Shaken

He felt the ground rolling under his feet, and stopped moving. He held his breath. A few seconds passed by. Nothing. His imagination had tricked him. The ground rolled again, this time stronger and faster. Oh shit. This is real. He froze, unable to think, panic rising within him so fast he found it hard to breathe. He looked around him. People ran around, screaming. Earthquake! Earthquake! They shouted. Buildings started shaking. Noise overpowered everything else. Trees swayed dangerously on the sidewalks. Cars crashed into to each other, drivers distracted by their utter panic.

He ran for cover. Not knowing, not thinking, not seeing anything, as his instincts took over. He saw a nearby bench and jumped behind it, holding the back of his head with his hands to protect from falling debris. He realized that he wasn’t alone. A young woman lay in front of him, her head plastered to the ground. Her shoulders shook with fear. He wanted to reach out and rest his hand on her shoulder, but this would scare her off, so he did nothing. He watched her in silence. She appeared unaware of his presence.

The earthquake ended. He was safe. The girl stayed on the ground, her trembling decreased. He sat up and stared at her. She stood up.

“Oh!”

He grimaced, feeling guilty that he had not alerted her to his presence earlier. “Hi,” he said in a low voice.

“Hi.”

“Are you okay?”

She nodded.

“Everything’s fine. It’s over.”

“Yes,” she hesitated, “yes, I’m glad.”

She turned around and walked away.

He stared after her. Everything’s fine, it’s over. Over. Those words reverberated in his head. He wished he hadn’t said them. He longed for the shaking, the rumble of the Earth, the feeling of impending doom that drove every other thought out of his mind, the eerie peace that had come to him when he thought he would die. How strange.

Stranger Than Fiction (A short short story)

He was tall, broad-shouldered, and struggled to fit through the doorway. He walked in, hesitating with each step, and took his hat off. With a nod of his head, he took his trench coat off as well and handed it to me. I smiled at him, suppressing my discomfort. I hadn’t had to do business with detectives before, so this was all new to me. I didn’t know what to say or how to act. I felt his eyes upon me, knowing he noticed my every quirk and feeling inadequate because of it. He lit up a cigarette, asking me if I minded. I shook my head, when I really wanted to laugh. Either I was dreaming this whole thing up or I’d been dropped into a black and white Humphrey Bogart movie from the forties. His dark eyes glanced my way with suspicion, as if he had read my thoughts. I tried not to stare at him. His handsome yet intimidating presence was hard to ignore.

He cleared his throat and started asking me questions. No small talk, no hello and how are you, he went right down to business. No fuss, no muss, just the facts, ma’am, as Dickens would say. I don’t know why, but I found that disappointing. I liked chit chat. I wanted to get to know people I met on a daily basis, even jaded detectives that looked like an unholy hybrid of Phillip Marlowe and James Bond.

That’s not to say I wanted him to flatter me, but a little friendliness could have gone a long way. I had just lost my sister to a murder, after all. I gave him what he wanted: the facts. He wrote it all down in his little notebook, his eyes glued to the pages the whole time. He didn’t look up, didn’t give me any acknowledgement at all. I felt a rush of embarrassment. His coldness unnerved me, and I wanted him to leave. I froze up just by standing near him.

The funny thing was, even though he refused to look at me and said nothing as I yammered on about what had happened to my sister, I felt like he was aware of everything I did and everything I felt, like he was staring up at me from beneath his hooded eyelids. He could see me, without looking. This made no sense at all, I knew that, but it was how I felt at the time. I never would have imagined, that day, what came next. I never would have guessed that cold, rigid man was my future husband, and the love of my life. Had it been a novel, I would have cackled at how unrealistic it was. It’s true, you know, what they say. Truth really is stranger than fiction.

September

This is a flash fiction I wrote, it’s called September 

She let her gaze fall across the Brooklyn Bridge and frowned as the clouds rolled over the cables and obscured the towering skyscrapers of the Manhattan skyline. She pulled her coat closer to her body and yanked her hood over her head. Rains in New York often came unannounced, dropping onto the city in a sudden downpour, particularly in the heated, musty months of summer. At least this time, the rain would come after a warning and she’d be fully prepared.
Three months after she moved to the city, Kate was still bewildered by it. Maybe it was her strange timing, coming to live here a mere two months after the world shattered into pieces. She heard once that everything happened in September, whether good or bad, endings and beginnings always came with the fall. Watching the towers crash and burn on television was like the coming of the end, the apocalypse in real-time.
Everyone thought she was crazy. Packing her bags, leaving everything behind, to go and live in a city under siege. When the glittering lights shut off, and the streets emptied, and plumes of black smoke choked the night sky, she wanted to be there. Call it a death wish, an impulse for self-destruction, a mental illness, whatever it was, Kate had to live it, experience it, rather than watch it on a screen. If death was her fate, then she would face it head on, than cower from it. What good she could do in the short time she had to live, she would do it all, and on her own terms. And she knew in the depths of her heart, that in this troubled city, in this despairing time, she had found a new home.