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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Bleeding Perseverance

What happens when a weekend warrior leaves the cushioned safety of his dojo & takes his skills out into the real world?

Welcome back, my wonderful readers!

What a scare factor October was, right?! Now that we’re in a new month I thought I’d start it with a reflection of one of today’s most pressing issues. We all hear of how such turmoil the world is in. ISIS, Syria, etc. It seems to never end, and yet there are so few heroes nowadays. Not to say EVERYONE should be one for EVERY cause, no, that’s just not possible. But we all can do a little heroic act every once in a while. Something as simple as showing a little support by following the blog of someone whose following their passion (hint…hint… Follow button is on bottom right of your screen) can do wonders!

This week we ponder those who possess the physical skills to help put a stop to conflict, and how it could help change the course of things if only implemented.

Shall we get started…:)

 

 t

Bleeding Perseverance

By

Rico Lamoureux

All Rights Reserved.

2016.

With only three years of training under his belt, yet a very diligent three years at that, seventeen-year-old Tobias was now fifth among the highest-ranking instructors at the dojo. It was a rather informal school, with the black belts who taught preferring to just be called by their first names. This included Philip, a mentor who was more like a father to Tobias than his biological one had ever been. It was a near perfect relationship, with the one discord being their belief in the role of the modern day Ninja.

Philip believed that the art had evolved to where it could bring about harmony through peaceful means. To put a stop to conflict with positive communication, while turning to violence only as a very last resort.

Although it was a wonderful idea, Tobias knew that reality painted a very different picture. The truth of the matter was, the world had more people willing to inflict unspeakable harm upon innocent lives for their own benefit than ever before. And for most of these darkened souls, their intent is so strong that any hope for reason is out of the question. That in order to truly bring about that peace and harmony, those who are fortunate enough to possess the martial skills of yesterday must use it today to help those in need.

Such a debate had recently taken place between the two. A string of ‘vigilante justice’ had made it onto the evening news, and it didn’t take long for Philip to figure out who was behind it. After a lengthy discussion, the young pupil realized he had no chance of changing his mentor’s perception and therefore obediently let the conversation end.

For weeks Tobias tried his best to abide by the rules of the dojo, but it was as if the universe had different plans for him. With no shortage of bullying and street violence often crossing his path, the guilt he felt for trying to ignore such injustice was infinitely stronger than what he felt for going against his teacher’s wishes. And so keeping as low of a profile as possible, the young warrior returned to his destined path of putting a stop to the conflicts which surrounded him.

Tobias’ hidden secret remained such for the next seven years before he found himself summoned to Philip’s office for a meeting among the head instructors. By now he held the third highest ranking in the training hall, with only Philip and Shidoshi Fukushima above him. As the eldest and the only Japanese among all the teachers, Fukushima was a vibrant seventy-years-old, giving the dojo a feeling of authenticity with his very presence.

Over the years, the five heads had turned into nine, forming somewhat of a council, with Philip acting as overseer. Although they had regular monthly meetings, this particular gathering felt a little different, and as it unfolded, proved such.

Philip started off with a variation of the lecture he was known for. His steadfast belief that the modern role of the Ninja was to bring peace through peaceful means, and that the blood that had been shed over the past two-thousand years of the art’s history had been more than enough, stressing the fact that he had worked over the past forty years to help bring that about.

He then turned his attention to the computer behind him, logged onto a video sharing site and proceeded to play a video entitled Real Life Ninja Delivers Justice to Street Thugs. Although Tobias had never seen nor heard of this video before, his nerves gave him a feeling of who would show up on the clip as they all waited for it to download.

A shaky frame started to pick up the action already in progress. Cloaked head to toe in the traditional and oftentimes copied black outfit, the Real Life Ninja took on a half dozen gang members at a darkened bus stop while at the same time shielding a teenage victim. Unaware he was being captured on video, the vigilante broke bones, shattered faces and tore ligaments. Devastating, but not fatal. After all, the young punks were nothing more than puppets at the hands of this skilled warrior. The video ended with some of the hoodlums dragging away the others and a bus arriving just in time to pick up the young victim, the Ninja having vanished when the camera panned back to find nothing but darkness.

Closing the window to the video site, Philip continued his lecture.

“Everyone has video cameras in their pockets nowadays, which is precisely why I have that sign out front preventing cellphones from entering this dojo. Fifty-thousand views and counting. Not only does this type of footage encourage such impressionable young minds to glorify violence, but it also gives the false sense of security that they too can go out there and do this, ignorant of the fact that these skills are a result of years of training. You’re like a son to me, Tobias, and like a frustrated father, I just don’t know how to get through to you.”

With some of the instructors shocked by the revelation that it was actually him on the video, Tobias stood to face his Shidoshi’s disappointment.

