Where There Is No Welcome

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Hi all,

I apologize for an unexpected and premature return. This posting was inspired recently so I thought I would write it down. I still don’t have any plans to revive posting regular blog entries right now. But, somehow, this short story resonated with me as the inspiration for it came about unexpectedly. Thanks for letting me type it up so I could try to do something with it.

Hope everyone is well. G’night

 

Her curiosity came with her noble birth. It always pushed her forward, never allowing her to rest in idle stature. The trait was as synonymous with her as were here long raven tresses that were always alternately worn either up or down. There was not just spirit that resided within her, but rather she gave fabric to the essence of spirit itself.

It was this constitution of hers that presently led to her emerging adventure. She had been aware of the interest inducing door throughout her life, but for the very first time, she found it slightly left opened in a barely noticeable state. Instinctually, her heart beckoned her to approach the door and press it into sway upon its hinges so that it immediately granted passage. With as much vigor as she had moved the door, she unhesitatingly entered and began descent down its accompanying stairwell.

The passage that the steps led to was rather dark, with only ensconced torches providing the available light at very sparse intervals. She merely followed the torches to see where they might come to an end. Fortunately, the hallway was straightly linear in its geometry, so even with poor visibility, if she maintained herself centered in the lines of torches, she could navigate without having concern for her safety. Eventually, she began to see the makings of an ending to this trail of fire created light. At the end of the corridor on the left, she could make out the existence of another door.

As she converged on this new and inviting door, her application of pressure was not as forgiving this time. A simple push did not budge the obstacle. As she looked down, she noticed that this door also had a latch, which upon trying, she also met with solid resistance and failure at making the door reveal its contents. It was at that moment that this maiden of the moor looked straight ahead to notice that in sight of her face, the door revealed a small wooden panel with a knob that appeared that it might lend itself to being opened. She decided to grasp the knob, and with decided exhilaration fueled by the desire to see what might be discovered, reserve also simultaneously set in as she pondered the fact over whether what was to be revealed may not be of an accommodating nature.

She slowly began to pull on the knob and the panel forgivingly swung in her direction. Her hand remained on the knob until she had rotated the small door an entire half-circle. What filled in the rectangular opening behind the swung open panel was a set of iron bars. Her eyes first took focus upon their presence. But, it was after that discovery that she quickly came into awe as she began to peer through the bars and into the room that they betrayed.

On the other side of the door was an immaculate, yet unfrilled room. Darkened woods lined the top and walls of the room. There were wonderfully crafted bookcases that turned the room into more library than living quarters. Books of all subjects and royal colors adorned the dwelling and gave it an identity that could not be duplicated. At the center of the room was a table with a single lit candle, that in its solitude, seemed to radiate a light that should have been far beyond its capacity to illuminate a room in the way that its characteristics were being revealed. On the far back right wall was a bed, large enough only to sleep a single individual. Although modest in its wooden frame, the bed’s linens seemed to have a stitching and selection of colors fit enough for that of a prince’s point of nightly rest. But, it was our maiden’s discovery of what was in the chair of the left corner that suddenly startled her and made her realize that she had just, in a manner of speaking, invaded someone’s home.

“Greetings there,” said the charming figure finding comfort in the chair while hosting a large book in his supporting hands. “I take it you’ll be delivering my meals from here onward?”

“What?,” our exploring princess said in reply, while being startled and becoming aware that she had just been brought into a conversation with someone who was not only being housed in arrest, but also underground, at that.

“You’re not, Ermatha, so I can only assume that you are the meal bearer of the day?

Our princess continued to try and bring herself sensibly into the moment.

“Nuh, uh, no, I am not here to bring a meal. Who are you? What are you doing…”

“Ah, here go the logically sequential and relevant questions,” retorted our newly met reader of books. “Do you also need my home of birth, my family crest, and my best recipe for root stew?” He also attached a friendly grin to his comments so his new visitor could see it via the aid of the little candle that could as it burned from the middle of the table.

