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The Ode

Ode to the Writer

By Tom Foster

 

We are the lords and ladies of creation, yet we are still just players.
In the beginning we are as in the end.
We do not aspire, we simply do.
There is the dream, tempered by the reality, and given form by the thought.
By our thought, by our dreams, and by the reality we impose.
It’s a madness of the sort that only poets and writers can truly understand, and even among those only a few can comprehend.
Comprehension, that is a truly frightening thing.
We play with words, we are those that can immortalize, and those that can do what must be said and say what must be done.
It is confusion, this comprehension, and in the midst of it all, it is the single word that carries power, the one among all that is ever elusive, ever there, always waiting for us to return to, to remind us what it is that drives us, what keeps the fountain flowing.
Every last soul that has ever put ink to paper, ever put finger to key, every vague idea that swirls inward from the maelstrom we call the world, the universe, and everything in between and without.
For everything that could come, for everything that has and will come, we are there. We are the ones that do not deny the voice that tells us, “this must come to pass”, or “this must be remembered”.
It is who we are, what we do, and through everything, it is the lifeblood of those who cherish this timeless art form, this undeniable urge to say, in their own manner, “I AM”.
We are not gods, we create, and yet in the process, we are created. It is our words, penned and copied throughout the ages that have helped to shape the world, to say that, “WE ARE”, that “WE EXIST”.
Whether tyrant or savior, good or evil, saint or sinner, the words that are put to time’s test are those that will come to define the world we know. Memory is not enough, though it serves.
As do we.
We are the lords of creation, the ones whose words will last and echo into the ages, for all to see, and all to remember.
Is it truth?
The better question is: Does it matter?
We are the lords and ladies of creation, and by our words, the world we know is shaped, molded, and given to the next generation, and so on and so forth until the whole mess ends, only to be rebuilt, and to crumble again.
We are the lords and ladies of Creation, and this is our legacy.

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My Burden, My Pleasure (part IV)

Grade 9 ~ Art and Culture in 1900, which of these houses were ...

The reason the family left was because of what I did, but my intentions were pure. Sadly though, this was an age in which superstition and fear of the unknown still ruled, and my mere presence was considered a rather bothersome thing. In my own defense, those hooded individuals that came seeking trouble on these grounds deserved the fright I gave them, but the family did not. All the same, I drove them out, and it has been a regret for some time. When the cowards that threatened the family decided to enter my domain, I felt it my duty and my responsibility to this family to act. Only a few times had I ever knowingly appeared to the living, and of those few times it was mainly to children, who can somehow see in a spectrum that many adults lose sight of at some point in life. But this time, I was angered, and allowed the rage to turn me into something terrible, a vengeful spirit that rattled the windows, shook the floorboards, and created such a frigid gust of wind that the torches the cowards bore were extinguished shortly before they ran screaming like young girls into the night.

The family moved not long after, packing their belongings and striking out for parts unknown. To this day the terror I saw on their faces haunts me, ironic as that is. For a while after, the house lay quiet, still, and without a single resident other than the occasional spider and the few mice that found a way in through the baseboards. I was so lonely that I felt as though moving on would be the only answer. Many years passed before I heard a key turn in the lock, and to be quite honest the sound nearly made me rise up in defense of my home once again, as I felt little more than irritation at the sudden and unexpected intrusion. But when a voice had floated through the doorway, speaking my family name, I stopped.

Despite the idea that many adults could not see me should I not desire it, I found myself hiding around corners as the strangers, who were dressed rather shabbily in my estimation, but sounded like decent people, went peering through the house. There was something familiar about them, something I could not identify until later, when after a cursory examination of the home, they returned.

They were my descendants, come to reclaim the legacy that had been sold years ago. And for a time, my heart was filled with joy again.

(to be continued)

My Burden, My Pleasure (part III)

Grade 9 ~ Art and Culture in 1900, which of these houses were ...

Life became hard in the way that one might imagine it was for a woman. I had to fight to keep my family’s land, eventually becoming one of the only women in our city to possess something so grand. As I have seen it throughout the years, many women have had to fight in such a manner, though perhaps my continuous fight to avoid selling parcels of land, and defending them when I had to, became the reason why I did not move on. My son, the last part of my husband I had, grew strong and had plenty of male role models as it might be difficult to believe, but I had many men that sought to help me out of the goodness in their hearts, and not the vague promise of a turn in the sheets, or a place in my house. I remained single until the day I passed on from this world, though I made many a great friend, and many a detractor that saw my relationships with men as scandalous or perhaps worth a bit of gossip. To this day however, I hold that I did not whore myself to the men I cared for in exchange for men that my son could look up to. Those that wanted more were dismissed from our lives, while those that showed that they were truly there for our benefit and nothing else we kept in touch with quite often.

