“A little didn’t do it, so a little got more and more…” Breakthrough for the week of 2/27/2017

I’ve spent the last twelve months enmeshed in Facebook gambling addiction; being with one of my best friends while her partner died; surviving skin cancer; going clean from gambling; living in withdrawal (the pain no less then the pain of using, but infused with feeling more and more alive and with the knowledge that I may not have to go through kicking the drug again); seeing the Evil One elected – but not by popular vote; breaking my kneecap on Winter Solstice and living the last two months with a leg brace, walker and no driving. Friends helped me make it through the kneecap healing – that was one of the miracles of the last twelve months. Writing was both medicine and task. Then a week ago, I understood the gift I’d been given. (I don’t say that lightly.)

I was allowed to remove the leg brace. I worked out how to drive and found myself walking into the glittery, human-packed heart of a miracle. I shopped in Target. I wasn’t aware that I felt like myself until I sat in the driver’s seat, ripped off the beat-up gray hoodie I’d worn as a jacket everyday of my convalescence, bit off the tags on a new red hooded sweatshirt and pulled it on. In those moments, I knew that I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt pure joy. There’s no real moral here, except perhaps that counting on red sweatshirts to make me happy is as futile as chasing Facebook jackpots.  And writing this post feels like coming home.

Note: for those of you either two young or two old to know the reference, here are a few lines from Guns N Roses Mr. Brownstone:  I used ta do a little but a little wouldn’t do
So the little got more and more
I just keep tryin’ ta get a little better
Said a little better than before
I used ta do a little but a little wouldn’t do
So the little got more and more
I just keep tryin’ ta get a little better
Said a little better than before

We’ve all got our version of this impossible equation: booze, drugs, work, internet, busyness, controlling other people. Use the first two lines of the song as your prompt. Send us what you write. If you need to be anonymous, no problem.

Here are two fine pieces from last week’s prompt:

I descend to the place of death. There is more light than I expected. I make myself look around – and I find:

I must have been to other funerals, but this is the first one that mattered. I sat on an uncomfortable bench in the small sanctuary of a church I had never seen the inside of. The service was a midmorning affair, more for convenience than for any sort of “new day dawning” significance, I suspected.

From the outside, the little church was somewhat unprepossessing; undressed gray stone with a sort of half-hearted attempt at a gothic spire. The main doors were thoroughly medieval though, solid wood with iron bands, suitable for repelling farmers with torches and pitchforks.

The pastor shook our hands, thanking us all for coming. He was a man I had loved and hated and felt a supreme amount of indifference to over the years. Now he was distracting me, pulling my focus from the open doors and the dark interior. The warrior in me wanted to get on with this, to honor the dead and then leave, with stoicism intact. The child in me wanted to ask the pastor about his garden, his wife, his vacation to Colorado.

Finally adopting a peculiar mindset that was a combination of bravery, openness, and wrath I forced my way through the darkness at the door. I mustered pride for the knowledge of the bond we had forged, and fear that my pride was mere hubris here in this room full of people who knew her longer than I.

Her coffin was just inside the door, the first thing I saw once my eyes adjusted. It was a pale blue with silver fittings and it sat in a perfectly directed sunbeam through one of the stained glass windows. The rest of the room darkened around me, blinders forcing my eyes, my mind and my breaking heart to focus on the box that could have contained anything, or nothing. I did not have to see inside to know.

Voices around me spoke, in hushed tones like susurrations of the sea. Small, cold waves of sound breaking over me while all I could do was stare at her coffin.

I heard my name, low but clear through the white noise in my ears. I was being pulled gently away, to the front of the church where close family would claim pride of place although it seemed to me that sitting to the front was farther from her and I would be just as happy to stay in the back.

Once my eyes were redirected from that blue box in the single sunbeam, I was distantly surprised to see that the interior of the church was full of color, full of sunbeams streaming through the multitude of stained glass windows which only looked like gray ice from the outside. The pews each of rich oak glowed, the old carpets worn but clean were of many noble and subtle colors. The tasteful bouquets at the foot of the lectern were not happy or healing or anything but slowly dying representations of sorrow.

It was much brighter than I had thought it would be. Bright enough that I could see the faces of my family. It was fitting, for she had loved the sunshine.  —Cin Norris


I descend to the place of death. I expect murky darkness, and instead, I discover light enough to see. The sweetness of decay drifts through the cavernous space. The air rests stagnant and damp on my face, my skin.

I make myself look around, and I find what is left. Millions dead. Impressions of life no longer read. Leather, without purpose anymore, ravaged by neglect. Specters of what might have been dance in the light along my periphery and play tricks on my mind. Or, so I think. Chairs, forgotten, gather dust. Desks and tables slowly die under the weight of the dead, covered in vibrant greens and blues and blacks of mold’s creep. A killer stalked, butchered and dined, and he has left the shine of his savagery in the folds of desiccated corpses, strewn about like distracted children’s toys, or playthings of a romping puppy.

I know this killer. He came and went, bent furtively on being top canine in a world of barking dogs. It is the dog who barks the loudest who wins, and the killer – how he did bark, teeth gnashing at logic’s inexorable conclusions.

The anti of the intellect emerged the victor, and mountains of books were his spoils.

Whatever happened to the written word?

Catacombs across the country, like this one in which I stand, bereft of their function by people who no longer care to know.

To know is now a sin, and the perfect sinner, I profess to be, and I will remain, until I, too, take my final descent to the place of death.   —Larry Hendricks





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