Bits and Pieces #Forever Never

Well, here I am again. I know I have been less visible lately and I apologize that it is taking me longer to visit all your wonderful posts. I work continually to catch up..  Between work and trying to enjoy life a bit as well as my creative projects I have less time for blogging as often as I have in the past.

To that end, I have been working more diligently on the novel and, as in the past, I wanted to share a chapter with you here.  If you haven’t read past chapters, some of the characters won’t be familiar but the sequence can stand alone as a preview of what is to come.

I welcome your thoughts or comments and hope you find something in this story that intrigues you.  If you are interested in the history of the story or previous chapters I have post, just type in Forever Never under archived posts.

I hope you all have a terrific week!

 

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Forever Never/Dawn of the Dream

Copyright Cheryl K Pennington 2019

 

 

One by one they made their way

Into the hills of dark decay..

 

Othar climbed the jagged steps to reach the summit where she knew the view was unobstructed, the work made harder by her girth and the added weight of the small girl who insisted on going with her.  And why wouldn’t the child want to see where her father had gone?  Youth and age somehow found communion in their sorrow and hope. They both loved Rith in their own way and were relieved when others in the village decided to join him.  Of course, the proud and private Rith balked at first.  He had always been such a loner but for his friendship with Carraig and grew even more withdrawn in the days following Carraig’s decision to join Amhain in his search for the mother of of their world. He was always amiable with the villagers; but he kept himself busy with work in the mines and trying to give his daughter enough love to make up for the absence of her mother.  Rith was grateful she had only been a babe when the starry night bled fire and rained ash, his heart torn between gratitude and anguish. He was thankful his precious child would not be tormented by dreams of Damanta’s dead eyes as she descended into the valley of caves, burning over half the villagers alive as the rest watched in confusion and horror. No one above ground saw it coming, with such a simple life going on as usual.  They had their food, laughed and chatted while the children chased light bugs around the fire pit.  

Othar giggled out loud, then slapped her hand over her own mouth. 

“Dear Mother,” she whispered.  “What a damnable thought,” she cursed herself for that moment of thinking. Light bugs.  That was what Damanta looked like as she descended into their valley.  Her eyes glowed like a couple of giant light bugs.

Othar had seen them first, floating above the horizon silently, then growing larger and brighter as she shattered their world with rage and purpose.  By the time the others saw them and grasped the reality of danger, the beast was in the valley, spewing fire and cinder across their lives.  Damanta cared not what she destroyed in her fury.  Families screamed as they fled in futility,  their contorted faces melting before Othar’s eyes just before they burst into flames.  Her only thought in those moments was to grab her best friend’s infant daughter and run, scrambling for the safety of the caves. Her mind raced to Carraig and their friends, but she could only worry about keeping Agra out of danger.  The heat of Damanta’s breath singed the ground behind every labored step that she ran; but the terror in Othar’s heart refused to allow her to see anything but the lights above them, the glowing miracles of the caves.  As she fought her way to the steps, those lights soon began to flicker and fade, for the ones who were safely in them snuffed their fires in the hopes of being spared. The ground quaked beneath her feet as she climbed the rocks that led to hope, holding tightly to Joy’s daughter and counting the familiar steps that would bring them to safety.  Rocks began tumbling from overhead and she ducked to avoid them, shielding the child with her body.  Dust and grit flew into her eyes and she cried out, unable to wipe it away.  She squinted, reached for the ledge with a free hand and climbed up, hoping her beloved and friends were there,  waiting.  

“Carraig!” She screamed.  “Joy, Rith! I have her. Agra is safe!”  Othar stumbled towards the safety of the cave and ran smack into Carraig. “Oh! Dear love, you’re safe!” She sobbed into the darkness.

“What in the name of all that is holy is happening?” He shouted over the din of falling rock, shouting and other unidentifiable noises.  “Look at your face, Othar!” He pulled a soiled cloth from his pocket and tried to brush the dirt from her eyes the best he could. She winced when he rubbed the fresh cuts on her cheeks.  With her eyes working again, she examined the infant for damage, but Agra slept in her arms as peacefully as though the world was not crashing down around her. Othar and Carraig  were relieved to see Rith bound up the last few steps, panting, his eyes wild with terror. 

