CURIOUS

adjective    1 eager to learn or know, inquisitive;    
2 arousing or exciting speculation, interest, or attention through being inexplicably unusual; 
3 a blog by Kris "skinnyk" Morron

6/28/21

She never felt more unsure of what she was trying to conquer, she just knew she needed to do it.

High winds and freezing temperatures were in the forecast and not the conditions she preferred whilst climbing, but she never really thought nature gave a shit about what her preferences were, and she decided to move ahead anyways. The snow was deep, making each step a challenge. Gusts of wind amplified the cold and there were times when breathing seemed to have more in common with suffocating. It can be discouraging to look up when climbing a mountain. Their incredible size plays tricks with her mind. No matter how many times she has taken on this challenge, when she looks at a mountain, she can’t help but think, “It doesn’t look all that bad.” Then she starts, and goes, and goes, and goes. She knows progress is being made, footprints in the snow clearly show that to be true, but when she looks up—especially in the early stages of the climb—the distance between her and the summit looks not to have changed in the least. She continues. 

The wind grows colder, the steps she takes require even more effort. The forest thins out and is replaced by jagged boulders and walls of stone and ice. Each obstacle requires her to call upon another set of skills that she has honed over years of exploration. It’s difficult for her to even remember the initial fear she felt when approaching these challenges the first few times. Now she takes them on with the confidence of an explorer who has known curiosity, fear, strife, failure, and perseverance. She doesn’t even hesitate anymore she just keeps going, problem solving. 

It’s getting harder to breathe. The air thins and it takes all her concentration to keep going. She can’t even see the peak anymore. She knows it’s there, that she’s heading in the right direction, but the way is obscured by clouds and fierce winds blowing snow that feels as though it’s piercing what little skin is not covered. When she looks at her watch, she sees that it’s mid-day, but she can’t tell by what she’s seeing. The snow, clouds, and the mountain itself are all obscuring the sun, creating an otherworldly look of both light and shadow. 

And then, without any indication that it is coming, she reaches an elevation above the clouds. A carpet of moisture stretches as far as her eyes can see and the sun’s rays bounce off the white carpet. The peak. She can see it. After hours of not knowing what kind of progress she was making, now she can see it. Her pace quickens ever so slightly as a burst of adrenaline hits her system. Her body is taxed and doubt that she can summit sneaks into her mind. One foot in front of the other. While each step takes immense amounts of concentration and effort, once they have been taken, they fall into obscurity with all that came before them. And then, it’s done. Summit. 

For a moment, the wind stops, and the sun warms her ever so slightly. She sits and reflects on what she has just accomplished. The beauty before her is awe inspiring. She knows that she is now among a select few who have made it this far; that have not just dreamt of reaching the summit, but who have done so. Her confidence grows and she feels strong, but she still wonders what it all means. While this thought crosses her mind, she looks across the sea of clouds and her eyes land on an even taller peak and she knows. Everything she did to conquer this challenge has prepared her to tackle the one that lies before her. 

While at first this challenge seemed to be the greatest of her life, what she has come to realize is that it is but a steppingstone to accomplishing even greater things. As she descends, she is already thinking about the next mountain, the next challenge. She catalogues the knowledge she has gained from this expedition, the feelings she experienced, the hardships and the glories because she knows that she will need to call upon all of it to persevere next time. She may have not known what she was trying to conquer when she first started her journey, but the journey itself revealed what she could not see before she took the first step. And while every mountain presents its own unique set of challenges, she now knows that it is not about the summit, but about what she learns along the way. 

6/25/21

As I continue to explore music sounds this summer, I have challenged myself to write music in a wide variety of styles. Today's challenge was to write a theme song for a Sci-Fi television series. As I worked on this, I drew on my love for Douglas Adam's novel, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the soundtracks for Thor: Ragnarok (by Mark Mothersbaugh) and Loki (by Natalie Holt). You can listen to what I came up with by clicking here.

6/11/21

"Green" is a musical sketch. We are in the waning days of spring and summer is peeking around the corner. As I sat down to begin writing this, I wanted to create something that represented the quiet moments spent by a pond in the early hours of the morning and the joy on children's faces as they play together in sprinklers and catch lightning bugs. You can listen to "Green" on my Soundcloud page by clicking here.

