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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“Some Days” – A short story free-write

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A quick free-write story using the following words – buckskin, sweaty, lilac, learn and disjointed. This was written at the lunch time gathering of the writing group I participate in at work. I think we had 5 – 7 minutes to contemplate and write. Lots of fun and encouragement as we write and share. Not bad way to spend a lunch hour.

This very short story shows my off-beat sense of humor. Hey, it made the group laugh and left them with a lot of unanswered questions. Now, get your write on my friends!

Just the Right Time -A Tree Story

They buried me deep to prohibit the evil from returning. Long held superstitious beliefs still ruled the minds of many people. The cool damp earth heavily covered every inch of my body. I felt nothing as shovels of dirt hit my face, my eyes open wide and vacantly staring at the sky above. Dust and mud filled every crevasse of my skin. Soon the darkness completely overtook me and there was no more.

The little seed had long lay undisturbed, wedged between two stones deep within the earth. Now as my body melted into an unrecognizable pile of rotting flesh the dust became damp and permeated with the squalid and putrid smell forming a muddy mixture. The oozing moisture from the decaying flesh began to bleed into the surrounding dirt and covered the little seed in life-giving moisture. In that moment, deep in the silence, life began to stir.

Breaking through the shell and hard outer husk a small white tendril began to slowly struggle upward in the dark. Drawn by an instinct that upward was were there was a place that light existed. The small shoot of living mass passed through my stomach which was now an unrecognizable mixture of internal organs, flesh and earth, weaving its way through the bones of my ribs. Its quest for life seemed to direct it away from the poisons secreted by my decaying liver and kidneys. The multitude of enzymes and proteins from my rotting flesh feed the small seed’s every growing need.

Growing stronger and bigger the long white shoot became a missile as it continued upward through the dark soil. Like an albino snake it inched its way towards the surface around obstacles and powering through the damp earth. After many days, that seemed like forever in the dark, a small white shoot broke through the hard crust of the earth. Protruding upward the small spike of a living plant was overcome by the bright light.

The warmth and power of the sun was overwhelming. Immediately a metamorphosis began to occur. The little white sprout began to synthesize and the color of green began to grow into the small wisps of the upstart life. Steadily the years passed; as rains came down saturating the ground followed by sunshine that gave warmth, silently encouraging continued growth. Stronger and stronger it became, resilient to the cold winters, the restless winds and the myriad of enemies that sought its destruction.

Ever up towards the blue of the sky it grew its branches extending as if sniffing the smells carried on the winds. The pine needles rustled in the breeze creating a symphony of sounds no orchestra could match. The trunk became full and strong, the roots burying themselves deep into the soil, past my long forgotten corpse.

The sun circled lazily through the sky day after day and time moved on as it is want to do. One bright late spring day a young girl and her father stopped to rest in the shade cast by the trees long velvet green branches. They had been walking enjoying the warmth of the sun on their skin and now they sat down in the cool shade, as a faint smell of pine scent wafted in the air about them.

“Daddy, how long do you think this tree has been here?” she asked looking up into the enormous canopy over their heads.

Her father paused, looking up also and replied, “Oh honey, I am sure a long, long time. A tree this huge takes a lot of years to grow this big. You know it started from just one small seed, smaller than the end of your little finger and it was in the right spot at just the right time.”The Life of a Tree

The little girl lay back in the shade of the mighty tree smiling and looked up into the tangle of branches of gently swaying pine needles reveling in the quiet. She watched as a small bird seemingly unconcerned hopped from branch to branch. The late afternoon sunlight filtered through the branches as her father felt his heart swell with love for his little girl. They sat together remaining silent in the midst of the circle of life that revolved around them.

~Mark Schutter ©2015

The above writing was began during a free-write session of our workplace writing group with the prompt to write about a tree and use the physical senses throughout. I did not have time to finish during the session but already had the ending in mind so I went back and finished it with some editing.  What do you think?

Horse Graffiti

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Horse graffiti       
Repesenting
A freedom rarely found
In a concrete jungle

Untamed equine lines
Breaking chains
A wildness within hearts
So hard to contain
    
Horse graffiti   
Etchings                              
Illuminated by city lights    
On walls of stone

~Mark Schutter ©2015