Renewal – #writephoto

Jane remembers the night they got to that island. They were just looking for a place to stay and they happened upon the bridge where signs told them of vacancies. They crossed the bridge, not really knowing where they were. Not really knowing they were going out into the Gulf of Mexico.

It was winter and even in the southern part of America, dark came early. Even so, someone was in the office of the first place they came to. After they secured a reservation, they went to their spot and crashed. Never really thinking about where they were. They had driven a long way. They knew it was warm and they could smell salt water. Sleep came instantly.

It had been a hard year for them before that winter. They were young. They didn’t know that the things that had happened, decisions they had made, would come back to haunt them many years later. They had the freedom of youth without the wisdom of age. Like most young people of ther generation, they worked hard and played just as hard. Too hard. It was the 1970s and their kind of fun seemed innocent then. They didn’t realize that it wasn’t. That the transgressions of youth would color their whole lives. They didn’t know that too much fun then would make the responsibilities of age hard and getting old so much more unbearable.

When Jane’s eyes came open, just a crack, the next morning, she looked around and saw the entire place enveloped in a warm glow. Bare tree branches were on one side of the place with palm trees towering over the other side. They had been lost the night before. She couldn’t imagine where they were.

Jane got up and dressed and walked out on the porch and down the road. The sky astonished her, layered in gold clouds. She had never seen anything like it. As she walked and nodded to the locals, she felt a weight lift off her shoulders, a sense of renewal wash over her. A decision she had been trying to make became clear to her as the tropical birds swooped in front of her. When she came to a general store, she found out the name of the island although in her mind, she’d already dubbed it her magical island. She’d been struggling with that decision for weeks.

After that winter, Jane knew they would spend many winters on that magical island. Looking back, she knows they will go back someday. It might be they should do it soon. Could it renew her once again?

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Clouds – #writephoto

She doesn’t walk much anymore, but today, her dog needed to walk so off they went. He’s excited to be out and she hopes the walk will be good for her too. It’s hard for her to get outside her own head, but she looks around at the scenery and notices the beautiful, but darkening clouds ahead of her. She doesn’t think they look threatening, so she and her dog walk on. She tries to be in the moment mentally and he helps with that, smelling every smell along the way. It helps her to focus. As always, she’s thinking about many things while trying just to think about him and his joyous communion with nature.

The clouds are so beautiful that they cause an old song to pop into her head. She smiles as she remember Joni Mitchell’s original recording of “Both Sides Now.” The ultimate “cloud” song as far as she is concerned. She remembers lying in her parent’s backyard in the grass, looking up at the clouds as a teenager. She remembers the line “ice cream castles in the air.” As a young girl, she looked at the cloud formations and dreamed of such innocent and foolish things..

She and her dog stopped to rest. She gave him a drink out of his water bottle and he laid down to rest for a few minutes, looking around, drinking in the scenery. She watched the clouds as they moved overhead. As an older teenager, reaching adulthood, she still watched the clouds in the backyard, but the images became different. She remembers the words to the song. One stanza described her feelings at that time in her life, when she met a boy she thought she would marry.

“Moons and Junes and ferries wheels 
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real 
I’ve looked at love that way”

She had fallen in love and she thought he was in love. Something terrible happened. He was not the boy, she had found out very painfully, that she would marry. She reached down and touched her dog’s head. He was her touchstone now if her thoughts drifted to a bad place.

They got up and walked on. The dog was anxious to see what was over the next rise on their walk.

2018 had turned into a year of reflection for her. She hated that and thought it was brought on by her health issues which seem to have blown up this past year. She had spent the year frightened and it had made her look back at her life. She liked to look forward, but she was facing serious life-threatening issues. Looking forward had become difficult.

She had looked at the relationships in her life. Not just romantic relationships, but all of them. Family, friends. She saw the folly in so many of them. She and her husband seemed to finally be at peace. She had amazing friends. Something wonderful had happened with her family. She had found family members she hardly knew existed and some she had not known existed and she was getting to know them. That had made her year. There were other family relationships that were gone. Gone forever. That had hurt her terribly.

