The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
Tea for Two
by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi
Legs crossed, hands in lap,
I sit quietly with my fingers entwined
near my mother-in-law on her colorful,
ornate settee ready for tea.
We have porcelain cups and platters,
with tiny cream and sugar vessels to match,
and a tray of silver glistening from frequent polish.
Tendrils of hair nay out of place,
for any occurrence might seal your fate,
and today is not the day I want to die.
Sipping liquid like arsenic for your brain,
anxiety seeps in at the thought of any
tea-stained droplets on the white tablecloth,
flashbacks pierce through of blood-stained
drops on the carpet.
Listening with ears more suited to a train tunnel,
the chattering like chaos of a crowd,
the parade of nonsense turns my tuning frozen,
my fear messes with internal frequency
and results in high-pitch warnings.
Nodding my head in succinct, proper intervals
and smiling at appropriate five-minute marks,
counting like clockwork to not set-off her rage,
acting my best performance to set the stage.
Catching myself fingering the scar beneath my pearls,
biting my pinky nail, tapping my foot in mid-air,
I compose myself.
Hands back in lap. Chin up. Foot silent.
Damn, I’ve chipped my polish.
My mind wanders when it should be concentrating,
must be concentrating. My thoughts ramble when they
need to focus, have to focus on her words. Her selfishness
demands I listen
about lilacs, and horses, and men, and fashion,
while my subconscious pounds on about death,
and control, and fear, and sadness, and my husband…
buried in the tulip patch behind the stables. I’m not
allowed to speak his name. But in silent loneliness
I miss him.
Fiction © Copyright Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi
Fiction Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi:
It’s the one-year anniversary of the publishing of my debut dark poetry and short story collection, Breathe. Breathe. Much of it tells my life’s pains and haunts and fears poured, sometimes savagely, onto the page. However, there is also legend, folklore, and fantasy as well.
Breathe. Breathe. is a collection of dark poetry and short fiction exploring the surreal depths of humanity. It’s a representation of how life breaks us apart and words put us back together. Purged onto the pages, dark emotions flow, urging readers into murky seas and grim forests, to the fine line between breathing and death.In Act One, readers are presented with a serial killer in Victorian London, a lighthouse keeper with an eerie legacy, a murderous spouse that seems to have walked right out of a mystery novel, and a treacherous Japanese lady who wants to stay immortal. The heightened fears in the twilight of your minds will seep into the blackest of your nights, where you have to breathe in rhythm to stay alive.
In Act Two, the poetry turns more internal and pierces through the wall of denial and pain, bringing visceral emotions to the surface unleashing traumas such as domestic abuse, violence, and illness.
In the short stories, you’ll meet residents of Valhalla Lane whose lives are on a violent parallel track to collision, a man who is driven mad by the sound of a woodpecker, a teenage girl who wakes up on the beach and can’t find another soul in sight, a woman caught in a time shift pitting her against the Egyptian goddess Anuket, and a little girl whose whole world changes when her favorite dandelion yellow crayon is discontinued.
Amid these pages the haunting themes of oppression, isolation, revenge, and madness unfold through folklore, nightmares, and often times, raw, impulsive passion crafted to sear from the inside out.
With a touching foreword by the Bram Stoker nominated author Brian Kirk, Breathe. Breathe. will at times unsettle you, and at times embrace you. Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, a veteran writer and editor of the written word, offers up a mixed set of pieces, identifying her as a strong, new voice in dark fiction that will tear the heart from your chest, all the while reminding you to breathe.