Tiny Stories: The Wooden Cup

Popular belief has it that the universe is comprised of atoms. In reality, the universe is actually made up of…

For the want of a meal, I have committed heinous crimes.

No pride or shame attached to the deeds. Eating is a necessity and needs must when the devil drives and hunger calls. The irony? Now I am permitted to dine on any foodstuff my heart desires. I decline, of course. I have no need for reminders of the pleasures of existence. Starvation is the repast I will take to my grave.

I am urged to repent and give myself wholly to my maker. This will not happen by a long chalk. Religion is that ever-elusive thing that cannot find purchase upon the coral reef of my soul. Mine is a spirit unmoved by any deity, higher or lower. The only salvation made available to me when I confront my ultimate fate is to allow oblivion to enfold me within her inky embrace.

“I seek no holy counsel from a curate,” I inform my jailors. “I wish to spend my last hours in solitude.”

This request is ignored.

A female visitor, not a member of the clergy to my knowledge, is ushered into my cell. Her face—beautiful, though not for her features—is unfamiliar to me, but the light in her eyes and the gentle warmth radiating from her tell me all I need to know. She is no threat.

She says nothing as she sits on the far corner of my bedding, cradling a cup hewn from wood in her delicate hands. I do not profess to be a learned man but I know my letters and the shapes carved into the sides of the cup are of no language written today.

Smiling, she offers the cup and makes a motion suggesting that I drink. For the life of me—a peculiar turn of phrase considering my position—I cannot explain why I accept the cup or why at her urging I touch its brim to my lips but in my grasp, this simple wooden vessel is heavy with importance, rich with history, and my will, while I am in contact with it, is no longer my own.

The cup is filled with a liquid that after one sip I somehow know to be the tears belonging to the kin of my victims, shed from pain and loss, anger and grief. There are even tears of empathy, which I believe come from this woman, herself. And when those collected salted drops greet my lips the flavor is replete, not with revenge, but with the surprising splendor of the bittersweet serenity of a loving quiet purpose and a hint of forgiveness.

I drink and drink until there is no more and am momentarily reluctant to release the cup.

Purpose fulfilled, the silent woman, still proffering that unnaturally kind smile, is escorted from my chamber. Her simple and bizarre act of sharing those tears sparks an ember within me, a dormant faith I had no inkling existed, and now I know sorrow and regret for the things that I have done. I am also granted a glimpse of the path of amendment, redemption, and peace I shall not live to follow.

Unskilled in the workings of asking for and receiving mercy and forgiveness, am I and for this reason, I fear the gates of the reward which exist beyond this all too limited flesh will undoubtedly deny me entrance. But waste not your prayers on my unworthy soul, for by the time you come to read this missive, I shall no longer be.

Oblivion is to be my final destination after all.

25 responses to “Tiny Stories: The Wooden Cup

  1. If only ten percent of the world would actually read this story and take a sip from the metaphorical cup, the world would be a beautiful place. Thank you, Rhyan!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. No matter how much hardship we go through, experiences can change our lives for the better. If the intention is right, and the steps are in the right direction then there is noting to stop us entering paradise. The doors of mercy are always open. Each and everyone of us is a sinner, there is no doubt about this. But we need to learn to pray before we are prayed upon and repent before its too late. Too bad the character in your story didn’t know that. Powerful message!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I loved your story. The funny thing is you’ve mentioned several times that you’re not “religious” (I prefer the term “spiritual”) but spirituality pops up in your writing a lot (these last few months I’ve read just about everything you’ve written). Deny it all you like, sir, but you have an inner spirituality that comes through in your stories. The underlying message isn’t always sunshine and happiness but they almost always contain a sense of calmness and reason, and they’re a delight to read, Rhyan!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Suranne, don’t you start. A few people have engaged me in conversation via DM and email over my “supposed” non-spiritual position and although I am always polite in my responses, I stand firm on my position, and sadly those people elect to no longer interact with me or my blog. Hopefully, you and I are not headed in that direction.

      The peculiar thing about people is that they love to tell you about yourself, as if through casual interaction, they’ve managed to suss out the real you, the you that is hidden from yourself. Call me stubborn, old-fashioned, close-minded or whatever, but I’m not a big fan of strangers insisting they know who I am. Why can’t you be you and I be me and we simply get along without having to define one another? Life would be so much simpler that way.

