Invisible

by Angela Kempe

 

One warm day vanishes

And a storm brews in the night

Spilling cold rain on all the flowers

Wilting, freezing, rotting at the root

 

The flower of youth is gone

She sits staring out the window

Memories of her life fading

She is vanishing, wrinkled, alone

 

Where did the days go?

Those once lived free and vivid

Like the colors of a rainbow

An apparition in the storm

 

Everything significant is lost

It all loses value in time

And the flower that bloomed on the east side of the hill

Where the river rushes by the quiet meadow

Is invisible

One Hundred Seats

by Angela Kempe

Sylvia clutched the tattered picture of her eight-year-old son to her breast. She closed her eyes and imagined her boy, long and gangly, smiling up at her. He wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up. She bought him a telescope so they could gaze at the stars and they spent their summer nights imagining what life might exist beyond their solar system, studying the great scientists who dreamed like them, of uncovering the mysteries of the universe.

“You can be whatever you want to be,” she used to tell him. “Life is a blank canvas and you can paint any picture you want on it.”

But he already felt a feverish passion in his heart for science and decided that he was an astronaut as true as one could be. And so they embarked on a journey together, discovering every book they could, learning about physics, chemistry, and astronomy. Turning their house into a laboratory of science experiments and engineering projects.

Her seat shook violently. She remembered the call. The pain of hearing that his friend’s mom’s car had crashed on the way to the movies. The emptiness of knowing he was gone.

If he wouldn’t be one of the hundred travelers aboard the SpaceX shuttle to Mars, she was going to be.

“Here’s to your dreams, my baby boy.”

The Girl in Shackles

by Angela Kempe

In summer, she belonged to the sun,

Skin tingling under its nurturing warmth.

In autumn, she ran with the wind,

Hair flailing  in crazy knots.

In winter, she succumbed to the rain,

Mourning years passing like rumbling clouds.

Then in spring, she celebrated,

Dancing barefoot on the cool damp earth.

Passion; bound,

Devoted love,

Her heart; imprisoned by the cycling whims of nature.

Mother

by Angela Kempe

Jan and Melissa reclined back on the leather sofa and crossed their legs casually. I bent to sip my Frappuccino when Jan’s toddler snatched Faren’s plastic dinosaur from her. Faren let out a high pitched shriek and tears started gushing from her eyes like geysers.

“Mine!” Faren yelled, stomping her feet on the ground.

“Faren share!” warned her mother, Melissa.

Melissa flashed an embarrassed smile.

“Give that toy back!” Jan ordered her son.

Jan’s son looked down at his dinosaur, snot dripping from his nose into his mouth in a continuous stream of clear boogers. He was already sad because although he was two, he was old enough to know the outcome; Give it back or Mommy would take it back. Either way was bad news for him, so he slurped up his boogers and threw it on the ground, running towards the blocks.

I looked at my daughter. She was playing contentedly with the giant legos.

“You’re so lucky, Cindy.”

Jan took a sip of her latte.

“Your little girl is always good. I never see you have any problems with the kids. And look at you. You are like perfect looking.”

Melissa stole a quick look at my flat stomach, enviously. Then, cast her eyes back towards my face and smiled.

“How’s potty training going?” Melissa asked me.

My kids had potty trained themselves. Wasn’t that normal?

“Good,” I said. “I haven’t had any problems.”

“Isn’t Freddie in kindergarten now?” Melissa interrogated. “How’s that going? Must be hard getting him ready for school. Does he throw any temper tantrums?”

“Um,” I said, sipping uncomfortably. “It’s good. I mean, I don’t have any problems really.”

“See!” Jan yelled. “You are the perfect mom. Too perfect! Gain some weight or something. There must be some issue with the kids. I mean, nobody has a perfect time raising their children. You don’t really enjoy motherhood that much, do you?”

“Well…”

They both shot up from their seats and were staring at me with fake smiles. I didn’t know what to say.

“I’ll tell you what, I’ll think about it and get back to you.”

Everyone laughed.

“I’m sorry, but I have to go, girls.”

I stood up and began cleaning up the big legos.

“So soon?”

“I forgot I have to do groceries before Ted gets home. Let’s do this again next week, okay?”

I couldn’t wait to get home. I put my daughter in her carseat and spiraled down the mountain road towards our house playing the conversation in my mind over and over again hysterically. I decided to try my husband at work. I commanded the car to dial Ted Johnson.

“Hello?”

“Teddy.”

“Yup.”

“Something happened at coffee today. I think we’ve been found out.”

“Why’d you think that?”

“Because I was talking with Jan and Melissa over a Frappuccino and we were just watching the kids play. You know, like usual. When Jan started saying how perfect I am. I did a horrible job acting human. We are going to have to leave as soon as possible.”

“We have another ten years left on Earth.”

“They are going to find us out! I can’t do this, Teddy.”

“So, you’re under confident about your ability to be a normal mother?”

“Yes. I’m not home yet, but I’ll start packing.”

“Cindy, I think you’re more human than you think.”

The Keeper

by Angela Kempe

The Keeper struck her spear hard against the rocks three times, lifting her magic compass into the sky as the hot waves crashed against the cliffside. The old wise mystic gazed out at the ocean seething and blustering before her, and gave thanks to the three moons of Roon which stood like giant jewels in the sky and to the great planet of Vela whose gravitational pull kept their moon in place.

The wind blew through her long gray hair as she stood on that high mountaintop. Roon’s highest peak; a sacred memorial to the days long passed which had since dried and cracked and succumbed to the raging sea. It was a world ruined by the greed and hatred of her people.

In the distance, she could see Vela’s hot gases collecting into a white halo around the planet. And she could just make out Roon’s twin cities floating in the water in a hazy fog. Those cities, bustling with life that were the last civilization of Roon, incased in bubbles of Methiesium to protect them from the harsh storms that daily ravaged the city walls.

