The Beginning (Fiction)

10-3 trees

Evelyn pushed herself up onto her elbows and looked from left to right. Nothing. She spotted an old wooden sign in the distance, erected in another era, no doubt. Squinting against the harsh sunlight, she dragged herself in that direction. For some reason, her legs wouldn’t move and the dead weight made progress slow. She didn’t know how long it took, but the sun had dropped to about three finger widths from the horizon by the time she approached reading distance.

Unbelievable.

Nothing.

The sign had no writing. No clues. Just two arrows pointing in opposite directions. Absolutely nothing to reveal where she’d landed after dropping through the portal. Surrounded by lush greenery, she knew she wasn’t in Phoenix anymore. In exhaustion, her arms gave out and she crumpled to the ground.

“Eve?”

She turned her head toward the nude man running toward her and then averted her gaze.

“His promise is true!”

She surveyed her own body. Her Fila T-shirt and Adidas yoga pants were gone. Absent socks and New Balance running shoes revealed her poorly-manicured toenails. Never before had she wished for a bra, but in her nakedness, she would’ve been grateful for one. “Let me guess… Adam?”

He smiled. “Of course, my love.”

She scanned the horizon. “Okay, so it’s day six. Where are the trees? Flowers? Forbidden fruit? I wonder if it really tasted that good.”

He looked confused. “Come, there’s much to see in the garden.” He extended his arm.

Evelyn hesitated before grasping his hand. His biceps flexed as he pulled her weight. She smiled- maybe kicking around the garden with him wouldn’t be so bad. Her legs were wobbly at first, but the muscles managed to hold her. She instinctively crossed her arms over her front.

He glanced at her, puzzled. “What are you doing?”

“We didn’t fall yet. Um, never mind. Let’s go chill in the garden.”

“Chill?”

“Oh. Partake in the garden’s majesty?”

Adam smiled. “I know the perfect place.” He took her hand, leading her up the slight hill.

Evelyn looked at the ground and marveled at how the clover felt spongy under her feet, like a sea of little green pillows. She’d never walked barefoot outside before, heeding warnings of the dangers of stinging ants, broken glass and “filth” littering the ground.

“What’s on your mind?”

She paused. She couldn’t possibly tell the truth; that she lived in the future and landed here quite by accident. No way could she explain that she’d gone through a portal to escape Pinky, the man who’d held her captive for two years. She shivered at the thought of Pinky. His name didn’t sound like it, but he had a reputation as the most ruthless pimp roaming the streets of Phoenix. Legend held that he’d snapped the pinky right off a rival; it dangled from a chain around his neck.

They crested the hill and she gasped. “It’s beautiful!” The sun sat on the horizon, minutes away from turning the sky over to the stars. Stars. She hadn’t seen those since childhood camping trips.

“Do you want to help name some animals?”

Evelyn smiled. “Sure.”

They bounded down the hill, bursting through the thick foliage. Momentum slowed and the tallest tree she’d ever seen stood in front of them.

“We mustn’t eat from that tree,” Adam said, pointing.

Her skin prickled. She knew the story; they’d entered the serpent’s favorite haunt, and it was only a matter of time.

“I’m going to get some huckleberries,” Adam said. “Huckleberries… isn’t that a fun word to say?”

“Almost as fun as hippopotamus.” Her gaze darted from trees to brush. “I’ll wait here.”

His footfalls disappeared. The bird song wafting through the dusk air put her at ease, so she decided to rest. She leaned against the tree and closed her eyes, oblivious to the rustling behind her until the undulating movement crossed over her legs.

Pinky!

“Do you know why you mustn’t eat from that tree?”

She knew the serpent spoke, but still, seeing it was weird. “Because you’re evil!” She wrapped both hands around the serpent and squeezed. “You ruin the world! You invade our hearts! You. Need. To. Die!” She tightened her grip with each word.

“Eve, no!” Adam sprinted toward her.

“We mustn’t kill the animals!”

Evelyn relaxed her fingers and the serpent slithered out of reach before pausing to glare at her. She knew he’d be back.

She’d be ready.

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Suzanne at Apoplectic Apostrophes has a new writing challenge site, so even though I’d sworn off the distraction of writing challenges a  few months ago, I couldn’t resist joining in her inaugural challenge.  She’s always been supportive of my writing and I’m thrilled to participate in her new venture 🙂

The challenge: Write a piece in 750 words or less (mine is 739) and (1) reference the photo prompt published on her site, and (2) include the word “haunt” – used as a noun, not a verb.

