Shaved Legs and All: LGBT Pogrom

Spontaneity - By Mizeta Moon 

The scruffy man stood on the corner in the rain. Shirtless, shoeless, dancing around–seemingly unmindful of the cold. I’d seen him hundreds of times on my way to the store or the bar. Sometimes he had a coat on, sometimes not. I was afraid of him so I never engaged him in conversation though we often passed close in parking lots. I knew he had mental health issues and his outbursts made me think he could be violent. He never had a begging sign and didn’t seem to collect refundable bottles and cans so I wondered how he supported himself. 

That day I was on my way to Goodwill to donate some clothing that was too big for me after shedding some pounds. With the sky pouring the way it was I could barely see him but something tugged at my heart and I pulled to the curb. I reached over the seat and rifled through one of the bags until I found the coat I was looking for. I didn’t have shoes but thought maybe he went barefoot on purpose. I’d noticed that several of the homeless in the area did the same. Anyway, I rolled the window down and waved him over after locking the doors. At first, he ignored me and I almost pulled away to keep my seat from getting soaked. I beckoned again and he peered at me like someone looking down a hole. As he shuffled toward me, I put the car in gear and planted my foot on the brake. At that point I was wondering why I’d stopped. 

When he got close, I held the coat out and asked him if he wanted it. His toothless grin made me so frightened I almost dropped it and sped away. The deranged look in his eyes chilled me to the bone but I managed to stay put. Cackling and rubbing his hands together, he closed the gap, then reached for the coat. As soon as he touched it, I released my grip, lifted my foot off the brake and stomped on the gas pedal. Rolling up the window I noticed my hands were shaking and my sleeve was sopping wet. The phrase “No good deed goes unpunished” ran through my mind as I pulled into line at the Goodwill donation station. I wondered if he might pester me in the future now that he’d seen me in my car. 

After dropping off the clothing, I went to Pastimes and ordered a double shot of whiskey because my hands were still shaking. As my nerves responded to the whiskey, I realized my attempt at kindness was misdirected. He hadn’t asked for my help and donating to charities serves the same purpose. Offering him an umbrella would have been better than giving him something that would be soaked in minutes. Since I don’t like to drink and drive, I figured it would be wise to order one of Pastimes’ excellent pizzas and a glass of water, then sit for a while before leaving. You’ve probably guessed by now that on my way home I passed him again. The rain had slackened but a cold wind was blasting. Typical weather for the mouth of the gorge. There he danced, shirtless still, my coat lying on the sidewalk, sodden and bloated. It made me sad to think that someone might have appreciated its warmth if I’d left it in the bag. 

Since then, I see him everywhere but he hasn’t bothered me and my fear has abated. I’ll always be happy that my heart has the ability to share and care but now I understand that spontaneity can be a good thing in certain situations but not in others. Reaching to pet the wrong dog can get you bit.                 

The Crying Bartender - By Mizeta Moon 

It was a quiet night. Just me at the bar. She had tears in her eyes and I asked her what was wrong. “Aren’t you supposed to tell me your troubles?” She asked. “I don’t want to burden you with mine.” 

“I’m all ears,” I replied. She poured me another drink, then propped her elbows on the bar and cupped her chin with her hands. 

“Do you know what it feels like to be lonely?” She asked. “To watch people holding hands all around you and have no one want to hold yours. To see them kiss and be reminded that yours haven’t tasted passion for years. To go to bed alone every night wishing someone in the world wanted to be with you. Feeling ugly, rejected, and unworthy. To beg the universe for crumbs while watching those who have someone disregard their good fortune and throw love in the gutter. Have you ever cried yourself to sleep at night, wishing someone would hold you?” 

“No,” I replied. “I’m lucky. I have someone who cares about me.” 

