Time’s Key

My grandfather once painted me this story:

A child, clothed in gray, wept atop the hill called Sunflower Gulch; this was not the first time.

The child’s mind was afflicted by a host of darkness. This darkness had many tormenters in it’s army: home, friends, dogs, and even Summer thunder; these fiends all waged an unending and undefeated war inside the child every waking moment of the day; there was no army that could stand against them.

At the bottom of the gulch, a steep and long distance from where the child sat with knees and head curled into lap, there was the pit. The unburdened children of the neighborhood believed that this pit was alive; with gnashing teeth and consuming belly. This pit ate no children, but it did eat what they fed it: emotions, mutilated dreams, innocent hopes, and anything else that was offered to it.

Grandpa continued: the child in gray on yellow, that day fed the pit the most exquisite meal it had ever partaken of. After consuming the meal, the pit let out an appeased rumble that reminded the child of a belch. The noise was so loud and quaking that it made the very tree tops tremble in fear. In the midst of this noise, the child saw an object rising out of the pit’s maw: the child discerned that the object was a key as it spun through the air, glinting with mysterious promise. The key careened into the Earth, stabbing into the soft soil with ease.

The pit was so full and pleased that it fell into a deep slumber. The child had made sure to give every last morsel to the pit.

The child decided to fill in the pit so that the dark host would never have the opportunity to torment the child again. The child scooped dirt in bare hands and threw it into the pit, one handful at a time. Once it was done, the child searched for the key. Upon finding it, the child picked it up, inspected it, and carried it for many years.

I asked Grandpa if the child discovered what the key went to, and Grandpa said no.

It is today. The sun is setting. Residual gray clouds obscure the sky and the stars. Early this afternoon while the sky wept, the worker’s from the old people’s home came and picked up Grandpa. After they left, I began boxing up memories, I set things out on the curb that had only been valuable to Grandpa, and I took a journey through time as I rediscovered trinkets that carried the essence of my past. One trinket I discovered was sitting forgotten in a metal coffee can, clanking around as I lowered the tin from a closet shelf. In the tin was a gold key. It It was dull, but still glinting with mysterious promise.

I deposited the gold key into my pocket and withdrew the key to Grandpa’s home. Locking the door behind me, I let the feeling the gold key gave me direct me.

The key led me to the home Grandpa was now staying at.

At Grandpa’s bedside, I presented the key inside the coffee can just as I had found it. Any luster the key had lost over the years I saw now in Grandpa’s eyes as he inspected it.

I can feel it all, Grandpa said. Everything I locked away that day, Everything I gave to the pit. I remember now.

Grandpa tapped the key to his head and said: you know what’s funny? All those fears and concerns and torments? They’re nothing to me now. I can say that with confidence. I see my life now, all of it, from this perspective, and I know I would have overcome those things just a few years later. My perspective and my circumstances were changing me day by day and would have led me from that place near the pit regardless of whether or not I fed it that day.

I asked Grandpa if he was still glad to see the key. He said yes, and he said that he was glad he got to see it again so that he could tell me how the story ended, so I wouldn’t have to live another day not knowing what had happened to the child in the story.

The last thing Grandpa said to me that day was that he believed every life was like a painting; and that no painting could be seen in it’s full beauty and potential until it was completed by the artist creating it.

Countenance

As a preface, I usually write stories, but this is a song. It’s a song about being seen and heard when the difficulties that life and evil load upon us become too much to bear. It’s a song about having the confidence to step out and meet others where they’re at. It’s a song about being empathetic and being there for a friend or a stranger when you can see they need you to be.

Countenance,
countenance,

What’s this veil? This darkness? This eclipse in the midst of the son?

Countenance is down,
face is a frown that no one sees but one.

Please, show me your face, son.
Please, give me your grace, son.

You’re somehow gone, but not forgotten.
Your imprint lingers, but is washed away by these tides,
the doubts,
these lies,
these bouts of darkness when I can’t seem to see through.

This veil that was laid down on my face,
the vibrancy,
the life,
the spirit of Christ,
just a distant memory?

How? Why now, when it was all right?
When you walked the footsteps beside me Lord?

Countenance,
Countenance,

Shoulders slumped,
downtrodden,
face a frown.

Unapproachable, he’s down and…
Unapproachable, she’s down and…

Obeyed the call, a friend did, a neighbor did, a listener did.

To speak on behalf, of the Lord over all,
to speak peace, and grace, and light into someone’s darkened hall.

Lord, you heard my cry.
Brother, sister, you obeyed even though it didn’t feel right.

And now,

countenance,
countenance,

The lifted veil.

Countenance,
countenance,

How did I ever think you were gone.

Countenance,
countenance.

Radiate through my eyes, for Jesus has banished that lord of lies.

Countenance…
Head held high.

Countenance…
Praises bellowed, to the sky.



Payment Failed

This 100 word micro-fiction story was a submission to the NYC Midnight writing contest. The prompts were as followed: genre: horror, action: making a down payment, needed word: piece.

Unfortunately the story didn’t rank in the winning top fifteen, but it still felt worthy of being read.

A funny bit of information about myself: I grew up loving horror (Stephen King for example), and any media that had a surreal, supernatural, or unexplainable plot (House of Leaves/Mark Z. Danielewski for example). These days, I find myself mostly avoiding reading horror (though House of Leaves remains my favorite book) and practically never writing it. With that being said, I felt pretty good about the end product, even if it pushed me outside of my comfort zone with the genre and content I wrote. With that, below is “Payment Failed.”

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Years ago, at Dominion’s Conception Superstore, we sold our innocence to afford the down payment we made on Ayanna’s life subscription.

Today, Dominion returned with a gavel-like knocking as Ayanna played blissfully in the garden.

Their associate beamed. “Good day. I’m Reaper. I’m here to repossess the child due to subscription payment failure.”

“Please. No.”

“Request denied. Payment failure limit reached.”

I hadn’t heard Ayanna come inside. She handed me a Chrysanthemum. Reaper smiled down at her.

“Excellent. She will be recycled piece by piece to fuel our workers.” As they departed, he yelled: “Please remember to rate your purchase!”