The Dime … Again

I keep adding chapters to The Dime over at WattPad. It’s up to 18 chapters now. Here it is if you’d like to give it a try.

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The Dime

The roll out continues on Wattpad. Five chapters posted today. Fifteen chapters in total up and the crescendo builds!!!!

Go here to read, comment, vote for. The more eyeballs, the more comments, the more votes the better.

The Dime JPEG

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Jumping. Flying. Dying.

I’d gone across the bridge countless times. During runs, on bike rides. Each trip across, I had the same thought. What would it feel like to jump? Hell, I think that every time I cross a bridge.

The thing is … this bridge was different. It’s one thing to cross a bridge in a car or a bus, or on the rare train trip. In a cocoon of steel it’s not as easy to stop and go to the railing. But on foot or on a bike? It’s all too easy when the railing is mere feet, only a couple, from my unprotected self.

This bridge spanned a river that rushed along 40 to 50 feet below. Downstream were some mild rapids. Upstream was a lake, dammed decades ago. The water that rippled beneath my feet, continuing its constant course through the cliffs and canyons from the foothills to the sea, seemed deep and dark. There were secrets down there, ones that no human really knew.

Bodies long forgotten, whispering into the watery shrouds. Treasures lost and never found. Boats abandoned and sunk with their own tales to tell.

It wasn’t the secrets that lurked under the river’s surface that intrigued me though.

No, when I thought of stopping and going over the edge, it was something else I envisioned. A dream, if you will. Where I could flee the gravitational bounds of Mother Earth, leaving my worries behind, escaping the chains of despair I felt, salving the pain that wracked my body.

One day I decided I had to give it a try. I got off my bike and leaned it against the railing. I looked left and right. There were no witnesses present. Lifting my leg over the railing and propping myself up for a few seconds, I looked into the dark corners of my mind and gave myself a chance to decide otherwise. There was no light in there. There was no turning back. I lifted my other leg over and rested my ass on the railing and my feet on the edge of the bridge.

Between my toes I could see the murky, dark green water race by below me. A light breeze at my back felt like it was nudging me forward. And so, I followed the wind’s command and pushed off, leaving the railing behind me as I reached my arms out and sought to soar with that breeze.

At first it lifted me and I began to fly, I really began to fly over the river’s surface, between the walls of the cliffs that stood guard. The sun beat down on me, the blue sky offered to open itself for me. Trees along the river whispered in the wind, “Look, he’s flying. A man, not a bird, in flight.” The leaves quaked as though thrilled with my effort.

In my mind I soared along the course of the river, on towards the dam several miles away, where I would be able to fly high and watch the boaters and jet skiers and sunbathers as small as ants on a shiny, glittery, blue ball. And at some point, I would keep going. To the mountains, snowcapped and cold, across the vast plains on the other side, and eventually to the ocean and the world on the other side.

I was free. Unencumbered. Weightless. Giddy.

I crashed into the river below the bridge. I was dead.

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Trent Was Right

When I started writing this last night, I wanted it offbeat. But I don’t do offbeat easily. So I wrapped up The Dream Story with a cliched ending. Trent pointed out that the pregnancy was too cliched. And I agree. So …

 

Molly always did this thing when she was nervous. She would rub her left eyebrow with her right hand. I guess it’s why she didn’t see the accident as it was happening.

We were walking down Brittany Park Drive. At the corner of Elk Grove-Florin Road, we turned right. On our way to Taco Bell. A chalupa or two for me. Soft tacos for her. Maybe we’d split a Nachos Supreme. I loved their Mountain Dew Baja Blast.

I looked at her rubbing her eyebrow. Her hand covering her left eye almost entirely. Why was she nervous? I had no idea. That’s when two things happened.

First, she stopped walking and said to me, “Joe. There’s something I need to tell you.” I was about to ask her what when the second thing happened.

Two cars came through the intersection almost simultaneously. The one in the far lane, just slightly ahead, tried to change lanes. But there wasn’t any space to do so yet. All there was was the other car. The one clipped the other, pushing it up on to the sidewalk and into a utility pole, mere feet from us.

I saw it coming, but Molly didn’t. Her hand covering her eye, the other focused on me while she swallowed deeply and took a breath. She had to have heard it though. The squeal of brakes. The crunch of metal. The breaking of glass. The sounds of the accident caused her to drop her hand. The sight caused me to jump back. Not once, but twice. I tried to grab her, but my hand slipped off her elbow.

She felt it too, just as she turned to the noise. Part of the car’s bumper tore off the car and flew through the air, slamming into her side and knocking her to the ground right in front of me.

“Molly!” I screamed, trying to ignore the glass that fell around us, the sound of her breathe exploding out of her, and the crack of her head hitting the sidewalk.

“Molly,” I whispered as I fell to my knees and looked her over. The good news was that her eyes were open, she was breathing. She was going to be okay. Right?

“Joe,” she whispered to me. “I don’t feel so good.”

“I know.” I wasn’t sure what to do. They always say you shouldn’t move somebody until you know what their injuries were. But this was Molly, my wife. I needed to comfort her. I gently lifted her so she could rest her head on my lap, hoping I wasn’t causing more damage as I did so. “Sssshhh.” I gently stroked her hair with one hand while I dug my phone out of my pocket with the other. “I’m going to call 911.”

“Honey, there’s something I wanted to tell you,” Molly said haltingly. She lifted her hand to her eyebrow again.

“Not now. Just be quiet.”

A crowd began to form. Some were trying to help the driver in the wrecked car. Others were talking angrily about the fact that the driver who had caused the mess had kept on going.

“Did anybody get the license plate?”

“Nah, man. What an asshole!”

“What kind of car was it?

“A Sentra.”

“No, no, no. It was a Corolla.”

“You’re both wrong. It was a Honda. Something like that.”

“It was blue, wasn’t it?”

“Nah. Gray.”

“Again, you’re both wrong. It was silver.”

“Shit man, gray. Silver. There ain’t no difference there.”

“I think I saw part of the license plate.  Maybe something like 5JW and then I didn’t get the rest.”

“That ain’t gonna help none.”

“Maybe it will. We figure out the make, they can run those first characters and maybe get a match.”

“Is she okay, dude?” a teenage boy asked me, leaning over at his waist, hands on his knees.

I looked up at the kid and said the only thing I could because I didn’t want Molly to know I was worried. That I was scared. “Yeah, she’s fine. Just a little knock on the head. That’s all.” And who knew if the bumper hitting her had caused any damage to her hip, or anything else for that matter.

As the sound of sirens finally reached my ears, Molly reached her hand to mine. “There’s something I’ve wanted to tell you, but I don’t know how.”

“What? You can tell me anything. But now may not be the time. You’re hurt. Just take it easy.”

“No. I need to tell you now. I can’t hold it in any longer.”

