Time Enough

While you’re waiting for The Whisper of God, a little something I wrote on a whim. I hope you enjoy it.

Time Enough

by

Jon Goff

(c) 2017

Image result for baseball png“Time. It’s the one thing we all wish we had more of. Time for work, for family. Time to dream dreams and make them reality. Time to simply be. Each life is given a finite number of moments that, once spent, are gone forever. A missed baseball game where your son plays a perfect inning before that accident on the bus ride home. Oh, I’d told myself I’d go next time, but there wasn’t a next time. Some moments are more precious than others, only we never know the value of a moment until it has passed.

“You asked me what I want? Time. Not gold, not fame, just… time. One single moment of it. That’s my wish, if I had one.”

Doctor Jinn set down his pen and pinched his nose, squinting at me over forefinger and thumb. “And you’d have that moment, your son’s game, more than anything else?”

“What else matters?” I asked.

“He would have died eventually. Everyone dies.”

I shrugged. “I know it’s a cliché, doctor, but parents aren’t supposed to outlive their children.”

“According to whom? Every day, somewhere, a child dies and a parent mourns. For most of history parents saw their children die, in infancy, later of disease. A hundred years ago, out of seven children, three might make it to adult hood. The truth is, until recently, parents outlived most of their children. In some parts of the world that’s still true.”

“Not here.”

He shook his head. “No, not here.” He glanced at his watch. I watched him, saw the almost imperceptible twitch in his eye, the faux but necessary grimace of discomfort. “I’m sorry, Steven, but our time is up and I have another patient.”

I nodded and stood up to go, but when I got to the door I stopped. “Doctor Jinn,” I said, turning back to him. “If you could wish for anything, what would it be?”

He smiled. “Next week Steven. Think about my question in the meantime.”

Of course I did as he asked. It was hard not to. “What is your heart’s desire?” It’s an odd question to ask a man whose lost his only child. One drunk driver in a pickup. You wouldn’t have thought a single truck could do so much damage to a school bus, or the boys in it… my boy. I cried silently in the back of the taxi cab as it took me home.

***

Alice shook me awake, gently. Her breath was sweet, and the warm suppleness of her body against mine should have roused me to more than wakefulness, but it didn’t. I moaned, covered my eyes with my arm and husked out a rough, “go away.” She kissed me, hands slid over my skin. My body responded and I immediately resented her and it for betraying me. Jack had been dead less than a year.

Alice had always been the one to start our romances, she had asked me out in college, she’d been the one to propose. Shed’ been the one to bring me to heights of ecstasy and joy, and she’d brought me Jack. I knew it wasn’t fair. I wanted nothing more than to lose myself in her embrace, to take her kisses and her love and find bliss, but I didn’t deserve such moments, so I denied them. I pulled away, turning my shoulder to her. She understood and relented, and I could feel her hurt as if were my own. “I’m sorry, Alice. I’m just not ready.” I said it in my head. I should have said it aloud. After long, painful minutes of silence she got up and went into the bathroom. I heard the shower. I went downstairs to make us breakfast.

That was our routine, and had been for months. Alice would wake first, then wake me. She’d try to breathe life into our marriage with a kiss, a stroke of her hand, a whispered, “I love you.” And mine was to tell her I wasn’t ready yet, I was still mourning. And Alice, brave Alice simply nodded and said, “when you’re ready.” And then we fell into the routine of breakfast, going to work, coming home, doing dishes, all the things of normal life, but without any of the value of it. I didn’t deserve her.

I went every week to Doctor Jinn, and every week for six months he’d asked the same questions, and one question in particular. “What is your heart’s desire?”

And for six months I gave him the same answer. “I wish I’d gone to Jack’s game.”

So I thought about his question. It was the same question he asked every week, except this time he’d phrased it differently. Not, “what do you want,” but “what is your wish?”

I’d answered that question so many times, same question, same answer. I suppose Dr. Jinn wanted me to realize I was living in the past and needed to move on, but I don’t know how to do that. I just want to see my boy again, I want to have gone to his game.

***

“You asked what I wished for, Dr. Jinn” I said walking into his office a week later.

He sat behind his desk reading a book. His office was a weird assortment of object de auteur. He had the usual accoutrements one would expect in a therapist’s office. A heavy oak desk, comfortable chairs, even the requisite therapist’s couch. His desk was neat and tidy, and a small book shelf graced the wall behind him, filled with books and brick a brack. A small, cheap facsimile of Rodin’s Thinker. A globe, worn and yellowed with age, a tarnished brass lamp in need of polishing. It was a comfortable space, with an ancient Persian rug on the floor where the two chairs and a solid, respectable coffee table were camped.

“Steven, you’re early.”

“I hope you don’t mind, there was no one in the waiting room.”

He smiled and waved me to one of the chairs. “No, please come in. Have a seat.”

I moved across the room to the padded chair. Doctor Jinn crossed in front of me, handing me a cup of coffee as he took his own seat. In six months I’d yet to see where he’d hidden the coffee service. It was no doubt in some nook of his desk, but I didn’t complain. Dr. Jinn made the best coffee I’d ever tasted.

“I’ve been thinking about your question,” I said. He nodded and reached for his notepad.

“Mm hmm.”

