Weekly Roundup: December 27, 2013

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            I am so glad I have a couple of practice weeks, and the goals I have set don’t begin until after January 4th(January 5th is Sunday, the first day of the week).  Last week, I surpassed 12,000 words of fiction for the week.  This week, I was lucky to reach 4,000 words, and on three different stories.  Christmas, you know; a reasonable excuse – though admittedly an excuse, not a reason.  I guess I have to be prepared for such weeks.  Sunday the 29th I begin with a clean slate, and in case you have forgotten, I am aiming at 2,000 words per day or roughly 10,000 to 12,000 words per week.  So we will see.

            This week I added about 1000 words to my MIB story, 2000 words to Avalon, episode 3.5, and about 1000 words to The Golden Door, a middle grade book that is long overdue to be done.  Avalon, Season Three is something I want to get finished so I can start posting the series in the new year.  Unfortunately, I got nothing done on Forever: On the Road, a continuation of the wanderings of the Storyteller through the Second Heavens, subtitled, “Anatomy of a Storyteller.”  It imitates an exaggerated, third person memoir with all the names and dates and exact places hidden to protect the innocent, if they exist.

            The Golden Door is a magical story for middle grade reading.  Follow: 

            Mom said the big, inexplicable golden door showed up in the middle of the living room the same time Dad mysteriously vanished from his sick bed.  The golden door may be the family’s only hope of finding their Dad, but after a week the unmovable door remained locked.  Now starting summer vacation, the young people have chosen to ignore it.  Until David finds it open.  There is another world through there.

            The following bit sets the story of The Golden Door in motion.  It is a bit over 1500 words.  I hope you enjoy it

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          David paused at the door to his parent’s room.  The bed was empty and made.  Mama said it was the strangest thing when Dad disappeared.  One minute Dad was there, and the next he vanished, like into thin air.  “Like he went invisible?”  David had asked.  Mama could not answer because her back was turned at the time.  She did not actually see him disappear.  She heard scampering like little feet, but then he was gone and all she could do was cry.  In fact, that was about all she could do for the first few days, that and stare at the golden door in the living room which showed up at the same time.

          David turned the corner to the living room – just a step away in their run-down ranch house.  He looked at the golden door, solid gold in a silver frame.  It reached to the ceiling, and stood in the middle of the room with no visible support of any kind.  Chris said it was only a solid gold slab with a handle and ignored it.  David wondered how it stayed upright.  He imagined a good knock would send it falling flat-side to the floor, and what a terrific crash that would be! 

          A scratching sound came from his parent’s room.  James heard something when they got off the school bus for the last time that year.  David turned to Doritos and chocolate and left the scratching sound to his younger brother James.  Chris said he checked when he got home.  He thought Mama went out and accidentally shut Seabass the cat into the windowless, walk-in closet; but when he looked, the closet was empty and Seabass was asleep on Dad’s pillow.  The closet was empty when James looked as well, and no one could figure out how that stuffy walk-in closet could have a breeze to blow coat buttons and zippers and empty hangers against the wall.

          “Mama would never allow the clothes to be hung in a way where they might scratch the paint,” David pointed out.  The boys left the closet with yet another unsolved mystery, but this time David heard the scratching with his own ears.  Since James was busy, and Chris wouldn’t let him use the game stuff, and Beth knew nothing about the scratching in the closet, that left David to try the door.  He hesitated at the handle.  David was not the bravest twelve-year-old, but he thought that maybe this once he might look.  Besides, Seabass the cat was no longer on the bed, though how the cat might have shut itself into the closet was beyond him.

          He opened the door quickly.  The late afternoon sun shot into the space, and he called the cat, but nothing happened.  He did not look any further.  He was afraid to look too close, so he shut the closet door again and returned to the living room where he sat on the couch and stared at the golden door for a long time.

          Seabass came to sit beside him.  Catbird, the big golden retriever yawned and got up from where he had slept against the sliding doors to the back yard.  That spot was no longer attractive once the sun dipped behind the trees and cast the whole back side of the house in shadow.

          David petted Catbird’s contented golden head with one hand while his other hand stroked Seabass’ soft fur.  They stayed that way for a time, until David abruptly stood.  Both animals looked up, startled by the sudden movement and sudden loss of attention.  David clenched his teeth.   The fact that the door had been locked all week did not matter, except in the back of David’s mind where he hoped the door was still locked.

          “Ga!”  It was unlocked.  David peeked and closed the door again with another “Ga!” significantly louder than the first.

