Category Archives: short story

God Doesn’t Run on Batteries

A couple of weeks ago I had to walk my dog in the dark and by dark I mean more than an hour and half until sunrise. Besides the cold and the rain and the early mornings, the lack of light was really something new to me. I mean I have been on Lake Superior’s shores at midnight but this was a different kind of darkness. Up at the Lake I always knew that I could just walk a couple of feet and find my cabin or walk a couple of feet and find my friends.

But this darkness was different, it was more than just nighttime darkness, it was pervasive, swallowing, encompassing, and lonely darkness. Yes, I had the stars and my flashlight but it was strange to not see other people, other house lights, other signs of life more than the occasional cricket or tree swaying in the wind. It felt like I was the only human in the conscious world. Now I know this all may sound too dramatic and like I am a five-year-old scared of the dark, but to be honest the darkness is scary. The darkness is the unknown and I found a new perspective of that because of my early morning walks.

When I walked in the morning, the only sources of light were my flashlight, the stars, and my house end lights. The lack of light made the light all the more precious and I gained new insight to verses about light, particularly about Psalm 119:105 and Matthew 5:14-16.

My flashlight actually was a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. I relied on it to know if my next step was okay to take and where my next few steps would take me. The amount of trust I put into my flashlight is downright crazy. My family has had that flashlight since before I was born and not once did I think about it going out on me. I didn’t once think about the batteries or what I would do if it went out, I just trusted that it would guide me.

That’s the way I want to be with God. To put total trust in Him to secure my next step and to show me where to walk next. I should put even more trust in God than my flashlight because God doesn’t run on batteries. I only knew where I was with my flashlight if I pointed it in the direct I wanted to go, but what if that was the wrong direction? With God, I don’t decide the direction; God does. Oh, am I glad that He is my guide. His timing and direction is beyond perfect, beyond any coincidence I could even think of, God truly still is the God of miracles. How much better would my life be if I trusted Him to guide me to the right path verses trying to stumble my way through the darkness? We should trust God to guide us because He knows the road map when we only have a tiny flashlight.

Just think about how much time and energy we waste having this pent up anxiety about which path to take, what university to go to, which job to take, who is the right partner. Just think how much easier it would be just to give it all over to God, to let Him guide you through life, to let Him be the light on your path. I want to let my path be God’s path, my light to be God’s light, my life to be God’s life. I want to be God’s. I don’t have that much time and energy to waste trying to figure out my life when I know God already has it all figured out and I just need to say “yes”. God is my light and my guide.

The other verse I gained insight to was Matthew 5:14-16, particularly about the city on the hill. I walk my dog around the property line of my ten-acres and my house is in the center of my property built on a hill. I could see my house’s end-lights from anywhere on the property and my house became a sort of beacon. A beacon saying, “Within this light is safety and familiarity, the darkness and the unknown is not present here.” My house and the light was safety, safety from the wild animals that could be just around the next tree, safety from the unknown.

This thought was quite different from my general take away from Matthew 5: 14-16, I had always thought that the ‘city on a hill’ was a light of goodness and hope to a world in darkness. Now I realize different, the city is also a refuge, a shield from the darkness, just enough time to catch your breath before you plunge back into the unknown. The Church should also be a city on a hill, not just source of goodness and hope to the world but a place to go when you just need a break, when you need security, when you have been emptied and need to be filled. The Church should be restorative and a refuge. The Church shouldn’t just be a lighthouse or a beacon saying that hope still lives, it should also be a campfire – a place to come to to rest up and talk with friends, a place of comfort and community.

I realized that the darkness wasn’t scary after I focused on God and on His Word. God was the guide of my path, He had me securely in His light, so I didn’t have to worry anymore. Once you focus on God then the twists and turns and questions of life pale in comparison to His light. God is in control so step back and follow His light.

city on a hill

Minty Memories

 

Isn’t it funny how just a taste, smell, or song can bring back a flood of precious memories that somehow you hadn’t thought about in years.

Spearmint mouthwash reminded me of being six years old again. My twin sister, my cousin and I would act like the three spare bedrooms in my Grandma’s house were our apartments where we lived on our own.

My cousin was a spy, my sister was an accountant, and I was teacher. We would come home from “work” and promptly check our mailbox. (We actually had a little red play-mailbox with a flimsy yellow flag.) It didn’t matter that I couldn’t read or write more than my name and “I saw the dog run”, we would just tell each other what the scribbles meant.

