Journey to North End: Part III a short story

Crell began to pant, clawing at his throat, as he took in labored breathes. The entire cavity of his mouth slowly ebbed into a deep bluish-purple color as particles and pollen from the blooms embedded themselves within his soft tissue.

Rosie stumbled to her feet, somehow managing to push beyond the growing cries of what she could only imagine were claws against the metal of the vessel. “Crell?!” She grabbed hold of his hands and tried to pry them away from his neck. The pollen was choking him. He was choking himself.

“Someone help him!” She shouted at the crew who stayed put in their places, pulling their netted hoods even tighter around their heads. “He is done for, Rosie! You should get away from him! He might pull you over with his fits!”

What fits? The man was only choking himself and panicking with good reason. Rosie had never seen such a shade of blue. It seemed to swirl in and around Crell’s eyes and mouth, sucking out all the moisture.

“Wa-water! I need water!” Crell thrashed his arms about before shielding his eyes. “The sky is on fire! I need water!” He tried to get to his feet, his arms stretching towards the side of the boat.

“There is no water there, Crell. Only blooms!” Rosie pressed him back down unto the deck. She sucked in a horrified breath as she watched tiny pricks of blood begin to pull around his mouth, nose, ears and mouth. The pollen was sucking him dry, sucking him so dry that it was causing his skin to crack and bleed.

“I need WATER!” Crell shouted, shoving Rosie in her chest with such force that he sent her tumbling backward, feet over head. Had the scratching of the metal and the vile things beneath the vessel not rocked it, Crell would have certainly fallen over board. Instead he tripped over Rosie’s feet winded from the impact to his chest.

Rosie clamored forward and thrust her body on top of his, pressing him into the deck.

She suddenly realized why Crell thought the blooms were so ugly. She certainly agreed.

THE END of PART III

So I intended to only make this a 3 part story but art is organic and tends to grow at its own pace. With that being the case I have to follow its lead on this and allow Rosie and Crell to tell their story at their pace…rhyming not intended. Hopefully you will stick around for the next and potentially last installment of Journey to North End.

Cheers!

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Courage Through Peace

Often times in our lives, no matter our age, no matter our victories or triumphs, we find ourselves in a place of uncertainty. Forces in the atmosphere have a way of coming at us out of nowhere,with the sole design to catch us off guard and to knock us off our axis.

I thank Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) for His Word, that He instructs us to have child like faith, because as His child I have no need of shame when I come to Him for affirmation. A child, no matter their age, is always welcome into their Father’s arms. And it is in those instances when we lift our hands to Him and allow Him to draw us up into the safety of His arms that our courage renews.

Matthew 18:2-4 “2And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4“Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.…”

We come to Him as children, rest in the gentleness of the Lamb, and are empowered by the Lion of Judah. For in our weakness HE is strong in Power. (II Corinthians 12:9)

I can’t tell you how beautiful it is to find courage through His peace. That is something that you have to experience all on your own.

Be encouraged, no matter what. The Great I AM is HERE and He loves you! If you feel troubled, if you have lost your peace, let Him be I AM.

Cheers!

Note: Above verse take from Biblehub.com

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Journey to north end: Part II A short Story

The scent in the air was incredible even beneath the netted hoods that covered their faces. Tiny particles of indigo began to gather around the nostril areas, ears, mouth and eyes, over everyone’s nets. Crell brushed his off with quick flicks as if he were batting away a spider.

Rosie watched him curiously. She had journeyed with the man for several weeks now, and never once had she seen him so much as flinch. But floating slowly across the sea of Blooms, merely waiting on the edge of it, had converted the man into a nervous wreak. 1373126993ml492

She made her way towards him and raised her hand to touch him before she thought better of it. Crell had already accused her of near abuse. “Crell,” She said his name quietly.

Pulling his net slightly off of his sweaty face, he turned towards her.

“You know if you keep on frowning like that, your face will stay that way forever.” She smiled. Crell only stared at her. Rosie moved past the unreceived joke. “How much longer until we reach the North End from here? Will the sea carry us all the way?”

Crell shook his head. “We don’t have much lon,” His words were cut off. The boat tipped slightly, as if it had bumped something from beneath. Crell caught his balance, the worried look in his eyes intensified. He grabbed Rosie’s arm, his voice coming out as a pained hiss as he dragged her towards the crank of the ship again, prepared to crank it another 18 times. “We don’t have much longer but we need to move faster! We need to move faster, or,”

The boat was jolted again, this time with more force. The sharp sound of scraping metal funneled upward from beneath them.  “Everybody get down!” Crell shouted, pushing Rosie to her knees. “They are following us! The are trying to get us!”

“Who is trying to get us? What are you talking about?” Rosie managed to say before the boat lurched again. She looked around her, suddenly as nervous as Crell, but could so nothing and no one, only blooms for miles and miles. Not even a single bird was in the air.

This time Crell fell forward towards the boat’s crank. He managed not to hit his head or face but his net was not so lucky. The hand of the crank hooked into the fine netting and pulled away with an angry snagging sound. Crell clutched the torn fabric with trembling hands, but he could already feel the bits of pollen itching at his eyes, nose, ears and mouth. The sky was also beginning to appear as brewing blood. Letting out a terrified cry, he pushed himself towards the wall of the deck, all the while whispering, “Please, God. No.” But there was no use.

Crell had been infected.

THE END OF PART 2

To read part 1 follow the LINK.

Cheers!

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Journey to North End: Part 1 A Short Story

Crell cranked the arm of the engine eighteen more times for good luck. His adam’s apple seemed to be stuck at an uncomfortable position at the center of his throat. Rosie thumping him on the shoulder immediately knocked it loose. He swallowed hard and turned on her with sharp eyes.

As usually Rosie was spitting out words before he could even take in a decent breath. “Are we going forward or not? I don’t want to be here all day.” She folded her arms across her chest, one brow cocked.  1392603435dr22y

Crell narrowed his eyes. “Yes. I was getting ready to move us forwards when you hit me!”

“I didn’t hit you. I touched you.”

The throbbing flesh of his shoulder begged to differ. Crell bit his tongue, not waiting to waste a single, precious second arguing with a woman he knew he could not best even when she was absolutely wrong. The sooner they reached the North End the sooner they would be out of each others hair. Or so he hoped.

The ocean was wide, the wind was low, for now. As long as the wind stayed still, as long as the engines kept moving, not stalling even once, they would be fine.

Rosie must have noticed the nervous sweet speckling his forehead because she clicked her tongue and thumped him again. “They are only flowers, Crell. And mighty beautiful flowers if I don’t say so myself.”

