26 November, 2022

Fiction Friday - The Prophet

I read the Bible every year, and catch myself thinking about backstories to minor characters, or musing about particularities of a situation. I recently read about one of Isaiah's prophecies that struck a funny chord with me. I hope you like this story that was inspired by it.

Abigail walked her cousin up the lane into her house. "I'm so glad you came, Cerina. Judea must seem provincial after your move to Damascus. You'll have to tell me all about it."

"Nonsense," Cerina said. "I can see that a lot has changed here since I left. Like what do you do for entertainment these days?"

Abigail shook her head. "Not much lately, with the kids' school and - oh, you know, in this depressed economy - I've actually started working." Seeing her wealthier cousin's eyebrows go up she back pedaled. "Oh, nothing major, just a little sewing work when I have time. Every little bit helps. It can go on like this forever." There were entertainments for the wealthy, of course. She hoped Cerina wouldn't expect her to pay for something like that. 

An idea came to her. "Oh! While you're here we should go see the prophet!"

"Prophet? Like a seer?" Cerina had been to seers and mediums in Damascus. She never would have thought Abigail would open her mind to that.

"Well, sort of. Only..." Abigail hesitated. If she said he was a prophet of the Most High God, Cerina might think she was backward or old-fashioned. "You'll just have to see. Let's go today!"

As they were walking out toward Isaiah's usual hill, she said, "I hope he has good things to say today. He's always right."

There was only a small crowd when they arrived. "Oh good," Abigail said, "We can get nice and close." As they moved nearer, she noticed the crowd was in flux. People were coming and going, only lingering for a few minutes, not like his usual speeches.

Up at the front, Isaiah's son Shear-Jashub approached them and explained. "My father has been commanded by God to demonstrate symbolically what the Lord plans for Israel's enemies among other nations." He continued talking but the women were too stunned to hear him. Abigail blushed in embarrassment at the naked prophet sitting in the dust before them. Cerina's look of shock turned to amusement. "Great Prophet, indeed!" she smirked. 

Abigail caught Shear-Jashub's arm before he moved on to a group of newcomers. "Won't he say anything? Please. My cousin has come so far."

He looked at the two women, Cerina openly staring at Isaiah. He looked at Isaiah, then responded, "He may. It's not a vow of silence. He's not spoken much these months, but you may wait if you like."

Months? Seeing her cousin agape at what, to her, must look like a dirty pauper, Abigail grabbed her arm and tugged her away. "Let's visit the marketplace instead." 


A year later, Cerina returned to visit Abigail. "Is that Great Prophet still around?" she teased.

"Oh, that was such a failure!" Abigail could laugh about it now. "Of course he's still our local prophet, but I haven't tried to go back since that day."

"No? I'd've gone back every day. We must!"

"We must?" She didn't love revisiting the past.

"Of course!" Cerina looped her arm through her cousin's. "I believe you, you know. That he knows things." She began moving them to the front door. "And that young man explained it was just a kind of visual demonstration, whatever it was supposed to mean." Cerina was content to let greater minds decipher such mysteries. It had been an amusing day back then, but she wanted her cousin to have her chance to show off.

"Oh, okay," Abigail turned to pull the door shut behind them, thinking surely by now he'd be normal again.

The women bought some raisin cakes off a street-side vendor as they walked through town, chatting, laughing, nibbling their treat.

Almost no one was around when they arrived. Abigail felt a knot grow in her stomach. Isaiah's son approached them with no sign of recognition and walked the last hundred feet with them. He recited the same spiel about a visual demonstration.

"No! No!' Abigail hurried ahead. She began shouting at Isaiah, still naked, only much dirtier. "What kind of prophet are you? You're out of your mind! What is the point of this? Tell us something!"

Cerina pulled Abigail away with Shear-Jashub's help and he explained further. "Isaiah has been speaking the Lord's prophecies of warning, but many do not hear. They close their ears. Now he must show them. They will close their eyes. The prophecies will happen as the Lord has said. Let those who see and hear understand." He ushered them off the small hill with a blessing.

That evening, Abigail was quiet through the family dinner. Cerina quietly explained to Abigail's husband what happened. He turned to his wife and reminded her, "Isaiah is a great prophet. Remember the things he has said that have already come true in just the last few years? We cannot always understand these things."

A year later, when the Egyptian captives were led away naked, Abigail remembered Isaiah. She went to his usual hill and there he was, dressed as normal and prophesying that a virgin would give birth. "That'll be the day," she muttered as she left. "Then again..."

Reference: This story is based on a brief mention in the book of  Isaiah, chapter 20, verse 3. The culmination of Isaiah's "3-years of nudity" prophecy is told in  verses 4-6. I love this because Isaiah was a prolific Major Prophet. If you've heard Handel's Messiah, a lot of that comes from the book of Isaiah. As I read this tiny selection recently, I thought of Monty Python's "Life of Brian" and their portrayal of prophets. We have Isaiah's words, but what did the common people think of him?

23 November, 2022

Tuesday Time Management

I read an article recently about preventing dementia and alzheimers. (The article popped up in the automatic news feed on my new phone, and it's gone now, so I can't cite the source, sorry.) It's the same stuff I've read before: basically, be healthy. (duh) But one pointer hit me differently.

