As I approach
my fortieth year,
I have been
studying my body
for signs of change.
I have been wondering:
Have I lived enough?
Have I strived on with courage?
Have I embraced my life?
I look down at everything
that makes up my body,
that has marked a moment
in my life, a memory
preserved upon my skin.
On my right wrist,
there is a marking
shaped like a scar
to remind me
that we can overcome
what scars us.
There is a marking
on my left wrist
which reminds me
that some deaths are not physical
and those too can be overcome.
It carries within it
one of my happiest memories,
so close to actual magic that
it still thrills me,
that moment when
I became a real wizard
and learned to fly.
There is a spot near my left nostril
that carries the sharp scent
of the pink lemonade
that my grandmother used to make for me.
There is a scar on my right knee
from when I went zip lining
in the congo of Costa Rica
and I can still hear the rush of wind
when I run my finger along it.
Along the curve of my lips,
there is the memory
of saying ‘I do’ to my husband;
along the edge of my right ear
is the sound of him saying the same.
Words cover my skin,
quotes from books that have stayed with me
throughout the years, written in
a cursive script, as if they were written
on the moment that I read them:
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live…”
“Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”
“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.”
“Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t you think?”
“Evil, however powerful it seemed, could be undone by its own appetite.”
I find each quote
at its beginning and
trace my fingers
over the words to their end.
I hold all of this within in my skin,
a patchwork of time passed
and time yet to come.
Looking down at my body
and everything it contains,
I know that I’ve lived,
that I am courageous and have strength
and that I have embraced life and everything
that it has to offer
to the fullest.
As I approach
my fortieth year,
I look at
my body and
wonder what else
life has in store…
“Tell me the story again, papa.” Chloe pointed to the trinkets that he kept on the shelf behind the cash register. “The one about the earring.”
They were seated in his tobacco shop and the last customer had left. The bell still rang every now and again, but her papa said that this place was haunted. She breathed deeply, and the mingled scents of the tobacco was like perfume to her.
“You want to hear that again? I’ve told you that tale over a hundred times. There are lots of other trinkets there.” He said, giving her a smile and gesturing to the other treasures: a little toy car with only one passenger, a woman’s compact mirror that was made of pearl; a necklace that was made of the brightest jade.
“No, papa, the story about the earring. Please? It’s the loveliest.”
Looking into her bright blue eyes, he knew that it was the only tale that would soothe her. “All right love, but another story tomorrow night, okay?”
“Well, there was once a woman that ran this very shop with her husband. Lacey was very beautiful and very sad. She had hair as red as fire and eyes as bright as emeralds. Lacey was sad because her husband and her daughter were lost at sea. She was always clutching an earring. She had given the other one to her husband so that, if they were lost, it would call them home to her.”
“That’s sad, papa. Did it work?” Chloe asked.
“Well, when Lacey was not working the store, she wandered at the edge of the water for days and weeks, hoping against hope that they would come back to her. She heard many tales from the other villagers of what had happened to their ship: a group of pirates had taken the boat, it had been led astray by a group of sirens, it had entered into a fog, never to be seen again.”
“What did happen, papa?”
“Lacey continued to wait. She pined for her husband and was a mix of hope and sadness both at the same time. She had waited for so long and the anguish had wasted her away. Lacey was no longer the young woman she had been. Still, she waited for her husband and child.”
“That’s sad, papa. I don’t like this part.” Chloe said softly.
“It’s all right poppet, it’s almost over. Lacey was very old now, so old that her bones creaked like the sea when she moved. One day, she felt her life seeping out of her. She sat here, behind the counter where you and I are now. As her last breath left her, she saw two spirits come through the door of her shop. At long last, it was her husband and daughter and they came to her side. She was overjoyed to see them, even though she could not touch them. Her hand moved right through them. Lacey let her last breath leave her and left her body, finally able to join the man and child that she had lost so long ago.”
Chloe gave her father a bright smile. “That’s lovely, papa.”
They heard the tinkling of the bell again and turned to see who it might be…
* * *
Anna opened the shop door, Stephen close behind her.
They both saw the earring floating through the air and the outlines of two people, a man and a girl upon his lap, before they faded away like smoke.
Turning to Stephen, Anna said “See? Didn’t I tell you that this place was haunted?”
Stephen walked into the centre of the tobacco shop and picked up the ear ring that had fallen to the floor with a soft click. He held it in the palm of his left hand. “It’s so cold.” He said. He handed it to Anna who put it back on the shelf with the other trinkets: a little toy car, a woman’s compact and a necklace.
“Why do you keep those things? Why don’t you just get rid of them?”
Anna shrugged. “The store belonged to my great grandmother.” She held the other earing in her palm, almost entranced by its bright blue stone. “It’s funny, but I feel so connected to her, especially with these earrings.” She made a face. “I know, I’m being silly.”
“No, not silly.” Stephen said. “Family is everything.”
* * *
Anna woke later that night.
