By Indie Authors for Indie Authors.

Category: Short Stories and Excerpts (Page 3 of 5)

A Story In Song (Part 4—Amos Lee)

  1. A Story In Song (Part 1—Tom Waits)
  2. A Story In Song (Part 2—Kings of Leon)
  3. A Story In Song (Part 3—Ben Harper)
  4. A Story In Song (Part 4—Amos Lee)
  5. A Story In Song (Part 5—Blind Pilot)
  6. A Story In Song (Part 6—Right Away, Great Captain!)
  7. A Story In Song (Part 7—Amos Lee)
  8. A Story In Song (Part 8—Ray LaMontagne)
  9. A Story In Song (Part 9—Janis Joplin)
  10. A Story In Song (Part 10—Peter Bradley Adams)
  11. A Story In Song (The End)

 

I have a story in my book Pieces Like Pottery—”The Gravesite: The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery”—in which I experimented with a number of different literary devices. More and more readers have begun to notice one of the devices more regularly. 

In addition to breaking the story up into ten sections, each of which follows one of the themes from the fifth sorrowful mystery, each section in the story also has a song that is paired with it. Yes, you read that right. I paired a song with each section. Like a fine wine paired with a good meal, the song’s lyrics are intended not only to add another layer of meaning to the words, but can also be listened along with that section of the story.

While more and more readers have been picking up on this, it’s certainly not an easy task for the casual reader, especially not one reading the print version of the book. I’ve promised to do this for quite awhile, so here you go. In ten parts, here is “The Gravesite: The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery” paired with each song. Enjoy!

(For those of you that might be interested in how this section ties into the fifth sorrowful mystery, the fifth sorrowful mystery is The Crucifixion and the “spiritual fruit” is the Pardoning of Injuries. Part 4 reflects the theme of the prayer, “Father, by the merits of the crucifixion and death of Jesus, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”)

If you missed Part 1,  Part 2, or Part 3. go start from the beginning! Enjoy!

 

The Gravesite 

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery

Part 4

 


 

 

 

Mike reached out for Lisa’s hand. She reciprocated, and they squeezed each other tightly. As they stood staring at the gravestone, Lisa could sense how alone Mike felt. The sun was shining brightly, but it felt like it only poured a cold heat about them. Lisa’s eyes welled up again. Her tears never seemed to fade in the last year. There was a permanent quality to her sorrow that failed to grow weary.

The tears filled up to the point where Lisa’s eyes could no longer contain them anymore, and began to run down her cheek one by one.

“He was such a good boy,” Mike sighed.

“Such a good man,” Lisa corrected through wet eyes.

Her little Chris had ventured out into the world on his own. He had wanted to see the world and save everyone in it. Such a silly idea from a young boy, but as she looked at his grave, Lisa couldn’t help but think that he was more a man than she ever had given him credit for. She didn’t know if she now viewed his idealism as a profound truth that she should be trying to practice in her own life, or if she just wanted it to be so because he was no longer by her side.

“Such a good man,” Mike mirrored with an air of satisfaction.

A week after Chris took that flight to Thailand, he called his parents at home. He raved about the first week of the trip. He had already met so many interesting people. As his mother worried about him being all alone, Chris couldn’t stop expressing how excited he was to be out on his own. Things felt right. His father told him he was proud of his son, such independence and adventure in his heart. Then Chris cut the call short to head out with an acquaintance he’d just met for a hike into the jungle to see a waterfall. He was in Ko Pha Ngan. That was the last time they spoke to their son.

Authorities were unable to find his body. They said he must have slipped off a cliff ledge and fell into the river below. They suspected he’d died before he’d hit the water, bouncing off the jagged cliff walls that jutted out awkwardly. He was with another American boy who was on a post-high school tour around the world. Chris met him at the hotel bar the night before and introduced the boy to his favorite drink—an Arnold Palmer. The other boy was about fifty yards ahead when Chris fell, and he only heard a short yell before there was silence. Authorities questioned the boy with fervor, suspecting foul play, but the motive was never there, and they eventually let the devastated young man leave the country.

When Mike and Lisa received the call, Mike crumbled in a heap on the ground. Lisa could see the news in his eyes. She began screaming at the air for answers and details. Few would come, but not for lack of trying. They both flew to Thailand and spent a week searching for more information, but to no avail. They even flew to Spain where they met up with the young American boy, who only brought them condolences and more sadness—but nothing by way of answers.