“What, no, I mean, who in the world are you? Why are you here? Are you being held prisoner? Why…what about your fashioned abode? What…”

“Ah, I’ll try and save you some of your trouble. My dearest lady, I am indeed, somewhat of a prisoner. Someone you may know has put me here for a reason. And, beg pardon, but my name is Nilrem. Based on the attire I see at your shoulders, based on the care given to your hair, the condition of your hands and nails that now wrap around the iron bars that I live behind, and simply based on the fact that you have access to my door would suggest that you do know who put me here. May I ask also, what is that of your name?”

“Wait, wait, why would someone imprison you in the House of…Are you a man of government? Did an enemy place you here for tyranny, for disloyalty, or for treason? Why…”

“Much more simple than that, my dear. Let me spare you added questioning. If it is questions you are looking to have answered, then let us get to them more quickly for your own sake. I was put here for telling the truth.”

Our lovely interrogator stared through the bars of the door for a moment. Her mind was processing the information that she was being given at such a rate that was quickly sending her into mental overload. Then, a thought quickly came to her.

“The truth. You say your name is Nilrem? Are you Nilrem, of the wizards? I have heard…”

“Indeed, I am, your lady.” As opposed to earlier, the reply came with humility instead of a rehearsed panache.

“But, what did you say? Who can hold you here for speaking your peace? I’ve never known of the wizards to be enemies of the king.”

“It is not always what one says. For some, it is simply saying anything. If the anything is the truth, and if it is the truth at all times, then some prefer that the speaker of the truth be banished.”

“How can this be?” she replied. “To whom must I speak in order to learn of your situation? If there is injustice occurring here beneath my feet, then I must do something. If I am…”

“Am what? Pure of heart? A lady of virtue? A practitioner of justice? A warrior for truth and its emancipation? Be cautioned about self-assurance. Sometimes, we speak of who we are, only to find out we are someone else.”

“Maybe I’m beginning to see why the someone who put you here did so,” said our lady of impassioned exculpation in pointed humor.

“Haha, Haha, Haha, I always did love a princess with an irreverent soul. It’s nice to make pleasantries with you, if I may say so, my dear lady. You’re a welcomed sight, even without a provided bowl of porridge for the evening.”

The banter between this newly acquainted duo continued for a bit, all the while revealing that the wizard’s plight was not one that could be solved overnight. A bit of a friendship had been spawned that evening, and it would carry over into many subsequent visits as the princess learned when she could more safely and secretly initiate her visits with the wizard. While talking to him about everything from his rather unfortunate situation, to how he became illegally incarcerated, as well as to all matters about life, the two became the most unlikely practitioners of philosophical jousting and parrying.

The fair lady’s wedding day was soon approaching, and it came to dominate her thoughts, even above that of the predicament encountered by her solitarily confined wizard. Also, as time passed, although she failed to become aware of it, she began to relish having a confidant at the level of a wizard’s wisdom. Her concern became growingly less about his liberation, and extensively more about his consultation. Subconsciously, she also came to believe that his oddity demanded that he best serve his role in life hidden away. Nilrem was to be regarded as a commodity, and not as a mortal. As her day of matrimony encroached, she became increasingly philosophical, and one night made way to Nilrem’s cell in order to gain counseling about her impending nuptials. Just as she stood gripping the iron bars of the locked door on the afternoon of her first meeting with Nilrem, she assumed the exact same stance, but this time with a much more determined grip. The two exchanged preliminary greetings of affection, as always, but she did not waste any time beyond their developed social protocol so she could straightway discuss her matrimony with her wizardly confidant.

“Tell me of my happiness. Is it wrong to want a man to be of a strengthened constitution, bold, and unwavering, while at the same time wondering of his own treatment of me? I am in admiration of his power, his outward proclamation, and swift dealings with anyone who dares cross him. And, yet, I sometimes question my value to him ultimately.”

The wizard was quick in his response as he rebutted,

“You have had to raise the question? But, you already have the answer within you. The choice of which you speak has already been made.”

“Nilrem, you have riddled me before, but what do you now mean? I am asking of you because I do not have the answer.”

“Remember, my dearest lady, I always tell the truth. I tell the truth again. Your answer already resides within you as to where your true nature lies.”

“What is this truth that you speak of? True nature? If already I had the answer, I would not be speaking with you of this matter!” exclaimed the frustrated bride.

“When we first met, you asked me who was responsible? Who did this to me?”

“Yes.”

