How To Find What You Came Here For

Welcome to the worlds that populate my brain!
The short stories you find here are the product
of a vastly overactive imagination
powered by coffee and M&Ms.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Anchors Aweigh, My Boy

Source: via  Pinterest
When my first son was born, I have to admit that I didn't really give a great deal of thought to what he would be when he grew up.  Mostly I was concerned with navigating the suddenly slippery track of parenthood, and at the time it seemed like college and adulthood were entirely too far away to concern me.

That was about five minutes ago.

It was also nineteen years ago.

Time, in a mother's mind, is amazingly malleable as it turns out.  Something like emotional Silly Putty: it stretches and bounces and picks up impressions as it goes, and it cannot be counted on to be a reflection of reality in any case.

Last night my little blond-haired boy sat on my lap so I could read "The Hobbit" to him.  *Boing* goes the Silly Putty...and today he finished his third semester of college.

It may be his last semester of college for a while.  It may be his last semester of college ever.  The first year and a half of college didn't exactly go according to plan.  And by plan, I mean the vague idea I'd nurtured that my brilliant offspring would breeze through college, find his dream career, meet a nice girl, get married, give me beautiful grandchildren, and live happily ever after.

You know, THAT plan.

The "breeze through college" phase of the plan hit a snag almost immediately.  He had trouble with his roommate, who was apparently majoring in partying.  Then, through one thing and another, he effectively failed most of his classes despite being exceedingly smart.  He made some questionable choices with what little money he had, so by the time he got to the end of this last semester he didn't have enough to pay his portion of tuition for the spring semester.  We don't have it either, since that winning lottery ticket continues to remain elusive.

Which leads to the reason for the title of this post, and the cute little Lego sailor picture.  My baby boy is joining the Navy.

I have mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, he's my baby boy and I don't want anybody yelling at him but me.

On the other hand, someone else yelling at him might make an impression where I have, apparently, failed.

On the one hand, I don't want him to be put into a position where he might be in danger.

On the other hand, it seems extremely hypocritical to say that I support and appreciate those who serve our country in the military and then turn around and say, "Not MY son!"  Why not my son?  Is the love I have for him somehow more intense or valuable than the love of those mother's whose sons have already chosen to serve?  I don't think so.  Love isn't something to be measured or compared; it is what it is.

Regardless of my mixed feelings (Silly Putty in a blender comes to mind), he's talking to the recruiter tomorrow.  If everything works out, he'll be heading off to boot camp in the next few months. 

I have high hopes and deep anxiety in equal measure...which, now that I think about it, is pretty much how I felt on the first day of kindergarten, the first day of middle school, the first day of high school, and the first day of college. It's probably how I'm going to feel on the day he gets married and on the day his first child is born.

Anchors aweigh, my boy. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Home For The Holidays

A friend on Facebook posted this picture of her three-year-old daughter talking to her dad today.

The kid is adorable: a curly-haired moppet that you see from the back, proudly showing her daddy the picture she drew that day.

Her daddy is a handsome man, smiling and clearly enjoying his daughter.

The little girl, her older sister, and her mommy are all right here in North Carolina.

Her daddy is in the Middle East somewhere, serving in the military.

The wonder of technology lets them talk, and enjoy some sense of closeness during the holidays.  It's not the same as being together - he won't be there to help put toys together (and for some reason girl's toys seem to need a lot of putting together), he won't be there to watch them unwrap their presents, he won't hold them in his lap at church on Christmas Day.  They'll see his face and hear his voice, and that will have to be enough.

I look at this picture and I know that it doesn't matter how I feel, personally, about any military action.  How I feel won't make it possible for the Daddy in this picture to be with his family on Sunday morning.  It won't make the separation easier for them.  So, whether I support the decisions our politicians have made or not, I will support the men and women who have chosen to serve in our military...and know that there is no expression of appreciation that could possibly be enough.

I'll be saying a special prayer for my friend this year, while she copes with a Christmas without her husband.  I'll be praying for the families of all of the men and women serving in the military, who can't be together for Christmas this year.  And I'll be giving thanks that we have families willing to make a sacrifice I can barely imagine, to serve our country.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Party Time!

