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Lust and Cheating

How’s that for a title, huh? Okay – actually, this post is for the One Word Blog Carnival hosted by Bridget Chumbley, the topic is Lust, and I’m cheating because I’m posting a short story by Brian Russell instead of writing my own. (Aren’t I clever?)

So there you go…

Through Cracked Glass by Brian C. Russell

The crack in my windshield grows a little bit each day. It’s like the roots of a young sapling, sprawling to find water. I didn’t think it’d get this bad. It started with a chip, which started from a pebble. I swear if it were quiet enough, I’d hear it creak as the glass pulled apart.

I hate coming out here, but it’s what I do. My world is filled with watching people go in and out of buildings. Stores, restaurants, houses. In and out.

Oh, there’s the happy couple now. I fling my sunglasses into the passenger seat and pull the camera to my eye. These’ll be good.

She looks happy wearing a red pair of shoes she didn’t have before walking into the store, and he looks excited. His sunglasses were on before he came outside, and his jeans have strategically placed holes. She’s got a headband to match the shoes, I imagine, and khaki capris.

In each picture, they’re a freeze frame of perfect happiness. In each picture, they’re a snapshot of how her marriage should be.

In and out of stores, there’s sure to be a restaurant stop soon. Maybe then I can get some grub. I’m lucky my job doesn’t normally require me to drive fast. This windshield’s going to shatter someday soon. It’s only a matter of time.

This lady, I’ll call her Helen for her privacy sake, she probably just got bored. Bored with her housekeeping life, bored with her husband’s workaholism, bored with everything. But this new guy, he buys her gifts, takes her on dates. To Chili’s? She must’ve been pretty bored.

The people I watch mimic their actions. Popping in and out of these relationships. In and out of love. It’s amazing how quickly people can become shallow, empty hulls of the fruit, I’m sure, they once were.

A knock startles me. It’s a knock on my passenger window. I push the button and roll the window down a few inches. “Can I help you?”

His eyes are watery. It’s the client. I didn’t recognize him. “Stop. Just stop.”

I unlock the door. “Get in.”

“I can’t take it anymore.” He slumps in the seat. “She doesn’t deserve this.”

“What do you mean? She’s cheating on you.”

He sniffles. “I know. I’ve gotten the pictures. But, I realize now that I wasn’t providing for her.”

This is an interesting turn. It’s never happened to me before. “What are you going to do? Confront her?”

“No.” He straightens up in his chair, breathes in deep through his nose. “I’m going to go home, and do some laundry.” He sighs. “I’m going to earn her back.”

I set my camera down and stare at the client. He’s looking right back at me. “So, why the change of heart?” What else am I supposed to say?

He smirks. “First Corinthians. I’d heard it a million times, but seeing my wife with another man… it… The message used to go in one ear and out the other. You know?”

“Yeah, I get that.” In and out, people do it all the time.

“You might want to check it out too. It’s amazing what small things can have such a big impact.” His nose twitches as he gets out of the car.

The sprawling crack in my windshield creaks, I can’t hear it, but I see the glass splinter a bit more. All this damage from a pebble. “Yeah, I get that too.”

To read this story from the wife’s perspective plus more short stories from Brian C. Russell (and I would strongly encourage you to do so, and while you’re there tell him to write more), visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @Brian_Russell.

An Open Letter

I just finished the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s about overcoming and avoiding the roadblocks we face in any creative endeavor.

Inspired by what I read in this book, I posted an open letter over at Brian C. Russell’s place today. You should check it out. It just might have been written to you.

Runaway Imagination (by Brian C. Russell)

It’s Wednesday. Guest blogger day here at HLAC. I love a good short story. And I really love Brian’s short stories. So here ya go:

Imagine you’re a thirteen year old boy. Now imagine you’re running away from home. You’re packing your backpack with all the necessities. Toothbrush, your favorite pair of shorts, an extra shirt.

Imagine your parents screaming in the other room. She’s lazy, he’s never home, yelling that never ceases. You wonder if they’ve forgotten you.
You drop your best hat in your pack.

You’ll show them. They don’t need you. They don’t love you. You’re leaving for good. They probably won’t even miss you.

Imagine you slam the front door on your way out.

Imagine you hear them stop fighting. That’s not possible though. They don’t care if you leave. You’ll see. You’ll be at your friend’s house in no time. Everything will be okay. You can pretend it’s a sleepover so his mom doesn’t call your house.

