Saturday, October 31, 2009


“She is a vision in blue. From her scrunchie to her glasses to her sweat shirt and jeans to her pre-teen attitude. I don’t know what to do with her anymore.” Viv confessed to Susie that night while doing dishes.

“Ship her off to boarding school,” Susie responded without a second thought. That is what she did with her daughter when she turned 11. “Country Creek Academy is lovely. They’re very prestigious. I could certainly put in a good word for you” Viv heard the clink of ice cubes in her glass as she set it on the the table.

Viv squeezed the sponge, watching the water run into the soap suds, leaving a small indent as evidence. She loved her friend dearly. They had known each other for years. But their parenting styles were drastically different. So were their socio-economic standings. “Oh, I don’t know Viv. It’s tough, I’ll grant you; I just don’t think boarding school is the right way to go.”

“Oh honey. It is so much simpler! Holly loves it. She has so many girlfriends and the teachers are all well credentialed.” She means well. She is doing what she believes is best for her child. Viv truly believes this.

Truthfully, Viv don’t think it is the right choice for any child, including hers. She would never tell Susie this though. “Call me selfish, but I don’t think I could survive only seeing my daughter on holidays and occasional weekends. It just wouldn’t work for me in the long run. I am always amazed at how you can do it!”

“Like I said darling, it is so much simpler. Someone else deals with the attitudes, makes sure she is doing well in school, etc. When we see each other, it is all fun and games. Shopping, movies, spa days! It’s a perfect relationship. All of the glory and none of the blood. Fabulous!” Susie is talking while swirling the remainder of her tea in her glass.

Viv knows she should ask Susie if she wants more, but is feeling petty and ignores the cues as she dries her hands and pulls up a chair to the table. “I understand what you are saying. I just don’t think it would work so well with Eva and I. Our relationship is different. Not so much friends as parent child. And I like it that way. I think if she went away and took her blue attitude with her, I would miss her and it.” She knows Susie thinks she is insane for keeping her daughter at home and wishes this conversation would end before she says something she regrets.

She hears a clinking and tinkling. Susie brightens and reaches for her Gucci handbag. She pulls out her cell phone, signaling with a finger that she needs to take the call. VIv is relieved. She knows that the call will take 15- 20 minutes and afterwards, Susie will have forgotten what they were talking about.

*** I wanted to do more with this story, but parental Halloween duties did not allow me to. As far as the other color prompts are concerned, I raise the white flag of surrender!***

Friday, October 30, 2009

She took my ladder......


"It had been tense in our house for a few years. Every one had to know; at least no one was surprised to find out about our divorce. We've been fighting over our property and financial issues for two years now. I am ready to be done! I want to just give in to all her demands so I can move on. But what kind of life would it be if I can't even afford my own apartment without having one or two roommates? That may be fine when you are in college or even just after, but not at 42 years old.

This whole thing is so frustrating and emotionally draining. I want the court system to work. Obviously, we can't figure it out between us. Neither of us thinks the other one has any sense and is relenting too little.

I am willing to give far more than is fair. I don't believe in alimony, but I won't stand in the way if it means this mess can be over. I will even accept taking on the entire balance of our credit card bills and some of her medical bills if needed. She can have pretty much any of the property, but I want to retain ownership of my family's heirlooms and the work items I use to make my income. I personally think this is incredibly generous.

But her demands go far beyond this. The bedroom vanity and mirror were never hers. They were bequeathed to me after my mother's death. It's true that she used it and I most likely will not. But, just like the china dishes I ate Christmas dinner on for the last 32 years, the memories and sentiments of my childhood show up in the carvings and it is my mother's face that I think of when I look into the mirror. And it is not a simple matter of one or two items like this. There are several.

Her demand for some of the workman's tools I use in my carpentry business will never do her any good. They are expensive and well worn in. They are vital to my livelihood and if alimony is considered, hers as well. Where as I can use them to make money, she will use them to..... I honestly don't know..... gloat? Feel triumphant? Nothing that would provide any kind of well-being to either of us.

Then there is the debt. Our debt is equally shared. We both made purchases on the credit cards. We have 15 years of married life stuff on those bills. It would be impossible to track back through all the bills and figure out who owes what. I don't want to take on all this debt myself. I don't believe I should have to. In my desire to rebuild my life, I will do it. The same goes for her medical bills. I am fortunate to have good health and I do feel empathetic to her rising number of health issues. I can't take it all on. I will take some of it in if it means I can leave this behind me.

The only thing I ask on this front is that you remember that I need to be able to have a dignified life. That, as a 42 year old with a good salary, I should be able to rent an apartment without relying on someone else to make payments in order to avoid eviction. That, I would like to go to a play and out to eat or to buy a plane ticket to visit my father so I can support him. Basically, I don't want to live in poverty in order to support, how is it phrased, 'the lifestyle she has become accustomed to.'

I don't think that I am asking to much. I have no choice but to trust that you will make fair and objective decisions. I await your ruling. Thank you for opening a new door in my life, wherever it may lead."


"Hey John. How are you?" I'm on the phone with a friend. I called him after reading the judge's ruling on my divorce.

"Not to bad. And yourself?" he says. He sounds calm. I can hear his kids laughing in the background. It sounds like they are poolside in his backyard. For the first time, I understand the look another of my friends gave me when I told her my only regret was that I did not have children with my wife.

"It's done! Everything is official. Whew." I am relieved and nervous. I'm not sure how to navigate the future.

"So, what did she get?" he asks. He has been really supportive through this. A good friend who would point out when I was being an ass and when I needed to fight harder. I have appreciated this a great deal.

'Well, I kept the debt and she took my ladder." I smile. It's not over, but it is the closest I have been.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


My head is splitting. I feel horrible. There are voices around me; they sound rushed. No, they are slurred. I think… I’m not sure. All I can feel is pain. A pain so great I want to vomit, but am immobilized. My sight is hazy at best. No, cloudy is a better description. Clouds like those that bring heavy rain right before the deep black clouds release the pent up hostility found in lightning and thunder. I am a fan of these storms and the rains, but I would prefer to watch them than to feel as if they are in my head. I close my eyes. I am cold. The pain is ceasing although the feeling of urgency is increasing. The lessening pain is better. It is comfortable. I am sure it is right and I nestle into it, letting go of all the stimuli bustling around me.

I’ve been sleeping. I feel heavy as if I am waking from a drug induced sleep. It is taking me a long time to twitch a finger, take a deep breath, and pull myself through the thickness of this sleep. It’s what I imagine swimming through quicksand would feel like. My movements are slow. I am afloat, but there is tragically little progress made from stroke to stroke. It is hard work and the reward is life if you can make it to the other side. I can’t open my eyes yet, but I feel a deep silence. I choose to lay and listen to it. I stop struggling and just listen. I don’t sink, but can feel the heaviness all around me. I do this for what feels like an eternity. The oppressive weight seems to dissipate from me slowly. Where there is room, it is replaced by a warmth, a calm, and a lightness I don’t think I have ever experienced before. I drift off to sleep, caught between a heaviness and a lightness.

