Tag: Liminal

LIMINAL: Threshold By Nan Ressue

Word Count 379
By Nan Ressue
It’s going to be tomorrow and I’m wondering if it came too soon. I thought I was ready, thoughtfully, painstakingly prepared. I realize that it was more for my mind than anything else. There was great concern on everybody’s part; endless interviews, journaling, conversations, just thinking, worrying. I understand the deep concern that the sincerity of the desire be probed, the longing tested for there was no going back. Not even if you were desperately desired it, no return, you had your chance, you have chosen.
I’ve known for a long time that I was in the wrong body. That uneasy feeling that you don’t really belong and there is a deep aching feeling of not having something crucial that has left a big burning hole with curling black edges inside your gut.. I was never interested in accomplishing what I was supposed to. You know what I mean…, the development of strength, confidence, with aggressive approaches. Instead, there I was, quietly trying to claw my way to that place no one suspected, longing for softness, sweet aroma, beautiful colors, the curve of flesh, the lust of new encounters.
I broke my wife’s heart into fragments of pain, so sharp and infitesimal that it will never heal. I did so yearn with my whole soul to be like other men that I thought the closest possible relationship with a woman would bend my inclinations. Now she knows what the truth is and feels betrayed beyond description. How is it possible to offer another person love and devotion when its foundation is built on deception? She is gone now and that aching empty space is filled with remorse.
There will be mutilation required to accomplish this next goal as I stand at the liminal, ready for the next chapter in my life. There will be ridicule and humiliation to endure and surmount. There will be my soul searing lonely search for friends who will be more interested in knowing my heart than the shape of my body.
I will waste no more of this precious life time and will begin to strive for the courage to make my remaining years happy and fulfilling as my new sister self.
Tomorrow is here and I am ready.

LIMINAL: A Liminal Affair By G. Ackman

Word Count 500

A Liminal Affair
By G. Ackman

Caroline meandered through the open-air stalls of the Plaka district with neither destination nor purpose. She had been in Athens for over a week and her determination to fulfill her destiny was waning. She arrived here on a whim, one day finding herself unemployed, unattached, and unoccupied.

While driving aimlessly through the country to think about her future, her mind instead reached into the past. Several years earlier, she and her one-time friend Tim spontaneously entered a psychic’s shop in Chicago “just for fun.” The oddly dressed woman gave the usual nondescript, nonspecific “fortunes” to Tim but then turned to Caroline and said something extremely specific – “you will meet your soulmate in Greece.” There was no way this random psychic could have known that one of Caroline’s lifelong dreams was to go to Greece. At the time, Caroline and Tim just laughed and continued their exploration of the Chicago night-life. The psychic’s words faded with time – until now.

Returning to her apartment from the drive, Caroline impulsively logged on to the Internet and weeping credit card in hand, booked a flight and hotel in Athens. The past eight days of strolling along Athen’s historical pathways provided a respite from the turmoil of uncertainty that Caroline knew awaited her back in the States. Thoughts of bills, rent, and job interviews seemed far away while gazing at the Parthenon at night, its golden inner lights shining into mankind’s universal soul. Thoughts of lost love, lost opportunities, and lost dreams seemed inconsequential beside the ruins of Hadrian’s Library and the scholars who once trod the very same steps that Caroline now walked.

All of that aside, Caroline could not help reflecting on the old psychic’s words. But there was not a soulmate in sight. She picked up an olive green scarf emblazoned with a cream meander design signifying infinity. “That fits,” Caroline thought as she handed over thirteen euros. And then she saw him. He was sitting by the fountain at the end of the row of shops. His darkly handsome form caught her attention but his eyes, dark and shining, mesmerized her. Should she go up to him? She sensed the momentousness of the decision, a true liminal moment for her entire life.

