Misfit Holidays

Misfits.

Mis-fits.

Missing fits. Fits that miss.

Misfits.

It’s funny. Words can come up so often that we ascribe certain meaning to them that’s beside their literal intent. Like “intercourse” just means an exchange between to people, usual dialogue; but it’s used so often as a euphemism for sex that that’s just what it means now. “Misfits” is the same way for me, just meaning someone whose behavior sets them apart (albeit usually in a negative context, but alas).

It’s probably because they’re surrounded by the two popular kids – Halloween and Christmas – but I’ve long felt that Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve/Day are underrated and don’t get enough attention. Coming by my contrary nature, well, naturally, I consider these my favorite holidays. Thanksgiving, to me, is as pure as western holidays can get, being about time with loved ones and gratitude. It leaves aside all the bells, whistles, and commercialization as the big ones, focusing instead on the important stuff. The meat and potatoes. Brass tacks and all that jazz.

New Years is the same way. It’s a reset button. You get a new year, a clean slate, a fresh start. As such, I really like making Resolutions, and genuinely enjoy keeping to them as best I can. I of course understand that life will make other plans, so they aren’t ironclad, but I use them to better myself as best I can. Not with things like “Read more” or “Be kinder,” because with those you can read a pamphlet or hold the door open for someone once and feel like it’s been checked off.

For 2021, for example and among other things, I set some financial goals and wanted to read ten books. I overshot my financial goals (thank God) and am set to finish Book #26 just in time for 2022.

I started this thinking I would list out my Resolutions for 2022, but I’m gonna recall that. Resolutions genuinely are better as personal goals for you to know, you to accomplish, and you to share (maybe) once they’ve been accomplished. Broadcasting your intent is GOOD, no doubt, but maybe just with BIG moves. Studies somewhere allegedly show, I’ve heard, that broadcasting intent for small achievable goals makes one less likely to finish what they start because we’ll usually receive encouragement for said broadcast then give way to complacency and laziness from there; and I can believe that (totally unverified bit of factoid I’ve just shared with all of you).

Point being this: I hope this New Years, it being one of my favorite holidays, you take it for the healthy reset and opportunity it represents and that you make the most of it. Set some goals, write down your lists, and take steps to make them happen.

Good luck, everybody. Tough to remember sometimes, but we’re all in this together, and I’m rooting for you. ❤

RE: The Leap of Faith Principle

(Full disclosure, been a busy week, so today’s is a re-post from Tuesday.)

Did you know that giant tarantulas will often keep frogs as pets? Apparently they’ll keep them safe from predators and in return the frogs eat insects that would threaten the spider’s eggs before they hatch.
I guess that means Aragog probably chose a toad for his Hogwarts pet, huh?

Happy Tuesday, everybody!

I don’t know where you live, but in the areas around my neighborhood, people put up these signs in their front lawns a lot. They’re black signs with white lettering and they all sport famous historical or motivational quotes. One of my favorites is by poet and activist Maya Angelou, which says:

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
-Maya Angelou

I guess in that way, her quote has a lot in common with Papa Kratos (check out the last post for the reference). It’s terrific because it, like Kratos, doesn’t expect perfection, doesn’t even expect success. It just expects that you’ll apply yourself the best that you can – The. Best. You don’t need to apologize for failure or coming up short, you can keep your apologies and save yourself the time and words. Instead, observe what’s happened, the effects of your efforts, and fold that experience into your next try.

Because of a lot of life events recently (short version: helping my mother renovate her house, retire, and move), I’m still feeling pretty sensitive to motivational sentiments. So that’s what today’s post is. Like some others, this one came together a while ago in probably a single afternoon on the back of a napkin one day at work. We’ll get into more in The Take.

Without furter adieu, I present:

Lindsey’s Dream

I was standing on a cliff by the ocean. There was a rocky precipice about twelve feet out and there was a small crowd of people standing on it. They all looked happy, fulfilled, and whole. I looked down at the space between our places and saw bodies. They were lifeless, broken, bobbing with the ebb and flow of the waves against the rocks. They were the people who had jumped and didn’t make it. I looked behind me and saw an ocean of people. They stood dressed in rags like me, cold, shaking with anxiety and fear. They were the people who never jumped because they had also seen the waves.

