Wednesday August 3rd, 2016

The exercise:

Write about something that is: hanging in the balance.

It was the usual mayhem at the bakery this morning. I had a little more trouble with it than I typically do, as I seemed to have difficulty getting into the flow of things. I got there eventually though.

I sold the last loaf of bread around 12:30, cinnamon buns and croissants were gone by 9:30'ish, and everything else sold out somewhere in between. Hectic, to say the least.

This afternoon I stayed home with Miles while Kat and Max went to the beach for some much needed Mommy and Max time. He's been having a bit of a rough time lately, and I think it's mostly due to adjusting to no longer being the only child.

From the sounds of it I think this afternoon helped, and we're hoping to make this a regular thing going forward.


You'll find the answer hanging in the balance.

It had taken me a long time to figure the clue out. Longer than it should have.

If I was being honest with myself, I realized as I stepped off the number twelve train and into the rain at Szabo Station, I would have found the answer much sooner if I hadn't fought against it so hard. Sometimes getting out of your own way is the hardest part of being a private investigator.

Hunching my shoulders against the steady drizzle, I walked slowly through an umbrella forest sprouting from the sullen faces of reluctant pedestrians. Hah. If only they knew the real meaning of reluctance. I could feel my shoes scraping across the pavement, as though they were the failing brakes of a soon to be demolished Studebaker. The damp made my right knee ache, but I was used to that by then and paid it little attention.

The old gymnasium at Twenty-fifth and Landry was exactly as I remembered it. Dull, imposing, a square building built with the imagination of an old Soviet Bloc architect. Its surroundings had changed drastically since I'd last seen it though. Where before it was just one of many, now it was the rotting, loose tooth dangling between the towering perfection of shiny new skyscrapers. It looked like they had been playing with it and wiggling it, hoping to knock it out, but so far the old gym was refusing to fall.

Before I could think about things too much I slipped inside. Immediately the memories of another life came flooding back - the endless hours on the mats, the routines on repeat until they were flawless, the falls, the falls, the falls... until the fall that ended it all. My right knee torn apart, my Olympic dreams left behind on the operating room table.

By that time those were another man's hopes. I had left them far behind. Or so I had thought.

But standing there once more in that gym, staring at the new stitches on the balance beam, I knew that 'Flexy' Lexy Morgan was back in my life. And that there would be no end to the troubles coming my way.


Greg said...

Poor Max, the transition from "the only one you'll ever love" to "meh, we have a spare now" must be hard :) It sounds like you've got ways of handling it though, and I'm sure he'll get over it eventually; after all Miles is at the most demanding part of his life at the moment.
The bakery sounds impressively busy; I have this vision of a queue of customers winding out the door and of each of them presenting you with a list of 7 items that you scurry round the shop collecting until they all finish and you collapse in a heap on the floor.
I really, really like the line "an umbrella forest sprouting from the sullen faces of reluctant pedestrians", but the perfectionist in me wants to ask if it shouldn't be _above_ their faces rather than _from_? That aside the atmosphere and descriptions here are lovely and set a scene that is all ready for the memories, the hints of a painful past and the dubious future that you go on to relate. Your private investigator definitely has more going for him than any of mine ever achieved :) I do hope that you expand on this a little -- it's been a while since we had a week-long prompt so maybe you could take this as a starting point?

Hanging in the balance
Blonde waitresses take their trays, they spin around and they cross the floor. They've got the moves (oh they do); you drop your drink and they give you more.
Another drink falls; caught in the strobe light it seems to fall in slow motion, and when it strikes the floor and shatters it's noiseless. There's a waitress at an elbow immediately, the silver tray sparkling in the eternally-turning scatter-light of the disco-ball, and a fresh drink is placed on a tiny white coaster in front of a face that seems senseless. The eyes are dull, the movements are mechanical: nerveless fingers pick up the glass, and across the room another one falls from an ineffective grip. A waitress moves faster than the eye can see and there's a new drink ready already.
The barmen -- there are five of them, working like automata preparing the drinks and setting them on the bar for the waitresses to pick up -- are sweating. There's a sense of urgency, an air of worry about them that seems out of place in this balletic display.
The glasses on the shelves below the optics cloud. At first it's momentary; like a breath of cold air blown in from outside and condensing on the glass. It fades, but then it's back again, and back again, and... suddenly it seems like all the glasses are frosted over. From the inside.
Something scritches and skitters, and shadows pass over the bar counter from things moving overhead. The barmen work faster, never looking up, but they're sweating more now. And the sweat droplets are freezing into tiny, perfect ice-jewels stuck to their skin, tugging at their heads like phantom fingers.
The waitresses disappear, hurrying through a service door that is oddly heavy and strong; there is a glimpse of multiple bolts on the inside before it slams shut. The patrons in the bar stir uneasily, but it is too late now. The Ilmatu skitter in, egg-smooth heads on elongated bodies like daddy-long-legs pretending to be human turning this way and that, feeling somehow for the senses they lack. Ice rimes the walls and floor and they surge up like ants engulfing an intruder....

morganna said...

Swaying slightly in the breeze
Two hanging pans
Equally balanced
A man's life, weighed

Two hanging pans
She sits in judgement, watching
A man's life weighed
The shining good deeds, the ugly lumps of the bad

She sits in judgement watching
The scales as they are loaded
The shining good deeds, the ugly lumps of the bad
The pans shiver as the chains rise and fall

Equally balanced
The scales are loaded
The pans shiver as the chains rise and fall
Two hanging pans, swaying slightly in the breeze

Marc said...

Greg - thanks! I have been mulling over ideas for a week long prompt, so I shall keep this one in mind.

Fantastic stuff from you here, as your creepy Ilmatu entries always are. Wonderful rhythm and flow and imagery to begin, which contrasts starkly with that horrific ending scene. Top notch.

Morganna - magnificent. Not sure what else to say. Just really, really like this one. Thank you for sharing it with us.