I knew that doing puzzles - doing things that exercise your brain - is a good way to help prevent these types of diseases, but this article specifically stated that doing puzzles isn't what helps: learning new things is what helps. 

When your brain is learning something, new connections are made. When the brain is active, it prevents stagnancy (my word - again, I can't find the article anymore). 

Well, I'm studying languages, so that counts. I'll tick that box off the list.

That got me thinking, if it's about connecting things in the brain in a different way to keep it active, what about "learning" that's not traditional learning? Not studying a new skill, but just doing things differently? 

I am a creature of habit. Especially in the morning I have several tasks to be done, in a specific order, before I can decide what's my first thing to do that day - sit at my laptop, go to the market, have coffee out at a cafe? Routine, according to the article, also allows the brain to get lazy. We don't want a lazy brain!

So for the last few days I'm doing things differently. I've gotten up and dived into writing before anything else. I've watched comedy shorts on YouTube instead of meditating first thing. I'm being more social (gasp!). I think I even joined a book club! (I went, once, and they are just starting a new book that I can read if I want to join the discussion at the next meeting. So I guess that means I've joined. It's not like there's a sign-up.)

I'm exhausted. But I think it's a good thing. 

What do you think? I wish I could link up the article, even though most of it was stuff we've probably all read before, but do you think "learning" could be taken as "learning to do the same things in a different way"? It surely can't hurt.

11 November, 2022

Fiction Friday - Going Home

Jaden moved her car down the long gravel drive, feeling her foot lighten on the gas pedal as the house drew near. The lighter her pressure on the pedal, the tighter the knot in her stomach grew. The house now loomed huge in her windshield. It cast an ominous shadow over the lawns around it. 

Maybe she should have visited her parents sooner, or helped them when they moved here to Great Aunt Marla’s old house.

The car stopped, but Jaden didn’t move. She sat. Chewing her lip. Staring at the big green Victorian structure. Dormer windows, shades half-way down, stared back at her. The minutes lengthened. Who would flinch first? 

“What?” The thought broke Jaden out of her trance. “Ridiculous.” 

Still, what would she find inside? Were her parents okay? That weird phone call had thrown Jaden for a loop, no doubt about it. So here she was. Better get this over with. The sooner she saw her parents and verified all was well, the sooner she could meet Joaquin in New Orleans. The thought lightened her heart. A smile brightened her face and a happy sigh escaped. 

She laughed at herself. If Joaquin could see her now! She shook her head and pushed open the car door, sitting there for another minute. Joaquin. Well, she’ll have stories for him later. 

She breathed deep, not yet committing to closing the car door. Pine and humus assaulted her senses as if the house was exhaling it in her direction. All was quiet. “Hmm…,” she thought. “That’s odd.” Back home, her parents would at least come to the porch when a car approached. 

But this wasn’t her home. She didn't know this house. Maybe the house buried sound. Maybe they honestly hadn’t heard her car. Maybe they were both in the back, far away from the noise of tires crunching on the gravel drive. She slammed the car door loud, hoping to draw some attention as she walked up to the house. 


As she climbed the steps to the broad front porch, she considered calling out. No. The house was quiet. They may not be home. Her hand raised to knock on the door. What, and who, would be inside?


Every Almost every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. Today's fiction was "flash" when I wrote it in my writing group a month ago. It is now a part of my current NaNoWriMo project. Does it make you want to know more about the story?

If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.

09 November, 2022

Tuesday Trials - Wednesday Edition

"Insomnia Energy"

That's my new phrase that I just coined yesterday.

Have you ever had insomnia so bad for days and days, and each morning you tell yourself, "It's fine - I'll take a nap later," but then later comes and you just... Don't?

Insomnia Energy.

You go through your day as usual, not dragging, maybe even amped up. Then at night it happens again and the next morning you think, "Well, maybe I'll nap today," but you still just ... Don't?

Insomnia Energy.

For over a week now I've been running on 3-5 hours of sleep a night, and occasionally on those days I might doze for a half-hour or so while reading a book in the afternoon. I feel tired in the evening, but then don't sleep properly. (No stress, just an old injury from a car accident flaring up.)

Meanwhile, I'm getting over 2,000 words every day for Nanowrimo. I go walking or riding to the store or a coffee shop as usual. Keep the house clean. Life is just ... normal! Like the sleep deprivation isn't even happening at all!

I wonder how long this will last...

01 November, 2022

Tuesday Truth - Nanowrimo

Today's truth is that it's the first day of November, aka the first day of National Novel Writing Month. This month I will be writing a total of 50,000 words of a new novel.

That may mean even less posting here. We shall see.

For today, I got 2,055 words! In a 30 day month, 50k would mean about 1,667 each day, but I have set my personal goal at 2,000. I did this because I know there will be days that the words just aren't coming. Days of writers block, or days when my schedule explodes around me and barely have time to write a sentence. If I'm pushing for at least 2k, then when I'm a little below that it will be okay.

So I'm off and running on a new book for this month. And I'll be around here when I can.

Are you doing Nanowrimo? Have you done it before? How do you hope to achieve your goal?