She nodded, grabbed a napkin, and wiped her eyes. “Hopefully, you appreciate them and give them your all. I have so much love to give, but no one wants it. My fingers ache to stroke someone. My skin cries out for contact. I spend every waking hour hoping someone will kiss me and make me their own. At the end of the day there’s just me and my aching desire, trying to stay happy despite striking out again. I ask why no one can love me but have no answers. Everyone tells me I’m a good person. Funny, friendly, all that stuff, but the only hugs I get are friendship ones. No one hits me with surges of heat spawned by their desire. Loneliness is a dark deep pit where your pleas for companionship echo but find no resonance. I don’t want to die without the taste of love on my mouth.” 

“Wow. I had no idea. You’re such a vibrant person. You hide your misery well.” 

She noted that my drink needed refilling, then took care of it. No one else came in so we were destined to be fellow voyagers this night. I could leave but felt she had more to say and it might help if I heard her out. 

“It’s not about sex. It’s about having someone to share the journey. Someone who likes being with you. Who enjoys your company. Who doesn’t care that you have flaws and make mistakes. Someone who’ll be there when things go bad and you need support. Someone who’ll give from the heart and allow you to do the same. I’ve quit making my bed since no one wants to sleep in it. I’ve stopped having dreams because they never come true. I just get up each day and do my job, smiling at customers who get drunk and go home and argue. Even that would be better than emptiness. At least I would feel alive. As it is, I’m growing dead inside. Not suicidal, not depressed and unwilling to go forward. Dead in the sense that hope doesn’t bring resolution. There’s just routine. Eating, sleeping, existing without the spark and excitement romance brings. The thrill of knowing someone holds you dear to their heart and thinks of you as special.” 

By then, tears were flowing down her face and I felt awkward. What could I do or say? As if sensing my discomfort, she wiped her eyes again and worked at regaining her professional demeanor. Pouring me another, she said “this one’s on the house.” 

Before I could say anything, the door opened and a couple walked in. They were in the midst of an argument and broadcasted tension. The bartender looked at me with an unspoken “see what I mean,” and greeted them with a smile. When I got home that night, I kissed my lover deeply and held tight for a long moment. We’d weathered storms together and might face many more. But those going it alone had nothing and no one to cling to but their own inner strength. Loneliness in a crowded world was an abyss they had to navigate without knowing how long they’d be mired there. Desperately reaching for a hand to hold.         


War zone - By Mizeta Moon 

The shoeless one-eyed man sat in the dirt, leaning against the wall of a bombed-out building. His wife lie dead inside and his children were being eaten by vultures on what was once a beautiful patio. He knew he was close to death but wanted to hold on long enough to spit on one of the invaders. He knew they would come. They always did. They looted what wealth remained, then burned what their bombs left unsullied. Their desire to desecrate and eliminate was an unquenchable thirst. They hungered for supremacy. Submission and surrender were impossible when their juggernaut thrust into the lives of those targeted for extinction. 

He was a farmer who’d tilled the soil for a meager existence. Tending a small flock of sheep for wool, milk, and meat when a lamb could be spared. A simple man who loved his family and greeted each day with reverence, thankful for every moment given. A man who gazed at stars in wonder. Who stood in rain and marveled at its ability to replenish the land and allow life to spring forth. A man who felt malice towards no man and coveted not their bounty. 

He could hear the clank of metal treads approaching but was also aware of his ragged breathing. Too weak to stand, he could only wait for a face to look into his as they certified his termination. He was thankful his wife wouldn’t be raped and degraded like many wives had been. Death saved her from humiliation. His children wouldn’t be sent to toil in camps where beatings and starvation would precede their expiration. Death came to them suddenly from the sky. Their souls were no longer in residence while their flesh was consumed. 

Footsteps crunching through sand became the dominant sound as the enemy drew near. His mouth was so dry he struggled to produce enough spittle to properly display his contempt. Expiring without a moment of defiance wasn’t an acceptable end for someone whose only crime was being in the way of greed. A pawn in a power struggle he’d never participated in or understood. When a shadow loomed over him, he used the remainder of his energy to eject all that he’d been into the face of the enemy. 

“This one’s a goner. Not much left of the house. Looks like they were pretty poor. Maybe the next town has more to offer.” 

“Roger that. Good hunting,” 


Time warp - By Mizeta Moon 

The park was deserted, just as she’d hoped. Solitude was what she needed at the moment instead of company. She would burst into tears if someone asked what was wrong. The death of her mother left her hurting and depressed, adrift in an ocean of self-pity. They’d been more than parent and child, they were friends. Now the house was lonely and cold without laughter and joy they’d shared. Taking a walk in the park they’d frequented over the years probably wasn’t good therapy, but it beat having the walls close in as she packed donation boxes and sorted what she wanted to keep. Most people kept too much and burdened themselves with sentimentality. She wanted to cherish her mother’s memory but understood that a few significant items were better than closets full of things left unused or visited for decades. 

Her reverie was so intense that without realizing it she wandered into a section of the park she’d never visited. When she finally became cognizant of her surroundings, she was lost. Looking around, she saw several paths going in different directions. Which way had she come? If she did an about face could she find her way back to her starting point? After a bout of indecision she chose one of the paths and hoped for the best. After only a few yards, she took a wrong turn, but rather than cause her to suffer, the path turned into a cure for her despondency, though she didn’t know that at the time. Fearful now, her anxiety mounted with each step. 

The path led through a stand of trees and emerged into a sunlit meadow where hundreds of people milled around, laughing, smiling, and romping about with abandon. A bandstand stood on one side of the grassy expanse and a series of tents sporting brightly colored flags fluttering on the breeze occupied the other. People with long hair wearing beads and feathers beckoned her to join them. The smell of patchouli oil and marijuana dominated as she drew near. To her, it looked like the type of gathering her mother would have attended in the sixties. She’d seen pictures of her mother dressed like this, smoking a joint at a concert in the photo albums she’d inherited. She knew her mother once sang for a rock and roll band such as the one currently mounting the stage. Dazed and confused, she moved through the crowd without feeling connected. It was as if the people were ether and she was the only solid object there. 

As she neared the stage, she saw a woman pick up a microphone and begin to sing lyrics to a classic song from days gone by. It was one of her mother’s favorites. Sly and the Family Stone’s Everyday People. She knew the words by heart since they’d played the album Stand hundreds of times. Its timeless message still relevant decades later. Taking a closer look, she was amazed to see that the woman singing was her mother. Face rapturous, transmitting love and happiness, centered in the moment. It suddenly struck her that everyone had their moment in the sun and she was being afforded a glimpse into one experienced by someone she loved. Tears of joy poured from her eyes as her sadness was replaced by the understanding that though all things must pass, each was significant in the fabric of time. 

Moments later, the scene dissolved and she found herself standing in the parking lot next to her car. Reaching into her purse for her keys, she knew it was time for her to choose her own destinations for the rest of her life. Sadness and sorrow would only lead into darkness. She needed to pick up the microphone and sing her own favorite song.     

Afternoon Stroll - By Mizeta Moon 

The sun finally made an appearance after a two week absence. By then, cabin fever raged in my entire being, and I had to get out of the house or go mad. After bundling up, I hopped on my bike and rode to Blue Lake. During the winter it’s generally quiet, save a few dogs dragging their owners around on a leash. No one was using the playground equipment so I chained my bike to a pole and started walking. It felt wonderful to breathe fresh air and bask in the warming rays of the sun. I had a chocolate bar in my pocket that I unwrapped and munched on while surveying the starkness of deciduous trees combing the breeze with their barren branches. Across the lake a boat bobbed at the end of a pier that belonged to one of the private homes. Seeing it made me want to come back in the summer for a cruise in one of the rentable paddle boats. A few yards later, a flotilla of ducks started quacking at me from the water but I hadn’t anything to share. A gaggle of geese moved across the grass with their heads down, avidly searching for sustenance. Their honking grew louder as I neared so I made sure to give them room. Engrossed in my thoughts and the scenery, I hadn’t noticed the woman who’d quietly walked up behind me. When she spoke, I nearly jumped out of my skin. 

