Rain drowned the world in white noise. Sarah would have preferred snow, to muffle the world into a tensionless silence, but it didn’t snow here. Rain was rare enough. She listened to it tap against the window, hum on the roof, and decided to be grateful for the way it barred her from everything outside her living room walls.
She didn’t have an easy time keeping herself away from others; she invited them into every moment. Her phone was always in her hands. Her car was always gassed up. She left work, exhausted, and took her rest in a shared drink and a long, loud conversation. Alone was never a state she wanted to settle into, but she knew she needed it just now. It didn’t matter how quick she had trained herself to be, how easy she had made it to keep her own mind sitting right next to another opinion.
She was uncertain now, and she needed the quiet.
Jaxon poured the coffee, listening to the rolling splash fade to silence as he filled both cups. Both he and Aidra watched the steam curl over the tops, as if it were proof of something vital. Then Jaxon blinked and put the pot back on a cooler corner of the stove top.
He sat across from Aidra and they both pulled a cup toward them. She cradled hers an inch from her chest, breathing in the heat and soaking it in through her palms. He just wrapped both hands around his cup and left it on the table. Neither of them drank.
When Dad drives his children anywhere, he always says he’s carrying precious cargo. Precious cargo. I’ve known since I was very small, that was just a synonym for people I love.
For the first time, I drove down south to pick my little sister up from school. It was a long drive, made shorter on the return trip by having her in it.
It’s been a long time coming, but I’m beginning to understand precious cargo better. It’s too many letters to just be people I love, too many syllables. It’s slowly unfolding: people I love to hold, people I love to carry…
The Wednesday Serial will return next week, when I don’t spend eight hours in the car bringing someone home.
And have you heard about my book giveaway?
Answers served with more research than usual. Huzzah!
Trebez searched: Do you ever like/read/write the horror genre? This can include any subset of the horror genre.
I am torn between using this image result:
And this image result:
The first one has the right balance between boredom and intensity, but the last one is a pretty accurate depiction of what happens when I accidentally pick up a story that wasn’t properly advertised.
Blue suit jacket open and tie undone, he smiled at her.
“Are they gone?” she murmured and caught herself before she peeked over his shoulder into the next room. She already felt as if she had come to the kitchen to hide from the last late-night party guests. She had to bite back a smile at the ridiculousness of her urge to check around the corner for them, as if she were checking under the bed.
“I just packed Aunt Edie into the car myself,” he said. He squeezed her arms gently. “She wanted to stay to help you fold napkins or write place cards or something, but I saved you.”
Mom taught Shae to play the piano when she was seven and her short fingers were the only thing that got in her way. Sitting still, she watched the white and black keys and everything she saw on them was painted in the same distinct colors. She heard the way notes fit together, and if her pulse wasn’t her own perfect metronome, she faked it well enough to fool even herself.
She mimicked Mom until she didn’t have to anymore. Then she played as if she had never learned, but always known. One hand pulled out melody, the other harmony, like white rabbits from a hat. When her timing stumbled, she just muttered about wanting to stretch her fingers and kept going.
When I was five, I pulled Mom to the piano, grinning, jumping up and down on the end of her arm because of what I figured I had stolen, spying over Shae’s shoulder. I played for her with one hand, half the right notes with all the wrong timing in between.
“Ta-da!” I shouted at the end, with my hands over my head, and she grinned back at me.
“Did I do it right?” I asked.
Here are some things that have been saved in my Drafts folder with the idea that I will one day expand them into full blog posts (since they have all been hanging around for at least six months, it seems unlikely):
I’m always bad at dealing with the end of vacations. I appreciate the familiarity of my own bed. I like the freedom to cook my own food. I love the people who smile at me on a daily basis. Still, my thoughts on those last few days almost always hover around plots to steal just a little more time. Or how to escape to do it again.
The fact that I come home every time has nothing to do with me not being devious enough.
“This is the sort of place you get homesick for, even when it’s never been home,” Andie said, holding her cup of coffee.
Leah put her handful of strange small coins onto the counter and waved the scarf she was purchasing at the vendor. She had said hello a few moments before, asked how much, and exhausted her vocabulary frighteningly fast. She was holding tight to the word, good-bye so it would still be whole in her mind when she turned to walk away.
The man across the counter pulled the coins into his palm and counted them, smiling as he got the end of the rough stack. Then he handed one back, and nodded to her.
Zain’s father was an intelligent man. He knew it, from what he’d heard about him and what he remembered of the shelves upon shelves of books that he was not allowed to touch when he was small. Still, the wordlessness with which he showed his quick questions and capability of reading the answers without any response, was interesting, and Zain stayed where he was. He answered with his own curious look, and slight tilt of his head.
“Are you angry with me?” Cade asked. “Or is this just the way you are? Crisp and polite and cold with strangers…”
Zain blinked. He had never been called cold before. It was a fascinating statement, if only for its newness, but it was not altogether pleasing. “I don’t think anyone would say my father counted as a stranger,” he said simply.
“I think, with a little more explanation, you could get almost anyone to say that a seventeen-year-old who hasn’t been home in ten years, or seen his parents more than a dozen times since he was five, could name his father a stranger,” Cade mused back. “And you’re smart enough to know without my saying, that you didn’t answer my question.”
Zain shook his head. “And folks would agree, that by that last statement, you prove you’re no stranger. Strangers think I’m an idiot.”
Galen was not home when Tarra came back at the end of her work day. He was supposed to be at the table, bread and cheese and yesterday’s happy find of fresh carrots and zuchinni spread on the table for dinner. Instead, the house was dark as Tarra approached, and she spent ten minutes lighting the lamps and calling his name in every room upstairs and down, looking for him.
She exhausted every cranny that a seven-year-old could stuff himself into. Then she stood at the base of the stairs, listening for him. All she heard was her heart beat.
He was not home.
And the house was too empty.
Wrapping herself back into her coat, she snuffed the lamp, and ran outside. She knocked on one neighbor’s door, then the others. Neither Arri nor Ceddir had seen him. Ceddir who usually sat at his front window all afternoon putting in hems and patches, hadn’t even seen him come home.