Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Last Snowflake

            Jeff was eight years old when he started collecting the last snowflake of a storm.  It was during one of those snow days students dream of; heavy fluffy flakes falling like a spring rain. Inches would fall in minutes, yet the day was warm and kids, bundled up by mothers, headed out to play. 
             As the daylight started to fade, noses red and shiny from the cold, Jeff headed home.  The snow was almost done falling, and with a block left before his home the storm seemed to have ended.  Jeff felt good, as only kids can. No worries about where to put the wet boots, or anxiety of catching a cold.  Those were grownup issues.  The day was filled snow angels, half recognizable forts, and Cindy's mom bringing out hot chocolate around three o'clock.  Jeff was wishing it wouldn't end when he saw it.  A single fluffy flake falling, twirling, reflecting the gold and red of the sunset.
            Jeff let it fall onto his wet mittens.  It was the size of a quarter, an intricate design of diamonds and angles.  Jeff jogged home and placed it in a Ziploc bag. He then stored it in the freezer.  He would add three more Ziploc bags, each with the last snowflake of that winter's storms.
            Over the next three years Jeff would collect the last snowflake of every storm.  Well almost every storm.  When he was 10 his dad found him asleep in the entryway with his boots on.  Jeff had tried to stay awake during a storm that started at dinnertime.  Jeff didn't talk to his mom for two days when he was eleven when she made him come in for dinner.  Jeff had been out in the storm for forty-five minutes waiting for the last snowflake.  Each time he thought he had it; another burst of flakes would be released. By the time he was done eating, the skies were clear.
            Jeff never explained why he collected the snowflakes, not even to his parents.  But as so many magical things disappear in our lives, so did collecting the last snowflakes.  When Jeff was thirteen the illusion of being cool was more important than collecting snowflakes.  Without a word Jeff went to the family room to play video games the night of the first storm.  His dad thought about asking him if he was heading outside, but Jeff didn't talk more than a few words to his parents that year.  The illusion of cool influenced more in Jeff's life than snowflakes.
            Jeff would think about the last snowflake of storms over the years.  During a football game his senior year, sitting in the library studying for finals his sophomore year of college.  Jeff almost told Susan, his future wife, about the last snowflake while walking her through a beautiful snowfall to her dorm during graduate school.  He stood out front of Susan's dorm that night actually hoping he could catch the last snowflake. But the snow kept falling, beautifully shimmering in the light of the lamppost along the walkway.  After five minutes he decided to head home to work on his thesis.  Not wanting to look like a stalker or something outside a girl's dorm.
            Jeff's life and memory moved farther and farther away from those five winters of collecting snowflakes.

            "Daddy, come look!" A little girl, eight years old draped across the top of the couch, watches the snow fall in random patterns. "Daddy, it is so pretty."
            "Humm, yes it is." Jeff joins his daughter across the top of the couch.
            Grace becomes quiet.
            "What's wrong?" Jeff asks her, still watching the snowflakes, big and fluffy, fall in front of the them.
            "Nothing, I just wish I could," Grace looks at her dad trying to articulate a deep feeling she doesn't have words for, "hold the snow.  Hold the way it looks?" She raises her eyebrows in a question.
            Jeff smiles, "You mean have this moment last forever?"
            "Yes!" Grace smiles, “forever." She turns back to watch the snowflakes fall.
            They are quiet for a few moments. Jeff starts to smile, but starts to doubt what he is thinking.
            "Do you want to know a secret, Grace?"
            She turns bright eyed toward Jeff.
            "If we catch the last snowflake of this storm, it will always be with you, in here." Jeff points to his heart.
            "In my heart?" Grace asks with a tone of confusion.
            Jeff regrets even bringing up the idea.  It sounded so silly coming from his adult mouth.  Life was not so magical when you had a mortgage to pay.
            Grace looks at Jeff, "Will it be there forever?"  Her eyes wide.  Her face open and honest, ready to believe in anything her daddy said.
            For a moment Jeff debates whether to tell her the truth or not.  He decides on the truth.
            "Yes, this moment will stay in your heart forever, but only if you catch the last snowflake." Jeff tells her, emphasizing the last part.
            Grace turns to the window and softly asked her daddy, "Can you help me catch it?" She turns back to Jeff hoping.
            "Yes, I will.  Let's grab our boots and mittens and a Ziploc bag to put the snowflake in."
            A father and daughter head out into the yard ready to capture a moment of life together.
           

