Thursday, December 31, 2015

Not Perfect

She wasn't complete yet
She wasn't perfect
She was the pearl growing in the shell.
She wasn't ready to be brought out this soon
But oh she longed to be.

She was the pearl that was still hidden because she didn't have the strength
to open the shell she was in.

When she came out she wasn't like the others.
She wasn't like the pearls who gleamed pink and glowed in the sunset
She wasn't like the pearls who were crazy colors and everyone noticed
She wasn't like the pearls who were little and gold and everyone wanted one on a ring
She wasn't even like the pearls who were so different that they stood out
She wasn't like the ones who were pure white and perfect.

She was the pearl who was so hard to pry out of the shell
that when she popped out she fell and rolled under the furniture
so that they had to get on hands and knees and fish around until they found her.

She was the one who was covered in dust when they finally picked her off the floor.
She was the one who still didn't seem right when they wiped off the cobwebs.

She was the pearl that was covered in a hard black layer that had formed over her in the shell.
The pearl it would take hours to finally be able to actually see what she looked like
because first the crust had to be cleared away and
It would take hours to remove.

So no one did
and they sent her to the jewelry shop where
she wasn't a pearl that stood out from the crowd of other pearls.

She wasn't a pearl that made jaws drop and everyone scramble to buy.
Not a pearl that appeared to be anything special
in fact she appeared to be rather ordinary.

She was a pearl that looked like a regular old pearl and most people went after the other pearls, the ones who were unique at first glance.

So she sat in the jewelry shop surrounded by a thousand other pearls that seemed to be destined to shine.

She was waiting
but no one wanted the ordinary-looking pearl
when they could have the perfect pearly pink one.
Or the rainbow pearl that people used to think was weird but now
was all the rage because it was different.

Some people know the pearls that don't stand out are often the best.
They're timeless
The ones that you see in family jewelry from hundreds of years ago
and will be in family jewelry hundreds of years from now.

Someone like that found the pearl and lifted her out of the dust and brushed her off
and smiled.
Someone like that put the pearl in a necklace where she could shine
Someone like that polished the pearl for the first time
removing layer by layer
the hard black casing.

It took hours of careful and patient work but slowly
the pearl started to shine through.

No one else would have taken the time.
No one else would have believed there was anything under the layers worth keeping
No one else would have come to love the pearl enough that the layers didn't matter
but they wanted the pearl to meet the sunlight
for the first time in her life.

No one else knew the pearl was even in there.
It didn't matter that the pearl didn't catch the eye
It didn't matter that the pearl didn't stand out
It didn't matter that at first glance the pearl didn't seem very interesting.

The pearl didn't have to do anything to be found and polished
and the reason she was loved
wasn't because she changed into the pearl everyone wanted
or because she improved over time.

She wasn't loved because she had tried to be loved
She was loved because someone saw her and knew there
was more to the pearl than a black layer
and someone loved her not because she was the pearly pearl
but because she was her
and she didn't have to do anything to deserve it.

It wasn't earned, it was given.

Love wasn't born because of something she did.
Love came to her because love was there already
and even if she never shone she mattered.

But she did shine even though it took a very, very long time.
and it turned out when she was held in the right light,
She turned purple.
Soft, violet purple.

But only sometimes and in the right light and
it didn't really matter anyway because
she was special no matter if she never turned purple again.

And the reason she could turn purple
was because she didn't have to.
And that was what
set the pearl free.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Lost You

So here I am on the outside
Watching you through the glass
You don't notice me 
I pretend not to care
But the truth is it hurts me
More than I can say

We used to be inseparable
But now we're worlds away
And I don't know how
To reach you again
And you're doing just fine 
Without me

So here I am alone
Just about given up
The glass is so thick
And I can't shatter it
But even if I could
Would it matter to you?

Don't know...
I can't
Keep waiting
It hurts
To see you
When we don't say a word
But know
I miss you...

