There were always a few tourists hanging around the cliff at the end of the day. If they noticed the old man sitting there, on the rocks, no one paid much attention to him. The tourists were there to see the sunset. It was a spot known for its spectacular sunsets. The old man was there every day, for every sunset.
He sat tall with exceptionally good posture. His father had taught him that. He had a full head of white hair. You couldn’t see his face since he was looking down, but you could see his rather rugged profile. He wasn’t a handsome man, but he was someone you would instantly notice. His arms were stiffly supporting him on either side.
This was the place John came to for serenity, to find stillness. The older he got, the more life overwhelmed him. He and his wife had made a pact to try to get back to simplicity, to even become minimalists. It seemed that life interfered with their plans at every turn. Being a minimalist didn’t just mean having a home that was stark with little furniture and no clutter. It was also a way of thinking. Just living in today’s world almost would not let them live their lives in a simple manner.
That’s why John came here every day. It was meditation, he supposed. This was the only place where he could empty his mind completely and have a half hour of peace. When that half hour had passed, it was if he had awakened from a trance. He was refreshed. It was much better than sleep. He felt he could survive.
A bright blue fall day prompts childhood memories. The summer in Kentucky has been long and hot with at least two heat waves that were more intense than most can remember. Until yesterday, we were experiencing a heat wave where the day. time temperatures were at least 20 degrees above normal. Even the animals seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when the temperatures finally dropped to something near normal yesterday. Perhaps the rains will come and wet this forest where I live. The few leaves that have fallen are a dry, crunchy brown.
The dry weather dictates whether or not we have a fire season this fall. It seems Mother Nature is going to err on the side of fire this year. This little area of the world has had no rain for many weeks. The Daniel Boone National Forest is so dry that you can even hear the raccoons walk. Frogs populated our deck last night because they know we water our flowers there. They came in search of water. We gave them an extra spray or two of the hose and they seemed to appreciate that. It’s disconcerting for me, at this time of year, to live in these woods.
Sitting on my deck last night, I remembered fall nights as a child at a home not far from where I live now. We would sit outdoors and listen to the whippoorwills. I haven’t heard one in years, even though I live in the country. Urban development has driven them away. I’ve only seen a few fireflies. My friend was usually with me on those warm autumn nights. I remembered him with such fondness last night. Eddie passed away recently and I so miss just knowing that he’s in the world. The Eddie I knew as a boy was good and the Eddie who was a man was even better.
Since Eddie left us, I feel fundamentally changed. It’s as if the last vestiges of childhood have slipped away from me. Without Eddie in the world, without the cousins I played with as a child, without my parents, the childhood I spent on that hill down the road seems very far away. A mystical, magical time that I must have dreamed. The hills behind our houses that Eddie and I explored together….those hills that are now red and gold in their autumn glory must have just existed in my imagination.
Is this what grief dictates? Does it strip away everything and just leave a shell? What is really left when your family is gone? Eddie was my family. When your friends start to go as well? Will those warm autumn memories of baseball in the backyard, cards in front of the roaring fireplace, and a warm feeling of friends and family ever wrap around us again?
You could hardly see her as she walked down the old country lane. The trees were ablaze with fall color and her coppery-colored hair was indistinguishable from the leaves swaying from the bowing branches. She was home to see her parents for the first time since she had married. They were not pleased and she hoped to placate them.
It was the fall of 1943 and her new husband had gone off to war after only two weeks of married life. She knew that he hadn’t wanted to marry before going off to war. She wouldn’t know until many years later why he finally decided they should marry. She thought he had a guilty conscience. She really hadn’t meant to get pregnant. They met in the USO Club in the small town where she lived with her sister and attended college. Her sister and her husband had introduced her to him.
He was just so exotic. Growing up deep in the heart of Appalachia, she’d never met anyone like him. She’d fallen in love. He’d come to the small college town to train naval men before they went off to war. He was from another place, another culture. He had such a voice! They hadn’t meant to become so intimate so fast. Then there was a baby that would come of their union. She did love him so, but did he love her? She had no way to know. She was determined to make that happen.
Now she had to concentrate on her mother and father. They had married in the spring, but she had attended summer school. This was the first time she’d been home since her marriage. Almost at the end of the lane that led to The Big House, where she’d grown up and where her parents still lived, she slowed her pace and took a deep breath. She sat her small cloth suitcase down and breathed in the crisp fall air. She looked around her. It was beautiful in eastern Kentucky at this time of year. Now it was time to face the music. She could hardly stand to disappoint them, especially her Daddy.
