A Thousand Cranes, Volume 3 – Sample Chapter

A Thousand Cranes 3 CS

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A Crane About to Take Flight

the breeze is picking up

can you feel it in the air?

can you feel it in the air?

newborn wings just beginning to flap

flap for the first time

so the crane can fly free in the sky

free with the sun & the moon & the stars

free with the limitless birds

free with the soaring breezes & the gently swaying

meadow grasses

free from the sorrowful gravity that weighs her down

free from the deluging pains of boredom

free like she was intended to be

something wonderful is getting near

can you feel it in the air?

can you feel it in the air?

to freedom she is heading

to freedom she is heading

a crane about to take flight

Stirring in the Darkness

stirring in the darkness

silent call of the lark

over the lake I see the owls flying

calling down to the mice below

off in the distance is a harmonica crying

off to the west is my home

trees like towering warriors

sheltering me from harm

I crouch on the frozen earth

as I clear my path

I’ve suddenly seen through the glass that looks

in the sunlight reflecting on snow

I feel the power of the eternal glow

which all this time I stole, I took

through the dreams I felt at night

I knew no reason for evil or fright

selling what I owned & knowing what I had

I left the city & moved into the presence I’d once known

under the stars like I never knew

I drove on illuminated by the glow

I saw in the heavens my destiny

I saw the path in life I’d take to be free

playing for pleasure & working for joy

I knew what I’d found was hard to come by

light like I’d never known

shone onto the grass & into my soul

every darkened path became visible

as every darkened cloud’s silver lining appeared

the light suddenly faded & I saw the world

just as I’d seen it for many years before

but something in me remained, it wouldn’t be the same

I knew I could never know what darkness was again

stirring in the sunlight

I Want a Sweeping Romance

I want a soaring romance to lift me off my feat

to give me my first taste of what love is like

& when the storm blows I will reside within your arm’s retreat

someone to hold near when midnight the clock must strike

& a new day begins, to know what it feels to look into your eyes

intoxicated by your gaze as I hold your hand

within you the glory of one thousand universal skies

inside your heart you truly understand

but what if I search one hundred thousand miles for you

& still cannot find where your heart waits for me?

will you seek me out just as determined & as true?

I still wait for you, my love, as I hope someday you’ll see

I want a sweeping romance of a love crystal pure

& I will love you with everything I am, this I can assure

Little Secret Moments

little secret moments that no one is aware of

things only visible to my eye at that exact moment in time

because I happened to look a particular way at a particular second

in a particular state of mind

see the tiny blooming mango flower, or the bright red of a magnolia’s seeds

hear the crickets chirping out a melody, hear the wind rustling meadow weeds

a brief second in time in which everything is happy & bathed in perfection

little thoughts that fill my mind during personalized introspection

see the tree leaf falling slowly to the ground or see the sign unnoticed prior

see those people smiling at each other in pure love, the rose in the briar

buildings & special places in the forest where the water glistens

cars passing in the morning, quiet buzzing of bees only heard when you listen

morning light shining in the prism in my window, waves washing up shells from the sea

little things like these that belong only to me

Darkness

there is so much darkness around me

like walking thru outerspace without light

like driving blindfolded

like walking along the dark dusty highways leading nowhere

the sky is dark & I can’t see what’s in front of me

walking blindly into the unknown

but the stars are just coming out

just appearing upon that sacred horizon

& now I know

that I will find my way

Footprints on the Heart

she sees the sign on the window that reads

you are right”

but anyone watching cannot pick a side, divided by their beliefs

she strums a single note onto the guitar

& all heads turn away from the freed

footsteps removed from the world have far longer to go

he whispers out a note on the wood

underneath the hawk’s nested fool

a forbidden drum beat from beneath his mind’s pool

as he snaps out of his crazy reality

his ears capture & he hears what he thinks he should

footsteps echoed in the hallway of dreams

that night

footsteps on the ocean & buried underneath the truth

copies of our heartbeats & the distant pounding of the hooves

footsteps in the meadow mingling with salted rain’s taste so tart

copies of the depths of our souls & footsteps on the heart

the woman & the man converse freely

without fear of being heard

the flutist in the back of the empty play of words

is forgotten with the night’s embark

as they laughed the melody of time

time itself was hidden in love’s first & last remark

out of the blue

soundtrack for the beginning

kind words of good luck at the end

a spin around in the rest of the earth

& I knew where I had to begin

footsteps on the ocean & buried underneath the truth

copies of our heartbeats & the distant pounding of the hooves

footsteps in the meadow mingling with salted rain’s taste so tart

copies of the depths of our souls & footsteps on the heart

Innocence

in the beginning

the flowers bloomed without a trace of memories

in the beginning

my time was spent free & carelessly dreaming

in the beginning

I never had to worry

in the beginning I had no knowledge of what was to come

what would turn my world around

innocence

I was so naive

never had to plan ahead

I believed that things would always be the way

they had been when I was a child

easy & carefree & without the slightest trouble

yet in my innocence

I did not know what was to come

in the beginning,

I thought that all was well

that the sea was calm,

although a storm was brewing & would turn the tables round

behind the scenes I couldn’t see what conspired

although somewhere in the back of my mind

I had thought of these possibilities

it had never occurred to me that things would be changing

so soon

& time passed like evening flowers blooming

growing every season until

I saw that all this time I was right

Looming

it looms above me like a dark shadow

it calls like wild beasts prowling in the night

it ticks like a time bomb at any moment could detonate

it screams like the prisoner alone in the cell

it blots out the sun like a hurricane’s wrath

it hides like the frightened trembling animal

it accepts the blows like Invictus’ captain

it does what is possible to keep hold onto the ship’s railing

it grasps the rope on the side of the mountain

it perseveres like the grass growing ever towards the sun

it climbs to the top of the mountain so it can see the whole wide world

it dances in the sunlight to the invisible music

it smiles & sighs with contentment, crying tears of joy

when the relief of a new day rolls round

& it forges its life from the block of marble

& creates it into what it wants to be

Doing Okay

you know it’s kind of

interesting how it all started

a few days ago

it seemed like it was going to be like every other time

the clouds rolled around & the thunder crashed

& the monsoon rain flooded the sky

& teardrops rolled down from the clouds & splashed against my pillow

it seemed like it was happening all over again

& I couldn’t be bothered to stop it because I knew it was true

but it wasn’t actually a storm

just cloudy skies overhead

& it’s a new emotion

new emotions are often good or at least interesting

I’ve never actually felt this way before

I’m lost & unhappy & frightened & dissatisfied & I don’t know what to do

I’m lost out on the sea alone alone alone

I don’t know where to go any longer

because everywhere I can think of that’s easily reached

is impossible or isn’t worth the effort in the end

& everything worth it is difficult & a little frightening

& I don’t know if it must come to that yet

there’s nowhere for me to go

like I’m standing homeless in the street trying to grasp the things that are mine

but few things belong to me any longer

I’m unhappy with the way things are

filled with various moments of contempt for the monotony of my life

yes just because I’m busy doesn’t mean I’m not bored underneath it all

I’m unhappy with every single day being exactly the same as the day before

every single day being exactly the same as the day before

every single day being exactly the same as the day before

sometimes making progress but never stepping forwards

& yet I don’t know what to do to change it

I’m afraid, so afraid

afraid of asking about what I might want because I don’t want to hurt you

or make things worse for you in your life

but can’t you see this is hurting me?

who must win this in the end?

afraid of trying & only finding more & more of this

but only Emptiness looming behind me & knocking on the door

(behind me behind me, in the past)

& I’m dissatisfied

dissatisfied of being happy & letting myself bask in sunshine for the moment

because I know that until something changes

really, actually, truly changes, I will always fall back upon this

& so I must resolve to remain this way

until I am courageous enough to change it

or else I’ll just keep on coming back to this

& I don’t know what to do

I don’t want to ask & I don’t want to make too drastic a change

I don’t want to hurt you or ruin things forever

I don’t want to have regrets

I’m lost & unhappy & dissatisfied & I don’t know what to do

but I’m not broken & or unusually desperately down, struggling to save myself from drowning or frantically hiding tears rolling down my cheeks, forcing myself to stand straight & hide lying down on the floor under a blanket whenever I can

for now, I’m doing okay

Lying on My Back on My Bed

lying on my back on my bed

my piles of soft blankets

around my arms

engulfing me like a cocoon & caressing

my skin

my dog lies beside my feet on the end of my bed

I watch him breathing softly

upon his face, contentment

my heart fills with adoration for him

pillow soft as a cloud beneath my head

the morning light streams in my window

& my prism, a pendulum dancing upon my wall

casting rainbows across my floor

the air is filled with magic

I could only hope to be as radiant as the sun

& that which inspires me

pretty thoughts fill my mind

today is going to be a good day

Twinkling Lights

starlight in the night

moon glistening on the water

like electrified dolphins caressing the water

beams of electricity sparking across the water

there is reason to hope there is reason to hope

smell the night air gently filling the room

hear the crickets chirping

& smile at the moon

maybe things are not so bad after all

can you remember that first night we were here?

how after weeks of filling boxes & tying up loose ends

how after a tired day of packing the moving truck

outside in the heat, driving all the day

late at night we finally reached our destination?

how we were all tired & sore & dirty & yet we felt wonderful?

How we had a quick pizza & soaked long in the bathtub?

can you remember the first night we were there?

how when I was on the driveway I felt that this time things would be different?

how things would be better?

can you remember the way we felt so safe out there in the sacred darkness

only stars playing witness to our deep emotions & passionate love?

can you remember how we knew, just somehow knew that everything would now be better for us?

& how after the long day & all the trials we faced

we nestled into our warm safe bed

how we looked out the window at the lake behind the house

& we saw the lights from every house surrounding it shining down

sparkling into the water?

remember how beautiful that was?

& the sense of belonging we felt then?

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Little Bird Sample Chapter

Little Bird

 

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Little Bird

a little bird

hopping along

thru the impending

rainstorm

persevering

& finding what thrives

amongst the raindrops

The Journey Begins

setting out in the

early morning just as the

sun is beginning to rise

with a pack on your back containing everything you’ll need

to find yourself along the way

a map of your soul to show you where to go

a compass to tell you when you’re in the right place

a flashlight to guide you thru the dark forests

a set of wings to help you fly over obstacles

a raft to go on the ocean with

words of wisdom to sustain you

a book of knowledge to feed your mind

a journey to record what you see

& your own soul

you walk for a while & suddenly

it occurs to you that you don’t really know

who you are

or where you’re going

& all the road around you looks unfamiliar

& your compass is spinning

& your map blows away

suddenly you know it’s up to you to find your way

you know something has to change

but you’re worried

you’re worried that you won’t like things once they’re different

worried that things will turn out wrong

it’s okay to be worried

but you’ve got to learn to let go

because until you let go

there’s no way you’ll ever know

just how far you can

fly

Welcome

the journey just beginning / a journey to discover what you want / what your dreams are / where you belong / who you are / the journey is just beginning / the magic carpet of infinite possibilities & infinite joy & infinite beauty surrounding you everywhere / everything you need is right in front of you / everything you’ve ever needed has always been within your grasp / you are not lacking anything / you are everything

you can make your dreams come true / I believe in you / I believe in you / I know you can do it all if you just keep trying / you’ll make it

as you take a walk thru the pages & you skip around & stop to contemplate what the meaning of life really is, remember this

many have searched / & spent lifetimes pondering / thinking / dreaming / about what life is about / but in truth / you could never find the definition of life

because it’s too infinite & too wonderful & too beautiful & too free

to define / if you look for the meaning to everybody’s life / it takes you back to the beginning of the circle / back to / where you started / where it all began /

because in truth / the only truth is the truth within / the only meaning of life / is what you say it is / what you get out of life / what you want out of life / what guides you / what makes you smile / what makes your spirit soar / what makes you feel alive

that’s what life is about

& remember this – life is what you make it

make it fantastic

there is only one meaning to your life

to make it your own

Something Wonderful

always believe that something wonderful is about to happen / because it is / your life is going to be wonderful / today will be wonderful / tomorrow will be even better / your dreams will all come true / good luck will follow you everywhere / strangers will show you random acts of kindness today / you’ll see many examples of just how beautiful the world is / you’ll find something you’ve searched for a long time to find / you’ll discover a piece of yourself that was missing / every day is a new life waiting to be discovered / every day is another chance / every day is a canvas just waiting to be painted upon / make it beautiful

Learning to Find My Strength

I’m learning

learning

who I am

& learning to go confidently

to where I feel is right

I’m tired of being afraid

afraid that things won’t work out

afraid that I’ll never be good enough

afraid that I’m really a failure deep down inside

I’m tired of being confined

tired of being chained to things which no longer hold true

tired of being confined to these molds

tired of being held back by my insecurities

I’m tired of this sorrow

sorrow that I’m not going anywhere

sorrow that drags me down

sorrow that tells me that I can’t do it

I’m ready to prove all of them wrong

& show them

what it means to fly

I Feel Like You’ve Forgotten Me

there used to be something real, something tangible between us / me sitting there, all those times, all those hours months days, warmed by the glow of your kind words & communications & looking forward to seeing you / sometimes it wasn’t much – just a quick note to say you were thinking about me – but it was enough / it was enough & you were always there for me / & I thought I could always count on that – you being there

but you’re not / you’re not there any longer / by choice choosing to leave it all behind / & when I discovered what I discovered I felt like I didn’t know you any longer

& I’m glad / so glad / that I didn’t waste my time trying to forge a deeper well within the grasp of your abilities / I’m glad I didn’t seek out closer companionship / because things would still be the same

