Well, you may notice that my blog looks a little different today. I think I'm changing as a writer. I've decided where I want my blog to go. For now. I want it to be a laboratory and playground for my writing. I still have so much to learn, and there's so much I want to try. I just felt it needed to be a little whimsical to encourage a bit of fun around here. I hope you like it! And don't worry if you don't -- I'll probably be changing it again sometime.
"Henry." Adam spoke softly. His son didn't stir. He reached over and gently shook the boy's shoulder.
"Henry, wake up. Come on, boy, you said you wanted to see the sunrise."
Henry groaned and rolled over in his sleeping bag. Adam chuckled.
"I know, I know, but you ain't changing your mind now. Up and at 'em, son."
Henry turned back to his dad, rubbing his eyes. He sat up as his dad pulled the warmth of the sleeping bag away from him.
"Dang, Dad, it's so cold!"
"I know, son, here. Get dressed fast." He tossed some clothes to his son and stepped out of the tent.
Henry was soon by his father's side. Adam had a pack on his back and a flashlight in hand. The pale beam of the light illuminated the wisps of breath that met the cold air. Adam grunted at his boy, and they began the trek into the woods. They didn't say much as they traveled. Henry knew better than to complain about the distance. He trudged along silently.
Adam led them to a small clearing. The trees parted and a copse of rocks was ahead. Henry looked above them and gasped at the brilliant landscape of stars above them.
Adam chuckled. "Pretty amazing, huh?"
Henry just nodded his head, turning around slowly trying to take it all in. They found a large flat rock. Adam set his pack down, unzipped it, and pulled out a small blanket. He unfurled it on the rock and motioned to his son to sit. He dug into the bag again and pulled out a baggie with muffins in it and two juice boxes. He and his son sat quietly, eating their breakfast and watching the night.
"Pretty soon now, you'll see a little glow start right there." Adam pointed to the horizon.
Henry nodded. They waited. The stars shined, their brightness unfading. Henry grew restless. He stood up and stretched. Adam shined the light on his watch. He furrowed his brow and held the watch to his ear. He looked at it again, tapped it a few times. He shook his head.
"Well, boy, I gotta apologize to you. I think there's something wrong with my watch. I woke you up too soon. Dang, we're gonna sleep well tonight. You just wait, though, it will all be worth it. I remember the first time I saw the sunrise. My dad took me to this very same spot. I'll never forget. You'll see."
Henry grunted at his dad. He stooped down and picked up a rock and threw it into the woods. He shuffled his feet. He picked up another and threw it.
"Hey, Dad, shine the light over there, 'k?"
Embarrassed by his mistake, Adam was happy to oblige. Had to keep the boy interested in something. He shined the light from rock to rock, giving Henry a little target practice. The boy had a good arm and pretty good aim. He was hitting even the farthest rocks after a few tries.
"Hmph. Good job, son."
Henry smiled in the dark at the rare compliment.
Henry had hit every rock in the copse, and there was still no glimmer at the edge of the horizon. Adam felt a twinge of unease. He went to his son and placed his hand on his shoulder.
"Dang, boy, I think I really screwed this up. Let's get back to the camp."
Henry sighed in relief and nodded his assent. They traipsed back through the woods in silence.
Adam heard a buzz of activity as they reached the edge of the campground. Well, people were certainly awake, that was for sure. Alarm bells fought through his confusion. He strode into camp and approached the couple next to their site.
"Hey, what's going on?" he asked.
The wife was crying. The husband paced back and forth, running his fingers through his hair.
"I don't know. Nobody knows, damn it. They're not telling us anything. Not a damn thing."
He motioned to the radio on the picnic table. Adam sat down to listen. It didn't make any sense.
"Riots in downtown Los Angeles..." "Fires burning in Chicago..." "Angry crowds showing up in front of the Capitol..."
The pieces fell into place the longer he listened. His watch was working just fine after all. The president finally came on with a prepared statement.
"There is no reason to believe that this is a terrorist attack."
Then what the hell was it?
"Dear God in heaven, Henry, it's the end of the world. Kneel down, boy. Kneel down and pray. You keep praying, boy. Dear God in heaven, save our souls."
"Jimmy, what are you doing?"
He jumped, nearly dropping the orb in his hands. He regained his grip and let out a soft sigh of relief. His lip trembled and he looked down at the ground. His mother came to his side.
"Oh, honey, don't you remember how I told you to hold that? You always have to hold it from the bottom. Look, your thumb is blocking the sun. You know they can't live long without that."
She adjusted the globe and demonstrated the proper grip.
"It's time to get ready for school. Put it back. Be careful this time. The last one you broke made a terrible mess I had to clean up."
Jimmy carefully returned the orb to its stand. He waved good-bye to the scurrying little bugs. He imagined one of them waving back to him. He ran out of the room.
"Hey, Mom, what's for breakfast?"
Prompt: A boy and his father awaken early to watch the sunrise from their mountain campsite, but they begin to panic when the sky remains dark long into the afternoon.
To play along, visit Write Anything's [Fiction] Friday.
From my work in progress, A Novel Idea:
Jane was upstairs in her room when she heard a soft knock on the door.
"Mom, can I talk to you?" Jamie asked.