Love. Romance. Did it even exist or like in the song, was it just another illusion? She had come to the conclusion that love was very rare, that it seldom existed if at all. As for the rest of her life, however long that was, she found the song to be very relevant:

“But now it’s just another show 
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know 
Don’t give yourself away 

I’ve looked at love from both sides now 
From give and take and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all…”

They walked on home, leaving the cloud formations behind, to do whatever they had to do.

The Growling

It was a beautiful day on the beach by the village. The children could run out the door of their homes and reach the sand and sea in moments. Tourists who rented homes here and there could be spotted lazing in the warm sun. The setting was an idyllic as one can imagine. 

The small boy and his dog walked along the streets of the village that day. He was doing errands for his mother. The dog, normally so well-behaved, kept running circles around him with a low growl in his throat. The boy couldn’t imagine what was wrong. 

It seemed that the growl from the dog got louder. The boy felt the earth shaking. He’d felt this before. He knew it was an earthquake. The shake was a big one, but the damage to the village didn’t look severe. The growling didn’t stop. 

Someone shouted that there was a tsunami warning. The boy climbed up onto the roof of a shed and hoisted his dog up with him. They were hit by a wall of water. When it subsided, they were mostly alone, saved by the growling. Only a few others remained.

Thanks to Susan at Sunday Photo Fiction and to Anurag Bakhshi for the photo prompt.

A Christmas Story

The year was 1971. It was Christmas. Patricia was 19 years old, fresh out of high school and going to college in her hometown. The last year and a half had been painful for her, but she was traveling to her grandparent’s farm with her parents for the Christmas holiday. Because of the loss she had suffered and the way she had suffered it, she didn’t have much Christmas spirit that year. The trip wasn’t long, but she hadn’t wanted to go. 

Even though it was winter, the farm that her grandparent’s owned and still worked was beautiful. Stark, though in the summer it was lush and productive. Stark fit Patricia’s mood.  She’d felt stripped bare ever since “the incident” as her mother called it. Not only had Patricia felt stripped bare for the world to see, she’d felt lonely, afraid, and stupid, even amidst her friends at college. Since “the incident,” her mother had been more solicitous than usual, but her father, who she loved so much, had been distant and angry. It was decades later when Patricia finally understood that he wasn’t angry at her.

Patricia’s grandparents were getting old. They were still vital, particularly her grandmother. Her grandfather had been ill and was visibly slowing down. They were starting to sell some of the farm and its assets, knowing they couldn’t keep it up there for much longer. The parts Patricia loved were still intact. Once they arrived, Patricia realized she was glad to be there. She felt wrapped in a warm cocoon when she was with her grandfather.

Her dad was going to spend his time there fixing things around the farm that needed repair. Her mother was going to help her grandmother prepare Christmas dinner for the other family members who were coming on Christmas Day. Patricia had orders to read, study for her classes, and try to rest. They were all looking forward to the arrival of the babies on Christmas Day. Two of her mother’s sisters had little girls born in the same year. They were now six years old. Patricia couldn’t wait to see them. She couldn’t have loved them more if they had been her own.

Patricia awakened early on her first morning at the farm. She went to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and found her grandfather dressed and sitting at the kitchen table. He was ready to go milk the two remaining dairy cows. When she sat down at the table, he asked her if she’d like to go with him, as she had when she was a little girl. She quickly said yes and he told her to go put on warm clothes because they might be a while.

Her grandfather grabbed his walking stick and they started toward the barn. He didn’t move as quickly or easily as she remembered, but she walked along beside him. He talked about farm-related issues and asked her if she wanted to try to milk one of the cows like she had in the past. He teased her about it and she said she would. She had never been good at milking. They pulled up side by side stools by the cows and Patricia tried to milk, but her hands just weren’t strong enough. Her grandfather laughed and quickly milked both cows.

