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.

100 words

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.

amwriting with The Writing Reader

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.

Portal: The Escape – #writephoto

The only way she could think was to walk. She had found a long, lonely road where no one lived on the island. It was filled with the shade of the low palms and the unfamiliar sounds of the tropical birds as they swooped above her head. She couldn’t think at her home. He was there. Right beside her. Confusing her thoughts. She could only escape occasionally. On those occasions, she either went to the ocean or this lonely road.

She suddenly saw a house lying off the road, set back in a palm grove. She’d never walked this far before so she didn’t know the house. A manor house. It looked deserted. She could cool off there. The vegetation was grown up around the house. It seemed as if no one had been here in a long time. She pulled the door open. She was shocked at what she saw before her.

There was a long hallway in front of her. Then an opening and, seemingly, another hall. As she walked down the hallway, she saw an old man sitting at the end of what she could only call a portal. She kept walking and felt no fear. When she got to him, he greeted her and invited her to sit. They were both silent for a few moments. Then he spoke.

”Are you going to make a decision before you run out of time?”

”How do you know anything about me?” she replied.

“You won’t live as long as I have. You must make the right decision and quickly,” he said. “You’ve already wasted too much time.”

”What should I do?” she asked the old man..

”You only regret the things you don’t do. Are you happy?” he said.

”No, but I’m afraid.”

”Do you remember, when you were young, the thrill of jumping into a creek or riding your bike or kissing your boyfriend for the first time?” he asked.

She replied that she did remember.

”Go, my dear, and feel that rush again.”

He smiled at her. She got up from her chair when he looked as if he had fallen asleep. She thought of his words all the way back to where they lived on her beautiful island. She went inside, got out her suitcase, and said she was leaving. She said goodbye to her island, only for a time, she hoped. She packed, loaded her car, and inside a few hours, she was on the road – by herself.

She had fear because of what she had just done, but deep inside, she felt as if she were 20 years old again and knew she had done the right thing. For the first time in her life, she was doing something just for herself. She was escaping.

She felt the rush because of the man in the portal. Who had he been?

#metoo

Journal: My Respite – Wildlife Sightings

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This island is a wild and beautiful place. It’s also a place where one has to be careful because it is home to interesting wildlife. A virtual  zoo. Some live only in the tropics. Some live out on this island because they feel safe and, for the most part, they are. Since we share the island with them, we have to be sure we are safe as well. We also have to make sure our pets are safe. I would guess that the majority of people who live on the island have a dog and so do the majority of tourists. People who come to my island and who live here have to remember that we are, indeed, in the tropics.

During the last few days, there have been wildlife sightings, not just on the island but in the development where I live. Very close to my home. In the case of the dangerous wildlife, like alligators, the management tries to keep them out. Alligators are a part of life this far south in Florida. We have three small lakes, perhaps ponds, Today, an alligator was sighted in one of them, slithering into the water. Even though I’ve always known alligators are here, I’ve never seen one on the island. There’s a first time for everything!

This island is a nesting spot for the bald eagle. I love to watch them nesting in the fall to have their babies in the early spring. One has to remember that they can be dangerous. If you are walking a small dog, they have no problem swooping down and picking it up. There is a nesting pair in a tall evergreen tree in my yard. I’ll be guarding Hanna, my small dog of about 25 pounds, when we go for walks.

In the last few days, a bobcat has been spotted at night in the back of the development. I’m used to bobcats since my home is in the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky and I’ve heard them scream in the trees in my backyard. But, I don’t particularly want to encounter one when I’m walking Hanna at night. To complicate matters, the management of the development says that coyotes are encroaching on our development. Suddenly, island wildlife has decided to live right here with me.

Life is never boring on this beautiful island. Any ideas on how to walk Hanna after dark? 🙂

 

Fright at Lake Superior

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They arrived at Shelter Bay on the south shore of Lake Superior. It was almost dark. The old cabin looked out on the beautiful lake and had cots around the wall, under all the windows. It was 1956.

The little girl needed to use the bathroom before bedtime. She was only four. Back then, the only bathroom around the old cabin was an outhouse. The little girl and her mother made the trek. They weren’t familiar with the Michigan backwoods.

When they came out of the outhouse, they were met with a surprise. They stopped still. Porcupines surrounded the outhouse!

99 words

Photo credit to What’s His Name

Death in the Lab

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The entomologist found him in the park. Struggling in the gravel that surrounded a flowery border. When he bent down to look at him, he could tell that he was still alive but probably had a broken leg. He was walking home from the local university, but he always had a plastic bag and tweezers on him for specimens.. Entomologists study insects. He was teaching a class right now where they were dissecting and studying herbivorous insects.

He bagged the grasshopper and, instead of going home, he turned around and went back to his lab. He was considering trying to save this grasshopper. He had never tried to save one before. He’d always killed them in them name of research and science.

He sat the grasshopper on the table and walked out of the room to get his supplies. When he walked back in, one of his students was leaning over the grasshopper. He walked over to him. He had already dissected the grasshopper.

The entomologist felt a real sense of loss.

171 words

Photo credit any1mark66

 

The Sounds of the Gulf of Mexico

 

IMG_1407I stand on the pier listening to the sounds of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s always overwhelmed me just to see the Gulf or any part of the ocean. When I get accustomed to seeing it, then I begin to listen to its sounds. There are far more sounds than sights.

The Gulf is generally a calm body of water. If you just listen to the sound of the water, you will hear it gently lapping at the beach or whatever lies at its edge. Other places, such as the island where I live part-time, it laps at the mangroves trees along its banks. Mangrove forests surround parts of my island. They serve as fish hatcheries, protection from hurricanes for the island, and many other purposes in tropical areas. If the tide is coming in and you are at an area where there are rocky beaches, the water sounds like it is slapping the rocks with that sound of slapping turning into almost a cracking sound as the tide comes in faster and faster.

If you are facing the Gulf and not a bay off the Gulf, the sound differs. If the tide is coming in and hitting rocks or a sea wall, you hear a percussive sound, almost a booming. If the Gulf is stirred up due to a storm, the sound becomes almost thunderous and to some, very exciting.

The sound of the Gulf or any part of the ocean appeals to something primitive, perhaps embryonic or even evolutionary, in most of us. It soothes my moods and evens out my temperament. It makes me feel at home.