& it’s not the fact that you’re leaving that upsets me / it’s your choice & you’re free to choose what you want to / you’re free to say goodbye if you wish to do so / it’s your loss / you’re the only one who’s missing out / & I understand why you were so slow & subtle about it all – maybe I felt the same way, with my dwindling words written to you & everything / maybe I felt that it was nearing its close / you’re free to move on – & maybe it’s time / you’re not the person I used to know / maybe it’s time you moved on & went with everyone else that you know & love / because I know that for such a long time you never even told me anything about yourself / things I’m sure everyone else knew / I have no problem with moving on

but what upsets me / the only thing that upsets me is that for such a long time I had this false sense of companionship / & suddenly that’s gone / suddenly there’s no one else to depend upon / & I’m all on my own / all on my own / all on my own again / & it’s a loneliness that sometimes nothing breaks thru / you were there – or rather, my illusion of what I thought you were – & to that, I could relate to / in that I found comfort / you were that connection to the world outside / & now it’s just me / me & them / swirling around in some kind of roundabout of only us only us only us / like there’s no one else / like I’m alone / like I’m the only one

The Wheel

it’s all up to me

it’s all up to me

where I go & what I do & who I decide to become & who I am

it’s all up to me it’s all up to me

& you’re certainly not going to stop me

or stand in my way

I don’t like your definitions

of what a life is supposed to be like

wake eat work sleep

& do it all over again

all the way until you die

but with that schedule

it’s like you die inside much sooner

or never begin to live at all

you tell me what I’m supposed to like

supposed to do

but I don’t believe you

I don’t believe you

the wheel keeps turning

& I keep changing

Sometimes I Just Don’t Know

sometimes I just don’t know

what I’m even doing

or where I’m going

but then something reminds me

why I keep trying

sometimes days aren’t good

sometimes I miss out

& end up at the bottom once again

but I know I’ll climb again the next day

climbing with the sun as it rises

& there’s so many good things in each & every day

even if things go wrong & I fall

so much happiness

even if I don’t comprehend, understand, or see any at all

sometimes I just don’t know why I try

my mind says that it’s no use & I’m wasting my time

but my heart says I’ll reach it & I’m doing fine

I always try to listen to my heart

it knows the way

sometimes I wonder why I keep moving on

but then I remember

why I began in the first place

I remember that it’s time to move out of this place

away from here

away from my sorrows

away from my fears

it’s time for me to become something big

instead of this person who hides

under the leaves at the base of the tree

it’s time that I was the person I’ve always known I was

it’s time I was free

sometimes I don’t know how I’ll do it

everything seems to be going wrong

sometimes

everything seems to be going against me

like swimming in the sea

but I’ve built wings

they’re getting stronger every day

& with these wings I have built

I’ll fly over the sea & away

away away

far away, far from here

to the land I have dreamed of

to the meadows of gold

it’s my destiny, it’s all up to me

my choices are mine alone

I think I should start following my heart

learning to trust that it knows where to go

even when I do not

I think I should learn to trust my heart

it knows the way

it knows what will make me happy

it knows what I want & it knows what I need

encourages me onwards, gives me strength to succeed

I trust in my heart because it is my map

& in following it, I cannot lack

it knows where I should be

& how to get there

I will follow my heart

I will follow it thru doors to anywhere

if I follow my heart, I cannot go wrong

& I’m just learning

that I am so strong

Dreams

dream / dream wildly & freely / dream as freely as birds fly in the sky, as the planets rotate, as stars shine / dream as freely as the flowers bloom, as the trees wave in the breeze, as the ocean waves crash upon the gentle shore / dream as freely as beams of sunlight shine, music floating thru the air, as freely as wishes floating thru the night sky & to the stars / there are no limits to dreams

dreams are beautiful / it is our dreams that show us who we truly are

do not ask yourself what the world needs / ask yourself what makes you come alive & go do it / the world needs people who have come alive & you ought to be one of them / the world needs people who live life the way they believe / the world needs people who believe / believe in themselves & believe in their dreams

the world needs you

go out there & do it

(c) 2013 Ashlee Craft

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Shipwrecked by Ashlee Craft – Sample Chapter

Shipwrecked

 

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The day began simply, as every other morning of my life had began, but something was different today. A certain sense of adventure hung in the air, for I was about to achieve my biggest dream.

It wouldn’t be until hours later that I realized just how great of an adventure I was about to embark upon, and just how much I would learn in the process.

I was about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

I awoke and saw the sunlight streaming through the prism hanging near my window, casting rainbows across the avocado colored rug near my bed. I stretched and basked in the light coming through my blinds before putting my feet onto the rug and kicking my slippers out from under my bed. The smell of French toast, which my parents were cooking in the kitchen, wafted into my room, and I noticed how hungry I was.

My faithful golden retriever, Sammy, lay on the rug at the foot of my bed. He wagged his tail happily when I walked across the floor and patted him on the head before I left my room.

If I had known the fate which I would meet later that very day, my morning ritual would have been a little different.

I smiled to myself as I peered out my window. I could hardly contain my excitement, for later that day, I was going to go on a boat and travel to an island in the middle of the ocean! It would be the first time I’d ever spent a night away from home, and I could hardly wait for this freedom! Initially, my parents had been apprehensive about this idea, but I knew I could handle it. I was sixteen years old and I needed some freedom – something my parents had never really given me, being as straight-laced and uptight as they were. They finally gave in, giving me permission to travel to the island alone on a boat captained by one of their best friends, who probably played large in persuading them that I should go.

For a long time, I’d wanted to visit the nearby island chain, which was about a hundred miles from shore. I had saved my money for this trip for so long, and thankfully, my parent’s friend, Captain Holden, had offered a discount, saying that he had never been to the islands either and was looking for an excuse to go.

Why did I want to go to this island? Well, when I was twelve years old, I read Treasure Island for the first time, and immediately felt a connection with the main character, Jim Hawkins. The further I got into the book, the stronger my desire became to camp out on an island, even if it was only overnight. It just sounded so magical, so adventurous, so fun! Being on an island, practically alone, watching the stars overhead, trying to survive and keep yourself safe – I could hardly imagine anything better or more amazing than that.

But after experiencing the real thing, I would think differently.

That morning, I walked into the kitchen and greeted Mom and Dad. They were both at the table, dipping pieces of bread in an egg mixture and then cooking the bread on our griddle. A stick of butter and a bottle of maple syrup sat on the table near a glass of orange juice.

Good morning, honey! We decided to make you your favorite breakfast before your trip!” Dad said with a smile.

Make sure you eat healthy food while you’re staying on the island.” Mom told me.

Mom, I’m just going to be gone for a few days! If I did eat junk food or something, it’s not like it would really make a difference.”

The look Mom replied with said a million things, most of all, the traditional ‘I’m your mother and I care about you, so don’t get on my case about what I remind you to do’.

After eating the French toast, which was delicious, I hurried upstairs to get ready to go and to add a few more things to the duffel bag I’d packed the prior night.

Inside the worn blue duffel, I had packed a rope, two notebooks, a new pack of pens, a canteen, socks, a spare pair of clothing, a toothbrush and toothpaste, my hairbrush, bug repellent, and a few other items.

In addition to the duffel bag, I also packed a sleeping bag and tent in a separate bag. Captain Holden would be bringing the food and water for us, and Mom had made some sandwiches, so I didn’t have to worry about those two necessities.

I raced down the staircase, eager to be off on my adventure. My parents were going to drive me to the docks, which were only a few miles from our house. I had spent many happy afternoons there, watching the waves and the ships coming and going, thinking of all the wonderful places they’d traveled. I could have easily ridden my bike to the docks that day, but my parents wanted to see me off safely on my adventure and insisted on coming.

The car ride was brief, and at the time, I was thankful for this. I wanted to get to the docks as soon as possible, mostly because I was excited, but also because my parents nagged me the entire car trip about what I had to do.

Don’t swim at night. Sharks attack most commonly at night.” Dad warned.

Don’t fall down any holes in the ground! You could break a bone.” Mom said, sounding overly paranoid.

Behave for Captain Holden. Don’t be stubborn.” Dad continued.

Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want us to know about.” Mom lectured.

Believe me, the ride there was by no means pleasant, but if I had known that I would not see my parents again for quite some time, I would not have rolled my eyes at their comments and sat silently in the corner, insisting that I was already aware of everything they were telling me.

We arrived at the docks and Dad pulled into a parking space between a bright red speedboat on a trailer and a convertible. I remember thinking how gaudy the red boat was as I grabbed my duffel bag from the back seat. I handed the sleeping bag and tent over the front seat, where Dad picked them up and carried them from the car.

I was wearing an old pair of tennis shoes, jean shorts, and a bright yellow t-shirt. It was a bright, humid July morning, and the Florida sun beat down hard upon my back. I was glad that I’d brought as much sunscreen as I did, although thankfully, my skin doesn’t burn easily.

My mousy brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail, the most practical style for it to be in for this adventure. I figured that if my hair was put up, it wouldn’t get in my face and bother me while I was hunting for shells or climbing trees or pretending I was Jim Hawkins.

I walked down the docks far ahead of my parents, a little embarrassed that they were here with me. After all, I was sixteen, and I didn’t see any reason for them to treat me like a baby by having to come everywhere with me. I wanted to show them that I was independent and could do things on my own.

We neared Captain Holden’s ship, an older boat named The Hula. The Hula had just gotten a new coat of paint, making her shimmer brightly in the sun and reflect the glittering waves of the water upon her hull, making it look as though the metal of the boat was alive, like a wild animal in motion.

Captain Holden, a middle aged man with slightly graying blond hair and bright blue eyes that shone like sunlight, smiled brightly when he saw me approaching.

Well, hello there, Tami! It’s a fine day for sailing, isn’t it?”

I was grinning from ear to ear, so excited to finally be going on the adventure I had dreamed of for so long.

Definitely!” I exclaimed.

I hurried towards the edge of the dock and grabbed the railing of the boat, pulling myself onto the boat and over the crevice between the boat and the dock. From here, I climbed over the railing and onto the deck. As I walked across the top deck of the ship, I squinted my eyes against the glare of the sun, and, remembering that I’d brought my sunglasses, I put them on. I could feel the gentle rocking motion of the boat beneath my feet.

A minute or two later, my parents caught up with me and smiled at Captain Holden, who was testing a few controls on his ship in preparation for our trip.

The Hula was fairly small boat and contained a several small cabins below deck, kitchen, and a bathroom. On top the deck was a covered area where Captain Holden captained the boat, and outside of this area were some white vinyl seats Several life jackets stood out starkly against the crisp clean white of the boat.

Captain Holden strode over towards the edge of the boat and put down the ramp so that we could enter the boat. His forehead was covered in sweat and his skin was browned by the sun, a hue which contrasted his white captain’s outfit.

My parents stepped onto the boat.

Thanks again for deciding to take Tami on this trip.” Dad said.

Captain Holden smiled and replied,

I’ve been waiting to see the island for such a long time myself, and when Tami mentioned that she wanted to go and explore it, I couldn’t help but accept.” He looked over at me. “You bring your camera, Tami?”

Yes! I put it in a plastic bag to protect it from water.” I announced happily.

Captain Holden, Mom, and Dad all smiled at me.

I was absolutely elated. I was about to go on the biggest adventure of my life.

On the top deck was a long, coiled rope, which was attached to the anchor. I entered the wheelhouse and saw the large steering wheel and a variety of controls. I immediately thought that captaining a boat must be a difficult job, because you probably had to pay attention to all of these dials and things all at the same time.

I walked back out into the sunlight and saw my parents talking to Captain Holden. Almost as soon as I reached them, Captain Holden looked at his watch and said,

Well, it’s nearly time for us to be off. Tami, say your goodbyes to your parents now.” Looking at Mom and Dad, he added, “And remember, be here at the same time in two days to pick Tami up. I have more clients scheduled for that day, and if you’re not early enough, your daughter will have to walk home.”

Mom and Dad nodded, seeming saddened by my departure. I smiled at them reassuringly. I wasn’t at all afraid of spending a few nights away from them, despite the fact that I had never spent the night away from them once, not even for a sleepover when I was growing up.

I was happy to finally be embracing freedom.

On my adventure, I planned on exploring the island, pretending I was a castaway, and taking pictures and make notes about everything. When school started back up again, I would write my summer report about this trip.

Little did I know I’d have so much to tell.

My parents stood there in the sun, smiling at me as we embraced and said our goodbyes.

I love you, sweetie!” Dad said, his voice filled with emotion.

Have a great time and be careful!” Mom said, sounding a little like she was holding back tears. “I love you.”

I love you guys too. Now, have a good time! I don’t want you sitting around the house being all boring and stuff, crying about the fact that I’m on an adventure. I’ll have a great time, I can assure you! And be sure to play with Sammy, or he’ll get lonely.”

My parents and I hugged once again, and they walked down the ramp and back onto the dock. Captain Holden untied the boat from the dock. Then he walked into the wheelhouse and started the boat’s motor. We slowly began to pull away from the dock, leaving my parents smiling and crying and waving at me.

We love you!” They shouted.

I love you guys too!” I shouted back over the roaring of the engines.

The boat slowly got farther and farther away from the shore, and in no time at all, we were cruising at an average speed.

The wind whipped my hair around, and I was thankful for my sunglasses, or else the wind would have stung my eyes as well. It was a little harder to breathe with all the air rushing into my nostrils, so I turned to the side a little a looked over the edge of the boat, grinning from ear to ear.

I was finally free! After sixteen years of being confined by my parents, of only dreaming of adventure, of having to listen to everything they told me, I was finally on my own, and I was sure I was going to have a marvelous time.

The ocean was a crisp, clear, sparkling blue, and the sky was nearly cloudless. The sun beat down warm against my skin, but the breeze was contrastingly cooler.

I glanced back at Captain Holden, who smiled at me from the wheelhouse.

At this point, I thought back on when I first conceived this dream of mine.

At twelve, being an avid reader, I had heard of the book Treasure Island and decided to give it a try. It was a classic, and I loved adventure stories, so I was sure that I would enjoy it.

