Wednesday, December 1, 2021

DECEMBER...A MAGICAL MONTH INDEED! AN IWSG POST... AND ... NARCISSUS- A WEP ENTRY

 

Happy December, Everyone!

Once again, it is time for another IWSG post! I am so happy to remember it is so early this month. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and the IWSG team for their loyalty and many hours of helping others with their writing and their insecurities. If you would like to join our group, please visit here.

I just LOVE this time of year. One can smell and feel the magic in the air around us. Many of us are frosted in a winter wonderland while others are in sub-tropical weather decorating palm trees into candy canes! 

So far we in NW IL are snow-free with beautiful autumn weather. Perfect for decorating the exterior of our homes without freezing to death. At least, that is my plan for this weekend. 

The holiday season is also a time to gather with family and close friends. Sadly, this year with a new variant of Covid many people will be apart from their loved ones. But, don't despair, we can still have gatherings via Skype and Facetime. It is certainly not as good, but you can still bake together, have a drink, and celebrate with one another.

I know many get anxious over the holidays because they can't find or afford the right gifts. The holiday isn't about going bankrupt or stressing out, it is a time for LOVE. One thing we did learn from this dreaded disease is that we must appreciate what we have and the special people in our lives. So put on your favorite holiday music, BAKE up some scrumptious goodies, sit by the fire, if you have one, if not, bath your home in candlelight. It's amazing how a few candles create such a soothing and beautiful ambiance. Perhaps, create a new holiday favorite drink... Mix ANYTHING with a bit of rum, cherries, cranberries, orange slices, and cinnamon. It doesn't take much to feel the magic. 

When I was in Colorado last week, I found this absolutely LOVELY bookstore. Yes, they still exist! I found the most charming items inside. Since I don't have children, I never had a copy of "Twas The Night Before Christmas." I found the most beautifully illustrated copy and treated myself to it. I can think of no other story to relax us into such a festive season. I just may read it to my fur baby, Hamlet ... Why not? I could start a new tradition!. I am sure there are many pet parents who may enjoy reading to their beloved fur children... I found in my experience reading out loud does have a major calming effect. 

I would also like to take this time to wish every one of you a Happy, HEALTHY, and Prosperous Holiday season. Enjoy your quiet time and be a peace. We all deserve peace after such a turbulent year.

Sending healing and warm hugs to you all~




And now, the final entry to this year's WEP entry of how Art inspires us... Please visit the others stories at the WEP website!





Tagline: Beauty is literally in the eye of the beholder...


In a forest glen, a sun-kissed waterfall twinkles and cascades over jagged rocks into a tranquil sapphire pool. Twin nymphs and several fairies glide along the surface, dancing to an unheard song. 


A flaxen-haired youth approaches and smiles a smile so captivating; the sisters stare at the handsome stranger. With each one of his steps the fairies sigh and beckon to him.


Curious, the flawless, blue-eyed naiads and several sparkling winged fairies edge the mirror-like pond. They flirt for the young man’s attention as he heads toward them. In a voice that can charm a spider into giving up flies, he introduces himself and asks about the exquisite beauty before him. 


“I have never laid eyes on such a heart-stopping scene.”


Swooning, the mystical ladies are awestruck. He meanders around the water’s edge, kneels, and gazes into pond. The stillness of the clear, blue water reflects every breathtaking detail.


Mesmerized, he stares into the liquid mirror. His breath escapes him. 


“Could this exquisite image be of me?” he whispers. 


The fairies zip over to him and tug at his hair, sleeves, and back. 


Ignoring them, he continues staring into his turquoise eyes framed by long, thick lashes. 


Hissing buzzes in his ears followed by assaults to his face. He swats his hand, making contact with several fairies who hit the ground hard. The others pick up the injured and fly away. 


Hungry and thirsty, he reaches into his canvas bag and takes out food and drink. Nourished, he stretches out and falls asleep.



Hours later, the luminous water nymphs return. They place beside him a goblet made of etched gold filled with sweet nectar. Clasping hands, they sink into the crystalline depths of the pond.


