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  • DEBUT NOVEL: The Shadow of Our Stars

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    The Shadow of Our Stars can be found for sale as an ebook or paperback exclusively on Amazon.com by clicking here.

  • Iris

    Hazel eyes, kaleidoscope skies
    Window's rolled down
    Bodies bound in ties
    There's no disguise
    Just you
    And I.
    Fresh air
    Mountain peaks
    Oceans blues
    ADVENTURE BLOOMS.
    Homeward
    Onward
    Skyward
    Hand
    in 
    Hand
    Today
    Tomorrow
    Yesterday
    And always
    My iris
    My lover
    My muse
    Mine. 
    
    
    
  • Goldbloom’s Meeting with God

    Death was not as entitled of a business venture as Mr. Goldbloom thought. You see, being the head of New York’s most prestigious law firm didn’t buy you a whole lot in the afterlife. The gold brinks secured behind his closet safe were of no monetary use now. And the plentiful stash of Ben Franklins stored in his Wall Street bank account wasn’t accepted as legal tender. You see, greed only gets you so far in life. The toll it takes on their victims will wither your bones if I tell you, but you understand that Mr. Goldbloom had a plan which would put right any confusion after his unfortunate death. But none of that will make any sense until later, Mr. Goldbloom is now very much deceased and his plan for the afterlife was in motion. 

    As a golden-skinned man in robes of white approaches, a narcissistic pride covers the face of Goldbloom. He has made it and now it is time for his next business venture. May it be mightier than the last, he thought to himself. 

    “This is heaven,” Goldbloom said, observing the man he believes to be God.

    “And you are Evan Edwin Goldbloom,” The Man responded. “I have waited this day for a long while.” 

    “And you must be God? Ruler and King of all?” Evan asked, snorting in the process.   

    “I am Him who you claim me to be,” God said. “But Evan before we discuss all of that, there are a few matters at hand. You stand before me to be judged, upon the entrance to Heaven, to be found guilty of sin, and yet I ask you one simple question. Why is it that you deserve to be allowed in?”

    There were plenty of ways Evan wanted to answer but none came out nearly as smooth as what he said next. “I have achieved beyond that of any person on Earth. I have succeeded in all my affairs and accumulated wealth so overwhelmingly large, that it adds to the sum of their own, combined. To consider me unworthy is to be blind.”

    God response was hesitated.

    “That is not the answer that my question seeks,” God said in a blunt manner. “Why is it that you deserve to be let into the Kingdom of Heaven? What have you done to prove yourself worthy?” 

    “Like I said, I am rich. I’ve got a coffin made of solid gold and my firm thrives even after my departure,” Evan explained, but God did not react in the way he was accustomed to. There was no intimidation factor helping sway God’s decision. There wasn’t a form of bribery that would work on the King himself. 

    “Are you worthy of Heaven?” God asked again. 

    “Haven’t you heard me? I’m wealthy beyond all-human-measure. There is no one better than I, and for that you should bestow me upon Heaven. I am the best that Heaven has ever seen!”

    There was a tap on Evan’s shoulder blade. A small withered old woman with a tennis balled walker clutched in her hands jogged behind him.

    “Oh jolly, the good Lord,” said a toothless grin. “I cannot dare look you in the eyes for too long. I am not worthy of your gaze.” 

    “Mrs. Polly Anne Peteridge, I welcome you at last,” God said, with a returning grin. “Polly, my dear, why is it that you deserve to enter the kingdom of Heaven?”

    Evan stood aside as God drew nearer to Polly. 

    “Truthfully, I don’t deserve it. Not a single bit,” Polly said with a faint tear in her eye. “But I believe in what it is that Your Son did for me—for us all. I’ve placed my faith in you ever since I was a little girl and I hope—well I’m not fraud—”

    “Your heart is pure and your honesty is heartwarming,” God said. “I welcome you home.”

    Polly felt the strength in her arms grow and the youthfulness of her earlier days return. She gave God a thankful smile with pearly white teeth and entered Heaven. Home at Last. 

    The spectacle was beyond the comprehension of Evan’s mind, and he knew at once it was what he wanted as well, to feel and look in his prime again. 

    “Sir—God,” Evan said correcting himself. “I just wanted to say—”

    Another person appeared behind Evan. This time it was an African man with the aid of a mechanical wheelchair. 

    “Fredrick Jackob Robinson,” God announced, his voice was like thunder. 

