The Experience

Hello Wonderful Readers!

Today’s story of substance was meant to be posted over a week ago, on Father’s Day, but I got sidetracked, in a wonderful kind of way…

On that very day I found out I’m going to be a daddy!!!!!

So yeah, without further ado, here’s the Father’s Day tale.

Enjoy…:)

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By

Rico Lamoureux

All Rights Reserved.

2017

 

With the urging of their mother, my kids asked me what I wanted for Father’s Day this year. I gave them the same wise-cracking answer that I always do when they hit me up for gift ideas for myself; ‘humble pie for everyone, with a scoop of goodwill.’

After their ‘come on dad, we’re serious,’ this is usually followed up by, ‘I don’t know, maybe some Old Spice? A tie? Whatever you kids want.’ And so comes more after shave for the bathroom cabinet or strips of corporate life for the tie rack.

Usually. But this year was a bit different. My precious ones were at a crucial age, the two boys being seventeen and fifteen, my little girl not so little anymore, having reached the age that will bring any father to his knees with fear: thirteen.

Hate to sound like the ol’ cliché, ‘back when I was your age,’ but as of late I’ve been finding myself using the line on my kids more often than I’d like to admit, cringing every time it slips out. It’s those damn cellphones that have me sounding like an ol’ fart, their faces buried in ‘em every friggin’ waking hour of every day.

So this year I decided to follow up the humble pie and goodwill with a request that I really wanted. To see my kids being free from being slaves of tech. To actually spend some quality time with them, where their eyes are experiencing life through the senses, not a screen.

“You guys like music, right?”

“Who doesn’t, dad?”

“And you like concerts?”

“Of course.”

“That’s what I want for Father’s Day. For the four of us to go to a concert. I’ll take care of the tickets, you guys just worry about taking the evening off.”

My daughter and fifteen-year-old got excited, but the eldest, having reached the age of cynicism, wasn’t so quick to jump on the bandwagon. “Wait a minute, you want us to go see one of your ol’ school bands, huh?”

The enthusiasm of the two younger ones dropped like a cell to the ground.

“Now kids, whose day is it supposed to be? Don’t be selfish,” their mother chimed in.

“Ok, dad, who we gonna see? That pitty guy?”

“Pitty? You’re tellin’ me Brad Pitty has a band?!”

They were used to my cheesy sense of humor, now just waiting to find out which ol’ fogy I was going to drag them to see.

“No, not Tom Petty, although that would be friggin’ awesome. No, we can choose someone you’re all into. My only condition is, no cellphones.”

And just like that they instantly regretted asking me what I wanted, wishing they could just go back in time and get me the Old Spice and ties. Hell, they would have even chosen Petty over given up their cells. But my card had already been played, so they were stuck with doing what dad wanted for a change.

They moped around all Sunday, their faces so low they might as well have been dragging them along with their shoes, nearly coming to tears by evening when they had to hand over the devices in exchange for lighters.

“What are we supposed to do with these?” the fifteen-year-old asked.

“He wants us to get high like hippies before the show,” the older one snarked. “You know, since we’re gonna be the only ones there without cellphones.”

“Ah, busting out a lil’ cheese whiz like your ol’ pop, huh?” I countered. “Nah, the only high we’re gonna be getting tonight is natural. Stuff these bad boys in your pocket, we’ll be makin’ use of ‘em later.”

And with that we were out the door, kissing mom goodbye and leaving her with all electronics.

Felt good to be king for a day.

 

The band the kids had chosen to see weren’t half bad, as I had heard some of their tracks being played here and there. I had gotten us front row seats, and as the venue filled up I imparted a little ol’ fart wisdom on my bored offspring, whether they wanted to hear it or not.

“Back when I was your age we’d go to concerts to feel the artists, as they would us. Nowadays it’s all so plastic, distant, like going to a zoo and gawking. No real interaction. I don’t know how they do it. How they can force themselves to perform with excitement when they’re just staring out at a sea of pocket cameras.”

