Tag: Sullen

SULLEN: Sullen By Anne Nassar

Word Count 493
By Anne Nassar
Neither of them really understood what it was to lose somebody. Her grandpa had died, but he lived far away and she only ever saw him on holidays. He’d lost an uncle, but the uncle had been a drug addict and his mother forbade him to come around. And of course, they couldn’t know if they’d lost anybody or not. They operated on the assumption that their relatives were alive and well somewhere. The town had, after all, been evacuated. And there was no way to get in touch with anybody.
They missed their parents, their siblings, their friends. But in a way, it was fun to be free. They did what they pleased. They helped themselves to cars, boats, bikes, clothes. They broke in to different houses and stayed until they messed the place up, and then moved on.
She loved having him all to herself. No bitches to be jealous of. No stupid friends of his to put up with. He, though, got a little bored of her company on occasion. She really wasn’t very bright, and she could be really spiteful. He found himself thinking about other girls he had dated previously. But they weren’t around anymore. So, he had to make do.
And most of the time, they were fine. The fights only started when food got scarcer. There was still food, but it was all can stuff and not even peas and carrots or corn, but lima beans and beets. Canned potatoes – who knew that they canned potatoes?
He was considerably bigger than her and his larger body required more fuel. She thought they should split the food equally. He couldn’t make her understand that this wasn’t fair. One day, she got so pissed off about food that she ran away.
He didn’t immediately follow her. He just didn’t feel like it. But as dusk came on, he started to get a little nervous. There were still animals around. He walked around town, bellowing out her name. Finally he found her, sitting on the beach in the shallow water.
He was so relieved to see her that he forgot to be mad. Something had happened, though. There were lines in the dirt on her cheeks where the tears had run down. Seeing him, her bottom lip quivered and she covered her face with her hands.
You ok? He asked, what is it?
Look at me, she said, sullen, combative.
He looked for cuts, bruises. But there was nothing amiss.
Look at my belly. Look at my boobs.
Suddenly he understood and said, oh, f–k, no.
I knew that’d be your response, she said bitterly.
What do you want me to say? It’s not a good world to be born into, now, is it?
No, she said, but nevertheless.
I’m fine with it, he said, but we’re going to have to go inland.
Why? she said, looking panicked.
Because the food’ll run out eventually.
The honeymoon’s over, she said.

SULLEN: Sullen Skies B.A. Sarvey

Word: Sullen
Word Count: 500
Sullen Skies
B.A. Sarvey

I have no right. No right to ask anything of you, certainly not comforting words. Precious minutes should not be spent on someone you knew once-upon-a-time.
We re-acquainted quite accidentally, me with a sheaf of poems in my hands and you with time on yours. You read them all, enthralled. Intimated that my ugly subject had been made almost beautiful. Honored, you said, by this sharing; encouraging—urging me to pursue my art, publish, go beyond pastime. Brashly, I challenged you: exchange a poem-a-week. You were my link to the outside world, my reason for checking e-mails. You have been more than words on a screen, though we met face-to-face only three times in three years. You pulled me from the muck threatening to trap me, the mire created by enormous life-changes beyond my control In your gentle, easy manner, you showed me destiny could be in my hands. And it was. For a while, at least. Still, you were infinitely better than I at keeping that pact. When my silences grew too long, you wrote asking if I was okay—no pressure. Write when you can. Until then, enjoy my offering. My reply was always I’m fine, just me being me—a hermit, squirreling away in my home, my mind. Not actually depressed, merely a mild funk, overwhelmed by life. Don’t worry. Poems will come. And they always did, but so did life, obligations, a dearth of time.
When your silences grew longer than mine, I took on the guilt of failing to fulfill a promise, thinking it my fault. Then the mass-message. “There is no cure.”
This year I did not see you. Have not communicated with you for months. You Blog, so you have said. I have not read this, fearing I will see too much of what I have already witnessed, not wishing to go through that phase of my life again. Like a sullen, spoiled child, I want to demand that you write to me. Just me. But I do not have that right, my friend. I invited you to write five-hundred-words or fewer, not poetry, but pithy and compact. You replied that you concentrate on seventeen-syllables, attempting with Haiku to keep your compromised brain in order. These, you have not shared with me.
Now your wife is wearing the shoes I wore not so long ago. I feel I should reach out, offer…what? Advice? Commiseration? An understanding of what a spouse suffers? Yet I hesitate to reach out to Isabel, aging so gracefully, more beautiful than she was at twenty-one, knowing your sons will comfort her as my children have stood by me. Knowing also, that sometimes shared experiences are not welcome, when illness and death are concerned. The word “widow” falls hard on the ears, especially when one is still wishing for a different outcome. Sullen skies weep silent tears as your time wanes. I struggle over the ironic turn of events, and wonder, how can we create Haiku from life cut short?