The wind was loud tonight. It whistled outside of the apartment window. She lived over the shop. It was a fair-sized place and she owned the building. Sometimes, she could hear the laughter of a child within the walls of this place, the sound of a soft lullaby being sung to a child.
Unable to sleep, she walked downstairs to the tobacco shop. She went right to the trinkets and the earrings that lay there. Even in the darkness, they seemed to glow. Entranced, she held them for a moment and then put them on.
She rummaged around in one of the drawers and found an old hand mirror. Turning the mirror face up, Anna went to look at herself and let out a small sound of shock. There was another face looking back at her in the mirror.
Anna moved her mouth and so did the other woman in the mirror. She was frightened now. She touched her face but did not see a hand in the mirror.
“I’m so sorry.” The woman in the mirror said. “Family is everything.”
Anna knew a moment of pure bliss and then she was gone.
* * *
Wearing the skin of another, Lacey called out to the shadows. “Hector? Chloe?” She said. “You can come out now. Mama’s home.”
The spirits came at her call and she held out her arms wide.
Family is everything.
Oh, happy day! I have a new book out!
Here’s a little bit about Hallowed: The Elementals Book One
The world has moved on. A virus wiped out most of the Earth’s population and only a handful of people survived. Percy is one of those survivors. After getting a fever, he survived with only a red mark on his arm. When another man knocks on his door with the same mark on his arm, Percy has no idea how crazy his world is about to become…
You can get your copy here:
This is the first of five books in The Elementals Series. The books follow the stories of survivors of the plague…and what they can do to bring life back to the planet. Each of the books focuses on a different couple from that group of survivors. This is Percy and Colin’s story.
A little bit of a side note: originally, the mark that Percy has on his arm was supposed to be the Deathly Hallows. I’ve worked all kinds of book references into this novel and the next four books as well. All the names are from Harry Potter characters, or variations of those names.
I thought it would be kind of cool to have only the book loving geeks survive an apocalypse. The Geeks will inherit the Earth, after all. That was the original idea, however, during edits, I had to change what was tattooed on Percy’s arm, which in turn changed the series slightly, thankfully for the better.
If you read Hallowed: The Elementals Book One, I truly hope you enjoy it. You can get your copies here:
Stay tuned for more news!
You are my Penguin,
helping me step across
difficult terrain and
making sure my every step
You are my Beaver,
and together we have
built a home that weathers
every storm. You give me
You are my Swan,
and you have helped me
to look into the water
and into myself to know
You are my Wolf,
standing by me as we
venture through the dark forest,
showing me that there is nothing
You are my Goose,
helping me to fly beyond
all that I thought possible,
and to achieve
These animals all share
a bond that lasts
for life just as we do,
taking each moment that we share
as the gift that it is.
You are my gift,
Husband, Lover, Friend;
You are everything that
I’ve dreamed of
I am so
Recently, under new progressive conservative leadership, the province of Ontario has reverted back to a sexual education program that has not been taught since the 1980’s. I normally don’t get involved in stuff like this, but if we don’t use our voice, we lose it.
I’ve sent the letter to Lisa Thompson. I don’t expect a reply, but at the very least I’ve had my say.
Dear Lisa Thompson,
I was horrified to hear that the sexual education curriculum would be reverting from its current inclusive structure to favour the older, non-inclusive style of teaching. As a gay man, I find this very disappointing.
When I was taught sexual education, I already knew that I was gay. I knew from a very young age that I preferred boys instead of girls, only I wasn’t given the words or the knowledge of who I was until many years later.
My sexual education focused on heterosexual intercourse. There was nothing about being gay or lesbian, trans or queer. We were not taught about consent or same sex marriage. We weren’t taught about bullying or body shaming. We were taught none of that.
I remember when sexual education was started. I was in grade five and I was ten years old. I had already known for two years that I was a homosexual. I already knew that I was different from the other kids.
During one class, one of my other classmates put up their hand and asked about two women or two men being together. I was amazed at her bravery. I had been quaking to ask about two men, but I had not been courageous enough. The teacher very politely and gently told her that this was wrong, that a woman should only be with a man. That was the extent of sexual education about myself as a child.
As I grew, the world changed around me. Gay marriage became legal and there were a plethora of other genders and sexual identities that came to light. Even as an almost forty-year-old man, I am learning about them and what those genders and sexual identities mean. Are we to deny our kids the same right to that knowledge?
With knowledge comes power. Reverting to the old sexual education system only makes sure that they will not have that knowledge. They will know nothing of consent, gender identity, gender-based violence, homophobia. Under the old education system, the children will not even learn about the legalization of homosexuality and the celebration that this was. It is as if you are asking me to hide who I am once more like I did when I was eight years old.
The world can be a dark place sometimes and it’s up to us to arm our children with the light that will see through the dark. I implore you to arm children with the knowledge that they should have in this world. For with that knowledge, they have the power.
Thank you for your time,