A book of short shorts
"The rose is a cup full of humble fragrance
Touching the air with subtle fingers"
Jorge Carrera Andrade--Ecuadorian Poet
New and old some of my short short stories are in this humble book.
""People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering."
|Bobby Lewis was my first assignment after I received my wings. My mentor Gabriel said, “We don’t assign newbie angels to speed-car racers, but Angel Alexis, your credentials and test results are enough proof to your mettle. Let’s now visit your ward.”
A speed car racer? What did I know about racing cars? Nada, zilch, nil, zero. Besides this was my first assignment. Why didn’t I get a nice little female child with a growing-up problem? But this assignment was an honor, and I wouldn’t dare argue with an archangel.
I nodded. “Yes, sir.”
“Drop the sir. I’m Gabe to you, and I’ll call you Alex.”
“Yes, sir.” Oops! Luckily, Gabe just laughed. “No need to worry. You don’t need the lingo or the info. You’ll have access to Bobby’s feelings. That’s all you need.”
Easy to say for Gabe!
He continued. “You’ll support Bobby. Very gently. Humans have to make their own choices. Very rarely do we interfere. Remember Alex, this is Bobby’s last race.”
“Oh, he’s going to live. His life plan is different.”
Bobby was visiting Chet Robinson Jr., his friend, at the Holiday Inn across from the tracks. Chet Sr. was a racing icon but not much of a father, and Chet Jr.’s greatest need was his father’s approval, Gabe said.
We hovered over the two, listening.
“Dad says, if I don’t win this one, not to face him again,” Chet Jr. said. “He says he’ll cut me off for good. It isn’t that I didn’t win before, but only in the qualifying rounds. Never in the biggies. Dad says he’s had it with my incompetence; he’s had it with people insinuating that the fruit fell far from the tree.”
“Just do your own thing, Chet. Who cares what people say? But I bet you’ll win. You’ll get the trophy. Believe in yourself, man.”
I looked at Gabe. “Will these two race each other?”
“Not according to the present schedule, but they will. Bobby’s team will make him replace someone else.”
And it happened just as Gabe said, with Bobby replacing another racer who came down with the flu.
Before the race, I watched Bobby and Chet in the racer’s lounge.
“I hate you, Bobby,” Chet said. “Dad thinks you’re better than me.”
“Get outa here, Chet! No one’s better than anyone. All depends on the engines, the track, whatever. Gosh!”
Empathy! That’s what I felt Bobby was feeling. If they weren’t two males and the culture permitted it, he would go embrace Chet and rock him in his arms. Nice!
The race began. I hovered over Bobby’s car. At the beginning, Trevor Hunter’s car was ahead with Marco Ryan at his tail. Trevor hit the wall and the car went up in flames. I felt Bobby’s desire to rescue the driver, but he was driving inside and crossing over was out of the question. Trevor was okay, but Bobby didn’t know it, and he kept feeling bad. I whispered to his ear, “Trevor's fine. He’s getting rescued by the crews.”
Bobby looked at his mirror and took an easy breath. At that instant, Marco’s car malfunctioned and skidded in front of Bobby’s. “Watch out!” I warned. Bobby weaved around Marco and raced ahead.
Now, Bobby was in the lead, and I was cheering him on. At that moment, I wanted him to win probably more than he did. We had just entered the last lap when I heard his thoughts. Chet’s in the back of me. He has to get out of his runner-up slump.
“Bobby, do the right thing!” I whispered, not quite knowing what the right thing could be.
Bobby revved the engine yards before the next turn. His car skid into the green, letting other racers pass him by.
At the end, Bobby applauded when Chet held up his trophy and faced the cheering crowds.
But from our side, Bobby was the real winner, and I was really proud of him.
Bobby decided to go back to school and become a scientist so he could help people. What kind of a scientist? Just wait and see.
What happened with the Robinsons? Well, that’s another angel's story.
|After a major sale at Target, cement and plastic gnome statuettes crowded the yards on South Oaks Road. Next, jungle gardens descended like an epidemic, and moss began creeping all over the patios, the pavement, on and in between the stones, up the tree trunks and killing the grass. It hung from the branches and jumped to rooftops and the sides of the houses.
At first, the neighborhood looked like a fairyland to Brooke. Sunlight rarely penetrated through, and shade helped cool the air on hot summer days.
After some time, however, people started complaining about the humidity and the wetness, and how their cars skidded coming out of the driveways. No matter what they did, people could not remove the stubborn moss. The most experienced gardeners and landscaping companies were useless, also.
Why is it people are blind to the beauty and intricacy of shade? thought Brooke. But after a while, when the dampness started affecting her health and her knees gave way with arthritis, she too began to feel uncomfortable.
During the next meeting of the neighborhood association, Brooke raised her hand to speak.
"As a former research assistant, I believe, we should examine the beginning or the conception of things. As I think back, before the moss, we put gnome statuettes in our gardens. I suggest we remove them."
"Hogwash! I never heard such bullshit in all my life. Don't tell me an imaginary creature, a statuette, much less, is creating this catastrophe," answered the association president.
"Let's get rid of the gnomes. You may not believe it, but what can go wrong if we try? No other remedy has helped," said Emma, Brooke's friend and the secretary of the association.
People discussed other solutions, but they couldn't arrive at a decision by the end of the meeting. Still, next morning, most of the gnomes were out on the curb for the garbage trucks to haul them away.
Brooke had placed three gnomes on the lawn, one cement, two plastic. She pulled and pushed the heavy cement statuette, almost losing her footing on the slippery moss in the process, but somehow, she managed to carry it to the curb.
Her plastic gnomes were light enough. She took one of them to the curb but didn't want to throw away the third one. How could she? Her mother, a month before she died, had given it to her. That gnome she carried into the basement. Then, for the upcoming church sale, she prepared a cake and put it in the oven.
"Hmmm! Smells heavenly,"
Who was talking? Brooke looked around but couldn't see anyone. Thinking, Emma was paying her a visit, she opened the kitchen door to the living room.
"Oh, no!" She gasped, looking around. Moss had covered the rug and was creeping up the walls, the couch, chairs, tables...
"Don't you like it?' The door to the basement creaked open. The gnome, combing his black beard with his long fingers, stood in the hallway. He laughed and shook his red pointy red hat, then stopped to suck on his pipe.
Something had to be making Brooke hallucinate all this, although she didn't recall going overboard with Jose Cuervo lately.
Before she could answer the gnome, moss began climbing up her legs, her torso, her head. Her body felt damp inside and out. Now moss was everywhere, and Brooke had become part of it. Darkness settled slowly, and her thoughts stopped.
The gnome danced around his new creation, and shrieked. "A woman of moss, fantastic! Such an idiotic species, her kind!"
|Mark is running. Running for his life. He cannot control the inhale and exhale of his breathing like that of a marathoner. He has no steady cadence to his pace. His footsteps sound as if they are tap-tap-tapping like a blind person's cane.
He thinks: I wish I had stronger legs. Two legs aren't enough. I wish I had a thousand legs. I wish I were a centipede. A centipede with lots of legs. 100, even 300 of them.
He wishes he were a centipede so he could clump up with other centipedes and hide. He wishes he were a centipede so he could soften the pounding of his heart. He feels terribly vulnerable as he races over the bare land, zigzagging around the cacti. He even jumped over a snake. He couldn't tell which kind. A diamondback? Maybe, but nothing happened. Yet.
He berates himself for being stingy, for trying to save gas money. He curses at his luck, at Aldi's market, at the community cork board in Aldi's, but most of all, for answering the ad on that board, which said, You drive your car, I pay for the gas the entire way. From Oklahoma City to San Antonio. If anyone's going that way and looking for a companion, call: (405) 297-6351.
