Chapter 10 Ascension Graveyard

Chapter 10
~The Journal of Etta Castle Teague

“We, the Towes included, tend to only search for answers when a problem presents itself. To most that may seem logical, but we don’t live in a logical world. Because by the time the problem has made its grand debut, it has already prepared its next act, with several other cards up its sleeves, and by the time we start searching for solutions to the first fist to the gut, it is usually too late. Maybe if we, as race, read more we would be more inclined to foreshadowing, probabilities and building hypothesis.
Good thing some of us learned early on how to plan ahead.”
* * *
Traffic was bad, very bad. Road rage and anxiety had ended up causing several minor accidents and a few curbside scuffles that the police had to break up. Baldwin had been right, it felt like the whole of Greenwich Pass was headed straight towards the mall, and not only the locals, but people from within a 200 mile radius had made the journey as well.
There was absolutely no parking available, which meant Etta had to park several blocks away and then walk briskly just to make it in time to hear half of what Clive Meeks had to say. Had she known the local news would be broadcasting live, she might have stayed home. But then she had made Doris the promise that she would be there in person to show her some support.

She pushed her way through the crowd but had to stop halfway to Doris. If she pushed herself any further she would have gotten in a physical altercation. People just were not in the mood.

“Good thing Jørn decided to stay home.” Baldwin stared at the Greenwich Pass P.E teacher. The man had all but threatened to toss Etta down the escalators if she tried to take his place in the room. Etta snorted in agreement. Jørn may have turned lily livered during ascensions but he would have fought the man had he heard his threat towards Etta.

She whispered back, “Maybe he should have come, then he would have had to spend the weekend in jail and then I wouldn’t have to worry about him drinking his face off right when we are about to shine for the Towes.”

Baldwin shook his head but then tapped Etta on the shoulder as if she could feel it. “Doris sees you.” He pointed in Doris’ direction and Etta’s eyes followed. She made eye contact just in time to see the sullen expression on Doris’ face brighten.

She began to wave her forward but Etta shook her head no and pointed at the scowling gym teacher. Doris stood up and whispered in the ear of one of the police officers and then pointed back at Etta. Within a few short moments, Etta was being escorted to the front of the chapel much to the gym teacher’s chagrin. Before she could even sit all the way down she felt Doris’ arms wrap around her bicep with a bear like grip.

“I am so glad you made it. I thought you had stood me up.” Etta had to read her lips in order to understand what she was saying over the din of voices in the room.

Etta patted her thigh. “Never. Traffic is horrendous. Bad enough that I think I might crash here to night.”

Doris looked horrified at the thought of sleeping in the mall.

Etta gave her a gentle rib jab. “I’ve done it before. It’s not that bad. What did I miss?”

Doris rolled her eyes. “Mostly arguing and accusations. Pastor Meeks hasn’t even really been able to say a single word as to why he called us all here. He did say the ascension is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon though.” There was a sudden sorrow in her eyes that quickly blinked away. “Besides that, all that has really gone on in the last hour is crowd control. Even Mayor Wong had to step in a few times. Do you have any idea what happened to her nose? She looks terrible.” Doris crinkled her own nose and touched it with her fingers as if she were molding it back in place.

Etta shrugged her shoulders. “That bad, huh?” She narrowed her eyes as she looked in the direction of Clive Meeks. The man’s face was almost as red as the glossy enamel on her fingernails. His fists were clinched and his chest stuck out in indignation.

He blew out a force of air from his nostrils in the same manner a charging bull would, and jabbed his finger in the direction of the brunette standing five pews back. “Now you listen here, Mary Alice! No, as a matter of fact everyone in this chapel had better listen.” He gave the room a slow scan with his pale eyes.
There were far more people jammed into the chapel than was permitted by fire code, but no one bothered to bring that up. The stuffy air was enough to rile up the sweetest of saints. What Clive had to say was not going to make things get even hotter.

“First, I have been the pastor of this chapel for four dedicated years. Four!” He held up his fingers. “I have been faithful with counseling, doing funerals, marrying off your children, and preaching the gospel to you every single Sunday, even when most of you didn’t bother to show up!”

Etta crossed her legs. She felt a smile creeping up the sides of her mouth but she held it at bay. Clive was rotten to the core indeed. He preached the gospel every Sunday? He preached something, but it certainly was not the gospel.

Etta had never once read that the Three Hebrew Boys didn’t burn in the fiery furnace because it was not their time to ascend, and Jesus told them so while in the fire with them, or that the resurrection of the dead was being foreshadowed each cycle with those chosen to ascend. Last Etta checked, resurrection for the righteous was supposed to be a glorious, happy occasion. All she ever witnessed was sadness and glossed over emotions during ascensions. She always watched form a distance. Her favorite of Clive’s lies was when he had likened taking one’s number in the ascension to taking up ones cross and following Jesus.

She almost laughed out loud thinking about it.

Clive kept speaking. “I have told you all the truth and given you my all in preparation—”

“If you gave us your all, Pastor, then where the hell have you been all week?!”

Etta turned her head to see the gym teacher jabbing his finger right back at Clive the way he had done the congregation.

Clive slapped the pulpit with such force that he nearly knocked the wooden stand from its foundation. “I am just a man! I can’t be everywhere at once! And I certainly can’t hold all of your hands at the same, daggum time!”

That got the crowd riled up. The shouting was so bad Etta almost missed the scuffle that had broken out on the left side of the sanctuary. A few cops stepped in to break it up around the same moment that Mayor Wong took the mike from Clive and called more attention to the brawlers, her voice strained but clearly angry.

“If you have come here to earn a weekend in jail, then Sergeant Henley will be more than happy to ready your accommodations. Just line yourselves up right outside the chapel and let those who came here in peace hear what Pastor Meeks has to say!”

“Weekend in jail?!” The gym teacher was back at it. “My son was chosen for the ascension, tomorrow. I am loosing my boy tomorrow and you threaten us with jail?!” He began to push his way through the crowd, his eyes deadlocked on Wong. It was clear he intended to do her harm. “I have called Meeks and I even called your office about this sudden ascension crap, and both of you want to stand up there behind a wall of cops and waste our time?!”

