Archive for faith

Pretty Little Angel Eyes

Posted in life story, short story, Uncategorized with tags , , on 2010/05/17 by R L Burns

(I apologize in advance for the lack of capitalization.)

 a true story.   you wanted to know secrets, so here is another.

the little girl curled up in her bed and cried.  she wondered when someone or something would come to save her.  at ten years of age, she had already nearly given up, yet something wouldn’t let her entirely sink into the depression that threatened to engulf her every moment of every day.  

one night, when she was had just entered junior high, she dreamt of an angel.  it was an odd dream.  everything was white.  she was sitting in a very comfortable white chair, so cozy, warm and safe that she didn’t want to ever leave.  she fell asleep.  when she woke, she felt refreshed, and was surprised to find that she was covered with a white satin comforter.  she sat up and looked around curiously, but there was nothing to see, really.  it was difficult to tell where the room ended and where it began because everything in the room was white:  the walls, the ceiling (if there was one, but it was hard to tell), the floors, the chair in which she sat, even her nightgown.  oddly enough, she wasn’t afraid at all.  she felt strangely calm and at peace – almost like when she was a little girl in sunday school and they would sing, “jesus loves me this i know…”  suddenly there was a break in the wall across from her chair, and someone entered the room  through what appeared to be a door.  it was a young man.  his hair was shoulder length, wavy, and brown with streaks of gold that caught the white light surrounding them.  he, too, wore white.  she looked at him and was surprised that she could not clearly see his face.  it seemed to keep changing, almost like he was walking towards her through water, if that makes any sense.  even though his features were not clear to her, his beauty, his grace, and even something of his soul  registered in her senses and she felt more calm than she could ever remember feeling.  somehow he was talking to her but she couldn’t actually hear his voice out loud.  she knew, though, that he was telling her that all would be well, that he would soon be with her to protect her.  she, who never truly believed anyone, believed this strange angel, and was comforted.  “sleep now, little one”, she heard him say as he smoothed her hair from her eyes.  warmth and security filled her at his touch.  “sleep.  you are loved.” 

 in the morning when she awoke she felt, finally, hopeful.  maybe he will come today, she thought.  he didn’t.  nor did he come the next day.  she looked for him everywhere, but never saw him again; not even in her dreams.  ultimately she began to doubt.  why wouldn’t she?  everything else in her life seemed to be a lie or a trick, why not him, too?  she kept looking, though, despite her doubts, but the flicker of hope she had felt in the angel’s presence began to fade away – can you imagine how hard it was to look constantly for an angel you hadn’t even ever really seen?  sometimes she wondered if she had passed him by and never known it.  sometimes at school she would think she saw him around a corner, or just outside her field of vision, but she was never sure.  

months later, on the bus ride home from school, as often happened, dani miles and her friends – her “pack” as rose thought of them – barked at her all the way home.  she was the last one to get off the bus except for dani, the bus driver’s daughter.  almost every day they would bark at her like mad and call her a dog.  every day mrs. miles did nothing about it.  every day, rose cried when she walked home from the bus.  and every day rose’s mother would ask her why she let those stupid assholes upset her.  “who the fuck cares what they say?” she would ask rose.  “just ignore them!  quit being so easy to hurt! you’re not a dog, right?  so who cares what they say??  get it?  you are NOT a dog, so quit letting them do this to you!”  

rose tried to do as her mother suggested, tried to ignore it, tried not to cry. but she wasn’t very successful.  