She approached him slowly, cautiously, but within minutes, she knew she would never leave him. Within a few short weeks, she had settled all her affairs back in the States and permanently relocated to Athens. She rented a small house and he, now named Rochester, was at her side day and night. Rochester brought other friends who joined them and together they made a wonderfully happy family. Hareton, with his scruffy black fur, Mina, with her delicate little legs and soulful eyes, and Marlow, always up for an adventure. There may be more in the days to come, and that was okay. Caroline loved them all. She looked around at her new life and realized the psychic was right. She did find her soulmate in Greece – she found herself.

LIMINAL: Turkey Bacon By Terry Rainey

Word Count 501
Turkey Bacon
By Terry Rainey
My daughter came to live with us in the summer. She came with zero English. She’d never heard it spoken, very little of any language, apparently. Her age, I found out, was off by months on the papers.
Her peers were children challenged by some defect or impediment. Not knowing her exact age, I sent her to a Montessori school which had multi grade classrooms. Also, I hoped, she would not be the only Asian.
She relied totally on her own instincts. Frugal natured, determined, she avoided intimacy and chose… distance. I could not impress my daughter, could not surprise her, could not please her. I had no answer for her solemn wanting. Her absence of need silenced me. She was like a piece of land underwater, and no matter how deep I dove, I never reached her. She teetered on an edge between two worlds, neither of which she understood.
I yearned to show her a world of love, a mother’s pure joy and hope. I did not expect any special gratefulness, just normal, as one gets from kids, at times. I felt that wasn’t too much to ask for, so that I could see her happy. But not with my daughter: she never even threw me a bone.
In December, her school pretzeled itself into odd secular shapes, barely mentioning Christmas. The “holiday” party was pointedly international and all-embracing.
But it was the season, and I made awesome cookies shaped like snowflakes, Yule trees, things like that. I’d spent years perfecting it. No non-professional could match me.
I was tickled to share them with my daughter’s classmates so I added my name to the clipboard list in the classroom. My daughter would be so proud of my cookies. The hit of the party, no doubt. The kids would go crazy for them.
The room mother called next day. She asked “Could you cook some turkey bacon for the party?” I said yes, and wondered if I could bring some cookies too. I was told no, they already had too many sweets.
Disappointment swirled in my mouth. I paused, swallowed its bitterness, while the room mother thanked me and said goodbye, no doubt to call the next person. I scrutinized the phone. Was there anything about my parenting experience that could be normal?
That day I decided to give up on normal. I made the most attractive dish of turkey bacon I could. Two pounds! I lovingly spruced it up and admired my pure effort. At school, I carefully rested it on the cafeteria table.
When the students arrived, I watched from the hallway, fingers intertwined, in my liminal place, a threshold between wish and reality, where I could observe her natural state while she was unaware of my beseeching gaze.
When the happy maelstrom of kids entered the room, my turkey bacon — my total offering – quickly disappeared. Amidst the joyful swarm, my daughter’s face startled me, its happy beauty amidst the swirl of feast and cheer.

LIMINAL: Spring and Winter By Sally Madison

Word: Liminal
Words: 488
Spring and Winter
By Sally Madison

Having watched Alexandria leave his bed in the morning, her husband smiled to himself, as he slowly methodically maneuvered from his bed to his favorite sitting chair facing the garden. Alma will be bringing his morning herbal tea and brown bread any minute.

‘She thinks she is being clever, waiting until I’m in my liminal wakefulness. Last evening at dinner she was more charming than ever, plying me with heavy drink, not wine as usual. She has slipped in and out of this room, each time after Peter has visited, waiting until I stir. Calculating the time, so the servants and I can witness her leaving my bedchamber, but I know my body better than she thinks I do.’

‘Still now, I wonder if I did the right thing to marry her. I promised her grandfather that I would protect her, but where is the line between protecting and suffocating? When do you turn your eyes away from the happiness you want to give to someone you care for? Where do you draw the line between what is proper? and what is natural?’

‘There are so many dangers in being a young woman. I thought I was doing the right thing. We tried hard that first year to be a couple, but spring-and-autumn marriages are often short-lived, and spring-and-winter marriages hardly have a chance to begin before one is despondent towards the other. I know it was my fault, but what is there to do now?’

