Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hitting the Home Stretch

I feel like I have been in limbo lately, constantly working with little down time. I am well aware that today is December 13, but I feel stuck back in November. Today a few things were cleared from my very full plate and breathing is a bit easier. Only a bit, though.

While I still have ALL of my Christmas shopping to accomplish in the next 11 days, I did manage to get my New Year cards ordered from Shutterfly this afternoon. Last year, I switched gears and decided to start a new tradition by sending New Year greetings. Normally, I do stuff like this to purposely be different. However, I simply failed to manage my time adequately enough to get the cards out on time. Time management is a problem I continue to struggle with, a reoccurring theme throughout 2012. In fact, this year I was certain I was going to miss my new year deadline and have to start sending out MLK Jr. cards.

One important holiday task is now checked off my Christmas to-do list. Time to hit the home stretch hard, find some Christmas spirit and get the rest of those tasks done. Just 11 days. Breathe!

Anyone out there feeling pressured and overwhelmed this holiday season?


Stationery card
View the entire collection of cards.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Refocusing


My husband is in the beginnings of an entrepreneurial journey. After losing his job, nearly 3 weeks ago, he has decided to pursue a passion that he has never been able to fully realize. He started a blog and I have been encouraging him, gently nudging him; okay fine, I will call it what it is: I have been lecturing him on the necessity of updating his blog everyday. Then it hit me today, when I was doing laundry because there is never a better time for self-examination, that I am a hypocrite.

Ever since my husband lost his job, I have been in the trenches, buckling down and doing nothing but working hard to earn an extra dollar. Why? We are not destitute. We are the lucky ones who have some savings to help us manage as my husband begins his business. I think I decided to use this life change as a time to ignore and procrastinate. I have spent to much time ignoring this blog. I have forsaken my own creativity. It is time to refocus. Time to start taking my own advice and engaging in my blog and my life a little more.

So, today the family and I spent time wandering around a neighborhood park. I indulged in the crisp autumn air, focused my energies on creativity and family. The picture at the beginning of this post, I took this afternoon. A simple farmhouse, yet it felt so good to discover something to fuel my creativity. Take a look at this picture.



Just an outhouse, but you never know what you might find that lifts the spirits. How do you refocus when life begins to drag you down, when you get stuck in the mud of surviving?


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ready to Read

Well, again, it is past 10:30, my eyes feel heavy and I am tempted to simply let sleep take me off to dreamland. But. . . I am resisting because I am so excited to start this new book by Liz Jensen.



This book is set to be available in January 2013, but I was lucky enough to get an advance copy to read and review. Stay tuned for my review coming to you soon!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Chilly Morning Run

This morning I ran in my first race since the end of August. It felt great to be back competing again. The past few months my training has been sporadic and I cannot determine exactly why I have been slacking. This race was supposed to be a goal setting race. I wanted to place in my age category, but all it takes is lack of motivation when training to derail simple goals.


I received a medal anyway. And, quite honestly, I didn't blow it royally. I finished my 5K in chilly temperatures with 3 layers on in 30:48. Not my best time, but only 2:48 away from my goal. The brutal part is I torture myself by looking at the times that other women in my age group placed and if I had finished on goal pace I would have placed 3rd instead of 20th. Ridiculous how a couple walk breaks and a few minutes can change the race.

Did anyone else run in a 5K this weekend? How was your experience?


Friday, September 21, 2012

Ode to the Purse

Wow! It has been months since I have had time to sit in front of my computer screen for a little blogging time. With all these months away you might think I have something monumental to write to you today and you would be . . . WRONG!

I am calling this post "Ode to the Purse." Why? Well, tomorrow is the official start of fall which means it is time to change out the purse.



First, I must say thank you and farewell to my trusty and reliable Kate Spade tote. You served me well this summer at dusty ballparks, picnics and amusement parks. You made me feel special and one-of-a-kind. You even made me fall in love with vinyl which is something I never thought I would be capable of. Yes, dear summer purse I will miss you, but it is time for Isabella Fiore to make her fall debut!


Here she is! My fall beauty that I proudly wear on my shoulder has been released from her protective cloth bag where she has rested since February. Her words are an inspiration to me all season long. Whenever I feel hopeless or the winter blues set in I read Faith, Love, Hope and feel all warm and snugly again. My husband doesn't get my love affair with this purse. He equally doesn't understand the cost of this bag. Some don't appreciate my bag's elegant, hippie flair. That's okay. All that matters is this purse is mine and I get to enjoy stuffing it full of nonsense for the next few months.

Am I crazy? Am I the only person who goes this crazy over a handbag?



Friday, July 20, 2012

The Journal


The Secret Sits
We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

This is the prompt that I found waiting for me for my Write on Edge challenge this weekend. There were many ways I could go with this prompt, but I decided it was time to address some family secrets in Carly's Story. This is a continuation of Family Dinner, but I wrote the previous excerpt months ago. So, if you go back in time to read that excerpt pardon any confusing transitions. Still a work in progress.

I hope you enjoy my take on this haunting Robert Frost poem. If are new to my writing and leave a comment, please let me know where I can find your writing so I can get to know your story, too.


The journal pages, touched and seen only by its’ author, now lay exposed on the kitchen table. The secret tumbled from the page causing the three of us to sit in silence, each absorbing the truth in our own private way.

“I remember that night.” Ilsa finally spoke. Her words soft, barely escaping her throat. She coughed, forcing the words to come out louder. “I remember that night.”

Greer sneered. “Impossible. You were a child.”

Ilsa ignored Greer. She reached for the journal, held it in her lap, and stroked the words her late sister had written. “We went to bed later than usual that night. Momma had been gone working an overnight shift to have the bakery well-stocked in the morning.”

Greer added, “She pitched a fit about leaving us alone that night. Dad hadn’t come around in days.She was worried he’d come around drunk, out of control.”

“Lena wasn’t home. Where did she go?” Ilsa questioned.

“The movies with a neighbor girl, “ Greer filled in. “She always had that ability to make friends. I was never that lucky.” Greer spoke this sincerely reminding me that she had loved her sister.

Ilsa continued to recount her recollections of that night . “Daddy never did come home, but Lena did. I woke up when the moon was high. Someone was crying.”

Tears started to pool in Ilsa’s eyes. I felt tears stinging my cheeks, too. “It was Lena. Huddled in the corner crying she didn’t look like a young woman, but a child. I remember wanting to ask her what was wrong, because I had never seen her like that. She was always so happy, so strong. No matter what hell we were enduring she was our light. I felt like a coward. I never went to her. I never asked what was wrong. I burrowed down underneath the blanket and went back to bed.”

“The next morning she was her usual self. I almost forgot about what I had awoken to.” Ilsa shut the journal, but kept it in her lap.  “I never knew he raped her.”