    “L-lord, oh Lord,” Fredrick fell to his knees, jumping from his wheelchair. “H-h-have mercy on me.” 

    God greeted Fredrick with a helping hand and pulled Fredrick to his feet. A wave of shock ran over Fredrick’s weak body as he took his first steps in over thirty-years. 

    “I am not worthy,” Fredrick cried, tears streamed down his wrinkly face. “I’ve not done as much as I should—” 

    “Wait one second!” Evan exclaimed. “Him? You wish to help him. He looks like he’s lived under a bridge with a needle in his arm his entire life!” 

    God whispered a message into Fredrick’s ear and he was welcomed home into the Kingdom of Heaven. 

    “You’re a counterfeit Mr. Goldbloom,” were Fredrick’s final words as he passed onward.

    “It is not your responsibility to question my decisions,” God roared. The ground below Goldbloom’s feet shook with authority. 

    “You are allowing those— scum into heaven and you wouldn’t allow a man like me? You muddied up the place! I will not be seen with those kinds of people!” 

    God lowered his head in disappointent. “You are all my children. But you, Evan Edwin Goldbloom have failed to see what is good in your heart. You are corrupted by greed and you have idolized your wealth. There is no such place for a person like you in my house. I shall pass judgment!”

    There was a tremor, and then a crack opened in the floor and Mr. Goldbloom fell down and down, deeper and deeper into a pit of misery. Hell. The bright light was reduced to a dark gloom. 

    “Hello?” Goldbloom cried out. “Is anyone there?” 

    Suddenly, ghostly souls floated to greet him. Goldbloom shrieked in horror as he witnessed their white auras. Lost and broken souls. Distant from all love and kindness. Goldbloom’s skin started to crawl as the ghosts together transformed into a silhouette of the life he used to know. He was taken back to his waterfront mansion where people in the masses funneled through his great large iron front doors. A party was underway and the guests were dressed in their finest clothes. 

    “A celebration?” Goldbloom smiled. “For me?”

    One of the ghost came to stand on Goldbloom’s right side. “But what type?” the cold voice whispered. 

    They entered together inside his familiar walls and witnessed the spectacle. It was indeed a party. It was indeed a celebration, but not for his life, instead, for his death. Bottles of champagne poured violently into his finest crystal glass, and Frank, who was his trusted family butler, was cheery faced. 

    “And may the man rue all that he has done to us in the dark depths of his own loneliness!” The crowd shouted as Frank concluded his address. “Now, take whatever it is you’d like and have a merry night! I’ve inherited quite a fortune and I intend on paying it forward— to you all!” 

    Goldbloom was in utter shock from what he was seeing. As he and the ghost bounced from posse to posse, each one had their unkind and bitter remarks when it came to him. All of which, he would’ve viewed as friends. 

    “I remember he fired someone for not having wing-tipped shoes. The poor man went broke and robbed a bank. Now his entire family visits him at the plot where he is buried. Quite tragic,” said an older woman with beet red lipstick and a black shall. 

    “There was another time when Mr. Goldbloom bought an entire hotel just to prove he was wealthy enough. Put the entire place out of business and fired everyone the next week. It was an awful sight.” 

    Over the course of the night, Goldbloom was witness to all the wrong-doings and vile things he’d made people suffer at his hands. But it wasn’t until he went to be by Frank’s side that he got the truth of it all. As he had no surviving heirs of any kind, he instructed his power of attorney, Frank to have the gold bricks melted down into a casket worthy of his success for his body to be placed in. There was a plot purchase in a well-off cemetery and what remained of the money would be reinvested into his law firm to ensure its continuation for generations to come.

    But as Goldbloom continued to eavesdrop on the living, he discovered Frank had patiently awaited his death with great joy. A clause under article three of the Goldbloom’s will gave Frank complete control over all decisions on the matter regarding assets. Sure there were a few occasions where fellow associates begged for their portion of the pie, but Frank intended to hoard the lot of it all for himself. Not a penny would be seen after Goldbloom’s death. Old money would transition into new hands the way you’d expect in the early 1800s and accounts were to be closed like colliding dominoes.   

    “I mean to leave tonight— after the party,” Frank whispered to an unknown associate. 

    “What will you do then?” the associate asked.

    “Destroy every bit of business with his legacy attached to it. One final way of saying goodbye,” he chuckled. “I have more money than he’d pay me in my lifetime and I intend on having some fun with it.” 

