To Arthur Dent

Dear Arthur,

You may be surprised to read this – as you are pretty much the last of the human race. Don’t be too surprised however – stranger things than this have happened – there are many more improbable things that have happened to you than receiving a letter from the dead people of the planet you escaped before its demise.

No worries, Arthur. We’re not holding any grudges or anything. The thing is, we’ve all come to an agreement about something (wow, right?) that concerns you and we had to get the message to you somehow, so here you go. A few things we as the deceased people of the Earth would like to stress the importance of.

See, you’re our last representative in the universe. Pretty much the way anyone judges you is going to reflect on us. And we would  appreciate it if you tried very hard to make us look better than we really were. Try to keep the nasty bits about the wars and genocides and pollution, etcetera, to yourself alright? No need to air out our dirty laundry for others to see.

We understand the delicacies and difficulties this request might present, but if it’s possible we’d also like for you to work on propagating the species with that Trillian woman. Yeah, yeah, we know, but the least you could do is try, mate.

Also, the blokes who demolished your house would like to offer their apologies even though that’s sort of moot now. But they’ve insisted and kept on about how it’s the principle of the thing.

Last, if you ever find those dolphins you give them a solid piece of your mind. Honestly, if they’re so smart they should have known we didn’t understand one blasted thing they were trying to tell us. You let them know that once we find a way to become corporeal again we’re going to have it out with them.

Okay, I think that’s about it. Oh yeah, work on staying alive for as long as you can. Don’t panic. Always bring your towel. All things you know already but we’re just saying, a little reminder never hurts.

-Best Wishes, The People of the demolished Earth

PS: You can stop whinging about tea, we’ve stuffed this envelope as full of tea sachets as the post will allow. Don’t bother trying to reason out how.

Just seven words.

Khalil Gibran once said that people will never understand one another unless language is reduced to seven words. What would your seven words be?

  1. Hello
  2. Help/Danger
  3. Believe
  4. Peace
  5. Friend
  6. Forgive
  7. Always

I think that the most basic of words — yes, no, love, etcetera, can be conveyed without actual words. So when I chose these seven words, I was trying to think of words that need more than expressions to describe them.  The word love is meaningless without the feeling behind it. If you love someone you shouldn’t have to tell them — they will know by your actions and by your devotion the depth of your feelings. The phrase “I love you” is almost a call-and-response phrase — you expect the other person to respond in kind. I tell my boyfriend that I love him all the time, and he tells me the same, but I really know that he loves me by the way he treats me, the way he touches me, and the way he looks at me. None of those actions need words.

Another word that I pondered putting on the list — but decided to exclude — is the word “goodbye”. It’s such a sad word, and I can’t think of a single person that loves to say goodbye.

Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.

So let me explain why I chose the words I did:

The first, Hello, seems to also be one of those words that can be conveyed by body language. However if you delve deeper the word is more than a greeting — it’s an invitation. It’s a call-and-response as well, but with a stranger. By saying hello, you are extending a welcome that they can respond to in kind.

The second, Help/Danger is self explanatory. If you need help, or need to warn someone of pending danger, it’s much easier to have a word for this than using body language to explain the situation. The word is a call to action.

Believe could also be Trust. This is a word that cannot be conveyed by body language. Sometimes life requires you to take a leap of faith.

Peace. The opposite of a call to action, this word can serve to diffuse situations. It can also be used to intone that you mean no harm, or as a plea to dissuade hostility.

Friend is a word used to describe a relationship outside of sexual or family relations. A definition of bonded companions, confidantes, or play-fellows. Friendships are a basis for small communities as well. Humans are social animals, and need those relationships to thrive. Having a word for such a thing is important, because there is a difference between someone you are acquainted with, and someone who is a friend. It’s important to be able to define that difference.

Forgive, because sometimes forgiveness is required, whether you are asking for it or giving it. I thought about including a word for sorry or remorse, but some languages do not even have the word sorry, because one should never have to apologize. You can show remorse with your actions and beg forgiveness from someone you’ve wronged. Whether or not you apologize is irrelevant, because as they say: “Actions speak louder than words.”

