Just a good old fashioned hard drive harvest that I can’t think of a title for.

A bird in the sky flying near the sun.

The blizzard drowns out the sound and fury. A madman walks blindly through the snowstorm, flailing and sweeping the heavy flakes which heed him not. A candle might burn only inches from him, but he’ll never know. Meanwhile, a man lies ill in a hospital bed as the snow piles up outside his window. They left him in a room with a window–useless, because he is unconscious. But what would he see anyway? Only the snowflakes and a madman swirling around and around. Would any word suffice to break through the thickness? Which of them would drop to their knees in prayer, and who would pray for whom?

A warm, damp breeze blows over the sound. A couple walks as, in-between their glances, waves creep up the littered sand: high tide approaches. They hold hands as they move slowly down the sidewalk above the breakwater. The waves begin to lap against the rocks below; plastic bottles lodged between the stones await the will of the sea. A seagull flies overhead, a clam clamped in its beak. It flies higher, higher, higher—and the clam is released to its fate not far from the couple. They watch as the gull swoops down to devour the contents of the shell. How do gulls feed their babies? For that matter–where do they keep their babies? It is late winter, but the breeze brings tidings of a more comforting time, and so they feel much younger than they really are. The sand turns golden and the sky is streaked with white clouds which will be orange by the time the couple returns to their car, talking idly of baby animals. The woman shakes the sand out of her shoes and like Hannah, silently mouths a prayer.

A few miles away, a man lies ill in a hospital bed, oblivious to the warm breeze which seeps through the narrow opening the nurse left. The afternoon sun gathers against the cloudy windowpane, and the man continues to lie insensible to the world around him.

In a doctor’s office on a large hospital campus, a new mother is prepared for a scan. The father is in the waiting room, rocking the baby in its portable seat. He laughs at the baby’s gurgles and smiles, and is pleased to see how the baby looks just like him. The mother tells the doctor all about the baby while the nurse inserts the needle into the back of her hand. She doesn’t even notice the pain as she describes how the baby looks just like her father. A nurse ducks her head into the waiting room to call the mother’s husband, and as she shows him to the examination room, she remarks to herself that the baby looks just like her mother. He steps into the room with a fixed smile and squeezes his wife’s other hand while he shows her the baby. He keeps smiling–she keeps smiling–the baby keeps smiling; and the nurse and the doctor exchange glances.

In another medical building across the street, a man lies unconscious in a bed. A single tree grows outside his window, planted in a small circle of dirt in the plaza below. A bird has made a nest in the tree, and its wide-mouthed babies screech for food. But the window bars their cries and the room’s silence is only punctuated by beeps.

As a young woman watches the horizon turn whitish-yellow and the sky above deepen into cerulean, the western star winks at the world. The computer screen has gone dark; she hasn’t worked for many minutes. It’s been a while since anyone called. She gets up without pushing in her chair, and on her way to the back door, passes her parents having dinner in the kitchen. Outside in the fresh cool air of the backyard, she wonders how long it’s been since the crickets started, and she wraps her arms around herself and looks up at the bright planet.

As dusk darkens, she walks to the little church with the cracked sidewalk and weeds growing up between the stones. She likes to go when no one is there, in order to contemplate the little altar, hidden in an alcove, spread with squat votive candles held in waxy glass cradles. Only one remains lit, this little light of who knows what, shining bravely against the darkness of the church. She shoves some loose change into the slot of the donation box. Taking a used match, light from light she borrows the flame and ignites a new candle. But the altar is otherwise cold and dark, strewn with lonely and forgotten intentions.

She will cheat the darkness. She bows her head and asks that her intention stand for all the others.

She lifts her eyes and contemplates the two candles. The first candle has gone to rest while the second is still glowing.

A few miles away, a man lies ill in a hospital. His dirty window faces the west, and someday soon, he will see Venus sparkling.

69 thoughts on “untitled

  1. This is amazing Hetty, I was captivated. Is there more? Does the man awaken? What about the couple? The baby? The seagulls? Just extraordinary

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That might be difficult. I was thinking as I read your piece, though, that it was a setup for an apocalyptic event of some sort. An underlying feeling of dread.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Good. Wouldn’t want y’all’s king of dropping the names of lit’s top ten white anthologized to miss an opportunity to use the performing artist instead of a work’s (black) author.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! You never cease to amaze and entertain, Hetty. This is exceptional story telling. I’m reminded of short stories buried in anthologies from classic writers. In a seemingly normal day in the life of a place like our own, we suddenly look deeper. There is the rhythm of the sentences like the incoming tide. The synergy of life is evident in what might pass normally as unrelated occurrences and yet, there it is; looking up to the planet and somewhere else, perhaps Saturn, waits for the man to wake up. Birth, life, and endings approaching on a collision course. Well, that’s my overactive imagination stimulated by this enjoyable story.

