Empty the clear path to Heaven, crowded the dark road to Hell.

29 Sep

Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.

100 words for Madison Woods’ Friday Fictioneers inspired by Sandra Crook’s fine photo. Aloha, D.


We pass between the lacquered columns of the spirit gate and I ask Grandfather what the verdigris symbols mean.

“The pen of the tongue should be dipped in the ink of the heart.”

The answer changes with the seasons, even after I learn to read. When I enter college he tells me:

“A person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.”

And on my wedding day:

There is no economy in going to bed early to save candles when the result is twins.


I light joss sticks on Grandfather’s grave and wipe away my tears as I hear him say:

All of life is a waking dream, all of death is a going home.

59 Responses to “Empty the clear path to Heaven, crowded the dark road to Hell.”

  1. Paul September 29, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    Wow! The sayings and the way you incorporated them into your story are beautiful.

    • dmmacilroy September 29, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

      Dear Paul,

      Thank you for visiting and commenting. I do wish I could read Chinese, though.



  2. Sandra September 29, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    Great piece Doug. Did you make those sayings up yourself? And a terrific last line too, I sincerely hope that’s true.

    • dmmacilroy September 29, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

      Hi Sandra,

      Thank you for the lovely picture. Did you take it? Where was it?

      The sayings were the best culled from my voluminous research files and I wish I had made them up instead of just supplying the glue between the lines.



      • Sandra September 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

        Yes I took it. The Chinese Garden of Friendship is situated in Darling Harbour, Sydney. It’s very beautiful, but in an antiseptic, contrived sort of way.

  3. Madison Woods September 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Loved this Doug. It was the most realistic and thought-provoking one I’ve read yet. I really liked the phrases and how they changed every time he asked.

    • dmmacilroy September 29, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

      Dear Madison,

      You just made my morning. If you knew how long I worked on this you’d know why it was so damned late. Thank you, thank you, thank you.



  4. lenwilliamscarver September 29, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    I believed this to be a conversation between you and your grandfather, the last line is my favorite but this one gave me a chuckle “There is no economy in going to bed early to save candles when the result is twins.” Thank you for the effort you put into this one. 🙂

    • dmmacilroy September 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

      Dear Len,

      I was tickled by that saying, too, which is why it found its way into the story. Glad you liked it and thank you for reading.



  5. flyoverhere September 29, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    Even though I don’t have a post this week for the prompt, I had to come and read yours. As usual I am not disappointed. I loved the feeling and the wisdom imparted…

    • dmmacilroy October 4, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

      And for your visit I am grateful.



  6. Joyce September 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

    I loved this story, and the quotes. Are the quotes yours, or ones you found for the story. They are really good, influencing so much thought and wisdom weaved through the story.

    • dmmacilroy October 4, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

      Dear Joyce,

      The quotes are the best of many I ran across in the course of my research for this story. I’m glad you liked them.



  7. bridgesareforburning September 29, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

    Hi Doug,
    Lots of wisdom here, nicely packaged. Ron

    • dmmacilroy October 4, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

      Dear Ron,

      Thanks for the comment. i appreciate it. See your new story soon.



  8. newpillowbook September 29, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    Very nicely told! I love Grandfather’s shifting wisdom and the way it leads us through the life cycle.

    • dmmacilroy October 4, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

      Thanks for saying so. I apprecaite it.



  9. billgncs September 29, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    Hi Doug — this was a pleasure to read. I could imagine her hearing the words and how over time they became more and more meaningful as her life deepened. I suppose it could be a boy, but I imagine it being told by a female point of view.

    • dmmacilroy October 4, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

      Dear Bill,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate the kind words.



    • dmmacilroy October 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

      By the way, Bill,

      I wrote this in my head from a woman’s point of view. You alone caught that. (Though I purposely left it open ended in that regard because it has little bearingon the story.) Aloha, D.

      • billgncs October 4, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

        It just felt softer than a man would. It is always neat when words have a subtle influence over the pictures created in your mind.

  10. sustainabilitea September 29, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    Hope you enjoyed the grandchildren time, Doug (hope I remembered that correctly). I love the way you worked in the sayings and how realistic and touching your story was.

    • dmmacilroy October 4, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

      Thank you, my dear.

      Looking forward to seeing your story in a few hours.



  11. Lora Mitchell September 29, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

    Aloha Doug: I can’t believe you researched those beautiful, unique sayings. I think they came from your own brilliant mind and you’re only being modest. So far, this is my favorite FF offering. ps: Watching the Ryder Cup?

    • dmmacilroy October 4, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

      Dear Lora,

      you’re sweet to an old guy. I’ve only thought up one saying in my life and I immediately attributed it to the main character of one of my novelws. The ones for the story were the best in show from a lot of research.

      i had a bad feeling about the Ryder Cup. I’m happy as a clam for Jose Maria and Seve, theough. could not have happened at a better time and kind of makes up for all the hoopla following Justin Leonard’s putt on the 17th in ’99’.

      has anyone noticed that it was another Justin that put the nail in the American’s coffin on 17 this year?



  12. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields September 29, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

    What’s not to like? I know how you struggled with this one, Doug but, as always, it was worth it for the rest of us. I loved the sayings so masterfully woven into a story. Just remember this: “Moonlight was created only for the sake of study.”

