Saturday, June 22, 2019

Ten Minutes


Ten minutes have passed but Carmen hasn’t managed two minutes of work. She’s aggravated. Any second now she expects she will be interrupted again.

Her tablet helpfully asks if she wants to go to where she left off. She taps the screen and is zipped to the half-finished sentence. What did she have in mind there? If she can’t remember…she’ll have to figure something else out.

It’s impossible, she wants to yell, but in the past, she has managed just fine. Today is just one of those days, with lots of interruptions. But ten minutes have passed, she could be writing. 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Dizzy


If you woke to see your future it would make you dizzy. But when I woke dizzy for the second day in a row, I believed my future had come to see me.  

I thought I’d had a mini-stroke and next would be the ‘big’ one. I would have to adjust to being an invalid, my normal brand new. What would I do then? I couldn’t imagine. But then as I came into my day, I was fairly steady.

That is except for my wonky imagination. It kept spinning around in a mad little circle until I found myself quite faint.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Male at the Crossroads


 

 

He tells me that the teacher yelled.  Not at him, but at this other kid.  Then Cole starts bawling.  I guess this is one of the moments my daughter has talked about, where I’m supposed to teach him about life.
My grandson is small for his age, with spaghetti wrists and no frame to him that might give me hope.  Like his mother that way, delicate.  Sensitive.  He even has the same fly-away hair that Melissa had as a child.  No man in his life except for me.  I’m it.    
Growing up just happened when Melissa was a child.  I provided for her.  The rest never crossed my mind.  I pat Cole’s shoulder and wish I had bought that new game he wanted, so I could send him to play with that.  Cole has so much stuff that Melissa gave him the larger bedroom of the apartment’s two but his belongings are still everywhere. 
I spy his book bag on the wicker chair.   Homework.  That I can do, gratefully I remember how we work on math together, hit the Internet for research, good times.  Does he have any assignments for school?   His sobs take on new depths and wetness as though his lungs are full of sympathy. 
A game of cribbage?  I’m teaching him how to play.  No.  How about we build a house of cards?   Find a snack? 
He’s got chores that I should tell him to do but suddenly he flings himself onto me, his arms around my legs.  I sit down then and he crawls into my lap.      
I could promise him that his mother will help him when she gets home.  Melissa would know what to say to Cole, but what will I say to her?  I glance at the clock but I know it’s another hour at least before we can expect her. 
I try to remember what Melissa has said about her son and empathy – I had to look that word up in the dictionary but a definition didn’t help.  Think of one way you might be the same as the other person, she said.  But this?  Cole’s weeping because someone else got hurt.  The other kid is probably okay but Cole isn’t.  Is this too much empathy?  If he keeps this up, he’ll make himself sick. 
Melissa says I’m Cole’s male role model.  She said what I do and say will be the roots of what he becomes.  That can’t be right. What if my bewilderment of this moment when I don’t know what to say or do is the thing that is his example?  Will Cole then become someone who hesitates?
If I teach him to sluff this off, will he then someday, watch while someone gets beaten without intervening or at least calling the cops? 
Melissa seems to think this is exactly how it works, but that’s irrational.  If that were the case then we’re doomed.  Nobody gets perfect parenting.  There has to be some toughness, some survival instincts.  I stroke his hair and wonder if he isn’t running a fever.     
All I can do is share how it used to be.  It comes to me then, how I used to cry at nothing when I was his age.  Not that it did me any good.  Not that I want him to keep this up.  He’ll be bullied next.  He’s almost ten years old and he has to learn that big boys don’t cry. 
Only thing is, I feel my throat tightening from some corner that is still tender; still wants life to be fair.  It’s not.  When does he have to learn this?  How can I tell him that?  
So we sit chest to chest, like a pair of primates who cuddle in a corner of the zoo, not wanting to look at the humans peering in.  Not yet.  

 

The End

Saturday, June 1, 2019

On Wednesday


Lunch on Wednesday involved a couple of choices that were not successful. First the rye bread that we like is far better not toasted but until it popped out brown, warm and really dry and hard, that detail is forgotten. The soup had a tang of salsa, which is nice on its own but coupled with lemon dressed sardines topping the toast, left a weird taste in the mouth.