As was her habit, Lisa continued to check on Chris’ blog. She had an unfounded hope that Chris might still be alive and missing, but mostly she checked back out of habit and disbelief. He was here just a week ago, she thought.

A day after Mike and Lisa landed back in the states, Lisa found herself stunned sitting in front of her computer. A brand new post was staring back at her. Fresh words glowed on her computer display. Could it be? New words from her son? There it was, calling out for her.

 

“Freedom is seldom found by beating someone to the ground, telling them how everything is gonna be now.”

June 2nd

I can’t quite describe the frustration I encounter when faced with evangelical religious-types. I find their position on the way the world works considerably obtuse. The other day I was approached by a middle aged Brit spending time “saving the world” in Thailand. He wore a fake smile on his face and patronized me by calling me brother when he approached.

“How are you today, brother. Have you accepted Jesus into your heart?”

It was clear that there was tremendous pain behind his eyes. Pain he was hiding and running from. The smile couldn’t hide the pain. And he called me brother… I wouldn’t be bothered by this mangled toothed gentleman’s reference to me as his brother, if it felt real. I can accept, or at least respect, the thought that we’re all experiencing the same joys and pains in this life, and we are all interconnected on this crazy journey, but the “brother” just seemed forced. Oddly, the O’Jays rang in my head as I smiled back at him—How can you call me brother when you ain’t even searching for the truth? What he meant to say, in my estimation, was, “Hello there. Do you believe the same thing as I? If you do, we are brothers. If you don’t, then I cannot accept you as my brother, other than insofar as you may some day change to be more like me and then we can be brothers.” It’s laughable to me.

Despite my better judgment, I entertained this man’s approach on this particular day. As we talked more, he began to speak quite horribly about homosexuality, adulterers and an entire slate of things. At one point, I became so embarrassed by what he was saying that I began looking over my shoulder for fear of being directly associated with this man. I asked him why he was convinced homosexuality was a sin, to which he provided oft quoted and incorrectly cited passages of scripture clearly taken out of context. Despite “judge lest you be judge” and “let he without sin throw the first stone,” this man and so many like him seemed to hide behind the farce that they are not the ones judging, God is. They are simply the messengers of God’s judgment. And so we hate, fight, spit, spew bigotry, murder, torture…all in the name of something good and holy. Every religion. Every era. I don’t see an end in sight.

It’s not the idea that he believes a man died for him and all of humanity over 2,000 years ago, and he finds peace and solace in this. I have no issue with that. Religion and faith are full of abnormalities and paradoxes. Faith is to be respected, maybe the most respected. It’s the idea, though, that I need to conform to see the world the way he sees it in order to really live life. I can’t wrap my head around how small-minded this is. It’s the idea that he needs to convince me to “convert” to his way of life, and causing pain and suffering is acceptable for this end. He needs to beat it into me. I prefer to believe in a world that is much bigger than one size fits all. I simply can’t see how violence and death in an effort to push the agenda of any particular religion, is the answer. There’s no truth in that. If there is a God, if there are merits of this man’s crucifixion, may the world realize this and by some mercy, let us stop fighting.

 

Lisa stared blankly. The harsh white light from the internet page glared on her face. There’s a new post, she thought, confused with hope. She sat not comprehending a single word she had just read. Then, without notice, the tears poured out. She began to sob uncontrollably. She reached out and touched the screen. She reached out in agony, in attempt to touch her son before her. She felt the warm buzzing screen, the warmth of the display.

 

 

Check out Part 5 of “The Gravesite.”

 

Freedom (Lyrics)

Amos Lee

Don’t wanna be a martyr in this war
Don’t wanna hear the same excuses anymore
That everything’s a threat
And it’s only gonna get worse if we let it

Don’t wanna blame the rich for what they got
Don’t point a finger at the poor for what they have not
Though the politician and the priest
Live in the belly of the beast because we fed it

Freedom is seldom found
By beating someone to the ground
Telling them how everything is gonna be now, yeah

Now if the tables were turned tell me how you would feel
Somebody busted up into your house telling you to stay still
While the leaders will deny defeat
Innocents they testify by dying in the street

Freedom is seldom found
By beating someone to the ground
Telling them how everything is gonna be now

