A Table for Two (two stories)

A World Apart

A woman sits alone in a coffee shop at a table for two. Humanity passes by her, life happening in a sea of strange faces. She sits apart, part of this world but not, and she watches. Does she wish she were over there with the group of old friends talking and laughing about old times over their cups? Or perhaps with the young family doting over their small children as if they were the most important thing in the world? Does she wish to join the sea of life swirling about her? But perhaps she is content to remain apart, a silent watcher outside of time and the flow of predictable humanity. Passerby’s judge her from the safety of their comfortable worldviews. But who are they to judge the content of her inner life? She sits alone, a world apart, but don’t we all?

He Waits

A man sits alone at a table for two. He waits for him. Life passes by outside the confines of his table. People meet, come together, and part again. Time moves on but he does not. Some notice him and wonder, but most pay no heed to the old man. He does not belong in their worlds, is not worth notice in their busy live. He does not notice them either, there is only room for him and the love he waits for. The love that will never come, can never come, taken by hatred and fear from this life. And still he waits.

Wrong Side of the Gate

“I’m dying! Please help me” cries a man, red in the face.

“Sit down and wait your turn” says the nurse at the gate.

Tears flowing he turns, defeated, to take his place and wait.

Hours pass, hope fades. One more chance he must take.

“Please help me, it’s been hours with no end in sight. My heart it can’t take this, I’m dying inside.”

Impassively, she says “Sit down, wait your turn. We will help you in time.”

More hours pass, a new day dawns. The man’s name is called but no one responds.

“Get up, it’s your turn. We’ve come to help, it’s time.”

But the man doesn’t move. His heart couldn’t take it, he’s died inside.

The healers they came but on their time, not his.

Had they seen him on his time, would he have lived?

The pain took him with it, on the wrong side of the gate.

Perhaps if they’d listened, they could have changed his fate.

 

A Scooby Kind of Christmas

Once upon a time, in a little house in the forest, there lived a cat named Scooby. Scooby’s favourite time of year was Christmas because, while it was too cold to play outside in the forest, her kind humans always brought in a tree for her and even put little things they called ornaments on it that she could bat around with her paws and play with all day long. Scooby wasn’t sure what the brightly coloured boxes under the tree were for but they were comfortable to lay on when she got tired of knocking the ornaments about.

Besides the tree, the humans also made lots of yummy treats like turkeys and hams for the holiday and the two little girls who lived there always left lots of bits and pieces on the floor for Scooby to eat. Scooby loved the little girls even though the Christmas season made them even more excitable that ever. Sometimes they would poke Scooby and pet her a little roughly but Scooby knew it was out of love, besides, she could just go hide in her Christmas tree when she needed a break.

This year was going to be extra special because the little girls had told Scooby all about Santa Claus who brought gifts to everyone on Christmas day. Scooby wanted to meet this special human in the red suit. Maybe he would bring her some fish or treats, or maybe even some catnip.

The little girls were too tired to stay up all night to see Santa Claus but Scooby liked to sleep all day anyway so maybe she could stay awake long enough on Christmas Eve night to meet the jolly, red-suited human herself.

It was the middle of the night on Christmas Eve and Scooby was dozing on a blue and red coloured box when she heard a noise outside. She jumped up to the window ledge to look but all was unbroken white snow and quiet outside. Then there was another noise from the other side of the house. It sounded like a hoof from the creature the little girls called a reindeer.

Scooby ran across the house to see, through the living room, into the kitchen and up onto the counter to peer out the window. There in the shadows under the trees she saw something move. Scooby saw long legs, a lean and strong body, a head topped with antlers, and there, a red nose shining faintly in the gloom. And behind the reindeer, what did she see but the outline of a sleigh. Santa Claus was here! But where was the bearded human in the red hat with all the presents? Scooby looked but didn’t see him anywhere.

Suddenly Scooby remembered what the little girls had told her about the Christmas tree and the wrapped boxes beneath. They were called presents too and Santa was going to put even more under the tree for the family. Scooby jumped down from the counter, out through the kitchen, rushed across the living room and back to the tree. She looked all around the room but where was Santa Claus, she still couldn’t find him anywhere, and she was filled with disappointment.

As Scooby padded back to her blue and red box, she noticed something new. There were more boxes than before, over there a bike one of the little girls had asked for, and there on the ground, it looked like a piece of red fabric. Could it be from Santa’s suit? Scooby looked around again and finally noticed, on the top of her blue and red box, something new. She moved closer and sniffed the new thing, it was a little catnip mouse and it smelled amazing. As Scooby took her new present in her mouth, she heard a faint “ho, ho, ho!” and saw a little red glow out the window followed closely by a sleigh flying over the trees.

