Friday, October 26, 2007

Prompt 202: If life's a game who do you think is winning?/Theatrical Muse

People are dying. How can anyone consider life a game? We live in a world where children are fighting for their very lives because there isn't food for them to eat. Far too many are orphans, raising younger brothers and sisters because their parents have lost their lives to illnesses that could have been treated were they not so poor that they couldn't afford the medicines they need if they could even reach medical treatment. They have little hope of becoming any more then their parents were because they are too busy struggling to support themselves, and education is just a dream they will never know.

As much as we wish it weren't the case, nothing really changes, the hatreds of the past remain, nature rears it's head and releases her fury, and still the victims fall, innocents who want nothing more than to live their lives in a peace they will never know. Iraq, Palestine, Israel, Afghanistan, North Korea, Darfur, The Congo, Peru, many deaths will it take for someone to notice?

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 174

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Prompt 7.6: So, it has come to this..../Writers Muses

"You'll call me again if you want company?" Valerie turned to look at Luka as he opened the door for her.

"I don't know, maybe." Why didn't she just leave? He could feel his stomach already beginning the slow roll, and he knew within minutes he'd be losing everything in it.

"That's all right, you don't have to decide now, you have my number, I left my card on the table, take care of yourself." Before he could say anything in response she slid her hand around his waist, raised up on her toes and gave him a light kiss.

"I had a good time tonight, and I hope you'll call me again." If she was surprised by his lack of response she didn't show it, and no sooner had he closed the door behind her then he fled to the bathroom.

So, it has come to this. It wasn't bad enough that he had turned to the bottle to hide from the failure his life was becoming.  It wasn't even enough that he had turned away from the values that he had lived by his entire life.  The reminders of how far he had fallen was all his stomach needed to send it over the edge and he sank to his knees before the toilet, holding the bowl until his knuckles whitened.

What would Danijela say it she could see him now?  Would she even recognize the man he'd become? His retching only seemed to worsen as the woman who had held his heart for such a long time claimed her place in his thoughts. How could he have done this to her? To the memory of all she had meant to him?  The very thought of paying a woman for her time was something he would never have imagined himself capable of, yet he had done just that.  How much lower could he go, and who else was he capable of betraying in the process?





Sunday, October 21, 2007

Prompt 201: Talk about something you lost./Theatrical Muse

"Luka, I brought you some coffee." Niko, stopped in the doorway as he spoke, giving his brother a moment to register his arrival before he entered.

"Thanks, you been there long?" Luka accepted the cup, then rubbed wearily at his eyes as Niko took the empty seat beside their father's hospital bed.

"Not too long, has he been awake at all?" His question came quietly, his voice kept low so as not to wake the man at whose side they kept their vigil.

"Not really, he was dreaming, calling for mama." Luka found his eyes staying on their father as he spoke, if only he would show some sign that he knew they were here.

"Why don't you go for a while, give yourself a break, I can stay with Tata." Niko eyed his younger brother, not sure he was liking what he was reading in the other's body language.

"Go call Tomo or Stipe, how long has it been since you talked to them?  I'm sure they'd love to hear from you." As he made the suggestion, the elder of the Kovac sons took a sip of his own coffee.

"You'd like that wouldn't you, Niko?" Even as he started to speak, Luka hated the direction his thoughts were heading.

"What do you mean?"

"You'd like him to wake up and find you here alone, what better way for you to prove yet again that I can't handle things when they get difficult. I'm sure you'd even find a way to tell him I had ran away again if you could." The words came out fueled with a touch of bitterness that had been years in the making.

"I wouldn't do that, Luka, to him or you, not now" Niko's tried not to take the attack personally, the issues that existed between he and his brother were ones they would need to deal with but not now, not while their father's life hung so close to the edge.

"Wouldn't you, Niko?" Luka pushed his chair back suddenly  and got to his feet.

"Luka, you don't want to do this now. I know we've had our differences, and I can't say I'll ever understand or agree with your reasons for leaving after you lost your family but, this is about Tata, nothing else." It was Niko's turn to stand and he moved over to stand in front of his brother.

"He misses you, he's missed you every day since you left, and despite what he might tell you, there are times when it feels to him like he lost you on that day in Vukovar. He'll never tell you that, but, I will, because you need to know how hard it's been for him, and how much having you back here will mean to him." Niko placed his hands on his brother's shoulders.

"Having you back may be the best medicine we can give him, so, regardless of what you might think of me, no, Luka, I wouldn't take that away from him."



Saturday, October 20, 2007

It's hard being away from home...