6/10/21

I saw you a while ago
singing in the party barn.
Later, by the fire
you looked up at the stars.

Next time I saw you,
you were hiking through the woods,
taking pictures of rattlesnakes,
singing songs we often would when...

Strolling on the green,
thinking of what we did.
Strolling on the green,
dreaming of what lied ahead.

I saw you walking streets
in every corner of NYC,
taking photos of haunted lots
you were quieter then, it seemed.

The last time I saw you
your ghost was on a screen.
The sight was bittersweet
and occupied my dreams of...

Strolling on the green,
thinking of what we did.
Strolling on the green,
dreaming of what lied ahead.

Whoa, and the memories I held dear
are fading every time I think of green.
Whoa, I'll stop 'cause I fear
chances are we'll never again be...

Strolling on the green,
making memories.
Strolling on the green,
in collective reverie.
Strolling on the green,
thinking of what we did.
Strolling on the green,
dreaming of what lies ahead.

3/12/21


Here I come, Cindy! You better be ready. We’ve worked on this pass for the whole season and here we are, winning the conference championship race. I see you watching me. Where’s your hand? There it is! Just like we practiced. Ok, it’s time for you to start running… and…


Pass.


Wanda, you queen! That was the best hand-off we’ve had all season! And the lead you built! I could walk the rest of the way and we’d still win. Ah, but we need to break that record! Zoom, baby! Zoom! Almost there… stretch for the record… did we…? Oh, hell yeah! Where my girls at? I can’t believe it. All the work all the… someone get coach over here. 


Pass.


In all my 20 years of coaching I have never been this proud. These girls are incredible. They didn’t celebrate for more than a few seconds before looking for me. This is amazing. Take it in. Enjoy it. What a memory. I know Terry is here. Where is he? Oh! There he is. He looks so excited. Boy did I hit the lottery with that guy. I’m gonna give him one of those winks he always smiles about.


Pass.


I love it when he does that. I am so proud right now. He’s been working with that team day and night and while I’ve definitely not seen him as much as I would have liked to, he deserves this. So proud. Too bad I can’t be down there to celebrate with him. I think I’ll go get some champagne and his favorite Chinese take-out and get the house ready so we can celebrate tonight. 


Ok. I think I have everything I need here. Let’s pay for this and get home. Mohammed! This guy! Always greets me with a smile and wishes me a pleasant evening. Love that. I think I’ll comment on how clean the store looks today. I always hear him talking about how much pride he has…


Pass.


That Mr. Cassell is a very fine man. He is polite, and for him to take the time to comment on the store… It does look good today. Nothing better than a clean store. Everything is in order. I have worked hard to make this a special place in the neighborhood. Regulars like Mr. Cassell inspire me to keep it up. Ah, here comes Mrs. Lindsey. She seems to be limping a little more than usual. I should go open…


Pass.


What a fine gentleman Mohammed is. I had my doubts at first, Sam had owned this place for so long, I was worried Mohammed would not be able to keep the shop as integral to the neighborhood as Sam did, but in the end he’s improved the place. Sam never held the door for me. A fine man indeed.


It sure is warm tonight. I’m glad the a/c is working again. That damn box has been nothing but a nuisance since Grant installed it. Let’s see… how did he say I’m supposed to turn this on again? I’m so bad at remembering. I’m pretty sure I’m the one who broke it last time, hehe. Oh, look! There’s Willard. Why’s he sitting all alone. I’m certain I saw Sally earlier today. Let’s see if I can get this window…


Pass.


Mrs. Lindsey you sure know how to make a sad old bag of bones feel like a million bucks. So nice of her to ask about Sally. God, I hope she is OK. Not much I can do about it though, might as well take in the night air. Golly, it’s hot. This must be the hottest night we’ve had this spring. I sure miss Sally’s company. We’ve been sitting on this bench, talking ‘til the sun sets for the last few weeks. It’s been nice. I wonder if… uhp, here she is. Right on schedule. Every night, power walking. I’m not sure if she’s lost any weight yet, but bless her for being committed.


Pass.


Silly old man, but still, it sure was nice of him to encourage me on. Come on, now. Keep up the pace. You’ve lost almost 10 pounds. Only 34 more to go. I got this. Push. Push. 


