Fairies : Sword (Part 2)

Mystica looked across the clearing, by the edge of the lake. The boy was standing there. Looking at his reflection in the water. It had been nearly two weeks since Mystica and Scream had rescued him from the village by the sea. Where he had been whipped nearly to death. His body was fully healed. Mystica had seen to that, using her White Magic to heal his physical wounds.

Her White Magic could not, however, heal the wounds within his heart and soul. The only things that could heal those were time, and the boy himself.

The boy had no name. At least, not yet, anyway. He’d refused to say his name at any time. When Rose and Fauna had asked him his name, he’d told them he didn’t have a name.

Musica was doing the best she could. Writing new songs, and new music for him every day. Always singing, and playing where he could hear her. And Mystica could tell that the music was something he needed. She’d even seen him look into the water of the lake while Musica played. And she’d see the tears he’d cried.

Dream watched Mystica. She could tell that Mystica was very much concerned for the boy. So, Dream spoke with Sunshine that day. She pulled Sunshine into the edge of the woods. “Our boy is very hurt, isn’t he?”

“Yes, Dream. He is.” Sunshine looked sad. Which explained the grey color of the sky, and the clouds on that day. “I wish there was something we could do to help him. To show him we’re his friends. And that he’s not alone again. And that we’ll never hurt him.”

Dream smiled. “I know! I have an idea!” She put a hand on Sunshine’s shoulder. “Why don’t you smile for a while. I’ll have to give you a reason to. I know. You are you. And you can’t turn your smile on and off.”

“You like him, don’t you, Dream?”

“What?”

Sunshine smiled. “You like our boy.” Dream blushed. Her cheeks turned bright pink. And she could feel the heat in her shoulders. Sunshine just smiled even more. “You like our boy.” Then she said to Dream, “That makes me happy. That makes me smile.”

Dream smiled to. And the heat in her shoulders started to fade away. As did the pink in her cheeks. “Yes. I like him. He’s cute.”

Sunshine said, “I’ll smile more now. I like thinking how you like him.” Then she looked at Dream, “I like him too, you know. But he’s so sad. So hurt.”

Dream could see Sunshine’s smile start to fade. So she decided to tell Sunshine the rest of her plan. “I’m going to speak with Momma. I’m going to ask Momma if I can walk in our boy’s dreams. And see if there’s something there that he’s afraid of. Something there that’s hurting him.”

At that, Sunshine’s smile grew strong once more. And it remained strong through the rest of the day.

Mystica walked up to the boy. Standing by the lake. She reached out a hand, and touched his shoulder. He didn’t stop her. “There’s something I wish to show you,” she said. He didn’t move. He just stood there. Looking into the water of the lake. So, Mystica continued on. She looked at the water of the lake, and she spoke to it, calling the White Magic. “Show me the ocean.”

The mirror like surface of the lake shifted, white shapes taking form on it. Until the image of a strip of sand appeared. Next to that enormous body of water. That body of water that had such huge waves near the shore. Mystica knew it as the ocean. She knew it was surf. But she’d never seen it in her life. Until she’d gone to the village by the ocean, and rescued the boy.

She left the image of the ocean’s shore on the lake. Her hand resting on the boy’s shoulder. While he watched. “Your home is there, isn’t it?” The boy said nothing. But Mystica couldn’t help but see the longing look in his eyes. “By the ocean. That’s where your home is, isn’t it?”

The boy spoke. For the first time in days. “No.” Mystica was surprised. “Not by.” The boy turned and looked at Mystica. “In.”

“In?” Mystica was somewhat surprised. She’d never known anyone to live in the sea. “You live in the sea?”

The boy had looked at Mystica. Right into her eyes. “Yes.”

Before Mystica could respond, the boy had spread his wings, and taken flight over the lake. Just above the surface of the water. He flew rapidly to the center of the lake. And then, he dove. Straight down.

Mystica followed him. She called on the White Magic to encase her. And protect her. And it did. Keeping her safe, as she dove beneath the surface of the lake. And followed the boy, all the way to the bottom of the lake. Maybe 15 or 20 feet deep.

It was there that she saw the boy, walking along the bottom. Perfectly at ease underneath the water. Perfectly at home. He walked there. Looking at the rocks. At the mud. And the solid ground. Looking at the fish that swam. As if it was all something he’d done all his life.

Then, the boy stopped, and looked at Mystica. And he spoke. Underwater. “I belong in the sea. I want to go home.”

Mystica couldn’t speak under the water. The boy seemed to know that. So, he pushed off the bottom, and returned to the surface of the lake. Stretching his wings out, and taking flight once more. Mystica following. They both returned to the clearing. By the edge of the lake. “I want to go home,” the boy repeated.

Mystica finished his sentence for him. “To the sea.”

“Yes.”

Mystica thought for a moment. Then looked around the clearing, at her adopted daughters. Musica, Dream, Rose, Sunshine and Fauna. And she smiled. “I somehow think my daughters would like to see the ocean.”

She turned to the boy, and said. “We’ll start the trip in the morning.” Then she smiled at him, “And thank you, for letting me know where you come from.”

Later that day, just before the sun set, Dream called for Mystica, “Momma! Momma! I would like to talk with you!” Mystica had used her wings, and slowly flown across the lake. It was hard for her to fly. She’d injured that wing in her battle with the wolves years ago. And it had never healed quite right. She could still fly. But only slowly. And only with a lot of effort. And only for short distances.

She landed, softly, on the grass next to Dream. “Momma. I have to ask you something. But it’s a secret.” So, Mystica had crouched down, on her knees, so Dream could whisper in her ear. “I want to visit the boy’s dreams. I want to see what kind of dreams he has. So I can try to help him.”