I spent most of today at the hospital with my father only to come out and find half a dozen messages from Abby on my phone, when I called her back I learned that Joe had been in an accident and she'd spent several hours with him at the hospital. I can't tell you how that made me feel, I should have been there for her, for him, but I'm not. What kind of a father does that make me? I'm torn between loyalty to my father and that I feel to my wife and son, and I wonder which should take precedence. I'm afraid that I'll leave here and return to the States only to have my father die while Im gone. I know my brother Niko is here for him, but, it isn't the same. All those years ago when I was struggling with my own losses it was his strength that I relied on and now I'm thinking of deserting him at a time when he needs me the most. I've been here so long it seems, and already I've missed so much, Joe's first steps, and the independence that comes with that, do I dare risk missing his first word as well? I sent him a book to remember me by, I'm afraid he might forget me, and maybe that in itself is my greatest fear of all. Niko is calling me, I have to go, I just wish I knew what to do.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Prompt 5.1: Large or small, write about how you in some way made a difference./Writers Muses

This was it, after seven years of wishing his life had ended with his family, he would finally be joining them. It was hard to think clearly, the malaria, the days they had gone without food or water, without sleep, if only Chance could be spared the sight of witnessing yet one more death. But, she was alive, her mother was alive, and with any luck they would be allowed to leave once he was dead. 

He couldn't deny it, the truth was, he was ready to die, he had known it when Carter asked him what he should tell Weaver about his going back to County.  He had come to the Congo to escape the failure his life in Chicago had become, at least here he could feel like his life had mattered.  He had told Carter that the vaccines alone were saving hundreds of lives, but it was more then that, it was being needed in ways he didn't feel in Chicago.

As difficult as it was he once more forced himself to his knees, and for a brief moment he was sure he heard the voice of his mother in his ear, coaxing him to remember the prayers of his youth.

"Oce nas, koji jesi na nebesima, sveti se ime tvoje...dodi kraljevstovo tvoje, budi volja tvoja...Kako na nebu tako i na zemlji. Kruh nas svagdanji daj nam danas...I otpusti nam duge nase kado i mi otpustamo deznicima nasim...I ne uvedi nas u napast nego izbavi nas od zia."

He wasn't afraid to die.



Prompt 32 B: Hospital /Canon Muses

"Are you all right?" Gillian asked the question as they entered the elevator, and Luka let his head fall back against the pillow on the gurney.

"Just tired." He cracked an eye open to look at the Canadian nurse.

"We'll get you all settled in your room, and then you can sleep." Without thinking she reached over to lay her hand on his forehead, testing for an increase in the fever that his malaria carried with it.

"Sleeping too much." Even as he voiced the complaint he knew there was little else he could do until he got stronger.

"Is it hard being back?" Gillian wasn't sure what prompted the question, and she immediately regretted it as she caught the look of the ambulance attendants who stood in the elevator with them.

"I don't know, maybe." He raised his arm, only to let it fall across his eyes.

"Luka, look at me," Gillian's tone immediately changed with his action, and she waited for his compliance.

"What's wrong?" She touched his forehead again as he dropped his arm, only to frown as she met his eyes.

"It's just too bright." As if that was enough of an answer, Luka closed his eyes yet again.

"Your fever is spiking again." Before either of them could say anymore the ding of the elevator signaled their arrival at the fifth floor.

"Let's get you settled." Gillian stepped out first, then moved aside to let them push Luka's gurney into the hall, she'd brought him home, whatever came next was up to him.



Sunday, October 14, 2007

October Prompt 005. What do you dream about?/Creative Muses

"Luka...can you come and help me?" At his wife's call, Luka pulled his attention away from the textbook he was reading.

"Danijela, I'm studying...I have a test tomorrow, you know that." Even though he tried to keep his words free of any real irritation at the interruption, he knew he didn't quite succeed.

"And I'm trying to give your son a bath, entertain your daughter, and trying to cook dinner, a little help would be nice.  Jasna, stop playing in that." Danijela's own frustration was growing, the difficulty of the situation they were living under seeming to worsen with each passing day.

"Luka, please?" As his wife's plea's grew more strained, he finally slid his sheet of notes between the pages of his textbook and pushed his chair away from the small desk.

"All right. Jasna, come to tata." He issued the call for his eldest child even before he was out of the chair and was rewarded with a squeal of delight before she appeared from around the corner and launched herself at him.

"You're getting to be too big for that." He issued an exaggerated groan as he caught her and lifted her into the air, an act which only served to fuel the giggles that overflowed from her.

"Luka, it's just a dream." Abby touched her husband's shoulder lightly as she came awake only to realize that he was still asleep.

