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You Don’t Get to Say Goodbye – Episode 1

October 15, 2019

Love.

Simon and Garfunkel once sang, “If I never loved I never would have cried…”

Let’s say you find yourself single. Not only that, you’re single and you’re past your mid-life crisis. Or so you hope. The landscape of dating has become skewed beyond all recognition. You try dating sites. You work to re-identify who you are. You soul search. You decide you’re better off on your own.

You know you don’t mean that.

But you know its true. Why? Because every woman you meet is not her.

Have you ever had a “her?”

That woman who steals everything you own inside – with a simple smile. A quirky habit. A simple giggle. Her presence.

Then there are all the others. The true “damagers.” The ones who trample your emotional repertoire. The women who shredded all the feelings of warmth and compassion you hold deep inside. Once they finish shredding your innards, they mock your pain, spit on your emotional remains, and grind you under their heel as they stalk away.

So odd that the question of whether love is worth the pain does not get examined as deeply after the cruel ones. The agonizing search for answers drives madness and delirium throughout your heart and soul when you lose a love you believed in. A love you embraced whole-heart.

The odd thing is this. You don’t get to say goodbye. Sometimes it’s you. Sometimes it’s them. Only the heart can tell…

In this serial storyline, life scenarios will be presented. Love and pain will be the common theme. A poem, in remaining true to this site, will follow each story. The ultimate tie-in will be the observation that “You don’t get to say goodbye…”

Episode One

 

Dawna

T.j. spun his bike in a violent semi-circle by standing and stomping on his right pedal. Ray followed suit.  The synchronized move appeared as super-hero moves, at least in their eyes. They were tuned to each other… and their prey.

Dawna and Sally.

T.J. was more wingman in this cat-and-mouse chase of the twelve-year-old nemesis’. Ray was flipped-out-gaga over Dawna. Had been all summer. The twitterpation had begun near the end of sixth grade.

They stood poised in the shade of a generous maple tree, sweat beading on their tan bodies. Their eyes darted as their necks twisted methodically, scanning for a glimpse of the elusive female riders.

“Do you think they saw us?” Ray asked with a hint of wistfulness he could not cover.

“I say we run them down and talk to them. We’re faster than they’ll ever be.” T.J. noted Ray’s slight cringe of fear.

“What would we say?”

“You’re the one who wants to ask Dawna to the dance tomorrow night.”

“I don’t know how to do that.”

“You’re never going to find out if you don’t ask.”

“Maybe you could talk to Sally at school tomorrow…”

“She’s in my fourth period English.”

Ray jumped, landed with both feet on his bike pedals, and spun gravel behind him as he shouted, “There they are!”

T.J. followed down the gravel alley in hot pursuit of a rendezvous that would never happen.

***

Friday night sock hop. The deal had gone down. Sally had been informed Ray wanted to “go with” Dawna. Sally confirmed Dawna wanted to “go with” Ray. T.J. and Sally commiserated at how shy the two of them were and that they’d never get together without help.

Ray’s jaw dropped when she walked into the lunchroom. Of course, tonight, this was no lunchroom. In fact, the room appeared to him as some ethereal manifestation of some other world. A world where he and Dawna would finally meet and talk. He had spent his entire summer chasing her.

And eluding her. He hated the fear and shyness within himself. He constantly felt as though he would burst each time he thought of her. Everything in life that was good reminded him of Dawna.

This night, though, he beheld an angel. Her long, stringy brown hair he was used to seeing flying in the wind from their bicycle chases now flowed majestically tied with the most feminine of ribbons. Her smile when she talked with Sally, caught sight of him, and the giggle which ensued fueled something so primal within Ray his fear became a raging dragon which must be slain before he could win her hand.

The music of the early 70’s paired with the strobe lights, and the darkened room with dancing bodies all around overwhelmed his senses. The “Theme from Shaft” rattled around the room followed by “Papa was a Rolling Stone.” Nick Johnson stole the dance floor with his gyrations and insane ability to move his muscular body to every rhythm and make it all look incredible.

Ray had no clue how to dance like that. He had no clue how to dance. He realized almost immediately if he went up and asked Dawna to dance, he would not know what to do. He went into the bike chase mode. He avoided Sally and Dawna throughout each song. Dawna appeared to be doing the same.

He steeled his will to go up to her on the “next song.” Then that song was either too fast or completely undanceable to him.

“C’mon man! You’ve got to do this!” T.J. gave Ray a nudge. “You’re going to run out of time! You can do it!”

“I know. I know!” Ray felt the wildness in his eyes and the alarming pounding in his chest. The clammy hands. The music. The strobes.

Dawna.

Someone announced through the speakers, “Next to last song everyone!”