Mystica was surprised, to say the least. Dream was certainly growing up quickly. And sometimes, Mystica was afraid that Dream’s curiosity would get the better of her. So, she closed her eyes, and asked the White Magic for guidance. And the White Magic showed her nothing. All she heard was a single thought. “Follow your heart.”

Mystica’s heart told her to let Dream try. Told her how much she loved Dream. As if Dream were a true daughter. Told her that Dream would be OK. And that Dream was going to try anyway. Even if Mystica told her not to.

“Yes, Dream. You can try. But please know that I’ll always be where you can find me, if you should need me.”

When the sun set that night, the boy settled in for one last night on the ground. He always slept by the edge of the lake. On the grass. Where he could hear the sounds of the water of the rivers that flowed into and out of the lake.

That night, Dream waited until the boy was asleep. And then she walked across the grass. Settling on the ground next to him. And she reached out a hand for the first time in her life. And put it on the boys cheek. And said one single word. “Dream.”

Dream was walking along the bottom of the ocean. There were all kinds of strange fish, and plants that she’d never seen. But the boy knew them all. And as she watched him in his dream, she heard him cry, “Mother! Mother! Where are you! Help me! Please help me!”

She watched him as he closed his eyes in his dreams that night. And dreamed of his mother. Slowly, as Dream watched, a figure started to take shape. A full grown fairy. And not just any fairy. This fairy had a crown upon her head. And a trident that she carried. She had a regal air. And Dream could tell that she ruled the ocean. That the fish, the plants, and all the creatures of the sea, recognized her. And knew her. As their queen.

The boy’s dreams continued on. And she saw him swimming. She was swimming right along with him. She never saw the net. Neither did he. He ran head first into it. And got tangled up. The net twisted around him. Trapping his arms. His legs. His wings.

And the net got pulled up. Up, and out of the water. As it did, the boy was exposed to the sky. She knew he’d never seen the sky. The sun. The clouds. The boy was absolutely terrified. Frozen by fear.

The net dropped, landing on the deck of a boat. With a hard thud. Dream felt as if the wind had been knocked out of her. Something started to untangle the net. And Dream realized it was humans. Several of them. And when they saw the boy, the leaped on him. Pinning him down. Trapping him on the boat.

That’s when the boy had called on fairy magic. Fairy magic his mother had taught him. He’d flexed his wrist. Like he was holding a short sword. And that invisible sword of fairy magic had sliced into the arms of one of the humans. Drawing blood. As if a real sword had been drawn.

The other humans had backed away. The boy standing in the midst of them. Swinging his arms. Running at his captors. Trying to get to the water once again. It only took a few seconds for one of the humans to get behind him. And hit him over the head with a wooden pole. And then, the boy collapsed. Unconscious. On the deck of the boat.

Only to wake up in a prison cell. His arms bound by chains. His feet chained to the floor. Two men guarding him. Each with a bow and arrows. He knew there was nothing he could do. That they were out of his reach. That they could shoot him with the arrows.

He knew he was doomed.

Dream knew the rest of the story. The circle in the village. The whips. The pain. The hurt. Being left to slowly die on the sand. The arrival of Scream. Then the arrival of Mystica.

Dream quietly pulled her hand away from the boy’s cheek. She stood up. And walked away. Quietly. Mystica was waiting outside Dream’s little home in the trees. “Good. You are OK.”

All that Dream would do was say, “I know his name.”

She looked at Mystica. “I know his name. His name is Sword.”

Mystica had held dream for a while. Dream had been through a lot that night. The first night she’d ever walked within another’s dreams. And it had been a big test of her self. Her confidence. Her control. She’d told Mystica everything. Everything she’d seen in Sword’s dreams. And she’d cried herself to sleep that night.

Like the 6 year old girl that she really was.

Turn Right And Take Two Steps.

[ Author’s Note : Here, I borrow the words of Maggie Mae. If you are sensitive to the topic of suicide please use caution if you decide to read this! ]

I lost count of the mornings
That I walked along the sidewalk
Looking toward the cars
Of normal people.
As they raced to work.
In their jobs.
In their normal lives.
Knowing none of them
Saw me at all.

Knowing none of them knew.
I was one
Of the walking dead.
That everything I’d been.
Everything I’d known.
Everything I’d cared about.
For 30 years.
Was gone.

Taken from me.
Ripped away.
By no one.
By an illness.
That had no name.
An illness
None of them
Understood.
None of them
Wanted to understand.

Depression
Was my companion
On those walks.
Fueling fear
That nothing would ever
Be the same.
That I would never
Be whole again.

I lost count
Of the days I watched the cars.
And the trucks.
With the faces of the people
Inside them.
Putting on makeup.
Shaving.
Screaming at someone
On the phone.
Singing the words
To a song.

As they raced to work.
For another day
Of being normal.
Of being OK.

While I walked along.
Unable to escape
The reality
Of being broken.
Damaged.
In some way.

I lost count of the days
I wished I could just say, “Hi!”
To any one of them.
Even though I’d never met them
In my life.
That I could find someone
That would smile.
That would talk
With me.

But it never happened.

I walked alone.
Along  the sidewalk.
Every morning.
My only companion.
Depression.
By my side.
Whispering in my ear.
Telling me
I could end the hurt.
And end the pain.
That I felt
With ever step I took.
With every breath
In those days.

When I walked along the sidewalk,
Watching other people
Go to work.