Two officers cut him off halfway to the pulpit. He swung at them, catching one in the jaw before three more officers intervened, overpowering him and bracing his arms behind his back. He swore at them too.

Vanessa Wong looked less than amused, rolling her raccoon eyes at the man. He managed to break one arm free and shook his fist in her direction.

“You don’t even care! My wife ascended three years ago and now my son. He is only 17, the only part of her I have left and you don’t even care! Where the hell is the Council?! This should have been renegotiated!” His voice choked with tears.

The officers pulled him out of the chapel and forced him on the escalators. Even with his downward movement everyone could still hear his shouting. That was enough to bring about some order and relative silence in the room. The intensity of his emotions had sobered everyone.

It was as if they had forgotten why they were there in the first place. It wasn’t to shout accusations at the Mayor or the Pastor. It wasn’t to scuffle in the corner with the neighbors. It was to get answers as to why after only a day, were the Lotus out again? Why were the people of Greenwich Pass losing more family members, and why were they feeling it like this when they never had before?

Etta’s face immediately washed smooth, a stoic expression now fully fitted upon her brown skin as she watched Mr. Albert climb the three steps to the alter. He gave Vanessa Wong a disappointed and impatient glance before gently removing the microphone from her hands.

Mr. Albert held the microphone in silence for several short moments, staring down at his brown leather shoes before finally making eye contact with the crowd. Everyone went completely silent.

Doris leaned over towards Etta, but never once removed her eyes from Mr. Albert. “Your grandfather sure knows how to control a room. My word, you can almost hear a mouse peeing on cotton, it is so quiet in here.”

Etta kept watching him, but answered Doris in turn. “He is a doll, Doris.”

“He sure is.”

Mr.Albert finally brought the mike up to his lips and began to address the crowd. He had done so many times before, his voice the very water that put out the flames of several small protests that had swept through Greenwich Pass. After all, there were others who held the same views as Etta, views that even Mr. Albert once spoke to her about.

“Listen folks, I am not one to blow smoke. You all know that. You all know my beliefs. This week has been hectic. To put things plainly, it has been hell. Everyone in this room has a right to be upset. The sequence seems to have been broken.

“The very order that many of you bank upon on a day to day basis has been disrupted. I get that, we get that.” He pointed towards Vanessa and Clive. “We all have our difference, we may not all believe the same things about the ascensions but this week we have all, all of us, felt the affects of the Lotus being out this week, right on the cuffs of a completed ascension.”
He took a step down from the pulpit, his deep voice continuing to fill the room. “But what you all need to understand is that although, this man and woman hold leadership positions in our society, they are only human. They feel pressure just like all of us,”

-“But they chose their positions and neither one of them were at their post this week!” Someone shouted from the balcony.

Several others attempted to put in their opinion but one hand raise from Albert had them silent again. “They were at their posts.” He said as he took a step back up to the pulpit and stood along side them. “We…were at our post this week.”

He planted his hand on Clive’s shoulder. “That is why Pastor Meeks has called you all here. As you all know for the last five years there have been negotiations, talks more like, with the Them. All over the world, people were selected to hold these talks, to act as mediators between each party, to bridge the gaps of miscommunication, if you will. Things changed five years ago and things are changing now.”

Etta spared a glance at the faces in the crowd. Everyone was on the edge of their seats.

“Here we go.” Baldwin said, prefacing the moment he and Etta had known was about to come.

“We, myself, Mayor Vanessa Wong, and your devout Pastor, Clive Meeks, have been the three chosen as the voice of this Junction for the past five years.”
A wave of whispers broke out with in the sanctuary. Baldwin spoke again in Etta’s ear. “Put on your face. Don’t let on to Albert that you know.”

Etta flinched at the reminder, but quickly shifted her expression from one of stoicism to confusion and shock. Not a second later did Mr. Albert’s eyes find her’s. His bushy brow hung low in a stern manner at the sight of her.

Etta managed to force out a few crocodile tears at Mr. Albert’s confession and with the swipe of her hand that she used to brush them away, Mr. Albert turned his head.

“Well played,” Baldwin complimented. “But I think it is time that we made our exit. There are enough secret keepers here for us to listen from a less volatile distance and I fear it will get violent in a few short moments.”

Etta dipped her head and uncrossed her legs.

Doris grabbed her hand. “Are you leaving?! Now?!”

Etta continued her rouse. “I think I have heard enough.” She stared at Mr. Albert.

Doris turned back towards the three Council members. “I suppose that was a large pill to swallow. You think you know a person and then…” She shook her head. “Pastor, the Mayor, and your Granddaddy being the Council members for this junction,”

Etta stood only to have Doris grab her by the arm again. “Well honey don’t you want answers? Don’t you want to know why things are happening the way they are. You need to know, we all do. He said things are about to change.” The look in her eyes was that of a worried mother.

Etta kissed Doris’ forehead. “I already know why, Doris, and I believe you do too. They failed us, plain and simply, and there is no amount of negotiating or talking that can fix that. Change is coming? Things changed a long time ago.” She started to move towards the exit.

Doris shot to her feet as well, the din of the room growing even louder. The heat was definitely stirring in the room. The news had clearly not been taken kindly. The people of Greenwich pass were out for blood as it was. They already wanted to hang Vanessa Wong and Clive Meeks as scapegoats for their pain, but now they wanted to hang them as guilty offenders. They even wanted Albert now.

Etta turned around quickly and gave Doris a quick hug. “You should probably get out of here too, before things get out of hand,” She waved her hand about the room. “See you tomorrow, Doris.”
* * *
Jørn quickly spun out of sight before Etta could see him in the sanctuary. He waited several seconds before easing his way out of his hiding space just in time to see her heading up the escalator and towards her shop.

He waited until she was well within the entrance with the gate down and locked from the inside, before he left out of the chapel all together. It was not a moment too soon. Just as he had descended halfway down the escalator did the shouts begin to rise once again.

He turned around and stared at the chapel entrance, asking God to give him an answer. Should he go back? Should he help Albert out of the riot that was sure to ensue if the cops didn’t get a handle on things?

