S

SCIENTER, by Magne

Student, freelance writer, night-shift employee. Flash fiction almost daily. Rants and essays when the mood strikes.

I Made A Wish

I made a wish.
It formed in my mind like bubbles from a gently flowing stream.
It flowed from my consciousness, free as the soaring wind kissing the first rays of the sun.
It gave me warmth, like the tendrils of a quiet fire.

I made a wish.
It traveled to the distant corners of my thoughts.
Its frail being clashed against the endless smog of my worries.
It did all it can to escape the screeching clutches of my woes.

I made a wish.
It breathed a short life, and then lifted its ethereal arms to heaven.
It began asking, "why am I even here?", as it melted into fantasy.
It slowly disappeared, soon to be forgotten against the present.

I made a wish.
I had forgotten what it was.
Maybe it was something innocent.
Something like wishing I could spend some time in quiet.
Something like wishing I could touch the blades of grass in my hometown.
Something like wishing I could stop to feel the afternoon breeze flow around me.
Something like wishing I could watch the shooting stars arc over the moon.
Something like wishing I could pause for a moment, and live.

I made a wish.
I had forgotten what it was.
Maybe it was something innocent.
But the world has a way to kill innocence, even before it wakes.
The world has a way to hurt, to wound, to maim, to crush.
The world has a way to remind us that it is all that matters.
The world has a way to tell us that dreams are for another world, another life.
The world has a way to force us forward, endlessly.

I made a wish.
I had forgotten what it was.
Maybe it was something innocent.
Maybe it was not.
I had forgotten because I had let it go.
I chose to let it go, lest it be crushed by my own struggling arms.
I watched it fly to its heaven, with the wistfulness of a tear falling to the ground.
And just as soon I had forgotten it.

But maybe one day I'll see it again, and I'll remember... why I made a wish.

Glass

She took another peek at me before jotting down a few notes. Lovely red spectacles framed her hazel eyes, which narrowed for a moment as she strained to observe something. Clutching her clipboard firmly, she took down a string of numbers and smiled.

"We're all good here for today!" Her cheerful voice rang clear in the sterile room. "I guess we could call it a day?"

I closed my eyes as the lights around started to dim. Then, I heard distant voices filter through the glass.

"So, any plans tonight?"

"Hey, wanna go out for a drink?"

"I just got a loan for a new car! It's waiting downstairs, wanna check it out?"

"Hey, I heard there's this new seafood joint in town... wanna try?"

She rebuffed each question with a giggle and a gentle "no". I really envy them. At least they have their chance.

I struggled to feel my hands, trapped behind the clutches of steel manacles. My limbs felt faint, odd tubes going in and out at different points. One of them, leading straight down my throat, glistened a pale yellow. Inside it flowed that nectar which had been sustaining me in this harrowing prison for months.

Soon, the only lights left were those on my platform. The dull LEDs bounced off the glass cylinder that walled me from the outside. I could vaguely see my reflection against the curved crystal -- mangled, broken, an object up for study and display.

Suddenly, I saw a hand prop itself up against the glass, and I saw her face reflecting the soft white light. She wore a look of concern. It wasn't very useful, but it was what I needed to last through this night.

"Someday..." I thought to myself before the numbing pain of anesthetics coursed through my veins. I felt my claws relax just as soon as the sentence finished. "Someday I will break through that glass... and I will have her, too..."

The Red Thread

Legend has it that love is a red thread, connecting the fingers of those whose hearts are destined for each other.

I know for a fact this is not true.

I closed my eyes for a moment, as I felt the strain of several hours of staring at a monitor. When I looked up, people were milling about as usual. As they did, several dozen gossamer threads of crimson fluttered about, following those whom they bound. They were invisible to the eyes of everyone else, except mine. Sometimes I see them slice clean through any obstacles that come their way. Sometimes they fail, and snap soundlessly in midair. Sometimes they wither away unnoticed... only to find other loose ends and meld with them instead.