The warmth of the morning sun awakens the youth. Stretching, he sits up and notices the goblet. “How thoughtful.” He raises the cup. “To this enchanting place.” He takes a deep sip and an unnatural compulsion to view his image overwhelms him...


After three days of admiring his reflection, he passes. The fairies gather around him, tears flowing from their eyes. They sprinkle his body with glittering opalescent dust as the nymphs rise from the water, singing, their lyrical voices chanting their sorrow. 


A light breeze caresses the youth’s body and he dissolves into the earth in silence. 


The fairies gather as a burst of bright light and long spikes of emerald shoot from the ground. 


Between each spear, a delicate stem rises. A pearl-like bud forms and blossoms into the first Narcissus. Thousands more yellow and white trumpets announce their arrival and blanket the edge of the pond. A subtle scent perfumes the air as the fairies take flight.


The twins emerge and pick several blooms gently placing them in their hair. Once more, they begin to dance to an unheard song and the fairies follow suit…


All is tranquil forevermore.





Friday, November 5, 2021

TOTALLY SPACED IWSG ON WEDNESDAY....



Hi, All


I am so sorry I spaced posting on Wednesday. Getting ready to leave town soon and I just didn't realize the date. 

I hope everyone is enjoying this lovely Fall weather. I know many are doing NaNo this month and I wish you ALL the best with your writing. No time to think about insecurities, just keep writing!

Wishing you all a SAFE and MEANINGFUL Thanksgiving! I know I am grateful and thankful for so much despite the trials and tribulations of our pandemic lives.

Sending you all virtual hugs! 

Stay safe and see you next month.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

THE SCREAM'S CONCLUSION ... A WEP ENTRY AND POST.

 

Hi All,


AS promised, here is the conclusion from my SCREAM entry for the WEP. 

We left off as Kimmie is mysteriously pushed through a tattered curtain...


And then, a dusty wind swirled around me as if conjured up by some strange dark force; it swept me through the curtain, my silent scream following.



A bright flame blinded me. Someone grabbed me by the arm and pulled me onto a shaky wooden bridge. Human sweat, burnt incense, and animal feces assaulted my nose. I tried to catch my breath and choked.


I lost my footing—the broad man, robed in white, vise-gripped my arm and stopped me from falling. His face hid within a hood. 


I mustered up as much saliva in my mouth as I could and swallowed hard. After sucking in a much-needed breath, I cried out, “Who are you? And where’s my mother!”


He remained silent.


As my eyes adjusted, pinpoints of flames darted through what looked like a skeletal wooded area. The chants grew louder as the drums beat out a harsh rhythm. I had no idea what was happening. 


My silent guide loosened his grip and shuffled me off the bridge. Shrieks from a group of women, dancing in a tight circle around a tree, sent shivers throughout my body. I trembled with each step. 


As we drew nearer, I saw him: the voodoo priest. He was about twenty feet away from me. He scattered handfuls of a light golden powder around the tree’s base and then drew something in the powder with his witch doctor’s stick. From his other hand, he poured a honey-colored liquid around the powder’s edge and muttered some strange incantation. I pulled my gaze away from him and searched for my mother and Antoine through a sea of dozens of white-clad Haitians. 


Was that her? A small group of disciples chanted and danced around a large seated person holding some squirming animal. Their bodies shifted, and I was able to see the face of the woman.


“Mommy!” I shrieked. 


The grip on my arm tightened.  


Everything was a blur of white, swirling within the orange flames of the torches and gray shadows. The voodoo priest maneuvered through his disciples as if floating between them. The pounding drums beat a quick, sporadic rhythm. He stopped in front of my mother and held out his arms. 


Mommy jerked into a kneeling position. Her face twisted in horror as her trembling hands held up a baby white goat. 


The voodoo priest called out in guttural tones, as he withdrew a large machete from under his robe. In one swift movement, he slit the goat’s throat. Blood gushed, spraying Mommy and himself with fresh blood. The chants turned into an eerie singing, and it grew louder as the disciples stepped closer to him. 


He first smeared the goat’s blood on Mommy’s head. She tried to recoil, but the disciple behind pushed her forward. He slapped more blood on her face and shoulders. I stared in shock. Never had I seen my mother so terrified. There was no color left in her face, only the fresh blood that glistened from the torchlight. She fell to her knees as her tears mingled with the blood. 