“When did you last ask me this question?”

“I cannot remember? I have asked many times. I…”

“When was the last time you asked? It was when you last had so much less to lose.”

“To lose? What do you mean?”

“WHEN you last asked, you asked who did this to me? The someone who did this to me is of power, of outward proclamations, and who is swift in his dealings with anyone who dares to cross him.”

Silence overcame the cell and the hallway as the princess looked at her wizard with a visionless stare.

“But, there is more. The other half who complements him believes that some are only of value if they are tucked away from sight. Any open presence on their part is not welcomed, even when they have brought light to a heart that has been darkened by short sighting.”

In anger, the princess responded,

“What? How dare you accuse my love to have done this to you? And, how dare you accuse me, a woman of goodwill and beneficence, of contributing to such an injustice? I’d have to say that I’m coming to understand that I never really knew you, wizard.”

Nilrem then paused. He then also disappeared from the field of view of the barred opening of the door to where his friend could not see him. Momentarily, she heard a noise at the bottom of the door. It was the sound of metal rubbing across wooden planking. From beneath the bottom of the secured door emerged a key at the feet of the princess. She then heard the wizard say,

“You are a marvel of justice and rightness. This key is the key to the lock of my cell. It only opens from the outside. The power is now in your hands. Do what is in your heart.”

Her mind began to race at the madness of the situation. Why did the wizard have the key to his own cell? Of course, he is a wizard, so why would he not have made the key appear? But, if he had the magic to obtain the key, couldn’t he work some magic to open the cell? Or, if nothing else, couldn’t he simply use that wizard super intelligence to engineer some apparatus to get the key to the lock from the inside? Nothing was making sense, at least not practically.

In a moment of vexation, the princess of matrimony came back to her original thought and queried,

“How do you have the key to your own cell and, yet, you are still without your freedom?”

The jocular inmate replied, “Even wizards have ethics.”

The wizard said again, “Do what is in your heart.”

The auguror heard nothing for a moment as he crouched and sat by his cell door. There was no spoken response. However, he then heard wood making contact with wood. The small panel through which he and the princess always carried out communication had just been shut. But, then, he heard a more distressing sound. The sound of metal sliding along wooden planking made itself known. He watched as the key returned to him underneath the bottom of the door and back into his cell. Finally, there was the sound of footsteps in the distance as they faded in the direction of the stairway that would transport the princess back to her world above the ground.

The small candle on the table in the center of the wizard’s cell began to flicker. It then extinguished itself as the room became submerged in the candleless darkness. Had one been able to see in the dark with the naked eye, they would have seen the silhouette of a form making its way from its crouch by the door to the bed on the back right wall of the cell. The figure was shrouded in a dark coat that began in large collars, and ended where it dragged the floor in its flowing length. The wizard laid down on the bed in a listless way, as if all of the life in him had been drained in mere seconds. A short expulsion of breath exited his lungs as he quickly drifted into a deeply comatose slumber. Just before he entered the sleep, the magician thought about the next step in the repeating cycle. He knew that the small wooden panel with the knob covering the iron bars would open again someday.

But, he also fell asleep knowing, that the larger door itself would never be unlocked at all.

BT

10 thoughts on “Where There Is No Welcome

  1. Blaine, The wizard said again, “Do what is in your heart.” And you have brilliantly done so with this masterpiece of literature. The depth to which you write is as if you magically conjured up characters from a bygone era and they all knew how to perform in your melodramatic play. All giving the performance of a lifetime. Each perfectly fitting into the story as pieces of a puzzle. Each word spoken tantamount to how the story played out. You are a masterful story teller, my friend. Take several bows on life’s stage. Looking forward to your return on WP!

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    1. AMAZING WORDS, Lance. I may have to leave this post up just so I can re-read your comments for inspiration. 😀 It has always caught my attention how you not only write poems with such acuity, but then you take your same ability and produce words that are used to encourage others to create. That is a combination that only the greats really have. They have the mind in balance with the heart.

      Yes, I’ve been stubborn with my interest in empiricism, because hard data is what lets us understand the world the most concretely and strictly. But, I’ve always been equally endeared to the idea of wisdom, as well. I guess this fact is why I respond to allegory and parable. I think it takes the utilization of story in order to best illustrate the application of wisdom to life’s practice.

