Saturday, 14 October 2017

ALL BRIGHTNESS AND CLARITY


Twenty-five years.  Water under the bridge carried youth, beauty, energy, downstream.  Battered blue on boulders, dragged along abrasive sandy bottoms, beaten into submission by life’s harsh winds.

Twenty-five years.  She was perfection.  I was perfection reflected in her eyes.  All brightness and clarity.  It was living in the moment and breathless wonder.  It lasted but a second and then it was done. Done in the physical, but never really done. 

Twenty-five years.  Clutching each other, etching the moment forever…imprinting memory…the desperation, the need, the sorrow….the love.  We said we would meet again in twenty-five years.
 
Twenty-five years.  Today it is twenty-five years.  Will we see the other marked by the wreckage of time’s inevitable journey or will we perceive, buried under the rubble of life’s flow, the glow of youth and hope?

Twenty-five years.  Heart pounding, breath short.  All brightness and clarity.

THE ELEVATOR DOORS OPEN.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Umbrella Man

(May 2)  “I can’t believe I’ve become one of those women lamenting the fact that I’m single.  My relationships are always disasters! Where’s Mr. Right when you need him?”  She sighed dramatically and laughed.  “Get a life, Nicole!  Anyway, my hair looks great, as usual, Marg. If you give me a plastic bag, I can cover it so it won’t get ruined.” The rain continued to pour down the salon window making it impossible to see outside.                                                                                                                                                “Wait ‘til it lets up! You’ll get soaked!”

“I have to get home.  My guests coming over in less than two hours and there’s still so much to do.  I’ll be fine. Besides it’s only two blocks.”  Steeling herself, she waved at her stylist. “Wish me luck.”

“Crap!”  A deep puddle. Her feet sloshed around inside her sodden high heels, making running impossible.  Her clothes were soaked through almost immediately. Walking as quickly as possible, she passed the post office and the bakery.  Just one more block to go.  Short of breath, she made it to the corner just in time for a red light.  Too much traffic to jaywalk. 

“Care to share my umbrella?  It’s pretty nasty out here.”

She turned.  He was beautiful.  Tall.  Thick, dark hair. Shocking blue eyes.  Her heart pounded as she ducked under the offered shelter. Their eyes locked.  She struggled to breathe.  How could one man be so striking?

“Thank you.  It’s so kind of you.”

“Do you live far from here?”

“Just down the street.  Just a short hobble,” she laughed, glancing down at her waterlogged shoes.

Eyes still fixed on hers, he sang.  His voice was deep and pleasing. “I’ll be your umbrella man.  Shower you with all my love.”

She laughed again, joyfully.  Possibilities and sweet hope filled her hammering heart.  Lost in those eyes.

The light turned green.  

MAY 3: BRADFORD FREE PRESS:  UMBRELLA KILLER STRIKES AGAIN                                                                                                                               



Sunday, 9 April 2017

The Art of Purr-suasion (a silly story I wrote for one of my writing classes/groups)

Bernard Williams rolled over when he heard the telephone ring.  2:37 a.m.! He picked up the phone and growled into it, "There is nothing you can say that would make me leave this house right now." Sitting bolt upright, he listened for a few seconds.  His tone softened. "I'll be right there."

He looked at the foot of his bed, knowing that Buster would be curled up there and whispered, "Wake up, bud.  We have a job to do."  Buster's green eyes flicked open. He yawned widely, showing his small, pink tongue, stood up on all fours and stretched the way only a cat can.

"What is it this time," he rasped in a sleepy voice.

"It's the calico.  Mary's found her, but she won't come down from the tree.  That's where you and I come in."

Bernard rolled out of his warm bed, grabbed his watch from the bedside table and put it on as he shuffled to the window. He groaned.  Snow was still falling, adding to the meter that already hid the front lawn. The outside thermometer read minus twenty-seven. Sighing, he walked to the bathroom where he performed a perfunctory tooth-brushing and returned to the bedroom to slip into his too recently discarded clothes.  Wiping the sleep from his grainy eyes, he shrugged on his heavy winter coat, stuffed his feet into his thermal winter boots, slapped the tuque on his head and grabbed his keys. Buster appeared at his feet and jumped into his waiting arms.

"Let's go do this," he mewed.

The frigid wind stung as they stepped outside.  Bernard trudged as quickly as possible through the knee- high snowdrifts to the car, threw open the door and tossed Buster inside.

"Quick, clean the windows off and turn on the heat," Buster chattered.

"Hold your horses.  Motor's cold.  It'll take a few!"

