The Lucky One

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She sensed something was wrong that last night in the Midwestern city. He was drinking too much. They almost argued and everything felt filled with anxiety. He was distant.The intensity of their passion was more than it had ever been. She was almost afraid he was going to hurt her. He came close but bailed out at the last moment.

The next morning, she knew something was wrong. He handed her his prize baseball cap, commenting it had his DNA in it. He looked at her like he was trying to remember and forget, all at the same time. When they got to the airport, she turned around and he had vanished.

In the few days that were left, he sent messages to her that talked about trust. Over and over, he spoke of trust and long-term commitment. She believed him still. She had known him so long, but they had never connected on such a deep level before. She could relax about their relationship. He said it was for the long haul.

Then she got the note. The note using their special love words, supposedly from her, the other one. Telling her that he had come home, that it was over. He sent her one note, telling her the same thing. She believed that for weeks. He tried to be cruel. He sent her a message, ostensibly from the other one, telling her he forgave her. For what? Then she received several emails. They were supposed to be from the other one, but they weren’t. He gave himself away by using the first personal pronoun and two initials he always used to refer to himself.

It all fell into place. He had broken off the relationship himself and blamed the other one. He had been as cruel as possible while preaching words of love and commitment and trust.

She looked in the water. He wasn’t worth anything. Not her tears, not her heartache. She was the lucky one. Now if she could only make herself believe it.

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The Rainy Day

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She had spent little time at the ocean in her life. Now she had the chance to spend some time at the water. Any ocean, all oceans, renewed her. More than renewed her, sustained her. Today it was raining, the beginning of monsoon season. There had been a terrible drought all winter. They were all glad to see the rains come, as long as the wind didn’t follow. She started to stay home, to spend the day writing. She wanted to see the bay in the rain.

She grabbed her poncho and jumped in the car. The pier was about 12 miles away.  That was the best place to see the bay. When she pulled up to the pier, no one was there but her. The rain was softly falling. She walked out almost to the gates beyond which only the fishermen went and sat down on the edge. The water was almost perfectly clear. The rain beat on the surface of the water.

She could clearly see the schools of fish. Most of them she still couldn’t identify. She knew the sheepshead. She saw a school of snook. One of her goals for the winter was to learn more about the fish in the area. That area under the pier was shallow. There was a great flapping of wings and a swoosh behind her. One of the large white egrets had landed on the pier and a great blue heron was a couple of dozen feet away.

The sky was as gray as granite and the bay was just barely whitecapping as she looked on out. Her heart rate slowed and the tightness in her chest loosened. She was at peace.

An hour or so later, she started for home, feeling better. She was always so tense until she saw the ocean. She hoped she could capture her feelings on paper. When she got home, she sat down with a steaming cup of tea and started to write. The scene she was trying to write before she left, and that was escaping her, flowed easily from her fingertips.

Imaginary

If you are a writer of fiction, you have to have a good imagination. You have to be able to create imaginary characters, stories, settings. Fiction is a work of good imagination.

Children have the most wonderful imaginations. They let their imaginations run wild and free and create whole worlds in which to play. As adults, we have become accustomed to reining in our imaginations. We have to be an adult, act like an adult, and use our imaginations only in controlled circumstances, like writing fiction. We can’t live in fantasy worlds lest we hurt other people.

When a writer embarks on a work of fiction, it is a difficult transition to make. They are suddenly allowed to let their imagination, at least as it relates to the story they are writing, run wild and free like a child’s imagination. It has to be a bit more controlled in order to tell their story.

The Corn Maze

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It was the fall of the year. Adele and her husband, Daniel, decided to take a drive in the countryside. They were a retired couple, but they lived in the city. They didn’t get out in the country very much. Even though they were retired, they led busy lives. The countryside was beautiful. They lived where there were lots of hardwood trees and the leaves were changing. Adele and Daniel were driving down a tree-lined lane through trees with leaves that were golden, red, and every color in between. It was beautiful.

On either side of the road, there were farms. Farms that had grown wheat and corn during the preceding summer. Farms that also had beef and dairy cattle and other farm animals. The couple was enjoying seeing the sights. There were farms along the way with pumpkin patches for children. Farms that had grown apples. There were lots of people milling around.