      When this short piece of writing came across my mind yesterday afternoon, I felt like I had to transfer it into digital copy before I forgot some details. The, “key test,” is one I’ve done many times over the years. By handing over the key, only then does one understand who is truly on the other side of the door. Sometimes, it is the ones you don’t expect to return the key that, in fact, do. It’s a simple psychological experiment that becomes so decisive because of the fact that total power of choice is rendered. I’ve learned more than just magic tricks from magicians over the years. I’m not interested in knowing who we are as humankind in terms of who we think we are, or who we hope we are. I’m devotedly interested in knowing who we really are? Such a question begins with me, and I have to always prepare myself for an ugly answer. The goal is to somehow make the reality match up with the hoped for ideals.

      The greater question with this story is just who really is imprisoned? Is it really the wizard who is unfree? As hard as it is to fathom, in the case of this story, it is, “thought,” that erects the iron bars and secured doors. It is actually thinking about things and sorting through them that creates the separation and isolation. It’s a concept to take note of. It’s hard to imagine quality thinking serving as an impediment, but it can be taken to be used in that way. And, what I can clue the reader in on is the fact that the wizard’s exasperation in the end is not due to lifelong confinement. Instead, it has to do with repetition of the same choices being made with the key. The wizard knows he will see a set of eyes again through the iron bars. And, then again. And, then again. All the while, he knows that the door itself will never be unlocked. The key is always pushed back to him underneath the door.

      If there is any depth, at all, in the piece, I hope it’s because the characters spring forth from the very truth that Nilrem speaks. My weakness has always been in writing dialogue. I think in the example of this story, I took observation from life and simply tried to let it convert itself into words. Any shortcomings in the process are strictly on me.

      I have always been fascinated by storytelling. It’s so neat that you make mention of it. The honor is all mine to be able to communicate with someone who has such an ability to convey a poetic story (a work of art, as well as a work of writing) with such an image rich language as is yours, Lance. In my opinion, story tells things about ourselves that become tangible. I can experience these illustrations. I know that I’ve been taught a lesson after I have read the work. It really is a thrill to get to chat about the significance of story with someone who treats it with the same respect that I have. Thanks so much for not only giving of your words, but of your own time, Lance, in stopping by to comment.

      If there are any other members of nobility or wizards out there in literature land finding their way through life that can teach all of us something, I wouldn’t mind discovering them and telling their stories. But, I still think it best that they channel more worthy pens so they are all represented duly.

      BT

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      1. Blaine, graciously appreciated- we, as writers, are all in this together helping, guiding, encouraging. Truly successful people never made it to the top of their profession with taking guidance or without giving guidance. Stepping on the backs of others in order to achieve excellence is tantamount to failure. No, lend a supporting hand is my motto.
        I totally agree- it’s all about utilization of story, of word placement to best illustrate one’s wisdom, of one’s beliefs!
        Clever, very clever… always best to get it down on ‘paper’ while the iron is hot so to speak. And of course, once you have the key, it must be handed over, cautiously perhaps. It’s all about truth in knowing, approached cautiously.
        One can be imprisoned without bars or locks, but in the mind- far more restrictive through a repetition of negative thoughts. Often, this leads to delusional thinking, not knowing what’s right and what’s wrong. Either way, having the right ‘key’ will unlock the truth.
        One needs dialogue in order to properly convey your deepest thoughts and meanings, you must be able to get across your points. Without doing so, you wouldn’t be able to develop each character. As you state, life’s experiences and observations work best.
        I’m very appreciative of your thoughts and meanings with regards to my poetry. In essence, storytelling is about yourself and life’s experiences. It should not be an assemblage of fancy words and metaphors used to impress others. Thank you- very refreshing indeed. It makes us better writers for doing so.
        Once we achieve a certain level, our next goal is to strive for greater heights of knowledge. It is a honorable pleasure in doing so, my friend! Best wishes… stay safe and be well.

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      2. That’s a welcomed nuance of the craft of writing. There is always that collaborative invitation that exists. Everyone wins when sharing and instruction take place. I personally, am very grateful that your motto is to lend a helping hand. It’s one thing to stand at a distance and admire someone’s work. It’s another when the composer of that work is willing to take time to advise on how they arrived at the completion of that work.

