Acceptance

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Acceptance

I was taken from disturbed darkness

 Out into the frantic light of life,

Taken from the safety of the womb

 And an often dark and jarring strife.

*

The humble journey I began came

with incipient turmoil and doubt,   

subtle remorse and terrible guilt

That, with me, I carried about.

*

With youth behind I wore my badges

Of courage, deceit, and self-doubt.

Tasting the beguiling fruits of Eden

And sipping from the Bacchus spout.

*

My Odyssey was not without the

Pain of guilt and sincere remorse.

Oh, no! My mind’s black closet

Choked and stifled me in due course.

*

Then came a forgotten Deity Who

Brought me to my misguided sense,

Gave me another chance at Faith,

And bade new Love to commence.

*

So, here, in the quietness of this

Meadow green, I vow to schemes

Of Worship those worthy paeans

Of Soul on these acres of dreams.

 

©Billy Ray Chitwood – April 18, 2017

 

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Naive and/or Wise Observations

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Naive and/or Wise Observations

A – People who must have their lives constantly validated, politicians, for example, will ultimately become in absentia!

B – Politics was created to satisfy Beatific games!

C – Many believe that life is really simple, not meant to be so costly and Complicated by politicians.

D – Clashing IQs definitely lead to Demented behavior.

E – False and misleading media reportage becomes an Enemy of the people.

F – There is an increasing lack of Fidelity in the would-be leaders of the free world.

G – Too many gremlins of Graft and Greed occupy important seats of decision making for ‘We the People’.

H – Being an optimist, I believe Hatred will disappear when hell freezes over…

I – The road of good Intentions has pot holes on occasion.

J – Lady Justice is not blind but she does wear a blindfold.

K – Politicians are killing me ‘not’ so softly with their words.

L – It’s true! Love does ‘Trump’ all!

M – Ah, sweet Mystery of Life and love!

N – A great spaceman, Neil Armstrong, said: “ It’s a great thing for a man to walk on the moon. But it’s a greater thing for God to walk on the earth.”

O – Here is One quote I love (from Antonin Scalia): “God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools…and he has not been disappointed…. If I have any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”

P – We are Polarized in our beautiful country…but spring and summer is coming! Huh!

Q – I’m a Querulous lad! I want our country to work and get back its greatness!

R – I no doubt Rankle a few Readers with my comments…but, Really, that’s no reason not to buy my books at http://billyraychitwood.com.

S – Pardon my Silliness. It’s not hazardous to your health.

T – Is it not a Thrill ‘To gather’ some words ‘Together’ That Titillate your own emotions. Great Therapy, This writing business!

U – Following the same Thread of Thinking, I’m in Utopia when I get 5-Star Reviews!

V – This letter says it all about me, truly! Vagabond, I am! Some might like better ‘a hopeless hobo’.

W – Or, following that ‘V’ thought, some might like to call me a Wanderlust, a Wastrel, or Worse!

X – Now, this is true! I’m going to the Doctor next week and I will get an X-Ray…and maybe play a Zylophone! Okay, too much of a stretch…sorry.

Y – Another truth! My tomorrows and my Yesterdays are flying by!

Z – As in surprising, ‘Zounds’, I ran the alphabet! Can I hear from someone: “Zuper job, Billy Ray!”

Billy Ray Chitwood – March 11, 2017

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS

 

Though it seems likely you were born in April, the date of December 25 has become the date much of the world has designated as the day we celebrate your birth. Here in the United States, most of our citizens enjoy your birthday as a paid holiday. On your birthday, many of us celebrate by gift sharing with our family and friends, participating in a special tradition of giving for which you are so very well known.

 

We do not know of every word you spoke and every deed that was rendered. Much of your living our historical experts cannot account, but from what has been recorded we know that you were unlike any other person on our earth at that time, that you spoke to the masses in parables for living an honorable and charitable life, that you spoke of God, your Father, and His Kingdom. We know that you were reviled and hated by the Roman rulers and were considered an enemy to their pagan icons and political agenda. At the end we know how you suffered from the stones and thorns of hate, how you carried the heavy cross to Golgotha, there to be fixed by nails to that cross and die a slow and painful death.

 

Some among us doubt your message of faith and the Kingdom of God, your Father. Some doubt that you died there on Calvary’s cross for the sins of humankind. Some even mock your words and arrogantly pronounce all your goodness as mere mythology. But they are few, dear Jesus, and there are a great majority of us who have read of your short time among us, believe in your message, who are not without sin but strive to grow our faith and believe in the miracle of creation – that incredible and meticulous nine months of a child’s birth, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the great order of the universe.

 

Our world today has changed not so much from the world you entered, dear Jesus. We still have those political and iconic problems throughout all parts of our planet. We have our ‘machines’ now that make our lives so easily disposed to sloth and idleness. We have our poor, our wealthy, and our in-be-tweens. We have created a bureaucratic welfare system that keeps so many of our people dependent on a government’s treasury, that makes it more sensible to stay at home and receive other people’s money than to work for it themselves. Yet, we do have those who truly need the goodness and help that comes from the heart, those teachings you passed along to us.

 

We still have famine and wars, so many prophesied in the Bible. We seem to be coming to some end-point, Jesus. We have terrorists who wish to kill us because they believe it part of their religious mandates. It appears we do not learn from the lessons of history. The world seems to be imploding while the good minds among us seek a paradigm for peace and prosperity.

 

So, in celebrating your birth, dear Jesus, I wish this long birthday card was a testimonial to how far we have come in loving our neighbor and honoring all of your Father’s ‘Ten Commandments’. Our knowledge is exploding. There are lots of new machines and toys for living, maybe even some tiny robots that go roaming around in our bodies to extend our lives, but, for good will and love, I fear we have not come so far since that awful day you were nailed on the cross near Jerusalem.  

 

For me, Jesus, I’m trying to grow my faith, endeavoring to be better than I am, wanting that eternal life in that great Kingdom by your Father’s House.

 

Billy Ray Chitwood – Christmas, 2016

 

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The End

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The End

I was a beaten man!

There was nothing left! No wife! No children! No job!

The only clothes I owned were covering my body.

The black ashes that were once my house had an acrid, gagging odor, mixed with the smells of fire-fighting liquids, dampness, and death.

How does one describe a body bereft of feelings, a body with all its tears shed, a hollow core of nothingness covered with flesh? Nothing there! Nothing I could or would ever be able to find.

That was my truth! Standing there in a starless night of misty rain and appropriate bleakness, looking for the last time at the sum of my existence, there in those black, damp clumps of earth and bones, there with the only pieces of love I had ever known, there in that eerie graveyard of ashes.

A silly argument after the boys were put to bed, a petulant escape into the night of bar rooms and feigned grievance. Heard the sounds of fire engines through my whiskey haze. Gave it little thought. Fire engines rushed to others’ houses, not mine.

Finally, the Bacchus glow came and recognized the inanity of my actions.

That glow happily took me to the charred ruins of my only prized possessions.

People talked to me, tried to comfort me. Their voices were lost in my sobbing growls.

Then I was alone with my mind and its torturous playback of my fatuous acts in life.

For three days and nights, I stayed awake in the wooded area behind the ashes, unseen, not wanting to be seen.

At 11:00 PM that third night I heard off in the distance the freight train whistle.

I walked the quarter mile to the trestle and watched for the light that would announce its coming and the roar from the rails.

Like a thief in the night I left the bush behind which I hid and stepped on the trestle.

The train was but a hundred yards away when I raised my arms to the heavens and cried, “Oh, God, please forgive me!”

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood

July 19, 2016

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A Parable of Sorts

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Because so much is happening in the world today, I thought I would get 2016 started with a short story I wrote back three years ago. It conveys the ugliness in the world but it has faith and love as well. Hope you enjoy:

It’s curious how the mind can wander off into a story.

During a ‘time out’ from working on my WIP (a new book) my mind began its wandering and somehow settled on some of the world’s more problematic issues – at least, from the perspective of someone living in the USA and being bombarded each day with unsettling news from far away places, news of Syria’s internal devastating turmoil, of Iran’s new leadership, plus a ‘new treaty’, and how it might hold little promise for relieving old angers and hatreds, news of a North Korea that seems always deleterious and scary…

I reached for my laptop and began to type this rather small piece that became a fanciful story. I decided at its conclusion that it had some ‘nuance’ here and there and decided to give it a title, “A Parable of Sorts.” I’m posting it here because I’m a writer who can hardly ever let anything I write, good or bad, go to waste. Hopefully, this little tale will not be too disconcerting to the senses. With this said, here’s the tale…

A Parable Of Sorts

Sasha begged him not to go. “You belong here with me, Leonid. The battle is within you, not with North Korea. What of us?” She tugged at his tattered coat.

He smiled benignly, “You’re a lovely and silly girl. You do not understand the reality of our time. To stay would be to defy my beliefs, my convictions, and, yes, my anger and hatred.”

“You would die for these beliefs and convictions, this anger and hatred?”

“We all must die, Sasha.”

“You brought me here to be left alone in a strange country?”

“Hong Kong is not a strange country, foolish one. We’ve been here sometime now. You know many of our native people. Go to them when your money runs out. Stay with them. Should something go wrong, I will return for you.”

“Please, Leonid, you go to die and you know it. You’ve told me of your plans. You go on a suicide mission. I’ve begged before and I beg of you, now, please stay!”

At the door of the small efficiency apartment, Leonid paused with his hand on the door knob. His dark eyes and handsome face held a strange and wistful look. He removed his hand from the door knob, returned to Sasha where she stood by the tiny dining table. “You are so beautiful, my blue-eyed wonder.” He embraced and gave her a long passionate kiss.

He then quickly twisted her head until he heard the snap. The lips were still in a half-smile as her head dangled and fell to his right shoulder, her blue eyes large and vacant in their death stare. In a whisper, he spoke, to the face he had loved, “Better you go this way, my dear Sasha, than to linger in life’s pain. You cannot know but I did love you.”

Leonid gently lowered her body onto a soiled stuffed chair just a few feet from the dining table, gazed upon her splayed form for some seconds, then slowly left the apartment. Tears welled but he willed them away, a final and essential part of his being had snapped and was forever lost to him.

*****

Night, reluctant to shed its vagueness, was slowly showing its lightened eastern clouds as the sun gave way to earth’s perpetual orbital pattern. Leonid walked in the shadows along streets leading to the Kumsusan Memorial Palace. It was still quiet in this city known as ‘Flat Land’ in its translation. In his backpack he carried explosives with timer mechanisms that he would plant at key buildings. The explosive carefully strapped to his body he would save for the KMP.

His thoughts were well focused on his morning’s mission but he could not deny the flashing memories that brought him to this point in time…

His father, mother, and brother had been ruthlessly killed here in Pyongyang in 2012 by a squad of government gangsters of the ‘People’s Republic of Korea.’ His family was shown no mercy as they were chopped to death by machetes, labeled spies against the state. Four hours later his older brother and sister were pulled from their lodgings, beaten, and then chopped to death. The government squad had no ears to listen to his family’s protests of innocence, their legitimate reason for being in the ‘Flat Land,’ their labored cries of mercy.

Pyongyang’s government never wavered from their ill-gotten information about his family. Never mind that his mother had pleasantly refused to cater a special luncheon for the squad and their friends, the sole event and motive that brought the hatred and the killings. Never mind that his sister would be raped before she was chopped. The killings were all justified, each query quashed and forgotten by the government.

His marriage to Sasha prior to the family murders made home life an hourly ebb and flow of emotions. When sleep would come there were the hellish nightmares, waking, screaming the names of his dead family, his body slick with sweat and tears, Sasha clinging to him, sobbing, trying desperately to slay the night-dragons that possessed him.

Then came the job loss and it was as though the people of Hong Kong could see the rage in his eyes, the stench of hatred from his body. He became a man avoided and feared. Sasha tried to get him help, would set an appointment for him to see someone who might be able to help him, but he would not arrive at the set time. Sasha was the only person in the large city who could give him moments of relative calm, but then those times of surcease became fewer and fewer.

He would not bathe nor shave, only when Sasha would run his bath and physically pull and push him to the tub and wash and rinse him. For those few precious moments Sasha could almost sense some warmth come to him…but it never lasted long. The strange hatred that occupied him never resulted in personal damage to her. She did the talking, asking questions of him, and he bluntly answered the questions – until the fateful day he killed her! It was only some modicum of revenge that would fulfill what was left of his putrid life…

As he walked in the shadowy stillness, a voice came to him from an alleyway just a few feet away: “Leonid, I must talk to you. Come walk with me in the alley.”

