Stories, Writing

A Conversation – What is truth?

Sharing a piece of writing I did recently below, let me know what you think in the comments.

“What is truth?”

The words like honey slowly covered me in the air around me. He sat quietly, his eyes soft and inquiring. Simply waiting as if he had all the time in the world, which he did.

I averted his loving gaze as my feet scraped the linoleum floor beneath the table. I fidgeted in my seat and running my hand over my head and through my hair before looking back into his clear eyes. Eyes that carried so much emotion, strength and power. Like the ocean waves that never ceased washing up on shore it was hard to look away once our eyes locked. My upper teeth bit into my lower lip as it curled inward and I swallowed hard. I felt the lump in my throat like a huge wad of dry bed I could barely get down.

And still he waited his hands clasped in front of him, fingers intertwined, as they rested on the table top. I stared across the dark wood of the table and took a deep breath and exhaled loudly. His expression did not change. My voice trembled as I began to speak, the tone carried none of the sarcastic authority that I had intended.

“What is truth?”

He continued to stare, his eyes softening a little at my remark causing my anger to rise and leaning forward I spat out the words.

“You quote those words back at me like I am the villain here? You have no idea what I have been through. How hard this is.”

I sat back in my chair as shame washed over me as soon as the words had let my mouth and hung in the air between us. And yet his loving gaze never changed. My mind swirled and I felt myself feeling light headed. I grasped the edge of the table to steady myself before softly saying.

“I don’t know what you want from me.”

He only stared, as small smile played at the corners of his lips. We sat staring at each other for several seconds, his eyes never leaving my face before he said in a soft voice.

“You can trust me. You know that don’t you?”

I swallowed hard again my throat was dry. I reached for the glass of water on the table and before I could reach it, he swiftly reached out his hand and gently pushed it towards me. I smiled through clenched lips and nodded a thank you as my fingers closed around the cold glass. Bring it to my lips I drank deeply the cool clear water cascading down my throat like a waterfall over the edge of a cliff.

I set the glass down heavily back on the table with a loud thud as it slipped from my grasp. I quickly glanced up at him in surprise at the sharp clack of the glass with the wooden table top. His expression still did not change and as our eyes met, he said.

“You have not answered my question.”

I feigned what I hoped was a surprised ignorance and spoke in a voice that I hoped conveyed a non-interest, “What question is that?”

“I did not come here to play games with you. Time is short and there is much to do.”

His response was immediate and pointed his voice rising only barely from the soft-spoken words of earlier. Although, I could feel the emphasis that emanated from his comment. I hesitated knowing he deserved an answer to his question but afraid of my own response. He sat back in the chair and continued to speak and although subtle his tone seemed a shade softer.

“You remember the stories I have told?” He questioned, continuing not waiting for me to reply.

“I use them to communicate truth. I know, I know we are back to the beginning now. What is truth? Right? The age-old question that has haunted man, driven him to seek, and even caused him to go against his very nature at times in the quest for truth. There truly is no depth of depravity for the truly wicked. But that is not what we are here to discuss. So, I let’s get back on topic, shall we?”

He paused for a moment staring intently at me. I nodded slowly, my throat was now dry again and I glanced quickly at the now empty glass on the table top, licking my lips as I did so. He continued to stare at me and if his gaze had not been so unobtrusive it would have been unnerving but rather it felt oddly comforting.

“I am, and all I am asking if for you to believe and if you trust me.”

I felt the swell of anger explode like a volcano spewing lava and clouds of ash into the air as I grabbed the table edge hard with my hands and shouted.

“What is truth? Do you trust me? Why the questions, why the damn questions! I am so tired, tired of trying and yet, I don’t know what else to do. I am seeking this truth you mention and also trying to trust. I least I think I am but it gets me nowhere. So, I ask you who do I trust? If I trust you are there others also? What then? What then!”