And finally, Always. In my personal opinion, always is one of the most powerful words in any language. Always transcends all times and all barriers, on all occasions, come what mayAlways is a promise, a measurement, a consistency, an infallibility, without exception. You can always be a friend, always believe, always forgive. Beautiful in its simplicity and complexity and scope, always is my favorite word on this list.

More Time

Daily Prompt: Childlike

momastery.com

You know, one day you’re going to be as old as you wish you were right now. And it’s not going to seem nearly as cool as it seems to you at this moment.

In that moment, when you’re that age, the thoughts going through your head aren’t going to be “Finally, I’m a grown up” or “Now I can do anything I want to”. Do you know what they’re going to be?

“What happened to summers?”

“How did I get here?”

“Where did the time go?”

And I know you’re not going to believe me, but “I wish I could be a kid again”.

When you get older, you’ll regret not savoring the time you had.

Instead you wished it all away, you willed the years to pass, and before you even knew it, your wish came true.

And then you’ll be wishing you had more hours in the day, days in the week, weeks in the year.

Time is something that can be passed, wasted, borrowed, lost, found, scheduled, counted, given, and stolen. But whatever you do with it, you’ll only ever have a certain amount. Time is not something that can be bought or traded. You will never have more time than you do right now.

You’ll wish you had a lot of things – more money, more friends, more toys. But one day, little one, you’ll wish you had more time.

It is strange that the years teach us patience; that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting.

Back to basics

Unplugged.

Such an innocuous term. I think that a lot of people believe they can unplug themselves any time they want to. It’s a lovely thought, to turn off ones phone for the day and go “off the radar”. I do think that it’s something everyone should do, from time-to-time.

I actually recently read an article about a CEO deciding to work off an uninhabited island for 40 days or something. The thing about that is, even though the thought is appealing – Robinson Crusoe your way through a scorpion and snake inhabited wilderness and rough it – even he isn’t really unplugging. His intention is to telecommute while he’s on the island. In my mind, that sort of destroys the whole intention.

A few weeks ago the boyfriend and I decided to go to a place in WI called Baxter’s Hollow, which is the Nature Conservancy’s largest preserve in Wisconsin. We were going to take a hike and he was going to shoot for some pictures of the little creek that runs through the preserve.

Here’s the thing about trekking through a place like that – no reception. We were hardly surprised though, and ended up being glad of the walkies, handheld GPS, and hydrapak we brought with us.

First we decided to leave the phones in the truck – no use dragging them around with us, because inside the preserve they were literally no more useful than a snazzy-looking game-boy. After a quick lunch (Pb&J’s, chips, and soda), we threw on our packs and hit the woods. At first, the boyfriend wasn’t having much luck with pictures. We saw some songbirds, but they were flitting around too fast. So were all the honeybees in the meadow, and even a giant green caterpillar slowly crawling across the quartzite trails wasn’t feeling very photogenic. We wandered around a bit more, I became annoyed at myself for not moving efishly-quietly through the woods. (When I’m walking through nature I like to pretend I’m an elf. Don’t judge.)  I kept stepping on sticks and I was trying super hard not to scare off any wildlife, so I decided I needed a walking stick (because in my head this would help me be quiet for some reason). We even found some apple trees, where I picked an apple and tried to get Boyfriend to take the first test-bite, but he wouldn’t, so I did and it was actually pretty good. Take that, sense of adventure.

Then, Boyfriend found a nifty spot at the wood-edge to get a good view of the meadow, and started setting up the tripod to get some shots. I went back into the woods to find a suitable walking stick, and maybe a spot to sit so I could do some reading. I didn’t find a good sitting spot, but I found a walking stick and even remembered to turn on my walkie in case I wandered too far away from him and got lost.

Eventually he got his shots, so we wandered back to the truck to make our way to the creek – which was to be the cherry on our trip.

The first part of the creek was neat, but I broke my walking stick and there were no good shots for the boyfriend, so we headed to another part of the creek. I did see some fish though, and got to prance around on the pebble-banks of the creek and pretend to be a fairy or an elf or something, I don’t know. Boyfriend found me another walking stick. It wasn’t as ideally shaped as the first had been, but it would have to do. It needed work, so I set to surreptitiously shaping it as we walked.