I tried to run, but the hooded man kept me pinned in place. 


Antione was nowhere in sight. Mommy was alone and helpless. 


I struggled to break free. We began to move slowly in the direction of the voodoo priest. Was I to be defiled with the goat’s blood, too? My stomach roiled.


One-by-one, the disciples stepped over Mommy, waiting for their turn for the sacrificial blood. Their sing-songy chant continued as if she wasn’t in front of them. She didn’t move. Fear surged through me as I had never felt. 


I went limp. 


The hooded man dragged me further toward the ceremony. My throat constricted.


We stopped next to a small tree where he released me and withdrew a corded rope from within the folds of his robe. Not one word crossed his lips. He reached out both his hands, fists together. The gesture clearly stated for me to do the same. I tried to run, but he was too fast. He caught and tied me to the tree. 


We locked eyes, and I screamed. 


But not even I could hear it. 


I tried to break free, but the binding was too tight. 


The hooded man headed toward the ritual, parting the disciples as he walked up to the sacrificial site. 


He stood between my mother and the voodoo priest, then dropped his hood. 


The High Priest froze.


The man flipped the hood back over his head. He bent slightly, stretched out his muscular arms, and pulled Mommy to her feet. She looked up into his face. Her stunned expression dissolved; as she parted her lips, one word escaped them, but I couldn’t hear it.


He nodded, then guided her in my direction. 


“Mommy! Mommy! Are you all right?” I held my breath.


Her head jerked, and she saw me. For the first time in what seemed like hours, she smiled.


She raced to the back of the tree and untied me. “Kimmie. Let’s get out of here!”


We followed the hooded man back down the side of the voodoo priest’s house and made it to the street. After rushing down three or four side streets, we stopped in front of a large black limo. I recognized it at once.


“Get in quickly,” Zaxai said as he unlocked the doors.


***


The next morning, Zaxai drove us to the airport. No one spoke. Which kind of surprised me. I didn’t want to push Zaxai. He did save our lives, but I still had some unanswered questions. How did he know I’d be coming out from behind that curtain? Why did the voodoo priest fear him so? What was Uncle Sid’s involvement with all of this? And, the most important one of all, whatever happened to Antoine? We never did see him again. 


I guess some mysteries are best unsolved—especially the whereabouts of a certain waiter named Antoine. 


One would think Mommy’s fascination with the occult would have ended here. No such luck. This was just the beginning…




Well, I hope you enjoyed the exciting conclusion!!! If you are just stopping by today, please advance to the post above to read the first segment.


If you haven't guessed, Zaxai, is Mommy Kay's uncle chauffer and righthand man. He saved them from THE VOODOO KING...

Thursday, October 21, 2021

THE SCREAM.... A WEP ENTRY! MOMMY KAY STRIKES AGAIN....


 Hi All,

It is time for another WEP challenge! Woot! The ladies at the WEP are amazing hosting these challenges throughout the year...my hat's off to you all! This October's theme is THE SCREAM!

So appropriate, don't you think?
There are some incredible entries this month, so I do hope you plan to visit the other authors at the WEP site, who put their talents to the test. You will not be disappointed.


My entry is an excerpt from my current work in progress MOMMY KAY. If you recall, I had submitted an early snippet a few years back from this memoir for the ROADS LESS TRAVELED prompt and won! If you have the time and would like to familiarize yourself with more of Mommy Kay here is the link.

Before you read my entry, I'd like to give you a bit of backstory. Mommy Kay and her daughter, Kim are visiting the impoverished Island of Haiti in the early 70s, the week after the Dictator, "Papa Doc" Duvalier died and his son was newly sworn in as President for Life. 

During their visit to Haiti, Kim mainly stayed inside the hotel. Mommy Kay would be gone for hours at a time. She was up to something, and Kim knew what it was. Mommy Kay had a new obsession. She wanted to experience a Haitian Voodoo ritual. 


I hope you enjoy this little teaser at 997 words.

The now, fifteen-year-old Kimmie tells the story...she didn't want any part of this trip, but Mommy ALWAYS got her way. 



