The adventure of Siblings

A short story that takes us through the power of the written word and preconceived notions, and all the small and big ways that life walks it´s very own and beautiful way.

Photography, and web adaptation by Michael A Koontz 2015, a Norse View Imaging and Publishing

Music of the day Sail into the black - by Machine Head

To the daisy that is my sun and inspiration

Chapters and pages, library and language menu to the left of the screen

The Baltimore Station was hot and crowded, so Lois was forced to stand by the telegraph desk for interminable, sticky seconds while a clerk with big front teeth counted and recounted a large lady’s day message, to determine whether it contained the innocuous forty-nine words or the fatal fifty-one.
Lois, waiting, decided she wasn’t quite sure of the address, so she took the letter out of her bag and ran over it again.

letters from Weird Howard

[then again, aren't we all perfectly imperfect, as we are.]

“Darling,” IT BEGAN—“I understand and I’m happier than life ever meant me to be. If I could give you the things you’ve always been in tune with — but I can’t Lois; we can’t marry and we can’t lose each other and let all this glorious love end in nothing.
“Until your letter came, dear, I’d been sitting here in the half dark and thinking where I could go and ever forget you; abroad, perhaps, to drift through Italy or Spain and dream away the pain of having lost you where the crumbling ruins of older, mellower civilizations would mirror only the desolation of my heart — and then your letter came.
“Sweetest, bravest girl, if you’ll wire me I’ll meet you in Wilmington — till then I’ll be here just waiting and hoping for every long dream of you to come true.


She had read the letter so many times that she knew it word by word, yet it still startled her. In it she found many faint reflections of the man who wrote it — the mingled sweetness and sadness in his dark eyes, the furtive, restless excitement she felt sometimes when he talked to her, his dreamy sensuousness that lulled her mind to sleep. Lois was nineteen and very romantic and curious and courageous.

The large lady and the clerk having compromised on fifty words, Lois took a blank and wrote her telegram. And there were no overtones to the finality of her decision.
It’s just destiny — she thought — it’s just the way things work out in this damn world. If cowardice is all that’s been holding me back there won’t be any more holding back. So we’ll just let things take their course and never be sorry.
The clerk scanned her telegram:

“Arrived Baltimore today spend day with my brother meet me Wilmington three P.M. Wednesday Love

“Fifty-four cents,” said the clerk admiringly.
And never be sorry — thought Lois — and never be sorry ——


the Blanket of night and dream is where tomorrows amber day field is born

Trees filtering light onto dapple grass. Trees like tall, languid ladies with feather fans coquetting airily with the ugly roof of the monastery. Trees like butlers, bending courteously over placid walks and paths. Trees, trees over the hills on either side and scattering out in clumps and lines and woods all through eastern Maryland, delicate lace on the hems of many yellow fields, dark opaque backgrounds for flowered bushes or wild climbing garden.

Some of the trees were very gay and young, but the monastery trees were older than the monastery which, by true monastic standards, wasn’t very old at all. And, as a matter of fact, it wasn’t technically called a monastery, but only a seminary; nevertheless it shall be a monastery here despite its Victorian architecture or its Edward VII additions, or even its Woodrow Wilsonian, patented, last-a-century roofing.
Out behind was the farm where half a dozen lay brothers were sweating lustily as they moved with deadly efficiency around the vegetable-gardens. To the left, behind a row of elms, was an informal baseball diamond where three novices were being batted out by a fourth, amid great chasings and puffings and blowings. And in front as a great mellow bell boomed the half-hour a swarm of black, human leaves were blown over the checker-board of paths under the courteous trees.

Some of these black leaves were very old with cheeks furrowed like the first ripples of a splashed pool. Then there was a scattering of middle-aged leaves whose forms when viewed in profile in their revealing gowns were beginning to be faintly unsymmetrical.
These carried thick volumes of Thomas Aquinas and Henry James and Cardinal Mercier and Immanuel Kant and many bulging note-books filled with lecture data.
But most numerous were the young leaves; blond boys of nineteen with very stern, conscientious expressions; men in the late twenties with a keen self-assurance from having taught out in the world for five years — several hundreds of them, from city and town and country in Maryland and Pennsylvania and Virginia and West Virginia and Delaware.
There were many Americans and some Irish and some tough Irish and a few French, and several Italians and Poles, and they walked informally arm in arm with each other in twos and threes or in long rows, almost universally distinguished by the straight mouth and the considerable chin — for this was the Society of Jesus, founded in Spain five hundred years before by a tough-minded soldier who trained men to hold a breach or a salon, preach a sermon or write a treaty, and do it and not argue . . .

Lois got out of a bus into the sunshine down by the outer gate. She was nineteen with yellow hair and eyes that people were tactful enough not to call green. When men of talent saw her in a street-car they often furtively produced little stub-pencils and backs of envelopes and tried to sum up that profile or the thing that the eyebrows did to her eyes.

Later they looked at their results and usually tore them up with wondering sighs.

Though Lois was very jauntily attired in an expensively appropriate travelling affair, she did not linger to pat out the dust which covered her clothes, but started up the central walk with curious glances at either side. Her face was very eager and expectant, yet she hadn’t at all that glorified expression that girls wear when they arrive for a Senior Prom at Princeton or New Haven; still, as there were no senior proms here, perhaps it didn’t matter.
She was wondering what he would look like, whether she’d possibly know him from his picture. In the picture, which hung over her mother’s bureau at home, he seemed very young and hollow-cheeked and rather pitiful, with only a well-developed mouth and all ill-fitting probationer’s gown to show that he had already made a momentous decision about his life. Of course he had been only nineteen then and now he was thirty-six — didn’t look like that at all; in recent snap-shots he was much broader and his hair had grown a little thin — but the impression of her brother she had always retained was that of the big picture.

