BEYOND THE EDGE

“How far are we from the edge?” she asked me.

“What edge?” I said.

“The edge of the earth.”

“There isn’t an edge, it just goes on and on and around and around forever,” I replied.

She paused and thought for a while. I could tell she was thinking because her forehead was wrinkled and her head was tilted to the left and her eyes were studying the clouds above us. Finally she said, “well I wish there was an edge, cause I would jump off it.”

I thought this was a wonderful thing to say. I imagined a cliff that leads to nowhere, just down into nothingness, and I wondered if I would jump. Then I remembered that scene in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, where Reepicheep, that small but noble mouse, sailed to the edge of the sea just to see where it led. This is the very essence of adventure, I think. It all starts with an idea that defies logic, that goes against science or math, that insults the enlightened man, but that captures the mind in a way that no concept or number could, and it sparks the most incredible adventure. And what is life without adventure? 

I think following God is an adventure. Maybe that’s my favorite part of being a Christian, is that sense that I’ll never have it all figured out, that I’ll always be left with questions. For some people that might be frustrating, and it is for me too sometimes, but then I think about the edge of the world, and maybe God is beyond that cliff. Maybe that’s what heaven is, the place beyond the edge, and my whole life is leading up to that moment of death, when I finally make the leap.

young love is cute but also kinda sad cause you know they won’t end up together

“Boys don’t cry,” Sam  was saying as he walked his latest crush, Roxie Richards, home from school. Sam was a bit of a playa, even in the fifth grade, and his friends teased him endlessly for ditching them to pamper a cute girl. But Sam didn’t care. He was born for love, and some day his friends would understand.

“You never cry?” Roxie asked, eyes the size of the moon.

Sam shook his head defiantly. “Never.”

“Have you ever cried?”

“I used to when I was younger, but I’m a grown-up now, and you never see grown-ups crying, do you?”

“You’re not a grown up! You’re only ten!”

“My grandpa says I’m mature for my age,” Sam said, holding his head high.

Roxie crossed her arms and frowned. “I don’t believe you!”

“Just ask your dad. Boys don’t cry.”

Roxie didn’t answer right away, but grew quiet, almost sullen even. She refused to look at her friend as she said “I don’t have a dad.”

There was a pause as Sam thought about her words. He let out a soft “oh.”

They walked the rest of the way to Roxie’s house in silence, Sam beating himself up for assuming everybody’s family was the same as his. Lesson learned, he thought, as he prepared himself to never see this beautiful girl again. Surprisingly, however, Roxie turned to face Sam as they approached her door, and asked with a smile in her eye, “Will I see you tomorrow?”

Sam stuttered a little trying to get out his next words, “It would be an honor and a privilege to walk you home tomorrow, madam,” and as he said it, he bowed as fancily as he could. This elicited a wide smile from Roxie, which quickly turned into a gleeful giggle, before she hid her embarrassment by turning abruptly and opening her door. And as it closed behind her, Sam heard her yell “mom, I’m home! I made a new friend!”

Mi Amigo Donkey, ep. 3

“Donkey! Guess what! I’m a Christian now!”

Donkey looked up.

“It all started when I asked one of my friends why he was so happy all the time. He explained to me that he wasn’t, but that he had the Holy Spirit that allowed him to experience joy even during hard times. That was a new concept for me, and still something I’m trying to wrap my mind around. But that joy that he was describing was so attractive that I had to figure out where one gets this “Holy Spirit”. So he explained everything to me: how God created us perfect but we screwed it all up and because of our sin we deserve death and hell, but Jesus took on all of our sins in a perfect act of grace when he was crucified on our behalf.

Donkey tilted his head slightly.

“Yes, Donkey, even you are a sinner.”

Donkey grunted.

“But because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we can be reconciled to God again. Don’t you see, amigo? The only way to have a joy that isn’t reliant on current circumstances is to have your hope and faith in something that’s bigger than this world! Anyway, I’m done preaching at you, but I just can’t believe I had missed this for so many years. It feels like my whole life is turned upside-down.”

Donkey smiled.