“Is it too much to ask that I find some solace and answers to my questions. Living in this dungeon of mystery is almost too much. The darkness seems overwhelming and suffocating. I wander through the days each no different from the one before and on and on it goes.”

“You say trust me, what then? You are the only one I trust and still… it seems to get me nowhere. You see that don’t you? How could you not understand? How could you sit there just staring like it doesn’t matter? What is wrong with you? I always believed you cared, I always wanted to believe that you cared. Now it seems I don’t matter? What am I supposed to do with that?”

“Every inspirational Hallmark card couldn’t make this better nor fix things. It is what it is.”

My voice trailed off as I shrunk back in my chair exhausted from my outburst my eyes averting his gaze. Finally, after several seconds of silence I slowly looked up and the love and concern emanating from his eyes overwhelmed me. The strength of his gaze would have knocked me to the ground if I had not been sitting in the chair. As it was, I felt my back press tighter against the wooden slates behind me.

“I only ask that you trust me. The rest is often irrelevant and often inconsequential to this story. Your story. For you see you can only read a book one page at time, on word and one sentence at a time. This also applies to your life. For it is only lived forward, not backwards and not all at once. One step, or one page at a time. And we don’t see what is on the next page until we get there.”

He smiled and I felt the warmth of his love wash over me. I nodded suddenly so weary it was all I could do to hold my head up and keep his gaze. Leaning forward he reached a tanned arm across the table and gently took my hand in his. It was warm and comforting, soft and rugged at the same time. I bowed my head, my chin to my chest as the tears began quickly rolling down my cheeks and falling onto my leg causing dark blue spots on my jeans.

Continuing to hold my hand he said nothing. I cried, the tears flowing easily and effortlessly and I let them come. It was cathartic and if I had wanted to, I don’t know if I could have stopped them. After a few minutes the tears ceased to flow and I lifted my head to see his eyes still staring at me with the same look of compassion and love. I heard the sound through the open window of the last autumn leaves rustling in the trees. It was a melodic wind chime sound of nature. For a moment I was transported.

The meadow in front of me was vast, the tall golden grasses waving in the breeze. On the far side of the meadow was a stand of aspen trees. Their leaves were still in full glory and they flashed as golden coins suspended at the end of each small whiteish branch. The sky overhead was a canvas of blue as the sun was sinking behind the mountain range far to the west. I scanned the scene reveling in the solitude and quiet. Nothing here that troubled me mattered and all was as it should be. I felt the last rays of the sun’s warmth on my arms and I relished the embrace. I stood motionless listening to the soft rustling of the grasses. It felt like home, or at least what I imagined home to be like, for I had never known what a real home was.

Warm, comforting, and inviting.  Most of safe, a place where one could go to retreat to escape to and also to move forward. My soul yearned for just such a place and I felt the warm tear roll down my check before it touched my lips and I tasted the salt on my tongue. The voice came from nowhere and everywhere at once. It surrounded me and held me fast in an embrace.

“Do you trust me?”

I slowly nodded my head as and heard the shriek. Quickly glancing up into the sky I saw the red-tailed hawk soaring high overhead across the meadow. He circled once before flying off towards the aspen grove and disappearing over the tree tops.

“If you want to know, what truth is you must trust me.”

My eyes shot open and he was still staring at me with love and concern. As I stared into his eyes, I would have sworn I saw a hint of sadness there also.

