Tag Archives: love

A Difficult but Necessary Matter of Balance

 (thoughts from    ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara)

I haven’t had much time for blogging lately, being as they say, busy.  But surprisingly, I’ve had time, perhaps too much time, to think about this world, about its overall condition and where it is heading, apparently heedless and unaware.  I know this is a judgment forming an opinion, but not once in my entire life of 70 years has my sense of where things are going ever been wrong.  It’s like a compass in my mind, something I can “see” and rely on entirely, basing my personal movements on it, knowing when to “hold and when to fold” as the song goes.

I feel massive waves of sorrow passing over me time and again, triggered by many encounters: a baby in its mother’s arms; an old man hunched over waiting to safely cross a busy street; a homeless lady holding a sign saying, ‘Please buy my CD, I’m hungry’ and displaying a CD she probably found in a dumpster – (she got lucky: I saw her and I chose to believe her despite all the propaganda against her) or even moved to a helpless stop by the wind’s choreography of tree branches not yet covered in leaves.  A house hunched behind a sagging gate; a rusting sign from a business that went broke years before…  

Have you ever just “thought” about “the world” and had tears well in your eyes until they started flowing down your cheeks?  Closed your eyes and brought your hands together as if in prayer, though you don’t pray?  Then thinking, ‘Do I want to be here?’ and knowing the answer is ‘No, I don’t want to feel this, this way, connected to this chaos of ignorance, of pain, of apparent mindlessness.  I don’t want to be the stranger any longer; to not be able to speak to the trees, the birds, the clouds.  I’m tired of just feeling and finding it so terribly difficult to harness those feelings; to draw intelligence, awareness, understanding, acceptance and meaningful teaching from them.  That is probably neither their purpose, nor task but I’m breaking the rules here.’ 

Life, I find, is like driving a street.  Some parts are smooth, some rough.  Some are safe and some, well, you may not get out of alive.  The truly sad part is, much of life is entered into without its overall costs duly assessed.  People are programmed, it seems, to repeat patterns and unable to stop and consider the risks, the odds, based on previous lives, previous experiences of elder people, or people in history.  ‘What are my chances this is going to work as I hope?’ Is not the question asked.  Plunge into the swamp, there are no alligators here!  But there are, disguised as floating logs.  You may have passed your swimming tests and won medals, but guaranteed: terror is but a splash behind you, and it isn’t virtual reality. 

Too dark a vision?  Probably, but some of us have chosen a path that runs counter to that of the herd and we see that which the herd isn’t permitted to see, and would not want to see in any case. 

Someone has to shed burning hot tears for the dying.  It’s a difficult but necessary matter of balance.  

 

Imperialists’ Contradictory Truths

{ahhhh… a poem.  One that tries to keep pace with the times, as once in a while the girl has to express what she feels inside, what she reads, what she observes.} 

***I was remiss in not stating that the quote, “postage stamp mindset” is not something I made up, but that I read from DAVID ICKE. ***

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~  ]

From discomfort we loudly proclaim our comfort;
Our corruption defines our character strength;
By feeding generic hate we express our love.

Denial of reality is our unshakeable reality;
Our leaders’ lies are beacons for sacred truth.
From endless deceptions we draw certainty.

With guns and prisons we proclaim freedom;
Prejudice and bigotry: these are our banner;
Turpitude measures our standard of excellence.  

Our wars attest it: we stand for world peace,
However many we must kill to attain this.
The world trembles and bleeds at our holy name.

For we are America, bastion of democracy,
Land of the free, home of the brave;
Ever safe inside our postage stamp mindset.

 

 

Let’s Talk about Love, Peace, Faith and Compassion

                                  [thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

I’ll begin with a question: can we live without hope? Such a fascinating question. There are three “famous” virtues in the Christian N.T: faith, hope and love, and the writer concludes by claiming that the greatest of these is love. Is this true?

I think it’s fascinating to observe people feel impelled to continue on, to defend, concepts or “forces” such as the three most famous: faith, hope and love, that are obviously “there” but as obviously do not produce the claimed results, i.e., do not perform as advertised.  Yet regardless of failed results, there remains a world-wide need, a necessity, to express these forces in whatever way. 

Of hope, this is what Alexander Pope had to say about it:

“Hope springs eternal in the human breast; 
Man never Is, but always To be blest.
The soul, uneasy, and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.”

(In this context, “expatiates” essentially means to speculate.)

In other areas of life, let’s say the less emotional ones, when something doesn’t work, we stand back and say, “To hell with this, it doesn’t work.” and proceed to find something that does.  Why waste precious life energy?  Would you keep a car that only started once in a blue moon?  Would you keep a sewing machine that keeps fouling the thread and breaking needles?  If you had a leaking roof, would you just walk around the puddles, accepting that as normal, or would you fix it, and if it could not be fixed, move to a different house? 

Take love, what hasn’t been said about love; done in the name of love?  Love is sought by most, usually to feel good, sometimes to share good things with another, or others, and in seeking the experience of selfless giving, that being the rarest aspect of love giving.  Personal experience and deep study of the concept does not seem to support selfless love as being ubiquitous. 

