Wilhelmina Winters, One Hundred Three

Wil and Jakob entered the emergency waiting area. No moody lighting, windows, or friendly Nurse Bea awaited them. Jakob walked to the reception desk, Wil attached to his side.

“Jakob and Wil Winters, here to see -” He choked. Wil turned to him, some feeling stalking past her dark eyes.

“Winters? Winters…” The nurse read over the computer monitor before her. Bits of display reflected from her thick lenses. “Oh! That’s -” She, too, swallowed the end of her sentence. She looked up at the somber faces before her, the overhead lights dancing from her glasses. “You two go right in,” she said, her tone an attempt at gentle. “Exam Room 5.”

Jakob shifted left. As they reached the door, a somber *click* granted them entry. Past a closed Room 1, open and empty Room 2, and closed Room 3; Jakob tread in even, heavy paces. Wil stumbled along. They nearly collided with a man in a white coat exiting Room 4 -“Sorry.” “Sorry.”- before reaching Room 5.

Jakob paused; Wil realized she could hear someone talking. Not just talking -Rob, her father, seemed engaged in a heated conversation. She’d heard his voice at that volume and tone only a few times in her life. She and her brother exchanged a nonverbal agreement and both leaned toward the closed door.

“I said, ‘This is a bad time!'” After a slight pause, he tried to continue, “I know you have every right to- But that’s not- I know, but- Couldn’t you wait till next month or next week even, if you had any sort of heart…” Rob’s last words came out in a sob.

Wil’s wide eyes flicked up to Jakob’s but his were intent on the wood door before them.

“Fine,” Rob said. He sounded flat, weary. “Fine. Just fine. We’re at The County Hospital. In the emergency room.” They heard their father’s heavy boots stomping, stopping; then a *scree* of chair on polished floor.

Jakob met Wil’s eyes; he nodded to her, knocked, turned the handle, and pushed open the door. Before them hung the odious blue-and-beige curtain. Jakob held Wil. “It’s us, Dad,” he said, standing; not shifting the temporary barrier.

Another chair screech sounded, followed by solid footsteps. The curtain to their left clinked to the side to reveal a haggard, unshaven ghost of the man Wil knew as her father. She thought he looked barely alive; gasped as a thought struck her.

“Mom?”

Rob jumped at the question and blinked down at his daughter. “Wil, I need to tell you something-” he began.

Wil came to life so suddenly that neither brother nor father anticipated her actions. She pulled away from Jakob’s arm and wrenched the curtain aside. There, before her, lay her mother. No -Wil instantly felt the difference. This was not-her-mother. This beautiful, sleeping form that resembled the beautiful, sleeping Cynthia was empty. The room was empty.

Wil’s legs collapsed beneath her, and no chair nor person caught her this time.

 

Continued from One Hundred Two.
Keep reading to One Hundred Four.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

WINNER of the Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

At looooong last, I’ve had time that I should have spent feeding my children and cleaning my house to spend on choosing a winner.

And that winner is: Deb Whittam.

Untitled piece

by Deb Whittam

i got you out when it
was darker than the darkest
night, when the silence
wasn’t golden, it was burnt
like toast forgotten in the
toaster, when all stared at me
not perplexed, kind of,
mean, if you know what I mean,
mean like Mexican bean beans.

it was you that brought
sunlight to my life, that made me
feel accepted and perhaps
even like liked
it was you who made others
smile, not that kind of smile
when they are placating you,
but that kind of smile when they
think what you said was actually
a little bit funny

where are you now, where could
you be hiding … in a suitcase perhaps
perhaps, then it was the best
of times, but now it is the worst
of times, for you, I miss you oh
sense of humor who stood by me when
I couldn’t think of what to say but,
now you are gone, gone as in absent, perhaps
forever, forever, ever

Congratulations, Deb! You are the most terrible poet of the week!

As is the norm every contest, the choosing felt brutal. I narrowed things down to about three poems; based on sounding like an elegy, losing something, and (of course) being terrible. Deb’s concoction had several bad poetry elements like repeated words that had no reason to repeat, and that it felt very much like a serious poem -but really was not.

