Ashley Wilda

Author

Month: July 2015

Run: Update and Snippet

Yesterday I completed the first draft of my contemporary young adult novella, Run!  Below is a short sneak peek:

 

Pain.  Light.  Garbled noise.  Warm wetness seeping down my arm.  Gritty asphalt under my palms, my cheek.  Drifting between heady black and greyish white.

Footsteps.  Footsteps on my right.

“Brandon, get over here.”  The footsteps stop.  A presence crouches near me.  A whisper of breath on my hand, my face.  “Hey.”  The voice is soft.  “Hey, can you hear me?”  I force my eyes open, barely.  Crimson trails stain my limp fingers.  I bring the blurred face above into focus.  My mind, emotionless, collects details.  A boy.  Teenage.  Long, spiky blond hair.  Concerned brown eyes.  A hand, reaching…

Reaching?

My heartbeat flies.  My shallow breathing comes faster.  Memories flashing by.  Pain.  Screams.  Dark.  Hurt.  Trapped.  Pain.

His feather-light touch burns me, and I jerk back.  A growl builds in the back of my throat.  I strain to push myself up with energy I didn’t know I had, but fall back, having moved only a centimeter or two.

The boy has pulled back his hand.  “Hey, whoa there, sorry.  It’s okay, you’ll be fine.  I’m a friend, I’m not going to hurt you.”

Boots clomp to my left and stop near my shoulder.  My whole body tenses involuntarily.  My breath rasps, panicked, in my throat.

“My gosh.”  A deeper voice, distinctly male.  I feel a hand on my left wrist and jerk violently, crying out in fear and pain.  I can’t think, I can’t breathe…

The boy half rises.  “Back off, give her space.  She’s scared.”

Understatement.  Terrified, I’m terrified.

He bends close, purposefully making eye contact.  His eyes are gentle.  Pleading.  “Let me help.”

I don’t respond, I can barely comprehend his words… I’m kind of floating, floating, like I’m drifting off to sleep.  Help?  Why do I need help…  Sharp pain lances through my arm, and I cry out.  The sharpness brings focus.

“Please,” he’s saying.  “Let us help.”  He reaches out to me again, but pauses, his fingers hovering over mine.

I close the distance.  “Okay,” I say.

Wonder

There’s an essence that is one of the most precious in the universe.

An element that’s becoming increasingly rare.

A fleeting bit of childhood that slips through adult fingers almost without fail.

A shining bit of quicksilver undervalued and dismissed although it glints precious, almost extinct, right at your fingertips.

What is this treasure, you may ask?

Wonder.

Yes, wonder–that thing that you were born with and have somehow lost along the way.  That thing that sly time and this overrated experience called “growing up” have begun to strip from you.

And I’m telling you, no, begging you–hold on for dear life.  Yes, for your very life, reader–for life is much, much dimmer and dingier without wonder.

If you want to see what you once were, look at a child.  Really look.  Listen.  Feel.  Learn to recognize that thing that lights up their eyes when they gently cup the velvet petals of a white and yellow wildflower in their small fingers.  That thing that bubbles up in their laugh when they fly through the air on a tree swing, eyes closed, arms outstretched to embrace the breeze.  That thing that inhabits their voice when they bury their nose in the new spring grass and say, “It smells green,” or when they reach their hands up to the sky as if their fingers could graze the white, fluffy clouds and say, “They’re so soft.”

Next time you watch a child, don’t dismiss their antics as “childishness.”  Instead try to see the world through their eyes. Become like a child again.  Try to rediscover…

The story in a strain of wordless music.  The way a book can make your heart beat faster.  How a picture can take your breath away.  The excitement and eagerness and the dash of danger that floods you when you stand beneath the ocean waves.  The wildness that overtakes you when you sprint, barefoot, along the deserted shore.  The way the soaring of a hawk can lift your heart with it.  The way the feel of grass under your bare feet or the wriggle of a newly unearthed worm can make you giggle.  How a hug can be the safest place in the world.  How joy can be a whole-body experience, not just a thought.  How wonder can imbue your life with color again.

Take nothing for granted.  Seek out every little beauty, for there is beauty in everything.  Wonder is hidden in plentiful pockets and caches for the open-hearted treasure hunter, if we will only seek.  And this lifelong search just keeps on giving.

Will you become a seeker?

Not a Tame Lion

We do this–put him in a box.

A safe box.  An ordinary box.  A decidedly normal, smiley, unmessy, unradical box.

So when we hear about miracles, healings, spurts of uncontained joy and the roaring of the Spirit–somehow we manage to cover our ears and say, “It can’t be real.”

Not only is it too good to be true, it’s too scary to be true.

We don’t want action to be required of us.  We want to stay comfortable and safe in our sane if a bit dull little worlds. Sitting in nice houses with nice jobs and nice friends and nice hobbies.  And yes, these are all good things.

But not at the expense of ignoring the call.

