There is Dark , There is Light ( continued from 1000 First Chapters from Jan. 23 )

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Amelia is perplexed still . The conversation of the night before , like a hunger strike , lingered in the pit of her stomach . Why did her sister fall in love many times over … and so easily ? A stone , a leaf , a window … sadness and hope , cruelty and love . The venomous chaos , a penetrating chaos with potent terror was evil . Evil in the form of a man named Martin . A chaos cold and numbing . Tavisha had been swallowed up by the abyss and yet somehow she had crawled out in tack . And this is what I wished to understand . She once quoted , like a black and white tattoo embedded on her skin  from Anna Karenina , ” All the variety , all the charm , all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow “. I’ve never forgotten her saying it . And I saw that her shadow , like the shadow of a dead bird growing larger as it falls from the sky , was dark , blood red , a gash deep that still scarred on her neck , deep into her heart. Evil was lurking around the corner and love , like optimism turns up where you least expect it . And in the end that’s all there is, love , sorrow and it’s truth . Some people are born to suffer , it’s the same place where love and freedom and pride are born and it never stops, we just pretend it does . We tell ourselves it does to make the children stop whimpering in their sleep . These are my sisters words remembered that morning years later that was the beginning of my own journey towards enlightenment . It begins with truth … the telling of it and the hearing of it too .

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” He stood watching me . I could feel his stare as obvious as a cheap , strong perfume . He already knew that I was broke and broken . My friends just recently had deserted me , my best friend , remember her , you dated her brother ? Anyway ,.. Um .. Martin kept skulking in that coffee shop I worked at . I’m sure he had heard gossip about that African doctor and me and I’m sure now that he preyed on that vulnerability and hurt of my loneliness  . I felt so alone and clueless . Now , even glimpses of evil appall me , appall me like the sight of an egg splattered with its yolk broken and leaking … it turns my stomach but back then , in ignoring , it caused me awful trouble .”.

I sat still listening and decided not to ask questions and I knew from the intense look on her face , a face drenched in destiny and oddly radiant like the faces found in paintings of doomed and haloed saints , with wrinkles half hidden on her forehead by her long hair , that it was good to release this old pain inside of her .

” I first felt sad for him , for the loss of his mother at 14 and his dad’s desertion , his need to make money illegally to survive , sorry for the girl he was forced to marry who was pregnant and even sad for his catholic beliefs . I pitied the hatreds that lied to him and weakened him . I was so stupid to believe all his sad stories and remember the hook he used to gain my sympathy , it was , ” I have feelings too , just because I’m a big guy doesn’t mean I’m any differant from everyone else “. I chose to believe all his stories and for years after , even now sometimes , odd lies he told return in my mind like danger street signs along quiet country roads and I say to myself , ” Wow , that was a lie too “! But he had a power , and it was this and I’m embarrassed by it … I was madly in love with him , especially in a sexual way … I was sick , seriously sick  “.

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The way she slowly shook her head and the sadness in her eyes embarrassed me for her stupidity had made me so mad before . But some things are just so sad that only your soul can do the crying for you and it was there in the darkness of those eyes of hers . For awhile we just sat there each with our own separate thoughts … a silence so profound that the breeze on my ears from the open window was like a child’s sleepy whisper .

” It was his voice I first fell in love with , deep and melodious with confidence and strength and then the sweetness saved for only me , differant than how I heard him talk to others roughly and with dam nations . Was I so intrigued … paradoxes have always fascinated me … was that it “?

Where my sister saw intrigue , all I saw was danger and would have run fast in the opposite direction ! I noticed first that he pretended to be rich , showing off 100 dollar bills , wearing expensive designer watches ( always a different one ) and strutting his Tommy Bahamas shirts on his large frame like a show off . Why she was attracted to a big fat guy I will never understand ! She was so stupid and even believed that he stayed on the second floor alone of his ex-wife’s house out of a sense of duty . He first conned my niece , knowing if he got her approval the others would soon fall in line too , which really shocked me as she fell for it all too and she was so street wise and protective of her mom . He was slick like a greasy pan of Mexican sausage and I hated him ! He somehow sneaked his name on Tavishas only investment account from her dead husband and gambled it all away telling more and more lies . I remember the day she phoned me and said ,”things just don’t make sense to me anymore “.

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And so finally , after a year when the nature of the universe revealed it’s tendency towards complexity , Tavisha began to face her fears like peeking from underneath a sheet covering her whole naked body until one night it was torn swiftly to show the evil that had been lurking and it clutched at her heart with talons of truth . A night of redemption , an unknown flower blooming in the dark night that opened wide her eyes to what she had not seen before . He was like a dark angel wandering the earth with the stink of sulphur like cancer in his breath . But he was just a man , an evil man of deceit and hate , cursed with the fact that he could no longer experience good . Always playing the victim he was corrupt and full of wickedness , he lied too well , he lied with every nerve and fiber and it scared her cutting thru her heart until the calm demeanor of her acknowledgement baffled his senses and his hatred was unleashed .

