Posts Tagged With: fiction


There are days I hope you have your back to me, so you don’t notice when I forget not to stare.

There are days I hope you notice.

If he didn’t know by now, he would never know, she told herself firmly. He just… didn’t think of her that way. And she was okay with that, she had to be. She would rather live in a world where he was oblivious than a world where they never talked.

She forced herself to ignore the pang that sent through her.

Romance novels made it seem so easy… there was an instant connection, and an equal attraction; love just… happened.

What do you do when it only happens on one side, though?

She was far too sensible to be a tragic heroine; suicide held little appeal, and was a bit too melodramatic, anyway. On the other hand… she wasn’t quite sensible enough to let him go. No matter how much she tried to squelch the desire for something more than friendship, it just… lingered, popping up at horribly inopportune moments.

Some days I’m doing life, and I am just fine, and then you smile, and I turn to mush inside. I didn’t realize what it meant to have your stomach turn inside out before.

Some days you say the most horrible things, and even when they burn through me, I still love you.

He often turned up at her job, which was horribly unkind of him. Hair flying, wild-eyed, he made it difficult to get work done both as an obstruction and a distraction.

She loved him for it.

Some days I haven’t heard from you in ages, and you just turn up and continue a conversation like I should remember what we were talking about all that time ago.

She would be whatever he needed, even when nothing came of it, when she was alone with her cats in her flat and old and grey.

She could bear it, for him.

There are days that I pretend not to know what you’re talking about, you know. So that you can explain it to me. I’m more intelligent than you think.

I just know how much you love explaining.

She could bear anything, for him.

Even giving him up.


Inspired by the relationship between Molly Hooper and Sherlock Holmes, on the BBC show Sherlock.

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A Ghost Story, Part 2


That was a cold winter. We didn’t go out unless we had to; I spent a lot of days at the kitchen table doing school. The old lady preyed on my mind; what was she doing out there in the cold? What if she came in? I never could hear her rocking over the snow and wind, and I never saw her. I was getting stir-crazy, of course; too long cooped up in that house. I thought I would go wild. When the thaw finally came, I was dying to get outside and do something. I finished my school and chores double-quick that day; when my mother finally told me I could go out, I near flew out that door. I was whooping and hollering and generally raising a ruckus, when I saw her.

She was still sitting there, still rocking. And all on a sudden, all the terror of that year froze inside of me, and I hated her. I hated her so much. How dare she make me be afraid in my own home? Who did she think she was?  I swore to myself at that moment that I would get rid of her if it killed me. I didn’t want to do it when my parents were around, though; I was just sane enough to realize that they would think I was crazy if I started trying to kill an invisible old lady.

Come to think of it, that does sound pretty crazy.

Well, my parents had cabin-fever, same as me. Pretty soon, they went to our neighbors for a day. It wasn’t hard to get them to leave me behind. This was my chance. I snuck out onto the porch, and looked. She was still there; still rocking. With a roar like an angry bull, I charged that rocking chair. With my eyes half-shut I grabbed the rocker and dragged it off the porch—with her still in it—it was uncommon light, as if there was no-one sitting there. I was yelling every time I had breath all the way to the hayfield, trying to make myself forget she was right there. When I got to the field, I put it down and sprinted away as if all the demons of hell were after me.

When I got back, she was sitting on the porch again. Still rocking. It was as if I had never moved that rocker.

I roared again, all unreasonable, and hauled the chair off in the other direction. Same result.

I didn’t want to touch the old lady; but I was sure if I could move the rocker far enough away, she wouldn’t come back.

By the end of the day, it had been all over creation, and the old lady was still rocking on the porch.

I gave up. I dragged myself inside, collapsed by the stove, and just shuddered. I couldn’t get rid of her. She was going to send me to the grave, with her incessant rocking, rocking, rocking–

Which had stopped.

I sat up and listened to the silence, unconsciously backing up to the wall. There was a creak from the porch. Then another. Then another–and the old lady’s silhouette appeared, framed in the kitchen door’s window.

I stopped breathing.

The knob turned–slowly–hesitant, as if she had forgotten how to open a door. It opened, though. I couldn’t look; I scooted back the few inches it took to get behind the stove. I heard her walking across the floor, but she stopped before she reached me. Then she spoke.

“Luke, you come out here,” she said, and it was the most natural-sounding thing I had ever heard, as if my own mother were speaking to me. I half-expected Luke to come out from—well, wherever he was.

“Luke, you come on out here right now.” Where was that darned Luke? She obviously wanted him real bad. I kind of had a suspicion rising in me, that maybe, maybe she thought—but that was impossible. Wouldn’t she know who her Luke was? The floor creaked. I peeked out to see what she was doing, and almost smacked my face on her knees. I screamed, and jerked back, banging my head hard against the stove.