And so she had always been a little sorry for him. What a life for a man! Seventeen years of preparation and he wasn’t even a priest yet — wouldn’t be for another year.

Lois had an idea that this was all going to be rather solemn if she let it be. But she was going to give her very best imitation of undiluted sunshine, the imitation she could give even when her head was splitting or when her mother had a nervous breakdown or when she was particularly romantic and curious and courageous. This brother of hers undoubtedly needed cheering up, and he was going to be cheered up, whether he liked it or not.
As she drew near the great, homely front door she saw a man break suddenly away from a group and, pulling up the skirts of his gown, run toward her. He was smiling, she noticed, and he looked very big and — and reliable. She stopped and waited, knew that her heart was beating unusually fast.
“Lois!” he cried, and in a second she was in his arms. She was suddenly trembling.
“Lois!” he cried again, “why, this is wonderful! I can’t tell you, Lois, how MUCH I’ve looked forward to this. Why, Lois, you’re beautiful!”

Lois gasped.

His voice, though restrained, was vibrant with energy and that odd sort of enveloping personality she had thought that she only of the family possessed.
“I’m mighty glad, too — Kieth.”
She flushed, but not unhappily, at this first use of his name.
“Lois — Lois — Lois,” he repeated in wonder. “Child, we’ll go in here a minute, because I want you to meet the rector, and then we’ll walk around. I have a thousand things to talk to you about.”

His voice became graver. “How’s mother?”

She looked at him for a moment and then said something that she had not intended to say at all, the very sort of thing she had resolved to avoid.
“Oh, Kieth — she’s — she’s getting worse all the time, every way.”

He nodded slowly as if he understood.
“Nervous, well — you can tell me about that later. Now ——”
She was in a small study with a large desk, saying something to a little, jovial, white-haired priest who retained her hand for some seconds.
“So this is Lois!”
He said it as if he had heard of her for years.

He entreated her to sit down.

Two other priests arrived enthusiastically and shook hands with her and addressed her as “Kieth’s little sister,” which she found she didn’t mind a bit.
How assured they seemed; she had expected a certain shyness, reserve at least. There were several jokes unintelligible to her, which seemed to delight every one, and the little Father Rector referred to the trio of them as “dim old monks,” which she appreciated, because of course they weren’t monks at all. She had a lightning impression that they were especially fond of Kieth — the Father Rector had called him “Kieth” and one of the others had kept a hand on his shoulder all through the conversation. Then she was shaking hands again and promising to come back a little later for some ice-cream, and smiling and smiling and being rather absurdly happy . . . she told herself that it was because Kieth was so delighted in showing her off.
Then she and Kieth were strolling along a path, arm in arm, and he was informing her what an absolute jewel the Father Rector was.

“Lois,” he broken off suddenly, “I want to tell you before we go any farther how much it means to me to have you come up here. I think it was — mighty sweet of you. I know what a gay time you’ve been having.”
Lois gasped. She was not prepared for this. At first when she had conceived the plan of taking the hot journey down to Baltimore staying the night with a friend and then coming out to see her brother, she had felt rather consciously virtuous, hoped he wouldn’t be priggish or resentful about her not having come before — but walking here with him under the trees seemed such a little thing, and surprisingly a happy thing.
“Why, Kieth,” she said quickly, “you know I couldn’t have waited a day longer. I saw you when I was five, but of course I didn’t remember, and how could I have gone on without practically ever having seen my only brother?”

“It was mighty sweet of you, Lois,” he repeated.

Lois blushed — he DID have personality.
“I want you to tell me all about yourself,” he said after a pause. “Of course I have a general idea what you and mother did in Europe those fourteen years, and then we were all so worried, Lois, when you had pneumonia and couldn’t come down with mother — let’s see that was two years ago — and then, well, I’ve seen your name in the papers, but it’s all been so unsatisfactory. I haven’t known you, Lois.”
She found herself analyzing his personality as she analyzed the personality of every man she met. She wondered if the effect of — of intimacy that he gave was bred by his constant repetition of her name. He said it as if he loved the word, as if it had an inherent meaning to him.
“Then you were at school,” he continued.
“Yes, at Farmington. Mother wanted me to go to a convent — but I didn’t want to.”
She cast a side glance at him to see if he would resent this.

But he only nodded slowly.

“Had enough convents abroad, eh?”
“Yes — and Kieth, convents are different there anyway. Here even in the nicest ones there are so many COMMON girls.”

He nodded again.

“Yes,” he agreed, “I suppose there are, and I know how you feel about it. It grated on me here, at first, Lois, though I wouldn’t say that to any one but you; we’re rather sensitive, you and I, to things like this.”
“You mean the men here?”
“Yes, some of them of course were fine, the sort of men I’d always been thrown with, but there were others; a man named Regan, for instance — I hated the fellow, and now he’s about the best friend I have. A wonderful character, Lois; you’ll meet him later. Sort of man you’d like to have with you in a fight.”
Lois was thinking that Kieth was the sort of man she’d like to have with HER in a fight.
“How did you — how did you first happen to do it?” she asked, rather shyly, “to come here, I mean. Of course mother told me the story about the Pullman car.”
“Oh, that ——” He looked rather annoyed.
“Tell me that. I’d like to hear you tell it.”

