Sunday, May 24, 2015
The Soldier appeared again this year, just as he has over almost a hundred and fifty years. The first reports of him showing up here in Pointer date back to 1868 when the first Decoration Day (now called Memorial Day) was held. At the time most people assumed he was merely a veteran but when he moved there was no sound, and when he spoke everyone felt compelled to listen. It was as if an enchantment had been cast over all. He spoke of each soldier from the town who had fallen during the war between the states, telling tales of bravery and humanity. Then, once he finished, the figure marched back the way he came only to be swallowed by a mist that seemed to come from nowhere.
This happened again the following year, and every year after that. At first most people just assumed him to be a magician who had served alongside those who had died. Yet, none of those who had come home recognized the fellow. In fact, no one could even really describe his features even if he had been standing next to them. They could distinctly remember his uniform which had clearly belonged to the West Virginia 7th Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He had all the bearing of a soldier, but even if they looked up into his face all they could remember was that he was young, with a kind face, which had born witness to the horrors of the battlefield. But none of them could actually describe his face in detail.
Naturally the idea that the fellow was a ghost began to spread among the children and a handful of adults. But after thirty years passed and those children who had seen him close up could honestly say he had not aged in that time, that others began to believe the tale.
Throughout the decades, he has always appeared, never once missing a Decoration Day. And with each visit, he shared new stories about those who had served and fell in the Civil War. But it wasn't until the end of the Great War that this began to change. In 1919, one year after World War I ended, a new monument was erected in the town square with the names of those who had left Pointer to fight overseas. On that occasion the soldier appeared and shared several stories about those who had been lost on the battlefields of Europe.
From that day on he continued to appear on Remembrance Day (now called Veteran's Day) as well as on Memorial Day.
By this time few, if any, doubted the Soldier's existence. In fact many began to welcome his strange visits, but not all. Those who were too traumatized by their loss, could not bear to see him come. In particular there had been Violet Parker, who had been engaged to James Moore who fell at the Battle of Belleau Wood in France in 1918. When the Soldier appeared again on Remembrance Day in 1920, she rushed at him brandishing a pistol from her father's collection and shot him point blank. The Soldier did not flinch, nor did he fall. Instead, he gently took the weapon from her shaking hands, and pulled her close. She resisted at first, but then began to calm down. Those who dared approach them could hear his voice speaking gently to her in sympathy. Soon Violet slipped her arms around him and held him tightly. Then she kissed him on the cheek and walked back to where her father stood. For the rest of her long life, she was happier than anyone could remember, and strongly rebuked anyone who spoke ill of the Soldier or of anyone who served their country.
The addition of new names and stories of those who served that the Soldier spoke of continued with each passing year. Whether they were lost in peacetime or during America's entry into World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq and of course Afghanistan, he made sure no one forgot them or their service. And today was no exception. He spoke of the town's most recent losses with such feeling, one was convinced he had personally known, or had watched each one of them grow into fine young men and women.
Of course, I and a number of others know this happens to be the truth. There are at least a dozen families here in Pointer that know of Uncle Nate. And they preserve his secret with fierce loyalty, just as mine does. It is a loyalty based on love and respect. Whether he's the 'Soldier' or just the family friend or godfather, he has been there for all of us over the decades. Our dark guardian, the soldier who even when he does not wear the uniform, is always on duty. Ready to defend and protect all of us and our town, just has he did the day he marched off to war at the age of 16, back in 1862.
God bless him and all the men and women who have served, and will serve.
Monday, May 18, 2015
Lisa's Private Thoughts December 11th, 2012 - "Nathan, Mirrors and My Sweet 16th Birthday Party"... Conclusion
My heart was in my throat as he pulled me close for one last spin and I whispered, "I love you Uncle Nathan."
"I know," he smiled and finished our dance by putting me in a dip. "But, it's Nathan or Nathaniel from now on. You're not a little girl anymore Lisa. And since I age way slower than anyone else around here, having you still call me 'uncle' is going to get people wondering and I can't have that."
Stunned and a little disappointed I nodded and muttered, "Okay, Nathan."
Then he stood me upright and kissed my hand, while the room broke out in thunderous applause. I smiled as best I could under the circumstances. I'd just declared my love for this man and all he could say was "I know..." and then told me to drop the 'uncle' part. This was NOT how I had hoped things would go. What the hell had just happened?