“The ambulance is almost here.” I could see the flashing lights coming down Elk Grove-Florin. an ambulance and a police car were on their way. “We can talk later.”

“Listen, Joe.” Molly tried to sit up but grimaced before resting her head back in my lap. “Trent was right?”

“What? Trent? Who is that? What are you talking about?”

Molly sighed and began rubbing her left eyebrow again. “You are so … never mind. Trent. He was our server last night.”

“Yeah. So.” I wanted to take her hand away from her face. “Where the hell are the paramedics?” The sirens had stopped with the ambulance parked behind the damaged car. I wasn’t thinking about the driver in the car. I was only concerned about Molly.

“Wait a sec.” I forgot for a moment about the paramedics. “Trent? You mean the guy who got our order totally wrong.”

“It wasn’t that bad.”

“Yes, it was. You ordered the jumbo shrimp. He brought you a cubano sandwich. I mean, it’s not even the same meat type.”

“Okay. You’re right. He got that wrong. But he was right about something else.

That’s when the paramedics finally got to us. Who I would later learn were Frank and Mick.

“She’s my wife,” I told them when they were checking her out. “Is she going to be okay?”

The one who I’d later learn was Frank replied, “Should be, but we need to get her to the ER and get her checked out. Have the doctors take a look at her head. The good news is it doesn’t appear to be anything else. No other damage. Just her head.”

“Just her head …” I mumbled to myself. The head could be a big deal though. I knew people who had concussions. Bad ones. Skiing accidents and skateboarding accidents and falls from bicycles. Knocking their heads on something and, sometimes, it took months and months for them to get right. To get past the headaches, the fuzziness, the grayness, the memory issues. All sorts of things. So … just her head. Yeah.

Frank and Mick put Molly on a gurney and rolled her into the ambulance. Just before they slammed the doors shut, Molly told them to hold up. “Joe, I need to tell you what Trent was right about.”It’s not that big of a deal. It can wait.”No, no. Hold on.” She propped herself up on her elbows. An effort I could tell wasn’t easy. “You didn’t like your burger. Too dry, wasn’t it? You should have got the manicotti like Trent suggested.”

“What? That’s it? That’s why you’re rubbing your eyebrow again? Molly?” I said as Mick slammed the ambulance doors shut. “Molly?!”

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A Dream Story

I rarely remember my dreams, but this morning I woke up with a clear image from a dream in my head.

I was walking with a woman in my neighborhood. I have no idea who the woman was, but what I describe in the opening couple paragraphs below was the image I had when I woke up. And the accident that follows was in that image as well. I had an idea of trying to take the image and write something immediately, but I had things to do this morning, so I couldn’t do that. It came back to me as I ate dinner, so … what this is then is a somewhat spur of the moment, flash piece, based on a dreamed image. One more note … this is very much a first draft, rough, unedited (at least not much), and written in the WP editor instead of in MS Word and then transferred here. Whatever I come up with tonight will be it, and I’ll push Publish. Be gentle.

 

Molly always did this thing when she was nervous. She would rub her left eyebrow with her right hand. I guess it’s why she didn’t see the accident as it was happening. Maybe without the nervousness, with her hand covering her eye, blocking her peripheral vision, she would have seen it coming and would have got out of the way. Maybe.

We were walking down Brittany Park Drive. At the corner of Elk Grove-Florin Road, we turned right. On our way to Taco Bell. A chalupa or two for me. Soft tacos for her. Maybe we’d split a Nachos Supreme.

I looked at her rubbing her eyebrow. Her hand covering her left eye almost entirely. Why was she nervous? I had no idea. That’s when two things happened.

First, she stopped walking and said to me, “Joe. I’m not feeling so good.” I was about to ask her why when the second thing happened.

Two cars came through the intersection almost simultaneously. The one in the far lane, just slightly ahead, tried to change lanes. But there wasn’t any space to do so yet. All there was was the other car. The one clipped the other, pushing it up on to the sidewalk and into a utility pole, mere feet from us.

I saw it coming, but Molly didn’t. Her hand covering her eye, the other focused on me while she complained about how she felt. It likely didn’t matter because she heard it. The squeal of brakes. The crunch of metal. The breaking of glass. The sounds of the accident caused her to drop her hand. The sight caused me to jump back. Not once, but twice. I tried to grab her, but my hand slipped off her elbow.

She felt it too, just as she turned to the noise. Part of the car’s bumper tore off the car and flew through the air, slamming into her side and knocking her to the ground right in front of me.

“Molly!” I screamed, trying to ignore the glass that fell around us, the sound of her breathe exploding out of her, and the crack of her head hitting the sidewalk.

“Molly,” I whispered as I fell to my knees and looked her over. The good news was that her eyes were open, she was breathing. She was going to be okay. Right?

“Joe,” she whispered to me. “I don’t feel so good.”

“I know.” I wasn’t sure what to do. They always say you shouldn’t move somebody until you know what their injuries were. But this was Molly, my wife. I needed to comfort her. I gently lifted her so she could rest her head on my legs, hoping I wasn’t causing more damage as I did so. “Sssshhh.” I gently stroked her hair with one hand while I dug my phone out of my pocket with the other. “I’m going to call 911.”

“Honey, there’s something I wanted to tell you,” Molly said haltingly. She lifted her hand to her eyebrow again.

“Not now. Just be quiet.”

A crowd began to form. Some were trying to help the driver in the wrecked car. Others were talking angrily about the fact that the driver who had caused the mess had kept on going.

“Did anybody get the license plate?”

“Nah, man. What an asshole!”

“What kind of car was it?

“A Sentra.”

“No, no, no. It was a Corolla.”

“You’re both wrong. It was a Honda. Something like that.”

“It was blue, wasn’t it?”

“Nah. Gray.”

“Again, you’re both wrong. It was silver.”

“Shit man, gray. Silver. There ain’t no difference there.”

“I think I saw part of the license plate.  Maybe something like 5JW and then I didn’t get the rest.”

“That ain’t gonna help, none.”

“Maybe it will. We figure out the make, they can run those first characters and maybe get a match.”

“Is she okay, dude?” a teenage boy asked me, leaning over at his waist, hands on his knees. 

I looked up at the kid and said the only thing I could because I didn’t want Molly to know I was worried. That I was scared. “Yeah, she’s fine. Just a little knock on the head. That’s all.” And who knew if the bumper hitting her had caused any damage to her hip, or anything else for that matter.

As the sound of sirens finally reached my ears, Molly reached her hand to mine. “There’s a reason I’m not feeling well.”

“What? Yeah, I know. You just got knocked down and hit your head.”

“No. Before that.”

“Oh right. Probably just the heat.”

“No, Joe. Listen to me.” Molly winced and rubbed her head. “My God, it hurts.”

“Just take it easy. The ambulance is almost here.” I could see the flashing lights coming down Elk Grove-Florin. an ambulance and a police car were on their way.