I wanted to jump because I wanted to be where the happy people were, but was afraid because I didn’t want to fall. I looked down at the waves again and, this time, saw something I hadn’t noticed before. It was a hand, then another, then another. They were people who had survived the fall and were climbing back up. So I stood and I watched. Not every climber finished, many fell, but one made it and stood next to me.

“What will you do now?” I asked him.

Breathless, he answered simply: “Rest and jump again.”

And he did. He was old and gaunt, he saw there was reason to be afraid, but he jumped. The man fell short, but he clung to the side of the rocky precipice. Eventually, he pulled himself onto it and was folded in among his new peers. I decided to name him ‘Murphy’.

That was when I jumped too. I had seen others jump with a timid step and that lack of conviction made them slip. I jumped with strong legs and a clear mind, but still I fell. The waves were hard, shocking with the cold, and threw me with overwhelming strength. I saw the lifeless forms around me and felt the seduction of giving into the waves. But I remembered the man’s conviction. It was that conviction that drove him to jump, fall, and yet never drown. I looked to the cliffs. The rock up to the precipice was impossible – sheer, flat, and held an imposing slant. The climb I witnessed the old man make was jagged and sharp, but doable. It started with grabbing the first hold.

So it was that I jumped, fell, climbed, and would jump again. Now those sad faces were watching me. Some were silent, others bid me cease my efforts and join them by their heatless fires. I shuffled off their hindering grasps and made another leap. I had learned. I knew how to run, where to step and where not, and which rocks to spring from. I reached my hand out as I had so many times before, but this time found purchase on the precipice. I allowed myself a smile at a few of the successful who took notice, but the rock I held broke and I fell.

This was the first time I’d felt so frozen by the waves in my many leaps from the bluff. I had done everything correctly. I had made my leaps, I had learned from my falls, I had persevered the pain, the cold, the rock. Yet this time it was the rock that had let me go. It was not my fault, but I still fell. So I began to sink, and as the deep blue grew darker the seduction of the bidding cold returned. I felt my feet touch the inviting, slick, uneven bottom and the light began to close in around my vision of the precipice I had been so near.

I would have let the water take me to join the other fallen if I hadn’t seen it. There, from the bottom of the waters at the base of the cliffs, I saw handholds hidden in the flat stone column of the precipice. They were folded, narrow slits in the stone like gills on a fish, only to be seen from an angle the bottom of the water provided. So, I pushed off the bottom, ascended toward the light, and took a filling breath after I broke the surface. The air tasted of old salt, but I had a love for it. I swam to the base of the column and placed my hands upon it. It was flawlessly smooth, like the surface of polished marble, and it was warm.

I soon found the small pockets hidden in the stone, scarcely wide enough for my fingers, and began to climb. It was terribly demanding, but not unlike what I’d endured in my efforts anyway. I climbed, with aching muscles, burning lungs, and quivering joints, but I climbed. I made it to the edge of the precipice I’d leapt for so many times and pulled myself onto it.

“I knew you would make it,” came a familiar voice. I turned and saw Murphy standing there. I smiled in return, looked about my new peers, and was confused. “What’s the matter?” he asked.

“They’re the same,” I said.

I inspected the community atop the precipice. Everyone stood dressed in rags, and while there were those who wore a contented smile like Murphy did, many others frowned or shook with their own cold. I walked between them, wondering what could bring them displeasure when we had made it. I wondered this until I came to the other edge of the precipice and saw.

I looked around me and saw many with discontented faces. I looked down and saw still bodies, bobbing with the ebb and flow of the waves. I looked up and saw another precipice with a small crowd waiting on the other side, all with happy, wholesome faces.

“Will you stay?” Murphy asked, who had followed me.

I looked at him, then back to the precipice. I smiled at him, placed my steps carefully, and I jumped.