‘I realize that a young woman has needs and desires that an old man cannot provide. I see the longing in her eyes as she looks at Peter. She doesn’t realize my absence when he’s here is intentional. I like the man well enough. He appears to be a compassionate man and a good czar to his people. Unfortunately, their tradition will not allow him to marry a non-Russian. What was I to do? Stand away? Make trouble? Insist on a behavior that would result in a wasted happiness?’

‘Most times she was morose after his departure, but this time seems to be different. This time, she was not only charming; she was glowing, almost radiant. Several times, I saw a hidden smile that had not been there before. This change I have seen before. Aha! Could the answer be there is a new joy in her life this time?’

‘Perhaps all of these feigned relations will finally serve a purpose? What a joy it would be to have a little one here in the castle, not that I will be the one to raise such a child. I know my time is near, my body tells me so. Perhaps, I have fulfilled the purpose that God has intended for me. More’s the pity, it would have been such fun to be a teacher and mentor to a child. At least the child will carry on my name, if not my blood.’

LIMINAL: Perfect Harmony, Part Two: Elodie’s Beginning By Josh McMullen

Word: Liminal
Word Count 499

Perfect Harmony, Part Two: Elodie’s Beginning
By Josh McMullen

Elodie had even come into this world quietly, sixteen years earlier. Though, for a baby girl who was only three and a half minutes old, quiet isn’t necessarily a good thing.

All through her mother’s pregnancy, Elodie’s father, an aficionado of the piano by night, and a jazz pianist by day, played the great piano players of the past and the future. From Beethoven to Ray Charles, the not-yet-born Elodie (her parents had already picked it out after the first ultrasound) heard them all through some headphones lovingly fitted onto her mother’s stomach.

At just about three in the morning on an unusually cold day in August, the contractions began, waking both of them up at the same time, because in the fog of pain, her mother had kicked her husband. Elodie was ready to come into the world. Doing at least 150 miles an hour, they made it to the hospital in world-record time.

However, once at the hospital, nothing went smoothly. After about ten hours of labor, Elodie still refused to come out, requiring a C-section. When they finally got her out, all Elodie could manage was a barely audible mewl.

Elodie remembered floating over the whole thing. She hovered over the whole thing as they brought in the crash cart, her body laying on the table, purple and barely moving. Her mother was too tired to show much concern, and her father had to be escorted out of the room. While she floated over everyone, she remembered a staircase opening up in front of her, as if extending to her an opportunity to return to heaven, maybe start over somewhere else.

Elodie remembered looking at her possible mother. She was so excited to meet her little bundle of joy, that she had named her once she saw her beautiful face, residing just where she couldn’t see, but medical science could show her. Her father looked on that day, remarking on how her fingers were the exact length as Stevie Wonder’s.

Despite all that, the choice was hers to make. Her time in the liminal state was short and precious. If she didn’t decide quickly, the choice would be made for her. She looked at her mother once again, now braced for the gargantuan impact that now seemed imminent. Even though she was now just ten minutes old, she remembered deciding she could not go back to heaven with this weighing on her all the way up. She remembers closing her eyes, and in the next second, letting out the biggest scream as the doctors heaved a sigh of relief.

They wrapped Elodie up in a blanket with her name, and began writing her vital information down: six pounds, two ounces, 20.3 inches, and a birthmark on her shoulder in the shape of a perfect star. Later, as Elodie’s mother held her in her arms, she kissed the top of her head (which already had a shock of black hair), relieved that her wealth had finally arrived.