“I’m pregnant.”

“Sssshhh. Just stop … you’re what?”

“You heard me.” She tried to smile, but it came out more like a grimace.

“But … but … ”

“Yeah, I know.” The grimace widened a little bit before it disappeared. “I guess the doctor was wrong. I guess we won’t need to start the fertility treatment now.”

“Uh. Yeah.”

“You know what. I think I’m going to throw up.”

That’s when the paramedics finally got to us. Who I would later learn were Frank and Mick.

“She’s my wife,” I told them when they were checking her out. “She just told me she’s pregnant.”

“Congratulations,” they both said.

“Uh … is she going to be okay?”

The one who I’d later learn was Frank replied, “Should be, but we need to get her to the ER and get her checked out. Have the doctors take a look at her head. The good news is it doesn’t appear to be anything else. No other damage. Just her head.”

“Just her head …” I mumbled to myself. The head could be a big deal though. I knew people who had concussions. Bad ones. Skiing accidents and skateboarding accidents and falls from bicycles. Knocking their heads on something and, sometimes, it took months and months for them to get right. To get past the headaches, the fuzziness, the grayness, the memory issues. All sorts of things. So … just her head. Yeah.

Frank and Mick put Molly on a gurney and rolled her into the ambulance. “What about the baby?” I asked Frank after he had slammed the ambulance doors shut.

“I don’t know. You should probably talk to the doctors about that. But like I said, there doesn’t seem to be any other injuries. You want to ride with us.”

I declined the ride. I could run home and get my car and meet them there.

As the ambulance pulled away and I turned toward home, I stopped and looked at the gathered crowd still milling around near the damaged car. “She’s pregnant. We’re going to have a baby,” I said to none of them in particular.

One of them, an old black man who was towards the back of the crowd heard me. “Well then, son, you need to get going then, don’t you? Go on, get out of here. Take care of her.”

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Phantom

The Monday night writing prompt was … phantom.

I’d write tonight

But I just can’t

A world torn asunder
By a virus
By racism
By violence
I’m overwhelmed
Watching the news
Watching twitter
I go around
And around
And around again
Over
and over
and over again
I can’t figure it out
How to stop
As everything falls
I watch and I write
I argue and I defend
And then the Phantom appears
Our President
Preceded by police
And tear gas
Breaking a peaceful protest
For a photo op
Of a man
So out of his depth
At a church that did not invite
Holding a Bible he has never read
Threatening war on his people
Dividing
Hating
What happened to love
What happened to tolerance
What happened to unity
What happened to respect
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Coyote

The coyote lurked right at the edge of the yard, where the light from the porch reached that place where the darkness of night overwhelmed the glow. Even at that edge, I could see the reflection in his eyes. Two red orbs that looked back at me every time he whipped his head in my direction. For the most part he didn’t do that though. He paced back and forth right at that edge. From one end of the yard to the other. Not looking at me, or at the house. Just straight ahead. To that end. And then turning and jogging back to the other end. Back and forth he went. 

I wondered what it was he was waiting for. The last chicken had died months ago. The lambs to the slaughter shortly after that. Wrapping things up before we moved meant there wasn’t much livestock left. Moving back to the city can do that.  

Dora and I had tried to make a go of country life. Escaping the mad dash of urbanity. We had quit our jobs at the health care company where we both worked. It had been two years, but we had yet to figure out a way to make a real go of it. Our savings dwindled, our patience with each other at a breaking point, we caved. Two weeks before, escrow closed on the property and we had two days left in the country home that we had hoped for so hard. Tails between our legs, we were moving in with her parents until we figured out what was next. 

“Hey honey, whatcha doing?” Dora called from the kitchen. 

I ignored her. I wasn’t sure what she would think about the coyote on the fringe of the yard. I took a seat on the top step of the porch and watched him some more. 

“Honey, you out there?” 

I could tell her voice was closer. She was coming out. 

“I’m just sitting out here, enjoying the night,” I finally replied. “The stars are …” 

That’s when the screen door wheezed open and Dora stepped on to the porch.  “Wow. Look at the moon,” she sighed. 

“Yeah.” I looked back at her and patted the step next to me. She was right. It was huge. Round. Full. And lurked just above the horizon, filtered through a few trees. It had just a hint of orange to it as well. If it wasn’t for the coyote, that’s what I probably would have been looking at. 

It was then that the coyote’s pacing changed. He stopped and turned his attention to the porch. I felt his eyes bore into me and as Dora sat next to me, the coyote charged. Leaving the comfort of the half dark edge of light, he came across the yard. Straight towards us. 

I rose and pulled Dora up with me. “What the hell!” she whispered to me, grabbing my hand.  

“Go inside,” I screamed and pulled the screen door open, shoving her in. I followed her, and before slamming the front door shut, I took one glance back at the coyote. For the first time, I saw the foam dripping from its jaws, and I could have sworn the animal was smiling at me. Or leering. Or something. 

And then I thought about Cujo, that Stephen King novel I read when I was a kid. The one that put me in fear of dogs for years. I slammed the door shut, turned the bolt, just as I heard the coyote come up the steps and slam into the screen, setting the springs and hinges to jangling.  

Dora and I got a dog a year before. A corgi. At first, I was terrified because I’d never had a dog as a child and there was that damn King story. It only took a few weeks until I realized how foolish I had been. Seriously. Who could be afraid of a corgi? Me. 

But I got over it. Ralph, the dog and don’t ask, had been shipped to the in-laws the day before. I was thankful for that. Typically, in the evenings he roamed the property before coming in and curling up at the foot of the bed. I can’t imagine what the coyote would have done with Ralph if he’d been outside that night. I caught myself with an image in my head. Blood and a dead dog. 

* * * * * 

I was riding my bike along the trail that winds along the American River and decided to take a rest before turning back into the head wind that always pushed against me when heading back to Sac State. There was a little park tucked along a curve of the trail. Plenty of shade and a couple of picnic tables.  

It’s where Dora and I met. She was at one of those tables, reading a book. We got married less than a year later. We promised each other a few things that day. 

“I promise to love you forever.” 

“And I do you too,” Dora responded. “I promise to be your friend no matter what.” 

“As do I to you.” I looked down at the paper shaking in my hand. “We will grow old together.” 

“With children and grandchildren.” 

“And happiness and love.” 

I held my hand out to her and we danced under the moon that night. 

In the months that followed, we were eager to begin fulfilling those promises. It didn’t matter if we lived in a small apartment at the time, but six months after the wedding, Dora had her first miscarriage. It took a month or two, but she recovered and we kept on trying. 

The second miscarriage, though, took someothing out of her. I wondered if the hole would ever get plugged again. 

