Tag Archives: writings

The Alice Effect ~ Excerpts

….She popped the safety lid off and placed two pills in her hand. She tossed them in her mouth, swallowed a drink of water and shook two more out of the bottle. There was no hesitation this time; she took these with another drink and followed with two more pills. She continued this until she was sick and her legs felt weak. Then she stood and glared at the woman in the mirror. That bitch always argued with her. Well, not anymore. There would be no more arguments. There was a distant knocking and Ally watched as the woman in the mirror turned towards the bathroom door, and back to her. There was a pleading look in her eyes. As if the woman was asking Ally to save her. Suddenly, the woman in the mirror collapsed.

 

Ally stood and watched as a dark haired woman crumpled to the ground in front of her. With her mind inexplicably clear, she recognized the body as her own. Tom rushed in from the mirror’s right. She watched as he looked at the bottle on the counter and then at the form of his unconscious wife. She didn’t move or call out as the scene played out before her. It was like watching the climax of a movie. Only in this theater she was the star. She watched as Tom knelt down beside the Other…

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… She had taken sleeping pills; she knew that, but how many? Enough, she thought. She should have died. Now, it looked as if she had simply falling asleep and this was only a dream. She opened kitchen cabinets and closet doors; looking for any proof this house wasn’t hers. Nothing had changed but still, something wasn’t right. Suddenly, she was pushed forward again and she was falling. Her eyes opened to florescent lights speeding by. A voice to her right shouted, “I’ve got something!” followed by, “No wait, I’m losing her….”and the world faded again…

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… she ran to the door and threw it open. Instead of the front porch, there was an endless black ocean as far as she could see. The neighbor’s house sat in the distance, a hazy outline in a fog. She looked out over the water and realized this sea was dead. There were no waves, no life, not even the rank smell of algae and fungi that typically grow on a stagnant pool. And this dead sea kept her isolated from the rest of the world. For the first time since coming through the mirror, loneliness wiped the fear away. For the first time since watching her body collapse, she realized she had just condemned herself to a Hell more terrifying than the brimstone and fire she had been raised on. There was silence in the air. “Not even the breath of God can reach me here.”

Oh, don’t be so dramatic.” Surprised  she looked to her right and saw the woman standing in the kitchen, wiping down her counters… “Well, are you going to stand there all day? Come, sit.”

Ally found herself sitting across the table from this strange woman of about 30. The woman stared back at her. “You don’t know who I am, do you?” The woman asked. “Well, I’m not surprised. You weren’t even a spark in your Daddy’s eye when I passed. But, don’t think that means I haven’t been around. Couldn’t miss the birth of my oldest’s first child, could I?”

Ally stared as this story sank in. Could this woman be her Grandmother?

“Well, of course I am!” It was as if she had read Ally’s mind. “You know, I was expecting to see you on this side at a young age, but not this young, and certainly not here. I saw you, you know. Don’t think I don’t recognize what you were doing.”

“I was killing myself.” It was the first time she had spoken the words aloud.

“No, not that,” Grandmother waved a dismissive hand. “I meant with the wine.”

“Oh.” Was all Ally could manage.

“And the tequila, and the vodka you would add to your juice when you thought he wasn’t looking.”

“Oh,” she said again, quieter. She was suddenly ashamed. She had just learned that every shot she had stolen in secret had been see by someone. Her Grandmother continued.

“Do you remember any of those stories you heard? The ones your Daddy told you about growing up?”

Composing herself, Ally answered,”a little. I know…” she stopped short.

“You know I wasn’t always the model woman?” there was a smile on the woman’s lips. “No, that’s true. Why do you think I recognized it in you?”

Ouch, that stung. “Is that why you’re here? In this, what is this, Hell?”

Her Grandmother patted Ally’s hand. “No, I was never here. I did spend some time in the Shadowlands. But, just like on Earth, family came. They found me and they lifted me up out of the shadows. Hell isn’t what you think it is, you know. Think of it this way,there are many levels. At the highest level, there is God. God shines like a sun, warming you and bathing your level in light. The father away you are from that light, the darker and colder it is.”

