Farewell


Farewell

 Van_Gogh_-_Starry_Night_-_Google_Art_Project

A twinkling star shone bright for me

One night I asked it why.

Its twinkling light diminished,

And then it vanished in reply.

I pondered long what I had done

To cause the star to go.

I ponder of it still today

Perhaps I’ll never know.

The Field Trip


 

I had suffered my fair share of tragedy even at the tender age of 7 years old.  There was the time I dropped my treasured Christmas snow globe and it shattered all across the pastel orange adobe tiles of our kitchen, it’s pretty snowflakes glistening all the while.  At the time I had thought they had been mocking me, but I now realize that they had merely been, in their own way, waving farewell.  There was also the time that I had gotten a new kaleidoscope and then managed to get my pointer finger stuck in it.  It had been stuck with such ferocity that it took a handyman’s pliers to shatter the damn thing before he could get it off.  And then there was the time that my 2nd grade class took a field trip to a field.

 

     I have spent many hours wondering what had possessed the teachers to go on this trip.  What would make someone think kids would spending a whole day in a fucking field?  Boredom?  Madness?  Drugs?  I doubt my teachers acutely suffered from any of these things, and so I have now come to the conclusion that the school’s budget for field trips would decrease if the whole thing wasn’t used.  The teachers, not wanting to give up the awesome field trips like the Bluebell ice cream factory or Publix, stitched together a corpse of a field trip, strapped it to a metal table, and shot 10,000 volts of electricity into it to see if it would come to life.  It never did.  The real world, it seems, doesn’t work that way.  More’s the pity, really.  I can’t think of a more pleasurable experience than lying in one’s grave, contentedly dead, only to be woken up by a lighting bolt searing through one’s extremities and the demented cackle of some German scientist.

 

     Regardless of their intentions, it was the second worst field trip I’ve ever been on.  The worst one is still talked about in the hushed hours of the night by the students who participated in it, when the candlelight grows dim as the flame reaches the end of its tallow and a cool breeze makes the curtains flutter.  I dread even now to transcribe the horrible events that took place.

 

During my 7th grade year, a teacher of mine, let’s call her Mrs. Paperclip, had begun teaching some sort of conservation science course at a local university while she worked towards her doctorate.  She was an intelligent if not incredibly bothersome individual, and somehow managed to convince out middle school’s administration that the student should help her conduct her research.  She happily loaded us up into a crowded yellow bus without any air conditioning, madness in south Florida, and drove us out into the everglades, which I considered then, and still sometimes consider now, to be the most boring place on the planet.

 

     Most people seem to think the everglades is all water.  It isn’t.  There’s land too.  Land with soil that’s practically begging for a middle schooler’s trowel to dig it up and sample it’s density.  For 8 long hours.  In the late spring.  It was hell.  I’ve always been able to relate to movies like “O brother where art thou,” and “The Rundown,” because I’ve lived it.  I’ve been that convict smashing rocks on a Mississippi street, I’ve lived the life of one of Christopher Walken’s slaves in the diamond mines of South America.  We toiled and toiled and toiled.  The process was straightforward: one student held a piece of rebar with depth measurements on the surface of the soil, then another student struck it with a mallet until it hit rock, and and then the rebar student measured the depth. Lastly, a student with a trowel would come and take a soil sample.  Stab, bang, measure, dig; stab bang measure, dig; stab, bang, measure, dig.  I’m still surprised no one died from heat stroke.

 

     The field trip to the field wasn’t as bad as all that, but it was infinitely more disappointing.  No one ever pretended that the field trip to mine the everglades would be fun, and no one expected it to be.  We all knew what was asked of us, and we just kept calm and carried on with a sort of sullen persistance that would have made the British proud.  They told us the field trip to the field would be fun.  They said we would have a blast eating picnics and playing in all the flowers.  They said this field was special, that settlers used to live there and that the field was a national park.  They lied.

 

     Let me be the first to tell you that no field ever needs to be made a national park, unless maybe it’s the last field in existence, so that people can go to it and stand around dumbly for a few minutes before saying to one another “Well, that was positively awful.  I’m glad there aren’t any more of these left.” And then leave it and never come back.  A field is a field is a fucking field.