As is also the norm every contest, the other entrants were hardly losers (winners?). Read below and see if you can keep a straight face:

An Allergy

by Bruce Goodman

Oh woe is me
For I have lost my Virginity
Somewhere between the pharmacy
And under the Linden Tree.

If you should see it running about
Give me a shout
Even if you are in doubt.
I have no idea how it got out.

It was here one minute and then gone
Quick as a flash, it didn’t take long.
Where could have I gone wrong?
I feel such a ning-nong.

I desperately want my Virginity back
To lose it is a great lack.
My mother says it’s my own fault, that’s a fact,
And anyway, she says, Virginity is a stupid name for a cat.

—–

Brain Matter

by Ruth Scribbles

Alas my brain
Was drained
through a strainer
Of multi media
Input and output.
What a pain!
It’s gone
With the wind
Wound up like a
String of yarn
Wrapped around
My phone
My brain was painfully
Drained!
Matter is spaced
It’s gone… my brains
Are gone
Pieces are sliding
I can’t catch them
Glue won’t help
My file cabinet has been
De-filed
I can’t even cry
Because my brain
Doesn’t know that–
It is gone gone gone

—–

I Miss My Phone

by Larry Trasciatti

My very heart and soul do break,
So forlorn and woebegone
When I , alone with my pajamas on
Have been begrudged my telephone.

I go to Google’s Hangouts and
Punch my number into the keys.
And hope and pray that maybe please
Its dulcet ring will soon arise.
O I suspect where it may be
Perchance in my pajama bottom
At least that’s where it was last autumn.
And just where are they when I need’em?

If it into my pants pockets was tossed
And only for a moment lost
I hope that soon our paths will have again crossed
And it will not in a machine get washed.

—–

Gone for Good, Gone for Bad

by Trent McDonald

Even keeled
In a fair wind
Keeping my balance
In all things emotional
I have lost thee!
How, oh how, could it be?

You are the one thing
That keeps me safe!
Without you
I would be beaten up
All of the time
You make me watch my mouth
my language
All of the time
I don’t insult bigger guys
Because of you
But now you are gone
To wherever such things go
No more
Gone

I see only red
I can’t find you
When the world is red!
Darn it,
I hate red!
And it is pissing me off
To no end!
The red is growing
I am trembling
I need to punch something
Because you are gone!!!!
GET BACK HERE!!!!!!!
Arrggggggghhhh!!

Ah, my temper
where can you be?
I have lost my temper once again
And the world
Will never be the same

—–

FLOWERS ON THE COFFIN

by Chirayu

May I live or die
But my love
will never die”

These words are
written on an
old maple leaf
which is still
on the coffin of the boy
who once said this
lines to his love.

Actual, this maple leaf is a valentine gift once given
by the boy to his girl
which last even after his death.

—–

Elegy For My Smartphone

by Joanne Fisher

Bitter the world becomes

when you lose your smartphone

Time and again at the days beginning

when I used to switch my phone on

to see the latest notifications

I must now mourn it’s absence

there is no one I can now

communicate to without Twitter

or Messenger

Without it how do I dare

open the doors of my heart?

When before I used to happily post away

not ever needing to guard my thoughts

but with it’s loss my world dwindles

day by day, and passes away

Where has my Facebook gone? Where is Twitter?

Where has Tumblr gone? Where the texts? Where my

player of music?

Where the Uber Eats? And where the pleasures of

my solitaire app?

Sad at heart I bind my feelings in fetters

I dream I still have my phone

then I wake and it’s absence

is more heavy on my heart

aching for it’s touch screen

and it’s comfortable place in my hand

Nothing is easy in this world when

even our phones are in the hands of fate

here tweets are fleeting, here texts are

fleeting, here Snapchat is fleeting,

without my smartphone the whole world

becomes a wilderness.

—–

By Any Other Name

by Jon

Euphemisms abound around this truth that’s hard to face;
My admission – I avoid it – staring blankly into space.
My loss has now beset me. My lament has brought me low.
Ever more do others notice. Clearly they’re no longer stowed.
Ere I pursued that line of thought, I prob’ly should have paused,
Alas too late, as now is clear, my marbles I have lost!

