A New Dawn, Part 1 by Teresa
The snow pelted Jon in the face as he stumbled toward the trees. He looked back at the city lights and brushed his long, wet hair out of his eyes. The lights that once held such wonder and mystique now held only despair and heartache. He remembered the warm spring day he first pulled into the city and saw her on the corner waiting for a bus. Lacey would soon be his girlfriend, then fiancé with a little boy on the way. That seemed so long ago. A time when his life was perfect.
He turned back to the trees and allowed the dark to engulf him. Tripping and running into low-hanging branches reminded him he was still alive – for now. Blinded by the snow, tears, and rage, Jon pushed further into the blackness of despair.
Suddenly the ground gave way and he tumbled into a grove surrounded by dead trees. Blood poured over the side of his face and no matter how much he tried, he did not have the strength to fight to live. He only prayed, as he closed his eyes, that they would be waiting for him.
Robins and other songbirds stirred him. Warm rays from the rising sun warmed him, and as his eyes batted and tried to make out what had happened, a sweet voice laughed.
The voice laughed again as Jon rubbed his eyes and sat up.
“No silly,” the voice said. “It’s …”
“It’s Matilda and I am your guide.”
Jon could not see the source for the voice. It seemed to be coming from all around him. “My guide? Show yourself, guide. What is this place and why must I have a guide?” he asked.
The guide laughed again. “Oh Jon, everyone who comes here needs a guide. You’d be lost without one. You wouldn’t know what to do next. Besides Jon, you did pray for me. Don’t you remember?”
The last thing Jon remembered was falling down, tumbling into a glade, and feeling battered, bloody, weak, and hopeless. He touched his head, but there was no blood. He looked at his clothing only to discover, much to his dismay, that he was draped in a white silk robe and had leather sandals on his feet. “I don’t understand,” Jon said. “Where exactly am I and why am I dressed this way?”
“All in due time, Jon,” Matilda said in a smooth, calming voice.
“I demand that you show yourself,” Jon said. “Show yourself and tell me what this place is.”
“I am not like a child who should be seen and not heard,” Matilda said. “Quite the opposite, in fact. As to where you are, Jon, a smart man like you should have figured that out by now.”
“Am I dead?” Jon asked. “Am I in Hell?”
“You’re not in Hell,” Matilda said. “And neither are you in Heaven, Jon. You’re in …”
“You’re in the place between.”
“Between where?” Jon’s voice started to show the fear that he had been trying to keep concealed.
“Why, between everywhere, of course. I’ll help you navigate your way. Trust me. Every step you take will make you relive every important decision that you ever made and you will see how it affected everything. Step forward now.”
Jon took a step into the bright sunlight. There was nothing beneath his feet, no ground to hold him up, but he trusted the voice and remained hopeful. Then his foot seemed to land on something soft and solid.
A blinding light flashed and he looked out through the eyes of his own childhood. He remembered standing there, looking through the bannisters looking down at his father in a drunken rage. His father’s arm pounding into a pile of cotton clothes that lay at the foot of the stairs. Should he stay hidden, or rush to stop his father. Try to bring him to his senses. The white clothes had begun to turn red.
Violence was in his blood. He’d remained hidden. Later he would be sent to a foster home and his father drank himself to death.
He didn’t want to remember any more. The memories had led him into his own drink problem.
The soft, calm voice came again.
“It’s Okay Jon. It’s over now. Step forward, there is no going back now you can only go forward.”
He took another step forward and this time ……
End of Part Three.
Part 4 Written by Sadje
He was standing in the playground of his high school. He saw his friends and classmates playing in the basketball court. It struck him what day it was! The day he had that big dustup with his team mates over the passing of the ball. He was loosing his grip over his temper more often than ever.
He closed his eyes in an attempt to avoid seeing the scene he was creating, shouting and berating his teammates. Pleadingly, he turned to Matilda, ” can we not do this, please . I know I have hurt many people by my anger issues. Can I atone for my past”
Matilda seemed to be pondering on his request. ” What do you want then?” She asked Jon. ” Are you giving me a choice?” There was hope in Jon’s question.
