The dark tales we carry…

I haven’t been one to publish posts related to Halloween, and this year was obviously no exception. 

Now that we’re a few days into November though, it occurs to me that an allegory I wrote some months ago might mesh well with such themes. 
I wrote it as part of working through an old trauma whose effects unexpectedly rearose. The tale follows a common mythical style complete with building suspense and an abrupt resolution.

As with past allegories I’ve written, some symbolic elements are deliberate, others unintentional — discovered only later to my startlement. Still others remain mysterious even to me.
The darker tone reflects what it can be like to confront past harmful experiences we thought we had resolved or had convinced ourselves we’d successfully got beyond. 

Even though I’m leaving the deeply impacting real-life scenario unrecounted, I hope its allegorical expression offers readers a relatable and satisfying encounter. 

***

Once there was a curious young woman. 

She thirsted for knowledge, and she was open-hearted toward others. 

When others shared their knowledge, she believed them. 
When others told her of themselves, she believed them. 
When they said they cared about her, she believed them. 

One strong, smiling, confident man invited her to his house. 
It was a modest house with only a few rooms, but they were lovely and well kept.

Although she was young, her family was gone, and it had been a long time since she had a home she belonged in.
She did not mind, for she loved visiting others’ homes.

And she loved to explore. She loved to explore their homes, their ideas — and the people themselves.

At the confident man’s house, there was comfort and belonging for her. And she stayed.
He told her she needed protecting, and that he would protect her. 
When he sometimes had to go away, he made sure she was locked in — for her protection. 

For such a small home, the basement was large.
But it was not very deep below the house, so the stairway down to it had not many steps.
Most of the basement was taken up by a hallway which wound around the four outer walls to reach a single room at the center. 
The hallway was not well lit, and the basement room was always locked. 

A separate entrance from outside the house also led down into the basement room. It too was always locked — for her protection.
She had never been down there. There was no need.
One key was kept on its own hook right out in the open, next to the door on the main level that led to the basement. A second key the man always kept on his person.

There came a time when he announced to her that he would be away for a while, and that she must take great care to stay safe in his absence. 
He said everything she would need was provided for on the main floor, that there would be no need to go downstairs, and that indeed she must not do so. 

On the first day he was away, she cleaned and tidied up all the living area, so it felt newly beautiful and comfortable and organized and safe. 
The second day she spent all the hours engaged in handicrafts and other pastimes.

On the third day her curiosity and exploring spirit nudged her. 
As she sat knitting in her safe beautiful organized comfortable living room, the fingers of exploring thoughts kept gently tapping her shoulder.
She ignored them many times: “What need have I of anything that does not already surround me?”

At length she also said to herself, “Since I am safe, what harm could possibly come from finding out something new?” 
She finally set down her needles and yarn and with a flutter inside approached the door leading to the basement. 
She removed the key for the basement room from its hook and slipped it into her pocket. The door at the top of the stairs did not have a lock, and the doorknob turned easily.
Descending the first step, she felt for and found a light switch and flipped it on. A bulb over the stairs lit up, but it was so dim, she returned to the kitchen for a flashlight. 

She started down a second time. Each stair step creaked. Landing safely at the bottom of the few steps, she saw that the ceiling was not far above her head and that bulbs of the same dimness lit the entire hallway. 

Aided by the beam of the flashlight, her eyes adjusted comfortably to her surroundings. Her thoughts were quiet as she stood aright and took self-assured steps along the hallway. 

At the first corner, she heard an ever so muffled growl. It was so faint that she attributed it to her imagination. Turning in the next direction, she saw that the continuing hallway exactly resembled what had come before. As did the hallway after the following corner. 

One more turn and now she was in the final portion of the hallway, alongside the fourth wall of the building’s foundation. Here the occasional faint growl was becoming less muffled. But her curiosity and exploring spirit did not allow the sounds to deter her.

At the door, she paused. All was silent now. 
She dug the key from her pocket, and found it slid into the lock easily. So very easily. 

The door creaked but swung open, just as easily. 
It was dark inside. Dark and silent. 
As she aimed her flashlight into the dark and silent room — the beam illuminated the face of the man himself!

At that split-second, he roared and pounced and tried to devour her. 

Her sheer determination enabled her to slip his grasp…
She managed to scramble past him toward the other door which led outside…
To her immense relief, it was not locked! In one fluid motion she yanked it open, rushed out, and leapt up the few stairs into the daylight — and never returned.

A writer’s vignette…

I’m guessing some of you can relate to this…

On her way downstairs to meet her visitors, Sophia sat down suddenly on the final step, her hand dropping off the railing. She wondered as her heart pounded… How hard could this be?

Why should her physical self be so at odds with what she really wanted — when all she wanted was for others to see and appreciate an important part of herself? And she was so close now.

While the small group awaited her presentation in the reading room, drinking punch and murmuring, she felt immobilized, unable to wrench herself up from the step, her mind aswirl.

At last, she gathered her resolve and rose, determined to honor her true self despite her trepidation.   Continue reading

The Side Door…

Time for another short fable, for those who enjoy that sort of thing.

It’s been a while since i’ve done one of these. (See previous ones under Allegory.) I find that the brevity and symbolism have a unique way of getting at something i’m feeling or experiencing.

Most times when i write these, i have an interpretation in mind, although some meanings come about in the process that i didn’t consider at the outset. (This one began with the first few lines given as a writing exercise, but soon took on a life of its own. Alternate title: Beyond Doubt.)

Please do let me know ideas or meanings that come to you from this story. I also invite you to write your own continuations of the story in the comments.

As always, thanks for reading.

***

wooden-door-open_19-97664

The Side Door

Out for her daily walk, lovely Dubia blinked twice and looked again. Could it be?… Yes, definitely, it was Paul — walking toward her. It had been several years since their last contact. Her hands trembled as she drew her jacket tighter against the cold wind. What was he doing here?

