Interpretation

Diamond jewel on blue background

Crystal Clarity


So, you’re watching a really awesome video online and you think to yourself, “My friend Soziso would really love this.”  You notice Soziso is online, so you drop him the link and go back to admiring the beautiful imagery playing out before your eyes.  You just know Soziso is gonna love it.  A few minutes later, he pings you and says, “What is this crap?”  Your jaw becomes unhinged and hits the floor.  You thought you knew Soziso, his likes and dislikes, and this video is so far up his alley, there’s a Bentley parked at the exit.  “You don’t like it?” You text back.  “Video lags, picture’s garbled,” he responds.  Now you begin to understand.  Sozi lives in India and the Internet connection can sometimes be a gnarly bitch.  Plus, Sozi’s computer is a relic.  He’s not seeing the same video quality you are, so how can he have a similar experience?

Hardware interprets software.

This presents an important lesson for writers.  The images and impressions you see in your mind when you write are interpreted by your hardware (your brain), but readers will be using their own hardware to interpret your words.  This is what makes clarity in writing such an awesome (and sometimes loathsome) responsibility when it comes to editing and revision.  It’s also the reason your writing can attract so many different opinions and viewpoints, no two people are using the same hardware to interpret your software.

The best you can do is attempt to achieve the highest point of clarity you can find by evaluating your work objectively.  Is there any chance someone might misinterpret this sentence?  If so, play with it until it becomes clearer and more suited to your original intention.  If a beta reader expresses confusion over any part of your work, consider this opinion stamped in gold, because it is.  While this section of writing may be clear to you, someone else’s hardware is having difficulty interpreting your software.  Set ego aside and do your best to fix it.  As a writer, you must learn to sacrifice ego for the strength of the story, because story comes first and no story can survive a lack of clarity.


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Posted in Process, Writing

Tweet, Tweet

Maybe it’s just me.  It could be an age factor.  Or maybe the world changes so fast from one day to the next, it’s hard to keep up. The thing is, I’ve recently become more active on Twitter, but even after reading through the help pages, I still don’t understand how the site works or how to use it right.  I muddle through.  I make mistakes.  I laugh at myself, say, “Oops,” and hope I didn’t piss someone off, or step on their toes.  I understand using hashtags helps the tweet go places it might not otherwise go, but I have no idea why, or which tags are the right ones to use.  I’m with the over fifty crowd, I didn’t grow up with this technology, so it’s nowhere near second nature for me.  Heck, I still refuse to own a cell phone.  Go ahead and laugh, but for so long as I believe a cell phone has the ability to kill bees and possibly cause brain tumors, I’m not stepping in that ring.  Besides, they tell us technology is supposed to make our lives simpler.  I suppose it might work that way for some, but talk to anyone who has been involved in a car accident because someone else was texting or chatting on a phone instead of focusing on the road and then explain how life got simpler for those unfortunate souls.  And, when was the last time you had a minute to yourself?  I mean truly a moment you could call your own, without thinking about posting a selfie on Facebook, or the vibration of a phone in your pocket?  I don’t mean to harp.  If your connection to technology brings you joy, then who I am to tell you not to dive into that lovely pool?  Joy is where it’s at…follow your joy!  Personally, I love my Me time.  I would go absolutely bonkers without it.  I value precious moments of solitude.  Meditation.  Contemplation.  Maybe it’s part of my American Indian ancestry.  I remember a fellow once asking me, “What’s the saddest thing in life?”  My answer: To die without knowing yourself.  So, how can I embark on a journey of self-discovery with a cell phone stuck to my ear?  I can’t.  I need that Me time.

I really am interested in learning how to Twitter my tweets the right way.  For now, as I expressed to Margaret Atwood in a recent tweet, my bird is flapping around in circles, confused by all the chaos.  My guess is I’ll get there with practice.  Would I bother if I didn’t have to?  Probably not.  Fact is, I’d rather sit on the banks of a clear stream, soak in the wisdom of the universe, and maybe catch a speck of inspiration for my next book.

Balance.  Everything in life is about attaining the right balance.

@AuthBKCRAWFORD

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Posted in Author, Process, Writing

Good Girls Don’t Become Best-Sellers—Channeling Your Inner “Bad Girl” to Reach Your Dreams

Excellent Advice for the Ladies!