The Keeper recalled her youth five hundred years before, when the land had once sprawled out in endless waves of lush rippling mountains. It seemed that only yesterday, her people inhabited the green hills in numbers as sundry as the stars. But now, standing on the sacred mountain was a testament to itself; the highest and most holy act of courage which could only be performed by the holy Keeper.

She lift her head up to the sky and muttered her prayer to the universe:

As they feel the wind, may they remember God.

As they take a step, may they remember home.

As they look upon the world, may they dream of their future.

As they listen to life, may they hear their children.

And may they never diminish the power of the universe to restore its balance,

When balance does not bend to our whim.

It is the prayer of this Keeper that they listen,

To the dust,

To the wind,

To life,

To the world,

And that they may make peace.

Then, the Keeper closed her eyes and found quiet in her own soul.

And in her silence she heard the soft murmuring of a song.

The Light Beings

by Angela Kempe

“How are you today, MD?

Medora shifted in her seat and looked down at her steel handcuffs. She liked stretching them apart and feeling the cool edges on her wrists. The chain rattled as it clanked on her chair when she lifted them.

“Good,” she said, quietly.

“And how are the new doses? It looks as though you’ve been on 50 mg now for two weeks. Is there any difference?”

Medora peered over her shoulder at the door. A nurse was passing by in the hallway.

“MD?”

“Uh…”

She turned back towards her.

“MD? Have you had any visitors this week?”

The doctor turned down towards her clipboard. She clicked her pen open and scribbled a few notes.

PATIENT SEEMS DISTRACTED TODAY

“Uh, yes,” she answered, looking back down at her handcuffs, squeezing her fingers into  clinched fists.

“I want to tell you, MD, that we have checked the video camera footage and no one has entered your room this passed week. I’m sorry, but there is no one visiting you.”

Medora looked up. Her eyes were wide.

“That’s because they are speaking to me in my head!”

“How many times have you heard these voices in your head?”

The doctor poised herself to jot her answer down quickly.

“Every night they speak to me. In the late hours. They will come for me soon. Like they came for my sister.”

“Now, MD.”

The doctor put her pen down and looked up at Medora through her glasses.

“You have already been charged in court for that crime. I thought we had already decided last month that you were going to tell us where you hid the body.”

“Yes, but…”

“Part of you getting out of this facility is by coming to terms with what you did. Now MD, let’s think about it. What happened to your sister? Really.”

Medora stared back at the doctor. Her eyes were penetrating.

“The body is on the third planet from earth.”

The doctor stood up, tossing her clipboard on her desk.

“I think we’ve had enough for today.”

She struck the intercom with her palm.

“You can come get her now.”

It was a routine day at the mental ward and a fairly uneventful night. There had been only one outburst from a Schizophrenic and a squabble at dinner between two patients with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Then, at about 3:20am, Dr. Rutherford received a phone call. She rushed down to the ward to find that MD had escaped. The guards had found her empty bed during a routine room check with the handcuffs still locked shut.

Dr. Rutherford looked around the room for clues, then sat on the bed.

“Did you check the video footage?”

“I think you’d better see this for yourself,” said a guard, poking his head through the doorway.

Dr. Rutherford walked with them into the security room and the guard played the footage. As Dr. Rutherford watched, her face turned white and her mouth opened. Her hands began shaking and so she steadied them by gripping her pants.

The entire room was lit up like the sun, but she could still see Medora through the light reaching her hands up to the beings as they freed her. And she could almost make out the fluttering of wings in the light and the soft feathery hair that hovered around their bright faces like halos.

She could see Medora smiling as she looked straight at the video camera. She seemed to be looking right at the doctor.

Dr. Rutherford gasped in fright.

Then, the room became empty and the light was gone. So was Medora.

The doctor leaned her body on the security console and closed her eyes.

“Who has seen this?”

“Just us, Ma’am.”

“Delete it.”

The Copernicus Belt

By Angela Kempe

Amy clenched her seatbelt as the space shuttle accelerated into the Copernicus Belt.

“Why don’t you slow down a little?”

She closed her eyes and focused on her breathing. Focused on easing the tension in her face so that her migraine wouldn’t overwhelm her.

“Just trying to make good time,” he said, swerving between the giant rocks.

Amy was sure she’d be sick. Maybe she’d faint. She wasn’t sure which one would happen first, the fainting or the vomiting from the pain in her head. If only he knew how much she hated his flying. Didn’t he know? Wasn’t he at all concerned that your chance of getting into an accident near the Copernicus Belt was one accident per five years?

Still, the space shuttle whisked between astroids. One of the astroids near her window grew in size until it became frighteningly close and she thought it would hit her, so she closed her eyes and succumbed to feeling her body sway left and right. She tried to center herself in her seat. She tried to imagine she was somewhere else to give her a few more moments before she passed out from fear.

“You’re not even trying to slow down!”

“But we’re getting there so fast! Okay, fine. I’ll slow down.”

Her husband slowed the shuttle down to 12 speed and a few other space shuttles blasted passed them.

Amy was satisfied for the moment, but before she could smooth out her space suit, her husband sighed and accelerated again.

She knew she had a problem with space flight. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply as he weaved between rocks. But Amy was tired of being scared. Flying to their Mom’s planet was becoming a real problem. She decided to force her eyes open and try enjoying the ride a little. Anyway, after eleven years of marriage maybe she could trust her husband and his driving.

Her body clinched under the pressure of the speed as she urged her eyes open.

Open your eyes dammit and enjoy this! 

Then, suddenly she saw it.

Oh, the irony of being right. But, at least her headache was gone.