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      1. Phil! Where have you been? May I suggest drinking more coffee. It subdues the pragmatic system and helps stimulate over active endeavors. There are side effects one should be aware of immediately after the second quart mug. Caution is advised. I’m sure that’s why I failed to mention the obvious.

        Liked by 2 people

          1. We should both set higher caffeine goals before going into the cave of modern literature. I personally consider myself an adept at ruining our written language so your attention to the details is like having a personal guru. My progress is like evolution of the species, lots of conjecture on whether or not I actually have progressed and the forensic evidence points to lots of change but no progress. 🤔🦧

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            1. It’s one thing to see it. Another to execute. The great takeaway from real lit for us amateurs is not to write like what we thought we read, And the key to that, I think, is witnessing, and understanding mechanics without keeping the words. Like a skeleton. You can flesh it out how you need it, but if the hip bone be connected to the rib bone? Editing won;t cure ugly.

              Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll go spelunking in the cavernous bowels of my slice of WP universe and see what I can see. Those pesky filters never filter the occasional stalker or serial killer but just mention Trump or Joe Biden’s adult diaper problem and you’re sent to spam without a trial.

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  3. This is a great and impressionistic story like a painting!. There’s so much to interpret and I wonder where and when in time these characters’ lives will collide. Or perhaps they already have. Nice work, Hetty!

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  4. Holy. Shit. Are the liftable (all of them) descriptions available for a fee? Maybe subscription? You know, like can I get a slow, dirty river full of sandbars at sunset by Tuesday, please? Bad ass, ain’t lyin’. Steppin’ into this was like the blues – You know I ask my baby fo a nickel… She gave me a twenty-dollar bill…

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    1. If you’re only half facetious, I’ll happily take it. Glad you’re here, I guess you always scent a hard drive harvest 😉. I’m exaggerating a wee bit about that only cuz it makes me laugh.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Laughter is good. As for your piece – I wrote a scene about evanescence. Something very rare, particularly with words. Paraphrased – Art is what happens when technique disappears. (In most cases I choose to attribute that to Baryshnikov, but various artists have used it for centuries, and a variation even appears in the Suzuki Method literature.) Truly great artists are humble, with a twinkle in their eye. You can harvest as much of this stuff as you can carry.

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              1. You’re here. I respond to what I see. The reader is a POS. I dumped it. It takes a snapshot of the post and doesn’t update it, as per WordPress. I’m always editing. The apps seem to work, except comments don’t show up for the app user for about a day, but everyone else can see them. I found that out double commenting until I asked and was notified that the first one landed.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. I never really had issues with the Reader until recently. Regular commenters are ending up in my spam and vice versa. Well, I’m glad you know I’m reading. I did not know edits don’t show up.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. The version that opens when you open the reader is the one. I gave up on the reader. On a desktop/laptop I use the website. On mobile the iOS app. It’s squirrelly but the web is squirrelly on iOS so…

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. Too many platforms, not enough programmers. They have he theme and content thing down as long as you’re on Windows or Mac and inside one of their containers. Once outside we’re stuck with what they give us. Even on a “smarter” iPad with mouse and keyboard HIDs it’s still just an app.

                      Liked by 1 person

      1. Any madman in bad weather sends me straight to Aqualung.

        Do you still remember
        December’s foggy freeze,
        When the ice that clings on to your beard
        Was screaming agony?
        And you snatch your rattling last breaths
        With deep-sea diver sounds
        And the flowers bloom like madness in the spring
        -Ian Anderson

        Word choice and brevity. If only me, you know?

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This is very cool. The short, punchy descriptions of all these people, the subtle yet effective way that you tell their stories of wants, dreams, and conflicts. The repetition of the man, that bit of wry humor in the beginning…I really enjoyed this. It deserves a better title though, although I admit I can’t think of one at the moment. I’ll keep you posted should I think of any suggestions

    Liked by 2 people

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