“Oh, it’s nothing except what you probably know. It was evening and I’d been riding all day and thinking about — about a hundred things, Lois, and then suddenly I had a sense that some one was sitting across from me, felt that he’d been there for some time, and had a vague idea that he was another traveller. All at once he leaned over toward me and I heard a voice say: ‘I want you to be a priest, that’s what I want.’ Well I jumped up and cried out, ‘Oh, my God, not that!’— made an idiot of myself before about twenty people; you see there wasn’t any one sitting there at all. A week after that I went to the Jesuit College in Philadelphia and crawled up the last flight of stairs to the rector’s office on my hands and knees.”
There was another silence and Lois saw that her brother’s eyes wore a far-away look, that he was staring unseeingly out over the sunny fields. She was stirred by the modulations of his voice and the sudden silence that seemed to flow about him when he finished speaking.
She noticed now that his eyes were of the same fibre as hers, with the green left out, and that his mouth was much gentler, really, than in the picture — or was it that the face had grown up to it lately? He was getting a little bald just on top of his head. She wondered if that was from wearing a hat so much. It seemed awful for a man to grow bald and no one to care about it.
“Were you — pious when you were young, Kieth?” she asked. “You know what I mean. Were you religious? If you don’t mind these personal questions.”
“Yes,” he said with his eyes still far away — and she felt that his intense abstraction was as much a part of his personality as his attention. “Yes, I suppose I was, when I was — sober.”

Lois thrilled slightly.
“Did you drink?”
He nodded.
“I was on the way to making a bad hash of things.” He smiled and, turning his gray eyes on her, changed the subject.
“Child, tell me about mother. I know it’s been awfully hard for you there, lately. I know you’ve had to sacrifice a lot and put up with a great deal and I want you to know how fine of you I think it is. I feel, Lois, that you’re sort of taking the place of both of us there.”
Lois thought quickly how little she had sacrificed; how lately she had constantly avoided her nervous, half-invalid mother.
“Youth shouldn’t be sacrificed to age, Kieth,” she said steadily.
“I know,” he sighed, “and you oughtn’t to have the weight on your shoulders, child. I wish I were there to help you.”
She saw how quickly he had turned her remark and instantly she knew what this quality was that he gave off. He was SWEET. Her thoughts went of on a side-track and then she broke the silence with an odd remark.
“Sweetness is hard,” she said suddenly.

“Nothing,” she denied in confusion. “I didn’t mean to speak aloud. I was thinking of something — of a conversation with a man named Freddy Kebble.”
“Maury Kebble’s brother?”
“Yes,” she said rather surprised to think of him having known Maury Kebble. Still there was nothing strange about it. “Well, he and I were talking about sweetness a few weeks ago. Oh, I don’t know — I said that a man named Howard — that a man I knew was sweet, and he didn’t agree with me, and we began talking about what sweetness in a man was: He kept telling me I meant a sort of soppy softness, but I knew I didn’t — yet I didn’t know exactly how to put it. I see now. I meant just the opposite. I suppose real sweetness is a sort of hardness — and strength.”
Kieth nodded.

“I see what you mean. I’ve known old priests who had it.”
“I’m talking about young men,” she said rather defiantly.
They had reached the now deserted baseball diamond and, pointing her to a wooden bench, he sprawled full length on the grass.
“Are these YOUNG men happy here, Kieth?”
“Don’t they look happy, Lois?”
“I suppose so, but those YOUNG ones, those two we just passed — have they — are they ——?
“Are they signed up?” he laughed. “No, but they will be next month.”
“Yes — unless they break down mentally or physically. Of course in a discipline like ours a lot drop out.”

“But those BOYS. Are they giving up fine chances outside — like you did?”

He nodded.
“Some of them.”
“But Kieth, they don’t know what they’re doing. They haven’t had any experience of what they’re missing.”
“No, I suppose not.”
“It doesn’t seem fair. Life has just sort of scared them at first. Do they all come in so YOUNG?”
“No, some of them have knocked around, led pretty wild lives — Regan, for instance.”
“I should think that sort would be better,” she said meditatively, “men that had SEEN life.”
“No,” said Kieth earnestly, “I’m not sure that knocking about gives a man the sort of experience he can communicate to others. Some of the broadest men I’ve known have been absolutely rigid about themselves. And reformed libertines are a notoriously intolerant class. Don’t you thank so, Lois?”

She nodded, still meditative, and he continued:

“It seems to me that when one weak reason goes to another, it isn’t help they want; it’s a sort of companionship in guilt, Lois. After you were born, when mother began to get nervous she used to go and weep with a certain Mrs. Comstock. Lord, it used to make me shiver. She said it comforted her, poor old mother. No, I don’t think that to help others you’ve got to show yourself at all. Real help comes from a stronger person whom you respect. And their sympathy is all the bigger because it’s impersonal.”
“But people want human sympathy,” objected Lois. “They want to feel the other person’s been tempted.”
“Lois, in their hearts they want to feel that the other person’s been weak. That’s what they mean by human.
“Here in this old monkery, Lois,” he continued with a smile, “they try to get all that self-pity and pride in our own wills out of us right at the first. They put us to scrubbing floors — and other things. It’s like that idea of saving your life by losing it. You see we sort of feel that the less human a man is, in your sense of human, the better servant he can be to humanity. We carry it out to the end, too. When one of us dies his family can’t even have him then. He’s buried here under plain wooden cross with a thousand others.”
His tone changed suddenly and he looked at her with a great brightness in his gray eyes.
“But way back in a man’s heart there are some things he can’t get rid of — an one of them is that I’m awfully in love with my little sister.”
With a sudden impulse she knelt beside him in the grass and, Leaning over, kissed his forehead.
“You’re hard, Kieth,” she said, “and I love you for it — and you’re sweet.”

Back in the reception-room Lois met a half-dozen more of Kieth’s particular friends; there was a young man named Jarvis, rather pale and delicate-looking, who, she knew, must be a grandson of old Mrs. Jarvis at home, and she mentally compared this ascetic with a brace of his riotous uncles.
And there was Regan with a scarred face and piercing intent eyes that followed her about the room and often rested on Kieth with something very like worship. She knew then what Kieth had meant about “a good man to have with you in a fight.”
He’s the missionary type — she thought vaguely — China or something.

the Missionary type

[that fed the hungry souls in rural China.]

