Bent Heart: a short story

Bent Heart Cover2Roger is out of milk. A senior citizen, the last thing he wants to do is leave the house. But doing so could be the best thing for his Cheerios—and the memories he wishes he could forget.

Download the mobile-optimized PDF here.

Excerpt:

The house was old, like him. Some days as he walked this hallway the walls seemed to lean inward, tired after so many years. He had hoped that removing thepictures would lighten their load, but somehow the hallway only felt smaller. Rectangle stains marked the empty location of pictures like headstones.

He stopped to straighten one of the two photos still on the wall. Emily smiled back at him, those faint dimples in her cheeks peeking out.

These walls could be repainted. They should be repainted.

A soft tolling of bells in the living room noted the time as half to the hour. Roger put his back to the dimples and graves and made for the front door.

I hope you enjoy it!

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Bent Heart: how a short story came about

Earlier this year, while deep in the throes of trying to write a young adult novel, I decided to write a short story. Sometimes you just need to do something that’s small and can be finished.

At the same time, I was reading Writer’s Mind, by Richard Cohen. In it he gives an exercise to write a plot in five minutes. Just start with a character and a problem and work toward an ending. So during lunch one day I sketched out a story about an old man who needs milk for his morning cereal.

At first I tried to make the story humorous and play off old people jokes, but by the time I finished writing the first draft I discovered the real story was something much different. There would hopefully still be moments of humor, but more importantly this was the story of a man who refused to acknowledge the pain of his past.

So I am proud to present Bent Heart. The story is just over 3,000 words long and should take about 15–20 minutes to read. Here is a short excerpt:

The house was old, like him. Some days as he walked this hallway the walls seemed to lean inward, tired after so many years. He had hoped that removing thepictures would lighten their load, but somehow the hallway only felt smaller. Rectangle stains marked the empty location of pictures like headstones.

He stopped to straighten one of the two photos still on the wall. Emily smiled back at him, those faint dimples in her cheeks peeking out.

These walls could be repainted. They should be repainted.

A soft tolling of bells in the living room noted the time as half to the hour. Roger put his back to the dimples and graves and made for the front door.

Click HERE to read the PDF in your internet browser. It has also been formatted for smartphones (iPhone in particular), so if you open the link on your phone and have Amazon Kindle or iBooks installed, you’ll see an option to open it there.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy it! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

On the Wings of Shout

At the end of the age, the armies of men gathered together, their forces arrayed in the west, seeking to save their man-made Eden. They gloated and boasted of their strength, proclaimed their mighty deeds to one another, and the clammer of their spears and shields was loud.

But then… a rumble in the east. A glow against the horizon. A tremor went through the ranks, and all voices fell still….

The sky burned red and suddenly a great and mighty Shout, deep and clear, shook the earth. The armies of men fell back and clung to their weapons with weak hands.

Then over the ridge burst a mighty white horse, and astride it was a Man. He is called Faithful and True, and forth from his mouth came a sharp and two-edged sword. He came with the thunder of hooves, and behind him rushed the hosts of heaven, clad in white, their voices lifted high with praise for the King over all kings.

And He came! He came on the wings of a shout, a shout like the roar of many waters! The ground trembled and the armies of men quailed. They turned to run, but before the sword of the Bridegroom there was no retreat. With a shout that split the heavens and clove the Olive Mount in two He came on, a torrent unstoppable, a majesty undeniable, a mastery unquestionable, a might incontestable, a reign undefiable, a glory inescapable.

“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

(1 Thess. 4:16, Rev. 19:11)

The Threshold

Today was the day. He could feel it. It was like the first rain of spring, or the first leaf that falls in the autumn; except this, this was beyond either of those.

One step. That’s all it was going to take. One step and he’d be through the door, and then it would begin. Could he handle it? Could he take it? What if it was too big?

Forget that. He was made for this. God had told him the story. They had come here, together, he and God, and God had fashioned for him a shelter, glorious in its ornaments and breathtaking in its simplicity. And now he was about to step through the doorway, the threshold designed solely, only, for this specific moment; he could hardly contain himself.

He peeked through. He wasn’t supposed to, but he did anyway, unable to keep from doing it. He saw her, and his heart skipped a beat. His breath caught in his lungs and he jerked back, throwing himself through the air with an exploding heart of joy and dripping with golden delight.

She had smiled, lighting her face with a thousand stars. Her eyes, simple and pure, beamed with the flame of Heaven’s fires, and he nearly melted at its heat. Him? She would accept him? Mystery upon mysteries, he dared to believe it so.

He checked his pocket again to make sure it was still there. It was, and he clasped that sacred parchment tight in his hand. His covenant, granted to him afresh by God that morning, showing plainly his name, written in bold, fiery strokes, and next to his, written smoothly and with elegance, was her name. It astounded him even now, looking at it for the hundredth time that morning, that she would choose him. She had chosen him, and it dropped him to his knees at the very thought.

There! At last the trumpet of Heaven sounded and he gathered himself for the step, the step that would mark the course of today, that would do so much, with the look of such ease, bringing glory upon glory to God and the work of His hands. Who would dare think that he would stand here, today of days, with the honor and privilege of walking hand in hand with his beloved!

But, dream of dreams, it was so.

And with a final deep breath, the Sun stepped from his tent fashioned by the hands of God and strode forth to his bride, Day, and began his journey through the sky.

(Ps. 19:4-5)