Suddenly, Adele and Daniel passed by a large farm that had grown corn that year and they realized there was something odd about the dried-up cornfield. Adele slowed the car and Daniel asked her to turn into the farm’s driveway. As the turned in, they saw a sign that said Corn Maze. Daniel was excited. He had gone through mazes before and he wanted to go through this one. But he found it odd that no one else was there to go through the maze.

Adele and Daniel got out of the car and followed the signs toward the maze. Suddenly, an old man appeared with a shovel in his hand. He asked what they wanted. Daniel explained that they had seen the sign about the maze and he’d like to go through it. The old man shrugged his shoulders and told him to go ahead. Adele sat down on a nearby bale of hay.

Daniel started through the maze. The maze didn’t look that large and after a half hour, Adele started to get concerned. Daniel had not returned. The old man was over at the side of the maze digging something. She told him of her concern and he just shrugged his shoulders. Another hour passed. Adele was really upset and she confronted the old man and asked him where Daniel was. The old man told her that sometimes, people went in to the maze and didn’t come out. Adele got out her phone and dialed 911.

The police arrived and a search party went into the maze looking for Daniel. More and more police arrived. They had trouble finding each other in the maze. They erected large lights and searched all night. They found no sign of Daniel.

Finally, the Sheriff of the county confronted the old man. The old man said the same thing he had told Adele – that sometimes people went into the maze and didn’t come out. He didn’t know why. Adele could attest to the fact that she could see the old man the entire time Daniel had been gone.

Finally, Adele had to leave. The Sheriff took her home because there was no sign of Daniel. No one could explain his disappearance. The Sheriff asked Adele a lot of questions about their marriage. Were they happy? Would Daniel just walk off? Adele had no reason to think any of that was true. The Sheriff advised her to wait. That Daniel would probably show up.

Back at the farm, the old man was still digging. The police had not noticed that he was digging a grave.

The Old Man by the Sea

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The old man stood on the pier. He was there at high tide. He was there at low tide. He particularly liked to be there at sunset. He seemed to know everyone and everyone seemed to know him. If you walked by him on the pier, you wouldn’t have found anything particularly physically special about this man. He was more than middle-aged. Animated in his physical movements. Tall in stature. He seemed to make an effort to meet most people who frequented the pier.

Joy began to talk to him about the manatees in the water. He heard her mention them and pointed out the spot to her where she might see them. He was amusing and both she and Glen enjoyed talking with him. She felt like he was doing stand-up comedy. Finally, Glen went off to talk with one of the fishermen on the pier. Joy enjoyed speaking to the old man. She sought out intellectual conversations whenever the opportunity arose. He certainly fulfilled that need for her. At first, she snapped pictures of the beautiful sunset as they talked.

He was the kind of person you felt like you had known forever. You wished you had known him forever. He was wise. Kind. One of Joy’s first impressions was that his eyes seemed to look right through her, right to her heart and soul. She found that interesting, but disconcerting. They talked a bit about their work and each downplayed what they had done in their past life, before retirement. She still did not know exactly what the old man did in his former life. He learned a bit more about her, but not specifics. Somehow, those things didn’t seem important when they were talking. They talked about deeper things, although they kept it lighthearted in tone.

The sun set and the old man told her about some of the creatures of the night that came to the pier. The night heron who tried to steal the fisherman’s catch. The great egret who stood at the far end of the pier and watched the action. The manatees. The dolphins. Joy felt that he had so much more to share with her that they could talk forever.

The old man introduced her to many people who came to the pier and told her about them. What they did, who they were, how they fit in his life. She had never really met anyone like him. Joy’s career had been almost exclusively male-dominated. She had not only worked mostly with men, but had male friends, all her life. She enjoyed the company of men, often more than women. She was comfortable.

Joy found herself drawn to this man of the sea, drawn to his interesting observations about life. She liked to listen to him and would have liked to talk with him more, but there was no opportunity.

One day she went to the pier at high tide. Her worst fear had come true. The old man  wasn’t there. She went back at low tide, then at sunset. No sign of him. She repeated that pattern for many days. She felt a deep sense of loss. Maybe someday he’ll be back, she thought.