    • dmmacilroy October 4, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

      Dear Rochelle,

      thanks for the encouragement. Yes, I did struggle with this one. See you soon.



  13. valeriedavies September 29, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

    This was a little masterpiece, beautifullly chosen words, I loved ‘the pen of the tongue should be dipped in the ink of the heart’, and I loved “going home”, and giggled at the twins…witty and wise, thank you Doug

    • dmmacilroy October 4, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

      Dear Valerie,

      thanks so much for stopping by. The sayings ended up taking the lead in putting this story together. i do like the way it turned out. Looking forward to seeing you this week.



  14. Janet September 30, 2012 at 12:18 am #

    Doug, this was great. The way you wove together the story and the sayings was beautiful.

    • dmmacilroy October 4, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

      Dear Janet,

      thanks for dropping by and reading.



  15. John Hardy Bell September 30, 2012 at 12:23 am #

    Hey Doug. As I said in my comments section, I’ve been looking out for your story and I’m glad I finally found it! This story is so quiet, so contained, but it packs a major wallop! All of life truly is a waking dream. As for the last line, well I certainly hope Grandfather’s wisdom proves true! Loved it!

    • dmmacilroy October 4, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

      Dear John,

      I am so glad you’re back in the fold. Your stories are always well written and thought provoking. Thank you for your kind words re mine.



  16. rich September 30, 2012 at 2:28 am #

    where did those sayings come from? you? or did you research them?

    • dmmacilroy September 30, 2012 at 3:47 am #

      Dear Rich,

      If only I were that good. No, Rich, I found them doing research for the dim outline of several different story threads and these were some of the best. They kind of wove their way into Grandfather’s story.

      I’ll find yours tonight, my friend, when all has settled here on Saturday night.



      • rich September 30, 2012 at 3:49 am #

        no rush. not going anywhere.

  17. elmowrites September 30, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

    Wise and evocative as ever, Doug. I love how the meaning changed each time he asked – there is so much wisdom in Grandparents and their relationships with their grandchildren and you captured that beautifully.

    • dmmacilroy October 4, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      Dear Jen,

      Thank you for dropping by. Congrats on the new house and the soon to be new occupant!



  18. oni1138 September 30, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    wonderful, always a good read 🙂

    • dmmacilroy October 4, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

      Thank you for visiting and commenting.



  19. Swirling Turnip September 30, 2012 at 11:39 pm #

    You painted a picture I stared at for some time, soaking it all in, feeling the love that was shared. Nicely done.

    • dmmacilroy October 4, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

      Thank you for your kind words. i’m glad the story resonated with you.



  20. Russell October 1, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    Boy, you really knocked it out of the park this time, partner. This is one of the best 100 word pieces I’ve ever read. It’s one of those stories that the more you think on it and the more it soaks in the better it gets. The research and hard work really paid off.

    • dmmacilroy October 4, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

      Dear Russell,

      I can’t thank you enough for your high praise re my story this week. The picture you sent me sheds some light on the reason you were so affected by it. Lovely photo, and telling in many ways of our time on this earth.



  21. Running from Hell with El October 1, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    I love how you resolved the final sentences!1 Well done Doug!!

    • dmmacilroy October 4, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

      Thank you, El.

      I appreciate you dropping by for a read.



  22. EmmaMc October 3, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    Just beautiful Doug. So incredibly moving and a wonderful depiction of a relationship with a grandparent. Those words will stick with me.

    And ‘Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think’ is one of my favorites.

    • dmmacilroy October 3, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

      Dear Emma,

      I am grateful to have you as a reader. Thanks for the kind comments. I’m glad you noticed, “Enjoy yourself…” It is a telling saying and I could not resist getting it in there somewhere.



  23. EmmaMc October 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

    Reblogged this on Write Away and commented:
    I have never re-blogged before, but this story just really hit a nerve. It was written as part of Friday Fictioneers and just goes to show how a picture can evoke so many thoughts and memories. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

    • dmmacilroy October 3, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

      Dear Emma,

      Thank you for reblogging my story. I am glad I hit that nerve. I’m kind of gobsmacked, as my old Britsih boss used to say, that you would reblog anything of mine. I won’t forget it.



  24. EmmaMc October 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

    And loved this so much I’ve reblogged it!

  25. Perry Block (@PerryBlock) October 3, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    Touching piece, Douglas.

    Of course, it would help if I knew what verdigris means.

    • dmmacilroy October 3, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

      Dear Perry,

      That’s why god invented Google, don’tcha know? Thanks for dropping by and reading.



  26. tollykit October 4, 2012 at 8:15 am #

    Wonderful writing Doug.

  27. readinpleasure October 4, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    What a beautifully sentimental and unique take on the prompt, Doung. Very well done. I love all the quotes. They are original, to me. And thanks for coming over. 🙂

    • dmmacilroy October 4, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

      Dear Celestine,

      My apologies for taking so long to reach you in Ghana. Thank you for commenting on my storythis week. (Is it already time for another?)



  28. Tom Poet October 4, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    Great work as always. You put your heart into every word and it can be felt by your readers.

    • dmmacilroy October 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

      Dear Tom,

      Thanks for that comment/compliment. Means a lot to me. And keeps my tank topped off.



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