Thursday, June 30, 2011


"I've got it! I'll be fine!" I said pulling my arm away from both my husband and our friend. I was nearly 9 months pregnant and had stumbled over a frozen rut of snow and ice. "Seriously!" I said with a great deal of annoyance as the men grabbed everything they could possibly carry out of the trunk and had attempted to free the loaf of bread from my hands.

Finally they left me to fend for myself. Gracefully, I maneuvered over the ruts and into the clear path of the driveway. Not seeing a patch of ice, I slipped, my feet going out from under me and the weight of my body coming down hard.

As the men rushed to help me up, I shouted out, half in tears and half in laughter, "Don't worry! The bread broke my fall! But I think we'll need a new plan for lunch."

*** One Minute Writer ***


The warm waves washed over my feet and ankles. The salt stung the small sore on my foot. Looking over my shoulder, I saw Alex approaching timidly. Never before had he seen something so vast, something that reached to the ends of the Earth. "It's okay darling. Come wade with me," I beckoned as another ocean wave rushed over my feet.

*** One Word ***

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Palace

It was only a mud-thatched hut and a very small one at that. A great weeping willow held it in its soft green branches. The dry straw and earth colored walls looked dreary among the riot of colors: soft green grasses, wild flowers as far as one could see; the cold blue and white of a distant mountain. A dusty trail lead from the front door to the small creek bed not more than 20 yards away. An aged wheelbarrow sat to the left of the house half buried by the long branches of the weeping willow. At night, the soft glow of a fire could be seen through the open windows and merry laughter competed with the song of the cicadas.

Yes, it was small and quaint. If the saying is true that a man's home is his castle then my father's house was a palace and I, a Princess.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***


It seemed only a moment for the thick clouds to roll in. The dark color and sooty texture warned of dangers to come. They devoured wispy clouds that had stayed to frolic in the open blue pasture. Trees bent to their will. Leaves scattered like mice in a field. Lightning  struck out from the clouds and the ground shook in terror as the awesome power of mother nature was released. I stood at the door, my skirt flapping the wild beats of my heart.

Slowly, I crumpled the letter in my hand. "Dear Love," it said, "Meet me when the Night Jasmine blooms under the watchful eyes of Aphrodite. There I will make myself known to you on June 19th." 

In Aphrodite's presence stood a man drowning in disappointment as the rain washed over him. Clasping the knife in his hand more tightly, he stabbed it into the heart of an old oak tree. He wondered why his newest love had stayed away. He wondered if he was truly the man who could offer her salvation from the putrid world.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I blew the whistle again. I just didn't understand what was so hard that these people just couldn't get it right. "No, no, no! You have to reward for the positive behavior. Keep the treats in your hand until she does the trick." Nods and agreement. Enthusiasm. But not the faintest sense of understanding.

I gave the treats out to the class again. "Let's try it again. This time remember, you are here because you wanted to train your dog. After class, in 10 minutes, if you've decided it would be better for someone else to do the work, I can give you information on private trainers. Ready. Tell your pooch to sit."

*** One Word ***

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What's It Like?

It's uncertainty, desire, and hope being plucked from the soul one piece at a time. It's name-calling followed by a push, an accidental slap, some theft, and then cruelty just because they think they can. It's tears and threats, fearful apologies and turned backs that encourage anger and indignation to rise in a mother in defense of her cub. It's wishing it were another child, any other child, but never your own.

It's what it is like to watch your child fall victim to a bully and his friends.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Friday, June 10, 2011


He woke up late. Well, later than usual anyway. It was a few minutes after 7 a.m. when he climbed into my bed. Jill was right behind him. Snuggling with both of them, I whispered, “I can’t believe you are almost a first grader!”

Joe lay perfectly still as if this was a new revelation for him. Then he spoke in a voice that sounded near tears, but also filled with joy. “I am so happy that there are only two more hours of school that I could cry.”
He didn’t cry, I don’t think. He bounced. He bounced through breakfast; through getting dressed and putting his shoes on. He bounced to his back pack and out the door. He didn’t walk to school. He half ran and half bounced. With a quick hug a block before the front door of the school, he ran down the sidewalk and into the building.