He called. The dude's name was Ernesto. They met once. They shook hands. He seemed warm, friendly. He said, "Eight-hour drive. Better with a friend through the desert. Just sold my car. I have an uncle in San Antonio. I'll work in his garage."
I believed him, even liked him. Considered continuing the friendship after the trip. Stupid, stupid, stupid!
Ernesto slept half an hour after Oklahoma City. Then he woke up, yakked some, and took out a bottle of Tequila and a paper cup from his small bag that he kept under his feet and sipped. Actually, it wasn't sipping but bottoms up all the way.
Somewhere in north Texas, they stopped for food and gas and started on the highway again. Ernesto crushed the paper cup and tossed it out of the window. Almost immediately, a black and white Texas highway Patrol car appeared with its lights flashing and siren screaming.
With no visible panic, Ernesto took out a pistol from his bag and placed it on his lap under his folded jacket. Mark frowned but looked away, then pulled to the shoulder of the road to wait for the officer in his khaki uniform with the star-badge on his blue tie. No other car was in sight.
The officer scolded them for littering, and when he was about to write a ticket, he saw the open bottle of Tequila on the passenger's side when Mark leaned to get the registration from the glove compartment. Ernesto admitted he was the one drinking.
The officer ordered them to put the Tequila bottle in the trunk. Ernesto draped his jacket over his left arm, covering the gun under it, and took the bottle with his right hand. They both got out of the car, since the trunk's eject button was stuck, and Mark had to use his key. Ernesto threw the bottle inside. Mark noticed a sawed-off shotgun next to Ernesto's duffel bag. The officer had to have seen it, too, for he was standing next to Mark.
Why didn't I check when this dude was putting his bag in the trunk?
"What the...? What's this? Whose is it?" The officer pointed to the shotgun.
"Mine," said Ernesto..
"This may all be innocent, but....Damn! Just the day my partner's out. Gotta take you fellas in." He took out his phone to call.
Suddenly, the shots...the officer on the ground, dying. He had no time to reach for his gun.
Mark can't even comprehend how fast Ernesto fired the shots, how quickly Mark buckled and tossed him the keys...such a disgrace!
The threats still ring in his ears as he runs, ashamed of his own voice, of his begging Ernesto, "I won't snitch on you!"
Lucky! Ernesto missed the shot, and then, Mark ran. Ernesto has the car and the guns now.
Mark imagines hearing Ernesto behind him. He's too scared to look back.
So now, Mark is running, running for his life, running like a cheetah but wishing he were a centipede with a hundred legs. A centipede, rolling together with other centipedes of many legs, reddish and invisible on the red desert sand.
|Cold air slapped Adrian’s face as soon as he opened the cabin door of Ice Marshall, a painstakingly equipped oceanic-expedition boat, tiny but sturdy enough to slink its way through the Arctic ice.
Adrian's usually cheerful features were cloaked by a frown and tight lips.“Masts down, secure everything on deck!” he shouted. Although the sea was calm, the readings from the instruments had disturbed him. Trouble’s lurking ahead, he thought, as the crew rushed to lower the masts and haul the equipment inside with the efficiency of worker ants.
The mission was ordered after NASA satellites had pinpointed an ice-island, massive as a mountain, that the currents were driving toward northernmost Canada and threatening populated towns and shipping routes. Ice Marshall's task was to implant gauging and meteorological equipment into the ice, so its route could be predicted accurately.
Less than a half an hour later, ice floes appeared and fog started to descend. Soon enough, the boat had to inch its way through the ice-choked waters.
Suddenly, the fog intensified and ice-packs squeezed tightly against the vessel. Fields of ice turned blue around the ship, then changed to violet, green and subtle tints of other colors..
“Ice-island at starboard!” Someone shouted from the deck. For a second or two electronics sparked, then fizzled, but came back.
“We found it.” Adrian whistled. “But it’s difficult to go near it in the fog.”
A mile off the starboard bow, a gargantuan, floating ice-mountain appeared, radiating color like a new-born supernova, glowing from its internal crystallized frigidity.
“This ice-mountain has voice,” Scott Mitchell, the logistics support engineer, said.
True enough, the ice against the ship crackled, moaned, snapped, and roared. At times, it even wailed and cried.
“Let me go in the landing-craft with a couple of men, Mark and Eddy maybe, and see what we can do,” Eric, the geospatial analyst, offered. “The fog is lifting little by little.”
“That could be,” Adrian said. “Wait a little while longer until it clears completely."
Antonia Ryan, the blonde with the computerized binoculars-a biogeoinformatics expert, pointed to the side of the ice. “The ice and the snow seem contaminated; it’s even visible to the bare eye, look.”
Scott peeked out of the window, then took the binoculars from Antonia. “I see what you mean. It has a different, pinkish, brownish color at the base.”
“That shows contamination, which means living beings are on this mountain..”
“What the heck!” Adrian murmured, looking at the screen in front of him. “Bio-Spectrometer sensors detect life inside the ice.”
“I don’t get it. Inside? Could it be on top?”
“No, Antonia. Inside. Deep down. Hard to believe.”
“It can be the polar bears on top,” Eric said. “They must be stranded.”
Adrian pointed to the computer. “No, it’s in there, inside, according to this. Two aircrafts landed and took off several times from the top already. I’m wiring the data to the institute. They’ll know if this is an instrument malfunction.”
There was, however, no instrument malfunction. When repeated, the computer again detected life inside that mountain of ice. By this time, the fog had lifted and the scientists piled in the landing-craft and reached a small drumlin on the ice-island..
As soon as they waddled out of the craft, the ice started rumbling. “It must be an underground volcano,” Scott said.
“Back on the raft, quick!” Adrian cried. “We are clearing out. I can’t risk lives and expensive equipment.”
They rushed back to the landing-craft. As soon as they were halfway between the glacier and the expedition vessel, the ice-mountain cracked lengthwise and a claw of ice scraped and pushed the crack fully open.
The scientists gasped in shock. The creature howled.
The dragon-like ice-monster stepped toward the craft. Eric pushed the button to rev the craft toward the boat. His fingers and his whole body shook as if electrified.
Breaking News-Reuters: Ice Marshall, the oceanic studies expedition boat has been lost near the Sunalmuk Glacier, at the Arctic Circle. Seven men and two women scientists plus a crew of six were on the boat. Several aircrafts and search parties have been sent after the communications were interrupted with the vessel. So far, the search has been unsuccessful.
|“If I could, I would desert this country until the elections are over. If I could I would find me a place to live where politicians and money do not exist.”
I was carping in total sincerity as Jonathan Mage listened and smiled. Mage was a brilliant man, more original than academic, and he liked to ask questions in the form of statements that made a person think. Maybe for that reason alone, I called him Mage, not Jonathan like other people did.
At this time, Mage and I were walking in his spacious gardens beside a creek rising from tender-colored hillocks of wild flowers. An enchanting place indeed where alabaster statuettes lined the sides of the pathways and glass structures reflected shafts of sunlight on the tree-shadowed spaces. I visited Mage as often as I could, some for the conversation and our time-tested friendship and more for his magical garden, quiet and relaxing. Here, I became a wandering tourist who found, in the same place, a different panorama at each visit.
“You sound like you really want to find such a place,” Mage said.
“Yes,” I said. “No shabbier place exists than this country.”
“The view depends on from where you look at it. From where we each stand, we see different angles of things.”
“Is that why I see different things each time I visit you?”
“Partly,” said Mage. “Gardens have a way of replenishing themselves. But if you really want to leave this country…”
“You know, I’ve traveled a lot. There's no country on earth without money or politicians.”
“Hmmm.” He looked pensive for a few minutes. Then he said, “So you’re sure you’ve had it and you want a different place?”
“Definitely,” I said, as we stopped by a creek to listen to its cheerful flicker. Several yards ahead, tufts of yellow flowers circled a fountain glistening under the happy softness of the sun.
