Friday, April 28, 2017


It was a long walk back from the remains of St. Cecelia’s church. Everything looked, felt, overly saturated; the leaves in the trees were greener, the abandoned factory a rustier red...the rainbow of oil droplets more vibrant.

I wasn’t sure how I got to Rainbow River, but I didn’t really mind. The sludge of colors, the mix of greens and blues and purples, nicely complemented the post-storm sky. As I walked farther down the river, I noticed something in the water. Getting closer, I saw it was a body of a woman, her form encircled by a corona of deep red.

Surprisingly, I didn’t react. I just stood there, watching her bob up and down in the water with the slight current. Her mortality - our mortality - became very apparent in that instant. The fleeting nature of life, its gifts and its cruelty, and its inevitable end.

All we have to cushion this uncomfortable truth is the illusion of control.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Entrance Stone

After cleaning myself up, I headed back outside to assess the damage to the town. I knew it had been a horrendous storm, but I hadn’t realized the extent of the damage. Several trees had fallen, criss-crossing the road and squashing people’s cars as if they were made of a soft putty.

A few crowds had gathered around the crushed cars and were attempting to drag the trees off of them. I glanced around and saw my neighbor, Ms. Wilma, staring hopelessly at her small Volkswagen beetle that was practically flattened. No one had gone over to offer her assistance, and there was no way she’d be able to lift the tree herself, especially in her old age.

I hurried over to her. “Ms. Wilma? Could I possibly offer you any assistance?”

“Oh, Lucien. Thank goodness you’re here,” she said in her characteristically frail voice. “I do need your help.” She reached into the pocket of her skirt and pulled out her wallet. “How does $60 sound?”

I extended my hand and gestured for her to put her wallet away. “Thank you, but I can’t take your money.”

She looked at me and smiled, understandingly, but didn’t say anything. I turned my attention to the tree, placing my hands underneath the trunk and lifting from my knees. I struggled with all my might to lift the tree, but couldn’t. I took in a big breath and heaved; my muscles were screaming for oxygen, but still the tree didn’t budge. One more time, I thought. I mustered all of my energy and strength and tried lifting the tree. I was about to pass out when the tree lifted up and flipped off of the car and onto the ground.

Gasping for breath, I looked up to find that Ms. Wilma, her car, and the tree had disappeared. Instead, I found myself sitting in the lone pew that remained from St. Cecelia’s church.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Snap, Crackle, Pop

It sucks not to have a car.

Lucien was leaning against the window of his apartment, gazing at the rain beating relentlessly against the glass, the lightning etching jagged streaks of white against the darkness in his mind.

He was hungry. In fact, the only thing louder than the thunder outside was the thunder inside his belly. He had forgotten to go shopping that week, so there wasn’t any food in the fridge. His only option was going out to eat at a local restaurant.

Except he hated rain. The way it soaks through your clothes, penetrates every pore in your body, and leaves your soul a drippy mess. But he had no choice. He had to eat.

Steeling himself, he plunged into the sea of darkness, cold, wet drops of agony seeping into every fiber of his being. Peering ahead, he caught sight of the dim light emanating from the local diner and began making his way towards it, as if it were a beacon of hope and he a wary traveler.

Once inside the diner, he saw that it was empty. There wasn’t even a waiter to seat him and take his order. He called out several times and was answered with silence. Finally, he heard a rustling in the back and from the kitchen emerged a short, old man wearing a waiter’s garb.

“Sorry for the wait,” the old man said. “The food will be out shortly.”

Before Lucien could form a coherent thought in response to the old man, the doors to the kitchen swung open and plate after plate of food streamed out, carried by faceless figures wearing the same uniform as the old man.

“Dig in!” the old man said cheerfully, staring at Lucien expectantly.

“Uh…thanks,” said Lucien, seating himself at a table and tucking into the piles of food before him.

And eat he did. Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, salads swimming in dressing, chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, fried fish, milkshakes, fries, the whole deal.

As the night dragged on, plates full of food were replaced by empty ones. Yet, Lucien didn’t feel full. He was practically shoveling food into his mouth, but it didn’t feel like it was reaching his stomach.

After a while, he stopped. It didn’t make any sense. How could he be eating so much and not feel full? As he pondered the inexplicability of it all, he felt something welling up from the depths of his belly. It grew larger and stronger until it burst – a rumble of thunder. Suddenly, he understood.

When he opened his eyes, he found himself lying in a crater in the middle of the road. The rain had stopped, and the sky was a pale blue. Sitting up, he saw that a crowd of people had gathered around him, gasping and pointing and whispering amongst themselves.

“What…what happened?” he asked. He couldn’t remember how he ended up in the middle of the street. His mind felt strangely clear, as though it had been wiped clean.

“You got struck by lightning!” piped up one of the onlookers. “And not only that – you survived!”

Lightning. I got struck by lightning. I closed my eyes, trying to absorb this fact.

“I open my eyes, and gaze out again at this brand-new world before me.”

Saturday, January 21, 2017

El Dorado

It was just before the break of dawn, and the streets of the city were completely deserted. Yet, there was Lucien, shuffling around in a drab bathrobe that hung off his thin frame and slippers that scraped at the ground with each step. It had been weeks since his accident, and despite treatment at the hospital, he had yet to gain back the memories he lost. So he resorted to this: walking around the city in a daze, hoping that something - anything - would trigger his memories to come flooding back.

So far, it wasn’t working.

But that didn’t stop him. He had taken a rather circuitous route around the city to get to the graveyard since that’s where all the hospital personnel told him the accident occurred. It was as gloomy today as it was that fateful day, but still, nothing.

Making his way past St. Cecelia’s Church and up Penny Lane, he began to feel the sun’s warmth on his shoulders. Up ahead, he heard the early morning bustle of people and a street peddler calling out the wares he had for sale. As Lucien approached where he had stationed his cart, he felt a wave of nostalgia take over him.


It was on this exact street, in this exact city, on a morning just like this one. He had to have been only 8 years old. And his parents, who had a penchant for early morning walks, were practically dragging him down the street.

“Lucien, pick your feet up! You don’t want to scuff your new shoes!”

Lucien didn’t care. “I just want to go back to sleep,” he whined.

“No, your father must have his early morning walk, God, Lucien, what will it take for you to listen?!”

Lucien’s eyes scanned the ever growing crowd before resting on a man with a cart on the edge of the road, calling out the wares he had for sale. The golden trinkets on the man’s cart glinted in the sunlight and caught Lucien’s eye.

For the first time that morning, Lucien smiled. “I want one of those,” he said, pointing at the trinkets.

His mother snorted. “Oh please, Lucien, if you want something gold we’ll get you something much better than that.”

“No,” he whined. “I want that.”

“Stop it, Lucien,” she huffed, dragging him along again. “We don’t waste money on cheap junk like that. Besides, he’s a good-for-nothing peddler. Do we associate ourselves with people like that, Lucien?”

“No,” Lucien whispered quietly, his head bowed in surrender. As they walked further down the street, the peddler disappeared into the crowd.


“Sir? Sir, are you okay?”

“Huh? What?” Lucien blinked several times and looked up. The peddler was standing in front of him, peering at him worriedly.

“You zoned out for a second, sir. Just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Lucien grunted, his mind still swimming with what he just remembered. The peddler, satisfied with that answer, started walking back to his cart.

“Wait!” Lucien cried. The peddler turned and paused, looking at him with mild surprise.

He hesitated, before asking, “Can I buy a trinket?”

The peddler smiled. “Sure thing.”

For the first time that morning, Lucien smiled.