Imposter of Kinds- Part 3/3

Don’t forget to catch up with Part I here: http://wp.me/p2CDWl-a5 and Part II here: http://wp.me/p2CDWl-ad

I regained consciousness in a discarded heap tossed haphazardly on an old flea infested bed in some cheap room, hotel, apartment or something of the like, it didn’t matter. I would’ve thought the torture and abuse had all been a dream if it hadn’t been for the condition of the room I had been disposed in probably left for dead.

I breathed in deeply and stretched laying down then stopped mid-motion, frozen with realization. I didn’t hurt. My eyes weren’t swollen shut. I ran my tongue along the inside of my teeth- all present. I sat up with a jerk and looked down at myself, dried blood caked my torn clothes which really couldn’t be called clothes anymore, but there was no fresh outpouring.  Half patting, half punching myself in areas I knew should have been in pieces yielded nothing other than the dull pain I inflicted upon myself.

I leaped off the bed to the pane of plain glass mirror glued to the wall and took further assessment. Hair still matted but no swelling, no bruising. Some more dried blood but its source had completely disappeared. In fact, I looked good, really good and for a while I was fascinated with myself. My eyes, they looked so…so….they were pure and they shone like his. I traced the lines of my new self confirming its real existence and there I found only one scar perfectly healed on the top of my hand between the thumb and forefinger. I remembered the wound- a protruding bolt had torn its share from me when they had first pushed me down the emergency stairs. It was still slightly pink- a new scar.

With a painful pop my ears opened and the quiet I had thought was simple silence revealed the farce it had played on me. A loud commotion outside made me think of a riot and then in a flood it all returned to me. Jesse!

Of coarse, the dried blood, the scar, your body will be new. All this registered instantly and I raced to the window. Two stories up. They were all down there! Where was he? I couldn’t see him but the small sea of people boiled like waters infested with agitated piranhas and I didn’t have to guess to know that he was down there beneath them all drowning.

I screamed out for him and tried to open the window- stuck fast, so I turned around and bolted for the only door on the opposite side of the room. Locked.

“No!” I shouted out loudly yanking fiercely on the doorknob. “No, no, no, no! Let me out! Let me out, you’re killing him!” I tried kicking the door but to no avail. A quick scan of the room revealed no blunt instruments that I could use to aid my escape. I screamed out my frustration and to the rising crescendo of the noise outside I ran back to the window pounding it with my fists, all my shouts bouncing back to me in futility.

The crowd finally gave way where I could see down through them and there emerged my love. The image of what was left of him dropped me to my knees with a sob and robbed me of all strength. He was barely recognizable, nearly naked from what I could tell and streams of blood ran from his eye sockets. The crowd closed in again before I could really see what that correlated to. Any scenario that fit made me want throw up.

With the coordination of one they pushed him up against the brick wall of the alley and held him there. They grabbed up his left arm, palm up, and it was Marinda who put a plank of wood against it and brought forth a slightly bent, rusty railroad nail and a flat rock. Without hesitation a thick looking man I had seen many times before began beating the nail through the wood and Jesse’s flesh and into the brick beyond missing the mark every second or third hammer. The crowd jeered and went into a frenzy greater than before drowning out his cries of inconceivable agony. Then a chain was produced, hung over the nailed board so that it draped as a loop no longer than eight inches. They grabbed up his foot of the same side and forcefully stretched it up and wrestled it into the chain so that it looked like he was high kicking his hand like a cheerleader would. It was humiliating and the crowd loved it.

They moved towards him with more crude instruments of torture to do something else to him but I could watch no longer and I was crying so hard it was all a blur anyway. My fingernails had broken from clawing the window and my throat hurt from crying so constricted had it become. I crumpled to the floor and curled up and wailed until exhaustion over took me and I slept in a puddle of my own tears. This is my fault. I am the traitor, I am the betrayer. You love me more than life but I need you to live this life!

                 I remember waking briefly with an overwhelming thirst. As some point someone had brought in a pitcher of water, some food and a pile of clean clothes. I left the food, drank the whole pitcher and changed out of the blood crusted clothes into the new ones. I didn’t check the door to see if it was unlocked. If they hadn’t yet come after me again then I was safe here. My heart kept hammering that I should be dead too and not restored to bear this burden of my consequences. Hopelessness bore down on me and I curled back up into a ball and let sleep take me again. I wanted to find my box again….

The third time I awoke I instantly knew that something had changed. The air swept past me in soft breezes fresh and invigorating. Beneath me was plush, cool grass and a stray stick had imprinted itself on my thigh I noticed with a grimace. A handful of birds chirped to each other in the trees that as I blinked my eyes open noticed surrounded me. As my eyes focused I quickly found that I was in our…mine, again, I reasoned, field. But most striking of all was the lack of the ache in my heart. It was light, alive, pleased even- “happy” felt too sacrilegious to use so quickly.

So I was dead then. They had come and killed me as I slept in that room. I was dead and heaven was a projection of where I last experienced what heaven must be like. No weakness. No hurt or pain, no suffering. You hold me now, I thought with bitter sadness. But to my astonishment I felt no bitter sadness. The love of my life had died terribly from my betrayals and others’ hate and peace was reigning so that it all felt like a distant bad dream. Maybe it was all a nightmare all of it. But when had reality stopped and the dream begun? Was my love for Jesse all a part of it too? If I turned and looked behind me would he be there waiting for me to wake or was there going to be emptiness? Honestly, I was afraid to look. Heaven or a dream?

