Valentine’s Day Writing Prompt

Valentine’s Day
Writing Prompt

A Binary Fantasy

By Boris Glikman

It is February 14, Valentine’s Day. Couples around the world are celebrating their love for one another, while I am all by myself, wondering if I ever will understand the true meaning of love, if love will ever possess my being in its totality.

And it is then that a binary star system, locked in an eons-long dance, twirls down from the sky into my front yard. Even in their dying moments they can’t bear to be parted and are continuing the cosmic tango.

Faint strains of “Pas de deux” float from someone’s window. I have always found this music so poignantly tragic, suffused with inconsolable sorrow. Only now is it clear to me what tragedy it was presaging.

The celestial romance of a billion years, that mocks and trivializes all earthly declarations of eternal love, is coming to an end. If you combined the love of all the couples in the world on this special day, it would be but an infinitesimal iota of the passion these two stars have for one another. So attuned have they become to each other’s needs and desires that the slightest change in the mood of one is instantly felt and responded to by the other, even when separated by boundless oceans of emptiness.

I realize how futile human love is; so transitory, fickle, arbitrary, erratic, obeying no law of Man or Nature, following unknown, nay, unknowable rules, stubbornly moving along its own inflexible course.

I am convinced that I am destined to be forever alone, for we all pass each other momentarily, then continue along our divergent paths. The most I can hope for is fleeting contact, a feeble reflection of that cosmic tango, with another being.

Now I finally understand the true meaning of love: it has no meaning at all.

Sometimes

By Donald Harry Roberts

Tanya Zelinsky finished the romance novel she had just bought. The cover and the title inspired the purchase. Then she closed the book and with a long sad whisper she said, “It never happens that way.”

She went to bed.

Light from the street lamp caused shadows to dance across the bedroom ceiling. Tanya was amused that the images, dancing shadows reminisced the characters still vivid in her mind from the closing paragraphs of the novel. She was watching them whirl and swirl when her eyes closed, it seemed, on their own.

Now it was not just shadows dancing on the ceiling. They had taken form and it was her, and Mark in a graceful, magical ballet. But then, even as it was growing into the perfection of heart-born love the scene changed and her soldier boy disappeared into the mist at the edge of a dream, away to some forsaken place shrouded in uncertainty.

Now Tanya, dressed for a gala without joy, danced alone among a garden of roses. A single tear trickled down her cheek.

The click of a door latch woke her. She opened her eyes slowly to find the silhouette of her soldier boy standing in the door way.

“A dream. No. He’s is real.” Tanya whispered as she climbed out of bed and ran into his waiting arms.

Mark put his finger to her chin and lifted her head so that their eyes met. In a soft wistful voice he said, “Tanya. My Sweet Valentine.” Then he kissed her with a warmth she knew would never end.

At last she pulled away only an inch, and said joyfully, “But sometimes it does happen that way.” And they kissed the kiss only true hearts can know.

A Desert Storm Valentine’s Day

Elizabeth M. Vansyckle

During the 1991 Desert Storm war I was stationed in Germany at an Army hospital. Trained for front line surgical nursing and then being placed in a totally different nursing situation was a trial of anxiety and unending stress.

There was, also adding to the misery, day after day of cold and snow like this Texas girl had never seen before. I don’t think we saw the sun the entire time I was there.

I took to walking everywhere to ease the anxiety and fill the time that otherwise would have been nothing but work and endless worry for my son. I missed him and the rest of my family beyond words.

In 1991, we had no cell phones, no face to face calling, no email. We rarely received letters or phone calls.

On Valentine’s Day, I walked from one base to another across town. At the entry gate I stopped and unbundled enough to show my ID. A young sentry, who was probably about eighteen, looked at my ID and started to cry.

As he saluted me he said, “Captain, may I give you a hug? I miss my mom so much.” I told him of course he could and how much I missed my son.

There in the middle of our war, standing in the snow and dreary cold, we hugged as a mother and son, and shared a few tears wishing for home.

Ivy Becomes a Crone

Ivy Becomes a Crone

By Liz Betz

Wine glasses in hand, they toast the cell phone camera, that the waitress agreed to operate. The moment is worthy for social media.
“I’ll post it now. No time like a…thap.” Michele says.
It’s been a long time since Ivy’s heard that lisp, and she doesn’t remember Ariel’s mole so it might be new. There is a ripening cold sore on Beth’s upper lip. Ivy remembers how the teenaged Beth suffered regular outbreaks. Ivy’s own skin irregularities stopped about the same time as menopause.

Ivy Thompson looks at her friends; older women with their charade of light heartedness. Any traces of their tears or the somber tone at the funeral reception is underground for a moment. She raises the wine glass and drinks deeply and watches the waitress avoid the pat, slap or pinch a male patron aims at her bottom. She mock scolds with a raised finger. Her smile says she’s in favor of tips but there are limits. Stymied of his bit of fun, the man looks over at Ivy’s table to ask ‘who let the dogs out?’
Not dogs or bitches, Ivy wants to say, we are crones. A group of crones is a coven, no, that’s witches. A group of older women is…Ivy pauses… a force. A force about to be unleashed.
She’s the youngest at sixty-three, the little sister not allowed in the gang until after they became adults. All of the women are retired, several widows, one divorcee and one never married. Time on their hands. What else are they willing to have on their hands?

The big screen features helmets and faces and bodies ready to tackle, the volume high for the sport loving patrons. When the quarterback is sacked, the men punch the air and cheer.
In Ivy’s huddle the women talk of Maggie-Mae’s high-school years and the memories, while Ivy concludes that they are the ones to do this. But will the others see it the same as her? Even if she has one ally and the rest turn a blind eye. An involuntary shudder runs down her spine. There’s a lot of risk but surely there is enough love to balance it. They all loved Maggie-Mae. Which means they should all hate the man who drove her to her death, sure as if he’d used a bullet.

Ivy clears her throat. “You know what we should do?”
“Order more wine.” Michele signals the waitress. The background music is louder and the crowd has doubled since the women began their evening. Young people, predominately male, fresh from a rec hockey perhaps, are all tuned into the big screens that dominate the upper corners. It’s hard to talk over the noise. The next thing, Ivy worries, is that the group might call it a night. Tomorrow they will be back in their own lives, trying to forget Maggie-Mae’s suicide.

“What we should do…” Ivy says loud enough that they all look at her. Then she signals them to lean in and listen. “is keep our collective eyes on the bastard.”
None of the women responds although they exchange puzzled looks of disbelief. She has their attention. “He’s active online. Very active. At some point he’ll slip up. Maybe brag to one of our fake profiles, he doesn’t respect women or the law.”
Ivy rushes to her next idea. “Or we could harass him. Use public access computers so the IP address isn’t your own. Each of us take a quota of two or three times a month. See what happens after a year of bullying.”

The women watch the waitress come to their table as they consider the implications. “Bring us a bottle of this.” Ariel says before she takes a huge swallow of her wine.

“This is wrong, Ivy. I know Maggie-Mae had it rough, and maybe she was driven to taking her own life but,” Ariel lowers her voice even more, “you’re talking about cyber-stalking.”
“Technically, yes, but,” Ivy stumbles onward. “I couldn’t make it right for my sister while she was alive. Do you know how often Maggie-Mae filed a complaint? How many times the bastard fooled anyone who tried to intervene? How many times she phoned me, bawling her eyes out?”
Recognition leaps between them. Everyone at the table received those calls.
“But what you’re talking about is criminal.”
“That’s why we have to be careful, but we could do this. Who’s going to make the connection between us? You’re in Toronto, I’m in Saskatoon, Ariel, in Phoenix, Arizona.”
Ivy looks at them; is the idea gaining ground?
“We gather information and turn it over to the police. Anonymously. He’s already taken up with another woman. He’s going to continue.” Ivy chews her lip and takes a deep breath, “Maybe next time it will be your sister.”

The referee on the screen announces the first down; the women are momentarily silent.
“No. Not maybe. Every woman is our sister.” Strong true words.
Ivy clasps her hand over her face to stifle a sob.
“We could break him. Teach him the power of women.” A crone call to arms.
Then the bar explodes with cheers. The TV cameras pan the crowded stadium as the underdog team celebrates a touchdown.

Liz Betz is a retired rancher who loves to write fiction. Her pastime seems to help her days go by, her brain to stay active and sometimes keeps her out of trouble. An overactive imagination is a wonderful thing to harness, but left alone…Her publication credits are many and varied as she explores the fictional world of mostly somewhat older but not necessarily mature characters.

THE DAY INTERNET DIED

Andy7 image
Andy7 image

It was widely known that Internet had been ailing for some time. Its poor health had made it rather slipshod in the execution of its duties. Some had to endure days of frustration until an online connection was established, while for others the connection kept going on and off every second, like a flickering light globe.

For a while Internet hovered in a half-dead condition, with one foot in the grave, and mankind held its breath, fearing Internet would continue to deteriorate and then give up the ghost altogether.

And then the day came when Internet breathed its last and no one could believe their ill fortune. It was hard to grasp that Internet no longer dwelled in the world, and that the burden of living would never again be lightened with the ever-present alternative of escaping into an online existence. No longer would anyone be privileged with the luxury of having two worlds to live in.

The most eminent computer technicians of the land were assigned the task of performing the autopsy. Their unanimous conclusion was that Internet had died of virtual causes. What no one had suspected was that the Internet possessed a finite life span. Everyone had always assumed it would be around forever, yet it too carried within itself the lethal seeds of eternal offline-ness.

The next most pressing issue was the burial. Issues never considered before needed to be urgently addressed, for the sight of lifeless Internet lying prostrate on the ground was too heartbreaking for the world to take. Where should the funeral ceremony be held? In which language or computer code should the memorial service be conducted? Who should give the eulogy? Where to entomb it?

The matter of whom to invite to the service proved to be the most intractable issue of all. A certain number of tickets were reserved for those most deeply affected by Internet’s death—online pornography addicts, social misfits, ingrained introverts, Twitter-obsessed celebrities, the heirs of Nigerian princes and long-term residents in Second Life’s virtual world. Otherwise, it was nearly impossible to determine who was genuinely grief-stricken and who only wanted to attend the ceremony so as to be a part of this historic occasion.

Eventually, all of these matters were resolved, although not to everyone’s satisfaction, and the world gave Internet the sending off it deserved. Straight after the funeral, the world went into a shutdown, mourning Internet’s passing and remembering wistfully how it could answer any question; satisfy all emotional, mental, spiritual, intellectual and bodily needs; thrill the mind and the senses; provide instantaneous information, entertainment, relaxation, gratification and titillation, as well as enabling instant communication with people across the globe, and even cure loneliness. Tragically, given the magnitude and depth of the loss, some could not bear to continue living in a world without Internet and logged out permanently from this world.

Once the unbridled, hysterical wave of grief finally subsided, mankind sobered up and gradually came to realise that Internet had actually debased and disfigured their lives.

They recalled with horror and consternation the way Internet had ensnared people with its myriad tentacles, causing them to waste their lives away in the inextricable morass of the net world; how Googling had supplanted the wisdom that comes with age, experience, learning and how, with instantaneous information always at one’s fingertips, the value of knowledge was lost; the way online reality became the only world and real reality was jilted and forgotten, just like the plain sister of a gorgeous girl; how Internet robbed life of its multifarious richness and beauty and reduced the world to a small, rectangular screen; the way the online world became a prison in which humanity willingly immured itself and then threw away the key, together with their lives.

Mankind now recognised how Internet had fundamentally altered the nature of social relations and the nature of one’s relationship with oneself. Invented to facilitate communication and for bringing the world together, Internet instead became the perfect tool for dissimulation, distorting the truth and separating oneself from the world, thus allowing people to not only misrepresent their true thoughts and feelings, but to falsify their entire lives and the very essence of their being, to others as well as to themselves.

People discovered that fingers were not just for typing and shifting mouses but had other uses too; that out of their torsos there extended a pair of lower limbs which could be used for perambulating across the spatial dimension; that evolution had equipped their bodies with the ideal means of conveying thoughts and feelings; that their faces possessed well-developed muscles which could be employed to signal emotions such as (amongst many others) surprise, annoyance, happiness and frustration. Consequently, successful communication could be achieved without intermediary electronic devices. Most startling of all was the revelation that other people were not identical to their icons—flat and forever stuck in the same pose with the same smile on their faces—rather they were three-dimensional beings, moving about and changing their facial expressions.

Having friends and partners in the physical world meant you were free from the precariousness, uncertainty and unreliability of online friendships and relationships, and no longer subject to the capricious actions and decisions of your web pals, to whom, after all, you were just an ethereal, abstract entity that could be deleted instantly and permanently from their life with just a click of a mouse. Consequently, the constant threat of online friends and lovers inexplicably ceasing all contact and disappearing forever was gone for good.

“Back to Reality” tutorials proved to be very popular and helpful, covering such topics as “Learning How to Single-Task”; “Becoming Acquainted with the Sun and the Sky” and “How to Survive in a World that Cannot be Photoshopped”.

Life slowly regained its meaning as mankind clambered, one small step at a time, out of the online abyss it had dug for itself. Without Internet, no one had to grapple any more with the problem of how to balance one’s life between the two worlds. Time started to flow more slowly; instant gratification was no longer craved; contemplation and patience revealed their true worth. It was now clearly seen that online reality provided only fleeting pseudo-meaning; that emotions felt in the web world were only ephemeral artificial feelings; and that real self-esteem came not from social media popularity, but from within.

Each human being now experienced life directly, rather than through the distorting, diminishing and vicarious lens of a computer screen; facing the good and not-so-good things in their lives without escaping into the net world, and thus evading the reality of their existence; and being true to their inner selves, instead of hiding behind their icons and online identities. Only then was it realised how deeply and intricately Internet had woven its fateful thread into every aspect of man’s existence and how much had been gained the day Internet died.


BORIS GLIKMAN is a writer, poet and philosopher from Melbourne, Australia. His stories, poems and non-fiction articles have been published in various online and print publications, as well as being featured on national radio and other radio programs. He says: “Writing for me is a spiritual activity of the highest degree. Writing gives me the conduit to a world that is unreachable by any other means, a world that is populated by Eternal Truths, Ineffable Questions and Infinite Beauty. It is my hope that these stories of mine will allow the reader to also catch a glimpse of this universe.”

Photo credit: Andy Paciorek


The Day Death Died

The Day Death Died

Fiction

By Boris Glikman

It was widely known that Death had been ailing for some time. Its poor health had made it rather slipshod in the execution of its duties. Whole generations were being taken away in the flower of their youth, while other people were living for an extraordinarily long time – over 400 years in certain cases.

For a while Death hovered in a half-alive condition, with one foot in the grave, and mankind held its breath, fearing Death would rally and make a complete recovery.
And then the day came when Death breathed its last and nobody could believe their good fortune. It was hard to grasp that Death no longer dwelled in the world, and that one’s life would never again be burdened with the ever-present spectre of extinction hovering nearby. No one would have to grapple any more with the problem of incorporating one’s own demise into their lives.

The most eminent pathologists of the land were assigned the task of performing an autopsy on Death. Their unanimous conclusion was that Death died of natural causes. What nobody had suspected was that Death possessed a finite life span. Everyone had always assumed it would live forever, yet it too carried within itself the lethal seeds of mortality.

Credits: Andy Paciorek 

The next most pressing issue was the burial of Death. Issues never considered before needed to be addressed urgently, for the world wanted to be sure Death really was dead and would not rise again. Where should the funeral ceremony be held? According to which religion’s rites should the memorial service be conducted? Who should give the eulogy? Where to entomb it?

The matter of whom to invite to the service proved to be the most intractable issue of all. A certain number of tickets were reserved for those most deeply affected by Death’s passing – morticians, grave diggers, psychotherapists, blues singers, goths and horror film directors. Otherwise, it was nearly impossible to determine who was genuinely grief-stricken and who only wanted to attend the ceremony so as to be a part of this historic occasion.

Eventually, all of these matters were resolved, although not to everyone’s satisfaction, and the world gave Death the sending off it deserved. Straight after the funeral, the world kicked up its heels and celebrated.

When the unbridled, hysterical wave of joy at being liberated from Death’s tyrannical rule had abated, people sobered up and recounted the ways Death had helped out in the past.

They recalled with fondness Death’s unique ability to provide clear-cut and definitive solutions to any inextricable, inflexible or abstruse problem of existence; its unmatched faculty of erasing all pain, shame and misery; the way it was always there to readily and obediently offer its helping hand to anyone who would ask for it and the way in which it brought equality to the world and granted perpetual rest to the weary.
Religions could no longer survive without Death, for their appeal and authority derived from the promise of ideal and everlasting existence in the next world and from their expert knowledge of the nature of the Afterworld. New religions arose, prophesying that one day mortality would return to Earth and the virtuous would be rewarded with Eternal Death.

Mankind recognized how fundamentally it depended upon Death’s existence for the preservation of social order and peaceful international relations. Given that capital punishment and armed conflicts ceased holding any threat to a person’s life, nothing stood in the way of lawlessness and immorality in human affairs, and countries went to war on the slightest pretext.

Life soon lost its meaning, for Death had been needed to provide the contrast that distinguished being from non-being. Without it, existence became unrecognizable, a grey shadow of its former vibrant self, and to be alive was now an unendurable, yet inescapable, fate worse than death.

Each human being was forced to find the strength and the courage to face a baffling future in which the saving grace of demise was no longer present. Only then was it realized how inextricably Death had woven its fateful thread into every aspect of man’s existence and how much had been irremediably lost the day Death died.


BORIS GLIKMAN is a writer, poet and philosopher from Melbourne, Australia. His stories, poems and non-fiction articles have been published in various online and print publications, as well as being featured on national radio and other radio programs. He says: “Writing for me is a spiritual activity of the highest degree. Writing gives me the conduit to a world that is unreachable by any other means, a world that is populated by Eternal Truths, Ineffable Questions and Infinite Beauty. It is my hope that these stories of mine will allow the reader to also catch a glimpse of this universe.”

%d bloggers like this: