The Dumbbells

I’ve been trying to figure out how to keep this short story in present tense (somewhat, at least), while being able to move through time rather quickly in parts. This is all new to me, so don’t judge. Anyway, I came up with what I thought was the perfect plan for this one – which is kind of in a diary format. Kind of.

Anyway, I’m going to keep the older portions running below so I can see how the story moves backwards. In time that might need to change. This one might have basic illustrations (like below) due to time restraints and my desire to rebel. Ha!

Also, I’m still using the Daily Spur’s word prompts, and today’s word is incident.

I’m super excited about this one and I hope you enjoy it!

June 14, 1974

It’s been three years since dad died, and mom said it was time to go through his things in the garage. I knew she meant “me,” because she doesn’t like to go in there. It makes her too sad. “That’s where the incident happened,” she always says. She calls it that because she doesn’t want to talk about how he died. Not to anyone. 

I had a pretty good donation pile going when I came across his old dumbbells. They were in bad shape, but nothing that a good scrub wouldn’t fix. The weights were another story. One of them was so heavy that I had to drag it across the floor. That’s when the garage started to smell like orange and vanilla, and I felt his shadow over me again.

“Let me help you with that son.” 

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“I told you I’d see you tomorrow,” the old man laughed, “and I always keep my word.”

He helped me get the weights into the corner, and the boxes into my wagon, and we headed down 3rd Street toward the church’s donation center. 

“Mom said I can use part of the garage,” I told him. “I’m going to set up a pad, and maybe get one of those old benches, and I’m going to start lifting those weights.”

“That’ll do just fine,” he said with a smile.

June 13, 1974

The old man showed up just after Billy Clyde knocked me out. School let out early and it was too hot to take the bus. Burt, the driver, always sweats real bad, and on days like this he would stink to high heaven.

I was outside of Cassiel Park when I saw Billy catching up to me, so I made a beeline for the gate. I figured I could lose him by the horseshoe pit. There’s a small hole in the chain link fence, behind the bushes, and nobody else knows about it. Even if they did, most kids are too big to fit. If Billy followed me there, I could squeeze through and leave him in the dust.

My plan didn’t work though. Billy disappeared after I crossed the playground and I didn’t see him again until I was at the bridge. I don’t know how he got ahead of me, but he was right there, just waiting for me. There was no way for me to get past him, and I didn’t want to look stupid, so I put my head down and raced toward him just as fast as I could. Then everything went black.

Billy was gone when I woke up. My ears were ringing and my face was covered in dirt. The sun was so bright that I had to squint just to see. I closed them again, and started picking the grass burrs out of my hair when I felt his shadow over me, and the smell of orange and vanilla filled the air.

His voice was loud and deep. “Let me help you up son.”

All I could really see when I looked up was his big white beard. I made my way up his wrinkled face, and then his bright blue eyes came into focus. He had an old red fishing hat on with its strap hanging down past his shoulders. He helped me up and walked me to the gate just to make sure I got on my way, and then he waved and said the darndest thing.

“I’ll see you tomorrow.”


A New Angle

If our pain doesn’t destroy us, it might just transform us into truly human beings at last.

Frederick Buechner

I’m not very good at finishing books. I’d say that I’m halfway through 4 or 5 at the moment; maybe more. One in particular, A Crazy, Holy Grace: The Healing Power of Pain and Memory, by Frederick Buechner, has been on my mind quite a bit this past week.

In the part I’ve been thinking about, Buechner writes about what we do with the hand we’re dealt in life. He shares his ideas about sloth as “not really making use of what happens to you,” and “burying what you might have made something out of.” In other words, do you slip what you’ve been though under the rug, and carry on as if nothing ever happened to you? Or do you take that experience and make something meaningful out of it?

First of all, I always thought that sloth was just sheer laziness; lounging around and enjoying leisure time (kind of like the sloth pictured here).

Image by Christina Wendlandt from Pixabay

It was comforting to see sloth the way that Buechner does, especially now that I REALLY have time to lounge around (kind of like that sloth pictured there). And aren’t we all trying to make the most of what we’ve been dealt right now—even if that means accepting the simple fact that we have some extra leisure time right now?

I know this is a strange story, and you probably wonder what the point of it is anyway… but what I’m getting at is that the story made me thankful for WRITERS; People like Buechner that spill it all out on the page and let the rest of us try to make sense of it all.

Novelists, journalists, bloggers, poets (to name a few)… we’re all doing it. Scribbling down our thoughts and sending them out into the world. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable; trying to make a difference; using our experiences to encourage others; sharing the talents we’ve been given; even adding some whimsy and lighthearted humor to help cheer others up. That’s what it’s all about!

So yes… yes indeed. Today I am thankful for writers.

God bless you everyone… Thank you for reading, and Write on!


This is the first in my newest series during the social distancing rule here in the States: A Daily Gratitude.