Eternal Reward

Leeds Road Community Hospital

One must assume that nurses make very good patients. That is, they must possess an acute ability to self-diagnose. That is why when Nurse Santania awoke this morning with a high fever, generalized weakness, a headache, and sore throat and watery discharge from her nose, that is when Nurse Santania knew she had a fever. Or at least so she thought. She arrived to her own hospital, asked the front desk to admit her as a patient, and was prepared to be given a healthy dose of one of the common treatments for flu. So the nurses attending her ran all of the tests, just to be sure, even though Nurse Santania had already provided the diagnosis. The results came back, and sure enough, the nurses sent her home with goodies in hand. The following week Nurse Santania took off, just to play it safe for the sake of her patients. Taking her medicine regularly, Nurse Santania continued to notice other signs developing during that week. She found herself with a cough and shortness of breath, seizures and lack of coordination, difficulty swallowing, mental symptoms such as confusion and forgetfulness, severe and persistent diarrhea, fever, vision loss, nausea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting, weight loss and extreme fatigue, severe headaches with neck stiffness, and a coma. She woke up, went to the hospital where they ran more tests on her, and a new prognosis was given. Nurse Santania was diagnosed with AIDS, and given two or three more years to live. But fortunately for her, a cure was in the works.

Theodore was about to happen upon an important discovery within the domain of medicine. After years of familiarity with his own body, Theodore had discovered something he believed to be unique amongst men in his blood. As most upstanding citizens do, Theodore often went to donate blood, yet every time he went the nurses would comment on the greenish color of it and be taken aback by the appearance, until a handful of tests were run and it was revealed to be a relatively normal sample of O Positive blood, normal minus the green coloration of course. Once Theodore read about Nurse Santania’s condition from the heart-rending support provided for her in the local newspaper, he knew what had to be done. Theodore put on his sports jacket, and began to walk to the hospital an untold number of miles away. He arrived, checked the address he had written down on a small piece of paper just to make sure it was the right place, and walked inside with his solution in hand: a single vial of his green blood, labeled in black sharpie “O Positive” on the vial. He approached the front desk, gave a quick overview of the situation, and requested an audience with Nurse Santania and her attending nurses. Tests were run on his vial of blood in order to reassure the nurses of its legitimacy, and then Nurse Santania was given more blood tests to ensure compatibility. Once the two were effectively linked, Theodore asked for one condition: to be allowed to present the vial to Nurse Santania himself. The condition was granted, and he entered her room, holding the vial up in one hand, he pulled back the curtain to reveal her in a weary but awakened state. He said, “Nurse Santania, your nurses just approved a transfusion with my blood to attempt to cure your condition. We thought it might help and that you might like it because it’s green. Even if it doesn’t work, at least it’s your favorite color.” With that, Nurse Santania smiled a large but weary smile. But her other visitor had other plans. The man standing across from Theodore, holding Nurse Santania’s weakened hand was a man in a suit who cut in, “Thanks, but we’ve already made an agreement. In exchange for my placebo, Nurse Santania has just signed paperwork to hand over her life’s savings to me. I’m afraid she won’t be able to afford such a transfusion. Sorry.” With that, Nurse Santania nodded her head in agreement, leaving Theodore standing there astonished. An awkward silence helped Theodore realize that he was no longer wanted there, and he turned around and left as the others stared after him. He tossed the vial onto a nurse’s cart as he passed, headed for the hospital exit, and began his walk home.

