Grafton’s Ghost-Child

Even unto the Seventh Generation

 
Grafton turned the knob on his daughter Cloe’s bedroom door so slowly, thankful for the patience that came so naturally to him. The doorknob would sometimes crick and he didn’t want to wake her, just peek in to watch her sleep, make sure she was snug under the covers. Sometimes Amanda would open the window in their daughter’s room to let the night air in and Cloe would curl up into a tight little ball, just her nose exposed and forming a little steam tent.

She was adorable.

His hand turned past the crick, he opened the door slowly. Sure enough, a few icy snowcrystals blew in as he entered and Cloe was beginning her curl into a ball. Like her father, she was patient. It would take about ten minutes before she was done, never waking once. Grafton had watched her do it.

As he entered, Cloe’s Merchant-Ghost looked up. It was sitting in a recliner beside the nightstand next to his daughter’s bed. It was reading a book – Grafton could see it in his hands. It had to be as ancient as the merchant ghost itself – it’s eyes emitting that odd red-yellow light to illuminate the pages. The Merchant-Ghost nodded, its tree-like body and bark-like skin folding as it moved, then went back to its reading.

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Ritchie&Phyl (A Celebration of Life) Chapter 1 – First Meeting

The strongest relationships often start from the strangest meetings

Ritchie caught the blues bouncing off his visor and checked his rearview mirror. The police cruiser was right behind him, blues jockeying back and forth on the roof rack, headlight hi-beams winking right left right left. He lowered the volume on the radio. John Mellencamp went from a car quaking “This is a little ditty, about Jack and Diane, two kids growing up, in the Heartland…” to a quiet mumble.

He slowed and pulled onto the shoulder. The police car stayed right behind him. There was a road on the right that went between two fields. He put on his directional, his eyes bouncing back and forth from road to rearview, and took the turn, staying to the side and continuing to slow.

The cruiser stayed with him.

He stopped his Leaf, lowered his window then put his hands, open and fingers pointing up, on the top of the steering wheel.

The officer got out of the cruiser, adjusted her duty belt, looked at him and stopped, her hand hovering above her weapon. “What are you doing?”

“I’m making sure you can see my hands. You folks have a tough enough job these days without having to worry about what’s going to happen when you stop somebody. I figured I’d make sure you could see my hands so you’d know I wasn’t going to do something funny.”

She didn’t move, just kept her eyes on him and stayed in her ready position.

He smiled at her in his side mirror. “Everything okay, officer?”

His paperwork still in hand, she pulled it back and flipped it over, skimming the back where medical conditions are normally listed.
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Sanctuary

How far will you go to find home?

 
There is a planet on the scanners. It is large and round and red. The sun is yellow and warming, and the planet is in the sun’s life zone. The gravity is slightly stronger than Earth’s. The air is a bit richer, and there is abundant water under the surface.

The red coloring comes from two things. The surface of the planet is covered with red vegetation and their spores are everywhere. The ground is also red, although not with spores but with clay and slate like so faraway Connecticut.

The dog beside me raises his massive head and growls. I scratch behind his ears and his hind legs start thumping the cabin floor. I make him thump in time to songs I sing, switching legs as I go from chorus to lead and back.

“We’ll go down, see if this is the one.”

His ears go up slightly. I wonder how many of the words he understands.

“Take the dog,” my wife said. The cabin has room for me and one more. The taste of her lips is still on mine. The smell of her hair is here before me. I can delight in her touch and feel her sun-warmed and reddened skin.

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Mitre

Sometimes the Elderly offer their own solutions

 
Mitre left her home this morning as she had every morning as far back as she could remember, descending concrete steps to sand and sea, her two hands guiding her, clenched on a rusted iron railing. Twenty feet from the bottom stair, at the end of a path made of sun bleached and half burnt boards, white iron chairs held vigil over the ocean. Mitre made her way there and found her seat.

The morning was an ocean rich fog. Closer to the waves, gulls and sandpipers plagued crabs and clams. Far away and cresting the waves, the sun broke through the clouds. The mist hung just enough for Mitre to see the sun’s outline and face.

Mitre cooed as the sun winked at her, hiding behind clouds, playing a game. At first the old woman was confused. She scanned the horizon but the sun could not be found.

Again the sun peeked and hid from her. Mitre jumped and clapped wrinkling hands. Comprehension began to mask her face. She understood.

The sun stretched its arms across the ocean’s expanse to hold her. Somewhere inside, the chaos of her thoughts found order. There was a memory of being held in someone’s arms.

She left her chair and started towards the water. The gentle waves gave no crest to stop her. She left the sand and splashed into the water, hands outstretched to grasp her ancient lover’s arms.

The sun waited, not moving. Mitre fought the waist deep water, the cold numbing and the sun embracing. Breathing was difficult. She stopped and winced as her chest spasmed.

“Mother! Come back!”

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Trailer, Bear, and Jaguar

When wildlife respects you, you’re someone to be feared

My writing coach suggested I add a scene to The Augmented Man that demonstrates Trailer’s “alpha-ness” in the woods, basically that he’s the uberpredator and even top predators fear him.

Good assignment.

But Trailer, in the woods among wildlife, isn’t feared in the way my coach wanted me to depict him. Animals in the wild acknowledge each other and little more. They do not threaten unless they are threatened, they do not attack unless there is no other choice. They won’t attack you unless you’re stupid and they are ravenously hungry or diseased.

So I wrote the following because it 1) depicts Trailer’s status in the wild, 2) shows relatively early on that he’s not the monster everybody assumes he is.

And then I pulled it because – even though I like it a lot – it didn’t fit. It added a scene that is demonstrated elsewhere in the book and at a better place in the narrative.

So what to do with it? As I wrote in Ripping Out the Pattern, I’m saving it for a sequel to The Augmented Man.

Meanwhile, here it is. Let me know what you think.
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