Divide And Conquer

11-10 Sedona

Divide and conquer… originally, used to describe a military technique that maintains control by dividing the masses. If they don’t band together, they are easier to manage. They don’t get together and rally against the ruler.

In my life, divide and conquer has come to mean dividing our resources so our to-do list doesn’t control us. Most recently, this thought came to mind when I over-booked our calendar. On the same day, we now have a Boy Scout camp out and putting up Christmas decorations at church. We also had a conflict with my older son’s band activities and our younger son’s doctor’s appointment. Divide and conquer.

I got to thinking – while our ‘to-do’ list is whimpering from our efforts, dividing our resources to manage it could have the opposite effect by bringing us to our knees.  The more things we don’t do as a family, the more memories we miss making as a family. Years from now, it means fewer things we can talk about that we all remember- because we experienced them together. Divide and conquer needs to be our last resort, not our go-to strategy.

This time of year feels like life has been put on “fast forward.” I guess my thoughts needed to go down this path as a reminder that less is more. Even as I write this, I feel a little guilty because I’ve declined to be a leader in Cub Scouts this year. Not because I don’t think it’s valuable, but because I have so little time- and I feel like I’ve over-spent it.

Unlike money, I can’t make more time.

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I appreciate you reading my random thoughts on life. I hope you have a peaceful Monday!

Autumn Metaphor

10-27 Leaves

In my head, dreams float in brilliant color.  For blessed moments, I forget

the grey expanse tinted by amber lies. As gravity pulls, I come to

 realize… through the haze, the golds and reds have begun

to slowly curl and die; I see what’s been hidden right

before my eyes. Reality gets thicker; harder

to swallow with the passing of time.

Toughened skin, stiffened

muscles hinder the

turning of my

cheek;

still, I

manage

to bend,

though

I am weak.

Indecision prevails-

of what to do, there is no Absolut.

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It’s kind of been my thing lately to share the inspiration behind my fiction and the meaning behind my poetry. I’m not sure where to begin with this one. Really.

Deep breath. Exhale. This one is partially in code- my inner thoughts intertwined with metaphors that make me feel like my soul isn’t splayed out on the screen. I hate what this is about, but I’m going to break it down anyway. Here goes…

I lose myself in my ideas- my fiction. For a time, when I’m writing short stories, (and working on my novel) I am distracted from things that bother me. The reference to “grey” is me stumbling over things that aren’t black and white- the things that aren’t all good, or all bad.

The “amber lies” refers to a beer bottle I found poking through a trash bag when I dumped some leaves I’d cleaned up into the bin. This bothered me because my husband knows I don’t like him drinking. When drinking, he acts like an idiot (last month, he was removed from a public place for such behavior.) So, it hurt to find that he’s drinking- just not when I’m around.

On the surface, the golds and reds dying refers to the autumn leaves – like those on my maple tree in the photo. What it really means is sometimes I wonder if this is a season; if my life will blossom again, like nature does in the spring.  The next lines refer to the passing of time and the effects of age; specifically being weary from all the years of trying to save him from himself and his heredity.

The ending is me, settled in with my familiar indecision on what to do next. Do I confront him? Pretend I didn’t see it? Do I bother getting angry or just let it go? These questions are all rhetorical in my mind. If things were bad all the time, the decision would be easy. It’s the grey that makes me stay.

The reference to Absolut is a literal play on words.  I found vodka and poured it out… there is no Absolut 🙂

Oh, and the shape of the poem (supposed to be a martini glass) came last.  I like irony.

I hope the poem makes more sense after reading the background behind it. Writing/reading about ‘heavy’ stuff can be awkward and you may shy away from leaving a comment because you don’t know what to write. Let me help – be fun. Be humorous – I love to laugh and won’t be offended by it all.  And I like comments… a lot 🙂

Have a beautiful Monday!

Bad Choices (Fiction)

09-29 Eldon Pueblo1

Most days, I can find the happiness tucked behind the prominent list of things that serve the sole purpose of bringing me down. Most days, my prayers for internal rest are at least partially answered. Most days, I can believe with the greater portion of my heart that tomorrow will be better.

But this isn’t most days.