“It’s called evolution, dad,” my know-it-all seventeen-year-old replied. “Every generation goes through it.”

“Yeah, but yours took something that was supposed to advance us and hurled us back to the stone age. We were better off drawing stick figures on a cave wall. Pretty soon humankind will be a bunch of introverts, living nothing but a digital life through a lens in their eye.”

The lights in the arena went down, a drum beat now giving rise, the crowd going wild.

With a hometown greeting from the lead singer the audience got even more excited, and when the stage lights lit up the band the reaction was nearly deafening.

My kids transformation from sulking to totally enthralled happened quicker than I had expected, getting sucked into the performance before the first go-round of the chorus, no filter, no cellphone to act as a barrier.

By the second delivery of the chorus the band had spotted us, the lead singer and his two flanking guitar mates making their way over.

Not even a foot away, it was like we were getting our own private show, my boys looking back at me with such elation, my little girl, so captivated she was frozen in place.

It must have been like 3D, no, make that 4D to them, so close we could see the beads of sweat beginning to form on the faces. Hell, so close we could even see the fillings in the lead singer’s mouth as he bent over to serenade us.

They made it a point to come back over to us for at least a few bars of every song that followed, and when they got to their soft ballad I had the kids pull out their lighters, guiding them to strike that flame and hold it up high.

Like a beacon we had once again drew the band in, these young artists eager to give all they had to the only four souls among thousands who were there to connect on a personal level, not through a screen.

By the time the band got to their last track, their biggest hit, they had security lead us up to the stage to be part of the show. The boys were even encouraged to play a few notes on the guitars, while my little princess and I sang a few verses with the lead singer.

This was more than a facebook post, a youtube clip, it was an experience that would stay with us for the rest of our lives.

And yes, with all those cells pointing at us we ended up indeed going viral, even making it onto the news and getting interviewed on a couple of morning talk shows.

Going viral. Ironic to reach such a modern aspiration when all I was trying to do was have us experience a feeling of yesterday. Back when I was growing up they’d call this a full circle moment.

As for my family, we call it The Experience.

~

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Hope (Sequel)

Welcome back, my wonderful readers!

For those of you who have been waiting for the conclusion of Hope, the time has come! For those of you who haven’t had a chance to read it yet, just scroll on down to the previous post:)

But be forewarned, this might be a tear-jerker;)

 

Hope

Hope

(Sequel)

By

Rico Lamoureux

All Rights Reserved.

2017

 

From an all-encompassing bright light came a sign of life in the form of tree branches stretching far and wide, so thick with leaves that one could only wonder of nature’s community which lived inside.

Throughout the canopy hung round balls of delight, for within these husks lived the deliciously versatile walnut.

Beneath this massive display of Mother Nature’s beauty stood a thick trunk, holding it all up with such dignified strength.

“Mom, where are we?”

“I don’t know, Hope.”

All of a sudden, with what seemed like the same amount of force as the impact which had brought them here, the razor-sharp blade of a whizzing axe on the downswing came slicing through the trunk’s bark, imbedding about a half foot into it.

The shock from such a violet action shook Hope to her core, but what core? As she felt the imposing energy reverberate she wondered if they were indeed dead.

The only thing she did know for sure was the pain she felt for the beautiful walnut tree, the wondrous structure losing its majestic towering presence with every swing of the axe.

Or was such a feeling just empathy?

The more she thought about it, felt about it, the clearer a new perspective began to emerge. Despite being chopped down it still seemed to have a purpose, perhaps a new purpose. A sense that would prove true within a moment of the grand tree timbering over and hitting the ground at their feet.

The ripple of energy echoing throughout their beings held the ability to transport the two ahead in time, to a montage of sorts, the massive trunk being stripped of its bark, cut into sections and reassembled in a way that began to form a rectangular box.