It had been a long time since Joy had let anyone close in any way. The old man of the sea had touched her soul. She didn’t even know his name.

Copyright Rosemary Carlson 2017

*Photo Credit to Last Door Down the Hall Blog

Poverty or Plenty

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It was important to Rita that she have a career. More important than anything. She married, but neither she nor her husband wanted children. She wanted her offspring to be the lives she touched as a professional woman. It was the late 1970s.

Rita decided on a career path. One that was going to be difficult because it was typically a man’s world. She didn’t buy that. If she studied hard, worked harder, she knew that she could do it. She could compete with men. She could certainly work with men. She was up for that challenge. Not only would this career path be fulfilling for her as a professional, but it would provide her with financial security. Financial security was important to Rita. She had never had much of that growing up.

Rita went to college, then to graduate school. She succeeded in obtaining the credentials she needed to pursue her desired career. She went after a job. She was highly sought after because she was a woman. It was now the early 1980s and companies were seeking diversity in their workforce.

Rita worked very hard, accomplishing as much as two men. Companies still discriminated back then. She was never paid as much as men doing comparable jobs. She stil worked hard. She was able to have a home, cars, clothes, travel, and all the things she thought she wanted. Best of all, she was able to buy them with money she had earned. She didn’t have to depend on any one else.

She didn’t regret her decision regarding not having children. She’d never been taught domestic skills growing up. Never been encouraged to be a mother. She wouldn’t have known how. Outside of her work, she developed many other interests and a plethora of friends. She had a lot of skills, both in her vocation and as avocations.

As Rita got older and started thinking about retirement, she realized that she didn’t really want to retire. After all, what would she do with no family? She had already traveled around a big part of the world, at least the part she wanted to see. She had known for some time that her home didn’t really give her pleasure. Rita had been taught to take pleasure in “things.” Beautiful, expensive things, but they were still just things. She had a house full of these beautiful and expensive things that meant nothing to her. They carried sad memories. Memories of loved ones who were long gone. She hated looking at these things. They simply signified the loss of the family she had loved.

Rita had “plenty.” But, plenty of what? Material things? Sadness?

Then Rita experienced a crisis in her life. A traumatic experience that made her question everything about her life. Her home reminded her of that crisis. She felt that she needed time away from it. She decided to take another trip, this time to a place she had always loved but where she had not visited in some time. A very different place from her home. Somewhere she felt she could recover from the traumatic event that had occurred in her life.

Something happened while Rita was on her trip to the place where she felt she could recover from her tragedy. Rita realized what she needed in her life and it was not the “plenty” she had at her home. It wasn’t the big house, the nice cars, the beautiful clothes, and all the largesse that goes with it. She realized those things were causing a poverty of her spirit. Putting her energy into taking care of such things was the wrong thing for Rita to do. Instead, she needed time to live simply, in a simple place, with like-minded people. After that revelation came to her, she didn’t care about her home again.

Rita realized she couldn’t live any longer with the poverty her spirit felt. She had to leave the people and places that made her feel inadequate and stressed. She had to leave the house where she had plenty, but where she really lived in poverty, and the house that stole her time. She had to run, as fast and hard as she could, toward the place and the people who made her feel young again, strong again, smart again. She had to do it quickly because she was in the last quarter, the last quarter of her life.

She would take with her the people from the “before” life who she loved and who loved her and who made her feel strong. She would leave all the others behind. She would embrace the new place, the magical place. She would make this last quarter of  her life the quarter of “plenty,” not poverty of spirit, and finally be happy.

I Can See for Miles…..Farther!

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My name is Liz and I told my story here last fall in a story called I Can See for Miles. I didn’t use my name then because I was so humiliated and embarrassed. I can use my name now. Yes, I let someone humiliate me. Hurt me terribly. Embarrass me. Shatter my heart. It’s six months later now and I can tell a little more of my story. Some of it is so personal I can’t tell it all, but I can talk more about what happened to me. Maybe it will help someone else.

To put it simply, I got involved in a relationship with the wrong man. I didn’t know he was the wrong man. I had known him for more years than I want to think about and we had been involved on some level a number of times before last fall. It wasn’t a traditional relationship. Quite the opposite. But, it was a relationship that was important to me and I had every reason to think it was also important to him, including both his words and his actions. He was the love of my life……..I thought.