Oddly, relief consumed me. Months of keeping my mother’s secret, months of pent up anger would now not be mine alone. Ilsa and Greer would share my sorrow. I knew it was selfish, but I needed them to share this truth with me.

A small, nondescript noise came from behind me. John’s heart had grown weaker as the weeks wore on, he managed to shuffle from his room to the kitchen. The grief exposed on his wrinkled face verified that he had heard the entire conversation. He pointed to the journal and confessed.  “ Hell will soon welcome me and my sins.”

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Taboo


A long week of writing for other people. Now, I have finally found a bit of time to carve out for myself and my own tales. This piece of creative writing is inspired by the Write on Edge community and the Red Writing Hood prompt. 

This week we were encouraged to write about the forbidden, the taboo. I chose to use this prompt to continue writing about my character, Carly. This small excerpt is a continuation from a previous excerpt, Who am I? 

I don't think this piece creatively challenged the concept of taboo, but I have been mulling over this part of my story for so long that I decided I need to get it out of my head. So, I hope you enjoy my interpretation of taboo.

________________________________________________________________________________
Lying in the stillness that the raw hours of night often bring, I focused on keeping my breath even and soft. I was not entirely sure who I was hiding from, but I suspected that I wanted to shroud my former self from the person I had become.

I watched Yves sleep, his smooth, olive chest different from David’s pale Irish complexion. His mannerisms of sleep were different from David’s, too. David would thrash, throw about the covers. He always seemed to be fighting the relaxing calm sleep could bring. Yves lay on his back, lips closed, and his body still; content in the tranquility of sleep.

At that moment, I realized my mistakes. The multitude of mistakes that I had made up until this point did not matter. They were minor, fixable. What had happened in this apartment, this bed, would have no other option, but to change the course of my life. I loathed myself. How despicable could I really be? I lay here in this bed, comparing my husband and this new lover. Everything I had accused David of being, I had become. I was an adulterer.  Not an innocent bystander swept up in blinding love. If only that were the case, then I could plead no contest. But the facts were blatant. I made this choice to alter the course of my life. The wedge that had been building between David and me for so many years had finally become a gorge. This one senseless and selfish act had officially divided us. David didn’t know this yet, but I did. A vast space existed between us now and there was not a bridge in sight to repair the damage.

Vibrations echoed against the nightstand. Out of my left eye I saw David’s name light up the screen, out of my right eye I glanced at Yves to make sure he was still asleep. This new territory left me paralyzed. I didn’t know what to do. David had called continuously as the night wore on since he had sent that first text about John being taken to the hospital, but clearly I had been preoccupied with my sin. Now, I knew I couldn’t ignore the urgent nature that the calls indicated.

Quietly, like a bare whisper, I slid out from under the covers. I arranged my clothes on my body to resemble someone respectable, not a liar. I smoothed my hair, but without a brush I feared it told a story I would rather not elaborate on this evening.

I stood over Yves. I considered waking him. I considered leaving a note. But in the end I left without a word, without consideration. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fairytales


Today's blog post is about fairy tales. Although, reader beware. This is not your typical, happy ending fairy tale. This post is a creative writing piece based on the following challenge by Write on Edge and is a continuation of Carly's story. For those of you who have been following Carly's story, I have a new look this week. This blog layout works so much better for me, so I hope it doesn't confuse anyone. Promise I am here at this address permanently.

Here was the challenge:
For Today, we gave you a short challenge. Three fairly generic passive phrases. Your goal was to make them active in a short scene, either fiction or non-fiction. You could choose one, two, or all three to play with, but you only had 100 words.
[he/she/I] was devastated by [...]
[feeling] was experienced by [...]
[person/thing] was possessed by [...]



Don't worry. While this post may be a little daunting and dark, I generally do believe that a positive outlook on life can make anyone experience a happy ending. 

FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Fairy Tales

Fairy tales are a waste of brain cells. They are for crack-heads possessed by a desire to believe life must, and will, always provide a happy ending. Unfortunately, crack is not my drug. Instead, I am a stoner; stoned into a numb existence devastated by circumstances that have contributed to the boiling anger that relentlessly propels me to make rash, pathetic choices. Secrets and deceit have crippled my daily life, crippled my marriage. These secrets have come to define David and me more than any of the happier moments we experienced together. Yep, fairy tales are crack and will never satisfy your cravings.   





Friday, June 22, 2012

Brain Dead

Yesterday was energetic. Tonight I feel brain dead. Does anyone else feel brain dead. I think an entire day of writing for other people has left me to exhausted to add my WOE post tonight or to even properly comment on my fellow writers' works. Added to the to-do list for tomorrow.

This also means I am not uploading wedding speeches tonight. I will begin work on that tomorrow. Some days I feel like Scarlett O'Hara -
"After all... tomorrow is another day."
In all seriousness, I wrote an article today reviewing a shoe website which pumped me up (like the shoe reference) to share my new Asics Gel 1170 with you.



I don't usually get overly enthusiastic about athletic shoes. I prefer to act giddy about a new pair Jimmy Choo's - that is if I actually had the coinage to buy a pair of Choo's. There I go getting off track again.

But for those of you who do not know, I am a runner as well as a writer. Running fuels my creativity. I have a little blog called Racing Warrior. You can visit it here.


Up-close and personal

I have been running in my Asics Gel 1160 since September and over 500 miles so it was time for a new pair. I put off buying them because I am cheap, but my aching shins and my reluctance to run forced me to make the purchase.

I am thrilled to in my new running shoes and ready to fuel my creativity.

That's all for tonight, peeps! Going to soak in a hot tub and read my newest download on the Kindle Fire, The Neighbors Are Watching. The jury is still deliberating on the potency of this book. The story has potential, but I question the writing. I will let you know the final verdict.




Thursday, June 21, 2012

Creative Fuel

First, let's start with some housekeeping business. If you look to the right of your screen, you will see an enormous amount of blog entries today. I am not that incredibly awesome or inspired to write so much in one day.

I am in the process of switching blogs and I didn't want any of my devoted readers (who as of this writing have no idea I am switching - but will soon) to miss out on previous chapters. Again, not awesome, just trying to get some blog housekeeping under control.

On that note, this is my first official blog on Eloquently Spoken. Let me assure you that I will not overwhelm you with vocabulary that makes your head spin. One can write eloquently without being pretentious. Thank goodness, because I never take myself that seriously. Yes, my husband is disagreeing as he reads this, but that's his opinion.


See what I mean? Does that photo look serious? That's my daughter and I being a bit cliche standing in front of an outhouse at a local park. 

Moving on . . . I entitled this post Creative Fuel because sometimes we all need  downtime to refuel and get our brains uncluttered in order to find our creative juice.