“Let me show you something, you really haven’t seen before,” Mage said. “But you have to go there alone. I need to make a phone call.”
“Sure, no problem,” I said, excited about this new thing he wanted to show me. Yet I wondered if I could find my way through the maze of the Jonathan-Mage Estate by myself.
“See that glass archway? It leads to a glass tunnel held up with steel beams. Walk through it and explore the other side. You’ll find a place totally different than what you have seen so far.”
“How exciting! Thanks,” I said, walking toward the archway.
“Be careful not to break the glass,” Mage yelled after me. “If you do, you may not find your way back.”
I stopped before walking through the tunnel. It was dim and devoid of vegetation inside, except for the sight of greenery outside the structure. Such a humble mise-en-scène after Mage’s breath-taking gardens, I thought, but walked in, carefree, toward the other end. At the last step, however, I slipped and banged against a glass panel.
The glass came down and crumbled into small granular chunks. I rushed to the other side, in case something else broke and hit me on the head.
The view here was barren. The red clay surface had smooth mounds here and there but no vegetation, not even a cactus. I felt thirsty but found no water whatsoever. Not even a drop.
I searched for some life, some person, some animal, anything. But no. This was a nothing place, except for the red sticky clay that covered my shoes. I tried to find the archway, but it had vanished.
“Mage! Mage!” I yelled, but he didn’t hear me.
I walked around for days trying to find my way back. If I said days, there were no days and no nights. The place was still, all the same. No shades, no bright sun, no rain, no one to talk to. Just the same dim light throughout over the red clay surface.
I sat down on the sticky clay and waited for my death, thinking, I wish I were back home, despite the money, despite the politicians. I wish I were back home among friends, among people whether I like them or not.
“Oh, here you are! Come, I’ll take you back.”
I looked up at Mage. “Why did you leave me here for so long? It has been days.” I complained.
“I only made a phone call, five minutes the most. Oh, I see what you mean. It’s because of the environment. Time has a way of elongating itself here,” he said.
“Sorry about the glass,” I said sheepishly. “Mage, why did you send me here? Really?”
“Because you wanted the experience passionately, my friend. And I believe, passion denied can destroy a person.”
Oh, that Mage! Now you know why I visit here so often.
|Amanda woke to the click of the key at the front door. A prickle of awareness made her jump upright from the bed. Maximilian!
Wasn’t he supposed to be out of state, building walls for a new shopping center?
On her bed, James, the man she had met at the political rally last night, lay snoring. Amanda crossed her arms over her naked body in sheer terror, and for a good reason. She had always feared Maximilian’s full-blown case of sick jealousy.
Maximilian, her husband.
Amanda had married Maximilian because he liked to take long walks with her, and whatever she wanted he provided. She had loved him at first, feeling she was always in the right place with Maximilian, but after a year and a half, Amanda became bored stiff with that right place, because Maximilian had an insatiable desire for her and didn’t respect her space.
Amanda had met Maximilian while she was searching for her lost dog, a cute, lovable black mutt with white fur on head. She was walking around the neighborhood, calling the dog’s name when Maximilian had approached her. “Did you call me?” he had asked, smiling.
“Is your name Max?” Amanda had replied. “I’m looking for my dog, Max.”
“You might call me that. I am Maximilian, at your service.”
Max, the dog, was not found, but Maximilian, the husband, was. Recalling her dog always made Amanda miss the way Max flicked his ears, especially at food smells: onions, sizzling oil, fried chicken, meats, barbecue…
The bedroom door banged open. Maximilian stood at the doorstep, his face puffed red with rage.
Half awake, James sat up in bed.
Her panic rising, Amanda’s throat constricted and her limbs began to quiver. Her stomach cramped. She felt a swell of nausea.
But Maximilian dropped to the floor, gasping in pain, his muscles growing large and strong, his body shifting. His nails grew thin and pointy. Fur sprung up on his hands, covering his head, then his body.
Amanda screamed in recognition. “Max!”
Max rose on all fours growling, shook his body, and howled. Then he leaped on the bed and tore James apart, limb by limb.
Next, blood dripping from his fangs, he turned to Amanda…
|Being the deputy in Lewistown had its perks. Sonny could dress just about any old way he liked. Only on official days and in parades he wore the uniform. Today, he had on his denims with the shirt open at the collar, although it was mid-winter, and his cowboy boots with the fancy curlicue designs etched into the leather. His sheepskin, tan and white fleece jacket hung on the hook on the wall.
Sheriff Jim Evans pushed the door ajar from the outside, sticking his head through the opening. Wiggling his bushy eyebrows, he said, “Hey Sonny, when are you going to take a look at the complaint zone?”
“At night, Sheriff. Like we talked earlier. Night’s when things are supposed to happen, right?”
“Use your phone for backup. If you run into something nasty, don’t act the hero.”
Sonny opened his mouth, then closed it. No use telling the Sheriff what he thought. It would only extend the empty talk. And empty talk it was. What had Sheriff said? The Complaint Zone. Leave it to Jim Evans to turn a fly into a elephant. Nothing ever happened in Lewistown, and the complaint zone was the tiny parking lot—that could barely hold twenty cars--behind the boarding house and Dimitri’s Diner. Actually, only the four front tables were the diner. After ten p.m., the entire store changed into the town-bar.
The complaint had come from the two newcomers, a husband and wife, staying at the boarding house while they took care of some official business. They had called in the morning to report hearing gunshots four nights in a row.
“Gunshots, my foot!” Sonny murmured by himself. Everyone owned rifles in Lewistown. There was deer and geese to hunt, black bears to chase, other varmint to get rid of. Granted this location was the middle of the town, but no matter.
At 9:30 p.m., Sonny unlocked the bottom drawer of the desk and took out the 12-gauge Remington and the Winchester, and after loading and putting extra shells for each, he placed them in his gym bag. He zipped the bag and patted the small pistol on his belt holster. Then he took his jacket off the hook and exited the station.
He drove past the parking lot behind the diner and the boarding house and parked his Jeep a few yards ahead in front of Neil Buchman’s.
He walked up and down the street, waiting. Soon enough, a shot rang in the air, then a few more. Sonny took the Remington out of the bag and cocked it. The one on his belt was for show. It didn’t work right anyway.
At the back door of Dimitri’s, with the light coming from the street lamps, he glimpsed a tall, young man who kept shooting at Dimitri’s metal backdoor.The young man held, with his both hands, a double-barrel, semi-automatic pistol.
Sonny called out. “Hold your horses, Bobby. Why the shootin’?”
Bobby answered, slurring his speech. “I’m vetoing the sign here. I asked nicely but they won’t take it off.”
Sonny had seen the sign before, but he hadn’t made anything of it. The sign said:
No urinating at the door or the wall.
Take your business elsewhere.
Sonny shook his head, grinning. All those guns and nothing. But then it was Lewistown. Anything could happen, though nothing ever happened.
The phone rang in the middle of the night.
"Curtis," my boss's voice boomed. "Factory fire. Jefferson-Arms is on fire. The story is yours. The camera crew will meet you there."
Where Jefferson-Arms now stood, there used to be a wheat field. I recalled how Dad used to take me there, 'cause Farmer Jones was his friend. Dad used to say Jones used to be the kindest folk around these parts, but the pressures had turned him hard. As I drove I remembered Dad chatting with Jones while I glimpsed the vast fields of wheat smooth and silken, yellowing in the sun. I enjoyed watching the wheat, in the richest shade of gold, as it rippled in the wind. "Bone meal" Jones used to say. "I always mix bone in soil."
Jones' house was a little red cottage, always freshly painted, for paint is what Jones did on good days in winter months. He was a hard-working man. Never stopped. That was until they found him dead among the wheat with a gunshot to his head. Who'd done it, a mystery. If people knew a thing or two, they shut up, and the case remained open up until today.
