Short Story: Reads in the Light

This is a piece of short fiction in the style and universe of three of my novels: Becomes the Happy Man, Becomes God’s Silent Prophet, and Becomes the Meaning Blossom.

burning-candleReads in the Light

The man turned on the light.

The man turned on the light, but the light did not turn on. The light did not turn on because the light no longer worked. The light no longer worked because the place where the man lived had lost power. The place where the man lived had lost power, but the man did not know why. The man tried to turn on the light again, but it did not turn on.

The man did not know why the place where he lived had lost power, but it did not matter whether he knew why. All that mattered was that the man could not turn on the light.

The man had wanted to turn on the light because he had wanted to read. The man still wanted to read. The man could not read in the dark, so he needed to find another light.

The man found another light. The man found a candle in a box. But the man could not find a source of fire to light the candle.

The candle was long and thin. The man touched the wick at the end of the candle and tried to think about how to light the wick. The man succeeded in thinking about how to light the wick, but he still did not know how to light the wick. So the man continued to think about it.

The man continued to think about how to light the wick of the candle so he could read in the darkness. The man continued to think until he thought of a possibility.

The man went outside.

The man entered the darkness outside the place where he lived. Outside the dark place where he lived. The dark place where he lived in darkness. The man entered the darkness outside and looked up at the starless sky.

The starless sky was empty. It was not the first time the man had looked into an empty, starless sky. The man did not even try to think why the stars had lost power. If he had thought about it, perhaps he would have concluded that the stars had lost power for the same reason that the place where he lived had lost power. He would have been wrong had he drawn such a conclusion, but he did not draw such a conclusion because he did not even try to think about it. The man only thought about finding a source of fire to light the candle so he could read.

The man walked through the darkness under the starless sky and found his way to the small building where he stored his tools.

The man entered the small building and turned on the light. The light did not turn on. The small building where the man stored his tools had also lost power.

The man tried to think about how he could light the small building where he stored his tools so he could find a source of fire to light the candle in the place where he lived so he could read in the darkness.

The man carefully moved around inside the small building where he stored his tools. The small dark building. He was glad he always kept his tools well-organized in the small building because he found his way around the inside of the small dark building without stumbling over tools and without hitting his shins on objects that cluttered the floor. Objects that did not clutter the floor because the man kept his tools and his objects well-organized in the small building.

The man stopped in the middle of the small building and closed his eyes. He did not need to close his eyes because the darkness inside the small building was just as dark as the darkness the man saw when he closed his eyes. But the man always thought better when he closed his eyes. He always could make a mental model better when he closed his eyes. So the man closed his eyes and made a mental model of the inside of the small dark building where he stored his tools.

And the man found in his mental model the place where he stored the sources of fire to light candles. He did not keep the sources of fire to light candles but rather to light the fire outside where he sometimes cooked meat. The fire that started as a small fire and then grew into a large fire then died into coals over which he cooked his meat. He usually cooked such meat in the space between the place where he lived and the small dark building where he stored his tools, but sometimes he made such a fire in the forest when he went into the forest to spend the night.

The man found the place in his mental model where he stored the sources of fire in the small building to light the fire over which he cooked his meat. The man opened his eyes and went to the place in the small dark building that matched the place in his mental model where he stored his sources of fire. And in the place that matched the place, the man found the sources of fire. The sources of fire that he usually used to start the fire over which he cooked his meat, but with which he could also light the wick of the candle so he could read in the darkness.

The man took one source of fire and turned it on. But that source of fire did not turn on. The man wondered if the sources of fire that he stored in the small dark building where he stored his tools had also lost power. Then the man thought that was impossible. The only way he could think such sources of fire could lose power was if they were wet. These sources of fire were dry. So the man thought perhaps only the first source of fire had lost power, and he tried to turn on a second source of fire. And that second source of fire turned on. It turned on brightly, then dimmed to a stable light from a steady flame. Then the man turned off that source of fire and he took the container of the sources of fire out of the small dark building where he stored his tools. He took the container into the darkness outside under the starless sky. He passed the place where he sometimes made a fire to cook his meat, and the man entered the place where he lived.

The man entered the place where he lived, and he turned on the light. The man turned on the light out of habit. And the light turned on. Perhaps it turned on out of habit, but more likely it turned on because the place where the man lived had found its power.

The man entered the darkness outside once more and did not notice that the sky was still starless. Had he noticed that the power to the stars was still lost while the power to the place where he lived had been found, he would have concluded—correctly—that the stars and the place where he lived had different sources of power.