I spent the morning dipping my toes in the cool water of a creek bed, listening to children splashing and watching my daughter try to catch fish with an orange bucket.



They were drawn to the color, but were a little too smart to get caught. A fun morning that energized me to the extent that it is now almost midnight and I am going to force myself to say goodnight.

Need my rest so I can add some wedding speech examples tomorrow. Did I mention I write wedding speeches? Hmmm. . . well, if not, I do. Every pun was intended.


Paying What You Owe

Originally posted April 16, 2012
This piece is an excerpt from  Annie's Story . It has been inspired by this Write on Edge prompt:
This week we asked you to write about a time you or one of your main characters had to repay a debt. The debt can be legal, like sending taxes to the government or paying off a credit card, or it can be something promised in a back room deal, sealed by a handshake more binding than a written contract
I would love to hear from anyone stopping by. Please leave comments and critiques. If you leave a comment, please be sure to leave your website name so I can visit you, too.
Okay, here we go . . .
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“Help me.” The words were hushed, broken. The familiar voice flavored with a sobbing gurgle.

“Where are you? Are you hurt?” I cupped my hand around the phone, whispering while looking over my shoulder. As always, Sarah’s timing was abysmal. Officer Pershall had just stepped out of the room. Not feeling that is was necessary to tell me where she was going, she simply requested that I, “Hang tight.” Typical police procedure meant to keep me on edge.

“Don’t say anything.” Sarah begged.

Given the circumstances, I wasn‘t exactly sure what that meant. “You did this?”

“Annie, stop!” The gurgling became more intense. I could imagine her nose inflamed , the way her shoulders moved rhythmically up and down when she would cry hard. “ I just want you to know I am safe.”

The call disconnected. What did I owe her? I was glad Eddie was dead. I was relieved, almost giddy, to finally know that I would be able to sleep without wondering if I would awaken with the pawn shop gun held to my temple or worse, one of Eddie‘s hunting knives held against my throat. This was his favorite weapon of torture. But what did I owe her?

All my life, I have been indebted to someone or something. Poor money management skills as a young adult taught me the perils of being in debt. Losing my car, having wages garnished to pay back outstanding loans were a hassle, but I never expected these things to keep me from being safe, independent. In hindsight, I realized Eddie wasn’t the only one who placed limitations on me.

But financial debt can be repaid. How do you pay back those debts that have no monetary value? A truly personal debt.

I started to rummage through my received calls to see if I could locate the number Sarah had called from. I didn’t expect to find it. Sarah was smart, as smart as someone on the run can be, she would not allow her number to be traced. She also had money. Money buys anonymity.

Instead, I accidentally hit the icon for my picture files. A bright, happy picture of Kate and Eddie slapped me in the face. A recent picture. Maybe three months ago.

The giddiness melted away. What did I owe Kate? My Kate. The teenage girl so distraught by her father’s death that I had to literally rock her to sleep last night.

Personal debt is a hellish, nightmare where nobody comes out the victor. Where did my loyalties lie? Who would I protect when the storm started to rage out of control?

“Annie?” Officer Pershall startled me causing my hand to jerk, the phone splattering to the floor breaking apart, the SIM card, the battery, the case all dislocating from each other. “Did something happen?”

“Everything is fine.” I scooped up the pieces of my phone and shoved them in my bag, pushing the stray hairs off my face, trying to appear calm.

Pershall studied me, then walked around behind her desk. Sitting down, she picked up a black remote. Without words, she pushed a button and the wall mounted television behind me came to life. On the screen, I saw myself. My hand cupping the phone, my lips moving. Replaying my phone call from minutes earlier.

Pershall paused the image. “Let’s talk.”

 

BLT - Bullshit, Lies and Treachery

Originally posted February 17, 2012
You ready?” The waitress barked. Hello, my name is Macy said her nametag. A cute, bubbly name that did not fit the big-boned, gum-chewing waitress poised at the end of the table ready to take our order. Scolding my judgment, I snapped the large rubber bracelet around my wrist.
Eddie grinned his toothy smile. The type of smile that pulled you in, gave him his way every time. “Two BLT’s, two cokes and pour a little magic into those glasses.” He handed her a five dollar bill.
Macy stared. He smiled again. “I know Don is working the grills. Saw his truck out back. He‘s the magic man.”
“Whatever,” Macy turned to leave.
“Wait,” I called out. “Can you just bring me a water?”
Eddie wouldn’t allow an answer. He held up his hand, shook his head and motioned for her to scram.
“You don’t like them BLT’s anymore?” He smacked his lips. “Only better ones were down in Louisiana.”
I moved carefully in this verbal boxing ring choosing my words. One wrong word, phrase and I would be up against the ropes. “With the guacamole in the middle? I should never have worn Sarah’s shirt that night. Damn sauce oozed all down the front. I do remember you liked taking it off later.”
I flirted. I hated using sex to manipulate Eddie. Eddie leaned back against the vinyl booth, the pressure of his back causing the small cracks in the vinyl to split just a little more. I wondered when the cracks would become irreparable.
“Good thing ain’t no guacamole here. You sure as shit don’t need that. Starting to look pregnant again. Bad enough I had to see you fat for the real thing. Don’t need you to look like that just for fun.”
I fingered the bracelet. Pulling it back just enough to see the scabby wound, minor compared to other lacerations but more dangerous because Eddie had used a razor. Bitch, I can make this end now, but today is your lucky day.
 
Fat? My body, not to mention my soul, had been starved for so long that I was wasting day by day. Concealer from the cosmetics counter couldn’t hide the deep purple under my eyes. Denied the ability to leave the house whenever I wanted, my skin was pale from lack of sunlight. I spent so much time in darkened rooms because of Eddie’s paranoia that the large sunglasses I wore when I was allowed to leave were sometimes to hide trauma, but also because the sunlight hurt. I had become a vampire devoid of humanity.
 

Evidence

Originally posted at a much earlier date, but I didn't record it. Oops!

Write on Edge asked me to write this week with no restrictions, but to put effort into developing a weakness that I may feel my writing has. This week I chose authenticity. Sometimes, I feel that I write with a flat, unconvincing voice. So, here is my shot at a little authenticity. Also, I thought I would try my hand at a little mystery as well. Feeback is most appreciated! The formatting is being persnickety. Please ignore any weird formatting.
________________________________________________________________________________
 
   "The weapon was recovered,” the woman officer said over the phone. She had told me her name, but I had let it evaporate, unable to absorb one more piece of information.
   The officer paused. Papers shuffled, the computer’s keyboard tapped. “ A Colt 1911. Most likely stolen.”
   Most likely,
my brain repeated.
 
