Hanging Rock State Park, Tuesday, 30 September 2014

It is now 1907 hours, per the Chromebook. We are now settling into the tent for the first of our three nights here, at campsite 14, in Hanging Rock State Park, North Carolina. This is our second visit to Hanging Rock. We visited last October, for 3 nights. As a result, I’m less stressed being here this year than I was last year.

It’s an autistic thing. No. Really. It is. As much as I like to explore new places, the act of exploring them places me under a ton of stress. Because I’m in an unfamiliar environment, which means I don’t know what can happen, how to respond to whatever does happen, how to behave in a social situation in the new environment.

Yeah, yeah. I know. Everybody knows how to behave in any given setting, and can figure it out by observing body language, tone of voice, eye signals, and all the other forms of unspoken communication people have, and use.

Autistic. Remember? That means I don’t pick up on those very things. Yep. Look at me like I’m out of my mind, and I very likely won’t notice.

So, being here a second time means I am less stressed this trip. Because I have some experience in this environment, and some frame of reference to draw from. And that’s a good thing. It means I’ll have more fun, and take more pictures, and experiment more with my camera this trip.

Now…. Now, I want to change the rules, and do something I know how to do. Capture a dream, a feeling, a moment, and put it on paper.

This afternoon, after we set up the tent, we hopped in the xB, and drove to the Lower Cascades Water Fall of the park. The fall is beautiful. What waterfall isn’t? The top is next to a rock face nearly as tall as the fall. At the base of that rock face where the water pulls away, heading toward the cascade, lies a moss and fern garden that could only grow in such a place, partly shielded from the sun, and receiving all the water it needs from the fall. The water plummets down the fall, into a cove. The water of the cove is calm, almost still. You can watch the ripples of leaves as they fall from the trees, trace the paths of the water bugs, as they flit about on its surface. Beside the waterfall, and the cove is an ancient rock face, laced with cracks, nooks, crannies, and holes. Trees, flowers, weeds, grasses, mosses, and lichen grow from the cracks, bringing splashes of green to the somber gray of the rock.

You would love to see it. No picture can ever do it justice.

We took pictures, of course. Lots of pictures. I experimented with camera settings, trying to shorten the exposure time so I could take a picture without the blur of moving the camera. After I finished playing with my camera, I decided to try something different. I turned off my camera, and took the time to experience the place.

The colors, so many shades of green in the trees, grasses, mosses, leaves. splashes of white flowers accenting the scene here and there. The glistening wet rock of the fall. The clarity of the water. The roots of trees, spread on the ground, looking for ways into and through the rock.

The sounds of the fall, of its echo of the rock face in the cove, of the cascades to the far side of the cove. How they washed away the sounds of city life. No cars, no horns, no machines, no phones. Just the sounds of water flowing over rocks.

Then, the rock itself. I closed my eyes, and felt it. Not cold, and unfeeling. Old. Ancient. It was there before humans existed. It will be there after we’re all gone. It has seen so much. It has been there so long.

As I have been known to say, every once in a while. Close your eyes and dream.

Close your eyes and dream.


#MWBB Week 2.13 : The Ace Of Spades

“What the hell were you doing?”

Yeah. I’d pissed her off again. “Being me, babe. Being me.” I waved at her from my wheelchair. “Doc said it’ll be two weeks before I can walk.”

She rolled her eyes. “Sometimes I wish it’d be twenty years.”

“I’m betting I’ll be up in 10 days.” I grinned, and she gave me that over my dead body look. I hid my grin, and looked at the floor, between my knees. “Yes, dear.”

I knew she got tired of me hurting myself. Sprained ankles, separated shoulders, cracked ribs, broken wrists, I’ve had them all. It’s a thing. A play hard thing. She don’t understand. I work hard. All day. Every day. That’s why I play hard. And the harder I work, the harder I play.

Stress management. I told her that, once. “It’s a stress management thing.”

She said it was more of a stress manglement thing. I think she meant I was letting stress mangle me. Or something like that.

“Bobby called and told me he’d hauled you’re sorry ass here.”

“Bobby’s lucky he didn’t end up in here with me.”

“What happened this time?”

I’d known she’d ask that question. Her way of asking what stupid thing I’d done this time. “I always wanted to rappel down the cliff at Mount Black. You know that.”

“So, you talked Bobby into going with you?”

“Bobby and Kale. You gotta have two spotters when you rappel. You know that.”

She took a deep breath, and slowly let it out. I took that as a good sign she wasn’t gonna punch me in the face. “So, you had two spotters, and still broke your leg?”

“It was a freak thing. No one saw that rock coming loose.”

“Tell me what happened.”

“I started down. It’s about a hundred feet, you know. Bobby stayed at the bottom, Kale went up with me.” I didn’t tell her about the climb up. How Kale fell down three times, and had bruises on his ass, and both knees. I swear, that boy can’t carry a toothbrush with him, and walk down a flight of stairs without killing his self. I bet he’d be walking with a limp for at least a week. Skinned his knees all up. Tore holes right through his jeans.

“We hooked the gear to the biggest damn tree we could find, and dropped the line to Bobby, and waited till he screamed he was ready. Then, I started down.” So, we didn’t pick the biggest tree. We picked one that worked. The tree wasn’t the problem. And we picked the highest point we could find. The longest way down.

“About thirty feet from the bottom, I found a rock to stand on. It stuck out of the cliff.”

She shook her head. “Idiot.”

“Yeah. I know.” I stood on the rock, and it held. Until after I started down again. “I started down again, and I got maybe ten feet when the rock came out of the cliff, and fell. Sucker smacked my leg. I’s pushing off the wall, and the rock hit me while all my weight was on my leg.” I looked at my lovely wife. “It was an accident.”

“I know. I know.” She shook her head. “You’re gonna be the death of me, you know.”

Yeah. I knew. But what else could I do? I worked hard. So I played hard. That’s just how it was.

574 Words

This is my entry for Year 2, Week 13 (Week 2.13) of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other stories in the challenge.

#MondayMixer : In The Badlands

In two days all Sir Reston had seen was  dirt, rocks, boulders, barren hills and mountains, strange, giant potholes and scruffy brush. There were no people, buildings, homes, roads, trails, or even trees anywhere.

At least they left him his bilbo when they dumped him in the middle of the prosaic badlands of South Dakota with no food, and no water. He’d set his shirt on some rocks the first night, so it could collect dew. He’d managed to wring out a couple of swallows of water from his shirt, but it wasn’t enough. He needed to find more water. Soon.

He swore, if he found water, and survived, he would find the people who left him in the badlands. And he would make them pay for what they’d done to him. But first, he had to find water in the badlands. He had to survive to get his revenge.

150 Words

I wrote this little ditty for Jeffery Hollar‘s weekly Monday Mixer flash fiction challenge. Please, go read all the other entries in this week’s challenge. They are all well crafted.