HOMECOMING

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I hadn’t meant to stay so long.  Orders were clear: get in, gather the data, get out.  Unobserved, preferably.  No tampering with the timeline; no drawing attention to yourself.   I’d made other trips without incident and didn’t expect any this time, even if it was Paris, 1831.

I dove into the culture and studied the societal and political factors that would lead to the June, 1832 death of 800 insurgents.  Falling in love with Amélie was a surprise, but by June, 1832, we’d been living together for months and our child was nearly due.  Any thought of going back home had long left my mind.

I was confident I could protect her.  We would leave the city for the day.  It was her political student brother, Alain, that drew her to the streets that day to try to save him.  By the time I saw her face-down on the Rue du Bout du Monde, the city was in chaos.  I took a blow to the head and all went black.  I woke in our apartment to find Alain had survived and had dragged me off the streets.  We searched but never found her body.  In my desperation and grief I knew the only way I could save her was to go home.

Transport back to the Twenty-Fifth century was simple.  Activate my Travel Device and I would return, arriving the same day I left, February 15, 2415.  If not for the fact that it was DNA specific, I would have taken Amélie back with me long before.  Somehow I managed to appear coherent and convinced our project manager it was vital I return to Paris, 1832.  I tried two more times but no matter how I tried to alter the events of that week, Amélie died, her body never found.  My project manager was beginning to look at me strangely so when the assignment to study the Anasazi, 1275 A.D., Southwestern U.S. came up, I took it, hoping my nightmares of Amélie dying would fade with in the heat among the Anasazi.

It had been over two years, the memories of Paris getting dimmer, when I met Amy in the company cafeteria.  I’d been many places in time and she was fascinated by my history stories, though she never knew I was relating actual travel.  She was in Genealogical Research and only those of us in History Research time-traveled.  It was so easy to be with her.  It felt like coming home and I was able to finally put Paris, 1832, to rest.

Today’s trip had been tough, a week’s blizzard in 206 B.C. at the first section of the Great Wall of China in the Qin Dynasty had left me chilled to the bone.  I had just sunk down in my easy chair next to a roaring fire when Amy got home.

“Darling, how was your day?”  She called from the kitchen and went on before I could rouse myself. “I’m so excited.” she said.  Mimi meowed as Amy put out fresh food; water ran at the sink, a drawer opened, closed, ice tinkled in a glass.  The welcome sounds of home, especially after a tough travel trip.

“I just wish I had been able to find this before Mama died,” Amy hung her coat in the closet, “the missing link, my 7th great grandmother!  From there it was easy and I got back to 1832, Paris, to my 13th great grandmother, Amélie Gaubert.”

The truth was clear, even through tears; the tilt of her chin, her blond hair, wide smile, twinkling eyes; all so familiar; not identical, but a strong resemblance.  I had descendants generations older than me.

“She had a son, during the Paris insurrection of 1832.  She died giving birth so there’s no clue to the father.”  Amy crossed the room and lowered herself carefully onto my lap.  “Are you crying, darling?”

I wrapped my arms around her and our unborn son, “There’s nothing like coming home, to the ones you love; to family.”  I said, and kissed her.

[2nd Place Award, LinkedIn Writing Contest #15]

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NIGHTMARE

dandelion sky

image:wallpapersforest

It felt good to know who I was.  My job paid enough that I lived in Beverly Hills adjacent.  Just a one bedroom apartment but fine for a single, career woman.  Only ten minutes from work and in Southern California’s one to two hour commutes, I was living easy.  My circle of friends from church and I went to movies, ate out and cared for each other.  I was loving it.

When I moved back to California, Mother wanted me to live and work near her and Daddy but my skills meant LA’s financial center and living near them in Pomona meant a two hour commute.  Still, weekend trips were doable.  I had the best of both worlds.

I had lost weight, had a new wardrobe, learned which colors and hairstyles looked good on me, was taking voice lessons and singing regularly at church.  The new pianist had a red sports car.  He was cute.  Life was good.

Mother was working on family genealogy when I got to the house that Friday night.  The dining room table held picture albums and family tree info.  She jumped up, piled things together and fretted over how she meant to have the table cleared for dinner.  At his desk, Daddy gave me a warm smile, a kiss and a hug.

