Dave – Daily Prompt “The Name’s The Thing”

The Name’s The Thing

Have you ever named an inanimate object? (Your car? Your laptop? The volleyball that kept you company while you were stranded in the ocean?) Share the story of at least one object with which you’re on a first-name basis.


A year and some change ago, my dad was looking to buy a new car.  Well, new to him.  He wasn’t rolling in the dough, but he was a thrifty sonnama bitch.  Dad was old school and his Hyundai Accent just wasn’t doing it for him.  He had some “commie asshole” (his words) chew him out in the Meijer parking lot one early Sunday morning for owning a car made by “Chinese slaves” (commie asshole’s words).  The car was made in Alabama.  We checked.  But it also sat low to the ground and was hard for him to get in and out of with his bad hips and knees.  And since I wasn’t buying him a Cadillac (he wanted me to buy him a new one and a 1946 Cadillac like his uncles had), he decided it was time for a new car.  He was old school, so he wanted a Ford.  Good solid sturdy car. 

Enter Dave.  That’s the car.  Dave.  He was giving me a tour around town a month or so after he bought it (I moved to Tennessee and he was in Central Indiana) and was showing it off to me.  Nice car.  Good on gas, mood lighting around the cup holders and floorboards at night.  Powered leather seats that warmed your cold butt in the winter.  The works.  It was a nice car.  He was pleased with it. 

My dad didn’t get to drive it around that much.  Dad died in December 2013.  A week after Thanksgiving and just 3 days after I left to go back home to Tennessee.  I drove Dave around, sometimes in a daze, as I tended to the many things one needs to do after a parent dies.  I was his only son and the only immediate family member he had left.  He and my mom split up when I was a wee toddler.  But thank god for my mom.  She helped a ton.  After all, she had to go through it with her dad when I was a slightly wee’er toddler.  So anyway, I drove Dave around with his mood lighting set the way dad had it and the radio on the same station and the butt warmers turned on.  He had a handicap placard he hung from the rearview mirror, remember he had bad hips and knees, and I kept it there.  Even parking in a handicap spot once.  I didn’t realize it and my mom said you can’t park here, it’s a handicapped spot.  I said, “What are they gonna do?  I’ve got a sign.  Besides, my dad just died.”  I was going to the flower shop to order flowers for the casket.

Dave came home with me, I was appointed executor of the estate and he pretty much left everything to me anyway.  My brother (from my mom’s second marriage) and I went on a trip to Wyoming this past summer.  We drove Dave.  In the middle of our trip, my brother said he thought Dave a free spirit.  I had to agree.  After all, he had taken us from Indiana to Wyoming, up a mountain side that Jeeps would be envious of, past herds of buffalo, past Old Faithful, and through the dirt roads and mud holes the size of Nebraska. 

Dave is now my car.  I’ve always given my cars girl names, you know, like, you don’t call a ship “him” or “he”; it’s always “she” and “her”.  But Dave kept his name when I became the new owner.  And every time I get in the car to go somewhere, I say a silent little hello to Dave, and I think of my dad.



DP Writing Challenge – Ray Bradbury’s Noun List



Ray Bradbury, author of 11 novels, including classics such as Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, faced writer’s block just like the rest of us. Bradbury, in addition to giving great writing advice, busted writer’s block by creating lists of nouns — the basic building blocks of sentences, paragraphs, short stories, novels, flash fiction, memoir, and poems.

The beautiful thing about the noun list twist is that you can use it to nudge your muse when writing fiction, non-fiction, memoir, poems — anything you wish to work on.

In today’s challenge we’ll ask you to write a new post using some nouns from various sources.

On the other side of the Milky Way Galaxy lies a world much like Earth.  In fact, it is a near mirror of Earth, different in only one way.  They have evolved to a point where there is one society, one language, and there is no violence of any kind tolerated toward other humans, for they, too, are human. 

It began as an experiment, a trial run, to see if a race of beings could survive on the outskirts of the galaxy.  These creatures called the outer edge of the galactic core home.  They found the collective radiation of the core had been poisoning them, not helping them evolve, as they once had thought.  Humans, similar in cellular structure, but considered animals and therefore expendable, were placed on two planets opposite each other and were to be observed over a period of 10,000 years to learn of the effects each solar system.  However, this race of beings died out and were extinct before the experiment was concluded. 

It was in this manner that the two worlds were left alone, free to grow and evolve at their own rates with no outside help.  No notion that there were any other beings in the galaxy, or the universe for that matter, other than themselves. 

As they grew in numbers and technology, they expanded on their own planets and eventually colonized other planets.  But one world grew much faster and technology expanded much more rapidly than the other.  Consequently, they evolved much faster than their galactic cousins. 

