Payment Failed

This 100 word micro-fiction story was a submission to the NYC Midnight writing contest. The prompts were as followed: genre: horror, action: making a down payment, needed word: piece.

Unfortunately the story didn’t rank in the winning top fifteen, but it still felt worthy of being read.

A funny bit of information about myself: I grew up loving horror (Stephen King for example), and any media that had a surreal, supernatural, or unexplainable plot (House of Leaves/Mark Z. Danielewski for example). These days, I find myself mostly avoiding reading horror (though House of Leaves remains my favorite book) and practically never writing it. With that being said, I felt pretty good about the end product, even if it pushed me outside of my comfort zone with the genre and content I wrote. With that, below is “Payment Failed.”

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Years ago, at Dominion’s Conception Superstore, we sold our innocence to afford the down payment we made on Ayanna’s life subscription.

Today, Dominion returned with a gavel-like knocking as Ayanna played blissfully in the garden.

Their associate beamed. “Good day. I’m Reaper. I’m here to repossess the child due to subscription payment failure.”

“Please. No.”

“Request denied. Payment failure limit reached.”

I hadn’t heard Ayanna come inside. She handed me a Chrysanthemum. Reaper smiled down at her.

“Excellent. She will be recycled piece by piece to fuel our workers.” As they departed, he yelled: “Please remember to rate your purchase!”

The Last Tattoo

    Grandpa lay in the bed, and said: “I think I would like a tattoo. I never got one before and I think now might be a good time.”

     His son sighed.  “Dad, your skin can’t handle it. It’ll bleed a lot. I’m sorry.”

     “Oh,” Jack said, slapping his gums together like in a movie, “well, isn’t that a shame. “

     At that moment, grandpa looked from his son to his grandson. He smiled at Jamie, and Jamie ran out of the room with his little flashing sneakers.

     Everyone sat there, on their phones, or swirling the couch fabric with their fingers, or looking at Grandpa with a pity so overwhelming it felt like they’d be sick; a sickness of being unable to help.

     Jamie had been the only one to be with Grandpa. To look into him.

     But Jamie was gone now, and with him, any comfort that Grandpa was grateful for.

     Now phosphorescence lit faces instead of smiles.

   Now touches were given to dusty books or pictures instead of needful hands.

     Words that screamed to be spoken were silenced by fear and embarrassment and uncertainty.

     Palpable tension strained the air as if it were an overtightened string on a guitar. It held like that for a few agonizing minutes until the instant Jamie slammed back through the door. A collective sigh rushed through the room and everyone stopped distracting themsleves with distancing themselves.

     Jamie held one thing in each of his hands.

     In his right hand was a wet wash cloth.

     In his left hand was what looked to be a small picture on a piece of paper.

     “I’m glad you came back, Jamie.” Grandpa’s crow’s feet crinkled near his eyes and pulled his cheeks up into a smile.

     Jamie placed the small picture facedown on the back of Grandpa’s hands and then set the cool cloth down on top of it. Then Jamie began counting.

     After thirty-two seconds, Jamie lifted the wash cloth away and peeled back the wet paper that clung to grandpa’s hand.

     “I was always going to come back, Grandpa. I’ll be here.”

     Grandpa lifted his hand and looked at the back of it. Tattood there, just permanently enough, was Superman. With his cape whipping behind him, fist outstretched as if it was guiding the rest of his body, and the grand crimson S saying that help was on the way, Superman flew across Grandpa’s weathered and unconquered hand.

      Grandpa admired it silently.

     “Thank you, Jamie. I think I’ll go now.”

      Jamie’s face quivered. He waved, as if Grandpa was just getting on a bus to go to town.

     Grandpa waved back. Then Grandpa closed his eyes.

You’re always creating

Have you ever caught yourself thinking: “I’ve never done anything with my life. I’ve never made anything, or changed anyone, or done something with myself.” Well, I believe that’s false. I believe you and I have both created more things than we can possibly imagine.

Look at this picture. My two year old son drew it. While it may not be a Van Gogh, -in this universe- it’s a creation. He has made something out if nothing. The colors own the space where nothing was before; they weren’t put there of their own will. Every centimeter he carried that marker he was creating a new picture, it was changing and becoming something new, millisecond by millisecond. He made that and he created something. Because of the joy I’m sure that the creating brought him, he was creating happiness in the world. It was his own, sure, but it was new and previously untapped potential happiness. When I saw the picture, it brought me joy. He probably would’ve liked me to see it and to praise him for it, or he may not have thought that at all. Regardless of his intentions he had affected my life in a positive way.

If you ever catch yourself thinking “I’ve never made anything, or changed anyone, or done anything to matter.” Take a step back and think about all the imperceptible things we help happen. Think of the butterfly effect, but in a more tangible realistic way. Imagine how your actions, (though you may not have known at the time) helped better someone’s day, or even maybe save their life.

Just because you can’t see the thing you created doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Just because it isn’t affecting your life, doesn’t mean it isn’t positively affecting someone else’s.

I’m sure the same could be said for negative things and how imperceptible side-effects of those hurtful actions may not have harmed the actor, but did harm the person two doors down from them. We could talk about that, but this time, let’s focus on the good. Let’s enjoy the tangle of colorful joy that we let flow from our actions onto the paper of our lives, and from there onto the table under the paper that makes up the lives around us. Let’s dump out all the markers and get to work.