I’ve been hankerin’ to take up Teresa’s challenge ever since I saw it last week, but y’all know how it is. Busy, busy, TORNADO, busy… Turns out the delay was fortuitous, though, ’cause not only has my story idea had time to percolate & resonate with my particular page & line, but now in a rare but happy instance of cosmic alignment, the prompt words for the last 2 days from 4 different Blogger Challenges lend themselves perfectly to my story. I’m re-reading Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale right now, so my page 182, line 16 yields “But something had shifted, some balance.” Thank you, Teresa, for this wonderfully inspiring challenge!
A couple years ago, I began a series of interrelated tales I call my Copperhead County stories. This particular short-short is a momentary chapter in the life of Colt Jackson, my favorite character in the series, so contains links to a few other related tales. If you’re a linear reader, it may be helpful to read them first, but it’s not necessary to do so; I don’t think “A Seismic Shift” loses anything if you haven’t read its predecessors. If Colt or Copperhead County captivates you, and you wish to read more, you can get to all of them by clicking my “Categories” sidebar to the right and selecting “Short Stories>Copperhead County”.
Regardless of how few or many of the stories you read, please do take a few minutes and let me know what you think about this little episode. And what are your thoughts/feelings about serendipity?
A Seismic Shift
Colt was in an agonizing predicament. He slumped on his living room futon in a nest of tangled blankets and throw pillows, gnawing his right thumbnail and staring at his blank television screen. His tumultuous thoughts swirled around the starving, filthy, quite probably insane old man currently borrowing his bed. Constant Champion had been the preacher at American Zion 1st Free Will Baptist Church for the entirety of Colt’s childhood, but he had hardly thought of the man, who had seemed old even then, since he’d turned 18 and quit going to church.
* * * * *
In college, Colt had become focused on finding some kind of meaning to life, his own and life in general. He took many courses on the major world religions, religious history, and theology and combined those with intensive bible study as well as dalliances in a campus Wiccan coven and a local commune whose members practiced a mélange of Eastern traditions. He had come, if not to trust religion, at least to tolerate it in its infinite forms, permutations, and sects. Three years ago, following a decades-long legendary battle with his conscience, during which he never stopped studying or searching for answers, he had been granted the gift of enlightenment, relinquishing all belief in and ties to superstition.
Until last night. Champion had disrupted Colt’s camping trip with his friends Bash and Lantz, walking through flames and ranting about the end times coming and the need to separate church from state. Once the old man’s passion had been spent, he collapsed unconscious on the leaf-strewn ground, and Colt had convinced his buddies to drive them back to his trailer, so he could clean him up and maybe take him to the hospital in the morning. Colt had dismissed Champion’s ravings as those of an unhinged lunatic driven mad by a lifetime of trying to reconcile the demands of his religion with the bitter realities of life.
* * * * *
But something had shifted, some balance. Colt had not slept at all, plagued by a primal pull back toward belief, superstition, belonging. Movement. Action. He had been still for so long. “Shit!” he hollered, when he finally gnawed through his nail and into the meat of his thumb, drawing blood. Champion’s abbreviated sermon had been a call to action, yes, but must he act now? If so, how? Colt stood stiffly, strode to his kitchen sink, and filled a glass with water. Steadying himself with his left hand on the rim of the counter, he lifted the glass to eye level in front of the window, staring with unfocused eyes through it at the rising sun.
–Via Fandango’s One-Word Challenge for 3/8/20, “predicament” & 3/9/20, “combine”
–Via Ragtag Daily Prompt for 3/8/20, “tolerate” & 3/9/20, “trust”
–Via Word of the Day Challenge for 3/8/20, “nest” & 3/9/20, “gift”
–Via Your Daily Word Prompt for 3/8/20, “legendary” & 3/9/20, “battle”
Thank you ever so much to all you dedicated Bloggers who work diligently to provide us with daily inspiration by way of your Blogger challenges & writing prompts!
Take care, be well, and happy reading!