   The gun had been found behind a trash can in a women’s restroom at the Harbor Point Marina. A toddler had found it. Why would Sarah leave it in such an obvious place? And where children could find it? The gun had been emptied leaving the threat minimal, but it didn‘t make sense.
   And the Harbor Point Marina? That is where Eddie and I had our first date. I wondered if Sarah knew, a poetic gesture signaling the end of where it had all began.
   A Friday night, late in the autumn when people were less interested in a mid-western amusement park built on the shores of a man-made lake. That first night had been quiet. The rides were emptied. Eddie joked that he had paid everyone to stay away. He wanted me all to himself, he said as we hovered above the ground in the Ferris wheel. The first clue. But when you are seventeen, in love for the first time, you ignore those warning signal pings.
   “Can you trace it? I returned to the conversation. My active participation was a requirement to avoid suspicion. Although, as the wife of a murdered man I had more than enough motive to kill him. Suspicion would never entirely unwrap itself from me.
   The officer coughed. Her voice was hoarse. The beginnings of a cold. “No serial number. These guns are common. Any pawn shop will have an assortment of these and are unlikely to be of any help.” Again, another pause.
   “Annie, the night Eddie was discovered, the first officers on the scene found something . An unique necklace; strings of black, Tahitian pearls and yellow emeralds. Expensive. Few places sell these. They are easy to track.
    Robert Cavanaugh bought one for his wife, Sarah. Your sister. Robert doesn‘t know where she is. Would your sister have seen your husband that night?”
    I could not answer. Years of experience with on-the-spot lying to cover up and I had nothing. All I knew was that three weeks ago my pawn shop gun disappeared and then Eddie was dead.
 
 
 
 

Fate

Originally posted June 16, 2012

Well, it has been a while since I linked up with Write on Edge. I have been blessed with having a multitude of freelancing opportunities come my way, but it has meant an unscheduled hiatus from my personal writing.

This week WOE challenged me with this prompt:

This week we asked you to write a fiction or memoir piece centered around the idea of fate. Your characters (or you, for the memoir writers) don’t have to believe in fate for it to play a role in their lives; sometimes the lack of belief in something makes it all the more polarizing in our lives.

I decided to apply this to my Carly storyline. Had a little trouble with grammar, punctuation, especially on the brother/sister part. So, any critiques regarding to punctuation and grammar would be helpful. I think my brain has just been over-extended these past few days.

_________________________________________________________________________

My brother thrashed in the hospital bed, tugging at the handrails not in an attempt to loosen the restraints. No, it was an uncontrolled fit, a result of the mixture of booze, pot and mental instability. It hurt like razors digging at my skin watching him out of control like this. Unable to find words to soothe his obvious pain, I started breathing evenly counting to whatever magic number would make my own heart stop racing.

“I love it!” he screamed joyfully. His drunken face was twisted into an odd shape of amusement mixed with irrepressible facial tics, another result of way to many chemicals in his body.  If this had been five years ago, and we had been enjoying a night out on the town, I would have been laughing hysterical at his comedic appearance.

Unfortunately, those carefree brother/sister moments had been snuffed out by an ever growing presence of a chemically dependent demon that seemed to want to possess my brother’s body. I watched his hands thrashing, the restraints digging into the bandages encircling his wrists. Tears wanted to fall, but I knew they would be useless and not helpful.

“I LOVE IT!” he screamed louder this time. A nurse poked her head in the door and I held up my hand, signaling that we were fine.

For hours, though it felt like days, I stood by my brother’s bedside listening to him ramble about how much he loved Jim Bean, how pot made him the King of the World and so happy. He explained how fate had determined this night. Fate and genetics were responsible for his actions. Fate was his enemy. He was doomed to repeat the genetic tendencies of bad choices. He never once spoke of being able to create his own fate.

I wanted to tell him that fate was transparent. That fate was feeble, hinging solely on a person’s belief in destiny.  For a man who claimed to be atheist, that God could not possibly exist, I found it amusing that he used fate as excuse to continue to live life in a downward spiral.

I wanted to reason with him, beg him to stop. He was the only connection left to our parents, I kept silent. No matter my feelings about fate one thing was certain. You can’t reason with a drunk.  This night had to be left to fate and I hoped it was on my side.



 

Home

Originally posted May 26, 2012


I have been extremely busy this week finishing up some freelance work that is alot more work than I anticipated. Any one else out there ever bitten off more than they can chew? And it is a holiday weekend of course. Hot, sunny and begging me to come outside.

However, I couldn't pass up the chance to continue working on my wanna-be novel. The WOE prompt this week was short and sweet, so I decided to take some time and add this small excerpt from my larger work. If you have been following Carly's story, this piece may have you thinking, "What the ----! Where did this come from?" I promise it has a place in the story.

The prompt this week was:  Location, location, location

This week we asked you to focus on setting to deepen the reader’s connection to your story. You had the choice of using the setting to help develop your characters, your plot, or simply the mood of your story. Memoir writers could describe any setting in their past that holds meaning in their lives.

Cam’s protag experiences the elements a little too closely in The Storm.

We want to see the world your characters inhabit. In 250 words. Please only link up if you did the prompt and try to visit as many linkups as possible.

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Image Detail

Image courtesy of Free Public Domain Pictures

Momma opened the door. The over-whelming stench of leftover garbage slithered into my nostrils, assuring me this house would be like all of our other dwellings. Stagnant and revolting.

I should be use to this smell, I scolded myself. A nomadic existence did not afford the best living conditions. In all honestly, nomadic is a romantic word not worthy of our domestic journeys. Being jobless and entertaining numerous shortcomings did not leave much room for habitable living conditions. The Spencer family could afford squalor; nothing more.

Barely large enough to be considered a shed, the house creaked, sagging loudly as Momma and I stepped over the threshold. The eye didn't have to travel far to inventory the contents of the home. Three rooms: a common space, a kitchen with a wood-burning stove to cook meals and a bedroom. The bedroom was too small to accommodate a toddler, but we would be expected to sleep seven.

Noticing a large, galvanized metal tub sitting near the back door in the kitchen, I quickly understood this would be another home without indoor plumbing. I spied a decrepit out-building through the kitchen window. The pissing hole, I presumed.

"Lena!" My mother's voice trembled in my chest. I was at attention immediately. "See that?"

She pointed at black specks scattered across the kitchen floor. "Damn bastard rats. Two just scurried that way. Get the broom from the truck and knock their asses out of here. Then clean up their mess."

Walking to the truck, I sighed and blinked back useless tears. Welcome home, I thought.

Obligations

Originally posted on May 18, 2012

I am honored that my piece from last week's Write on Edge prompt was used as a springboard for this week's prompt about choice and consequences. I had a lot of fun putting that conversation together.