Monday, November 26, 2012

Rain Game Snippet for NaNoWriMo


The rain was a now a curtain.  Coach Riner couldn’t see the visitor’s sideline.  The refs said they would call the game if there was lighting, but we would play through the rain.  Coach Riner's play sheet was in pieces on the ground, it had disintegrated from the rain.
            "Time Out!" Coach Riner signaled and approached the side judge. "Time Out!"  The whistle blew. 
            The Tigers were down by four with three minutes left in the third quarter.  It was hard to run the ball.  It was impossible to throw. The middle of the field was mud.  The team huddled in close to Coach Riner.
            "We need to get out of the middle of field.  Indy Left, Zip, 28 Swing." 
            "Coach, can we do this out of shotgun? I can't get my feet going in the mud." Mike said.
            "Kyle? Can you get it back to him?" Coach Riner asked his center.
            "Yes, coach." Kyle never said more than what was needed.
            Coach Riner patted him on the top of his helmet. "I thought so.  OK, Huston Left, Zip, 28 swing."
            For a moment Coach Riner thought about the crowed.  He wondered what they could see.  How many were in the stands?  Coach Riner was happy that his wife had decided to stay home. He turned his mind back to the game as the team broke their huddle.  The team was on their own 45-yard line. It was second and eight.

            The line judge stood with the ball under his coat. The crew was switching the balls every two downs.  Kevin, the ball boy, had given up trying to keep the balls dry.  He now set his efforts on getting the mud off.
            "Ready?" The line judge asked as Kyle step up to set the line.
            "Yes, sir." Kyle replied as he set his feet.
            The line judge set the ball down with the laces away.  The teams set their lines.  There was no jumping around, linebackers set their bodies to face their gaps, DBs got into a wider athletic position. The receivers set like stone.  No one was going to risk losing their footing.
            Mike surveyed the defense as a habit, not really looking at the defensive set.  The weather had canceled any adjustments. "Blue 78...” Mike paused.  1, 2, 3, ... 11?  As Mike was scanning the second time his quarterback instincts kicked in.  They had all eleven players in.  The safety and free safety were sitting about eight yards back.  Even with the shotgun formation they were playing all out run.  Black 30 series flashed across his mind.
            Teon would still come across in motion. Jay would still swing.  But instead of blocking the backer, Teon would release for a flag rout, Cam would block and release.  Could he make that pass?  Coach Riner's voice piped up in his head, "You are the leader on the field.  Lead."  Mike wanted this game for Jason, for this team to get back above .500.  Nothing would be lost if he simply ran the play.  Coach Riner had called it.  Coach was taking the chance on a pass play; the audible wouldn't be any different.
            "Black 34.  Black 34." Mike called out.  Teon crossed his face.  Mike swore he saw a smile. "Set.... Hut!"