“Mind if I walk with you?” 

Looking her over as I recovered my wits, I was pleased to see a slender young lady wearing sneakers and sweats with a brightly-colored knit scarf loosely draped around her neck. She held a violin and a bow in her left hand. Her smile seemed genuine and her demeanor wasn’t threatening. Before I could answer, she spoke again. “Sorry for startling you. I thought you’d seen me while you were locking your bike.” 

“Um . . . that’s okay. Sure, you can walk with me. Are you from around here?” 

“Yeah, I live in Wood Village. I come here to play to the ducks since they don’t care that I’m still learning. My family doesn’t appreciate sour notes. My name’s Carla, by the way.” 

Shaking the hand she held out, I said, “Mine’s Louise. Nice to meet you.” 

We walked and chatted for a while, then sat on a bench to visit and get to know each other better. I was enjoying her company and didn’t mind my stroll being interrupted. After a few minutes I asked if she would play for me. At first, she said no, due to fear of embarrassment, but relented when I assured her that I wouldn’t critique her performance. 

The first few notes proved she was gifted. As she worked her way through several songs, she did hit a bad note every so often but her verve and passion for playing shone through. I was quite impressed and thoroughly enjoyed the private concert while watching wispy clouds cross bands of blue and purple in the sky. I noticed that the ducks were all facing us while quietly bobbing on gentle breeze-driven waves, making a statement about their enjoyment of her visits. 

As evening grew near, there was a chill in the air and I needed to move my limbs or sit shivering. When I stood, she stopped playing and jumped to her feet as well. No words were needed as we resumed our stroll. She knew I’d liked our time together. As the light faded, we prepared to part ways. I unlocked my bike and offered to give her a lift but she said, “It’s uphill all the way. I would be a burden. I’ll call my mom and she’ll come get me. Don’t worry, I do this all the time.” She’d obviously noted my look of concern. 

I went to the lake several times after that but never saw her again. The songs she played still echo in my mind and that magical afternoon is a memory I will cherish forever. Knowing that the ducks are music lovers created a new pastime for me. I bring a bag of frozen peas and my Boombox, then sit on that same bench, tossing them peas and sharing some tunes. People walking past often look at me like I’m crazy, but what do they know?       


Hello, Friend - By Mizeta Moon 

We’re different. That’s okay. I’m not texting you to assign blame for anything going on in the world, or to be absolved from it. I’m reaching out to show I care. You’re part of me–therefore I love you because I love myself. I, nor you, can’t escape being cojoined. We are one organism with billions of facets. Is it possible our desire to survive can convert from carnage to cohabitation? I entertain such a notion. 

If everything were the same shape or color, what would we see? A blank screen? Squiggly lines? A void swallowed by a bigger void? Sounds boring to me. Texture, variety, and tactile interaction make life interesting. We soar to heights and plummet to depths. Such is corporeal existence. I can go on and on about lofty, esoteric things. But! What about you and me? Can we remain friends despite our points of view? Can we share the world? Accept and understand that everyone has a hungry mouth to feed? Can we work to provide instead of deny? 

Recent events have shown me that there are people who spew hatred regardless of what the issue is. I often wonder if such vitriolic postings are their true feelings or if they are inspired by others. I’ve read postings by people who chose to be my Facebook friend that are unsettling at times but I can honestly say I’ve never unfriended anyone for their point of view. I seldom comment because fighting word wars would consume too much of my time. Writing my stories and living a good life are my daily concern. Enjoying the beauty of the world for as long as I’m granted such privilege. Something I look forward to is seeing the smiling faces of my friends when we are able to freely interact again. I may be foolish to hope that the weapons and rhetoric can be muzzled while we work to erase the common enemies of poverty, divisiveness, and sickness, but I’ll continue to send love into the world towards such an end. 