 

     We didn’t know this yet, and the trip there was a blast.  I recall that the bus was abuzz with the excited chatter of brainwashed second graders as it thundered across the lonely Oklahoma roads.

     “Did you hear?  They’re letting us go to a field!”

     “Can you believe that?  A real field!”

     “I’ve heard there’s flowers there.  Isn’t that right, Claire?”

     “Oh yes indeed.  Flowers of the deepest purples and brightest yellows.”

     “Oh lovely!  And grass too, I suspect.”

     “Yes, the sweetest grass you’ve ever seen.  Seas of the bloody stuff, I’ve been told.”

     “Wow.  We’ll be swimming in grass.  Up to our ears in it, I expect.”

     “Most certainly.  It will be like heaven, only closer to home.”

 

     There is much to be said for the incorruptible optimism of children.  It’s a beautiful thing to able to believe with all your heart that, for instance, Fast and Furious 6 will be better than the other 5, even though any sane person would think otherwise.  Adults don’t have this problem, and I think we’re jealous of kids.  That’s why we seek to eradicate it.  We won’t be happy until we hear children remark “that’ll be bullshit, just like the others” after they see a trailer for the Fast and Furious 6.  It’s a vicious cycle.

 

     We realized very quickly that the field was just a field.  That’s all it ever was, and I’m sure that’s all it will ever be.  It was covered in bees that day, so everyone was scared to leave the bus.  Once the teachers pushed us off, we sort of huddled in groups, assuming the bees would be fearful of attacked such a large number of humans, and tried to have fun.  It was too hot to play tag, and no one had any other games.  Fields don’t lend themselves to being good for make believe, unless we would have wanted to pretend to be the little house on the prairie.  Some got bored and tried to eat their lunches, only to be scolded that they would get hungry later if they ate now.  There weren’t even any trees, and the flowers and grass were just like the flowers and grass most of us had in our backyards, except that we had much nicer toilettes at home.

    

The didn’t lie about one thing, though.  I guess the field was a park of some sort, there were signs and everything.  How we hated them, those signs.  They promised fun times for anyone who came, but we didn’t believe them.  They were liars and we knew it.

 

     We finally left after a couple of hours, and I think we all left our optimism there, lying in the shitty flowers of the equally shitty field.  We had no need for it any more.  We had seen the real world: empty, hot and boring.  I remember getting into my mom’s old pewter Mercedes and her asking me “What did you guys do today?”

     “We went on a fieldtrip.”

     “Oh really, to where?”

     I remember almost laughing then at the absurdity of the question.  I remember it building in my belly like a tropical storm, waiting to become a hurricane, but thinking better of it.  To where?  Where else?  To a field.

Music


Music

Songs are like magic.  Good ones capture the soul and take it on a journey.  A journey to places it had long forgotten.  As it travels, it remembers, and the memories bring forth long since dormant emotions that mix with the melodies and the rhythm   so that you almost cry.  Not in a sad way, but  out of joy, like you’ve found a long lost friend and learned that they’re alright.

Songs capture the soul, yes, but then set it free and send it soaring above the highest mountains and into the ether.  It can see the whole world up there.   It’s always beautiful, like late evening, when the light’s a mix of pink and orange, and the sun casts long shadows.

Sometimes if you’re very lucky you can see the stars, even if the sun is still barely casting light. The sky takes on a purple tinge then, and the stars hang languidly above our sphere, casting light down upon us that they created millennia ago.  They don’t care for music, but I’m sure that if we just shared it with them, they would find it as lovely as we do.  They’d only need a little push, like that which a parent gives to a child sitting nervously on top of a slide.

I think that’s the real beauty of music.  It, more than anything, is meant to be shared.  You should never create a song just for you.  Share it with the world, with the sky and the stars, the great planets and their moons, and comets that streak across the stratosphere.  They’ll thank you for it, I’m sure, in their own way.  You might not find out for a long time, but they’ll thank you, as will we all.

One day.

The Medallion


So, here’s a short story that I’ve been working on.  I’m a big fan of the man himself, H. P. Lovecraft, and so I tried to write a story in his style, but in third person.  Here he is:

What a happy looking guy!

What a happy looking guy!

