Another World

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”Daddy, what are those whirly things sticking up toward the sky?”

”Daniel, those are a new kind of antenna to listen for signs of life on other planets.”

”You mean like when you found life on Mars, Daddy?”

”Yes, Son.”

Daniel was twelve years old and his Daddy was an astronomer at the U.S. facility in Flagstaff, Arizona. It was 2030 and they had just finished transporting people to a facility they built on Mars after receiving permission from a small colony of Martians they discovered.

”Remember what I explained to you, Daniel? See the funny color of the sky? Our air will not be breathable very soon. We’re trying to transport the people of the Earth to other planets. Mars can’t hold them all. Here are the listening devices that go with the antennas. Do you want to listen?

”Yes!”

Daniel placed a set of ear buds in his ears. He watched the display. He heard a screech and jerked the buds out as he called his Daddy over.

“I just heard a loud noise.”

Daniel’s dad grabbed the ear buds and started looking at the data. A planet was trying to contact them!

Blue – #writephoto

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The old man ran up and down the streets of the village calling for everyone to come to their doors and look. The village was built on the edge of the ocean and, as the sun rose that morning, the old man saw something he had never seen before. He wanted to share the magic.

“Come, come,” he called, “You must see the sky and the waters.”

As he called out and the villagers gradually awakened, they came to their doors, then to the street, and looked out. Gasps could be heard up and down the street and they started spilling out their doors to go to the water’s edge.

The sky and the ocean water, right after sunrise, were the most brilliant blue they had ever seen. Both, the same vivid, compelling blue. The villagers started wading in the shallow water and they felt the magic in the water.

That was in 1960. The event was a legend in the history of the island village. The elders of the village told the young people how it had changed them. They were never concerned about material possessions again. They were forever after only concerned about the island and its people.

#SoCS – 12/30/2017 – Resolution

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When Linda asked us to respond to the prompt “resolution” for this weekend’s #StreamofConsciousness challenge, it was easy for me to instantly know what I would write about and I decided to let my consciousness just go ahead and stream.

For the first time in over nine years, I will spend 2018 living alone, except for my little dog, Hanna. This coming year, in fact, will be only the second time in my life I’ve ever lived alone, the other time being from 2000-2007. It’s been a long time and, in the month I’ve lived alone so far, it’s been a big adjustment. Just finding out I would be alone was the result of a shocking turn of events in my life. I doubt that I’m over that shock yet. I don’t think we know when shock goes away, do we? I think it ebbs away from our subconscious minds, and perhaps our conscious minds as well, very gradually.

Since I lived alone for a few years in the past, I do know a bit of what to expect. From a practical point of view, I have to get back to taking care of my home on my own again which is no small feat. I’m used to sharing chores and now all the chores are mine, both indoor and outdoor. The first week was hard. Then, I remembered how I’d done everything in the past and, since then, it has become easier by the day. I still have a lot to remember. Things that just haven’t come up yet.

I have business I’ve had to take care of and, of course, I want to continue writing. Blogging, magazine articles, website articles and copy, and finishing up some long form writing projects I have going. A novella. Two actually. Maybe another novel. I want to also work on a serial. I may go back to online teaching in a semester or two.

Besides the practical side of life, there is the emotional aspects of living alone. I don’t really get lonely, so that’s not much of a problem for me. As an only child, I learned to entertain myself and those skills carried over to adulthood. I work from home a lot. It takes time to take care of my home, both inside and out. The business aspect of life takes time. I also have excellent friends. Then there is Hanna, my dog, who definitely takes time. I’m training her to be a good companion dog. By the time I accomplish all this in a day, the day is done.

I do still have to deal with the shock and emotional trauma that precipitated my change in living circumstances. That’s not going to be accomplished overnight. In fact, it will take a long time, if I ever feel free of the events of the past two months.

So, my resolution for 2018? Quite simply, survival. I don’t think it’s a resolution that will be forgotten the first couple of weeks of the year.

The Autocracy

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It was a working class neighborhood on the outskirts of the city. For the news media, it was made to look as if it were 1950’s America. Neat rowhouses indicative of northern cities, with mudrooms in front and widow’s walks. Coach lights. The snow was heavy that winter and you even saw the tracks of cars. Fortunately, for The Autocrats, the snow covered up how rundown those rowhouses were getting. He wondered, peering out the window through the draperies, if the news media realized there were no cars parked along the street or in the driveways. Those car tracks were made by The Autocrats’ cars. The news media had been brought there to see and report how normal everything was since The Autocrats had taken over. They had imposed a news blackout in the areas they had overtaken earlier in 2019.

The people had been warned to stay inside their homes. The Autocrats had allowed a few to be out walking, but only if they were white and known sympathizers. There weren’t many mixed race people left in decent places anymore. He had heard they had all been herded to ghetto-like neighborhoods. But, you couldn’t believe the news allowed on television by The Autocrats. The rumors were that their DNA had been tested and they had been sent to the areas of the world from which their ancestors came to America. The Autocrats were gradually asking for DNA from everyone.