Freedom is seldom found
By beating someone to the ground
Telling them how everything is gonna be now

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

A Story In Song (Part 3—Ben Harper)

  1. A Story In Song (Part 1—Tom Waits)
  2. A Story In Song (Part 2—Kings of Leon)
  3. A Story In Song (Part 3—Ben Harper)
  4. A Story In Song (Part 4—Amos Lee)
  5. A Story In Song (Part 5—Blind Pilot)
  6. A Story In Song (Part 6—Right Away, Great Captain!)
  7. A Story In Song (Part 7—Amos Lee)
  8. A Story In Song (Part 8—Ray LaMontagne)
  9. A Story In Song (Part 9—Janis Joplin)
  10. A Story In Song (Part 10—Peter Bradley Adams)
  11. A Story In Song (The End)

 

I have a story in my book Pieces Like Pottery—”The Gravesite: The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery”—in which I experimented with a number of different literary devices. More and more readers have begun to notice one of the devices more regularly. 

In addition to breaking the story up into ten sections, each of which follows one of the themes from the fifth sorrowful mystery, each section in the story also has a song that is paired with it. Yes, you read that right. I paired a song with each section. Like a fine wine paired with a good meal, the song’s lyrics are intended not only to add another layer of meaning to the words, but can also be listened along with that section of the story.

While more and more readers have been picking up on this, it’s certainly not an easy task for the casual reader, especially not one reading the print version of the book. I’ve promised to do this for quite awhile, so here you go. In ten parts, here is “The Gravesite: The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery” paired with each song. Enjoy!

(For those of you that might be interested in how this section ties into the fifth sorrowful mystery, the fifth sorrowful mystery is The Crucifixion and the “spiritual fruit” is the Pardoning of Injuries. Part 3 reflects the theme of when the side of Jesus is pierced with a lance, his body is taken down from the cross, and then placed into the arms of His Mother.)

If you missed Part 1 and Part 2, go start from the beginning! Enjoy!

 

The Gravesite 

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery

Part 3

 


 

Lisa was more than just a proud mom when it came to Chris’ writing. She found his words inspirational. They made her reflect on her own disposition in life. She often sat and wondered about the meaning of each blog post, marveling at the innocent wisdom of her own son. She could have done without the quotes that opened each blog entry, but it was his artistic choice, she figured.

“Why don’t you credit where you’re taking the quote from?” she asked him once.

“The beauty’s in the words, Mom, and in the search,” she remembered him saying. Then, as if pausing with levity, he continued, “Besides, you can just look it up on the google machine anyway.”

She laughed at him calling the internet “the google machine.” It seemed funny to her that if someone of her generation had called it the google machine, the term would have been viewed as ridiculous. She would have been laughed at for being too old and unhip, and she would have been told that she just didn’t get technology. Since it was spouted by youth, however, it was somehow acceptable and adopted. This affectation amused her at the time.

Despite not appreciating the quotes that began his blog posts, Lisa always searched. His last reference on May 19th, she learned, was from someone named Caleb Fallowill. She had never heard of him and didn’t particularly like the despair in the quote. She sometimes failed to grasp why Chris provided the quotes he did. They oftentimes didn’t seem relevant. On the other hand, she loved the many references Chris always had throughout his writing. He was so smart and well-read that she always loved finding out what the references meant. The reference to This Is Water was one of those she found fascinating after she researched it more.

Why couldn’t she have said this when they drove to the airport? Why couldn’t she have told him one last time how wonderful of a son he was?

The night after dropping Chris at the airport, she was not yet concerned with these thoughts. She went about her night like a parent always does, trying to ignore irrational fears that continually arise and hoping her son is happy. She also eagerly awaited Chris’ next post.

The following morning she checked his site over her morning cup of coffee. A new entry was there. She smiled and sipped her warm drink.

 

“Unspoken rules of solitude wound without a trace. A lifetime of dreams roll down your face. All that we can’t say is all we need to hear. When you close your eyes does the world disappear? There’s something in everyone only they know.”

May 20th

We never lose the biases that are intertwined in our lives. How we think and who we become are tightly wound up within our experiences and origins. As Michael Sandel argues, it is impossible to efface past experiences or family of origin from our thought processes. The moments that they have pierced me in the past, color my thinking in the present. I became a product of my mother the moment I was first placed into her arms. I am my father’s son. We must first understand that these experiences, these biases, exist, before we can truly understand what is right.

