Sunday, October 5, 2014

Asleep

This is a little longer of a ramble than I usually write. I try to keep them short and simple. After all, most would think I'm rather simple. *insert smiley face here*. This is a piece of flash fiction I wrote this afternoon. It is more of a writing exercise in first person. I shared this with my Facebook friends earlier today, so I thought I would share it with the rest of the internet. I hope you enjoy.


To Fall Asleep


  The wind that had punished me throughout my walk lessens, the snow now falling softly from the black, night sky. How I miss the stars of summer, their warm light both a blessing and a curse to my eyes. Would I have had a different path on life’s walk, I would certainly have wished to count the stars among them. But it was not to be; such was not my road, a farm boy from the Midwest who dreamed of greater things.
   My tattered coat surrounds me in warmth, shedding the chill that swirls about the street corners, their asphalt surface hidden beneath soft powder. My boots push through it easily, though it clings to me just below my knee. I feel its presence against my skin, a touch, a kiss to let me know it shall invade my world should I hesitate. I pull my cloak tighter as I trod these sullen, winter streets of a place I now call home, a place I have no attachment to. It is only the place I live, the place that shelters me.
   The barren streets are sparsely lit by the occasional lamp that throws its soft luminescence into circles upon the shadowed snow. It is only the hidden rolls, the curbs of this urban environment that take my attentions from my meandering path. Much like the varmint holes of an unplowed field in the days of my youth, they alone conspire to slow my progress, to press me to falter. I shake the powder from my hair, my beard now as white as that of an old man at the end of life’s journey.
My thoughts drift back to this day, this day a year past. It is but a carbon copy of what was; the brisk winds rambling down the city streets as winter’s white laid its blanket again across the cityscape.

   My hands caress her warm cheeks as I brush away the snow from her face. I lift her head as gently as I would a newborn, held within the touch of a mother’s grace, and cuddle her softly upon my lap. I pull back her tangled, pepper-black hair, letting her face glisten in night’s stillness. Her eyes search for meaning as she looks past my face into the dark sky. I shelter her from the cold flakes as I hold her head.
   “Who’s there?” she whispers.
   Her lips tremble as her words slip into the night. Her breath rises in a soft cloud and I feel its warmth upon my cheeks.
   “Is that you, Peter?”
   “It is, my love.”
   “Oh Peter. What has become of me?”
   “It’s okay. I’m here. I’ll always be here. We’ll always be together.”
   “It won’t be that way for long. I won’t be here.” Her eyes focus on my face for a moment, perhaps a last fleeting memory before she looks again to the heavens hidden behind the overcast night.
   “I’ll be here with you always,” I reply.
   “Peter, do you remember that day we went down to the shore? It was such a lovely time.”
   “I can still feel the warmth of the sun on my face. You were so beautiful.”
   “You make me blush, Peter. I was never that pretty. But, but you always made me feel that way.”
   “You were always my first love. You know that.”
   “I wasn’t though. There was another before me.”
   “There was never anyone before you.” I brush the flakes from her dark eyelashes as I peer into her eyes. “Once you find your forever person, there is no one before, no one after.”
   “Peter, do you see the sun? I feel it. It feels so warm.” She rolls her head toward me. I see the strain it takes for her to do so. “I’ve missed the warmth, Peter. I’ve been cold all day.”
   “I’m holding you now, love.” I press my cheek down to hers. Her skin is flush with night’s chill. I will hold her life little longer. “Just feel the warmth of my touch, that touch we have shared for a lifetime.”
   “Do you hear the water, Peter? Can you see it? See how it rushes to our feet? It makes my toes feel numb.” She blinks, her lashes depositing a white dusting on her cheeks. They linger for a moment before her fading warmth turns them to a tear rolling down her cheek.
   “I wish our daughter’s wedding would have been on the beach. I tried, you know.”
   “I know, my love.” I wipe the remnants of the tear from her face. “I remember.”
   “Such a day it was. God had given us that day, Peter. She should have been married at the beach.”
   “You would have gotten wet in the surf.”
   “I wouldn’t have minded.” Her eyes find me once again, an inquisitive look on her face. Her lips relax as a smile embraces her. “Remember how beautiful she was?”
   “I’m cold, Peter.”
   “I know love. You’ll be warm soon.”
   The darkness that surrounds us begins to reflect a new reality, harsh and penetrating. The azure lights create a pattern of chaos in our once silent world. Commotion fills the void that encompasses us.
   “Peter? What’s going on?”
   “Just the lights of the city, my love.”
   I turn as I hear the sounds of footsteps rushing through the powder, shoes scraping against the pavement beneath. A dark figure now looms above me as I cradle her in the soft snow.
   “Is everything all right?” The police officer kneels down beside me as he tilts his cap away from his face. “Is she okay?”
   “Peter? Who’s here?”
   “Just a friend, my love.” I brush my fingers against her cheek as she looks again to the night sky, the falling flakes blue against the flashing strobe.
   “Is there anything I can do?”
   I shake my head, knowing it is only a matter of time.
   “Peter? What is that light?”
   “What light, my love?”
   “It’s beautiful. It’s warm, Peter.” She rolls her eyes to me again, scanning my face. “Are you coming with me, Peter?”
   “Not tonight, my love. But I will join you soon.”
   “I love you Peter.”
   I watch as her face turns to the side and her eyes close for the final time. I am at a loss, a numbing sense of emptiness begins to overtake me as I feel a hand upon my shoulder.
   “I’m sorry for your loss.” His voice is strong, but I know his words ring true. “I’ll call and we’ll get her moved inside.”
   “Thank you.”
   “What’s her name, Peter? I’ll need it for the reports.”
   “I don’t know her name, and my name isn’t Peter.”
   “But ... “
   “I’ve never seen her before tonight.”

