Breath

girl-1195425_960_720

We left her behind.  The baby Willa took.  Willa was beside herself, clawing at me, pulling at her clothes, her hair, begging to take the child with us.  But I won’t inflict that pain on anyone else.

They will be looking for her soon.  It won’t take long for the authorities to connect the dots that lead straight to our home.   We have to run.

Willa isn’t well.  The truth is unavoidable now.  It’s no longer hiding, the storm just beneath the surface of our marriage.  She will never recover from our loss.  I should get her help.  I should.  A better man would.  But I won’t survive without Willa.  She is the breath in my lungs.  I will watch her.  I will keep her from wandering.

We stop to rest, and I fall asleep with her in my arms, exhaling softly against my chest.  In the morning, her side of the bed is cold once again.

 

For Story a Day and the Daily Post using characters from yesterday’s story.

Advertisement

Drawed

everyday-912097_960_720

“Bubba….when it comes to six-month old Mahdisyn….you ARE NOT the father,” the talk show host declared on the television screen.

“Ha, I knew it,” Connie laughed, popping a handful of cheese curls in her mouth.

She heard the engine of the school bus idling outside, followed shortly by the squeak of the front door opening, her six-year-old son Kevin coming up the steps.

He entered her bedroom clutching a sheet of construction paper, wearing the same downtrodden expression he had since his father moved out of their home.

“Here, mommy, I drawed a picture of you today,” Kevin said, handing her a picture of a blubbery woman lying in bed holding an orange bag, the floor around her littered with garbage.

Connie stood from bed, turned off the TV and stretched, deciding it was time for a run.

The prompt for the six sentence story challenge this week was draw.

 

 

Parents

photo-20160125132605717

Seeing the familiar sunflower bushes that had grown outside the wrought iron gates since my childhood stirred up the familiar sensations of anxiety in the pit of my stomach.  I kept these monthly visits with my parents short and sweet.  I knew I was the black sheep, the youngest and least successful of the three children.   A humble bartender, college-drop-out, living in a small apartment on the wrong side of town.  Not married.  I could hear their questions now.  My stomach cramped.

At least my two older siblings wouldn’t be there.  The golden children.  I tried to avoid visiting when they would be here, but it still broke my heart a little that we weren’t close anymore.

“Mom!”  I called out.

“In here!”

My mom was lying in bed, unheard of at 12 pm, her face bare with dark circles under her eyes, staring into nothing.  I rushed to her side.

“Your father filed for divorce,” she told me in a hoarse whisper.  I embraced her sadly, feeling the tension release.

For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Nature

photo-20160104141846369

“Don’t you think a skeleton is a bit of a creepy decoration for a baby’s room?”  Nadia asked.

“Of course not!”  Tara rubbed her swollen belly.  “Marie is going to be a doctor.”

“You know that already?”

“Yes,” Robert interjected.  “Tara and I are both respected doctors.  It will be in her blood.  We think her specialty will be orthopedics.   Every bone will be labeled with its name so she can learn them from a young age.”

“She’ll have a leg up on the competition once she’s in medical school.”

Nadia shook her head, deciding to keep her mouth shut.

Thirty years later, the skeleton sat in Marie’s bedroom in her new home, spray painted every color of the rainbow, wearing glasses and a wig.  A framed photo of one of her award-winning art installations, on display in a museum in Boston, stood next to it. Her aunt Nadia had her arm wrapped around her in the photo.  They had matching smiles.

Every Family Reunion In the South

pie-50407_640

 

“Do you remember Cousin Fifi?”

“No ma’am.”

“Yes, you know her, the one with the green eyes?”

“No ma’am, I don’t think I do.”

“You know, Cousin Fifi. She used to be married to Junior. They drove that green Cadillac?”

“Hmmm…no, I still can’t place her.”

“Remember – she used to keep you when you were little.”

“Ohhhhhhhh Cousin Fifi. Yes, I used to love her when I was a kid. I miss her. Is she coming later?”