Peace is even more entangled with the negative.  A glaring example: we can accept certain uses of the military as “peace keepers” walking through conquered or pacified countries or cities, fully armed, ready to kill.  Seldom do we stop to reason that such an approach to peace (overwhelming force de frappe) cannot possibly ever work – nor do we realize it has never worked because it is the antithesis of any sane concept of peace.  We have peace demonstrations or peace marches, using force to demand peace, again a complete contradiction.  When “peace” is gained that way, we replace the oppressive structure with another equally oppressive. 

Evolution demands that we give up our pet beliefs in favour of common sense.  What time and again hasn’t worked, will simply not work.  Why don’t we “get it”?

The problem with forces like love and peace is simple: they have no staying or sustaining power.  Essentially they are placebos, installed in the brainwashing apparatus to keep people believing in things that neither will, nor can, ever be.  To succeed in our evolution away from the madness of racism, war, genocide, misogyny, homophobia and countless others, we need something much more meaningful than the fake energies imposed by Matrix programming.  We need something that takes over a life and makes it its own.  Only then can the programming be broken.

In the case of love, that translates as compassion.  The compassionate being becomes an avatar of compassion, no longer by vocation or choice but by nature.  Transmutation, if you like.  An irreversible, permanent condition.  

Notice that one can “love” but one cannot “compassion.”  One cannot “do” compassion, one can only become compassion until one is irretrievably lost in it.  Maybe that’s what frightens people about certain energies: they fear being taken over by something bigger than themselves, something they cannot control or choose to back out of.  Yet they give their complete allegiance; their hearts and minds to evil powers readily enough, believing (that’s where faith comes in) they can squeeze something good out of evil-based forces that can only bring devastation, be they gods or earthly rulers.  As in, you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

Compassion changes an individual into an empathetic entity.  It makes it possible for an individual to exist, or to “walk between the worlds” of flesh and spirit, to act as a conduit between the joy and the sorrow of planetary life and beyond.

Of note: this state of beingness can never be achieved from any collective. Neither a romantic relationship, family, tribe, nation or race, nor any other type of grouping will ever develop compassion.  It can only come from a personal, individual commitment.  Contrary to popular belief and the constant barrage of brainwash from society, we aren’t tribes, groups, nations, languages.  We are ISSA beings, billions of individuals who, in order to evolve beyond the deadly trappings of religion, politics or competitive predatory capitalism, need to define themselves as individuals through individual self-empowerment and deliberate detachment from any and all collectives. 

Compassion is how that is achieved.  It is the key that unlocks the chains of slavery now holding billions captive to useless and deadly concepts.  This is what I’ve been taught, and what I’ve been working on for nigh on 40 years now.  It is not a comfortable, feel-good, nor safe place to be in, but more so than living in the old unreliable alternative paradigms of selfishness, greed, fear and hate.  

Many decades ago, as I finally exited Christianity I rejected all three major Christian virtues in order to re-direct my life, replacing all with just one: compassion.

The question was, can anyone live without hope?  Yes, anyone can live without hope because hope is misdirection. It keeps telling people that things can be what they obviously aren’t, and that’s leading people to accept living in denial. Faith does the same thing, and so does love. These are emotions, nothing more. If we knew for certain who we are, we wouldn’t need placebos to make life bearable, we would have the power to live our life with assurance that we are doing the right thing from self-empowerment. Our problems stem from not knowing ourselves and from relying on false information to define our individual lives. That’s what we need to change: we need to become enlightened enough to stand alone in detachment and self-empowerment.

As long as we rely on fake help, we will remain dis-empowered and we will continue to fail in achieving our greatest dreams.  We will continually fall back into the hands of psychopathic “gods” and leaders who only seek our “perdition” for the simple reason that our weakness is what empowers them.

Conclusion:  A compassionate being learns how to walk between the worlds of matter and spirit, experiencing sorrow and joy as foundations of duality; never fears death; understands the infinite and eternal aspect of life and carries on “as if” their own life didn’t matter, knowing that the avatar of compassion, if not immortal, is eternal.

(ISSA: acronym for  Intelligent, Sentient, Self Aware)

Meet Andrew Logan and Callie Brown

                                             [short story, by Sha’Tara]

Ever since his people had left him behind to observe human life on Earth he had wandered the city, learning the peoples’ ways, their mores, their languages, absorbing and analyzing.  Gradually, over a period of a month he had adapted his earth-human-clone body into a fully functional Earthian body complete with all the feelings and emotions attendant to a born Earthian.  He even gave himself a name, Andrew.  Andrew Logan.  Architect.  He liked the concept.  After all he was a scientist engineer and Earthian technology was at a very low level of development.  There was nothing in it he couldn’t understand and improve after a few minutes of study. 

What truly fascinated him however was the human body, its functions and those strangest of things: feelings and emotions.  He could make the tongue move and speak any language, making sounds was easy, mimicking any human or animal call, simple. He had quickly learned which foods to ingest to keep the body at peak performance and he could keep it awake indefinitely without any negative consequences.  But his feelings, that he did not understand.  Well, it was because he could not prevent them from manifesting; he could not think them gone or reason them away: they just happened and he was never ready for them.  The worst part however was that which followed the feelings; what the Earthians themselves called emotions. 

“I have never known hate,” he thought to himself, “it is a totally alien concept to me, but if I could hate, I’d say I hate these feelings, and more, these ridiculous emotions.  These things are completely unreasonable.  Surely they do not expect to ever develop a properly functioning civilization encumbered with such negative emanations from their brains and bodies?”