Riots. He thought about what Rachel had said at the hospital. Vanessa Wong, Pastor Meeks and Albert had clearly done something terribly wrong with Them for this to be happening.
It made him sick to his stomach. His dark eyes turned once again towards Etta’s store. He was wrong about her. He had assumed she was apart of the Council and tonight had proven him wrong. He turned to head back up the escalators but then thought better of it.He had raised such a fuss about her not going to the meeting tonight and there he was.

Hypocrite. He thought. A sudden wave of uncertainty hit him in the gut. If he showed up at the store and asked her to come home she would only pull further away from him, wouldn’t she? If he thought of himself as an unreasonable hypocrite, why wouldn’t she?

No, he would call instead. He jogged towards the other end of the mall to the food court and dialed her cell number. There was no one there in the food court, but the large screen tv’s were still on, showing everything that was going on in the chapel. It was a mess but the police were holding their ground. They had even formed a barricade around the three Council members and were escorting them out of harms way.

That was good. Albert being safe was one less thing for him to worry about.
Etta’s voice mail came on so he ended the call and dialed the number and watched everything continue to unfold on the television screen. Etta finally picked up the second time he called her.

“Etta?” He didn’t bother to hide the urgency in his voice. “Are you okay?”

She was silent for a moment before finally answering. “Yes, where are you?”

He closed his eyes and chose his words carefully. He didn’t want to lie to her. “I am watching the meeting on the news. They are recording live. You were right, we needed to hear this. I am sorry I made such an issue about this earlier. You were right”

More silence.

“Etta, are you there.”

“Yes.”

“You should probably head home now. It looks really bad in there,”

“I am in my shop. I will be okay, Jørn. Besides it would probably be a lot more dangerous for me to try to walk to my car alone right now. It sounds like from here that people are leaving the chapel.”

Jørn looked at the screen again. He had to end the call quick or call her from a quieter place. He felt horrible for lying even without having told an actually lie. Pretending was just as bad. “They are,” He said. “If you feel like you are safe, then stay put. I can come and get you in a bit. This has me really nervous. I just don’t want you to get hurt when I could have been there,” He pinched the bridge of his nose. That was the truth. The helpless feeling that he had the day Heidi was selected to ascend rolled up his back and made his skin burn. The urge to protect his wife was making him feel even more out of wits.

His mind was made up. He couldn’t risk it. Finding out that Albert was apart of the council was enough of a shock tonight, he couldn’t bare it to find out that he stood by and let Etta get hurt all while he was trying to save face when all he had to do was go and protect her.
He turned and began to rush back towards the other end of the mall, the sound of the angry mob drawing even closer.

“You wanna turn the t.v down? That’s really loud.”

“Don’t worry about the t.v. I am coming to get you.”

“What?”

He cupped the phone with his hand. “I said I am coming to get you. I will be there in a bit.”

“No, Jørn you stay put! I will be safe in the shop. You stay safe at home. The cops have everything under control, people are heading out now. If you try and come up here you will run the risk of a mob or worse, some anxious cop out to make an example out of anybody who crosses his path tonight. I am safe where I am. Don’t you take the risk!”

“Etta,”

“Just stay home, please.”

He dragged his fingers through his hair and clenched his jaw. He hated feeling hopeless, he also hated feeling himself acquiesce to Etta’s demand.

“See you in the morning. Don’t wait up. Love you.” She hung up the phone.

“But I have to work tomorrow!” He rushed to tell her but only met the silence of the phone. He suddenly regretted taking up the extra shift in the emergency room. He pinched the bridge of his nose and headed towards the side exit of the mall. By the looks of things there was no way he was getting out the front door, and no way he was going to get any sleep either. He would just have to call her again later.

The God Who Cares for Me

The God Who made the firmament, Who made the deepest sea, The God Who put the stars in place is the God Who cares for me.”

-Berg

Life would not be an adventure if it did not involve heartache amid the joy and laughter, disappointment freckled upon the face of victory, struggle against the walls of breakthrough.

We, as humans, have painstakingly created, or rather, tried to create pain free environments that lead others to believe that everything always goes the way we plan, nothing bad every happens, and  the expression of sadness is a sickness if nothing less a mistake.

There is the lie that says there is only beauty in perfection. Unfortunately many have either willing purchased this lie or have subconsciously been carrying its burden.

I am so grateful that Yeshua Jesus has gotten me to  a place where I can celebrate the imperfect, bask in my mistakes and see the beauty that can come from within them, and trust that even when EVERYTHING seems to be going wrong, He is most certainly making them work out RIGHT for me.

WHY?

Because as Berg put it “The God Who put the stars in place is the God Who cares for me.” He doesn’t care for me because I earned it. He doesn’t care for me because I do everything right…I must certainly do not. Even in times when I know better, and give in to the itch of temptation to make the wrong choice, HE STILL LOVES AND CARES FOR ME.

I frown at the images of God sitting in Heaven, waiting for us to make a mistake so that He can punish us. Any earthly Father with that attitude and behavior is seen as cruel.

No, but the God who took the time to paint each wing of the tiniest butterfly or swirl an intricate design on the back of each ant to give it a sense of individuality, sees me in my waywardness and cherishes me still.

After all, if He were the kind to wait for us to stumble in order to punish HE would have never sent Messiah Yeshua to die on the Cross in the first place. If He planned ANYTHING, He planned our redemption, just as He placed the stars, just as He made the deepest sea, all because He loves us.

Rest in that, rest in the perfection of His love, and keep enjoying the adventure!

Cheers!

*There are a lot of great covers to this song but I REALLY think they did a marvelous job I hope you enjoy it half as much as I do ;)

 

 

Writing Exercise: “Say again”

file0001376876131  I don’t know about you, but it really grinds my nerves when I am immersed in a wonderfully written story only to get distracted by the authors usage of a cliches and predictable  metaphors.

These things are like jarring fists to the brain…at least in my opinion. Worst of all, as a writer myself, sometimes I am guilty of doing this; “Stick out like a sore thumb,” “One fell swoop,” “Cry over spilled milk” “Like a bat out of hell.”

