Matthew sat on the scratched and scarred wood of his bedroom floor, tape dispenser gripped between his dimpled fingers.  There was no preschool today, so he had been left to his own devices.  He was still in his pajamas, which were just a tad bit too small for him, and his brown curls were tousled and leaning against his forehead. His face was screwed up in concentration, tongue hugging the corner of his mouth, as he busied himself with the task of decorating his bedroom door with copious amounts of the clear scotch tape he had found on the coffee table downstairs.

There was no one around to tell him to stop.  David would have, if he were home, but he was sitting at his elementary school desk several miles away.  Momma was asleep after a late night out with friends; and Matthew didn’t really know his father.  For him, the word “Dad” was attached to packages that showed up in the mail on Christmas and birthdays – and little else.  David remembered Matthew’s father, but Matthew didn’t.

David was Matthew’s brother – Matthew’s half-brother really.  He was small for his age and skinny, with mouse-colored hair and large blue eyes that, if he had been home, would have been quick to discover Matthew’s indiscretion and quick to correct it.  He was only seven, but he noticed things.

Momma, on the other hand, never noticed much.  Wrapped in her own little world, she moved from house to house, from boyfriend to boyfriend, from job to job.  She liked late nights and avoided early mornings.  She loved to sing, clear-throated and carefree.  When she was in a good mood, she would dance around the living room, grasping the boy’s hands and swinging them around the carpet.  David loved Momma – but he also knew that something was wrong somewhere, and he was troubled.

In the morning, Momma liked to sleep in, so it was David who would get himself and Matthew ready for school.  He would pull a stool up to the kitchen counter to get the cereal from the high shelves.  He would help Matthew get dressed and then hold his hand as they waited for the school bus.  Momma would be there when they got home, full of smiles, but when evening came, she often slipped away to be with friends.  So David would put Matthew to bed, first making sure that he scrubbed his face and hands with the blue washcloth that hung next to the sink and brushed his teeth with his red dinosaur toothbrush.  They shared a bedroom, so when the lights had been turned out and they had both climbed into bed, David would tell Matthew bedtime stories.  Some were stories that he had heard at school, and some were ones that he made up out of his own head.  Rocket ships and dragons…dogs that could talk and cowboys who rode horses into the sunset.  He told Matthew stories the same way that Matthew’s dad, Jason, used to tell him stories.

David had loved Jason.  Momma had met Jason at the repair shop where he had fixed her car.  He had a contagious laugh and hands that knew how to work.  He would get up early in the morning to help David onto the bus and would sit at his bedside and read books to him at night until he fell asleep.  When Matthew came along, Jason had wanted to marry Momma – asked her more than once, but she always said no, much to Grandma’s exasperation.  David had heard Momma and Grandma talking in the kitchen one day.

“Jenny, Jason is a real good man – the kind that’ll take care of you and the boys.”

“I know,” Momma had said, “but I don’t want to have a husband to worry about all the time.  The kids are enough of a burden as it is.”

David had gone to school the next day and asked his teacher to explain this mystery – this word “burden” – to him.  The answer had dropped a seed of worry in his stomach that never went away.

After a while, right around Matthew’s first birthday, Jason left, taking his laughter and his stories with him.  David cried bitterly for days until one sunny Sunday when Momma plunked her coffee cup down on the table in exasperation.

“David!  Would you stop crying?  Jason wasn’t your Daddy after all.”

David had swallowed his tears and left the room.  Momma poured the rest of her coffee down the sink and sighed, a twinge of guilt stirring in her stomach.  She knew how much David had liked Jason…but, well, Jason had just expected too much of her, that was all.  She wasn’t a “settle down” kind of girl.  She didn’t want that kind of life.  She loved David, in her way, but she didn’t understand him.  He was much too serious for a child.

So, from then on, whenever David missed Jason, he would swallow his tears until bedtime, when he would curl up on the floor of his closet to muffle the noise and sob brokenly.  No, Jason wasn’t his Daddy (David wouldn’t know his own Daddy if he passed him on the street), but he had loved him just the same.

It was a long time before a knock on the door or the ringing of the phone stopped bringing a leap of hope to David’s throat.  Surely, Jason would come back…but, after a few initial visits to little Matthew, he never did.  Jason had met someone new, someone who did not like constant reminders of another child from a woman who was not her.  And Jason did not like being reminded of what a fool he had been…so the visits stopped.  Jason knew he was wrong, but tried to sooth his guilt by sending child support and presents.  Nevertheless, there were times when Jason would get up in the middle of the night and sit at his kitchen table with his head in his hands, hating himself, because he knew he was a coward.