Theodore

On his journey home, while passing through a city along the way underneath the warm afternoon sun, Theodore came across a construction site. There, a group of shirtless men were stacking tree branches in attempt to make a hut. Theodore stopped and asked what they were doing. One of the men stopped, looked at him, and answered, “We were contracted to construct a new hotel here. We were the cheapest bidders, so they hired us even though we collectively have no experience in construction. We’re supposed to have it done by the end of the week, but I don’t think we’re going to make it.” As he finished his sentence, the sticks fell again, resetting the project to the beginning once more. “Don’t worry,” Theodore reassured them, “I’ll help. But first, we’re going to need new building materials this just isn’t going to work.” The construction worker replied, “But, sir, we can’t afford any other materials. You see, they aren’t actually going to pay us until the job is completed satisfactorily!” Theodore replied, “I’ll take care of it.” And with that, he walked off down the street, through the rest of the city, and headed to an old stone quarry he knew of just a couple miles outside the city. There, he looked around for what would become the cornerstone of his foundation, and settling on a large stone he found, he loaded it on his back and make the trek to the city, all the way back to the construction site. There, het set down the stone in the middle of where he knew the building should go, the site now cleared of the sticks used earlier. And he began the track back to the outskirts of the city into the rock quarry for the next piece, continuing until the foundation was laid completely. The construction workers were curious and thankful, standing around wondering at what was being built before their eyes, appreciative yet inquisitively speculative at what was being laid out before them. Theodore continued hauling large stones back until the midday sun became dusk, and as the temperature cooled he was relieved, and continued hauling stones until darkness as the men trickled away back to their own homes, lives and wives. Now in the pitch of night, Theodore decided to pull out his head lamp and work on reshaping the stones with piece of sandpaper from his pocket. He worked the sandpaper, shaping the stones into a visually impressive construction. When the men arrived again in the morning, they were awed at what Theodore had  been able to accomplish, and stood there watching as Theodore resumed his trek now that daylight was once again in support of the project. Theodore continued at this cadence for an entire week, trekking to the quarry during daylight hours with the men standing by watching, and using his headlamp to work the sandpaper in the solitude of the night. Three stories later, to include sumptuous penthouses, formal dining rooms, maid’s rooms and wood burning fireplaces, and not least one particular group of astonished construction workers, Theodore completed the project. The head of the group, the man Theodore had been conversing with at the outset of the project called his employer who set a date for the grand opening ribbon ceremony. Theodore stood wearily stood watch over his project the night before the event, and opened his eyes in alarm when the ground beneath his feet began to tremble. He looked up at his enormous project that began to sway as the ground beneath it cracked open, suspending it in midair. Embarrassingly, when the first reporters began to arrive early the next morning, it was discovered that though the building was thankfully not damaged by the earthquake, but was now suspended in midair and inaccessible to anyone without powers of levitation. So the rest of the guests arrived, and then the owner, all displeased with this turn of events. They eventually left in disappointment, while the owner lectured the workers on what this meant to him and to their previously agreed upon pay. Now only the local magician was interested in a room, and since his price for a rental could not defray the costs incurred by the management company’s advertising campaign for the hotel, the workers would remain unpaid. Embarrassed and ashamed of the problems he had caused, Theodore apologetically left the media frenzy, walked through the air over the chasm to get to the entrance of the hotel, and went inside to find a room and take a nap.