But before I could dwell on things further some of my friends rushed over and dragged me to one of the crystal tables so we could sit and talk. I was too stunned to do anything but go along and soon, they had me in a much better mood. Yet, I couldn't believe how Nathan had reacted to what I'd said to him. Did he think I wasn't serious? I offered him my heart for crying out loud!
I tried to hold onto my annoyance with him, but it was slowly forgotten as friends handed me presents and told me how blown away they were by how much my family had done to set this place up. My dad had been passing by at that moment and said, "Actually, this was all Nathan's doing. He's spent the last few months planning this party and getting things arranged. Mind you he did consult with us and we gave the approval. But most of this was him."
"Oh my God, I want to see if he'll help set up my next birthday," one of the girls sighed. "This is so cool. I mean look, we can even see our reflections in the table."
Suddenly I stiffened and looked down.
Sure enough, she was right. I could see all their reflections in the tabletop, along with my own. Panicking I looked around and spotted Nathan coming towards us. Forgetting how angry I was with him I jumped up out of my seat and intercepted him saying, "I want another dance," and dragged him out onto the floor.
Then I remembered how shiny and polished the dance floor would be and looked down. Immediately I let out a sigh of relief. The entire floor was covered by a thin was covered by a thin layer of colored fog.
Immediately I let out sigh of relief.
As if reading my mind Nathan smiled. "I thought about how shiny the floor is and how it shows people's reflections," he said proudly.
In the background a slow song came on and I allowed him to pull me in for a slow Rumba. I tried not getting too close to him, but when dancing a Rumba you have to be practically joined at the waist.
"Too bad you didn't think about the crystal tables!" I shot back. "They show reflections too!"
Immediately, his face turned into a mask of embarrassment. For several seconds he kept opening and closing his mouth without saying a word. Finally he managed one word, "Oops."
"Is that all you can say for yourself! Oops!" I hissed "Not everyone here knows about you!"
"Which is why all the mirrors on the walls and in the restrooms are made without silver," he pointed out. "They use a different backing that does reflect my image, so we're safe. Why are you so upset?"
"Because..." I began but then my words disappeared.
But once again, he seemed to know my thoughts and said quietly, "I know you meant it when you said you love me, Lisa. And believe me, of all the people and godchildren I've watched over these last fifteen decades, you've become extremely dear and important to me. So I'll make you this offer. It's one I've made to others before, but as you know, no one's taken me up on it."
Catching my breath I nodded, "Go on."
"As I said earlier, you're no longer a child but a young woman," he said brushing my cheek with his as he leaned in close so only I could hear him. "But I'm over a hundred and fifty years old. I look like I'm in my late twenties. I need you to catch up a bit first. So, I want you to LIVE! You must go on dates, go places, see things, maybe fall in love a couple of times along the way. Some of them won't work out, but one might. But if none have by the time you've gotten closer to my 'apparent' age, if you still want to be with me... if I'm still the one you want to love and marry, I WILL make you my bride."
"Really? You mean it?" I gasped pulling back so I could look straight at him. Even before he could reply, I could see the answer in his blue eyes, he meant every word.
Still he answered, "Yes," as the fog suddenly rose up and hid us from sight. That was when he kissed me, I mean really kissed me, as if we were already lovers.
After several moments our lips parted. Before he could speak I told him, "Now I can hardly wait to hit my late twenties."
"But you have to live first," he gently reminded me. "You have to get out and enjoy life. Date other people and explore the world."
"I will," I promised as we finished our dance and the fog slowly fell back to the floor.
That was of course the highlight of the night for me. Mind you, the rest of the evening was just as fantastic. Marisa did make an appearance but could only stay an hour, but still it meant a lot to me. I spent the rest of the evening walking on air. It's been a magical night and one I will always remember and treasure.
And I will keep my promise to Nathan. I will start dating and exploring all that life and the world have to offer. Then, when I turn twenty-nine, unless my life has taken an unexpected turn, I will go to him and become his wife.
Saturday, May 9, 2015
Lisa's Private Thoughts December 11th, 2012 - "Nathan, Mirrors and My Sweet 16th Birthday Party" Part 2...
I swear I'd never seen main room of The Crypt done up so beautifully before. The room was bathed in a magical blueish purple light, which had some hints of green accent. Fake ice crystals hung from the ceiling over tables that were beautifully set up, while soft music seemed to waft through the air. Only one thing was missing, people. There wasn't a soul in the room except me and my family.
