The Wind at Your Back
After much work and many edits, I have completed my short story “The Wind at Your Back.” Below is a two-paragraph sample. You can get a free .pdf of it here.
For years, Howard had hated television and discarded his as soon as the first opportunity had presented itself. This was immediately after the death of his wife Abigail, who he’d lost to lymphoma nearly two decades ago. Not having even taken off his only pair of dress shoes, still muddy from the wet dirt around Abby’s grave, he unplugged its wires and threw that “unholy killer of imagination and human connections” to the curb.
He spent the next twenty years mulling around the house in shorts and slippers, puffing on cigarettes and eating T.V. dinners, though there was not one television to be found in the entire house. The irony of the situation was not lost on Howard. As he’d munch on microwaved fried chicken and mashed potatoes, he’d look to Alan, the old family dog, and ask, “Can you believe this shit?”
My phone didn’t autocorrect an apostrophe to “gods.” I guess that makes it Greco-Roman.
“Do you want to hear something my mother used to tell me?” Howard asked.
“Sure,” she said softly.
He closed his eyes and swallowed as he prepared himself to speak at what, considering his rapidly declining health, was a great length.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
The words just hung there for a moment.
“That’s beautiful,” Olivia said.
“Yeah. It’s a nice little fairy tale, isn’t it?”
Grant revered his son as a true sonuvabitch. For most, he elicited feelings of contempt in his blatant disregard for their well being or personal interests. He fucked with no sense of commitment and never worked for what was given to him. He was a certain breed of asshole that would eat an entire plate of fries apparently ordered for the whole table or flatulate in a crowded elevator simply because he liked the smell.
He thought his shit was ice cream and the world should eat it.
Grant saw this manifestation of freedom as a reparation for the sacrifices he had made, such as wearing a shirt and tie and working weekends and holidays, in order to provide that for his son.
Derek was a sonuvabitch, but he was Grant’s sonuvabitch. He was Grant’s gift to the world.
There was a common perception to which she had constantly fallen victim: in moments of transition, she perceived herself standing in front of a closed door, her hand resting on the knob. She imagined turning it counter-clockwise, because to hell with convention. With a push it was open, and she stepped through.
Imagine the bitter taste of disappointment upon the realization that a slight geographical shift left her alone, the same unfulfilled person she had always been.
If there’s one over arching truth to it all, it’s this: tip your bartender.
She struggled absolutely with the issues that arose from her own human limitations. How could anyone truly know anyone else intimately without ever having known themselves? The years had places a dam in the synapses of her brain. The block prevented her from ever being honest with herself.
How then could she be expected to be honest with other people? Was she even capable of accepting such emotional honesty in the rare instance of its offering? Where is the connection in a social climate in which people guarded themselves as though honesty were a finite resource?