Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

I was eight on the rainy April day that Grandma died. She woke, served up Grandpa’s usual breakfast, fed the cat and went to the porch for the morning paper. She didn’t return. Grandpa found her reaching for the door, sharing her love for him with her eyes as she took her final breath. I knew something was wrong the minute my mother answered the phone and fell into a chair with my little brother clinging to her leg. I remember dad taking the phone from her hand but the rest of the day was a blur of hospitals, family and men in suits shoving endless forms at Grandpa. Mom put on a brave face, but cried when she thought she was alone. She wasn’t ready to lose her mom. A funeral was arranged and family gathered. All I remember after that is how sad and alone Grandpa looked.
After the funeral things went back to normal, my brother and I went to school and dad went to work. The only thing different was my mom spending her days with her father, going through legal papers and personal items. She looked tired and sad at the end of the day and I didn’t know how to make things better. Three days after the funeral I came home from school, dropped my backpack on the floor and headed to the fridge. I grabbed a soda and pudding snack before settling at the table. The house was still quiet, dad was at work, my little brother was with a sitter and mom was with her dad. I listened to the old mantle clock tick off the minutes as I mindlessly shoveled in the pudding, wondering if life would ever be normal again. Mom hadn’t even opened the mail, there was a pile at least two inches thick sitting on the table. Sliding the pile closer I picked up envelope after envelope. Credit card offer, electric bill, cable bill, val-pak coupons, sale flyers, insurance bill, nothing special. Then I saw it, the bright red envelope with my name scrolled across the front.
She remembered her heart skipping a beat as she pulled it from the pile, looking it over before she got the nerve to slide her thumb under the flap. She had never received real mail before and wanted to do it right. Proud that she had barely frayed the glued flap she slowly pulled out the contents. It  was a card. On the front was a cartoon woman with gray hair,  her freakishly long arms wrapped around a large family of children and adults, pulling them close to her. With trembling fingers she opened the card, it read “Happy Birthday! You are loved today and always.” It was simply signed “your family,” but she recognized the handwriting, it was Grandma’s. Picking up the envelope she noticed that the return address was that of her grandma’s house. Pulling the card to her chest she let herself cry for the first time since she died. It was a long, hard cry that left her drained, but the card had felt like Grandma reached out with one last hug. The rest of her family came  home, they ate dinner and she went to bed, but not before securing the card, in the envelope in her diary.
Summer came and went that year and life was a new normal. It wasn’t until fall that my mom looked sad again. When I asked her why, she said that her mom’s birthday was coming up and she didn’t know how to handle things with her dad. I thought about that a lot at school and at home. Grandpa had looked so lost lately I wanted to do something to make him feel better. Then I remembered the card. it made me feel better, maybe it would make him feel better. I raced home after school, dug out the card and put it envelope and all in a new envelope, carefully wrote out his address and took a stamp from mom’s desk. My little brother followed me to the porch.
“Where ya going?” He asked.
“To the mailbox.”
“Why?”
“To mail a letter?” I snapped.
“To who? What kind of letter?” He persisted.
“None of your business squirt!” I shouted, running the last few feet.
I remember feeling a bit bad over snapping at my brother and taking his hand on the walk home. He seemed to accept that as an apology. Days passed as I wondered if my gesture would make grandpa feel worse instead of better. Then one Saturday morning the doorbell rang, I heard Grandpa ask to see me. I entered the hall and he pulled me into his strong arms and whispered “thank you” in my ear. He said it felt like grandma had come for a visit.
That was ten long years ago, I’m nineteen years old and a lot of life had passed under the bridge since then. Family gatherings stopped, no more Christmas Eve dinners at Grandma’s, no more forced Sunday dinners, no more summer camping trips arranged by Grandma. Grandpa died two years back, I missed the funeral. My parents live their life and have all but given up on me. My little brother, set to graduate high school this year, is a computer nerd devoted to technology, there is little room for humans in his world. And me? I have a life, not the life my parents planned. I work various bar jobs, pole dance when Moe needs a fill in dancer and am not above a good night of drinking. I may or may not, use my own money to pay bills, but if a customer is dumb enough to leave  his wallet on the bar while he attends a lap dance, is that my fault?
I served another round to table four, slapped away Dwayne’s hands at table two and made my way to the kitchen. My shift was over, all I wanted to do was gather my tips, get a few drinks and head home. A few drinks turned into ten and getting home was a bit tougher that I thought. I tossed my heels into my locker, fell into my sneakers, tied what I thought was a passable bow and slapped the back door open, stumbling into the alley. I crawled to my feet as the scenery spun around. I focused on the neon drug store sign as I knew that was the direction I need to take. I stumbled down the walk, feeling good, sure I was looking normal. Sure, I bounced off the wall a few times, and into a gentleman who called me a drunk as he put me back on my feet, but I was doing ok. I went another block and found myself on my knees, my forehead on a fire hydrant. Phew, if I had fallen a second later, that could have hurt! Back on my feet I gripped the smooth window of the diner until I felt the rough brick, then turned right. Only twenty feet more and I would be home. The cement block felt rough under my fingers as I used it to guide my way. Soon I felt the splintered wood frame around my door. Diving into my pocket I fumbled my way through lip gloss, bent lottery tickets and old receipts until I found my keys. It took a few tries, but I got that sucker in the slot and the lock clicked open. I clung to the wall as I made my way up the stairs. I remember trying to put the key in the upstairs lock, but I must have failed.
A ray of morning sun, creeping through a badly cracked window cruelly pried my eyes open. I wiped the spit drying at the corner of my mouth and rolled to my side, realizing that I was on the filthy tile outside my apartment door. Rolling on my back I started to rise, stopping when I saw the flash of red. Sitting up I moved back to rest on the door as I inspected the envelope. I tore it open just as carefully as i had the first time. It was a card, with an elderly woman with long arms embracing her family. Inside it said, “Happy Birthday! You are loved today and always.” It was simply signed “your family,”
Pulling out my phone, I checked the calendar, it was indeed my birthday. Grandma had reached out again. Putting the card in  her pocket she entered the apartment, packed her meager belongings and bought a bus ticket home.
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It was by far the oddest setting she had ever experienced.  The room was full of Democrats and Republicans, energetic, idealistic youth, middle-aged mortgage holders with job woes and the calmer, slower elderly battling arthritis and other ailments. It was not her definition of an ideal party.

