Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Parking my car at the end of the street, I looked at the long row of neatly trimmed hedges that lined the neatly trim houses with the heavy trimmings in the window. A smile came easily to my lips. It would be a good day.

Knocking on the first door, the same easy smile greeted the young woman answering the door. She was in her 30's or maybe 40's, trim, blonde, and impatient. She was perfect in the sense of pitching my wares. "Good afternoon Miss."

She eyed me warily, but her skepticism only put me at ease. "My name is Bach, like the respected composer of a century ago." Still, she was silent. I continued, "I'm here today to see if I can interest you in either Misery or Desperation? Truly it is a single product as they always come hand-in-hand....."

She had shut the door as soon as I uttered the word Misery. They almost always did. Whistling, I moved on to the next house. Another few months of no-sales and I could close up shop and retire. The thought added a little kick to my step as I heard heels clicking on the hardwood floors on the other side of the door and that easy smile came to my face.

*** One Minute Writer ***


She rubbed the surface gently. The grime slowly wiped away to reveal a beautiful gold gleam. It was the work she did every day: slowly restoring other people's treasures. Everyday it brought a smile to her face.

She didn't see the faint curls of smoke as they swirled out more heavily with each passing rub. She didn't see the form of a man? Mermaid? Whatever it was taking shape. She only turned when she heard the booming voice, "I give only one wish, but I give it 1000 times over. What is your wish?"

Startled, she dropped the small lamp and blinked several times, her mouth agape,  before blurting out "Holy crap!"

Thinking Now

Anger. Frustration. Disappointment. Grief. But not surprise. I'm not surprised anymore. At first I was. Always surprised. "How can one person have such bad luck?" I would wonder aloud. "Be so forgetful?" and I would shake my head. "So irresponsible?" Dismay would color my thoughts. "So selfish and uncaring, especially when it comes to her family?" I would grind my teeth as the beep alerted me of the arrival of the expected text.

Sometimes it is difficult to be a sister. It is always difficult to be a mother who has to give her child disappointing news. Repeatedly.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Monday, April 25, 2011


I sipped on my Martini, the lemon peel sitting on the napkin. I admired the red lighting against the steel grey walls, the black shadow boxes holding single stemmed Roses in the main room and small pink carnations in the Ladies' Room hung on the walls with an interior decorator's practiced eye. The black seating was comfortable, formal, and ye so very appropriate for the room. The environment was both breath taking and functional.

Setting my glass down, I pulled up my handbook to pull my cell phone out and check the time. It was quarter after 10. He was now 15 minutes late. I slid the phone back in and contemplated the lemon juice swirling on the surface of the drink. My mouth felt dry. I wondered if he was coming or, if like many of the other men, he'd opted not to show up or met someone on his way to the bar. I pulled out my phone again. Two minutes had passed. Picking up my glass, I drank the dry gin, dropped $10 on the table and stood up to leave.

Quickly, I walked to the door. Pulling the door open, irritation and humiliation clouding my vision, I ran into the tall blonde entering. "I'm so sorry," I gasped, reaching to pick up my pocketbook that had fallen between us.

"Are you okay?" His voice was deep and smooth. He'd bent down to check that I hadn't been hurt. A small gesture, but one I hadn't been the recipient of in a long time. My eyes caught in the blue depths of his eyes and I fumbled for a response. "Let me buy you a drink." He filled the silence that I still was swimming in.

With a smile and a blush, I agreed. Maybe it was best that I had been stood up.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Sunday, April 24, 2011


It had faded from it's cedar red and sweet scent, but the fence still stood tall and strong. The fenced in backyard offered security for my two year old and privacy from the peering eyes of the neighbors. Everything should have been perfect, but it had all gone horribly wrong. The worst part was that I would never know who left the gate open.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Children should be children. That is to say they should be loud and obnoxious little puddles of curious giggling energy that always seem underfoot. But that not should encompass all that they are. They should know when to be polite, be able to listen, and empathetic, among other things.

It's the parents I hold responsible without excuse. Is it justifiable? Yes. Parents should be raising their children to be respectful citizens while remembering that they are children.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Sitting on the bench in the early summer warmth, I watched the man on th bench across from me. He was oblivious to the glory of the day, the hilarity and sadness of the passers-by, and the fact that I wasn't even attempting to disguise my gawking. Whatever the gadget was in his hand, it clearly owned him.

