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That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

Archive for the ‘Story Blogging’ Category

Story Blogging Update

Posted by Adam Graham on April 30, 2009

Sorry for the delays, web host has been crazy. Part Three of StrandedTales of the Dim Knight, and Unknown Mission are up.

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Story Blogging Updates

Posted by Adam Graham on April 14, 2009

Part Two of Stranded, Unknown Mission, and Origin of the Dim Knight have been posted.

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Fiction Friday: Why Superman Hates His Job

Posted by Adam Graham on June 29, 2007

This is my first time in Fiction Friday which I found courtesy of Lyn. Hope this is what they had in mind.

This Week’s Theme: Pick a mythical person or creature (e.g., Santa, Thor, Easter Bunny), and explain through dialogue, essay, or anything else, why they are unhappy with their job or position in life.


You think Batman has problems, well you have’t seen the half of it. Superman, Inc. is about to go out of the Super Hero business. Why? Three words: $300 suits.He goes through those things like candy. This looks like a job for Superman *rip.* The few times he manages to leave his clothes in a safe place, some homeless person comes and steals them. Sure, Superman could hunt them down, but eve though it’s he himself is the victim, hunting down a homeless man in his work suit is below his standards, so he goes and buys another one.Clark Kent spent $25,000 on suits of clothes alone last year and due to the secret identity thing, he can’t even write off the suits as a business expense. He’s facing big time credit card debt and the credit counseler looked him in the eye and said, “No suits for you.”

Clark has figured out that the only way he can stay in the Superman business is to go into a field like construction or being a lifeguard with clothes that don’t cost so much. However, to do that he’d have to abandon years working at the Smallville Gazette, the Midtown Monitor, and the Daily Planet to lift boards all day. Plus, the construction industry doesn’t offer the flexibility of being able to dash off without anyone knowing you’re gone.

In addition to this, like most reporters, Clark wants to write a novel. Clark’s annoyed by the fact that Superman gets more accolades than he. “Nobody ever releases a ‘Clark Kent, Copy Editor.’ comic book” he told me. He’d like to focus more on his writing, maybe get more done on his blog. “I’ve got one post (if you count “Welcome to Blogger” as a post.)” He then dashed off suddenly and the last thing I heard him say was, “Oh great,  now I won’t be able to get my Fiction Friday done.” 

get the Fiction Friday code about Fiction Friday
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Your Average Ordinary Alien Podcast

Posted by Adam Graham on May 13, 2007

A sci-fi fan’s dream of alien abduction turns to disllusionment as his extra-terrestial visitor turns out to be all too ordinary.

Click here to download.


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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Posted by Andrea Graham on April 19, 2007

by Andrea Graham © 2005

Annie and her little sister, Chrissie, sat on the floor as they watched Macys’ Thanksgiving Day Parade because the couch was piled high with boxes of dusty old magazines and lawn decorations. Annie only liked the last part of the parade where Santa Claus appeared, but watched the rest anyway because there was nothing else to do. Without cable, the little black-and-white TV only picked up one station.

Their mother roused the two girls before dawn that day. They slept in the car on the way, then in the bed where their mother now folded laundry as she grumbled under her breath.

Grampa sat at his workbench, a blank stare frozen on his face. His tools laid unused, as they had for months. The smelly old lady lay in the other bed. Off and on, the bed shook and squeaked, followed by some moans and groans. Annie’s father would then say, “Speak up, Mom, I can’t understand you.”

Despite his angry tone, her daddy never left the bedside. That funny look on his face had been etched there for months now

Annie could remember a time long ago when the old lady didn’t just lie in bed, but that was her real grandmother: the sweet, kind Grandma who took care of her, baked yummy goodies, and gave her candy and presents. But Grandma was gone, replaced by the smelly old lady. She knew intellectually the woman in that bed was her grandmother, but she seemed like a stranger. It’d been so long, poor Chrissie could barely remember their real Grandma.

Seeing a clear place on the bed her mother was working on, Annie got up and planted herself in it. She leaned in to hear the old lady’s weak voice. “Joe, as soon as I get better, I’m going to make you and the girls a pineapple upside-down cake.”

Annie turned to her mother. “Mom, what’s a-”

Her mother cut her off. “Go watch TV, Annie. I’ll tell you later.”

Annie got up and settled back down next to Chrissie, folding her arms in a pout.
Three days later, after dinner, Annie played in her room with Chrissie and their dolls. Off and on, muffled voices in the living room came up through the furnace vent. Chrissie looked troubled. Maybe she had a bad day at school.

After several minutes, one voice grew louder. “Joe, I am sick and tired of this! The next time your father asks for help cleaning his house, YOU do it! I’m not doing it any more. I work, too…” She lowered her voice after that. In a moment, the other voice responded, but Annie had gone back to concentrating on playing with the dolls.