She watched from  her corner perch. People flowed through the kitchen, dropping off dishes full of treats as they exchanged hugs. Wine and conversation flourished. Music exploded from a nearby speaker as young cousins ran hand in hand. Doctors, Lawyers and Judges clinked glasses with waitresses, mechanics and store clerks. Drinks flowed, food disappeared and laughter grew. One by one the group migrated to the festive living room.

It was here people handed each other brightly wrapped packages. It was here they related stories of their past. It was here they passed out more hugs than gifts. It was here she realized that she was going to like the family she married into. It was here she discovered the values that shaped the man she loved. It was here that she realized she loved her new family.  It was here that her husband pulled her into the group for a hug. It was here that she realized the perfect gift didn’t have to come from a store. It was the ideal party.

I vividly remember a Saturday afternoon, the summer of nineteen-sixty eight. A summer I was camping with my parents. I had done something wrong, I don’t remember what, but it was enough for my usually lenient mother to send me to the trailer, and bed as punishment. After what seemed like hours, my father came to talk to me. Feeling abused and unjustly treated, I wanted to tell my side of the story to my father. I also decided to include a new phrase I had  heard around the lake in my talk. When he told me how upset my mother was, I sat up and spouted my newly learned phrase.

“Well, she didn’t need to shit a brick over it!”  I did it! I pulled out an adult phrase showing my displeasure over their actions! I felt proud and strong. Then the hammer dropped, the room fell silent, my fathers face turned to stone. I shriveled in my skin, I had done something really bad! I spent the rest of the weekend in the trailer while my friends swam.

Years later, in the fun times known as the ’70’s, I sat in my usual place at the table during a family dinner. Feeling hip and grown up, I said, “pass the potatoes dude,” to my father. Things changed so fast I could hear the tinkle of ice as it shrouded the room. Dad slammed his fork on the table and mom fixed me in her stare. I was excused from the table and learned that I could call people dude at school and play, but NOT at home. I began to see the social rules, the morals and norms that kept families together. The values that helped us navigate the world.

Then came the children of our generation. We had already tested the water,  using lingo unique to our generation. Many of these new parents didn’t want to be “un-cool.” They let their kids be kids, speak anyway they wanted, with few boundaries. They continued to evolve, using new words and giving less respect to their parents and family. This has evolved into;

Suck it
This sucks
What ev
Meh
omg
Hate

We need to teach our kids  how to speak, with respect to themselves and others. We have to stop being “cool” and be parents. I don’t want my kid uttering the word “sucks” all day. I don’t want a “what ev” when I ask t hem to empty the trash. I want them to be able to converse, spell and build healthy adult relationships. It is up to us to give them the tools and discipline. We owe it to them to teach them how to speak, listen, learn, show respect, command respect and act. We can’t sit back and let their teenage, online communication form their adulthood. We need to have as much, if not more, input in their lives as social media.