          James heard.  He was finished with his letter writing and decided he better find out what Davey was all stirred up about.  He went next door and tapped Chris on the shoulder.  Chris took a couple of taps before he looked up and lowered his headphones.  A piece of sandwich dangled from his mouth.  He honestly wasn’t listening.

          “Come on,” James said.  “Come on.”  He had to say it twice before Chris got up.  Perhaps Chris was still not paying attention, but at least his feet were moving.  Half way to the living room, they heard it again.  “Gaaa!”  It was deliberately shouted down the hallway.

          “The call of the excited Davey.”  James spoke under his breath as they arrived and David shouted something at his brothers that they could all understand.  “It’s unlocked!”

          Chris immediately turned to get Beth and almost bumped into her as she came barreling out of her room.

          “I heard,” Beth said .  “What’s in there?” 

          Chris shrugged.

          “I looked,” David grinned and his eyes were as wide open as they could be.

          “What did you see?”  Beth was miffed that she had to ask twice.

          “Gaa!”  James answered for his brother.  He shrugged as if to say, “What else?”

          Beth looked perturbed, but David giggled.  “Gaa!”  He nodded in agreement with James. He was still grinning as he pointed at the door.

          Beth shoved Chris forward.  Chris put on the brakes.  While they stared each other down, James stepped up and looked for himself.  He opened the door a mere crack.  “He’s right.  It’s Gaa,”

          Beth frowned, swung the door wide open and almost said “Gaa!” herself.

          Green grass stretched out before them in a world that was bright with late afternoon sunshine.  They heard the faint roll of the sea somewhere, but they could not see it through the door.  They smelled the fresh air and the aroma of growing grain which they could barely make out off to their right.  They felt a touch of the cool breeze that wafted through the meadow on a lazy afternoon in late May.  The grass looked freshly cut, or grazed.  Beth judged it was grazed from the dress of the two people who stood some hundred yards off down by the grain.  It was hard to tell exactly because those people had their backs to the door, but they looked medieval in dress and the grain looked like early grain, barely up to their knees after an April planting.

          “Creepy,” Chris breathed.

          “Cool!”  David yelled.  To be sure, yelling was David’s normal volume.  “Look at the castle.”  It was up on a hill, well beyond the people.  There were more towers and spires than any of them could count including some that reached right up into the clouds.  The castle walls looked formidable enough to withstand any army foolish enough to assault them.  A clear stream came from somewhere inside the castle grounds and wound lazily down the hillside, around the occasional clump of trees, until it reached the meadow.  By then it was a very small river which found the sea somewhere behind them.  Beth looked behind, but all she could see was the kitchen.

          The scratching came again, and this time it was definite and pronounced.

          “Did you guys leave Seabass trapped in Mom and Dad’s closet all afternoon?”   Some scorn entered into Beth’s voice, but before the boys could answer, she stepped around the corner.  Chris shook his head.  David pointed, but Seabass was gone from the couch. 

          They found the cat under the couch, shivering and afraid.  With James’ help, David got the cat out and then held the beast securely in his arms as overweight, gregarious, love everyone Catbird, the golden retriever began to growl.  Beth screamed and the boys heard a tremendous crash in their parent’s room.  Beth made it to the bedroom door, slammed it shut, and while she held the door knob she poked her head around the corner to the living room. 

          “Run!” 

          The boys just stood there.

          Catbird began to dance and bark his head off at whatever was behind the door.  Seabass tried to wriggle free to follow Beth’s instructions, but David held the cat tight.  Chris stared with his mouth open.  James had the good sense to step through the door and on to that green meadow.  That movement broke the spell; that and the sudden crash against the bedroom door from the inside which almost made Beth lose her grip and which was punctuated by a loud crack.  The wood door was ready to give way.

          Chris grabbed David to keep him from running down the front hall and out the front door.  He shoved David after James.  Then he grabbed Catbird by the collar, and carefully, because the dog was agitated beyond belief.  He nodded to Beth as he dragged the dog toward the golden door, and only paused when he got to the place where the door and rug met.

          “Come on!”  Chris screamed at his sister and went through, even as there was a second crash against the bedroom door. 

          “There’s more than one!” Beth screamed back.

          “Hurry!”  The golden door was closing of its’ own volition.  A third crash, and the bedroom door came to pieces, but it held together in sharp and ragged edges long enough to keep back whatever growling, snarling, roaring beasts were trying to get at Beth.  Beth managed a good scream as she ran and dove through the doorway.  They heard the roar of the beast echo in the house before the golden door slammed shut and they were no longer in the world.

