Weekly Tanka Prompt Challenge – Week 20 – Thanksgiving & Black Friday

 

A new Thanksgiving

Runs up the Jolly Roger

As Black Friday sails

Snap and crack with the cannons

On this pirate ship of fear

 

Tanka: 5-7-5-7-7

Thanksgiving & Black Friday prompt from: Ramblings of a writer 

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Signposts

Mind flickers fluorescent. On. Off. On. Off. The snap of plastic, sharp in the air. Soiled. Another broken picture show. Another broken streetlight. Another broken stranger. We catch water in a paper cup from the segregated graveyard. Where are the signposts in this land? We break. We crawl. We stand. We fall. We crawl. We break.

‘It’s not so bad,’ whispers legion, ‘not so bad here.’

A peeling poster grips the floor. Gravity always has its own agenda.

 

Cut along the L. ‘Is that my name?’

‘Mr Tuesday?’ The door shut over her voice, but she waits anyway. There is no Mr Tuesday here. Camouflaged in the bamboo of shadow, she calls out again, ‘Mr Tuesday?’

No one wants this name. It’s a nice name. Perhaps it could be our name? Snatching twists punctuation into the neat little row of 17 green chairs, ‘I’ll have it!’

Her smile is, cold, alone, ‘Have you returned all the pens, Mr Tuesday?’

‘Is this my jacket?’ we are feeling for pockets that might be there, ‘I don’t seem to know.’

She sighs like we have done this a thousand times, ‘Do you want me to check?’

A moth is circling the moon. Burn. Burn. Burn. I’ll have it,’ our lips are working her harmony around the words. No more signposts. In this land. Don’t tell.

‘They will just search your room again you know,’ she taps her foot tunelessly on peppered vinyl, ‘and that’s wasting everyone’s time.’

‘Can I have some tea?’

 

Cut along the O. ‘Is that my name?’

An old woman stares empty at the TV, clutching a teddy bear close to her chest. I was a person once, now legion breathe with my lungs. A piece of rubber stranded between the pale forest legs. It was a shoe once. Everything was something, once.

Rain on glass. Fallen leaves on fairy lights. There were signposts… once, we remember, ‘Can I have some tea?’ we ask the blue overall, ‘Can I have some tea?’

‘You had your tea 10 minutes ago.’

The fluorescent flickers, ‘….Can I have some tea?’

 

Cut along the S. ‘Is that my name?’

‘Do you remember me?’ she is pleading for an answer with her pretty eyes, ‘Do you remember?’

‘Yes,’ we remember, ‘I have returned all the pens.’

She smiles, warm, searching, ‘Dad, I miss you so much.’

Dad? The moon burns down to the wick. Black smoke….  …. I remember… There are fairy lights. Hidden in the cellar. Don’t tell. About the signposts.

 

Cut along the T. ‘Is that my name?’

Blinds run sideways, keeping the dark out. Necklaces strung like fairy lights……. She is crying…. Don’t tell…….I….. I…………. There are fairy lights. Legion say. In the cellar.

 

Legion say, ‘But don’t tell about signposts……….  or we will all be lost.’

‘Is that my name?’

 

Game of dice 

The outcast of carrion rises, curing a smile with the salt of his words, ‘You would risk everything?’

‘Yes.’

‘And you are certain that you would leave the terms of your defeat to me?’

‘I am certain.’

A laugh, gaseous and fetid, seeps through the tenure of agreement, ‘Then you are a fool, for only a fool is certain of anything.’

She turns an arc, stirring dust into the desert, ‘Do you seek to mock me now?’

‘You would speak of mocking, to me?’ The Tick. Tick. Tick. Of the clock, falls silent with his question.

She does not answer.

‘Then perhaps this is just another shattered grail to you?’ Familiar, cool cotton rain falls, temperate. A blind drawn backwards across the sun, ‘So many have narrated my form around that sniveling companion.’

Still she does not answer.

Teeth snap at the air, blood on black, ‘Tell me at least why you would chose dice as mechanism for this game? Why not a game of skill where the odds can be woven closer around your skills?’

She finally lifts her head, her eyes raw, ‘It seems that chance is the only truth left now.’

‘Then we are done with talking, make your choice.’

‘It is for you to choose,’ she waits even then, for another way.