She often came this way. She stopped and sat on the fence, looking at the single, timeless standing stone. It always caused her carefully controlled mind to wander. Back and forward. Backwards, she wondered where they came from. What they meant? Were other stones buried by the sands of time somewhere deep around this one, perhaps in a circle? Maybe this was a lone stone. Perhaps meant to cure sick children? How will we ever know, she wondered, what the prehistoric people who raised these stones really were doing.
Then there was that other theory. The one that some thought explained the pyramids as well as the standing stones. The theory that said that we weren’t alone in the universe. Perhaps other beings had helped those prehistoric people build these complex stone structures. Most discounted that theory of course, but she found herself thinking of it. It seemed so impossible that the prehistoric citizens could have done it themselves.
A timeless mystery of the universe. She started walking again, her imagination making her smile.
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?
Welcome to the 2019 version of my blog! A new year! I”m starting this year with a challenge I particularly like. Linda’s #JusJoJan Challenge. You’ll see a post here, based on her prompts, every day of January. It will be fun. Today is just a brief rundown of 2018. In some ways, it’s a year I”d rather forget. More about that in a minute. In one very important way, it’s a year I’ll always remember. I want to share this with you.
When I was growing up, I really only knew one side of my family. I knew them and will love them always. I never had the opportunity to know the other side of my family, mostly, I think, because they were far-flung geographically from me. My dad didn’t talk very much about his family. He died young and I didn’t have the chance to ask. As I got older, I had to do some research in order to try to find my family. In 2018, I worked on my genealogy using Ancestry. About that time, coincidentally, one of my first cousins who I had really never known had been looking for me too. He found me on Facebook and we connected. It has been such a great pleasure getting to know him! Gradually, I’ve connected with most of my first cousins and then, through Ancestry, some of my second and third cousins. How fun it has been to get to know this big family I never knew I had!
Besides that, which has been the highlight of my year, it’s been a tough year and I’m glad to see 2018 end. I have some health-related challenges that are serious and just cropped up this year. Getting old is not for sissies! Because of that, I haven’t made as much writing progress as I’ve wanted to make. I have a novella and a novel in the works and only now am I starting to feel like working on them again. I am even feeling like taking a job again and may be working freelance for awhile.
At my age, you start to lose people in your life and I’ve also had deaths among my close circle of friends. It’s seemed as if there has been one funeral after another. On the upside of that, I’ve had a chance to reconnect with forever friends.
I’m ready for 2019 and am hoping that it will be a better year! Here’s hoping all of you have a wonderful year as well.
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.
When he happened upon the village, he had been traveling for a long time. Wandering from place to place. He stopped in the small restaurant for some dinner and that’s when he saw it. There was a sign advertising a position for a lighthouse keeper. His breath caught in his throat. He had worked as a lighthouse keeper many times in his life. Those were the only times he had been a good person. When he had a connection to the sea.
He called the number on the sign. There was a small room he could live in at the bottom of the lighthouse. It had been standing empty for a while now. Workmen came to set its light. He moved in the few things that he had.
That night, he went about the business of calibrating the light. An image came into the path of the light and he realized it was a large ship sailing too close to the coast. When the light began to work, he watched as the ship steered away from the coastline.
He sighed with relief. This Christmas he had done a good deed. Unlike so many Christmas’s in the past.
The family sat down for Thanksgiving dinner. She had cooked quite a dinner and he had helped. Everyone was at the table and they were both carrying the dishes of food to the table when she heard a crash. She turned around and he had dropped a large bowl of mashed potatoes on the floor, splattering them everywhere. They were everyone’s favorite dish.
He smiled, walked to the table, and pointed his finger. A lightning bolt appeared and at the end, a large bowl of mashed potatoes.
She said, “Hmm, so why have I bothered cooking all these years?”
Do you know what it feels like to be drowning? Not to be able to catch your breathe? It feels like you’re a fish out of water. Flopping on the shoreline. Gasping. Choking. Even if you manage to wriggle your way back to water, it hurts to breathe. You can’t swim very powerfully.
It feels like it does when your beloved leaves you and you feel like you’ve been punched in the gut. You can’t catch your breath for a few seconds. Even when you finally do, it comes in short, hard gasps. You might take a few steps, but you grab at your stomach. Overcome with pain. Bending over as if that will help.
Some people are like wolves or bald eagles or penguins. They mate for life. If their mate is gone, they find their way alone. Lonely, but with their memories. Occasionally gasping for breath like the beached fish. You may see them walking along the beach and if they raise their head, you’ll see the pain shining out of their eyes.
Thanks to Priceless Joy and to Jodi McKinney for the photo prompt.