Monthly Archives: December 2015

Prologue: The Prophesied Birth

As Christmas approaches, we begin to post our Christmas-y stories. This is the beginning of a novel I want to complete, a re-write of the story of Christ. Beginning now, through next year, I’ll post a chapter every so often from the novel as it comes along. Hopefully, I’ll end it around Easter 2017. Enjoy!

 

My friend and companion Verris,

As you know, I have recently come into contact with one of the greatest men of our time. But many of the reports have been confused, and with this letter, I hope to bring forth plainly what the man called Yesu did and taught.
But first, a history lesson. As you are not Beacon, I highly doubt you know where we come from. Many centuries ago, there lived a man named Horis. He was a man of faith, who trusted completely in Ayos. (As you know, Ayos is Beacon for your word God)
Horis, whose name meant ‘doused fire’, grew so close to Ayos that his name was changed, and he became Beacon, the one who shone brightly. Beacon’s descendants were not as close to Ayos as he was, and as punishment, Ayos sent them into slavery into Thrig. There in Thrig, in their darkest hour, Ayos sent a savior, a man by the name of Moken, who led the people out of slavery and to Beacon, as they had begun to call the promised land.
The generations went by, Ayos giving something special to Beacon: Fireswords, which, like their name, were sword that flared with a holy fire. Not much to say after that. However, they would only work if the country still followed Ayos. (Hold on, Verris. I’m going to put a lot of names out there. It might be confusing, but you’ll get it.)
Kings rose up, names that even an Outlander, as some would call you, would know: Orrid, who killed the giant, Calthous, the wisest man alive, and Berrin, the child king. During King Hed (a descendant of Orrid by many generations)’s reign, the country of Beacon was overrun, taken by the Nerrets. We later returned to our own land, but only after much hardship did we become our own country once again. And then the next threat came, the Reargens coming through and putting us under their power. Their leader, Coasir Agarst, made a man, evil to the extreme, ruler over a small area of the country, in which our story takes place. This man’s name was Harog. Now, you probably know this, but I’ll go over it once again. Coasir is the title of Agarst, like you or I would say ‘King’ or ‘Lord’.
In this small, fiercely ruled state of Galilede, there are three points of interest: The first, the former capital city of Beacon, Jarloth, the next, a day’s journey away from Jarloth, a small town that King Orrid was born in, Compolth. The place our story begins, however, is much farther away, to the north, a town called Carrell.
Now, you must understand, Carrell has a bad history. Most people coming from there either tried to start revolutions, or ended up making life worse for everyone in Beacon. That’s the reason for the saying, “As bad as Carrell!”
These two people you are about to meet, however, do not live up to the horrid reputation. The first, Josen, was a direct descendant of King Orrid himself, although he didn’t often make that fact publicly known. The second, his fiancee, was Mara, who, just before their wedding, was found to be pregnant.
(Note: I only have the bare facts of this story, I have scraped together what I believe was to be said. However, do not use the words coming out of their mouths as set in stone, as I’m not sure.)
When Josen heard, he rushed over to Mara’s house, tears streaming down his face. “Please tell me that it’s not true,” he said, his voice shaking as he spoke. His love for Mara overwhelmed his anger at her betrayal, and the strange mixture came out as pure sorrow.
“Josen, it’s not what it looks like,” Mara said. They were alone, Mara’s parents respectfully leaving the house to talk in the courtyard.
“It looks like you found another man, Mara. Like you betrayed me.”
“It was Ayos, Josen. He sent me one of his messengers. I can hardly believe it myself, but it’s true. I’m carrying the savior of the world. I swear to you, I didn’t commit adultery. I don’t even know how it happened, I just found myself pregnant one day.”
Josen scoffed outwardly, but inwardly, his mind churned. He believed in Ayos, and his faith was more like Beacon’s than King Hed’s. But still, a messenger coming to his future wife? Not exactly something that could be proven.
“Mara,” he said finally, shaking his head. “You know the law. I’m going to have to divorce you. But for your sake, I’ll do it quietly. I’m not going to make a spectacle out of you.”
“Josen,” Mara said, but he had already turned and left, his heart feeling heavier than it should have.
You need to understand, Verris, that Mara was telling the truth. She was, in fact, pregnant with who the messenger claimed to be the savior of the world. Josen, however, didn’t know that she was speaking truth. And he had to follow the law.
That night, as he lay in bed, thinking about how much he didn’t want to divorce the love of his life, but how he needed to, he found himself having a vision.
