Tag Archives: anniversary

Midnight Chase

This is a flash-fiction entry based on the word, “Flower,” for Rachael Ritchey’s BlogBattle. Every month, she picks a word as the theme for which a number of us write some kind of short story. For many months now, my entries have been the serialized mishaps of a bumbling macho man explorer in the 1930s and the knowledgeable “sidekick” who actually gets things done. 

The Adventures of Grant McSwain

Daring Explorer of Dangerous Environs and Fearless Discoverer of Fang-Filled Dungeons

…accompanied as always by his hapless assistant, Teagan O’Daire, the Ginger of Galway

(992 words)

Grant threw his massive form from the cliffside and ran across the mossy bricks of the ziggurat with no loss of momentum. “I’m telling you, Teag,” he called over his shoulder, “the treasure is within reach.”

Crouched under the leafy branches near the ledge, Teagan hissed at her companion and listened to the nocturnal song of the Peruvian jungle. Were those voices in the distance? Could the Kaiser’s thugs be closer than before? Or had she imagined those lantern lights among the trees after sundown?

Grant paused, peering in the darkness. At least the oaf whispered this time. “Are you coming?”

Even though Grant made the leap without injury, Teagan still checked the distance before springing across the gap. Her boots clung to the stone well, despite the overgrowth, and she jogged along the structure’s heights toward Grant. “I’m coming, but I think I’m not the only one.”

Grant surveyed the jungle, though he had no chance of spotting anything through the thick foliage. “Those Germans after us again?”

“Not us so much as the treasure.”

“Coming through the river valley, unless I miss my guess.” He chuckled and gave a dismissive shrug. “They might find the entrance to the ziggurat, but they won’t be able to move all the rubble we left.”

Teagan’s eyes narrowed despite the dim moonlight. “About that… was dynamiting the entry hall really necessary?”

“I wasn’t sure a trap would stop them, so I figured an obstacle might.”

Teagan laid a hand on Grant’s shoulder. “Laugh all you want. But if they learn to exploit Ixthacan relics or, God forbid, unlock the secret of these portal chambers, their militaristic ambitions in Europe could stretch across the globe in an instant.”

He flashed a devilish grin. “Let ‘em come. Maybe FDR will finally get our boys in the mix.” He hustled to the other side of the Ixthacan temple, where some previous explorer or tribesman had stretched a flimsy rope ladder like a bridge to the opposite cliff. Grant tested the thick ropes with his weight, shaking the cords to see how much they might withstand before trusting it fully.

Teagan eyed the ropes with suspicion and mounting fear. “Are you certain no one has found this ritual site before? Maybe someone already claimed whatever this ruin has to offer.”

“I doubt it,” Grant said as he took a step. The rope bridge swayed and dipped under his bulk but held him aloft. “This feels flimsy, Teag,” he added, his knuckles white as he gripped the cords. “We should go one at a time.”

Teagan crossed her arms and shuffled her feet as Grant inched his way across the gap. “What next,” she wondered, recalling the winding path that led them to the temple. A rickety flight skimming the treetops from Caracas, then a showdown in a seedy cantina with guerrilla rebels, followed by rafting through crocodile-infested waters, and finally trudging through treacherous jungles full of pythons, all with enemies nipping at their heels.

“Some anniversary,” she muttered. They had set out three years to the day since their first excursion, and only a month since Grant had professed his love. Seeing him suspended over the chasm between the cliff and the ziggurat, Teagan felt an all-too familiar mix of adoration and frustration.

Grant strained as he worked his way across. “Talk to me, Teag,” he said through gritted teeth. “Tell me something useless about the Ixthacans and the ceremonies.”

Teagan bristled, then recognized the touch of panic in Grant’s voice. He wasn’t mocking her studious nature or detailed note-taking. He needed a distraction.

The thought of pythons sparked a memory, a legend surrounding the ritual site. “Locals claimed spirits would come from the heavens at night to bless the Ixthacan chieftains. Beings of snake-like appearance, much like the Naga of Buddhist and Hindu mythology.”

Grant grunted an acknowledgment.

“Prior to our discoveries with the portals,” Teagan added, “I found the similarities fascinating, given that the Ixthacans and Buddhists lived on opposite sides of the world. Scholars assume Chinese seafarers spread the stories across the Pacific. After all, certain rare flora from the Orient also flourish here, and—”

“Made it,” Grant said, tossing her a rope. He acted unfazed by the brush with danger. “Tie this around your waist, and I’ll hang onto it just in case you slip.”

In short order, Teagan joined Grant on the far side. Had it seemed easier for her because of her comparatively light weight? Was Grant hiding some injury, as he often did?