Depression whispered
In my ear.
Day after day.
“Wait for a truck.
With 18 wheels.
Then turn to the right.
And take two steps.
That’s all it will take.
And you’ll be free.
The pain
Will go away.”

May  you never understand
The words I write today.
May you never hear the whisper
Of depression
In your ear.

It would have been so easy
To listen to the words
Depression spoke to me
Every single day.

“Turn to the right.
And take two steps.
And all the pain
Will just go away.”

I’m still here.
Today.
Because I knew then.
As I’ve always know.
My pain might go away
If I surrender.
And end the pain
I live with.

But depression has no answer
To the question I asked it.
As I walked along.
Watching people go to work.
On so many days.

“Why would I do that?
And hurt so very much
My Lady?
And my children?
And the few people
That I call my friends?
Knowing all along
That I can make it through
The pain that I am in?
Why would I give up?
Why would I
Hurt them?”

It would have been
So very easy
To have gained sweet release
From the hurt.
And from the pain.

All I had to do
Was turn to the right.
And take two steps.

And I’d have never hurt
Again.

Hiding In Plain Sight

I was speaking
With a group of people
That I once worked with.
Of course,
They all remembered
How I’d left
The job I had
With them.

Among them were a few
Of the people
That I call my friends.
We were all talking
About our lives.

That’s when
My old friend Bob
Said something
That really pissed me off.

See,
Bob asked me
Where I worked.
And I’d answered him
Very honestly.

“Right now,
I work at Best Buy.
A member of
The Geek Squad.”

And Bob,
Being who he was,
And being normal,
I supposed,
Couldn‘t help but ask
That nasty question
I‘d been asked
1000 times before.

“Why do you work there?”

I’m sure that everyone
In the group that day
Saw the flash of anger
In my eyes,
And on my face.

I’m also sure
The only thing they saw
Was a flash.
Anger that was there,
For a heart beat.
Maybe two.
And then was gone.

What the didn’t know,
And couldn’t see
Was the reaction that had happened
Inside of me.

Nor could they have heard
The echo of the words
That Jesus the Christ
Had spoken
While dying
On that cross.

“Forgive them.
They don’t know at all
What they’re doing.”

My mind raced.
Running once again
Through a million thoughts
At once.
Through memories
Of things that I’d gone through.
That no one in that group
Would ever understand.
The perspective that I had
That was far outside the walls
Of the tiny world
They all lived within.

It only took a second
Of real world time
Until my answer came.
“Because it suits me,
And where I am,
In my life right now.”

Bob, being Bob,
And blind to anything
That he didn’t understand.
So boxed into his world,
That he couldn’t comprehend
Anything beyond the walls
Of his own beliefs,
And dreams,
And ways of doing things.
Bob had responded.

“But,
You’re so much better
That that.
You shouldn’t be
Working at Best Buy.
It’s beneath you.
You supposed to work
At a job
That uses your skills.
One that pays you
What you’re really worth.”

You should have heard
The quiet whispers
Race throughout the room.
Each person there
Confirming with the other
That what Bob had declared
Was absolutely true.
Heads nodding their agreement,
As they all looked at me,
With a look that screamed out loud,
“It’s so sad
To see you reduced
To this.”

I swear,
I felt that if I could,
I’d get a great big truck.
And run over all of them.
For not a single one of them
Had a clue at all
Of how they lived.
And the things they did.

Instead,
I asked,
“Why, Bob?
Why is my job
Beneath me?”

That was when Bob stopped,
With no answer to give,
So Becky answered for him,
“You know why!
You know it is!”

And there it was again.
That same damned answer
That I’d heard
My entire life.
Just one single word.
Because.
With no explanation.
No reason.
At all.
Just the assumption
That I understood
How things really were.
How they were
Supposed to be.

Me,
Being who I am,
And having stepped
Far outside the walls
Of the tiny world
They all lived within,
I couldn’t help
But answer them.

“Because people like me
Don’t work at Best Buy,
Right?”

Every head was nodding
In agreement
With that declaration.

“Because only useless people,
That can’t get a real job,
One that pays real money.
One that is respectable.
That shows their social status,
And their social worth.
Their ranking in this world.
Work at Best Buy?”

That was when
I let my anger show.
“That’s pretty damn close
To the most outrageous thing
That I’ve ever heard.”

I glared at all of them.

“Are you telling me
That the people I work with
Are not as good as you?
That you’re more valuable
Than they are?
More important?
Just because you have a job
That pays you so much money
That you can buy
Damn near anything
That you want to?”

I looked each of them
Smack in their eyes.
Letting my anger
Burn everything I saw
In their hearts
And souls.

“Are you saying
That it’s sad
To see the way I’ve fallen.
As if I’ve become someone
Less than I once was.
As if I’m now someone
That’s beneath all of you.
Because I work
In the job I do?”

I stood up.
And they all knew
I would be walking out
In another moment,
Or perhaps two.

“I take it none of you
Has a fucking clue
How prejudiced you are,
With such a biased view
Of life?”

I turned at started walking
toward the door.
Everyone there knew
I was leaving.
And that perhaps
I’d never talk with them
Again.

But as I headed
For the door,
I couldn’t help but take
A parting shot
At those within the room
That had such frozen hearts,
And stone deaf ears,
And eyes that no longer saw anything
Except what they wanted to.

“Just another case
Of prejudice
Hiding in plain sight.”

Since that day
I have not spoken
With any of those people.

And I never will
Again.

Not Inch By Inch

I’m celebrating. Seems I got an Honorable Mention on the #ThursdayThreads for this little piece. Honestly, I have no idea where this idea came from. It just happened. I’m echoing it here. And putting in a plug for the winner, and the other honorable mentions.

