Stories written after hearing Kaae & Batz’s Basement Tales
The sun set through the window and soaked into the paneling around the room. The brown branches outside glowed. As the room oranged, his breath deepened and exhaled tensed thick steam. Across the house the floor creaked. Through the open doorway a breath sputtered quickly and a voice broke out. A door slammed and the curtains at the front window swung and rattled against the glass. He watched the dull headlights expand into the night in the distance and disappear there, and heard footsteps crunch gravel. He heard the door close again. He felt his chest tighten and contort inside himself.
His animal print pajamas trailed underneath his foot—the white glow from the light, left on, reflected off the shiny plastic toys sitting next to his bed. The ochre glow from the nightlight next to his bed washed outward.
In bed he watched the bright light go out and the nightlight grow brighter. She sat next to him, him wrapped in the soft blanket. The wells in her eyes glistened and she began to hum and he breathed softly in rhythm with its cadence.
She left the light on and from the doorway the light caught the murmur in the blanket.
Clear Calm Mind
Upwards into a dream he fell and opened his eyes. The wind swirling around him brushed the tall weeds against his legs. The sky strode by between the trees. He looked up and the treetops swayed back and forth. The clouds danced around the mountains in the distance and over the trees. In a breath he closed his eyes again. He felt the brush against his legs and the washed sound and he leaned with it, off balance. On exhale he opened his eyes and it was dark. The trees outside his window’s mangled gnarled branches swayed in the cold wind.
They ran together on the big, uneven stream rocks. The boy smiled and yelled and squealed as at every step rocks turned and dug into the ground and shot out from under their feet. The boy dove onto the grass and his father dove next to him, both rolling and laughing.
They sat and watched the water and collected rocks and splashed them in the drying stream.
The whites of their shoes muddied through the day and as they drove home, their shoes sat in a pile on the backseat with leaves and pieces of grass stuck to clumps of mud.
Thoughts Of Clarity
She sat on the porch watching him play around the big tree in the front yard. Its leaves scattered across the ground, creating watercolors of yellows, oranges, and reds. Next to her a paper plate’s upper edge turned as the wind swept by.
A gust swept by carrying the plate. The piled crumbs scattered across the front yard leading toward the dry brush.
The boy looked up as the plate flew away to land on its edge and roll. He gave chase. He stomped it down as it rolled around the tree. As he folded it, the tires crunched the gravel.
Missing Puzzle Pieces
He felt it break in his chest at the table, while he stared at the shutters through the bars of the chair opposite. It tensed and clutched and clawed and warmed his inside. He heard the plate crash and the dull roar that came through, warped, ringing in his ears.
It built up in him again and shortness of breath came with it as the ringing slowed and changed to a hum, a dull-pitched constant that drowned out their roars. He felt himself swell and lift.
He felt the flicker between them, bouncing around the room. He saw its wings bounding.
He fell asleep against the back of the seat and curled up as the seat warmed. As they drove the wind pushed through the wheat strands and dry brush and fell into the open window. The boy wrinkled his nose. The father’s arm rested against the closed window. The mother looked back and saw the boy’s hair fluttering in the wind. She reached back and cranked the window up until the wind whistled through the sliver of sunlight. The sharp sound brought him awake and in the blur of his newly open eyes he saw his parents looking toward nothing. Away.
One Last Time
The nightlight was off and he stood against the doorframe. Outside, the black boughs hung unmoving. He couldn’t see the bed creases beat. The dim light behind him didn’t light anything. It only glared his reflection into the window as he walked away.
His feet crunched gravel as the thick door creaked open and groaned shut. He sat in the front seat watching the moon crawl across the windshield. Once it passed, the car ticked, sputtered, roared, and came to life. He drove through the dark trees until the sun glared across the windshield. The heavy door shutting woke the boy.
She sat in the worn armchair next to the front door. He had turned it years before so he could see the outside. The shutters were down and the sun beat against them. Light worked around each shutter and marked her face with horizontal lines. She sat with one arm strewn across her lap and the other down the arm of the chair. Her feet hung crossed, right over left, drooping and sloping down. The boy sat on the unused arm. He stared at her bloodshot eyes, turned orange from the sunlight. She stared into the blinds and her eyes glistened.
He walked through the fields of waist high brush. As he walked he mumbled over the wheat sounds.
A smirk formed on his face.
He kicked a small rock and it whooshed through the wheat and disappeared.
“Empty swimming pool!”
He walked through the tree line into a small grove. He followed red specks inward until they curved around a corner. He heard a noise and didn’t know what it was. From inside him the weight clamped down and his throat dried. Water flowed from his eyes and his chest tightened.
They called his name into the dark, but the wind swept their sounds away and raked them across the leaves. He didn’t come back in the night. Their flashlight strobes only lit pieces of the tree line and nothing moved. They knew if they stayed and he made it home he would wonder where they went.
They stayed on the porch all night, leaned against the banister, heads on a swivel until they fell asleep, helpless. Their breaths woke each other up in the night. When the sun came up they took the car and circled the pastures looking for something.
They walked hand in hand from the swinging door, escaping lights, sounds, toward his car under the streetlight next to a huge drooping tree, leaves falling slowly, long willow strands gently shaking. He extended his hand and spun her as they walked. Her dress spun with her, slightly curling at the bottom. They laughed and shuffled toward the car, each of them trying to get closer to each other.
The lights and music from behind the swinging door dripped out into the street and followed, draining, at their heels.
He dropped his keys and she fell asleep in the passenger seat.
See The Stars
They walked through the high brush pastures and followed broken branches and scattered rocks. Before the dirt swept away from the wind, they saw the crescent shaped indents ghosted along the path. Each step closer, the next footprint slipped away.
They ran, shouting his name, but the bushes loudly moving distorted sound. Between the twigs of a bush she saw a foot, unmoving. No answer.
Behind the bush he lay on the ground, sobbing, next to a body covered in leaves and dug into the ground. A pile of dirt sat next to it. The sun had already discolored the fur.