Short Story: The Mysterious Consequence [Guest Post]

Today’s guest post is a short story brought to you by Hanna. Thanks, Hanna!

Autumn was sitting all alone on a small, peculiar pebble. She had no idea how she got this small. What did she do? Where did she go? Somehow, Autumn became as small as a bug and was in the strangest of places. Autumn looked around. She was by the bank of a stream, that is, what looked to her like a ginormous river. She looked up. The sky was a very weird purple color and she saw a gap in the clouds. Autumn wondered if she had fallen into some dream world, just like “Alice in Wonderland”. Autumn stood up, and just a split second later, before she could even step off the pebble, she heard a faint screaming coming from above her head. Right then, before her eyes, her best friend Lily fell right onto the same pebble on which Autumn was standing. They both stared at each other in the oddest way, and then the peculiar, purple sky turned blue, and the gap in the clouds disappeared.

“Lily! Are you all right?” Autumn said, approaching Lily.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Lily said, as she stood up and brushed off her clothes. Lily took one glance around and realized what was happening. “Why are we so small and why…?”

Autumn cut Lily off. “Shhhh, I know. I have no idea what in the world just happened, but we have to find out.” Both girls started walking, but could only go as fast as their miniature legs could carry them. “The first thing I want to find out is why in the world we are so small,” Autumn said.

“Yes please,” Lily responded. As they continued walking, they heard a rustling in the bush that was beside them. “Ummm, Autumn??” Lily said as she started backing away. All of a sudden, a bunny, one that looked as huge as a bear to the girls, hopped out of the bush. Not only did the girls jump out of fright, but also from the strange look this bunny had.

“Don’t be scared, I am here to answer all your questions,” the bunny said. This bunny was the strangest looking creature the girls had ever seen. He had extra-long ears and an extra-large nose. He was purple, just like the color the sky was. He also had overalls on and carried a tiny backpack.

“Who are you?” Lily and Autumn said, simultaneously, looking at this creature with concern.

“My name is Desman, and my job is to help people like you learn why you’re here. Jump on, let’s go!” Seeing as how everything else around was just as weird as Desman, the girls agreed and jumped on Desman’s back.

As they traveled through the woods, they saw many interesting, strange, and mystical things. It almost seemed as if they were dreaming, but yet they were awake. They wondered where Desman was taking them. In just a couple short minutes, they ended up in front of a cute little cottage.

“Is this where you live Desman?” asked Lily, as she and Autumn jumped off his back.

“Yes, yes it is. Please come in.” Desman and the girls went inside and sat down. “Now, I must tell you why you are here, I’m sure you are wondering,” said Desman, as he plopped on a little cushion.

“We most certainly are,” Autumn said, as Desman motioned for them both to sit down.

“First answer this question, what were you both doing before you fell down here?” asked Desman.

Autumn answered, “Well, Lily and I were just sitting on our couch playing a game when our parents walked into the room.”

“Yeah, but they didn’t know that we were in there and they started talking about very important things,” continued Lily.

“Okay, do you think you were supposed to be listening to that conversation?” asked Desman. Autumn had a blank expression on her face and she turned red.

“Well, no…but we couldn’t help it! We wanted to hear what they were saying!” Autumn said as she and Lily frowned, realizing what they did.

Desman replied, “Well, this is why you came here. After you listened to your parent’s conversation, that’s when you fell into the hole that opened up under you into this world and became small. You are in ‘Land of Consequences’.” Both of the girls looked at Desman with a sort of despaired look on their faces.

“We made a mistake…I’m sorry,” Lily said, and Autumn agreed.

“But why did we become small?” asked Autumn, with a puzzled look.

“Becoming small was to teach you guys a lesson that if you mind your own business, the world would go round a deal faster than it does, come with me.” Desman replied, as he got up and motioned to the girls to follow him outside.

As they went outside, they looked around. The girls realized that Desman’s house changed to be right in the middle of a busy town. There they were, small as bugs, watching other bunnies and forest animals minding their own business and going about their life throughout the streets.

Desman watched the girls as they looked on with wonder, “Now if you two were to walk out there and try to get someone’s attention or try to have someone hear you, they wouldn’t be able to. You are too small and they are too busy to notice you, too busy with their own business and not causing trouble.”