“Excuse me, sorry, I was texting.  Did you say something to me?”  The woman had stood beside him at the bus stop.  He was aware of her presence but he failed to realize he was speaking some thoughts aloud and could be overheard.  On his world people only listened when you were actually addressing them.  But here, they has an insatiable curiosity, from every sense.  They reached out to hear, to see, to taste, to smell.  They exuded sexual desire or conversely, revulsion.  Black and white they were.  No peaceful rest of mechanical neutrality.  No wonder they lived such short lives: they literally fried themselves in attempts to answer circular questions, and deal with circular emotions.   

She kept looking at him.  “I haven’t seen you around here” she continued, “Passing through?  Or moving to the neighbourhood?”  How to respond… oh yes, there is a standard appropriate response for everything: “I’m very sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt your activities.  Yes, I’m moving in actually.”  He added to appear totally normal: “I’m looking for an apartment.  Nothing fancy, just a bachelor suite.”  

“That’s wonderful, Mr. huh?” 

“I’m sorry, I meant to introduce myself properly.  My name is Andrew Logan.  I am an architect.”

“Callie Brown.  Real estate agent.  I just finished going through the vacancy list in that apartment building across the street.  There are two bachelor suites, one available now, one at the end of the month.  Would you like to see them?” 

To see them?  How strange that she would ask that.  If she showed him the apartments’ numbers, he could see them.  Surely there was no need to actually take an elevator and walk to the suite to verify that it was there; that what he saw was what existed at that number!  He put it down as another of their strange sayings that do not mean what they say: “Have a chair.”  “Take a seat.”  “Rain check.”  “Do lunch.”  “Night cap.” “Would you like fries with that?” as if he’d somehow forget to state exactly what he meant to order and needed a reminder.

“Sir?”  She had a pleasant voice, and by Earth standards was quite young (he estimated she’d be twenty-eight years, three months and four days old, born at four-thirty-eight of the morning, give or take a couple of minutes, he was quite certain he was “in the ball park” to use another of their nonsensical expressions.)  She was also very pretty, so his body kept insisting, and he felt embarrassingly attracted to her, wanting to get closer, to touch, to feel her.  Frighteningly powerful urges tugged at his brain. 

“Yes.  Do I address you as Miss, Ms., or Mrs.?”  She had a very attractive smile, again as his body eagerly told him. 

“You can just call me Callie; no need for any formalities.”

“Thank you Callie.  Yes, I certainly would like to see the apartments, thank you very much.”

As they rode up the elevator he felt her trying to expose herself to him.  He wondered again, as he had since the very first day he’d felt those attractions, if these people felt that way about each other, why did they hide themselves behind clothes?  Why did they offer so many things that were highly desired, or prized, yet never gave them away to those who wanted them?  He had concluded that there was something very wrong with this sentient life.  When he communicated his findings to the orbiting ship he’d been granted an extended tour of duty.  Of course: he was, after all, Doctor Los, senior analyst.  

Before the decision to actually land an observer on the planet he’d participated on several abductions.  His people had been trying to understand Earthians for many earth years in order to present information to the High Galactic Council as to whether these sentients, now on the verge of developing functional star drives, could safely be allowed to roam outside their solar system.  The problem with abducting the creatures and performing experiments on them is that it did not answer the critical questions.  Because of their primitive brain functions they went “off the charts” when discovering they were on a space ship.  Some got violent.  Some went into cardiac arrest or catatonic and most of the young females, those who didn’t “lose it” as they termed it, just wanted sex with “the gods” as they thought of them and experience “great” sexual orgasms.  All of them had to be time-wiped before being returned to their world. 

We need someone to interact with them as one of them, on their own world, in their own natural environment; on their own terms.  So as senior scientist of the Tholian crew he’d volunteered. 

And here he was.  In a residential apartment building, rising through several floors with Callie Brown to “look” at an apartment.  He wondered then what she’d think, or say, if he told her he already knew exactly, in every detail, what the apartment looked like from extracting the location number in her cell phone?  He let the thought pass, the elevator stopped and they exited to walk down a hallway to apartment 1823.

She pressed four keys on a keypad in the door, inserted a metal key and after two green lights began flashing, opened the door.  “Old fashioned, I know, but residents like this system, harder to break in.”  He stood inside the door, scanning the place.  “Go ahead, it’s OK, it’s vacant.  Wander through, have a good look.  It’s compact and practical.  Now for the terms, it’s $2100 a month plus utilities, or you can purchase a package that includes everything, furniture, utilities, maintenance, telephone, TV, Internet and comprehensive insurance for $2600 a month.  With current market conditions in the city that’s actually a really good deal.”

She had moved very close to him as she talked, now touching just slightly.  Their bodies pulled at each other like magnets.  He enjoyed the sensation.  He moved against her.  She turned to face him, looked up into his eyes, and urgently began to undress him.  He saw the bed in her mind, she lying on top, waiting for him.  He brought himself back to the moment and as she undressed him, he did the same for her.  Soon they were both naked and she walked to the bed, sitting on the side, then deftly lifting her legs and lying prone on it. 

“You’re not from around here, are you Andrew?”  She smiled more, slowly spreading her legs, inviting him.  “Who are you really?”