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

NaNoWriMo Snippet: Game plan


            The boys rambled in to Coach Riner's room, backpacks slung against the wall.  Chatter filled the room like a fog.  Sometimes the noise was hard to walk through, let alone get through the room as the boys hap hardly found space to sprawl out on the floor and desk.
            Coach Riner made his way through the maze of feet and elbows. "OK guys, quite down."  The noise decreased only a little. 
            Coach Glean was not in the mood, "Coach asked for you to quite down."  He didn't yell it, but delivered it above the ruckus to make sure his point was made.  The team quieted down.  Over the weekend Coach Glean and Coach Riner went around and around about how to game plan for the Colts.  They were still at odds about the direction, but Coach Riner finally said that they would follow his idea.  Coach Glean wasn't happy about it.
            "Thank you, Coach Glean." Coach Glean simply nodded. "As you know the state reworked the district and we have a new team this year, the Colts.  I've been watch film of them for a while and talking to some of their opponents from last year.  They like to air it out.  They average over almost 300 yards a game.  They spend most of their time in shotgun.  I swear in one game they ran the ball twice."
            The players were murmuring, shaking their heads in amazement.
            "They are a different type of team then what we normally face. And I think we have to do something different if we are going to defeat them.  Over the weekend Coach Glean and I decided on a game plan..." Coach Riner was about to tell the team that Coach Glean didn't agree with him.  Coach Riner, at times, felt like rookie. Especially with against Coach Glean's knowledge of defense.  Sunday night Coach Riner almost just gave in to Coach Glean's insistence that their base 4 - 4 defense could stop them.  But Coach Riner finally said no, they were going to go with his idea.  At the end of the day he was the head coach and would take the blame.  He asked Coach Glean to come up with a few unique blitzes, but they were going to run a 3 -4 -4.
            Coach Riner looked over at Coach Glean and continued, "that is a little different.  I will cover the basics and Coach Glean has some new blitzes we will need to learn.  I'm going to trust that we know our offense and devote more time to defense."
            Coach Riner turned to the white board and drew up Xs and Os. Setting up the defense in a 3 - 4- 4 look.  As he stepped away, the boys straightened up.  Jason raised his hand.
            "How is this going to work coach?"
            "Let me show you." Coach arranged the Os into the Colt's favorite formation, a spread one back shotgun. "They are stubborn in their approach.  I understand why, the quarterback, number 1, has a great arm.  Number 17, is fast, Jason Wright.  He won the state 100 last year." 
            "That guy was fast." Teon said.  Teon was at the state track meet for high jump.
            "But number 87, Garrett Wesson is their best receiver. He never drops a ball, " Coach Riner continued.  "But they don't run.  Even in the semi-finals last year, they continued to try to pass the ball in the rainstorm.  Their best rushing game was 104 yards last year, with 86 of those yards from number 1.  This approach," Coach Riner slapped his hand on the board, "is a risk, yes. But we will do our best to take make them run."  Coach Riner turned his attention toward Coach Glean. "You have to trust me."

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Game Three Snippet for NaNoWriMo


            "Coach?" asked the student manager.
            "What, Sam?" Coach Riner asked back.
            "We forgot the kicking tees."  Sam was a senior.  He had been the student manger since sixth grade.  He enjoyed the small aspects of the job, setting up the athletic tapes in small pyramids in the training room, watching film with coach and marking down the notes as Coach Riner asked.  He took pride in the things that made the football team run smooth behind the scene.  The last two years had been the best so far.  Coach Riner appreciated the small things.  He would bring Sam a Code Red Mountain Dew for film sessions.  Coach Riner always told him thank you.  Sam felt horrible, then felt even worse as Coach's right hand started to rub and pinch the top bridge of his nose.  That meant he was trying to control his frustration.  "What should I do?"
            Coach Riner couldn't even think.  The bus was late because of a mix up.  They had a horrible week of practice after the debacle at Andrew High to go to 0 and 2.  And to top it off the Patriots had ended their season last year. 
            "I'll get it solved." Coach Riner said.
            Sam was discouraged.  He left to get the water bottles ready.
            Coach Riner walked across the field.  The teams were running through their position drills. "Kevin, catch and secure."  Coach demonstrated with his hands. Hands out to catch an imaginary ball, then moved his right hand to his chest to secure the imaginary ball. Kevin nodded his head and secured the ball high and tight as he ran back to the receiver line.  Coach Riner continued across the field to find Coach Johnson.
            They shake hands and make small talk. The Patriots were 1-1.  Coach Johnson had been at the school for eight years.  The team had been to the play-offs off and on four times.  Last year both teams ended their season 4-5, but the Patriots end the season with a win and the Tigers a lost.  The Patriots reflected the same attitude of their coach, a mix of simple respect with condescending edge.  Coach Johnson smiled in such a way when Coach Riner asked if they had an extra 3-point tee they could use during the game.
            Coach Riner thanked him and returned to the Tigers sideline.  He handed the tee, with one of the ends secured by athletic tape, to Sam. "Please, return this to them when the game is over."
            "OK, sorry coach."
            "Don't let it happen again." Coach Riner said as he patted Sam on the head.
            "I won't." am returned to setting up the equipment on the bench.  Sam had a system, one bench for injuries.  This bench had all the med kits, with a few things out and ready, like tape and tape scissors. One bench for "meetings," single player or team.  Clipboards and markers and the small water bottle container.  The third bench was his "game" bench.  This bench had the coolers, a box with snack bags filled with dried fruit and granola, a bag with mints for Coach Glean, and Sam's bottle of Code Red.  It also held the ball bag, tees, and the equipment box to handle those small moments, like a busted chinstrap. Sam was working on the first bench.
            Coach Riner rubbed the bridge of his nose, and moved to rubbing his forehead right above his brow.  He thought to himself, we have to win this game; we have to win this game.  Four minutes to kick-off.
           