I wake again. I am all light and warmth and calmness. I can breathe easily. I don’t want the sensation to end so I choose not to open my eyes. I don’t know how long I lay like this, waiting for a disruption, something that will force me to open my eyes and rejoin society. It is a long time and no disruption comes. As glorious as it feels to sit here, I am becoming bored with it. I am questioning if I forgot to turn my alarm on and if I have slept all day. No, it must still be early. My boss would have called if I was late for work.

Wait. Maybe it is Saturday. Yes, that’s it. It must be Saturday. I remember leaving the office party last night a little too inebriated, perhaps. And then I remember my splitting headache. The result of a serious, serious hangover. Oh God, I hope I didn’t make a fool out of myself! I can’t even remember how I got home. This is not a good sign. I open my eyes.

Everything is bright white. Bright is not the right term. It is blinding. More so than looking at the sun. I have never experienced anything like this. I blink in the bright light, trying to focus my eyes. Everything looks soft, fluffy, as if it all blurs together. It takes a while, but I am finally able to keep my eyes open without needing to shield them. I feel as though I should be alarmed as my vision still has not cleared. I am not. I still am filled with calm. I vow to never drink again, at least not as heavily.

I stand up slowly and find that I am still as light as a feather. I could get use to this. My feet are on something cool and I wonder what I have left on the floor. Whatever it is, it is extremely smooth. I step back a couple of steps and look down. I can’t make out the object, but I am relieved to see a color other than white and more white. Whatever it is looks yellow. I bend down to get a closer look. It is a yellow the color of gold. The gleam is startling amongst all the white. I touch it, running my hand over it. I can feel little grooves where it hooks to what looks like more little yellow bricks. I continue to inspect it and smile at myself. If I didn’t know better, I would say I was walking on the gold paved streets of heaven.

A sudden flash rushes through my mind. I’m waving good-bye to my co-workers. “Tata” I call, still waving the goofy yellow Easter kerchief giving by the company to all the men and women who attended. It’s no longer an image in my head. I am experiencing this moment again. “Tata” I call again as I step backwards. My heel feels like it has broken and I begin to tumble backwards. I see the hands of my co-workers reach for me from across the lawn. Their faces show fear. Some have averted their eyes. I am still falling. I look to my right and see the headlight of the car. I hear a deafening squeal of tires as they slam on the brakes.

And then I see white again. I see fluffiness. I feel the coolness beneath my feet and am staring at those little interlocking yellow bricks of pure gold. I cry and my tear drops glimmer off of the yellow road. I am dead. I don’t know how long I cry for. Time doesn’t matter here. I know this from Sunday school teachings. As I cry, I am flooded with memories of my life. I see how my choices have affected the people I love and hate. I am embarrassed by some things and proud of others. It is a slow emptying of my life on Earth. A slow realization of how I made a difference on the road.

When I stop crying I am filled with a peace and a pleasure at how much value I added in comparison to that I took from others. I am whole in a way I have never experienced. The yellow of that road speaks to me. It tells me that I have done what I can. I have a great longing to continue to grow from where I left off. And I know the only way I can do that is to follow this ribbon of yellow to my new home, where I will create a life for myself that I could never have imagined on Earth.


I am stuck. I am supposed to write on the color orange. The problem I have with doing this assignment is that I feel all of my writing has become the same. I am seeking a way to stretch out, try other styles, but “orange” isn’t doing it for me. It doesn’t fit right… not the color, but the problem. With a prompt as simple as “orange”, I should be able to take it in any direction I want. And I can. I could write about orange pumpkins, fall leaves, glorious sunsets, stories of misapplied self-tanning lotion, or a simple mitten found after the cold snows melt. But they all sound the same in my head. They all echo familiar story lines, the same voice, and the typical ending. Even this little rant sounds like everything else. So, instead of writing a story or poem about orange, I am writing a letter or plea to help.

Someone, give me a plot and perspective involving the color blue. Maybe I can do better then! Sorry “orange”. You are not resonating a winning story within me!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


*** I did Wednesday's color because it immediately triggered this story. My co-worker's actions are completely made up, just in case you remember who went with me to this conference.***

“What if I told you it was Chinese?” the speaker questions. I look around the room. I am now one of many who have their hand up. A couple of clues ago, almost no one would raise their hand, including me. She wants to know who would be willing to eat what she has in the lunch box. Each clue seems to put more hands in the air. A few drop down each time, but not nearly as many as went up.

I am attending a conference on eating disorders. I work with some children who have nutritional deficiencies or eating issues largely blamed on their disability or the methods their parents are using to control the symptoms. I don’t know it now, but this one day conference will greatly shape how I teach my children about healthy eating rituals. Other parents will think I am nuts. In the end I will be rewarded with two children who have very healthy eating habits. But right now, she is experimenting with me…. and the rest of her audience.

She is entertaining. I think her name is Susan. I am not sure because I arrived back to my seat after introductions had been made. It is easy to listen to her talk. She shares a lot of personal stories. What makes her opinion so valid to me is not her credentials or experiences, it is her ability to relate the cause and effect; to explain the why and the how of what she is saying. I have always been a fan of this kind of teaching. “What if I told you it was served room temperature?” My hand goes up again. The overall numbers seem to stay pretty even. My co-worker leans over and whispers, “If it is Chinese, I don’t care how it is served. I am not going to eat it.” I smile at her comment and wonder if she ever eats anything.

Susan smirks after surveying the hands in the air. I know she will be using this experiment to prove a point later. I am curious as to what it will be. She begins talking about food sensitivities. Not the kind of sensitivities that go with allergies. She is talking about our sensitivity to temperature. How does the nursery rhyme go again? Some like it hot. Some like it cold. Some like it in a pot nine days old. That kind of sensitivity. It makes sense to me. My husband and I are on different planets when it comes to things like this.

“What if I told you it is green?” Almost everyone’s hands go down. There are maybe a dozen hands still in the air. Mine is not among them. I was so sure she was describing a fortune cookie that I feel almost insulted by her newest assertion. Point proven, even a color can cause food sensitivity. I am incredibly curious to know what it is. My cell phone vibrates. It is a 911 page from the office. I whisper to my co-worker that I need to call them back and quietly slide out of the room unnoticed.

I reach the lobby area and call back. I give them a temporary solution that will last until I come in the next morning. I turn to go back to the presentation, hoping I haven’t missed the answer. My co-worker is sitting on a deep cushioned couch. All of our stuff is piled on the chair next to her. “Is it over?” I say, confused as to her presence.

“No,” she says and fakes a yawn. “It’s just so boring I thought I would fall asleep somewhere more comfortable than a folding chair and banquet table. Do you want sit and rest or are you ready to leave?” Although I have a lot of respect for her ability to do her job, moments like these drive me nuts. I don’t know how she has such great relationships with her clients when she can be so clueless to the feelings of her co-workers. I am ready to tell her to chill out here and that I am going to go finish listening to the presentation when a small group of women walk by. I overhear the tall women made even taller by her high heels say, “Oh my God. I so could have gobbled that right up! Too bad she only had a few for those few who stuck with it.”

