We bring to you our featured writer Ken Jorgenson
with his short story:
A CONVERSATION WITH A VERY OLD FRIEND
and an excerpt from his poetry book:
AT HOME IN THE MAELSTORM
AN INTERVIEW with Ken Jorgenson
Connect with Ken Jorgenson on Instagram
Connect with Ken Jorgenson on his website
Buy his book At Home In The Maelstorm
Ken Jorgenson is an avid reader, a bit of a nerd, and has recently taken the leap to become a writer. From maintaining a long-running creative journal to penning articles for The Pub Magazine, he finally self-published his first novel, The Black Horse Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Small Town Ontario Pub in 2020. In 2021, he shared his insights of an unsettled life with sensibility and striking imagery in his first poetic collection, At Home in the Maelstrom. It seems his love for writing never seems to wane, as Ken is currently hard at work completing a new historical fiction novel titled The Remarkable Tale of H. Hachaliah Johnson, which will be available this winter. A former professional rugby player, Ken plies his trade as a Health & Safety Manager in Toronto, Canada.
A CONVERSATION WITH A VERY OLD FRIEND
by Ken Jorgenson
After being blinded by a bright flash of light, I felt the air change around me as I was blanketed by an overwhelming silence. When my vision slowly returned, I found myself standing in a stark white, unfurnished chamber, softly illuminated by several elegant gold light fixtures. I recognized the old man standing before me, dressed in familiar khaki robes, his long white hair and flowing beard contrasting sharply with his deeply tanned and wrinkled face. A face that was smiling kindly at me.
God: Hey, long time, no see.
Me: It’s been a while.
God: Yes, it has. Not since that little incident with the you know what. You’ve been pretty good since then.
Me: I have been, thank you. Is everything okay?
God: You tell me. You’re the one who’s been reaching out.
Me: It’s not about me, you know. Not about that little thing in my brain.
God: Oh, I know all about that. Bad luck, those things.
Me: Is that why I’m here? I wasn’t expecting to be seeing you so soon.
God looks away uncomfortably for a second before returning his gaze back to me. He is no longer smiling.
God: What makes you so sure it would be me you’d be seeing. Maybe it’ll be the other guy.
Me: I don’t know. I guess it’s because you intervened that time before. Why else go through all that effort?
The smile has returned. Thank …, well, thankfully.
God: Why indeed. I do still work in mysterious ways upon occasion you know.
Me: I figured as much. You pretty much know everything though, right?
God: I know who you’ve been praying for, and it has piqued my interest, I must admit.
Me: Then you know it’s not fair what she’s been going through, what she’s had to deal with, what cruelty those others have inflicted upon her. It’s been relentless, one vexatious thing after another. Then, when there’s finally an end in sight, Wham! More shit to have to deal with. She’s innocent! Innocent of everything. She’s a victim in it all.
God: There is no guarantee that life will be fair. In fact, it almost never is. What would be the point of that?
Me: She’s a very special person. She doesn’t deserve to suffer this way. To have no help, so little hope.
God: You’ve been helping her, haven’t you?
Me: A little, I’m doing what I can but it’s nowhere near enough. You know what I mean. She keeps it all buried inside. To protect others. To protect herself. It’s overwhelming her, killing her soul. Is it because she prays to someone else that you don’t help?
God: Come on, you know better than that. Maybe that little thing in your brain has damaged your common sense. I don’t always take this form you know. I have so many others. For some, I take no form at all.
Me (slightly riled up): If anyone deserves an intervention it’s her! Full stop. She has more integrity than anyone I’ve ever met. She is smart and witty and has a wonderful mischievousness about her. She’s also selfless and kind and absorbs all her troubles so that no one else need suffer along with her. It’s slowly destroying her. Why won’t you help?
God: Do you believe that all prayers are answered?
Me: I’m not sure. I guess they’re not, right? Otherwise, there would be no pain and suffering in the world.
The smile has once again disappeared. I seem to have made this a habit.
God (with a touch of anger in his voice): All prayers are answered! Sometimes, the answer is “No.”
Me: I’m sorry, I just don’t know what to do anymore. I didn’t mean to offend you.
God: No one ever does. But they do. They almost always do.
Me: I’m just afraid that she is going to lose her mystique, that special essence, the spirit that makes her who she is. I don’t want her to forget what it is that makes her so special, so singularly fantastic, inside and out. I can’t let that happen. I can’t let her become lost to herself.
