One, Two, Three.

Walking,

Breathing,

Smelling.

STOP.

Here it comes.

Deep breath,

Hit,

Heat pounding.

Skin crawls,

I want out of my own body.

Mind running,

Racing,

Deep breath.

One,

Two,

Three.

Scream.

Paralyzed.

Deep breath.

One,

Two,

Three.

Eyes closed.

Can’t see,

Don’t want to hear.

Block it out.

Deep breath.

One,

Two,

Three.

Think.

Breathe.

Find the place.

Think trees,

Think water,

Can hear it now.

Feel the warmth,

Smell the flowers,

Just breathe.

One,

Two,

Three.

Open eyes,

Look around,

Hasn’t changed,

Not in danger.

Breathe.

One,

Two,

Three.

Peace.

Quiet.

Serenity in a chair that isn’t there.

Alive.

The Dream

A dream is a single gulp of air before you jump off a cliff.

That last sniff of roses before leaving your grandmother’s house the last time.

A quiet,

All consuming thought,

Of near perfect existence that couldn’t possibly exist.

A dream held high and aloft,

Something to be aspired to,

To grasp at when you’re down at your lowest point.

A panic attack on the floor of your bedroom,

A box full of tissues sitting next to you after a break up,

These things cannot touch the dream.

No one can touch it but yourself.

We abuse the dream,

Twisting it until it’s nothing like what we wanted in the first place,

Crying over what it has become,

Cursing at the world for changing it –

But you changed it.

You allowed experiences to change the dream,

Warping it,

Turning it around,

Shattering it.

But you can change it back.

You can take it back.

You can bring it back.

Because the only thing stronger than the dream –

Is the hope that lives inside the dream.

Debt

Aurora pushed open the door to the hut that they’d found in the woods. It had started to rain earlier that day and wouldn’t let up, even in to the night. She’d be grateful for two walls and a piece of roof still being intact of this place. When the door to the hut fell over and landed with a loud thunk, kicking up a pile of dust, Aurora sighed.

“Well, at least there’s a roof.” She said to the horse she had with her.

Wicket nickered at her and nudged her shoulder.

“Oh all right. I give in. We’re staying here.” She stepped in and Wicket followed her inside before Aurora could stop her.

Aurora pulled a torch and flint from Wicket’s panniers. She lit the torch after only a couple of tries, the rain had cooled her fingers to the point of near uselessness, and waited to let her eyes adjust to the new light. Aurora noticed there was something odd.

“Wick, I don’t think these people left on their own.” She said.

“They didn’t.” said a person from behind her.

Aurora screamed and nearly dropped the torch.

“Oh for love of the goddess! Do you have to go about scaring the crap out of every traveler who’s looking for shelter?” Aurora demanded.

Aurora got a good look at her intruder as he laughed. He had possession of bright silver eyes and pointed ears.

“I would have to pick Elven-kin land. Never mind, I’m off.” She said and made her way to the door, hauling Wicket behind her, who protested, but went along.

“You can stay. I haven’t laughed like that in an age.” He said.

“May I have the name of the lord to whom I owe his generosity?”

“Polite, when you want to be, aren’t you?”

“When I’m not startled, tired, hungry and cold, yes.” Aurora shot back.

The man laughed. “Your people call me Amras Séregon.”

“Oh hell. I’ve landed on the high king’s land. Of all the bloody quaint luck.”

A litte bit of cyanide, please.

“I’ve got it this time.”

“No, I’m sure you don’t.” Harry said as she looked up from the mound of paperwork she was going through and smiled at Jason as he came through the door with a folder.

“I’m sure I really do and there’s a six hundred-dollar bet going through the office that says you can’t figure this one out using just the case photos.” Jason said.

Harry looked at the folder and considered her options. Pepper’s birthday was coming up and she could really use the extra money.

“What’s the buy in?”

“Twenty. You get the whole pot if you can figure this one out. No one’s taking a cut.”

Harry looked up at Jason. “Stumped the lot of you, did it?”

“Not only did it stump all of us, it stumped the Captain. This is one of his old ones.”

Harry laughed. “You’re on. Gimmie.”

Jason handed the box over to her and stepped back. “I’ll come back in an hour.”

Harry didn’t say anything. She was already heading down to evidence lock up. She needed the large table if she was going to figure this one out.

Stepping in to the room, Harry opened up the folder and spread out the photos inside. They were from an early nineteen eighty’s case.

“No one wears shoulder pads like that anymore.” Harry said aloud as she got out a note pad and a pen and made a note of the approximate date.

Pouring over the photos, Harry smiled to herself. She was humming when the Captain set foot in the room an hour later.