Mi Amigo Donkey, episode 2

“Well, Donkey, I’ve been going to Church for a while now, and I’ve learned some things. First of all, Christians say they have all the answers to life and stuff like that. They say that Jesus is the only way to heaven, and that if you reject Jesus, then you’ll go to hell. That doesn’t sound very fun. But here’s the thing, what if I don’t believe in heaven or hell? What if things aren’t so black and white? What if there’s a little space between right and wrong called moral ambiguity? What if all religions lead to heaven? What if—“

Donkey lay down.

“Oh, well I’m sorry for boring you! It’s just that there’s so many questions in life that seemingly don’t have answers! How can Christians be so confident all the time?”

Donkey yawned.

“You’re lucky you don’t have to wrestle with morality, life and death, and all that jazz. Humanity is intense. Sometimes I wish I were a dumb donkey.”

Donkey fell asleep.

Mi Amigo Donkey, episode 1

“Here’s the thing Donkey. I’m not happy. I mean, sometimes I’m happy, but it doesn’t really last. I’ll have a fun night with friends, go on a date or two, but the happiness always ends with the night. In the morning, I wake up and do it all over again!”

Donkey blinked.

“Don’t you see the problem, donkey? I’m living for the little moments in life that make me happy. I’m living drink to drink, just waiting for the next high. I’m barely making it through the week so I can make it to the weekend. I have no joy, no lasting satisfaction. This can’t be all there is to life! There’s gotta be more. What am I missing?”

Donkey neighed. Not a horse neigh, but a deeper, more guttural donkey neigh. It’s not my fault you don’t know the difference.

“I don’t know what to do, Donkey. Maybe I should go to church.”

Donkey grinned.

R E S E T

Reset.

The girl was alone. She was sitting in a dark room. She couldn’t see a thing. She knew she was sitting because she felt leather beneath her. She knew nothing else about where she was or who she was. She felt emotion, fear to be precise, and in that first moment when she became aware of her existence, she screamed. It sounded dull, there were no reverberations of her voice. She reasoned that she must be in a small room.

 

“Doc, the subject is making logical conclusions and acting on her assumptions. She is running on more than just instinct.”

 “Good, good. She’s a quick learner.”

 

She moved out of the seat and was grateful to find her feet resting on solid ground. She trusted the ground fully and began to move around, extending her arms in front of her. She came to a wall and followed it to her left. She reached a portion of the wall that felt different. Her fingers felt a slight crack between the two portions of the wall and imagined it was the hinge of a door. She found the doorknob and without hesitation twisted and pulled.

 

“Doc! The subject just left her primary environment! She is entering the external environment now.”

“That’s our quickest time yet! Launch phase two!”

“Yes sir, launching now!”

 

Light.

The girl fell to her knees and waited there for several minutes for her eyes to adjust to the new environment. Slowly, vision came to her. She stood to her feet and looked around. She was in a large field strewn with different landmarks. To her left in the distance was a small concrete building, slightly hidden from view by a grove of small trees. They looked like oak. Straight ahead of her was a concrete path that lead a hundred yards or so and then crossed a small stream via bridge, and then meandered back and forth around groves of grass and big trees and beyond sight. To her right, nothing but grass and a few groves of small trees. She looked behind her as well, expecting to see the building that she just exited. Instead, she was shocked to find nothing but sky, all the way into the distance. She looked down to find that she was standing on the very edge of a steep cliff that shot down into a body of water a hundred feet below.

Her heart rate spiked and she instinctively dove away from the cliff’s edge.

 

“Good news, Doc, she has retained her fight or flight mode.”

 “Excellent. You have the go-ahead for phase three.”

 “Launching phase three now, sir.”

 

The girl lay on the ground for a moment, catching her breath and allowing her heart rate to return to normal.

From her left she heard shouts. Looking up, she saw three large men sprinting toward her, wielding handguns. Fear once again filled her body and compelled her to jump to her feet and run to her right. She was fast, but despite her efforts, the men were gaining on her. She looked around frantically, hoping to find some cover but she found no respite. Suddenly, she stumbled over a root protruding from the ground and fell back down to the earth. She was about to get back up and keep running when she saw something on the ground just beside her. It was a pistol. Without flinching, she grabbed it, turned around to face her assailants and shot each of them in the chest. They fell to the ground with a thud.