“I think we both understand now…” said Lily, with a regretting tone. Autumn agreed, “Yeah if we would have minded our own business, our parent’s would have been able to go about what they were doing without having to worry about us.”

Desman smiled, “I’m glad you both were able to learn a lesson from this. I think it’s time to get you girls home.”

Both of the girls jumped onto Desman’s back once again. At that moment, the little town disappeared and there were just woods in front of them. Desman started running back down the path into the woods, as both of the girls glanced at each other.

In just a few minutes, they were back at the side of the stream where Desman first found the girls. “Now, you must wonder why I carry this tiny little backpack with me,” Desman said, taking the backpack off of him and putting it on the floor, “It holds what you need to get back home.” Both the girls looked at Desman, and then at the backpack, with the most puzzled looks on their faces. Desman pulled out two tiny crystals out of the backpack. “Both of you need to hold one of these in the water until it melts, and then go stand on the same pebble you fell onto. It has a purple mark on it. Then, the hole in the cloud will open up again, and you both will be pulled back home and return to normal size. However, when you get home, remember to not tell anyone about what you have seen or heard.”

Both the girls responded, “We understand.” In that moment, Desman hopped away back into the bush in which he appeared out of earlier, and he was gone. The girls ran down to the stream. They both waited for their crystals to melt, and then they ran to the pebble. They watched the hole open up, and they were zapped back home so fast they couldn’t even see it happen.

Autumn’s and Lily’s vision cleared and there they were sitting in the house behind the couch. The first word the girls heard the parents say was the exact last word the girls heard before falling through the hole.

“Wow…no time must have passed at all!” Lily said, with an excited look on her face. “Yay! We need to do the right thing now and stand up and let the parents know we are behind here, and tell them we are sorry for eavesdropping on their conversation.” They both agreed and stood up. The parents had a startled look on their face when they saw the girls. The girls explained how they were behind there the whole time and how they were sorry for listening to the conversation. The parents forgave them, and everything was alright. Then the girls gave their parents a hug, and they both looked at each other and smiled. They never told their parents about what happened, just like Desman said, and the lesson they learned was one they would remember for the rest of their lives.

About Hanna

Hanna is a Christian and the oldest of 5 and enjoys writing about lifestyle and personal and short fictional stories. She enjoys sharing what she has learned about hardships and hopes to encourage others. She hopes to begin a career in freelance writing.
Connect with Hanna
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Healing From Trauma [Guest Post]

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Emily Stroia! Thanks, Emily!

Emily Stroia Guest Post

Healing from trauma isn’t a straight line. For me it has and still is an ongoing journey.

We all have our scars, stories and experiences that have shaped our view of the world and of ourselves.

I have explored healing through the mystical, spiritual, self-help, therapy and emotional intelligence. You name it and I have most likely done it.

I have been in therapy since I was 5 years old when I shared with my teacher a fight my parents had. This conversation sparked my healing journey and every week I would meet with the school therapist. These sessions were my saving grace as a child.

Home life was very confusing, dark and traumatic.

My mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and my father was abusive; mentally, physically and sexually.

One day around the age of 13,  I went out on my balcony and had a serious talk with the universe. I remember asking what the purpose was for me.

I asked the big question many of us ask when bad things happen,  “WHY?, WHY ME?”.

At first I heard silence.

And then I heard this intuitive voice whisper, “This isn’t happening to you. This is happening for you.” I had the faint realization that I would share my healing journey and my story with the world.

Nearly 20 years have passed since that realization. Slowly in the healing process I have been able to release the need for my story to be different. I have learned that there are gifts in the scars.

The healing journey has also inspired me to write my story in a form of raw poetry.

My new book, Into the Light explores healing from trauma and abuse through the creative art form of poetry.

This book is memoir-inspired and also has notes to the reader on healing from brokenness, finding light in the darkness and coming to peace with the past.

There is a favorite quote that still resonates with me, “Forgiveness is letting go of the past being any different”.

We may not be able to change what happened to us but we can make magic, art and beauty from the broken parts.