“Stop that hollering, Luke.” Was the last thing I heard before blacking out, confirming my suspicions and withering my courage.

Next thing I remember is my parents standing over me. I didn’t have a real good explanation for why exactly I had hit my head on the back of the stove—I knew well enough that “the ghost lady made me do it” was not going to fly. After my mother spent hours fussing over me, they finally sent me to bed, with instructions to let them know if I felt dizzy. I must have hit my head pretty hard, ‘cause I didn’t care. In fact, I was deliriously happy.

I finally had a solution.


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A Ghost Story, Part 1

The man sits on the porch, rocking. He is old; his hair is grizzled, and his face wrinkled. A young boy clambers onto his lap.

“Grandpa, how did you get that scar?”

The man looks at his wrist. Fainter now than it once was, you can still see the shadow of a hand clasped around it.

“A ghost gave it to me.”

“There’s no such thing as ghosts, Grandpa.”

It was…   oh, ’bout round my eleventh birthday when we moved to Tennessee. I remember the day we moved into the new house. It had a nice little wrap-around porch, and when I jumped up the steps they creaked and groaned, as though they had never felt the weight of a boy. I scurried through all the rooms, laughing my fool young head off. A new house was nothing but an adventure. I jumped on every creaky board, tested every rocker–except one. The last one was occupied.

I didn’t know who she was–that woman on the porch. She was just sitting there, rocking, so I went up to her bold as brass and said, “This is my house now. What’re you doing here?” She turned her face towards me, and I shuddered; it was a mighty lonesome face, all full of angry wrinkles. After staring at me for what felt like hours, she finally said, “You can stay for a while, I guess. Don’t you go bothering me, though; I’m waiting for my Luke.”

“Who’s Luke?” I asked, but she just stared through me.

I didn’t like her much. She didn’t bother me none, though, so I let her be. It seemed like she was always there, sitting on the porch, rocking. I couldn’t figure out why she seemed to like our porch so much, but I was young, and old folks were a mystery to me.

My room was right above her spot on the porch. I remember laying there in bed, just listening, and hearing the creak of her rocker all through the night. She never stopped rocking–all night and all day, just rocking, watching the horizon.

She was a sad old lady; never saw her smile, nor laugh, nor even look hopeful. She just–watched. It sort of sucked the joy out of my days, too. I’d go out to kick a ball around, or climb a tree, or what have you, and she’d just sit there, a-rocking. I could feel her eyes, watching me, always watching—and the ball just seemed to deflate, and the tree was too short to get any fun out of climbing it.


I remember the day I figured out that no-one could see her but me. It was harvest-time; the big oak tree outside my window was starting to lose its leaves. Our next door neighbors–we called them ‘next door’ on account of the fact that their house was the closest to ours, just over the hill and not quite to town–had come over with some squash and apples, and the grown-ups were all in the house talking about something or other. Their son, Tom, and I decided to play outside. I remember he had brought his brand-new baseball bat, and we were taking turns pitching and hitting, but I kept getting distracted. The old lady frowned at me a lot that day, see, and I kept looking up at her, just sitting on the porch, rocking and watching. Tom finally gave up on trying to get me to toss the ball back, and said “What’re you watching the porch for, anyways?” Well, I told him ’bout the old lady, and how she never stopped rocking, and I’ll never forget what he said to me. He looked me dead in the eye, all scornful-like, and said, “There ain’t no old lady up there!”

That was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard; not see her? How could he not see her? She was right there—

But then I remembered my parents ignoring her when they were painting the house—and the strange way they smiled when I mentioned her at the table, as if I were a little kid. And it struck me—I was the only one who could see her.

I ran.

I spent the rest of that day hiding in the hayfield; the warmth and light and golden hay seemed like a rejection of that old lady, who only ever sat, and rocked, and watched. When it finally got dark, I knew I had to go back in; my dad would tan my hide for being out so late as it was. I was powerfully afraid of walking past that old lady to get into the house, though. I approached slowly, cautious.

The rocker was empty.

Somehow, that was more terrifying than anything else that could have happened. I fled, blindly, sprinting for that front door. I couldn’t stop, couldn’t look back, she was back there–

And I slammed the door behind me, all out of breath. I ’bout cried tears of joy when my dad laid into me; he was real; he was alive; he was safe.

But when I got up to my room, I heard her. She was still there; still rocking. I slept not a wink that night. Nor the next. Nor the next after that. The incessant rocking–I knew she was out there, waiting. Watching.

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Out of the Ashes

He wondered what burning roses smelled like.

The rhythmic thumping of the washing machine precluded silence in his small apartment. Perversely, he felt satisfaction in that.

He was being melodramatic enough already.

Besides, he couldn’t afford to buy roses just to burn them. It would be completely maudlin, and he had better things to spend his money on than an idiotic act of symbolism.