Life, Stories

This Moment

The quiet all around was loud inside my head. I felt a sense of expectancy in the air.
The breeze off the lake contained a chill but was bearable after the heat of the day. The small waves pushed by the breeze lapped against the gravel-laden shoreline. The boardwalk was empty this early evening. The boards running vertically beneath our feet showed the signs of the many footsteps of those who had walked along this path and were well worn.
The diffused evening light cast an ethereal glow settled over the landscape as the sun touched the horizon. The ground to both sides of the wooden boardwalk was stark white bleached white from the powerful desert sun. The winds that blew over that had stripped the earth bare leaving it barren and void of life except for a few sparse trees that struggled for survival in the dry parched dirt.
We walked silently, me with my hands pushed deep into my pockets and her pushing her bike forward hands firmly on the grips and face a mask devoid of emotion. The sleeves of my white shirt rolled up to my elbows and I could feel the flapping of the shirttails in the wind as we walked. Her white summer dress hung loosely on her young body a stark contrast to her brown olive skin. The lack of color in our clothes matched the landscape as if we were a part of it.
Looking inland away from the lake, I could see the far distance parking lot where the last stragglers of the day were returning to their vehicles. Headed where I had no idea, I only knew that they had somewhere to go. The loneliness settled over me like a shroud as my steps faltered and the sun sank its lower half now hidden below the horizon.
Catching my stumble out of the corner of her eye, she knew better than to ask how I was. Instead, she simply stated,
“I am tired.”
“I know sweetie.”
I replied as I quickly regained my balance and told myself she had not seen my misstep, nor knew the reason why. However, deep down I knew that she knew. She always seemed to know. Her understanding empathy, the ability that came so naturally to her and guided her actions was far beyond her young years. As we continued to walk, she said.
“I just want to sleep, all the time.”
“It’s okay. I get it. If that’s what you need then that’s okay.”
The silence then settled around us again as we moved forward. We strode onward as if drawn by some invisible force that neither of us could deny. I knew she was tired and worn out, even without her earlier comment still echoing in my head. My heart ached knowing I was powerless to stop the pain. I still found it hard to admit, even to myself, the conclusion I knew was inevitable and unavoidable.
Life is hard and for her to learn this at such a young age seemed so unfair. My anger over the injustice I perceived burned however; the sadness and longing overshadowed it like the darkness. I looked across the lake at the exact moment the last of the huge golden orb of the sun sank beyond the horizon into the undiscovered. Melodies of grace erupted in my head in songs of redemption and a belief in a light that will one day overcome the darkness. As quickly as the feelings rose, they disappeared as the despair again wrapped its arms around me choking off my breath.
I felt so helpless and alone. My life slipping from my grasp and everything I held dear. We continued to walk in silence, comfortable together in our solitude. Over the past few days, I had watched, as she grew weaker and I hated the fact that my little girl’s strength was quickly fading and I knew the end was near.
The words came from where I do not know and spilled out of my mouth in a cry of anguish.
“I miss her.”
“I do too daddy.”
“God, I miss your momma.”
We stopped walking and the bike lay on its side where she had let if fall. Picking her up I held her close feeling her wet check against mine our tears mingled together as they ran down our faces. Her arms tightly squeezed my neck in defiance of tomorrow and yesterday, for this moment was all we had.

©Mark W. Schutter 2018

Often this moment is all we really have, don’t miss it. ~M

#JustBelieve #HopeLives #LoveChangesPeople

This Moment

Poetry, Stories

Capturing Fireflies

image

I captured my memories of you,
and placed them inside a glass jar.
Holding it close and so none could dare escape,
I screwed on the lid twisting it as tightly as I could.
Like the fireflies we had captured when we were young,
each memory flew innocently around inside the jar.
Upon rising the next morn I came to find,
each memory was dead from lack of air.
Nothing was left and utter despair filled my heart.
I resolved that I could and would do better,
so eagerly I set about capturing more.
Into the glass jar I placed each one and again
screwed down the lid, this time tighter than before.
Believing I had learned a hard lesson in life,
I punched holes in the top so air would enter in,
believing the memories would now never die.
I watched them flutter so happily about,
which brought an ever present smile to my face.
Until, eventually I dozed in this contented place.
Waking many hours later in the early evening.
I looked for the memories to remind me of you
but the jar I held was now empty and cold.
Unscrewing the lid I could find nothing there.
I sighed deeply, realizing that the holes must have
been too big, allowing each memory to escape.
I could not ever hold them I thought,
as I sat clasping the jar with clenched fists.
The evening began to fade as the dark curtain
of night began to fall covering the land.
My hands still gripped tightly to the empty jar,
my heart void of anything, feeling nothing.
The darkness smothered the forgotten light of day.
Finally, I dared to move and looking up over my head,
I was astounded by the sight before me.
A million twinkling lights, each a memory of you
shone white hot against the dark canvas of night.
As the memories flooded back in wave after wave, 
I distinctly and clearly remembered this one.
How we ran and laughed capturing fireflies,
without a care in the world; when we were young.