That was a tough one. It was so hot outside I thought I might pass out at the end there. I hope Marcus has the kids to bed. I sure would like to get a cool glass of water, take a shower, and call it a day. What’s this? Glass of water on the counter and a… “I’m so proud of you. You’re my inspiration because you can do anything. I love you.” Oh, my gawd, I’m gonna cry. Where is that hunk a man?


Pass.


Well I guess the note worked. Haha. I’m going to need to gather myself before heading out for the meeting. So proud of my lady. After all the shit I put her through, I can’t believe she’s still here. I owe her more than a glass of water and a little note, but hell, it seemed to put her in a good mood. Hav’ta remember that one for another time.


Almost a year. Way to go Kerry. That guy’s come a long way. I remember his first meeting. Man, he was a mess. Now look at ‘im. Dude’s got his shit to-geth-er! I outta…


Pass.


That Marcus is a straight up cool dude, man. Always passin’ on a good word and a solid pat on the back. I’m glad I came tonight. I’m doin’ it. These people seem to care about me and that means the world. It’s hard to get through the day sometimes, but the kindness and encouragement I get here keeps me movin’ through the week and comin’ back. Shit. They’ve been some hard times, man. These people are the first to believe in me in ages. I ain’t never gonna take that for granted. Who’s that…


Pass.





3/11/21

How long have I been sitting in this corner? A year? Two? I haven’t been clean in forever and the grimy build-up is really getting out of hand. I wonder if anyone misses the sound of my voice? Back in the day, I used to bring so much joy to the people around me. Not any more. Now I just spend my days sitting here, covered in my black cloak, just hoping someone will pick me up so we can have some fun; make some memories. 


I wonder what happened to the red headed girl I used to play with. Man, we had some good times. I hope she’s feeling better these days. I wish she would come play with me again, but I hope she’s at least found someone else to help cheer her up the way I did. 


When’s the last time I made music? If someone picked me up and encouraged me to sing I can’t imagine I would sound all that great. I haven’t stretched in ages and I’m not even 100% sure I wouldn’t break something if I were to get out and play. Seriously, what’s going on here? Why did I get forgotten? I’m not even out of view. There’s that one guy that comes into the office all the time. He’s always playing with others, he even looks at me from time-to-time. Dude, just pick me up and we can play together. He probably has another somewhere else; someone who’s prettier and sings better. 


Oh, well. I guess I’ll just be patient. He’s going to have to clean his desk sooner or later. Maybe he’ll take me out and we can play a bit. Maybe that will lead to more playing down the line. Oh! Here he comes! Will this…? Is he…? Oh, shit. Back to that fucking computer again. Maybe tomorrow.



2/25/21

I’ve been doing this for four days. No breaks, no one has come to rescue me. I’ve been here, at my desk writing. Writing and writing and writing. I cannot stop. 


This all started as a challenge put forth by another writer. He challenged a small group of creators, including yours truly, to work through the weekend. We all wanted to see what we could accomplish if we cleared our schedules and gave ourselves much-needed time to ply our trades. The challenge seemed motivating and being the curious man I am, I thought I would give it a go. 

My hand is cramped, my mind is foggy, my clothes are soiled. I am disgusting and yet I cannot stop. I keep slashing black scars into this parchment as if it had wronged me. The story I began in the early hours of Saturday has long since faded into memory. As Tuesday comes to a close, I am writing because I am possessed or haunted, it’s hard to tell at this point. 

Things began innocently enough. Saturday was a very productive day. I made a pot of tea and laid out enough biscuits to last the weekend. The day before, I had gone to the shop and purchased some new paper and my favorite pens. Before I began, I organized my writing space so that I would be comfortable and to reduce the number of distractions. And by all accounts, I succeeded. After an hour of warm-up gibberish, a story came to me. Ink poured onto the page with little effort, and I was high off the fumes of inspiration. Time was no longer a construct that existed in my space. I was lost in my inner world and the story guided my hand. It was all so easy. But I was being deceived.

