Becomes One Hundred Stories #6: Smiles Big Smiles

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.

mouthSmiles Big Smiles

The boy almost smiled. The boy rarely smiled, but when his did smile, it was usually an almost smile.

The boy saw the girl’s friend and he almost smiled. The boy could not help himself because the girl’s friend smiled a big smile at him.

The boy did not know why the girl’s friend smiled a big smile at him. That was why he only almost smiled. He was confused.

The girl’s friend had never smiled at him before. Never smiled a smile, and never smiled a big smile. So when the girl’s friend smiled a big smile, the boy was confused, and he only almost smiled.

The girl’s friend had returned to the school, and the boy had not left the school. The boy had remained to finish his schoolwork that the teacher sent the children to work on at home. The boy found it better to do his work for home while he was still at school. And while he worked on his work for home at school, the girl’s friend returned to the school and smiled a big smile at him.

The boy tried to ignore the girl’s friend. He continued his work, but he could feel the girl’s friend smiling a big smile at him even when he did not look at her.

So the boy asked the girl’s friend why she smiled at him. Why she smiled the big smile at him.
The girl’s friend said she had a secret. The girl’s friend stood at the entrance to the room but she did not enter. She said she had a secret.

The boy sat on the other side of the room and listened to the girl’s friend tell him she had a secret.
The boy looked at the front of the room. He looked at the place where the teacher sat. The place where the teacher sat when the teacher was in the room, but where the teacher did not sit because the teacher was not in the room at that moment. That moment when the boy looked away from the girl’s friend who had told him she had a secret. Had told him with a big smile that she had a big secret.

The boy asked the girl’s friend why she had told him she had a secret.

The girl’s friend said it was about her friend the girl and wasn’t the boy interested in hearing her secret.

The boy said he was not interested, and he tried to ignore the girl’s friend, and he tried to continue his work.

The girl’s friend said everyone likes to hear a secret.

The boy said he wasn’t everyone. He said if she told him her secret, then it wouldn’t be a secret anymore.

The girl’s friend said she had already told the secret to the girl’s brother and the other boy, so it wouldn’t hurt if she told the boy too.

The boy wrote something on a piece of paper. The boy wrote something on a piece of paper, but he did not give it to the girl’s friend as she had expected. The boy had written some part of his school work, not a note for the girl’s friend. The girl’s friend liked to pass notes, and it looked to her as though the boy was writing a note after she told him she would tell him the secret. But the boy took too long if he was just writing a note.

The girl’s friend still stood at the entrance to the room and asked the boy what he was writing.

The boy said he was writing his lesson. He said he was doing his school work. His school work for home.

The girl’s friend asked the boy why he was working on his school work for home when he was still at school. She said she never did her school work for home while she was at school. She laughed and said she seldom did her school work for home at home either. The girl’s friend smiled when she laughed and she smiled a big smile.

The boy asked if that was her secret.

The girl’s friend entered the room. She entered the room and said it was not a secret. She said everyone knew she seldom did her school work for home.

The boy said he was not everyone.

The girl’s friend said the boy knew it now, though, so that made him part of everyone who knew that she seldom did her school work for home.

The boy said he did not know. He said the girl’s friend had just told him, but she could just be telling him that to make herself sound interesting. The boy said he knew a few boys who always bragged about never doing their school work at home, but they always had good grades, and they always did their work even though they said they didn’t.

The girl’s friend sat in the seat in front of the boy. She pouted her lower lip at him. She told him he wasn’t much fun was he.

The boy said it wasn’t the first time someone told him that.

The girl’s friend said well, and then she flipped her hair, and then she said she could see no reason why the girl liked the boy. No reason at all. And the girl’s friend looked at him out of the corner of her eyes, and she waited for the boy’s reaction.

The boy did not react. The boy did not react to the girl’s friend except to look down and continue his school work for home.

The girl’s friend slapped her hand on his paper. She slapped her hand on the boy’s paper and said that was the secret.