Song lyric: If you smile at me, I will understand. That is something everybody everywhere does in the same language. 

At the moment I can only see your eyes because of your mask. When they light up, so do mine.     

Christmas on the Corner - By Mizeta Moon 

I’d been sleeping on the streets of San Francisco for about a year. The injury that caused my inability to work was healing but I still had a way to go. Like most of the other homeless, I pushed a shopping cart around and scrounged for cans and bottles to provide the most basic needs. At that time there weren’t big groups camping together like you see today. Two or three was common as there are few open areas in that city other than parks. Camping in them was a big no no, and patrols enforced that rule nightly. I wasn’t out there by choice and wasn’t suffering any type of mental health or addiction issue. It was always my intention to heal my body and get back to work as soon as possible. I stayed by myself, didn’t associate, didn’t panhandle with a begging sign, or steal. Most days I sat quietly reading a book when I wasn’t pawing through garbage cans for recyclables. I stood in line for meals from the soup kitchens and said please and thank you for what was given. The money I earned went toward showers at a local spa, beer, of course, keeping my clothes neat and clean, and toiletries. I wasn’t going to let the street beat me down. 

My standoffishness led to problems with a bunch of old drunks who clustered on Haight Street and panhandled for beer money. I liked going to Haight because someone would usually be passing a joint around and I could get a toke. Anyway, they would harass me, claiming it was their turf. Since I usually wandered the avenues and avoided the homeless haunts it wasn’t that big a deal. On Christmas eve I was sitting on the steps of a bank and the generosity of the residents led to people just walking up and handing me food, money, toothpaste, etc. People were often kind to me spontaneously since I didn’t ask for anything and they could tell I didn’t belong out there. It was Christmas morning that one of the funniest moments of that time in my life occurred. 

I hit Haight street just after dawn, as I knew the drunks would be sprawled on the sidewalk sleeping it off. They were prone to keep banker’s hours. Anyway, about fifty feet away from them I saw a huge pile of beer and wine boxes and garbage bags stacked on the sidewalk. Hustling over, I planned to grab all the bottles and scoot. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be the leftovers from a huge party. I scooped up nearly a hundred full beers, about twenty five bottles of wine, some champagne and one bottle of whiskey. There was a lot of unopened food as well. Constantly looking to see that none of the assholes were stirring, I loaded my cart with it all and quietly rolled away. It was so heavy that I knew I hadn’t the strength to go very far, so I crossed over to the opposite side and made for Golden Gate park, happy that part of the street is flat. For the rest of the day I couldn’t stop breaking out laughing at having plundered a treasure those guys would have found had they woke before me. I sat at the entrance to the park all day, handing out beer and wine to passersby. It was a jolly Christmas to say the least. I saved enough for myself to eat well and drink for a couple days, then went back to my regular routine. 

I eventually healed enough to work at the recycling center instead of being a client. From there my life moved along and led me to where I am today. The reason I’m sharing this story is to show that even in the bleakest times one can set goals, maintain their dignity, and constantly strive to do better. This year has been hard on everyone, but I stayed focused, upbeat, and shared the love in every way I could. As a result of that focus I published my eighth book just before Thanksgiving and have been the recipient of a lot of love in return. I sincerely thank all of you for your comments and support. None of what I’ve accomplished would be possible without a lot of wonderful people in my life. I hope you are all warm and well and haven’t let the darkness shroud your light. This time will pass and everyone will have a remember-when story. 

Uh oh! - By Mizeta Moon 

Living on the edge can lead to waking up in bed with a stranger, having a severe hangover, and wondering where your panties got to. Not to mention concerns about whether protection was used and if you drove drunk. Or, if not, where is my car? Seeing a used condom wrapper on the floor when getting up to pee reveals one answer but leads to another question. Was the sex any good? 

By living on the edge I mean going to bars and nightclubs alone and having no concerns about trying new drugs, drinks, or people. Running hard every night of the week after work. Staggering through another boring day at the office while the boss keeps trying to get in your pants. Hoping he doesn’t fire you for lack of interest in him or the job. 