“I want Kieth’s sister to show us what the shimmy is,” demanded one young man with a broad grin.
Lois laughed.
“I’m afraid the Father Rector would send me shimmying out the gate. Besides, I’m not an expert.”
“I’m sure it wouldn’t be best for Jimmy’s soul anyway,” said Kieth solemnly. “He’s inclined to brood about things like shimmys. They were just starting to do the — maxixe, wasn’t it, Jimmy? — when he became a monk, and it haunted him his whole first year. You’d see him when he was peeling potatoes, putting his arm around the bucket and making irreligious motions with his feet.”
There was a general laugh in which Lois joined.

“An old lady who comes here to Mass sent Kieth this ice-cream,” whispered Jarvis under cover of the laugh, “because she’d heard you were coming. It’s pretty good, isn’t it?”
There were tears trembling in Lois’ eyes.

Then half an hour later over in the chapel things suddenly went all wrong. It was several years since Lois had been at Benediction and at first she was thrilled by the gleaming monstrance with its central spot of white, the air rich and heavy with incense, and the sun shining through the stained-glass window of St. Francis Xavier overhead and falling in warm red tracery on the cassock of the man in front of her, but at the first notes of the “O SALUTARIS HOSTIA” a heavy weight seemed to descend upon her soul. Kieth was on her right and young Jarvis on her left, and she stole uneasy glance at both of them.
What’s the matter with me? she thought impatiently.
She looked again. Was there a certain coldness in both their profiles, that she had not noticed before — a pallor about the mouth and a curious set expression in their eyes? She shivered slightly: they were like dead men.
She felt her soul recede suddenly from Kieth’s. This was her brother — this, this unnatural person. She caught herself in the act of a little laugh.
“What is the matter with me?”

She passed her hand over her eyes and the weight increased. The incense sickened her and a stray, ragged note from one of the tenors in the choir grated on her ear like the shriek of a slate-pencil. She fidgeted, and raising her hand to her hair touched her forehead, found moisture on it.
“It’s hot in here, hot as the deuce.”

Again she repressed a faint laugh and, then in an instant the weight on her heart suddenly diffused into cold fear. . . . It was that candle on the altar. It was all wrong — wrong. Why didn’t somebody see it? There was something IN it. There was something coming out of it, taking form and shape above it.
She tried to fight down her rising panic, told herself it was the wick. If the wick wasn’t straight, candles did something — but they didn’t do this! With incalculable rapidity a force was gathering within her, a tremendous, assimilative force, drawing from every sense, every corner of her brain, and as it surged up inside her she felt an enormous terrified repulsion. She drew her arms in close to her side away from Kieth and Jarvis.
Something in that candle . . . she was leaning forward — in another moment she felt she would go forward toward it — didn’t any one see it? . . . anyone?

She felt a space beside her and something told her that Jarvis had gasped and sat down very suddenly . . . then she was kneeling and as the flaming monstrance slowly left the altar in the hands of the priest, she heard a great rushing noise in her ears — the crash of the bells was like hammer-blows . . . and then in a moment that seemed eternal a great torrent rolled over her heart — there was a shouting there and a lashing as of waves . . .

. . . She was calling, felt herself calling for Kieth, her lips mouthing the words that would not come:
“Kieth! Oh, my God! KIETH!”
Suddenly she became aware of a new presence, something external, in front of her, consummated and expressed in warm red tracery. Then she knew. It was the window of St. Francis Xavier. Her mind gripped at it, clung to it finally, and she felt herself calling again endlessly, impotently — Kieth — Kieth!
Then out of a great stillness came a voice:

With a gradual rumble sounded the response rolling heavily through the chapel:
“Blessed be God.”
The words sang instantly in her heart; the incense lay mystically and sweetly peaceful upon the air, and THE CANDLE ON THE ALTAR WENT OUT.
“Blessed be His Holy Name.”
“Blessed be His Holy Name.”
Everything blurred into a swinging mist. With a sound half-gasp, half-cry she rocked on her feet and reeled backward into Kieth’s suddenly outstretched arms.

“Lie still, child.”
She closed her eyes again. She was on the grass outside, pillowed on Kieth’s arm, and Regan was dabbing her head with a cold towel.
“I’m all right,” she said quietly.
“I know, but just lie still a minute longer. It was too hot in there. Jarvis felt it, too.”

She laughed as Regan again touched her gingerly with the towel.
“I’m all right,” she repeated.

But though a warm peace was falling her mind and heart she felt oddly broken and chastened, as if some one had held her stripped soul up and laughed.

Half an hour later she walked leaning on Kieth’s arm down the long central path toward the gate.
“It’s been such a short afternoon,” he sighed, “and I’m so sorry you were sick, Lois.”
“Kieth, I’m feeling fine now, really; I wish you wouldn’t worry.”
“Poor old child. I didn’t realize that Benediction’d be a long service for you after your hot trip out here and all.”

She laughed cheerfully.

“I guess the truth is I’m not much used to Benediction. Mass is the limit of my religious exertions.”
She paused and then continued quickly:
“I don’t want to shock you, Kieth, but I can’t tell you how — how INCONVENIENT being a Catholic is. It really doesn’t seem to apply any more. As far as morals go, some of the wildest boys I know are Catholics. And the brightest boys — I mean the ones who think and read a lot, don’t seem to believe in much of anything any more.”
“Tell me about it. The bus won’t be here for another half-hour.”

They sat down on a bench by the path.
“For instance, Gerald Carter, he’s published a novel. He absolutely roars when people mention immortality. And then Howa — well, another man I’ve known well, lately, who was Phi Beta Kappa at Harvard says that no intelligent person can believe in Supernatural Christianity. He says Christ was a great socialist, though. Am I shocking you?”

She broke off suddenly.
Kieth smiled.