My eyes followed a particular string, one whose end sat next to a plain golden ring. A wedding ring. Its owner was sipping her morning coffee, as she excitedly told a friend how her husband would be coming home today after weeks of absence. Her hand waved around, and I was vaguely aware of a few other red strands moving in unison. Most of them bound her to other hands in the office. One of them bound her to me. And -- I had checked -- none of them bound her to her husband.

As I watched, several strands broke off from her fingers, and new ones replaced them in an instant. And yet she felt none of it. I then looked at the lone strand on mine. It burned a blood-red path through the air, blazing past the people and objects between us.

Legend says that love is a red thread connecting the fingers of those whose hearts are destined for each other -- I know for a fact this is not true. "Love" isn't about who is meant for whom. It's about who is prepared to do what, for whom.

As I sat, the thread on my finger tightened, sending up a sharp pang of pain and nearly slitting my skin. I've had enough. I stood up, and followed the red thread. The scars on my other fingers cried out for me to stop... but who am I to refuse my fate?

The Smoke, Pt. 2

He watched the smoke as it vanished into the incandescent glow of the street lamp. How long has he been here? He checked his watch -- it's been over an hour. Another drag and he dropped the spent butt, not even bothering to put out its dying embers.

"Cold turkey beat you up?", he heard the voice almost as soon as he heard the footsteps. She was smiling as she approached. "Sorry, I took my sweet time."

"Hey, fine by me," he said with a faint smile. Then, his eyes swept the cracked and dirty floor around them. "Shall we... head somewhere else?"

"Coffee?", she suggested.

They walked together quietly for a few minutes, their shadows slowly gliding through the faint halos of street lights.

"Hey, I heard about it..." She said hesitantly, breaking the silence.

"News travels that fast, huh?"

"There are some things better not hidden, you know?". An air of concern filled her voice.

He stopped in his tracks. "There are also some things that should never see the light of day."

"And I guess you think this is one of them?"

He shrugged. In his mind, though, he struggled at what 'this' actually meant. "Would it help if you knew about it from the start?"

"No," she quipped. Then, as his heart began to sink, she took a step closer. "I don't need to know that. It's enough, what I see from you. I don't need anything else."

The words caught him by surprise. He looked up, and saw her looking at him intently.

And he smiled. After what seemed like forever, a happy smile.

Above them, the new day struggled past the fading darkness. It was an uncertain dawn... but a dawn nevertheless.

The Smoke, Pt. 1

The smoke vanished into the incandescent glow of the street lamp. I can still feel its warm dregs in my throat as I smiled, glancing at the glowing tip of the cigarette. Beyond it, I can see her figure shake in laughter as another friend endlessly cracked jokes.

"You're seriously quitting?"

The voice caught me off-guard, and I could only muster a nod in reply. Had I spaced out again? She was suddenly beside me, her own cigarette held daintily between her fingers.

I took a long drag before dropping the butt and crushing it with my toe. "There," I said, "last stick ever."

"Why did you even start?", she asked as she blew narrow puffs from her lips. "Never figured you to be the type to want lung cancer," she said with a giggle. Man, I could listen to that sound all day.

I thought for a second. To be honest? I started just so I could steal a few minutes with her everyday. So I could have a reason to talk to her. Common ground, you know? So I could see her laugh, curse, jest, and pout. So I could hear her stories, her worries, maybe even her dreams and fears.

"I don't know, I just felt like it," I tried to answer as nonchalantly as I can. I also let out a small laugh. "And I think it's getting unhealthy, honestly."

She smiled. "I envy you. I wish I could let go that easily too. But yeah, I end up sticking to things I know could kill me eventually." She exhaled another puff as the group started heading back to the office.

I lagged behind as we walked, again watching her exchange barbs and cackles with the rest. Suddenly, a fit of coughing racked my body. When it ended, the sharp taste of blood spread around my mouth.

Ah, to hell with it, I thought. I'll be here again tomorrow.