The truth of the matter is that I made a terrible mistake and a terrifically bad decision to get involved with this man – ever. From the first time many years ago. Why? Because he is a sociopath. Sociopaths are dangerous people and I found that out – in spades. He has some other issues besides the fact that he is a sociopath, but that is the issue most relevant to what happened to me with him. Normal people don’t do what he did. Not only men can be sociopaths. Women can be too. In my case, it was a man. Let me tell you what makes a sociopath who he is and why he is dangerous.

1. Sociopaths are charming and smooth. Dating a sociopath can be wonderful. They sweep you off your feet. Believe me, I was swept totally off my feet.

2. They have no regard for societal rules or norms. But, they are good at faking it. They are big time risk-takers.

3. They are also good at faking relationships. In fact, I did not ever, over many years, have an actual relationship with this man. It was fake. It was all fake. Sociopaths cannot have real relationships because they have no empathy. Perhaps that’s the reason this man had been married more than five times. The relationship was real to me because he was able to make it feel real to me, but it was never real. There was something about our relationship that he needed, that he gained.

4. Sociopaths are control freaks but you often don’t realize it because they are so good at it. I certainly didn’t realize it. He chooses to date or marry you because you meet a need, not because he loves you or even likes you.

5.  Sociopaths will treat you like a queen, until they are finished with you. You may have a thousand wonderful times with a sociopath. I certainly did. But, they will eventually throw you away like yesterday’s garbage. You will feel like yesterday’s garbage. 

6. In relationships, sociopaths are self-serving. A relationship to them is a means to an end. They want something – money, power, sex, amusement, something you can give them. When you quit being able to give it to them, they are gone.

7. A sociopath has three phases to his relationship. First is the assessment of the victim. Will she meet his needs. Second is when he is in the relationship and getting what he needs. He will fake love and romance but he feels nothing. Third is the abandonment stage. He leaves the other person when he has gotten what he wants. He has a desire to hurt that person and goes about the business of doing that.

8. A sociopath is very good at determining his partner’s weaknesses and using them against her.

9. Can a sociopath love? In a word, no. They love themselves, power, and manipulation. They love in an unemotional, uncaring manner, but the partner does not know it. But, the true, complex emotion of love. Absolutely not.

10. Can you love a sociopath? On that, I am an expert and the answer is yes, absolutely. That’s because you aren’t loving the real person, but a persona. You are treated so well and so intensely, that you can love a sociopath very intensely.

I think what is so important to me about these ten points about sociopaths is that I did love this man who was a sociopath and wasted many, many years of my life loving him. The second thing is that I was hurt deeply when the relationship ended, before I figured out that I had been involved with a man who was a sociopath. Third and most important is that sociopaths have a desire to hurt their former partner and they very methodically go about doing it. That is what makes a sociopath dangerous.

So why is this post entitled, “I Can See for Miles….Farther?” I will never totally recover from the hurt from this relationship, but I have discovered a new relationship!  I have met a wonderful man who is good to me. I’m a different, eccentric kind of girl and our relationship isn’t traditional either, but it is good. In fact, it is very very good. I’m happy and fulfilled in this relationship. I never thought that would happen for me again.

 

 

 

Rebecca’s Tragedy

When Rebecca was a teenager, a tragedy befell her. I’m only talking about the tragedy now because I’m telling her story in a book I’m writing and this chapter is necessary in order for you to understand her. It’s part of Rebecca’s backstory. Her tragedy is a nightmare that every parent fears and an event that would mark any teenage girl for life. It marked Rebecca and changed her and her life forever. I’m spending some time working on the backstory here on my blog. All of you writers and readers out there, I’d love your constructive criticism!

When Rebecca was a young teenager, her relationship with her mother was very dysfunctional. Her mom was a woman who was probably clinically depressed, though that was not a diagnosis typically made in the 1960s. She was very reclusive and laser-focused on Rebecca. She wanted Rebecca to study and make good grades. She didn’t want Rebecca to see her friends. Instead, Rebecca went to school and came home. She received constant warnings from her mom about what a bad influence her friends were on her, along with how she should not ever be around boys. When Rebecca was fifteen, her mother and dad had finally decided to let her go to selected places with her friends. She could never go anywhere like a school dance, but she could go to her friends’ houses, a drive-in restaurant, or a ballgame. Her dad would take her and come pick her up. Then something happened when sixteen was right around the corner.