—–

Thar’ She Blows

by Peregrine Arc

I’ve had it up to here
My patience has disappeared.
No longer am I diplomatic;
no longer are we being quite so pragmatic.

You’ll get it done, you’ll jot it here
Two weeks later and it’s–oh dear!
It isn’t done, it isn’t well?
Well who could’ve bloody telled?

It’s no matter, I forgive
Just sign this paper here, no motive.
For my patience has gave, it is no more
For your incompetence has made me forlorn.

I’ll measure your shoulders, I’ll dig the hole
And into your coffin with prayers you’ll go.
For I’m tired of hearing you’ll do something soon
When you’d just as well promise me the moon.

—–

Elegy to My Last Pair of Glasses

by Leanna Jones

Farewell my glasses, farewell to thee,
I hope you know what you meant to me.
When you entered my life, I was delighted
But now your departure has left me short sighted.
I can’t watch EastEnders or read the news.
I can’t put on lipstick or lace up my shoes.
I now live in darkness, and perpetual blur,
With only the memories of how good things were.
Oh why did you go! Why did you flee!
I’m lost without you, quite literally.
An empty space on the side of my bed
And nothing to touch on the top of my …
Oh silly me, they’re always found there
I’ll check first next time, before I buy a new pair.

—–

Leon Hodges

by Violet Lentz

Ain’t never knowed no one like ol’ Leon Hodges. All piss, vinegar, and moonshine. Had a mouth a man shouldn’t a et with, couldn’t read a book, d’nt know a letter from a line.

He told some great tall tales tho’, ‘bout women, an wine, an song. Don’t know the truth of nar a one, ‘ccept ’bout how his first marriage up an’ done gone wrong.

Don’t know if he had any chi’drn, if he did, he never spoke a none to me, and I’d a have ta say he woulda, as I was prolly close to him, as another man could be.

When the news come of his passin’, it come down hard up on my heart- I ain’t gone lie. I’ll tell ya the truth, that mans leavin’ done tore this man apart.

All the times I shook my head and said, ‘You damn ol’ bastard liar!’, I’d give anything for one more night, with ol’ Leon, spinnin’ yarns in front o’ a good hot fire.

He was a good man, bl’eive that, cause I wouldn’t tell you no lie, was the best damn friend I ever had. Gol dang it Leon! Why’d ya up ‘n die?

—–

To Misplace is to Lose

by Michael B. Fishman

Hark thee temper, I loseth
thee
free…
quentlee.

Careless me.

Lo temper, a canker-blossom
you’re really pretty awesome
and more so even if you could come
across some
patience.

Look at that car! Says my beastly patience crassly. Oops, lost.

These lousy lines aren’t moving. Obnoxious and clumsy patience, plump and scary. Oops, lost.

He was out at home? What? That flabby umpire is blindingly blind! Oops, lost.

My lusty patience. Silly and sometimes witty. Mysteriously mysterious. And imperious. Why so serious? You joker.

Oh proud patience: my paltry pretender of a painfully prickly persistence. Would you obey me if I didn’t mislay thee?

—–

Thank you to so many entries this week! You certainly made the contest difficult to judge! Please tune in tomorrow for next week’s prompt.

mayron-oliveira-1224441-unsplash

Deb: D. Wallace Peach created this graphic that you can use (if you want) for a badge of honor as the winner:

Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Seven

As Reagan near-dragged Wil out of the art room and down the hallway of classrooms and lockers, Wil couldn’t help but recall Art’s tease that their helpful friend was “domineering.” She tried to get a word in, or at least a trailing sneaker. “Reagan, I-”

Drag.

“But, wait! I-”

“No time, Wil!” Yank.

Wil might have found herself in a helpless twist of clothes and backpack at the lunchroom door if, at the exact moment they passed the office, her captor had not looked back to reprimand Wil’s sluggishness. As such, neither girl anticipated the collision with the exiting boy.

“Ouch!” he said. “What the- Wil!

Wil saw Reagan’s impending curse die on her lips. “Harrison?” she said instead.