From G to Em

Her feet sank into the rough sand as she positioned herself in front of the keys. A finger ran softly across the ivory, its distant coldness just as sharp as the early morning chill. She closed her eyes for a moment, hearing the gentle ebbing of the waves, feeling the gentle caress of the ocean breeze.

Then, she struck a note. The spark of a memory lit up in her eyes. Another note, another moment manifested from the past. Soon, her fingers were dancing skillfully across the keys, and her mind started remembering vivid pictures, entire stories. Here she was, her first day in town, young and naive. There she was, making new friends, meeting the person who would soon turn her life into a sweet melody. There she was, blindly taking a leap -- hoping love would give her wings to fly.

As her mind raced, the notes built up to a soulful crescendo. Enamored by her concerto, the wind picked up in bursts, bringing with it the gushing melodies of the sea itself. Her thoughts soared through days of sun and laughter, through nights of moonlight and passion, through a paradise woven by the cadence of trills and sweet nothings.

Then, suddenly as it had begun, the music stopped. Around her, the wind continued to howl against the gray skies, and the tide began to spray at her bare feet. The piano stood silent as a lone teardrop fell on an ebony key.

She struck two more keys, but she stopped and shook her head. That wasn't the scale -- she had slid from G to E minor.

The winds carried away a muffled sob, the start of a weeping bar she now had to play.

Summer

The shadows were lengthening when they reached the bridge. Halfway through, she stopped and leaned on the guardrail, letting the orange sun strike her face in full. The half-empty juice pack was still in her hand.

"Ah! Don't you wish vacation could come sooner?"

He let loose a slight laugh in agreement, and leaned in beside her. When he looked, she was staring intently at the pinpoint lights twinkling into existence from the far side of the bridge. There was a wistful smile on her face, and he could only guess what she was thinking.

She let her gaze drop to the ground, as the plastic straw moved slowly to her lips.

"You know... I'm sorry, I can't..."

It was a moment before her answer registered. When it did, he felt his heart sink. The light breeze gently brushed his skin, but he can't feel it against the weight of her words. He looked up again, meeting her gaze.

"Hey... are you okay?"

He laughed again. Why wouldn't he be? He hadn't really expected her to say 'yes'. He just took a chance, and maybe... just maybe...

Her hand lightly touched his as she moved to tame her wind-swept hair. There was something else in her eyes now. A gleam, a spark, an excitement that shone through the gathering dusk. He could only look at it in envy.

And there, on that bridge where night clawed its way past daylight, he felt the tender flame of his emotions strain hopelessly against the shadows.

She stood up and stretched. "Let's go?"

He nodded as they made towards the pinpoint lights. It's going to be a long evening.

Memory

The rain slid down in lazy streams against the black canopy of her open umbrella. She kept checking her watch, the hem of her peach skirt swishing constantly as she fidgeted in the bus stop.

"This is when we first... no, when we are supposed to meet," the man whispered to himself.

He was certain that not even the softly falling raindrops heard him. All around, the storm's aftermath washed the suburbs in a strange light. Here it glistened on a drooping leaf, there it smudged the cracked concrete. Everywhere, the world was oblivious of his presence.

Her eyes flitted right and left, straining against the gray morning and the wind that fluttered her ribboned hair. Pretty soon, a yellow bus came into view. A ghost of a smile passed by her face, revealing for a moment a fraction of the woman he had fallen in love with. That seemed... like such a long time ago.

Soon enough, the bus parked and its doors opened. She gingerly stepped on, avoiding the puddles. He, too, stepped forward and made to cross the street.

"You know you can't. And you know you shouldn't."

An old lady chimed in his thoughts, standing back a few meters and smiling at him gently. Then, she gestured to the curb. He followed with downcast eyes. How strange that something so cruel should take such a frail form!

The bus slowly drove away, trailing puffs of white smoke. He tried to recall how she looked today -- white top, peach skirt, red coat, brown bag... silken skin and ebony locks, eyes that would melt the heavens, a form that Venus would envy -- and tried hard to burn her image into his memory.

He tried to cherish every bit of this...

Because soon he will forget.

He must forget.