Rusted Notes

He’d almost forgotten what they looked like.

The old soldier gripped his rifle strap tighter as if the canvas cutting against calloused skin could hold off the dull ache in his chest.

Pianos, they used to call them.

Instrument of the gods, according to her.

He’d laughed, but she just grinned.

One day you’ll see.

He swallowed hard and stepped forward. Ash crunched beneath mud-stained boots. A cool breeze crept around his raised collar. A few bits of green crept along the forest floor. Not enough to veil what happened here. Not enough…

His hands over her eyes. Smooth hands, unstained with age and blood. He pulled them away. A simple piano stood in the center of a bare room.

She said its music could contest the gods, but at that moment her laugh put every song to shame.

It was still there.

The ache in the soldier’s throat tightened.

Overhead, branches rustled with the sighing wind.

The piano rested in the center of the clearing, stained with half a century of rain and wind. It was only the tree that kept it standing, near as he could figure—a gnarled trunk, growing through the center of the piano like a prisoner’s face stretched toward the sky.

She’d been right. Its music could rival any other. Or maybe it was simply her voice.

She made up the strangest lyrics during their long walks as the shadows closed in. She’d whispered them to drive away the rumors of war. She’d laughed them as she said ‘yes’ to the greatest question a man can ask.

They’d sat, side by side on the bench, her head on his shoulder as he carefully carved into the sleek wood.

The soldier shivered and touched the battered wood. The lines were still there. Faded, but there. He traced the heart with a trembling finger.

‘The morning sings, the evening weeps. The eagles find the dead. And watching from the eyrie, the eagle child cannot speak.’

Her voice shook that night, but she’d smiled at him.

The next day, the nations ran in blood and fire. They smelt smoke on the wind.

They said her brother died. Her father and mother. He’d held her close. But in the night she was gone. He found her in front of the piano, fingers poised over the keys. She didn’t touch them.

She never played again.

He squeezed his eyes shut, bowing his head to rest against the wood. A single tear traced his weathered cheek.

“You didn’t have to go, you know.” The words were barely a whisper. “You could have stayed…”

He tried. Forced her to eat. To rest.

They didn’t leave the city, even as battle overtook it.

She didn’t cry. He wished she would if only so he could wipe away the tears.

One morning she didn’t wake. The sedatives he’d given her were gone—a week’s worth in one night. It would have been so easy to follow. So easy…

“You thought the music of life disappeared.” He pressed trembling lips together. “What I would have given for you to understand…the music only left when you did.”

He’d taken her away from the flames and bullets. The piano too. Far away, to a secluded grove with only the trees to witness.

He’d buried her there. No stone to mark the place. Only the instrument she loved best, resting above where she lay.

“I told you’d I’d visit, Clare.” He blinked against the tears. “I’m back.” He traced a hand down the molded keys. They were chipped. Stained yellow and black. His fingers splayed over the last several. He pressed them in soft succession.

The rusted notes whispered through the grove like the weeping of a god.

Last Pages: a short story

I can’t claim full credit for this story. It was the product of a ‘what if’ conversation between a friend and I about diaries and writing and death. I knew at once I had to put it in a story at some point, and this was the result.

Coaching(6)

All they’d left were the books, dusty and stained with blood and tears.

Kyth stood among the rubble, tiny pebbles skittering around his boots in a hot wind. The sun glared from the pale, iron sky, unforgiving to any who ventured into this forgotten crevice.

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Between Two Worlds: the danger of writing

Writing isn’t safe.

It’s not that words are powerful (though they are). It’s not that everyone will end up thinking you insane (most generally do anyway).
It’s a deeper problem than a questionable mental state.

And it’s something I end up writing as a free verse poem around the end of last year because there was no other way to put it into words.

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Free Verse: The Dawn

I’ve never considered myself a poet. I don’t know the first thing about poetry or writing it. But a few months back I picked up a pen and started writing. It was emotion, mainly. Just feelings I shaped into words and ended up being free verse poems. The results surprised me.

I still don’t write much poetry. It’s not something I can just sit down and do. I have to feel something, and then I might write about it and it might turn into something somewhat cool. But here is one of the first free verse poems I wrote while riding home on the train from Pittsburgh.

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You don’t have to be the best – and that’s okay

I wrote this out of a struggle I had, and still have. Just because I’m writing an article doesn’t mean I have it figured out. I still have to remind myself of the things I know in my head time and time again…

See, I want everything I create to be perfect; I always have. I love reading well-written books. I sometimes ‘hate’ them at the same time, because I wonder how I can ever write as well and make as big an impact with my own writing. It’s not pride issue of wanting to be better than others. Rather, it’s the desire to create stories and characters and themes that touch lives and to do it in the best way possible. If someone has done it better than me, then that means I can get better. And if I can get better, that means I wasn’t good enough.

Right?

But eventually, I realized I didn’t have to be the best.

And that it was fine.

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Beyond the Parchment: Part 13

Welcome to the next installment of my serial story, Beyond the Parchment. Only one more left!

Thus far, dysfunctional portal, invented by a weary writer, May Ann, actually began to work, bringing characters to our world. And herself into their world. General maham is the result. Check out the rest of the story here!

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Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Fear Clichés

“That just… sounds cliché.”

Four words every writer cringes at. We have so many ideas. We try so hard. And then someone comes along and tells us it is cliché. Commonplace. And we wonder how on earth we’re going to fix our story when everything seems to have been done already.

If you read a lot or watch any number of movies, you’ll recognize a number of clichés on sight. The dashing prince rescues the helpless princess. The mentor dies and his student goes on to save the world. The villain dresses in a long black cape and carries a pet snake on a staff.

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Beyond the Parchment: Part 12

Welcome to the next (and third from last) installment of my serial story, Beyond the Parchment. Because I finally outlined the end and I only have two more parts to write!

Thus far, dysfunctional portal, invented by a weary writer, May Ann, actually began to work, bringing characters to our world. And herself into their world. General maham is the result. Check out the rest of the story here!

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Is Clean Christian Writing a Good Thing?

Lying, murder, torture, assassinations, lust — as Christians called to be a light in the world, should we touch on these darker aspects of life in our writing or should our books be clean and full of light? Should a character swear? Is it wrong to have a character be immoral? What about the sympathetic thieves or the hardened interrogators? As Christians, we want to write inspiring stories. But is an inspiring story the same thing as a squeaky clean story, and what does ‘clean Christian writing’ even mean?

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