This week my response to the WOE prompt is taking us back to the very beginning of Carly's story where a single choice will snowball into a million consequences, both good and bad.

The WOE prompt for this week is:

For this week’s prompt, you were asked to write a story or memoir which relates to choices and/or consequences. Because of the 400 word limit, you may choose to focus just on the choice, or just on the consequence, if you like.

 

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choices and consequences, fiction prompts

      Photo courtesy of stock.xchange

 

 

This time I went to the hospital out of obligation, not love.

I hate hospitals. Hate. A word I use so frequently that it has lost passion. Now it simply describes anything that is inconvenient. I hate hospitals, family obligations, my situation. I hate the man that lies in a hospital bed beyond the steel doors of this waiting room. I hate that I hope he dies tonight because that makes me despicable.

“The little princess has arrived.” Greer startled me. How had I missed my wicked aunt? The stench from her habitual smoking should have alerted me she was nearby. When I faced her she wore a yellow, haggard smile, but she bore no friendly intentions.

“I wish you wouldn’t call me that.” I stated wishing my voice didn‘t always float one octave higher when I spoke to Greer.

She squeezed my shoulders, clucked her tongue. “Just a pet name, Carly. One you use to not mind.”

I tried to brush off the sarcasm, but instead I absorbed it, allowing it to knock me down. “How is Grandfather?”

“You even say his name like a little princess.” I stared blankly at her, refusing to engage in her spitefulness. She motioned to the menacing steel doors. “ See for yourself. Ilsa is with him.” Ilsa, a gentler aunt.

I hesitated. “Perhaps I would just be in the way.”

“There is more than enough room.” Greer challenged me with her menacing eyes. I accepted and pushed through the doors, entering the stale, antiseptic infused hallway.

His room was on the right. The door slightly ajar. Bile rose and settled fire-hot in the base of my throat. I paused in the doorway, gazing at the frail, petite man lying in bed.

John Spencer. When I was a little girl and ignorant I called him Grandma Johnny. A maze of tubes supplied him with oxygen and nutrients. He held his youngest daughter’s hand, talking about lousy television programming that was the bane of his existence. I tried to feel sympathetic, revulsion was all I could muster. Smugness rested heavy on my shoulders as I considered this fact: His life had caught up to him.

Ilsa looked up at me wiping away tears. I suspected the deathwatch had begun.

I prayed to the devil that he would die tonight. A monster who had raped my mother. And if he did not die tonight, then I would be the one left taking care of him.

Caviar

Originally posted May 12, 2012

Getting in just under the wire with this latest piece for the Write on Edge Friday prompt. Here is the challenge:

For this week, I gave you this opening line:

“Two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane.”

and a little flexibility for the memoirists: feel free to use a narrow lane, a moonlit night, or appearance of someone seemingly from nowhere as a jumping off point.

The word limit was 500 words. We all hope you had fun!

This piece may need a little set-up. It is a continuation of Carly's story from OSOT. Carly runs into Yves while spending time with Shirley, her eccentric, opinionated elderly neighbor (and confidant - even if she doesn't want to admit it). After witnessing the exchange between Carly and Yves, Shirley feels it is necessary to give  some unwanted advice.

Feel free to leave any comment! Wrote this quickly because I didn't want to go two weeks in a row not linking up. If I start to get in the habit of not meeting these Friday link-ups, then I may fall out of the habit of writing again. Yikes!

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Image Detail

Photo is from http://www.hospitalityinfocentre.co.uk/Fish/Caviar.htm

“Two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow moonlit lane, “ Shirley began. I stopped fiddling with my pruning shears giving her a sidelong glance.

“Is that time of night when dementia sets in?” I tried too keep my voice even. Shirley had been too quiet since Yves had left.

Shirley narrowed her eyes at me, the wrinkles make-up couldn’t cover crinkled around her elderly eyes. “I have a story for you. One you would do well to listen to.”

Shirley went about weeding her patch of the garden, continuing her story. “I embellished. These two men didn’t merge together on some obscure moonlit path. In actuality they never met, but I knew them both a lifetime ago. They presented me with a choice.”

She continued when I didn’t attempt to interrupt. Not that it mattered. Shirley would talk anyway. “In my twenties, I went with a young man from town who was a corn husker. All day long he cut, peeled and tossed corn into a farm truck . Ed Bailey, that was his name. A handsome and strong man who husked very well.” She chuckled at her perversion.

“Gross, Shirley.”

She waved me off. “He made me the sweetest cornhusk doll. I still have it. We had been spending time on each other’s porches for quite a few months. My parents were certain a wedding was in the stars. Then William Hardy showed up with. Now, if Ed was wholesome, sturdy and respectable then William was everything opposite. Will Hardy was - What do you call them these days? Ah, a player. A player who rounded up all the single girls in town leaving quite an impression. His charms did not evade me. He was caviar.”

“Caviar?”

“Absolutely. Ed Bailey was sweet corn. Ordinary and expected. But Will was caviar. Exotic and daring. Will told me I was champagne. We would go well together. I had to choose.”

“Let me guess. You chose ordinary,” I sarcastically stated.

“I chose caviar and champagne. Champagne and sweet corn just don’t mix.”

“What is the point of this story?”

“The point is when you eat too many fish eggs and drink too much champagne you get sick. Should have stuck with the sweet corn.”

“If something is biting your donkey, just say it.” Ellory, seven-years old and a few yards away digging up a worm, smiled at my euphemism.

“What are you doing, Carly?”

“Absolutely, freaking nothing. Just managing a boring and predictable life.”

“That man was flirting with you and I think you liked it.”

My blood pressure was rising quickly. I could feel it in my ears pounding hard, furiously. “I don’t need to explain myself.”

Shirley glared at me and stepped uncomfortably close. Eye to eye with me she stated. “I am looking out for you. Who else do you have?”

I met her gaze, breathing deeply to avoid the temptation to shove her righteous ass to the ground. “I don‘t need your advice. I don‘t need your warnings. I am not eating caviar.”

 Shirley shrugged, backing down, turning to her gardening. “It’s goes bad quickly, Carly. Remember that.”

Core

Originally posted April 27, 2012

I am linking up tonight with Write on Edge. The challenge for this week was:

For this week, I gave you the word “core” and 450 words to explore any meaning of the word in a work of creative non-fiction/memoir or fiction.

For this exercise, I decided to write a continuation of last weeks' prompt. 

This piece is a section from a larger piece of work. So, I hope it is not too confusing. Or that it ends to abruptly. I am one of those people who likes to tie everything up in a nice bow at the end, but this piece continues on within the secluded world of my computer files. However, I tried to find a decent stopping point for the purpose of this challenge.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this little bit!

