Category Archives: Short Story

We the People: a Grim Fairytale

[a short story by  ~ burning woman~ ]

Once upon a time (well, that is the usual opening for a fairy tale, is it not?) there was an empire that covered an entire world. It was not a peaceful empire, in fact it was terribly dysfunctional. However, the kings and other rulers of the various kingdoms, duchies and quaint inventions called “nations” liked it that way.

There were endless wars which greatly benefited the elites and allowed the peasants and serfs or citizens to pretend at being “somebodies” by fighting and killing each other on a regular basis. For that world such behaviour was considered entirely normal. People who thought otherwise and who refused to fight and kill their neighbours were classed as traitors and in some periods, were executed, in others simply jailed. One thing for sure, at all times they were mocked and called cowards.

Such conditions are conducive to bringing forth cowardly and corrupt leadership and at times some group of people would overthrow such leaders and change the status of their land from, say, a kingdom or a colony to, say, a democracy. None of them actually understood what a democracy was since there had never been any to learn from, but they made it up as they went along and lo and behold, before they knew what had happened, their “democracy” had become a totalitarian regime quite identical to what their history books told them of the times before their revolution.

But, they cried, how can this be when it is “We the People” who decide how things should be run? So they talked, loud and vociferously about the role that “We the People” played in this drama and why things had turned on them. They blamed one-another for failing to vote, or for supporting the wrong party and those who were blamed, blamed right back. They blamed the politicians, well, of course! They blamed their elites, just as their forebears did. The problem was that now the elites operated with impunity within the democracy that “We the People” had presumably set up precisely to prevent such a thing from happening.

As things heated up, there even began talk of another revolution. It was a lot of angry talk and no one really knew how to bring about a revolution. It seemed that would require much organization and really, no one was up to jump starting such an irrevocable step. They needed the support of “We the People.”

In keeping with the propaganda relating to the previous revolution, it seemed logical that once again it would be “We the People” who would have to rise up, overthrow the entire corrupt system of religion, government and finance/business, and establish a new system. That made sense, so those with the loudest voices decided to bring “We the People” together.

And children, that is when those who wanted a revolution discovered that “We the People” was a complete chimera. There was no such thing as “We the People.” The idea that a majority core group held the real power of the democracy had always been pure propaganda by the two-party system of government so that the people would continue to believe that at the heart of it a legitimate, patriotic, educated, aware watchdog group of citizens kept tab on its government and had a tight leash on its politicians.

It was a terrible blow to the ego of those who would stop the corruption to discover that there had never been a “We the People” force in the land but exactly the opposite: a ragtag collection of people who distrusted one-another and often hated one-another for being of the wrong skin colour, or from the wrong ethnic background, economic level or religion. Instead of unity, they saw mass shootings and mass incarcerations of innocent individuals. They saw greed, hubris, abuse, violations of every known human rights and widespread destruction of the environment. They also saw that the masses, those who should have been “We the People,” identified with these destructive ways and participated in them, often with gusto while supporting and defending their blatantly corrupt leadership.

“Sadly children, they did not live happily ever after.”

“What happened to that world teacher?” asked a small boy.

“As to be expected, it destroyed itself and all the people on it died.”

“Oh!” echoed the children in horror.

“But it’s only a fairy tale, isn’t it?” Ventured an older girl in the back row.

“Well… no, it’s not really a fairy tale at all.”

“Life Aboard Ship”

[a short story, by Sha’Tara]

Star date: 190623-I haven’t spent as much time on this as I would have liked to but I am choosing to post now rather than wait two weeks when I return from an “Island” job. There is no internet where I’ll be working, though I will be doing some limited blogging on my cell phone. “Enjoy” this bleak story – it is what my heart is showing me these days.
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“Maybe what I really need is sleep, he said to himself. A sort of twilight of living, with only the background sound of Beethoven audible. All the rest a blur.

No, he decided; I want to be! I want to act and accomplish something. And every year it becomes more necessary. Every year, too, it slips further and further away.” (A Maze of Death – Philip K. Dick)

I awoke, as does everyone sooner or later, aboard a strange craft, a ship that sailed through emptiness, bound for nowhere; a ship that would never find a port of call or ever crash on any shore. I knew this long ago, although no one ever spoke of it. In the daytime, the closest non-ship entity one could see was, of course, the sun. At night, if one happened to be on deck, one could see the stars out there, forever out of reach, the ship never getting any closer to any one of them. Sometimes one could see the moon, and although much closer than any star, or sun, it too remained aloof, at an unreachable distance.