Ally took this in. It wasn’t like any of the stories she had heard in church. That’s when it struck her, “it’s twilight here. Like just after sunset.”

Sadness was all she saw when she looked into her Grandmother’s eyes… Her eyes, if she were honest with herself. “Sweetheart, you are about as far away from God as you can get. I am not here because I have to  be. I am here because I want to be. I am here to help you.”…

 **This story has been started and deleted many times. Something had been missing. I found that something very recently, thanks to Dr. Stafford Betty. He introduced me, and many others, to the abundant evidence available on the afterlife. While I take some literary license, I do try to take what I’ve learned from him, and what I am still learning from my own research, and include it in this work. It is a slow process and I am certain there will be many changes. Particularly, as I proofread. This is just a taste of where I see the manuscript headed.** 

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Language of the Soul

I’ve been listening to a lot of music, lately. I like it because it speeds the day up. I spend 8-9 hours a day staring at a computer screen. Anything that will speed that time up helps. Anyway, I’ve been listening and I’ve noticed, or rather rediscovered, how effectively music stirs up emotions.  I’ve always had songs that made me think of certain people or events events in my life, but it’s more than that. Music is a language all its own. It speak to the human soul (if you don’t believe you have a soul, stop reading now. You probably won’t understand the rest of this).

In the last 7 hours I have laughed, rocked out in my chair, cried, and simply become lost in my own mind. All because of Jango, my chosen streaming site. But, just before I started this blog, something happened that I don’t ever remember happening before.  I heard a song that sent me face to face with one of my own demons. I won’t say what song, that is a bit too personal for a non-fiction post. Though the rhythm was disquieting. I couldn’t stop listening.  It was a familiar song but I couldn’t place it. Then, the words caught me. I pulled up the lyrics (thank you Google) and there is was – my demon… or demons… spread out before me on the page. Every word I have said to myself in the last several months, every thought, every emotion. It was all right there. That’s when I realized why I couldn’t stop listening. The music was speaking to me, on a very deep level. I wasn’t listening, my soul was. It was a powerful realization.

I know this isn’t news to most people. Even when I was a child I understood the depths music could effect people. After all, I grew up in an age where Ozzy was sued for causing teenage suicides. We would all stand around and say it wasn’t the music, but deep down we knew the truth. Music speaks to everyone at the level of their soul. If that soul is black, empty, it will find emptiness in the chords. It is also clear in my mind, a failing grade I had received on a writing assignment. We were to chose something that gave us comfort and explain why. I chose music; I failed for not writing on the topic. Apparently, the writing topic referred to an OBJECT and music, in the instructor’s opinion, was more of an idea. Whatever, I’m still writing and those tests are obsolete…. But, I digress…. again. Back to the music – I often wonder if song writers realize what they create when composing their music.

Has anyone ever heard a country song and imagined themselves barefoot in a pickup truck, driving down to the river for fishing? (*author raises hand*)  What about a song that makes you want to hit the highway and drive without a plan? (*hand up again*) For me, the song determines the direction I head, either west to the ocean or east to the hills…. I usually head east. What about love songs? Married ladies, can you remember the song you danced to at your wedding? Do you remember why you chose it? And how many of us, after suffering a broken heart, have sat listening to every sad song in our library (*author raises hand*). Eventually, we get over it. But there is always that one song that breaks our heart all over again, even after someone has come along to mend it. “My Immortal” always brings me back to my first pregnancy… and miscarriage. As I said, we get over it. I did. That song has taken on other meanings in recent months but the pregnancy is always the first event I associate with the music.

Music is an amazing art. It is a series of tones, mathematically arranged into chords, which are mashed together in organized chaos to create a tune, which is transformed into a language. The language of the soul…

…Oh! If you are wondering, during the song I faced my demons, admitted they exist, and quietly moved to the next track… I’m still to much of a coward to take them on…


Driving While Under the Influence of Memory

I spent the day in the mountains east of town. The fresh air was crisp in the Autumn sun. It moved through the treetops and scattered leaves like confetti. Under my feet, the ground crunched and sighed as I walked through the limited undergrowth. Many would call this area “High Desert” not mountains but I don’t care. The trees are tall, the air is clean, and the world is quiet. I am at home in these hills. There are paths winding through the area and a few camps are set up – people willing to brave the cold evening winds. I move through silently, not wanting to disturb them. In a few months, if we are lucky, these hills will be covered in snow. And this summer, covered with friends and families looking to “get away from it all”.  But for now, it is quiet.