As they left the barn, he stopped, turned, and looked up the steep hill behind the barn. He looked at Patricia, now almost grown, and asked if she would like to take a walk. He told her there might still be some hickory nuts on the ground for them to gather. Since she was a child, her grandfather had always sent her a letter when the hickory nuts were falling. She jumped at this chance to go with him, but she knew that climbing that hill would be hard for him now. She let him take the lead.

As they walked, Patricia’s grandfather talked to her. About life’s disappointments and hardships. About how she should hold her head high and never let them get her down. He told her to be proud of her roots. To get her education. To make him as proud of her in the future as he’d been in the past. All the while, he was breathing hard, struggling to climb that hill. When they reached the top, he rested against a tree and gave her a pail in which to put the hickory nuts. They would feed them to his two remaining pigs.

Patricia worked hard gathering those nuts while listening to her grandfather. He talked about his view of the world. How he wanted her to do well not only personally, but also for the world. He wanted her to never compromise her values. She heard every word he said and took those words to heart. Somehow she knew they were having a very important conversation.

As they started down the hill toward the house, she felt the burden of the last two years lifting off her shoulders. She felt better than she had in a long time. When they got back to the house, he went into his bedroom and said he was going to rest. He took a long nap. His morning with her had taken all of his energy. 

The next morning, the babies arrived and Patricia kept the two beautiful, blonde little girls entertained while dinner was being prepared. They were her little cousins and she adored them. Other family members arrived and the big family had a wonderful Christmas dinner at the long dining room table. The children all sat at tables prepared for them in the living room. The wonderful southern cooking and the love in that family was something she would remember all of her life. 

Patricia and her parents left for home the next day. She hated leaving the farm, her grandparents, and the babies. Her grandfather had given her the most important gift of all that Christmas. His wisdom and words of love. She went home stronger and she could hold her head up high. 

Hidden – #writephoto

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I wish I could have spent the last ten days hidden among the wild things along the bank of the stream behind my home. Having been confronted by a terrible tragedy that can happen to any of us as we make our way out in the world, it’s made me wish for the greenery of summer to hide me away and the babble of the brook to keep my ears from hearing.

A severely impaired child and a grown-up young man lost their mother ten days ago. A man lost his wife and almost lost his own life. That little girl almost lost her father as well. A family lost a daughter and a sister. The world lost a beautiful woman. A community lost a friend and a participant. My street lost a neighbor and I lost one of my next-door neighbors.

We lost her to a traffic accident. A severe one and something that could happen to any of us. It was violent and her death was instant. In the blink of an eye, so many lives were affected and her life was snuffed out forever. We don’t realize how our lives affect so many others.

It’s made me do some real thinking about the fragility of life and how we take our lives for granted. We waste time, days, even hours and minutes, that we shouldn’t waste. My neighbor walked out her door never dreaming she would never be back. I’m sure much was left undone. Things she wished she’d said and done. She didn’t know time was coming to an end for her. Most of us don’t. Many of us procrastinate doing the important things. Telling people we love them. Making arrangements for people we care for. Spending more time with our friends and family.

There are things in life which you wish you could unsee and unhear. I wish I could unhear the news about my neighbor. I wish I could unsee the look in her husband’s eyes when I saw him today. Still in shock but with pain deep inside. So many people’s lives will never be the same.

As for me, these are the first words I’ve written since I heard the news. My fingers and my mind have been frozen. I think of the poem called “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry and wish I could be at that babbling brook behind my house and that I could unhear the terrible news about my neighbor.

I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief… For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— “The Peace of Wild Things, by Wendell Berry

#weekendcoffeeshare – 11/3/2018

Good morning, everyone! Thank you for joining me for our #weekendcoffeeshare this week! It’s cold outside today. I hope you can make your way through all the fallen leaves on the ground. You can see a picture of our fall color above. Those trees are in my backyard! We measure leaves in the fall here by the foot! Please come in and fix yourself the hot beverage of your choice. I have several kinds of coffee and tea, so pick your pleasure!