The boy said that was no secret. He said everyone knew the girl liked the boy—for that week anyway—and even the boy knew it even though he was seldom part of everyone.

The girl’s friend asked the boy where he heard it. She asked him who told him the secret.

The boy said he could see it in the way the girl smiled at him, and he said the girl’s other friend had said something about it earlier in the day.

The girl’s friend said what did she say. The girl’s friend faked a look of panic and said what did she say.

The boy said he forgot. He said he forgot the exact words, but it was pretty close to what the girl’s friend had just told him.

The girl’s friend said she had wanted to be the one to tell the boy the secret.

The boy continued writing on his paper.

The girl’s friend stared at the front of the room. She stared at the place where the teacher sat when the teacher was in the room. The teacher was still not in the room.

Then the girl’s friend smiled her big smile again and asked the boy if he had kissed her.

The boy said who.

The girl’s friend said the girl of course, and she said who else could she have meant.

The boy said of course he had not kissed her.

The girl’s friend asked if he would kiss her. Not the girl, but the girl’s friend. She wanted a kiss for herself.

The boy said he thought the girl’s friend was a friend of the girl.

The girl’s friend said if he wasn’t going to kiss her (the girl) then maybe he would kiss her (the girl’s friend).

The boy said okay.

The girl’s friend was surprised that the strange boy who didn’t like anyone had agreed to kiss her.

The boy kissed the girl’s friend.

The girl’s friend blushed afterward. She blushed and said she had another secret. This time she did not wait for him to tell her he didn’t want to know her secret. She just told him. She told him that was her first kiss.

The boy just nodded.

The girl’s friend frowned and said didn’t that make it special.

The boy said it was a nice kiss.

The girl’s friend stood up and said at least she had a secret now that she could tell everyone. She said she could not wait to tell everyone that she had gotten the boy’s first kiss.

This time the boy smiled fully. He smiled and he laughed.

The girl’s friend asked the boy why he laughed at her.

The boy said it had not been his first kiss.

The girl’s friend said that was impossible. She asked who the boy had ever kissed before.

The boy said it was none of her business, but he would tell her the most recent. The most recent kiss had been with the girl’s other friend earlier in the day when she had tried to tell him the secret that even at that time was not a secret.

The girl’s friend left the room.

The boy finished his school work for home, and then he walked to the place where he lived with his mother before the man the boy was to call father appeared. And while he walked, he thought about all three kisses he had had that day, and he wondered how many more friends the girl might have who could not wait to tell him the secret that was not a secret.

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

Becomes One Hundred Stories #5: Climbs a Distant Mountain

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.

Climbs a Distant Mountain

The young man went for a walk.

The young man left the place where he lived in the loft of the place where he stored food for the beasts in the enclosure outside, and he went for a walk to the mountains. The mountains of his homeland. The young man went for a walk from the place where he lived to the mountains of his homeland. And it was a long walk.

The young man walked across farmland, across meadows, along rivers, and through forests. The young man slept at night and walked during the day.

The girl in the pink dress had recently left the young man’s homeland to marry her man in the neutral land where the young man would one day fight in the war and become wounded and recover from his wounds, but where he would not fall in love.

The young man missed the girl in the pink dress, although he did not want to admit it.

The young man arrived at the mountains of his homeland after four days of walking. After four days of walking and three nights of sleeping.

The young man arrived at the mountains of his homeland and he began climbing one of the mountains of his homeland. The young man climbed the mountain until it was too dark to climb, and then the young man slept through the night.

The young man dreamed of the girl in the pink dress. The young man dreamed his normal dream about the girl in the pink dress, but this time the young man also dreamed that the young woman was with them.

The young man woke from his dream in the early morning before sunrise. The young man woke from his dream and wondered why the young woman had appeared. The young man had no special feelings at that time for the young woman.

The young man ate some of the food he had brought with him for his morning meal, and he sat on the side of the mountain and waited for the sun to rise.

The sun rose.

The sun rose, but before the sun peeked over the horizon, it already lit the sky. The sun already lit the sky and the earth and the mountain. The sun already lit the mountain, and the young man had already resumed climbing the mountain by the time the sun peeked over the horizon.

The young man climbed to the top of the mountain. He arrived at the top of the mountain at midday. The young man sat at the top of the mountain and he ate his noon meal. He ate his noon meal from some food he had brought with him.

The young man thought about the third girl. The third girl who still lived and worked in the place where the old woman had lived before she died. The third girl who had asked the young man when he was a boy what he was doing with the container of strong drink before he had used it to take care of a difficult problem. The young man did not think about the container of strong drink or about the difficult problem he had solved when he was younger. The young man only thought about the girl. The third girl. The third girl who still lived and worked in the place where the other girls lived and worked after all those years had passed.

The young man had met the third girl the morning he left for his walk to the mountains of his homeland. The young man had met the third girl in the place where the girls and the young man prepared food. In the place where the young man usually was the only one who prepared food but where he usually prepared enough food for himself and the girls.

The third girl had said she missed the girl in the pink dress.

The young man had not replied. He had continued preparing his food for his long walk.

The third girl asked if the young man missed the girl in the pink dress.

The young man said he didn’t think much about it, and he continued preparing his food for his long walk.

The third girl said she wanted the young man to know he could have her any time he wanted.

The young man said he didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but he didn’t want to have any of the girls who lived and worked in the place where the girls lived and worked. The place where the old woman had lived before she died.

The third girl said didn’t he like her.

The young man said yes, but not in the way she meant.

The third girl said to pay no attention to her. She said she just missed the girl in the pink dress.

The young man left extra food for the third girl, and he said she could share it with the other girls.

The third girl said she would share it, and she thanked the young man for the food.

The young man approached the door and the third girl tried to kiss him. She landed an awkward kiss on his cheek as he shied away from her sudden movement.

The young man apologized, and he kissed the girl on the forehead, and he said he didn’t feel that way. He gave the third girl a tepid hug and he left.

The young man had always been awkward around girls. Except in his dream. His dream with the girl in the pink dress. The dream with the girl in the pink dress and this new version of the dream with the young woman joining him and the girl in the pink dress.

The young man looked out at his homeland from the top of the mountain, and he forgot about the third girl. He mostly forgot about the girl in the pink dress. But he did not forget about the young woman. The young man thought about the young woman from the top of the mountain, and he could see the sea from the top of the mountain. He could see the sea, but he could not see the islands beyond the horizon of his homeland that he would one day swim to. The islands were even beyond the horizon as seen from the top of his homeland’s mountains.

The young man saw the sea, but he could not see the beach where he would one day meet the young woman and arouse the temper of the other young man before swimming to the islands beyond the horizon of his homeland. He could not see the beach because it was too far away and the strand was too narrow, but he could feel it. He could feel something important would happen in that place he could not see. He could feel the future even if he could not remember the future.

The young man walked down the mountain. The young man walked to the bottom of the mountain before night. When night fell, the young man slept. The young man slept a dreamless sleep. When the young man woke from his dreamless sleep, he walked home. He walked back to the place where he lived across from the place where the girls lived and worked where the old woman had lived before she died. The young man walked four days and slept three nights on his walk from the mountains of his homeland to the place where he lived. The young man did not dream in any of his sleeps on his journey, but he could feel the future, and he could feel much would happen, both good and bad, in the years to come.

The young man entered the place where the girls lived and worked, and he went into the place where he prepared food. He had eaten the last of his food the day before, and he was hungry.

While the young man prepared his food, the third girl entered the place where he prepared food, and she held the hand of the other young man. The other young man had come for the third girl to do some work for him. The young man and the other young man avoided eye contact.

The third girl smiled and said she was sorry. She said she didn’t know the young man had returned.

The young man could see she knew very well he had returned.

The third girl beamed at the other young man and then whispered to the young man that she didn’t miss the girl in the pink dress anymore.