Before I could say anything a greenish mist began to slowly envelop the floor.
It seemed to have a life of its own as it wafted and slowly covered the entire lower half of the room, leaving only the tables and upper halves of the chairs visible. Then I felt my feet moving forward, taking me into the center of the room apparently of their own volition. But in truth I could feel smoke-like fingers gently guiding me all the time. It felt almost like a lover's caress, in some ways and it set my heart beating like never before. I was brought to a halt in the center of the room where the mist suddenly rose higher until it blocked my view completely and all I could see was it. Then as suddenly as it appeared, the fog thinned and suddenly sank revealing a huge crowd of family and friends all smiling and wishing me a happy birthday.
That's when the party really started. I swear I never got hugged so much or kissed on the cheek so many times in all my life. My parents got everyone seated and I wound up hopping from table to table to say hello and thank everyone for coming. However, one person was missing, Nathan. He was nowhere to be seen and that started to bother me. I had really hoped that this day, of all days, he'd be here. Especially since the party was taking place inside the club he's owned since the 1940's.
I tried not to let my disappointment show, but I think my parents were starting to notice when suddenly the room got very quiet. I noticed everyone's gaze turned to a dark opening that led to one of the other dance floors. Oh, did I mention The Crypt has several different rooms with dance floors? Well it does and we'd only been in the main one which had been turned into a sort of a dining area where people could sit and eat.
Anyway, in the dark opening a mist began to swirl and make its way towards where I was standing. For a moment I was half torn between excitement and nervousness. It was Nathan, it just had to be. Yet a I wasn't sure. But then the fog began to circle around me and I knew for sure it was really him. Especially when a hand emerged from the mist and took mine.
Soon his familiar frame and warm smile emerged from the cloud and he kissed me on the cheek and said, "Happy Sweet Sixteen, young lady."
Young lady, oh how those words sounded so good to my ears. "Thank you," I whispered back as he turned to the archway he'd just emerged from and snapped his fingers. Suddenly, the lights came on revealing a large dance floor which matched the decorations of the room we were standing in. There were a few crystal-like tables on the outer edges, but otherwise it was clear this room was for one purpose, dancing.
A moment later, as if to let me know my suspicions were right, music began to play and Nathan led me into the room and the center of the floor. Taking me in his arms he led me into one of the most amazing and tangos I'd ever experienced. Mind you, he's danced with me many times before, but never like this. He led me through turns and steps I didn't even know that well, but I could tell from the way everyone else was reacting as they watched us, that we were fantastic together. Just as I knew we could be one day. I just had to tell him...
...TO BE CONCLUDED NEXT TIME
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Lisa's Private Thoughts December 11th, 2012 - "Nathan, Mirrors and My Sweet 16th Birthday Party" Part 1...
OMG!!! Uncle Natha... no he asked me to stop calling him that because I'm no longer a little girl. Nathan and my family totally ROCK! Today was my 16th birthday in case you hadn't guessed. Though from the number of birthday wishes I got in my e-mail and FB pages, you all knew that. BTW, thank you all again. I love you guys.
The day started out with my mom serving my favorite breakfast, and dad taking the day off of work at the college. Even my baby brother Geoffrey seemed to know it was a special day, even though he's all of 10 months old. He seemed to want to be with me more than usual. I've never known him to be so cuddly and affectionate, but then again, I'm usually doing schoolwork or practicing special make-up effects and don't always have time for him. I think I'm going to change that. After all, I am his big sister and mom could use a break once in a while. Besides, I'm going to have kids myself one day, so I better get used to handling and playing with one. And so I did.
I helped feed and play with him until I had to go to school. God he squeals so loud when he's happy, and I loved every moment of it.
He cried and fussed a bit when I had to leave for school, which really touched me. I felt guilty and told my parents that birthdays, especially when a girl turns sixteen, should mean a person gets to take the day off. Dad started to agree until Mom shot him a look and he quickly told me to get ready so he could drive me to school.
By the time I was ready, Geoffrey was fast asleep in his playpen. I apparently wore him out, which earned me a grateful smile from Mom. Anyway, school was pretty good. Got lot's of birthday wishes from my classmates, as well as a few conspiratorial looks.