“Which way?” he asked, checking the stars. Unexpected urgency filled his voice. Had he suddenly believed her concerns?

“It’s supposed to be northwest. We’re very close.”

He crouched and tromped through the brush in the direction she indicated. Teagan watched in confusion, then followed, inspecting plants as she passed. Someone had been this way recently.

Before she could warn Grant, they burst into a wide clearing, surrounded by thick trees with forked limbs reaching into the sky. Large reddish bulbs grew in the joints where branches of tree trunk met. A weathered stone with faded runes marked the Ixthacan site, though much of the jungle’s growth had been cleared away.

“You’ve already been here,” Teagan gasped.

Grant nodded and hushed her. “Last night. Just watch.”

As one, the bulbs spread with lazy movements under the stars, thin red leaves stretching into a sunburst around two rings of ivory petals circling the pistils clustered in the center. While Teagan stood in awe, a dozen blooms of silver-white opened in the moonlight.

Grant slipped his arms around her. “Your treasure, my dear. One of the rarest flowers in the world. Queens of the night for my queen.” He gave her a peck and whispered, “Happy anniversary.”

“What about the Germans following us?”

“Oh, them?” He laughed. “Just some guys I paid off in the market. I knew you wouldn’t have half as much fun if you weren’t being chased.”

Night-blooming cereus.jpg by Aswin KP from Wikimedia Commons. Used under Creative Commons license.

40th Anniversary Poem

My parents married on March 9th, 1974, on a 70 degree day at the end of “winter.”

A while back, my Mom found a copy of a poem I (apparently) wrote in 1996 for a special anniversary for my great-uncle and great-aunt. Mom loved it.

I read it with a few more years experience, and hated it.

So I cringed when my Mom asked, “Could you do me a huge favor and write a poem for our 40th Anniversary?”

After all, it was doubtful I and my family could even attend. We were in the middle of moving overseas for my next duty station.

I think my response was, “Uhhh… yeah. Sure.” Followed by a few weeks of oh crap, what am I going to write?

40th anniversary… 40th… 40… 40, 40, 40… where have I heard something about 40 before?

And then it all clicked. One quick book search for references, a little thought and organization, and about an hour or two of putting words on the screen, and voila!

Icing on the cake – due to paperwork delays, we were able to attend the spectacular party my brother and sister-in-law organized. And after he read a set of touching Q&A responses from an interview with my Mom and Dad, I got up to read this poem to our mostly church-going crowd:


As I think about this particular date
And we take time out to celebrate
In a day and age when marriage
Has a fifty fifty chance
And eight years is the average length
Of marital romance
I recall Sunday sermons and it strikes me
That 40 is a number of significance
For this anniversary of a special memory
And a marriage that has made a difference

For Forty days and nights rain fell
On Noah’s ark of wood
And no doubt you have tales to tell
When times were not that good
When storms of life brought pain and strife
To toss you to and fro
You clung together, husband and wife
And waited for the rainbow

Forty years of wandering
Before the Promised Land
Like times you’ve been left wondering
If God forgot His plan
If dreams and hopes you once saw clear
Would ever come to be
And yet we now have gathered here
For forty years of marriage, walking faithfully

I think of Moses in his tent
Before the glory of The Lord
For forty days he sought His Face
And trembled at His Word
I think how often as a child
I saw you both in prayer
And learned true peace and wisdom
Will only be found there

I read that 40 days and nights
Goliath mocked and taunted
Until the man you named me for
Stood up to him, undaunted
And I think of those naysayers
Who never thought you’d stay
Who choked or snickered, Joked or bickered
“Those two? What?” They’d say
But you stood your ground on the Rock you found
And the house stands to this day

Like Elijah fed by God’s own care
Who then ran for 40 days
I know you’ve seen His mercies there
Throughout these four decades
To give you strength to run the race
To find by grace a hiding place
A refuge of repair

Our Savior 40 days in desert
Showed us to rely
Not on ourselves or on this world
But Father God on high
And with the ups and downs of life
I watched the way you live
Not choosing safe or easy ways
But trusting God to give
Enough to get through each new day
New mercies for each morn
A living testimony saying
This is life reborn

For 40 days the resurrected Christ walked and revealed
That victory is won and sin’s fatal wound is healed
For 40 years God chose to show His victory in you
A picture of the Bride and Christ, a window He shines through

Yes, it’s clear to me
And I hope you see
That 40 is a number of significance
For this anniversary of a special memory
And a marriage that has made
a difference

14 Years

On June 28, 1998, my wife and I shared personal wedding vows and said, “I do.”