Sothess was the center of the government of the humans who developed technology that far surpassed the other’s technologies.  They had evolved to the point where there was no violence tolerated and offenders had their minds probed, the damaged areas erased and rewritten to conform to societal standards.  It was a Utopian society, colonizing planet after planet, cataloguing indigenous species of flora and fauna, and increasing their knowledge of themselves and the galaxy they lived in.

The other planet was Earth.  Plagued by strife and war, their progress was significantly slower.  Colonies were settled and fought over at first by the different countries of Earth.  Later colonies were settled and fought over by the worlds that had themselves been fought over. 

But they had overcome that dark history and had been advancing in the galaxy toward the same end as the Sothess, namely one of peace and knowledge.  The people of Earth never forgot their dark history, preferring to remember the pain and suffering that was so common so as to be a deterrent for future leaders.

It was a future they would again relive, for one day a baby was born in a basement on Sothess.  A baby with a grim future.  A baby that would grow up to be someone the Sothessians wouldn’t know exactly what to do with. He was anathema to the Sothessians.  And he grew up knowing that; resenting it, vowing to get even with them.

On Earth, at the same moment as on Sothess, another baby was born on a calm tranquil lake in what the locals called “Upstate New York”, but was officially recognized as Sector 3a Subsector 14-1.  This baby would grow up to be the opposite of The Anathema.

There would be a war that would dwarf all other wars known in human history.  Would the humans of Earth be slaves to The Anathema; the holder of technology so great he could erase minds and record his own thoughts to them?  Or would the individual human minds of free will prevail? 



The Motorcycle Diaries…by Me.

Tuesday 17 June 2014 – Rough day at work.  Ran some errands then went to the cigar store for a smoke and a root beer and hoping for some much needed relaxation, smoking, talking and laughing with the guys.  Left the cigar store about 8 and took my bike on the interstate heading north on 65 toward downtown Nashville not really sure of where I wanted to go.  Started to get off the highway on Broadway figuring I’d take a quick ride downtown and see what was up.  At the last second I decided against it and picked up on the throttle.  The tailpipes growled as I picked up speed, and, checking over my left shoulder for any cars coming up, I passed a semi, then a car, then an SUV, then two more cars.  Then there was open highway and I had another decision to make.  Left on 40 heading west towards Memphis or right on 65 heading north towards Louisville and to my home state of Indiana?  The split is coming up quickly…make up your mind.  And then I heard Horace Greely in my mind and leaned the bike left toward Memphis.  “Go West, young man…”  That lingered in my mind for a little bit until a few miles up the road I saw the sign for Briley Parkway, Highway 155.  I had been down this road before at night and in my car.  I didn’t remember much because it was a long time ago.  I flipped my blinker, checked over my right shoulder and took the exit with the speed limit marked 45mph at 55mph.  On the little four lane state highway there wasn’t much traffic northeast of Nashville at this time of night.  the sun was going down on my left and there was a coolness in the air that belied the 79 degrees listed on the First Tennessee bank marquee a few miles back.  As I crossed over Eatons Creek Rd., I hit the throttle again.  The tailpipes growled again as if to thank me for letting the Beast stretch its legs.  The rumble broke the stillness of the mist that was beginning to settle in the valleys as parents got their little ones to bed and they themselves settled down for the evening.  I crossed over 24, then a minute later passed 65.  Traffic started to pick up now being so close to the interstates and Opry Mills Mall.  I let the throttle go and was down to the speed limit in a second, the crackling sound of the tailpipes still sounded mean and it was sort of whining to me that it still wanted to go fast.  “Easy there, beast,” I said.  “I’ll let you play again tomorrow.”  I passed up the mall through the twists and turns passing the Bridgestone building and a half-dozen 20+ story office buildings.  I took the exit for 40 east towards Knoxville and the Nashville International Airport and was soon on the familiar road heading home.  I sort of felt bad for the beast and I asked he’d like to stretch a little bit more before we got home.  He said yes, and so when we hit the gradual incline by the Percy Priest Dam, I opened up the throttle for the last time that night.  The Beast narrowed its eyes, dug its tires into the pavement and let out a growl so loud the kid in the tricked out Honda who likes his beats fast and his bass down low had to have heard it. The Beast was satisfied and purred contentedly the rest of the way home and was asleep, the engine crackling as it cooled down, before I could take my helmet off. I wasn’t far behind it.

Her First Rodeo

The early morning mist enveloped the valleys in central Kentucky where Rikki had her farm.  Having put up the horse in the barn the night before, she only had to saddle him up and hit the trail.  As she walked in the barn, the familiar scent of hay and horse wafted past her making her smile.