So this is me saying goodbye
I will no longer hope
That one day 
We'll be close again
But just know
You matter to me

And if you ever need me
I'll be right here
I love you
Even though you don't know
Maybe this is my fault
But if you ever reach out
I'm here

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The White Wolf

December 1934, Northwestern Montana

A long howl rose above the wind, not far away from the cabin, followed by another. Wendell McCrae got up from the table and shrugged into his coat. He knew what the sound meant. That huge Alaskan wolf was back, the wolf known as the White, who had killed numerous sheep and attacked two ranchers. No one had been able to take a shot at him yet.

Lighting a lantern and grabbing his Winchester, he went out into the snow. Stars filled the vast sky, and his breath frosted in the air.

He stumbled clumsily up the slope in his snowshoes, moving as fast as he could. The bleating of sheep filled the air. Scrambling the last few feet over the deep snow, he swung the lantern's light across the sheep pen.

The ewes milled at the far fence, trembling. In the middle of the pen, crouching over the body of a dead sheep, was a huge wolf, twice the size of an average timber wolf. His ribs showed sharply through his white fur. And the snow beneath him was stained with the blood of Wendell's sheep.

It was the White. The animal lifted his head, and the skin of his nose and mouth wrinkled back in a soundless, menacing snarl. He did not run from the light.

Wendell swallowed hard. This wolf was no ordinary wolf. He set the lantern down carefully and straightened up, but a sudden gust of wind snuffed out the flame. He gasped and groped for the lantern. But as his hand bumped it, he felt it topple and it rolled beyond his reach. There was no use searching for it in the dark. He clutched his rifle tighter, and felt along the fence, following it the short distance to the sheep shed door.

No sound came from the White.

Wendell fumbled for the latch and swung the door open. It creaked loudly, shattering the stillness. A low growl answered. Slipping inside the shed, Wendell reached for the lantern he kept on the wall. Outside, the sheep emitted fearful bleats.

Wendell grabbed the matches from his pocket and tore one off. His hands shook as he lit the lantern and turned up the wick. That wolf was out there threatening his sheep, waiting.... He strode to the other shed door, which led into the pen. Slamming open the door, he thrust himself out as a ring of light sprang from behind him. It lit up the White's eyes as he slowly rose to face Wendell.

Wendell aimed the rifle, his finger on the trigger, but then he stopped.

 Something was around the White's neck. The lantern light gleamed on what looked like a rope tightly twisted around the shaggy throat. And he heard, for the first time, the wolf's hoarse, raspy breathing as he stared intently at Wendell.

Wendell studied the White, ready to pull the trigger, but hesitating. Had this wolf, this wild, vicious thing, ever been tame? Could that explain his lack of fear? And did he prey upon the sheep ranches because he was unable to hunt?

The White returned his look. Then he lowered himself to the snow beside the dead sheep, keeping his eyes on Wendell. He was quite thin. Licking the carcass, the wolf began struggling to eat, the constriction of the rope around his throat making it extremely hard for him to swallow.

With a sigh, Wendell lowered the rifle butt to the snow. He realized now that he didn't want to kill this big wolf after all. It would truly be a shame. He was such a magnificent creature, and Wendell's compassion had been stirred at the sight of the wolf's suffering. Was there a chance that the White would let him remove the rope? He wasn't sure if that was even a possibility, but he was determined to try.

Squatting down but keeping his rifle close, he rubbed his hands together to warm them. The wolf had risen again, his gleaming eyes following Wendell's every move.

The sheep were quiet now, except for an occasion baa.

Softly, Wendell began to talk to the white wolf. “That be a tight collar you got there, me lad. Not the sort 'o thing for a wild one like you to be wearing, now. If you'd let me, I could take it off for you. And then you could breathe again. You could eat all you wanted then, for sure. Aye, to your heart's content, laddie.” 

He continued talking gently, saying whatever came to mind, but hoping that if the wolf had ever been tame, the sound of Wendell's voice would reassure him.

Ears forward, the White seemed to be listening. Deep growls rumbled low in his throat, and he stood braced tensely, but made no move to attack.