You know, the call.  The call of the Lion.  That great roaring, that’s decidedly not safe, but also undeniably thrilling, wild, and good.  The rebel in each of us is drawn to that echoing, commanding, immediate call.  It’s the same drawing that we all feel when listening to tales of intrepid explorers facing imminent danger and insurmountable odds, ignoring the naysayers and the danger signs, fighting through the evil until they attain the unimaginable… the uncharted mountain summit.  We hear the tales of their struggles and follow their progress, trying to appear not too eager, but inwardly our heart sings when we hear their victory shouts at the peak, standing with arms spread among the wheeling of the eagles.

We feel this.  This defiance.  This urge to set off on adventure of the mind and body and soul and suffer a bit and push through and do great, never-done-before things.  This is what the call awakens in us… and once fully realized, it can never be unheard, never quieted.

No one can ignore a Lion roaring in his face for long.

Unless, of course, he is deaf–made deaf by his own luxuries and fears and expectations.  By the world’s acceptance and even endorsement of small hearts and little love.

So unstop your ears, sleeper.  Take up your belongings tied in a bandanna on a stick, dreamer.  Lace up your sturdy shoes, adventurer.  For this will be the greatest adventure of your life.

Follow the Lion.  For he his wild.  He is dangerous.  He is powerful.  He is defiant.  He is radical.  And he is free.

And so are you.

“‘Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.’ ‘Ooh!’ said Susan, ‘I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion’…’Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver; ‘don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.'” -C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

“‘He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.'” -C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Girl, without the Y

When I was younger, I hated the fact I wasn’t born a boy.

I hated having to smell nice, look nice, act nice.  I wanted the oft’ wryly said phrase “boys will be boys” to apply to me.  I wanted to live “free and in the wild,” as I told my parents.  To own a horse in my backyard.  For ages I firmly believed I didn’t want a husband, ’til one day I declared I had changed my mind–he would be useful for shoveling horse poo.

Although my opinions about being a girl have slightly changed (I do want to marry, and not just to acquire a stable boy), there are still many things about being a girl that bug me to no end.  Crossing my legs the feminine way.  Wearing skirts that force me to shorten my steps.  Shaving–completely unnecessary in my opinion.  The inability to wrestle with the guys.  The shortage of girls that don’t mind blood and sweat and dirt and good hard work and adventures and wild places experienced fully and up close.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized one thing…

My version of femininity is up to me and God.

I can be a girl without the “y”… being “girly” does not have to be part and parcel of being a female.

So this… this is what has risen up in the soul of me and trumpeted itself clear and I will not disobey its call.

I will go barefoot as much as possible.  Run in the rain.  Laugh loud and hearty.  Splash in puddles.  Play in the mud.  I will wrestle when I can.  Play stupid pain games with the boys.  Be more comfortable with proving myself physically than in petty social games.   Ooh and ahh over fuzzy green moss rather than flowers.  I can shout loud and try hard and grunt and strain with the best of them.  I can climb tall cliffs and swim in freezing lakes and splash up forest streams without a care.   I can get psyched at the growing callouses on my hands and feet.  Take pictures of flappers and blood blisters, battle wounds.  Be proud of every single one of my scars, and know the stories that I carry with them.  I can love big, and love hard, and love unreservedly.  I can prefer bear hugs over side hugs.  I can choose jeans and flip flops over dresses and jewelry.  I can love bright colors over pastels and lace.  I can feel most comfortable in a tank-top, flannel, and hiking boots.  I will prefer to eat my food simple and outside and end the days with campfires.  I can smell like wood smoke and good ol’ hard work.  I can howl at the moon when I feel like it, star spin when I feel like it, pick my crazy friends how I feel like it.  Love like my heart’s leading me, laugh as joy explodes with in me, be free and wild when the urges overtake me.  I can be impulsive.  I can be silly.  I can be adventurous.  I can be me.

Me, Ashley Elizabeth Wilda.  Or just Ash, what my closest friends call me.

A woman.  A girl.

Not girl-y… no, just a girl.

But still me.

And I like myself better for it.

Missing You

You know–that core inside.

That place in your chest, beyond the bone, beyond the muscle, a place you just can’t physically reach.  You.  Your soul, I guess.

The place you feel things.

Deep things.

Inescapable things.

You know, that place inside that just. plain. hurts.

When I’m going about my day, and something’s just all wrong, and I’m grumpy and snappy and just feeling sick and dead inside and in a word just “meh” and “bleh” and I can’t for the life of me figure out why–

I remember.

You.

When something just feels dead inside.  Hollow full of aching.  Grey.  Hard flaking.  Lonely.

And then I remember saying goodbye, and hugging harder and longer than normal, and fighting the tears I didn’t expect to come.  I thought I wasn’t going to fall apart.  I was dead wrong.  I completely lost it.  I watched your cute blue car drive away and just lost it.  And then did it again.  And again.  And again.  A few minutes later.  An hour later.  A day later.