Rebecca went to a basketball game with some of her girlfriends. SItting near them in the bleachers was a group of boys from the other high school in town. Rebecca didn’t know any of them. She didn’t even notice them. A boy from their group came over during the game and sat down beside Rebecca. They started to talk. She was very shy, but he drew her out and they laughed and talked a little during the game. At its end, he asked Rebecca out on a date. She told him she would have to ask her parents. He said he would call her and asked for her telephone number. Rebecca was thrilled. It was the first time she’d been asked out on a date.

As her dad drove her home that night, he told her that he had seen her talking to T.J. at the ballgame. She was scared to talk to her dad about it, but she knew she had to if she wanted to go out on a date with T.J. She told her dad T.J.’s name and a little about their conversation. A conversation between a shy, young girl and a boy who was a year older and more experienced. A boy who had already had a steady girlfriend. Her dad knew T.J.’s dad. After Rebecca asked if she could go out with T.J., her dad didn’t say anything for a long time. Finally, he gruffly told her she could. Rebecca threw her arms around his neck, even though he was driving. She didn’t see the tears in his eyes.

The tears in her dad’s eyes were not about that particular boy. Not then. They were because he knew he had to let Rebecca grow up. Had he known what would happen because of T.J. McNamara later, he would never have given his permission. He had no way to know.

Somehow, Rebecca’s dad convinced her mother that it was all right for Rebecca to go out with T.J. They never went out on school nights unless there was a ballgame. They dated throughout the end of Rebecca’s sophomore year in high school and through what would have been the first semester of her senior year in high school. Rebecca started college that semester. They became part of each other’s families. They were happy. T.J. had asked Rebecca to marry him.

Then, in the spring semester of Rebecca’s senior year, T.J. suddenly told her that he wanted to date other people. It was out of the blue. There was nothing she could do about it, and she and T.J. went their separate ways. Rebecca cried a million tears. One night, not very long after that, Rebecca went out with a group of kids in their car to the local drive-in restaurant. She didn’t even see T.J.’s car pull in, but before she knew it, T.J. jerked open the door of the car in which she was in and yanked her out of the car. Her friends started screaming for him to let her go, but he shoved her into his car and roared away. No one could possibly have caught him.

Rebecca doesn’t remember what words passed between them. As they pulled out of the restaurant’s parking lot, they turned toward the outskirts of the small town. The first thing Rebecca felt was T.J. hitting her in the face with his fist. He had never raised a hand to her during their years of dating. Things got fuzzy for Rebecca after that first blow. All she remembers is that he kept hitting her in the eye and face as he drove. She finally passed out. When she awoke, he was beating her in the abdomen, still driving the car, and she passed out again.

The next thing Rebecca remembered was being in T.J.’s car on the shoulder of the road leading to his parent’s house. He was talking to her even though she had been unconscious. He was asking her how they could cover up what he had done. She doesn’t remember answering. She was in a stupor. Not exactly unconscious, but not conscious either. He drove her to his parent’s farm which was a number of miles out of town. She remembers T.J.’s mother sitting down in shock when she saw them walk in and thinking she must look bad. The only other thing she remembers about that visit is T.J.’s parents telling him to take her home.

Rebecca doesn’t remember the drive home. All she remembers is waking up in a heap in her driveway and thinking that it was dark and she hurt and was alone. She supposed that T.J. just pushed her out of the car instead of face her parents. She was too weak to get up. She just laid there and cried for her dad. Somehow, her dad heard her or heard something and came to investigate. She remembers that he snatched her up, crying, and took her inside and laid her on the couch. She remembers thinking she’d ruin her mother’s couch with blood. He and her mother tried to get her to talk to them and tell them what happened. She doesn’t remember talking, but she must have mentioned T.J. Her dad put she and her mother in the car and drove them to the Emergency Room. Then he left, although Rebecca didn’t know until weeks later that he went to T.J.’s parent’s farm and tried to kill him with a 2’X4′ piece of lumber. His dad stopped him.

