Just a Long Peaceful Day

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from my great-uncle’s garden

Trigger warning: this will not be about theatre, plays or writing. Proceed.

I thought of an actual ending for a play I’d thought [finished]. As plays are never finished, nor is any piece or parcel of writing. I have to say that, it’s in a contract somewhere. I imagined my characters simply performing a walk-out on hell’s rules and regulations. Taking off through the [audience– as in hopping off whatever stage this makes it on and heading off up the aisle…] and exiting that way, after probably a few quippy words and some interpretive dance inspired by man’s inhumanity to man. Because it’s THEATRE, man!

So, I added that just a bit ago. That ‘new’ ending. I’ll now have to go back through and ‘set it up properly, goldarnit’. So the ending doesn’t come out of left field and people are going, WTF, and then writing me barely polite rejection letters instead of the polite rejection letters. I won’t get bitter about that, I’ve already been bitter as an old moldy lemon for several posts now about rejection.

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the small water garden

Oh and this week, my great-uncle died.

Heart attack. They revived him, got him to the big fancy hospital in Boise and then…he crossed the cosmic bridge to the Great Whatever. My aunt, years ago [a different aunt, not married to my great-uncle] had a dream. Where all the relatives that had gone on sat around this table, drinking beer. They were happy and playing cards and drinking beer. Even my grandmother, who hated beer. A message from Beyond?  A mere wish that those who had died are still somewhere Out There doing what they did when they were yet alive? A mere hope that those who have died are okay and not suffering or lost? I don’t know. My faith, these days, is at low tide. It washes up on the mythical beaches of this god or that one and then crawls back out into the formless sea of the abyss itself.

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One contemplates the nature of the gods when someone you knew since you were knee high to a grasshopper disappears from the world. You have those requisite Deep Thoughts. Where do you go? Where does the essential essence that is you…go? Does it go anywhere? Do you travel to some far distant green shore? Do you find those you’ve lost? Are you reunited? Do you just end? All those selections offered by religion and philosophy. Are they all true? Are none of them feasible? What if we chose wrong in life? What if. What if. What if.

I rather hope it’s like my aunt dreamed that one night.

That those we love are somewhere enjoying themselves. That they’re warm and it’s summer. One of those perfect early summer days before it gets too hot and the air, it smells like cut alfalfa and a lawn just mowed and sunshine. That there’s iced tea and ice cold beer and laughter. That the stories flow like wine from a good bottle. Those old stories told so often you have them memorized but you can’t wait to hear them again, those old stories of family misadventures, of family misfortunes and family comedy stylings that no one outside your family would ever find amusing yet recognize as their exact same story.  Oh my gosh, we’re just like that, too! That moment of recognition that others have their stories, too. That the food is good wherever they are. Real good. Dripping with memories that get written in the air. That someone you love laughs and eats from a bowl of black cherries, spitting pits at a dog not seen for nearly fifty years by anyone in living memory. That there’s a seat for you and you can slip into  it and get dealt a hand. That someone will slide you a glass of ice cold beer or ask if you want tea and then go on with their story about the time Joe and the dog, Stranger…that time. That time. And the touch of a hand on your shoulder and the whisper of a summer wind in the cottonwood. And you’re just happy to be there. You’re just happy. Just a plain, simple happiness that doesn’t demand anything of you. You’re just happy.

I think ole Jim has joined that game and is telling his favorite stories. And listening to the stories he’s not heard for ages now, laughing at all the right places, shivering when a shiver is called for, expressing disgust when disgust simply has to be expressed. I think he’s enjoying himself and gearing up to tell all his ole favorite tales and listen with a happy resignation to the tales told by those he’s not been around for years. And it all sounds new and it all sounds old as dust, it’s that long day that stretches into eternity itself. Just a long, peaceful day that never ends until time itself flickers out like a tired candle.

I hope. I hope it’s something like that…whatever’s after death. It’s rather simple and simplistic. The hope of some child hoping Christmas will live up to the hype at last. Someone I loved is gone. And the world rolls onward.

 

Oh. I didn’t mean to get into this. I didn’t mean to meander over into some dim little corner where a hope sign blinks fitfully. I meant to write some brittle tripe about some play I’ve birthed forth, not get maudlin. Remain light-hearted, not become a lead-footed philosopher spouting ten cent slogans on sale for a penny at any local community college.

 

Maybe I will dream a little dream tonight. And get to sit in on a game of five card draw, with my mother to my left, my uncle in front of me, my grandmothers…my grandfathers…telling stories, laughing at all the right places, shivering when a shiver is called for. Smiling at me and urging me to bet it all, bet it all, why not. And I’ll fill my inside straight and my mother will beat me with a full boat and my grandpa will tell about the time he sailed over the equator and…

Maybe I will dream a little dream tonight.

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