Harrison’s face clouded into a scowl. He turned to face Reagan; both she and Wil noticed his bandaged hands.

“Oh,” Reagan said. “Sorry.”

He shrugged a bit, and then had to readjust the folder and book in his arms. His face still scowled. “I don’t mind the burn.” He glanced at Wil, especially at her own, small bandages. “It’s the name.” As he saw understanding cross Reagan’s face, he said, “I’m ‘Harry.’

He turned back to Wil without waiting for a response. He smiled at her. “Hey! D’ya have my phone?”

Wil blinked to recover from his abrupt manner. She was still processing that they’d crashed and that she was not still being pulled. Her eyes focused on the white, bandaged hands before her; traveled up to Harrison’s -Harry’s- face. He had an expectant expression. He’d asked her a question, something about a phone…

“Oh!” Wil said, blushing. “Yeah! I just realized I still had it, but couldn’t remember your name-”

“Harry,” Harry said.

Wil blushed more, if possible. “Right; yeah.”

He stood, still expectant.

“Oh! The phone!” Wil tried to grab for it with her bandaged hand, causing Harry to try to help her, but they both stopped when they realized neither could grasp it.

“Erm, Reagan?” Wil asked. She looked at her friend, but Reagan seemed a little lost. She seemed to be watching something near Harry’s face, or near his startlingly-blue eyes. Wil tried again. “Reagan!”

“Hm- Yeah?” her former captor turned to Wil.

“Uh.” Wil wasn’t accustomed to a speechless Reagan, though she didn’t know the girl very well yet. Maybe her carpool neighbor was sarcastic and talkative with their lunchtime group but not anywhere else. “Could you get Harry’s phone out of my pocket and give it to him?”

Reagan blinked.

“Please?” Harry asked. His tone sounded nicer than before, but still impatient.

Reagan looked back at his eyes; nodded. She reached forward, extracted the cell phone, then gingerly slid it into the side pocket he offered.

“Thanks.” he told her. Smiling a white flash of teeth at Wil, he added, “And thank you, Wil.” He laughed. “Now, I’m gonna try to eat. See ya!” He pushed past the gaping Reagan and a few other teenagers milling around the area and headed down the stairs to the lunchroom.

Wil sighed in relief. “Well, I’m glad I got his phone back. I didn’t even know his name!” She started walking toward the stairs as well; Reagan followed. “He seems like kind of a jerk, though,” she observed.

“Who, Harriso- Harry?” Reagan sounded surprised.

 

Continued from Eighty-Six.
Keep reading to Eighty-Eight.

Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Six

“Wil!”

Wil turned in the crowded hall, but saw no one who might have spoken. She wasn’t even sure she’d heard her name at all, and felt she reacted merely at the hope of being named. Frowning and adjusting her straps, she continued on to her locker. Just past the stairwell, however, something or someone pulled on her backpack. She had just enough time to squeak a surprised, “Eep!” before disappearing into the art room.

“What the -” Wil began, turning, then stopped at the sight of Reagan’s highly-amused face. Wil let out a breath and changed her surprised expression for one of incredulity. “Reagan?”

Her carpool neighbor laughed, though in a more subdued manner than usual. “Sorry, Wil. Had to grab you since Hope said you didn’t get your note.”

Wil’s mouth dropped open, which only made Reagan snort. “I…” Reagan began, a twinkle in her eye and an impish smirk starting at the corners of her mouth, “I heard you had a busy morning.”

“How did you-” Wil asked, but a third bout of laughter cut her off.

In fact, Reagan covered her mouth and leaned on an art table for support. Several times, she seemed recovered, then resumed after looking at Wil’s ever-deepening scowl. Finally, Reagan managed to stop. “Wil,” she explained, “The whole school knows about Flasher Hurn.”

Wil’s eyebrows shot up. “Flasher?” She received an affirmative nod. “Flasher Hurn?” Another nod. “Wow.”

“Yeah. He’s not getting rid of that one for a while.”

“Wow,” Wil said again. She couldn’t help it. Poor Carl.

Reagan smiled, then pulled a pretend-disappointed face. “I just can’t believe none of you got a pic or anything!”

