Young Boy

YThis is my fifth April A-to-Z Challenge. The past couple of years, I’ve written 100-word flash fiction each day. This year I’m doing the same, only with a twist: each day’s story will be inspired by the title of a Paul McCartney song. So let’s continue the fun with…

YOUNG BOY

“Do you think William will be okay?”

“Yes, dear, I do.”

“Did he pack a change of clothes?”

“I’m very sure he did.”

“What about underwear?”

“Yes, even underwear. And his toothbrush. And toothpaste.”

“Does he have enough money, you know, for snacks and stuff?”

“Yes, I do believe he’s okay for cash.”

“That boy,” Tom said, smiling. “They grow up so quickly.”

Mary echoed his smile. “They do.”

“It seems only yesterday he was playing with his trucks on the carpet.”

“I know. And now he’s driving one of his own.”

“He’ll always be our boy, though, won’t he?”

Check back tomorrow for the last day of the challenge, the letter “Z”…

“Young Boy” is a track from Paul’s 1997 album, “Flaming Pie.” It was released as a single that same year, reaching number 19 in the UK charts. He is joined on the recording by Steve Miller, who plays electric guitar and supplies backing vocals.

X is for Heather

XThis is my fifth April A-to-Z Challenge. The past couple of years, I’ve written 100-word flash fiction each day. This year I’m doing the same, only with a twist: each day’s story will be inspired by the title of a Paul McCartney song.

Unfortunately, Paul has yet to write a song beginning with “X”, so I’m going to have to improvise a bit here. Those who are acquainted with McCartney’s life have probably already guessed what I’ve done. For the rest, let me explain. Paul was married to Linda for 29 years until her death in 1998 from breast cancer. In 2002, McCartney married Heather Mills, but this union ended in divorce four years later. Paul is currently married (happily, so it seems) to business woman Nancy Shevell, so at the moment, Heather is Paul’s ex. Hence, X is for Heather!

Since we’re playing fast-and-loose with the rules, let’s play fast and loose with the theme too. Paul wrote a song for Heather called “Heather” (his creative genius knows no bounds), so we’re good there. But I’m going to stray from the 100-word flash fiction and give you a poem I wrote about my cousin Heather when I was nine. My teacher, the amazing Mr. Cobbett, read us a poem by some famous poet about a family member. He then tasked us with creating our own little poetry books called “My Family,” in which we were to write poems about family members. I don’t remember any of the other poems I wrote, but somehow this one has stuck in my head for over 35 years. So I present to you:

HEATHER

My cousin Heather’s as light as a feather

Her arms are as thin as a pin.

She has long legs like clothes pegs,

And every race she would win.

(The accompanying illustration was of a giant feather with arms and legs crossing a finish line.)

Check back tomorrow for “Y”…

“Heather” is a track from McCartney’s 2001 album, “Driving Rain.”

Interestingly, “Heather” is also the name of a song Paul wrote for his newly-adopted step-daughter, and recorded with Donovan and Mary Hopkin in 1969, but never released. Here it is:

Waterfalls

WThis is my fifth April A-to-Z Challenge. The past couple of years, I’ve written 100-word flash fiction each day. This year I’m doing the same, only with a twist: each day’s story will be inspired by the title of a Paul McCartney song. So let’s continue the fun with…

WATERFALLS

The water cascaded like a thin net sheet, its wet strands forming cobwebs over the rocks. Masami sat on a bench listening to Yasu fall into Yoneshiro, the one giving life to the other.

She felt a presence beside her and at her back.

Masami breathed steadily as a hand started on her leg, and another slid over her shoulders.

She focused on Yasu’s strength.

Barely a flick of the wrist, her white stick connected with the head behind her. Her elbow found seat partner’s chest, and the stick found his crotch. She heard feet running.

Peace again to meditate.

Check back tomorrow for “X”…

“Waterfalls” is a track from Paul’s 1980 album, “McCartney II.” It was released as a single that same year, reaching number 9 in the UK charts.

Here’s the music video based on the radio edit:

This is the complete album version of the song:

Venus and Mars

VThis is my fifth April A-to-Z Challenge. The past couple of years, I’ve written 100-word flash fiction each day. This year I’m doing the same, only with a twist: each day’s story will be inspired by the title of a Paul McCartney song. So let’s continue the fun with…

VENUS AND MARS

José looked back at Sonia. Her fists were balled, her breathing heavy, her face noticeably flushed. The boys walked on ahead of her.

“What’s the deal, Marco?” he said, glancing again to make sure Sonia was out of listening range.