one day dani and her friends barked at her all the way TO school.  this had never happened before, and rose couldn’t figure out what to do about it.  she got off the bus, depressed, ready to cry, and raced into the building, rushing to her locker, trying to outrun the sound of their barks.   as she turned the corner closest to her locker, something made her pull up short.  she stopped and looked around, watching the students milling about; some talking excitedly in groups, some looking sullen and alone.  a little way down the hall stood two boys.  one a bit taller than the other.  they were talking to each other and seemed oblivious to her.  rose studied them carefully while pretending to look in her purse for something.  the shorter boy had very dark, almost black hair.  his bangs were long and he had on a blue long sleeved tshirt with thin, horizontal rainbow stripes in a band across the chest, and blue jeans.  he had nice eyes.  the taller boy had wavy brown hair and was wearing jeans and a baby blue tshirt from some surf shop.  his eyes were amazing.  even from a distance rose could see a heat and intensity in them as he talked with the shorter boy.  he laughed at something that was said to him and she felt something inside of her flutter at the beauty that filled his face when he smiled.  suddenly he tilted his head to the side and put those eyes on her.  something jolted through her.  the hair, something about him…was HE the angel from her dream?  no, couldn’t be.  that angel didn’t exist, she knew that now.  if he did, then why hadn’t he come as he promised?  why did he not stop those kids on the bus from treating her so horribly??  rose looked quickly away, towards the other boy, who was much “safer” to gaze upon. 

a moment later, she turned around and walked away.  as she did so, she was sure she heard in her head, “all will be well soon, my rose.  i promise.”   she shook her head hoping no one else noticed how much she was losing it!  now she was hearing voices and thinking junior high school boys were angels.  “i must be trippin’!” she said out loud.

“you are!”, a boy from her spanish class laughed as he passed her.  

that afternoon on the bus, dani and her friends were in rare form.  as the bus travelled along the country roads towards rose’s house, she thought about the voice she had heard ealier in the day, at the angel’s voice she had finally heard again.  she knew it had been he who spoke to her.  she just knew it.  and if it was her angel, then maybe he would come to her soon.  she smiled and looked out the window, lost in thought.  she was surprised when she glanced up and realized that the bus was more than half empty.  even more surprised when she realized that she had been totally unaware of dani’s dog sounds for some time.  that gave her a bit of comfort.  she sat up straight.  she turned to look at them disdainfully, and then looked away.  for the rest of the ride she said to herself, over and over (in an effort to convince herself, she was sure):  “i am not a dog.  i don’t care what they say or bark or do because i’m not a dog and they are just queer.” 

oddly enough, it started to work. she didn’t care, somehow, that they barked at her or even if they thought she was ugly.  how did that happen, she wondered?  I REALLY DON’T CARE.  THEY CANNOT HURT ME!  she felt like laughing – and so she did.  out loud.  it startled the boy sitting across from her, the one who always threw pitying looks in her direction when dani’s dogs attacked her.  it startled dani and her friends.  they quit barking. 

“ha ha ha”, she thought.  “my angel and my mom helped me know what to do.  ha ha ha.  everything will be fine now.  i just don’t care because they are just so fucking queer!  ha ha ha.”  she was happier than she had been on the bus in several months.    

when mrs. miles pulled up to let her off the bus, rose gathered her books, and walked with a light step to the front of the bus.  as she went down the first step she paused and looked to the back seat where dani still sat.  “have a great evening, dani!”, she said with a smile.  “see you tomorrow!”  the look of shock on her face, and the matching one on mrs. miles’ face, made her laugh out loud with joy.  “you too, mrs. miles!!  see you in the morning!” 

still laughing, rose got off the bus.   

she skipped gaily towards the house.  she couldn’t wait to tell her mother how she had finally “defeated” her dani demon.  she opened her arms wide and spun around, letting the weight of her back pack pull her along.  she skipped and spun all the way up to the front door, giggling, happy, feeling free at last, free at last, thank God, Almighty, i am free at last!  i am not a dog, no matter what they say!  ha ha ha!!  

she threw her bookbag into a chair in the living room and yelled out for her mom.  no answer.  she hurried into the kitchen and found her mom sitting at the table smoking a cigarette and drinking a coke.   “mom, mom, guess what??” rose asked excitedly.  

the eyes that met hers should have been a warning, but she missed it in her joy at finally overcoming her self-loathing.   