“No, she died. The funeral is next Saturday.  Do you want to ride with us?”

Long pause.

“Let me get back to you.”

Get Happy – Conclusion

Today I get to combine two assignments in one.  First I revamped my blog based on tips from Blogging 101 – Day 2.

Next – Open  University Assignment: Start Writing Fiction 1.4 Portraying a character

Now present your new character in the four different ways outlined in Activity 7. Here they are again:

  • Make a summary of what the character is like.
  • Show him or her through appearance.
  • Show him or her through a habitual or repeated action.
  • Finally, show him or her through a speech in a scene.

*

swiss alps

There was a knock at the front door.  Sara had just stepped out of her dress and was about to pull on a pair of worn jeans and a t-shirt, preparing to meet up with some friends a few blocks away for a drink.  She wanted to spill all of the details of her date that never was.  Her eyebrows raised, she slowly approached the door as though there were some sort of deviant on the other side.  She never got unannounced visitors, especially this late at night.  Had the elusive Chet tracked her down and decided to apologize in person?

She padded across the dusty hardwood floor in bare feet and peeked through the peephole.  It was Amy.  Sara stepped back from the door and sighed.  Her sister was ready for round two she guessed.  Well, she was too.  She quickly whipped the door open and could tell she’d startled her, which pleased Sara the tiniest bit.  Sara just stared back at her, eyebrows still raised, as if to say, ‘Can I help you?’

Thirty miles away, in a sad little suburb in a sagging house on a toy-littered cul-de-sac, Amy and Sara’s mother, Helen, poured herself her fifth glass of wine of the night.  Her husband was settled in in his usual spot in front of the television in his armchair, laughing at some dumb, subtly sexist sitcom.  One of those where the wife is impossibly gorgeous and the husband is bumbling and overweight and goofy, but the disparity in their union is never mentioned.  Helen often wondered why the reverse was never portrayed.  A gorgeous guy dating an average-looking woman?  Perish the thought.

Helen stumbled upstairs to her bedroom, settled into her usual spot on her king sized bed that she usually slept in alone while her husband snored away downstairs in his easy chair, and opened her laptop.   She had a new email.  Unusual for that time of night.  She assumed her friends were already asleep.  At some point, after her girls had grown up and moved away, most of her social life had disappeared as well.  She hadn’t realized that most of her friends were ones of convenience, ladies she could talk to at school events and play dates as the kids ran around.  Much of being a parent was just sitting around with other parents, sipping bad wine and complaining about your husband.  None of the parenting books told you that, but it was true.

Now she was down to two friends she was in regular contact with.  An old college friend with whom she’d maintained her friendship throughout her marriage and the raising of her children, though it hadn’t been easy.  Marjorie was single and had never desired a husband or children.  It made things awkward when the girls were young, but now it was almost like things were back to normal.  They were both unencumbered, not that that meant her life was much more exciting.  She and Marjorie did little more than have lunches and talk about books they’d read.  They played around with the idea of taking a long trip together, just to the two of them, similar to an epic road trip they’d taken when they were 19, driving from their college in Georgia all the way to New York City on a whim to see some band perform.  But now, neither of them seemed to be able to make firm plans.  Maybe they both knew those days were behind them.

Her other friend was Nancy, a woman who was the mother of Amy’s long-time best friend, Amber.  They ran into each other all of the time, especially at all of Amy’s pre-wedding festivities.  Amy seemed to still be under the impression that Helen and Nancy were close, and always included Nancy and her husband whenever she planned family get-togethers.  The truth was, Nancy was a friend of circumstance.  She didn’t dislike her necessarily, they just had nothing in common beside their girls.  Whenever they were left alone they found that they had little to discuss with each other besides mundane things like the weather and fashion.  But sometimes they exchanged funny emails, usually stories about something Amy or Amber had done that confounded them or made them laugh.