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Start of National Novel Writing Month

Good morning.  Today is the first day of National Novel Writing Month.  This is my fourth year attempting to complete a novel in a month.  Like many aspects of change, I start out strong then fade.  But I have a new game plan this year.  First, I am going to write out the scenes I have in my head.  I'll worry about putting it together later.  Second, I am going to share my progress through Twitter and this blog by sharing snippets of my writing.  Now, I know this game plan will make it hard on the reader, but to complete the novel is the main goal.  So I apologize early for the disconnected snippets of the novel for the upcoming month.  Here is the first snippet:


The rain was a now a curtain.  Coach Riner couldn’t see the visitor’s sideline.  The refs said they would call the game if there was lighting, but we would play through the rain.  Coach Riner's play sheet was in pieces on the ground, it had disintegrated from the rain.
            "Time Out!" Coach Riner signaled and approached the side judge. "Time Out!"  The whistle blew. 
            The Tigers were down by four with three minutes left in the third quarter.  It was hard to run the ball.  It was impossible to throw. The middle of the field was mud.  The team huddled in close to Coach Riner.
            "We need to get out of the middle of field.  Indy Left, Zip, 28 Swing." 
            "Coach, can we do this out of shotgun? I can't get my feet going in the mud." Darren said.
            "Kyle? Can you get it back to him?" Coach Riner asked his center.
            "Yes, coach." Kyle never said more than what was needed.
            Coach Riner patted him on the top of his helmet. "I thought so.  OK, Huston Left, Zip, 28 swing."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Falling Star



Where would I be if I hadn’t
         wished upon a Falling star?
Would I be chained to this dream,
         forever chasing a possibility
         that never reaches the horizon

It was a spur-of-the-moment wish
Made in the innocence of youth
I was sitting on my front step
Enamored by the endless night
         For a moment I understood eternity
                  and my place in it
                  sitting there on my front step

A knee-jerk reaction as a star fell.
A wish,
A hope,
A dream made at such a young age.

I was not mature enough to know that falling stars do not land.

So here I am
         face peppered with stardust
         as I run across eternity.
My legs and heart growing tired with age

Wondering where I would be
if I hadn’t wished upon a Falling star.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Just a Cup...


They say life is stranger than fiction.  I believe them.  I sat there drinking my favorite cappuccino, double shot with Cafe Mocha Trio, looking in to the eyes of my first love.  I told my self "Peter, don't mess this up."  But I wasn't sure if I meant my marriage or the chance to tell Rose I loved her.

