Thursday, May 29, 2014

Freedom - A Flash Story

Another day. 

Yes, I actually can count days, although I do it hidden in a corner or when they have left me alone in between their times of seeing me. I know they come every two hours with clipboards and expectant looks. They sometimes come with fruits and vegetables for me, things I never knew of until I arrived here. Yes, they come. When they come near me, they reach out to touch me or show that they are not a threat. However, I know different. I know what they did to me, all that time ago. I still have that scar. I play the part well, sniffing and swaying slowly as though I were drunk, giving them the performance of a lifetime. They nod and smile, all the while writing things down, then they leave a treat for me and return to the outside world. I remain here, no longer swaying, now only staring at the door. I used to wonder what it was like beyond the door, since I don't remember how or when I arrived here. Yet, in thanks to them, I now wonder. Wondering has become my pastime, my way of proving to myself that what they did to me was wonderful and terrifying at the same time. And still, I wonder. I wonder about where I came from and if I was happy there. Did I even know what happiness was like then? I don't think I shall ever know. 

A click followed by a soft groan; the door has opened again. 

They come once more. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Day In the Life of a Bibliophile

Hello. My name is Kimberly B. Richardson and I am a bibliophile.

Books have been a part of my life ever since I learned how to read. There is no greater gift than the gift of reading. So, it comes as no surprise that I simply adore library book sales; they are like treasure troves with surprises just waiting to be discovered and purchased. This past weekend was the major library book sale at the Main Branch in Memphis and I knew that I was going to be a part of the literary fray. Thankfully, my corporate job allowed us to leave early due to Memorial Day weekend, so I was able to get to the sale one day early. Forgoing my usual large bags, I drove with a quickness and a small canvas bag to the library then made my way inside to the large conference room on the ground floor. I stepped inside, smiled at the security guard at the door, then walked into the large room. Tables and shelves of books stood, ready and waiting for me to peruse and look through, all silently with spines jutting out. I walked over to one of the hardback fiction tables and placed my hand on the covers, only to swipe a book as soon as I saw it. First catch of the day within five minutes of me being there - record time. My neck stretched and arched as I tried to scan every title, hoping to see something that would stand out for me to at least pick up and thumb through. As I glanced around, I noticed others who did the same: they all had the same focused expression of their faces as they too searched for that special gem that they would take home and call theirs.

My hands found more and more treasures and soon I realized that the little cloth bag I brought with me was not going to be enough. I then spied an empty book cart with two boxes and soon, cried out in a mighty voice that the Book Hunter was now in the game! Okay, so I didn't really cry out, but I did have a wide grin on my face. I walked from hardback fiction to paperback fiction to biographies to history to literature to travel to art to religion. And back again. And back again. I tend to circle the tables like a vulture who has just seen something fall to the ground. Others had their carts and boxes as well and for a moment, I wondered if perhaps I was going a bit overboard on my book selections.

Then again, maybe not.

After an hour of walking and pushing, I made my way to the checkout and gave the library my money then left for home. I was tired, sweaty and happy.

Of course, I had to return that next day. Of course.

Saturday brought me fully prepared with two large canvas bags, good walking shoes and a sparkle in my eye and I was determined to locate even more books. I made my way back into the large room and this time, noticed the scents of paper, dust, sweat from the excited book lovers and that faint hygienic smell wafting from the air vents. In short, I was in book nirvana. This time, I circled the tables with a vengeance, plucking books that jumped out at me either by familiar titles or titles that just struck me as interesting. As I thumbed through a hardback, wondering if I really needed it (I did), I began to hear faint voices. Not the murmuring of the people around me who, as they discovered a book, would reach out with a gasp and pluck it like a ripe apple. No, these voices were faint yet driven with anxiety. Suddenly I realized - the voices came from the books! Here's some of what I heard:

"Hey, LADY! Pick me! I'm really, really interesting and will keep you up all night!"

"No, don't pick him - the author was a one hit wonder! Pick me instead! I've got SEX!"

"I come in hardback only - you'll look cool if you're seen with me!"

"Hey, I'm only 50 cents, plus I'm LITERARY! Don't go for the popular stuff; it rots your teeth like candy."

The once empty bags were now suddenly digging into my shoulders and I felt myself labouring under a weight of love; I knew soon that I would have to leave and check out. However, I kept circling the tables, hoping for that one last treasure, that one last surprise that would be a wonderful addition to my personal library. I then looked up at the clock and wondered how two hours passed; after all, I had just arrived! Thus with a sigh and a tired grin, I dragged myself away from the room of "candy" and made my way to the checkout counter, only to realize that I had picked out more the second day than I did the first. Damn.