“You can’t shock a monk. He’s a professional shock-absorber.”
“Well,” she continued, “that’s about all. It seems so — so NARROW. Church schools, for instance. There’s more freedom about things that Catholic people can’t see — like birth control.”
Kieth winced, almost imperceptibly, but Lois saw it.
“Oh,” she said quickly, “everybody talks about everything now.”
“It’s probably better that way.”
“Oh, yes, much better. Well, that’s all, Kieth. I just wanted to tell you why I’m a little — luke-warm, at present.”
“I’m not shocked, Lois. I understand better than you think. We all go through those times. But I know it’ll come out all right, child. There’s that gift of faith that we have, you and I, that’ll carry us past the bad spots.”

He rose as he spoke and they started again down the path.
“I want you to pray for me sometimes, Lois. I think your prayers would be about what I need. Because we’ve come very close in these few hours, I think.”
Her eyes were suddenly shining.
“Oh we have, we have!” she cried. “I feel closer to you now than to any one in the world.”
He stopped suddenly and indicated the side of the path.
“We might — just a minute ——”
It was a pietà, a life-size statue of the Blessed Virgin set within a semicircle of rocks.
Feeling a little self-conscious she dropped on her knees beside him and made an unsuccessful attempt at prayer.
She was only half through when he rose. He took her arm again.

“I wanted to thank Her for letting as have this day together,” he said simply.
Lois felt a sudden lump in her throat and she wanted to say something that would tell him how much it had meant to her, too. But she found no words.
“I’ll always remember this,” he continued, his voice trembling a little ——“this summer day with you. It’s been just what I expected. You’re just what I expected, Lois.”
“I’m awfully glad, Keith.”
“You see, when you were little they kept sending me snap-shots of you, first as a baby and then as a child in socks playing on the beach with a pail and shovel, and then suddenly as a wistful little girl with wondering, pure eyes — and I used to build dreams about you. A man has to have something living to cling to. I think, Lois, it was your little white soul I tried to keep near me — even when life was at its loudest and every intellectual idea of God seemed the sheerest mockery, and desire and love and a million things came up to me and said: ‘Look here at me! See, I’m Life. You’re turning your back on it!’ All the way through that shadow, Lois, I could always see your baby soul flitting on ahead of me, very frail and clear and wonderful.”
Lois was crying softly. They had reached the gate and she rested her elbow on it and dabbed furiously at her eyes.
“And then later, child, when you were sick I knelt all one night and asked God to spare you for me — for I knew then that I wanted more; He had taught me to want more. I wanted to know you moved and breathed in the same world with me. I saw you growing up, that white innocence of yours changing to a flame and burning to give light to other weaker souls. And then I wanted some day to take your children on my knee and hear them call the crabbed old monk Uncle Kieth.”
He seemed to be laughing now as he talked.

take a look at the sky, just before you die

“Oh, Lois, Lois, I was asking God for more then. I wanted the letters you’d write me and the place I’d have at your table. I wanted an awful lot, Lois, dear.”

“You’ve got me, Kieth,” she sobbed “you know it, say you know it. Oh, I’m acting like a baby but I didn’t think you’d be this way, and I— oh, Kieth — Kieth ——”
He took her hand and patted it softly.
“Here’s the bus. You’ll come again won’t you?”
She put her hands on his cheeks, add drawing his head down, pressed her tear-wet face against his.
Oh, Kieth, brother, some day I’ll tell you something.”
He helped her in, saw her take down her handkerchief and smile bravely at him, as the driver kicked his whip and the bus rolled off. Then a thick cloud of dust rose around it and she was gone.
For a few minutes he stood there on the road his hand on the gate-post, his lips half parted in a smile.
“Lois,” he said aloud in a sort of wonder, “Lois, Lois.”
Later, some probationers passing noticed him kneeling before the pietà, and coming back after a time found him still there. And he was there until twilight came down and the courteous trees grew garrulous overhead and the crickets took up their burden of song in the dusky grass.

The first clerk in the telegraph booth in the Baltimore Station whistled through his buck teeth at the second clerk:
“See that girl — no, the pretty one with the big black dots on her veil. Too late — she’s gone. You missed somep’n.”
“What about her?”
“Nothing. ‘Cept she’s damn good-looking. Came in here yesterday and sent a wire to some guy to meet her somewhere. Then a minute ago she came in with a telegram all written out and was standin’ there goin’ to give it to me when she changed her mind or somep’n and all of a sudden tore it up.”
The first clerk came around tile counter and picking up the two pieces of paper from the floor put them together idly. The second clerk read them over his shoulder and subconsciously counted the words as he read. There were just thirteen.

“This is in the way of a permanent goodbye. I should suggest Italy.

“Tore it up, eh?” said the second clerk.


Was written by

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Author(s) and photography

F. Scott Fitzgerald
Michael A Koontz

To the daisy that is my sun and inspiration

   Author page, Michael A Koontz
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2014, 2015

a Norse View

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Last Few Published Books and Articles

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 31, What´s up with that biceps, give us the lowdown.

    Quality time needed: 4 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 31 in our School of Fitness.
    When we are talking and thinking about muscles and keeping fit, Biceps is not just one of the more iconic names in the world of fitness and the human anatomy, it is also a very visible muscle that truly pops on people that keep healthy fit. But where on your body can you actually locate your biceps muscle and more importantly is the name biceps only referring to one muscle or do we have more than one biceps on our body?
    And so, my question for you is as follows:
    Can you tell us if the human anatomy have one or more muscles with the name biceps, and where are they/it located?.

  • A life of health & fitness. Life is a wondrous journey and this is a rough view of this years fitness journey ( the way I do it ).

    Quality time needed: 14 minutes

    Complete the circle of health & fitness.
    Every single day.
    Fitness, Food & Health is nothing but the science of a healthy, fun life :).

