a journey filled with many familiar paths and some not yet taken... all leading to the ever-changing destinations just waiting to be discovered.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Jack's Gremlins...part 3

I have again linked this tale to two sites: Magpie Tales and Creative Writing Ink 

When we walked in the house that night, Toby was waiting at the door for us. Rather than doing her usual greeting of jumping and twirling in circles, then stopping and sitting looking up at us, she just stood there looking through the open door, waiting. Pops actually had to take her by the collar to get her to back up enough to close the door. We took our drive-thru food into the kitchen and sat at the table in silence. Toby lay under the table quietly. I even tried to give her one of my chicken bites, but she just laid there, those big brown eyes looking up at me all sad. I tried to encourage her to take it, ‘Here Toby, chicken bites,’ but she just looked at me not moving except for a listless swish of her tail. ‘She’s probably worried about Jack just like us… you only ate two yourself and only a few of your french fries. Are you sure you don’t want any more before you get ready for bed?’ Toby jumped up and took off up the stairs, her nails clicked on the wood floors as she reached the top. ‘No, I’m not very hungry either Pops. Is it okay if I head up to bed now?’ I answered. ‘Yes, of course, sweetie, it’s been a long day for all of us. I need to call your Uncle Howard, make sure he got my message, and then I’ll be up to tuck you in,’ he said as he stood up from the table, collected the leftovers and put them into the refrigerator.

I went up stairs to my bedroom, pulled my pink pajamas from my dresser and walked over to the window. I stood there looking out into the dark night; the air was thick with the misty fog rising above the cold water of the creek beyond the back of the yard, so much that I could barely make out the edge of the trees of the forest on the side of the yards. I could hear the muffled voice of my father as he spoke with Uncle Oud. His voice got a little louder, and then I heard the click of the door closing to the kitchen. I walked back over to my bed, sat down and started to change into my pajamas. I didn’t really understand why things seemed so different between Pops and Uncle Howard. They always seemed to be mad at each other now.

I know the accident, losing Mom, made everyone sad for such a long time. Pops did his best to try to make things as normal as he could without Mom there. He made our lunches with us at night, letting us pick out what we wanted, just like she used to do. He did everything he could to keep things the same as possible, always trying to be happy… but every now and then Jack or I would walk past his room and hear him sobbing. At first, it really scared Jack, but Uncle Oud sat down with us one afternoon before Pops came home and explained, ‘You know how you really miss your Mom, well, your Pops really misses her too. Sometimes, when you’re the Pops, you just have to go in your room and miss her. Sometimes when things remind him of her, or her laugh, or when one of their favorite songs plays on the radio… He misses her a lot and just needs to take some time by himself, just like you do. And it’s always okay to miss someone when they are not here anymore.’ Uncle Howard had stayed with us for almost six months after he got out of the hospital. Pops said he needed family around to help him get better. They had even brought in the special bed for him, like the ones at the hospital, like the one Jack was sleeping in tonight. It all seemed so normal for Uncle Howard to stay with us; after all, he was there almost every day before the accident. He would stop by after work to see his ‘big sis’ or he would bring steaks for Pops to cook on the grill and corn and we would all have a picnic in the back yard for dinner.

Now though, Uncle Howard only came by once a week or so. Usually he would get off early and come play with Jack in the backyard before Pops came home from work, searching in the edge of the forest or at the back where the creek turns and runs down between the backyards of the houses, for whatever little prizes they could find, or relics, as they called them. But now he always had a reason to leave just before Pops would come in the door. Maybe once a month or so, Uncle Howard would bring a movie for the three of us to watch in the afternoon. Then when Pops would get home, we would all go out for dinner, but Uncle Howard always took his own car and usually they would end up mad about something, anything and he would leave to go home before we were done with dinner.

Suddenly I heard Toby jump down from Jack’s bed, scamper from his room, running, nails clicking on the floor boards, down the hall and into Pops room barking. I went to see what was up, and as I rounded the doorframe into Pops room, Toby was pacing and trying to get to the window, still barking intermittently, and then tipping her head side to side listening. I walked over to the window, pulled the curtain back away from the side table, and tried to see outside, to see what Toby had been barking at. The fog hung low on the side of the house, near the base of the trees where Jack and Uncle Oud would treasure hunt. The moonlight shined above and between two cloudlike formations of fog, its glow shining into the window to the hurricane glass of the oil lantern Pops had brought home for Mom. She had always wanted a fireplace in her bedroom, and he had said, ‘Since I could not give you a fireplace, a gift to create the same ambiance effect.’ Mom had cherished the lantern, setting it there below the window with some of her perfume and other decorative bottles, ‘to create the mood, the ambiance’ as Pops had called it. Though Pops had changed most of their bedroom around, this one area below the window, he has kept just as Mom had arranged it. The way the moonbeam hit the hurricane glass; there was almost a prism effect from the colored bottles. I stood there momentarily mesmerized by the prism in the glass. Toby scampered to the door catching my attention just as Pops appeared at the doorway.