It was in the early hours of Sunday morning that I began to realize I had not stopped for quite some time; in fact, I wasn’t even sure what time it was. The tea had long grown cold and the biscuits were nearly gone, consumed with little consideration for their flavor, merely for the acquisition of energy to keep going. As I rose to use the loo in those early morning hours my body rebelled. I had grown stiff as a board and my joints cracked as I stretched my legs, released the tension from my fingers, and turned my head. As I sat upon the pot, the siren song sang loudly in my ear. Ideas continued to flood my mind. I needed to return. 

I can hardly remember the next day. I never parted the shades to let in any light. Maybe it was cloudy, and the day seemed like an extension of the night. It’s all a blur, but the writing continued. Ideas kept coming. Any time I felt the urge to stop, to go make some tea, to eat a real meal the story pulled me back. I didn’t want to forget anything. I would not neglect the muse that was speaking through me.

I was supposed to go to work on Monday, but I didn’t even know when Sunday ended and Monday began. I was no longer living in my apartment. I had transported myself to wherever it was that I was writing about. Oh, the pain I experienced that day. I fought through it and kept going. The ideas were incredible. The dialogue, like nothing I had ever written. This was it. I was writing my masterpiece. And then came the knock.

That good-for-nothing Mr. Pillims was asking for a cup of sugar. He was always baking something and always borrowing ingredients from me rather than going to the market. Usually, I didn’t mind as he typically shared his delectable creations with me as a means of payment. Well, Monday was the wrong day for him to come calling. I tried to ignore him at first, but he was persistent. His knocking became louder and his calls more desperate. “Please, I know you’re there. All I need is a bit of sugar. Tasty cakes for the lone writer. It will be worth it, I promise.”

I begrudgingly rose from my desk to a chorus of cracks and pops, limped to the kitchen to grab the sugar, limped to the door, thrust the whole bag into his arms, and slammed the door. I said not a word, gave him as little time as I could, but the damage had been done. The muse had left.

To be continued…

2/22/21

“This is it. Today is the first day of your new life.” Daniel stood at the mirror in his bathroom giving himself a last-minute look over before he had to leave. Everything seemed in order. He shaved for the first time in a few weeks and by some miracle, not a single nick. His old suit was dry-cleaned and pressed and looked as good as it did on the first day he wore it, his mom’s wedding day. The knot of his tie was perfect, with just the right amount of dimple underneath it. “You’re lookin’ good and feelin’ it. This is gonna happen for you. You’re gonna get this job.”

Daniel ran up the stairs that led from his basement apartment to his parent’s kitchen. His mom was by the coffee machine waiting for him with a to-go cup of coffee in her hand. “My baby is lookin’ sharp this mornin’!”

“Thanks, Ma.”

Don was sitting at the table, reading the paper and sipping on his own cup of joe. He folded down one side of the paper to reveal an inquisitive look and a raised eyebrow. “How you feeling, Daniel?”

“I’m good. I’m good.”

“You got this. We practiced. You’re right for the job.” Don wasn’t an overly enthusiastic guy—very practical—so every little movement was meant to convey something. He gave Daniel a half-smile and a slight nod of approval. “Now, go hit a home run.”

“Thanks, you g…”

Daniel’s mom, cut him off mid-sentence, thrust the mug in his hand, and pushed him towards the door. “You gotta go. Don’t want you missin’ the bus today. You got this, baby.” She kissed him on the cheek as he threw on his tan trench coat and plaid scarf. “Love you.”

“Love you too, Momma.”

 


Daniel had been following the weather for the last few days. It had been an unusually cold spring and every forecast predicted that today was going to be right in line with the rest, cold and windy. As he walked down the driveway, Daniel quickly noticed the forecasters had been wrong. It was a warm and partly cloudy April morning. Daniel and his mom had moved into Don’s house after the wedding. The neighborhood was filled with people who drove into the city for work. Hardly anyone took the bus this far out in the ‘burbs, except for Daniel so he was used to the quiet streets he was walking down.

Daniel found this time to be a gift, an opportunity to dream and let his mind wander. He often found himself thinking about what he wanted to do with his life or the person he would like to meet and have a relationship with. Every once in a while, he would allow his inner child to emerge and daydream about fantastic worlds that were hidden amongst the banality of suburban life. Not one block from his home, almost on cue, Daniel noticed something unusual on the sidewalk ahead of him. 