“We are Tholian analysts from a distant galaxy.  We analyze and grade sentient worlds for the Greater Galactic Council.  I’m performing an in-depth planetary consciousness analysis.”

“That’s like, an alien?  You’re an alien, Andrew?”  She didn’t feel to him as much shocked as excited.

“Yes.”   

“Oh God, my lucky day or what!”  She actually giggled like a young girl.

He stared at her nakedness, her vulnerability, and felt a powerful urge to go down on top of her and meld with her body.  He understood that without the clothes he was naked; that his body was male, and that she desired him to join with her in hormonal polarity.  He also realized that he felt a need in his body to join with her, a nascent but powerful “sexual” need.  By the thoughts in her mind, his erection was all she could think of at the moment.

“It’s how we reproduce” she said as she guided him inside her, “and it’s also the greatest source of pleasure we can ever experience.  But I want this one to blow all the others away!  Are you up for it?  Score: visitor 1, home team 1, we have a tied game?”  She laughed at her own joke then it began in earnest.

Still breathing hard, he said, “I sense that you want a child to come from this union.  Please assure me that I have the correct interpretation of your feelings?” 

“Oh yes, how I wish I could have your child, Andrew.  Unfortunately I can’t.  Something haywire with my reproductive system.”

“That’s not a problem.  These bodies are very simple.  I’ve by-passed its objection to the impregnation.  You will have a child.”

“Oh boy, now you’ve really scared me.  What will he look like?”   There was that shallow concern about visual effects again, as if how one “looks like” could possibly have any relevance to one’s life.

“Oh, he’ll have a perfectly normal body but with a slower physical growth rate and much higher IQ than you are used to on this world.  You see, we look exactly like you, we are not some strange looking green blob monstrosity of your quaint imaginings.  We are humans, just billions of years in your time future.  Now please excuse me for a moment, I need to contact my people on the ship.”  He watched her for a few moments as she settled down on the bed, fluffing her beautiful brown hair over the pillow and closing her eyes with a deep sigh of perfect contentment. She brought her right hand to cup her breast and ritually thumbed her nipple.  Such simple creatures, he thought.  If only they knew they were within a hair’s breath of qualifying as angels… if only they could see the truth of it for themselves and act accordingly.

“I’ve entered into a life-relationship with an earth woman and given her a child.  I’ll require another tour of duty extension as I’ll have to remain somewhat longer to see her through her short life and guide the child in our ways.  Please begin proceedings for clearance for her and the child when she is near her natural termination date, to locate both aboard ship.  She will require full body transplant, of course.  I will cover any energy costs.”

“Yes, Doctor Los, there will be no complications.  We can get all the energy we need from the planet’s sun and satellite.  Give us your coordinates when the time comes.  Have a pleasant stay.”

The years of bliss passed quickly for Callie Brown, years that were but mere days for Andrew Logan, or Doctor Los.  He continued his analysis of Earthian consciousness, and with so much more at stake now for himself.  Though it was such a short time, he learned to love “his Callie” as he called her.  Whatever she wanted, he would have given her, but she just wanted a small house in the country, with a garden.  Here she raised Andrew Junior who grew very slowly by Earthian standards.  She was happy with that.  “It makes it seem like I have so much more time this way.”  She also said to him one day, “It’s as if I never had any other life but this one.  I feel so undeservedly blessed, Los.”  (She began calling him Los so as not to create confusion between him and Andrew Junior.  She didn’t want her son to get used to being called “Junior.”)

Throughout that time, the greatest gift he could give her he withheld from telling her of, that she would be given the choice to enter eternal life, eternal youth, if she wanted it; if she chose to join with the Tholian crew and make Tholia  her new home world.  Andrew Junior, their son (such an atavistic concept) would also have to make a similar choice. 

“She loved simple things…  One morning she wasn’t feeling well.  The next day, she was gone.” (paraphrase from “Meet Joe Black”)

 

The Incompatible, Impossible Couple

A short story, by Sha’Tara

Introduction:  I was watching “Last Love” that amazing movie with Michael Caine and Clémence Poésy for the third time tonight.  I had my netbook on my lap to record passages in the movie when the following story simply jumped at me.  I don’t see that is has much to do with the movie, except perhaps the ages of the couple, and the fact that “Mr. Morgan” was a college professor, but anyway, here goes. 

“Hello, Matthew, I’m glad you decided to meet after all.”

“Hi, Giselle, what made you think I wasn’t going to show up?”

“Oh, maybe your way of showing a complete lack of interest in my doings?”

“I’m sorry,  my face is a complete traitor, plus I’m essentially an asocial person, I thought you knew, understood and accepted that about me?”

“I forgot, Matthew.  Should we order?”  I tried to make my voice hard and cold but I was trembling with fear inside, to the point of feeling sick.

“Yes, certainly.  Garçon?”  I moved to sit next to him; the meal was beyond excellent.  He talked then, and I listened.  Had there been company I would have had to do all the talking.  

That’s how it was with us.  Matthew and his French girl, the incompatible, impossible couple, they called us.  His friends from the college where he teaches English and Philosophy all speak English.  When they see my name written down, they call me Giselle with a hard “g” as in guide.  They make it sound like gazelle.  It’s their little joke, they know how to say my name.  I like the feeling the name gazelle gives me, it suits me somehow.  