“what?” her mother asked.  

“i didn’t cry today!  dani and those guys barked at me on the way TO school and barked at me on the way HOME from school, and they howled, and they called me a dog, but I DID NOT CRY! and i did what you told me:  i decided who cares what they say because i am not a dog!”  she spun around, so filled with joy at this triumph that she could see nothing else.  “i am not a dog!”  

she looked expectantly at her mother, expecting her to be pleased that she had finally managed to work her way through this.  her mother just stared at her for a minute, no expression on her face.  she took a drag of her cigarette and looked rose dead in the eyes as she exhaled.  “who said you aren’t a dog?”  

rose nearly fell to the floor under the crushing weight of those words.  she just looked at her mother in stunned disbelief.  “what, mom?  huh?”  

“i said, who said you aren’t a dog?” her mother sneered.   then she barked.  “woof!”

rose was literally reeling.  she could make no sense out of anything.  somehow everything within her had collapsed and she could feel herself folding inwards, could feel all her fears and self-doubt and self-hatred come rushing back; only this time their strength was multiplied ten-fold.  she looked at her mother, tears streaming from her eyes.  she knew, then, that she would never believe anyone ever again.  “i hate you”, she whispered to her mother.  

“good, because i hate you, too”, her mother spat back at her.  

rose whirled around and ran from the room, ran to her bedroom.  she slammed the door and threw herself on the bed and sobbed.  she cried and cried and cried until there were no tears left within her.  depression and hopelessness found their way back into her heart and she could almost believe she heard them laughing gleefully as they filled in all the empty spaces within her.  emotionally drained, she eventually slept.  

“i promise all will be well, rose.  i am closer to you now.  soon.  all of this will pass.  i promise.  do not despair.”  she heard the angel’s voice in her dreams.  she wanted to believe him, tried to feel the same sense of peace she had felt before, but she couldn’t.  she dare not.  

in the morning, before she left for school, her mom came into the kitchen.  “sorry about yesterday, rose”, she said.  “i don’t know what possessed me to say those things.  and of course i don’t hate you.  i love you and you’re right, you’re not a dog and it is great that you finally understand that.”  she hugged rose, told her to have a good day, and went back to bed.  

rose said nothing, just thought, “nice words.  but they’re a day late and a dollar short, momma, and i don’t believe you, really, anymore. you really do think i’m a dog, just like dani and her friends.  i guess i am.”  

she worried about how she would handle the barking from now on as she hesitantly got onto the bus.  but for some reason, dani and her friends never barked at rose again.  ever.  she was grateful for that, grateful to whatever benevolent spirit had decided to at least spare her further public humiliation.  bus rides were uneventful for the remainder of the year, and rose eventually managed to put the episode away in one of the little “boxes” in her brain into which she stuffed all the things too painful to deal with.   

she never dreamed of the angel anymore, although she still found herself looking for him occasionally, sometimes thinking she saw him just outside her peripheral vision.  ultimately, though, she decided he was a figment of her warped imagination or that he was someone else’s, some other rose’s, angel and had just made a mistake when he visited her.   

at least, that’s what she thought until the beginning of the next school year. the next year, the angel walked into her science class.  as soon as she saw him, she knew him.  realized he was the boy she had seen in the hall on that awful, awful barking-filled day.  the taller boy with the incredibly intense eyes.  my God, they were even more intense up close.  when he spoke to her it nearly brought her to her knees because it was THE voice.  the angel’s voice.  she was terrified to believe.  terrified to look too deeply into those eyes.  terrified to look away.  terrified to hope.  terrified he would hurt her as many others had, most crushingly, her mother.  she knew that if this boy, this angel, told her she was a dog, too, she would literally die.  she thought she should run away, not talk to him, protect herself.  but she couldn’t.  he was her angel and he had promised all would be well.  so, she opened her heart again, put out her hand, and tried to trust one more time.

thank you, christopher, my angel, for saving me so very many times, and for the return of hope and faith.   i had nearly depleted my meager stores of both.