 

Lisa scratched her head and stared at the screen. Sometimes she was unsure if her son was a lot smarter than her, and spoke far above her ability to comprehend him, or if he was merely spouting gibberish to be combative. She enjoyed it nonetheless. She envisioned his plane landing thousands of miles away as she sipped her coffee.

 

Check out Part 4 of “The Gravesite.”

Never Leave Lonely Alone (Lyrics)

Ben Harper

Like an old man
Sitting alone at a lunch counter
Like a small town girl
A big city devours
Some of us laugh
Even in our darkest hour

Never leave lonely alone

Unspoken rules of solitude
Wound without a trace
A lifetime of dreams roll down your face
All that we can’t say
Is all we need to hear
When you close your eyes
Does the world disappear

There’s something in everyone
Only they know
It moves in the hidden ways
Of joy and sorrow

Never leave lonely alone

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

A Story In Song (Part 2—Kings of Leon)

  1. A Story In Song (Part 1—Tom Waits)
  2. A Story In Song (Part 2—Kings of Leon)
  3. A Story In Song (Part 3—Ben Harper)
  4. A Story In Song (Part 4—Amos Lee)
  5. A Story In Song (Part 5—Blind Pilot)
  6. A Story In Song (Part 6—Right Away, Great Captain!)
  7. A Story In Song (Part 7—Amos Lee)
  8. A Story In Song (Part 8—Ray LaMontagne)
  9. A Story In Song (Part 9—Janis Joplin)
  10. A Story In Song (Part 10—Peter Bradley Adams)
  11. A Story In Song (The End)

I have a story in my book Pieces Like Pottery—”The Gravesite: The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery”—in which I experimented with a number of different literary devices. More and more readers have begun to notice one of the devices more regularly. 

In addition to breaking the story up into ten sections, each of which follows one of the themes from the fifth sorrowful mystery, each section in the story also has a song that is paired with it. Yes, you read that right. I paired a song with each section. Like a fine wine paired with a good meal, the song’s lyrics are intended not only to add another layer of meaning to the words, but can also be listened along with that section of the story.

While more and more readers have been picking up on this, it’s certainly not an easy task for the casual reader, especially not one reading the print version of the book. I’ve promised to do this for quite awhile, so here you go. In ten parts, here is “The Gravesite: The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery” paired with each song. 

(For those of you that might be interested in how this section ties into the fifth sorrowful mystery, the fifth sorrowful mystery is The Crucifixion and the “spiritual fruit” is the Pardoning of Injuries. Part 2 reflects the theme of Jesus’ quote, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Some of you have asked about that, so there you go.)

If you missed Part 1, go start from the beginning! Enjoy!

 

The Gravesite 

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery

Part 2

 


 

 

Mike and Lisa had been married twenty-three years, long enough to fall in and out of love at least a dozen times. Their relationship had gone through some real rocky times, but they’d always stayed together. For better and worse, right?

Three years into the marriage they hit a terribly rocky time. In retrospect, it was young twenty-somethings being stubborn and small-minded, but at the time it nearly broke them entirely. They separated for a short period, but they eventually worked things out. The phrasing in this particular case—worked things out—was about as apt as could be, Lisa thought. It took a lot of hard work from both of them.

That third year of their marriage was hell. Lisa could remember how she refused to speak with Mike about anything. She wouldn’t budge. It was the only time that she could remember when Mike’s soft demeanor had turned cold and angry. His usually kind and soft heart closed off. Finally they agreed, before they went their separate ways, they would try marriage counseling. It wasn’t an easy experience for either of them—each session with their “marriage therapist” seemed more painful and less productive, but something kept them coming back.

There was no breakthrough session that had revived everything they’d once had. There was no romantic moment that reignited the passion in their marriage and helped them realize they would be together forever. This wasn’t the movies. Romantic comedies are meant for Saturday nights, not for Tuesday morning arguments as a marriage teeters on the brink of divorce. Mike and Lisa slowly worked to allow themselves to be vulnerable again. They both opened up and shared how insecure and insignificant they felt at times in the marriage. Then after months, the love, so to speak, seemed to return. They had worked things out, as the saying goes.