Again, shouting interrupted them. “Oh, just go to bed, Joe. That’s what you always do.” This was followed by a muffled roar and pounding feet. A moment later, the door to her parent’s bedroom whipped open and slammed shut again.

With a funny look on her face, Chrissie turned back to the green doll in her hand. He had been arguing with Mrs. Gardener just a moment before, and now Chrissie took his right hand and began to beat the poor rabbit.

Annie picked up her red doll and had him casually stroll by and glance in the pretend house. She then flew the doll in, and pulled the green doll away from Mrs. Gardener, who lay motionless on the floor.

In the red doll’s voice, she said, “No, Patty, no. Don’t do it, don’t do this.” Her sister let go of the green doll and burst into tears.

A few months later, Annie’s mother put the little girls into black dresses and took them to a funny parlor. They visited old friends and family members, many people introduced as “cousin so-and-so” that she didn’t know and didn’t care to know. They also had to look at a funny-smelling old lady asleep in a brown box. She resembled neither Annie’s real grandma nor the sick one.

At least this time her mom remembered to bring a bag of their favorite storybooks and two sets of crayons and coloring books. Her sister wanted to take some of their dolls with them, but their mother refused because the last time she let them bring their dolls, they left one behind. This time, their mom only let them take quiet things. Otherwise, their Dad would spend the whole time yelling at them.

Annie’s parents took her, Chrissie, and Grampa to look at the old lady. Why was everyone so sad? It’s not like she’d done anything besides lay in bed, whimper, groan, shake, and drool.

Her father said, “Mom looks good. Don’t you think so, Dad?”

The old man began sobbing. Her father hugged him, tears streaking down his cheeks, too. Even her mother had tears in her eyes.

Annie stared at her father and grandfather.

Chrissie started sniffling. “Gramma?”

Annie pinched her sister. “Now don’t you go starting that, Chrissie.”

Chrissie sniffled again, but stopped up her tears.
The following evening, some ladies from the church brought over boxes of food and goodies. Excited, the girls rushed to look through all the boxes. Annie discovered a funny-looking golden cake. Instead of frosting, it had a honey glaze and six large pineapple rings. Gasping, she lifted the cake over her head. “Momma! Daddy! Look! Isn’t this a pineapple upside-down cake? Isn’t it? Isn’t it?”

Her mother took it from her just as her father entered the kitchen. She tried to hide it, but it was too late. He took one glance at that cake, turned ashen, and then took off down the hall. A moment later, his bedroom door slammed shut.

Shrugging, Annie gazed up at her mother. “Can I have a piece?”

Her mother frowned. “Go to your room, Annie!”

Annie pouted. “Why? What’d I say? Can’t I have a-”

Her mother pointed. “Go!”

She stomped to her room, slammed the door, and slumped down on her bed.

Chrissie whispered, “We can’t have any?”

“Apparently not.”

“Why, Sissy? Because of Gramma? I thought she was happy in Heaven, and that we’ll see her again someday. The preacher said so.”

She shrugged. “I guess. I don’t know either. I thought cake was for eating.”

Her sister nodded. “So did I.”
And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them and said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
–Matt.18.2,3 KJV

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Story Blog: Understanding

Posted by Adam Graham on April 7, 2006

[Note: Don’t Judge the story until the end.]

Thank God Patrice’s mother was a coward, or they’d be across the street with Mother Gibson’s people trying to stop women from exercising their right to an abortion. The old Black woman’s voice rang throughout the otherwise quiet neighborhood. “Every knee shall bow to the name of-“

“Jesus!” answered the followers.

“Every tongue shall confess the name of-“

“Jesus!”

“The government shall be on the shoulders of-“

“Jesus!”

A late model SUV pulled up.

“Every mountain shall be brought low by the name of-“

“Jesus!”

A young blonde woman in a pair of jeans got out of the SUV

=> Read more!

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Story Blog: Friendship Ring by Andrea Graham

Posted by Andrea Graham on February 3, 2006

The Friendship Ring
By Andrea Graham

A light burned my eyelids. “Adriana Malone, get up! It’s time to go and I’m not leaving without you. You know what our moms and your sister will do if they don’t get to go to church.”

I turned over and hid underneath my pillow. “Abe! Go away, who let you in the house?”

Abe grabbed for the pillow and a tug of war ensued. He won. “Dear, it’s almost ten. Now get up and take a shower, or I will pick you up and put you in the car and you can go to church barefoot and in your PJ’s.”

“You wouldn’t.” He would. Abe never made idle threats, or idle promises, either.

Eliza entered. “Hurry up, Adriana. The big lug refuses to leave you.” At fifteen, patience wasn’t her strong point.

Groaning, I pulled myself out of bed, still groggy.

Abe steered me towards the bathroom. “Come on, we’re late.”

I glared at him. “You are a royal pain, Abraham Desmond.”

“You’ll thank me later.”

I stuck out my tongue, half-expecting a kiss even though Abe put that to a stop back in the seventh grade.