Well, I did more than enjoy it. I loved it so much that all I wanted to do was to live and breathe it. For a while, it was all I thought about, all I dreamed about. Everything I did during the day was somehow preparation for a similar adventure that I vowed I would go on. I started swimming in the neighborhood pool almost daily, in case while I was on an adventure, I had to swim a long distance. I climbed trees, in case it was a skill I would need to be an expert at sometime on an adventure. I ran laps in the neighborhood to build up my strength and stamina. I read every book in the library about treasure, pirates, adventures, survival, camping, sailing, and basically every other subject that would be useful for someone on an adventure. I watched as many adventure films as possible – Indiana Jones, Robinson Crusoe, Pirates of the Caribbean – you name it, and I watched it, eagerly taking tips from my heroes about what to do, and more importantly, what not to do.

Anyways, by the time I’d finished reading Treasure Island, I had made a vow to myself that I would do something similar. I mean, obviously, I didn’t want to go through the whole pirate war thing and all like Jim Hawkins had to do in Treasure Island. But still, the freedom of being on an island, the freedom of being who you were and doing exactly as you pleased looked especially wonderful to someone like me. I pictured long days spent basking in the sun on the beach, climbing trees, swimming in the ocean, finding food on the island, and hopefully, finding buried treasure.

I told my parents about my idea soon after I finished the book, and they passed it off as a mere childhood fantasy. But I was sure of what I wanted, despite the fact that my parents thought I was just a little too inspired by a book I had read.

I was more than inspired; I was obsessed.

Staying on an island, even if it was only overnight, became my primary dream. As four years passed, my interest in this idea remained was just as strong, if not stronger, than it was the day I’d conceived it.

When my 16th birthday came along, my parents asked me what I wanted.

I want to spend a night on an island.” I replied, which was the same response I had given them every year since I was twelve.

There was a difference that year though. Now that I was sixteen, they had to acknowledge that I was growing up. After all, I was now old enough to drive a car by myself, which meant more freedom for me. But my parents didn’t like the idea of me driving, as they thought that I was still too young to drive and therefore, had refused to teach me how to drive until I was the ripe age of seventeen. I was angry at them for this, thinking they were holding me back and were trying to keep freedom from me. It seemed as though they wanted to keep me close because they were afraid of letting me spread my wings, make my own decisions, and go out in the world.

When I announced to them that I still wanted to spend a night on an island, I was met with disapproving looks. Because I knew how strongly they opposed the idea of me driving, I added,

Either that, or you teach me how to drive.”

It wasn’t as much a wish as it was a threat. It was, in my opinion, a surefire way to convince them to let me get what I truly wanted. If they thought spending the night on an island was dangerous, it was nothing in comparison to what they thought of me driving.

My parents talked about my idea for a long, long time, and I waited outside their bedroom door, listening as hard as I could to hear what they were saying, but their words were muffled and I only heard some of it.

Responsible…not sure….dangerous…adventure…I was her age…she can’t…”

But when they left their room (and by this time, I had gone back to my room, not wanting them to know that I’d been eavesdropping), they told me they had come to the conclusion that I could spend one night on an island, to which I’d be taken to by our longtime family friend, Captain Holden.

I was so excited that I immediately started packing, although it was nearly two months before I was actually scheduled to go on the trip.

A few weeks prior to my departure date, Mom and I had gone to Target and bought me a nice one-piece bathing suit, which was shiny and blue like the ocean.

Now, the boat tore through the water, and I was filled with a childlike sense of wonder that all of this was finally happening. With every minute that passed out there in the big blue ocean, the happiness inside of me only increased, as did the full realism that I was on my way to achieving my dream. I had made it happen, and this pleased me more than I could describe.

The ocean zoomed past us so quickly that it felt like we were flying, which was one of the most exhilarating sensations I’d ever experienced.

We cruised like this for some time, crashing through the waves and heading towards the island, and the entire time, I stood near the side of the ship. My happiness was so overwhelming that I could do little but stand there and soak it all in.

Captain Holden and I would spend that night on the boat and reach the island the day after. Then we’d stay on the island overnight, leave the next day, and return home the day after that. I looked forward to sleeping in my sleeping bag under the stars, basking in the sacredness of the moonlight and inhaling the sweet island breezes.

For three days, I’d be living my dream.

How are you enjoying your trip?” Captain Holden asked me when he stopped the boat around lunchtime.

Today is the best day of my life!” I exclaimed, smiling at him.

The rest of the day passed fairly uneventfully. I saw a pod of dolphins jumping from the waves, and although it wasn’t the first time I’d seen dolphins in the wild, it was incredibly thrilling.

As the day neared its end, the sky began to glow orange and yellow, and the sun sank down upon the horizon like a pat of butter melting on mashed potatoes.

Captain Holden slowed the boat to a complete stop and went down into the kitchen, which is called a galley on the boat, to get out the sandwiches my parents had made us.

I sat cross legged on the deck, looking at the stars that were just beginning to appear in the darkening sky. The boat rocked gently, and peace filled every bit of me. Is this what true perfection was? I wondered this as I sat there, breathing deeply, fully immersed in the moment.

A minute later, Captain Holden returned to the deck with the sandwiches. I removed my canteen from my duffel and sat down near the edge of the boat to eat my toasted cheese sandwich. The sandwich was cold by this time, which was actually nice because I had spent all day in the heat.

Your parents are good chefs.” Captain Holden said, taking a bite of his toasted cheese sandwich.

I shrugged and took a bite of mine.

I guess so.” The reluctance in voice was blatant.

You seem a little angry every time I mention them.” He observed.

I looked out at the ocean and nodded.

I am.”

Why?”

Well, my entire life, they’ve never let me have any independence. I mean, I’m not mad at them, just annoyed. Anyways, my whole life, they’ve always told me what to do, and I’ve always had to do it. Anything that I wanted to do had to be scrutinized by them. If I befriended someone, they wanted to meet them immediately. Several times, they told me I couldn’t be friends with a certain person because they feared they’d be a bad influence.”

They were probably right in their judgment.”

Yeah right! They just want to control every aspect of my life. They don’t let me chose anything for myself. If I see something I want at the store, even if it’s just a shirt, usually they try to convince me to get something different. I’m lucky I can even ride my bike anywhere. And that’s one of the reasons I’m so happy to be on this cruise – for the first time in my life, they’re not right behind me, telling me what’s wrong and right. For the first time in my life, I actually get to make my own choices.”

Captain Holden nodded his head.

I remember what it was like to be sixteen.” He said. “Everyone in the world seems to be against you, especially your own parents. You want to get out in the world, change things, have a good time, and make your own choices. You want to decide for yourself what’s right and wrong, and live your life the way you want to. But everyone seems like they’re trying to stop you. Everyone’s just getting in your way, stopping you from doing the things you need to do. Nobody seems to understand how you feel, and you can’t explain it even if you wanted to. You just want your life to begin; you want to discover who you are. And it’s a struggle to find your way. But I want to tell you the two greatest things that I wished I’d known at your age. First, often times, your parents are right, even if you don’t think so at the time. Sometimes they’re not, but a lot of times, they are right. All of us adults were sixteen once; all of us know what it’s like. The only reason your parents act like they do is because they love you.”

I rolled my eyes, not wanting to hear someone preach to me about what I should think about my parents and making excuses for why they were so paranoid.

Second, you know a lot more than you think you do. A wise person once said that ‘life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself’. Trust in yourself, believe in your abilities, and everything will be okay. You can always find your way if you look in the right places and do what you know you need to do. You’ve got to follow your heart. Because when you believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything.”

His last words really struck a chord with me, and I finished my sandwich in silence, mulling over them. For the first time in my life, an adult had told me that I needed to believe in myself and do the things I needed to do – not the things they wanted me to do, but the things I wanted and needed to do.

And this – this adventure – was something I needed to do. I realized that I needed to go on this adventure just to stretch my wings; I needed to get away from what I’d known and make my own decisions for once. I needed to be free. But most of all, I needed to go on this adventure for me, just to prove to myself just what I was capable of. I needed to get away from my parents so I could discover who I was and define myself for myself, not define myself by who my parents thought I should be.

I had made something amazing happen, I had made my dream come true. I’d had the power within me to make this happen. Although my parents hadn’t supported it at first, I finally convinced them that I was right and they should let me do it.

Here I was, living my dream, and that was a good bit of proof to me that what Captain Holden said was true. I could make amazing things happen when I believed in myself.

The sky was now completely dark, and we sat there in silence looking at the stars for a while. The ocean waves lapped gently against the hull of the ship.

Little did we know that at this time, a tiny crack in the hull caused by floating debris was beginning to leak. There was, at this point, around an inch of water in the engine room.

Captain Holden stretched and stood up.

Well, we should probably be going to bed now. We’ve got to get an early start tomorrow.”

At this point, Captain Holden and I said goodnight, and he went downstairs to go to his bed. As Captain Holden frequently took charter customers on overnight cruises, there were several other cabins below deck besides his, but I had elected to sleep out under the stars rather than in a cabin.

I stood up and went down into the spare cabin where Captain Holden had put my sleeping bag and pillow. While I was below deck, I also refilled my canteen.

I brought these items up onto the deck and undid the strap on my sleeping bag, unrolling it onto the deck. I put my pillow at the top of my sleeping bag and put my canteen in my duffel, which was to my left.

Still wearing the clothes I’d worn that day, l laid down on the cool nylon of the sleeping bag and got inside of it, leaving it unzipped, as it was still around seventy degrees out. The sky seemed to be a beautiful, endless abyss, just like the ocean was. The stars twinkled above me, reminding me of fish swimming in the sea, and it was the perfect vision of peace. I just felt so happy inside that I couldn’t describe it.

Exhausted from the excitement from the day, I closed my eyes and fell asleep almost immediately.

It seemed like only minutes later, but was really around an hour later, when I heard a shout and bolted upright in bed.

Captain Holden burst from the cabin of the ship and onto the deck.

Tami, the ship is sinking! The hull is filling with water, and we’re going down fast!”

Fear coursed through me, and immediately, I was fully awake.

I jumped up, grabbing the handle of my duffel bag and slinging it over my shoulder.

Here, put this life jacket on. Quickly!” He shouted, panic filling his usually calm voice.

I put the life jacket on in a rush, my brain barely comprehending exactly what was happening. Everything that was happening was so abrupt and shocking that it all seemed like a dream.

Suddenly, the force of his words truly hit me.

We were sinking. We were far from shore, and in a matter of minutes, this boat would be completely submerged.

A chill ran down my spine, and I began to panic. I tried to breathe deeply, tried to remember what a person is supposed to do in the case of a shipwreck, but my mind was a mess, and I couldn’t seem to think straight. Fear was engulfing me too deeply to do any rational thinking.

Captain Holden rushed around the boat, hurrying towards the wheelhouse to radio for help, but he was too late.

The boat’s hull had filled with so much water that it simply couldn’t stay afloat any longer. I was near the edge of the boat and Captain Holden was in the wheelhouse when the boat lurched violently to the side.

Jump! Jump down! Jump clear of it!” Captain Holden screamed. Even from where I stood, I could see the look of utter terror in his eyes.

Blindly following his instructions, I jumped over the side of the boat, still clutching my duffel bag.

I hit the water harder than I thought I would, and this knocked the wind out of me and stung my skin. All I could hear was the sound of my heart pounding in my ears and the bubbles rushing through the waves around me. All I could feel was the ocean surrounding me like a suffocating abyss.

 

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Ashlee Craft – Dancing in the Sunlight – Poetry Book Sample

Dancing in the Sunlight copy

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Suddenly

suddenly it all seems so clear

how to face the things I’ve feared

how to understand that life

is about happiness

not misery & strife

& any of us can live in the light

if it is the sky we seek to kiss

suddenly it all makes sense

how to break down the binding fence

climbing it is a street we must cross

how to understand that freedom

is not something that has a cost

but without it, we’re lost

free is something you must become

suddenly I see & understand

the shooting stars of dreams in my hand

free yourself if you’re confined

learn to break the iron bars

& I’ll always be here to remind

you that nothing can ever define you

you must soar amongst the stars

Epiphany / Sudden Understanding

eleven thirty one & nine fourteen / night time & darkness & the familiar comforts of music caressing of a soft hand in my own & looking around at the darkened room with the purple glow surrounding all of it / looking looking looking around & suddenly the understanding I’ve sought for years hits me right then & there

I had stood with my back to the wind & my face to the sun, basked in the light on decks of ships & hid amongst paperwork in the office / I’d painted the silver canvases & played the golden harps & stood & tried to make friends (not succeeding yet but still trying, there just doesn’t seem to be many opportunities in this field) & tried to find love & realizing a variety of things & discovering what I truly needed / I thought I needed certain people for certain things but when I looked around I didn’t see any that fit / I thought I needed a job / but then I looked around at the metaphorical hamster wheels with rat-race runners dancing upon them & gazed into their monotonous monotonous monosyllabic eyes & watched them numbly completing their work with their dead dreams & wasted wasted time & I knew I could never be happy there / I thought I needed transportation to find these people & these monotones but I soon realized that wasn’t for me either / I tried all the glory & everything but no matter how far I ran, it seemed like I was always standing in the same place

but suddenly it occurred to me what I needed

what I truly wanted

I wanted to be big

I wanted to do something big

something above & beyond what everyone else I knew was doing

in their daily monotone routines

in their simplistic boundaries

I wanted to do something amazing

above & beyond that

above & beyond what others expected I’d do

above & beyond my own expectations for myself

I wanted to prove to the world

& to myself

just what I could do if I tried

Simple / Dance on the Triangle

maniacal magistrates striking midnight beneath the mottled cover of mistaken streetlamps & the forbidden alleyways & itching for the plastic click clack keyboards & gesturing towards the aisles of seaweed wrought with the irons of tomorrow / the speaker stands on the beat box podium & speaks into the opinionated ministrations & the clocks going backwards in shock & showing me the darkness & the lightness of the past & looking into the yarn stories of old apartment tenements & the tenants of new & different illustrations embossed in gold ink with the silver suppleness of the sparkling cloth mango & peach & lime tree slips of paper & plastic numbers blinking & flashing / the car street lights reflecting on greasy pavement & photos in newspapers protesting the use of copy written sonatas & serenading the text box smiles & the flimsy paper masks & marks of pride worn deep upon their breasts bearing the sign signifying that they too have fallen into monochromatic tones & they’ve been absorbed by airplane annoyances & angry flashes of fire & flames meeting & illuminated by the conference calling the trespassers that will soon be arrested for carrying gallon jugs of water of pastures of gold & the fastest & the obsessive points fraternizing with the dancers upon the floor & being thrown into the cold snow false realities & machine marginal camera stand photocopies of stereographic lexicon metropolis palindrome metamorphosis of the metaphorical butterflies golden & yellow & shining landing on top of the majestic purple mountains & rows of sunflower tents, arrowhead dancers drinking up the silver silence & returning returning returning safely home

