Grease Monkey

She was sat alone, cross legged, in her in her father’s old aluminium garage, just off of to the side of her parent’s ranch homestead, when I found her—were I would usually always find her. Alexa was the engineering type, even when we were kids; she would play around with her toys, taking them apart or modding them beyond recognition. She was a bit of a loner too, only tolerating a few people; she was rather selective in her friendships. I always consider myself fortunate to be her friend.

As I walked up to the garage, you could smell the tang of protium emanating out from the large doors, well before I could reach them. Protium was that ‘fuel’ like substance that replaced crude oil, when it finally ran out; made from the algae farms that now littered most of the sea’s surface—or at least that’s how it was all explained to me by Alexa.

I walked up and leant against the frame and remained silent, while I watched Alexa as she tinkered away with wrench in hand. She wore her hair in a ponytail, and her crop top was stained blue from the protium and grey with grime. I was always fascinated with how in tune she looked around machinery, as if she actually speaks ‘machine’.

Alexa never realised my presence, so engrossed she was in what she was doing. Then I noticed her arm give way, as she turned the wrench with her ‘hand’. She took the wrench with her other hand and threw it against the wall, hard in anger that it rang against the aluminium.

She left out a scream of pain and frustration, louder than the crashing sound ringing in my ears, then rubbed her shoulder with her now free hand.

After the sound died down, I said: ‘Hey, grease monkey,’ feeling concerned.

‘Oh, hey,’ she said, turning to face me briefly.

‘The prosthetic still giving you trouble?’

She looked upon her skeletally bare arm.

‘Yeh, the damn thing still doesn’t fit correctly. And the nerve endings still haven’t healed properly. Or at least that’s what the cyberneticist said—the fucking hack,’ she said as she looked at her shoulder, where the metallic merged with her supple pink, but dirt covered, skin. She rotated her shoulder multiple times, outstretched her arm slightly, which produced a electronic whirl, then opened and clenched her skeletal hand, which clinked together, as her new metal fingers closed.

‘I guess…I guess I should be grateful. At least I’m not dead,’ she said, with a sigh.

I moved behind her, knelt down, then hugged her. Wrapped my arms around her, tightly. I couldn’t help but feel guilt and pity, but also mainly relief.

‘We all are, everyone that loves you,’ I replied, as I tightened my grip. Her softer hand gasped my arm lightly. ‘Besides, I’m sure you could do better,’ I added, trying to console her.

I let go and sat down beside her, with my back against the corrugated wall, which dug into my back slightly. Alexa chuckled and smiled, then her gaze became distant slightly. I could see that she was remembering that ‘something’, which she would prefer to forget.

‘Thanks, but I doubt that,’ she said. ‘I only just managed to afford this old model. I suppose I should be grateful that I could. The newer models have advanced nanomesh interfaces, which bind to the nerves better. Maybe when I can work on robots again, down the factory, I can save up for an upgrade. Until then—’

‘Don’t you think you’re over doing it though?’ I urged, as I knew Alexa could be really stubborn sometimes.

‘The cyberneticist said I need to try and use it as if nothing was wrong. So that’s what I’m gonna do,’ she replied, nodding once, as if to convince herself of her plan.

‘Fair enough. Just don’t forget we’re all her for you—if you ever need a hand,’ I joked. Alexa laughed, shaking her head.

‘You bitch,’ she replied. And we both shared in the laugher. I can only hope to understand what she must be dealing with, but I know that I’d always be there for her.

‘Come on,’ she said, ‘let go in, I’m hungry.’

‘Sure,’ I replied, and stood up, dusting off the dirt on my bottom. I reached out and offered my hand out to help Alexa up. She took my hand with her prosthetic. I could feel the cold, smooth, lifeless touch of the metal fingers clutch in my hand. It was a strong grip but didn’t hurt; perhaps she still hasn’t realised how strong it is, but I didn’t mind. I pulled her to her feet. She gave me a look as if to realise that she forgot, if only for a few seconds, that it was still there.

We both walked into the house to make dinner for us both and her mother, for when she returned from work. I chose to crash at her’s that night, spending the time talking about my recent travels. We had one of our sleep overs, just like we used to when we were kids.

