There is a theory espoused by some that there is actually a parallel/alternate experience of life that is running concurrently with the one we are aware of, and that if we could become aware of it as well, it would give us the experiences to which our alternate choices had opened the door. Of course, I realize, according to the Word of God, that concept is not a reality, but I am still aware that had I made just one or two choices differently – even the choice of what street to walk down, or what restaurant to visit, or what time of day I went to the library – a hundred things in my life might be completely different.
The reality of this truth came home to me quite unexpectedly, and quite dramatically, one day a few years ago, while standing in a fast food restaurant. I’ve been fleetingly aware of other such experiences during my life, but this particular time, I was so touched by it, and my life so affected by it, that I immediately wrote it down and saved it, so that it would remain a part of who I am from that moment on. I shared it on this site at the time it happened, but it seems appropriate to give it a fresh airing in light of today’s prompt.
WHERE DID I MISS YOU?
I didn’t notice him as I entered the fast-food restaurant. His table was to my right as I entered the door. And he wasn’t in my line of vision as I stood in line at the counter, so I don’t know if he had noticed me as I came in or not. But as I carried my sack over to the end of the shelf where the napkins were located, I glanced up and met his eyes. It was for only the briefest second, because it was one of those situations where you know you’ve made contact, but you don’t know why and aren’t sure how to react. So you swiftly shift your eyes to the side, pretending to look at other things — as if you had just been letting your eyes sweep the area in general.
Why we do that, I don’t know. Maybe it’s a reaction only in those of us who have a measurable lack of self-confidence. Whatever the reason, though, I knew I had reacted that way when I really hadn’t wanted to do so.
But I felt the pull of his personality so strongly that I almost felt as if I’d insulted him by not smiling at him when our eyes had touched so fleetingly. Thinking it may have been just my imagination, I glanced his way again and found him looking at me again as well. But, again, I broke contact within mere seconds. And, once again, I was sorry. I now felt the pull of him so strongly that I knew I had to do something to connect with him, if only for one smile.
It was easier than I had expected, because at the table closest to his sat an old friend of mine. I usually tried to speak briefly to her whenever I saw her anywhere, so I decided I’d walk over to her table now, necessarily passing by his.
As I stepped past his table, my eyes still wouldn’t connect with his. So I just looked right at my friend and spoke. “How are you doing, Betty?”
“I’m doing fine. How are you?”
“I’m fine too. I’ll be even better after I eat this,” I added whimsically, holding up my sack. I glanced his way, and he was looking at me. He smiled. I smiled. He could hear every word I said clearly. I looked back to Betty, still holding my sack out in front of me. Then facing Betty, but letting my eyes drift in his direction, I focused on his left hand. He did have on a gold ring, but whether it was actually a wedding band or not I couldn’t tell. It was best if I didn’t know for sure anyway, but … disappointment pierced through me. It was a brief, stabbing feeling, and then sort of a dull resignation took its place.
But somehow, I just couldn’t quite let go of him yet. I held up my sack again – in Betty’s direction: “I don’t really need this … but … then again, I guess I do need it” was my next inane addition to the conversation. I glanced at him again, as if to include him in this “high-level” discussion. He understood. So I took advantage of that moment to look at him more closely.
There was nothing extraordinarily attractive about him. I mean he wasn’t the kind of man you’d naturally notice because he was gorgeous or was dressed in the height of fashion. His African-American complexion wasn’t ebony, but it was darker than brown. He had on a kind of knit cap that covered most of his short-cropped hair. His beard was mostly gray and extremely neat, but even though the beard was gray, the face was young. He was obviously overweight. Not fat, but certainly not sporting the kind of physique that normally caught a woman’s attention.
But it was his eyes and his smile. Or maybe it was his smile and his eyes. It doesn’t matter which, because his smile was so warm and genuine that it filled his eyes as well as his mouth. And it was that smile that made him really attractive — not the physical smile — the part of it that came from his soul. It was his soul that was in his eyes, and there was an invitation there: “I could sit and talk to you and understand you,” it said. “And you would understand me. We’d be friends.”
By that time (barely seconds) Betty was responding to my convoluted statement about the need for food, and she answered, “Yeah … you have to eat to live.” Brilliant answer!