   Amie and I had a fight over the scrambled eggs.  We were down to 100 dollars in the checking account and still had two weeks to go before we were paid.  Our savings were basically depleted, a dollar thirty-six had sat there for two months now.
   "We have to pay the car loan," I said.
   "How?  How can we pay a 236 dollar car payment with only a 100 dollars?"  Her fork ringing the side of the plate for emphases.
   "Can't you ask your parents for some help this month?"
   "No, they lent us the money for the down payment.  You got to stop your stupid spending habits."
   "I have cut back," I couldn't believe she had brought this up again.  "I haven't gotten a coffee or CD or, or anything like that in a month."
   "Really?  What was the package in the mail yesterday?”  I knew I was in for a long morning, she was looking at me from the top of her eyelids, her arms had crossed, and her mouth was now slightly opened with the corners dragging downward.
   I knew she was right.  I had never had this much money in my life.  We both had good jobs.  Not much debt.  I was enjoying life, at least the material aspect.  After 10 months of marriage, I was wondering if I truly loved this woman.  "The new Stephen King book," I answered deflated.
  Amie stood up from the table, unable to speak.  She stared at me as she took her plate into the kitchen.  "I've got to go get ready for work," she said.

  I had met Amie during our senior year at college.  She was sitting alone one day at the student union.  Studying some computer language.  For that moment, she was beautiful, hair in a slight mess, eyes intense, and small feet dangling just above her sandals.
  I walked over to her and said "Hi, I'm Peter."
  "Ok, I'm busy Peter, but thank you for introducing yourself."
  I just stood there.  I usually had no trouble with women.  I was the President of the academic Fraternity, played all the intramural sports, and was a social person.  I just stood there.
   "Peter, if you wish to get to know me, I suggest having a Latte' in your hand.”  She smiled as she pointed out the coffee shop with her head.
   "I'll be back...”  I paused waiting for her to reveal her name.
   "Latte' first, I have to know how serious you are."
   With a smile I said, "I'll be right back."

   Now about two years later Amie is still direct, only with her anger instead of her love.

  I didn't have work, so I headed to the local Starbucks.  I needed some time to think and a good cup of coffee.  I was standing in line, lost in thought.  Knowing that I did need to harness in my spending, but I wasn't sure how.  I had worked hard to put myself through school.  My parents were a waste of space, even in the beat-up Lazy-boy recliners they spent their life in.  The adult world was filled with everyday issues that were wearing on my spirit.  Bills, house repairs, lawn issues, and even the daily habits of just being a husband.
   "Peter?"
   "Hu," I replied to my name.  Turning around to see the deep green eyes of Rose.

   Rose was my first love in high school.  I was a junior.  She was a freshman.  We met at the Winter Formal in February.  We were inseparable for a year and a half.  I knew I loved her, but I never told her.  I was scared of love.  My parents' waste of life made me weary of what love could do to you.  Rose though, she had loved me with all her heart.  Notes in my locker, flowers before big games. 
   Then college came.  I suspect it is the same old story.  Promises to stay in touch, to call every night, to keep each other in the heart.  Instead studying becomes before the phone call.  The heart grows restless.  And life happens.  We had never officially broke up; we just stopped living the same life.

  "Rose?  Rose?  What are you... Man, you look good."  All those high school feelings came rushing over me.  Making out under the stars after winning homecoming.  Dancing close at prom.  Six shoeboxes filled with notes.
  "I have an internship with Davis and Jones law office.  You look good."  She looked down at my hand.  "I see you’re married," a small drop in hope from her voice.
  "Yes, I am."  I didn't know what to say.  I wanted to tell her it was rough.  I wanted to tell her I missed her.  I wanted her to stay.
  "Well, I have a few minutes... do you want to sit, talk?"
  "Yes, I would.  Yes, I would."

  I knew in my heart that this was a moment.  I sipped the hot cappuccino.  The milk foam tickling my lip.  Amie and I had so much fun, until we got married.  I knew part of the issue was me, I was still afraid of the silent two-chair existence.  I was spending too much.  Our marriage was far from over.  I felt that all we needed was to change a few things; ok I needed to change a number of things.
  But there sat Rose, ocean green eyes and the laugh that swept the world away.  I thought to myself "don't mess this up."  I sipped my drink.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fire Fighter


A spark can start anywhere
   the kitchen
      or bathroom
         or on the patio steps

A simple spark
   ignited by whim
     choice
       or simply tired eyes

The spark
quickly engulfs the walls
wrangles on the carpet
I hear the crinkling of flames
echo in the vents