“Have you seen them..” he began, then nearly collapsed when he saw Othar clutching his child to her bosom.  “Blessed Mothers, thank you,”  Rith mumbled as he rushed to their side and took his daughter from Othar, giving his friend an appreciative kiss.  “Thank you, thank you..” he murmured between wet the kisses he planted on his daughter’s face.  Huge rocks crashed against the ledge before tumbling to the ground below, sending a new wave of screams into the night.  Rith looked around frantically.   

“Where is Joy?!” he shrieked, as his eyes searched the shadows of the cave for that beautiful face and listened for the musical sound of her voice.  But,  there was only silence within that darkness and the eerily dancing glow on the cave walls from the fire outside. The shadow and light seemed to mock him.  He turned back to his friends, his moment of gratitude shattered by new fear as he looked past them and shouted, “Joy! Joy!”

Rith glared at Othar accusingly, the gripping fear overriding any crumb of rationality he might have had in that moment, and it broke her heart.  “Where is she, Othar?” His eyes begged for the answer he wanted to hear but she had no words. She shrugged innocently while Carraig stood behind her defensively, his arms wrapped around her.  

“Rith, Othar just got here with Agra. She climbed up here alone.  We haven’t seen Joy…”

“Rith! Othar, Carraig, where is Agra?”

Joy’s stricken face appeared like a miracle as she clambered up over the ledge, tripping on the last step.  When she saw them all standing there-everyone she loved-safe and sound, her heart beat with relief and happiness.  Being Joy, she found a smile in her heart and it spread across her beautiful round face, glowing like a torch in the darkest of nights they would ever know.  She held out her arms and Rith hurried towards her, holding their infant daughter.  He was a mere step or two away from his life’s purpose when a blast of hot, rancid air struck his face, stealing his breath and blinding him.  Instinctively, the loving father turned away, shielding their daughter from the heat.  He heard the sharp, scraping of claw to rock and the muffled, shocked cry that escaped Joy’s mouth in that last moment they shared. 

By the time he turned around, by the time Othar and Carraig ran from inside the cave and by the time Joy knew what was happening, she was firmly in the clutches of the beast. Although she wriggled, kicked and punched, she could not free herself.  The last image Rith had of his Joy was her arms reaching out in futility for those who longed to save her; and the look of shock and terror etched on the faces of her friends would be the last thing she would remember.  

Joy watched those anguished faces grow smaller as Damanta retreated, climbing higher into the night of a million lights.  She struggled against the claw that held her tightly, wanting only to die in that moment. Why hadn’t the beast burned her along with the others?  Who would care for Agra and Rith now?  She wailed into the silent sky, still as death, as it whooshed past her tear streaked face. Her heart was broken and she cursed the Realm for abandoning them all. 

Othar couldn’t breathe.  Carraig stood frozen on the ledge, the images of burned bodies, piles of rock and ash singed onto his his heart and soul.  The valley wreaked of death, the lingering cries of pain and despair hanging on the hot air like a fog that numbed his senses.  He looked at Rith, standing too near the edge of the ledge with his daughter lying precariously in his arms.  As if in a dream, Carraig saw Rith’s legs jerk, jarring him back into stark realization.  Carraig jumped, grabbing his friend by the shoulders.  In that same moment Othar realized what was about to happen and lunged toward the distraught male, grabbing Agra from his limp arms.  Othar clutched the infant tightly to her bosom,  fresh horror invading her heart.  

Rith tried to jump, he longed to jump over that ledge.   Somewhere inside his momentarily deranged mind, he thought he could fly after them, that the wings of his love would take him to where they were so that he could save his beloved, his life, his Joy.  He was only vaguely aware of the strong arms around his shoulders and that his daughter was ripped from his arms as the evil interloper held him back, keeping him on that dreadful, empty, painful ledge.  With fresh rage he fought against the intrusion, kicking and spitting. 

When Carraig finally wrestled his friend to the ground, they rolled away from the ledge, landing in an exhausted heap against the dwindling fire.  Orange embers scattered over their heads, igniting the anger in Rith’s heart, and he jumped on top of his friend, pinning him to the ground. With one hand around Carraig’s neck and the other raised over his head, fist clenched, Rith leaned in so close that Carraig could smell his dinner on the words he spat out. 