You’ll Never Change the Way I Feel

for so long I hid away & never said all the things I wanted to say / things would come to my mind but I’d fear if I let them out thru the iron gates you’d only say something that would make me regret it / I just feared that you’d disagree or say something that would embarrass me, like asking how could I like such a thing or how you always disliked it / & I’d feel bad about it / my instant reaction to any opinion formed in my mind was thick scrutiny of what others would think / what would everyone I know think about it / what would the world think / what would I think / & I just couldn’t accept the fact that I liked what I liked & believed what I believed / so I lived a lie & tried to convince myself that I thought otherwise

you’ll like it once you try it, you claim / once you learn, once you get out there & start doing it / but I knew otherwise / it’ll be fun / you said / I wanted to say no but instead I kept to myself & just agreed with you & pretended that I wanted to & that I agreed with their disillusions of reality they’d planned for me

but one day it occurred to me that I didn’t want all those things / I just wanted to like what I liked & feel how I felt & believe what I believed / I didn’t want to worry about what you’d think / no / I wasn’t going to worry about what you thought or what another person thought or they or them or anyone else / why should I let other’s opinions define my own?

& with that sudden burst of freedom it occurred to me that I was my own person & I would no longer be defined by others / I would define myself

The Small Things

I realized / while sitting in the sunlight feeling it warming my back & feeling the warmth of it on my face & the breeze blowing thru my hair & watching my dog roll around in pure happiness / that perhaps there was something more / something I had been missing / sometimes I’d see a glimpse or a ghost shadow of it but I never truly saw it

I was too busy looking straight ahead, looking towards the big picture that I didn’t see that the big picture was made up of tiny dots of color painted by fairy bristles, didn’t see that the big joys were all made up of little joys

I could sit there looking at the big picture & seeing what I wanted to be & seeing the big things that I was really looking forwards to, or I could look at the little things – the little joys / & realize that I was successful / & realize that I’d always had everything I thought I lacked

I could open my eyes / & see all the little beautiful things / I could open my eyes / & see myself reflecting back in the green triangle / the smallest things / make up the bigger things / each moment / completes up my dreams

Never Give Up

never give up

you never know just how close

you may be

to your dreams

once I read a story

about a man

who hunted for treasure

so he went out

& found a treasure map

& an island where gold was said to be found

he searched & searched

& dug & dug

& still he couldn’t find the gold

so he gave up

& moved on, declaring the island a failure

& gave his treasure map up

well, the next man who ended up with the map

continued on the search

& three feet from where the first man stopped

digging

& gave up

the gold was found

lots of gold

more than he could ever have imagined

& I remind myself of this story

whenever I fear that nothing is happening

& that nothing will happen

or that my dreams won’t work out

I think about this man

& know I must never give up

for I know that if I ever quit

ever said goodbye to my dreams

my dreams may have been only feet away

I could have been that close

my dreams could be that close right now

& so I will always persevere

I will never give up

Desert Rose

pink & gold & orange & red like a sunset & holding onto the sun as it sets & swirls round the world for another go tomorrow & the last glow of the moon remaining in the early morning skies & wondering why as we drive thru the countrysides & deserts & over rickety bridges & under canyons of golden poetry & words struck by the flint of lightning & sparking into the skies & lighting the stars at night & flashing flares into the foaming form of desert desirous designs / designated by the floatation furnishing of fern-leaf formations, flooding out into the floodgate tapestries / trying / trying / & blooming despite the lack of rain

blooming blooming blooming blooming

oh, rose of the desert

how you shine

(c) 2012 Ashlee Craft

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New Life, New Day Poetry Book Sample

New Life New Day

 

 

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Before the New Life

 

reaching backwards towards the past –

 

you must end one chapter

before you can begin the next

 

the butterfly must shed the caterpillar’s skin

before it can fly

 

the sun must set

before it can rise again

 

the night must end

before the day begins

 

the fear must leave

before potential can enter

 

the seed must grow

before the blooms appear

 

you must leave the past behind

before you can embrace the future

 

& I, like the sunshine, must move on

  • take a step forwards

before the new life can begin

New

watching the sunrise for the very first time / & freeing the souls captured in the night / I watched the first drops of rain splatter on the dry cracked earth

the dove above me calls / buzzing sound of traffic in the city distance / I feel the beating of the wings of the green dragonfly matching the beating of my heart / looking into the cloudless blue sky another dove joins in harmony flying free amongst the clouds / as I set out to contemplate what is meant to be

the trees rustle their arms in the distance cheering for the breeze to rush by them invigorating & true / safe & sound wrapped up in their warm embraces covered by the sacredness of earth safe safe safe gentle amongst my sisters & brothers / blanketed by the sun but shaded by the trees reverently I regard the spectacle of discovering the destiny of life & friendship / happiness surrounding me, conducting the orchestra of the meadows / flowers dancing in time with the breeze

& I dance with them

Sunrise

waking up to the golden glow of

morning shining &

sparkling

thru my curtains

a brand new day

it’s just the

beginning

eyes bleary & half-closed

in the sacred moments

after a good dream has ended

& you haven’t fully

remembered

reality yet

parting the heaviness of the

blinds & squinting

at the bright fresh morning

the sun

a golden yellow ball

clouds surrounding it

reflecting back the colors

thru the mist upon the glass

opening the window

exhilarated exhilarating

breathing in a full breath

of fresh misty morning air

the day is so filled with

promises

& possibilities

it’s a canvas just waiting to be painted

& you are the artist

paint the morning

with all of your favorite colors

– you are the artist

Build Your Parachute On the Way Down

divest in the dangling & daring adventures & throw the ship out & away from the safe harbor & build your parachute on the way down / do not be afraid to fly / divert your believing eyes into the magical light of the sun’s rays hugging you close / the warm cloak of night like a tent blanket to keep you safe & warm / the new life awaits you / do not be afraid to face it / do not be afraid to fly

the sun doesn’t hesitate to rise on the horizon / the stars don’t hesitate to shine in the sky / the breeze doesn’t hesitate to blow thru the meadows / the flowers don’t hesitate to bloom in the spring / the rain doesn’t wait to fall upon the ground / the shooting stars don’t wait to soar / what are you waiting for?

dance in the delightful deluge of happiness like a monsoon, marvelous & majestic & magical / the royal blue & gray mountains are behind you / you’ve reached the top on your own / you’ve made it to the sacred warmth of the forest once again / but it is time to journey out / & everything will be so easy for you, so beautiful, so wonderful, that it will seem as though it was touched by a golden hand & sprinkled with magic fairy dust / the world will sparkle & shine & everything will align itself perfectly to let you walk thru & experience each beautiful moment in full life color / the stars will dance with you / the music in the air will suddenly reveal itself to you / the moment that you realize that your life will only be as easy or as hard as you want it to be / the moment that you realize that happiness is your decision and you are only as happy as you choose to be / your soul will dance free on the beaches of fine crystal sands near the shimming blue sea the moment that you realize everything is possible

but you have to take the first step / you can’t just sit there & expect things to happen & dreams to come true / sure, you might be afraid to take the plunge / you may be afraid to take the first step, speak the first word, make the first move / but sometimes you just have to jump & build your wings on the way down / sometimes, you just have to fly

Shedding My Cocoon

hiding in the deep dark warmth

cuddled around myself

thinking deep thoughts & breathing slowly

eyes clamped shut against the darkness around me

certain sense of urgency & expectations

like something amazing is about to happen

& somehow I know that the time has come

the time has come to stop this hesitation

the time has come to stop these reservations

the time has come to open my eyes

the time has come to fly

suddenly I hear a sound

a loud sound surrounding me

& the ground beneath me seems to be falling

& I open my eyes to see a glimmer of light thru a crack

in the cocoon

I know it’s time for me to be free

fresh air enters my nostrils

invigorating me as I push towards the opening

& fall out onto the branch below me

in the bright brilliant glorious sunlight

of a brand new day

sitting there blinking & trying to get used to the

sunlight once again as it glints in my eyes so used

to the darkness

I smile

I smile

I smile

knowing that my time to shine has come at last

I try to lift my wings

but they’re a little damp still & don’t do anything

so I sit & contemplate the beauty & the magic of the day

& watch as leaves float from tree branches

in the humid stale marvelous summer afternoon air

in perfect peace

in perfection

my wings are dried

but I’m afraid

afraid that when I try to fly

I’ll fall to the ground

afraid that something will go wrong

or that my rainbow wings won’t work right

afraid that when I fly

it won’t be as amazing as I imagined it would be

afraid of being disappointed

afraid of failing

but the only true failure would be to give up

& only with giving up would I be disappointed

so I must spread my wings

& try

for the time has come to stop this hesitation

& the time has come to stop these reservations

the time has come to open my eyes

the time has come to fly

I spread my wings & flap them in their clumsy newness

& let go of the safe hold on the tree

soaring up into the sunlight

every color in the world reflecting from me

my heart is soaring even higher

& it touches the stars above

it’s even better than I dreamed it would be

it’s even better than I imagined

flying

I’m finally flying

flying towards my destiny

I’m soaring thru the air

finally free

because I took a chance

spread my wings

& soared

 

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A Thousand Cranes – Volume 1 Sample

A Thousand Cranes

 

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A Thousand Cranes

a thousand cranes / a thousand cranes of paper flying in a giant rippling cloud high in the sky / setting out to find their own ways

She, the artistpoet, once took a thousand sheets of paper & placed them on the old oak table, & in the warm lighting of deep afternoon where tiny particles of dust caught the light like a thousand prisms sparkling in the air, folded a thousand paper cranes / taking her time to make each one perfect / putting her heart & soul & love into her work, making each sheet of paper come alive with every fold / & when the cranes were finished, she released them into the world & let them fly free / releasing them so they could do what they had to do

the cranes flew off in the world to make their own fortune & find their own way / circling around the equator & to the countries & oceans & forests & houses & cities, making their way & fluttering thru the skies causing all who saw them to smile / making the people who saw them feel / helping the people who saw them to understand their feelings a little better / making the people who saw them remember what it was like, remember why they began in the first place / making them remember why they had to keep trying / making them notice just a little more of the beauty in the world / showing them the magic

the cranes enjoyed their freedom / soaring & dancing & diving & fluttering all over the world / but one day the cranes longed to go back to the artistpoet / they missed her / she had brought them to life / she had given them so much / she had given them their Dreams / she had given them the chance to fly / it was time they did the same for her / it was time for them to return

the white cranes gathered together & flew as a cloud once again overhead moving on towards the artistpoet’s house in the dark / searching thru alleyways in the big lonely city / & finally there, finding the receiver of the Dream / their artistpoet, creator of beauty in the world & the one who, with every word she spoke, with every brush stroke on canvas, with every smile she gave, the world becomes a little more beautiful / the artistpoet sleeping in the alleyway covered in a blanket of painter’s canvas & old clothes made from ragged poetry / sleeping gently in the light of the moon

& the cranes softly softly softly land surrounding in a circle the artistpoet who continues sleeping unaware of their presence / she stirs a little when the last crane lands but remains in dreamland / the cranes with their bright eyes regarding her with love / waiting no longer

& at that moment the cranes bestowed their gift upon her / the gift of Dreams / the same gift she’d given them years ago when she’d created them / she’d given them the gift of Life / she had taken sheets of paper & constructed them into beautiful things / she had made something magical out of nothing / she had sent beauty out into the world / & now her cranes looked upon her smiling at her softly / bestowing upon her The Dream & everything she’d need to be able to go after her Dream / strength hope optimism happiness determination & most of all Courage

the cranes filled the whole alleyway & were illuminated brightly by the moonlight seeming to glow in the darkness & forming a protective circle around their artistpoet

at that moment, the Dream now belonged to her & she woke up, sitting up quickly & heart pounding fast / seeing surrounding her the thousand cranes she’d created but they had blossomed in their absence & had grown with each day & now were Real Cranes / they sat, eyes looking into eyes, silence filling the alleyway & the still air surrounding them / silence quivering as if waiting for something

the artistpoet felt different than she had in a long time / she felt ecstatic / she felt Possible / she felt stonger than ever before in her life as she regarded the beauty she’d created in the world / her works of art had come back to her, come back to her to bestow upon her the love she’d imbued into each fold / & at that moment she felt the purest love rising inside her for the love they were giving back to her / & she uttered softly “Thank You”

the first crane she’d folded slowly approached & reached out its neck to her / she touched it feeling a spark that could only be described as Magic / & then she gently climbed onto its back & the cranes took off as one fluttering glittering gossamer cloud / they flew & circled round in the night near the moon & the artistpoet touched one of the sparkling stars & stardust sprinkled down upon her shoulders / flying flying flying onwards as a huge cloud of Possible / & when daylight neared the cranes brought her back to the alleyway & set her down gently upon the pavement in the alleyway

she looked to the cranes looked deep into their eyes / & she thanked them again, knowing that whenever she needed them again, they’d be waiting for her to bestow upon her once more The Dream & remind her of why she’d begun in the first place