South-eastern end of chasm

When Theodore awoke from his nap, he locked up his room and headed for the hotel exit through the hollow maze that was the unoccupied hotel. He walked outside, across the chasm and down to the ground. Nearby, on a stone park bench was a little girl with her face in her hands shoulders shaking from uncontrollable sobbing. Theodore sat down next to her not saying anything, waiting for an opportunity to console her. But she continued there, sobbing into her hands without looking up, while Theodore sat next to her, looking around and pondering what to say. Finally, after an hour of this, Theodore looked down at his feet and happened to glance at the puddle that had formed under the girl’s dangling legs. He said, “It looks like your feet are going to get wet.” The girl paused from her sobbing to look up at him briefly, then leaned over and buried her face into his shoulder, sobbing once more. Theodore reached his arm around her and she continued to cry into his chest. After a moment, the girl spoke. “It’s just not fair!” the girl said through her tears. “What’s not fair?” Theodore asked. “Life’s not fair,” the girl responded. “Boys,” she started before her weeping once again overcame her speech. She caught her breath and began again, “Boys won’t even look at me,” which began another fit of labored breathing through uncontrollable sobs. “One time,” she sniffled, “I saw this cute guy, so I smiled at him, but he didn’t notice, so I walked over to him and asked him what time it was.” Theodore was listening attentively as she struggled through her sobbing. “And you know what he told me? He said ‘It’s time for you to buy a watch. Now get lost little girl.’” The girl’s tears started to flow more strongly, “And he didn’t even offer to buy me one!” The girl broke into another fit of crying. Theodore said, “There, there, it can’t be so bad, can it? I mean you’re a very lovely girl.” As he said this the girl started swinging her legs, splashing the salty water that was now halfway up the bench. Theodore’s feet were already soaked, so he continued to console the girl, not always noticing the rising water level from her tears. “I’m just so sick of boys!” she shouted, burying her face deeper into Theodore’s chest. Theodore looked around, thankful for seeing nobody in sight, and wondered how to respond to this sort of outburst, being a boy himself and all. The girl, realizing to whom she had just spoken these words, looked up at Theodore and stated apologetically, “I suppose you’re alright though, not like my ex-boyfriend, who…” and the girl resumed her crying, shoulders shaking at memories unspoken. “You know,” she sobbed, “sometimes the boys ignore me when I need their attention.” She continued to cry, the salty water level around them was now just below the seat of the park bench, near Theodore’s knees. He was in too deep now to do anything but just sit there and listen, and try to console this poor girl with her broken heart and her tales of woe. “But sometimes,” the girl resumed, “they do too much.” The girl hesitated a moment before quickly blurting out, “He touched me.” Feeling awkward again because of his gender, Theodore continued to hold the girl tight, hoping to console away any feelings of ill that the girl may have toward him or his gender. “So now I’m tainted and nobody will ever want me!” the girl cried as if her fate were sealed.  Then she asked, “Do you want to get married?” With this sudden proposition, Theodore had to get up and step away. As he did, the park bench came unbolted from the ground and began to float away. The girl stared after him as she floated along, toward the hotel. Her tears had just filled the chasm caused by the earthquake, and now the grand hotel that Theodore built could now be accessed by boat. So Theodore set off in hopes of restoring business to the hotel, and would be sure to provide warning of the sobbing girl on the park bench.

Theodore decided to return to the hospital from which he came in order to check back up on Nurse Santania. So he headed back, picking up flowers, balloons and a ‘Get Well Soon’ card along the way. When he arrived at the hospital and walked through the entrance, he couldn’t help but notice the contrast with the harsh desert landscape outside of the city, beyond the doors he had just walked through. The hospital was clean, to such a degree that the hospital’s sterility made everything seem so new, regardless of how many years it had been taking care of patients. It was as if it were stuck in time, a time when everything’s okay, and nobody gets sick or dies. The walls were always freshly painted, the floor so shiny it didn’t ever need to be buffed. No matter how much foot traffic, no matter how many bleeding, sick, coughing, or mangled forms may have come through those hospital doors, it remained pristine for every visit. Perhaps the custodial staff members were simply more evolved than their primary and secondary school brethren. And surely none of the sports stadiums could hope for such a state, either. And don’t think for a second it’s about numbers, because surely people start dying every day, and their families must love them enough to come visit regularly. But that wasn’t why Theodore wanted to visit Nurse Santania again before she inevitably ascended to a place even more immaculate than this hospital, if that can even be believed.

Upon arriving to Nurse Santania’s room and delivering the gifts, placing them amongst those from numerous others, from families, boyfriends, co-workers, and the like, Theodore was disappointed to see Nurse Santania’s condition had not improved, despite the contract with the man and his placebo cure. Theodore couldn’t stand to see her suffer like this, so he left to go to the waiting room, thinking, trying to devise a plan to nurse the Nurse Santania back to the healthy condition that she deserved, that all humans deserve to enjoy. How cruel must be the death that takes so much away, that causes suffering for its patients, and their families by extension. But Theodore would not have it. He knew life could be so much more, and was determined to give it. But he knew it would require a sacrifice on his part, in order to appease that cruel god of the underworld. But he promised to himself that even Hell would suffer, if anyone from there decided to interfere. And then at that moment, he knew what to do. Theodore was fit, probably more so than his contemporaries and those slightly younger as well. Years of Adonis-like pursuit had helped him sculpt broad shoulders, a large chest, a solid abdomen, and even the vanity of flexed biceps and firm buttocks. But these would not help him directly now. But the effects of such dedication to one’s body is a long-term gift that older men seek as well, the improvements in overall health, from immunity to diseases to heightened cardiovascular functioning, it is those muscles unseen that actually benefit most. And that is what Theodore would sacrifice to help. He left the waiting room to enter the spotless latrines and began to cultivate his donation by taking his pocket knife from his side and making a small incision along the left side of his chest, cutting through sinew that he knew would take months to repair, sapping his strength before it would ever return to normal. But that is the sacrifice he knew had to be made. When he completed the incision to a certain length, he reached in and pulled out his beating heart. Looking at it beating in his hand, Theodore nodded to himself and began to head upstairs to Nurse Santania. When the doctors and nurses had seen what Theodore had done, they took the heart from him and assumedly prepped Nurse Santania for surgery. Someone took Theodore by the arm, and led him down the hall somewhere to sit and rest while his deed was carried out by the ever-competent care staff that surrounded Nurse Santania and made the hospital a place of hope and optimism that assuaged irrational and of rational fears alike with the same effectiveness.