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Halloween Story II: Enchanted 2.10, Afterword

  Elizabeth went home at ten o’clock and hugged her mom and dad, not without a few tears, and went straight to bed because she had a long, exhausting night.  Jessica met Jake’s mom and dad, who decided Jake was growing up and needed some time to enjoy his last couple of years of high school.  They vowed to work on their own schedules so Jake would not have to always be saddled with his little sister.  Jake said he did not mind, but that made his mom just say, “See?”

Mary, the witch, cast a little spell so when the kids woke up in the morning they would remember having a wonderful time, but the details would be fuzzy.  This was a good thing, because Mike the nerd spent most of the night talking to Jack-o-lantern, wondering if it was made in Japan, and wondering how it worked.  He said the programming almost made it sound like it knew what it was talking about, and he marveled at how they got the words and the mouth to work together so well. 

Blockhead spent the night trying to explain football to Big Tooth, who understood the game, but enjoyed stringing the kid along.  Serena, on the other hand, marveled at the goblin costumes, which is what she thought they were.

“Second best costumes I’ve seen in my life.”

“Second best?”  Marrow was offended until Serena explained.  The Italian dance troop with the naturally hairy legs dressing up as fauns was shear genius, and Marrow agreed.

Thomas “Tommy” Kincaid Junior spent the night trying to impress Sage with his money, his car and his presence, that is, whenever he caught Sage in her big form.  That was most of the time because Cinnamon insisted the girls not take their fairy form in front of people.  Cinnamon took it upon herself to make glamours to disguise as many of the spirits, people and creatures as she could.  They did not really object because they knew they were not supposed to be parading about on Earth in the open like they were.  Sage rewarded Tommy at the end of the night with a little kiss on the lips.  The poor fellow took a long time to get over that.

In all, it was a good night and people did not seriously begin to leave until just before sunrise.  Cinnamon had to make the portal because Mary Procter and Greely Putterwig were fast asleep in their chairs on the porch, and snoring.  Jake walked Jessica home.

“What are you thinking?” Jessica asked when she turned into his arms for a good night kiss.

“I’m a guy.  What do you think I am thinking?”

“Oh.”  Jessica thought or a moment before she said, “OH.  Let’s not go there yet.”

Jake shrugged.  “I was wondering how the Pirates and Indians are making out.”

Jessica smiled.  “See you in school.”  She ran to her front door.

In fact, the Pirates and Indians were tied in the top of the third, nothing to nothing.  They had been playing one night per year for almost a hundred years and only reached the top of the third inning.  But the Pirates had a man on first, and John the Butcher Roberts was at bat.

The bat boy found a skeleton head on the ground.  He jammed it into a complete skeleton and pointed.  “Look, a double header,” which proves conclusively that a sense of humor is not improved by death.

The Indian pitcher palmed the skeleton head they were using for a ball.  He sent in a literal screaming fastball.  The Butcher backed away, and Pusshead, the home plate umpire called it a ball.

“What?”  The Indian catcher protested.  “It went right over the edge of the plate.  You must be blind.”

“Not blind,” the skeleton head ball said.  “He’s an ogre, you know, a moron.”

The pirate on first could not help himself.  While they argued, he tried to steal second  He slid head first, but his body stopped about ten feet shy of the grave they were using for second base.  His hands, however, finished the journey, and as the Indian shortstop went to tag the runner, the hands squirted under the tag.  The pirate got up grinning and ambled up to catch up with his hands.  The occupant of the second base grave stuck his head out of the dirt.

”Safe,” he said.

The Indian shortstop got so angry, he took out his tomahawk and split the skull of the second base umpire.  This, of course, resulted in a bench clearing brawl in the infield which, again, is why after a hundred years the teams had yet to make it past the third inning. 

 

Storyteller About: A New Beginning.

            I tasted death.  A series of mini-strokes on December 30, 2012, four days in the hospital, buckets of cost later and I am not the same.  We only have so much time, and I have so much to do.

            I was born a storyteller.  By the time I was six and beginning to read and write, my imagination overflowed with other worlds and other times.  I discovered the greatest story ever told and it captured my heart.  Story became my way of expressing myself and to both explore and understand the world.  If I had been born in a tribal society I would have had an honored seat at the campfire, but by 1960 my world had already lost the time, patience and interest in tales of the imagination.  Movies were spewing out stories with an overabundance of romance or for the special effects and a chance to blow things up.  Nothing was to be gained by those.