“Right,” I said, looking back at my new friend. His smile was even sweeter — and even more inviting. He knew I wouldn’t — and couldn’t — sit down and talk to him. Why not? Because we had no connector. We had no tiny moment from our past that could have provided even the thinnest thread of oneness. We had just this one minuscule moment — taken out of time — to recognize, to dream, to wish. But he let me know that he had enjoyed talking to me vicariously and hoped that I had felt the same.
I smiled at him as generously as I knew how, hoping my message was in my own eyes: “I wish things were different. I wish I could sit down at your table and get to know you. Yes, we’d be friends; I’m sure of it. … Have a good day. Have a good life. … Bye.”
I walked out the door — sadder than when I’d walked in — poorer because of knowing there was a rich friendship out there that I would never own. Where in my life did I choose a path that put me in the position of never meeting him until today? Where did I miss finding him at a time when I could have known him, owned him as a friend, and had my life woven in with his? I wish I knew. No … I wish I’d known then … and I would have chosen differently.
The Daily Post Prompt today is the word inchoate. It’s a word I never use. In fact, I consider it a rather worthless word. But when I saw it, I was consumed with a sudden desire to see just how many useful words I could make from it. So here goes. If you readers find some I’ve missed, feel free to post them in the ‘Comments’ window below.
in, inch, it, hi, hie, ate, at, an, ha, hot, hat, hate, hen, oh, ah, heat, hint, hon, con, coat, cot, cat, can, chin, ten, tan, ton, tone, teach, the, than, then, thin, nich, oat, hone, cone, cane, note, not, net, neat, chant, can’t, echo, ice, nice, taco, nacho, cinco.
(That makes 50 regular words.)
And then there are proper names:
Enoch, Nate, Nat, Theo, Thane, Cane, Chet
Bane of winter.
Each time I take off coat
Or hat. Or slide across car seat.
She had a winsome smile and quite a winsome way.
Her voice so musical refreshed the air.
Her winsome little dimple and her twinkling eyes of blue
Caught all the young and callow fellows unaware.
She’d capture their attention neatly, one by one.
And beckon each to step within her door
And sample tastes of tea and pastries rich and sweet —
Then promised good behavior would earn something more.
So each one stepped inside, expecting much delight,
And ate his fill at ample table spread.
And while each gazed and swooned over her winsome ways,
Her poison worked its magic until each was dead.
Calling? Did you say create a post about “Calling”??? Well, that is absolutely perfect timing, because it just so happens that my Christmas website: Merry Christmas World!, is located at a domain address with the words “christmas is calling” as the main part of the address.
So —— my post today is to provide a link to that Christmas website and hope that all my readers enjoy their visit to MERRY CHRISTMAS WORLD!
“Nicholas, is something troubling you this evening?” asked Lydia Claus, pausing in her embroidery work.
“Hmmmm?” Nick made the sound without shifting his gaze from the flames in the fireplace.
“I asked what’s wrong, Dear. You haven’t been your jolly self for almost two days.”
Nick sighed, finally looking across at his wife in her chair. “It’s Leonard, Mama.”
“Leonard? Leonard, the elder deer?”
“Yes.” Nick sighed again, but didn’t continue. He seemed lost in his own thoughts again.
“Nick,” Lydia said, putting down her embroidery and sitting up straighter in her chair. “Is Leonard sick?”
“Hmm? Oh … oh, no, he’s not sick … not exactly.”
“Well, what on earth does that mean?”
Nick reached to a little table beside his chair and picked up his pipe. He lit it, and the sweet-scented smoke curled off into the air. “Leonard isn’t sick, Mama. He’s just old … very old. And I’m afraid he can’t do any real work around here any longer. He just sort of stands around watching the younger deer – or worse – sometimes he just lies in his stall and doesn’t even get out for exercise. He feels useless I think.”
“But his son Rudolph is still your lead reindeer, and I know that’s always made Leonard so proud. He’s the one who trained Rudolph to fly and to maneuver so beautifully. In fact, he trained almost all of your teams, didn’t he?”
“Oh, yes. He’s been more valuable to me than almost any other deer in our herd, but he doesn’t feel up to training the younger deer any longer. I’ve had to turn that job over to his younger cousin Archibald.”
“Oh, dear. I wish there were something I could do.”
“Me too,” Nick said, rising and heading toward the kitchen. “But perhaps I’ll think of something soon.”
(Next day. In the stable.)