The more the new purpose of this splendid tree took on its new shape the more familiar it became to both mother and daughter, and by the time the details were being put into place­—the motif, the etchings, the pearls—such intricacies were accompanied by the sound of innocence, the purest form of humankind…

The cry of a newborn baby.

Both Hope and Denise stood from their positions of observation as a father guided his wife and their precious newborn in her arms towards the chest. The chest of Hope and Denise’s family history, its origins beginning here with this young couple.

Then returned the ripples of time, through its montage of story aging the parents as the child grew into a young woman, a few siblings now by her side.

She was soon joined by a partner, a baby of their own coming into being not long thereafter.

With another generation came the passing of the first, still there in spirit, there to bear witness, along with Denise and Hope, as the chest was passed down to each first daughter, the leaves and branches of this family tree growing ever so much more as surroundings changed, as time passed.

Time that brought about inevitable change, descendants experiencing both great triumphs and great sorrows throughout the ages, all centered around this heirloom, this chest.

From poverty to riches, peace to wars, the hope chest withstanding all, although at times coming very close to being destroyed.

Barely escaping house fires…

Being buried among rubble as air raids come thundering down from above…

Nearly being sold as it came into the dire times of the destitute…

Barely slipping away from the massive grasps of mighty ocean waves as the family weathered the journey to the New World…

Through Ellis Island and under the torch of Lady Liberty the chest entered New York to start its next hundred years, Great Mama the first to inherit it on American soil. To see her at such a tender age, to watch her grow, to enter womanhood like those who had come before her, with the hope chest at the foot of her bed, was special indeed for Hope and Denise, the two now holding hands.

Then came Hope’s grandmother, Denise with such a serene look on her face at the sight of her young nursing mother, before she too grew up to find someone to keep the family going.

Especially touching was when it was Denise’s turn to come into being, Hope looking over at her mother every now and then with a smile as they watched her go through the stages of childhood and adolescence.

By the time they reached the moment on the bridge, the meeting that would lead to the companionship of bringing Hope into existence, mother and daughter were shaking. Other than pictures, it was the first time Hope had ever seen her father, and as for Denise, the vision of once again seeing her dearly departed nearly sent her falling over to her knees. But the two held each other up in their arms, watching with such longing, wishing they could just step out into that past and make it their present.

They had never been so close, so united in emotion.

Watching her father work on the chest, tears began to well up in Hope’s eyes. It was all she could do not to turn away, for she knew what must be coming next.

Or at least she thought she did…

But instead of the tragedy of 9/11 the storyline, the timeline, was now showcasing a mother’s pregnant belly, her hands holding another pair of hands as the arms embraced her from the back.

Like a powerful movie moment the montage tilted up to the mother’s face, to reveal her to be a future Hope, her love, the father of her baby lowering his head down to the side of hers to where they were now cheek-to-cheek, both looking down at baby-to-be.

It wasn’t the kid who hadn’t had her back back at his house, the one she had nearly given her innocence to. No, this was a real man. One whose face expressed sincerity and loyalty.

Hope looked to her mother, now understanding all, but Denise had changed, now as transparent as the ancestors at their back.

Hope looked out to them all, the number having grown overwhelmingly since she last noticed them. Thousands, maybe tens of thousands, all having lived as a result of that first couple.

Why was she still solid but her mother as translucent as the others…?

Just as it occurred to her the welled up tears in her eyes burst out, looking back at her mother with such fear…

“No mom, please, don’t leave me.

“I’m so sorry.

“I didn’t understand…”

Although now unable to wipe away her daughter’s tears, it didn’t stop Denise from trying. “My precious baby, don’t blame yourself. Please, whatever you do, don’t blame yourself. I’ll be with daddy now. I’ll be with those who have come before us.

“It’s up to you now, to keep it going, to make sure the chest continues to have purpose. It needs your strength, we all need your strength. We’re all within it.

“Live, experience, create. Pass what you learn on to the next.”

