MICROSTORIES by Daniel Brako

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MICROSTORIES by Daniel BrakoCopyright © Daniel Brako 2012 (www.danielbrako.com) Cover image by Ferdi Rizkiyanto (www.behance.net/pepey) Published in eBook format by Hillinger Distributed by http://www.obooko.com ISBN: 978-0-9580491-4-6 Daniel Brako has asserted his right under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. This FREE e-book may be freely distributed and shared, provided the entire document remains intact and unmodified. All rights reserved. d a n i e l b r a k o © 2 0 1 2 m i c r o s t o r i e s │ 3CONTENTS FEMME FATALE DENIAL THE DRAGON THE KNIFE PERCEPTION THE WELL THE SCHOOL BELIEFS VAMPIRE THE GENIE GREENER PASTURES LOVE THYSELF DARKNESS SPRIT DRAMA QUEEN NEEDINESS THE GARDNER RUNNING MISTAKES THE MAGICIAN COMEBACK HELP THE SOUL THE VICTIM FORGIVENESS WHAT IF … MEDIOCRITY CHAOS MONSTER THE ENVIRONMENT GAIA THE SOURCE LAWS SECRETS THE HOLE KARMA FAITH KNOW THYSELF GRACE WORDS BEAUTY ONENESS PRETENDING ADDITIONAL READING THE LABYRINTH ABOUT THE AUTHOR d a n i e l b r a k o © 2 0 1 2 m i c r o s t o r i e s │ 4FEMME FATALE She was a femme fatale like no other. When she came calling, most would follow. Although her calls took on many different forms, there was always a common thread—this seductress promised so much. Her promises never lasted, but her hold did. And then the real journey began. Beyond the initial excitement and ecstasy lay a different experience. She would usher her captives through isolated fields. Away from family and friends, these were desolate places, devoid of companionship. Here, she was the only companion. It brought new meaning to the word alone. Along the way she would teach the fine art of denial. Engrossed in this, few even noticed the valley. It ran as deep as the deepest despair. In this dark and dismal place, hope became a distant memory. If only she would block out the pain. Instead she kept leading the way into it. At the base of the valley was something worse. It was an abyss called hell. Into it she would walk, exerting her pull. Although many wanted to break free from her grasp, few understood that the first step in doing so was to call her name. Even fewer knew what that name was, for her disguises were so grand. Her name was Addiction. The first step in dealing with addiction is acknowledgement. Self-honesty is a priceless gift. It is a platform upon which great things can be built. d a n i e l b r a k o © 2 0 1 2 m i c r o s t o r i e s │ 5THE DRAGON Everyone on the island knew about the dragon. They knew it patrolled the ocean in search of sea vessels. They knew it breathed fire and would kill anyone who crossed its path. Finally, they knew it was stealthy. It was so stealthy that no one had ever seen it, but they knew it existed. Because of the fearsome dragon, the islanders never ventured beyond their island home. To do so would mean death, so they remained where they were. Although this paralysis blocked them from moving forward and experiencing new things, many con- sidered it preferable to being dragon food. But one brave explorer begged to differ. Her resolve, in the name of discovery and growth, was so strong that she decided to leave the island or die trying. In search of better things she was prepared to face the dragon head on. As she rowed out to sea her heart pounded. But she did not stop. Nor, strangely enough, did she encounter any dragon. There was no painful death—only a beautiful ocean and the thrill of the unknown. It all awaited one very brave explorer. Monsters of the imagination come in all different shapes and sizes. Face your fears today. Don’t create monsters where there are none. d a n i e l b r a k o © 2 0 1 2 m i c r o s t o r i e s │ 6PERCEPTION The dream seemed so real. A lady who looked like a witch/shaman was saying some- thing. Perhaps it was a curse/warning. The dreamer woke in terror/peace. That was when she smelled the smoke. Although she was able to save herself, there was little she could do about her house. Watching it burn she latched onto a single thought: I’m homeless/alive and so angry/grateful because of that. This repeated in her head. With her house in ashes, the victim/survivor knew she would have to relocate. So began her journey through the woods. In truth, she considered the woods to be a God forsaken/inspired place, swarming with native flora and fauna. As she walked she noted the many weeds/flowers that grew aside the path. This occupied her mind. She soon found herself lost, alone and afraid. Many of her prayers began, “I