Anyone here believe in Santa Claus? The Tooth Fairy? Love at First Sight? Yes, I mean Love, not Lust. I’m sure we all believe in Lust at First Sight. We see that hunk or beauty at the beach, on TV, at the Movies, in a magazine, or on the Internet, and think: “Damn, I’d love to get me some of that”, totally in the dark about our amour de jour’s character, beliefs, and attitudes. Yeah, we all believe in that, because those guys and gals are just fantasies give form.
No, I’m not talking about “Lust at First Sight”, but about “Love at First Sight”, a completely different animal. With this one you see the other person, and it’s as if you’ve known and loved them during a different lifetime, and now, just when your subconscious had become resigned to the fact that they were dead, they reappear. You get a sudden feeling like a punch in the gut, and you wonder what the hell just happened. You don’t know, but you suddenly find yourself willing to spend the rest of your life finding out. Love at First Sight? Anyone here believe in that?
I do. It happened to me once. I had gone to another city to take a vocational course and, upon opening the door to the hallway I saw my – what? Soul-mate? – okay, soul-mate standing there just outside our classroom door, back to me, talking to three or four others. I could see no features, little form – for Soul-Mate wore baggy clothing, had long hair, and was at some distance. But there, in that instant, I felt like something had hit me in the stomach, causing the breath to come out of me in an almost gasp. I hesitated, not knowing what was happening, but then walked mechanically down the hall and into the classroom to wait for I knew not what.
We had second period in a neighbouring classroom. I was first in, and claimed a seat. With only two other of twenty-five seats taken, Soul-Mate came in and took the seat beside me – we were at banks, not in rows – which showed me the attraction didn’t run just one way. Long story short, due to our pasts and my fear of getting involved again, we did a little dance throughout the year, moving closer, then a little apart, then closer again, but never actually getting together. We met again a few years later, and prospects seemed good, but nothing came of it. My fault, I fear. Now, decades later, I still think of Soul-Mate with respect and with Love. That will never die.
So, yes, I believe. I used the basic template for my short story, “Kin” – kind of a wish-fulfillment story where the star-crossed lovers finally get another chance. The last section never fails to bring some tears to my eyes.
We all (well, most of us) love poetry. Don’t think so? What are songs but poetry set to music? And most everyone has a favourite song, one that speaks to him or her like not much else ever can. Poets have that wonderful ability to encapsulate a scene, a moment, a description within so few words that novelists and short-story writers sit back in awe of that. Who has not heard a line from a song that hasn’t moved them to tears, to laughter, to joy, to remembrance?
One, from a Canadian singer/songwriter, comes to mind. His name is Lennie Gallant, and in his song, “Man of Steel”, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnxCn9N7hQA) he says the following about the wife of the main character who has just received his lay-off notice from the steel plant where he’s worked for over two decades: “Maryanne wears twenty years of worry on her face like she never was young”. And there, in 14 words/19 syllables, he has painted a picture that a novelist might spend pages bringing to us.
I wish I had that ability. Though our appearances change over the years, until some become totally unrecognizable from their more youthful iterations, the voice often changes little. In “Kin” I have Gwen hearing a voice from the past, just like I once heard a voice from the past. Sounds, voices, lyrics, sometimes bring back memories so vivid you’d swear that they happened in the near past. I’m sure that has happened to many of you who read this. I wrote the line, “His voice was like yesterday,” to describe it. That’s about as close as I’ve come. Short and to the point.
Occasionally, I get the complaint that some of my stories are “too short” – as if length in and of itself had some sort of importance. What then of the hundred or two hundred words of a song that tells a story. Is that too short? That’s different; that’s poetry. Right. Speaking of poetry (in the form of songs), the recollection comes upon me of another song, wherein the singer says: “Do you believe in a life before death”. That’s a translation from another language. It brings up something quite different from the previous quote. This time it’s not a description, but an inner seeking, a contemplation.
Do we believe in a life before death? Or do we, like many others, simply live out our days, never risking, accepting what comes? Even action might mean other than what one thinks it means. I have just published a short story called “You Can’t Get There From Here”. In it, a man, on the final stages of a journey to a long-desired goal, stops for directions from a woman standing by a bridge on a lonely country road. The instant attraction forces him to make a choice between a known and the unknown, between a sure thing and a mere promise of that which might not actually deliver. Should he risk all for which he has worked so long for something which might not pan out?
It’s a very short piece of some 2700 words, but it says all I want it to say. Perhaps, this one, too, is wish-fulfillment, based on something I couldn’t do in my past: risk. Had I risked more back at that vocational school, what might have happened? But I chose a safer path, and nothing did. Later, older, I did risk a couple of times. Once it turned out badly, and once the risk paid off. But I carry with me many regrets for having not, way back when.
I’ve put “You Can’t Get There From Here” into Amazon’s Kindle Select, which makes it available for borrowing if you subscribe to the Kindle Unlimited program. In case you don’t, or live in a country where Amazon doesn’t even offer it, I’ve set it free for three days: Wednesday – which is when this post goes live (amazon time), Thursday, and Friday, in case you’ve procrastinated a little in looking at the blog.
If you like it, let me know – leave a review, or a comment on this blog. If you don’t like it, feel free to do the same. I don’t mind.
Well, so much for the fantasy of Love at First Sight. Now, what about Santa Claus and The Tooth Fairy? Hmmm. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to leave a glass of milk and some cookies out come December 24th. But I tell you right now, if that damned tooth fairy shows up, I’ll sic the cat on her. I need all the ones I have left.
Until next time, live well — and don’t get into any fistfights to prove or disprove the existence of The Tooth Fairy.
Delta (who also writes as Echo Chambers)
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Echo Chambers’ books