My co-worker hears it to. She is on her feet and putting her coat on. “Looks like its over. Let’s go!” I walk over and pick up my coat. As I swing it around my shoulders I can’t help but think, “What Chinese food is rolled by hand, crunchy, served room temperature, and green?” Damn my pager and damn the color green. I’ll never know what it was. I pick up my purse and notebook, turning around, “Lets go then.”

Monday, October 26, 2009

My Name

I don't know why my parent's chose my name. Perhaps because they liked the idea of popularity, something they probably never experienced. I do know that my name was on the Top 10 List for the year I was born. It may have been number 1.

Some may think this would be fun. Look at it from my perspective: No one ever says I have a pretty/ beautiful name. Because it is common. I have never been in a class or work environment without at least one person to share my name with. And out of our small group of friends, two other's share my name.

I wanted to do better for my own children. I chose old fashioned names that I heard very infrequently. Of course, they each ended up on the Top 10m List for the year they were born. Sorry kids!

*** This prompt was just to make sure I stayed on top of my writing. If I miss too many days, I loose my motivation. If you are wondering if you missed a prompt, you did not. This was taken from the One Minute Writer****

Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence,

My husband and I left our children with friend’s we trusted to care for them while we went to a play some distance away. When we returned, we were informed that our eldest son, whom is 4 years old, was spanked for crying at bedtime. This was not a casual remark, but one made from a heartfelt position of regret, embarrassment, and sorrow. It came from the husband, who intervened, and not his wife, who hit our child. We are adamantly against spanking in general and this is well known amongst our friends. Two months have passed. We reconciled with the husband quickly, grateful that he stepped in and stood up to his wife on behalf of our son. I can’t imagine how difficult of a situation he was in.

Last night we spoke with the two of them for the first time. It was comfortable talking with him and awkward, to say the least, in speaking with her. She appeared remorseful, but I don’t trust it. I feel as if it was born more out of her husband’s anger over her actions and our avoidance of socializing with them than her actual actions. She asked, “How can you ever forgive me when I can’t forgive myself?” I responded honestly. “I can’t. But I can move on and be in the same room with you. That's at least a step forward.” My husband, meanwhile, hugged her and told her it was okay and everyone makes mistakes.

Now my husband and I are at odds. He feels I was too harsh and that it is in the past. After all, she apologized. We, meaning the wife and I, have never had a close relationship. I don’t feel this relationship is worth salvaging, but I am willing to be courteous at social gatherings. I would have been fine never speaking with her again if the relationship my husband had with her husband wasn’t so important to the two of them.

Should I have held my tongue? How can I reason this with my husband? Do I need to make amends and fake a friendliness that I do not feel?


Friendly or Not

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A 10 Minute Fall Memory

It’s 50 degrees outside and the stars are out. We have Hershey’s chocolate bars, graham crackers, and a variety of marshmallow choices. Jeff is cutting wood left over from construction projects in the garage. In about 15 minutes, two other couples will be over to the house. I am rapidly picking things up while playing Mommy Says with the kids. I love nights like this and am fortunate enough to have them frequently, especially in the fall.

‘Mommy Says find your shoes!” The kids are running around looking for their shoes. I’m not sure I know where they are and am hoping that they will have a bit of luck and save me precious time once our company arrives.

THUMP! I jump at the sound and look to where it seems to have come from. Jeff has just dropped an armful of wood on the deck. He is carrying the copper fire bowl to the back corner of the yard, presumably to dump the ashes and accumulated water. “I found one Spiderman shoe!” my son yells. My daughter echoes his words, but has nothing in her hands. More parroting. “Mommy Says find a matching shoe!” I call back in response.

“I’m done with this game!” the four year old responds, arms crossed over his chest after mercilessly dumping the one found shoe in the middle of the floor. “Sweetheart, I really need your help. We have friends coming over and when they get here, we are going to go outside and have a fire. But if you don’t have your shoes, then you and I will have to stay inside.” He growls in response, but starts looking for his other shoe. “Thank you,” I say sincerely.

The door bell rings and our first of two couples have arrived. There are greetings and well wishes passed around. The four year old returns with the missing shoe in hand. I sit on the floor and help he and his sister put their shoes and coats on. Then I search for my own shoes. The door bell rings again and the party is complete. Everyone is standing out back on the deck. I am almost ready to come out with a slew of drinks. I breathe in deeply and smell the fire, pausing a moment to listen to the playful bantering and laughter between the adults and the begging for S’mores arising from my children. Smiling, I walk out and begin to add memories to those that have already conglomerated themselves around the fall fires in our backyard.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Magic Box

I am ready to open the magic box. I must figure out what is held within through the clues inscribed ever so carefully on the outside. If I am correct, the box will open easily and I may claim the contents as my own. Then, I may add my own item and pass the box along to a new friend.

The clues read as follows:

It looks like the galaxy in a child’s illustration.

It sounds like popcorn popping.

It smells like a new pair of dishwashing gloves.

It feels like I am taking a bathing suit off on a child. My hands stick and glide in the same manner.

It tastes like dryness embodied.

It reminds me of chaos and laughter.

It makes me feel both young and old.

It is…..

I think about this for a long time. Weeks. My son and I go to the dentist and at the end of the appointment, he picks a clear rubber bouncy ball filled with scattered star stickers, some bent and many tips broken as his prize. Immediately, I know this is my prize too. I rush home and make the guess to the magic box. I carefully lift the lid cautiously. There is an identical bouncy ball waiting inside. I take it out and explore it. I can see the galaxy and smell the dishwashing gloves. I rub my hand across it and the movement is stuttered, much like taking a wet suit off of my child. I turn my back and lick it. There is nothing at first, but then slowly a dry after taste develops. I bounce it and immediately hear popping. The ball veers chaotically down the hall. I smile at its path and my children explode with laughter. I am humored, much like a child, but too old to go cavorting after it. It is a great prize! I want to send something equally as touching to my friend.

I think for a few days of what I can pass on. I find something and put it in the box, closing the lid gently. The old inscriptions disappear and I find myself speaking my clues aloud.

It looks like a partial eclipse of the sun.

It sounds like a gentle breeze rustling over a garden.

It smells like a field of corn and it’s decorated borders combined.

It feels like a smooth rock that has been skipped into a lake only to be deposited back on land.

It tastes like bitter wine.

It reminds me of time spent on my Grandfather’s farm.

It makes me feel safe and sunny.

It is a……..

A new inscription is taking place. The magic act reminds me of something out of Harry Potter. I feel a tingle of appreciation run down my spine as I watch the little gold spark move quickly through elegant curves until each word has been carefully etched upon the plain white box. It is oddly beautiful and inspiring.