It’s October and I’d vowed to write creepy this month. And with a prompt word like ‘haunt’ you’d, think I could do that, right?  Apparently not! I saw this challenge late last night and this is the story that wouldn’t get out of my head- a goofy, humorous, time-travel-gone-wrong story.

I’d better scare up some creepy soon, or October is going to laugh me all the way to December. Thanks for reading – oh, and if you want to join in, or check out other responses, click the badge below!

The Truth About Evil

When bad things happen, parents become filters.  Blotting out some of the details is our way of protecting our children.  Complete insulation isn’t possible, so my kids are aware of Friday’s tragedy.

What’s interesting is how children process this information.  My older son quickly asked, “Is the shooter dead?”  I responded that he was.  After the news report, I asked my son if it scared him, if he worried it could happen here.  He said, “no, not if the bad guy is dead.”

His innocence touches me.  I know life will eventually chip it away, but I don’t want to hasten the wear.  This is why I didn’t tell him that evil is not a single person.  He doesn’t need to know that the death of one cruel person doesn’t ensure safety for all.  He will know soon enough that life is a constant battle of good versus evil and that sometimes it feels like evil will prevail.

When it seems like good is down, waiting for the count, I need to replenish my hope that good will rise again.

Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  (Romans 12:9)

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)

The truth about evil is that it is all around us.  It threatens to crush our spirit and taunts us to judge and retaliate.  Evil might win some battles, but good has God behind it.  I have to hope that one day, good will triumph and darkness will be replaced by His glorious light.

Have a beautiful Sunday!  May we all find light in our days of darkness.
Have a beautiful Sunday! May we all find some light in our days of darkness.

Color Me Hopeful

I am a firm believer that my attitude is the crayon that colors the blank white paper of my life.  It’s no coincidence that on my cranky days, I see “idiot” drivers, rude people and inconsiderate actions everywhere I look.  On these days, my life is three shades of gray, accented by swirls of darkness and anger.

I seriously doubt that the world saves their worst behavior for my cranky days.  It would be egocentric of me to assume the world cares enough about what I think to go to such trouble.  No, I think less-than-flattering human behavior is always there and the severity doesn’t vary greatly from day to day.  The difference is me.  When I have my “Mauvelous” crayon in hand, I also see “Carnation Pink,” Cornflower,” “Mango Tango,” and “Vivid Violet.”  Gray still exists but is not focus of my attention.

Attitude can be a struggle for me.  Sometimes being positive isn’t as easy as plucking a brightly colored waxy stick from a cardboard box.  Seeing the good in a world full of evil, or hope in a time of desperation takes conscious effort.  Sometimes things happen that sour my attitude and force my life into gray dullness.  Those things make me doubt the presence of goodness in man and drain hope from my heart.  Luckily when I’m at these low points, I often see something that will allow hope back into my heart.

Let me explain.

Last week, I wrote about my heartache about the famine in Africa.  My sadness turned to disgust this week after I read another news story about famine aid being stolen and sold on the black market.  Children (and adults) are suffering on a long, miserable road of sickness, weakness, and finally death and these “businessmen” are out to turn a tidy profit for themselves.  Have they not seen pictures of the emaciated children?  Are their bodies devoid of souls?

My belief in human decency and hope in humanity were on empty when I read another article, which restored some hope.  A man in Albuquerque, NM witnessed a kidnapping and followed the van in his own vehicle.  Eventually, the van crashed and the driver ran away, but the child was safe.

Did the man who followed the van save the child?  Probably.  His presence may have rattled the driver enough that he crashed.  I don’t know what the kidnapper planned to do with the child, but I’m fairly certain he didn’t intend to take her out for ice cream and bring her back home unharmed.

The man who followed the kidnapper restored some of my faith in humanity.  Despite the danger of tailing the kidnapper, he did it anyway.  In this one act, he proved that selflessness and caring may be on the endangered list, but there is still hope for survival.  His actions cut through the bleakness of a selfish world, stirring in me a deeper appreciation for goodness.

I see that gray has a place and a purpose in my life.  If nothing else, it makes me celebrate the vibrancy of the other colors even more.  If the world didn’t have evil, I would take the good for granted and not give it the thankfulness it deserves.  Yes, there is beauty in the gray, because if I look close enough, I see hope shining through.

Did anything disappoint you this week?  What made you appreciate the glimpses of goodness in the world?  Your thoughts/comments are always welcome!