And David was left crying in the dark.  But he was determined that his little brother Matthew should not know these tears – that Matthew should not feel the ache of something missing – of something terribly wrong – that he did.  So he took care of Matthew the way that Jason had taken care of him, and tried to stop his anxieties from drifting into his laughter or the bedtime stories that he shared with Matthew at night.

So Matthew grew, knowing little of David’s struggles.  He was young…and merely knew that he loved David with his stories that created new worlds, and his Momma with the voice that filled his afternoons with song.  And he loved discovering new things – like this tape dispenser.  So, sleeping Momma below and David safe at school, he tore more and more tape from the dispenser and stuck it to the door.

Five years later, a girl with long dark braids picked bits of tape off of the bottom of a bedroom door in an empty rental and wondered who in the world would stick this much tape on their door and for what reason…

…Several miles away, in a new town, David and Matthew walked home from school.  Older, taller, David was still thin and his blue eyes were still just as serious and piercing.  He had changed though – the confusion behind his eyes and the worry in the pit of his stomach had grown into something new.  He no longer wondered what was missing or what was wrong; he understood things better now.  The confusion and the worry had been replaced with other things…things that did not belong in someone so young…anger…resentment…bitterness.  There was a certain dip in the eyebrows and a crease across the forehead that ought not to have been there.

And Matthew?

He still liked discovering new things, and his face still screwed up into a tongue-hugging twist when he was tackling a problem at school.  But there was no anger or resentment or burden of constant worry in his eyes.  Instead, there was always a quiet hope…

because he knew…

no matter what Momma was doing…

no matter how many houses he lived in…

no matter what new boyfriend might be knocking at the door…

he would always have…


A Taste of Fall

“The air tastes like fall today.”

(He said it like someone who knew what he was talking about.  Like someone who had captured all that is fall…the crispness of an autumn wind, colorful leaves curled and crunching under a pair of sneakers, the chill of football field bleachers beneath jean-clad legs, the soft creak of freshly picked apples squeezing together in the box as the picker leans over to empty her bag, the excitement of children choosing the perfect pumpkin, the taste of chocolate pulled from a Halloween treat bucket and peeled from a wrapper embossed with smiling bats, and the thrill of riding on the fender of a tractor while Dad picks a field of corn, brown and yielding sturdy dimpled yellow ears…ground it all into a seasoning and bottled it up.  Put it in all the local grocery stores – took it to farmer’s markets.  He would stand behind the table, smiling at the passersby. 

“Say, have you ever tasted fall?  Buy this seasoning, sprinkle it in your food, and you can taste it every day!” 

And they did taste it.  They tasted it sprinkled on their Sunday dinners and almost felt the cool breeze of early October as they sat in the sweltering heat of late July.  They tasted it mixed in with their early morning oatmeal in the cold bare grip of February, and remembered the beauty of the leaves before they fell off the trees.  They tasted it, and they loved it.  He sold it by the hundreds, by the thousands, then closed up shop.  It was time to retire.  So he took his secret recipe and tucked it away into a corner of his attic – only to be pulled out for family holidays and gatherings of special friends. 

Yes, he knew what he was talking about.  So he said it again.)

“The air tastes like fall today!”  He smiled and swept the sky with his hands.  “Yep, it tastes like fall.  And, man, is it good.”


On the Sixteenth of December

A few days ago I shared one of two of my favorite pieces from a collection of writings that I had written for my fellow Jackson House volunteers for Christmas a couple of years ago.  This is the second of my favorite pieces – a short story that seems appropriate for a day that has left me thinking about loss…

The wind was howling against the windows as Hazel set her dishcloth on the counter with a sigh.  It was a cold-sounding wind – the kind of wind that put a chill in your bones even from inside.  She had been dreading the winter this year.  Her first winter without Walter.  She was dreading this Christmas as she never had before.  She would be alone.  Christopher had broken the bad news to her that day – he couldn’t get the time off of work to make the cross-country trip to see her.  He was her only child.

“I’m sorry, Mom,” he had said.  “I know how hard it’s going to be for you now that Dad’s gone – but I’m sure that I’ll be able to get some time off after the holidays – and we can have our Christmas then.”

