Once an Olympian, Always an Olympian

PHOTO PROMPT Copyright -B. W. Beacham

Every day, I push the same cart to and from the supermarket. Arthritis and senility poison me slowly, but I’m a champion.

In ’76, I was pushing a bobsled instead of this creaky contraption. We never stood a chance against those Germans, but that didn’t mar our memories.

Old Jamie and Joe (J-squared) passed years back. Now, Paul’s all I’ve got.

Teddy-boy,” his crackly voice bellows from behind. I turn to see him with two power chairs, painted fierce red, like our sled.

You’ve been a brakeman for too long. Time to be a driver!”

I shove that damn cart into the lake.

We’re going riding!

***Thank you SO much for reading my piece for this week’s Friday Fictioneers. Our wonderful leader, Rochelle, has made quite an art of weaving historical references within her stories. After reading them, I’m always entertained and feel a little smarter! I’ve finally found the courage to follow her lead. This week I challenged myself to learn something about a sport I knew nothing of and reference a specific event in history that wasn’t taught in school.This might not be my most creative work, but it was fun and educational. Please take a look at the other wonderful work of my fellow Fictioneers!

 

 

 

 

For You, I Wait

I remember that day, when they took you away, but you promised to always return,

You said, “Light this candle, bear what you can handle, I’ll be back before its last burn.”

Layers of soot cover every square foot of the walls that witnessed our passion,

The flame fell weaker, hopes dimmed bleaker, and memories of you turned ashen.

Unwilling to settle, I replaced its pedestal, and gave all suitors my refusal,

Wax bled to the floor, survived both World Wars, but we smolder to dust at your funeral.


I‘m so grateful that you took the time to read my piece for this week’s Friday Fictioneers, hosted by the radiant Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. With ninety-one words, I felt the best way to tell this story was through poetry. I truly hope you enjoyed my piece, as I warily crept beyond my comfort zone to write it. If you find the time, give the other fictioneers a good read. You’d be amazed at the variety of stories that branch from each prompt!

 

 

 

A Crescendo of Cries

Lindsey Stirling

My toes dig into the lush grass as I flee to the top of the hill, where I’m only inches from touching the clouds. Where I could climb through their cottony veil and escape into a world not infected with abuse.

If Only… I dream, as I open my tattered violin case and liberate myself in the only way I know. While my violin is meticulously maintained, my heart is desperate for tuning. These mountains are where I repair my strings as they tighten, tarnish, and threaten to break.

As my bow slides and caresses the strings, I twirl around, turning the trees and mountaintops around me into a mesmerizing blur. Drowning in the dizzying smudge of colors, I surrender to the melody that reverberates within my violin and my body. Though I trip and stumble, I recover with the fluidity of a crumbling ballerina. The sun shatters through the clouds, mending my skin and igniting my tempo. The tears and notes pour from me as they would the clouds above. Woven in the rhythm is the wonder of why I was even born if I’m such a burden.

Here, I don’t fear who’s listening. I crescendo without apologies and give the song inside me the rendition it deserves. No rules or restraints by key or meter. Below this mountain, my movements are precise…cautious. But within this span of solitude, where my only audience and critics are the trees, I dance with abandon as we cry together.

I feel the remaining measures of this sonata falling away from my fingertips. Even the composer can’t slay the demon of time as it strangles my music to death.

For I know if I don’t return home in a few minutes, there will be hands wrapped around my neck as well.


 

This was my contribution to this Week’s Writing Challenge. The prompt was to write flash fiction under 300 words. After recently adjusting my style to Friday Fictioneers standards (100 word limit), I was relieved to have some wiggle room.