*** One Word ***

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I could hear the familiar sounds of kids screaming, babies crying, and adults screaming and crying. I curled into a smaller ball, my feet rising completely off the floor to rest on the cold steel bench. I leaned my back further into the corner. Somewhere, my children were a part of the chaos. I opened my book, the new book smell drifting up as I flipped the first few crisp pages. I had found my sanctuary. 

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Monday, April 18, 2011


The sounds of the strings being plucked bounced off the rafters and the walls. It was late and I was the only one watching him, listening to his complex story. In those moments, he was beautiful and I would forget about the moments outside of that time. I rubbed my shoulder and felt a bit of pain, a small reminder of what it was like when he wasn't lost in his own rapture.

*** One Word ***

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Laurie looked at her BFF sitting sullenly across the table. It had been three weeks of meeting her and her sour attitude in the tiny cafe in Mayfield, a 30 minute drive from both their homes. Any other time, Laurie would have been thrilled to make the drive and hang with her friend but now she just quietly rolled her eyes when the desperate phone calls came. "What kind of commitment did you expect from a man who said he was going to scale every mountain in the Southern Hemisphere?" Laura asked when her fried let out a long and lonely sigh.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Quest

Papers in hand, he headed down the path hurriedly. Early morning sunlight lay dappled on the ground under the leafy, but not yet full canopy. A soft breeze blew chill on his bare arms. The sound of his feet slapping on the ground showed his pace had increased. Ahead, the sun painted the ground in a solid sheet of white, the trees no longer towering above his head. Soon, he knew, his journey would begin again. Kindergarten offered many chances to begin again.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

The Last Breath

Sunlight strained through the colored cling wrap as if it were a stained glass window, discoloring the worn floor into shades of red and blue. I watched as his long fingers and comforting arms changed in hue. First pink and then a washed out blue. His hair hung limp, hiding the angles of his face, as he worked. The white rag stained citrus slid over the flat face and curved body of the guitar. I never thought I would see anything so beautiful. My heart broke in tiny uncertain pieces as he continued to caress the unnatural body.

Reluctantly, I entered the room. I stood before him praying he would look up, acknowledge me in some small way, but his focus remained fixed on the soft sheen of the wood. "I'm leaving now," I said with a gentleness I had not known was within me. Still he stroked the guitar. My eyes grew damp as I continued to watch him work and wondered why I was walking away from the only moments in my life that had ever left me breathless.

Long minutes passed. The sun reached above the cling wrap taking the soft colors out of the world and giving, instead, an unsteady brightness. I wanted to reach out and touch him, but I knew it would only hurt us both more. Slowly, I turned to leave. Each step felt impossible. The bright light pulling me back, telling me I would have no more beauty in my life. Exhaustion filled me and I felt my legs and heart weaken. My resolve slowly draining away. I steadied myself against the door way.

His arms circled around me, his warm breath on my neck, and hot tears on my cheek.  "You will always be my love," he said. My last breath of him grooved into the very tissues of my being the smell of lemon oil and shampoo and warm skin not held for long enough.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ventilator Blues

I lay here. Dying. Wishing to be dead. Electrical pulses run through the wiring and into the machine that forces little gusts of wind into my aching lungs. I wonder how much longer this purgatory will last. I hear them discussing it as if I am not in the room. As if I were already dead.

My daughter starts. She's always been the rule setter. The go-getter. The decision maker. "We have to decide what is in her best interest. Not ours," she says. Her breath catches and I wish my fake breath could catch on the plastic sides of the tube. It never does. It remains a perfect rhythm of in and out.

"You make it sound like she is a child incapable of making her own decisions." It's my son. Always the defender of mankind. The one to stick up for people. To respect their choices. A man of compassion and deep empathy. We've talked about my inevitable death.

"Alexander...." I can hear my sweet Eve getting ready to reason with him. She'll talk about life. How there is more than one path we must follow and how I am ready to go. She'll argue that I want quality, not quantity. We've had this conversation many, many times.

They will both be right. They just won't see that they are fighting for the same thing from opposite corners. Not for too long of a time. "Just pull the plug!" I want to scream. Release me from my confines. Let me float through the blues and prepare a place for you. Let me go!

