Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2019/06/02

The deck at the end of the walkway was it. There was nothing else, nothing left to explore, nowhere left to go, nothing left to see, or do. I’d walked out to the deck, the walkway just above the surface of the lake, and sat down.

“Is this all there is?” That’s the voice I kept hearing in my head. “Is this all there is?” I knew what it meant. It was the most obvious question I’d ever heard, really. “Is this all there is?”

I remember my mother, when I was in 10th grade, only 15 years old, “Do you have a plan for your life?” It was the same way with everyone. “What are you going to be when you grow up?” “What are you going to do for a living?”

The walkway was a straight line, maybe 100 feet long. It started at the edge of the lake, and extended straight out. At the end of it was the deck. I remember the guy at the lodge desk explaining, “This is one of the best features of the hotel. You can go out at night, under the stars, and the moon, and sit on the deck, and watch the stars, and the lake, and forget everything.”

My room was on the second floor of the building, its windows looked out over the lake. I could open the curtains with the lights out, and stay inside, and watch the lake from there. Like most people did. Sitting on the deck, I could see them, standing in the windows, or sitting in the chairs they’d pulled over to the windows.

They couldn’t feel the breeze. Hear the birds, frogs, crickets, or anything else. They were in the sealed environments of their rooms. Safe. Secure. With everything controlled. Planned. Organized.

On that deck I found myself thinking about limits to life, and how we make those limits. How we stop growing, exploring, learning, and settle into a single place, and never leave. Like walking to the deck on that walkway. A one way trip, with a known ending. Predictable. Safe.

If you stayed on that walkway, and that deck, you’d never touch the water of the lake. You could stick your feet or hands into the water, reaching over the edge. Almost no one ever did. If you stayed on that course, stuck with that plan, you’d never reach the other side of the lake. The walkway didn’t go that far. You’d never see what was hidden among the trees way over there. And those distant hills would remain distant hills.

If you stayed on that walkway, eventually you’d learn everything about it. Where to step to make something squeak. Where to step to be silent. What the walk was like in the rain. Perhaps, someday, you’d carry a chair out to the deck, and sit there. Or a computer, notebook, or book. Maybe you’d wander out with an easel, and paints, and try to paint the view.

But you’d always be on that same path. That same walkway. That same deck. Sometimes, there might be clouds, so you couldn’t see the stars. Sometimes, there might be smoke from a fire somewhere. Perhaps, one night it might be raining, with lightning, and you’d stay inside.

But always, the path would be the same. The walk would be the same. The end point would be the same. Nothing would ever change.

Then, I wondered, what would happen if you got a canoe, carried it out to the deck, put it on the water, and climbed into it. Would that break the rules? What would happen? Or, perhaps, you could carry that canoe to somewhere along the shore, and put it on the lake there, and climb into it.

In that canoe, you could cross the lake. Or go all the way around it, seeing the entire shore up close. You could pick a place on that shore, and land the canoe, get out, and explore.

You could change. You could grow. You could do something different.

Instead of walking the same path every day, to the same destination, and the same result.

Perhaps that’s why whoever build the walkway and the deck built them. To remind people. To remind us. To remind me. That I didn’t have to settle for the same path every day. The same endpoint. The same story.

That instead, I could make my own path, change where the journey went, and end up someplace new, someplace different. Maybe it wouldn’t be safe. Maybe it would be better. Maybe it wouldn’t. And that didn’t matter. What mattered was, I didn’t have to walk the same path every day, endlessly. I could leave the well worn, well traveled path. And try something different.

I spent the night staring at the stars, and the surface of the lake. I’d found what I’d been searching for. What I’d been missing for years. A single word.


It was past time that I did. “And I wonder. What will I find on the far side of the lake?”

844 Words

It’s week 109 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.


#VisDare 43 : Memory

The eagles asked me to take Alice to a second place. As I did, Alice pulled me to a stop. “I can’t.”

I took both her hands in mine. “Why?”

“You don’t know, do you?”