If a specific moment was needed to commemorate the renewal of their love, there had been an unexceptional Wednesday months into the process of giving their marriage one last try. Lisa had always thought that this was a funny way to look at things—one last try. She always believed that each decision she made would build one upon the other to create the fabric of what she now cared about. For her one try, whether it was the first or the last, had never actually accomplished anything.

On this particular Wednesday, Lisa knew how stressed Mike had been with work, so she left the office early. It felt like a laborious task because of all the pain she had built up inside, but she was determined. She went to the dry cleaners to pick up the suits he needed for a business trip the next week. She planned to go to the bank to make some deposits for him and then the grocery store to pick up ingredients for a special dinner she wanted to cook. As she neared the bank, however, she noticed they had given her the wrong dry cleaning.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” she said out loud in her car.

Lisa turned around to drive all the way back across town. The afternoon traffic was beginning to thicken. It seemed everyone on the road that day was in driver’s education—lane changes without a signal, stopping and starting without the foggiest idea of where they wanted to go, and left turns from the right hand lane. With each passing minute the frustration built inside her. With each red light she became angrier. Each minute stuck in traffic caused her disappointment to grow, which she revealed to the world as frustration and anger.

By the time she made it back to the dry cleaners and gave the nice woman behind the counter a piece of her mind, the afternoon was over. She once again sat in traffic, this time with the end of work rush hour. She made it to bank just before it closed, but she had no time to head to the grocery store. She drove home irritated and disappointed.

As it turned out, Mike had had a similar idea. When she walked in the door, the house smelled amazing. Maybe the smell of garlic mashed potatoes and pasta brought her back to her childhood the way only fragrances seemed capable of doing. Maybe it was the stress of the day. Maybe it was her favorite James Taylor song flowing through the speakers. Maybe it was a lifetime of being scared of who she was and what other people thought. Maybe it was the over-arching fear of being vulnerable, even with her own husband because of the danger of being hurt. Maybe all of it was weighing on her at that very moment. Whatever it was, Lisa crumbled. She immediately slumped onto the couch and began sobbing.

Mike rushed to her side and put his arm around her. They sat like that for a while, Lisa sobbing and Mike alternating between wiping Lisa’s tears and brushing away his own. By the time they got off the couch, they had to reheat the dinner Mike had made, but it was one of the most amazing meals they had ever eaten. They talked late into the night about their pains and fears, hopes and dreams. It felt as if they were teenagers dating again.

If there was a moment where their love was renewed, this was it.

Life is a funny thing, though. Over the years their marriage had had good months and bad months, but they had always worked to put each other’s interests before their own. They thought their relationship could withstand anything life threw at them. A marriage isn’t made to withstand the death of a child, however—at least not their marriage.

*          *          *

Not long after Mike and Lisa had sat on that couch crying in each other’s arms, they were told they weren’t able to have children. After months and months of tests, doctors diagnosed Lisa with Polycistic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and told her she was unable to conceive a child. This news, for Lisa, was unacceptable. For some reason, she couldn’t even acknowledge the diagnosis. Stubbornness has difficulty standing on the sidelines. So she sought multiple second opinions. Mike dutifully stood by. Eventually, they found a doctor who didn’t believe she had PCOS. She did have ovarian cysts, he believed, but he was convinced there was a chance she could conceive, albeit a very small chance. A year, two tries with in vitro fertilization, and thousands of dollars later, Mike and Lisa were finally expecting a little boy. Nearly five years after they both said “I do,” they welcomed their only child into the world.

Chris had always been wild at heart. From what seemed like the moment he was born, Mike and Lisa had great trouble keeping Chris out of it. It was almost as if he was reacting to all the caution his parents had when he was child. In their eyes, he was such a miracle, a fragile child that should have never been born. They wouldn’t dare put him in danger. From the moment of conception, Mike and Lisa cared for their son with the caution of tightrope walkers. No false steps, they would think.

Chris had other plans. He danced to the beat of his own drum and never apologized for it. By the time he was six, for every cautious decision his parents made, he made three seemingly reckless decisions. He wasn’t rebellious; he was just a curious and adventurous boy. His curiosity always brought Mike and Lisa new challenges. Chris forced them to learn quickly how to let go, oftentimes when their inclination was not to. When he came to them on his eighteenth birthday and told them he wasn’t going to immediately enroll in college and instead would be spending time backpacking and volunteering in India, Thailand, Malaysia (and any other number of countries thousands of miles from home), Mike and Lisa weren’t surprised. This may have come as a shock to other parents, but Mike and Lisa were preparing for something like this for years.