I think you get the picture. (Yet another overused cliche  to drive home the point. ) ARRRGGGH! It just keeps happening!”

In this Writing Exercise to do exactly what the picture to the left says; stop, look, listen…and Beware of trains. Yes, trains, the cliches and overused metaphors are TRAINS! They are dangerous when not driven with care. But stop and think about what you are saying. Look at the imagery that you are creating, and listen to what it is that you have finished saying.

EXERCISE: 1. Take the time and choose an image that appeals to you. Ponder it for as long as you would like, and then sit down and create a story about that image. Be sure to add at least three metaphors to this story to describe the scenery or the characters but use them in a way that flows naturally and don’t come across as contrived

2. After you have wrapped up the writing of your story go through the story and rework those metaphors (and cliches if you have used them.) Be creative,  push beyond your limitations. Sure, it may be difficult but it is worth it!

Happy challenges and Happy writing!

Cheers!

Ascension Graveyard: Chapter 9

Chapter 9

~The Journal of Etta Castle Teague
I hate alcohol. All types of it; rubbing alcohol, the kind in medicine, the kind that comes in little aluminum cans…As a result I don’t like people who drink. They are the reason I don’t like alcohol.
After my Dad ascended, or more aptly put, became alien recycled matter,
(I will have to journal more about that later) my mother was never the same. She had been gone from me for nearly a year after that. By then me and Mr. Albert had come to an “agreement.” He taught and I listened. I learned to watch and guard my words.
The truth was he didn’t like children very much and I didn’t care for wild haired, bitter old men whose only care in the world is self preservation and survival, even in a world that brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “big brother.”
I didn’t hate him. It took me until I was an adult to come to understand his ways with me. But I certainly didn’t like him. I liked my mother even less when she was finally sent home from wherever it was that she had been taken after loosing it in the ascension yard.
A woman who once loved and cradled her child, only had eyes and arms for cold, glass, liqueur bottles. Francise Castle didn’t care what she drank just as long as it took the pain away.
She wasn’t violent, but she was “presently absent”…She might as well of had ascended with Daddy.
* * *
The week couldn’t have gone by fast enough. The tension in the air was so thick it was almost suffocating. Etta felt like she was watching a train wreck and was powerless to turn her head. The only thing was, she was not watching in horror, she was looking on wishing that she had popped a bag of butter popcorn before getting so immersed in the show of chaos.
The mall stayed packed. Not because people had a need to shop, even though many did, but because everyone had a need for some religious healing, even those who had not stepped foot in the chapel in years.

Doris had stopped in the shop several times during the last few days just to get away from it all. It was amazing how one minute a person was screaming hallelujah and within the same breath they could curse out the chapel secretary with enough fire and brimstone in their tongue to make the devil himself sweat.
If Etta had any remorse for what was happening, Doris getting chewed up and spit out was one of them. Looking at the woman with her eyes all pink from crying was just too much. It was like watching a person kick a puppy.

Etta invited her to hide out in her office at the shop, which Doris did without second guessing the offer.

Pastor Meeks was livid over the whole thing. He wanted Doris to play some form of defensive end for him. Doris had told her so. That Friday afternoon she sat eating an egg salad sandwich during Etta’s lunch break, telling her all about it.

“Pastor Meeks is just not himself these days.” She wiped the side of her mouth with her napkin before taking a sip of diet coke. Etta thought of Jørn, he wasn’t himself either. Sure, he was shaky and somewhat aloof, but he watched Etta with a strange eye, as if he was waiting for her to grow a second head. Etta usually moved past his antics with relative ease, but this was different.

She put her focus back on Doris. “That is understandable, right?” Etta dug into her noodles. She had purchased some Lo Mein from the China Dine Restaurant in the food court even though she knew full well Doris had fixed her an egg salad sandwich. She had done so the last four days that week as a “thank you” for letting her hide in the office. Etta had eaten the first two graciously but enough was enough. Jørn could eat it for dinner if he didn’t fix anything tonight. Etta hated egg salad.

The liquid in Doris’ cup gurgled beneath the ice as the beverage reached its end. “Honey, he is the under Sheppard of this church. I don’t care what is going on, the pastor should at least hold it together, don’t you think?”

Doris whispered the last bit as if Clive could hear them talking. She shifted in her seat and continued. “I mean I know there has been a lot going on, with,” The corners of her mouth dipped down as if she were going to cry. Etta would not have been surprised. In fact she was well prepared for the waterworks. Doris had not only brought egg salad for lunch everyday, but she also brought her tears.

She shifted again. “Well, with the Lotus.” Her voice had gone so low that Etta could hardly hear her. “What do you think this is all about? God, help us.” Her chin trembled, but instead of balling she stuffed her mouth with the last bit of her egg salad.

Etta raised her brow and handed her a napkin, not bothering to answer. Doris gratefully took the napkin and blew her nose in it.

“I mean we just had an ascension. Mark,” Mark was Doris’ husband. “He is just up in arms. I wish he wouldn’t be like this, not now. He has not gone to work at all this week, and even told me I shouldn’t either. Well with me being selected to ascend and all,” She looked down at the table, her shoulders slouching in defeat. “I think he has lost his faith in God, Etta and that just breaks my heart. It doesn’t help at all that my tires were slashed on Tuesday. That is $400 that Mark and I just didn’t have. It’s almost as if people are blaming me for this, or…” Her voice trialed off.

“Or God.” Baldwin answered.

Etta glanced at him and then back at her noodles daring not to open her mouth. If she did Doris would keep talking and never leave, and even with as bad as Etta felt for Doris, that still didn’t change the fact that Etta had a lot to do. She even planned to have the shop closed by three that afternoon.

She stood up and placed the half eaten carton of Lo Mein in her tote bag along side the extra egg sandwich. Doris followed suit.

“Will you be at service tonight, Etta? Mark said he isn’t coming and I sure would like to sit next to a friendly face.” She managed a smile.

Etta took her hand. Jørn had not been big on conversation that week and seemed so dazed most of the time, but somehow he managed to tell Etta that he wasn’t going to the service or the ascension and he didn’t want her there either.