    The associate sneered and they exchanged a warm handshake, departing back into the sea of people that gossiped about Mr. Goldbloom. 

    The ghost whirled away from the image and showed Goldbloom his law firm. There was a party there too. All of his employees were celebrating. Goldbloom wished the image away and was taken to another. His grave. It was empty with no visitors. Weeds grew over it and eventually, the headstone cracked and vanished beneath the soil. Goldbloom would be forgotten to time and there wasn’t a person who cared to remember. 

    When the silhouette was over, the ghost floated in waiting as Goldbloom’s spirits were more damaged than ever. There was no saving him now, he thought to himself. Not even they want me to be with them, why would God welcome me into Heaven with all the grief that he’d caused others. 

    Goldbloom fell to his knees and the ghosts circled around him, waiting to take his soul. 

    “I am not worthy of this life or the next,” he said crying on his knees. “There isn’t a single person who mourns for me and I shouldn’t blame them. My money, wealth, and riches have hallowed me out as a person. I have become fueled by greed and shattered those in my path. To think, oh to think.  I am worse than any omen. I am evil himself! Oh please, oh please. What have I done? God have mercy on me. Please allow me to right the wrongs that I have caused.”

    Goldbloom continued his monologue for quite some time, begging for a way to repay those he hurt, but there was no option given to him. Goldbloom laid against the hard floor, surrounded by ghosts, and awaited to die. His final words were, “I will never be worthy of anyone’s forgiveness, but I ask for your forgiveness God. Allow me to die in peace knowing that I’ve attempted to have our account settled.” The words left his lips and so began his soul, but he felt his body being tugged along.

    The ghosts picked up Goldbloom’s limp body and rose into the air, floating upwards towards the same crack he fell down from. There, they placed him at the feet of their Lord God and Goldbloom awoke, surrounded by a welcoming home back into his true home. 

    God placed His Good hand’s on Evan’s body and he rose back the person he was before greed corrupted him. All the riches on his body turned to rags and his memories lifted away. 

    “What have you done?” Evan asked, as he attempted to find what was missing in himself but failed to do so.

    “I have returned you to the state you were before,” God said, “I have washed away your sins, mended your heart, and filled you with pure joy. You shall be welcome in Heaven for as long as you’d like.” 

    The gates swung open and Evan strolled inside.

    “Welcome home Evan Edwin Goldbloom,” said God.

  • London is Calling

    I fell into a daydream last winter. The last thing I recall, I was cozied up by the fire with a good book. But now, all I see are rainy days beneath strange clouds. Murky liquid flows in the river Thames. I step out of the red phone booth. Ravens are feasting on leftover tea and biscuits. I see the Union Jack waving in the wind coaxing me to get closer. There are black cabs and red buses. They fly by in a frenzy. People are honking their horns– a traffic jam. I flash to Poppies. I’m ordering fish and chips. I have a handful of gold coins in my hand. The streets welcome a stroll as I eat. I walk for ages, through ages. But then I see white stone columns with iron gates. Buckingham. The Queen’s Guard is changing. I join the other tourists in awe. “Ello, mate!” cries an overweight American. Departing, I venture to a public garden. Kensington Gardens. I see the boy who never grew up encased in bronze. He is to live through the ages long after I’ve gone. I listen to the ducks in the waterways and the fountains hum. It is serenity, pure, and blissful. Whimsically satisfying. And hopelessly romantic. If only I can stay a bit longer this time. There is still far more I’d like to do. But the study window blows open. The flames choke out. And my cat, Peter, knocks over my cup of coffee. And all I say is, “God save the Queen!”      

  • The Shadow of Our Stars Update!

    Announcement time: 

    It brings me great enthusiasm to share with you that my debut novel is coming up around the corner. I am aiming for a March of 2021 release. Whhhh! Who knew writing a book would be so complicated? Apart from writing the actual book, they’re tasks you must complete before the release date, and they are proving to be endless. Truthfully, I think the writing part comes easy when you take a moment to consider the marketing campaign ahead of you. Yuck! Marketing? I guess it would be an absolute dream to have a publishing house do it for you, wouldn’t it? But now I’m stuck with the job of convincing people to buy my book! I don’t know which mask I’ll put on this time, whether it be the mask of deception or thievery, whichever helps me spread the news. (An inside joke with myself). 

