Before summer break I'd been working a temp job as a teacher’s aide helping out in the K-4 classes. Gotta be honest, I miss those little minis.
Having enjoyed that time I've spent with those little kids has made recent events in Uvalde hit all the closer to home. The thought of someone going in and hurting any of those children I spent time with terrifies me.
I will not say the name of the gunman who took their lives. I will not give him the dignity of acknowledging his name. I will say these names however; I don’t want to forget them or their families.
Teachers: Eva and Irma. Nineteen children: Xavier, Uziyah, Alexandria, Jose, Tess, Amerie, Jayce, Jailah, Miranda, Annabell, Jackie, Ellie, Althia, Rojelio, Makenna, Nevaeh, Maite, Eliahana and Layla.
Whenever a horror like this happens I hear people bemoan how dangerous the world has become; I argue it was always this dangerous, we were just less aware of it. The only real difference between now and the past is that communication has made us more able to, “share” the horrors the world has to offer.
Ignorance truly is bliss- it’s no safer but it is bliss. Back in the day there may have been no school shootings, but there were mass shootings with multiple homicides, lynching's in the countryside and bombs blowing up churches, just no school shootings.
What does that say for our culture?
This event reminded me of why I first began writing the story I’ve been posting, of some of the art I’m creating. I’ve been told some of the art I make is, “unsettling”, I take that as a compliment, I’m trying to make art that is visceral, that makes you feel something.
This is an excerpt from Focus on the Family, a Christian Non Profit whose stated goal is, “To help families thrive”.
The profile of the school killer has become familiar. They almost always come from broken homes, suffer mental illness, have struggled with drugs, been bullied, live a life awash in violent video games or violent television or movies. They’re void of hope and desperate for love and attention.
I also believe abortion is evil. If you disagree, you’re not being intellectually honest. Whether a child is murdered by a gun or in the womb with medical instruments and a cocktail of chemicals, it’s still the tragic ending of a young life. The only difference is a matter of a few inches and time and the fact that a doctor gets paid to do the killing. We cry when a child is killed in a school. Politicians and radical activists cheer when a child is killed in the womb.
Eight states, Alaska, Colorado, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, D.C. – allow abortion right up until birth, with some wanting infanticide legalized.
Candlelight vigils and flowers mark the deaths of 21 innocent people, but abortion activists march, chant and firebomb pregnancy resource centers.
As a struggling 15-year-old orphaned young man, they would do everything in their power to prevent me from embracing Christ at my public high school through my football coach. They would seemingly prefer I die hooked on drugs, drunk in an alcoholic binge or using sex to soothe my pain.
It makes no sense – like the killing of 21 innocent people earlier this week.
For the full article, click here-
I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Daly. Except I would add one more ingredient to the vicious cocktail that creates a killer, he forgot to add a violent home life… there is no such thing as a spree shooter or serial killer who came from a healthy home life.
In my stories I want to write the kinds of characters I have always craved to see but rarely have. The main characters, Eric and Nathan and to a certain extent Siah, fit these now classic characteristics of a malignant narcissist, career criminal, mass shooter, standard jerk, or worse...
Part of writing these characters as I did was to exemplify the idea that you are who you choose to be. Your past, your upbringing, does not define you. Any statement otherwise is a lie from the pit of hell. I wanted to write a tale that would give people hope in the midst of a painful, frightening world where it’s easy to feel doomed by fate.
I want to remind people that having cold, detached, careless parents does not mean you can’t be a loving mother yourself (Siah).
Having a cruel Father does not mean you shouldn’t be a father or that you can’t become a great father someday (Eric and Nathan).
Just because you're small now, doesn’t mean you can’t be a big help or that you won’t get to be a strong hero yourself someday (Sharlie).
What you’ve been through does not have to define you!
Today I decided to give us a break from the heaviness we’ve all been dealing with and edited this chapter down to be just a bit of soft fluffiness for Siah and her new family- with a little lilt at the end.
Enjoy the art! I made it myself. :-)
So here I give you, Chapter 26: First Spark.
Siah tucked the Polaroid into her pocket as she watched as Marshall Thompson held out his hand to Eric. The poor boy looked unsure of himself as he took it in an awkward handshake. She was grateful to the Marshall. It was likely the first time Eric had ever been shown such a respectful, masculine gesture. They exchanged a few more words and he came back over to her.
Nathan took attention. “That was really it?”
“Yes Nathan, that’s it.”
“Seems too easy.” Eric said as he came up to her other side.