Windows clean, they drove through the quiet streets, shivering, each lost in his own thoughts.  A gibbous moon hid behind a ghostly white cloud casting a gloomy shadow on the snow-laden tree branches.  The heater finally started to pump out warm air.  Man and cat settled in for the ten-minute ride, limbs relaxing in the toasty interior.

"Wonder where she's been all this time.  Her human's been looking for her for what, almost three weeks now?"

"Mary didn't say.  Just that Prim wouldn't come down from the tree.  Here we are."

Mary's house.  He put the car in park, grabbed his ever-present flashlight and his Siamese sidekick and hustled toward the shadowy silhouette standing by the tall spruce in front of the house.

"Okay, remember the routine.  Ix-nay with the eaking-spay." (*see below)

"How many times do you have to remind me?  You'd think I was a dog for heaven's sake.  Dogs forget, cats.....why do I even bother?"

As they approached, the bulky figure walked toward them.  It was Mary.  She looked great even in her thick winter garb.  One of these days, Bernard would have to work up the courage to ask her out. But for now, there was work to be done.

"Thanks for coming.  It's good to see you again, Bernard.  And you too, Buster, you handsome guy," she said, scratching under his chin.  Buster purred loudly.

"I heard Prim meowing about an hour ago," Mary explained looking at Bernard.  "I know she must be hungry and cold, but she won't come down.  I thought of you because I know you and Buster have a talent for coaxing cats down from trees.  I'm hoping Buster can come through once more.  What do you think, big fella?"  She tickled the cat behind his ears.

"I could stay here all night.  That's what I think.  Forget Prim," he mused silently, basking in the delicious massage.

"Right, then.  Let's have a look-see.  Come on, Bud.  Let's get Primrose down and inside where it's warm."

Buster looked up and saw two shining eyes staring down at him from above.

"Buster, thank goodness you're here!  I was hoping you'd show," she chattered.

"Prim, what are you doing?"

"Waiting for you, you sweet fur-ball."

"Well, I'm here, so come down!"

"You'll have to come up and get me," she taunted.

"Fine, I'll be right there."  He turned to Bernard, "Females!!"

Springing from Bernard's arms, he leaped at the tree-trunk and shimmied up in no time.

"Okay, Prim.  Are you ready to stop playing games and end this ridiculousness?"

"Now, I am, you adorable male," she purred, rubbing against him.

Mary gasped in surprise and anticipation as first Buster and then Primrose began their backward descent.

"Good girl, Primrose.  That's the way.  Come on!  Way to go, Buster," she encouraged. "I can't thank you enough, Bernard, and Buster, you sweet guy, I love you!  Thank you," said Mary as the duo reached terra-firma.

She stroked Buster's fur with one hand, holding a contented Prim in her other arm.

"It's almost like they understand each other.  Uncanny!  How does Buster do it?"

"Wait, I'll ask him," answered Bernard, winking at Mary sardonically.  "Hey, Bud, tell Mary why Prim followed you down."

Buster's answering howl was long as it was loud.

"I can almost imagine he understands you and is answering your question!  Well, what did he say," she asked, making quotation marks in the air.

"He said that Prim, like all other felines, is a copy-cat.  He also said that he's paw-sitive it would have been cat-astrophic if he hadn't saved the day!"



*Ixnay with the eaking-spay = pig latin for nix the speaking (meaning....don't speak)





Friday, 3 March 2017

Muslim and Non-Muslim....An Encounter

I was tired and wanted to go home, but had one last chore. I couldn't let Bubba our cat starve, so I went to Walmart to buy him some food.

As usual, it was hard to find a spot to park the car, so I ended up near the back of the lot, far away from the entrance.  "Oh, well, the extra steps will be good for me," I reasoned.

I got out of the car and started towards the store.  As I did, I passed an elderly, covered Muslim woman who was walking very slowly, her arm linked with a younger woman. I assumed she was her daughter.  I smiled and greeted them both and continued. 

When I was about twenty metres ahead of them, I felt something in my spirit telling me to stop, turn around, go back to that old lady and give her a hug.  I stopped, but started second guessing myself. I dismissed the feeling, thinking it had to be my imagination. If I did that, I reasoned, it would be so uncomfortable.  The old woman and her daughter would think I was crazy.  It was just my imagination!  I shook off the impulse to turn around and continued walking.  I'd gone another ten metres when the feeling came upon me again, but this time it was much stronger.  This time it was a command. "STOP! TURN AROUND, GO BACK TO THAT OLD WOMAN AND GIVE HER A HUG!" I stopped again. I knew it was the Lord.  I know from experience that when I get a command like that, there is always a reason.  I know that if I don't obey, I will miss a great blessing.  So, I said, "Okay, Father. They will think I'm completely nuts, but I'll do it."  