Magpie Tales  #34
'What's going on sweetie, I heard Toby barking?' Pops asked.  'I'm not sure, I think she heard something, but the fog is too thick down by the yard to see.  I think I might have heard some other dogs yipping, sounded like little ones, but I'm not sure,' I answered.  I pointed to the hurricane glass, showing Pops the prism created by the moonbeam.  He smiled, and then asked if I was ready for bed.  We walked down the hall to my room and I climbed onto the bed. As Pops pulled the blankets back for me, he said, 'You know Jack is going to be okay, don't you?  Is there anything more you want to ask about Jack?  He will be okay, he just needs to rest and get strong again.  The doctors are giving him medication to make him better.'  'I know Pops, it just scared me when they took me out of the room this morning, and then when I saw him go past the door with the fireman...  Mrs. Bleeker just kept asking me questions, but she never really told me  anything.  I was just worried, that's all,' I answered.  Pops leaned forward and kissed my forehead, then rearranging the covers over me, he said, 'I should have come by and gotten you, but there were a lot of people needing answers to what happened, and I wanted to make sure Jack was getting the help from the doctors.  But he is in good hands now there at the hospital, the nurses and doctors are taking care of him just like we would, just like they did your Uncle Howard after the accident.  And in a few days, Jack will come home just like Uncle Howard did.'  Pops again leaned down and kissed my forehead, then said, 'How about we both get some sleep and we will go see Jack in the morning.'  'Okay Pops, good night, I love you,' and Pops answered, 'Goodnight sweetie, I love you too.'
Pops and I both must have been exhausted from the events of the day before, because we both slept late into the morning, or at least late for a school day. When I finally woke up, I looked over to the clock and it was already almost 10:00AM. I jumped up, rushed to put on clothes, and went racing down the stairs to the kitchen. Pops was sitting at the table drinking his morning coffee, ‘Morning, are you ready to go see your brother?’ he asked. ‘Yes sir, have you talked to the nurses, how’s he doing?’ I asked. ‘No I haven’t, I thought we would go down there, ask and see for ourselves,’ he answered. Pops poured out the last of his coffee into the sink and we left, Toby sitting at the door as we closed it.

As we walked up to the nurses station, a lady in a dark blue suit, greeted Pops and asked if she could speak with him. He acknowledged her, then turned to the nurse, and asked, ‘How is Jack this morning?’ The nurse responded that he was doing well, that the medications seemed to be helping his breathing. Pops then, reached into his pocket, pulled out some money and handed it to me, ‘How about you go to the donut shop and get us each one, while I talk to this nice lady. Then when you get back, we’ll check on Jack.’ I must have had a confused look on my face, because Pops then said, ‘I think I saw one down around the corner. Can you go get us each a donut, then we’ll check on your brother? The nurse said he’s doing better and I’m sure he’d want a chocolate one.’ He turned to the nurse and asked if that would be okay, she said yes, and he again told me that it was around the corner. I told him I would and then walked back outside. I walked down the block to the corner where the big, ancient (well I thought it was ancient) church was and turned to walk on past it down the block. After walking a short distance, I found a small donut shop, and went in and got the donuts for all three of us, making sure one was chocolate for Jack. Having the donuts in hand I headed back to the hospital.

On the way, I thought it would be faster to cut across the parking lot, near the church. But then, near the back on the side, I came upon a door. Ornate wood squares, surrounded by the large arched brick, the left side open….  I hesitated, thinking I should get back, but also remembered Pops needed to talk to the lady before we could go see Jack.  I stood for a few moments looking at the door, and then slowly, trying to peek into the darkness beyond it, I went in, thinking I could spend a few minutes praying about Jack, praying about Mom, and then I would go.

