I begin today this year’s fall-fifty-word-challenge. Some of these small pieces may be kitschy; some may be tongue-in-cheek; and some may not have as much to do with Halloween as with the darker aspects of life in general. I confess I wrote this one sans prompt. I intend to post some prompts for those interested in participating.—Margaret
Sitting on the toilet lid, she slumps against the bathroom wall, her eyes fixed on the shower curtain, the spoon fallen to the floor, blood trickling down her arm.
They found her blue-lipped. Her sister said it was China Girl, come to take her from the pain.
I made a recording of my last blogpost. And I have started a podcast on Spotify. I hope to have a Youtube channel as well. With both venues, I am primarily interested in storytelling.
I have really missed gathering for public readings during the pandemic. Recording stories has been a longtime desire, even before the world changed so dramatically. WordPress made it so easy for me to take this step when they directed me to the Anchor platform.
This is a beginner’s efforts, but I hope you will enjoy. — Meg
Here is a fairly unrevised response to a writing prompt from a writing group meeting a couple of weeks ago. I wrote this in my favorite little 4×7 spiral notebook I use to write fiction and track expenses and doctors’ appointments. I did not write this on a keyboard, neither did anyone else. And when we shared our results out loud, we couldn’t always tell what we’d written! But I do think there is something to be gained from putting thoughts on paper. Ok, the prompt was as follows or I remember it as follows: Someone is lost or in danger and someone else shows the way to a hiding place. [We had five minutes to write.]
She felt alone, abandoned, recently expelled from her husband’s home. Her sisters and mother were far away in the hills. She sought shelter in the forest. The trees looked the same – uncompromising sentries, impenetrable gaze. Something tapped her on the shoulder. There was the sound of dry leaves like crackling skin. “I have room for you,” said a tree, “in a quiet place inside.” And the tree made her small, and she walked into a space between the arches of its roots and she opened a little green wooden door labeled #7. A kettle was on over a tiny stove and a fire of moss crackled on a tiny stone hearth. She lay upon a cushion of leaves and listened to the creaking of the tree trunk, its sighs the low moaning an old spiritual. She felt herself drift down, down into a dark pool and she dreamt of poppies and warm springs.
My first attempt at audio! Well, I have recorded a story for a journal, but this is my first attempt for the blog. You can also follow my podcast on Spotify. I am a beginner, so please have mercy. But I do hope you enjoy.
A magic man came to town. Promised me I would dance. (I couldn’t walk.) Offered me his hand. (If I took it I would change.) Taking it, I felt electric. I felt tears. I didn’t want him to see me cry. But he did and smiled. I began to move.
Toy rabbit (taken for “Smith’s Weekly), Sidney, 1945, Sam Hood
Before the travel ban I flew to attend a funeral. Everyone wore gloves and masks. The large man beside me spilled over into my seat. His unshorn feet and hands were a large hairy bunny’s. He smiled at me with an unmasked face. There was blood in his teeth.
Do not let bitterness build up within you. Let it flow out in your tears, flowing out of you and down and around, becoming lakes and ponds, rivers meeting with the sea and supporting creatures, evaporating and feeding life, becoming rain that quenches fire and thirst, renewing, refreshing, sustaining, gentling.
Granny’s housekeeper Maimie plucked the chickens and wrung their necks. There once was a chicken running around with its head backward because Maimie let go too early. You had to be first at the table first for Maimie’s legendary fried chicken or you were SOL.
Homeless Woman and her Dog, Simon Whitaker, flickr
The homeless lady we hosted for Thanksgiving brought all her stuff. The best was her dog. She had him do tricks. She also gave us each a trinket. At some point she pocketed some silver and a few of Daddy’s coins. We couldn’t believe Mama and Daddy just laughed.
When Papa was angry it was said he pointed with the electric knife he was using to carve the turkey. It was also said he shot at Mama’s spaniel. But I only knew him as the sleepy bear I leaned on while he drank scotch and yelled at Walter Cronkite.
I remember the year my sister made the pumpkin dump cake. It was the year we had Thanksgiving at St. George’s. It was the year sunsets hung in the moist air. The year we didn’t want to stress Mom. The year the surf was a disintegrating bridal veil.
I always had to prepare for Dan’s visits. His golden smashed the Waterford and peed on my Europlush mattress. I skipped our last date, my little white dog and I making a quiet exit out the back to the beach while Dan and his “blond” waited on the stoop.
She wore a red dress to the bank. When she was young the doctor said of the cinnamon candy stain on her tongue: “Now she will grow outward.” He and her mother had laughed. She would not get the loan. In the bathroom mirror she noticed the fraying neckline.
I started to smoke when I was thirty eight and away at graduate school. It was the exact opposite of my world. I accepted hand rolled cigarettes from a man not my then husband. When I see someone else making these seemingly innocuous decisions, I want to tell them: Don’t.
Underwater Thanksgiving at Rainbow Springs, FL, Florida Memory, flickr
I will miss Aunt Maureen’s Thanksgiving oilcloths, wreaths of fake fall leaves, tablescapes of pilgrims and Indians sitting down to carve a huge, disproportionate, anachronistic cranberry jelly complete with the rings of the can. She forgot to wear a bra last year and we had to resort to plan b.
I had no truck with Granny’s warning fairy tale of the red shoes. I insisted on wearing the fire red cowgirl boots to church, danced in the narthex, stood up when the congregation sat down, rolled up my bulletin and pretended to smoke. Daddy preached while Mama ’bout died.
When my father called me Satan, my grandmother said “Come west. You were born under the snow moon, not meant for this.” Hiking from her cabin on the Conejos, my feet in the gravel, cliffs matching my ascent, the silence and sky held me.
The onset of bipolar was that night in her dorm room, a split from all of the slow sad suicidal days before until that moment she heard a voice she thought was God. Next day: euphoria, religious elation, creativity. She graduated, went home, told her parents. “Take Benadryl” they advised.
Jacinda and her tiny people lived in the mushrooms of Muir Woods. It was very dry. Her house was decaying prematurely. When she came home from foraging she tried to slam the door to show her frustration but the dehydrated stalk meant the nice arched door no longer fit.
North Carolina summer night at Mama’s, with Jeff playing with the boa as it arcs and stretches toward the chandelier, the sweet scent of mountain laurel wafting through the window, Jeff and I doubled in fits of laughter, high. Mama turning on the light, glares. Party over.
Three loose limbed gazelles, free of shoes, of hair stays, of parents, of brothers, running full tilt under a black sky, a full moon, the green grass under bare feet, a sprint from post to post, long hair liquid, laughter escaping lungs a long held secret.