“Don’t say so!” He rebuked with a firm shake of his head. “Don’t say so at all! They are not beautiful. They are deadly. Should the wind pick up , should their pollen fill with air,” He crossed himself and cranked the engine eighteen more times as his eyes stared hard at the blue ocean of flowers.

Rosie had no idea what they were getting into. She had not the slightest clue what the pollen could do to the mind, or worse, what they who hid beneath the full blooms would do to them should they fall over board.  Crell shuddered to remember.

He had no need to imagine it. He had crossed these blooms once before. Then he was but a child of thirteen and after the incident he had sworn to never come this way again. Now thirty, his boat floated on the air upon the edge of the blooms with the familiar childhood fear creeping up his throat again. He caught Rosie’s hand right before it thumped him a third time.

“Just keep your net over you face!” He dropped her hand and pulled her netted hood over her head and face and made certain that it was securely sealed. “And for goodness sake, keep your hands to yourself. We don’t have room for error here. No room at all.”

Stifling a frightened whine, Crell eased the ship forward. A bright sent of pollen began to fill the air.

THE END… For Now

I have had the desire to do a week long short story, similar to the one a did a little while ago titled, The Day He Took Her Hand. Granted, it is Tuesday and this story already feels like it is much more than a short story, but I intend to give it at least two more days of writing to round it off…see where it takes me.

Cheers!

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Waiting for Your Eggs to Hatch

If you haven’t already noticed, I am notorious for liking my creativity to motherhood. I often speak of my creation as my children, each with their own personality, some more giving than others, while some are just out right unruly.

Through the span of this blogging year, my creativity has produced many fruits that I cannot help but to be grateful for. My spirit, soul and mind have truly been fed and exercised which is what I started this blog for in the first place.

But then November 2014 came along and it has seemed as if everything is at a sudden standstill. Yes,  I did finally come into my own branding, which has also been a year long endeavor, but now with that aside it almost feels like I have nothing to say BUT I have so many eggs in my basket. 13584381235ldi7

I will admit that I have had this anxious feeling while sitting in my creative silence. What to do? What to do? What to do? If I could compare this feeling to anything, it would be the quiet before the storm, that eerie stillness that overtakes everything right before all chaos breaks loose.

I wonder if that is what it is like for a mother at the end of her pregnancy (see, here is that mother-creativity thing again.) Does she feel anxious while she is holding her fully grown child in her womb, waiting for the day they will come forth? Does she tip-toe throughout each day wondering if this day is the day?

I have a basket full of eggs (creative projects) they feel as if they are being extremely quite, but I know and feel something moving. I just don’t know what it is. I can almost hear them whispering amongst themselves.

I know the direction to take with them, I even know what to say but part of me seems to be holding back for some reason. Its like I am standing outside of the the double dutch ropes, waiting for the right rhythm to come along for me to jump right in. (I have never double dutched before mind you ;) But I am sure you get the point.)

I totally intend to push forward, but keep a keep eye and ear open to what my creativity is saying.

Do you ever have this feeling with your projects? Do you ever feel like something is about to break forth, but you just don’t know when? If so, what do you do in the meantime?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Cheers!

Man Widget

Dresfield: A Freewrite

The harbor was densely populated. Fishing vessels and battle ships clogged the shoreline, and still they pressed forward, rowing fiercely to break through the masses.

“Do you smell that?” Arlen Hreg, the first mate of Dresfield asked, turning his nose into the air trying to catch the scent again. He leaned his head back into the main mass of the vessel, smiling as he felt the familiar rumble of the Dresfield vibrating upward and around him. He said. “Its slightly sulfuric, but it is definitely smoke.”13604180058jmva

The captain, or so the boat thief had dubbed himself, narrowed his eye and searched the air himself. All of his rotten crew did. Smelling nothing, he raised his fisted hand, ready to cup Arlen one more time across the face for good measure. He had already humiliated the young man, beat him near unconscious, stealing his best hat and tying him to the mast of Dresfield, in the hot sun, in the event he wanted to whip him again. It was all a vile show to keep the small crew in line.

The true Captain he meant to kill, that was as soon as he found out who the true captain was. That was why Arlen had been so banged up. It was a means to draw out the Captain. A means that did not seem to be working. After all, he could not have the ship if its Captain still drew breath.

Nevertheless the man had decided he would butcher the entire crew, Arlen included, and claim Dresfield as his own, just as soon as they reached land. If they reached land.

The arcid gurgle of a waking water dragon had broken through the surface of the sea water nearly an hour ago and had sent out its foul scent for three square  miles. The scent was that of a water dragon waking for hunting. The only safety was found in Charm harbor; blessed ground that that kept dragons and their fire from coming ashore. Anyone left in the sea would be roasted.

“Shut your mouth, before I toss you overboard! Maybe your sour meat will give the beast a belly ache and cause it to retreat.” His hand landed hard against Arlen’s swollen cheek and made him fall at an awkward angle, tangling him up in the ropes that bound him.

The boat bucked beneath them and sent a ripple of waves that forced several ships ahead, some running aground into the sandy harbor, while others splintered against each other. The captain stumbled forward and caught himself on the rail of Dresfield before tipping completely over the edge.

It was then that he saw it, the large, scaly, ribcage of the water dragon, taking in oxygen, expanding and heating to a point that it made the water around it sizzle.

“Its underneath us!” He shouted pushing himself away from the railing. His swarthy face miraculously washed into a shade of petrified white. “We’re doomed!”

Arlen eased himself into seated position as the head of the water dragon rose up and back, dripping heated water from its scaly face upon the planks of the boat strapped against its back like a saddle.

“It is about time, Captain Dresfield,” Arlen shouted upward, meeting the serpentine gaze of the water dragon. “I was beginning to believe that you didn’t want dinner, Sir. Or that you had truly decided to claim a new crew. Either way your tardiness is bad form.”

Dresfield’s head reared upward, shooting a fountain of fire into the air, with light and black smoke. Then he turned his eyes upon the captain.

Arlen nodded and followed in turn, another smile blooming on his bruised face as he addressed the intruder. “Do not worry, captain. Captain Dresfield is a clean eater. I would almost suspect you won’t feel a thing. I just hope you don’t give the captain a belly ache on your way down. You do look awfully sour.”