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Sunday, April 10, 2011


I reached down to my right thigh and dug the heel of my hand as deeply into the muscle as I could. Pushing the ache toward my toes, I watched the approaching truck veer into my lane and out again. "He must be just as tired as I am," I thought.  I put both hands on the wheel and watched as the truck weaved into my lane again. He was slow to correct his path. I turned the wheel further to the right. The truck veered away again and I tried to wrestle the wheels back onto the pavement.

Silently, I watched as the chaffs of tall grasses brushed over the window. When the car stopped, I undid my seatbelt, keeping my hand on the ceiling to protect myself from falling too hard on my head. Somewhere, I knew my fish lay dying. As I crawled out of the car window I had rolled down earlier, I was greeted by the astonished gasps of witnesses. No one believed I could have survived.

The nurse attended to my small cuts and bruises. The pastor said a prayer. The police officer called in the license plate of the truck that had continued it's dangerous dance down the highway. The comedian said I was lucky a funeral director had not been in the line of cars behind me. I started to cry. He'd stepped on my fish.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Saturday, April 9, 2011

If Only

Lisa woke up. The sun was low in the sky, indicating that it was early morning.  Last night she dreamed that she had gone back in time. She had visited her father when he was a young man after he had experienced Vietnam and the loss of his first child. It was the exact moment in the past when he turned from God and to drugs and alcohol for salvation. As she watched the sun inch up in the sky, she thought about how her life would be different if she could have said to him the things she had said in the dream.

When she was a child, Lisa would have learned to dance or she would have learned to play the piano. She would have received good grades in school and graduated. She would have gone to college to study art. She would have married and they would have moved to New York or Chicago. She and her husband have had children together. She would have been happier.

Yes. She needed her father to support her. She wanted him to have chosen something other than drugs and alcohol. She wished she would have had a different life.

*** The English draft of the paper for a Spanish class. ***

The Garage

Mary looked up from her tea, the deep grooves in her face representing the wisdom her 7 boys had imparted on her over the last 25 years. "Boys will be boys," she said, a self-satisfied smile spreading. I shuddered, hating the saying and recognizing the ounce of truth it held. My foot began to tap, filling in the missing beats for my son's newly formed garage band.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***


It was 2047 and I was no longer alone. There were others. Not just one or two, but many. I'd lost count of the mismanaged cases that found themselves plastered across the front pages of newspapers. "Man Pirouettes Through Traffic." "Missing Wealthy Woman Found Living Among The Poor." "Five Year Old Siblings Beg For Jail Time." I smiled a sad smile.

My face once graced the front of the newspaper as well. I don't remember the details. None of us ever do. We are just as mystified as everyone else about our behavior. My story was one of repeated acts of battery. I was a teenager. Quiet. Received good grades and aspired to be a great musician. I was taking a late 20th century music class and had chosen a band named Metallica as the theme for my research paper. I listened to the music constantly. Partly I had to. I needed to understand the lyrics and the lead singer wasn't always easy to understand.

One day, I was listening to their album Master of Puppets while walking to the library. Their song battery came on and I heard a loud pop during the slow introduction. I remember looking around to see where the noise came from and being surprised that no one else seemed to be concerned. I didn't feel all that concerned myself. With a shrug of my shoulders, I pushed through the library doors. The introduction ended and the hard hitting, heavier beats surged through the headphones. I felt my heart and thoughts begin to race.

The next thing I clearly remember is sitting in the back of a police car, hands cuffed behind me. A police officer was holding my I-POD 7000Z and telling another uniformed man about the trashed library and injured people left behind. "Oh my God," I said in response to what I was hearing, "Did you catch the person who did it?" I knew by their astonished faces that something was seriously wrong.

In court, my defense was "the music made me do it." I was scoffed at. It was thought to be a ridiculous notion. Over time, it has come to light that I was correct. At least somewhat. Us. The 'we' that slip through the cracks and end up as front page news. We are affected by music, doing as it tells us. At least, until it is figured out and we are put on a steady diet of non-influential music with a court order to keep it with us at all times.

Smiling another sad smile, I replace my headphones before entering the store. Grocery shopping to Bach is how I spend my Saturday afternoons now. Dreams of being a recognized musician died the day I was diagnosed. I'll grab a newspaper on the way out. That's what I do on a Saturday night.