I haven’t had a #weekendcoffeeshare for a couple of weeks and I apologize. It’s been a very busy time at my house. I try to find four or five hours to write every day, which is sometimes difficult, and then the rest of the day is taken up by a million little (and sometimes big) things. The most important thing is always my writing, but sometimes, the most pressing thing is Tucker, my eight month old Cardigan Welsh Corgi.

Oh, Tucker! That boy not only requires, but demands a great deal of time. He looks like a grown dog, but he’s still a baby with a puppy brain. When I look at how big he is and how much he looks like an adult male, it’s hard to remember. Tucker is now 35 pounds which is very close to the size he should be at maturity. Cardigans don’t mature until they are two or even three years old so I shudder to think of his size at maturity! 🙂 He’s very sweet, but he requires a lot of training. You can see a picture of Tucker, my yard long dog, above!

Now, down to business! I am still working on characterizations and settings for my novella that may actually become a novel. I have no way to know at this point. Novellas are usually around 40,000 words. Above about 60,000 words and you are approaching the word count of a novel. Since the public’s attention span seems to be getting shorter all the time, the word count of novels is getting lower. So I don’t know what I’ll have when I’m finished!

One interesting setting I’m developing is New York City, circa 1943. I need to develop two settings, one in Brooklyn where I’ve never been and one in the middle of Manhattan, where I have been but obviously not in 1943! Manhattan is surely proving to be the easier of the two. I’m having to do a deep dive into research to find much about Brooklyn in the middle of World War II. This is a novella (novel?) full of different settings so I’ll gradually mention a lot of them! Both my protagonist and antagonist are traveling around a lot.

Traveling is another issue I’m having to deal with. Travel in 1943 and today are completely different. My antagonist has travel provided. My protagonist does not. I’ll talk more about this next week.

Feel free to stay and finish your beverage. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll hope to see you next week!

 

Thanks to eclecticali

 

 

 

Haunted

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“It’s always darkest before the dawn.” That old quote popped into her head at 4 a.m. It wouldn’t be daylight soon this morning since the Earth was spinning toward the shortest day of the year. She was still awake at this ungodly hour, as she often was, yearning for the light.

She couldn’t sleep until it was daylight. The old dreams, the terrible dreams of her childhood, haunted her, and she knew she couldn’t sleep until dawn when they would subside. She remembered them when she awoke, screaming, but only for a few seconds. Only the light chased them away.

 

Thanks to Charli and the CarrotRanch!

One-Way Glass

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Doors to her were only a symbol. They had always kept her out, excluded her. From the time she was a child, she’d felt like she was on the outside looking in. She wondered if that clear blue pane would allow her to see inside. No doubt it was one-way glass. Doors were always one-way.

Since she’d become an adult and developed courage, she’d insisted on being allowed into the doors she thought were important to her. A difficult door had been to her career. It was not a career particularly open to women in those days. She had to push her way, kicking and screaming through that closed and locked door. It disillusioned her. During her career, she had to knock down one door after another.

Now she found herself fighting against the most difficult door of all. Time and age. This time, she wanted to stay on this side of that door, but she was being pulled toward it by an irresistible force. She didn’t want to go.

170 words

 

Thanks to Priceless Joy and Jade M. Wong for the photo prompt.

#weekendcoffeeshare -10/13/2018

Good morning, everyone! The picture posted above of the ocean is in memory of the Hurricane Michael victims.

So glad you could join me here at my home and have coffee with me this morning! I have set up a coffee and tea bar in my kitchen for your drinking pleasure. I wish we could have coffee on my deck, but fall has come to #Kentucky and it’s too cold. So grab whatever beverage you want and let’s go to my writing studio!

Kentucky was still hot and in the midst of full on summer until about four days ago. That’s pretty unusual for this time in October. Then, four days ago, the season suddenly changed, cool weather arrived, and fall is here. I’m glad! It was the most humid summer in Kentucky that I can ever remember. The cool weather is so refreshing!