Winner : Nicole Wolverton | @nicolewolverton

Honorable Mentions :

Cara Michaels | @caramichaels

Jeffrey Hollar | @Klingorengi

Of course, all the entries in the #ThursdayThreads are good. I like seeing people try something different. And have the courage to actually put their words out there in public where they can be seen. You are all great, in my view.

And… Here’s what I wrote… All 246 words of it…

—–

Image

Not Inch By Inch

December 22, 2012. The day after. No one knew the body count or the extent of the damage. The world had ended.

Tom sat at his computer. A desktop. With a 32“ monitor. Somehow, the Internet was still there. Perhaps it was true that the ‘Net couldn’t be crashed.”

He was on Facebook, wondering how it was still around. He was lucky. His house survived. He was using wind power. He’d figured having a wind generator would come in handy someday. None of his friends was on. He wondered if they were dead, or just powerless.

Earlier, he’d read the note his buddy Steve had posted. Steve had titled it “Prophecy”, and linked several other notes to it. He called these “The Texts” and said he’d write them in the world’s last days. Tom read, starting with the prophecy. Then with December 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st. He read the texts and the prophecy.

Steve had known the world would end. He’d traveled to the coast. To the ocean. And watched the world end. Watched the tsunami come in. His last words being “Wow! What a ride!”, Then he’d died.

Tom thought Steve was the lucky one. He’d died all at once. That’s why Tom went outside. And jumped into one of the chasms that had formed in his neighborhood.

“Better to go all at once, than inch by inch.”

Cara Michaels | @caramichaels

I Love My Friends

Today, my doctor asked me
A question that he’s asked before.
“Did you love her?”

I’ve never taken the time
To actually answer him.
Until today.

“Define love.”
That’s how my answer started.
“Did I love Gina?
If I say I loved Gina,
Then I have to say
I loved Judy too.”

My doctor just smiled.
Because I know
He understood.
He’s been working with me
For over 18 months.
He better have a clue
To how I work
By now.

Yes.
I once loved Gina.
But it would seem
No one understood at all
What the heck I meant
When I said that.

Especially her.

See.
I loved Gina.
I loved Judy to.
And there are people
That I love now.

Unlike a neurotypical.
I can say the words.
If I decide to.
Because for me,
It’s just a decision.
Yes or no?
Say the words?
Yes or no?

None of that social crap
Gets in the fucking way.
That shit does not exist
To me.

You know.
Sometimes it really ticks me off
The way people behave
As if I understand the world
The same way they do.
As if they can apply
The same rules,
And guidelines,
That they apply to everyone
To me.

I told that to my doctor too.
Today.
We talked a bit about
How I never do,
And have never done,
Anything the way
That I’m supposed to.

Do you know how many times
I’ve had people look at me,
Dumbfounded.
As if I was the stupidest person
On the face of the Earth.
“Mark!
What the fuck did you do now?
Jesus Christ!
You know damn well
Not to do that!”

But they never tell me what I did.
Or why what I did
Was wrong.
They just assume I know.

There’s a reason
The word ass
Is in the word assume,
You know.

These same people
Have also said to me,
“I wish I had the guts
To do what you just did.”

What guts?
What I did
Didn’t take any courage
On my part
At all.
It was just damn
Common Sense!

Did I love Gina?
Yes.
I did.
And I’m so very disappointed
At how she behaved
When she learned I did.

But, you see.
Gina’s not the only friend
That I have ever loved.
There have been
A few of them.

Like Deb.
And Lynne.
And Kathryn too.

And there are several now.
Like two friends
From way back in high school,
Pat,
And Penny too.

And then there’s Denise.
We’ve been friends damn near forever.
And she’s gotta know by now
That she’s a beloved friend.

See.
This is what I just don’t get.
What I don’t understand.

You love your friends,
Don’t you?
There’s nothing wrong with that,
Is there?
It’s how thing ought to be,
Isn’t it?

It’s not like there’s something
Wrong with me,
Just because I love my friends.

What’s wrong,
I find,
Is how so many people
Have become so terrified
Of such a simple thing.

How did the word love
Come to mean,
“I’m going to sleep with her,
And she’ll be mine.
Or I’ll kill everyone.”

Geeze.
And you people think
That I’m fucking nuts.
Or do you really think
That you can say to me,
And speak honestly,
“If my friend were to get hit by a truck
On Monday morning,
And be dead and gone
Forever more.
I’d still come to work.”

I wouldn’t.
My heart would ache
Within my chest.
And my soul would shed at least
10,000 tears of pain.
At the simple truth
That I would never hear
That person’s voice again.
That throughout my days
I would never more receive
The gift of that person’s smile.
That I would never again see
The magic that I saw
In that person’s eyes.

Did I love Gina?
Hell yes.
And she wasn’t
The only person that I loved
In the life that was.

That’s something I had right.
In the life I that was.
That’s something
I’m not changing.
Because I’ve learned
Not to fear
The simple truth
That I love my friends.

You deny it all you want.
Lie to yourself.
And to your friends.
For there is another
Simple truth
That I know of.

You love your friends too.
You  just let your fears
Tell you what to do.
And hide from the truth
Every single day.

And you wonder
Why it is
That I don’t listen to you
Any more.

Thank God in Heaven up above
That I’m not like you.

Me

Sometimes,
I feel pressured.
As if I’m supposed to be
Doing something.
Working.
At a job.
That pays me what I’m worth.

But then,
I stop and think.
What the heck
Am I worth?

