Near 500 words: TW finds a wood carving

Episode 8 of The Writer.

TW (aka The Writer) knelt and picked up the wooden carving off the floor. He sat down on the carpet, leaned against the wall and rubbed the butternut wood. It had a beautiful brown tan.

Into the wood, Sylvia had carved a butterfly riding a robin. She had given it to him for his twenty-sixth birthday. When he asked about the butterfly, she smiled. Her smile always gave her face a glow. “Oh, it’s a monarch. It’s my spirit animal. And I wanted to share it with you. If something ever happened to me, I would be with you still.”

“What’s a spirit animal?” he asked, feeling the smoothness of the carved wood in his hand.

“It’s a guide. Kind of like a guardian angel.”

He gave her words some thought.

She continued, “Everybody has a spirit animal. It’s a gift.”

“A gift?”

“Yes. From the One.”

“From the One?”

“You might call the One the Tao. The One has many Names. The Great Spirit. Father. Mother. Yahweh. Jesus. Buddha. Allah. Vishnu. Shiva. Brahma. They all apply.”

TW looked at Sylvia. He didn’t really know the person who sat before him, her legs crossed into a full lotus. This was someone who had a depth to her. The kind of depth no one else he knew had. It was as if she were an onion, pealing the outer skin off. There were many more skins to pull before he would know the real Sylvia. He wasn’t sure he deserved her. And her love. That scared him. What was he going to do?

Sylvia reached over and touched his head. A warmth surged through his body and he felt calm. It was like a peaceful evening on a beach with the ocean singing to him. Tears rolled down his face. Sylvia wiped the tears away and embraced him, and they made love.

As they lay side by side on the floor, he realized he had forgotten something. He rolled over and faced her. “What about the bird?”

Her green eyes twinkled like stars. “The robin also is my spirit animal.”

“You have two?”

“Actually the butterfly is transforming into the robin. I was a butterfly once. Now I am a robin.”

“Well, that’s interesting. Do I have a spirit animal?” he asked, frightened that he might not have one.

She reached over and put her arms around his neck and kissed him. “Of course, silly. You might even have more than one.”

“What is it?”

She laughed. “I am not the one who should know.”

“Then who?” He was anxious to know.

“Don’t you know?” She asked as if she was trying to get him to dig down deep inside and pull the insight out.

Now he was confused. He had always been good at digging out information from the most unlikely places. But this didn’t seem like information he could discovery through research.

He looked down at his hands. She had been holding them all along and he didn’t realize it. Her hands exuded some kind of energy from them. The energy felt like joy and peace and happiness. It was at that moment he saw that the two of them. They were levitating a good foot in the air.

“Don’t think,” she whispered. “Just enjoy.”

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Near 500 words: To Shop Or Not To Shop

Matthew hated shopping. He put it off as long as he could, then he went out and shopped till he dropped. At least, that was how he put the whole thing. Mel loved to shop and couldn’t contain herself when she did. Any day was a shopping day for her. Matthew was on one of his excursions when he accidentally bumped into Mel. They were standing in line at a cashier’s station.

“Ouch,” she said and turned to Matthew behind her.

“Oh, sorry,” Matthew came back with.

Over the years, she had said ouch and he had said sorry for what must have been hundreds of times. He always ended up bumping into others. She always ended up being bumped into. This time it was different. They saw something in each other that they had never seen in another human being.

Matthew made the first move. “I really am sorry.”

“And I really did feel an ouch.” She laughed. Mel laughed often but there was something about this laugh. It filled up her face and went all the way to her toes. Mel wasn’t sure what was going on but she liked it. She like it so much she said, “Would you like to get a cup of coffee?”

Matthew hesitated. He had so much shopping to do. He had put it off for a long time.

“With me, I mean,” Mel added.

Her “with me I mean” made up his mind. “Yes, I’d like that.”

They paid for their items, then went over to the nearby food court. Saw a Starbucks. Ordered. Then found a table.

Matthew wasn’t sure where to begin.

“Why don’t you begin at the beginning,” she answered his unspoken query.

He took a sip of his coffee. It was hot. Burned his tongue a bit. “I’m Matthew.”

“And I’m Mel.”

It was a beginning. What next? Where were they going to go to now? They both looked at the other and neither could come up with a thing to say.

Matthew studied her face. She had a nice face. Not beautiful. The word “comely” came to him. Hazel eyes, a middle-sized nose, small mouth that became large when she laughed. Auburn hair that fell pleasingly onto her shoulder. And she smelled like cherries. Matthew loved cherries. How they smelled. How they felt in your mouth. How they tasted.

