Gravity is such a weak force. Anyone could defy it with the least effort, pulling bodies free with every step. Yes, we sent rockets pummelling out of the atmosphere on columns of concentrated fire, but a child could break the bond with a leap. It’s the smallest thing, and it took almost nothing for it to fail.
So early in the morning it was still night, out in the deep grass where the deer have held court since the days of the Tudors. The mist dragged across the world, milky white cataracts. What we were doing was wrong, but there was no option.
In the old terms, it was a Crow Drop. Something deniable, a dead drop for the Devil’s agents. An unobserved, unguarded corner of nowhere that accumulated unbought souls. No-one had bargained for them, no-one had cleaned and accepted them, they fell from the meat of a body when the light went out and were picked up by those of a mind to notice.
No presents. Something needed to be done, so here I am in the back yard of a house far from home, dressed in black and carrying a crowbar. I wait. I’ve been here three nights in a row and I know to wait. The lights on the tree switch off and still I wait. Give them half an hour, 45 minutes to be sure.
In at the window, splintering the wood to wrench up the sash. In. No light but a streetlight a few yards down, doesn’t matter. Everywhere is the same in suburbia. I roll the balls of my feet across the parquet floor, balloon my legs silently across to the tree. There, gifts. Too many for this small family, they sha’n’t miss a few. I pull off and pocket the tags. Someone shifts upstairs. A child sighs in their sleep. I think of Jo, sprawled on the rug, hollow-cheeked and sad-eyed. No presents. Could I disappoint her?
The presents are wonderful. Jo will be happy, maybe she will smile for the first time in months… but something nags at me. A sigh. A tag sat in my pocket. Something needs to be done, or I will never feel well.
So here I am again, in another yard. Waiting for the lights to go off, waiting to go in and take not so many gifts. No need to replace like for like. Then tomorrow; another house, a few less, to make up for this. And then tomorrow.
What, this came out as poetry? Clearly some sort of mistake.
I have taken great pains to be exact in my report. However, said report is on my desk and here we are far from my desk. Well. This is the best I can do for you from memory and from some notes made on my phone when I didn’t have a pen and paper to hand.
More quickfic. This is a very silly prompt.
First poetry in over a year. For the weekly Whimword challenge…
I’m not going to defend bad writing. Bad writing isn’t worth the time. But isn’t it curious that we see bad writing more clearly when it’s about sex? To the point where there is a gleeful pulling-apart of that writing on an annual basis, snipping the sex out of its context in a novel and slapping it onto websites with “READ THE BAD SEX AWARD NOMINEES HERE”. We then all trundle up to the sideshow and chortle about icky similes and clumsy adjectives. They brought it on themselves, yes, when they wrote this. Stupid writers.
There were no fires that year. It was hot, sure, but something in the city conspired to keep the combustion only in the heads of the citizens. Minds burned up and burned out; it was a season of high fever and hi jinx. People danced on the telegraph poles, ran into traffic just to play chicken with motor cars, jumped from windows.
They weren’t trying to kill themselves. They weren’t depressed, they were full of life. Window jumpers would stand on the ledge and call down to the street. Ahoy! After a few incidents, the crowd knew the routine. SUMMON THE FIRE BRIGADE! the cry would go up, carried lustily along the street to the nearest hook-and-ladder station, and the firemen – no women then – would arrive tout suite and unpack the trampoline.
It was lucky there were no fires, we all felt blessed. The window jumpers gave the fire brigade something to do, when they weren’t rescuing cats from trees. The cats could climb down on their own but everyone agreed that the spectacle was the thing and the cats didn’t seem to mind.
It was a hot summer, and we were all touched by madness in the sunshine. Our minds boiled until the steam bloomed from our ears and the flames glowed in our eyeballs. We bounced when we jumped, and we climbed where we didn’t need to climb. When autumn came we lit the bonfires and the smoke of a real fire finally cleared our heads.