Before opening her email, she checked Facebook and held her breath, hoping the first image that assaulted her eyes wouldn’t be that of her youngest, Sara, downing a shot of something dark and suspicious looking, which was usually the case.  But no, there was a picture of Sara in Amy’s living room, all made up, clearly Amy had done her makeup with a heavy hand, in a lovely dress that made her look like a cinema star from the 1940’s.   She looked like Helen 30 years ago.  The same chocolate brown hair; Helen’s mane was still lustrous and shiny but now tinged with gray, but she still had the long, lithe body from the Pilates DVDs she used religiously six days a week, and the wide green eyes that she’d bequeathed to both her daughters.

She stared back at her Facebook timeline.  Amy must have taken the picture of Sara.  Her mouth smiled, but her eyes told a different story.   “Off to a double date!”  Amy had written in the photo caption, followed by a million little smiley faces and other indecipherable emojis.  Sara looked beautiful, of course, both of her daughters were beautiful, but not quite like herself.  Poor Sara.  Helen knew this whole date thing couldn’t have been Sara’s idea.  Her lovely, free-spirited daughter.  She envied her a bit.  All that freshness and spontaneity and youth.  She did what she wanted and didn’t care what anyone thought.  Unless Amy was involved.   She had a vision, many years ago, of sitting in Chastain Park chatting with Nancy and hearing terrified screams coming from the sliding board where Amy, Amber, and little Sara, only two at the time, had been playing.   The slide was for the bigger kids, too much for her baby Sara, but Amy had pushed her, only figuratively she hoped, until Sara had gone down all by herself, screaming and crying all the way.  She ran to Sara, where she’d fallen face down in the dirt  after the slide had propelled her little body downward at warp speed, wiped the dirt from her face, kissed her still chubby baby cheek and dried her tears.  Sara buried her head in her shoulder as she carried her back to the bench.  “What a baby,”  Helen had heard five-year-old Amy whisper to Amber as they’d both snickered.  Sara had quietly sniffled in her lap the rest of the afternoon.  Helen had wished since that day that Sara would stand up for herself more when it came to Amy; clearly she’d been bullied into this blind date business, but she tried to stay out of her daughters’ squabbles.

She went back to her email and saw the new message had been sent an hour ago from Amy.  It was link to a hotel confirmation for a resort in the Swiss Alps booked in Helen’s name, a package that included multiple guided hikes through the mountains, and a link to an airline gift card that would more than cover first class airfare for two.  She clasped her chest and sucked in a deep breath.  Amy.  She’d remembered her whispers.  Helen could still feel the weight of her smaller head against hers, years ago on this very bed.  She’d felt so lost, disillusioned with life and marriage and motherhood.  She’d had no one to confide in.  All of her mom friends seemed so happy and content.  Marjorie would have just said, ‘I told you so.’  She had been convinced since college that marriage was just a sham perpetuated by a patriarchal society set on keeping women from realizing their true potential.  Therapy was out of the question.  Sara was so young and running wild, never noticing her mother’s unhappiness.  But it was Amy who would crawl into bed with her and ask, “Mommy, what is it?  What’s wrong?”  And she’d told her.   Her 10-year-old daughter had been the only person with whom she could be honest.  Horrible parenting, she knew, but she also knew those clandestine talks had saved her life.

Helen forwarded the email to Marjorie and said, “I’m in.  Are you?”  She only had to wait five seconds before she got her response, an enthusiastic, “YES!!!”

Helen closed the computer, steadying herself, then stood  and made her way back downstairs.  Walter was nodding off in his chair, the television and the dumb sitcom still droning on.

“Walter!”  She shook the chair to rouse him.  Her husband stirred and slowly opened his eyes with surprise.

“I’m going on a trip with Marjorie.  To Switzerland.  We leave next week.”

“Errr…okay….” he mumbled groggily.

“And when I get back.  I think we should see someone.  A therapist or counselor or something.   Our insurance should cover it.  Maybe not a top-notch one, but someone.  I’m unhappy, Walter.  I’ve been unhappy for a long, long time.”