I was hoping for something more awesome though.  Hmm….

What a happy guy!

What a happy guy!

Ah, yes.  Excellent.  Anyway…

This may seem like an unusual choice (lovecraft + 3rd person) to those of you who know that Lovecraft wrote almost exclusively in the first person, but I must also warn you that when I wrote the rough draft, the original Idea was to adopt Hemingway’s technique of drinking copious amounts of alcohol before writing something, and then trying to crank out a story.  I then opted out of the Faulker technique of continuing to drink until you pass out, and then wake up the following morning with a good drink and trying to edit.

Secondly, this story is meant to be a horror, and if you find it amusing, be warned that it was unintentional, and due to my occasional inability to slam together coherent sentences rather than any sort of concentrated effort.

Here you go!

The Red Medallion

The moon hung gibbous and eternal over the dark forest as Aaron crashed through the underbrush.  Tree branches snatched at his coat and urged him to stop and feel they’re spindly embrace.  He almost did it, too.  He almost just lay down and accepted what might come: death, an afterlife, oblivion.  It was all fine with him, but then he heard it again, the haunting, bestial howl. He restarted his panicked flight with a redoubled effort, one thought on his mind: it’s getting closer!

Trees, trees, more trees, roots and limbs.  The soft thuds of his footfalls were diminished somewhat by the peat on the forest floor, but the franticness in their cadence was unmistakable.  This was a man running for his life, they told you, a man running out of time.

He burst through a thicket of bushes and his footing came out from under him, sending him sliding, rolling down a precipice.  Down!  Down he rolled, down the steep embankment, over the rocks and roots that grabbed at his legs, sometimes threatening to break them.  He cried out as he tumbled, knowing full and well the futility of this action.  There was no one else around.  No one at all.  Just him and… it.

Splash!  He barreled into the rocky stream at the bottom of the ravine, and a searing pain in his left arm stabbed through his mind, keeping him alert and conscious, though he could feel the tendrils of darkness creeping into the edge of his vision.  He lay there for quite some time, in the mud and shallow water, waiting for the pain to stop.  It didn’t.

He stood and fell back down again.  His leg had collapsed out from under him.  He stood more carefully and managed to stay on his feet, at least until he gave his arm an experimental prod.  Bad Idea.  His vision swam and he nearly passed out as he crashed back into the water.  Fuck.  Fuckfuckfuck.

He looked up at the opposite side and scowled.  He knew, he knew that only a mile beyond that imposing wall of dirt lay his town.  Safety.  Struggling, he managed to right himself once more, and cross over to the embankment, taking special care to not touch his left arm.

The wall was too steep to simply walk up.  He would have to climb it, here and now, unless…

He looked left.  The stream stretched for miles, bordered on both sides by steep walls of earth and the dark imposing forest on top of the walls.  The right wasn’t any better.  No, it had be here.  He wasn’t even sure if he could walk much firther that night, not with his sprained ankle, but the thing following him, it certainly couldn’t climb a–

The howl made Aaron jump and almost fall back into the water.  This one sounded different, sort of anxious, like the howler was expecting this chase to be over and done with in the near future.

He threw himself bodily at the wall, cradling his left arm into his body and clawing like a madman at the dirt, trying to gain purchase on it’s crumbly surface.  He managed to snag a root that seemed relatively sturdy, and tried to haul himself up with it.

Foolish.

His right hand was not strong enough to support his weight, and it collapsed under the strain, sending him sprawling once more into the cold stream.

A howl broke the quiet of the night, bloodcurdling and, most frightful of all, close.  Ever so close.  Aaron cried, and banged his fist into the river bank’s cold, damp earth.

Why why why why WHY?  Why was the only thing he could think of:  Why had he taken the dare?  Why had he gone to that graveyard, that fucking gave yard?  Why did they do this to him?  It should have been easy.  It should have been easy.  It had been easy enough at first.  Tom’s map had led him straight to the graveyard, there had been a shovel behind the shed like Tom had told him, and the grave dirt wasn’t to packed.  It split apart like rotten meat to his shovel, and the coffin hadn’t even been buried that deep.  Once he pried the lid off and seen it… the red medallion.

