Staying Close at Christmas

As Winter chills, everything stills, 
 And we’re all staying inside.
The birds have flown to places unknown, 
 The leaves have fallen and dried.

We’re tucked away, and we may stay, 
 From people far apart,
But love is lawed by the power of God, 
 When Jesus is in our hearts.

No distance or span or power of man,
 Can separate us from His love.
This Christmas season, let Him be the reason,
 And gift we’re dreaming of.

Copyright © 2020 Brandon Ellrich

Close at Christmas
Photo by Aleksey Kuprikov on Pexels.com

I hope you enjoy this poem and may God bless you this season and all those to come!

Dinner Party

No one wanted to attend the soiree, yet curiosity compelled them to make an appearance. Regret gnawed at some of them, but it was too late to back out. Sitting around the room of antique furniture and ornate decor, everyone was uncomfortable; that is, everyone but the host. Vlad seemed very much at ease having them in his home. He was extremely gracious, courteous, inviting.

“The weather has been reasonably nice this week,” Rob said, breaking the silence awkwardly.

Jennifer looked at him and rolled her eyes. “Really, Rob? The weather?” she whispered under her breath. He shrugged his shoulders.

“Yes,” Vlad answered pleasantly. “It has been unseasonably warm. I, myself, do not mind the Winter’s chill. I am, you could say, more cold-blooded.” A grin spread across his face, but this did nothing to assuage their trepidation; in fact, the eerie facial expression only added to their uneasiness.

Jennifer and Trisha gave each other knowing looks. Trisha started biting her fingernails until Ryan discreetly touched her arm. It was a signal they shared. Her anxiety caused the nail-biting ever since she was in sixth grade. In response to her husband’s gentle reminder, she placed her hands in her lap.

Vlad stood up and all eyes went to their host. “Please excuse me while I prepare to bring out our hors d’oeuvres.” He left the room and immediately the hushed conversation began.

“Well?” Jennifer said looking around at the other five guests.

“It doesn’t prove anything,” Rob stated.

“He hasn’t been to any of our daily gatherings, and we’ve been sure to invite him,” Jennifer pointed out. “We’ve only seen him out at night, and he wasn’t even at the convention.”

“And yet he invited us here,” Gary added from the corner of the room. Gary was older, wiser. They always looked to him for advice. He had been a big supporter of George Bush, Sr., voted for Ross Perot, and then for Barak Obama. He was certainly unbiased and impartial. They always put more stock in what he had to say.

“Do you find it just the slightest bit odd that there are no mirrors in this place?” Trish asked.

“Maybe he’s just not a vain person,” Ryan justified. Jennifer rolled her eyes and Rob gave a slight chuckle.

“I’m going to ask to use the bathroom,” Morgan said conspiratorially. “There’s surely a mirror in there.”

“Just look at the windows,” Trish pointed out. They looked around and noticed the thick material of the black-out curtains pulled across every window.

“What do you think, Gary?” Jennifer asked.

Gary sighed and leaned forward in his chair. “I think–” he started to say, and then abruptly stopped when Vlad entered the room with a tray of edibles.

“Telling secrets?” he asked with a smirk.

It was silent for a moment and then Morgan asked, “Do you mind if I use your powder room?”

Vlad indicated where she could find it and she swiftly made her way down the hall. Their host walked slowly around the room proffering the tray of appetizers. Though delicious, the guests could not fully enjoy their food with such unsettled stomachs.

Morgan reentered the room and gave a subtle shake of her head and returned to her chair.

Jennifer could no longer take it. “Vlad, we have a question,” she stated as boldly as she could muster.

“Jenn, please,” Morgan pleaded. Jennifer held up her hand. She would not be dissuaded.

“What is it you would like to know, Miss Jennifer?” Vlad spoke calmly as he looked directly into her eyes with a wide grin.

Jennifer was at a loss for a moment. She felt as if he could read her mind, even see directly into her soul. She swallowed and started again.

“We would like to know…” she started. Rob put his hand on her leg. She looked down.

“Yes….?” Vlad prompted.

Jennifer looked back up and said, “We want to know, are you–a Democrat?”

There was an audible gasp from Morgan. The rest of the guests simply held their breath.

Vladimir closed his eyes for a moment, opened them and smiled widely, displaying his teeth.

Days later, missing persons reports were filed, but no traces were found. The detectives learned of the dinner party and searched the house, but found no one. As they were about to leave, the detective noticed something on the chair in the corner of the room. Had it been there before? Surely not. He walked over and picked up the red cap before dropping it into an evidence bag.