This story was inspired by the absolutely-talented-beyond-words violinist Lindsey Stirling. I’ve been a longtime fan of hers, and I recently watched her music video “Shatter Me,” featuring Lzzy Hale, and it just captivated me. The emotions behind this piece she wrote stemmed from her struggle with her eating disorder, but for my story, I switched the pain to that stemming from physical abuse. If you haven’t heard any of Lindsey’s music, please take a listen. I highly doubt you’ll regret it. I’m always amazed by her talent, both in her music and dancing, and the energy and authenticity she brings to every piece. If you have a moment, please watch the video below to hear an emotionally raw piece. Warning, the song will probably be stuck in your head for the rest of the day, but that’s not such a bad thing! Thank you so much for reading!

Eternally Grateful,

Adelie

 

Steamy Saturday: Playing With Fire

Happy Saturday to you! I felt bad not posting a Steamy Saturday last week, but it was a ridiculously busy week for me. I was overwhelmed by the process of selling my car and buying a new one in a matter of four days! The little time I did have, I felt it was more important to respond to comments on my published pieces and catch-up on all of my lovely friends’  blogs than to turn out another piece of my own. I’m still playing catch-up, so I apologize if I haven’t made it to your blog yet. I just had to write another story of my own this week because I’ve found that if I only write prompt-based pieces, I don’t gain the personal/creative satisfaction that I need. 🙂
Now, I love to keep my posts brief, as I worry higher word counts will deter readership. However, I’ve determined that my vision for Steamy Saturday doesn’t allow for anecdotes. I’m the kind of person that can’t just jump right to sex, in both my writing and my personal life. Plus, the build-up is half the fun, right? I apologize for the length, but I don’t feel like writing a subpar story just to throw sex at you. I’ve read books that do just that, and I find it repetitive and less than satisfying. You deserve better than that!
So, no matter how much I’ve edited this story, it refuses to be contained in just one post. If you enjoy it, then you get to look forward to its continuation next week. I sincerely hope you do, because this is one of those stories I wish I didn’t have to interrupt with my human need for sleep. Ugh, I’ve really got to take those damn Christmas lights down tomorrow too. Yes, I realize it’s been four months since the actual holiday, and at this point, I might as well leave them up. But hey, we had one hell of a winter, so stop judging me and start steaming up your Saturday! 😀

With all my love and gratitude,

Adelie

 


 

 