“You know we can’t have a -” Wil stopped, and her hand moved to her pocket. The phone she’d grabbed from that other guy was still there! They’d all forgotten about it in the excitement of Carl’s performance and the resultant fallout. Mrs. Bird had called everyone’s parents, made Carl apologize, and finally agreed to call the paramedics. Wil had just barely been released. They’d said her burns were practically superficial, bandaged the affected areas of her arm and fingers, and sent her off to lunch.

At which point Reagan had nabbed her. Wil looked at her captor.

“What?”

“That’s what I want to know. Why’d you grab me?”

The twisted smile Wil saw so often returned. “Oh, that. We’re having a meeting. Top Secret.” Reagan put a finger to her lips. “At the Top Secret blue table everyone can see if they want to, in the Top Secret lunchroom everyone eats in, at the Top Secret time of five minutes ago o’clock.”

Wil took a minute to process her friend’s rambling sentence. “Oh.”

“Yeah.” Reagan grabbed Wil’s bandage-free arm. “So, let’s go.”

 

Continued from Eighty-Five.
Keep reading to Eighty-Seven.

Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Five

It hadn’t been such a boring class after all, Wil reminisced. She crossed one foot back over the other and tried not to share that idea with the other members of her Chemistry group. They probably weren’t in the mood. She snuck a glance to her right and left, taking in their various poses of irritation and boredom.

She wished for something to do besides wait for her turn with only a motivational poster and her classmates to stare at. She should have grabbed the note from Hope, maybe, during their hasty escape to the office. None of them had thought to do much besides run, given the damage. If only Carl weren’t such a clumsy jerk, she thought.

Almost simultaneously, she and the others glared at the door to the nurse’s office. It was a closet, really, since they lacked an official nurse or sick room. Only in today’s case of potential chemical burning had their secretary, Mrs. Bird, demonstrated concern or permission to use some of the school’s precious medical supplies. Wil hoped the first aid kit was still in date, considered who was at fault, and rescinded that hope -at least for the bandages used on Carl.

She sighed. The girl who had gotten their experiment supplies rolled her eyes and said, “Yeah. What a jackass.”

Bobby and Wil snorted, and Wil saw a slight smile on the boy’s face whose name she did not know. He’d been right next to Carl when Carl had spilled their supplies, and was therefore third in line to be seen.

“Shouldn’t we get an ambulance or something?” Bobby asked. He eyed the supplies girl, who was awkwardly cradling her arm in the office’s usual method of first aid: a wet towel.

The girl shrugged.

“I’ve never been burned at school,” Wil offered. She thought. “Did anyone bring a phone?” She knew it wasn’t likely, since anyone who owned one had to keep it in his locker or risk its removal.

The boy who’d been near Carl turned to the right and left, then down the short hall to the closed supplies door. They could still hear Carl yelping and complaining. Phrases like, “I’ve got conditioning to get to, you know…” drifted down the hall, followed by Mrs. Bird’s impatient, “If you’d hold still, this bandage would stay…”

“I’ve got one,” he affirmed. “Can you take it?” he asked the girl seated to his right.

“Ha!” she answered, screwing up her face. “Even if I wanted to, lover boy, my hands are as damaged as yours.” She held up her towel-draped hands to demonstrate; he responded in kind.

“I’ll do it,” Wil grumbled. Laughing as he angled to accentuate the appropriate side pocket, she slipped it free.

“Hurry,” Bobby urged.

Wil activated the screen. “What’s your passkey?”

“Twenty-three, thirty-two.”

“Nice,” Bobby commented.

Wil didn’t understand what was “nice” about a bunch of numbers, but put them in and pulled up a search. After only a half-minute’s read, she said, “Eurgh!”

“What?” the two hand burn victims asked. Bobby leaned over her left shoulder to see.

Just then, the supplies door opened. Wil stashed the phone in her pocket and looked up to see a mummy-like Carl Hurn exiting. He wore a glare as well, but it was not as impressive as the scowl worn by the woman just behind him.

“Mrs. Bird?” Wil ventured. “I think Carl needs to go to the hospital.”

