Tag Archives: hope

Your Ideal Heaven – Your Choice…

I’ve been musing on the idea of heaven
and wondering what I’d like in the hereafter.
What would be your ideal version of heaven?

Your Ideal Heaven - Your Choice - The Last Krystallos

In J Edward Neill’s book 101 Questions for Humanity he asks: Set aside your existing belief system. Describe the afterlife as the way you want it to be.
And this is what I’m asking. If you had no current beliefs, and an afterlife was a valid possibility, how would you choose to live your forever?

In Beneath the Rainbow Freya is still a child when she passes over and finds herself in heaven. Very quickly she’s told that her heaven can be whatever she wants it to be. She’s in a place of limbo, somewhere to come to terms with the fact of death and take a figurative breath.

In this excerpt Freya finds out what she can do:

“These flowers, this garden, they’re all yours.”

“Mine?”

“Can’t you see the flowers aren’t normal? They’re all flowering together even though they shouldn’t be.”

She hadn’t noticed, but now she did. She remembered Mum’s grief when the bluebells finished and recalled how Mum always said it was sad when one season finished, but the next always brought another swathe of beauty with its own flowers. Mum loved every season, even the crunchy carpet of leaves in the autumn and winter’s snowdrops had her enthusing all over again.

Now Freya gazed across the clusters of flowers and understood, not only were the plants out of season, but each held a meaning for her.

Primroses, tiny lemon-yellow ones pushed up through the grass as she recalled how both she and her mum preferred plants that were natural and old-fashioned. As she watched primroses surface, their tough, wrinkled leaves unfurling and thin stalks revealing buds that quickly opened, her smile deepened. She raised her hands and grinned. “Watch this!” she commanded.

She swung her hands upwards like a conductor before his orchestra and loosed her mind. Bright orange geums burst forth, intermingled with bronze irises, more irises appeared, rising up through sword-like clumps of silver leaves, their buds unfurling to reveal huge silken flowers in an array of colours. Amongst these were black tulips, pink tulips and white tulips. Daisies the colour of butter cream, paeonies seemingly made of bowls of crinkled petals, gossamer-haired pulsatillas, pink, shaggy dianthus, the palest yellow daffodils, more roses and plum-coloured poppies.

Columbine and clematis climbed up into the trees and sweet peas twisted around trunks.

Foxgloves, verbena and sky-blue delphiniums grew tall, whilst snowdrops, cyclamen and delicate violas carpeted the woodland floor.

Jake kept his trademark grin as he sidestepped a patch of fuchsias, and avoided decapitation from a whippy willow branch, could you still get decapitated if you were already dead?

And Freya hadn’t finished adding sweet-smelling philadelphus, a wine-coloured magnolia and a Christmas tree.

“Any more?” asked Jake.

She folded her arms across her chest surveying her work. “Nope, I think that’s it…for now.” She nodded with a broad, satisfied smile that matched Jake’s and appraised her heaven. She nodded again. “It’s good.”

Freya’s heaven is made up of memories of flowers that she connects with her mother and happiness. She creates meadows and gardens of flowers, and oh, how I can relate!

When the bluebells finished... Beneath the Rainbow - Lisa Shambrook

Excerpt from Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

When I’ve given my book presentation to groups of readers, I’ve often asked this question; What would your heaven be?

The answers have been many and varied:

Somewhere with my horses and cats; eternal sleep; a tropical beach with lemonade fountain, pears and chips; anywhere my pets are; music studio; somewhere with all my friends and family; a cottage from the 1600’s with a kitchen with an art studio and my family, a pool and a theatre; a bookstore with a farmer’s market and a log cabin; a field of sunflowers and poppies and a never-ending day with my family and pets and fireworks; a garden with my family and friends and dogs and lots of water; two scantily clad men in a mineral water hot tub with coffee; my family, friends and all pets past and present, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, sea, hills, mountains and valleys.”

Another heaven in Beneath the Rainbow is Alice’s and she conjures castles and clouds… so, what would you choose?

Castle on a Cloud...Excerpt from Beneath the Rainbow by Lisa Shambrook

Excerpt from Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

I like to think that I’ll have a say in my heaven. Life is tough and my own upbringing has prepared me for an afterlife, but there are so many versions amongst many who believe. Some believe it will be full of duty and continuation of spiritual learning and work, others believe it will be a time to relax and enjoy reward. Some believe in an old fashioned heaven of angels and clouds, some in a life similar to earth with progression and growth. Many believe other ideas such as reincarnation, or becoming one with the earth’s life stream, or that this life is it, but just imagine you could choose…

Llanberris Pass Snowdonia - lisa shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

If life after death requires yet more conforming and duty, then right now I can do without it! I’m looking to escape into the hereafter with romance and nature and endless mountains and waterfalls… I plan Scottish mountains and lochs, Welsh valleys and autumn weather. Time and access with those I love and time to be creative, whether that’s spiritual, emotional, or even some kind of physical.