curse/beseech you God …” In the back of her mind she denied/embraced the belief that everything happens for a reason. This added to her despair/hope. Lost in the woods by/with herself she knew she had to become self-sufficient. Fortunately there were plenty of berries to eat, and she could drink water from the stream. This would be the only way to make it through this nightmare/challenge. After a few days hikers found and rescued her. She told them all about her adventure/ordeal. After all, this woman was a jaded/better person because of it. Events can be seen in vastly different ways. Attitudes and beliefs determine perception. How do you see things? d a n i e l b r a k o © 2 0 1 2 m i c r o s t o r i e s │ 7THE SCHOOL “Why is there so much pain and suffering in the world?” a disciple asked his mentor. “And why doesn’t God do something about it?” “Let me tell you a story about the silent school,” the sage responded. “Its pupils were boisterous, loving to frolic and explore. Whether playing sport or practical jokes, their lives were dynamic. “Although they enjoyed freedom and independence, it came at a cost. Loud voices, for example, engendered sore throats. Practical jokes often backfired. And sport sometimes resulted in bumps and bruises, even broken bones. “As it happened, one day a new headmaster arrived. He imposed a strict set of rules, forbidding students to joke, play sports, make noise and so on. They were no longer allowed to do the things that were a part of being human. “The new rules transformed the school, emptying the sickbay. There was an eerie silence. The headmaster was thrilled. But then the students started to become lethargic and ill. Their sickness could not be healed. “Why do we have pain and suffering in the world? Because we inadvertently create it every time we make poor choices. Why doesn’t God stop pain and suffering? Because doing so would restrict our free will.” The sage leaned forward on his chair. “To reduce pain and suffering, choose wisely in life. Choose acts of love.” d a n i e l b r a k o © 2 0 1 2 m i c r o s t o r i e s │ 8Pain and suffering exist as a by-product of choice. Choices create consequences. To restrict choice is to restrict freedom. VAMPIRE Carl was a vampire Despite looking human, he was a parasite who fed off others. Al- though he was embarrassed by his lifestyle, he was accustomed to it. For this reason he continued to hunt on a regular basis. Of course, discretion was called for. From an early age Carl learned to hide his antisocial behavior by masterfully blending into the background. His victims were always unsuspecting. When it came to choosing victims Carl wasn’t fussy. Sometimes they were young, sometimes they were old. It didn’t matter whether they were male or female, black or white. Carl was simply out for his fix. Carl never imagined he would be caught, especially not by his sister. That’s exactly what happened the day she caught him laughing at someone less fortunate than he was. Emotional vampires don’t feed off blood. They feed off the hurt, pain and misery of others. Putting others down to lift yourself up never works. Self-esteem is wallow sensitive. You can only lift yourself up with love. d a n i e l b r a k o © 2 0 1 2 m i c r o s t o r i e s │ 9GREENER PASTURES The grass, in Sid’s opinion, was definitely greener on the other side. Although his fellow sheep were content, Sid was tormented. There was something about the grass in that other field. It beckoned. A barbed-wire fence stood between Sid and his goal. Refusing to be denied, Sid forced his four-legged body between the razor sharp spikes. After ending up bloodied and bruised, he made it to the other side. “Baaaah.” (Translation: “Oh God no.”) To his horror Sid realized the grass, which had appeared so lush from a distance, was tick infested. The bloodsucking arachnids were everywhere. Worse, they enjoyed the taste of mutton. After returning home Sid noticed a grazing area beyond the lake. Although the lake was freezing cold and contained jagged rocks, he decided to take the plunge. It was a miracle he emerged on the other side. “Baaaaaaaah.” (Translation: “Bloody hell.”) This new field was full of under- ground rabbit burrows. Like a minefield, it made walking perilous. In this place Sid couldn’t move, he couldn’t be himself. Sid the sheep learned his lesson, or so he thought. Before too long his wandering eyes noticed yet another pasture. Again, not content with where he was, he made the move. This time he braved four lanes of traffic, at peak hour no less. “Baaaaaaaaaaaaaah.” (Translation withheld.) This