Matthew did not have the best of faces. It looked like it had some wear and tear. Mel concluded that came with experience. He was starting to lose his hair. In a few years, he would be bald like her dad.

As they sat there, they weren’t able to come up with small talk. Mel could small talk her friends to death. Especially about shopping. But not here with Matthew. Matthew had never been much for small talk. It just wasn’t in him.

After fifteen minutes, Matthew asked, “Would you like to go to dinner? With me, that is?”

Mel wasn’t sure why she answered the way she did but she gave him a yes.

Neither moved from where they were. Something kept them there. It was like they had known each other for a very long time. In a previous life perhaps.

Then Matthew said, “You know I hate shopping.”

“I love shopping.”

Matthew’s face showed that he had an idea. “Would you help me with my shopping?” the words stumbled out.

Mel reached over and squeezed his hand. “I would love to go shopping with you.”

Matthew and Mel then left the table, holding hands.

From another table, two men watched the whole episode with Matthew and Mel. The taller of the two said, “Finally we’ve gotten them together. Contact Command and let them know we’ve accomplished our mission.”

“You think they’ll be okay?”

“They have to be. Our planet depends on it.”

Another Fish Story

Tom was out for his morning walk when he came upon a woman sitting on the brick wall next to the river. It was a bit of a chill and she had rosy cheeks. Her blonde hair was tied back. She wore a brown jacket and a jeans skirt. Her feet were in black boots. He had seen her before but had not spoken. This time was different.

“So you like to fish?” Tom asked Adelaide.

“Yes, I like to fish,” Adelaide said. “It brings back wonderful memories of my dad.”

“Was he a fisherman?”

“He was a wonderful fisherman.” Adelaide threw out her line, then she sat and waited for a fish to bite.

Tom watched the line in the water.

“I’ve never been much for fishing.”

She looked at him and smiled. “Best thing in the world. It’s a great way to think and get clear about priorities.”

“So what is your priorities for the day?” Tom asked.

“I’m going to fish for a couple of hours. Then who knows. I might take some pictures.” She pointed to the camera case on the ground next to her basket. The basket was for the fish. “It’s such a beautiful day.”

“Yes, it is. Well, good day and happy fishing.”

“You too.”

“Oh, but I don’t fish.”

“You said that. But everybody fishes. Even you.”

He gave her a questioning look.

“It’s what we do in life. We fish. Me, I fish for fish. I don’t know what you fish for, but I’m sure you fish.”

“You do have a point there.”

Her voice was soft, almost a whisper. Yet he could hear her plainly.

“I’m Tom, by the way.”

“I’m Adelaide.” She rested the pole on her lap and leaned over and shook his hand.

“I’ve seen you here before.” Tom noticed her long thin hands.

“Yes, you have.”

“Oh, have you been watching me?”

“Not particularly,” Adelaide added. “I have caught a glimpse of you from time to time. You know, watching me. I like that you’ve come by here just to look at me. Don’t know why it took so long for you to stop and talk.”

“I’ve never been good with women.”

“And here you are, talking to me.”

“Yes, here I am, talking to you.”

A fish nibbled at the line. She pulled on the pole and reeled him in slowly. Finally, she pulled him out of the water and held him and undid the hook, then threw him in the basket.

“He’s going to make a good dinner.”

“Yes, he is,” Tom said.

“Would you like to join me? I am a pretty good cook when it comes to fish.”

“You do have a nice smile.”

She laughed. “I do, don’t I?”

“I think I would like to try the fish.”

“Then let me gather up my gear and we’ll go to my place.”

Tom helped her with the gear and carried the basket with the fish.

As they walked, she asked, “So, Tom, what do you do?’

“I’m an engineer.”

“That sounds like interesting work.”

“It is. I test bridges.” He was proud of his work. It kept people safe.

“You must be busy. There are plenty of bridges around here.”

“Oh, yes there are. What do you do?”

“I have affairs with married men.”

Tom was taken aback.

“You’re shocked. I usually get that when I tell people. It’s amazing at parties. But it’s a living.”

They had stopped walking.

“But—”

“It’s immoral? Yes, it is. But a girl has to make a living. My parents are gone, and I don’t have a husband. So here I am, all alone in the world. Me and my fishing.”

They started walking again.

“And I like nice things,” she continued. “I don’t see people lining up to give me those things. Do you?”

“No.”

“I’m choosey who I take up with. And I only see them once a week. The rest of the time is mine. Right now I am between. So, I am free until the next man comes along.”