The next morning, I put the box in the passenger seat of my car and drive it to your house. I leave it on your doorstep and await your call telling me you have figured out the clue.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's 3 O'Clock In The Morning

I’m in pain and becoming fearful. It’s been like this for a while, but the pain in my lower back is increasing and I feel I am losing control over what is happening to my body. The clock reads 3 am. Luke is sleeping in our bed. He doesn’t know I have wondered away. So I sit here alone, struggling to make a choice. Finally, I reach for the phone. “Joan? I’m sorry to wake you. I’m at a loss and I need your guidance.” We talk for half an hour. She is comforting, reassuring, and knowledgeable. I thank her for talking with me and hang up.

Slowly, I make my way to the bathroom, clutching at the backs of chairs and tops of the table and piano as I move from the living room through the dining room and to the bathroom. I start the water, a little on the hot side. It will cool quickly and I want to sit in the warmth of it as long as possible. The splashing of the water against itself wakes Luke. I hear him shuffling down the hall. His movement is slow, methodic. He must be looking in the other upstairs rooms to see where I have gone. I hear his footfalls on the steps as I disrobe and attempt to slide myself into the tub through the back spasms.

I know before he arrives that it is not going to work. My knees are pushing up against me and I am cramped. The water is not deep enough. I am disappointed as I slowly pull myself from the tub. I take Luke’s hand as I step over the side, dripping water across the slippery floor. He hands me my robe and I fold it around me, squeezing his hand as the pain wraps itself around me. We move to the couch. I lower myself onto the cushions while he balances himself across cautiously next to me. “What can I do?” His voice is oddly alert for the early hour and I am comforted by this.

“Rub my lower back maybe?” I’m not sure this will have the affect I want, but it is a change and therefore worth a try. He places his fingers firmly on the tops of my hip bones and uses his thumbs to draw small circles deep into the muscles. They are tensing and he retreats. “Please don’t stop. It is helping.” We sit this way for a long while. I breathe while he draws circles. We share small talk for a little while and fall into silence. I am not sure if it is the early hour or the gravity of the situation sinking in. I am terrified, excited, and in great discomfort. Luke seems to sense that his efforts are not working. He stands up, offers a smile and walks away.

I can hear him talking on the phone. He must have called Joan for more ideas and advice. I can’t sit on the couch anymore so I go and find my therapy ball. I sit on it, unsteadily, and decide to move it closer to the coffee table so I can have some support. I desperately do not want to fall. He returns to find me bouncing lightly. The pain has diminished and this time I offer him a small smile. He pulls up a small chair and reaches for the hand lying across my lap. “Joan is on her way. She should be here in half an hour. You seem to have figured something out for yourself. Can I get you anything else?” He sounds comfortable and confident. I realize just how much I love him and how lucky I am that we ever met.

“Maybe a small glass of water. My mouth feels dry.” He squeezes my hand tenderly and gets up. He returns with the water and we sit in silence again. I can tell he is anxious for Joan to show up. His eyes keep flitting over my shoulder and to the glass window in the door. I take small sips of my water and try to keep my mind on the signals my body is sending me. I am bouncing higher than before, with more force and this makes me aware that the bouncing will not relieve my pain much longer.

The door bell rings and I look over my shoulder. Joan’s smiling face is in the window. Her hair has been hastily pulled back and she has no make-up on. She looks like she is ready to get messy in her track suit. This is also reassuring. She comes in and I am immediately at ease. It’s as if we have known each other for years rather than just a few months. We spend the rest of the morning trying different things to ease the pain. Everything works for a little while, but nothing lasts for long.

I am starting to panic. I am starting to feel that I am being swallowed by pain. I need a change. “I think I need to go to the hospital.” There is a long pause as I take some breaths. Luke comes to my side and holds me into him as I sink into my knees. I feel as if I have an exercise band wrapped around my midsection and it is being pulled to its maximum length. “I just can’t be here anymore.” Joan and Luke nod their agreement. Joan offers to grab some things while Luke stays with me. When Joan has finished packing a small bag, Luke runs to pull the car to the front of the house at my request. I can’t make the walk through the house and then down the narrow steps out back. It will be shorter to walk through the front door and down the much wider steps out front.

Slowly the three of us make the trip. I feel like a very ill member of royalty as I am carefully packed into the car. Everyone is careful not to go too fast or ask more than I can do. I am being pampered in the best way they know how. Luke settles into the seat next to me. He slides the keys into the ignition and turns them. The engine purrs to life. Joan has gone for her own car and promises to beat us to the hospital. She instructs Luke to drive slowly and smoothly. With a wink she adds, “Or face the wrath of a woman on the edge!” We both chuckle and I enjoy this tightening of my stomach muscles. I can already feel my body beginning to relax.

We drive slowly through the back streets of our neighborhood. We can and will take these streets all the way to the hospital. It is lunch hour and the stress of driving in traffic is more than either of us want to manage. I am sure Joan will take that route as she is mentally more able to negotiate the lights and vehicles on the road with a mission and a timeline. Luke and I talk. We talk about our separate experiences over the last 14 hours. We spend more time talking about what we think will be ahead. We are both awash in possibilities.

We make it to the hospital and Joan has been true to her word. We pass her little red Honda Civic in the ramp. Luke parks closest to the elevators on the next floor. He get s out of the car and disappears. I can’t see him and am unsure how I will pull myself out of the bucket seat without his assistance. I am perplexed at this fact and that he would disappear. I am looking out the driver’s side window, hoping to catch a glimpse of his form somewhere nearby. There is a knock on my window. It startles me and I suddenly feel as if I have wet my pants. The feeling makes me smile. Luke is at the window. He opens the door. “Are you coming or are you waiting for a different mode of transportation?” He is standing next to a wheelchair.

Together, we figure out the mechanics of getting my bedraggled body out of the car and into the seat. I am wet and he seems surprised. The water is warm and as I adjust my weight, I can feel more slide down my legs. He pushes the wheelchair to the back of the car and then goes to shut and lock my car door. I ride as he pushes me through the elevator doors. We watch the door slide shut and hear the little blips as the elevator progresses down the two floors to the lobby entrance. Before the doors open, Luke bends down and quietly whispers in my ear, “I know we can do this together. I am here. You are not alone in this now or ever. I love you.” I am flooded with emotion. Tears begin to fall and I know they will be mistaken for misery rather than the pure joy they represent. The doors open and he begins to push the chair again. I want to respond, but don’t have a chance. I am breathing heavily. My back is spasming and someone has pulled the stretch band tightly across my mid section again.

Joan is at the reception desk when we round the corner. She has our bags and a folder in her hands. “They are expecting you in triage. It’s quite the maze to get there, but you’ve made it this far on your journey, what’s a few more turns.” She is so relaxed. It is obvious she has done this many times before. Luke follows her through the maze and we finally reach our destination. She approaches a nurse and pulls some paperwork out of the folder. I recognize that conglomeration of colored papers. Luke and I filled it out a few months ago. We sent in a copy to the hospital, one to our doctor, and gave her the originals. I look up at Luke. He is already looking at me and we exchange excited smiles.