"It's just a dream" She repeated the words as she brushed her fingers through his hair, easing him closer to consciousness.  When he finally did wake, it was to the wetness of his own tears on his pillow, the memory of those long gone still fresh in his mind and it took him a moment longer be able to do more then lay there with his eyes open.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Abby opened the door slowly, unsure which of the nightmares had made their reappearance to him.

"I don't think so, not now anyway." His voice was quiet, and even without him saying so she knew that he was still back in whatever place his dream had led him.

"You know I'm here if you need me." She ran her hand over his shoulder before finally withdrawing, accepting his nod as the only response he seemed ready to give.

"You can go back to sleep, I'll be fine."  He offered her the reassurance before turning away from her and once more closing his eyes.  If only he believed it himself.




Saturday, October 13, 2007

1.78b Young Girl/Realm of the Muse

Young Girl – Gary Puckett and the Union Gap

Young girl, get out of my mind
My love for you is way out of line
Better run girl,
You're much too young girl

With all the charms of a woman
You've kept the secret of your youth
You led me to believe
You're old enough
To give me Love
And now it hurts to know the truth, Oh,

Beneath your perfume and make-up
You're just a baby in disguise
And though you know
That it is wrong to be
Alone with me
That come on look is in your eyes, Oh,

So hurry home to your mama
I'm sure she wonders where you are
Get out of here
Before I have the time
To change my mind
'Cause I'm afraid we'll go too far, Oh,
Young girl

Stipe nudged Tomo, as he caught Luka's fixed gaze on the table across the crowded coffeehouse.  The three had been friends since childhood, and each knew the others as well as if they had been brothers, a fact that only made what they were seeing now all the more entertaining.

"Watch, he won't even notice." Stipe reached for several sugar packets and after concealing them behind his hand he tore away the top of them.

"You're not." Tomo's words already had the start of a withheld laugh concealed within them.

"Shhh." The other man reached across the table to pour the sugar into Luka's coffee, even as Tomo smothered a laugh behind his hand, and received a kick under the table for the slip.

"Ouch, that hurt." He reached down to rub his shin as he voiced the complaint, making more of the injury then was needed.

"Luka, drink your coffee, Luka." Stipe pushed the cup closer as he tried to draw the darkest of the three's attention back to their table and away from the one that held three teen-aged girls in school uniforms.

"Hmm, oh, yeah." It was all he could do to force his eyes away from the girl that held him transfixed, and he brought the cup to his lips with barely a glance at it, until he spit the coffee back into it.

"What the hell." He shook his head and reached for his glass of water as his friends burst out in hysterics over the success of their prank.

"Why don't you just go talk to her, instead of just sitting here staring at her day after day?" Tomo found it next to impossible to get his laughter under control, despite the glare he was receiving from his friend.

"I can't, not yet." Luka glanced back over to the table of girls, afraid that the actions of the other two might already have drawn undo attention their way.  It was only after he was sure that the girls had not noticed, and in fact were still occupied with their own conversation that he allowed himself to relax and see the humor in his friend's prank.

"How long are you going to wait, it's been over a week already.  Face it Luka, we know you too well, which one is it? It was Stipe's turn to question him and as he did he turned his attention to the trio across the room.

"I'm thinking the one with the short blond hair." Tomo cocked his head slightly as he eyed the three.

"No, not the blond." Luka shook his head, his dimples deepening as he was finally forced to admit what he had been keeping to himself.

"The one with the dark curls." He propped his chin in his palm as he returned his gaze to her again, his mind already beginning to shut out the outside noises as she became his entire focus.

"I've never felt like this before, it's like she's all I can think about." His words grew softer before finally fading into nothingness.

"You're in love, Luka, you may as well accept it and go talk to her." As the oldest of the three of them Stipe decided it was obligation to finally force his friend into action.

"I don't even know her, how can I be in love with her?" Luka's skepticism registered clearly on his face as he expressed his own doubts to what his friend was saying.

"What else are you going to call it?  You can't take your eyes off of her, I'll bet when you can't see her you're still thinking about her, am I right?" Stipe mirrored Kovac's pose, propping his own chin in his palm as he sat across from him.

"You'd better do something quick, they're getting ready to go." Tomo pointed to the girl's table as he caught sight of the sudden movement of them gathering their schoolbooks and bags, in preparation of leaving.

"Tomorrow, I'll talk to her tomorrow." Even as he made the decision, Luka felt his stomach tighten into a knot, what was he going to say to her?  Twenty-four hours wasn't nearly enough time for him to figure it out...