One did not board the Ship, one was born on it and was automatically made a member of the crew. Everyone on board was crew, no exceptions. What you did as crew was determined by others and their perceived, claimed or stated needs.

Since Ship itself was quite automated, there really was nothing to do as far as sailing it. So crew served crew until that was the only thing that anyone knew how to do. The more people were born on Ship, the more it all became self-serving, with those who became leaders demanding more from their underlings. Of course the underlings had to find ways to please their masters so they learned to delve down into Ship to find resources that could be made into objects that would please or titillate the masters. Most of us became resource extractors, all to stay alive, some to seek promotions.

I don’t know the exact day, but an idea came to me: what was the point of all that? Who were we all, why were we on Ship and where were we going? I stopped my drilling, much to the annoyance of my partner, and sat down to think about this.

Where did I come from? Nowhere. Where was I going? Nowhere. What was then the point of my existence? There was none. Even if I found the strength and motivation to fulfill and surpass my quota of diamonds; even if I finally got a promotion, I would be old and near death by then. What could I expect then? Nothing. I would cease and my body would be thrown overboard, as all were except for the Captains and other rich and powerful who had themselves encased in crystal caskets and buried with much pomp and ceremony down the empty shafts of what had been our most productive mines. The shafts were then sealed and commemorative plaques put on the entrances. I leave the question with you: how much better off were these rich dead than the dead flung overboard?

Although I would become one of the outcasts, I left the mine and went up on deck to feel the noonday sun and the wind; to hear the waves beat against the hull and listen to the endless sounds of people everywhere talking, laughing, crying, cursing, praying, cheering and some even singing. These people were, in a sense, alive, but what is life without purpose except to satisfy the immediate, to seek a bit more pleasure or to avoid punishment for any and all reasons? It seemed to me that they were simply going through the motions of something they believed in, not as happening now, but as some sort of hope that it would happen by and by.

I do not need to tell you that there were many varieties of official and quasi-official beliefs aboard Ship that most people adhered to. The gist of those beliefs was that one’s soul would go to another ship once separated from one’s dead body and life would be vastly improved in that new place. The new masters would be benign and merciful… of course.

I asked myself why people believed such things when no one could furnish any evidence of their truthfulness? There was a simple enough answer: why not, when life on Ship was general misery and pointlessness and there was nothing better to believe in? If nothing came of it after one’s death, one would be none the wiser. Meantime this bit of hope made life’s tenuousness, fear and misery a bit easier to bear. It was a simple mechanism grossly exploited, of course, by those who pretended to know about life after death. 

Without dependents being an outcast is not as bad as it sounds. You can use your skills to help others and be paid back in food, clothes and temporary shelter. Survival is not difficult when one has been toughened in mining for diamonds deep in the lower bowels of Ship. On deck at least there is a pretense of freedom; there is fresh air, water can be skimmed from water barrels, left-overs and discards can be looked through before they are incinerated or recycled.

Thus I lived the later years of my life and thus I discovered a new ‘connection’ to Ship. It came to me gradually that Ship was talking to me, had always been talking to me but the people noise had blocked Ship’s communications from my mind. Now that I had more freedom I could, and did, move away from people whenever possible and in relative quiet I heard Ship.

I hadn’t known that Ship was aware of what the people were doing on board and in particular, how they were damaging Ship by their greedy delving for ever more esoteric ‘resources’ below deck and down, down, into its deepest accessible bowels. Ship’s voice was sad.

‘You are killing me,’ she said to me in an old woman’s voice, ‘and when I die, you will all die too. That should be obvious to as intelligent a race as yours but somehow your lack of purpose has deadened your understanding of cause and effect. Where are your logicians? Where you philosophers? Where is your empathy? When those things die, you die. No intelligent, sentient and self aware species can guide itself without logic, philosophy and empathy.’

What happens now, Ship?’

‘Like you I am going to die. My lifeless hulk will continue to haunt this orbit for millions of your years. Perhaps, in time beyond time I will return and bring it back to life again so I can be another ark. Perhaps.’

‘Everything, everyone, on board will die then?’

‘Yes, everything.’

The House at the Crossroads of the World

[a short story by    ~burning woman~    as told by Sha’Tara]

As I sat by the River one day and pondered the state of the world I had a thought: I will build myself a home at the crossroads of the world. So I did.