THE END

Its an odd thing. I was feeling so sleepy and hungry, an thought to take my happy hips to bed. But then the opening lines of this story kept repeating in my head and I couldn’t help but write them down. I must say, however, that I did not expect for the ship to be the dragon everyone feared or for the dragon to be the Captain. That is the fun of being a writer, and allowing one’s creativity to move as it pleases (within reason of course) you never miss the opportunity to be surprised! What has proven even better is that it goes well with another of the freewrites I wrote early on when I first began this blog. In other words, this is part of a novel that I have jotted down ideas for but haven’t really sat down to write. But soon…until then, here is a link to the first freewrite (LINK: Auboline)

Cheers!

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Chapter 28 Ascension Graveyard

Chapter 28

~The Journal of Etta Castle Teague

            Intimacy: Close relationship; detailed information or knowledge; Private utterance or action.

            The hard truth about life is that being intimate with the wrong people, giving them access to the secrets of your heart, mind and soul, can be a very costly thing. In the wrong hands, intimacy becomes a very dangerous weapon.

*          *          *

Maryam finished up her session and walked her client to the door. Part of her wanted to apologize to them for her mental distance during their session. The only thing was she wasn’t sure if they had even noticed that she wasn’t even listening to them. She was very well trained in the art of listening, and even investing in a conversation in a way that led the speaker to believe she was actually engaged. And she usually was very much engaged, just not today.

Her mind was totally consumed with last night and her session with Jørn. There was definitely something about that man that intrigued her. When she had offered to council him she had done it because she noticed he was struggling with demons that he just could not handle on his own. She wanted help him. She just had not realized how much her playful attraction to him would interfere with her ability.

He was obviously handsome; tall, manly and strong—he boxed for sport and ran on a regular basis which reaped physical rewards for a lady’s eyes. He road on a custom Harley Davidson CVO Street Glide, which made him seem mysterious in a bad boy sort of way. And yet he was sensitive, generous of heart, and even though he was religious—something that was generally a turn off for her—Maryam still found him incredibly appealing. She actually found the way he spoke about Christ and his authentic love for his Savior to be…sexy.

No, she had not heard a word her last patient had said. It wasn’t her fault. The woman had called an emergency session on Maryam’s day off, a day she fully intended to spend basking in the intimate afterglow of Jørn Teague. No man had made her feel like this before.

She felt herself blush at the thought of him and quickly rebuked herself. “Maryam, get a grip! He is a married man. You are his therapist, and he loves his wife.”

His wife, Etta Castle Teague. The way Jørn spoke about the woman made it seem as if she was totally disengaged from Jørn which only baffled Maryam. As a therapist, she knew better. She was only getting one side of the story and that generally left the scale to tip at a very unbalanced angle. But even with the biased commentary she could tell without a shadow of a doubt that Jørn was completely and madly in love with her.

She chewed her lip and clicked her fingernails against the top of her desk. There were other things that Jørn had mentioned last night about his marriage that made her wonder. Was Jørn staying with Etta out of desire or was it because he was beholden to her? They had spent roughly four hours talking and had barely scratched the surface.

She wanted to be fair, however. She was a professional and cared about the mental and emotional help of others. That is why she had gone into this field. But she was also a woman, looking at a man with the perfect combination, as he mourned what could be seen as a dying relationship with an unworthy woman. Maybe the little girl in her was making things out to be far worse in Jørn’s marriage than they actually were.

She pulled up her calendar. She and Jørn had another session tomorrow evening. She did a quick click with her fingers and made herself available for another night as well. She was going to take the bullets out of her gun and do some honest counseling just to see how things really were, and if what she was hoping was true, she didn’t see what the harm would be if she made herself a little more emotionally available to him. He needed someone to be there for him that way, and he had said it several times that Etta simply had checked out.

Her only concern now was whether or not her advice to him last night was coming out of professionalism or some attempt to cause further discord between him and Etta just to get him to come back for another session.

She allowed herself to smile with her rational. “It’s always less painful to rip of a bandage than to do it slowly. If they are not a good match because of strife, its best he realizes it now and moves on. If they work things out, then no harm, no foul.”

*          *          *

The car ride home seemed to take forever. The smothering sensations that Etta was feeling was mostly in her head, but it did not make her feel any less smothered. Jørn had said very little with his mouth but his aura might as well have been stabbing her in her corneas. He definitely wanted to hash it out again, play round two from this morning even though he had not verbally said so.

Baldwin had disappeared again. He said he was going out into the hallway to give them some time alone while they were at the hospital, but he had up and gone completely. He was beginning to make a habit out of his disappearing acts which only made Etta curious about where it was that he was going. She was going to have to ask him eventually. There was too much nervous energy that shown all around him after he returned from his “trips” for her not to raise the question.

They pulled into the parking garage and before she could even get her seatbelt undone, Jørn had opened her door and was helping her out of the car. She glanced at his extended hand. “I am not an invalid. I can get myself out of the car.”

His hand didn’t waver but lingered in the air until she took hold of it. “I never said you were. I am simply honoring my wife by helping her out of the car. Is that okay?”

She started towards the elevator without him, having pulled her hand from his. “I suppose it would be okay if you weren’t doing it because you felt bad about something, because when that is your motive it just comes off as very insincere, which only makes me angrier.” He stepped into the elevator and pushed their floor. She could feel his eyes upon her as if the were his hands, and yet she refused to make eye contact with him.

They were at their apartment in minutes. Jørn had barely shut the door before he spoke again. “My care of you is sincere, Etta. I am not trying to make you angry. I am not trying to put on a show to win brownie points, either.” He hung his jacket into the closet along side hers.

Etta found her arms going across her chest again. It had been a long time since her nerves had been this frayed, but they were frayed, so much so that they could have been used as a paintbrush. As a result she was finding it hard to avoid her defensive postures or sharp-tongued responses. “Really? Because it’s been a while since you have opened the door for me, or even showed this much care, especially in light of last night.” She kept her eyes on his and refused to cry. “But I imagine you are still going to keep your reasons for not answering to yourself, like you did this morning.”

The way his aura refracted meant the mentioning of his absence had hurt him too. “I was wrong,” He moved towards her. “I should have answered you, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care.”

She turned to walk away from him but he caught her in his arms, pulling her back against his chest. “I made a mistake, Etta and I apologize. I love you.”

His sudden closeness, his warmth and the familiar comforting scent of his skin, the truth in his whisper, eased some of the tension from her being. Stubbornly she wiggled free from him, her shoulder and forearm against his chest even though she wasn’t sure that she wanted to be away from him. She pulled away because of her own human nature. Her feelings were still tender from his absence last night and his verbal shut down this morning. But, suddenly, with the way he boxed her in, keeping her from her planned, angered retreat, none of that seemed to matter. Reality of the losses she could possibly face at the hand of the Pulse, no matter how much careful planning she had made, had become incredibly clear and it made her knees week just like the Pulse had that morning.