Ray’s heart sank. He’d wasted the entire dance swimming in fear. Now the night was going to be the biggest disappointment in the history of mankind – all because he was such a scaredy-cat.

“I’m going to do it if you won’t,” T.J. stated emphatically. He strode away toward Sally and Dawna. Ray’s weak protest drowned in the lyrics of Sammy Davis Jr.’s “Candyman.”

Ray couldn’t look. Panic overwhelmed him. He thought about running for the door but instinctually he knew that would be the worst thing he could do. “Candyman” was winding down.

T.J. appeared out of nowhere, grabbed Ray by the shoulders, spun him around, and gave him a forceful, but gentle in its way, shove. Sally had just done the same thing with Dawna.

“Candyman” faded into the Stylistics’ “You Are Everything” just as the two pairs of eyes met. T.J. and Sally arranged four petrified arms together into “slow-dance” position and stepped back.

The entire universe ceased to exist. In a surreal bubble of Dawna and Ray and music and touch and emotion and joy inexplicable, the two bodies moved to the music. Ray noted how rigid they both felt and he did not care. Nothing mattered.

No joy known to man could ever top this moment. This breakthrough. This ecstasy. The most beautiful girl ever born was dancing with him. And yes, she was everything, and everything was her.

He lived an eternity in those three minutes and twenty-three seconds. He felt the song would never end and he would die the most glorious death, happy beyond all sense, dancing in the arms of this girl he loved.

When the song did end, the experience felt as though a bomb had dismantled everything and everyone into a chaotic mélange of lights and talking and exiting and abrupt separation from heaven.

He walked the nine blocks home underneath the stars of the autumn evening singing “You Are Everything” over and over and over…

For one moment in time, Ray knew love, wanderlust, joy, passion, exhilaration, and heaven. Truly, only one other time in his life would ever feel this combination of pure love and adoration and completion again.

Saturday and Sunday they went back to the bikes. Ray’s shyness ate him up. They’d barely spoken. He felt even more terrified even though Dawna was all he could think about. On Monday, Ray avoided Dawna at school. By the end of the school day, Sally informed T.J. who in turn informed Ray that Dawna was breaking up with him.

He knew why.

This is where he first learned, “You don’t get to say goodbye…”

Lifetimes

Lifetimes gained
Lifetimes lost
All within a song

Two hearts racing
Facing life and love and futures bright
Knowing so little
Yet learning so much

Her eyes and her hair,
Even her crooked teeth
Mona Lisa fell jealous and lost her smile

One heart broken by its very hand
One heart spoken only to the stars over the moonlit land
One moment cherished throughout lifetimes of trials
One special memory of love’s first blush

How many lifetimes do we live in a moment?
How many lifetimes may we live in a song?
One future path crumbled sadly into the sea of time
Yet, the joy, the pure, pure joy of first love

A lifetime relived too often and not enough
A pain billowed too often to life
Bittersweet melancholy to flavor his life
And a smile for the moments they soared…

You Don’t Get to Say Goodbye – Episode 2

October 15, 2019

The roads of life get experienced one moment at a time regardless of how cluelessly we traverse the journey. At times we see the grasshopper. The glinting dew-diamonds on early-morning grass. The butterfly, crocodile, whale chiffon clouds on stage with the azure background accenting their show.

Then there’s the walk home after an exhilarating evening of joy. Those moments come rapid-fire yet soft. Billowy. Unforgettable. All because you’ve set your heart free. All because you’ve connected to your higher self and you allow yourself to glory in all that is good and kind and fortunate in your life.

Those roads, less traveled, beckon to us. Always. For the most part, we not only ignore them, we grow into a refusal of their actual existence. Memory serves us well here if we could only grasp the importance of the fact that these moments of walking on air truly emanate from within rather than without…

Rachel

“She likes me!” Tingles shot an array of directionless explosions throughout his body. His brain. His arms. His legs. The tip of his nose. He likely glowed brighter than the most dominant star in the sky.

They’d danced. He actually danced with her! Seventh grade was becoming a bellwether time in his young life. The holidays had passed. Rachel had asked (through a friend) if he liked her. He appreciated her forwardness. After Dawna, he needed that.

He got to walk her home. What an amazing time to be alive! They held hands. They strolled Dunbar Avenue with its elongated shadows painting a surreal backdrop to their majestic victory over new love.

Ray noted the magnificence of her warm hand, the tapestry of stars winking their approval through the maple leaves overhanging the sidewalk by Jimmy Smith’s darkened house. The world slept. The entire world snoozed the night away allowing them their time and a complete run of everything everywhere. Nothing was denied the two young lovers, as best they knew to be, as they strolled in harmony.

