Writing Wednesdays & A Writing Sprint link up

Because I’m a writer & storyteller and enjoy weaving words together into tapestries of stories both real and imagined, I’ve dedicated Wednesdays to my novel writing. I am currently working through the revision of The Dream Quest, a story about a young man named Daniel who embarks on an incredible quest based on a series of dreams he has involving people he’s never met.

And because writers need to hone their craft, it’s the Writing Sprint link up. The Writing Sprint prompt appears at the end of this and offers a writing prompt that encourages you to freewrite for 15 minutes without the alleged help of your inner critic. No overthinking. No stopping. No editing. No worries. No inner critics. Daily writing exercises help writers grow, improve and free their writing. The only rule is that you must leave a comment for the person who linked up before you. That’s it. Other than, free yourself from your doubts, your fears and your inner critic and have some writing fun with us!

serving God & others through writing
serving God & others through writing

Chapter 6: The Man in the Mirror

“What are you doing here?” Daniel exclaims.

“It’s good to see you, too, bro,” Peter says and smiles.

Daniel shoves his hands in his pockets and takes in the desolate surroundings. “What happened to you on the plane?”

“Why don’t we step in here,” Sara says, gesturing towards the warehouse behind her. Daniel looks from Sara to Peter and back to Sara.

“Sure,” he says after a moment. He follows them inside the warehouse. It’s bright but mostly empty. Only some remnants of wooden pallets and a few broken chairs. Sara heads toward an office area. At least in here there are a few comfy chairs and a space heater. From the looks of things, someone’s been here for at least a little while. The office is pretty toasty and Daniel guesses that the heater’s been running for a few hours at least. There’s also an empty pizza box and the office still smells like pizza, so he knows that it’s not something left behind from previous tenants.

He sits on the edge of the desk and lets Sara and Peter take chairs opposite him.

“So, what exactly is going on?” Daniel looks at Sara when he says this.

Peter attempts to speak, but Daniel waves him off and looks at Sara intently. “When I asked you where my brother was this morning, you said I was the only guy on the plane. You said you wished you could tell me my so-called dream was real or true or whatever word you used. Either way, you lied. Why?”

Again, Peter starts to say something but Daniel cuts him off.

“I really want to hear what she has to say.”

Sara and Peter exchange a look and Sara takes a deep breath. “The timing wasn’t right.”

“What do you mean?”

Sara looks at Peter. “Because of Jonas.”

Daniel sucks in his breath and lets it out slowly. “What about him?”

She hesitates but before she can look over at Peter again, Daniel leaps off the desk and positions himself between them.

“What about Jonas?”

“He wanted you to think it was a dream.”

“What?”

“That’s all he said.”

“Why?” Daniel presses, “why would he want me to think that?”

“He didn’t say.”

Daniel turns toward Peter. “And what do you know about this?”

“Danny, listen–”

“You go missing on the plane and now the two of you are here telling me nothing.”

“We don’t have a lot of information,” Peter explains.

The good feelings of reconnecting with Peter earlier begin to fade as Daniel stares at his brother. “I really shouldn’t be surprised, should I?” he says.

“Danny, don’t–”

“I asked if you knew Jonas.”

“I couldn’t say anything to you on the plane,” says Peter.

“That’s why we met you here,” Sara explains.

“I need to get back to the plane.”

“What?” Sara looks at Peter. “But–”

“I’m going to see what Jonas has to say.”

“Peter,” Sara says.

Daniel’s phone buzzes with a message from Lucy. “It’s Jonas,” Daniel says.

“He needs to go,” Peter tells Sara. Her eyes widen as Daniel heads to the door. Peter falls into step next to him. “Look, Danny, I don’t know what’s going on and I don’t know Jonas. Sara approached me early this morning about doing this.”

“And you just agreed to it.”

“After the way we left things last night, yeah,” Peter says. “Yeah, I did.”

“I have to go.”

Peter grabs Daniel’s arm. “Danny, what’s going on?”

Daniel shrugs. “That’s the million dollar question.”

Sara approaches the two of them and addresses Daniel. “I work for Jonas and he needs to trust me. But Peter’s your brother. So we met you here.”

“I’ll see you on the plane.”

Peter takes a step closer. “Are we good?” he asks.

“I need to go,” says Daniel.

“Danny.”

Daniel turns to face his brother.

“Why don’t you keep the ring?”

“Call Lucy. She’s worried about you.” Daniel says and ducks into the limo. He twists the ring on his finger and looks out the back window as Peter takes Sara’s hand and the two grow smaller and smaller.

___________________________

Having checked in with the pilot in the charter plane passenger lounge, Daniel makes his way to the plane. Jonas is sitting in one of the chairs listening to Waiting on the World to Change by John Mayer and seems surprised to see Daniel.

“Back so soon?” Jonas asks.

“Well, time is of the essence, right?”

Jonas smiles his big, warm smile that conveys so much joy. “As always,” he agrees. “I just wasn’t sure how long you’d need with Michael Atkins.”