Healing is a personal journey of finding freedom, liberation and transcending from what once was. We are not what happens to us.

A storm may leave damage but it is up to us to repair it. I am not a victim to the circumstances I was born in.

It may not make sense and it may never make sense why people hurt us in the ways they do. We may not know how to forgive the unforgivable. But we are born with the capability to love and heal each other through the power of story-telling and sharing.

A poem from my new book, Into the Light:

 When you are at the end of
your rope,
tie a knot and hold on.
When you think you are at the
end of your journey,
reach out your hand
and someone will meet you
there.

About Emily Stroia

Emily Stroia Author PicEmily is an intuitive teacher, spiritual leader, author, and artist. Emily first discovered her gifts of intuition and creativity as a child and was placed in a highly gifted program for children. She often explored her gifts through writing, art, and experienced frequent visions and dreams that would turn out to be accurate. Not understanding fully why or how she was able to do this, she decided to study.

She has always felt a strong attraction to the metaphysical and spiritual aspects of life and continues to delve deeper into each. Believing strongly in her intuitive gifts, as well as wanting to express her deep desire to help people, Emily
decided to utilize her abilities to turn her passion into a profession.

Her mission is to inspire people to find the gifts in their stories and live powerful transformed lives with ease and peace. Her life is a breathing expression of intuition, passion, spirituality, and creativity. Most days you can find her coaching clients, writing, practicing yoga and playing with her dog in Los Angeles.

About Into The Light

Into The Light by Emily StroiaInto the Light is a memoir-inspired poetry collection in seven parts. The book shares the author’s life from a transformative perspective of experiencing trauma & darkness to finding hope, miracles, and light.

In the final part, there are notes to the reader and finding one’s inner peace after adversity and healing through brokenness. This book explores trauma, abuse, sexual abuse, mental illness, loss, healing, spirituality, meditation, inspiration, and empowerment. This book is for anyone who has ever experienced loss, grief, brokenness, depression, abuse, trauma and heartbreak.

Want more? Check out this INTERVIEW with Emily Stroia!

7 Solid Ways To Become More Confident In Your Fiction Writing When You First Start [Guest Post]

Today’s guest post is brought to you by author J.D. Oldenburg!

Guest post by author JD Oldenburg

1. Understand that overwhelm happens.

Overwhelm is part of beginning any process, and that’s ok.

We get overwhelmed when we don’t know exactly where to start, because we put our focus on dreams and end goals, instead of the blank page in front of us.

Vast amounts of people quit before they start because they don’t know where to begin.

You will gain confidence from thinking more about daily steps and a little less about the bigger picture.

Realize that nothing comes instantaneously. Don’t loose excitement because of this.

If you’ve never written before, don’t fret so much on that first novel or googling your chances of success. Start instead with short stories, and allow yourself to fall in love with the process.

Do this and you will beat any odds you can find on google.

2. Forget about “perfect” end results.

A big problem I had when I started writing was my craft didn’t live up to my expectations. I thought I was ready for a big worldwide novel, but I had never written anything in my life. The discrepancy between my aspirations and my craft created a lot of stress.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t dream, I still do. I’m saying focus on the now, and write stories without falling in love with them so hard you can’t edit anything out of them. Learn to go through them objectively, and become a better writer.

It’s not a baby, it’s a story! So don’t be afraid to amputate it, flip it, morph it or even kill it.

It’s about falling in love with the process.

Remember this: An accomplished goal is nothing but a reminder of the energy you had to put in to achieve it. In other words, if writing it feels shitty and stressful, the result will smell of shit and stress.

3. Free-write first thing out of bed.

I learned this from Louder Than Words, a fantastic book on finding your voice by Todd Henry.

This will be an amazing exercise in helping you figure out what you really want to write about. It will massively improve confidence in the work process.

Wake up, grab pen and notepad and scrabble away. This is for you, so don’t worry about grammar or punctuation. Just write!

I like to do between two and three pages each morning, that’s probably little over six hundred words a day. You can do more or less, it’s up to you.

Give it a try for at least three days, see how your ideas start flowing. If they don’t, guess what, it means you need to keep going!