I have fond memories of this area, the hills and surrounding community. When I was a child, my family would come here to camp. My father liked that it was away from town and you could see the stars; my mother liked that there were bathroom facilities and we were only 20 minutes from Tehachapi. She wasn’t much for the outdoors. I remember one trip we we decided to camp at the last minute. We had the necessities: tent, sleeping bags, and few things to build a fire… We had brought some food, but not enough. My brother and I went into town with our mother. We pulled into the grocery store, bought hot dogs and buns, soda and beer, and a few other supplies. That night I watched as my father BBQ’d using his pocket knife – all we had were plastic utensils. We ate beans from the can and had one of the most memorable trips ever. Many of my happiest moments were here. No wonder I love this area.

I’ve spent the day remembering, reading, and just enjoying the surroundings. But the sun has gone down. The ranger is making the rounds and collecting fees from the over-nighters. It’s time for me to head home. I take the narrow roads out of the campgrounds and keep the car in second as I coast down the mountain. I turn left onto Highline Road and another memory surfaces. My brother and I are telling Daddy, “faster! faster!” as he heads over the little bumps in the road – what my mother has called “whoopty-doos”. Then we put our hands in the air, pretend we were on a roller coaster and laugh as the butterflies tickle our tummies. I laugh out loud at this memory. Things were so much simpler then.

The sun has set but the moon is still missing. In the darkness, I drive a little slower so I don’t miss my turn onto Tucker. The town has grown and it is much brighter than it used to be in the area, but better to be safe than lost. I take the road all the way through town, still a small mountain community despite it’s growth,  and turn onto the freeway. The stars are clear and abundant above, and the scatter of houses on the shadowed hills are stars on earth. I keep my window open so I can smell the cool night air but that doesn’t last long. On this road there are too many trucks and, soon, the smell of diesel and hot brakes becomes too much. I close my window and drive in silence, pulling away from the heavier traffic. Soon, I come round a bend and the valley floor opens below me. I trade millions of silver stars for millions of city lights. I’m not even home and I’m already wishing I was driving the other direction. It isn’t that I don’t like living in the city. I JUST don’t know when, or if, I will ever make it up this way again. The life I have chosen will keep me far too busy to allow me to come up here. I think, sadly, I didn’t get to say goodbye. Silly, because it’s just a mountain; just a town like any other… but still…

If I never do make it back this way, at least I have my memories. We can never go backward, only forward. But our past gives us something to hold on to. It is a precious gift to hold in our heart when we need a light to brighten our life. I will hold the memories of this mountain close and bring them out when I need a smile.


The Traveler (rediscovered)

As I was doing a little spring cleaning, I came across some old pictures, a dreadful report card, my diploma and a short story. I thought my ENGL 101 instructor was the first to require me to exercise my creativity – I was wrong.

The following story was written in November 1991, while I was a Sophomore in high school. As such, it contains some child-like ideas. Also, I may have read H.G. Wells prior to writing it. I don’t remember the assignment and I think the first page or two may be missing. But here is the work – uncorrected. A surprisingly difficult task, as it is my habit to edit as I go:
(And for those who wonder.. the diploma is tucked safely away again, the report card has very deliberately disappeared, and the pictures ended up on Facebook, naturally….)

The Traveler:
“I’m Nodnal. I am a wood sprite,” the creature answered. “You must be Jonathan. Reklaw told me about you. Well, come on.”

“Wait. Where am I? Who’s Reklaw,” Jonathan inquired.

“Don’t ask questions and follow me,” Nodnal replied.

Without arguing, Jonathan followed Nodnal to a small hill. They stopped to rest when a strange animal appeared. It was a white horse with a single golden horn coming out of its forehead.

“Hello Nodnal,” greeted the horse. “I see you have found the human.”

“Hello Nicaren,” Nodnal replied.