By then, the women were about ten metres behind me.  I turned around and approached the two nervously, but determined.  

I stopped in front of them, looked the younger woman in the eye and said, "I'm supposed to hug her.  I don't know why, but I'm supposed to."  I looked at the elder and went in for the embrace.  She was of course shocked, and therefore a bit stiff, but patted me kindly on the back as I held her tightly for several seconds. "I don't know why I was supposed to do that," I reiterated, looking once again at the younger woman.  "Well," she said, looking at me in a strange way, "We've just come from the hospital where my mother had an MRI. She really needed that hug."


  




Friday, 10 February 2017

El Orgullo Precede La CaĆ­da

Hace anos estuve en Grecia.  Tuve algunos amigos griegos que me ensenaron algunas palabras y frases griegas.

Una noche mi hermana y yo fuimos a un restaurante. En Grecia es normal ir a la cocina en algunos restaurantes de la familia.  Fuimos a la cocina y miremos dentro de cada olla. Decidimos lo que queriamos comer.  Fuimos a nuestra mesa.  

El camarero vino a tomar nuestro orden.  Yo, estaba muy orgullosa de mi griego (sabia aproximadamente 100 palabras) y de mi misma.  Era tan inteligente.  Estaba impaciente de mostrar a mi hermana lo inteligente que era.

"Ti thelate?" ("Que te gustaria?") pregunto el camarero.

Era mi momento para brillar.  Lo mire y dije con orgullo, despacio y con claridad, "Thea copella parakalo."

La gente en las mesas alrededor de nosotros empezaron a reir y el camarero tenia una gran sonrisa.  Yo sabia que habia cometido un error y estaba tan avergonzada.  Pero que dije?  Pense en lo que habia dicho.

De repente, me di cuenta de mi error.  Queria pedir pollo. La palabra para pollo en Griego es kotoupolo.  Debia decir 'thea kotoupelo' pero dije 'thea copella'.  

Habia hecho un gran error.  En vez de pedir dos pollos, pedi dos chicas.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Just A Love-Bump

The sea battered the rocks far below, spewing a spray of water that reached Claire high up on the cliff face.  She’d been standing there, staring at the rocks and spume-covered water for half an hour, unaware that her clothes were growing progressively damper. 

Voices from the past flooded her mind.   She was a happy child but when she was eleven she'd overheard one of her parents’ late-night conversations.  “I guess Claire might eventually get a job as a secretary, maybe a stewardess or teacher’s assistant.  What else will she do? She’s not nearly as smart or talented as her sisters or brother.” 

That was the year things had taken a downward turn.  On her report card, her teacher had so aptly put it, “It’s as though Claire has given up.  She doesn’t seem happy and she doesn’t try anymore.” 

Why should she have tried?  No one seemed to think she could succeed.  Better to get by.  Better to accept her lot in life.  She scraped through high-school and when she graduated she took a secretarial job.  She’d settled.  She’d always settled.

Claire went over and over it as she stood there on that cliff. She’d gone over and over it for the past three months with her psychiatrist and she finally understood why she’d been overlooked all her life---until now.  

Until now!  No longer would she sit back passively, smiling and congratulating others. Passivity: her nemesis.  Looking back at the countless opportunities she’d let slip by because she didn’t believe she was good enough, attractive enough, intelligent enough, she resolved that things were going to change. 

She had some innovative ideas that she was going to present to her boss; ideas that would make the company much more productive.  She’d talked to her councillor about them.  He thought they were brilliant and pressed her to talk to upper management.  Because of his help and his belief in her abilities, her confidence had increased.  To that end, she’d made the appointment and today at 5:00 o’clock, after work, she would take a chance for the first time in her life!  She was determined to show what she had, what she could do.  For the first time in many, many years, she felt truly happy.


She greeted the handsome, young couple with a warm smile as they approached her with their two rambunctious dogs.  Her heart overflowing with hope, optimistic and joyful, she reached down to pet the dogs.  The larger one bumped his nose into her midsection- just a love bump, really.  

Her terrified scream echoed across the water as she stumbled backward and fell to her death, on the rocks below.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Lesson Learned

"No, Doctor, her face isn't green."

These were the first words I heard as I struggled to force my eyes open.  The room was a spinning grey haze through the two millimeter slits that were my eyes. I perceived the shadowy outline of my mother across the room, holding the black, rotary-dial phone against her ear. She was evidently gauging the shade of my complexion.


"Fine.  Thank you, Doctor.  Yes, tea.  Right. Yes, okay.  I'll get her up now."


I heard the sound of the receiver being replaced none too gently in its cradle and then her approaching footsteps.