Please feel free to leave edits and concrit. Your input helps me see things from a different perspective, enabling me to continue to improve my writing. Thanks, everyone!

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      “ I knew I would find you here.”

A matter-of-fact statement that startled me out of my melancholy. Absorb in my memories, I hadn’t heard his car approach, the door slam. David was leaning against the trunk, feet outstretched and ankles crossed, sunglasses perched on his nose. His arms crossed, too. This pose, now defensive and closed-off, is what once initially attracted me to him. A casual, laziness.

I wrapped my arms around my core, urging my body to stop shivering. A ridiculous reaction considering that it was ninety degrees and the air was saturated from the humidity. I had to explain my behavior. Running off in the middle of a wake that I was suppose to be hosting, leaving everyone to clean up the mess, most certainly required an answer.

I dribbled a forgotten soda bottle cap between the toes of my black pumps, considering my words carefully. David continued to hold his pose, waiting. I kicked the bottle cap again, this time too hard. It rolled off the sidewalk and settled onto the street out of my reach. Time was up.

“I shouldn’t have run off like that.” I admitted.

David shrugged. “Everyday we make choices - right or wrong. We have each made our fair share.”

He relaxed his arms, his right hand creeping into the inside of his suit jacket. He pulled out a blue sheet of paper professionally folded into three even sections. My eyes widened.

“I don’t want this.” His voice was quiet, a whisper. He pushed back his glasses. His eyes were red, rubbed almost raw as if he had tried to scrub away the traces of emotion.

This was the moment when I was suppose to be articulate. Say something that really mattered, but I never mastered the art of eloquence. “Super bad timing,” I conceded.

Surprisingly, David laughed. A laugh so thunderous I jumped nearly six feet high. “You’re telling me. Only I could be served with divorce papers the same day I am attending a memorial service for my wife’s, I guess soon-to-be ex-wife’s, grandfather. I didn’t realize my life was such a badly written comedy.”

I walked towards him, throwing my hands to the sky. “The reviews just came in. They are mixed. I wouldn’t say it is entirely bad.” Old habits. Giving in to comedy and banter to avoid a conversion that mattered.

We stood in front of each other, my height-defying heels allowing me a more even perspective. Being this close to him, I had no other choice, but to be honest.

“I don’t want this either.”

“The divorce?“ David pointed between him and me. “Or this?”

I nodded towards my parents’ neglected house. “ We have become like that house. A shell that provides only shelter, but no color, no personality. We’ve become a house that is simply struggling to stay composed, one more storm away from imploding.”

I took the papers from him. “These were filed out of frustration, hurt and anger.”

Slowly and purposefully, I tore the paper in half. “This is because as much as I have tried to hate you, I still love you.”

 

 

 

 

Makeover

Originally posted April 20, 2012

Today I am linking up another Carly piece over at Write on Edge. The prompt was:

   

It’s time for a change in outward appearance, be it a character, yourself, or someone in your life. In 500 words or less, write about a makeover of your choice (hair, clothes, makeup, facial hair for the menfolk), fictional or memoir/creative non-fiction. Let’s think about how physical appearance changes can affect the inner landscape.

I took a different approach to this prompt, choosing to write about demise - the antithesis of a makeover. And instead of writing about a specific character, I took the approach of writing about the end of an era of a family home.

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   On the far side of the street, I loitered on the sidewalk watching the house. A careful observer, not wanting to draw attention. Of course, this neighborhood had gone through periods of exoduses over the years. Original families were displaced throughout the state, different countries. No one would be around to offer awkward condolences.

Twelve months. Only twelve months had passed since the plane crash. After a joint funeral, meetings with my parents’ financial advisors and deciding how to divide the estate, David and I had stood in the front yard watching my parents’ existences being auctioned away to strangers. Two days later, the For Sale sign went up. Memories are hazy, but I do remember how absurd it was that our realtor spent 40 minutes finding the perfect location for a stupid sign.

I loved growing up in that house on this street - Mulberry Street, a peaceful, unassuming name envied by those who did not have the privilege to call this quintessential American neighborhood home. Hollywood depicted the essence of our street in those feel good, family flicks where quiet streets were lined with mature trees rising up tall and proud with outstretched limbs, protecting the families on the other side. Each house had a quartet of steps that guided you up to the sidewalk leading to your front door. The homes were two-stories, simple architecture with flat fronts and a collection of windows. Each house displayed a wreath on the different colored front doors. The original families had agreed to keep the doors unique. No two houses could have the same color front door as no two families were the same.

Twelve months and the deaths of the last of the original families was all it took for the magic of this street to dissipate like the morning fog. 52 Mulberry Street, a house once envied by neighbors and visitors had fallen into a deep depression as if it too mourned the loss of it’s old family.

Garden societies visited our home bi-annually complementing my mother on her azaleas, the monstrous hostas that needed constant dividing, her expertly pruned hydrangeas, marigolds that exploded from unusual containers found at barn sales my mom frequented on Saturday mornings. The gardens that hugged our house rippled from season to season never drooping in the Midwestern humidity nor dying off in the winter. The transition from each stage of growth was natural, enchanting and, always, beautiful.

Now, the gardens were in such disarray that I barely recognized the house. My mom’s prize-winning flowers had been ripped from the soil, exposing a bare, ugly foundation. Too much upkeep for today’s schedule-weary families. Even the deeply-rooted oak tree that once held my beloved tire swing had been hacked to a ragged stump.

My thoughts on God, the afterlife were in limbo. But if there is an after-life, I hoped that my mom was somewhere as luscious as her gardens once were, walking among her flowers shielded from the mess that this earthly garden had become. Because if she saw it now, it would kill her all over again.

 

 

Who am I?

Originally posted March 30, 2012

This excerpt was inspired by the following Write on Edge Prompt: Crossing the Line.

This week we asked you to write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece about a time someone crossed a line, legally or ethically. You could have explored vigilante justice or another sort of line crossing.  We hope you enjoyed exploring the motivation of your character and possibly the consequences of his or her actions as you put your piece together.

This prompt fit with my current story about Carly, but as excited as I was to start writing this I was also apprehensive. This scene required a lot of emotion. Inserting emotion, especially emotions involving vulneralbility and sensuality are hard for me.  As my husband will acknowledge, I am not a stereotypical girl. A hopeless romantic I am not. But Carly was bound to cross this line. So, I hope you enjoy it.

As always, comments and critiques are welcome.

Leave a Comment!

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My phone vibrated, fierce and urgent against my palm. Silence suffocated the space in this unfamiliar setting. Darkness had settled and when I dared to look up, away from the phone’s screen, the window failed to reveal the river - only darkness and our images.

“Carly?”

I quickly stole a glance at the words on the screen, once a glaring notification, but now fading away. We had to call an ambulance. The text sent from David’s phone.