I breathe in

Knowing I will burn my hands
  but must find a way
    to extinguish the fire
       before it blackens the woodwork
       before we cannot scrub
the smoke stains from our fingernails

My hands become hot
holding this spark
  this fire
the heat runs deeper than my skin

The smoke calls forth tears
but then
     the oxygen is pulled from the room
     from the spark in my hand

and little arms wrap around my neck
a little head snuggles into my shoulder
we walk out of the house
Fire fighter and daughter

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dancing Flowers


It is a late summer Sunday morning
   cool breeze
   warm sun

My youngest daughters
Play on the back patio
    in their PJs
    pink and green flash across the patio door

I join them
   sitting on the steps with a cup of coffee

“Look at this, Daddy”
    a rock
    a blade of grass
    in their hands

“Watch this, Daddy”
    as they run
    as they jump
    in the grass

They begin to dance
The sun shines into my eyes
I have to squint to see them
   but I swear
   if flowers could move
      they would dance like my daughters

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Walk


There is a sidewalk in front of our house.
My two boys use it to ride a tricycle and
      a big, colorful plastic car.
On Wednesday mornings, 
      I set my garbage on it.
Some weeds try to grow throughout the summer.
       Ants,
            there always seems to be ants on it.
But that's it.

The nightly walkers use the street, 
with the cars,
and others on bikes.
Maybe it's the way the mailboxes are set in the sidewalks.
     Walking side by side, 
      one has to turn their shoulders, 
      or even stop,
                   to get by.
My youngest will holler,
"Mailbox, watch out!”
          when we walk around the block. (on the sidewalk)

I notice we always get stared at.

Is it because we are on the sidewalk,
 crossing their yard?
Have we become so disconnected,
that it is an invasion of privacy to walk on the sidewalk?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Disappear


    I wrote this three years ago. During a DL (distance learning) class one of the away schools had a fire drill.  Their classroom looked like they had disappeared.  School supplies were everywhere, and it was deadly silent.  A student commented how eerie it was and that sparked this story.

        His eyelids were heavy.  He blinked fast seven times, but the warmth of lunch combined with another PowerPoint over the checks and balances of our government made his eyes heavy.  It was not as if he hated the class, in fact in most cases it was interesting to learn about America’s government and how power was displayed, bartered, and abused.  However, it followed lunch.  Today was BBQ sandwiches, and Justin had consumed five of them.  Three minutes until the bell.  He could make it because his next class was “on-line” today.
            Sixth period was an early entry college class, American Literature that was broadcasted over the Internet and displayed on a flat screen TV.  He went to class with four other schools. St.Paul a town 20 minutes away.  Loup County which was an hour south and Pleasanton High School which was 40 minutes to the west.  The home site, where the class was broadcasted from, was at University of Nebraska, Kearney. 
            They were “on-line” three days a week, like a real college class.  Justin was excited to see Rose Tatemen from Loup County.  They had started to talk on Facebook after they had to debate what Robert Frost meant in his poem “The Road not Taken.”  There were actually five students, one from each site, but the debate had progressed to Rose and Justin debating the meaning of the last paragraph.  Rose standing firm on the idea of Frost saying that taking the path was a statement of individuality. Justin countering that she had been brainwashed by Hallmark and that Frost was saying you can never know what a choice will do for you in life, hence the line, “I will be saying this with a sigh.”
            Justin was struck by her independence, and her slight lean to the left with her right eyebrow up when she thought she had made a great point.  That night he connected with her on Facebook and their friendship was progressing the last couple of weeks.  He was walking quickly to be there before the tardy bell.  The first five minutes of class were always hectic as the schools came on line.  Dr. Graf was always logged on at 1:00; St. Paul was usually on too.  Then Justin’s class, followed by Loup County, then Pleasanton which didn’t have sixth period until 1:07.
            “Hello Justin, early again.”  Dr. Graf commented from the TV.  There was just a slight delay between his lips and the words, as if you had blinked at the beginning of the conversation and your mind was trying to make the audio match the visual input.
            “Good afternoon, I was trying to walk off the great lunch I had.”
            “Hummm, I see.  Maybe the day will be even better with a debate today over money’s power on people.”  Dr. Graf said with that sly smile of his that meant there was more to the statement.
            “Depends on who I get to debate with,” Justin replied with a smile.
            “Well, let’s get the other class on-line…” they both smiled.
            Justin hoped that college would be this interesting.  He could not wait to be done with high school.  He was ready to be done with what seemed like consistent drama.  Everyone around him seemed to be stuck in junior high.  Other students were entering the room, Justin sat in his normal place, far left middle row of tables.  Just at the edge of the camera’s vision. The seat was next to the only window in the room, and even if it seemed he was not listening, he was as he stared out at the window.
            The TV was in motion; Dr. Graf ‘s window was to the right and large.  To the left the windows were getting smaller as the column filled with video of the four high schools.  Pleasanton flashed on last, and the speakers shared the mix of students laughing, setting books down, and the constant rumblings of teenage life issues.
            Justin looked at Loup County’s window for Rose.  There she was, third desk middle row, pencil tapping her tempo.  Justin raised his pen, tapping his right tempo.  It was their hello.  They both smiled.  They had started the ritual last week.
            “OK, class let’s get caught up on due dates for the next week…” Dr. Graf’s voice continued while Justin watched the sunlight highlight the edge of his table as his mind checked off the assignments in his head.
           