Helplessness wasn’t an emotion familiar to me. For the first time in my life, Mommy wasn’t there. The walls in our suite seemed to press in on me from all four sides. The next few hours dragged as if carrying them on my back. 


The door slammed. 


“Kimmie,” Mommy called out.


A moment later she entered my room, wearing what looked liked white bedsheets. A turban covered her head.


“Put this on.” She dropped a bundle of the same white sheeting onto the bed. “We must blend in.”


I slipped on clothing and wrapped up my head in a similar turban.


“Fantastic. You’re so tan—you’ll pass for a native.”


“I wish I can say the same about you— you’re as white as that sheeting. You’ll never blend in.”


“Oh, stop worrying and try to have a good time.” 


Mommy stepped over to the dresser and stuffed a wad of cash inside her bra. “Antoine should be here soon.” 


“The sun is sinking fast. When do we leave?”


“As soon as it’s dark, around six o’clock. He’s meeting us at the back of the hotel by the kitchen entrance.”


Mommy paced a few minutes, then glanced out the window. “It’s time.”


My heart skipped a beat.


The hotel seemed eerily quiet. We met no one on the elevators, or at the back entrance.


Antoine was waiting for us in a beat-up jalopy. “Welcome my friends, ” he said with a slight quiver.


Mommy sat next to him in the front seat, and I slid into the back. Next to me was a large bottle of rum and a box of Cuban cigars. Antoine accelerated and off we went into the night. The twitchy manner in which he drove didn’t help the situation. Sweat beaded on my face.


“Where exactly are we going, Antoine?” I asked after a long pause of silence.


“Porte au Prince.”


“I figured that. Where exactly?”


He didn’t answer.


We drove on the main road and arrived downtown. The stench from the garbage in the streets barely masked the musky smell of human sweat and the lingering of cooked food. Several people sat on the sidewalks outside their front doors; their haughty expressions watched us as we drove by. We turned up a side street. At the top of the hill, we stopped abruptly. 


“We get out here,” Antoine whispered.


“Kimmie, bring the rum and cigars. They’re presents for the High Priest.”


My shaky hands gathered them up, and I exited the car. Antoine and Mommy stopped, facing a peeling red door.


“We go in here.” Antoine turned the handle.


He entered.


Mommy followed with her head lowered. I wondered what she was feeling. She moved normally; however, my legs shook as I stepped inside the dimly lit room. Flickering candles from a ceiling chandelier created dark shadows that performed a savage dance on the rough stained walls. 


Hundreds of scattered bones, entrails, and piles of white feathers littered the floor. A pungent smell of years of decay, Cajun incense, and dried blood loomed heavily in the air.


I dug my fingers into Mommy’s fleshy arm. “Are you sure about this?” I whispered and pointed to a glistening section of a fragmented wall. “That looks like fresh blood.”


“Yes, I see it.” She shrugged away her arm.


Antoine moved a few paces ahead of us.


“It’s time.” He pointed his finger up. “Follow me.” 


 Unidentified things squelched under our feet as we made our way toward a staircase at the back of the room. Antoine disappeared in a sea of creaks as he ascended. Mommy followed, squeezing between the walls of the narrow entrance. It was my turn now. I sucked in a deep breath and held it. 


Thump, thump, thump, pounded inside of my head as I climbed each of the rickety stairs. My heart threatened to tear away from my chest. 


Mommy’s breathing increased as we turned up the next flight. 


Then the next.


As we confronted the final flight, she stopped, clutching her heaving chest. “I-I need to catch my breath—go—a-head, Kim-mie.”


“No way.”


“Go—”


Antoine stared down at us. “We must not keep him waiting.” His voice cracked.


I stepped over Mommy and continued climbing. My legs grew heavy as if hundred-pound weights were attached to them. Mommy’s stomping feet and raspy breaths kept up with my slower pace.


At the top, hundreds of candles flickered in the room. Beams of moonlight filtered through the five large open windows. A soft chanting and a distant drumbeat played, as a two-story shadow appeared across a fraying, sheer drape.


Mommy stepped into the room, panting.


