Reposting “Beyond a Shattered Past – Flash Fiction and Raw Thoughts”

Reposting “Beyond a Shattered Past – Flash Fiction and Raw Thoughts”

Hello, friends!

In last Monday’s post, I said I would be sharing a recap of the writing retreat I attended last month, but, alas, the week was full of other adventures (such as writing a prologue for my new WIP [!!!] and having my guitar accidentally stolen by a band) and I didn’t cut out enough time to write the post.

So here is a post that I shared in January. I still get goosebumps reading it. If the weight of guilt and desperation is weighing heavy on you, this piece is especially for you. It’s my prayer that it gives you hope and a glimpse of God’s redeeming light. ❤

Beyond a Shattered Past – Flash Fiction and Raw Thoughts

What adventures did this week hold for you? I always love hearing from you in the comments!

-Laurel

If I Were Him – Flash Fiction (written by my sister!)

Hello, friends!

I’m really excited to share today’s post with you all…because I really love it, and because my sister Abby wrote it! I think it’s the perfect piece for Holy Week.

I enter the room. I’m a servant, so I’m allowed in here.

The men at the front draw my attention. There is Caiaphas, the high priest, tall and regal, with a stern face, his hands clenched into fists at his side. Near him are the scribes and elders, and the whole council, all talking in excited voices. But the One I am most focused on is the One who is bound. The One at whom the others cast spiteful looks. There is something in His face…a calmness that I cannot place. They are trying to accuse Him, and I know why. They want to put Him to death because He claims to be the Son of God. They are afraid He will turn the people away from obeying their rules. This is why I wonder at His look. He should be upset, fighting for His life. But He’s not.

They start to bring in false witnesses and I watch with wide eyes as they all try to accuse Him. The Man, whom I’ve heard them call Jesus, does not speak. Then they ask Him a question, and He lifts His head. Could that be? A smile on His face? No, it must be the light. He begins to speak, and I strain to hear, but all of a sudden there is scuffling near the door, blocking out His voice. I turn, irritated. A man enters, breathing hard, and he tries his best to silently move to the fire at the far end of the wall where several servants are gathered. His eyes keep flitting to the arguing group in the front, and as he turns his head, something dawns on me. He seems familiar, like I’ve seen him before…but where?

Oh, yes! I’ve seen him with Jesus in the streets. He is the one that would be pushing the crowds away so there would always be a clear path for his teacher. I’m curious about how much he would know about Jesus, and I edge my way closer. He turns when I tap his shoulder. His eyes are wild, but they calm when he sees I’m only a servant.

“You were with Jesus,” I blurt, motioning at the bound Man.

He glares at me. “No, of course not. I have nothing to do with Him.” Other servants crowd around, but he fights them off, insisting he knows nothing about Jesus. He leaves as quickly as possible, and I wonder about that.

If I were a follower of Jesus and were able to follow Him freely through the streets like I’d seen others do, I wouldn’t have denied Him. I glanced at the front again. No, a Man that speaks such wonderful words and performs such amazing miracles I would surely give my life for.

Little did I know that that very day, He would give His life for me.

Question of the day: What would you have done if you were a follower of Jesus on the day He was crucified?

Empty Reflection – Flash Fiction

Empty Reflection – Flash Fiction

It was the kind of forest to which one fled when one’s soul was full of pain, fear, or secrets. His bore all three.

The wild crashing of his boots through the underbrush calmed as his strength waned. He was not a weak man; muscles strained beneath the sleeves that the saplings’ fingers had shredded, but even the simplest of village doctors knew that losing too much blood could kill the strongest man.

Especially a man who had lost his will to live.

He slumped against the nearest tree and slid to the ground. Twigs and dead leaves crackled beneath him. He closed his eyes and groaned, gasping for the breath that drove daggers through his lungs.

His hair – not trimmed in months – fell across his face in a matted mess. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d combed it. Since…that day…he’d seen no reason for caring for himself.

No reason for living.

He groaned again, almost a scream this time, as the pain intensified and blurred his vision. The trees that filtered dying sunlight gave way to smeared browns and greens, swirling in a dizzying dance. He blinked and the blur cleared into a face.

Her face.