But there is none. The words ooze suit from the fat of his pale lips, ‘I choose, Even.’

‘Then,’ she sighs, ‘Odd is mine.’

The die are cast.

Thrown.

6 in 12.

A shift.

Too small to catch.

Missed between thumb and finger.

Both fall.

Scattered and discovered.

Made again with the ragged dots of bone.

The numbers.

The fates.

Skip.

Slow.

Settle.

EVEN.

He tilts his head, flicking his tongue around the maggots of her flesh, his blood drawn raptor by the sweet of it, ‘I win!’

‘So it is,’ she whispers. But it is her unspoken words that writhe poison in the pastures of his bloated victory.

He recoils, ‘What is this flavour, this scent of grey treachery in your loss?’

But she is already breaking.

Wing on stone. She breaks. Wing on stone. She is lost.

Dying, again.

Beginning, again.

A new earth. She forgets again. That there was once a winner. In this game of dice.

 

 

Gallery

The door whispers. A woman speaks, ‘Ethan is so busy building his empire, he forgets his manners,’ The crow circles. Darkness between the couple. She takes the young woman’s arm, ‘Come my dear, I have something to show you.’

He is young again. Hesitant. His face hidden behind soft ribbons of hair.

‘Hurry up child!’

He remembers her hands. Rough on his. Lifetimes. Mapped out, drawn, painted, sealed beneath the yellowed varnish of this hallway. Just one word. An oath sworn.

A soft hiss of tapestry on oak. A dagger through his thoughts. He runs at her, taking her shoulders. Forcing her back against the wall, ‘I told you never to follow me.’

‘But you were gone so long,’ she moves her body into his anger, ‘and I got tired of waiting,’

‘I’m sorry,’ he tempers his strength, steering her towards the concealed door. Guiding her way back. Holding the leash of his rage tight.

But she slips away from him. Dancing. Pirouetting into the long room, ‘I thought you had a dungeon or something hidden back here,’ the tips of her fingers are curling a smile around her mouth, ‘but it’s just a gallery, that’s nothing to be ashamed of.’

‘Did I say I was ashamed?’ He grabs at her. Playfully. Deliberately. And she folds into his body.

‘Are they all paintings of your family?’

‘No… Yes.’

‘No and Yes? You drive me wild with your enigma, Ethan.’

‘Yes, they are my family.’

‘They are all so…’ she tilts against his chest, ‘I mean usually there’s something like a massive nose or receding chin in common, some blood born connection. But these look more like a bunch of random strangers that someone pulled off the street. That’s so weird.’

Frozen in time. Another. Another. Unmoved. Untouched by her words.

‘Weird and dead, that’s my family all over.’ He wraps his arms tight around her, ‘Come on, let’s go make some noise in the music room.’

‘Except for the peacock blue of their eyes,’ her smile lights slowly, ‘and I thought you were the only one.’

The first wave of panic. Biting. Breaking across his chest, ‘No,’ he whispers, ‘I won’t let this happen.’

‘So strange…’ she pulls away, caught by the shimmer. Blue to green. Green to blue. And she sighs.

‘Sarah, I mean it, we need to leave before it’s too late.’

‘What do you mean, too late?’ Her fingers still held to her mouth.

And he feels it. Bite in him. Drag in him. Burn in him. Ropes. Chains through his blood. Just one word. An oath. The last to rot here is the first to rot here. The culmination and the destruction. It curls in his throat. Growls at the moon. The sum of it all. Just one word.

‘Too late to leave,’ he says.

But his words come late.

The door whispers.

He whispers.

‘Yes.’

 

 

 

 

 

Here there be dragons

Your skin washed in shadows, I watch your breath. Your body warm with my dreaming. The scent of you laid out across this unmade land. I taste you in my blood and I am bound crimson with the ribbons of this uncharted. This place of dragons, where I watch your lips trace the outline I have torn apart in my fury. And we are found, lost, broken on the riptide of that familiar storm. I have sold the compass of my mind. Watched you floundered on the reef of corporal bones. Sworn oath to the dread sands. Taken harbour where you would cut us adrift. My hands tied to the mast of another haunted galleon. You murmur words I cannot feel. You map out ragged coastlines, oil on canvas. You fly bright with the standards of this new land. You breathe. I watch your breath. And draw my world in pencil.