Beyond the Shadowlands . . . (Short Fiction)

03 Jun


What’s your dream tourist destination — either a place you’ve been and loved, or a place you’d love to visit? What about it speaks to you?

Jonathan frantically looked over his map.  The map showed the bus stops and city streets and vendors and restaurants; and anything else the mind could imagine.

Every time the bus made a stop, Jonathan wondered if this was his stop.  He was having trouble making heads or tails of the map.  

Too many details, he muttered to himself, as he quickly glanced around making sure no one overheard his complaint.

I hate looking like a tourist, he thought.  He went out of his way to look as “local” as he could.  He detested “touristy” tees, as he called them.  Tees like “I love New York!” or the like, made him cringe just thinking of wearing something that so glaringly declared: “I’m not from around here. I’m an outsider.  I don’t know where I am or where I am going.  If you see me I am more than likely lost or soon to be.  Please help me!”

He shook his head and felt a slight shiver crawl over his spine as he thought of such embarrassment.  What was worse, he thought, is that people subject themselves to this shame willingly and gladly!  They do it with smiles on their faces as they snap picture after picture of themselves in front of some landmark.

Crazy, was the best word that came to his mind to describe such a mental imbalance; oh, he thought several others, but this was the best . . . and by best, he meant nicest way to put it.

Yet, for all his disdain in appearing “touristy”, here he was, sitting on his bus seat with a map unfolded in his lap.

Am I looking at this thing the right way, he questioned himself?

Maybe it goes this way instead, as he turned it on its side, No, no, that’s not right, as he reshuffled it back to its original orientation.

In the meantime, the bus had already made four stops.  Jonathan was not sure which stop he was at now; even more, he couldn’t remember which stop he had boarded the bus.  In short, he was, in every sense of the phrase, a lost tourist!

I can’t believe this, he said, scolding himself, I am a highly educated man and I can’t figure out a stupid city map!  This is ridiculous.

He heard the driver announce the next stop.

Jonathan craned his neck, past the lady sitting in front of him, to get a better look at the stop quickly approaching.  He debated with himself if he should just go ahead and exit the bus here.

Surely, this is close to where I want to be, he reasoned to himself, If not, it’s probably not a stop or two away.

He decided he would rather exit the bus too soon than to miss his stop altogether.

So when the bus driver pulled to the curb, he folded his map, and exited the bus with the air of a man who knows exactly where he is and where he is going.

Of course, he hadn’t a clue.

He looked around, as if trying to recognize something, which would have been a miraculous thing, since this was the first time he had ever been to this location.

He decided there was nothing left to do but to pull out his adversary, the map again.  He sat on a bench, unfolded the map and began to put the pieces together.

Well, I was right, he said with a meager dose of confidence, I did get off a stop or two early.

The real truth was that he had exited ten stops too early!  Which meant he would be doing a lot of walking.

Almost an hour, and two sore feet, later, he had reached his destination.

The Kilns.

He almost couldn’t believe he had finally made it.  All it took was a trip across the ocean, a train ride, a hop on a city bus and several miles of long, sweaty, brisk walking!

Regardless, he had made it.  The place he had dreamt of visiting since he was a child.

His journey to this spot felt to him nothing short of a grand Narnian adventure.  However, at the end of his journey, Aslan was not there to greet him, no talking beavers, no icy queen . . . no, just a simple, modest, little house where the author of his childhood once lived with his brother.

The Kilns.

What stories this house could tell, he said with a smile, What imagination and wonder once filled this little home.

The house where the author sat with pen and creativity and strung together, like a weaver at a loom, words and syntax and adventure.  The words that would course through Jonathan’s early years and train his mind to think and wonder and explore.

He stood a long while, just staring at this small dwelling.  He pictured people coming and going.  He heard conversations over dinner and tea.  The smell of pipe smoke and the sound of hearty, thunderous laughing.  He felt a kindred spirit with a man who died several years before he was born.  A man who lived an ocean and lifetime away.  Yet, still, he felt it.  And it was real.

One last stop he thought, as he passed by the wilderness preserve that now surrounded the house.

On to the old church and the cemetery.  And there, just as he had seen in pictures, was the grave site of C.S.L.  It almost felt to him as if he was visiting the grave of a long, lost friend.

He sat there for a couple of hours, reading through Lewis’ words in his mind.  Memorable phrases, entire sentences, even paragraphs came back to him as he sat quietly.  He felt something that must be what magic felt like, he thought.

A simplicity, a wonderment, a magic . . . a weight of glory, to use C.S.L.’s own words.

He thought how special this place was to him.  How he wished he would have known him.  How his writings and words meant so much to him; so much to his heart and mind.

And so he continued to sit and to think and to say his good-byes.

Remember that all worlds draw to an end and that noble death is a treasure which no one is too poor to buy. (C of N)


Posted by on June 3, 2013 in Short Fiction


Tags: , , , , , , ,

8 responses to “Beyond the Shadowlands . . . (Short Fiction)

  1. Beth Murray

    June 4, 2013 at 7:05 am

    Somewhere when you were talking about the three year old and her shyness, you failed to mention looking for Easter eggs in the air!!!!

  2. Beth Murray

    June 4, 2013 at 7:09 am

    Also, I may be biased, but when you are as good-looking as you are, let them look at you!!! You will only get better looking with age, but then you did take after my side of the family. (haha)

  3. Cinnwriter

    June 4, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Ha! I was right. When I saw the title, I wondered whether C.S. Lewis was involved. One of my favorite authors. Really appreciated going along on this quest.

    • Timothy Murray

      June 4, 2013 at 8:12 pm

      Very good Cinnwriter. I tried to mask the identity as long as possible, but I decided to go ahead and use his name.


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