After the holidays.  She wished they were already over.  She turned to head out to the living room to flick on the nightly news, but a tap at the door caused her to pause.  She turned to the window and a smile crossed her face in spite of herself.  It was Charlie, the neighbor boy.  Hair tousled and hatless, jacket flapping open in the wind, he stood on her doorstep, looking not a little chilled in the early December night air.  She opened the door.

“Why, hello Charlie.  What brings you out in all this wind?”

“Well, Miss. Hazel, I brought you a tree and I’ve come to put it up for you.”  He nodded towards the mound of green branches behind him.

Hazel looked at him in surprise.  She hadn’t been planning to have a tree this year…although…she had always loved a tree at Christmas.

“I – I wasn’t…”She stumbled over the words, not sure how she felt.  But…”Thank you.”

Not a boy of many words, he simply smiled and dragged the tree through the kitchen and into the living room.

Hazel sat in Walter’s armchair and watched Charlie work at setting up the tree.  He was a very capable boy for his short twelve years.  Watching him trim the bottom branches stirred a memory within her.

“Have you ever read the story The Fir Tree?”

He raised his eyes briefly from his work.  “No, I don’t think so.”

“Well, it’s a story that tells about Christmas from the tree’s point of view.  I read it when I was about your age – about 60 years ago, if you believe it.  Kind of a sad story.  It always made me feel a little bad for the evergreens that we cut down every Christmas.”  She paused for a moment and gazed down at the spot on the arm of the chair that Walter had worn smooth with use.

“Walter and I knew each other – were friends – even then.  I told Walter that I almost felt bad killing the trees just to decorate them for Christmas and that I wished we could just decorate them right where they stood, out in the snow.  And Walter said ‘Well, why don’t we?’ And just like that we started planning.  We found the perfect tree in his father’s woods and made decorations for it that the birds would enjoy – popcorn strings, berry clusters, pinecones rolled in peanut butter and sunflower seeds – and we made that tree into the prettiest little tree that you ever did see.”  She paused again and her eyes wandered to Walter’s walking stick, still leaning against the fireplace where he had last left it.

“Walter always did know how to make a Christmas special.”

Charlie, done with his work, stood up.  Hazel’s eyes were on the floor and her chin was in her hands.  He opened his mouth as if to say something, but bit his lip instead.  His brown eyes, older than his years, gazed at her sympathetically.

“Miss. Hazel, I’ve gotta go.  If you need help with anything, just let me know.”

“Thank you, Charlie.”

The door snapped shut and Charlie shoved his gloveless hands into his pockets to keep warm.  Some snowflakes were starting to twist crazily through the wind.  He gazed up at the sky, his face troubled; but then the moon broke suddenly from behind the clouds, shining down on the foot path just as a smile broke out on Charlie’s face.  He had an idea.

Hazel went for a walk in the woods every morning and early evening, weather permitting.  The doctor said that it was good for her health.  She always took the same path.  She stepped out on Christmas Eve with some trepidation.  There was a light dusting of snow and the air bit at her nose and cheeks, but she felt for some reason like she needed this walk tonight and she absolutely wasn’t going to give it up.  The trees were reaching up to the sky in all their naked glory and there was a cardinal perched on a limb, watching her progress.  As she walked slowly along the path, boots crunching on snow-covered leaves and breath coming misty white, it suddenly came over her that Walter felt oddly close to her tonight.  He always used to take these walks with her.  He had always said that there was nothing better for the heart and the soul than spending some time in God’s creation.  For some reason, she could almost feel him walking beside her – and it warmed – it didn’t hurt.

The path ended in a clearing in the woods where a house had once been.  Hazel loved this spot because the old flower beds from the house still poked up through the grass and the flowers were there for the taking in the spring and summer.  But it was winter now, so the clearing would only serve as a turning point.

Or so she thought.  As she turned the curve that led to the clearing, she gasped.  There, a little evergreen tree had sprung up of its own accord several years ago.  But it was not the tree that was unexpected; it was what adorned it.  Hung amongst its branches were popcorn strings, red berries, and pinecones slathered with peanut butter and sunflower seeds.

Hazel felt tears welling up behind her eyes like she had not felt in a long time.  Because these tears…these tears…were not tears of pain.  She wiped one aside as a smile spread across her face.

