(Author’s note: Helping friends out with their issues here in Korea. Seems to me like I was sent back to Korea for precisely this moment. Future writings are coming, that are non-fictioneers. Here we go with today’s, though!)
(Author’s note: There’s a lot of things going on, and my production of fiction hasn’t been very productive because of other factors. I shall have more stuff up soon, but at this time, all I am able to do is Fictioneers stuff. To which, here’s today’s offering.)
I had a long recovery after being beaten up and subsequently healed. Morgan, our leader, had taken the time to look at my sword and the armor that was carried off of me after I arrived back at the camp. He relayed a message to Brian, a message that would inspire a lot of worry and challenge. This was all in the space of a few days before the big Gathering that we were going to be attending.
“Hey!” Brian said to me, as I slowly started jogging around the camp, “We just got done with your assessment of your equipment.”
“What did you find?” I asked back, not looking at anything but the path in front of me.
“I don’t know what happened, but your equipment hasn’t been maintained very well. Has it not been given the proper upkeep?”
I just shrugged as I continued to jog. Brian put a hand on my shoulder, giving me the indication to stop.
“You don’t have to worry if you say yes.”
I stopped, and turned to face him at underneath a large oak tree. He continued to speak, as I looked at him.
“We get people in our camps all the time with equipment that’s falling apart. They try to take in battle, and they get thoroughly knocked around because of this. You, my brother, are not the only one who has to deal with severely corroded gear.”
I looked up at Brian and just couldn’t take it much more. I sat down at the base of the tree and the tears started flowing from my eyes.
“I’ve had that equipment for 18 years,” I cried out, “I’ve not had to use it much except in the last few months, when I joined with your crew.”
“That’s okay, brother. We’re not here to condemn you. As I said, everyone’s got corrosion on their armor. The difference is, are you going to work to repair your equipment, or will you be working to get new equipment. If you’re needing new equipment, do not be surprised that you will be able to get it. We walk by faith, and not by sight.”
After I told him that I would talk to him a little bit later, I just sat at the bottom of that tree and cried my eyes out. All of that frustration from being knocked around, and all of the pain of knowing I could not battle because I was exposed without armor, it flowed out like a raging river.
As I had dinner at the camp, Morgan sat down next to me. He looked out over the camp, over his army of warriors, then looked at me.
“You know, what’s happened to you is going to make you a stronger man. To fight heartily, it takes strong leadership,” he said, with a stern yet comforting edge to his voice, “With leadership and the coverage of our camp, you’ll be able to do a lot more. But you gotta listen, and you need to get in with our Father.”
I started in on the training the following morning. I spent all day trying to swing my dirty and pitted long sword, to spend time developing the skill. It kept slipping out of my hand after a while. I was so rusty, I couldn’t even understand how I could have withstood all of those Legion those weeks back.
I felt frustrated with each day of practice, each day where I kept losing my sword and losing all of my focus. The week was just incredibly hard, with attack after attack on my own confidence. I could feel many parts of it falling like a crumbling brick wall.
After one of my day long practice sessions, I sat in my tent silently. How could I get myself ready for the upcoming Gathering when I was so lost about everything. I heard a scratch at my tent, and looked up to see Brian poke his head in.
“Hey, are you okay?”
“Come on in. I’m really having a tough time today, to be honest. I just can’t seem to do my work, well or otherwise. I’m just concerned about a few things.”
He took a seat next to me, folded his legs, and put his hands under his bearded chin..
“So, tell me about it.”
“I feel like all this stuff with my equipment has just eroded me down. I mean, how am I to do the fighting against the enemies like I’m supposed to do if I still have all this corrosion on my work?”
“Well, soldier, you need to just remember that our assessment of your equipment just gives us an idea of what needs to be repaired. And we have a session of repair for you to experience coming soon.”
“Session of repair?”
“Yeah. See, we have an attachment with what we use for offense and defense. It’s a part of us, and just because it gets tarnished or corroded, it doesn’t mean it’s unfixable. In fact, if things get done right, it could be made as good as new.”
“Will this happen before the Gathering?”
“I’m not totally sure, but I have a feeling it will be done soon. In the meantime, I think you need to get some sleep. You need to rest as much as you can.”
I looked over at him, and gave a small sigh.
“Do you think the corrosion was affecting some of my other skills, as well?”
“I think lately, no. You were pretty good at the river battle. You just need to be mindful of where it starts, and how to take care of it before it gets too bad.”
I nodded, and I prepared my face for bed.
“Brian, thank you for being a great friend.”
“Don’t sweat it. I’m also your sergeant, so I have to make sure my people are well taken care of.”
The gathering of people would happen in two days. I needed to get my heart ready.