As many of you know (or might have guessed by the badge on my blog), I participated in the NaNoWriMo challenge this year.  I started writing on November 1, stopped writing on November 30, and somehow (don't ask me how), I managed to produce a little over 50 thousand words.  *cue party music*

Here's the thing, though.

Since I've started this blog I have discovered something about myself:  It's not enough just to write.  I want someone to READ what I've written.  I want a reaction--and it doesn't matter what kind, either.  Positive, negative, just plain weird...I covet them all.

I have other creative outlets.  I crochet.  I will knit under duress.  I sew very occasionally.  I can embroider and do counted cross stitch.  I love to take photographs.

But in none of these endeavors do I crave the viewpoint of anyone else.  I am happy to finish a project and send it off without another thought.  Exclamations of appreciation are nice, but not essential.

Not so with my writing.  An audience (appreciative or otherwise), is vital to my process.

This has proven to be a challenge in regards to NaNoWriMo.  For the first time I have produced what might be considered a "novel."  (In fact, it is a novel, albeit one that is a few chapters short of resolution.)  But, if I want to follow what I consider to be a natural progression toward actual publication (coming to a bookstore near you!), I can't post it here, on my blog. 

Since I can't post it here, I am forced to turn to the captive audience authors have relied on since the first hieroglyph was carved into a cave wall:  family and friends.  Unfortunately, it is turning out to be surprisingly difficult to find friends or family willing to read a 30-35 chapter novel (roughly the length of the average romance).  I strongly suspect this reluctance stems from the fear that what I've written will be absolute crap, and they'll have to find something positive to say about it.

Point in fact, none of my family or friends have read it, although not through lack of trying on my part.  Which  means that the only feedback I've gotten from this point is from my poor, long-suffering husband...and he wants to keep his eyebrows badly enough that his objectivity may be questionable.

There has been a tiny break in the clouds, however!  Tonight was the wrap party for our local group of NaNoWriMo participants.  We brought excerpts from our novels and read them over dinner and a fair amount of laughter.  I was able to read the prologue to my novel, and hear what others have written. 

For that moment...brief, and fraught with the tension of an extreme dislike for public novel enjoyed a taste of freedom. 

It was enough.  For now.

I can go back and finish those last couple of chapters, in which my plucky heroine successfully hosts Thanksgiving dinner for friends without burning down her house, resolves her issues with her family (maybe), ends world hunger, and brings about world peace.  Well, the first two, anyway!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Not Exactly Hallmark

That’s it, we’re done.
No more chances,
No more glances,
We’ve had our fun.

We started hot,
But now we’re not.
Cooling desires
Turned us into liars,
Neither thinking we’d be caught.

Good-bye my lover,
No need to hover.
Let’s both be on our way,
Nothing more to say,
We’ve no secrets left to discover.

I’ll think of you fondly,
I could say,
But that would be a lie.
Rather I’ll note,
That as regrets go,
You’re fairly far down the line.

This post is a response to a writing prompt from Write On Edge:  "This week, we’d like you to write a post – fiction or creative non-fiction – which begins with a countdown. “Three, two, one.” You pick what the countdown is for. The ideas above are just suggestions. Use your imagination and have fun with it!"

In this poem I was aiming for a sense of cold dismissal at the end of a relationship between two people, neither of whom have behaved particularly well.  What were your impressions?  Let me know in the comments! 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Nothing Like Family

“Hey, can we come get the boys for a play date?”

A simple request from my husband's sister-in-law, one we were eager to agree to.  The next day was Michael’s third birthday party, and we still had some things to pick up—which meant a long walk to the store in cold January weather.

We got home exactly at 7:00pm.  The kids were supposed to be back at 7:00, so we were expecting to see my brother-in-law or his wife waiting for us.  We called to see if we’d missed them.

Dan’s brother answered the phone.

“No, we’re not quite done yet.  We’ll have them back in a little bit.”

When the knock came, Dan opened to door to see his brother and our two boys standing on our step.  Aaron’s little five-year-old face was streaked with tears, and his breathing was jagged.  In front of them was a stack of toys…the obvious detritus of a birthday party.