Mother made Daddy’s favorite meal of steak and baked potatoes.  As we ate, I asked Daddy about his work driving around Southern California to meet with churches that needed financing for construction.  The talk turned to the genealogy Mother was compiling.

I was content.  The old, Spanish house with craftsman hardwoods was filled with pictures of my brothers and sister and their kids, Mother’s plants and knick-knacks covered every space, her various projects were stacked around.  The book shelves were overflowing.  Cozy and lived-in.

Daddy pushed his chair back, took off his glasses and cleaned them with his napkin.  Mother was still eating tiny bites.

“I found pictures of the house we lived in when you were born.”  She said.  “I had two babies and a toddler, all in diapers.  Your father was out working all day.  We propped you up in the corner of the couch with your bottle.”  She sipped her iced tea.  “Mama” she went on, “came out for the weekend and said, ‘That baby is failing; if you don’t want her, I’ll take her.’”

A knife-like pain hit my gut. I couldn’t breathe. I flushed hot.

“Well, it scared us to death, of course.  We never did that again.  We held you for every bottle.”  Mother went on cutting and chewing.  Daddy smiled at me and stood and carried his plate to the kitchen sink.

image:google images

image:google images

My head was spinning.  I didn’t remember the rest of the evening, but in the spare room, the twin bed tight against storage boxes, my sleep was flooded with old thoughts and feelings.  I didn’t fit in at school, was afraid to take an art class or join in sports or school clubs.  I could never make Mother happy.  She never approved of my hair, what I wore, what I wanted to do.  I never felt pretty or useful.  I was worthless.  I jerked awake as bile rose and threatened suffocation.  The pain in my gut told me I finally understood.

The next day I limped back to Beverly Hills adjacent, wounded and scarred.  One part of me weighed the facts: she was a young mother, busy, overwhelmed, tired; Daddy was working; they did the best they could.  The other part of me felt pain in my gut; ache in my heart; the need to know I was loved and valuable to Mother.  Life with Mother had always been about her, not me.  I felt weighted, drugged, my nose barely above the surface of heavy water, the swirling mists taking the shape of Mother.

I opened the door to my apartment and knew I had to choose.  I could drown in the nightmare of old memories, old programmed responses or I could embrace the new person I had become.  There was only one way out.  It would take time, but I couldn’t go back.  I would have to forgive.  I pushed through the heavy funk that swirled around me, opened the drapes and let in the light.  The specter of Mother in the murk faded away.

[3rd Place Award, LinkedIn Writing Contest #14]

Mirror Life

image:andrewkavanagh

image:andrewkavanagh

The walls were taller than I could see and the ceiling, if it was a ceiling, seemed to be a far off galaxy.  Both behind and in front of me, the walls stretched on and on.  I walked along trying to make out what was on the walls, squinting, straining, but the view stayed blurry.  Light seemed to bounce off the walls, sometimes showing the path clearly and other times I could only faintly see where to take the next step.  I’d go slowly then, careful to not stumble, which seemed to work out ok as the path felt smooth and easy.

From time to time the wall was lit by bright lights and beautiful colors strong enough to light up the brier ditch between the walls and the path.  Then the light that bounced off would die and I was surrounded again by dusk.  Other times the light seemed garish and harsh and strangely, fell to darkness before that ditch could be seen.

Maybe to really see I’d need to get closer to the wall but that meant I’d have to leave the smooth, easy path and cross through the briers.

I wanted to see detail.  I needed to understand.  I yearned to know more about those walls.  Why did they sometimes glimmer and other times feel dangerous?  Maybe I could jump over the ditch.  I needed to go.  I was afraid to go.  I could get scratched, wounded, harmed in that brier patch.  But staying on the smooth, easy path was making me uneasy, making me feel cheated, lost, unfulfilled, and empty.  I had to go.  I couldn’t go.

Was that Mother’s voice?  Yes, now I could see her.  She was on the other side of the ditch.

“I need……” she said, but her voice trailed off in the breeze.

How could I stay where it was safe and easy when she needed help?  I would go.  As I left the center of the smooth path and got closer to the brier patch it was clear I couldn’t jump it.  I’d have to place my feet carefully.  Slowly, wincing at the sting when a brier would scratch, I made my way through, until Mother reached towards me and pulled on my arm and I forced my way through the edge of the patch.

