The inspiration behind “Burn” (Of Stars and Space)

With the publication of my collection of stories, Of Stars and Space, this is part 3 in a series of posts about the inspiration behind each of the twelve stories.

Several years ago, an online magazine ran a lengthy story, filled with pictures, of the Burning Man festival. Going to such a festival would not be my thing, but the story and images captured my imagination. I tried several times and failed to take those images and turn them into a story about a trip to Burning Man.

Around the same time, I had a doctor misdiagnose me with a symptom linked to quite a few serious neurological disorders. It is never fun to have such a fright, but I was able to link one of those disorders with the Burning Man story.

What developed from that was not a story about a trip to Burning Man, though such is a side piece to the narrative. Rather, came a story of a young man with a clock ticking faster than most of us experience. It is a story of finding purpose and love, and holding onto faith in the face of death.

It is at the same time a tragedy and a triumph, a reminder to let our lives burn bright, no matter the hand we’re dealt or the years we’re given.

You can read an excerpt of “Burn” below.

Of Stars and Space (and other stories) is available at Amazon in both Kindle and print formats. Kindle is immediate delivery; print is print-on-demand and may take a few days before the order ships.

“Burn” and Of Stars and Space, © 2020, Michael Bergman

Excerpt from “Burn”

The previous summer, after his freshman year, Jackson journeyed to Nevada with college friends. For a week they lived on the salt flats with thousands of others, giving and receiving, dancing and sharing, all waiting for that final night where the statue in the middle crumbled to ashes in the flames. Burning Man, they called it. Listening to his stories, I wanted to go. But I was seventeen and dad said no.

I would have to wait. Then Jackson suggested, “We can do our own.”

With the fire dying, I collapsed onto the blanket and wiped my face. Somehow, I managed to crawl into my sleeping bag. I folded my hands behind my head and stared at the sky. Miles from the nearest city and the air crisp and clear, the Milky Way stretched in its long, bright band.

That’s how I fell asleep. One of my favorite memories.

And if you’re reading this, then I’m dead.

The inspiration behind “First Date” (Of Stars and Space)

With the publication of my collection of stories, Of Stars and Space, this is part 2 in a series of posts about the inspiration behind each of the twelve stories.

Writer’s block is frustrating. You sit at your computer, stare at your screen, wanting to write, longing to write, and yet your brain produces nothing. Maybe you manage a few lines, but then you reread them, hopelessly disgusted, and hit delete.

In a recent bout with writer’s block, I told my wife, “I need some ideas.” She thought for a moment and began to list some out. One thing that she mentioned was “love story.”

If you know us, you know the gist of our story. If you don’t, let’s just say that I was a little awkward (I’m being kind to myself). “First Date” is a love story that captures some of that awkwardness. On the whole, the story is fictional, of course, but as I wrote parts of the story of budding love between a widower and his first wife and then between him and a new love, several aspects were quite familiar.

You can read an excerpt of “First Date” below.

Of Stars and Space (and other stories) is available at Amazon in both Kindle and print formats. Kindle is immediate delivery; print is print-on-demand and may take a few days before the order ships.

“First Date” and Of Stars and Space, © 2020, Michael Bergman

Excerpt from “First Date”

“Dad, we need to talk.”
“Um. Okay.”
“We’ve been worried about you.”
“Yeah, we want you to be happy.”
“We were thinking that you need a lady in your life.”
“Boys…”
“You work so hard to care for us, but we’re older now.”
“Yeah, almost grown.”
“So, we set you up on a date.”
“You did what?” I stared at my three boys who stood between me and the tv.

The inspiration behind “Addict” (Of Stars and Space)

With the publication of my collection of stories, Of Stars and Space, this is part 1 in a series of posts about the inspiration behind each of the twelve stories.

“Addict” is a story that was a few years in the making but only recently came together. I wanted to address the topic of addiction from what I have seen walking along side, in various capacities, those who battle addiction.

For some, realizing the hurt they have brought to their family, those they love most, becomes an anchor for fighting their past. For others, sadly, as much as they love their family, they still struggle to overcome and breakaway.

“Addict” follows a young man, a father, who has both hurt and been hurt. His son becomes his inspiration to fight, but when an old love returns, will it be enough?

The first six stories in the collection are what I call “stories of life, love, and loss.” This is a story of complicated love that seeks to balance hope and the realities of living in a broken world.

You can read an excerpt of “Addict” below.

Of Stars and Space (and other stories) is available at Amazon in both Kindle and print formats. Kindle is immediate delivery; print is print-on-demand and may take a few days before the order ships.

“Addict” and Of Stars and Space, © 2020, Michael Bergman

Excerpt from “Addict”

Daniel showered, standing for longer than usual under the cascade of warmth. He had been attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings for the past six months. That night was the first round-robin meeting where he detailed his past beyond his name and addiction.

“Part of me wishes he hadn’t found me,” he whispered to the group. “I hate myself for thinking that.”

After twenty minutes, Daniel turned off the water, dried himself, and pulled on a clean pair of shorts. Quade had already fallen asleep. The boy lay on his back with a stuffed dog tucked under his left arm. He was still a little boy but on the verge of becoming a man. Daniel watched him for a moment and listened to the soft snores.

“I’m glad you did, though.”