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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I am currently reading Kate White’s I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This: Success Secrets Every Gutsy Girl Should Know. There are bad books, okay books, good books and great books. But there is another kind of book and it’s the rarest.

The game-changer.

White has a witty, sassy style. She is seamlessly intelligent and down-to-earth in her fiction. And guess what? Her nonfiction delivers more of the same.

I’ve never recommended a book I haven’t finished, but this one has me far too excited. Even if Ms. White devolves into dirty limericks for the rest of the book? I still feel I have spent my money well. There are some points she makes which I feel are especially poignant and applicable to writers.

Part of the reason I’m referring to her book in this blog (even though I’m not yet finished) is that I might just chicken out unless I…

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Posted in Writing

J.J. Houston: Murder on Moon Street Book Trailer

So, I had the book trailer produced and I’m excited to share it with everyone.

Yezzah!

If it interest you, more information can be found HERE.

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Posted in Book Trailer, Fiction Novel

World Wide Spider Webs

SpiderWWWeb


I’m angry at the Internet today.  Not frustrated, not irked, but pissed.  As in, if I had a bazooka at my disposal…

It hadn’t occurred to me before, but now I get it: They call it the “web” because that’s exactly what it is.  One giant, sticky spider web.  I hear the cautionary voice echo in my head, “Don’t go there, Mr. Frodo!”

Moments later, I’ve convinced myself, after checking on just one thing, I’ll close the browser.  I absolutely will not stay online.  I’ll skirt around the edges, just for a few minutes, but there’s no way the web is going to ensnare me today because I’m totally hip to its tricks.

So, I open the browser window, promising…no…reciting a solemn vow: I will not spend more than five minutes doing what I have to do.

Hit and run.

I’ll sign in, click twice, then hit the big X on the nose and leave it bleeding.  That’s the plan.  And, by God, it’s written in stone because I need to close out the chapter I’ve been grueling over for the past week.  It should be in the box by now.  What happened?  That freakin’ spider web.

Not today.

Four hours later, I’m wondering who drank my tea, why I have to urinate so badly, and who the hell sneaked in here to eat a whole box of Boston creams?  It couldn’t have been me.  I’m starving.

Once again, I have failed.  My body is so thick with spider spit, I’ll have to spend a month in the shower just to dissolve the goo.

Somehow I managed to close the browser, but not before the fly caught in the silk beside me expelled a single word with its last breath.  I tried to pretend I didn’t hear it, but it’s repeating in my mind as clear as diamond on vinyl, “Sucker.”



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Posted in Internet, Procrastination, Web, Writing

Cradle The Blanching Bones

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I saw the area code on the caller ID and knew who it was right away. I thought to let it ring, allow the answering machine to pick up, but I knew she’d call back again and again until I took her call.

I greeted her with a jovial voice, and she asked if I’d purchased my fake moxie on sale at Sears. A wise woman, she. I laughed and heard her snort on the other end of the line. I missed her, but felt it best to keep that morsel of information to myself. One would think, after all these years, I’d understand her connections weren’t made by Ma Bell; the woman’s psychic, especially when it comes to matters concerning me; there is no corner carved dark enough in which to hide from her probing intuition.

“So, how’s the scorching desert?” She asked.

“The weather’s been wonderful,” I lied, choosing not to reveal the fact I’d struggled with a bloody nose for two weeks and had lost nearly ten pounds of water weight since my arrival. Worst of all, there didn’t seem to be anything green growing in the sandbox they call Vegas; a far cry from the fields and streams that had reared me on the farm in Pennsylvania.

“Settling in to your new job?” She wanted to know. I heard Petie in the background, barking at the postman or a passerby. I missed him, too, my protector, my soul mate, my aging German shepherd—it nearly tore my heart out to leave him behind.

“The folks at the casino have been fantastic. It’s a good career move.”

She cleared her throat and I heard the sound of ice cubes hitting the bottom of a glass tumbler—rum and coke no doubt, as she insisted on her long-term affair with Captain Morgan.

I assured her all was well and we chatted until the Captain slurred her tones.