His friend shrugged his shoulders. “She’s a fiery one, you know,” he said, half smiling.

“You crazy, man.” José shook his head.

“I know. So, I asked her to marry me.”

José stared at his friend. “Serious?”

“She said yes.”

“Then why–?”

“I forgot the ring… kind of.” Marco looked back at Sonia. “She’s so beautiful when she’s mad.”

Check back tomorrow for “W”…

“Venus and Mars” is the title track of the 1975 Wings album. The song was also released as a single, along with the song “Rock Show,” in both the UK and the US.

 

Sunday School Notes: Revelation 11:9-10

9 And from the people, and tribes, and tongues, and nations, they see their corpse for three and a half days, and they do not allow their corpses to be placed into a tomb. 10 And those dwelling on the earth rejoice over them and celebrate, and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell upon the earth.

We started this week with a review of verse 8, since some in the group were not clear on the symbolism of the Two Witnesses. As I stated before, it is my conviction that the Two Witnesses represent the faithful, gospel-preaching church. I get this from what we’ve discussed so far, particularly the description in 11:4, which calls them “the two olive trees” and “the two golden lamp stands.” Olive oil is a symbol of anointing, and also of the Holy Spirit. In 1:20, the seven lamp stands represented the seven churches. I think this fits with the situation described, where the church has been proclaiming the gospel, and within that gospel presentation there is not only life offered for those who trust in Christ, but also eternal death and punishment for sin promised for those who reject him. Even in our own day, we can see the “torment” inflicted upon the world by the church. For militant atheists, the mere presence of the church is a severe irritation. When the church takes a stand on issues of morality, the world derides the church as having “antiquated” ideas, and being out of step with culture. There is nothing more that the world would love than to see the church reduced to irrelevance. Better yet, mocked and disdained into silence.

And that’s what I see happening in verse 8: the world turns upon the church to the point where the church lies “dead in the street.” What is that picture trying to convey? It’s true that Jesus promised the gates of Hades would not prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18), but the church of Revelation 11:8-10 doesn’t stay “dead in the street,” so, in fact, the world doesn’t overcome the church in any permanent sense. However, does “dead” in the vision mean “dead” in reality? Will there come a time when the church will be “dead”? I’m not sure we can answer that, because we don’t know what that would mean. Would dead be the same as non-existent, or simply marginalized into irrelevance? We haven’t experienced such a thing in the U.S., so it’s hard for us to imagine a society without a church. There are many places in Europe where this is, sadly, becoming a reality. And in the Middle East, for obvious reasons, there are places where the church struggles to survive against very real threats. However it comes about, I think this is picturing a time when the church is scorned into virtual silence, stripped of respect, and discredited in the eyes of the world. If we recall the letters to the churches in chapters 2 and 3, we can see how this would be a very real danger to the church in John’s day. It’s certainly becoming a danger for the church in our day, too.

Someone in the group made the observation that Sodom, Egypt, and the cross all share in common a situation where victory was won out of a seemingly hopeless situation. Lot’s visitors were about to be abused, Israel was suffering increasingly worse oppression, and Jesus hung dying on a cross. And yet Sodom was reduced to a pile of smoking ashes by the Lord, God inflicted plagues upon Egypt and brought His people out, and Jesus rose from the grave, vindicating his words, both in promising life, and judgment (John 3:16-18, for example).

Back to verse 9, and the world looks at the witnesses lying in the street. I note in passing that if we take the Two Witnesses to be two literal people, then we ought to take those from “people, tribes, tongues, and nations” as literal, too. That would mean, in the space of 3.5 days, representatives of all people, tribes, tongues, and nations came to look at the dead witnesses. Alternatively, we could simply see this as a picture of the world’s scorn for the church. It’s also interesting to note that the word “corpse” here is singular in the Greek (ptôma). John is referring to the Two Witnesses as a corporate unity, which to me further supports the idea that they represent the church. John was perfectly aware of what the plural form of the word is, since he uses it a little later in the same sentence, so I think this is deliberate. For another example of this kind of “corporate” language, see Acts 18:6, where Paul shakes his garments at the Jews in Corinth saying “Your blood upon your head!” The “you”s there are plural, but the noun “head” is singular. He is telling the Jews that their blood is on their own corporate head. It’s possible John reverts back to using the plural when talking about their burial (or lack of), as a reminder that this corporate body is made up of individual witnesses. Christ sees his bride as a corporate entity, but also as a multitude from all parts of the world.