The stress gripping her heart pulsated and swelled, leaving her lips numb, her vision blurred and her hands shaking. One more problem could very well explode her brain. She remembered her grandpa’s saying, “some days you are the dog, and others, you are the fire hydrant,” but he never told her what to do when you were being pissed on for an entire month!

What else could go wrong? Her computer died, her truck had no brakes, her stereo speakers quit working, her kid needed sixty dollars for a school fee, the electric company threatened to turn off the power if they didn’t get money, her doctor left the country, leaving her without medication and her car insurance  had been canceled. Hell, even her can opener had fallen apart. On top of that she was slated to cook Thanksgiving dinner for her family.Not a problem unless your oven stopped working and you can’t afford to fix it!

There was nowhere left to turn. Money wasn’t going to fall in her lap. She couldn’t fix appliances or vehicles with magic. Her kids couldn’t get what they needed as long as she was running the show. She was deep in thought, on various ways to check out and end it when the phone rang. The schools message stiffened her spine and forced her out the door. The school had been evacuated, there was an active threat in the building. Insurance be damned, she drove to the school and paced around the building, mingling with tear-stained parents hoping for a glimpse of their child. Hours passed as she  held her stomach and made small talk.

When her kids finally walked out of the building, she realized that all she needed was them, and they her. They rest would take care of itself.

 

Crawling into bed, she pulled the covers tight and gazed out at the full moon that hung in the sky like a piece of frozen blue ice. The trees lining the walk were bare, but their icy branches sparkled and danced in the light as if they had been draped in diamonds. Tucking the blankets under her feet she poured a glass of wine, opened her book and sighed in comfort as the wind gently rattled the windows. She was in the middle of chapter four when the noise came. Soft at first, than loud and insistent. From a gentle knock on the door to a ruckus that threatened to tear door from frame! Then a moment of silence before it began again.

Rolling to her side she opened her night stand, secured her gun and sprung to her feet. She shivered from the cold, hesitating at the bedroom door as she struggled over the urge to hide or confront, especially after last time.  Her mind returned to the past, the knocks, the screams, the gun going off in her hand. She had felt she was in danger, surely anyone could see that. Anyone finding someone yelling and beating in their door at one o’clock in the morning would feel threatened. She had opened the door, he made a move into the hall, his face shrouded by a hood and her hand reacted, the gun went off. The police came, the coroner removed the body, reporters plastered grainy pictures of her terrified face.

She was acquitted, how was she to know he hadn’t come to harm her? How was she to know he was a seventeen year old boy who’s car would die, leaving him on the streets and late for curfew? How was she to know a gang of thugs had chased him for his new shoes? How was she to know he saw her outside light and ran to her for help?

How was she to know he would return night after night to haunt her? How was she to know she would never find peace or redemption from her prejudice? Opening the door, she descended the stairs to face the hell she was to endure for eternity.

Join the Friday Fictioneers, a wonderful group of writers who submit a 100 word story or poem based on a weekly photo. This is flash fiction at it’s finest. You can read submissions or add your work HERE.  Comments welcome, as long as they are respectful and helpful, not hateful.

Congrats Madison! Marriage is cool with the right person!

Category: Fiction//Drama

Words: 84

Rating: PG

the_second_hand_shop-1
Marriage  was death, a stance she had clung to for years. Then came Jim. The last four years had been fun, comfortable and full of love, thanks to him. He had proposed seven times, but this time was different. Something in his eyes seemed to say “we either take this step, or we’re through.”

Realizing she couldn’t live without him, she said yes. That was yesterday, this morning, she took a deep breath and entered the shop, hoping to find a gown. Realizing she was opening more than one door.

Submit a story or poem, inspired by a weekly photo in this fun, flash fiction group. You can read submissions or add your work HERE.  Comments welcome, as long as they are respectful and helpful, not hateful.

Category: Fiction//Drama

Words: Not sure

Rating: PG

the-boat-and-miss-liberty

She soared the highest heights as sea air kissed her lips. Her weightless limbs rode the currents as she gazed at the world below. She swooped and swirled, amazed and afraid. How could this be? People dove from boats and cast lines as she floated overhead. The last thing she remembered was unfolding a deck chair as her hubby baited his hook. She jumped as a voice filled the air.
“Bonnie, it’s time,” it commanded.
She moved toward the light, feeling the tug of the world on her legs.