She put a hand to his shoulder.
“The hard part was what led up to it.” She said quietly.
She gestured to the dark clouds overhead as she took them both by the hand. “Come on sons, let’s go home.”
In that moment, time froze. It was a moment she would remember the rest
of her life: it was the moment she first saw a spark of hope in Eric’s eyes. She had seen little sparks in Nathan, but in Eric- it was as if he didn’t dare to hope- until now- in this moment.
She had seen his first spark.
She didn’t know what came next for her new family, but they would face it together.
Judge Abernathy stood shoulder to shoulder with Marshal Thompson at the gate. They watched the newly formed family practically skip down the street. The little girl really was skipping.
“She told me that there are enough orphans in the world.
She told me to ‘let her have these.’” He sighed deeply. “I'll be praying I did the right thing.”
She was right. There were enough orphans it the world. Those boys were at a crossroads. The only chance for them to not become monsters was to have someone stand in the gap for them.
“I think you did. I’ve seen how they are with the little girl. They’re not too far gone. But they need a rescue parent.”
“It was good Doctor Villalobos came when she did; she nearly missed us.”
“Yeah, I don’t think she knew we’re packing up.”
“When do we leave for Springfield?”
The judge nodded. He only had a few items left to anchor down in his office before the six-hour drive across state.
The Villalobos family half ran to the Trading post. Elaine and Manaen were shocked and thrilled the adoption had gone through and there were hugs and tears all around.
“Girl!” Elaine held her and laughed. “You just adopted yourself two sons and it’s not even ten in the morning yet.”
Siah burst out laughing and started tearing up again. Sharlie explained to Candice in great detail how Nathan and Eric were now her brothers. It was so funny and adorable, even the boys chuckled. It was only then that Siah noticed Manaen was limping.
“M what’s wrong? What happened to your leg?”
They both groaned and Elaine gave her husband a pointed look.
“I slipped in the workroom this morning.” He said sheepishly.
“Yeah, cuz he left oil all over the floor. Again.”
“It was just a few drops-”
“It was a few drops that almost made you crack your head open! I told you to get a new no-slip mat!" She half shouted before calmly turning back to Siah. "I’m sure he just twisted it Siah.”
“I see. Well, lemme check it.”
She had Manaen put his leg up and carefully felt around his foot and ankle.
“Well, I agree with your diagnosis Elaine, it’s just a twisted ankle. Do you have any analgesic lotion?”
“Yeah," Manaen replied in a miserable tone. "I’ve been putting that smelly stuff on all day.”
“Now come on, enough about me, let’s celebrate! Boys, come and help me. I’ve got something in the pantry I’ve been saving for a special occasion.”
Elaine gave Siah a knowing smile as he led the boys into the walk in pantry.
The something turned out to be two bottles of ginger ale and a whole bone-in ham. Elaine and Siah heated up the food and made a couple of side dishes. Manaen got on the floor and played with the girls. Eric and Nathan shed their usual self-consciousness and followed his lead, causing both girls to squeal with delight.
They sat down and Manaen filled a set of real glass goblets he’d been saving for a special occasion and called for a toast.
“Here’s to the new members of the Villalobos family!”
They all feasted and talked and laughed. It was wonderful.
The Villalobos' didn’t leave the Carvers until mid-afternoon when it was way past what had become their usual nap time. Once home, they all crashed out. They had just woken up when the phone rang. It was Manaen. They could hear him, all excited, telling Siah how a furniture dealer in Denver was interested in the pieces they’d found in the Storage unit.
“Sounds good to me. We’ll head over there now.”
“Okay, see you in a few.”
Siah had them pack up some more of the MRE’s and freeze dried foods to take with them in case they needed to stay for dinner.
It was a little scary for Siah, being behind the wheel of a car for the first time in years but the skill came back to her. She marveled at the ease a car allowed you to move at. It made her nostalgic; she used to love to drive.
She and Eric loaded up many of the smaller pieces of furniture while Sharlie and Nathan settled everything into place, resettling the covers Manaen had given them so nothing would be scratched.
They finished quickly and decided to check Storage Unit number six. It was mostly a bust, a few more pieces of furniture and miscellaneous boxes.
Suddenly Sharlie, who’d been playing in the wide open doorway with a set of tops she'd found in a nightstand ran up to Siah. “Mama, someone’s coming!”
In one fluid movement Siah scooped Sharlie up and drew her weapon, the boys following in perfect unison.