new pasture was plastic. On closer inspection Sid came to realize it was one of those human contraptions, littered with yellow balls and painted with white lines. This pasture was an illusion. d a n i e l b r a k o © 2 0 1 2 m i c r o s t o r i e s │ 10Having found out the hard way, these days Sid is quick to offer advice to others. When translated his wisdom is both learned and simple. “Although the grass may look greener on the other side, beware illusions, hidden traps and things that bite” Whenever the green-eyed monster strikes, beware Jealousy invites trouble. Gratitude is the first step in getting what you want. DARKNESS The Cartwrights were a close-knit family consisting of father Wayne, mother Julie and four-year-old son Zac. Life was going well for them, until everything went bad. It happened on a Sunday. One moment Zac was playing happily, the next moment he was gone. They couldn’t find him in the house. “Could he have gotten outside?” Wayne asked. An outdoor search provided the heart-wrenching answer. Zac’s tiny body floated facedown in the backyard pool. He couldn’t be revived. Over the following months Wayne and Julie went through the usual grieving process, rehashing the nightmare again and again. They both asked, “What if …?” They both lamented, “If only …” It was like living in a pit of darkness. After months in the pit, Julie gradually vacated the darkness. Instead of viewing Zac’s death as a senseless accident, she embraced the belief that his passing was part of God’s unknowable plan. This was a contentious issue that often set Wayne into a rage. d a n i e l b r a k o © 2 0 1 2 m i c r o s t o r i e s │ 11“Zac was too young,” Wayne insisted. “No child should have their life take.” “Perhaps it wasn’t taken so much as given—given back to God.” “God?” Wayne scoffed. “Where was God when our son died?” “God was helping him to leave his physical body, thanking him for his time spent on earth, and taking him to a better place.” “That’s bullshit, Julie” Wayne remained in the pit. Julie transcended it. Physical life is part of a bigger picture. Despite appearances, death comes by design. When someone dies, know that it was their time to depart. DRAMA QUEEN Once upon a time, in a distant land called Make Believe, there lived an ardent queen. The world she inhabited was dramatic, exciting and intense. According to inner-circle gossip a prominent couple were on the verge of a break- up. The court advisor was drinking again. Someone was pilfering from the coffers. With her husband away, the General’s wife was fooling around. The priest was doing less than priestly things. And on it went. The queen made certain she was privy to it all, and what a mess it was. Infidelity. Scandal. Turmoil. Placing the back of her palm to her forehead, the queen sighed. After all, what was a queen to think? What was a queen to do? d a n i e l b r a k o © 2 0 1 2 m i c r o s t o r i e s │ 12As it happened, one day a traveling wizard entered the land. Upon hearing about the scandalous events, he offered his services in exchange for temporary lodgings. The queen graciously accepted. The next day the proficient wizard set to work. Weaving powerful magic he cast a spell designed to end crisis. Sure enough, the chaos ceased and the wizard left the land. Despite the new peace, or perhaps because of it, the queen cried. She was incon- solable. Constantly in other people’s business and full of gossip, drama queens attract drama. Change the focus. Learn to say, “Not interested” THE GARDENER Gary was a gardener. Instead of working at the local nursery, however, his role was to look after mystical plants that were imbued with human qualities. Each plant was named according to the quality it possessed such as love, courage, pride and so on. Every quality had an opposite, like a complimentary twin. Happy and sad. Responsible and irresponsible. Generous and greedy. They were a microcosm of life. At first Gary wondered why the creator of the plants would risk releasing negative qualities, such as sadness or jealousy, into the world. He surmised that polar opposites provide comparison. Without sadness, for example, people wouldn’t be able to fully app- reciate happiness. d a n i e l b r a k o © 2 0 1 2 m i c r o s t o r i e s │ 13Polar opposites, Gary realized, also provide choice. As the gardener he could choose which plants to nurture. Although his mystical plants could never truly be killed, even if starved of all nutrients, those that received little attention remained saplings, whereas those that were nurtured became tall and strong. Whenever