Solid ideas come to you from deep in the subconscious mind, often when you are fresh out of bed. These same ideas will be long gone a few hours later when you’ll find yourself thinking, “What was that brilliant thing I wanted to write about?”

Treat your ideas with respect, write them down when they hit you. If you wait till later they may still be there, but they are likely to move on to someone else.

Spew your thoughts freely, put the notepad down, and come read it a few days later. You’ll be surprised by how interesting the things your sleepy-self wrote turn out to be.

Release the stress of wanting a “good” idea. There is no need for such pressure right now, and it makes your ideas shy. STOP THAT!

4. Read more widely.

I am blown away by how many people tell me they want to be writers, but haven’t found the confidence to do it, and when I ask them, “well, what do you like to read?” they frown and go, “meh, I don’t read much.” Or “not much of a reader myself.”

Not something you want to be advertising too loudly if you ask me, mind you…

If you are serious about bettering your craft, you HAVE to read. Read what you like, read what you don’t like, read what you despise, read what you absolutely adore, read what others read, and read what falls randomly on your lap.

There is no better way to find out what to do and what not to do than reading. Also, I find psychology books to be of incredible insight for creating three-dimensional characters. Of the top of my head, I can recommend A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle.

If you are new to reading a lot, try audio books, and add twenty minutes of reading before bed to your day. Audiobooks are amazing, and yes you’ll absorb them like reading. It’s not cheating.

You want to build yourself up to reading a novel or two a month if you can. Find your pace.

Remember you love this, so don’t freak out, get on it!

Reading Is an acquired taste, and once it’s there, it won’t go away. It will give you confidence not only in your writing but in your life as well.

Remember that knowledge increases self-confidence.

5. Listen to your gut.

Here is one thing one must always keep in mind: Everyone has an opinion!

The first few steps of this list are about learning to become more objective, detached from results, and able to accept your own shortcomings so you can improve upon them.

This one is about trusting that you can develop an optimal sense of self-assessment so you can see when your work is good or needs to be better.

Asking for too many opinions can massively impair your judgment.

People have different intentions, sometimes good, sometimes not so much. It wasn’t until I started to listen to myself that my work began to get completed.

Not everyone is worth asking an opinion, so choose carefully.

And when you do…

6. Grow thicker skin.

Simple, please don’t be the pal or gal who wants to know what I think, but disses me out when my opinion is honest and not what she expected.

If this happens to you, refer to number two in the list. If you are too attached to the result, to the idea that anyone project alone will change your life forever, you are still green.

The reality is, that one project that will change your life will come after many, many hours spent writing crap that will never see the light of day.

THIS IS OK!! I have so much crap no one will ever read, I could fill my car if I printed it.

This goes from films to novels and scripts. It’s always painful to accept a project doesn’t work, but once you do, it is actually quite liberating, and you can study why it didn’t work, and do better.

I will never regret writing crap. It teaches me to tell better stories and speaking of stories, don’t forget to check out my latest one, Horatio and The Fear of Dying.

About J.D. Oldenburg

Author J.D. OldenburgJ.D. Oldenburg (Jose Diaz-Oldenburg) grew up with an unusually intense fear of death. He didn’t suffer trauma or family member’s death in his early youth, yet as a little kid he often sat with his parents to ask concerned questions about the subject. Conversations about death took place almost every evening. Some nights he understood, some nights he feared.

At the early age of nine, he confronted his anxiety by penning a short tale titled “La Muerte de la Muerte” or, Death of Death. A short story inspired by Jim Henson’s 1997 adaptation of an old Russian Folktale called The Soldier and Death.

In early 2015, La Muerte de la Muerte showed up hidden between old books in the family library and a new idea was born. Horatio and The Fear of Dying would come to life.

Armed with a bachelor’s degree in film, a couple of highly encouraging rejection letters, and seven years of experience in film production and advertising, J.D. felt compelled to bypass traditional publishing and retain full control of the final product. He built his creative team through persistence, trial and error, and craigslist ads. After locking the right artists, they embarked on an almost three-year process to the final creation released now.

J.D. hopes the book will help kids all over the world ease this universal fear and gain a strengthened sense of adventure about life.