Dan sent the kids upstairs.  When he turned back to his brother, I saw the unfamiliar flush of anger on his face.

“We’re having a birthday party tomorrow—we’ve already got the cake made.”

His brother shrugged.  “We took care of it,” he remarked, and walked away.

Later, after the worst of the anger and hurt burned away, cold reality set in.  Our oldest had begged to call us, upset that everyone was at a party his mom and dad weren’t invited to…they’d ignored him.
“I’m done,” I said.  “I’m sorry.  You can keep dealing with these people, they’re your family—I won’t stop you—but the boys and I can’t.  Not after this.  I can’t trust them, and that’s not healthy.”

“I know.  I never thought they’d do anything to hurt the boys, but they just did.”  Dan met my eyes.  “We’re all done.”

This post is a response to a prompt from Write On Edge to write a memoir piece about cleaning house, figuratively speaking.

Up until this incident, everything my husband’s family had done had been directed at me or Dan, and we thought we were handling it.  (We were SO wrong!)  This opened our eyes.  Aaron’s tears started up again the next night when we had the birthday party we’d planned, and it was just us and a LOT of homemade cake and ice cream (we'd planned on having Dan's parents, his grandfather, his brothers, and his sister-in-law there, but of course, they'd all been at the other party).  It seems so minor, I suppose, but we weren’t waiting around for major.

We were done…for a long time.  We cut off all contact with my husband’s family.  We moved from Wyoming to North Carolina without telling anyone except my family.  It wasn’t until my husband’s grandfather passed away a few years ago that lines of communication were opened again.  We’ve forgiven them, even though they've never apologized and I doubt they see anything wrong in what they did that night...much less everything that happened before.  We will never trust them completely.  We can’t.

People ask, “How can you just cut yourself off from family like that?”

Simple.  You clean house.  We wouldn’t keep toxic mold around our kids, why would we keep a toxic relationship around them?  My only regret is that we gave them the opportunity to hurt our kids first.

Once again, thank you for stopping by and sharing my life with me!  Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  Have you had to clean house to evict a toxic family member or friend?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ghosts of Christmas Past

The doorbell rang, sending the idiot dog into a frenzy of barking.  John reached for the paper towels and followed the cheerful golden retriever to the door, mopping up puddles of liquid excitement as he went.

“Hi Dad,” his daughter greeted him.  “Sorry about the doorbell.  I just…I guess it still feels a little weird to just walk in.”

“No problem…gave the dog a thrill.”  He gave her a one-armed hug.

“So how is Toby doing?”  She leaned down to pet the dog, just barely a year old, relieved that her dad had company in the new house.

John quirked an eyebrow at the grinning dog.  His daughter had talked him into adopting him, naming him Toby after a cartoon dog she’d loved as a child.  He had to admit, the idiot was keeping him busy, mostly buying shoes and drywall to replace what the dog destroyed.

“He’s fine.  Cheerful,” he said.  And dumb as a box of rocks, he added to himself.

“We’re planning on having Christmas dinner about seven, and I was thinking you could spend the night so you’ll be there when the kids open their presents, OK?”  She watched him closely.

“Sounds good,” he agreed.  He could feel the awkwardness between them, but he was helpless to change it.  His wife had always been the link that helped them connect.

Her task complete, his daughter hugged him and let herself out.  John stood at the window and watched her drive away. 

“She’s worried about me, Becca,” he spoke, staring out at the bare trees shivering in the wind.  “Our first Christmas without you…I guess we’ll figure it out.”

He ran a hand over the head of the dog leaning against his leg, lost in the memory of happier times.  Outside the window, snow began to fall.

This post is a response to a prompt from Write On Edge:
"We’d like you to craft a piece of fiction or creative non-fiction around the holiday season, keeping in mind that for some people “the holiday season” begins around Halloween and doesn’t end until well after the New Year is underway.  The piece should begin with “The doorbell rang” and end with “snow began to fall.”  The middle is up to you, and the entire thing should be under 300 words."

Thanks for stopping by, and please let me know what you think in the comments!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Get The Number Of That Truck, Please?