The man entered the small building where he stored his tools, and he turned on the light. The light turned on. The power in the small no-longer-dark building where he stored his tools had been found too.

The man put away the container of the sources of fire, but he put a few sources of fire in a smaller container to take into the place where he lived so he would have them at hand in case the place where he lived lost its power again when it was dark and the man wanted to read.

The man turned off the light in the small building where he stored his tools. He turned off the light, and the light turned off.

The man entered the darkness under the starless sky and crossed the space between the small building where he stored his tools and the place where he lived.

The man entered the place where he lived and he turned off the light. The man turned off the light, and the light turned off.

The man turned on a source of fire, and the source of fire turned on.

The man touched the small source of fire to the wick of the candle, and the wick caught fire. The candle lit the place where the man lived.

The man turned off the source of fire, but the candle continued to light the room. The man took the candle into the room where he usually read.

The man placed the candle on a table next to the place where he usually read.

And the man read in the darkness. In the light.

The End

Try Becomes the Happy Man, Becomes God’s Silent Prophet, and Becomes the Meaning Blossom.

My Latest Novel Just Released

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Becomes the Meaning Blossom is the third book in the Becomes the Happy Man series. As in Becomes the Happy Man and Becomes God’s Silent Prophet, the man, the young man, and the boy lead interrelated stories.

The man returns to the neutral land where as a young man he had fought in the war and was wounded and recovered from his wounds but did not fall in love. He returns to the neutral land as a man to fall in love. And he does.

The young man journeys to the big city of his homeland to find what the big city holds for him. He commits himself to living in the big city for one year. And he does.

The boy moves with his mother to a sparsely populated area of his homeland so his mother can get treatment for her addictions. Just as the boy gets adjusted to his new life among the mountains and deep forests of his homeland, a young man from the big city arrives for treatment. The young man from the big city causes problems that only the boy can solve. And he does.

Read the first chapter here: Becomes the Meaning Blossom Chapter 1

New Book of Excellent Short Stories

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In this collection of short stories, Mallery (no relation) spins eleven yarns of historical fiction, each featuring an aspect of hand crafts. Sewing, quilting, weaving, embroidery, macrame, and hand-made Native American sacred dolls all play prominent roles in these stories.

Just as with the author’s novel, Unexpected Gifts, the prose is vibrant and the history well-researched. The stories cover such settings as England during the Crusades, the Salem witch trials and a curse that lingers to the present, a slave’s escape on the underground railroad, a pioneer family in the Washington Territory, a young immigrant woman working in the New York Garment District in 1911, a boarding house in Nazi Germany before WWII, a Zodiac killer copycat in San Francisco in the late sixties. Present day stories include love triumphing over class conflict in Manhattan, a well-meaning doctor helping poor children in Guatemala who unwittingly gets caught up in the drug trade, a police detective sent on a forced leave on a cruise ship who finds a murder and a sidekick eager to help her solve the crime, and an investigative reporter who visits the Hopi Indian Reservation to resolve a miscarriage of justice.

This book is not only a survey of history and the art of hand crafts, but it is also a survey of the human spirit and how it responds to conflict, tragedy, and daunting situations.

I highly recommend this book.

New Book: Brother Found

This is my latest publication. A simple little crime story.

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Danny Meeks is four months away from paying off the heavy debts he acquired remodelling an investment property when the financial crisis hit. He expects to move his pregnant wife and step-son out of their trailer and into a house by the time his wife delivers Danny’s first child.

But all these dreams are threatened when Danny’s long-lost brother, Joey, arrives with a large bag of cash seeking sanctuary after a botched bank robbery.

Joey brings information that might lead them to their deceased father’s lost fortune–or it might lead them into more trouble than they ever dreamed as law enforcement agents and Joey’s criminal confederates close in.

Danny yields to his family heritage of thievery to protect his brother and preserve his dreams against adverse circumstances.

Danny knows all such actions come with a price. He’s not sure just what the price will be, but he is about to find out.

Short Story: Picks a Yellow Flower

This is a piece of short fiction in the style and universe of two of my novels: Becomes the Happy Man, Becomes God’s Silent Prophet, and Becomes the Meaning Blossom.

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Picks a Yellow Flower

The man picked a flower.

The man stood on the road and picked a flower. The flower was a yellow flower. A yellow flower that grew alone along the side of the road. Grew alone along the side of the road opposite the side of the road where a large patch of yellow flowers grew together.

The man picked the flower, the yellow flower.

The man examined the yellow flower. It was still yellow after he picked it.