The second part of the creek was much better. No pebble-banks there, just big ol’ quartzite boulders and neat little waterfalls that Boyfriend was really excited about. His excitement turned pretty quickly to disappointment when he realized that the tripod connector thing (let’s get technical with our equipment terminology here) had apparently fallen off his camera somewhere along the walk,  and he had no way to stabilize his camera to get the long-exposure shots he wanted of the little waterfalls. HUGE bummer. I did my duty as supportive girlfriend and tried to find good perches for him to set his camera on instead, and came up with a bunch of bupkis. He did end up being able to set up on his backpack and get a few shots, but not at the angle I think he wanted, although the shots turned out pretty well, so I’ll chalk it up as a “did what we could with what we had” win. After that though, he sort of lost his interest in taking more shots, and we kept going down the creek to see if there was anything interesting further down.

I pranced around some more, and fell on my butt in the creek, which was really funny even though I soaked my jeans and I’m pretty sure it looked like I peed myself (boyfriend said it didn’t look much like I peed myself, which I suspect is nice for “it certainly does, sweetie, but I’m not going to laugh at you about it”).  On the plus side, my fall didn’t destroy any of our equipment, so I didn’t have to beat myself up about that sort of thing on the 2-hour long drive home.

Anyway, after my fall we decided that it was time to skee-daddle and get some dinner (luckily by the time we found a restaurant my pants were mostly dry, except for my socks/shoes/bottom of my jeans area) at a little family restaurant we found on the way home. It was decent, and much appreciated after a day of roughing it, but nothing to write home about.

So we spent the day unplugged, and it was a pretty amazing day, pitfalls included. It was pretty refreshing to be connected in a very human way with no phones. It’s something I would like to do way more often that I currently do.

Maybe this weekend could be time for another adventure!

A love affair I have every Autumn.

It might seem strange that I voluntarily live in frigid Wisconsin and hate the cold. I mean, honestly, if it came down to it, I could move. I could go literally anywhere I wanted to live.

Yeah, I’d miss my family, blah blah, but I’d definitely get over it as I’m sipping shirley temples on the beach while they call and whine about the snow, is all I’m saying.

That said, there is one hugely redeeming savior of this time of year. It’s something that I look forward to the second I have to start wearing sweaters, and something I mourn the minute I realize its time has passed for the year.

You’ve probably guess it already, but if you haven’t, I’ll give you a big orange hint:

Oh my. Pumpkins.

I love pumpkins. Jack-O-Lanterns, Real pumpkin pie, Pumpkin bars, Pumpkin bread, Pumpkin Seeds….the list just goes on and on and on.

It’s around this time of year that pumpkins and one of my other favorite things come together and make something sweet, something beautiful, something that just sings of perfection. I’m talking, of course, of Pumpkin Spice Coffee drinks.

Oh mama. That looks heavenly.

Now, you might be asking – but Libris, you can move to a warmer place and still have your pumpkin spice coffee, can’t you?

And the answer would be of course, yes I could. But I think half the reason I love them so much is actually because the weather is so darn miserable. The warm coffee, the spices, the smooth pumpkin flavor almost wouldn’t be the same if I wasn’t bundled up while watching the snow/rain/hail/blizzard through my window, with a really big book in my lap.

Oh, and the other good thing about the weather cooling down? No more road construction. My gosh, I’ve been getting so bloody sick of traffic barrels. Would you believe it? – He tried to hit me with a forklift!  My tolerance for that sort of thing is way down nowadays.

Fall means I get to replace this orange:

With this orange:

©iStockphoto.com/Donald Gruener

And I’m ok with that.

 

Make Coffee, Work In My Pajamas

Another Daily Prompt, to get me writing. Here is what I see in my future (a hopeful prediction):

You wake up slowly as the sun shines through the bedroom curtains, gently warming your face. You stretch in stages, methodically and deliberately, waking each muscle in turn.

You look at him, slumbering deeply next to you and smile. You always wake up before he does. His late-night terrible movie addiction keeps him up most of the night. You’ve tried to stay awake with him, but you always fall asleep on his chest, lulled by his heartbeat and steady breathing.