He gasped with pain again, and something in him kept him from shaking her image from his mind.

“Gable.” The memory of her voice was gentle, quiet…urgent. Her eyes held onto his, and once again he saw in them their pleading.

Her pleading.

“Gable…you are more than this.”

He clawed for his leather knapsack and dug in the front pocket. His blood-crusted fingers closed around something, and he yanked it up before his eyes, staring. Staring at the piece of himself reflected in the tiny mirror.

He forced himself not to wince. He made himself take in the dirty hair, the beard full of leaves, the young scars, the bloodshot eyes.

He met them with bold recklessness, staring deep into the eyes as though searching for a treasure he’d buried there long ago. Desperate for some affirmation that her words were true…that he hadn’t lost the last hope of being the man she’d believed he could be.

He searched in agony.

He couldn’t find it.

This time the groan was a roar, and he flung the mirror away. It shattered against the rock face that rose before him, and he turned his face away, gritting his teeth.

“You know I was right, Fern. You know I was right.”

Delirium carried his mind away, taking it on a wearying journey through pieces of his past. He saw again his mother, laughing and applauding as she watched him fight off imaginary enemies with his wooden sword. His father teaching him how to adjust his hold on the sword, how to lunge, how to thrust, how to twist the blade just so.

And Fern. Ever Fern.

Laughing with and at him. Listening to his wild stories, his clumsy jokes, his deepest fears. Calming his soul. In the reflection he’d caught in her eyes, he’d seen a hero. A bold warrior. A worthy man.

“This is not who you are, Gable!”

He remembered the flash he’d rarely seen in her eyes. Anger. Righteous anger. It had snapped in her eyes and lit a kindred fire in his heart.

“You tell me who I’m going to be?”

He’d stormed off without her…but a piece of him hoped she was right.

Even in his delirium he tried to shove away the memory that came next. His groaning rose, and he gasped her name.

“I never meant…I never meant to leave you for life…”

The trees swirled into darkness, and miles away, even more years away, he saw two teenagers: young, clueless, blinded by hope.

“I will always, always be there for you, Fern. Always.”

He had never seen eyes so trusting. “I know you will, Gable.” The breeze carried her voice now from years ago… “And I’ll be here for you.”

“Where are you now?” His scream bounced off of the rock face. “Where are you now?”

Screaming at her ghost felt better than acknowledging his own broken promise…for a moment. But silence – as always, now – met his question, and he sobbed.

“But I couldn’t…I couldn’t have protected you. I couldn’t have saved you, Fern…”

Some enemies, he’d learned, could not be fought off with a sword.

I wrote this one from the prompt words mirror, iliad, empathy, blood, toss, and crack. This was meant to be a stand-alone flash fiction piece, but now I want to know more about this story! XD

Photo by Tom Morel on Unsplash

Beyond a Shattered Past – Flash Fiction and Raw Thoughts

Beyond a Shattered Past – Flash Fiction and Raw Thoughts

She stared at the bloody shards in her hands.

Pieces of a life shattered by selfish choices. Foolish choices. The weight of a broken world was hard enough to bear when it was thrown by the choices of others, but this…this guilt…

It crippled. It crushed.

It condemned.

She clenched her fists in agony, the shards digging deep into her palms.

“Let them go.”

Her head turned slowly towards the voice, the ghost of her soul peering through tangled hair and teary eyes. “Let them go? But I…I can’t. I can’t…”

Didn’t He know what it was to bear such guilt? She’d brought this on herself…she had to bear it now.

“Let them go.”

Eyes still warily searching His face, she let her fingers uncurl, and the shards shattered at her feet. A few had lodged themselves deep in her palm. Her gaze questioned, and He nodded.

“Yes, even those.”

Her face knotted and tears flowed as she picked out the last of the shards and let them go. They glinted sanguine light, but she turned her face from their allure and saw His smile.

He offered His arm. “The wounds will heal in time. Now we walk.”

Tears sprang afresh as she eyed the broken road ahead of her.

“I did this, too,” she choked, and buried her face in His shoulder.

He held her close and let her weep. Stroking her hair, He whispered,

“What glory will rise from walking an easy road?”