“Hows it coming?” He asked.

“She died from hypothermia after being poisoned, stabbed and hit over the head with the brass falcon.” Harry said and the Captain spit out his coffee.

“How the hell did you manage to figure that out in an hour?” He demanded.

“Not here. Case room. I have to prove it in order to win the bet, right?”

“I’ll pull the squad in. This is going to be good.”

Harry laughed. “They’re going to be so pissed, aren’t they?”

The Captain just laughed as he went to gather the squad. Harry gathered her photos and went to the case room to set up. She just finished taping up the last photo when the squad filed in.

“All right, Harry. Let’s see you prove this one.” Jason said.

“Captain, read me through the case file, only up until the body was discovered by the first on the scene.” Harry said. She sat on the stool in the middle of the room, case board at her back.

“Call came in at six am, January twenty-fifth, nineteen eighty-four.” The Captain began.

Harry smiled. She was right about the time. Getting up, Harry walked over to the board where she had written down her talk points. Picking up a board pen and removing the cap, she checked off the date she had listed.

“Upon arrival, first on the scene reported that the home owner, a Ms Wanda Glass, had been found dead by her neighbor with whom she had coffee every morning. The neighbor, Mrs Eloise Harp, says that she had seen the deceased the night before. They’d met in the hallway as Mrs Harp was coming back from her weekly grocery shopping and Ms. Glass was coming back from what she assumed was a date. She had been crying but did not want to tell her why. They parted in the hallway, where Mrs. Harp went in to her apartment. Mrs. Harp says that she put away the groceries and went to bed.” The Captain huffed at the end of his long speech and looked up at Harry.

Harry walked over to the case boards with the photos. “I’ve taped all the photos to the backside of the glass boards; so I can write on the photos without ruining them.”

“Just get on with it, show off.” Jinks said. Harry flipped him off and the squad laughed.

“Starting with the theory that there was a date that evening, the answer is no. There was no date.” Harry said.

“How do you know?”

“What woman wears her winter boots, thick wool pants and a sweatshirt with padded shoulders on a date? Even in the eighties she’d stick out.” Harry said. She moved to one of the boards. “Look at the windows, there’s frost on them. The furnace was out and she was wearing all that and the coat because of it being out.”

“So?” Jameson said.

“So, why’s she only wearing one glove?” Harry asked and circled the victim’s right hand.

“Someone came to the house?”

“Exactly.” Harry said and she circled a bowl of almonds on the kitchen counter. “Captain, what’d the apartment smell like?”

“Almonds.” The Captain answered after he looked through the file.

“But there was no almond extract, right?”

The ruffling of papers told Harry that he was looking, she never turned away from the board.

“Yes. No almond extract, in anything, in the home.”

“The eighties were the beginning of the extracts craze. There’s a heating plate and almonds, but no extract.” Harry said as she circled the heating plate for extracts. “Why is there no extract? Where is it?”

“Okay, so where?” James asked.

“There isn’t one. It was never there. She was poisoned with cyanide.” Harry said. The squad started shouting.

“There’s no way you could know that from the photos.”

“Sure there is. The almonds give it away.” Harry said.

“Almonds?” The Captain asked.

“She was the one making the cyanide. It can be found in large enough quantities in almonds that are produced outside of the US. In the eighties, she could have gotten the almonds from any number of places shipped to her by ordering over the phone.”

“The Captain says that you said that’s only one thing she died from. What else is there?” Jason said.

“She was also stabbed.” Harry said. She trotted over to the photo of the knife and circled the tip. “See? It’s congealed and sticky when she was stabbed, not fresh. There’s no drips anywhere in any of the photos that I’ve seen.”

“Okay, I’ll bite. How do you know?” Jamson asked.

Harry went over to the photo of the knife wound and pointed at the top. “The knife went in while she was already cold and dead. There’s jagged marks around the opening, like someone had to saw their way in to her in order to stab her.”

“The head wound?” The Captain promoted.

“Right. So she let her killer in, takes off her right glove to shake hands with that person. No business woman is going to shake hands with anyone who’s got bare hands and she still has her gloves on.” Harry said.

“So that’s why she took her glove off.” Jason said.

“Right. It’s also what drove the killer in to a rage.” Harry said.

“How?” Jinks asked.

“She was wearing gloves. The killer dosed her apartment with cyanide to kill her. Make it look like an accidental poisoning from making her own cyanide.” Harry said.

“So because she didn’t die from poisoning, the killer hit her over the head.” Jim, the youngest and newest in the squad, said.

“Bingo. Hit her while she was turning to lead her guest into the living room.” Harry said.