Truthfully, the corgi wasn’t just for me. To get over my fear of dogs. Cujo!!! No, it was also for her. To give Dora a thing to care for. To love, as she would a baby. Maybe. Maybe she would heal and be whole again. She loved the dog, but it didn’t help. Not really. We had started fertility treatments and that was a whole other thing that seemed to suck the life out of her. 

* * * * *  

It was quiet outside for a moment and then the coyote slammed against the screen door again. It growled. No, it wasn’t a growl. It was an unearthly shriek that split the air.  

I looked back at Dora. “What do we do?” she said to me, her voice barely above a whisper.  

“You stay here. I’m going to get the gun.”  

“Jack?”  

“What else can we do?”  

“Call 911?”  

“No. I’ll take care of this.”  

We’d bought the gun when we moved in. I thought it was necessary since we were out in the middle of nowhere, but I hadn’t fired it in almost the entire two years we had lived there. When I first got it, I shot at old cans on a tree stump back behind the house. But I quickly tired of that, and the gun had been upstairs for too long.  

I turned to the stairs and took them three at a time, with Dora pleading, “Just call 911. You don’t need to do this,” while the damn coyote kept attacking the screen door and splitting the air with its shrieks.  

The gun was in a shoe box in our closet, with the clips scattered loosely at the bottom of the box. I reached around in the dark until I found it and then picked the whole thing up and raced back downstairs.   

“Here,” I handed the box to Dora and ripped the lid off.   

“Please just call the police, Jeremiah, please,” Dora pleaded. She held the box in one hand and had her phone in the other. “Here. Please.” 

“No. We need to do this. That thing is rabid. There’s no telling what it’ll do in the time it takes a deputy to get here.” To prove my point, the coyote slammed into the screen door again and I heard the screen clatter as it fell to the porch floor. The next charge was straight into the door. It didn’t seem like anything was going to stop the beast.  

“You’re not going to shoot that thing!” Dora screamed this at me, but she also held the box out to me while I reached in for the gun. “You can’t do that, can you? Shoot an animal?”  

I fumbled in the box for a clip and dropped it to the floor before I slammed another into the heel of the gun. I grabbed a second clip, putting it in my pocket and dropping the box to the floor.   

“Honey, please. That thing isn’t going to be able to get through the door.”   

I noticed that the coyote had stopped, that it was silent on the other side of the door. Maybe I wouldn’t need the gun, and then I heard the growl. Followed by a shriek, and instead of slamming into the door again, the coyote went at the window next to the door. The window shattered and the coyote’s head was in the house. It’s red eyes darted around. Foam, mixed with fresh blood beginning to ooze from cuts on its snout, dripped to the floor. 

* * * * * 

Back when we were making promises to each other, I made a few of my own.  

“I promise to keep you safe and to protect you.” I said this to Dora when I proposed to her. Back at the bench in the park along the American River where we first met. “If you will marry me, I promise to always be there for you, to slay your demons, and bring light into your world.” 

You see, Dora had some issues. I learned about them late at night, when the world was dark and quiet. Occasionally, Dora wasn’t so quiet. In her sleep, she would cry and yell. When she did, I’d reach out and hold her until she calmed down. In the mornings that followed, she would tell me of her nightmares. Some of them were actual dreams. Some weren’t. Some were all too real memories of her past. I meant to protect her from all of them. 

That morning when I proposed to her, Cora cried for a bit before she accepted my proposal. She wrapped her arms around my neck and breathed into my ear, “Yes, oh definitely, yes.” 

For a time her night terrors seemed to pass. Maybe, the mere fact that I had committed to her forever had eased her fears. For months we were happy, there was definitely light in our lives. 

We rode together along the bike trail, we ate breakfast in bed, and stayed up late playing cribbage and nuzzling each other as we slept through the night. After the first miscarriage, something changed. I’m not sure she slept more than a few hours for the next three or four days. She called in sick at work. “Babe, I just need some time,” she told me, when I suggested we get away together. “By myself. You go to work.” 

I did, because I wasn’t sure what else to do. This was a thing I wasn’t prepared for. My wife mourning a child that never was. And when she finally was able to sleep, she began to cry in her sleep again. All I could do was hold her. 

When she got pregnant again, things were better. Until they weren’t and the second miscarriage came almost immediately after we got the good news. I learned then that my promise was empty. I couldn’t protect her from everything. There were some demons that couldn’t be slayed, and all I could do was watch and catch her if she fell too far. 

***** 

But this, this damn coyote, this was something I could save her from. I had a gun and a clip, a spare in my pocket. The coyote wasn’t going to get any further. 

That’s when it shrieked again — an ear-splitting, unholy sound that ripped through the air. And I dropped the gun, while the coyote pushed further through the shattered window. 

“Jeremiah!” came another shriek from behind me. 

“Go upstairs. To our bedroom. Shut the door and move something in front of the door. Barricade yourself in there.” 

“I’m calling 911.” 

“Fine.” I bent down, not taking my eyes off the coyote, and felt around for the gun. “Just do it from upstairs.” 

As Dora turned and walked upstairs, I mumbled to her, “They won’t get here in time.” 

After what felt like three hours of groping for the gun, while the coyote growled and spit and Dora slammed the bedroom door, I finally looked away from the threat and looked down. It was right there, in the one spot I hadn’t reached. I grabbed it and held it in both hands, turning it on the coyote.  

I was breathing hard, my hands were shaking. I looked at the red eyes and bloody snout and tried to calm down. If I pulled the trigger right then, there was no telling where the bullet would end up. I needed everything to stop. Just for a few seconds. To get my breath under control, to steady my hands, and to convince myself to do it. 

Dora was right. I couldn’t shoot it. It sounds stupid, but … I closed my eyes on the beast and counted backwards from ten. It was a trick my mom taught me when I was a kid. To calm myself whenever I was feeling nervous or scared. 

10 … 

The coyote growled from deep down its throat. 

9 … 

I could hear Dora pushing the dresser across the floor of our bedroom. 

8 … 

Breathe in, breathe out. 

7 … 

I thought of the one ultrasound we had, from the first pregnancy. There was a little peanut growing inside of Dora’s body. It was ours. 

6 … 

More glass broke off from the window, clattering to the floor. I wanted to open my eyes. I didn’t. 

5 … 

Breathe in, breathe out. 

4 … 

Dora yelled down to me, “I’ve got 911 on now.” 

3 … 

Steady hands. Steady. 

2 … 

The coyote shrieked again. 

Breathe in, breathe out. 

Steady. Steady. 

1 … 

I felt hot breath on me. 

I opened my eyes and fired, and missed wildly. The bullet shattered a window on the other side of the door, but the blast from the gun at least stopped the coyote and set my ears to ringing so loudly I couldn’t hear a thing. 

From behind me, two arms reached around me and grabbed onto my wrists. “You’ve got this,” Dora whispered in my ear. 