SULLEN: Honeymoon By Terry Rainey

Word Count 499
By Terry Rainey
September 3, 1944, a New York City Monday, 91 degrees in the muggy dense air of Yankee Stadium. She was dazzled by the war bonds signs, the large scoreboard, and the green expanse of the playing field. Green, a deeper green than any she’d ever seen back in Nova Scotia. An electric green, with a hint of dark power, a sensual, dizzying overload.
Her life had been Canada, putting a good face on poverty. Her father passed in 1934 when she was 12. It hardened the family, relegated them to lives given over to suffering and sacrifice. Her older sister chose the convent, all three brothers the priesthood. But she considered herself the lucky one, the reader, the smiler, the perpetual optimist, despite life’s daily crushing reminders of cold, of small deprivations, more Lent than Christmas.
Amidst her daily prayers for a sunnier life, she caught the eye of an American soldier, stationed in Halifax, of all places. A chance meeting at a bus stop. He looked sharp in his uniform. She flirted, all friendly naiveté and good humor. Just less than a year of courtship. With the war going on, decisions were made quickly. A modest wedding and then a honeymoon in New York, her first uncertain dance on the big stage of the U.S.
And here she was, with her new last name, the Yankees playing the Cleveland Indians. There’d been no baseball in her life; her only frame of reference was hockey. The cozy hockey rink, focused light and heat, warmed her, but this spectacle seemed unruly. Her gentle spirit was threatened by the garishness of the stadium. The low murmur of the crowd was a bit unsettling, and occasionally curse words hung in the thick air.
The game itself was a complete mystery. There seemed no rhyme or reason, and no goals. The two teams switched sides frequently. Her initial thrill was stifled. The stadium ramparts loomed menacingly, echoing the enormous raucousness and oppressive heat.
Her musings gave way to a headache. She mentioned it to him a few times. He nodded while he explained the rules of the game, the nuances escaping her. The closeness seemed to intensify as the crowd leaned forward, almost pulsing. Clothes clung wetly to her body, a body she was just now discovering.
Thoughts drifted back to the hotel in Midtown, her first encounter with many things, including air conditioning. She asked a few questions, trying to avoid ones he would think foolish. She figured out innings. Nine. Outs. Three. 9×3=27. 27 she could count. 27. The end of heat. Release. Time for the Broadway lights, the dresses in the windows on Fifth Avenue, the hotel room.
After the Indians’ 27th out, the crowd rose and stretched in congratulations and good cheer, and started filling the aisles. But he remained, rooted in the seat, eyes on the emptying field. She pulled playfully on his arm, “Time to go!”
He looked sullenly at her and said “Sweetie…It’s a doubleheader.”

SULLEN: Good News By Sally Madison

Words: 499
Good News
By Sally Madison

Sitting in her feather bed, Alexandria stared out the window at the birds re-nesting in the tree that she had fallen from. If only she had been patient and left the birds alone, both she and the birds would be happier for it. Some days the pain was unbearable. No matter how much Alma rubbed with the witch hazel, or how many teas of turmeric, garlic, mustard, rosemary, nutmeg, or parsley she made, even when it was mixed with cherries, blueberries or pumpkin seeds, she hurt. Each time she tried to move, her injured body would remind her of her foolishness.

Alma had just tucked her in again and was about to leave the room, when the sound of horses and a carriage coming up the drive drew their attention. Company was coming. “Alma, please help me change into my pretty pink dressing gown, I’m sure whomever has come to visit will want to speak to me.”

Alma gave a huff, and re-dressed the child. As she was leaving the room again, the doctor entered. Alma started out the door again, when the doctor stopped her. With hands on her hips, Alma explained tersely, “I’ve got work to do. I have to make the slippery elm bark tea, grind the cloves pulp, cook the meals, and tend the garden. I don’t have a minute’s peace.”

“I’ve brought some new spices that will help with Alexandria’s pain. I want you to brew a tea with these, cardamom, ginger, and cayenne from India. You may also want to add a bit of honey to sweeten it.”