She phoned every week for two years. Her voice grew more desperate for me with each call, and my soul ached for her as well. In July, the postman delivered an envelope to my door, postmarked Pennsylvania. I expected a lengthy letter, perhaps begging me to return home to help her run the farm. There was no letter. Instead, the envelope contained a single blade of green grass.

***

“United Airlines, flight 342. Departing Las Vegas, arriving in Scranton at 5:45.”

She was at the gate awaiting my arrival.

“Hi, Mom,” I said, handing the envelope back to her. She donned a wry smile, threw her arm around my shoulders and whisked me back to the burgeoning fields of my youth, the fields that will, one day, cradle my blanching bones.


All Rights Reserved.  Copyright 2015-B.K. Crawford.


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Posted in Family & Relationships, Fiction, Short Story

Interview with Kathryn Brettell, Author of, “The Olive Picker”

Memoir by Kathryn Brettell

Memoir by Kathryn Brettell

I recently had the pleasure to read one the most amazing and heart-wrenching memoirs I’ve ever read.  The author, Kathryn Brettell, gracefully agreed to an interview.  If you haven’t read The Olive Picker yet, I highly recommend it. The book already has 38 *FIVE star reviews from raving fans.  This Lady went through pure hell and somehow managed not only to survive, but to triumph over overwhelming circumstances.

The Olive Picker starts out with a gripping opening chapter. Did you plan it that way, or did you do some shuffling once the book was finished?

Both. I wrote an outline before I got started and once all the pieces on the outline were written, I shuffled the chapters around until I was happy with it.

How long did writing the book take, from start to finish?

I started writing on May 1, 2014 and finished the first draft after five weeks of solid writing (nearly day and night, the words were just rocketing out of my fingers). After the edits and proofreading, it published on May 2, 2015. One year and a day: I’m told that’s called a Witch’s Year although I don’t really know what that means. 

Some people never quite get over the self-esteem issues that arise as a consequence of childhood abuse. Did you overcome those issues and, if so, what helped you rise above them?

Hmm, well, I’d like to say I have overcome all my self-esteem issues, but that would be a lie. One can’t overcome that which they deny exists. I don’t believe I saw the world through healthy eyes until I was nearly killed. In fighting back and surviving, I experienced an awakening where a lot of the old insecurities fell away like an outgrown shell. It was really quite something.

Writing a memoir can be an intimidating act. How have the people in your personal life reacted to the book?

Quite positively, actually. Everyone in my family who have read it, have responded favorably.

Many people use writing as a therapeutic device. Did writing The Olive Picker give you a sense of release, or closure?

I don’t believe in closure. Stuff happens, and there’s nothing you can do to ‘forget’ or ‘close the chapter,’ in my opinion. What has resulted from my writing The Olive Picker, has been a deeper understanding of what caused me to make the decisions I made throughout my life. The bigger picture of what it means to be truly loved by and bonded with another person, and how the lack of it stunts a child’s psyche, that vision is the gift I’ve received from writing the book.

Do you suffer any psychological backlash from the events depicted in your book? If so, what are they, and how do you manage them?

 None, honestly. None at all.

Do you have any advice for others who may be trapped in abusive relationships?

Yes. But, precisely because those people are ‘trapped,’ my advice is most often directed at the friends of those in the abusive relationships. I tell them to identify the behavior. Call it out and talk to those affected. Peeling the curtain back and talking about it openly takes away a lot of its power. Encourage them to join a group, and attend with them if possible. We all need a tribe; and we need to be offered safe haven. Sometimes it may appear the person isn’t listening-but they are. The most important thing they need, is to know they have options.

What sparked your interest in writing?

I’ve always loved to write. I love how I can put words together to say succinctly the things I can’t speak.

Do you have plans for another book? If so, can you tell us about your next project?

I do believe I will write another book, and I have several snippets saved. However, I have no idea what direction I will go.

What would you say is the most fulfilling aspect of having written The Olive Picker? And, what advice can you offer writers who are on the fence about writing a memoir?

The most fulfilling aspect is the reaction of readers, both male and female. I never expected it would resonate with so many people. I have received loads of personal stories from readers, so I know they recognize the truth and honesty of what I wrote. That’s very satisfying.

I was on the fence about writing my story, frankly, I felt really presumptuous thinking anyone would want to read about me. I had good friends who asked me about what had happened, and it was their encouragement that made me believe it was a story worth telling.