Sometimes,
I feel pressured.
As if I’m supposed to be
Doing something.
Making a plan.
With target dates.
So that I have my life
All planned out.
And know
What I’ll be doing.
When.
Where I’ll be
A year from now.
Two years.
Five years.
Even ten.

But then,
I stop and think.
What the heck
Do I want to do?

I know My Lady
Is frustrated.
With me.
She’s told me that.

She’s also told me
That she understands
How badly I was hurt.
And how long that it takes
To recover,
And to heal,
From injuries
Like the ones I had.

But still.
Sometimes,
I feel pressured.

One of my doctors,
Bless his soul,
Keeps trying everything he can
To get me back in motion.
To return me
To a life
Like everyone else leads.

With a job.
And responsibilities.
Chasing the
American Dream.

I try so very hard
To have patience.
To let everyone say
What they want to say.
And make them happy
In some way.

But…

In the end.
I have to face
The person in the mirror
Every day.

When will I pick up
The pieces of my life?
And become what everyone
Thinks that I should be?

I won’t.

I’ve decided to take the time
To find me.
That person that I lost
So many years ago.
The one that got buried
Under all the demands.
The responsibilities.
The one that I could not afford
To have.
To be.
To let exist.

That would have gotten in the way
Of me being able
To be
What everyone else
Wanted.
And needed.
Me to be.

I want to know.
Who I am.
What I believe.
What I feel.
What I think.
What I want.

Because I don’t.
And I never have.

And I know
From the pain
That I’ve been through.

That being
What I believe
Someone else needs me to be.
Someone else wants me to be.

Leads down a long
Dark
Path.

Of self-destruction.

I won’t walk that path
Again.
No matter how many times
You ask me.

I will come back to life.
On my own terms.
In my own time.
At my own pace.
In my own way.

Because I know this truth.
That I learned
The hard
And painful
Way.

I can’t be
What you want me
To be.

I have to be
Me.

Heartless Bastard

There are times,
And I’m certain of it,
That people declared to me
That I’m heartless.
That I don’t have the feelings
That they do.

Those people
Don’t understand
At all.

I’m not heartless.
I have proven that
Time and time again.

Would a heartless person
Sit here on the sofa in his home,
Wishing he could take away
The pain his son feels on this day
When she broke up with him?

Would a heartless person
Take pictures
Of his Eeyore collection,
And share them,
With someone he’s never seen,
Except in pictures
On Facebook,
In an effort
To give a smile to her?

Would a heartless person
Capture dreams and wishes,
And bring them to life
On the words of these pages
In the hope that somehow,
And someway,
It would help one of his friends
Find a moment’s peace,
Or a moment’s happiness,
On an awful day?

Would I have done
The things I did
In 2010,
When I set aside my fear,
And took up my pen,
And wrote something
Just for a friend
That was facing cancer,
Because the battle she was facing
Caused my heart to ache,
And my soul’s tears
To fall once more?

Would I have
Set aside the time
Every workday of the week
To find something funny
I could send
To a friend I worked with,
As she battled with the demon
That depression is,
Because I wanted her to know
That someone in that place
Truly cared for her?

Oh, yeah.
I’m a heartless bastard.
And I don’t care at all
For anyone
But me.

I shared a dream I had
One time.
Of what I would do
If a friend of mine
That I worked with
Ever passed beyond
The veil of life
While we still worked together.

The story of a man,
With a heart and soul,
That lost a friend.
And found a way
To remember her.
Placing one peach colored rose
Upon what had once been her desk
Every Monday morning.
When all the other people
That had worked with her
Carried on,
Day after day,
As if she’d never even
Been a part
Of their workplace.

But he remembered her.
Because she had been
His friend.

Oh, yeah.
I’m heartless.
Through and through.
Just like I’ve been told.
So many times before.

There is a friend of mine
That got injured
More than a year ago.
And is still living
With the pain
Of her injuries.

If I were
The heartless bastard
I’ve been told I am.
The evil slime
That doesn’t care for anyone
Except for himself.

Would I ask God
In heaven up above
To let me take her pain away
Every now and then.
If only for a little while.
So she could find her smile again.

Oh, yeah.
I’m keep forgetting.
I’m a heartless bastard.
As I’ve been told.

And you wonder why
I don’t listen
To the things you say to me
Anymore.

Words To The Concerned

There are some things you should know about me. First, know that I do not always behave in a “socially acceptable” way. This is because, to me, the socially acceptable way is just flat damn stupid, and designed to protect people from the truth.

I should have left the job I once had back in October of 2006. But I didn’t. Because I felt it was my responsibility to stay, and do the best I could to support the program I had been working on. For I did not wish to cause any difficulty for those that worked on the program.

I paid for that mistake. I paid dearly for that mistake. I paid by being barred from the workplace. I paid by being declared a disturbance in the workplace. I paid by being told  that a unanimous vote was taken that said I was to have no contact of any kind with anyone that I worked with. I paid with 13 weeks of medical leave in November, December and January of 2010 and 2011. I paid by being forced to undergo a battery of psychological tests to determine if I was able to return to work. I paid by having to undergo a security clearance review to determine if I was a risk to the security of my country. I paid by having all the friends I had made in 13 years of work for a customer shut me out of their existence. Permanently.

I paid for being different. For doing things a different way. For behaving differently than every last person in the workplace. For not behaving identically to every last person in the workplace. I paid for being creative. For pouring my creativity into a nightmare job for 13 years. For pushing a program forward against the wishes of everyone. For not letting things be the same on the program as they were on all the other programs throughout the customer’s facility.

