A Note From the Author
I’d like to apologize for not posting as much as I would like this last week. My time seems to be split amongst several projects right now, which is totally awesome. Between working on my novel and spending time with the good people over at the Fiction Workshop, I barely have time to write much else.
There are no shortages of things to do over at the workshop. Part of that is my fault--they have spent a good amount of time editing some of my work. My mind holds no doubt that their instruction has bettered my writing ability. So, I am immensely grateful for that… If any of you have the slightest interest in writing, I would strongly recommend that you check out the Fiction Workshop over in the MSP (Minnow Support Project) on Discord.
A little while ago, @rhondak (a moderator and amazing editor over at the workshop) asked if I might be interested in writing a romance short. The following 3-part short story is the final result. Although, I’m told it doesn’t really fit strict romance genre requirements. However, it is romance-ish with a kind of paranormal twist (I can never get my love of sci-fi and fantasy out of my writing completely). I sincerely hope you enjoy this piece. It was a blast to write.
I need to thank @rhondak , @carolkean , @jrhughes , @sandzat and all the other talented writers and editors that helped me polish this piece. Thank you and I look forward to what the future brings with all of you in my life!
Tanabata -- Part 1
The smell of her sickness had led me here.
It was always the same. Each disease, malady, ailment, and injury carried its own specific scent. Just a whiff told more about the person than I usually cared to know.
The scent wasn’t usually unpleasant, not like you might imagine, just...earthy. An aura surrounded it as well; something I could follow when I focused on it hard enough. Not that I rely on it anymore. The sense was second nature now, something I don’t even think about.
The woman in front of me held the door. I slipped in behind her, mumbling my thanks. She didn’t hear me.
I always liked this place. The administration obviously spent a good portion of the budget focusing on the children. Hundreds of paper fish and other fabricated creatures hung from the ceiling, caught in an unseen current that wound from the entrance through the aisles.
Following the current, I came to a corner where bright, oversized cushions settled half-moon around a replica of an aged oak tree. Vibrant strips of cloth wrapped around the tree’s girth and limbs as it reached to the ceiling to join the paper animals above.
Stained-glass windows rained myriad colors upon a group of children seated at the base of the oak. The children sat captivated by a young woman as she added her own personal touches to Where the Wild Things Are, eliciting several giggles from the crowd.
My mark sat on her mother’s lap, sunken eyes detracting from the storytime-induced joy written on her face. A Totoro beanie hid her completely bald head.
Their gazes met mine as I approached and sat.
“Ooh, I love this one!” I gave them my most genuine smile. When the girl returned the favor, I whispered, “I bet you’re just as wild, probably running your mother ragged, eh?” This time it was the mother’s turn to smile, but I saw the sadness hidden in it. The only running this child was doing was to the grave.
The girl shook her head and put her forefinger to her lips to quiet me. I laughed. She has a spark, though. They always do.
I waited for storytime to finish. Standing, I motioned to the mother. “The kids love it here.”
“Hai, soudesu–I mean, sorry, yes! Hitomi likes coming here very much.” Her English was pretty good, but her accent needed some work.
“So, you’re from Japan then?” Speaking their mother tongue just made things easier.
“Ah! You speak Japanese!”
“A little bit. So, what brings you to America?” I already knew, of course, but breaking the ice always made the process go a little more smoothly.
This time the child spoke up. “I’m seeing a special doctor!”
The mother forced a small laugh for her child while shushing her. “Sorry! Yes, well, there are only a handful of specialists that have experience with Hitomi’s condition so...”
“I see.” There was rarely an easy way of doing this. “Look, I know this may seem strange. Well, it is strange, but I need to ask you something. Is that alright?”
“Umm, I guess so.”
After all this time, I still hadn’t found an easy way to ask.
“Does…does it make you stronger?”
“Does it make you stronger, going through what you’re going through? Watching your child die?”
I knew the words were wrong as soon as they left my lips. I had grown a bit calloused after asking variations of this questions countless times.
The mother had covered her child’s ears. “How dare you! Who do you think you–”
I bounded the two remaining strides between us, and grasped the child’s head, her beanie falling to the floor. My actions were quicker than the mother’s scream; another moment and she would begin her assault.
Too late. I had already released the Power into the girl.
The briefest of light flickered just under the child’s skin as I removed my hands. The healing was never gradual; there was no waiting or “getting” better. It was always instant, whole, and complete.
I bent down, picked up the beanie, and handed it to Hitomi.
“You don’t want to forget your Totoro!” She took it, gave it a small hug, and thrust it over her thick, flowing, dark hair. She almost looked chubby compared to mere moments ago. Hitomi’s mother’s unfocused gaze showed she was still experiencing the side effects of the Power’s release. Speaking, I snapped her from the daydream. “It was nice to meet you two! Thank you for letting me practice my Japanese a bit!”
Awareness returned to her eyes. “Oh, your Japanese is perfect! Thank you for talking with us, translating makes me tired, but Hitomi just loves coming here, you know. We had better get going though, we still haven’t packed for our plane tomorrow.”
“Of course, have a wonderful trip!” I waved them off.
It was always the same. Over the years, I had lost count of how many I had touched. They were always healed, but they always forgot.
The two would most likely travel home thinking their vacation ended far too quickly. The Power would ripple outward, touching those involved. Doctors’ bills and patient records would disappear. Schedules, cell phones, social media, all of history would gently rewrite itself to accommodate their new lives together. Hitomi’s cancer and all record of it would vanish. In time, they would probably even forget their little run-in with the odd man at the library. No one ever knew my part in it. No one - other than myself - remembered.
I had never desired recognition. It wasn’t my power anyway. I was just the conduit. Yet, to be forgotten time after time planted a certain seed of loneliness. Selfish, I know.
I started to head out of the building. Just once, it might be nice…
“Hey you! Wait! Hey, stop!” A hand caught my arm, causing me to spin around mid-step.
The young storyteller still had the copy of Where the Wild Things Are clutched to her breasts. Upon her finger, a ring - sapphire on an antique gold design - caught the colored light briefly.
“How did you…! What just… You…you were speaking Japanese!” She finally managed to get a full sentence out.
I chuckled. “No harm in that, is there? Kinda comes with the territory if you live there a few years.” I turned to continue on my way. “Be sure to take care of yourself now, the kids round here love you, you know.”
“You healed her,” she whispered.
I froze in my tracks. She seemed to gather courage from my hesitation.
“I saw it! I don’t know what you said to her, but she…she was angry and then you just grabbed the child and…and…her hair... How did you do that? And why did they just leave like nothing happened? Oh, I need to sit down…”
I still hadn’t moved. Words had never been my strong point, and now, I felt as mute as the fish that hung above me.
Some Of My Works
* * *
- A World Long Sundered -- A Description of My Novel In Progress
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 1 PART 1
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 1 PART 2
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 2
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 3
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 4 PART 1
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 4 PART 2
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 4 PART 3
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 5 PART 1
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 5 PART 2
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 5 PART 3
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 6 PART 1
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 6 PART 2
* * *
- My Blog
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 1 Original Version -- Note: This version was edited and broken into the 2 parts of chapter 1 above. Some might like to compare.
- Want to learn more about the Fiction Workshop? Click here.