Friday Fictioneers: The Future

For the second week in a row I am participating in Friday Fictioneers. (Could I be starting a new habit? )  For those of you who don’t know about this weekly challenge, click on the link to read more and find information on how to take part or read  other how others interpreted the photo. 

Photo by EL Applby

The Future

“What is that, Mom?” Griffin asked, his hand squeezing mine.

I thought  about how best to explain what had occurred within the last two decades, but fitting for a four year-old. He had to know because this would be his world.

“Scientists are working very hard to uh,” I wondered if I could lie to my son about the experiments.

“He’s kind of cute,” Griffin dragged his long, furry, paprika colored arm over the fence.

“Stop!” I said, rushing toward him, afraid of what that beast might do.

Griffin stroked his trunk. The creature trumpeted. Smiling, Griffin smacked his lips.

word count: 100

A Picture and a Story

Couple Embracing

On a whim I decided to try out a weekly writing challenge. This is my story based on the picture above.

Dear Melissa,

Mom and I were cleaning out your old dresser and we stumbled across this. You know that song by  The Pretenders that starts out with the words:

I saw a picture of you, whoa oh oh oh oh oh

When I came across this picture of you I turned it over and saw your handwriting in loopy scrawls, still somewhat juvenile in form, which wasn’t surprising as you were only seventeen. Class trip to Lisbon June 1998. 

I can still remember the tram ride that day; hot and stuffy. That was a bit unexpected, given it was nearly summer. The passengers were a mix of locals and tourists, mostly from our school. I’m wondering if you even noticed anyone else on the tram that day. You had wedged yourself into a seat and he  had his  arm around your waist. Your forehead nuzzled against his as blond strands of hair fell across your cheek. I  had to look away because you were my daughter. I stared at the others in nearby seats. It was not hard to pick out the  American tourists. They stood out like they always did in foreign places with their casual shorts, backpacks, gym shoes and cameras. I laughed to myself at how much I blended in with the locals.

It was the first tram we had taken since we arrived in Lisbon five days before. Senor Brito  insisted we visit Rossio Square and see the ruins of an old convent that suffered damage in  some earthquake years ago. I tried hard to concentrate on his words, the details of the tragic event, but instead concentrated on the old buildings passing by, the walls filled with graffiti.  I wasn’t comfortable seeing you kissed in public. I wondered if what you had with him was serious. I heard rumors he was going away to college in September, but not to Ball State like you.

As we neared the end of the tram line at the top of a hill, I saw you had turned away from him slightly. When the tram stopped, you hurried to the front with him close behind. He reached for your hand and you let him take it, intertwining your fingers in his. I wanted to grab your arm as you went past, but my parental instinct told me to let you be, enjoy this time with yo.  I exited with the others and walked further up the tiled stairs to resume my obligations as  chaperon and unofficial trip photographer.

As others milled around waiting for the entire group to  disembark, I saw him approach you. At first you turned away from him and crossed your arms in front of your chest, just like you used to as a little girl when you did not get your way. Then he pulled a small, green  wrapped package from inside the pocket of his cargo shorts. You opened the tape and parted the tissue paper on the inside, a slow smile spreading across your mouth. You held out a delicate necklace and let him fasten it around your neck.  I kept my eyes behind the lens and watched the two of you,  an excuse to see what you saw in him. When you flung your arms around him, I snapped this photo.

I always think of the words later in the song:

Those were the happiest days of my your life

As you go through this difficult time in your life, remember the good times.



I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Yes, I Am a Serious Book Reader

My Filled to the Max (on both sides!) Bookshelf

Last Fall,  I stumbled upon the site Goodreads.  The site  indicated it would give recommendations of books I might enjoy reading based on books I had already read. I was in a book rut, so I spent many hours clicking on all the books I have read, not understanding they became part of my bookshelf (which made them available for others to view). It wasn’t until  later (as in many months) when I realized  of the 159 or so books I had indicated reading that eighty-seven (yes, 87!) were children’s books. For all you math folks out there, 54% of my rated books were children’s books. I thought to myself, “How Pathetic!” Then I thought, “Maybe I should start a blog reviewing children’s books, since I have read soooooooooooooooooo many.” Hmm, I will have to think about that (another day of course).

I realized I have spent the last 9 1/2 years raising children and many years before that teaching children, and that probably accounts for the sheer number of children’s books I have read (what parent hasn’t read Brown Bear, Brown Bear or If You Give a Pig a Pancake? But have you read Lyle’s Birthday, Sylvester and The Magic Pebble or Chrysanthemum? (Okay, it sounds like I am still thinking about a children’s book blog…) But come on, 87  kids books! I absolutely love books and I read a lot  (or so I thought).