He told them he planned to continue writing on his blog, which would allow them to track his travels and his experiences. Chris had been keeping a blog for nearly a year now. He wrote about his everyday interactions and his idealistic hopes. His last entry, the night before he flew to Bangkok, was no different.

 

“Jesus don’t love me, no one ever carried my load. I’m too young to feel this old.”

May 19th

I was at the grocery store the other day in the late afternoon. The post-work rush was about to hit. I hate being at any grocery store at this time of the day. As I danced through the white-washed aisles, I tried not to become agitated by the worn-out shoppers who had just left their boring desk jobs. My goal was to make it in and out as quickly as possible, but my goal was clearly futile this late in the day. When I made my way up to check out, I felt my blood pressure rising as I watched the over-weight woman at the front of the line suck down 42 ounces of something clearly not meant to be drunk in those portions. In a moment of levity, I couldn’t help but think that I was very suddenly and quite literally the person in David Foster Wallace’s This Is Water.

As I stood in that line, I had been erroneously convinced that this trip to the grocery store was all about me, when in fact it wasn’t. I had been ignoring the fact that each of these hurried individuals, the same ones I found deplorable just minutes ago, were struggling, hard-working people that wanted the same thing from life as I wanted. So I made the CHOICE, right there in the checkout aisle, to look at these people as caring individuals who just wanted to be loved, to be seen for who they were and allowed to be themselves. They didn’t realize how much they were annoying me with their screaming kids, bad dietary choices, and whistling. (Why do people whistle so loudly in public?!) They knew not what they were doing. Besides, I’m sure the exposed toes resting in my flip-flops were driving some other people in the store crazy too.

So instead of becoming more annoyed by the minute, I took that moment to realize I was surrounded by water. I decided to think the best of these people around me and love them, even without them knowing I was loving them. Because this was what I would want from them.

There’s no mystical power that will come along and ease their burdens. No almighty god will come down from the heavens to tell them they are loved. The only people that can do that are you and me. If we don’t tell each other we’re amazing individuals just the way we are, no one will.

 

When Lisa read Chris’ last entry before she drove him to the airport, she admired his idealism, as she always did. At the same time, she couldn’t help but think this exact idealism that she admired was due to the fact that he was young and naïve.

“Just wait until you get older,” she told him as they drove up to the airport drop-off. “You’ll realize most of those people at the grocery store are, in fact, terribly annoying people. Most of them are careless and selfish.”

Chris just smiled at his mother without the slightest hint of annoyance or judgment. They hopped out of the car, and he grabbed his one bag. “I love you, Mom. Don’t you dare go and lose that cynicism while I’m gone. It’s my life’s mission to squeeze it out you!” he said as he hugged his mother tightly.

“I love you too,” Lisa doted. “Are you sure this one bag is enough?”

“Yes, Mother,” he sighed in return.

He tried to avoid the eye roll, but it seemed to come reflexively. This was at least the fifth time she had commented on how few things he was bringing for a trip across the world. He had clearly grown tired of the constant focus on his backpack.

“Sorry,” his mother smiled sheepishly. “You know I worry about you.”

Lisa paused to kiss his forehead. Then, pulling him closely for another hug, she told him again that she loved him.

“Another post should be up while I’m en route. Short and sweet,” he winked at her.

Her son kissed her goodbye and then disappeared through the automatic airport doors. Like jaws opening and closing again, the doors swallowed him up. Lord knows how many times she cursed that moment. Why didn’t she hug him one last time? Why did she tell him he was naïve? She loved his writing. Why couldn’t she have just told him that?

 

Check out Part 3 of the Gravesite.

 

Cold Desert (Lyrics)

Kings of Leon

I’m on the corner, waiting for a light to come on
That’s when I know that you’re alone
It’s cold in the desert, water never sees the ground
Special unspoken without sound

You told me you loved me, that I’d never die alone
Hand over your heart, let’s go home
Everyone noticed, everyone has seen the signs
I’ve always been known to cross lines

I’ve never ever cried when I was feeling down
I’ve always been scared of the sound
Jesus don’t love me, no one ever carried my load
I’m too young to feel this old

Is it you, is it me
Or does nobody know, nobody see
Nobody but me.