We make a strange pair, there’s no denying that.  He’s a twice-divorced college professor who’s also over twice my age.  I’m a tall, somewhat skinny brunette who’s a landscape artist and arborist.  I spend most of my time outdoors, he spends his days teaching and interacting with people and he’s the one who’s asocial.  I love people as much as I love plants. 

We met on the bus a couple of months ago when I was having my truck serviced and forced to take the day off.  I was on my way to my Yoga class and he dropped a couple of books at my feet.  Before he could retrieve them I’d picked them up and as I handed them back to him our eyes met.  He has piercing blue eyes and very expressive hands. Call me a slut, but suddenly I wanted those hands on my skin.  And I wanted his lips on mine.  Just like that.  I was taken. 

“How would you like to come to Yoga class with me?”  I asked him.  Why?  Some things just have no explanation.  I wanted, no, needed, him near me.

“You don’t even know my name, I don’t know yours… did you say Yoga class?  I’ve never done Yoga; don’t know much about it except what I’ve read.  I don’t see the point of it, actually.”  He had a pleasant bass voice that filled my heart with instant and deep longing.  I wanted to swim in it, naked. 

“I’m Giselle.  You?”

“Matthew,  Matthew Hislop.   What’s your last name?”

“Oh, it’s Laliberté.  That’s my maiden name, never married.”  Then it struck me, why did I volunteer that information?  I know, I wanted him, and my woman’s intuition told me to make myself vulnerable, the best way to attract him in case my physical attributes weren’t enough.  Did I ask myself if he was married?  No.  It’s as if I knew he was free, available and could be mine. 

It worked.  I came to my stop, got off and he followed me. 

“Yoga class, Matthew?”

“Yes.  Why not?  I’m intrigued now.” 

We did Yoga together.  Two days and I was in his apartment making love with him. I was a twenty two year old virgin.  It was as wonderful as it was frightening.  I felt so terribly alone and vulnerable and sure of only one thing: I was lost in his maleness.  My lust turned to love and in his own way, he began to love me.  How could any woman leave such a man?

I learned how.  He did not engage.  It was as if he was always in two worlds, one that included me, an exciting convenience, a fun thing, a trophy girl, and another that no one would ever be allowed in.  I would have left him after that first week but my body would not let me.  I could not imagine ever encountering him when he wasn’t mine.  I was addicted to him, to his body, to his hands, to his voice and breath.  He exuded a kind of brutal magic I was powerless to break. 

Which brings me back to our dinner date at Michael’s where I had intended to confront his coldness.  It wasn’t going to happen, I already knew before I got there.  I was still taken, and I would remain taken unless his coldness became misogynistic.  I would never tolerate that, not ever.  Somehow, again that intuition, I knew he would never turn on me.

I would live my life with him and take care of him as he got older. 

I can imagine cutting his graying hair, trimming his eyebrows and ear hairs.  I can imagine even more personal caring.  Though he is a much better cook than I, I can also imagine the time when I’ll have to do it for him.  By then of course I will have learned to make his favourite dishes.  I can imagine my love for him growing in his cold soil.  I am that kind of seed that does best in a winter soil.  And I have a heart that needs to give.  He would fulfill that need for me.  With him I can imagine the unimaginable and thrill at the thoughts.  

I got lucky, there is no denying that, but perhaps he got even luckier. 

 

My Golden Boy

(*** for Vidhika at “The Grateful Dead” blog***)
   [a Short Story – by Sha’Tara]

It had all happened so fast.  Maybe because everything spoke of perfection, a dovetailing of events that happen only in fairy tales.  It was my fairy tale.  That perfect Summer.
 
I probably better go back a bit and explain.  Our family, that is my mom, my dad and me, well, we were what is called dysfunctional.  My dad is an alcoholic and an abuser.  Even as I write this, and admit it to myself I cringe inside.  I can still see him come into my room those nights when mom worked the night shift at the hospital.  I can still smell his breath and feel his hands on me as he tugged at my nightgown while I tried to hold on to it, curling up and crying, begging him to leave me alone.  But every time I had to let him or get beaten.  If I got beaten I lied to mom about the bruises.  I was so sure all of this was my fault and if she found out she’d hate me or beat me up and maybe send me away to a foster home or something.
 
But then he beat her too and she fought back.  She’s a nurse and you could say she’s pretty tough.  She kicked him out of our lives finally, divorced him with an injunction against him not to contact us.  He tried it once.  He went to jail.  I don’t know where he is now and hope I never find out.  I’m still afraid of him; afraid he’ll show up one day, even though I’m now living on my own.
 
After the divorce things got better for mom and I.  I told her then what dad had done to me and we became, well, more like two women who share their pain in understanding rather than mother and daughter.  You will say, she should have known, but I think she didn’t want to face it then.  I was only fifteen then but my life had made me mature in some ways, though in others I trailed behind.  In school I did well and I had a dream to become a doctor. 
 
Mom had saved up some money and some vacation time and after I turned sixteen she decided to spend a whole month in a cabin at a popular lake near the mountains.  Kind of a birthday gift for you, she said.  We took only what we could pack and took the bus to Chanesville, then a smaller tour bus to the resort on lake Chitsaw.  Our cabin was back in the trees, a bit old and moldy smelling at first, but it was far enough we didn’t have to hear the jetskis and power boats that continually tore up the waterfront.
 