Oh, and I want dragons… There have to be dragons…

I don’t want what happens after death to be linear, I’m happy with time differences, travel, movement, and much more. I want to discover my full potential, something I doubt will happen in life.

Autumn Dragons in a sparkling sky by Lisa Shambrook

Autumn Dragons © Lisa Shambrook

So, if you had a choice and weren’t limited to your belief system,
what would you choose?

How would you choose to live your forever?

0000. Divider

Beneath the Rainbow Lisa Shambrook BHC Press cover revealFreya won’t let anything stand in the way of her dreams – not even her death.
Now her family will need to uncover the clues to her secrets before it’s too late.

Beneath the Rainbow is published by BHC Press and is a novel that will completely enchant you.

“I highly recommend reading this touching and moving story of acceptance and unending love.” —LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Beneath the Rainbow is now available in eBook and paperback (choose your format) at:
Amazon UKAmazon US, and your local Amazon. Barnes and NobleWaterstonesGoogle PlayKoboiTunes, and other online outlets.

Beneath the Rainbow – A tale of Grief and Hope

Beneath the Rainbow is a story that will weave through your emotions
and draw you in with its colour and magic.

Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

Freya won’t let anything stand in the way of her dreams – not even her death.
Now her family will need to uncover the clues to her secrets before it’s too late.

Beneath the Rainbow is released through BHC Press on 14th August and is a novel that will completely enchant you.

“I highly recommend reading this touching and moving story of acceptance and unending love.” —LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

“…wonderful interplay between afterlife themes and how memory and loss affect the living. It is about moving on and moving forward for the living and the dead, and let’s be clear about this, there is soooo much tragedy in this one, but what emerges from it is something beautiful. I would say that if you are a fan of Mitch Albom then this is absolutely something you will love.”  —Mr Dead on Amazon

Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

“Once in a while a book totally stirs you and pulls you right in, this is it! “Beneath the Rainbow” captivates, enthrals and invites you on a magical journey of time as it moves beyond this life into the next.
It is true genius how the author interweaves messages of hope and inspiration into the lives of the characters. Thomas teaches us how to fulfil our dreams and Freya teaches us how to hold on and when to let go. I recommend this book to anyone who is dealing with any kind of loss or anyone who just wants to enjoy a captivating read.”
Mrs A. on Amazon

Beneath the Rainbow is now available in eBook and paperback (choose your format) at:
Amazon UK, Amazon US, and your local Amazon. Barnes and Noble, Waterstones, Google Play, Kobo, iTunes, and other online outlets.

Library Thing Early Reviewers

Also, once you’re entranced by Beneath the Rainbow you’ll be excited to read Beneath the Old Oak which releases on 16th October followed by Beneath the Distant Star on 11th December – and my publisher has offered a number of ARC copies of Beneath the Old Oak through LibraryThing. In exchange for an honest review you can read a prepublication copy of Beneath the Old Oak. Pop over and request your copy now.

AD_Beneath_Rainbow_Shambrook_RELEASE

Blues Buster: Eminence Front

© Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

The crowd’s roar and applause made her cringe, the noise, so loud, so big, and so cloying. Sarah gazed through the colours, through the bobbing heads, and saw only frontrunners sprinting across the finish line.

Silver foil flashed, the sun catching it and blinding Sarah momentarily. She blinked and eased back. Trumpets bugled and hooters hooted, cheers and cries of congratulations rose over the onlookers, and Sarah glanced up at the big screen on the building opposite. She squeezed herself into a small spot on the wall and pulled her legs in close.

The winners, the frontrunners, smiled on the screen. Teeth and twinkling eyes pixelated and jumped as the competitors caught their breath and accepted adulation. Sponsors raced forward to position themselves, banners rising with winners, and products placed in advantageous sites. Cameramen arced down to legs attached to pistons and blades, shiny carbon-fibre appendages in racing black decorated with beads of sweat.

The winners had the best equipment, the biggest sponsors, the most money, and Sarah sighed.

Even pixelated the racing blades, the prosthetics, and the artificial limbs shone as state of the art. Money bought winners, and winners bought sponsors, and from the crowd’s clamour about her, that bought adoration and fame. She bit her lip and climbed into a standing position to stare down the road, but only shiny blades continued to catch the light and glare back at her.