The words caught in my throat, tight and tiny. Clearing my throat, I uttered, “They had to call an ambulance.”

Continuing to stare at the reflections that darkness offered, I watched as Yves gathered up the materials we had been working on. Our excuse for meeting here tonight, his apartment. Papers scattered around on the coffee table, appetizer ideas for the new menu at The Bitten Dog. Something that could have and should have been done at the restaurant.

“Do you want me to drive you?” My body betrayed me. I quivered as his reflection moved towards me.

“Are you okay?”

I shook my head. “ I can’t.” A whisper as I turned to him. I’m not even sure he heard. I tasted the tears before I felt them falling from my eyelashes.

Yves reached for me. His thumb gently erasing the tears, trailing from my cheek to my jawbone to my lips. Without hesitating, I confronted him. I stared into his eyes, searching for a spark of understanding, wanting him to know me, to see me.

“I’m weak.” I admitted.

His fingers slid into my hair.

“A disaster .” I warned.

He smiled. “I’m not afraid.”

“I’m broken.”

“You’re strong.”

“I keep making bad choices. I should go to the hospital.” My body quivered again aware that I was about to make the wrong choice. I was going to let myself fall because feeling something tonight other than loneliness, regret, anger and pain was the better alternative. I could escape and life could be different for a while.

I lowered my forehead to his chest. “I just want you to know.”

“What?” His breath was hot against the top of my head.

“Who I am.”

Stillness. A momentary pause in his breathing. Then he pulled away, tilting my chin up he held my gaze. “I know. I’ve always known.”

And like that I gave up forever. I welcomed the moment. Not caring how long it lasted, needing it more than certainty. The past had stripped me of certainty. Counting on empty promises had gotten me nowhere yet led me here. And as I tasted the moment on Yves’ lips, I knew this was exactly where I wanted to be.

 

 

Family Dinner

Originally posted March 16, 2012

Here are the instructions for this week's Write on Edge prompt:

Yes, I know. We’ve talked aboutvillains before. For me a villian is a bad guy, a black hat, someone driven by sinister motives. An anti-hero, though, there is a character who stands in opposition to the protagonist, who provides a foil and an obstacle on the hero or heroine’s narrative journey.

The way I see it (and I know not everyone will agree), all villains are anti-heroes, but all anti-heroes are not villains.

Show me an anti-hero. It can be a character sketch or a scene, but try to establish how and why this person is the obstacle to the protagonist’s goals.

You have 500 words. Come back and link up on Friday’s post.

So, here it is! I hope you enjoy this little piece. Comments and critiques are always invited and respected!

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 “This dinner’s real nice, Carly.” John gingerly ate the red potatoes marinated in Italian dressing. “Haven’t eaten this well since your grandma cooked for me.”

  Greer put her fork down, her eyes focused on mine, searching for a clue. Always intuitive, never side-lined, she knew there was a greater purpose to this evening than me inviting her over for a simple family dinner. She considered her father for a moment, then asked. “How have things been for you? Carly keep you entertained. Don’t want to hear about you getting bedsores.”

  Like you care, I thought. Greer avoided eye contact with me.

  “I’m real good, Greer. Come visit more often. See for yourself.”

  “I’m a busy woman.” Greer pushed her plate away.

  “Well, time’s running out.” Patting his oxygen tank, he continued. “Just saying.”

  “Daddy, don’t talk that way,” Ilsa pleaded. Greer rolled her eyes.

  “Ain’t any other way than the truth, baby doll. Just the truth.”

  We ate the rest of our meal silent each of us pondering the weight of John’s words. Finishing his meal, John scooted back his chair, attempted to make a quiet exit, but found his feet entangled in the chair. He lurched forward. Instinctively, I jumped up, cushioning his fall and letting him fall into me. His breath was labored, he had begun to sweat.

  “What do you need?” The question exhaled from my lips as a whisper, surprising me. For  weeks I had recoiled from any sort of emotion involving John. Maybe I wasn’t as heartless as I feared.

  Righting himself, he shook his head like a cat recovering from an unexpected tumble. “Need to lie down.”

  After he waddled out of the kitchen, Greer attacked. “What do you want?”

  “Help,” I stated.

  “I don’t have any money.” She pulled a cigarette from her purse.

  “You can’t smoke in here.”

  “Little smoke ain’t gonna soil your home, Princess. Burn a candle.”

  I snatched the cigarette from her lips. “There is oxygen in this house. Open flames can cause an explosion.”

  “Well, then you wouldn’t need my help.”

  “Greer!” Ilsa scolded.

  “You need to lighten up. You have help. Nurses come on a daily basis. Eating my inheritance, day by day. You have that woman next door come and baby sit him, too. When do you do your share?”

  “Your father has been here for weeks. This is the first time you have come to visit. And only because I offered you food.”

  “You deaf? I told you. I am a busy woman.”

  “Smoking your disability checks? I forget, what is your disability? General laziness?”

  “Bitchy little princess, aren’t we?” Greer circled me. Barefooted, we were the same height. Her fizzled grey hair, cigarette-stained teeth and animal hatred for me shook my confidence. Greer was unpredictable.

  I looked over at Ilsa, hoping for help, but instead found her quivering, running the ends of her hair between her fingers over and over again. No question. This battle would be mine alone.

Want to read more about Carly? Click here! 

 

 

Disco

Originally published March 9, 2012

This week's prompt was:

In honor of Davy Jones and the other artists who enhance our lives, this week’s Red Writing Hood prompt draws inspiration from music.

Go to This Day In Music, and discover what was number 1 on the charts in the United States, England or Australia the day you or your character was born, or any other special day in your/their life, if you prefer.

Listen to the song(s) and let it inspire you. In 300 words or less.

So, the prompt is below and I realized that I got the word count completely wrong. This is what happens when I multi-task. Hopefully, it's not too long. I struggled with this piece. I knew what I wanted in my head, but could not seem to articulate it with my words. This is a raw piece that is a continuation of my longer work The Other Side of Truth. Any constructive critique would be most appreciated!

Enjoy!

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“Here.” Zoe shoved a rumpled, brown grocery bag at my chest. “Put this on.”

Warily, I attempted to open the bag. Knowing my best friend and her propensity for practical jokes, the contents could be disturbing. She ripped the bag from my hands, rolled top tighter and handed it back as roughly as the first time. “No. Just go.”

Obeying her rude commands, I disappeared into the hall bathroom. When I emerged, Zoe clapped vigorously, David snickered and Ellory screamed, “Mommy! It’s not Halloween.”