“Why. Did. You. Stop. Me?” He growled into Carraig’s face. “I could have saved her.”  Carraig choked and shook beneath him. Rith was angered by the look of fear and disbelief on his friend’s face-his stupid, fat friend that only cared about food and sleeping.  What did he know about saving anyone?  Rith’s long suppressed grudges boiled up from the dark corners of his soul, demanding their due.  In that moment he wanted to pummel Carraig’s face, for all the times he had been stupid, lazy and undeserving.  He shook with anger and was ready to put his fist right where it belonged,  but a firm hand wrapped itself around his weapon, its fingernails digging into his tough skin, the fresh pain stopping him.  The strange mix of painful strength and soft skin against his own confused Rith, drawing his attention from the moment of regrettable sweet vengeance. 

Othar’s voice trembled with disbelief for the sense of betrayal she felt towards their friend in that moment, for the sense of betrayal she felt towards the gods and goddesses who had allowed this to happen to them, and for the pain that threatened to drive her into an abyss of despair as well. 

“Get off of my Carraig,” she warned.  “Or I will push you over that ledge myself!”  She squeezed his fist as hard as she could, digging her nails in so deeply that droplets of red blood trickled down his forearm.    The glaring truth of Othar’s intent punched Rith squarely in the chest, taking his breath away as Carraig watched from beneath him in stunned silence. 

Rith could feel his anger deflating but he clung to it desperately, for it was the only thing that made him feel alive in that moment.  He trembled as reason won the battle and he lowered his arm, his fist falling open in defeat.  Still seething over his friends’ interference, he aimed his accusations at Othar.

“Why do you defend him?  He lets you cook for him and clean up after him, and what does he do for you?!”  he shouted.  “Does he ever take care of you?  Does he carry the wood, or even chop the wood for that matter? No, he does not!” Rith heaved a sigh and looked his friend in the eye piteously.  “Do you want to know what he does down in the mines all day, Joy..” 

“You are angry Rith, but not about Carraig,” She cut him off. No one knew Carraig as well as she did, warts and all; but he was hers and she loved him.  “Get off of him, Rith. Now. No one can do any good if we fight among ourselves this way.  It only helps the darkness to defeat us.” Othar cocked her head and whispered.  “Listen, Rith.  Do you hear those awful screams and moaning?  Those are our friends down there.  They need us now more than ever. How will we help them if we can’t help each other?” 

Rith hadn’t heard anything above the pounding of his heart and the roaring in his head until that moment of truth.  One by one the voices carved a place into his awareness. Every anguished cry, every lapping flame and tumbling rock hammered his heart with new pain.  He clapped his hands over his ears and shook his head as if he could empty it, the moan coming up from his gut in baleful recognition of their plight.   

As if in protest, a fresh new cry pierced the air with its innocent insistence.  The familiar sound stopped Rith’s writhing, stilled his anguish and spoke to every cell of his being.  In Othar’s arms, the blood of his blood, the flesh of their flesh and the light of Joy’s life, cried out in bitter protest. Rith gasped, snapped back to his senses by the voice of his Joy, somewhere from deep within his heart.

“You are stronger than this.  These are our friends. Our daughter needs your strength now, all of you.  I will always be with you as was our promise.” 

  Yet she was not there.  There was only dust and fire and ash.  And there was death.  There was so much death.  

“She is still alive, Rith,” came the voice of his long time friend,.  Rith looked into the eyes of allegiance from where Carraig had remained silently pinned down. “And I promise we will find her.”  

Defeated and suddenly exhausted, Rith got to his feet, wiped his bloodied hand on his pants and leaned over to touch Agra’s screaming face.  He kissed her forehead comfortingly and whispered, “Your Mama and Papa love you.  Always know it.”  He held his hand out to help Carraig up from the ground.  Rith put his hands on his friend’s shoulders and kissed his forehead roughly.  They embraced and no more words passed between them. None were needed.  

Tears streamed down Othar’s face.  Tears of pain and joy. Joy. She feared for her friend’s life but dared not speak of it in the days that followed. Those days had been for burying the dead and rebuilding their lives.  

Now Othar stood on the edge of the cliff overlooking the valley that lay between the Valley of Caves and the vast plains that would take Rith into the Black Mountains.  

