Category: Papa


Morning

“Good morning Kyra,” said Papa.

“Good morning Papa,” yawned Kyra, still rubbing the sleep from her eyes. No matter how early she rose, Papa always seemed to be up and he always looked perfectly manicured. His white tunics were nothing but pristine, each fold easy and crisp, the cut looking tailor made.

“Have a seat and join me.” With a grace that even a child could notice, Papa lifted his off-white cup of snizzle to his tanned lips, took a sip, and as effortlessly allowed the cup to float back to the table. A cool morning breeze rolled in from the ocean, palm trees bowing as servants in the wind, their broad leaves whispering approval. The ocean looked warm, inviting. The waves were gentle but not calm and the hue, forever changing, shown with a turquoise sheen rarely seen with such clear brilliance. Colors blue and green shifted in the sun as a kaleidoscope, patterns morphing to the limit of the imagination with shapes and values light and dark, rich and light, inviting and forbidden. Golden sand basked in sun and water, silent in private joy, as comfortable in solitude as a welcome mat waiting patiently for the patter of guests seeking solace and renewal. “Close your eyes and take a breath.”

Kyra pulled up a chair and sat at the table, her feet not quite reaching the aged wooded deck. Closing her eyes she took a deep practiced breath, just as Papa had taught. Silently, she breathed in to a count of four, her focus on the flow of warm ocean air on the tip of her nose. Holding the breath for a second count of four, almost swirling the warmth in her chest, she gently released the exchange back into the breeze with a third count of four.

“Give me your hand and we’ll do this together,” said Papa. Without opening her eyes, Kyra held out her small white hand and into the leathery mitt of Papa’s palm, like a baseball in a mitt, her hand disappeared in his. Together, in silence, the two breathed in the morning, heart-rates slowing, seeking and finding harmony as large drum to small drum might. His hand felt large and warm and somehow tender in strength. His breath, its rhythm and pace, felt as a rope, a belay, holding her in a safe place, a place where a touch said more than words, where a breath brought peace and a heartbeat conveyed love. Their breathing synchronized; and slowly their hearts. From a window Grand looked out and smiled. The love Zeke showed to Kyra, so consistent day in and day out, so kind and gentle and loving, as one might show a delicate flower that needed just the right amount of sun and water to flourish, that love she thought, was Zeke. He didn’t try. He didn’t plan. He simply was. Where love began and Zeke stopped was as difficult to separate as the point where one body of water became another. The two were simply one and the same. And so Grandma Kyra stood and watched and smiled through eyes that had never lost their wonder. She would leave Hyneria before him but not without him.

“Kyra, I love you,” said Papa.

“I love you too Papa.”

“Do you know where we are?” he asked, his eyes, like hers, still closed, his tone as soothing as warm honey, the grip on her hand neither too tight nor too loose.

Kyra smiled with lips closed. “Here. We are here Papa.”

“And what time is it my dear child?”

“Kyra smiled again. “Now. It is now Papa.”

“And when we sit here tomorrow, and look over the glorious ocean, tell me–“

Kyra cut him off. “Here and Now. Our appointment with life Papa.”

Papa smiled and held her hand a little tighter as if to emphasize his approval. “And when we love someone?”

“Oh Papa, you know the only time you can love someone is Now and the only place is Here.”

“Open your eyes Kyra and look at me. I want you to listen to me very closely.” Papa took her other hand in his and pulled his chair up to hers. Their knees were touching. “You are a very special child and I love you very, very much.”

Kyra smiled, pulled her hands from Papa’s and launched herself into his arms, her whole body fitting in his chest as arms and legs wrapped around him. “Papa, I love you too.”

Papa stood and twirled her around as if the two were dancing center stage with the sun and the breeze looking on at love manifesting itself in the natural order, the way it should be. Grand had seen this scene played out a hundred times and for the hundredth time she raised her right arm and wiped her eyes with her sleeve.

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“Papa, the children of the shells, they—“

Papa continued to walk, gifting Kyra space and silence.