When I picked him up 2 and a half hours later, he nervously handed me his report card. “Does it say I know enough to be a first grader?” he asked me, doubt distorting the tone of his voice. I put off giving him an answer until we made it home. Once home, we snuggled up in my bed and went over it one line at a time.

“But did I learn enough?” he asked. I smiled at him and said I thought he had. Then I read him the brief note from his teacher which ended with ‘Good luck in first grade Joe!’ I thought he was going to bounce through the walls and maybe even the floor. I think it is safe to say he is very excited!

*** Daily Writing Practice ***


Madelyn moved one of the two dozen roses to another location within its vase. Finally happy with her futzing, she bent over the bouquet and breathed in their sweet heavy scent. They’d arrived that morning and with delight she had put them in an old vase with a little plant food and a lot of water before placing them in front of the mirror. Looking them over one final time, she pondered who they could be from.

“An admirer, obviously,” she thought, “but whom?” She thought of the various men and women who had knocked on the dressing room door or schemed to get past security. They had all been excited star-struck fools. None of them seemed capable of such an expense. “Maybe it’s a more distant, refined admirer.” The though bemused her and she began to imagine what the man would look like.

She saw him, tall and athletic. Dark hair and glittering dark eyes enchanted her. He was the perfect tall, dark, and handsome specimen. In her imagination, he wore a tailored suit. His boring white shirt was set off by a brilliant red tie.  Reaching forward, she stroked the side of her reflection, pretending it was his. Madelyn giggled as if he said something funny and turned, flipping long golden locks she didn’t have over her shoulder.

She looked up. Carol was silhouetted in the doorway. She stepped in applauding Madelyn’s creativity, but the smile on her lips made it clear she was mocking her maid. “When you are done having your clandestine affair, make sure you tidy up my dressing room. “ As she spoke, she lifted the silk slip she wore as in the love scene over her head. Dropping it to the floor carelessly, she added, “and do make be sure that gets ironed before tomorrow night’s performance.”

Madelyn averted her eyes from the perfectly formed thin body as she scooped up the slip and rushed from the room, leaving her dream far behind her.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Thursday, June 9, 2011


He shot through the gym doors as quickly as he was allowed. Once his shoes touched the hard brown earth and he was freed of the constraints of indoor school rules, he took off as fast as his legs could take him. He ran across the hopscotch boards and four square boxes to the sidewalk. Following it past the playground, the soccer field, and the preschool park, he turned to his right. The grass jumped up to tickle his ankles and the wind rustled his hair.

He ran on. The field met with the dirt path that aggressively cut across it and his feet turned kicking up gritty sand. Through the woods he ran, emerging only to leave the dirt path for the concrete one. Slowly, he gained ground. Step by step, he drew nearer his goal. He rounded another corner and could see the finish line. The orange cones marked the end of the race and the joy of claiming his prize.

I looked into his happy eyes as he approached. A smile spread across my face and I pounded my hands together. He didn't smile in return. Instead, his focus seemed to fall to to the ground only to be trampled by dozens of other runners. He stumbled to a stop, turned and took two steps back. Bending over, he picked up his  escaped shoe and tried to put it back on quickly.

Two steps later, he stopped again to retrieve his shoe. I gestured for him to come over. Carrying his shoe, he hobbled over as quickly as he could. Looking at it, I wondered if there was anything I could do. The metal buckle and velcro extension had snapped off. The shoe was irreparable, but somehow it needed to be salvaged if I wanted to restore his hope of finishing the race.

Thinking quickly, I pulled the clip out of my hair. It fell in my face obscuring my view. Helping him put his foot in the shoe, I pulled the loose strap tight and fastened it to the tongue before securely tucking the other end of the clip between the wall of his shoe and his foot. Even though it wasn't as great as Macgyver could have done --no duct tape-- I was confident it would hold long enough for him to cross the finish line.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


"It's so hard to write when the TV is on. I am just too distracted and then my stories echo what I've just seen." I knew Marcia would understand. She loved to write, but had her own struggles. For instance, she couldn't write anywhere but the Corner Bistro. She claimed it had the vibes and caffeine she needed to be successful.

"Turn off the TV," she said.