“I will be there, Doris.”
* * *
Service was to start at seven that evening. It was a quarter til six and true to his few words Jørn had not given any indication that he was going to service. He was telling her so again. But Etta was not listening. She was hypnotized by the news. Mostly she was ignoring him. It was always better when she ignored him when he was on the brink of a binge.

She flinched when the flat screen suddenly went black, the remote control in Jørn’s hand. “Hey!” She scowled.

“Did you hear what I said? I don’t want you to go to service tonight either.” Jørn had now positioned himself between her and the television screen, sitting right on the coffee table. Etta had no choice but to look at him, talk to him. She had not had much to say since he had come home late without calling on Monday and then treating her with awkward suspicion the whole of that week.

Sure she mostly understood why he had behaved the way he did. He had been caught off guard by the Lotus. But Etta just couldn’t give any thought to his breakdowns or his pending date with several six packs of beer. It was much better for the both of them that she kept out of his way. It didn’t hurt at all that he had spent most of the week at the hospital covering long shifts.

There had been a lot of vandalism in and around town. Smashed bottles in the street counted as extreme vandalism in Greenwich Pass. Most of it was the antics of rebellious teens. The sheriff had that all under control within a blink of an eye.

Etta folded her arms around her waist, her toes curling over the edge of the coffee table. “I heard you.”

“And?” His eyes, though already as dark as molasses somehow seemed to grow darker, the look in his eyes intense, not shaken, not unsure.

Was this a challenge? She schooled her expressions and felt her pulse skip. “And I am still going. And,” She raised her hand to keep him from interrupting. “Before you ask, yes I will be at the ascension as well. Now if there is nothing else, I was watching the news.”

Baldwin glared at her from beside Jørn. Etta glared right back. They had already gone several rounds over the last few days about her silent treatment of Jørn. Etta couldn’t understand why Baldwin didn’t realize it was Jørn who wasn’t talking to her. She was only returning the favor.

Jørn stared at her curiously, that searching look in his eyes again. He said with a shrug of his shoulders, “So you are going to the ascension, then?”

“That is what I said.” He shook his head. “You haven’t been in years.”

“Things change. I am going now.” She watched him just as closely as he was watching her. Yes, something was up.

“You say that like you know when it will happen. Do you know? And for that matter, why would you go? I am not ascending. You are not ascending. Neither is Albert. So…” He waited for her to respond.

Priceless. He had not had a real conversation with her all week, only clipped words here and there but otherwise he might as well have been invisible. He was there and yet he wasn’t there, and when he was present he was studying her. But now all of a sudden…

She heard the shortness in her own voice. She couldn’t help herself. She was anxious for the pending showdown with the Towes, and yet irritated. Jørn had done that to her.
She could hardly keep from laughing sarcastically. “No, Albert is not ascending. He was rejected a long time ago.” She emphasized the length of time with a slow sweeping arc of her arm.

“Was Kyle?” He set down the remote and folded his own arms. His voice remained even, smooth, but Etta could hear the tension in his voice.

She shook her head.

“Then?”

“Then what, Jørn?”

“I don’t see why you need to be there.”

Etta rolled her eyes and stood up. “Because I want to be there. Doris was selected for the ascension. I like Doris. Besides that I want to know what is going on around me. If Meeks has something to say that might actually be relevant, I want hear it.”

Jørn also stood and was following her now. “I get that, but I still don’t want you there, Etta. It could be chaotic tonight. I am asking you to honor what I am saying.”
She pulled a glass from the cupboard and turned on the tap. “I do honor what you are saying, but I am still going.” She smiled.

“Etta!”

Etta stared at him. He had actually raised his voice. “What has gotten in to you? What is your deal?” She sat the glass down and planted her fist on her hips. “You have hardly said a single word to me all week, which is typical during these times so I shouldn’t be so surprised. But now you’re raising your voice, talking to me like I am some rebellious teenager. Really?”

“You shouldn’t argue like this, Etta. Not now.” Baldwin finally chimed in. “Don’t get distracted. We can’t afford to make any mistakes right now. Causing a war at home would be a mistake. Besides that, nearly every car in the parking garage has left. One can only assume they are headed to the Mall. Time is of the essence, love.”

Baldwin was right, but something about Jørn raising his voice at her and watching her they way he had been had cinched her perfectly made amour. She wanted to bite back in anger, but instead chose to bit down on her bottom lip in an attempt not to say anything harsh.

She rubbed her face with her hand and let it hover over her mouth just to ensure it was closed and would not speak the fiery words that were on the tip of her tongue.

Jørn sat down into one of the chairs at the kitchen table. He sat in silence for a moment before opening his mouth again, his tone completely tamed. “I apologize for raising my voice. You are right, I shouldn’t have done that. It was out of character, and you don’t deserve that,” He looked up at her. “But you know I don’t do well during these times—”

“Understatement of the century.” She said under her breath. She had not meant for him to hear it, but the quick shot of pain that flashed across his face and then disappeared, let her know he had. She looked away from him. “I’m sorry I said that.”

“I just don’t want you to get hurt. Things are very unpredictable right now, people are,” He let out a sigh of resignation. The conversation was a loss even before it began. “People are changing. This surprise ascension is making everyone crazy. You saw the news.”

“No, you turned it off.”

He stood up from the table and pushed his chair in. He stepped closer to her. “Yes, well you have seen other things I am sure. To that end I would feel a lot better knowing that my wife was at home safe tonight, just incase things get nasty at the Mall.”

Etta had to keep herself from scowling at him. Who was this man? He would feel better knowing she was safe while he would probably be out drinking his head off. That made a lot of sense. And why wouldn’t he binge early? The Lotus had come out early How many times had she been up worried about him during these times? Too many, so many she had grown indifferent. At least she had thought she was.

She managed to say “I’ll be fine” in a neutral tone. “I always am.” She glanced at her watch. “There is an egg salad sandwich in the fridge should you get hungry.”
* * *
Jørn stood at the window and watched Etta pull out of the parking garage and head down the road. Part of him wanted to hop on his bike and follow right after her but the winning side of him told him to stay put. He needed to think.