The same nurse Joan was speaking to approaches. She seems kind, but I am having trouble focusing on her. The pain is more intense and more frequent. I nod my head yes, largely oblivious to what she is saying. I can see that Luke is listening intently. The nurse hooks me up to several monitors and calls someone to bring her something. I never see this someone, but I do see the nurse’s nametag. Alicia. “That’s what we want to see, “ she says as she looks at a small slip of paper turn blue. She checks my progress, informs me things are moving along quickly and leaves abruptly.

I am worried. I have missed so much of the conversation that I don’t know what is happening. “What’s wrong?” I blurt to no one in particular. Luke takes my hand and says, “They are getting a room ready. We will be staying. It was a good call on your part. Joan said you’re a champ. She didn’t expect you to be as far along as you are and left to put all of our things in the room.” I relax a little, but still feel like I am missing some vital piece of information. Luke sits next to me. I am having difficulties breathing and am losing my focus. There are so many wires. The machines are beeping and whirring. A little pencil is making zigzag lines across a paper. I feel overwhelmed.

Joan comes back and instantly recognizes my state of shock. “Leia. You are okay. You are going through the toughest part of the transition. It is late and your body has been working hard. Just stick with us a bit longer. You are almost there.” I nod agreement, but am not convinced. I have left nail marks in Luke’s hand. He doesn’t seem to notice, but I think he is just being kind.

Alicia has returned with two other woman and they are helping me back into the wheelchair. I almost fall to my knees. The shift in position has increased my pain level and it is unbearable. I call out, loudly. I’m not sure what I said. Luke laughs and the nursing staff smirks. Only Joan seems to still have her composure. I must have said something inappropriate. Whatever it was, the reactions of the other’s have distracted me from my pain and I am able to lift myself into the chair. I am pushed down a short hall. Luke and Joan are at my side. We turn right and enter a long hall. My room is the fourth on the left. It has huge windows and a view of the capitol. It is very large and comfortably warm.

I grip the arms of the wheelchair tightly and breathe. My eyes are closed, teeth are gritted, and I am suppressing the urge to call out again. The room seems to empty of strangers and I am alone with Luke and Joan again. Once I have caught my breath, Luke asks me to stand. He holds me as if we are taking our first steps together at a middle school dance. Joan gently takes my hands and wraps them around his neck. Luke is whispering to me. It is a sonnet. One that I wrote shortly after he proposed. It is filled with my hopes for our life together. I know why he has chosen it. Now he is whispering the vows he wrote for our wedding. Now he is singing. We are swaying together and I am lost in his words. I feel my body sag under the pain every couple of minutes. There is more strength than I have previously known in his arms. He supports me every time, never wavering, always as if it is easy. I am utterly grateful to him.

I don’t know how much time has passed. My feet hurt and I am reluctant to admit that I need something else. Joan seems to have read my mind and before I can say anything, she and Luke are leading me to the tub. It looks like paradise. I call it Tahiti as I slip clumsily into the water. It is Tahiti and every other tropical place I can imagine. I relax enough to ask what time it is. “It’s 2am.” Luke says, stifling a yawn. He has been up for nearly 24 hours. I am nearing 30 hours.

The water cools. It is no longer soothing. I get out and pull a towel around me. Luke and Joan lead me to the bed. “Get Alicia. Now!” I want to be polite, but I just can’t do it. My voice comes out louder and edgier than I would like. Joan leaves and returns quickly with Alicia. Alicia checks my progress and leaves hurriedly. She returns alone, but a pile up people seems to fall from the sky within a few moments of her arrival. My body is pushing and there is a deep sensation of movement. I feel a slight burn and Luke’s hands are running through my hair. I can see moisture in his eyes even though his face is averted from mine.

There is a tiny cry and a deep sigh from the room. My body is spent. Luke is crying openly now. “She’s beautiful,” he chokes. Bits of blood and tissue cling to her. There is another substance as well. Yellowish in color and sticky to the touch. She is lying across my chest, eyes wide open and looking at my face. I am submerged in a feeling so far removed from pain that it seems as if my experience getting to this point is a distant memory. Somewhere in the background I hear, “Time of birth, 3 o’clock in the morning.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What project(s) do you have to finish or start and why isn’t started or done.

“Hahahahaha!” she laughed when she saw the daily writing prompt her friend chose for the next day. Daisy had a good sense of humor; she had to because of the name her parent’s bestowed on her. She would be 36 years old in a few months and had taken nearly as many years of abuse because of her name. It certainly shaped how she looked at the world and why she chose to laugh and not cry. Changing it would be a hassle and cause her beloved family a lot of pain. “But this prompt,” she thought, “is over the top!” Daisy sat down at the computer sent a reply to her friend:

It’s a good thing I consider you a friend or I may have to hurt you. I’ll write on the damn subject. You can laugh all you want!”

It was short, concise, and not so sweet. She hit the enter button and sent the line of binary numbers into thin air, knowing it would reach her friend and deliver an intelligible message. She sat down and wrote. “What project(s) do you have to finish or start and why isn’t started or done.” Oh God, where to begin! There was the obvious one, of course. The sole unfinished Halloween costume that had shrunk her capillaries and raised her blood pressure gradually over the last few weeks. It still needed to be finished. It would be entertaining to write, but it was also expected. She wanted something different. There were the daily chores like dishes, laundry, dusting, and all the other tasks required to keep the house clean. She was embarrassed by the appearance of her home and wanted to avoid it further. Writing about it would only have guilted her into staying up too late to take care of it. There were the endless phone calls that never seemed to get made until she had no other options. None of it was all that alluring. What could she write about then?

She paced around downstairs, picking up little odds and ends to take care of, hoping for inspiration. None struck. Daisy considered making up a story, but felt like that would be cheating. Sharing something true about her life was the better option. She put the prompt out of her mind for the time being and headed upstairs to work on her Halloween costume. As she reached the top of the steps, she saw flashes of red and blue in her mirror. It was a little after 10pm. She walked to the large living room window and looked down the street. Being the third house up, she could typically see the cross street and court just beyond it. Now all she could see was a city bus, pinned in the intersection by emergency vehicles. She counted them: two ambulances, two fire engines, and three police cars. Something was definitely going on!

She went to her bedroom window to get a better view. There was a lot of glare and she couldn’t easily see. “Turn off the light!” she said aloud and startled herself. She smiled at the silliness of it and then walked around her bed to flip the light switch off. As she walked back to her bedroom window, she grabbed the remote control and turned the TV on, surfing to a news channel to see if it would tell her what was happening on her block.

She went back to her window, watching the scene playing out. Another police car, lights flashing, pulled up alongside an old Jeep that was idling beside the curb. The police officer got out and approached the old Jeep. A short conversation ensued and the Jeep driver did a U-turn and drove away. The same police officer then approached the small congregation of officers that stood near the bus doors. He held something out and two people took it, walking away from the larger group. Daisy was distracted by the words ‘bus drivers’ on the news. She switched her attention to the flashing colors of the TV only to find the report to be about testing various pilots and drivers for sleep apnea. She surfed the channels until she found another news station. They were going to break before returning with the weather report.