Zoe had dressed me like a late, 70’s Barbie doll. The contents of the bag were a honey-blond wig that lingered in unnatural waves at the middle of my back, a champagne-colored strapless jumpsuit that would normally have been to much for my small, 5’2 frame. However, Zoe never missed a fashion detail. Compensating for my lack of stature the bag also contained stiletto pumps, helping me rise to whatever occasion Zoe had envisioned for the evening.

“My turn!” Zoe scampered to the bathroom. I am not going to waste a moment describing Zoe’s wardrobe choice for herself. Simply picture Linda Lovelace. Enough said.

“Do you know what this is about?” I asked David while Zoe was adjusting.

He shrugged. “She said she was taking you out for your birthday.”

“My birthday was three months ago.”

“Details.” Zoe interrupted. “Minor detail that doesn’t matter. Let’s go.”

She dragged me out of the house before I could run away and grab my Snuggie. No amount of cajoling could get Zoe to divulge her plans. She simply stated she got the idea from her students. Zoe was an adjunct professor at Midtown Community College, economics. I know. Hard to fathom. Just go with it.

“Your students?” My fears were elevated.

Zoe parked the car in front of a charming, two-story Victorian, heaving and grunting along with the beats filtering outside. We staggered up the front steps, our too-tall heels refusing a graceful entrance. The scene inside was a marriage of Animal House meets Studio 54. College students packed so tightly together, bumping and grinding to Working at the Car Wash while the dim lighting, strange chemical smells in the air, and an oozy, sticky substance near the open-toe of my shoe made me nauseous. This time I assaulted Zoe, dragging her onto the porch where the air was easier to breathe.

“What the-”

She cut me off. “It’s a theme party. Thought it would be fun.”

“Fun? I am 35 years-old. Too old to be bumping and grinding a bunch of teenagers and getting high. Seriously, Zoe?”

Rolling her eyes, she emphasized. “They’re young adults. Look, I’m sorry. I was trying to be nice. You’ve been so ho-hum, lately.”

“It’s called responsibility. You should try it sometime.”

“Not interested.”

I took the blond wig off revealing my flattened brunette hair, counted to ten. Confrontation, fighting with my friend, I didn’t do that. I saved my fighting energy for David and I. “I appreciate the effort, but please stop.”

Zoe hugged me, not capable of holding a grudge. “Your spirit seems unhappy. I wanted give you a little excitement.”

“I’ve been dealing with a lot, but I can handle it. What I can’t handle is a second-hand marijuana high.” Walking back to the car, barefoot, I handed her the wig. “Go get your money back for this.”

“Oh, you keep it. It’s just a prop.”

“Prop?”

She pointed to her outfit. “Stephen and I are adventurous. But I think he’s over the blond, double D porn star fantasy. Prop box needs to be updated. You keep it.”

She skipped ahead singing bad seventies disco while I calculated how long it would take to get home and how soon I would be able to take a scalding hot, disinfecting shower.

 

 

 

 

First Impression

This post originally appeared on my previous blog March 8, 2012

This excerpt was inspired by Mama's Losin' It weekly writing prompt.

Describe what it was like meeting your in-laws for the first time?

This excerpt is a continuation of Carly's story. While I did meet my in-laws unexpectedly at a high school wrestling game dressed like a Reality Bites cast member, the outcome was not nearly as comical as Carly's. My mama always says, "Write what you know." So I wrote a little of what I knew and some of what I made up. Taking another piece of advice from my mama, "Use your imagination."

Enjoy! As always comments and critiques are valued and welcome!



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In retrospect, I should been more concerned about meeting David’s parents. But what does a 17 year old really know about first impressions? To a teenager, every day is a fresh start. Another 24- hour period to re-imagine life, get into a bit of trouble, go to bed and wake up unconcerned with what happened the day before. Too bad we can’t stay seventeen forever.

But, in retrospect, David was 24 when he and I were dating. Please, no lectures. At the time it was cool, but if Devon brought home a grown man to our house when she was barely legal there would be a lot of hypocrisy involved in that conversation. I am digressing. This is about me and about David. More importantly this is about Pam and Doug.

David should have realized that first impressions matter. That I would be forever trying to auto-correct every little bit of my appearance from that first night for the next 15 years. 1995. Kurt Kobain had been dead two years, but I was still trying to resurrect the Nirvana-style dressed in multi-tonal green flannel, a black lacy tank top for a bit of sexiness, tattered and ripped jeans with crappy K-Swiss tennis shoes. This was my laid-back, way-too-cool-for-you style. An appropriate style for the high school wrestling meet. Completely disgusting for meeting my boyfriend’s parents.

“Are you dense?” I grabbed David by the arm, dragging him to the side of the bleachers after he waved his mom and dad over to where I thought we were just hanging out. Apparently, we were waiting.

David shook me off. “What’s your damage?”

I pointed my finger in his face. Ah, the beginnings of our dysfunction. “Don’t quote me Heathers. How could you not tell me?”

“What, Carly?” Placing both hands on my shoulders he danced me around so that he could face the gymnasium floor, completely unaware of my shock and more interested in the wrestling match.
“Look at me!” My voice was squealing, wanting to scream and lash out while still appearing in control. “Look at them.”

Pam and Doug were slowly approaching. He in his work clothes, a black, short-sleeved shirt with his name stitched on the left pockets, the small white triangle of his undershirt at the chest, pressed-black pants, black work boots. His mom was wearing a plain red turtleneck with a small gold chain around her neck, black polyester slacks and black moccasins. They were both carrying seat cushions to make the bleachers more bearable. I hoped they wouldn’t use them as weapons of suffocation when they realized that the slob standing by their son was his girlfriend - emphasis on girl.

“You’re overreacting. Besides this is my brother’s match. Why is it a surprise they are here?”
I didn’t have time to respond. The parents had snuck up behind me, closed in on us like we were prey. Pam and Doug smiled, unaware of the flannel head-case and my tendency to over dramatize.

“Who’s this?” Doug chuckled, playfully punching David on his on the bicep. “An unhappy cheerleader?” Ah, my first experience with Doug’s sense of humor.

David motioned for me to step closer. Shuffling my feet, I moved slowly towards him to complete the circle; me, David and the parents. That is when it happened. A toddler, in the bleachers above us started to pitch a fit. Feet stomping, tears forming, clearly upset about something. His hands flailed about frenziedly, sending the soda can in his Dad’s hands over the side of the bleachers.

The can connected to my temple as David began to introduce me. There were bright colors, sweaty gymnasium odors, hollow voices. The colors faded, my knees were buttery. As the colors faded to black I felt peaceful, all was right again with the world.

Apparently, while crumbling to the floor I muttered, “Thank you.”

“What was that all about?” David asked later that evening while we were discharging from the ER.
I can’t exactly say, but I would bet I was thanking that toddler for giving me a chance to avoid meeting the parents for the first time.