Creative Writing Ink photo prompt

As I entered into the darkness, taking a few moments for my eyes to adjust, I saw a man come through a door near the back of the chapel.  It was dark, but I thought the limp was familiar as he walked up the aisle between the long dark wooden pews.  As he got more toward the front, he reached up to his face, wiping it with his hand, then moved between two of the long pews near the front and sat down.  I moved in his direction quietly, hesitantly, then saw him motion for me to come over to him.  I slipped between the two pews, from the outer wall area and moved toward the man through the darkness of the chapel, thinking maybe it was the minister wanting to speak to me or something.  But as I got closer, I realized, stunned, it was Uncle Howard… I don’t remember ever seeing my Uncle Howard at church, not even back when we used to go every Sunday with Mom.  Not even on the special holidays, when we would go at night for the midnight mass.  Not even for Easter….  As I sat down in the pew next to Uncle Howard, he reached over, taking my hand in his, pulling me closer and giving me a hug.  I looked up to his face, and there on his cheek, was a single tear running down to his smooth jawbone.  I felt the goose bumps crawl across my skin, covering my back, my arms, and felt myself shudder slightly.   He pulled me closer, and whispered, ‘How’s Jack, have you been to the hospital yet this morning?’  I whispered back, ‘The nurse said the medications were working, helping him, but Pops had to talk to some lady, so he sent me for donuts.’  I gently raised the white bag, showing it to Uncle Howard.  He nodded yes, and another tear rolled down his cheek and fell onto the wooden pew.  I squeezed his hand, not really knowing what to say, I was still stunned that he was here, at church.  We both sat quietly in the darkness for a bit, him holding my hand, me not knowing what to say….

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Jack's Gremlins... part 2

My hand trembling, I reached for the small golden bottle resting in the delicate tray on the dresser, the dainty  lace of the hand sewn doily beneath, it's ivory threads a caressing detachment from the dark wood.   I cradled the cold glass bottle in my hand, as I loosened the black lid, the aroma hit me...  I can smell her scent.  I can feel the warmth of her hand resting on my head, then stroking down to my neck, my shoulders, to the upper part of my back as her hand follows the brush as it filters through the strands of hair.  I can hear her voice, 'One hundred strokes each night will keep it vibrant, healthy...'  I can feel my mind slowing, experiencing that moment from so long ago.  For a brief moment, I feel warm, calm, like everything will be okay.

Magpie Tales  #33

I fumble to place the black lid tight on the cold glass bottle.  This was the perfume Uncle Howard, or as Jack calls him, ‘Uncle Oud’ gave to mom for her birthday.  She was so excited when she opened the present, wrapped in the delicate lacelike ivory paper, with the small roses, cut throughout the entire sheet.  Originally, it was a set, complete with the small tray, an even smaller sample size bottle (which Uncle Howard carries now in his pocket at all times, his current relic) and this bottle, that sets here.  Pops allowing me to keep it, as long as I am ever so careful, not to drop it… not to let anything happen to it.  He’s not sure if I am old enough to understand it’s meaning to everyone.  I do know whenever it’s hard to remember… what she looks like or what she would say to me or how much she loved us… all I have to do is open the black lid just a little.  Then suddenly as the scent escapes the small bottle, the room, my heart, my being is engulfed with how much she cared, and I can remember the smallest details, like she is here with me for just of few more moments...

Just then Toby jumped up bumping my leg (she had been laying on the hardwood floor there at my feet) and trotted to the window. Her nails clicking on the floor and as she jumped to look out the window, resting her front paws on the sill. I am brought back to the moment, the day… the horribly long day of questions, of looking to the classroom doors, waiting. The whole day waiting in anticipation of Becky, thinking she would come in with a note from Mrs. Bleeker, her needing to see me in the office, or Pops standing at the doorway waiting for the teacher to send me out. But this never happened.

Then when the last bell of the day rang out, not even stopping by my locker, Pops would be there to pick me up… or Uncle Oud...  But that didn’t happen either. Disappointed, scared… I had slowly walked across the schoolyard to the opening in the wooden fence. Toby, my good girl Toby, my faithful Toby, laying there between the fence and the bushes… Thank you Toby! I had reached down to pat her head; she somberly stood and pushed against my legs. Then Toby and I made the long walk home along the forest trail. It looked so different than it had that morning. Grey thick fog filled the space between the trees. Even the grass looked dull, dark, well at least a darker shade of green, bending in arches to touch the ground. It was such a long walk home. Toby remained right beside me on that walk, no darting, and no pressing her muzzle between the low bushes at the cold pool water near the boulders. And those last few steps when we reached our yard where the trail ends, finding the house dark, no Pops… no one waiting to tell me what happened. I didn’t understand… More questions, now I had started to feel the panic. Why wasn’t anyone telling me what was going on?  Was Jack okay?  What happened to him?  Where did the bruises and the red mark come from?  I so wished mom was still around. I needed her so much at that moment.