Copyright © 2020 Brandon Ellrich

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

*If you enjoyed this short story, you may also enjoy some of my others like Dia de los Muertos or Taken.

Thankful?

Since it is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, I thought I should write something in regard to that occasion. In many households, it is a tradition to go around the dinner table and ask each person what he/she is thankful for. But I wanted to do something a little bit different.

Naturally, we should all be thankful and show appreciation for people in our lives who have had a positive influence on us. Many of us would not achieve success or be as healthy or happy if not for the assistance or influence of certain individuals who have crossed our paths. Sometimes we may get caught up in the busyness of our lives and forget to show our gratitude, but if we stop to think about it, it should become apparent who has been that positive influencing factor.

I thought briefly about asking what you are NOT thankful for. These things are almost always blatantly obvious, as they usually prevent us from getting something we want or cause us pain or distress in some way. Aside from that, I did not want to focus on such a negative aspect of our lives; it does no one any good.

Failures are seen by most people as negative occurrences in our journeys through life. After all, if we try something, we presumably want to succeed at whatever that thing may be. A failure would then stop us from reaching that achievement. Of course, we then have the choice to either put forth another attempt, go about it in a different way, or simply give up on that particular venture. If you choose to see failure as a negative thing, you are most likely to fall into the category of those who choose to give up. However, if you see failure as more of a learning experience and use it as a stepping stone, of sorts, to achieve something greater, it can certainly be a positive and powerful tool.

As a writer/author, I have been rejected many times; it comes with the territory. I do not allow those rejections to translate into failures, though. I know that I am a good writer and I continue to pursue my passion. I have received enough encouragement and validation from others to help me keep going. If not for this encouragement, I admit that I would most certainly question whether or not I should be continuing in this pursuit. If I am rejected by one source, I simply believe that it was not the right timing or not the right company or publisher. It is merely a stepping stone or learning experience to help me to achieving a desired success.

Looking back over your life thus far, what past failure has given you the motivation to achieve something you otherwise would not have done? Has there been a door closed on an opportunity that has led to another door or window to open? Was there a roadblock that stopped you, and later realized that following that path would have put you in a worse state than where you are now?

So, my question to you is: What failure are you most thankful for?

*This blog was inspired, in part, by Of Progress and Purpose, so if you found it beneficial, I also encourage you to visit their site as well.

Photo by Marcus Wu00f6ckel on Pexels.com

If you enjoyed this post, please check out Thank You, Critics.

Coming Out

I came out of the closet today. I’d been trying to blend in for so long, hanging around with others like me, but still feeling like I stuck out like a sore thumb. I always thought it was obvious–the flashy colors, my style, the way I carried myself. It was just the way I was made, but some believe it’s a choice. I’m not going to get into that debate, though, because it’s immaterial.

If it weren’t for Zak, I wouldn’t have come out. It took him a while to pull me out of my comfort zone, but I’m glad he did. We were finally going out together in public. As we strolled down the street, I clung to him, feeling insecure as we received lingering looks from passersby. I felt almost threadbare, like they could see right through me. I didn’t know where we were going, but I was too focused on the moment to really care. The further we went, though, the more comfortable I felt. That is, until we got to Michael’s apartment.

“Hey,” Zak said as the handsome Michael opened the door.

“Hey, yourself,” Michael answered with a smile. Then he looked at me, raised his eyebrows and said, “Very nice.”

In a way, I was flattered, but also speechless. What exactly was going on here? We should have had all of this ironed out before we left the apartment, but I was just too distracted. We entered the bedroom and Michael planted his lips on Zak’s. They kissed for a few moments and then Michael looked at me suggestively. Where was this headed? He put his hands on me and slowly felt me up and down. He had smooth hands, but strong too. Then he bit his bottom lip as he slowly and playfully unfastened each of my buttons.

Then he abruptly took me off and threw me in the corner. I would rather not go into detail about what happened next between the two men. Suffice it to say, it did not involve me. The next day at Zak’s apartment, I was washed, dried, and put back on a hanger. As he carried me back to his bedroom, I knew I’d be going back into the closet. I was pretty sure I’d be coming out again, though. It was just a matter of time.

Copyright © 2020 Brandon Ellrich

Fighting

I was called away to fight and I never,
Had second thoughts to endeavor,

To engage an enemy that attempted,
To come against us with contempt.

I returned to my country only to find,
That citizens within were turning blind,

Fighting each other without even knowing,
The goal they were reaching or where they were going.

Is this what I fought for, risking my life,
To make things better for my child and my wife?

Is this the future our founders believed,
That their dreams would one day achieve?