A song sparrow fluttered up to the top of the tree as behind it, the sun began to set in a blaze of color.

“Thank you,” whispered Hazel.

A Bottle of Orange Pop

The late summer sun crawled at the back of her neck and her flip-flop feet clung to the pedals of her hot pink bicycle.  Her mousey brown hair was tied up into a pony tail and her sky blue shorts and tank top were doing their best to fight the heat.  She was knocking at the door of her early teenage years, and with teenage years came more responsibility.  Or so her ma said.

“I need you to take your bike to the store and get me a few things.  We need bread…lunchmeat…toothpaste…cereal…chips…are you writing this down?”  Ma punctuated each of her list items with another puff of her cigarette.  There was a haze of smoke lingering around her face; a face deeply lined with years of hard living.

“No.”  The girl in the blue shorts had said.  Then she had scrambled through the haze over to the telephone table, where a pack of yellow post-its sat next to a plastic cup full of pencils.

“Oh…and a two-liter of orange pop.  Don’t forget that.  Your Dad’ll have a fit without it.” Ma never looked at her once while she made her list.  She just sat slumped on the sofa, cigarette between her fingers, The Price is Right shouting from the television in front of her.  Her boney ankles were propped up on the coffee table, feet barely grazing the ash tray.  The girl in the blue shorts sometimes wished that her ma was different – more like other moms she had met – but at least daytime Ma was better than nighttime Ma.  Daytime Ma was in a cigarette-filled haze, but nighttime Ma dipped into worse things after the kids went to bed.  Bottles and bottles of alcohol.  Needles.  Ma thought that the girl in the blue shorts didn’t know.  But she knew.

So she had found herself on her hot pink bicycle, flip-flop feet clinging to the pedals, two bright yellow plastic dollar store bags hanging precariously from the handle bars.  She rolled down the sidewalk, past houses with well-manicured lawns and flower pots peering out of windows, and wondered what it was like inside of those houses.  Were they as happy and carefree as they looked?  Or did a heavy haze eat away at their insides, too?

Then, it happened:  One of her plastic bags fell from the handle bars and smacked down onto the sidewalk.  The bottle of orange pop rolled out onto the cement.  She sighed and climbed off her bike, picked up the pop and dropped it back into the bag next to the toothpaste and the box of cereal.  But the weight of the orange pop was too much for it now.  The dollar store bag, already weakened by the fall, gave up entirely.  The bottom split and dropped all of its contents onto the ground.

“Crap!” She picked up the pieces, sticking the toothpaste into the other sack and cradling the box of cereal and the orange pop in one arm.  She would have to push the bike forward with the other arm.  It was going to be a long, hot walk.

She passed a couple of houses before it happened.  The unwieldy two liter of orange pop slipped from her arm and fell to the ground again.  She picked it back up, wishing to herself that such stupid things as big bottles of pop and cheap plastic bags and Mothers who didn’t care about anyone but themselves had never existed.  She cradled it in her arm again, and pushed the hot pink bicycle forward.

Then it happened again, on the corner next to the video store.  The orange pop slipped from her once more.  She sighed and let bike, remaining sack, and cereal drop to the ground next to it.  She pulled her phone out of her pocket.  There was no way she was going to make it home anytime soon like this.  She would have to call Ma to come and pick her up.  She punched in the number for home.

Meanwhile, back at the house, the phone rang.  But no one heard it.  Ma lay in a heavy sleep on the sofa, the talking head on the news announcing an approaching rain cloud from the t.v. set, the haze floating above her head, her cigarette burning a hole in the yellowed upholstery.

The girl in the blue shorts sat next to her hot pink bike, phone in hand, and waited.


(Note:  Just a bit of fiction for y’all today – because sometimes I get to see tiny pieces of people’s lives and I like to let my imagination fill in the blanks.  Forgive me girl in the blue shorts;  I wish you far better things than this.)




The House on the Hill, Part 2

I like to imagine the history behind things – I always have.  This fondness led me to write a post entitled The House on the Hill two years ago.  Recently, I heard a story that inspired me to write a new chapter for the house on the hill (because, let’s face it, most houses have multiple stories to tell).  So I wrote this fictional little tale.  But after I wrote it, I realized that (especially in the light of recent tragedies) this story might be misconstrued.  I thought about not posting it – but this story has been hovering in the corners of my mind for a while now – so I felt that it wanted to be shared. 

