Today I decided to read my short story, Imposed Constructs. It was an idea I had about the cycle of life and the end of the universe and the beginning being the same black hole. A scientist recently proposed a similar idea and so I thought I would share my story. It’s one of my favorites. Enjoy!
In this podcast I talk about theoretical physicist Fritz Zwicky and his ability to use his imagination to think outside the box and how that type of creative use of imagination ties into humanity as a whole and how we process the chaos of life.
A look at Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, and the cyclical nature of humanity throughout history.
This podcast will take a critical look at the novel Jane Eyre and the way in which women were viewed in the 1800’s and the influence that had over the author’s description of her characters and how that might have impacted the narrative of the story.
A look at Bram Stoker’s development of the vampire mythos, including the historical time period he was living in, and people that he drew inspiration from as well as open ended questions in the manuscript and the importance of fan fiction in advancing the significance of this work.
Hey, welcome to my quirky world where literature intersects history, and we look at all of this through both a modern and a historical lens.
I left Sayre when I was 18, and that was nearly two decades ago. It was a month after I graduated that my dad and my friend Joy helped me load the U-Haul in front of the rent house I had been living in and head two hours East to Oklahoma City. There are parts of me I left in that town. I buried them in the cold red clay and walked away. Discarded pieces of the person I used to be and no longer wished to remember.
Just like that I moved into a rent-controlled apartment in a not so nice neighborhood with no friends. I lived by myself and nearby distant cousins; family members I did not know that well, truthfully. The city had close to a million people in it, and the town I had just left had fewer than 2,500. Geographically it was about two inches on a map. But those two inches were a world apart.
Those first few months I drove back at least once a month and visited my friends, but eventually I did not even do that. That town became like a faded photograph, a memory that I could once connect to with ease had now become an image I didn’t see myself in at all.
The parts of me I left behind, those parts were what people remembered about me. As if by shedding them and leaving them there I was making sure those were my trademarks.
Ideologically I could not be further from that scarred girl who drove off to the big city to live by herself and go to college. I knew that the only way to grow was to push myself as hard as I could to be the person I wanted to be. I used to drive into the center of the city and then find my way home to my lonely apartment each night. Before GPS and cell phones I knew that the only way I would be able to get around would be to memorize the layout in my head. Along the way I would see signs advertising jobs and I would apply. It didn’t take long and I had a job, I made new friends, I started college. Then, I got married, graduated twice, bought a house, had a kid.
And I didn’t really ever look back.
There are still good people there. People I care about and people who know the core of who I am. But I haven’t been back to visit in years. My parents live outside of town so I will go and visit them and then return home all without setting foot inside the city limits.
I think now that I have avoided having to reconcile the “me that was” with the person I grew into. They are two sides of the same coin. I could not be who I am now without her, but there are days I have a hard time facing her. And she is intricately woven into the fabric of my hometown and the people that I grew up with.
So, to ignore her, I blocked them out.
This probably would have been the end of it. I might not have thought that much more about it, in fact, if it weren’t for what happened last night.
Last night there was a tornado that started near my parents’ property and their home and traveled just a few miles to the East and into the neighboring town. I realized that even though I have no claim to this land anymore that it still hurts. These people, many who I grew up with, were suffering and I felt bad with them. I wanted to let them know how sad I was or how it hurt to see someplace I had been so many times as a teenager left in ruins.
I felt myself wanting to share in their collective pain. But how could I? After all, I was the traitor that left and no longer had ties to the town. I was the one who had done nothing but peripherally stay current on social media with all of the people who had once been close friends. What right do I have to share in their pain and their agony? Who am I to offer empty words of sympathy?
While I do not know if I have a right to lay claim to the pain and sorrow that I am feeling right now, I want everyone affected to know that I feel your loss too, and it hurts much deeper than I would have believed.
I have released my latest short story on Amazon today, and it can be yours for less than a dollar. What if you had a chance to take a different path? Or change something you regretted? Would you take it?
Here is a brief excerpt of the story:
“So much grief, he thought, turning back to the conversation at hand at the sound of Daniel’s voice.
“I’m sorry, what? I missed most of what you said,” he mumbled. Daniel had been a friend of his since junior high school. They were all one big group back then, and it seemed nothing would have been able to get between them. That’s what he’d thought all those years ago, when death was nothing but an abstract concept and not a solid mahogany casket waiting to be lowered into the frozen ground.
Fletch had pushed his shoulders up to try and prevent the Oklahoma wind from ramming into the side of his head and freezing his ear. Now he forced himself to relax long enough to let in the nasally sound of Daniel’s voice.
“I said, she told me to give you this.” He held out a manila envelope in front of him like he was brandishing a prize.