Today, the muck of life seems to have suctioned onto my wading boots. It’s as if I try to fight it, I’ll wind up flat on my face, completely submerged. So I do nothing.

Well, not exactly “nothing.” The fuse of my resentment is burning fast. It turns out that stewing about what I can’t change is like blowing on a fire. Eventually, the pressure will release and I worry about what my world will look like after that happens.

He groans and rolls over, nearly falling off the couch.

I place the crinkled receipt between the pages and close my book. I walk over to the wall of windows and open all of the blinds.

He buries his face between the cushions and mumbles something unintelligible.

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The Morrow House (Unprompted Fiction)

This photo has nothing to do with the story, except that to me, rays of sun streaming through clouds IS "Hope"
This photo has nothing to do with the story, except that to me, rays of sun streaming through clouds IS “Hope”…and hope is a theme of this story.

Ashley stared at the red numbers projected onto her wall by her bedside alarm clock:  11:58.  For two nights now, the phone rang at precisely 12:15.  Each time she answered, there had been a pause and then the connection broke. Intrigued by the timing (not many people call after midnight) and the origin of the call (The Morrow House, an assisted living facility) she anticipated the shrill staccato that would disturb the gentle snoring of her beagle, Elvis.

As if sensing the internal restlessness of his motionless companion, Elvis, curled at her feet, raised his head and gave her a tilted head glance.

“Come here, boy,” she whispered.  That was enough to convince him to bathe her face in slobbery kisses before collapsing in her arms; his exposed underside the not-so-subtle invitation to rub his belly.  She didn’t know the precise moment when she became lonely enough to look forward to a late-night hang up call, but she suspected it may have been when the door clicked behind Brent as he carried the last of his belongings to his Chevy Blazer. The thought had crossed her mind to beg him to stay, but as much as she wanted to, she could sense he wanted to leave more.  So she let him go.

Six years together disappeared in two carloads.  For the first few months, Ashley expected him to come back, realizing the error in his choice.  Now, going on the fifth month, with divorce papers on her nightstand waiting on her signature, she’d learned that setting one free with the notion he’d return was just foolish hope harbored by the naiveté of a romantic heart.

She’d never make that mistake again.

The sharp ring of the phone cut through the silence, startling Ashley.  Elvis barely raised his head.

“Hello?”

“I know you’re there.  Please talk to me.”  She detected two shallow, raspy breaths that made her question her sanity.  I’m asking for trouble.

“Edith.  Is that you?”  A man asked.

Ashley let out a surprised gasp.  “My middle name is Edith.”  She rarely admitted it because, although she was named after her great-grandmother, she found it too old-fashioned.  “Who is this?”

“David.  They won’t let me come home to you.  They say this is home now.”

She remembered driving by The Morrow House and from the outside, it looked like a warm, well-kept building.

“Do they take good care of you?”

He sighed.  “I suppose.”  He dropped his voice to a whisper.  “But no one took care of the Colonel like you did.”

“What is your favorite meal?”

“Always turkey dumplings.”

“Oh, I love to make those.  Most people use chicken, but turkey adds more flavor.”  Without expecting it, she blurted another question.  “What about dessert?”

“I don’t get sweets much but if I could sneak another bite of lemon meringue pie…”  He paused.  “Someone’s coming.”

Before she could answer, the call disconnected.  In an instant she knew what she’d do.  She had recipes for turkey dumplings and lemon meringue pie, passed down in her family for generations.  “We’re going to give David a taste of home,” she said.

Elvis wasn’t impressed. Drool pooled under his loose lips and his eyes twitched beneath closed lids.

She rolled onto her side ran her fingers down his back.  It wouldn’t be long before his steady snore would lull her to sleep.

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Writing a Future – Speakeasy #167

To milk or not to milk... that is the question...
To milk or not to milk… that is the question…

Dorothy skipped into the barn. “Lookie, here!  A looooove note from Samuel Stivens,” she taunted in a sing-song voice. She made kissing noises and then clasped the letter to her chest.

Caroline dusted off her skirt and ran toward her little sister. “Give it to me!” Her left boot knocked over the milk pail.

Both girls gasped.

Caroline stooped to right the bucket. “Mom’s going to be mad. Sophie’s dry and we won’t have milk for dinner.”

