Mackenzie Walters stood in the center of the large ballroom, soaking in the rays streaming in from the windows that made up the better part of three walls. For several minutes, she stood, transfixed by the lush gardens surrounding the banquet hall. The resort had touted itself as an oasis in the desert and she had to agree – nowhere else in Phoenix could she be transported to the tropics. She almost forgot it hadn’t rained in fifty-three days.
“Are you okay, Mackie?”
She glanced over her shoulder and saw her best friend, Heather, lingering in the doorway. She shrugged. “Yeah, I think so.” She turned to a nearby table and tugged at one of the white napkins to give it a taller peak. A flicker of memory made her smile; something her mom would say about busy hands and idle minds.
“I’m not so sure.”
“I appreciate your concern, but this is exactly what I want to do.”
“I think you’re in shock,” Heather said. “I mean, your parents died only four weeks ago and immediately you started planning this extravaganza.” She made a sweeping motion with her left arm.
Mackenzie nodded. “Yeah, there wasn’t much time to pull it together, but I think the place looks nice.”
“It should, for what you’re paying for it.”
She closed her eyes and inhaled. “Do you smell that?” She didn’t wait for an answer. “It’s chicken piccata, pasta and fresh green beans, but it might as well be filet mignon and caviar.” She nudged a glass to line it up with the knife at another place setting. “It’s not about the money, it’s about the experience.”
I’d say the most unexpected part of marriage was holidays with my husband’s family. After seventeen years, I can still see stark differences. Sometimes the differences are frustrating and aggravating, but examined with a sense of humor, they can be amusing.
Of course, I choose to view life through a lens of humor!
My husband’s mother and one of his brothers (along with his youngest two children) stayed with us for several days. Our Thanksgiving dinner was an eclectic mix of traditional food (my fare) and more ethnic food (compliments of their Greek heritage.)
I am not adventurous in my food, so I didn’t partake of the pastitsio my mother-in-law made. The lamb, noodles, two sticks of butter and aromatic Greek cheeses didn’t appeal to me. My brother-in law made turkey – I was excited for some ‘normal’ food. I didn’t know he would go all Emeril Lagasse on the bird, though. It came out with a strong garlic/citrus taste. My husband said it tasted like the waste from a living organism (well, he didn’t say exactly that, but I’d like to keep this a PG blog.) My assessment was a bit kinder: I ate it. (However, days later, I’m thinking the ice chest the turkey marinated in may never be the same.)
On the flip side, I’m sure my stuffing was bland for their palates. The green beans with onions and bacon were probably a few notches below boring. But they ate it anyway. My pumpkin pie may have been passable smothered in whipped cream, but I still had leftovers.
Despite out differences in taste, we did manage to agree on one thing: we were thankful to be able to spend the holiday together.
Their early departure indicated there is at least one other thing we agree on: four days is enough family time for one visit.
How long is long enough for family to visit? I’d love to know your response!
Inspiration: Death has a way of making me pause and ponder life. I found out Saturday that within the span of a week, a baby was born and died. To me, this is especially sad because I expected the child to have a long life – because many of us do have the opportunity to grow old.
That’s how this poem came about. The phrase “expected life” made me think about my own life and expectations. In this poem, I chastise myself for all the things I don’t do today. It doesn’t often cross my mind that my tomorrows are limited.
I chose the photo because I always pause when I see a cactus growing on a rock. It looks like nothing should be able to grow on rock. But, as I discovered during some recent reading for a story I wrote, the lichen that grow on rocks can indeed provide nutrients for plant life. Interesting, that I have killed a cactus or two in my life. Go figure. They can grow in inhospitable conditions, but they can’t survive my inept care.
This may be my only post this week, as Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the U.S. and in-laws will be at our house. The fiction story I hinted about last week will have to wait another week. Um, that is, if I’m blessed with another week here!
Have a beautiful week, and I hope you embrace today :)
I decided to go ‘short’ for a couple reasons (1) to give your eyes a break (most of my fiction ends up being around 1,000 words) and (2) to practice writing short again. I’m hoping to come up with an entry for a micro-fiction contest but it’s been months since I’ve attempted to write a story in 100 words or less. This one came in at 98 words.
There really wasn’t any inspiration for this, other than this photo I had on hand, taken earlier this year during a hike on the Mogollon Rim (Arizona.) I’d hoped the story would have an end-of-the-world feel at the beginning, the twist being the revelation that it was a game of hide-and-seek.
Whether it worked or not, I don’t know – you tell me! (Really, I would love the feedback :) )
Inspiration: For those who look to this part of the post to explain what on earth I was writing about, I won’t leave you hanging. This poem has dual meaning. It was written to/about a person consumed by drugs. He looks like the person you’ve known all along, but inside, he is gone. His good heart belongs to his addiction. It is also written to/about his parents; the people who have struggled to accept their only child is no longer the boy they raised. How do you come to terms with that? Not very easily. That’s all I know. Sometimes I can’t believe these are the same people I remember fondly from my childhood. They are so different now; so sad and broken.
Unfortunately, this is about my family. Just in time for the holidays, relationships have been severed and only time will tell if they can be repaired. Right now, I’m sort of in the middle and will walk the line as best I can. In the meantime, all I can do is offer prayers for peace, strength and forgiving hearts.
I realize I’ve neglected my fiction here lately. I’ve written a couple of stories I plan to submit for publication, so I can’t post them here, but I do have a couple ideas. I hope to post some fiction soon (either this week or next.)
I’ll sign off with this… if we look closely enough, we can find even the tiniest blessings in times of trouble. I hope you have a beautiful week!