Leonid stopped, momentarily startled…no one knew his name, knew that he was here in Pyongyang. “Who speaks my name?” He braced himself against a building corner near the alley, moving his hand near a detonator that would vaporize him and much of the immediate area.

“A friend, Leonid. Please come these few steps and talk to me. There is no harm intended. We will talk, and you can do then what you will.” The voice had a calm and soft cadence, and Leonid knew that the man spoke the truth.

Leonid walked a few feet into the alley until he saw a man’s form. What struck him were the man’s eyes. They glowed in the semi-darkness, matched the tenor of the stranger’s voice. Oddly, Leonid was not afraid of the stranger and walked some fifty feet further down the alley, stopping when the stranger sat on a wooden crate. The stranger bid Leonid to sit on another wooden crate nearby.

“How is it that you know me and what do you want?”

“I’m just a man who knows the pain you carry within you and the mission that you are on.”

“How could you possibly know such things?”

“I have been with you all the way from Hong Kong, Leonid, mourning with you the loss of your beloved Sasha.”

“I killed her! With these ugly knotted hands, I killed her. How can you know this, Tell me who you are and why you are here, or, I will…”

“Leonid, just a few questions I have and you can be on your way.” The stranger’s voice was mesmerizing, measured in softness and tone. “Why is it, Leonid, that we are here on this spinning orb we call earth?”

There was rapture in the stranger’s voice that commanded a response. “We are here to live in parables and to die and be no more.”

The stranger’s eyes seemed to glow more brightly and the long beard he wore was a pellucid whiteness that seemed somehow unearthly. Leonid quickly considered whether of not he was awake or in a dream.

The stranger spoke. “So, why is it that the moon falls from the sky, the sun does not bring us daylight, and birth has no precise process to follow?”

Still taken by the stranger’s soothing voice, but a bit nonplussed, Leonid responded. “But you know that is not so. What is your motive here?”

The stranger seemed not to hear the question. “Why is there no evil and good in the world?”

“Stop confounding me with your Socratic silliness. Of course, there is evil and there is good in the world.”

“And why do you think that is so?”

“God only knows.”

“You speak His name as though you know him, Leonid. Do you know God?”

“There is no God!”

“Yet, you say He knows about evil and good.”

“Look, your aura wraps me in some kind of spell and I seem compelled to listen to your words. Please tell me what it is you wish me to know.”

“One last question, your response, and I will say my final words to you. “Did you truly love Sasha?”

“Of course, with all my heart I loved her, but my heart and soul is heavy with grief and hatred.”

“Like the hatred of Jesus’ enemies as they crucified Him on the cross? Like the hatred of the Americans for the Japanese during World War Two? Like the psychotic hatred of serial killers?”

“Yes, yes! How else can I answer such questions?”

“You can answer such questions by having Faith that there is more to come beyond this life, by believing that evil only spreads when good people are paralyzed by anger, fear, and hatred. To Love is to have Faith. To have Faith is to have Love. These noble elements of living decide our ultimate destinies. People have choices to make all their earthly lives. They will not always make the right choices, but Faith and Love will make all the wrong choices bearable and inconsequential when the last grain of sand is gathered.”

As more light came to the alley Leonid thought that he understood what the stranger was saying to him. He wanted to say something but no words would come.

The stranger lifted himself from the crate and stood in front of Leonid. “May I touch your head, Leonid, so that it might bless you?”

With tears now flowing, Leonid merely moved his head downward. The stranger touched his head. Leonid sensed warmth on his head and a coursing flutter through his body. Then, the hand left his head.

When Leonid raised his head, the stranger was gone and daylight streamed throughout the alley.

*****

When Leonid awoke, his head was on his own pillow. He was gazing at the adjoining pillow into the wondrous blue eyes of his beloved Sasha, a sweet smile upon her face.

“You look different somehow, my love. Do you still intend to carry out your vendetta against North Korea? Please say that you will not.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled her face to his chest.