I can't remember what we were talking about.

We'd just dropped our youngest son off at the elementary school, and we were waiting to turn left to head up the road to the middle school to drop off our oldest son.  Dan and I were both working at the high school, so we might have been talking about work.  Maybe.  I can't remember.

My turn signal was on, and I was waiting patiently for a space in oncoming traffic so I could turn.  The road we were on is a busy two-lane highway, but we were half a block from the school so we were still in the school zone.  The route we were taking is the same one lots of parents had taken and were planning to was familiar.

I chatted with my husband, sitting in his usual spot--the passenger seat.  Our oldest was quiet in the back seat right behind Dan, he might have been dozing.  He did that in the mornings once he became a teenager.  He might have been.  I can't remember.

I am a safe driver.  I maintain a constant vigilance, fully aware of the idiocy of my fellow drivers.  My driving record was perfect; the only accident I'd ever had involved accidentally backing into a car less than a month after I'd gotten my driver's license nearly two decades earlier.

I saw a gap ahead, so I took my foot off the brake.  Our Taurus was heavy, I wasn't worried about rolling.  We'd just paid it off a couple of months before; it was the first car we'd owned that was almost new when we bought it.  It was my dream car.

My round of mirror checks, one of several while we waited to turn, took me to the rear view mirror.  I might have seen the pick-up truck.  I think I did.  I can't remember.

The volunteer fireman waiting at the stop sign at the same intersection did.  Experience had him reaching for his cell phone and dialing those three little numbers.  By the time he finished dialing, it was over.

I didn't have time to warn my husband.  I didn't have time to reach for my son.  I had time to tighten my hands on the steering wheel and turn it to the front yard of the house on my right and pray I could keep us out of oncoming traffic.

I can't remember what we were talking about.

I can remember hearing the briefest squeal of panicked brakes...too brief.  I can remember hearing a noise so loud, it seemed like the world was ending.  I can remember saying a thousand wordless prayers in the brief gap between.

Everything stopped moving a fraction of a second later.  Time stopped, shock chased every sound away.  I looked at my husband, who looked back at me without speaking.  I spun to check on our son, sitting dazed in the back seat and covered in chunks of safety glass.

Sound rushed back, and I popped out of the car and onto the front yard.  The little Toyota pick-up truck, raised up on a lift kit for mudding, sat dead center in the intersection.  Its knobby front wheels tilted out drunkenly on a snapped axel, dropping the front end so that it looked like a puppy ready to play.  The teenager who'd been driving opened the door, still talking into his cell phone.

If the truck hadn't fishtailed when the kid had slammed on his brakes, his high speed and lack of bumper would have carried it up and over the trunk...and into the cabin of our car.  Instead, he'd soared up and over the corner, leaving paint from his truck on the roof along the driver's side.

PhotobucketWe lost the car.  We could have lost a lot more.  I thought every moment of that crash would be imprinted on my brain forever.
But now...

I can't remember what we were talking about.

This prompt is a memoir piece in response to a flash prompt from Write On Edge, to write about a memory the word CRASH evokes in ten minutes or less.  This memory is never far from my mind, even though it happened six years ago.  How about you?  What event from your past did you think would be permanently engraved on your brain...but now is fading?

Thanks for stopping by, and please tell me what you think in the comments!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Waves Of Grace

The hair beneath her fingers was incredibly soft and baby fine. She pulled the comb through the silvery white strands, carefully working out knots, taking care not to yank or press too hard on a scalp made tender by age.

The powder of the dry shampoo she'd used was worked out as she combed, leaving a dingy snowfall on the bright pink towel she'd draped over thin shoulders.

As she worked, she hummed an old hymn under her breath, sparking a rare flash of memory.

"You gonna sing in church on Sunday, Grace?" the shaky voice asked, pale blue eyes meeting hers in the mirror.

Her name wasn't Grace - that name belonged to the woman's daughter, gone almost fifteen years now - but she smiled and nodded anyway, and kept humming.

Strands of hair were worked over soft foam curlers. Hard plastic would have worked better, but they left bruises on a scalp that was easily damaged and long to heal.