   I remember that night a year past so vividly. It was a night like any other winter’s night in a cold city. I push through the snow, the soft powder that covers a harsh world nothing more than the blanket in which we wrap ourselves to fend off the night.



Friday, September 19, 2014

Room for one more

This year begins a new path for someone very special to me. My grandson, Ragin Cage begins his first year of school, kindygarden actually. I was sceptical as to how well he would adjust. He has always been a free spirit, a wanderer. He is one to explore the world around him. It is a trait we share. He doesn't sit still for more than a few minutes unless he falls asleep. When he visits us, even the television doesn't slow him down much.

This would be so different for him, a rigid (sort of), highly structured environment. The one thing that I was sure of however, was that he would make friends. He loves to be around other kids, often those a little older than himself due to his half-brother. He loves to be around him. They play and rough and tumble it all the time. When he sees others kids, he makes a bee-line for them. They are always his new best friends.

But to my surprise, he seems to have fit in well and is becoming used to an organized routine. He has a new best friend from school who has already played and been a guest at his house. It is tough to watch from afar. I know he will do well. He's a smart little boy with a big heart.

Now, he will be exposed to so many new things, so many new adventures with learning and classmates. I just hope there is still room for his Paw-paw.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Waffle House

This morning, I took a side trip to a place I've only been one other time. After a morning errand run, I happened to visit a local Waffle House in a small town outside our capitol city. I sat and ate, had a light conversation with my mother-in-law, and watched.

The early breakfast was a visit to Americana. It was nearly a trip back in time to a fifties or sixties diner. The floor was tiled and slightly slippery, the booths close together, but not too close as the main counter with stools ran down the middle from end to end. The sounds of potatoes frying and spatulas scraping a grill echoed off the wall. America had been awake for a few hours and the visitors were slipping in and out. It was the consummate place to watch America as many of those who make up the middle of the country were in attendance.

There was a Black couple, my guess is a woman with her father. She wore a name badge holder on a lanyard around her neck which makes me think she works a government type of job. She was dressed for work in an office. Her father, possibly retired with the current mode of dress, slightly styled and casual. A police officer slipped in and ordered a meal to go, as did a bus driver from the transit authority. The only thing missing from the uniformed sector was a postal worker.

Two older white couples sat quietly in their booths as the staff of ladies wandered back and forth with coffee pots and plates filled with eggs and potatoes and toast ready to fall off the side. A trucker in a dump truck walked across the lot and in. He was appointed, as one would expect with boots and jeans and a pot-belly that was slung low across his belt. A bald guy with a beard sat across from us, his arms spread across the two stools beside him. A regular it seemed, he traded jokes with the waitress while she tried to school the new girl who was timid, but had an engaging smile. She'll be okay. She just needs a few shifts under her belt.

Along the wall of windows to the front, an older Black man talked with a younger man. I couldn't determine his race simply by the color of his skin. I would guess Latino, but I could be wrong. He wore his black hair pulled back and weaved into a ponytail. I had the feeling they worked together. Again, I could be mistaken. Others came and went with nods and smiles. There was a distinctive din that hovered above the room. It was conversation.

So what does all this mean? Perhaps nothing. Perhaps everything. It was middle America in the morning. An early Autumn day underway, but no one cared that the mix of people was anything more than it was. In that short hour, we lived together, ate together and talked together as one people, because that's who we are.

Monday, September 15, 2014

What's next?

Writing is by its nature, a solo task. Yes, there are many others that contribute to the overall work, such as cover designers, editors, proofreaders and all the others that help to put a book together. When one does not have a publisher, all that falls on the shoulders of the author to put it all together. (It is the wave of the future in the world of writing and publishing).

When you finish one book, somewhere along the line, you need to begin the next one. That can involve a tremendous amount of trepidation on the part of the author. No matter how wonderful he or she thinks they performed with the last project, it is still the last project and a new one must begin quickly. Often, it is about the momentum they are working to achieve. The thought process often is a deep look inside wondering if he/she can match the quality of both the story and the actual prose. Did the last book make me a better writer than I was before I began it? Did I grow as a writer? Will this next work exceed my own expectations for overall writing and give the reader a quality experience?

On my website, robertthomasbooks.com, I have a WIP section. I don't use it as often as I should, but it is there. A 'WIP' is a work in progress. From time to time I put excerpts of what I am currently writing up for readers to get a gauge of what is coming along.

Here is the latest from the next book in the Last Elf Prophecy series. The working title is 'Awakening of Lillestrom'. I hope you enjoy it. And as always, feedback is greatly appreciated.