Why in the world did he raise his voice at her? Her indifference towards his fear for her, her indifference towards him was beyond disconcerting. He had to admit to himself that he had behaved strangely with her during the week. He couldn’t help it and yet he should have.

What if he was wrong about her? What if Etta had nothing to do with the Council and was just drifting away from him? His silence and sudden shift to raising his voice could just be another wave to drive the wedge even deeper between them.

The sound of Maryam’s voice echoed in his memory. “…if you need to talk, get some of that weight off of your chest, I can listen.” Maybe he should talk to her. Maybe if he talked to someone he could figure out how to talk to Etta.

He let the curtain fan back over the window pane, a thought occurring to him. Etta was not only right about the way he had been behaving but she was also right about the meeting tonight.

No, he was not going to make any attempt to go to the ascension, but he could stomach going to Eaton Mall and listening to what Pastor Meeks had to say. After all, he was a man out for answers. It was best he not close his ears when someone was trying to give them.

That’s WRITE! I am Writing because it is my Write…UNO Addiction be dashed!

It’s Monday, from my place in the world, only a little over and hour left in the day before we roll head first into Tuesday.  I love the starts of new weeks because it gives me the chance to have somewhat of a “redo” from the prior week.

So what am I doing this week? You guessed it! I am WRITING! I am also going to make some art too.  13515398292kl2n

I know, I know, some of you are probably thinking, what has been the hold up? Truth is, I was majorly derailed and even with my best efforts I have struggled to get back on track. (I have eluded to this previously.) A family member has had to go under the knife somewhere around 6 times since April. It has meant loads of attention given to them, (and let me add delightedly) as other family members worked together, rearranging matters in our lives to be a help.

Messiah Yeshua  be praised, they are on the fast track to a glorious recovery and testimony! WOOT!

But now by the grace of God, the storm is passing over and there is much less pressure to try and secure time. Part of me feels like this is a problem because with the lack of pressure comes the faulty belief that you have allllll the time in the world.

What has this meant for me? This has meant I have found myself anchored in an enjoyable time suck of UNO!

Yes, that’s right. The game of UNO. I downloaded an app on my tablet and it has been the best and yet WORSE thing I could have done. I now have to fight this insane addiction to watch the clock, wondering if 45min have passed so that I can earn a scratch card and gain more gaming coins! And all the while precious moments have passed while I stategize on how to best utilize my “Draw 4 cards” card and secure the game win.

For some reason, my UNO love affair and my justification of time wasted reminds me of Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield.” Let’s take a musical interlude…

NOW THAT THAT IS OVER WHAT IS THE PLAN?

Glad you asked. I am seriously considering going over some of my first post on this blog and re-blogging them, not only to share with those of you who have not had a chance to take the glance back, but to also remember the importance of what I am doing here for myself as an artist and writer.

The fog of life often obscures our course and we need to shed a bit of light on the path every now and again.

I PLAN TO WRITE:

I want to stay focused but not stifle my other stories.  I have a list of 107 story lines. Obviously I can’t write them all at once but if one has a bit to say, I can put that down in words and save it in a file for later.

DID I MENTION I HAVE FUTURE PLANS FOR TRAVEL?

Well I do. Traveling is what gave birth to this blog in the first place. So I will continue to watch Rick Steve’s videos and refine my travel list for 2015.

And as usual, I will post things as they come, doing my best to honor my blog schedule.

Cheers! and Happy Creating!

The Art of Stillness

I, by nature, am a woman given to hard work. I have an inherent urge and drive to be productive, to seize the moment and bare fruits from my labor. Being still, not producing, often leaves me with an anxious feeling that I have wasted my time, time that I will never get back.

"Rest at Harvest" by William-Adolphe Bouquereau c. 1865

“Rest at Harvest” by William-Adolphe Bouquereau c. 1865

The deception of that ideology is one that plagues many of us, I am sure; being still means you have wasted a moment.

Years ago, I was presented with the converse of that ideology. I learned that there can be great wisdom in resting…simply being still. All too often we confuse stillness with lack of productivity. We in the west have been conditioned to believe that if there is now movement then nothing has been done.

This is actually an enemy of faith. Faith, as the Bible puts it, “Is the substance of things NOT seen, the evidence of things hoped for.” This comes from Hebrews 11:1.  Going a step further with faith, and considering that within a few short hours the Sabbath will begin, I am reminded of the beauty that comes from stillness especially in the face of my unfinished art.

 “Sometimes using your time well or wisely is really just a matter of  being still.”

I have found that when I rest, when I am still and quiet, my art flourishes in a way that it does not when I am “trying to work” it out. In the hush of the still moments, the moments that logic says I should be moving, I find that the rivers of creativity flow, the sound of the stories play as music in my ears, and the colors of the art waiting to be made dance within my imagination with a clarity far more real than the world I live in.

It is in the stillness that I am able to take hold of the bouquet of roses without pricking my hands with the thorns of forced efforts…which ultimately are wasted efforts. Wouldn’t you agree with me, that it is indeed a waste of time to force your art only to find that hours later you end up trashing everything you squeezed out of you? You end up far more stressed afterward when you do this.

Forcing the moment, is akin to squeezing the blood from turnips.

Those years ago, as I sat on my bed, warm buttery sunlight pouring through my window and onto my face, I heard the voice of Yeshua Jesus say, “Sometimes using your time well or wisely is really just a matter of  being still.” And this is the truth. Being still in body and even in the mind allows your creativity to speak without all the commotion.

I had to be reminded of this truth this very week. I had to keep myself from straining to “hear,” but to simply allow myself to hear when the time came.

I want so very much to produce without a break in the moment but these breaks, if treated right, if embraced with the full commitment of rest, produce such wonderful and delicious fruit.

When I look at William-Adolphe Bouquereau’s painting, “Rest at Harvest” I see the truth yet again. The woman reclines with sublime peace at a time when she should be gathering in the grain. Had she done the logical thing, she would have missed out on the joy she so clearly was filled with by simply being still and I would reckon (using my imagination here) that when she finally did go to gather the harvest she was much more efficient.

This is what I want to be. Actually, in creating this post and looking for the perfect image to express my words I was made to really take a deeper look at Bouquereau, and I have to say I have fallen in love.