The beach was perfect.  Golden sand under a golden sun.  I tan easily and within a couple of days I felt pretty good walking around in one of my two bikinis.  I had a blue and a pink one and sometimes I mixed the colours.  Within a week I knew almost everybody and had a couple of girl friends from my school.
 
I saw him during the second week and I fell in love.  No, not just infatuated, but deeply and madly in love.  It was as if he had materialized from inside my dreams.  Tall, handsome, beautiful of face with shoulder-length blond hair.  I wasn’t the only one who noticed him, of course, and soon he was the talk of our circle.  We dared each other to go over and talk to him.  Sometimes he walked alone along the shore and it seemed to me that the sand became even more golden after he touched it. 
 
I decided I’d risk it and waited until he took one of his walks by himself and walked to the water in an intersecting path.  When he was within a couple of yards from me I bent over pretending to be inspecting something in the sand.  He came over and asked what I was looking at.  I lied and said I thought I’d seen a green bug burrowing in.  He laughed.  Introduced himself: Dean.  I did likewise: Shauna.  We walked together.  I, lost in a lucid dream.  He, probably looking me over as men do.  It often made me uncomfortable but with him, well, I would have danced naked for him if he’d asked me!
 
D’you have someone?  No I said.  Neither do I.  There’s a party at our cabin tomorrow evening.  I’ll come by your place and escort you, if you want to come.  Sure I said.  It’s number forty-three, up there in the trees.  Yeah, I know, he said.  I’ve watched you before and I followed you yesterday. 
 
Well, with that my feelings went off the chart.  The rest is just too predictable, right out of a bad novel.  He came to our cabin and I introduced him to mom.  She didn’t take to him the way I’d expected.  She took me into her room and closed the door.  You watch yourself, Shauna, she said.  This boy makes me uncomfortable.  Maybe it’s just me, being your mom and seeing you go out on a date like that.  Promise you’ll be home by midnight and that you won’t walk back alone?
 
Yes mom, yes.  Promises are easy to make when your mind, your heart, your whole being is somewhere else.  Walking with Dean was like floating in the air.  Everything was wonderful, beautiful.  The stars were brighter than usual.  The air was cleaner, sweeter.  The party was great.  When most of the people had wandered off, the kids to “midnight swims” and the adults back to their own places, I found myself practically alone with Dean.  Come upstairs, I’ll show you my room, he said.  I felt a twinge of something – a warning?  Mom’s words tried to make me stop.  But I couldn’t.  He was my golden lover. 
 
Yeah, we made love.  Wildly, passionately.  He had experience.  He drove me crazy.  I lost myself in him and finally fell asleep in his arms.  He woke me up just before midnight, reminding me of my promise to my mother to be home by then.  We got dressed and he walked me home.  I was still in that mood you get when you walk out of a movie theatre when the romance has triumphed.  Dizzy with love.
 
I spent most of the rest of that vacation with Dean.  Inseparable, we were.  Afterwards, we talked every night on the phone.  It was long distance but mostly he made the calls so it didn’t cost me much.  Then I missed my period.  I knew I was pregnant.  I couldn’t tell mom and didn’t know what to do.  So stupid.  I just forgot the damned pills.  Just figured it couldn’t happen until Dean and I were married, or living together, you know?  I told Dean.  Dead silence on the other end of the phone.  Dean?  Yeah, well, you going to get an abortion, aren’t you?  They’re not legal here and I can’t tell mom.  What do we do?  I asked stupidly.  I don’t think it’s a question of what we do, babe.  It’s not really my problem, is it.  You have to get an abortion.
 
I must have passed out.  When I came to, the phone was talking to me.  I hung up and tried to wake up from a nightmare.  But it was like before with dad.  It was no nightmare.  Real.  This was real.  Dean dumped me.  Then mom noticed and after much crying, I told her.  She was real mad at first, said I should have told her and she could have made the arrangement.  Stupid, you’re so stupid.  Now it’s too late.  What are your plans?  She asked.  My plans?  I don’t have any plans!  Dean and I were going to move in together eventually, get married.  Now I’m alone again, just like when you worked the night shift and dad molested me.  What can I do mom? 
 
You have to give my mom credit.  She didn’t stay mad, or in blame, or denial.  She asked me, what has life taught you so far when you have a problem?  And I told her, I have to find my own solution to it.  It’s my problem and I must deal with it.  And I want my baby I said suddenly with a new kind of passion I’d never had before. 
 
I continued in school until it got too embarrassing.  Took correspondence courses put together for girls in my situation.  Mom supported me.  She attended when I had my baby.  At first, well, he was just a typical shriveled up little thing with a loud mouth.  But as he grew I saw the spitting image of Dean in him.  He is my golden boy and I love him.  He’s the legacy of my lost pleasure and happiness as a stupid young girl and he’s my joy now, my life. 
 
I’m nineteen now, soon I’ll be twenty and Shane is three.  I moved away from home last year, just to be alone with my son.  It feels right to do this by myself and for him to know who his real mother is.  Mom was spending too much time with him thinking I needed time to myself.  I don’t need that much.  I like my work – I work in a hair dressing shop where they train you.  I like working with people and pleasing them with the right words, the right touch and of course, the right hairstyle.  We live in a basement bachelor suite in a run-down old quadplex but it’s a good place.  The owners live upstairs; an old Jewish couple who adore Shane.  They baby-sit for me, most of the time for nothing.  What can I say more?  My life and my world are good.
 
