tales2apoint

…stories and poetry to touch, teach, & turn the heart toward truth.


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Story of Hope, Chapter 6

It was time for the truth.

Oliver could see the deep pain in Monica’s eyes, no matter how hard she tried to hide it. It was the pain of shame and guilt. Monica was hiding something from him that was destroying her.

If he wasn’t certian about this before holding his broken daughter as she cried until her legs were weak, he was without a doubt now. Nina was such a strong child. He kept having to remind himself that she really wasn’t a child anymore, no matter how much she still felt like one in his heart. He didn’t know what Monica had done to her, or why, but he was without doubt that Nina didn’t deserve any of the pain that had been inflicted upon her.

Olly’s heart was breaking, and he didn’t yet even know why. Had he caused all of this? According to Monica he had, but he wasn’t sure he could trust her judgment on anything right now–not with all she was keeping from him. He knew he’d isulated himself from them over the years to keep himself from missing them any more than he already did, but he must have been simultaneously blinding himself to their hurt as well.

Maybe he should have written more. Maybe he should have returned earlier. Maybe he should have shared more with Monica about their financial state. He should have asked more questions. He should have been more sensitive. After spending six years on a ship, his soft side had been more and more concealed beneath the rugged exterior of a master sailor.

He was Olly Swarth, second only to the owner of a fine trading ship, working for a successful merchant company, in the greatest nation in the world! He rarely met a stranger. He cherished his wife and daughter, waiting reverently for any letter he received from home, and always writing back his location, sentiments, and well-being. He never found much to write about from his daily life, knowing it was rather monotonous to most, but he loved his work and the freedom of the ocean swelling beneath his watercraft. Looking back he realized that Monica’s letters had grown fewer and more cold with each year, but at the time, he’d just chosen not to dwell on it with so many other things more immediately at hand.

Perhaps her pain was his fault.

Olly had waited in the sitting parlor for nearly two hours before Monica returned home from wherever she had been. He was shocked how little she had been home in the brief two weeks since he’d returned. It had taken him considerable time to feel out the circumstances of his household enough to decide how to address his impending confrontation with Monica. She had remained quiet and compliant toward him, seemingly out of guilt, but at the same time had managed to come off cold and bitter.

Nina, conversely, had spent as much time around him as possible since his return, and he’d been thankful to see her countenance begin to lift a little each day. Nonetheless, she silently avoided any discussion about her mother, choosing instead to ask him endlessly about his travels and experiences abroad, as dry and uninteresting as they seemed to him. She’d also blushingly confided to his inquisitive chiding that there was a young man at the city market of whom she was rather fond. Though it was shocking to think of his little girl showing affection toward any man but himself, their attraction seemed to be as innocent and appropriate as he could hope for her.

Olly’s thoughts were interrupted by the opening of the front door. It looked like the moment had arrived. He’d sent Nina out for the day to help a friend with a quilting project they’d been planning for months, and doubted that she would have returned already, knowing Nina’s love for needlework. Monica’s footsteps sounded on the wooden floor of the hallway, and moved toward the kitchen. As she passed the entrance to the parlor on her way to the kitchen, their eyes met, and she halted.

“Hi, Monica,” he spoke tenderly.

“Hello,” she replied, averting her gaze.

He asked her where she’d been, and she informed him that she’d been delivering some things to an elderly friend on the other side of town.

“How is Mrs. Townsend doing these days?” he inquired, “I haven’t seen her in years.”

She had been their neighbor many years ago, and had served as a mother figure to Monica when they moved in next door shortly after being married. Olly was the youngest of nine children, and had married in his mid twenties. Both of his parents had passed away by the time he was twenty seven. Monica had been an orphan since she was twelve years old, and was lovingly raised with her two cousins by her aunt and uncle in New York city. She met Olly through a friend and moved away with him when they were married. Monica was only nineteen when she’d become a wife, and the wisdom and affection she’d received at the kindness of dear Mrs. Townsend had been a cherished comfort to her in a time of great uncertainty. In recent years, Monica had been able to return that kindness, as the elderly lady grew more and more in need of assistance.