 

*** this is an older story that i decided to post because my sister just found a statue that looks exactly like my dream angel guarding a little girl asleep in her bed.  pictures of it are below.  the resemblance is uncanny — except my angel had two straps across his chest instead of just one.

My Angel -- The book beside the bed is "Are Angels Real?"

 

The Back of My Angel - See His Ponytail??

Caveat Emptor

Posted in life story, Ramblings with tags , , , , on 2010/01/02 by R L Burns

Somehow, she’s gone.  Finally I have to admit it.  She’s gone and I don’t know how to get her back – or if I even want her back.  But if she’s gone, who is left in her place?

Sadly I am afraid I know the answer to that.  Who is left is me.  A frumpy, nearly fifty divorcee – let’s be honest, twice divorced – who teaches school, rarely wears make-up, and looks like every other sad-sack, lonely, bitter, middle-aged, gave-up-on-life woman shopping in Wal-Mart at 3 a.m. in hopes of avoiding everyone she knows. How did that happen?  That has NEVER been me, and yet…now it is.  I saw myself tonight, reflected in the Food Lion store front.  I was startled.  Sort of.  But not really.  It’s like I always thought: the picture of Dorian Gray really does exist. 

A few months ago, that same Food Lion window showed a smiling middle-aged woman.  Perhaps a little chubbier than the new girl, but she looked…hopeful.  She smiled.  People around her smiled and even jockeyed to be around her, in hopes that some of that glow, that cheeriness, would rub off on them.  She skipped through the line, bowed to the cashier, laughed her thanks.

This new woman walks with her head down.  She titptoes through the line, makes as little eye contact with other customers as possible, and whispers her thanks to the cashier before scurrying out of the store like a mouse running to its hole. 

Everyone asks her what is wrong – although they all know.  Everyone has been dismayed, however, by my inability to bounce back, to be “me” again.  They say I am angry and reclusive.  Me?

I know what happened, I do.  A hope, a belief,  that was born in the dreams of a twelve-year old girl, has died.  A belief in something “out there”, something that belonged especially to her…a belief so strong, so all-encompassing, that it alone was enough to get her through the worst moments of her life – rape, physical and emotional abuse, betrayal, pain, near-death experiences, anything thrown at her.  Somehow all she had to do was focus on that dearly held belief, focus very carefully on it, and she disassociated from the evil around her; it  could only touch her in the most peripheral sort of way.  Faith.  Hope.  Belief.  That’s how she got through life — and please understand that she also believed in God and Jesus, but this other belief, it was different.  Is that why it had to end?  Because her dream- born belief meant so much to her?  Was it an offense to God? 

That might make an odd kind of sense.  He would let me have that belief, that dream of acceptance and completeness for most of my life, then say….

“Ah, here, Robin.  Test it.  See if it is what you have always believed it to be.”

He already knew the answer.  I was afraid of the answer but decided to put my faith  in…I’ll admit it, my god; not the Our-Father-Who-Art-in-Heaven God – although I admit I believed He was rewarding me for my faith and constancy and my selflessness in giving him up in the past; but in my Hero, my angel, my soul.

Everyone encourages you to follow your heart, follow your dreams.  Be careful if you do.  You might lose that one little piece of hope you held onto, the one thing that made life livable and semi- worthwhile.  That hope was always there.  Once it’s gone? 

I guess you end up like me. 

Caveat emptor.  And yes, I meant to say that and not Carpe Diem.

********  sorry for the shifts in person  ********

A Good Samaritan Shows Up

Posted in life story, Ramblings with tags , , on 2009/12/20 by R L Burns

One of the distinct disadvantages to being single is having to change your own tires when they go flat.  I’ve been having issues with one of the tires on my car for some time.  A friend keeps promising me he has new tires for the car and will bring them over, but I am thinking that’s a pipe dream.  While waiting for the magic tires to appear I just kept putting air in the tire that was going low — it had got to a need to fill it every other day. 