Rebecca was in the hospital for several days. Her eye was damaged with all the blood vessels broken. The bones in her eye socket were bruised and her jaw on the right side was cracked. The facial bruising was severe as was the bruising on her abdomen. She had broken ribs. Rebecca’s parents told her later that she didn’t speak to them or to the doctor’s the entire time she was in the hospital. She went home at the end of those few days, but she never went back to high school again. She did eventually continue on in college when she had healed. Physically. Rebecca didn’t ever emotionally heal. Not really.

Rebecca never talked to T.J. again. She never knew what caused him to do what he did. He was obviously an abuser. She didn’t even see him again for many years. When she did, there was no remorse on his face. Instead, there was a sneer. Many years later, physical damage from that terrible beating came back to haunt Rebecca.

The emotional and mental injuries were, by far, the worst. It was years before she went out on another date. She finished college quickly in that small town in eastern Tennessee. She did have many friends, but she didn’t see her high school friends. She left as quickly as she was finished with college and moved to the city. Except for coming back and visiting her parents, it was years before she ever spent time in her hometown again.

There was no doubt that Rebecca needed psychological counseling after the incident with T.J., but that kind of therapy was not widely available during the 1960s and 1970s. Instead, she buried that incident in her psyche and didn’t think about it for years at a time. Later in Rebecca’s life, she realized that it had shaped her relationships for all of her life. It was too late now.

Censorship and the Bookstore on the Corner

The little bookstore used to be one of the gathering places in the small village. The front of the bookstore had the current bestsellers and also some books that were worthy but that had not caught the eye of the public. As you walked toward the back of the bookstore, the books got older and more were in paperback. All were carefully vetted by the owner, Pete Turner. All he wanted was high quality literature in his store.

This was before the federal government stepped in and started banning books. There were always sectors of society that banned books. Public schools. Libraries. They usually banned them because they contained sex, violence, profanity. Pete bought books for literary value. That was in the past. Before the federal government, beginning in 2017, sent out squads of soldiers to pull books off the shelf that were on their banned book lists.

It was hypocrisy. The Holy Bible was always on the banned book list. That was the only banned book the soldiers left intact on the shelves.

What the squads of soldiers didn’t know is that Pete kept shelves of banned books hidden in the basement of his bookstore. He had put book jackets on the banned books that were fake. The jackets from other books that were on the government’s approved list.

In 2017, the federal government decided to try to control the American people’s reading material. They were relentless. They went into libraries and schools and stripped the shelves of any book on the list and even some that weren’t. Bookstores were hit especially hard. They even pulled the Harry Potter series off the shelves. It had been on the banned book list off and on and so many children had enjoyed it. Harry Potter was the number one banned book between 2000-2009 according to the information Pete had. After they pulled the books off shelves, they piled them in the street and burned them.

People were afraid to gather in Pete’s bookstore now. His business had dropped by half. He owned his store fair and square. There was no mortgage on it. That was the only way he was staying in business at all. Many bookstores were going out of business.

The people who were in favor of the actions of the federal government with regard to banning books didn’t see the problem. Some thought it was a good thing that these books that talked about issues that made them uneasy and afraid were being burned in  the streets. The others, the ones who thought the federal government was overstepping, brought up the First Amendment and freedom of speech. They said that banning books and burning them in the streets was a violation of the First Amendment. Banning books and burning them in the street was the ultimate in censorship.

Just recently, Pete had learned through his distributors of books, that the federal government had ordered that production be stopped of the books on the banned book list by the book publishers. These publishers were high-profile. Pete had also learned through his contacts that smaller publishers had started producing these banned books under the radar. They were booklegging. Producing banned books illicitly. Otherwise, these wonderful books would be lost forever. Books like “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck; “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain; “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee; “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley; and many, many more. If these small publishers were discovered, there would be terrible consequences compliments of the federal government.

Pete’s bookstore had a supply of many of the banned books camouflaged in his basement. He was essentially running a library out of his basement and loaned them to people who wanted to read them. Pete, himself, would suffer consequences if he was discovered. Even though many people now avoided his bookstore, there was a core group of readers that still came in, had coffee and tea, and browsed. They were defiant of the federal government. Pete was so glad to see them. These people recognized censorship for what it was.