“Will you answer my question before I answer yours?”

He cocked his head, signaling he didn’t remember our last session, or at least my parting question. Then he smiled. “Ah yes, what would I wish for? Wasn’t that it?”

I nodded.

He looked into my eyes, literally. I could feel him peering at my soul. “That’s not how it works, but I will answer your question , I promise, if you answer mine. “

I shrugged, what the hell? I didn’t really care what his answer was, did I?

He spoke, his voice becoming deep and melodious. I wondered if he was trying to hypnotize me “If you could have one wish, one, for it’s all I can give, the lamp is quite worn, you see. What would it be?”

I didn’t understand what he was saying, some psychological metaphor, I suppose. “I’ve told you. I want to see my son’s last game.”

He nodded. “I’ve given you six months to consider your wish. That’s unusual, I hope you know. Is this truly your wish?”

Suddenly I was nervous" There was a sense of finality, of permanence to his question. Was he going to have me institutionalized? I didn’t know, I didn’t care. He asked what I wanted, what I wished for, so I told him.

“I want to see, no, I want to be at my son’s last game. To never leave, to never lose him. Not ever. If I could have anything, that’s what I want.”

Dr. Jinn looked sad. His smile was a sad one as he nodded. “Is that your Wish, Steven?”

I nodded.

“You need to say yes, a nod will not suffice for this. Is that your Wish?”

I was nervous, my throat was dry, but I found my voice. “Yes. That’s my wish, more than anything.”

“So be it. Your wish is granted, Steven.”

I felt my balance leave me as if someone had snuck up and tipped the chair I was sitting in backwards. The coffee cup slipped form my hands and tumbled to the carpet, staining the intricate, beautiful pattern. Had he drugged me? The room was spinning, and I felt as if it, not I were suddenly falling away from the world while I remained stationary.

“Wait! Answer my question. What would you wish for?”

He smiled sadly, “If I could wish for anything, mind you I can’t, my kind don’t get wishes, but if I could it would be this, to give mortals what they wanted without consequence.”

With a sharp, nodding jerk of his head Doctor Jinn vanished and I felt the air rush out of me as if I’d been punched in the gut. I gasped, drew in a deep breath, surprised to find my eyes were closed.

I smelled Popcorn and beer, and stale hotdogs. I smelled the hot summer sun on bleached wood. I smelled sweat and cotton candy, and freshly cut grass. And I heard the unmistakable crack of leather on a bat. I held my breath, not daring to open my eyes. It was impossible. But the smells, the sounds, I knew them from my own childhood. I knew them from Jack. I opened my eyes and I was there, in that lost moment, at my boy’s last game!

***

Alice sat by the bedside reading quietly from a book, listening to the soft whir of machines, the gentle, almost hypnotic rhythm of the heart monitor that measured Steven’s heartbeat in the simple, melodic song of life. She glanced up to look at his face, and wept silently. She reached up to squeeze his hand and then turned the page and began to read out loud.

“IT hath reached me, O King of the Age, that there dwelt in a city of the cities of China a man which was a tailor, withal a pauper, and he had one son, Aladdin…”

A Game of Kings and Gods

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“In the north, it’s known as the game of Beggars and Kings.
In the south, as Crowns and Swords, and in the Wilderlands they call it Shades.

Its real name is Dumas Breige, which in the old tongue is to “go falsely.“

It is played by men all over the world, and it is the game of kings, priests and sumisarians, for in its intrigues and strategies lies the fate of nations and gods. If Sep is to survive the battles before him, he must not only learn, but master the game, for the skills of a swordsman are of no avail in the court of nobles.”

 

The game of Dumas Breige is one of those weird things that happens when you’re writing.  I have a scene in The Whisper of God, where Sep and Elise are discussing the politics of the court of Jarick, and she describes it like a game of chess.  That’s all well and good, but I wanted something a little different than chess, and if you’ve read the first two books, you know that Sommerstone is different.  There is no connection between their pantheon and the pantheon of our antiquity, the mythology of our world and the reality of Sommerstone.

That said, I set out to make the world of Sommerstone one with a plausible history and mythology, as well as belief system.  Chess doesn’t exist in the world of Sommerstone, so I was faced with the dilemma of making a game that is like chess ( a passion of mine), but is unique in how it’s played. I didn’t want the game of chess under some other guise and a nom de plume. I wanted a game that was real and born of the social, cultural, religious, and political fabric of the world.

Dumas Breige was born of that need, and while it’s not a fully realized game like chess, it is more developed than I’d anticipated for something to be merely a part of a conversation between two characters. World building never ends, and while it is tempting for an author to include in the book all the hard work he has put into building the world, it’s a temptation one should resist.

With that in mind, and the realization that the game has evolved into something of a character in the book, I have undertaken to expand it and make it fully playable.  When it’s done I’ll upload the files needed to print (it is a board game) and play it.  I’m looking forward to sharing with you this unique aspect of Sommerstone, and I hope you’ll find it enjoyable. 

“I am become vengeance!”

As a fun distraction and a way to promote the book, I’ve been working on a book trailer. Please feel free to share with everyone who might interested, or swing by the youtube channel to subscribe, though to be honest there won’t be a lot of videos. After all, I’m a writer, not director. Hope you enjoy.