Rediscovering the small scar on my hand didn’t help at all because I had memory of tripping as a child onto a sharp rock. I debated with myself for a long time then finally decided that if Jesse wasn’t there that still did not solve the mystery because if I had died he probably was someplace else. I remembered hearing something about heaven being pretty big. So whichever way I looked at it, nothing was going to be solved just propped up on the ground too afraid to even look behind me. So I stood up. In that I felt like I had just accomplished something great. Step two, I turned around and,

“Hi!” I jumped and screamed from start. It was him! “I’m Jesse.” With a light hearted grin that reached his eyes he extended his hand to me in greeting and I noticed instantly a large round scar on his left forearm. I didn’t know what I was to do. Was he playing around and I should encase him with my affection, or take his hand and introduce myself as though for the first time? He was giving me no indications either way and although his mouth didn’t move I heard his sweet voice in my head, More than life. That is how I love you.

With no concern for heaven or dreams words flowed out of me as though they were as real as breathing, and I knew that they were.  “And that is how I love you, my love.”

I want to deeply apologize for not getting this last part up on Friday- circumstances made it difficult.

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Imposter of Kinds- Part 2/3

Don’t forget to catch up with Part I found here: http://wp.me/p2CDWl-a5

I had first met him in the open air market though, he had said, he had noticed me a long time before. I was with my friends, laughing and enjoying the day without an agenda to be bothered with and that’s when I came face to face with him, accidently I had believed. I thought him somehow strange, and almost captivating, like I was staring the greater part of myself yet undiscovered in the face. There was something very beautiful about him, something very kind. He was obviously physically strong but the way he presented himself made it clear that he was not prideful in this; in fact, he had little indication of being self absorbed at all and I didn’t like that because I never knew how to deal with that kind of person.  I didn’t like feeling disadvantaged so I had always kept clear of his kind because they tended to be the same: strange. Not necessarily wrong in their strangeness, just different.

He had grinned widely, eyes sparkling like how the sun reflects off the ocean’s ripples, like he had been waiting a long time for this chance meeting. How odd. I knew myself and knew I was no occasion to celebrate. Not for his kind anyway. My kind revolted his kind.

“Hi,” he said extending his hand, “I’m Jesse.”

I eyed him carefully, took his hand so as not to be rude but that was all.  I ended the moment as smoothly and as quickly as I could before turning away to find my friends again who had wandered down the street.

“Who was that?” My friend Marinda asked.

“Just some random guy.”

“Better stay that way too. It’s the decent looking ones you gotta be careful of.” Marinda said a bit wistfully as she caught up my arm in hers. “But he does make Random Guy number seven in three days, so you need to cool down, girl.” She was joking with her approval of my score, a bit jealous too, but I didn’t laugh. Somehow that ratio didn’t seem like reason to brag anymore.  The random guy whose name I had already forgotten wasn’t leaving my mind. On both accounts that wasn’t good and I suspected the latter was reason for the former.

I determined then to give Jacob…Jamie…Jared….Random Guy, no more thought and turned my attention to scheming of ways to keep my winning score against Marinda and everyone else and maybe even cashing in some of those winning chips. Distractions of all sorts were my specialty and my worship of them inspired everyone around me- my followers as I sometimes like to think of them, or competition; normal people would have called them “friends”. That non-assuming Jesse man, (my memory had finally kicked in) with his sweet smile and captivating eyes had no place with me. Whatever his motivation, I didn’t need it. There were distractions aplenty to partake in without him messing it all up. His kind tended to do that.

It was two weeks later that the pressures of life told me that I needed to escape to my own personal, private retreat. Some people kept a journal to escape, others submersed themselves into fictional realities, or completely blanked out, I had my hideaway. Much like a child his tree house I suppose. I was convinced that it was my place alone for not even a whisper of another man’s trace had ever been seen there in all the years since I had discovered it. It was deep in the hills, probably once mountains millions of years ago but now a rolling vista of the most urbane showing of nature at its best. A flowered field surrounded securely by thick, comforting trees was the center of this world, a natural box of solitude and serenity where I could just disappear and repair myself. I never knew how long the trek to get there took, maybe hours, maybe half that, but it always felt like minutes.

I arrived at my refuge and sat down in the middle of the field. My box hid me from the world as I knew it and I felt safe. The chaos of my life was stuffed away for the rejuvenation of my sanctuary. I needed to be boxed up here every now and again, the poser that I felt I was was constantly falling apart. I could feel the poser crumbling more and more every day as I convinced myself that the things I chased in life really mattered and those “friends” of mine actually meant something. So I continued to band-aid the poser to stop anyone from noticing the fracture lines in her. The band-aids varied in form but today it came with being locked in my box, in hiding away in this field.

I sat there for a while re-familiarizing and re-convincing myself with the lies of the poser within so that I could sell her again to the pimp called Life.  But then, from without the dregs of my mind, in the midst of my hidden sanctuary I heard a voice speak. At first I thought it was a recently repressed memory resurfacing but then the voice spoke again and I knew it to be present reality.

“Hello.” I looked up in shock. It was him. What on earth was he doing here?

“Hi.” I responded unsure of what to make of this situation.

“May I join you?” He smiled warmth and I somehow knew I could trust him, wanted to desperately. I quickly recovered myself and realized that I was angry despite my desire. I was angry at him for invading my field, angry at him for making me feel embarrassed in this place where I had no guard up.  “No,” I responded uncaring about my bluntness. How long had he been watching me?  I felt like I had been caught in the middle of cosmetic surgery, the lies of who I was completely exposed. “This is private property. Leave before I notify the authorities.”

“If this is private property then aren’t you trespassing as well?”

I tried to lie again, had a dozen comebacks jump to my mind at once but my tongue refused to cooperate so I stared at him instead. He really was beautiful. Perfect. Special. Unspoiled. He offered down his hand to help me stand and I stared at it like it was an unknown object.