The conversational dam had been breached; words flowed freely, if not always coherently. The nurse in the corner had told her that the woman was silent every other day of the week, so she enjoyed the sound of the light voice even if she couldn't always understand what was being said.

She sprayed a watered-down setting solution on the curlers and moved to sit in front of the woman, gently taking each hand and working lotion into the parchment-paper skin while they waited for the solution to dry.

When the timer dinged, she rose to remove the curlers and comb out the waves into a style the woman had favored over sixty years ago.

"Am I beautiful now?" the woman asked, peering into the mirror.

She kissed the wrinkled cheek. "You're always beautiful to me, Grandma."

This post is my response to a prompt from Write On Edge to write about hair.  This is a fictional story - coming off 30 days of fast and furious writing for NaNoWriMo, it was nice to settle back into the stricter craft of a short story!

Thanks for stopping by...and please let me know what you think in the comments!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Picture Perfect

I love to take pictures, but I will go to great lengths to avoid having my picture taken.

Despite my strong desire to avoid being photographed, it's nearly impossible to avoid completely.  Proof of that is a picture a friend took when I was in college. 

My friends surprised me with a birthday party, and someone snapped a picture as I walked through the door.  I wasn't prepared for a camera; I didn't realize the picture was being taken until the flash went off.  It was a completely candid shot, and it revealed more of me than I'm comfortable with even now, more than twenty years later.

There I am, standing in front of a door that has just shut behind me.

One hand is up, caught in the act of pulling my hair forward to my face.  I recognize it as a defensive maneuver; it bothers me that I felt the need for it in a room full of my friends.

I'm wearing baggy pants and an even baggier sweatshirt.  I wasn't skinny--I carried 135 pounds on a solid 5' 2" frame--but I remember feeling obscenely fat.  I'd kill to be that weight now.

My head is down, avoiding eye contact.  Again, a defensive move that makes me uncomfortable now.  An awkward smile is half-formed…I look ready to run.

I can be loud, funny, fearless.  I can be.  But it's just a well-crafted disguise, not who I am.  I put it on like other women put on makeup.

I am that awkward person in the picture, painfully shy because I've been surprised and haven't had time to put on the mask that makes me the person I'm supposed to be. 

This is why I hate having my picture taken--cameras can't be trusted to see the disguise.

This post is in response to a prompt from Write On Edge to write about a photograph of yourself in 300 words or less.  When you are captured in candid moments, what does the camera show that you'd rather it didn't?

Thanks for stopping by, and please tell me what you think in the comments! 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Open Letter To Reader's Digest

Dear Reader's Digest:

I started reading Reader's Digest about 35 years ago. My grandmother had a subscription, and she kept every copy in a headboard bookcase in her spare bedroom. When we visited, I would lay back on the bed and read through them one by one. I loved the stories, the articles, the anecdotes.

When I moved out of my parents' house, the first thing my mother did was get me a subscription to Reader's Digest. Since 1991, our family has looked forward to receiving the little package in the mail, and once our kids were old enough to read, it became a battle to be the first to read it.

I've watched the format of the magazine change over the years, with no small amount of trepidation. At first, the changes were small and easily adjusted to. Unfortunately, over the last year I have seen the number of pages devoted to advertising grow to alarming numbers.

My boys are now in high school and college. They grew up reading Reader's Digest every month, and fighting over the copy when it came. That stopped this year. Neither of them are interested anymore, and when asked the reasons they gave were simple: too many ads, and every issue is apparently the same (primarily, 10 things someone won't tell you--which was interesting the first ten or so times, but has since lost its appeal).

My last issue was the last straw for us. The articles, what there were of them, were small and poorly written. Quite honestly, I've seen blurbs on book jackets that were more detailed. Worse, I had to flip through four or five pages of ads to get to each article...sometimes even to get to the second page of the article I was reading.

My mother has maintained this gift subscription for me because she knew how much I've loved the publication. She renewed it for Christmas again this year, so I have one more year of receiving it. If the publication format doesn't improve--which would mean a return to the high quality of the articles, and a more reasonable advertising ratio--it will be my last.
 This is the letter I sent to what had been my favorite publication of all time.  Ever have something that you loved all through your childhood and teenage years (and even into your adulthood), changed beyond any recognition?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It Begins!