Toby barked once, dropped down from the window sill and ran out of my room, then down the hall. It was then that I heard a car engine, and then it stopped. I heard Toby’s nails stop clicking on the wood floors as she got to Jack’s room, as if she was taking a quick look, searching for him, then racing off down the stairs to the front door. I glanced at the clock, 5:45. I followed, anxious to find out what was going on… what happened to Jack?  As I reached the top of the stairs, I could see Toby standing in her alert stance at the front door, waiting, tipping her head side to side. Then the door opened slowly, Pops pushing it open, looking around as if he was searching for me. Our eyes met and then the tears came. I raced down the stairs and grabbed on, holding my father around the waist, in the tightest hold.   I remembered that hold from when he had told me about the accident two years ago. His arms wrapped around me, just as he had done that night.  I felt myself trembling and looked up to my father’s face, finding a single tear running down his gruff cheek, resting on the stubble of his beard, just as I had that night. I felt myself gasp, trying to breath, trying to force out the question. ‘He’s okay. Jack’s going to be okay,’ his deep voice trembled as he spoke. I don’t know how long we stood there in the doorway, holding on to each other in silence… Eventually, he raised me up into his big strong arms and carried me to the living room. There we sat, he tried to explain, to answer my questions, ‘Jack’s okay, but he needs to stay at the hospital for a few days. When he fell into the water, with the cold air this morning, he got sick, real sick… The doctors are taking care of him, he’s going to be okay.’

Just as Pops started to ask me, I asked, ‘But what about the bruises?  Did he hurt his stomach when he fell? If he hurt his stomach, how did he get the marks on his back?  I was watching him, honest, Pops, I was trying… Are you sure he’s okay?’  Pops squeezed tighter and tried to reassure me that Jack would be okay, that it wasn’t my fault; that he could have fallen when he was with him or with anyone. ‘You know Jack, he’s like your Uncle Howard… How many stories did your mom tell you about when she was watching him? Trying to do things he shouldn’t have, falling, or bumping his head. They are two peas in a pod, your brother and hers, both adventurous spirits, thinking they can do anything…’   I could feel the butterflies in my stomach starting to settle, landing as mom called it.

Then his deep voice asked the question, ‘Do you know how he got the bruises on his back? They look old, do you know if he fell anytime in the last week?’ ‘Pops, I don’t know… he told me about some ogre that comes in the night, um, after gremlins. I thought he was just making up another story. I didn’t know… What did he mean Pops? What gremlins?... I just thought he hurt himself when he fell this morning on the rocks? But I don’t know if he fell on the rocks. He said he was okay. I had to look for Toby, she ran off,’ again my mind started searching the trail in the forest, searching for anything I could think of.  I heard him clear his voice, 'Did you want to see Jack?  Tonight?  He might be sleeping and if he is, we need to let him sleep so he can get well....'   

I don’t remember getting up from the couch. I don’t remember leaving the house or even the car ride other than it seemed to take forever.  I think Pops had the radio on, probably love songs, the ones him and mom always listened to.  I think the wipers occasionally cleared the fog from the window.  I know it was dark outside.  I do remember the bright lights beyond the glass doors as we drove into the parking area, and the lights beyond all the windows. Then there was that long wide hallway. Pops was talking as we walked, telling me, ‘There are going to be machines, like the ones in your mom’s room after the accident.  And he has a mask on his face. He might be sleeping, remember if he is,’ we spoke the end of his sentence together; ‘we need to let him sleep. He needs to rest to get well.’ ‘Pops, he’s okay though, right? You said he’s going to be okay?’

As we entered the room, Jack’s tiny little body laid on that big white bed. The silver rails raised on both sides. He still had that strange mask over his face. He had a clear tube that was taped to his arm at the end. There were machines, hissing noises, beeps.  I tried as hard as I could to hold the tears back, I knew I should be strong for Jack. He laid there, his eyes closed, his arms rested on top of the sheets, in his left hand, cradled, the ‘ouglass’ with the white sand, the same white as the sheets.  Pops stood next to me, his hand on my shoulder, his other hand rested on Jack’s. Again I looked up to my Pops, that single tear rested on the stubble of his beard, but a big smile stretched across his face. It was THEN that I knew, felt it in my stomach that Jack was going to be okay. I chuckled and thought to myself, now we just have to figure out those gremlins…

If you enjoyed this tale, please go visit Willow at her Magpie Tales.  This part of my story was prompted by this weeks photo.  While you are there, take time to visit the other poems and tales shared there.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Danish Days and Coastal Wildlife

We spent a relaxing day Sunday out at Solvang
(the little Denmark of the United States) taking in their
 'Danish Days' and some of the culture, so to speak.