"Are you awake?"


Awake?  Was I awake?  I was awake in a groggy sense of the word, but why would I have been asleep?  I could now see the light shining through the window.  It was daytime.  I didn't take naps anymore. What was going on?  Why was I having such a hard time with my eyes and why did my tummy feel so funny?


"Come on. Get up."


She took me by my shoulders and sat me up.  Mistake.  The room whirled and lurched and my stomach roiled in acidic sympathy.  My mother recognized the extreme pallor that bleached my face. Letting go, she raced to grab the waste basket beside the t.v. and just in time held it under my chin as I retched and emptied the burning contents of my stomach.  I felt worse than I had felt in all of my seven years.  But why?  Why did I feel this way?


A memory hovered on the periphery, waiting to be recovered. Something about my cousin Marsha. What was it? Marsha came to visit from Detroit. I remembered that.  I was so happy she was here at my house in Stratford.  I loved my cousin Marsha very much.  She and her mother were going to stay with us for a few days. So happy. Now, what happened? Something happened with Marsha. Ohhhh, I remembered. We were in my mother's bedroom playing.  I opened a drawer and saw a small box with my name on it. I shook it. The contents rattled inside.  I lifted the top and discovered small white pills.


"These are mine," I advised her importantly.  "See, my name is right here on the box.  They're mine."


"So?"


"Do  you want some?  You can have some. I take them everyday!"


"No, thank you."


"Dare me to take some!"


"No."


"Dare me."


"No!"


"Okay, I'll take some anyway."


I retrieved a cup of water from the bathroom and downed three of the little pellets. There!  That'll show her!  They were mine and I could do whatever I wanted with them! Such power, such importance!


The next thing I remembered, was waking up on the sofa.  It seems I had swallowed sleeping pills.


My mother was, unfortunately, not at all sympathetic to my plight.  In fact, one might say that she was quite put out by my actions.  Compassion was in very short supply in the Gerofsky home that day.


"The doctor said that you have to get up and get some fresh air.  Go outside."


She helped me to my feet.


"Your brother and Marsha are outside.  Go."


The spinning had lessened by then, but the floor was still undulating slowly.  I lifted one heavy foot and stepping a bit too far to the right, stumbled.  Annoyed, my mother took my arm to steady me. With her grudging help, I gradually made it to the front door where she gave me an impatient nudge.


"Go."


The banister seemed very far away and the three stairs from the veranda to the sidewalk very steep indeed.  Hands outstretched, like a sleepwalker, I managed with mincing steps to reach the rail and seized it shakily. I could see my brother Barry and my cousin playing catch with my India rubber ball in the middle of the street.  I loved that India rubber ball and wanted to play!  It was mine!  
The rolling of the stairs could not overcome my desire to get my hands on it.  I continued with difficulty but made it to the sidewalk without incident.  Small, careful steps took me to the curb where I sat down heavily waiting for the shaking to stop.  I watched for a while as the ball was tossed back and forth and then stood up, determined to be part of the action.

"Throw the ball to me."  My whiny voice shook.  "It's mine!  Throw it to ME now."


My brother threw the ball a bit too aggressively.  It flew low and smacked me hard in my mid-section.  Down I went, gasping for breath. 


"Mom.  Arlene fell down!  Come and get her.  MOM!"


"Bring her inside," my exasperated mother yelled through the screen-door.


Barry and Marsha somehow managed to half drag, half carry me back up the stairs and into the house.


"Bring her into the kitchen."


There on the kitchen table was a cup of tea.


"Drink that." she ordered, pointing to the large cup.  "The doctor told me to give you something hot to drink." 


I did as commanded and picked it up, small hands trembling violently.  I brought the edge of the cup to my lips and took a mouthful of the just-boiled liquid. Fire! My mouth was on fire! The pain was shocking. My hands convulsed, the cup flew out of my hands and the scalding liquid drenched my shirt.  I screamed in agony. A whopping blister erupted almost immediately and covered my tiny seven-year-old body from neck to belly. 

Looking back, I wonder why a seven year old would be prescribed sleeping pills to begin with. Apparently, I'd often wake up at night and climb into my parents' bed for comfort. Perhaps they tired of this and resorted to drugging me.

My sweet sister Shelley thinks it was because they were contemplating killing me. I became a very whiny child after her birth.  She thinks they had no further use for me once she came along. In her words, "They had a replacement they liked better." 




* I have to give credit to Shelley for the title...and the punch line.

* Justin also deserves credit for helping me rewrite the last two paragraphs.

* In fact, there is a valid reason that I might have had sleeping pills.  I had major ear infections as a child. Perhaps I needed help sleeping through the pain.