A chubby pink hand tugged at her skirt.  “Can you see him, Mama Othar? Can you see my Papa?” 

Othar shielded her eyes against the glare of the rising sun and imagined she could see the small band of travelers inching their way towards their destiny.  She put her arm around Agra’s tiny shoulders and pulled her close.

“No, child, because they are getting close to the mountains now.  Soon your Papa will find your mother and…” she choked back the tears. “and my dear Carraig. Then they will all return home.” The cheerfulness in her voice did not betray her sense of foreboding. Othar knelt to face the child and brushed the hair from her eyes.  “Now won’t that be wonderful?” She smiled away the fear yet again for the sake of innocence and hope.  

Agra nodded and pointed at the jagged black horizon.  “Is that where my Mama is?” She asked.

“I hope so,” answered the only mother she had truly known.  “I hope so..”  

to be continued….

I hope you all have a beautiful week.  Like this…

 

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Whose Line Is It, Anyway? #1LinerWed Badge Contest

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“Hey, whose line is it anyway?”

 

While many things brought me great pleasure in our months of living in Costa Rica, I have to admit that none could elicit a joyful thrill in my soul as much as my little Monotiti buddies showing up. In our little ‘jungle house’ they passed through every morning and every afternoon on their way to the beaches in search of food, fun and fooling around before the trek back to refuge of the jungle.

I have taken dozens and dozens of photos of these beautifully rambunctious and loving animals, mesmerized by their keen attention, their habitual nature and sharp memeory, and their very strong sense of community and affection.

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Palm fruits were down on the list but often what remained to eat
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Resting on my porch railing

I have enjoyed sharing one of our monkey pals with everyone over the past year as part of the #OneLinerWed prompt from dear Linda Hill. I decided to join the badge contest again and turned once more to my little friends in paradise, who always seemed to be ‘hanging on the line’ for one reason or another. The image at the top is my submission this year. If you aren’t weary of cuteness, then please vote for my pals. Just scurry over to the link above for Linda’s poll on Monday June 10th to vote! (Pssst…that’s tomorrow) You’ll see a lot of great entries too.

They would love the attention!

Pura Vida!

A Flake/#SoCs

Okay, I’m saying it for you. That’s what many of you will say when you read my post, but I don’t even care. If being a flake means I have faith in something outside of myself that keeps me going in a world gone mad around me then I’d rather be a flake doing life. (Wait, that sounds kind of like a favorite song….) maybe later.

Anyway, according to my favorite customer at the bar and doorscursion expert Dan , the Friday prompt for Linda Hill’s  #SoCS event is to open any book and, with eyes closed, point to a section on the page and write about the word, sentence or paragraph. It so happens that the book sitting beside my bed is one I have been working at reading for weeks now. I say “working at” because these days reading books seems nearly impossible. Between real time work, trying to write my own book, do some creative projects, spend time with hubby and get out to see the natural world and be rejuvenated, I hardly have enough moments to sit and read more than a few pages. I am slowly working my way through Inkheart as well. I love the movie so I suppose knowing the end keeps me from plodding forward more quickly.

Back to the point. I am not a particularly religious person in my later years although I am deeply spiritual in that I am confident that there is a guiding force in my life and there are things that we do not fully understand nor even often consider as real possibilities because our practical brains cannot pick them apart, categorize and file them away as proven facts. Those are the things that intrigue me most. If I had my life to do over again I would have gone into Science just to study Quantum Physics. Or become a photo journalist. 😏

What is the point?, you are saying. I ask for guidance in all things that I do-for Spirit, God, The Universe, to manifest itself for me in ways that give me tangible evidence that we do not walk alone here. This evidence is not for me, but for sharing. In the words of Fox Mulder, “I want to believe!” And,  more than he, I really do.

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This is a good book, by the way. And so true. Many of us feel we are doing a great job in life, just letting things roll, going with the flow, saying “it is what it is” (I hate that one) when we are really just stuffing things into a big old suitcase with aging rusty latches that someday will give out from the enormity of what is inside,  swelling until it must be recognized. Many things should be shared, gotten off of one’s chest and ironed out, even though it might be uncomfortable or even painful. I was raised in a home where conflict was taboo, so learning to have a civil disagreement was challenging. An all out argument used to cripple me. Now I understand that true change and growth never occurs without some discomfort. Sometimes a lot of it.

