The Last – a Tale

The words blurred into one another, every yellowed page like the one before.

Sela pulled her sweater tighter around her, the sudden chill making her teeth rattle from more than the air conditioning protecting the ancient scrolls and text. Preconceived notions now shattered under the gravity of what she has learnt.

She was not ugly, but she knew she was no raving beauty, either. She was simply layogenic, all the pieces were there, yet they did not quite seem to align up for true beauty. In school her interests were not those of the other girls her age. She was very intelligent, but she was not valedictorian. She was popular enough to be the good friend, the wing man, but never enough to keep the guy. And she had her secrets. She had spent her teenage through late twenties with a constant sense of the autophobic.  Then three years ago, just when she was truly starting to accept the single life would be her lot in life, she met Avery.

He courted her. With flowers and conversation arcane, often profound, sometimes profane. And when the granite walls she had built around her hear came down at last, she in turn courted him. With creativity and art and myths and politics. The curves to his edges. Avery with his pale fine near otherworldly features. His naturally pale blonde locks that naturally bleached to almost platinum in the summer sun. Avery never made her feel anything other than utterly beautiful inside and out. He was not perfect. She could barely get him to stay the night. And if he stayed he was always up by dawn puttering about.

It was all so transparent now, so obvious, but it was anything but several months ago.

It had started as a joke, a far-fetched notion dreamt up after the late night/early morning hours following an alcohol fused evening. They had lain nude in the sand, under the stars of Cancer. Their bare bodies, beginning to be tinged blue from the cool night outdoors, was now slowly pinking again as they greeted the warmth of dawn.

Then she saw it.

Sela had awoken on her back, Avery was laying sideways, facing away from her, his back to the burgeoning dawn of the shore. Every instinct told her do not move. So naturally Sela found herself in a rapid series of suppression as the urge to yawn, to sneeze and most of all, to reach and touch his beautiful back tried to overtake her, but she persevered.

His skin was so fair she felt she could all but see the blood flood as his flash warmed. She was admiring the fine-boned, yet nicely toned structure of his back.  It was she was looking at his back, at his shoulders, that she saw the thin curved lines that sudden marked his shoulder blades. It was just a flash of light, a bright electrified blue that appeared and was gone in a flash. She was so surprised by it she must have made some sort of sound, for Avery quickly turned to face her. His smile was beguiling and she assured herself she must have been seeing things as he pulled her in his arms.

Later that morning they sat in an outdoor café, sipping chamomile tea with honey, for him, coffee black, for her. They listened to the rising crescendo of the local birds as they woke for the day when she spied a dragonfly in the distance. Not afraid of insects she pointed out the beauty of its transparent wings. She jokingly wondered how such wings would look on him with his coloring. Avery had simply smiled at her flight of fancy and changed the subject, but that flash in the dawn popped into her head and again tried to dismiss what she thought she saw.

She tried to. She couldn’t.

She could not let it go and every single cell of her being knew she could not just ask him. At least not yet. So she didn’t. It was good fortune they both travelled for work. If she stayed an extra day overseas to research something he never batted an eye, just as she never questioned his trips if he chose to stay an extra day. She sometimes felt guilty, but not enough to stop researching. Until today.

Today she had the answers, the evidence; the truth.

She carefully closed the yellowed pages and packed away the last notes she’ll take on the matter.

Sela, the last Nyx Fairy, will trust Avery with the truth of her wings come dusk.

She has faith the Avery, the last Aeshnidae Fairy, will trust her with the truth of his come dawn.

<>==========<>

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie|First Line Friday – March 2, 2018
The words blurred into one another, every yellowed page like the one before.

Use the above as your opening line in a story or prose.

The Sunday Whirl 340
Honey, Crescendo, Gravity, Blood, Blue, Shatter, Edges, Teeth, Bare, Rattle, Birds, Electrify

Use at least ten of the words in a story or poem.

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie|Wordle #186
Cancer, Fairy, Sideways, Farfetched, Chamomile, Bleach, Assure, Granite, Suppression, Layogenic, Transparent, Autophobia

Use at least ten of the words in a story or poem.

Games of the Night

Night & Day by Lisa Agaran
Nyx gazes with dusky smiles

From a counter of dark azure skies

Under a tableau of stars

On those who play, who slumber

But especially

On those who deign to harness

A toe-hold in the illicit secrets

She holds in the noir midnight

Only to release them

In the bright noon of Apollo

 

<>———–<>

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie: Saturday Mix – Same Same But Different, 24 February 2018

This iteration of ‘Same Same But Different’ tasks us with five challenge words and NOT use them in your writing, that’s right.

The words this week: Table, Sleep, Take, Foot, Black

The writing form can be either poetry or prose.