I softly touched her cheek with my fingertips, as I closed my eyes. Alice pressed my hand against her face. And I saw her memories. She stood in the small glade the eagles told me about. She was much younger. I saw her speaking to a butterfly, her eyes closed, as she listened to the stories it shared with her.

I saw members of the horde pour through the walls of the glade, destroying it. I learned what they’d done to Alice that day. When she was just a child.

I’d seen enough. I kissed her. I held her.

“Alice. It’s time for things to change.”

She kissed me. “I’ve looked for you so long.”

150 Words

This is part 27 in the continuing story I’m working on for Angela Goff’s Visual Dare. Please read the other entries in this week’s Visual Dare challenge.

If you wish to read the entire tale, you can find it, starting with Part 27, running back to Part 1, here.

Time Only Flows One Way

I remember asking her
What she wanted.
I remember what she answered.
“I want my life back.”

Such a simple wish.
A wish I know
She’ll never have.

This world is not static.
It changes.
All the time.
Every day.

Study time.
The best we understand
Right now.
Time only flows one way.
And it may well be
There’s no going back.

Let’s be honest here.
She had breast cancer.
The surgeries.
The chemotherapy.
There is no way her world,
Her life,
Can ever be the same.
No matter how much
She tries to make it.

There is no going back.

She believes there is.
Like so many people
I have known.
So many I know now.

Like the one that’s divorced.
He left her
With their child.
To raise on her own.
I don’t care how you look at it.
She’s not who she was then.
She’s changed.

I suppose I could
Argue with myself
That what people really mean
When they say those words,
“I want my life back,”
Is that they really want
To be happy once again.
To feel safe.
To feel loved.
To feel whole.

The way they once did.

I wish I had some way
To explain to them
What I know now.
What I’ve learned.
Having walked through hell.
Having lost everything,
Save for my family.
And those few people I call
True friends.

Having had to make a choice
To start my life over
From the ashes of what was.

Was there any doubt
That I could not return?
My doctor knew.
My children knew.
My love knew too.
And deep down,
Even I knew.

I could not return
To the life I’d had.
To the work I’d done.
Because of one simple truth.

I’ve changed.

I know how that life works, now.
Why people do the things they do
In that land of gray.
That land of work.

I understand what was said to me
Back then.
When I didn’t understand at all
How that world worked.

And each day I ask the universe,
How badly are they hurt?
And will they ever know?

My soul cries tears of pain,
And my heart aches once again,
When I hear the answer
From the universe.
For most of them.
It’s no.

They’ll believe,
Like they do now.
That nothing’s wrong.
That everything’s the way
It’s meant to be.

And they’ll do anything
To keep the life they have.
The house.
The car.
The things.
The trappings of success.

It’s the way that world is.
The way it works.
Do what you have to.
Put up with the rules.
Put up with the politics.
Become a human resource.
And expendable part
In an economic machine.
So you can get the things you want.
And be safe.
And be secure.

Because that defines

And I can’t ever live
In that world again.
That’s why I can’t go back.

I see that world for what it is.

I’d rather have a new life.
A true life.
Where people matter.
Their hopes.
Their fears.
Their dreams.
Their wishes.

A world where people matter.
Where they care
For each other.
And aren’t afraid
Of what the company will think
If they take the time
To help a friend in need.
Of what the people around them
Will do.
How those people
Will behave.

I’ve abandoned that world.
It’s too much like the churches
I’ve abandoned too.

Where you have to be the same.
Feel the same.
Act the same.
Have the same values,
And beliefs.

I told my doctor, Monday,
The words she’d said to me.
And then I laughed
At the thought
Someone would want to go back
To how things used to be.

And then I couldn’t talk.
It was so very sad to me
That someone couldn’t really see
Things can never be the same.
That time only flows one way.

I can’t go back.
Even if I wanted to.
And I don’t want to
At all.

I’ll go with the flow
Of time.
And see what it is
The future holds
For me.

Because unlike what she said to me.
I don’t want my life back.
That life’s dead and gone.
It’s in my past.

I’ll keep moving on.
Making a new path.
In this new life
The universe
Has given me.