Obviously, something was up, but I had no idea what. Oh, I knew my parents had something special in mind, but they'd been real quiet about it. All they'd tell me was that there was going to be a party at The Crypt. I kept hoping it meant that Nathan was going to be around. I hadn't seen him since school started in September. I know he has other families and friends who live around the country and even overseas, who he likes to visit. But, I was really hoping he'd come back today of all days.
Needless to say I wasn't disappointed. But before I get to that, I wanted to tell you about Marisa. When she saw me at school today she gave me a little present which thrilled me to no end. Even before she gave it to me, I gave her a big hug just for remembering my birthday.
We've hardly spent much time together, but that's been because she's been staying close to her folks. Her dad's been fighting cancer and she's wanted to be there for him as much as possible in case things go bad. I've wanted to be there for her, but she's kept her distance for some reason I still don't understand. But in any case, getting to hug her and know she still cares meant a lot.
Afterwards we spent a bit of time together just catching up a bit, but every so often I noticed a sad look on her face whenever she glanced at my outfit. I know my style has changed a lot since I came back from England last year, but I'm still the same. I started going for a Gothic look after I came back and a lot of people think I'm now a 'Goth', but I'm not. I'm the same person I was before, I haven't gone all gloomy and talk about dark things. I just love the outfits and experimenting with make-up effects.
In any case, we had a good lunch but then had to split up for our respective classes and I didn't get to see her again for the rest of the day. I kept hoping she'd show up to whatever party my parents had planned for me.
By the time I got home, I knew Mom was making my favorite dinner. I could smell her spaghetti sauce from outside and my stomach started growling in anticipation. We had dinner a little earlier than usual as we were supposed to be at The Crypt by six o'clock. Needless to say I was excited. I almost didn't taste my dinner I was so worked up. Just after we finished eating Mom and Dad presented me with big box with a bow on it.
"You'll want to wear this tonight," they told me.
I swear my hands were shaking I was so excited as I pulled the ribbon off and opened the box. For a moment, I couldn't speak. It was a dress, one that I had been dreaming of ever since we came back from England last year.
It was a wine-colored, shoulderless dress, with bodice that tied up the back. I'd seen it back in an antique shop some months ago and had fallen in love with it, but hadn't had the money to get it at the time. It was still there up until a month ago, when I'd finally saved up enough money to buy it, but it was already gone. Now I knew why. I didn't stop hugging my parents for a good five minutes I was so grateful. This was turning out to be the best birthday ever.
But they had more in store for me. After I raced upstairs with the dress I spent a good hour fixing my hair and doing my make-up just so. I have really long black hair, which I knew would look great against the dress, so I took extra care getting my look just right. Once I finished, I headed downstairs where my parents were ready with cameras.
I didn't mind one bit. I wanted to be able to remember this day as vividly as possible.
Soon we were out the door and headed downtown to where The Crypt awaited. It felt kind of funny walking down the lonely alley where the entrance to the club awaited, all dressed up like this. I was expecting to see a crowd waiting around the steps that led down to the door of the club, but no one was in sight. Naturally, I assumed everyone would be waiting downstairs, but instead as we walked down the stairs there was only silence until we reached the door which opened by itself and bathed us in a magical blue light which revealed the most amazing winter-themed room I'd ever seen...
...TO BE CONTINUED
Thursday, April 9, 2015
Another night and I stand once more in my artist's studio located on the top floor of the building that houses my club "The Crypt". No one's allowed up here unless I say so, and tonight I wish to be alone with my thoughts. For two days now I've been wrestling with the idea of trying my hand at writing novels.
In some ways the idea seems ridiculous. Me? An author?
Then another question comes to mind in the form of one word, why?
That's the sticking point for me. Why would I take up writing? Because I'm bored and want to try something new that I've never done before? It wouldn't be the first time. When I joined vaudeville, it was simply to keep myself busy and working behind the scenes as a stagehand at night seemed ideal. But then I started to get to know the performers like Julius, Arthur, Herbert and Leonard... better known as the Marx Brothers. Their range of talents fascinated me. The number of instruments they could play, or the snappy patter they should spout on a moments notice never ceased to amaze me. Plus, they seemed to sense the feeling of being 'lost' and 'adrift' in me, which made them reach out so I could be a part of their comeraderie. But it didn't stop there. Others in the troupe welcomed me as well, like "Fatty" (Roscoe Arbuckle), the Keatons, Harry and Bess Houdini, the lovely and sweet Mae West and so many others...