        And, yes, I guess that’s what makes each writer unique, apart from word arrangement or style. Each pen is individually bringing their own insight into fruition. It makes the craft that much more interesting. Someone may have seen the exact same thing in life and made note of it, but they may express it from a totally different angle. The other writer who saw the same thing learns by seeing it from an expressed frame of reference that is totally different.

        Yeah, to most readers this composition will just be a short piece of unimpressive fiction. But, the message, for me, is a noteworthy one. I felt it important enough not to let a detail slip away while it was fully resident in my memory. The story was told and recorded pretty much on the spot. And, you’re absolutely right, caution is the indelible word, here. In speaking from experience, handing the key over can come with irreparable repercussions. I always seemed to prefer the repercussions over the lie.

        I love your delineation between keys, both, “right,” and, “wrong.” With that focus, you bear in on why this written piece was an important one for me to see come to exist, “on paper.” And, your comments on dialogue are so invaluable. Most of any fiction I have written is devoid of dialogue since I am so weak with its infusion. I will just hang onto hope that the dialogue I chose above will suffice so as to transfer the intended message. If I were ever to try and write fiction on a regular basis, I guess I would have to get a degree in writing dialogue since I’m so far behind in that department. 😀

        You are always more than welcome in having your poetry lauded by me, someone who understands what it takes to accomplish the creations that you produce. And, your comments on storytelling are wonderful and teaching at the same time. Put emphasis on telling the story first. Get the story told in the way that it is meant to be told. The story itself comes ahead of technicality. I guess writers, indeed, are at their very best when they don’t hold back. They jump in without bridle and let the story flow from within.

        I absolutely love your closing comments. If we arrive at one level that we strove to obtain by bettering ourselves at a certain measure of skill, that is never the end. There is always another level. We are definitely always students. Pushing forward to the next level is where abundant reward resides.

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      3. Blaine, experience no doubt is the best teacher, albeit not necessarily always the quickest way to success. That’s where determination plays an important role, sticktoitiveness as it were. Least we remember though, patience- watch, read and learn from those who made it through honesty to the top (by use of stairs, not an elevator).
        On that climb to the top floor, no doubt you will pass others who are resting, or have given up. There is no shortcut, only exit doors where you’ll plummet right back to the ground floor. Very few get a second chance at success. For lack of a better word, it is there destiny.
        If you choose to make it, be an individualist. Be unique. I see more times than not poets who closely mimic others, and keep going for the ones who applaud them have never put their foot on the first step for fear of failure. Or perhaps think they can ride the coattails of others.
        As you’re ascending the golden stairs, you must closely examine where you are in relation to where you’ve been. Hone your skills as you climb. Be prudent, be mindful, be sharp. Let others lead, let others follow. But, always be yourself!
        It’s always a very sincere pleasure to exchange ideas with each other. *Not always sure about degrees. It may be right for some, but I’ve seen Lit Majors who were overly conceited because they had a degree. A piece of paper does not necessarily warrant exactitude. Be safe, be well, my friend.

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      4. No doubt written with the type of wisdom I referred to in my first reply. What insights to follow. I know you are talking from a wisdom that is both experiential and academic. Indeed the stairs. The quick and convenient way is not THE way. And, absolutely, I think it certainly behooves one to learn from those who have reached accomplishment in the right way.

        I love the illustration where the exit doors are a straight descent back to the very beginning. The battle takes place within the confines of the stairwell. One has to choose if they continue to make the climb. And, there’s that word, “destiny,” again. I’ve always looked at that word with great interest, and in how we take our own part in forming it; good or bad.

        And, you’re right, imitation may be a form of flattery, but the style being flattered has already been done. Bring something new to the craft. Bring self.

        That examination allows one to be an individual, doesn’t it? The exercise of prudence, mindfulness, and wit keeps the evaluation process churning so comparison can be made between today and yesterday, and where tomorrow’s goal needs to be. That golden stairwell has a different path for everyone. I guess that’s part of the contribution to its being golden.