*** One Word ***

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Dread made me cold and I pulled my shawl tightly around my shoulders. I didn't know why I had come. The outcome had been decided two weeks ago when John stood mute before the judge. I knew he was innocent, but couldn't readily admit to it. My husband would have beat me senseless and I would have lost both my boys and my daughter. They were just young children, each of them no taller than my waist. I just couldn't lose them.

The door opened and the tall man in front of me stood to his full height, obscuring my view. All I could see were John's muddy feet. He must have been pacing the floor of his cell last night. I wished he had spoken, said something. I knew his silence had been measured. By remaining silent, he was protecting his own family and mine as well. He was also asking for his own death.

I heard rustling and refocused on what was happening in the small square. A large crowd had gathered. Some were crying, begging for mercy. That group must have been his family. Others were celebrating the entertainment. The man in front of me called over to another man. "They've got him tied down now."

I bowed my head. I had prayed for two weeks for his release. Now I prayed for a quick end. I knew it would not be painless. I could hear men grunting as the first large stone was lifted and settled on to the plate. I imagined the immense weight of it pressing down on him. My chest ached as I rushed to catch my breath. Tears soaked my collar and discolored my eyes.

The judge asked him to admit his guilt. More grunting and a soft thud was the only answer. I could feel my lips tremble as I prayed more fervently for a miracle. I had emptied my lungs and forgotten how to take another breath in. Feeling dizzy, I sat on the ground. The earth trembled with the effort to move the next stone on top of the plate.

Women began screaming and children bawled. I rocked back and forth, not caring if a foot pressed into a hand or leg. Violently I drew in the air John had been deprived. Over and over I moved as the cries and cheers grew fewer. When all was silent, I looked up to see the large mound of boulders piled on top of him. His arms, legs, and head stuck out from under the plate. His body seemed deceivingly intact, but I knew it was as broken as my heart and my future.

Slowly, I gathered up my skirts and my basket and headed home. My husband would be in from the fields soon and the children still needed tending. I would have to wait.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Monday, June 6, 2011


Dear Aaron,

I thought of you today. I was driving down I90, talking to my mom through the hands-free, and flipping stations. I stopped on the oldies station. Can you believe the music we sang at the top of our lungs while speeding down Main Street is now played on the oldies station? The oldies station! I always thought of that as my grandfather's generation of music. God, are we really getting that old?

No! That isn't it. I'm not old enough to be anyone's grandma. I still have two little kids. One isn't even old enough for school yet. And you have that beautiful son of yours. What is he now? Nine months, I think. I know he isn't a year yet. The weather is still too warm.

He must be crawling by now and calling out for his dada. I bet he is absolutely precious and I am even more certain that every time he babbles those syllables you get that crooked smile I have always loved. I would have walked over hot coals to give you a kiss when you smiled like that at me. I only saw it come out in the most innocent situations, but it was so languid it felt a little dirty. You must know by now how seductive  your smile is.

But that was all such a long time ago. We aren't those young love struck teenagers anymore. Look at us! We've grown up and moved our own separate ways! We have beautiful families and are so much wiser. Thinking of all the time that has passed makes me feel old.

Did I mention that "I've Finally Found the Love of a Lifetime" by Firehouse came on the radio this morning? It made me think of you.



*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Saturday, June 4, 2011


The day dawned hot and humid and stayed that way late into the evening. I rushed from place to place, carefully laying out an assortment of snacks: pretzels, chips, salsa, and cheese dips. Soon my friends would arrive, ripe with anticipation and desire to see the cup in winning hands. Only overtime would decide between Bruins and Canucks.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Friday, June 3, 2011


The lights had gone off hours ago. Aside from the sound of my bunkmate breathing and the occasional footsteps of someone passing by, it was perfectly silent. Quietly, I reached under the boards supporting the mattress and pulled out the fork I had stolen from the kitchen my first day working in the mess hall. It had dulled over the last several months. It didn't matter. It would have to do.