The other day as I was getting on the bus I noticed a stretch limo stopping on the other side of the street by a Starbucks.  I smiled – I always do at those ostentatious ugly vehicles that have only one message for the rest of us: Hey look at me, I’m rich.  Dumb.  Then I saw a man step out as the chauffeur opened the door.  Tall, handsome, blond.  It was Dean.  I know it was.  My heart was pounding in my chest and I had to grab the back of the seat to keep my balance.  I looked again but he was gone and the bus pulled out.  It’s then I realized how good my life really is.  It’s mine.  Dean could have been a part of the wonder we created in our foolishness.  But he chose not to and left the entire fortune in my hands and my heart.
 
When Shane is old enough I’ll let him go and give him his life too.  We make our own way in life; we don’t depend on others or belong to others.  Then life is truly good. 

The Party – a short story

a short story   by Sha’Tara

Call it a day in the life, hey?  OK, a couple of days, whatever.  I drove 300 miles for this. Cancelled plans.  Re-scheduled jobs.    You be the judge whether I was a complete fool, or whether lady luck and Jove were vying to entrap me, set me up, or bless me with something I’d spent over half a life avoiding. 

Approaching, and just as I expected, there’s Lady Ruthledge in full evening regalia leaning casually against the front entrance door frame of her sprawling mansion.  I slow down to negotiate the rather tight curve in the old drive and pull up in front of what was once the garage and chauffeur’s living quarters. Strange to see only two other cars in the vicinity.  Am I that much too early?  As Lady R is certain to remind me, “How gauche, my boy.”

“Well my boy, congratulations.  You’re late by one whole day.”

“Well, good evening to you too, Diane.  Impossible, I’m early actually my dear.  It’s 18:33.  Dinner, said the invitation, is at 21:00, promptly.”

“Ah, the invitation.  Dinner, my dear boy, was last night.  You haven’t changed, have you.”

“Changed?  Am I supposed to have changed?” 

Sardonic smile times two.  Diane and I go back a few years.  No, a few years more than that, thank you.

“What day was the dinner party last year, Sims my boy?”

“Saturday.  Saturday evening.”

“As it was the year before?  And before that, yes?  You can remember that much, can’t you?”

“Yes, yes, of course I can remember.  It was always Saturday.  How well I remember.  Those girls you imported from Paraguay or Taiwan or Bosnia, wherever.  Damn, I sure do remember.”

“Fine, stop remembering so well for a moment and tell me what day this is?”

“Day?  Of the week?  Sunday.”

“Exactly.”

“But the date said, July 6th.”

“Exactly.”

“What do you mean, exactly?  You sent me a date, I came on that date.” 

“You came on a number on a piece of paper?  Weren’t you coming to a party, and aren’t my parties the greatest parties in the county, always?”

“Sure they are.  Oh, sure.  Yes!  Dammit, yes.  Mind, heart and body twisting best.”

“Who in their right mind has parties on a Sunday evening?”

“Ah!”

“Exactly. Well, do come in.  There are leftovers, and I’m sure Letta will rustle up something for you.  Hungry?”

“After driving over 300 miles like a bat out of hell, non-stop?  I’d say so.” 

“Then say so.  I’m afraid all my guests have left, hangovers and new-found loves thankfully gone with them. But who knows, there may be one or two still lingering about in the upstairs rooms or hanging in some closet.  I don’t keep the maids on weekends anymore, what would be the point?”

“The point?  I don’t know.  Sure, what would be the point?”

We enter the dining room to sit at a table that would have made the Knights of the Round Table and King Arthur blush with envy.  Two servings waiting under cover.

“Well, there you are.  Sit.  And dig in, as the plebes say.  I’ll keep you company while you eat.  As I was saying, there may still be a couple of guests about, and perhaps you can help me dig them out.  If they’re back to standing shape, maybe a bit of dancing and singing later?  Some drinking and love making?”

“Ever the master manipulator and tease, Diane.” 

“Exactly.  My specialty. Is the wine to your taste?”

Between mouthfuls.  “The wine?  Excellent.  Of course.”

“Yes of course.” 

So it went, all through dinner.  Just the two of us, Letta having left the room to attend to her kitchen duties.  Just Diane Ruthledge and I.  Talking.  Just small talk.  She sat opposite me, watching me eat, smiling when I let show how much I was enjoying the wine.  Ah, the wine.  I should have remembered the wine.  Well, I did, but I did not want to.  You know what I mean.

“More wine, dear?”

“Dear?  What happened to ‘my boy’ and ‘my boy Shims’?”

Am I slurring words?  Dimples betray a repressed smile.

“How were the veal cutlets?  Still palatable, I hope?”

“Excellent, excellent.  Never tasted any better.” 

I felt very thirsty, so I drank more of her marvelous wine.  Local, she said to me once.  I only serve local wine.  That, I will not import.  I drank local wine, more local wine, and each time I wanted more.  She served more but now I could not tell whence it came.  It just seemed to appear, one bottle, another… then she was sitting next to me. Smiling.  I had the presence of mind to realize I was totally, astonishingly, famously, utterly and irretrievably drunk.  Drunker than Bacchus at his inaugural bacchanal.  On wine of all things.  Past the point of feeling shameful I tried to get up, staggered, sat down, and watched the room begin to rotate, and if I moved my head, it would wobble.  It was the earth spinning in space.  And it wobbled – another scientific theory proved beyond any doubt.  By a computer programmer.  I heard something. 