Through the tears Hope lunged forward to embrace her mother, to hold her one last time, but just when she should have made contact the all-encompassing bright light once again engulfed…

Hope waking to find herself in a hospital bed, her eyes struggling to find focus before beginning to make out a figure at the foot of the bed.

The clearer her vision became the more she could see him…

An ER resident, his face unmistakable.

That expression of true sincerity. The man of her future, the father of the child who would inherit the chest.

Another story to add to its rich history, another display of the human condition.

~

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Movie Night

Is love stronger than pride…?

Welcome back my wonderful readers!

Today we visit the human condition of betrayal, and how it can affect someone. When reading this story of substance you might identify with it on some level. If not, consider yourself very fortunate!

Movie Night Cover

By

Rico Lamoureux

All Rights Reserved

2017

It was as much of a part of who they were as a couple as sleeping in the same bed or sharing a bite to eat. At least a few times a week, turn off the phones, turn down the lights, cuddle up cozy and take in a movie. Some were powerful and became instant favorites, while most were average and pretty much good for just one viewing.

They must have watched thousands over their many years together, one of the most special to them being What Dreams May Come. Not only because it was a moving story of substance, but also due to the fact that they shared the same names as the two main characters in the film. Neither Chris nor Annie ever forgot that night when they saw the trailer on TV during that fall of ’99. Their relationship barely six months new, they had just finished showering together (and a little more) and were starting to prepare dinner when the preview caught their eye.

A supernatural drama about soul mates, it indeed compelled. But it was when those two names came up, their names, when they dropped everything and got dressed to head out to the local theatre.

Two months later, it became the theme to their wedding, and every year thereafter, the way in which they ended celebrating their anniversary. Later this year would mark their nineteenth, but Chris felt like revisiting their cinematic treasure tonight, Annie having no idea until she had sat down next to him with a bowl of popcorn.

Normally she would cozy up right beside him, but as of late, for the past two months to be precise, she would sit near but not close, he having to coax her to close the distance. It was little subtle signs like this that he had missed at the beginning, really thinking nothing of it when she had decided she wanted to start working part time at her friend’s new flower shop. After all, he had always thought of himself as a supportive husband, so if she felt she could use a few hours out of the house, why not, late afternoons not really interrupting their dinner and movie time.

But a couple of weeks in and the signs had indeed began to show, whether he had noticed them or not. Looking back, he realized he had, but only on an instinctual level. When once their affection was pretty much fifty-fifty, he now found himself having to initiate their intimacy, both physically and emotionally.

Why so much time on the cellphone now? She had never been one to let such devices consume her, but now she was a screen queen, swiping every chance she got. And why the password? The two lived alone, having no need for such security measures.

“Sometimes at work I leave my cell on a counter or in a drawer. Never know when someone’s gonna pick it up.”

Like me…?

That’s when instinct had finally slapped Chris across the face, suspicion leading him to do something he had never done before, never even thought of doing before. He began to look through her messages. She still had her cell locked, but her facebook remained open on their shared laptop.

An oversight that would change everything.

Scrolling down messages from friends and family, he came upon one from a member with no photo, and as soon as he began to read, his heart not only fell, but plummeted down into his stomach, acid eating away at it…

Where are you babe? Miss you…

I miss you too, babe. Only been cpl dys, but seems lot longer.

The last two in a thread of deceit, betrayal, devastation…

Chris never felt so hurt in his life.

The next week or so was pure anguish. How many days and nights? He wasn’t quite sure, as they were all merging into one long state of torturous hell. Should he confront her, and risk her storming out only to never return? How about going out and trying to even the score? He just couldn’t stop thinking about it, shock never really settling in to become acceptance. How could she be so nonchalant, going about life as if nothing was going on?

“You had to work late again?”

“Yeah, we’re getting a lot of inventory now that it’s spring.”

How could she be so cold-blooded? And lie so blatantly to his face?!

