Category Archives: Vignettes

[A Story & A Song] House of Seasons

Song and a story-house of seasons

Dedicated to all of you who keep pushing forward.

There’s a house I like to visit. It sits at the end of the road. There’s nothing fancy about the place, itself.  It’s a standard ranch home, one floor, a garage, two doors – front and back – but it’s still my favorite place to be. I like to call it the “House of Seasons” because it constantly changes. Everyone else on the block, their lawn is evergreen. The bushes never bloom, but they never wilt, either. The trees never lose their leaves, no matter how cold it gets or how hard the wind blows. The porch lights are never on when kids are trick or treating, and the Christmas decorations are there one day and gone the next.

The House of Seasons though…sometimes the yard is the brightest green you’ve ever seen. Sometimes it has dead spots. Sometimes the bushes are abloom with bright red and yellow flowers, sometimes they’re nothing but twigs. I’ve seen the trees go from tall and strong, branches reaching for the sky, to almost rotted completely through in the space of a single hour. Sometimes the entire house looks like it’s been attacked by spiders, cobwebs wrapped around it so tight, there’s no way of telling if the bushes decided to bloom that day or not. Sometimes the entire yard is dead, and there are holes in the sides of the house. The wind makes an eerie sound when it blows through the neighborhood on those days.

But there is something interesting about that house. No matter how many dead spots in the lawn, or holes in the walls; no matter how dangerously those dying trees creak and sway in the wind, the front door? Is always open. On Halloween, the porch light is on. Christmas lights go up the day after Thanksgiving, and don’t go down until after the New Year has come and gone. Every year, the owner throws out all the stops. Sometimes the cobwebs hide the decorations, sometimes only half of the lights work, but anyone passing by can still see that a lot of care has gone into the work.

I think that’s why no one else in the block likes to talk about the house. Because they can tell that work does go into the house. You see, everyone else is so concerned with keeping up appearances, and go to such great lengths to hide any imperfections, they don’t stop to think about the people who are able to peek over fences.

I’ve seen the backyards of my neighbors. Festering cesspools fill half of them. The other half are either overgrown with weeds, empty, or so full of dead spots, no amount of fresh grass seed will ever fix it.

I’ve seen the backyard of the House of Seasons. I have seen a garden that would put Paradise to shame.

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[Story & A Song] Josephine’s Coat.

Song and a story-josephinescoat

“Why did you give her that, Shel? Are you trying to get Jo killed?”

Honestly, if it hadn’t been for the fact that I had never heard my father attempt to whisper before, I probably would’ve continued on my way, strutting around like a supermodel in the new coat Mama made me. But the sound of the voice that so often shook the rafters pitched low enough to barely be heard halfway down the hall, combined with my name, brought my catwalk practice to a screeching halt.

“Jake, baby, please, just listen-” My mother was better at whispering than my father, but not by much.

I went on tiptoes, edging my way closer to the kitchen.

“No, Rachel, you listen.”

I froze. I had heard others call my mother by her birth name, usually bill collectors and the such, but never my father, and never with so much anger it vibrated the air.

“When you became pregnant, and I proposed to you, you told me what it would cost me. I paid my price, Shel. I led those girls – my own daughters – to that butcher, without hesitation, because you asked me to. And now you do this.”

The kitchen was silent. I peeked around the corner.

Mama was standing at the sink, back to me as she stared out the window at something I couldn’t see. Her dark hair pulled back in her usual messy ponytail. Daddy was pacing back and forth by the island. Back then, I had never really considered the age difference between my parents. I knew Daddy was older than Mama; he stopped correcting people who assumed he was my grandfather a long time ago. I even knew he had been married before, to Mama’s older sister. A picture of Aunt Leah hung in his office, right next to pictures of distant cousins I never got to meet. Cousins who – when I thought about it – looked a lot like me.

I was still mulling over that when mama spoke again.

“You know what would’ve happened, Jay. You remember that life, just the same as I do. I did what I had to do, to protect my children.” She finally turned away from the sink to stare at Daddy. “Just as you did when you tried to fool me with those bodies.”

Daddy stopped pacing. I saw him lean heavily against the edge of the island. “You know about that?”

Mama laughed, but it sounded funny. “Two years ago, Jo had a dream she didn’t understand. She was playing dolls with her sisters. All of a sudden, her sisters’ dolls all stood up and bowed to hers. Sound familiar, Jacob?”