“Leonard,” said Gladys Reindeer, “I wish you wouldn’t feel so sad. After all, look at all the teams of reindeer you’ve trained for Santa over the years. You should feel proud and just enjoy your time of rest.”
“Rest! Bah! I have to sit by and watch that whippersnapper Archy take my place as Santa’s right-hand. It’s degrading … humiliating … and worse … it’s terribly depressing.”
“But you can still give the elves rides and help with hauling the smaller toys from the toyshop to the warehouse for storage. It’s not as if you don’t do anything.”
“It’s not the same, Gladys. There are scores of other reindeer on the place who can do all that. And they do. In fact, they can do it all faster, and most days they’re already on the job before I can get my old bones and muscles moving. I just wish there were something I could do again that was special.”
“Well, my dear” – Gladys nuzzled his nose – “you will always be very special to me – and to Rudolph. And just think of our son. He’s become so famous, and he’s so good at what he does … and he gives you all the credit – rightly so, I might add.”
“Oh, he’s a source of pride, all right. It’s gratifying to see how well he’s done. But it doesn’t change my feeling of uselessness now.” Leonard plodded out of the stable, his head hanging low.
“Where are you going, dear?”
He sighed. “I don’t know. I think I’ll go for a walk in the forest. I do always feel a little better when I listen to the Redbirds sing for a while.”
Leonard walked slowly through the forest, stopping now and then to rest and listen to the sounds of all the other creatures he’d come to know and love. He hadn’t heard any Redbirds in song today, but as he moved farther into the woods, he heard a cacophony of bird voices that troubled him.
He followed the sounds to a huge Spruce tree where one of his favorite Redbird friends had her home. But something strange was happening today. Several men in hard hats were surrounding the tree, examining it. Off to the side sat a huge truck with a long flatbed on the back. Suddenly, one of the men pulled a lever on the machine he held in his hands, and the machine started groaning loudly enough to hear it on the other side of the forest.
At that moment, Leonard’s Redbird friend swooped down toward the man, screeching and acting as though she would attack him. A couple of her friends did the same. One of the other men picked up a large stick and started swinging at the birds.
Leonard couldn’t believe his eyes. He hurried over to the scene and called out to his friend. “What’s wrong?” He asked. “Can I help?”
“Oh, Leonard,” the Redbird cried, flying over to him, “I don’t know what to do! These men are going to cut down my tree and use it for the Christmas tree in the center of town. But my nest is there, and my little babies are just about to hatch. I can’t let them cut down my home and kill my babies. But I can’t get them moved to a safe place without building another nest, and that will take too long. What can I do? What can I do?’
The chainsaw had stopped momentarily, while the men talked together, but now it started up again. Leonard thought quickly. “I know!” he said. “I will come and lift your nest onto my antlers and carry it away safely.”
“That’s very kind of you, and it would get my babies out of the tree, but where can I put them? It will take me at least three days to build a new nest anywhere – and that’s if I can find the materials. Wild animals will find my babies and eat them before I can get it done.”
“No they won’t. I will keep the nest in my antlers until you build another nest. You can sit on your eggs in your nest, and when your babies are hatched, you can feed them and take care of them just the way you always do. I have nothing else I have to do these days, and I will enjoy being useful.
“Oh my, what a great friend you are. How can I ever thank you?”
“There’s no need. In fact, I’m the one who’s grateful. I was feeling rather useless lately, and it’s a wonderful thing to know that I am not useless after all. I can be a help to my friends. And, in fact, when you have your new nest built and have moved into it, I think I’ll go walking through the forest every day looking for other friends to help. There must be many things I can do for them if I just set my mind to it.” He grinned at Redbird. “You’ve helped me see that I have a future with unlimited possibilities.”
The chainsaw had stopped again, and the men were measuring something. “Come on,” said Leonard, “let’s hurry and go around to the other side where your nest is. I’ll burrow my way between the branches and lift off the nest, and you can make sure it’s settled safely. Then we’ll go back to Santa’s stable, and you and your babies can enjoy Christmas with Gladys and me. She will be so pleased to have guests for Christmas Day.”
If you enjoyed this story, think about checking out my Christmas anthology: Stocking Full Of Stories. It includes this story as well as 10 other stories for the season. It’s available from Amazon in digital or paperback.