There had initially been protests by the people when The Autocrats troops arrived. They were quickly extinguished with guns with real bullets. Tens of thousands of citizens of the city were murdered in the streets. The Autocrats, he’d heard, were living in Washington, DC now. Not yet in the White House, but he figured it was only a matter of time.

Able-bodied men were put to work in ammunitions factories. Women were employed in either sewing factories or were made to cook and sell food. Any other type of commerce was gradually shut down.

The news media were furiously scribbling in their journals. Cameras had apparently not been allowed. They had disembarked from cars in front of his house.

Suddenly, a journalist turned and saw the fence. By the direction of the overhang, he could tell it was meant to keep people out. He ran over to it and called out to the others in the media. One of them grabbed a fence pole and was immediately electrocuted. Some of the media pulled out tiny cameras and started taking pictures of the fence and their fallen colleagues.

The Autocrat’s guards jumped out of their cars and killed them all on the street. He could barely see for the tears in his eyes. He mourned for them and his country.

The January Thaw

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When she awakened that morning, she heard water. She laid there in her warm bed, wondering where that sound could be coming from. It had been so cold, frigid really. The sound of water was coming from outside the door.

The old woman got up, slipped her feet into her shoes, and walked to the window of the living room in her small home, putting on her robe as she went. She opened the blinds and saw the sun shining for the first time in weeks. Then she saw the source of the water. The creek in front of her house had thawed and was running rapidly.

“Ah,” she said to her dog, her loyal companion, “It’s the January thaw. Short-lived, but welcome.”

She dressed rapidly, thinking she might go outside. She studied herself in the mirror as she went through her morning routine. At one time in her life, she had been considered beautiful. Her long hair, now gray, had been her crowning glory. Now, she grabbed it and twisted it up into a messy bun. Her face was still smooth, but now it had the lines and wrinkles of wisdom and life. Her life had never been easy, but there had been lots of enjoyable times. As she peered into the mirror, she could see it showed on her face and out of her eyes. She applied her creams and potions.

She was ready for the day. When she stepped outside, she stopped. There was melting ice and snow and running water in the creek. She could hear her doctor’s words ringing in her ears. Don’t take a chance on falling! She turned and went back into her house.

As she sat down at her computer to write, she thought, “Why do I still feel so young when I’m getting so old?” She was bound by the limitations of her body, but there were no limitations of her mind or imagination. It made aging quite difficult.

She began to write.

 

This is a response to the Thursday Photo Prompt – Thaw from Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo. Click on the link to read other stories inspired by the image.

 

 

Father Christmas and the Hats

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“Mama, look at the hats! Magnus needs a new hat,” cried Josefina. Their family had just moved to Northern Michigan from Sweden.

“Child, we cannot afford a new hat. Come along.”

Josefina and her mother walked toward the apartment where they were living in Marquette, along the waterfront, through the tunnels of deep snow. As they stopped to go inside, a man cleared his throat behind them. They turned and saw someone they knew as Father Christmas standing there with two handfuls of hats from the shop.

”Happy Christmas,” he said, as he gave them hats for the whole family.

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Photo Credit Björn Rudberg

 

A Simple Christmas

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The cabin was deep in the heart of Appalachia. She was a city girl and he had worked in the city for years. They weren’t on the same page any more. They had been fighting, constantly bickering. He was desperate to save their marriage.

He surprised her with a trip to the cabin for a simple, country Christmas. She didn’t think she’d like it. Just the woods, a tree, their dog, and them. It was awkward at first, but then they began to talk. They rediscovered what they loved about each other at that cabin in the woods that Christmas.

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Photo Credit Sandra Crook

Childhood Friendships

I was away from home for a long time. After growing up in a small town, I graduated from high school and college early and left before I was twenty-one years old. I left emotionally long before that, after a traumatic event in my life caused me to withdraw from my school and friends. At little more than seventeen, I was already gone from those childhood friends to whom I had been closest. Even though I finished school in my hometown, I had little or no contact with them. The physical and emotional trauma didn’t involve them, but due to embarrassment and shock, I cut them off.

As soon as possible, I left my hometown and never looked back for over ten years. I had little contact with my childhood friends. I had gone to a very small private school through twelve grades, a laboratory model school on the local university campus. Each class was only 30 students. We knew each other well and were much like siblings. We were all extraordinarily sheltered. In order to survive after I left, I put them out of my mind for longer than I’d like to remember.

I eventually settled in a nearby city and through my job, my husband, and my efforts to seek an advanced education, I developed new friends. Good friends. Many of whom I still call my friends. Some my best friends. Except for a few, my childhood friends were lost to me by choice. In my rear view mirror. When I saw them, I saw the trauma I’d experienced.