“They seem lonely.”

Still Papa walked along the beach, a steady pace neither rushed nor purposeful, just walking to walk as he would say. He offered no opinion.

“Well?”

“Well what?”

“What do you think?”

“I think you think too much.”

Kyra kicked a shell into the surf. Papa bowed his head, placed his hands behind his back and continue to walk, his white tunic flapping in the ocean breeze. No footprints.

“I’m serious Papa.”

“I’m not.”

“What does that mean?”

“Listen to the ocean. Is it lonely? Is it serious?”

“Papa? Papa!”

Kyra gasped for breath. Her abs contracting, painfully, involuntarily as another volume of viscous blue liquid expelled itself from her bowels. Sucking for air, her throat burned. Her eyes watered such to make everything seem blurry, faded, out of focus. Pain, fear, the unknown, however, have there own way of rendering sight blind, of thought single minded. Grabbing the sides of her bed, her nails as claws, her chest heaved upward, her heart jumping as if it could escape. Her plaintive wail, both of child and adult, brought glass to tears of flickering shards as so much confetti.

“Papa!”

Papa was more distant now. His head still bowed and he walked without turning, without acknowledgment.

Kyra’s lithe body hardened, her muscles straining, against what she did not know. Her teeth ached with pains sharp and dull. Each joint, from elbow to ankle screamed as if on fire. Papa slipped from sight as if consumed by the shimmering waves of despair. Her hands slackened. The room fell quiet.

Rog looked at John, who looked at Von. “I can’t take this anymore. Back away from the door.” Before anyone could stop Rog, six rounds from his las pistol burned into the door and from six holes came light so brilliant, so blinding . . .

The Kyra Star


Papa and Kyra are walking down the beach on their way for ice cream when a man and his son approach them. The man speaks of need and solicits money from Papa.

K: Papa, why did you give that man all our money?

P: I did it for the son.

K: But we can’t get any ice cream now.

P: Ice cream might make the belly smile, but to give love makes the heart smile, or, as I’ve heard it put, makes your soul shine.

K: Soul shine? Really?

P: (kneeling down) Look closely at my eyes.

K: Oh.

P: Soul Shine.

K: Can you make my eyes do that?

P: No.

K: (frowns)

P: Only you can do that.

K: Show me how.

P: (smiles) I just did.

K: (looks confused)

P: Every day we are blessed with opportunity, the opportunity to give, to smile, to paint the world around us with yellow, to touch the canvas of another with the paintbrush of our heart. Do that, and your soul will shine. Do it enough and . . .

K: And what?

P: (looking more serious) And you become a light unto the world.

K: (looks with wonder)

P: Yes, but can I tell you a secret?

K: (Kyra leans in) Only if you promise to tell and not show.

P: (Papa smiles) Look into the heavens my precocious one, just above the horizon. What do you see?

K: I see my star, the Kyra star. (Papa had named the brightest star in the Hynerian sky after Kyra)

P: And?

K: It is the brightest most brilliant star in the whole sky.

P: Yes it is. And do you know why I named it the Kyra star?

K: Because you like teasing me with lessons.

P: (Papa laughed—sometimes he forgot he was conversing with a child) Because, my child, you have a gift, an ability, a potential, if you will.

K: (looks somewhat puzzled)

P: (Papa puts his hands on Kyra’s shoulders, his eyes looking into the endless cisterns of her young sapphire eyes) You are that star Kyra.

Kieran: I must go now.

K: I know.

Kieran: You know, Papa was right.

K: (looks searchingly) About what?

Kieran: You are the—

John: Hey, I appreciate the family reunion, but we best get moving before reinforcements arrive. And they will.