My legs were scratched, a drop of blood here and there but I’d made it.  Finally, I was close enough to see.  This world was lined with mirrors, not walls.  As Mother stood in front of her mirror, there were brief piercings of light and every now and then flashes of colorful flowers and birds and music, but mostly clouds of sadness and fear and pain blocked the light.

I walked on and at the next mirror found Daddy.  His mirror reflected blue sky, high mountain peaks, beautiful valleys and the sound of heavenly choirs singing.  I could feel the joy and peace flowing from the mirror, swirling around Daddy.  He smiled.

I didn’t want to go on.  I would stay and bask in the light of his mirror.

“This is my mirror.  You have your own journey.”  He said.  “Only you can take it, but don’t forget what I taught you.”

Tears in my eyes, a lump in my throat, yet excited for the adventure, I kept walking.  Each step I took drew me to other mirrors.  Friends, jobs, bosses, co-workers, family that kept multiplying, roommates, lovers; each had a mirror that was unique.  Years went by as I worked different jobs, lived in different places.  Sometimes there were dark clouds of pain and self-doubt in my mirror and from time to time a great light broke through and a celestial peace and joy swirled around me.  I learned I could not fashion my mirror for anyone else, nor could I force another’s mirror to reflect anything except the truth of their own choices.

Eventually my journey led me back to Mother’s mirror.  Hers was now alone, as Daddy was gone.  She needed me, so I stayed.  The reflection of my mirror often clashed with hers.  Her mirror pulled at me, drew me into its gaze, threatened to drown me; its tug strong as it pulled against the force of my resistance.

No, I wouldn’t go.  I would not embrace her dark clouds.  I’d worked hard to rest in the truth of my mirror.  I’d learned the ceiling to this life was that unknown galaxy where the Creator of this world of mirrors waits for each of us.  I would keep my eyes on Him who is author and finisher of our faith.

Resolved, I faced that I could love her but I couldn’t fix her.  All I could do was let the light of my mirror shine and pray she would make the right choice.

FIRST KISS

The idea had startled me but as we talked about it and I gave it some thought, it seemed the natural thing to do.  My brother, Mark, who had been my defender against teasing at school and who had made sure I went to college after our parents died my senior year of high school, Mark needed me to do this.  He was the one who had stayed by my side and helped me out of despair when my Ron was killed in that train derailment, so how could I refuse him?

His Elaine had been pregnant I don’t know how many times, but never able to carry a baby to term.  She was now desperate and Mark, faithful, strong, loving, rescuing Mark, had asked me to do this for them.

Why not?  Ron and I had no children, I would not marry again, and had no desire for children, but I could do this and give back to Mark some of what he had given me.

The in vitro was an easy outpatient procedure, a mere day away from work. I managed the museum staff by day and at night fed my cat and put my feet up with a book just as I had the last ten years.  The little fertilized seed grew.  I explained the favor for Mark and Elaine to my staff as I began to show and life went on, predictable and uneventful.

Mark and Elaine were thrilled.  Mark pampered and Elaine gushed and giddied and I smiled in indulgence.  Elaine had baby showers and everyone seemed so impressed I would do this, which seemed a little extreme; after all, I wasn’t doing much more than carrying the package for them.  I’d always been strong physically and while I will admit the last two months had been uncomfortable, none of it seemed that difficult or impossible.

Tonight, however, I could not rest or find ease lying, sitting or standing.  I’d been to the bathroom again as my bladder seemed to stay squashed and just as I maneuvered myself carefully back onto the bed, my water broke.  I called the taxi and Mark, and then waddled out the door.

“Don’t push!”  The nurse commanded.  The glare of the delivery room lights bounced off the white walls and bored through my closed eyelids as I huffed and panted and gritted my teeth through the long slog up the hill with each contraction and slid down the other side when they eased.  The sound of monitor beeping mingled with the overhead hospital intercom and the faint noises the nurses and doctor made as they worked.

Mark and Elaine, gowned and masked, on either side of the delivery table, gripped my hands; Mark telling me how great I was doing and Elaine crying.  She had pressed into my hand a small silver cross on a ribbon for her baby’s wrist and every push, every pain, every effort seemed poured into the rounded edges of that cross as it made indentations in my palm.