When the young man climbed to his sleeping place above the place where he stored food for the many beasts in the enclosure outside, he realized he didn’t miss the girl in the pink dress anymore either. Mostly.

 

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

Becomes One Hundred Stories #4: Toy Soldier

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.

Toy Soldier

The boy opened the gift.

The boy opened the gift that his mother had given him for his birthday. It was his fifth birthday. It was the boy’s fifth birthday, and the boy was alone. The boy was alone except for the gift that his mother had left for him the night before near the place where he slept. The place where he slept in the small place where he lived alone with his mother. Where he was often alone. Where he was alone again on his fifth birthday except for the gift he had just opened.

The gift was a toy soldier that had movable hands and feet and arms and legs. Its head could turn around completely. The boy turned the toy soldier’s head around completely a few times and wondered what it would be like if he could turn his own head around completely. The boy turned his head as far as he could one way, then he turned his head as far as he could the other way. But the boy could not turn his head around completely as the toy soldier could.

The toy soldier wore the uniform of the army of the boy’s homeland. The boy recognized the uniform of the army of his homeland because two soldiers from the army of his homeland had taken his mother out the night before so she could do some work for them. The boy’s mother had yet to return home. The boy’s mother had yet to return home, but the boy still admired the dress uniform of the toy soldier. The dress uniform that matched the dress uniform that the two soldiers wore when they had taken his mother out to work the night before.

The boy’s mother had left the gift with the boy near his sleeping place the night before and told him not to open it until the next morning after he woke up. The boy’s mother made him promise not to open the gift until the next morning after he woke up.

The boy promised.

The boy’s mother made him swear that he would not open the gift until the next morning after he woke up.

The boy swore.

The two soldiers laughed.

The boy’s mother said the gift would be empty if the boy opened the gift before he woke up the next morning.

The boy asked how he could open the gift before he woke up.

The boy’s mother said what.

The boy said he would be asleep before he woke up, so how could he open the gift in his sleep before he woke up.

One of the soldiers laughed. The other soldier helped the boy’s mother into her coat.

The boy’s mother said just be a good boy and do what she said and don’t open the gift until the next morning.

The boy said okay.

The boy’s mother repeated that the gift would be empty if the boy opened the gift before he woke up the next morning.

The boy’s mother left with the two soldiers.

The boy’s mother left with the two soldiers, and she had not returned by the next morning. She had not returned by the next morning after the boy had woken up. After the boy had woken up and had not yet opened the gift just as his mother had told him not to.

The boy had not even thought once about opening the gift the night before after his mother had left with the two soldiers. The boy was filled with wonder about what kind of gift his mother had given him that could disappear if he opened it too soon. The boy tried to imagine what kind of gift could do that. But the boy had a limited imagination at only five years old, so he settled on the gift being a plant or animal that needed to grow through the night and would not be large enough to see until the next morning. The boy certainly did not yet have enough imagination to consider that his mother had told him what she had told him to make sure he did not open the gift until the morning of his birthday. After he would wake up the morning of his birthday all alone. All alone except for the gift that the boy waited to open until after he woke up.

After the boy played with the toy soldier for a time, he remembered his mother’s warning about the gift disappearing if he opened it before he woke up. The boy wondered how the toy soldier in the dress uniform could have disappeared if he had opened the gift before he woke up. At first the boy thought the toy soldier might be magic. Then the boy thought maybe God would have made it disappear if he had disobeyed his mother and opened the gift before he promised he would.

Then after playing with the toy soldier a little longer, the boy realized that his mother had probably told him the gift would disappear if he opened it before he woke up the next morning just to make sure he opened it on his birthday.

The boy was disappointed. The boy knew his mother knew that he would have done what she told him even without that special threat, and the threat had made the gift seem more special than it turned out to be. And the boy had been full of intrigue about what kind of gift could make itself disappear if opened too soon—even though he had forgotten his intrigue after waking the next morning and before opening the gift.