But it didn’t work. As per usual, Theodore’s efforts were fruitless. It seemed to him that no matter how hard he tried, no matter how much effort he put into something, it was bound to fail. He could learn how to part the ocean, only to have to move a mountain next. And moving mountains can wear on a person. They’re heavy, and quite an inconvenience to have to push around. All he wanted to do was help, but sometimes he ran low on energy to give. Because even if he did learn how to part the sea, somebody else would outdo him by walking on water. How long can a person continue to do things for others when it never works in anybody’s favor? Theodore imagined that he could have been an oracle, but people would stop coming to him once they assumed they knew more than he did. If only he could communicate better, but no, nobody would ever believe Theodore the Oracle. But he knew he couldn’t give up, that he had more to give, and thus would yet give more.

So Theodore sat up in his bed, still quite weary from the loss of his heart, but began to attempt to devise a plan that would save Nurse Santania once and for all. So he reached over to his heart monitor, opened it up, modified a few capacitors, and began typing his plan on the heart monitor. He googled possible solutions or cures for Nurse Santania’s conditions, wishing all along that the Oracles were still around. But they had all retired already, having shared their knowledge with everyone, giving up everything they knew. Hmmm, ‘giving up everything’? Does that really work? Sacrifice? Well it surely must have worked for people like the Mesoamericans, with their angry gods always demanding an irrational contribution to their prosperity, in conjunction with the priests that coincidentally became prosperous as well. But that was in the past. He had to find a solution in the present. So what could our God want in exchange for Nurse Santania’s health? What sort of profit does our God seek from his cruel world? Then Theodore thought he understood. If our God created man in his image, surely he’d want an image of himself? Theodore could send him a picture, but how do you send a picture to our God? So he decided to send himself instead. Surely our God would appreciate the presence of another, as he’s seated on his lonely throne, ruling the world with chaos. And that’s what Theodore would give him. Nothing enough to appease him, but perhaps something to subdue our God’s wrath ever so slightly to give Nurse Santania back everything that our God had stolen from her. So Theodore took the pistol from the holster on his left hip, and gave his final gift to the world. Sure, his parents might be angry, but at least he had helped.

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Statue of Limitations

Pygmalion & Galatea

Crieried is a beautiful statue girl with skin like porcelain. Her perfectly shaped features are preserved as a statue. The light of day glints off her cheeks and under her breasts, accentuating curves and bringing attention to all of her best features. But on days when her smooth porcelain skin is shrouded by an internal darkness, another glint can be seen on her face. Tears. Crieried’s beauty contrasted her sadness within, for all God had given Crieried to be looked upon, she could feel nothing. For her porcelain skin preserves her beauty, yes, but it is so cold to the touch.

It wasn’t until Crieried’s father touched her at the age of two that she learned the effects of a man’s touch on her. Crieried’s porcelain-skin diapered child’s body would learn that her father’s touch slowly warmed and softened her skin, beginning at her wrists, and slowly melting the hard exterior to skin warm and soft that longed for his touch. Her uncle began to touch her at the age of five, and her desire for the warmth and softness of skin that so many others knew better than her, it made her want it even more.

Crieried began to allow the boys in school to touch her. What she desired, she did not seek, but allowed to occur with fully complacent complicity. When she was 13, and boys and girls began to play together and mingle, having sleepovers and telling secrets, but before feelings were told, Crieried let the boys at school touch her. Giggling nights led to giggling overnights, and to wee hours of the morning. Those nights were when Crieried allowed the boys from school to touch her, nervously fulfilling the hidden desires of sensations of the touch.