(Author’s Note: If you’re interested in reading the previous five stories of Mayumi, please use the tag “Mayumi” to find her stories.)
Mayumi’s Story (part VI)
(aka “We All Sleep Alone”) by Miles H. Rost
The months passed by, and things finally stabilized for Mayumi Shiomi. After dealing with more ups and downs at her job, things finally were able to get to some semblance of “normal”. She had just a little over 4 months left on her contract, and could not wait to leave.
The intervening months since her letter to her dad had not been too kind. She went through many relationships and one night stands, feeling the loneliness and emptiness in her heart that she was left with for such a long time. She finally got in with a counselor to talk about it, to come clean and to rebuild the shattered pieces of her heart and deal with the remnants of the old relationship that so wrecked her personal life.
As she sat in her apartment, looking out at the Sydney landscape, she couldn’t help but think about how she got where she was. She thought about the God she served, and how she was being led even in her weaknesses.
“Y’know, God. Ah’ve been such a fool,” she said, out loud, “I’ve spent so much time grousing about my job, not doing what I’m supposed to do. Ah know I need to do better, I just don’t know why I’m so weak.”
She sighed, as she looked at the cloudy skies that unfolded over the city like a scroll. It was a day that matched her feelings, and as she got up to do a small bit of cleaning, she gave a small sigh and a weak smile.
“Sooner or later, Lord, we all sleep alone. Ahm glad it’s happening now, instead of when I’m an old maid.”
Looking at the calendar, she had the date circled. Just over 4 months, and she could finish her contract and get out. She already had prospects at a new job, and a new life in Melbourne. But, she wouldn’t be able to start for at least a month after due to non-compete clauses. She knew that this would be a perfect time to find out about places to live there.
She had life to look forward to. But she had to survive the next months. That would be a challenge, as long as she was dealing with all the anxiety issues and the health problems that came with it. Worry, anxiety, and all sorts of other things pulled at Mayumi’s neck like a gremlin on an airplane. It was not something she enjoyed, and her sleep sometimes suffered because of it.
She would pray for at least one vacation in between, just to make things go faster.
She grabbed her pillow, and proceeded to her bedroom to take a nap. Why not let time pass her by with something she wanted to do.
Sleeping was one way to get away from the everyday. And she took to it like a champion.
Chelsea Paragovian, known to the rest of the world as Chelly Price, looked out the window at the brilliant lights of New York City. The twinkle of the skyline would be incredibly mesmerizing for a first-time girl in the big city. For someone who was there, it was a fading light that reflected the fading spark in her spirit.
Chelly Price was the main attraction for the new millennial musical movement, up there with the Demi Lovatos, Victoria Justices, and others of their ilk. Her first album, made when she was just 17 and a newbie in New York City, had gone platinum within 6 months. She was a hot commodity, and the various backing bands loved having her up front to bring the numbers in. After the concerts, she would swing through the party circuit. Sleep through the day, party all the night, press the flesh at music signings and celebrity appearances on TV shows. Her second album didn’t do as well, but did hit gold within 9 months.
As she looked at herself in the mirror, as the sun came up on that September morning, she finally caught the realization of everything she had been doing. The lines on her face, the premature worry-lines, the stress and the wear of the road was finally getting to her. She had success, she had the money, but she had nothing else.
She had one person left who could bring her back to earth.
She held onto the cell-phone, the flat phone that kept only the most important numbers. She clicked through the hundreds of contacts until she found the one that she was looking for, listed under the letter Z. It had the name “Zero Hour” on it, and she knew that when she called the number, things would never be the same. She clicked the entry, and waited.
One ring. Two rings. Three rings. *Click*
“Chelsea? Sweetie? Is that you?”
“Yeah, Daddy. It’s me. I’m sorry for calling you so early. I know that it’s probably the middle of the night over there…”
She heard a big yawn from the other side of the phone, and started to yawn as well.
“No, no, sweetie. It’s alright. I haven’t heard from you, it’s been so long. So, how is New York treating you?”
“It’s…it’s…it’s alright, I guess.”
“Is there something wrong, sweetie?”
Chelsea hesitated. She knew that if she said the wrong thing, it could doom her future. She believed that if she said something, that it could come to fruition in ways that were never meant to be.
“I looked in the mirror.”
“What did you see?”
“I saw lines. I saw myself as tired.”
“How long have you been doing this stuff that you’ve been doing?”
“2 years. I am due to go into the studios here in the next month to record the third record.”
“What do you think? Do you think you have enough for another one?”
“They keep supplying me with songs, but they’re not really that good. I really want to expand my horizons.”
“Do you remember what I told you when you first left on that midnight plane to New York?”
“You told me that diamond girls aren’t made to grow old.”
“Do you feel old?”