By the time we got to church, I was awake. I should’ve known better than to stay out so late. I needed to stop letting Duke talk me into these things. If Abe knew how late I was out, he’d be furious. Thankfully, I was notorious for being difficult to wake.

While we found seats in the sanctuary, Abe grabbed my left hand. “Where’s your ring?”

He was just noticing? “Eliza stole it out of the bathroom a month ago.”

Hurt flashed through Abe’s clear blue eyes. His mother frowned from the other side of our party. “Abraham, come sit next to me.”

He sent another hurt look at me then trotted to her side.

=> Read more!

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Story Blog: Benoni Part Two, By Adam Graham

Posted by Andrea Graham on January 27, 2006

Continued from: Part One.

I walked over to the nursery and sat outside, exhausted, waiting for news, any news.

Not again, not today. Why did this day always bring with it such misery, such sorrow?

I cried out to God, “Why do you hate me? Why? You’ve taken my brother and now you’re going to take my wife! I hate you!”

I slumped in my chair. How could I live without Juliet’s humor? Her joy? Her love? How could I raise a child on my own? Fear choked me until my eyes closed.

Sometime later, I opened my eyes. A man in a white tunic stood next to me. “Robert.”

“Who are you?” And how did he know my name?

“You know me, or you did before you let grief consume you.”

Hey, he looked like an actor who played Jesus in a movie I’d once seen. “Jesus?”

He nodded. “This is the only way you’d recognize me. I don’t look anything like this. It’s hard to get blonde hair and blue eyes when you’re born in the Middle East. But, I’m not concerned about that.”

“Why are you here?”

“To comfort you.”

“Will she live?”

“That’s not the key to peace.”

“All the peace in this world was blown up with the twin towers and the Pentagon.”

“All of this world’s peace. But, the peace I offer you is not what the world gives you.”

“Why did you let my brother die?”

He sat in the chair beside mine. “That’s a good question. May I ask you one?”

“Okay.” Where was he going with this?

“Why did I let him live?”

What? “I don’t understand.”

“Life is a candle. It’s a blade of grass. It is extinguished and it fades away. Yet, many never even get to live. Large numbers die in the womb through abortion and miscarriage. Some are stillborn and some live less than six months. Your brother could have been amongst those. Instead, he lived. All men are like Jonah. I sent a great gourd to give him shade. Did Jonah declare thanksgiving and gladness at having shade? No, but he knew who to be upset with when it withered away.”

Had I ever thanked God for my brother? No. To me, my brother wasn’t a gift from God, he was my brother. He was always there encouraging me, pushing me on to do more in God. When he was away, he sent me letters and somehow managed to spend half an hour on the phone with me every month. I never thanked God for my brother.

I bit my lip. “I understand what you’re saying, but I need to know why!”

“Would you like the long answer or the short one?”

“I want a complete answer.”

Jesus smiled. “All right. First, you must understand the entire universe and how it functions. Then, the purposes and reasons behind all things under the sun.”

“Perhaps, I should just take the short answer.”

“It was his time to go home.”

“He was only was twenty-five!” I shouted. “He wasn’t ready to go! He hadn’t gotten married or even seen everything he worked for come to pass.”

“He finished his course. He kept the faith. I never promised you anything but the moment you’re living in. As long as you live in this body of flesh, what will happen to it is unpredictable by man.”

My lip quivered. “But, don’t You protect us?”

Jesus nodded. “As much as my Father protected me. He saved Me out of the hands of Herod and out of the hands of My own people when they tried to stone me, but allowed Me to suffer and die on the cross. I saved your brother from some dangerous tribes which would have killed him years ago, but it was his time.”

“What about my wife? Will she live?”

“I’m not here to let you know what’s going to happen, I’m here to give you peace no matter what occurs. I didn’t promise that your bodies would live forever, in fact the opposite is true. It’s still appointed to man once to die, and then the judgment. What I promise is that whatever happens tonight, you can see both your wife and your brother again in Heaven. There is no such thing as an eternal parting to those in Christ.”

“Heaven’s great, but how does a single father with a full-time job raise a child on his own? I’m not built for that. I can’t do it alone.”

Jesus took his hand. “If it comes to that, I’ll be with you. No matter who leaves you, I never will. In addition, your wife’s church will help. They love her and would help take care of her child. Whether you know it or not, they love you, too. They haven’t been judging you these past two years as you’ve accused them. They’ve been praying for you, because they want you to get back your joy and peace.”

“They’d help me?”

“Of course, that’s why churches are there, to love one another. There are many burdens that can’t be carried alone, so the church lifts up the burdens of those who need help. Whatever else a church may do, if it doesn’t do that, it’s not a true church.”

“Do you hate me? I’ve spent the last two years cursing you.”

“I love you. I’ve never stopped loving you. But, up until now, you haven’t been ready to listen. I never gave up on you and nothing would make me more happy than to be with you forever.”

