A Sense of Adventure

Joshua awoke to the sound of rain tapping lightly on the rooftop of his Volkswagen Bus. A short suck of air revealed that the day was fast becoming a cold one. He rolled himself up, taking care to duck before he got to full height, tossed his blankets onto the back seat, and swung the door open. He breathed in the smell of the fresh mountain air as it mixed with the rain, and could taste the wet pine on the breeze.

He stepped down into the gravel and took a short few steps past a tree to relieve his bladder. As he walked back, he felt a pebble stuck between his toes, and shook it loose. He put on the well-worn electric kettle, and as it boiled he sliced some fruit he had left sitting in a bowl on the seat. The breeze invaded him on the floor of his car, and he threw on a light, brown jacket before he poured his tea. He grabbed a few handfuls of nuts from another bag—a mixture of almonds and cashews—before finally eating.

The tea took its time to cool, despite the weather, but Joshua didn’t mind. He was going nowhere, and had no real thought to get there quickly. The sleep was still in his eyes, and he chanced a yawn that tempted him back to the warm embrace of the blankets. The thought passed through his mind quickly as he sipped his tea.

Today was a good day to be driving. Not for the weather, but for the experience. Joshua loved the rain, and even more he loved how the trees changed in the rain. The wet bark seemed to melt away the decades they had put on, and they looked as though they were sprigs ready to spring their way back to life. When the van sputtered to life, he felt giddy to think that he would get to see Mother Nature so alive.

He pulled away from the bank of the road he had slept on the night before, and found a steady pace of forty miles per hour to drive at. Though he was going nowhere, he felt compelled to make a stop at the mountain ranges just along the horizon. The last few days had been made in that direction, and though sometimes the roads turned him this way and that, he always found his way back on to right path.

Joshua pattered along on his steering wheel to a beat that had festered in his head. It was catchy, but he couldn’t quite make out what it was from, so reached into his glove box and pulled out one of many CDs at random. When the noise finally came in, he found that it was The Wall by Pink Floyd, and felt a sense of bitter irony. The tracks wove their way in and out of the day, and the horizon slowly became the distance, which became the background, and then finally the foreground. By then the day nearly half gone, but Joshua didn’t mind. The sun was high somewhere behind the clouds, so Joshua pulled over and turned off the engine.

He hopped out of the car, and drank in the rain on his brow. The mountain stood before him, but he wasn’t afraid. It was a great day for an adventure. His socks would be wet by the time he was back tonight, ready to do it all again tomorrow.

——

 

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IN THE RAIN

To the man on Main Street sitting in the rain

waiting for the second bus of the day to drive though

might I ask you why you brought a little purple umbrella

if you didn’t intend to open it for your protection?

 

Why is it curled up beneath your brown coat,

as though it were made to take the bus to work

for another long day bent over a steel bench

and you were meant to catch the raindrops?

 

You don’t even pause as you leave

when the pool of water pours from your hat to the ground

to think that there may have been some savior

sitting right beside you, waiting for its turn to help.

——

 

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FETCHING – FIFTY WORD STORY

The ball goes up, the ball comes down—over and over, until I am seated watching his one-ball juggling act. Then, he reels back and hurls it across the yard. It bounces once, twice…and just before it hits the ground, I nab it, though I never felt myself get up.

——

 

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THIRST

The thick pool of blood soaked through his pant legs as he knelt. A ravenous thirst had overtaken him, as it did everyone eventually. He scooped palmfuls to his face, lapping at it as it trickled down his wrist like a dog. In death, he had never felt so alive.

——

 

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CANDY SHOP – 50 WORD STORY

The sweet, powdery smell of sugar filled the room. We watched children bounce along the counter as they stared down the workers. Spin, knead, cut, repeat. The red-and-white dough they worked shined like plastic as it hardened. Then suddenly, they were done, and the children cheered for hot, sticky samples.

——

 

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TRACING (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Pairs

I see in their eyes

the starlight after midnight

twinkling shyly.

 

Star Gazing

I lie in the dark

on a still blanket of grass

gazing at Venus.

 

Midnight Noises

The rustling night

entices my frightened dog

with howls far away.

 

Tracing

Slowly, I trace you

against the canvas of sheets

under the shadows.

 

Mirrored Sunrise

I witnessed the dawn

as a sunset upside-down

when you were with me.

——

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DIVING BOARD (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Window Thoughts

Staring through the pane

to see a magical world

beyond the sunset.

 

Christmas Town

Carols and cocoa

waft over the merry streets

while children go by.

 

Goodbye Balloon

Goodbye my red friend.

I found you on a park bench

trying to fly free.

 

Growth

Towering above

is the bud we planted, back

when I could still see.

 

Diving Board

Close your eyes, breathe in,

open your arms to the sky,

and savor the fall.

——

 

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DEPARTURE

I was out on a walk through the city when my mind shifted between the membranes of existence. I had been looking at the crowds, breathing the air—both the fresh and the foul—and letting the tail ends of the trees brush through my fingers, just like any other person. Then, I was outside myself, looking down on everything else. Not as a god, but a hopeless observer. My body was still moving below; still enjoying the views and smiling at passers by, and I could feel it’s every movement and ache within myself. But my eyes had left this world. I was out over the clouds, looking down at my own personal globe of reality.

I turned the vision, and saw the whole mass of people on earth. For months, I followed them around, growing further and further from my body each day. It wasn’t long before I lost connection to it altogether, and had to track it down myself, instead of just feeling its movements. By that time, I was beginning to grow bored with my new world. Being an observer is hard.