As he approached, he saw some words written in pink chalk. Each step brought the message closer and more in focus, “HEY YOU”. Daniel stopped so that his toes pointed at the two words and took a moment to tilt his head in curiosity. Right above the text was a rather long arrow pointing to more pink words written on the sidewalk across the street on the next block ahead of him. 

It was in the direction Daniel needed to go to catch the bus, so he decided to see what came next. He took purposeful steps towards the next message and was interested in seeing what it said. “DO YOU LIKE PIRATES?”. After Daniel read the odd question he looked up and all around. The streets were quiet; he was alone in this little game. Another arrow was drawn above the words and Daniel could see the next message about 100 feet away, awaiting his gaze.

“HOW ABOUT TREASURE?” Another arrow. Another 100 feet. 

“YAR ALMOST THERE!” There was another arrow, only this one led to one that pointed around a corner. It wasn’t the exact route Daniel usually took to get to the bus stop, but he knew the neighborhood well enough to know that if he turned the corner and followed the arrow he would still get to the bus on time, so he continued to play along. 

Once he rounded the corner, he noticed an arrow that was pointing at a tree. When Daniel got to the small maple, he noticed someone had drawn a chalk arrow from the base of the tree up to about knee height. The tip of the arrow was pointing at a little nook. Daniel noticed something reflecting the morning light in his direction. He crouched down as he used to when he played catcher on Don’s softball team. Crammed in the crack he found a golden coin. 

“What the…” A little surprised by what he had found, Daniel extended his fingers and hesitantly pulled out a Sacagawea dollar. “Huh. A fool's bounty I guess.” As the thought crossed his mind, he noticed a small piece of paper had been put in the crack behind the coin. Daniel removed the piece of hand-made paper and unfolded it. Upon the parchment he found a short note written in an old-school looking style of calligraphy, “THIS HERE’S A COIN, BUT YAR TREASURE LIES AHEAD, MATEY.”

Daniel didn’t have much time to contemplate the message as he heard the bus pull up to the stop before his and he wasn’t about to miss the bus and be late for his interview. He stuffed the coin and note in his pocket and ran to the bus stop, getting there just in time. The sense of relief he felt upon sitting in his seat pushed the coin to the back of his thoughts and he began to mentally prepare for the interview.


 

The moment Daniel stepped into the office he knew he wasn’t going to get the job. It’s not like the interview didn’t go well. All the preparation paid off and he left feeling like all the effort he and Don had put in to get ready had been worthwhile, but he just fell deep down they weren’t going to hire him. The interview was too brief and the interactions between him and the people interviewing him didn’t feel natural. As he was leaving, Daniel looked around at the people sitting at their desks, hard at work. They looked miserable. No one was talking to each other, no smiles, no one even looked up to see who the potential new guy was. 

As he boarded the elevator to descend back down to the exit, Daniel tried to reassure himself that after seeing the work environment, not getting the job was for the better. Regardless, it was another interview (the fifth in the last two weeks) and still no work. He couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed as he exited the building and stepped onto the plaza outside. He didn’t have any more interviews planned for the day so there was little purpose to his gait. Daniel looked around and took in his surroundings. People were busily walking around, talking with others, and looking important. Everyone was moving about except one man sitting on the edge of a cement wall that bordered a green park-like area that was likely used by employees so they could eat lunch outside on nice days like today.

“Hey, can you spare some change?” The man on the wall was looking right at Daniel. Daniel couldn’t help but think that he had been singled out because of how out-of-place he looked amongst the employed. “The guy over there is selling hot dogs; two for a dollar. Can you spare some change so I can eat?”

Daniel felt some empathy for the man talking to him. He’d been living in Don’s basement for a year now because he was having such a difficult time finding a job. “Tell you what, I’m pretty hungry and a hot dog sounds great. You wanna have lunch with me?”

A relieved smile broke across the man’s face as he walked towards Daniel. “If you’re buyin’, I’m in.”

Daniel extended his hand to the approaching man as he asked, “What’s your name?”

“William. William Kidd.”

“Like the pirate?”

William chuckled as he delivered his well-worn reply to the question he’d been asked countless times before, “My parents were overly enthusiastic Charles Laughton fans and not very creative when it came to names.”

“Well. I can relate. My mother named me Daniel after the guy in the Bible.”

