Broke

Nelson keeps his deformed left hand in his jeans pocket, rolling a two dollar coin between his three fingers. No matter what happens, with this coin in his pocket, he’s never broke. With two bucks, a person just can’t be broke.

He zips his sleeping bag closed with his right hand, then leans back against the boarded storefront, underneath a gray awning that sheltered him from most of last night’s rain.  Waiting for Old Man Russell to move spots paid off, and Nelson is determined to keep this space for himself, even if it means a few more bloody fights.    

He squints his eyes, blurring his vision and softening the surrounding scene of cement, garbage cans and rusty cars. When Nelson squints, he sees only the centre of the picture: maple trees bursting autumn within the confines of the tiny city park across the street.

Crimson. Pink. Gold. Brightest red. The same colours that painted the horizons of his childhood. His family’s home, nothing more than a rundown shack if he’s honest, had the best view on the reserve. Aunt Gladys said they never had to decorate inside because nature provided decoration enough for anyone. Nelson closes his eyes, carrying his aunt’s words and the fantastic colour, a phantom of comfort, into his sleep.

In his dreams, his family are happy. They sit at picnic tables, waiting for the day’s salmon catch to cook on an open fire. Children play and run around. The adults are telling stories and laughing. But Nelson strains to hear their laughter. It’s blocked out by a loud crackling – the sound of brittle leaves as a strong breeze passes through the tree branches.

And now Nelson can smell smoke, can actually taste smoke from the air. Light wafts have grown into thick billows, raging out of the untamed fire. Salty resin catches in his lungs and takes hold of him.

Bystanders are too distracted by the flames to see a two dollar coin roll into the street.

Change

Marquee neon spotlights the startled expression of someone who once pretended to love me. My hand reaches deep into my empty coat pocket and it’s then I realize: I’ve already tossed our past away.

A 33 word Trifecta-like writing challenge for myself and for writer Tom MacInnes. Please pop over to Tom’s new blog to read his response.

One true moment

If I did ever have him, then I do desperately miss him.
One person always by my side,
Whether I was right, or whether I was left,
Standing in the sun’s rays, or hiding from the raindrops,
He was here (yes, I mean there) to say
I understand, I understand you… I, you.

Crumbling

Many’s the night you’ve walked these same miles, without ever lifting from your chair.
Dreams like loosed cobblestones, a path crumbling underneath your worn, hobo shoes.
Brief solace sometimes sought, diversions for your wearied soul.
Slippery side streets and names you no longer remember.

This week, dVerse Poets provided the Quadrille (44 words) prompt word: cobble.