Infusions of Innocent Stories

infusions of innocence, stories & silence written upon the blank pages of paper, written out desires & questions brewing behind the surfaces of treasured coves of golden waters / yearning & sitting on the edge of the ocean, feet dangling into the water & remembering remembrances into the deep blue sea & looking up at the sky, sun upon your face & the seabreeze upon your face / closing your eyes & picturing the next words, reopening them to record them forever on the paper / writing / but midway thru, realizing that the story isn’t going the way you want it to go / it’s all wrong & you realize it’s not what you want, but what other people want you to want / it’s not you & you know it, realizing it suddenly midway thru the novel you’re writing upon the shadows of paper / & right then & there, you stop & the story turns around / you write the next sentence of the new beginning / you smile to yourself & write this new story, looking back briefly upon the old story & seeing how the scenes fit in with the new story, but not letting the original direction determine the ending of the story / & upon the seashore as you write your story, you see the answers between your book & real life, & suddenly you find the answers you sought

A Meshing of Sounds

sounds swirling around

coming from the old record player

sitting on the dusty floor

of the old attic

& hearing from the downstairs

the sound of rock music

played loudly from someone’s bedroom speakers

boom-boom-boom of bass & pounding of drums

& then down the street

hearing the sound coming in faintly

thru the opened window

the solo choir singer practicing in her bedroom

& me standing in the dusty attic

with the old record player on the floor

warm sound of vinyl & the soulful rock below & crisp clear vocals

blend together

with the makeshift rhapsodic melody

of perfection

Floral Surprise

reaching out empty handed

away from the past

the soft pillow which I’ve rested my head on many times

when the time itself proved to filled with boredom

& I was sleepy from the tiring way things were

but getting up at the ring of the alarm clock

jumping out of bed & hurrying towards the window

where the bright sacred yellow glow

of the sunrise was just shining in

basking in the light

looking out the window & into the busy happy street

& seeing the bright surprise of flowers

blooming in the windowbox

That Person

yesterday I was sitting there

questioning & wondering as my mind wandered

that person that I always wanted to be

one of those intensely passionate people

who know where they’re going in life

who can be anything & do anything

who believes in themself unconditionally

who trusts that there is always a way

vows to find a way, & if there’s not, makes one

the one who’s always happy

the one with the perfect life

the person I’ve always wanted to be

what if I already am that person?

what if I’ve always been

but it just took me until now to see that?

Raindrops in Tree Hollows

raindrops dripping from soaked leaves into the deep dark hollows of trees hidden from the light / meshings of magical escapes played out amongst traffic lights of freshly lit candles & sitting on the edge of the porch in the rainstorm, watching the rain drip drip drip down & smiling / the gentle sound of rain falling & splashing against the tin roof of my house, beautiful melodic music drifting downwards to me, & the melody of raindrops in that tree hollow echoing & reverberating throughout the darkened sky / absolute magnitude of freshly mown grass & fruits of your labors laid out of the heavy wooden table & vases of flowers laid out in the sunlightt / trees sprouting upwards in the rain & the smell of fresh rain fresh rain / metropolitan messages scrawled out on suburban subway corridors, writing in dark ink & remaining basking in this darkness of hidden poetry waiting for the beautiful eye of look upon it & make some meaning of it / trusting in the silver medallion of great things & smiling at the turning of the clock’s hands, written & writing down with the passage of time, new memories as the rain drops drip drop ticking off seconds of time but delving into them delicious beauty / rhythm of raindrops amongst the trees & soaking the ground / & then me going back inside to the warm safeness & solitude of my bed / falling asleep to the sound of raindrops mingling with Jazz

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Paper Soul – Sample Chapter

Paper Soul

 

Kindle Edition

Paperback

 

1942

In the dusty room, the elderly man with the white beard, soft wrinkled skin, and small round glasses sat. It was late afternoon. The warm lighting bounced off the dust floating in the air, casting a brilliant glow around the room. The man sat at the wooden chair that he’d built himself, when he was twenty years younger, and in front of him on the thick oak table he’d also built, was his typewriter.

He adjusted the glasses upon his Roman nose. They were sliding down slightly as they frequently did. The air around him was still and silent, and the atmosphere was one of something sacred being about to happen, as though life itself were holding its breath, waiting for the birth of something outstanding.

The man took a deep breath. He slowly moved his wrinkled hands over the surface of the typewriter, resting them gently upon its keys. A stack of paper was nearby waiting to replenish the paper in the typewriter when it ran out.

The time had come for him to write his story. The story he’d wanted to write his entire life, the story which had been blooming inside him all those years. The story that, for so long, he didn’t feel ready to write.

But now, he knew it was time. Time to write these sacred words. Time for this story, these words, to be freed. It beat its wings inside his chest and soul like a caged dove just about to be set free. The words shone brighter than the sunlight illuminating the room, and the man felt as though his soul had been ignited by the most beautiful thing which exists in this world, or any other. Love. He was alight with the ineffable profundity of what he was about to do.

Then, this moment of hesitation was over. He let his breath out, and the moment was frozen in silent. There were sparks in his fingertips.

It was time for this story to be brought to life.

It was time.

The man gently pressed his finger upon the keys of the typewriter.

The words “Chapter 1” appeared on the page, as if by magic. But it wasn’t by Magic; it was Love, and perhaps, they were both the same thing.

The rhapsodic sound of the keys clacking filled the otherwise silent room. Had you been there in that moment, you would have only heard this sound, the sound of the man’s breathing, and the deafening music of silence. All you would have smelled would be the scent of old paper, the faint smell of flowers drifting in through the partially open window, and the faint dusty smell of the room.

The man held his breath once more. A feeling inside of him, a feeling he couldn’t quite describe, filled him right up and seemed to electrify his very fingers. He felt a sudden thrill, like he was on the verge of something great and it was just the beginning. It was the feeling of something beautiful being born into this world.

He typed the first sentence of the story. It was almost as if he were waiting to see what would happen.

There once lived a boy who wanted more than anything to be happy. Once there was a girl who lived next door to him and wanted the same thing.

The keys once more rang out through the room, and the man paused. The feeling inside him was ineffable, inexpressible, sacred; one of those feelings which, if described or analyzed too closely, loses all meaning. You have to have felt it before to know it. It is the feeling of something Special.

The man typed a few more sentences. He heard the faint sounds of children playing out in the streets, and the sound of quiet sirens in the distance.

He typed the next sentence, then the next, reveling in the sound of the keys and the way the dust was sparkling in the sunlight where the sunbeams fell through his windows. It was just him, the typewriter, his words, the smell of old paper, and the settling dust of days gone past.

The man seemed to caress the keys as he typed, handling them gently, as though he were handling a newborn baby. In a way, he was.

To him, his books were like his children. Henry felt a twinge of sorrow inside him upon thinking this. When he was younger, he’d wanted to have a large, happy family. Many years ago, he’d gotten his wish in a way, but it hadn’t turned out the way he thought it would. For a brief time, he’d had a son, and the beautiful, evanescent Emily.

He paused in his typing, his mind filling with thoughts of dear Emily. A bird landed on a tree near his window and sang, sweet notes of music drifting up into the sky and touching the clouds.

Henry could still see Emily, wearing her floor-length white gown and high heeled shoes, walking through the party and smiling at him. She wore a strand of pearls around her neck, and pearl earrings shone from her earlobes. Her light hair was drawn up into a bun, and her blue eyes sparkled at Henry Walden, the man who now sat in this room and reflected.

She had approached him, making small talk about the party, and he’d replied. He was almost made speechless by Emily’s beauty, her grace, and her kindness. It was everything he’d ever wanted in a woman, and much more. Yet, he didn’t feel like it was really happening. He felt like it couldn’t be happening. This beautiful woman couldn’t be coyly flirting with him. He didn’t feel like he deserved someone like her, and yet she was still speaking to him and smiling at him as though this conversation really meant something to her. He was just an author trying to make it in the world, and she was a popular socialite. But yet, despite all odds, she was speaking to him.

And as she was speaking to him, he was falling deeply, deeply in love with her.

They spoke for over an hour; eventually, it became time for Emily to go back home. Before departing, she gave Henry her phone number and told him to please call.

The next day, Henry called her, and they arranged a date at a local restaurant.

Over the next few months, the two of them fell very much in love with each other. Emily’s rich parents didn’t approve of him. “Marry someone equal to you, not that author that no one ever reads.” Her parents told her. But she did not listen. For she loved Henry truly and completely, with all her heart.

The day Henry asked if she would marry him was the happiest day in Emily’s life.

Henry remembered walking down the aisle with Emily, remembered seeing the look in her eyes, sparkling with tears, as she thought of the new and beautiful life that they would have together. She looked at him with an expression of utter love, and she had never looked more beautiful to Henry than she did in that moment.

When they said their vows and kissed, neither of them had ever experienced a greater joy than that.

Henry and Emily spent several happy years together. They had a child, a little boy named Jeremy. Seven pounds, three ounces. Blonde hair just like his mother. Large blue eyes to see the world with.

Henry ended up becoming a lawyer and got a good job. He put away his dream of being a writer, at least for a little while. Henry now had a family to support; he could no longer focus on his childish dream, could no longer believe that he, of all people, could become an author. The law firm paid him well, and with this money, he bought a large house in the suburbs for his family. Every morning, Henry would wake up and go to work. Every evening, he’d spend happy hours listening to the radio with his family. Friends frequently came over and dined with them, and every Sunday, Henry and his family would go to church. The American dream, personified. Everything seemed to go perfectly for them, and their friends always commented on their good fortune, or questioned how they managed to stay so happy after six years of marriage.

To this, they would just smile and look at each other, appearing to their friends as the perfect loving couple.

But behind the scenes, things weren’t as pretty as they looked from the outside.

Henry was an alcoholic. In their sixth year of marriage, he developed this habit. In his mind, this was due to Emily, who constantly got on his case and complained to him, or perhaps it was because he’d lost too many cases at the law firm recently. He sought solace in his drinking. It was the only thing that provided him relief from the stress of his everyday life.

After work, he’d come home and immediately rush towards the cupboard where he kept his liquor. He would proceed to drink himself into a stupor. Some nights, he would still listen to the radio with his family, but he’d do so drunk. He’d get angry at his family and shout at them, sometimes knocking over a chair in his rage. Emily was not the woman she’d been when he’d met her, or at least who she appeared to be then. She was self-centered, manipulating, and nagged on Henry as if there were no tomorrow. All of this caused Henry to delve deeper into drink, just so that he could drown his life out.

Finally, Emily couldn’t take this any longer and divorced him, taking Jeremy with her and moving in with her parents. They welcomed her back with open arms, telling her they never thought Henry was right for her, and that she never should have married him.

Henry was left all alone in the big house, all alone with his drink and the anguished memories of what his family once had been. The radio in the corner of the living room remained there to remind him of what he had lost.

Not able to take it anymore, Henry sold the house and moved to a small house on the other side of town, and he had lived there ever since then, for the past forty years. For forty years, he’d spent a majority of his time in the dusty room that he sat in now.

As for Emily and Jeremy, he never knew what happened to them. They never contacted him again, and despite his efforts to get back in contact with them, he never could reach them.

Had he been able to contact them, he would have learned that Emily had remarried the man who she had known in high school, and that Jeremy, only five when Emily left Henry, had come to hate his father, mostly on his mother’s accord. Jeremy had few memories of his father, and most of the things he remembered regarded his father being drunk. Because of this, Jeremy had no wish to see him ever again. Had Henry been able to find his family again, he would have also learned that Jeremy had a son of his own, a son who was now almost twenty.

Henry took a deep breath and went back to the story he was writing, and as he did, he asked himself exactly what he wanted this story to be like. He was no stranger to pain; many times in his life, pain had been the only thing he was capable of feeling. Pain had been his sole companion during many lonesome nights. Pain had been a leading theme in his life, but all the same, he didn’t want this story to be a sad one. The was The Story. The Story that he’d had inside him for all his life, a story born from his own experiences, a story born deep down inside of his soul. He was getting old and he wanted to get this story written before it was too late. Henry was well aware that this may be his last book. Because of this, he needed to make it special, to make it better, and more importantly, even more honest than anything he’d ever written before..

This book was literally a blank canvas waiting to be created. How the story ended was entirely up to him. While he hadn’t been able to influence his life to be exactly as he’d wanted it to be, he could influence this story. He could live out his dreams within this story, and finally face the sorrows and mistakes he’d made. With this story, he could finally make things right.

He typed faster, deciding upon the themes this book would contain. He wanted to make it a book for everyone, wanted to inspire others in a way he himself had never been inspired. He despised the fact that he still lived in this rundown shack, that he’d never been able to let go of the past. But yet, he was at peace with himself. After all he’d been through, he was finally happy. He had survived through everything he’d lost. He’d found the strength to give up drinking forever. He’d fought through things that would destroy many people.

He wanted others to know that life goes on, that there’s always hope, that if you keep trying and never give up, things can be okay in the end. That despite all odds, despite all the pain you might feel, you can be happy. He had made many mistakes in his life. Things hadn’t worked out fine for him, but yet, he wanted things to work out fine for others. If he could not give his own child love, maybe he could inspire someone else to have love for their child. If he could not change his life, maybe his words could inspire someone to change theirs. If he could inspire just one person with this book, maybe his life wouldn’t be a complete waste. If just one person was inspired by this story, then it would be more than worth writing, and Henry would have accomplished more than he could have dreamed of.

He wanted this book to be radiant.

He wanted his words to be a friend for the friendless, and hope for the hopeless.

The room was now growing dark. Henry tugged the chain hanging down from the ceiling to turn on the single dangling light bulb and illuminate the words upon the page. He pushed his glasses up on his nose and continued typing.

What did he want this book to be about?