I continue to fight day after day,
Sometimes at home and sometimes away.

I have to believe that minds will be changed,
And government will no longer be twisted, deranged;

To believe that one day we'll come together to fight,
Not one another, but in a quest for what’s right.


Copyright © 2020 Brandon Ellrich
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In dedication on this Veteran’s Day to all those who fight for their country and for the freedoms that are afforded us.

To Follow or Not to Follow…

If someone presented you with a gift, would you say anything? Of course you would. You would say phrases like “Thank you” or “You shouldn’t have” or “I love it!”

Writers give the gifts of their words, their stories, poems, expressions of thoughts and emotions. I’m always grateful when someone shows their appreciation for my work–whether it be by voice in a personal message, posting a comment, reblogging, leaving a review of my book, or simply clicking the “like” button. They are simple acts, but they are significant to the recipient.

I, personally, don’t use the “like” button arbitrarily. If I “like” your post, it is genuine. If I follow you, then I have found content you have written to be entertaining or beneficial in some way. There have been times when someone has followed me and then said, “I would appreciate a follow-back.” I have not been blogging for very long, so what is the etiquette here? Do you follow someone simply because they follow you, even if you don’t necessarily like the content of their posts? During holidays, you might receive a gift from someone that you weren’t expecting. Do you then feel obligated to go out and buy a gift in return?

Does anyone remember Christmas cards? I have heard people say “[So-and-so] sent me a card. I guess I’ll have to send them one now.” The recipient may never know the intention, genuineness, or lack thereof, so what’s the harm, right? If you are the receiver, would you still want the gift, knowing that it was given begrudgingly?

I realize I am posing a lot of questions and I don’t expect answers to all of them, but I would like to hear your opinions.

I genuinely thank you for reading and/or following me! 😁

Halloween

Leaves are rattling, ruffling, rustling,
Beware! Beware!

Hands are thwacking, thumping, thudding,
Who’s there? Who’s there?

Footsteps scampering, scurrying, scuttling,
More tricks! More tricks!

Night winds whistling, whipping, whispering,
Who’s next? Who’s next?

Teeth are chawing, chomping, crunching,
More treats! More treats!

Spirits are moping, moaning, mourning,
To sleep, to sleep.

Graves are quelling, quieting... until next year


Copyright © 2020 Brandon Ellrich
Halloween 🎃
Photo by u0410u043bu0435u043au0441u0430u043du0434u0430u0440 u0426u0432u0435u0442u0430u043du043eu0432u0438u045b on Pexels.com

If you liked this poem, you might also like my short story Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos

Photo by Mitja Juraja on Pexels.com

Born from the earth in el huerto de calabazas, Cucurbita awaits the choosing–la seleccion. She will soon be ready for the children. They will see her and fear her, as they should.

“That one,” the dark-haired doctor says, pointing at Cucurbita. “That one will be perfect.”

She is not perfect yet. She knows this to be true. Her identity must be changed in order for the plan to become fully realized. Dr. Ramirez takes her to his private garage. It is poorly-lit, dingy, dirty, and there are black oil stains on the concrete floor. It is a deplorable atmosphere for the surgery that will be performed tonight.

The doctor prepares the table and lays out his instruments. Cucurbita sits on the table, knowing this is the last time she will appear as she does. Her beautiful face will be permanently transposed forever. There will be scars that will never heal, but she knows it is necessary and she is ready. After the doctor has prepared her, he carefully uses the knife to make the alterations to her face.

After the transformation is complete, she is forever changed–not only in appearance, but on the inside as well. There is no light inside of her; she is empty, cold, evil. She has no remorse for what she will do to the children.

“Yes, you’ll do nicely,” Dr. Ramirez says with a malicious grin. “Make them afraid.”

He lights a fire in her, motivates her to strike fear in whomever may look upon her, whomever may dare to tread upon this threshold.

She waits in the darkness and hears them approaching. Los niños y las niñas. These will be the first of her victims. She sees that it is the princess and her followers.

Perfect.

“Eeee…!” the little girl shrieks.

“It’s okay, mijita,” her mother assures her. “It’s only a calabaza. See? A pumpkin.”

The little girl still keeps a tight hold of her mother’s hand.

Cucurbita’s eyes flicker as the candle’s flame is licked by the night’s breeze. The princess, a skeleton, and a superhero approach Dr. Ramirez’s door, but the princess keeps a watchful eye on Cucurbita.

Yes, princess. Be very careful…

Copyright © 2020 Brandon Ellrich

If you liked this short story, you might also like one of my other stories like Taken or my poem Halloween