Gary nurtured a plant, that quality tended to show up in his life. There was no right or wrong in the garden. There was only choice and, as the gardener, he had to deal with the results of it. Gary did so marveling at the plants, the system and their ever-so-wise creator. Each time you embrace or demonstrate a quality it grows. Whatever you grow you reap. The garden of life depends on the gardener—you. MISTAKES Making mistakes, in Michaela’s opinion, was for losers. Rather than risk making a mis- take, she would simply ignore the task, avoid it or move onto something else. During childhood Michaela was considered talented and smart. To maintain this image, she started avoiding difficult tasks. This strategy initially worked well, sparing her from the failure and embarrassment experienced by her peers. Then Michaela noticed a change. The more mistakes her classmates made, the more they seemed to improve. Michaela had never considered this. She simply assumed they would give up. Although some did, many persisted. They eventually excelled. d a n i e l b r a k o © 2 0 1 2 m i c r o s t o r i e s │ 14There came a point when those struggling to keep up with Michaela suddenly surpassed her. Of course, years later, she refuses to admit that her mistake-avoiding strategies may have been a mistake. How can she when she still believes that making mistakes is for losers? Mistakes teach you what to do and what not to do. Mistakes help you grow. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. COMEBACK The shopkeeper sold the talisman to Rylan, claiming it had the power to influence the lives of others. And so began his journey. Rylan’s intentions were good. He wanted to help his three sisters. The eldest, a poet, was experiencing a lull. The middle sister, an aspiring dancer, longed to perform. As for the youngest, she had too many pursuits to keep up with. And so Rylan called for inspiration, fame and peace respectively. Sure enough the wishes came to be and the sisters enjoyed the benefits of each. But then something unexpected happened. From nowhere inspirations flooded Rylan’s mind. At first it was a novelty. But it quickly became an unwanted torment. Rylan shared his predicament with some close friends. Suddenly word spread. In a matter of days Rylan was the talk of the town. Ironically he was now famous. But this too was unwanted. d a n i e l b r a k o © 2 0 1 2 m i c r o s t o r i e s │ 15At a loss to understand his fluctuating fate, Rylan suddenly remembered the three wishes. Just when he thought he couldn’t take any more, he recalled the essence of the final wish. It brought a relieved smile to his lips, the first smile in many days. Be careful and mindful of what you give to others because gifts return to sender. This can be both a blessing and a curse. THE SOUL The sage studied the ocean before turning to his disciple. “Take the empty bucket and fill it with water.” When the disciple returned from his task, the sage said, “When you place ocean water into a bucket, it retains the same properties and qualities as the ocean. The two remain one.” Next the sage retrieved a tiny glass and filled it with water from the bucket. “The bucket represents your soul, and this glass represents your personality. It represents you.” Reaching into his pocket the sage withdrew several more glasses and began filling each. “Your soul gives birth to many personalities. These personalities form your past and future lives. Each incarnates, gains experiences via choices, then returns to the soul.” He emptied the contents of each glass into the bucket. “Can you guess where your soul will one day return?” the sage asked. He and his disciple both studied the expansive ocean. It was beautiful to behold. d a n i e l b r a k o © 2 0 1 2 m i c r o s t o r i e s │ 16You are only one component, one tiny segment, of your soul. The soul is expansive. It is not limited by time, matter or space. FORGIVENESS One day a mysterious stranger entered the village. His only possession was a rucksack, spun from golden threads. Dugan, the local merchant, knew such a rare item would fetch a huge price. But the stranger would not sell. This prompted Dugan to adopt a different approach. When everyone was asleep, Dugan crept into the inn and stole the rucksack. Like a tailored garment, it proved to be incredibly light and a perfect fit. However, to Dugan’s horror, he was unable to remove it from his back. “Tis the devil’s work” Dugan’s only option was to flee his beloved home, lest he be discovered as a thief. Journeying from village to village, it didn’t take long