            The clock read 1:13

            “St. Paul?”  Dr. Gaf’s voice inflected with annoyance.  “Hello.  St. Paul…  Are you there?”  The screen revealed tables with books, computers open, and a few water bottles but no students.  The class was involved in group work.  Each site had three groups with their own set of questions covering the book, The Natural.  They would then share and discuss answers toward the end of class.
            “Did anyone hear anything, like a bell or fire alarm?”  Dr. Gaf asked, as most of the students’ attention moved to the TV in their rooms.  It was always a fun moment when one of the high schools would run a practice fire alarm.
            A series of no’s ran through the system.  Making the audio do a slight feedback that made Dr. Graf winch in his comical way.
            “Hummm, continue to work.  I’m going to try to contact Mr. Jackson at St. Paul.”  Dr. Graf turned to his computer, then proceeded to pick up a phone that was just out of sight of the camera.  The students returned to work, but kept an eye on the screen.  Dr. Graf didn’t seem to be able to get anyone on the phone.

            The clock read 1:16

            Shelly saw it first, from Loup County.  Dr. Graf was busy at his computer, it seemed he was typing something, probably an email.
            “Dr. Graf,” a slight hesitation from Shelly.
            “Yes.”  He didn’t look up from his computer, but you could sense he was listening from the slight shift of his head to the right.
            “Pleasanton is gone…” the statement hung in the air.  Every student turned to see two windows that revealed the same picture.  The basic student life laid out on tables, but no students.
            Dr. Graf stood still.  The remaining students held their breath, not sure what to do.  Then a smile broke the tension.  “Nice practical joke, guys,” Dr. Graf said.  His shoulders relaxing.  “I appreciate the work you put into this, but let’s get back to work.  Come back St. Paul and Pleasanton.”  He spoke directly into the microphone and turned to the TV on his left.  For a moment, it seemed as if the students would return, loud and with smiles.  But nothing.
            “OK, I get the joke.  Let’s get back to work.”
            Justin spoke, “I don’t think it is a joke, Dr. Graf.”  He had not been informed of any practical joke.  From the looks of his fellow classmates, they hadn’t either.
            Rose looked at him, the TV broadcasting her and every other students’ panic.  Justin looked into the camera, trying to let Rose know he saw her by his will alone.
            “Hold on, guys.”  Dr. Graf grabbed the phone.
            The clock read 1:19.
            Justin didn’t think he blinked.  But it felt like the world did.  Dr. Graf was gone.  He could have left to speak to someone.  “Hello, Kearney?  Anyone there?” Justin moved to the teacher station in the room.
            No response.  The students at Kearney were never on camera.  The room only had one camera and it was directed at the teacher station.
            “Kearney.  Anyone?  Hello.”  Justin tried to keep the panic from filtering into his speech.
            “What’s going on?”  Katie spoke with a whisper.  A rush of noise came from Loup County.  Mrs. Heinen had burst into the room.  “We can’t contact St. Paul.  Mr. Badura advises us to stay here until further notice.”
            “Justin, what do we do?”  Adam was standing next to him.
            “I don’t know…  Run to the office and see if they know anything.”  Adam was off before he finished his statement.  Justin glanced at the clock, 1:21.  An alarm went off in his mind. He tried to get a clear thought pattern going, but the absurdity of the situation broke every thought apart.
            “Justin.”  A voice.  He looked around but his classmates were all busy in their groups.  He could see the uncertainty in their actions, grabbing a book bag and putting it back down.  Travis literally eating his pen top.
            “Justin.”  It was Rose.  She was peering through the camera, eyes holding back tears.  Justin moved toward the TV to see her.  His mind cleared.  Even at this moment, she was beautiful.  A crazy urge to just hold her overwhelmed him.
            “Yes, Rose.  I’m here…”
            She smiled and started to tap her pen… the clock’s hand moved to 1:22.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I Wish