He was walking down a road, and at the end of the road, a man stood, robed in white. “Josen, descendant of Orrid,” the man said, and Josen grew confused. How did this man know his name, and that he was progeny of Orrid. “Do not be afraid to take Mara home as your wife, for what is in her is not of man, but of Ayos. Go, and when her son is born, give him the name Yesu, for he will save the people from their sins.”
Then the man vanished, and Josen was left alone on the street. Apparently, he saw things after that, but no one has ever told me what.
The next day, Josen went and told Mara what he had seen, and the two were wed. It would have been the end of the story, if not for Coasir Vellos. He ordered that a census be taken, which makes sense, as he had just conquered the country and needed to know how many slaves he had retrieved. So Josen and Mara set off for Compolth, from which Josen came.
Like I mentioned earlier, Carrell is much farther away from Jarloth than Compolth, about a week’s journey. But with the people coming to and from the different cities, the going was much slower than usual.
Finally, they arrived, but because of how slow the going was, they found all the inns full, and the ones that weren’t were being used as census centers. Finally, one innkeeper took comfort on Josen and Mara, who was now obviously pregnant. “It’s not much,” he said, leading them behind the inn proper and to a shack that barely allowed Josen to stand upright. “Usually, I have carts and such in here, but one of my friends is using it right now.”
“Thank you for your kindness,” Josen said, shaking the man’s hand. He pulled the door open, letting Mara walk in before him. As he lit a lantern, he studied their temporary home. It was low, but long, with junk thrown together at one end. “Here, let me make you a bed,” he said, helping Mara sit, then leaving and finding some old hay. He clumped it together in corner, then spread his cloak across it, moving Mara so she could lay down.
“Thank you,” she whispered, closing her eyes. Then they shot open once again. “Josen, I think he’s coming,” she said, and Josen flipped out.
“Right, you’re giving birth. Okay, your mother wrote list on what to do. Where’d I put that?” Josen scrambled around, searching his bags, finally pulling out a disintegrating piece of paper. He recalled how, several days earlier, while crossing a stream, he had dropped it. Now Josen was desperate. He ran a hand through his hair, muttering to himself. “Arg, I’m a woodsman, not a farmer. I don’t know anything about birth.” He rushed out of the shack, then stuck his head back in. “I’ll find help. Just keep breathing, okay? I think that helps.”
Mara smiled, thinking about all her mother had told her. She was calm, for now. But the contractions were just starting, she knew. And they were sure to get worse.
Inside the inn, Josen was rushing around, asking for help. Except that because he was a man, he didn’t actually ask any women. “Sir, do you know anything about helping someone give birth? Please, my wife-”
The one sided conversations continued for several minutes until a woman approached him. “You said your wife is giving birth?” Josen nodded, and she shook her head. “Men. Don’t know a thing, do they? Nana, fetch the midwife. Ladies, please come help me.” The woman turned back to Josen. “Where is she?”
“In the shack behind the inn,”Josen told her, and she hurried away with a retinue of women following. Josen sunk to the floor, suddenly overcome. ‘My wife’s going to give birth,’ he thought, feeling as if he was once again having a vision.
My tale now turns to another occurrence, out in the fields near Compolth. As Mara continued in her labor pains, several farm hands were bedding down for the night. Abnock, the oldest, was watching the setting sun, his face screwed in a picture of intense concentration. “Red sky, come on. I don’t want to be taking these animals back tomorrow. Come on, come on, red sky.”
“Your caterwauling ain’t gonna bring good weather, Abnock,” his brother, Bellock, laughed. He ruffled his nephew’s hair. “Ain’t that right, Zeck? Your ole’ man’s gone batty, finally.”
Carrock, the third brother, released a sharp bark of amusement. “That happened a long time ago, Bellock. Remember, Abnock fell out of the tree when he was ten.”
“Oh, yeah, I kinda remember that,” Bellock replied, rolling out his blanket and sitting on it. “Now, Zeck, get a fire going willya?”
“Uncle, you can make fire so much better than me,” Zeck said, twisting uncomfortably.
“Do what he says, Zeck,” his father rebuked him sharply.
As Zeck did what he was told, hurrying to make a fire, the three brothers got comfortable around the place he knelt over the kindling. “I’ll tell you,” Carrock said, shaking his head, “those blasted Reargen’s taking this blasted census. It’s horrible. There’s hardly enough room on the inns as it is, but now? Pff. There’s nothing.”