Horatio and The Fear of Dying comes to Kickstarter October 3rd, 2017 – It will be available for shipping worldwide.

J.D. Oldenburg lives in Los Angeles, California.

Connect with J.D. Oldenburg

Website | Booksite | Facebook | Book Facebook | Twitter | Book Twitter | Instagram | Bookstagram

Horatio and the Fear of Dying by J.D. Oldenburg

Online Productivity Tools For Bloggers [Guest Post]

Today’s guest post is brought to you by James Porter. Thanks, James!

Online Productivity Tools for Bloggers by James Porter | Guest Post

As a blogger or writer, you are responsible for the articles you create, their quality and how you manage your time to increase productivity. In order to attract visitors to your blog, you have to constantly offer them blog posts that are not only interesting but also flawless. Being a blogger means you do not have the security that an office job offers, so it’s up to you what devices and tools you use to make your job easier. The pressure of being on your own requires a lot of organization and time management skills.

Thanks to the smart devices and advancements in technology you can type a paper or an article faster, easier and focusing less on the spelling and grammar mistakes and more on your creative flow. With the right smart tools, apps and devices bloggers can benefit from a treasure trove of online tools that can help them organize their projects and workload, communicate with clients and readers, manage their time and have the necessary space to store their work.

There is nothing wrong in making your job and life easier if you can. In fact, this is why these tools were created in the first place.

1. FocusWriter

Sometimes, focusing on writing can prove a struggle, especially if you choose to work from home or a public place such as a café. It is very easy to get distracted and lose your focus, whether it is a mail that you get, a notification on Facebook that you cannot refrain from checking or a message on Skype that you want to read. FocusWriter gives you a distraction-free environment. You will have on your screen only a gray text area to work on. No other tabs or applications to distract you.

2. Paper Rater

Paper Rater is a top contextual spell checker which relies on Artificial Intelligence to help you write accurate articles. It is a proofreading tool with an in-built plagiarism detector and grammar checker. It will highlight in green the grammar mistakes and in red the spelling mistakes, also giving you tips on how to create a good article and a list of the most confused phrases and words and their explanation. You do not need to download the tool to use it.

3. 123writings.com

Being a blogger means constantly writing on various topics and always being up to date with the news and latest information. 123writings.com is an online writing company which offers custom paper writing services to a variety of clients. Whenever you feel that you need writing paper help or just to see some of the blogs they are writing, you can contact the company via live chat, email or phone number. It’s perfectly normal to be sometimes stuck and simply have no idea what to write about, so a little help would be exactly what you need to get back on the track.

4. Evernote

As a blogger, you will write hundreds, if not thousands of blog posts, go through numerous articles, resources, books, magazines and much more. With Evernote you can have all this information in one place, storing emails, documents, photos, websites and articles in folders that you can access from any device. You simply create an account and sync your folders across all your gadgets to access them remotely.

5. Grammarly

Why not focus on your ideas and messages you want to put in your articles and let Grammarly focus on grammar, spelling, and plagiarism? Yes, it’s that easy. The app not only checks mistakes but also provides useful explanations for each one of them. Thanks to the embed plagiarism checker you will make sure that your articles do not have duplicate content. Grammarly supports various document types, and you can choose between a blog post, an article, a business document and so on. You can even choose the US or British English. Although Grammarly is free, you might want to consider upgrading to the premium version to benefit from more advanced grammatical and phrasing errors.

A great number of bloggers and paper writers are not native English speakers so using such tools can make their work easier and help them deliver top quality content. With flawless articles, they are able to attract an audience and bring traffic from search engines. Once you start using these tools, you will wonder why you did not do this earlier. They will be your personal assistant, who proofreads your work, organizes your documents, and finds the documents and resources you need.

Writer’s block is a dreadful taught of any blogger. Nobody wants to just stare at the white screen with no idea of what to write about. These productivity tools are just some of the much more that you can access for free on the internet or install them on your computer. Having the right tools and apps can ensure you will never forget ideas and that your blog posts are optimized. Try these tools and see which your favorite ones are.

Let’s chat in the comments below!

Write The Book! [Guest Post]

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Annette Rochelle Aben. Thanks, Annette!