When the time came to part, and she walked into her house, Ray felt blissfully lost. He remembered his favorite shortcut. He floated between two darkened houses. He imagined a narrow deer-trail from all the times he’d cut through these peoples’ lawns for a more direct route home.

In the daylight, he’d always felt the thrill of necessary caution. Caution because he must take care not to be seen as this trespass might not be welcomed by the homeowners. Tonight, the entire world bowed to him. He ruled the night as he’d never known he could.

As he approached the alley between Rachel’s street and his, he noted the darkness and how easily his feet found true purchase and how the crisp shapes of daylight blurred into gray-black marshmellowness at night. His gaze rose to the heavens, the stars all witnessing his primal victory as he waked with a lilt, a skip, and an unceremonious topple over a seldom closed gate.

He’d tumbled over the thigh-high obstruction and flipped onto his back in the gravel of the alley. There were the stars. Laughing. Not in derision. They giggled because they knew he did not feel the fall. He simply grinned back at them.

He had the sense to collect himself. He knew nothing could hurt him this night. Yet sometimes in life, he’d found it important to make sure he was ok. After a few moments of physical inventory, he took a moment to smile back at the heavens, lift himself and cut through the apartments, which was a daring move since he’d never really done that before, day or night.

Why not? He was indestructible. He ruled the heavens and the earth. He could still feel her hand in his. For the second time, he felt love engulf his entire being from the inside out.

***

Days and weeks of school passed by. They saw each other as much as two twelve-year-olds could. Summer began and he had not yet kissed her. Something about a kiss frightened him to his very core. He couldn’t understand it. T.J. was frustrated with him. He could not believe Ray could go this long with making “a move.”

It happened one day that Rachel had struck out to T.J.’s house in search of Ray because Ray and T.J. were best friends. Ray was not there. In T.J.’s backyard, underneath two broad canopy trees, sat a bench-swing.

Rachel was growing into her body. She proudly walked with her growing breasts accented with tight-fitting tops. Ray appreciated this. In fact, his internal self drew toward them like an emotional magnet huge as the Empire State Building. Those breasts called to him. Their siren song taunted him.

Intimidated him. This fateful day, filled with T.J., Rachel, and the swing, forever changed Ray in ways he would continue to discover decades later. T.J. lured her to the wooden ship. The one that sailed away with Ray’s dreams.

To his credit, T.J. told Ray about it the next day. Or was he bragging? He’d slipped his hand up under her tight blouse, and fondled the softness Ray had believed was his. T.J. even took the time to describe how soft they were in his Neanderthal vocabulary.

Rage tore through Ray, a voracious beast that threatened to devour everything and everyone. A hardness grew in a recess in his heart. That dark corner where Dawna and Rachel had erased the pain which resided there. They’d filled its emptiness with love, or so he’d believed for many, many years to come.

That pain had always been there. A casualty of two parents who fought too often and too loud. A small kid who could not understand why they could be so harsh at times. But that pain had always been a dark shadow within gelatinous darkness.

Now, that pain morphed into something hard. Something more rock-like. The dual betrayal of best friend and girlfriend washed over him like a black wave of dirty, oily goo. While Ray raged inside, he simply walked away from his friend, then ran to his pillow in his room and wailed into it all the pain of childhood which should never feel this dark.

A few days later, T.J., having apologized over and over and over again, found Ray and Rachel at T.J.’s cousin Harry’s house. The three were playing spin-the-bottle in Harry’s garage. The intent was to get Ray to kiss her. When the bottle pointed to her, he could not do it. He could not kiss her. He walked away.

The next day (it seemed), Rachel was seen walking arm-in-arm with some tall, stringy-haired guy from highschool. While Rachel was about to go into the eighth grade, Ray knew he could not compete with this guy. He looked dirty. He looked unscrupulous. Ray would never be like that. This dude looked like Ray’s moral-less father.

He knew she would give this guy whatever his needs demanded. For the second time, Ray learned the harsh lesson, “You don’t get to say goodbye…”

Memories

Choices float through our hearts,
Forever available in their invisible realm.
Not like objects in liquid dreams, but
Wispy clouds on high.

We choose where memory drives our soul
From open joy to blackened hole
Yet too often we choose one or the other
When both should live on.

Love always delivers the paradox of knife
One side ecstatic, the other strife
For love’s acquisition is the grail we hold dear
And its absence the darkness we fear.

Memory’s clouds too often envelop pain
Darkness its character, its definition, its reign
When joy and aspiration may be saddled as well
Our choice, slice of heaven or burning ember of hell

Balance lends credence to life and our love
That we may learn to be wary yet cherish
Our smiles and our foibles which never need perish
When we keep whole the memories of love…

You Don’t Get to Say Goodbye – Episode 3

October 15, 2019

Desire.

