I’m all in.
Derek tosses the rest of his chips in while the opposing players analyze every muscle move on his face. Derek, a 20-year-old college dropout, squints his eyes and doesn’t even crack a smile as he holds pocket aces in his hand. Playing poker is just another activity to eat up the day as his life wastes away in front of him. He eyes the clock. “SHIT” he exclaims while turning to his friends. Throwing down the cards, he scoops up his winnings and runs out the door.
Thinking about the promise he made to his mom, Derek runs to his car and speeds to his house. Last week over dinner, Derek promised his mom that he would see a private tutor a couple times a week in order to take the place of the schooling he was missing. Derek only agreed in order for his mom to stop hounding him.
Derek walks into his house, passing the unknown Prius parked in his garage. He opens the door, and is immediately greeted by a tall man with a scraggly beard and an infectious smile. He doesn’t say a word, yet points to a sheet of paper on the table. Derek scrambles over the table and reads the paper. On it were three solitary Lines.
My name is Greg.
I’m your new tutor.
“WTF??!!” Greg thinks to himself. “A haiku,” Greg says as he answers the unspoken question.
Without explanation, Greg tells Derek to write a haiku. Derek scribbles on a paper:
Greg just smiles that same smile and shakes his head. “Young padawan you have so much to learn” he exclaims with a twinkle in his eye. As Greg walks to his car, he takes a mental note:
I will train
“After your less than stellar display last week, I have decided that we will be focusing on poetry, particularly Haiku. Today’s lesson is about structure, and breaking the stereo type of Haiku.” Greg states in his same mysterious tone. “I want you to write me a haiku the way they taught you in school.”
Derek sits down and writes:
When I went to school,
We were taught Haiku like this,
5-7-5 is right.
Greg writes another Haiku write under Derek’s.
“They were wrong.”
Greg then states, “The way your teachers taught you in school was not entirely accurate. Haiku have no set structure, and both of what we have written are Haiku. For example, Haiku can be one word, to multiple lines with different syllables. Try again.”
Frustrated, Derek picks up the pen and starts over.
“EXACTLY!” Greg exclaims with a grin, “see that wasn’t so hard. Take the rest of the day to think about that, and I want you to come back to our next lesson with a new Haiku about something you did in your daily routine.”
The kitchen door explodes as Derek runs through one minute late to his lesson. Greg just stares at him until Derek starts talking.
“Sorry Greg, I ran into some friends of mine from high school and”
“Read me your homework assignment” Greg says as he cuts him off.
Derek opens his backpack and brings out one sheet of paper.
I’m riding high,
in my jet.
“See Greg I tried to use something that had a double meaning. Ace means both a pilot and a card, I’m riding high because I’m so happy, but also cause I’m high in my jet” Derek says with a smile.
“That’s awesome” says Greg. “Because of our great work I am going to let you go early today. Make sure to write a few Haiku about the rest of your day and we will review them tomorrow.”
“Sweet, I guess I can play poker now” Derek exclaims as bolts out the kitchen door.
As he crosses the street he gets run over by a semi-truck.
One Week Later
Greg walks into the church donned with black, lost in thought. He sits quietly and listens as friends and family share stories about Derek and his life. Greg remains silent until they arrive at the gravesite. Greg listens to the service, and just stands in the corner until he is the last one in the cemetery. He reaches out and puts a single sheet of paper on the coffin containing Derek’s lifeless body. On that piece of paper was a solitary Haiku.
Is the beginning.”