Mr. Albert had been struck down twice. The Pulse was on a vicious hunt for Baldwin. It had gotten a glimpse of other relationships she had forged, no matter how shallow, or meaningless they appeared on the surface. Every face, every name that they had accessed suddenly became names on a deadly list of potential victims. Etta had already known the risks when she and Baldwin had started this war, and that is why she had kept her heart so hard, pushed people away, but there was still some softness beneath all of that stone, enough softness to break her.

Jørn turned her chin towards his face but she jerked away. “Move, Jørn. I mean it. I don’t want to look at you right now.” She childishly closed her eyes.

“No, Etta.”

“Jørn!”

He took hold of her face and pressed his lips into hers. She felt an angry growl roll up the back of her throat as she pushed away again. She wasn’t angry that he had kissed her. She was angry because she realized that what she had needed was for him to kiss her. She had wondered what it was that she needed at the hospital, but now that she realized it was Jørn, she wanted to scream. This was no good. Feeling this way was no good at all.

Several tears slipped from the corners of her closed eyes and she felt him kiss them away even though more of them seemed to flow forth. He kissed her eyelids, tenderly kissed the bruises on her face, and then he kissed her lips again before speaking against her partially open mouth. “I love you. You are the only woman in this world that I love. And I hate that I wasn’t there for you last night. But I am here now, and I am not going anywhere. Do you hear me?” His lips eased into hers again before she could answer.

She cracked her eyes open, only slightly, peering into the colors around him. The golden hue that engulfed him was like warm oil and it beaconed to her. She had felt so helpless last night, trapped that morning. She had been wearing such rigid armor for so long that it scared her to see what was underneath it when trouble had come. She had needed Jørn, shouldn’t have, but she needed him and she needed him now.

She turned her body towards him and eased into the protection of his arms, her body trembling as the crying she had been trying to repress broke forth.

*          *          *

Clive studied the reflection of his face and neck in the large picture of himself and his traitor-wife that sat upon his desk. Doris knocked on the door to his office and eased her way in. She tried not to make eye contact with him. She had already mentioned the markings he had on his neck and he didn’t hold back from giving her a severe tongue lashing.

“What is it, Doris?!” He grumbled, slamming down the face of the picture frame with such force that it shattered the glass.

Doris startled. “I-I just wanted,”

Before she could get the words out Rick Henley cupped her shoulders and let himself into Clive’s office. “Pastor Meeks, that is no way to talk to Doris. She doesn’t deserve that. Thank you, Doris.” He gave Doris a quick smile and walked her to the door before closing it behind her.

He turned towards Clive and stared at him with his hands on his hips. “What is it that you want? Why did you have me come all the way out here?”

Clive narrowed his eyes. “Now Sergeant Henley, I find that isn’t anyway for you to talk to your Pastor.” He pointed towards the chair across from him. “Have a seat, Rick. I need to make this quick as I have a meeting with Mr. Taubman in less than 30 minutes.”

“Yeah, well unless you have a real issue to talk about you aren’t getting any more than five minutes of my time.”

Clive steepled his fingers beneath his nose. Rick had not been a fan of his since before the ascension. He really didn’t care for him afterward. The man didn’t even raise a finger to protect Vanessa Wong when Etta had attacked her. If he had that little regard for the Mayor, it stood to reason that he had even less of the Pastor of Greenwich Pass. He said, “I take it that you don’t much care for me, Rick. I mean after what happened at the ascension—”

“Four minutes and 35 seconds, Pastor. Are you really going to waste your time talking to me about who likes who? And after what happened at the ascension,” He whistled through his teeth. “I have less need of you and anybody else who calls themselves a Seat holder than I did before I knew who you were. You all did a real bang up job with your negotiations. So much so that we almost lost a whole lot more of our citizens. If it weren’t for Etta—”

Clive pounded his fist on his desk. His eyes flashed with an unearthly light before filling with darkness. The entire office filled with darkness. Rick struggled for only a second before the mental grip of the Pulse held him paralyzed. The sound of Etta’s name ignited such fiery heat that it could have curdled Clive and Rick’s blood.

It said, as it hovered Clive’s hands over Rick’s temples. “What I need from you will only take a few short seconds. The few minutes that will remain will be just enough for you to recuperate before Mr. Taubman arrives.” The shards that surrounded Rick began to weave outward and form tethers to Clive. A wash of dull grey almost black, over took the once vibrant colors.

Rick’s body, though stiff, began to buck under the mental and physical strain. The control of his will, his thoughts, his feelings, was being torn from his grasp and made property of the Pulse. He wasn’t going to be like the others they had turned since last night. He and Taubman would be so much more.

“You see, I have need of your man power, and it will be a much easier task if I can work through you and others without having to expose myself. We will regain control. Greenwich Pass will conform to the sequence once again, and Etta Castle Teague will be nothing but a bad memory, once we are finished with her, her and Baldwin Falk. Wouldn’t you agree, Sergeant Henley?”

The Pulse pulled Clive’s hands away from Rick’s head and the man’s body seemed to flop like a fish, before he gained physical composure. He righted himself up in the chair and readjusted his uniform. He smiled, a completely different man altogether. “I do indeed, Pastor Meeks. They have no idea who they are dealing with. But they are about to find out.”

Chapter 27 Ascension Graveyard

Chapter 27

~The Journal of Etta Castle Teague

“Sometimes I am convinced that the Towes are nothing but human beings with the typical false sense of entitlement, and now the rest of the world has to pay for it.”

*          *          *

Etta’s cell phone slipped from her hand and fell onto the floor. She couldn’t even register the sound of the Emergency Dispatch Operator’s voice as it echoed against the tiles of the store. She did however manage to end the call with a quick move of her fingers.

“What is that? Is that a Lotus seed?”

“Yeah! It came out Mr. Albert’s pocket,” She leaned forward and slowly reached for the smoky grey orb.

“Don’t touch it!” Baldwin’s sharp rebuke made her hand recoil and her pulse hiccup in her veins. “There is obviously something wrong with it. It could hurt you too,” Baldwin drew even closer, looking at Mr. Albert’s still body before splitting his attention between Etta and the Lotus seed.

