“4. The Moment I First Saw Myself” Released Today

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The night starts roughly with an old tribal tale, and only gets rougher as Thomas comes to grips with his choices and the choices of those around him.

Story Four

The rest of this short story found on Amazon At:


Uncle Tells the Fourth Story

“But for now, the rain poured, the bell rang, and the fire burned, and I laughed.”

Uncle leaned back and breathed out the smoke he had held in as he spoke. His eyes watered, and a single tear fell from their red and broken depths. Before he could cough, he took a deep swig of his coffee and shook his head. The children looked, wide-eyed, into the flames of the fire as they recalled the story. Uncle leaned forward and stood up partway from his chair, leaning forward and looking into the flames himself.

The dark cloud of smoke he had breathed out at the end of the story settled slowly toward the base of Uncle’s chair and slipped here and there around the legs of the old cracked wood. It moved more slowly than it had before. Slow enough that it seemed less alive, less there, but its darkness and smoke were still thick and true, just lethargic.

Uncle’s bent form took a step toward the stove before he stood fully to attention and slightly stretched his old bones. “We need more wood. This fire will burn itself out if we aren’t careful. Aren’t you kids watching the fire? Who’s watching the fire?” A boy jumped up and pushed his hair back before running toward the wood pile. Uncle’s voice echoed into the darkness. “Tamarack. Remember, tamarack.”

He creaked over to the table to refill his coffee as the boy did his duty and brought the wood back and stuffed it into the stove to crackle and burn. Uncle leaned heavily against the table, his fatigue obvious even in the room’s darkness. Uncle shook his head and pushed himself back to a fully standing position as he turned and looked, smiling, at all the children.

Uncle hmphed at the sound of wood catching as he shuffled back to his chair before the fire. With his bare foot, he reached out and pushed against the wooden chunk the boy had shoved in. Uncle adjusted it, feeling the wood give under his hoof wall, and turned his head this way and that, making sure it looked right.

“Now, you children need to remember that things fit in a specific way in this world. That log had a way to sit in that fire. That fire has a way to sit in that stove. The flames have a way to sit on the fire, and the smoke has a way to sit in the air. Log goes in wrong, we get smoke in our faces. Nobody wants smoke in their faces. Remember that: things have their place. Look for it and realize what those places are, including your own. You have a place in the world. We all do. Just find it, or let it find you. Just remember, never tell anyone else what their place is, or let them tell you what yours is. That is your business. Remember that. Some things are worth remembering.”

Uncle took a drag of his cigarette before tossing it into the fire. He reached his hand down along the chair’s legs and grabbed at the smoke cloud. It moved slowly up his hand and along his arm. By the time he pulled his hand from under the chair and in front of the children, the smoke had reached his elbow. He took a deep breath, sucking the entirety of the cloud into his mouth and holding it in his lungs. A single tendril reached from Uncle’s nostril before he snorted deeply and plugged his nose with his fingers, shaking his head.

It took only a moment before Uncle leaned back lazily, one arm over the chair’s back. His old body took on the languid pose of a young boy just out of childhood. The voice that echoed along the room’s walls was that of a kid still wet behind the ears. It smirked as it began; it smirked with the solemn humor only youth could see in all things.

“I was fifteen the moment I first saw myself… “

The rest of this short story found on Amazon At:


This is a short story written as part of the book “This Life as Told by an Old Ndn.”

Find out about the rest of Thomas’ stories at ourorchard.co

Or get these interconnected tales of Thomas’ adventures on Amazon in the Anthology.


Feb 28th


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