“Let me help you up.” No, I thought. I don’t want you to have anything to do with me. Our kinds don’t blend with each other. I’ll spoil you. You should be on display in a museum.

                He offered again and still I did nothing. He had invaded my reconstructive box here but I was happy to remain in it and there was only room for one. I had hurt him in my refusal, I could see that, but I pushed aside any sentiment to feel sorry as emotional weakness.

“Very well.” Jesse said choosing alternatively to sit down across from me. He crossed his legs and watched me watch him. Neither of us said anything for a long time, it seemed the right thing to do, the soft rubbery grass making a comfortable waiting ground.

“You’re very beautiful,” he said at last.

“How did you find me here?” I demanded in return.

“I was thinking about you,” he replied with the passion of one who had truly searched for his treasure not dissuaded by my cold show, “and found my way here.” I wasn’t sure what to think of that but for a reason only this man possessed I didn’t find his comment creepy or even wrong.

“I think it’s time for you to go now.”

Jesse took the dismissal well. He slowly stood up dusting his dirtless legs off and began to leave and only then did I realize that a great peace had calmed my disturbed soul, that the imposter that I was had vanished without a painful trace. I knew all this because the calm left with him and I could feel the broken imposter quickly returning to the throne she ruled from but could no more because in those few moments Jesse had ruined me for her. She didn’t fit in her throne anymore. I wanted that serenity back that he gave me. No more band-aids and games that had no end. They had only driven me to hate myself.

“Wait!” I turned on my seat in panic to his back, yet only a few feet away, and he turned to face me. Those eyes! The peace washed over me again and I knew then that I had to have more of him. Lots more. But my pride and residual anger wouldn’t ask him to return immediately. “I’m coming back tomorrow.”

His smile grew until it reached his eyes lighting them even brighter than before- if that were possible, but he acknowledged conservatively. “I’m glad.”

And so the next day I raced back to our hidden field of solitude and met him there, and the next day and the next and the next many days afterward. Every day I was with him I found myself wanting less and less to do with my life prior to meeting him. It was a loveless and thankless life that I had somehow convinced myself I had a passion for and the more time I spent with Jesse the more I saw that. He was such a smart man I drank in his every word and yet we laughed so much in that field I think I learnt as much from laughing as anything he ever said.

I had to leave town on a trip for a week, one I had been looking forward to for months but now it felt like a duty of sacrifice and all I could think about was our field and Jesse, my love. My friends noticed right away my inability to live in the moment and thrive on the distractions I was once the queen of but I wouldn’t tell them anything. They wouldn’t have allowed it, would even throw around the word forbid. Jesse was a different kind and belonged to another world. Their hatred for him would be on my behalf and that was unacceptable.

The day I returned from the trip I wasted no time getting to our field in the mountains. Even though the sun had barely begun to light the sky he was waiting for me as I somehow knew he would be and I raced into his arms and was wrapped up in their comforting familiarity.

“I missed you so much. Never let me go.” I nuzzled my face into his chest and he kissed the top of my head. We stayed that way for a glorious time as my soul was restored by him. I had never before felt my life so enlivened by anyone the way he could bring me, not the poser, to life.

“I love you,” he said. “I love you with my life.” Was that sadness in his voice? No, I must have been mistaken. This was a happy moment. “Let me show you something. Here, follow me.” Any thought of sadness dropped away like water through an open ended bucket and I grabbed up his hand and ran after him into the woods. He was so excited it was intoxicating. We had run maybe a full minute before he slowed up and told me to cover my eyes. I was nervous at what this could be but I knew and trusted my Jesse so I did as he asked probably grinning like a nervous little girl. He led me forward, enough to clear the tree line, then hugged me in front of him so that I would feel safe before gently removing my hands from my eyes.

It took a fraction of a second for my eyes to take the whole scene in but my gasp of amazement was immediate. It was overwhelming; I had never seen anything like it before, the flawlessness, the perfection. If the field had been paradise then this was what heaven was. It was everything my field, my box, wasn’t. What I had thought was rejuvenation and freedom I now knew to be a dull work cubicle.

“Do you like it?” Jesse asked softly into my ear as though to speak any louder would be a tragedy against the artwork before us. The grin in his voice was unmistakable.

“Outside of you, this is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.” I couldn’t take my sight away to look behind me at Jesse, my love, but I could tell he was gazing out at the landscape with the same wonder as I was.

We were at the edge of a cliff which fell sharply down a mile or so. The rising sun, still hidden by over bloated hills had painted everything in the most wonderful golden colour. So saturated was the golden bath that maybe it was a sunset- how long had we clung to each other hugging? The old rounded mountainous hills extended for miles on either side beyond sight and between them a wide valley was formed in which sat a golden mirror that pretended it was a lake. A small flock of song birds jumped out of the trees next to us and took flight. The whole sight took my breath away.  I knew then in that moment that I worshipped this man.

There were no walls, no enclosure, it was unsafe and yet couldn’t be more secure. It was the unmolested world, the one I was meant to live in and together we were standing on the edge of it. I had been too concerned with keeping the shell of myself together in my box that I had never bothered to look beyond the tree line to see the possibility that lay beyond.

I could’ve stayed there for the rest of my life wrapped in his arms. I loved him; I told him that I did, that I would die for him. He said nothing in response just held me closer like he would never let go. I didn’t want him to.