Then came the great wave of release followed by the sound of the first cry of the baby girl I had carried into the world.  My head was spinning as the nurses and doctor gave more instructions and worked to finish the job.  Mark pried his hand from mine and took the bundle the nurse handed him.

“Thank you,” he said into my eyes as he leaned over and placed the bundle next to me so that I could see what I had done for him.  His eyes brimmed with tears; his face was lit up with a huge grin.

She was beautiful!  I kissed her cheek and a huge rip opened my heart.  Out bloomed a wave of longing, love, desire and beauty.  All those things I hadn’t felt since Ron was killed.

Mark picked up his daughter and handed her to her mother, Elaine, whose face shone with joy even through her tears.  “Thank you, God.  Thank you, God.” she kept saying.

Those months of life pushing and kicking; that little heart beating against mine now pierced my heart and I was back among the living.  That first kiss had set me free. Free to ache, to feel sorrow and pain, free to cry again.  Through my tears I could see Mark with his arms around Elaine as hers held their baby girl, their heads bent together.  I wanted to be in that hug, but from here on out, I would be Aunt.

[2nd Place Award-LinkedIn Writing Contest #13]

Escape

image:scrapbookheavenga

image:scrapbookheavenga

I was in the kitchen when I heard the roar of propellers.  So loud, they must be right overhead.  In my gut I knew it had to be them.  I went outside and looked for the searchlights that would be tracking Buffalo and Bear Cub.  I’d told them it was dangerous to go.  Or maybe I just thought it but never said anything.

High in the sky, an outhouse, a blacksmith’s anvil and a Christmas tree, their propellers making waves in the air above them, were north of where I stood, probably just about at the 10 Freeway.  No circling.  No searchlights.  They just hovered.  Back inside I turned on the TV to see if I could find a news report and there it was.  Breaking news.

The news camera caught the tears that fell upward where they met the flames falling from the car as it careened off Buffalo and hit the trailer of the semi as it barreled east on the 10 Freeway.  Before the spinning and clanging were finished five more cars were tangled in the tears and flames.  No one said whether or not there was anything left of Buffalo.  They wouldn’t give names, until the immediate families were notified.

Was Bear Cub gone as well or had she left Buffalo’s side when she saw the car’s bumper about to reach her nose?

I stood rooted to the spot as the reporter droned on.  I’d wanted Buffalo out of my life.  I’d dreamed up ways to end our relationship.  I’d thought about how to leave without alerting the world outside our four walls what our life really was.  Oh, she cleaned up well and put on a good show, but that wasn’t the real Buffalo.  The party had been over for a long time and I had come to the point where I no longer wanted to dance.

When she brought Bear Cub into the house, I’d stepped aside with a mix of relief and dread.  It was bizarre watching my dance partner cook with someone else, all the while telling me her driving days were over, that she was just being kind to Bear Cub.  Did that innocent know what was ahead?  Was Bear Cub even innocent?

The news report was replaced by the blare of a commercial and I was jolted into action.  At the hall closet I pulled out the golf bag, went into the bedroom and stuffed in all the wallpaper that would fit.  If I hurried, I could be gone before anyone realized that I had been here when Buffalo and Bear left.  I could deny all knowledge of the real Buffalo and Bear Cub.

Years went by when that house and Buffalo were a blurred memory, the details of that time watery and undefined.  Was it even Bear Cub or was it Lamb that was there at the end?  I couldn’t remember.  I was too wrapped up in my new life with its Saran Wrap and I was grateful I’d escaped unscathed by those days.

One day not too long ago I found a picture of Buffalo that had been taken in the old family home one time when I’d taken her with me for a family get together.  That must be why the memories had begun to come back.  I looked on facebook and twitter and LinkedIn every now and then to see how Buffalo was doing these days but I couldn’t find her anywhere.

I don’t even remember the last names of Lamb or Bear Cub and anyway, they’d probably be married by now and have new names, because after all, who would want to stay with Buffalo over a lifetime?  It has never even occurred to me that Buffalo’s name might have been changed as well.