Monica replied, “She is growing weaker every year, but her heart is still as studded with gold as ever.”

Olly was encouraged to see the slight twinkle in Monica’s eye when she spoke of her dear, old friend. It did little to diminish the reservation she retained toward him, though, and he remembered his reslove to speak with her and face the unspeakeble.

He asked if she would be willing to come and join him in the parlor after she’d settled in a bit, and growing rigid she asked why.

“Monica, I think it’s past time that we talk.”

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Moments of Unparalleled Sequence

life story of a football

I.

Out of experience comes understanding. Out of understanding comes a greater experience.

He wanted to. That was all. He wanted to. Did he need a better reason? He didn’t want a better reason. He didn’t think so. So, he didn’t think…

He didn’t want to. While he longed to know what it was like, he didn’t want to know its consequences. He wanted a simulation—life without consequences, only with experiences.

Experiences without consequences don’t make for experience.

 II.

A dream of ecstasy. He came and went. Then he returned and returned again. Not physically, but mentally he was present. Oh, how he was present! It was a beautiful, fleeting, lust-filled moment. A moment of unparalleled sequence. A moment that could never be repeated. He never wanted to repeat it, but he wanted more of it.

Aln opened his eyes. He didn’t see much, but his eyes were opened. He wanted to see more, but all he saw was the darkness of night. He saw the dim, lava-colored glow of his alarm clock. It was too close to morning.

‘Alarm clocks are stressful.’

 He saw the glow of a street light in glaring stripes through the blinds of his window. Outside, the green of an abandoned soccer field filled his view

‘Soccer…one more part of life I don’t know anything about.’

He heard the start up whirl of a small refrigerator’s generator at the foot of his bunk.  He took in the smell of an apartment frequented by a regular influx of college students. It didn’t smell bad—not yet.  It smelled used.

‘Used isn’t always bad.  It really means that it’s good enough to be around for a little while.  Maybe I’m just saying that so I feel like I have something intelligent to say.  Probably.’

He was having another one of those nights.  Nights were good when they meant relief, sleep.  They were bad when they meant thinking, pondering, facing deep reality.

‘I’m really sick of reality. I hate it.  I hate that I can’t escape it.  Why can’t I just forget reality?’

Maybe that was his problem.  He wanted to be free–free from reality, free from consequence—but he knew there was no freedom in what he wanted. He only wanted it because it felt like freedom.  It only felt like freedom because it was different from his current prison.

‘What prison?’

This was definitely a prison.  It was engulfing him.  He was ready to sell himself.  He knew it was a mistake, but he didn’t feel like being strong.

‘It will make sense someday.’

Would it be too late?

Late…2:30 am…it was late!  He closed his eyes again, more firmly this time, tried to relax, found relief, and slowly fell to sleep.

III.

Branson was here intentionally, but this had to be an accident. Weren’t all mistakes accidents? He wished that it was so! He couldn’t bear the idea that he may have actually done this by intention. His desires couldn’t have that strong a grip on him, could they? But he was smart enough to know that accidents didn’t happen in complete disconnection from purpose.  He had chosen.

It began as normal: come together, get closer, dance, make an exit, complete the sequence, say nice things at the end, get up the next morning, return to life as usual. It should all be guilt free. That’s how he expected it to be. That’s not how it was.

There was guilt here. Deep, unsightly, crippling…crippling guilt consumed him. All that guilt he had never acknowledged before was suffocating him.

But it was almost beautiful.  Pain was surprising.

 IV.

“What’s your name?”

“Aln.”

“Never been here before, have you?”

“Nope.”

“Can I get you a drink?”

“Sure, thanks.”

“Have a seat. I’ll be right back.”