The feeling that my story can help others-that’s gold.

Many thanks, Kathryn, for granting me this interview.  I wish you the very best with your blockbuster book!

kathib

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Posted in Author Interview, Book Review, Kathryn Brettell, Living, Non-Fiction, Survival, The Olive Picker

My First Author Interview

My fellow writer, Kathryn Brettell, author of, “The Olive Picker,” an intense memoir, conducted the following interview while I was nipping off what was left of my fingernails.  I hope you enjoy it.


“This is an engaging read. It romps right along with humor and intrigue. I was instantly attracted to smart-talking J.J., a very likable character whose wit remained consistent throughout the entire book. I found this to be a fun book that carried me into another time and place, with the added bonus of introducing enough archaeological facts to teach me something new and interesting. Highly recommend this book!” 

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I had the opportunity to ask B.K. Crawford a few questions, to get to know her a little better. Below are her responses:

1.) J.J. Houston: Murder on Moon Street is your third published book? What was your inspiration for this story?

Yes, J.J. is my third novel. The book started out as a memoir. I recently slipped into menopause (okay, I smacked into it like soft melon on a brick wall) and the emotional turmoil left me yearning for the days of my youth. So, as a fiction writer, I thought, since I don’t own a time machine, I can at least try to whisk myself back into my childhood. What started out as a memoir, quickly morphed into an action/adventure/mystery based on some real events. (Hint: Check out The ‘Bear Slapped’ chapter).

2.) You include a fair bit of archaeological information in this book, has it always interested you? Is archaeology incorporated in all your books?

Archaeology has always been a passion and fascination for me, just as it is for J. J. Sadly, I never pursued the field although I most certainly meant to. Instead, I stayed on the sidelines as an ardent researcher. But, I don’t hear the fat lady singing, so there’s still time, and I may yet end up on a dig in some exotic place. Archaeology does play some role in most of my books, although you won’t find any reference to it in The Future Queen, which is a comedic farce based on Arthurian legend. My interest in the legend itself probably came about because of my interest in archaeology and ancient history.

3.) Your characters really come to life, are any based on real people?

Not usually, but it’s a big fat yes for Jennifer Jane and her family. As I said, the book started out as a memoir, so many of J. J.’s thoughts, interests, attitudes, and reactions are based on my own. J.J. is named after an online friend, a woman who is a real fire cracker. I chose her because I felt she and I had a lot of “down-home” qualities in common. (A big shout-out to Jenny!) Fortunately, I don’t know anyone like Hank Hornbrook, although I did borrow some of his evil qualities from people I knew in real life. “Write what you know,” I’m told.

4.) When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing most?

I fell in love with reading when Dick and Jane threw a ball to Spot. Getting lost in a good book is like taking a mini vacation. I still research a lot in archaeology and anthropology. I enjoy surfing the web and kicking back with a good novel. Fuel for the fire. When I’m reading, I often get ideas for new works, or an unexpected spark will ignite a new plot twist for a work in progress.

5.) J.J. Houston has such a whip-smart humor, which really endears her to the reader. Have you always seen the funny side of life?

Not always. It’s sad, but true, that the best comedians in life have known the greatest suffering. It’s the way we choose to judge the events in our lives that makes the difference. It’s all perspective. We laugh or we cry. I’ve experienced cycling through these phases in my life, with long periods of laughter and long periods of absolute desolation. But, if you recall, my original aim in writing J.J. was to return to a happier period in my life. It was my way of cheating misery by going back in time without the required machinery. The young years in my life were days of total abandon. No real responsibilities, no worries, and a false sense of immortality. God, I miss those days. So, there’s a good chance I’ll attempt a sequel. What a hoot.



*Note: J.J. is currently FREE on Amazon until August 25th, 2015.  Click the picture above to download.*

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Posted in Author, Books, Opinion

Writer Interrupted

TooLoud

“Turn the music down, Darling.  It’s difficult to concentrate.”

Desmond strolled…no…sauntered…

Sauntered, yes.

Desmond sauntered into the pub

Searching for Belinda

She’s all right, she’s all right…cocaine.

 

“Please, Darling?  Keep the music down?”

Searching for Belinda.

She was angry, he knew,

But she’d been angry before.

