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This Strange Game of Hide-and-Seek

April 9, 2010

After concentrating on visual poetry, it’s nice to be back for #fridayflash. I missed it! ~~

The scream startles then paralyzes. Once again I hang, suspended, between a land of blue, blue skies filled with purple-winged, full-cheeked red dragons, and—gray. A never-ending blanketing gray, worse than the fog that rolls into the channel in the evenings, turning people into buoys.

I watch them through the closet door’s cracks.

“Tommy, we checked every inch of this room before you went to bed.”

Tommy’s face is wet, swollen, red. It resembles the munchkin-faced children the dragons eat.

“He’s here. I know it. He’s in the closet.” Tommy’s voice is hoarse. His mom walks over. I crouch, making myself smaller and smaller, until I fit under a pile of last season’s baseball socks.

(I’ve gotten used to the smell.)

“There’s nothing here, Tommy.” Her eyes are circled brown, puffy as Tommy’s face. She sighs. “Tommy, you know you’re welcome to sleep in our room.”

He refuses. “I won’t let him be alone.”

“Tommy, try to go back to sleep.”

When she’s gone, he tentatively walks to the closet and opens the door. Try as I might, I cannot will myself bigger and he never looks under the dirty socks.

I drift off again. Tommy is sleeping, a quiet snore like a purr caressing my ears.

It’s gray, with wisps of white swirling in the distance. I can’t see my hands, but I can see Tommy’s back in front of me. We’re lost. He paddles and sings: “Hush little baby, don’t say a word…Mama’s gonna buy you a mocking bird…”

Ahead is a channel marker, a familiar red buoy. Tommy furrows his brow. “But this isn’t—”

The shock of cold wetness steals my breath. I paddle frantically, reaching for the overturned boat, but water runs like air through my fingers.

Beside me, Tommy is drowning.

Snatches of red from the channel marker invade my vision.

I spread my wings and open my jaws wide.


Pillow marks line his face. He stares straight at the door, his eyes meeting mine through the cracks.

He opens the door, but suddenly I am inexplicably small, under the dirty socks once again. He stares, looks confused, walks away.

Please, anything—a scream—rather than this.

He’s back, with a hamper. Bends down and begins to pick each sock up, one at a time. He finds me under the very last one.

“How did you find me?” I ask.

“I went searching with a red dragon in the fog,” he said.

26 Comments leave one →
  1. Deanna Schrayer permalink
    April 9, 2010 9:41 am

    Love, love, love the imagery here Melissa. It’s easy to tell you’ve been working on poetry – the prose in that first paragraph shines through. A great and chilling read!

  2. April 9, 2010 9:45 am

    Ah, so you took your visual poetry skills and applied them to words!

    Dreamy, lyrical, magical. Love the last sentence, and the picture!

    • April 9, 2010 8:20 pm

      Maybe all that right brain activity did something. 😉 Thanks, Marisa. I’m glad you liked the last sentence. For me it ties it all together.

  3. April 9, 2010 9:46 am

    This is surreal, drifting between realities, beautiful imagery!

  4. April 9, 2010 9:47 am

    Killer first line. I loved how visual this was start to finish.

  5. April 9, 2010 11:16 am

    Can really picture that dragon! Think these two could have a lot of adventures together…

  6. April 9, 2010 11:45 am

    This is speculative week on friday flash! you delivered an amazing story. I love that the monster in the closet isn’t the monster, but the protector.
    Sweet story.

    • April 10, 2010 8:54 am

      Thank you! I liked playing around with the idea of what or who the monster in the closet is. 🙂

  7. April 9, 2010 3:59 pm

    A visual surreal landscape touching in and out of an open story. There’s enough to guide the reader and plenty more for imagination and wonder. I like a story that gives something to think about. I may need to take another peek inside my closet.

    • April 10, 2010 8:56 am

      haha! I think we probably all have to peek into our closets time to time. 🙂 I’m glad it gave you enough so it wasn’t too frustrating or confusing. I like leaving things open so the reader can play.

  8. April 9, 2010 9:54 pm

    I really like the last sentence too – so matter of fact, for a boy.

  9. April 10, 2010 11:34 am

    Oh, this is wonderful! Very poetic and visual. And so very little-boy. I love his tiny protector.

    • April 11, 2010 4:08 pm

      Thank you! I’m glad it was convincing as a little boy’s world. I had worried about that just a little. 🙂

  10. April 11, 2010 8:20 am

    I love the ethereal world you create. The photo is also a wonderful companion to the piece.

    • April 11, 2010 4:09 pm

      Thank you! I’m drawn to those kinds of worlds, so I guess I end up trying to create them! Thanks about the photo. Took me a while to find it…

  11. G.P. Ching permalink
    April 12, 2010 8:51 pm

    Hey you’re back! I’m so glad you stopped by today because I didn’t realize you had a story up this week. And I am glad I didn’t miss this one. I love the surreal, dream like quality of this story. Yes it’s lyrical which adds an element of interest but there is also something so classically fairy tale about it. It has the feel of “Where the wild things are.” and if you had an illustrator you could make three different stories out of this one just by pairing the words with the right pictures. I loved it. Great work.

    • April 13, 2010 11:30 pm

      Thanks. 🙂 I’m glad to be back. I love the idea of pairing it with illustrations! I wouldn’t have thought of doing that. Thanks for the idea!

  12. April 15, 2010 11:33 am

    people like buoys – what an excellent image!
    Maybe if my closet wasn’t such a mess I’d have a visitor like that 🙂

    • April 16, 2010 9:04 am

      Hmmm….you may have LOTS of little visitors in there…watching you at night…waiting… 😉 Thanks, Mazzz!

  13. Gimbal permalink
    April 21, 2010 10:24 pm




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