Etta considered what he said as she studied the orb. Its glassy exterior was fractured and grey with bits of white slicing through it. White. All Lotus seeds were red or black. The only white ones were…“Oh God,” Ignoring Baldwin’s advice, she plucked the seed from the ground. Baldwin called her name again. “It’s one of ours, one of the white seeds.” She stood and held it out to him, before drawing it closer to her face for further inspection. Her brow was drawn and twisted. She could feel the frequency humming within it. She had written the sequence herself.

“How did he get his hands on it, and what in the world happened to it?”

            “I don’t know, and I don’t know,” She quickly hid the seed within her fist and shoved it into the pocket of her jacket, her head snapping in Kyle’s direction.

“Whoa! Is he-is he…dead?!” The little bit of color that Kyle had quickly drained from his face. He froze still at the store entrance and stared at Mr. Albert.

Etta bent forward and picked up her phone, redialing the emergency line. “No, he is not dead, not yet. Clive did something to him and I had to put him in a coma,” She turned her back to him once the Dispatcher answered her call. “Yes, I need an ambulance. My grandfather was having seizures and is now in a coma…Eaton Mall, third floor, Forever Friends…I don’t know why he seized, it just happened…Can you just send an ambulance already?! Thank you!”

She hung up the phone and dropped it on the counter behind her. Cupping her mouth with her hands she stared down at her grandfather again, ignoring the throbbing in her head. The Pulse had caused her less pain this time, but it was pain nonetheless. The peaceable expression upon Mr. Albert’s face was so deceiving. He had to have been in some level of pain after the hard thrashing his body had just done.

“What did he do? Why are there Lotus here?” Still keeping his distance from him, Kyle moved closer to Etta until he was standing at her side.

She shook her head, and sent the Lotus away. She then clicked her teeth with frustration for the tears pricking her eyes. “I called the Lotus. He and Clive ambushed me,”

“So you put him in a coma?!”

“No, it wasn’t like that.” Her brow came together again as she thought about what had taken place. It had happened so fast. She had sent out a frequency calling for the Lotus. Clive and Mr. Albert let her go, but Mr. Albert grabbed for his leg. The Lotus seed must have responded somehow. It was in his pocket then.

Her scowl deepened. “What I know for sure is that one minute Mr. Albert had my arms pinned and Clive was somehow digging around in my brain, and then they both let me go and Mr. Albert was trying to kill him,”

Kyle’s mouth fell opened. “Did they fight?”

“Not exactly. He just drove Clive away from me, and then Clive touched his head and he started to have seizures. They were so violent I couldn’t think to do anything else but put him in a coma.” She let her eyes meet Kyle’s, her voice was almost apologetic. “Don’t say anything about this, okay. I need to figure some things out. If anyone asks you, it was just seizures.”

Kyle shook his head. “My lips are sealed, man. But just to clarify, Pastor Meeks has alien powers, and can dig into my brain, see stuff, my thoughts and what not?”

Her expression was answer enough but she added, “Now do you see why I don’t tell you everything, why you get information in fractured bits? Because of this kind of stuff, and trust me it hurts like hell having some alien entity digging around in your brain.”

“Thanks for the heads-up on that.” He cupped the back of his neck with his hand.

The paramedics were in the store just as soon as Kyle had finished talking. Etta left the store in Kyle’s hands and followed behind the paramedics. Baldwin was with her.

“What aren’t you telling me about what happened?” He whispered as if anyone other than Etta could hear him. He could tell by her body language that something was up.

Etta matched his tone. “I am still trying to figure it out. But I am pretty sure that Clive or the Pulse was trying to kill Mr. Albert. The Lotus seed protected him somehow.” She glanced at him. “He was completely committed to helping the Pulse extract whatever it was that they were after until I sent out the frequency and called for our Lotus. That’s when he grabbed his leg and tried to kill Clive.”

She looked at him again before heading out the front door of the mall. “He was protecting me, Baldwin. It was like he was his self again, that or the call for protection from the Lotus somehow triggered his protective instincts through the seed I his pocket. I don’t know…”

“And then Clive hit him?”

            “He just touched him and then Mr. Albert started seizing. I know Clive was trying to kill him, but the seed blocked it, broke the Towes hold from off of him.”

“How do you know that?”

“Well, for starters his aura, the thing the Towes used to stay tethered with him and everyone else, is completely gone now, but the seed looks exactly like it used to.” She touched one of the paramedics’ shoulders. “I will follow you in my car.”

She shut her car door behind her and jammed the key in the ignition. “I can still see yours though, and everyone else’s for that matter. Worst of all, there are a lot more grey auras today than there were last night.” She glared at a couple who was entering the mall. They glared right back. “Which means the Pulse is feeling desperate.”

“Do you think it was able to retrieve anything from you about our plan?”

            She thought about the images that she had fumbled within her mind. Most of them were useless, some of them personal, but the ones that the Pulse seemed to snag at the most were things that had to do with Baldwin.

Etta shook her head. “It only got what I wanted it to.”

*          *          *

Jørn closed the door to Dr. Philips’ office behind him. He didn’t know how to process what had just happened. From what he had been told, the Chief had plans of skinning him alive for the way Etta had acted the night before, but now, after sitting with the woman for a good hour, Jørn was pretty sure everyone else had gotten it wrong. That, or the emergency call she had just received had kept her from getting to her point. He would have almost believed the latter to be true if not for the conversation that they were having up until she received the call.

Instead of Dr. Philips coming at him with fire and daggers, she was extending him an olive branch of sorts. Even though the woman comported herself with nothing but professionalism and grace, she could not hide the very real fear that was in her eyes. It seemed she was very much afraid of Etta and by default, Jørn.

What had she said before he left her office; something to the tune of a measure of good faith? What did that mean?

He had made it halfway to his own office when Rachel touched his arm. He hadn’t even seen her coming. “Hey. I called you. Did you get my messages?”

“I didn’t get a chance to listen to them. A lot has been going on.”

“I know. I actually wanted to have a word with you in regard to some of those things. Do you have a minute?”

He honestly wanted to say no. No, he did not have a minute. No, he did not want to talk about Heidi Flagg or Vanessa Wong. No, he did not want to talk about anything that might involve Etta, but he knew that it was better to get it over with than to wait. After all, he had his own questions he wanted answered in regard to Heidi.

“Sure, I actually am free for the next hour.” He unlocked his office door and held it opened for her. Rachel helped herself to a chair, placing the folder she had brought for Jørn on his desk.

“What’s this?” He sat down across from her and pointed at the folder.

Rachel waited until she held his gaze. “It is everything that I as able to collect regarding Heidi Flagg, your fiancée.” The look she gave him was like that of a disappointed mother.

Jørn leaned his head back and let out a deep breath. “I actually wanted to talk to you about that as well.”