Dorothy scrunched her eight-year-old face. “Maybe it’s ‘cause yer tryin’ to milk a bull. Can’t you see the horns?” She giggled. “Or the…” she pointed to the underside of the animal. “Yer lucky you didn’t get knocked silly!”

Blushing, she ripped the letter from Dorothy’s hand. She plopped onto a bale of hay and took a deep breath before slipping her finger under the envelope flap. Sam left for the city two-and-a-half months ago to find work because after three seasons of drought, the ground supported death more than life. Caroline prayed this would be the letter where he sent for her.

Dearest Caroline,

I found a job at the docks. For twelve hours a day, I stack grain. The meager pay barely covers my expenses. It’s not nearly enough to support a family, so I have to withdraw my proposal until such time as I am able to afford to properly care for you.

I hope you will wait for me, but I understand if you cannot do so.

Sincerely,

Samuel

Caroline felt the blood drain from her face. At age nineteen and seven months, her parents pressured her to marry. Mostly because they couldn’t afford another mouth to feed, but she knew the gossip about her marriageability bothered them as well.

“Whatsa matter?” Dorothy patted her shoulder. “You look like you seen a ghost.”

“You wouldn’t understand, Dot.” Caroline sighed. “Sometimes when you’re grown up you have to do things you don’t want to do.”

Dorothy wrinkled her nose. “Then I don’t wanna grow up.”

Caroline smiled. “Neither do I, kid. Neither do I.”

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

Dressed in her nightshirt and sleeping cap, Caroline sat at her wooden desk, inked quill poised over paper. Just as she imagined, her father insisted she marry Bart Folsom. His family owned the town mercantile, which her father found stable and honorable. He turned a blind eye to the rumors of Bart’s carousing and dalliances with prostitutes in the shadowed alleys beyond Main Street.

Her protests ignored, Caroline had to accept that she would be wed the next month. At the mere thought of him touching her, acid backed up into her throat. She forced it down.

Dearest Samuel,

I’m saddened that your work is unfulfilling and that you are unable to keep your promise. I had hoped that you would find faith to believe love would see us through you would find prosperity.

She crumpled the paper and shoved it off the desk. She felt trapped by the limitations of her words. A part of her wanted so much to condemn him; as if his guilty emotional imprisonment would grant her freedom from her own atrocious future. However, in her heart, she didn’t want the responsibility of forcing him to bear the burden of her circumstances, so she decided to project the illusion of happiness instead.

Dearest Samuel,

I’m saddened that your work is unfulfilling, but I believe, in time, innumerous blessings will be bestowed upon you. The good Lord gives us tribulations so that we may appreciate our times of peace.

You should know that I am to wed Bartholomew Folsom at the end of next month. Although I gave my heart to you, I will dedicate what remains to my new husband.

I wish you the best.

Sincerely,

Caroline

She folded the paper in thirds and slipped it into an envelope. After extinguishing the lamp, she crawled into bed and pulled the covers to her chin. In the morning, she would take it to the post office. She hoped her letter would free him to pursue a new future.

Loneliness and dread gnawed at her insides.  Caroline knew she had no choice but to accept a life without her Samuel.  She figured in time, she might be blessed with some shade of happiness.  She prayed the same for Sam.

But Sam was never the same again.

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This is my response to the Speakeasy weekly writing prompt, which is to write a piece in 750 words or less (mine is 734) and (1) use “But Sam was never the same again.” as the last sentence; and (2) make some sort of reference to the video prompt, a short film, entitled Writer’s Block, by Tom Gran and Martin Woolley.

The letter with the strike-through lines and the paragraph following it are my references to the video prompt.

Note:  I amended the last few sentences after original posting (but before linking to Speakeasy grid.)  I think it flows better now.  Also, for fun, I wrote a continuation, from Samuel’s POV.  It’s not part of the challenge, but if you’re interested in reading it, click here!

The challenge is open to everyone, so click the badge below if you’re curious to find out more!

P.S.  I have been away from the computer for the last few days, so I’m a bit behind on reading and commenting.  If you’ve visited here lately and I’ve not responded, please bear with me as I catch up 🙂