Okay. First post, starting in three…two…
Did you know that in Rock, Paper, Scissors, 80% of people will throw Scissors first?
Phew. Well, that wasn’t so bad. Now that the ice-breaker’s out of the way, I guess we can be polite and move onto introductions.
Hey all, name’s Evan. I’m an emerging author out of Northern California. What’s that mean? Means I’m an optimistic git that left his day job to write fiction full(ish)-time. What’s that mean? Means I don’t have exactly forever to make me a prolific figure in literature.
That’s where this operation – and YOU – come in. I write new stuff all the time and while that’s happening, the “old stuff” piles up. I’m calling this “The Light of Day” because I’m, in part, making it the spot for all those scribblings that wouldn’t see it otherwise (*snarf snarf*). I’ve described it a bit like my rookie card that will be really cool when I hit the Big Leagues.
But for real, this is where I’ll post previously tucked-away stories from workshops, thought experiments, and old concept work-up’s (with commentary, for that sweet cherry on top) that all need a comfy display case. Plus some true stories from my own life that I love telling but don’t have the heart to honor with an open mic set. And I’m sure if I’m not careful, it’ll be a fun place to learn about US copyright law.
Anyway, let’s get to it. First up, an old one and first jump into a fully allegorical work.
I present: The Heron.
Kyle groaned as she slowly awoke, her eyes painfully fluttering open as they took in the light. Though this wasn’t the first time she’d lost consciousness like that while in this place, she gasped once fully awake. The vast distance between herself and the ground still unnerved her despite its practiced appearance with every new waking. As she hung there, her head pounded and her fingers felt bloated with their prolonged suspension. She began wondering how long she had been out as the Heron made another pass a short distance away. The gust sent from its powerful wings made her sway ever so gently and brought a pulse of pain from her ankles.
The Heron. Kyle’s gut told her the Heron meant her no harm, though she felt certain it was aware of her presence. At any point, she knew, the giant bird could glide by and pluck her from the sky like a grape from a vine. But every time she awoke, the bird flew by. And every time it let her be.
It would come make its passes every few hours – at least it felt like hours between the great bird’s appearances. There was no sun in this place and no moon by which to judge time, only the blank white void of open space on all sides, the ground far, far below, and the door high above her. Reminded again of her goal, she looked to her feet which ached, bound at the ankle by the Cord that tied her to this place.
The Cord. She had no memory of coming to this bizarre, empty place, and while it felt foreign, she sensed an elementary familiarity from the Heron that watched her and the Cord that bound her. It was secured tightly about her ankles at one end, while the other extended high above to the upper surface of the sky where the door waited. It taunted her at times, boasting the vast distance it crossed while at others it offered hope, being the means by which she might escape; though this knowledge brought with it a thought that gnawed at the back of her mind and recalled her attention to the blade tucked in the small of her back.
The Knife. She didn’t know how she’d come to have it, but that seemed to fit – it felt like a part of this place rather than something of hers or her past. What she did know, what she could feel, was the tempting offer of release it carried: a release from the pain, release from this struggle, a release from the door and the thirst of it for which she suffered. At any time she could use it to cut the Cord and fall rather than face the climb before her.
Kyle shook the thought from her mind and breathed deep. She blinked rapidly and looked about her, twisting and turning her body to scan her unchanging surroundings, but mostly to limber up. As she became more lively, the memory of her last attempt before blacking out weaved its way into her thoughts. She’d begun to climb and made it some distance but lost her grip on the Cord and fell, dislocating her left hip. She lightly patted it now, as it had returned to normal, the way her injuries always did upon waking.
Her eyes caught sight of the Heron in the distance and though the thought of the overwhelming pain troubled her as she considered the climb again, its sway over her felt strangely muffled as she focused on the great bird. She felt another breeze on the wind from the Heron’s wake and the chill made her skin tingle, her hair raise, and breathed a renewed life into the her ember spirit. She looked to the Cord now with new purpose.
