Greatest DayRobert Lee Hecksher
The small boy stood on the sidewalk face turned towards the sun. His eyes closed shielding his pupils from the harmful rays. He stood there as the wind caressed his face brushing the light-brown locks of curly hair around in a rhythmic style of dance. He wore a blue shirt that fit snugly across his tiny bulging belly. It was a size, maybe two, too small for him but he didn’t seem to care. You could tell, he loved that shirt and the faded Mario press-on was an indication that he always wanted to wear it.
The boy's legs were covered by a loose-fitting khaki with a string tie to ensure they did not fall off his hips. The pants were coupled at the feet with bright red Nike's with black shoestrings that were coming undone.
The small child hadn’t noticed the stranger approaching.
It was only when the wind stopped blowing and the sun snuck behind the looming figure that he decided to open his eyes.
“Hello,” I said pressing my tone into a calm, soothing invite.
“Hi,” said the child. His innocence sung in high-pitched yellow strands of unassuming enthusiasm. “I am waiting for my dad. He’ll be here soon to pick me up.”
“Your mother asked that I come to pick you up instead.”
The child looked up at me curiously with a half wink in one eye, measuring. “You’re tall, even for a grown-up. I like your shiny black shoes and black pants. They’re kind of like the ones my daddy wears to work sometimes. Do you know my dad? Do you work with him?”
“No, I do not work with him,” I said, which was honest, “but I do know him,” which was a lie. I hate to lie, but I didn’t want the child upset.
The small boy looked up at me, almost defiantly, questioning my intent. There was a glint of trepidation in his eye, undoubtedly instilled into him with a fun antidote like stranger danger.
I smiled down upon him. “Your safe word is pumpkin seed. Your mother mentioned that too. She told me that you would not come with me unless you heard me say it. I guess I should have started with that.”
“Are you taking me home,” asked the child?
“Yes. Yes, I am. But we have to walk. Is that OK with you?”
Excitedly the young child nodded his head. He’d gone on walks with his mother and father all the time, I’m sure. Perhaps around the neighborhood or through the forest. I bet he spent his time hunting for treasure or lost coins, tossed away, forgotten. Maybe not always finding it but having fun regardless. The air about his aura suggested he would be like that. “Will mom and dad be home when we get there?”
“No, not for a little while, but I promise that I’ll wait with you until they arrive.”
We started away towards home.
The child instinctively held out his hand which was rewarded with the warm embrace of my own. His tiny fingers folded into my palm and were like velvet petals. The little child looked up at me, smiling his little smile.
“My dad is really strong you know. He lifts me and throws me in the air sometimes. I like it. It feels like I’m flying. My mom is really nice and she cooks the best ─ ”
I looked down at the young child, admiring his fondness of memory, but a puzzled look must have fleeted across my face if only for a second because he stopped.
“What?” The child asked with an innocent giggle escaping from some hidden compartment in his heart.
“It’s just ─” I paused looking for the right way to inquire about his apparent lack of understanding, “how did they know?”
“How did they know what?” The young child’s eyes turned away, back down on the road before us.
“How did they know that today was your day? Your greatest day?”
Laughing a little harder than I think he intended, the young child released his grip and covered his mouth. “What do you mean, how did they know?”
I looked down at my innocent charge while we continued to walk, again looking for resolution without causing undue concern. I straightened his gaze to match his own. Perhaps the road will have my words.
After a min or two, I asked the little boy. “You know where we’re going, yes?”
Without so much as a hint of hesitation, “Of course I do. We’re going home,” laughed the child. “Mom and Dad will be there later, and you will wait for me until they do.”
“Yes, but do you know where home is?” I asked, a bit cautiously.
“Yes,” replied the young child. “It’s where God lives. Mom has a sign that says that. GOD LIVES HERE.”
“But we’re not going to that home. We’re going to His home.”
“I know. God’s home is my home. Always,” said the little boy with another giggle. “You’re silly, you know that?”
I had to stop, and I knelt before the child so that they would be eye to eye. “So, tell me then, how your parents knew you were going to God’s home today and not to theirs?”
He cupped my face with his little hands and cocked his head to the side. “What do you mean, they knew?”
His tiny palms pulsed with every beat of his heart. I nearly cried, but I had to know. “Your father stopped to breathe when you spilled your cereal this morning. He didn’t raise his voice and refused to get angry after seeing how upset you were. Instead, he assured you that it was OK and cleaned up the mess only to smile at you afterward. He said, I love you son, and gave you an extra-long hug and a kiss before you left for school. Your mother made you your favorite lunch and added a note that said, I miss you today. She too made sure you heard her say, I love you, always, before you left them. It was like they knew that today was your greatest day. They knew that today you would go to God’s house without them but couldn’t have. Only God knows that. Only God knows when it’s your time to come to His house. So, please. How did they know?”