It was at these times, when such pain began to boil into desired self-defense, that he would rack his brain with the thought of finding another. He had no idea how serious the affair was, and the thought of losing her, after devoting himself to her for nearly two decades, was killing him. He had never been one to have suicidal thoughts, but now this dangerous mindset was part of this black plague that had befallen him. At times, ending it all seemed like the only way to end the pain, but then the thought of finding someone to take her place would creep in…

If she could do it, why can’t I? I’ve got looks. Why should I stay in a one-sided relationship? There are plenty of women out there who would appreciate a guy like me.

That’s what he missed most. The intimacy, the willful affection he no longer received. And so he began to scroll the dating sites, contemplating the two famous sayings…

Once a cheater, always a cheater.

The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.

Were they true? If so, didn’t it make perfect sense to find someone new?

Even with such logic he struggled with the thought of placing his own ad. What if they turned out to be liars too? What if it didn’t work out and he lost Annie forever? It was during these bouts of mental anguish when Chris hated being on these sites, wanting nothing more to do with such desperate searches. He already loved a woman, and had only ever thought of her when envisioning growing old with someone.

Oh Annie, why?! I’ve given you nothing but my everything. Why was I not enough?

Then the sickening thought would reappear. Of her and him, of them, together.

Chris and Annie… What happened to them being soul mates, like in the movie? They were supposed to be exclusive, as any married couple was expected to be, knowing each other on an intimate level like no one else. Advanced lovers that would do anything for the other’s pleasure.

The thought of her taking him inside of her disgusted Chris. He had helped coach her in developing the talent of taking him all the way down her throat, and once there to suckle until bliss exploded into euphoria, and how he loved how she would remain there until consuming every last drop, making him feel beyond special.

To take such a carnal bond that represented such a long commitment and so casually do it with another?!

Yes, it was not only the physical giving that hurt Chris so badly, but the emotional as well. Maybe even more so.

Annie was quite surprised when the movie started, not expecting it to be their movie, but she put on a pretty good poker face, choosing to cuddle up a little closer, like back when things were pure between them.

How would Chris tell her he knew? Of the facebook messages, the texts and late night calls, the secret meetings between him and her…

Fuck facebook! He hated it. Knew many would say it was like hating guns, when in reality people kill people, not guns. But Chris wasn’t so sure. The asshole who had come between he and his love had been from her past, and unlike the ‘ol days, when it wasn’t so easy to find/reconnect with someone from one’s past, nowadays a few clicks could end up destroying a marriage. Yeah, facebook could kill!

How would he tell her he knew about it all, yet had still decided to fight for her? How, like in the movie, he would battle the sorrows of hell for her, that he had been battling the sorrows of hell! How he felt she was still his precious Annie, and he her Chris, just like those movie characters, only real. How he had even secretly already started saving for a trip of a lifetime, months ago, for them to take for their big twenty-year wedding anniversary next year. They would jet off to Switzerland, the place where their movie characters had met, and have the time of their lives.

A trip that he now saw as part of their new beginning.

Would she be on board? Would she regret her recent actions and take the necessary steps to right her wrong?

How would he tell her he knew…?   

By now Annie’s head was lying on his lap, and Chris got his answer when a tear fell down from his eye and onto her cheek…

~

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The Start Over: Resetting The Future

If you could have a second chance at reliving your past, would you take it…?

My wonderful readers, here’s the epic conclusion to The Start Over trilogy!

If you missed the first two, just scroll on down, as they’re in order.

Happy reading:)

The Start Over Resetting the Future Cover

By

Rico Lamoureux

All Rights Reserved

2017

The pleasant sound of children playing is truly universal. Go anywhere in the world and to hear such joy represents a community at peace, its future symbolized by these little versions of ourselves. How priceless they are, reminding us of where we’ve come from, the love and devotion we show them our way of trying to secure where we’re going.

Maybe I should have went farther back I wondered as I watched these young innocents play in their school yard. Look how they truly live in the moment, not giving any thought to what has led up to it or what will come after. Not having any prejudice of race, sex, status. The purity of just being.