As it happened, my parents still lived in my hometown and after my father passed away, my mother and other relatives were there alone. I returned there to work, but I didn’t live there. I commuted from the city. I didn’t seek out any of my childhood friends. I didn’t attend class get-togethers such as reunions. I went to work, cared for my relatives, and commuted back to the city. My career blossomed at the university in my hometown. Off and on, I would run into a friend from my past, but I still didn’t seek them out.

Through some accidents of fate, I ended up having to move back to my hometown to finish up the last third of my career. I built a house a few miles out of town, went to work, and still had my social life in the city. I traveled widely and knew people all over the world. I still did not attend class reunions, talked only rarely to childhood friends, and continued my life without them, except one or two. The trauma I had experienced was so bad that, even after decades, I could not see my childhood friends without remembering it.

Then, two years ago, a childhood friend sought me out when there was a reunion that was supposed to happen. She convinced me to attend. The reunion didn’t happen, but we continued our renewed friendship and that put me in contact with other friends. I began talking a little more to these friends. I was still not really comfortable, but I was trying. Recently, one of my classmate’s mother passed away. She was one of the mothers who I particularly loved when I was growing up and I loved her daughter as well. I decided after much reflection, to attend her funeral, knowing I would see a number of my childhood friends. I very much wanted to be there for her daughter.

I finally put my embarrassment over the trauma I’d experienced aside and went to the funeral. Not only did I see a number of my childhood friends but the funeral was in my childhood church. I was very glad I attended for my classmate whose mother had died, but it was also wonderful to see my friends. They were sweet and accepting even though I had been gone so long. It was also nice to see some of the townspeople I had long avoided and to be in my hometown church.

I’m very sad for my friend, Carla, and will miss knowing that her mother is in this world. But, I’m glad that I went to say my goodbyes to her mother and pay my final respects. It was the vehicle I needed, something I couldn’t miss, to reconnect with those people who helped make me who I am today. I’ve missed them.

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A Christmas Story

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Roseanne didn’t like Christmas. Many years ago, her dad had died near Christmas and was buried on Christmas Eve. She had avoided celebrating Christmas ever since. This year, for the first time in a number of years, she would be spending Christmas alone. She was looking forward to it. She could celebrate in her own way instead of pretending as she had to do almost every Christmas.

Roseanne smiled as she thought back to Christmas in the past, when she was growing up. Her dad was the original Santa Claus, in her opinion. Not only that, but the religious meaning of Christmas was very special to him and he never let her forget that part of Christmas in her excitement over Santa. He had an operatic voice and would sing his favorite Christmas song, “O Holy Night,” to her on Christmas Eve. She could hear it as if it were yesterday. He had been gone for 34 years now.

Roseanne let herself descend into a dreamlike state and thought of one Christmas in particular. She was in the third grade. Her dad had left that year in January, supposedly to find work. He had spent the year working in Wisconsin and Northern Michigan. She didn’t know until she was an adult that he and her mother were actually separated that year. She had missed him so terribly that she could hardly do her school work. She had cried when her mother suggested getting a Christmas tree, but she finally agreed to a small one. It didn’t feel right with her daddy.

When her Daddy was home on Christmas Eve, she always got up really early and he met her in the living room to see her “Santa Claus” gifts. When Christmas Eve came, she knew it would never be the same without her daddy. She woke up early anyway and went downstairs, thinking she would just sit and look at the tree until her mother awakened. She climbed up in his big easy chair and sat there and cried for him.

Suddenly, she heard someone at the back door, using what sounded like a key. She froze in the chair. The person walked in, making a lot of noise. Could it be Santa, she wondered? But a miracle happened! Her Daddy walked into the living room with a bag of presents. She flew into his arms.

After not seeing him for almost a year, she and her daddy sat under the tree and had Christmas. It was 3 a.m., so they didn’t wake her mother who wasn’t well. Then, she fell asleep in his arms in the big easy chair. That’s how her mother found them the next morning.

Roseanne roused herself from her dream state both smiling and crying. She still missed him so much.

She walked over to her recording system and found “O Holy Night.” As she listened to it, she grew more calm. Her future was uncertain, but a good and wise friend had given her good advice. He had advised her to let it come to her and have some faith. For the first time in her life, she was going to try to follow that advice. She would always hold her dad and that very special Christmas close to her heart. It would help her have faith.

 

The Palace at Versailles

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It was one of their many times in Paris. Their hotel room was small, but intimate. They had spent time together in Portugal and were on their way home to the States. He had business in Versailles and they made an adventure out of it in their favorite city of Paris. No one knew them there. They spent most of their time in their room, feasting on wine and food from the grocery down the street, and each other.

He had business at the Palace in Versailles and she went along in order to experience it. They passed the fields of lavender and all the other flowers in bloom that were used to make French perfume. She walked the grounds of the Palace while she waited on him. They couldn’t get back to their room in Paris fast enough.

But that was a million years ago.