A Little Faith

It has occurred to me.
If I am afraid to try.
If I am afraid of life.
Why am I still here?
Why am I slowly reaching for
New things?
Why am I slowly bringing
Dreams to life?

I’ve got a job.
Had it for a year now.
I know
It’s not the best job.
But it’s a good first step
Into a life
I never had.
A life
I denied myself.

A lot of people act
As if the job I have
Is all wrong for me.
That I should have a job
Like the one
I used to have.
Before all this started.
Two years ago.

They don’t know.
They don’t understand.
They see the world
Differently from me.

I didn’t get this job
By sheer dumb luck.
I picked it.
I waited.
And when it was time.
I applied for it.
I chose it.

Because it gives me
What I need
In my life right now.

Time to heal the wounds
In my heart and soul.
Time to change my course
Through life.
Time to write.
Time to dream.
Time to learn new things.

There’s nothing wrong at all
With the job I have right now.
Nothing at all.

I want to write, you know.
I always have.
It’s always been a dream
Of mine.
One that I gave up,
‘Cause everybody knows,
You can’t make a living
Writing stories.

I had to grow up.
Get a real job.
Be an adult.
Not a dreamer.

So here I am.
With the job I know
Most people don’t approve of.
I can almost hear them say,
“It’s sad.
So sad.
What happened to him.
The fall he’s made.
The broken person
He’s become.
He’ll never be the same.”

Just another victim
Of the ways of life.
We’ll leave him behind.
He fell by the wayside.
But the rest of us
Are OK.

I hear those voices.
Hear those thoughts.
And I know them
To be false.

For the truth is something more.
I changed.

I’m not the person
I once was.
I’m me.
The way I’m meant to be.

And with time.
And patience,
I’ll learn
The things I need to learn.
To breathe life
Into the dreams I have.

Step by step.
Day by day.
I’ll find a way
To use the skills I have
To help those around me.

And one day at a time,
I’ll find a way
To write.

I can’t help but feel
I’m on my way.

I just need
To have a little faith
In me.

No One There But Me

I’m afraid of being alone.
With myself and no one else.
When there’s no one to talk with.
Except for me.

But I’m learning.

I’ll have completed
The next step of my journey
When I can spend time
With no one but me.
And being alone
Doesn’t hurt me
Any more.

When I’ve learned
How to appreciate me.
The things I like.
The things I feel.
I know right now
I don’t.
At least not all that much.

I have a lot of fears
Of being alone.
If having to face me.
Having to deal with me.
Openly and honestly.

I have a lot of things
I have to change.
Things I have to relearn.
Rules I have to break.
And when those rules are broken,
I have to sweep away
Their remains.
Not let them be rebuilt.

There are so many things
I’ve got go change.
But they all come down
To the same thing.

I have to learn
Not to hate myself.
Not to be afraid of me.

That I’m not defined
By how many people I know.
By how many friends I have.
By how well I get paid.
By how big my house is.
By how nice my car is.

None of those things matter,
In the end.
When you get down to it
What matters most of all
Is learning
To live with myself.

And that’s what I’m working on
Right now.
In this journey
That began
Two years ago.

I’ve come so very far
In only 24 months.
How far, you might ask.

Far enough to know
And understand
I have to learn
To live
With me.

So that on afternoons like this.
When I’m at home.
With only me.

I won’t hide from myself.
I won’t find endless things
To kill off time with.
So that I won’t feel
Like everything’s wrong.

So that I’ll be content
To be alone.

With no one there
But me.

Perhaps It’s Time

I stared into the mirror.
For a long time.
Trying to find something.
Positive to say.
Positive to think.

All I could see
Was a trail of destruction.
A trail of fire.
A trail of anger.
And pain.

It’s no one’s fault.
I know that.
What happened.
It’s no one’s fault.
Trying to blame someone
Would be like trying
To hold someone responsible
For the rain.

It rains where it rains.
It rains when it rains.
No one is to blame.