‘What are you doing here? This is stupid! No, it’s what I want.  I don’t care if it’s stupid anymore—I’m stupid!  No you’re not.  You know better. Obviously not.’

“Here’s your drink.  May I join you?”

“Sure.”

“So what do you think of the place?”

“Loud.”

“You could say that!” Pause. “So I’m guessing you’re not much for conversation?”

“It depends, I guess.  I’m just a little on the fence about being here.”

“I understand, man.  I see a lot of that.  This is a pretty shallow joint, I’ll admit.”

“So why do you work here?”

“Well, I’m sure it’s not because I’m shallow! That would be too obvious.”

“Well, I’m just saying, you don’t come across that way.”

“Yet here I am, talking up the cute guy.”

“So you think I’m cute, huh?”

“Now look who’s being shallow!”

“Fair.”

“So what are you planning to get out of this little…visit of yours?”

“That’s what I’m on the fence about.  I mean, why else do people normally come here?”

“Company?”

“Partially, I’m sure.  Company all the way back home?  Company until both are feeling a little more fulfilled? Company until self-satisfaction has all the cards?”

“Well, it’s all about self-satisfaction from the beginning, isn’t it? I mean, Jesus doesn’t usually hang out here.”

“What would you do if he did?”

“Be really intrigued.”

“So, what now? Am I being shallow enough?”

“I guess so! I almost forgot you were new at this.”

“Flattering. Thanks”

“No skin.”

“So, is it time for the next step?”

“Look at this guy! Goodbye fence!”

“Sounds good to me.”

“That’s just because you’ve had enough to drink, but who cares! I get off in twenty.”

“I’m in! Oh yeah, what was your name?”

“My bad…I’m Branson.”

V.

Aln opened his eyes. Dark.  No more soccer field.  No more counter top fridge.

‘You did it.’

 Before the sleep even began to leave his eyes, tears drowned them.  It hurt.  Pain filled his eyes as reality stung his heart.  He really was stupid.

‘I’m all in now. There’s nothing left to hide behind.’

 No more shallow.  No more casual.  No more feigned boldness.  He’d finally crossed the line he kept redrawing.  And it wasn’t even for love!  It was just another prison—just like he knew it would be.  He was just weaker, even more pitiful.

Last night he told himself he was strong.  Last night he said he was free. Last night he lied.

‘Now I’m just stupid. Selfish and stupid. A selfish, stupid prisoner.  Again.’

 By now his pillow was soaked.  Except that it wasn’t his pillow; this wasn’t his bed.  Why was he here?

The body to his left began to stir.

Experience.  He had it now.

Aln’s eyes made contact with Branson’s.

Reailty.  He never escaped it.

His own regret was mirrored in the eyes of this near stranger.

Love. He didn’t find it.

“I’m sorry I’ve got to go.”

Experience wasn’t worth it.

‘God, forgive me. I need You.’

VI.

Across an abandoned soccer field a young man runs. It is dark, but for one street light. No one else is outside tonight, and he likes it that way. At the clumsy direction of his inexperienced feet, a soccer ball bounds across the grass before him. He veers left, then dodges right. The field is empty, but his mind is full.

Questions. Confusion. Frustration. He isn’t sure how to play soccer. He doesn’t know the rules of the game. He doesn’t know the tactics. He only knows that the ball needs to into the goal. He needs to hit the net.

Silently, a bat flaps across the field, fluttering through the still night air. In the distance, a horn is honked, a dog barks, a semi engine moans. These distractions don’t matter. He blocks them out of his focus. He has to hit the net. He maneuvers awkwardly onward toward the net. His foots misses the ball. He kicks it in the wrong direction. That’s okay; he’s learning.

He swings his leg back and narrows his focus even more. Twenty feet away, the net awaits. He swings his leg forward. Twelve feet. Five feet. Into the goal! The net is thrown backward by the force of his kick.

He did it.

The real competition hasn’t come yet.  He has a lot to learn, but he did it!