    The following is a rudimentary overview of my health & fitness life from Jan 1, 2018, to Jan 1, 2019. Some fitness folks think the world of planning ahead, and some absolutely do need a firm plan for the months and even year ahead.
    Short term goals firmly lined up and long-term goal posts holding their own further out make a world of difference for some. And your own goals can be about certain PB´s, they can involve reaching a certain body fat % or strength goal. Other common goals have to do with cardiovascular performance and might be focused on improving your lactate levels, running speed, zone levels or maximum heart rate. And for competitive pro athletes, those goals usually involve specific competitions and championships.

    So yes, setting up a rough schedule in advance of your fitness year can make a lot of sense.
    Just as how a lot of people count daily steps and calories.

  • Fitness School. Question 30, Let us talk about biological aging and our T cells and that beautiful little Thymus.

    Quality time needed: 6 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 30 in our School of Fitness.
    You all know that I have been a vocal proponent of how we do not simply grow old like some archaic fairy tale myth where people are doomed to live fat and unhealthy and frail once they leave their 20´s behind them.
    No instead, my science-backed message has for years been that we simply create and manage our own aging process according to our own choices in food, life, and fitness.
    Be it lean muscle mass, body fat, bone health, even our brain and plenty of natural hormones. Our daily choices carry such incredible weight when it comes down to all these aspects of our own wellbeing and health, much more so than the number of years we have lived or the genes we inherit. And Science proves me right on all these things, over and over, and over again.

    But, how about our immune system? In sedentary people, our thymus slowly becomes less capable as we mature beyond our 20´s. That is a simple fact.
    And so, my question for you:
    Will regular fitness stomp aging in the face or is the thymus and the stuff it does for us destined to go wry as we age no matter our fitness and food choices?.

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 29, How prevalent is plastic litter amongst deep sea fish.

    Quality time needed: 6 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 29 in our School of Fitness.
    We have previously talked about getting enough natural amounts of omega 3 in our food. So let us cast our net a bit wider and deeper as we go hunting for natural Omega 3 sources in the deep sea.
    Yes, we are what we eat kiddos.
    And so, the time has come to talk about one of the better Omega 3 sources out there, which is fish ( like cows, fish love munching away on plant-based food such as Algae and so they end up with a ton of Omega 3, and so can you. ), and outside of Omega 3 fish also used to be a sustainable source of proteins and omega 3 amongst other things.
    The key word is used to be. But like us, and the cows, fish are what they eat.
    And today, outside of depleted fish stocks, fish swim in bodies of waters, polluted, and depleted of oxygen and ruined by us, the human species. And as health & fitness loving professionals and human beings, we always have to consider the world we live in, because we are all what we eat and the way we live becomes the state of our body & mind, life, and health. And if the fish you eat is full of toxins, plastic, and other unhealthy things, that is what you too will consume and thus, become.
    So, here is my question:
    How prevalent is plastic pollution in deep sea fish right now?.

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 28, Let us get healthy and dirty with Omega 3 and milk.

    Quality time needed: 6 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 28 in our School of Fitness.
    As far as health & fitness goes, eating healthy food on a daily basis is the ever-present and perfectly fitted glove that wraps the fit hand that is regular and challenging workouts in the gym.
    And one of those nutritious, and essential for our health, nutrient staples are Omega 3´s. We get it in all sorts of seafood. And we can get it from omega 3 fortified foods such as eggs.
    Another wonderful omega 3 source are plant-based foods such as chia seeds. But, meat and dairy products from grass-fed cattle can also contain natural amounts of omega 3.
    So, here is my question:
    How much Omega 3 do you actually get from one L ( 1L ) of milk produced from grass fed cattle?.

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 27, How big do you need your daily calorie deficit to be, in order to roughly drop 250g of bodyfat per week.

    Quality time needed: 7 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 27 in our School of Fitness.
    From a healthy fit perspective, both short & long term, what we need to sculpt is a life of daily physical activity in the right amount and the right intensity coupled with healthy food choices and the proper amount of nutrients.
    And those healthy choices include making sure that we get enough of those healthy nutrients in order to perform, in the gym and daily life, and we need enough of them in order for our body and mind to stay healthy, happy, capable and fit.
    Eat too little protein and you will start losing lean muscle mass, and your health will start to decline too since proteins are not just the major building blocks of our muscles, they are in fact the mud and water, wood and concrete that builds our entire body, be it your internal organs, your skin, hair, muscles, cells, or our brain.
    And the total amount of daily calories we consume is, of course, pretty much the same thing, eat too little in total, and you will start noticing how your health and fitness level slowly deteriorate. And if you do the opposite and stuff your tummy full with too many daily calories you will start gaining pure body fat in excessive amounts and it will continue to build unless you change your daily choices.
    So, here is my question:
    How big do you need to make your daily calorie deficit in order to lose 250g of body fat per week ( roughly ) while eating enough protein to preserve your lean muscle mass?.

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 26, Black coffee, is it a natural diuretic that causes dehydration or a health improving rehydrating drink?

    Quality time needed: 4 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 26 in our School of Fitness.
    Black coffee, the mere words are capable of sending hundreds of millions of people into a state of Nirvana filled with transcending bliss and harmony :).
    But black coffee is also a cup of rejuvenating health for our entire system. It calms the mind with its slowly rising aroma, helps us keep cancer and diabetes at bay, harnesses our creative focus like an arrow in flight, and in enough quantities, it can even boost peoples gym going efforts.
    But is there all there is to it?. Well, here is my question:
    Is the old saying true that your daily coffee drives so much fluid out of your body that you need to supplement your coffee intake with equal measures water too in order to stay hydrated?.

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 25, Tell us the major muscles in your back.

