work

He rubbed his temples but the pain didn’t subside.  It never did and yet he persisted each time his head ached.  He never really thought about it either, it was just something he’d always done, some habit picked up along the way.  He did, however, force his jaw to relax because he knew if he was grinding his teeth his headache would never go away.  The clenching always come about involuntarily but with concentrated effort he could make it stop.  Most of the time.

Sometimes only sleep would provide him relief.  Most of the time sleep was a luxury he could not attain.

At the moment it felt like someone had taken a hammer to his head.  Though, in truth he didn’t really know what that would feel like and only could imagine.  He seriously doubted he wanted to know what it actually felt like but since his jaw and cheek bones already throbbed as if broken, perhaps he could at least guess.

He sighed and pushed the pain away.  It didn’t work completely but it was enough for him to get back to work.  The promise of his bed at the end of the day helped some too.  The mind, as always, was his strongest muscle.  Exercising it could help him power through everything else that needed to get done.  And there was a lot he still had to do.

The bed would be there but not necessarily sleep.  Good sleep.  Dreams.  He didn’t always want the dreams anyway.  The things he had done haunted him when they came.  He let the doubt and self-loathing consume him during his awake hours too much already to also be happy when that aspect of his psyche took control of his sleep.  Sleep was restorative and essential but he found himself pushing it off for longer and longer intervals.

He couldn’t actually remember the last time he’d slept.  It didn’t matter, though, he had work to do.

echoes thundered

Gentling rubbing throbbing temples provided the illusion of relief without actually carrying through with the promise.  Another futile second and the hands dropped, defeated, and eyes flared open again.  Angry red lines coursed away from pools of deep blue that framed anguished black pupils.  Creases above eyebrows and worry lines appeared in the recently vacated spaces.

Neighbors cast furtive glances, some of concern, some of blame, and some of boredom, and they were all ignored.  There was no time or energy to deal with their intrigue, there was only pain.  Constant.  Intense.  It burrowed further in, disrupting the normal flow of tissues and synapses.  Eyes closed once more for balance but the bursts of light cascading in synchronized waves against eyelids required hands to go fumbling in search of something solid to cling to.

Balance restored, slowly.  Achingly slowly.  The throbbing headache remained.

Dark thoughts, twisted and writhing with mischief, found a way to surface when no others would or could: quick ways to end the suffering, names of those at fault for the current agony and how best to serve a fitting revenge, and the long road to recovery hidden in shadows and chains.  The abused heart lurched haltingly as it became wrapped in despair.  Knees grew weak.  Eyes, still hidden protectively behind their lids, rolled upwards.  Gravity did the rest and cooling air rushed passed falling limbs.

A steadying hand cupped under an elbow kept body from meeting floor, but it was close enough to send puffs of dust dancing around ankles.  “Thank you” was hoarsely whispered as the two bodies untangled.  Red eyes met clear eyes and skittered away quickly, ashamed of their plight, ashamed of their condition in the show of such strength and humanity.  A nod was all that was offered in return, and wobbly legs were left to their own devices as confident steps faded away.  Echoes thundered.

Shaking hands fumbled for car keys, and a parting of the gathered throng created a path to the exit.  Silent stale stares marked progress from desk to door and the emptiness beyond.  A collective sigh of relief, mostly internal for fear of drawing attention, welcomed the departure.  The sickness had left.  Those who remained were certain to be safe, secure, untouched by whatever curse had befallen the inflected.

Outside, trembling from grief and still throbbing temples, faltering steps carried across the parking lot.  Keys worked their magic and the soothing warmth of a molded seat offered what comfort it could.  The engine roared to life on command, confirming that the car was the only thing working properly that miserable morning, and home, across the city, and more specifically the bed, beckoned.  Rest.  Relief.  Recovery.

None of it was to be.  The fates laughed and sent renewed waves of crushing pain.  Cringes, unwanted, unstoppable, while hands clutched the steering wheel, sent the car spinning.  Crunched metal, shattered glass, a quick scream of fear and rending pain, and long darkness began its rule.

Still, the throbbing behind temples continued.

………………

This is my response to the current Finish The Story prompt.  Have you come up with an ending yet?  What are you waiting for?

Prompt: Finish The Story (#3)

First, a reading assignment.  If you haven’t already, go read all the contributions from last week’s prompt:

El Guapo
Judah First
Juliette Kings
Jamie
JED
moi
Matticus (hey, that’s me!)

Second, a writing assignment.  Here is the current prompt.  How are you going to finish it?

………………..

Gentling rubbing throbbing temples provided the illusion of relief without actually carrying through with the promise.  Another futile second and the hands dropped, defeated, and eyes flared open again.  Angry red lines coursed away from pools of deep blue that framed anguished black pupils.  Creases above eyebrows and worry lines appeared in the recently vacated spaces.

Neighbors cast furtive glances, some of concern, some of blame, and some of boredom, and they were all ignored.  There was no time or energy to deal with their intrigue, there was only pain.  Constant.  Intense.  It burrowed further in, disrupting the normal flow of tissues and synapses.  Eyes closed once more for balance but the bursts of light cascading in synchronized waves against eyelids required hands to go fumbling in search of something solid to cling to.

Balance restored, slowly.  Achingly slowly.  The throbbing headache remained.

Dark thoughts, twisted and writhing with mischief, found a way to surface when no others would or could: quick ways to end the suffering, names of those at fault for the current agony and how best to serve a fitting revenge, and the long road to recovery hidden in shadows and chains.  The abused heart lurched haltingly as it became wrapped in despair.  Knees grew weak.  Eyes, still hidden protectively behind their lids, rolled upwards.  Gravity did the rest and cooling air rushed passed falling limbs…