    Among the many items I have to cross off my list before this book is released, there is one that has sparked a trickle of hope to complete, the map of Evinar. I’d like to say first how much of a joy it was to work with Peter, the cartographer. All the way from the Netherlands, Peter was on top of every aspect when it came to communication. If you’re looking for a high-quality fantasy map to pair nicely with your fantasy novel or project I highly recommend maps_by_peter. I will attach a link to his gig if you’re interested, but without any further comments, I bring you the first look of Evinar in all its glory!

    All maps aside, the official synopsis has been pulled together with every fantasy tropes your little heart can desire. 

    In the shadowy lands of the Vail, nefarious evil plots to reclaim their stolen throne. The King’s reign has fallen silent. The Kingdom of Evinar is ripe for the taking. The stars have foretold of it. But a boy, a world away, is the only person standing in their path to victory. Abbott Bradbury resides in the quaint village of Woolbury and is nothing but ordinary. The caretaker to his unwell father, Abbott daydreams of wandering to countries far beyond his village borders. And when the annual Waxy Cap Hunt lures in a band of lively travelers, evil pursues closely behind.

    His father is taken, an unusual friendship begins, and powers beyond his perception weave silently through the lands of Evinar and tie straight back to home. Will Abbott find the courage buried deep within to confront the evil and overcome what haunts him most, or will it consume him entirely?

    And that brings me to my final piece of information, the cover reveal (which will be exclusively for the people reading this blog post.) Are you ready? Five…four…three… Oh, you get the point. Ta-da! 

    As I mentioned earlier, I am aiming for a March of 2021 release through Amazon’s self-publishing service, KDP. I will also be setting up a link on my blog to buy a copy directly through me in case you wanted it signed (hopefully, there are people out there who do). None the less, I am holding my breath in anticipation and eagerly waiting to start my next project, whether it be a crime novel or romantic comedy.  

    Cheers,

    Alexander

    The Tea Cup Writer

  • Carpe Diem!

    Under the guidance of burning wax, I’m wandering the narrow hallways of a castle. I see oil paintings of people lost forgotten— of people who ruled this stone keep long ago. My feet take me to the north hallway where I am forbidden to be. A desolate maple door separates my candlelight from what’s beyond. I can’t help myself. I turn the cold brass knob listening to the creaks in the floorboards beneath me. They’re warning me not to proceed. But I must. I have to. I’ve spent far too long imagining what lies inside but when the doorway opens, I see it. Sitting in the corner of the room right where I saw it in my dreams. A wardrobe like the one from Lewis’ children’s classic. Full of delight to see the country inside, I entered the wooden box and walk to the back like Lucy first did, but wood touches my fingertips. This isn’t meant to happen. Time passes as I search aimlessly through the dark. There is nothing. I step out of the wardrobe. Defeated. But before I have the time to reason, I notice I am not in the same castle I was before. No. This is different. I’m in a room stacked high with things that look out of sorts. There are mountains of books along with antique furniture stacked ornately high above me. A room of junk. A velvet case catches my eye. There are markings around the lid. They’re in another language. Elvish. My heart tells me. I lift the lid and find a single golden ring inside. It’s hung around a silver chain. Could this be? I slip the ring on my index finger and feel myself disappear from the room of odd things. And I find myself wandering back inside the caste with my burning wax, sleepwalking into another world. 

  • Halloween Short Story: Mysteries from the Past

    “Tonight’s gonna be a wild one,” Jessica said from the top of my cubicle. “The full moon makes everyone a bit looney and it’s Halloween. Spooky, eh?” 

    I shrugged my shoulders. Jessica was the superstitious kind of person. She read horoscopes, dabbled in palm reading, and believed in bad luck often burdening office conversations with it. I was skeptical. Truthfully, I thought she had a screw loose or something. “Another day like the rest,” I replied whilst collecting my things to my flat on the other side of town. From there, I took a cab to the subway station and then hopped on a train where I’d walk through Hathaway Park to reach my flat. It was a daunting commute. Perhaps one day I could afford a car. 

    After exiting the station, I entered Hathway Park on the final stretch home. There were ravens perched with bloodied eyes to welcome me. I averted my eyes elsewhere but then I heard a cough to my side. I fictitiously began sorting through the bushes– a few homeless men were attempting to keep warm from the October chills. It’s nothing. I told myself. But the lamppost above flickered like a dying firefly. The bulb must be going out. Then I saw a pair of crimson eyes staring at me through the dark. A cat. The park was ladened with them. No surprise. 