The time soon came when I became bold enough to make my love known and the response was what I had expected: disbelief, disapproval, hate towards him. Not only did my friends do all they could to get the old me back but everyone I could possibly know did too and even those I didn’t know tried to bring me back to their world, the one I had left for him. I was different now and no more fun.  He was not one of us, one of them. He made them feel wrong and they didn’t like that. They didn’t like that my singular love for him condemned their lives too.

Gradually everyone around me began rejecting me from their circles as they said things and did things to me that will never again be spoken of.  In a last hope effort to get the finest player of their masquerade back my closest remaining friends lured me with my own dark temptations into being whisked away for two weeks to the Mecca of our lusts. To their glory and my immobilizing shame, they succeeded those two weeks. My own temptations were brought back to life weakening my resolve to resist my previous chaotic, distraction filled life and I picked it up without a missed beat. They revived in me all my old habits and wild tricks that had made me such a competitor in their world.  I didn’t want to do any of it but somehow I did and I smiled while I did it.

When I returned home I returned to my senses and I wanted to die, felt like I already was dying because of the shame I now bore.  They celebrated because they thought they had resurrected me but no, they had buried me alive. I ran away from their re-acceptance and hid myself where I couldn’t be found and refused to even let my life, my love, find me. I was dying without him but if I saw him I’d tell him everything and that would wound him beyond repair and I could never live with that. He had given so much of himself so that I could have value in myself and in those two weeks I had thrown it all out like an anorexic would a beautiful plate of food: wanting to keep it but unable to overcome the inner demons that wished otherwise. This was our tragic romance. Our kinds were never meant to stay together. Jesse my love deserved someone who wouldn’t embarrass his efforts and love.

Seeing the results of my withering away, my followers, my friends, realized they had lost me for good and turned their hope for me to despisement. And then they somehow discovered me, found where I was hiding. Or maybe I had been given up? They stormed my dark hole and took out on me all their frustration towards me and anger and hate for him. It was too late to retaliate against them and I had no real fight in me anyway. This is what I deserved, an imposter in two worlds and a failure in both. My Jesse was too perfect, he couldn’t stay in this world of mine it would defile him; like I had his heart. I would never see him again because of my failures and I didn’t blame him.

They grabbed up and dragged my broken body into the street by a clump of my hair in their fists.

 

Imposter of Kinds- Part 1/3

My soul and my lips yearn to speak love to you, my love, in the darkness of the night, in the brightness of the day. You alone have won my heart- the Great Romance. I live for your love and I live to let you know mine.

They had dragged me out into the streets by a clump of my hair wrapped up in their unmerciful, blinded hands. I had done my best to scream protest having tried to wrestle and squirm my weakened body away from their grip before they threw me down, scraping my face against the pitted asphalt, but they had beaten me until I hurt and bled all over so my scream had little more effect than having whimpered my innocence. Their eyes wouldn’t see and their ears wouldn’t hear anyway. We all knew anything I tried to do to lessen my suffering now would be as vain as a fly struggling before its wings were plucked off.

Condemned.

I tried to cry but it hurt too much; maybe they had gouged my whorish eyes out so I couldn’t remind them of their own indiscretions.

But I could still see.

My eyes remained though with blurry vision. I was in fact crying and doing so felt like sandpaper scraping down my cheeks.

Here in the open street more mockers awaited their turn with me. Stripped clean they cut me again and amused themselves with me for their entertainment. I had been chosen as their scapegoat and today I would die for their sins and mine.

I had once been just like these people and that’s why I was here. They had been my family and my closest companions but now I witnessed them for what they truly were. I had seen the light of truth. I had found true love and in my refusal to denounce it their jealously had turned to hate, and their hate in turn now powered their judgement being acted out upon me- these people who were dear to me.  Their voices were like banshees, their faces were like demons, wicked tongues slithered about the air, each one more daring than the last in their assault upon me.

No longer satisfied with hearing my bones crack down stairs and with simple torn and pulpy flesh ceasing to bring fulfillment, they brought forth their bricks and nails and broken glass and my mind inked out the rest.  Suddenly I became more scared of the instruments than I was of them. The terror that beset me fuelled their lust further and with my last feeble attempt to escape my swollen ankle finally betrayed me and I collapsed in a stale shallow pool of oil and rat dung.

In their ravenous desire one grabbed up my hair, my arm in another hand, and another grabbed my swollen ankle and together they pulled in opposite directions disturbing dislocations and re-opening all of my settled wounds and my body began to convulse. I had nothing left and my full screams grew tiring even to my own ears- if they still remained. Every place I landed blood and flesh remained behind.

One of their questions found itself to my lost mind- had it been repeated?

“Where is he?” The looming deception was so thick it was blinding but in what way I didn’t know.

I love him, tell them that! Tell them!

Even though my fate was sealed, I somehow couldn’t muster enough bravery to say it.

“Where is he?” The question was asked again more emphatically, “Tell us and we’ll spare your life.” That was the deception.

Was there even any life left to spare? The hands that had pulled me up dropped me back down.

A foot to my spine was the incentive to answer. I was so scared, so terrified. They could hurt me even more and they would, they were. I wouldn’t leave alive this I knew, but if I succumbed to that fact then all my hope would be gone and hope alone kept me breathing. He will come for me. He will save me.

No. No, he couldn’t dare.

“Where is he?!” Another kick, to my head, powered the strength of the words. I felt a tooth dislodge and I started to choke on the blood. I felt the struggle my brain was having in keeping my body alive and in that moment I knew they had broken me.

“Stop. Help me.” I managed to let escape the plea between coughs inaudible over their angry mocking which was nothing more than an indiscernible raucous.

“Help isn’t free.” A manicured feminine foot wearing sandals stomped down on my forearm already laced with defensive slashes and bruises. I could only cry. “You know the price.”