Pete had been able to obtain and keep some history books that detailed what had happened in the Fascist regime in Germany. If the soldiers found these books, they would take them and burn them, but Pete tried to keep them available for all his patrons to read. In 1933, Hitler’s regime burned 25,000 books supposedly to remove the Jewish influence from Nazi Germany. Books from scholars such as Freud and Einstein were among these books and some were irreplaceable. Censorship through book burning was a hallmark of the German Fascist regime. Pete wanted history books available for his patrons so they could read about this movement. He was afraid he would be found out. In Germany, booklegging became popular but was shut down.

Pete spent his days as proprietor of his bookstore trying to keep a low profile while encouraging the people of the village to frequent his bookstore. It was a fine line to walk. The squads of soldiers appeared at his door on a regular basis but they found fewer and fewer books to burn. All his banned books were camouflaged and hidden. Pete is noticing that more people in the village, people who are surprising to him, are coming in to have coffee and talk with him. They carefully ask to see his history books and occasionally, the banned books. This gives Pete hope, for his business and for his country.

Pete’s little bookstore in the village remains. The story has no ending yet. Pete and at least some of the people in the village have hope that the First Amendment of their Constitution will be respected in the future and censorship and the issue of banned books will become a thing of the past.

amwriting with The Writing Reader

Gretta’s Dream

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My name is Gretta. I don’t like to sleep. I dread going to sleep every night. You see, I have this dream. The same dream every night with minor variations. I remember my dream because it happens right before I wake up in the mornings. Each morning. Every morning. The dream isn’t bad. I should say it wasn’t bad in the past, but it was  a little disconcerting. Now, it’s bad. I still have the same dream even though, now, there is no reason I should have it. It makes me feel like I’ve been hypnotized.

Yes, I know this sounds confusing. I guess I should try to explain except I’m not sure I can. I think I probably was hypnotized, although that isn’t the right word. Brainwashed. That’s the right word. So I have this dream and it seems real. Sometimes for as much as ten or fifteen minutes after I wake up. I have dreams, just like everyone else, that I never remember afterwards. This dream is different.

I’m trying to delay telling you about the dream. I don’t like to talk about it. I’ve never told anyone about it except the other person who is in the dream, but he’s gone now. I think if I talk about it, maybe it will go away. Here goes.

Some background. There was a man in my life for awhile. That ended and it ended badly. Very badly for me compliments of him. But that’s another story. That man is in my dream. I had this dream while we were seeing each other and it has continued since. Probably because I was brainwashed.

It’s a simple dream. I dream that this man is lying beside me. We’re holding hands. His hand feels so real to me that I’m convinced he’s really there. It’s like living in an alternate reality. Then, I wake up. I still feel his hand grasping mine. I continue to lie there, sometimes for ten or fifteen minutes, actually wondering why I feel his hand in mine. I know it isn’t real, but why does it feel so real even when I am wide awake.

I get out of bed. For a time afterward, it haunts me. Not so much the dream, but the feeling. Why do I keep having the dream and more importantly, why do I keep having the feeling of his hand grasping mine?

Do you see why I don’t like to sleep?

Any feelings associated with the dream have long since gone. They are dead, buried by the ashes of my relationship with the man in the dream. I don’t even like the feeling of his hand grasping mine any more. He showed himself to be a mentally ill psychopath. Even at that, it took some time for me to get over my own feelings for this man. Once I found out what he had done, it was a relatively quick process. Within a few months, I was over the relationship or as over a relationship as you can ever get when someone sets out to systematically gain your love and trust and then, on purpose, figures out and acts on a plan to crush you.

Why did he do this rather than just tell me the relationship wasn’t working for him? You’d have to ask him. I suspose because he is, indeed, a psychopath.

I’m left with this dream that wants to pass for reality. Every day, I tell myself it is not reality and will never be reality again because I will never allow that to happen. The dream does not go away. Can a situation, a relationship, damage your subconscious to the point where you can’t shake it from your subconscious?

I guess I need help with this. You don’t get over brainwashing easily. I would do just about anything if I could wake up just one morning without having had this damn dream. I would love to like to sleep again. Peacefully.