Children at a .

Crieried continued this behavior through her youth, but saturations of desire led to the loosening of standards and the lenience of boundaries until she lost all control. Once that last battle was fought, her once satiated self experienced drained emotions, sucked away until nothing was left inside except a longing for what was, and yet the feeling of filth remains to taint her desires. This was when Crieried turned 17, and yearned for something even more, that her life should be changed, and that she could live the way others do, become normal. So Crieried let the boys touch her less, so she could recover her self-worth and stave her desires of the flesh.

But the effects of this wracked her emotions. It could be seen by her once silky hair becoming preserved in a rather disheveled state. Crieried wandered around the city, lonesome, empty, seeking not something, because it could not be named, and not anything, because she could not settle, so she was left wanting. Her judgments then became clouded, and her mind numbed, wandering as she did, making her oblivious to the rest of the world. That is when she crossed the street, and a man named Maurice, driving his car, speeding along, clipped poor Crieried and sent her through the air bouncing against the pavement until she finally came to a stop. Maurice frantically exited the car, slammed the door, and rushed to kneel beside our poor soul Crieried.

Pont de l'Alma

She lied on the ground motionless, blank eyes staring to the sky, not acknowledging Maurice or his presence. Maurice wondered, Oh God what have I done!? and reached down to clasp Crieried’s small hand within his. As he touched her, her skin began to warm, slowly spreading along her body, distorting limbs along the way, gradually revealing cuts, scrapes, bruises, and upon her face, tears. Realizing what he had done, Maurice began to cry, closing his eyes, and as he did, Crieried looked up at him with a gentle smile on her face and whispered, Thank You. Maurice opened his eyes to look at her, and that is when Crieried’s life ended.

Ignored

Sometimes I feel like cold snow after a snowfall, clinging to a windshield to escape the cold winds.

I’m afraid I’ll someone will brush me off before I find the warmth I seek from inside.

My sand brethren are tossed from the desert like dirt by the sandstorms.

Dust Storm

And they too rest on windshields, seeking shelter from the blustery winds.

But they too will get brushed off, before they find safety or calm.

It is hopeful that when they are tossed again by the sandstorm, they will find a shoulder to rest.

Before they are sent aground again by one who does not wish them there.

A toupee flaps back and reveals its owner’s true beauty.

Creating an illusion that is no longer a disguise.

Now in the rain and the darkness that must come with ominous, his umbrella attempts the same trick.

It must be forgiven for merely turning itself inside out.

We have no past other than memories, because we are the future and tend to forget.

Others may remember, but they are the lucky ones who cannot be forgotten.

How do I become one of them?

Nobody answers because nobody’s listening.

Maybe I should run away to a faraway place, where life is fantasy, and nobody knows the difference.

Who could find me there?

I pretend that somebody’s listening, and they give me the answer I’d like to hear.

I could go even further, to find a place where everyone supposedly goes someday.

I don’t want to go to a place like that.

Whoever came up with the horrible idea for this place surely can do no better there.

I should just wait, like a tree, or that man who slept beneath one.

Life size bronze of Rip Van Winkle sculpted by...

He surely didn’t know the difference.

Someone would surely find me there, and expose me to the world’s denials.

Invisible powers activate when least needed and most heeded.

Forever Hold Your Peace

Maia Engagement Ring

She had to make a decision, and she chose to stay with you forever. She promised to remain faithful and not to succumb to temptation ever. She reaffirmed her love with a feeling gesture that would come to mean nothing at all in the end. Delilah gave you all her love, and you gave her everything in return, but it would not be enough. She refused temptation, and that is when the bond was broken. As soon as she placed that mantle of trust upon her own shoulders, she turned to dust in your embrace. You lost her through no fault of your own, just a futile battle against the inevitable.

Had you kept her things may have been different, but not as you’d imagine. Once she succumbed to temptation, you would know a different Delilah. A monster. Her embrace would make you suffocate, and your skin writhe. Pleasantries start arguments, and love leads to war. So it must have been written, or else it could not be. There is nothing you can do now. You must leave. It is too late. The Delilah you knew before is gone forever. Now you must suffer for what you have done, for what she did. You can’t escape the end, because it was always meant to be.