            By the time I reached sixth grade, I was scribbling ideas, notes and drawings, tales of the imagination, and found I was drawn to adventures such as boys used to love.  Verne, Wells, Haggard, Stevenson, yes Dickens and Twain.  Of course I loved Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams and really all of the Inklings.  I searched the deep past and found Homer, Virgil, Beowulf, Bunyan and Swift and discovered that Oz, Never Land, Wonderland and The Back of the North Wind were never far away.  I found the writers of the Golden age of Science Fiction, E. E. Doc Smith and the rest, and writers of my own early age from Addams to Zelazny – too many to count.  These sustained me in the wilderness, and the wilderness is where I went after high school.

            I had boxes, files and an entire desk full of ideas, with some stories, some book beginnings and a play or two.  I was the boy, ready to start my adventure.  If just one person believed in me and my stories, the whole universe might have turned in a different direction.  But no.  The enormous pressure to do college, to find work, to have a family and then die was upon me, and I did not have the backbone to follow my heart.  I spent most of the last 40 years in some position or other where I could tell stories and express my tales of truth and glory, but my time belonged to others, to the grind that ate life and to the silent tears that cried out, “This is not what I am supposed to be doing with my life.”  If I say I wasted the last 40 years in the wilderness I would not be lying.

            Then I tasted death.  I am near 60 and on more medication than I can name, but the stories have not gone away.  They have strengthened to where now I no longer have the will to escape the words.  I have no doubt I will write furiously until I die and still not get all of the stories written.

            Somewhere in my wilderness years publishers invented a new category of fiction: (middle-grade)/Young Adult.  But this fine idea has been taken over presently by sparkly romances and the Princess collection because young women read.  The heroine saves the city, the world, the universe in a thin plot whose main purpose is to bring two people together so they can fall in love.  I am sure there are plenty of young women who enjoy reading what Paganini would call variations on a theme. 

            At the same time, I have heard over and over that young men don’t read.  The back of my mind screams Potter, Unfortunate Events, Olympians, but the front of my mind says it is not worth arguing with agents and publishers that there is still a market for the likes of Robert Heinlein, James Blish or John Brunner.  I don’t have ten years to devote to such arguments and nonsense.  What?  So I can see something in print when I am 70?

            Instead, we have all gone digital.  So will I.  I can start putting stories up for E-readers and POD books and maybe audio books fairly quickly.  My sons are talking about the possibility of reworking the Avalon series into comic book form.  We will build a website, do some book promotions on film for YouTube, and probably participate in giveaways through Amazon Select.  Of course, if you actually buy the works I will be grateful.  My life has not exactly been one to include much money or much success.  Perhaps because my heart was not in it.  But let me be clear: my job is not to get lost in social media and dubious promotions.  My job to get as many of these stories finished as possible before I die. 

            I will do my best to keep you up-to-date as time slides by. 

            Meanwhile, on this blog I am going to start posting Avalon, season 2 as a Monday, Wednesday, Friday post.  God willing I won’t suffer a relapse or be that one-in-three who suffers a massive stroke and becomes completely incapacitated.  If you are so inclined, pray for me.  I am finally doing what I am supposed to be doing with my life.  Let us hope there are still enough years to do it.

— Michael

Storyteller: A Very Merry Christmas to All

Merry Christmas to you and to everyone. 

To those of you who are not Christians or perhaps don’t believe in God, what I mean is may your days be filled with love and joy and may we all have peace on earth, good will to all.

To those of you who are offended by my saying Merry Christmas, you are the reason the world is not filed with love and joy and we do not have peace on earth.

Sigh …

Merry Christmas anyway …

Wise Words for Writers: Grin and Berra

            We are all the product of our choices.  We can’t blame mom or dad or bad advice of friends and family.  We can’t blame our teachers.  We can’t blame Bush.  And it is not always by random chance that the main character or characters in a story find themselves in a difficult situation, either.  In fact, in real life I know of very few, if any circumstances outside of winning the lottery that come out of nowhere – and even to win the lottery one must choose to buy a ticket.. 

            It is our choices in life, generally thousands of small choices along the way that define us.  The same should be true about our characters.  When I read background information written by other writers, I look for the choices the characters made along the way.  I find all sorts of events that happen around them and sometimes to them, but I rarely read about them.  In my mind, that may be good history background, but there is very little character background there. 

            But now, having said that we are the product of our many, many choices in life, there is one disclaimer.  Neither us nor the characters in a story live in a vacuum as alluded to above.  None of us is an island – unless we have chosen to live as a hermit in a cave.  Sometimes, those with whom we are connected can turn a bad choice into gold.  Sometimes, those same connections can turn a good choice into dross.  In other words, the choices are ours, but the outcome can be affected by the world around us.