 

“Doc, the subject has shot her attackers. It appears she has no compassion; her levels indicate she feels no remorse.”

 “Wonderful.”

 “Should we move forward with phase four, sir?”

“Not yet, let her adapt to her environment.”

“Yes sir!”

 

The girl, relieved from danger, realized she was thirsty. She approached the stream with caution, wondering what danger might be in this new experience. Tentatively she drank the water, and once she had her fill, she submerged her body in the water. It was so refreshing she thought she’d never leave. After a while, however, curiosity got the best of her and she left the comfort of the river and began to roam her environment. She walked in the same direction until she came to a fence, with a sign in front of it that read “DANGER! MINEFIELD AHEAD!”

 

“Sir, she can read.”

 

The girl discovered that she was contained on all sides by the same fence and signs. She dared not hop the fence and risk her life. Instead she walked to the building she saw when she first emerged from the dark room and walked inside. It was a nice respite from the sun’s draining power. Inside the building was a bed, which she promptly used to take a nap.

 

“Doc, the subject is asleep.”

 “Now we move on to phase four.”

 “Yes sir. Launching phase four.”

 

When the girl woke up, there was a boy sitting on the edge of the bed, waiting for her. She jumped out of bed quickly, screaming.

“Hey! Calm down, I won’t hurt you!” the boy said.

“Who are you?” the girl demanded.

“I don’t know, who are you?”

“I don’t know either. I just appeared here in this place.”

“Me too,” said the boy.

“What is this place?” The girl asked.

“I don’t know, I just got here.”

“Did you see the minefield?” she asked.

“No, where’s that?” he responded.

“I’ll take you there. Maybe there’s a way out of this place.”

 

“Sir, subjects 519 and 520 have made first contact and are trying to find a way out of their environment.”

“I hope they succeed.”

 

“You think it’s a bluff?” the boy asked.

“What, the sign?”

“Yeah. You think there are really mines out there?”

“Is it worth it to test?” the girl said.

“I want to find out.”

“I wouldn’t,” the girl responded.

“Good thing you’re not me,” said the boy.

And with that, the boy jumped over the fence, landing on a mine and exploding into a thousand pieces.

Reset.

 

“Doc! Subject 520 has been killed by a mine!”

“Now we see how the girl reacts.”

 

The girl’s breath was stolen from her chest in response to her friend’s death. Was he her friend? If he wasn’t, he was the closest thing to a friend she had ever experienced. And already he was gone. After her breath returned, the crying began. She didn’t know why, but tears streamed down her face and she couldn’t stop them. Once the tears stopped, the depression came. The loneliness set in, the sorrow overwhelmed her, and she lost what little joy she had previously experienced through meeting the boy. She ran to the fence and catapulted over it, landing on a mine and exploding into a thousand pieces.

Reset.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Sad Scene

The room was dark, save a dying candle which was set upon the table beside the bed, where a small body lay. Peace. 

The flickering light played gently on the wall that the bed was nudged up against and if you let your eyes close halfway and allowed a teardrop to blur your vision, the ghostly shapes would become a sailor on a sailboat, waving to his lady who stands on the dock, crying softly, already mourning the distance between them. Sorrow. 

The boy was not the only one in the room; there his mother sat beside his bed, weeping bitterly into her hands, no one there to comfort her, for the boy was gone, a leaf blown away from a tree by the gentle wind. Oh the gentle wind. Loneliness. 

And with a final spark, the candle’s flame went out, leaving the room in blackness, the only sounds that of the mother’s sobs. Spent. 

A Hard Conversation

“Why is it so hard to get that perfect ratio of noodles to sauce?” Darren picked at his bowl of under-sauced spaghetti.

“Darren! I’m trying to have a real conversation with you!”

Kara’s frustration oozed into her words like poison. It got Darren’s attention.

“I don’t feel like talking about it, that’s all!”

“You need to talk about it!” Kara’s concern lined her face and her words alike.

Darren sighed and slumped in his chair at the table, leaving his spaghetti to fend for itself.

