My father used to mow my grandparent’s lawn. He would plop my Little sister Rachel and I in the living room, with a fudgsicle and an orange crush soda, and go out to mow grass that was always way overdue for a cut. Dad would always leave the front door open, and the screen door closed so we would know where he was at all times.
I can still hear his voice as he was going out the door, “Abby, watch your sister, and no going down in the basement or up in the attic.” These were easy to follow rules because both those places contained monsters. Every kid knew that.
Grandma would pat the couch and tell me to come sit by her. She knew that between my sister and me, my imagination was more developed. I’d get off the chair that Rachel and I would fight over every visit, and my sister would quickly steal it. Getting to talk and sit with Grandma was a treat that only seemed to be bestowed on me.
Grandma always smelled of baby powder and just a tint of something that was unpleasant. I didn’t mind it, though. I loved talking with my Grandmother. She told me about olden times. Times when there were more horses than cars on the road. Times where men wore suits and women wore long dresses and hats so big, they shaded not just their faces but their whole bodies. Hearing about the hats always made me smile.
She would tell me about the day she met my Grandpa. How they’d fallen in love on a summer day. They’d had a picnic next to a pond, and Grandpa had sung to her. She would laugh and always tell me how Grandpa was the worse singer, but she loved him more because of it. Mainly because he dared to do it.
Grandma always knew when dad was just about done with the lawn. She would end our talk the same every time. With a saying, I tell my kids to this day.
She would say, “Death is an illusion for the living, Abby. Love is the only real thing.”
My dad would come in and ask me who I was talking to. A couple of times I had said Grandma, but I quit saying that because it would make my father upset. So, I would say no one. We would close the house up and go home. I really wish I could have met my Grandma when she was alive.
Sample fro The Light Through the Water, by Ernie Howard
I died when I was 8 years old. I drowned. It was summer and my father took me down to our dock to go for the first swim of my summer vacation. Being scared of the water for all of my short life, but having learned how to swim the summer before, fear had abandoned me to the point of blurring my self-preservation. I had become cocky. I barreled across the dock, with my bare feet slapping the boards, sending off hollow echoes across the lake that existed right outside our door. My father’s shouts to wait blew away, lost in the noise of my feet, and my shouts of glee.
I reached the end of the dock and with the summer sun on my back and sheer joy of no classrooms for the next three months, I launched myself into the air. There was a moment of peace, of floating, that lasted for hours in my 8-year-old brain. I was Superman, soon to be Aquaman. I splashed into the surface of the lake like a missile. My body sliced through the water until my feet embedded themselves into the mud at the bottom of the lake. I let it slide up to mid shin, squishing my toes into the cool muck, letting the lake comfort me like it was giving me a hug. The lake was fickle. The comforting feeling left as soon as it came when I tried pushing against the muck trying in vain to propel myself back up to the world of oxygen. The lake wouldn’t let me go. It held me firm. It’s cool comforting hands, had turned into the slippery tentacles of a sea monster. The more I tried to free my feet, the further they sunk into the muck. I couldn’t hear anything down there but my beating heart, but for my whole life I remembered a sucking sound, and the lakes chuckle as it laughed at its own watery joke. My little boy mind did not understand the trouble it was in. I was 8 years old. Little boys don’t think of their life ending on the first day of summer. I was still in the what do I want to be when I grow up phase, not the contemplating my own mortality phase.
My pulse grew faster, and my lungs burned, screaming for the oxygen they needed. My calm left me there at the bottom of the lake to fend for myself. I panicked. Just before I passed out I looked up at the surface, to see the light coming through the water for one last time. I thought I would never see the sun again. I reached out my hand trying to grasp the light, trying to grasp the last bit of life. Then as my world went black.
People don’t remember much from when they were little. They remember a birthday present, or a favorite toy, or that kid that lived down the street that had blond hair and ate his boogers, (what was his name?). Most of those memories have a haze over them. They are like a forgotten book in the book shelf of your mind. But I will tell you I remember every detail of that day. The light through the water was so bright it looked like it was piercing water molecules on its way to my strained eyes. The face of my father was even more detailed. His worry and grief I could feel with every cell of my body as he looked down at me in my hospital bed. I woke up, and in my blurry vision I saw my father.
“I saw the light.” I said. My father’s raised his eyebrows. “The light through the water.”
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“There is no death. Only a change of worlds.”
– Chief Seattle
Sample From The Pool
The front desk was empty except for a bored-looking oversize cat. It stared at Shawn as it licked its paw like a Popsicle. The cat glared as if Shawn was a soon to be a dead piece of prey that it would bat around a little before devouring, bit by bit.
Shawn moved slowly toward the desk, trying not to scare the obese cat. He didn’t like heights, but cats came in at a close second. As he moved closer, he heard the animal growl. It seemed to come from deep inside of the cat, reminding Shawn of a horror movie he’d seen where a woman was possessed by a demon. He’d almost made it to the desk unscathed when the cat let out with a surprised hiss and jumped over Shawn’s head, raking a claw across his scalp. Before he could slap the cat away, it was gone. Shawn reached up and touched the spot where the damn thing had clawed him. He looked at his hand and was happy to see no blood. Grateful that the cat was gone, and that he wasn’t bleeding like a stuck pig, he let out with a laugh.
“Don’t mind Gobstopper. He doesn’t like many people. Hell, some days, he don’t even like me and I’m the one who feeds him his chow.”
Shawn jumped at the sound of the man’s voice; he hadn’t heard him come up behind the desk. But there he was standing behind the counter, smiling with teeth that looked to be stained by many years of chewing tobacco. The man turned his head to the left and spit into an old-fashioned spittoon in the corner that looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in a while. The loogy clanged on the stained metal, the sound echoing through the small office.