My boy, my dear boy, he grew strong throughout his years, and was ever protective of me, even when he married and convinced his wife, a darling woman who wasn’t afraid of hard work and who I admired greatly, to move into our family home upon their marriage. I almost protested, thinking that I would be best placed in a smaller home of my own elsewhere, but my son would not hear of it, and neither would his wife. I was not a burden they told me, but an angel, and in time they granted me three lovely grandchildren whom I came to know well before my passing. I can still recall waking as a spirit in this very house, wondering why I’d not found myself holding my husband, reuniting with my parents, or even finding myself at the fabled crossroads that some speak of in near-death experiences. I had thought that God had forgotten about me at times, but after a time I forgot this as I watched my grandchildren grow to adulthood, going their own way long after they had ceased to see me in the manner that children appear so capable of. They would be the last descendants of mine that would occupy this home, but not once have I begrudged them for selling our legacy away, as it is the way of this world, things must come to pass that we do not fully agree with, for it is the way of progress, and little, if anything, can stop progress.

Yet the house has remained, and after watching my son and his wife pass away and be accepted, I hope, into the gates of heaven, I can only think now what I thought then: my home is burden, and my pleasure. My grandchildren came here only a handful of times, the last being to deliver the keys to the house to the new owners, a rather interesting couple that could not have lived as they did in my time. A strikingly handsome man and his equally striking and young, dark-skinned wife, perhaps of African origin or perhaps American, as I heard her called both within these walls. They were a lovely couple to be certain, and while I harbored my own reservations concerning their union, and the idea of their children when they were born, they were quite the loving couple, and were entirely devoted to one another. Had that been where it ended I could have foregone the mistake I made following a near-tragedy that befell the family.

(to be continued)

My Burden, My Pleasure (part II)

Grade 9 ~ Art and Culture in 1900, which of these houses were ...

I was born to a very loving family, with two sisters and one brother who did not live past his fourteenth birthday, as he was taken by a sickness that kept him bedridden for the last month of his life. None of us knew what it was, but prayer did not help, nor did the remedies given to him by the doctor, who had a day’s travel to reach us when the weather would cooperate. My father had decided to build our home far away from the city, where many could access such services that were so easily available to others, but were far removed from our estate. He would always state that he’d had enough of the cities and their debauchery as a younger man, and would not bring his children up in such a festering stink of humanity. Upon visiting the nearest city I often wondered at why my father would say such things, as the city was filled with wonder and the kind of distractions from a simple life that we’d never known.

In fact it wasn’t until I was a married woman with my own child that I saw the true face of the city as my father had seen it. While I did not run from it or remove myself, I finally understood it, and I saw what my father had meant when he’d spoken of such vices. The city is indeed a wicked place at times, though above that underbelly of corruption, greed, and immoral choice lies the bedrock that good people have built, much as my father agreed with near the end of his life. When he passed, my husband and I took over the family estate, as my sisters, Hattie and Abigail, had moved far away and had lives of their own to tend to. They attended our father’s funeral however, for which I found myself grateful. They even asked me what I would do, to which I replied that my husband and I would be staying to watch over mother, who told us in no uncertain terms that she needed no help, but was happy to have her grandchildren in the house, as it made her feel young again. I suspect that my mother knew her time was coming short not long after father passed, as she succumbed to what many would call heartache only a year later.

I have known misery in this house, but not the sorrow that comes from hatred, nor true regret at moments of life not lived. By the time my mother passed, the city was well on its way towards us, expanding each year, each month it seemed, without cease. Once it came upon the boundaries of our estate we were made an offer to sell off portions of our land so that it might be developed, but we refused. My husband, my love and my heart, Anthony, wouldn’t hear of selling my family’s property, our legacy, and was adamant that the city could ‘damn well build around us’. How I laughed when I heard him say such a thing to a red-faced developer that promised to make life harder.

And oh, it did get harder, but not in the way the red-faced man had thought it would.

(to be continued)

Not for Thin Skins…

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My Burden, My Pleasure (part I)

Grade 9 ~ Art and Culture in 1900, which of these houses were ...

I have seen families come, and I have seen them go. I’ve watched them multiply, grow, and emerge from this place with an air of grace and superiority as they stretch their wings, ready to fly into a world I no longer recognize. But I have seen them wither and die as well, caught up in struggles and strife the likes of which none should ever know. So long have I been a part of this place that its walls have become my reality, it’s neatly manicured lawns and gardens the only fringes I’ve had the courage to explore for what feels like a century or more. The memories of this place echo within the walls every now and then, reminding me of what has come, what might still come, and what has been endured for oh so many decades.