“Good morning ‘Mater.  How are you this morning,” she asked of her beautiful copper sorrel.  ‘Mater walked up to the gate and stuck his head out.  Rikki took him in both hands and rubbed the sides of his head and kissed the bridge of the horse’s nose.  ‘Mater grunted his approval and swiped his head against Rikki in a playful gesture.  Rikki laughed and opened the gate, leading the horse out.

She quickly and expertly lifted her trail riding saddle on ‘Mater and buckled everything nice and snug giving him a pat on the rump when she finished.  Rikki hopped up with all the enthusiasm she remembered having when she used to ride on her papaw’s farm when she was a girl.

It was because of her papaw that she was doing this now.  After he died, Rikki’s dad had given her a box labelled “Rikki Ann” in her papaw’s scratchy handwriting. It was full of things that they had shared as she grew up. Things that reminded her of him the instant she saw them.  At the bottom were some things that she had never seen before though.  There was a picture of him and Rikki’s mamaw when they were young from before they were even married.  There were other photos of her family, including some of her dad.  But what most intrigued her was a program from The Kentucky State Amateur Rodeo. She looked through it and under the heading “Adult Roping and Bronco Riding” and the third name from the top was Pete Berry.  “Papaw was a rodeo cowboy,” she asked herself out loud.

She didn’t know why, but after seeing that, she decided she wanted to be in a rodeo also.  She always loved barrel racing when she went to a rodeo, so why not try that.  With the help of a family friend, she bought ‘Mater, an already experienced barrel race horse.

She trained with ‘Mater every day and her friend trained her every weekend for two years before finally feeling comfortable with entering an actual rodeo.

And here she was, the day before her first rodeo.  She was nervous and she knew ‘Mater could sense that.  So she took him out for an early morning trail ride to help calm both their nerves.  She hopped up and rode ‘Mater right out of the barn.

They rode to the back of the property about a half mile away to a place where Rikki always felt her papaw’s presence.  This morning was no different.  She got off the horse and draped the reins over the horn on the saddle and stood there soaking in the early morning light filtering through the mist.

“Well Papaw,” she said out loud.  “Tomorrow is it.  I’ll be in a rodeo just like you.”  She pawed around at the brush with the toe of her boots, her hands stuffed in her pockets.  “I just want you to know I’ll be thinking about you and I hope you can help me out.  Keep me calm, you know how I get in front of a crowd.  Well, I guess that’s about it.  I love you Papaw.”

She got back on ‘Mater and already felt at ease.  ‘Mater sensed Rikki’s calmness and mirrored it in his gait.  They headed back to the barn where Rikki would clean ‘Mater up and then load him in the trailer and head out for the hour and forty-five minute trip to Louisville.

They came over a ridge and within sight of the barn and Rikki leaned forward and patted ‘Mater on the back of the neck.  “You want to run, ‘Mater?”  Horse and human were so connected to each other that ‘Mater took off without Rikki doing anything to spur her on.

She closed her eyes, completely trusting ‘Mater, and felt the cool wind blowing through her hair.  Time seemed to slow down and she could hear the steady but heavy breath of ‘Mater swiftly carrying her toward the barn with each powerful stride.

When they reached the barn, she got down and patted ‘Mater on the neck and scratched behind his ears.  “Come on, ‘Mater,” she said and walked into the barn to the washing stall with ‘Mater following close behind.

Rikki washed and combed him and led ‘Mater to the trailer that was already hitched to the truck.  “You ready for this,” she asked ‘Mater.  ‘Mater bobbed his head up and down in the very human gesture.  “Ok, come on,” Rikki laughed as she walked the horse into the trailer.


Rikki waited down at the back of the chute and made ‘Mater walk around to burn off some of the excitement they both were feeling.  ‘Mater walked around feeling completely at home in the loud and massive arena.  Rikki, however, had never done this before, had never been in front of such a crowd, and had never been more nervous in her life.

She got in line as her name was called.  There were two riders in front of her who seemed like they were going on a trail ride back home.  They showed no signs of nervousness.  She wondered how they could do that, and decided to try to not be nervous by concentrating on her ride.

She envisioned herself riding ‘Mater through the chute and up to the first barrel, she saw ‘Mater carry her through to the second barrel and deftly stop and change direction to the third barrel.  She saw the same thing happen on number three and then ‘Mater run as fast as he can past the first two and back through the gate.  She saw it all in her mind and repeated it once more.