Before I knew what was happening they'd be teaching me all kinds of skills and even dragging me out on stage to help out in their acts. I could write endless stories about those days and the ones that came before.
My days on the battlefield while serving in the Union Army. So many stories were lost there that only I know about. The hopes and fears of my brothers in blue, as well as some of those who wore the rebel gray. In 167 years of walking this world, I've not forgotten a single person who I've met, good or bad, I remember them. I also remember the stories they shared, the sweethearts they pursued and the outcomes.
So many stories to choose from, but where would I begin?
I brought up the idea of my taking up writing to Brian and his family last night at dinner. Much to my surprise no one laughed. Instead they eagerly supported the venture. Brian in particular urged me to take a couple of creative writing courses at the college where he teaches history. "We've got some really good instructors there and they could really help you hone your skills?" Brian pointed out. "I've taken a couple of them and they were really helpful. Of course, you'll need to decide on a genre to write in. Agents and publishers like to represent someone who has a specific kind of novel."
"You should write romance," his daughter Lisa suggested with a twinkle in her eye as she looked at me. Even though she's only a child I have a feeling she's developing a crush on me. I've seen that look before in girls her age and even younger, over the decades. But only one ever managed to land me, but she was extremely persistent.
Even now I can feel her eyes on me after seven decades. Looking up I find myself staring into a pair of dark eyes, forever captured in oil. Dark hair frames those eyes along with the lovely face and strong chin. "Magda," I whisper and smile.
Our time together was not nearly as long as either of us had hoped, but it was magical. Our first meeting and her prolonged pursuit for my love could fill several volumes. Her persistence paid off and after three years she became my wife at the young age of sixteen.
As I stand there lost in thought, the sounds of music reaches my ears from several floors below. The Crypt is now open and is already filling up with the usual crowd. Even from here I can sense the whirl of emotions and life down there. Laughter, sorrow, broken hearts, lust, hopes for love...
A flash of light through the window catches my eye. After several nights of gathering clouds it looks as rain is finally drawing near. I make my way up the stairs and onto the roof of the building to watch the approaching storm.
I see lightning in the distance over my hometown, it's going to be a good one. But instead of retreating back inside, I stay where I am and feel the breeze on my face and close my eyes. I can feel the storm's energy on the wind and without thinking, several lines of words describing the feeling come to mind. Some of the words are trite, but they still help paint a picture within my head.
Suddenly my eyes shoot open as realization sinks in. Painting a picture, but with words instead of oils or acrylics! No pencils, no paintbrushes, just words that form an image or a scene within the readers mind. That's what an author does. But they don't just paint one picture, they paint a whole series of images, coupled with emotions and thoughts. Yet, I can still use my skills as a painter as well. Illustrations and book covers... yes.
And I have so much material to draw upon. My own experiences as well as those of people who's memories lives I keep alive within me. I've shared their stories countless times with descendants so they are never forgotten.
But what kind of stories to write?
From down in the alley I hear the sound of raised voices. Looking over the edge I see a young couple having a heated argument. The boy is obviously breaking up with the girl and leaves her in the alley alone. But she does not remain that way for long. Three others, friends of hers arrive and comfort her. One of them is a young man who obviously has feelings of his own for her. But instead of being foolish and declaring his affections, he merely gives her the support and comfort of the friend she needs right now.
But I can sense a change in her. It's not big, but her gratitude to him and the two girls with him is obvious. I hear her say she wishes more guys were like him as they step inside. Perhaps something will come of it eventually.
However the thing that gets me most is the image that forms in my mind. Just like the other night down in the club, I could see other figures, superimposed over the trio. Their outfits changed several times within the span of a few seconds. I saw flappers, soldiers, suits, gowns, hippies, but their actions were all the same and leading towards one thing... romance.
"Love Across Time..." I murmur as the first drops of rain start hitting my head.
Why not? I've seen and experienced it so many times in the last fifteen decades. Oh, the settings and ways one behaved have changed over time, but the feelings never do.
Feeling elated at the idea, I spread my arms wide and let the rain and story ideas pour over me.