We enjoyed the food, the tales, chain saw carvings
 and watching olden day dances, translated for the crowds. 
Oh, and let me not forget the Viking Camp.

On the way home, we stopped by one of the local Vista Points
to catch some pictures of the 'wildlife' and beautiful coastal views.

Hope everyone has a wonderful week.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jack's Gremlins

As we entered the forest, the trail blanketed in the rich colors of Autumn welcoming us, the air thick, a dense fog rising over the path here where it parallels the creek.  Sunlight reflecting off the fog, almost fluorescent, to the right of the path at the clearing where the springs rise between the boulders, caressing, then gently falling over the front, dropping into the wider pool area hidden just beyond the low bushes that run along the path.   As the warm air touches down upon the cold water of the springs, steam billows upward creating the dense fog drifting over us as we pass by.   It seems almost mystical, as if somewhere further up the trail, there might be another sort of a world, waiting to welcome us to this magical land where dreams just might become...

photo prompt from Creative Writing Ink

Jack trails behind picking up a stone here, a twisted piece of wood there, metal with a small rainbow crossing it's center... little prizes, relics collected and stuffed into the pockets of his jeans, hanging loosely on his small frame.   The right leg ripped just below the knee on the outer part, there is a scab where he fell and tore his pants yesterday.  His shirt just as scruffy looking, covered already with the morning dust, a red smear from his jelly toast across the left sleeve, and the old stain from the warm cocoa he spilled down the front of himself last week when Toby jumped up to his lap trying to share the drink with him.  Toby darts back and forth between us, checking on Jack, exploring the brush along the side of the trail and running ahead, insuring the trail is okay for us to proceed.  Her reddish brown fur glimmers as a small ray of sunlight breaks through the fog where she nudges her muzzle through the bushes to take a long drink from the icy cold pool near the springs.  It seems so strange how when Toby's fur becomes damp from the thick air and dewdrops on the bushes, it darkens, almost to the auburn color of the mop on Jack's head.  Jack's curls look like chocolate swirled, hanging loosely against the tan shirt draped over his tiny shoulders.

Suddenly, a short distance ahead, Toby stops, her ears go up, head tilted... dropping her snout to the grass along the left side of the trail, sniffing.  Toby continues to be in her alert stance, she raises her head and looks in my direction with those big brown eyes, then looks back toward the trees, ears tall, turning, listening for another sound.   She trots further up the trail near the bend, darting between the tall trees and out of sight...  "Toby... Toby come!" I shout for her.  I hear Jack back behind me, "Aw, she's just looking for the gremlins."   I turn back toward Jack, "What?"  I don't see Jack on the trail behind, concerned I start walking in that direction, but again yell, "Toby come."  Jack continues, "...the gremlins that come before the ogre.  You know, the one I told you about.... the ogre that comes in the night from the trees next to the house," his voice going to a more of a squeak, then I hear the splash as he falls into the pool now just beyond the boulders and bushes.  "Jack, are you okay?" I yell.  "Yeah, I just slipped, I'm alright."  Jack appears from the small opening in between the bushes, his clothes wet up to his chest area, draped tight against his small body.  "Go find Toby, I'm okay."

I turn and quickly move up the trail in the direction I last saw Toby, continuing to call, "Toby come... Toby!"  As I just start to round the bend, near the trees where Toby darted off the trail, there stands Angelica.  Toby standing next to her, looking at me with softer, sorry looking brown eyes, her tail swishing from side to side in the tall grass.  I turn and yell back to Jack, "I found her."  Jack answers with a quiver in his voice, "Did she bring you one of the gremlins?"  "No gremlins Jack," I answer and turn back to face Angelica.  She looks beautiful today, her long blond hair rests on her shoulders, covering the top of her sky blue dress that flows downward, to maybe halfway between her knees and her bare feet.  Her skin pale, the sun peaking through the fog, the trees, shining a small ray almost through her.  The ray highlighting the thick air around her, almost like a light glowing behind her beauty.  "Sorry, she must have heard me coming from the other side," says Angelica.  "Is Jack alright?  I heard a splash,"  she continues.  "Yes, he just fell in again... he's okay," I answer.  "Good morning.  How are you?  I missed you last night....," I ramble out the words in my excitement to see my friend.  The nights always seem so long when we don't get to play, visit during those endless dark hours.

