Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Land's Edge Contest- 3rd Place- K.M. McElhinny

I have been following the blog of K.M. McElhinny for a few months. Her love of all things horror is most apparent. I laughed when I read her most recent blog post flashing back to her childhood. Here is a snippet of that:

"Where other girls were having tea parties, dressing up and playing barbies, running around carefree willy-nilly, I was playing funeral, Go to The Hospital and Die, and my barbies were kidnapped, tortured and then they managed to find their way out of the horrid mess all on their own."

Kara is a charming woman who can post blogs about horror with great humour and imagination. Though when you read her poetry and short stories you discover that she's all about the business of horror and to her it's no laughing matter. The judges were impressed with Kara's story The Light and Shadows of Independence. She took as for a tour through the thought process of a person on the edge...perhaps even over the edge. Her tale was dark, in the evil sense, and the descriptions of light and dark were well done throughout the story. I present to you the third place entry in the Land's Edge flash fiction contest.

The Light and Shadows of Independence

You sit in your bedroom, double-edged memories slice through your mind as fireworks burst outside, boom in the night sky, crackle with searing shot. They remind you of her.

You remember the Fourth of July when you met her so many years ago, before she’d become your wife. Her auburn hair slicked into pigtails, freckles dashed over full cheeks; life’s light flashing in her gaze, drawing your eye, until you wanted nothing more.

You wish you could tie your heart to the next explosive to make up for the pain you’ve wrought her and your children. Lights dance across the window and faraway people murmur, excited. It will be better if they see you, instead of the kind and friendly person they think they know. You struggle against shame and guilt. Your insecurities a fuse, she the match that lit them. She burned so bright, magnifying your doubts until you weren’t sure if you were good enough.

You place your head in your hands, rocking the chair forward with a squeak. Groaning with succinct harmony.

Rockets flair outside, explosions rain through the dark.

Boom. Crackle. Sizzle.

You didn't realize the depths your piety selfishness ran. Now you do.

A fist to squelch her flame. A word to smother her light. You know it should have never been, but you feared being eclipsed, despite your love.

So, you pushed: to break her, to trip her, to tick her off. Each time ignoring the voice whispering, ″Let her rest, she's a good girl, she needs a break.″

No! Your mind had cried. She doesn't deserve a break!

If you allowed her an inch, a breath, she would leave. You couldn't have that. She was yours, no one else’s.

Colored lights flicker through sheer drapes.

She grew wary of your pushing, she was ready to leave. You'd blown it. Ten years of marriage. But you’d told her, “You’re not leaving. All I’ve ever offered is your protection…”

A sigh escapes your lips. You wait for the fireworks to end but they keep coming, combusting.

The Fourth of July: Independence Day.

Her Independence Day.

You don't want independence; you want your wife, your family. You had thought: How will my sons grow without their father? And once the moment calmed, you’d told her, “I'll go to counseling. Is there a way you can ever forgive me?” Because you had stomped her into nothingness. You see the error of your ways. You must say anything to make her stay, to keep her shackled to this life, your heart.

The spark you thought you’d snuffed out flickers to life once again in her eyes. The flame says, “I'll try.”

Trying is not enough because it doesn’t change anything, it will only make her stronger. And it kills you—this tearing inside, the choice covered in a veil of shadows. The fireworks, her smile, her promise, they flint your fear and fuel the panic inside your chest. She'll be too independent, too ready to give it to everyone, willing to share what is yours. You hate that she’s stronger than you. A seizure of despair grasps your heart, jerking it again and again until you can barely breathe. Her light will leave you in the dark, it is what suffocates you, lifeless. It is her fault. Not yours.

You must do something.

Her or you. You or her. What will the choice be?




Light is too distracting, water moistens your eyes. It is too much, you kn-kn-know...it's your fault. Someone brilliant couldn't love you with the shadows playing over your heart. You should have stopped it, never allowed yourself to feel her heat. It is too much, too intense, and now you will never kn-kn...know, what your life would have been like.

You turn your head, it hurts even to look at the flashes of fireworks. Too much like her. So much greater than you. Finally they end and people sigh in joy and leave. It soothes your soul to know that it was right, to extinguish the light because there is no peace in a blazing flame.

The darkness is your solace.

You turn slowly and your gaze falls across the bed. There she lies: belly bloated, dead eyes, light extinguished. Nothing more to share with the world, no power left to drive you crazy. You breathe a sigh of relief, at peace, finally.

You are a good husband.

She has her independence.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

K.M. McElhinny is writer and poet of the dark and the in between. She chased the white rabbit down the writing hole over a year ago and has been thrust into a Wonderland of shady characters, fantastical places with twisted endings. She has been published with Flashes in the Dark; her poetry can be seen at Spilled Coffee, SNM Horror Magazine and The Cynic Online. Upcoming publications include a new poem at Daily Love.


Mike Robertson said...

Amazing imagery Kara. So visual (and audible!) and I can almost smell the setting - fireworks smoke and rotting corpse. Exquisite work.

Cathy Olliffe said...

Kara, I have no words. This was stunning.

katey said...

Very cool and intense look into a very dark mind. Love the juxtaposition with the fireworks, the way you managed the metaphor, and the imagery.

Laurita said...

I loved the continuous refrence to light. Very well done. Subtle but impressive.

K.Hinny said...

Thank you Alan for you super nice words about me! You made me blush!! :D And thanks again to Ellen and Laurita for voting for my story!

Thanks for reading Mike, Cathy and Katey!! *blushes a little more*

Have a great day to all of you and Happy writing!!

ganymeder said...

Oh wow, that was incredible. Loved the way you meshed the fireworks and his inner struggle. Great work!

Bukowski's Basement said...

Eerie... And the use of the voice (second person, right?) just adds to it effectiveness. Bravo.

K.Hinny said...

Ganymeder - Thanks!!

BB - Yes, second person, and thank you so much!

Michael Solender said...

lovely riff, enjoyed this one.

David Barber said...

A very well written piece, Kara. It was almost like being sat there with him. A worthy winner. Well done.

Lee Thompson said...

Awesome, Kara!!!

Aaron Polson said...

I love the pacing and the imagery. Very nice!

Mental_Pictures said...

The use of the imagery regarding light and shadow made this piece of writing so memorable and so powerful. I simply loved this.


kathryn said...

Wow. An intimate look into the logic of one man's insanity...

K.Hinny said...

Thanks for reading so much guys!!!!