~Mark Schutter ©2015

Life, Writing

A Short Story of… Love

He stumbled forward into the cold night. Overcast and dreary, the sleet pounded down relentlessly. Oh how long since he had seen the sun he wondered silently to himself as he walked.
His mind was as numb as his exposed fingers in the cold night air. Yet, still the soft singular voice of her continued to sing that same song over and over in his mind. Thoughts of those long summer days spent in Saskatoon would haunt him like a specter for the rest of his life.
It was a special time long ago with little static to cloud his thoughts or life. Now his life was surrounded by seemingly endless dark and steep climbs. The ambient sounds of the night, he barely noticed until filling the cold empty air all around him was the steadily barking of a dog.
As he looked up the last thing he saw was the large Siberian husky as it leapt from the shadows. He was knocked to the ground and the dog was on top of him in an instant. He screamed as the large furry dog began licking his face with vigor, its tail wagging furiously.
As the sound of his scream faded into the night, a slow smile spread across his face. He lay silently not feeling the cold earth beneath him as the he let the warmth of love wash over him.

~Mark Schutter ©2015

This short story was written during a 5 minute free write using the words in bold above. This occurred during a meeting of the lunch time writing group at my workplace. I have to admit, I did edit a bit while typing it in the blog post, yet easily 95% is from free writing. Hope you enjoyed it!

Art, Life, Writing

Something Completely Different!

He quickly dried himself and tossed the towel aside. Wrapping the soft white bath robe around his waist he tied the belt around his waist making a knot in the front. He then exited the building into the warm afternoon sun. It seemed to be a normal spring day with the sun shining amongst billowy clouds floating across the canvas of a cerulean sky. He quickly spotted her standing a short distance away with her back to him. She was wearing a similar white bath robe and her long brown hair hung down over her shoulders. She appeared to be having a conversation with a man who he did not know seated in front of her in a lawn chair. The distance between her and the man appeared to be about two yards and he seemed to be listening intently.

He began to walk towards her and this stranger, covering the distance quickly as his instincts raised the hairs on the back of his neck. The area was the grounds of a campus of some sort with people milling about amidst numerous large brick buildings. As he drew closer in his approach to the two figures he heard her voice. She seemed to be replying in response to a question from the strange man. Others passed by ignoring them both.

Coming from behind she was unaware of his approach and his nearness allowed him to hear her say the word ‘cancer.’ At that moment her hands quickly untied the knot at her waist holding her bath robe closed. Grabbing both front seams she tore open the robe her arms outstretched to her sides.  Shocked, he quickly covered the last few yards to where she was standing. Without hesitating he placed himself squarely between her and this man sitting there with an almost deliriously evil grin on his face. He was able to block the man’s view of her with his body. As he had moved to intersect the sight line between the two he was even more surprised to catch sight of bare skin and the swell of a breast. The realization that she was completely naked beneath the bath robe and had exposed herself to this strange man sent his mind into a free fall.

Catching his breath he quickly grabbed the edges of her robe and pulled them together to cover her nakedness. She did not resist and others passing by seemed not to notice. He then grabbed her by the shoulder and turned her away from the stranger. They began walking away as he guided her with his arm around her shoulders. As they walked, his legs felt as if he had just ran a marathon and only kept moving on instinct. His mind was reeling, his heart beating loudly in his chest. Minutes pass as they walk in silence before he is able to speak.

