There are things you don’t hear about Tibet until you arrive. Things like that for Buddhists the people eat a lot of meat and that when you look at the world of Tibet today then you will not recognize the idyllic land of the West’s delusion, but rather thriving Chinese cities and starving half-Chinese and half-Tibetan villages.
The other thing you don’t hear about are the Yarlung. Of course that’s only a nickname for them, among them many things that no one knows about them is how they call themselves.
Not just for generations, for whole dynasties they have been feared. For all of Tibetan history there are notes about their attacks – how they appear and disappear without a trace. How they never leave the smallest of objects, not even a hair, but that they always come to take the most precious thing.
That night Sadie stayed so close to my legs that the leash was hanging through. She was walking slowly with careful steps. She looked tense and her tail and ears were upright.
When I first saw the red light it looked like a distant firefly. I saw it at the end of the street, a bright spot framed by two of the large trees that towered the sides of the road. It seemed to be far down the road, that red light, but it followed a fast up and down motion.
Sadie froze. Her eyes fixated on the light. Her legs buried stiffly into the ground.
I was wondering whether she just saw what I saw or whether there was more, something that I didn’t see or hear. I listened to the silence and stared, just like her. She bared her teeth.
The light grew larger. I remember thinking that it was weird that it did not seem to illuminate anything around it. It was passing right between trees and parked cars but the bright red did not reflect on them. Continue reading →
First Rex started growling. Then he disappeared. Then he brought a gift. I should have seen it. I should have understood my best friend of three years better than this.
When Shana came home I tried to explain everything. I wanted to talk to her but she walked up the stairs and slammed the bedroom door shut. By the time I came upstairs she was already under the blanket. I placed a hand where I thought her shoulder would be.
“I can’t take it,” she said. “I can’t take this anymore.”
I pulled the blanket off her head. There were tears on her face.
“I can’t take it anymore, the way Rex behaves.”
I nodded. I hugged her. I wanted to explain; I wanted her to understand. But all I could say was.
I lay next to her for ten or twenty minutes. Shana’s breath turned to the steady and regular breathing of a happy sleep. I brushed my teeth and sat at the end of the bed, thinking about what to do. Continue reading →
I loved her more than anything in the world and the wedding was rapidly approaching. Bianca wanted to organize everything with only her maid of honor and I was happy that I didn’t have to bother with any of the preparations.
We had been engaged for nearly two years and when we finally decided to finally get married Bianca was excited. We set the date and together we chose the location – a small but incredibly picturesque church set a few minutes drive into the forest near Bianca’s home village. Bianca had spent many of her childhood Sundays in that church dreaming about her wedding.
The church’s community had dried out and most of the Sunday services were now only visited by twenty or thirty people. The old priest stood at the altar and spoke so slowly that I felt an angry twitch in my fingers; I wanted to shake him; I wanted to scream at him to finish his sermon.
But Bianca seemed to love it. She stared at the priest with unmoving eyes and a wide smile while my eyes moved along the church’s high walls and ceilings.
From that day on, despite the nearly two hour ride, Bianca visited the church every week. Up until then she had not even been religious – but something about the priest fascinated her. Continue reading →
It was more than fifteen years ago and still I feel guilty. Still I sometimes cry myself to sleep. Still I wonder what in heaven I could have done differently.
It was a hiking trip. Laney loved the outdoors and I wanted to help her love it more. Laney was already in the girl scouts and loved that too but our local group wasn’t very active. I felt like it was my fatherly duty to grow my daughter’s passion for nature and exercise.
Just for the long easter weekend. I carried the tent and sleeping bags and Laney proudly carried our cooking utensils in her small dark green backpack. My then wife wanted to do the family tour with our two year old son.
I think that’s why we broke up – because she couldn’t look at me anymore without seeing Laney. She couldn’t look at me without blaming me.
The first two days everything was wonderful. We hiked mostly along a small river and sometimes through stretches of wood. Along the way I taught Laney about edible mushrooms and how to recognize fresh bear tracks and how her mother had always hated hiking. Continue reading →
I was upstairs when the doorbell rang. Sydney was downstairs. I heard her footsteps moving towards the door and my attention shifted back to the screen in front of me.
I heard her say “Hi.” Then she screamed.
Her scream stopped before I had even pushed myself out of the chair. I heard something soft falling on the tiled floor.
My feet flew down the stairs. By the time I reached the front door I saw two men running towards a black van. They threw Sydney’s body in the back. The van started. I ran towards the car, screaming. The van started driving and they jumped inside.
Before the door slammed shut one of them smiled at me.
For a moment I ran after it, then the van turned a corner. It didn’t even have number plates.
I ran back inside to grab my keys and phone. The car started and a moment later I was on the road. Continue reading →