Henry typed quickly, filling the book with everything he could think of. Love, great soaring love. Love that lasted forever. And pain. Pain, pain that tore you apart and ripped your very soul from you. Then healing. Healing, like cool water washing over your skin after you’ve been out in the hot sun, like a drink of water given to someone who has been in the desert dying of thirst. Adventure, the kind of adventure that Henry had never had. And Hope. Lots of Hope. Hope that things could get better, that things could and would be okay, that somehow and someway, there was good in the world, and that there was always way out. Hope that there was a way to find what you needed at the time when you needed it most.

Henry thought back upon his struggle with drink. After Emily left, he drowned himself even further in it. Drowned himself so far into it that he thought he might never make his way out. Drowned himself in it so far that he didn’t want to find a way out. He just wanted it all to end.

One day though, he realized he couldn’t do this anymore. He simply could not. He didn’t know why he could no longer do it, but he just couldn’t. If he didn’t change something, he wouldn’t be able to stop himself from drowning much longer. If he didn’t change, he was going to end up killing himself sooner or later. There was just no more hope.

But he was wrong in thinking that hope no longer existed. For it was in his darkest hour that it suddenly dawned upon him that things could change, that things didn’t have to be this dark. It was in that moment he realized he could keep going, and so, he opened the curtains and finally felt sunlight, really felt it on his skin, for the first time in years. He believed in himself once more.

But he couldn’t do this alone, so Henry sought help. He went in for treatment for his alcoholism and emerged a changed man.

Sometimes, he’d felt the urge to go back to drink. Sometimes, when things seemed their bleakest and darkest, he’d almost reach for the bottle at the store, almost place it in his cart and purchase it. But when he thought about the moment when he decided to win over his addiction, he’d put the bottle back on the shelf and leave it there, hurrying back home without any alcohol, thankful that he’d decided not to buy it.

This book was a story of Everything and Everyone, but underneath of all that, it was the story of Henry Walden. Within each word, within each metaphor and letter upon the page, Henry was undeniably woven into the threads which the book consisted of. The book became him, and in each word, he left a little bit of himself behind. This story was Henry’s hope for the world. It was Henry’s message, the message that he wished he could have heard during those dark times. And now, he was sharing it with the world.

It was Henry’s Dream.

After all he’d been through, it was his dream that someday he could inspire others. It was his dream that someday, he’d be able to inspire others in the way that he always wished someone would have inspired him in. It was his dream that he could do something which would matter.

He’d been an avid reader his entire life. This, he figured, had started prior to his birth, when his parents had decided upon the name Henry Walden, in honor of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. As a child, Henry grew up in a house full of books, and every day after dinner his parents would read to him and his siblings. He had three brothers and two sisters, none of which were alive now. He’d tried being an author after he graduated from high school, every day writing on the typewriter in his room. He’d held this dream for many years, until his marriage to Emily and the birth of Jeremy forced him to seek more reliable employment.

Henry had also stopped reading around the time he married. He didn’t think much of it for several years, and it wasn’t for quite a while that he realized just how much he missed it.

Henry remembered the first time he’d picked up a book after Emily left. It was around six months after the day she’d moved out and taken Jeremy with her. Henry had found himself deeply tired of life, found that his life had no meaning any longer. His drink, which had once been his companion, his technique to drown out everything he could not change, was quickly becoming his enemy, and he hated it. This was his darkest hour. This was the hour when everything changed.

In the middle of the night, he had been lying in bed. Henry was already reasonably drunk, and was about to drink even more. Maybe this time, he wouldn’t wake up the next day.

When he reached for his bottle of liquor, his hand knocked it to the floor, and he bent over to pick it up. He’d reached around on the floor seeking the vodka bottle, and his hand suddenly touched the cover of the book he’d put under his bed years ago.

Henry picked up the book, caressing its cover. He suddenly felt a spark of excitement, something he hadn’t felt in many, many years. Having nothing better to do, he picked up the book and began reading it. At least it would take his mind off his pain.

From the first sentence onwards, he was transported to a world he hadn’t remembered existed, and here, he found the solace he had craved. It filled and consumed him, fulfilling him as drink had stopped doing long ago. It was the most comforting thing that he’d ever known.

Henry read the entire book that night. Shortly after the sun rose the next day, he shut the book, feeling ineffably inspired.

It was at that moment that he decided he wanted to be happy, that he wanted to heal. He wanted to heal so that he could become an author.

He had nothing but a dream and a little hope, but that was enough.

After he overcame his alcoholism, he wrote many books, some reasonably successful, others not. He’d wrote about many things – love stories, mysteries, dramas – but he never wrote The Book. The Book was the story he had wanted to write the day he decided to heal. He’d procrastinated writing it, making some excuse or another, thinking that when he was older, he’d know everything he wanted to say.

But now he was finally ready.

Henry was alone in the world, and when you’re alone, books can be your greatest friends. He’d learned this long ago in his room that day, the day that changed everything. Through his treatment for his alcoholism, he read many books, books from his childhood, new books, old classics. He read everything he could get his hands on, because he was now certain that Books had and always would be there for him. When the whole world seemed to have abandoned him, leaving him all alone to die upon the roadside, Books had been there. When he was trying his best to heal, books had been there. When he wanted nothing more than to disappear forever, or was overtaken by a storm of anger and regret and sorrow, or when he experienced his highest highs and greatest joys, Books had been there for him. And they always would be.

He felt that, by writing The Book, he was repaying the literary world for everything that it had given him. This book was his homage, his most heartfelt thank you, to the friends that had been there when no one else had.

Henry typed away, his fingers flying like lightning over the keys. When he finally became too exhausted to continue typing, he crawled into bed and fell asleep. The next morning when he awoke, he had a quick breakfast and began typing as soon as he could, as if his writing were the oxygen that he needed to survive. We may reasonably say that, during the period of writing this book, Henry literally lived and breathed writing.

He was finally facing everything that had happened in his life. He was finally facing himself. All his anger, all his sorrow, all his joy, all his hopes and dreams – he was taking them from where he’d buried them inside his soul, and he was releasing them onto the pages like caged doves being released into the sky.

He wrote with a fervor and joy that he’d almost forgotten existed. He wrote with the great hope that he could give back to the books that had been there for him. He wrote endlessly, The Book becoming his own personal message to the world that no matter what happens, no matter how much joy or sadness you experience that there is always hope.

Henry wrote on and on, filling the pages. When he finished the pages, he stacked them next to his typewriter. Every day he followed this same routine of waking and writing and sleeping.

And finally, the magical day arrived when The Book was finished. The birth of something wonderful beyond measure had come to its close, and The Book had been brought to life.

Henry sat in stunned silence one afternoon, three weeks after he began. The lighting was much the same as it had been when he’d begun. The dust in the air was once more illuminated by the afternoon sunlight, and the world was once more silent, holding its breath in expectation.

Henry was typing the last page of The Book. The characters’ stories had come together, all loose ends had been tied, and the characters had finally found what they were looking for. The characters were finally happy.

Henry spaced down two spaces. Time around him seemed to pause. The world was waiting for him.

The Book was almost complete.

He was almost hesitant to write the final words. For when he wrote them, this story would be finished. What more would there be for him after this, after The Book was published?

He did not know, but whatever happened next, he knew he would not be afraid of it.

It was time for the story to come to a close. It was time to stop looking back and start looking forward.

Henry took a deep breath and wrote the final words.

The End

Time seemed to stop there as those words were recorded. The dust seemed to pause where it was in the air, and Henry sat staring at those two significant words for some time, experiencing the joys and sorrows of his past once more. Experiencing The Book.

Finally, he looked away, breathed deeply, gently took the final page from the typewriter, and placed it on top the stack of paper next to his typewriter. He felt a great sense of closure, and a greater joy than he’d ever known before in his life.

The Book was finished.

Henry finally felt at peace with himself. His message to the world had been recorded, and The Book, his Dream, had come to life.

He suddenly found himself thinking of Emily and Jeremy once more, but he now felt a sense of happiness, rather than the stabbing pains of regret, when he thought of them. He now saw them in a new light, one that was filled with acceptance. He couldn’t fix what had happened. He could do nothing to change it, not then, not now. But even without them, he had found peace.

He’d proven Emily wrong. He’d finally proven her wrong. Before she left, she had looked at him with fire in her eyes, and said,

You’ll never amount to anything. You’ll be a damn drunk until the day you die, and by the rate you’re going, that won’t be very long from now.”

Henry had done what she said he could never do. He felt pleased at this, even though he’d forgiven Emily years ago. But there was still a sense of winning in the fact that he had proven her stabbing, hateful words wrong. Forty years later, he was still here, alive and reasonably healthy. But most importantly, he had become Something.

What had Emily become? Often times, he wondered what her life had been like. Had she been happy after she left him? Did she sit there regretting her decision to leave him, or was it the best thing she ever did? Did Jeremy regret that he’d never really got to know his father? If Emily was still alive, did she still wonder about him? Had she ever read any of his books? What would she think if she read them? Would she be inspired? Did she still love him, deep down inside? Did she ever wish things could be different?

Henry shook the questions from his head. He once more felt the peace that everything had worked out fine for him, and that if he his life had been any different, he would not have been able to create the ineffably beautiful Book.

A while later, Henry yawned, suddenly feeling sleepy. Now that The Book was finished, he could make up for the sleep that he lost due to his fervor in writing. The next day, he planned on taking his manuscript to his publisher, where it would be edited and published soon.

Henry climbed into bed, a content smile upon his face.

The Book sat there on the table. The room was now dark and moonlight streamed in through the window. The air was slightly cool, as it was spring. The smell of flowers outside the window still filled the air. The sound of Henry’s quiet breathing and of cars in the street filled the background with a serene music.

The Book felt a sense of awakening, gradually coming to her senses and becoming aware of more and more things that were around her. At first, she was only aware of the silence and the sound of Henry’s breathing, but soon, she became aware of what she could see. The Book looked around at the room and saw Henry’s sleeping form in his bed.

So that’s what that Sound is. She thought to herself.

She felt Surprised. What did Surprised even feel like? It was sort of a happy, thrilled feeling. But what did those things feel like?

Even though she didn’t know what she was feeling, she was Surprised. It sounded like the right word. The characters inside her often felt Surprised when something especially wonderful happened to them, and The Book thought that experiencing her first thought was a big Surprise and that it was something wonderful.

The next thing that occurred to her was that the…thing – a Person – that was laying over there making that sound, he was the one who’d created her and brought her to life.

She was suddenly aware that she was aware, that she was alive and could think and feel. She was suddenly aware that she was Something.

This thought filled her with incredible joy. How amazing it felt to be New and Aware and Alive!

Not every book can come to life. Whether or not they are able to is completely dependent on whether their creator gave them a Soul when they wrote them. Some books lacked Soul. They missed that very important element, and therefore, sat silently on shelves, unaware of their existence or surroundings. But The Book was special. Henry had poured every bit of his energy, his memories, his dreams, and most importantly, all of his Love, into writing the story contained within her pages, and even though The Book was just becoming aware of her existence, she felt that there was something very different and special about it. She felt unique in the world.

As she watched Henry sleeping, her love for him grew. She loved him like both a Mother and a Father, for to her, he was both. He had brought her into this world with a Purpose, a purpose which The Book was only just becoming aware of.

By the time Henry awoke the next day, The Book was aware of everything in the room. She’d come to understand that she was a pile of papers sitting on a desk with a typewriter. She’d learned everything that she’d needed to know from reading what was contained inside her pages, and she was feeling more alive with every moment that passed.

Henry awoke, walked over to her, and smiled. The Book felt her heart fill with so great a love for Henry that she didn’t think she could hold it all inside of her. She felt like she was glowing.

Gently, Henry picked up The Book. She felt a thrill at this, to be touched by the one who had made her Real.

There it was. His precious Book. His dream, made real on paper.

Henry put The Book inside of a cardboard box and sealed it, looking inside at The Book one last time, looking down at her with the look of pure love a parent gives to their child. The look that says, “I am the one who brought you into this world. I made you out of nothing. I created you. I love you, and you are wonderful.” The book felt Happiness upon seeing Henry’s love for her, and she realized that she Loved Henry too.

Henry finally sealed the box and sighed. The Book found it very dark inside the box and was unsure why she had been put there, but she figured that she would understand soon.

Henry left his house and walked off down the street, calling the first cab he saw. He told the cabbie to take him to the publishing house, and the cabbie drove on.

Inside the box, The Book was still unsure of what was happening, but something inside her told her that it was Something Good. She felt her box bumping around and eventually, it stopped and Henry spoke to someone, saying “Thank you” and paying the cabbie.

The Book felt herself being jostled around inside the box. Henry walked into the publishing house and went up the elevator onto the fourth floor, where he was going to deliver his manuscript. Many people said hello to him as he walked and smiled when they saw the package in his hand.

Finally, Henry Walden reached the office of his publisher. He entered the room and set the box down on the table.

Hello, Mr. Walden.” Mr. Cook, his publisher, said, giving Henry a genuine and sincere smile.

Mr. Cook was a funny little man with a bald head, round belly, and small round glasses. He was wearing a suit and tie, and his blue eyes shone from behind the lenses of his glasses. When you met him, you couldn’t help but smile, as he was one of those people that make you feel good about yourself.

Hello, Mr. Cook.” Henry said, smiling back and feeling his spirits rise. “I’m here to deliver my new manuscript to you.”

Right on time.” Mr. Cook said, taking the box from Henry. “What’s this one about?”

Henry looked surprised. Although he knew his book backwards and forwards, he didn’t know the best way to describe it to someone.

He stammered,

Its about love, and hopes, and dreams. It’s about sorrow, and longing, fear, and anger. It’s kind of about everything.”

Mr. Cook nodded and smiled again, appearing truly interested.

That sounds very intriguing. I will send it to the editor’s floor immediately. Thank you so much for writing such a wonderful book.”

Henry nodded and smiled.