The right words

Would soothe her mood.

Lay Lady, lay…lay across my big brass bed.

 

“The music is too loud.  If you wouldn’t mind?”

He’d have her home

Before midnight

Wrapped neatly in his arms

Dream lover come rescue me…ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh.

 

Strike that, make it:

Neatly wrapped in his arms.

Or should it be,

Neatly wrapped up in his arms?

Stick with “wrapped in his arms.”

I’m just a gigolo, everywhere I go, people know the part I’m playin’…

 

“Darling?  A little lower please?”

Belinda made love

Like no other woman

He’d ever experienced

Slow ride…take it easy…

 

Desmond would never

Let her get away

No, strike that.

Desmond would never

Release her.

Thesaurus: release, dismiss, expel, reject.

Desmond would never

Release her.

She’s just sixteen years old…leave her alone…they said…

 

“Turn the blasted music down!”

There, in a dark corner

Belinda hunched over

A faded Martini.

Was she crying?

That would be a good sign.

A second figure moved in the booth.

Was she seeing another man?

Sundown…you better take care…if I find you been creeping ‘round my back stairs.

 

Desmond’s pulse began to race

His steps, slow and apprehensive

As he approached the booth.

Give me three steps mister, give me three steps toward the door.

 

“Oh for heaven sakes, I can’t write like this!”

Momma, just killed a man, put a gun against his head, pulled my trigger, now he’s dead.



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Posted in Fiction, Humor, Writing, Writing Process

Fairy Tails

She’s six years old, Marietta, let her have fun.” Feathered

“She’s old enough to learn about responsibility, Mr. Capricious.  Spare me your blather on childhood fun.  She’ll be grown before you blink twice.  When that happens, I’ll expect her to have her wits about her.”

Marietta wore a familiar grimace, one John had carefully studied for ten years—a sum of time that somehow managed to contain a miserable eternity.  Perhaps, one day, his beautiful wife would learn to smile at the twinkling of the moon as it danced through the branches of the oaks of Briarwood Forest.  He smiled, vowing to taunt her until she remembered the intrinsic value of mud pies.

“It’s not a fire-breathing dragon, Dear, it’s a fairy tail.  Look at Kirrell’s face, she’s having so much fun.”

The condescending grunt Marietta released had also become an all too familiar expression.

“Don’t you remember, Love, when you took a fairy by its tail and spun it around until it got so dizzy it gave up all its wishes?  What was it you wished for, Marietta?  Do you remember?”

She expressed a long sigh and lifted her face to the sky.  John could almost see the pictures flashing through her mind as she raced into yesterday to retrieve the entombed gifts of her youth.

“Tokamel, my Pegasus.  He was majestic, that one.  No finer steed ever graced the skies of Amarron.  None ever.  He bore the wings of independence—a servant to no man.  I loved him so.”  She lowered her chin to her chest and dawdled with the stem of a daisy she’d been de-petaling.  “I think he’s retired now, in the meadows of Merrimore.  Can we visit with him soon?”

The thought of Kerrill clinging to Tokamel’s mane was almost too much excitement for one man to bear.

“If we begin the journey tomorrow morning we’ll arrive by the new moon,” he said, careful not to smile too large, lest his wife see that his heart burst with joy.  Once magic has graced life, in the way it had graced the lives of John and Marietta Glee, it’s a haunting thing to watch it dwindle and die—a brilliant delight to observe the sparks of its rebirth.

“Kirrell’s fairy tail has gone out, John.  Did you bring more?”

“Enough to last until time spins the last waltz.”



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Posted in Fairy Tales, Fiction, Literature, Writing

Fleshing Out Character

Do you have a best friend?         4B5U95JDWJ

If you think about when you first met your best friend, you’ll discover one special thing this person did to get your attention.

For example, my best friend walked into a restaurant one evening wearing a cowboy hat. It wasn’t the type of place a woman would normally wear a cowboy hat. As a matter of fact, everyone else wore formal attire. This little lady walked right into a ritzy place wearing a cowboy hat and jeans with holes in the knees, and proceeded to act as if she owned the place. Two hours later, she did own the place; psychologically speaking. Everyone wanted to dance with her, and everyone rushed to speak with her. Why? Because she had the nerve to break protocol; she had the confidence to be herself while everyone else struggled to conform to standards they thought necessary to create and maintain an “in” crowd.  Knowing this one thing about the lady drove everyone to want to know more.

