Searching for an answer

A challenging Sunday Photo Fiction this week — at least for me. But that just makes it more enjoyable, testing a writer’s skill to see what they can come up with. With that, off we go into a thickening fog that is quickly consuming everything our eyes perceive.

foggy

As the fog swallowed the bridge, the waters calmed. The waves that had been slapping the shoreline were now simply pawing at the sand that warmed Johnny’s toes.

He dug them deeper before he turned to Jules.

“So, what do you think?”

She glanced at him and then looked away, staring somewhere into the fog that now enveloped the Atlantic Coastline as far as the two could see.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I know it’s not much of a response, but it’s the only one I have now.”

Johnny let out a soft sigh — something between frustration and resignation.

He put his arm around her shoulders to pull her close. She shrugged him off.

“I love you, Johnny,” she said. “But it’s not the right time.”

The fog had sifted its way ashore, lapping at Johnny’s toes, Jules’s sandals.

Johnny said nothing. Instead, he watched the fog climb his legs, swirl around his midsection. His eyes followed as it climbed Jules’s bare legs, for she was standing now. Soon, its density had grown so thick, he couldn’t see her.

From somewhere not close, he heard her.

“Bye, Johnny,” her fading voice said. “I won’t forget you.”

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The Family Bog

Another chance to dwell on a beautiful photo and see what springs to mind courtesy Sunday Photo Fiction. One of my favorite exercises, regardless of where it takes me.

50-03-march-9th-2014

The flood of emotion swelled  when I realized what picture had fallen from the stack.

Twenty-some years old and the photo was still as vivacious as ever. The old camping spot.

The last place Dad had been happy.

Tommy and I were in our late teens the last time we’d camped there. “The Family Bog,”  Tommy had dubbed it.

While my brother and I cherished the spot, Dad downright loved it.

“Catch and release, boys, that’s our game,” Dad had told us every time we dropped our lures. “Not that we’d eat anything out of that pond anyways.”

My eyes wandered across the various greens and yellows splashing  the photograph. I smelled the moss on the water. Heard the birds in the trees. The frogs sung us to sleep, while the crickets and campfire battled for our attention. Felt the stone of the landing where we dangled our feet and lines. Heard the dull clack of the pebbles  when we hit the floating stone in the middle of the rock.

Then I heard my dad’s voice a week after that last trip. Sitting at dinner, eating mom’s pot roast.

“Cancer. Eight weeks.”

He got up and left the room.

He was gone forever seven weeks later.

Henderson the Rain King: A sort of book review

Book reviews aren’t exactly something that will appear regularly on my blog. I’d just rather stick with more original ideas than reviewing someone else’s work (though movie reviews might be an avenue I venture down regularly in the future).

But “Henderson the Rain King” has seeped into my brain and I can’t get rid of it now that I’ve finished it.

I’m not even sure where to begin. The novel never sucked me in. Yet I continued to plug away at it.

I think the main protagonist, Henderson, was a blowhard. From the get-go he was always talking about how great he was or how much he could love or could feel pain or regret or anything. And yet the first chance he got he would do the opposite or offend someone without an ounce of regret.

Then he was off to Africa to supposedly find himself. Though the first three-quarters of the novel, including his early journeys through the middle of Africa, were more about doing things to prop himself up as vastly important than they were about finding himself.

Irksome. That’s the best way I could describe Henderson. Like a grown-up Holden Caufield, but without the charm or innocence of youth.

And then came the lion cub and the death of Dahfu and the child on the plane. And suddenly Henderson came to the realization that everything wasn’t all about him. There was so much more. Maybe that was when the grun-tu-molani fully hit Henderson, yet in a subversive way so that he didn’t realize what it was. He was so focused on achieving that level of knowledge, or that act of being; but it was something that had to happen naturally. The queen of the Arnewi couldn’t teach him. And no matter how many discussions he had with Chief Dahfu, Henderson wasn’t going to learn it via discourse.

But when Henderson stepped off that plane in Greenland, holding the child wrapped in a blanket, and started running in circles around the plane, he had finally become a Being person. No longer was he a Becoming person. He’d finally reached a point of peace. He was happy with where he was. He was Being.

And suddenly, in just those last few pages, I fell in love with the novel. It was as though I could forgive Henderson for his lifetime of mistakes and self-righteousness. Whatever happened to Henderson in the waning years of his life after the novel, it became easy to imagine him living life to the fullest in a way he’d never before made you think possible.