Being a bibliophile can be quite maddening at times; the Death Star's tractor beam has nothing compared to the pull I feel whenever I walk by a bookstore or book sale. I will actually squeal if I find a used bookstore that I've never been to before and will dash in before whomever I'm walking with realizes that I have disappeared. Now that I am also an author of several titles with many more to come, I'm glad that I have joined the force of keeping people happy with the Written Word.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back finishing up my own books - an author's work is never done.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

King of the Gourds - Flash Story

Every year, they came from miles around, each with their own agenda. The townspeople, although some grumbled and scoffed, still wore grins of delight and pleasure when the masses invaded their town called Revie. For it was in this town that the Annual Vegetable Festival was held and herbivores and veggie lovers alike spent their third weekend in June in the town with grand desires of enjoying all that grew from the earth. For John Dapple, it meant not only a chance to enjoy his favourite food for three days straight but it also meant that he had another chance to enter in the Awesome Blossom Vegetable, a contest in which the best, brightest and biggest vegetables were chosen. Every year, John arrived with his gourds lovingly grown from his garden back home, hoping that this time, he would be chosen as a winner. And, every year, he went home without a ribbon and many gourds that no one even deigned to even pick up and look at to be admired. Yet, his heart was the size of a watermelon and his determination was harder than field corn; he decided that this year was going to be his year at any cost. 

In the past, he had chosen to grow all kinds of gourds in the hopes of attracting the judges' attention, yet this time he decided to grow only one - the Turkey Neck. The old folk in his town used to tell him stories of the Turkey Neck when he was a youth, calling the gourd legendary and almost magical. No one had ever seen such a gourd, yet the old folk knew it existed. John kept those stories close to him as he grew from child to man. This year he decided to grow one, that is, if he could ever find the seeds. He searched high and low for the seeds, traveling 100 miles in every direction, yet he always returned home with empty bags and a forlorn look on his face. Yet, he knew that Turkey Neck was out there. As the time of the festival quickly approached, John knew that he no time to grow the gourd and so, on that Thursday night before he would drive to the festival, he went to bed with tears in his eyes and a gourd on his mind. That next day, he slowly dragged himself out of bed, got dressed and then drove to the festival, where it was already in full bloom. He found a place to park his car then made his way through the festival, barely admiring the vegetables on display. 

He wanted to so badly to present to the town his Turkey Neck and yet he came with nothing except for the clothes on his back and an empty bag that needed to be filled with delicious vegetables. As he rounded the corner to walk down the next pathway of vendors, he suddenly stopped in front of a young woman wearing a blue dress who stood behind a table filled with . . . .he gasped, causing the woman to look up at him and give him a brilliant smile. When he asked what the strange curved gourds were on the table, she proceeded to tell him that they were Turkey Neck gourds. He grinned widely; at last! Here was the very gourd that had alluded him for so long. He quickly took out his wallet and chose this biggest and fattest one on the table then politely handed the young woman his money. As she handed it to him, he reverently placed it in his bag, thanked her and then raced to his car. He drove home, forgetting the rest of the festival; he had to show his town that the myth was in fact real. He pulled into town and jumped out of the car with the gourd in his hands and proudly showed it to the old folk that sat in front of the general store. They were all amazed as John held the gourd close and proclaimed that today, John Dapple was truly King of the Gourds. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Next Day - Flash Story

And, just like that, it was the next day. 

Caroline slowly blinked her eyes then opened them wide as the sun beamed through her cracked wooden window. She sat up in her bed, yawned and stretched, then got out and sleepily made her way to the large window. Another damn beautiful day, she thought with a hint of remorse as she turned away from it and trudged into the bathroom. When she reached the small and intimate black ad white tiled room, she closed the door behind her then sat on the side of the clawed foot tub and began to cry. Not the soft and barely noticeable form of crying in which someone could get away with, saying that they were going through an allergic reaction so as not to draw cause for concern. Rather, she cried without restraint or form. She hiccuped and moaned as large round tears dripped down her nose and on her black pajama bottoms. Daniel was dead and there was nothing she could do about it. He died with a smile on his face and left her still alive, still able to enjoy beautiful days that beamed through their, now her, cracked wooden framed window at their house. Caroline cried for another five minutes then got up and wiped her face with a warm and wet towel and returned to her bedroom, back to the window that welcomed a new day to her. The sunflowers, his favourite, gathered under the window and showed off their yellow petals to her. She looked off and saw the next house down, a good walk away and wondered if they were awake. Her neighbours, an older man and his wife named Lucas and Claire, both painters and free spirits, had always made her and Daniel welcomed at their house no matter the time. Caroline felt a shudder through her body then sighed as she leaned out and felt the warmth of the day blessing her tear streaked skin. Yes, she thought, her lover, her friend, her guide was gone and yet the next day came. It came with no waiting nor any hesitation. It came because it had to. Caroline stared at the house again as a ghost of a smile appeared on her face. It was the next day, after all. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Realm of Indigo - Flash Story