If we were having coffee, I would ask each of you how your writing is coming along? I also hope just the general course of your life is going wonderfully. The world, at least in the U.S., seems to be an increasingly difficult place in which to live. I hope it’s being kind to you.

A few weeks ago, I promised one of you who was reading my #weekendcoffeeshare, that I would talk a little about my use of Scrivener in writing my novella, so I’d like to fulfill that promise.

For those of you who don’t know, Scrivener is a very powerful writer’s software program. It is very detailed and complex, but you don’t have to use all the functions. You can, of course, write your entire manuscript on Scrivener which I will try in the future. Since I’m not familiar with it or wasn’t until this past week, I’m going to write my manuscript for my novella on Word, but use some of the functions of Scrivener for specific things.

I mentioned last week that I’m developing the setting for my novella. Scrivener has a cool way for developing your setting. You can develop multiple settings and insert them into your manuscript when they are needed. I’m using the setting function because my novella does indeed have multiple settings. Since I’m writing historical fiction, I have to research each setting and Scrivener is a good way to summarize each setting and save all my notes. Then, as I write the manuscript using Word, I can refer to those notes in Scrivener.l

When I get bored with developing the various settings, I switch over to developing my characters. Scrivener also has a very nice interface for character development. You can develop characters with deep attributes and have your notes at your fingertips. In historical fiction, I have to find out the way each character would have spoken, the clothes they would have worn, how they would have reacted to current world events of the time, and much more. I can keep those notes on Scrivener and refer to them as needed as I’m developing my characters. I can develop each character on Scrivener, with prompts, and accomplish, I think, more complete character development.

In checking out the Scrivener software program, I found that if you type your manuscript in Scrivener, there is a function that converts it to Word. I also found that Scrivener will put your manuscript in the format necessary to self-publish on Kindle publishing. I will report more on Scrivener as I use it more. I’d love to hear what each of you think of this program?

On a personal note, I’m home on top of my mountain this fall. The leaves have not really started to turn yet so it is a very late fall. It will be beautiful here when they do. My plans for the fall and winter is to write and finish this novella. It will be a race to get it done, but this is my goal. I try to write 4-6 hours per day. My puppy, Tucker, usually has something to say about that, but he’s starting to get better. He’s 7.5 months old now. I just realized that I don’t have a current picture of him, but I’ll post one the next time I write a #weekendcoffeeshare. I’m going to try to write the occasional blog post just to change things up for me.

I’d love to hear your stories. How is everything with you and what are you doing this fall?

Thanks to Eclecticali

Overtaken

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Ruth knew there was a burn ban. The ban was until 6 p.m. and it was almost dark. She thought she could burn the trash. The fire had gotten away from her. She and Sam were using blankets to try to beat down the flames.

The small volunteer fire department was on its way. Sam had called them before he ran out to help her. The fire was heading toward the forest behind their house. There were homes back there. Families, children, wildlife.

“Sam, I don’t hear any sirens yet,” Ruth screamed.

”You know they’re all ten or more miles away. We have to keep it at bay until they can get here,” Sam replied over the increasing roar of the fire.

Ruth and Sam were both members of the fire department. They couldn’t leave the blaze long enough to get their fire-fighting equipment. Ruth knew they could stop the fire on the ground with their equipment, but she had just seen it jump to the top of a tree.

The volunteers started pulling in the driveway, putting on their gear as they jumped out of their cars. Someone got the pair’s gear out of the house.

The fire was roaring through the underbrush, advancing fast.

“We have to build a berm to try to stop this,” Sam said.

”It’s too hot. You can’t get in there,” someone screamed at him.

Sam grabbed a shovel and went in. Just as he did, the fire took on new life and overtook him.

 

Posted to IndiesUnlimited. If you like this story, please go to this site and vote for it after 5 p.m. Tuesday. Thank you!

Photo attributed to K. S. Brooks