Sometimes in life – no – make that “often in life,” everything we desire falls into our lap without us noticing the grand beauty of the experience. We often become the bumbling running back on a football team who fumbles away his opportunity for celebration and joy. We become the antithesis of who we desire to be in the clutch.

This all transpires as “life lessons,” many of which we learn over and over and over again. The most dispiriting aspect of this cycle of internal humiliation becomes our seeming inability to overcome our own foibles. So many of these moments and potentials could easily have gone another direction.

In life, we either keep moving forward, keep learning new things, keep overcoming past struggles, or we fall into riding out our time here on earth medicating ourselves with mindless entertainments, depressions, apathy, and disconsolate unhappiness.

Tamara

Eighth grade delivered the shock of Ray’s young life. In the wake of the seventh grade’s flirtations with Dawna and Rachel, in third period, the teacher assigned seats alphabetically.

Normally, this would not constitute a problem. Ray rarely cared who sat beside him on either side. In fact, assigned seating would keep his friends from distracting him and teasing him into cutting up in class. The first exception to this philosophy came in third period English.

Tamara Jones. The most beautiful girl he’d ever seen. The girl who stole his heart immediately. Not only were they beside each other, Tamara sat to his right with the aisle immediately to her right. She basically became his silent prisoner, or object of worship.

He would steal glances her direction but only when he was one hundred percent sure she would not notice. He recognized not daring to look her direction had to be something she noticed. He knew, though, he could not hide what was in his heart because his eyes would tell it. In a heartbeat.

Ray both thrilled and dreaded walking into English every day. He liked to get there early so he could watch her walk in. She always dressed to perfection. She always gave off the air of beauty personified. She absolutely always looked better than anyone else on their best days.

As the first couple months of the school year skated by, Ray and J.T. held many pow wows over how fortunate he was to be seated next to the girl he was gaga over. J.T. constantly suggested that Ray assert himself and speak to her. Make connection. Find a way into her life.

Great advice, and Ray knew it. Yet, that same “shy” bug overwhelmed him again. He could not muster the courage to do anything but shoot furtive glances her way and marvel at her excruciating beauty.

J.T., one day, took a page from the dance with Dawna escapade and purportedly spoke to Tamara at school. He let her know of Ray’s infatuation and that Ray was just dying to get to know her.

“She said you needed to call her,” J.T. stated, excitement all over his face as though it was he who had fallen for the girl.

“No she didn’t,” Ray replied.

“No kidding! Really! You just have to call her!”

“I don’t think I can do that. We’ve been in class two months now and I haven’t said a word to her yet. How can I call her?”

“Pick up the phone and dial. Here’s her number.” J.T. handed him a wrinkled sheet of paper with his near-illegible writing scrawled across the top.

“I can’t.”

“I’ll sit with you when you make the call,” J.T. interjected.

“That would just make it worse.”

“I told her you would call her tonight at 6:00 pm.”

“What?”

“Hey. I knew if I didn’t do something like that, you’d chicken out. Now you have to call her.”

“Shit! Why’d you do that?”

“Because you’re miserable and you hafta get past this. If you don’t, you’ll have to go through the whole year like this.”

“But what if she say’s no?”

“Hey, she told me to have you call her. She won’t say no.”

“Crap. 6:00 pm… I can do this…”

“Of course you can! You’ll thank me when this is over.”

“Ok. I’ll do it.”

“That’s the spirit!”

“What if her parents answer? You know they probably will.”

“So you ask to speak with Tamara. That’s not complicated Ray. Just do it.”

“Ok.” Ray drew a deep breath. He could feel his hands shaking already.

The afternoon raced forward like an Olympic sprinter who smells gold. Ray dreaded making the call. He felt trapped. Excited. Scared. Ecstatic.

His palms began to sweat at five minutes until six. He knew he must call at six sharp. Any earlier he would appear over-anxious. Any later – scared. He was both.

He was thankful for the cord extension on the living room phone. Otherwise, he would have had to make the call in front of whatever family would cross into the room. At least this way, he could hunker behind the bathroom door. Hopefully no one would have to use the bathroom…

Panic set in at six o’clock. He felt his fingers dialing but the experience was surreal. He was actually going to call Tamara and speak with her. She would be the voice at the other end of the line, the dream, the fantasy, the most beautiful girl he knew. He started praying that no one would be home.

“Hello,” a disembodied man’s voice droned into Ray’s ear.

“M-m-may I speak with Tamara…please?” Ray stammered.

“Tam!” the voice called out dully in the background of Rays heartbeats and nerve rattles. Momentarily the voice he knew well but had never engaged struck his ears.