Dad thought hard-living killed him. What he meant by that, I still can't tell.
Folks said Jones was killed because he wouldn't sell. After him, the big guys made his wife sell the farm. In a year or two, Jefferson-Arms replaced the wheat fields, and where the house used to stand became part of the parking lot.
With Jefferson-Arms in the county, farmhands turned to factory workers, but they were spooked. Rumors circulated that Jones's ghost haunted the place.
Our taping started as soon as I arrived at the scene. Breaking News, the station announced us. There was too much noise--fire crackling, folks yelling. Sound guys could hardly make out my talk even with my special mike. After a couple of intro sentences, I signaled, and the camera shifted to the fire. Then I turned around to take in the disturbing sight myself.
The place was cordoned off. Several firefighting companies were rushing in from the neighboring counties. The fire rose high above into the night sky. Under the thick smoke, the factory burned in yellow flames with a tinge of crimson.
Then I saw him. Farmer Jones. Or I thought I saw him. It was just an insignificant split second, but Farmer Jones's face looked at us from inside the blaze. It wasn't only me, though. Lots of folks swore by it that Jones was there inside the flames, grinning.
Prompt : Wheat
|Oranniel, the serpent, lifted its head, levitated off the ground, and sped off through the pink clouds. Carrie Davis clutched Jessica's claws and screamed, "Don't leave me, Oranniel!"
How could Carrie be away from her serpent? She wouldn't know what to do, where to go in this strange world.
Oranniel's voice echoed inside Carrie's mind telepathically. "Jessica will take care of you."
Carrie sat on the bench near Jessica and closed her eyes, letting her memories rush in like the tides, almost toppling her over and tugging her back to the times when, as a volunteer on Earth, she had warred against greed, cruelty, and short-sightedness.
During her youth, Carrie and her family had lived on the beach, the only beach that was left on earth. Every summer she walked the beach in search of turtle nests, fighting emaciated wild raccoons and limping ghost crabs. She used to lay her ear to the ground, wondering what the babies were doing down there inside the sand. When the nests hatched, the sight of tiny grey babies trying to make their way to the sea thrilled her.
Then big business had taken over, and she had fought corrupt, influential politicians, powerlines, and the lights that disrupted the lives of the loggerhead babies.
She recalled the last loggerhead that had laid her eggs. By that time, after losing all her family members to pollution-based diseases, she had become an old woman who could hardly breathe in a world where, with only a strip of sand left, no more turtles survived.
On that last day, she was hobbling along by the beach, lamenting the smoke-colored clouds and the charcoal sea. She suddenly spied a single trail of tracks, and her heart began to pound. Next, she heard the turtle's scratching at the dirty sand.
There was no moon in the tainted sky. Since the power had failed again, Carrie could only see what her tiny flashlight pointed at. She blinked, not believing her eyes. A dark, large object dragged its shell against the sand, letting sand grains fly about. A loggerhead was digging in the ground in an attempt to camouflage her nest.
Was it possible that any sea creatures were left in this dying planet?
The turtle had ceased to move. Carrie crouched, waiting. She felt cold sweat dripping inside her shirt. The turtle would never make it back to the sea. Her offspring would never survive in a planet damned and forgotten by the positive forces of nature.
Then the turtle moved. The light from Carrie's flashlight illuminated the area right beside her and the turtle with the rich mahogany color of her carapace and the barnacles affixed to her shell. The turtle stopped, lifted her head, and made a strange guttural hissing sound. Her large, oval eye met Carrie's gaze in a magical moment of bonding.
Carrie said, "I tried. I'm so sorry." The turtle moved her head up and down.
Beyond belief! An unspoken connection had formed between species.
The loggerhead started crawling again. Watching her flippers dig deep into the sand to claw her way back into a spoiled, grimy sea upset Carrie immensely. The turtle would not survive this pollution. "No, God, no!" she moaned.
That was the exact moment when Oranniel appeared. He wrapped himself around the loggerhead and lifted her up to the sky.
Then, the serpent came back for Carrie, to take her away, and at this corner of the universe, the old woman Carrie used to be became history. "Time warps differently through space," was the explanation for her regained youth.
Jessica waved her spiny crest and looked at Carrie's beautiful, young form. "You are getting devoured by those memories again. You'll get through this, Carrie. You'll find out how important you are to the future of your species and to the Caretta. That's what the loggerheads were called officially, right?"
"Yes," Carrie said. "The scientists on earth had named the species that."
"No wonder, your name is Carrie. Carrie, Caretta. Synchronicity of the universe. You know you were rescued because you fought to save the loggerheads."
"Those babies in the sand will die," said Carrie mournfully.
"No, they won't. Oranniel went for them. He'll take them to a secluded sea with a beach on this planet, where their mother is waiting. We have faith in Carretta's resilience, and in yours. We will settle you on that beach. It is the replica of what you remember from your childhood."
"You are re-creating the earth, aren't you? Like Noah in the scriptures."
"We're saving as many species as we can, but only the worthy ones of the homo sapiens, so such a universal tragedy that befell your earth does not happen again.".
Prompt : Turtle
|“It will be all right, Sammy. We’ll fix it up in no time,” Dr. Attwater said to the frantic eight-year old with a large gash on his arm. “You mustn’t move until I am done, okay?”
“Noo, noo,” the little boy screamed, attempting to jump off the table, but Miranda, the nurse, held on to him as the boy’s mother wriggled in her seat.
Attwater turned to her. “Mrs. Cummins, can you help us? Sammy needs his mommy here.” Then, he took the boy’s other arm gently and looked into his dark-blue eyes filled with tears and panic. “We'll sew it up. I’m just going to spray your arm so you won’t feel the stitches. Just a spray. Okay?"
Mrs. Cummins stepped to the other side of the table and patted the boy’s sweat-sodden blond hair. “I’m here. Don’t you worry!” she said, eyeing the nurse who was now taking a green bottle from another table by the wall.
“No, not that one, Miranda,” Attwater said. “Bring the Ethyl-Chloride. The brown bottle with the blue label.” Then he grasped the boy’s hand, as he sprayed the refrigerant on the wound. “Sammy, you know, your name reminds me of Samson. Do you know who Samson was?”
“I don’t care!” But the boy had stopped screaming now.
“Samson was the strongest, bravest man, and I’ll tell you a story, if you just keep still for a few minutes. Okay?”
Attwater fit the tiny curved needle into the jaws of the needle holder, reminding himself that each suture had to be placed precisely the same distance apart from the cut edge..
“Once upon a time, there was a shoemaker who didn’t have enough leather to make a shoe. With what little material he had, he sewed a tiny pair of shoes and left them on his bench at night.”
Attwater tied the first knot not too tightly, until the edges were apposed, and he continued with the story.
“The next morning, he saw that the tiny shoes he had made were gone. In their place stood the most exquisite pair of shoes, sewn perfectly with even stitches. He sold that pair of shoes, but the money he made was only enough for food. So he just bought a pizza pie and went home.”
Attwater viewed his handiwork, after tying the last knot and cutting the thread close to the knot. Perfect! These were the most meticulous sutures of his life.
“Is that all?” Sammy asked, while Miranda applied the dressing and wiped off the moisture from the boy’s brow..
“Your stitches are done,” Attwater said. “Do you want to hear the rest of the story?”
“Yes,” Sammy nodded.
“The next morning, the shoemaker found two pairs of shoes. Then, the morning after that, a few more. Each morning the shoes multiplied. The shoemaker became a rich man, selling all those shoes. His wife said, “Let’s stay awake one night, and learn who's helping us.” So they hid themselves in a closet and waited.
“At midnight, two elves, carrying a bag of tools, climbed on the workbench. They tapped and stitched, and tapped and stitched, and made those perfect shoes.