I paid for not recognizing the social “rules” of that place. For not understanding why everyone signed the birthday cards that looped around, even if they didn’t know who the cards were for. For not attending social events, like lunches, or cake and ice-cream parties, when I couldn’t understand what they were for.

I paid for actually caring about other people, and trying to help them in any way I could.

If I’d have left that job in 2006, like I should have, it’s possible I would have never had to endure the punishment I endured in the job I used to have.

But, having said all of that, I now say this.

If I had not made that mistake, and endured that place of work that I came to know as “The Land of Grey”, in which everyone behaved identically, and nothing was real, and no one cared for anyone, and everyone played stupid games, with winks, and nods to each other, pretending that everything was OK, and that the way things were in that place was the way things were supposed to be in the world.

I would have never found this new life that I have now. I would have never found the diversity of voices in life that I have found. I would not have met the people I have met. I would not have come to understand that what I did when I had the guts to actually care for some of the people I worked with, and tried to help those people in any way I could, even though it meant I would be hurt, was the true thing to do. The right thing to do. The HUMAN thing to do.

I learned that I did not let fear of loosing my job stop me from doing what I believed. I learned that I did not let fear of being hurt stop me from doing what I believed. I learned that I did not let fear of being punished by the powers of the workplace stop me from doing what I believed. I learned that the structures of the workplace, and the corporate world, can only bring financial pain to me and my family. They can’t control me. They can’t tell me how to live. They can’t tell me what to believe. They can’t kill me.

I learned that pain is just another part of life. And I should not be afraid of it. Just like I should not be afraid of what I believe. Like I should not be afraid to live as I believe.

I once wrote a list of names of people that were gone. It was a list of the names of the people that ejected me from their lives. That threw me out of their workplace. That severed all communication and contact with me. That made it absolutely clear by their actions, and their behavior, that I had a choice. I could be identical to them. Or I could be ignored by them.

My answer, in the end, was to list their names. And declare that they were gone.

I find that as time passes, I feel more and more alive. More and more free. I feel that the world I live in is more and more alive. That it is filled with diversity. With hearts and souls that are different. That are still alive. And that care for so very many things. That the people I am finding now, in this new life, still believe in themselves. And in their friends, and the people that they know.

This new world is NOT a land of grey. It is a land of vibrant colors. A land filled with different people that believe different things. A land that is filled with tolerance for those differences. That does not pretend that there is only one way to be. One way to live. A land where people actually care about other people.

And among them are people that sometimes hurt. And when they hurt, I hope they know that I will do what I can. Because I know what it is to hurt. And that sometimes, all someone needs is a friendly voice. One that says, “It’s OK to hurt. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to be human.”

In July of 2010, I found a song. By Leaves’ Eyes. That stuck in my head. It’s still there. And I still hear it’s words echoing through my life. The song was “Elegy”. And the words that echo, and always will, are:

“Silent tears of a woman
Make a warrior cry.
Heaven I beg you
Please release
Hopes from fears”

When the heart of a friend aches. When a friend’s soul cries tears. I have learned to not be afraid. I’ve learned that I can help. That I can find a way to share a smile with them. That I can find a way to let them know they are not alone. That they are never alone.

That’s why the words of a new song that I recently found recently echo so deeply within me. A song by Indica. Titled “In Passing”.

“I’ll say this once:
Light up the night
Stardust!
When it hurts inside
Read all the signs
Follow
It’s okay to feel down
And just remember
That nothing’s made to last
I know you’re sad
That too will pass
That too will pass
In passing”

And as I’ve begun this new life I have been granted by life itself, I find that I am not angry with the people I used to know. Instead, I find that my heart speaks to me of them. That my soul cries tears for them. For they do not know the way they are. The fears that they live with. They do not understand at all the way that they are. The silent desperation that they all live with. The fear of being hurt. The fear of losing their job. The fear that their families could be hurt. The fear that they would have to change. The fear that they would be hurt if they cared for any of the people around them.

I find that I pray for them. Even after all that I’ve been through. And all the things that have happened. That I can’t help but believe they did to me. I find I am not angry with them. I find, instead, that I am sad for them. And sorry for them. For they have lost touch with their own hearts and souls. And they no longer know what they do, or how they live. That they simply cannot see the way they are.

To the people I once knew, I say these words. I pray for you.

To the people I know now, I say these words. I pray for you. And I am here, if you are hurt, or alone. And need to know that someone around you cares.

Mark.

Fairies : Sword (Part 1)

Mystica stood on a tree branch that hung over the lake. The surface of the lake was, as always, mirror smooth. It was several hours before the dawn. She had been awakened by a dream. She stood there. On that branch. Wrapped in her bed covers. Watching the surface of the lake. As images formed. Images of white. On a blue background. She spoke softly to the lake, “Show me the wounded boy.”

The images on the water took shape. Shifting. Swirling. Forming into a village. On the edge of body of water. The water was like nothing Mystica had ever seen. She could not see the other side of it. I wasn’t like any river, or any lake she knew of. And this water had waves. The surface was always changing. And the water made noise. Sounds. She had no idea where it was. Or what it could even be.

She continued to watch the images on the surface of the lake. As they played out a story right before her eyes. Taking her into the village. The houses there were arranged in a circle. In the center of the village there was a circular ring. The images continued, painting pictures, telling a story that left Mystica speechless.

The people of the village gathered around the circle. They were cheering. And laughing. And appeared to be having all kinds of fun. Musica watched as two very large men entered the ring. They both had braided whips. Whips with barbs on them. The kind of whips that tore skin apart if they struck that skin.