The man tried to remember the last time he had picked a yellow flower. He tried to remember the last time he had picked a flower at all. But he could not remember.

The man held the yellow flower by the brown stem and thought about his wife. The man thought about his wife who had been the other beautiful woman but had become his wife long ago. He thought about his wife, and he tried to think how much she would like to have a fresh-picked, wild, yellow flower from him and not the standard bunches of red flowers he sometimes gave her on special occasions.

The man thought about how much his wife would like to receive a flower—any color flower—for no special reason. No special occasion. No special occasion other than wanting to share his love for her through the gift of this yellow flower. This yellow flower with the brown stem. This yellow flower that had grown alone along the side of the road opposite the side of the road where all the other yellow flowers grew together.

The man walked down the road. The man walked down the road past other flowers. Red flowers. Blue flowers. Other yellow flowers. Green flowers. Red flowers with green stems. Blue flowers with orange stems. Yellow flowers with purple stems. The green flowers all had green stems. The man saw no more yellow flowers with brown stems.

The man wondered how long flower season would last there in the land to the north, the land of snow and ice. The man could not imagine the flower season lasting very long. The first autumn snowfall had already come and gone, but the flowers still grew along the roads as brilliantly as they had earlier in the year.

The man was grateful for the return of good weather. The sun shone as warmly as in the summer, and the dust of the road coated his sandals. But the snow would return soon and return for the rest of the year and well into the next.

The man held the flower, the yellow flower, and he counted its petals. He counted twenty-one. He calculated whether that would mean she loved him or loved him not. And then he realized it all depended on which one he started with. And then he remembered it did not matter which one he started with because he had never been very good at playing she loves me she loves me not with flowers because he always missed at least one or two petals along the way, and that was enough to defeat any kind of arithmetic guarantee for the answer he wanted.

So the man played she loves me she loves me not with the flower, the yellow flower. But he did not play it by plucking petals. He did not like dismembering flowers—especially yellow flowers—so he touched each petal without plucking, and he alternated she loves me and she loves me not. He started with she loves me, and he ended with she loves me. He knew that he had skipped one or three, maybe five but probably not seven or more. He realized then why people pluck the petals when they play she loves me she loves me not. It would be harder to skip a petal; or rather, it would be easier to see when he skipped a petal if he plucked rather than pointed at each petal. But the man knew he was just as likely to mix up the count if he plucked instead of pointed at each petal, and being reluctant to dismember any flower—and especially a yellow flower—the man played again by pointing at the petals rather than plucking them.

The man started with she loves me not and ended with she loves me.

The man was not sure if he had skipped two or four, but probably not six or more. Maybe he had not skipped any. He had no way to verify his own count.

The man realized he might have miscounted the petals to begin with, so he counted again and found twenty-one again. He repeated his count and came up with twenty-one yet again. The man was confident the flower had twenty-one petals.

The man played again. He started with she loves me and ended with she loves me.

The man began to wonder if the flower, the yellow flower, might be telling him something about how his wife felt about him.

Then the man wondered if he was somehow telling himself something about how his wife felt about him.

Then the man decided no one and nothing was telling him anything about what anyone felt about him. He was simply playing a child’s game and contemplating frivolous ideas as he walked down the dusty road surrounded by colorful flowers in the warm summer-like air of early autumn in the land to the north, the land of snow and ice.

The man played again and again, but each time, no matter how he started, he ended on she loves me. He wanted to play until he came up with she loves me not, but by then the sun was setting and he realized that his walk might end before he came up with she loves me not.

So the man picked a weed that grew among a patch of blue flowers with orange stems, and he played by plucking the petal-like appendages of the weed. He had no problem plucking weeds. He ended with she loves me not. But he immediately dismissed this as a statement about the weed, not about him, and certainly not about his wife or how she felt about him.

So the man continued to walk down the road, the dusty road, with the flower, the yellow flower.

The man wondered how long the flower would last in a container of water in the place where the man and his wife ate their food. That was the place where his wife liked to keep the red flowers that the man gave her on special occasions. The man knew his wife would keep the flower, the yellow flower, in the same container, in the same place, even though it was not a special occasion. The man hoped the flower would last longer in the container of water in the place where the man and his wife ate their food than it would have lasted by the side of the road with the long, cold, winter weather coming soon.

The man smelled the flower. He smelled the yellow flower. The man smelled the yellow flower and found that it smelled the same as all the flowers he had ever smelled. The man thought something was wrong with him for not being able to distinguish smells from different flowers.