Scripture and history are ripe with the stories of legendary sinners who shook the world for God.

After letting his life be defined by cowardice, a tongue-tied murderer stood up to his country’s most powerful ruler, led his people for decades in the wilderness, and spoke face to face with the Lord as a friend.

A track record of selfishness, disobedience, and a disastrous love life left a hero blinded and in chains. God still chose to use him to bring vengeance on His enemies.

One of the worst examples of a righteous woman you could find, she opened her home and protected the lives of complete strangers on a mission to destroy her city. Forsaking all she’d ever known, she chose to follow God and joined the lineage of the Messiah.

God chose Moses. God chose Samson. God chose Rahab.

God chose you.

Your broken story may not bring you glory. It may bring you shame. Guilt. Feelings of worthlessness.

Fight them.

You aren’t defined by your past. You’re defined by the One who humiliated Himself and gave everything to love you, pursue you, and win you for eternity.

That. That is your worth.

You’ve been freed to serve in victory and live like a treasure.

He will use your brokenness to glorify Him to the utmost. ❤

“…one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13b-14

Photo by veeterzy on Unsplash

Reluctant Hero – Christmas Edition

Reluctant Hero – Christmas Edition

Hello friends!

As promised, here is a Christmas story for you all, starring Ryan. If you haven’t met him before, go check out his previous adventures here for a little background on this story. (Although it should still make sense even if you haven’t read the previous stories.:))

This is just a goofy little piece, and I hope it’ll bring a smile to your face!😊

“Ryan! We’re going to build a gingerbread house with graham crackers and frosting and stuff!”

Cameron grabs my left hand and drags me through the doorway into the living room. “Come on! Mommy has everything ready in the kitchen!” He stares up at me, cocking his head. “Oh, yeah, Mommy told me to take your coat.”

I shrug it off and hand it to the five-year-old. He throws it over his shoulders like a cape and swoops into the kitchen screaming the Batman theme song. I shiver and take a deep breath, squeezing sweaty palms into fists.

I can do this.

After all, last time wasn’t that bad. The two and a half hours of babysitting I did for the Winters’ ended in three sleeping children, only one broken dish, and minimal scratches. I’m getting this babysitting thing down.

It’s the gingerbread house that scares me.

After waving goodbye to Mrs. Winters (once I confirm with her three times that she’ll be gone for only two hours), Cameron and Holly spin away from the front window and race for the kitchen table. I charge after them, socks skidding on the hardwood, remembering the multiple bowls of candy sitting within perfect toddler reach.

“Hey, hold up!”

Cameron bounces up and down, gripping the edge of the table. “Let’s make the best. Gingerbread house. EVER!” His scream turns into a roar, and I grimace.

“I want mine to have lots of gumdrops,” Holly mumbles, pulling her thumb out of her mouth long enough to grab a gumdrop from the nearest bowl.

“Hey, wait, first we have to build the house!” I shove the bowl out of reach and grab the box of graham crackers.

Miraculously I manage to construct one small house out of the graham crackers without their curious fingers poking it into a heap… although by the time we’re ready to decorate it, a few of our ornaments have disappeared behind two little pairs of red-stained lips.

“Dude, I’m serious, you have to stop eating the candy. You won’t be hungry for supper.” I wrestle a peppermint candy from Cameron’s sticky palm.

He shrugs. “I don’t care. We’re having chicken noodle soup for supper.” The gag that follows tells me that the aforementioned soup is not a favorite.

“Well, anyway, if you keep eating everything, we won’t have anything to decorate the house with.” I squirt a bunch of icing onto the roof of the house. “Okay, what do you guys want to put on the roof?”

“Gumdrops!” Holly yells.

“No, peppermints!” Cameron roars in her face, and I cover my ears.

“Hey, how about both?” I pull them away from each other and hand each one a bowl of their preferred candy.

“Jake’s screaming,” Holly says, poking her first gumdrop onto the roof.

“I’ll get him,” I say, jumping up from the table. “Don’t eat any more candy while I’m gone.”

It takes me thirty seconds to dash to the nursery, scoop up the butterball, and lug him back to the kitchen.

It took Cameron and Holly thirty seconds to topple our graham cracker structure and start a highly-competitive screaming competition.