I pointed the gun at the coyote, my wife steadied my hands. We waited to see what the thing would do. When it growled again and lifted its red eyes to leer at us, I pulled the trigger. 

“We got it,” I whispered to Dora as I dropped the gun to the floor. 
 ***End***

 

If you’ve got this far, I need to thank my new writing accountability partner who will remain nameless for the moment. If not for this new accountability effort and the fellow writer who has joined the effort, I probably would not have finished this today.

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A Story I’d Like To Write

My grandmother’s birthday is today. She was born 111 years ago in Rothenturm, Switzerland. As you might expect, she didn’t quite make it to today. Instead, she passed away in her sleep Christmas morning 1990, at the age of 81. Her last few years were tough. First, a heart attack and subsequent heart surgery left her physically and mentally weaker than she once was. A couple of years later, she fell and broke her shoulder, necessitating removing her from the home she had lived in for decades and placing her in a convalescent facility, where she remained until that Christmas morning.

A few years ago I decided I wanted to try to write a story about my grandmother, using what facts and memories I have and can acquire from other family members, and filling the gaps with artistic license in a way that is consistent with my memory of her. Easier said than done.

My grandmother lived a remarkable life, but in many respects what made it remarkable was the sheer ordinariness of it. Her story is one that many have lived over the last 110 years, but there are moments in there. Moments of celebration. Moments of adventure. Moments of tragedy.

It’s the tragedy that forms the backbone of her story and defines the remarkable nature of her life. When she was a child, she was walking down a street in Rothenturm one day when a boy pedaled by on a bicycle. The town witch was nearby, witnessed the encounter, and told my grandmother that she would marry the boy one day.

Fast forward a little more than 15 years. The boy has returned to Northern California where he was born. My grandmother has immigrated to the United States and taken up residence in Northern California also. She meets the boy at some point and … marries him. The tragedy arrives when she is pregnant with their second child, only a week or two from her due date, and her husband, the man of her dreams, falls from a roof in a construction accident and dies.

She would never remarry. Instead, she raised her two children on her own through the final years of the Great Depression, World War II, and everything that came after that. She cleaned houses, did ironing, worked in a family member’s bakery for a time so she could get Social Security, and did what she could to provide for her children.

My original idea was that it would just be a straight story about her and her life. I wrote the first few pages and then bogged down because, you know, how do you make up the reality of a life that actually was lived?

Those few pages have been sitting there for a couple of years now. Things have happened recently that give me an impetus to get this story done sooner instead of later, but I’m still struggling with it.

Recently, I read Cinthia Ritchie’s fabulous memoir, Malnourished. As I read it, I realized that there may be more to this than just trying to tell my grandmother’s story. There are connections and relationships and things that stretch from her to me, and I think what I need to do is just start writing. This may be the most rambling thing I ever write, if I actually do the deed, but here is the opening piece of what I’ve written so far.

 

How do you write a story about real people when you don’t know those people well enough to fill the gaps? How do you make it as true as you can when so much of the truth is a mystery to you? I had this idea about a story I wanted to write, but I don’t know how to do it. 

Writing fiction means you can make the whole thing up. Yes, you have to worry about inner consistency and logic and not go completely crazy in the make-believe you create. But still, you don’t have to worry about being honest to living people. You don’t have to worry about whether you get it right. It’s your creation, entirely yours. Just make the reader happy, and you’re good.

I had this idea a couple of years ago. I wanted to write a story about my grandmother. 

I only had one grandparent. Biologically, that is impossible. I had the normal quota of four grandparents. But I only ever knew one of them. My maternal grandmother. Grandma. Years before I was born, her husband died in a roofing accident when my mom was less than two years old and Grandma was pregnant with their son. Much closer to my birth, my paternal grandfather died. And finally, my paternal grandmother died when I was young enough to not have a clear memory of her, although there is a scratchy thing around the edges of my mental images from my childhood. They are of a frail, slight woman, with glasses and wispy hair. And that’s it.

Grandma was it for me. She bore the burden of representing four people. I’ve often envied people who had a grandfather in their lives. There is something about a grandpa that can be so cool. They fought in the war and they make silly faces and they get tired and go take naps and sometimes they just don’t want to talk. But when they do, the stories they tell are the best and the way they laugh and smile and the hair grows out of their ears. A grandpa can be like no other person in your life.

But so too can a grandma be and Grandma was special. She told her tales as well. Of growing up in the old country and of her many siblings and other relatives. She had the most incredible vegetable garden, with raspberry vines strung along the back fence and rhubarb grown in the shade, and fruit trees. She drove an old XXXXXXX, exactly the type of car a grandma drives.

She was scary sometimes, too, when she got mad, but mostly she wasn’t.

Grandma had a basement with canned fruits and cobwebs and dark corners. And she made the best garlic bread I’ve ever had. Sliced, then buttered and put under the broiler to just the right crispy crunch. She made angel food cake with a frosting I’ve never had since, and bratwurst and rhubarb sauce and spaghetti. We’d sit down in her dining room for dinner and my brother and I would immediately down a glass of milk and ask for another. Grandma would chastise us for drinking so much milk and be convinced we wouldn’t have any room for dinner.

That dining room table is now in my dining room and it has seen many more family meals in the years since Grandma passed away on Christmas morning in 1990. But I don’t know that any of those meals were like the ones we had with Grandma. My kids will probably have similar memories as I have, but the memories change when you go from the kid to the adult. When you go from a seat along the side of the table with your feet barely able to touch the floor to a seat at the head of the table and all of the responsibilities that come with it.

That table now represents something else for me. As I move towards retirement and a desire to downsize, I feel like it’s time to give the table up. After thirty years of stewardship and memories, when I move I want to get a new dining room table, one befitting of the next round of memory-making. I hope one of my boys will take the table, to continue its space in the family. Its place where the family gathers and the next generation of children will sit down and slam down a glass of milk and then look to what’s for dinner.

Grandma passed only a few months before her first great-granddaughter entered the world, but as my mother described it, her passing was a gift, both to her and to those who cared about her. Her last few years were tough, the kind of years far too many people have to go through at the end of their lives. A heart attack and heart surgery left her weaker, both physically and mentally. Eventually she fell and broke her shoulder. The result being a placement in a nursing facility that could provide her the care she needed. 

It was difficult to visit her there, a place she didn’t want to be. She would always ask when she would get to go home. A place that was only a mile or two from the facility. A place that had been her home for more than fifty years. A home purchased for her by my grandfather, where she raised her two kids and where her seven grandchildren spent so many pleasant hours with their Grandma.

She never got back to her home, unfortunately. And it was so difficult to visit her and not be able to provide the answer to that question she so definitely wanted. 