Pushing open the heavy glass doors into Marley’s Books, I look around to see the store nearly deserted. Nestled in the quiet and quaint city of Luddington, Michigan, its typical patrons include a few locals and tourists that happen to wander into its 19th century, brick architecture every now and then. The emptiness within its walls doesn’t bother me, as I feel accompanied by the authors lining each aisle I wander down.
I can easily lose a few hours here, but today, I’m determined to peruse only one section. As I approach the bookshelf labeled “New Age,” my eyes scan across several books whose philosophies I’ve never once considered. That is, until my grandfather insisted I study one book. With his dying wish, he assured me that by immersing myself into the life philosophy that he had followed through his golden years, I would better recover from my hectic career hopping within the financial industry.
My fingers, long overdue for a manicure, pull out the Tao Te Ching. I brush off a thin layer of dust before opening the antiquated cover. Within the first few phrases, the translation from Chinese does little to aid my comprehension. Bringing the text closer to my eyes, I squint so intensely that I develop a throbbing headache.
Sighing, I pull my face from the book and notice a figure from the corner of my eye, standing only a couple of feet away. I look over to find a man in his late twenties with tousled, sandy hair and hazel eyes. In his hand is a black book that must be at least a thousand pages or more. His eyes flick up to mine, and a subtle smirk slides upon his lips. I quickly return my gaze to the book in my hand. I’ve never actually made eye contact with a man that so closely resembled the handsomeness of a Greek God. Although, this man, with his purposeful gaze and his stubble sprinkled jaw line, is gorgeous in a rugged way…A way that leads me to reopen my book and dive back into Taoism, as a means for distraction. No matter what verse I flip to, I’m overcome with the urge to flee the store with my less-than-innocent thoughts about the man beside me. Locked into the ground, my feet prevent me from doing just that, and I silently curse them for holding me captive.
“Looks like the Tao is quite perplexing,” a smooth voice mentions from beside me.
“Oh, er-” I look up to see his eyes scanning my face, his brows arching in apparent amusement. “The translation is just…baffling.” I twist my mouth, trying to recover from being caught off-guard.
“I know the feeling,” his teeth barely peek through a soft smile, “I’m decoding some ancient texts, myself.”
“Really, what about?” Any hope of suppressing my inner geek is long gone.
“Ghosts, demons, premonitions of the apocalypse…typical stuff,” he casually replies.
A laugh bursts from my mouth, but I cut it short, noticing that his smirk has settled into a solemn line. “Oh, you um…you believe in that stuff?” I cautiously ask.
“Absolutely. Like I believe in the existence of gravity.”
“I thought all of that was just a myth, no offense.”
“Life would be a lot easier if it was, trust me.”
He glances up and down the aisle, so quickly I barely notice.
“You speak as if you’ve had personal experience with these things.” I turn directly toward him as curiosity bubbles within me.
Shutting the book, he turns to me and closes the gap between us. His chest, only inches away from mine, radiates a warm, woodsy scent.
“More than you could imagine,” he murmurs, “It’s quite exhausting, really.”
“Then why do you do it?” I ask, fighting the magnetism pulling my body closer to his.
“Someone’s got to do the dirty work.” His jaw buckles, and I sense resentment buried beneath his skin.
“You’ve got to take a break sometime…” I bite my lip, stifling the lewd suggestions burning on my tongue.
“Never had a good reason to…Not sure I’d know what to do with myself…” Tilting his head closer to mine, I watch as his eyes trail down to my lips. I slowly swallow and notice the desire quickening my pulse.
“I can think of a few things,” I mention and quickly regret coming on to him so blatantly.
Chuckling under his breath, he looks up at the ceiling before piercing my eyes with his. “I apologize for not asking your name…?”
“It’s Abby. What’s yours?” I feel my skin blush.
“Mitch.” He sighs, and I watch the lustful intrigue drain from his face. “The thing is, Abby, you really don’t want to get mixed up with me.”
“How would you know?” I challenge, as I encounter an entirely new frustration.
Mitch looks over his shoulder before leaning in closer, his eyes narrowing. “What I do isn’t a nine-to-five job. It’s dangerous, and it’s my life…” Running his fingers through his hair, he deeply inhales.
“Well, I’m tired of playing it safe, and I can think for myself.”
“Look Abby, I’m not trying to make decision for you,” his voice escalates, “I’m telling you the facts. Someone always gets hurt, and you’re no exception.”
I scramble to construct a witty retort, but Mitch suddenly pulls me behind him. As he backs up, I’m pinned behind him and the bookcase.
“What the-”
Snapping his head back at me, Mitch’s furrowed eyebrows and clenched jaw silence me. The shelves press into my back, and I strain to look over his shoulder. Though, all I can see is his head scanning from one side of the aisle to the other. The fluorescent lights above start flickering, and he spins around, now pinning me to the front of his chest. I open my mouth to speak, but his harsh eyes demand me to do otherwise.
The quickening of his heart vibrates across my skin, and while I sense we’re under threat, I can’t stop the fantasies that darken my mind. I want so badly for him to slam me against the books even harder, to rip my blouse open, or at the very least, to kiss me. But all I can do is watch as his head rapidly turns from left to right, searching for whatever might be after him…or us.
“They found me. It’s too late,” he whispers. His hot breath sweeps across my cheek and ignites an even deeper craving within me.
The store goes black, and there’s an abrupt rattling in the back of the store. That’s when reality twists my stomach and the yearning that fueled my pulse is immediately replaced by terror. A heavy scraping travels from the back of the store toward us. I hear it weaving through every aisle. Books are thrown from the shelves as the cases crumble to the floor. Only one aisle from ours, the pace of destruction slows, inflicting torture before our inevitable death. I press my eyes shut, but this doesn’t prevent the tears from searing down my cheeks.
Mitch runs his hands up the sides of my body and stops at my shoulders. The rigidity of his body steadies the trembling of mine. The bookcase behind me juts forward. Mitch presses against its frame, as it threatens to collapse on me. The case starts shaking heavily, and I notice the books on both ends of our aisle begin to fly as the shelves crackle beneath them. Whatever these creatures are, I can’t see them.
“Abby, I need you to trust me. Are you ready to run?”
I quickly nod before asking myself the same question.
“We’ve only got thirty seconds before this demolishes the store.” From his coat pocket, Mitch pulls out a metal object, illuminated with red lights. He methodically punches various buttons on it until the weapon buzzes and the lights rapidly flash. As he tosses it to the ground, the object emits a thick fog. He wraps his arm around me, and we run. The fog, so pungent it gags me, rushes out ahead of us. As it rises, the fog reveals the figures surrounding us. Though, instead of attacking, they writhe, as the vapor smothers them. I stumble over a pile of books, but Mitch swiftly lifts me up before I can fall to the floor.
Nearing the front of the store, an earsplitting racket of crackling and rumbling arises from where the device remains. My widened eyes shoot over to his. Amidst the flying sparks and roars of our dying assailants, his eyes focus on mine with calm resolve. Finally reaching the doors, we pull and push, but they don’t budge. Mitch and I look back to the beeping device, but the dense fog blocks our view of anything further than three feet from us. Unflinchingly, he pulls a shiny object from his pocket, a black pistol. With his hand closest to me, he covers my ear and presses my face into his chest. Mitch raises the pistol to the doors in front of us, and I automatically squeeze my eyes shut. All I hear is the faint screeching, muffled by his shirt, and his constant heartbeat. Then this bone shattering vibration, and then another, travels through his body and into mine. He releases my head from his chest but abruptly pulls me forward, sprinting through the sea of shattered glass.
I don’t know what hits me first: the blistering heat, the shaking of the pavement beneath our feet, or the deafening boom that’s quickly replaced by a soprano ringing. Though, I don’t look back.
As we reach his motorcycle, I dutifully put on the helmet he hands me. After helping me settle into the back of his seat, he pulls out the Tao Te Ching from inside his coat and places it in a hidden compartment. Mitch takes his place in front of me and I slide forward, wrapping my arms around the stoic man, whom I’ve known for barely an hour. The engine revs and the bike rumbles beneath us. As we speed away from the rubble that was once my sanctuary, my body melts into a man who has both endangered and saved my life in a matter of minutes.

