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Pink Azalea

I planned to post something entirely different today, however, that piece isn't finished. So, in its place, I've decided to share a small picture of our pink azalea. The lower temperatures we experienced a few weeks ago delayed its bloom, but, as you can see, it's doing fine now.

In this difficult time of quarantine, this plant has been a bright spot for us. I hope it is for you, too.
Hopefully, in two weeks I'll have that other post done!

Prologue to a Work in Progress

Below is a very short prologue to a book I started years ago -- just a small glimpse into yet another story that's still working on me.

***
It was like this:
In a suburb of a certain city, a letter fell from the delivery slot in a front door; the metal clang died, and the envelope slid to a stop. Around the corner in a dimly lit living room, a set of ears and eyes went on not hearing, not seeing; the ears didn't notice the pad-pad-pad of feet slapping the sidewalk as they rushed away or the whispers in the air of the house as the words contained in the letter begged to be let out; neither did the eyes see the small shadow as it danced across the lawn or the flapping wings overhead as birds the size of throwing stones tried to keep up.
They didn't notice much of anything.
Not yet.
And now a boy with skin like chocolate stands and stares at a street sign -- he does not stare because of the houses surrounding him, nor because he is lost. No, he stares because of the name.
He …

The Worm Ouroboros

Fever has sent me spiraling into the past, I smell the ancient dust in Lessingham's parlor, and now the newsprint, upon which I saw his name for the first time, rises out of that same fog I thought I escaped. -- But no! His is the nightmare, and I'm sure of it! He possesses what each man longs to take of his own accord. Yes, his is the nightmare.

***
I was young and building a name for myself as an art dealer. No family of my own to restrict my travels, I was eager to find a rarity, something no one looked for or expected to exist, something ancient. The normal studios and art shows wouldn't do. I learned the names of those who sold what they did not own and reaped what they did not sow.

A man named Daha led me to Lessingham. Daha had collected a map of sorts, a trail of clippings, stolen manifests, and ill-got receipts that led, he said, to this Lessingham and the astonishing pieces in his possession. He twisted in his seat and pulled at his cigarette when I asked him why…

Boy

Our little one -- there! the boy crouched within the yellow forsythia blossoms -- he waits beyond his years, is patient as an old man is forced to be patient, for he hunts the butterflies that will soon come to this bright corner of the yard; no, he does not hunt them as most boys would, for a collection. He wants their sound. All else he's captured: the colors, the shapes, delicate both, but isn't the sound impossible? More delicate than their wings, than the multitude of scales we call "dust," is the sound wave created by the flap and dip of the butterfly.

Boy is covered in pollen. The skin on his forearms sticks to the skin on his biceps. Behind him, the sun is reluctant to set, and his eyes blink away tears from the glare reflecting off the tall windows a few feet away. A flurry of excited sparrows fill the branches surrounding him, one or two mistaking his head and knee for forsythia. Their argument swirls and expands to the nearby turf, to the maple trees on th…

Final Movement

Fire escape: Mark Sonata stood here, naked but for thin briefs that the rain pasted to his skin. His hands squeezed the metal rail and showed white with the pressure; breaths came, his shoulders heaved, and the dawn heard his anger. Anger born of shame. A scream.

***
There was a time in Mark's second life when the pain from this anniversary came easily -- when he would slip into a void, the anguish in his chest; agony was fitting, and it was apt to be crushed.

But that was years ago. The mourning never fully ceased, but there came a new ability to cope that arose from the death of the shock, the first blow. Diana's death, Mark carried it with him, but the wound rarely reopened completely.

And he hated himself for it.

***
All morning long the sound of rain -- through Mark's open apartment windows, on the metal fire escape, on the outstretched beech branches along the street, and now on the folded newspaper he held over his head as he prepared himself for the meeting to come…

The Whale and the Sub-Sub

There the ships go to and fro, and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there. -- Psalm 104.26
"Call me Ishmael." These are the famous words that open Moby-Dick. The words that scholars highlight and readers remember.
The words that actually open the book are all but ignored.
***
I said, "I need to rent a boat," and the air in the store changed, like I'd committed some major social blunder. I could see it in the cashier's eyes. She looked at me over her glasses, one eyebrow raised, her lips pursed, and her head cocked. "I'm from New Castle." I felt the customers behind me. They were no longer shopping. I waited for her to help me, but she didn't reply. I was hostage to her scrutiny until I talked.

"Do you have boats to rent?" I knew they did. From where we stood, I could see the colorful sides of blue and red rowboats hanging on a rack that spanned the length of the store outside.

The cashier's mouth moved, and without the…

Of Trains and Metaphors

Preface
Beginning. Middle. End. We can agree, right, that stories must have some semblance of these three parts? Sure, some readers love to fill in the blanks on their own, while others want the resolution spelled out. Fine. Stories begin, develop, stop -- this is how we know them best. And yet, stay with me here, some stories do continue (ours, for instance, this human drama on Earth, continues). We have short memories: Each generation seeing (or not seeing, as the case may be) ancient history lunge forward as though it's brand new.

Setting. Protagonist. Conflicted Protagonist. Antagonist: a person? nature? unseen forces? fate? destiny? Climax. Resolution.

Then we have story types: Comedy: Protagonist lives in the end and reminds us life goes on and is renewed (a birth, a marriage); Tragedy: Protagonist dies (maybe ironically), takes others, too (usually). Yes, there are a vast array of genres, but really only two types of stories that all genres fall into. (Our human drama, we s…