FIN

The Take: “Lindsey” is really kind of an arbitrary name for the perspective in this. Ultimately, what it comes down to is the picture of the various aspects of a leap of faith. I think it originates from an old military turn-o’-phrase, but: “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” Back in September of 2018, I left a comfortable manufacturing job to write full-time and put myself on a sabbatical. About two weeks after my last day, my mom got sick, and since then, it’s been a lot of hospital visits, phone calls with insurance, realtors, etc etc.
It was a leap of faith and that turned from coffee-house-bohemia right to dumptruck-of-life-events very quickly, but that’s what a leap of faith is. I think that’s what I’ve come away from this having absorbed, mostly because of this: I’m still here.
I’m still here, my mom has seen better circumstances but I think she’s happy, her house is coming along, I love my family and friends probably now more than ever, and writing has been a lot of wheel-spinning, but it’s gathered bits of traction here and there (check out Hidden Histories by ThirdFlatiron Publishing now and keep an eye out for my episode with the NIGHT LIGHT podcast coming soon! *plug plug nudge nudge*).
It began as a leap of faith, has NOT gone according to plan, but that’s alright. And I guess just try to bear that in mind the next time you’re faced with a choice that comes with a jump (or if you’re in one now). People treat it like a coin toss with Success/Failure being like Life/Death and I just don’t think that’s true. Especially because even though this jump’s come up Tails, a lot of good has come from it and I can always jump again.

Anyway, that’s enough lecturing. I’ll catch you guys Thursday!

Ciao.

Today’s Fable Fact source: https://roaring.earth/tarantulas-and-frogs-are-friends-with-benefits/



The Leap of Faith Principle – I’m Still Here (+ “Lindsey’s Dream”)

Did you know that giant tarantulas will often keep frogs as pets? Apparently they’ll keep them safe from predators and in return the frogs eat insects that would threaten the spider’s eggs before they hatch.
I guess that means Aragog probably chose a toad for his Hogwarts pet, huh?

Happy Tuesday, everybody!

I don’t know where you live, but in the areas around my neighborhood, people put up these signs in their front lawns a lot. They’re black signs with white lettering and they all sport famous historical or motivational quotes. One of my favorites is by poet and activist Maya Angelou, which says:

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
-Maya Angelou

I guess in that way, her quote has a lot in common with Papa Kratos (check out the last post for the reference). It’s terrific because it, like Kratos, doesn’t expect perfection, doesn’t even expect success. It just expects that you’ll apply yourself the best that you can – The. Best. You don’t need to apologize for failure or coming up short, you can keep your apologies and save yourself the time and words. Instead, observe what’s happened, the effects of your efforts, and fold that experience into your next try.

Because of a lot of life events recently (short version: helping my mother renovate her house, retire, and move), I’m still feeling pretty sensitive to motivational sentiments. So that’s what today’s post is. Like some others, this one came together a while ago in probably a single afternoon on the back of a napkin one day at work. We’ll get into more in The Take.

Without furter adieu, I present:

Lindsey’s Dream

I was standing on a cliff by the ocean. There was a rocky precipice about twelve feet out and there was a small crowd of people standing on it. They all looked happy, fulfilled, and whole. I looked down at the space between our places and saw bodies. They were lifeless, broken, bobbing with the ebb and flow of the waves against the rocks. They were the people who had jumped and didn’t make it. I looked behind me and saw an ocean of people. They stood dressed in rags like me, cold, shaking with anxiety and fear. They were the people who never jumped because they had also seen the waves.

I wanted to jump because I wanted to be where the happy people were, but was afraid because I didn’t want to fall. I looked down at the waves again and, this time, saw something I hadn’t noticed before. It was a hand, then another, then another. They were people who had survived the fall and were climbing back up. So I stood and I watched. Not every climber finished, many fell, but one made it and stood next to me.

“What will you do now?” I asked him.

Breathless, he answered simply: “Rest and jump again.”

And he did. He was old and gaunt, he saw there was reason to be afraid, but he jumped. The man fell short, but he clung to the side of the rocky precipice. Eventually, he pulled himself onto it and was folded in among his new peers. I decided to name him ‘Murphy’.

That was when I jumped too. I had seen others jump with a timid step and that lack of conviction made them slip. I jumped with strong legs and a clear mind, but still I fell. The waves were hard, shocking with the cold, and threw me with overwhelming strength. I saw the lifeless forms around me and felt the seduction of giving into the waves. But I remembered the man’s conviction. It was that conviction that drove him to jump, fall, and yet never drown. I looked to the cliffs. The rock up to the precipice was impossible – sheer, flat, and held an imposing slant. The climb I witnessed the old man make was jagged and sharp, but doable. It started with grabbing the first hold.

