#SoCS – 04/21/2018

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My writing muse spoke to me today for the first time in weeks. When I’m dealing with the intricacies of life, I’ve found that the muse escapes me. If there are situations in my life that demand my attention, I feel my creativity slipping away. Those mundane situations sap any creative impulses that normally motivate me to write. When I realize that is happening, it’s very disturbing to me. I’ve been writing since I was nine years old. It’s how I’ve always dealt with stress and stretched my mind.

Recently, I’ve been juggling a lot of balls in my non-writing life. I’ve been too busy to write. My day doesn’t seem complete unless I can write, but there haven’t been enough hours in the day. I’ve ended my days very frustrated because I haven’t written a word.

When I feel like this, I try to take a few minutes to do some writing-related tasks. I’m in the middle of a novel, so I do some editing. I also read. I try to pick books that, for example, are good character studies or have excellent plot lines so I can get better at both techniques. I want to write some short stories, so I’m reading the latest collection of short stories compiled by the “Pushcart” collection. I also read the Writer’s Digest magazine and other publications on writing techniques.

What do you do when the writing muse isn’t with you?

Dark #writephoto

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The stress that permeated his family was unbearable. There were no jobs. No way to make a living. He was thinking of leaving the small town in the Appalachian Mountains to find work elsewhere. He would try to come home on the weekends. So many in generations before him had done the same. Others had moved their families to cities, to other towns, where they could find work. Their families weren’t usually happy. The people of Appalachia were clannish. They loved their mountain life existence, their extended families, their neighbors. They didn’t want to go to a strange place. He was thinking of going it alone, sending money home, coming home when he could.

He walked before dawn at the foot of the mountains. Thinking. Pondering. It was so beautiful here. The sun was about to rise and he stopped to watch. He had seen this sunrise many times and each time it was more beautiful as it rose over the mountains. No wonder the family didn’t want to leave. People from the outside didn’t understand. They thought them lazy. That they were people who wanted to be on the government dole. That wasn’t it at all. Their culture was different from that on the outside. They knew they wouldn’t fit in out there. Their families and their lifestyle was important to them.

The coal mining jobs had gone away due to the movement toward clean energy. Farming had gone away because tobacco was no longer a cash crop and the corn and other crops had been usurped by the big corporate farms. Because they were geographically isolated, industry did not want to locate there. What were they supposed to do? Abandon the life that they had known for generations?

He had been a specialized machinist in the mines. He could get a job on the outside and had even interviewed with other companies. As the sun rose over the mountains, he knew he had to leave to support his family. He had to send his children to college. There was no place for his wife to work and both their parents depended on him. As the sun rose higher in the sky, he made his decision and started walking home to tell his family. He would not lose them or his connection to this beautiful place. He would drive home on weekends. He would give them the gift of keeping their lives intact.

Indelible – #JusJoJan 2018

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She was awakened this morning by one of her recurring nightmares. He was trying to steal her dogs again. She sat up quickly on the side of the bed. So many things that had happened in her first divorce from him had made an indelible mark on her psyche. Harper, her small dog, who was lying on top of her bed had been nudging her. Maybe that had triggered the dream from events that took place 25 years ago.

That divorce and the involvement of the dogs she had at that time hit her like a battering ram. He had tried to use anything she loved, or anything or anyone that loved her, against her. To hurt her. To ruin her reputation. She knew that, this time, this ending of the second marriage, he would do it again. The thought made her lose her breath and feel nauseous.

She let Harper outside and her mind drifted back to the custody fight he had started over her three dogs all those years ago. He had warned her that he was going to take them from her. He didn’t succeed, but he cost her a lot of money and worry in order to keep them. During their first divorce hearing, the judge ruled that she would have custody of the dogs, her precious corgis, even though they were legally considered property. But, he gave him visitation rights. Since he had two pit bull mixes at his house, she let him come to her house to see them. It was a nightmare and everyone knew he was there to see her. She was disgusted.

Over a year passed. She finally received a letter from his attorney. Extortion, she called it. He wanted money in exchange for the cessation of visitation rights. One of the dogs was her mother’s dog. Her mother was terminally ill and lived with her. The middle dog was crippled from birth and a rescue from a breeder. Then there was her precious Kelly. Her dog. There was no choice but to pay the ransom. $25,000. She paid it and kept her dogs. As she watched Harper in the backyard, running and playing, she felt, deep in her gut, that it was about to happen again.

She would not let it. She would take matters into her own hands.

 

This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s JusJoJan 2018 Challenge.

Room with a View – #writephoto

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The vines were growing up around her window. They were beautiful in their own, wild way. They were threatening to obstruct her view. She would send word to the gardener to trim them back, but only just a little. Not only were they pretty, but they gave her a modicum of protection.

The house was set back from the country lane, but her window looked out onto the lane. She had a good view. She could see her neighbors driving their cars, walking their dogs, walking with their children. They couldn’t see her because of the appearance of frosted glass. She liked it that way.

Her reclusiveness had started a long time ago and had worsened as she aged. Her house was wired so she could communicate with the outside world and do her work. She could order most of what she needed. She only had to get out occasionally. She enjoyed three friends she allowed to visit and she didn’t allow any family.

She became a recluse after she retired from her career. Back then, she still came and went, but only some. Then she stepped out of her comfort zone and allowed her husband back into her life. The worse things got between them, the more she cloistered herself. When he finally left her, her solitude was complete. Her embarrassment total. Her room with a view became her home forever.

Thanks to Sue Vincent for the #writephoto challenge.

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.

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.

 

 

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

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? 🙂