“Did you?” She leaned forward, skepticism all over her face.

“Yes, Rachel. I did, I planned on doing so.”

“Well, Jørn it really doesn’t seem like it. Which begs the question, why? What happened to her? What does your wife know? She has to know something. She is listed as her next of kin, ad a witness to accounts.” She flipped the folder open and pushed the papers towards him. “She is being accused of being responsible for not only Vanessa Wong’s coma, and the other two victims,”

Jørn held up his hands. “That is all they are, accusations. People are constantly passing rumors. I think I heard at least ten different versions about what happened to Wong. The fact of the matter is that neither of us was there, so we don’t know what really happened. And it’s hurtful that people are blaming Etta.

“I don’t even know why anyone would want to for that matter since she supposedly stopped the ascension. Besides all that, you can’t prove she had anything to do with this. How could she even put a person in a coma like that? It’s not like she beat any of them.”

“Yeah, well she did stop the ascension so I would not put this possibility beyond her.”

He sighed. “Rachel, really, I would like it very much if you would not accuse her like this.”

Rachel tilted her head to the side and studied his face. “I talked to Amanda, the nurse who was on staff last night. She said that Etta bragged about putting them in comas, and would do the same to her and others. And it really doesn’t help matters now that your grandfather-in-law is in a coma too.”

Jørn flinched. Did he hear her correctly? “Mr. Albert? Albert Castle has been emitted? When?”

“Just this morning. He is in a coma. He has several abrasions and a dislocated elbow, from what I understand, but he is in a coma; same as Wong’s same as the others, and same as Heidi Flagg’s. They ran a few test on him, well, anyone that your wife would let go near him has been able to run test.”

She grimaced. “Your wife is being very irrational. And she is scaring the staff. She has threatened three other doctors and a few nurses already today. No one wants to work on this case, and your grandfather-in-law needs help. He could have cranial bleeding or swelling. He could be at death’s door right now and we won’t know because she won’t let us do our jobs.”

“So you are blaming Etta too then? You think she did this somehow, to her own grandfather, to Wong, to Heidi?!” Jørn tightened his jaw. Rachel had not said so specifically, that she thought Etta had caused Mr. Albert’s coma, but she had insinuated it.

Jørn had shamefully had the same thought himself, but the protective urge to defend Etta was causing him to become highly sensitive, which only meant he would become verbally aggressive. He schooled his tone. “We can talk about this later. Or not. I vote for not. But I need to go and see about my family,” He stood up to leave.

Rachel followed suit, her hand extended forward to stop him from leaving. “Listen, I am not trying to accuse anyone of anything. I am just bringing you information that you clearly have not considered. I mean at the end of the day, we don’t know what is going on, or what, let alone who we are dealing with.”

He narrowed his eyes. “So what are you saying then?”

“I am saying look at the facts, Jørn. Etta is the one who called for the ambulance. She was there when it happened. She was there when Wong went into her mysterious coma, as well as the others. She is somehow causing this—”

“You don’t know that! Just last week you were blaming Wong’s coma on her head injury from that previous Sunday. Now you think my wife is magically putting people in comas.”

She blushed. “That was before I knew what I know! That was before I started following the arrows and they all point to Etta! She is the common denominator! She stopped the ascension which means she has some kind of power or ability. She could easily be doing this! I am a rational person, and I am beyond convinced,”

Jørn shook his head and began to walk past her. Rachel grabbed his arm. “What are you two hiding?!” Her voice rose and her brow descended. “What did she do to Heidi Flagg, what is she doing now?!”

“She didn’t do anything to Heidi!” He pulled his arm from her grip, her words making him see red.

“You don’t know that!”

“I was THERE, RACHEL! Etta didn’t do anything!”

The growl in his voice made her stumble backward. Her jaw clamped shut and her face began to burn. “You were there? Then,” She hesitated.

“Then why am I not the next of kin? Why haven’t I said anything? Because I went on a binge, if you must know. I couldn’t deal with her death.” He looked away from her and towards the door, wanting to retreat again, before forcing his eyes to meet hers again. “But I am telling you, my wife didn’t do anything to her.”

“But you don’t know that—”

“Rachel!” He cut her off. She glared up at him. “Let me make myself very clear to you, so that there is no room for misunderstanding later. First, I didn’t know that Heidi’s case was an any way similar to Wong’s, so when you brought it to me the other day, I was caught off guard. I have been doing my best to deal with her loss for over a decade. So you have to understand it was a bit much to have it brought up again in casual conversation.

“Now having this information in regard to Heidi, having the opportunity to find out what exactly happened to her that day, puts me in a position where I have no choice but to help you figure it out. Why? Because I need that closure. Because I loved her.” His voice caught in his throat, but he quickly forced it free.

“But with that being said, you need to know you are towing a very thin line when you talk about my wife.” The tension that had already filled the room like stifling steam from a hot sauna, thickened even more.

Rachel’s eyes widened. “Are you threatening me?”

Jørn huffed, a disgusted look washed over his face. “Who do you think I am? I am not threatening you. I am giving you information. I like you, Rachel. I count you as a friend of mine. But I will not allow you, or anyone else to bring me bones about my wife. I take it beyond personally, same as I would if you were physically attacking me. So if you want my help, like I want to help you, I suggest you stick to the cold hard facts and leave the speculations about my wife to the gossips.

“Etta would never hurt Heidi or her grandfather. So leave the thought alone. If you can’t do that then you are on your own with the patients from here on out. Are we clear?”

“What about the mess that just happened with Etta this morning, Jørn? You want me to just turn the other cheek and pretend that none of this is at all suspicious, when the answers most likely lie with your wife?”

“Are. We. Clear?” His eyes bored into hers.

Rachel stared hard at him before slowly nodding. Her lips were pressed in a tight line and her fist akimbo before she finally spoke. “We are clear.”

“Good. Would you still like my help?”

She huffed a smile, turned and headed for the door. “Yes actually. I will take what I can get. Something is better than nothing, right? I will leave that file with you then. Look over it when you have a chance and get back to me when you can, the sooner the better.”

“Wait,”

She lingered at the door, folding her arms across her chest. “What is it?”

He moved towards her. “If Etta is resisting other doctor’s help, maybe she will let you see to Mr. Albert. It might help with your other cases, assuming that they are indeed related. I can also tell you his personal health history to speed things along. I’ll even fill you in on Heidi.”

“That would help a lot. But as far as Albert Castle goes, what makes you think Etta will be willing to allow me to work with him? She hasn’t really let anyone else.” Her brow rose and she chewed her lip. She was still angry but her curiosity ruled out.