She found she was more calm and at ease now.  ‘Mater felt it and looked over his shoulder at her and seemed to say, “You’ll be fine.  I’ll take good care of you.”  Rikki smiled and patted him.  She was next up.

As the horse and rider came back into the alley after their ride she got ‘Mater into place.  Rikki took a deep breath, closed her eyes and thought of her papaw.  She knew he was watching her and looking over her right now.  She could feel his presence right there in the arena.  She heard the buzzer signaling that they were ready for her run.

She opened her eyes, took another deep breath and said to herself as much as she did to ‘Mater, “Let’s do this.”

She kicked ‘Mater with both heels and hollered “Come on!”  He took off faster than she had ever felt him move.  She held on tighter than she had ever done before.  Half way to the first barrel she felt time slow down just as it had earlier when ‘Mater took her to the barn.

The wind whipped past her causing her hair that was being held down by her Western cowboy hat to flap up and down on her back.  She heard ‘Mater’s breathing again and felt the power as his hoofs pounded the dirt below them.  It was the most exhilarating feeling she had ever had.

The first barrel was coming up quickly.  At the last second she cried, “Woah,” and neck reined the horse.  He stopped almost on a dime and rounded the first barrel missing it by mere inches.  As he came around the barrel, Rikki lined him up with the second barrel and kicked him again.  She kicked with each stride and ‘Mater obliged giving his all for her.

They repeated the turn on barrel number two and then she felt something, something that wasn’t supposed to happen.  She didn’t know what it was, she couldn’t nail it down.  The saddle felt soggy the way a car feels when you drive it with tires with very low air pressure.  Her first thought was she missed something while tacking ‘Mater out of the trailer.  Panic welled up in her gut as the third barrel got closer and closer.

‘Mater was sprinting and she didn’t know what to do.  If she stopped the run she could go flying over ‘Mater’s head.  If she kept going she could be flung off the horse and into the wall or she could slide off on the other side and crash into the metal 55 gallon drum.

She didn’t know what to do so she trusted her horse.  She knew ‘Mater had to have felt the same thing she did and even though ‘Mater was a horse and didn’t think like a human, she knew he did everything he could to protect her just like she did for him.  They were connected somehow, whether it was through her papaw or just one of those rare connections some people have with their horses.  So she trusted the horse.  And the horse kept going.

Rikki slowed ‘Mater at the last possible second fully expecting to be flung over his head but she wasn’t.  Then came the turn and after she wasn’t flung off before she thought this was when she’d be flung into the wall.  But ‘Mater turned on a dime for the third and final time and once again she stayed in the saddle and the saddle stayed on the horse.  When Rikki lined him up with the gate she kicked him with both heels and ‘Mater went flying to try to shave every tenth of a second he could from the time.

They raced through the gate and came to a stop in the alley under the arena stands.  She came out of her time slowing trance and hopped off ‘Mater to see what happened with the saddle.  She was vaguely aware of the crowd in the arena erupting with cheers but figured they were cheering for the next racer.

She looked under the horse and couldn’t believe what she saw.  The girth was gone!  It just wasn’t there.  It had somehow snapped at two different points at the same time.  It was a miracle she was still alive!  She stood up straight and looked at her horse and reached around his neck and pet the side of his head.  He bent his neck and nuzzled her and then straightened out as two men came running up to her.

“Miss!  Are you alright, Miss?” They came running up to her panting.  One of the men held the girth that had broken off and went flying as ‘Mater kicked it up right after rounding the second barrel.

“I’m fine,” Rikki said still not quite believing what happened.

“We thought you were a goner!  Hol-y Cow!  I saw that strap break loose and I turned my head.  I thought you were going to go flying off.  I really thought you were gone.”

“I didn’t know what happened.  I mean, I felt something, but I didn’t know what it was.  I just trusted my horse.  He’d never do anything to endanger me but I don’t even know if he knew what had happened,” Rikki said still in shock.

“Well, you are one of the luckiest riders I’ve ever seen.  It’s a miracle you didn’t go flying off that horse.  Someone’s watching over you.”

She instantly thought of her papaw.  Could it be that he held the straps or held the saddle in place?  She had this vision of him riding behind her on ‘Mater lighter than air but with the strength of an angel, holding the saddle while she rode.

The thought brought tears to her eyes and she was fully aware now of everything around her.  She started shaking as the realization that she could have been paralyzed or worse, dawned on her.

After about five minutes of just standing there stroking ‘Mater and trying to calm her nerves, another man came up to her.  He was older and seemed official and had that air about him as a man that is used to giving orders and having them followed without question.