LIMINAL: Liminal Blade of Grass B.A. Sarvey

Word: Liminal
Word Count: 500
Liminal Blade of Grass
B.A. Sarvey

In the country, the boundary line between one property and the next is imperceptible. The difference between one blade of grass and the next negligible. How then, does one determine precisely where one property ends, and the next begins? A half-mile-long picket fence? Too costly. Barbed wire? Cheaper, but unfriendly when no cows are involved.
In the country, one blade of grass would seem the same as the next. Who would care which was which, what was whose? Nobody much—except Gladys. Gladys cared. She sat on her back porch, quilt across her knees, every day, Sundays and holidays included, watching and listening.
The threshold between silence and sound is thin as an eardrum. But Gladys was attuned to the liminal difference between silence and not-silence, the sound a footstep makes on one side of the boundary and the sound a footstep makes on the other side. Woe be to anyone who trod on the wrong blade of grass. Gladys knew almost before the shoe touched the ground. She didn’t need fences to mark her territory, even barbed wire—not that she cared about being friendly or not friendly. Many a neighbor in Gladys’s lifetime had felt the sharp blade of her tongue when they accidentally strayed. She had honed that blade to a fine edge and slashed freely. Now, only newcomers and scallywags infringed on her turf. She took care of them, as well. The only good neighbor, Gladys muttered to the crows, was one who stayed where they belonged.
Gladys was happy. Or thought she was. She also thought she was prepared against any trespassers—man, woman, child, or beast. Until today, when the interloper appeared.
“You’re a mean, ornery old woman, Gladys.” The voice seemed to come from the ground itself.
“Who’s there!” Gladys hadn’t fallen asleep. How did this intruder escape her detection? “Show yourself!”
“Aren’t you the least bit lonely, Gladys?”
“I wouldn’t care if I was the last person in the world. In fact, nothing could make me happier.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“Who are you? Some kind of ventriloquist? Come out where I can see you and then get off my land!”
Gladys looked about but still saw no-one. “I’m gonna count to three. You better be gone by then or I’ll get my sickle and chop you up for fertilizer, you no good skunk-smellin’ son-of-a-hell-hound. And that’s just for starters.”
Silence. “Humph! Scared him off allrighty.”
Settling back into her rocker, Gladys felt a sudden jolt. Her porch and the ground under it shook violently. It shook so hard and so long Gladys fell out of her chair. She huddled on the rough planks of the porch, whimpering. When the shaking finally stopped, she picked herself up and peered around. Earthquake? Mudslide? Whatever it was, the ground had fallen away—all the ground, except what was hers, leaving Gladys alone in her own little kingdom. Bereft of her pass-time, her reason for being, with no-one to curse, Gladys sat and wept.

LIMINAL: One Foot Out the Door By Peg Scarano

Word: Liminal
Word Count: 486

One Foot Out the Door
By Peg Scarano

I started looking forward to retirement 20 months before the big day. That’s when I started counting the weeks. There were approximately 90 of them left. When I got down to a year, I started counting days – 365 – that was pretty easy. When I got down to a few weeks, I started counting hours while driving to and from work each day. However, I never did, and still do not do math, so that was s bit difficult for me.

I should explain that retirement was bittersweet for me for the most part. I didn’t love my job, but I didn’t hate it either. I was just sick and tired of getting up every day to the alarm; having to make myself pretty (which gets harder all of the time); and spending 40 hours a week completing tasks I had gradually lost interest in doing. I found myself daydreaming of what I could be doing if I wasn’t working. That was a very long list.

The last month I was there included the Christmas holidays which always keep me distracted in an entirely different manner than daydreaming. Every minute before, during and after the holidays is busy with, well work, but more importantly, planning, buying, wrapping, baking, decorating, cleaning, cooking, etc. Everyone is familiar with that list. Three days after I retired, we planned a three-month trip south so I had those plans and what to pack running around in my head as well.

Once Christmas and New Year’s were over, I entered a liminal state. I wasn’t worth my salary at work and when I was home, my mind wandered to what I wasn’t getting done at work and how I might possibly miss being there when I was no longer a welcomed member of that particular family. It was a dilemma!

I remember my last working day as being bittersweet. I experienced a whole menagerie of emotions. There were tears and laughter, joy and sorrow and a swelling of my heart to the verge of it breaking. However, once I got home and started packing, I totally crossed the threshold into full retirement! I was free to come and go as I pleased! I no longer had to figure out how many days off I had left or how to distribute them throughout the year. No more guilt about leaving my colleagues stuck with my work while I went away. I have never looked back. My work friends who really mattered are still my good friends and we see each other when they can work it in their schedules. As for me, I may be in the area to join them or I just may take a rain check because I might be in New Jersey, Virginia, Florida, Canada, Maine, Italy, or Switzerland or – wherever the spirit happened to take me.