But the intrigue remained with the boy long after the disappointment wore off. Long after the boy forgot that his mother had made the gift seem more interesting than it was. Even when the boy became a young man and a man and an old man, he continued to think about things that could exist in a closed box in many states and appear in a different state when the box was opened depending on whether the box was opened at one time or another time. And he continued to think about how a closed box could determine the state of its contents based on moral considerations such as promises made regarding the box’s opening. The boy, the boy as a young man, the boy as a man, and the boy as an old man all pondered such things throughout their long lives, particularly on the day they celebrated their birthday, but at other times also, now and then. The boy, the young man, the man, and the old man never did discover anything clever or elaborate about the nature of the universe based on these musings, and they never told anyone about what they thought. But such thoughts challenged the boy’s imagination throughout his life, and they kept his mind occupied now and then and reminded him of the toy soldier he received as a gift from his mother. A gift he had received the night before but waited until the morning of his fifth birthday to open because he was the kind of boy who did what he was told whether or not his mother made intriguing threats about special properties of her gifts.

The boy put down the toy soldier and made his morning meal. He made his morning meal, and he ate his morning meal. The boy went about his daily routine, and he brought his toy soldier along. The boy did the work that he always did on days he did not have school, and the toy soldier accompanied the boy while he worked. The boy did not work very long. He did not work very long compared to how long he would work as a young man and as a man. But the boy could work more than most boys his age whether he was accompanied by a toy soldier or not.

At night, the boy was tired. He took his toy soldier to his sleeping place. His mother had not yet returned home. The boy guessed she was still working hard with the two soldiers, and he wondered if she would return home the next day.

The boy made the toy soldier comfortable, and the boy made himself comfortable, and the boy started to fall asleep.

In the moment before the boy fell asleep, he wondered if the toy solder would disappear before the boy woke up the next morning.

It did not.

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

Becomes One Hundred Stories #3: Wakes Later than Usual

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.

Wakes Later than Usual

The young man woke up later than usual.

The young man lay in his sleeping place in the loft of the place where he stored food for the many beasts in the enclosure outside, and he felt the sun shine through the small window. He seldom woke up after sunrise. The young man did not understand why he had woken up so late.

The young man knew he would have to rise and feed the many beasts in the enclosure outside, but he decided to stay in his sleeping place a little longer.

The sleeping place was warm. The sleeping place was warm, but the place where he lived in the place where he stored food for the many beasts in the enclosure outside was warm too. In winter he was often tempted to stay in his sleeping place at least until sunrise because his sleeping place was so much warmer than the cold place where he lived, but even in winter he always roused himself before sunrise to feed the many beasts in the enclosure outside and then get on with his other daily chores. But on this day, the place where he lived was not cold because it was summer, and yet there he was, lying in his warm sleeping place long after the sun had risen.

The young man listened for the many beasts. They always grew restless near feeding time, anticipating the young man’s arrival with their feed. But the many beasts did not make any noise. The young man listened harder, and the many beasts remained silent.

The young man tried to think about what he had done the night before that might have put him in this unusual frame of mind. But the young man could not remember anything about the night before. He had probably spent the evening reading and preparing his food for the next day of work. He had probably done that because that was what he did most evenings. What specifically he had read and what specifically he had prepared to eat the next day, the young man could not remember.

The young man looked out the window at the deep, blue sky. The young man liked to look into the sky. But he seldom looked into a deep, blue sky from his sleeping place. The sky was always dark when he was in his sleeping place.

The young man also saw out the window the top of the place where the girls lived and worked. The place where the girls lived and worked was on the other side of the enclosure where the young man kept the many beasts for the owner of the place. The owner of the place where the girls lived and worked, and the owner of the many beasts, and the owner of the place where the young man stored food for the many beasts and where the young man slept. The young man looked at the top of the place where the girls lived and worked, and he thought about the girls. He thought about how they were probably all asleep at the end of a long night of work by the time the sun had risen this far in the sky. The young man wondered if one of the girls had perhaps done something to him in the night, but when he looked at the door of the place where he stored food for the many beasts in the enclosure outside, the small piece of cloth he always wedged in the door was still in place. No one had entered the place while the young man slept.