“I feel sorry for anyone trying to get a room tonight,” Abnock agreed. They sat in silence, until a spurt of orange flame elicited an excited squeal from Zeck.
“Finally,” Bellock said, filling a pot with water and beginning to warm it up. He grinned at his nephew. “I told ya. Ya can do it even better than your ole’ man.”
“That’s not saying that much,” Carrock said, punching his brother good naturedly the shoulder.
Abnock, the object of their jokes, shook his head resignedly. “Should’ve never taught you how to tease people, Carrock.”
The teasing continued for several minutes, until Carrock noticed Zeck watching something in the distance. “What is it?” he asked, scrambling over to where the boy stood watching.
“There’s a man coming towards us,” Zeck replied, pointing.
Carrock grimaced. “Not a good thing, let me tell you. Get the goads, Zeck. And make sure everyone’s wearing their knives.”
The goads, long, hard pieces of wood, pointed at one end, were used to urge livestock along. One of our favorite stories to tell is of one of Ayos’ judges for Beacon, who used an ox goad to kill hundreds of the invaders. But that’s another story.
The man drew closer, the small band of farm hands huddling together in preparation. The strange thing was that his man didn’t walk in a beam of light, for the sun had long since set, and no stars lit the sky. The moon was only just beginning to peak above the horizon, and cast hardly any light at all. Instead, this man was his own light, putting forth a radiance that hurt to look at.
“Stop there,” Abnock said, holding his goad threateningly.
“Do not be afraid,” the man said, his deep voice echoing in the empty field. Instantly, the farmhands felt their terror die down, Carrock even putting his goad point first in the ground. “I bring you news,” the man continued, “news of great joy, that will be for everyone. The Savior – the promised Mejin – has been born tonight in Compolth, the city of Orrid. And this is how you’ll know him. He will be wrapped in a sheet and laying in pig trough.”
Suddenly, the entire sky erupted with light, as if the stars had sneaked close to Beacon, then spun, shining their light on this one little field. An entire army of Ayos’ messenger stood there, voices rising in song. “Glory to Ayos in heaven, and on Terran, peace to those who He favors.”
They sang for several minutes, chanting the same thing over and over. Then they were gone, returning to the presence of the one who they praised.
“Well, what are waiting for?” Bellock asked, rising from his knees. Like the rest, he had fallen in awe, not of the angels, but of Ayos, who all creatures should worship.
“Nothing,” Carrock said, rising as well and running towards Compolth, about a mile away. “I’m going to see the King!”
Zeck shot off after him, shouting as well. “The Mejin! He’s arrived!”
No one, not even the tired travelers, could sleep as seven (the original four had picked up three more) excited farmhands burst in Compolth, shouting out that the Mejin had been born. But being awake didn’t mean they listened, and many just rolled over in bed, complaining about parties. But a few listened and heard, coming into the street with the farmhands, shouting as well.
They found the family just as the messenger had described, laying in an empty pig trough the couple had found in the junk in the back of the shack. The four farmhands explained what they had seen, the big, rough men cradling the tiny baby in their callused hands.
All who stood there were amazed, their mouths open, but no words coming forth. Instead, the youngest farmhand, Zeck, began to sing, a song that all knew, one that their mothers had sung to them when they were children. “Come down to us, blessed one, come down to us, Ayos’ son. Break us free from these chains, bring about a change, we are ready to see the sun.” Then, in a whisper, he added, “The night is over because of you, beautiful child.”
He handed the baby back, then turned away. “I don’t know about you, but I’ve got to tell someone,” he said, the other farmhands grinning in reply.
“What else can we do?” Carrock asked. “It is our duty to spread the word.”
And so they left, singing the song in four part disharmony and telling everyone that the Mejin, the Savior, was born.
The story should have ended there, with the Mejin coming to the world. But it doesn’t.
Only a year later, visitors from the East came, bringing gives of fragrant spices, and gold. They told of how they had traveled to find the one who was born King of Beacon. They had stopped in Jarloth, hoping to find him there, but had only discovered that the Mejin was prophesied to be born in Compolth, the City of Orrid.
That night, a messenger appeared to them, warning them not to return to Lord Harog, who was planning to kill the child. The same night, Josen was warned in a dream to leave Compolth, to move to Thrig, in order to keep his wife’s son safe.
Soon after they left, Harog unleashed his fury, sending soldiers into Compolth and killing all the male children under two years old. The Mejin had come, but already had brought a knife to those who he was sent to save.

