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Poignantly Yours.


It was a sweet-sapping summer. The summer they killed Floyd, and I was lost in Minnesota. The news kept parroting a running commentary, and I couldn’t help the eel-sliver feeling that started in my belly and traveled to my back. I’m a dog about death. Something cold and waxy. I guess that’s what comes from a father who dumps you in a room with dead bodies at six and expects you to watch as he messes around. I couldn’t stand the thought of being dead, and was already, in a way, lost in a city where death was the only thing you heard.

That was hell for me.

It was overrun by demons at that time, with the rain drizzling a soft liqueur finish till the subways smelled like stale piss. All the dust they kicked up during the riots settled like cold air at the back of my throat. It had nothing to do with me, but I couldn’t help feeling guilty as if the glass on the sidewalks was my fault.

But the guilt only hit me on my way to work. I had moved to Minnesota from New York, after college. I had gotten a degree in something or other - worked an office job. Nothing substantial enough to enjoy, but enough to allow me the comfort of living outside city limits. Well enough, I guess. It kept me away from the fires and burning tires, but only served to make the walk that much more depressing.

I don’t know what ever possessed me to move to Minnesota. I only knew two people in the whole city. Abner, a friend from university - and Belle. Abner was more of an associate, insistent upon my presence, which served to make his douchebaggery tolerable. Abner was. . . but Belle was special - an enigma. She was the neighbor who threw rocks at my window, determined to play with the sad-eyed loner next door. She was the neighbor who threatened to drown me if I didn’t dunk her back. And she was the neighbor, who, eventually, budding and beautiful turned to a new happiness.

I hadn’t seen either one of them since their housewarming a year ago. Belle, swollen and full, and Abner, a peacock amongst his treasures. He hadn’t spoken to me much then, I sat in the corner nursing a vodka, till like any man jaded by luck I went driving down the boulevard drunk and displaced. I guess he knew my feelings, or, if not him, then Belle. One of them at least, so I guess I was surprised, pleasantly or not when they visited me that summer.

They pulled into my driveway around eleven. I could hear the screeching tires and tittering laughter before they even pulled up. My living room was drab. Furnished by a man with limited taste, and I realized that there was nothing I owned of which to be proud. There was no pity behind that thought, for all my contentment, I really didn’t care, but I couldn’t allow Abner to see it. I left my scotch on ice and stepped onto the porch.

He was already there, standing imperiously on my lawn, hands on hips, some sort of god, same scornful sneer on his thin lips. He shook my hand absentmindedly and then, abruptly, “nice.” He gestured uselessly before letting his hand drop to his thigh with a meaty slap. Belle laughed, a tinkering thing that went up and up in a breathy purr.

“Ghost!” She laughed again, that foolish laugh, and I found myself chuckling. “I really can’t think,” she hiccuped, charmingly and then, leaning forward conspiratorally, “we got a baby sitter for the day. Nana got herself the baby.”

Abner slapped me on the back. “Memphis my man . . .” He stared intently into my face as if searching for something.

He was a man built like a rock. Spoke like a rock, deep in his throat. He spoke like he was spitting out each word. He held himself in as if he were bursting, or ready to burst out of the tailor-fitting suit he wore. Like a flimsy cell of sorts, the bow tie choked his words back down into his throat, silencing him. No matter; his wife seemed content to speak for the both of us.

“This is a nice place you got here. . .” she searched my face, piercing me with that inexpressible vitality she held inside; like a milk crystal, she seemed to reflect my own visage back to me.

“. . . such a nice place; and the weather just right.” And then she whispered, or maybe it was her dress that whispered; that soft white dress that clung silkily here - loosely taken with the wind there - whispered huskily; “you deserve it Memphis.”

She muttered on, something about Sylvia, and the only fool thought I could conjure was fireflies.

With the name of my mother, she seemed to fizzle out, retreating back into herself. I glanced over at Abner, but his soul seemed to be wandering on Belles’ face. The silent storm crept up my lawn and towards the porch. . .

The silence dragged on.

Abner loosened his bow tie, cleared his throat, and opened his mouth, but no sound came out. He tried again.

“I’ve been reading -”

“He’s been reading -,” his wife interrupted. I glanced at the two. He had said his piece with such conviction, and his wife with a misery that drowned her ocean-blue eyes.

“I’ve been reading,” glanced at Belle. “I’ve been reading up on theory. You know, like Ole Gibbs used to teach us at university. “Somehow his reference to our younger years annoyed me and seemed to trivialize his point. I stopped listening.

Mutter. . . mutter. . . mutter. Gab - gab - gab. On and on he droned. Somewhere in between he and Belle got into an argument. Her pleasant voice rose and fell like chimes and even the approaching horror - even the approaching storm - stopped to listen. At one point Belle had commenced crying.