What really seems noteworthy is that the day before I asked ‘when is the last time that you had a bad meal?’

Now the answer to that question would be ‘On Wednesday.’



. 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

So Boring


Cassie wonders if being a little bit bored could be compared to being a little bit pregnant. They are the same in one way; eventually something will pop.

She should write that down. She will, if she can find her journal.  Where did she leave it? Oh, right. She hid it, between the mattress and box spring where her mother would never look.
But she might not be looking at all, but cleaning and discover it.  Better not write ‘a little bit pregnant’ even to compare it to boredom. Her mother always jumps to conclusions; sound the alarms.
So boring. 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Aunties with Niece


 

 

 

“Land sakes alive, the good Lord created more unusual creatures than you could imagine, and there’s the proof you need right there.  In the firmament and in the heavens, you is as unique as a snowflake in Louisiana!  You is!  Now let me see what we are going to do with you.  You got real nice cheekbones, what say we gives you some nice rouge and make ‘em pop.  Then if we gives you a rinse of color for your hair, fluffs it up and updates your wardrobe, why you’d be a stunner.” 

 

“This is so wrong!  You need to be happy in your own skin.  No boyfriend can give you that, and believe you me, they skitter off the minute you get that needy thing going on.  You are special and he’s just a boy, they come along like a bus, one every couple of minutes.  In the city that is.

 

“But I want Steve so bad.  He likes blondes and he likes funniness and he is always the center of a laughing group.  Just let me practice being funny, just get the ball rolling and then he’ll take a look at me too.  After that, I won’t need nothing from life, if I just can be with him.” 

Saturday, May 11, 2019

He Chugs Beer


She’s overlooked crucial data.
He’s on his third beer and chugging it. A dribble escapes his mouth to reach his chin. He uses his sleeve to wipe his mouth. His biceps make her gasp. He gives her a lopsided grin, and brushes back a wave of glossy hair. He could model for a living and never touch a greasy wrench again.
A friend said they’d make a cute couple. But hers is a different world and he wouldn’t suit. For if he fits there, it means she doesn’t.
She sips at her wine. Takes a second look. Her knees feel weak.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Smoothly


She reads about the smooth transition between mental activity and physical activity. Reading is more cerebral than action based, but in her defense, she is figuring things out. A procrastinator needs to have a plan of action. She’s working on that.
The phone rings and the caller asks what she is doing. She can’t answer planning, so instead she says she was reading a book.
“Good. You have time to help me clean out my garage. I’ve put it off long enough.”
She says yes, after all, this request came smoothly and she wasn’t really doing anything.
Oh.
That’s so true.

 

 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Written in the Stars


“Congratulations, you have won a free consultation.” A heavily accented voice tells me that he’s calling from Montreal’s Astrology Center.
 How unusual. "Where?"
“The Astrology Center. I will transfer you so that you can receive your free consultation.”
“Thank you but I am not interested. Have a good day.” I hang up.
But I wonder. Have I turned down a mystic message? What would my consultation have revealed? How quickly would I have been asked for money or information?
My phone displays the call came from Ontario. The Astrology Center is not in Montreal, their stars cannot be trusted. Too bad.

 

 

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Tea Leaf Reader


I read tea leaves.  It’s an old art; a simple form of fortune telling. There is one definite rule. Don’t leave people without hope. Sure, there’s memory work to do but often it’s a matter of reading the people not the tea leaves. Their body language, or their own words, they give it away.

I’ve never been mean. I’ve always made sure that I’ve softened the blow if it looks like I’ve struck a nerve.  People have enough burdens without my adding to them with a bleak reading.
Wouldn’t you like a cup of tea? Is something is on your mind? 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Rita's Bear


Rita sees the bear. It checks the mirror on the truck like a paramour concerned about their hair before a date, then drops to all fours.

It’s her first bear sighting. As a newcomer to the wilderness community the event is also an initiation; her reactions will be noted. Wonderfully, she’s excited but not afraid. This surprises her, she had worried.  

Across the street someone spots the bear and darts back inside as though their heart had stopped but their feet sprouted wings.

Rita hadn’t done that. Her first bear story is how she saw the bear before it saw her.   

