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.

Advertisements

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 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

Sneaky? (The Room of Requirement)

So the Daily Prompt today says this:

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 9.27.26 AM

My answer, which I had to think about for a while, because I was slightly confused by the stipulation that it had to be sneaky, is (sneakily)Yes, and (mysteriously) Yes.

So I’m going to take this prompt to mean I should tell a story which involves being sneaky.

A while back one of my friends rented an apartment, the kind that sits directly on top of a business, in one of those extremely aged downtown buildings.

look-through-1425253-m

Haha, not that old, silly. Besides, that place probably has lots of spiders. Ugh, spiders….

More like this:

Old downtown building

Yeah, it had the huge open floor plan and the impossibly high ceilings and the big windows, and the cool, but kind of creepy, shady, barely-held-together metal staircase coming out the backdoor leading to the creepy alleyway in back. I swear, walking (or in my case, crawling carefully) up and down those stairs was like a 10 on the terrifying things to do scale. Right up there with bungee jumping and skydiving, neither of which have I ever done, but believe me, I know those stairs were comparable.

It was an awesome place. And I haven’t even gotten to the most awesome part. The mystery door:

closed-doors-1400451-m

Doesn’t a door like that just make you need to see what’s behind it? The possibilities are endless. It could be the lair of an eccentric inventor, or the door to Narnia, or a Saw style room (Yikes), or the home of the Fraggles. Who knows?

So, naturally, after much debate, and my friend saying that the landlord doesn’t want us in there because it’s dangerous (which is only going to make me want to go in there more, duh), we decided to go in, albeit sneakily.

And to our intense (quietly exclaimed) delight, we had just walked into a real-life freaking Room of Requirement.

Yeah, like that, except without the magical fire.

There was a little bit of everything in there. Random books, paintings, furniture, tools, you name it, this room probably had it. It was hard to contain my joy. I began (as quietly and sneaky as I could) to sift through the incredible contents of the room. It looked like a room where someone just kept storing random things so they would be out of the way, but what magnificent things! There was an encyclopedia of types of birds, and some truly awful acrylic/canvas paintings. There was an old desk, a box of yellowed postcards, random nails laying everywhere (It truly wasn’t safe to walk around in), unidentifiable broken things, and more.

I felt like Indiana Jones, poring through ancient artifacts. I was in heaven. My friend scolded me for turning on the lights, saying that someone would know were in there. I turned off the lights, not because she told me to, but because I didn’t want to have to use my suddenly acquired Indie skills (including the bullwhip, which was undoubtedly around somewhere) to lay out anyone who might try to stop me. I’m above that sort of thing.

I explored until getting to the red zone of irritating my friend. We went back to her apartment, talked about that room, HP, and a lot of other things that I’m sure got more deep and insightful as time went on, and then I went home.

But I never forgot my adventure that night, the night I stepped into the real-life Room of Requirement.