God: Isn’t that something you could be helping her with? Why do you need me?
Me: I’m trying.
God: Maybe try harder.
The smile is back, this time with a playful gleam in his fiery eyes.
Me: If only you met her, you’d understand what I’m talking about, what I’m feeling.
God: You really can be quite dense at times. I know everyone, everywhere, always. I’m the divine creator, remember?.
Me: Of course, what was I thinking. If only you could look into her beautiful, mysterious eyes though. Just once. They are just so mesmerizing, so… perfect. I promise you’ll never be the same again. Never see the world the same way again. They say that the eyes are the window to the soul, but in her case it’s more like a portal for unlocking the secrets of the Universe and peering into infinity. You get lost in them.
God: Well, well, well, look who’s being just a little melodramatic. It just so happens I agree with you. It’s funny you mention her eyes. You’re exactly right about them. She is special. She is indeed very, very special.
Me: I don’t understand. What do you mean?
God: I mean, she is very special to me too. Sit down, let me tell you a story.
A pair of comfortable burgundy reading chairs suddenly appeared. God and I settled in, well,… comfortably.
God: For more than a billion years, I have been creating life on this Earth. For more than a billion years, I have been honing my craft, creating plants and creatures to populate the land, sea, and air. For more than a billion years, I have been introducing ever-expanding complexities and variations of life. Some species failed and died off on their own. On other occasions, I chose to wipe out almost everything in one massive catastrophe, and then start all over again. For over a billion years, I have never stopped creating. The problem was, I eventually became bored. For the last million years or so, it’s difficult for me to keep track of the exact time you know, I have been creating humans. Once I introduced your kind, everything changed. I decided to give humans a spark of creativity, a brain that could not only process information better and faster than any other of my creations but could also attain consciousness. I introduced an almost infinite number of variations to your genetic codes, leading to a huge amount of diversity. You humans were exciting to watch. You even became aware of me eventually too. But you were a troublesome lot from almost the very beginning; such destructive, creative, noble, vicious creatures cursed with the ability to feel an agony far, far worse than mere physical pain. For you were also given emotions, the ability to hate and love, to wage war, feel loss and mourn. And yet you also managed to find a way to surprise me. You found a way to build and create. You discovered ways to create that were not linked to basic survival or brutal destruction. You found a way to nurture your souls, to feed your hearts. You created music and you created art! This was too much though. This made me feel something I’d never felt before. I became jealous.
God stared at me for a long time. It was as if he wanted to make a confession. I was too frightened to speak or interrupt his thoughts. Eventually, he continued with his tale.
God: It was the art. I could feel the excruciating agony and frustrations of these curious humans as they toiled away and went on creating. I could feel their hearts bursting with love and reverence as they went on creating. Oh, how you created, such skilful adepts of your own imaginations, as you turned your pain and love, your despair and anticipation, into magnificent pieces of beauty. And I was jealous, for some of you became more than just mere creators, some of you had become artists. I, who had spent billions of years creating, could not lay claim to that title. Artist. Beauty for beauty’s sake. Sure, I had provided beauty to the Earth, made beautiful things. Many, many things, splendorous things, but they all had a purpose. Their allure had a utilitarian intention; to attract a mate, or for use as camouflage. There was nothing made beautiful for mere beauty’s sake only. I had created no masterpiece of my own to humble and inspire, to question my own existence. And so, for thousands of years, I worked to create one, my very own masterpiece. I chose the most complex canvas I could conceive, something perfect in the human form that could take another’s breath away and expose them to just a tiny peek at what I am able to see in the infinite. I introduced so many variations of shape, size, and colour and still, I was not satisfied. I raged as your civilizations rose and fell, then rose again. I raged as your artists continued in their creative glory, for theirs were far simpler achievements than that I had set for myself. A living masterpiece was infinitely more complex and a feat far more difficult to conquer than I had ever imagined.
God again stopped speaking for a moment and favoured me with a warm smile.
Me: Please go on. What happened?