She steeled herself, pushed the encroaching crowd away, and settled back down on the wall.

For a couple of hours she listened as the crowds cheered the marathon runners, and watched as they dwindled as the prosthetic tech became less impressive, and the sponsors less memorable.

Finally, light faded, the tech reverted, and the hum of the crowd declined.

Sarah scrambled to her feet, and clung to the lamppost beside her. She stared down the road, but the low light made it difficult to see. Floodlights suddenly devoured the dusk and Sarah blinked again, shielding her eyes from the dazzling brilliance. Black spots danced before her vision, as the big screen suddenly snapped back on and focussed on the empty road.

Sarah’s stomach lurched, and her heart rose with hope and anticipation. She pushed through the muddle of people still left, those who’d lost interest hours ago, but hung around with the hope of a last minute story. And here it was.

Sarah’s eyes glazed as a dot on the horizon grew steadily bigger. She glanced up at the screen as it pixelated and focussed. Far down the road her son approached, a lone walker, a figure shuffling forward with determination and grit. Sarah didn’t even try to stop the tears that rolled down her face. Every fibre of her heart reached out to the boy, every ounce of strength, of resolve and stamina poured down the road to her boy.

The TV screen adjusted and the image sharpened, and the remaining crowd visibly held their breath.

Sarah’s heart swelled to proportions she’d never before encountered and she thought she’d burst. Tears glistened in every eye as her son limped, and dragged his foot, his leg-brace no longer holding him steady. The buckles broken, the metal, bent, but the lad still walked with his head led high, and his brow shimmering with diamonds of perspiration.

Gasps trickled through the audience as barriers broke, and suddenly athletes, runners and racers who’d finished the marathon hours before, surrounded the boy. Carbon fibre blades, and modern artificial appendages, accompanied the teenager with the broken brace and twisted leg, and silence suddenly blossomed into cheers.

Applause echoed throughout the darkening streets, and Sarah wept as her son’s smile filled the big screen, as his shuffle moved him forward and the pain on his face diminished with pride.

He crossed the line, with as many onlookers as the frontrunners, and Sarah caught him in her arms. They both knew you didn’t need money, or sponsors, or anything more than love and belief, to win.

(663 Words)
@LastKrystallos

My story for Jeff at The Tsuruoka Files Blues Buster. The song prompt is The Who’s Eminence Front. Check out the other stories!

Five Sentence Fiction: Clutch

1. FSF Clutch, Rain

Image by Lisa Shambrook (Please do not use without permission)

The thread hung, as thin as gossamer, as delicate and fragile as a spider’s silken strand.
Dark circles stained the pale skin beneath her eyes, and she ran shaky fingers through forgotten tangles. Long nails snagged within her web of hair, and the softest sigh slipped from desiccated lips as she watched the door through jaded eyes.
Outside, grey clouds filled a grey day and rain spattered the streets, and she knew no one would come.
Still, her fingers clutched the thread, slight and frail, her last thread of hope.

000. NewFSFBadge Bekahcat June 2012

I haven’t written any flash fiction since Christmas, and have missed Lillie Mcferrin’s Five Sentence Fiction greatly, so this is my piece for the prompt Clutch. Hop over to Five Sentence Fiction to read the other great stories.

Composers for Relief: Fighting Back

I am very privileged to take part in Samantha Redstreake Geary’s Composers for Relief: Supporting the Philippines musician/writer collaboration. 28 tracks from gifted composers and stories written by talented authors to accompany each track to produce an album and accompanying eBook. All proceeds go to Gawad Kalinga to support the victims of the Philippines’ worst Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

I chose to write to a gorgeous track called ‘Fighting Back’ by Dreammaker. Our theme is ‘hope’ and that’s exactly what this track gives me!