            On the mantelpiece was the book I swore to forget about, thanks to him. When we first met, he saw the book I clutched to my chest and when he asked me what it was, I told him with a smile on my face. He laughed then took it from me and placed it there, claiming that I no longer needed it. Now that he was in my life, I no longer needed my Book of Lost Dreams, as I called it when I first received as a child. When I asked him just why I had to leave it there, he took my chin in his hand and lifted me up to kiss him. His kisses still remind me of an Autumn day when the winds begin to cool and the trees scratch the ground with their skeletal arms. He came to me when I was fragile and dangerous to myself, when the world needed to be careful in speaking about me behind my back. I heard the whispers and felt the eyes upon me and it took many nights of sleeping with my eyes open in order to chase the nightmares away. Yet, when he appeared, I felt as though I was still dreaming and had refused to wake up. He told me his name was Sylvain and that he had come to wake me up. So, I let him. His lips touched mine and I felt the burn seep through my skin and prick my eyes. He then took me away to his realm in which the sun never rose and the skies were in constant indigo shade. There are shadows of trees as far as my eyes can see, each with a nocturnal glow that pulse with every breath they take. He brought me to his lair and loved me completely that night.
With every touch, I felt myself twist and turn and split into many pieces, only to form a body once again. He whispered my name in my ear and I felt something die within me. Was it my soul, or perhaps my walls? When at last I fell to the floor, he gently picked me up and carried me to his bed and told me to sleep. When I slept, I did not dream. When I awoke, he stood over me and told me that he had to take me back. I nodded and soon, with a flurry of raven’s wings, I was home, standing in the room with the book that still stood on the mantelpiece. I picked it up and saw the sticky dust crawl across the cover. As much as I wanted to open it, I remembered his words of telling me not to. It was my book, my lost dreams. Every time someone had done me wrong, I wrote it in the book. Every time I felt my heart break after giving it to someone who did not deserve it, I wrote it in the book. The pages were soon covered with my writing, my words that would never come true. Sylvain loved me and told me that I no longer had any need for such emptiness. He burned my book in a fire then swept me back to his realm, where we drank absinthe and stared at the moon hanging low in the sky like ripe fruit. When he touched me again, I felt the cold bitter breezes blow through my hair and realized then that I was dead. 

(copyright 2014 Kimberly Richardson)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Indigo Prophet - poem

The sky, fading to familiar indigo,
gives me a chance to rest
in solitude. Noises, soft and unassuming,
add to the dream that my imagination needs.
Perhaps he shall come tonight;
the source of words and phrases
slick like virgin olive oil, blessed and smelling of faith.
My eyes try to focus
on the pinprick lights among the blanket above;
a sign that perhaps I am not the only one.
Some other eyes, locked in various places,
seek wisdom where there is none,
giving in to symbols created for the weak.
My eyes are on fire,
baptism, holy and defined,
as I witness the coming of my truth
in the form of a kiss I have yet to share.
He who has no name, come hither,
and remind me as to why I am here.
Speak with stone lips that move like a river
and soothe me with a balm.
I call him Prophet, a miracle man with hands that cure and kill - 
my trust is placed in the arms
of a wielder of darkness with a blank face.
His hair, blacker than sin, shall caress and cover me; a secret
woven with the sky.
He shall touch me, immortal, upon my creased brow as I struggle
to make sense of this night.
His fingers, smelling of earth and sun, will bless me as I fall to my knees: I was not prepared.
Yet still, he smiles and fades away
as indigo gives way to robin's egg
and I return to the noise that I now better understand.

(copyright 2014 Kimberly B. Richardson)

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Place To Sit - Photographs

Although I am no Ansel Adams, I do enjoy taking photographs of things that interest me. Whenever I am out, my eyes roam all over the place, searching for things that would appeal to me in such a way in that I have to capture it as a photograph at that moment. Sometimes, I love taking photographs of things that are ordinary; even in the ordinary lies the extraordinary. 

Benches are one of those things.

I like taking photos of benches because I feel that they tell a story: what happened here perhaps a month ago or even five minutes ago? Did someone breakup with their lover, or maybe someone sat there with a good book and five minutes of solitude? Whatever their history, benches are silent sentinels, eternally waiting for the next addition to the collected tales they have savoured for years.

Here are some of my favourite benches: