#27 – The Windows

holes in windows

My father manufactured twist ties. Great sheets of steel wire rolled on a conveyor belt, were painted with hot plastic, cooled, then set, and finally sliced toothpick-thin lengthwise, then across. The ties were dumped into cardboard boxes and shipped out according to weight, not content, which always seemed unfair to me. That someone should receive less twist ties than someone else, and randomly, said so much about life.
We were put out of business by hand-held twist tie machines, which contained a spool of ties that passed through a cutter operated by a trigger. Ties could be made as long or short as necessary, and spools were inexpensive. We couldn’t convert the production of sheets into spools, and the equipment to refurbish the factory was too expensive. The business went under. Bread makers everywhere owned their own twist tie guns and effectively pulled the trigger on my father’s life’s work.
When I was very little he would gift me twist ties, and I would weave them into my hair and twist them under braids. They left light, ghost-white scratches in my palms as they passed from his hands to mine, their edges sharp and unyielding as they cross-hatched to form a multicolor bird’s nest in my cupped hands.
The factory fell into disarray at about the same speed as my father, and we finally sold it after he died.
I noticed the windows shortly after. New equipment was being moved in and I went to watch the last of my father’s legacy slowly trickle away. The eyes of the factory were composed of a series of large, square windows–four stories-worth of twelve windows that ran lengthwise across the face of the building. Within those sets were twenty-four smaller square windows, making each like the head of a fly. Post-depression era windows, they didn’t open and offered a fractured, distilled light inside the factory. You could almost play a very boring hopscotch game from the light offered by the lowest level of windows, if the time of day was right.
The old equipment was moved out and new equipment moved in, and with each day, a single small window inside a set of twenty-four was broken. Holes the size of a baseball appeared in each of the twenty four windows, and each hole was identical, as if the windows themselves had been pushed out of some window-breaking factory and set into the facade overnight. Months passed and the factory became something of an urban legend. The windows were an impossibility; that much was clear. No bored child could have reproduced the same hole in every window. Replacing a window only resulted in the new window being broken, and eventually the owners gave up on replacing them.

After three years, there were one thousand, one hundred and fifty-two broken windows on the front of the factory. The owners never opened. A thousand lonely eyes, their pupils sharpened to a singular, repeating point, looked out menacingly on our town.

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Friday Fictioneers (03.22.13; 100-word limit)

©Douglas M Macllroy

©Douglas M Macllroy

In rolling heat, under a bleached bone sky, all you have is your horse. Guns quickly shed their bullets on dog soldiers, canteens run dry, but even a scrub should stick with you ’til the end.
They said he was a widowmaker, but I was ridin’ crowbait–I had no choice. His head was milk-dipped, a strong blaze runnin’ from ear to muzzle. A six-shooter snuffy, quick to slat his sails and leave me dusted. Not fit for ridin’.

I woke up to hot breath and a heavy hoof on my chest, hell-fired, coal-black eyes starin’ into me. Shoulda known better.

Friday Fictioneers (03.15.13; 100-word limit)

©Lora Mitchell

©Lora Mitchell

He leaves lilies. White stargazer lilies. An afterthought, a pure fingerprint on a grisly, horrid scene.

I watched the news to learn the women’s names, as if they pieced a puzzle that could be solved. Notebooks filled with scribbled writing and folders of torn newspapers, amounting to nothing.

The lilies haunted me. Earthly cousins to ethereal Milky Way, grounded stars, faces turned to heaven. Outcast from the Kingdom.

Everyone thinks he places them afterwards. But I opened my door to find them staring at me, necks craned upward in a silent dirge. Condolence for my loss, as I attend my own funeral.

Friday Fictioneers (100-word limit; 03.08.13)

©Jennifer Pendergast

©Jennifer Pendergast

I pushed her.

No one thought anything of it—they assumed she fell.

How many times had we counted those steps? She took the odd numbers; I, the even. I had fewer steps. She always came out ahead.

I often stayed at the base while she peered over the edge from the top. The stairs spiraled inward, upward, like a nautilus. My own face stared down at me, smiling. I never looked down on her, never had that vantage.

Just the one time. I couldn’t see her face. Only the tangle of hair and limbs and blood, like rough red algae washed ashore.

Friday Fictioneers (03.01.13; 100-word limit)

sure it runs

Copyright Beth Carter

It ran once before it died.

I built it out of anything I could find: an old toaster, grocery carts, poolside cushions, abandoned tires. I fastened my father’s watch behind the wheel to measure how far I went. I’m not sure why I bothered; it’s clear a digital watch is required.

I don’t know exactly where I am. Women wear petticoats, and sewage lines the roughly hewn streets. It’s America, but I’m not sure when.

The components I need to get home don’t exist. I forgot about that. Is that odd?

I’m going to die here. I feel like I just started living.