You’re welcome.” He said. “And thank you for deciding to publish it.”

Mr. Cook shook hands with Henry and replied,

Now, you have an excellent day. We’ll take care of getting your book ready, just like we always do, and when we’re finished, I’ll give you a call.”

Thank you so much.” Henry replied.

Mr. Cook was almost like a friend to Henry Walden. Henry couldn’t exactly consider him a friend, as Henry was basically paying for Mr. Cook to care. Still, it seemed like deep down inside of him, Mr. Cook really did care about Henry and his books, and not just the money that could be made from them.

Henry didn’t know this, but Mr. Cook knew there was much more value to many things than what could be counted in dimes and dollars. That was why he’d decided to sign Henry Walden onto their publishing company despite the fact that everyone else in the company had warned him against it. Mr. Cook knew that Henry had potential, and he could see in him what no one else could.

Henry and Mr. Cook said goodbye to each other, and Mr. Cook called his editor to pick up the book and take it to her office so that the editing could begin.

The Book heard Henry walking away, and suddenly she felt a new emotion. Sadness. She felt like trembling, like the whole world was dark and frightening. That was how Sadness felt to her. She knew that she may never see Henry again, and she missed him. Had she ever got to properly thank him for writing her?

With these thoughts in mind, she was taken from the room. As this happened, something occurred to her which made her feel a little better. Maybe she already had thanked him. Maybe, the writing process had been enough for him. She had sensed that feeling in Henry. Maybe it was true. She certainly hoped it was.

The Book remained in her box for the next two weeks, and time passed slowly. She sat in her box on the editor’s desk for this time as she waited to be Edited, whatever that was. It was dark and lonely inside of the box and The Book read and reread her contents repeatedly to pass the time. In doing so, she discovered many things that were contained in her that she hadn’t realized before, little subtleties that contained great wisdom.

By the time the box was opened, she knew herself backwards and forwards, but she still didn’t know what her purpose was. She had learned that her story was one of happiness and sorrow, friendship and loneliness, darkness and light. But what was she supposed to do with this story of hers? What was her Purpose and how would she find it? How would she know once she’d found it?

One of the main characters in her book, Lisa, found herself and there was no doubt in her mind when she did that she had. Lisa was happy after that and everything went right and she no longer felt lonely.

The Book wondered if it would be the same way for her when she finally made that elusive Discovery. 

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A Thousand Cranes – Volume 2 Poetry Book Sample

Artwork 070

Artwork 070

A Thousand Cranes by Ashlee Craft

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Cranes in the Night

 

the artist-poet

sitting on the porch steps out back

of the old Victorian house she inhabits

looking out towards the secret garden

where many magical things have happened

& the aroma of blossoming flowers

& the sound of frogs & crickets

& the smell of the cool night air

surrounding her as she looks out towards

the sky

waiting for

her one thousand paper cranes

to return to her again

 

she knows something wonderful is about to happen

 

 

Oh, the Stars

 

oh you beautiful wonderful things

dancing in the starlight, celestial & celebrated

hallowed moon in the sky million-universes circling

& swimming in the wave pool

twinkle in the sky eyes peering thru from behind a dark curtain

there just for me to look at

all of it there for me

just as it’s all there for you & everyone one else

living or lived or ever will live

 

light & air light & air

pretty thoughts flowing thru my head

in a world filled with books & music & animals

watch the fireworks alight

illuminating the silent night’s dusty corridors hidden within

the alleyways mistaken & forgotten

until suddenly being brought to light again

underscored by passages into secret gardens

unrelated to eclectic ecstasies unspoken under moonlight

in puddles reflecting the light all around us like

a million diamonds; the jewelry I’d rather wear

setting alight the flowers tucked gently into my hair

glowing in the sun nurtured by the life around me

like fireworks flying endlessly forever onwards onwards on

setting alight the hopes & dreams inside of us

oh, you wonderful things

oh, the stars

 

Turning to Face

 

I’ve run so far / I’ve ran I’ve ran / suddenly creeping / mysterious sounds in the night / like black panthers hiding in jungle trees / stars shining only in darkness / raindrops running down windowpanes / rainbow coming out in the after-rain mist / running down the soaking pavement wearing sopping tennis shoes shoes slapping against the pavement in the pouring pouring pouring rain / rain soaking my skin rain soaking my hair rushing rushing rushing onwards / covered in this cloak of rain heart pounding / I’m running back to where I should be / I’m running back towards what I left behind / it’s time to stop running away / it’s time to stop running away from it all / it’s time to face it

 

A Beautiful Morning

 

22 – Sunday – 8:29 a.m.

 

I walked along in the morning light

the wet grass bathed my feet

I looked down & saw dewdrops each harboring tiny rainbows

 

he walked along in the went sand

his feet left tiny prints behind

a mockingbird called overhead, & we turned to go home

 

I saw an earthworm on the sidewalk

struggling to cross it before the sun would soon be overbearing

I picked it up & brought it back home to my garden

 

I saw a flower trying to bloom but the soil was dry

I brought it a glass of water from inside my house

& I watched the flower grow big & strong & beautiful

 

I went back inside & ate a nice breakfast

while eating I planned what I would do that day & smiled

today was going to be a beautiful day

 

A Hundred Thousand Universes

 

don’t you know how wonderful & amazing you are?

With your shining eyes & illuminating smile

with the happy way you go thru life & the way you face it all & stand up when you need to?

with your musical laugh & your beautiful body & the way you make people feel happy too?

with the way you care about everyone & the way everyone loves you back?

with the way you look at each day as an adventure & the way you stop & smell the roses & how you make your own sunshine when you can’t find any?

can’t you see how amazing & perfect you are

you’ve got a hundred thousand tiny universe all growing & glowing inside you

a hundred thousand tiny universes

 

I Think What it Needs

 

overlying quantity hazy summer evening of holding onto ^ no more holding onto it all ^ the grasps of the dusty hand rails upon the train platform as it jumps on & on & on thru the night wishing on the odyssey of stars / multiple colors of acrylic paint & a jar full of paintbrushes & a spray bottle & cozy piles of blankets & orange checkered cases of wood handled teacups & heart-print ribbons pots of glue & a cup of green tea / snappy solitudes secreted daring & dancing frenetically in gray prison cells made of lies but can be melted & broken out of simply by asking for a candle / a decree of nestling newborn birds never-ending stories writing on leaves recording the histories in the barks of trees & in the supple rippling of riverside waves / working flawlessly to grow the American angelica trees with composted fertilizer & drops of rain collected in metal buckets # drip drop drip drop on & on & on # with their tin can hats & the questions on the table in the forest laid down before the great queen & reborn renewal / nominees of trustees tresses in the sea cabinet depositing grains of sand one by one into the black-hole basin punctuated only by the turning of the world / doves cooing & cheering in the rafters / drifters drifting on rivers on their rafts build of wooden planks / convincing someone else to do the necessary work

 

What are You Waiting For?

 

the sun is rising!

what are you waiting for?

the moon is growing over the hill!

what are you waiting for?

the stars are passing by flying by wishing stars!

what are you waiting for?

people are dreaming new dreams!

what are you waiting for?

the world is turning, the day is dawning &

night is coming to a close

what are you waiting for?

you’ve waited so long

you’ve waited & waited for things to change

or to find motivation

but still

what are you waiting for?

 

well

the time has come to

stop WAITING

& start

DOING

start

BEING

start LOVING

start

//// Living \\\\

 

Happened to Be There

 

alcoves aloof in their mysteries, jealous of secret tunnels underground where drunked sailors sing their sea-tunes & stampede thru corridors of broken down glass doors & old abandoned lemonade stands / gaining ground worried for world-renowned offers to authors writing constantly upon old typewriters trying to create random springs of genius hitting & missing mischievous exploding nebulas in ocean-eyed skies tramped upon by silver slits in gold showing beneath it, the gold’s true worth / questioning everything you see & wondering where you went wrong or if you went right, why you’re on the road you’re on & where you’re even heading at all / frantically wandering about darkened roads at night questioning questioning some more boxcars clicking along tracks & rivers rushing rushing rushing, rustling past you & night owls flying & hooting overhead, frogs calling to each other in the swamp / & amongst the cacophony & chaos & jarring discord

answers

 

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Dark Hours Sample Chapter

Dark Hours

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April 25, 12:04 a.m.

 

It was just after midnight. The hallways of The Singing Bird apartment complex were nearly empty, and a deep silence filled the walls.

Suddenly, a scream rang out through one of the rooms in the nearly-vacant apartment building.

This scream was followed by an eerie silence, the sinister type of silence which leaves you both wondering and fearing what has just occurred.

 

 

Old Ms. Waters, who owned the building and had lived in it for the past thirty years, was down in her kitchen on the bottom floor of the apartment in her kitchen adding some milk to her coffee.

The scream echoed within her walls, shattering the silence.

She dropped her coffee spoon on the floor. It clattered loudly, piercing through the violent silence that followed the scream.

The nine tenants who lived in the building were generally quiet, but every once in a while, a homeless person or young hoodlum would enter the building and cause trouble. A few years ago, a violent fistfight had broken out in the hallway, a fight which resulted in the police being called in, and ten years back, a string of robberies had occurred. Still, nothing like this had ever occurred.

Ms. Waters considered phoning her son, who was 30 years old and lived down the hallway from her. He wasn’t married yet, but Ms. Waters hoped that would soon change. It had always been her hope that her son would marry and have children. Ms. Waters, who was in her early sixties, often dreamt about having grandchildren. She could see herself taking her grandchildren to the circus and the pool and baking cookies with them in the afternoon. Her son Matthew had been in the military for a couple of years and had won many metals, something which made Ms. Waters very proud. When neighbors would come over to her apartment, she’d often relay the story of how her son had saved many fellow soldiers with his quick thinking. Unfortunately, his experience in the war had left him with PSTD and left him with a permanently nervous disposition.

Matthew had many girlfriends throughout the years, but his relationships never lasted more than a few months, with only three exceptions.

Tonight, he was on a date with a woman named Sarah Thorton, who Ms. Waters hadn’t got a chance to meet but Matthew had told her all about. They were going to a local restaurant called The Flying Fish, a quaint little place situated in the downtown.

At this point, Ms. Waters decided to call her son, and she dialed in the number, desperately hoping that he’d pick it up. She didn’t want to be alone in the building. If someone had been attacked, their assailant might be coming for her next.

She reached her son’s voice mail.

Suddenly, she heard the sound of her front door open, and a moment later, close.

Terror-stricken, she was paralyzed for a moment, and something horrible occurred to her. Someone was in her apartment.

She finally found the courage to walk into her living room.

There was no one there.

Ms. Waters reached for her cell phone and shakily dialed 911.

 

 

The apartment complex, called The Singing Bird, but colloquially referred to as Stifled Bird, would be vacated and torn down in two weeks due to its age and lack of funds to keep it properly maintained. A major property company had bought the land to build a factory on it. Anyone who still remained in the complex would have to move somewhere else, and the property company hoped that these residents would move to one of the fancier and higher priced complexes that they owned.

Singing Bird was an old brick apartment complex with fire escape platforms and ladders covering the sides. The whole complex was enclosed, and you had to enter the front door of the building to get to the hallways which led past each apartment. It was relatively secure, except for the fact that many of the ladders on the fire escape were down, so it would be easy for someone to climb up them and access the apartments.

When the Singing Bird Apartment Complex was built, the town was reasonably high-class, but as fifty years came and went, crime from the surrounding areas began to seep in, and soon surrounded the entire building. Many tenants moved out because they didn’t feel secure, and some of the gossipers that used to live in the building had speculated that someone was running a meth lab in one of the rooms. Because nobody except the gossipers felt this way, nobody cared to investigate this further. Regardless whether this fact was true or not, no one in the building felt safe.

Families with children and higher-income residents moved out. Because of this, the value of the building went down, causing the middle class to move out as well. The only people who remained there were those who had little money or had lived there a long time and didn’t care to move. As desperate times called for desperate measures, ready or not, these remaining tenants would have to move out at the end of the two-week period remaining. The 150-unit apartment complex only contained nine tenants now, not including the owner of the building and her son.

 

 

Grace Roe lived in apartment #78. After a long night out spent dancing at local clubs, as she often did, she was tired and hungry. Although she was in her early sixties, she still was filled with a vigor and energy often unmatched by people half her age. When she told people her age, they were surprised to hear that she was fifteen or twenty years older than they thought she was.

Grace’s feet hurt. She blamed it on her new high heels, which were covered in blue glitter. They were probably too tall for someone her age to be wearing, but she didn’t care. She did things her own way, wore what she wanted to, did what she wanted to, and didn’t care what others thought of this. She wasn’t the type to follow the crowd, and she’d always prided herself in this independence.

When she was a teenager, she’d gone against the current fashions and stereotypes and done her own thing, creating her own fashion from the things she loved. When her classmates were trying to impress their crushes, Grace had been more concerned with her education. When her classmates were busy discussing what they’d wear to prom, Grace was sitting quietly in the corner reading Shakespeare. When her peers went to college, graduated, and started their families, Grace was busy working at a florist shop, dancing every chance she got, and traveling the world.

At the time, when she’d decided that she would live the way she wanted to, she was somewhat concerned that others would find her strange, or that she was making a mistake. Perhaps they were right in following the crowd, the time-tested formula that many went for. But now as she looked back, Grace was more and more thankful with each passing day that she’d chosen to forge her own path. This sense of gratitude increased each time she heard her friends complaining about what they wish they had done when they were younger, richer, or more beautiful. When Grace looked back on her life, she had no regrets whatsoever.

As soon as Grace entered her apartment, she removed the painful shoes and slung them to the side. It was silent in her apartment – too silent – so she decided to put on some classical music.