My home had a good roof but it had no walls, just posts holding it up. I planted ivy, honeysuckle, clematis and sweetpeas by each post and they grew swiftly and beautifully. I was very pleased.

First a family of refugees passed by and they came in to rest, drink of the cool, clean water and eat from the garden I had planted. Sated and after a good sleep their children ran out and played in the fields. Their laughter filled the air and more birds sang.

A couple of starving, ragged men came by and asked if they could stay for a while. I smiled and said, ‘Look, no walls, anyone is welcome here.’ They were gays who had been persecuted and escaped with only their lives and the clothes on their backs. Soon they were playing with the children and entertaining them with tales and magic tricks.

A group of migrant workers heading north came by and also partook of this unexpected hospitality. They were earth people and soon they had my garden cleaned and explained about plant symbiosis. I could grow much more food if I did it right. I learned much from them in that too short a time.

Some young girls came running, crying, and stopped at the house. I invited them in and they shyly came, sat down and explained they had escaped from a van filled with sex slaves bound for the black market. They got washed in the creek, ate and slept together in a corner of the house.

The honeysuckle was in full bloom and its sweet smell filled the house. In the dark we sat in the house and sang, each her or his own songs and everyone listened in awe. It was so good to find each other here and not worry about any difference.

It was too good, actually. They had watched the comings and goings to and from the house and in that country the government and its propaganda press declared that it was a terrorist training center. So they sent the drones.

We are all dead now. I am dead too but since I am mind and not matter I am made of memories. This story is a memory, and it is real.

There is no longer a house at the crossroads of the world though there are walls everywhere and for that reason the world is dying.

(With enough edits to get smoke coming out of the computer screen, here is my little effort for  #BlogBattle Stories: Dusk  – for March.) 

River Magic at Dusk

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A Watcher on the River

Wisps of white clouds contrast with the stark blue sky and the air holds motionless between intervals of light breezes occasionally rippling the water. The kayak moves steadily, gaily reflecting my mood, as the long paddle flashes brightly in a slanting winter sun, reminding me that dusk is approaching. It comes in fast on the river. 

From the relative safety of perches high in denuded cottonwoods, eagles eye my passage with interest, occasionally uttering their peculiar shrill giggles at my efforts against an intensifying current as I prepare to “jump” into the main river, its stream tumbling and churning in the shallow tributary I am following. Along a bank, willow twigs merrily bob up and down in the current and I am awed by the bright red-green brilliance of a branch of red osier dogwood below the surface of the water where the slanting light of the sun hits it. At that point the water gives out to force a short portage. Picking the light craft with one hand I cross to the next channel and look around before dropping in the water again.

About an eighth of a mile upstream I notice a human-like silhouette. It has the appearance of an old fisherman standing on the open gravelly bank, hunched over, staring at the water. That isn’t a fisherman, I tell myself: no boat, no line, no movement. The bulk, height, broad shoulders, cocked head and long limbs rising out of the rounded stones tell me this is a Watcher.

A Watcher, you may question? Yes, indeed! Watchers still stand guard along shores, on edges of alpine meadows, in deep gorges and in burnt-out woods I am sure you’ve seen them though you may have other names for them.  They appear more often in the moonlight, of course. I cannot claim to fully understand their purpose but they never seem to intend harm. After all to the Watcher a passer-by is but another life form.

Well, I thought, since I must continue that way, why fear this apparition? I intend no harm either. In some ways, I am much like a Watcher though my humanity would prevent me from being as dispassionately non-judgmental and patient.

I walk across the wide gravel bar and re-enter the water for another stretch of paddling, keeping a wary eye on my friend.  In a moment of inattention on my part he has changed and I’m staring at a gargoyle, much more frightening than the original Watcher as the sun keeps throwing longer shadows over gravel and water.

Did I just witness a transformation? I think I forget to mention that Watchers can also shape-shift and do so regularly? How could I ignore such a well-known fact! I can plainly see the grotesque features silhouetted against the dusky daylight; the head thrust forward, winged shoulders pushed up and out as if readying for flight. It’s staring into the stream I am in, as if intending to challenge my passage here. Do I continue or turn tail and paddle downstream to the safety of the larger body of water? What if when my back is turned it comes at me on those broad, dangerous looking wings? I can distinctly make out that beak arching down menacingly.