Still murmuring quiet words, Wendell picked up his rifle and walked carefully toward the wolf, who kept growling as he watched. A few yards away, Wendell stopped, squatting down again. This time he stretched out his hand toward the White. Warily, the animal crouched away.

“I'm not going to harm you, me lad,” Wendell spoke soothingly to him. “Come, now.”

Then, cautiously, never ceasing his growling, the wolf took a step forward. He twisted his head to the side and flashed his fangs, and Wendell prayed he would not attack. He waited, his heart pounding. He had never been this close to a wolf before. “Good lad, that's right,” he praised.

Another hesitant step, then another and another. Wendell encouraged softly, and finally, the wolf stood with his nose only inches from Wendell's hand. He seemed to sense that Wendell was not a threat to him, but the deep rumbling in his throat never stopped. He looked almost ready to run, and Wendell didn't try to touch him. He just talked.

The wolf's nostrils trembled. He stretched out his nose and touched Wendell's hand, a cold, moist touch. But he did not flinch, or threaten to attack. He merely sniffed, and his growling died away.

Very slowly, Wendell laid his hand on the furry head. It did not move. He began to gently stroke it. The White quivered all over, and peering up at him, whined. “That's the lad,” Wendell said. “In a wee bit we'll have this collar off.”

Still stroking the thick fur with one hand, he pulled out his knife with the other and gingerly slid it between neck and rope. The white wolf stood perfectly still as Wendell slit the tight fibers. The rope fell to the snow, and the White lowered his head to sniff at it.

“There now, lad. That's gone!” Wendell grinned. “You're not so bad, are you? You just needed someone to help, that's all. Someone to set you free.”

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Swamplands of Haol

The only known passage through this region was a narrow, muddy road. Few travelers ever dared set foot upon it. For these were the dreaded swamplands of southern Haol, thought of, by all, with a shudder.

On each side of the road the deadly, sucking quicksand and black water of the marshes, dark with the overhang of vines and the branches of twisted trees, lay deep and murky, a place where the hidden secrets of old treasure were lost and sunken, never to be revealed. Perhaps deep down in the pits of stagnant water lay the bones of a betrayed bandit leader, or the rusted bands of a wooden chest that had long rotted away. Perhaps a heap or two of golden coins lay sunken near the swords and the bones of those who had fought, vainly, over it.

This was a place where the wind moaned low and deep over the murk and twisted itself through the vines woven overhead, and stirred the creeping moss that trailed the watery mud. It howled hollowly through the limbs of dead and decaying giant trees, as if sobbing over their ruin.

The depths had a stench that wrapped around the wild tangles of vines and branches like a cloak. It rose from the deadly, black water like a mist that could almost be seen hanging in the air.

Even in the summer the swamplands were a place where the sun had been banished, if it had ever existed there. The vines and hanging moss were vague eerie shapes through the strange mist and the thick, grayish shadow cast by the tangled branches above. The trees loomed like crumbling castles lost in a world where nothing lived but the snakes who twisted their way over the faint, uncertain paths that rumor said were in there, somewhere.

Many had been lured by some mysterious draw to the marshes, but they had been swallowed by its depths before they ever reached the interior. Some believed that one day a way would be found into the depth of the marshes, a safe path, to discover the secrets this place held, but no way had ever been found. No one who ventured into that grim, haunting place had ever returned alive.

Some said the people of old still lived, hidden from the rest of the world, in their own villages somewhere in the middle of the swamp. Rumors abounded of the shadowy, bent figures that had supposedly been seen sneaking out of the swamplands whenever there was barely light enough to see by the moon. Many believed that these were the ancients of olden times who lived on stolen grain and meat. The villages of those near the swamplands were repeatedly raided in mysterious ways.

Indeed, during some dark night when lightning crossed the sky, and the tearing roar of thunder drowned out every sound, from the mist of the swamp the indistinct figures would sometimes be seen creeping.

So, I think I wrote this a couple years ago. It has, I admit, a tendency toward drama, repeating itself, and, it appears, an overuse of commas... ;p 

But it's still one of my favorite things I've written. :D