Or, I may just be floating on this cloud-nine branded as retirement!

LIMINAL: Speaking in Tongues By Sam McManus

Word Count 500
Speaking in Tongues
By Sam McManus
“Not at all,” said Father Baretta. “We haven’t had any need to use a hymnal, not after the great hymnal fire of oh-two. We use the app ‘Godsongz’ now, and we’re much better for it.”
Young John Hopkins shook his head, looked down at his notes once more, then tried again.
“No, no,” he said, waving off the interjections from the priest. “I didn’t ask if you knew about any stolen hymnals. I said we needed to talk about a liminal statement you made to the police.”
“Oh!” replied Father Baretta, embarrassed. “I’m sorry. I know I told them something about the subliminal messages in some of those new Casting Crowns songs. I knew when they first started that that group would be the death of contemporary Christian music. Some others thought it was Hillsong, but I was convinced…”
“Father,” broke in Young John. “You still don’t understand what I’m trying to ask you.”
He looked to his partner, D-Boy Willett, for assistance. D-Boy looked back, then hung his head because he too was clueless. For some reason the priest was hung up on Christian music. Not on the information about the drug dealers in East Southerton, Missouri.
“What I mean is,” Young John continued, after a pause. “What I’m trying to say is that you told police you had… witnessed what might have been a drug deal.”
“So what’s all this stuff about subliminal messages?” asked Father Baretta.
“We never said anything about subliminal messages, Father,” explained Young John. “We said liminal, meaning what you said was on the line, that we needed more information in order to prosecute.”
“Wait, you young fellas are lawyers?” Father Baretta asked.
“Yes, sir. We said we are from Jensen & Hedges,” said Young John, sighing. “We are following up on information you gave the police, but we need more to charge for dealing.”
“We don’t have any drugs here, gentlemen,” replied Father Baretta.
“No, no,” said D-Boy, who hadn’t spoken up to that point, but he could stay silent no longer. It was plainly obvious to him that Father Baretta was giving them the run-around. “We need a stronger statement about what you witnessed outside the church on Wednesday night following mass. We can’t keep toeing that liminal line.”
“Why do you keep using that word, sons?” asked Father Baretta. “Is this some kind of Candid Camera and you want my reaction to some made-up word? Am I on the TV?”
“No, Father,” said Young John. “There is no TV. You are on no show. We just need a statement so we can lock up these drug dealers.”
“Who?” Father Baretta asked. “These Jensen & Hedges fellas you mentioned before?”
Young John turned on his heel and began to walk swiftly down the aisle of the church, muttering obscenities along the way. D-Boy simply put his head in his hands, trying to figure out a way to start over again. Damn that word-of-the-day toilet paper he had shown Young John that morning.

LIMINAL: Wigglers in West Hills By Mike Cecconi

Word Count 500

Wigglers in West Hills
By Mike Cecconi

There’s a million things to be said about picking up a semen analysis specimen as a medical courier, only a handful that could be shared in polite company. Most of the time, it was not as gross as you might believe, it was usually more just weird and/or unnerving. It wasn’t my usual job, I mostly picked up rush-job blood or urine samples but on occasion, time to time, my radio would chirp at me “Mike, there’s wigglers in West Hills!” and I knew what to do.

These were not for sperm banks, you see, they were tests for infertile couples, to eliminate if the trouble was on the man’s end, so to speak, before moving onto more invasive and expensive tests involving the woman. The complication was how quickly the “wigglers” as Dispatch called them died and would no longer be viable for testing. Around a half an hour before they’d degrade, in a liminal state between fresh and worthless, so they needed to be drawn (so to speak) in the office nearest to the main lab, a twelve-minute drive for someone sane, six or seven if psychotic.