Again, the point. As I opened the book, I closed my eyes, asking for guidance to find just the right phrase or thought to include in this post. As I scrolled the page my finger dragged a bit and I passed the spot, but scrolled back up where it dragged again.

When I opened my eyes, this was the paragraph. I ain’t lyin’..

So how do I get to this point,” you may ask, “willing to BE, first?” Processing negative feelings throught the Script is the perfect place to start. As you process your feelings you are BE-ing. It will be of great benefit for you to work throught the hostilities and frustrations you may have so you can finally arrive at the place of ‘live and let live’…of BE-ing, enjoying the peace of now.

This is my goal, even before this book or this passage. To live in the now moment, for it is the only one which truly exists. The past is but a blip in our brains and the future is   a mere possibility.

Here is another of my recent moments of requesting presence to be made known. When we took our day trip to Sawnee Mountain Preserve, there is a statue of the purported Sawnee himself at the entrance to the park. The plackard board states that no true image of the indigenous man known as Sawnee exists, so they did an imagined rendition. I took several photos of the statue, my heart and soul asking if the true spirit of the man known as Sawnee or anyone else wanted to be recognized while I was there, to please feel free. This was my photo. I love orbs! I get them a lot. Sometimes they even show up in photos later, after I have already edited and saved them .

 

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Okay, go ahead and call me a flake. But I am a happy flake, a contended and loving flake. I wish the rest of the world would join me in the hope of flakiness.

PS. I never got a green orb before. Green is a healing color. I love this one.

Okay, so now that the song is stuck in my head I am sharing it with you. Please feel free to keep it playing in your heads all day too. Happy Free 48! More to come on that later!

And. Speaking of “points”, have any of you ever seen the production The Point? It is a marvelous work about acceptance and the importance of being different. Check it out! I saw it as a play in high school but they made a movie of it too.

 

 

 

 

One Thought/#SoCS

Wow! Today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt rather has me stumped. Perhaps it is because the first impressions that pop into my head are negative when it comes to empty/hollow.

This is a subject my blogging friend Jill Dennison writes about most succinctly. But I’ll leave these nuances of empty promises and hollow words to her. She has the most well researched information I have found.

I guess I would have to say my own world is the antithesis of these things. My heart is so full of hope and vision for what this existence could be that the only moments finding me with a hollow place are when I see and hear about the slow decline of such hope, about the rise of negativity and anger that is building within this creation. There is so much talk, talk, talk; but the action seems to be coming too heavily from the depths of the Great Hollow where Love does not live. So, if you imagine you cannot make a difference because you don’t go out and protest or fight in an army, you are in error in that thought. Any change that occurs globally begins within, for creation is in the heart of every living thing, every thing that exists. I just picked up this book to read again and am finding new and exciting inspiration from it. To my surprise I have indeed grown a lot since the first time I read it. If you want to be engaged, both spiritually and scientfically, this is a great contribution. Mr. Braden has several wonderful books out.

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Anyone who knows me knows I am enthralled with the tiny things that work together to make such a huge universe and beyond. If we all immerse ourselves in the understanding of the connectedness of the All That Is rather than viewing ourselves as apart from anything within it, we can effectively create more of what is required to heal it. As I sat reading last evening, a fly kept lighting on my arm, my hand, my leg. My normal instinct would have been to shoo it away in horror. Why? Germs! I know humans who carry worse.

So, I left it alone instead. It stayed awhile and then left. I connected with this part of Creation in a way I never had before. It brought a real sense of peace, allowing it to be where it was even for a moment or two.

 

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Every little thing has its place (except wasps…please tell me what they do good! 😱) Lol.

Here are a few more of the small things that caught my eye yesterday. I hope your #Free48 is filled with a sense of connectedness, with no empty cup or hollow place in your hearts.

 

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The smallest members of our flower bed. Don’t they look happy?
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Zippy saying Good morning in his ‘dashing’ way!
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The world in a drop of rain. Even the leaves know a treasure and try to hold it
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Yeah…well…I haven’t had coffee all week. This is my little treasure. Doctor’s orders! 😉

 

If you guys get thirsty, hop on over to The bar at Dan’s blog for a cold one. Who knows? We might meet up there! 😉

This post brought to you by #SoCS

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