“I look old. I feel tired. But, I know that there’s a spark still in my heart. I just don’t think it’s here.”
She chuckled, thinking that it was silly she was having this discussion with her dad, who was a simple wood-mill worker, not a big entertainment man.
“Maybe what they’re asking of you is not what you want. Have you thought much about what you want to do?”
Chelsea paused. Have I really thought about it? she asked herself, in her mind.
“I am not sure. I am thinking about leaving the parties and the other stuff behind. Maybe refocusing my music, in a way?”
“Honey, whatever you plan to do, I’m behind you 100 percent. Did you hear about Bernie Griffin?”
“Big Bernie? The guy who slung the slats?”
“Yeah. He got drafted by the Dodgers. He’s heading to Florida, I think. He’s gonna be in the minors now.”
“How did he get into baseball?”
“When you saw him last, he was on the high school team. He was at a company baseball gathering, and some guy saw him. Put his name in with a scout, who saw him work, and signed him almost on the spot.”
“Wow. Who would have thought?”
“People thought the same thing about you, Chelsea. They didn’t realize that you were being picked up for a recording contract. A 3 record deal was a big thing for the people around here.”
Chelsea thought about that for a moment, seeing herself like Bernie, and chuckling to herself.
“What I’m trying to say to you, Chelsea, is that you need to do what you think is right. Diamond girls aren’t made to grow old, and you’re my diamond girl. If you think that going a different direction will be a good thing, then trust in what your heart is saying.”
“Daddy, I just need time away from this city. I want to come home for a while.”
“Your bed is ready when you need it. We love you and support you, and if you want to come back at any time, just give us a heads up so we can pick you up at the airport.”
Chelsea started crying right there, on the phone. She knew what she was going to do, and it may have to mean paying the price of her soul with her career.
(For those who are interested in Part 1 and Part 2, click the links.)
Stepping on Shadows (aka Mayumi’s Story, Part III) by Miles Rost
A business card with a number written on the back.
Mayumi found it on her counter, and she never noticed it before. She looked at it and twirled the card and the number around in her mind, thinking of where it may have come from.
In the intervening week between her emotional breakdown and the current time, she was able to get her mind back in order and was focused on moving on. She was pleased, but she knew that there was a lot of work to be repaired within her soul, her psyche. She refocused her efforts on developing her life away from the addiction to her ex. She felt as though things were finally starting to get level.
Saturday morning came quickly for her. More than a week after dealing with all those feelings, she felt like she was on solid ground. Which meant only one thing: Time to clean the house. She washed the dishes, cleaned the living room, and started cleaning off the stand-alone counter where she would have her mail and her dinner.
The card dropped from a stack of mail. Hidden among the junk mail was a business card for a garage that she used to take her vehicle when she was dating the idiot. She looked at the back of it and saw a number.
I wonder where this came from? I don’t remember asking for a card from the garage the last time, she thought to herself.
For a long time, she just sat at the bar and twirled the piece of paper over and over in her hand, debating about whether she should call the number and see what was at the other end, or whether she shouldn’t push it. The battle raged inside her head for a while, but eventually, her curiosity got the best of her logic, and she grabbed the house phone. She dialed the number on the card, and just waited nervously. After about three rings, the phone picked up.
“Hello? Who’s this?”
The voice was unmistakable. The annoyance found in the voice was immediately recognizeable.
She had mistakenly called the idiot in Western Australia.
She immediately hung up the phone and started to panic.
“I can’t believe it…WHAT the hell just happened?!?!” she shouted into the air.
She stood up and started to pace, figuring out how she was able to contact the idiot. She had been trying to get rid of him, and now all of a sudden, he was back…even for a moment.
Mayumi unplugged the phone from the wall socket, then walked over to the couch in the living room. She sat down, feeling incredibly nauseated by what just happened. She felt disturbed by it in a way she never felt before, and it was turning her in knots.
She laid down on the couch, the right sleeve of her sweatshirt covering her forehead, absorbing the sweat and the feelings of nausea rising off her head. In the few minutes that it took for her to blank her mind and do some cleaning in her head, she turned her head and looked next to her.
“Lord, ah don’t know what to do. I wanted to keep it away, but ah didn’t throw the card away. I kept it, and explored it.”
She looked back up at her ceiling, and shook her head. She asked for forgiveness in her mind, trying to ease the feeling of self-betrayal in her. As the minutes turned into hours, she felt her gut slowly become calm and her spirit start to rest. She felt a wave of peace come over her, as one thought crossed her mind.
It’s not the end, and not a start over. It’s a mere stumbling block, and you’ve gone past it. Keep running.
As her eyes slowly closed, taking Mayumi into dreamland, she realized that even with this problem, she would be able to still continue and survive. She could bank on that.