Walter looked confused.  He was a simple kind of guy.  As long as he had his family, his TV remote, cold beer in the fridge and money in the bank, he was a-okay.  It was one of the reasons she’d married him.   She knew he would be loyal and sweet, only needing her and their little family, nothing more.  Unlike her own philandering father.  But she wouldn’t think about that now.  That would be a story for the therapist.  The only thing she had to do now was pack.  She hurried upstairs, without stumbling, seeming to have sobered up completely, leaving Walter’s perplexed face behind her.

Back at Sara’s doorstep, Amy was still standing in the hallway, waiting to be let in.  Sara saw something that slightly resembled regret in her eyes, and reluctantly stepped aside so Amy could get past her.  She’d changed too.  She wore her gym gear, a light blue jacket, yoga pants and two layered multi-colored tank tops, her face scrubbed and her hair pulled back.  She was such a beauty, so ethereal-looking, with her naturally clear translucent skin, auburn hair warming her face, her cheeks red from the cold.

Amy stepped inside and started to look around.  Here we go, Sara thought.  She knew Amy would comment on the hastily discarded dress on the floor, the books scattered all over the couch and her bed, since her apartment was so small she could see through the open door of her bedroom from the foyer.  There were dishes in the sink waiting to be washed and dried, a basket full of clean laundry waiting for Sara to pick through and find a clean top to wear out.   But when she really looked at Amy she seemed to be seeing her humble little apartment for the first time.

And she was.  Amy was seeing the wall of bookshelves their father had put up for her, remembering Sara always said she wanted a wall of books in her house when she was all grown up.  A declaration she made after she saw the epic castle library in their favorite movie as kids, Beauty and the Beast.  She saw all of the keepsakes for her travels around the world, a framed photo of her and a friend in the Andes Mountains, stunning pink and aqua blue coiled sea shells, unusual-looking red and brown rocks saved from various hiking trips, white sand collected from a Thai beach in a bottle, the words Samui Beach scribbled on the glass.

She saw another shelf lined with a collection of used vinyl containing some of her favorite bands and an old-fashioned record player. A well-worn guitar leaned against it, which Sara had spent many hours learning to play as a teen, despite Amy’s telling her it was a waste of time. The living room had a wide open space of empty flooring, the only furniture was a small, dark red love seat with bright throw pillows and a side table.  Stepping closer, Amy saw the framed photo that sat atop it.  It was her and her sister, arms around each other, the ocean behind them, the wind whipping their hair around their faces.  It was during their last sister trip.  Two weeks before she married Steve.  Of course Amber had thrown her a huge bachelorette bash a month prior, but this had been a special trip just for them.  They’d gone to Miami and had the time of their lives.  They’d sunbathed every morning, gone running on the beach every afternoon, eaten and drank whatever they wanted, and at night, they’d danced to exhaustion.

She realized her sister was different and free and mysterious, all the things she wasn’t, but that was okay.

“What is it, Amy?” Sara asked, arm crossed, but her face softened a bit.

Amy put her bag down on Sara’s loveseat and pulled out a bottle of red wine.  “I’m here to drink wine and dance with my sister.”

A slow smile spread across Sara’s face.  “What??”

“Put on Nevermind.”  She was still giving her sister orders, but this one Sara didn’t seem to mind.  She went to dig through the album collection as Amy braved the messy kitchen to find two clean glasses and a corkscrew, not an easy task, but as she returned to the living room she heard the beginning strains of Lithium.  She handed a glass to Sara and started to play air guitar.  Sara shook her head and laughed at her dorky sister.  When the chorus hit, they both began to sing at the top of their lungs and sort of jump dance around the room.  As Amy danced she looked at her sister’s flailing body, her hair whipping all over her face as she sang, then pictured her mother on a mountaintop, her closest friend at her side, breathing in the crisp, cold air and sighing deeply, an expression of profound contentment on her face.  Amy said to herself silently, ‘So this is what it feels like.’