***One Minute Writer ***

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


'Step-hop, step-hop, step-hop,' kept running through my head as I watched my daughter dance across the stage. The grace and fluidity of her movement was remarkable. Tears welled at the edges of my eyes, threatening to ruin my mascara. 

'Step-hop, step-hop, step-hop.' As she pirouetted and then pointed, I thought of how twisted her face was during those early years of frustration. A five year old infuriated by the act of having to skip in order to advance to the next level. 

'Step-hop, step-hop, step-hop.' She leapt into the air, her strong legs and flexible body curving just right. The men and women gasped at her obvious athletic ability. She was a thing of beauty and talent. 

'Step-hop, step-hop, step-hop.' A shriek rang in through the sliding glass door. I ran to see what had happened. There my little girl was skipping around the deck. Her joy shown brighter than the sun.

"She must have been born with a great deal of natural ability," the man next to me said as we stood in our row waiting to exit.

I smiled. "No, just a life long mantra of step-hop, step-hop, step-hop. It's her way of expressing the hard, diligent work it took to learn how to soar."

*** One Minute Writer ***

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Prank

My sweet faced son stood before me, his impatience obvious as he bounced from foot to foot waiting for me to put down my book. "Mama, where do jellybeans come from?" he finally blurted out, his curiosity almost consuming him.

I lowered my book. "When a jelly meats a bean and get married, they make little jellybeans," I responded, careful to ensure an authoritative  and trustworthy quality to my voice and that the smirk didn't make it to my lips.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Friday, April 1, 2011

In the Forest

I looked at the light greens of the ground plants and the deeper greens of the leafy canopy. In the immense space between, birds in every conceivable color alighted between branches and vines, calling playfully to anyone who would listen.  Where the dappled light was strong enough to nurture them, flowers blossomed at irregular intervals. The air hummed with the sound of small-winged insects flitting about. To balance the sickly smell of rot, a clear river flowed from not too far, it's clean scent drifting around the vegetation. I drunk it all in like an alcoholic who needs a hangover cure.

I understood, for the first time, the intense draw this place had on my husband. It was a forest with unimaginable beauty brought to life and destroyed by heavy rains for centuries. I wished I had known him as the young man who had traipsed through this "Garden of the Gods" as he so frequently referred to it. I regretted not joining him when he was a more mature man in favor of having my nails polished at the resort's spa. Feeling the erratic beating of my heart, I rejoiced that we had found a resting place.

I twisted the lid off the beautiful clay pot we had bought together on our first trip to this forsaken country. Clutching it in my hands, I lay down in a bed of flowers, his ashes spilling on the ground next to me, neither of us ever to get up again.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

New Neighbor

Joanna peaked from between her blinds, the friction of tires against the broken pavement having woken her up from a long sleep. Rubbing hard at the crick in her neck as the truck turned into the driveway next to hers. She looked at her alarm clock. It was early in the morning, just before sunrise.  New neighbors was exactly the kind of thing that brought a little life to an otherwise dead neighborhood. Dragging herself back to bed, she pulled the covers over her head. She needed more sleep if she was going to host a dinner party the next night. 

While she slept, her new neighbors moved their belongings into the house. Their laughs and grunts entered her dreams making her feel almost joyful. She opened her eyes when the sung hung high in the air. Having been more of a night person for the last several years, she didn't welcome the brightness of it. She kept her blinds closed as she hurriedly made preparations for the following evening.

Invitations were scrawled and sent to her family. Her daughter, her son, her husband who opted to travel, they would all come, she had no doubt. She cleared off the table, set out the cutlery and glasses. She chose clothes for the occasion having decided on a formal affair when she wrote the invitation. Everything was set, she would wait for her family to arrive.

The next day, near the dinner hour, they gathered together. The son, the daughter, the father, and Joanna dressed in her best. Slowly they walked to the neighbor's house. They stood on the stoop, excited to bring the neighbors back for dinner. Joanna rung the bell. Running could be heard inside. Steps moving down the stairs and toward them. A joyous sound for the Zombie family, but not nearly as pleasant as the screams and silence that followed after dinner.

*** Daily Writing Practice: A much better attempt. ***