Dead rose with fresh sprout

You will always be reminded of what happened, with no recompense for your love. It cannot be erased, it cannot be undone. Mistakes made are lessons learned, and thus can never be replaced by perfection lest you must be taught everything anew. Everything you gave her will sting again for eternity. And now all you can do is fight to make things right once more. Yet you shall never find the justice you seek. She loved you and you so much her. But now you must fight with the emptiness. It drains your energy and disrupts every comfort with pain. But you must continue to fight.

But don’t allow a certainly uncertain future dissuade you now, for the feelings you will receive in prolonged moments of forever will either subside or subsist at the whim of random memories. These are the chances of remembrance for which you strive. Allow your butterfly heart free to flutter and chance upon delights yet unknown. And should they be forgotten, you’ll be able to accept that they were once fleeting memories. Live for the day, the hour, the minute, every second you would never trade for anyone, for any place, any idea of any thing that may be valued.

Catocala delilah

Later, you will regret, and swear that never should it have been so. But it was, and should you honestly deceive your former selves in each of those moments in time, you shall know it for false that your former selves revealed untruths. But am I not a changed man? You’ll ask yourself. That former self is no longer the latter I am. He shall be forgiven his sins, but I am unable to forgive one who is not me but may once have been. For it is I who now bear the burden, and regret is mine to hoard, to keep, to allow to fester and rot apart my insides until something bursts, something changes, and everything can, for once and for all, let go, be forgotten, released from the torment that mocks me so. It must be forgiven, yes, but it is not me who has the power to do so. No, that is the hest of a soul much more pure than my own wretched state of man.

The Age of Reason

Veronica was on her way home to her family when she first met Vincent. She had a ring on her finger and a husband at home. He was now a businessman, having snatched up his young wife a number of years ago. He was now well off and able to provide stable financial support for his wife and their two daughters. The first to ravage his beautiful young wife, he was a number of years older than his teenage bride at the time. Had her husband been a man who insisted, he could’ve produced sons, but as a man who acquiesced, he filled his teenage bride with two daughters instead. Such is the case when beauty causes men to falter.

Veronica

But now is later, and their lovely daughters are now lovely young women with daughters of their own. His once astonishing young wife is now merely amazing for her age. Her face is still beautiful, but proximity reveals wrinkles around the corners of her eyes and mouth. Her smile still lights her face. Her skin is soft, and her shape is smooth. When she takes off her clothes, in lingerie she could warm any man’s loins. But maybe her breasts sag a little, or may they don’t but her skin shows the colored patterns of age. Maybe her buttocks aren’t as firm as they once were, but remember that she’s had two children. Age wears on all of God’s creatures, no matter how blessed they once were. Of course, a man could still enjoy her body, even though a moist crotch would still give way to her now eternally dry passageway. Those gates are closed forever from youth.

But this story is not about Veronica. Our protagonist is Vincent, the one she met not long ago. Fate makes those things happen. Vincent was a war veteran, but not of the retired variety. Vincent was a child soldier during the War, and his enlistment records show he had been stationed on both fronts. War taught Vincent emotions. Some of these most men never experience, and some others experienced to depths unknown. He learned loss, of course, when his best friend didn’t make it through, and then nights of crying, wondering why, just why? The emptiness, the numbness, not being able to feel anything despite the knowledge that there are things to be felt, good or bad, they just wouldn’t register. And joy, much more the same than many think, the adrenaline rushes, accomplishment, survival of the most fit. Then the anger, the rage, “Hulk SMASH!” in not so many words. And the love, the feeling of euphoric orgasm of the soul. And he felt whatever residuals remained, the bitterness, the loneliness of experiences no longer shared, changed excitements, and everything that War does to man, without actually changing who he is.

Vincent wearing the ...

But remember, Vincent is a war veteran. He’s been normalized for what he can, and is a child soldier no more. At the age of fourteen, the War is now behind him, at least chronologically speaking. For all effects, Vincent leads a normal 14-year-old life, with friends and joys and cares. He even met a beautiful girl just recently, named Ashley. She must be 13 or 14 as well, a friend through acquaintances. Ashley caught Vincent the first time they met with eyes like Venus fly traps. Such kind, welcoming eyes, poisoning their prey with a smile. Ashley had a beautifully structured face, with each part carefully calculated to entice. But something else was wrong with Ashley. Something Vincent couldn’t ever hope to overcome. Ashley was mute. It was on learning this that he left. “That’s life,” he said, and walked away, perhaps forever.

