Travel light, but take everything with you.
That was the last message I received from my father before he began his ascent. The words struck me in an unexpected way. I had anticipated experiencing a range of emotions at the outset of his trek. Exasperation at the foolishness of this mid-life-crisis-driven thrill-seeker kick. Pride in his ambition. Fear for his life--no, fear for my own life, which would change drastically and uncomfortably if he never made it back.
But at the base of that mountain, with ice on the wind, as he read me that short passage from the introduction...
Chet had to find his own fun while working as a department-store greeter. Sometimes he said “Good evening” instead of “Good night” to the fancier-looking customers. Sometimes he said it to the disreputable customers, too, but a bit sarcastically, to see if they’d pick it up on it. They usually didn’t.
Every now and then Chet would greet someone with the wrong time of day. “Good afternoon, sir,” he’d say, as the sun was peeking over the mountains. “Good night, ma’am,” while the sun was burning hot overhead. And usually people just continued on...
My four-year-old son was out of control. He tried to climb EVERYTHING, he made crazy yelling noises all the time, he had about a ten-word vocabulary, and he slipped out of his room every night to sleep with his pet jungle cats.
And it was all his grandpa's fault.
I should have seen it coming the day my son was born. I held him in my arms, showed him to my father-in-law, and said, "Hey, Dad, ain'tcha proud?" And he just twinkled his eyes at me, and ran his hand through his dreadlocks, and grunted bemusedly to himself.
(To read Part 3, follow this link: http://sixminutestory.com/stories/somewhere-better-part-3.)
"Choose as you please," said Someone Good. "Surrender to the breeze, or fight for control. Which do you value: predictability, or potential. The known and the now, or the unknown, the good?"
As the air whipped in gusts around her, gripping her, twisting her, she struggled. Within herself, she wrestled for a choice. Would she allow herself to be carried up by these winds of change?
Somehow she knew that this was a defining moment. It was here, in the borderlands of Somewhere Better, that she could either fight her way back...
(To read Part 2, follow this link: http://sixminutestory.com/stories/somewhere-better-part-2.)
The voice was gigantic, though how such powerful sound came out of such a small creature was beyond her.
The furry animal was sitting back on its haunches in the tall emerald grass, looking up at her as if anticipating something.
She shifted uneasily. "You said you call yourself Someone Good?" she said. "What kind of a name is that?"
"We name ourselves by our attributes," said the creature, in its gigantic voice, which seemed to be full of every meaningful thing. "We are good," it continued. And from behind her,...
"Aim for the torch."
"We're gonna miss it."
"I know! I said I'm trying!"
"Ok, forget the torch. Try to land on, uh, her shoulder or something."
"The wind's too strong."
"How about her feet? The balcony? The plaza? ...The field?"
"This isn't my fault. No matter what happens, this isn't my fault."
"We're going to end up in the ocean, aren't we?"
"Probably. No, wait! I could just... Hmm. Yep. We're gonna land in the ocean."
"I don't like the ocean. It's wet."
"Shut up and deal with it."
"Plus all the cash in my wallet is...
The conversation lasted two words:
Afterwards, Katy wondered if she and Daddy had actually been talking about the same thing or not. Maybe he thought she still wanted to have ponies at her birthday party. Didn't he know she had gotten over that already? Or maybe he figured she was asking for a sip of that grown-up drink he had been holding.
She resolved to sort things out. That evening, when he arrived home from work, Katy shuffled meekly into the kitchen and said, "Daddy..."
"No," he replied brusquely. But his eyes said something different.
Embolded, Katy blurted...
(Author's Note: To read Part 1, follow this link: http://sixminutestory.com/stories/somewhere-better.)
All around her was greenery, stretching beyond the horizons, undulating and flowing. If she had ever been outside the confines of the busy city, she might have compared it to endless fields of gently waving, emerald green wheat.
The city. Where had the city gone?! She had been there just a moment ago... Hadn't she?
She liked the city. At least, she thought she did. It was familiar. It was comfortable. It was scary at times, and intimidating, but it was a fear she *knew*, one she had always...
It was supposed to have been the most attention-grabbing scenario she could place herself into. There she was, standing in the middle of the sidewalk, in her cute little dress, with her pretty hair all done up, twirling a gauzy parasol, and just oozing schoolgirl charm...
And the people around her walked on past, as if in a blur of life and busyness.
Occasionally she noticed glances from other young women, but instead of being jealous or judgmental -- two attitudes she was very familiar with and, frankly, appreciated equally -- all she received was a vague sense of disappointment....
The results were in: she had earned "third runner up" honours.
"Top five ain't bad!" Jeff said encouragingly.
"It's four spots worse than good," Melanie grumbled. "I don't want to be 'not bad'; I want to win something! I want to be recognized!"
Jeff sighed. "I recognize you," he reassured her. "I recognize you more than anything else, or anyONE else, in the whole world. Why do you think I married you?"
"Chocolate trifle," she sniffed.
"Well..." he grinned. "Ok. You got me. I married you for your chocolate trifle. But AFTER the trifle, you're the most important thing in...