You Might Not Like It

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Re-springing Your Step.”

I’d typed the last words to my first novel.

It was done, and I sat, in a state of amazement that after all these years of good intentions, false starts, and distractions, the effort had finally paid off, and it was finished.

It felt good; in fact, it felt great.

“Send it to us,” some of my friends said. “What’s it about?”

“It’s a fantasy novel,” I said. “You might not like it.”

“Naw, man. Go ahead and send it to my email, I’ll check it out. So proud of you, dude!”

And so I sent it out to my friends, eager to hear their response.

One week. Two weeks. A follow up email from me. “Hey guys, it’s been a cupla weeks. How ya likin it?”

Crickets.

Another two weeks, another email. More crickets.

“I’ll read it,” a young man I worked with said. “Not sure you’d like it,” I said. “It’s a fantasy novel.”

“Well, I’ll be honest, Alfred. I’m not much of a reader, but if you send it to me, I’ll read it and tell you what I think.”

Why not?

He gave me his email, and I sent it.

He kept me apprised of his progress, what he liked, what he wasn’t sure about, what was I thinking when I wrote this. It was good so far, he was enjoying it. He could see the descriptions in his mind. He was reading it in the email app on his phone during downtime and lunch. He read it on the weekends.

And then he told me something that sent me to the moon and around it several times:

“I finished it, and I’m looking forward to the second part.”

In that moment, if no one else ever read it, I considered myself a writer.

I got an admitted, self -confessed non-reader to finish my first novel, and he remains, to this day, the first of two who have the unpublished manuscript in their possession.

It was more validation to me than if all my friends had read it and offered their thoughts and opinions.

I was (emotionally) high for a week. I shared it on my fb status, I called my best friend, (a published author, whose book actually contains a line I gave him, but he didn’t pay me. Some friend, huh?) I told my sister.

They congratulated me, they understood what I meant, but they didn’t, well, couldn’t feel the elation that came with hearing those words.

A non-reader who doesn’t read fantasy enjoyed my work, told me to let him know when it was out so he could order it, and was looking forward to reading the second part. And he will order it, because he’s kept his word to me all along.

If that doesn’t put a re-spring in your step, I don’t know what would.

A Chosen Successor

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Pleased to Meet You.”

Scrooge had just checked in on the Cratchit family, and all was well.

Mrs. Cratchit had taken up sewing, and Scrooge had funded the shop with his new generosity. In return, having no one to cook meals, Mrs. Cratchit did so, and dropped the meals off, always hot and fresh, smelling delicious, to his door within an hour of his arriving home, or sometimes, he would stop by and take the meal with the family, sometimes even leading the grace.

Tiny Tim, no longer quite so tiny, had grown into a fine and studious boy, much like his father, and Scrooge saw more of Bob in him as the years passed.

But two years after the spirits visited, Scrooge began to notice his health was not as sound as it had been, though he kept active with brisk walks, and social with activities, and even volunteered to help out in the very kitchens he’d once reviled, he did so less frequently, despite his zeal.

Against his will, the idea of a successor began to pull at his coattails like a beggar child’s hand.

He spoke to Mrs. Cratchit about Tim.

“He is more into the sciences than anything, Mr. Scrooge. Always puttering about in his room upstairs with his scopes n’ such. I’m afraid he’d not be one for taking over for Bob; all the others have made their plans, and will soon be leaving.

“But I can put up a sign in the shop, if you’d like, and you can hire out an ad in the paper, and see what happens then.”

“Yes,” said Scrooge, his mind distracted, “I suppose I must.”

******************

By spring, Ebenezer was relying more on his cane to balance him than he would have cared to admit. Upon arriving at the office, he looked up at the old weathered sign:

Scrooge & Marley

He looked at the sign now, remembering that fateful night, and the sound of the heavy chains. Not a day went by he didn’t thank his old friend, and not a day went by that he didn’t remember Bob Cratchit, who shortly after that Christmas, had been run over by an arrogant carriage driver.

Scrooge saw to it he lost his livelihood, and all but carried the man to the border of London himself to throw him over it.

He sighed. “I’ll be seeing the both of you, soon enough, I s’pose.”

Putting the key in the lock, he found it already open.

Cautiously, he cracked the door open, and peered in.

The fireplace was lit, the carpets beaten, the floors swept, and a well dressed young man in a long coat was puttering about Marley’s desk.

He looked up as he heard the door close, and saw the stern visage of the old man in front of him.

Scrooge raised his cane, the only defense he would have against so vigorous a young man, in the prime of his youth, strength, and health.

The young man smiled. “Ah, you must be Mr. Scrooge.”

“I am. And you are an intruder. How did you get in?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, sir. I thought Mrs. Cratchit told you. I answered your ad in the papers. I sent you a letter…”

“I did not receive it.” Scrooge grew hesitant, the cane lowered slightly. “Mrs. Cratchit, you say?”

“Yes, the lovely old woman with the sewing shop. Dandy dresses. I might pick one up-”

“Young man!” Scrooge snapped. “I am not here to discuss the delicates of your lady friends. This is my office, and you don’t belong in it, to the best of my knowledge, so I will ask once again, and finally: who are you?”

The young man, brought up short, bowed his head in acquiescence, and stepped forward smartly, extending his hand.

“Phillip, sir. My name is Phillip Pirrip, at your service.”

Scrooge did not reach out, but Phillip, not put off, took Scrooge’s right in his own and shook it, smiling.

“My friends, for the sake of simplicity, call me Pip. Pleased to meet you.”

Sorry I Scribbled

I’m sorry I scribbled.

I mean, I know how

you

like

everything

inside the / line\s

I’m sorry I scribbled over

your

picture of what

we

should look like.

I’m sorry if I used the

wrong color.

I’m sorry that I don’t

conform

to

Crayola’s decrees…

But what the hell.

I’m innovative.

Pass me the green one…

© Alfred W. Smith Jr.

Throne of Armageddon

Empty scabbards

and

broken swords

carelessly tossed

before the

empty throne

Dead torches hang on dampened walls

lighting

Death’s way in perfect

darkness

Distant thunder,

softly rumbling, makes

gentle inquiries,

whispering names of

souls long

vanquished.

All is

ended.

All is

lost.

Behold the throne

of

Armageddon

who no longer

reigns

© Alfred W. Smith Jr.