My heart just dang hurts.

I do stupid things like wear your necklace around and finger the scrap of paper on which you gave me your email address when we met those four years ago.  Has it really been that long?  I remember all the things we did and all the things we wanted to do and I wanted to say and we never did.

I remember things.  Your sunscreeny, sunshine-on-skin smell.  The braided permanent bracelet you always wore for four long years and your wrist just looks naked and wrong without it.  Your double chaco tan.  The way we wrote letters, real letters, while you were at camp, giddy with the unexpected, explosive joy of fourteen year old bff love.  The blue and yellow friendship bracelet you sent me that summer.  How I can’t help but stop singing for a moment in church, just to hear your voice.  The times spent splashing in the creek.  That one afternoon I sprayed you in the face with the hose.  How you can’t eat fried chicken without having a minor, greasy-fingered panic attack.

It’s these moments.  I’m holding on.  To them.  To you.  Holding on tight.  Forever.  That’s a promise–you better believe it.

I keep reminding myself–it’s just college.  Nothing’s going to change, you told me yourself.  And I believe you.  I really, truly do.  But it still hurts.

I can’t talk to anyone like that but you.  Can’t do stupid things with anyone like that but you.  Can’t completely be myself like that with anyone but you.  You do more than not judge me.  More than be like that with me, like the twin of my soul.  You love me.

And I love you.

And just as I’m beginning to handle one missing, begin to stop dreaming ceaseless dreamings of odd, earthy adventures and best-in-the-world bear hugs, begin to stop obsessing over silly phrases and weird ways to tie knots–just when I stop randomly crying all the time for no reason at all and diagnosing myself via the internet…

then you leave.

I had forgotten that you had to leave.

I still forget that you have left.

And even though you’re technically still in the city for a scant two more days, our goodbyes have been said.

And although I know that with us, it’s never really goodbye, that the late night talks and unstoppable giggles and sisterly hugs can only be numbered with infinities…

I wish we could just dance in the rain together, forever.

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”

-Winnie the Pooh

Legacy

Life–what do I want out of it.

In the end, what matters most.  In the end, what will I regret missing.  In the end, what will leave me satisfied.  In the end, what will leave the mark I want, the legacy that shines in the dark.  Me.

Live Fiercely.

I wanna live fiercely, clutch at every moment, hold on with a literal death-grip, ’cause we’re all dying.  I wanna jump out of planes and climb cliffs and punch hard and sing loud and loopy in the car at night on a mountain road.  I wanna spin through meadows full of sunshine and multicolored pinpoints of waving wildflowers.  I want my soul to fly fly fly on a warm summer breeze.  I wanna wade deep in ice-cold lakes and laugh breathlessly as the blue blue waters lap on bare tanning skin.  I want to let orange lizards crawl dry-sticky up and over my arms and laugh at flutting butterflies, pieces of sky, landing on my smelly shoes.  I want to run in the rain, barefoot through the grass, she and I laughing at the sky while the thunder booms.  I want to giggle at every crazy car ride and splash in every single puddle.  I wanna live to the fullest and laugh the most, ’cause everyone needs a little life in our lives.  We take it all too serious and need to take risks and let go and let be and just live and be alive, every nerve tingling, aware of each and every breath, like a gift.  We were never meant to live like we’re dead, but instead live like we’re dying.

But more than that.  Oh, more than that–

I wanna Love Well.

Yes, love well.  Love BIG.  Love free, love unafraid.  I wanna love vulnerable, because it’s impossible to love without opening up your heart wide and being okay with getting hurt–and it’s gonna happen sometimes.  But loving big means you get loved big back, and that’s the best feeling in the whole wide world, the greatest freedom, the greatest adventure of all.  And when I’m lonely and sad and there’s a big ache where my heart’s supposed to be, I’ll remember–remember his big strong arms around me, making me feel like nothing in the world could touch me, could harm me, unless he let it, which he never will.  Remember her perfect brown eyes, the way they smile at me, the way they say you’re my very bestest friend and nothing’s gonna change that.  Or the way he laughs, silly and free, the way he’s always looking over at me, watching out for me, making sure I’m okay.  The way she tells me that she’ll always be there and it’s gonna be all right.  Friends.  Family.  Friends-Family.  And I know I’m not alone, that I never was, and that I never will.  When you love hard, it’s gonna hurt sometimes.  You worry, you ache, you pray and plead.  That place in your chest is gonna feel plain hollow with the magnitude of that love.  But I’m gonna love recklessly anyway–’cause I’ll get loved recklessly back.  I’m gonna open my arms wide and they’ll never be empty.

Because if we’re supposed to live like we’re dying, even more so we’re supposed to love like we’re living… like we’re gonna live forever.

Yeah–when I’m gone and dead and just a memory in people’s heads… that’s what I want them to remember.

My life-loving laugh, and the feel of my arms around them, never letting go.

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