Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Flash Fiction by Joan McNerney

Celestial Garden

Winds rocked the sycamore tree.  Had the same God who formed this sycamore created that cancer her mother died of?  It had been one year . . . a year to this date when Gloria became trapped within the sharp jaws of grief.  Mother died her swollen eyes closed forever.  Just a memory now memories touching her face her hair.  So good, kind . . . what was the use of being wise and tender when all die?

Gloria lived alone in the desolate apartment.  "Pearl Court" incised in capital letters over the buildings front door.  She had been there for so long listening to cries and laughter.  Intimate murmurs, sighs of dejection sounding through hallways.  Her neighbors bound together by bricks but living separate lives.  Their days chains of orderly minutes as night follows noon seasons grow from each other.

They lived without distinction having no hand to record their strong feelings.  Only Pearl Court on Benson Avenue made record of them.  Its stained walls held their marks.  Some would say they needed little attention for playing such a miniature role in the greater theater of life.  In a trance they rushed back and forth with laundry newspapers food.  And the children kept singing . . . songs taught from one child to another.  Handballs pounding against court yard walls skipping and jumping up down stairs hop scotch hide and go seek.

Everybody agreed Gloria had done everything for her.  Perhaps too much especially towards the end . . . always working helping her mother.  She hurried home with medicine, carrying heavy bags of groceries, rushing to cook some nourishing food.  Endless cleaning tidying piles of laundry to wash.  She arranged medical appointments wrote checks handled mail balanced accounts.  Then there were all the little things.  Turn up the radio.  Turn it down.  Run out for candy.  See what would be on television.  Pick up newspapers.  Find something cool to drink.  Make something hot.  Finally there was nothing to do but light candles of remembrance.

Long branches crisscrossed skies.  Newspapers scrapped along sidewalks.  Cats howled in the cold night.  Small pools of light shining from street lamps while raindrops fell like black ink.  Cars barely paused at stop signs.  A few passersby straggled along bending their separate ways against the cold.  Heads dropped in collars, hands clutching coats close . . . all were intent on ending this day.

She couldn't stop thinking of him.  No way no matter how hard she tried.  Gloria kept retracing that afternoon.  Was it so long ago?  Wandering the bay together passing streets trimmed with trees.  Surrendering to his strong arms listening to waves splash against rocks.  It was not so long ago.  Sunset colored water . . . pink red violet.  They watched gulls fly in circles as light caught their wing tips.  Around around in circles over clouds . . . sea gulls flying . . . white sprays in an ocean of blue.

They kissed fervently.  The train took them to his place, to a room without time.  She recalled every second.  How he caressed her face while touching her breasts.  Him so hungry devouring every crease of her body.  So thirsty drinking from her breasts and vulva.  Her covering him with kisses tasting his semen.  The thumbing and the gathering of them again and again.  He watched her climb a staircase back to the station.  Like a butterfly hidden within a soft flower, she waved goodbye.  With her scent all over his clothes, he saw her board the next train.  Gone.

Gloria had little experience with romance.  Not fast like some girls, her quiet manner left neighborhood boys perplexed.  They expected to show her off and find their way to her bed.  Why should she share intimacy with someone she hardly knew and barely liked?  Let this be a lesson to her what must have been a one night stand for him.

Now she was alone struggling within herself.  Time and memory of their time filtered through her mind.  Spellbound she was awake alive in love for a few minutes and then once again submerged . . . eyes veiled head lowered as if in a fog.  An unrelieved landscape of cement stretching before her.

Stretching now both arms finding the comforter, big yawns collapsing her body curled up like a question mark.  Adjusting her pillow and blanket she relaxed in bed . . . gathered calmness around her, holding a few kind memories to press within her.  Entering ebony night, she came upon a dreamscape of hills full of heather fragrant pink heather.  Who was that standing waiting on the top peak?  Whose arms were tossing star seeds into heaven . . . planting empty fields of night with rows of light?

Joan McNerney's poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as Camel Saloon, Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Blueline, Spectrum, and included in Bright Hills Press, Kind of a Hurricane Press and Poppy Road Anthologies.  She has been nominated three times for Best of the Net, Poet and Geek Recognized her work as their best poem of 2013.  Four of her books have been published by fine small literary presses and she has four ebook titles.

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