    My eyes darted upwards, cursing. The moon was full just like Jessica cleverly prophesied. A coincidence merely. These sorts of things do go hand in hand. I wouldn’t allow superstition to play tricks on me. Halloween was a joke after all. 

    I proceeded by the moon’s courtesy, but then I heard a wailing noise echoing from the otherside of the park. It caught me off guard and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up in alertness. 

    HELP!” they screamed. 

    I started in a jog and broke off into a run. I didn’t know if my legs were leading me to the safety of my flat or straight into the mouth of danger. I found myself deeper into the timber than I’d wanted, surrounded by mindlessness. That’s when I saw it. A woman knelt over, floating above the sticks. I could only faintly see her. She was sobbing over the body of a man.

    “What’s happened?” I asked anxiously, taking no note of the abnormality.  

    “He’s dead,” she whimpered tearfully. “It was an accident– an accident I swear. I didn’t mean for it to happen.”

    My eyes welled up uncontrollably. I was shocked. Paralized. I knew who he was.  

    “Please, don’t tell anyone. It would ruin my life. I’m only a child.” 

    I was gazing into a mirror. A lost memory from my past. She was me ten years ago. I’d forgotten entirely about it. My mind had purged it from my brain. But here I was. Hathaway Park had twisted into the depths of my darkest nightmare. I wondered if I could make it out alive. One more time… 

  • Writers

    Paperbacks, Hardbacks, and eBooks. 
    Their white pages remind us,
    of the person in the mirror, 
    before a few words changed our very lives.
    
    You find escapism in the printed.
    What a profound impact ideas can have on us all,
    whether they be fictional or reality. 
    To books, they are everything.
    The taste of a fresh baked peach pie, 
    or the way the snow flurries in the winter.
    
    Writers have a responsibility.
    We entrust in them without knowing,
    and in moments of darkness,
    we lean on them without permission.
    How impolite of us all?
    
    To the many, I say thanks.
    To myself, I smile awkwardly.
    The world is a far better place with writers,
    whether you wish to argue or not.
    They transform our hearts, 
    and leave them,
    more whimsical than before. 
  • The Extraordinarily Dull Life of Mr. Nicolas Fletcher and a Magical Thimble Part I : The Package

    A man’s life can easily be summed up in a matter of one sentence.

    Jacobb Bouwer was a carpenter who built cabinets until he died. Samwise Smith was a mathematics professor in our town who never married and passed alone. Thomas Thames lived under the riverside bridge for nearly half of his life before dying of a rodent bite. All of these statements are tragedies nonetheless, but why is it, a few words with proper grammar and punctuation are the root of our legacies?

    A conclusion has rested in my senses: if a man’s life cannot simply be summed up in one sentence than he’s some kind of traveling gypsy or a foul-minded fool!

    I’m Nicolas Fletcher, an unwed elderly man who lives in the countryside with nothing but a bit of old books and a writing quill thank you very much! I’m quite happy being a normie as I’ve so coined and do not intend on gallivanting on some sort of crazy adventure that would lengthen my life sentence!

    However, the neighboring estate, owned by the Parrish Family, is just ladened with traveling gypsies and fools alike. The Parrish’s own multiple properties stretching from high-class Paris to bitter cold Switzerland and they tend to them all over different seasons! What madness I say! My skin attempts to crawl from my withering bones every time I see their automobile drive away with luggage synched to the roof. And they’re all so joyous! If you ask me, they’re as mad as it gets. The whole lot of them should be thrown into a looney bin along with their putrid beast named Manny. That dog barks and howls till the crows come home! Do the Fletchers even have employment? No, quite answered. They swim in their pools of green year-round.

    I’ve done my time in the working world— a bookbinder. Accumulated a plush cushion to retire on, bought me the cottage I live in now. And in all my years of service, I’ve learned one thing: the rich fancy their leather-bound books with oddity, but they never do seem to read the words printed inside them. It’s a wonder why they would need my services at all. I suppose the idea of a room dedicated to old works of art gets the wealthy going in some way. Certainly doesn’t grant them any intellectual abilities. I clearly imagine them walking around with their big sticks and toting about who has inherited the most money from mummy and daddy. What selfishness!