“Oh, how cruel! Memphis; do you hear how this big brute talks to me? How cruel, and me his wife.” And Abner standing off by himself in the corner muttering curses in an incessant stream. And bit by bit his cursing ceased, as if each word had slowly removed his anger. Shoulders slumped he turned to look at me, his normal pepper-grey eyes shot through with pain.

“And I’ve been wondering,” and here he turned to Belle who had ceased crying and was vengefully beheading the imitation roses on my front step. “And I’ve been wondering - what is the meaning of this circus.” Then we all thought of Sylvia, and the conversation died. The heads of a dozen red roses littered my steps, and I couldn’t help thinking that those roses would grow new roses right there in the concrete.

Then the storm pounced.

“Abner, you hulking idiot. You fool. What do you know, you read some books -”

“Let’s go home -” and then, if by afterthought, “honey. I’m sorry about this Memphis.” An apologetic grin.

“You’re sorry?” Belle was screeching now. “You go on speaking on demons and bringing up ghost. You ruined our evening.” She crossed her arms over her ample chest and pursed her lips.

“I - I’m so sorry Memphis.” He looked miserable.

His wife ran, tripping over cracks in the concrete. “Sylvia. . . Sylvia,” she muttered, stumbling like a drunkard.

The sound of a door slamming, and Abner's heavy footsteps pounding after her. “Goodnight. . . Goodnight,” I muttered. A second car door slamming, pealing off into the amber-lit night, and I wondered if they would ever pull into my driveway again.


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Points: 68
Reviews: 1

Mon Feb 26, 2024 8:09 pm
s65ns wrote a review...

First off, I would like to start by saying this piece was beautifully written. I could vividly imagine all the scenes in my head and felt like I was immersed into the story.

I love your writing style. It’s different from what I am used to reading, but it’s a good kind of different. The way you structured each sentence to seemingly have its own unique meaning was just outstanding.

There were parts of the story that I got a bit confused, but that could have also been user error on my part or once again me being new to this writing style. The paragraph where Belle begins by saying “Ghost!” was the only confusion I had throughout the story.

Overall, this piece is very well articulate and keeps you wanting more. I love that it is something of a murder-mystery. I look forward to reading more of your work!

Keep up the good work, Beast!

Random avatar

Points: 42
Reviews: 19

Fri Jan 19, 2024 11:57 pm
emilia9ludenberg wrote a review...

Hello! Emilia here for a review :)

First off, I love the varied sentence lengths- there's a fine line between making all the sentences sound the same, and having too much variation, which can create too much incoherence- and I think that this is a really nice in-between. It helps the story to flow really nicely, and makes it more engaging for the reader to well, read it. Furthermore, the imagery in the exposition is spot-on; it really made me picture the scene much more vividly. I like how this is kind of a murder mystery, but then there's also drama and romance- I don't know, I thought that just made it seem more multi-faceted and cool. The turbulent marriage between Abner and Belle I actually found both tragic and humorous at the same time- I think it's because their relationship is not really the main focus of this story (so far, at least, I believe). Apologies I don't really have any constructive criticism; I couldn't find any significant flaws.

Keep writing!

BEASTtheHUN says...

Thank you so much for this review.

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37 Reviews

Points: 2450
Reviews: 37

Wed Jan 17, 2024 6:55 am
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avianwings47 wrote a review...

I'd like to say, right off the bat, that just the first line of this chapter enticed me. As a writer, one of my weaknesses is writing interesting hooks, so I love to read things that capture my attention from the beginning. I also love your writing style. You paint beautiful imagery and I really heard the narrater's voice within the writing. you also created an atmosphere almost within the narrator's mind that made the story that much more interesting. The first few paragraphs add a lot of suspense and wonder; they made me want to continue reading to find out what happened.

However, there were a few parts where I got a little bit confused. In the beginning, when the narrator is describing how the place he was living was like hell, it was hard for me to determine if that was in New York or Minnesota. I'm not sure if it is necessary for me to know, since I've only read the first chapter, but if he moved away from New York because he felt that way about it, then I feel it might be important.

"I don't know what ever possessed me to move to Minnesota. I only knew two people in the whole city." The only problem with this is that Minnesota is a state, so it doesn't make much sense to say "whole city." Honestly, though, the only reason I really noticed was because I was actively looking for something to give constructive criticism on since I didn't think I would have much to advise on. (I would consider you to be a much better writer than me)

Despite the confusion at the beginning, I thought this was an overall very strong first chapter. There are interesting characters, room for the readers to wonder, beautifully crafted scenes, and a sense of mystery that I hope to be able to read more about. I'm looking forward to seeing more of this novel!

BEASTtheHUN says...

Thanks so much for this review. I see what you said about Minnesota, that was kind of a silly mistake, thanks for picking up on that.

Life is a banana peel and I am the fool who dared to tread on it.
— looseleaf