"Sure, hon, what is it?" Jamie handed her a piece of paper. It was a notice from school explaining that one of their students had died. It offered condolences to the family of the girl and grief counseling services for any of their students. Jane looked up from the note to see her daughter's face.
"Oh, honey, I'm so sorry. That's awful. Do you know who it was?"
"Yeah, Marsha Sampson. She was in my choir class."
"Did you know her very well?"
"Kind of. I mean, we just had the one class together, but I saw her every day."
"Did anybody say what happened?"
"Well, the teachers won't tell us anything, but everyone is saying she committed suicide." Jamie's brow furrowed. "She thought she didn't have any friends, but she did. She didn't sit by herself at lunch or anything. I don't know why she would kill herself, Mom."
Jane sat down on the edge of her bed and pulled Jamie down beside her. She put her arm around her daughter's shoulders.
"Honey, I'm sure there were things going on in her life that you didn't see. People kill themselves when they feel trapped, hopeless. When they can't see a way out. You know, there wasn't anything that you could have done."
Jamie buried her face in her mother's shoulder. There was a muffled, "Maybe."
Jane hugged her and for awhile they said nothing. Then Jamie pulled away from her mom and looked up at her. She tilted her head to the side and frowned.
"Mom?" she said in a small voice.
"Do you think Marsha went to hell? Some of the kids are saying she went to hell because she committed suicide."
Jane recoiled at the cruelty of children.
"Oh, I believe God is kinder than that," Jane said. "I like to think of Him waiting for her, taking her in His arms, and letting her cry on His shoulder. Her life must have already been hell if it was so bad she killed herself. That's probably enough."
Jamie's body relaxed, and she nodded her head.
"But..." Jane hesitated. "Well, I imagine Marsha can look at her life from a different perspective now. She can see things she couldn't when she was here. She can see that there would have been another way out, eventually. And maybe she can see all the good, happy things that were waiting for her -- people she hadn't met yet, things she would have done. I imagine that would be a kind of hell, too."
"She was really good at singing," Jamie said.
"I bet there were a lot of things she was good at. She just didn't know it yet."
Jamie leaned into her mom and let her head rest again on her shoulder. She drew in her breath with a shudder. Jane heard a sniffle. Ah, Jamie, poor Jamie, healer of bird's wings and welcomer of strays. Jane gently rubbed her back.
"It's just so sad," Jamie said.
"I know, honey. It is."
To participate in today's blogfest, visit Roni's blog here. (Roni, I would have added the button to my sidebar, but couldn't figure out how to do it. :( Sorry!)
I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over.
I had wanted to show him that I was all right now. I had moved on. I was whole again. I admit to a touch of curiosity. I had only caught a glimpse of her the few times she waited in the car when he came to pick up the kids. I wanted to see them together, to see if he treated her the way he treated me in the beginning. I wanted to find cracks, warning signs that I had missed.
I knew that I looked fantastic. I'd lost all the weight I put on while we were married. Time at the gym toned my muscles. I looked strong. I felt strong. I turned heads when I walked into the room.
I waved to my ex in-laws. Doris smiled back and Ed gave me a quick hug and a kiss on my cheek. They were distracted and left me with a pat on the hand. "I'm glad you were able to make it."
I mingled with mutual friends and met some new faces. I sparkled. I was witty. I made people laugh.
I took my place in the reception line. My heart didn't race; I didn't panic. She smiled at me and took my offered hand. Her voice was warm and gracious. "Thank you for coming." She turned to the next in line.
But he didn't dismiss me so quickly. I recognized the glint in his eyes as he roamed my face, my body. After I had moved through the line, I watched for awhile. Other pretty girls stepped up to congratulate him. Each received his intimate smile, his approving glances. Sometimes he squeezed a little too tightly when giving a hug.
I left with a heaviness in my chest. Maybe she's a sweet, stupid girl, and I should run back in and warn her. Maybe she knows and turns away from seeing.
I shouldn't have come. I accomplished what I came for, but a shadow fell on my satisfaction. The picture of that beautiful girl on her wedding day would haunt me.
To play along, visit Write Anything's [Fiction] Friday.
The way I'm writing it is the only way it happened. I'm not going to soften the blow or camouflage it in pretty pink prose. I think stark truths should be told starkly.
I would like to say it began innocently enough, but I don't believe that is true. I think Henry was looking for a dog to kick before he even walked into the yard. Scott just happened to be the right dog at the wrong time.
Scott tried to stand up to him, for once. I have to admire him for that. Henry started in teasing him about the grease stains on his shirt. Scott said maybe if Henry tried working once in awhile he wouldn't be so frightened of a little dirt. It didn't help that a titter went through the crowd. Henry grew red in the face and shoved him to the ground. Scott's shirt ripped; dark mud stains were added to the black grease.
Scott snapped. I don't think even he recognized what he was doing. He jumped up and slammed into Henry so fast, it caught him off balance. Henry hit his head hard on the sidewalk next to the yard. Scott jumped on him before he could react. He knelt on Henry's chest, took Henry's head between his two rough hands, and began banging, banging, banging it against the concrete. I saw a small rivlet of blood spread towards the gutter, and I screamed.
From Quote Snack's Writing Prompt May 4, 2010