      Before you misconstrue my meaning, this is not an attack on you or your opinion of me, which you are most certainly entitled to. Instead, consider it a request to refrain from attempting to fit a square peg into a round hole. This peg is quite content not slotting into any hole (that sounded a lot better in my head, believe me).

      Regarding the use of spirituality in my writing, I also write a great deal about magic and fantasy and demons and alien presences on Earth and I do not subscribe to any of those beliefs either. If I limited myself to the things I actually believed in, the topic range of my stories would decrease drastically.

      Having gotten that out of the way, cheers as always for reading my scribblings, sharing your thoughts, and for the compliment!

      Liked by 4 people

      • I didn’t feel like you were attacking me, just stating your position.

        Someone once said, “I shouldn’t respect you for what you believe, I should respect you for simply being human” and I agree with this wholeheartedly. Sometimes you just catch me off guard by giving me all the “spiritual feels.”

        And for the record, I don’t chase off that easily so I think we’ll be interacting for a long time. I see you and I respect you.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I know your story deals with the extreme but unfortunately in life it’s not always that easy to recognize when you were wrong. It’s not as clear as seeing a green apple. Therefore it may take a long while before you realize your mistake and hopefully not too late to learn from it.

    I have today decided that this is one my favorite story blogs. I really admire what you’re doing and it enriches my life positively ❤ I want these posts to continue forever with this amazing content! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Recognizing and owning up to mistakes is a very valuable ability, and it’s a shame that only hindsight is 20/20 and that a majority of the time we are not gifted with the foresight to weigh the outcome of questionable actions, especially when it causes harm to another human being. Peri, you offer praise that I am not deserving of but I thank you for continuing to read, comment and compliment my weekly writings. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Not the type to gush but I thoroughly enjoyed this. We always act on our own current understanding of the world based on our needs and desires. In this case the narrator did what they did in order to eat and I like the irony of being able to feast on whatever he wants before his execution. I also like that there was no last minute reprieve. Thanks for this read this morning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The popular thought is “If there’s a will, there’s a way” which is usually meant to denote positive solutions, but there are times when all the positive options have been exhausted and only one solution remains. The story could have gone either way, and I could have worked in a reprieve, but sometimes in life, things don’t always work out for the best.

      And for the record, gushing is not required, Grey. Reading is sufficient enough. Cheers for the compliment!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Very deep Rhyan. I love the concept of this cup, and the fact that there were tears of empathy inside too. Makes me think about our world. Like another commenter mentioned, I wonder what would happen if people today took a sip.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You sometimes hear reports of a victim of a crime or surviving family member forgiving the criminal for the horrendous things they’ve done, and logically I understand one possible position being that it’s unhealthy to live a life with a heart filled with hate. Not to say that forgiveness is easy, but it is sometimes necessary in order to move on.

      I have to believe that somewhere in that forgiveness is the tiniest shred of empathy or the understanding that sometimes situations unintentionally escalate out of control and result in tragedy. I included empathetic tears in the cup to illustrate the possibility of mercy and redemption, which you’ve probably already worked out so I’m not sure why my writerly brain needed to explain it.

      Cheers for the read, comment, and compliment, Kirsten, they’re all greatly appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Firstly, thank you for the like on my blog! Secondly, I really enjoyed your story. It was as satisfying perhaps as that cup of tears – short, bittersweet, and satiating to the soul. I look forward to reading more of your posts😊

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The world is made up of Tiny Stories. Love how you captured the mood of this individual. When one does something horrendous, what do you have left after society has shunned you, labeled you in the history books, and lock you away in a dark pit, to one day be executed. If there is another dimension on the other side (which I highly expect), will the people over there shun him? What if there are many dimensions? Will the people welcome him? Only when he descends to the lower realms where others like him will welcome him with open arms. Vibe attracts the tribe.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I thought it was quite telling how, upon realizing what the cup held, he downed the draught entirely rather than rejecting it, almost as though he were thirsty for redemption…and yet, at the end, his choice was still oblivion. There’s a sadness that we succumb to when we finally accept our fate, if you will. I’ve felt it and I’m sure others have as well. A surrendering of a part of ourselves forever. Such a contemplative piece of writing that will stick with me for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes the only reward of redemption is the clearing of a debt. The families forgave for the sake of their spiritual. mental and emotional wellbeing, so he took some guilt-laced solace in that but judgment is inescapable. Cheers for the read, comment and compliment, Mike! Always appreciated!

      Liked by 1 person

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