Scooby hadn’t gotten to meet the special human named Santa Claus but she knew he was real and so she sat down happily to play with her new toy and to wait to share a Merry Christmas with her little girls.

A Collection of Random and Unrelated Poems

For Stephen

Your sweet smile, your gentle soul
Shines brightly even now
Your heart of gold, your laughter too
Can still fill up a room
No longer here to hold us near
But your memory within us we hold dear
Still there through dark and light
Forever and always within our sight
Our love for you shines brightly too
Every day of the year

Darkness and Light

The fire rises
The heat intensifies
Pulse beats faster
Darkness rises
Light pains
Breath quickens
Pain is life
Life is darkness
Future unending

Snowflakes

Light blooms against the dark night
Snowflakes flashing before my eyes
So bright the colours, dimming swiftly to black
Beauty and pain intermingled

Winter’s Delight

Winter’s breath upon my neck
Sweet scent of spruce pervading
Crunching snowfall sounding underfoot
Taste of peppermint invading
‘Tis the Christmas season
See love and joy abounding

Boy Underfoot

In a little house like any other, there lived a boy and his parents. Mother was a painter and spent much of her time in her studio creating beautiful pieces of art. Father was a writer and could usually be found in his study with his nose in a book or typing furiously at his computer on his next novel. And the boy well, he was just a normal boy, curious about the world around him and about his parents in particular. To the boy, Mother and Father were perfect and he took to following them everywhere they went and copying them in all they did so he could learn to be just like them.

One day, the boy followed Mother into her studio to watch her paint. Perhaps he could learn to be a great painter like her, thought the boy. He picked up a brush, took some paint and, copying Mother, brought the brush up to a canvas to make his own masterpiece.

Suddenly, he felt Mother’s hand close over his and take the brush and paint away from him. Her voice was stern and her finger wagged threateningly as she told him that the brush and paint were not toys to play with and that he should not touch them. The boy didn’t understand why he couldn’t paint like Mother but he didn’t like it when she was upset so he quietly sat in the corner of the room and settled for watching her.

As the boy watched the brush strokes and the painting come to life in front of his eyes, he forgot where he was and came forward to get a better look. The trees and rivers looked so real he felt like he could reach out and touch them. Suddenly he felt a slap on his hand as Mother turned to him looking very angry.

“You can’t touch my painting!” she said, “It is very important and you keep getting in the way. I can’t have you underfoot while I am working. Go into the other room and play with your toys.”

Mother made the boy leave the room and she shut the door so he couldn’t return. The boy was very sad that he had made Mother so mad at him. He didn’t know why touching the picture was so bad, he just wanted to know if it felt as real as it looked. The boy was very upset that he wasn’t going to be a great painter like Mother, since he kept doing everything wrong, and went to play with his toys like he was told.

The next day the boy was feeling happier and decided that maybe, if he couldn’t be a great painter, he could be a great writer like Father instead. So when Father went off to do some work on his new novel, the boy followed him into his study. Father was sitting at his computer typing the latest chapter of his book so the boy sat to watch him.

Soon growing bored as he watched Father sitting there, the boy began to ask questions about what Father was doing. Father answered with a smile at the first question but as the boy continued to interrupt him and ask more and more questions, Father grew annoyed and told the boy that he must be quiet and not interrupt him. The boy was upset because how was he supposed to learn to be a great writer if he couldn’t ask questions? But he thought if he stayed in the room maybe something interesting would happen and if Father was quiet when he wrote maybe he should learn to be quiet too, so the boy found one of his books and sat down to play with it while he watched Father work.

Soon Father got up from the computer to do research in his books. It was Father’s habit to pace the room while he worked, often lost in thought as he considered his research and how it would apply to his book. The boy watched him for awhile then took his own book and began to copy Father’s pacing. Staring down at the book as he walked the boy couldn’t concentrate on where he was walking and he soon found himself crossing into Father’s path where they collided.

Father picked up the boy from where he had fallen and, after making sure he was alright, said in an exasperated tone, “What do you think you are doing? You have to watch where you are going! I can’t have you underfoot like this while I’m working, son. Go into the other room and play with your toys.”

The boy didn’t understand why he was in trouble since Father hadn’t been watching where he was going either and if Father could walk with his head in a book why couldn’t he? He was even more upset this time because now he couldn’t learn to be a great painter like Mother or a great writer like Father. The boy was confused and hurt but didn’t know what else to do so he obeyed Father and went to the other room to play with his toys, even if he didn’t really feel like playing anymore.

