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

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My Black Heart

My Black Heart

This piece of flash fiction, if you will, came to me in a vision as I spent some quite time with God and this is what I saw in my mind as it was revealed to me. I believe in healing and that God can, and does, renew our hearts rescuing us from the darkness. 

#HopeLives          #LoveChangesPeople

Capturing Fireflies

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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

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!

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)

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!

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!