Saturday, March 21, 2015
Summer in West Virginia hasn't changed all that much in a hundred and fifty years and tonight is no exception. It hit the upper 80's which in and of itself isn't so bad, but the humidity makes it feel much worse. Brian and his family are out of town, so I spent part of the evening with Jack, the town's physician, and his family. They know my secret and have kept it to themselves for the past one hundred and twenty years. It was nice spending time with his mother and grandmother. As much as time has passed I still see them both as little girls who I used to take up into the evening sky on a warm summer night.
But only when the sky was clear. Tonight there are clouds overhead so I can't even enjoy the stars. I'd have spent the rest of the evening with Jack and his family, but they were hosting a party with others from out of town and I didn't want some of our conversations overheard, so I left early and headed to The Crypt.
One of the nice things about having a private club that's located in the basement level of an old building is that it doesn't get too hot down there and I'm not the only one who knows this fact. Even before I turned down the alley and reached the stairs that led down into my club, I could hear the music playing, accompanied by laughter and cheering.
Upon opening the door I find the room is full bodies gyrating to the latest hit tunes my new disc jockey is playing. He goes by the name of Scar-Man due to on old wound that runs from his forehead and across his face. Thank God I got to him in time, otherwise it could've been a lot worse. I've offered to help him get it fixed but he always refuses. "I need to remember where I've been... so I don't forget where I'm goin'," he always tells me, so I leave it at that.
I quietly make my way through the crowd in my own unique way. I pass between bodies that only a fly could navigate without anyone noticing. Soon I've reached a dark quiet corner of the room where I can observe without being noticed. There is a table here and I settle in and let my eyes roam. Oddly enough they fall upon one of the old vaudeville posters I have lining my wall. My mind begins thinking about how things were back in the 1910's and the 1920's. Without realizing it, my eyes swing back to the crowd on the dance floor and I see something wondrous. My eyes are clearly seeing the young people moving back and forth, flirting, and kissing and having a wonderful time. Yet in the same moment in my mind I'm seeing another image super-imposed over them. I see uniforms from bygone eras. One moment I see the Union blue, then the brown ones we wore back in World War I, in another instant I'm seeing the dresses become flapper style, while the young men are decked out in the old Zoot suits.
The styles continue to change, yet the emotions and feelings are still the same as I watch the figures both before me and in my memories. Something stirs within me as I stare. Soon I leave my little corner of the club and head upstairs. Normally, I'd take the actual stairs themselves, but tonight I take my 'mist' form and head upwards until I reach the door that leads to my art studio and slip through the open transom above it.
Once inside my artistic sanctuary I solidify and stare around at my surroundings. Canvasses, both finished and still under way, line the floor and walls.
I soon find myself studying each one intently. My mind begins to think back to when I created each one and the story that led to their creation. But more than just the stories return, so do the emotions that inspired the imagery. Before long I find myself exploring where those stories and feelings began which culminated in these artworks. I've often heard people say, "I wonder what the story is behind this art piece..." Well, I know each and every story behind my works. Some of them are simple, others could fill page upon page of a number of books.
"And I'm the only one who still knows most of them..." I murmur to myself as new thoughts enter my mind. "Do I dare..." I whisper to the silence that surrounds me.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Sunday, March 15, 2015
*A note from the author: Terry Pratchett has long been one of my all time favorite authors. He's made me laugh and think so often it never ceases to amaze me. It's because of him there are so many moments of laughter in my own work, but never enough to distract from the main storyline. However, I've never reached the levels of hilarity and pointedness he could. With his passing this week, I knew I had to do some kind of entry to say how much he and his work influenced me. I struggled with how to come up with something to say, when I remembered Nathaniel who has been around for so long and has known so many people. So, through him I share some thoughts and feelings on the passing of a wondrous author, as well as provide more insight into my vampyre and what makes him so special sometimes. I hope you enjoy.*
My last class of the day got cancelled over at New River Tech, which is also where my dad teaches. Marisa still had some classes as well, but I didn't feel like hanging around the campus. So I decided to go and hang out over at Nathan's place. He was probably still resting down in the ground, but at least I'd be there when he got up.
You can imagine my surprise when I got to his place and found he was up and about in the middle of the afternoon. I found him sitting on the floor with his back me, with a bunch of books laid out in front of him. Surprisingly, none of them were the old worn hardback kind that lined the walls of the room. Instead, these were all paperbacks, some going back as far as the 1980's.
Naturally, this piqued my curiosity so I quietly went over to him and took a look at the covers. They were colorful with amusing artwork. All of them were by the same author... Terry Pratchett.
