Gregory

Strong hands trace the grains down the length of lumber.

“She’s beautiful.”
“It’ll do then?”
“Perfectly.”

Muscular hands grasp the beam, pulling it down from the delivery truck.

“Care to help?”

Then comes the cuts, sharp and sure. Sand glued to paper tears into the beam’s edges. First, they rip tiny shards free. Then the stubs left are ground and smoothed away.

“I will make you shine.”

Lifted into place atop two strong pillars. The work of placing the balusters starts. The measuring, the chiselled crevices. Each paper-thin layer shaved away until wooden sculptures slid true into their homes. Glued then fastened with a single piercing nail.

“You may live longer then I do.”

He stains its grains to match the steps he stands on, each brush stroke rhythmic, a perfect dance of a man’s hand. Then he seals the deep cherry-red with varnish to make wood shimmer in the light.

“Indeed, that’ll do.”

He brings his bride home. Her manicured nails slide along the new banisters curves as eyes roved over the entryway, the steps, the home he has made for her.

“It’s perfect!”

One day his bride carries a babe up those steps to bed. Laid against mother’s shoulder, the child revels in the gentle pat of those manicured fingers.

Splatter.

The babe spits up, drenching mother and railing with sour droplets.

“GEORGE!”

The reprimand is startling and the babe wails, but only for a moment. A mother’s shock and disgust replaced in a heartbeat with love.

As that babe lays sleeping, manufactured nails scrubs cherry-red wood clean.

“Gregory, I think I took the finish of the banister.”

Soon baby feet grow and race through the house. His favourite car finds the perfect track down the ripples his father etched in that beam years ago.

“It made it!”

He whoops and hollers, driving the second car down the length of the banister by hand, unaware of the scratches he leaves in his wake.

Cars turn to girls and hushed voices as one night two shadows slink upstairs away from adult eyes.

“Avoid the next step,” he whispers.

As his partner attempts to skip the step in high heals a light switches on. A shriek fuelled by adrenaline and surprise pierces ear drums. A heal snaps from its shoe and a girl grabs at balusters to keep from sliding down the stairs length.

Another snap tells them all that more than a high heal is broken.

“GEORGE!”
“I’ll fix it, Dad!”

The ups and downs, the rides and sounds. The staircase resounds with echoes as life speeds by. A banister once shiny loses its lustre, as age robs its craftsman of the strength and mobility needed to restore it.

The empty nest comes.

Sounds of bustle from the kitchen carry through the hall and up the steps.

“Gregory,” she calls. “Dinner is ready.”

He hears her and rolls his newspaper tightly in one hand. Yes, he still reads it every day.

First, he shuffles to his slippers, then to the steps. The banister cool smoothness greats him with a familiar hello as he rests his hand atop it, ready to start the decent, one slow step at a time. But wait.

“Oh!”

He presses fingers to his left breast. His arm lets out a throb that starts from shoulder and shoots through fingers.

“Margret.”

His call is feeble and frustrated. The deep breath he grasps for sends a second shock down his arm. Then his feet crumble. The cherry-red banister is all that holds him from plummeting down those steps.

“Margret!”

This time the call caries and she comes running.

“Gregory, you’re white as a ghost!”
“Dear, I might be one soon. Phone.”

All he hears is the shuffle of his wife’s sandals. All he sees is the cherry-red steps. But he feels the banister, he never let go of it. Its coolness has warmed under his touch. His grip shakes.

“I guess re-sanding you will have to wait another year, my dear.”

He speaks despite the darkness creeping into his side vision. A blink clears it for a moment, and he notices the broken baluster has slipped beyond its brothers and needs to be knocked back into place.

“I must tell Gorge on his next visit. He never fixed that thing right.”

“Gregory, they are on there way. Gregory!”

He lets go of the banister and now all he feels is his wife’s manicured nails digging into his arm as she tugs his shoulder. Can she pull him back to this reality? The cherry-red staircase holds them both.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Gregory was written for a small writing competition. We didn’t make the cut this time, but that’s okay. Learning and fun happened.

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Six Word Stories (20)

The presence of light has such power. It can illuminate or bind us.

Darkness shreds in the presence of even a single flame.

It sets a mood and tells a story.

It’s an element that shouts volumes, with just a whispered presence.

Light is energy. Without it, growth is impossible.

Nature has a way of reclaiming what man uses and then forgets.

It doesn’t see our castoffs as no longer needed, it knows that it’s all still a part of the matter making up this world.

We can’t separate it out.

As nature reclaims its own pieces from the aftermath of us, it has its own stories to tell us.

Will we take the time to read them?

Stones remember, even when understanding is lost and history is forgotten.

Stones remember.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Photos sourced from unsplash.com

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Our Need for Your Story

Did you know you have a story to tell?

It doesn’t matter how average you think you might be, you have a unique story all your own. No one has lived the same life or felt the same emotions. No one sees the world in quite the same way as YOU.

It doesn’t matter how old or young you are, nor your level of education. There is a story inside of you, and it’s important.

What’s your story?

It could be as simple as that casserole recipe your grandmother taught you how to make, and the things you both talked about while she taught you.

It could be your story is more of a question, something you long to know the answer to, and your quest to find it. Did you find it? Will you find it? Maybe, maybe not. That is a story.

Sure, not everyone may want to know your story. But for every story, there is an audience. Be it ever so small, it’s there.

Telling your story takes courage. It means being vulnerable. Are we brave enough to tell our stories? Not all stories are dark and painful, dramatic, or awe-inspiring. Some are quite ordinary.

Have you ever watched the movie, It’s a Wonderful life? I know many people who make it a tradition to watch this classic in the bright glow of a Christmas tree. It truly is a powerful story. But what makes it so powerful? Simple truth.

An ordinary life has reach and meaning beyond itself. We all touch others in ways we do not realize. We leave holes when we are gone, that we will never know about. There are stories behind our ordinary selves. Beautiful stories, stories worth hearing, reading, and seeing. Stories we can and should learn from.

What’s your story?

Don’t discount it and it’s power.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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The Power of Story

We tell stories in books, with pictures, with theatre, with spoken word, even with dance. Stories are powerful.

Stories change people.

Why do we tell stories?
From cave paintings to comics, humanity has a wide range of how it tells stories. Every single people’s group uses them, treasures them, and has their own. There are several answers to this.

One, we use them to teach.
Two, we use them to remember.
Three, we use them to dream and invent.

When we use stories to teach, it brings lessons to life. It makes them relatable and real. When we use a creative story to teach, it hides lessons in adventure. We can learn without even knowing that’s what we’re doing.
Do we realize the lessons we are learning? Sometimes we don’t. Be aware of what you are taking in to your heart and mind, it might change you in ways you never realized.

When we tell stories about the past. We keep lessons of experience alive. When we work hard to keep those stories accurate, we protect truth. If we don’t want truth muddied, we must tell our stories. We must search for others’ stories, and we must be open to hearing each one, no matter how difficult.

Make believe. These stories are not true, but can still teach truths. Fiction pushes the envelop. It asks, what if? It lets us learn before we have experienced. Through fiction we invent novel ways of being and understanding. What if humans could fly, breathe underwater, or visit the stars? These dreams of the once impossible have spurred many amazing inventions of today. Many of these dreams started as story.

Jesus Christ also used stories. The Christian Church called them parables and describes them as earthly stories with heavenly meaning. They teach moral truths in ways the average Jewish citizen would have understood in that time period. If Christ himself used stories, we shouldn’t shy from doing the same thing.

Whoever you are, you have a story to tell. No matter what your belief system, it’s an important story.

Tell me a piece of your story in the comments.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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