Commentary and Reading: The Kyra Star

Categories: Story, Papa, Kyra, Kieran, John Discovery

The Turret


Papa walked into the turret room, as Kyra called it, an eight sided addition he had built with calloused hands and sweaty brow on the rear left side of the villa, facing the more rugged coastline. The room had eight sides, eight windows and between the windows, eight mirrors. To casual visitors, the room was a shrine to the eight precepts, and in so much as it was told, it was true. But what is truth, Papa would often say, but a word, a raft we put into the river of all that is. Rafts come and go, and we live not for the raft, for the river is truth and life and love and the river flows and moves and lives and dabbles not in labels and opinions and concepts.

For a small child, the turret room was a magical place with its mirrors and windows—Kyra’s favorite place on the whole estate. As she grew, so did the magic and if she were not on the beach she could be found reading in the turret, or, as Papa discovered many times, standing in the center of the room in wakeful meditation.

Kyra,” whispered Papa, sticking his head through the door, “may I come in?”

Seemingly without effort, Kyra pirouetted with arms outstretched, her coal black mane catching the Hynerian sun is shades of gray and blue with the luster of youth, her porcelain white skin, almost too white, shinning with eyes limpid, bright and calmly reflective. “My dear Papa, state your intention and be quick. Hesitation is the mark of shadows dark, of purpose complicated.”

Papa laughed. “My purpose, my child, is to marvel at the gift of you and to wonder what vistas you will see beyond my ability to imagine. Yet, we must be careful of conceit. Look around the room.”

Kyra did. Eight mirrors, eight views, each slightly different and even the same mirror never gave back what it offered before. She had heard it before and knew she was about to hear it again. Papa was nothing if not consistent in his belief that repetition was the mother of all teaching, so she cut him off. “And we never look into the same mirror twice.”

“Exactly!” exclaimed Papa.

+Tell me more about these mirrors.+

Categories: Story, Papa, Kyra

My Precocious One


“Papa?” asked Kyra.

“Yes, my dear?”

“You never did answer my question. And you know what?”

Papa played serious. “Tell me my precocious one, what?”

“I’m holding you hostage, til’ you talk.”

“Is that right?” responded Papa, trying his best to hold back a grin.

“Right as rain off a pampus back,” shot back Kyra in all seriousness.

“Well, we can’t have that now can we. Repeat the question.”

“You told me you painted because of Luin, but you didn’t say why?”

“Didn’t I?” Papa smiled.

“Oh Grand?,” called Kyra.

“Hey, hey, now I didn’t say I wouldn’t tell you, but wouldn’t you rather I show you?”

Kyra frowned.

“Okay. How bout this. I show and tell?” Papa held out his hands.

Kyra hesitated before slapping both her hands down on his aged palms, weathered soft with care and concern. “Deal!”

“Come here child.” He motioned to a blank canvas. “Tell me what you see?”

Kyra squirreled her cheeks into the dimples that would later melt hearts. “I see a Papa messing with my deal.”

“How so?” asked Papa with false indignation, tilting his head and widening his eyes for effect.

Kyra huffed, “You said show and tell.” Then matching him, for effect, she put her hands on her hips. “Not, tell and show.”

Papa couldn’t hold back as laughter rolled from belly to cheeks. Then he lowered his voice and his face took a serious tone. “I paint because it makes you smile.”

Kyra looked into his eyes and Papa returned the gaze. Then quick as lightning she leaned over and kissed his cheek. “I love you Papa.”

“But I’m not finished. Don’t you want to hear the rest?”

“No, not really. Got what I needed.” Then Kyra jumped off his lap and skipped away.

“Zeke?” asked Grand, watching Kyra fly past her.

“Yes dear?”

“What did you do now?”

“Whaaat? I was just educating the girl on the aesthetic philosophies of Luin.”

Shaking her head Grand smiled.

“See. It works.” Papa smiled and opened his arms. Grand folded into the embrace, warmth on warmth, her head on his chest finding comfort in the beating of his bottomless heart.

“You haven’t told her yet?” asked Grand, her voice barely a whisper.

“No.”

Categories: Story, Papa, Kyra, Grandma Kyra

Luin


“Papa, why do you paint?” asked Kyra.

