To Feel, A Modern Tale (09.20.11) — The Conclusion

It was 263 days ago that I started a unique creative journey. Aside from the fun I’ve had this year doing my monthly Five to Try creative experiment where I try or experience five new things or places every month, I also embarked on a different trip – a much tougher one to travel and far more challenging than I expected. I decided to create a short story, no plan in place and no direction in mind, with only one goal: to write a paragraph a day.

Have you ever thought about taking part in such a creative experiment yourself? Maybe a sentence a day or some other creative measurement to assess and enjoy later. Last year, I did a Photo-A-Day blog taking one picture each day of something to represent that particular day and it was a fun exercise but again one requiring a lot of time and commitment.

I wasn’t sure when this journey would end – I certainly couldn’t plan the exact number of paragraphs I would need to finish it. But nearly 19,000 words later, and I’ve determined that this story and experiment has reached its conclusion. Five to Try will continue of course for the remainder of 2011, but I bid a fond farewell to Chloe, Ecker, Lu, Hal and the residents of CarthMoore, in this conclusion to To Feel, A Modern Tale.

And remember, if you haven’t followed along, catch previous chapter links listed below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading.


CHAPTER ONE <Click here for all of CHAPTER ONE.>

CHAPTER TWO <Click here for all of CHAPTER TWO.>

CHAPTER THREE <Click here for all of CHAPTER THREE.>

CHAPTER FOUR <Click here for all of CHAPTER FOUR.>

CHAPTER FIVE <Click here for all of CHAPTER FIVE.>

CHAPTER SIX <Click here for all of CHAPTER SIX.>

CHAPTER SEVEN <Click here for all of CHAPTER SEVEN.>

CHAPTER EIGHT <Click here for all of CHAPTER EIGHT.>

CHAPTER NINE <Click here for all of CHAPTER NINE.>

CHAPTER TEN <Click here for all of CHAPTER TEN.>

CHAPTER ELEVEN <Click here for all of CHAPTER ELEVEN.>


“Are you sure you have everything?” Lu shrieked as Chloe scrambled to grab everything around what had become her room for these many years and stuff all of it into one long slender duffel. “Don’t forget your book!” The old woman handed Chloe an old battered copy of Gulliver’s Travels. The young girl had found great comfort in the Jonathan Swift classic reading and re-reading it multiple times since landing in her new home.

“Yes, I believe I do have everything I need,” Chloe paused and put one of her hands on her hip, her other hand resting gently on her lips as she scanned the room and took in the sight for what could be one last time, she thought to herself.

As the young woman moved about the room, she contemplated whether or not she would ever set foot into this room again. She wondered whether or not she would ever sit at that letter desk and write notes she could never send to her dear friend Ecker who was rescuing her today. And she could never be sure whether or not she and Ecker would ever be able to stop at Carthmoore again and see Lu. As this thought began to solidify in her mind, she stopped scanning the room and focused her attention on Lu, who sat along the edge of the bed and lifted the quilt bottom in search for any items which might have rolled under the bed during packing.

“You could clean under here once in a while,” Lu quietly barked, leading Chloe to smile to herself at this woman who she had learned a long time ago could not get through any stretch of conversation without pointing out at least one thing that needed improvement.

Chloe chuckled a little. “What will I do without you there to tell me when I need to wash my boots or that my shirt’s too wrinkled?” She smiled over at Lu and reached forward to touch her arm, but Lu who hung her head low would not look at the girl. “Lu, are you okay?”

The old woman gently pulled away from the bed and from Chloe and walked to the doorway, laying down on the chair at the entrance a small, plush stuffed dog with still perfectly tailored seams and a bright blue bow that Chloe recognized must be an item from a stowed away toy chest Lu had told her about. It was to be for Lu’s son one day but that day never happened as Lu and Hal welcomed him and hugged him goodbye in the same day he came into the world. Lu had come to call her son Johnny, though Hal had protested use of the name, saying that it would only continue to hurt them more each and every day.

Chloe picked up the stuffed animal and held it against her cheeks. “Mind if I take him?” she said and motioned to the little dog. “We could show him the universe.”

Lu smiled at the girl and reached toward the toy dog to pet it one last time. “Yes, I think he would like that,” and she turned to leave the room, suddenly turning back to Chloe. “Oh wait, you have to name him. He can’t be traveling around the universe if he doesn’t have a name.”

Chloe sat down on the side of the bed and plunked the stuffed animal on her lap. “How about Johnny?” And with that, Lu’s eyes filled with water. “Then Johnny it is.” Chloe leapt up off the bed and put her arms around Lu’s shoulders as the two headed back into the hallway.