Mrs. Bird stood all 5’2″ of her frame a little straighter. She peered around Carl. “Oh?” she sniffed. “And why do you think that, Ms. Winters?”

“Well,” Wil gulped, “I …remembered a story I …um.. that Dr. L -Dr. Lombard told us recently about a guy with chemical burns..” She tried not to look at her classmates as she blushed. They knew she was lying about her source, of course, but even Mrs. Bird wanted to hear the story.

The secretary’s expression became impatient in her morbid curiosity. “Well?”

Wil shifted. “Um, well …I re- I mean, Dr. Lombard said- that the guy’s -erm- well, that the guy had chemicals spilled in his lap like Carl did; and that, because the guy didn’t change and rinse off and go to a hospital right away, that he didn’t have any …private parts when they finally did cut off his pants…”

To which Wil and three of her classmates witnessed the fastest de-pantsing a person with bandaged hands has ever completed.

 

Continued from Eighty-Four.
Keep reading to Eighty-Six.

Once There Was Soul

I had an opinion once

-I think-

But thinking is another thing I’m not certain I ever did.

Whether I did or not,

I try not to do so anymore.

-Let’s not think about it.

So what should we do

Without thought?

Tap a screen

Or, swipe it.

*Ping*

Whatever you do, don’t look around

The device before your face.

Wilhelmina Winters: Fifty-Five

“Mina, bring the bag,” Rob ordered. Wil scrambled to her feet and took off down the hall. He looked down at Cynthia, who nodded at him as cheerfully as she could manage. She was trying to suppress another round of coughing, fairly successfully. Rob nodded in return, ending the sort of conversation only those who have lived and loved together for so long can have.

Wil returned with Cynthia’s hospital bag. Rob gripped her shoulder in gratitude, and looked into her eyes. They were wide and full of emotion. “I’m going to get my things. Will you please text Jakob?” Unlike Cynthia, Wil always needed more instruction than a nod and a smile. Rob pressed his cell phone into her hand, and flew down the hall faster than Wil ever saw him move.

She stared down at the screen of her father’s phone. The scratched surface dimly reflected her dark outline. “Wil,” Cynthia whispered. Wil’s eyes shifted to her mother’s, though her focus was obviously elsewhere. She blinked, and slowly returned to the living room, the couch, the drawn face before her.

She needed to text her step-brother. They needed to go to the hospital.

Rob returned, just as Wil finished. She looked up at her father, and he sighed at the distraught confusion on his daughter’s face. He itched to run his hand along his jaw, but both were occupied with his things. Instead, his right hand jangled the ring of keys it held.

“Get your things, Mina,” Rob said. He cleared his throat. “Your book, maybe.” He thought to mention the letter, but decided against it. Wil took another hurried trip from the room, and Rob quickly stooped and retrieved the envelope and papers from where Wil had cast them to the floor.

When Wil returned, clutching her paperback novel and father’s phone, she found Cynthia alone. Her mother was still seated, shuffling her feet awkwardly into her shoes. Wil quickly dropped what she was holding and kneeled to help slide her mother’s heels into the simple gray loafers.

The apartment door blew open. The cold dark of winter afternoon framed Rob’s hunched, unkempt frame before he came through and slammed it back closed behind him. He came quickly to the couch.

“Get your things, Mina,” he said again. As Wil sat back out of the way, he reached forward to unhook the IV bag. Holding it upright in one hand, he leaned the opposite shoulder down to his wife to help her stand.

Cynthia laughed -a mistake, as usual. She coughed and coughed, her body’s jerking motions transferring to Rob’s stocky frame. The apartment fell eerily quiet in the small pause after she finished.

She looked up at Rob. She smiled, an expression that widened slightly at his mirrored response. “I was going to say, ‘I don’t need help to stand up,'” she said, nearly laughing again.

Rob nodded, then helped her to fully stand. He still held her bag. He looked back to his daughter, and Wil hurriedly grabbed the discarded book and cell phone. She looked around the floor, wondering at what else she was missing.

“Let’s go,” Rob said determinedly. They headed out of the apartment, into the great empty echoes of the encroaching storm.

 

Continued from Fifty-Four.
Keep reading to Fifty-Six.