So, to preface my story, I will just say this:  This story is not about guns.  It is not about prejudice.  It is about fear – that feeling that all of us have multiple times in our lives – some of us every day.  It is about how we can let fear control our lives – and the peace that can come when these fears are released.  And, yes, fear is often behind prejudice.  It is often behind anger.  It is when we cling to these things that our troubles begin.  But we can let go of them.  There is always hope.

And so my story begins…   

This was after the man with the mile-wide smile and the woman with the laugh that could climb hills.  This was after the little girl with the curls just like her mother’s.  This was after the daffodil tea parties.

Years after.

By this time, the house on the hill had started to weather.  It’s walls were in need of paint, it’s living room window had a badly patched hole in the center where the neighbor kid had thrown a poorly aimed baseball, and the once carefully tended flower beds were choked with knee-high grass.  But it was still perched proudly atop the hill.

That’s why he came – the man with the dark hair that never would lie flat and the beard that framed a crooked, unsure smile.  He stood at the bottom of the driveway next to the mailbox, tall and lithe, arms crossed and head tilted.  This was it.  This was what he had been looking for.

A safe place.  A place where his fears would not take him unawares.  A place where he could hole himself up in an emergency.  A place where he would see them coming way before they saw him.  And this house, seated tall and sturdy upon the hill, looking down over all of its neighbors, fit the bill.  So he bought it.

They all laughed at his so-called “conspiracy” theories.  But he felt that he had read the signs – and he knew it was coming – an uprising, riots, a civil war of the minority against the majority.  The fear of The Other was upon him and he wasn’t going to be taken by surprise.  When it happened – this war – he would be ready.

So he moved into this house – a simple, somewhat rundown family home to the everyday passerby – but a fortress to him.  He put as little furniture in the rooms as possible, partly because he didn’t need much, and partly because less furniture meant less places for intruders to hide.  He moved his gun safe into his bedroom and placed a weapon ready in every room.

In the morning, he sipped coffee while reading a paper speckled with what he saw as evidence of what was to come – a race riot in Chicago; a shooting in L.A.  That kind of tension couldn’t exist without producing some results.  War was coming.  And he would be ready.

During the day, he went to work, where he smiled his unsure smile as he greeted his coworkers and debated about the state of the country with his boss at lunch over bologna sandwiches and barbecue chips.

At night, he sat with his recliner pointed toward the front window that looked out on the road and watched television.  The light from the T.V. set flickered off the barrel of his rifle leaning against the wall behind him and the hum of the voices of Andy and Barney Fife, Ben Cartwright and Little Joe, and the Skipper and Gilligan lured him to sleep.

He lived this way for years – waiting…waiting.  He knew that it was coming.  It didn’t matter what anyone else said.  The dark hair and the beard that framed the unsure smile steadily turned more gray.  He had to put on his reading glasses to read his morning paper and the people that he shared his uprising theories with began to chalk his paranoia up to a mind enfeebled by old age.

He took to spending long periods of time sitting out on his front lawn, the ever-ready rifle in his lap, looking down at the road.  The neighbors paid him no heed.  The old man may be a little off, but he was harmless.

He was sitting there at sunrise one morning, cradling his fears, when everything changed.   As he watched the light coming up over the horizon and peering over the dew-drenched grass, and felt the house on the hill leaning over him protectively, suddenly he knew –

There was nothing to fear.

His neighbor found him that afternoon, sitting motionless in his chair, his never-used rifle discarded on the ground, the breath gone from his body.  And as his neighbor looked into his face, he couldn’t help but feel that there was something different there, something besides the cold assurance of death –

There was a smile on the old man’s face.

And it had ceased to be unsure.

Running Home

There is something in me today

that wants to run.

Hair flying, sun shining,

chill, crisp, autumn air

sliding past pale cheeks.


I want to run

through the wind-swept grass

in the back corner pasture,

and along steady cow paths

dirt-trodden, grass-lined, well-met;

human feet on cow-packed soil.


I want to run

along Lake Michigan,

right where water meets sand,

waves lapping at toes,

gulls crying from the air,

lake-stirred wind bringing

a cheerful chill to the spine.


Today I sit in a chair in Kentucky

and run home simultaneously,

heart light and smile wide.

Chairs can not hold me today.


Ugly Thoughts

There are things that gnaw away at you; chew you up until all is rotten inside.