“My name is Bob Dressler and I’m the senior executive for the rodeo.  You, my dear, are the luckiest young lady I’ve ever seen.  I wanted to tell you personally that you came in with the fastest time today.  Young lady, you won this contest by two tenths of a second.  Two tenths.  Do you hear that crowd out there?  That’s for you.”

She was aware of the crowd but wasn’t aware of what they had been chanting for the last minute.  She could hear the feet stomping like thunder above her.  She made out the sound of the chant, “Rik-ki Ann!  Rik-ki Ann!  Rik-ki Ann!”

She took the man’s outstretched hand and shook it.  She smiled and didn’t didn’t say a word.

“We’d like to present your trophy out in the arena if you’re up to it.”

“Sure,” Rikki said.  “I’m up to it.”  She turned to ‘Mater and smiled at the horse she felt connected to even more if that was even possible.  “Come on, ‘Mater.”  She walked toward the arena with ‘Mater following, his reins draped over the horn of a saddle that was still on his back that shouldn’t be.

As she came out of the alley and into the arena with ‘Mater following behind her, the arena erupted with cheers that was deafening.  She would normally have felt so out of place in this situation but strangely, or not so strangely, she wasn’t nervous or embarrassed.

Once again, she felt her papaw’s presence and attributed it to her feeling so calm.  She grinned and waved to the crowd.  She turned around, took her cowboy hat off and waved it at the crowd grinning like a little girl who just got a pony for her birthday.  Rikki turned again and looked at ‘Mater who had turned with her and she could almost see her papaw standing next to him.

“Thank you, Papaw.  I love you,” she said to the seemingly empty space beside her champion barrel riding horse.

The Best Birthday Ever – DP Challenge


Max sat in the porch swing of his farm house south of Nashville in the early evening hours of a hot summer day.  He had just celebrated his seventy fifth birthday and decided he needed a break from the festivities of supper and opening presents and children begging to open them for him and, of course, from him letting them.

He heard the screen door around the corner of the wrap-around porch open and close with a slam.  Figuring a small child was going to come running around the corner he pulled back his outstretched legs not wanting to trip the little hooligan.  But instead his wife, Annie, of forty years came by and sat down next to him silently and then let out a big sigh.

“I haven’t cooked a supper like that in I can’t remember how long.  You better have appreciated it, mister!” She let out a chuckle and patted his knee affectionatly.

“You know I appreciate everything you do, dear,” Max said truthfully.

“I know you do,” she said with a smile.  “And you had better do the same for me when turn seventy five!”

They both laughed and he put his arm around her, while she laid her head on his shoulder, much the same way they had done before they were even married.  Things hadn’t changed much in their relationship except that they grew to love each other more each year.  He knew it sounded cliche whenever someone asked him about it, but he honestly believed that each birthday and each anniversary when he reflected on his life, he found that he loved his wife more each time.  Nobody asked him about his children or grandchildren, but he loved them more each year also.

He heard the screen door once again and a moment later a little girl of five years old came around the corner and beamed at the sight of grandma and grandpa.

“Well hello, Little Miss!”  Emily, their only granddaughter walked up to them as Max stopped their easy, relaxing swing.

“Hi papa,” she said in her sweet angelic southern accent. “Hi, grandma.”

Max picked her up and put her on the swing between him and Annie and started rocking the swing once again.  The sun made its way below the trees in front of them casting an orange glow over the horses in the field and, up close, the fireflies could be seen sending out their mating calls. Frogs and crickets could be heard croaking and chirping their songs to each other.  Without realizing it, Max sighed a completly relaxed and contented sigh.  Everything was perfect just as it was right in this moment. He again put his arm on the back of the swing and gently traced circles and figure eights around the back of Annie’s neck which used to send goosebumps up her arms way back when.  He did it without thinking about it now.

He had had many such perfect moments in his life as he reflected on it.  The moment after he proposed to Annie and she tearfully accepted.  The moment he sat on this very porch swing with her after they bought this house.  The moment each of his two children were born and the moment he first held each of his five grandchildren.  They were all perfect moments at the time.  But this one, this moment seemed to top them all.

The moment was interrupted by the sweet voice of Emiliy.  “Papa,” she inquired.

“Yes, sweetie.”

“Tell me about when you and grandma were little like me.”

Max looked at Annie with a smile.  “Well, cupcake, I grew up in the city in the north and Grandma grew up in the country in the South.  And nobody thought we would make it!”  Emily giggled with all the enthusiasm of a five year old which swelled Max and Annie’s hearts so full of joy they could hardly contain themselves.

“A Yankee and a Rebel,” she exclaimed, having heard them recall Annie’s parents declaration, and giggled once again.  They all heartily laughed at that and when they eventually settled down, the frogs and crickets once again dominated the conversation as the sun fell further and further behind the trees.