It was only quarter after ten. It was a teaser. She knew they would cover a few other stories and sports before the weather report. It was every stations hook to keep the audience from straying too long: show the weather near the end. She looked back out the window. The scene had changed. There was now yellow police tape being strung across the intersection. One end was already tied around the corner resident’s fence post. The two police officers were now securing the tape to the tree kitty-corner. They left room for an approaching vehicle to make a right hand turn onto the street. The head lights were bright.

Daisy looked back to the bus. All the lights were on. She could see the blue of the bench seats. The LED scroll board announced the next stop to be East Towne Mall. Everything seemed normal, but something was out of place and she couldn’t decide what it could be. The police officers were crossing the street presumably to tie another corner of the tape in the triangle they were efficiently creating around the bus. Out of her peripheral vision, she saw someone turn on a flashlight and enter the bus. She waited for the person to walk into her view. Whoever it was never did. They stayed up front near the driver’s seat. There were too many leaf laden branches swaying in the breeze for her to see much of what was happening.

She shrugged her shoulders and began to leave. It wouldn’t be of any use to stand and watch all night. She wasn’t going to find anything out until after they completed more of the investigation. She turned off the TV. There were no reporters so it wasn’t going to be on the news until the next day, possibly. She took care of the few things she had picked up from the bed and headed back downstairs. In the mirror, she caught the reflection of another police car arriving. She peeked out the window to see the car park in front of her neighbor’s driveway. And then it dawned on her: the bus was on the wrong side of the road! Interesting. She’d check back in a few minutes, after she finished running the items in her hand down to the laundry room.

She reached the bottom of the staircase and glanced at her desk. The blank white Microsoft Office page with blue borders was still up. The cursor appeared to be winking at her. She laughed again. “At least I have something to write about now. And no one is going to believe this is true!” Daisy had a new unfinished project. She had to find out what was happening on her street. It was a mini investigation and she couldn’t complete it right then because she wanted to get her impressions of the scene down on paper. After that, she would walk back upstairs and see what had changed. If things seems to be winding down before she went to bed, she would call the non-emergency number and ask for some information. But first, she walked through the house and made sure the doors and windows were secured tightly. The Halloween costume would have to wait another day.

*** I know, it is a day early! But this really is what was happening shortly after I read the prompt and I could not resist taking advantage of it. Watch the news! Maybe we will find out what was going on.***

What is your favorite daily routine?

My alarm is set for 7am, as it is almost every morning. It’s only 5am right now. I can hear the water running in the bathroom. My husband is getting ready for work. Every now and then I can just barely hear the sound of plastic hitting the porcelain sink. Most people would find it imperceptible, but I am sure it is there. He must be shaving; the timing is right. I know I should be getting back to sleep. I am still tired and I want to be prepared for the morning’s invasion.

I don’t know when my husband tiptoed out of the room. I fell back asleep before he left. My alarm is beeping. It’s annoying and I know it will only get worse if I don’t get out of bed and turn it off. Worse, if it gets any louder, it will wake up my daughter. She is an extremely light sleeper. I know it pulses into her dreams and brings her quickly to the surface found between sleep and consciousness. The sun does the rest. In this respect, I pray for cloudy days that will allow me to sleep in.

Once she is awake, she makes it a point to climb the ladder up to her brother’s bed and wake him up. He sleeps heavily and I can often hear her tiny voice calling for him in her still muttled speech. “Xander! I wan’ you to ge’ up peathe.” The sound of her voice always makes me smile. At nap time, while my son is in preschool, I often just lay in my room and listen to her talk or sing to her stuffed animals. Sometimes I hear the familiar rhyming verses from one of her favorite books. I imagine she is holding the book in her hands. Occasionally I will find the book lying on the floor next to her bed when I go to get her after nap.

The alarm is still beeping. I pull myself out of bed, acutely aware of how cold the air is around me, and go to randomly push buttons until the alarm is off. It is a cloudy morning and the deep brown walls do not offer any help to the gray light coming in through the heavy bamboo blinds. I can’t see the buttons to know what I am doing. Somehow, I have managed to tell my alarm to nap. I haven’t figured out how to turn off this function. My alarm will call again while I am at work and it will be screaming by the time I get home. Those are my thoughts as I climb back under my comforter. I know it will only be a matter of minutes, 15 maybe, before I am surrounded.

It’s still nice to lie here alone. But I am anxious for the attack. I start to nod off to sleep when I hear the tell tale trumpeting that the forces are approaching. I bunker down, burying myself deeper in my blankets, turning so my back is to the door, and sliding myself to the outer edge of the bed, but not so far that I may accidently teeter off the side. They are close. I can hear the slight creaking of the ladder, some shuffling, and then the opening of a door. The sounds are soft. No one who visits notices them. I listen for them every day. They are always present at this hour. And then there is a running across the narrow hall. Their bare feet slap against the hardwood flooring only to come to an abrupt stop outside my door. There is silence and then a whispered order, “Shhhh. We have to surprise her,” followed by agreement. “Okay.”

Then they are in my room. They rapidly ascend the cliff on my bed and come crawling across it as if under enemy fire. I stay still, eyes closed, playing asleep although the bouncing is big enough to wake an elephant from its slumber. A full body kamikaze attack ensues as both my children fling themselves on top of me in a bid to kiss my cheek first. There are battle cries of “Good morning!” and “Get up now!” as I wake up only to pretend to fall back asleep again. The battle over my consciousness wages for another few rounds until the little soldiers are tired of the game and pleading for surrender from my singular force.

It is only a few minutes, but it is this few minutes that I dread loosing. The other pieces of my day are enjoyable, but nothing is as comforting and life reaffirming as this simple act every morning. Even when I am away from home, I find myself waking up and looking at my clock, expectant that my kisses will come soon. Most times they do, but sometimes I know it is a missed opportunity. And those days are never quite the same.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pitch your invention to a panel of possible financial backers.

**** Please read with a heavy southern accent and steadily increase your cadence from that of a southern drawl to an infomercial spokesperson.****

Good afternoon. My name is Macey Wampuss. I am a mom of two and before they were even born, I made the choice to nurse them. Like most women who have nursed, it had a, shall we say…. negative effect on the shape and size of my breasts. That’s not to say my breasts were perfect, but they were certainly different and I was much happier with them pre-children. Now, I know you must each be thinking, whoa, too much information, right, and in most situations, I would agree with you. But today, you will find this relevant to what I have brought to share with you.

I want you to know this amazing new invention will help other woman who struggle with the size or shape of their breasts too. Even if they didn’t nurse their babies! Because you know that this affects almost every woman. Women all over the world struggle with their self-image and this is a big area of commonality. Ladies, how often have you had one of these thoughts: Oh, if only my back didn’t ache! Or, I could never fill that top out! Or, I’d break the seams if I put that thing on! I remember when mine didn’t sag! I’m tired of being as flat as a pancake! If you haven’t had one of these thoughts, you’ve had another. It’s true! There is no sense in denying it, because ladies, this is a topic of conversation every woman partakes in throughout her life. Oh yes! Our bodies change and so do our complaints or wishes, but the one thing that is consistent is that we always have one, don’t we? Think about it. Keep it in mind and I am going to offer you a non-evasive solution to make sure you have the opportunity to look like you want in every outfit or none of them!