Then Tom realized something. “Am I your next?”

“Oh, no,” she assured him. “You’re not married.”

“Then why are you inviting me home for dinner?”

She stopped and turned and looked at him. “I like you. I knew I would when I first saw you six weeks ago.” She reached up and pushed his white hair out of his face.

“But—”

She shook her head slightly, then went back to walking. Tom joined her.

“Morality?” she said. “Morality doesn’t put food on the table. Morality doesn’t put a roof over my head.”

“But—”

“Look, I don’t like to be judged for what I do. I have only one thing the world wants and I am going to make it pay for it. I am not going to be a shop girl and live on subsistence wages. And I don’t see suitors lining up to ask for my hand.”

“But they would.”

“I’m a poor girl. And this is who I am. Now do you want your morality or do you want to spend the rest of the day with me. We’ll have our fish and who knows, you might just get lucky.” She turned and walked through the gate of a small cottage.

“I want the fish.”

“I thought you would, Thomas.” She unlocked the door of her basement apartment and went inside. “You don’t mind if I call you Thomas. You look more like a Thomas than a Tom.”

Tom followed her inside.

She sat her basket down and pulled off her jacket. She looked him in the eyes, then she patted his cheeks affectionately. “Now let’s have that fish.”

When they finished the fish, Adelaide poured Tom a glass of wine, then herself. They drank the wine in silence until they had almost finished the bottle. Sitting across from him, she looked straight into his eyes and asked, “Would you marry me even though I slept with married men?”

He choked on the wine but managed not to spew it onto her. “That’s a very personal question.”

She laughed. “Don’t you think a wife should have a career?”

Tom was beginning to break out in a bit of a sweat. He felt like he was being run over by a truck and he didn’t like it. For him, women had always been hard to figure out. And Adelaide was a total sphinx. He stood up. Woozy from the wine, he sat back down.

“I have to go, Adelaide. I really do.”

Adelaide was having none of that. “You can’t go, Thomas.”

“Why can’t I?”

“We still have to finish the wine. I have a second bottle.”

“I’ve had enough wine. Thank you very much.”

“Then don’t you want to make love to me?”

Again Tom tried to stand up. This time he made it. “I’ve got to go.”

He went for the door. Adelaide stepped in front of him.

“Please don’t go, Thomas. Please don’t go.” There were tears in her eyes. “I lied.”

That stopped Tom. “You lied?”

“I don’t sleep with married men. I don’t sleep with single men either.”

Tom walked over to the sofa and dropped on to it. “I don’t understand.”

She plopped down on the floor in front of him. “I wanted to make sure.”

“Make sure of what?”

“I wanted to make sure that you wouldn’t leave me if I fell in love with you. I’m sorry I lied.”

“Why would I leave you?”

“Once you found out what I really do.”

Tom asked, “Why would I do that? I came this far, didn’t I?”

“Yes, you did, Thomas.”

“You don’t sleep with married men?”

“I do not. I would never do that.”

“Just what do you do? Invite men to your apartment, then murder them for their money. In that case, you’ve chosen the wrong man. I don’t make that much money. I work for the city and they don’t pay well.”

“No, silly, I don’t murder anyone. Never have and never will.”

“Well, that is a relief.” Tom’s body slumped. He let his concern go off into thin air. “Just what do you do?”

“I’m a clown.”

“You’re a clown?

“Yes, I’m a clown.”

Tom started to laugh. He went into an uncontrollable laughter. For five minutes, he couldn’t stop himself. Finally, he stopped. “You Are A Clown?”

Adelaide was crying. She looked up at him with her soft green eyes. “I knew that was going to be your reaction. Every man I’ve been interested. They just laugh. Now, you. It’s hopeless.

Tom jumped up and went over and plopped down beside her and said, “No. You’re wrong. I’m glad you’re a clown. I love clowns.”

“You do?”

“Yes. Some of my favorite people are clowns.”

Adelaide threw her arms around Tom and kissed him. Then she said, “I was so afraid. I figured you would be so relieved I wasn’t a…You know what I mean. That you would accept me as a clown.”

“Now, let me get this straight. You have one of those honkers of a nose and you have the big feet?”

“Yes. I do.” She jumped up and ran into her bedroom and brought back her nose and her big feet and her clown costume for Tom to see.

He looked at her costume and her big feet and her nose. She honked it for him.

Tom stood up and went over to Adelaide. “I have a secret.”

Adelaide drew back. She didn’t like secrets. Unlesss she was the one with the secret.

Tom said, “I work Wednesday evenings as a clown.”