Friday, October 12, 2007

Prompt 200 Photo/Theatrical Muse

"Tata, can you hear me?" It was hard to keep the fear from his voice as he stood at his father's bedside.  Had he always been so small?  There was a part of him even now that wanted to deny the truth of it. This couldn't be the same man who had carried him on his shoulders after a full day of play left him too tired to walk home on his own. It couldn't be the man that he and Niko had bragged about to all the passengers on the train during those times they had been allowed to ride along with him.  He had always seen his father as so alive, when had he gotten so old? 

"Tata?" He brushed his fingers through the man's thinning, grey hair, praying all the while he would open his eyes, if only for a moment. 

"I came back, Tata, I told you I would."  He felt the tears wet his cheek before he even realized he was crying.

"He sleeps a lot, it's the medicines." The voice came from behind him, and he barely had time to turn around before his brother was to him and had pulled him into his arms.

"Welcome home, Luka." Niko kissed his cheeks before releasing him, aware that the other man might not feel comfortable with the act.

"He'll be glad to see you, he's been asking for you. Let's go outside, where we can talk." Niko glanced at his father as he caught his younger brother's hesitancy.

"It'll be all right, he won't wake up for a while. Come on, you can tell me about Abby and little Josip, Tata has been very proud of having a grandson named after him, he tells everyone."   It took more than a little coaxing, but Niko finally got his brother to follow him out of the room and the two men walked down the hall toward the exit.

"How was your flight?  I'm sorry I didn't meet your plane, I didn't want to leave him alone." Niko held the door open as they reached it, letting Luka exit first.

"It was all right, long layover in Frankfurt, but, you can't do anything about that." He gestured to a bench and at a nod from his brother walked over to it.

"Niko, why didn't you call me sooner?" Luka found himself looking past his brother at some birds settling in a nearby tree.

"What difference would it have made?  You couldn't do anything for him, you have your life there, you have your wife, your son.  Luka, for the first time in fifteen years you're beginning to live, Tatamade me promise not to call you." Niko took a seat on the bench as he tried to defend his actions, as difficult as it was.

"You didn't think that maybe that should have been my decision to make" It was hard not to keep the anger from his voice even as he knew it wasn't really anger that he was feeling.

"What would you have wanted me to tell him, Luka? You're the one who decided to leave, no one forced you to go." Niko's words grew colder as he began to tread into the dangerous water's of their past.

"You're never going to let that go are you?" Luka walked a short distance away as he threw the question back at him.

"Do you know how much your leaving hurt him? It wasn't bad enough he lost Danijela and his grandchildren, your leaving made it seem like he'd lost you too." Niko tossed his words back with the intent that they would return some of the pain to his brother that he felt the act had caused to their father.

"Niko, I don't want to get into this here, and certainly not now."  His eyes returned to the birds, and for an instant he almost wished he was one of them if only so that he could fly away and not have to face what he knew was coming.

"You're right, look, I'm sorry, it's been a long day.  Tell you what, why don't you come show me a picture of my nephew, and we'll just pretend I didn't bring it up, okay?" Niko moved to one side of the bench, freeing space for his brother to sit beside him as he offered the apology.

"I guess." Even as he made the concession, he knew the matter was not one that would so easily be laid to rest.  For nearly a dozen years the argument had driven a wedge between them and in all of that time they had ignored it, no more, before he left it would have to be dealt with, they owed that much to their father.



Sunday, October 7, 2007

Prompt 31A. What is your fondest childhood memory?/Canon Muses

My father, Tata,  was a train engineer, when my brother Niko and I were young and on holiday from school, he used to let us go with him. We were so proud of him.  We would take turns sitting on his lap as he drove the train, pretending that we were the engineer ourselves. He would let us wear his hat, and at each of the railway crossings we would pull the chain, sure that nothing could sound as wonderful to our ears as that whistle did. 

When we weren't with our father in the engine, we would run from one end of the train to the other, proudly telling everyone who would listen that it was our father who was the engineer.  Looking back on it now, I'm surprised that we weren't thrown off the train by someone, as wild as we were some days.  We would chase each other from one end of the train to the other, we'd be climbing around in the baggage car or getting under the cook's feet in the dining car looking for hand-outs. Those are the kinds of memories I always hoped my children would know, and while Jasna and Marko never got the chance, I pray that Joe will.