“As I’m sure you know in your heart, Shidoshi, not only do I feel such love for you as a father figure, but along with our martial art, I honestly credit you with saving the lives of me and my siblings. But all the gratitude in the world can’t change the fact that Ninjutsu was created for the purpose of bringing a stop to violent conflict by the superior use of both mind and body. To be used to protect those in need. I long for the day when your way will be the way that actually works, but all you have to do to verify we are nowhere near the enlightened world we wish to have is to simply turn on the news. Or walk right outside your front door and down the streets of the city you call home. The truth of the matter is, the world needs us now more than ever. And as long as there is such a need, I refuse to idly stand by and play weekend warrior while in the comforts of a cushioned dojo.”

With this hardened truth, all those in attendance felt a certain level of shame, including Philip, as Tobias continued with what needed to be said.

“If anything, we owe it to those who have come before us to keep the true essence of Ninjutsu alive. They did shed their blood, to ensure that the treasured teachings would continue to be passed on from one generation to the next, to actually be used, not mimed, in the service of protecting the weak and innocent. This is not to take away from those who have chosen a more passive approach with passing on the teachings. Many of you here have families, and I completely agree that you should not put yourselves, and possibly your loved ones, in harm’s way. Our roles in this art are just as diverse as the problems out there that need to be resolved. And so we should be working with each other, utilizing these attributes each of us offer to their fullest. Only then are we truly honoring the essence of Ninjutsu. And as far as encouraging the young and impressionable…

“When their only other realistic option is to either be victims of, or infatuated with, gang members, drug dealers, pimps, and any other scum-of-the-earth trash imposing their will in these kids’ own backyards, I can only hope that the exposure of my actions will lead to at least a few of these young people taking the steps to seek us out. Where it is then our responsibility as those who have inherited this great art, to welcome them, guide them, and train them as the next generation of warriors to continue the tradition of putting those in need above ourselves.

“Now if I’m the only one here who believes this, with the utmost of respect, it is now time for me to say goodbye.”

Silence filled the office…

Until Shidoshi Fukshima rose from his seat and headed for Tobias while removing his tenth-degree black belt. He then lowered himself to bended knee, presenting his ranking in the art to the young warrior with a version of the Japanese bow that was reserved for honoring only at the highest level.

One by one the others followed suit, and when all seven of the black belts were at the feet of Tobias their head Shidoshi walked over to his desk, removed a displayed sword from the wall, and presented it to his young protégé in the same fashion as the instructors had done with the items that had represented their time in Ninjutsu.

The katana was half as old as the art itself, and everyone in that office understood the significance of what had just occurred, including Tobias, who now had a few tears in his eyes as a result. The antique sword had been given to Philip by the grandmaster, and by passing it on to this young warrior it meant that Tobias was now the head Shidoshi of this particular dojo.

With mixed emotions, nothing could have been further from Tobias’ true intentions of just wanting to help those who couldn’t defend themselves. But declining such an offer would have been highly disrespectful, so the young divine warrior accepted his new role as head Shidoshi, while at the same time continuing to stay active in his pursuits of bringing order to chaos.

Tobias was not the only one who had such an honor bestowed upon him at such a young age. The current grandmaster had been chosen as successor by the previous while barely in his thirties, despite the fact of there being quite a number of candidates much older than he. This was an art based on truth, not seniority, and in this case, the young leader was the embodiment of such truth.

After a formal ceremony and an official certification coming out of Japan, Tobias Montgomery now held the title of Shihan. With the exception of three new additions to the dojo, he chose to keep his predecessor’s set-up the same. The first change came about as a result of a suggestion by his council. That an ‘urban combat’ class be added to the black belt curriculum, with of course Tobias being the instructor, as he was the only one who actually possessed the real-life experience of putting the art’s teachings to the test. The other two additions came from the new Shihan himself. One, a class that would focus solely on mikkyo, Ninjutsu’s mind science, to ensure the balance of training. And two, that the dojo put on a monthly fundraiser, the proceeds of which would go towards helping those who wanted to train in the art but could not afford to, as well as having some funds set aside for what Tobias referred to as ‘protection insurance’. Which, in other words, meant money that might be needed when putting a stop to conflict.

~

Although this short story can stand alone in its message, which is why I chose to post it here, it is actually part of a longer journey, from my critically-acclaimed novella.

bp

“WOW. Bleeding Perseverance was such a thought provoking read. It’s a short read but extremely enthralling. I didn’t want to put it down to pick my kids up from school, It was very tempting to just keep reading and be damned with the consequences. No doubt earning “Worst Mother of the Year Award”… But I have only just gotten rid of that award, so I had to put it down. 😉

This book was written so well it deserves to be judged fairly. It brought to light all the terrible things that happen around in other countries, that we don’t always get to see. And for that I would give it 6 stars if it was allowed. I’d like to thank Mr Lamoureux for sharing this story with the world.”

-Aimie Jennison, author and Goodreads member

Bleeding Perseverance

Available at:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/620240