What did your best friend do to get your attention?

We build character in writing the same way we learn about other people. No one gets to know another person overnight. We may want to, but it never works out that way. When we’re dating, before we say ‘yes’ to the big question, we want to know how our ‘significant other’ treats people: a parent, a waitress, friends, authority figures, employees, etc.  We study them for clues to their base personality, and we judge them by what they say and do while they interact with their environments. We also judge them by what others say about them, or how they react to them. (If six different animals show a blatant distaste for your girlfriend or boyfriend, you may want to reconsider the relationship).  The way one character reacts to stress and pressure normally differs drastically to the way another character reacts, because people are different and quite unique in their reactions.  Your characters need that uniqueness as well.  Otherwise, you’re creating carbon copy characters and readers will see right through them.

So, let’s ask ourselves: What makes Harry Potter such an interesting character?  For one, right off the bat he’s depicted as famous, yet humbly famous, as he doesn’t understand his fame. Now, I ask you, how appealing is that? All the characters in the story react to him in awe. He’s “the boy who lived.” Everyone wants to know how he pulled that off (including Harry). So, here’s this kid everyone in the story reacts to with curiosity and awe. These character reactions dictate to the reader how we should judge this boy and how we should feel about him. We should be in awe too, he’s famous.  Secondly, because Dumbledore is depicted as the ultimate good guy, and because he’s very protective of Harry, the reader begins to feel that way as well.  This is all we have to know to incite our interest in Mr. Potter. Note that the narrator doesn’t “tell” us Harry is famous, the characters do. As the story progresses, we get to know more and more about Harry as he interacts with his friends, his professors, his family, etc. A little bit at a time, just as we get to know our own friends and family. The difference is, in fiction, we also get an inside look, a more intimate experience, as we’re privy to inner monologue as well. This, we never get in real life, unless we’re powerful psychics.

For a quick exercise, try to think of three different situations in which characters in your favorite story reacted to another character and how those reactions influenced your feelings and opinions.

Consider the following example:

Allison leaned across the table at the library and whispered, “I don’t like her.  She’s a thief.  Brody saw her taking stuff from the shelf at the dime store.  How can you trust a thief?”  Candace raised an eyebrow, nodded emphatically, and said, “She’s not old enough to be out of school, but she’s never here.”  Always the one to argue, Melissa broke into the conversation, “She’s homeless, you twits.  You’d steal too, if it was the only way to feed yourself and a baby. That’s right, her mother left her to take care of an infant. Kid’s not even out of diapers yet.”

From the example above, you can see how easy it is to form an opinion and then have it broken at any point during the course of a story.  Used strategically, the effect can be powerful.

Here’s another question we must ask ourselves as writers: Is my story happening to my main character, or is my main character happening to my story? If you want in-depth characterization, choose the latter approach. Not quite meaning to, Harry Potter happens to Hogwarts, not the other way around. That’s the type of character and story most readers prefer.

For more on fleshing out characters, I recommend John Gardner’s, “The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers.”  Regardless of your writing history or status, this book is a must have/must read for creative fiction writers everywhere.



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Posted in Writing

Cry At The Night Sky

Cry At The Night Sky

Cry At The Night Sky

How do I tell this sweet child it’s okay to cry, especially tonight?

She’s done nothing to deserve this horrific truth, and I could find no good reason to spoil those innocent eyes.

Will she be glad I’d kept my terrible secrets from her when she realizes there’s no tomorrow?

Why can’t I find the heart to weep?  Because it’s too late for tears.  I must save my daughter from this doom. Make it quick and painless, then follow her into the next life.

***

I remember the department’s slimy memos:

Dr. Shriver is an alarmist, he cannot be believed.

Dr. Shriver has had an unfortunate psychotic episode.  He is on leave pending an investigation.

Dr. Shriver has had difficulties coming to terms with the rejection of his research.  In the absence of scientific evidence, one must approach Shriver’s theories with a large dose of skepticism.

***

“Daddy, why are we on this boat?  Where’s Mummy?”

“Mummy didn’t believe me. She said I’ve been working too hard and my head’s all mixed up.”