Get Happy

Open University – Start writing fiction – 1.3 Sources of characters Assignment:  Imagine a character very like you but give him or her a dramatic external alteration. You might make the character the opposite sex, for example, or make them significantly older or younger. You choose.Now write a brief character sketch in which you reveal the character’s appearance, their feelings about it, and their current circumstances. Use a third-person narrator (‘he’ or ‘she’).  This character is very much like me, but I changed her race and made her single instead of married.

shoes

Sara shimmied into the warm restaurant through the throngs of people, tightening her coat as girls her age around her shed their outerwear and slung them over tables and empty barstools. The restaurant smelled of garlic and olives and full-bodied wine.  Very American-Italian.  Not Italian-American, an important distinction.  A bad choice for a blind date.  Too loud, to aromatic, too warm, too trendy.  Trying too hard.  Just the kind of place Amy would pick. She wasn’t ready for what her sister would call “the big reveal.”  She’d let Amy make her up.  The works.  Dark-rimmed eyes that made the gold in her green eyes glow, pouty red lips, something called contouring, very popular with the reality star set, that made her already prominent alabaster cheekbones even more angular.  Her chocolate brown hair was shiny and blown out, hanging sleekly just beneath her shoulders and parted down the middle.  She’d let Amy talk her into heels.  Stilettos!  For goodness sakes.  She walked in them well enough, but they were so uncomfortable she didn’t understand why anyone would willingly stuff their poor helpless feet into them.  Besides women like her with pushy big sisters.  Sara felt like a contestant on one of those dumb reality dating shows. She normally wore flats.  With worn jeans and T-shirts with ironic sayings or tights with ballet slippers and 50’s A-line skirts with retro blouses, sometimes short floral dresses and flip flops in summer with chunky shoes and frayed denim jackets.  She didn’t wear stilettos.

“It’s just to get him interested,” Amy insisted as she added some blush to her already rouged cheek.  “You can go back to being you in a few months…it’s just how it works.”

She was meeting one of her brother-in-law’s childhood friends, a man unfortunately nicknamed Chet (could she marry a man who freely called himself that?) who was newly divorced.  Sara thought it was too soon for him to be dating again.

“Come on, Sara, just meet him,” Amy had insisted.  “Plus, I know you’re sick of being single.”

Am I? Sara had thought.  It was just like Amy.  If she wanted something, everyone else must have. Her life was of course the default master plan that everyone craved.  Amy would never understand that she liked solitary nights next to the open window in her small apartment, sipping good wine and reading a book, letting her feet rest against the window sill, feeling the delicious chill of the wind between her toes.  She liked eating in bed without anyone complaining about crumbs, watching whatever movie or show she wanted on television, not having to talk at all for hours if she didn’t feel like it, she liked waking up on a Saturday morning and doing whatever she wanted to do whenever she wanted to do it, she liked being able to call a girlfriend and plan a spontaneous adventure, no husbands with whom to smooth things over or babysitters to arrange.  She liked her life.  But this was Amy.  And for some reason, since the day Amy convinced her to go down the big slide on the playground at Chastain Park when she was two, even though her legs and arms were shaking and she’d nearly wet her pants, she hadn’t been able to say no to her.

Under her tightly wound coat she wore a dark red dress with a V-neck criss-cross neckline and an A-line skirt that swished as she walked.  It wasn’t really her, but she’d felt adventurous when she bought it a year ago.  It’d hung in her closet forever, waiting for the day it would make its debut.  She feared she’d wasted it.  She wanted to wear it on a date with a guy she’d already met and was maybe a little in love with.  Not full on, let’s run off and get married love, just fluttering in the belly, tingling in your toes, can’t stop smiling all day, goofy kind of love.  She would have worn it to a place where a live band played old standards like The Way You Look Tonight or Fly Away With Me, he’d twirl her on the floor as she pressed her cheek into the curve of his neck.  So the coat was staying on, for now anyway.