“No, my precious love, there will be no vendetta, not ever…” Leonid tightly wound himself around Sasha and gave her a long and tender kiss. “I’m torn,” he said, “making love to you, or, bacon and eggs?” He paused only briefly, “Oh, to hell with the bacon and eggs…”

[END of ‘short story’]

Billy Ray Chitwood – January 2, 2016

Bill Chitwood

(Story was first written in June of 2013)

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A Dialogue

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A Dialogue

Our chat had been friendly and neighborly for some time as we shared a libation. He had come to welcome me to the area, I thought. Or, was it to check me out, to delve more deeply into the kind of person I was?

“What kind of books do you write?” he ultimately asked, eyeing the few books I had in the den.

“Fiction, mostly, crime novels – some inspired by true cases, romance novels, memoirs, and one government rant and rave.”

“You seem pretty much removed from that kind of writing. I mean, you mentioned faith! Figure you to be writing about God and Religion.” He seemed almost smirking.

“Why people do what they do interests me…so I write about evil, love, romance, mayhem, murder, and level it all out with politics. I try to keep my language fairly clean.”

“Yes, I’m sure you do. You don’t write about your faith?”

“Sure, Faith is in everything I write.”

“Well, everybody has to be somewhere…as they say.”

We had talked about mundane matters for some time, and I noticed him glancing at his watch. We had discovered some rather astonishing facts about each other. He was about to leave my den and return to his own home, but I had to ask him a question.

“Why do you not believe in God?”

“Many reasons, infused in History, Science, Technology…in what I can see, hear, and feel.”

“What in history, science, and technology so dictate your disbelief?” I asked.

“Are you a man of History, Science, and Technology?” He asked back.

“I am just a man who has dabbled in these areas but not a master of either. Are you a master historian, scientist, and technologist?” I answered.

“No, of course, I am not, but I have studied long and meticulously in the areas, enough to formulate a viable thesis. Do you intend for me to dispel with argument each book of the bibles? Do you intend for me to argue at length about the evolution of man, the ‘Big Bang’ theory, and the scientific timeline accuracy of the historical record through the millennia?”

I weighed carefully my response and decided to thrust forward. There was no doubt we each were wearing on each other.

“My initial question was asked with the hope that you could simply give me a few thoughts which would erase for me the arrogance of your staunch atheist statement you made earlier, ‘There is no God’! Without my suggesting it, you know you have the right to any belief you wish to have. It just seems boldly noxious to me when someone can be so certain, so matter of fact, to counter the belief of billions of people in our world… Now, agnosticism presents a more humble position and one that many true believers of Christianity encounter at some point in their lives…myself included. Perhaps you could just dwell on what you see, hear, and feel to answer the question.”

He responded sharply. “I shall ignore your own arrogance and tell you this… I can see no God. I can hear no God. I can feel no God. I do not, nor have I ever gotten caught up in the emotionalism required to kneel and pray to a Deity, to ask for things that I can pretty well provide for myself. In the historical record, in the Science, and, in the technology, those theories presented to me hold much weight and I subscribe 100% to them. If that makes me arrogant, so be it!”

My turn. “You can see no God… Can you not see the sun rise in the sky, break through a cloudy day, to smile at you, to warm you and caress you? Can you not see the ocean waves break on the beautiful sand beaches, look far out to a distant horizon and wonder what lies beyond? Can you not see the deserts and the mountains in all their beauty, allow your mind to imagine beyond the various ages and how they came to be? Can you not see the wonder in a child’s eyes in discovering how to read, how to solve a math problem, how to bond with a friend? Can you not see the miracle of creation during those nine meticulous months of a woman’s pregnancy? Can you not see love in the hearts of people, in their charity, in their passion, in their relationships?

You can hear no God… Can you not hear Him in a bird’s tweet and frolic? In the lonesome wail of a distant train whistle? In the mellifluous sounds of a mountain brook? In the caressing whisper of the wind as it gently passes through the trees? In a child’s uncontrollable laughter while at play? In the words of love songs, crying out in need of extension to our normal living? In the sweet happy moans of a pet in greeting as you walk through the door? In the sated sounds of a loved one during embrace? In the sobs of distress at an emotional moment of a good book or movie? In the dying words of loved ones, knowing at last in those final moments their ultimate destination, smiling with a warm glowing face and a secret only they can know?