Pretending to roll over, I moved off the edge of the bed and lowered myself cautiously to the floor. My bunkmate snorted in his sleep, some old memory tickling his funny bone. I remained still until I heard a set of footsteps disappear. Rolling across the floor, I stopped when I bumped into the wall. Supine, I reached up with the fork and carefully began scratching it across the wall. The only movement was my arm moving and inch up, an inch down, an inch up. My body lay quiet even as my nerves and muscles screamed for a break.

When I was done, I rolled back to the bed, dove under the covers as the next set of footsteps sounded, and then carefully replaced the fork between the board and the mattress. In the morning, I would sit Indian style and meditate. Each of the 472scratches marked a day spent confined in my cell and a day closer to going home.

*** One Minute Writer ***


Her hair was tied back in two little ponytails that started just behind her ears. Thick red ribbons held them in place. The sun kissed her cheeks, giving them a rosy glow. Mostly, I noticed her eyes. White and shiny. Filled with the joy of an innocent life. A smile to match. Emily was my sweet little girl, just four years old.

I saw her twirling in her fire engine red dress. It flew through the air like Little Red Riding Hood's famous cape when she skipped through the woods. Her white socks reached up as if they were going to grab the flowing hem of the dress and remind it that it should be gently brushing her knees. All the while, her black Mary Janes clicked on the sidewalk. 

That was last week. This morning she wore an identical red dress. The hem of her dress rested lightly on top of her knees. Her socks stroked the hem, happy to have contact.  Her Mary Janes were silent. I reached down and stroked her hair which had been pulled back into two ponytails and tied with a new red ribbon. A brush had painted her cheeks pink, but there was no glow. Her eyes were closed. At first glance she looked to be asleep. But I knew better.

Rob placed a kind hand on my shoulder. "Are you ready Isabelle?"

After nodding yes, he walked me to my seat and then took the one next to me. We held hands.

"Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust..." Pastor Rob began.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Applicant

Josephine's head dropped into her hands as the letter fell to the floor. Another rejection. How many, she didn't know. She'd stopped counting a couple of months ago. Having rubbed her forehead and eyes, she stood up and walked to the small patio behind her small rental. A neat stack of papers sat under a garden rock on the little bistro table. Two black pens lay next to the stack. All she was interested in was the mug of tea.

Picking it up, she wandered back into her home and to the fainting couch in front of the window. Legs curled under her and the warm ceramic nestled between her hands, she looked out over the quiet street. She sat silently until the tea cooled. Setting the mug down on the little side table, she picked up her phone and did the unthinkable.

"Hello Adam. " Josephine rubbed her forehead again. "I'll be there on Monday. Have the packet ready." 

Adam clicked his tongue three times. "It's good to have you back on the team Jo." Then he hung up. Josephine didn't expect anything more from the conversation. Having made the call, she stood up to count the ammo and sharpen the blades. No reason to put off packing until the last minute.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I counted three red blips on the little black box as I hung my keys up. Four messages. The air rushed out of my lungs leaving me feeling deflated as I contemplated the likely messages. One from JoJo. Surely she had received the message I left her yesterday explaining that I needed a doctor's authorization if she planned on returning to work earlier than the first note indicated. I could imagine her tirade about how Patricia the Pachyderm should not have to suffer her absence. That would have been tolerable if Patricia hadn't been so antsy lately, proving JoJo correct.

There would probably be a message from Eric as well. He'd want a full explanation of why I was adding an additional 100lbs of food for the goats. "Was it a typo? No! Well, how much food does one goat need!?" he'd ask rhetorically. The problem wasn't with the goats. It was with the children dropping more on the ground than into the mouths of the goats. Happy customers brought in business. Goat food equated to happiness and that was not something Eric had ever understood about this business. I wondered if his parents had ever let him feed the goats.

Who else? Oh Cyndi "with a y and then an i". The Diva of Darlington, I'd taken to calling her behind closed doors. I couldn't imagine what would be wrong with her working conditions, but something always was. Past requests  flashed through my mind: making the pachyderm dung smell better; ordering less vivid balloons to help with her hangovers; requesting reimbursement if her manicure or pedicure chipped due to the nature of her work; and my all time favorite of imposing fines on animals that were too loud and startled her. At least, after the initial headache, her requests presented some humor.

These three were a three ring circus onto themselves. Sometimes I forgot that I worked for the zoo.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***