I used to think I’d grown.
Think I’d changed.
Believed I’d gotten through
The worst of things.
That I understood
The world I never made.
And could cope with it.
Live in it.
Let it be
The way it is.

And so very gray
To me.

I stared into the mirror
For a while.
Oh the things I said
Inside my head.
To myself.

I’ve tried.
God, how I’ve tried.
I try every day.
To keep that last bridge
Between the life I had.
And the life that’s growing now.

With what happened today.
I’m not sure I can.
Not sure it’s worth
The pain.
The effort.
The stress.

It takes so very much
To not be angry.
When everyone you knew
Abandoned you.
Just because
You changed.

And it’s not really like I changed.
Not really that at all.
The truth is far more simple.
Far more plain.

I woke up.
I opened my eyes.
Like Neo
In the Matrix.
I unplugged.

I live in a world these days
That is filled with color.
With people that are so
Very much alive.
People that embrace
And let me be
Who I am.
Let me believe
What I believe.
That don’t expect me
To be just like them.

Except for that bridge.

I don’t want to burn that sucker down.
I don’t.
There are people on the other side
I really do like.
That honestly
Just don’t understand
And why I’ve become
So very critical
About the way things are.

I let them be their way.
I try.
Oh, how I try.
To not say anything.
To let them do
What they believe.
Live how they believe.
Be how they believe.

I’ve asked God now
For better than one year
To not give up on them.
To find a way
To wake them up.
Like He did me.

But I know
They won’t.
They won’t ever see.
Won’t ever know.
Won’t ever change.

They don’t see any reason to.
They don’t see any need.
To them
Everything’s the way
It’s supposed to be.
Or just so damn close
That it’s close enough.
That they’re OK
With the way things are.

I know so very many
New people now.
The kind of people
That the folks
On the other side
Of the bridge
Wouldn’t understand.
Wouldn’t accept.
Would ask me what I see
In them.

They’d call my new friends
Call them wrong.
Call them sinners.
The Devil’s spawn.

I stared into the mirror
For a while today.
Oh, the things I had to say
To me.
They would hurt you
If you heard them.
I know this.

And in the end
I have to ask
If it’s time.
Time to take
Another step.
And burn that one last bridge
To the ground.

Can I leave that bridge standing
And ever truly be free
From the self-hatred,
And self-denial
That once owned me.
In that world
I never made.

I wish I knew the answer.
I wish I knew.

Now, I have to think a while
And figure out.
What I will do.
What’s best for me.
So that I can take
The next step forward
In this new life
I’ve been given.

Perhaps the best thing
I could do
Is nothing.
Is just watch.
And wait.
And see.
What the people
On the far side
Of that bridge do.

Maybe I won’t have to do a thing.
Maybe they’ll burn down that bridge.
To keep their world
Safe from my new friends.
Safe from me.


I’m in hiding.
It’s true.
I’ve taken my abilities.
My technical skills.
Carefully crafted through decades.
And put them on a shelf.
In a cave.
Where no one can see them.

No one deserves to see them.
The last time I used them.
The last time I put them on display.
The last time they were visible.

I got wounded.
Gods, did I get hurt.
And I still feel that pain.
I suspect I always will.
Kind of like the way
My knees, and ankles ache
Every single day.
From the injuries
They have survived.

But at least I use them.

I don’t use the skills
I carefully crafted
Over 30 years.
I haven’t touched them
Since 2010.

My doctor tells me
Every week.
I need to use those skills.
There’s a marketplace for them.
People everywhere
That could use my help.
That I could share
All the things I know,
All the things I’ve learned.
To help people.

“Start a business of your own.”
That’s what he says to me.
Every single week.

He’s right.
I know.
If I do that.
I’ll use the skills I have.
The things I know.
To help other people.

And the crap.
The politics.
The social environments.
That tore my heart apart
Two years ago.

Those will be gone.
I won’t have to deal with them.
Won’t have to wonder
If I’m doing something wrong
In the land of work.
Every day that I wake up.

My interest is still there.
In the skills I’ve hidden.
I take them out
When no one can see them.
When I’m at home.

