Sunday March 27th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the gap.

Had some Easter fun today, with a morning visit from the Easter Bunny, some egg decorating just before lunch, and egg hunts at various points throughout the rest of the day.

Unfortunately dinner with Kat's parents was cancelled early on, as they've both been working far too much and didn't have anything left to have us over. So I pulled a t-bone steak and a bag of broccoli out of the freezer, picked up a bag of potatoes at the grocery store, and threw together what turned out to be a pretty reasonable Easter dinner.

Toss in the chocolate pudding Max helped me make this afternoon for dessert and I'd say it worked out just fine in the end.


A gap can often be found between what has been said and what is truly meant. It may be as insignificant as a crack in a sidewalk. It can be a yawning chasm. Most commonly, it is somewhere in between.

Mind this gap.

Those who are unaware of its existence are doomed to be cheated and conned, mislead and misinformed. Trust placed in those who do not deserve it.

Though, to be fair, those who are too wary of this gap can easily find themselves unable to trust, leading a lonesome, solitary life. It can be... difficult to maintain friendships. And love? Love... quite nearly out of the question. I should think.

Do I speak from personal experience? Of course not. You offend me.

There is, quite simply, a balance to be found. A keen eye and ear are required to both protect oneself and to locate those who may be allowed into inner circles. That is all. We walk a tightrope every single day, my friend.

You do not wish to fall off. Trust me.

You can trust me, can't you?


morganna said...

We're still getting married
Even though he went to the movies
Don't you agree, it was only one slip
Doesn't that mean
I should forgive him?
Now I will, but there seems to be a big
Gap between us.

Greg said...

@Morganna: I really like this continuation of your poem with the same acrostic. I can definitely see them working as two verses in the same longer poem. I also like the uncertainty in the narrator's voice, the worry slowly building and her conviction ebbing away. Great work!

@Marc: Were there so many egg hunts because you hid a lot of eggs and wanted Max to find them all, or because you forgot where you hid all the eggs and made Max go hunt them whenever you remembered some? It sounds like a great Easter day regardless though, and the food sounds pretty good to me too!
I like your philosophical pieces but this one never really seems to find its voice. It goes in one direction at the start with its musing, and then goes in another in the middle when the narrator intervenes themselves, and then it goes in a different direction at the end with the new animosity. I found myself a little bit lost and uncertain about what the aim of the piece was. However, this may just be tiredness on my part, so I shall re-read it later on.

The gap
"This is a hotel?" The short man in the khaki pants at the reception desk was looking around him in disbelief. Behind the trestle table currently serving as the hotel reception a middle-aged women with a frown that made her look retarded glared at him. The name-badge sewn sloppily on her lapel read "Fred."
"Yus," she said. She waved a pudgy hand around, and the man in the khaki pants noticed that she only had three fingers. "This is the yotel Palace. Built in 1929 by me own favver wiv 'is own 'ands. Mind the gap."
The man, who was stood still, looked down at the large hole in the floor. Fragments of fabric at the edges suggested there had been a rug there once, but it was presumably down in the bowels of the hotel now, with whatever had hit it.
"There's holes everywhere." He sounded less accusing and more bemused. "In the floors, the walls... the roof!"
"There is a war on," said 'Fred'. She did something with her tongue and her mouth slurped like she was having denture trouble. "Those are genuine bomb blasts. I should charge extra for you looking at them."
"But I can't stay here!"
"Well the yotel Marion got blowed up yisterday," said 'Fred'. She sounded patient. "And the 'ilton yotel got half-blowed up last week and that's now full of tourists who want a bit of excitement. And the Scragg fell of the pier a half-year back so youse ain't stayin' there unless youse can breathe water."
"Oh my," said the man. "Perhaps I should leave."
"Doors got blowed up," said 'Fred' complacently. "Shouldn't think they'll be fixed for a week."

Kyle said...

Post 1 of 3

"I haven't been down here in a while; slow down, 'kay?"

I tried to keep the tremble rooted in my bones instead of leaking out into my voice. Brady didn't need to know that I was terrified. After all, I'm supposed to be the Fearless and Amazing Big Sister. He was apparently unfazed by my caution, being too excited about gawking around at everything. He blundered into me and almost sent us both toppling down the spiral stone stairs more than once.