“To thank the elves, the shoemaker and his wife baked cookies and bought tiny clothes. The next night, they hid again and watched the elves jump up and down with delight, enjoying the cookies and their new clothes. And they all lived happily ever after.
“Sammy, you have been very brave like Samson. On your next appointment, I’ll tell you another story, okay?”
Sammy nodded, smiling.
After Sammy and Mrs. Cummins left, Miranda said, “That wasn’t the whole story was it?”
Dr. Attwater grinned. “No, I couldn’t tell a little boy the elves didn’t show up, could I?”
Miranda laughed. “For sure, doctor, you’re nicer than the Grimm Brothers.”
|Liza Thompson, the hypnotist, glanced at the papers in front of her then looked straight at the patient fidgeting on the sofa. Irene was a financial advisor and estate planner, and her outward appearance reflected her standing. Her dark hair was streaked with blonde and pulled back with a navy chiffon bow at the nape of her neck. Liza wondered how the bow didn’t tangle with the oversized gold earrings and the clasp of Irene’s showy pendant. The glitz, however, was toned down by her grey wool suit and the white silk blouse.
“In this report, Dr. Allen says you suffer from Siderodromophobia, that is train phobia, related to Hodophobia, the fear of travel. To get to the bottom of this fear, he is suggesting we regress you back to a time when your fears might have set in so deeply.”
Obviously restless and uncomfortable, Irene rubbed her hands together. “I understand. I have to drive by the railroad tracks on the way to work every day. Just seeing the tracks gives me the jitters. Once or twice, I thought I was having a full-blown panic attack. I know this is not normal.”
Liza smiled. “Let’s see what we can do. I’ll tape our session so we can review it later.”
Liza put Irene under quite easily but found nothing in her childhood that could initiate such a phobia. She decided to take it a step further, to a time when Irene was in the womb or maybe beyond.
“Irene,” she said, using her low, husky voice, “You are not inside your mother, yet. Where are you?”
“In the darkness.”
“What can you see, even though it is dark?”
“A tunnel. I just came through it.”
“Turn back and walk through the tunnel and come out on the other side. It will be a different time.” She waited a minute or so, then asked. “Where are you now?”
“Inside a boxcar and my boots are hurting me. My feet are hot and itchy.” Irene's voice rose high like that of a child.
“Who is near you?”
“Where are you with your mother?”
“Inside a train. Sonderzuge they call it. Inside the same kind of a wagon that brought cattle near where Oma and Opa’s farm used to be.”
“Describe what you are seeing.”
“There is a half light from the ceiling. So crowded in here. I can hardly turn around to Mutti.”
“How old are you?”
“What’s your name? What does your mother call you?”
“Ruth. Mutti calls me liebchen.”
“What else do you see, Ruth?”
“Wood slats all around. Lotsa people. Thick, black muck in the gaps between the planks on the floor Where Mutti and I are standing a plank is missing. I can see the outside.”
“What do you see from that opening?”
“Just tracks. Railroad tracks. With dead leaves on them.”
“Look around you now. Is there a door in there somewhere?”
“Yes, there is one. It slides. It closed behind us with a clang when they pushed us in.”
“Okay, what can you hear from where you are?”
“People. They gasp, moan, cry. I hear the screech of the train. Metal scraping on metal. A loud repetitive hissing sound the train makes when it slows down or starts up.”
“What do you feel?”
“Angry. Mutti made me wear too much. Now I am stinking like the rest of the people here.”
“The stench is awful. Also the smoke comes in, from everywhere through the slats, making us cough. Everyone’s so smelly here. Also the shit-pail at the corner sloshed over, and now the entire place reeks. And our house was so clean.” Irene sighed.
“Where was your house, Ruth?” Liza continued, keeping her tone even.
“Munchen. Im Deutschland.”
“Do you know which year it is?”
“I’m not sure. 1941 maybe.”
“Where is the train taking you?”
“How do you know? Who told you that?”
“Officers. Two officers came to our house one morning, yelling “Raus! Raus! Schnell!” I asked where we were going. They said to a very nice place called Auschwitz where there are rides and movie-houses for children. But we didn’t go there directly. First we went to some place else in a bus. The bus was fun. I got to sit by the window.”
“Come back to the train now, Ruth. What happened when you arrived at Auschwitz.”
“I didn’t. I didn’t arrive.”
“Mutti asked for water for me and made the guard mad. The guard pushed me out on the tracks. Ouuuu!” Irene started crying and screaming. Shocked, Liza dropped her pen and rose, twisting the hem of her skirt,
“Calm down, calm down. Those tracks don’t exist anymore. No one can hurt you. Irene, Irene. You are Irene now. You are feeling no pain. You are very calm. You are very healthy. You are not afraid of tracks or trains. On the count of three, you’ll wake up, and everything will be better than ever.”
Irene opened her eyes. She searched the room with an empty look. Then, she reached to the Kleenex box next to her and wiped her face with a tissue.. “Wow!” she said. “It’s not dark anymore.”
Liza nodded, feeling almost as drained as Irene was. “Yes, you did great, Irene. We’ll go over the tape during the next session, but this one was for the books, for sure.”
Prompt: June 10 - Rails
|At the tail of a hurricane,
power dances on webbed feet,
carving across the face of a frothy surge.
In reverence, the ocean sends bubbles in the air
to scoop the board and embrace the man,
a solo rider, who circles chaotic currents
to let his board’s nose break over the lip
then reverse direction. He adjusts himself
forward to catch another wave
for the feel of freedom surfing his soul.
She turned her head away from her captors and stared at the porthole. From this window, a large planet appeared as a huge semicircle of shadow resembling a dark hole.
One of the guards announced. “She’s here, Sir.” His accent was something like that of an Aussie back on earth..
“Not that window,” the director boomed. “Bring her to this one.”
Two guards led her ahead. The director waved them off. “This way, Cora. Please,” he said in a gentler voice. When she didn’t comply, he pushed her forward. She would have pushed him back, hit him, scratch him...something, if her hands weren’t tied.
“Watch, Cora. Let’s satisfy your curiosity, since you were so nosy about the experiment. What the heck, you won’t be able to report back what you saw. I respected your father, too, in the same way..”
Although she hated to obey him, she wanted to find out what the project was about. From the one-way window, she gazed at several boys playing with a ball, laughing and splashing about, savage-like.
“They look so happy,” she said.
“They are,” the director said. “You bumped into our happiness experiment. Play is happiness, don’t you think?”
Cora threw him an accusatory look. “You stole these children from their homes, didn’t you?”
“No, my dear, you’re mistaken. We created them in steel wombs. I’d show you the wombs, but they are not on this satellite. Just take my word for it. Then we implemented faster growth without any frustration. That's why they play like this all the time. No fights, no ambition, nothing.”
“You’re immoral,” she hissed. “You’re going to kill them later like you did my father.”
“What a nasty word, kill! I’ll do no such thing. Molecular decomposition is a better way. Don’t you think?”
“Why?” The investigative reporter that she was, she had to know his reasoning behind all this.
“To build a carefree, perfect society. We’re only gathering data now.”
The director grinned at Cora and turned to the guards. “Take her to Decomposition,” he ordered. Then he touched a tiny button on the lapel of his coat. “Get the Decomposition chamber ready. An errand’s on the way.”
How dare he call her an errand! She spun about and spit at him, but her aim was off.
He laughed at her as a voice crackled through the intercom “The sensors went down, sir. We don’t know why. We’re looking into it.”
She smirked. She still had time. The universe was on her side.
|“Okra? How original! Nobody else around these parts cultivates okra.”
The voice was husky like that of a habitual cigarette smoker, and it wasn’t so much a greeting as it was an observation. As soon as looked up to the owner of the voice, the hoe fell off my hand among the plants.
“You mustn’t drop the things you love.”
