Their Song

It was their song. It had been playing on the radio when he’d sat down at the counter in the diner for the first time and she’d leaned over to ask him what he’d have. Of course, neither of them remembered that. What they both remembered was it playing on another radio on another night when the pair sat in his car down by the river and watched the stars.
“Don’t worry, give it a few months and we’ll have licked those Krauts. I’ll be home for Christmas.”
“You promise?”
“I promise. We’ll be right back here, Trace. Lookin’ out at those same stars.”

It was playing on the radio again when the news bulletin broke in to tell the world that the Allies were on the march. And again when she was up with the sun, to meet the sickness which had plagued her mornings. When she got her best friend to take her to the hospital, the song was ending just as they arrived. When their son was born, she sang the song to him in hushed tones, telling the newborn babe that soon he’d get to meet his papa.
“He’ll be home for Christmas, he promised.”

When the telegram came, the radio was as silent as the tears on her face.

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Making It Work

“Alright, this is experimental trial…One hundred thirty eight…B.”
Derek spoke to the camera, hands trembling as he moved to press the ‘on’ switch. The array lit up almost immediately and the whole thing started to hum.
“Phase one appears to be operating normally…” He picked up one of his instruments. “Phase two power generation appears to be as expected…” There was a long pause and suddenly the needle shot upwards. “Oh…oh no…Not again. Please, not this again.” He dove for the power button, but it didn’t matter. The machine was already smoking. He jumped for the camera instead and dove behind the protective paneling just before it blew. “Well, that was the same malfunction from trial…um…seventy three, I think. So…”
“Derek, are you alright in here?”
He looked up into the face of Professor McKenna and sighed.
“Yes, Professor…I just had a malfunction. I’m alright.”
“You nearly blew yourself up, Derek. Grab your notes, check the prototype for flames and come get some dinner. You need to take a break and redesign or you’re going to kill yourself with one of these `malfunctions.’”

Derek sat down in the cafeteria, spreading his designs out while he tried to simultaneously shove a chicken tender into his mouth.
“You’re still working on that? You know it’s never gonna work, right?”
He didn’t even need to look up to know that was Alexis. Little miss perfect Alexis with her grants and stipends and published papers and all that. She dropped into the seat opposite him and scoffed.
“I mean, seriously, you can’t just pull energy out of nowhere, Derek, that goes against all the laws of physics.”
“As we know them…” was his only response.
“Ugh…whatever. Continue to wallow in your failure while I’m putting an astronaut on Mars.”
She strode away, heels clicking on the tiled floor, and he returned his full attention to finding the flaw in his design.

Hours turned into days and days into weeks and Derek still didn’t have a new prototype. The flaw was there, he knew it was, he just had to find it. Weeks into months and the snow fell hard around the campus as Derek burst into the lab with a tiny box in his hands. He set up his camera, hands shaking and set the little cardboard box on the counter. It was only a few inches high, not the giant bulk of lights and switches and diodes he’d had before. No, this one was simple, sleek and elegant. And most importantly of all, just as Alexis walked in to demand to know what he was doing, the little chrome sphere started to glow and lifted into the air.
“Making it work.”

Home

The night air had a chill, just enough to promise that the seasons continued to turn. It was her favorite time of year because of that promise, and because of what that promise meant for her. The young woman smiled, gazing up at the stars over the bus stop. The country was so quiet at night and she would miss her mother some, but the city called to her heart and her soul just as it did every year. She shouldered her bag and watched two children run and play under their mother’s watchful gaze. They’d noticed the chill now, their breath fogging in the air. He would be here soon to take her home. She brushed her fingers through her hair, checking to be certain the brightly red flower she’d left was still there. They always brought each other something small, just a token of the life they led when the other wasn’t around.
The black car pulled up to the curb and the woman smiled brightly, love shining in her eyes as he stepped around to open the door for her. Her bag on the seat, he pulled her into his arms. She leaned against him, taking in his scent of lilies and orchids. He kissed her forehead gently.
“Welcome home.”

The Love Song of the Engineer

My hands speak volumes
As they trace the curves of your body
And ponder the integrals of those curves
Using my fingers to mark out the derivatives

Let us assume that you are a rigid body
But existing in a frictionless environment is no fun
So let us instead consider a constant friction called f
A glorious friction, offset with lubrication as necessary

And let us consider a second rigid body
Did I forget to mention that we shall assume that all bodies are spheres?
No, scratch that, that assumption upsets the tangent planes
And negates those glorious curves

I wish I was DNA heliocase so that I could unzip your genes
Hypothesis proven, biological humor is not my forte
Would you prefer something that involves compiling your object files?
Then again, perhaps not.