As the sky darkened, a law enforcer approached the man. A law enforcer approached the man along the long, dusty road. The law enforcer overtook the man and made him stop.

The man held up the flower, the yellow flower, and he showed it to the law enforcer. The man said it was a flower.

The law enforcer said it was a nice flower.

The man said he had picked it where it grew alone along the road about two hours ago. The man asked if it was against the law to pick flowers along the road in the land to the north, the land of snow and ice.

The law enforcer said only on private property.

The man asked if it had been on private property.

The law enforcer said she did not know. She asked how she could know. She said she hadn’t been there.

The man asked why the law enforcer had stopped him then.

The law enforcer said because his wife was worried about him. She was worried about him and his long walks in the land to the north, the land of snow and ice.

The man asked why she would be worried about that. He said he had never had problems before on his long walks in the land to the north, the land of snow and ice.

The law enforcer said because it was cold and icy and winter had set in long ago, and the man was dressed for summer.

The man said he could work hard all day in any weather, and he said he could walk hard all day in any weather.

The law enforcer said the man and his wife had fought and the man and his wife had both said hard things they probably regretted.

The man did not say anything.

The law enforcer asked the man where he was walking to anyway.

The man said he did not know, he said he was just walking.

The law enforcer said the man’s wife missed him and she had said it was time to put the past behind them and she wanted him to come home now.

The man asked the law enforcer if she thought his wife would like the flower.

The law enforcer said very much.

The man asked if she was sure it was okay for him to go home.

The law enforcer said yes.

The man asked how she knew.

The law enforcer said the man’s wife had said she loved him.

The man rode with the law enforcer all the way back to the place where he lived with his wife in the land to the north, the land of snow and ice. His wife who had been the other beautiful woman but was now his wife, although she was still a beautiful woman. The man rode with the law enforcer through the snow and ice and through the cold land devoid of any color. He rode with the law enforcer back to the place where he lived with his wife.

The yellow flower no longer existed.

The man thought about his wife, and before they arrived at the place where he lived with his wife, the man told the law enforcer she loves me.

 

The End

Try Becomes the Happy Man, Becomes God’s Silent Prophet, and Becomes the Meaning Blossom.

Just Released: Becomes God’s Silent Prophet

I’m pleased to announce the publication of my third novel. It is the follow-up to my first novel, BECOMES THE HAPPY MAN.

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In BECOMES GOD’S SILENT PROPHET, the man wakes up to find things are slightly different than they were in BECOMES THE HAPPY MAN. Those differences inspire the man to take a journey to find God.

What is God? Why is the idea of God universal to the human experience while the particular expressions of God are so diverse in human culture? What does the distinction between a universal and a diverse God mean for a person’s belief in God? How does that belief change the way a person relates to other people? These are the questions for which the man seeks answers.

As in BECOMES THE HAPPY MAN, the man as a young man and the man as a boy also make appearances.

The young man contemplates his experiences in the gathering of believers for the celebration of the supreme being, and he also learns to relate to one of the girls who lives and works in the house where the old woman lived before she died.

The boy falls asleep and finds himself on a spaceship with an important task as dictated by someone claiming to be God. His arrival on a distant planet, and the completion of his task bring a surprise that not even the boy as a man could have anticipated.

Read Chapter 1

Book Review: Unexpected Gifts

sonia

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www.srmallery.com

S.R. Mallery (no relation) has written a fascinating novel about Sonia, a young woman struggling to break the cycle of bad choices that have run in her family. As a college psychology student, Sonia is actively involved in her psych study group where she explores her OCD behavior and where her study partner, Harry, frequently causes her to examine her relationship with her erratic and neglectful boyfriend. Sonia’s boyfriend is the front-man in a rising rock band, and the band’s growth in popularity creates drama that complicates Sonia’s life.

Sonia finds solace in the contents of a trunk in her parents’ attic. Keepsakes from the Sixties tell the story of her parents’ early marriage and her father’s experience in Vietnam, and journals from her ancestors give Sonia a new perspective on her personal history.

Interwoven with Sonia’s narrative are first-person narratives of Sonia’s ancestors going back four generations to the beginning of the twentieth century. Effectively, the collected narratives of Sonia’s family history parallels U.S. history over the whole of the twentieth century. Her family is involved in the women’s suffrage movement, the sinking of the Titanic, the rise of the assembly line, building of the Empire State Building and the Great Depression. World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. The Civil Rights movement and the cultural revolution of the Sixties.

Through her understanding of where she came from, Sonia gains the insight and courage to confront her present challenges.

Highly recommend!