His eyes were filled with such a pure love that I was overwhelmed. I reached out to hug Him. “I’m so sorry, Jesus.”

He disappeared, leaving me alone in the waiting room. I wept as I got up from my chair and called a member of the church’s prayer chain. I told her what had happened to my wife and she prayed with me. Several ladies joined me at the hospital within an hour.

I prayed hard to God for not only my wife, but for forgiveness. That last part came easy, the first part kept me in suspense until at 7:45 a.m. the doctor came out. “It was touch and go for a while, but she’s pulled through.”

We all rejoiced. I said, “Can I see her?”

The doctor shook his head. “Not yet, she needs rest before she’ll be ready for visitors.”

I drove home to catch some Z’s and slept until noon. I got up and went and bought rolls of film and picture frames and drove down to the hospital, albeit a little more carefully than last time.

When I arrived, Juliet was sitting up. I hugged her and began to cry. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

They brought the baby in, who in the midst of all of this concern over Juliet had been forgotten. Fourteen hours after he was born, I took my new son in my arms.

“What should we name him?” Juliet asked. “Are you still insisting on Robert Junior?”

“No, I’m thinking Benjamin, actually.”

“Why Benjamin?”

“One of my brother’s favorite Bible stories was of the birth of Benjamin. Benjamin’s birth killed his mother and she named him Benoni, which means son of my misfortune. His father, Jacob, changed the name to Benjamin, “the Son of my right hand” recognizing that despite all the pain his birth caused, he was still a wonderful blessing from God.”

Juliet nodded. “Then Benjamin it will be.”

I spent the next hour holding my son and taking pictures of him and his mother until I filled up all the albums and frames I bought.

I’ve gone back to Church and started praying and reading the Bible again. Every day, I thank the Lord for two special gifts, my wife and my son.

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Story Blog: Benoni Part One, By Adam Graham

Posted by Andrea Graham on January 13, 2006

I stood ready with my camera at the airport. “I wonder what he’ll be wearing?”

“Probably a shirt and a pair of pants,” my wife answered wryly.

Juliet wasn’t a morning person, and getting her down to the airport at six o’clock was a small miracle in itself. She liked my brother well enough but found my enthusiasm at seeing him after five years a little annoying at this hour.

“We’ve got so much to catch up on.” I said as I gushed over my brother’s return, talking a mile a minute and repeating things she already knew.

He was returning from the mission field after several years. It was a miracle that the church could convince him to take his vacation time.

“Honey, do I have enough rolls of film?” I asked.

“You only bought a dozen.”

My mind went back to the time I said goodbye to him when he flew off to Kenya. I worried about him often, and from what he told me, he’d had some close calls. He had worked so hard and dedicated himself to those he went to, that he even had to miss my wedding due to a serious outbreak of malaria.

I went on and on talking to my wife about my brother while we waited. We thought nothing of it when we heard a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. It sounded like what’d happened at the White House a few years earlier. It was only when the second plane hit that we realized what was going on.

We were under attack. I didn’t see the towers fall. The airport was evacuated before that happened, but I heard about it in traffic as I listened to the radio. I felt the way everyone else did. The grief, the sorrow, the anger at this cowardly attack. Who did this? Why did they do this?

When I got home, I sat on the couch, weeping. My wife cried too. Even though it hurt, we had to see what was happening. There was a thought at the back of my mind that I didn’t want to consider. I wouldn’t consider it.

Around three o’clock, the phone rang.

It was someone from the airline. My face dropped when she said she was from the police.

The poor lady tried her best to be sympathetic as she explained that my brother had been on the second plane that hit the World Trade Center. I maintained my composure while I was talking to her. I got up from my chair and walked up to the attic where I kept my mementos. My wife followed me.

“Honey, what are you doing?” Juliet asked.

I pulled a box down from a shelf and began to go through it.

“This is the football we played with in the backyard,” I said, pulling out the football. “He was a heck of quarterback, you know. In one pick-up game, he threw about sixty yards and hit the receiver.”

“What’s the matter?” she asked.

“And here’s a picture of us at his graduation from Bible School,” I said. “I gave him the nicest Bible I could find, and he promised to carry it always. It was probably on the plane with him.”

“Was he-?” she began.

“And here’s the picture of us before he left,” I said, barely containing myself. “He said, ‘See you around, bro,’.”

Oh God! I burst into tears. “Why?!”

My wife comforted me on that Autumn Afternoon in 2001, but the question would haunt me for years to come.

###

Life went on, as it had to do. I took a long bereavement leave but was back to work in early-October. I was mad at God and stopped going to church. During the same time, my own life was feeling less and less meaningful.

On September 11, 2002, I called in sick to work. I stayed home, watched old home movies of my brother, and cried all over again.

My sorrow was headed for full-blown depression until February, 2003 when my wife got sick. A home pregnancy test revealed why.