Is it really too much to want to return to such a state?

But I had proven it was possible. At least until fear took over. Was there some sort of lesson in this?

I watched as a little boy’s face lit up when a tricycle became available. Oh how he ran towards it with such happiness, my own faded memories identifying with his excitement.

As he slid into that small seat, placed his feet against the pedals and grabbed onto those handlebars my ponder took me to the gates of realization, the answer I was so seeking beginning to formulate in my head as the boy used mind, body and space to not really think about taking off for a joy ride throughout the playground, but just doing it.

Perhaps this had been my problem. Instead of just doing it I had placed too much energy into trying, with mind creating fear that I would fail. But again, there could be a large distance to travel between knowing and doing, the old adage Mind Over Matter hovering over me like an authoritative school teacher.

The little boy was having the time of his young life, swerving around jump-roping girls and boys playing dodge ball. How was he able to be so precise yet not really think about it? Eyes signaling to the brain, brain to body, how much energy to apply/not apply, and at such a tender age?

It was beginning to make sense. I would have to steer my being, but not force it. Disable the fear factor yet not immobilize the entirety of my conscious mind. And so I began to plan…

Who would have ever thought I would be so excited to get back to the dentist?! I was about to play a dangerous game with the universe, not really knowing any rules on how to play but fully aware that it could cost me everything if I were to make a wrong move.

Given the estimated time frame, I decided to schedule three fillings, the forty-five minute procedure hopefully being enough time to put my theory into effect. When the receptionist called my name I made a quick trip to the bathroom, downing a cap full of Nyquil and following that up with a swig of Listerine.

Lying back in the dentist’s chair, I went through the common pleasantries before plugging my ears with my headphones, a suggestion made to patients to help try to put them at ease. But my playlist had been specifically made for this date with destiny; a recording of that priceless gift of children at play, to be played on a loop.

Through my mind’s eye I could see every detail of the playground, a universe within itself as the celestial merged with the matter that made up the children at play and all that surrounded them, each and every sound my awareness focused on reverberated by the dentist’s drill.

The rope skipping on green pavement…

The high pitch of a golden whistle being blown…

The red of a rubber ball bouncing from one direction to the next…

Everything was so colorful, so bright, the laughter of fun bringing all together for a melodic palette of youth.

Then the most peculiar of things happened. As the Nyquil began to snake itself around all, my wise ‘ol friend nitrous oxide rose an eyebrow, as if to question what my awareness was up to.

A moment later and I started to feel my heart in my chest. Actually it was the heart of a little boy in my universal playground, me not realizing it was me until I sank down from birds-eye-view and into self.

The heartbeat was becoming overwhelming, too big, too much for my little body. Had I went too far back? Through will of thought I tried to dislodge myself, but the mud was too thick, the rate at which my heart was working to pump blood extending way beyond what it could handle.

Was it the blood that was thickening into mud?

I next felt a free fall, falling back into a wormhole and unable to grasp onto anything, vision turning into a periscope of tunnel vision, which brought into view two separate scenes, alternating with each blink of the eye.

The first, my adult self, now flat on the floor beside the dentist chair, the doctor performing chest compressions over my heart, an assistant blowing air into my lungs.

The second, that little boy on the playground, a couple of teachers working to save his life too, while others cleared the area

Not only could I see both existences, I could feel them too, the compressions to my smaller frame pounding me like a sledgehammer. Naturally, this was the one I was most averse to, but as I began to favor the other my being somehow knew that it was the wrong way to go if I were to accomplish the reset. Not only the obvious, that if the boy were to die, there would probably be no future self, but also a determination that acted as a guide. And so I willed myself to be absorbed by the worst of the two, the more I let it become me the more painful it became, the more real, until I completely let go of my middle-aged self, letting him pass and in turn allowing my full energy to inhabit the five-year-old body, along with the physical trauma it was experiencing.

