This Life

 

By Angela Kempe

 

The rain keeps falling

The wind is gonna blow

The sun keeps shining

And you won’t even know

 

The moon keeps phasing

like the ocean tide

While you stand there waiting

Till all the leaves have dried

 

While you get older

Another soul is born

Someone is celebrating

But go ahead and mourn

 

Children want what you have

But you want childhood back

While everything is white

All you focus on is black

 

Somebody’s leaving

And somebody’s come

And when you think that you’re smart

You find out that you’re dumb

 

They want what you have

And you want some more

Maybe instead of sulking

You should be grateful for

This life

 

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The Woman and the Doorknob

by Angela Kempe

Sarah stared at the doorknob. Would today be the day? She touched the cool brass surface of the round knob.

“No. No. No,” she repeated, turning away.

Sarah hastened past stacks of dusty newspapers and books lining the hallway like thick wallpaper. She stopped at her living room and gazed out at her TV. The coffee table, cluttered with medicine and empty chip bags. Accumulated empty soda cans, contorted and tossed about. Her cat, Olive, napping on the love seat, nestled in a mound of blanket folds.

She walked over to her cat and sat next to her beloved mound of black fur.

“Wish I was you,” she said, stroking the soft fur behind her ears.

The cat stretched and rolled onto her sleek back, engine cooing softly.

“Well, someone has to get the groceries!”

Sarah was suddenly consumed with terror.

She stood up.

“It’s just a door. It’s just a door. It’s just a door,” she chanted as she made her way back to the doorknob.

She placed her hand on the metal and let her palm feel the iciness until it began turning red and hot. Then she clutched it to her chest and let her left hand nurse the other.

“It’s just a door,” she muttered under her breath.

Sarah’s body felt like liquid. Her blood had drained out of her face and gone out of her shoes. Taking a deep breath, she struggled to move her feet.

“It’s just a door,” she said closing her eyes and grasping the doorknob.

At once she opened it and hurried through the threshold, squinting in the brightness. Then, the light settled and the alien forms began to take shape in front of her. Forest green long necks walking along the promenade in large straw hats embellished with exotic blue flowers. Thick green lizard ones striding hurriedly on all fours, donning black bow ties.

Sarah nervously felt for the folds of her stomach. A beaked feathered snake, sliding on the very end of his tail stared horridly at her and then slithered away. She lift her head to the snowy mountain range that lay like a picture in the distance. The world was a vast icy place.The sky tinged with purple, and three moons sitting like a Garnithuan’s eyes staring down at her.

Then, she walked herself to the store.

 

 

 

 

 

The Cenote

by Angela Kempe

My knee cried as I bent my leg to ascend one more step. I shuttered at a sharp pain on my right ankle as it bared the heavy weight of my body. Standing there, I silently stared up at the stone stairs while a few local children raced ahead of me. As the Yucatan sun blazed down on my lightly sunburned shoulders, I squeezed my eyes shut tightly and inhaled a thick wet breath. This was something I must do.

“Grandma, are you sure you want to do this?”

It was Jenny’s smooth voice standing behind me and it was a rhetorical question. All of the arguments about this had been done and repeated at home. I came to Jenny as a last resort when my daughter threatened to take me that very day to the Saint Mary’s Home for Senior Citizens.

“Cancer is a serious disease, Mother,” my daughter Vanessa had told me. “It’s not just cancer, but stage 4. You should live out what you can with your family. Not go on some vacation or stupid suicide mission!”

I had left a note for her on the kitchen table propped up between the napkins and the salt and pepper shakers. And I hoped that one day she’d understand why I took out the rest of my 401K to purchase the plane tickets and resort reservations. If this was my last trip, I intended to be completely pampered. And if I made it out of the cenote alive, I’d have a lot of money to give away before I returned home.

“Come along, Jenny,” I told her, ascending the steps. “I’m not getting any younger.”

As we climbed the steep stairs, I gazed apprehensively at the deep teal pool. Ik Kil is forty meters deep and no one has ever hit their head on the bottom while diving from the top. It was once used by the Mayans for sacrifices and some believed it was the gate to the afterlife.

“Hola, señora. Creo que eres demasiado viejo para esta salto.”

The man was heavy set, sitting beside the cliff drop. He was wearing a t-shirt and some swimming trunks.

“Sorry. Uh- Lo siento. I don’t speak..”

“Lady, too old!”

“No.”

“Cannot jump. Too high.”

Jenny started arguing with the man. She knew a little Spanish and was speaking it broken and with an audible American accent. I just stared out at the deep sinkhole. It was horrifying to gaze over the ledge. But, everyone at the bottom was so peaceful and perfect. Another woman dove in when she realized we weren’t going to jump. The line started moving again beside us.

My toes buried themselves in the cool soil. The tree roots dangled down over the ledge like thousands of long ropes.

Twenty-six meters. Either do it or don’t, but you’re still going to die.

I turned away from the edge of the cenote. The man looked at me and gave up a satisfied grumble. Jenny was about to turn away when she caught my eyes and knew.

