Ladies and gentlemen, (drum-roll please) I give you now my first attempt at prose. The following short story is a work of fiction, and any similarities to any person or persons living or dead is purely coincidental and is intended for entertainment purposes only.
I would really like to hear your thoughts and critiques of this piece for my own edification, please do not hold back any criticism as to grammar, punctuation (I’m the king of the comma as you will most likely realize) and format. I know that I have a few teachers and authors amongst my erudite readers and any suggestions from y’all, for this or future works would be greatly appreciated.
Please enjoy the read and have a wonderful weekend,
Long Before Now
Once, in a time long before now, the boy would walk to the edge of the world and would gaze into the unknown, unafraid! For fear, the most crippling of emotions, had not yet come to set up camp within him. And because in his spirit he had placed all trust to guide his footsteps and in that spirit, he had found the safety of the gods. But, as the boy became a man his footsteps faltered and then doubt became companion to his spirit. While growing as the vine upon the trellis, his doubting, under the guise of caution, spread to include even life’s most banal of decisions and the safety of the gods was soon forgotten, overgrown and strangled, by the weeds of fear.
Then one day, as he pondered the path that he had taken to the now, he realized that his days had turned to years and that those years had slipped into the past, nevermore to be retrieved. It was then that he saw that his life, which was once carefree and alive, had become an ever downward spiraling gyre. He had married a woman who would unwittingly tie him to the now, and his career, no make that his job, offered no challenge to his once fertile and imaginative mind and frankly he knew that his physical well-being was suffering as well. But what could he do about it now? He wasn’t the young boy or even a young man anymore, he was a grown-up with grown-up responsibilities, the mortgage, car payments, taxes, food, clothing, and all of the other usual familial and household expenses and expectations which constantly occupied his thoughts during the waking hours and often kept his mind roiling through the night. Fear and doubt were his constant demons. Oh, how he ached for the time long before now!
For in the time long before now there was a lifetime ahead of him, full of dreams and conquests, anything was possible and everything attainable, if he would dare but to dare. He could not recall, though often he would try, to connect his current circumstance to a particular time-frame or occurrence, that would have caused him to become afraid of living, of being alive, afraid of adventure, willing to attempt anything just for the thrill of it. But he couldn’t pin it on any one time or event, it had just happened. It had seemed to him that one morning so long ago, he awoke to find himself “existing” in the realm of the now.
Where as surely as he had once felt the safety of the gods, the demons had attached themselves to him and his once vibrant spirit had embraced those devils like a cancer and it grew and it grew and it grew. Oh, he knew there were treatments for the ailments of the body, with new ones being discovered everyday, but he was unaware of any such treatment that would return a spirit from the long before now. Was there some magical medical cure for his condition? Was he the only person who suffered from this affliction? He felt as if this life in the now was slowly suffocating him and soon he would be willing, no wanting, for it to end. “Why has this happened to me? What can I do to change before it comes to that point?” It were these very questions that he had asked of himself which were to be his guideposts back, to the long before now!
The very question, “why has this happened to me?” took longer to reason out than the eventual solution as to what to do about it. At first he had blamed God, then he had blamed fate, his wife, even his parents and then it was the system and finally, after all other avenues had been explored and refuted, he found his answer in the mirror. Yes, it was the man himself who had brought him to the now. Yet the boy, after all these years, still resided within him and was calling for his return to the time before now. And it was he and only he, who knew the answer to the man of the now’s questions.
The man of the now needed time to listen to the boy inside and forget about the worries and woes of his now strangling lifestyle. So he concocted a story about a business trip that would satisfy any curiosity that his wife might have, packed a bag full of nothings just for effect and then he got in his car and drove and drove and drove, until he no longer knew where he was or why he was there, but he knew where he wanted to go. He wanted to go to the land before now and he was determined to return to those days of carefree happiness and the days when he reveled in the safety of the gods.
That first morning sunrise over the sparkling ocean seemed to have a cleansing and awakening effect upon his very soul as he breathed in the salty air of freedom. He had left a note to his wife that she would find eventually, and maybe already had, explaining the why’s and wherefore’s of his actions and he had said goodbye to her in that way, knowing full-well that her parents would take care of her and that she would not suffer, (except maybe her ego a bit) financially. And also knowing that she would soon find another boy from the land before now and turn him into a man who would drown in the mundane. How he pitied that poor fool!
He stood high upon the bluff that morning, watching the waves below as they slapped the rocks and crags while leaving behind frothy pools as a reminder of their visit. The tide was in the midst of its ebbing cycle and the sharp drop to the rocks below made him think of how he had once boldly stood at the edge of the world unafraid, and he felt his spirit rejuvenated. Fear and doubt were no longer a growing cancer within his spirit he was again in the land before now, and he felt so brave, so alive! “I’m back in the safety of the gods” he had yelled to no one but the man of the now, who no longer existed, as he stepped into the abyss of the unknown and returned to the land before now!
Copyright© Jack Downing, aka Jake @poemsandponderings.wordpress.com. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reprinted or disseminated in any manner without the expressed written consent of the author. JRD 7/27/13