Want more? Find it here: https://gloriousmesssite.wordpress.com/2016/06/05/chapter-one-travelling-companions/

Midnight Mystery

It was midnight, and I didn’t know what to expect.

Since when have the stories been true? Ghosts, werewolves, the greek myths. We all know these are false. Bigfoot, Champ, none of these are true. And yet… Well, I should probably start with the beginning. It was one of those camping trips, the kind where you suddenly decide to just go for it, you know? And we just went for it. After a nice long hike up the mountain, we set up camp near Norman Rock, the main sight we had set out to see. It was dark, save the fire, but we were not tired. My friends, Daniel, Matthew, and Elijah, were gathered around the fire, chatting away. Conversation died down like the fire, dwindling into coals. Being a funny type, I tried to stir the embers with a joke. “So, anyone know any good ghost stories?” Not like anyone actually, like, knew any good ones, right? Well, that’s where it got interesting.

Daniel spoke up, hesitantly. “So… you guys, I’ve always had a theory.” A chill ran down my spine. We were staring at him now, urging him onward. “Well, it began with my brother David, he was climbing up this mountain, when it got a little dark. He had brought a flashlight, of course, but he says it didn’t work, it was broken. He tried to fix it for a while and was so like, engaged in his work, he didn’t notice the time passing by. But when he looked up from his work, it was dark. Really dark. And… Well, nevermind.” We waited.

“Oh, seriously? What happened, you can’t stop there!” Matthew said.

“Yeah, it can’t be that scary! I wanna hear!” Elijah spoke up.

Daniel sighed. “Okay guys, don’t say I didn’t warn you. I will try and get by this as quickly as possible. His flashlight died down, and he so he turned back. It got darker and darker, and as he went down the hill he kept hearing noises, cracking, crunching. He was 18 years old, but he was getting scared. He heard one crack that sounded like a whisper. He tried to calm his fears, and he knew it wasn’t true, so he forced himself to convince himself by like… going there and seeing what it was. He turned and walked towards the noise, knowing it wasn’t true.”

I leaned over to Matthew and spoke under my breath, joking – but only half joking. “Maybe I didn’t want to hear this, Beastly.”

He turned to me and whispered, “This is a good story, it sounds credible.” I turned away and continued listening. Another whisper came to me, “You should be scared.” I turned to him with a puzzled look on my face. His voice sounded different. But he wasn’t leaning over at me, he was staring with a terrified look at something beyond the fire. I looked, and I couldn’t believe it.

“Guys. Over there.” I spoke, hardly audibly. Elijah turned. Daniel was the only one left,  he was facing me. We all stared behind him, in absolute terror. Daniel didn’t turn. All he said was. “It’s true. The stories are true.”

 

Note from the Author: This story was written in a writing group, with a 10 minute timer and a few prompts to choose from. It’s one of my favorite works.

David’s Challenge: A Giant of a Tale

David Bar-Jesse sat by his sheep, plucking at his harp. He didn’t play any set song, just let his fingers and mind wander. A lamb crying out brought him back to reality.

His hands immediately went to his pouch and pulled out his sling. Then he saw the cause of the cry. It was just Bartholomew, his father’s hired hand. “Hail!” he called, and Bartholomew returned the greeting.

“Your father wishes to speak to you,” the hand said, taking the staff from where it lay the grass. He laughed. “You know, if you learned how to use this, you wouldn’t need to use that sling of yours!”

David grinned back, then put a stone into the pocket of the sling. He started whipping it around his head. It became a blur to the sight and David let it fly. The stone whistled above the flock, embedding itself in a tree. David allowed himself a smirk in Bartholomew’s direction, then headed up towards the house.

His father met him as he neared the house. “Son,” he started, but David finished for him.

“You need me to take some letters and home-baked food for my brothers, I know.” David grinned halfheartedly. “I’ll get my horse.” He walked off towards the stable.