If I could do one thing today, it would be to inspire someone, out there, to write the book. I believe that there is a book inside nearly everyone, a book seeking the chance to have a coming out party! You may be one of those people or you may know one of those people.

Everyone has a story to tell. It could be the story of family heritage, shared through recipes handed down from generation to generation. Possibly, it’s the tale of overcoming addiction to find a wonderful life you never believed possible. You may want to share your adventures of traveling across the country or visiting foreign lands.

Perhaps your imagination simply screams for the outlet to set free the worlds you envision and to breathe life into the characters who speak to you all the time. Maybe you’ve written poetry forever or have a collection of short stories seeking a home away from home. Ah, you may be the person whose doodles would make a terrific adult coloring book!

There is a quote from the late, great, Dr. Wayne Dyer, best-selling author and eternal champion of people being healthy and happy! “Don’t die with your music still inside you.” The depth of this statement speaks to the premise that each of us has something valuable to share. The value is more in the sharing than necessarily how far the reach. The feeling of being able to free that with which you have been blessed is remarkable. Dr. Dyer’s plea reminds us to consider this as important, if not more important than striving for recognition or riches.

Of course, you could receive recognition and riches for a book you pen. There is a teenage boy in the State of Minnesota who wrote a book about how he rescued a cat. He is giving 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the book to a local animal charity that helps cats! A blog, originating in England, picked up the story and shared it with tens of thousands of followers. This young man has begun receiving recognition which may well lead to the riches he wishes to gift to cats in need.

Here is the Facebook page for Saving Stripes: A Kitty’s Story by Justin M. Anderson.

Whatever your story, set it free! Put it on paper so you can hold it in your hands. Marvel at the sheer audacity of your brain to conceive and honor the calling of your heart to believe in your ability to achieve! Give voice to your music! WRITE the BOOK!

About Annette

Michigan author, Annette Rochelle Aben, is ruled by the world of words. Five of her nine self-published books feature haiku poetry. She has also written and published in the self-help and inspirational genres. When she isn’t writing, she is ruled by the world of 3 cats with whom she lives.

Connect with Annette

Blog | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook

Have You Ever Read A Book? [Guest Post]

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Aayush. Thanks, Aayush!

If you have, you will probably be able to relate to what I’m going to be talking about here.

There are books that lure you into them and refuse to let go. They drag you into their world, show you the wonders that are there, the characters that you begin to love, the adventures taking place and the villains that threaten to destroy everything. They cling on to you, trap you, and keep you in their world, until suddenly, they don’t. The books end, and that world ends with them.

When we talk of spells, we often consider them a figment of fiction. We fail to see them all around us. These books that bring tears to our eyes, the ones that elicit laughter, the ones that motivate us, and the ones that excite. How could a bunch of sheets with markings on them wield so much control over our emotions? How could events that have not happened, characters that have not lived, become so dear to us? Certainly, there could be no greater spell than one which creates a world.

Writing a story is, to me, a sacred act. It involves creating your own world, where everything is under your control, and you direct the events taking place. You decide the flavors of romance, adventure, mystery, that are to be added. You mix the tragedy and the comedy in the cauldron, then pour a little depth to the characters- show their past, show their thoughts, show their regrets. And then, after eons of arduous churning and meticulous care, you create a story.

The worst thing someone can say when you’re reeling from the loss of a loved character is “It’s not real.”

And the reason this attempt at consolation is so infuriating is because it’s false. The world created by the writer is just as real as ours is, and the characters were people that we knew personally. The story is not merely scribbles on a paper, but something greater, something more permanent. It is the creation of a universe as imagined by someone, trapped in the confines of the words that the writer has penned. There is life in those pages, a portal that you flip through to glance into that peculiar world.

Many people think that books are an escape from reality. I do not agree. A story is not of leaving the current reality as much as it is exploration of new ones. You’re not merely a reader, my friend; you’re an explorer of worlds.

About Aayush

I’m Aayush, 16 years old and still stuck in school. I love to write about stuff cause it’s a really cool way of expressing your opinions. It’s practically the only way you can talk about something without being interrupted or having to repeat yourself. I can never restrict myself to writing about just one thing, because there’s so much going on and so many interesting things. And anyway, who would like to read about only one topic all the time? That’d be so boring and monotonous. (I just used a big word to sound cool. Don’t act like you don’t do it too.)