I don’t have the energy to turn back and I reason that gargoyles are not generally known to attack people in daylight, or at dusk and they are not usually found on river banks, are they? I take a deep breath and resume paddling. Something along the shore on my left jumps up, startling me. It’s a ruffed grouse running towards the cover of the brush. I return my gaze to the gargoyle but in its stead stands a placid, medium-sized dinosaur head thrust forward and at right angle to the body, small beady eyes scanning the area. Though not as intimidating as the gargoyle, it inspires less confidence than the original shape of the Watcher. Is it flesh or plant eating? I don’t know much about dinosaurs; all I can tell is, it’s no Tyrannosaurus, small comfort! It occurs to me that if this creature, whatever it is, keeps changing form like that, perhaps it’s perfectly safe to go right on past.  By the time I reach it, might it not change into something more in keeping with the natural fauna, like, say, a bear, coyote, seal or even a great blue heron? Best to proceed and watch for developments; time is of the essence now as darkness approaches.

Once that decision made, it affords a sense of aloofness, of distance from the actual drama, a fleeting moment of safety and even well-being. In the midst of danger, real or imagined, how often has such a feeling brought one’s situation into sharper focus? I struggle against the current, muscles tensing, feeling the blades scrape the shallow bottom, pushing gravel under the water, inching my progress against the passing bank. I make it to deeper water and the current slacks off allowing me to push on with more confidence.

Time to look once more at the creature and there it is, the trunk of a great tree that had floated many miles downstream in the last storm to get embedded in the gravel, its shattered main root sticking up like a large, shaggy head.

I approach this woody chameleon to look into its “face” and I swear it winks at me. I’ve just been regally entertained by nature’s river dusk magic.

I’ll Forgive you, Eddie

(I do have a short story for the March Blog Battle “Dusk” but this isn’t it!  I was in a mood so I wrote this out tonight… go figure.)

Short Story – by Sha’Tara

I’ll forgive you Eddie, just as soon as you give me time to work this one out. I mean, the lying, the cheating, the way you’ve made me feel cheap in the eyes of our friends while boosting your bottomless pit of an ego and sucking the life out of me.

First, I have to go back over time and find that place, not in the photo album but in my memory, where I found myself truly “in love” with you; that place where I said “yes” when you asked me to marry you. But there is no such place, is there, Eddie. I said “yes” because I was pregnant and I’d call that duress, wouldn’t you?

How did you make me pregnant, Eddie? Do you remember your little trick at the Christmas party? Sammy told me how you put the date rape drug in my drink while I went to the ladies’ but years only later, Eddie. I remember the shock of discovering that bit of truth about you. Why did you stick around after that? Did you feel guilty, or was it the fear of being exposed by your own friends who knew what you’d done? Fear, wasn’t it. You felt obligated to marry me because it’s how we did things in those days.

Why did you stick around after our baby boy died of crib death Eddie? Was it because I brought in good money from my legal secretary job while also providing the house wife bit? So you had a comfortable place to live when your contruction jobs went soft? A safe base from which you could go out to bars, bowling alleys, race tracks and clubs to have fun, screw and gamble our money away? So you’d have someone to beat up when something pissed you off?

Hey, don’t make that face. Did you think I didn’t know about the affairs? You fucked my best friend Vivian and she finally admitted it because she felt guilty she said. But you Eddie, did you ever feel guilty? Does a rat ever feel guilt? No. It’s not in its nature, nor yours. You’re not just a rat Eddie, you’re a cockroach and I’ve been thinking that it’s time I did something serious about my pest problem. Time I returned the favour for that date rape drug thing, the beatings and my suspicion that little Alfred had help in his crib death.

You’re lying there on the floor beside the couch and wondering why you can hear what I’m saying to you but you can’t get up. It’s really quite simple: you’re having a heart attack. OK I’ll admit to having helped it along by playing with your prescriptions but you won’t be blabbing to anyone about that. That’s why I became a pharmacist after quitting the legal profession; this is so much more fun. There was no point seeking redress through legal channels, you’d eaten us out of house and home back when and even if you went to jail you’re the type that would just ooze through the bars to walk the streets again.

I’m sure you wondered why I invited you back into my life after all these years but you couldn’t resist a free B&B and you’d always considered me stupid, all evidence to the contrary. I have to thank you for accepting my invitation to come in out of the cold for old times sake. A softy, me, right? An easy mark, that’s me again. Oh you ignorant, vile, murderous imbecile, Eddie. I made it my life’s goal, after I got rid of you, to get even with you. No, not exactly even, just one step further. I felt I owed you that much.

