Storybook Corner: That Old Feeling

Storybook Corner



That Old Feeling

Word Count:  499

Beth and Nicky played in the cul-de-sac every day. Sometimes the twins, Joey and Thomas, would join in when they were done their chores. I watched them playing tag, or using fat pieces of chalk to draw stick figures on the road. Even in the dullbuzz of summer, they’d be out there. Sometimes Beth’s Mom would put the sprinkler in their front yard (which was the last yard before Magpie woods) and the kids would squeal and laugh, and cool off in the spray.

I lived in the house opposite Beth, and the kids knew me as Mrs. Z; I had cultivated the persona of the street Grandma. Sometimes they’d straggle over and I’d have pitchers of lemonade waiting, or ice pops ready in the freezer. They’d plop down around my kitchen table with red, sweaty faces, gawking at every single thing for as long as they visited. Beth liked my porcelain cocker spaniel collection. Nicky was partial to the faded ladder of notches in the kitchen doorway with the dates and ages. Joey and Thomas always sat close to one another, and ate and drank with a real desire to hightail it back outside. I didn’t mind; I know kids can be flighty. They’re like cats; make them think you’re not looking, and they relax.

One day, Nicky was standing in the doorway, intent on those grooves in the wood.

“Hey, Mrs. Z?”

“Yes, Nicky.”

“These dates and ages don’t add up.”

The twins crammed together on one seat, with a straw in each mouth, darted looks back and forth between Nicky and me.

“How do you mean, hon?” I was ready with my lie.

“Well, the first one… down here,” he pointed to the oldest one about a foot off the floor, “says three sixteen sixty four, and age seven, but the next one up says twelve twenty two sixty eight, and age six.”

They all looked at me. The twins were done sucking, but had forgotten to remove the straws from their mouths.

“Well, Fred, God rest his soul, and I, used to adopt cats. We had tons of them; strays, housecats, and barn cats. They never lasted longer than seven or eight years though. That’s all.”

“What happened to them?”

“Something must’ve got them in the woods,” I cocked a thumb in that direction, “that’s my theory.”

I watched his finger trail the lines. He looked through the side window of the kitchen to the tree line, and for a moment I thought he would ask another question, but he just shrugged. It was enough to break the daze, and pretty soon the kids were slurped and done, and back outside to play.

I kept an eye on Nicky for the remainder of the day, reveling in the old killing feeling, wondering if I could do it again, without Fred. And, forever grateful for his stern advice:

“Meryl, you tryin’ to get caught? Dates and ages is fine, but do not add the kids’ names!”


Friday Fictioneers: Love

Photo courtesy:  Bjorn Rudberg

Photo courtesy: Bjorn Rudberg



Word count:  97

It has been too long since she and I have been somewhere warm without the children. The curves of her body underneath a filmy red dress, so well acquainted, provoke desire which has never faded throughout the years. She is feeling heady, and amorous. I watch her, watching the musicians. She slides me a knowing look upon hearing the familiar strains of Chan-Chan.

She rises, and I with her. Finding room to embrace, and sway in time to the melody, we share love and passion without word or deed. I am the luckiest man in the world.

Peaks to Valleys


Carefree to careworn overnight. It’s been coming for a while; another rolling wave crashing upon a peaceful shore, threatening the careful facade, and fragile sandcastles.

The same old, same old worries and frustrations that dog us, bark alongside us, remind us of our position of lack, make it so difficult to turn that canine on its head, and find ways to express our needs and wants from a positive position.

The routinely outturned pockets, offering fluffy nothings. Holey clothes, children’s worn shoes wincing as for bike brakes. Desperate for respite.

The wave builds. The alcoholic crutch returns. The creeping excuses, and rationalizations. Building, building. Disgruntled. Self-judgment. More wine, please. More chips, please. Enabler, enabled.

And crash…

Tucked away today, in my cave. Tired. Thinking. Planning. Determined. Trying not to berate.

Dammit. Summer’s coming. Back on the clean wagon. Must to be fiercely erecting barricades all around to stop from falling off.

I hope I can still see the scenery through the gaps.


Gooses and Ganders

The bodypump instructor looks at me as we’re coming to the end of the class. Training our shoulders is the last thing we do with weights. Contrary to her recommendation, I have not loaded my bar. In fact, throughout the entire class, I have put whatever weight I feel comfortable with on that bar. I don’t hold with the run of the mill mindset that heavier is better. That the more you lift, the stronger you will become. Sure, your body will adapt over time but I don’t want to do that, I’m fine with a lighter weight, and lots of reps. She looks at me, and I see a sort of chiding in her eyes. We are both English too, so there’s a weird connection, as if we are comrades and I should do as she does because we are of the same cloth.

I run through a list of silly excuses if anyone should ask, because I feel that everyone sees even though I know that even if they do notice, what they have seen will be forgotten as soon as they leave. I think I can tell them that I am recovering from surgery, or an illness, or that my doctor has warned me to take things slowly. I laugh at myself for doing this, and for second guessing my actions. But it’s too late, I don’t have time to put extra weight on just to follow the herd. So, I carry on and I can feel my muscles working, and it is good. The next day, and the day after, I know that I didn’t slack off really because everywhere is sore anyway.

The other mother approaches the bus stop one morning last week. I am wearing my three quarter length workout pants, sneakers and a sweatshirt. I am planning on going for a run immediately after work, and there will be no time to change. Plus, my boss is out of town so I can pretty much wear what I like. But, I’m conscious that the pants are a bit too flary around the shins. I have never been able to find the regular leggings that fit past the knee. Frankly with my hips, I don’t think it would be a good look for me anyway. I watch the other mother but she doesn’t notice that I see her look at me from the waist down. I wonder what she thinks. Does she think that my thighs are too big? Or that the pants make my ankles look skinny? Or that I must have the day off because I’m dressed in workout clothes?