Wedding Day

It was one of those rather blissful warm days. The sun was in and out with the patchy clouds and when the gentle breeze kissed the face is was joyfully pleasant. As it is customary in these social outings, people gathered and grouped, talked and chatted; about how perfect the day was or how well the location was ideal. Its doubtful that they actual mean any of it, it’s just one of those trivial pleasantries you get at a wedding these days. ‘Oh my look how lovely she looks’, you can hear being on occasion, when if fact chances are they think the entire dress is ghastly. Or ‘look at that, doesn’t the bridesmaids looking stunning!’, while quite clearly they are wearing dresses so otherworldly you’d think clowns had been booked for the event. Some of course would argue that is the point of them; to be the ultimate sacrifice that is expect of best friends; that is they get to look like a twat, so the bride looks ten times better than is physically possible.

The obligatory walk down the isle from the bridesmaid and father linked together in that traditional giving away; I wonder just how many dads actually think ‘thank fuck for that, they aren’t my problem anymore’, I’m sure a few have. Still, the saying of the vows and the exchange is the main thing. The bashful smile, as they look deeply into each other’s eye like they are drawing strength from each other’s very own soul. The final caressing of each other’s hand, as they say the ‘I do’s, as they slip on the precious golden ring and finally become one…

…It’s the ‘does anyone have any reason why’ part, I’m waiting for…


Laura Steel © 2015

The holiday home

I always loved coming to this little hideaway for our little holiday breaks. For the past fourteen years our family always house shared the third from the bridge. Me and my brother always loved playing football on the grass, unless one of us hit the ball into the river or running through the woods behind the houses til dark.

I remember one time we knocked a ball into the far house garden. We took turns daring who should get it. We were told it was never lived in but when we tried to retrieve our ball we could swear we saw movement inside, when we tried looking beyond our reflections in the window.

I recall asking an old man about it a few years ago, he said it hasn’t been lived in for sometime; since he was a child in fact.

Apparently, the story was, a couple used to live there. A young woman use to wait at home for her husband returning from the mill further down the river. She could always be seen riding a blue bike with a wicker basket, when ever she rode into town.

However, one day the husband returned home only to find an empty house; he waited for his wife, even searched everywhere for her, but she never did return…

…I wondered if he meant that blue rusty frame in those bushes me and my brother found in the woods?

Prompts used:

1. The Visitor by Janet Mayled

2. Theme prompt: Reflections on a window

Laura Steel © 2015

First day of work – (2)

An abrupt alarm sounded, it’s irritating pitched scream stopped with an half unconscious hand that had rose aimlessly to destroy it. A nagging morning headache followed Bret around his room as he readied himself for his first official day in security.

Lead by a hovering info-droid, Bret’s induction took form of brief unmemorable walk through the lower residential sector of the mine, dodging mindless dirty faces and other droids, ending with him being shown his desk at the security station and an explanation of all the amenities.

** asked the info-droid in it’s broken mono-tone voice.

“No that’s all.” replied an irritated Bret, as he sat down at his predecessor’s desk. Looking around the room to what will become his second home from now on.

*!* The info-droid acknowledged with the pre-programmed politeness before hovering off.

“So you must be my new partner? The name’s Sarah.” Spoke the female officer rather huskily in front of Bret as he sat down.

“I guess so. I’m Bret.” he replied, as they politely shook hands.

“Alight everyone!” Announced the chief office. Bret looked up at his slightly grizzled and overweight boss. “We have two new officers joining us today…even though I asked for six…not that the company gives a shit. So make ‘em feel welcomed and all that bollocks.” The chief waved off his statement almost as disinterest as he spoke it. “…apart from that…it’s the same thing as usual.” He re-entered his office to the barrage of calls that expected him.

“Come on.” Sarah instructed by nodding to the exit, putting on her slightly worn leather jacket and holster…“Time for work.”


Laura Steel © 2014

Fond Firework Flashback

I stretched my head back with the first whoosh, it stayed there for the rest of the display. With each bang and flash that followed the memories of my youth flooded back; nothing else mattered. Those days are so far behind me now, and yet I remember; I remember clearly how I watched similar patterns stretching across the sky in a rainbow of colours, that heavy nasel smoke that blanketed down, the glowing trails left by sparklers held in gloved hands that would burn into the back of the eyes. It was just like I was ten again.

Now I am here doing the exact same thing as I once did with my father. My ten year old was huddled in front of me, taking the exceitment. I can only imagine she is wearing the exact same face I did when I first saw fireworks for the first time, only she seems to be braving them far better than I did. Funny how history repeats itself in its special little ways. I hope in time when she’s older she gets to experience the same joy I’m feeling now with her own.


Laura Steel ©2014