“Thank you, my son,” Jesse called after him. David turned and bowed slightly in reply.

He found his horse, and an extra donkey, loaded with food. David mounted Gideon, and rode out of the stable, the donkey following. He paused just outside to be kissed farewell by his mother, then rode onward.

David rode several days. The battlefront wasn’t anywhere near his home, for which he was extremely glad. When he finally neared the camp, it was unmistakable. He could see the tents the entire day before he actually arrived.

He rode into camp, and was surprised to find it void of activity. A soldier darted from one tent to another. David dismounted and followed him inside. He didn’t recognize any of the soldiers, but asked them about his brothers anyway.

“Abinadab Bar-Jesse?” one soldier asked. “Yes, I recognize that name. He is a regular at the gambling pit.” The other soldiers laughed. David shook his head in frustration.

“Where is King Saul?” he asked and the others hooted in laughter.

“King Saul? His tent, of course,” the same soldier said. “But he’ll be hiding just like the rest of us.”

“Hiding?” David wondered.

“Yes, hiding. We’re not facing that giant again.”

“Giant?”

“Yes, giant. No one’s coming close to him. And for good reason. He’s even taller that King Saul himself!”

A roar from outside made everyone jump. “Get to your feet, lazy layabouts!” a man roared, stepping into the tent.

“Eliab!” David exclaimed, stepping forward.

“Stand down, David,” Eliab snarled. “I’m here for the so-called soldiers.” He grabbed a man and pushed him out of the tent. The others trooped out after him.

David followed them, all the way to the front lines. The men stood in formation, some shaking. David saw Abinadab and Shammah, and ran to them, shouting greetings.

“Hello, my brother,” Abinadab said, rather cheerfully. “How are you?”

“I am extremely well. I brought some food from home.” David was about to continue, when a roar shook the earth.

“Why do you come out and line up for battle?” Goliath bellowed. “Am I not a Philistine,and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose someone to face me. If he’s able to kill me, we will be your servants. If I am able to kill him, you become ours!” Goliath looked to the sky. “This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other!”

David was so surprised by the words, he didn’t notice when everyone else disappeared. Goliath looked up, his face fierce, and laughed. “Once again, they run. Like rabbits, they never show their faces. And neither does their God!” He turned and lumbered back to the other camp.

“Why doesn’t someone do something about this?” David exclaimed, meeting his brothers. “He just insulted both Israel and God!”

Eliab grabbed both his shoulders. “David, what are you doing here?”

“I brought some food-” David was cut off as Eliab shook him.

“You brought food. Cute. Why did you leave your sheep, David? That’s all you’re good for, watching the sheep. But let me guess, you got bored. You decided you wanted to watch the battle. That’s what you’re here for, isn’t it? You just wanted some excitement.”

David felt two emotions: shame and rage. The words of his grandfather, Obed Bar-Boaz, came back to him. “When you feel angry, use that anger for something constructive. It is not wrong to be angry, but do not sin in your anger. When you are angry, do not backtalk to someone in authority.”

So David did not. Instead, he just whispered, “What have I done wrong? Can’t I just state my opinion?” Then he turned to another soldier, and asked him the same question.

“Go back home, little shepherd boy,” he replied, then turned away.

David looked at the ground, and started walking towards Gideon. A hand on his shoulder stopped him. He turned, and saw a boy about his age. “What you said,” the boy asked, “Did you mean it?”

“Yes,” David replied.

“You’re David, right? You played for my father, King Saul.”

Instantly, David dropped to one knee. “My prince,” he said, head bowed.

“Don’t bow to me, David,” Jonathan said, pulling him up. “We’re still friends, aren’t we? Now come, we have to go see my father.”

“You want to do this, David?” King Saul asked.

“Yes, my lord,” David replied.

“In that case, we must get you suited for battle!” With that, King Saul went over to the rack that held his armor. He pulled off a helmet, and stuck it over David’s head, then helped him with the breastplate. David took the sword and attached it himself.

He waddled around, nearly tipping over, then shook his head. “There’s not a chance I’ll survive if I wear these. I’ll tip over and be squashed before I even get a chance to pull out the sword. Let me fight my own way.”

“Your own way?” King Saul asked suspiciously.