The result sent me to an emotional high that I hadn’t seen in years. I spent my evenings comforting my wife and my weekends remodeling the guest room into a nursery.

On Thursday night, September 10, 2003, my wife shook me. “It’s time.”

I jumped from the bed, grabbed my car keys, her suitcase and led her out to the car. I drove like a maniac to get to the hospital. The doctors got her in right away.

A few minutes later, the doctor took me aside to talk. He grimaced. “The baby’s in an awkward position and we’re going to have to do a C-section.”

I sat in the delivery room and held her hand. After what seemed like an eternity, they lifted my son out of the womb and whisked him away for examination. The doctor wanted to do some post-operative tests on my wife while I called the relatives.

I was at this task for about forty minutes when the doctor came over. “We have some bad news.”

I felt a lump in my throat. “What’s wrong with him?”

“Nothing, its your wife. We found a blood clot on her lung and we have to operate quickly if we’re going to save her life.”

Oh no, not again. “What are her chances?”

“We’ll do our best,” said the doctor, who then walked away.

I looked up at the clock. 1:01 a.m., September 11, 2003.

To Be Continued….

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Story Blog: Forgotten, Part Seven

Posted by Andrea Graham on January 6, 2006

In the Beginning… Continued from: Part Six

Three months later, Rachel shook Josiah awake. “Wake up, Josiah.”

He yawned, feeling groggy. “Is it morning already? It feels like night to my bones.”

“That’s because it is. The sun set only a few hours ago, but quickly now, we must hurry. Nicodemus is waiting for us.”

Josiah sat up. “What?”

She tugged on his arm. “Come on! I don’t know, he said to get what we needed and come quickly out the back entrance. That’s all. I knew something was wrong and now Nicodemus is here pulling us out of the house in the middle of the night. Hurry!”

Josiah grabbed his guiding stick and allowed Rachel to lead him outside. Nicodemus helped him into a cart. Rachel settled next to him and the cart started moving. Josiah asked, “What’s going on?”

“Your uncle was found dead outside the temple,” Nicodemus said curtly.

=> Read more!

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Story Blog: Forgotten, Part Six

Posted by Andrea Graham on December 30, 2005

Continued From: Part Five

After Josiah’s cousins brought out the dessert, Hosea said, “Pardon our interruption, but my brother and I cannot remain silent another moment. Though we love our father, we cannot understand why men of your stature would accept the invitation of a man foolish enough to offer asylum not only to an adulteress, but now a blind beggar.”

An uneasy silence fell in the room.

“Excuse me,” Rachel squeaked. Her chair moved and her footsteps flew from the room.

Josiah leaped up to run after her. “Rachel! Wait!”

Halfway down the hall outside the banquet room, he realized his folly. Not only did he have no idea which direction to go, without his stick he had no clue what obstacles lay before him. He lifted his hands to Heaven. “Lord, please help me, I need you.”

Peace surrounded him. He groped his way down the hall. “Rachel? Please, answer me.”

After a few minutes of deafening silence, he shouted, “Rachel! Please, I need you. I’m lost, Rachel. Please, help me.”

A feminine hand touched his shoulder. “You had to come after me, didn’t you? See now where you’ve gotten us both. Come, I’ll take you to your quarters.”

Back in his quarters, he claimed his guiding stick. As Rachel’s footsteps retreated, he called after her, “I would have defended you. I would never believe what they said.”

=> Read more!

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Story Blog: Forgotten, Part Five

Posted by Andrea Graham on December 16, 2005

Continued from: Part Four

A knock on the door interrupted Josiah’s prayers. His uncle asked, “May Rachel and I join you a moment, Josiah?”

Josiah answered reluctantly, “Yes, what do you want?”

Rachel sat next to him on the couch-bed and took his hand.

He brushed it away. “Thank you, but please don’t.”

“How was your day, Josiah?” his uncle asked. “I trust Rachel kept you entertained.”

“Rachel is obstinate, opinionated, and does not understand the meaning of the phrase, ‘go away.’ She is everything a woman should not be, but for some odd reason, I find myself liking her anyway.” He chose a word for “liking” which would have better described his affection for his sheep.

“That’s my girl! Josiah, I have a feeling Rachel is everything you need right now.”

She cleared her throat. “Josiah, Benjamin has a bad habit of inviting his superiors to banquets without warning me first, though, they generally decline.”

“Yes, and imagine my surprise when two of the elders took me aside and accepted! Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus will be joining us for dinner tomorrow night. They specifically requested your presence at the banquet, Josiah.”

“They what?” Why would two Pharisees sitting on the highest court of the land request the presence of a blind man at a banquet?

=> Read more!

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Story Blog: Forgotten, Part Four

Posted by Andrea Graham on December 9, 2005

Continued from: Part Three

Josiah awoke some time later, as lost and confused as awaking to darkness always left him. Without the girl-voice to startle him and send his world spinning, he groped for his guiding stick and found it easily. He sighed with relief then launched into his prayers.