I glance at my watch.

One hour and forty-five minutes to go.

Photo by Randalyn Hill on Unsplash

This Is Over – Flash Fiction

This Is Over – Flash Fiction

Gulping in desperate breaths of air, she slowed her pace, eyes darting across the shadowed forest that hunched along either side of the crooked path.

No moving shadows.

And there was the stump – standing weary guard over long-kept secrets.

Secrets that must be no more.

Her muddied boot slipped on the edge of the spade she’d brought, but finally forced it to bite the earth and turn the mouthful over, damp and clumped.

She dug until she hit metal.

She swiped the back of her hand across her forehead, smearing dirt and sweat into mud. She stumbled to her knees, seemingly careless of her best skirt. She clawed at and broke the fragile chain around her neck, letting its pendant land in her gloved hand.

The key ground in the lock, but it turned.

She pulled out the letters one by one, scrambling them all into one jumbled heap pressed against her heaving chest. As she opened each one, she resisted the urge to let her gaze sweep the graceful handwriting that curled across each page.

This is over.

She threw each one into the mud at the side of the path, coating it with a thin dusting of paper snow.

Her boots worked across the muck, grinding her past into the earth until its filth had become one with the rotting leaves and bloated earth.

She marched back the way she had come.

She never returned.

Photo by Lanju Fotografie on Unsplash

I’ll Hold Him – Flash Fiction

I’ll Hold Him – Flash Fiction

Everyone says he’s too big for me to carry now.

It’s probably true. His legs in his favorite Superman pajama pants (the ones that are way too short and ragged) dangle past my knees when I carry him piggyback, and I can’t run with him like I used to.

But I’ll carry him until he stops asking…

‘Cause I know that one of these days he’ll stop begging to be close to me. One of these days he’ll stop giving me butterfly kisses, chubby arms tangled around my neck, almost choking me. One of these days my shoulder won’t be the one he clings to and bawls on when his little heart gets broken.

One of these days he’ll think he’s stopped needing me.

I’ll hold him while I can.

Photo by Bethany Beck on Unsplash

Stop Hiding – Flash Fiction

Hello, friends! I have another flash fiction for you today. Actually, it has a very similar theme to this poem I wrote a few months ago! I hope you enjoy it.:)

“Stop hiding.”

The girl stares back at me blankly. Arms crossed, lips resting in a sullen droop. Unconvinced. Waiting for me to say more.

I hesitate, then take a breath. “How can you expect to be understood when all you’ll give them is a false front?”

“It’s safer this way.” She swallows and breaks eye contact, studying the linoleum.

“Maybe.” I stare at her and she stares back, chocolate eyes pooling with tears. “But… don’t you want people to know who you truly are?”

“Yeah, but…” she pauses, and a tear falls from her lower eyelid. Her toe traces circles on the floor.

I wait. I know her well enough to know that she’ll talk when she’s ready. And she does.

“My story isn’t worth knowing.”

“That’s not true… every story’s worth knowing.”

“Mine isn’t.” Another tear splashes onto her dusty foot.

“But… what if… other people have stories like yours? And they need to know they’re not alone?” I wrap my arms around myself. “What if you’re the one who needs to let them know that?”

Silence aches on for several moments. I can hear her breathing… deep, searching breaths facing down near-terror. She watches more tears paint damp circles on her toes.

Finally…

“Okay.” She sniffs and blinks, her fist smearing tears on her face. “I won’t keep hiding.”

I nod and turn away from the mirror.

Alone

Alone

I wrote this flash fic piece from the perspective of one of my favorite characters in the novel I’m writing.

And don’t worry… he’s gonna be okay.:)

The room is warm. Stifling. I would open the window if the breeze wouldn’t carry the scent of lilacs and an onslaught of memories.

I can’t sleep.

I kick off the sheets and stumble to the window, leaning my forehead against the cool glass. Respite from the heat seeps from the smooth pane into and across my forehead, providing a touch of relief from the oppression that coats my body in a thin film of sweat.

I keep my eyes wide, afraid of what my mind’s eye will see if I close them again. Rather, afraid of how my heart would respond.

