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Empty Pages

kaboompics via Pixabay

Empty Pages

Martin stared at the planner he held in his hand. Dale had given it to him for Christmas in, he quickly flipped back to the cover, 2008. She thought it was the greatest gift ever. He remembered opening it as she watched him through her big brown eyes. Sitting in excited anticipation of his reaction. Would he like it?

He remembered thinking, “What am I going to do with a calendar book?” as he exposed the planner from beneath the red and white Santa paper that concealed it.

Martin worked on the assembly line at Ford. The routine rarely if ever changed. He’d arrive at the plant at 6:30am and head into the locker room to pull on his coveralls and work boots. Next, he’d trek to the staff cafeteria and put his lunch bag in one of the employee fridges. Finally, he’d make his way out onto the floor and arrive at his post with about five minutes to spare.

When the whistle sounded Steve, his overnight counterpart would step aside and he’d take his place. His task, complete the same four welds on the door assembly before the line shuttled the next door along. Repeat over and over and over again, break for lunch, and then repeat all afternoon until the whistle signalled the end of the day.

Calendars, planners and organizers weren’t much use when every day was like groundhog day but with Dale’s eyes fixed on him it was only fitting to make her feel like it was the best gift he’d ever received. It was everything to see his daughter smile in delight at his approval. Her reaction was the real Christmas gift.

Over the years he’d often recalled that little girl’s smile. He didn’t know where the calendar had gone, it was lost much like that happy little girl who’d given it to him all those years earlier. He wondered where that girl had gone. Martin didn’t understand the ghosts that would haunt her as she grew up, instead choosing to believe she lacked the will or desire to control her urges, or stop her self-destructive behaviours. The last time they spoke he scolded her for whatever trouble she was in and warned her about coming around unless she’d got her shit together.

Now as he looked around her apartment, forced to sift through the remains of a life interrupted, the demons he’d refused to acknowledge filled the empty spaces of her tiny apartment with darkness. Beneath the shattered fragments that exposed his girl’s pain lay a planner. He recognized it immediately as the one she’d given him all those years ago. He leafed through the empty pages until he came across a single entry written in the neatest print of a seven-year-old girl.

July 14th, 2008: Happy Birthday Daddy, I love you. The “i” in birthday dotted with an oversized heart.

He’d never even opened it back then, but now as his lip began to quiver and tears fell from his eyes he couldn’t look away. If he could only see that smile from a Christmas so long ago…

They say losing a child is the worse pain anyone can bear, but he knew this wasn’t true. It was worse knowing that maybe, just maybe if you’d tried to understand, to help, instead of being too blind to notice.

Credits and Additional Information

Been a Long Time…

Been a Long Time…

A hypothetical conversation between old Rockers in rockers; a typical day at the Association of Retired Rock and Rollers (ARRR) Seniors’ Center.

“The business has changed so much” Plant lamented. “Back in the day, we needed to record start to finish.”

“Could you imagine all the spliced tape if we recorded like they do today?” Jimmy shot back laughing.

“I know, we laid down tracks and layered them on top of each other. The new artist builds loops and mixes it all together in segments on a computer.” John Paul continued, “Shit for some tracks I could pound out six notes on my bass and be done. Let the mixer do the rest.”

“The nuance of a song is lost because every drum beat, every riff, every hook, and every chorus is recorded once and used again and again, reuseable and replaceable across multiple tracks on the same record. Identical in every way. The human element is lost.” Page postulated. “Not to mention the shit that stolen, I mean sampled from other people’s works.”

“What’s worse, auto-tune makes any pretty-faced Frankenstein sound like Fitzgerald. Imagine how pitch-perfect I could have sounded on Stairway. 🎶And she’s buying a…” Plant finished by singing the final line badly out of tune.

“You know what I miss the most, besides John smashing away on drums, jamming together in the studio. Now we can record the parts in our basement studios and email it in. I guess there is one positive though, I never have to see any of your ugly faces!”

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The Cost of Indifference

Unrelenting darkness pressed down above the northern city trapped beneath the rubble of an intercontinental war it never asked for. Its only downfall is being landlocked between a wicked aggressor on the eastern front and indifference amongst the free and democratic societies to the west. The democratically elected government had aligned with the Western powers during the peaceful years following the Planetary Armistice of 2740.

The Eastern airforce was engaging in a campaign to carpet the rural grain and sheep farms with clusters of bombs precisely spaced to ensure maximum destruction of the arable countryside. Facing certain starvation, anger grew as it became clear that their allies had abandoned them. Sure, the West was providing stockpiles of old and neglected weaponry to shore up the National Resistance but compared to the weapons of modern warfare they were playing in the technological dark ages.

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Bears and Bulls

Where has it gone
Where did it go
Run the bulls
Dead bears blow

We got your back
A can’t lose plan
Your retirement
Now in the can

Stocks and bonds
Crypto too
Bought it high
Now I’m through

The economy
In freefall dive
At this rate
I won’t survive

GICs and
Bars of gold
Are all that’s left
To buy and hold

War and oil
What a mess
Inflation soaring
Do more with less

Hanging on
For it to turn
’cause I don’t got
The dough to burn

If this don’t end
I just might
Climb to the top
Jump into the night

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