Friday, September 5, 2014

The view from above

And on the eighth day, God created NASA that we might see his handiwork in all its glory.

With thanks to the website Stumbleupon.




Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My eyes are full

I hate my brother-in-law.

I have recently lost about fifteen pounds. I suppose at my age, that's a good thing. Okay, I have been trying, somewhat. I was doing fairly well last winter up until about February. Then, I swelled like a dried sponge in a Jacuzzi. I wasn't out of control, mind you. With my job, I'm on my feet almost all day. I likely walk forty miles a week. And mind you, it's not a stroll down the aisle.

I decided it was time to lessen the waistband. One of my problems over the years is I eat with my eyes. (It really hurts when I get a fork caught in one though). I'm not a big guy, five-eight, but I can eat a large pizza without any issues. That, is the problem. When I've eaten, I eat to fill up. Then, I go on my way. I'm not a snacker when I'm at work, which is a lot, although I do tend to 'graze' when home. It's something my wife snickers about. Fridge to basket of candy to cupboard with snacks to juice... When's dinner?

Did I mention I hate my brother-in-law?

Anyway. I began to taper off. Quit eating with what my eyes saw. Portion control. As the weather warmed and the pool opened, I was able to start swimming again, although that has fallen off due to work. My ten year old weight machine was uncovered, the clothes and everything else hanging from it were removed and it was taken to the basement. There, it's usable. I began working out again. I was consistent a couple years ago until a foot and other nagging joint injuries got in the way. I decided, I will always have those nagging 'slow-me-downs' as I'm not getting any younger. Along the way, I've dropped fifteen pounds.

My brother-in-law sucks!

My Beloved and I went to dinner the other week with friends, to a family-friendly restaurant with plenty of televisions. Then, the food was put before me. That's the issue we all have in fat America. More and more eat out on a regular basis. The entree should be the biggest part of the meal, but all the sides and salads are just as big as the entree. The potatoes are as big as the steak which is as big as the fries which are as big as the appetizer and the desert as well. And we eat it all. That's why we are all overweight. We eat it all.

Now, my brother-in-law has always outweighed me. He is just a bigger, stockier guy. He has often had twenty to thirty pounds on me, yet he always wore a smaller pant size. We were together with our wives the other night at a festival in the heart of the city. He has lost weight as well, and he still has a smaller pant size than I do even though he still his heavier than I. I lose fifteen and my pant size remains the same. It's just not fair. I've had the same clothing size for over twenty years. Sometimes I just stretch it out more.

Did I mention I hate my brother-in-law?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

OVER REACTION!!!!!!

It is evident by simply watching the news, social media and nearly everything else that pushes stories and incidents toward us, we have become a nation of OVER REACTORS!!!!! REALLY? HOW CAN THAT HAPPEN? OMG!!!!!

So, how did this happen? Well, several ways actually. We are assaulted by news and stories every hour of our day. It comes from the news, internet, social media. Nearly everyone is connected 24/7. With that, comes opinions; knee jerk reactions to all of these stories. Social media itself is the great unfiltered media the world has never seen. Everyone has a say, and too often, those 'says' are without the facts. We react solely on the first evidence we see and hear. Too many puts their thoughts and reactions out for consumption without validation.

Everyone is guilty at some point. Take the incident in Missouri for instance. How many people really know what happened? How many picked sides based on scant evidence or simply word of mouth? A white cop shoots and kills a black teen. The black community shouts outrage. How much evidence has been presented as fact? The shouts of a cover-up are everywhere. Well, police don't release all the evidence to the public in any investigation. But, it's not the black community that is always at fault. How many white citizens sat on their couches and just assumed the black teen was breaking the law and has to face the reality of his choice. Don't break the law; don't get shot by a cop.

As well, the recent 'no tolerance' rules is schools is as much at fault. No tolerance means there is no gray area. That premise in itself is completely flawed. A young man was recently suspended from school because he wrote an assignment for class that included him killing a dinosaur with a gun. The no tolerance rule for guns was thus violated. If that is a sample of the lack of intelligence of our teachers and instructors in schools, no wonder our kids are turning out dumber and dumber. If that story is to be believed, then all the schools are guilty of being hypocritical. They couldn't teach most of the subjects they are mandated. Just consider how teachers and staff can and do act at school sporting events. Often their actions are significantly worse than a student writing a story about a gun. Is it tragic that there is any violent acts committed at a school? Sure, but bullying is a trait of humanity.

Think about this; all history books would have to be removed from the schools because every one of them contains our history; the history of warfare, world-wide. Guess what a war has ... guns. Can't teach that. Can't teach American history, a history of a country rising up and shooting their masters. Can't teach Civil War history, the story of, as most believe, a revolt against slavery. With guns. Can't teach world history; every country is and has been at war. The geography books would likely also have to go for the same reasons. Any course that teaches religion would also have to be removed. Religion? Really? Yep. There is more persecution based on religion that any other factor in world history. Perhaps the math books might be saved. They might be the only ones without references to guns and warfare.

Our world is never just a case of black and white. It is always filled with gray shadows that lurk just beyond what we can grasp.