It was the best of weeks, it was the worst of weeks, but in truth threads of both have woven themselves into recent days.
The website is up and running (yay!) and I’ve managed a few improvements since. Too, work continues on all my other writing projects, including transferring the History notebook to my computer. That project is still in its infancy.
On the flip side (boo!) was my epic run back to Casper, Wyoming to retrieve items I was forced to leave behind. A 1240 mile roundtrip with minimal sleep. It took several days to recover, days spent with labored breathing. Now I’ve learned a dear friend a continent away is hospitalized.
Sometimes life provides inspiration and sometimes it takes it away.
Distracted today, I spent time tying up loose ends like paying bills and responding to the survey the funeral home sent last month concerning my father’s service in January.
Loose ends. Dangling.
Still seeking inspiration, I dropped into my desk chair and stared at the surrounding shelves. After moving I emptied boxes that had been packed for years. Thus, when I setup my office I unearthed items I hadn’t seen in a long time.
For instance, books like Tolkien’s LOTR, the fantasy that started it all for me in the mid 70s. Too, Stephen R. Donaldson’s The Mirror of Her Dreams, the book (and its sequel) that returned me to fantasy in the late 80s and probably was the spark that ignited the ideas that became Ontyre. Other books and series in other genres abound. Combined with my fantasy influences, they all came together to create another world.
Yes, there are loose ends that we tie and then they’re gone, but then there are threads that weave through our lives, sometimes visible and sometimes not.
It’s 2014, but my writing roots are in the 1970s when I was a teen. 1974, to be exact. October. I wrote a short story for my English class.
How can I be so exact? I wish I could say my memory is that good, but instead it’s because while unpacking old books I also unearthed old stories. Typed. On a manual typewriter. I’d forgotten how you could feel the impact of the keys on the reverse side of the paper.
I don’t usually dwell more than a moment upon memories so old, for those were difficult times, but there’s been considerable healing the last few years. Too, with an online story nearing completion, a poetry collection nearing publication, and a novel in the wings this seemed the right time to seek inspiration via a distant yesterday’s writing.
An important note: Most of my high school stories were written by hand, but after graduation I gathered and typed them as one in a collection. A collection that I’d forgotten I’d called Threshold Farewell.
I sat here, in this very chair, and felt the memory rush wash over me, the spill gates allowing only a trickle at first, but then a flood. Staring, I tried to comprehend a message sent from my younger self almost 40 years ago. Threshold farewell? Truly. As if to say, “This was you so long ago. Do you remember?”
Yes, I remember…
Elton John. Linda Ronstadt. The Eagles. Olivia Newton-John. I was about to discover Fleetwood Mac…
The yellowed pages are a time capsule, as buried pieces of the present were called at the time.
I paged through…
The second story: Welcome Home (March, 1975). I was 15. A lengthy tale I wrote in less than 3 days for an assignment. I stayed up all night to complete it.
We were assigned a specific location, but after that we were free to write what we liked. The assignment called for 2-3 pages. I wrote 60.
It was about an assassination attempt at an airport terminal. At times dark, at other times lighthearted, often faltering, and always in present tense it was, well, interesting. Here’s a taste, and though it pained me, I resisted the desire to edit:
“There was nothing that anyone could do,” says Laura.
“You know,” says Keith, “I kind of figured that it would be like that, but I just didn’t want to ask. What about the senator?”
“He missed there,” says Roger.
“Good.” Keith looks back at the ticket area. “He missed Andrea, too, but it was close, too close in fact.”
“Andrea?” Laura looks at both of them. “Who’s Andrea?”
Keith doesn’t look back at her, he just says, “Andrea is that girl that…forget it. You’ll find out. Right now we have to get him to move.”
“What if I talked to him,” says Roger.
“I don’t really think that would work,” says Keith, “but you’re welcome to try.”
“Fine.” Roger stands up. Nothing happens, so he takes a step off to the left. “Hey mister! Hey you stupid idiot! Why don’t you come out here so I can kick your head in? If you’re too…” A shot rings out. Only because of the poor light does it miss. Roger drops to the floor and crawls back over to Keith and Laura. “You didn’t tell me he had a gun.”
“Well, I figured it might be a possibility.”
“You know,” says Roger, “you’re a little too much like her.” He points to Laura.
“Insults I do not need,” says Laura.
Suddenly they hear a sound and all stop talking. Keith says, “I think he’s moving. I guess towards the gates, but I’m not sure. Roger, your talk did some good after all.”
“Yea, and it almost cost me my life.”
Yup, it went like that.
The senator is saved. The good guys win. The ex-cop’s mentor is killed, but the ex-cop is reunited with his brother and his wife. The hero gets the girl.
Old threads weaving their way back into my life…
Though I cringed when I read the above passage anew, there was also a smile, and not just because I’d opened my door and discovered my younger self there waiting to reminisce. I noticed a thread finer than the one tying a teenage writer to an aging one. I noticed my penchant for banter.
For instance, here’s a snippet from my novel, Where Light Devours:
Becker cut in, “Maniff is the best seer I be knowin’…can track a goodly number of folks at the same time.”
A skeptical Ergain raised a brow. “Really…?
“You sound surprised.” The seer grinned. “Does that have anything to do with how difficult it is to keep track of you?”
Ergain let out a long sigh, folded her arms, and stared at nothing. “I don’t recall asking anyone to keep track of me.”
Amatha blurted out, “She was quite often into trouble with Wizard Argus.”
“Amatha!” Ergain swatted the girl’s shoulder. “He doesn’t want to hear about old, grouchy wizards.”
The tankard nearly to his lips, Maniff instead lowered it. “”Wizard stories…?”
Becker laughed. “Where to begin…?”
Ergain’s eyes flared. “We don’t begin anywhere.”
Looking again at what was my threshold I find that for perhaps the first time I’m able to brush aside the wisps of melancholy and appreciate a beginning so distant. Writing aside, I see too that even during times darker than a young teen should have to endure there were also positive moments.
As if it were yesterday I remember the day Ms. Randall stopped me in the corridor and told me—me!…the kid who’d struggled in every english class I’d ever taken to that point—that she was moving me to Honor’s English the following year.
Thank you, Ms. Randall.
And now, the fond memories spent, I bid farewell to my threshold and turn my sights upon the future my younger self helped build.