Blades

His family once visited an old castle. He was unimpressed at the time, never suspecting he might one day long for the softness of moss under his feet.

There are certain things one expects of prison: lumpy cots, unpredictable tempers. Others have to be experienced firsthand: the stench of body odor mixed with bleach, the boredom, and the sore feet. Virtually every step taken since the verdict had been on concrete, and damn, those feet hurt like hell. He massaged them at night while dreaming of the castle, and could almost feel the blades of grass scratching his bare ankles.

[WORD COUNT: 100]

roger-bultot
Photo prompt @ Roger Bultot

Written for the Friday Fictioneers, hosted as always by the wonderful Rochelle. Disclaimer: I have never been to prison, so forgive me if the descriptors are inaccurate.

Boots

There’s this book that says get rid of things that don’t make you happy, which was damn near everything in my house. Except for these hiking boots that are nearly as old as me. Gran and I used to camp all the time when we were young, but then just sort of stopped. Life got too busy, I guess. Makes more sense to hike now, anyway; the way I see it, when Death comes, I’ll be ready to go the hell to sleep.

My daughter looked up from the letter and snorted. “He isn’t missing, Mama. He’s taking a hike.”

jan wayne fields
@jan wayne fields

 Friday Fictioneers! (Although it is Wednesday. Forgive me!) Thank you, Rochelle, for the prompt, and the fun opportunity to tell a story in 100 words!

[NOTE: Ending was slightly altered to incorporate helpful feedback from a reader.]

 

Fire and Stars

It is all on fire, she said matter-of-factly,
smoothing the blanket over her thin legs.

What’s on fire, Granny,
I asked, as I searched for flames.

The world, my love;
The whole world is on fire.
Passion, good or bad, is a fuse.
If it is lit, it will explode;
that is what it was made to do.
The fuse has been lit.

I don’t see it, Granny;
I don’t see the fire.

You don’t see it yet, my love,
You don’t see it yet, but you will.
You will feel the heat and the anger.
The smoke will burn your eyes and
steal your breath.

Don’t scare the child, Mama,
there’s no fire.

Granny leaned closer to whisper,
“But behind the clouds, my love,
behind the clouds are billions of
beautiful stars.
Look for the stars.
You will see those one day, too.”

first draft
8/22/17

#Goals

cup

People talk a lot about self-care, but as a parent with a full-time job, it is difficult to find an opportunity to take care of yourself. I strive to ensure my children have balanced meals, are well-hydrated, spend lots of time outside (with sunscreen!) and have adequate amounts of sleep. When it comes to myself, though, I have a tendency to relax the rules a bit. Self-care can be associated with indulgence, which I get–people talk about self-care in terms of manicures and pedicures, ice cream cones and the like.

Don’t get me wrong…these things have their place! But true self-care is about being the healthiest person you can be, which is the best gift you can give to those you love most.

I’m working on it. I have started running again, and exercise is truly a game-changer for me. A good run does wonders for my mood, and although a bad run makes me feel a bit grumpy, it still helps me feel accomplished. There are other things I can be working on, though, and this week I have a few additional, simple goals related to self-care.

  1. Don’t eat lunch at my desk. Unless I have lunch plans with a colleague, I am perpetually eating lunch at my desk, which is kind of gross, to be honest. And kind of sad. I don’t need a whole hour, but taking 20 minutes to eat a sandwich and read a book in our lunch room shouldn’t be that difficult. Plus, I might actually have the opportunity to connect with a colleague!
  2. Morning pages. I’m going to get up just a few minutes earlier and drink my cup of coffee in silence while scribbling three pages of thoughts. My life has changed astronomically in the past five years, and I don’t often give myself the opportunity to consider and come to terms with what I have lost and gained in that time. Writing provides me with an opportunity to be proactive about anxieties and negative feelings–I can get them on paper and let them go.
  3. Bake something. I know, I know. Sugar and fat don’t really come to mind when someone says “self-care,” but baking is a true pleasure of mine, and baking something for someone else is even better. I love the taste of an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, but I love more watching a person’s eyes light up when I hand them an unexpected package of baked goods.

The Dollhouse

Janey shoved her newest doll into the small case provided to her at the residence. She owned so many that the ruffle-lined limbs hung over the shelves, giving the appearance of drunk whores balanced precariously on somebody’s balcony.

She hated dolls. Always had. Couldn’t decide if her mother thought she loved them, or presented them as some sick sort of joke–a reminder to her disfigured daughter of the beauty she could never attain.

But they were gifts from her mother, nonetheless.