I begged him, my love, begged the void where he wasn’t before I did this terrible thing. I love you I’m so sorry for this.
“He….. he’s at….”

“Right here. ‘He’ is right here.”

He had come, that was him! That voice was unmistakable! I couldn’t see him but I yelled out for him with all I had left before I could stop myself. This very cry might be my death cry but at least it was for him. I instantly regretted my display by the punishment inflicted on my bloodied body and by my sudden awareness that I didn’t want him to see me; especially not now.

He loves me! He will save me. But I’ve betrayed him, was just about to betray him, betrayed him multiple times, all the things I said I would never do and never do again. I deserve this. I belong here.

“I’m right here.” He repeated. The crowd acted together and made way for him. All my pain and terror welled up and threatened to smother me. The declaration of his arrival shattered me inside as terribly as I was already on the outside. They would kill him. They would do worse things to him than they had to me. And I was just about to give him over to it. Knowing this I could feel my soul shrivelling up.

“No.”  No, not you, not you my life. They would forget the scapegoat for the source of evil. Or so they had thought him to be. Since mirrors only reflected then this man had to be a defective mirror. He had to be the original evil they tried to hide reflected in themselves. This was their thought. The truth couldn’t have been more dramatically different. His beautiful, bright life just exposed the evil that had been there all along. He wasn’t the source of it.

“I am here, you have me. Let her go.”

“No!” My muscles were starting to stiffen. It was harder to move but the torture of my heart from his words overwhelmed my shame and self-loathing. My blood slickened and broken hand reached up to him. He would see me and change his mind, he would disappear and I would die broken, inside and out. Die for what I deserved. My hope for life had been murdered, not renewed, with my decision to betray him.

My attempt to scare him away drew his attention to me, my love, he saw me, his beautiful bright eyes full of compassion looked down at me and I quickly turned my head in humiliation and guilt. I never deserved him. Instead of being repulsed at the sight of me, he came close and sat down on the dirty street next to me. So great was his presence that the crowd didn’t move to touch him. He had come. Come to rescue me. I cried for him and he came. The thought mutilated my soul even more.

He delicately picked up a matt of bloody hair that had fallen across my bruised and maimed face putting it aside as lovingly as though it were still soft and beautiful. It was then that he locked his eyes into mine, I couldn’t bear to look away again, not from him, and he saw into me. Nothing could be hidden, he saw my betrayal and my broken promises; every single one of them. I must’ve been such a disappointment.

“Go.” I gurgled out. “Go. They will kill you.”

“Yes. But you will live. Your body will grow new. I love you. I love you more than life. I have chosen you.”

“But-“

“Shhh. I know. I forgive you everything, even that which you going to say.  Love is stronger than all that.” He leaned down and kissed my forehead, gently, peacefully.  “More than life.” Then he stood up, his eyes glistened with tears, nodded once and was immediately seized from all directions. Two large chested grunts grabbed up my arms and dragged me away. I screamed out now not for me but for him and the pain of the move against my vain desperation was too much. My world went black. Darkness faded in fast and I remembered…

 

The Gift- An Adapted Excerpt

I present a teaser of an excerpt I’ve adapted for this purpose from the novel I’m currently working on called “The Gift”. It’s a Christmas supernatural thriller. Spread the word if you liked it or know someone who might be interested, it’d be great to see some excitement generated for it- makes convincing someone to publish it that much easier! 🙂 Coming to a Christmas season near you!

Test 2

The Gothic cathedral, quite small in comparison to its European brethren, had its intimidating cast iron guard door pulled back to reveal the iron wood entrance on which was hung a fresh evergreen Christmas wreath. Its bright green boughs, and red and gold ribbons stood out like it were the only colour in a black and white photo. The innermost iron wood door was cracked open indicating the building was open to the public for truly it was the biggest tourist attraction in this little Belgian village. Fae Peeters detoured from her lazy afternoon stroll through the snow dusted, stone paved plaza driven to find out which Biblical scene was chiseled in depiction upon the edge of the portal; not from any religious obligation but out of sheer professional curiosity. Sometimes the stories they told were more creative than others. She liked the fact that it was called a portal and not simply just a door. It was a perfect reflection of the mindset people had when they entered a cathedral- going to a whole other realm like space cadets. It was poetic.

Not being much of an art historian but familiar with the language of sculpture from its presence in her studies in architecture, Fae looked up at the sculptures and tried to read its story, both sides, from the bottom up. There were four half tubular columns running parallel to each other all the way up to the top until they curved inwards ending in a converging point twenty feet above her head. Each tubule column was big enough to hold one human figure, tall and solemn. To her right was the scene of the ascension of Jesus- expected, some of the disciples looking up as Jesus rose into heaven surrounded by his angels who populated most of three-quarters of the scene, all the way up to the top of the peak in the portal. On her left side, the evil side by ancient tradition, was a different story.

Two people stood in the two center columns and on either side of them two demons. It was easy to identify the evil forces as snake tails coiled out from beneath their long cloaks and blank smooth stone was all that there was in the place of what little face should have been there peeking out from beneath their droopy hoods; one of them had wings which spread out of its confines within the column. As she followed their story upwards, the demons crossed the lines and reached at the two people, pulling them into their cloaked grasp and putting their long split tongues into their ears. In the next scene the two people had the demons’ heads and their hands were skeletal with thick manacles having been added to their wrists. Only by the magic of art did they not fall off nothing as there was to keep the chains from falling off.  The frame above that was the chained skeleton people having completely lost their ability to see, hear or talk due to the demons’ tongues twisting in, around and through their skulls, and even one had the long tongue winding down to wrap around their wrists like a puppet string. The second frame from the top Jesus appeared and above that, before the artist ran out of space, the two people were restored as they had been, the chains having disappeared and the demons nowhere to be seen. Just two saints and Jesus.