This time, I knew I was in trouble when I tried to get up and couldn’t because a chain was wrapped around my whole body. Uh oh! Had I entered the lair of a serial killer and would be complicit in my death? Looking around for a bed partner, I discovered that I was in my own bed and alone. What in the world? Before I could speculate, the door opened, and my mom walked in, carrying a plate of pancakes. If there’s anything that can make me gag it’s the smell of those odious gut bombs. Especially if they’re swimming in Mrs. Butterworth’s. 

Ignoring my instant rage and discomfort, my mom smiled sweetly, then said, “There you are sleepy head. It’s about time you woke up, Wouldn’t want your breakfast getting cold, would we?” 

“What the hell is this about?” I screamed. “And get that crap out of here or I’ll puke.” 

Mom smiled indulgently before placing the offensive plate on my nightstand. “Now, now, dear. No need to speak to me that way. I’m only looking out for my little girl.” 

“By chaining me up and forcing me to eat Bisquick? What are you up to? Is this another of your little schemes to reform me? You should know better than that by now.” 

Mom pouted for a moment. “It’s just that I worry about you. Staying out all night. Sleeping with strangers. I hardly know you anymore. Didn’t Sunday School teach you anything?” 

“Yeah,” I replied contemptuously. “It taught me that Reverend Jopner had dirty hands and loved to pull my panties down in the storeroom. Unchain me now and I won’t press charges.” 

Mom got her indignant look on immediately. “You should be ashamed of yourself for such blasphemy. Reverend Jopner is on his way here now so we can pray for your redemption together.” 

At that point I started bucking and squirming so hard that the newel post she’d wrapped the chain around broke. Using the slack that created, I wriggled until I was free. Mom retreated immediately, knowing I would be too much for her if I turned violent. I would never hit her, but she needn’t know that. Fear is a great equalizer. 

It goes without saying that I flushed the pancakes before hopping in the shower. By the time I was dressed and ready for work, Reverend Jopner and my mother were at my kitchen table with hands joined and heads bowed. There was an intimacy between them that made me wonder if the reverend had pulled my mom’s panties down in the past. Oh my word! I thought. What if he still does? 

“Just so you know,” I said on my way out the door. “I’m having the locks changed this afternoon. Next time you stick your nose into my business I might not be so forgiving.” 

Reverend Jopner smiled sardonically. It was obvious now that he’d be happy to see me go. Hopefully, mom would change the sheets before leaving.

Redemption - By Mizeta Moon 

His decline into alcoholism, drug addiction, and constant self-abuse led to sleeping in an alley. What little he still owned was tattered and torn like the clothes he wore. Unkempt, unloved, unnoticed, he slipped behind the veil of polite society. Where a heart filled with hope once dwelt inside a vital body, despair now oozed from the pores of a walking corpse. His only solace lie in sitting at the bus stop, pretending he had a destination and the means to arrive there. Sometimes, people boarding or exiting the bus offered him money but he wasn’t there to beg. He was there to dream. 

One morning he discovered that a twelve string guitar had been left at the bus stop. It was a beautiful guitar with an ebony fret board, mother of pearl inlays and tuning keys. The strings looked new and were taut, appearing capable of performing in tune at first asking. He was afraid to touch it. If the owner returned for it, he might be accused of theft. Having been jailed before, he had no desire to return. He did stare at it though, and that caused memories of who he used to be to flood his mind. 

He remembered the roar of the crowd. The lights. Sweat running from his brow as he performed. He remembered the sound of his voice as it soared and waned, bringing joy and sorrow in equal measure while he strummed and plucked his guitar strings. The brotherhood he shared with fellow musicians as they toured the world. He remembered the woman who’d broken his heart one too many times. Numbing the pain of her departure with a shot and a beer. 