This scary moment would serve as my first memory for the next nine years, with me having no recollection of what preceded it. Only a natural calling to embrace entrepreneurship. Lemonade stands, newspaper routes, door-to-door sales of mom’s freshly baked cookies. An unexplained instinct to strive, strive, strive.

Unexplained until fourteen years of age, that is. Then fate took me to that dentist’s chair, once again to the embrace of my wise ol’ friend, nitrous oxide. It was then that all memory came flooding back, and with it the knowledge to rip that mask the hell off my face and never go near it again.

Well, maybe not ever…

Maybe I’ll go for another go-round come  mid-life again.

~

The Layover

A story of a girl’s talent, and how it has made her into the young woman she is today.

Hope you had a great holiday weekend, my wonderful readers!

Today we revisit the theme of opportunity, and how priceless it truly is.

Enjoy…:)

o2

By

Rico Lamoureux

All Rights Reserved.

2016

Thousands upon thousands of different characters, each living a different story. This is how Amy saw the foot traffic at O’Hare. But it wasn’t just Chicago. Every airport she had ever been to produced these thoughts as she would people watch, a trait she undoubtedly had picked up from her father. A true daddy’s girl, she had absorbed a lot from his character, the most evident being the curious observer, the silent listener, natural traits, that according to him, reflected a destined storyteller.

Story; a five-letter word that fueled the imagination like no other word. A word that nearly became her name, until Amy’s father changed it at the last minute, his gut telling him to go with a character from his favorite book, I Am the Cheese. An instinct that turned out to be so in alignment with destiny that he couldn’t help but tell the story of how his little girl had turned out to follow in his footsteps to anyone who would listen.

How she had taken to tales from day one, her preferred pacifier being the sound of daddy’s voice reading one after another, not just at bedtime but anytime, those small but wide eyes reflecting the fact that she was somehow absorbing it all at such a tender age, subconsciously storing it for later.

Not that much later, it turned out. By age two she had begun to read and write, the signs of what was to come as clear as her insatiable appetite for more, graduating from See Spot Run and the like to desiring more substance. Remarkable was the word used by the adults in her life, including the teachers that at first glance thought she was too young for their class, but would then marvel when witnessing for themselves her ‘remarkable’ kinship to story.

It had fascinated the heck out of her when Amy had learned that she had been named after an actual character, her father deciding to test her comprehension of I Am the Cheese when she was only five. Right away she showed a fondness for its author, Robert Cormier.

One of the saddest moments of Amy’s childhood had come at the age of nine, when she had received The Rag and Bone Shop for her birthday. Finishing it in one afternoon, she had placed the literary treasure in her personal library, in the special Cormier section, then ran to find her father in his home office before jumping up on his lap and asking when he’d buy her the next book by their favorite author.

“There’s no more, sweetie” he had said with a gentle sorrow in his voice. “We have all of them.”

At first she looked as though she were going to cry, but then optimism brightened her face.

“When will he write a new book? Do you think he’ll have a book signing? Oh, daddy, can we please go?! We can write his publisher and ask when his next book is coming out!”

“Sweetie, Robert Cormier is no longer with us.”

Not really understanding what her father was saying, she wanted to correct him, to say of course he’s with us, in all the eighteen books they had of his. But then daddy broke her heart…

“He died, Amy, the year you were born.”

She immediately began to cry, the hurt in her tears being a million times harder than when she had first learned that the mythical characters of childhood were not real.

Eventually Amy learned to accept such sorrow and store it as wisdom, to draw from as a priceless asset when telling stories. Her father called it being in alignment with truth, and by completion of her senior year of high school, a full year ahead of her peers, her literary talent had prestigious colleges beckoning.

But it was Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts where she chose to attend, the alma mater of Robert Cormier. This had Amy on the complete opposite side of the United States from where she had always called home, having left her family in West Covina, California to achieve one of her biggest dreams.