My prayer is that next week and the weeks to come, I will continue to authentically produce works that are worth posting and worth your time viewing. Do bare with me, as I do not want to rush them only to have to backtrack later.

I humbly thank you all, all of you who have journeyed with me thus far in Following this blog,  those of you who have Liked the postings, and those of you who have participated in the writing prompts and have taken the time to leave feedback and comments. I can’t say thank you enough.

Cheers! and Happy Creating

See you come Sunday!

 

Writing Prompt Results: Person, Place and Thing

Writing Prompt Results: Person, Place and Thing

I decided to utilize my Pinterest page for this Prompt. If you follow this LINK you will be able to see the images that I used for my Persons, Places, and Things.  How I used Pinterest was simple. I gathered 5 images per category, wrote down a description for each on a piece of paper, and then put it in a bowl to choose from.

As I selected my images I could smell my creative coffee brewing. What kind of story would this be, mystery, romance, fantasy? The possibilities are endless!

I begin my journey now and at the end will have my answers…as well as a title, because you can’t name something if you have no clue as to what it is. :)

See you at the end of this story!

**Note if you are not familiar with this prompt, you can follow this LINKto read up on it, and even give it a try for yourself!

 

UNTITLED

“This photograph was taken without permission.” Astrid, held up the image so that Clyde could see it. He gave it a slight nod but continued with his work, tinkering with his latest invention. It was more like a time suck in Astrid’s opinion.

She stared at the photograph again. It wasn’t her best photograph. She actually had not intended upon being photographed at all. She was merely sitting. Her shoe had come undone and she was working to remedy the problem.

Clyde finally pulled the image from her hand. He gave it a once over, adjusting his round glasses before hiding the image away in a drawer. “You should be more careful.” He said, returning his attention to the project before him.

Astrid was confused. “I told you that the picture was taken without permission. You did see how I was posed. Its simply not attractive.”

A gear from popped free from the item Clyde so diligently fiddled with. He caught it before it rolled to the floor. “Yes well, you should have never been anywhere near a photography shop. You know the rules Astrid,” He whipped his hands on a napkin and reached around her. The starch color of his shirt dug into the harness of his square jaw, rubbing the skin into a bright pink. “It was simply by accident, a happy one I might add, that I even saw the thing. Needless to say, I relieved your admirer of it without a second thought. You should steer clear of that man, Astrid. There is something about his eyes.”

“Harold is not harm nor is he my admirer,”

Clyde’s blue eyes seemed to intensify in color from the absurdity of the statement. He could only stare at her a kaleidoscope of emotions washing over his face before the same determined look reemerged.

Astrid stared back, but did not argue the point.  She knew Harold had gone sweet on her or rather seemed to search her out whenever he could. Instead she changed the subject. “At least we were not compromised-”

“At least you were not compromised.” He corrected her. “You can thank me for that, or rather thank Mr. Beezely. He is the one that sent me to the shop right at the moment Harold was dropping his things. That is when I saw the blasted thing. And no, it is not a very good picture of you, but I will say there never will be, not in this time, not while you have your features programmed.”

Astrid touched her face. It was a strange thing, feeling something one way, but seeing it another. Her features did look completely contrary to what the camera had captured. The very woman that Harold pinned over truly did not exist.

Astrid was a brunette but she was far from ivory complected. It did not take a single ray from the sun to make her skin the deep brown it was. Her eyes, however were hazel. That was something that eh programing did not mask, eye color.

Noah Hyde had told her that. He called her on her cellphone some 400 years in the future, or was it the past? Astrid shook her head, the confusion was mounting. It was her past even though she was a woman born and breed in the future, pretending to be a white woman in the past in order to escape a death threat that seemed to be more of a promise.

It was several months ago, on a Monday when she received Noah’s call. He was far less shaken by it than she was. “Astrid, just be easy. Meet me at the Center, the main foyer. We can talk there.”

She could hear the traffic of New York through Noah’s phone. “The Center?!” She asked. Her voice cracked. If she had to go to the center then that meant she had to run…again.

She was shaking like a brittle leaf in the autumn wind by the time she go there. Noah was placid. He stood in the middle of the checkerboard marble floor and opened his arms to her. She fell into them without a second thought. The hairs from his beard brushed against her temple as he spoke, his voice rumbled in her through the solidness of his chest.

“Hey kid, no worries. We are going to get you all fixed up and shipped out of here. They won’t be able to find you this time.”

That is exactly what she was told when she had been hidden in 2011, they wouldn’t be able to find her.  Three years later, they had.

A whirring sound blew through the cold hallway and the light above flickered. Someone else had come through to 2014. Astrid felt her body go tense. Noah pulled her away, squeezing the muscles of her neck before taking her by the hand and guiding her up the stairs. “This time, we are going to have to program your features, make a few changes here and there. “

Astrid stopped on one of the stairs. “I won’t be me any more?” There was fear in her voice and rightfully so.

Noah gave a won smile. “You always be you, underneath. Your eyes, though, they won’t change. Your eyes are your I.D. No one will ever change that.”

She pulled her hand from her white-skinned face and glanced at Clyde. He had been watching her. He glanced at her a moment longer with a look akin to a frown.

Astrid did not understand Clyde. He was always so serious, so on edge and yet he was the one who requested to be her keeper. He had come to this old time town of his own volition. Astrid had not been given the choice.

“I am going to step outside. I need some fresh air.” She shifted her skirts and walked out the back door into the dusty heat of the summer day. She shielding her eyes, she strolled towards the bench that was beneath the large maple tree that grew in what seemed like the only patch of grass in her and Clyde’s backyard.

She dropped her weight down upon it with a sigh, several buttons of her boot coming undone…again. She would have to be careful heading back to the house least she fall.  She hated this era.

A tiny bug fluttered about before settling again next to her. She looked closer at it. It was a praying mantis. She sighed again and began to make her way back to the house, taking the most careful steps. “I should do more of that myself-”

“More of what?” The easy sound of Harold’s voice called from the side yard. Astrid stumbled but kept her footing. Why was he at her house? She glanced towards the backdoor. If Clyde saw him, he would not be pleased.