And I use them.
All the time.
But I keep them to myself.
Because a world I never made.
Ripped my heart
Out of my chest.
And stomped on it.

And made me stand there
And watch
While they did.

That world does not deserve
Access to my skills.

That’s why my skills are hidden.
On a shelf.
In my home.
Where no one can see them.
Save for me.
And my family.

But perhaps.
I could be time
For another change.


Bring The Rain

Why are you afraid of pain?
Why are you afraid of being hurt?
Of feeling sad.
Of crying tears.

Why are you afraid
That your heart will ache?
Of your soul’s tears?

Don’t you know?
Don’t you understand?
That’s a part of life.
Without it
We don’t grow.
We don’t change.
We don’t become
Who we are meant to be.

We become like the desert.

What would happen
If it never rained?
If there were never clouds
In the sky above?
If every day
Was the same?
A perfect summer day.

What would that be like?
Wouldn’t that get old?
Wouldn’t that become
A barren wasteland?
Devoid of anything
But sand?

Do you stay inside
When it’s cold?
When it snows?
Because it’s no fun at all
To be stuck outside
In the ice and snow.
It’s just damn cold.

Do you stay inside
When it rains?
So you don’t get wet.
Don’t get soaked
To the bone?

Does it bother you
When someone does not smile?
When someone around you
Or even cries?

Is the only thing you want
In your entire life
Sunny days,
And perfect skies?

Does it seem to you
That bad days never end?
Do they seem so awful
You find yourself doing
Anything you can
To avoid another one of them?

What are you afraid of?

It’s just a feeling.
Feeling sad.
Feeling hurt.
Feeling bad.
A feeling.
Nothing more.

Your heart still beats.
You can still breathe.

All you need
Is patience.
For if you wait
What you feel
Will change.

It always has.
It always will.

After the events I endured
Two years ago.
I know things change.
That no two days
Are ever quite the same.

Some days are beautiful.
Filled with sunshine,
And blue skies.
Other days are dark.
The sun hidden
By gray clouds,
And rain.

Is filled with change.

Is that what you’re afraid of?

I only ask because
I know that I once was.

But I’ve learned
That without change.
I’d become trapped.
In a dead-end life.
In a cold, dead world.
Where nothing mattered to me
Any more.

I’m not afraid of change

Bring the sunshine,
Because it’s a beautiful thing.
But also.
Bring the rain.

I want to live a whole life.
A full life.
I want to grow.
I want to change.
To become
Who I’m meant to be.

I don’t want a life
That never changes.
I’ve already had one of those.
I want a life that evolves.
A life that grows.
A life that makes me
Feel alive.

Not trapped
In a desert world.
Where every day’s
The same.
And nothing ever changes.

That’s why I say,
Bring the rain.


I Wonder What It Means

What does it mean,
I wonder,
When the mentally ill male
Of a group
Of 30 males
Donates platelets
24 times a year.
And sends money
At least twice a year
To the Breast Cancer Society.

And the other 29 males,
Normal people that they are,
Don’t donate any time,
Or any money

What does it mean,
I wonder,
When the single female
In that group,
Gets diagnosed with breast cancer.
And fights the battle
Of her life.

And the only male within that group
That changes at all.
Is the one that’s mentally ill.

The depressed one.
The autistic one.
The one that doesn’t care
About anyone.
The one with no empathy.
That can’t even understand
A simple request to please sit down
When he’s offered a chair.

How would you feel
If I were to tell you
What I describe above
Is true.
That it really happened.

That I’m that one person
In that group.
The mentally ill one.

And the only one
That changed
Because of what happened
To someone I knew.
To someone I worked with.
For several years.

Can you tell me what that means?
Can you tell me what it says?
About how people are?

I’ve learned
I’m not uncaring.
I’m not ruthless.
I’m not heartless.
Not at all.

And I wonder
All the time.
Why no one that I knew
Even notices
The things they do,
Or the way they are.

I wonder what it means
If the one that’s different,
The one that just does not fit in.

Is the one
With the living,

And the normal ones
Are not.