So …

When I came up with this idea, I did a bit of research and talked to my mom about some of the details of Grandma’s life. I came up with the opening scene of the story. It goes like this …

The S.S. Arabic, built in 1908 in Bremen, Germany, was originally christened the Berlin. It steamed across the Atlantic for the first time in 1909. During World War I, the ship was enlisted into service by the German Navy to lay mines. Her service was short, however, as she suffered damage, went to port in Trondheim and was confiscated by the Norwegian government.

In 1920, the S.S. Berlin was sold to the White Star Line and was re-named the Arabic. It seems odd now that a western shipping line would name a ship the Arabic, but back then Arabia was likely viewed as an exotic wilderness yet to be fully explored and exploited. This was, after all, only a few years after the daring adventures of T.E. Lawrence in Arabia and the surrounding lands.

Until 1932, when the Arabic was junked, it plied the Atlantic from various European and Mediterranean ports. In 1926, the ship sailed from Hamburg. It was there that on April 29, 1927, Anna Scheidegger, her brother Fred, and their mother Frances boarded the ship and departed the old country for America.

On the fifth day of their voyage, Anna’s mother finally came up to the deck. Until then she had been far too sick to make her way up to the sun, spending her time in their tiny cabin, while Anna stood at the railing for hours at a time and Fred ran with a group of boys throughout the ship.

She found Anna towards the front, looking out to the sea. Towards America. Frances was struck by the glint in her daughter’s eyes and the smile she found there. Anna had not been sick for a moment. Her enthusiasm for what she called a great adventure seemed to overcome any effects from their voyage across the ocean.

“Good morning,” Frances said as she leaned against the railing next to her daughter.

“Mama! You are feeling better?” Anna did not turn to her mother, she couldn’t take her eyes from the waves that rolled endlessly, the clouds that raced across the sky, and the promise that was ahead of her. America.

She could not take her mind off of it. Anna had read about New York City and its teeming streets and, oh, there was so much her sister Marie had written her about. Of the trains across a vast land to a place called California. Anna was ready for it, whatever may come.

“A bit,” Frances replied.

“Where’s Fred?”

“I don’t know. I wanted a few moments with you. Let’s find him in a bit. For now, we can watch the sun set together.”

“What is it?” Anna finally turned to her mother.

“It is your birthday, my child. Today you turn 18.” Frances reached out to touch Anna’s arm. “You are not a child anymore.”

“Oh, of course,” Anna replied.

“Anna? Please?”

“I don’t care that it’s my birthday. I want to finish this trip. To get to America.” Anna gave her mother a hug. “But, thank you.”

“You should have a cake. If we were back home, your grandmother would have made sure of it.”

“No. I don’t need any of that. Bring right here is present enough.”

Frances and Anna settled in at the railing and were joined by Fred a few moments later. In the quiet as the sun reached the horizon, Anna asked the question that had driven her this far. To agree to leave her home in Rotenthurm, to cross an ocean, and to go to a country she had only read about.

“Do you think I’ll find Martin?”

**********

“Mama,” little Anna yelled as she rushed through the front door. Her mother was in the kitchen where she always was. Her hair tied in a bun in the morning was now more scattered than gathered.

The year was 1915. The War to End All Wars was in full swing. Anna was barely six years old and full of energy. Sometimes Frances wondered if she would ever settle down and sit in one place.

“What is it, little one?” What she really wanted to do was tell her to keep her voice down. The even smaller ones were sleeping. But how could she? Anna’s spirit was impossible to dampen. 

“I … I … I …,” Anna began breathlessly, having run home from (NAME OF STREET in Rothenturm). She took a big gulp of air. “I saw the man I am going to marry.”

“What are you talking about?” Frances wiped a lose strand of hair from her face and returned to the bread she was kneading.

Anna took another deep breath. “There was a boy riding a bicycle. Martin Schuler. You know …”

“Yes. I know.” Everybody knew the Schulers. Visiting from America when the war broke out, they had been unable to return home and instead had become fixtures in the town. 

“When I came out of the butcher’s, he rode by.” Anna stopped to take the package of sausages out of her bag and handed it to her mother. “Mrs. Burckhalder was there and she told me something.”

“Ay, child. How many times do I need to tell you to stay away from that old witch? She is nothing but bad news. Please. No more.”

“But Mama, she told me that one day I would marry Martin Schuler!”

**************************************

And that’s as far as I’ve gotten. It’s been months, and when I spend any mental energy pondering this, I have no idea where to go next. Back to the ship? But for what? What happens there. More time in Rothenturm, in a small Swiss village? Or do I skip ahead to America? And how do I fill in the gaps in my knowledge about my grandmother, her relatives, and her life? It’s a challenge I’m not sure I’m up to.

Then this thing happened. (A thing I’m not going to share here at the moment, but it just propelled me forward on this. This is something I need to get done sooner instead of later, if I’m going to actually do this.)

The problems I’m having with this have just expanded even more. I realized that this is a story about far more than my grandmother. It is a story about memories and family and love and people lost and so many other things. I’ve realized there is a hole here. Inside of me. I wonder if I just imagine it, or if other people feel like this — lost memories, lost people, all adding up to a great big hole inside of them.

I went to the cemetery a couple of months ago. But first I had to ask my mom, “Where is your dad buried?” because I had absolutely no idea. I didn’t even know if she knew. And that was just ridiculous, given how Grandma felt about her husband. She loved him so deeply that she never dated or re-married after his death. 

After I wrote that last sentence, I went back into a folder and stack of papers that I’ve accumulated over the years. One of the documents is something my mom put together more than 20 years ago at my request. Memories of her childhood and her family. It turns out that once my grandfather passed away, there were a number of young men who attempted to woo my grandmother. She may have even danced with a few of them at Swiss dances and other events. And my mom has a memory of being asked how she would feel about having a new dad. But nothing apparently came of any of that.

Instead, my mom has memories of weekly visits to her father’s grave. Of her mom always placing flowers there, ensuring that it was kept clean and looking good, and of her mother weeping there.

My grandfather was, in Grandma’s words, the perfect man. With such feelings about her husband, and given the time, there shouldn’t have been any doubt in my mind about where he was buried.

In a plot where 53 years later, his wife joined him. I feel like I’ve been there once since Grandma passed away in 1990. I’m not sure the reason, but I think it was another time when I was feeling things. Memories and loss and a need to connect with those emotions and people in my past.

I found their graves. The markers next to each other and flanked by each of their mothers. Where did their fathers go? What happened to them? Where were they buried? According to my mom, they are likely both buried back in Rothenturm. My grandfather’s father was ill when they visited Rothenturm just before World War I started and he died there before he could return home. And nowhere in any of the history I’m aware of is there any mention of Grandma’s father coming to America as the rest of the family did. 

I sat in front of the graves for 10-15 minutes. Took a few pictures. I wondered why I was feeling what I was feeling about all of this. Why I was struggling with this story, why was I there in front of these two graves, scraping things open. Inspiration? Sure. But was there more?