Not to mention the consequences if his landlord found out.

The letter still sat silently on the table, unread. It was undeniably hers, from the neat, elegant script to the faint smell of roses that wafted off of it.

He wanted to tear it up, crumple the pages, make it not be so that she would come back. Instead, he found himself folding it neatly and slipping it into the box where he had kept all her other letters, from the early ones in crayon childish scrawl to the elegant ones on sophisticated stationery. They had grown up together, and they were going to spend the rest of their lives together.

Until today.

Did you waste a lifetime?

They had such plans… he was going to be a doctor; they were going to Ecuador. They were going to be married. All gone.

He felt rage war with grief inside of him, and squelched them both by retrieving the vacuum and beginning to clean.


The box of letters still sat open. Without the distraction of her, he quietly and quickly finished his medical degree and graduated. He was moderately successful, working in a suburb of a large city. The apartment was bigger now, but not by much. Too much space reminded him of how alone he was.

He still wondered about burning roses, but convinced himself that he was past that.

The box still sat open, though. He never looked at it, never acknowledged it was there, but every time he moved it somehow ended up sitting on a shelf or table.

How long will you wait for someone who will never come?


It was fall when he met the woman. Quiet, reserved, nothing like her. Where she was flame, this woman was water. All unbidden, she flowed through his life, soothing the pain of his first love, quieting the aches. She never demanded he tell her about the box of letters, never looked through them, she was simply there to hold and comfort him.

But still the box sat open.


The day they brought their first child home, he knew it was time. While the houseful of fluttering women was occupied with the child, he took the box and escaped.

He only stopped once.

When he got to the park, he took out the box and extracted the last letter. With trembling hands, he read what she had written to him for the last time. It no longer hurt as much as he had thought it would. With shaky breath, he folded it back up and replaced it in the box. He set it on the grill and carefully set it on fire. At last, he place a dozen roses on top, and watched till the pyre was nothing but a heap of ashes. He returned home to his wife and child, and at last he knew the smell of burning roses.

It was the smell of a new beginning.

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From Tower to Garden

From the Tower–1

There is a man who works in the garden. I can see him from my window. He is obviously good at gardening; the roses have been flourishing this year.

I wonder if he’s happy.

From the Garden–1

There is a girl who sits in the window of the tower. She’s pretty; she looks peaceful. Sometimes she reads a book.

I wonder what her life is like, up there. I wonder what she does. Whatever it is, she looks happy.

I’m glad.

From the Tower–2

He sings to the flowers sometimes. I don’t think he knows I can hear him. I catch bits of the songs–about the rain, about coming home, about life. About women.

I wonder, is he in love? I should like to be in love. He seems very happy.

I wonder if he even knows I exist. It seems wrong, at times, for me to just watch him without his permission, to listen to his songs.

I can’t help but wonder, though: what is life like for him, outside the tower? Is he free? Does he have a family? Does he have his own garden at home?

So many questions. I wish I could ask him.

From the Garden–2

She was watching me. She was definitely watching me.

It’s odd–for some reason, I had thought I was invisible. Maybe I have been singing too loud. I should quiet down.

From the Tower–3

He stopped singing.

The world seems a little bit greyer.

From the Garden–3

She’s stopped sitting in the window. Is she okay? Did something happen?

The roses seem to have lost some of their color. Maybe I should sing to them again.

I hope she’s okay.

From the Tower–4

He started singing again!!!!!!

From the Garden–4

She came back! I am glad. The roses are doing better, too.

This was a good day.

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Just a snippet

I was clearing up some space amongst my files, and found this piece of an attempt at writing an allegory. I remember that I wrote it because I was trying to see what I could do with the idea of a train as grace. It’s definitely not my best writing.

Take it as you will.

And I dreamt that I stood upon a great plain, and there were many people, great and small, and some of them walked in many directions. And I spoke to one of them, asking why they walked, and where they were going. And he said, “This plain is destined for destruction, and great fire shall consume everything. Therefore, some of us attempt to escape.”

And I perceived men who shone like the sun who went through the crowds, and some followed them. Whereupon I went unto one of the men and asked, “How can I be rescued from this great calamity? For I am sore afraid and wish to be saved.”

Whereupon the man said to me, “Come with me, and I shall take you to the train sent by the king to take people from the plain of destruction.”

Immediately I followed him, and as we walked I inquired of him as to the nature of the king.

That’s all I have. I am not sure where I was planning on going with this. I do remember that I got stuck trying to figure out the effects of predestination, and what the story said about certain doctrines that I had not questioned yet. It was obviously inspired by The Pilgrim’s Progress.

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So I’ve been writing a story. I’m sure you are all very shocked. The introduction, I thought, was worth sharing. So here it is:


Adventuring is a messy business.

Adventurers are liable to meet all sorts of nasty ends, from being beheaded, to thrown into pits of fire, to being devoured by snakes, to losing their loved ones.