The people below don’t even think about what they are doing. They go about their days, listening to iPods, working mindlessly, and ignoring nearly everyone else. Many of these people go home, look up to the sky, and hope for something to change, but never take the first step to do so. The more they talked, the less I listened. They weren’t all like this, some brave souls tried to explain the problems to the youth, but too often it was too late for them too. Eventually, I found myself more interested in the flowers and the trees than people.

I could follow the roots, below the ground, and watch as they sucked the water from the dirt. I could track the petals as the fluttered through the sky. I would try to console the wilting plants, neglected by their owners, before they washed away into the earth and became part of the collective again, but the truth is they never heard me. I could dive down with the fishes, and see in the dark. The bottom of the ocean is more quiet than the biggest caves. The creatures down there don’t move so fast. They drift, like wood on the surface, wherever the unseen current would take them.

I could even slip between the rocks, and watch the long conversations they had. One day, while I was listening to them, I felt a tug at my soul. First it was light, like a child pulling blankets in the night, but then it began to pull harder, and I felt myself flying through the world. Faster and faster, until I couldn’t even see where we were going. I tried to dig in, to grasp at my globe, but the force pulled me along. Then, as quickly as it started, it all stopped again. I awoke with a start, in my bed, as if from a nightmare. It was dark in my room. I moved to the doorway without even thinking, and flicked the light switch. I was home again. I was back in my body. My heart began to race. I didn’t want to go back. It was so boring here. I climbed back into bed, hoping to escape in the sanctuary of dreams, and fell asleep.

——

 

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CAR TALK

“Do you ever look at the wolves and wonder how they got those shaggy gray coats?” I said to my friend as we looked out the car window. There was a pair of wolves pacing by not three hundred feet away.

“Do you ever wonder if you could shut the fuck up?” He took another huff from the piece and passed it back to me. We had been sitting in the smoky haze of the car for a good hour, blazing out of our minds. I took the piece and the lighter in hand, fumbling to get it going. When I finally did, I inhaled deeply. The smoke filled my lungs. I held it there for a minute, like a dragon holding fire in its chest, before exhaling. The world was already growing fuzzy around the edges—possibly from the fatigue. I had been up all day, out in the sun.

“But really,” I coughed out, “look at how those two walk together. They’ve probably known each other their whole life.”

“Yeah, I’ve known you my whole life, what’s your point?”

“Well just that, like, they seem to walk without worrying. We never get to do that. Even here, if some police came knocking on our windows, we’d be in a bit of a mess.”

“Shut the fuck up, you’re gonna ruin my high,” he said, then followed up with laughter, “do you think maybe they snuck away from their pack to do drugs, like us?”

“What, like they see some mushroom out with the pack earlier in the day, then double back to go eat them and howl at the moon at night?” I grinned back at him, “More likely they’re a couple teens sneaking off for a romp in the woods.”

He turned to look at me with mock seriousness on his face. “Wolves are always in the woods. How can they sneak off?”

“That’s fair. Alright, so maybe that was mistress wolf, and she’s stolen away at midnight to go cheat on her husband.”

“Was it a boy and a girl? I didn’t get a good look at them before they disappeared” He asked, looking back out at the trees in the vain hopes that he might be able to catch a glimpse.

“I dunno dude, I’m just making conversation.” I said, shrugging.

“How come you and conversation never leave me alone while I’m enjoying my drugs?” He quickly reclined his chair and closed his eyes. He meant it as a joke, but I took the point that we should take a pause. It was getting quite late, and he was just as tired as I was, if not more.

We sat in the silence for a few minutes, listening to the world outside and wobbling in our seats, until eventually he rocked himself back to an upright position, and started the car. He pulled away, and we drove home in silence.

——

 

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DREAM LOOP

Today’s dream (or rather, last night’s dream) plays with something of normalcy, which is something that seems to occur regularly in my dreams, which is perhaps why I’ve struggled to remember them for so many years. Here it is:

 

I woke up, for the first time, or perhaps the millionth, gasping for breath. My room was dark, but the beam of light peaking out between my window curtains signaled to me that it was well into the morning. I took a brief look around, when suddenly the door burst in and my father was there, spewing some nonsense about getting out of bed and doing my chores. I couldn’t really make it out, but his tone of voice was clear enough. I sprung to my feet, threw a pair of shorts on, pulled a shirt over my head and walked through the door…

…then sat up gasping for breath again, again, for what felt like the first time, but may have been the millionth. At the time, I had no memory of what happened prior, just as many fail to remember their dreams moments after waking. This time there was a scratching at the door, likely from one of our cats. They would occasionally scratch, asking for food—or occasionally freedom. I opened the door, and saw Twilight, our black cat, staring up at me with great green eyes. I walked her to the door to let her out front, the pitter-patter of her feet were as light as snowflakes falling. I twisted the nob, watched her exit, then figured I’d grab myself a quick bite to break my fast. I took two quick steps to the fridge, opened the door

and again was gasping for air in my bed.

 

But this was where the dream ended. My eyes opened, and the world felt that slight twinge of real that distinguishes it from even the most vivid dreams. What does it mean? I don’t really know. I could be, very obviously, that my life is literally on repeat. Day in and day out things are too similar to really be distinguished. The repetition of gasping could very well be indicative of choking, as if I am dying by doing this. Or, it could mean nothing, and this is just some weird thing my brain decided to project, and I just happened to remember it. Who knows? Let me know what dreams you’ve had that stood out to you in the comments below!

 

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