God: No human can ever be perfect, that is what happened. The gifts I provided you with eliminated the possibility of perfection. But still, I found a way. You mentioned her eyes. They are my masterpiece, those exquisite eyes. One must be close enough to behold their magic. One must have the sensitivity and compassion to experience just a glimpse of what they truly may reveal. And furthermore, one must have the ability to actually comprehend what it is they think they are seeing. For her, I had concocted new shades of colour, tones that had never been seen on Earth before. Her eyes, they are absolutely unique. Their soft, subtle hues were designed to fill your heart and mind with wonder. I then layered in strands of darker, powerful shades, weaved throughout to provide depth of meaning to the astonishment they generate. I had finally managed to transform the pain and tormented existence of humanity into the ecstatic beauty you see in her eyes. Pain is easy to portray, it is everywhere, but to use humanity’s passion and pain to portray the ecstasy of joy and the magnificent beauty of your world, and capture it with colour, is how I finally achieved my masterpiece. She is my masterpiece. She is one of a kind. There will never be another. Through her, I finally became an artist. It didn’t matter one fig that nobody would ever be able to see her eyes for the triumph they truly are or understand what it is they ultimately unveil. It was enough that I knew and that I saw and that I understood!
Me: But I know too, I have seen what you describe.
God: No, my boy, you don’t, and you have not. You have seen less than one billion billionths of what her eyes are capable of revealing. Had you truly glimpsed any more, understood what you saw, your mind would have been completely destroyed.
Me: Then you must help her, you must answer her prayers. You owe her!
God: Perhaps. Perhaps she will only find true happiness and success from overcoming these challenges, from experiencing this darkness and finding strength in her journey to the light. Perhaps this is her trial.
Me: You know though. You know every second of her destiny.
God: I know all. I see all. I reveal all, in time.
Me: I just want her to be okay, to be safe and happy. To be who she wants to be, free from pain and misery. I just want her back. Please!
God: I know everything. I can also change everything. And almost nothing comes without some type of cost.
Me: I’m not sure I understand.
God: What are you willing to sacrifice to have her problems resolved? What is my tribute going to be?
Me: What do you mean? I’d do anything.
God: Even if it meant never seeing her again? I already know your answer to that question, even if you don’t.
Me: I don’t understand. How you can be so cruel?
God: Cruel? You think that’s cruel? I could take that little thing out of your brain and make sure you live a long, pathetic life, praying to me every single day, begging me for the chance to see her just one more time. Now that would be cruel. Who do you think you are to question me?
Me: I don’t know, I…
God (starting to laugh): Ahh, I’m just playing with you. You should see your face! Don’t worry, she’s going to get through everything eventually and be okay. I promise. She’ll be battered and very scarred from the experience, but she’ll also have learned a lot about herself too, learned about her resilience, her sheer will and determination, and her strengths and weaknesses. She will learn to never give up and be a better and wiser woman when all is said and done. And she will be very successful one day. She’ll be extremely grateful for you too, that’s got to be worth something.
Me: I didn’t know you could be such a jerk. But thank you for letting me know.
God: I couldn’t help myself. You were being so pitiful. But I also know what your answer would have been. Remember that. Throwing stones about in glass houses and all. I know what is in your heart and in your mind. I know all.
Me: What can I say, I feel what I feel and make no apologies for it.
God: Indeed. I think it’s time for you to go back now. I’ll be seeing you again. Maybe sooner than you think. Maybe later. Then again, maybe never. It’s not for you to know.
Another bright flash and I was back at home. I poured myself a very large whisky and sat down to think. It tormented me. What would my answer have been? Would I really have done it? I hope, no I pray, that I will never have to find out because in all honesty I really don’t know if I’d want to live in a world without her.
BOOK EXCERPT: Poetry
AT HOME IN THE MAELSTORM
by Ken Jorgenson
under the dim light of a pale moon I wandered through fields of lilies my eyes flecked with crimson tears lips untouched by love I soon kissed the mouth of sin welcomed at last in Hell were the Gods dead at last? ill-fated nightingales sang their songs but wept alone among the half-withered trees mourning the sweetest of their melodies long lost to history you appeared with the dawn pale cheeks where no love had left its stain longing eyes veiled by weary tears the delicate morning breezes you freed stirred to life the laurel leaves let us sit and watch until Chaos births new stars k.j.j.
fallen petals settle in your hair removing all sorrow from my forsaken lips shadows dance as we take our hearts pleasure melodies of the Breton waters mimic the Butterfly’s song whispering as sadness flees our great symphony brings music to the land of daffodils as crocuses stir beneath the winter snow k.j.j.
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