Perhaps an hour or so later, the smells in the room shifted and his instincts tensed his muscles and pricked his ears for any sound, revealing a faint shuffling noise, then a bang like someone stumbling into something, followed by a thud and a whispered oath.

He sat rigid a moment then reached for his guiding stick. Brushing it back and forth in front of him, he inched across the room, then stopped as the stick struck something. He swung the stick at it harder to brush the object out of his way.

It yelped. “Hey!”

His heartbeat sped up to his annoyance. “What? Who’s there?”

A disoriented girl-voice said, “Josiah? Wow, I’m really lost then!”

He relaxed. “Oh, it’s you. Get out.”

“Well, excuse me! What was that I stumbled over, anyway?” The girl-voice paused. “Hey! That’s a fine place to put your breakfast! What else have you thrown about?”

He leaned on the guiding stick. “I don’t remember now, a bunch of stuff.”

“Well! That wasn’t so smart! How do you expect not to trip over anything? At least I’ve learned one thing from this: Don’t move anything out of it’s place. Josiah will trip over it.” She laughed. “Of course, you have your stick. I never thought of that.”

He settled onto the floor, astounded. “You silly little lamb! What have you done?”

“I wanted to better understand what you’re going through. I didn’t mean for anyone to see me doing this or to stumble into your room and scare you. The others are all out.” She added shyly, “I’m sorry about earlier. I took some low blows.”

He sat stunned, trying to comprehend what she had done. “You’ve blindfolded yourself?”

“Uh-huh.”

“I suppose I haven’t been gracious, but you ought to respect my decision to fast and I don’t need a baby-sitter. I can take care of myself. I always have.”

“And how long have you been blind?”

He lowered his head, but then it dawned on him with her blindfold, she couldn’t see him, either. Embarrassed and not knowing what to do with himself, he sat up straighter. “A month, two at most. We’re not sure how much time went by before my brothers found me.”

A brief touch on his knee startled him. The silly lamb must’ve been looking for his hand, but he pretended not to notice.

“Now I understand,” the girl-voice said. “In your heart, you’re still a shepherd.”

“I am a shepherd. I have no intention of accepting this.”

“The sooner you do, the sooner you will heal.” The girl paused. “How old are you?”

“I’ll be twenty in the spring, why do you ask?”

“Just curious, is all.” The girl paused. “You’re hardly older than me, then. When did you start shepherding?”

“I first went out at seven with my father and my brother Simeon. My mother’s fear then was only dwarfed by her fear when my father let me go alone with my own flock at thirteen.”

“Oh.”

The personal questions annoyed him, so he asked, “Why haven’t you been betrothed? My sister Sharon is 13 and Father is already receiving offers for her.”

A long silence followed. The girl-voice said, too quickly, “I am the youngest of seven daughters. My father didn’t have a dowry for me, so he sent me to tend Benjamin’s house when Abigail died.”

He felt guilty—her questions hardly merited his. “I think we must have met once or twice as children at the Passover feast here in the City, but I hardly remember.”

Fingers snapped. “Of course! You were the cousin with the green eyes! I was so curious because I’d never seen that eye color before. Everyone teased me about it for days.”

Pain flooded him at this bitter reminder. From her embarrassed gasp, it donned on her too late the green eyes she remembered were gone. She asked softly, “Will you ever let me see it?”

“No.” He got up and managed to find his way back to the couch-bed.
Just when he thought she’d taken the hint, a probing hand on his leg startled him. He grabbed it by reflex. She sat beside him. He dropped the hand. “You can’t take a hint, can you? Take the stupid blindfold off and get out of here.”

“I’ve tried. I can’t get the knot out and it’s too tight to slip off. Can you….”

“I would rather not.”

“Why? Afraid to touch a girl?”

“I have four sisters and several nieces. I’m not afraid to interact with girls when necessary.”

“Then why?”

He swallowed. “I am unclean.”

She laughed. “If you are unclean, so am I. We are both condemned by the elders.”

“What did you—”

“I was born a girl. I really don’t feel like explaining.”

A feminine hand brushed his and took hold of it.

Too startled to yank free, he said, “What…”

The grip on his hand moved down to his wrist. “There is something else I
have learned about blindness. It cuts you off from the world, but I do not want to be cut off from you, I want to be real to you. And I think this will help.”

“What are you….” He gasped as she placed his fingertips on her cheek. He tried to pull his hand away, but she held him fast, surprisingly strong for a girl, and he hesitated to use force.

“It’s okay, Josiah,” she said. “You think you have only your ears to connect you to the world, but that is not true. There is much your hands can tell you that your ears cannot. Don’t allow them to take away your sense of touch as well as sight. You need it now more than ever.”

“This isn’t right,” he whispered even as his disobedient fingers traced her face.