Alma took the spices and huffed towards the door, again, but behind the doctor, stood a very young woman. Acknowledging the new-comer, Alma grouched, “About time I got some help around here,” presuming the young woman was a housemaid. Before the proper introductions could be made, Alma was scurrying off to the kitchen.

The doctor introduced Natalia as his assistant. After the examination, the doctor left to discuss the patient with Grandfather. After an awkward silence, Natalia noticed the book of Aesop’s Fables on the side table, and commented, “I see you are studying the Greek fables.”

“This year’s tutor is Greek, so the fables are the easier part of my lessons. We have already studied the Iliad and the Odyssey.”

“Didn’t you just love how Odysseus struggled to get back to his wife? Wasn’t it so romantic?” Natalia smiled sweetly with eyes aloft, remembering the story. Before long the two girls were discussing, giggling, and laughing at their common interest.

They heard the Grandfather’s heavy footsteps coming up the stairs, and with anticipation and trepidation became serious once more. Natalia backed away from the bedside, where she had made herself comfortable. She knew Alexandria’s case and was expecting bad news, while Alexandria was hoping to walk again.

The Grandfather asked Alexandria. “There is a new doctor, in Prague, who may be able to help you. Are you ready to travel?” Alexandria whooped for joy.

SULLEN: Laurel Doves – Chapter 11 The Dawning By Sharon Collins

Word Count 499
Laurel Doves – Chapter 11
The Dawning
By Sharon Collins

Giselle’s whinny broke the pre-dawn silence. Five bald heads poked out of their blankets . Giselle tossed and repeated what could only be described as the frightened whinny of a colt.

“Oh no, she is whinnying again!” yawned Lisette.

“What do you mean?” demanded Hélène, pulling her blanket over her head, chilly without her bright red ringlets.

“When she came to us, she barely spoke during the day. But, mon Dieu, in her dreams, she never stopped. Our Miri, who can speak to animals, could not understand Giselle’s horse language. None of the Gitan gathered at the festival of Sainte Sarah could.”

“How did she learn to speak horse?” asked Marie-Claude, shrugging back her woolen blanket despite the chill. Always the little mother, she tiptoed to Giselle and tucking the blanket closer, soothed her fretful dream.

“Our Miri, believes she learned from Les Gardiens of the salt marshes of the Carmargue and herd the white horses and black bulls. They can speak the horse language. Their Leader brought Giselle to Miri at the festival. They found baby Giselle among the yearling horses. Although they are wild and hard to tame, the horses did not hurt her! She was all alone, no mother, no father, no name. Les Gardians are all men, and although they tried for a long while, they could not tend a growing girl-child, so they decided to bring her to Our Miri!” finished Lisette with a bounce.

“How did they know her name? “ piped Virginie. Giselle’s story was striking hard in her equally-orphaned heart and though very shy, she managed to whisper the longest sentences of her young life. “Reverend Mother named me Marie Virginie for Mother Mary because I was passed through the convent wall on her feast day, August 15th. Why do you suppose Les Gardiens named her so? Is there a Sainte Giselle?”

Geneviève, who had learned of Giselle’s strange background from Père Jean, answered. “Giselle comes from a very old word that means shared obligation. Les Gardiens shared the duty of keeping Giselle safe until they gave her to the Miri, who shared her care with Père Jean and all of us. So you see, it is a perfect name.”

While the girls quietly discussed this tantalizing new mystery, Geneviève wondered if she should reveal the rest of Giselle’s story. Deciding yes, she began again…”Miri told Père Jean another piece of information about Giselle that Lisette does not know. It explains why she too is une petite colombe, one of Père Jean’s Little Doves. When Les Gardiens discovered Giselle, she was wearing a green dress and a red cape embroidered with the word ‘Demori.’ And, she was playing with a little dove carved from the wood of a laurel tree. She, like each of us, is of The Way and must be kept safe. That’s why Père Jean brought us here, to hide us in plain sight. That sullen, old Pope would never look for heretics in a convent,” she giggled.