There are things that blacken what once was pure.  Burn it up, then watch the ash fall to the ground.

There are things that gnarl your edges, tangle your roots, twist you, warp you into something that you were never meant to be.


You gnaw and chew,

blacken and burn,

gnarl and tangle.

You build walls,

construct stumbling blocks,

sit back and wait for rot to set in.

You warp me into something

I was never meant to be.

You suffocate me.


The Sound of Silence

Silence is a still winter night,

shining white in the moonlight.

Air cool, crisp, clean;

stars unblemished.


Silence is an empty house

with peeling walls and

frail corner cobwebs,

waiting with little hope.


Silence is the family room

after a funeral, flames flickering,

mind numb, bones tired,

tissues torn in restless fingers.


Silence is a thankful prayer

whispered without words

as the early morning light

kneels at the window sill.


Silence disquiets and rejects,

soothes and rejuvenates.

Sorrowful or joyful;

harrowed or healed,

we find ourselves in

the sound of Silence.

The House on the Hill

I stopped by today – on a whim.  To see if your banks contained any last remnants of early spring flowers.

And there you were, your old, quiet self, standing proudly on the hill.  I found them – the flowers – pale white sticking up from the untrimmed lawn.  That was all I meant to do, really – run from the car, pick a few flowers, run back to the car.  But something called me to linger.  And that something was you.

If only you could tell me your story.  I like to hear stories – whispered in the wind, radiating from the rotting wood of an old fence post.  Perhaps they are just products of my imagination, but I like to think that people leave behind little pieces of themselves in their handiwork…pieces that have stories to tell – if you let them.

You’re a proud house, and I know that your pride came from somewhere.

Perhaps it was the man with the mile-wide smile and the sweat on his brow who stepped back to look at you after placing the final nail in your walls.  He had eyes that crinkled when he smiled and his trouser legs were dusted with dirt.  And he was proud of you.  The house that he built with his own hands.

Perhaps it was the woman with the curl on her forehead and the laugh that could climb hills.  She laid out the flower beds – the sunshine daffodils and the dainty white flowers (I don’t know their name.  She did).  She was wearing an apron with scalloped edges and no matter how often she pushed that curl away, it would always fall back to her forehead.  And she was proud of those flowerbeds.  And so were you.

Perhaps it was the little girl – the one with the curls (just like her mother’s) that she let run wild.  She popped the tops of those sunshiny daffodils off their stems and laid them on a leaf for a party.  A flower teacup and a leafy saucer.  She had scraped knees from climbing that tree in the backyard and dimples that popped out as she offered her momma some tea.  And she was proud of her makeshift tea party held next to your flowerbeds.  And so were you.

But that was many years ago.

Today you stand empty and alone.  Walls gray, paneless windows gaping at your sides.  There is not much to watch over now.  The neighbor’s dog circling his master’s trailer at the bottom of the hill.  An occasional visitor, coming to pull a piece of farm equipment from your backyard shed.  Me, stepping in your door like a tourist come to see a forgotten relic (Tickets please!  No cameras.).  Me, picking daffodils planted many years ago – the last remnants of those flower beds.

You’ve been forgotten for a long time.  But I can still see your pride.  I would love to think that someday you could be repaired – that your walls could echo with voices once again.  But…I fear…you have been left alone for far too long.

Someday you will probably sag to your knees in the dirt, perhaps naturally; perhaps by the hand of man.  And they will take you and bury what is left of you beneath the ground.  And build a new house atop your hill.

And then your quiet pride will be gone…to the outside world at least.

But there – buried snugly in the ground – you will  sing a lullaby to this new baby house.  And the song will be about a man with sweat on his brow and a smile a mile wide.  About a woman with a curl on her forehead and an eye for sunny yellows and calming whites.  A little girl with scraped knees and an invitation to a tea party.

And the baby house will hear you.  And you won’t be forgotten.


“Where are you going?”

(To a fair autumn pasture with a wind that filters through your hair and blows you into the valley.)

“Well…I guess…I don’t know where I’m going.”

(To a quiet place.  A seat of rock in a clearing in the woods, where the sun smiles down through the leaves.)

“When will you decide?”

(On an early spring morning.  At a pond along a dirt road.  A pair of binoculars around your neck, a new bird to be seen hidden amongst the cattails.)

“I don’t know.  I don’t know where I’m going.  I only know where I came from.”