“It is better to do good than to mindlessly obey tradition.”

As his fingers finished painting Rachel’s portrait, he reached behind her head, found the knot in the cloth covering her eyes, and untied it with both hands, doubting her story she couldn’t get it untied.

She sighed with relief. “Thank you.”

Before he could stop her, she removed the cloth from his eyes. He blinked in the darkness, smiling sadly at her. “Are you happy now, Rachel? You see the difference between us, is, you could remove your blindfold and see again just fine, but it doesn’t work that way for me.”

In the distance, his uncle called, “Rachel!”

She laid the cloth in Josiah’s hands and kissed his cheek. “I’m coming!”

After her footsteps had retreated, Josiah put the cloth back on, fighting back tears and the sad revelation he could have loved Rachel in a different world.

Then again, Josiah the Shepherd only had enough love for his sheep.

To Be Continued….

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Story Blog: Forgotten, Part Three

Posted by Andrea Graham on December 2, 2005

Continued From: Part Two

A cheerful female voice announced, “Good morning, sleepy head! Sit up and eat, I have your breakfast.”

He groaned and turned over, pointedly ignoring the voice known as Rachel. Her parents named her well when they named her “lamb.”

Female hands briefly brushed his back as they yanked his covers away.

Startled, he sat up, groping for his guiding stick and blindfold with one hand as he hid his ruined face with the other. Where did he leave them?

“Are you looking for these?” She placed his stick in his lap and the cloth in his hand.

He jerked back. “Don’t touch me.” He turned away from the direction of her voice and tied the cloth back around his eyes, hoping he wasn’t too late. He certainly didn’t want a girl to see what was left of his eyes. From his brothers’ reaction when they found him, he had a idea how gruesome the lion’s parting gift appeared.

The girl snorted. “Now that’s a thank you if I ever heard one. Here, eat.”

She thrust a bowl into his hands. He shoved it away, his stomach protesting as the tempting scent filled his nostrils. “Didn’t anyone tell you? I’m fasting, now go and leave me alone. I told you yesterday—I don’t need your help.”

The girl thrust the bowl against his chest. “Fast, smast. Why do you need to fast? It’s not going to make any difference to anyone what you do or don’t eat. And whether you like it or not, you do too need my help, my stubborn friend.”

“I’m not your friend and I don’t care what the Pharisees or anyone else thinks. I’m not doing this to please men. This is between me and the Lord.”

The bowl ceased to press against his chest. “I see, you are praying and fasting in hope of a miracle.” She paused. “Forty days, right? That’s all the Law allows. Anything longer is suicide.”

Surprised she knew the Law, he agreed reluctantly. “Yes, that is so.” His omission of the fact he intended to do two of them back to back if necessary felt sour on his lips.

“I suppose Uncle is right, then. I’ll make you a deal. Eat a slice of bread twice a day and you can fast for 90 days. Deal?”

“I will not eat my uncle’s bread again. I gave into temptation once, but not again! It is not good for the—”

“For the unclean to eat with the clean, I know! You stubborn fool, won’t you even allow me to bring you meals here? Not even bread and water? Then there will not even be the appearance of evil.”

“No.” He crossed his arms. “I will not. I am fasting to the Lord. He will either heal me or I shall die. I refuse to beg. I will be a shepherd or I will fast and pray.”

“Do you know what, Josiah? Uncle is wrong about you. You are too proud and that has made you unclean. It is because of your pride God has taken your sight, your rod, your staff, your lambs, and your honor. He has stripped you bare and you still refuse to humble yourself! You think you can fool God with prayer and fasting, but you can’t, Josiah. He knows your heart and will not hear you as long as you refuse to be humbled.”

Furious, he pointed in the direction of the door. “You-”

“Don’t bother, I’m going. By the way, the door is the other way.” The girl-voice’s footsteps thundered out of the room.

The silent darkness taunted him. His fingers brushed the bowl. He threw it as hard as he could towards the center of the room, then hurled everything he could get his hands on, screaming at God for allowing him to come to this, until, exhausted, he fell down on the couch-bed and wept.


To Be Continued….

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Story Blog: Forgotten, Part Two

Posted by Andrea Graham on November 25, 2005

Continued from Part One

His uncle left him on the couch-bed in a private bedchamber. He flung himself down and tried to pray, but his tortured thoughts kept swirling back around the same vicious past.

Later, a knock on the door startled him. He instinctively looked up in the direction of the sound and snorted in frustration at the maddening darkness that greeted him.

His uncle asked, “Josiah? Are you well?”

“Well? I’ve been blinded and you ask me if I’m well!”

The old man sighed. “I’ll take that as a yes. Are you coming down to dinner?”

Josiah stiffened. “A man of your stature would dare dine with the unclean? Bad enough you let one sleep under your roof, now you invite the blind to your dinner table! What would the other Pharisees say?”