“Papa,” she asked again.  “Will boys ever like me?”

“Little Miss, what are you thinking about boys for at your age?”

“Well, there’s this boy, Tommy and I like him.  But he picks on me and calls me names.  Mamma said that’s because he likes me, but it sure don’t seem like it.”

“Well, let me tell you something about little boys, honey.  When they’re young like you are, they tend do mean things to the girls they like because they think they’re not supposed to like little girls.  But when you get older, they’ll like you plenty.  They’ll even want to kiss you!”

“Not Tommy.  He won’t want to.”

“Yes, even Tommy will want to.”  He thought about the girls he had crushes on when he was young.  He could remember their names, but he couldn’t picture their faces anymore.  Amy, Jennifer, and Jessica.  It was so long ago and yet he could remember feeling like he was strange for actually liking them.  How much a young boy’s perspective changes in the few short years from adolecence to the teenage years.

“And then when you’re a little older than Bubba, boys will start to ask you out on dates.  And your mamma and daddy will want to meet them to make sure they are good enough for you.  And of course they won’t be good enough for you beacuse you’re a perfect little angel aren’t you?” He poked her in the belly and she scruched up and laughed till little tears came streaming out of her eyes.

“And then you’ll go to college and you’ll meet a boy there and you’ll eventually fall in love and get married.”

“Like you and Grandma?”

“Yep.  Just like me and Grandma.  And you’ll have kids just like me and Grandma had your mamma and your Uncle Henry.”  This seemed to satisfy her curiosity for the moment as she didn’t ask any further questions.  They continued to gently swing as the sun finally set below the horizon.  Something in the distance set the horses running which made Emily sit up and watch them.  When they finally settled down and continued their grazing, she sat back, and leaned against Annie who held her close, while Max held his arm around Annie completing the circle of protection.

Max thought of when he was a young man chasing the college girls all around.  His prioties had been, girls, booze, sleep and school.  In that order.  When his own parents had threatened to make him pay for the school he was failing out of, he changed his priorities.  School and girls shared the first priority while booze was a close third.  But school won out and he graduated, moving to Nashville for a job.  His focus went to money first, then girls and booze following a close second and third.  And finally he met Annie.  The proverbial friend of a friend.  His first priority immediately switched to her.  He couldn’t get her out of his mind no matter how hard he tried.  Getting her was his focus, his drive.

When he finally got her he didn’t want to let her go and she didn’t want him to either.  They were married and shortly thereafter they had their daughter.  His perspective again shifted to providing for his new family.  Protecting his daughter and wife became first priority.  Then their son came.  He could hardly believe that he had a family and responsibilities that five or six years previous would have seemed like a joke to him.

My how some things change and yet how some things never change.  He recalled how he felt about Annie when he first met her and how that hadn’t changed in over forty years.  He recalled how he felt when his children were born and how that hadn’t really changed throughout the years.  And he thought of his priorities before Annie and how it changed yearly, almost monthly, sometimes.

Max heard the porch door open again and his daughter came around the corner.  “There y’all are!  We were wondering where the man of the hour and all his ladies went!”

Max stood up and hugged his daughter and smiled.  “Now I have all my ladies.” He positioned her and motioned for her to sit in the swing with her own daughter and her mother.  He leaned on the porch railing and thought for a moment as he gazed upon three generations of those whom he loved more than his own life and determined that this moment topped the one he had five minutes ago.

This moment, with so many others, would be ingrained in his memory until he took his last breath.  He hoped it wouldn’t be for a long time yet to come, but if he died tonight, he would die the happiest man on earth.  He had lived a storied life with all his adventures and conquests, but it was those in front of him now, and all those in his house that made his life worth living.  His family was the most precious thing he could have, and from the time it began, it had provided the perspective he needed to enjoy and experience life as he knew it was meant to be experienced.

As darkness enveloped them, and the frogs and crickets grew louder, they headed back into the house for cake and ice cream.  Emily was first to go back in, followed by her mother.  Max held his wife Annie back and put his hands on her waist and she put her arms around his neck and his kissed her.  As they looked into each other’s eyes reliving forty years in just a second, they both heard two of their younger grandsons.  “Ewwwwww,” they exclaimed simultaneously.  They smiled, held back a laugh, and walked in the house, hand in hand, both knowing their grandson’s priorities would change soon enough.