Angelica steps from the tall grass and clasps my hand in hers, turning, we begin again to walk up the trail.  I holler back to Jack, "Are you coming Jack?  I found Toby, let's go..."  I faintly hear Jack respond, "I'm coming, just wait tho, I found an ouwglass and another..."  Toby trots up behind and to my right, tail still swishing, she looks up at me with her big brown eyes, then trots on ahead.  From behind me I hear Jack ask, "Are you sure she didn't bring the gremlins with her?"  coughing at the end of his question.  I answer back, "No Jack, no gremlins with her."  As we continue to walk up the trail, I talk with Angelica about everything... school, my classes, the other kids, and how it seems like forever since I saw her last, even though it was just yesterday afternoon when Toby and her met us outside the schoolyard and we all walked home together through the forest.  As we walked and talked, I could hear the scuffle of Jack's shoes through the leaves and dirt of the trail behind us, a periodic cough and the faint tinkling splash of a rock or stick landing in the creek.  Toby was still darting back to where Jack was behind us, then running through the grass and trees, coming back out to the trail ahead, checking and running back to me. 

About the time that I reached the wooden fence that separates the forest, the bushes from the plush green grass of the schoolyard, my friend and I were talking about seeing each other later.  Again I heard Jack behind in the distance coughing.  Toby, now walking along side me, went slinking through the small opening in the bushes, her tail turning up, then disappearing.  I take the ten or so steps up to the end of the bushes and the wooden fence separating the forest, it's trail and the plush green grass.  Toby lays down there near the end, between the bushes and the fence, as I pull off my backpack and set it on the ground in front of the opening.  I reach into the pack and pull her bone out and lay it on the ground, near her front paws, crossed just over each other, her head now resting there.  I reach to pet her head and tell her, "Toby stay, be good girl and stay or go home."  I turn looking back down the trail saying, "Jack, let's go, we're going to be late."  Then I again kneel at the end of the bushes and tell her, "Toby you have to stay here or go home."  Angelica responds, "Don't worry, I will see that he gets home for you." 

Jack finally catches up and we begin to walk through the opening in the wooden fence, and I place my hand on his shoulder.  I can feel him shivering as we cross the schoolyard.  I tell him, "We need to stop at the nurse's office so you can change your clothes, you're soaked."  Jack starts to object, "But I don't..."  Interrupting, I say, "Remember, this is why she has the clothes in her office, so if you need to, you can change."  We enter the building and head down the long hallway.  When we come to the open door of Nurse Linda's office, the first door down on the right, I knock as we walk in.   

Nurse Linda is sitting at the desk across from the door, she turns to look who is here, a big broad smile forming.  "Not again Jack, you're soaked," she says as she rises from the black desk chair.  Nurse Linda walks over to the cabinets along the wall, and I reach down and start to pull the wet shirt off.  Jack fumbles with one of his found relics when the sleeve pulls over his hand.    There is a large purple and bluish area covering most of his stomach on the right side with a lump in the center.  Up near his shoulder is a dark purple dot.  Stunned, I ask, "Did you hit the rocks when you fell?"  Hearing my question, Nurse Linda looks in our direction as she pulls the backpack of his clothes out of the tall cabinet and I hear a muffled gasp.  She immediately calls out, "Becky come here."  Becky is one of the older girls, maybe sixth grade, who helps out in the office.  The nurse quickly moves across to us placing her hands on Jack's shoulders and gently turning him to face her.  Jack objects, "My ouwglass, be careful...." and begins coughing again.  The cough sounds deeper now, wet.  When Becky comes to the door behind the desk area, Linda says, "Go tell Mrs. Bleeker to call 911 and to come help me, we need to call social services.  Go."  Becky's mouth dropped open as she turned and moved from the doorway. 

With Jack facing the nurse, I now saw the oblong bright red mark with blisters near the 4 small purple dots just below his shoulder.  Further down near his waist is a greyish blue area speckled with yellowish color, a brownish mark almost identical to the red one at the shoulder, the same oblong shape.  Nurse Linda asks, "Jack, who did this to you?"  Jack holds up the relic to the light shining in from the window, the dark wood cabinet grain beyond.  The white sand shows fluorescent, almost the same white as the fog with the sun rays earlier on the forest trail.... 

