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The Armstrong Family Circus

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Embers, A Story

Monday December 5th 2011

by Paul Armstrong
 

Embers

 

I really wish I could control everything in my life, like some grand story. I wish I could control how others saw me. I wish I could control what happens to me and others. I wish I could stop whatever hurt or pain comes. Grant every wish and desire. Burn every bad decision and stupid word. But if life — through all of time (past and future) — were a wall, our moments are but a small clump of events. 

 

I was walking along a narrow path, winding through some woods when I came to an opening into a flat and empty field. In front of me was a wall. It was large, a blank white, smooth and unblemished wall; stretching as far as I could see from east to west and toward the sky. It filled up my vision with an enormous, empty void. As I walked closer to the wall I noticed a small dark spot off to my right, growing and enhancing as I got closer.

 

There, clumped together — crowded and busy, overlapping and fighting for attention — were photos and scrapes of paper. Millions upon millions of them, the size of a large house. Photos of family and friends, places and things. All the words, dates, details and events of my life amassed in an intersection of characters and places. 

 

At my feet I saw two objects; a large cardboard box and a trash can. Inside the box were envelopes, addressed to everyone I had never met and known. In front of the trash can was a single matchbook. I was given the choice of only a handful of items that I could choose their destination — which to burn, which to send away to others, and which to leave on the wall for everyone to see. 

 

Many of the items were already burning — the regret, the shame, the things said and things not done and also the many tiny moments of indescribable joy — the embers glowing and flying to the air, carrying off the memories of my life into the sky. With just as many being sent to the lives of others or staying adorned to the wall

 

... and I was left with but a few decisions — which to burn, which to send away and which to remain forever ...

 

 

 

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