    Quality time needed: 3 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 25 in our School of Fitness.
    Outside of our legs and ass, there is no other muscle group that comes close to sheer size, strength, health impact and lean muscle mass potential than our back. So as exhausting as a proper back workout is, this is one big and essential muscle group you should never skimp out on, no matter if your own goals are all in on health and wellness, sports or just sheer looks, or all of the above.
    Here is my question:
    Tell me the major muscles that makes up our back. Straight and simple folks.

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 24, Can Maintained Fitness prevent the negative health impact of chemotherapy?.

    Quality time needed: 4 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 24 in our School of Fitness.
    Chemotherapy is one of those crucial things that no one ever hoped to one day experience. But when the going gets real tough in life, its a life saver.
    However, undergoing Chemotherapy is no walk in the park and while it can save your life and defeat cancer, it will also take its toll on your body. So much so that a recent study from Australia revealed that just 13 weeks of chemotherapy caused the heart to age by an equivalent of six years.
    Here is my question:
    Can maintained fitness exercise during chemotherapy prevent the now established cardiovascular aging associated with chemotherapy?.

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 23, How much will my daily fitness activity reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease?.

    Quality time needed: 4 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 23 in our School of Fitness.
    How are you enjoying 2018 so far?. I am having a blast, in the gym and outside it, workouts are wondrously good and that is because I stay at it, week in and week out. Stay persistent with food and fitness people and reap the benefits in body & mind. Keeping to a daily fitness schedule is just a choice, after all, and a very healthy choice at that.

    And, for the next fitness school question, let us dig deep down on that word "persistent" and uncover just how much weekly fitness will scientifically aid your health on low, moderate and intense fitness levels.
    And as such, here is my question for you:
    Can as little as 30 minutes of daily low-level physical fitness activity reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by as much as 24% compared to not doing that daily activity?.

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 22, is there any difference at all in recovery capacity after a hard leg workout in the gym depending on your biological age?.

    Quality time needed: 9 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 22 in our School of Fitness.
    2017 came and went in a glorious display of Northern lights. But now that we are all one year older. Let us take a look at that age-old saying that we recover worse and slower after a hard workout in the gym as we grow beyond our 30´s.
    Is there any truth to this at all? Or is this just one more thing that people got wrong in the name of lacking insight, age-related fears, and youth-obsessed peer pressure?.
    To put it simply.
    Will the 22-year-old you recover better after a kick-ass weight lifting workout in the gym doing intense deadlifts than the 50 year old you will be able to do, or can you safely go at it just as hard knowing that you will recover and improve just as good?.

  • Fitness & Health: Going plant-based with your food choices is one of the better food choices you can do.

    Quality time needed: 2 minutes

    Complete the circle.
    Every single day.
    Fitness, Food & Health, its just science baby, smiles, sweat and science :).

    Eating healthy is an essential part of every human beings healthy fit lifestyle.
    And like keeping active and healthy at the gym and in daily life it's a daily choice.
    Going plant-based with your food choices is one of the better food choices you can do. As long as you keep on top of your protein, your fat ( Omega 3 mainly ), iron, B12, Iodine and creatine going plant-based is very easy to do and super beneficial for health & fitness ( and the planet ).

  • The first day of 2018. A tiny micro-short story and the best fitness & health advice you will ever get in life. Let us kickstart 2018 and lay nothing but healthy fit days on the road ahead.

    Quality time needed: 6 minutes

    The arrival of 2018
    And the best health & fitness advice you will ever get.
    Life in the Anthropocene, its just science baby, smiles, sweat and science :).

    Enjoy a healthy fit, and happy 2018 people, but before I start our shiny new year by giving you the single best health & fitness advice you´ll ever get in life, a tiny little micro-short story to welcome you to the rest of your life.
    "the dragon that climbed the world of ice"
    'I watched it climb
    the world of ice that towered us both
    its mighty tail stung the icy cavern beneath us, like a spear it was thrust into the chest of the icy mountain, sending splatter of man-sized ice blocks and snow that bled into the bottomless pit, while it drove its left and right limbs into the frosty mountain above us

    and slowly
    over the endless void of time

    the dragon climbed its way upward
    through a world of ice that tried to hold us captive

    we climbed
    endless step by endless step towards the moon and the stars to hunt them one by one'.

  • Life in the Anthropocene & saving the endangered Rhino. Kenyan ultra marathon providing the adventure of a lifetime and a world improving good cause.

    Quality time needed: 5 minutes

    Health & Fitness
    And the ultra marathon to save the Rhino.
    Life in the Anthropocene is all about our global and individual responsibility.

    And in some ways, I can not think about a much better and more current way to emphasize our individual and globally shared responsibility than the Kenyan Ultra Marathon taking place in 2018.
    It's like all the other sports competitions ever done about the individual responsibility to shape and form your ongoing life and fitness journey so that you can endure and conquer that particular challenge.
    But it is equally much a team effort, to better our planet and to save the Rhino.
    As such it serves as a proxy for our own health, and our modern day pollution, the local and global poverty, the gender and class-based inequality, the competition itself, and the endangered wildlife and all the species rapidly going extinct across the entire world.
    We are all responsible. Individually and globally.
    And in that spirit, this ultramarathon is not just about bringing together runners from all around the world, it is also a marathon to save the endangered Rhino from going extinct, and to better the entire world.

  • Naughty xmas poetry "There are secrets hiding, in the xmas tree" and a merry winter solstice to you guys.

    Quality time needed: 4 minutes

    Winter solstice poetry
    a quality xmas
    and happy new year.