Later that evening Mother and Father were sitting in the living room of their home while the boy sat with his toy dolls on the floor. As they watched him play they noticed that one of the dolls was off to the side looking very lonely. Feeling playful, Mother and Father moved to the floor with the boy and asked him what his dolls were doing.

The boy pointed to a girl doll and said that she was painting a great picture just like Mother. Mother laughed and smiled at the boy, thinking how nice it was that the boy admired her so much that he made his doll be like her. Then the boy pointed to a boy doll and said that he was writing a great novel just like Father. Father was so pleased, his smile beamed from ear to ear, to see his boy loved him so much that he made his doll be like him.

Then Mother and Father wanted to know why the other doll was sitting off to the side. The boy said that the other doll had to play away from the painter and the writer because he was always underfoot and getting in the way, so he wasn’t allowed to watch and learn to be like them. Mother and Father were stricken as they remembered what they each had said to the boy in anger. They both reached for the lonely doll at the same time and brought it forward to join the other two.

Mother and Father apologized to the boy for their unkind words. They explained that their work is very important and that they sometimes need time to themselves to get the work done but that they shouldn’t have gotten mad at the boy for wanting to learn, either. They told the boy that he was not in the way and if he wanted to learn how to write or how to paint then they would take time to show him when they weren’t working, just like they would help him learn about anything else he might want to try.

The boy felt better at hearing Mother and Father tell him he could still learn to be like them, but he still felt unsure. The boy was afraid of doing something wrong and getting underfoot again. He didn’t want to make Mother and Father angry ever again but didn’t know how he could do that if he didn’t know that what he was doing was bad.

Mother and Father looked at the boy with love and said, “Sometimes you might do things and we might get angry in the moment, but know one thing above all. We love you son, no matter what you do or what you become, and you will never really be underfoot because we will always want you near.” And the boy hugged his parents tightly, knowing now that they might not be perfect but they would always be the best in the world to him.

Shouldn’t a President be qualified?

If I walked into a hospital and demanded to be employed as a doctor, I’d be laughed out of the building (or detained for a mental health check) because I have no qualifications, no training. If I wanted to work at a call centre, the first thing they’d ask is whether I had sales experience, or customer service experience. If this sounds obvious, it’s because it should be. Jobs should require experience and training from those who would hold these positions. This is necessary to ensure any and all jobs performed in our society are done by qualified individuals. So why is it that arguably the most important position in the entire world requires no such qualifications?

I’m talking about the office of President of the United States of America. If I wanted to run for President I could do it (if I was American, obviously). The only things realistically preventing me from doing it are that I’m poor and an atheist (and again the American thing), because I wouldn’t be able to mount a convincing campaign without money and people think atheists are evil (because nonsensical reasons). Seriously, look it up. The only concrete qualifications one requires is to be American and to be over 35 years of age. No requirements for knowledge of political science or economics, no need for diplomatic experience or frankly, skills of any kind. Does that make sense? If we have skill requirements to work at McDonalds why aren’t there any for the President?

Look, as I mentioned above, I am not American. And you might say, well it’s none of your business how we elect our President. But the problem is that what happens in the US doesn’t stay in the US. Who becomes the President of the United States ultimately affects the entire world, your power and your reach is that long. And frankly, if I can speak for the rest of world, you’re scaring the crap out of us.

Hate doesn’t beat Hate

I started to write something the other day. It was going to be about the outrage and the hatred which seems to be everywhere we look these days, it pours out of our television screens and breeds throughout the internet. Everyone is angry about something and even people trying to show support are slammed because they didn’t do it exactly how others think they should have.

I was going to write about the divisions people create, the us and them mentality that is so pervasive today. I planned to talk about Black Lives Matter protesting the Pride Parade in Toronto, wanting to ban police floats. And about the people who shout that we should “help our own first” (whatever that means) when it comes to immigration and Syrian refugees. I was going to talk about how dividing people makes us weaker and only strengthens the problems we want to solve; the fear, the hatred, the violence.

And then shit went to hell again in the United States.

Two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, were killed by police in suspicious circumstances, and then five police officers were killed and seven wounded by shooters in Dallas during a protest about the police shootings of Sterling and Castile.

And I start to feel that outrage, and even some of that hatred that I was going to talk about, over all these shootings for the people who choose violence over and over again. But mostly I feel sadness that this keeps happening and that it feels like it will never end because people keep giving in to fear, real and imagined, and continue to fight hate with hate and violence with violence.

But hate doesn’t beat hate, it never has and it never will. If we want this to stop we have to make it stop by choosing a different way. Bring people together instead of drive them apart. Remove the divisions, the us versus them, because only then can we come to understand one another and with understanding we remove the fear and with the fear goes the hatred. Choose love and maybe then we can achieve some peace.