Due to the time constraints, these were tightly scheduled with the phlebotomists, we were sent to West Hills before the task was even started, in a one-stall restroom shared with the dentist next door on the seventh floor of an office complex. Around half the time, I’d sit in the waiting room for twenty minutes, write haiku on subscription cards for Golf Illustrated, be told the man either could not produce or didn’t show, chalk it up as a break and then Dispatch would reassign me elsewhere.

But when he could do his business there, when you saw him hand the cup over to the nurse, to be double-bagged with a heating pad and put into the insulated pack you carried on your shoulder, that was where the weird would begin because… this was on the seventh floor, as I said.

This was on the seventh floor in a one-elevator building and with the clock already ticking on the wigglers’ short lives, there was no time for the stairs. There being just the one elevator, the man who just made his deposit was going to have to use that elevator too.

It’s difficult to express the awkwardness those rides down would entail, the man knowing his life-seed was in a cup inside a bag inside another bag in my Styrofoam pack and myself knowing that he knew. There was nothing to say as floors dinged downward, heaven help us if others got in too along the way, to wonder what the tension was between the tall guy with the insulated bag and that other fellow.

I couldn’t just tell them “well, you see, there were wigglers in West Hills, I can’t just let them die!” as much as I wanted to. You have no idea how much I wanted to let them in on the mess into which they had stumbled.

LIMINAL: Laurel Doves Chapter 10 – The Hiding Game By Sharon Collins

Word Count 499
Laurel Doves
Chapter 10 – The Hiding Game
By Sharon Collins

“Miri, I am hungry. Have you anything good to eat in your pocket,” piped Lisette tugging on the woolen pouch tied to Miri’s waist.

“ Non, ma chere, but we can look for strawberries along the path,” she promised as she prompted, “Tell me, child, she how did you come to be alone in the middle of the wheat field?”

“Maman took me for a walk early this morning. She said today was a very special day and we should play the Hiding Game to celebrate.. Miri, did you know that I am the best at hiding?” Not waiting for an answer, Lisette continued with eyes down, scanning every sunny spot for the delicious bits of red; therefore, she missed the frown marring Miri’s features and the anger in her eyes. “ I hid so well, that Maman could not find me. I was just ready to shout ‘Je suis la!’ when I heard the angry voices and the fists and Maman’s cry. I was very frightened. When the men called my name, I did not answer! I closed my eyes so they could not see me, and I said Maman’s magic word — Demori over and over to help me stay hidden. When I opened my eyes, the men were gone and Maman, was shining there…”

“Child, slow down,” cautioned Mireille, “You will give yourself une crise de hoquet, the hiccups. What do you mean, Maman was shining there? “Tell me more, ma petite.”

“Maman was standing there in the wheat, right beside me. She looked so pretty, all white and golden, and she was smiling at me because I played The Hiding Game so well. But then she left, and I was alone again. I could hear her though. She said it was safe to cry, if I wanted That is when I heard you calling for me. Miri, where did Maman go?” Grasping the truth of their liminal farewell, the child’s disjointed litany began to make perfect sense.

Thankfully, a six-year-old’s questions do not probe too deeply, and Lisette was satisfied to learn both Maman and Grand-mere had gone to visit the angels. Lisette was just about to ask if she could go too, when a swarm of Lady Bugs descended upon them. Delightfully distracted, her wishful visit was forgotten. Hopping on one foot, still holding her Miri’s hand and squishing strawberries in the other, she thrilled, “Lady Bug, Lady Bug, fly away home. Your house is on fire and your children are alone…”

Singing down the path, Lisette, the little heretic, skipped her way into obscurity. Mireille smiled wistfully at the irony of Lisette’s lilting rhyme. ‘No, child, you are not alone,’ she thought, ‘You have your angels and you have me. And I have Jean.’ After all these years, she still thought of him simply as Jean; Père Jean did not fit the man she remembered. ‘Ah, well,’ she sighed, “We shall see him soon enough, and he will know what to do…”