We were in the backyard of Jami’s grandparents’ house in Pueblo, Colorado. It was a perfect Sunday afternoon with a clear blue sky.

We had planned to take Communion for the first time as a married couple after the marriage was finalized and the vows were declared. The pastor we asked to officiate the wedding was not comfortable with us taking Communion outside a church building, so we spoke with a close friend who was also an ordained minister, and he performed that portion of our wedding.

As “luck” would have it, we took Communion as two individuals at the church service that morning. So we had this nice bookend on our wedding day — receiving the symbol of Christ’s sacrifice for us as two separate individuals, and then later that same day, receiving the same symbol as one flesh in the sight of God and men.

It was pretty awesome.

For fourteen years, my wife and I have stuck it out, working hard to keep up the commitment to those vows we made.

Reciting words is easy. Living them out, not so much.

We’ve had our moments.

I remember a time about a year after we got married. I had successfully hidden my video game habits from my geographically separated bride-to-be, but my new wife who was living in the same house quickly became aware of just how much time I spent at the computer or the PlayStation.

(Yes, now we’re going back in time to the 1st generation PlayStation.)

Needless to say, there were… tensions. My wife had some crazy expectation that I would spend time with her, but I was too busy playing Jane’s Fighter Anthology and such on my PC.

It took a couple years of straining her patience, but one day I came home from work to find all my games had disappeared. She had hidden them. Not only that… she had placed a ransom note next to the XBox to let me know that I was not going to get the games back until I spent some quality time on a regular basis with her.

I was livid… mostly because I knew she was right.

A few years ago, we got into a fight. For the life of me, I can’t remember why. But we were both on the offensive, throwing verbal jabs back and forth, trying to score a hit with our words, becoming meaner and meaner with each volley of words. 

Then, right after I shot some insult or angry rebuttal at her, she put her hand on my cheek, told me that she loved me, and kissed me passionately. I’m sure everything natural in her wanted to fire back and cut me deeply with some response. But she stopped me cold, completely disarming my hostility. How do you argue with that? 

You don’t. I didn’t.

We were able to stop and realize we’re on the same side. We were able to figure out how to proceed as a team instead of as rivals.

Again, I have no idea why we were fighting, and it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that she demonstrated remarkable love, something I can only hope on my best days to emulate. 

And of course, she’s had her moments of doubt, of fear, of failure, of frustration. She’s had those days where she needs to be reminded that my love for her isn’t based on some evaluation of her performance or how well she measures up to my perfectionist standard. My love for her is based on the fact that it’s her we’re talking about.

She puts up with being marginalized and ignored if it means that I get recognized. I try not to let this happen, because my wife is pretty awesome and undeniably talented in various areas. But she’ll step out of the spotlight if it means I get recognized for something I’ve done. 

She is truly the most unselfish person I know.

My Bordermarches story? She’s heard every version of that and then some.

“What if Lyllithe was a NINJA!”  No, dear.

“Maybe Lyllithe is a robot.” Really? That’s…. nice.

“What if the world was secretly an alternate universe?”  Stop watching Fringe so much, honey.

She puts up with a lot.

I think back to our wedding, and to my proposal long before that.

I had to keep it hidden, because I really wanted to surprise her. We would go for long walks and share our hearts as we spent time together. I waited for one of these walks as my opportunity.

It was April 2nd. I figured I better wait until the 2nd, because proposing on April 1st might send a bad message.

I had her ring on my pinky finger, and I was trying my best to keep it hidden. 

There was a small bridge where we sometimes stopped to talk and watch the stars. I paused there, to “tie my shoe.”

Then I told her, “I love you, and I want you for my wife. Jami Michelle Bennett, will you marry me?”

Oddly enough, I had a dream where I was trying to figure out the exact seventeen words I was supposed to say to propose. I don’t know why it had to be seventeen. It just did.

We’ve had our ups and downs, our twists and turns, our crashes and our wrecks.

But we continue on, because she meant it when she said, “I do.” 

And so did I.

I often say that I have no regrets, nothing I would go back and change, given the opportunity. It seems silly to me to think, “If I could, I would go back and choose X instead of Y.” We can’t possibly know all the ways that minor detail might change our lives. Maybe it would be good. Maybe it would be bad. Either way, it’s not possible, so why waste time thinking of things we’d like to change when we can be working to change our current situation instead?

But I would go back and change one thing.

I’d say “as” instead of “for” in my proposal. It’s grammatically more accurate.

I still love you, Jami Michelle Williamson, and I am glad to have you as my wife. 

On to the next fourteen years!