Why do the bodies (or “body”) lie in the street for 3.5 days? What’s the significance of that? Some suggest a connection between the 3.5 days, and the length of time Jesus spent in the tomb. However, the Gospels seem pretty clear that Jesus was in the tomb for 3 days, so I think that’s a bit of a stretch. I much prefer the suggestion that since bodies were supposed to be buried after three days, the fact the witnesses were left in the street beyond that time frame is a further sign of disrespect. It wasn’t enough that no-one was allowed to bury them; they were left in the street beyond the time deemed respectable. There could also be something to the fact that while the witnesses were prophesying for 3.5 years, their time of defeat was only 3.5 days–a fraction of the time. In other words, though the church may get to a point where it looks like she’s defeated, it won’t last long. Indeed, the time of the church’s “defeat” will be significantly shorter than the time of the church’s ministry.

In verse 10, we see those that dwell on the earth throw a party over the slain witnesses. That term, “earth-dwellers” (Greek: hoi katoikountes epi tês gês) was used in 8:13 by the eagle pronouncing woe upon them, and we’ll see it used again of unbelievers (primarily of idolaters) in chapters 13-17.

I thought it particularly intriguing that it says they “send gifts to one another.” This doesn’t happen a lot in Scripture–perhaps the only other time we see this is with the institution of Purim toward the end of Esther (9:20-22). The practice of giving gifts goes back into prehistory. Every culture seems to include it as a way of expressing gratitude or love, or as a means of rewarding someone, or as part of a ceremonial ritual. The fact that the earth-dwellers send gifts as part of their 3.5-day celebration indicates that they were serious about this. These people are uniting in their relief and happiness that a common foe had been defeated. In their eyes, the witnesses had “tormented” them, and we saw a picture of this in the witness’ fiery breath of judgment that consumed those who opposed them. Again, this is a picture, part of a vision, and it communicates to us the nature of the witness’ prophesying: it was gospel proclamation, and warning of sure judgment on those who will not repent and turn to Christ. Clearly, this didn’t sit well with the earth-dwellers, and it caused them a lot of anguish to hear the Good News of Jesus, because the gospel reveals their guilt before a holy God, and exposes their need for a savior. This is something we see today in our own culture. And how they rejoice when that gospel voice is silenced! But not for long…

We’ll pick up with verse 11 next time, Lord willing.

Used To Be Bad

UThis is my fifth April A-to-Z Challenge. The past couple of years, I’ve written 100-word flash fiction each day. This year I’m doing the same, only with a twist: each day’s story will be inspired by the title of a Paul McCartney song. So let’s continue the fun with…

USED TO BE BAD

I always wanted a restaurant, so when the place came up for sale, I couldn’t resist.

I can forgive a dark past; I hope the locals can, too.

I cleaned and repainted the mildewed walls. The furniture had been taken as evidence, so I had space for booths.

I hauled away the rusty old appliances and installed shiny new ones. I replaced the bloodstained kitchen counters with marble. I trashed the chipped, dull knives and bought professional-grade Wusthofs.

Call me sentimental, but I just couldn’t get rid of the old ice box.

After all, that’s where I kept the bodies.

Check back tomorrow for “V”…

“Used To Be Bad” was written by McCartney and Steve Miller. It appears on Paul’s 1997 album “Flaming Pie” where he performs the song as a duet with Miller.

A to Z Catch Up #3

April is just flying by with less than a week to go on the 2016 April A-to-Z Challenge. If you don’t know what that’s about, click the link to find out. Those of you who have been visiting over the past few weeks know I’ve been posting 100-word flash fiction stories inspired by Paul McCartney song titles. Yes, there are enough Macca tunes to cover the alphabet… well, almost. Were you surprised by Q? There are some tricky letters coming up, so stay tuned!

Here’s where we’ve been:

This Week Last Week Previously
One of These Days
Pretty Little Head
Queenie Eye
Rainclouds
Stranglehold
That Day Is Done
I’m Carrying
Junk
Keep Undercover
Live and Let Die
My Brave Face
No Words
Another Day
Backwards Traveller
Coming Up
Distractions
Every Night
Fine Line
Girlfriend
Hope of Deliverance

There won’t be another “catch up” next week, but there will be a “Reflections” post sometime in May. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these stories. They’ve been fun to write. This blog will return to normal programming in a week.

Here are some other A-to-Z blogs I’ve enjoyed:

  • Word Wacker: Celia Reeves has been posting haiku puzzles.
  • TheArtOfNotGettingPublished: Susan Brody has been providing examples of 16th century (and older) predecessors to modern inventions. Her purpose is to show that we moderns are not as clever as we might think.
  • Jen Seriously: Jen’s posts have been inspired by the International Spelling Alphabet (you know, Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta…)
  • Maybe it’s just me…: Andrea has been blogging about movie soundracks that matter to her.

