Outside the window, the owl sang softly to the mouse, hoping to lure her out into the night. The mouse laughed to herself, hunkering down under a mossy rock and watching the clouds drift across the moon. She chewed on one tiny nail. She groomed the tip of her tail, the soft bit where a few silver hairs grew. The owl tried a different tune. The mouse grew bored. She wondered, if she ran very fast, could she make it to the blackberry bush across the way? Her little hear pitted and patted. Her whiskers twitched. The owl paused its song and the mouse stuck her nose out and sniffed.
It is hot. The sun burns through the sky, not a shred of cloud to block its sizzling rays. Of course all I can do is sit here. That how it is for rocks. No legs, no hands, hell, not even a fin or a sail. Nope, not for a rock. You’ve heard the phrases, you’ve problem said them: dumb as a box of rocks, solid like a rock, stone cold dead. Who wants to be dumb, solid, and dead? Not me.
Not that anyone asked. They never do.
At least last week I was in the grass. That was OK. Cooler, anyway, though kind of scratchy. Then some half-brained kid picks me up – no reason, mind you – and hurls me towards a stop sign. Clang. Yeah, funny. I’m pretty sure I left a dent. I’m probably smeared with red paint, too, though I’ll never know. No eyes, remember? So now I’m stuck here, in the dirt, next to a road, with no cover at all and the sun beating down and every once in a while a car hurtles past, wheels inches from me, washed in exhaust. It’s only a matter of time before someone veers over just a hair and then… wham. Cars are heavy. Trucks are worse. Trust me, I know. You think I was always this small? This smooth? I used to be big, edgy, sharp. I used to tower over people. I used to intimidate. Now I’m just a hunk of granite, hand sized, easy to throw. Easily abandoned on the side of the road.
If I weren’t I rock, I would scream.
The dog sleeps. Or not. She turns on the bed, sighs, and dozes again, dreaming of eternally elusive squirrels. The sun slides across the window, illuminating first the pillow, then the bedspread, then the floor. The dog scratches her ear. She gazes at me with mournful eyes. Wouldn’t I like to play? Take a walk trailing that long red leash? Stand in the dog park idly chatting with strangers while she romps? I do not make eye contact. The dog goes back to sleep. Or not. My fingers dance across the keyboard, words flashing, written, erased, always marching onward to fill a page. She doesn’t notice when the clicking stops. She doesn’t judge when I play solitaire. I stand and she is instantly awake, tail wagging as she trots at my heels. So eager, my shadow. She watches me make lunch with unfounded optimism. She watches me eat it with resignation. The bed awaits her return, the covers rumpled and smelling like dog. The keyboard resumes its erratic clicks. The sun drifts westward. The dog sleeps. Or not.
She sat on the bench eating a sandwich
It tasted like ink with a dusting of apostrophes
When she bit into it, the letters scattered
Pigeons pecked at them
Swallowing them one by one
Is this yours? a man asked, holding up an “L”
She studied his suede boots
The pigeons lifted their heads
Their eyes as bright as pins
The man kept walking
Wait, she thought, but he didn't
She watched the boots cross the plaza
One blue, one red, a flag without stars
She thought he might be the star
She wished she hadn't eaten the sandwich
She should have saved the letters
Strung them together
Told the man her name
When the muses refuse to come out and play, free writes are one strategy to try and trick them into coming back. Sometimes I use prompts, sometimes I just start putting words down on a page. The short pieces posted here are some of my favorites and, yeah, I spent way too much time finding photos to go with them. Shout out to pixabay, openphoto, and stocksnap.io for their huge array of copywrite free images.