“She will let you because I will vouch for you. Deal?”

“Deal.”

*          *          *

“Etta!”

Etta spun around at the sound of her name echoing down the hall. Jørn’s voice had cut through the din of other voices, and even silenced her own as a fresh rebuke was lingering on the tip of her tongue.

She met his gaze and felt herself still in that moment. The starchy anger in her face only waned a little before drawing back up with full force. The conflicted feelings she was having about Jørn since that morning, coupled with the searing headache she was having brought on by the Pulse, and her lingering concussion, did not help her attitude one bit. Neither did the onslaught of Towes dolls with grey auras that had come to “help” her grandfather. She had already decided to lay out everyone in that wing if any of them went near him. She was feeling that raw. She almost wanted them to try her.

Keeping his eyes locked on hers like a magnet’s, Jørn took hold of her arm and eased her towards the entrance of Mr. Albert’s hospital room. “Will you excuse us, please?” He met eyes with the Chief and the other staff members who were present.

The Chief, Doctor Philip’s, nodded her head. “I will be right out here. We need to have another word, please.” She backed away from the door and instructed the others to leave as well.

Etta swallowed down the rest of her pointed words and allowed herself to be towed into the room. Jørn closed the door behind them before whispering something to the other doctor who had come down the hall with him.

She felt her body grow even tenser standing there in the silence with Jørn. Part of her was waiting for him to challenge her just like everyone else had. Part of her wanted something else. She didn’t know what. She kept her mouth closed.

Jørn walked passed her and stood at the side of Mr. Albert’s bed, his mouth drawn and his brow line lowered as if in deep thought. “How is he?”

The question had actually taken her off guard. No rebuke for her standoff with the Chief or his other coworkers? “I don’t know,” She answered honestly. She didn’t know. What she knew for certain was that all evidence of the Towes in him or on him was gone. That was excellent news, but she didn’t know what that meant in regard to Mr. Albert’s mind, what that meant for his dementia especially after such a massive seizure.

She had never liked her grandfather, but that didn’t mean that she didn’t love him. She did love him, and after the Towes had converted him into one of their dolls a few years back, she had believed that he was lost for good. She had quietly mourned his loss and managed to move on with very little emotional evidence. But having witnessed his lucid self, one last time, rising up against the very enemy he had raised her to hate, and then coming so close to death just to protect her, brought with it a rawness that she had not prepared herself to deal with.

The good news was that there was hope that all of the Towes dolls could be set free from the dark, but there was also the chance that Mr. Albert, though free, would not live to enjoy that freedom even if he still faced the deterioration of dementia. Etta would never get to tell him thank you, or tell him she loved him again. She hardly had before, as par his rules.

Baldwin pointed towards the door. “I am going to leave you two alone.”

            Etta nodded.

Jørn pressed his hand against Mr. Albert’s forehead. “What happened to him?”

Etta studied his aura. The shards around him were filled with compassion, not the judgment that everyone else was displaying, and almost no evidence of their fall out that morning. The fact that he seemed “over it” somehow irritated her. She folded her arms around her chest. “He was at the store this morning. Pastor Meeks came in, and we all got into somewhat of a disagreement.”

Jørn turned to face her. She watched his eyes, still waiting for the shift in his shards, a glint in his eyes, judgment, anger. Nothing came. She went on. “Everything got really heated, you know with me against the two of them, but then, Mr. Albert just snapped. He started choking Pastor Meeks—”

“What? He choked him?” A flash of color burst throughout his aura. He was shocked.

Etta nodded. “Mr. Albert seized after that. It was so bad, Jørn.” She looked at Mr. Albert’s long body, lying in helplessly in the bed. Casualty of war. She thought. A rebel tear slipped out of the corner of her eye before she brushed it away and scowled. “I don’t think he is going to survive this.”

“Don’t say that,”

“It’s the truth. You didn’t see it. He hit the ground so hard,”

“Well, what has his doctor said?”

Etta ground her teeth, her anger and frustration rising. “They haven’t said anything! The only thing they are focused on is this stupid coma! What about the seizure? What about his dementia? What about his age? They all just want to pile in here and stare at him. They can stare at someone else!”

Jørn closed the space between them. The warmth of his body caressed her skin even though he had not touched her. The welcome in it made her step away from him.

Jørn sighed, clearly noting her resistance towards him. “He hasn’t shown any evidence of dementia in a few years, Etta.”

“That doesn’t mean anything and you know it. He has been showing signs of it for a while now. Just yesterday he yelled at me like I was six years old again, and I don’t mean like he was trying to belittle me. No, he was looking at me like he did when I was a child. He thought I was a child. He specifically called me Etta Castle, like he did whenever I was in trouble as a kid.

“You know we have had our run-ins since I have been an adult, and he has never addressed me like that. Nor has he ever looked like that. The entire conversation was bizarre. And then he just snapped out of it like it didn’t even happen. His facial expression, body language, all of it changed.” The aura around him changed.

Jørn rubbed his lips with his fingers, again the expression of intense thought bloomed on his face. “You know, he had a similar incident with me a few nights back, but I didn’t even consider that it might have been dementia. It may not be. With the recent changes with the ascension it could be something else. Stress, maybe? I don’t know. But if you want, I can call his old doctor, Doctor Graham, to come in to see about him, to see if it is indeed dementia.”

Etta plopped herself down in a chair in the corner, closing her eyes as she gnawed on her situation. It was hardly passed midday, and she was beyond exhausted. She also needed to test the Lotus seed that had come out of Mr. Albert’s pocket. She was certain that it had somehow freed Mr. Albert from the hold of the Towes, but she also believed it had left his mind exposed to rapid deterioration, not to mention whatever it was that the Pulse had done.

“He needs other assistance. That seizure was insane. Do you understand that?” She opened her eyes to look at him.

“I do. That is why I,” He paused. Dr. Philips had knocked on the door, calling his name. “Give me a second, Hun. I will be right back.”

Etta waited for a good ten minutes before he returned, his white doctor’s coat exchanged for his leather jacket, his bag and keys in hand. Another doctor, the one who had come down the hall with him, was with him. “Sorry about that. The Chief just wanted to make sure that everything was being properly handled in regard to Mr. Albert.”

“Is it?” She cocked an eyebrow.

“Yes. I have asked Doctor Steves to monitor Mr. Albert, run the necessary test. I have informed her of the seizure and the history of dementia as well. Etta you know Rachel.”

