The convenience store sat in the middle of nowhere, halfway between my past and future.
“I need cigarettes,” you’d said.
I asked for Cheetos; the puffy kind, not the crunchy ones.
“I’ll see what I can do.”
The car idled. I felt like I’d drown under the July Arizona sun.
You slid into the seat, shifted the Honda in gear, and tossed snacks and cigarettes at me. Sweat rolled down your sideburns.
“Everything okay, Daddy?”
You checked the rearview mirror but didn’t answer.
Your jawline tensed. Engine revved, dashed white lines blurred. I knew.
I’d follow deep as you go.
This is my response to Lance’s 100 Word Song. It’s pretty much what it sounds like: he provides a song and we write a story in exactly 100 words inspired by that song. This week, the song is Deep As You Go by October Project. (Don’t ask me how I got a father-daughter robbery getaway from that song!)
If it sounds like fun, I hope you’ll consider joining in – click the robot image at left to see Lance’s site and his take on the 100 word song.
Have a great Wednesday, all!
Rebecca Myles stood amongst the dusty contents of a 6×8 storage locker. It had only been four days since her husband of fifty-one years had passed away and the shock still left her numb. Fifty-one years, nine months and four days.
“This doesn’t have to be done so soon,” Dee said, placing a hand on her friend’s shoulder. “The funeral is enough stress for one day.”
Rebecca shook her head. “I didn’t know this space existed until yesterday. I need to find out what Arthur stored here.”
“Are you sure you don’t want me to stay?”
Dee enveloped her friend in hug. “Call if you need me.”
Rebecca surveyed the stacks and reached for a box at eye level. She sat in a plastic patio chair with the box on her lap and lifted the tucked flaps. Medical journals. She smiled at the memory of the pride Arthur carried for his cancer research. Just last month, he felt sure a vaccination was close. Her throat tightened. Before his heart attack. He was a good man- stable and reliable. She refused to fault him for what was missing when he gave her so much.
She slid the journals aside. Off to her left, a glossy white box tied with blue ribbon caught her eye. When she lifted the lid, she thought it strange the box didn’t have a coating of dust like the others. Inside, she found a stack of hand-written letters. Unfolding the first yellowed, brittle page, she noticed the shimmering blue and black butterfly at the top. She scanned the script with vague familiarity, though the writing wasn’t hers or Arthur’s- the letters were a century old.
The poetic proclamation of love caused raw emotions to fester to the surface. Tears dripped from her eyelashes, soaking the linen paper. She rushed to wipe the wetness away, smearing the ink into a black smudge. She gasped. “No! Oh, no… it’s ruined!”
The hairs on her arms raised, as if charged by an electrical current. Rebecca moved to smooth them down and the paper slipped from her arthritic fingers, drifting to the ground on an unseen breeze. Her eyes widened as the butterfly’s wings lifted from the page. In stunned silence, she watched as it flitted toward her and landed on her shoulder. A ripple of fear rushed through her, followed by a serenity like none she’d felt before.
Warm fingers brushed the side of her cheek. Rebecca’s eyelids lifted, breath momentarily suspended when she caught sight of the handsome dark-haired man beside her. She looked up and saw a spray of stars across an inky sky rather than the metal storage unit ceiling.
She returned her gaze to him. “Antonio?” Confusion clouded Rebecca’s senses. She ran her palms along the back of her arms to ease the chill, shocked that her fingers weren’t bent and arthritic and her age-spotted papery skin had transformed into a soft, youthful glow. “What’s going on?”
“I’ve spent the last hundred years figuring out how to change our course.”
Rebecca sat up. “What?”
“Caroline, from the moment you wed Joseph, I’ve searched for a way to get our time back.”
“I-I don’t understand. I married Arthur.”
“In your last life, my love. Arthur was Joseph a century ago.”
“I don’t believe in reincarnation.”
Antonio sighed. “Or time travel?”
“I don’t know anymore.” She took in their surroundings. It felt like a different era. She glanced at her hands, absent of raised blue veins, and couldn’t find another explanation.
“Your tears brought you here. If my letter no longer stirred emotion, I would’ve let you be.”
Brows furrowed, she searched his face. “Were you Leonard?”
He smiled. “It killed me to step away again, but this is the moment I’d waited for.” He cupped her face in his hands. “Our second chance.”
Her cheeks warmed when he grasped her hands and pulled her into him. The electricity she’d felt when the butterfly neared her before returned. It beckoned her to choose passion over practicality.
“You’re to wed Joseph tomorrow, Caroline. Marry me tonight.”
She searched Antonio’s eyes for truth. She’d sometimes wondered where alternate paths would’ve led, and in that moment, she couldn’t help but think the rightness eclipsed every mistake made along the way.
This is my response to the Speakeasy weekly challenge which is to write a response in less than 750 words (mine is 712) and (1) use “The rightness eclipsed every mistake made along the way.” as the final sentence, and (2) make some kind of reference to the media prompt (a trailer to Love in the Time of Cholera.)
The challenge is open to anyone, so click on the badge above to view Speakeasy’s site with the complete guideline information.
I want to make a
I want to
To thrive, my soul seeks
to be heard.
I need to
Mostly, I am fighting because
I know no other way.
This is my 42-word Gargleblaster challenge, which was to answer the following question: “Tell me something, old friend: why are you fighting?” (from Gabriel García Márquez in One Hundred Years of Solitude.) The challenge is open to everyone, but you have to link fast. The linking grid opens up at Midnight and is open for 24 hours, or until 42 responses are submitted (whichever comes first.)