After we read our mail, we would go over to my cousin’s “apartment” and she would make us Spearmint Gum Tea. We didn’t have any of those little girl tea cups, so we just used some of our Grandma’s little glasses that always felt like they had been washed in too hot of water. The gum itself was too “spicy” for me and that’s why it became tea. One third of a stick of Extra Spearmint Gum mixed with water was perfect. We laughed and giggled because we could and that’s what little girls do.

We would finish our “tea” and go back to our “apartments” and go to “sleep”. Then a few minutes later and one of us would cock-a-doodle-doo like a roster and we would “wake up” and “go to work”.

We would play this game of “life” until Grandma would zip up the stairs in her pure white blouse and gold rimmed buttons and tell us that it was time for lunch: chicken noodle soup, peach slices with the skins off and Italian bread with Meijer brand raspberry jam.

I hadn’t thought about that in ages, but each tiny detail came back with just a little taste of spearmint mouthwash.

spearmint

Lessons From a High Ropes Course

Yes, I will be following the trend of writing a blog post after completing a high ropes course. And yes, I will be following the trend of telling you that I learned more life lessons than physical strain or balance. So, let’s get rolling with all that motivational writing and inspiring speeches! 😉

First, like many other bloggers, I figured out why I am a blogger and not a monkey.

I got stuck two or three stories up in the air and called out for my mommy.

Well, let’s begin at the beginning first though. I was born at Genesys Hospital  . . . Okay maybe not that far beginning. 😉

I went to high ropes course with my sister and my cousin. I had already completed three lower level course, I was feeling pretty bold so I went for the challenge.

I got challenged alright.

I was half way across the obstacle when I figured out that I was stuck and was getting tangled in ropes. I also knew that I couldn’t go backwards, so the only way was to go forwards. First motivational/inspiring/life lesson: when you feel tangled in life or just want to go back to better yesterdays, the only thing you can do is keep moving forward. You can’t live life looking in the rear view mirror. Neither can you live life looking backwards on a high ropes course. Instead of looking back at a haunted past or better memories, use those to fuel you in your journey forwards. Instead of looking how far you have to go on the high ropes course, look at how far you have come.

So I untangled myself and felt quite pleased that I had thought about that life lesson. I took a few steps . . . and fell off the rope.

Don’t worry, I didn’t fall three stories, I had a harness on.

That harness was actually still caught on the rope. Just enough for me not want to get it off the rope and just enough for me to wish it hadn’t been caught. With the harness caught I couldn’t wouldn’t move because it was an extra safety. So I did the only logical thing to do, I called out for my mommy on the ground below.

Oh, and did I mention that my hat had fallen off, my hair was all in my eyes and my glasses barely stayed on my face? So I put my glasses in my pocket, and without them I can’t see five feet in front of my face. Well that is if I could see at all because of my hair. Oh what a pretty sight I must have been.

Second motivational/inspiring/life lesson: do what the Bible says. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “For we live by faith, not by sight”. I took a deep breath and just closed my eyes, tried to find a way to get myself back onto the course.

Third motivational/inspiring/life lesson: God is like a high ropes course harness. God is always hanging on to us as we navigate the obstacles of life and will keep us from falling when we make a wrong step. It is okay if we make some mistakes because we know God has our back.

Fourth motivational/inspiring/life lesson: to move forward you have to trust God and sometimes that means letting go of what little control you have. To move forward on the course I had to let the harness slip off of the rope. I trusted my harness and it didn’t let me down.

So I finally made it through that obstacle, only to watch my cousin zip through what I had struggled so hard on.

She’s a monkey, not a blogger.

Of course all of this happened a year ago. Don’t be silly, I wouldn’t showcase my masterful failure days after it happened, I need time to lick my wounds! 😉 Fifth motivational/inspiring/life lesson: it is okay to admit mistakes and problems to others. 2 Corinthians 1:4 says, “[Jesus] who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” Admitting troubles can be an outreach tool.

A couple weeks ago I went back to that same high ropes course and tried that same obstacle. I don’t know if I deserve that old saying though, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”.