“You are my kinsman. I vowed long ago to defend you. Why do you think
your father brought you here? As for those of my sect, leave those
hypocrites to me.”

Startled by these outlandish remarks, Josiah couldn’t think of a response. Instead, he whispered his thanks to God for such an uncle.

“Now, then, come down to dinner,” his uncle said.

He shook his head. “It is not right that the unclean should eat with the clean, but it is right for me to pray and fast in hope of salvation. Even if I could accept your kindness and partake of your bread, you forget, I was a shepherd before I was a blind man. It is my nature to earn my keep.”

His uncle laughed. “A smart boy you are, but not a wise one. What have you done to make yourself unclean? You have done no act, nor have you partaken of any food that would by the law make you unclean. In fact, an act of great honor caused the loss of your sight, not an unclean nature. Tradition assumes the blind and the crippled are that way because of something they or their fathers did. I am convinced the Law of Moses says nothing about such people being unclean, but it does say we must care for the weak and the defenseless. I must admit, I do not know any work the blind can do shy of begging, but I will try. That you have such a strong character is good. Perhaps the Lord will look upon you with favor and restore your sight. Remember Job, my child. God tested Job by removing his blessings and when Job was found worthy and true, he had all he lost restored to him, and more.”

This amazed Josiah. “If God does not restore me, I am honor-bound to die. I warn you, some day my honor may well win out over my integrity.”

“Be a righteous man and the Lord will reward you. As for fasting, if it pleases the Lord, well, but fast on the morrow. You have made a long journey so tonight we feast.”

Josiah hesitated, the incredulity of his uncle’s words haunting his soul. His uncle’s colleagues would be scandalized. To allow his uncle to risk everything for a blinded shepherd seemed immoral, but he had already learned it was nearly impossible to go against his uncle, so however reluctantly, he nodded his consent.

The next morning, he began his fast and knelt to pray, but the humiliating dinner the night before distracted him. His cousins initially refused to eat with him. Only the threat of going without supper and being disinherited silenced them. This last threat still shocked Josiah. As serious an offence as inhospitality was, to threaten to disinherit your sons to honor your blind nephew? Did his uncle really have enough gall to leave everything to him?

It must have been the humiliation his cousins would experience if word of such a thing got out that checked them. As soon as their father died, his cousins would seize the inheritance and toss Josiah out into the street to take up permanent residence with the forgotten ones, though he would die before coming to such an end.

He shook his head, disgusted. He was supposed to be praying, not reliving last night’s horror. He tried to focus, but only managed, “Lord, remember your faithful servant. Please don’t leave me like this forever!” He sighed, gave up his prayer, and began to recite the sickness Psalms, thankful his Rabbi insisted he memorize the Psalms.

His dreams were the sweetest torture. In his dreams, he was back home again. Whole once more, he roamed the valleys and the hills, tending his sheep. He could almost feel little Dalli laying over his shoulder. She was well for a change, so he let her down to play with the other lambs on the last day. Then the lion ambushed them, killing Dalli and one of her friends before he could get to them. As bitter tears filled his eyes, guilt clung to him stealthily. His lying brothers tried to reassure him they managed to bring all the sheep in, but that lion wasn’t the only predator in the area. Without the protection of their shepherd, his flock must’ve been decimated.

In the middle of his third psalm, someone knocked on a door in the distance. A youthful female voice shouted, “Shalom, Benjamin. I have returned.”

Returned? His uncle only had the two sons. Who was the girl?

Several minutes later, footsteps echoed nearby, drawing ever closer until they stopped less than two feet or so away. His instincts pulled him to look in their direction, but he resisted that as well as the urge to check to make sure the cloth tied around his head still hid his ruined eyes from the unwanted visitors. He could feel well it did. “I didn’t say you could come in, or does common courtesy no longer apply to me?” Quiet anger echoed in his voice.

The female voice from earlier whispered, “He knows we’re here?”

“Of course, I’m blind, not deaf! I have good ears, a keen sense of smell, and before the lion attack I had excellent eyesight, too. All good shepherds do.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t intend for you to hear that.”

His uncle cleared his throat. “Josiah, I would like you to meet your cousin Rachel, the youngest daughter of Judas Bar-Amos. He sent her to serve here after my Abigail died. Rachel will assist you here and outside the house if you wish to go out. I am a busy man and will not always be here to help you, and of course I cannot expect my sons to be of any use.”

Josiah stiffened. “I don’t need anyone’s help. Now go away, I wish to be alone.”

“All right, Josiah. We’ll leave you for now. Call for us if you want anything.” His uncle’s footsteps retreated. “Come, Rachel.”

“Oh… all right. I’m coming.”

As the footsteps disappeared in the distance, his stomach rumbled.

Ignoring it, he began reciting the healing psalms again, not letting up until he exhausted himself and fell down onto the couch-bed, sleeping like the dead.

To Be Continued….

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