He smoked down to the filter. It was the only thing binding the pieces of his mind together; they wanted to split, to flee to the East and the West and the North and the South, to flood out in all directions like a glass of water spilled on a table top. But the breath, the narrow plume of smoke that passed between his lips kept them tethered, contained. Inhale. Pause. Exhale. The tiny circle of cigarette between his second and third finger became the center of the universe, a small sun the burned and glowed with each breath. It fizzled down to the end, the stars burst and died. He reached for the lighter and the pack, its lightness startling him. There was one left.
Prompt via Sara Krueger: He smoked in the dark.
The lines of the alphabet were precise, methodical, exact. There was a rhythm to them, a formula. She liked the way she could use her pencil to make the shapes in the work book come to life on her own page. These letters and the words they made were under her control, not like the things happening just beyond her window. Apple. Bear. A hard one – caterpillar. Each one an orderly little victory. She liked it so much she pressed down hard against the dotted blue lines and she felt the graphite give to the weight of her fingers and snap.
Prompt Via Sara Krueger: Studying was the only time she could lose herself.
Right under the wire he leans in, with soft full lips and Cheshire cat grin, and I feel that old familiar ripping at my center, because he knows just how to wind me up just like a clock. I was almost safe and here he is, circling me, lips curled back and dripping, like I’m prey, like I’m bait, and I like it, I like this feeling, like I’m thisclose to being devoured, even though I know what comes after is never pleasant.
Because I like it so much I stand there on the threshold letting him get so close. I taste what is familiar, and the hairs on the back of my neck rise up in anticipation. But I stand there and still I don’t say yes.
Prompt via Sara Krueger: Private conversations …