Giant and birdlike, he was hovering above me from the tree-top level. His scales shone like blue sapphires under the rays of the sun. Stunned, I watched him descend and land on his short webbed feet on the lawn outside of the chicken wire, which surrounded my vegetable garden, but somehow, fear didn’t enter my mind.
On the ground, he didn’t appear to be as massive as he looked when his wings were open, but he was so beautiful and imperial that I couldn’t tear my eyes away from him. His scales carried hues of cerulean, azure, cobalt and royal blues. Though his belly had gold tinges, he was a story-book, pure-bred blue dragon A creature so strong and gentle, gazing at me with emerald eyes, but I made no sense of what there was in front of me in broad daylight. Did dragons really exist?
“You should never, never doubt something that no one is sure of.”
What? Hadn’t I heard that statement earlier?
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” he added. “Something you forgot. You also forgot I can read minds.”
“How can I forget something I don’t know, something that isn’t supposed to exist?” I said.
“Why not? The most pleasant memories are the ones that don’t really exist. I’m pleasant, too, aren’t I? You must rise above everything to remember what you don’t know. Come here and I’ll show you.”
As I locked the gate behind me, he lowered himself flat to the ground. “Hop on my back, but be careful of the fin. Not only will it cut you but it’ll also hurt me.”
I did as he said and he opened his wings with me on his back. The next minute, we soared over the red Mediterranean shingles of the house and the tree-tops. For the briefest time, we hung there, frozen, suspended, becoming part of the sky.
“As in Google,” I muttered.
“What’s a Google? Is he from Grendel’s bloodline?”
“A search engine,” I said. ‘Difficult to explain. Acts weird at times.”
He slowly descended to the ground. I jumped down.
“Did you forget about lunch? I’m hungry.”
Ned, my husband, all in blue denims, walked toward me. I looked around. The dragon had vanished.
“I’m coming,” I said, clasping my hands behind me to hide the dragon glitter on them.
Just before we reached the door, Ned held my arm, his eyes sparkling emerald-like
“What is it about Google you tried to explain?”
|Mile sixteen. Four runners ahead of me. My arms pump faster and faster, making my legs shoot farther and farther. The street is flanked by people cheering, people in multicolored tees, people who urge us on, people who do not experience the pain or the euphoria. Ahead, a little girl in red stretches her open hands in front of her as if offering something. As I flash by, I catch sight of a frog on her palm.
Did I dream this? I might have or not. Closer to the finish line, I am used to getting visions like this.
My mother's voice shrinking my spirit: "The frog did it!" She said that whenever I did something wrong. She meant the frog test, a once popular pregnancy test. I figured that out when I was older.
My nerves vibrate like a spring coil. I almost hear their "ting" in the air. Sweat douses my face, oozes from my back My head is about to break, so I let things--images, thoughts--to rush in.
Why didn't she want me? Still, she kept me, didn't she? She must have felt trapped into raising me when the entire world ran out on her, and I must have been so heavy to carry.
I pick up the pace as something--mother, me, frog--pushes me ahead.
If I were a frog, I would leap to the finish line, but I feel like a snake slithering.
Amazing, how much clutter my brain holds, clutter that spills as my muscles beg me to slow down. Waves of exhaustion alternate with bursts of empty energy.
All there's to do is to let it happen. Finishing the race is what counts. A couple of people pass me by, but it doesn't matter. I must make it to the finishing line.
My frantic breaths send all sounds deeper in my ears as if I am underwater, but I suddenly jump up and tell my self, "Run, run, run. All the way to the finish line."
No one is pushing me now. No one will ever push me again.
This frog will make it somehow. This frog is running her own race today.
| There, as soon as I turned the corner, I drowned in the sweet smell of old...the same old road, giving me a feeling of warmth--an actual bodily warm--while stuffing its dust into my lungs again, choking, and hugging me at the same time. Its brutal dimensions, now that I was carrying Millie in my arms, appeared to stretch farther and wider than before, all the way to the wire fence.
That is the same fence I had jumped over. A symbol for the time I became a farmer’s scourge, the farmer being my pa. At first, he didn’t know of the trouble I picked because Ma held it from him. He learned it soon enough, on account of the whole town talking and me acting like the sheep, lying around fattening up each day.
When he learned it though, he got crazed mad, I'm sure. I knew he was boiling because he never said anything. Pa's not a man of words. He’s a doer.
One day, I came downstairs; he was sitting with his rifle on his lap by the fire and didn’t even turn to look at us. Ma motioned me to be quiet. I was terrified...not with fear or panic, but with shame.
I didn't even pause, but reached for my jacket by the door and lunged out running. Just like that.
I heard Ma calling after me but I kept running until the wire fence. Jumping over it, I tore my leg up, but I didn’t care. I ran all the way to Aunt’s Jane’s, with blood dripping and all. Aunt Jane got on the phone and called Ma. Afterwards, she told me, she couldn’t keep me there on account of Uncle Bill, but she knew of another place. Then, she took me to the Mather House run by the sisters.
That’s where I stayed hidden. That’s where I had Millie. Ma came to see me several times. The first days, she kept on saying that Pa'd tried to shoot that boy, but by then, Jeffrey had skipped town.
It had been a one day thing with Jeffrey. He read my signals wrong, he said. How? I never understood. Because I kept saying, “No, Jeffrey. No, Jeffrey. I can't. I got Pa. No, Jeffrey!” But he had already unzipped and held me down. Jeffrey was a wrestler and I was no match for him.
When I knew about Millie and told him, he said, “Your problem.” Then, he shrugged and walked away as if he'd bitten into a wormy apple.
The last time Ma called, she said, "Time to mend the fences. Your Pa's come around." So I picked Millie and a small backpack for some of her baby things, and not sure what was going to happen, I left the sisters. I figured I’d take a chance. Too late for apologizing, but maybe, I’d throw myself at Pa's mercy and beg.
Suddenly I heard it...the crack of a twig. Next, I saw Pa coming from the fields. He jumped over the wire fence just the way I’d done but he didn’t tear nothin'. Except his face, electrified red, the color of his checkered flannel shirt, was sweating. He stopped, winced, and held his side. He looked as if he’d go splat down if the ground didn’t hold him up. I felt my heart thumping. I didn’t panic though.
We stared at one another. No words. Tears came to my eyes, I don’t know from where since I am not the crying kind.
“What’d think I’d do to you, Girl? Running away like that..”
“I’m sorry, Pa. Didn’t mean to hurt you,” my voice was breaking in pieces.
“Gotcha! You couldn't figure me out, yeah? ”
He was kinder to me than I'd expected. He reached for my backpack, but avoided looking at Millie.
“No, I ain’t mad at ya. I look at it differently, now that I’ve mulled it over.”
“What do you mean, Pa?”
“The same thing as being stung by a black widow spider. That’s what happened to you.”
“Exactly, Pa. Thanks, Pa.”
“Game’s over, Girl. You got responsibilities now.”
“I know Pa. I understand.”
“Go, get in the house. Get that baby out of the sun. Ma’s made chicken.”
A change had come over him. I didn’t know what. He followed me from the back. Just before crossing the threshold, I turned around to look at him. He had tears that didn’t flow freely. To avoid my eyes he held the door, fiddling around with the doorknob. I knew then that his crying was with no tears. I knew it because I’m the same way.
|"Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can..."
You remember that one, don’t you? Well, you should because it added another millennium to your earth years. I am proud of my part in that one. Don’t get me wrong; I had nothing to do with its creation. The honors go to John alone but I picked it up to submit it to the high command.
Whether you believe in heavenly beings or not, we angels surround you, except for the times when you reject us and don’t let us butt into your business. As a general rule, we rarely interfere, unless you ask us nicely with a “pretty please.” We, however, watch what you do, because those things you create determine the future existence of your species. Each time you create from your heart, each time you do something sincere, your species gets bonus points.