Etta gave her an appraising look. The woman showed no signs of grey in her aura, but judgment was all over her. She also had some tension going towards Jørn. The expressive shards only meant that the Pulse had not bothered to latch on to her. Etta had already encountered seven newly converted Towes dolls that afternoon alone, three of them had been out in the hallway arguing with her, all of their once colorful auras ruined with complete washes of dull, dark matter. There was no telling how many more people of Greenwich Pass the Pulse had turned over to the dark since last night, which only meant that now Etta had to figure out a damage control response for that.

Nevertheless, it was a nothing short of a blessing that Dr. Steves was clean, judgment aside.

She gave Jørn a quick glance before offering Etta her hand. “Hello again, Etta.”

“Doctor Steves.”

Jørn cleared his throat. “I asked her to call me if anything changes with Mr. Albert. I also called Doctor Graham. He will be in this evening to run some test on him for his other condition. I plan to come back in later to find out about the test results.”

“Are you leaving?” Etta stood up, resentment straightening her back. He wasn’t there for her last night, and now he was just going to leave?”

“We are leaving.” He pointed between himself and Etta. She was about to protest when he cut her off, gently taking her by the arm, and hooking her around the waist as he pushed her towards the door. “You have a concussion. This is a lot of stress on you. You need to get some rest. I know you are concerned about Mr. Albert, so am I,  but I am more concerned about you.” She shook her head. Jørn kept pulling her forward. “Please, he is in good hands.”

Etta’s head was pounding and she was feeling more awful since the encounter with the Pulse. But the last thing she wanted to do was to straddle Jørn right now on his loud bike? “I am not riding on that bike.” She glared up at him.

“Give me my car keys. I can get my bike later.”

She reached for her purse and handed Jørn the keys, before giving Mr. Albert one more look. She was going to make the Pulse pay for this. “Fine, let’s go.”

Artful Aggression

Drawing 1

Have you ever watched a movie, sat in horror or just shear irritation as you witness one character (generally a parent or a lover) verbally abuse their child or partner? And as you are watching you begin to judge that character thinking, “Gosh, they are wrong. I would  never talk to my child like that.”

The scene ends, the couple or family members come to some peaceful ground, and then the movie ends.

The movie ends but the hypocrisy continues.

In the Book of Matthew 7:5, Yeshua Jesus says “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
You are probably thinking, what in the world does a scene from a movie and teaching from Jesus have to do with art. They have everything to do with art, even if indirectly.

We as artist and writers  have a tendency to look at our creations the same way the harsh parent or the cruel lover in the movie look at their child and partner. We, like these characters, look at our creations (children born from us, lovers grown through intimacy and time) with unreasonable scrutiny, judging it with irrational standards.

One minute we are in love with what we have done, staring at it with admiration. The next we are setting it ablaze or trying to hide it from world’s view because of some “issue” that we have convinced ourselves is there.

We cruelly victimize our art. Art’s greatest victimizer is often the one who created it.

The fact of the matter is, this criticism of our creations is spelled out in the verse in the Gospel of Matthew. We subconsciously or consciously, have an issue with our self and the displeasure with self becomes an attack upon our creative works. We don’t deal with our planks so we burn up the splinters in our work.

Now, I know Yeshua wasn’t necessarily talking about how we treat our works of art, when He said this, but the truth of the matter is, we cannot truly be kind to others if we are not kind to ourselves. We cannot love others if we cannot love ourselves, and this is the same for our art.

I had to call myself out on this recently when I nearly destroyed all the work I had put into my novel, Ascension Graveyard. I even wrote a POST about it. (I was seeing problems that were not there.)

Let us, as artists, writers, parents and lovers, come to a place of self love and appreciation. Let us realize we are good enough even if we still have room to grow, and thus our creations are good enough even though they have room to grow.

Art and expression is about the journey. It is about telling the story in truth and authenticity from where we currently are. This should never be victimized, but always celebrated. After all if we can’t celebrate our growth, then what is the point of growing at all?

Cheers!

 

I came for the soup.dpp widgets

Singing Winds: A Freewrite

The wind blew so fiercely that it stuck fallen leaves to the face of the window screens as if nature was doing its own form of decopage. Collin nearly fell over himself trying to get to the window and pull it shut before all of the papers he had sitting on Mr. Radcliff’s desk began to dance in the swirling wind. Having accomplished his task, he stared curiously out the window were nature seemed to be waving frantically at him, as if trying to get his attention, inviting him to its song and dance.

He had been blessed with a wild imagination, some in his life thought it was more of a curse the way the thoughts in his head could take shape, becoming the dressing of things that were actually real.  The red and yellow leaves in that moment for Collin were the wild wigs of dark skinned women twirling in the chill of the autumn wind. And as he watched, did there curves appear and their chocolate smiles broaden at him. Collin smiled back.

“Collin, Collin the papers!” Mr. Radcliff, his sisters father-in-law gaped at the mess that had become his office. “What have you done in here? Did one of your stories take an unforgivable turn?” He plucked one of the loose pages up from the floor.

Collin turned away from the window to his lady friends’ chagrin, accessing the mess that had become Mr. Radcliff’s office. He hurried and took the page from his hands and made quick work of gathering the others. “The window, I left it open and the wind sang so suddenly,”

“Sang? You said the wind sang?” Mr. Radcliff gave him a curious look.

Recalling the movement of the women-tress outside, the rhythm at which each leaf had plastered its self to the window screen like the perfect punch of a jazz players saxophone, and the rustling of his papers moving to a complimentary tempo of their own, yes, Collin would say the wind had sung, and everything came to life just to dance. He shook his head. “I didn’t mean sang, I meant came. Slip of the tongue. Again, I apologize for the mess, Mr. Radcliff.”

Mr. Radcliff huffed at this and Collin blushed. He had never gotten used to people mocking him, not even as a man of 24 years. He still felt awkward in the face of torment, wanting often to do nothing more than hide his pages away, while he hid along with them. He had actually come to stay the fall months with his sister and her husband’s family for that reason even though he had given another.

Mr. Radcliff stood and placed what papers he had gathered neatly on the desk by the window. “I say Collin, although I am old enough to be your father, I do not like it at all when you call me Mr. Radcliff.  Call me Charles for heaven’s sake.” His look was very reproving. “I like it even less when a man of your wit tries to hide his fire.” His eye narrowed.

Collin stood and swallowed down a dry lump in his throat. He nearly choked on it when Mr. Radclilff-Charles, clapped him on the back.

“And for the love of all that is good, keep the wind singing, man. Life is dull any other way.”

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