“Luin. I never painted before Luin,” answered Papa without taking his eyes off the canvas. “Don’t tell your grandmother. She once accused me of having an affair with the great dame.” Papa turned his head to see Kyra’s eyes widen, the warm sunlight highlighting her sapphire blues.

“Really?”

“Well, I suppose we all have our obsessions and, well, now don’t tell your grandmother this either, but passion is planted by the mind in the heart. It doesn’t just come from nowhere and Luin, well, let’s just say she—“ Papa hesitated.

“What? Tell me?” asked Kyra.

“Well lets just say she had a mind as beautiful and seductive as any,” Papa mused. “In my opinion, of course, and don’t tell your grandmother I said this, but she was sensually stunning, as powerful in passion and provocative in form as any who has ever lived on Hynerian soil.” Papa paused again, as if lost in memory.

“She must have been beautiful?”

“Luin? “

Kyra giggled as one with a secret. “Yes Papa, Luin, the one I will not mention to grand. Tell me of her beauty. Was she like a princess? Fair and regal?”

“No, no my dear child, she was a Philosopher, of Aesthetics, the Second Order. I think I have a few of her books in my study, but—“

“I know, don’t tell grand.”

Papa smiled.

Categories: Story, Papa, Kyra, Luin

Rainbow Owls

Kyra held Em tight, for whose benefit could no more be determined than what was twilight and what was dusk. In warmth, comfort found, and in silence memories roamed, triggered by a touch, a smell, or in this case, a simple phrase that opened the door to a time long forgotten (ago). Perhaps the coldness, perhaps the utter isolation, or perhaps the look on Em’s face and those simple words took Kyra back to Valla, to a time where need and want blended beyond perception.

“Papa, I’m scared,” said Kyra as she pulled her small four-year-old knees into her tiny chest as if she could roll herself into a doodlebug; her chin tucked in the valley of her knees, her eyes rolled upward like full moons looking toward the sun of Papa’s face. Papa sat on the edge of her bed, his tanned complexion appearing golden and warm in the soft light from the nightstand, one hand resting on the bed and the other on his knee. Trying not to smile, for fear Papa would leave, for why would he stay if there was not a fear to ease, Kyra took a breath of Papa, a scent forever consistent, from earliest memories to the dock, a scent that could only be described as a non-scent, a scent of purity, of freshness, of cleanliness, of a fresh ocean breeze, yet, however one wanted to characterize it, the scent was Papa and the scent was confidence and the scent forever held the key to a thousand memories.

“We are all scared Kyra. If you tell me yours, I’ll tell you mine.” Papa spoke to Kyra as an equal, as he would an adult in tone and delivery. There was no baby talk. There was no paternalistic patting of the head, of presupposition, but an openness to share without façade, to share on what he called a higher plane, which was to say, to share with the intent not to protect or even educate, but to share with the intent, to take the opportunity so clear in his mind, to build trust, to build relationship, to build the bonds of love and to do so not as one above the other, not as grandparent to grandchild, but to build a relationship in the flow of love with the acknowledgement that in that flow, there is no superior, no distinction, there is just the melding of souls into the universal mother of existence.

With the very thought that her Papa had fears too, that he was willing to share them with her, Kyra felt her heart open into the warmth of his being, as she would countless times over the next two decades. In later years, her mind often raced to find an incongruity in his behavior, to find a time when she felt she could not open herself to him, and she marveled at how he did it, at how no such time existed. Papa was not perfect, but he was perfectly open and honest and loving.

“There is a sound Papa, from outside. Be very quiet.” And so they sat for a couple minutes like two big radar stations on watch, ears attuned for the sound. “There it is Papa,” said Kyra, her arms springing from her knees like a lock released. “Did you hear it?”

“I did indeed.”

“See, I told you something was out there. What is it Papa?”

“It’s a mother owl singing a lullaby to her babies. The trees around our villa are filled with these beautiful creatures. In fact, they glow the most beautiful colors of the rainbow when they are happy. Would you like to go see them?”