With Beer and Burden

Copyright – Björn Rudberg

After thirteen years as an oncologist, the closest I’ve come to having a personal life is sitting in this tavern, with my beer and self-condemnation.

Despite how many lives I save, nothing dulls the heart-ripping pain after failing yet another patient. Today it was a young woman. Nothing could stop the cancer from stealing the many years of life she deserved.

Amongst the soulful guitar strumming and melodic conversation, I admire surrounding patrons. Though far from living perfect lives, they somehow manage to carry on.

I persist solely to save lives, though I lack the faith to preserve my own.

*** Thank you so much for reading my contribution to this week’s Friday Fictioneers. I’ll admit this certainly isn’t my best, but some prompts speak to me more than others.

The photo prompt comes from Björn Rudberg. If you haven’t visited his site, I highly suggest it, as his writing is very expressive and unique, to say the least. Also, don’t forget to visit the work of fellow Fictioneers, and perhaps submit your own 100 word story!

Getting to Know the Neighbors

Copyright – Douglas M. MacIlroy

Three weeks ago, they moved in. Since then, we’ve only exchanged waves.

Their second night here, I was gardening at dusk, and noticed their driveway overflowing. Guests walked in wearing various disguises: top hats, opera masks, sombreros…

The neighbors must be theatre enthusiasts.