I wrote this one a few years ago, but it’s just so darn cute that I can’t resist another go ’round for it. Besides that, it fits today’s ‘Daily Post Prompt: Mercy.‘
WHAT’S FOR DINNER?
I spot him there, behind the barn,
A full-plumed, regal bird.
He looks up, straight into my eyes.
I speak no single word.
It’s happened thus, in passing years —
At least for two or three:
Each mid-November I’ve set my mind;
He’s been there to greet me.
Now, lifting his head in challenge strong,
He gobbles loud and long.
I lower my gun and heave a sigh:
To kill him would be wrong!
So, wrestling with my double mind,
I trek home to my wife
To explain why, once again this year,
Ham will greet the carving knife.
My photographer friend, Terry Valley (Visions Seen Photography) loves photographing the little details in nature, and he has some great shots of mushrooms. I’ve shared a couple of them here. And I’ve also shared some graphic art Terry did, using the mushroom theme. Naturally, writer that I am, I had to create a story to go along with that artwork. I actually wrote the story about 4 years ago, but I decided it deserved another airing for this prompt.
Terry’s Graphics and My Story: WHAT IF . . . ?
“What’s the latest report,” Oneida asked Tron.
“The planet Verdure is still in a state of internal combustion,” he replied, his face pinched. He looked at the camera relay screen. “Watching that planet disintegrate right before my eyes and knowing I can’t stop it is tearing my guts out.”
“How long do we have?”
“I’ll know more when Beryl and Oma return. They’re out measuring the light levels in the power garden.”
“That red gas is our main enemy?”
“Yes, as our energy pods absorb it the light energy that holds this planet together is drained off.”
He panned the camera across the power garden of mushroom-shaped growths from which the planet drew all of its life – and its name. “See, how many of the healthy purple pods have absorbed the gas until they have turned red and shrunk to half their original size?”
He panned to the pod where Oma and Beryl were still at work. Oneida spoke. “Look, Oma’s starting to descend. Maybe they’ll be back with their report soon.”
“Yes, but I’m not sure I want to hear it. Sometimes, I think we should turn off all the surveillance equipment so we can’t see it all happening one step at a time. Perhaps we should all just gather in the communal hall and do our best to comfort each other until it comes.”
“Until the end comes, do you mean?”
“Of course! What else?”
She looked at him gravely. “I’ve been thinking ….”
“Well … I’ve been wondering … Did we just happen?” Tron looked at her quizzically. “I mean … well … I find it hard to believe this whole planet of Mushroom just happened – and that all of us who live here were non-existent one second and then – bang – here we were!” She looked at him hopefully.
“I don’t think I’m following you. What does it have to do with Verdure’s decomposition and the subsequent destruction of everything within its electro-magnetic sphere – including us?”
“Don’t you see? If we didn’t just … happen … then someone or something more intelligent, more creative, more powerful than ourselves had to have created us. And if that someone cared enough to make us, then wouldn’t it – or he – care enough to save us?
Tron’s eyes grew large. Oneida could see that it was a concept he’d never imagined. But now … with no other possible avenue of hope … perhaps even he thought it was worth considering.
She continued. “I guess I’m wondering if we were to look back in all the records of Mushroom – especially the copies of those old black books the leaders buried underground last century ….”
“You mean you think there might be answers to our origins in those books? But the leaders insisted that they were lies and made it illegal for any citizen of Mushroom to read them.”
“But what if we could find out … and find a way to connect with our … creator –”
“Is it? Our survival is impossible as we are now. But, just think, Tron … what if …?”
The jangling of the bells gradually seeped into Garret’s unconsciousness and began to nudge him into a little clarity. He listened for several moments before trying to open his eyes. When he finally lifted the heavy lids, the light seemed blinding and pain shot through is head at the entrance of that light. He immediately shut his eyelids again and groaned.
Unfortunately, the groan itself caused more pain in his head. He was lying flat on hard ground, and he tried to lift his right arm to touch his head and see if he could determine what was wrong. He did manage to get his arm up, but it felt so heavy, he didn’t bother to take it all the way to his head.
The jangling sound was coming closer, and he wondered why the sound itself didn’t cause him more pain. Maybe because it was very low-toned and rhythmic. It reminded him of something, but he couldn’t think what. In fact, he felt as if he couldn’t think much of anything. That scared him, but before he could delve into that problem, a gentle voice spoke to him, and a soft hand touched his shoulder.