“What was that?” Jonathan asked as the creature walked away.

“Reklaw was right,” Nodnal said, looking at Jonathan in surprise. “Your imagination is gone. That was a unicorn. Now, let’s go.”

They began climbing the hill. When they got to the top, Jonathan was speechless. The valley below was covered in blinding white snow. In the middle of this valley stood a castle made of ice.

“Dear Lord,” Jonathan prayed, “have I died and gone to Heaven? Is this your castle I see before me?”

“Is this the most beautiful sight you’ve ever seen?” Nodnal asked.

“It’s wonderful,” Jonathan commented as he began to step forward.

“No, don’t move,” Nodnal warned. “If you pass this hill you will never be able to return home.”

Jonathan didn’t listen. He began walking towards the castle leaving Nodnal to run after him.

“Halt,” a loud voice rang out. A monsterous creature stepped forward.

“I was told to bring him here,” Nodnal said to the creature. “Reklaw is waiting for us.”

“A griffin!” Jonathan screamed. “The castle guard is a griffin?”

“Shut up and don’t make Ttoc angry,” Nodnal said. “He’ll eat you alive.”

They entered the castle. There were chandeliers made of ice and crystal. The walls looked like glass. On one wall, there were several different colored mirrors. Suddenly, a beautiful, musical voice sounded through the hall.

“Who said that?” Jonathan asked, not answering the question. “Show yourself.”

“Nodnal, leave us alone,” the voice asked.

“Yes your highness,” Nodnal’s voice shook.

“Jonathan, why did you come to my castle?” the voice repeated.

“I’m not telling you anything until I can see you,” Jonathan replied.

“Very well,” the voice replied, “look into the blue mirror. Do you see that young girl?”

Jonathan looked in to the mirror. He saw two young children at play and a beautiful young woman.

“Is that you?” Jonathan asked.

“No, that is my daughter, Andromeda. Don’t you remember her? You’ve met her in your dreams,” the voice said.

“I still don’t know who you are,” Jonathan announced.

“Look into the pink mirror. Do you see those colors? That is me. I am Reklaw and I am your dreams,” the voice started to weaken. “I am dying because all you ever do is work on your machine. You have forgotten how to dream.”

“Well, what can I do,” Jonathan asked. “How do I remember how to dream?”

“You already remember,” the voice declared. “Now, however, you must stay here forever. Soon, we will all die.”

“You can let me go and no one will ever know I was here.” Jonathan suggested.

“That is not for me to decide. You must talk to Namdnas. He lives in the center of Dreamland, Nodnal will go with you.”

Jonathan and Nodnal started for Dreamland immediately. Halfway there they cam across a toll bridge.

“No one may pass this bridge without answering my riddle,” said an ugly little man. “Are you prepared to try?”

“What is the riddle?” Jonathan asked.

“What animal has four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening?” the troll asked.

Jonathan pondered the question and then he asked, “Is the answer a man?”

The troll was outraged. “How did you know?” he asked. “Never mind. Go and do not return.”

So Jonathan and Nodnal were, again, on their way.

Finally, they arrived at the gates made of silver. Beyond the gates stood a giant castle. The castle was made of pink and lavender clouds.

They walked into the castle with no problems. They entered a large hall, on the opposite side of the room was an old man. He had a white beard and was dressed in a long, blue robe.

“Come forward,” he said. “I am Namdnas, ruler of Dreamland. You have come because you wish to leave.”

“Yes. Can you help me?” Jonathan pleaded.

“Yes, only because you have come all this way. Andromeda!” the young girl came into the room. “Andromeda, take Jonathan home. Jonathan, follow her she will help you.”

Andromeda led Jonathan into a room. The ceiling was covered with dark storm clouds.

“Lay down and concentrate on going home,” Andromeda told Jonathan.

He did as he was told. Soon, the clouds began to break and sunlight came through.

“You’re almost home,” a distant voice said.

When Jonathan awoke he was in the school lab. In his left hand was his time machine and in the other was a screwdriver. The time was still midnight, time had never passed.

Jonathan finished his machine and made many trips through time, but he never again forgot how to dream.