to realize the rucksack had other qualities. Whenever Dugan got angry, the bag got heavier. Of course, he blamed the devil, the miserable weather, the people who incited him to anger … anyone but himself. The heavy rucksack caused Dugan’s back to hunch. Everyone shunned him, ex- cept for a little girl. Their friendship was tested one day when the girl accidentally spilled boiling soup on him. Instead of embracing anger, however, Dugan chose forgiveness. To his shock the rucksack became lighter. d a n i e l b r a k o © 2 0 1 2 m i c r o s t o r i e s │ 17Dugan strove to put the lesson into action. Before long the rucksack slipped from his shoulders and he was a better person because of it. When asked by the little girl why he was leaving the village, Dugan responded, “Others need to learn the lesson of lightening the load.” With those words, he retrieved his rucksack and walked off into the sunset. Negativity is deadweight on your shoulders. Forgiveness provides freedom. It frees you from an otherwise heavy burden. MEDIOCRITY Lola’s life could best be described as comfortable. This description had nothing to do with wealth. Rather it was comfortable in terms of being familiar, safe and known. Lola would have it no other way. When it came to her job, on good days, she considered it to be okay. Occasionally she imagined doing something better. Of course, that would mean a new start. Everything would change. It might even involve a period of discomfort. Lola had a boyfriend. They’d been together for six years. She cared for him, but she wasn’t in love with him. When Lola admitted this to friends, they asked why she re- mained in the relationship. She told them it was easier to stay than leave. This resistance to change applied to all areas of Lola’s life. It affected everything from where she parked the car when she went shopping, to the items she placed in the trolley. In each instance comfort, or familiarity, was sought. It ruled d a n i e l b r a k o © 2 0 1 2 m i c r o s t o r i e s │ 18In fairness it should be said that Lola’s life wasn’t bad. It was however mediocre. It could never be more than mediocre because comfort came first. If you want more out of life, be prepared to move beyond your comfort zone. If not, mediocrity will be your prize. THE ENVIRONMENT Drifting high above the earth’s plane was a solitary cloud. Her name was Cilouise. When- ever she cried, the storms came. At first this was infrequent but then things happened to make Cilouise wail. Cilouise was responding to humankind. They burned things that polluted the air. They cut the trees that maintained the balance. They destroyed the ozone layer that was her friend. They did so many foolish things. The tears that fell were tears of pain, after all, the evaporated water that returned to her tasted acidic. But that was not why she cried. Cilouise cried because of loss. She cried because of destruction. And she cried because of what was to come—the deva- stating effects of environmental warfare. While she longed for improvement and change, Cilouise knew the outcome was beyond her control. It remained in the hands of humankind. If only they could see her tears. d a n i e l b r a k o © 2 0 1 2 m i c r o s t o r i e s │ 19The environment is not only an important resource, the environment is a living system. To hurt the environment is to hurt oneself. THE SOURCE A traveler was climbing an isolated mountain, in search of spiritual answers. On the third day of her journey, Jesus appeared to her. “I am the way.” Jesus smiled and faded from sight. Contemplating his statement, the traveler concluded that Jesus was the true path to the source of all things. No sooner had she decided this than Jehovah manifested. “I too am the way.” Jehovah smiled and faded from sight. Contemplating his statement, the traveler decided that western religion in general was the true path. Just then, Buddha appeared. “Eastern religion also holds the answers.” Buddha smiled and faded from sight. Contemplating his statement, the traveler decided that the correct path was sig- nified by a male deity, regardless of which one. That was when the Goddess materialized. “I am female and I am also the way.” The Goddess smiled and faded from sight. With so many claims, the traveler was confused. Glancing towards the peak of the mountain, however, she realized there are many paths to the summit. While different pathways offer different scenery, they all eventually lead to the same place. d a n i e l b r a k o © 2 0 1 2 m i c r o s t o r i e s │ 20

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