There were conversations in the grocery store, or at the bus stop, no one but Brenda could hear. Floorboards squeaked when she was the only one in the house. Brenda's upstairs bedroom could feel like a meat locker in the middle of August. There were just no good reasons for any of the things Brenda regularly heard and felt. Or saw, for that matter. Mornings would be sad, dull affairs if her friendly helping hand didn't toast the bread and brew the coffee. Having someone, or a partial someone, make breakfast for her freed up Brenda's time so she could work on her memoir. She remembered waking up in the hospital, strapped to the bed and sweaty. A gentle voice near Brenda's ear said she'd be o.k. A helping hand wiped away her tears. Monitors beeped and blinked. Brenda didn't know where to go from there and stared at the blank page. She was grateful for the steaming mug handed to her as she searched for the right words.
The Big Box Mega Retailer around the corner tells me it's time for flocked trees and frosted windowpanes. I say: "Give me my slice of pumpkin pie and a cranberry cosmopolitan first!" The only place I want to see frost right now, on an 80 degree F/27 C October Tuesday, is on a mug of sarsaparilla. The holiday frenzy has commenced.
The undeveloped parcel across the highway was a spooky place for us kids. The trees, cedars and hemlocks mostly, sighed and groaned a lot. They disapproved of everything we did, from our bike rides through their territory to the cone wars where we aimed for each other's head. Sometimes we'd find things, like a single red mitten, a busted transistor radio, or a sterno can in our creepy playground. We'd make up stories about a one-armed drifter living in our neighborhood, going through our garbage for useful stuff like shoelaces or HO HOS®. We found a bag of marbles once. They were every hue from yellow to blue, and we fought a protracted cone war over who'd take home that glorious bounty. That was the time the trees decided to speak, rather than make with their usual whispers and moans.
Cry. Die. Time to fly. Ahhhh. Ooohhh. Fly. Cry. Time to die. Ooohhh. Ahhhh.
The marbles lay scattered in that dark, dank woodland until one day, years later, our fears were chopped down to make way for a strip mall.
Sam's arms ached as she swam toward the rocky shore. She'd been out to sea for so long she forgot there was a whole other world, sharp and hardened, that had to be dealt with from time to time. That time had come back around. Seven years felt like a walk around the block. Sam would have to learn all over again how to use her legs in that way once she crawled onto the beach. A flash of long lost memory reminded Sam how she hated the feel of tile against her skin, standing in an open room under an icy jet of chlorinated water. And the cloth the sisters made her wear was coarse and heavy. But this was the trade-off for absolute freedom every seven years. Sam's shift from sprite to obedient servant kept her family safe from the gatekeeper's vengeance. She broke the rules and learned to swim, and fly, and dance among the stars. Such knowledge came with a price, and Sam would pay the penalty over and over again by being ripped from heaven as soon as she got used to it.
Holding out for something a grade or two above middling. Now those are aspirations to keep you up at night! How can you be sure opportunity did not come knocking when you were flat on your back counting logs and sawing sheep?
My point exactly. Enough is enough until you cross the finish line. Success is a rainbow, you know. There are many shades of competency.
A busted romance.
A fluke. A flavor.
We all fall out of favor.
Are we waiting for the right time to realize so little of it remains? Best to miss out on everything and hide all reminders of the opposite.
So began Cheryl Jessup's latest project. She read the sentence a couple of times, then paused as she flexed her fingers above the keyboard. Cheryl planned to alter a few details so her book would read like a work of fiction rather than the harrowing memoir she intended it to be. Cheryl shivered as she took a sip of brandy. She never liked Ms. Vincent, even though she was Buddy's favorite teacher. There was something about the way she smelled. For such a young, pretty, well-groomed woman, Cheryl always smelled peat and wood smoke coming off of Ms. Vincent's skin. Maybe the light had caught Ms. Vincent at the right angle so it just looked like bits of straw were tucked in the strands of her light brown hair. And maybe Ms. Vincent always had mishaps with the Elmer's. What other explanation was there for her sticky handshakes? Cheryl had one hell of a story to tell. Names definitely needed to be changed to protect the innocent which, in all of Townsend Cove, included two people: the writer and her son, Buddy.
Rolled up like a cigar in the sweet, damp grass or stretched across the attic rafters, there's no waking up from this crazy dream. Everyone is upside down, gasping, groaning. All guts and no grace. Lessons catch in my throat and never make their way into my marrow. All is lost. All is forgotten. The ground is littered with false hope and afterthoughts.
Another ball rolls out into traffic.