Kyra looked up as if Papa had just told her of a magical tale, one just outside their doors.

“Let’s get dressed,” said Papa standing up. “Put on your slippers and a coat and I’ll go do the same and we’ll go sit and watch and listen.”

Papa came back a few minutes later and Kyra jumped on his back, arms around his neck and legs locked tightly around his ribcage. Papa could feel her small heart beating against his back and he smiled at the great adventure she must have felt. Grandma Kyra stood in the kitchen, a smile on her face, her robe on her shoulders, as they exited the back door.

“Kyra?” asked Em. “Sorry I didn’t mean to startle you.”

Kyra smiled, “Sorry Em, I was just lost in thought.”

“Are we going to be okay?”

“Have I ever told you about the time I first heard the rainbow owls back home?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Let’s grab a seat. I think you’ll like this story.”

Commentary within the reading: Rainbow Owls

Categories: Story, Kyra, Papa, Grandma Kyra, Emy

In That Place

Kyra sat on the bridge of Bravo, reflective as a morning lake as stars twinkled silently like children at church; only the sound of her steady breathing could be heard. Von and Emy had decided to stay onboard for this mission, and, if truth be known, she preferred a smaller contingent and time to think. A year together was a long time to spend cooped up in a small vessel and the time away, she reasoned, or hoped, would be good for everyone. Above all, she hoped Yul would get the help she needed, which was to say, she hoped she’d see Yul again.

Sitting in the soft and worn leather of the captain’s chair, she mused on the thought that one day would be the day. Papa used to always say life was like rowing down a river, and then he would add with a laugh, a river that ended with a waterfall. Everyone would laugh, and then Papa would lower his voice and get serious again, his eyes looking round the room and making contact with each and every one before uttering in his low deep voice, but you don’t know if that waterfall is two days, two years or two decades away. You just know it’s there. Then, with the suddenness of a thunderclap, he would slap his hands to break the spell and say, How ‘bout some dinner!

Kyra closed her sapphire eyes and thought of that waterfall; and she thought of the precariousness of life on the open vastness of space, that no one was guaranteed a tomorrow. The haunting sounds of the tape played in her head as she wondered what she would find, not on board the vessel in question, but within her heart when she entered the realm of someone else’s waterfall. She knew the story well, for Papa never tired of telling it, of Zael and the outpost. But to hear it on the secure beaches of Valla among family and campfire, many years and millions of miles away was one thing; to be heading into her own private Zael was quite another.

Kyra opened her eyes, as instinct lead, and there was Emy to her right, absently starring at the distant blackness before them. Space always seemed vast and cold, no matter the temperature inside, like one was standing on the Nililian plains in winter with nothing but the horizon to be seen in any direction. Emy had chosen to go, for, as she said best, sailing was in her blood and ports of call were nothing but trouble waiting to happen. Besides, thought Kyra, Em had been a bit depressed of late, and this would be a good time to pull her out of her funk, or so the thinking went.

“Evening Em,” said Kyra.

“Evening Kyra. Only thing missing is the soft sea spray on my face and the wind in my hair,” answered Em, unconsciously twirling her brooch without taking her eyes from the large observation window that comprised the forward bridge. “Thanks for letting me come.”

“Glad to have you Em. I wasn’t sure anyone could turn down John’s offer.”

“Nah, this is where I belong. This is home, here, with you guys, on the move, seeking new adventures, not staying in any one place too long. My dad would have had it no other way, and you know, his blood courses through my veins as surely as Silus is the third moon.”

Kyra smiled. “Been awhile since I thought of Silus. Perhaps we can get Von to share some stories of his time there. Papa took me a time or two. It was, I think, the most peaceful and serene place I’ve ever been. Good times.”

Em smiled back. Wasn’t often that Kyra made small talk. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure Em, anything.”

“What is it like,” Em looked up as if the words she needed were on the ceiling, “well, you know—“

Kyra sat up and smiled. “On the other side?”