What’s that you’re saying? You want me to call an ambulance? Oh but I will, I promise. That’s all part of the plan. I just want to watch you die in pain and agony first, is that too much to ask? What? I didn’t get that but I’ll assume you said that you understand completely. Thanks Eddie for agreeing to help me fulfill my lifelong ambition. I’m going to sit by the fireplace, have a glass of our favorite wine and watch you die.

Here’s to us, Eddie. I’ll forgive you when I see you in hell you bastard.

A Sisters’ Conversation

 a short story  by  Sha’Tara

Well hi Diane. Haven’t seen you in ages.

I was actually looking for you. Let me buy you lunch. I really need to talk to you Elise.

Yeah? What about?

First off, the family is worried about you.

Worried about me? Why?

They worry about your lifestyle, living alone and well, quite free-wheeling if you get my drift.

It’s how I live my life, how I like to live it. Simple, uncomplicated, nobody really to worry about and it’s nobody’s business but mine.  Years ago I figured that “the family” and associated friends were actually my jailers so I broke out of jail.

Well thanks for that. Do you have to live alone?

I do, but I am not actually alone. I have those friends of mine in my head. They don’t try to control my life and don’t ask for much, just a bit of time now and then you know, to touch base.

Touch base? How?

They talk to me; what other “how” is there?

You hear voices in your head?

Of course, don’t you?

I don’t have entities in my head telling me how to live my life, no!

Are you sure about that? No one, ever, insisting you pick up a tabloid at the supermarket checkout, which you do to find out later there is an article in it you’d been dying to read?

That isn’t someone talking to me, that’s me making a personal decision!

Would you say the same thing if you’d been with a friend and she’d suggested you buy the magazine because it has something in it the two of you had been talking about and you could read about it?

That’s totally different. You’re talking about someone real, someone standing right beside me.

So someone standing beside you is more real to you than someone inside your own head?

Of course. She wouldn’t be an imaginary friend as would be someone in my head.

This is interesting. You would find someone separate from you speaking to you audibly in actual words more real than another living right inside your head speaking to you directly without the use of words?

I don’t have imaginary friends.

Let me try something here. You are seven months pregnant and you meet your friend, say her name is Rosa, pushing a baby carriage with her six month old baby boy in it. Is her baby more real to you than your own whom you are carrying within you?

That is a really stupid comparison. I know my baby is real, I can feel it; I can see how he’s changing my body as he develops.

But someone inside you who does not take up space; doesn’t demand energy from you and doesn’t need to be seen, can’t be real because of that?

Look, this is ridiculous. The only person in my head is me. There is no one else there.

So you do admit there is someone in your head?

Yes, me. I talk to myself and that’s perfectly normal. Everybody does that sort of inner dialogue.

Why do you do it if the ‘you’ whom you are engaging in your head is purely imaginary, i.e., non-existent?  Why would you or anyone knowingly engage a conversation with no one and if no one answers why do you listen? What are you expecting from the exchange?

Nothing, it’s just what people do.

If you do something, should it not serve some purpose?

I’m not going to dignify this topic any further. I actually wanted to ask if you’d come to Danny’s birthday party this Saturday?

Danny? Who’s Danny?

My son!  Your nephew! It’s his sixteenth birthday, do you think you can make the effort?

Sure. Still in the duplex on Alexander?

My God you’re hopeless! When Graham got his promotion we moved out of that dump. We’ve been living on Mount Thom for two years now. I’ll text you the address.

You have my cell number, Diane?

Yes, got it from Gram. You gave it to her when you did the home care for her through her hip replacement.

Gram? Oh you mean mom. Yeah, of course, it’s what the grandkids call her I suppose.

I should have called you but thanks for doing that for her, I couldn’t have done it with the redecorating and Danny’s sports – I’ve been run off my feet, literally.

Don’t sweat it, I’ve done it for lots of people.

Like it doesn’t make any difference to you that it’s mom we’re talking about?

People need my help, they need my help, why should it matter to me who they are?

If you weren’t my sister Elise, I think I would hate you.

Don’t be jealous of my freedom, Diane. You exercised your own brand when you chose redecorating and your son’s sports over your mom’s convalescing needs. See you Saturday.

Yeah.  

 

 

 

 

Blog-battle Short Story

I’ve decided to participate in a “blog battle” at  https://blogbattlers.wordpress.com/2019/02/05/blogbattle-loss/   The subject for February is “Loss”, the story a 1000 words, give or take a few, and be posted by the end of the month.  The creator, Rachael Ritchie, will use this blog post link to join this story with others or so I understand.  I had to post the story (my story) so that is why you are seeing it here.  It’s short and my might enjoy it. It’s of my favorite short story theme: encounter, love, loss, redemption and fulfillment.