Back to that second rigid body I mentioned
Its here in my hand, for demonstration purposes, of course
I chose the smooth one so we can maintain our constant f of friction
But if you’d prefer more variables, that’s fine with me

Now, would you be so kind as to lie back and collect data for me?
I will measure the efficacy of my application of F=MA
By the waveforms you produce in the air.
Experimental procedure says that you get to reproduce my test next

An object at rest remains at rest unless acted upon by an outside force
And I can be a very enthusiastic outside force, if you would like me to
Where this experiment proceeds is based entirely on the data you provide,
But I for one, would love to do an in depth study of fluid dynamics.

Unwanted Toys

Yesterday a woman cried
And the universe stopped to listen
The smoked glass bottle of poison on the windowsill
Of the child’s room was empty
And the little girl was a broken doll on the floor

The woman cried not out of sorrow
As she cradled the little doll
There was nothing but silence as she sobbed
And the little girl walked away into a ferocious eternity
Escaping the imprisoning embrace

Guilt wracked the woman
And the universe stopped to watch
She lifted the stiff little doll to lay her on the bed
Then went to call them to take away her unwanted toy,
With one hand on her unborn but welcome son

Stage

Stage Fright
Noun
Nervousness felt by a performer or speaker when appearing before an audience.

Stage Fright is standing up here looking out at all of you and thinking
Is it really better if they’re all in their underwear?
Standing here, trying to pour my heart and soul into a microphone
After having already poured it onto a piece of paper
Is it really possible to keep your heart in so many places?

Stage Fright
The Oxford English Dictionary states that Stage-Fright is, in fact, a hyphenated word first used in writing in the 1870s by Twain
Funny, since I’m fairly certain that Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer had no such thing

Stage Fright also answers to the name “performance anxiety”
But the only performance enhancing drug I know for this anxiety comes in a glass bottle and you must be at least this many years old to purchase
In all the emails, all the worthless spam telling me that they can increase my length,
why can’t there be one, just one, saying they can help me stand on a stage and look you all in the eye

Ain’t My Dog

He put the book down and shook his head.
“It’s got a dog on the cover. I don’t read books that’ve got a dog on the cover.” He shrugged a little, hands sliding into the pockets of his overalls. “Thanks anyways, Ma’am.”
Then he turned and strode out of the library. He hesitated by the old railing and then continued on to where his bike leaned against a wall.

The ride back home was punctuated by distant baying, sharp barks, and bird song. He let the bike fall on the grass in front of the small house and jogged inside. It was quiet. Music played on the radio in the kitchen where his mother laughed and joked with his older sister while they made dinner. Somewhere out the back, the roar of an engine said that his father was working on the truck again. Instead, he went to go grab the .22 from his closet. He didn’t want to be around all these cheerful people.
“Where are you headed?”
“Just out the woods, Mama. I’ll bring back some squirrels, a’right?”

He was deep in the backwoods, far enough that it would take the big bell hanging by the back door to get his attention from the house. That was when he heard the sound. It was like a whimper or a whine. He set his rifle down by a stump and crept forward to investigate. There it was, a ratty little thing near the waterline. It was a puppy of uncertain parentage, soaked and shivering. The boy knelt and frowned, picking the puppy up by its scruff.
“You’re sure a mess.” He hesitated and then sighed. “Come on, let’s get you cleaned up and I’ll drop you off somewhere.”
The puppy started trying to lick his face the moment the boy pulled him closer.
“None of that now, you ain’t my dog.”
He picked his .22 back up and held the pup close, making his way back towards the house.

“Pup ain’t gonna make it, son.”
The boy glared up at his father.
“He will. And then I’m gonna take him and see if anyone needs a dog.” Once again, the wriggling pup was trying to wash the boy’s face. “He ain’t mine, that’s for certain sure.”
“Whatever you say, boy.”

The dog was big enough to jump onto the bed now and had flopped himself across the boy’s pillows.
“Get down, Ra-”
Ranger. He stopped. He couldn’t do this. Not again. Not another dog. But the eager to place pup was washing his hands and dancing at his feet.
“Alright, you can sleep on the bed with me. But you still ain’t my dog.”

“Scout! Dammit, where’d you get to?”
The dog barrelled out of the brush, barking excitedly as he ran towards his boy.
“There you are. Come on, we’re goin’ to the library again. You know what that means.”
He clipped a leash to Scout’s collar and the dog danced excitedly as his boy went to get his bike.