“Hello?”

Ray’s mind blanked. For a moment he thought of hanging up. She wouldn’t know for sure it was him. He silently cursed himself for allowing so much silence before he spoke. “Hi, Tamara,” he managed.

“Who is this?”

Oh God! Had J.T. lied about talking to her? Had he been set up? In a bad way? “This is Ray. Ray Kline. J.T. said you said to call you.”

“He did? Why?”

Is she toying with me? Ray thought, panic now far too slow for what he was feeling. Nothing to do now but go for broke. “Because he said he talked to you because I want to “go with” you and you told him to have me call at six and its six and I was wondering if you would, if you would like to go with me.”

His face burned and his stomach churned and he felt light-headed. He’d actually done it. He’d actually asked the most beautiful girl in the world to go with him. For all the speed in which time had sped along leading up to this moment, its revenge now manifested in eternity. The silence on the other end of the phone crashed into his ears.

“I don’t know why he would have told you that.”

“Maybe he was playing a joke on me, but I really do want to go with you.”

“My answer is no.”

“Ok”

He placed the receiver on the cradle after his thumb had crushed the plastic nipple that disconnected the line and had effectively hung up. He felt sick. He felt embarrassed. More embarrassed than when his older sisters had dressed him up as a girl for Halloween. Wig, high-heels, make up and all. The embarrassment there was compounded by the fact even his closest friends did not recognize him. Then, winning the prize for best costume. That was all minor compared to this.

This time, he not only did not get to say goodbye, he’d really not even made it to hello…

Dreams

Love is a murky pinwheel with many spokes
Named and unnamed, swirling, wind-blown smoke
Mirrors revealing all the pain
Shards and pieces and debris remain

Yet each facet owns a flavor, a scent, a sound
No two alike when the heart speeds and pounds
The double-edged weapon we chase until we can take no more
Or we find fortune in the relationship store

Eventually the question arises to face the dawn of day
Who would ever wish to endure their life this way?
Dying for love at every disastrous turn
Only increases the heart’s propensity to yearn

The dream of love stands only as illusion
An infidelity and a life intrusion
Scenarios of bitter, melancholy paths and trails
Muscling up the heart to become tougher than nails

Yet that very same muscle crumbles into warm gooey putty
When the currents of life and love get muddy
Only to deliver the hope and it may seem
There’s only the universe enraptured by love’s bright dream…

I’m Back!!!

October 15, 2019

I am excited to be back writing on this site again. I possess an abundance of stories to present on this site and I’m pumped at the prospect of adding a new serial fiction, “You Don’t Get to Say Goodbye.” Please note: on the right side column of this blog, there is a “drop-down meu” titled: “Categories.” In this drop-down, you will find the various projects I work to complete. Some of them have fallen into neglect, but that does not mean the material is not worthy.

Take “The Cold Bite of Autumn” for instance. This is a serial fiction I started years ago and I do intend to carry it forward. The new serial fictions I’m currently writing, “The Continuing Adventures of Rumpald Forskan” and “You Don’t Get to Say Goodbye” have captured my imagination and my motivation. But “Cold Bite…” is very near and dear to me. I may surprise you with updates as I move forward.

Fiction is something I love to write. I get to fly my imagination around the chaos in which it swims and pluck out the fun things which come from creative freedom. Please check back as I revive this wonderful site! 🙂

The Man Who Could Not See the Moon

December 7, 2017

Short stories have been a huge part of my reading life throughout the years. Their importance sprung upon me with my first reading of “R is for Rocket” by Ray Bradbury. What a magical story! I read the incredible words on the pages of that collection of short stories and marveled at how they moved me.

The following story is from the original Rogues Gallery Writers’ collection of short stories titled “Writing is Easy.” This story is indeed an “internalized” story within the mind and heart of the protagonist. There are no other characters in play – only the moon and memories. And emotions. Let me know what you think.

At the end of each story in the book, each of us wrote a paragraph about what inspired us to write the story, then we answered three questions about the story to help the reader connect more with the writing. For the full collection of stories, you may order a copy of the book from me or online at this link: Writing is Easy

The Man Who Could Not See the Moon

Straining to see the evening star, he rocked peacefully on the porch and sighed.  Green grass waved to and fro, tickled by warm kisses from a spring breeze.  Separated from this Earth by the green carpet of the horizon, the deep, brilliant blue sky began to reveal its possessions.  Venus rose prominently, lording over the stars its ability to show up first, jealous of no one save Earth’s nearest neighbor, the moon.