She sat down at the bar, where her sister and her husband were already sitting, nursing glasses of red wine.  Sara had insisted on driving her own car.  Amy’s husband Steve was exactly what Amy said she’d always wanted, like she’d ordered him from a catalog.   Tall and generically Ken-doll handsome, romantic but in a conservative, non-overt way, polite, gentlemanly, always stood when Amy arrived and when she left, opened car doors and always paid the tab, no matter how many of Amy’s friends have been invited along.  They went from just friends, to boyfriend and girlfriend, to engaged and then married in six months flat.  All according to plan.

Sara confused Steve.  She could tell.  She only politely laughed at his jokes, stayed only as long as needed at his and Amy’s soirees so as not to be considered rude, and turned down every invitation to travel with them until they stopped offering all together. Sara liked alone Amy, not Amy-and-Steve Amy. It was rare to catch alone Amy anymore.

“Hi guys,” Sara said in a fake-cheery tone.

“You look great!”  Amy responded with a wink as Steve nodded.  She flipped her dyed auburn hair over her shoulders and blinked her matching green eyes excitedly at Sara.  People always asked if they were twins until Amy had lightened her hair.  Sara didn’t know if that was an insult or not since Amy was three years older.   “Take off your coat!”  Amy demanded.

Sara stood, noticing expectant, appreciative glances from men around the room.  The big reveal. Her face flushed.  “I’m a little cold,” Sara lied, sitting back down. ”

You’re so beautiful, Sara,” Amy had told her earlier that day, hanging a gold locket around her neck.  “You shouldn’t hide it.”

Sara had stayed silent.  Beauty wasn’t something that you could hide.  It was always obvious to those who were smart enough to see it.  She wanted be with someone who saw her, actually saw her, or else, what was the point?

“So, a bit of a setback,” Amy started in that babyish, sing-songy voice she used when she was about to deliver bad news.  “Chet is running super late.  He got held up.”

Sara raised her newly manicured eyebrows.  “Really?”

Steve nodded again.  “He just texted.  He’s really sorry.  He’ll be here in about an hour he said.”

“Oh, is everything okay?”

Steve and Amy exchanged worried glances.

“Of course, he’s fine, just a class ran late.”

“What kind of class?  Is he going back to college or something?  That’s interesting.”

A long pause. “No, not that kind of class.  It’s Heart Cycle.”

“Heart Cycle?  What in the world is that?” Amy released an elongated sigh, emphasizing for Steve’s effect how hopeless Sara was.

“It’s a new cycle studio?  It just opened in Buckhead?” Steve looked at Sara expectantly as if these details were supposed to jog her memory.  “There’s a two-page long waiting list to get in and he finally got in last month, but his favorite instructor was late for class today.  He felt really bad, but he couldn’t miss it.”

Sara looked at the gravely serious expressions on Amy’s and Steve’s faces, glancing back and forth to see if they were joking.  Then threw her head back and laughed heartily, so loud that half the diners dropped their forks and looked up at her, probably thinking she was deranged.

“Saaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaa…” Amy whined.  “You should be glad that he takes care of himself.  A lot of guys don’t even care about that stuff.”

Her admonishment only made her laugh harder.  She slid from the bar stool, still chuckling, and pulled on her coat. “You aren’t even going to wait?  He’s a really nice guy.”  Steve got that confused look on his face he always did when Sara didn’t behave according to his or Amy’s expectations.

Sara shook her head.  “You tell him I hope he enjoyed his class.” Amy put her hand on Sara’s arm as she turned to leave.  Her face was flushed red with annoyance. “What are we supposed to tell him when he gets here and you’re gone?”

Sara paused.  Then bent down and took off Amy’s ridiculous shoes and placed them on the bar, probably breaking a few hundred health code laws.  Her feet breathed a sigh of relief as she slipped them into the pair of flats she’d dropped in her purse just in case.  “Tell him I was never really here anyway.” She smiled at their dumbfounded faces, then turned her back to them and headed out the door to do…whatever the heck she wanted.  But first she would stop home and hang up her dress in its usual spot –  in anticipation of a night that was worthy of its presence.