I love to write about juicy,  controversial topics,  such as taxationdrugsreservationsLGBT rights,  and so on.

If you’re interested in milder topics, you can check out my posts on fitnessfriendshipimaginationcommunication, and motivation.

Regardless of what you enjoy, you should check out my blog because

A) It has interesting things you might enjoy reading and
B) I really want more views and likes.

You can find me procrastinating on Facebook or reach out to me through emails on aayushthereader [at] gmail [dot] com.

Redwood Summer [Guest Post]

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Robert Kirkendall. It’s the first chapter of his novel, Redwood Summer. Thanks, Robert!

aerial photograph Santa Clara, San Clara county, California

SAN JOSE, CA 1990

Was it all just too good to be true?  Jason was in the passenger seat of a work truck as he reflected on the life changing events of the previous few months.  He looked out across the austere expanse of unadorned one and two story concrete tilt-ups of Silicon Valley as the truck passed one building after another.  I had a good job with room to grow, Jason recalled, I had all my friends, Christine and I didn’t have a care in the world.  How did all change so quick? Jason lamented, then wondered if all the good times were gone.  The morning sun was above the eastern Mount Hamilton range and shone across the late autumn sky.  The faceless buildings cast shadows on half filled parking lots and dry landscaping.

“So what do you think about all this?” Hal asked from the driver’s seat.

“Huh?”  Jason was knocked off his train of thought.

“You know, what’s going on in the Persian Gulf.  They’ve been talking about it on the radio all morning.”

“Oh, I guess I wasn’t paying attention.”  Jason once again noticed the news talk over the radio.  He was a little annoyed at the interruption, then wondered how long his mind was somewhere else.

“Don’t you follow the news?  This is going to be major.”

“Of course.  I was just thinking about some other stuff.”

“We may soon be going to war,” Hal emphasized.  “What’s more important than that?”

“Look, I hear ya,” Jason agreed, “but I got other things on my mind right now.”

“More important than what’s going on?”

“Maybe not, but it’s important to me.”  Jason sensed Hal’s waiting for an answer.  “You know, personal stuff.”  He tried to hold onto the series of memories he was thinking of as he waited for the intrusion to end.

“Okay, I won’t pry.  But you might want to start paying attention to what’s going on.  I’m too old to be drafted, but you aren’t.”

“No one’s been drafted in years,” Jason replied.  “I’m not worried about that.”

“Well if things gets worse, you’ll hear about it,” Hal warned.

“No doubt,” Jason said reflexively.  They drove along further through the maze of nondescript structures.

“Well, maybe it’ll be good for the economy.  Wars usually are,” Hal pointed out.

“Yeah, as long as you don’t get killed.”

“Serious, look around at all these tech businesses.  This whole valley was built because of the Defense Department, and with the Cold War over we need something new to keep the wheels turning.”

Hal continued to talk as Jason looked out the window in thought.  He tried to focus on the day and the job ahead, but the past kept drawing him in.  When did it all start to change? he wondered.  The year started out really good, every weekend was a party, I was working toward my A.A.  Jason then remembered how credit card bills suddenly piled up at around the same time the rent on the house he was sharing went up.  When was that, he wondered, April?  May?  He remembered how his parents let him move back home so he could pay off his debt quicker.  He remembered how he told himself at the time that it was only to be temporary situation, but he also couldn’t help but be bothered by the idea that it was a step backward.

Jason leaned back in his seat and rested his arm on the window frame.  Did my life already hit its peak? he worried.  When did things began to go downhill?  His memory searched from the beginning of the year onward.  He thought back to a company meeting at his last job, not long after he moved back home, but when things were still good.  That was some day, he thought.  They said everything was looking up, and the future was only going to get better.  We were true believers.

Jason focused on that day.

About Robert

Robert KirkendallRobert Kirkendall grew up in San Jose, CA, lives in Santa Cruz, CA, and is the writer/producer/director of Pacific Television Theater, a live drama anthology broadcast from Community TV of Santa Cruz.