He remembered her, her Greek beauty evident even on her worst days.  Her jet-black hair had known many incarnations: curled into cute swirls, allowing her a soft and gentle appearance (a lie), piled atop her head in a tight bun, bestowing a stately—even queenly—quality (a falsehood by all measure) but mostly allowed to fall straight, stretching to her mid-back in thin, smooth, black licorice strands that bespoke a no-nonsense woman (truth indeed).

He met Sylvia when she was young; at twenty she was vibrant and brazen—one of those women who could ooze sexuality without the slightest of effort.  She strode olive-skinned legs; timeless, ageless, without blemish or imperfection, they embodied any man’s dream of silken skin and tantalizing muscle.  In keeping with her down-to-earth nature, she dressed in a style that was both revealing and plain.

Sighing once again at the mere thought of midriff tops and short-shorts, he panned his sight across the graying heavens for that sliver that had grown recently to half a pie, knowing all the while it would not yet be visible.  There was a sense of serenity in this search, with the warm breeze lightly brushing his white beard and the smell of flowers wafting about under his nose.  Nothing was left of the turmoil surrounding his life, infesting it at times with loathing, and often deteriorating his view of her.  Now, in his solitude, there was peace.  Calm.  Possibly, this evening would be the one that would show him the moon.

He could have married her at that young age, but he was young as well, foregoing the plunge for a bout of perceived unworthiness.  He had no right to consider himself within the context of such beauty.  Who was he, anyway?  Truly no one of consequence.

He wandered about in his head and to his parks, writing on any paper he could find.  He strove to capture all that roiled within, all that vexed and plagued him, and all that allured and pleased him.  No woman such as she would bore herself with him, or so he thought.  He saw all the idealistic concepts and currents of his day, reveled in the complexities and virtual hopelessness of love, and cried onto white paper the red tears of loneliness, yet he could not see her love for him.  He did not realize that underneath the model’s curves, nestled in the lovely high cheekbones, and behind the piercing dark eyes a little girl longed to be loved.  Yes, she could have been his, but it would take years for him to realize it.

He rose from his padded wooden rocker and strode through the screen door to the refrigerator.  Plinking four crescents of ice into the depths of a glass, he drew a generous amount of lemonade from the tap on the dispenser.  As he swirled the liquid around and around, he watched the half-moons clink against the rim and reflected on how they would melt away just as she.

His reality had been that he finally married Sylvia ten years later.  She was a constant in his life: constantly critical, constantly negative, constantly busy, constantly stunning.  Periodically throughout their life together, he glimpsed the little girl – playful, free, longing for love and peace in her life.  The stretches of time between these observances were devastating, and they wore his patience thin.  The woman clashed with his ideals, his dreams, and his whimsical notions of life and how it should be led.  Over the decades, white-hot anger would boil behind the crumbling dam of his patience; it caused him to wonder that he never lashed out.  Oh, he lashed out, but only verbally.  Only?  Oh, how his world darkened whenever he walked inside that house.

With a nearly visible start, he quickly turned on his heel and returned to the porch, taking up residence in his soft, welcoming chair.  The night sky was winning its battle with the day; stars began to wake up on the horizon.  The green of the meadow was fading to gray, and would soon be steeped in lazy blackness.  He sensed that the object of his attention was overhead, but he waited patiently.  Soon enough, it would slip below the wooden canopy over the porch.  Soon enough, he would relax—not strain—to see it again.

She was always busy, running hither and yon, completing tasks, not completing tasks.  More often late than on time, she was distracted by thousands of agendas, projects and family fires.  She teased him with glimpses of the little girl, showing her just often enough to make him believe she was there.   The little beauty lived within the beauty—he was convinced of it!  Throughout their life together, he arduously attended the premise of the incredible treasure within his Helen of Troy.  He worked so very hard to be patient, and to bide his time until the little one came out to play.

Struggling with the constant criticism and accusatory questions that left him in damned-if-I-do, damned-if-I-don’t situations, he persevered through the cold indifference that mauled his inner self-worth.  All this was done in the hope that she would come full circle to a child-like love of life, and recognize the amazing thrill of viewing this world as something huge, complex, teeming with adventure, and worthy of attention to its minutiae as well as its grandeur.

He attempted to convince her of the need to look, smell, listen, and learn.  Frustrated, at times he cursed her for her aloof indifference.  Angrily, he would strike back at her snide, backbiting remarks and questions, realizing that, all the while, the little girl was slipping away.

Darkness now revealed the faint tinges of the Milky Way, its slow spiral a spectacle even at this late day in his life.  Stars filled the void with camaraderie, a cheerful, collective voice, even though muted by incredible distance.  Luna’s light gave pale life to the grasses and flowers and revealed a more perfect world than daylight could ever show, devoid of blemish.  Mysteries were born, and the soul was soothed by the rhythms of the night sounds as soft as the quiet landing of snowflakes on top of snowflakes.