You can feel no God… Can you not feel the tender kiss of a sweetheart or wife? Can you not feel love’s most wondrous orgasmic releases? Can you not feel the excitement of friendships? The therapy of a warm bath or shower, the wonder of water? The regret of mistakes made, of taking a wrong road in your life’s journey? The pain of an injury and the joy of its relief? The awe of a new experience which mysteriously felt somehow familiar, as though you knew those moments? The child with a terminal illness, still smiling through the sadness at his world, kept alive with hope and love of family and friends? The emotions in the still of night when remembering a loved one who passed? The soft hand that touched you but was gone when you turned to look?

“Instead of you telling me why you do not believe in God, I have given my reasons for belief, hopefully not in an arrogant way. My faith is fragile but it is there within me, through those years of sinful living and agnosticism. There is very little in life that is more important to me than my faith. Yes, I stray from it, make other things sometimes seemingly more important, but my faith is found in the tears I shed for others, in the sorrow of my bad yesterdays, in the inherent good I know is within me…”

His turn. “Your words seem to convince you of your Deity. You need not hear my words of negation to your God. I fear my algorithm would be too difficult for you to understand. It is time for me to go…”

He stood and walked to the door, my parting words trailing after him.

“Let my voice be but mumbling to you, but go with God! AND, one last thing: get over yourself!”

Billy Ray Chitwood

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Follow Me

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Follow Me

“Follow me!” the voice was gentle, soft, and somehow compelling.

The lovely lady with blue eyes and long waves of golden hair blinked in her drowsy state.

Shelley slowly opened widely her eyes and rose from the hammock on the hill near the big house. A few trees dotted the landscape on the freshly mowed grass and a watermelon smell wafted on the gentle air. This was her favorite spot on a sunny afternoon along the large spread of her parents’ property, eschewing the enticing pool by the ancient house. She could see for miles across the bluegrass roll of hills and felt a calmness never duplicated in her life.

“Follow me!” the gentle voice again intoned.

Shelley was not wary of the near-hypnotic and tranquil voice and innately knew she would follow its command. There was no equivocation, not the usual questions and puzzlement that would come with these uttered words, no doubts of the clarity and ethereal verity. There was no one, no person, to be seen but she somehow knew the path to follow, like an aura spreading the grass in front of her. She increased her gait, sensing an urgency as the aura spread its way in front of her. Shelley’s mind allowed no interfering thoughts to suggest hallucination or sleep-walking. Her purpose was as clear as the turquoise stillness of the pool she now approached.

At the pool, the aura and the spell-like awareness gave way to a strange reality. There on the edge of the pool lying lifeless was a most beautiful blue jay.

Shelley rushed to the bird, knelt, and with a soft tenderness picked up and placed the bird in the palm of her left hand. She moved to the poolside table, sat, and placed gently the blue jay on the table.

With tears welling in her eyes Shelley softly stroked with a forefinger the bird’s feathers, quietly chanting, “Please, God, let this lovely creature live, please, please!” Over and over, she spoke in whispers as her tears spilled over onto the table.

There came a slight tremble of a wing on the blue jay. Then, a small talon moved. All the while Shelly gently stroked the feathers. Soon, the bird tried to rise, only to fall over again on its side. Slowly, her murmurs and tears flowing, Shelley saw the bird finally stand, slowly shake itself, look into her eyes, give a short weak squeak, and fly away.

Shelley sat at the poolside table watching the sky. She saw the blue jay soar, then swoop low into a row of bushes and out of sight. She smiled in wonder, wiping at her eyes, looked up to the heavens and spoke, “Thank you, Lord! Thank you so very much for the miracles you still perform. Thank you. Thank you.”

When Shelley lowered her head, there was the blue jay some six feet in front of her, flapping its wings and chirping, then flying off again into the cloudless sky.

A lady of faith, this experience would last a lifetime, a reminder that she, as were all people, here for a purpose. The reminders of life’s purpose would not always come in the special way of this day’s most exquisite miracle, but they would come for those who would open their hearts and soul to them.

Shelley returned to her hammock. She couldn’t wait until her parents returned from shopping to tell them of her blue jay experience.

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood

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