” Don’t ignore me”!  walking toward her

” Leave me alone “!  running upstairs, locking the door .

” You never let me finish my sentence you condescending B…. I said I’m not gonna hurt you ” yelling as the door is broken off its hinges by his strong , bulky stinking body .

” Leave me alone “!  He grasps hard a hold of her kicking ankles and pulls her quick with a thud to the floor , picks her up again dropping her straight on her head and she knows she is injured badly . Reaching over and ripping off from the wall a screwed in metal clothes hook , he thrusts the sharp edge like a knife to her throat saying , ” you f….. B …. I’m not gonna hurt you , I’m gonna kill you “!

Tavisha freezes , her broken body slumps into complete quietness like a captured animal, her breathing still and almost non existent . She whispers a name , ” Jesus “. Suddenly he let’s go , walks out of the room , smokes a cigarette in the garage , comes back up , says he is sorry and she pretends to accept .

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The following day , in a dark hole of worthlessness , she walks into the sea with all her clothes on … the sea where all of life begins . When a woman makes a baby she gives it water to grow in and just like the sea it has the same ratio of salt . From the beginning we took the ocean with us , our blood and sweat is salty and we cry oceans in our tears . ” And the earth was without form : and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep . And the spirit of God hovered upon the face of the waters . And God said let there be light : and there was light ” Exodus 1:2&3 . Floating above an undertoe , wondering if she will die drowning , she once again calls out “Jesus “. A radiance appears in the sky and in her eyes a vision , a vision of purity , a vision of gentle peace and a beautiful face parting the clouds and a voice ” I hold your hand , I am the I am ” . And like the sobbing at night in a distant village of wretchedly miserable poverty an understanding of “why” comes forth from Gods out stretched arms … no happiness exists without its woe , no wealth without its cost , no life without its full measure of sorrowing and death .

 

” Later he had me followed by his mobster friends who broke in leaving threatening messages until I finally left for Mexico after our parents died . I heard he moved back to the big city , sick with throat cancer and died a year later . I visited him once , grateful for how he pushed me hard into my true awareness of the Divine . I confronted him and offered forgiveness and asked for it too as I was not without fault … but he remained stoic with a paralyzed face, looking at me only sardonically with his bloodshot eyes . I touched him and walked away . Outside I sat awhile and gave myself completely to that golden , fate-filled moment and in gazing at the spring buds on the trees I felt the silent, secret , heartbreaking joy , God puts into everything that blooms and grows .

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From my sister Tavishas diary :

” The truth is that there are no good men or bad men , it is the deeds that have goodness or badness in them . There are good deeds and bad deeds. Men are just men – it is what they do or refuse to do that links them to good and evil . The truth is that an instant of real love, in the heart of anyone , the noblest man alive or the most wicked , has the whole purpose and process and meaning of life with-in the lotus folds of its passion . The truth is that we are all , everyone of us , every atom , every galaxy and every particle of matter in the universe , moving toward God “.

 

Note: portrait photos by Ellen Rogers photography

One Thousand First Chapters … continuing

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She is shy , the first thing you would notice about her . What you wouldn’t know was the nightmare she has of going to school in a glass dress revealing her naked body . He , on the other hand , is confident and owns the hallway , this everyone sees . The school , a private school of Christianity where once Native Americans danced like thunder to the Sun God of their tribal traditions on the banks of the mighty Grand River . My sister finds feathers , feathers from the fields surrounding our home on the far west side of town , and decorates them into her braided hair . He has a Beatle haircut and lives in the crowded city neighborhood of older brick houses . He collects sports statistics while she collects old dolls .

 

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With his blue eyes , bell bottom pattern pants and a wide white belt holding them up on the hips of his tall yet slightly stocky body , she notices him . They pass each other going opposite ways as if his belt is the clear white line on a busy city street . She hears from our brothers friends how he made the final list for the freshman basketball team before the start of school and then was cut before the first game because of his swaggering attitude towards the coach . You would know that this was Sams nightmare !  Our dad was like that too, I mean the overly self-assured attitude , and so she was intrigued , like watching an Alfred Hitchcock Hour on the television wondering what the mystery was all about .  She didn’t even know his full name yet , only that he was loud , had a handsome smile and was popular at school . Finding out that the girl in her English class , the one that looked like a modern-day Alice with bright green velvet shoes bouncing like soft moss along the shiny waxed hallways  and with hair long and naturally wavy floating with a ribbon like a breeze from wonderland , is his  sister . His smart sister whose friends were older and wrote for the school newspaper , organized liberal political forums and made up the attendance of almost the entire drama club . Tavisha watches for Sam and he begins looking at her . They sit together in morning chapel and Friday night basketball games and skip Latin class to go riding thru the city on his motorcycle . My sister only being use to long hours pedaling that old red bike of hers !  … which he laughs about .