“Mister, are you alive?” The voice sounded young, but masculine. He opened his eyes again and, in spite of the pain, managed to roll his eyes to the side enough to see a young boy — perhaps twelve or thirteen — kneeling beside him on the ground. He spoke again. “Oh, you are alive. Thank goodness. Can you move?”
Garret put all his strength into slowly moving his head toward the boy and forcing out the words. “A little.”
The boy heaved a sigh of relief. “You’re not far from my house. I’m on my way home with our cows now, and I will tell my father. He will come for you and help you.”
Garrett gave a small nod of his head, but stopped immediately. Too much pain. So he croaked out his thanks and closed his eyelids again. The young boy patted him on the shoulder and rose, calling to his cows. As he did so, the jangling sound, which had been intermittent during the conversation with the boy, now began its rhythmic music again as the herd evidently obeyed the boy’s command.
During the wait for the boy’s father, Garrett slipped in and out of consciousness, but his periods of lucidity were longer now and more clear. The pain had dulled a little, and when he heard an engine approaching, he took heart and even lifted his head slightly to look that direction. Pain seared him, but he took courage when he saw the old truck.
The farmer had his young boy with him, as well as another grown man. They stooped down and the second man spoke. “I was a medic in the army, sir, and I’m going to try to check you before we try to get you up.”
“Thanks,” Garrett managed to whisper. The young man began to feel Garrett’s arms and legs and press on his abdomen, checking for broken bones or internal injuries. As he worked he reported that he was fairly sure Garrett had a concussion, and that one leg was broken and a shoulder dislocated. But with the help of some splinting materials he had brought along, he felt it was safe to get Garret up and into the truck. They had already phoned the doctor before leaving the house, and he’d promised to come out to the farm when he was finished with hospital rounds.
During the transfer to the truck, Garrett lost consciousness again, but when he was finally lying flat and had a cold cloth on his head, he came to. “Can you tell us your name, Son,” the farmer asked, as he sat beside Garrett in the truck bed for the trip.
Garrett opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He couldn’t find a name — no name at all. He couldn’t find any identity in his conscious mind. He turned fear-filled eyes to the farmer. “No sir,” Garrett said. “I don’t know my name … I don’t know who I am ….”
Well, naturally, I can’t pass up an opportunity like this. Today’s Daily Post Prompt is the word “sail.” And it just so happens that the main character in my mystery novella Innocent Until Proven Guilty — Homicide Detective Simon Stone — loves to sail. And even though he suspects Deanna Forbes of murder, he can’t deny his deep attraction to her, so he invites her to go sailing with him on his boat, the Blue Swan.
As their relationship grows, Simon finds himself torn. One part of him wants to love and trust this woman who is the first to ever capture his heart. But another part of him fears that somewhere deep inside Deanna beats the heart of a possible killer. Can he solve the crime before he falls too deeply into the ocean of love? That’s the question that keeps readers turning the page.
Innocent Until Proven Guilty is Book 1 in the Simon Stone Detective Series: On target, quick-read novellas for the busy reader who still wants to enjoy stories of mystery and romance. Available on Amazon in Paperback right now, but coming in digital this week!
I am Polish and Bulgarian,
Scotch, and Cherokee.
It took a lot of different folks
To make me into me.
But I don’t waste time digging
Back into my family
To find my roots and focus
On separate ethnicity.
I’m just so very grateful
I was born where I could be
A citizen of U. S A.
American — that’s me!
Comes from sun glow:
Burning orb of daylight
Shines covertly on reflector
Come from sunbeams
Stretching, reaching to touch
Reflecting face of ev’ning moon:
A bit of Pink Cinquain to brighten your day:
When skies are gray,
When troubles weigh you down;
Make a decision to rejoice:
Visit Daily Post to submit your “pink” post.
The scent of you —
When first I wake to greet the day —
The warm, intoxicating pleasure of your fragrance touch:
It triggers tiny conflagrations deep inside of me
That spark a thousand more responses and then rush
To touch my mind. And then my senses come alive —
Each one: to taste, to hear, to touch, to see, to smell.
It is your smell that lingers, captivating all of me —
Throughout the day, constantly reminding me —
The sweet scent of the only one I’ll ever love so well.
♥ ♥ ♥