In Transition – Sunday, 10 June 2012

Well. This is one of those mornings that I wish I could avoid. One of those mornings when I wish I didn’t have to hear the questions echoing in my head. One of those mornings when parts of me are confused, and parts of me are tired, and parts of me are feeling things I just don’t understand.I used to have a normal job. Working 40 hours a week. With benefits. Like vacation. And holidays. And even sick days. And I made 4 times what I make now. But. That all changed. That all ended. 20 months ago.

I work at Best Buy now. In a part-time job. And I can’t help but feel that there are people who think I should be doing something else. Something “more worthy” of a person with my skills, and experience.

Trouble is, I don’t really know what I want to do. Other than write. I’ve learned that writing’s part of me. Part of my heart and soul. When I don’t write, I’m not OK. And it shows.

Yes, I’ve got technical skills. I can, if I take the time, and put in the effort, make a computer do pretty much anything I want it to. 29 years of writing and maintaining software applications on computers of all kinds demonstrates that. And those skills do show when I am helping customers at the counter of Geek Squad. Even the other people on Geek Squad have noticed them.

But I feel as if that part of my life is over. Done. Ended. That I’ve played that game of employment. That I’ve put in my time, living within the confines of that type of work. And that I don’t want to be restrained that way any more. I’ve already said I won’t ever work in the Defense Industry again. I didn’t say that lightly. The nature of that industry wounds me. And the wounds don’t heal. They build. Layer on top of layer. Until I come apart. As I did 20 months ago.

I’ve spoken with my lady. About taking classes at TCC. “What type of classes do you think I should take?” She knows me. She answered. Saying I should take the type of classes that interest me.

It’s hard to have patience with myself sometimes. Hard to start over. From nothing. Hell, I’m 53 years old. I’m not supposed to be starting from nothing, am I? I’m supposed to be at the peak of my career. Right? That’s what everyone thinks, isn’t it?

And somehow, I’m between two lives. That career that I’m supposed to be in, and doing so well in. It’s over. Done. Ended. And I find myself thinking, “Is this what life is like for people who retire? Do they wonder what to do? How to pass the time?”

When I take the time to explore the jobs market, and the reported earnings for various jobs, I find that what I’m earning per hour at Best Buy is actually above the median earnings per hour for a retail employee. So, I can’t complain about my current income. I look at the median income for various other categories of work. And I find they range from $10 an hour to $20 an hour.

So, the odds of me having an income that even begins to approach what I had in the career that’s over, are almost non-existent. At the best, I might find something where I can earn half of what I did. But… Do I want to?

That’s the question I face now. The question most people consider answered in college. When they plan what they will do with the rest of their lives, as a member of our society. That’s how things are supposed to work.

But things change, don’t they. And the economy has changed. And is changing. I know plenty of people my age that have had their careers come to an end. And not by choice. They got laid off. Let go. And then spent months trying to get back into the same type of work they were doing. Some of them have been laid off twice now. Some even more. Because things are changing.

So, I work at Best Buy. I like to think of it as a “sustenance income”. Where I’m bringing in the money I have to bring in. And while in that job, I can explore the question, “What do I want to do with the rest of my life?” I can explore the question, “Where do you want to be in a year?”

Perhaps it’s time for me to take some classes at TCC. And explore new things. Perhaps that’s where I am in life. In a holding pattern. An in-between time. When I’m supposed to rest. And heal the wounds of the past. Exploring other parts of life. Until I find where I’m supposed to be. What I’m supposed to do. Until I can find answers to the questions that I have at this point in life. Until I have an answer to the question, “What next?”

Perhaps this is where I’m supposed to be. Having finished the career I was supposed to have. Having earned the opportunity to change. To learn. To live. And to explore life. Finding out who I really am. And what my dreams are. What I wish to do, and who I wish to be.

I’ll take a look at the classes offered at TCC. And this fall, I’ll take one or two. That just may be the next step for me to take as I cross this gap between what I once was, and what I am to be. I don’t have to panic. I have time. For once. I have time.