 

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

A Story In Song (Part 1—Tom Waits)

  1. A Story In Song (Part 1—Tom Waits)
  2. A Story In Song (Part 2—Kings of Leon)
  3. A Story In Song (Part 3—Ben Harper)
  4. A Story In Song (Part 4—Amos Lee)
  5. A Story In Song (Part 5—Blind Pilot)
  6. A Story In Song (Part 6—Right Away, Great Captain!)
  7. A Story In Song (Part 7—Amos Lee)
  8. A Story In Song (Part 8—Ray LaMontagne)
  9. A Story In Song (Part 9—Janis Joplin)
  10. A Story In Song (Part 10—Peter Bradley Adams)
  11. A Story In Song (The End)

 

I have a story in my book Pieces Like Pottery—”The Gravesite: The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery”—in which I experimented with a number of different literary devices. More and more readers have begun to notice one of the devices more regularly.

In addition to breaking the story up into ten sections, each of which follows one of the themes from the fifth sorrowful mystery, each section in the story also has a song that is paired with it. Yes, you read that right. I paired a song with each section. Like a fine wine paired with a good meal, the song’s lyrics are intended not only to add another layer of meaning to the words, but can also be listened along with that section of the story.

While more and more readers have been picking up on this, it’s certainly not an easy task for the casual reader, especially not one reading the print version of the book. I’ve promised to do this for quite awhile, so here you go. In ten parts, here is “The Gravesite: The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery” paired with each song. Enjoy!

(Oh, and for those of you that might be interested in how this section ties into the fifth sorrowful mystery, the fifth sorrowful mystery is The Crucifixion and the “spiritual fruit” is the Pardoning of Injuries. Part 1 reflects the theme of Jesus’ quote, “It is finished.” Some of you have asked about that, so there you go.)

 

The Gravesite

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery (Part 1)

Tom Waits “Hold On”

 

 

The headstone nearly glistened in the early afternoon sun. A nondescript memoriam flat against the earth marked her son’s resting place. Gravestones stretched in all directions. It felt as if every person in the entire state must know at least one person who was buried here. Some probably knew more than one. Seven degrees of death.

I wonder how many people are visiting their own child, she thought.

Every cliché in the book applies when a parent loses their child. Things never return to the way they were after the death of a child. A parent should never have to outlive their children, should never have to watch them lowered into the ground. Losing a child is like losing your soul; even though you may continue to live on the outside, on the inside you’re dying. Every one of these applied, and it didn’t even begin to reveal the pain and the loss of hope she felt.

Lisa looked in agitation up the path towards the parking lot. She glanced at her watch again and sighed.

“Figures,” she muttered under her breath.

“Hello, Lisa,” came the unexpected reply from behind her. “Good to see you.”

The man smiled at her kindly as she spun around, startled. He must have heard me grumbling, she thought. Lisa felt terrible for falling into old habits with this man—worrying, watching, waiting, and then grumbling about it all. Some habits die hard though, especially when it’s someone with whom you’ve spent decades.

“You too,” she replied sheepishly.

She couldn’t formulate any words beyond that. The words lodged in her chest, so she just exhaled at the ground. He stood next to her and focused on his breathing. Side-by-side they stared at the ground as he put his arm around her shoulder. Squeezing her tight for just a moment, he kissed the top of her head. The sign of love—no, care—felt nice to Lisa. She pretended she was indestructible, but she had long since realized that she was far from it. She had been lost inside. She felt alone.

“Did you see the most recent blog post?” Mike asked.

“I haven’t had a chance to look today.”

“It was there when I checked this morning before driving to see you.” Lisa immediately knew that this was the reason Mike was a little late. She again felt bad for grumbling at him a moment ago. She often felt bad for their marriage, their former marriage, and what it had become.

Mike reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded sheet of paper. Slowly he unfolded it and aimlessly looking at the words on the page, he handed it to Lisa. She took the paper from Mike’s hands and began to read.

 

“Well you build it up you wreck it down, and you burn your mansion to the ground. When there’s nothing left to keep you here, when you’re falling behind in this big blue world.”

