It’s been a while since I did any creative writing, so today seemed like the day to share another new rough. Hope you like this new short called Lessons. Enjoy your holiday weekend with your loved ones.
“Stop! Is that really what you want to do?” A pale figure emerged from the mist into the darkened alleyway.
“Who are you?”, spat the aggressive giant holding a weak and terrified man on the ground.
“I am the spirit of history. I have been there through all of the lessons of learning. I appear when lessons are in danger of being lost.”
“I don’t need to learn any lessons. I just need to beat this guy down. Then he’ll get the lesson that he obviously needs. Yeah, why don’t I start with your arm, since you tried to rob me.” The giant wielded a monstrous club in his hand, and had a sneer on his face as he spewed out the ugly words. He didn’t seem to notice that the alleyway was changing in hue, becoming threatening even to him.
The man underneath cowered in fear, too ashamed to speak in his defense. As the club rose above the aggressor’s head, the spirit tried once more.
“Why is it always actions before words with you people? No matter how far you claim you’ve come, it’s always the same thing. Animal instinct. Don’t you realize that you’ve been given something that other living creatures don’t have? Reason. It’s what’s supposed to make you superior. Not that I’ve seen that superiority you all claim!”
As the spirit’s words spilled forward, his image took on an ever-brightening hue of red. Both men stopped to watch the unexpected turn of events.
“Every fight or war you have ever started was because you react recklessly. No one ever thinks. And then when it’s all over, the blame game starts until it’s the spirit realm’s fault. Never your own. Do you think that we spirits like being the target of your scorn when we do everything in our power to start the thinking?”
The red tinged the corner of the alley that they claimed as their battle ground. Although claim would not have been right, since it was a place to hide for the still cowering thief. The spirit glanced at the thief and continued.
“How can you just take these actions from this Neanderthal? Why aren’t you speaking your reason. It’s what I’m here for. Don’t you get it? I’m not here for the knuckle-dragger. I’m here for you. This is your time, not his. SAY SOMETHING!!!”
The aggressor lowering his club just a few inches seemed to give the thief courage. And with a desperate sob, his story unfolded…
“My boy was just locked up for something he didn’t do. No matter who I go to, no one wants to hear it. They just look at me with those eyes…just like yours. The look that says that I don’t belong. But I got that look in my own country too! If I don’t belong there, and I don’t belong here, then does that mean that I shouldn’t be? Should I die? And what about my boy who is sitting alone in a cell with no one to turn to? What did I ever do to you people to make you hate me so much?”
Silence then took over that dank alleyway, as the aggressive giant realized his humanity in a moment of clarity. Dropping the club to the ground, he rolled back until he was sitting and facing the thief. Silence continued as the unexpected threesome stared one another down, daring someone else to be the first to speak.
Slowly creeping backwards away from the angry man and spirit, the thief seemed to curl in on himself, as though he could will himself into ether. And that made the spirit angrier, but not at him.
“This is always the part that never moves forward. You, who think that you were a victim and took charge without even bothering to look at your assailant. Did you notice his threadbare clothes? Did you notice how gaunt he is? Did you notice that you broke his arm without using your barbaric weapon? Did you care? Do you even care about anything but yourself?”
And the silence continued…
“Dammit, answer me!!”
Suddenly, the alleyway filled with light from above, and a booming voice challenged: “Why are you yelling at him, spirit? This is not how things are done.”
Casting a scorning look into the sky, he spat out, “And when has your way ever worked? There is still strife, hatred, bigotry, and every other treacherous vice that these animals are capable of. I would rather work with real animals who understand how to co-exist and respect. These people will never learn. Especially those who spit on the soul.”
The light moved until it hovered over the spirit, who refused to back down because his anger was complete. But through it all, the light stayed gentle.
“I am a spirit of inspiration. I’ve only ever wanted to work with those who create, but all you give me is those who destroy, like this Neanderthal. I can’t take this anymore. It hurts to see the pain. It hurts to see the agony. I can’t listen to the cries from the tortured. Nothing changes…”
Then the booming voice from above questioned, “But hasn’t something changed this time? Your Neanderthal did not hurt this unfortunate soul. There is still a chance, not just for them, but also for you. These lessons were never for them. They were always for you, so that you could understand that there is never a right answer. There is only the answer that is. It’s what moves life one step forward, instead of five steps back.”
As the spirit gazed at the two men who now were looking at one another as equals, he was surprised when the giant of a man spoke to the thief.
“I’m actually a cop. I can help you if you’re honest with me. Why did you steal from me?”
With a look of contrition, the thief finally seemed to fill himself back up. Maybe, finally, someone was willing to listen. “I saw you working in my neighborhood before, and you actually know my son. I figured that if I got your attention, you would listen and maybe help us. That’s all I want. Just some help…”
The cop rose to his feet, and stretched his hand to the still fearful man. Standing at his full height, the cop finally noticed just how right the spirit was. There was only a few feet difference in height, but the other man had a tragic delicacy that hinted at a life lived in hell. Softly patting him on the shoulder, the cop glanced up to the spirit who was paling in color. It seemed like a good sign.
“I’m sorry that I didn’t get your lesson right. All I see is violence. All I know is violence. All I expect is violence. That’s a problem that I’ll have to fix by opening more than my eyes. It’ll take me a while to change, and to help change happen, but I get it now. And when I forget, can you just kick me hard so I remember?”
The spirit looked appalled and hopeful at the same time. The cop couldn’t possibly want him as his personal spirit, could he? He had creative types to inspire so that beauty could spread. He didn’t want any more of the ugly. Why him?
“Because it’s who you are. You’ve been fighting against your nature, and I’ve been trying to get you to see. You aren’t inspired by the beauty of canvas or stone. You’re inspired by the beauty of spirit. And that’s too rare to throw away on those who just need a nudge. You’re my inspiration that people can change. And I want you to be theirs, as well. Do you get it now?”
A smile spread on the spirit’s face, as well as on that of the cop and his new friend. As the spirit pressed both men forward, he glanced up briefly and thought, “I won’t let you down. I finally see my purpose, and it fills me to overflow. Thank you for removing the blindfold.”
The threesome moved into the street, heading for the station that held a lost boy who sat in misery and dejection. Another lesson was about to start. It’s a small start, but each small start moved life forward by a single step. The gentle lights misted into the ether, leaving behind the alleyway which no longer seemed quite so frightening. A soft chuckle drifted away on a tendril of wind.
Yes, today just might be a good day.