A time it was

a woman looks at the mountains through a window on the observation tower.

Once upon a time – what does that mean?

Well, it happened once – but how do you get “upon” a time? Is time something you can leap on, like a horse or a bicycle? Or does “a” time mean that it doesn’t really matter when it happened exactly, it was just one of those days? (And I paused just then – did I mean to ask if it was one of “these” days or one of “those” days, if you know what I mean? And if you know what I mean, why am I trying so hard to explain?) Oh, I hope all of this hem-hawing at the start doesn’t mean I’m going to have a time trying to get the story out.

Ah, well, then. Once upon a time – it was a time not unlike ours but long ago – a time when the rulers were arguing among themselves and people heard them argue, rolled their eyes and went about their business, because a person’s got to eat and squabbling rulers don’t feed anyone except the scribes who pay attention and write it all down as if someone cared – there was a girl. Continue reading “A time it was”

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The sudden waltz

the sudden waltz

I always wondered where I would be today if I had stopped to tie my shoe and did not, after all, bump into her as I entered the store. I would have arrived five seconds later, and she would have already walked out the door and started up the street in the other direction.

Or I wonder where I would be today if she had been in a different mood and, when I bumped into her and asked her pardon, she would have said, “Watch where you’re going, moron,” instead of giggling and saying, “Shall we dance?” while grabbing my hand to keep her balance, which led to my swinging her around in a makeshift waltz.

Seventy years later, still holding hands, I’m glad I didn’t stop to tie my shoe, even though the sudden waltz ended when I tripped.

Books like grenades

books like grenades

What is more dangerous than a room full of books? Books, stacked in pules and lined in rows, each with a purpose and a reason, waiting to be lifted up and hurled like a grenade into what once was someone’s unconscious subconscious. Books, dragging her kicking and screaming into consciousness. Beware the book: It will reach from one mind into another and detonate previously unknown insights and concepts.

“Weaponizing books?” he sniffed. “Child’s play. You can weaponize anything if you put your mind to it. Give me a fluffy puppy and I’ll soften a millions of you up for the kill – although I don’t need to kill you, I just need you to go away and leave me to my evil games. Did I say evil? My heavens. No one is intentionally evil; we all are the heroes of our own internal stories, aren’t we?”

The gleam in his eye was unmistakable: Cold and evil.

Wind chimes

wind chimes

He closed his eyes and let the wind chimes take him to a green summer morning with the dew burning off on a day built for T-shirts and shorts and sneakers, even though he knew bloody well he’d be chilled to the bone wrapped in a sweater and thick coat and boots.

(random image jotted down for a future story)

A day lost and found

above the contrail

The day had come and gone without his notice. He had buried his face in the everyday and could not say whether the sun had shone all day or if snow had dusted the neighborhood. It was as if he had slept all day, but he remembered waking.

Outside, he knew, there was a cold colder than the coldest cold and a land anxious for spring, but he hadn’t glanced out the window, as far as he could remember, so he couldn’t say if the ground was softer or harder or ice-covered or some lingering grass was visible. He thought he may have communicated with the outside world but couldn’t remember the details. Continue reading “A day lost and found”

A premise in search of a story

press dreamstime_s_84073300

The Printer. The Librarian. The Disk Jockey. Three denizens of Sunset Electronica, a story or novel or series of stories or novels for which I have a premise, a setting, but no story to tell.

They all preside over electric or electronic devices but old ones, built before computers were installed and equipped with tracking devices. The press was just a big machine – so was the turntable, and the book.

We can add The Mechanic to our cast of characters. And The Tracker, a hunter who does not depend on electronics to find fish or deer. They are the Keepers of the Old Ways, regarded with awe now but once with bemusement, for of what use were the Old Ways in a digital utopia? Continue reading “A premise in search of a story”

My Year of Finishing

2018 is over

The turning of a calendar is arbitrary and perhaps an odd time to be making assessments, although there is no bad time to take stock and decide whether everything is on track and moving along on plan. For that matter, birthdays work for this purpose, too, the passing of a year being complete with a full journey around the sun measured and filed away.

Being born on the first day of spring, more or less, has its advantages, as I have always had three-quarters of a year to prepare for the coldest and harshest time of the journey through the cycle of seasons. Or is my assessment that winter is the most unpleasant time simply my perception because of when I was born? Do December babies love winter? Do we always love our first season the most? Have I just solved Ray Bradbury’s love of late summer and fall – Ray, who was born Aug. 22?

Last year I resolved to write a short story a week, a la Bradbury, an exercise that survived perhaps 10 weeks. It did result in Chapter One of what I consider my best idea in a while, the Comfort & Joy Detective Agency, although even that has stalled after that one chapter like so many of my projects. I have struggled with stick-to-it-iveness, which is why my journals have become my most successful writing project: I have done some scribbling almost every morning for almost four years now, contemplating goals and issues and navels, tossing out fragments of story and imagery.

Some of those fragments and observations have appeared here, some of them have been transcribed into still-unfinished projects. Here’s one from New Year’s Eve, this past Monday:

“You’re finished,” she said. “So celebrate.”

“That sounds so final,” he said nervously. “Like I’m finished, so it’s time to die. I want to call this new year My Year of Finishing, but to me that makes it sound like ‘this will be the day that I die’ or something.”

“Can I point something out?” she said. “The man who wrote the song with the refrain, ‘This will be the day that I die,’ lived to write the song. Last I looked, he was still alive almost 50 years on.”

“Oh yeah,” he said, now sheepish. “OK, then: 2019 will be My Year of Finishing.”

The Man Who Was Scared of Finishing

the end dreamstime_s_13037813

Finnegan Moore was good at starting things, but he seemed to have a phobia about endings, completions. It was if he believed that endings were little deaths, as if finishing a book was a good time to die, or finishing a work project, or the last film in a trilogy, or the last show of a series – and he didn’t want to die.

“Lord, let me live to see how the story ends,” was a constant refrain of his life. He was relieved to reach the end of the Harry Potter stories, but also terrified, because now that he knew how the story ends, would someone in the sky decide it was now an appropriate time to take him?

“But you know how the story ends,” his friend Dan said one day. “You know how everyone’s story ends – with an ending, and not necessarily wrapped up in a bow.”

“That’s just it, you see,” Finnegan said. “That’s just it. I’m afraid of finishing because it’s a little death.” Continue reading “The Man Who Was Scared of Finishing”