But this was no time of shivering cold days.  It was spring!  There was no need for shelter, no need for brief forays into the bitter night, although some of those nights could make one forget the cold.  No, now was a time of renewal, an ancient time handed down gracefully through the ages despite men’s attempts to destroy all that is good.  Spring.  Warmth.  Nurture.  Life.

He had tried many means of turning her from her path of indifference to all that he held sacred.  They took dance lessons; he sought to dance her into positivity by whirling her through waltzes and tangos, foxtrots and rumbas. They floated mere millimeters above the floor into another world where exquisite music and synchronized movement jelled with perfect harmony.  At times his efforts seemed to work, for float they did.  The little girl would then be lured from hiding only to retreat as quickly as she’d appeared: a phantom, a wisp, and a hope.

He would take her off alone, to woo her and strike boldly to her heart, yet he seldom found the mark.  They would meld in bed, their passion furious and full of flavor, sating his need for the her playful person within, who held the power and presence and knowledge of the woman.  As time passed, the need for that girl would return.  He devoted his life to his wife and their offspring, and gave of himself all that was humanly possible.  At times he was contrite of his selfishness – or critical of his self-indulgence.

He gave her nothing that detracted from her natural beauty.  The gifts were accents which drew attention to that which was apparent and needed no explanation.  The hats she wore at his request lent her a graceful appearance.  Her dresses – always demure – shrouded her beauty in mystery and focused her stunning looks into perfection.  He had an eye for these things.  He wished to please her in any way so he could reach into her heart, grasp the child’s hand, and bring her forth into their lives. She never complied.

The first peek of white curvature appeared under the rigid line of the darkened roof that covered the three steps to the porch.  He ignored it and glanced lazily instead at the fading Milky Way.  The light of the galaxy was being overwhelmed by the light reflected from an object that could generate none of its own.

“Isn’t that life?” he thought.  “We strive so very hard to make something that is our own, yet we only truly reflect that which has been taught to us and passed on through knowledge and experience.  Oh, to be a star, to be someone of peculiar importance, to shine a singular and original light upon this world.”

This longing cried out from his soul.  Ah, a dreamer still!  There were times in his life that he had been dismayed by his propensity to dream, to fight for ideals, and to believe in his fanciful views of life.  But these traits were hard-wired into him, and once he realized that, he gladly gave in to creativity, enjoyment, and ignorance of that which plagued most men—day-to-day life.

Death left Sylvia’s beauty untouched.  He learned over the years that love did not change, it only beckoned without demand, and that little girls flourish when least expected.  He had asked much of her: wife, mother, lover, friend, slave, free-bird, and soul mate.  But the most demanding of all was his constant calling out to a waif—the child in her heart—to reveal herself.

The girl flirted, revealed only enough to keep him looking, but not so much as to lose her charm.  She played hide-and-seek with him over the decades.  Cruelly, she kept her distance and betrayed all that should have been between them.

A tear trickled and tickled his cheek.  He slowly turned his gaze to the half-moon now fully exposed below the line of the porch roof.  He endeavored to see it as a ball in the sky – not the flat, white surface he inevitably saw.  Years and years ago, she had laughed derisively—mockingly—at his wonderment during an eclipse.  He had seen the moon as a spherical object in the sky for the first time that night, and he was amazed.

For some reason, the moon had always manifested itself to him as a flat crescent, or an even flatter white pancake, two-dimensional and of little consequence.  He had, infrequently, been able to drink in the sphere as a three dimensional, thrilling sight.   Now, he focused nightly on reliving that experience – to see the moon in its regal splendor, devoid of its own light but ruling the night sky despite its barren lands.

Wiping his eyes, he relaxed for another chance to glimpse the night’s grand beauty. He strove to see the truth, the cold lifeless truth of the moon as well as Sylvia. He refused regret of the years wasted with attempts to lure the playful, loving child within out into life just as he refused sadness at how long it took for him to see the moon is it truly exists. All he desired now was the essence of the beauty of truth. He could embrace that…

 

Story’s Inspiration:

 

The Man Who Could Not See the Moon was conceived one morning around 3:00am.  I was driving up State Route A1A along the Florida coast when I looked up at the moon and saw it as a three dimensional sphere for the first time in my life.  Prior to that moment, the moon had always looked to me like a flat crescent or pancake.  I was amazed and pulled my van over just to stare.  I wrote down the title on a piece of paper, and then I drove home and went to bed.  The next morning, I wrote the story in two hours.

 

Q&A:

  1. Do you write your stories that quickly on a typical writing session?

In two hours?  Sometimes.  My writing times depend more on how long it takes me to get into the groove of writing.  Not necessarily the ‘muse’ chick because if you wait on her you may never write again.  Once I get rolling though, I can knock out a first draft in a couple hours.