Daddy pulled out a chair from the dinner table and fell into it. “It can’t be…”

I don’t think Mama even heard him. She just kept going. “You were away on a ‘business trip,’ when it happened. I stayed up all night crying.”

“I’m sorry-”

Mama did that weird laugh again. “I wasn’t angry, Jake. It was almost a relief?” I saw her wipe at her face. “Knowing that you were willing to kill ten innocent children, to save your own…no, baby, I wasn’t mad at you.” Mama walked over to join him at the table. She took his hands and held them in her own. “I never wanted those girls to die, Jacob. They were my nieces. I loved them.”

“‘Were’ your nieces?” Daddy’s face was almost as white as his hair. “Oh God, Shel, what did you do?”

“I did what I had to,” Mama said. “Didn’t you wonder where I got all the patches for Josephine’s coat?” She leaned forward until her head was touching his. I don’t know what she told him then, but I will never forget the way he ran from the room and the sound of retching that echoed down the hallway.

Mama died not too long after that, right after she gave birth to my little sister. A week later, I had another weird dream. The sun and the moon fell from the sky, cracking open when they hit the Earth. Ten stars poured out of the sun, and laid down on the ground at my feet. I peeked inside the moon, thinking that maybe there were more stars trapped inside the pieces, but it was hollow. I told daddy about the dream. He just hugged me tight and cried.

The coat of many colors still hangs in my closet. I’m not afraid of what the future holds, and enough blood has been shed already.   

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[A Story & A Song] Starlight

Song and a story


I see it coming. Even moving at the speed of light, it’s slow enough for me to slip out of the way. The gas had collapsed on itself, then burst outward. Waves of stardust arching out into the void around it. Around me.

I’m tempted to trail my fingers through it as it passes by, let the particles stream between my fingers before they make their way across the universe. A millennium ago, I might’ve, but I know better now. I know to look ahead in time, and watch all the different paths my interference could set these particles on. The last thing I want to do is to cause the death of an entire solar system. Again.

Besides, I’ve waited too long for this. I spent half of eternity going from one end of the universe to the other, searching for a way to bring you back to me. It took me another three millennia before I thought to look into the patterns of the dust around me, and the atoms that made them up. The way they changed in time, but eventually I found it.

At the very edge of the universe – past what any electric eye on Earth could see – the dying star that would give birth to another – smaller – star, and the death of its child and so on and so on, until eventually it spews forth one final burst of energy before collapsing into itself.

That energy will travel through the cosmos until it collides with another star’s dying breath. The collision setting a chain of events that will give rise to your soul again. It will take a long time, this star is only on its second death and it still has at least three more to go, but it will happen.

In the meantime, I float here, untethered and unafraid, bathed in the light of a thousand galaxies as I wait for you.

From the album Vessels.

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Heart Song

I think it’s funny that we fit so well together.

We’re worlds apart, but when you put your arms around me, my head fits just perfect underneath your chin, and the space between you and I fades like it had never been there at all.

Then at night, you curl yourself around me, my security blanket against the world. I sleep deeply and my dreams are never less than peaceful when I feel you strong against my back. I love those nights, don’t get me wrong.

But sometimes…it’s your head under my chin as you listen to my heartbeat and I feel you trembling against my skin.

I never know what to say on those nights; so I just stroke your hair and brush kisses and whispered “I love you”‘s across your eyelids and face until you finally fall into your restless dreams.

And it is on those nights, while I wait for sleep to claim me too, that I wonder if you only hear a normal heartbeat, the same that a doctor might, or do you hear the song my heart sings only for you?

Infidelity

She wondered.

His body was warm and firm behind her back, the arm slung over her waist held her just close enough to keep her with him, but loose enough that she could leave if she wanted.

But that would ever happen. she loved him, adored him, needed him too much to ever go.

She was thinking of the late nights, the missed calls, the cold spot against her back when ‘I’m sorry baby, I know we had reservations, but what can I do? It’s a really important case.’ happened again.

She entwined one hand with his. Saw the shining band of gold on her finger and his and wondered when their vows came to mean so little to him.

She splayed her other hand against her still flat tummy and wondered if the new life she carried would bring him back home…or drive him further away.

She watched the night turn to dawn and wondered what he saw in her. Was it the same thing that had drawn them together? But no, it couldn’t be. ‘It was love at first sight.’ he told her. Surely one didn’t fall in love like that more than once in a lifetime.

She wanted to ask him.
She never would.
It didn’t really matter, after all.
The child probably wasn’t his anyway.