from Magpie Tales #32
Jack answers, "The ogre that comes after the gremlins at night..."  Frustrated, I interrupt, "Jack, no gremlins, not now...what happened?  What hurt your stomach?"  Nurse Linda looks over to me, nodding for me to stop.  She suggests, "Why don't you go see if Becky found Mrs. Bleeker."  She is assisting Jack with removing his wet pants, and now sees the scab on his knee.  Jack coughs again, still the deep, wet sounding cough.  Just then, Mrs. Bleeker comes around the doorway, and again there is a muffled gasp.  She too rushes over to Jack, then hesitates gaining composure and asks, "Jack what happened, you look all wet?  Did you fall?"   Mrs. Bleeker indicates to Nurse Linda that she has called 911 and then suggests, "Why don't you come and help me so we can get help for Jack..."  Mrs. Bleeker places her arm around my shoulders and guides me out of the room.  As we get far enough away, when Jack won't hear, she asks, "What happened?  How did he get all those bruises?  How long has he had that cough?"  She hits me with an endless barrage of questions.  "What did he mean gremlins?  Where is your father?  Do you know if he went to work today?"  My mind now racing to Jack, to the forest trail as we walked to school, racing, searching for the answers to her questions.  She led me to the big brown comfortable chair across the desk from hers. 

I don't even know now, if I answered any... of her questions.  Sitting in the chair, I heard a clanking noise and looked to the doorway, a bed on wheels, Jack lying there, some kind of mask over his face.  The white fluorescent sand catching my eye as he held it in the air above the mask.  The strange bed moved quickly past the door, a man in a big yellow jacket walking behind.  My mind continued to race, searching the mornings happenings....  hearing the things Jack said as we walked the long trail.  Hearing Angelica,  "Don't worry, I will see that he gets home for you....  Sorry, she must have heard me coming from the other side."


I've linked this tale to two sites, I hope you don't mind.  If you enjoyed this tale, please go visit Willow at her Magpie Tales, and then stop by over at Olive O'Brien's Creative Writing Ink to see more inspired thoughts. Here are the links for both sites which provided the above photo prompts:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Beyond the Fog

As I stood looking out from the shore,
He pulled deep in the wave, with his oar.

The curtain of fog over the sea,
His presence slipping away from me.

The waves crash fiercely onto the rock,
Misty air hangs thick, life it does mock.

For what lies beyond beauty, are waves,
Strong, ripping, piercing water of graves.

This surfer must try to take his chance,
Ride the wave below, this is his dance.

The ocean currents, riptides and all,
For him bring meaning, the sea does call.

So out beyond the curtain of fog,
Sit upon his board in misty bog.

This surfer waits til the time is right,
Upon the board, surfer takes his fight.

Riding his wave, gliding to the shore,
To me he returned, to him, one more...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Always a Pane of Glass

Linda sat, her back against the trunk of the maple tree, the textbook open resting on her lap.   Two young brown squirrels playing tag on the branches above, the leaves rustling, crackling, then the small spiralling dance of the orange leaf falling downward, landing on the page she was trying to read.  Smiling, Linda looked upward, searching the branches for the to and fro movement of the squirrels she knew were playing there.
Magpie 31
Linda watched as the squirrels were leaping from one tree to the next, darting back and forth, then moving on to a different branch playing the chase game.  She looked to the window, the mirrored reflection of the trees, branches swaying, leaves dancing as had the solitary leaf as it gently came to rest on her pages.

There, beyond the pane of glass, Sister Mary Catherine stood, her back to the window.   Linda had seen her there many times before, as she sat here in her favorite study spot under the maple trees.  So often that Linda was even beginning to learn the meanings of her stance.  

Brisk pacing, moving to and fro as had the young squirrels moved on the branches above, that meant someone, whomever had done something...  They were hearing the stern words of the latest lecture on the ill-chosen deeds they had done.    Standing off to the side of the window pane, the veil pulled ever so slightly back, yet not directly facing the glass... meant she was enjoying the solitude, the beauty of the maple trees towering over the wall of the courtyard as it approached the ornate gates that led to the gardens.  Probably, in the winter, when there were no leaves on the curving branches of these tall maples, Sister Mary Catherine could  see the colors of the solitary roses that would surprise everyone, standing tall over the white blanket covering the gardens.  

Or, on rare occasion, when Linda would look upward, she would catch a glimpse, just before Sister turned away, the smile as she looked downward, seeing Linda there, under the maples, diligently working on her studies.  At these moments, though neither Linda nor Sister Mary Catherine ever spoke of these moments,  Linda felt there was a deep connection between the two.  

It wasn't until years later, when Linda would return, seeking answers, direction, that she and Sister Mary Catherine would truly understand the connection they had developed there beneath the tall maple trees, a pane of glass always separating them.   This time, both Sister Mary Catherine and Linda stood beyond the pane, looking down, seeing yet another young women sitting under the tall maples, her back up against the trunk, now her favorite study spot.  This time, both smiling ever so slightly, before turning away to continue their discussion about when Linda would enter the convent.

