Friday, September 23, 2016

A Tale Written on a Whim

It is the second day of autumn and a blog day for me. I have myriad ideas for writing, but often my thoughts have to do what’s happening in our society currently. I definitely have my opinions but am afraid my point of view differs from about half the people I know, so I refrain from posting about issues that are controversial unless I can stay neutral. And that’s hard.
 Today, I decided to begin this piece focusing on the word “fall”, since it is the season. In all honesty, I had no idea of the direction my words would take me. So here it is -- a fiction piece about a woman I named Felicity.

It was the first day of fall and it was her birthday. Felicity was forty. Forty. How in the hell had that happened? She was over the hill. Yes, THAT hill. And she hadn’t yet had a baby. Well, there was the abortion when she was twenty-two. Did that count? All it counted for in Felicity’s world was regret, and guilt, and sadness all wound up together, a knot in her heart.
No one knew. No one who cared about her now knew. She bore the burden alone, not thinking about it much, but not forgetting either. How could she? Shit. San Diego. She had made a promise to herself never to return to that city again. Never. San Diego had become synonymous with loss and loss didn’t feel good. She had lost everything in the back room of a small clinic near the ocean. The fetus had been taken, her integrity had been absent, at least for that short stretch of time, and Jack? Well, Jack had disappeared the moment she had told him. So that was that. Done. The last thing she remembered about that day so many years ago was leaving the small, stucco building and searching for her car. Where had she parked it? The rush of the warm, sea breeze and the smell of fish and salt wafting up from the docks a block away had made her a bit nauseous. She remembered that. All she had wanted was to go home to Escondido, miles away, and sleep.
Wow, how vividly that memory had surfaced! With luck, it would settle in the recesses of her mind now as it always did. Felicity looked around the corporate lunchroom at all the faces, old and young, men and women, fearing perhaps that someone was reading her mind. Ridiculous.
            She slipped the last bit of iced tea through a straw, stood, and walked slowly toward the silver, elevator door. At the moment she reached them the doors swooshed open and there, directly in front of her was a couple. The woman, Felicity knew, worked in an accounting office on her floor, and the man? He looked at her, tilted his head to one side, and smirked.

Perhaps this tale could go on, but not now. It’s time for me to get back to the new novel I’m writing.

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Sweet Dream Saves The Day

            This summer has had its ups and downs. The biggest down is that two of my good friends have lost their adult sons, both from acute illnesses. I feel really sad for them because I understand their grief at the deepest level. I, too, lost my son in 2013. All I can do is say, “I’m so sorry,” and give them space, unless, of course, they need to talk. They know I’m here.
            Beyond that, on a different level, this summer, I have been struggling to understand the anger, bigotry, and absolute hate that have bubbled to the surface among so many people in our country. Realizing that I have misjudged the character of many, fellow citizens makes me more than sad; it makes me sick. Seriously. Even among those who espouse to believe in God, who go to church on a regular basis, and who “believe” in the fundamentals on which the USA was founded, prejudice and hatred have reared their ugly heads.
 I’m not a church-goer, but I grew up with very devout parents who taught me right from wrong and who led me to believe that all people deserve a chance, that judging others is a fruitless endeavor, and that we should treat others as we would like to be treated. (Be ye kind. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. Judge not that thou be judged.) See, I remember. I certainly don’t pretend to be perfect. I’ve made my mistakes too, but I like to believe that what values my parents taught me are at the core of my character. And so, I wonder. What in the hell is wrong in our country? Has the proverbial moral compass gone extinct?
            The current political cycle, I’m certain, has riled folks into a virtual frenzy, and while I find the whole mess disgusting, perhaps it’s a good thing. At least I know what I’m dealing with when I venture away from my computer into the world around me. I’ve come to expect enraged drivers who can’t get to where they are going fast enough; I’ve come to expect that I’ll be flipped off if I take too long pulling out of a parking space; I’ve come to expect hearing profanity between strangers in the grocery store; I’ve come to expect rudeness from customer service agents. I could go on, but won’t. The point is, that I’m more than a bit frustrated at what I see around me, and I do observe closely. I’m a writer.
            This leads, finally, to one of the reasons I wanted to write this today. I was gifted recently with a break in the craziness. In keeping with the first paragraph of this somewhat rambling blog, every day I am a little sad. That does not mean that I don’t function in life or that I am constantly unhappy. It simply means that I know a little chunk of my heart has been torn away and from time to time I feel the pain. That’s why it was so cool to have gone to sleep a couple of nights ago and to have dreamed about my son, Alex. This was not my first dream of him, but it’s been awhile. It was as if I received a prolonged, long-awaited visit. He was there, along with his friend Shawn, who was trying to rearrange our house, and amid the clutter, I lost my purse and car keys. So, yes, the dream had components of absurdity, but beyond that, it was filled with happy chatter, fun adventure, hugs, and love. I woke up refreshed, and yes, happy. This dream was one I wanted to crawl back into the next night. I wasn’t able to do so, but I do know, it will come again. I look forward to the next, sweet dream and another respite from reality.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Friday Morning Writing Exercise