An Unexpected Friend

A wave of emotion crashes over me.

I don’t know why.

It’s been a good day.

These feelings are unexpected and frankly, unwelcome. I am in a public place and people are around me; this is no place to break down.

I am holding back tears from betraying my heart, but one persists and breaks through the dyke of my eye. I brush it away angrily and look around to see if anybody has noticed. Nobody has.

What a relief.

“Who cares if you’re seen crying?”

I whip my head around to my right, then to my left. Where did that voice come from? My eyes are wide with surprise.

“Behind you,” the voice says.

I turn to look and sitting directly behind me is a woman. She is smiling sweetly. Immediately I sense something about her. There’s a subtle grace about her, the way she smiles at me, the way her eyes penetrate my heart and mind. She is at peace; content. It is suddenly clear to me that this is a remarkable woman. She is a woman who shares love with everyone she meets.

“Hello.” I don’t know what else to say.

“Hi,” the woman says to me. For a moment we just stare at each other, neither of us feeling the awkwardness of the moment.

“What did you mean by that?” I say finally, looking into her glassy, green eyes. They are alive and vibrant. They are the eyes of an extraordinarily kind woman.

“I meant just what I said. Don’t be ashamed of emotion.”

“Okay, I won’t.”

I say those three words with resolve, confident I’ll keep them at heart. It makes perfect sense, I declare to myself. Emotions are good, we shouldn’t be ashamed of them!

“Thank you,” I say, beaming at the woman. You would think she changed my life with her simple statement, the way I am receiving her words. Maybe she has changed my life. Time will tell.

I turn back around to face the right way in my seat, but a moment later decide to talk to the woman a little bit longer. When I turn back around, however, she is gone. Her chair is vacant. I sincerely hope I see her again someday.

A Melancholy Scene

Jim sat, staring out the window, holding a mug of coffee on the table in front of him. The blue sky was, I am sure, attempting to poke its little nose out in front of the clouds, but at least for now, it was defeated by the drab gray of melancholy. And so it was inside Jim’s heart as well.

Jim’s friend burst through the front door, as he did on so many occasions over the four years they had known each other. Alan was always excited about something or other, and today was no exception.

“Jimmy! Yo Jimmy! Check it out, I got this letter in the mail today and it ––“

Alan stopped when he saw Jim sitting at the table, looking out the window as if somebody had just died. But then again, somebody had just died. Jim’s mom to be exact. Well, it had been a couple months, but I think death has a tendency to slow down time, wouldn’t you agree?

Alan slowly walked over to Jim and as softly as he could, said “thinking about your mom?”

Without missing a beat, Jim returned with four brave words, words spoken with no cracked voice or heavy breathing. “This was mom’s mug.”

He meant to say more, but he reached his word limit for the day and a silver tear rolled down his face. He may have been taught that crying isn’t manly, but the death of a loved one allows for broken rules. And it was a dumb rule anyway, he decided.

Alan pulled up a chair and looked out the window with his friend. His exciting news could wait.

They sat there together for a long time, neither wasting any words. Alan’s presence alone told Jim that he was loved, that he mattered. Alan knew from experience that words often made these kinds of situations worse. He had lost his mother too, when he was just a kid. He remembered the feeling of loneliness because none of his friends understood how to act around somebody who’s mourning. But Alan’s tough experiences had made him a stronger person. He learned never to laugh at another man’s misfortune, always to give people the benefit of the doubt, and most importantly, he learned how to shut up when he needed to.

And so Alan just sat with his best friend, allowing him to feel the pain and work through it.

“She would sit at the table every morning with this mug full of coffee and just look out the window,” Jim began, “sometimes she’d sit there for an hour, just thinking. All of us kids knew not to disturb her when she was there. I guess it was her way of enjoying the peace of the morning. She didn’t get a whole lot of quiet with ten kids running around the house.”

Jim and Alan laughed quietly together.

After another long moment, Jim said “Thanks for being here for me, Al.”

~~~~~

I cut the scene off here because it was just too sweet and too sad to dwell on any longer. Maybe some other important words were exchanged between the two friends that you would’ve liked to read, but sometimes you just have to leave your characters alone to live their own lives.