‘That’s what time is for.’

 Moment by moment, day by day, he is free to change–free to be the way he was created to be by the perfect One who made him, forgave him, and saved him from his prison. These were the true moments of unparalleled sequence.


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Moments of Unparalleled Sequence 6

VI.

Across an abandoned soccer field a young man runs. It is dark, but for one street light. No one else is outside tonight, and he likes it that way. At the clumsy direction of his inexperienced feet, a soccer ball bounds across the grass before him. He veers left, then dodges right. The field is empty, but his mind is full.

Questions. Confusion. Frustration. He isn’t sure how to play soccer. He doesn’t know the rules of the game. He doesn’t know the tactics. He only knows that the ball needs to into the goal. He needs to hit the net.

Silently, a bat flaps across the field, fluttering through the still night air. In the distance, a horn is honked, a dog barks, a semi engine moans. These distractions don’t matter. He blocks them out of his focus. He has to hit the net. He maneuvers awkwardly onward toward the net. His foots misses the ball. He kicks it in the wrong direction. That’s okay; he’s learning.

He swings his leg back and narrows his focus even more. Twenty feet away, the net awaits. He swings his leg forward. Twelve feet. Five feet. Into the goal! The net is thrown backward by the force of his kick.

He did it.

The real competition hasn’t come yet.  He has a lot to learn, but he did it!

‘That’s what time is for.’

 Moment by moment, day by day, he is free to change–free to be the way he was created to be by the perfect One who made him, forgave him, and saved him from his prison. These were the true moments of unparalleled sequence…unparalleled importance.

{This is part six of six. To read the first five parts, scroll down my homepage. I will post the whole story in its entirety tomorrow.}


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Moments of Unparalleled Sequence 5

V.

Aln opened his eyes. Dark.  No more soccer field.  No more counter top fridge.

‘You did it.’

 Before the sleep even began to leave his eyes, tears drowned them. It hurt. Pain filled his eyes as reality stung his heart. He really was stupid.

‘I’m all in now. There’s nothing left to hide behind.’

 No more shallow. No more casual. No more feigned boldness. He’d finally crossed the line he kept redrawing. And it wasn’t even for love!  It was just another prison—just like he knew it would be. He was just weaker, even more pitiful.

Last night he told himself he was strong. Last night he said he was free. Last night he lied.

‘Now I’m just stupid. Selfish and stupid. A selfish, stupid prisoner.  Again.’

 By now his pillow was soaked. Except that it wasn’t his pillow; this wasn’t his bed. Why was he here?

The body to his left began to stir.

Experience. He had it now.

Aln’s eyes made contact with Branson’s.

Reailty. He never escaped it.

His own regret was mirrored in the eyes of this near stranger.

Love. He didn’t find it.

“I’m sorry; I’ve got to go.”

Experience wasn’t worth it.

‘God, forgive me. I need You.’

{This is part five of six…come back soon for part six! I will post the whole story as one post after all the parts have been posted.}


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Moments of Unparalleled Sequence 4

IV.

“What’s your name?”

“Aln.”

“Never been here before, have you?”

“Nope.”

“Can I get you a drink?”

“Sure, thanks.”

“Have a seat. I’ll be right back.”

‘What are you doing here? This is stupid! No, it’s what I want.  I don’t care if it’s stupid anymore—I’m stupid!  No you’re not.  You know better. Obviously not.’

“Here’s your drink.  May I join you?”

“Sure.”

“So what do you think of the place?”

“Loud.”

“You could say that!” Pause. “So I’m guessing you’re not much for conversation?”

“It depends, I guess.  I’m just a little on the fence about being here.”

“I understand, man.  I see a lot of that.  This is a pretty shallow joint, I’ll admit.”

“So why do you work here?”

“Well, I’m sure it’s not because I’m shallow! That would be too obvious.”

“Well, I’m just saying, you don’t come across that way.”

“Yet here I am, talking up the cute guy.”