Another howl snapped him out of his reverie.  Shit.  He stood and began to hobble down the stream, hoping that there was something, a ladder, some stairs, something he couldn’t see further along it’s course.

If I make it out of this, he grimly thought as he looked over his shoulder at the moon, which seemed even larger and more intimidating than before, I’m never going to play truth or dare again.  At least not with my friends.  He laughed at this, a cruel, barking laugh that was unlike him.  Friends…

High school had been so hard that Aaron had jumped at the chance to hang out with anyone, and positively wet himself when the popular kids had invited him to a party Jerry was having at his uncle’s house.

All the best looking girls were there.  Ashlee, with her long, dark hair and curvy hips.  Lilith, with her prodigious bosom and winning smile.  Rachel, with the dimples and the jade colored eyes.  All of them, and they turned and smiled at him when he walked in.  Rachel even said his name, his name, as she passed him a drink.  It was heaven.

They had started off the night with some drinking games.  Aaron hadn’t known any when they started, but he got a good hang for them by the time they finished.  He hadn’t ever drunk much alcohol before, so it all hit him rather hard.  He had thought he could handle it.  His father had occasionally snuck him sips of beer while his mother wasn’t looking, and he had thought that his would somehow prepare him for copious dirnking, but he had been wrong.  It seemed that it was always that way.  Wrong.

They had played beer pong and kings cup, flip cup and quarters, and once he had become too drunk to think clearly, they had settled down to play truth or dare.  He was between Rachel and Lilith, and counting himself rather lucky.  Tom had started off with a truth, and told everyone about the time he lost his virginity, much to everyone’s chagrin.  It seemed like they had heard it before.  Rachel took dare, and had to kiss Aaron on the lips.  It was the single greatest thing that had ever happened in his life, and probably ever would.  It got to Aaron’s turn, and he was still swooning.  He dumbly looked at Rachel, who mouthed the word “dare” with he perfect lips.  He obeyed, and they dared him to dig up a grave.

Aaron splashed through the stream, tears streaking down his face.  He was crying again and he wasn’t certain why.  It had just happened, like a summer storm, sudden and violent.  He hoped it would break soon.  He felt like it was slowing him down.

He wasn’t sure what they had planned.  Surley it was to scare him in some capacity or another.  Maybe dress up as a ghost and hide behind a grave, or wait in the woods until he had dug deep into the grave dirt, and then pushed him in the grave and pretended to bury him. They had never gotten the chance.  Once he had locked his hand around that medallion, once he had taken it–

A splash of fast approached feet drew Aaron out of his reverie.  IT was hear.  Run.  Run.  Run as fast as you can.  Sprint god damn it and… ah, but there was never any hope, was there?  He fell, like so many others before him, crashing down into the stream.

He rolled over, and it was on top of him.  The fangs.  The claws.  The rancid stinking breath, like the breath of a corpse, or perhaps the breath of something made of corpses.  It was hard for Aaron to tell.  He had never smelled either, but for an instant, just an instant, he had seen something in the beast’s hide, something that looked eerily similar to Rachel’s face, screaming in pain and horror as it pushed against the creatures pale, hyper stretched skin.

It tore into him, ripping his throat in one clean bite.  Aaron struggled briefly, and would have been proud to learn that he damaged the beast’s leg.  It didn’t cause too much trouble, but it was a badge of honor that few of it’s past victims would be able to claim before they went.

He felt it rummage through his pockets and take the medallion, and then it was gone, and Aaron was left with nothing but the cold water of the stream, and the moon, which cut through the encroaching darkness like a beacon, golden and lustrous, almost as if it were made of metal.

*****

Oh, and I almost forgot to thank Ronni Noyce, Kathryn Jenkins and Kristy J. W. for nominating me for the “shine on”, “sunshine”, and “versatile” blogger awards, respectively.  I promise you, I’m gonna do one big fucking awards post some time this months and it’s going to be utter madness.  So get ready, readers, I’ve got like 5 awards to give out, and one might be coming to you!

Soon, Gentle Readers, soon!


Soon, Gentle Readers, soon!

I’m about to be back at school, and the blogging will recommence. I’ve got some good stuff planned for the summer, and i’ve found a few more peter articles for you die hards out there. And remember, listen to the sloth: FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!

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