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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….

25 comments:

Abhilasha-The Desire said...

This is so heart touching, Reflections... specially the last part.. my heart goes out for the li'l girl.. Fabulously you brought in two pictures, specially the lamp... Excellent magpie

gautami tripathy said...

I am looking forward for more..

doomed if I do, doomed if I don't

Leo said...

touching, emotional.. you've done a wonderful Magpie, Reflections!!

My Magpie

Tumblewords: said...

Tender and poignant. Nicely written!

kathi harris said...

I feel it 4 all of them. The previous accident is certainly taking its toll, & now Jack.

Gd magpie.

Stafford Ray said...

This is too hard, waiting a whole week in suspense. I think the only thing to do is to put up a prompt that shows Jack back on his feet!

Reflections said...

Thank you all so much.

@ Stafford... my intention was to write on and post several parts this week, but life and work has pulled me away more than I would have liked.

Hopefully I will find more moments to fill so the suspenseful wait will be a bit more fulfilled with the next installment.

kathew said...

great read- more please soon! and thanks for your nice comments on my blog

Brian Miller said...

fabulous continuation...you leave us so full of emotion there in the end as well...lots of hear t in your magpie...

nimaruichi said...

Fantastic use of magpies, the way each story in the series stands on its own and yet makes a complete whole. Can’t wait to see where the gremlins finally take us.

Alakaline said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alakaline said...

Very touching. And the way you have depicted colors and textures..
The end it lingers in the mind.

Angie Muresan said...

I like the way you've done this. Two prompts in one... Simply wonderful!

Friko said...

yes, I want more.

Jim Swindle said...

Compelling.

Systematic Weasel said...

A very touching piece! Excellent magpie! =)

-Weasel

Ana said...

Such a sad tale - even more so with the fog and the dog and the family complications.

Myrna R. said...

First time on your blog. I find your writing compelling. It's great how you weave two prompts into your story.

Enjoyed it very much.

R. Burnett Baker said...

So well written! I'm looking forward to part 4.....!

Rick

christine said...

Wonderful story, you're certainly a story writer, are we going to get the next installment? I do hope so

Rogue said...

Wow! What a great story! More please.

willow said...

This is such a touching piece, Reflections. Looking forward to the next chapter.

Carrie Burtt said...

Now waiting for more!! :-)

Reflections said...

Thank you all for your comments. I truly appreciate everyone's interest in and input about my writing, constructive or otherwise.

Lena said...

Thank goodness there was part 3 after the poem! I thought for a minute there that was all we were getting....lol

This story is shaping out wonderfully, I wish my mind would produce similar.