“Ecker?” Chloe called to him. “Ecker?” She searched the other rooms but her friend was nowhere to be found. “I’m sure he just had to check on something or run into town for something.” Maybe he was picking up supplies for their journey that lay ahead. Even Chloe didn’t fully understand the obstacles before them, but she knew that there would be others looking for them at every turn, and she was not about to endanger the life of the person who meant the most to her, the woman who had cared for her when no one else even knew where the young girl had come from or her reasons.

Nobody then or now knew anything about Element N yet they lived among it all of the time here in CarthMoore, and Chloe had a hunch that if they stayed in this world, they would come upon Element N again. Now that she had experienced it for herself, she was hesitant to stray too far away from this world she had come to know as home.

Chloe looked out the front window and saw Ecker hiking up the steep hill. She ran to the door to greet him. “Hey, I thought I’d lost you again,” she said with a sheepish grin.

“Never,” Ecker stared her down firmly with a sly smile. “You’re stuck with me this time around.”

Lu came to join them at the front of the house and knew the pair would have to leave soon, because a lot of travel awaited them. “Are you going to be leaving now?”

Ecker stood before Lu and stretched out his arms to a woman who up until his visit, rarely touched a stranger’s arm let alone embraced in a warm, loving hug. But now as she hugged him back, Chloe could see the woman’s affection had finally reached the surface after almost nine years of hiding it from the world. “I like this picture,” Chloe said admiring the two in their embrace.

Lu pulled back from Ecker. “Oh, who wouldn’t want to hug this one,” Lu said with a hearty laugh.  “Besides, it may be a while before I hear from you two. Do you know where you’re headed?” She gazed back and forth at each of them as Chloe and Ecker looked at each other in what appeared to the old woman as affection and a little uncertainty. “Well, surely you’ve made that decision already!”

Ecker grabbed Chloe’s bulging duffel and reached out to hold her hand with his one free grasp. “Whenever we’ve had plans and coordinates, it’s never worked out in the past. Something tells me this time it might be more helpful to just go whichever way the wind takes us.” He headed for the door with the duffel over his shoulder and looked back at Lu. “I really like my new satchel,” he said and pointed to the corduroy bag slung over his other shoulder.

“When you said you were staying a few weeks before leaving, I knew I had time to whip up something useful for your trip,” Lu clasped her hands in front of her. “I’m glad you like it, Ecker.” She paused and took a deep breath. “It’s the least I can do for you taking care of my girl.”

“Our girl,” he corrected her, smiled and headed toward the rocks where Hal had first met Chloe so many years ago.

Chloe had sneaked away again for one last peek into the bedroom and now returned to the front door to join everybody. “I think that’s it. We’re set,” she said firmly, still clutching Gulliver’s Travels and her other new traveling companion, the stuffed mutt. “Are you going to be okay?” She looked seriously now at the old woman and reached out to hug her.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m going to be fine,” Lu said in a hushed tone and held on tight to the young girl. “I just wish I knew where you were going and that you will be okay.”

Chloe let go just enough so she could pull back and gaze at the face of this tired woman whom she had grown to know as mom. “I didn’t think I would ever find Element-” she caught herself. “I had never known the love and caring of a family until I came here. You showed me that, you and Hal. I learned what’s expected of you as part of a family and what you can expect, and I just hope someday I can return the favor to someone else.” Chloe turned and held up little Johnny again as she smiled and giggled, then headed outside to join Ecker.

 As she watched Chloe walk across the graveled pathway over to the same rocks where the young girl had once perched waiting for her friend, the friend who never came, until now, Lu let the tears flow. ‘You did, Chloe. You did,” she said.

Chloe approached Ecker, as the young man laid down their belongings and quickly came forward to meet her and reached out his hand. “You’re not going to let go this time, right?” she teased her friend and thumped the side of his arm lovingly.

Ecker pushed away a strand of hair that kept falling across her face. He could tell she had been crying and stroked her still damp cheeks. “I won’t let you go. That’s a promise,” he said.

The two stood up their items beside them next to the rocks, and prepared for their departure. Chloe gazed upon the house and thought she saw Lu still peeking out of the front window. Soon she would be light years away, unless they decided to stay somewhere else in this universe, but they would always run the risk of being discovered.

No, they would leave for good and go far, far away. No more Lu. No more CarthMoore. No more Earth. And no more returns to their own planet either. But this was okay, Chloe thought. For they were not alone anymore. They had each other.

And in a flash, they were gone.



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