With her head tipped back looking up at the art Fae was sure it was the most horrific piece ever displayed on the exterior of the church. She had never seen anything like this before in church low relief, never in any picture, scholarly article or even as an example in a lecture. Surely this was not the Fall of Man, but some obscure Biblical story perhaps? The tale of two saints maybe?

Her eyes drifted back down to the demonic people with skeleton hands and she stared at it captured by the disturbed nature of the sight. A feeling of fear began to creep into her as she studied the scene, crawling up her spine and slowly reaching its cold tendrils through her chest and out to her heart. She found herself looking at it harder, trying to decode its message and symbolism, wanting to be objective and emotionally detached but the gripping of the fear made that impossible. Without her even noticing, the switch from academic to imagination happened and she began to see a green fog seep out from the very pores of the demonic stone people. Ten minutes ago she would have mentally kicked herself to reset her mind and tried to spot the hole from which the cheap trick was being released. But now, right now, she was as dumb as a bug and as transfixed with the fog as she had been with the figures realizing that this green of this fog was unearthly. It came out too smoothly to have been mechanically released  and as she watched, rooted to the ground with fear, it fell to the earth and shifted its path towards her. The fear had found its way around her heart and lungs making it hard to breath, the green fog was reaching out for her, she had to get away!

“It speaks to you, doesn’t it?”

Fae startled as a voice behind her spoke snapping her out of the uncomfortable enraptured state she had fallen into. Seeking out the voice she found it belonged to a priest, a middle aged man with stylish eyeglasses but a balding pattern on the front of his head.

“It speaks to all of us.” He continued. “Dead we all were, transformed to look like our master, sin, before Jesus came and set us free to be ourselves.”

“I had thought they were demons.” Fae said as though she had authority on the subject, pointing to the stone figures who looked so evil. The green fog was gone without a trace. It was her mind betraying her again, it had to be. No longer entranced by the hideous figures Fae felt their power over her ebb away until she felt the chill wash back down her spine like a receding tide until it disappeared.

“No. They are anthropomorphic representations of sin. The artists back then knew a thing or two that we have forgotten. Sin is as forceful as any person, as domineering and mean as a slaver. It gives you no choice in your actions. It takes you over and plays you like an instrument.” The priest smiled warmly at Fae. “I was just heading out for some lunch, would you care to join me? I feel like we could have a lot to talk about.”

“We have nothing to talk about.” Fae said feeling irritation rising from her gut. “Sin is just what religious people call personal choices the church doesn’t like.”

The priest didn’t look surprised by her answer. “Do you believe there is evil?”

“Of course I do.”  She had no intention of getting involved debating with a priest and yet that was exactly what he seemed to want. “But sin and evil are different. One exists and the other doesn’t.”

“Are they so different? Or is one just a verb of the noun?”

“I am sorry, Father, but I am not interested in your religious thought. I am comfortable with what I believe and if you let me be, then I won’t make any trouble with what you believe, okay? Please, enjoy your lunch.”

Fae trotted down the stone steps leaving the priest behind her.

“Fae Peeters,” The priest shouted after her, “your grandmother told me of the gift she wants you to have. She went far out of her way to make sure you came and visited our little village this Christmas to get it.”

Fae stopped cold in her place. He had her attention.

“How did you know I am Fae Peeters?” She asked suspiciously.

“I have never met your grandmother, Miss. Peeters, but she has a heart of gold that shines through her words and her deeds. I know who you are because you are the only visitor this village has right now. Word gets around. If your grandmother didn’t tell me of you, I would have asked if you really wanted to be here for tomorrow night.”

“Seriously I’m not sure I do, but the mystery grows.”

“The Gift is not for everyone; well, not in the manner of giving it that we have anyway.”

“I really have no idea what is happening here or why everyone I meet is so nervous about me being here. If I’m breaking any laws-”

“No, no. Not official ones anyway. All will be revealed in good time, Miss. Peeters. I’m sorry that you do not want lunch. I was hoping we could be friends before the festivities began.”

The priest followed the steps down and told Fae as he walked by, “When the time comes you will remember this church of God. When you do, you will have the gift your grandmother wishes you to have.”

“My grandmother wouldn’t lure me inside your cathedral like a sheep about to be fleeced. Nice try, Father. Maybe I will go inside to admire the workmanship but that’s it.”

The priest eyed her studiously and gave a short, “Hmmmm,” then began to walk away into the sparsely crowded square of people going this way and that.

“How will I know the time for my gift?” Fae called out after him. “What if the time never comes, will I still get it?” The priest turned around and asked her seriously.

“Did your grandparents ever tell you why the Nazi’s fled our village?”

“No!” She didn’t understand what his question had to do with hers. “An unknown Christmas miracle is all I was ever told.”

He looked at her silently for two beats.

“God bless you Fae Peeters and joyeaux Noël. Don’t miss the festivities tomorrow- it’s the most dramatic celebration of the real reason of Christmas you have ever seen. The reviews have come back saying that it’s frighteningly accurate.” He smiled slightly. “The doors to the church are always open Miss. Peeters. Always.”

And then the priest was gone, down one of the little Belgian village streets, off to grab his lunch.

Fae shivered in the winter cold but she wasn’t sure it was because of the cold. Her thoughts went back to the graffiti on the train station wall: you must die to leave alive. The trouble was Fae was starting to worry that that wasn’t just the expression of a rebellious teenager but of something much, much more.