Indeed Amy’s first trip back home for Christmas vacation had been a sentimental one, the week and a half of catching up having ended all too soon. But she had a job to return to, at a book store at a local mall, as well as preparing for the new semester, and so here she was on her layover at O’Hare, imagination taking her to the garden of story, where she planted a variety of seeds, of character, as she people watched.

But then Amy remembered one of the last things her father had said to her back at LAX. “Christmas isn’t quite over, baby girl. There’s something zipped up for you in the underside of your carry-on. But you gotta promise, no peeking until Chicago.”

With that same kind of excited glee she so dearly remembered feeling as a child Amy went for her bag and unzipped it. Inside the back pocket were two individually-wrapped gifts, each a soft bound book from what she could make of them. The slightly bigger of the two had a message saying Open Me First, and so she did.

A First Edition signed copy of I Am the Cheese.

She could do nothing but stare, eyes glazing, heart pounding.

Her hands were still shaking when she finally got to the second gift, carefully removing the wrapping paper like she had done with the first, like she had always done with gifts she knew to be books.

This one was a Reader’s Digest, dated the same year Amy was born. among its table of contents a piece written by her father. She had heard brief stories of this issue, of how it had been a turning point in his life as a struggling author, but she had never actually beheld a copy, daddy simply telling her he would share it when the time was right.

It was titled Tears of Opportunity, and with a hurry she turned to its page, careful not to wrinkle any before it.

When the grand doors of opportunity finally open, the pair of eyes that have beheld so many obstacles will now fill with emotional triumph, until one by one the tear drops will begin to fall.

Each will represent the strength it took in the face of adversity to continue to strive, continue to overcome. From the amount of rejection letters that could have wallpapered a thousand homes to the long fight involving everyday struggles…

…Looking at the name brands while having to pick up the generics…

…Acting like a customer at a fast food restaurant for a few packets of ketchup so as to add more flavor to the dry simple meals at home…

To hardship that is more painful on the heart…

Watching yet another scrape added to the many already inflicted on the inside of his wife’s engagement ring as they test its value each and every time when he has no choice but to pawn it…

…Promising her as they window shop, that one day they too will be like the privileged passersby, whose bags of cool gadgets and new clothes are not as out of reach as it seems. For the day that they are able to have pockets without holes and fun shiny devices is but right around the corner, or so he would have her believe as he fights to keep the flame of optimism alive. One that had been lit so many years ago during childhood when those who he had called teachers, mentors, had instilled in him the belief that one can accomplish anything they set their mind to.

A belief he still holds true despite the countless doors of opportunity having been slammed in his face., as it is not only for his own soul that he keeps hope alive, but more importantly for his beloved. That one day their perseverance will indeed pay off, their greatest dream coming to fruition. That yellow diamond Baby On Board sign. That priceless gift that will be the creation of their forever bonded love. This is what will make the tears flow even stronger than all the previous ones, for opportunity to provide with his passion, with his talent, will mean beating the hands of that ever-threatening nonstop biological clock, once and for all being able to afford to have the totality of love known as child.

And so these are tears he will not try to stifle, not try to wipe away, for they will be the tears of completing the hardest journey he has ever known. Tears of a soul reaching its purpose.

Tears for the gift of someone believing…

Someone allowing…

Someone supporting…

Tears of opportunity.

Amy’s eyes were full of tears of her own now, never having known the full extent of her parents’ past struggles.

She wanted to change her itinerary, get back on a plane to LAX, get back into the arms of the two who had given her so much. She could transfer schools, live at home, be close to the love she was now so far from.

But deep down she knew this was something she shouldn’t really do, for she was not only living her dream, but her father’s as well. She couldn’t throw away what they had been so excited about, what they had worked so hard for. Her accomplishment would be their accomplishment, and so she resolved to be strong, to do her absolute best, as this would be the best way to show her deep appreciation for them.

Amy took out a wet wipe and cleaned her face, then unpacked her laptop, logged on to the airport’s wifi, and began to do what she did best…

Write.

~