Catholicism in the Car

Friday, May 27, 2022

A Lonely, Silent Night - A Short Story

It was a lonely, silent night. The sun just having set its rays behind the plains of flowing wheat. One night it was. A relative quiet filled the air, a train whistle heard in the distance. Something was off, but no one to witness. A barn cat purred while scratching its back against a growing elm tree. The wheels of the train, hitting the uneven seams of the tracks, screamed into the dark. Clap clap, clap clap.

There was a stressful thought whispering upon the wind as an old, beaten down Cutlass Ciera turns down the gravel drive of an ancient farmhouse. The grass recently mowed, but not pristine in appearance. The last bit of sunlight faded as a figure opens the car door, and places one barefoot upon the drive, feeling the rocks between his toes. As his head ducks slightly under the car roof, he scoots himself out and stands, leaning on the door. His shadow is struck in front of him, barely visible in the fading light. He breathes heavily and raspie. A hollow man he is. No one seems to notice the stranger’s presence. 

Upon the farmhouse porch lays a Model 21 Winchester with its black walnut stock, and handsomly crafted steel barrels. As dark overtook the property, a yellow light shone from a second story window facing the setting sun. The man standing on the drive could be seen clearly if anyone had been there to observe him. Silence again carved out the clapping of train wheels upon the ears of all and one alike. A few crickets chirp, and the wind blows.

A cream light is cast by the headlights upon concrete stairs leading up a small berm to another walk stretching to the porch. Now the man leans on the front of his car to observe the proceedings which forthcame. Rays from the car’s light rode around his calves, striking even darker shadows upon the berm, and even casting light upon the closed storm door leading into the house. A shimer reflects off of the steel barrel of the gun, leaning upon the door hinges. 

Stars now shown in the sky, as it was a clear night. A slight glow indicated the small town nearby, maybe 7 miles away, and obfuscated the stars’ light.

A door slammed within the house. This came from somewhere inside the house, but its exact location could not be ascertained. A muffled yelling could be heard from the drive; these sounds started loudly and abruptly and had been heard here before. They continued as they had many nights before; slamming to yelling to screaming. Pounding of fists on wood, and the stomping of feet.

Escalation turned to escalation, but nothing seemed particularly awry Until…

Smack. A closed fist on dainty flesh. A collapse. Then the silence returned, as though welcomed by the crickets and train. 

The storm door flung open, as a man brashly walked out. He is dazed and wobbling. The wood of the porch creaked below his steps. Stunned, he notices the car and figure standing at the end of his drive, but it seems to him that they are a figment of his stupor. After letting the storm door swing shut behind him, he turns, grabbing the steel barrels of the gun, straightens himself up, and heads back into the house. The faint sound of the gun’s being cocked sounds. Clap, Clap. 

On the drive, the figure can do nothing. He is not even light, but he does see.

The cat’s tail swung and an ear flicked.

A relative quiet filled the air, as a train whistle was heard in the distance. It was a lonely, silent night.

The Boy Dreams - A Short Story

A vision clouds itself forth within the mind. Bright fields with warm light from a steady sun. A rippling pool. Tepid air blowing the fields of wheat, as though they were running across the earth. Birds chirped quietly in a large maple tree whose leaves grew crimson in the hot sun. Coarse sand stood at the bank of a small pond; the water still and lifeless. Algae bloomed on the surface, creating a green carpet almost thick enough to walk upon. The toes of a young child tipped into the waters edge, as he sat upon the shore. Sand. Then, green grass for the length of a gunter’s chain. Lastly, the field of wheat leading to the small cottage that sat upon a hill. His parents knew he would be here.

A frog jumped into the pool via the bank adjacent to the boy. This slightly startled him out of his deep thoughts. Two dragon flies buzzed by his head, stuck together in a mating dance. The boy had come down to the water to fill his canteen, but seeing the algae growth he reconsidered his decision. The canteen had been given to him by his grandfather who had been a strong, hardy man. A farmer his whole life, that is, until he fell from a balcony that he was in the process of repairing. This was many years ago from the boy’s point of view. The old man had broken his back in two places, and had a gash on his head. Luckily, his wife heard him crying for help and was able to call an ambulance in time. He healed alright, but was not able to farm any longer. 