Grace walked barefoot across the cool linoleum of the apartment, noticing just how good it felt on her sore feet. She flexed her toes against the floor, massaging them from their stiffness. When she entered her kitchen and headed for her tiny pantry, she removed a box of fettuccine. Smiling with the afterglow of her night out, she filled a pot with water and set it on the stove.

At that moment, a scream rang out across the silence, stopping her in her tracks.

Heart pounding, she was unsure of what to do. She’d never heard a scream so terrible in her life, yet she didn’t want to worry the cops about something insignificant. When she considered how horrible, how desperate the scream sounded, she decided to call the police, realizing it was better to report it and find out that it was nothing than not. If the scream was relevant and she didn’t call, someone could be harmed worse than they already were, and Grace would be aware of the fact that her call could have saved this person.

She rushed towards the phone and dialed 911. Grace told them what she’d heard, and they told her they’d be sending someone to check it out, saying that they’d received several similar calls already. It was around this point that Grace began panicking. What if whoever had killed someone – that was Grace’s biggest fear regarding what had happened – was coming for her?

She hurried into her kitchen, opening the knife drawer and removing the largest, most dangerous looking blade. Heart pounding quickly, she proceeded to stand in her apartment near the front floor, waiting for either the arrival of the police or of the murderer.

 

 

Mr. Klaus had awoken from a deep sleep. Immediately, he noticed a sharp pain in his back and sighed. His back occasionally pained him overnight. It was about time him and his wife got a new mattress, but that would have to wait until after they moved from the apartment complex. Carefully, he moved his wife’s hand off of his shoulder. She opened her eyes slowly.

“Where are we?” She asked him quietly.

He smiled sadly at her.

Dementia. She had dementia and usually couldn’t remember very much about what happened. She was liable to say strange or incoherent things, and this pained Mr. Klaus greatly. Every time she forgot something, he felt an incredibly pity filling him, a pity which was mixed with great affection. He loved his wife more dearly with every day, and would do anything to make her happy.

“We’re at our apartment.” He told her gently, swinging his legs over the edge of his bed and grunting when his back pained him again.

They’d lived at this apartment for 15 years, ever since they’d immigrated from Germany to the United States. It made Karl Klaus sad to think that after all this time, they’d have to move. His wife wasn’t always sure of where they were, even after their lengthy stay here, and he hated the fact that she’d have to get used to a new place all over again. They had a comfortable life at the Singing Bird, and as they were both retired now, Mr. Klaus feared what the future would bring for him and his wife. They had picked out a small one-story house nearby, and when they could stay in the apartment complex no longer, they would move there.

Carefully, Mr. Klaus got up to go to the bathroom.

“Where are you going?” Mrs. Klaus called softly.

“To the bathroom. I’ve got to take a painkiller.” He replied.

He made it to the bathroom and filled the glass near the sink with water, reaching for the bottle of painkillers on the counter.

A minute later, a scream shattered the peace of night.

Adrenaline rushed through him, followed immediately by fear.

What if something had happened to his wife?

He rushed from the bathroom and he froze.

Mrs. Klaus was nowhere to be seen, and the front door of his apartment was handing wide open.

His breath caught in his throat.

Mr. Klaus rushed into the hallway, rushing barefoot down the hallways, searching frantically for his lost wife. She couldn’t walk that fast, but if she evaded him, she could go downstairs, leave the apartment, and go out into the street. Karl didn’t even want to think about what could happen to her if she got outside…

“Emily!” He called. “Emily!”

After a few minutes of searching, he finally found his wife, emerging confusedly from a room that had been apparently left unlocked.

“Emily!” He cried with relief upon seeing her.

She rushed into his arms, crying and repeating his name.

“Did you scream?” He asked her.

She shook her head.

“They’re coming for you.” She said softly, her eyes wide with fear.

“Let’s get you back home. I’ve got to call the police.”

Together, they headed back to the safety of their apartment.

 

 

In the darkness, Jenny Sampson made her way over towards the fire escape. The night around her was silent, and the only sound she could hear was her own breathing and her footsteps upon the dried grass. Ever since the lock on her door had suddenly broken a week ago, the fire escape had been her means of getting into her apartment. While she understood it was risky to leave her fire escape window unlocked, she was unable to afford a locksmith, and therefore had to make the best of her situation.

Jenny locked her bike to the metal of the fire escape, balancing the five pound bag of cat food on her leg as she did so.

There was very little light around, the only illumination coming from the moonlight above. It was a full moon, luckily, but it was still almost too dim for her to lock the bicycle.

“Damn.” She cursed quietly, fumbling with the lock.

She would have gone and bought the cat food earlier, had she not been teaching a ballet lesson that had gone on until seven-thirty and after that, had to practice at the studio for the upcoming ballet she would be dancing in. By the time she was finished, it was ten thirty at night. She then had to ride her bicycle back to her apartment, change clothing, and go out again to buy food for her cat.

The young blonde dancer locked her bike up and began climbing the fire escape, carrying the cat food under one arm, and her bicycle helmet under the other.

Halfway up the stairs, she heard a muffled scream ringing from within the apartment complex.

She froze, her heart skipping a beat.

Her mind sprang to the conclusion that someone had just been killed. She was aware that she could be dramatic at times and assume the worst, but this time, she was sure she was right.

Should she go up or down? If she went up to her apartment, the attacker of whoever screamed could possibly be in her apartment. If she remained on the fire escape, she could still be harmed. What if the murderer climbed out onto the fire escape to get away? What if there were others on the ground, or on the fire escape?

She decided to take her chances and get back to her apartment as quickly as possible. Scrambling quicker than before, she climbed onto the third landing of the fire escape and shoved her window open. She clambered in and locked the window behind her, heart pounding in her throat.

Swiftly, she made sure that all of her doors and windows were locked, then proceeded to call the police.

The phone rang through to the local emergency department.

“911, what is the nature of the emergency?” The dispatcher had asked.

“Police.” Jenny said in a choked voice. “Someone just screamed so terribly in the apartment complex where I live. It sounded like someone was being killed.”

 

 

Travis Harrison had been outside, speaking to his beautiful girlfriend, whom he’d just been speaking to. This encounter left him feeling light and happy. Every time he spoke to Hannah, he loved her more and more. Just when he thought he loved her as much as anyone possibly could, he found himself falling even deeper and deeper in love. Often times, he hardly felt like it was real at all, and he couldn’t believe that something like this was really happening to him. To him, true love had always been a figment of fiction, but after he met Hannah, everything changed.

He’d met her at a party three years ago, when both of them were only twenty-two. She’d been dancing alone off to the side, and Travis had watched her from across the room. When he saw her face, something he’d never felt before came over him, and he suddenly believed that love at first sight was real.

Travis had approached Hannah. The two of them had flirted, and by the end of the night, they’d made plans to go out to the movies the next night.

There was and always had been a certain rebelliousness in their relationship, something that made everything they did seem even more romantic. Hannah’s parents didn’t approve of Travis. In their opinion, he was just a poor mechanic with big dreams. Travis wanted nothing more than to own his own mechanic shop, and to Hannah’s practical nine-to-five parents, this didn’t seem like a reliable thing to believe in.

But Hannah believed in it. She believed in Travis with all of her heart, a heart which was filled with utter affection for the kind and gentle Travis. Although Travis was tall, broad, and muscular, he was the type of person who always stood up for those weaker than him, and he used his strength to help others. Once, he’d been heading back to his apartment late at night, and he’d seen some men laughing and dangling a tiny, helpless kitten in front of their giant dog’s snapping jaws. Without hesitation, Travis had approached the men and ordered they give him the kitten immediately. When the men saw the menacing look on Travis’ face and realized that if they didn’t comply, it would be painful for them, they handed the kitten to Travis and hurried off.

Travis was allergic to cats and couldn’t keep it himself, but he’d given the tiny kitten to Hannah. She nursed the female kitten back to health and named her Buttons, and had cared for the cat ever since.

Now, Travis stood and watched Hannah get back into her car. As she drove off, they waved at each other, and when she was out of sight, Travis went back inside.

He climbed the stairs slowly, but with a bounce in his step. He couldn’t wipe the grin from his face as he walked. Someday soon, he was going to ask Hannah to marry him. He knew she loved him just as much as he loved her, and was sure she’d say yes to his proposal.

He was on the second floor when he heard it.

A scream. The most horrible scream that Travis had ever heard.

Travis froze. Immediately concerned for whoever had screamed, he rushed forward. Mentally calculating that the scream had rushed to the fifth floor, he ran past his own apartment on the fourth and up the stairs. He clenched his fists, prepared to take on any assailant and help whoever was in trouble.

When he reached the fourth floor, he found nothing. The place was utterly silent. There was nothing around, no sign that anything had occurred.

But despite the false calmness of the scene, Travis knew what he’d heard, and he knew that something was wrong. With that, he hurried back to his apartment, dialing 911 as he did so.

 

 

Nina Wentz, who lived in apartment #114, was flaming mad. Her husband – that good for nothing loser who she still lived with for some reason – clearly was cheating on her. Again. It had happened before, quite a while ago, and she’d forgiven him then. Why? Maybe it was because he had vowed he’d never cheat again. Either way, she certainly wasn’t going to forgive him again. Right now, he was most likely drunk and making out with some random chick he’d just met at the bar.

She hated him.

Flinging her belongings into her suitcase, she rushed around the apartment, making sure to get everything that she needed. She didn’t want to see Don ever again after she left him tonight, except when she brought the divorce papers to him so he could add his signature. Maybe she could just mail the papers to him. That would probably be more effective.

She shook her head and sighed as she shoved her makeup bag in amongst her belongings. Why did she always fall for the wrong men? She’d fallen in love with several others like Don before, and each time she vowed she wouldn’t do it again. When she met Don, she thought everything would be different. She thought that she’d finally found someone who would be loyal to her, someone she could always trust and depend upon. He’d seemed so caring when she’d met him, and he’d once discussed with her how much it angered him when his friends cheated on their girls. They had gotten married less than a year ago. Nina had thought she was in love. She thought she’d found “the one”.

But no. She hadn’t. Don hadn’t been that knight in shining armor, that true love that she’d dreamed about finding. He’d just been another one of those men who drew her in with a smile and then showed her that they never cared for her at all.

At this moment, she heard a scream. Thinking little of it, she continued filling her suitcase. It was probably just some teens messing around or trying to scare each other in the empty and sinister looking hallways of the apartment. Either way, she was too angry to care.

All she cared about was getting as far away her pathetic excuse for a husband as soon as she could.

 

 

Henry Jackson’s whole body hurt – especially his mind. After all that had happened to him in the past few days, he didn’t want to think.

Earlier that evening, his girlfriend Wanda Richards had broken up with him.

He thought they’d had something going. He thought that she’d be the one, the one that he’d marry. He could see all of it in his head. He could picture himself holding her hand and walking down the aisle with her, could see them buying a house together and raising a family.

Yet the image replayed in his head repeatedly, the image of her softly saying,

“It’s over, Henry. I’ve got someone else – someone that I love – who wants to propose to me tonight. It’s time we both moved on.” His mind ached with the pain of it all.

Flipping through the channels on his television, he became more agitated with the realization that nearly all of them had something to do with romance, the last thing he wanted to think about at the time.

How could Wanda have let him get his hopes up? Hadn’t they spoken about spending the rest of their lives together? Hadn’t she assured him that she’d always love him?

And yet, her words hadn’t stopped her from doing what she’d done. Her words apparently meant nothing to her.

Henry continued flipping though the channels angrily, eventually finding a reality show . He turned up the volume all the way, as if this was the only way he could drown out his pain.

Henry sat like that for a while, his mind numb and replaying through each memory he made with Wanda.

He was only interrupted when the police pounded loudly on the door, demanding that he opened it.

Fear filling him, he made his way across his messy apartment.

When he answered the door, he saw several police officers standing out their and asked,

“Is there a problem, officers?”

“Many residents here have heard a scream. Did you hear it?”

“No.” Henry said. “I didn’t.”

 

 

Francis Quinn sat inside his apartment, listening to a meditation CD and sitting in the middle of the floor, calming his mind.

Breathe out, breathe in.

Breathe out, breathe in.

His mantra. The only thing which would calm him. He focused only on his breathing and the slow beating of his heart, losing himself in the calmness surrounding him.

And at this moment, he desperately needed to calm down.

Breathe out, breathe in.

Breathe out, breathe in.

His silence was shattered.

A scream pierced though the air, destroying Francis’ silence.

Everything froze.

He wailed something incomprehensible and flung himself to the ground.

It all came rushing back to him. Every single thing. His mind was reeling, and the images filled his head once more.

His breath caught in his throat. Feeling as though his world were crashing around, he could do nothing but sit there, immobilized by his fear. Francis’ heart pounded wildly in his chest, and he was sure he was going to die.

A few minutes later, the feeling passed, yet the thoughts and sorrow still bombarded him.

Still panicking, it occurred to him that he should call the police. His hands shaking terribly, he managed to coherently call the police, explaining to them what he had heard. When he hung up, he broke down once more.

It was all happening.

It was all happening again.

 

 

Within ten minutes of the scream, the police showed up. The lights from two or three police cars danced across Ms. Waters’ kitchen.

She stood up, still shaking violently. She heard the police enter the apartment complex’s front door. Knowing that she’d be safe now, she fled from her apartment, making a beeline for the front hallway, where the police were standing. After briefly explaining what she’d heard to them, an officer remained downstairs to check her apartment for intruders.

The remaining five police officers walked up the creaking stairs slowly as they checked in each vacant apartment room using the keys Ms. Waters had given them. Ms. Waters had said she estimated the scream came from the fourth or fifth floor, the floors where all but one of the residents lived.

While three of the officers checked the empty rooms on the forth and fifth floors, the other two went and knocked on the apartment doors to speak to the residents. All except one resident admitted to hearing the scream.

The apartments contained no evidence of violence or struggle.

The only exception to this was Apartment #90, where the officers found a small pool of fresh blood.

That was when they called in Detective Davies.

 

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