As the day went on, his desire to touch the guitar strengthened. People came and went, but he and the guitar were the only constant. When no one came to claim it by evening, he succumbed. Though his hands were dirty, the feel of its highly polished surface evoked a thrill they remembered. Tears formed when the first strum spread beauty in every direction. Without further thought, he began to play a song he’d written for her when they were young and in love. Though scratchy from years of hard living, his voice stirred and emitted lyrics he’d thought forgotten. Soon, a gentle breeze carried his long abandoned feelings into the ears and hearts of passersby. They paused, smiled, and swayed as his fingers flew over the strings and his voice grew stronger and sweeter with each passing moment. 

Hours later, a crowd had formed and gone, then formed again. When he finally tired and ceased playing, they drifted away, having witnessed redemption of a previously broken man. One of the last to leave was a woman who held out a beautiful hand-woven guitar strap and asked him to take it. 

“I can’t,” he said. “The guitar isn’t mine.” 

“It is now,” the woman replied. “I could never make it sing like you. I’d planned to hock it, but now I know why I forgot it in my haste to catch the bus.” 

Speechless, he caressed the strap for a moment before attaching it. Staring at her afterward, he said, “You made this didn’t you?” 

“Wear it proudly,” she said. “The world is waiting to hear your voice again.”

Still Life Portrait - By Mizeta Moon 

Still Life Portrait 

By Mizeta Moon 

There is a bench at the edge of the woods where people sit when they want to enjoy a spectacular view. A shimmering lake whose ripples gently touch a sandy shoreline fills the foreground while snow-capped peaks rise in the background. The bench itself was carved from a fallen tree over a century ago and its weathered seat has hosted thousands of visitors. Some visitors were sad and in need of an uplifting panorama. Others sought quiet respite from a noisy world. Some simply needed to rest a moment before traveling on. Photographers and painters often pause there to capture spectacular sunsets and sunrises. Me, I was looking for inspiration that would lead to a new story. Ironically, someone had left a book on the bench when they departed and it captured my attention immediately. 

The book left on the bench was faded and worn. It had obviously been a treasured read throughout its life and I wondered why it was abandoned. Had someone read it, then wanted to pass it along? Was it left by accident? How long had it been there? Should I leave it for someone else to find? What if it rained? Being an author, I would feel guilt for such ruination. While I pondered these questions, my mind suddenly turned in a different direction. I started thinking about how that book came to be. The beginning, rather than the end of its life. 

It stated as an idea, then flowed out of someone onto some form of manuscript. Whomever it was spent time on their labor of love. Write, edit, write, rewrite, edit some more. Like a sculptor, they shaped it into what they wanted it to be. They were probably like me in the way you ask yourself a million questions along the way. Is it scary enough to be classified as horror? If it’s romantic, does it provoke the feelings spawned by love? Is it mysterious enough to be a mystery? What am I really trying to say, and have I said it properly?  When they considered it worthy of being published, they, like me, had to design a cover and develop a plan for its distribution. I know how happy and proud they felt when they first held it in their hands, as I always savor that moment when my idea enters the world as a completed project. Having people enjoy it as they read brings me a pleasure nothing else on earth can. I wondered how many had curled up with this book during its journey to this moment. 

Part of me wanted to pick the book up and thumb through its pages. Another part of me felt that this still life portrait had given me what I was searching for and wanted to leave it untouched. Before I could decide, I heard footsteps on the path through the woods. Moments later, a beautiful young woman emerged from the trees and ran towards me and my silent companions. Her eyes expressed anxiety as she neared me, somewhat out of breath. When she stopped, her delight at seeing the book on the bench was obvious, and I was glad I’d left it alone. When she joyously clutched it to her breast, it verified my belief that some people consider books valuable and would be saddened by their loss. That reading a book forges a relationship between the author and the reader. Her concern for the friend she’d inadvertently left behind inspired me to keep writing stories and sending them into the world, in the hope someone like her will sit by a fire on a rainy day and consider them a worthy companion.