“With your majesty’s permission, I’ll show you.” David took off the heavy armor, then pulled out his sling. Around and around it spun, then he let it fly. It buzzed off, smashing into the rack of armor.

“Then go, and be killed if you want!” King Saul said, dismissing David. “But let it be on your own head.”

“Thank you my king,” David said. He left the tent and walked to a little stream by the camp. Dipping his hand in the cool water, he pulled out a stone. He fingered the smooth surface, then put it into his bag. Four times more he dipped into the stream, each time taking another stone. Then he stood and walked back to the camp.

That night, he bunked with his horse and donkey, as they were the only ones who held no criticism of him. He slept well, considering he was about to face a giant who everyone else was terrified of. He awoke at dawn, joining the soldiers at their cook fire. All of them turned away when he approached.

“Are you still here?” Eliab asked, rising from his place and pushing his fist into David. “I’m not taking bad news back to Father,” Eliab said, pushing his brother into the ground and stalking off.

The rest of the day followed the same pattern. The soldiers all shunned David, pushing him into tents when the passed, or tripping him up. David suffered through it without a word. Finally, the time came when the giant would call forth the army.

As Goliath shouted his challenge once more, David remembered why he was so angry. As the blasphemy poured forth, David’s hands started shaking. Finally, he pushed his way through the soldiers.

“Silence!” he yelled, and the giant was so startled, he actually quieted. Then he started laughing. David’s anger grew. But once again, the voice of Grandfather Obed rang through his ears: “Use your anger for something constructive.”

“What am I, a dog?” Goliath chuckled. “You come at me with sticks?” Once again he laughed, but David’s voice cut through it.

“You come against me with a sword, a spear and a javelin. I come in the name of the LORD. You blasphemed both him and his people. I’m going to kill you, and leave your carcass for the birds of the air.”

Goliath let loose a string of curses so obscene that David’s anger doubled, then tripled. As he cursed the boy and the army he stood in front of, the giant pulled out his sword and started moving towards David.

“God is going to use me, just like he used Gideon, to prove that it is Him who wins the battles, not mere men!” With that, David started swinging his sling, running forward to meet the huge man.

As before, it became a blur, and as the army of Saul watched, the little shepherd boy let the stone fly. It soared directly into Goliath’s forehead, and the force of it snapped his head back. It wasn’t strong enough, however, to stop the giant from falling forward. Down the Philistine hero fell, right in front of David.

David let the sling wrap around his hand, running to the giant’s side. Quickly, he pulled out Goliath’s sword, then, with one smooth motion, chopped off the giant’s head. He lifted it up above his head, and the Philistines stared in horror as they realized that Goliath was dead. Their horror was so great that they turned and ran off.

“For the Lord!” A soldier shouted, pulling out his sword and running after them. Soon, a tide of  soldiers poured forth from the camp, chasing the Philistines down. Within a few hours, everything was over. They had chased the Philistines as far as Gath, then returned and plundered the camp.

David was sitting by himself, the giant’s head and weapons beside him, night approaching. Jonathan, the king’s son, came and sat down beside him. “That was crazy,” Jonathan said.

“You’re telling me?” David asked, turning to look at him.

“Yes. My armor bearer and me killed twenty Philistines by ourselves, remember.”

David laughed softly. “Yes, I remember. Everyone in Israel heard about that.” Jonathan laughed at the memory. Then he stood.

“David, stand, will you?” David did so, and Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing. “David, what you did out there was stupidly brave. Only a few people would do that. I’m not one of them. I would be honored if you would take this robe as a sign of my eternal friendship.” David took the robe with eyes shining, then looked back. Jonathan was holding out his tunic, sword, bow and his belt.

“I can’t take all of this,” David said, pushing it back.

“You can, and you will. All I want in return is your friendship.”

David laughed, accepting the gifts. “You can’t buy friendship, you know.”

“Yes,” Jonathan said, “I know.” Then he put an arm around David. “But I’m hoping you’ll be my friend anyway.” With that, he let the arm drop and walked off towards his father’s tent. Just before he disappeared into the tent, he turned back. “You’re going to be one of the greatest men in the world, David. And I can’t wait to see what the LORD does with you next.” Then he was gone, David once again left alone with his thoughts.

The Beginning

Note from the Author: This was produced when my book club asked for a short story from each of the participants. It has become one of my favorite works, and I hope you enjoyed reading it.