Prompt 30B: Hotel Room/Canon Muses

I'm not sure what made me decide to take a permanent placement in Chicago, up to then I was determined not to allow myself to let anyone get too close, because getting close meant talking about my past, and I knew I couldn't do that.  I wonder how differently things might have gone had Carol not offered her friendship in those early days?  If I had kept the boat and headed south as the weather grew colder as I'd planned from the start, where would I be now?  Even as I ask the questions I know I'll never have the answers.

I accepted the job at County before I had really decided I was ready to allow anyone to get close to me again, the fact I had chose a hotel as my place of residence was the first clue to that.  I tried to defend my choice, it was a good deal, trading my services to the hotel's guests saved me on rent. Their laundry service and the hotel restaurant were just two more benefits, or at least that's what I told myself.  In truth, it was just another way for me to keep my distance.  No one gets hurt when you keep your distance.


October Prompt: 06 Photo/Pumpkin Path/Artistic License

"What do you think Joe, ready to go Trick or Treating?" Luka Kovac adjusted the hood on his young son's monkey costume as the boy kept himself amused with his tail.

"Pretty funny isn't it, too bad Mama had to work, maybe we can go see her when we're out, would you like that? Go see Mama?" As was his habit when he was alone with Joe, Luka found himself carrying on the conversation with his son in Croatian. His answer was immediate as the boy broke out in a wide grin and reached for him.

"Ok, monkeyboy, time to go?" Scooping up first his son, then his keys and finally Joe's treat bag and the banana that completed the costume, he settled the child in his arm and headed for the door. As they stepped outside the apartment they were immediately greeted by the sights and sounds of the neighborhood's children as they ran up and down the sidewalk, their goodie bags clutched tightly in hand.

"What do you think, Joe? See the pumpkins? You've never seen anything like this have you?" He watched his son's reaction closely, as they walked down the steps and joined the other Trick or Treaters and their parents on the sidewalk, the experience a first for him as well. A year ago he would never have thought this moment possible, and now, they both had so much to look forward to, if only Abby could be sharing it with them. He let the thought go as they turned to walk up the pumpkin lined walkway.

"Ready to get some candy, Joe?"

Saturday, October 6, 2007

3.6 Write about a relative you get along with the least/Writers Muses

There was a time when my brother Niko and I were inseparable, from the moment we woke up to the time we went to bed, unless we were at school, we were in each other's company. It's funny how much you can forgive as a child, someone does you wrong, you trade a few words, a few blows, and it's all over with.  You may say you hate someone today, but by tomorrow you're back to being the best of friends, or that's how it was with us.  Until that day, that day that changed things forever.

It was after Vukovar, after I'd lost my family and come back to my father's home after being in the camp. Nothing was the same for me anymore, and as much as they wanted me to be the same person I had been when I'd left, I knew I couldn't be.  He had died in Vukovar with my family, and nothing they could do or say could change that. It wasn't that he didn't try, he would coax me out to visit old friends, to sit in the cafe, or to drink in the bar, but it wasn't me there, it was just the shell of who I'd become.

In the end I knew I had to leave, and that was the beginning of the end for us, he called me a coward, he claimed I was running away, maybe he was right.  All I knew was if I stood any chance for a life it had to be some place other then where I found myself surrounded by all I had lost. He told me I was being selfish, maybe he was right about that as well, but, what else could I do?  If I stayed I was lost, my only hope for a future was in leaving,  as painful as it was. So, I left, I left them all to save myself, and he's never forgiven me.


October Prompt 1) Love at first sight/Ineffable Fandom

As he looked into her eyes, it was still hard for him to believe they were finally married, they had waited two years for this moment and now it was here. Looking into her eyes he couldn't help but wonder if there were any woman more beautiful then she was at this very moment.

"I love you Danijela Kovac." He lowered his head, brushing his lips against hers as he whispered the words to her.

"I love you husband." There was no mistaking the slight tremble in her voice as she lay under him, her fear at the newness of it all still outweighing the expectation of what was to come.

"You are so beautiful." He threaded his fingers through the curls along the side of her face as he spoke.

"I knew from the moment I saw you that I wanted you for my wife." He kissed her mouth again before moving to the hollow of her throat.

"Ah..." She released a slight gasp, though she could already feel her body beginning to respond to his attentions in ways she had never known it could.

"You could not have known before we even spoke." She ran her fingers through his hair, pulling him closer with an accompanying moan.

"I knew, you were the most beautiful girl there, even in your uniform." He released a quiet laugh before placing the next of his kisses between her breasts.

"Then why did it take you more then a week to even ask me to sit with you for coffee, hmm?" Her soft giggle joined his, the give and take continuing as the young couple explored each other's bodies. They had waited two years to be man and wife, two years to be together, they were in no hurry for this night to end.