A third man entered the ring, and everyone had grown silent. Everyone had watched that one man as he spoke. Mystica sensed that he was some kind of leader. When he finished what he was saying, he turned to face the opposite side of the circle. Then he waved his arms, and two other men entered the ring. Between them was a small boy. A boy with wings. Like the wings of a butterfly. The boy was a fairy. Maybe 8 years old.

The crowd went wild. Making all kinds of noise. The two men holding the boy threw him across the ring. Straight at the two men with whips. The boy tried to gain control of his forward motion, so he could land standing. But as he did, the men with the whips struck. The whips tore into the boy. Tearing apart the skin on his arms, and legs. The boy screamed with pain. But the men with the whips continued striking him. Drawing blood from his chest. His back. His wings. His face.

They struck him many times. Mystica was so shocked she couldn’t even count. All she could do was stand there. Stunned. She had never seen anything like it. The brutality of it. Whipping a fairy boy like that. She stood there. Transfixed. Unable to look away.

When the whipping stopped, he fairy boy was prone upon the ground. Mystica had no way to know if he was alive or dead. The crowd around the circle cheered. Smiles were everywhere. The two men with the whips withdrew from the circle. The two men that had thrown the boy moved out of the circle. And the one man that was the leader, spoke once again. When he was through speaking, the crowd dispersed, and the man left the circle. Leaving the boy there. Alone.

Mystica watched the images again. And saw the boy try to move. Somehow, he was still alive.

Mystica screamed, “Merlin!” And her friend, the black magic dragon, Merlin appeared, as if he had been there the whole time. He spoke softly to Mystica.

“Scream is on his way. I can not carry you. You will need to use the White Magic to get there.”

“Where is there? I’ve never seen such a place?” As Mystica spoke, Merlin looked at the lake. And the images of the lake changed. The village shrank. Becoming a dot on the shore of a great body of water. A body that had no end. The land simply ended, and the water began. As the image changed, the Eastern edge of the Northern Forest came into view.

Merlin spoke once more, to Mystica, “Go.”

Mystica took flight. The white magic lifting her above the lake. Above the forest. And then, the magic gave her the speed that only Mystica, the White Witch, could achieve. She headed East. Streaking through the sky, above the trees. A brilliant white streak of light across the pre-dawn sky.

The sun rose. Then it set  before she reached the end of her journey. She hoped the boy was still there. Still alive.

As she approached the village, she heard Scream, the mighty dragon, as he screamed. He had arrived before her. She had known he likely would. The speed of the dragons had always been the stuff of legend. And Scream was second only to Merlin in the order of the dragons.

As the village came into sight, she saw the circle of homes. And then the circle in the center of the village. And in that circle stood Scream. He was there. Protecting the boy. There were several dead men outside the circle. They had been foolish, and attacked Scream. No human did that and lived. Mystica was saddened to see the dead. But she more than welcomed the fact that Scream had not destroyed the village. For that meant he was indeed changing. Trying not to kill. Unless he felt he had no choice.

She understood that he hadn’t wished to kill the humans. That he’d merely been defending himself, and the fairy boy. But his speed, and strength were such that without intending to, he had killed the attacking men.

Mystica floated down to stand next to Scream. Scream had screamed. A scream that could be heard for miles. That shook the homes in the village. And absolutely terrified all the villagers. When his scream was done, he had looked at Mystica, and then at the boy.

Mystica walked up to the fairy boy. She hoped he was still alive. She placed a hand on his back, feeling his back move raggedly up and down. As he breathed. He was still alive. But he was dying. And if Mystica did not act, the boy would die. And he would die very soon.

She knelt beside the boy. And put one hand on his broken, bleeding face. And one on his back. And she spoke. “Heal.” And the white magic responded. Knitting together broken bones the whips had fractured. Restoring veins, and flesh. Healing every physical wound the boy had endured.

Mystica was not done. Not by any means. She placed the boy’s head on her lap, and closed her eyes. “Free him from the pain.” Again, the white magic responded. And the little fairy boy was encased in a white glow. Mystica knew what the White Magic would do. As it encased the boy, it sank into him. Past skin. Past flesh. Into his heart. Where it found the memory of the hurt the boy had endured. The agony, and terror, of having been whipped to near death, and then left, beneath the sun, to die. In misery. And pain.

As the pain the boy was in faded away, he relaxed. The fear and hurt in him fled. And the little boy fell fast asleep. Mystica picked him up. And walked up to Scream. She handed the little boy to Scream, who cradled him in his two front arms. “Please, Scream. Please take this one home. He is one of us now.”

With those words, Scream looked to the sky, and he screamed a second time. The homes in the village shook again. And the scream carried for miles. And then, Scream flexed his wings. And took to the sky. Heading to the West. With the speed of a dragon. He was soon gone.

Leaving Mystica in the circle, in the middle of the village. All alone.

The people came out of their homes. They were not happy. They held whips. And swords. And clubs. And they surrounded the circle. And their leader spoke. “Destroy the heathen one!”

Mystica looked at the leader. And she spoke one word. “Burn.”

And white fire erupted in that village on that day. It burned through every person that lived there. One villager after another collapsed to the ground. Screaming in agony, as the white magic burned the darkness out of them. Many of the villagers fell unconscious, getting merciful release from the flames that burned through them.

The two men that had use the whips collapsed to the ground. Their hands reduced to ashes. Their chests in flames, where their hearts had been.

All that was left of the leader was a small pile of ash, where he had once stood.