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Shaving Mirror


Catherine looks into the shaving mirror that is in Herb’s drawer.  He hadn’t used it for years.

“Leave this drawer alone.” He said. “These are my things.”

His tone is not to be argued with, but she had not dreamt his gruffness was about a secret. Beneath a couple of cuff-link boxes and his passport is a bundle of letters. 

She stops. It’s Pandora’s box. A secret lover, a second set of children, a relative whose favor he tried to cultivate, his birth mother, all reasons for a secret correspondence.

The face in the shaving mirror is no one Catherine knows. 

Friday, April 5, 2019

Bardo the Between

This newly published story was a decade in the incubation stage. It is based on a real enough situation but my skills weren't up to the task to write the story until now. I hope you enjoy Bardo the Between published by Switchback the Journal of the MFA in Writing program at USF (University of San Francisco.)

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Your Sister


For the sake of your son, do not divorce. The courts would favor Catherine and your good influence would be lost.  Catherine is devoted to him and it would devastate a boy his age to be shuffled between parents. You aren’t the first person to regret their choice of spouse. I understand. Many times, I have wished for my big brother’s ear, but we are both grown now and can muddle through if we have to.  Remember that I am only a couple of hours away and I would meet you at any time if you needed me.  

Love

Your sister.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Moderator


“Would you say that to your mother?” Jolene asks the computer screen and the answer obviously is no. As moderator for her town’s Buy and Sell social media page, she conscientiously checks the site often. The personal message waiting today is particularly nasty; a vicious venting that makes Jolene cringe. 

She bites her tongue as diplomatic phrases come to her fingers. Two or three exchanges might be necessary, but in the end, she has the power to ban posts, so she believes this squabble will be short-lived. She encourages co-operation in this online world, calming, negotiating, being the sounding board. Moderating.

 

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Life is Interesting


Life is interesting. Catherine’s philosophy is gained after years of wishing for something different, of bemoaning her lack of money, of her work load and the difficulties of her marriage. She has considered either murder, or divorce and for a few dark moments suicide but she’s in new territory now. Her end is near but she could still have an interesting life.  It includes the widowhood factor. Loveless or not, she had been a wife. Now she is not. 

“This is an interesting thing,” she says out loud but the words fall on an enormous emptiness that echoes alone, alone, alone. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

A Story is Published

It's not April yet, but Spadina Literary Review has their April edition online. A short story of mine is featured, I hope you enjoy this tongue in cheek slice of reality- Hyde & Sons - how to sell a bull. For those of you who like a peek into process, the voice of this character came first - inspired by a few different stockman that we dealt with in our cattle raising years.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Our Time


The work of retirement is to fill those 9-5 non-working hours. One day I initiated a conversation with my husband regarding the time I spend with my writing. I’m in the room with him but also in a world of my own.
“It’s not a problem dear.”
“Okay”, I say, “You realize that I would be bored out of my mind if I didn’t write.”
“Just like hunting is for me.”
By now he’s walking out of the room, but he turns back at the doorway and asked me if there was anything else.
We’re apart and we’re together. Time passes.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Troll Fable


Littlebit scowls, her teeth are covered with the sticky gumdrop she’s eating. The package of candies is almost empty.
She was going to eat one piece each day; at 3:00 in the afternoon; when she needs a little pick-me-up. How easily she agreed with the idea but now she knows it is the troll’s plan. He’s a pipe-dream whisperer, the tempter that won’t let her control her weight.
The troll knows his stuff. 
But she has the gumdrops anyway, so why doesn’t she just finish them?
No.
Well…okay.
Who said that? Why would she say that?
The troll lives in her. 

 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

An Old Beau


 “When your mother first came into the community, she was so friendly. And happy, really happy.” Old Bill Johnston nods his chin in remembrance of when he was one of her first suitors.
Happy? It doesn’t seem possible. I’ve known my mother’s life as miserable.
“What happened?” This is out of my mouth before I could stop it.
“She got married.” He answers quickly but then realizing what that must sound like he adds, “then right away she had a big family and lots of work.”
I wonder. What if she’d married him?  
I see this question in his face too.   

 

 

 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Silence or Sighs.