Janey kept them displayed near her tiny shower–the dust mingling with the smell of mildew and lavender.

[WORD COUNT: 100]

closet-shower-2
PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Not my first time with the Friday Fictioneers, but my first time with this blog. Thank you, Rochelle, for the prompt, and the fun opportunity to tell a story in 100 words!

What She Read

I have bits of poetry scribbled on random Post-Its, To-Do lists and notebooks throughout my house, and yet I can’t seem to put any of them together. While I wait for inspiration to make another visit, I have been reading. I used to be an avid bookworm, but parenting and work consumed much of my intellectual energy, and I found myself mindlessly scrolling through my phone at night rather than doing anything of value. Now that things have settled into a more reliable routine, I’ve been able to dust off my Goodreads account! I’m 28 books into my goal of 50 for the year, and I thought I would share my 5 favorites. (And then, if you’re curious, perhaps I can share the 5 I liked least!)

Avenue of MysteriesAvenue of Mysteries by John Irving

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Perhaps the most touching Irving book I have ever read (which says something, because Owen Meany broke my heart!) This is an unorthodox story of faith, relationships and unconditional love from the unlikeliest of people. Highly recommend.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham LincolnTeam of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thoughtful, comprehensive and impeccably written narrative of the man who steered our nation through its most turbulent times. Lincoln’s compassion, wisdom, political savvy and literary acumen made him an indispensable leader. I learned so much from this book and find myself wanting more.

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship EssexIn the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the true story that inspired Moby Dick; however, whereas Melville’s novel ends with a monstrous sperm whale attacking a whaler, that disaster marks the beginning of the ill-fated Essex whaler and her crew. Containing all of the hallmarks of a nautical catastrophe in the nineteenth century, the book relays in graphic detail the realities of starvation, dehydration, and the struggle to choose between one’s conscience and one’s chance for survival. It is a haunting portrait of man’s obsession with the beautiful, mysterious, dangerous and unpredictable ocean. Humans are made to live on land, not water, and yet our souls somehow long for it, despite the peril lurking below.

Screamfree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your CoolScreamfree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool by Hal Edward Runkel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m not a screamer, but I definitely have my (many) moments when I’m helplessly wondering what I could possibly be doing wrong as a parent because my sweet pea simply won’t listen. It was helpful to have this reminder of being a role model for the adults I want my children to become, versus focusing on getting my children to conform to standards. Runkel doesn’t say to let them run wild; on the contrary, he stresses the importance of space, boundaries and consistency. The goal of parenting, though, is to raise adults who will go off on their own, so consider the values and principles you want to instill. SUPER helpful and I have a feeling it will be read more than once!

The Traitor's Wife: The Woman Behind Benedict Arnold and the Plan to Betray AmericaThe Traitor’s Wife: The Woman Behind Benedict Arnold and the Plan to Betray America by Allison Pataki

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Interesting take on the strategic influence Peggy Shippen had on her husband, Benedict Arnold. Peggy reigns over Philadelphia society and is in love with John Andre–the handsome British soldier who is dispatched to New York. Despite her allegiance to the Crown and the luxuries it endorses, she marries war hero Arnold. Although nearly twice her age and struggling with an injured leg, Arnold offers the promise of wealth and popularity. When the colonial government fails to give Arnold the accolades and recognition she feels he is due, Peggy cunningly convinced him to betray Arnold to the British (in large part, it is suggested, because of her continued infatuation with Andre.) All in all, a fun read that wraps up a bit too nicely.

View all my reviews

Japan

Have I told you
how I accidentally ended up in Japan?
Or was it China?
It was a dream, of course.
I was on a tiny ship with friends.
I hadn’t seen them in years,
forgotten them, even.

Yet there we were,
sailing through a dark, turbulent sea
with fierce clouds.
It was odd
how steady the ship was.
Soothing, almost.
A mother
rocking her baby.

My, the sea was angry,
and beautiful.
Mesmerizing.
I wanted to stay
forever.

I had not meant to go that far.
There were meetings scheduled,
laundry to be done,
but there I was
with no choice but to wait
and to sprinkle the ashes
of my routine into the seductive,
eager hands of the waters–
as though leaving an offering
at an altar.

I don’t think it was China, either.
It was too isolated,
too quiet.
A country of companionable
solitude.
Enjoying the silence,
our nearness,
our introspection
together.

Perhaps it was Heaven.
I would believe in Heaven,
yearn for it, even,
if that was it.

But it was not Heaven,
of course,
it was a dream.

Only a dream.