“Pray.” She said. “I should pray more.”

Harold removed his hat and held it right in front of his abdomen, his right hand tucked inside of it as if for safe keeping. He smiled. “Ms. Wise, you seem to be doing a mighty find job of praying. You are always at church on Sunday. And might I add, you are always looking splendid.” He took a few steps towards her. “May I?” He asked, an eager glint in his eye. Yes, he had grown far too attached to her and she had not even given him a reason to do so. Following her like a lost pup, taking pictures of her when she was not aware. And not this, showing up in her backyard.

She had to flee her timeline because of crazy people. Now she needed to flee Harold. She could have done a better job of it if her boot had not come undone.

Before she could say another word to Harold, she heard the backdoor slam shut. Clyde stood in front of her, his blue eyes cold, the corners of his mouth pulled down in an angry grimace, the silly contraption in his hand, now full connected. It wasn’t a toy! It was a gun!

Astrid heard herself call out Harold’s name before she stumbled back, tripping over her loosened boot and falling in a dusty heap of fear and fabric.

Bright white light and heat ripped from the mouth of Clyde’s gun just as she fell, the fire within it barely missing her. Instead it barreled right into Harold’s chest, knocking him backward with massive force, his hat flying in the air and along with it the gun that he had hidden.

Several lines of electricity traced over his dead body. The plain face of the man who had fallen for her had been stripped away. All of the facial reprogramming removed only to reveal his true likeness. He was one of them, one of the men who had crossed through time to kill her.

Still on the ground she turned towards Clyde. He had lowered his weapon. He tapped the side of his glasses. “I told you there was something about his eyes. They gave him away.”

(END OF 50min) END OF PROMPT

Okay, I really liked doing that! :) I did, however go over time by 3min, and even though I feel like this story is not finished I am going to ease away from it…for now.

SO WHAT WERE MY PERSON, PLACE & THING?

Person:

  1. Old Photo of women with Boot hook.
  2. Black man on the street with beard

Place:

  1. Marble Hallway

Thing:

  1. Praying Mantis

Again, if you would like to see these images, check them out on my Pinterest page under my board titled “Writing Prompt: Person, Place, Thing.”

I hoped you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it. Please feel free to leave feedback and comments. Those are always fun and a lovely way to help me sharpen my craft! AND yes, I know, Untitled as a title is beyond boring but sometimes it works…;)

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting My Steps Back in Order

Today was the dawn of another glorious Monday, and with that comes my musing and plans for the week. Honestly, I have to say my mind has been racing a mile a minute with all the things I have to do (things pertaining to the blog and things that are not related, but equally important.)

Ordered Steps

In the crevices of all the occupied space in my mind are the lines  and phrases of characters of stories that I am currently working on apart from Ascension Graveyard, and those that I have not yet settled down long enough to breathe life into outside of the confines of my imagination.

Needless to say, all of this thinking and all of these task have created quite a struggle for me. I have a TON of pinned up creativity that is desperate to come out! Life has been hectic for over 3 months. Unexpected needs have arisen and with those familiar needs have come sacrifices…time sacrifices.

As a result, what was once a free flowing production line within this blog has, in my view become a mess with things spilling over onto the floor. LET ME CLARIFY. The blog isn’t a mess, MY THOUGHTS ARE! I feel like I have lost control with my balancing act . Which means I need to whip myself back into shape.

To help you grasp what I mean, watch the video below…

Its in times like these that I wish I had a doppelganger…but then it would probably try and knock me off because I am certain I would micromanage. But since I don’t have a doppelganger I will rest assured my life will go on and that I will regain balance, without over stuffing my plate. I simply need to regain my ebb and flow…think of it as riding a bike. No one really forgets how to do so.

SO WHAT IS THE PLAN? The plan is simple, sit down and write, give my 15min to art and freewrites, close out the things that I can without having to pay for it later. Basically, I just need to take a breath and focus. I took the first week of July off and even though the rest was AWESOME and needed, it also allowed for some other distractions…basically I have all these books that I have acquired and I want to read them.  Tragic, I know.

I am confident that by the end of this month everything will be back in its place. If things happen my way, they will be so by the end of this week. Its a bit of wishful thinking so bare with me if you will.

See you all tomorrow with my Writing Prompt results.

Have a creative week.

Cheers!

Writing Prompt: Person, Place and Thing

Writing Prompt: Person, Place & Thing

person place thing

original vector art by Candice Coates

TIME LIMIT: 45 min to 50 min

CHALLENGE: Nouns are such lovely things…or not things ;) In this challenge we will gather random nouns and in 45 minutes create a poem or short story involving them. If you need any help with your choices visit my Pinterest page for some help. Follow the LINK. I have a collection of places to choose from, found on my “places of inspiration” board.  The Challenge sounds obvious but I assure you there is a bit of fun involved.

RULES:

  1. Persons: Choose 5 names. Make up 5 names, male and female for  a total of 5 altogether. Write them down on five pieces of paper and set them in a pile. (or gather 5 images of people off the net that peak your interest, and put their images in a pile. (Make sure the contents of each page is hidden from your view.)
  2. Places: Choose 5 places and write them down on 5 slips of paper and set those in a pile. (Think of the most random places like Mac Donald’s, the grocery store, etc or choose a location from my Pinterest page.)
  3. Choose 5 random things, write them down on separate slips of paper, fold them and place in a pile.
  4. Set your timer, shake up the first pile and start writing your story/poem using the name or image of the randomly drawn person. (Spend 15 minutes building the story before drawing from your “places” pile. (It doesn’t matter if you have started your story poem in one place, now it is time to move it to another.) Also draw again from the persons pile and create a new character to the story/ poem
  5. Repeat step 4 with the things pile but without adding another person unless you feel compelled to do so. Weave this “thing” into the fabric of your poem/story and use the rest of the 45 min bringing your piece to a rounded close.

REMEMBER, if you participate in the challenge, please add a link back to this page and share your results!

I will, as always post my results next Tuesday (Yes, I am aware I am posting this challenge on Wednesday…take an extra day if you need too ;) )

Cheers!