“That still doesn’t explain the hypothermia, which you said she actually died from.” The Captain said.

“Sure it does,” Harry said with a smile. “because she was hit over the head in a house full of items that were dosed with cyanide, she couldn’t turn the kerosene space heater near the open window in the living room.”

Harry walked over to the board and circled the heater and the can of fuel sitting on the other side of the room.

“When the gas ran out in the heater, the victim froze to death.” Harry said with a smile.

“I’ll be damned, she did it.” Jinks said.

“No, you’ll be poorer. Pay up. You own the lady.” Jason said. The Squad laughed and started handing over the cash for the betting pool.

“Okay, so now that we’ve established death. I know you’ve got theory on who killed her, based on the photos.” Jameson said.

“The neighbor.” Harry said as she counted up the cash.

“Damn it. What gave it away?” The Captain asked.

Harry pointed at the scarf laying on the table. It was a pink and light blue. “Mrs. Harp was furious with Ms Glass for sleeping with her husband, so she plotted to kill her.”

“How do you know she slept with the husband?”

Harry stuffed the cash in to her pocket and walked over to the photos of the bedroom and circled the pipe laying on the bedside table.

“Who stabbed her?” James asked.

“The cheating bastard of a husband.” Harry answered.

“Why was she making the cyanide?” Jinks asked

“To kill the wife so she and the husband could run off together.” Harry answered.

“I’ll be damned. It took me six months to close this case.” The Captain said.

Harry laughed and capped her pen. Tossing it to the Captain, she strolled out of the case room.

“Same time next week, Harry?” James called.

“If you’re willing to lose more money, I’m willing to play!” Harry yelled back and the squad laughed.

It is whatever it is

Sundays are ripe for laziness. Just knowing you have to go back to work the next day makes you want to drag your feet, hoping that the day will last just a bit longer. On this particular Sunday I was laying on the sofa in the library staring at the TV, which these days seemed to be stuck on the weather channel.

“Watching that thing is going to make your eyes bleed.” Jack said as he leaned over the top of the sofa to look down at me.

“Will not. Besides, it’s important.”

“Nope. It’s whatever. This is important.” He leaned down and kissed me.

I smiled up at him when we broke apart.

“Weather dude says there’s a storm coming and we might get the day off tomorrow.” I said.

“Okay, so maybe it’s a little bit more than whatever.”

I laughed and hit him with a pillow before pulling him on to the couch with me. We watched the TV curled together on the couch as the sun sunk in to the west.

“Jack?”

“Hmm?”

“I’m glad I get to spend whatever with you.”

“So am I, Lucy.”

Whiteout

It was cold. I’ve never been this cold. I shivered in my parka as I made my way through the snow across the frozen tundra to the mail drop. Supplies were scarce this far north and the drop meant that we could continue the mission for a little while longer.

I was half way to the drop when a brown and white blur sped by in the corner of my eye. It was a dog. Probably belonged to one of the locals. I heard a shout and the dog ran back to his owner. I caught the eye of the owner and nodded. I couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman, but they nodded back and went inside their own dwelling.

No one would stay outside in this storm. Only the desperate would go outside, and I was desperate.

I pushed on through the snow and finally reached the drop. Pulling my hands out of my pockets where they were warm, I sighed as I grabbed the boxes. They were safe and undamaged.

Perfect.

I turned and made my way back to my own dwelling, the wind tearing at my coat and wrapping itself around my now exposed fingers. I whimpered a little from the cold and tried to move faster. The wood frame of the house I was staying in came in to view and I smiled. Home. I was home.

Making my way up to the door, I tucked my precious boxes under one arm and opened the door. I stepped inside and closed it behind me, leaning against the door.

“It’s not that cold outside you know. You’re acting like you’ve been sent to the Arctic.” My roommate said.

“Says you.” I replied.

“It’s not even snowing that hard!”

“Again, says you.”

“What was so important that you needed to go out, dressed like that?” She asked as she looked at my boxes.

“My tea order arrived.”

I heard a groan and a thunk as her head hit the desk. I smiled.

Trifecta weekend post

So I’m sorry I vanished on you guys. I was dealing with drama in my real life so I put the Trifectas and my writing on hold for a while. I’m back now and I hope this weekend things calm down enough for me to finish my work on my latest short story. It’s about a teddy bear. Meanwhile, have this for the weekend Trifecta.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Is that normal?” I asked as two lovers walked by on the wooded trail with hearts floating around their heads.

“Yep.  Doesn’t that happen where you’re from?”

“No.”

“Too bad.”

I silently agreed.