Out of the Darkness

At times, being an aspiring writer is not always easy, the words don’t always flow forth onto the page as easily as I would like, so I go in search of inspiration where I can find it.  On one particular day when my words eluded me I went in search of a candle, what I found was something buried deep within me, and when my writing was complete I would be transformed.

I know I have one, I’m sure of it.  I ruffle through the drawer—searching for that piece of inspiration that will light the way to my imagination.  Six-tangled-electrical-cords, three tacks, forgotten pictures of birthdays past, and student Picasso’s tattered and worn—there it is—one lone stick of inspiration.

I place the fragile remnant before me, its cold,  fleshy remains dripping with waxy tears, and I wonder how much life remains in this savior of the night.  I peel away flakes of burnt memories as I remember the dark nights when the children were scared and we told stories to pass the time until the light-of-day, or the power company saved us from the fear of night.

One strike, a whiff of sulfur, and it is time to begin.

As I stare at the flame that flickers in the light of day, I am saddened at how the golden flame of hope seems dull, sad, and eerily still.  It cast no foreboding shadow, brings no warmth, and for the moment—no inspiration.

How much has my mind become like this candle, the synapses hardly used these days, withering away into nothings.  How long will it be before the light that once burnt so brightly in me fades away and I too become used up, with nothing left to give the world but a few last flickers from an old man who has been used up by ravages of time?

The flame dances across my soul, burning deeply within the far reaches of the memories of the man I used to be. Drawing up memories of what could have been, if only I had dared to dream.  If only, if only, if only… I had dared to use my talents in the way they were meant to be.

A candle no more belongs in the light of day than I belong in the darkness of a job that has never, will never, and can never appreciate who I am.  As the flame begins to wane, my flame begins to burn brighter. Maybe, just maybe, I can find a way to come out of the shadows and follow the beacon of light to my dreams, and one day call myself a writer.

Today is that day, I am no longer an aspiring write—today I am a writer.

Terry A. Elkins (whyguy)


Twenty Three Steps to Goodbye

Martha Brentwood stood stoic against the first arctic gale of the season, as she waited for the number-seven to carry her to Saint Ann’s Cathedral for the sixth time in two years. A trip she never got used to. The harsh breath of winter bit at her as rabid flecks of crystalline powdered snow threatened to bury her where she stood. Her mourning-black Cashmere coat was faded by time, and it did nothing to cover her bare hands, but she didn’t shiver, she didn’t blink, and she didn’t move. Her heart was warmed by the precious memories of Anna, as she recalled their first encounter at the fourth street USO where they both worked so many years ago…Lost in her memories she hadn’t heard the number-seven slide to a halt in front of her—she was somewhere in time.

A barrel chested man bounced off the bus with the grace of a younger man. His chiseled features, leather skin, and gray hair—all marked by time, gave him the look of distinguished charm, contrasted only by his simple black slacks, and weathered pea coat. Blinded by the snow he stumbled to a halt mere inches from the statuesque beauty before him. Her soft-powdered-pale skin was nearly lost in the backdrop of winter’s fury. But her sea-green eyes and luscious ruby lips cast a luminescent glow like a watch keepers lantern meant to guide lost sailors home. He knew this beauty, and rusted memories of a love long past broke free from their moors as he recalled a four day furlough, a sailors first kiss, an enchanted honey moon, and a sobered divorce sent first class mail from Normandy.

“Martha—Martha, are you ok dear?” Martha was pulled back into the ferocity of the storm as her memories faded back into the shadows of yesteryear.

“Excuse me, do I know you?” Martha asked.

“It’s me, your ex-husband, John Brentwood.” As frozen tears of remembrance welled in her eyes, John asked, “Where are you going, Martha?”

“I’m going to say good bye to an old friend at Saint Ann’s.”

“Me too,” John said, “but why are you standing here?”

“I’m waiting for the number-seven to take me there,” Martha said with a tremble in her voice.

“Martha, honey, you’re standing in front of Saint Ann’s.”

Startled by this revelation, Maratha’s knees buckled and John reached out to her. As they clasped hands, the cold-cheap -gold bands they had given one another over half a century ago were reunited. But this reunion was cut short by the somber chimes of funeral bells.

They turned, facing the marble steps of Saint Ann’s, solemnly remembering why they were there. It was Anna who had introduced them all those years ago, it was Anna who had brought them together on this day, and it was Anna they were going to see. Arm in arm, walking silently, they faded into the storm as they climbed the last twenty-three steps to good-bye.

My Words My Promise

Words are powerful, not only the spoken word, but also the written word. While not all who write have the flair of Shakespeare, Faulkner, James Joyce, or Hemingway, we who write do have a responsibility to those who read our words to be clear in our intent, with a focus on the reader’s emotions. Stating not only what we need to say, but also what the reader needs to hear, and the way they need to hear it.

Writers do not have the luxury of looking across the table at those we speak to through our words, so that they may read our intent in our eyes. No, our words are confined to the imagination of those we wish to transmit our thoughts and ideas too. But our words are not inert; they are translated by the mind into images, and felt deeply by some.

Knowing this, as a writer it would be foolish to hide behind the mask of proximity, when we offer up our words to the reader, without taking into account the feelings we may sometimes invoke.

Yes, words are nothing but print on a page, made up squiggles of wind song with no meaning but for the meaning we give them. But they are much more than that. Words can be used to inspire or conspire;  they allow us to speak of love, or condemn those who have hurt us. They can ignite passions and fuel fires, or be used to make peace with enemies. They can open the minds of others—-while being just the helping hand one needs to be brought into the fold of friendship.  We can use them to bring hope, or offer dread. It is up to each person who has ever put pen to page, (writer or not) to know how he or she wishes to use their words, and what intent they want to convey.

But without understanding the emotional tone of the words we write on a page, we cannot hope to portray our true intentions. While love, intimacy, and passion can easily evoke powerful images in the minds of a reader, so too can the most banal words of the most ordinary pen. For this, we must be careful in our use of them.

It is my promise to the reader of my words to never hide behind the silent words on the page. Knowing full well the risk and feelings my words may at times invoke.  I offer you this: I will risk honest scrutiny of every word I choose to use, and accept the consequences of the powerful feelings those words may sometime invoke. While it will never be my intent to do so, I may at times offend. If I do, let me know that I have done so and I will rectify my error with God’s speed.

Terry (whyguy)