The boy laughed, thinking of what happened next in the story. After his grandpa had arrived at the hospital, the nurses and doctor checked him over, and were particularly worried about internal bleeding. They felt his abdomen, and assumed that there was a build up of blood there because of how hard it had gotten. The nurses began to tell his wife that she needed to prepare herself, for her husband would be needing surgery. In reality, his grandfather had been so physically fit that he had developed “rock hard abs,” as the children at school would say. 

Shaking his head to himself, he got up, found a stick lying nearby, and began to trail it along behind him as he walked along the edge of the pond. He walked for a little while, observing the squirrels racing around in the willow tree across the way. Such fun they had! So care free they were. What he would give to be able to live like them. Looking back at the line he had drawn, an idea popped in his head: art. He was not an artist, and had never really drawn much before. Some crayons had been utilized when he was much younger, but he didnt have time for drawing now. After all, why would he draw on paper with ink when he had such a colorful imagination? He would think, “I do not need to waste my time drawing; I can just dream up ideas.” This time, however, the urge to place pen to paper, or in this case, stick to sand was so great he had to follow through. 

It began with some quick circles. Then, a line down between the circles with a bend at the end. There! Eyes and a nose. He drew some goofy looking ears, and caused himself to laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of the face he had made. Joy. It brought him joy to do this. He knew he was no good at it, but the release it gave was invigorating. He began to draw everything he saw around him in the sand. The frogs, dragon flies, maple tree, leaves, and even attempted to draw the pond itself. This just ended up looking like an oddly shaped circle with squiggly lines down the middle representing the ripples. Before he knew it, he had created a whole city of masterpieces upon the sand.

Smiling and happy, he laid down on the sand, looking up at the sky. This escapade into the world of art had been exhilarating, but also exhausting. “No one would ever see these works,” he thought. They would be trampled under foot, blown away by the wind, or washed clean by the rain. As he lay there, he looked up at the sky. Clouds were blowing around like cotton tailed bunnies hopping across the front lawn to their dens. He watched them move, ever so slightly. Sometimes he wondered whether they moved at all! His eyes eventually started to droop, and he drifted off to sleep…

A fly landed on his face, and his eyes opened. It was hot and muggy; very humid. He woke up next to a pool of water much like the one he had just been near when lying down, but this pool was larger, more murky, and full of life such as he had never seen before! He leaned up upon his elbow, still slightly groggy from the nap he had been taking. As he looked around, he noticed that there was a stream that came into the pool, and then flowed out of it further down. He, laying on the bank, was situated perfectly to see the entire expanse of this large body of water. Getting up now he walked along the edge until he reached the mouth of the stream downwind from him, noticing the rushing water ripple as it was funneled into the smaller space.

He then continued on, and as he did so, the stream became widened until it seemed it was no longer a stream but a rushing river! Vines would hit his face every so often, and birds sang out loud macaws. It was peaceful here, yet edgy. 

He couldn't help but sense that something was a danger to him at all times. Just then, a small bird no larger than the palm of his hand swooped down and perched itself upon a branch near him. It chirped at him for a little while, staring. He stared back, and was surprised by the creature’s interest. He attempted not to blink, and looking in the direction of the bird, he noticed a number of other creatures around him. Snakes camouflaging themselves in the trees, and giant flying insects buzzing to and fro. He heard a large splash behind him, and turning around, saw ripples in the river. Pointing himself in this opposite direction, he waited to see if the creature would resurface. 

A few bubbles popped, releasing themselves from the water. Then, like lightning, a fish maybe two feet in length jumped straight out of the water and flew across the surface before being driven back in again by gravity’s pull. The boy was in awe. It was such an unexpected sight! He chuckled to himself and began to walk further along the banks of the river. He had thought about attempting to cross it, but had decided this was not such a good idea, being that he did not know what lived in the deep…

WHAM! He woke up with a jolt. An indent of his head and torso had been made behind him, where he had been sleeping. The stick he used to “paint” was still in his hand. He realized, after looking around, that he had also been tossing and turning at some point in his sleep, and that he had ruined many of the pictures in the sand. A slight disappointment welled up within his breast; he had not expected his art to be ruined so soon. 

Proceeding to get up from his position, he started to walk back towards the cottage across the field. He un-observantly dragged the stick in the sand behind him as he did so. A long, winding line was drawn; seeming to separate experience from reality. Or was it the other way around? He was to stay where he was. No adventure, no dreams. As a failed artist, he sulked. Or was it failure? As the wind blew across the fields of wheat, it seemed to say, “Why not dream?”

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