Dominique Hens
I've talked about getting a few chickens for a while now.  A co-worker got some a few years ago, and our neighbors at the time had show chickens.

(Seriously show in chickens that don't really lay eggs, and mostly exist just to be pretty.  Like show dogs, but with feathers.)

Where we were living at the time didn't seem like a great place to have chickens, though.  Our yard was relatively small, not fenced, and bisected by a steep hill.  Plus, we were relatively certain our landlord wouldn't be thrilled since we had to sort of talk them into guinea pigs (which somehow turned into a bunch of rats, a couple of rabbits, and three crazy dogs...which pretty much proves that we are the sort of tenants landlords have nightmares about).

Then we moved to our new place last spring.  We share a sprawling piece of land with a nice guy that lives in a camper out behind the big workshop between the house and a little barn.  One day, he came home with a day-old calf.  Momma had died during the birthing--which happens a fair bit, thanks in no small part to mankind's inability to stop fiddling with nature--so he brought it home to raise.  We've been calling it Dinner.

Anyway, the cow got me to thinking about chickens again.  This is not as nutty as some leaps my brain takes, in my opinion, since both animals are typically denizens of the farm yard.

I started doing some research into chickens and found out about heritage breeds.  Chicken breeds that were once common but have been edged out thanks to the modern world's demand for egg or meat production at the expense of the overall health of the animal providing it.  I liked some of the breeds, so I started looking at what it would take to keep a few for eggs.

Not much, it turns out.

Yeah, there's a reason that just a generation or two ago pretty much everyone had a chicken or two or twelve.  I talked to hubby about it, and was pleasantly surprised when he didn't freak out.  The cow's been a good influence (or a bad influence, I guess it depends on how you feel about farm animals when you don't live on an actual farm).

I started looking at chicken house designs, and for a while I was pretty excited about the chicken tractor (or ark) model.  Basically, a chicken house with it's own enclosure that moves around so your chickens don't kill all your grass.  Lots of different sizes and designs.  Neat.

Then I started looking at the cost of materials, and I wasn't completely happy with spending a couple hundred dollars minimum just to get going.  I was thinking about alternatives when I saw a stack of pallets in the warehouse at work.  There was a huge pile of them behind the building...sort of a landbased coral reef for weeds and critters.  When I asked if I could have some (or all) of them, I got a confused shrug and, "Knock yourself out."

About this time, we decided to visit a hatchery to see actual chickens.  We were operating on the theory that finding out that chickens actually gave us the creeps after we had four or five of them in our yard would be bad.  The place we went, Sumner-Byrd Poultry , was great!  Lots and lots of different chickens of all ages, and a lot of different set-ups for housing.  Best of all, we found out we kind of liked the little (and not so little) bird brains!

On the way home, we started talking about a chicken house and pen again.  The idea of spending money on fences (now that I had access to free wood), wasn't appealing.  As we rounded the far end of our very long driveway, I saw the dog run sitting on the corner of the property and a little lightbulb went off.  It was perfect.  15' x 20', fencing already in place with a door, and far enough from the house and any neighbors for comfort, and still close enough for convenience.

So here we are, at the beginning.  We're going to clean the dog run out, build the chicken house ('cause that'll be simple, right?), get the chickens, and then start collecting eggs.  Not lots of eggs, just a few.  But I'll know where they came from, and what the chickens that laid them ate.

What do you think?  Have we lost our minds?  Are we starting on the slippery slope to that never-never land of compounds and twelve year's worth of jam stored under the house?  Or does this sound like fun?

Thursday, November 17, 2011


This post is an interstitial piece:  it describes what happened between Side-By-Side where we meet Abraham and Sarah for the first time, and the next step for them in HopeYou may want to read both before you continue...but I hope the post will stand on its own if you'd rather not!

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Agency cars were always the same: white, state seal on the side, a little worn, and they all had a weird smell Isabelle had never been able to figure out, despite the number of times she’d ridden in one.

