Thank you, sisters: Verrrrry late Breakthrough for the week of 6/12/2017

I’m late this week because I’ve been swamped with the work that pays the rent; the June heat saps my creativity; one of my cats may be dying; I’d begun to wonder who reads Breakthrough and why so few of you respond to writing suggestions; and one of my cats may be dying. Thanks to Cin, Theresa and Lynette. The heat is still odious; my cat may still be dying, but I know you are out there – doing the hard work of our art/craft. Thank you.
In response to W.H. Auden’s poemSeptember 1, 1939
I flip from one news app to another seeking something good, uplifting or positive. My heart tires long before my thumbs do. Before the world was turned inside out, I would stop and read an article about a police shooting or watch the live feed of Congress in session. Now I find myself glazing over the violence. Eschewing bombs and civilian casualties to focus firmly on funny cats, the newest inventions and athletes at the peak of their form.

If I ignore it, maybe it will go away. Oddly enough, the only time that has ever worked for me is with bug bites or bad weather.

My head and heart are filled to bursting with fear and hate—my own and that imposed upon me. My soul remains the seat of my consciousness and while my innocence is not broken, it is dark with tarnish around all the edges. I desperately need to believe in the good in people; that the white hat will always save the day. The maiden must always be rescued and even if there is no ‘happily ever after’, WPUK won’t be reporting her body found floating in the moat, sexually assaulted and mutilated the day after the white wedding.

How easy it is to bury one’s head in the sand. Calgon, take me away!

Between hate and fear, I tend to believe that fear is the stronger emotion. Hate drives, hate flares, hate pushes everything before it backwards and down. Fear endures. Fear can be handed down from generation to generation, never losing its power but distilling into a coalesced focus, hard and primal as a diamond. Hate dilutes over time until the sensation remains, but is void of any real motivation.

“Find what occurred at Linz.” Hate occurred there. Hate rose up, festered and was incubated there. But the Wolf’s prints can still be found all over Linz because of fear. Lassen Sie schlafende Hunde liegen- let sleeping dogs lie. Who wants to wake the Beast?  —Cin Norris


5/26/17 Prompt: S/he/ rolled down the car windows. Exhaust poured in.

She had had it.  She was fed up with the whining, the demands, the selfishness, the greed.   Every day throughout this long miserable wet winter she had made a point of entering the office with a smile and a personal greeting to each of her co-workers.  Over the Christmas holiday, bed-ridden with a horrible cold, she spent the day watching reruns of Doctor Phil.  One episode dealt with relationships and small efforts one could make to improve them. During that show, the sagely Doctor Phil stated that if one made a point of performing just one simple nice thing for another each day, relationships could not only survive but thrive..  She had pondered this philosophy throughout her downtime and decided it made sense.  A lot of sense. Starting January first, she made the resolution to reach out to those with which she was destined to share her work environment.  Her goal was simple gestures such as asking if they would like her to bring them a cup of coffee or compliment their appearance.  Surely these small acts of random kindness would lift their spirits ever so slightly and as a result, everyone would benefit.  Seriously, how hard could it be?
Crap. Week after week after week she tried.  A “I love your hair today.”  Some light background music.  A  “How was your weekend?”  Yet week after week, month after month, all she was reciprocated with were glares and one syllable grunts. Assholes.  They were assholes.  Sheila had even called her a “Fuckin’ Pollyanna.”   What the hell was wrong with these people.  And now – unbelievable. This past Monday, three of those jerks asked if she would cover the Memorial Day shift so that they could attend some event they were dreading.  Seriously!  Well fuck ‘em.  No.  You should have seen their faces.  Mouths open so wide a semi-truck could have blown through and not touched their lips.  Their chins dropped so low she found herself inwardly singing “Does your chin hang low, does it wobble to and fro.”  With great joy she met their shell-shocked eyes and said “No. I’m out of here.”  Standing as tall as she could muster, she arrogantly slapped her with hands on her hips, turned her head toward the exit door and sang “I’m going up the country, babe, don’t you wanna go?”    —Theresa Souers

From photo prompt of woman painter

Lucinda is tired. Tired of her clients art-directing every shoot. Tired of every wannabe artist, model, barista, and ski bum wanting to be photographed a la Richard Avedon or Dorothea Lange. She ought to Diane Arbus a few of them, that’d fix them.
Luce sighs and snaps several portraits of the sweet, young thing and her Pollock knockoff painting. The girl is blonde, young, eager –  everything Lucinda is not. “I give her 6 months before she’s back waiting tables in a cowgirl outfit at the Riva Grill,” she thought.
She gives herself a mental slap. Her ennui really isn’t her clients’ fault. Or the fault of her job. It isn’t even the fault of the orange menace that had taken over her country, although he has certainly contributed to her weariness these days. Who knows? It could be her own goddamn fault.
To make up for her unkind thoughts, Luce asks the paint spattered young woman to describe her artistic process. She snaps a few desultory photos as the words fade into white noise.
“Ok, I should have proofs ready for you next week and we can set up a time to meet. Nice work, by the way.”
Luce releases the camera, slings it around her neck and rushes out the door without collapsing the tripod legs. She flings everything into the back of her Subaru wagon and slams the back door.
Lake Tahoe gleams azure in the distance. Back in the day, its alpine beauty never failed to move her, no matter her mood. Today she flicks a glance out the window and swivels back to the road. The tall pines scatter shadows across her face through the driver’s side window. The sun’s late afternoon rays highlight the gray streaks in her auburn hair, filaments of passing time.
She has promised herself a hot bath, chilled California chardonnay and binge watching of Orange is the New Black. Even these rewards fail to stir her interest.
Luce drags herself and her equipment up the stairs of her modest A-frame and fumbles with her key. “Got to get this lock replaced,” she mutters as she jiggles the doorknob several times before it gives way. She lets her gear slide to the floor and ambles into the kitchen. Extracting a partial bottle of Sonoma Cutrer, she pours a large glass and steps out the sliding glass door.
Granite boulders barnacled with lichen anchor her porch. They date back to an ice age when glaciers scoured valleys and dropped these behemoths like seeds. She feels millennia old too. Exfoliating, that’s what she is doing.
The wine is crisp and cold on her tongue. Across the lake, the sun drops behind the peaks. Towering evergreens block print themselves against a tangerine and vermillion glow.
“I should shoot this,” Luce thinks. She takes a healthy swig and doesn’t move.
She wonders if she should call Cortez, just to have a warm body to hold. What is it the young people would call their relationship? Friends with benefits? Fuckbuddies? It seems like too much effort, though. And lately, his warm body has been cold comfort. They have nothing in common except watered down desire.
She sighs, refills her wine glass, and sits staring at nothing as stars prick the twilight with light long dead.      —Lynette Sheppard


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