I watched others complete the obstacle and analyzed what worked and why. I then compared what I learned with what I did wrong last time. Sixth motivational/inspiring/life lesson: self-analysis works. ‘Nuff said.

I completed with course not in record time, but I did complete the course. I had three secret weapons though: past experience, watching and learning from others, and I prayed the whole time. Knowledge is power, but God is all powerful, so I’d rather take God over knowledge.

Seventh motivational/inspiring/life lesson: God cares about and listens to even our little problems. Prayers don’t have to be all about world peace and finding the cure to cancer, prayers can be about everyday things or even about high ropes courses.

Eight motivational/inspiring/life lesson: facing old struggles with God can be empowering. You not only feel accomplished but also good because you relied on God.

Once I finished the course my mom’s first words out of her mouth were, “So when are you going to write a blog post about the high ropes course?”

Yep, I’m a blogger, not a monkey, but more importantly I’m a Christian. Thank you God for being my harness.

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Pixabay/user:Hans

Tarnished

Inspired by a line in a letter from a friend, “But I must add, my dear, how very cynical.”


He sighs, “But I must add, my dear,” his eyes glance over my fine features only for a moment not wanting to truly see me, “how very cynical.”

I dare a smile knowing he will not look back, “What would you rather me be?”

He paces the room, just like always. “Don’t play coy with me. Of course you know.”

It is the same dance every few weeks but with different sheet music. We cannot refuse but to have our words take hold and waltz through the night, without the going to the theater that I was so much looking forward to. And 1,2,3, “Remind me, please.”

He rubs his temples, “I understand what you went through was hard, an extremely tough situation that no one should have to go through. But you aren’t the same girl that I fell in love with anymore.”

I cannot help but laugh, a howl rather more, “How could I be?” I tug my sweater off, suddenly the room too hot for the comforts of cashmere. “I became someone so much stronger! You were in love with my weakness.”

“No, I was in love with your softness, your gentleness, your kindness. But now -” he sputters “now you are all sharp edges and I am afraid if I even touch you, I’ll be cut.”

“You always did have a way with words,” I sneer. Can’t he see how much better I am now than that puny, little girl he dazzled in that forever long Starbucks line? Can’t he see that this me is the only way I can cope what happened? Can’t he see I like myself better this way?

I guess he can’t. Or maybe he won’t.

I take control of my life now, say what I want, when I want. I live life how I want. I have learned to appreciate life the hard way. Back when I first met him, life was a never ending theme park roller coaster ride like on our third date to Six Flags. There was ups and downs but it would keep on going. Or so I thought.

He stops pacing and memorizes the plain, ordinary, egg shell white wall. “You were my shiny penny. I didn’t have much, but I had you. Now I have plenty, but I don’t have you.”

I break up the staring contest between him and the wall. He was going to lose anyways. No matter how furious I am at him, I still am startled at how dashing he looks in his tux. It reminds me of our wedding, happy smiles sparkled even more than the drinks did. “But I am standing right in front of you.”

“But you are a tarnish penny.” He pivots away from me in his Westwoods and paces once more. “This you, right now, is tarnishing the memories of the girl I loved. All the mean and hurtful words you spew tarnish the memories of telling your mom that we would clean up the kitchen just for an excuse to have some alone time for secret kisses. Your pessimism -”

I cut him off, “I’m being realistic.”

Louder this time, “Your pessimism about the very tilt of the earth allows you to fester your cynicism. What ever happened to the girl who dreamed of opening her own art gallery?”

“She died along with the baby,” I say, my voice taking on almost a visceral tone as it rightfully should. My breathes come shallow now.

He rushes to me now, his arms encompassing my thin form. If he embraced me like this when I first started dating him, I would have melted at his mere touch. My confidence was so delicate that I needed tactile reminders that he cared for me. But now, he fingers feel like tightening tentacles. This time, he looks me in the eye. “But I was there with you the whole time. We went through it together. I never abandoned you.” He wipes away my tear. I fight the urge to stiffen.  He then adds, “But why do I feel like you abandoned us?”

I pull away, hard and harsh, “You will never get it, you’ll never understand if you haven’t by now.”

I don’t need to see him to know he is crying. I memorized those shoulder shakes a long time ago.”Sometimes, I wonder if we would be better off if you would just leave. You tarnish everything good I ever had. My friends, my family, my love for you. Every fight like this, every cruel word tarnishes the happy memories I savor of the girl I fell in love with.”