SULLEN: Missing Greenleaf By Sam McManus

Word Count 500
Missing Greenleaf
By Sam McManus
Harrison Waltham III had grown up a mere three blocks from the railroad tracks, a fact that earned him a gossip rating of thirteen in the small town of Greenleaf, Ohio, which was better than some of his classmates but worse than the majority. Then, suddenly, at the grand age of ten, his father came home half in the bag and listing from side to side. He had gotten a job at a major law firm in Cincinnati, twenty-five miles south, and the Walthams were moving. It took Harrison approximately fifteen seconds to pack his only suitcase, say goodbye to his stuffed animals, and park himself on the front stoop.
It would take a while longer for him to realize that the change wasn’t quite as positive a one as he was led to believe. For starters, his father was never around anymore. From the moment they moved into the swanky house in Indian Hill, on the outskirts of town, the elder Waltham was more often at work than with his burgeoning family. It was fascinating to young Harrison how he kept getting younger brothers and sisters even though his father was a ghost.
But they were well taken care of, and occasionally he would be invited to his dad’s office to see what his future might hold. He always left the high-rise building with the supreme knowledge that he would never be like the man his father had become, that he would never be sucked in by the vacuum of money and excess that he saw all around him. The stark contrast between what his life had been and what it had become would always resonate in his gut and bring him to his senses.
His mother said they all had to make concessions, whatever that meant, that in order to have all the physical things they had they needed to understand that life had to emotionally suck sometimes. All of the children began seeing psychiatrists, but Harrison was first because he was “maladjusted,” according to his teachers at Indian Hill Prep anyway, who made sure they told his mother he had “potential,” yet was wasting it. He thought they just couldn’t understand. They thought he was suicidal. The truth, as always, lay somewhere in between.
Once, when he was thirteen, his father came home from work early, which for the great man was any time before nine. He plopped down on the couch, obviously exhausted, the circles under his eyes growing their own circles, deeply grooved and shaded. He had become a named partner, his name forever emblazoned on the firm letterhead. Harrison cried himself to sleep that night.
Two weeks later, the boy slit his wrists. His therapist noted he had seemed “sullen” at his previous session, that he didn’t seem to understand the joy of his position in the world. His father thought he was just acting out. But he was simply missing Greenleaf. It would be twenty years until he could articulate to anyone why.

SULLEN: Ellipsis By Mike Cecconi

Word Count 499
By Mike Cecconi

She was beautiful, everyone around there was, that slightly sullen hiding how tired you are kind of beautiful you’d see in actresses and actors, beautiful like grocery-store produce kept ripe for weeks through chemical exposure, a waxen sheen to gloss over impending collapse into despair. That fake it ‘til you make it beauty one accrues through time spent in Los Angeles.

The office I worked in, a bungalow on what used to be Charlie Chaplin’s lot some hundred years ago, when posters shifted on the walls we said it was his ghost, the people I worked for there had a level of cult fame, so I was wary when someone knocked on the door unexpectedly. You never knew when some rando would show up looking to drop off a terrible unsolicited screenplay, so I was always on my guard.

When I answered the door, though, she had a job application for some different office down the block in her trembling hands, so I let go my tension. The streets were poorly marked in that part of town and so relieved, I smiled and gave her better directions. She’d been nervous too, wanting to make a good impression with potential bosses by dropping off her resume in person instead of by e-mail or the post, she too exhaled then she did an odd thing, she took my hand and offered a palm reading as thanks for my help and understanding.

I don’t believe in magic, I’ve never seen the supernatural, I’m open to it but maybe I haven’t the right kind of eyes or maybe the spirits just ignore me. I knew full well it wasn’t Charlie’s ghost, just our wonky air conditioning. Despite my doubts about mystics and statistics, I allowed it. It seemed like one of the moments you just go with so, in the doorway on Sycamore, I obliged her my hand and she followed the lines with one slender finger. Had I not been taken at the time, it could’ve been the meet-cute in some old movie made on the soundstage across the street, but it wasn’t, just two weirdos having a moment of shared humanity, there in the freak kingdom.

She followed this fold and that fold, tracing out where moving parts divide and concentrated for what felt like an hour but was probably a minute-and-a-half, saying nothing but thinking intently. Eventually I asked her “well, what did you see?” and she looked up at me, most have to look up, I’m a big shambling thing, she looked up and said, “you’re going to be an amazing success…” then paused, an ellipsis stuck deep in her throat, before adding “…but not for a very long time.”

That was nine, maybe ten years ago now? Two girlfriends ago, three cars and two coasts ago, sometimes I think back of her and wonder, has it been long enough now? The spirits do not answer me, of course, not even Charlie Chaplin’s and yet still I wonder. When.

Sullen: Oh, Brother By Peg Scarano

Word: Sullen
Word Count: 490

Oh, Brother
By Peg Scarano

By now, 5-year-old Julie had gotten used to my burgeoning belly and waddling walk. She finally understood that there was a baby in my body who was going to magically appear soon. She had all her hopes pegged on the baby being a little boy since her older sister could be really bossy and mean. A brother had to be better than a sister.