I wish every child would be woken up
 By a loving parent saying “Good morning, sunshine!”

I wish every child would have an option for breakfast
 A seat open on the bus
 And a smile from a friend when they walk through the school door

I wish bad wasn’t cool
  That we didn’t spend time defining ourselves with
  Clothes
  Music
  Hair color
  Or how much of a jerk we can be

I wish the bell wouldn’t ring every 50 minutes
  Signaling it is time to get up
   Then to sit down

I wish we understood that
  Sticks and stones break bones
  But words crush our souls

I wish every child carried a book
  With a beat-up book mark
   That had their dreams written in ink on the back

I wish the test were written by elementary students
  Because you know
  Recess would be the first question

I wish the diploma
  Meant you have become the person you wanted to be
  That the three Rs included
 Reaching for your dreams

I wish every child would go home mentally tired
  Ready to spend time with family and friends
  And when it was time for bed
  The day would end with a story and a kiss

I wish I could do more then just wish…

 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Online Writing Workshop Poem

During the summer I participated in an online writing workshop designed by Kate Messner.  One activity was to write a poem based on a character.  Here is that poem.


To Steven (From Life)
Sometimes the lowest point
is only a plateau till you fall again
I wish I could tell you why
or to set your watch for when
But for now you will only see
not only the darkness of night
But the corners of the human heart
that will only cause you fright
Because when you have lost it all
there is more I can take from you
So take this moment to relax and watch the stars
feel free, feel hungry, for I will be there soon
To take you on the road of redemption
there is a price to pay though
It takes a broken heart to be able to fix one
for your life is not lived alone

Friday, August 17, 2012

I Wish to Stand


I wish to stand,
 Not in a woods with two paths
 Not on the on-ramp of a busy highway
   Nor on the edge of the sea

I wish to stand on the horizon

The vast line of everywhere
Both sky and land
  Meeting forever

The colors mix so well there
  Blues to purple to blood red orange
  White to grey to fields of gold
 
The horizon has no time
 No shape
 No boundary to escape
    it flows with the cornfield
    breaks with the glacier
 Outlines a city and mountain alike

I wish to stand on the horizon

I wish to stand on the edge of everything

To be everywhere
   Every second
   As I stand


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Welcome

Hello,

I am not a gifted writer or poet, but I love to write.  All through school my notebooks were filled with doodles, poetry, and random ideas.  At this moment I am working on my first novel, and with the options technology brings I am planning on self publishing that novel when I am done.  I will use this space to share some of that writing, and also, to share my other creative writing.  Because writers want, no... need readers.

So, with that introduction, welcome.  I hope something I share with you makes you think, or feel, or just ponder this life.  Thanks for reading.