  1. This story is a very internalized piece of writing. Are you concerned about whether it will hold the reader?

Ouch!  Actually, yes.  If I were to pick one story in this anthology I’d like to work significant hours on, this would be the one.  I believe there is quite a bit more I could do with this to make it much stronger.  My attempt to reach an ‘internal dialog’ with my main character will definitely make or break this story with the reader.  I’m sure there are those who will not care for it.  I’ve had enough feedback from others I respect that like it to put it out for consumption.

  1. Everything a writer writes tends to contain aspects of the writer in the story. What portion or portions of this story ring true to who you are?

As mentioned in the inspiration paragraph, I literally had never in my life seen the moon as a three dimensional orb.  I pulled over in my van and dumbfounded is all I can come up with.  I had no idea I would end up writing about my wife (who is still alive, of course).  There are some accuracies between the couple in this story and my wife and me.

 

Intruders

March 10, 2012

This is the latest installment of The Cold Bite of Autumn, my serial fiction story. To get caught up, look to the right and find The Cold Bite of Autumn in my “Category” cloud, click on it, and read all the previous posts. Once you get caught up, jump on in! 

Cheryl’s ears caught the faint echo of motors on the breezes that tripped lightly through the trees. She selected a mammoth rock-shaded alcove, shrugged off her backpack and sat. Back to the mountain wall she listened for the mechanical intrusion. Twenty minutes later, the distinct ‘whap-whap-whap’ of helicopter blades made themselves more apparent.

Even though the tree cover should be enough to keep her location unknown, she pulled all her belongings further into the alcove. Another half hour passed before the searchers whisked by. Since they took so long to come by, surveillance drones most likely did not spot her earlier in the day.

The sophisticated equipment on board these aircraft would surely locate her and Daniel unless they kept their wits and their ears on high alert. That is if Daniel even got out of the cabin. Most likely he left shortly after she did. No telling about that man.

She munched on a peanut bar for energy while she waited for the air posse to run along. While she could wait out the ignorant government folk, she knew Daniel would most likely be on her trail and tail before long. The thought of pairing up with Daniel tickled the back of her brain.

Cheryl shrugged the thought off. No more blood on my conscience. The tranquil sounds of the forest returned. She slung her gear back on her shoulders and took off down the steepest rock face she could find. Once they analyzed their ‘search data’, the government boys would be convinced no one would attempt to climb down the more exposed and dangerous route.

The men who would know what she would do all died in the car crash. Unless the government had stepped out of character and hired a ‘real’ thinker, she could rest in the fact they would not look for her there. What she lost in ground cover she made up for in reducing altitude. Some of the trek wound its way easy through the forest. Other times she bloodied her hands on weather-grizzled rock-faces.

Sometimes the mountain forced a more traditional route. Rope would not help anyway. All something like rope would do would be to call attention to her location. The less these folk knew of that, the better her chances. Once they put boots on the ground, if she could not gain the mountain base, both her and Daniel faced unpleasant ends.

Discovery

March 3, 2012

This is the latest installment of The Cold Bite of Autumn, my serial fiction story. To get caught up, look to the right and find The Cold Bite of Autumn in my “Category” cloud, click on it, and read all the previous posts. Once you get caught up, jump on in! This story will be updated every Saturday morning at 9:00am EST.

“Damn. What a fucking idiot.”

Daniel worked with purpose as he placed supplies in his backpack. He laid out three weapons, his 357, a scoped sniper rifle, and a hunting knife. He shut everything down and cut the power at the main box. The electricity bill would surely tip off various people who wanted Cheryl as well as himself. Her running probably saved them from a nasty shootout, at least temporarily.

He laced up his boots, jerking on the strings with each new lace level. He then strolled to the table, secured the knife and pistol, slipped the rifle into its sleeve on the backpack, and loaded the backpack to his shoulders. At the door, he allowed himself a moment to visually sweep the room for anything out of place.

She had to have at least a six hour head start. Daniel hoped she would not be as adept at hiding her trail as he in following one. These mountains offered loads of seclusion as well as the opportunity to avoid detection. A sharp person could live up here for years and never see another human if they so chose.

He spent nearly a half hour checking footprints, broken twigs on the ground, and any other sign that might tell him which way she hiked. Once satisfied he had chosen the most likely evidence to follow, he set out at a jog. Daniel’s eyes surveyed everything in his path, and noted any minor detail that lent credence to his choice of paths. An hour into his jog he heard the distant thrum of military helicopters.

Company had arrived at last. Now he had to watch his back as well as where he was headed…

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