Later on, I take my first full run outside. The first for the year. It is hard work. I run much of the course the first time around. The second time, however, I walk more than I run. I wonder how the other mother is so slim.

I am an observant person. I notice the little things; looks, actions, and behavior of other people. I’m good at that. Maybe it’s a trait of the writer’s mind.

I am becoming more observant of the inside, too. The wagging finger and bullying voice that try hard to convince me that what these people see and think of me is important to me. That I must conform. That I must believe what I perceive. That I must believe what the thoughts are thinking up.

I was easily bent to their will as a teenager and twenty-something.  How glad am I that now, in my forties, I am able to set those things aside and do what is right for me.


Well done burnt bridge.


For a long time, I have fought a battle that can never be fully voiced. It can never be laid out on a table for all to see. It is a private war. I have danced around it in my blog, written about hard-won skirmishes, and weary defeats. It’s a sort of thing that I have treated alternately with a delicate hand and a closed fist.

Its presence is exasperating, like an annoying mosquito that won’t quit buzzing around.

No matter what I have done to abolish it (think on it, write about it, fight it, silence it, meditate on it, drink, eat), or didn’t do (let it be, accept it) it has had me chained to a merry-go-round. I, a colorful filly with great stems raised, ready to gallop, but unable to.

Recently, I burned the bridge to the battlefield that I alone had maintained. It was done with confidence, and without intention of returning to the precipice pleading for the link to be restored.

But, the ego is fearful. It knows I am stronger, and it bombards me with thoughts and questions, and the same old worn out lines. The crackled movie on a fading loop starring the old witch opposite Snow White, except my apple gift is dented, and browned.

What is it afraid of? I think on it….and have to laugh a little because I simply don’t know.

I have everything I need inside and out!

It could have been a sad thing to burn that bridge, but by deciding to stop the fight; I am forced to face the truth.

And the truth is acknowledging the dark side of self; specifically emotions such as anger, aversion, and dislike. No more sweet frosting. No more battles. No more black and white, or tussles between good and bad. This is it; the beginning of true healing begins with the belief that negative feelings are as much a part of self as the positive. In this way, the ego has little left to live for, and that’s what it’s afraid of.

Without the dark, there can be no light. And, the more I calmly let in the dark that’s practically barging down my front door, the sooner I will be free of these shackles.



DPchallenge – Fifty (March 22)

March 22.

50 words

My mother lay sedated; tubes and wires arcing from points on her body to machines that thrummed. I was unprepared for the sight. For a moment, feeling nothing; like a child who experiences the hurtling presence of pain before crying out. For all of my life, that memory will endure.

Pick up your tools, child

Having children is obviously a lifelong thing. Raising them is long too, but at some point you know they will be free to go out and do what they do, to plow ahead, or dawdle along, get lost, get found, get hurt, get healed, make mistakes, likely learn from those mistakes far too long into the future, and generally go in whatever direction they please, or are propelled.

Many times, over these past few years I’ve wondered at my own “freeing time.” It was more of a petulant wrenching than anything else and when I left, it was without any moral guidance, or financial insight, or emotional anchor. I went fleeing, and blind. And I made horrible choices based upon a lack of reference. But, here I am approaching my mid-forties, and I remain grateful to have avoided any consequences from those choices and actions.

(I have to add that I am not being critical of my parents; they provided me a good, safe home, healthy meals, and financial support later on in my life.)

Now it is my turn at parenting, and though I forge ahead with the same blank pages as my parents, I have hindsight and a sort of youthful insight. Yes, we have those situations where my husband and I look at each other and say “wtf?” but we get through them, and in a way that is different from the way we were raised.

One important thing I have taught my daughter (my son rolls his eyes at the prospect) is to name her feelings out loud. It’s not important the why’s or the situation, it’s about acknowledging the emotion.  I explained that when we ignore the stuff that’s raging inside, or allow ourselves to wallow in it, this makes it burn brighter, and feel worse. This serves no good purpose.  If we give it a name, we come face to face with the emotion; it is met unconditionally. In this way, it has nothing to fight.  My daughter understood and she uses this technique often to calm herself when she is upset.

It’s a factual cycle, I think, that when it’s your turn as parent, you want to do a better job than your own parents.  You realize though, at some point along the timeline, that every set is different, and not only did your parents come into the arrangement with their own baggage, their own ideas of ‘doing a better job’, they also got handed the completely blank manual. My parents weren’t perfect, and neither am I, but I feel I’m setting a new standard with my own kids by consciously planning ahead, and planting seeds that they can reap when fully grown.



I found my life tools late, but still with plenty of time to use them for the good.  I know that no matter how much we prepare, and teach, and provide insight, our kids will do whatever they desire. They might end up taking that well-worn path with what we know to have sucker punches hidden behind certain trees. All we can do is hope that they remember the tools they carry that will help fight back, withstand, or get back up quicker, and realize that heading in a different, less traveled direction might be worthwhile after all.


Friday Fictioneers – Diva

Photo courtesy - Kent Bonham

Photo courtesy – Kent Bonham


Word count:  100

Gillian swept onstage in a silky robe. Stan, who was playing her husband, bit his cheek. Shit, she really did it; she wore the red instead of the blue.

He positioned himself to greet her, however she sailed by to stand downstage center, to hog the limelight, and to begin her monologue which wasn’t due for another five pages.

Stan crept offstage into a silent melee.

“What is she doing??” The Director whispered with eyes as round as the moon.

Stan shrugged, “that’s what you get for casting Gillian Wainwright.” With sarcasm he air-quoted, “beloved actress makes her comeback.”