Perspectives

A number of months ago I entered the Canadian Writer’s Guild Short Story Contest with this piece. I heard about the contest with only a few days remaining until the contest end date and so armed with only those few days, I prepared this story and sent it in. Obviously I had no belief I would win this contest with such little time but I was recently informed via written letter that I did make the apx. top 100 cut. I couldn’t have been happier. Please enjoy this Top 100 short story from Canada’s unprofessional writers 🙂

 

He sat hunched over in the thinly padded tweed chair of the doctor’s office staring blankly at his scuffed black shoes. He should have been embarrassed with their shoddy appearance but he hadn’t the energy or desire to care this past week. Having buffed shoes was such a trivial, vain thing anyway. He probably would never care about such things ever again.

To an outsider he probably looked like he was mindlessly waiting, bored, like everyone else in this waiting room; but that couldn’t have been further from reality. His mind was swimming in turmoil, noisily, tortuously, putting him back in the birthing room with his wife. She had been so grateful and proud that he had managed to stick it out by her side for the whole event. Even though she was the real hero he had felt like one telling her that it was almost over, that she was a champion, a real rock star.

But then his son, his beautiful, perfect son, stopped coming out while the contractions continued. His wife’s incredible warrior screams transformed into pure agony and the doctors and nurses shoved him aside with force suddenly talking a new language of “doctor-ese” leaving him very confused, very afraid, and very much in the dark about what was happening. Stuffed powerless into the corner he was haplessly forced to watch his son strangle himself on the same cord that, moments before, had been life to him. One complication led to another and by the end of it his son was dead and his wife wouldn’t stop bleeding. The events unfolded one after another before his mind’s eye in what seemed to be eternal purgatory.

He had failed both his son and his wife. He was the worst hero ever.

That’s as far as he ever got in his thoughts before they quit on themselves. The lasting image that stayed with him, the one that kicked him in his gut, was catching a glimpse of his boy’s blue body through the white coated arms and bodies of the attending physicians.

He pinched his eyes tight to press out the tears before they could fall and he huffed out a cough to release his constricting throat. With a single, strong sniff of his nose he raised his eyes to look up through his eyebrows and scanned the room. No one had paid him any attention. They were all focused on being shut up behind stupid magazines or their stupid phones. What a waste of time. These people were wasting their precious gift of life on such stupid, meaningless wastes of time….!

His grief councillor had warned him about this, that he would start getting mad at people for leading their shallow, ignorant lives, so he dropped his eyes and stared at his scuffed shoes again instead. But there was no relief to be found there. From the pale color swirls in the linoleum flooring he saw his boy’s name pop out like 3D- Trevor James MacMillan. It was chiseled there in the floor just like it was on his little grave plaque.

A shudder ran through his body, the trusted warning that he was about to hopelessly lose his semblance of composure so he forced himself to shakily exhale out loud in counts of five to curb his breakdown. The sound of his uneasy breaths evoked memories of the sounds his wife had made after….after she was told. She had been too exhausted to cry.
Thinking of his wife caused him to instinctively raise his head again to look at the doctor’s door she had been admitted to for her checkup: still closed. The doctor needed to see that her body was properly recovering from all the damage. She had lived but only thanks to some miracle. The doctors never were able to stop the bleeding on their own.

It was then that he noticed a movement by the entrance as a perky young lady entered the waiting room humming along with her iPod. She sat next to him with one chair separating them honouring the unwritten rule of public seating etiquette.  She smiled sweetly at him as she sat down but as their eyes made contact she saw something else other than what she was expecting and her smile fell. Her blue eyes became sympathetic and not wanting her to speak to him he dropped his eyes back down to his shoes before she could said anything because she looked the type to do it. The only people he talked to anymore were his wife and his grief councillor when he had to; the only two people who knew his pain.

“Hey there, Jackie!” The receptionist’s greeting cut through the air like the music of an irritating ice cream truck. The young lady beside him sent back a quick wave. “He should be out in the next five or ten minutes.”

“Perfect! Thanks!” She responded, her cheeriness showing through in her reply.

He was irritated as the two of them conversed back and forth like two cute birds. Why did they have to sound like that? There were birds in the nearly leafless branches of the trees when they had put…..when they gave…………when they had showed little Trevor the underside of his name plaque.

He pinched his eyes again and this time his foot started tapping. He didn’t want to be here anymore. He just wanted to go home. If he just cleared his mind and purged his feelings he could get through this. It was the best a failed hero could do.

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Jackie parked her car in the last available spot in the parking garage and gave herself a pat on the back for grabbing it first. She rocked! The fact that there was a whole other level to the complex riddled with empty spaces was not particularly relevant to her self-congratulations.
A favourite, high energy song was ending on the radio so she idled the car singing along to it while she sent a quick text to Mike telling him that she just arrived. She added a heart at the end of it and those silly looking kissing lips then sent it with a quick, accentuated tap from her finger. With the final notes of her song being played she quickly assessed her reflection in the rear-view mirror practicing her cute smile of greeting-the same one she’d give that handsome, brainy boyfriend of hers, and turned the car off, her song over.  Without missing a beat she had her earbuds in and her iPod on singing her a soundtrack for her wonderful life.

It was such a gorgeous day out.  The season was late fall but the temperatures had been surprisingly warm these past few days and so she was going to have lunch with Mike on an outside patio café before everyone closed their patios for the season. She didn’t know which café they were going to go to today but Mike always had a good selection of places from his doctor buddies.

Zipping up her black leather jacket, not because it was cold but because she preferred how it looked that way, she entered the building and effortlessly found the waiting room where she would wait for her wonderful man.