William's lips parted in a broad, kindly smile as he took Daniel’s hand and replied, “Pleasure to meet you, Daniel. Welcome to the lion’s den.”

The two men approached the hot dog stand and were greeted by a very enthusiastic vendor. “Hello, my friends! Today’s special, two dogs for a dollar.”

Daniel held up two fingers as he ordered, “Sounds great.” As the dogs were being lifted from the hot dog bathhouse and placed upon bright white pillowy buns, Daniel reached into his pocket to grab his wallet. As his fingers entered, he felt the cold sides of the golden dollar first. Instead of grabbing the leather bifold, he grabbed the gold coin instead. Having had forgotten about the treasure he found earlier that day; Daniel held the coin up to look at it in a bit of wonderment. 

His focus on the coin was quickly broken by the vendor’s inquiry, “you want any ketchup or mustard on these?”

“Uh, yeah. Sorry. I’ll take some mustard. How about you, William?”

“I’ll take a stripe of both, thank you.”

The condiments were distributed, the dogs were wrapped, and Daniel flipped the coin to the vendor to complete the transaction. “Where’s a good place to sit around here?”

“I always like eating on the bench under the trees over where I was sitting. That alright with you, Daniel?”

“Sounds great.” 

Both men carried their dogs to a table that was being warmed by the late morning sun. As they ate, they had a pleasant conversation about why Daniel was there and how his interview went. All-in-all, both men were enjoying their meal when all of the sudden William shouted to a man walking into the building wearing what was clearly a very expensive suit.

“Hey, Jerry! How are you doing? It’s me! Don’t you remember me? William?” The man was surprised by the shouting and briefly looked over. As soon as he recognized William he immediately looked away and quickened his pace.

“Who’s that?”

“That was my old boss. I used to be a janitor in that building there. 15 years of cleaning their shit and all-of-the-sudden they couldn’t afford to pay me anymore. Guess they couldn’t afford to give up any of their expensive suits and fancy cars.”

“I’m sorry, William.”

“I don’t want your pity, I’m fine. Most days I pick up odd jobs, enough to get by. On days when I’m not workin’, I like to come down here and make those assholes feel uncomfortable.”

Both men laughed and enjoyed the rest of their hot dogs in silence. Daniel took in the moment. The sun felt great on his face. The hot dog was fine. He was really enjoying William’s company. After the unsuccessful interview, this moment felt like a gift. Though Daniel still needed to find a job, he wasn’t worried about it. His time with William was pleasantly reassuring that everything might not go as planned, but that he would be alright. Daniel let out a small chuckle.

“What’s that all about, brother?”

“The most extraordinary thing happened this morning. If I told you about it, you likely wouldn’t believe it.”

“You can keep your secrets. I don’t mind.”

“Thank you, William. Yar a good man.”

2/17/21

 

Són sits alone. It is quiet inside his cave. The noises that populate the world outside have no place in here when he is communing with the Force. He can sense the Force outside, but out there it is wild; it does not abide by any rules. Here, in this most ancient of Jedi sites, Són can focus the Force like the green kyber crystal focuses energy in his saber. He reaches out and the electricity of the Force hums around him. Tiny rocks and insects slowly rise a few inches off the ground. Behind his eyelids, he can see the green glow of the Force. He always sees it as a green mist that surrounds him. To his knowledge, he is the only Jedi that can sense the Force in this way. The electric mist fills the room and tethers him to all of the life that surrounds him. His mind opens. 

 

When Són reaches this state, his connection to the Force branches out across the galaxy like arteries that branch out from his heart and veins that bring the energy back to him. It is an intergalactic communication system, but unlike a comlink, there are no words, only emotions, and on the rarest of occasions images. While Són can connect with the Force this way anywhere, this cave, the Cave of Kibor always allows him to reach a little further. The most vivid images he has received have come from meditations he has had here. Today will be no exception.

 

It happens the same way each time. The green mist vibrates with emotions. Today he feels fear. The fear comes from a small point in the room. That area pulses and a circle of chaos, of unstable particles, emerges and violently ripples. Without any sense of reason or predictability, the center of the circle sucks in like a vortex and a window into another place slowly opens up like an aperture letting more light into a room. Són sees a dense forest. He sees a young girl in the late end of the first quarter of her life running, looking over her shoulder when there is nothing on the path that might trip her up. 