Pulling on a set of pajamas, you tiptoe out of the bedroom and gently close the door behind you. The stairs are maneuvered carefully, as you’ve slipped onto your rear one too many times to be caught off-guard again.

Once you’ve safely reached the first floor, you move almost instinctively, switching on the coffee machine and grabbing your tablet on your way to the porch, where you enjoy the cool and quiet morning air with a cigarette while doing some light reading. It looks to be a beautiful day.

Back inside, you make your coffee and settle into the couch with your laptop, starting the workday. You love being able to work from home. You love your job. You love going to work in your pajamas.

You check the latest reviews from the movie you’ve written, which has just been made into a big-budget blockbuster film. They are glowing, praising reviews. You smile again.

A passing thought strikes you; you can’t remember the last time you actually frowned. You try to frown, just for posterity. It feels wrong, and you’re not quite sure that you’ve succeeded. The thought makes you smile again.

You check your emails, check your blog, your social media. You putter about a little. You jot down notes and ideas. You do some reading, some editing, some story-arc building. You write a few more pages in your novel, which is coming along nicely, by the way.

You attempt to take a sip of your coffee, and discover that the cup is already empty. Ah, that’s what a frown feels like. Ok, make more coffee.

With that done, you decide to go sit on the porch again. That morning air is just wonderful. The sun hovers, still relatively low in the sky, bathing you in orange and pink light.

He joins you on the porch after he wakes, greeting you by brushing his lips against your lips, your cheek, your jaw line, and telling you good morning beautiful. You roll your eyes at the compliment, but inside you’re beaming. You lean into him and breathe him in.

When the two of you go in, you make him a cup of coffee while he fetches his laptop from his office.

Both of you sit on the couch, and continue co-writing your next masterpiece.

Before the day is out you’ve cranked out some wonderful material together, taken an invigorating bike ride, showered, and spent some “quality time” that’s probably best left unwritten here.

You finish the day by falling asleep with your head nestled on his chest while he watches a terrible movie, and you try to stay awake with him, but you both know you’ll be asleep in five minutes, tops.

Everyday is like this, except the ones that aren’t. You love what you do, you make a living off of it, you spend every day in slow-paced bliss with a partner who adores you. Not every day is as perfect as this one, and sometimes you spend nearly the whole day frowning. But not often.

Most days are like this one, and you smile all the time, and you have someone to share your wonderful life with, and most days, the only time you frown is when you run out of coffee.

A Noir/Horror Short Story in screenplay form.

This story is in response to the Daily Prompt today. Let me preface this by saying that I’ve always secretly wanted to write a Noir/Horror style story, because it sounds fun. To add to that fun, since I’ve been writing mostly screenplay stuff for the past year-ish, I’m going to put it in screenplay form. Here goes nothin, boys and girls:

EXT. STREET CORNER – NIGHT

A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN and a SHARPLY-DRESSED MAN stand close together under a street lamp, huddled together in quiet conversation.

BEAUTIFUL WOMAN

I feel like we’re being watched. Are you sure you weren’t followed?

SHARPLY-DRESSED MAN

I’ve been at this game a long time, darlin. There’s no way I could have been followed without my knowin’ it.

The woman looks around slowly, pulling her fur coat close.

BEAUTIFUL WOMAN

Well, do you have it? I don’t want to stand out here all night anyhow, even if you’re right.

SHARPLY-DRESSED MAN

Here it is.

The man hands an ENVELOPE to the woman. She begins to peek inside, but is stopped by the man.

SHARPLY-DRESSED MAN (CONT’D)

Not here! Jeezus. You’ll get us both killed.

Leaving hurriedly, the man pulls the collar of his duster high to shield his face as he walks away.

Taking one last look around herself, the woman tucks the envelope into her coat and starts off in the opposite direction. Her silhouette fades into the darkness.

Underneath the street drainage grate near where they were standing, a pair of bloodshot eyes blinks and disappears.

INT. NEWSPAPER OFFICE – DAY

The beautiful woman is poring over the contents of the envelope. She has several papers scattered across her desk, along with some odd trinkets: an OLD KEY, PHOTOGRAPHS of what appears to be a scientific laboratory, and a MINI CASSETTE TAPE – the kind used by small voice recorders. She is so engrossed in her work that she does not hear SAM, a nerdy reporter, come up behind her.