I looked into my daughter’s eyes…trusting and as blue as a summer day.

“I want to go home. I don’t like it here.  It’s getting dark. I’m scared, Daddy.  I want my Snuggle Bear.”

Why shouldn’t she be happy in these final hours? Was it delusional of me to think the open sea would provide us with a chance to survive?

I knew the truth, and it ripped my soul to shreds. All the more reason to end the pain right now so neither of us will have to witness the end. It’s the right thing to do…it has to be.

I rummaged through a drawer until I felt cold steel touching my hand. Trembling, I opened a fresh box of bullets. I wished for an alternative.

Hard to fathom, we won’t live to see tomorrow.

I loaded the weapon and spun off the barrel.

Should I explain?  Make her understand why this has to be? She’s too young for reasoning. All she knows are endless horizons in which life goes on forever. Am I a savior, or a monster, trying to keep the pain from her? I placed the pistol in plain view on the side-bench—a reminder of what needed to be done.

“Come over here, Crystal.  Sit beside Daddy.  Do you remember the prayers you learned at school?”

“I don’t want to pray, Daddy.  I want to go home and get Snuggle Bear.”

“Soon, darling, don’t worry. Why don’t you call Mummy on my cell-phone and tell her you love her. She’d like that.”

I dialed, waited for a connection, and passed the phone to Crystal.

“Hello, Mummy, it’s me.”

“Where are you, Sweetheart? I’ve been worried sick.”

“We’re on a boat.”

“Whose boat?  Where…?”

Crystal’s gaze lit upon the gun.  She produced a quizzical frown.

“Dunno, but Daddy has a gun.  He looks sad.”

“Put him on the phone, Crystal. Now.”

I shook my head. “No, it’s too late to talk. Tell her goodbye.”

“He won’t talk to you, Mummy. He says it’s too late.”

I heard my wife’s cries of anguish spewing from the phone.

Like I said; too late for tears, too late for words.

“Tell your father if he touches one hair on your head, I’ll kill him.”

“Daddy wouldn’t hurt me, Mummy. He said he brought me here to save me. What’s that mean?”

“Hold the phone up Crystal…so he can hear me.”

Plucking the phone from my daughter’s hand, I threw it into the dark sea.

I picked up the gun with resolute hands. Crystal wouldn’t understand the terror she would witness if I didn’t do this now. I glanced at my watch. If my calculations were correct, it would begin in a matter of minutes. I had to remain strong.

I clutched at my daughter and held her close. I could feel her warmth through my shirt as I pressed the gun to her back. I heard her whimper.  Had I squeezed her too tight, or did she know what I was about to do?

The gun exploded.  She went limp as a rag doll.  I watched a crimson splotch of sugar-n-spice diffuse over the fabric of her dress.

I picked her up, placed her comfortably on the narrow sofa, and pulled a soft blanket over her chest. Reaching into my bag, I grabbed Snuggle Bear and placed him carefully by her side. She would sleep in peace now, without pain, forever. Tears welled behind my eyes; it took a mountain of strength to hold them back.

My God, I’d done the right thing, hadn’t I?

I took the gun, faltered to the upper deck, and stared into the night sky.

It looked like an ordinary night, but I knew better. The sky was fraught with secrets, enigmas no one wished to acknowledge.

I glanced again at my watch.  The nagging fear that I might have been wrong prickled up my spine.

No

I’d done the math, I’d seen the simulations. I’d crunched the figures and reduced the timeframe to a matter of minutes. It should have begun by now.

I stood aloft and waited, the gun fused to my hand.  My mind scrambled, every pore in my body trembling with adrenaline, my thoughts mingling with pure dread, all of it useless.  I could find no form of consolation.

The first meteorite fragment startled me as it whizzed past, impacting the sea—stern side. A sliver of molten rock, traveling from the far reaches of the galaxy, ended its journey with a horrific explosion.

Scurrying inside, I kissed Crystal on the forehead.  My sweet girl.

An orange-yellow incandescent glow radiated outside the portholes as a shower of meteorites pummeled the docks.  In a few hours, the entire planet would become a sea of fire and gas.

I felt a torrid wave of hot saline rush down my cheeks as I placed the gun barrel against my temple.



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