Album cover, designed by the talented, Ryo Ishido
Fighting Back 
Aiden stood poised above Eloise, nerves tingling and iron bar in hand. He scanned every dark corner of the dingy scrapyard for danger as she caressed the delicate shell beneath her fingers, softly murmuring spells of protection that he dared not disturb. She smoothed her hands across the silver and white streaked egg, and he desperately fought the urge to touch her alabaster skin.
Far off tyres squealed, engines screamed, and Aiden flinched. He instinctively reached out and grabbed her hand, recoiling as hot white flickers burned his fingers. The iron bar clanked to the ground.
As pain surged through his scalded fingers he met her eyes with alarm. “We have to go!” he hissed, and she hurriedly placed the egg in her small leather satchel.
“Sorry,” she whispered, glancing ruefully at his blistered fingers as she slipped her own hands back inside protective leather gloves, “I’m still linked to the egg!”
He shrugged and his pale eyes flashed as they leaped astride his motorcycle. “I was warned not to touch bare skin, when I was assigned you.”
White sun blazed, glinting and blinding against the warped scrap metal piled high in the yard, and Aiden revved the silver Bandit. He tensed as Eloise wrapped her arms around his waist, and her bare cheek, against his leather jacket, sent heat radiating and pulsing through his shoulder.
Rubber scorched the tarmac like her skin had burned his…
They burst through the gate pursued by huge bellowing bikes, belching black smog. Fear clutched Aiden’s heart as he twisted the throttle speeding through back alleys, flanked by uniform grey tenement buildings and gunmetal lampposts. Eloise tightened her grip. “Hurry!” she cried. He glanced in the mirror, Eloise’s pale hair streamed wildly behind and the black Triumphs droned, bearing down.
Aiden felt her heart beat, fast and uncontrolled, through his heavy leathers as they roared out onto the highway. He swiftly wrenched the bike off road and down through trees on a loose gravel track. Ashen trunks towered and their colourless, paper-thin leaves fluttered beneath a grey, cloud daubed sky. Eloise’s dove-grey skirts wrapped tight around her legs as her knees gripped, and her black coat flapped at her hips. Aiden’s heart hammered against his ribs as they bolted through the monochrome terrain.
The bike disturbed a horde of shrieking birds and Eloise screamed. Aiden fought to retain control of the Bandit as birds burst into flight, flapping wildly before him. He swerved into a thicket of narrow chalky trunks and dappled grey foliage, struggling to remain upright. The bike wobbled and Eloise grasped her faded leather satchel to her chest as he skidded, and the bike careered across the blackened grass. Eloise’s scream echoed throughout Aiden’s head as the bike spun out and they were hurled from the smouldering, throbbing machine.
Aiden rolled and sprang to his feet as rumbling motorbikes rose over the brow of the hill charging towards them. Eloise was already on her feet, her bag still clasped to her chest. “Stay with me!” Aiden yelled running alongside her.
She caught his eye and stumbled, crying out as a latch on her satchel tore open. The precious egg shot out of her bag. It flew and bounced on gravel and grit, and Eloise flinched as it hit the ground.  “No!” she cried.
A dull thud, as dull as the pallid landscape, rang out as it bounced and fractured.
Eloise moaned. “Not yet, too soon…”
The menacing, pursuing bikes created an alarming crescendo close by as the marbled white and silver egg rolled and came to a halt. The egg began to ooze and Eloise fell to her knees and wept.
A dazzling brilliant flash burst from the egg, and as their hands fell from their faces they stared in astonishment as vibrant swirls coiled like steam from the splintered egg.
The shell shattered and a bird of fire rose from its fragments.
“Red…” Awe struck Eloise.
Aiden stared in confusion. “Red?”
 She nodded vigorously as the bird rose within a mixture of vibrant shades never before seen.
“Fire!” cried Eloise, ignoring Aiden’s bewilderment. “Yellow, red and orange!”
The bird’s glorious plumage lit up the forest, and suddenly the grey earth turned to shades Aiden did not recognise and the silver trunks became dark. Aiden’s mouth dropped as foliage suddenly matched Eloise’s glowing eyes, and he grinned as his leathers turned the new shade of dark fire.
“What is this?” he asked in wonder as the bleached landscape warmed as the bird hovered before them.
Aiden flinched as Eloise reached for his hand. “Colour!” she said, “Green and blue, and red and gold…this is colour and this is what I’ve been fighting for!”
Vivid colour seeped out of the egg, staining the ground, and as the bird flapped its resplendent wings, colour exploded into the grey and colourless world.
Eloise blew a kiss at the fiery bird then flung her arms wide. “Go! Go now phoenix…go and colour the world!”
The bird trilled and fluttered, spiralling up and into the now very blue sky. The grey men on bikes, their mission doomed, hurriedly dispersed, colour chasing their exhaust plumes as the phoenix rose.
Eloise turned to Aiden. “The egg was the last of its kind, and I was charged to protect it, and you to protect me.” Aiden gazed as she again reached for his hand. He winced as she took it and lifted it to her cherry-red lips. “I’m free. I’ll never burn you again…” She kissed his finger tips and fire blazed in his cheeks. She smiled. Eloise leaned in close as the grass in the far meadows turned the same emerald as her eyes, Aiden’s became the colour of the sky, and she finally let her lips touch his. His face flushed red and she whispered. “Now let me colour your world…”
(974 Words)

Composers for Relief: Supporting the Philippines is available on iTunes and Amazon.