The room at the top of the stairs

room at the top of the stairs

They climbed the crumbling concrete stairs one by one; Macy in front and Amber close behind.  As they ascended, they slowed their pace, uneasy about what they might encounter above.

When they reached the top of the stairs they found themselves at the end of a long hallway lined with a series of heavy wooden closed doors.  Light filtered through the cracks in the doors and the air was fresh and cool from the breezes that flowed through under them.

The floor appeared deserted; in fact it felt devoid of any living energy.  They could not hear or even sense that something or someone was there.  They stood there for a moment, slightly out of breath and not sure if they should move forward.

At the far end of the hall a door stood partially open.  Macy stepped forward and began to walk towards it.  They walked slowly past the doors and approached the opening cautiously.  The door creaked as Macy slowly pushed it open further and they stepped in to a small narrow room lit by a window on the right side.  Several moss-covered floor tiles had been pried up and were leaning against the wall below the window.  A leafy plant grew from an accumulation of soil in one of the cracks in the concrete where one of the tiles had been, illuminated by the light shining in from the wooden framed window.  Above, the crumbling stucco ceiling revealed an old wooden timbered structure.

At the end of the room, the upper part of the wall had been panelled with dark varnished gumwood and below it sat a beautiful old altar also dark and varnished.  A long flat tray sat on the altar and Macy went over to examine its contents.

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The greening

Ferris Wheel
The greening had begun again. The lights had been out for more than five bitter winters and every year since then, spring revealed itself in more wanton glory — a long-awaited wonder of warmth after the never-ending ache of the winter’s frigid darkness. The sun rose earlier each day and spring slowly progressed. The plants and trees grew even more voluptuous. On the outskirts of the city the landscape became deeply buried in growth and vegetation that creeped in and around, over and under almost everything that had been.

And in the inner city, the cracks in the pavement of roads and sidewalks filled with copious weeds and grasses; and the brick walls of deserted buildings wore thicker coats of English ivy and Virginia creeper.  The perennial oriental lilies and orchids in suburban gardens were long gone, chocked out by goutweed, purple loosestrife, Norway maple, periwinkle and giant hogweed which had spread madly throughout the unmowed lawns.

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Lost in thought


Macy stepped outside to join Amber behind the cabin.  Her sister seemed lost in thought, gazing down at a small brown object she held in her hand.  She was smiling and for a brief moment her face softened and the stress, fear and frustration melted from her features and Amber seemed content.  She turned and lifted her hand to show Macy a rusty penny which lay in her palm.

“I was thinking about when Tomi was a little boy,” she said.  “Remember how silly he used to get?  How he would practice magic tricks over and over again and then they would never work when he showed them to us?”

Macy grinned, “What a goof he was.  Magic was a simple thing back then wasn’t it?  It was something we played games with, something that we thought we could control—an amusement for the little ones.”

How things had changed since the lights had gone out and the Mentara had risen.



The day the lights went out


When the lights finally went out forever, the rain had poured relentlessly the entire day, washing away the last of the dirty snow which swirled down through the rusty grates into the storm sewers below.  By the time darkness fell, the city was eerily quiet—and a heavy atmosphere muffled the air like a black, damp, cold blanket.  For a while, a few streetlights remained on, pulling the last residues of power from the local generating station, but in time, they too began to spark on and off; and on and then off again; and eventually, one by one, all the lights flickered out and the street was lit only by the headlights from an occasional car as it shooshed slowly by along the cold wet pavement.

Behind the locked doors and the shuttered, curtained, closed and boarded windows the people waited for their lights to go back on.  They waited while the food in their refrigerators warmed and they waited while the garbage under their sinks began to rot and their kitchens smelled like sour milk. They waited while the frozen lasagnas and breaded chicken wings in their freezers thawed forgotten because their electric ovens could no longer cook them.

They waited and stared at their reflections in the black screens of their computers and tablets and they waited while the batteries in their not-so-smart phones slowly died.

The days passed interminably and the lights still did not come on.  The early spring temperatures dipped again and the cold of the dark nights invaded their homes and stayed like an unwelcome guest.

And still they waited.  “The lights will come back on soon,” they told their children and their pets and their frightened elderly parents.  “Don’t worry; this won’t last long; everything will be alright again soon. It will all go back to normal and our lives will be the same again.”

The waters within me

How do I let you flow?

The watery tears of my sorrow, my heartbreak, my grief?

Shall I reject you as I have been rejected?

Or shall I bottle you up and contain you?


I need tissues, I need toilet paper, I need napkins, I need pads.

I need something to block the flow of this sorrow from me. . . plug it up. . . stop it.

What about meds?  Where are the meds I need to stop this grief?

Is there an app? Invent me something that will stem the flow!

Please stop this flow of water from me.


Let me hold it in.

Block it, stop it.

Let it fill me until I explode and my waters run out of me,

down my face,

onto my clothing,

onto my keyboard,

off the desk,

soaking the upholstery of my chair,

creating a dark stain on the carpet that just flows and grows until my waters rise above me and short out my technology and leave me floating.

Like a dry brittle leaf.