            Writers choose to write no less than Van Gogh chose to paint or Mother Theresa chose to dedicate her life to the needy.  Mother Theresa gained some acclaim in her lifetime.  She did not want it.  That was not what she was there for.  Van Gogh, now considered one of the greatest painters who ever live, sold only one painting his whole life, to a friend who felt sorry for him.  He was (likely) bi-polar.  He mixed bursts of productivity with fits of depression so great he once cut his ear off.

            Why mention this?  Because success or failure are relative.  Recognition or rejection are relative.  They are outsider dependent issues.  They are things that happen to writers, things beyond the writer’s control.  They are things that might happen in one of those so-called character sketches.  But they should never define the writer.

            Writers write because they choose to write.  Characters face or run away from dilemmas – their choice.  We sometimes feel trapped by this or that, and characters too, as long as it is sometimes.  But the truth is there is always a way out, an option, a new choice that can be made.  If a writer chooses to do something different, they will stop writing and do that other thing.  If they choose to write, they will write.  Succeed or fail, respected or rejected means little to writers who have chosen to write.  Sure, success, a little acclaim, a little respect would be nice, but they are not writing.  I don’t know how else to say it.  Writers write.

            We are the product of our choices, and our characters should be as well.  So for us and for the characters we write about, I recommend the thought that Yogi Berra put so very well:  When you come to a fork in the road you should take it.  Now who can say it clearer than that?

November: NaNo: The month of the eternally stubborn … and the Politically Correct.

November is a full month even missing a day …

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The first of November used to be a holy day: All Saints Day.  Christians prayed and gave thanks for all the “great cloud of witnesses” that came before them.

Now it is the day Christmas decorations go up and Christmas merchandise makes it to the shelf.

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The eleventh used to be Veterans Day – an honorable day to remember the brave men and women who sacrificed so much to defend and protect this nation, our homes and our freedom. 

Now it is a day to flip a finger at the tomb of the unknown soldier and in an effort of short-sightedness, castigate ourselves as colonialists, imperialists and war-mongers.  It has become a day to hate all things military.

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The third Thursday used to be a day to give thanks to God for family, friends, neighbors – for all the blessings bestowed by the providential grace of God on our homes, communities and nation.  It was a day of prayer and gratitude, not only for a good harvest (good year) but for all the good things in life.  It was a feast of celebration of life.

Now, God is gone, gratitude is gone, the expressions of love for family friend and neighbor is gone.  We have excess food and football in preparation for shopping.

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On that first Thanksgiving, European settlers and Native Americans gathered together like the best of neighbors.  They celebrated life, the harvest, and peace.  It was a joyous time of fellowship and friendship with pledges to one another in the understanding that peace is always better than war.  And they gave thanks to God, each in their own way, and none other than God. 

Now, the people who came here from Europe to worship and practice their faith without persecution are painted as greedy, land-grabbing killers and murderers, And the Native Americans mourn Thanksgiving as if that one GOOD day is the cause of all the bad days that followed.

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These are simple things.  If you have a desire for any sort of historical fiction, especially during NaNo month, my thought is this: “Don’t let your modern prejudices get in the way of reality.”  And that is what they are.  They are not political correctness.  They are not open minded.  They are certainly not seeing the truth as if for the first time.  They are plain and simply prejudice and bigotry of the post-modern mind.

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Have a happy Thanksgiving, and don’t be afraid to be grateful and give thanks for all that you have.  And, if I may, don’t be in such a hurry to go out on Friday and get more …

 

Wednesday Thoughts: Words to Consider.

To all my writer friends struggling to write that novel:  Sneer at whatever gets in your way, laugh at whatever is blocking you and break the bonds of whatever is holding you back.  Remember, restrictions are almost always self-imposed.  Listen, this is what I have been thinking lately.

1.         You have to believe in yourself because maybe nobody else ever will, at least on this side of success.

2.         If writing is your calling, your purpose in life, your reason for being, your source for joy, understand that this desire was not given to you without reason.  The end of the road that turns away is a dead end with a big sign that says “regret.”

3.         Don’t let your past control your future.

4.         Your future is waiting to be created.

— M G Kizzia

And you can quote me.

Forever 1.12: Leaving Home

            “So what are you going to do after you graduate?” Joe, the church sexton asked.  He was sitting in his little room off the main auditorium and near the kitchen where every Sunday morning he had coffee and the Sunday paper waiting.  Glen turned his head briefly before he looked again on the evergreens that shielded a view of the empty church parking lot.  It was raining, not hard, but a miserable sort of cold, soaking rain.  Church was long over and Joe and Glen might have been the only two people left in the building.

