The last few months have forced many of us to become all too familiar with ourselves. We have had time to think and think some more. This can be a good thing for people who have neglected themselves, forgetting how to listen to their own voice. Listening to self is important, but it should never be the only voice we seek.
When our world changes, and we are forced to be outwardly silent, may God be able to break though the madness of our own minds and bring his peace.
When this storm has passed, we will all have leaned much about ourselves. Be it rain, or early morning dew that collects on the threads of self, let it show the things we have forgotten.
May it teach us things we have never known before.
Through it may we persevere together with the people we hold dear. Holding on to love, and the one who loves us the most.
The cord in this image could represent many things. For me and mine, it’s God.
I used to choose a seat closest to the doors, in the single cubbies to either side of the true passenger compartments.
“Why do you sit here all alone? It’s dangerous for a single girl.”
I had never thought of it as dangerous before the question. I enjoyed the nods and light conversation with strangers. Many of them dressed roughly, carrying bikes, or oversized backpacks.
I remember one early morning two backpacking couples joined me in the cramped space. The men sat on the ground closest to the sliding doors. I moved my backpack to make room for the two women, tired and clearly already stressed. They didn’t speak Dutch or French or even German, but their chitchat was earnest and careful.
One man wished me well on my journey in English, nodding at my bag as proof I was a kind of comrade, before departing.
The contrast from those small cubbies to the larger passenger compartments with row after row of benches is striking. Few words are ever spoken. Everyone keeps their heads bowed, their minds busy on themselves, appearing to ignore everyone else on the commute. Even so, with the clatter of the train, the call of the ticket master, and the shuffle of shoes, there is a strange companionship.
I have spent quite a few hours waiting on train platforms. In the early morning, or late in the evening, I have found them to hold a strange peace.
Everyone has somewhere, and nowhere to go. Everyone is expectant, yet bored. Isn’t that just like life can be?
I would finally reach my destination in the shadows of night. Night grows and shrinks things. It hides and reveals. It is a different world than daylight, and many people fear it. But I don’t. I know that is only because I have been kept safe. I am blessed.
Night has always been my refuge. Not a time of hiding, but a time of quiet. A time when others retreat, leaving the streets almost empty. The dirt of the day is pushed to the sides, and lays waiting for the morning to come. It’s hidden in the shadows, but it still whispers to the world all the stories it holds. Every cigarette butt, every discarded coffee cup that missed the trash can. Even the caked on muck, scraped from boots at the end of the day. It will all tell you a story, if you only stop and listen.
She poses, one hand at her waist, one lifted as if to invite a question. One skate blade poised, toe and tip to ice. The other is ready to propel her body into motion. She stands there, frozen, every muscle straining then relaxing, waiting. Then it comes, gentle notes drifting out of her deep and buttoned coat pocket.
Arms move with grace to the music only she can hear. Sturdy legs propel her forward, around in a steady half spin, and stop. She bows to the woods. There is no human in sight to witness this dance on ice. The snow-ladened evergreens shimmer in the bright sunlight, the naked birch is unafraid to bare all its beauty.
More notes come. Arms and legs now work as one to propel her form across the sheet of ice. The air smells of cold crystals, mixed with sun. Her own breath reveals its presence in puffs of white.
“Count Mary Ann.” She speaks to herself in the quiet. “One, and two, then stop. Three, then four, and glide.”
Bare fingers stretch to the sky as one, a gentle turn while holding speed. One leg lifted ready, arms controlled but relaxed. Speed perfect, she punches the ice with power. The tip of her skate kicking up an ice shower. For a split second she is free of the earth, then down to touch the ice again. One rotation, but well done. Balance perfect, arms out and poised. The tones from her pocked lifted with her to spin and again down, slowing. Now they resemble the slow trickle of a stream, gentle and playful.
Wind sends the naked branches into a gentle clatter. Her steps become skips across the ice. Build speed, turn, then building again.
“One more time!” Her heart beating faster, her breath fogging the air behind her, her toque threatening to fall away, but ignored. “One and two and, oh!”