The Moon, Anali and Hope
 [short story by  ~Sha’Tara~ ]

She had made a decision, a choice.  She’d stopped watching the news one day, then she’d left the church.  She walked out of her parents’ home some time after that and took the bus to a smaller town up into the valley.  She rented a tiny apartment and found a job at the local library cleaning up and re-arranging the children’s section, and as general go-for. 

Anali asked herself, was it all just an impulse? No.  It was, she thought, her destiny, and destiny should be honored. 

Destiny, then, brought her to meet Charlie.  He swept the sidewalks and collected garbage for the town.  A charity job, perhaps, but one that needed doing.  Charlie was considered slow, and definitely abnormal as he thought everybody was a friend and never got angry or upset at anyone.  Anali liked Charlie.  They sat together on a bench by the library on warm sunny days, shaded by a rustling maple tree.  On other days they met at the McDonalds for a coffee and muffin. They didn’t talk much, there was no need for what was developing between them required no words. 

Anali wasn’t bright, and she knew it.  She wasn’t what you’d call pretty and she knew that too.  But she knew she was a human being, and that Charlie was a wonderful human being.  She wasn’t unkind, but Charlie taught her to be more so, more aware of the world around them, and the world’s needs.  Charlie stuttered, and his slowness of speech allowed Anali to keep up and understand him. 

“I feel sadness,” he said to her, “about lost things, and hungry things, and things that have no real home.  I guess I know what that feels like, and maybe that’s how it is, how you learn to feel things.  I can’t fix the world.  No one can do that, only God, and he’s angry at us so he’s not helping.  So, if I want to help I have to be nicer to everyone, and everything.  God will see that and he’ll think, that is a good thing.  And he’ll come down and help us.” 

Anali understood that perfectly. 

Was it just the moonlight?  It seemed to Anali that the moon had been shining every night of June forever, getting larger and larger in the night sky, then hanging out, pale and unwilling to leave the blue sky of morning.  It hung like a pale balloon above the tall, old, dark green cottonwood trees bending over the river, casting shade where fish jumped after low-flying bugs. 

That river was called Hope.  She had no idea why they had called it that, or what the native peoples who had fished its banks had called her, but she thought, Hope was a good name.  When I have my daughter, she thought, I am going to call her Hope, and I’m going to give birth to her on her banks, under the full moon.  Anali was a dreamer, like Charlie.

She’d been sitting silently in the tall grass on the bank of the Hope river when she heard footsteps in the grass of the park above her, then the swishing of a body pushing itself through the tall grasses she was pretending to be hiding in.  She rolled quietly on her back and looked into the blue sky, and the pale moon.  Waiting.  Waiting, and ready.

He cast his tall shadow over her prostrate form and looked down.  Not at her, but in her.  And she knew then that some things are written in the songs of the thrush; the call of the kingfisher; the whisper of the rising mid-day breeze in the willows, but mostly in the path of the moon.  She shielded her eyes and watched him bend down to her, kneeling on the soft earth beside her body.  He stretched himself beside her and she cradled him in her arms.  

Their clothes came off, easily and naturally, without haste or shame and without a word they came together and made love by the Hope river. Anali thought she had reached a place of near perfection.  It would take a while for it to complete itself, but Anali was very patient.

There was a bad accident in town.  Anali didn’t read the papers and she didn’t have a TV but she heard people talk.  She understood why Charlie wasn’t at the bench then, and why she never saw him again. Anali knew about loss, personal loss, and she thought, this too will be all right.

A year or so later, with glowing face and a child in her arms, Anali stood by the banks of the Hope river.  She walked to the edge and holding her own Hope over the waters, let her see her own reflection.  The baby went “oh, oh!”  Across the narrow channel a thrush called.  An otter slipped into the water followed by three playful young.  Two young raccoons stared at her from the top of an old fallen tree trunk, curious, not scared.  

From the pale moon high in the blue sky, Charlie looked down, tears of joy forming on his ghostly face, so Anali pictured it.  She looked up and knew he was there waiting for her and someday they’d be together again.  She smiled and cuddled their baby tighter – so he could feel its warmth through her.  She felt a deep, peaceful happiness.  She’d found her perfection and all was as it should be.