What I am is not unknown to me, nor is it appalling, or grotesque, or even lamentable. After all, I chose this existence, I did not travel upon that path where so many souls have gone before, off to a distant horizon where, supposedly, angels are singing, trumpets are sounding, and the air is thick with the scent of honeyed wine and loved ones are ready to take a weary soul into their embrace. No, I chose the mortal plane over the next step, a return to the decaying, constantly-aging, constantly-dying world that we must leave every so often in order to progress. I chose this, and while I regret that decision some days, I do not regret it eternally.

There are still wonders, great and horrible, to experience in this place. The human intellect is vast indeed, but our lifespan is woefully short to experience so much. Were our years as numerous as the gods we choose to worship, perhaps we could come to understand the nature of the world we reside upon for such a short time. Yet for all that, I do believe after so many years of introspection that the weight of such knowledge would crush us initially, perhaps going so far as to break our fragile hold on reality like a giant treading carelessly upon a field of brittle eggshells.

Ah, but listen to me, waxing on like a poet attempting to entertain a band of sophisticated scholars! The real story isn’t in the flowery, airy explanations that I could wax on with all day. No, the real story is about this place, how it started, and how I came to be here to witness the past two centuries, and will likely be here for some time to come.

Shall I start?

(to be continued)

Plenty of Voices, Not Enough Ears

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It’s freedom of expression after all….

America isn’t perfect, but it’s home. If you want people to respect you, to look at you as a human being, then learn to listen, not shout down any opinion that doesn’t follow your own. The results are usually amazing to watch.

Coming Soon (part IX)

California OKs movie theaters to reopen with limited seats

It took all eight shots that the pistol held for Destiny to finish the couple off, as she wasn’t much more than a novice holding a gun and her first shot hit the woman in the stomach as far as she could tell. The next two shots were aimed at the man as the woman had fallen away and while one hit him in the face it didn’t kill him, but instead ruptured his eye socket and blew a hole in his cheek. Both of them had been on the ground once she’d finally emerged from the trunk, but neither one of them had been in any position to do her any harm. She’d debated killing them for all of three seconds, reminding herself of what they’d planned to do to Patricia, a young pregnant woman whose life still had years of promise to fulfill. Emptying the clip until they’d stopped moving hadn’t been too difficult after that.

She hadn’t known what to predict after this, especially considering that the part of the city they were in wasn’t inhabited by anyone other than vagrants as far as she knew. It had appeared after a half hour that the police didn’t patrol this place that regularly, and instead of just ditching the bodies she’d decided to call the police and create a story that they’d believe. As of now, they were on their way, but shortly before making the call, the stranger had appeared again.

“That was, interesting,” he said, his features shrouded even further, “I don’t think Patricia could have done this even if she’d had the gun. She’s too sweet of a girl.”

Every part of Destiny had been screaming at her not to trust this character, but strangely she’d felt no malevolence coming from him, only a strange emptiness that pulled at her in a way that felt more akin to sorrow, the type that never ended.

“You gave me the chance to change the design,” Destiny said pointedly, “You never said how I had to change it.”

“You’re right, I did not,” the stranger said, pointing a gloved finger at her, “And you didn’t disappoint. That’s why I had to see you again.”

“Oh yeah? Why?”

The figure shrugged, “When one’s been in the game for so long it’s necessary to step back and take a look at other options from time to time. At some point everyone needs a little help.”

“You want me to help you?”

The figure said nothing, but she could feel his look from within the shadows of his cowl. He was measuring her, taking her in, perhaps even analyzing what she would say. After so many years spent studying people she knew the feeling.

“You want me to change your design?”

The stranger nodded, bobbing his head up and down slightly, “Not all of them, but from time to time there are those I would rather not take, no matter that fate demands it. I have just enough pull and stock in the game to accept an assistant, if you’re interested.”

“So what, I become a hero?” She’d almost laughed at that notion, though it didn’t feel so absurd now.

“Call it what you’d like,” the stranger said, “But the offer stands. Just let me know, and we’ll speak again.”

Destiny had spoken before he’d disappeared, “When’s the next design? Do I have time to think it over?”

“Coming soon,” the stranger replied, his voice carrying the hint of a grin, “Don’t wait too long.”

That had been over ten minutes ago. In the distance she could hear sirens as the police made their way towards her location. In that moment, Destiny entertained the thought of calling out to the stranger once again.

The End

Coming Soon (part VIII)

California OKs movie theaters to reopen with limited seats

Thankfully the pain she felt came from being jammed into the trunk of a car, her own if she wasn’t mistaken. It only took a few moments of moving about to find out that her kidnappers hadn’t bound her wrists, her ankles, or even bothered to search her. Obviously they were novices at this or perhaps figured that she would be cowed enough that she wouldn’t dare try to escape. As she felt the vibration of the engine she felt around for her carry bag, finding that they’d taken that at least, meaning that she didn’t have her phone. Fortunately she’d had the presence of mind to put the only other thing that mattered in the waistband of her pants where it was currently digging into the small of her back.