Here on the boardwalk along the river, where she had long ago tried in vain to connect with Paul, the odorless cold now hinted at the coming snow storm.

The present light dusting had not yet made her steps uncertain, but would soon.

Away from the elements and close to her body, she carried a shivering kitten. Pausing momentarily to unbutton her jacket, she reached in and reassured the tiny creature, then bundled up tightly again to protect them both from the bluster as she strolled.   

Fishing shanties dotted one side of the wood-plank walkway. On the other was the river, lined with idle fishing boats waiting for their owners to take them to their winter storage places.

Most of the diminutive old buildings had been restored, now housing cafes and other shops. Just past midday, the clinking of cafe dishes paired pleasantly with the muffled clanking of chains that moored the few remaining vessels.

Just one shanty was shabby and still, apparently abandoned. The door facing the walkway was padlocked, but there was a side door someone had left ajar.    Continue reading

Morning dark

stars pine trees

Hello readers!  I’m back from a brief absence, and with this post i’m returning to an early passion for poetry. I hope something in the following piece speaks to you.

***

Morning Dark

In the still of earliest morning

Dark still rules yet pledges light

I’m thinking of how things fall apart.

 

And how mirth collides with mourning

With dawn afar, dark heralds night

Color in shadows requires art

 

And rarely, with less forewarning,

Things come together, they turn upright

This i stumbled on by heart

 

The art we make at night must be with inner light composed

So with a heart that’s scarred and yet more open than supposed

I find most often now I write with both of my eyes closed

A musical fable…

Sometimes allegory can express what prose cannot. Here is a new piece, a very short one. I hope it touches you.

wavy-music-staff

The day having strewn her winding path with varied turns and twists, Poetta found herself near sunset out on a lush, happy, grassy field — at peace yet not in stillness.

Her deep contentment was born not of quietness, but of melodies and motion and voices.

Among a throng of musicians and revelers, her thoughts were lively as well. Hearing someone speak of happiness, she cried out, “That voice! I recognize that voice…”

And she realized it was her own.

Poetta had lived many, many years, yet she was still a girl. A girl with a voice. A girl who thought often about sunsets.

Upon arriving at this grassy field she met a dear friend who thrilled to see that in spite of the stumbles on the shadowy road just behind her, she was still able to dance.

She told him, “There are many ways our stories get told. I dance with a limp – that is one of mine.”

Seeing his concern over the streaming tears accompanying her joyous smile, she addressed the question he had not verbally posed.

To his quizzical countenance she replied, “When music makes me this happy, it hurts.”

And though she knew this made perfect sense to him, she continued:

“That’s what music does. It shows me my most all-encompassing joy and my profoundest sorrow at the same time. It puts them right there in front of my face — at the front of my heart! — where i cannot *not* feel them, and i cannot be still. And it makes them indistuinguishable from each other.”

Her friend replied wordlessly with a strong, warm embrace, while the music carried on around them.

***

 

Two ways of seeing…

Some time ago,  while i was forming a friendship with someone who had a very different belief system from mine, i tried to think of a way to describe an impasse we seemed to be reaching. The result is the following allegorical story. The story isn’t meant to suggest there are *only* two ways, but these two seem to be common.

books-clouds

BOOKLETTE AND IMPRESSA

Two cloud-gazers lie on their backs in a meadow, enjoying the puffy, delightful formations above.

One has a small book with her. It contains writings suggesting how cloud formations are to be interpreted, a record that informs her gazing and inspires her complete confidence. Let’s call her Booklette.

The other relies on no such book, but rather on her own impressions of the ethereal shapes. Only her present encounter with the billowy masses enlivens her thoughts. Let’s call her Impressa.

Lovely wisps of temporary forms suggestive of animals, trees and myriad other things float by.

The two pass the time calling out the forms they see, and they find delight on the rare occasions when they see and name the same form.

Their friendship is tested by what happens when they perceive differing shapes. Wishing for more of the enjoyment of agreeing, each tries to induce the other to see in the clouds what she sees.

Continue reading

The Boy on the Beach…

sandprint_unsplash

A young boy strolled along the beach early on a sunny day.

His eyes and his spirit drank in the ocean waves, the warm sun, the blond sand, and the nearby plants and trees further from shore. The unseen creatures in the distant sky above and beneath the earth and water were his friends.

As he walked, he carried in one hand a small book, from which he occasionally paused to read. The book was another of his friends. It told a beautiful story. Both the story and the life around him helped him to understand who he was.

While it was still morning, as he paused to read a page from the story, he happened to gaze into the blue sky and saw a single cloud drift above him. He pondered it a moment, and just as he was about to resume reading, a large bird swooped down toward him from the cloud.    Continue reading

Tunnel

lilienfoermige Tulpe

This is what she dreamed…

In the middle of a bright day, she found herself walking along a pleasant path with lovely flowers and sturdy trees on either side. The day and the path seemed wide open, like they could go on forever. She had a wide berth within the path to stroll and sometimes skip happily in the sunshine, and to wander from one side of the path to the other to bend down and enjoy the flowers. It was a rather straight path, and she thought it interesting how when she focused on the far distance, the two sides of the wide path looked as though they would eventually converge.

Along the way, she would kneel to smell a particular flower along one edge of the path, and then glancing across, another would catch her eye on the opposite side, and she would skip over to look at it more closely and take in its fragrance. With many happy and leisurely steps she passed the time, continuing down the path, while occasionally traversing its width to enjoy the flowers.

During one such pause, it seemed to her that it took fewer steps to get to the other edge, but she thought little of it and continued her stroll, interrupted by brief investigations of the flowers.    Continue reading