This week, my inspiration came from a couple places: I started thinking like cat after watching a few episodes of My Cat From Hell (Jackson Galaxy is great!) but then, my thoughts turned to The Diary of Anne Frank, which I watched last night. Despite what my heart wanted, I knew the tragic ending, but I went on the journey anyway. Sometimes humanity makes me so sad.
My knee-jerk reaction when the kids tell me about something they’re planning is, “Oh, no. It’s going to be messy. NO!”
You see, their messy nature conflicts with my craving for some order. My older son’s gym shorts have been in the middle of our living room floor since Monday. I refuse to pick them up; he’s managed to “forget” to toss them in the dirty clothes hamper all four times I’ve asked. My younger son’s shoes are often just shy of making it into the shoe cubbies I bought to keep shoes out of the middle of the floor. As an added bonus, there’s usually a pile of sand from the school playground wherever his shoes landed when he took them off. (I’m half-expecting a bill from the school so they can order another truckload of sand before the next school year begins.)
The last thing I want is to invite more messes, but what I’m starting to figure out (after eleven years) is that, while certainly messy, their grand ideas often come with a lesson.
For instance, they insisted on selling citrus fruit from my parents’ yard, lemonade, and beaded jewelry that they made. I told them people wouldn’t buy the stuff, but they couldn’t be deterred. They made $24 and couldn’t wait to plan their next sale. A couple weeks ago, a neighbor offered them a partnership of sorts: they sell extra veggies from her garden for a portion of the proceeds. (I’ll let you know in a few years if I’m raising little entrepreneurs or slick con artists :) )
The lesson: I learned that I was wrong (again) and they learned that with the right attitude, you can sell just about anything.
mess idea: have a birthday party for their cats’ fifth birthday. I didn’t say yes or no for several days, hoping it would pass (fat chance.) The day before the kitties’ big day, I drove my sons to the store. With their money, they bought the cake/brownie mixes they wanted. They put out a snack buffet while I made the goodies. They sat the cats in chairs and held them against their will while we sang happy birthday (and yes, they called me out when my lips were moving but they couldn’t hear my voice.)
The lesson: They experienced the joy of doing something nice for others (even if they’re “just cats,” as my husband would say) and I learned that I need to focus more on these little moments. I have a vague awareness of our pets’ birthdays, and the fact they are a little grayer and little older.
I need to embrace the mess; I need to celebrate more.
(And I’ll start by enjoying my day off work on Friday while the kids are at school :razz: )
This weekend, I’m celebrating Easter… what are YOU celebrating?
Winter seemed reluctant to release its hold.
Shortened days chased by frigid nights stacked for months
on end took their toll. The polar vortex, unexpected and swift, consumed me.
The icy barrier layered around my heart- intended protection-
served double-duty as an impenetrable prison.
Rippling streams of affection had long ago
been solidified into distorted memories. I became unsure if the
flutter of newly-planted love was borrowed or owned. I questioned whether I
had been capable of thriving once, or whether an umbilical
noose had ensnared me from the beginning.
If I poured my concentration into it, I could
have spotted a break in the clouds; a pinpoint of light. Promise.
Future. Hope. If I tried, I could’ve engaged in a leap of faith; grasped the thread;
dared the sun to thaw me. Or, I could’ve watched my chance lead
to my demise, as I unraveled at the seams.
Trapped beneath the permafrost of indecision,
I remained rigid in a self-imposed perpetual winter. I could’ve
focused on the light but instead, I closed my eyes. Cocooned in my loneliness,
I tucked in the fetal position, head rested upon my knees, set to
face fate; indifferent toward death or re-birth.
This is my response to the Speakeasy weekly writing prompt which asks us to write a piece in 750 words or less (mine is 199) (1) using “Winter seemed reluctant to release its hold.” as the first sentence, and (2) make some kind of reference to the media prompt: a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, who also celebrated his birthday in April, entitled Study of a Womb.
The challenge is open to anyone, so if you want to join in, click the badge to the left to check out the challenge details!
I see her whenever I wear Keds, eat Hawaiian pizza, or glimpse the half-heart charm in my jewelry box with the worn letters:
I wonder if she kept the other half.
“No,” I answer. “I haven’t seen Mary in years.”
While my response is fiction, I am sometimes reminded of friends no longer part of my life. I know some friendships are just for a season, but they do cross my mind once in a while. I also owned a “Best Friends” necklace, but it was gold. I think it’s an ‘eighties’ thing :)
This challenge is open to anyone, but you have to think (and link) fast – the challenge closes once there are 42 responses linked. Click here to post your own link!
Camouflaged in rings,
Aged Sinaguan secrets live.
Several weeks ago, we visited Montezuma Well. From the natural spring, to the vacant Sinagua cliff dwellings, to the Arizona sycamores, I found so much to take in. (My blog header this month depicts some of the cliff dwellings.) That visit inspired the haiku above.
We learned that Arizona sycamores grow where there are constant water sources. This is probably why I don’t recall seeing them desert climate of Phoenix during the twenty-five years I lived there. Several of these huge trees grew along a stream near the well. I believe I saw on a sign that the Arizona sycamores are also known as ‘Arizona giants.’ In the photo above, my eight-year-old posed near one of them. (Even though I call him my little monkey, he doesn’t really have a monkey’s face. It’s an edit prompted by my paranoia about my kids’ photos on the internet.)
I found the design of the tree bark fascinating as well. The photo below shows a close up of the bark. I’d love to know the stories of the past concealed behind the camouflage!
I may write more about Montezuma Well in a future post. Have a beautiful Wednesday!