All I can come up with is that we are a sum of our parts. Of those who gave birth to us, of our own experiences, of our environment, of our friends and of our enemies, and of the decisions our ancestors made that brought two people together in a particular place. And those two people joined and created more people. Sons and daughters. Siblings and cousins. And generations go on.

I want so much to know those people and their decisions. I want to hold their memories and their love and ensure that they are not forgotten. I want to inform my life with who they were, what they went through, and why they did what they did. I want to know what mattered to them. What they loved. How they felt. So much of that is gone.

**************************

There are some additional pieces that follow here, but I’m not ready to share those publicly. But that’s where I’m at now. I’m still somewhat befuddled by what I will do with this. I have this vision of my memories of my grandmother and the memories of her that others share with me, weaving through my own experiences. How those memories struck me back then, how they continue to strike me today. And who knows … maybe there will be something there.

Anyway, Happy Birthday Grandma. You are loved and missed.

 

expectIMG_1173

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Writing Exercises

After years of struggle, I’m still struggling with writing. In this age of pandemic and newly retired, I’m doing a range of things to keep busy, but regular, steady writing isn’t one of them. Much to my chagrin.

However, I have started dabbling in things, which I think is a sign of progress. Over at Dale’s place, she writes based on prompts from a couple of different places every week. Every once in awhile, whatever the prompt is intrigues me and I’ve written something and put it in a comment on her blog.

Yesterday, I decided to make it official and connect one of my efforts to the blog posting the prompt, Friday Fictioneers. I posted the effort here yesterday.  I plan on participating more regularly in Friday Fictioneers and other prompt machines, just to try to keep the writing thing alive in me and see if something catches my fancy, while I ponder my multitude of “works in progress” that haven’t been progressing much for years.

The other thing I started doing again after I retired was join a writing group. For a couple of years, two writing friends have encouraged me to join their respective writing groups. I’ve always begged off because of work and family and just my overall sense that I’ve lost something when it comes to writing. I was concerned that I would embarrass myself and not be able to write anything when the time came — much like what happened the last couple of times I went to Zoe’s writing group. (That’s a whole other story.)

Anyway, with retirement, I decided it was time to give it a try. To see if I still had something to say via the written word and fiction. Turns out the two writing friends are in the same writing group. It’s a prompt group. Everybody shows up, a prompt is provided. They write for 20-30 minutes and then read the results to the group for positive thoughts and feedback.

And then the Great Quarantining of 2020 hit. The group hasn’t met in person since I “joined.” The first week, everything was done by email. Since that first week, they’ve got together via Zoom for the reading sessions. While I participate by email, I have yet to get into the Zoom sessions. Typically, when they start I am just sitting down to my computer and seeing the email and deciding whether the prompt has something for me.

Here then are the things I’ve done since joining the group. The first piece stretched over two weeks and two different prompts. And no, it’s not finished yet. That’s the biggest problem I have these days — finishing things.

 

COYOTE

First Two Prompts (The first prompt was “what the hell.” The second prompt was “shift.” And what I did with that second prompt was an experiment I will probably do away with if I ever complete this story):

The coyote lurked right at the edge of the yard, where the light from the porch reached that place where the darkness of night overwhelmed the glow. Even at that edge, I could see the reflection in his eyes. Two bright orbs that looked back at me every time he whipped his head towards me. For the most part he didn’t do that though. He paced back and forth right at that edge. From one end of the yard to another. Not looking at me, or at the house. Just straight ahead. To that end. And then whipping around and jogging back to the other end. Back and forth he went.

I wondered what it was he was waiting for. The last chicken had died months ago. The lambs to the slaughter shortly after that. Wrapping things up before we moved meant there wasn’t much livestock left. Moving back to the city can do that. 

Dora and I had tried to make a go of country life. Escaping the mad dash of urbanity. We had quit our jobs at the health care company where we both worked. It had been two years, but we had yet to figure out a way to make a real go of it. Our savings dwindled, our patience with each other at a breaking point, we caved in. Two weeks before, escrow closed on the property and we had two days left in the country home that we had hoped for so hard. Tails between our legs, we were moving in with her parents until we figured out what was next.

“Hey honey, whatcha doing?” Dora called from the kitchen.

I ignored her. I wasn’t sure what she would think about the coyote on the fringe of the yard. I took a seat on the top step of the porch and watched him some more.

“Honey, you out there?”

I could tell her voice was closer. She was coming out.

“I’m just sitting out here, enjoying the night,” I finally replied. “The stars are …”

That’s when I heard the screen door wheeze open and Dora’s first step out on to the porch.  “Wow. Look at the moon.”

“Yeah.” I looked back at her and patted the step next to me. She was right. It was huge. Round. Full. And lurked just above the horizon, filtered through a few trees. It had just a hint of orange to it as well. If it wasn’t for the coyote, that’s what I probably would have been looking at.

It was then that the coyote’s pacing changed. He stopped and turned to his attention to the porch. I felt his eyes bore into me and as Dora sat next to me, the coyote charged. Leaving the comfort of the half dark edge of light, he came across the yard. Straight towards us.

I rose and pulled Dora up with me. “What the hell!” she whispered to me, grabbing my hand. 

“Go inside,” I screamed and pulled the screen door open, shoving her in. I followed her, and before slamming the front door shut, I took one glance back at the coyote. For the first time, I saw the foam dripping from its jaws, and I could have sworn the animal was smiling at me. Or leering. Or something.

And then I thought about Cujo, that Stephen King novel I read when I was a kid. The one that put me in fear of dogs for years. I slammed the door shut, turned the bolt, just as I heard the coyote come up the steps and slam into the screen, setting the springs and hinges to jangling. 

Dora and I had got a dog a year before. A corgi. At first, I was terrified because I’d never had a dog as a child and there was that damn King story. It only took a few weeks until I realized how foolish I had been. Seriously. Who could be afraid of a corgi? Me.

But I got over it. Ralph, the dog and don’t ask, had been shipped to the in-laws the day before. I was thankful for that. Typically, in the evenings he roamed the property before coming in and curling up at the foot of the bed. I can imagine what the coyote would have done with Ralph if he’d been outside that night. I caught myself with an image in my head. Blood and a dead dog.

<shift>

I was riding my bike along the bike trail and decided to take a rest before turning back into the head wind that always pushed against me when heading back to Sac State. There was a little park tucked along a curve of the trail. Plenty of shade and a couple of picnic tables. 

It’s where Dora and I met. She was at one of those tables, reading a book.

<shift>

“I promise to love you forever.”

“And I do you too,” Dora responded. “I promise to be your friend no matter what.”

“As do I to you.” I looked down at the paper shaking in my hand. “We will grow old together.”

“With children and grandchildren.”

“And happiness and love.”

I held my hand out to her.

<shift>

It was quiet outside for a moment and then the coyote slammed against the screen door again. It growled. No, it wasn’t a growl. It was an unearthly shriek that split the air.