In my assignment as a defense angel, I belong to the group that collects meaningful creations for proofs as to why the mankind should continue to exist. We work in hordes, usually in a section. Each section collects something significant: good wishes, good deeds, deeds of healing, self-improvement efforts, prayers for others, daydreams and intentions, determinations, expressions of love, expressions of thankfulness, works of art, music, and literature. Sincerity is the key here. If you are not sincere, they’ll know about it. Believe me.
Recently, I was on the beach looking for sand castles where pieces of children’s joy might still be lingering as leftovers from the summer. Children get special treatment up there, so I am constantly on the lookout for their work. Unexpectedly, a warm though sad feeling enveloped me. I floated toward that feeling, holding on to its sincerity.
No, it was not a child, but an old man who sat at the beach, writing into a pad with an empty bottle near him. He was dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt. He had no shoes on. His white hair flowed in the wind and tears streamed from his face on to the pad. I wanted to tap on his shoulder to ease his pain but I held back in respect. We angels try not to touch you when you are creating.
When the man finished writing, he ripped the sheet off the pad. Then, he rolled the paper and inserted it into the bottle. Strolling closer to the water, he placed the bottle in the sand. The tide would soon come in an hour and wash away this momentary art. As soon as he turned his back to walk away, the wind blew an empty shell near the bottle. What a finishing touch nature has!
I glimpsed into the bottle. Great piece. I was sure this would be held in very high esteem.
Here, see for yourself!
Please, forgive me. I did the best I could. I looked for you in temples, mosques, and churches, but I encountered men wrapped in strict dogma trying to dominate other men by using your name. If I could be with you alone in one of those places, I would have talked to you there. In my heart, I believe I am closest to you here on this beach. Please forgive me for calling to you from here and not from any one of those places.
My Dear Creator, forgive me for failing to support my family. No, I am not talking about the money, because at first the money was good and we got by, but I was a very harsh man. I never paid attention to my children’s needs, and my wife never got a word of encouragement from me during the earlier years. I made fun of her nonstop. I picked up women in bars and never paid attention to anything that shamed my family. I ridiculed everything and anything about my wife. My children never had a father who applauded their successes or a father who was there for their sports events or recitals. I didn’t attend their graduations. Yet, after my newspaper failed, they were the ones who supported me. What did I do in return? I drank night and day and even tried to end it all; it was my wife who was there just in time to save me.
My wife was there for me through thick and thin. She was there for me through the AA meetings. She was there for me when we started the second publishing business and made a go of it. My wife, my angel in disguise, was in my arms with all her warmth, but I didn’t realize how precious she was. I didn’t realize that you had sent her to me.
I don’t blame you for taking her away. She deserves to be in your heaven. I would like to make up for my mistakes, if I may. I don’t exactly know how. I am too late to ask for her forgiveness but maybe, Dear God, you will take pity on me. Not that I deserve it, but because you are greater than my mistakes.
During the time remaining for me, I plan to give all I have to charity and to counsel other men who may be stumbling into the same potholes that I did so clumsily. My children are far away; they are detached from me, and rightfully so. Please keep an eye on them and don’t let them make my mistakes.
God, please let me help other men.
I am planning to have a special line through which books will be published to help families in crisis. Maybe I can write about my mistakes as a lesson to all the young men. God, please help me there. It is the very least that I can do.
How sad it is to be aware of the beauty of our loved ones after they are gone...
How sad it is to not be aware of the greatness of you, My God!”
See what I mean? Sure enough this beautiful image was erased by the tide, but its essence has made its way into the records of the Higher-ups.
Didn't I tell you? Sincere words govern life and writing is heavenly, even when it gets washed up by the waves.
| You and I have come a long way, haven’t we, Scotty?
I remember when Paul first brought you in. He said he stopped by the pound on a whim and he picked you up for me because they told him that you only had a few more hours for adoption, or else. Then you both came in from the rain, shivering and wet. I didn’t know which one of you to tend to.
You were such a smart puppy, too. Paul trained you in a matter of days. On the other hand, I kept my distance from you. Forgive me for that, Scotty. I always loved you inside my heart. It was only because of what you signified and why Paul had brought you to me.
You and Paul were inseparable those days. Remember the day we three went on a picnic by the lake? You suddenly dashed after a squirrel and I ran after you. What would you have done with that squirrel had you caught him? Play catch? You don’t have even one tiny mean speck in you, Scotty. I know you did that because I was about to weep and you didn’t want Paul catch me crying.
That first time, and many times after that, when I had just gotten off the phone with Dr. Abrams, you grabbed your leash with your mouth and dragged it to Paul, for him to take you out. I knew why you did that. You always sensed it when I was about to break down.
On the days when I was too choked up to eat, you kept pulling me by my skirt to the refrigerator, and when I collapsed in the kitchen and wept, you licked the tears off my face. This happened so many times that I lost count. If it weren’t for you, neither you nor I would have made it this far.
You also helped me cry, Scotty. I couldn’t have done it without you. You helped me cry the day Paul died when you sat on his slippers licking the leather. I swear I saw tears in your eyes. That’s when I started howling and everyone came rushing. They wanted to calm me down. They didn’t know that this was my healing and you were the one who started it.
Right after Paul, we faced quite a few storms, you and I. You came to me each time it thundered and you trembled with your head buried in my lap just as you would have done with Paul. Those were the times when you and I cried together to the threat of the roaring wind outside, for together we had learned what agony was. I would have felt so alone if you weren't there, because when Paul left, he took almost everything, except you.
I hope you understand one other thing, Scotty. There was a time when I was so involved with myself that I couldn't think of you. I felt I couldn’t take it anymore. I am sorry about that one day when I had decided to go after Paul. I couldn’t stand the torture of Paul's absence and I couldn't think that you'd be left all alone. But you jumped at me and knocked the pillbox off my hand. Then you barked and barked until the neighbor next door came knocking. I told him I was sorry that you were barking and I would quiet you down in no time. That was a lie, you know. I am glad you barked, for to me, your barking was the words of a prophet.
Then last fall the white birch dried up. Paul and I had planted it a week after we had bought the house. You and I sobbed together, crouched on the ground near its lifeless trunk, until the evening darkened. The world had failed all of us. Nature is a heartless ogre that carries out its tragedy with dead trees, dead leaves, dead plants and dead lovers.
Last night was our anniversary, Paul’s and mine, and it was so beautiful. Wasn’t it? Paul was here again. It wasn’t just in my head. You ran to him also. He stood there immersed in a soft light, looking at me smiling. Then he pointed toward the bookshelf and the computer. I looked. When I turned to him again he wasn’t there. I called him back. He didn’t come but, instead, you came to me. You jumped on my lap, whimpered a bit, then licked my face. Again, you tapped into that silent pain in my heart and your warmth penetrated into my soul. You are always looking into me, and looking out for both of us, just as Paul must have figured you’d do.
Paul had taken many photos of you. They are all gorgeous, but then Paul was a professional. This is my amateurish attempt to capture your tender insistence. Although you haven’t seen me write in a year, you haven’t forgotten my passion. You have been pulling me to sit by the computer and start writing again. Again, you are right. Writing is my life but then Paul was too.
Yet, when you look at me like that with your head tilted to one side, I can’t help but smile now. This smile is your accomplishment. I’ll do what your eyes are begging me to do. I’ll try again. I’ll at least work on that half-finished script. Without Paul it will be difficult, but you will help me. Why did I put my computer glasses on you? Because, from now on, you are my co-author, Scotty.
| Life always filled me with its beauty. When I was a child, I sensed the spirit of the river, felt the stirring of the soil under my feet, and heard the wind whispering through the trees. I mean this, not in a poetic sense but, as my reality. Our home was situated next to the woods, through which a river flowed. I don’t know when I first started sensing nature, but I did sense it; fearing the reaction of the adults, I did not speak of it.