Silence

I’m having trouble sleeping tonight. It happens on occasion. While I sat sipping my tea, a single line came into my head. From it, I built the following. Perhaps, it is meant to be a poem. I believe I am too tired to tell. I may refine it in the future, when I’ve had more sleep…..

Between life and death, there is silence. You’ll hear it in the middle of night. While all around sleeps quiet, the spirit emits its soft sound. You won’t hear it by daylight, as you rush about in your day. You won’t hear it by moonlight, as sleep carries you away. It is not a product of deafness, nor an unwillingness to hear. It is the silence within us, music for only our ears. It is times like these you will hear it. Only now does the song of the spirit ring. Between life and death there is silence. The sweet, simple music of being…


My Daughter

I sit by the window and watch her. Her arms spread wide to the sun. Its rays shine on her golden brown hair in a halo of light. I see her mouth moving and, though I can’t hear her I know she is singing. Maybe the song is one she has heard on the radio or one she has written herself. She dances and sways and our pup runs around her, nipping at her heels and jumping up and down. Not long ago, I realized how quickly she is growing. Our children are ours for only a little while. Then, we must release them into the wide world, where they learn lessons we could never teach them fully. Someone once said the two best things we can give our children are roots and wings. Looking at her now, I can see her wings spreading to fly… And she is only seven.

Almost seven, I should say. Her birthday is a month away. We’ve been arguing over what to do for it. I suggested the zoo and she suggested Disneyland; I suggested the park and she suggested our backyard. I don’t think we will come to a consensus. I turn back to watch her again. Now, she has climbed to the top of her jungle gym dome. She sits with her feet dangling between the rungs. Nina, our dog, is lying underneath, as if to catch my daughter if she falls. I believe she would try. They are inseparable when outside, a girl and her dog. They are relatively the same age. Nina, in dog years, is seven. She follows my daughter all over the backyard as Hobbit picks flowers, digs for worms, and catches “rolly pollies” (pill bugs).

Hobbit – A nick-name that never fails to get a laugh out of strangers. I tried reading The Hobbit to her when she was younger. When she asked what a Hobbit was, I told her “Well, Hobbits are little people, like you. You are my little Hobbit.” From then on, she was my Hobbit. My Hobbit and My Mini-Me. The latter name was given to her by others. From her morning scowl to her overflowing bookshelves; she is a smaller version of me. As I write this, I am reminded of a time she wanted to write, as well. When she was four, she sat with me while I worked on a research paper for school, “Theodore Seuss Geisel and his place in Today’s Literary Canon”. As I read every Dr. Seuss book I could find, she sat next to me, listening and looking at the pictures. As I wrote how Geisel replacing Dick and Jane with a six-foot tall cat, she traced words and pictures out of The Lorax. I’ll never forget that day. She told me when she grew up she was going to be an author and her name was going to be Dr. Morgan. I still have the “book” she made. I was so proud of her and encouraged her decision, hoping it would continue as she grew. She has changed her mind since then. Now she wants to be a veterinarian and an artist. She can be anything she wants. My only desire is her happiness.

I look up from my laptop again. She has come down from her perch and is standing on the patio, staring out across the yard. Nina is lying at her feet, sniffing the ground. I recognize the look on her face. She has wondered off into her own world. A fantasy world, in which I ride a unicorn and her father rides “a lame horse”. I know this because she has told me about her world. Although, I have always encouraged imagination, I am still surprised by the detail in which she describes hers. She is a source of constant amazement. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for her. And now, I sit and watch my baby, who has become a little girl, who will one day become a woman. I sit and watch and hope I am doing what I should. I hope I am strengthening her roots. I hope I am building her wings. Most importantly, I hope I am giving her the courage to fly…


Darkness

Enchanted Mirror, tell me true,
Will I see a different view?
Am I condemned to this place,
Where thoughts are dark
And have no grace?

Will my heart forever be
Squeezed too tight within me?
Will my limbs, too weak to raise,
Stay numb to touch
or warm embrace?

I want to see the sun again,
To love and laugh and smile or grin.
But tears continue to blur my sight.
I am lost and alone
In this forever night.