Week #22 – The brutality of friends
The Food Chainl by Lola Elvy
Brothers by Catherine Russell
The pale figure scratched his head with one taloned hand and regarded his brother. “Igor,” it said.
“Boris,” said the other creature, stepping from the shadows. “I knew you’d come back here eventually.”
“I could say the same about you,” Boris replied. Moonlight reflected off the surface of his marble skin.
Igor approached, though not a single leaf crunched beneath his feet. “Can you blame me? This was our home… long ago. ”
The other creature’s stillness remained unbroken. Electricity charged the atmosphere. The wind sang a mournful tune through trees whose leafy garments lay strewn upon the ground. After a few moments, Boris said, “I do.”
“I had no choice. The plague would have taken you… It was the only way.”
“Save my life by taking it? How can I thank you, brother?” No warmth lingered in his eyes for the companion of his ancient childhood.
“I sickened too. Our kind cannot consume infected blood without some risk. I almost died the truth death…”
“What a comfort that was as I fought to survive the wound you gave me.” He touched the scar on his neck.
“What can I do?” Igor asked.
“Finish what the plague started. Never again will you inflict this monstrosity on another to stave off your own weakness.” He grinned. “Don’t worry, old friend. I promise to be more merciful than you were to me. I will only kill you.”
Transparency by Susan Gibb
The late-day shadows stretch out like nymphs on the lawn, reveling naked and dark in the warm golden-green grass. In islands they float on the surface, shifting, reaching, drifting apart.
He sits in his chair reading. The umbrella is arced to slant its shade on the pages of the latest Grisham novel. His face too is bereft of the sun. I alone drink in its yellowness. I absorb it into my veins, the blood carrying it through my body like a waitress with a tray full of daiquiris sparkling in sugar-rimmed glasses. His drink is a masculine scotch on the rocks. Mine is a faceful of afternoon sun.
An awning of tension hovers above us, its clarity accenting the lean of his body, elbows grounded for takeoff. His chair is angled away from mine by just enough. Mine is boldly straight out to the yard.
“Are you still mad at me?”
He grunts, doesn’t look up. A finger flips over the page, ready to hold his place should this turn into an argument.
“I’m not mad at you,” he says. He looks out across the lawn, now spread with writhing shadows of maple and ash. “It’s Joe’s fault. Jesus, my best friend fucks my wife.” He snorts as if the air around us is thick, its transparency made of plastic-wrap. “I don’t blame you.”
Icy daiquiris flow like a hot river within me.
Keep it Secret by Annette Rohde
He asked if I wanted to try some but I wasn’t sure.
He said it would be okay, so I took a drag and it hurt my throat so much that I thought I was going to cough my lungs right out. So then he said I could try it without it making me cough.
He blew the smoke into my mouth.
I really liked him putting his lips on mine, you know, I sort of pretended that he was kissing me.
We chatted for a bit and I started to feel really good, you know, relaxed, so I asked for another one. This time when he blew it into my mouth we started really kissing.
We kissed for so long. I felt good. Then he started touching me. It felt nice.
He was hot and breathless. While he was kissing me he started to press against me. He said he would be gentle.
Afterwards he said how wonderful and how beautiful I was but we should keep it a secret because my friends might call me names. Then said we should get back to the party.
Later, when I was in bed and the last of the guests were leaving, I heard him say to dad, “You have a beautiful daughter. You’ll be fighting off the boys calling for her when she gets older”.
Pre-Dinner Conversation by Beate Sigriddaughter
“Why do you hang with Ned?” Solveig had asked her husband Alan once.
“Because he’s my friend.”
Now Ned stood in their living room, running his finger, as though absent-minded, across the wooden book shelf. “Do you think you’re doing the right thing?”
“Of course.” She willed herself to not stare at the shiny trail his finger left in the dust. “The scholarship pays for everything.”
“It’s bigger than Alan’s, I hear.”
“Well, it’s California versus Minnesota. Things cost more out there.”
“Aren’t you afraid of hurting Alan by competing with him and doing better?” Ned asked.
Solveig hugged herself. “I’m not competing. I’m merely good at what I do. Not better.”
“Graduating eighth in your class to his eleventh?”
Solveig shot a glance at Alan who was busy uncorking wine. He had told Ned that?
“Obviously made an impression,” Ned said. His eyes were slits for a moment.
“Well, Ned, Alan doesn’t want me to sit around knitting and watching TV or reading romances and mysteries.”
A cockroach began a solitary march across the dinner table already set. Solveig felt like laughing, throwing up, or both. House-keeper par excellence.
“How do you know?” Ned asked.
Three pairs of eyes followed the cockroach to the edge of the table where it disappeared. For the first time Solveig felt a stir of hatred for her husband who said nothing, not even in justification of the cockroach.
Abandon by Nicolette Wong
‘I think you would have been quite beautiful when you were young.’
Your words are a blue haze rocking into the night at a sidewalk restaurant. I look over your shoulder for room to laugh. You, three years my junior, stealing glances at bare legs brushing past and beer in your glass, a moving reflection of your hopes: career, jokes, in a world where life means overlooking others from a heightened plane of safety.
At my smile you recoil for a moment before opening up to the embrace that will elude me forever. We are supposed to be friends, for you have never met someone whose soul mirrors yours and who already lives at the other side of the world. I sit before you and crack a peanut.
‘You haven’t met too many people in your life,’ I say.
‘That has nothing to do with it.’
Your phone rings. Requests. Reproach. Mistakes scorching a roll of film, unfolding in a non-existent space. Another barrier to cross while you dream yourself into being a man. Silence cracks across the table, lengthening the time we spend with each other in smirk and qualms. Nothing reigns besides your fear of failure. You shake your head; I put two fingers to my lips.
‘Say something to distract me,’ you ask.
‘It won’t be any different from what you’d say to yourself, or some things you don’t put into words.’
‘You, a person of many words,’ you say. ‘Shall we dance, then?’
I Dream of Being Cruel by Marty Brick
Not prettier, smarter, or richer. Not wiser. Cruel, un-nerving. Without the messy burden of guilt.
We got along great at first. She said, use any of my things, so I said use mine. She said eat any of my food, so I said eat mine. Difference is, she went for it. She wore my clothes, because she hated doing laundry. She ate the cookies grandma sent.
On the seven thousandth fire alarm (false of course) I still called her friend. Used that word first, rather than roommate. I hopped out of the top bunk just as she left the lower. Came down hard and broke her collarbone.
The boyfriend really got to me. Because I had a crush on him first. But she asked him out. And brought him back to our room. And expected me to disappear.
She told me if I needed the room, she’d happily clear out. Part of the reason I can’t hate her is because she meant it. It wasn’t said with the assumption I’d never collect. She imagined me capable of a one-night stand.
I heard the bone snap. My immediate reaction was elation. She writhed on the floor, in the nightgown she thought was sexy but not slutty, perfect for being seen in during firedrills
After they carted her off, I opened her vodka. She always said, help yourself. I imagined what I’d do if her boyfriend came by, with this liquid courage. Won’t happen, but still, I dream of being cruel.