SAM

Hey Lydia, are you going to avoid me all day, or are you going to tell me why you stood me up last…

Sam spies the stuff on her desk.

SAM (CONT’D)

What is all this?

Lydia turns to look at him, leaning to the side in an obvious attempt to block his view.

LYDIA

Sam, I am so sorry. I got a call from a source for this story, and I had to take it. I can’t tell you anything about it right now though. I don’t have all the facts, and this is something big. Like career-making big.

Sam cranes his neck to see the files. He frowns.

SAM

That looks like information about the murders. Lydia, shouldn’t you bring that stuff to the police?

LYDIA

My source tried to, and they laughed him off. I’m inclined to take him seriously though.

She gives Sam a measuring look.

LYDIA (CONT’D)

Ok, I’ll tell you what I know, but not here. Maybe you can help me decipher some of this stuff. Maybe we could reschedule that date I missed and get together tonight. Your place, 6 o’clock?

SAM (Beaming)

Sure thing, doll. See you then!

Sam leaves with a big smile, and Lydia stuffs the files and trinkets back into the envelope.

EXT. CITY STREET – DAY

Lydia walks along the sidewalk distractedly. She continually looks around suspiciously, exuding an air of intense nervousness. Suddenly, an arm reached out from a shadowed alleyway and pulls her into the darkness. She does not even have time to scream before disappearing off the street.

INT SAM’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

Sitting on his couch, Sam waits for Lydia to arrive. He checks the clock and frowns.

SAM

Stood me up again, it seems.

INT. NEWSPAPER OFFICE – DAY

Lydia is not at her desk. Sam walks past, frowning.

MONTAGE – LYDIA IS MISSING

A) NEWSPAPER OFFICE – Sam walks around the office, asking people if they know where Lydia is. Everyone shakes their heads or shrugs.

B) INSERT NEWSPAPER HEADLINE – “Reporter goes missing!”

C) INSERT NEWSPAPER HEADLINE – “Rash of murders leaves public uneasy”

D) INSERT NEWSPAPER HEADLINE – “Murder spree has police eyeing DR. FREAKISH’S laboratory”

E) INSERT NEWSPAPER HEADLINE – “Reporter still missing, sources say she was investigating recent murders”

F) NEWSPAPER OFFICE – Sam sits at his desk, head in hands, several papers related to the murders scattered across the desk. He looks defeated.

END OF MONTAGE

INT. DARK ROOM

Lydia is sitting at a small table with a HOODED FIGURE who has a rasping voice. She appears tired, but otherwise unhurt.

LYDIA

Can you tell me what you plan to do now?

HOODED FIGURE

Well, like I said, after I saw myself in the mirror, and all those mangled bodies, I guessed what had happened. He put a very smart brain in me, I suspect so that my intelligence would match his. WHo wants a dull companion? But even knowing what I am, I couldn’t abide what I’d seen. It was just monstrous, what he’d done to all those people.

The hooded figure pauses for breath, opening up his hands in supplication.

HOODED FIGURE (CONT’D)

No one will never accept me. I’m a creature born of murder and malice, I’m a science experiment. I guess I don’t really have a plan. I just wanted to tell my story to someone. I know I sort of forced you into this, but thank you for listening.

Lydia looks at the figure with pity.

LYDIA

I’m not sure society will ever accept you, but you must help bring Freakish to justice. You’re the only one who knows the whole story. I’ll help you, please let me help you. There may even be a way for you to lead a semi-normal life after this. Please.

Lydia pauses for a moment. Then, gently –

LYDIA (CONT’D)

May I see your face, sir? I know it’s impolite of me to ask, but..

She trails off, unsure. The hooded figure is silent while Lydia begins to fidget uncomfortably.

HOODED FIGURE

Very well. I will help you. It’s the very least I can do for all those poor people.

There is a pregnant pause while the hooded figure considers Lydia’s other question. Finally, the figure reaches up revealing a bone-white, surprisingly delicate hand. The hood is pulled down, revealing the stitched-together face not of a man, but a woman.

FADE TO BLACK