“I can offer you a way to undo the hurt you have caused people in your life, but to do that you will have to ……
Part 5 written by Tao-Talk
…commit five years of your life to serving the Goddess Verdita on the Isle of Fermentia. Your life will not be your own, and you must serve the full five years. It is there that you will find atonement and freedom from your past. If you meet the challenges to the satisfaction of the Goddess and the Other Holy Ones from the Mountain, you may even have a chance at being reunited with Lacey and your son.”
Jon’s mind was spinning. He had always prayed to the Gods before in a sort of theoretical way, but to know they actually existed and that he would be serving one on the Isle of Fermentia! And greater yet, the chance of being reunited with his beloved and their son! He couldn’t understand how that could happen, as his loved ones had passed into the Underworld, and once there, they could never return. Was he being tricked, or were the Gods powerful enough to bring love back to him and give him his own life back?
“Matilda, I’ll do whatever it takes if there is a chance I can right my wrongs and see their faces again. When do we leave?”
I tag Paula at Light Motifs II to continue or finish the tale…
Part 6, Written by Paula Light
Jon cleaned the sticky tables at the Kombucha Café in preparation for yet another day of demanding customers. It had been over four years since he’d agreed to come to Fermentia and work for Verdita, performing all sorts of physical and mental challenges, each one more demanding than the last. You would think that working in a café serving a bunch of spoiled brat kids of the gods and their friends would be a piece of cake after swimming blindfolded across Croc River and solving the dodecahedron puzzles.
You would be wrong.
“Jon!” The baker yelled at him from the kitchen. “I need more purple peppermint for my muffin toppings. Go grab some from the garden.”
After Jon returned from the garden, wiped down the counter, set up the display with today’s specials, and called the AC guy again, three customers were already lounging at the front.
“May I help you?”
The blonde smirked. “Nice haircut, Jon boy.”
Jon smiled pleasantly. Verdita required him to keep his hair very short while working in her café. This was unflattering to him and made his ears stick out. “Thank you, Luridia. What can I get for you today?”
“The yooge.” She shrugged.
“Hey dumbo!” Saturn called from a table–he was one of Verdita’s zillions of nephews. “What’s the WiFi password again?”
Jon felt his face redden, but he kept his cool. His behavior and reactions were one hundred percent under control now. “It’s ihaveatinypenis all one word.”
The three customers cracked up. “What?” Luridia said. “I didn’t hear you.”
Her redheaded friend Beryl began giggling so hard she cried. “I’m crying!” she said. “What’s the password? Why is it so hot in here?”
As Jon handed Luridia her drink, she deliberately knocked it over. “Oopsy,” she said. “Clumsy dumbo. They’ll take that out of your pay.”
Pay? Jon smiled to himself. Little did they know. He cheerfully cleaned up the mess and began making a new drink. He was quite aware that he was still being tested for any last wisps of anger or other flaws, but he had steel at his core now. Nothing could interfere with his one goal of being with Lacey and their son.
Jon served more rude customers who mocked his hair and the WiFi password until mid-afternoon when the door burst open and Goddess Verdita herself strolled in.
“My Goddess!” Jon bowed his head. “It has been so long. How may I serve you?”
“Dear boy.” Verdita clasped his hands in hers. “You have learned your lessons well. And I have a surprise for you!”
The door banged open and in strode Walt, the HVAC repairman.
“Hey,” Walt said. “Sorry I’m so late, but there was a big accident on Croc River with a ferryboat. Ugly mess. Let me tell you, those crocs are–“
“Yikes,” Jon interrupted. “That sounds terrible, but I’m glad you made it. Would you please check our AC? It’s not working at all.”
As Walt went into the back, Verdita beamed at Jon. “Nicely handled. As I was saying…”
The door opened again, and this time Matilda walked in, accompanied by Lacey and their son.
Jon stared at them, unable to speak, his heart filled with joy.
“Hi Jon,” Lacey said, her eyes shining. “Can I get a locally sourced green tea with vanilla soy milk for me and an organic apple cider with a cinnamon stick for Keto?”
Jon grinned. “Anything you want, my love. Anything!”
1. Copy the story as he or she receives it.
2. Add to the story in some fashion.
3. Tag yet another person to contribute to or finish the story.
4. Please use FTS as a tag so Teresa can find it or link back to part 1.
5. Have Fun!
FTS 2019 #1
#FTS 2019 #1