    Although I must confess I’ve stolen a few classics during my time as a bookbinder. It wasn’t like they’d miss them. Goodness knows the spine and imprinted covers is all they look at. Caveman and barbarians they are. So primitive in nature. The act was uncomplicated. When commissioned to restore the torn binding on an antique printing of Aesop’s Fables I could not resist the temptation to switch it with a later printing I’d had in my possession. They would never notice! And they never did fifteen years later. I hadn’t received as much as a postcard or letter describing how unbelievably cruel I am to have stolen their copy. I now treasure the printing and have restored the artwork to its former glory as a seventieth birthday present to myself. I even wrapped it with a neat little bow— a supreme gift.

    The way the light trickles through my windows in the early bits of the morning is all I can look forward to after retirement— a marker of another day given to live according to my wishes. It can birth loneliness from time to time, but the feeling passes before it can cement. I’m never invited to tea time— hardly enjoy the drink at all, but the gesture would be splendid. I suppose I’m rather emotionless. I’ve been called a grouch. Or worse— an arsehole! But I haven’t the slightest clue as to why. I’ve done nothing but mind my own business and tut tut! around my own study in utter silence. There’s never been a moment of noisiness on my part regarding any of my neighbor’s affairs. But here I sit, looking out my table-side windows, alone. Sometimes I imagine what’s on the other side of them and daydream. But nothing more.

    At least I have Ester. She’s here a couple of days a week to clean for me and bring me food from the market. I lend her books from time to time and she actually reads them! But she’s young. Most likely waiting for me to die off so she can inherit the whole lot herself. I suppose it serves me right for stealing Aesop’s Fables all those years ago.

    Old age isn’t as poetic as others might think and the journey up the stairs has become impossible. I’ve resorted to sleeping in the den surrounded by my beloved. The armchair I bed-in isn’t the most comfortable thing, but it relines nicely. I read until I fall asleep. Sometimes I write. It’s the only thing that seems to pass me into slumber. But even my eyes begin to fail me. My rounded spectacles are nearly twenty-years-old and scratched to hell. They don’t build things to last anymore. In thought, I don’t believe I’m built to last any more than my books. At least they can be mended or restored.

    “Good evening Mr. Fletcher.”

    “Evening Ester. The kitchen needs cleaning today. I spilled coffee by the stove. And don’t forget to wash my bedding. It’s starting to smell rather pungent.”

    “Of course,” she nodded, setting her cleaning supplies down on the third step of the staircase.

    “It’s drafty in here. Mind opening up a window to clear this gloom?”

    “Perhaps going outside would be better? You can see what I’ve done in your garden.”

    “I’m seventy-one for goodness sakes!” I barked as I spilled my coffee over my nightgown. “Why on God’s green earth would I resort to such activities? Those are a young man’s sport.”

    “Right you are Sir.”

    Ester was all too quiet sometimes. Apart from the quick chats about literature, frankly, I knew nothing about the girl. My worried relative in London had set the whole thing up— didn’t want me dying from a fall or letting my house run into shambles. I know why she did it. Money. She’s always asking for a bit here and there. I’ve had to lie and tell here I was poor more times than I can count. That’s all old relatives are good for these days— lending money.

    There was a knock at my door.

    Post didn’t come until late evening on Sundays. Who could it possibly be ringing my doorbell?

    A small brown papered package lay on top of the doormat. It was tied in burlap string and had no return address, just an emerald hand-written label with my address:

    Mr. Nicolas Fletcher

    21 Little Dove

    West End

    Knitsley

    Perhaps it was a book to be mended, or even a book to be donated. My mind couldn’t settle on which. I resorted to sit back on my plush throne and open the package carefully. Maybe this was karma catching up to me. A bomb. A ticking time bomb sent from those rich snobs whose book I stole. This is it, I told myself. At least I’d blow up in the company of good authorship.