Jerry’s Vacation

Daily Prompt: Let’s Go Crazy
by Krista on March 7, 2014
Sometimes, we act on impulse: it could be something as small as ordering that special dessert on the menu, maybe asking out that cute boy or girl, or as large quitting your job and selling everything you own to become a shepherd in New Zealand. What’s the most crazy, outrageously impulsive thing you’ve ever done? If you’ve never succumbed to temptation, dream a little. If you gave yourself permission to go a little crazy, what would you do?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us IMPULSE.


Jerry sat in his easy chair watching the baseball game on a hot summer evening. He was drifting off to sleep, a ritual he had started as a young man which continued into his married years. It was something his wife, Carol, had always hated. It was his only vice she had known about before they got married. He never drank too much or smoked too much or anything really worse than that at all.

About four or five months after they were married, she started seeing him change. He’d leave a beer bottle in the living room over night. He’d forget to take the trash out on the morning the garbage trucks came. It started small, but got to be a big problem in her eyes. A big problem.

Jerry thought it was a big problem too. He worked full time at the Ford plant and was tired when he got home. He’d been there for thirty five years already and wanted to retire. But damn, Carol got on his ever lasting nerves sometimes. He’d come home and wonder, “What’s it going to be tonight? Dishes? Garbage? Jesus, Carol, just put the dishes in the dish washer. Just throw the damn beer bottle away. Was it really that big of a deal?”

As he sat there drifting off to sleep to the sound of a Chicago sportscaster calling play by play, he heard Carol.

“Jesus Christ Jerry! How many times to I have to tell you to rinse your plate off? It’s not that hard.”

“Then why don’t you do it,” he thought. “Sorry dear,” was what he eventually said.

“Sorry doesn’t rinse the dishes off, dear.”

He sighed heavily and collapsed the easy chair’s foot rest. He heard the crack of the bat on TV and stood there watching as the runner rounded third heading for home and the hitter rounded second trying to stretch a double into a triple.

“Jerry!” The shrill voice of his wife screaming his name made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up and goose bumps form on his forearms like fingernails on a chalkboard.

He sighed, “Coming.”

His wife was wiping down the table when he meandered into the kitchen. He went to the sink and looked, but there were no dishes in it. He turned to his wife who had stopped and turned to face him already.

“You took too long. I didn’t want to start the dishwasher too late. You know I can’t sleep with that damn thing running.”

He hung his head and sighed again. Jerry could feel his blood pressure rising as if he’d just eaten a bag of Lay’s potato chips in one sitting, which wasn’t unheard of. He knew it was bad for him, but how could you eat just one? Or was that Jay’s potato chips? He couldn’t remember.

Jerry walked back to his chair and baseball game. The guy on third had scored but there was nobody on base. Must have been a sac fly or something he thought. He heard his wife again in the kitchen. She had a habit of muttering under her breath just loud enough for Jerry to hear. All he heard was, “Dammit Jerry…” and then metal slam on muffled metal. He must have “forgotten” to take the trash out again.

Jerry took his eyes off the baseball game and eyed the double barrel shotgun hanging above the fireplace.

“Jerry,” he heard close by. “Will you please take the garbage out tonight? The truck comes in the morning and you always forget to take it out before you leave for work and I have to drag it out there myself.”

“I don’t always forget,” he replied, looking up at his wife standing in front of the TV blocking the game.

“Yes, you do,” she replied just as sarcastically as he did. “For the last three weeks I’ve had to drag it out to the curb by myself.”

“Ok, ok. I’ll take it out tonight.”

She turned around without saying thank you or anything and went into her sewing room. He looked back again at the shotgun for a second and then looked back at the baseball game. It was a commercial and he didn’t know how the inning ended. He took the last swig of his fourth and usually final beer of the night. But tonight he’d have another one just for shits. It was Friday and he didn’t have to go to work in the morning.

He got up, and as an after thought, grabbed his empty beer bottle and threw it away before grabbing another one from the fridge.

As he popped the can open, the inning started back up, but whatever the announcer said was partially drowned out by, “Jesus Christ, Jerry! Are you drinking another beer?!”

He picked up the can and took four huge gulps emptying half the can in one go. “Yes dear,” he almost shouted. “It’s the weekend and I don’t have to work in the morning!” He eyed the shotgun once more. It’d be quick and painless. Dirty, but quick. And painless.

He heard nothing more from the other room and resumed watching the baseball game. He had fourteen minutes and thirty two seconds of nothing but baseball. At fourteen minutes thirty three seconds, he heard the door slam. He sighed.

“Jerry, how many times must I ask you to fix the closet door in my sewing room before you actually fix it?”

“Forty two,” he replied.

“Excuse me?”

“Forty two times. You must ask me, nicely, forty two times.”

“Cute. Real cute, Jerry. Just fix it tomorrow. I’m going to bed.”