“What are you doing?” he asks incredulously trying to hide the anger and dismay. Her response is short and clipped with very little emotion, “You do not understand.”

“I do not understand?” he questions her.

“No, you do not,” she states simply.

She pauses before calmly adding, “I am the one dying.”

~Mark Schutter ©2014

Dying 2014(This story came to me in a dream, I have written it down here verbatim from what I recalled the next morning upon waking.  I have tried to add no extra details and if I have it is unintentional.  The mind has dreams of its own, of which in the light of day the reasons behind the dreams are chased away with the rising of the sun. ~M)

Adventure, Art, Writing

Cowboy Movies

“Stop right there sheriff!”  the masked man said with a grin.  The sheriff upon hearing the voice behind him slowly turned to face the unknown masked man who was pointing his pistol straight at him. The sheriff stood stone faced with no expression only a tautness to his muscles ready for action.  The crowd on the boardwalk quickly ran for cover in all directions leaving the two of them facing each other alone in a standoff.

I held my breath in anticipation watching the scene unfold through the window of the department store.  The black and white western capturing those thrilling days gone by where I wished I had lived when a man, a horse and a six shooter could conquer the world an always win the heart of a beautiful lady.  Although, I wasn’t to concerned with girls at this point in my short life.  As others passed by barely noticing my presence as I watched silently through the glass straining to hear the words from the television.

I was young. I was standing in front of a shop window watching something on the black and white television inside. A woman grabbed my hand and ran down the street, pulling me along…

My feet could barely keep up with her as I struggled to free myself from her hold but her grip only became tighter.  We rounded a corner narrowly missing other pedestrians and quickly headed down a dark alley.  Suddenly, the world went dark the buildings rising higher and higher on each side until they blocked out the sun.  I felt light headed and my breath came in ragged gasps.  It was then that I realized I was floating, no maybe flying.

The woman was gone as I looked down and saw the earth below small lights twinkling from cities and towns as I sailed through the dark.  I felt things flying by me as I moved through the night but was unsure what they were in the darkness.  I closed my eyes tightly suddenly afraid of falling.  After a few moments I opened eyes and realized I was floating on a log down a narrow river.  The tree’s branches on each side reached over the water like long fingers.  My young mind saw them reaching for me to pull  me into the water and I again clenched shut my eyes.

I waited for the inevitable and then slowly opened my eyes when nothing happened.  The world was fuzzy around me and I blinked several times until I realized I was lying in my own bed.  I felt a sharp pain in my arm as if needles were poking into it and I moved it ever so slightly from the position under me where I had been laying on it.  As the blood began to flow back the pain at first became worse then began to lessen.

I lay quietly the silence of my room and the dark enveloping me.  I remembered the words of the witch from the Wizard of Oz that I had watched earlier that evening with my sister.  She had said to Dorothy, “I will get you my pretty.”  Okay, that was weird she was a girl and I was a boy .  As I realized this had all been just a dream I resolved right then and there to only watch cowboy movies from then on out and to always keep my feet firmly planted on the ground unless I was on the back of a horse.  ~M ©2013

The FWF prompt this week Time and Place in italics in the story above.   Free writing is what is called stream of consciousness writing, no editing, no proofing just writing! Please check out Kellie Elmore’s official site for more information. Post your submission with a comment and link to your blog on Kellie’s blog, post on twitter with the hashtag #FWF, Facebook and join the fun!

Adventure, Art, Writing

Lascaux Flash Fiction Contest

Got my entry in on time for the Lascaux Flash Fiction Contest with a story of 250 words or less. Not as easy as it first seems!

Read it here > Anointed

Mine is #245 of 265 entries posted so far.  The contest is closed but check it out and prepare for next year!  The stories are all short (less than 250 words), quick reads and some great entries!