    The package tore without a snag. The string untied nicely and lay flat on my lap. It indeed was a book. A purple hardbound book with gold trimmings. There was, however, no name on any part of the book, just ornate swirls of gold. A letter was waxed sealed to the front marked with the letter W. Who could be writing to me? I know no one of the surnames starting with W and I stole the book from a family Benson or Burnson or something of the sort. Relieved it wasn’t a bomb, a opened the letter. It read:

    Dear Mr. Nicolas Fletcher,

    You’re not an easy man to find these days. I’ve had my secretary rifle through many of Fletcher’s before finding the right one. And to think Knitsley of all places? You truly wish to stay anonymous. I suppose I cannot blame you. Old age thirsts from anonymity. Anyways, enough of the fluff. You’re probably wondering why this book has landed on your doorstep, and as much as it would bring great joy to reveal it’s secrets, I shalln’t. That is for you to discover. I do hope to receive a letter in return when you’ve discovered the secrets…

    Inclosed you will find a number of things. Some of them lost and some of them found. I do request that you keep the contents of this book private as it would be in both of our interests to do so. Do you remember as children the game we used to play? The one with… well of course you remember.

    Cheers,

    W

    P.S. Blink twice, turn in a circle, and hoot like an owl. It helps.

    Stay tuned for part II….

  • My Testimony

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” –John 3:16-17

    Amidst the fallen world we’re experiencing today, I felt an urge to share my testimony. The threats of today often pose challenges to our everyday lives. We are prohibited to meet physically at our churches and we cannot worship together. A sad truth nonetheless. But I can say with all honesty, God’s word has meant more to me than ever during this pandemic. In Matthew 6:34 we are told “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

    So here I sit in front of my laptop keyboard feeling the joy of God’s word and it’s now, I want to share with others. God has performed miracles in my heart, brought me to the love of my life, and presented me with opportunities of belonging. However, it wasn’t always like this. I, like so many others, grew up outside the church and although God had a presence in my home, it was nothing like I experience in the future.

    I often reminisce over the first church service I attended. I was nervous and scared. Terrified I wouldn’t be good enough for what waited inside. There was an intimidating feeling alive in the pit of my stomach. You see, it was my wife who gave me the invite and as skeptical as I was, I wanted to show her I supported her beliefs. With that being said, I attended New Heights Church in Vancouver, Washington the following Sunday.

    It was everything you’d expect at a religious gathering. They worshipped. They prayed. They talked. They worshipped some more. Oh, and they prayed again. The event was over in 65 minutes and if I’m to be truthful, it was the most peculiar situation I’d ever put myself in. I needed time to process what I’d witnessed. I kept telling myself I didn’t belong…

    In the passing days, I caught myself fumbling around with the idea of a relationship with God. I started asking questions that posed a threat to my then way of thinking. Was I worthy of being saved? Why did God send his Son to die for our sins? Can anyone be forgiven in God’s eyes? And why, oh why, did people raise their hands during worship? (That last one I spend too much time mulling over.) Nevertheless, I carried on with my life in the usual fashion.

    Coincidentally, I found myself pulling into the parking lot every Sunday, dressed in classy clothes, and ready to hear the weekend’s message. The church began to feel like a routine activity and I started to felt less and less intimidated. I know it now but I didn’t know it then, Jesus was calling. I just wasn’t listening. You see, for the first time in my life, I was challenged in a way I couldn’t comprehend. Why do people choose not to sin? What does it mean to live a Christian life? (Up until this point there hadn’t always been a great example.) How often are we meant to pray? But most importantly, can I truly be saved?

    Nonetheless, I continued attending even with the doubts I carried. I enjoyed the nice people and the atmosphere felt home-like. I distinctly remember one church service in particular. It was around the summer of 2017. The service was about how Christians grieve. You see, I didn’t realize the basic understanding of why we live in a fallen world and why bad things happen to good people. I didn’t contemplate the idea that earth was never intended to be our real home. They said our home was in the Father’s house of heaven.

    I look back at that moment and realize what God was trying to tell me, what he was preparing me for. He was calling out to me at that moment, wanting to have a relationship with me. He knew I’d need him soon…

    Shortly thereafter, I visited my parents before a trip to Canada for my wife’s birthday. We stayed the night at their place to divide the driving. It was the halfway point. But that night would throw a wrench in my life. I look back on it with dread and some scars may never heal, but it was THE turning point in my spiritual journey.

    On August 11th, 2017 I discovered my loving father was diagnosed with stage IV kidney cancer. Every bit of my storybook life was shattered into oblivion. Everything happened so fast. I was numb to the bone. Shattered on the inside. Why was this happening to him? Did I do something for him to deserve this? All the instances of disrespectfulness and choices that did not honor my father stung with profound pain. There were so many things I wish I could have taken back at that moment. It flooded my mind. I was chained down by my guilt. I was shameful of who I was and I let it control me for a while. I let it erode at my heart and poison my mind.

