Whatever the reason we have for writing a blog, certainly it’s to communicate with others. That includes learning to share our thoughts in ways that are more pleasing, entertaining, educational, effective. A couple of days ago I posted a piece of “flash” fiction (what I used to call short-short stories) titled “The Moon, Anali and Hope”
It generated quite a few likes, and some comments. Of those, two readers, Dermott Hayes from the blog “Postcard from a Pigeon” and Robert Vella from the blog “The Secular Jurist” made some interesting suggestions. I took those suggestions or “critiques” if you will and re-wrote the story accordingly. Personally, I like the results. Feel free to comment pro/con on the changes or make your own suggestions.
I “dedicate” the following results to Dermott and Robert.
Love by the Hope River
[short story by ~Sha’Tara~ ]
She makes a decision, a choice. She stops watching the news one day, then she leaves the church. She walks out of her parents’ home some time after that and takes the bus to a smaller town up into the valley. She rents a tiny apartment and finds a job at the local library cleaning up and re-arranging the children’s section, and as general go-for.
Anali asks herself, is this all just an impulse? No. It is, she reasons, her destiny, and she believes strongly that destiny, once encountered, must be honoured.
It is her destiny, then, that brings her to meet Charlie. He sweeps the sidewalks and collects garbage for the town. A charity job, perhaps, but one that needs doing. Charlie is considered slow, and definitely abnormal as he thinks everybody is a friend and never gets angry or upset at anyone. Anali likes Charlie. They sit together on a bench by the library on warm sunny days, shaded by a rustling maple tree. On other days they meet at the McDonalds for a coffee and muffin. They don’t talk much, there is no need for what is developing between them requires no words.
Anali isn’t bright, and she knows it. She isn’t what you’d call pretty either and she knows that too. But she knows that she is a human being, and that Charlie is a wonderful human being. She isn’t unkind, but Charlie teaches her a greater degree of kindness, more awareness of the world around them, and that world’s problems and needs. Charlie stutters, and his slowness of speech allows Anali to keep up and understand him. “I feel sadness,” he says 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 I think he’s angry at us that we are so mean to each other 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 understands that perfectly.
Anali experiences a new kind of happiness inside herself. She wonders, is it just the moonlight? It seems to Anali that the moon has 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 hangs 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, which she discovered on one of her Sunday spring walks is called Hope. She has no idea why they had call it that, or what the native peoples who had fished its banks had called her, but she thinks Hope is a good name. When I have my daughter, she thinks in a moment filled with joy, I am going to call her Hope, and I’m going to give birth here, on her banks, under the moon. Anali is also a dreamer, not unlike Charlie.
She’d been sitting silently in the tall grass on the bank of the Hope river when she hears footsteps in the grass of the park above her, then the swishing of a body pushing itself through the tall grasses she is pretending to be hiding in. She rolls quietly on her back and looks into the blue sky, and the pale moon. Waiting. Waiting, and ready.
He casts his tall shadow over her prostrate form and looks down. Not at her, inside her. And she knows 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 shields her eyes and watches him bend down to her, kneeling on the soft earth beside her body. He stretches himself beside her and she cradles him in her arms.
Their clothes come off, easily and naturally, without haste or shame and without a word they come together and make love by the Hope river. Anali thinks she has reached a place of near perfection, but not quite. It will take some time for it to complete itself, but Anali’s main virtue is patience.
There is a bad accident in town. Anali doesn’t read the papers and she doesn’t have a TV but she hears people talk. Anali understands why Charlie isn’t at their bench the next day, and why she never sees him again.
A year and a few months later, with glowing face and a child in her arms, Anali stands by the banks of the Hope river. She walks to the edge and holding her own Hope over the clear waters, lets her see her own reflection. The baby goes, “oh, oh!” Across the narrow channel a thrush calls. An otter slips into the water followed by three playful young. Two young raccoons stare at her from the top of an old fallen tree trunk, curious, not scared.
From the pale moon high in the blue sky, Charlie looks down, tears of joy forming on his ghostly face, so Anali pictures it. She looks up and knows he is there watching over them and waiting. Without a doubt she knows they’ll be together again, someday after little Hope has grown up and made a life of her own in the world. She smiles and cuddles their baby tighter – so Charlie can feel their child’s warmth through her. There is no sadness, no sense of loss in Anali’s feelings, just a deep, peaceful happiness.
She’s found her perfection and all is as it should be.