“He is in our presence. Keep silent until he addresses you,” Antoine whispered.


A massive figure stepped out of the shadows. Yellow light glinted off a jewel-encrusted medallion and rows of heavy gold chains. His frame cloaked in black robes stood rigid, and on top of his head sat an elaborate plumed headdress.


The whites of his eyes shone through midnight blue-black skin. 


“I know what you seek. Leave your offerings.”


I couldn’t move. His terrifying presence nailed me to the floor. 


Antoine pried the rum and cigars from my fingers and bowed, placing the offerings at his feet.


A split second later, he disappeared.


“We must follow him,” Antoine said, as he took hold of Mommy’s arm and dragged her through the drape.


I was convinced Antoine planned to have us sacrificed. And me, still a virgin. How appropriate. The beating drums grew louder and more sporadic. Or was it my heart? I wasn’t quite sure.


“Come, Kimmieeeee!” Mommy’s voice echoed through the rising of the heretic chants.


I willed myself to move. My left foot slid a few inches, followed by my body. 


And then, a dusty wind swirled around me as if conjured up by some strange dark force. It swept me through the curtain, my silent scream following.




Tagline: A tied-up Kimmie awaits her fate, as drums keep beating while her captor approaches a tear-stained Mommy, preparing a sacrifice for the Voodoo King.




I hope you enjoyed this teaser. For all of you LEFT hanging, I will post the remainder of the scene in a few days after the link closes... That is the least I can do. Have a Wonderful Weekend everyone!





Wednesday, October 6, 2021

A NEW SEASON WITH NEW HOPES... AN IWSG POST...

 

Hi All!

It's October! Yay! Fall is starting and the leaves are turning. It is my favorite time of year. The temps drop to a comfortable level, and I am back outside walking again. 

Once again, thanks to the INCREDIBLE IWSG team and the founder, Alex J. Cavanaugh If you aren't a member yet, please hop over to Alex's sign-up sheet here.

I have learned so much this past year about patience and keeping a positive attitude. Many times it wasn't an easy task, but with each day, I kept reading and writing between house projects. NOW, the exterior of my house is FINALLY complete and I have spent the past three weeks querying like a madman. This is a taxing chore for every writer. Each query must be adjusted to fit the needs of the agent. I found myself spending time writing a synopsis (we all know how much fun that is, HA!), doing a table of contents for one agent (Odd), and rewriting my bio several times. I have sent out about twenty query's for my current story and sadly I have received about eight rejections so far. I have also been querying my second novel as well, and have received two rejections so far. Will I give up? Hardly. Those of you who know me, know, I NEVER GIVE UP. lol But, we all get down and depressed during this process. I certainly do, and it takes every ounce of energy for me to continue. 

I have also written two entries for the IWSG anthology and entered a personal essay into the Writer's Digest contest. So, I have pulled myself out of a two-year slump. I have high hopes for this fall, although the pandemic has taken its toll on me and on so many people I know. I am finally leaving my house for a vacation next month after almost two years of seclusion. The Colorado Rockies should be amazing next month with a dusting of snow, and I am so looking forward to exploring them. A writer must "air" out their brains with new sights, sounds, and smells. Coming back, I know I'll be refreshed and ready to continue my quest.

My advice to all this season is to sweep away all the old cobwebs and reacquaint yourself with mother earth. So much of our earth is changing and being a part of that change will help us evolve with the changing times we are all experiencing.

Please keep safe my friends and may this new season bring you new hope. Sending all of you a virtual hug!


Wednesday, September 1, 2021

SEPTEMBER...FALL IS ON THE WAY! AN IWSG POST...


 Hi All


Welcome to another IWSG post! I almost forgot today was the first Wednesday of the month. I always seem to space posting when Wednesday falls so early in the month.


Thanks to our founder Alex J. Cavanaugh, we writers get to voice our insecurities and offer advice to our community. For me, it has been a WONDERFUL experience and for those writers who are not a member yet, you can sign up here.


Just a reminder; today is the last day to submit your FIRST LOVE short story into the IWSG anthology. I am very happy to say, that I had submitted TWO... keeping my fingers crossed that one of mine will be selected this year. What an honor that would be!  