You knock on the door, but no one’s home. No one cares about you. You don’t have anywhere to go.

Imagine you find a tree house. Now imagine that’s your new house. You climb up the ladder and set out your stuff. With no one around you won’t need to brush your teeth. No one will come to find you anyway.

Imagine balling up your backpack and laying your head on it. You curl up trying to keep warm. You feel splinters digging through your shirt and mosquitoes biting your ankles.

You toss and turn, but can’t sleep.
You’re full of questions and don’t know what to do. Where will you go? No one wants you.

Imagine you hear your name. Now imagine you hear it again. You look out the window of the tree house and see your dad’s car. Imagine both mom and dad are in the car. You feel a smile on your face.

Imagine you jump out of the tree house. You run towards the car waving your arms. Your parents get out and run to you. The hug you and kiss your forehead. They love you. They’re sorry. They didn’t realize. They were so worried. They never want to lose you.

You know you’re loved. You believe your parents. You go home and sleep in your own bed. You wake up to both parents awake. Mom’s making breakfast and dad doesn’t look like he’s ready for work.

Imagine he’s staying home today. Now imagine your parents are going to get help.

Imagine they love you.

You’ll never run away again.

Check out more of Brian’s writings here: Brian C. Russell

Betrayer (by Brian C. Russell)

If you follow this blog regularly, then you know that I have two guest posts per week. I am so loving this! Hopefully, this has helped introduce many of you to some very good blogs, and I will continue this practice.

I’m posting a short story that I read on Brian C. Russell’s website earlier this week on a Saturday simply because, like all of the short stories I have read by him, it blew me away. I was first introduced to Brian’s work via a cartoon he writes, The Underfold I love that, too. But wow, can this guy write! Check it out:

His blood warmed my throat as I drank. It tasted of fruit, a sweet sensation lingered on my tongue. Eyes closed, I swallowed, not sure of what the next steps would be. Never before had anyone freely given of their blood for me to drink, nor anyone offer their flesh as sustenance.

This man, who did he think he was? He forgave, and never condemned anyone… Not even me.

That night is replayed in my mind every day. Of what he said at the table, how he knew it was me, but didn’t do anything to stop me. Of course, I know now. I know now that Jesus, the Son of God, was the messiah.

Running from the temple, the evil spirits descended upon me. Tormenting me in my anguish. “Betrayer!” they screeched.

Darkness swallowed my path, and glowing red eyes lit the shadows. A root grabbed my sandal and threw my body to the ground. I rolled onto my back, trying to catch my breath. One of the demons sat on my chest, compressing my lungs. His eyes hovered over mine. “You have just handed over the Messiah to us. We wanted to thank you for your services.”

Tears streamed down my face. “Just let me die.”

“Die?” He laughed, and a chorus of laughter echoed around me. “I am sorry, betrayer. You have been chosen for a much worse fate than death.”

“Lies! Torment me no more.”

“As I have said, we are here to thank you, not torment you, betrayer.”

I pushed to my feet and ran. Their laughter faded into the darkness and I came to a tree wrapped with vines. That was going to be the end. My end. I climbed onto the tree and looped a vine around my neck. I breathed deeply and jumped from the tree.

Everything blurred. I sputtered for breath. I groped at the vine to loose myself. Everything was gone.

Nothing greeted me. It wasn’t darkness, it wasn’t light. There was… nothing.

Then, Jesus appeared. Magnificent and new. “Judas, you have helped me fulfill my purpose in this world. You have endured a sacrifice that many will never understand.”

I sobbed. “Rabbi, I am sorry. Forgive me, Lord.”

He touched my neck with his hands. “Your sacrifice is wrapped in sin and greed. I knew the outcome, but you did not, yet you still performed it. Without your sin, there could be no forgiveness of sins.”

“Forgive me. Please.”

“You will roam this earth until the day I return again. You will never die until I come to judge all mankind.”

When I awoke, I lay in a field. A place of burial for foreigners. Stories were told of my death. Many embellished facts of my insides strewn across this very field.

Over the years, people have told me that the Lord works in mysterious ways. That sometimes, even what seems horrible is a blessing in disguise.

They have no idea.

I have lived to hear of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and now I can take part in that salvation. Someday.

Am I right, or am I right? Check out more of Brian’s writings here: Brian C. Russell