I open my mouth and hear his sigh. Nothing I say is the type of truth he will listen to or enough of a lie to entertain him.  It’s no surprise he doesn’t understand me when I tell him I’m unhappy with our marriage. 

Counselling? Are you freaking insane?

No. Actually I’m not.

He looks at me like I’m an alien that’s landed in the back yard.

You’ve a bee in your bonnet! Why? Menopause? Empty nest? You’ve hatched some idea that will cost me money? No. Over my dead body.

He isn’t sighing.

I’ve got the right to remain silent.

 

 

 

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Some Treatment Doctor


My chiropractor, who I haven’t visited in 20 years, is doing a little catch up with me as might be expected. I’ve been writing, he’s just back from his dog trial championship win.

I’m face down on his bench and he’s twisted me in preparation. Crunch. Done.


“This is just the same problem you used to have, when you were working like a dog.”


I immediately wonder what other disrespectful ideas did he have.  Farmwives work but I was no one's dog. It will take time to move past his words. 

And to think that I paid him for this treatment!


 
 

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Publication of Short Story

My marketing efforts from last week paid off in several ways.
  1. I got word of a story being accepted for publication.
  2. I got chastised for simultaneous submitting to a market that wants exclusivity.
  3. I got a team of editor response to a story - they all had a reason why they didn't like the story I sent them.
Sometimes marketing is actually just a way to create mail. 🔁

Follow this link to read Silence in the Morning at Pif Magazine. My story is second under Macro-Fiction

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Typing Skills


I tell my father what I said in creative writing class about ‘showing not telling’ complete with examples. He expands on what I’ve said, and corrects me on points I didn’t make, as if all of this writing business is easy. Anyone can do it. He says. It’s funny. Sad. Annoying. Incredible.

Later that day he receives an important email and he asks for my help with the response. My typing skills are better than his, he says. Typing skills. Better than his. Really?

Then I suggest that he show me what he wants me to type. Clearly. In written form.

 

 

Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Scene of the Crime


The scene seems ordinary: an upholstered chair beside the little table, a lamp perched on top.  What more can be told? There are a few crumbs, a used napkin, the remote control for the television. The sunlight would hit the area in the morning if the blinds are not drawn.

There is a notebook, pen, pencil, thumb drive and a small computer that is plugged in to recharge. A stack of books, ‘Writing as a Sacred Path,’ ‘Word Savvy,’ and ‘The Elements of Style’ by Strunk and White, provide telling clues.

This is a writer.

What have they written?

Nothing today.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Dog Owner


Mimi tugs on Folger’s leash but the dog resists. The leash slants in a taunt line as he tries to get away.  
She should find the bootie by retracing her steps. It can’t be lost, she checks his feet often; but there is nothing red on the path.
Folger yips. Mimi stops. He lifts his bare paw as a stream of urine drills a hole in the snow. He’s done.
“Come on.” She yanks Folger’s leash.
Why did she get a pet? The bootie is somewhere on the path, right beside her patience and the daydream of a companion dog. Lost.    

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Plan


 
Number 8. I will attend spin classes.

Number 9. Every day I will read one chapter from my self-help library. I will change.

She pauses as her teeth worry at her bottom lip. Then in bold stroke capital letters she adds something.

Number 10. I WILL CONTROL MY SHOPPING HABITS.

She felt like phoning someone to share her good news. This is a good plan and it is going to work. 1 to 10 in black and white. Black and white? Frick, that’s boring. Not creative like she is.

“I’m buying colored papers and pens.” She said. “To do this right.”

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Published Here - Odor

This is something new for me in two ways. First I have been having some fun with very short flash fiction projects. Second I don't intend to seek publication for them in the marketplace. I thought I would just share them here. New year equals a new idea. Hope you like it.



Odor

 

The manor is cramped and Catherine’s husband often stumbles on the strategically placed furniture. He doesn’t like anyone, and unhappily isn’t interested in any of the provided activities. 

He complains he can’t even fart in private; not that it mattered before.  But he’s extremely gassy and when he dies two months later at 77, Catherine believes she should have known.   

It is said he had a good run even if he wasn’t a ripe old age.   

Riper than you would believe. Catherine collapses in laughter that leaves her wiping her eyes. 
 
If the end can be smelled…she sniffs the air.