At some point in my early years when I was around seven, the dreams started, probably with this one.
I was hovering over my mother in the air, while all the family were in the living room. Suddenly I took off and went up over the earth, through the star systems into the cloudy edges of the universe.
“You mustn’t go too far away,” a familiar voice said. “You know the mother isn’t strong enough. She may have difficulty holding on to you. You know what happened with the other baby.”
I listened and I was suddenly with my mother.
After I woke up from this dream, I asked my mother, “Did you have difficulty holding on to me before I was born?”
She was surprised, “Not so much with you,” she said, “But I had another daughter before you who was stillborn.”
A while after that, I started feeling the approach of death when somebody was about to die. Not only that, my body acted as if I was the one dying. Later I started to feel accidents happening just before they did. I kept all these things to myself for I had a good reason. My family was religious. Anything else that wasn’t in the scriptures was deemed devil’s work and I certainly didn’t want to be associated with the devil.
In some ways my sensitivities were helpful. Sneaky though it was, I stopped mischief just before someone found out about it. Because of that I gained the fame of being the good kid in the family, which sometimes didn’t help me with peers and cousins. Still, through sensing their feelings, I got around other children and won my way into their good graces. I also knew when I was in danger because my body reacted in a strange way with my midriff opening and closing like a clam. I didn’t understand these unusual things and I didn’t utter a word to anyone about them. As I grew older, I learned to live with them and even use them to my advantage.
Around the time I was about to hand in my thesis in the University, I had another one of my memorable dreams.
“I was in a beautiful jungle, with gorgeous tropical birds, multi-colored joyous flowers, and a rainforest of tall trees webbed in lianas. In a wink, the sky darkened and rain started. Something flashed in front of me through the swirling raindrops. From inside this bolt of lightning and thunder a dark figure stepped out, pointing toward the sky. I looked up and saw the word –love- written on the dark rain clouds. I woke up with the phrase –Irian Jaya- going around in circles inside my head.”
For days I thought of that dream, but nothing came out of it. Maybe it didn’t mean much. Maybe it was a figment of my imagination. So I put it aside, and didn’t think of it until I met Ryan.
I remembered that dream at the exact moment when Ryan looked at me for the first time. His glance slid past me and then came back and rested on my face. He had a look of recognition on his face. Now as I write this, I recall that we were getting ready to hear a guest speaker on Australian wildlife in the conference hall, and Ryan was setting up the slide-projector and other equipment. Under his gaze I felt my cheeks glow and my knees shake. Then Ryan casually asked me if there were other electrical outlets in the room. That’s how we started to talk to each other.
At that time I had thought that Ryan wasn’t much older than twenty-five or so. He had a boyish look with short-cropped chestnut hair and sky-blue eyes. Later as we dated, I started noticing the fine lines near his eyes and the slightly loosened skin to the back of his jaw line. I felt there was a connection between Ryan and my dream, which I couldn’t put my finger on.
One afternoon after the examinations, in front of the Environmental Studies department I bumped into Ryan.
“So, you’ve done it,” Ryan took my hand. “One thing is for sure. The one with the education is always ahead.”
What he said sounded great coming from his lips. It made me feel good that I put so much effort in my schoolwork. We walked in silence.
“I have a confession to make,” Ryan said suddenly. “I didn’t come here for post-graduate work. I am already in research but I didn’t want to advertise it because it could scare some away, while it could cause others to approach me for the wrong reasons.”
“So why are you here?”
In a split second the vision of the rain forest had come back. To me, under the drizzling rain, Ryan looked like the dark figure in my dream.
“I came here to visit my family and to get equipment for my research. When I saw you, I felt close to you. Then I got to know you better and thought that you were the one for me in every sense of the word, not only because of your major either. My research is in Indonesia. I want you to come with me.”
I don’t know how it happened, but “Irian Jaya!” just spilled out of my lips.
“So you knew it!” Ryan said, startled.
“I don’t exactly know what it means,” I said. “I don’t know what made me say it.”
“Were you asking around about me?”
“No, Ryan. Honest. You’ll think I’m nuts but I saw it in a dream.”
“Irian Jaya is where rainforests are home to incredible fauna and flora, most of which remain to be identified. My research is there. Did you say you had a dream?”
“Yes, Ryan. Sometimes I see things in dreams.”
I told him my dream. Then risking it all, I told him about my sensitivities and other dreams that had come true...
“I know you well enough not to doubt you,” he said. “As modern men, we have shut our awareness. The aborigines who have lived in total isolation are more in touch with their senses. They would understand you and you would understand them. Please come with me.”
It’s been several months that I’m here, and I’m still in awe of Irian Jaya. White sands of its beaches stir gently under my toes, the dark blue Pacific Ocean surrounds its lofty mountains, and thousands of murmuring rivers crisscross its jungles bustling in greens. Here the winds whisper of creation’s secrets and the beauty of our earth. Ryan has shown me edible and poisonous plants, bats, parrots, and lemurs. He introduced me to an aborigine medicine man who had visions of my arrival years ago. I found these natives to be closer to me than my family has ever been. They understand me, for they too listen and work with the spirit and the beauty of nature in this amazing section of our magnificent planet. But, the best thing that ever happened to me was that I could tell my husband Ryan, the spiritual man of my dreams, what I had never told anybody else.
| “He was one cool cat, and now they’ve taken him away from me.” I sobbed at the sergeant’s desk all shook up as he took notes.
“What was it like, Joe? Tell me a little more about it so we can conduct a through investigation.”
“My granma left him for me. She said she wasn’t his first owner but what the heck! He sat with me all day sipping his gin from a straw. Never needed food, never needed nothin’. Just a little bit of what I’ve got. He’d listen to me talk all day. He was my best friend, he was my pal, Sarge.”
“He didn’t talk back at you or tell you what to do, did he?”
“He’d look at me through his glasses and I’d know what he’d mean. Just like that. I thought sometimes I heard him talk but I ain’t very sure of that.”
“Very interesting. Tell me, Joe. Did you ever want to be him or to be like him?”
“Oh! No, Sarge...I couldn’t be him even if I wanted to. I just wanted to be with him and serve him day and night.”
“How did you serve him, Joe?”
“I’d dust him, clean his paws, straighten his straw...Stuff like that. Now, he’s gone and I’m ruined.”
“Don’t you think you have less work without him so you can concentrate on your other problems now?”
“I couldn’t concentrate on no problem Sarge, not without him sittin’ with me. I keep calling his name all day.”
“Oh, he has a name?”
“Yes Sarge, I called him Daddy’O Cool. He loved that name, too.”
“Is he your daddy, Joe?”
“Wish he was, Sarge. Wish he was...”
There was a knock on the door. The sergeant yelled, “Didn’t I tell you not to bother me when I’m with someone.”
A man shoved his head through the halfway open door. “Sarah at 3B is having another attack. Do you want a take a quick look?”
Sarge got up, “Joe, stay here. Don’t move. I’ll be right back and we’ll continue with Daddy.”
As soon as he left I wanted to take a peek at his notes. I had a right to know. It was my case he was investigating.
“Psychosis. Fetish worship. Calls the object, a small white porcelain cat figurine, his daddy. Talks to the object. Early childhood trauma may be indicated. Taking the object away did not help. Atypical Antipsychotic Therapy in conjunction with psychotherapy will be followed. We need a through medical evaluation. Check for diabetes mellitus. Frequent checks for weight gain and triglyceride levels after we put him on clozapine, pending on the outcome of the medical examination.”
There were footsteps in the hall so I rushed to my seat.
Sergeant entered with Daddy O’Cool in his hand.
“Joe, we have located him. You can take him to your room now.”
Happy ending ha, don’t you think? Sarge knows soooo much...He knew how to find what’s missing, didn’t he?