"Dude, seriously, calm down. We're still pretty high up!" We marched on down the continuous stony corkscrew stairs, and the too-hyper-for-caution kid reined it in a little. Thank goodness for small miracles.

The daylight we came in with had gone as deep as it dared, so I clicked on my little pocket flashlight. Brady's little seven-year-old hand found the back of my shirt and clutched, and I noticed that he wasn't bouncing anymore.

". . . is it much farther, Sis? It sure is dark." His voice was quiet, as if he were worried about upsetting the encroaching darkness. I was a little worried about that, myself.

I swallowed and whispered, "not much, you'll see light up ahead soon."

We were maybe halfway down the old, forgotten stone stairs. What it had been originally, I had no idea, but it couldn't have been good. Dad took me here more than once when I was Brady's age, and as far as I knew, we were the only ones who knew it was here. After all, you had to know where to go in the forest outside town - which knot in which tree to push like a button. Pushing the right button opened a false door in the cliffside nearby. Dad said if you pushed the wrong button, bad things would happen; I had yet to find out, and didn't want to. Pushing the right button was creepy enough. The gap that appeared - just appeared, instantly - in the rock face was like a hole into another world. I guess it kind of was.

The stairs were like something out of a medieval fantasy movie's evil lair or dungeon - cobwebs, the smell of dust, the occasional rat. No torches lining the walls, though. As I mused on how old the place must be, daydreaming a little, my worry about what lie in wait at the bottom abated. Until I heard the quiet hum and the stairwell ahead of us started to brighten a little, in an uneasy pale green light.

I turned off the flashlight and put it away. Brady made a noise in his throat - I couldn't tell if it was excited or scared. I knew that I was surely scared.

Without Dad here, it didn't feel fun like it did last time. He knew the place much better than I did. Last time he took me here, it almost felt like a second home. But that was the better part of six years ago, and Dad was gone. This place felt like it knew, like it fed on that, and on our fear. The green light intensified further, the color of a demon cat's gaze. We rounded another couple of steps and came to a landing, and the entrance to the underground chamber.

Brady came out from behind me, taking my right hand in his. His eyes were the size of clock faces, a mingle of apprehension and excitement. I saw my younger self in him, and it made me smile. It wasn't so scary, was it? Just a dusty, deserted old laboratory, right?

Kyle said...

Post 2 of 3

A large green crystal, maybe the size of a wardrobe - or a coffin - hung suspended by thick chains coming down from the corners of the room. The light it cast was electric neon, driving shadows under tables and behind chairs and up to the ceiling that was too high and dark to make out. The wooden tables along the side walls were still as they had been, cluttered with empty flasks and phials, and covered in brittle and yellowed parchment long past the point of readability. Boxes and jars that once housed herbs, poultices, medicines and God-knows-what-else were scattered around the floor, under the tables, on shelves along the walls, stacked in corners. Nothing in them now but more dust, the occasional cobweb, maybe some useless amount of residue of the former contents.

Dad had run the stock of ingredients dry last time he brought me here. He said he was trying to find a way to bring Mom back, and that this was the only way he figured he could.

"What is this place, Hannah?" Brady asked, still clutching my hand; he was excited, but seemed to expect every shadow to hold some kind of monster. Again, I felt gladdened at seeing myself in him. I guess that made me Dad. Huh.

"This is my alchemy lab, honey. It's where I work with different plants and ingredients and things to find new ways to do things."

"You mean you make potions? Like in fairy tales and cartoons?!"

Dad smiled at me and squeezed my hand. "Something like that, dear."

Something jabbed me in the rib. I snapped back to see Brady staring at me, impatient and a little worried. "Sis?"

"S-sorry. I was just remembering . . ." I sighed. "Dad said this was his alchemy lab, that he inherited it when his master died, who got it when his master died, back and back for hundreds of years."

Brady's eyes went wide with excitement. "Wow! Just like in the fairy tales!"

"Yeah, just like that." I smiled, and felt a little better again. But the air in the room still felt unwelcoming. We stepped in past the doorway, and Brady got a little bolder. He let go of my hand and started poking around. The crystal's hum got louder as we neared the center of the big room.