I’ve been sick for a while now and had to go out for some water and juice – and cigarettes.  The tire looked low so I went to WaWa (the air is free there!).  I pulled up to the air pump.  It was about seven p.m., dark as could be, and about thirty-five degrees and windy.  I was cold.  I turned on the pump and attached the nozzle to my tire, and waited.  And waited.  The tire would not inflate.  I could not believe it…Wait, yes I could, given the way things have gone the past few months, I am surprised it wasn’t raining or sleeting when this happened and that i wasn’t stuck on the side of some dangerous road – so I suppose there are things to be thankful for.

I opened the trunk, took out the spare and took it to the air pump to insure that it was properly inflated.  It wasn’t.  I remedied that then got out the jack.  It took me a bit to find the non-plastic section of the underside of the car so the jack could be placed properly – I hate modern cars!  Give me an old Chevy any day — or my favorite car I ever owned:  a 1965 Ford Galaxie 500 convertible.  That car was a monster but I loved it!

After I placed the jack I loosened the lugnuts on the tires a bit and then started turning the squiggly jack handle (oh for the days of the old stick jacks, they were so much easier).  I turned and I turned.  My fever was burning me up so I took off my coat.  About halfway up I started crying.  I didn’t mean to but I felt so tired and weak and cold and angry.  It made me realize maybe part of the reason I stayed with an old boyfriend so long, despite how horribly he treated me was because I could at least always count on him in a situation such as this.  Selfish, I am sure, but rest easy, he got more than enough in return from me.

So I’m sitting there crying and turning the squiggly handle, scraping my hand on the ground several times, when headlights nearly blind me.  I was on the edge of a very busy parking lot but no one had approached me – until now.  A very nice gentleman, the good samaritan of the title, pulled up and asked if he could help me.

I sniffled and replied, “Yes, sir, it would be wonderful if you did!”

He came to my car and took right over.  I explained that I had loosened the lugnuts and filled the spare.  He seemed pleased that I had done those things and said,

“Sounds like you’ve changed a tire or two, young lady.”

“Yes, sir.  Several times and it is no fun! I really can’t thank you enough for helping me!”

He laughed and said, “Well, you know, I have a daughter who is twenty-one, and I sure hope that someone would help her if she was having some trouble, so don’t you worry about it none, dear.  My wife’s over to Harris Teeter’s and I was getting some gas while she shopped.  Saw you working hard over here and thought I’d help if I could.”

By now the old tire was off and I was rolling the spare over to him, helping to hold it in place while he began to tighten the lugnuts.

“Well, sir, my dad would be very happy to know that you helped me, and I shall be sure to tell him.”

“You do that, honey.”

He shook the tire, to make sure it was on properly, I guess,  then put the old tire in the trunk.

“There you go, young lady.  Now, that’s not a tire to ride around on forever!  But it will get you home.”

I thanked him again and we shook hands.  He waved as he got in his truck to go pick up his wife.

I guess chivalry isn’t dead after all….at least not at Christmas-time.  I feel lucky to have run into a gentleman tonight.

An Old Letter from Michael – #1

Posted in short story with tags , , on 2009/12/19 by R L Burns

Fate has a crummy way of fucking with you when you least expect it  – which, of course, is when you should always expect it!  I found this while looking for Christmas ornaments, it bit me like a snake; and I guess it messed with me so badly because it sounds like it could have been written five months instead of sixteen years ago…Ah, you said you haven’t loved me since back then.  Then how could what you said in the recent past sound the same?  And how did you know exactly how it would be when we DID see each other again?  You really suck.  You said then your resolve was unshakable.  You said it now, too.  I think you need to look up the definition of “unshakable”.  I am not sure why I am posting this, but I am…

Sun. March 29 (93)

10:45 pm

Hi Lady,

I’m back. It was not her, it was JR.  I had to go in and help him for a while at work.  She called while I was there and she won’t be home until tomorrow.  Before I go back to the subject of last night there are some things I want you to know…I am not speaking of last night in detail to torture you or increase your pain.  It’s just that fate has twisted the knife in me before and you and I were kept apart and there are things I want you to know of in case something happens to me or you before we get a chance to see one another again.