So it was that I jumped, fell, climbed, and would jump again. Now those sad faces were watching me. Some were silent, others bid me cease my efforts and join them by their heatless fires. I shuffled off their hindering grasps and made another leap. I had learned. I knew how to run, where to step and where not, and which rocks to spring from. I reached my hand out as I had so many times before, but this time found purchase on the precipice. I allowed myself a smile at a few of the successful who took notice, but the rock I held broke and I fell.

This was the first time I’d felt so frozen by the waves in my many leaps from the bluff. I had done everything correctly. I had made my leaps, I had learned from my falls, I had persevered the pain, the cold, the rock. Yet this time it was the rock that had let me go. It was not my fault, but I still fell. So I began to sink, and as the deep blue grew darker the seduction of the bidding cold returned. I felt my feet touch the inviting, slick, uneven bottom and the light began to close in around my vision of the precipice I had been so near.

I would have let the water take me to join the other fallen if I hadn’t seen it. There, from the bottom of the waters at the base of the cliffs, I saw handholds hidden in the flat stone column of the precipice. They were folded, narrow slits in the stone like gills on a fish, only to be seen from an angle the bottom of the water provided. So, I pushed off the bottom, ascended toward the light, and took a filling breath after I broke the surface. The air tasted of old salt, but I had a love for it. I swam to the base of the column and placed my hands upon it. It was flawlessly smooth, like the surface of polished marble, and it was warm.

I soon found the small pockets hidden in the stone, scarcely wide enough for my fingers, and began to climb. It was terribly demanding, but not unlike what I’d endured in my efforts anyway. I climbed, with aching muscles, burning lungs, and quivering joints, but I climbed. I made it to the edge of the precipice I’d leapt for so many times and pulled myself onto it.

“I knew you would make it,” came a familiar voice. I turned and saw Murphy standing there. I smiled in return, looked about my new peers, and was confused. “What’s the matter?” he asked.

“They’re the same,” I said.

I inspected the community atop the precipice. Everyone stood dressed in rags, and while there were those who wore a contented smile like Murphy did, many others frowned or shook with their own cold. I walked between them, wondering what could bring them displeasure when we had made it. I wondered this until I came to the other edge of the precipice and saw.

I looked around me and saw many with discontented faces. I looked down and saw still bodies, bobbing with the ebb and flow of the waves. I looked up and saw another precipice with a small crowd waiting on the other side, all with happy, wholesome faces.

“Will you stay?” Murphy asked, who had followed me.

I looked at him, then back to the precipice. I smiled at him, placed my steps carefully, and I jumped.

FIN

The Take: “Lindsey” is really kind of an arbitrary name for the perspective in this. Ultimately, what it comes down to is the picture of the various aspects of a leap of faith. I think it originates from an old military turn-o’-phrase, but: “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” Back in September of 2018, I left a comfortable manufacturing job to write full-time and put myself on a sabbatical. About two weeks after my last day, my mom got sick, and since then, it’s been a lot of hospital visits, phone calls with insurance, realtors, etc etc.
It was a leap of faith and that turned from coffee-house-bohemia right to dumptruck-of-life-events very quickly, but that’s what a leap of faith is. I think that’s what I’ve come away from this having absorbed, mostly because of this: I’m still here.
I’m still here, my mom has seen better circumstances but I think she’s happy, her house is coming along, I love my family and friends probably now more than ever, and writing has been a lot of wheel-spinning, but it’s gathered bits of traction here and there (check out Hidden Histories by ThirdFlatiron Publishing now and keep an eye out for my episode with the NIGHT LIGHT podcast coming soon! *plug plug nudge nudge*).
It began as a leap of faith, has NOT gone according to plan, but that’s alright. And I guess just try to bear that in mind the next time you’re faced with a choice that comes with a jump (or if you’re in one now). People treat it like a coin toss with Success/Failure being like Life/Death and I just don’t think that’s true. Especially because even though this jump’s come up Tails, a lot of good has come from it and I can always jump again.

Anyway, that’s enough lecturing. I’ll catch you guys Thursday!

Ciao.

Today’s Fable Fact source: https://roaring.earth/tarantulas-and-frogs-are-friends-with-benefits/

Let’s Get Real #2: My Mental Coaches are Fictitious (Mostly)

Did you know there’s a kind of bamboo that only blossoms about once every 130 years, and when it does, every stalk blooms and then dies at the same time – no matter where on the planet the stalks are. Damn Nature…

Hey, happy Thursday, everybody.