It was a fairly full room but she found a good spot beside a tired looking man which gave her a full view of the patient rooms any one of them able to open up at any moment and- the man beside her had woken up from his doze and was staring at her. Had she been singing out loud again? Oops. She couldn’t help it! Life was just so good, it was hard to hold it in.

He was a young man, all the makings for being stylishly well dressed but he had somehow missed the mark. She smiled at him hoping a cheery greeting from his doze would get him off to a great start. But then she noticed the glaze over his tired eyes, the completely worn lines in his face, and a scruffy beard that was probably about a week old. She pieced the picture together that this couldn’t have been a part of his style.  The poor man. What had he been through?

Madeline the receptionist called out her greeting having just replaced the phone in its cradle and Jackie returned her grateful thanks. She was such a sweet lady. She even gave Christmas cookies to Jackie last year, as well as Mike, though she teased that maybe this year she’d only have to give one batch instead of two. Madeline was a great cheerleader for them.

With a few minutes to spare until Mike finished with his patient she turned on her phone to check the latest news. She always confused people with being a political junkie. They never expected such a serious interest from someone as cheery as her but what could she say? There was more to her than what met the eye.

She had only gotten a few paragraphs into her article of interest when she noticed the poor man beside her slowly, purposefully writing on a note pad he had pulled from the inside of his jacket. Whatever he was writing was his business so she returned to her reading, but she got no further than one more short paragraph before her inquisitiveness spurred her to at least try to find out why this stylish man was writing with traditional pen and paper and not tapping it out on his phone or tablet. She didn’t intend to be nosy but his intense focus compelled her to at least try and sneak a peek.

As subtly and respectfully as anyone could whilst reading over a stranger’s shoulder, she stretched her eyes to make out his man scribbles taking place on the paper.

                Hey Trevor,

                This is your Dad. You got to know your Mom pretty well but you never met me. The grief councillor said it sometimes helps to write a letter. You fought like a pro little man. You made a proud Daddy out of me.

                Your Mom and I went to see you this morning. She laid a dozen roses out for you to smell. I gave you that little backpack of mini-balls. I didn’t know which sport you’d like so I got you a ball and puck from all of them.

Jackie saw the pen stop writing and, afraid that she’d been caught, shot her eyes back to reading her phone like she had never stopped hoping that she had been quick enough. She waited a moment and then, risking a side glance at the man, she saw him staring at her with those sad, exhausted eyes and she knew that she had been found out. The easy thing would be to pretend nothing had happened but that’d be rude so she plucked out her earbuds and half turned to him in the restrictive chair.

“I am so sorry.” She said guarding her voice. Waiting rooms were always so quiet and she didn’t want to attract attention. “You don’t see too many people writing with paper anymore and it just caught my attention. You really are a great dad.” She kept her smile reserved so as not to crush him with her clashing positive emotion. He didn’t say anything or give any indication that she was forgiven for trespassing but kept staring up at her, hunched over like gravity was too much weight for him.

“Do…do you mind me asking what happened?”

Maybe she imagined it but it looked like his face softened if only for an instant before his facial muscles began to tighten and he turned away from her again.

Just then the door to the patient room on the far left clicked open and the man beside her suddenly sprang to life; “sprang” being relative to his current state. He made a beeline over to take the arm of the pale young woman who came out.

“Dr. Litchen.” Was all he said in acknowledgement of the doctor but Jackie’s ears perked up immediately. The doctor was still in the room out of sight from where she was sitting but that was her Mike, Dr. Mike Litchen.

“Your wife will be physically fine Mr. MacMillan.” Mike said emerging from the room using his best doctor’s voice. “The side effects she was complaining of are expected and there are no signs of scarring. Unless anything else comes up, I won’t need to see her again.”

Mr.MacMillan nodded his thanks to Mike and with his wife leaning on him the two sullenly passed by Jackie as they took their leave just as Mike called out to her. Mr. MacMillan caught her eye as she stood up and she kept his gaze until he took it with him past her.  It was a revelation to the both of them it seemed that both love and death were found with the same doctor. Life could be so strange.

Mike met her half way through the waiting room smiling lovingly at her and took up her hand in his as they walked back into the room he had just come from. Like many times before he would quickly clean up the room and then they’d be out to lunch. She wanted to ask about the couple he had just seen but as she passed through the door he closed it behind himself. Coming up to her he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close, his smile taking on a different, more private colour. And just like that Mr. MacMillan’s mystery was one that no longer needed solving.

So maybe they’d be a bit late for lunch today.

He Stepped Onto the Train

It was a simple writing exercise. Everyone began with the same generic sentence and in 4 leaps of adding details, they expanded it into something entirely amazing. Let’s see what happened.

Starting Sentence: He Stepped Onto the Train.

 

1. He hopped silently into the long retired train hoping that no rusty metal gave his position away.
2. Having drawn his sidearm skillfully in front of him, he silently hopped into the cold, dreary train from the outside hoping that the rusty metals of the car didn’t give away his position.
3. Having drawn the standard issue gun he had taken from the guard he had disarmed at the gate, Sasha silently hopped into the cold, dreary train from the outside with a soft thud hoping that the rusted metals of the forgotten car didn’t give away his position.
4. Having drawn the standard issue gun taken from the guard he had disarmed at the gate, Sasha silently hopped into the cold, dreary train from the world outside which had turned on him. His thick soled hiking boots landed with a soft thud as he wasted no time quickly stalking forward the gun leading the way. His only hope now was that the rusty metals of the long retired car didn’t betray his position to the five, maybe six or seven agents who were overseeing his…..questioning. They thought he was still unconscious in seat 6B. They thought this train graveyard would hide the treason of their boss, the senator, but they were wrong.