“Hey girl!  You ready for this?” Miss Angela was the happiest caseworker she’d had so far. 


And that pretty much took care of the conversation as far as Isabelle was concerned.  She stared out of the window from the back seat of the car and watched the houses go by.

The houses moved by quickly, and it was easy to imagine that they were the ones moving, and she was sitting still.  She played that game for a while, to entertain herself, imagining a world where the buildings moved and the cars stayed still.

She was only nine, but she’d made this ride six times…three that she remembered.  The bag with all of her stuff sat beside her, just like it always did.  The things inside had changed as she got older, but the only thing that changed about the bag was the name of the grocery store printed on it.

Miss Angela turned the car onto a quiet street, and nerves twisted Isabelle’s stomach.

Maybe this trip would be different.  Maybe this would be the last time she’d ride in the white car with four doors and a smell she couldn’t figure out.  Maybe.

The brakes squealed a little when Miss Angela stopped in the driveway, and Isabelle added the noise to the list of things that bothered her about agency cars, along with the creepy screech the door made when it was opened.

Miss Angela was talking to her on the way up to the door, but Isabelle tuned her out.  Maybe this was the last ride.  Maybe.

This post is a response to a prompt from Write On Edge - to write about a journey, a car trip, in 300 words or less.  I enjoyed going back to Abraham and Sarah's stories to tell Isabelle's story.

Thank you for taking the time to stop in and visit my little world, and as always, please let me know what you think in the comments!

Saturday, November 12, 2011


I was packing the suitcase when she came in, shoving clothes in without caring about being neat or wrinkling something…or even whether or not it was clean or dirty.

“Mom wants me to talk to you.”  She moved to the side to let my husband slide out to the safety of the living room.

“Great, talk then,” I shot a look at the Bible in her hand.  “But just you and me…don’t start on that sanctimonious crap.”

“Look, Mom thinks if we don’t get this straightened out, you won’t come to visit.” 

“Oh I’ll come, it just won’t be when you’re here.”  I concentrated on keeping my voice low and calm.  “We’ll trade off holidays.”

“That’s not what Mom wants.” She slid down the wall to sit on the floor and watch me pack.

“I really don’t care.  I moved 1700 miles to get away from people who thought it was acceptable to treat me like crap.”  I heard my voice shake, and added steel to it.  “I’m not gonna let you do the same thing and pretend it’s OK.”

“Maybe I was out of line, but…”

Maybe?  You don’t have any idea what our lives have been like, but you have no problem judging us…me!”  For the first time, all the hidden details poured out: the in-laws who hated my guts, endless struggles to make ends meet, the humiliation of welfare, the terror of a seriously sick baby and no insurance. 

Mercilessly, I compared my life to hers—supported by my parents until she and her husband could stand on their own.  Support I hadn’t thought to ask for, but they’d received without question, accepting it as their right.

The words stopped and we stared at each other across my suitcase, our relationship balanced in the silence.

“I’m sorry.”

This post is my response to a prompt from Write On Edge - we were asked to write a memoir piece on a pivotal conversation.

My sister and I are ten months apart (I'm the older one, thanks for asking).  We were as different as night and day growing up--even now it amazes me that two people, raised in the same house by the same parents at virtually the same time, can be polar opposites.

Hubby and I packed up our little family and ran from the state we loved to North Carolina.  We were following a job, it's true.  But more than that, we were looking for peace.  Nothing can twist you into a knot faster than family! 

Then, at our first Christmas with my whole family, I discovered that my sister had somehow gotten the impression that we were living some kind of fairy tale life out in Wyoming, sponging off welfare.  Nasty comments and little digs peppered the conversation like buckshot...until I snapped and did what I should have done all along.  I raised the curtain on the reality of our life.

We'd been too good at pretending everything was FINE.  Things are tough at the moment, but we're FINE.  I was mad and hurt--it wasn't until I started spilling the details that I realized I'd been expecting my family to know and understand our situation (and the stress we were under), when I'd never actually told them anything about it!

What about you?  Ever pretend everything is fine, only to get mad when you don't get the support you need...because it's not as fine as you're pretending?
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