But then commotion came seeping out from their foggy windows. It wasn’t the  laughing and screaming of typical parties. No, these noises made my cheeks match the tomatoes I was harvesting. I’ve since adjusted my gardening schedule, as these “parties” occur almost daily.

Though, this morning, I found a scuba helmet on my doorstep, a note attached.

“Come join us!”

*** Thanks for reading my post for this week’s Friday Fictioneers! I do hope you’ll visit other 100 word stories based on this photo prompt that are sure to excite, intrigue, and entertain!

 

 

Premiere Steamy Saturday: Quenching the Forbidden Thirst

© Copyright 2014 ProPhotoNut

Happy Friday to you! For a few weeks, I’ve been tossing the idea of submitting some of my more sensual work here. I’ve found that pushing my limits has helped me better develop my skill, so now I’m venturing beyond my comfort zone. I’m not going to lie, writing in this genre tends to be a little more fun than the typical dark stories that come through my writing. Thus, when the inspiration strikes, I mustn’t miss out! I like the idea of starting the weekend on a more lively note, so I intend on incorporating Steamy Saturday as a weekly contribution of mine. I do hope you enjoy:

 

My hands tremble as they slide down his stomach. The tension grows as we fight our bodies’ impulses to savagely devour each other. Until now, our illicit hunger lay dormant. Occasionally there were subtle insinuations, the quick passing of his tongue between his lips or a lingering gaze, but that was the extent of our surfacing desire.
His lips slide down the side of my neck, his sultry breath caressing my skin. As his fiery eyes arrest mine, he sweeps me up, locking our hips together before submerging into the blankets beneath us.
I’ve seen this all before. The mischievous smirk as he unbuttons my blouse, the unclouded moonlight that illuminates every crevice of his sculpted chest. Finally though, my yearning has manifested. I hold my breath as he gazes at me bare, unconfined.

These visions came to me at the most inconvenient times. Those quick glances across the market, when he’d effortlessly balance over-packed crates on both of his shoulders. Or when I’d be escorted down the street in the most luxurious car. While others stared at me with jealousy and disapproval, his eyes held no judgment, only an understanding that this wasn’t the life I’d chosen.
The second I pulled the trigger, abandoning the life my father chose for me and the suitor that feigned loyalty, Blake was there for me. Waiting for me, as I’d prayed he would be all along. No explanation needed. As soon as I knocked on his door, he grabbed a horse, and we fled. Thirteen miles from town, we settled into a sanctuary, what my family would refer to as a deplorable shack. Though residence is temporary, it buys us time to surrender to what we’ve only dreamt about.

My fingers unfasten his belt, as they’ve done in every fantasy before. Yet, before I continue, he brings his lips to mine. In this moment, words are rendered useless. Nothing better expresses our persevering love than the fervid shadows cast as our bodies indulge one another.

no-show

Closing the curtains, I seal myself in solitude.

Only me and the muted screams from outside.

Jubilation ripping through the streets is a stronger sign of spring than a calendar.

I used to be one of them..dancing, drinking, laughing…

Sister told me to join her today … said it would lift my spirits…

Though, the moment I open the door, I know the festivities won’t nourish my barren heart.

Long exhausted from feigning happiness.

Time to ditch the facade and return to my reclusive reality.

Shutting the door, I save the people from the outcries of a famished soul.

*******This is my contribution to this week’s Friday Fictioneers. I hope you enjoyed it. Be sure to check out pieces from fellow Fictioneers!

My gratitude for your support goes far beyond words,

Adelie

 

 

Strictly Business

copyright-Kent Bonham

Derrick takes his mark in a leather jacket and weathered jeans.

I’ve only seen him on screen…until now.

Chloe, right?”

Y-yes.” I stumble forward, only inches from his chest.

You can relax.” He smirks.

I stifle a giggle as the crew makes their calls.

Action!”

Derrick’s steely eyes ignite with lust. “I’ve finally found you.” He pulls me closer.