I looked back at Dora. “What do we do?” she said to me, her voice barely above a whisper.

“You stay here. I’m going to get the gun.”

“Jack?”

“What else can we do?”

“Call 911?”

<shift>

We were eager to begin filling our home with children. It didn’t matter if we lived in a small apartment at the time. But six months after the wedding, Dora had her first miscarriage. It took a month or two, but she recovered and we kept on trying.

The second miscarriage, though, took someothing out of her. I wondered if the hole would ever get plugged again.

Truthfully, the corgi wasn’t just for me. To get over my fear of dogs. Cujo!!! No, it was also for her. To give Cora a thing to care for. To love, as she would a baby. Maybe. Maybe she would heal and be whole again. She loved the dog, but it didn’t help. Not really. We had started fertility treatment and that was a whole other thing that seemed to suck the life out of her.

<shift>

“No. I’ll take care of this.”

We’d bought the gun when we moved in to the house. I thought it was necessary since we were out in the middle of nowhere, but I hadn’t fired it in almost the entire two years we had lived there. When I first got it, I fired it at old cans on a tree stump back behind the house. But I quickly tired of that, and the gun had been upstairs for too long.

I turned to the stairs and took them three at a time, with Dora pleading, “Just call 911. You don’t need to do this.”

<shift>

(Let’s see if I can finish the thing.)

 

***************

The Third Weekly Prompt was “bits and bits”:

Bits and bits

Of Chocolates

It was a rhyme Mama repeated whenever she made cookies. Sprinkling the chunks into the dough and stirring it with her wooden spoon. The same spoon she sometimes spanked my bottom with when I failed to meet her expectations. But she never did so that it hurt. She only did it to send me a message. Stop now. Enough. And I typically got the hint.

She had other sing-song rhymes as well.

Fiddle, faddle

Popcorn off the griddle

Or

Sleep, little princess

Wake in the morning, my missus

Sure they never really rhymed, but they played a part of the rhythm of my childhood.

But those cookies, when they went into the oven. Moments later, the aroma that filled the kitchen and drifted through the rest of the house, lurking in places and absent from others. If I was in my room, I might smell it while sitting on my bed, but over by the closet, not so much. As soon as I did, though, I’d follow the scent trail to the kitchen and be enveloped by it. A caress of sugar and butter and chocolate and vanilla warming in the oven.

When the cookies were done, Mama would pop the door of the oven open and bring the tray out, resting it on the stove. “Now, you need to just wait a couple of minutes. Let them cool a bit,” she would say to me, before repeating her rhyme. “Bits and bits. Of chocolates.”

I’d follow her direction and grab a glass from the cupboard and a bottle of milk from the fridge. I always looked for the full one — the one that Mort left on the back porch just that morning — and filled the glass to the rim.

It might not have been the couple of minutes she imagined, but I set that glass down on the kitchen table and snuck two cookies from the tray. Still piping hot, I juggled them in my hands before settling them down on the table.

Mama’s cookies were never perfect, not like the store-bought cookies. No, they were different sizes and shapes, but they were filled with bits and bits of chocolates that burned the roof of my mouth when I took my first bite, letting the cookie melt on my tongue and following it with a swig of milk to cool my mouth just a bit. Before I dove in for the next bite, and the next until my two cookies were gone. Just crumbs left on the table and Mama leaning against the counter, looking at me with that smile she had. And offering me two more before shooing me from the kitchen. “No more. You’ll spoil your appetite. Now, get on outside. Get some sun on your face.”

*******************

The Fourth Prompt was Slow Motion (I posted this here a couple of weeks ago):

Slow Motion

 

The words, they come slower

The days, they go faster

 

As time goes by

Change is constant

As time dwindles

Nothing changes

 

A time, when all seemed possible

A past, where possibilities died

 

Memories of things

That never happened

People once loved

Love that crashed

 

The words, they come slower

The days, they go faster

 

Waterfalls stream

Rainbows shimmer

Days darken

Nights creep

 

Of friends, many remembered

Of others, mostly forgotten

 

Love was a thing

Beauty inspired

Light my life

Memories fade

 

The words, they come slower

The days, they go faster

 

*********************

The Fifth Weekly Prompt was “goggles” and I can’t seem to find what I wrote for that prompt. Maybe I didn’t write anything!

The Sixth Weekly Prompt was “toaster oven”:

The Things We Bring To A Marriage

She brought a mezuzah and her Jewish faith.

I brought my Catholicism lapsed into atheism, and a willlingness to let her raise our children in her faith.

Speaking of her faith, I learned how to make challah and gave the speeches at our boys’ Bar Mitzvahs.

I brought my bicycle and a need to get out every once in awhile.

She brought her patience and willingness to let me do my thing.

That patience has been huge over the years. Patience is most definitely a virtue.

She brought her steady, consistent approach to life.

I brought my never-ending need for something new.

My search for the thing, the one thing, continues.

I brought my baking stone and sourdough starter.

She brought her toaster oven.

I mean, seriously, are these a thing? We never had one growing up.

She brought her calm that only occasionally erupted into something else.

I brought my frustration, depression, and occasional anger.

I tried to control it, but there were times, particularly that depression. It mattered sometimes.

I brought a lawn mower and a veggie garden.

She brought a need to decorate and constantly tweak.

Our walls now are covered with memories. Our garden grows.

She brought a belief that money was for today.

I brought a desire to save for tomorrow.

We’re somewhere in between those two poles.

I brought a love of sports, and politics, and deep conversation.

She brought the Hallmark Channel, and Wheel of Fortune, and talk about her day.

We’re somewhere in between those two poles.

The things we brought to a marriage.

They are the yin and the yang.

At times, they are polar opposites.

At others, we find a way.

It’s a mystery sometimes.

How this happened.

Where it will lead.

*****************
And there you have it … a few little writing exercises and what I came up with.

 

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Friday Fictioneers

My good blogging friend, Dale, has been participating in Friday Fictioneers as long as I’ve been following her. Every once in awhile, what she comes up with prompts me to write something and I do so in a comment on her blog. She encouraged me to do more than that with this week’s prompt. And actually share it.

So … here it is.  The prompt is this photo. (I wish I could figure out how to insert the photo directly into this post.)  The story has to be 100 words. Exactly.

Here’s what I came up with…

“It’s so beautiful,” she said before taking a sip of her Chardonnay. “Don’t you think?” Sam turned to me then, waiting for a response.

“Yeah, sure,” I mumbled, toying with the calamari that I wasn’t sure was real or was pig anus. The dipping sauce was good though.

I looked out at the fresh snow that was lightly laying another layer of white on the outside world, and turned back to the dining room. The waiters were beginning to light the candles at each table. Our server was approaching our table.

“Listen,” I started, “ummm … we need to talk. Now.”

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