One afternoon, I experienced the tell-tale signs of labor. I called Rock to let him know and to remind him when I called back, it would be important, so please answer the phone. Then I made arrangements for a sitter. I managed to wait until five p.m. to call Rock back. Jenny was home from school and it was time to tell them I was going to the hospital. They exuded excitement! They jumped and danced around with Jenny yelling, “It’s a girl!” And Julie echoing back, “It’s a boy!” While I yelled, “Get me out of here!” speaking for both myself and the baby.

Around 9 p.m., I delivered a 9 pound, 10-1/2 ounce girl. While I recuperated, Rock made the call home. Jenny answered and screamed in delight when she heard it was a girl. He asked her to wake up Julie so he could gently tell her the news. Jenny ran into her room, shook her sister awake and screamed, “It’s a girl!” Well, so much for soothingly breaking the news.

Julie started to cry uncontrollably. The babysitter could not console her. Finally, Jenny’s heart must have softened and she took Julie in her arms and told her she would love her little sister just as much as if she was a little brother. Between the babysitter and Jenny telling her stories and whispering words of encouragement, Julie finally fell back to sleep on her tear-stained pillow.

The next afternoon, both girls came to the hospital to meet their new little sister. Julie sat herself down on a chair in gloomy silence. She wouldn’t make eye contact with me or even give me a hug. She just sat there with no spirit in her soul or twinkle in her eyes. It broke my heart to look at her so sad and small and slumped in the chair.

Then the nurse brought the baby in the room. She was all bundled up and so cute and cuddly. Jenny looked into the bassinette and said to her sister, “Oh, Julie! Come quick and look at her. You can’t even tell she’s a girl! I’ll pretend with you that she is a boy and we’ll all live happily ever after!” The sullen little girl tip-toed over, peeked at her baby sister and burst into a smile that would have brightened even the darkest of nights. She beamed up at her big sister with adoration and said, “You’re right, Jenny! Who would know it’s a girl!” And they did live happily ever after…Well, most of the time.

SULLEN: Perfect Harmony, Part Three: Leo’s Beginning By Josh McMullen

Words – 495

Perfect Harmony, Part Three: Leo’s Beginning
By Josh McMullen

Leo, on the other hand, came into the world the same way he would for most of his sixteen years of life: as the center of attention. He punctuated his first minute of life with a piercing cry that the nurses claimed could be heard throughout the whole hospital. Even so, on that cold, sunny day in April, no one could deny that he was one of the happiest babies in the entire delivery room.

Despite all of that, his mother spent the first week of motherhood sullen. She loved her little boy very much, but the constant strain of taking care of a five-day-old child took a toll on her. She even found her way back to the hospital a couple of times for stress-related illnesses.

To combat this, his father, on paternity leave from his job as a sportswriter, took the week-old Leo to his first taste of baseball, with seats just over the dugout at NBT Bank Stadium for a Syracuse SkyChiefs game. Armed with every single sun combatant, including an umbrella and a gargantuan bottle of sunscreen, they were ready to go.

The game itself wasn’t all that great, with Syracuse scoring six runs in the third to make the game a runaway. Leo’s father did notice, however, that his young son was smiling all the way.

Despite the fact that he was not playing, nor was the game all that exciting, Leo still managed to make himself the center of attention. In the bottom of the sixth inning, with the bases full of SkyChiefs and no one out, Leo decided he needed his diaper changed. Rather than miss all the action that was potentially going to happen, Leo’s father decided to change his son right on top of the Syracuse dugout.

When his father turned around to grab a fresh diaper from the bag, Leo began to roll down the roof of the dugout, toward a wide-open field. His father made a desperate grab at him, but somehow (because all babies are somehow imbued with a layer of slippery material), Leo quickly rolled to the edge of the dugout. Luckily, the players had noticed the commotion and went up to investigate. Leo sat on the edge for what seemed like forever, then as if in slow motion, rolled right off the edge of the roof.

With an audible yell that actually forced the umpires to call time, in that same instant, ten Syracuse SkyChiefs managed to give Leo a sea of arms to softly land on. With a mighty roar from their section, the catcher managed to return Leo to his lethally embarrassed father.

The incident even made the local news, getting all the way to ESPN’s Top Plays of the Day, much to the embarrassment of Leo’s parents. Despite the fact that his mother forbade him from taking him there until after his first birthday, the seed had been planted. Leo now had a love of baseball.