I sigh, “But I must add, my dear,” if looks could kill, he would be dead on the marble floor, “how very cynical.”

penny

Flickr/DanielOines

Living My Own Legend

I recently found a short story that I meant to continue on with but never did. The story does end quite abruptly because it was never finished, but overall I am pretty happy with the writing considering how inexperienced I was when I first began writing it. Enjoy!


 

“Why did you change your name, Maurice?” My school counselor, Mr. Stephen, asked again.

“Okay, listen to me this time. Maurice Orca, verses Erik Quint. Which do you like better?” I say with a fatigued look on my face.

“Are you sure it’s not because of denial of your past, Maurice – “

“It’s Erik.”

“Erik, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger,” said Mr. Stephen, doing a terrible impression of Kelly Clarkson.
You see, my name used to be Maurice Orca, until I changed it to Erik Quint in seventh grade. One of the reasons why I did was because my parents were villains who got in a fight with The Man. Look, my parents were bad guys, and they robbed banks and did, well, bad stuff. They were doing one of their heists and were beaten by The Man, and three days later, I visited the morgue.  I have found that in this world you will do better if your last name isn’t the same as big time bad guys.

Continue reading

A Dying Stranger

I’m going to die.

I know that will die eventually, but that eventually came too soon. 60 years too soon. The fact of death doesn’t scare me. The pain of death, kind of does. What scares me is the fact that I had a life. And now it is over. Went through elementary school to get to middle school to get to high school to get to collage to have a nice job to have a nice family to have a nice life to have a nice retirement to have a nice death.

Death arrived early to the party. And death brought a friend, Cancer.

The fact that I built up my life and all I got was school, I didn’t even get as far as the nice job part, it seems like I wasted 20 years. I was so sure that I was going to get to that nice job, family, retirement part that I only focused on that. With my nose to the grind, my eyes on the prize, and my heart in a box. I spent 20 pushing people away.

And now I have no one left, except my friends Cancer and Death.

I look around at my alumni – the ones who could have been my friends – who have their whole life ahead of them. They have girlfriends and boyfriends to smile with and laugh with and hold hands with. They have parents to get guidance from and to get love from and to get encouragement from.

They lived.

I existed, waiting to live, so that eventually I could die.

I thought that I had so much potential that I had so much to live for, that I could spend 20 years to get ready. I thought that I had my whole lifetime ahead of me to make relationships.

They have love in their eyes and that makes the loneliness all the more prominent in mine. Their hearts are full of verve and zeal and that makes the enervation and depletion all the more evident in mine. They always have a tint of a smile on their face and that makes the stoic unbelief radiate from mine.

The world is ending. Except only mine is. Their worlds will go on forever. My apocalypse is coming and I don’t even get last moments to panic with the rest of the world. In all the science-fiction movies when the world is ending, everyone looks up at the sky, all huddled together. They get to see the world end. They get to have others with the same fate as them.

Their world will go on and mine will halt, crash, and burn. Their world will keep on spinning like nothing ever happened. Their world will not even flick off the ash of my smoldering, dead world.

Their potential, their future, their lives, mock, haunt, taunt me.

This is the bitterest kind of envy. I am jealous for what they do not appreciate. I long for what they do not know they have. Potential for moments.

Yes, I will have many more moments, but those moments will be spent in sterile hospital rooms in a thin paper gown on crinkly white medical paper surrounded by unknown people with over-glorified pity for college kid they know will be six feet under soon enough. I will spend my last moments surrounded by sick and dying people, surrounded by others trying to cover it up. I will be surrounded by people faking optimism, people telling me that I can fight the death warrant that  has been signed in my cells.

Those people who are lying to me, they seem to be my best chance. I desperately want to cling to the hope they have spread out before me.  I let hope and possibility and chance hold me in their hands, trying to soothe my aching soul. I let them tell me that tomorrow I will be okay, I let them tell me that the day after tomorrow I will be okay, I let them tell me that five years from now I will be okay.  I’m starving for some assurance that I will get through this. I’m going through hunger pangs yearning for something to believe in. My growling stomach calls out for a promise, a promise that I didn’t waste my life, that I will have the potential for moments other than in a sterile hospital. In my delirium, I begin to trust in the comforting hands of hope and possibility and chance.