Writing 101 – Day Twenty: My First Piece of Mail

Image

When I was about four years old, I received my very first piece of mail.  The first that I can remember anyway.  I could read a little by then, so when my mom showed me the postcard, my eyes lit up at seeing my name written in elegant handwriting.  The front of the postcard featured pictures from Charleston, South Carolina, my father’s hometown.  Old antebellum homes, women practicing the ancient art of basket weaving, palmetto trees.  I knew the city well, even at my young age.  We visited a few times a year, always staying at my paternal grandmother’s home.  When we made the five-hour drive, I would sit up front between my two parents (this was the eighties, when car seat laws were more lax) in our huge Chevy.  Even when we were miles and miles away, the windows down on both sides, I would imagine I could hear and smell the Atlantic Ocean.  I knew our trip would include a visit to Folly Beach, a favorite of mine because of the huge waves that I loved to jump.  If you were to ask my parents back then what my favorite part of those trips were, they would most likely say visiting the ocean.  It’s almost true.  It was a close second.

My favorite part was waking up early – I always woke up really early in those days, full of childish energy.  I would race downstairs, knowing my grandmother would already be awake.  I didn’t know what time she woke up, but it was always before me, unlike my parents who I always seemed to have to drag out of bed back home.  I would sit at the table and she would make breakfast, something simple like cold cereal or oatmeal, that I’d usually be too excited to finish.  And we’d talk.  Or I’d talk.  Mostly babbling about whatever was going on in my life at the moment. I was an old soul. She would laugh at my little jokes and anecdotes, then I would get up from the table, leaving most of my breakfast behind, but she’d never force me to “clean my plate” like most of her generation would have.  I’d run out of the front door to visit my cousins who lived a few doors down, feeling very grown up that I got to walk there by myself, not knowing that she was watching from the doorway until I made it safely inside.  Those few minutes every morning were my favorite.  I had my grandmother all to myself.

When I got the postcard that day, I read it aloud with my mother’s help.  It was from my grandmother of course, telling me how nice it was to hear my voice over the phone a few days ago, reminding me to help my mom take care of my brand new little brother.  I smiled and ran to show my dad, who saved it for years and years, until I was old enough to be entrusted with it.  Now it’s framed and sitting on the mantle over the fireplace in my home.  My grandmother passed away a year or so after I got that piece of mail.  I think maybe my most treasured possession isn’t the postcard, but my memories.  Not everyone got to have two awesome grandmothers as a kid.  So I treasure that postcard – that I still take out of the frame from time to time, and the fact that I can still hear her voice in my head as I read it.

Writing 101, Day Ten: Franks and Beans

beans and franks

Tell us about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.

It’s so funny to think of it now, but my favorite meal as a kid, simple as it is, was franks and beans. My brother and I visited my maternal grandmother often as small children. My Gram would always ask what we wanted for lunch – pizza? burgers and fries? mac and cheese? But we would always shout in a loud chorus, “Franks and beans!” Gram would chuckle and shake her head, heading toward the stove.

My favorite memory is a rainy afternoon, me and my brother sitting around my Gram’s dark wooden table in her warm, sweet-smelling kitchen, looking out the small window next to the cabinets as the raindrops streaked down the glass. I remember feeling so safe as my brother and I played some game we’d made up, the rules of which I can’t even remember now, as our lunch simmered on the stove. My Gram would pull a huge canister of our favorite beverage at the time, sweet peach juice, from her cavernous pantry and opened it with her dangerous-looking can-opener, deftly creating two perfect triangular holes on each side, it seemed like magic to me.

Looking back on it now, I realize now why that meal was always my favorite as a kid, besides the fact that Gram made it best, it meant fun, Gram’s house, playing with my brother, no worries, simplicity, safety, love. Not bad for a can of beans and some cut up hot dogs. Sometimes, every blue moon, and maybe today qualifies since there’s a full moon on Friday the 13th, I still make it for myself, curl up on the couch, watch cartoons, and pretend to be five all over again.