 

At first, Són cannot sense what pursues her, he can only sense her fear, but without warning, the forest foliage becomes darker. The branches, leaves, vines, all of the vegetation blocks out the sun, and the jungle becomes ominously still. The girl runs, but the claustrophobic forest slows her advance and soon she is clawing at a wall of green. Small vines that have grown into the most intricate and sturdy of nets rip under her fingers but do not yield a way forward. With a strange sense of intention, the darkness creeps in further. The girl stops. All of the sudden, Són feels it, the dark side of the Force. It feels aggressive, yet still obscure. No one is wielding the dark side of the Force, it is just there, like a minute virus, invisible to the eye, waiting to ensnare a victim. This girl is its target. 

 

The dark side advances on the girl. She can feel it. She turns slowly to face the ghost that approaches. It advances on her. She falls to her knees. For a brief moment, she looks up with her blue eyes at a small break in the canopy. A pinpoint of light shines down on her face, but before she can truly appreciate it, the light is covered up. She closes her eyes and bows her head to the ground. The dark side is upon her. Her body goes limp and then all is quiet.

 

Són waits in anxious curiosity to see what happens next and the moment stretches out like an eternity. Without reason or warning, the girl's body spasms, vibrating like an earthquake lives inside of her. Her face contorts and her mouth opens as she silently screams in agony and despair. She stops. She slowly raises her head and looks straight at Són. Her eyes open and the irises that were as blue as the oceans of Naboo just a moment ago are now yellow and red and black. 

She stands slowly. Her fingers bend into claw-like shapes and begin to crackle with electricity. Her skin is now a pale blue as if she were dead. She raises her chin and lets out a terrifyingly silent scream and the forest egg that has housed her transformation lights up like a plasma globe. Lightning shoots randomly from her hands to the foliage around her. Then, in an instant, she can sense Són and looks right at him. She lifts a hand and throws lightning at him, only, instead of being hit, the lightning shuts the window in his mind’s eye. The vision is over. The green mist recedes. The Force dissipates, but Són is left with an overpowering sense of dread. He must report to Master Yoda.

February 16th, 2021

May Bell sat in her favorite chair. It was big, pillowy, and ugly as hell, but it swiveled so she could look around her room, through the windows, and out into the hall. She always kept her door open. She loved getting unexpected visits from strangers. There seemed to be a lot of strangers coming to call these days. She couldn’t remember the last time a friend or family member stopped by. May quietly reassured herself, “Well, when you live to 104, I suppose you outlive your friends and family. I’ll just keep keeping my door open and I’ll make some new friends.”

 

May Bell’s chair had been working overtime that day. Between breakfast and lunch, a number of people had come to call. There was the new nurse. He was a nice young man, though May could see he’d lived some life even though he was… May was never good with remembering numbers. Well, he was young. Long hair, some of them funny-looking glasses May always saw the kids wearing on the TV. His uniform was a little disheveled, must have been in a hurry this morning. First days are full of anxiety. May felt sympathy for the young man. 

 

May also met her new neighbor. He was a spry young man at only 85 years old (May got a good chuckle out of that thought). She couldn’t quite figure why a man with so much energy and whit would need to live in Greenbriar Acres, but she thought he was cute and didn’t much care for thinking about the why, and thoroughly enjoyed his stopping by. 

 

A nice young lady came to call. May had had a very nice conversation with her over a cup of coffee (always black), though she couldn’t figure why her visitor looked so sad. Throughout her life, May Bell was the type of person that always wanted to cheer people up. Even at 104, she thought life was too short for moping. She had a good number of jokes she liked to tell when she saw someone who needed some cheering up. She told the one about the man pissing on the bar, which usually kills. The nice young lady briefly laughed and smiled and the rest of the conversation from that point on was pleasant and her coffee never got cold. 

 

The lady had brought May Bell a present. May was never really comfortable opening presents around other people and ask if she could open it later in the afternoon. The young lady seemed a little disappointed, but accepted May’s request. Hours later, the box was still leaning on the table within arms-reach of May’s Lay-Z-Boy. Seeing as the hall had gone quiet and it was too hot outside for any of the birds to be out, now seemed as good a time as ever to see what was inside.