Daniel toys with the ring and realizes that the text about leaving within the hour wasn’t from Jonas after all.

“Where’s Sara?” he asks.

“Ah, yes. Sara said she was hoping to meet a friend while we were in Pittsburgh. Apparently, she has a friend in the city. So I told her she could take a couple of hours while you were gone. Heck, we might even spend the night here, you know, so everyone can get a good night’s rest.”

“I thought time was of the essence,” Daniel says.

“Well, yes, that’s true,” Jonas replies, “but we still need our rest. Besides, I hadn’t really planned on you getting back so soon.

“So, do we stay on the plane?”

“We can. Or we can stay in a nearby hotel. This is your quest.” Jonas smiles at him.

“It doesn’t feel like my quest, Jonas.”

“What do you mean?” Jonas looks at him intently.

Daniel shrugs. “I don’t feel like I have much control over anything.”

“Does anyone ever really have control over things,” Jonas says with a knowing laugh.

“You know what I mean,” Daniel insists.

“Why don’t you tell me.”

“I don’t know what’s going on let alone what I’m doing. I don’t know why I’m even doing this,” Daniel says. “What do I have to do with any of this?”

“Well, let’s see if I can provide any light for you.”

“We’ve tried this a couple of times.”

Jonas smiles. “Well, yes, but maybe there’s something I can offer nonetheless. What’s your most pressing question?”

Daniel thinks about this. His most pressing and most obvious question involves Peter: Why was he here on the plane and why did Jonas want Daniel to think it was all some kind of dream. What’s Peter’s role in all of this. Any number of these questions could easily be his most pressing, but he doesn’t completely trust the answers. He taps his toes against the floor in time to the music and looks at Jonas, meeting those blazing eyes.

“Okay. What are these dreams all about?”

“I think you know that already,” Jonas replies.

“What do I know?” Daniel raises his voice a little. “I know that I have crazy dreams that involve people I’ve never met and that they seem real. Like I can’t tell the difference between my dreams and my real life.”

“Exactly.”

“But that doesn’t tell me anything,” Daniel insists.

“Doesn’t it?”

Daniel slumps against the the back of his chair in disgust. “See, this is what I mean. You’re not telling me anything at all. This is just more of the same.” He glances at Jonas.

“Tell me about where you were today,” Jonas says.

“Don’t change the subject.”

“Is it changing the subject?”

Daniel rolls his eyes. Sometimes he feels like he’s talking to a yoda character instead of, instead of what? Daniel asks himself. “I met up with a guy named Michael Atkins.”

“So, who is this Michael Atkins?”

Daniel looks at him for a long moment, narrowing his eyes. “Do you know who Michael Atkins is?”

“It doesn’t matter what I know,” Jonas tells him.

“Fine. Michael Atkins is someone I realized I knew from at least one of my crazy dreams.”

“What makes them crazy?” Jonas asks.

“Never mind.” Daniel says. “So I’d met Mike before. Of course he had no idea who I was.”

“Did he think you were crazy?”

“I didn’t say I was crazy. I said my dreams are crazy.”

Jonas winks. “I know what you said.”

“No, he didn’t think any of it was all that crazy. In fact, he was pretty reassuring.”

“So then what do you need from?”

How about how do you know Peter? Or who is Sara and what is her role in this?

“How about where I can take a shower.”

“Back that way, if you go through the galley, you’ll find a couple of showers. Just beyond that, there are sleeping quarters. Or, like I said, we can stay in the airport hotel.”

______________________________

Daniel kicks out on the bed and breathes in the quiet, the peace, the silence. He can’t believe that Jonas put him up in a first class suite at the hotel. Jonas is somewhere in the hotel, too. Daniel figures he wants to keep an eye on him. Of course, where would he go? Despite not knowing much about what’s going on, he feels strangely and strongly compelled to keep going. Whenever he questions or doubts, he feels a strange sense of urgency followed by a weirdly overwhelming peace when he decides to continue. That said, he tries to piece together what he knows and what might come next.

He thinks back to when the dreams started. He remembers his first one; but he doesn’t remember exactly when it was. Because it was the first one, he didn’t really think much about it except for how real it seemed. When he woke up that morning he half expected to see some of the people from that dream during his day. Of course, he hadn’t. It had just been another regular day doing photography, playing basketball out with the guys, having dinner with Isabel. That’s what has him so puzzled. There’s nothing special about him, so why him? It’s a question he comes back to regularly.

He remembers the first time he met Jonas in his dreams. It was almost an ethereal experience. As if he had taken some kind of mind-bending, mind-altering drug. There were colors and music and voices all around, but none that he could actually make out. They met on a street. An old street that was made of stone. There was a mist that floated around them. It was almost like the place where he met Jonas the other night. The church where they met and Jonas walked out of the shadows. But the dream was so much more vivid. The sound. Especially the voices. It was like a chorus and it was faint but also everywhere all at once.