Now gentleman. Let’s get to you. You can keep your eyes averted and your mouths hanging open if you want to. That’s fine. But, I know every one of you have heard this conversation between women. Maybe it was the girl’s talking around the table in the co-ed dorm when you were in college. Maybe it’s your wife as she changes into her fourth outfit for a night out because nothing fits quite right. Maybe you’ve heard your grandma lament about how they have made it to her midsection, or God forbid, they are knocking on her knees. Not to mention, you probably have your own preferences of what you would like to see on your lady friends. It may sound sexist and inappropriate in this great conference room, but I dare any one of you to tell me that you are not thinking about your wife or girlfriend sporting a perfect pair.

Now, do I have everybody’s attention? Good! Because this is the most exciting part! We have a solution. My partner and I that is. We have a solution! It’s non-evasive, meaning no surgery and no medications! It’s not permanent. That means no back aches, no regrets, and no unfulfilled wishes! It can be used repeatedly and it can be done in the safety of your own home. According to a panel of doctor’s and scientists who have spent the last several years looking into this technology with us, it’s medically safe. We are so certain of the success of this product that the prototype has already been built. And with your backing, we hope to begin testing this year and have it available on the market within five years. We are calling it “The Diamond.” Why? Because everyone knows that a diamond is a girl’s best friend! Clever isn’t it?

Now, let me tell you how this beautiful gem of a machine works. It’s basic really. It is a three step process. The first step is the simplest. Find a friend who has the opposite, that’s right, opposite concern that you have. So, if you want larger breasts for every day of the week or just to make you look smashing in that cocktail dress you bought for next Friday, you go find yourself a friend who doesn’t need the extra she has or one that is going for a slender super model look. You two reach an agreement and step one is complete!

Step two. Go to the doctor’s office to fill out paperwork and receive your training. Now, the training sessions are a one time deal unless an upgrade has been made to The Diamond. The paperwork helps make clear the legal matters involved, takes down logistical information, and requires your signature and a witnesses. Kind of like getting married at the JP. Quick and painless and still cause for a party.

Step three, apply The Diamond. Whichever woman is lending some of the extra fatty tissue, simply numbs an area of her breast, slides the tip of The Diamond into the numbed area, and presses the “mining” button. The machine does the rest! Once done on both sides, because no one wants to be lopsided, she passes the Diamond on to her friend. She repeats the process, pressing the “CC” button, which stands for cut and carat. Fitting, don’t you think? Once again, the machine does the rest! And when you are done with your event or the terms on the paperwork have been met, you simply repeat the process and the fatty tissues are returned to the rightful owner. Voila!

Am I right about this being a very lucrative and very exciting venture? Now what questions do you have before I can get you to sign on the dotted line?

What was your favorite childhood Halloween costume?

I have been celebrating Halloween in one fashion or another for, well, too many years to share. Looking back to my childhood, Halloween is hazy. It makes sense as so much time has passed. The only thing I am certain of is that the weather was always cold, wet, and blustery. It was never a pleasant night to be out. I have vague memories of a huge box of candy outside of a home with a simple sign : Take what you think is fair. No one was ever home, and rarely did I see a child take more than 1 or 2 pieces of candy. I certainly wouldn’t have. I carried a pillow case with me instead of the designated holiday bucket for collecting candy. But other than these kinds of things, I don’t remember much about Halloween. I don’t know any costume that I dressed up in, with the exception of when I was three. I have pictures, several of them, depicting me dressed in a T-shirt which read Little Devil and matching shorts. (I lived in Hawaii at the time.)Accompanying this outfit was a child-sized mask of a charming little devil’s face.

The first Halloween costume I remember putting on was about 7 years ago. A friend of mine’s birthday is in early November and he always has a costume party the weekend between Halloween and his birthday. I went as a ballerina and my husband went as Bob the Builder. I have also attended his party as a high school graduate and a momma-to-be. The year following that, I became a real momma and started skipping his party in favor of handing out candy with my little guy, eventually expanding to that traditional Halloween walk through the neighborhood’s, escorting my son and daughter in their homemade costumes to the doors of stranger’s home and prompting them to yell, “Trick-or-treat” and then “thank you”.

This year, I am planning on dressing up. The whole family will be dressing up as the Star Wars Skywalker Clan, assuming things had happened differently. And although little Eva- Leia, Master Xander-Luke, and Daddy Anakin are set to go, I am on my third attempt at making my costume. Regardless of how much blood is spilled, how many tears are poured out, or how many hours I work, it will be my favorite costume.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Describe the Characteristics of Your Perfect Friend

My perfect friend is someone who doesn’t exist. Perfection requires too much effort and the ability to control things that were never in their control. It is unfair and detrimental to expect this from anyone. Perhaps, then, the prompt is impossible to answer. If I set aside the idea of perfection, I am still able to describe a good friend, a close friend, a friend that I would value highly.

My good friend is someone I can connect with. We would have things in common. Some of these things in common would be in our lives. Having young children, enjoying the same hobby, the same TV shows, traveling, just about anything. It is likely this thing would change frequently as time passed. In addition, we would have similar views in our values. Connection really is about understanding and the ways to achieve this are numerous.

Dependability is also important to me. It bothers me to no end when people don’t follow through. I know that everyone drops the ball. Dependability takes time to build. It is not a one time shot. When someone continuously shows me that I can depend on them for menial tasks, such as showing up or not cancelling, I trust that I can depend them with more important things. This brings us closer because we start to share more personal things.

I also highly respect honesty in my friends. Honesty is incredibly important. Not just being honest to me, but to all those around them. For me, honesty includes talking to be spiteful or mean spirited behind other’s backs. I don’t mind if people share their opinions or personal experiences, but there is a limit to what is appropriate. When it becomes gossip, it has gone too far. It also includes those little white lies we all need to hear to keep our self-confidence. They are the little lies, like not telling about a surprise party just because someone asks if they are having one.

What it comes down to is knowing that you can call someone about anything anytime and knowing they will be there to support you OR set you straight. I can’t get there unless I feel connected, can depend on the person, and know they are going to be honest with me. Everything else is secondary.

**** Although I was excited about this prompt last night, I am really struggling with it. I don’t know if it is an off night or that the topic is just too big to tackle in the time I have to devote to it. I don’t like it at all. So please don’t be too harsh in your critique! I know this is my worst piece thus far. Let’s hope they don’t sink too much lower. ***

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What is the worst Christmas Gift you ever received? What did you do with it?

A shovel. When I was maybe 10. I was required to shovel snow out of the driveway for the rest of the winter with it. There is a lot of lake affect snow when you live near Lake Michigan. My dad thought it was funny. You could tell he was very proud of himself for thinking of it. My sisters and I thought it was cruel. I still do. When we reminisce about it, it is with bitterness and little laughter.