As I fell, I felt a deep contentment. My white hair floated above my ears and a calm smile spread over my face. I pressed my fingers together and rolled my body into a ball. Flipping, flipping. I used to be a professional diver you know. And for that one moment I was again.

 

Dedicated to my mom, who dove into the cenote.

The Party

by Angela Kempe

 

Latex balloons taped to white painted walls

Chips in red bowls and toothpicks in meatballs

Twisting and dipping pink crepe paper streamers

Strangely shaped packages inspiring toy dreamers

Bundles of freshly filled foil balloons

Floating up to the ceiling, but aimed for the moon

A centerpiece bursting like bright fireflies

And one child waiting with eager brown eyes

The Spiderlings

by Angela Kempe

Dear Diary,

I told you before that I really wanted a pet alien spider. They call them “Spiderlings.” My friend Veronica brought one to school and she was the most popular girl at lunch. But, my mom doesn’t want me to get one because they cost too much money. She told me that if I want one then I have to clean up the dog’s mess for one month. Well, it’s been twenty-three days and I’m poo’d out! I didn’t know our fluffy dog, Sammy, had that much poo in him. I think he needs to go on a diet for sure.

Anyway, by the time the month is over, I will be the only one left in class that didn’t get one! Mom doesn’t even care. She said I don’t have to worry. Even though they found the Spiderlings on Mars, they’ve been reproducing them in captivity and there are enough to go around for every house to have one. In fact, they said that by Christmastime next month there should be one Spiderling for every American house!

Well, something happened after school today. I was taking the bus home, when all of the sudden every car on the whole entire street just stopped! Out of nowhere. And a few people on the bus stopped moving entirely. We all started shouting at the bus driver, but he didn’t respond. He was like in this coma or something. Then, a girl in my class started crying and then a bunch of people started leaving. I was like the only one left at the back of the bus. Because I’m dorky and always follow directions. I was waiting for the bus driver to come to, when the bus driver let out this big moan, rolled back his eyes, and just left the bus in the middle of the street!

When I got out of the bus, I could see him and a bunch of other people wandering around like ZOMBIES! People started screaming, so I started running. I ran straight home and locked myself in my room. I was trying to think about what was going on. Why was this happening? Well, I started thinking and I think it had something to do with those Spiderlings. The kids that became Zombies were the ones that had brought their Spiderlings to school in their backpacks. I’ve been hiding in my room ever since and thought that maybe I should just write one last entry in my diary. You know, just incase we all die tonight. I can’t wait for my mom to get home. I’m so scared!

Hold on, I think she’s home…

Oh, no. I can hear her in the kitchen. She just said, “Aria! I brought something home for you. It’s an early surprise!”

I guess this is it. Bye Diary…

Aria

*Inspired by theprose.com challenge to write a diary entry about the first day of a zombie apocalypse.

We Are All Broken

by Angela Kempe

We are all broken,

Like the cake that was smashed,

Still hot from the oven,

But to the floor crashed.

We are all broken,

Like ornaments shattered,

When that cat got tangled,

And we lost what had mattered.

We are all broken,

Like ceramic cracked vases,

With carefully glued edges,

That fill dusty spaces.

We are all broken,

Our bones stiffly creaking,

Like the boards of a staircase,

moaning and speaking.

We are all broken,

Like rocking chairs crippled,

By memories flowing,

From an old women, whittled.

We are all broken,

Make no mistake,

For if we can live,

Then we can break.

 

Inspired by Prose Challenge week #49 at theprose.com #ProseChallenge #getlit #itslit

The Soldier

by Angela Kempe

He stood in the motor pool hallway facing a large topographic map haphazardly tacked to the wall. He focused on the contour lines, then let his eyes pass between the greens and browns, blurring into a haze.

Why am I here?

Shear terror paralyzed him. He listened to the others walking along the hallway.

Where am I?

He was afraid to cast away his gaze. He might lose himself completely to his panic. He could feel his heart pounding inside his chest. He was lost in another man’s world.

Okay. Just breathe. You know that you are supposed to be here. What am I doing? Who am I?

He let his chest fill with cold air and then expelled it slowly through his mouth.

The map. The map had words on it.

He lifted his hand to the worn laminate surface of the map and pressed his fingertips against the black word WIESBADEN.

“Wiesbaden,” he said under his breath.

He searched the relief for other clues. The map was cracked and bent at the edges. But he couldn’t recognize the places. Then, he looked at the camouflaged green of his sleeve and something came to him.

I’m a soldier. I live in Germany.

His mind stretched for the memories.

Breathe.

His head hurt and he was nauseated by fear. Trying to calm himself, he inhaled again, slowly. Then slowly exhaled.

I’m a soldier. Oh yeah. I have a family.

The memories came flooding back to him. He looked around cautiously. Two soldiers were passing him and they were laughing, so he bent his head towards the ground, unsure if they had noticed him. Suddenly, the stress of his job came back. He remembered what his orders were, stood tall, and straightened up his uniform. After all, it was just another day at work when you’re a soldier with a TBI.

*Dedicated to my husband, who suffers daily from his TBI, but still has the courage to get up everyday and fight for our country.