Shifting just enough to reach behind her without separating her shoulder, Destiny grunted as the car shifted to the right, spilling a sack of tie downs and rubber snubbers that she’d kept in the trunk for quite some time. Who were these people that they’d failed to subdue her? Was she doing the right thing? That thought went away almost immediately as she heard voices from the front of the car as they carried through the padding of the back seat. Fate was certainly smiling on her today it would seem.

“So where are we taking her?” asked the unknown woman.

“Not too far,” said the man, “I figure we’ll take her just beyond the city limits. There’s an old abandoned building I know about. If there’s any squatters we’ll roust them out and then it’s all ours.”

“I want to do it this time,” the woman said, sounding almost giddy, “I want to play with this one’s insides.”

“Just make sure you don’t squeeze the tubes when you do,” the man stated, “Remember what happened last time.”

“Yuck, I can’t forget that,” said the woman, sounding excited despite her disgust, “Hey why didn’t we pluck up that pretty black girl instead? She was right there for the taking.”

That got Destiny’s attention.

“She wasn’t the right one,” the man said, “I don’t know, she just didn’t feel right. This bitch though, she felt like she might fit the bill. Rich, good-looking, probably full of herself and shit. Perfect.”

“Kill the rich and feed them to the poor,” the woman giggled, “If only they knew.”

Destiny’s fingers found the .22 pistol tucked into the waistband of her pants, though pulling it free took a few moments as she did her best not to make any noise.

“Do you think she’s going to try to escape?” the woman asked.

“If she does we’ll stick her in the trunk for good measure, maybe cut her Achilles tendon before we get started. Knock a few teeth out just to let her get the message.”

“Damn you’re turning me on,” the woman said with a chuckle.

“Just hold it in babe,” said the man, “Wait till we get there and get down to it, then we can really have some fun.”

Destiny felt almost righteous as she brought the pistol to rest against her chest, being careful to keep her finger off the trigger. She didn’t feel anything other than disgust, and a certain sense of righteousness at that moment. The trip was over soon enough, and as she listened, both car doors opened, but they didn’t shut. Two sets of footsteps approached the trunk as she could hear the faint sound of knives being drawn from sheaths. Thumbing the safety off she pointed the pistol forward, her nerves somehow steadied and her mind devoid of the anxiety she might have expected. It wasn’t what she’d planned on today, but she was fully intent on her course.

“You want first stab honey?” the man asked as the sound of the key in the lock reached her ears.

“What a gentlemen,” the woman crooned, “Open it up so I can open her up.”

As the lock was engaged the trunk lifted with barely a sound, though as the woman saw her first she had only a split second to say “What the f-“

“Hey there,” Destiny replied, pulling the trigger.

(to be continued)

Coming Soon (part VII)

California OKs movie theaters to reopen with limited seats

Most people wouldn’t know how to react, while others would want more details about such a proposition before thinking about what she’d already decided. But as far as she knew, Patricia was still okay, as she’d seen her earlier today for an appointment. But the note the stranger had left still had her thinking, despite the fact that her mind was made up. She wanted more details, she didn’t know if her reaction was the right one, but she also knew that if she didn’t do something, Patricia might not survive. Despite not knowing the young woman that well apart from their sessions, Destiny had always been certain that helping others was the right thing to do.

“I’ll take her place,” she said to the empty room, her eyes playing over the shelves of books that came standard it seemed with every psychiatrist’s office. She had a few books shelves, though not all of them were reference books. One shelf contained little more than horror and science fiction, her favorite genres, and a good conversation starter when she needed it.

“You’re certain?” She didn’t jump at the stranger’s voice as he seemed to step directly from the shadows along the north wall of her office, still clad in the same garb she’d seen last night. Those white gloves still looked out of place somehow, but she didn’t focus on that.

“Yes,” she said plainly, “If it’s not too late.”

“No,” he said, just as plainly, “It’s not.”

She was about to speak again when the stranger stepped back into the shadows, and was gone. Destiny heard herself gasp, but deep inside she couldn’t help but think that she’d done the right thing.

She hoped.

Nearly three hours later she was done for the day and headed towards her car when a feeling of dread washed over her, hitting her with such force that she felt a wave of nausea cause her stomach to heave and flop in that instant. Certain she was about to be sick, Destiny didn’t notice the two figures until it was too late, though she did see two pairs of shoes as she was leaning over, and heard one of them speak.

“There’s a pretty one,” a leering voice said, “Should we take her?”

“Oh yeah baby,” crooned a feminine voice, “She’ll do just fine.”

As a hood, or a bag, or something was thrown over her head, Destiny felt the darkness close in immediately. The pain she’d expected wasn’t too far behind.

(to be continued)