When the white magic flames had burned everyone, they faded away. Leaving Mystica standing in the middle of the circle. It was then she spoke. “I will be watching you from now on. And if you should once more strike down a child as you did that fairy boy, I will be back. And I will unleash the white flames on your village once again.”

And with those words, Mystica called the White Magic to lift her, and carry her to her home.

Dreams : The Rhododendron Were In Bloom

I parked my car.
Turned the engine off.
Turned to look
At the passengers I had.
It has been a long time
Since I’d had passengers
With me.
A very long time indeed.

My passengers were young.
At least,
Compared to me.
I was pretty certain
I was older
Than their parents.
And both of them were adults.
Both being photographers.

I’d promised them
I’d bring them
To take pictures
Of the flowers
In the garden
That I love.

I couldn’t understand at all
Why they had agreed.
But then again,
It had been a long time
Since anything
Made sense to me.

I’m not that good around people.
Never have been.
And it showed.
I didn’t say much at all
On the drive to the garden.
About the only time I spoke
Was when they spoke to me.

Which pretty much translates
To talking when I had to.

Something bothered me
On the drive
To the garden
That day.
Something in the way
That they behaved.

Or perhaps.
Something in the way
They reacted to me.
I couldn’t tell.
I never knew
When I was doing
Something wrong.

I had a million questions
Racing through my head.
Was it appropriate for me
To be around
Either one of them?
I found I had to ask.
Because I knew
I wouldn’t have clue
How anyone would feel,
What anyone would think
About me taking them
To the garden on that day.

I worry about such things.
I do.
Because I just can’t tell.
I don’t feel any of the pressures
Other people do.
That silent language
That tells people
How to behave.
I’m completely deaf to it.

The only way I can figure out
How to behave
Like everyone expects
Is to make mistakes.
Do things wrong.
And learn.
Because when I ask
What’s appropriate.
No one answers.
They laugh.
Or they tell me
That everyone knows that.
And so do I.

No one understands.
I don’t.
I don’t know at all.
And God,
I wish I did.

Every bit of me
Wanted to escape.
To make sure everyone
Everywhere
Would know
The two of them
Were safe.

That I’d given them a ride
To the garden on that day.
And then I’d simply
Vanished.
So the two of them
Could have fun
Together.
Taking pictures.
Enjoying the beauty
Of that place.

I could feel the panic
That’s a part of me.
A fight or flight defense.
That had kept me alive
For so very many years.

I knew.
I knew
I’d take flight.
The first chance I got.

That’s when the youngest
Of the two of them
Stopped me
Dead in my tracks.

“Show me
Where your favorite flowers are
At this time of year.
I’ve only been here
A few times.
So I don’t know
Where to look.”

That young lady
Looked right at me,
“Show me.
Please.”

All I could do
Was stand there
For a bit.
And look at my two hands.
Shaking like leaves.
As I told myself
Several times,
“Breathe.
Just breathe.”
Until my hands
Calmed down.
And I was able to get past
The fear I was feeling.

At which point
The second of the two
Smiled.
And nodded.
And said,
“Yes. Please show us.
Please won’t you?”

I knew what time of year it was.
I knew what part of the garden
Was in full bloom.
I’d been there
A few days before.

I visited the garden
At least once a month.
And many months
In spring and summer,
I visited the garden
More than once.

I nodded my head,
yes.
And away we went.
The two of them
Walking with me.
Through the garden.
Down the trails.
To where I knew
The rhododendron
Were in full bloom.

Where the two of them
Could take all the pictures
That they wanted too.

And as I walked
Through the rhododendron,
I forgot.
I forgot all the things
That bother me.
All the things
I have to think about.
The things that I don’t know.

And once more
In the garden
That I love.

I was free.

Free to feel.
Free to smile.
Free to cry.
Free to laugh.
Free to be.
Me.

But even then,
I kept off to the side.
And tried to stay
Out of their way.
So they could take the pictures
That they wanted to.
And not worry about me.

So that I would know
That I could not do something
That was not normal.
Something that would disturb them.
So that they would be
Safe from me.

When the trip was over,
And we returned to the car,
They both noticed
I’d grown quiet once more.

That’s when they told me
How much they’d enjoyed
Visiting the garden.

And the oldest of the two
Said something to me
That I’d heard before.
Perhaps a thousand time.
But I’d never understood it
Until then.

“Why are you
So very hard
On your self?
It bothers me.
It bothers us.
To see you
Hurt yourself
The way you do.”

Then the young one spoke,
“We came here with you.
Because you are our friend.
And we wanted to
Walk through the garden
With you.
And take pictures
With you too.”

The oldest spoke once more.
“What’s wrong?
What’s bothering you?”

No one had ever asked me that
Before.
And I was completely lost.
Not knowing what to say.
Or what to do.

And I remembered,
As I stood there,
Unable to speak.
Shaking like crazy.
Trying to remember
Just to breathe,
The words that someone
Had told me
Many years before.

“Why are you so hard on yourself,
My dear friend?
Don’t you know how much
It hurts me
To see you treat yourself
That way?”

I don’t know how,
But I found my voice
On that day,
As we got ready
To get into the car.
When we would all return
To our separate homes.

That’s when I finally spoke.

“I don’t know how
To care for me.”
I looked straight at the ground.
“I never learned.”

And those few words
Would bring more change to me
Than any words,
Or any thing,
That I’d said
Or done
Before.

For I finally understood
What I had to learn.

I had to learn
What the two of them,
And the others
I call my friends,
Saw in me
That I didn’t.

I had to learn
Why they cared for me.
And then perhaps,
Some day.
I could learn
To care for me too.