The man wore an eye patch with a MIA POW insignia embroidered right in the center, over his right eye. The older man’s full head of white hair and beard made him look like a one-eyed Santa Claus; his oversized beer belly helped with the illusion. Shawn immediately felt good in the man’s presence. Despite the man’s eye patch, he looked like a jolly old guy. Like if Santa Clause had decided to quit making toys to become a pirate. He stifled a giggle that threatened to escape and smiled back at the man.
“So, what can I do for you?”
“Well, I need a room with two beds preferably, but if you haven’t got any available, I’ll take whatever you got. I’ve been driving for a while and I think I would take a floor and a sleeping bag at this point.”
The man gave him a knowing smile. He paused for a second, staring into space. Shawn knew the man’s gears were turning; he probably was going over a mental map of the motel.
“Mister?” Shawn didn’t know if the old man had lost his train of thought, or if the old guy was having a stroke. The man snapped out of his trance. Just as Shawn was going to ask him if he was okay, he spoke.
“Call me Jonathan. Jonathan Piedmont. Mister has always made me feel like an old man, and I already know I’m old, so I don’t need any reminders on the subject.” Jonathan let out with a full-bellied laugh that looked and sounded like it would shake the small office off of its foundation.
“Shawn Bailey.” Shawn reached his hand over the counter to shake Jonathan’s hand. The man’s hand was hot almost to the point of being uncomfortable. It made Shawn want to pull away, but he shook vigorously, not wanting to be rude.
“Glad to meet ya, Shawn. Now let’s see what we got open.”
Shawn watched the old man shuffle papers on a desk that had a thick layer of dust and old coffee mug rings. It looked like it hadn’t been used in years. He moved one of the coffee mugs that had seen better days and underneath it was an old-style room key; a real key with its own plastic tag, stamped with the number one.
“Here we go. Looks like you and your family got the last room in the whole place.”
Does it have two beds?” He was really hoping to sleep in a bed without the kids.
“You’re in luck, my friend because all of our rooms have two beds. We have hide-a-beds if you need them for your family, for however long they need them. Excuse me, for however long you and your family need them.” The twinkle in Jonathan’s single eye had lost some of its luster, and the man’s smile had gone from jolly to pursed. Does this guy think my kids and wife are going to leave me during the night? He shrugged the old man’s comment off and changed the subject.
“My kids are excited about the pool out front. They were practically jumping out of the car when we pulled up.”
The old man stopped frozen over his ledger book. His smile disappeared. Shawn watched as Jonathan shook his head slowly, letting out a long sigh that rattled in the old man’s throat.
“There are some rules about The Pool that you and your family need to know about.” The mood in the room had changed so fast, it took Shawn a second to even realize it had gone south. Even the temperature dropped a little, and the sun shining through the window dimmed as Jonathan looked at Shawn. The serious look on Jonathan’s face reminded him of his father.
“The rules of The Pool are quite simple. Number one: Only one person can walk through the gate at a time.” Jonathan looked at Shawn with his one eye. The single blue eyeball bored into him.
“Number two: The gate must be fully closed before the next person goes through, and that person must open the gate unassisted.” Jonathan paused and bored a few more holes into Shawn.
“The third and most important rule of all of these is you must be ready to enter The Pool. If you are not ready, the results could be disastrous for you and the inhabitants of The Pool.”
The Trailer for my new story The Light Through the Water. It was time consuming, and a little frustrating to make, but worth it in the long run. I hope you like it, and I hope you Pre-Order The Light Through the Water. Order it here
For a long time I have been thinking about what actually happens after we shuffle off this mortal coil. Do we go to Heaven like most Christians believe, are we reincarnated? Does nothing happen, do we simply turn off? Or are we eternal
My new story The Light Through the Water is almost done. You can Pre Order it hereand it will be downloaded on your Kindle July 22nd.
It’s a story that I’ve been working on for quite sometime now and it has put me through the ringer. I think I write stories that have a certain tone, and this one is no different, sometimes stories that are closer to you are the hardest to write. The stories that you put a bit of yourself into. Which made it harder to write about then my story of the droid in A World Without.
For a long time I have been thinking about what actually happens after we shuffle off this mortal coil. Do we go to Heaven like most Christians believe, are we reincarnated? Does nothing happen, do we simply turn off? Or are we eternal… Do we never die because this reality is an illusion, as Einstein said when he tried to console a sister of one of his friends:
Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. —Albert Einstein (1879-1955) in a letter of condolence to the sister of an old friend, March 1955. Quoted in Disturbing the Universe (1979), Freeman Dyson, p. 193
I can get my head around what Einstein said, but when I think of these things, my opinion is, I don’t know, and certainly nobody else knows either. The Light Through the Water is a work of fiction that displays one potential outcome of the subject. When you read it I hope you like it dear reader. I hope it gets you thinking like it did me. Pre order it now.
In celebration of me finishing Walter, my short story “A World Without” is free once again. Give it a read, and leave a review!
“If the one person in your life you loved the most was there one second and gone the next what would you do? You would explore every possibility to get them back. Losing someone is a bone crushing, soul emptying experience, but now it doesn’t have to be! At NorWorld, we prolong life through A.I. We take away the suffering with Technology.” – Dr. Thad Feast
Anthony and his wife Susan love each other very much. So much they can’t let go.
This is a short story from the up coming NorWorld series By Ernie Howard.
“At Norworld, we prolong life through A.I. We take away the suffering with technology.”