Okay, when you were enjoying my “discomfort” in front of the bar, I was thinking of you when you were fourteen.  How incredibly beautiful you were.  And how at twenty-eight everything about you  then had magnified itself (which, by the way, was how I felt when I saw your recent picture).  All of those qualities had come together and as a woman your grace and manner were magnificent.

I guess you sensed how I was feeling because a tear appeared on your cheek.  All I could do was sweep you up in my arms and take you to the bearskin in front of the fire. I lay there holding you and kissing you, your tears mixed with mine.  The joy I felt was almost unbearable.  The passion intensified to a point I’ve never been to before.  Fifteen years of pent up emotion we unleashed on each other.  It was so overwhelming, we could not stop.  There was no reason to now.  We gave each other to each other body and soul; it seemed there would be no end.  Time stood completely still.  All I could feel was the soul I so long had ached to feel.  We were one, at long last.  The pale light of sunrise had begun to light the room before we slept.  And we slept the sleep of contentment and solace, you curled up next to me, naked and unashamed.

Then right on cue the phone rang. Unbelievably it was you.  You hesitated then said, “My eyes are closed, tell me again.”

I did.

Then you said, “Goodnight, Michael.  I love you.”

My sense of wonder is getting the better of me.

You know, something occurred to me last night as I lay here enjoying the thunderstorm outside and talking with you.  God has not damned me at all.  I mean, I blamed him for so long because I thought that if he didn’t mean for us to be together, why did he keep these feelings inside of me alive?  It has hardened me, made me stronger, more so than I ever thought I could be.  I thought I had become embittered, but I’m not.  Only more thankful. 

I lacked the courage before to fight for what I believed in:  You.  That is not so now.  My resolve is unshakable.  I know where I belong.  I feel like a weight has been lifted from me.

I can feel the scars of a lifetime beginning to heal, because I have admitted in my heart what I know is the truth:  I love you…

I mean, was it not truly a miracle that we still remembered, let alone still felt the same way about each other?  I feel like He has taught me the most valuable lesson I’ve ever learned:  Not to take you for granted.  To realize the magnitude of the gift he has given me.  To not just see how special and wonderful you are and how lucky I’ve been.  No, how blessed I have been.  There are vast multitudes of people who have never known what we have known.  I’ve learned to take your love one day at a time and revel in it. 

I was so afraid of the intensity before, feeling it feed and grow, fearing it would destroy me, but that is not the case at all.  It goes stronger each day and I love you more than the last and I find the answer to the gift he has given me:  the keys to the Gates of Heaven itself.

I love you, Lady, and I thank God he has brought the circle around again and that he kept me alive for so long even though I wanted so much to die.

I am strong enough now to realize that even if we never touch, I could never have had peace if I had died.  Only now with the love in my heart could I rest.  I know I will see you on the other side. 

I think he joined us together so long ago so we could learn from one another.  We complement each other; my weaknesses are your strengths and your weaknesses are my strengths. 

If our hopes of this life are given us and we become one again, can you imagine how high we can go?  My mind is limited for such imaginings.  My inspiration is given back to me and my faith is restored.  My hopes and dreams are alive again.  I am so caught up in you and it is exactly where I want to be. The loneliness and desperation are fading at last and I can almost touch you.  Thank you, God!  Thank you!

And thank you, Lady, for listening to my ramblings and being there.  I cannot draw a breath without feeling you in my heart. 

Please know that with my dying breath I will call out the name of my Lady – Robin, oh! Robin!

I love you so very much,

Michael