I suck in a breath and stare through the glass. All I can see is inky darkness – the firm silhouettes of barns and treelines that straggle across a horizon the sun abandoned. These are silhouettes I could trace in my sleep. I’ve lived most of my life to see new skylines… why does the skyline of my childhood so fascinate me now?

It beats staring at the untouched pillow next to mine.

My breath fogs the windowpane and I twist my head to the side, cooling my cheek against the glass while heat burns behind my eyes. I don’t fight the tears anymore… at least not when I’m alone.

Alone.

I clench my jaw against the word. A year ago it meant independence. Freedom to do whatever I wanted to do. Freedom to go wherever I wanted to go. Freedom to choose the future I wanted to live.

Freedom to choose someone who would be taken from me.

It is not good for the man to be alone…

My hands tighten into helpless fists and I slide to the floor, letting my head fall back against the wall. Tears trickle into my ears as I lift my face to the ceiling.

God…

He knows what’s coming. It’s all I’ve been able to say to Him since…

 I bow my head. I’m sick of saying it. I wonder if He gets sick of hearing it. But I have to tell Him. Our lines of communication can’t go down, and so… I whisper.

Why?

Photo by Iván Barcia on Unsplash

A Glimpse of Sky

A Glimpse of Sky

I have a bit of flash fiction for you today! This piece is the first I’ve written in the dystopian genre…

I knock lightly on the door, inserting the key labeled 1039 in the doorknob and twisting the deadbolt. The heavy metal barrier swings open, and I stare into a monochromatic room. The only splotch of color in the cell is the blond head that’s bent over a tiny desk in the corner. I cough. “Here’s your dinner.”

The man spins, and his eyes shoot blue anger into mine. Blue.. like the snatches of sky that slip through the tips of skyscrapers. Even in the face of their venom, I stare into the eyes almost hungrily.

Color.

“What are you staring at? I thought you had my dinner,” I snap. The impatient tone doesn’t surprise me anymore. I’ve grown accustomed to it, like I’ve grown accustomed to this room… cell. I snatch the first word from my thoughts, furious that I dignified this residence with a term that smacked of life before… this.

You’re weakening…

I shake the thought from my mind and rise to take the tray of food from the little girl. She doesn’t seem to notice that I yelled at her. “Thank you,” I growl, whipping it from her hands to the papers on my desk.

“You’re welcome.”

I know that I should leave now – my job is over – but I can’t help but stare around the room. It’s so different from the rest of the cells. For one thing, it’s twice as large. There’s room for a man to take four paces across and seven paces along the wall, leading to…

I gasp. “You have windows!”

I snort. “That’s a generous statement.” Windows indeed. Glass-filled holes in the wall, shaded on the outside so I can’t see the sky. Yes, the government was very generous to permit me the one room in the prison that has “windows”. They hardly do any good; I can get much more light from the fluorescent bulbs that line this edge of the ceiling. I wonder if they’ve allowed me this semblance of normalcy to assist in crumbling the walls of my soul… bit by eroding bit. To ever remind me of what has been lost.

“What are you working on?”

I shove my hands over the papers full of equations, protecting them from her searching eyes. “You did what you came for.”

“Is that a bird?” Her eyes grope at a corner of paper my hands failed to defend.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a bird… but I think that’s what the figure in the little ink sketch is. “It’s so pretty.”

“Do they pay you to talk?”

“I’m sorry.”

I turn my back on her kindness. After the door closes, a question rises from somewhere deep inside… perhaps a dying gasp from the man I once was.

Why?

Because I can’t remember how one responds to kindness? Because the days of being complimented on anything other than intellect – and grudgingly, at that – were buried long ago? I shove away the tray of food and rise to stare out the window at the gray cement of the prison next door.

What does it matter? The kindness was momentary… swallowed now by a sea of ever-present numbness. Best to get used to it. Taking up the sheet of paper, I rip off the corner and sink to my knees. Staring up and out of the window, I strain my eyes and my soul to catch a glimpse of sky.

I’ve done this every day and have never succeeded… so why do I keep up this madness? I can solve the most complicated equations… but I can’t solve this riddle.

I sigh and tuck the inked bird into my pocket.