And the moment he met Jonas it was like Daniel knew him. Even in the dream Daniel knew that he’d never even seen the guy before, but it didn’t matter. There was something familiar about him. He inspired a sense of calm in Daniel instantly. And he invited Daniel to come and walk with him and talk about things that would change the world. Those were the actual words that Jonas used: things that would change the world. Just like he and Peter often talked about.

He still doesn’t really get that part of it. He certainly doesn’t feel like he’s changing the world. He feels like some kind of errand boy. And yet, there’s that something in his gut the tells him to keep going. Something that tells him Jonas is trustworthy.

He wonders if he’s as good a judge of character as Michael Atkins claims to be. He thinks back over the people he’s known in his life. Does he have a good track record of judging people? He reaches for the hotel writing pad and begins a list of the times in his life when he was messed over because he wasn’t such a good judge of character. That list could get long, he thinks, but I’ll start with the obvious names.

He writes Lucy at the top of the page. He thinks about when she first became a part of their family. He was a junior in high school and she was a sophomore. Peter was already in college. He had no idea, Daniel thinks, but he still stuck up for her although he wasn’t even around. She came to them as a problem and she brought a lot of them with her.

He wonders what on earth possessed his parents, mainly his dad, to consider bringing Lucy into their family. For a moment Daniel considers his conversation with Michael Atkins. His dad, he thinks, was a lot like Mike and his wife where troubled teenagers were concerned. But Daniel’s mom didn’t share his dad’s dedication and Daniel still wonders how his dad convinced his mom to adopt Lucy after all the trouble she caused as a foster kid when she was a freshman and she played everyone. His dad. His friends. His brother.

That’s what he hated more than anything. Lucy had torn him and Peter apart. She’d come between them. It was Peter who stood up for their dad about adopting Lucy even though their mom was not on board with the idea. The stress that Lucy brought to their family and to their parents’ marriage was almost surreal. And eventually, Daniel’s mom couldn’t take it. She left. She left them all.

Life wasn’t the same after that. His mom was gone, Lucy was now officially his sister, and Peter was at college. Yeah, he and Peter hung out still from time to time, like that time when Daniel crashed on his couch after they drank that bottle of tequila. But it was never quite the same.

Once he could leave, Daniel left and never looked back. So much of what he’d planned for himself sort of just fell apart. He never finished his portfolio for his photography program applications and after two and a half years in college studying pre-law because he and Peter were going to open a law firm together he dropped out and decided to go figure out his photography dream.

For years now, Peter has tried to bring Daniel back into the family. To get Daniel and Lucy in the same room and create some kind of reconciliation. The only person Daniel wishes he were able to do that with is his dad. And now, apparently, it’s too late for that. Yeah, maybe Lucy’s changed. And maybe she “owns” that, but that doesn’t matter to Daniel, because she screwed up so much before she “owned” her mess, that her change is a little to0 late for Daniel.

Daniel lays the pad and pen aside and closes his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose to stave off the dull ache he senses in his temples. As a reflex, he takes up his camera and heads out on the balcony. The moon is full overhead and there is a plane shadowed against its brightness. He clicks off a series of shots and lowers his camera, breathing in the crisp night air. Feeling slightly invigorated, Daniel takes his camera and heads downstairs to get something to eat and maybe a find a few shots for the show he’s hoping to book in Boston. On his way to the door, he catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror and pauses, studying himself for a long moment, taking in the dark curls, his blue eyes, his set jaw. Just an ordinary man, he thinks, then lifts his camera, captures himself just left of center in the frame and releases the shutter.

 

This Week’s Writing Sprint: Dreams

Write a scene, a poem or a story that involves a dream. Give us what you’ve got with as much detail and dialog as you can muster in 15 minutes. And most of all, have fun. Free your writer from your inner critic.

When you’re done, come back and link up what you’ve got! And remember to give some encouragement to the person who linked up before you.

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7 thoughts on “The Man in the Mirror

  1. I submitted my link, but I think I did it twice by accident. The second one that shows up should be the correct one! I’m not sure how to get rid of the first one. Thanks so much for doing these! It’s only the second week, and I’m enjoying it so much.

    1. I went ahead and deleted the first link so the one that’s left links to your site and your writing. I’m glad that you’re enjoying this and that you are linking up. Hopefully we can start to grow the participation and get other writers involved.

      Looking forward to reading your piece 🙂

      1. By the way, I have finally caught up reading your story, and it’s certainly very intriguing so far! You’re doing a great job keeping the reader guessing, and I tend to like stories that don’t show all their cards at once. Looking forward to the next installment!

      2. Thank you, Meagan! Feel free to provide any critical thoughts you have about characters and dialog and story details or any frustrations you experience as a reader. Helps me see how people read the story, you know?

  2. At this point, I have no idea what’s going on. It’s like not being able to catch your breath. Is it a dream, is it not? What’s up with the ring? Pictures are playing a part in this some how……

    1. So, for you as a reader, is that a good thing or bad thing?

      I love hearing how people read a story I write because it’s fascinating to see how they interpret my words. Thank you for following along!

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