“Lauralee. She gave it to me about six months ago, along with a couple of other things for different people. Said that when she died I needed to pass them out.”
Fletch looked up at Daniel’s face to see if he was fucking with him. If this was some kind of cruel joke that the pudgy bastard thought might be funny. But he could see from the set of his jaw and the sharpness of his gaze that it was not the case.
“What do you mean? She died in a car wreck. No one knew she was going to pass away. Not her, not Christ, not anyone.”
“I know.” Daniel sighed and looked back over his shoulder longingly at the people who were still gathered there. “When she came to me and told me what she did I thought she was crazy. I mean, she swore that she wasn’t sick and that nothing was going on. Said she just had a feeling that this was something she should take care of now. Before…”
- I asked for sentences…and you guys delivered. Here is the first story cobbled together from your ideas. I hope you like it!
Made of Stardust
It was a doorway to the stars that should never have existed. The metal of the knob had been cool in her hands, but the door itself was hot beneath her fingertips as she pressed them into the wood surface. The cool/hot duality reminded her of the warmth of summer when it first began to press in on the windows of their air-conditioned living room.
Right after it appeared Ari had asked her mother about it. Her mother’s steel blue eyes had cut into her with precision, and after a sharp silence she had answered only with a curt shake of her head before she turned back to the television. The haunting look that had been on her mother’s face shook her, and even though a word had never been uttered between them, it took months before Ari found herself standing in front of the plain wooden panel, knob in her palm, muscles flexed, breath tight in her chest.
At first the wood swelled and tightened in the frame, stubbornly holding in its secrets. There was a calming wave building in her, and she could feel its icy waters lapping at her anxiety like a numbing balm. Whatever happened, she knew things would be better.
All she had to do was pull.
The light seeped in around the edges of the door and pushed its way into the darkness of the room, invading in giant strides. Ari looked up and the stars poured into her. She could feel the heat and light pressing against her flesh like a solid weight. When she opened her eyes she saw that her flesh had darkened. Buried inside her were metallic flecks that began to glean back, reflecting the stars.
Ari stared down at her arm. It looked like the polished Hematite Ms. Miller had shown them in geology class. She remembered how it’s surface shone so bright in the sunlight.
I am here. Right here.
The voice was a strong one, and it marched its way across her thoughts. It vibrated through her, a charged current roaring across her flesh. Ari thought of running back into the house and telling her mother, but held fast to the edges of the frame remembering the last time she had dared to mention the door.
And still the stars poured into her, transforming her: tendrils of light floating across the darkness, reaching through that impossible door to embrace her. Ari watched as the light drained into her, turning her exactly into what she was meant to be. There was no judgment here, no rules, no harsh gazes, just the heart of the universe.
Ari tossed one last look over her shoulder and then took her first step into the abyss, the light now pouring from her as the pad of her foot left the cold tile floor of her house and pressed down on the air. It held, and she kept walking, trailing her worries. They fell behind her the way a flower girl sheds petals as they march down the aisle. There was nothing left of fear or anger; they had been hollowed out.
She had absorbed the stars, she was holding the galaxy within her.
Stretching out she pictured the darkness around her as water. Eternity stretched out before her as she floated lazily in the deep, staring up into the starless night and taking solace from the darkness.
I do not think I am alone when I say that 2016 was a difficult year on many different fronts. I had personal losses that were harder than any I had faced before. Earlier this year I worked with Jessica Smith to create a thirty minute story/piece of art. She painted, I wrote and when we were through we put up what we had in a collaborative effort. Neither of us knew what the other one had worked on until we were finished, and I think both things turned out surprisingly well. I wanted to share that post here as a cathartic release. It’s one of the things I’m going to do to help me start the process of closing out this year.
30 Minute Collaboration
Stripping away the layers of flesh was not as easy as it had once been, but it was still a ritual she embraced. Each night she gripped a soft chunk between her thumb and forefinger and pulled it back in long straight strips that she folded over neatly and placed atop the rock altar.
When she was free she glided over the water and danced among the blades of grass, moving in and between them until each one’s molecules were imprinted on her spirit. Some might have said she was one with the air, but that wasn’t true either, it was more than that. The air was all around her, through her, and in her, but she didn’t merge with it.
It was getting harder to wear her flesh so that she could salvage the lost souls. There were days she wanted nothing more than to ascend and give up on her mission. But each night she refreshed her spirit, and as dawn slipped over the horizon she returned and replaced her skin one strip at a time.
Each time it felt heavier than it had before: the thickness of it pushing in on her as she assembled it until she was solid again. One day soon the strips would no longer fit together and the healing rays of the moon would not be enough.
She wondered if she would collapse all at once under the weight of the flesh. Or, if it would bury her gradually in overlapping wrinkles until she could no longer release her spirit?