dord (dôrd), n. density of mind; chiefly exhibited by one who attempts to demonstrate supposed knowledge --adj. dord'ish

1.22.2008

What Does It Mean to Have Lost a Generation?

I stretched out my arms and leaned back against the bench. The sun shone down on the park behind me, while a gentle wind rustled the leaves of nearby trees–a perfect mixture of warm sunshine and crisp autumn air.

It was a peculiar location for a park bench. The park was large, but this particular bench was placed in the far corner, under a lone tree, facing not the park, but the intersection beyond. Along the street to my right sat a row of sturdy little houses. They all had the look of having been built within a few years of each other, some number of decades ago. Perpendicular to this, a few small shops marked the path downtown. All of this, however, made the bench a favorite place of mine to sit and think.

The sound of laughter caught my attention, and I turned my head. Three young boys, no more than four years old, wrestled over a ball in the grass. Their mother and sister sat on a blanket nearby, enjoying tea together, seemingly oblivious to the raucous mood surrounding them. (The mother, however, was certain to glance in the boys’ direction every minute or two.)

I thought I recognized the woman. She seemed to frequent the park with her children, although I did not remember her having four. A passing thought suggested that perhaps two of the boys were friends.

Not far away from this family, a boy stood holding a string. His younger sister ran about in the distance, chasing the tail of the kite attached to its end.

A car door opened in the adjacent parking, and I noticed the newspaper stand. A team of doctors had discovered... I could not decipher the rest of the headline.

Directly across the street, a car pulled into the driveway. Within seconds, a young girl was dashing across the lawn towards the woman who stood in the doorway. With a cry of “Grandma!”she was in the woman’s arms. A moment later, the grandfather appeared in the doorway. Pausing only to rustle the girl’s curly hair and whisper a word into her ear, he proceeded toward the driveway to help his daughter carry the luggage indoors. He glanced across the street, and caught my stare. I had not realized that the woman who lived in that house had a husband, or any family at all.

The wind blew stronger now. I heard a cry behind me. The string in the boy’s hand had snapped; his wayward kite spiraled into the distance. As the gust gained strength, I clutched the bench, then laughed at myself. Winds grab kites, not people. Shivering, I made up my mind to return home...

The chilling gust of wind jerked me awake. I sat up, startled—I had not intended to fall asleep. But as suddenly as the wind had risen, it was gone. The sun had disappeared, and with it the car, the woman, and her daughter and parents. The house reverted to the austere facade that I had previously remembered. The front door opened, and the woman came out, hurriedly shuffling over to find something of value from her car in the driveway.

I turned my head to see if the picnickers remained. A mother—the mother—looked on as her four-year-old son and daughter played in the grass. Her faint smile faded as she watched her son attempting to convince his sister to play ball.

I glanced in the direction of the boy who had flown the kite, but saw no kite, and no girl. Not far from where the boy had held the kite string was a young athlete, trudging across the park in his football pads, helmet in hand. Whether it was the same boy I could not tell.

My eyes darted now toward the newspaper stand to check the headline: jobs would not be leaving the area, though many people had feared otherwise.

The woman across the street closed her car door as a familiar (or so I thought) older man jogged down the street. She appeared startled for but a moment, then quickly recovered. He passed by, careful to act the part of a stranger. The woman returned to the house, and closed the door behind her.

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10 Comments:

Blogger Laedelas Greenleaf said...

Was that writing yours? It was excellent. The title (unlike most of what I read) actually means something for the story!

You know about the relationship seminar at my church at the end of February, right? (Are you coming?) I was talking to the pastor organizing it, and made a joke about praying that more weddings would be occurring in our church. "I'm praying for the next generation!" He responded. Sure, he wants to see the singles get married, but he has a vision that those marriages would be fruitful and raise another generation to glorify God and enjoy him wholly. Cool, huh?

1/23/2008 10:06 PM

 
Blogger Jason said...

The writing is mine. I assume you weren't thinking I'd plagiarize, but rather didn't know that I ever write stories. :-) My favorite genre, as a writer, is the short story, although I've written very few. Anyhow, thanks for the encouraging comments.

Regarding the seminar: hopefully, although I don't know yet. It looks like I'll have that Friday off of work, so that helps. Attendance is being strongly encouraged, and we'd all love an extra reason to visit the PCOPers. By the way -- "the pastor organizing it"? Mike?

1/24/2008 10:50 PM

 
Blogger Laedelas Greenleaf said...

My question was rhetorical, but thanks for answering it. I'd never read any of your short stories, which is why I asked. You should post more!

"That guy" is Jeremy Hetrick, a cool guy and the new assistant pastor at Providence.

1/25/2008 12:38 AM

 
Anonymous Monica said...

Jason, thanks so much for writing this story. I really like that the story provokes its readers to think. And in my case, when I first read it, I was like, "Oh . . . I get it." Then, the more I thought about the individual characters in the story, I thought, "Wow." I was impacted just as much by what you did not say as what you did say.

Also, the timing of this story couldn't have been better as our nation has reached yet another anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

I hope that this story spreads and that the Lord gives you more ideas for future short stories.

1/26/2008 1:23 PM

 
Blogger Jason said...

A comment from a family member! I've noticed that that doesn't usually happen (not just for me, but for bloggers in general). Thanks, Monica.

Posting more short stories. . . we shall see.

1/26/2008 6:05 PM

 
Anonymous stephen said...

Great story! I am still trying to pin-point the place where you sat. Is the writing purely fictional, or are you relating a more or less real-life experience?

Sorry, but I am a bit dense at times. I can't exactly connect the title to the story. Catching a clue from Monica's comment, is it the lack of vibrant life and family connection that is the unspoken focal point?

Through studying for the American Literature CLEP exam I recently took, I have been thinking about trying to write short stories. Whether or not that happens, it would be great if you posted more of your own short stories here (I'm thinking of your 'Inn Story' you wrote a few years back).

Josiah and I hope to get some newer stuff posted on our blog soon--- no time frame or promises.

1/27/2008 5:19 PM

 
Blogger Jason said...

Is the writing purely fictional? Inasmuch as this is a story I wrote and not the account of an afternoon that I actually lived, yes. I would prefer to call the story imaginative, though.

As far as the unspoken focal point, what you mentioned would be one of the evidences of the point instead of the focal point itself, if that makes any sense. Has anyone else in your family read it? Maybe they might share some insights.

That the story left you with a vague impression might be a poor reflection on the writing and/or titling (the story is not likely to be fully understood apart from the title), but that you liked it nonetheless is, I suppose, still good.

Ah, yes. "The Inn."

2/01/2008 10:40 PM

 
Blogger Towropes said...

You should post more stories. This one is thought-provoking, but with purpose. It'll definitely roll around in my mind a little bit.

2/03/2008 3:37 PM

 
Anonymous stephen said...

Oh, oh, I think I got it now. Yes, I was so close, but I was too rushed at the time. Oh, your point is painfully, grimfully true; it hurts, but I know that it is a friend that wounds me. The poetry of the story caught my attention, even if the content evaded my glance.
I'll have some others in my family read your story.

Yes your story is imaginative, not fictional; I like that better. I should have been more careful, for it is I that in times passed waxed eloquent on Tolkien's instance that his writings were analogy and not allegory; I could never remember the term 'analogy' back then, perhaps that will spark your rememberance.

2/07/2008 9:05 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sonic, may I leave my feedback in a short style?

Wonderfully
Ontological
Actually
Heavy

3/27/2008 11:44 PM

 

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