“Huh?”

“Sims, listen to me.”

A voice talking to me from space; from another planet.  A voice I once knew but cannot place.

“Lisssssssssten toooooo meeeeeeeee!”

Slowing down, down.  Lights going out, candles snuffed, lamps dimmed, extinguished.  Sound of waves washing over shale.  

“Shhhhhhhhh…  Shhhhhhhhh…”

I wake up frightfully late the next morning.  Unfamiliar surroundings, large four poster bed.  Blankets, spreads and sheets twisted as a sea surface caught in a Caribbean typhoon.  Perhaps I’m exaggerating, but don’t blame me for that: you expect it, don’t lie.  And you want more.  You want to know, you know – “What Happened, and What Happens Next” – so predictable.

Slowly I turn my head.  There is the definite indentation of a body having laid beside me.  Who? Couldn’t remember.  There’s a breakfast on the side table.  One look and I’m off to the bathroom.  Thank God for toilet bowls.  After that hellish purge I remember the wine.  Red.  Red everywhere.  Red lips locking onto mine, eternally demanding satisfaction.  Whose lips?  Hips?  And all those other parts coming together in the definite form of a potential woman?  I stagger out of the bathroom to encounter a woman struggling to undo the effects of the typhoon over the bed.

“Er, hmmm…” I hear myself say and suddenly I feel, not pleasantly or lasciviously nude, but vulnerably naked.

“Oh, sorry Mr. Dearborn.  I thought you’d left.  May I help you dress?”

I realize it wasn’t a question after all.  And now she is being very thorough.

“You’ve done this before I gather.”

“Will you turn around please?  I have to tuck your shirt in.”

“Ok, fine.  Have me your way.  This is Monday, yes?”

“No sir, this is Tuesday.” 

“What?”

“Tuesday sir.  This is the day.  The auction is this afternoon.” 

“Auction?”

“I believe Mrs. Ruthledge is waiting for you downstairs.” 

“Thank you, uh…”

“Jane.”

“…Jane.”

At the foot of the stairs:

“Sims dear boy, are you going to grace us with your indulgent presence finally?”

“Come on Diane; I’ve got a splitting headache.  The sun’s too bright.”

“That’s the dining room light dear.  High clouds today, no sun.  But no rain either, I wouldn’t stand for it, not today.  Do you need some refreshments?  A light lunch?”

Again those dimples, the repressed smile.

“Please don’t mention food.  Not now, not today, maybe not ever.  What’s that about an auction?  The maid said something about an auction.”

“Selling the place, dear boy.”

Ah, that I caught.  A difference in her tone.  And an unfamiliar shrug, just a touch of apparent defeat in slightly sloping shoulders.  I hear vehicles approaching.  Diane has a tear, one tiny pearly tear, hanging at the edge of each eye.

“What is this all about Diane?”

“That’s it Sims.  I’m done for.  Broke.  If I’m really lucky today, I’ll break even.  Gone.  Gone with the wind.  Romantic, isn’t it.”

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?  Maybe I could have done something.”

“Make me look like an incompetent, having someone else manage my affairs, Sims?  No, I had to take it to the end, take the plunge all at once.  This is an all or nothing world.  You can’t just go down gradually.  So I threw one last party.  The staff stayed on to help knowing that it was unlikely there’d be any extra money from the auction to pay their salary.  I don’t even know how to say ‘thank you’ to them.  I really don’t.”

And suddenly I saw her.  I saw, not Lady Ruthledge, but Diane.  A pretty, vulnerable petite brunette with waist-length hair brushed straight down.  In a plain, knee-length blue dress and slippers.  Tears running down her face.  And suddenly, just as suddenly, I realized that I loved her.  That I had always loved her.  Not the Princess and Queen of Ruthledge House, but this woman, this… Diane.  I walked up to her and took her in my arms just as her dam of pent-up sadness, of helpless fear, of sorrow and shame to be the one to witness her family’s downfall, broke, shattered. 

I let her cry on my chest as an army of professionals, buyers and onlookers filled the yards and took over the house.  I held her as each member of her staff came over and kissed her goodbye, wiping their own tears.  I held her as I guided her through the grass to my car, opened the door for her and placed her in, fastening her seat belt. 

We’ve been together five years now, married for two of those.  I think she’s getting used to the idea, but who really knows with a Ruthledge?  She’s certainly good to me and I think she loves me, as much as her state of mind will permit.  There’s a piece of her heart missing, a hole that I know I can never fill.  Too much of me is the rescuer—a bad spot to be in, and too much is too completely unlike her.  And I must admit, being of that part of the world, I haven’t given up on other women: they’re still there, as available as ever.  Don’t you love her? You’ll ask, and why don’t you respect her?  And I’ll tell you I do love her, of that there is no doubt.  And I do respect her.  The reason is, she lets me have my way and doesn’t express resentment.  And I let her have her way. 

Any other way and we would be at each other’s throats and we’ve both seen enough hell for one lifetime: that we have in common, if nothing else.