Last night I woke with my heart pounding; the wax paper covers binding one sweaty arm, one leg cold and shivering.  It may be nearly forty years but I feel her hot breath, her sticky paws.  They said she died in that late night crash, but I know she’s out there somewhere.  I know she knows my real name.

FASHION

image:DIOR

image:DIOR

I’d been waiting on the Sears Fall 1965 catalog for days.  Daddy’s income was barely enough to feed our family of six and there was not much for clothes, but I could dream and the catalog was my window into the world of colors, textures, patterns and designs.

When it finally came, I poured over the catalog, studying hemlines, styles and colors.  School that semester included Home EC sewing and with my babysitting money and fabric at $1.98 a yard, I was hopeful.  I spent hours at the drug store with the McCall’s and Simplicity dress pattern books and fingered all the fabrics.

“Are you sure you want this fabric?” Mother asked, a frown on her face.

We were in Greenbrae Drug Store, in front of a red satin fabric that glistened in the store’s bright lights.  Around us the murmur of other mothers and daughters swirled as they searched for the right sewing pattern and fabric, while from the overhead intercom Andy Williams crooned “Moon River.”

I stood there in my cut-off jeans, sleeveless, cotton blouse and white Ked’s tennis shoes and longed for some class beyond cast-offs, beyond plain, durable and serviceable clothes.  If I could make this dress, like Audrey Hepburn’s, maybe I’d find sophistication.  In one hand I held the A-Line pattern and in the other, a button card with two large buttons.

“Yes,” I said “this is what I want.”

“Ok, but it won’t be easy to sew this fabric,” Mother said, “and I’m not sure about the bright color.”

Undeterred, I labored.  Finally, my beautiful A-Line dress finished, my make-up perfect, hair washed, curled, teased and sprayed into place, I slid the dress over my head, pulled up the zipper, took a deep breath and went to look in the full length mirror in Mother and Daddy’s bedroom.

“It’s bright, isn’t it?” Mother said, putting on lipstick, her slim figure in a straight skirt of periwinkle and a flowered blouse of blue, periwinkle and pink, both of which she had made.

In the mirror, the stiff satin of my dress just hung there, no nice drape, it just ballooned out.  It had an orange tint to it I’d never noticed.  Like a huge tomato, I stood there, mother’s reflection behind me looking rosy and healthy in her periwinkle and me looking wan and washed out in reddish-orange.

I was devastated and embarrassed but I put on my best smile, after all it was Easter Sunday morning and we couldn’t be late for church in our new Easter dresses.

Creating my own fashion did not improve with time.  There was the double breasted coat dress that looked sophisticated in the Simplicity pattern, but the gray, cotton-linen blend I’d chosen wouldn’t hold its shape.  Then there was the red, long sleeved blouse with a Peter Pan collar I’d made to wear under a gray, wool, sleeveless shirt dress.  Sounded perfect, but the sheer fabric I’d chosen was too thin and delicate to be paired with the wool dress.

I was frustrated; unable to turn my desire into a garment that worked, with the correct drape, the right fabric, the tailored look.  The ability it took to make something classy was beyond my skill and patience level.  I felt impotent, ineffectual, depressed and drowning.  I pushed my way through the bleakness.  I would not let this beat me.  If I couldn’t make the look I desire, I would find a way to get. it.  I swam my way back to the surface, changed and energized.

I’m sure anyone who looked at my life today would agree I’ve reached my goal.  Here I am; a shining example to hundreds of troubled youth who are sent to my Care Foundation by concerned parents and the courts.  Some say I’m too harsh, but I believe the results speak for themselves.

Their tacky tee shirts, skinny jeans, leggings, exposed bra straps, baggy-low-riding pants, midriff baring, cleavage-enhancing bustiers, dreadful leather with chains, dresses with uneven hemlines that scoop up in front, short-shorts; all these are left behind. There are so many of these misguided ones who’ve marked up their bodies with tattoos our plastic surgeon stays busy. Their hair is tamed and trimmed and dyed by our stylists.  Oh, they might resist at the beginning, but they soon learn that the way to food and rest and peace is through obedience.  My staff makes sure of that.