“Write every day,” they say and I do, one word at a time. Today, I began with a name: Jan. This is where it “went”!

         Jan woke up early, earlier than usual. It was still dark in the room and she could hear her husband snoring. It was a raspy little sound that was both irritating and soothing. She closed her eyes, hoping for more needed sleep, but she was denied. John’s snore grew louder and then stopped altogether. Is he okay? Of course, he is. He turned on his side, breathed deeply and then began to snore once more. Time to get up. Her day had begun.
            She slid from the bed, tossed on her familiar, fuzzy, green robe, grabbed her slippers, and tiptoed to the door of the bedroom. No need to wake him. God only knows he needs the rest.
The dim light of morning gave the blinds of the bedroom a lucent appearance, cold and ghostly. Sun won’t be up for awhile. Jan gently closed the door behind her and walked slowly down the carpeted hallway to the kitchen. She stopped at the edge of the hardwood floor, stepped into her shoes, tightened her robe around her, and moved toward the stove. She shivered. Tea. Time for tea.
When at last the teapot whistled, Jan poured a steamy cup and sat alone at the kitchen table staring outside. It was eerily quiet. Low fog blanketed the landscape. She could barely make out the coastal hills that were green now, finally, after being parched all summer. I’ll need to walk them soon . . . with John. He’ll like that. The two had been walking together for years with few words passing between them. It didn’t matter. Conversation only complicated things, for they seldom were in agreement about anything: religion, politics, or even what to have for dinner, They had stopped talking five years prior in order to save their marriage, for despite their differences, they were in love. It was a predicament Jan never, in a million years, could have expected, but it had come to be, and she lived with it.
Perhaps it was the loss of his parents, two deaths simultaneously, that had initiated John’s silence. He had been their only child; their relationship could not have been closer. Jan was the only person John, and his parents as well, had allowed to join the tiny family of three. She had been hesitant at the beginning, but in time, was comfortable and like a missing link, seemed to make the family whole; that is, of course, until both Mother and Dad were killed together in a fiery vehicle accident. Jan would never forget John’s reaction: a howl so anguished she could hear it even now. In the weeks that followed he was haunted by nightmares, unknowingly sobbing in his sleep, and then waking and needing to talk. For days he blathered as he recalled countless memories from his youth. In time, however, he seemed to exhaust his treasure-trove of recollections and grew quiet. The only salve to John’s despair were the daily walks, some short, others long hikes. And no matter when or where, Jan accompanied him. It was an unspoken assumption that she would be there.
Jan had been lost in thought for many minutes when she sensed John’s presence. He had entered the kitchen silently and stood before her now in his worn pajamas and tattered robe. His face was sober, his voice strained.
“Jan,” he murmured, “We need to talk.”