How much do I love reading books? Here are a few examples of my complete adoration of literary bound pages :1) I turn into a grouch when I don’t have time to read. 2)I stay up way too late if a book is so well written it leaves me completely enthralled. 3) On a _____ day, (substitute sunny, rainy, snowy, cloudy, etc. You get the picture) I would rather be reading. 4)My nightstand seems bare if there are fewer than 3 books on it at a time. 5) I feel thrilled when I receive books for my birthday, Christmas, Los Reyes Magos, etc. So there you have it, I am a bibliophile, a bookworm, a lover of the written word in short story or novel format.

I have followed a blog called 101 Books  to get ideas on what books I should read that I somehow missed out on. There are a ton of old favorites, like The Time Travelers Wife, which I just got around to reading last Fall. I think I missed it because I was either pregnant and reading those types of books, or had just had my first baby and was reading those types of books.  Either way, you get that I was not reading anything literary. So now I guess I need to play catch up.

It’s a new year with new possibilities. So far, my list includes:

Running With Scissors

Like Water For Chocolate


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

When She Woke

A Prayer for Owen Meany

Never Let Me Go

White Oleander

The Book Thief

What else  should I  include in my next batch of must reads??

I am interested in hearing your thoughts.

Fiction Friday: Part 4

5 strings bass guitar TUNE BASS MANIAC

Image via Wikipedia

Gertrude was fuming now. She was like a granny on coffee and Red Bull, ready to charge. She pulled out another bottle of vodka and looked around before taking a couple of swigs. Then she stashed it behind a rod of clothing. She glanced around at her treasures with a sense of panic that Judith would send them to the land of unwanted, decomposing junk of lives that are no longer wanted. She had to find them homes.

She looked up to see a group of young people approaching. She studied them with hawk eyes, noticing their all black clothing, concert t-shirts and piercings before calling out, “Do any of you young people play the guitar?”

She continued on, as if it were not their turn to answer yet. “I’ve got a bass guitar that used to belong to John Paul Jones.”

The teens stopped in front of the garage, communicating with one another without words. One teen spoke up. “Does it come with an amp?”

Gertrude, whose back was to them now, was trying to wrestle a hold of the long neck and lift it out from behind a table.

“You can use it at camp if you want, “ she told the speaker, who might have been fifteen.

He tried again, this time speaking slowly and enunciating his words, “I said, do you have an amp for it?”

“At the end of the Red Zeppelin concert, that young man Jones just tossed it into the air and my Edward grabbed it. He said it was the best concert he went to. Well, after the accident…” Gertrude said and then stopped talking, unsure if someone would want a dead boys’ guitar.

“It needs to make music again. You boys got your own band?” Gertrude asked, but then continued on without waiting for a reply. “You know Edward was in a band too. Used to play right here in this garage, that is until the uh…” Gertrude trailed off again.

A long-haired teen spoke up. “They are,” he said, motioning to his friends. “How much are you asking for it?”

Gertrude  beamed as she handed the dusty instrument with the broken string to the boy. “It’s yours. Just don’t tell Wanda,” she said to the perplexed teen.

When he stood there, saying nothing, she went on. “Go on over to the guitar fixing store up on Lincoln. Ask Jeff to help you get what you need. He used to play in the garage with Edward. Tell him Gertie sent you,” said Gertrude.

She once again sat down in the lawn chair, content to have found another home for her treasures.

The teens didn’t leave. The boy with the long hair didn’t feel right about taking the guitar without paying for it. What if someone wanted it back, or worse, thought he had stolen it from the helpless grandma.

“Um, I can’t take this and all I got is thirty-one bucks,” he said while trying to hand back the guitar.

“Can you play?” she asked him, while ignoring the instrument.

“I’m still learning.  Sometimes Joaquin,” he gestured to his friend, “let’s me have a turn on his,” the boy said.

“Well, you better get that fixed so you can practice with your friends,” she told them.

The long-haired teen said “thanks’, and then they left.

Gertrude rose from the chair, found her booze and took a few big swigs. She patted her mouth, stashed the bottle, then went to find Judith and Myron. They were in the kitchen speaking, but stopped the moment they heard her come in.

“Judith,” began Gertrude. “I need to talk to you.”

Judith looked at Myron, then back to her mother, as if trying to decide what to do.  “You must be tired from being in that stuffy garage all day. Can I get you some water to drink?” she asked her mother.

“I know what you’re trying to do. You are trying to retract me so that I’ll forget what I want to say,” Gertrude said.