    Over the next couple of days of overwhelmed emotions, I heard the whispers of the God who loved me, calling out. There was no denying his presence then and I got on my knees and prayed. I pleaded with God to heal my father. I’d do whatever it took to pay the price, but that’s not what He wanted. He wanted a relationship with me. His voice was louder and clearer than ever. Nothing could interrupt His word.

    Tears streamed down my face and my agony tortured me. But through the roughest of waters, I felt God’s warmth and comfort. The exact moment is hard to describe because it was an out of body experience. It was like a wash of emotions whispering directly into my heart insuring me of God’s presence. He was with me and He always had. I just had to invite Him in. And I did. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I surrendered my life and put it in His hands. If I was going to make it through the future, I would need His help. I couldn’t do anything unless I went to the Father.

    Throughout my life, I’ve felt this kind of void in my heart where I felt something needed to go. I tried different people and various things to fill that void, but none of it worked. But that life was over. As the seasons passed, I saw how God was working in my life. He’d blessed me with a great job, the freedom to accomplish my goals, and above all, blessed me with a wife and happy marriage.

    My father passed away on June 9th, 2019. It was a true test on my faith. God did not fail me once. One of the scriptures I hold dear to my heart is Philippians 1:21 and it says: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” The suffering my father experienced through surgeries, chemotherapy treatment, and radiation was over. He’d left it here on earth and was called home to the Father. In the following months, as I grieved, I realized that in some ways I was being selfish crying because my father had won the ultimate victory. He was free of his chains.

    A year has passed and I no longer fear death. I know God never intended for this world to be our home. God eventually calls us all to our home in heaven when it is our time and I shouldn’t be afraid. Nor should I dwell in sadness over my father’s passing. He’s in a far better place than I am surrounded by his mother, father, brother and niece. That brings me comfort. I know one day I will see him again.

    On December 1st of 2019, I decided to take the next step on my spiritual journey and get baptized. I had never been so sure about doing something in my entire life (other than getting married. )

    As I rose from the water, I felt my old self die. I had risen with Christ.

    Our baptism at New Heights Church

    Testimonies are important. As a follower of Christ, I am always willing to talk about my story with others. No one is too far gone to come to Jesus. Sometimes we have to experience the lowest of valleys to invite him in. But God is here through the highs and the lows. I always remind myself with each valley, there’s anyways a mountain. It all ends with God.

    I encourage you to share your testimony with others. You never know who may need to hear it. God’s working miracles in everyone.

    Cheers,

    Alexander // the Tea Cup Writer

  • “Paris Letters” by Janice MacLeod Book Review

    “Paris Letters” by Janice MacLeod was a delightfully quick read. Having finished the book in four-ish days, I can admit I’ve traipsed through the streets of Paris now (or so Janice has been to Paris and I’ve lived vicariously through her experiences).

    The Paris Letters at its core is about freedom, love, and self-discovering. It’s really one giant self-reflection, which struck a nerve within my own life. I found myself relating to the fast day to day work life that suffocated Janice. Although I’m no copywriter, I would have to say my job can be just as strenuous and unnerving. The itch for “going out on your own” as they say, has always been a ship waiting to set sail. Seeing first hand how Janice put her plans into motion is inspiring. 

    The story spends a lot of time detailing an epic back and forth love story between Janice and Christophe who can barely communicate with each other. There’s a massive language barrier that exists, but somehow they make it work with unusual methods. Thinking outside the box with hand gestures, pictures, and “Franglish” as she has coined.

    I find myself enjoying the watercolored letters to Áine the most. The Parisian imagery and attention to detail they possess was baffling. Having closed the book, there was one letter that I’ll remember for years to come. It can be found in chapter nineteen entitled “How Would You Like Your Eggs?” There’s a moment where Janice meets an elder woman in a cemetery and comes to aid her. I won’t spoil the scene because it’s profoundly pure but I will reveal that it depicts what honest love is. It was heart-touching… Thank you Janice.

    But enough of that. Would I recommend reading “Paris Letters” by Janice MacLeod? Absolutely. Coming off the cusp of George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy, “A Game of Thrones” I needed something lighter and much more relatable. Janice MacLeod gave that to me along with moments of pure inspiration. Maybe there will come a day in my life when I, too, can chronicle a magnificent tale as she’s done so beautifully.

    Cheers,

    Alexander.