            “Go to college.  I thought that was required.  At seventeen, I am not ready for college, but it seems I have no choice.  My great uncle sits on the board or something and went to great lengths to get me in.  To be honest, I should probably go to a local school, maybe commute to a community college for a year while I try to figure out what I want to do.”

            “You sound like you don’t have any choice,” Joe said.  But Joe knew Glen’s parents.  Glen simply glanced at the man again before his eyes were drawn back to the window.  It was finally beginning to rain.

            “Not here,” he said, and he thought long about that before he added, “Of course, this isn’t the real world, you know.”  When Joe said nothing, Glen began to explain.

            “In this place everything is twisted and distorted.”  Glen paused to consider his words.  “Exaggerated,” he decided.  “I mean, in the real world my parents were always hard on me.  I might have wanted them to be more easy going, but I never doubted they meant it for the best and only wanted the best for me.  Here, they are impossible.  In the real world, I might have wanted more positive attention.  Here, nothing is positive toward me and mostly they ignore me altogether.  There, I may have felt like I got more than my share of blame for things, but here everything is my fault, even if I have nothing to do with it.  Do you see?”  When Glen heard no response, he continued.

            “To be honest, I have begun to wonder if it is so much that things here are distorted as maybe just my feelings are distorted and then projected on my surroundings.  It is like maybe I am the one who wants things to be easy and wants praise and wants to not have to take responsibility for my screw-ups.  So here things get extra hard and I get only put downs and I get blamed for things even when I am innocent.  It is almost like whatever I want, I get the opposite.”  Glen stopped then to think and he thought Joe was being very patient by staying quiet.

            “You know what I mean?”  The question was rhetorical.  “It’s like whenever I find something good they discontinue it.  It’s like, I don’t know.  Maybe God is trying to work on my insides.  Maybe I am wanting certain things too much and others too little.  Of course, if that’s the case, it is easy enough to determine what I am wanting too much.  And it isn’t just my parents or my family, mind you.  It is teachers, friends, everyone really.  You may be excepted.  I don’t know.  You don’t really depend on me for anything and I am not over you in some way.  And same in reverse, I mean you are not over me and I don’t depend on you, necessarily.”  Glen paused.  “Actually, that is not true.  I depend on you to listen which no one else ever does, and I appreciate that more than you will ever know.”  Glen tried to get back on topic.

            “But anyway, it is easy enough to figure out what I may be wanting too much.  The trouble is, there are two things about that.  First, most people would just say I am wanting the good things in life too much; but there is nothing wrong with good things.  They say life is a mix of good and bad, but all I seem to get around here is the bad.  Is it really wrong to want some good things mixed in?  Good times and bad times are part of every life, they say.  All I can say is great!  When do the good times start?”  Glen took a deep breath before he continued.  His eyes were damp.

            “The other problem with that is I don’t have any idea what I am wanting too little.  I know some Eastern philosophers say you shouldn’t want anything at all.  I most strongly disagree.  God made us with the capacity to love and want the one we love.  I know we were made to love God and love our neighbor, to glorify God and do good for our neighbor.  These things I am doing, they are in my heart, in my soul if you will, but still I get crushed, it gets taken from me, things never work out for the good, nothing ever goes right, and I still get kicked, psychologically crushed, crucified in a small way, I suppose.  That seems to be the nature of this non-place I have found myself in.  Pain and torment appear victorious and I can’t seem to break out or escape.” 

            “The truth is, there is no good here for me, not in my life, not that I have ever experienced.  I don’t even know what a blessing might be.  I can’t say as I have ever had one.  About all I can say is what I keep saying over and over.  I’m not dead yet, and I ask, why did God let me live?”

            Glen heard a sound and turned around.  Joe was rushing back in from the kitchen with an apology.  “Sorry, I had to be sure the coffee was unplugged, and then the phone rang.  You were saying?  Your uncle got you into the college so you feel you have to go?”

            “Yes,” Glen nodded.  “That is exactly what I was saying.”  He turned his eyes back to the falling rain and said no more.

Forever 1.11: Going Home

            Glen ripped down the weeds and vines that guarded the cave entrance.  He stuck his head into the dark and called out, “Hello?”  He was only mildly surprised when he got an answer and an invitation.

            “Yes?  Hello.  Do come in.”