Until you lose me again.” I scoff.

Believe in me. Nothing but death can separate us now.”

He presses his lips to mine, and the cameras fade away.

Desire for this man grows deeper within me than my role requires.

****This is my submission for this week’s Friday Fictioneers. This time, I decided to make it an even 100 words in length. I do hope you enjoyed it, and I believe you’ll find delight in reading some of the other submissions. Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creating Ticonae

Embed from Getty Images

The prompt for this week’s writing challenge is time travel. My mind was flooded with so many memories I’d love to relive, but I felt apprehension. Currently, I feel that I may have bored you all with too much “me talk,” so I decided to write a fiction piece. Honestly, this didn’t come easy, and there were several times when I wanted to scrap the whole thing. However, I knew I’d feel like a lousy quitter if I didn’t finish and post it…So, here we go:

Like any other day, I click a leash onto Reggie, and we burst out the door. My feet keep cadence with his ambitious panting as we near the soggy trail. Though nearly everything is thawed, a few piles of snow drifts remain.

Around the bend, I notice something glinting through a pile of nearly melted snow. I look to Reggie, whose ears shoot up before he crouches down and cautiously approaches.

Careful, Reg-”

He pounces on the pile and digs furiously. The sun beaming through barren trees brings a spectacular shine to the silver hatch Reggie uncovers. At thirty-three years old, I’d say my adventurous years are behind me. Unable to ignore his wagging tail and hopeful eyes, I surrender to my curiosity.

Grasping the handle with my red mitten, I pull with the strongest force I can summon. No luck.

Well, it was worth a shot,” I mumble before looking up to Reggie. With perked ears and timid panting, he’s not ready to settle.

This time, I use both hands, bracing my feet against the softened earth. Grunting and yanking, I pull the handle until my feet slide out from under me. As I fall to the ground, I hear a creaking pop. Lying in a mix of mud and snow, I raise my eyes to the open hatch. Reggie licks my face and then runs to the hole.

No, Reggie! Reggie, stay here!”

He glances up at me before disappearing, and I scramble to my feet. I look down into the hole, dimly lit with a subtle blue glow. Knowing I don’t have another choice, I lower myself in.

My feet land onto steel flooring, and I look around to find various buttons, screens, and what appears to be a futuristic dashboard with a large black pilot seat. Something pushes into my lower leg, and I stumble, knocking into the wall full of buttons. I hear a big clunk, followed three metallic clinks. Reggie runs into my lap, and our heads snap up to the hatch, now securely shut.

The screens glow on around me, buttons flickering like Christmas lights. A series of beeps emanate from the front screen.

Enter destination,” a robotic voice demands. At this point, my only intention is to get the hell out of here. I scramble, searching for a big red “abort” button.

Default, 100 years,” the system reports, followed by a chiming noise. “Countdown initiated: Ten, nine, eight…

Shit, shit, shit!”

Five, four…”

Ahhhh!” I scream, sliding my hands across rows of buttons.

Two…”

I grab Reggie.

One…”

I close my eyes and brace myself.

Arrival at year twenty-one, fourteen.”

A hissing sound erupts from above my head before a mechanical buckling. Finally, the hatch pops open, along with my eyes. Reggie claws at my legs, begging to be the first to explore.

Ok, but stay close,” I caution before lifting him overhead. Once he’s out, I clutch the frame of the hatch and pull myself up…into sand.

I look around, not to find a lake or ocean but what appears to be a city. We approach a tall, angular building. Just before I touch the doorknob, the glass door dissolves in front of us. Once inside, we walk through a lush forest, more lifelike than any I’ve ever seen. That is, until I see a freestanding elevator.

Reggie and I enter, and before I can find a button in the seamless glass capsule, the doors close. As we rush up several stories, a dreamlike world unfolds beneath us. We gently slow to a halt before the doors open. Across a pristine glass floor, I see a massive wooden desk with red-haired woman wearing a teal pantsuit behind it.