With a grit to her teeth, she folded her body over and gripped the Cord just beyond her feet. She bent her knees as she pulled the cable in and straightened her body once she’d made enough progress that she might support herself with one standing loop for her feet and another about her forearm. A sigh of relief fell easily from her lips as the blood drained from her head and the pressure faded. She looked up at the few hundred meters of cable between herself and her goal. Sounding a grunt to start, Kyle began pulling cable and started her climb.
The journey upwards was difficult. Her muscles burned and her breath came hard. She had grown wiser since her previous failures and learned to collect lengths of cable with her climb and fashion holds with them that she might earn brief respite between climbs. Still, even with this new strategy in place, she experienced little more relief than when she had hung far below. Often, her mind drifted to thoughts of the Knife, but she fought them off as best she could. The strain made her bones ache as she pulled herself skyward and yet they wracked whenever she paused idle for breath. Kyle rested and turned thought to how long she had been fighting when saw the Heron once more, though this time much closer.
She could see its muscles contort as it used its wings and watched its noble blue feathers ripple with the motions of flight. The bird made only the soft sound of wind as it keenly sliced the air about her. Kyle felt its eyes upon her as she admired its course through the void and soon met them with her own gaze. Her world slowed as the two locked eyes and for the briefest moment she felt nothing but the wind. In that moment, the Heron had made her a promise. She slowly nodded and looked again to the door. She was surprised to find how much closer it was. So much focus had been on her hands, technique, and the Cord before her, she didn’t notice the distance she’d come. She breathed a small breath of thanks and tensed herself for the final stretch, intent on earning the bird’s promise.
As Kyle continued her ascent, she noticed the bird didn’t stray as it usually did. The beast continued its watch during her final hours of contest with the Cord and rose through the sky with her. It pumped its wings more and more and would squawk whenever she slipped or faltered, as an attentive parent or coach. The closer Kyle came to her goal, the more excited the bird’s movements also grew. As she took her final pulls and laid her hand at long last against her goal, she looked to the Heron and whispered her thanks. With the last of her strength, she pushed the door open and lifted herself through.
She collapsed on the other side and fell into the soft grass of her Elysium as the manacles of the Cord vanished from her ankles, leaving the thick rope to fall. She lied breathless of weary exhaustion. Kyle rolled to her knees and turned her face to the sky. She screamed with the strongest emotions she’d ever felt until her lungs could give no more. The tears she earned slowly rolled down her cheeks and burned as they fell. Through her blurred vision, she could see the Heron high above, dancing through the sky. As a smile came to her lips, her eyes fell closed, and for a moment that seemed a blissful eternity, she felt nothing but the softness of the wind.
The Take: This one’s from waaaaay back in 2015 and I think it came together in a single evening. The whole idea came together when, at work, I saw a spider hanging from a line of web. It was right there in the middle of the room with high ceilings at about head height and it struck me as weird. To me, it’s just a spider that happens to be near my forehead. But the spider is basically at the end of a 300-meter rope and its options are climb all the way back up or fall. Obviously it’s different since it’s a friggin’ spider, but the idea of being in that same circumstance, suspended in a vastly open space like that, with those options – felt like food for thought. Interpret it any other way you’d like, but to me the Heron was always determination, the Cord is the challenge, and the Knife was capitulation (“giving up” – the way out that’s always there). I think any of us that’s had a goal, heaps of struggle that came with it, but pressed on to realize it anyway – however big or small – can relate to Kyle.
Aaaaaand that’s the gist. This should be pretty cool. (I hope so, at any rate, ’cause I’m gonna charge forward with it whether it is or not.) Keep a look out every Tuesday and Thursday for new stuff, see the progression unfold as I monkey with this new toolkit, plus links to where you can check out my other published works (anthologies, e-zines, podcasts, etc).
Interested in more? Like knee-slappers and chin-scratchers? Check out my first published work in the Third Flatiron’s “Hidden Histories” anthology here:
Ciao, for now.