“Oh Mother, of course I’m not trying to distract you,” Judith laughed nervously, “Right , Myron?” she said, trying to get her son to help her out.

“I heard you outside earlier and I’m telling you I am not going to some home down south. I’m staying right here, near,  near, ….Edward,” she breathed out looking back and forth from Judith to Myron. “He wouldn’t want me to go far away,” Gertrude said.

Her eyes had grown wet at the corners and her chin shook. She looked frail and pale at the moment and Judith thought her mother might faint.

“Myron, help your Granny sit down,” Judith told her son. “Now Mother, we’ve been through all of this before. Let’s be reasonable and…”

Myron interrupted her and said, “Mom, just tell her the truth!”

The room was silent, except for the fan spinning in a rhythmic motion. Their breaths rose and fell in rounds, like a song that was out of tune.

Stay tuned for the final week of Fiction Friday and find out “the truth”.

Fiction Friday: Part 3

A heap of old and unwanted cassette tapes.

Image via Wikipedia

This is part 3 in my Fiction Friday series. The 2 previous parts can be accessed via For Your Reading Enjoyment under Fiction Friday.

It is in serious need of a title. Leave a suggestion for one in the comments section below…

Will took a deep breath, stepped forward and pressed the money into Gertrude’s hand before running through the alley, back where he came from. He knew he shouldn’t turn and look back, but he couldn’t resist. What he saw was surprising. The old woman who smelled faintly of coffee, mothballs and his drunk Uncle Leo  lifted the lid of a trash bin and tossed the money into it. He couldn’t wait to tell his mom about the garage sale lady and twirl his index finger in the air by his head to show she was crazy.

Will wasn’t the only one who had seen Gertrude throw money into the garbage can. Wanda had gone to the garage to ask her mother a question. She heard voices around the corner in the alley and went to see if it was Gertrude. Wanda too was bewildered at the behavior she saw, and wondered if her mother was hiding things, like she tried to hide the vodka in the linen closet.

~ ~ ~

All through the summer, Wanda and Gertrude could be seen preparing the items for the sale (or gifting as Gertrude had a habit of engaging in when her daughter was not around). The odds and ends were often borderline junk: Looney Tunes bowls and glasses, scratched records, 8 tracks and cracked cases with cassette tapes in them, tacky costume jewelry fit only for children’s dress up, gaudy scarves that smelled like mildew, and Mary Tyler Moore era clothing fashioned on a rusted antique dress form.

The summer sun shone into the garage where Gertrude sat, covering her lined face with it’s warm blanket. The old woman dozed in the quiet neighborhood while the traffic on nearby Western hummed. Her head like a roladex, sorting through memories of cakes and candles, turkey and tinsel that she had shared in the house among family and friends. The outdated filing system was getting smaller and the one with her name on it was lost. She breathed in even inhales and exhales, except for the occasional sleeping snort. Gertrude awoke when the gate opened, unsure of her surroundings at first. She looked around at the garage as dust particles danced in front of her eyes. Maybe it was Myron.

Every now and then, Wanda’s son Myron would show up, move some of the larger items in the garage for the two women, then go inside the house to drink the piss that his mother kept in the refrigerator under the name of Old Milwaukee. Sometimes he would try to repair things around the house, like adding yet another shade of brown to the multicolored siding and side fence. Gertrude didn’t mind because she would not have to pay him for his help, if that’s what you called it. She knew he wouldn’t amount to anything, just like his father. Myron had worked at the same gas station in Cicero since he was 17. He was still living with his girlfriend, (whose name Gertrude could never remember), who still lived with her parents.

Gertrude got out of her chair and crept towards the house that she despised. She heard low voices, and knew they were talking about her.

“… you should just put her into one of those homes somewhere down south, so it would be too far to drive for regular visitations,” Myron said. “Then we wouldn’t have to bother with her that much.”

“She would never go for that. I’m sure there’d be kicking and screaming every inch of the way,” Wanda told him.

“Well, how else are we gonna unload this place if she’s around?” Myron said.

Wanda paused before answering. “Well, we could plan a trip to St. Louis on the train and take her around for the weekend. Make a big production out of it. Maybe we could see if Aunt Gwendolyn would want to meet us. If it involved family, I bet she wouldn’t be suspicious. Then we could check her in somewhere before we headed home.”

“And we would  buy her a one way train ticket, but she wouldn’t find out until it was time for us to leave,” Myron said.

Gertrude couldn’t believe her ears. They were planning to send her away! As much as she despised being around either of them, she had decided that she would leave according to her own terms. She had a will and a DNR all ready to go, but wasn’t going to share it with those two idiots. Too bad she wouldn’t be alive to see the look on their faces.