The blade of her skate finds ripples she had carved in to the ice some days ago. The uneven surface jolts her sideways and down she falls. Bare hands stop her face from touching the ice sheet. They are red from cold. The air chilled them as she moved through her dance and now pressed to the ice, it stings. The surface a beautiful shimmer but biting.
A deep sigh pushes itself from her chest out in to the daylight. She closes her eyes. An unexpected fall. Checking her lumps. One, two, three, four. Jared, but all in the right place. “It’s okay, Mary Ann. One more time.”
She pushes herself up, a slide and a momentary wobble are evidence her internal rhythm needs righting. Once firmly on the blades of her skates face to the sun, she checks her pocket. The phone is still in one piece. Time to start the song over again.
Ruby red fingers fumble for a moment as again a guest of wind rattles the branches. There clatter is the only sound until in the distance, a dog barks. The others will come soon, there is a need to hurry.
One more time around before the boys take to the ice, sticks in hand. James has promised to bring her hockey stick out for her. She will soon need to change her white skates for the black pair, waiting by the rough-cut log stools.
Breath in, breath out. Pose, one hand on waist, one hand in questioning greeting, toe out. As the notes once again hum from her pocket, just for her, so starts her dance, only viewed by the trees that line the west side of the rink.
Lavender crushed between finger and thumb. Only one blossom. The scent gentle but true, only for the person holding it. Squeezed tighter and then rubbed together. Another whiff of scent. Calmness, a brief shaking stilled. “Thank you.” She turned back to the house. “Carmen, down off the counter.” “But, Mom!”
A dribble is the modern term used for a story of exactly 50 words. The art of micro-fiction is something I am trying to learn. I don’t always get it right. To bubble the whole of a story into so few words takes something special.
I would love to hear from you if you write short fiction in any form. How do you make your stories a whole, and not just single seen?
To somehow tell the story without telling the story is part of it. Is there more behind it?
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I remember going for walks on the beach. In the sun. In the spray. It was on a beach in the Netherlands where he asked. I said yes.
It was February. His lips were blue. The sand stuck to his bluejeans as proof he had kneeled when he asked.
The wind was blowing, and his nose was dripping from the cold. He was beautiful, just like the beach at six AM.
Sometimes love hurts. If you’re separated, it hurts. If you’re isolated together, the constant rub of a partner’s shoulder can hurt. Transforming for the sake of love hurts. But for us, it’s been worth it.
We all go through the slow transformation of life. I choose to go through it for, and with you.
“I didn’t put you there!” “But I found a drop of water and just couldn’t resist.” The painter scowled while her bit of Blue blushed and mixed with its cousin Brown. “Well now, we look like mud, and it’s all your fault.” If Brown had had arms, it would have folded them over each other, while holding a scowl on its face. Blue just twittered and slipped farther down the page, touching Green and making the artist see spots. “Oh, the possibilities!” It sung as it fingered out over each water drop touched. “Look, I am just a little happy blue. Can you catch me?” The stop was abrupt at the edge of the page. Blue hung onto jagged fibres. “Now blue, get back over here before you fall.” “Fall? Oh, but to fall!” And fall Blue did, right off the paper on to Artists apron. “Serves it right.” Muttered Brown as it dried and combined with the paper’s elements. “How will I ever learn when the colours never get long?” “Don’t worry,” Whispered Paintbrush. “They will all mature with you. Give them, and yourself time.”
I have grown to love my six word stories. Many times I just don’t have a lot of words. But when I make myself thinking 6 small words, and how I could fit just those 6 together, it forces my mind open and relieves the pressure.
One thing you wouldn’t know about me unless we are close friends, is my life for sea creatures. There life dance are things of such beauty.
Not to mention, a lot of them taste fantastic…
When I find even six little words, hard to grab a hold of, I know it’s time to pray. “God, if you gave me this need to write, will you also give me the words?”
I believe God has a great sense of humor. Do you? I mean, come on… What was he thinking when he made broccoli? Not to mention its ghost cousin cauliflower?