The young man lay back in his sleeping place and he felt the warmth of his sleeping place and he stared at the inside of the roof of the place where he stored food for the many beasts in the enclosure outside. The young man’s mind was blank.

The young man tried to sleep again. If he could not rouse himself from his sleeping place, then he would try to thwart his condition by going to the opposite extreme. He would try to return to sleep.

The young man tried to sleep, but he could not sleep. He just lay in his sleeping place with an empty mind, staring at the inside of the roof and wondering why he could not get himself up to feed the many beasts who did not seem too interested in being fed that morning.

The young man tried to remember if he had any dreams in the night. Any strong and restless and ominous dreams that might have cast this paralyzing spell over him. He had often found himself suffering from weariness after a night of particularly vivid dreams, but he had never before succumbed so completely. And yet the young man could not remember any dream he had had that night. Not a vivid, arresting dream, and not even a vague, benign dream.

The young man tried to think of what other work he had to do that fine summer day. What other work he was neglecting by lying in his sleeping place long after the sun had risen. What other work he would have to catch up on after he had fed the many beasts too late and then arrived at the place where he would do his work too late. But the young man could not think about what other work he had to do that day. He could remember nothing. He thought perhaps he would know what he was supposed to do that day after he had fed the many beasts, but he still could not rouse himself even to feed the many beasts, and the many beasts still were silent, so the young man still lay in his sleeping place looking at the inside of the roof, then at the small piece of cloth on the door, then at the deep, blue sky outside the window, then at the top of the place where the girls lived and worked in the place where the old woman lived before she died on the other side of the enclosure where the many beasts did not wait for the young man to bring their food.

Then a door slammed. Not the door to the place where the young man stored the food for the many beasts in the enclosure outside, but the door to the place where the girls lived and worked. The young man could not see that door from his sleeping place, so he rose on an elbow and looked down past the enclosure where the many beasts calmly milled about. He looked past the enclosure to the place where the girls lived and worked. The girl in the pink dress stood at the door and looked off into the distance.

The young man wondered why the girl in the pink dress was awake so late. The young man wondered if the many beasts who visited the girls for their feedings had all been satisfied just as it appeared that the many beasts that the young man had to feed were satisfied. The young man was about to ponder the vagaries of metaphor when the girl in the pink dress called his name.

The young man looked at the girl in the pink dress, but the girl in the pink dress did not look at him. The girl in the pink dress still looked off into the distance. Another young man approached the place where the girls lived and worked, the place where the girl in the pink dress stood calling his name. The young man realized that the young man approaching the place where the girls lived and worked had the same name as him. The girl in the pink dress had called his name, but she had not called him. She had called the other young man who shared his name.

The young man wondered why the girl in the pink dress was working so late. Then the young man no longer wondered why everything had been so strange since he had woken up. He no longer wondered because the sun fell lower in the sky. The deep, blue sky darkened, and the young man realized that the shadows had been wrong all along for morning. The morning sun never appeared in the window where the evening sun now appeared before it set.

Then the young man knew what he had been doing before he fell asleep. He had finished the last of his summer work. He had finished the last of his work earlier than he usually finished his daily work, and he had returned to the place where he lived in the place where he stored food for the many beasts in the enclosure outside, and he had lain down to rest after his long summer of hard work.

The young man had taken a nap. The young man had not taken a nap for many years, and he had been disoriented upon waking in the evening instead of the morning.

And the girl in the pink dress shut the door behind her. And the many beasts milled about their enclosure. The sun set, and the young man thought about his long summer of hard work until he fell into a long, deep sleep full of vivid dreams. Vivid dreams that he would forget when he woke up before the sunrise to feed the many beasts in the enclosure outside.

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

Becomes One Hundred Stories #2: 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.

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.