Immediately my heart sank. "Did he...?"
Nathan nodded. "It was all over the internet this morning," he sighed and looked up at me. "I'm surprised you didn't already know."
"Marisa and I have a dance class at 8:00 AM, so I didn't have a chance to get online," I replied and sat down next to him. As soon as I settled in, I rested my head against his shoulder. "I remember when you introduced us to him when we went to England with you. He was really nice. I like him."
"He was amazing," Nathan smiled. "Not that he thought it, but you, me and a lot of other people out there did."
"At least we have his books and stories to remember him," I pointed out.
"I have a lot more than that," Nathan said with a smile that aroused my curiosity.
"Oh? What did you two have wild night together or something?" I asked innocently, while batting my eyes at him.
"We had a few nights where... HEY!" as cut himself off as the penny finally dropped.
I was still laughing at his reaction as he desperately tried to explain that nothing 'unnatural' as he put it, ever happened between the two of them. "We just had a few good laughs together, that's all," he finished with scowl that was not remotely intimidating.
Taking his hand I squeezed it and said more seriously, "I know it's hard losing another friend. It's not something you ever get used to, is it? No matter how long you've been around."
"No, it isn't," he said quietly, as that curious smile suddenly reappeared on his face. "But, I can take solace in the fact that for me they're never really gone. My memories are different than most people's."
"How so?" I asked curiously.
For a moment he didn't answer. Instead he seemed to be gathering his thoughts and then said, "T think Terry put it best when he said..."
"Now most people, can recall a number of things from their past. But I can recall everything!"
I stared at him in wonder for a moment. "Everything?" I repeated.
He nodded. "Our brains are taking in all kinds of information all the time. The feel of the breeze on our skin, someone's smile, how it felt to kiss a person you've longed for the first time, the works. But it's so hard to remember every little detail."
"I can remember a lot of things," I pointed out.
"Of that I'm certain, but how hard is it to remember all the things that you saw and witnessed in 1999?"
I started to say something then stopped. "You mean, in the entire year? Everything I saw or did within that time?"
Blinking I shook my head. "No, I don't think I could. I've probably forgotten most of it."
At that point Nathan shook his head, "No you haven't. It's all there, but it's stashed away in different areas of the brain where you can't always access them. But it's all there."
Immediately my mind began picturing photos and letters all scattered about in a huge room inside my head. Only it looked like total chaos. "But you can keep track of it all, can't you?" I asked.
"With effort, but yes," he smiled. "I can recall everything friends like Terry ever said or did in front of me. Plus there are always the stories other people told me about him."
"And you never forget any of it?"
"Not a single thing," he replied.
"Then, you remember 'everyone' you've ever met and all the things they did?" I whispered in awe.
This time his smile became even wider. "Now you got it."
"So you're like a walking repository of other people's lives. The ones who only family and friends knew about, because they never became famous or well known," I murmured in growing awe.
"That's definitely one way of looking at it," he nodded after thinking it over for a few seconds. "And I share those memories with their descendants so they're never forgotten."
"So you make sure their memories stay alive," I smiled.
"I can do better than that," Nathan winked. "If the person is in tune enough with me, I can share those memories so they can have them as well."
This was news to me so I quickly begged him to share one with me, which he did. It might not have been the one he'd intended but I saw Mr. Pratchett holding a broom, next to the actor who played "Death" in one of the Discworld movies. Both were pointing at each other with amusement and camaraderie, then I felt something... calm and at peace. I knew that last part came from Nathan. It was how he was feeling about losing another friend.
Having read the Discworld books myself I knew that when Death collected someone there would be a desert for them to cross. "Do you think Mr. Pratchett's already crossed it?" I asked Nathan as we were still linked.
To my surprise Nathan shook his head and said, "No. Somehow I think he's in a cottage that is much bigger on the inside and colored in different shades of black, which is filled with all kinds of cats. Across from him Death is holding out a cup of tea saying, "ALBERT AND I WERE WONDERING IF YOU COULD STAY A WHILE AND TELL US A STORY...", That's where I think he is, anyway."
"I think so too," I smiled and gave Nathan a kiss, knowing the memory of it would never be lost.
**Special Note: The section where Death is talking to Mr. Pratchett was created by my wife Helen, who gave me permission to share it in this entry. Thank you my love.**