Yes, I’ve arrived at my goal as I stand here on the balcony above them in my periwinkle Dior suit, matching Manolo Blahniks and a flowered Hermes scarf, with Wagner’s “Der Ring” sailing across the air from the sound system.  I blow through the whistle in my hand and my charges come to attention.  They’re stretched out below me, a sea of black-haired crew cuts in dark blue, tailored jumpsuits, with Peter Pan collars and wide leg trousers so eyes are not drawn to their curves or bulges.

There are those who say this intervention costs too much, but how can you put a price on perfect fashion?  I’ve saved these poor wretches from themselves.  One day they’ll thank me that they can make good choices, though they’re not ready for that yet.  They make such a good contrast to my color palette, don’t you think?

[3rd Place Award, LinkedIn Writing Contest #12]

Elastic Hands

image:123rf

image:123rf

The dishwasher swish-swashed through its wash cycle.  Still, the rainbird drank from full water pressure that spit out flowers and tweeting birds that flitted across the lawn.  Just as all the flowers had landed and the tweeting birds had found the high wire, it was the dishwasher’s turn to flush soapy water down the drain and take a long drink of fresh water that began the rinse and the feral cats ran to escape.

I hopped, one footed, diagonally across the kitchen tiles, counting the beats of the swish-swash, and avoiding the cracks in the timing of the rainbird.  One foot might work, but only if I had enough hands.

Mother asked for a bag of ice from the freezer in the garage.  Hand 1 gripped the key to the side garage door and reached towards the garage.

Mother can’t reach behind her toilet to clean the bathroom floor.  Hand 2 swiped the Lysol drenched sponge around the base of the toilet in the hall bathroom.

Mother has decided to work on some art and needs fine point, colored markers.  Hand 3 took the Visa card and headed for the corner Walgreens.

Mother will only drink purified, filtered, reverse osmosis water.  Hand 4 balanced the three empty, two gallon water bottles and left for the grocery store.

Mother’s scoliosis has twisted her back and made walking painful but she can walk enough to see that there are empty spots in the flower garden, so seeds and plants from Armstrong Garden Center at the ready, hand 5 digs holes in the garden soil.

Mother rests well at night, usually somewhere between eight and twelve hours.  The house is quiet and dark and it is the one time that I can block out her needs and try to rest.  That is I might rest if I could find a bed large enough for all these hands.  They get in the way, getting tangled under me when I turn from side to side in my sleep.  They remind me each day I’ll need to stretch.  In fact, I’m sure there’s something else that needs doing because this morning when I woke up, there was a sixth hand.  There had to be, or else how could I type this?

From Here to There

Sparkly flits and spurt bugs have run wild,
brandishing a trail of psyche inevitably.
Grapple hooks flat,
impenetrable brain’s surge
drain dense and sluggish,
once jaunty and fresh they swarmed and skirted until
today’s rest, their gray now flogged.

But despair not, the hot-cold soiree may seem wryly random
but does it not whelp a shine,
a flight with no observable track?
Is it not the grunge gate that purges and solidifies?

If there’s no tree identity,
no purpose basket,
no goal spire,
is not all refrain?
What gain where there’s jellies
easy slide?  The track stalls on the gum.

Will beyond the blue
spring and dance those ids?
Prick away the dung towels for fragile?

It hails: squish the eyes,
catch the spring;
beckons that later gateway,
to yearn and hold during
Terra’s slog air
that began tiny, white,
on its tattering to its end,
where wasted away to minuscule,
all the in between fluff and bluster
have erasure swap,
it’s begun its morph.

image: google images

image source: google images

The ether burst is bright,
unvarnished, yet savvy.
The flight arrived,
the exodus completed
at last deemed quit.

But, hark!  It’s not quit,
it’s just begun,
this time without the drag,
the sobriety chip,
the overweening searchlight.

Welkin punches no such tickets.

BALANCE

image:google images

image:google images

The moon filled the entire sky. Its shine lit up the ice cream peaks below me as I curled my toes around the high-wire, my bunny rabbit in one hand, the other hand outstretched towards Roger Miller who labored over ebony and ivory as he and his piano kept disappearing into a cloud, then reappearing just at the crescendo of the chorus.

I couldn’t see the end to my journey but I walked on, my six-year-old toes curled around the wire. They seemed to work like Velcro while Roger played, but in the rests they loosened and felt more like silk on the high-wire. I held my breath until the rest gave way to melody and my feet Velcroed once again.