If you enjoyed reading this short tale, check out Magpie Tales for others.  Willow leaves a weekly photo prompt to inspire what is within each of us.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

At the Shore

photo prompt from Olive O'Brien's Creative Writing Ink

She sat waiting for me at the shore,
Clouds, sunlight, colors welcoming more.

Time passed, blending with eternity,
Nature, beauty, glorious was she.

It was here, for the first time I met,
Peace, serenity... from a sunset.

If you enjoyed this poem prompted by this photo, please hop over to Olive O'Brien's Creative Writing Ink  to see more inspired thoughts.  Here is the link:   http://creativewriting.ie/2010/09/07/september-7th/ 

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Different Perspective...

Yesterday, my Roomie and I were in search of a relaxing day in slightly cooler temps than was our local weather.  We were again hitting close to triple digits, so off we went to explore out near the ocean as it is only about an hour away.

First we stopped in the small town near our destination, enjoying a few of the shops.  We went in search of a "gown" that my Roomie needed for an upcoming Halloween project for our residents where we work.  They put together a Haunted House last year that was a big hit.  So we made sure that our stops included some of the many Thrift stores along the main street there. 

Then being not far from where we had visited the Tidepools in my recent post... it is only a short jaunt up the road, we thought we would stop by there and do some additional exploring.  This is where we found a totally different perspective....

This trip....                                                                     Last trip...
It was rather foggy and the tides were very high with rip currents on this visit.  Left one with a very different feel of the beach, but the temperatures were in the low sixties, much better than the triple digits at home.

Mist filled the air,
Surfers paddled out beyond the breakers,
Seagulls blended into the foggy sky.

Still, a day at the shore, relaxing, enjoying the ever present beauty of nature and the water.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wasn't it Odd?

Maggie sat in the front seat of her blue Honda hatchback blankly staring into the darkness of the night, the parking lot full.  At the other end, the ambulance pulled up to the doors where the light was.  The driver jumped out and moved around to the back, opening the doors and pulling the gurney outward.  The frame dropped down and the bed moved easily on the wheels as the two walked up to the opening doors, and then they were gone into the light and the doors closed again.

Startled by the red flashing lights and the sound of the fire engine pulling up behind the ambulance, Maggie's thoughts came back to the present moment.  Realizing she had sat there in the car for a while, she reached forward to the keys dangling from the column and turned, now also hearing the familiar whir of the engine.  She pulled the gear shift back, placing it into the D slot, and slowly pulled away from the space.  As she turned onto the road, there was complete darkness except for the stripe down the middle.   She drove slowly over the ten mile stretch, her mind continuing to replay the events since the phone call at 1:30AM.  

Yes, they were keeping him overnight for observation.  Yes, when his head hit the counter as he fell backwards, he passed out.  YES, how fortunate that when he had walked in with the groceries, he had missed closing the door to the apartment all the way, leaving it ever so slightly ajar.  Who would have known he was hurt?  What if his neighbor had not come home at such a late hour, shortly after he had?  All the what if's played through her mind as she drove slowly down the road.  What if she had not given the neighbor her number when he went out of town last month - just in case of an emergency?  

Turning carefully into the narrow driveway, she pulled up close to the shelves in the back along the wall at the end.  She reached over for her purse, not finding it on the seat next to her.  The sun was beginning to creep up over the mountains behind her own apartment building.  There was more light as she turned and looked into the back seat.  Yes, the purse was there and her jacket. 

As she entered the building she climbed the stairs to the second floor, fumbled with the keys, her hand shaking as she placed the key into the slot.  Opening the door, she noticed the sun shining it's red rays through from the patio door.  She walked over to the door, dropped her purse and jacket on the counter and looked toward the rising sun, now peeking brightly over the top of the mountain behind the building.  As she turned back toward the livingroom, something caught her eye.  

There on the patio table, laying underneath the apple she had pulled from the small tree.  Vanity Fair.   It now seemed like a lifetime ago when she had written that story.   Suddenly she felt her legs weaken, she leaned forward catching the chair and pulling herself onto it.  She sat there looking blankly at the apple, at the magazine with her story in it. 

How could she have known?  Was it only coincidence?  What brought those words to her paper so many years ago?   Wasn't it odd that she had written this story so long ago, and now, when after years of attempts at getting it accepted, that her brother would fall while putting up groceries?  Just like in the first version of her story...  And on the very same day her story hit the newstands?  Wasn't it odd?

Written for and inspired by Magpie Tales by Willow at http://www.magpietales.blogspot.com/