I have received other bad gifts as well. Things such as the William Hung CD, the fiber optic clock that featured an eagle flying over flashing fireworks and a waving American flag, and really ugly clothing that I feel obligated to wear with a smile. Or there are the kids' toys that impact my life although they are not for me. They include things like the pony sized horse that plays the Lone Ranger opening track after you supply 8 batteries of varying sizes or the Sweet Little Princess assortment because your daughter must be interested in these things because she is a girl even if she only asked for trains and transformers. They both still occupy space in our house, gathering dust. Annoying, but not horrible as far as gifts go.

The shovel was by far the worst and I hope to never receive anything in such poor taste again.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Why didn't you do it?

I didn’t do the dishes because I hate doing them. They have needed to be done for a few days. Slowly, the pile grew beyond the sink and overtook the counter. The recyclables that need rinsing are sitting on the island and the stove. It’s a mess and sometimes it smells when I walk by. I am not mistaken in knowing that a globulous mess awaits the dish doer in the sink. It hits all of my squeamish sensory buttons. The feel of wet bread makes me gag! We have had a lot of bread and noodles the last few days.

To make it worse, we left the mess for a few days as we traveled out of town. It is not even suppose to be my job. It’s Jeff’s job. I know, I know he has been overwhelmed with work. I just really detest doing the dishes. I guess I was hoping the housemate would see the mass and take care of them for me. She agreed to take care of the dogs so I just figured it would get to her and the situation would be resolved by my avoidance and disappearance. Nope. They are still there. And I still do not plan to do them.

Monday, October 12, 2009

you see something that convinces you the house is haunted

I am laying on my mattress which rests on the floor. I haven’t had time to put the bed together yet. I only have the necessities out of boxes. It is my first night in my new home. The house is everything I have wanted since I was a child. It is an old Queen Anne style Victorian home, beautifully maintained with gorgeous rosebushes that grow along the white picket fence and an herb garden just outside of the kitchen which you can smell if you leave the windows open. I love how the creamy colors of the exterior seem to rise out of the bold blues of the porch and window boxes. It is an unexpected touch, but very attractive.

The floor plan is what you would see in a movie. Small rooms with ancient hardwood floors and ornate crown molding flow together in the downstairs area, but are carefully sectioned off into three bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. A wide stair case links these spaces together in the foyer. A much narrower stairway leads from the middle of the upstairs hall to a dining room downstairs. The house looks much bigger from the outside than it is inside. Saying it is small would be a mistake. Cozy is what struck me when I walked through it before making an offer.

Why, then, do I have a heavy feeling of uneasiness? Why do I feel like I am being watched? Why have I been trying to convince myself that my house is not haunted ever since I did the few dishes I have unpacked. It’s because I cannot convince myself that the glimmer was a reflection of a tea pot. Everything about that shape tells me that my house is haunted.

I can’t shake the memory of something very deeply evil from when I lived in my parent’s house as a young child. I remember lying in my bed, always putting my back to the closet, certain I would see something dark emerge if I ever looked toward the door. I remember feeling as though I was drowning in fear as soon as my parents turned off the light and closed the door for the night. I would become colder every moment that passed. I held my breath for long periods of time, afraid that if I exhaled or inhaled too loudly I would summon whatever beast or spirit waited in the closet. I stayed awake clutching my pillow and shivering under my too thin blankets until fatigue overtook me and I fell into a fitful sleep, often filled with nightmares. And now I lay in my room, once again afraid to sleep or move too much, trying to absorb my fear between sips of tea. It is not working.

I don’t know what to do. I moved here to Lebanon, Il after my youngest child married and moved to Florida, choosing to live in a town quieter than the hustle and bustle of Chicago. My father's inheritance wasn't much, but it was enough to purchase this old house. The rest of my income comes from free-lance work as a writer and my love of restoring antiques. None of that helps me now. It leads to the fact that I have nowhere to go.I don’t know a soul whose door I could knock on. I am cut off from the outside world as my cell phone is useless in this remote location and my internet service won't be set up for a few days. I am stranded by my own need for serenity and history.

I say a silent prayer. “Good Lord, please see my through this. Keep me safe and give me peace. I need you in my hour of great need.” I have begun to chant these same lines over and over, as if I have a rosary. I am not Catholic, but I am finding this ritual calming. I am trying to disappear into these words, to bury my terrifying thoughts with beliefs that I have questioned for many years. Perhaps this experience is supposed to open my eyes to something I have missed for years. To bring me back to a religion that I keep a very loose hold on. But deep down I know that singing the Hokey Pokey would probably produce a similar affect. It just seems too childish and inappropriate for these overwhelming feelings.

I know I must get some sleep, but I dare not turn off the TV or release the cup of cooled tea from my hands. I cannot remove the sheet or my grandmother’s afghan from around me to reach for the lights. They too offer some solace in this night. In this night that feels as if it will never end. I want fatigue to take me away. I want to wake up in the morning to bright sunshine with a rested mind, one that will allow me to think logically and come up with a way to avoid this the next night. I wonder, can I avoid a repeat? Or will I be thrust into facing this demon that I have unknowingly taken up residence with? Would it be better to know who my demon is? What it looks like? To ask questions? To see why this glimmer is here? To help, if possible?

I have so many thoughts racing through my head. There is so much tension in my body. My back muscles ache. I want nothing more than to stretch out my legs, to let my toes slip over the edge of the mattress and just brush over the cold wood floor. I need to relax. I am making a conscious effort to set my cup down. I sit back up and pull the afghan tighter around my shoulders. Slowly I slide myself into a prone position. I am clutching my pillow, staring at the TV. It flickers a moment and then the reception returns. I have made progress. The heavy feeling is still present, but it is not pressing on me as hard as before. I will sleep with the TV and lights on. I suspect my hand will hurt in the morning. It will be difficult to put pen to paper.

It is only a matter of time. Sleep will be coming soon. I can feel it tugging at my consciousness. The edges of my awareness are fraying. Take me. Please. I want you to. And sleep does take me. I dream odd dreams. Of times before I existed. Of a young family with three cherub faced children. A father with the rough hands of a farmer and pride of an honest man who loves his children dearly. There is also a woman. I assume she is the mother although I never see her with the children. She is sad. There is a feeling of longing and bitterness. She appears restrained in her movements in front of the man. Always cautious of every action and ensuring that the slightest movement holds great meaning. Even with this slowness of life, she is very kind and gentle.

I open my eyes and am disoriented. They burn. It is so bright that even though I have closed them I am forced to shield the light with my hands. I hear something too. It is high pitched, tiny, and smooth. There is more than one. Slowly, it dawns on me the sound is birds singing. This sound is more soothing than the deep car horns and sharp voices from the Chicago streets. It is morning in the countryside where I live. I have made it through the night. I stretch and slip the afghan off of me, rolling to the far side of the bed and pushing myself to a standing position so I can stumble into the bathroom. The water will be cold and I am looking forward to the refreshing rivers running down my body. I have a lot to think about today and many decisions to make.