Her eyes meet mine, and she automatically rises from the desk and walks to reach me.

Welcome,” she says, offering her hand to mine. “I’m Jaejain.”

Where am I?”

You’re in Ticonae.” She smiles and, placing her hand behind my elbow, leads me forward. We walk down a wide hallway, and when we reach the last wooden door, a small tray folds out. Jaejain take my hand and rests it on the tray. I watch as a green laser traces around each finger and then illuminates my entire hand from beneath. Three chimes ring before the tray retracts.

Welcome, Meredith,” the door chirps.

How the-?”

You’ll see,” she replies, as we enter a spacious room, larger than my house. Bypassing the luxurious furniture and artistic features, I walk straight to the glass wall, on which Reggie presses his nose.

I look out to see the surrounding buildings, similar in style to this one but not nearly as tall. Beyond the city is an infinite ocean, with sparkling iridescence.

What continent are we on?” I ask, my eyes spanning the horizon.

None. Ticonae is a world, separate from earth,” she answers while meeting me at the window.

Why…?”

Earth became uninhabitable.”

What are you talking about? How?” My pulse quickens.

It became too dangerous.”

Global warming? Pollution?”

No,” she says, turning to me. “People.”

What do you mean?”

There was no distinction between war and non-war anymore. Not only were humans suffering, but other creatures as well.”

Then, how did we get here?”

Let’s sit down. We’ll have some tea.” She leads me to a nearby table on which are two steaming fresh cups of tea. I suddenly realize how thirsty I am and eagerly bring the cup to my mouth.

A group of people joined to find a solution. Some were physicists, others were engineers…The earth was too far down the path of self-destruction to allow for peace.” She leisurely drinks her tea. “So they devised a new world where all creatures live harmoniously…Ticonae.”

I’ve never heard of that planet.”

Ticonae isn’t a planet.” She takes another sip.“It’s an alternate reality.”

But it all seems so real…”

I don’t have all the answers you seek. However, here’s something that does.” She pulls a book out from under the table and places it in my hands.

Creating Ticonae is written in silver across the front of the black, heavy book.

I flip open to the first page to find a photograph. The woman, white haired with glasses, seems oddly familiar to me. I study her outfit, futuristic like Jaejain’s, but something’s out of place. Her necklace. Simultaneously, I trail my hand down to the one I’m wearing, an identical jade elephant pendant on a silver chain.

How…?”

You are the leader…the mastermind behind Ticonae.”

That’s impossible! I’m not a physicist or engineer…or anything like that.”

No, but you’re a visionary. You devote your entire life to giving others an opportunity for peace.”

But…”

I’ll leave you alone to read while I prepare the celebration.”

Celebration? I don’t need a celebration…”

The people of Ticonae have been looking forward to this day for quite some time. Essentially, it’s the birth of Ticonae.”

Before I can argue, she vanishes. I spot a chair off to the side, overlooking Ticonae. As I settle into its luxurious cushion, Reggie lies beside me. I open the book again, this time to the second page, filled with familiar handwriting.

Meredith,

I know this is a lot to process. Though, you must trust Jaejain. After all, I hired her to prepare you for this mission. The two most important tools you’ll need are your compassionate intuition and this book. Do enjoy the celebration tonight, as it holds comparable significance to your independence day. Afterward, be sure to take this book with you and implement the plan once you’ve returned to 2014. I must warn you. There will be moments when you come dangerously close to giving up. At those times, remember all you’ve seen today. Never forget the beauty of a peaceful world and the loving people who got another chance to live because of your dedication and perseverance.

***I extend my deepest gratitude for giving this a read. Like I said, I was seriously considering not submitting anything this week, as I’ve found myself in this weird state in which I can barely collect my thoughts, much less put them on a page. I do hope it brought you some enjoyment. If not, I offer my sincerest apologies and hope that you’ll give me another chance next week!