            “It is rather dark,” Glen said as he stepped in and stepped aside to let in as much of the fading sunlight as possible.

            “Oh, I beg your pardon.”  There was a roar of flame like flame from a flamethrower.  Glen had to shade and close his eyes to not be suddenly blinded, and he had to keep back to not be burnt.  When it was over, a big campfire was lit in the middle of a round room cavern and there was a dragon curled up comfortably against the back wall.  There was also a man sitting cross legged before the fire.

            “Hello?”  Glen spoke to the man and again he was only mildly surprised when the dragon answered.

            “Yes, hello.  Do come in.  The old man said to expect you.”  Glen stepped forward toward the old man who had his back turned and made no indication other than that he was perhaps sleeping sitting there.  He made sure the fire remained between him and the dragon.  “Sometimes the shaman prefers the dark, and to me, of course, it makes no difference.”

            “Who are you?” Glen asked, not that he expected an answer he could understand.  He imagined this was the dragon of the long march from the Windy Castle on the Fogwart River or some such thing.  What he heard did actually surprise him.

            “I am the Spirit of Home,” the dragon said. 

            “I beg your pardon?”  Glen repeated the dragon’s phrase.

            “I make a house into a home and a community into a hometown.  I am the greater spirit that reaches out when people go away.  I remind them of all the good things.  I sing to them in the night.  I draw them back to the place they were raised and hold them close to family and loved ones.”

            “So you are the one I have to thank for Debbie.”  Glen showed his anger.

            “Regrettable.  I am not allowed to discriminate, but how a person responds is entirely up to them.  Which call was stronger?  Regretable.”

            Glen let go of his anger in a breath of hot air.  It was puppy love, as he knew.  There really was no future there.  “Yeah, well I would like to get home,” he changed the subject.

            “So would we,” the old man spoke and Glen took a step back.  “But our home has been taken by people from the old world.  We have no right of return.  Our home is lost to us forever.  We have had to make a new home.  I am here to see that time of homelessness and despair is short, not long.”

            “I am sorry,” Glen said.  “But all of that was ages before my time.  I would like to go back to my time, if it is not too much trouble.”

            The dragon lifted his head and stared long at Glen.  It cocked its head to one side and then the other before it spoke.  “I see no home in you.  Yet you are not of the nomads or gypsies or travelers who carry their home with them.  I see many homes in you down through the ages, and I see you in many forms living a native among many people.”

            The old man spoke over top.  “You have an ancient touch of the Tuscarora people.  That alone is why I let you live.  That is why I called you here, but I see now there is no help in you.”

            Glen took another step back and swallowed.  He was not aware his life was in danger.  “The reason it is an ancient touch of native is because I don’t belong here.  I don’t belong in this time.”

            “I see many days,” the dragon continued.  “I see many times.  I am confused.  I cannot sing to you.”

            “I don’t know.”  Glen shook his head.  “I am only me, right now.  And I belong a hundred years in the future.  I should not have come in the first place.”

            “You do,” the old man confirmed.

            “You should not be here.” The dragon agreed.

            “Well?”  Glen waited.

            “Why are you here?”  The dragon asked.

            “The old man?”  Glen suggested.

            The old man shook his head.  “I saw you in the entrance and called to you, but you came of your own volition.”

            “Why did you come?”  The dragon rephrased its question.

            “To have my heart broken?”  Glen said.  “To find one more wonderful thing that I am not allowed to have.  You have no idea.”  The tears came up into his eyes.  “Why?  Every time I find something good, it gets discontinued and taken from me.  Everywhere I go I am not welcome and not wanted.  I disappoint everyone.  I get passed over and neglected always.  There is no good in me, and though I beg for forgiveness, all I hear is silence.  The silence in my life is deafening.  Please, I just want to go home.”  He began to cry and fell to his knees because all his strength to stand left him at once.

            “You have no home,” the dragon said.

            “Though you fear homelessness and despair, you must pass through to make your own home,” the old man added.

            “You have had and will have many homes, but you don’t belong here,” the dragon concluded.

            “That is because I am not dead yet,” Glen mouthed.  “Why did God let me live?”  He faded from sight.

Forever 1.11: The Transient Heart

            Glen danced.  Not well, but he gave it his best shot, and Debbie helped him literally every step of the way.  He surprised her when he showed that he knew how to waltz, and he was somewhat graceful being rather athletic.  But the truth was, Glen spent most of his time trying to maneuver Debbie toward the punch bowl and then out of the torch lights.  It was not easy.  Debbie liked to dance.