I am happy to say, that my writing has definitely been on the move. I wrote two short stories this past month, and I am querying my latest narrative non-fiction. Several rejects so far, but I plan to keep on submitting. I hope ONE agent will find it compelling. As we all know, the querying process is a very tedious one. But, I am hopeful. For the next month, I plan to rewrite several chapters of my first novel and begin submitting that. I love this story and have yet to find a home for it. So maybe, it needs another major rehaul before an agent/publisher is interested. If not, I will self-publish it before Christmas. IT is TIME for me to get my work out into the public eye. It has been a long and grueling journey for me. Life, quite often, got in my way. It still does, but I am making time for writing again. My exterior home restoration should be completed by the end of September...it has already been postponed twice. Anyone relying on contractors these days will understand the frustration of dealing with them. It is SAD, that people no longer take pride in their work and are only out to make a quick buck. 


Well, I am glad that my insecurities this month are intact, and I am finally seeing my accomplishments both in my writing and in my renovation. 


Wishing you all a wonderful September! Mums are in bloom now and it is time to get ready for Fall... YAY! Stay safe everyone!

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

SUMMER IS IN FULL SWING ... MAKING TIME FOR WRITING, AN IWSG POST...

 

Hi All, 


Welcome to another IWSG Post! It is amazing how quickly this year has passed. Summer is in full swing and we only have another month or so before my favorite season comes to play.

Thanks to Alex and the IWSG team, we get to air our insecurities and offer help to others who are having a rough time. If you would like to join, please pop over to Alex's blog here.

Many people are spending a great deal of time outdoors these days and most likely are putting off their writing. This summer, I have actually spaced my time. It works. I do whatever needs to be done with the rehab of my house until about noon. After a quick cleanup, I head straight for my computer. These days it is all about finding a new home for my present novel, MOMMY KAY.  I research agents and send out about five queries. This can take me a few hours, but I feel as though I have accomplished a great deal. Afterward, I catch up on some reading. Writers forget HOW IMPORTANT it is to read. This is a luxury for many of us and we manage to put it off. A writer has to read to get our creative juices flowing. I have been in a writer's funk for far too long as I am sure many of you have, too. With so much pressure in our pandemic lives, we lose track of ourselves and our creativity. 

There is also a new anthology brewing at the IWSG and I will be starting a new piece for it this week. We have until Sept 1, 2021, to enter our submissions. 


Genre – sweet romance, theme – first love. See the site for details. Not my specialty, but I am ready to give it a whirl...

Here is the definition of romance from the RWA...

Definition: 

Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending. A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel. An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love. 

So, why not give it a try.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and PLEASE stay SAFE.



Wednesday, June 16, 2021

THE GREAT WAVE.... A WEP JUNE 2021 CHALLENGE!


 Hi All,

I hope everyone is well. Today is special because I have finally written something NEW. YAY! I have been in such reclusion from the blogosphere and the world in general. But now I am ready to resubmerge with a new flash fiction piece for the WEP!

It has been TOO long since I have written something for the WEP, and I am delighted that I can finally do so now. Thanks to all the lovely ladies of the WEP, ( Denise Covey, Yolanda Renee, LG Keltner, Nilanjana Bose, and Olga Godim, and a special thanks to Nick Wilford-Judge), writers get a chance to post original flash fiction, poetry, photography, or anything creative that features the prompt: This month... the GREAT WAVE. There is still time to post for this prompt. You have until June 18th. Here is the link to the WEP.

My flash fiction was inspired by a trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico several years ago. I visited the Castillo San Filip del Moro (El Morro), the fortress that was built between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries to guard San Juan Bay against pirate invasions. While exploring the fortress, I was amazed at how massive the stone fortress was, but also how cramped it was for the soldiers. I learned from the guide that almost all the soldiers were young teenage boys and very tiny to be able to fit into guard stations called, garitas. When writing my piece, I imagined myself as a scared teenage boy on guard duty in the midst of the quiet predawn night. I hope you enjoy my story, any feedback is welcome.


The Wave of a New Dawn



Another day struggles into existence. My eyes, still cloaked in darkness, pierce the midnight-blue water. Watching. Forever watching. All is silent. 