I don’t know which is worse: knowing I’m going to die alone or hoping that I might not. Hoping that I might have someone by my side when the reaper comes. Hoping that the reaper might not come at all. Hoping that cancer might change its mind and come back when I’m old and gray, instead.

But when I have hope then that is one more thing that death can take from me. By losing hope I feel the pain of losing everything all over again. Because all I have left is hope. Hope in something that will never happen.

I am going to die. Cancer is going to make its last attack. My world is going to end. My hope is going to be taken from me. And there is nothing I can do to stop it.

 

 

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Pixabay/user:cor125

He Brought Her Roses

Every day he would bring her roses. He would set his alarm for 3:30 AM to get to her cello practice room before she did. She was dedicated, two and a half hour practices before school. Those hours of practice were what life should be all about. Life should be struggles to hit the right cord, but the happiness that follows when your part of the symphony is perfect. She was what life should be.

He would slip into her soundproof room and carefully place a single rose on her sheet music. The roses would differ every time, but without fail there would always be a fragile flower waiting when the elegant cellist would come to make the world a little bit better, a little bit brighter. The roses would be passionate dark red like the dress she wore when he first saw her at her symphony. Or the rose would be white as the snow on her birthday in January. He would always feel elated when he dropped the pink rose on her stand because it was soft and sweet like he imagined her lips to be. The yellow rose would remind him of couples walking in the summer time and the girls wearing their sundresses and how he wanted that to be him and the cellist. The peachy-orange was like the sunrise he watched as she played.

He must have spent thousands on roses for a girl he never dared talk to. He must have lost countless hours of sleep thinking about the one smile she had ever cast on him. He must have gone crazy for the girl to stop his college education so he could watch her every move. He must have.

She would laugh when ice cream dribbled down her chin in the hot hot summer time. He wanted to be the one to make her laugh like that. She would dance like no one was watching at the clubs. He wanted to dance with her like that. She would care enough to help the homeless person outside her daily coffee shop to buy them a warm drink. He wanted that caring towards him.

He fell in love with the girl who never knew his name.

One day she never came to practice. He still dropped off her rose like he always did and waited. The rose was still there when he came to give the rose of next day. She had never missed two days of practice in a row. Music was her life; her music was his life. He continued with his normal routine and went to her apartment. She was not home, but her car was still in the parking lot.

He had never gone into her apartment before, but he had to find out what was wrong. He had to find out what had made life wrong. He slowly turned her doorknob like so many times he wanted to, but could not put his courage where his heart was. Unlocked. She should not leave her door unlocked in a city like this, who knows what kind of creepers could break in. The door swung open and her apartment was just like he imagined. Nothing out of place. Bright colors. Modern furniture. Photos of friends on the fridge. A worn looking copy of The Great Gatsby opened to page 95 was in her chair.

“There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams – not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.”

Her bed looked just like her personality with a yellow sunflower comforter. So welcoming. Except for what lay on it. Towards the upper-middle was a rather large crimson stain. A fresh crimson stain. With eyes open to see the stars twinkle happily at her music laid the cellist with a bullet to her brunette head. Gun in her right hand and her left pointing to a note. Of course. Always leave a note.

They said I was not talented enough. They said I was not good enough. They said to move on and live a real life. If someone is reading this, then that means I chose a real death. I was actually cut from the program months ago, but they let me still use their practice rooms until I moved. Music was my life, my whole life and I do not know what that means without Juilliard giving me a chance. I think I would have ended it right there if not for the roses. Ever since I came to the school there has been roses on my stand each morning, but I came to value them more and more when no one seemed to value me. They would remind me of better times, brighter times. These past few months, I saved each and every one. But roses are not enough. Life got too disappointing and roses could not fill that void.

He walked out. He left everything the way it was for the police and her family. Except for the note. The note was for him. The note was because of him.

He continued to bring roses. He brought roses for months afterwards. A new rose was placed at her forgotten stand even when her apartment was cleaned out. Even though years went by as did the people who used that room, no one disturbed the stand with thousands of roses left in the corner. On the day of his retirement party for working at the school as a janitor for forty years, he placed her last rose.

The cellist had stolen his heart as she had stolen her life.

 

 

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Inspired by the image Pixabay/user:Fotocitizen