Brady grabbed an empty round flask and was turning it over in his hand. The leaded glass was heavy and thick, he probably couldn't break it if he tried. But he was ginger with it.

"Dad made magic potions in here?" He stuck the bottle up to his eye as if expecting to find something inside, even though it was clearly empty.

"I don't know about magic," I said, "but he definitely spent a lot of time here."

"Did you come here with him a lot?"

I strode slowly toward the rear wall, which was nothing but blank stones. "Three times. First time, I was your age."

Brady put the bottle down and came over to where I was. "Were you scared?"

"At first." I smiled and tousled his hair. "It's still a little weird, but I can stand it. You okay, kiddo?"

He nodded and laughed. "Potions! Dad was like, a wizard, huh?"

I shrugged and walked the rest of the way to the rear wall. Brady followed. He tugged my sleeve.

"What are we doing back here? It's just a dumb wall."

I thought for a long moment, then reached my hand out and touched three of the stones in the wall in the order Dad had shown me.

"First this one, then this one, and this one last. Got it?"

I nodded excitedly. "Yeah!"

Dad touched the stones as he had told me to, and --

Kyle said...

Post 3 of 3

A section of wall the rough size and shape of a doorway slid backward and off to the side, retreating to somewhere within the rest of the wall.

Another crystal hanging from chains flickered to life, this one only about the size of an apple. It was slow to brighten, casting a dim yellow light over the hidden room, which wasn't much bigger than a closet.

Brady gasped, then pointed, tugging on my sleeve. "A secret room! Cool!"

As the crystal grew brighter, like a large candle taking flame, the light danced over and off of the reflective surface of a large, ornate bronze floor mirror. Brady stepped forward to check it out; I held him back by his shirt collar.

"What is it, sis?"

"Just . . . just don't touch it yet, 'kay?"

This was it. He finished it.

"What's the mirror for, Daddy?" I ran my hand along the smooth frame.

"That's my special project, honey. When it's done, we'll be able to use it to see Mommy."

"She'll be in there?"

"I hope so."

The frame, which had been nothing but fairly simple bronze scrollwork when last I saw it, was now covered in weird symbols I didn't recognize. They caught the crystal's light and glowed here and there, as if the mirror, too, were waking up. I felt - or thought I felt - a mounting pressure inside my skull, that seemed to thrum and throb in time with the flickering of the symbols.

I loosened my grip on my little brother's collar, and my voice came out faint, distant in my own ears. "Dad built this to try to see Mom again."

Brady didn't speak, didn't move, for a long moment. ". . . does it work?"

"I dunno." Still feeling somewhat distant, with that pressure now a steady constant in my head, I reached slowly out to touch the silvery reflective surface of the mirror. It was warm to the touch, and a ripple of yellow light flashed over it outward from where I touched it.

The crystal above us flickered, and a chill draft blew through the room that was too far underground for drafts. The image reflected in the mirror darkened and became fuzzy, until the surface was pitch black.

Brady and I stared, soundless, scarcely breathing. His hand found mine again and we both held tight.

A shape shimmered slowly into focus in the center of the mirror, gradually gaining form and color. It looked like a person's face.

Brady squeezed. I felt my eyes widening. My heart quickened. The face gained definition, color. I thought I recognized the hair.

The mirror flashed yellow again, and our dear departed father's face flashed into full view.

It was locked in a silent, petrified scream.

Marc said...

Morganna - impressive that you were able to fit this so nicely into the acrostic. Really great job here :)

Greg - oh, no it was just multiple hunts for the same eggs. Same egg, on some occasions. He had a lot of fun with that.

If I recall correctly, the narrator, in my mind, was one of those who should not be trusted... but is attempting to get the listener to do just that.

Some delightfully disturbing descriptions in yours, that slurping sound in particular. You've made the setting so unpleasant that I'm left wanting to find a way out as well!

Kyle - Part one did a fantastic job of setting the scene for us. Some incredible atmosphere and background details to really bring it to life.

You do a wonderful job of building the tension, right up to the last sentence. I found myself wanting to continue reading... but also kind of not. Superb stuff here, thanks so much for sharing :)