I like to think I have a mind for quotes, but then again, I think most of us do. When you hear something that resonates with you either on a personal level or in a way that relates to the present moment you come across it, those words can be powerful. Very powerful.

Once upon a time, I resolved to consider wisdom that did that for me, no matter where I found it. When I decided to keep my ears open in that way, I started realizing that a lot of the places that my mantras and sayings came from were…unexpected. I also realized that I talk to my self – All. The. Time. And not always offering sayings in my own voice (if that makes sense).

Where those sayings come from is just as varied as the things they have to impart. Today, I’d like to go over my team of mental coaches, or at least, the top three I hear the most often. Maybe the next time you’re having a rough go, you’ll find a use for what they tell me – or realize you have some of your own!

Anyway, introducing first:

#1Deadpool
“Maximum Effort!”

Deadpool’s here because he’s likable, a crowd favorite, and his advice is incredibly straightforward. If you’ve seen his movie, it’s captured in those two dutiful words. I’ve used this for everything from finishing that hard trail run or getting through a tough emotional moment to just plain ol’ getting out of bed in the morning. It’s simple and to the point. It doesn’t scream “Do it!” quite like Shia LaBeouf or the cliche “You can do it!” All it asks is that you give your best, and not in that tired way kids hear their parents tell them.

Folded into those words isn’t a demand or expectation that you accomplish what you’re striving to do, it just expects you give it your genuine maximum. It doesn’t care about failure, just how much of you gets put into it. Often times, you’ll be surprised by what you can do with a lil’ of this.

#2 – Kratos
“Do not be sorry. Be better.”

Aaaah! I love this one! And even though we’re marking it number two, it might be my favorite just by Chill Factor (that’s level of goosebumps, not how cool you feel on a beanbag chair). It has a lot in common with Deadpool’s “Maximum Effort”, actually, in that it also accepts failure – in fact, the phrase is all about it.

For any who’ve played (or at least heard about) 2018’s “God of War” or its previous installments, chances are you’ve heard of Kratos. He’s the Greek…well, God of War. In last year’s game, his story continues and we find he has a son. During one of the scenes in the game [NO SPOILERS], Atreus, his son, sort of messes up on a hunt. He turns to Big Papa Kratos and says it: “Do not be sorry. Be better.” What’s so great about it is what it says by not saying it. In six little words, it says all of this:
“Don’t apologize, not because you’ve done nothing wrong, but because it’s alright to be wrong, make a mistake. In fact, you need to make mistakes to improve. Only, learn from them. Don’t wallow in guilt over a mistake or accident, because that does absolutely nothing. Not you, me, nor anyone else gains from your wallowing or regret. Do not be sorry, be better. I’m not mad. I don’t want your guilt, your sadness, or your reasons – I want you to grow. So do not apologize. Learn, be better.”

#3 – Kevin Hart
“Stop bein’ a bitch!”

Alright, so not all of them are fictional characters. Also, this one doesn’t need much explaining (I hope). Sometimes, it’s just a good thing to hear if Deadpool’s advice doesn’t quite get through. Besides, Hart has a good voice and comedic presence to take the bite out of a bit like this. To boot, in real life, the man himself is a part of a huge positivity movement (I encourage you to check out the events he’s done with Nike or his interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast).

#4 – Conor McGregor [Bonus]

He’s been more and more of a controversial character in recent years, and for good reason. Especially during his rise in the UFC before becoming champion (the first time), he was always a brash talker, but also had more than a fair share of motivational statements and this one’s no different:

“In the struggle, when things are going good and you visualize these good things happening and you visualize more good things happening – that’s easy, that’s easy. What’s not easy to do, is when things are going bad and you’re visualizing the good stuff.”

I don’t want to comment much on the man’s actions of late, but I also don’t want to understate the importance of this advice. When things are difficult, it can be easy to get lost in how poorly things look.

Anyway, that’s all for now. See ya Tuesday, y’all.

Interested in more? Like knee-slappers and chin-scratchers? Check out my first published work in the Third Flatiron’s “Hidden Histories” anthology here (and tell ’em Evan sent ya!): 
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PRN5ZQ1

Today’s FableFact source:  https://grapee.jp/en/114838

Dawning of a New Era

Okay. First post, starting in three…two…

…now.

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.

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.

FIN

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:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PRN5ZQ1

Ciao, for now.