 

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Lara Zankoul photography

 

His mother has no garden unless you consider the vast amount of home canned jars of vegetables stocked on the shelves of her basement pantry, one . A mother who is comfortingly plain in appearance and dress with flat leather shoes like a decent set of snow tires prepared for the approaching winter . She is the opposite of our petite and glamorous mom . A large woman with no care for made-up looks unless having to attend a function at the University with her husband who spends much of his time when at home in the private study on the third floor preparing for his history lectures . Her daily decoration only being her wedding ring and an out of the ordinary and beautiful large golden pendent hanging from an intricate long chain that rests heavy on her bosom like an exotic fur coat in the window of Bloomingdales . Her oldest son giving it to her after returning from years living in the warmth of Africa . My sister admired this gift and it’s origin  and later would understand about the cold feelings of a mother because of her future daughter-in-laws sinsImage

 

Sam and Tavisha fall in love at sixteen , graduate high school together , break apart for a year and marry the following when I am only five years old . Five babies are born within seven years and she is filled with an Almighty joy , a joy even greater than a first sight of a never before seen ocean or the sweet tenderness of seeing a colt being born in the soft hay of our grandfathers barn . Sam works at a job long hours . A job he too finds his purpose in . And together they are happy for awhile until my sister falls . Falls from the fragile torture of keeping things hidden , even from herself for awhile , a long while , a while almost fifteen years long … and when she falls , shards of sharp glass hurt the trusting bare feet of those that love her . She tries hard to glue the scattered pieces of her glass dress together but only sees , like a dropped mirror , a sadly broken and frightened reflection ….. to be continued…

 

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To my enduring friend and father of our children with gratitude

 

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Lara Zankoul photography

One Thousand First Chapters ….. continued

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Up from the ground a daisy grew by the border of the fence behind the house . A house where there floated a pale cloud , an umbrella of protection , above its roof . A roof under which lived a family of two parents and three children . A bedroom of yellow papered walls faced the front street of Clover Drive . Walls where sunshine illuminated thru the wooden louvered window shutters . Shutters that opened and closed with the changing shadows of a childhood world . And sometimes opened to other rooms in other houses like Polaroid snapshots of landscapes far in the distance .

 

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The mother wore a hat in the garden as she knelt to pick the weeds and made the flowers look like concert choir girls all in perfect rows . And behind the garden , the pasture that was the grandparents land extended along the other properties of homes along the avenue and around onto the Main Street where the old Tudor house was like a castle uprooted from Europe . The house showcased like a movie billboard its wide beams , cut glazed windows , with an expansive front yard of tall pines and a faded awning over the entrance to the shed to the side of the cement shuffleboard court . And the barn down the hill , a Medieval stage of scented hay , leather saddles , horse blankets and wooden beams to perform on .

 

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And in the field adjoining these two houses of this world , the dad , I adored , who wore wingtip shoes and handsome suits during the day , would sometimes dig a hole in the rich manured earth and place coals of fire around tin foiled potatoes or water soaked husks of corn to eat late in the night . The night before the nightmare of great dread would fall from the cloudless sky above . All because my brother showed me the sewer rat . A rat so ugly and huge that fled in and out of the metal grating in the street by the mailbox . The shutters stayed shut for weeks out of fear of catching site of the monster from the window .

 

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And the roller skating stopped in front of the house and the key used to tighten and loosen them onto the shoes was put on a chord and hung around my neck as I fingered it now out of a nervous habit until the silver shone clear like the inside of an oyster shell .

 

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Amelia , my sister , knew none of this as she hadn’t been born yet and a lot can happen and change in a decade or even in a moment . The world in the sun can change to one in the mist and a smiling row of daiseys into a weeping meadow of weeds . The year is 1959 and I am eight years old . My grand mother died , I was given a puppy for Christmas , Walt Disney released Sleeping Beauty , Elvis Presley hit the charts , Ringo Starr received his first drum set , the Guggenheim Museum opened in New York City and Alaska and Hawaii became states . And on the other side of the world in Communist Bulgaria , in the forced labor camps at the edge of the Balkan Mountains , the prisoners led a hunger strike . A hunger strike that many were unaware of or even of the camps existence . But for those that did , it was a place from where one might never emerge alive . And so , side by side , lived an elegy of paradox staged into future events of which Amelias’ history would be perplexed to uncover .

 

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to to be continued ……

 

” Memory is the scribe of the soul “.        Aristotle

 

Personal note : I’m not sure just where this story is going ….. only that I want to continue writing it ….. and in working the flow of it into blogs helps to encourage and inspire me not to stop .

 

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