No-one with any sort of sense goes on adventures, and if they find themselves in one, they remove themselves post-haste, going back to their normal, nondescript, boring lives.

Of course, not everyone has that sort of sense. Every once in a while, there is the sort of person who seems to fall into adventures, and never has the sense to get out. Sometimes, you can spot those types. They have an extra sort of twinkle in their eye, or they notice things most people don’t see, or they carry a stack of books with dragons on the covers, or they wear clothes that just don’t quite seem, well… normal.

If you are smart, you will avoid these people. They, and those who associate with them, are liable to end up all sorts of places, and to meet all sorts of people, that normal, sensible people don’t want to meet.

You should also avoid books like this. They usually lead to becoming one of those people.

In fact, if you have any sense, you will put down this book and go find a nice, nondescript, boring newspaper.

Of course, if you are one of those hare-brained fools who go looking for adventure, that is quite another story.


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It has been said that Sir Isaac Newton once exclaimed, “In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.”

This attribution is debated, but it is a fascinating thought.

In the absence of any other proof… but a thumb is attached to a human being. A person.

I am a writer. I do not study the sciences. I rarely ponder exactly how the mechanics of the world work.

However, I do observe human beings.

Having only observed people, I am led to wonder how in the world one could look at people and not come up with the existence of God. There is no accident or human mechanism that could come up with the insanity that is humanity.

Think about it. Have you ever heard the saying, “Truth is stranger than fiction?”

There are people who climb mountains for fun. They enjoy pushing themselves to the limit and enduring grueling mental and physical challenges, just to be able to say they did it.

There are people who like being veterinarians. Do you know what being a veterinarian entails?

There are people who can create beautiful works of art. Their reflections of nature and humanity reveal secrets that just maybe they didn’t even know they had. They ask questions that pull at our deepest desires.

There are such things as romance, and friendship, and affection, and respect.

There are parents and children.

There are teachers and students.

There are preachers and atheists.

There are men. (I don’t understand them.)

There are women. (I don’t understand us.)

There are redheads and blondes and people with skin the color of dark, bittersweet chocolate, and people with the skin the color of cinnamon, and people with skin the color of homemade vanilla ice cream and people with flat noses and pointy noses and round button noses and eyes as deep as the sky and just as bright.

There are people who understand physics.

There are people who don’t understand physics.

There are people that take advantage of physics that they don’t understand.

There are people who communicate better through speech than through writing.

There are people (like myself) who communicate better through the written word than speech.

There is villainy, there is heroism, there is love, there is hate, there is dignity, there is humour, there is truth and there are secrets all bound up in the human heart.

There are so many fractured facets on humanity, whether obscured by sin or displayed in glory, that I can hardly imagine not seeing God.

We are tragic and comic, grief-stricken and laughing, all at once.

And through us is the glory of God revealed.

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Hope, 1

Drip. Drip. Drip.

As he sat in the cold monotony of his cell, he counted the steady drops from the gray ceiling.

seventeen, eighteen, nineteen…

It was quiet there. It was not the quiet of peace, however. It was the still, slow, sickening quiet of the dead.

Once a day, the guard walked by his cell with measured step, the red trim on his uniform momentarily reflecting off the walls and brightening the hall.

Tread, tread, tread.

And then he was gone.

three hundred fifty three, three hundred fifty four, three hundred fifty five…

He wasn’t sure how long he had been there. It was a while before he started keeping count of the days. At first, he had thought that his stay would be short. A week. A month, at most.

But the days wore on, and he realized that no one left this place. Not alive.

Two thousand… two thousand… oh.

Softly cursing, he started over.


On the two hundred and fifteenth day, according to his tally, he was roused from his mechanical counting by footsteps. Three. Three sets of steps.

Interest piqued, he watched through the bars of his cell as a woman dressed in the drab grey of the prisoner was unceremoniously placed in the cell across from him. Door locked, the two guards trod back to whatever hole they resided in when they were not making rounds. She glanced about, as if taking the measure of the room, then knelt.

And began praying.

Ah. One of those.

And he returned to his counting.

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It was only a dream…

Or was it?

The author set down her pen. The last page turned. The credits rolled. And they all woke up.

Was it a dream?

Lives ended. Friends betrayed. Wars fought. But none of it ever happened.

Was it all a dream?

Adventure, mayhem, hope, despair, betrayal, triumph, and content.

All a dream.

Was it?

Was it all just in your head?

The friendships?

The laughter?

The grief?

Would you send them to death?


But you sent them to something worse.


If it was a dream, you don’t have to learn.

If they weren’t ever real, you don’t have to grieve.

If you choose not to believe, then you don’t have to love.

They say, ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.’

Is it? Is it really?

Then He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream.

–Numbers 12:6

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