        And, yes, degrees can be overly valued in many cases. I’ve seen this fact in the workaday world, where rules put on paper worked against the business when the person with the best practical capacity for holding a position couldn’t do so simply because they didn’t have that piece of paper. As many degrees as I wanted to ascertain, I was glad to find an example to emulate who only had a bachelor’s, but his acumen took him immediately into his writing so that he immediately began making contributions to the world. The world would have been delayed in its gift had this individual spent the time in obtaining graduate degrees. I’ve learned that we can perpetually be a student and learn what we aspire to, as well as how to put the knowledge into motion. If there is no motion, the knowledge becomes prostrate.

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      5. Blaine, personal integrity should be of the essence, not personal vendettas. Stepping upon the backs of others or using their ideas to climb to the top will surely, in time topple their success.
        Yes, one’s destiny. I’m not quite sure if I buy that colloquialism. Just because a person of notoriety had a claim to fame, does not necessarily mean their offspring will. Or if someone picks up shall we say a guitar when the stars are aligned, will they be destined to become famous.
        As each new generation arises, so does the competition. Nowadays, it’s get rich quick regardless of how you do it. Fame no doubt suffers as it teeters in an ill wind. I really do not believe the talent of today will be remembered in decades to come. However, there maybe those rare instances where a few extremely talented artists may survive the test of time.
        Exactly how much individuality is there anymore. If ‘talent’ today goes with the flow, or path of least resistance, is it more of being a copycat to induce a naive public. That is until they’re swayed by the next wannabe.
        Again, each individual is different. Each scenario is different. One person’s steak could be another’s poison. It’s (getting back to) individuality. If one feels they’ve gone as far as they can and will only open new doors with a degree, then perhaps they should earn one. There will always be stumbling blocks on the road to success. It’s how we overcome them that will ultimately determine our destiny. Peace and light, my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. So incredibly refreshing to hear someone reinforce this truth about personal integrity and not vendettas. I hope you’re right in that the self-serving motivations are always met with just decision. I’ve often wondered, even when Lady Justice’s blindfold was applied with the right intent, that the actual result was, instead, She too often misses that which should be met with justice.

        I agree with your suspicion of the word, “destiny.” It really comes down to an individual committing to a calling, and then putting in the work to get it done. No need to get caught up in grandiosity of terms. If it has been dreamed and it is of a redeeming end, simply submit to seeing the dream through.

        Yes, cookie cutter formulas, no doubt, go against the important individuality you have cited. Mass production hurts originality, even moreso if the primary incentive is only financial.

        One thing we do know, is that there can be more than one way to get there. I always said building the resume was the best part, because even if one doesn’t make it to the desired final destination, they’ve had a tremendous journey, all the same, in trying to get to the finish line.

        Thanks for writing with such moral claritude, Lance.

        I’ll be off for now to work on some research and editing. My own personal destination has been settled. I hope somewhere out there is someone with a promising future that is wide open so that this written exchange can serve in their honor.

        G’night

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      7. Blaine, one would think through personal motivation (and at times by being motivated by others in your field of endeavor) that it would be justifiable. One thing to remember, when one is a doer, you’re quite often bound to step on someone’s toes- that’s inevitable. Even Lady Justice is inclined to do so by those who would challenge or bend the laws of society.
        Destiny may have become another label, stuck on another unsuspecting child by ambitious parents. This easily applies to monarchs whose offspring are in line for the throne. But in the case of any artist (successful or not) thinking their child will be successful is more of a pipe dream than reality. And just because one decides to follow their dream does not necessarily make it their destiny.
        Get rich quick is generally short lived. So much of today is mass production, get the big bucks while you can and then set your eyes on the next cash cow.
        There are times where truly successful people have made their resumes along the way, one that isn’t necessarily on paper. Their success speaks for itself. Through my personal experience, as one ages, your achievements are no longer noticed, no matter how impressive your resume. Age is definitely a factor in society today. Unfortunately, we’re youth driven.
        Always a very sincere pleasure, my literary friend.
        Wishing you the absolute best in your continued journey. Yes, perhaps. If only one individual’s life is enhanced, then it was all worth the effort!
        Take care, be safe.

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  2. Glad to see you felt inspired to come back! There are no rules. Write and share as you see fit. As you see, people love it!

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