Tomorrow’s A-to-Z post will be… a 100-word story based on a Paul McCartney song that starts with U. And that’s all I’m saying for now. If you want to know what song I chose, come back tomorrow! 🙂

That Day Is Done

TThis is my fifth April A-to-Z Challenge. The past couple of years, I’ve written 100-word flash fiction each day. This year I’m doing the same, only with a twist: each day’s story will be inspired by the title of a Paul McCartney song. So let’s continue the fun with…

THAT DAY IS DONE

Five minutes late.

I hurry to my desk, but not before the boss calls me into his office. First time late in six years, but he doesn’t care. No written warning, but his scathing glare says as much.

Meeting at 10. Unprepared for questions on the project. Lots of passive aggression about my competence and work ethic.

Three reports by 2 pm. Is this punishment?

Five o’clock. Cell phone buzzes.

My agent.

I sigh. Can’t be good. Another rejection?

Multi-publisher auction.

Book sold.

Seven figures.

“Same again tomorrow?” says Carly as I print my resignation letter.

I don’t think so.

Sunday is our day off, so check back on Monday for “U”…

“That Day Is Done” is a song written by Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello. Paul recorded a version of it for his 1989 album “Flowers in the Dirt.” Elvis Costello has performed the song live on a couple of occasions.

Here’s Paul’s version:

And here’s Elvis singing it solo, with Steve Nieve on piano, at The Concert for Linda in April 1999 (a charity event celebrating the life of Linda McCartney):

According to SongFacts, Costello said this about the song: “I had a fair opening statement and all these images. It was from a real thing, my grandmother’s funeral. It was sort of serious. He (McCartney) said, ‘Yes, that’s all good, all those images.’ But quite often when you’re writing a song about something personal, what it means to you can sometimes get in the way of what it can mean to somebody else. It needed a release. He said, ‘It needs something like this…’ and he just sat down and played the chorus. It was sort of like ‘Let It Be,’ the creation of a semi-secular gospel song. It was quite shocking when he did that bit. Then when you realise that’s what he does. Then he sung the hell out of it. That’s him, really.”

Stranglehold

SThis is my fifth April A-to-Z Challenge. The past couple of years, I’ve written 100-word flash fiction each day. This year I’m doing the same, only with a twist: each day’s story will be inspired by the title of a Paul McCartney song. So let’s continue the fun with…

STRANGLEHOLD

Sam tried to move. The arm across her neck flexed. She managed a slight twist of her lower body, but the pressure from above meant she could barely move her arms.

“Submit,” the voice whispered in her ear.

“NO!”

“Submit!”

Sam could feel her windpipe constrict.

“I… I…”

She sprung from her pillow, face bathed in sweat, and glanced at her empty bedside table. Her heart raced. She searched under the table, under the bed. There! Next to the wall.

Relief washed over Sam as she picked up her phone.

She tapped the Facebook icon.

“I had a weird dream…”

Check back tomorrow for “T”…

“Stranglehold” is a song on Paul’s 1986 album, “Press to Play.” He co-wrote it with former 10cc guitarist Eric Stewart. It was released as a single in the US, hence the music video…

Rainclouds

RThis is my fifth year participating in the April A-to-Z Challenge. The past couple of years, I’ve written 100-word flash fiction each day. This year I’m doing the same, only with a twist: each day’s story will be inspired by the title of a Paul McCartney song. So let’s continue the fun with…

RAINCLOUDS

“What’s that one, Daddy?”

“That’s called a cirrus cloud. It’s way, way up high in the sky.”

“It looks like white fluff,” Michael said.

Glenn stroked his son’s hair, then turned the page.

“Oh my!” said Michael, his eyes wide. “What’s that?”

“That’s cumulonimbus. They can stretch for miles up. That’s where we get rainclouds. Remember, I told you about rainclouds? That’s where our water comes from.”

“When will I see a real raincloud?”

Glenn held Michael close as they looked out at the little blue-green orb hanging in the silent starry sky.

“Soon, I hope. When it’s safe again.”

Check back tomorrow for “S”…

“Rainclouds” was the B-Side of the single “Ebony and Ivory,” Paul’s duet with Stevie Wonder released in 1982. It also features on the 2015 CD remaster of his “Tug of War” album. Paul co-wrote the song with his former Wings sidekick, Denny Laine.