I blink to stay awake and attempt to shift my cramped body. The salty air pays a short visit but does little to relieve the overpowering stench of seaweed and sweat encased in this pillar of stone: La Garita del Diablo. Is this the price to pay to prove one’s worth? I am just barely a man: fifteen on my last birthday. A prison sentence would be more welcoming. But, this is my duty, and I shall persevere. 


Droplets of perspiration form on my temple, trickling to the inside of my collar. I wipe them away with a fraying sleeve and continue to keep watch. An ever-glowing light pierces the horizon, sprinkling the waves with twinkling stardust.


My mind wanders, and for a split second, I escape my destiny. 


A gust of wind knocks off my cap. Another gust follows. I spy the seas as heavy clouds roll across the sky, extinguishing the early morning light. 


Thunderclaps jolt me to attention. The seas rise, swelling at an alarming rate. I must not leave my post. Storms are common and often play havoc, but the massive stone walls shield the city of San Juan well. I, as the guard, must hover high above the crashing water and keep a watchful eye. The garita is my only protection, and for twenty-two months, it has served me well. 


Lighting flashes. I know what follows, and I prepare myself for the deafening boom. Yet, I remain focused, scanning the turbulent seas through one of two stone portals. My survival depends upon it. Standing this post is my only option.


Violent winds and torrential rains loom overhead, and I pull inside to shelter from the dangerous onslaught. Invisible hands clamp the side of my skull, squeezing like some medieval torture device. I scream, my voice silent in the whirl of the winds. Gripping myself hard, I attempt to close off the cacophony of sounds. If this is the end, so be it. But, then, I must leave this earth standing like a man. With difficulty, I struggle to an upright position. Never would I have dreamed of this growing up on the farm miles away from the atrocities of life at El Morro. But here I am, destined to ward off this horrific storm.


Pressing against the edge of the portal, I glance toward the open sky and freeze as an oncoming tidal wave crashes into the garita, drowning me in a salty grave…



An intense throb from the back of my head awakens me. I cough out mouthfuls of seawater and gasp for breath. The wave slammed me into the wall causing an open wound on the back of my head. Moving seems difficult, but I manage to kneel after spitting out another mouthful of seawater. Blood oozes down my neck. I tear off a shirt sleeve and tie it around my head. I cry out in agony, realizing the shirt is soaked in saltwater.


I stumble toward the portal and peer out, seeing a dull light streaming into the aqua seas. The storm has passed. Or, so I thought. But, on closer inspection, distant bands of dark clouds and rain pelt the swelling waters. Spears of lightning and rumbling thunder slowly grow closer. A second storm approaches. How on earth will I survive? Gingerly, I step to the exit doorway, hoping and praying to see another soldier, but I know I will not. It is only me against the elements.


Dehydrated, I search for my skein of water. Thankfully, it did not wash out to sea. The few drops left trickle down my throat.


I suppress thoughts of food and water. Surviving the next storm and keeping watch is what I must do. A mild breeze refreshes me as I stand in front of the portal. A glint of light temporarily blinds me. I shake my head and search the open sea. I spot it. Something in the distance glitters, and it is not the peaks of the water. I squint my eyes to focus. 


No. It can not be. It must be a mirage. 


But, is it?


For almost two years, I have seen nothing. Now…in the middle of this storm—I see a ship’s mast?


Impossible.


I shake my head again, suck in a deep breath, and lock my eyes on the same spot. Bobbing in the distance, a wooden mast sparkles in the open sea. 


Adrenaline pumps through my body. I race out of the garita and onto the fortress wall. As I stumble on the rough stones, my task is set: ring the warning bell. There is little time. The soldiers must sink the pirate ship before the storm hits. Sweat pours out of me, and I make it to the tower. But am I able to climb the tower wall? I am weak, exhausted, and my head is pounding. The bandage around my head is soaked, and blood is streaming down my neck. I can barely take another step. 


But, I must. 


This is my chance to prove to them all…




Life was certainly trying for those poor young men. I would like to share a few pictures I took of El Morro when I visited there. The Garitas certainly inspired this story.