“Yeah.”

“It’s a good place Em. A place where concepts don’t exist and memory doesn’t matter; a place where the eyes see through the heart and the ears hear without sound. I know none of this probably makes any sense to you, but,” and Kyra looked as if she was looking through Em rather than at her, “it’s a place where words are not needed, and as such, I’ve never been able to find the words to describe the experience. I do know this, in my darkest hour, if I close my eyes and I think of this place, I find strength and that strength carries me down the river to a better place.”

Emy paused as if to let Kyra’s words seep in, almost savoring them like the last bite of ice cream knowing soon the warm glow would recede and only the memory remain. “Is Kieran there? In that place?”

Kyra smiled with her glassy blue eyes. “He is.”

“Is it true you’re seen him? Since—“

“Since he passed? Yes. It’s true.”

Em paused again as if to weigh what that meant, what that must have been like, how that could change how one saw life, to have that experience. “I bet my dad and mom are there. In that place.”

Kyra let the tone of Em’s words ripple across her consciousness and she couldn’t help but think who she might know who might be there too and the mere thought sent her heart racing. “I’m sure they are Em.”

And for what seemed like a long time Kyra and Em sat in silence, each lost in their own thoughts, somber in the unknown, reflective in the pools of memory.

“Hey, said Von, breaking the silence, “long faces don’t get us places.”

In unison, Kyra and Em responded, “What?”

“Rog and Yul have suggested an idea for our last night together,” said Von. “I say we put the long faces away and have a little fun.”

Kyra looked at Em in mock disbelief and Em burst out laughing. “Are you serious?”

Von grinned. “What? You think I’m too old to have fun?”

“Yeah, I do,” said Em.

“What did they have in mind Von,” said Kyra.

“Come with me. I think you’re going to like this.” Neither Em nor Kyra budged. “Come on, I’m not gonna bite. Rog found some old equipment that I think I can get working. A good way to say goodbye. Come on, they’re waiting. Be good for our souls.”

“Our souls or your soul?” teased Kyra.

Von just shook his head. “Well, as much as I hate to disappoint you two young lasses, our little vixen ain’t sharing her stash, at least not yet. Besides, I’m going to need you two at full strength when we get where we’re going,” winked Von. “Now come on. Or are you two afraid of dancing or singing or both?”

Categories: Story, Kyra, Papa, Emy, Von

The Folio

 

“Time is an illusion of perspective,” said Papa, his holographic image, white tunic and silver hair, glowing brightly from the inside of the folio. “I can only imagine how this last year must have flown by, whipped and driven by the inclement winds of uncertainty. And, I can only imagine how you have grown in the fertile soil of adversity. I miss you more than these words can convey and can only marvel at the leader you have become. With this journal, I officially pass the baton. You are a special one my dear. I feel privileged to have walked by your side on the beaches of Valla. All my love to you my dear sweetest one. Carry on.” The image gently faded.

Through misty eyes Kyra closed the folio and ran her hands over the gem encrusted cover; the central gold and blue shell, the crown jewel from Papa’s own personal collection. Papa had handed her the folio on the dock, a gift locked for one year. She had trouble sleeping last night knowing today was the day—one year from that moment on the dock, from that last goodbye. The precious folio had served its sentence. She wasn’t exactly sure what she was going to find, which only made the anticipation all the more intense. That Papa had given her his personal journal, what amounted to his autobiography, was like the gift of a guiding star to one lost at sea.

“Dear Kyra, are you okay,” asked Goldie.

“Yes, yes,” answered Kyra, her smile like the sun shinning in the midst of a afternoon shower. “So good to see Papa again wasn’t it? Who would have thought.” Kyra stood and walked to her window. Standing before the massive pane she looked into the cosmos and clutched the folio tightly to her chest. “I love you too Papa. I do.”

Commentary: The Folio

Categories: Story, Kyra, Papa, The Folio, Goldie

Papa

Zeke

Categories: Story, Zeke, Papa, Paintings