“So you think I’m cute, huh?”

“Now look who’s being shallow!”

“Fair.”

“So what are you planning to get out of this little…visit of yours?”

“That’s what I’m on the fence about.  I mean, why else do people normally come here?”

“Company?”

“Partially, I’m sure.  Company all the way back home?  Company until both are feeling a little more fulfilled? Company until self-satisfaction has all the cards?”

“Well, it’s all about self-satisfaction from the beginning, isn’t it? I mean, Jesus doesn’t usually hang out here.”

“What would you do if he did?”

“Be really intrigued.”

“So, what now? Am I being shallow enough?”

“I guess so! I almost forgot you were new at this.”

“Flattering. Thanks”

“No skin.”

“So, is it time for the next step?”

“Look at this guy! Goodbye fence!”

“Sounds good to me.”

“That’s just because you’ve had enough to drink, but who cares! I get off in twenty.”

“I’m in! Oh yeah, what was your name?”

“My bad…I’m Branson.”

{This is part four of six…keep reading for part five! I will post the whole story as one post after all the parts have been posted.}


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Moments of Unparalleled Sequence 3

III.

Branson was here intentionally, but this had to be an accident. Weren’t all mistakes accidents? He wished that it was so! He couldn’t bear the idea that he may have actually done this by intention. His desires couldn’t have that strong a grip on him, could they? But he was smart enough to know that accidents didn’t happen in complete disconnection from purpose.  He had chosen.

It began as usual: come together, get closer, dance, make an exit, complete the sequence, say nice things at the end, get up the next morning, return to life as usual. It should all be guilt free.

That’s how he’d expected it to be.

That’s not how it was.

There was guilt here. Deep, unsightly, crippling…crippling guilt consumed him. All that guilt he had never acknowledged before was suffocating him.

But it was almost beautiful.  Pain was surprising.

{This is part three of six…keep reading for part four! I will post the whole story as one post after all the parts have been posted.}


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Moments of Unparalleled Sequence 2

II.

A dream of ecstasy. He came and went. Then he returned and returned again. Not physically, but mentally he was present. Oh, how he was present! It was a beautiful, fleeting, lust-filled moment. A moment of unparalleled sequence. A moment that could never be repeated. He never wanted to repeat it, but he wanted more of it.

Aln opened his eyes. He didn’t see much, but his eyes were opened. He wanted to see more, but all he saw was the darkness of night. He saw the dim, lava-colored glow of his alarm clock. It was too close to morning.

‘Alarm clocks are stressful.’

 He saw the glow of a street light in glaring stripes through the blinds of his window. Outside, the green of an abandoned soccer field filled his view

‘Soccer…one more part of life I don’t know anything about.’

He heard the start up whirl of a small refrigerator’s generator at the foot of his bunk. He took in the smell of an apartment frequented by a regular influx of college students. It didn’t smell bad—not yet. It smelled used.

‘Used isn’t always bad. It really means that it’s good enough to be around for a little while. Maybe I’m just saying that so I feel like I have something intelligent to say. Probably.’

He was having another one of those nights. Nights were good when they meant relief, sleep. They were bad when they meant thinking, pondering, facing deep reality.

‘I’m really sick of reality. I hate it. I hate that I can’t escape it. Why can’t I just forget reality?’

Maybe that was his problem. He wanted to be free–free from reality, free from consequence—but he knew there was no freedom in what he wanted. He only wanted it because it felt like freedom. It only felt like freedom because it was different from his current prison.

‘What prison?’

This was definitely a prison. It was engulfing him. He was ready to sell himself. He knew it was a mistake, but he didn’t feel like being strong.

‘It will make sense someday.’

Would it be too late?

Late…2:30 AM…it was late! He closed his eyes again, more firmly this time, tried to relax, found relief, and slowly fell to sleep.

{This is part two of six…keep reading for part three! I will post the whole story as one post after all the parts have been posted.}