I am pleased to report that my flash fiction piece, “A Brother’s Gift” has been accepted for publication at the Provo Canyon Review, a print literary journal. I am especially pleased about this because I rather impulsively submitted it when I saw the Provo Canyon Review’s Call for Submissions. This is a very short piece, but the editors said they liked the tone and also thought it was “A refreshing and moving look at grief and the true emotional impact of such a loss.”

I am happy. Here it is in case you missed it first time round.

A Brother’s Gift

Mary Lou Holder sank down next to her brother, the one who was dying of cancer, and started pulling on the bright red bow of the gift he had just handed her. “This is sweet, Jake, that you’ve gotten me a present. You know you didn’t have to…”

Jacob, twenty-five-years-old, smiled at his younger sister, “Are you kidding? For the rest of your life you’d be thinking what a self-absorbed clod I was for not honoring your 21st birthday. That’s not the legacy I had in mind.”

Mary Lou stifled a sigh and instead ripped the bright purple paper that covered the small box. She raised the lid and looked inside. “You’ve gotten me some Hindu or Buddhist god?” she said, lifting the brass statue up and peering at the multi-armed male standing in a circle with his leg raised as if dancing. “I didn’t know you were now practicing an Asian religion.”

Jacob smiled, his jaundiced complexion making his teeth look especially white in contrast. “I just can’t get my mind around Christianity right now. I am feeling a little more attuned with Hinduism at the moment. This is Shiva, the god of Destruction.”

Bringing the stature closer, Mary Lou stared intently at the small figure. “He looks more like he’s celebrating life then doing anything related to destruction. He’s dancing, for God’s sake.”

“The Hindus calls this one the Dancing Shiva Nataraja. They believe that he is engaged in a cosmic dance and when he finishes, the universe will be destroyed, making way for a new one.”

“Death and rebirth?” Mary Lou said, poking her brother gently. “Do I sense a theme here?”

“I have to admit that reincarnation is looking better and better to me,” Jacob chuckled, settling back on his fluffed up bed pillows. “Please don’t judge me.”

Mary Lou cradled the statue in her hand. “Judge you? I can’t imagine what it’s like to be you. You are braver than I would ever be.”

“Necessity is the mother of invention, though I don’t really think that quote quite works here.”

“Are you afraid?”

“I’m tired,” Jacob said, flatly. “Afraid was a while back. Now, I’m ready for the next phase, the dance to end so that destruction can occur and new life can begin.”

Mary Lou turned her face so her brother couldn’t see her tears. “You’ve put up a good fight,” she half-whispered.

Jacob patted her hand. “When you look at Shiva, I want you to think about a new dance beginning for me. I will be happy for that day to come.”

Mary Lou sat with her brother until he fell asleep, then she tucked her gift into her handbag. She leaned over, kissed his warm cheek good-bye and tip-toed out of the hospital room. When she opened the door to her apartment and switched on the light, a group of her friends jumped up and shouted, “Surprise! Happy birthday.”

Two weeks later at 3 am, Mary Lou’s telephone rang, waking her out of a dead sleep. “He’s gone,” she heard her mother say. As Mary Lou muttered a quick good-bye, she gazed at the statue of Shiva on her bedside table. “A new dance begins, sweet brother,” she said. “Enjoy the celebration.”

Shiva Nataraja

16 Comments Add yours

  1. rnee1000 says:

    Congratulations! What a wonderful story! You go girl! Renee


    1. Thanks, Renee. See you soon!

  2. Congratulations, Len. Yes, I remember reading this one. It’s a heartwarming story, one that gives the reader (me) ‘feelings’.

    1. Yes, Tess, your comment when I posted that story was one of the reasons that I hastily sent it off. I should be thanking you!

      1. *smiles*
        You did the magic, Len.

  3. Reblogged this on writingontherim and commented:
    A writing colleague posted this on her blog today. It expresses so much of what I feel about so many things that I just had to reblog it. As soon as I finish this reblog, I am going to look for one of these statues for myself. Here’s to a fabulous today and a creative, adventurous future.

    1. Thank you, Juliana. I appreciate that positive feedback!

  4. I liked this so much and it felt so close to how I feel myself about so many things that I reblogged it on my own blog. Congratulations!!!

    1. I’m glad this hit home for you, Juliana. Thank you so much for reblogging it. I appreciate that.

  5. Pamela Hancock says:

    Love this story about you and your brother. I lost m 55 ear old brother to colon cancer. It was one of the most difficult losses I have gone through yet. Thanks again for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Pam. Yes, losing a close brother is a tough one. I’m sorry for your loss. I remember when my brother told me he had terminal cancer, I sat on the edge of my bed after the phone call stricken with such grief. Hugs to you, my friend.

  6. Pat St. John says:

    Congratulations, dear!

    1. Thanks, Pat. Always nice news to get!

  7. Baxter Clare says:

    Congratulations. Nice piece/peace. I hope I’m as brave as Jacob, and I have to admit, I am a bit curious about the next stage of the journey:)

    1. Thank you for your comments. Yes, Jacob is brave. I hope I’m that brave, too.

  8. ladywinfred says:

    Congratulations, Len. It IS such a beautiful, warm story that people everywhere should have a chance to read it. Thanks for sharing it again.

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