            “You are a really good dancer,” Debbie lied as she set her punch cup on the edge of the table.  Glen took her hand and brought her out under the stars.  Showing her the big dipper was the only way he could get her alone.

            “I am not,” Glen admitted with utter honesty.

            “Well.”  Debbie took back her hand so she could worry her hands together.  She looked down again at her boots as she spoke.  “But you are much better than the other boys.  I think with a little practice you could be good.”

            Glen chose not to respond.  He grabbed her hand again and tugged her a little further into the dark while he pointed to the sky.  “There,” he said, and he traced the stars of the dipper with his outstretched finger. 

            “Oh,” she said with some excitement in her voice.  “I see it.”  And Glen was glad.  She knew what a dipper was, unlike the girls a hundred years in the future.  Glen turned to her and risked setting his hand around her waist like they did when they waltzed.

            “Now about this dancing,” he said.  Debbie was not fooled.  She slipped her arms around his neck like she no doubt watched her mother do it.  Glen needed no more invitation.  He kissed her, and it was no tentative kiss.  Debbie’s eyes went wide before she squeezed them shut and poured herself into the kiss.  When their lips parted, Glen did not let go.  He held her tight, and she held him with equal desire.  He pecked at her lips, kissed her cheeks gently and kissed her forehead before he kissed her eyes.  He had no doubt her heart was racing.  His certainly was.

            “You know,” Glen said.  “In some cultures kissing is considered an invitation to marry.”  Debbie looked at him and looked deeply into his eyes.  Then she kissed him, smack on the lips, and did her best to leave a permanent impression.  Glen got the feeling she was marking her territory.  When she was done, she spoke.

            “I would not mind,” she said, and Glen was the one who felt it was best to bring Debbie back into the light.

            For the rest of the week, Debbie snuck away from home and came to the digs by lunchtime.  She always brought a basket of goodies, and Glen found her harder and harder to resist.  They sat in the grass, held hands some,  kissed some, and talked about everything and nothing and sometimes did not talk at all.  But every day, Glen became more anxious.  It was coming up to the time when he was supposed to leave and join his family up north at the club.

            Glen found the cave, but this time he opted to leave it covered.  He did not want to end up in 1768, although he imagined he would not mind seeing Debbie in something more low-cut in place of that turtleneck prairie dress she always wore.  When his last day came, he held on to her.  He gently touched her breast and felt her fire roar.  He knew he was on fire already, but he went no further.  Deep down he knew it was not right.  Still, he could not help the words that came unbidden from his lips.

            “Come with me,” he said.  “It is not far to the city where we can catch a train for the east.  We can,” he almost hesitated.  “We can marry and have three children, just like you want, and we can be happy.”  He was surprised at how little he had to struggle to talk her into it.  She had a bag.  He had a duffle he could wear as a backpack.  He could hardly sleep that night.  And in the morning, his grandparents said good-bye, apologized for not being rich enough to sending him off with a horse.  But he said that was alright, kissed them and ran to the spot.

            Debbie was already there, and she looked excited.  He was thrilled to see her as well, and he decided in the night that 1868 might not be so bad if he was with her.  He certainly knew what to invest in if he ever got any money to invest.  Given the chance, they might even become rich.  No, that might not be bad at all.

            The first few hours were wonderful, though they held hands and said very little.  In the following hours, Glen caught her glancing back.  When they stopped for lunch, the glance had become a look and Glen asked her about it.

            “I’m just thinking of my family, my home, my friends.  I’ll get over it.”

            “This is a great adventure, just you and me.  As long as we are together I know everything will be wonderful,” Glen said.  She smiled, but even then Glen knew it was a lost cause.  Soon enough she was talking about going home where they could have a proper wedding first, and then she began to talk about what they were doing, that it was wrong and they were going to hurt a lot of people.  Glen did not let it go too far.  He might have been a teenager, and really a teenager, but somewhere inside him there was still the wisdom of one much older.  Indeed, his parents often accused him of being old even when he was a child.

            “Your bag,” he said.  “I have to go.  But I will come back next year and maybe I can come to stay, if you still want me.”

            Debbie cried.  She took her bag and turned around, but she cried for as far as Glen could still see her.  She would get over it, indeed.  It really was only puppy love, or perhaps puppy-lust with raging hormones, but she would get over it.

            Glen also turned and walked without paying too much attention to which way.  He stayed pretty much on course, but found a surprise a couple of hours before dark.  He came to the digs.  He had not intended that, but somehow he must have gotten turned around.  He did not mind, though.  This time he was not only going to the cave, he was going inside.