Now is when Vincent and Veronica resurface together, but don’t go thinking that was all a setup to create a love story for them. Because remember, Veronica is married. Had someone like Vincent arrived before, then maybe it could have set up another love story. But it is not to be. Fate was not so kind, at least not to ours. So let’s just forget it was even mentioned. What’s passed is past, and what’s past is passed. In fact, just to show it’s not their love story, when Veronica and Vincent met, there were no ‘sparks’ to describe, or ‘connections’ made. He simply looked at her, and she looked at him. Maybe one of them lowered their eyes, but surely nothing more. They were going to the same place, but alas to different destinations. Oh how fate punishes those who don’t deserve it. But this is how their relationship began.

Childhood Home

Time passed, as it often does, and Veronica and Vincent started hanging out. He would go to her house, or less often she to his apartment. There they would sit and just talk about life, each nervous at first, hearts pounding to escape their chests and reveal themselves, at least until they adjusted into being friends. Two people sharing with each other, laughing at the same things, or feeling the same angers and frustrations. They began to hate each others’ enemies, and admire their friends. Moments of silence would allow for the return of heart-pounding nervousness, assuaged by broken silence and a return to laughter, sharing, hoping and dreaming. Until one day when it all stopped.

We all know that conversations with close companions can segue into shared interests, hobbies, and the like. So of course it was only natural for Vincent to progress their relationship to the next stage. And Veronica felt the sane. But this is where the rift began. It started small, with Vincent wanting to watch cartoons at her house. He was excited to share the characters and the stories that resonated with his own life and experiences. But Veronica didn’t understand. So she attempted to bridge the gap, sharing with Vincent all the gossip of the neighborhood, the husbands, wives and families nearby. But Vincent didn’t understand. Now here they had come all this way developing a comforting relationship, and they were already losing commonalities. Soon after, Veronica stopped calling. And Vincent lost his desire to do the same. Time had created irresolvable differences, and therein lies the parable.

Invisible

The span of the San Ivan River is a rich wildlife habitat that some claim as the most fertile region in the world. Its source is a spring at the foot of Mount Pedro. It then runs south through rolling grasslands, drops off at the Caliente Falls, flows alongside flourishing towns and villages, cuts through the Cowboy Mountains, and finally empties into Lake Triste. Trails trodden by Indians going from village to village have created ideal hiking conditions for any aspiring outdoorsman. The trails are easily navigable throughout each of the regions four seasons. Travelers can navigate the trails any time of the year, allowing them to see ice-covered falls, flowering meadows, sandy beaches, or blossoming trees. There are even 100-gallon water station barrels along the trails, placed for travelers as places to rest and replenish their water supply with purified water sources. Guides are available to explain the history of the region, beginning from the when the river’s path was first dug out.

Pidurutalagala (Mount Pedro)

Decades later, plant growth along the river’s edges brought civilization back to the region. Families began constructing homes within reach of the river’s shores, grouping into settlements with other families, until the entire region became populated. Women would travel to the river and gather water, while the men improved upon their homes or worked in small gardens. Children would play around all of them, until they were shooed away, when they would go play around someone else. Some of the men even began expanding their gardens into sustainable farms once the minor irrigation systems were built. Of course, none of this would have been possible if not for the man who dug the river, and when tour guides began populating this river oasis, they learned that his name was Ivan.