May 24th

As I sit here preparing for a twenty-mile trip that’ll take an hour and a half because of traffic, I’m struck by how much the little things are what make up a man’s life. Each event that happens and each reaction a man has to an event influence the course of his life. So many people get upset because they are delayed ten minutes by traffic, or because they don’t like what food was prepared for them, or they don’t like the work assignment they have been given, or countless other things that people worry about. So many people wish they were somewhere else doing something else, but they miss what life is really about. As the wizard of westwood would say, “Things turn out best for those who make the best out of the way things turn out.”

Life’s circumstances are always throwing twists and turns. Wishing for something more only brings continual disappointment. All people have the ability to control their happiness by controlling how they think about each day and each event. Every situation turns out sour for those who are always complaining about how things turn out. We will always be affected by our own attitudes. Every response to every action affects our character.

It’s like a rock that is constantly being dripped on. The water is not pouring out; it’s just a constant drip. Drip. Drip. Over time that water will leave its mark. The rock will corrode from the constant impact of the water. Each decision we make is like that water. How we respond to life’s twists and turns impacts our life as forcefully as the water impacts the rock. The decision may not be visible in a man’s character in a week, a month, or even a year, but his decisions change him over time. The impact can either have a corrosive effect on the man’s character, like the rock under the drip, drip, drip; or the impact can have a smooth, evening effect like a stone washed from years of salty ocean water.

So as I am stuck in traffic that’s moving slower than I can walk, I realize that how I react to unforeseen problems, what I do each moment, and what I even spend my time thinking about, all greatly impact my character and my life’s direction. Life’s simple moments are not wasted and unimportant. They are the foundations that shape our lives. They are the formational moments, one added upon another. At least that’s how I see things. But what do I know? One thing’s for sure, I guess—it’s finished. That’s all I have to say. Thanks for reading.

 

Lisa wiped a tear from her eyes. She shook her head with amazement and disappointment. Amazement in the idealism her son has…had. Disappointment in knowing this was the end. She grabbed Mike’s outstretched hand and squeezed as they focused on their son’s gravestone at their feet.

 

Check out Part 2 of the Gravesite.

 

Hold On (Lyrics)

Tom Waits

They hung a sign up in our town
“If you live it up, you won’t live it down”
So she left Monte Rio, son
Just like a bullet leaves a gun
With her charcoal eyes and Monroe hips
She went and took that California trip
Oh, the moon was gold, her hair like wind
Said, “don’t look back, just come on, Jim”
Oh, you got to hold on, hold on
You gotta hold on
Take my hand, I’m standing right here, you gotta hold on
Well, he gave her a dimestore watch
And a ring made from a spoon
Everyone’s looking for someone to blame
When you share my bed, you share my name
Well, go ahead and call the cops
You don’t meet nice girls in coffee shops
She said, “baby, I still love you”
Sometimes there’s nothin’ left to do
Oh, but you got to hold on, hold on
Babe, you gotta hold on and take my hand
I’m standing right here, you gotta hold on
Well, God bless your crooked little heart
St. Louis got the best of me
I miss your broken China voice
How I wish you were still here with me
Oh, you build it up, you wreck it down
Then you burn your mansion to the ground
Oh, there’s nothing left to keep you here
But when you’re falling behind in this big blue world
Oh, you’ve got to hold on, hold on
Babe, you gotta hold on
Take my hand, I’m standing right here, you gotta hold on
Down by the Riverside motel
It’s ten below and falling
By a ninety-nine cent store
She closed her eyes and started swaying
But it’s so hard to dance that way
When it’s cold and there’s no music
Oh, your old hometown’s so far away
But inside your head there’s a record that’s playing
A song called “Hold On”, hold on
Babe, you gotta hold on
Take my hand, I’m standing right there, you gotta hold on
You gotta hold on, hold on
Babe, you gotta hold on
Take my hand, I’m standing right there, you gotta hold on
You gotta hold on, hold on
Babe, you gotta hold on
And take my hand, I’m standing right here, you gotta hold on
You gotta hold on, hold on
Babe, you gotta hold on
And take my hand, I’m standing right here, you gotta hold on
You gotta hold on
You gotta hold on
You gotta hold on
You gotta hold on
You gotta hold on, baby
You gotta hold on, girl
You gotta hold on
You gotta hold on

 

 

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