Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Fiction: Four Flew Over the Cuckoo Tree

I know it's not Christmas-time, but my life recently resembles aspects of this twisted comedic story. :) Enjoy.

Four Flew Over the Cuckoo Tree

As the small band of misfits dribbled from their rooms for breakfast, they murmured amongst themselves about the boxes in the center of the common space.

When Meagan noticed the group assembling, she emerged from the glass enclosed nursing station. She flinched when Clarence sprung out of nowhere; he had used the plastic ficus tree for cover. Mental note: we need to address that blind spot…

“Why are you here? I thought it was your day off? What’s in the boxes, huh? Are they from the government? Is it a shock treatment table? It is, isn’t it?” Clarence narrowed his eyes and raised his right eyebrow suspiciously.

“I am here today because I brought you guys a present.” Meagan said as she approached the boxes and opened one in front of her captive audience.

“Is it booze?” Paula asked, “Please tell me it’s booze…I’ll take anything you got…seriously, anything.”

Meagan rolled her eyes at Paula as she plucked the top third of artificial Christmas tree from a box. “I bought a new one, so I talked the doctors into letting me donate my old one to the Ward.”

Sherry squealed, ”Oh, goodie-goodie-goodie! I love Christmas trees!” Without any prompting, the group began pulling the branches out of the boxes and assembling them.

“Let me check it for bugs,” Clarence snatched the tree stand from Sherry, “This is probably just a ploy to listen to our private conversations, ya know.”

“What’s that?” Josh’s head snapped to attention as he wiped the drool from his chin.

“Nurse Meagan brought us a Christmas tree!” Sherry clapped her hands as she delivered the news.

“Hey, that’s great. I’ll help, too…” but before he could get off the couch, his chin slumped back down to greet his chest, and the soft snores started immediately.

Clarence pointed at Josh, “See, that’s what the government does to ya when you register to vote, they plant a little chip in your…”

“Nah, that’s what can happen when you mix bourbon with your meds,” Paula oozed nonchalantly as she lit a cigarette, “so you all should be making sure he ain’t getting my mail.”

Sherry began to dig through the last box, “Hey, where are the ornaments? And the garland? There’s nothing in here but old craft supplies.”

“Well guys, here’s the thing,” Meagan began laying the supplies on the table for them,” after the incident last year they gave the Ward’s Christmas tree to Oncology. We had to make some serious concessions to get them to agree to let you have a tree at all. That means definitely no lights, and no glass ornaments either…though we can make some with the craft stuff. We have glue and construction paper, some popsicle sticks and stuff like that. You can even use photos of your family if you want to. The only thing is that the charge nurse has to approve them to make sure that they are all safe.”

“Yippee…Nurse Ratched gets to be the fun police. Imagine that…” Paula blew rings of smoke like she was already bored with the whole project, “I guess I’m out of the loop. What happened last year?”

“Well, without going into too much detail, a patient…” Meagan unconsciously swallowed hard, “…a patient ate all the light bulbs from the tree and had to have emergency surgery on Christmas Eve.”

Clarence snorted, “Come on…no one’s that crazy!” All eyes suddenly wandered over to Josh, who was on his feet and standing in front of the bathroom holding the door open wide.

“Well, we all have our issues, don’t we?” Meagan caught Sherry’s attention and emphatically brushed her bottom lip. Sherry’s eyes bulged as she quickly wiped the glob of school glue off her mouth. With most eyes on Boris, everyone missed this exchange…except for Clarence.

“It was you!” he barked at Sherry, “You are certifiably crazy!”

“Yep, and I got the papers to prove it…” Sherry defiantly scooped up a tube of glitter and stomped past Josh to go sulk in front of the television.

Meagan went over to Josh to see what he was staring at, though nothing looked out of place. “Do you need some help, Josh?”

“I’m just looking for bacon and eggs to cook for my wife. It’s my day to make breakfast.”

As Paula sashayed past, she paused, “If he’s looking for food in the bathroom, perhaps we should put the Christmas tree up on a table. Heaven forbid he dreams that he’s taking a walk in the woods...”

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday Fiction: Among the Ancient

The air carries a familiar scent, and I gaze up to the sky. The expanse above me is adorned in shades of hyacinth; the horizon beyond the city is framed by bulging white clouds, towering to the precipice of heaven itself.

The hour is surely near…

Though I tremble in anticipation of His arrival, I am just a fragment of the remnant who witnessed His departure. From this very garden—in the shade of the Mount of Olives—I watched Him go up to the clouds like a bird on the wind; the angels told us He would come again.

This I believe…

I was so young then; barely mature enough to provide fruit; my silvery leaves offering a paltry canopy of shade; a mere sapling in a garden grove of ancients; a shoot from one who had seen the days of David. Unworthy of His presence. Yet He chose me. He often knelt beneath my branches to pray. His back leaned against my already gnarled trunk as He taught His followers. I can still feel Him resting between my exposed roots.

He was truly God among us…

They laid their garments on the ground before Him, bowing down with palm branches in hand. Not a stallion did He ride, but a humble donkey. As He rode over the Mount, and past me in the garden, they worshipped Him as their king—their Messiah. Hosanna.

Scorned by the ones he came to save…

With glints of moonlight gracing the garden path, he laid prostrate on the rocky soil beneath me. He cried out to His Father; he spoke of a terrible cup—a cup of wrath—and prayed for it to pass over Him. Above that, He prayed for the Father’s will to be done. The soil is still tinged by the blood of His sweat. I yearned for lightning to strike me down so that I might crush those who came to take Him away.

The unblemished Lamb of God…

When the cup was poured out on Him—over and beyond on that dreaded hill of the skull—the foot of this holy hill felt the chill of darkness instead of the warmth of the sun; this garden shuddered in unison with all of creation. The ripe olives fell from my branches in mourning; the wind whined a dirge through my leaves. It was finished.

Sacrificed for the sins of the world…

But death held no power over Him; on the third day the tomb was empty; the shroud fell limp and vacant on the cold stone. He is risen.

He is risen, indeed…

And now I am an ancient myself. I can still hear His words being carried down the gentle mountain slope; He once foretold to His flock that this Holy City would crumble and fall. Yea, hardly a single temple stone was left in place, and the soldiers decimated this Garden of Gethsemane—we were trampled as the spoils of war. Though singed and scarred, I somehow survived. I survived to see many more wars and rumors of war, plagues and famines, earthquakes and great sorrows.

Come quickly, eternal Temple…

So as the last glimpses of twilight illuminate the clouds in shades of crimson, I search them earnestly for His familiar face; His hair blinding white like new wool; His feet like fiery brass. He will set His foot down above me on the Mount of Olives, splitting this holy hill in two. Every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess. The rocks will cry out in praise, and the trees of the field will clap their hands. New Jerusalem will descend from the heavens in all its glory.

Oh, Ancient of Days, come restore Your Garden…