Ivan was thought to live near Lake Triste, where he took baths. After the market was built at the northern part of the river, he was also known to visit weekly for supplies. The men who had seen Ivan said he was always smiling, offering generously to give a hand for anything, but asked nothing in return. He would offer to work their farms, build their houses, carry their water, and even clean the children when they came back from playing in the mud. He never asked for anything, nor did he ever explain who he was or that it was he who built the river. He was simply content to work, and that is all they ever knew. The husbands told their wives of this great friend that was a friend without sustained friendship, and this made the wives, and the gossiped widows and girls, suspicious, because they had never seen Ivan. The husbands told how he could be seen around Lake Triste, or on his hikes to the northern Market, how much he smiled around at everyone while at that market, and even pointed to him when he was working with them. But the women talked amongst themselves about their husbands, because the women never saw Ivan. So the men became more adamant, taking their families to the beaches at Crater Lake for family vacations. There, the men would stop and talk to Ivan as he was emptying sandbags, help him carry more down to the beach, and then return to their families. Ivan would smile, and the children would stare at him, but the women would only frown in his direction until he let go of his smile and returned to work. The men wanted Ivan to be recognized, so they would invite him to dinner after a day’s work, but Ivan would politely decline the invitations, smiling and waving before leaving their homes, while the children quietly watched him and the women glared at him as he walked out the door. Ivan became discomfited once the mall was built, because every time he would visit there, per usual, the men would walk up to shake his hand and make small talk while the children looked at him, but the women were never so kind, always shooting him dirty looks that sheepened his smile away.

Eventually Ivan stopped going into public in order to maintain his spirits, but the men were disappointed. No longer did they have the help or kindness that radiated from Ivan, but now they spent their days working alone, and would go home empty, subjected to the full wrath of their wives’ incessant nagging that work wasn’t being done around the house, and the children were becoming unruly. When the first husband killed himself, the men knew something had to be done. Intolerable lives led the men to lobby for Ivan to return. They met together at night in the Trump Tavern that now overlooked the river from the foot of Lake Triste. Ivan was contacted, and with regret he gave his first speech the next day at the funeral procession, called the ‘Funeral Oration.’ But Ivan immediately disappeared again, and husbands continued to end their own lives in desperation.

The men then named Ivan the pharaoh of the San Ivan River region. As pharaoh, Ivan returned to the public, if only to give speeches on the state of the region. His orations were held in the highest regard by the men that heard them broadcast all over the San Ivan River region, and lifted their spirits back to fulfilling, functional lives. His first speech as pharaoh was called, ‘On the Crown,’ wherein Ivan discussed the succession and ascendancy to pharaoh, naming any man worthy, provided that he had prior experience. The men rallied to the speech, finding an enormous sense of respect for this egalitarian man that they had named theirs. The men returned home to their wives and talked of their aspirations to the new throne, once Ivan’s eternal reign ended. The wives scoffed, and having not heard the speech, began to presume that the pharaoh’s seat was a way to keep them out of power. They met together and gossiped, but forgot about the possibility of preparing a plan to unseat the pharaoh. Ivan, in his benevolence, began to issue sermons for the morality of the children. His first was the ‘Sermon on the Mount’. Understanding that he was not a god, Ivan concluded his moral teachings with ‘The Farewell Sermons’, and thereafter allowed parents to guide their children’s own morality. Once the San Ivan River region was declared the only freshwater resource left in the world, Ivan immediately stationed troops at outposts along the river to protect the region from invaders. Prior to sending them out on the very first watch, he spoke to them at their fort, giving each a bottle of water from the San Ivan River that would heal any wounds sustained.

Following the war, Ivan found other issues he had to deal with. Taking advantage of the possibility of war, a group had formed against his administration called ‘The Troubleshooters’. This group identified problems with Ivan’s administration, but offered no solutions. They gossiped about it loudly in places about the city, but no action was ever taken. The group eventually disbanded because of a lack of leadership and splinter groups forming. As a man who despised inaction, Ivan did not let their actions go, but rebuked the group for such devious intentions with his “Ain’t I a Man?” speech. The speech was given in front of a large double-arched hotel in the middle of the city. At the end of the speech, as Ivan waved to the crowd and began to walk away, shots were fired. He ducked, and was rushed to cover by his bodyguard. The shooter was immediately apprehended by the crowd and handed over to police, while Ivan was rushed to the hospital. Ivan sustained no injuries during the event, and once released immediately held another press conference to announce his resignation, to the chagrin of his supporters. His assailant was put on trial, and eventually declared not guilty by a jury and released despite what seemed to be overwhelming evidence. Ivan allegedly retired to a treehouse he had built, and was never seen or heard from again. Some tour guides point out his possible location, labeled outside with a sign that reads, “no girls allowed.”