The young child, smiling at the fond memories of this day, lowered his hands to my shoulders and leaned into me with a hug. “Silly. My parents didn’t know,” he whispered. “That’s just how they are. They’ve always loved me as God loves me.”
I wrapped the child in my arms, fighting back my tears. Only then understanding; what He sees in His children. Knowing then; what love there is to be found in them.
I spread my wings up toward the heavens, lifted up the child up into my arms, and carried him ─ Home.
ReflectionsRobert Lee Hecksher
The monster peers down into thickly calloused palms. His scared, glassed eyes spread wide as words, previously denied to him by some unseen oppressor, flood the forefront of his thought coiling his stitched lips into an awkward scowl. “Shiny. Bright. Hope!” But his horrid reflection strikes him as steely as a stake through the heart and he buries the charm, laid bear with polished silver, into his tightened fists. The taut muscles in his neck creek when he turns to the body splayed lifeless on the bed before him. The woman’s eyes, still pried open even in death, lock into his own with unfettered judgment. He leans in and replaces the cross, torn from her neck, and whispers, “Please, forgive me. I know not what I do.”
Outside, complacent with the day’s toil, Edward Huntsman strolls past his mailbox toward the front door of his home, eager to see his wife. But feet lag as he drops his briefcase and claws at the starched oxford worn about his person. He tears away at the buttons so that his nails might score the scarred, pinkish flesh strewn across his chest, the remnants of a vicious dog attack. “By the heavens! What pray tell, could be ─” his voice stills the moment his fingers, employed with a heightened sense of feel, rub against the matted fur pouring forth from the scar. Edward snatches at his crucifix and brings the totem up to his lips. His eyes fix on the black nails protracting from his fingers and the rising full moon mirrored in the cross in pale, argent. With solemn prayer, Edward rears back and howls, “God, help me!”
Down a darkened alley, stood erect on the rooftop of a nearby church, a shadow’s shadow peers down with a wickedly blissful smile. Crimson-colored eyes, as full of malice as the devil himself, considers the scene with somber glee. The dark prince, once hailed sovereign, bites down onto his lip with sharpened fang and turns to the gold cross, rose high above the town. His reflection denied, the vampiric specter laughs and clicks his nail against the frigid gloss as he prays in hushed tone, “Praise to thee who should warrant such a beautiful bounty.” He leaps from the roof, and, in a plume of smoke, transforms into a bat as he fleets toward Edward’s home.
The LiftA 101 Word Story
Cool leather. Frigid steel. Spirited ammonia
“Ready?” my spotter asks, his eyes widened, and his arms cocked at a ninety-degree angle, like that’s going to help.
I don’t respond. I lift my head to the bar and lay back down. When I do, I hoist the weight from its slumber. Suckling at the stank air, ripened with sweat, and caked in testosterone, I imprison the breath and let it out slow as I lower the metal to my chest.
Slow. Smooth. Squeeze.
Arms lock. “Good!”
Sit up, clap hands, and charge through the cloud of chalk.
Now, time for squat.
TrollA 101 Word Story
Clack. Clack. Clack.
Eager horses hoof echoes off the stone-paved trail as the wagons wooden wheels protest with whiny creeks, pulling away from my bridge. They should be grateful. Their albatross cleaved by one woe-some rider, the toll paid.
Later, steely scent, armor’s pride, borne on the castle bound breeze, gives me pause and rise to wondering scrutiny. A cheeky rider approaches, their whimpering horse, burdened by the weight of shield. Might it protest as much as the wooden wheel?
Clack. Clack. Clack.
Heavy hoof knocks, demanding my attention as they draw up onto my bridge.
The tool must be paid.
ProcrastinationA 101 Word Story
“Son, do you have a minute?” my dad asks with that adult conversational tone.
“Uh, sure. Do you mind if I finish this? I’m in the middle of a level,” I say, hoping to prolong the inevitable.
“No, I need to get this off my chest and if I don’t do it now, I may never. Please come here.”
“OK, dad.” Feet drag over the carpeted fibers, stuck up from the living room floor. They’re life-lines pulling me back from the unseen peril. My body surges with electricity.
“Son, I need to talk to you about ─ sex.”
“Dad, I’m twenty-one.”