 

The box was about 4 feet long and relatively flat, maybe 8 inches thick. It was a tattered old box, wrapped with fake alligator skin leather and covered in stickers with the names of cities from around the world on them. There were some brass latches that had clearly been well maintained. Unlike the rest of the box, they looked as good as new. The sun came through May’s window and reflected off of the lacquer, sending flashes of golden light across the room and directly into her eyes, blinding her for just a moment. 

 

Two quick snaps cut through the hum of May’s air conditioner as the latches anxiously opened. May slowly opened the lid to reveal a beautiful acoustic guitar. Now, this guitar was by no means new, but the color of the finish was spectacular. Yellow in the center of the guitar faded into a dark red finish that shaded the outer edges. The strings looked as good as new and when she ran her fingers across them, they sang gloriously in a familiar harmony. May took the guitar out of the box, gently put its butt on the ground next to her throne, and rested the neck on the armrest so she could take the box off her lap and put it on the floor in front of her. After picking up the guitar and preparing to play with it, any passer-by would have thought she was a street musician playing for donations.

 

Curiosity sparked in May’s brain and her fingers gently moved across the strings. As they vibrated, she could feel the course of the sound waves through her, like a warm embrace. She closed her eyes to fully embrace the sound and without any sense of intention the fingers on her left hand simultaneously pressed strings to the fingerboard and her right hand began to move her fingers up and down. Each moment brought a new chord, and soon May wasn’t just strumming, she was picking. The sound engulfed May and her room might as well have melted away. The Blues carried her to another place, another time. 

She was sitting on the porch of the house she grew up in. She could smell the lilacs that crowded in front of her stage. She could see her old neighbors looking up at her from the sidewalk as she began to mumble some words. Smiles broke across their faces. Her foot started to stamp out the beat on the old wood planks, dust rising with every thump. The sun shone through the trees and the leaves focused the light as though there were a hundred little spotlights shining down on her. The wind grabbed the music she was making and carried it around the neighborhood. A crowd began to form. Joy lifted May’s spirit and that happiness uplifted everyone around. Hollers came from the crowd as she belted out the next verse. “Sing it, May!” “A-MEN!” “Sing it, girl.” 

 

Thump. Thump. Thump. Strings vibrate with electricity. The Blues. Sing the Blues and troubles will melt away. Bend the E string to make the guitar cry and moan. Thump. Thump. Thump. Feel the pulse beat through the floor, chugging like a train rolling down the tracks. All this singing has dried vocal cords causing them to crack, but there is beauty in the flaw, emotion overflows and the audience is moved. The strings begin to cut into the tips of the fingers because callouses have not been formed yet. They begin to bleed, and the song begins to fade. The thumping fades. The sound of her voice fades. The hollers fade. The smell of lilacs fades.

 

May Bell opened her eyes. She was back in her room, sitting on her pillowed throne. The air conditioner hummed beside her. She carefully bent over and put the guitar back in its case. Clicked the brass latches and slowly rotated her chair so she could look out the window again. She hummed a tune while she rocked her chair gently to the beat. Where had she heard that song before? A hummingbird flew by her window. Curious. Curious indeed.

February 15th, 2021
 
 “Is that tanker breathing?” John wasn't sure what he was seeing, but it truly looked like it was. Sitting at a stoplight, listening to "Rumble" for the third time that morning (something about it, he just couldn't stop), late for work because of all this damn snow. There it is in front of him. Slowly rising and falling as if it were propped up by lungs instead of shocks. Up and down, in and out. He begins to breathe with it. It slows him down. It calms his curious mind. The world around him disappears. 

Strumming guitar. Pounding upright bass. Hot and heavy, dragging the drums with it. “What is this?” John wonders silently. In and out, up and down. John takes his hands off the wheel and rubs his palms on his jeans to check in with reality. He looks up and sees the tanker still calmly inhaling and exhaling. Hole-punched speakers distort the sound of the guitar and all of a sudden the tanker and the pulse of the music are in sync. The guitar vibrates with aggression and even as it fades out it haunts. 

Red lights fade. Wheels turn. The breathing stops. Like a runner who has stopped to catch their breath, the race beckons, and the runner must keep going. The tanker must keep going. John must keep going. Breathe.