The air began to warm as we left the ice cream peaks, but I’d captured some of the creamy vanilla in my pocket so I wasn’t worried. A huge dark peak poked up into the sky. The wispy clouds around its top saw me and rushed to surround me with their warm aroma that made my stomach rumble. My energy was sapped; I was ravenous and parched, weaker by each step. If not for the Velcro and Roger, I would swoon at any moment.

With a sound of rolling thunder, the top of the volcano peak burst off and a jet of chocolate sauce shot up then fell ground ward in splurts of thick sauce, Hershey’s Kisses, Butterfinger bars, chunks of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, Reese’s peanut butter cups and M&M raindrops.

image:bigstockphoto

image:bigstockphoto

Were my arms too short to reach? With my free hand, I dug in my pocket, pulled out the creamy vanilla and reached out towards the jet spurt. My little muscles straining, aching, lengthening out, twelve inches, eighteen inches, twenty-six inches, thirty-three inches until, yes! The rich, brown, steamy sauce drenched the ice cream, the smile on my face matching the length of my reach. I drew my hand to my face, the bunny in my other hand-held straight out to better my balance and took a bite of my Dairy Queen Dilly Bar.

The joyous, rich flavor surrounded my teeth and filled my brain with a cold sweetness, my hunger and thirst forgotten, my knees bent in enjoyment and my toes and hands smoothed out. My bunny floated away. I had paid no attention to the three-quarter rest in Roger’s music so Velcro and balance on the high wire were lost.

image:wholespice

image:wholespice

I belly-flopped into the spew of sweet. I sank downward, the chocolate ooey-gooey bounty swirling around me as we descended, filling every pore, every crevasse, coating my hands, my face, my legs, my arms with sweet.

I fell, fell, fell, fell, until slowly the chocolate candy river faded away; brightness pressed against my eyelids and strange sounds began to beat against my eardrums; a digital intermittent beeping, a ping of electrical equipment, a drip of fluid through plastic tubing, faint worried voices.  One sonorous nagging voice broke through clearly,

“There is a balance to managing Diabetes,” the doctor was saying, “and binging on chocolate is not included in a healthy lifestyle.”

“Will she recover from the coma?”

I recognized my oldest daughter’s voice. It had that same urgent, irritated tenor she used when scolding her small children. It was the same tone my mother used to correct me when I was six.

“Possibly.” The doctor said.

Should I go or stay?  In the distance I could see that chocolate river, bumpy with round, square and oblong candies.  I had been a champion swimmer in high school.

3rd Place Award, LinkedIn Writing Contest #11

Dreamland

The funky chicken squawked the song of early morning reveille, shook the window panes and jarred the coins in the glass jar on the bedside table.  The jingle, jangle jarred and jerked, until woken bleary eyed, groggy, grouchy, she grabbed away the sleep mask to seek the spot of the source of the racket that wrecked her rest.

Where was that funky chicken with his bugle blast?  She’d wring his neck, whack his bugle, burst his early morning, joyful gurgle.  Last she’d seen him he was paddling his pretty canoe down placid streams past private porticoes with their dangling modifiers hanging over the balconies.  Why now so loud?  What upset his rest, his swoon on elbows against pillows of drowsy delight?

image:walpaperpin

image:walpaperpin

Her eyes cleared, her head reared, all she saw was the bed, the mirrored closet door reflecting the rumpled duvet, at a jaunt on the right, softly pooled on the hardwood floors on the left; and there, the fingers of light filtering through the wood blinds told the tale of the early morning sun, not yet high, not yet bright, not yet hot.  No water, no streams, no floating past curtains of moss trailing their dross on the surface.

But wait!  Again the racket railed, the sound clanged and banged followed by squeals of machinery, the roar as an engine kicked in and the garbage truck moved five feet up the street, then puffs of air brakes and clang and bang, the symphony continued in four-four time.

She collapsed on the bed, drew up the duvet, pulled down the sleep mask.  Wait, funky chicken in your pretty canoe, wait for me, she breathed as she dropped back towards dreamland, take me down those placid streams past private porticoes.  Take me away.