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Cause and Effect.—I.Just.Can’t.Do.This.But.I.Must!

Looking into the void and facing the darkness. Is there light? It has been dark for so long, it seems. A Pandemic, in the midst of violence, hate, divisiveness, anger, frustration, and feelings of futility.
Do we dare venture deeper into the void? Should we? Would it be better to sit back, make no effort, simply waste away, allowing worry to blot out all else?
How could one know?
—Unless the fear is faced, the attempt made, the venture taken?
Exploring the unknown is what each of us has done from the moment of birth, isn’t it? For we really had no choice then but to continue, did we? Each hesitant breath marked a decision to continue. Each step, though perhaps unsteady and faltering, was a decision made to explore and accept the challenges ahead.
Over time, we’ve been conditioned to believe in the force of positivity. Frost’s “The Road Less Traveled” tells us that our choice can make all the difference.
We have sighed with satisfaction at George Bailey’s decision to return to the living in “It’s A Wonderful Life”. But it’s true George Bailey accepted a return to a life filled with worry, anger, and divisiveness. Only to discover in the end that his decision brought joy, unity, and peace. It all worked out, and like Orphan Annie, “We love ya, tomorrow!”
But what new trials will tomorrow bring? What is the cause of our worry? The cause of our fear? The cause of our frustration?…Often all of these things are simply caused by the unknown. The trials of that horrible, unknown, black void.
But…But, there’s always that glimmer of hope in the darkness. If we forge into that black hole with the cloak of Annie’s hope for Tomorrow and even add the strength of Hamilton’s declaration, “I’m not throwing away my shot!” we may indeed find that it makes all the difference.
The causes of uncertainty are many. Our world, our lives today are built upon the perceived experiences of our past. Widening our perspective, we realize the history of these United States of America has been filled with might, determination, and innovation.
But….but, it has also been filled with strife, hate, terror, and domination.
We must recognize that there is an indifference about our history. We’ve been taught about Paul Revere’s determined ride to alert Patriots of the arrival of the British ships.— But…but, he wasn’t alone. He was just part of that story made heroic by the poet Longfellow. We’ve long heard the words of Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty or give me death.” We weren’t taught that he opposed the ratification of the Constitution and a strong central government and that he was a slave holder.
What we learned as children and the reality are often contradictory. Today we know that history ignored the cries of those who were trampled on to secure American freedom; those on whose backs we built our fledgling nation, those others whose cries of “Set us free!” or “Give me liberty” were conveniently forgotten, as well as those First Americans whose lands were torn away leaving only a small pittance of reserved land in token, often broken treaties.
The hope of our future must lie in a determined exploration into the dark void of our past. We fear going there, but this is how we grow. This is how we learn, and hopefully change.
We explore with uncertainty. Acknowledging our past must have a definitive effect on our future. To this, we ask, which of Frost’s roads will make all the difference?
Our lives are an endless journey into the dark void. We fill the void with our presence, our discovery, and our determination…and hopefully our learning from past mistakes in the end. Together we must be like Hamilton and take that shot!
We must travel into the void. We must!
And in these troubled times, taking that shot means we must VOTE!
It is our life to live, our future to create, and ultimately, our belief that we can affect the change.
We have been here before. We will without doubt be here again. It’s time to venture on!

I’m gonna take that shot!

Donating for Literacy

As a writer, I’m not always writing. There are times I need to do speaking events, or promotional activities. And there are times I have the opportunity to share my writing by donating my books. Last week was such an occasion. As a member of Bentonville/Bella Vista Altrusa International, I work with our club to support literacy for children in schools and libraries. We have donated literally thousands of books to schools and libraries in the area. Last Saturday we visited the grand reopening of the Sulphur Springs Public Library. We have donated 1352 books to help the library reopen! I was pleased to be able to donate my books to the library to help out!

The Bluebird of Happiness

Just a bit of writing for the new project this morning. Have you been given a Bluebird of Happiness from Arkansas?
“Betsy, you doing okay? Are you doing a picture for us today?” The young aide came next to her, leaning over to look at her work. “That looks like the Blue Bird of Happiness in that tree. Have you ever visited the place here in Arkansas that makes the Blue Bird of Happiness? You can watch them blow the glass to make all different sizes of the bird. They even have pink and red birds made of glass. They’re really special. I like your picture. It’s special, too.”
Betsy looked up and nodded vacantly. Then she reached for the nearest crayon, an ebon black, pulled the paper closer and methodically drew lines with sharp angles and squiggles along the right edge of the paper. The lines looked like an abstract melding of trees sprouting out of nowhere, branches askew. She stopped to analyze the picture, made one more swipe on the left of the page and drew a broad tree trunk leaning at an angle, sprouting withered branches; then she dropped the black crayon next to the paper and reached for a stub of charcoal gray. Her hands flew over the upper part of the page creating a swirl of menacing streaks and smears. Dark clouds appeared along the top of the page and drifted down over the center, almost covering the trees she’d drawn. The smudge of blue bird remained. She stopped to analyze the emerging picture. Dropping the gray stub, Betsy bent closer to the table and paper, eyeing her work. She reached out to sort through the crayons and selected a deep blue crayon marked ultramarine blue. Below the black stick-like lines, her hands flew creating an image of stormy, choppy waves.
She stopped abruptly, held the crayon mid-air above the page, looked at the image, and emitted a sound between a sob and a snarl.

The Witch Tree

“The Witch Tree” is coming along nicely…about 6000 words in…20 pages. So much more to tell. I’m liking some of the new characters. Senior citizen Betsy has spunk, Millie, a 20-something daredevil—is perhaps in over her head, and Tammy, an African American, dependable, trustworthy, caregiver to Betsy, always has Betsy’s back and is enjoying being along for the ride. And what a ride it is!

A New Year and A New Plot

Happy New Year, readers!
Well, I guess it’s starting. Fitting. Ready for a New Year? And a new story?
No set title yet. A glimmer of a plot. Some former Deception characters returning. Remember Jake, the Native American from the copper mines? We’ll see. Tell me what you think. Is it worth it? Is this enough to get it going? I need about a hundred responses to get ME going. Share if you wish. Get me some responses and feedback. Here we go:

THE WITCH TREE

Life is But a Dream

The truth was she didn’t always remember. She was no longer sure if her memory was real or had just been a dream.There were moments of clarity. Other moments of fog. Sometimes the fog outweighed the clarity.
This morning Maggie had wakened from a deep sleep, the fragments of a dream lingering. What was it she’d seen? The room in her dream had been shadowed with dark shapes lined against a wall. They were afraid, staring, mouths agape. She’d watched to see what was causing their fear. The room was bare…except for the thick-trunked tree rising through the floor, silent branches pushing up, stretching outward like waves reaching toward ghastly souls shrinking into the gray walls. A single stream of light lasered down from a pinhole in the ceiling above the tree. The tree began to glow. That was it. That was all she’d seen.
Maggie shuddered at the memory and settled down into the quilts. Embracing her with warmth, the blankets enveloped her creating a thick wall of comfort against the icy darkness. Struggling into wakefulness, she lay still letting the flitting dream pictures seep between dawning awareness and regretful loss of sleep.
She wasn’t ready to meet the day. Not yet. The pinkish gray of early morning light pushed at her eyelids, and she nudged it away, wishing to return to deep, hollow, nothingness and sleep. She listened to Jake’s soft breathing, regular and unbroken next to her; he had always slept soundly despite his frequent, unconscious crablike reaching for her that always brought back threads of uneasy memory from a night months ago.
What had she been dreaming? Bits of dream visions flickered, weaving in and out, disappearing then returning in a flash of recognition. A tree. Fear rising. People fading away. Then they were gone, and she was left with unsettled feelings.
Finally, she pushed the dream aside, letting it disappear. What day was it? More importantly, where was she? At that thought, she opened her eyes, and stared at the ceiling. Monday. It was Monday. She hated Mondays! And she was at Jake’s. She had spent the night with Jake. Again. She’d promised herself she wasn’t going to do this anymore.
What had she done?
Made a mess of things, that’s what she’d done. She groaned softly, and rolled herself out from under the quilts, bare feet steadied onto the cold, wood floor, and stood up. Jake rolled away, his dark hair falling over his face, pulling the quilts more tightly around his shoulders. She guessed he wasn’t ready to wake and face reality either.

***Gail

Morning Musings

I am on the board and a member of Village Lakes Writers and Poets here in Bella Vista. We recently were fortunate to acquire a lease for the historic Dug Hill Chapel as our new home and meeting place. In the picture you can see a small cemetery behind the building. Over the years, the Chapel has been a church, school and community center. It speaks to us. We will be busy refurbishing, cleaning, and renovating the little building to meet our needs. It’s the time of the year that the ghosts of the past speak out to us. We are so excited to begin this new adventure in this old building. And so I write…

We Listen

We listen.
Can you hear it?

Voices of ancient spirits whisper—
The past
Speaking to the future,
Carrying songs of praise,
Prayers of anguish, struggle,
Searching with hope.

Soft scratchings of
Murmured memories rise
While the tolling bell
Calls bodies to gather:
Infants, elderly,
Young, old,
Teens and twenties,
Mothers,
Fathers,
Settle at once together
To listen,
Learn, and share
Amidst the
Mewling cries,
Occasional raucous laughter, and
Whispered shared secrets.

The shadowed walls speak of
Scribbled lessons
Taught and learned,
Etched into hearts and minds
Richly layered with thick, slathered paint
Applied with steady hands
Year after year after year.
At last, bits peel away
Revealing pointed adjurations
Rising from
Shavings of wood,
Cracked glass,
Pebbled stone,
Reminders to remember.
Reaching out,
Touching,
Teaching voices from the past.
Curling tendrils of
Songs, love,
Words and wisdom
Filled with aching, overarching hope.
The spirits speak to us.

We listen.
©gailleecowdin 2021