    Enjoy the rest of December people and make sure to allow yourselves and others the only gift truly worth something this xmas. And that is to breathe and exhale, relax and enjoy each and every moment.
    Do not suffocate each other or stress yourself out as you try in vain to achieve the perfect holiday, there is no such thing when it comes to the way we celebrate new years eve, winter solstice, xmas or whatever you call it.
    Chasing perfection and meaningless details are what kills that perfect day even before it starts. So just enjoy your day, yourself and each other the way you are.
    Have a good one and now, here is my perfect xmas in the shape of a naughty winter solstice poem ( and moment ) I am calling "There are secrets hiding, in the xmas tree", enjoy the read and the days ahead :).

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 18, will obesity increase my risk of developing Alzheimer?.

    Quality time needed: 3 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 18 in our School of Fitness.
    Obesity is no friend of any individuals longterm health. We all know that.
    But is cheering each other into obesity and being overweight also scientifically speaking, causing an increase in the risk of developing Alzheimer?.

  • Anthropocene: We have real global progress but also life diminishing quality for hundreds of million of people. Official UNICEF study.

    Quality time needed: 4 minutes

    Global progress.
    And diminishing lives.
    Life in the Anthropocene.

    In a world of global progress in a lot of important aspects, we can never close our eyes to the simple fact that hundreds of millions of people around this beautiful world are witnessing how their lives are becoming increasingly worse.
    “In a time of rapid technological change leading to huge gains in living standards, it is perverse that hundreds of millions are seeing living standards actually decline, creating a sense of injustice among them and failure among those entrusted with their care,” “No wonder they feel their voices are unheard and their futures uncertain.”
    - Laurence Chandy, UNICEF Director of Data, Research, and Policy.

  • Black Friday 20% off: fine art for the living room walls by yours truly.

    Quality time needed: 3 minutes

    The art of living.
    Fine art for the living room walls by yours truly.
    Black Friday discount.

    You pick the size, the framing and whether you prefer the white margin or zero margins on your print and there you go, parcel on the way.
    Printing & shipping is handled by the Swedish fine art gallery Printler and they ship to all of Europe.
    And for Black Friday you´ll even get a 20% discount, valid until Monday 27 Nov.

  • 'At the bridge to Asgard, sprouts and roots grow the ever tree'. Here we live in the age of the Anthropocene.

    Quality time needed: 6 minutes

    sprouts and roots
    A healthy you, is a healthy world.
    Life in the Anthropocene.

    'At the bridge to Asgard, sprouts and roots grow the ever tree' through the gates of life and death, and the turning of the Midgard snake.
    We walk beneath a starry sky, weaved by light and dark and obscured shades our eyes can not see.

    We melt and turn the tides of time, as we spill the soil between our fingers.
    It drips back down to where it came from, all while the ants and worms grow unseen layers of brand new soil.

  • Fitness & Health: 'Health at a Glance' is a European health report covering obesity around Europe in 2017.

    Quality time needed: 7 minutes

    Health at a Glance
    A European health report 2017
    Fitness & Health.

    Health at a Glance is a European health report for 2017. And in it the United Kingdom is revealed to be Western Europes most obese nation.
    So, perhaps, fish and chips and beer just isnt the best of national food obsessions.
    Another important highlight that bounces right back at you is how obesity in the UK has increased by 92% since the 1990s ( it´s been increasing in every nation btw, but good ol England is leading the pack ).

    And since we also know by now that obesity & overweight is not just about a individual increase in body fat %, which would have been perfectly fine and all down to personal preferences in body composition and aesthetics, but instead is directly tied to a huge increase in several health issues, such as diabetes & cancer and severely decreased quality of life and longevity.

  • Anthropocene & the annual 'good country index' is back for its worldwide summary with the year 2017. And Scandinavia once again dominates.

    Quality time needed: 3 minutes

    the good country index 2017
    Life beyond 2028.

    Sweden once again dominates the good country index, sort of making it an annual business as usual reveal in other words.
    Sweden is followed closely by another Scandinavian country, namely Denmark, which, is no real surprise, the Nordic nations can be found at the top of the world, year after year, after year in a long range of beneficial, quality of life metrics and studies.

  • 9 million annual deaths due to worldwide pollution in air, soil, water. Life in the Anthropocene.

    Quality time needed: 4 minutes

    9 million
    annual deaths due to worldwide pollution
    The art of living.

    Every year the number of people that die prematurely due to worldwide pollution keep on increasing. And right now that pollution in water, soil, air, chemical or work-related pollution is already taking the life of 9 million people around the world.

    Let us think about that for one more second, every single year 9 million people end up dying prematurely due to the modern day pollution we all contribute to.

  • Health & Fitness science: Maintain healthy mitochondria through exercise-induced mitophagy.

    Quality time needed: 6 minutes

    Health in muscles and heart.
    Life is your own art.

    New research once again showcases how exercise improves muscle health and, exercise capacity and how that positive mechanism with perpetual fitness regimes in the end greatly improves general health and longevity for each individual.
    Allowing continued fitness activity to become one of the finest predictors we have of general mortality and biological health and wellbeing in any given population and individual.
    This particular study was published in the journal Nature Communications and it digs deep down inside our bodies as it takes a long look at how exercise helps the body and mind keep healthy and strong by transforming and maintaining our body on a cellular level.

  • Anthropocene & the human health. Plastic litter in our salt, tap water, honey, fish & food. Land and soil and blood system.

    Quality time needed: 6 minutes

    Plastic Litter
    Tap water, Sea salt & Food.
    Life in the Anthropocene.

    In Europe, 72% of all tap water contains 1.9 fibers of plastic litter per 500ml of water.
    That number increases to 94% of all tap water in the USA which contains 4.8 plastic litter fibers per 500ml of water. And worldwide 83% of all tap water contains plastic litter.
    But the issue of plastic contamination in our water is not just about tap water, nor is it, as we have previously talked about, only a concern with sea food. This is a growing man-made health issue which has been going on for a very long time and by now it is part of every aspect of society and our natural world.
    For instance, scientists found plastics in products in studies on Chinese Sea salt in 2015.

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