He sighed. “Yes, dear.” She turned on her heels and walked into the bedroom. The sound of the game on the TV seemed far and distant. He looked at the shotgun over the mantel again and sighed…again. Quick. Painless. Dirty…but quick. And painless.

He got up when the inning was over and the commercials started. Jerry walked into the kitchen and popped the lid of the garbage can, took out the trash bag and tied it up. He took it out to the garage where the bin was and threw it in. There was one other bag in the bin, hardly anything Carol couldn’t handle in the morning. He contemplated opening the garage door, it would be easier to drag the bin out that way rather than having to muscle it over the threshold of the regular door. But that would make much less noise than the garage door and he knew how Carol couldn’t sleep with the dishwasher going so she surely wouldn’t be able to sleep with the garage door going up and down.

After muscling the garbage bin over the threshold, he came back in after grabbing a can of WD-40 and a flat head screw driver. He went into Carol’s sewing room and used the flat head as a lever to pop the folding door back into its track. He sprayed some WD-40 on the squeaky hinges of the metal doors and opened and closed them a few times. Quiet as a mouse.

He put the tools back on his workbench in the garage and came back and sat down in his chair, slightly out of breath, and resumed watching the game only after taking one more glance at the shotgun.

He got up, walked to the shotgun which used to be his grandfather’s, and took it off the mantel. He opened it up and looked into the barrels confirming it was indeed empty and took a half full box of shells out from corner table drawer. The next thing he would do would change his life forever.


Carol woke up in the morning and through crusty eyes saw that Jerry’s side of the bed had not even been slept in. He must have fallen asleep in his chair again. She got up and went to the bathroom calling out his name weakly once before actually getting to the bathroom. No answer.

After she finished her business and had washed the sleep from her eyes, she went into the living room. But he wasn’t in his chair.

She walked into the kitchen and saw the note on the table. She picked it up and began to read it.

“Dear Carol,” it began. “I couldn’t take your nagging anymore. I thought about taking granddad’s shotgun and killing myself, but I really didn’t want to do that. I don’t want to die. Then I thought about killing you, but figured you didn’t want to die either. Besides, after thirty years of marriage I didn’t have the heart to do it anyway.” He always did have a sense of humor she thought. “So then I thought I’d move away. So that’s what I’m doing. I took out our savings of $80,000 from the ATM. I didn’t think it’d do it, but it just kept spitting out the money. You wouldn’t believe it anyway. You never believed me. Anyway, I have our savings. But there’s the emergency fund for you. It has almost $49,000 in it. You’ll have to sell the house too, but if you move into an old folks community, you can call someone and they’ll take the trash out and fix your closet doors if you need them too. Which, by the way, I’ve done for you before I left. After two years, you can have me declared legally dead. You’ll get my pension from the plant and my half million dollar life insurance policy. Don’t worry about me, I’ve already called Fernando from the plant. His brother helps get people out of Mexico and into the U.S. and he agreed to help me get into Mexico without a passport. Said it was the first time he’d ever heard of that. Anyway, I took the only thing I wanted which was my granddad’s gun. $80,000 should last me a good long time in Mexico or Costa Rica or wherever I end up going. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about this personally, but I thought this was quick and painless. Dirty for you having to deal with all the paperwork and filing missing persons and having the courts declare me legally dead. Definitely dirty for you, but it’s quick and painless for me. So, I guess this is it. Thanks for the memories. It’s been good and bad. But I just felt the need to do something impulsive and while this is still probably fraud and illegal, it seemed better than killing one of us. Have a good rest of your life. Love, Jerry.”

Carol sat down in the chair stunned. She couldn’t believe what she had just read and so read it again. After a moment she rummaged through her purse and found her little address book. She called Fernando and had a brief conversation. Yes, he had talked to Jerry at three in the morning. Yes he was on his way to Mexico. No he didn’t know where.

After she hung up she sat in the chair and gazed out of the small kitchen window. “You son of a bitch,” she said out loud. “Jesus Christ, Jerry. You son of a bitch.” She started laughing and took the lighter sitting in front of her and lit the note on fire and put it in the ash tray.

She burst out laughing until tears streamed out of her eyes. She hadn’t laughed so hard in years. When she calmed down after a few minutes she stood up and walked into the bedroom to change into her clothes and she began to think of how she was going to spend a half million dollars of life insurance money.


The Surprise of a Lifetime – Daily Prompt: The Twilight Zone

Daily Prompt: Twilight Zone
by Krista on February 28, 2014
Ever have an experience that felt surreal, as though you’d been suddenly transported into the twilight zone, where time seemed to warp, perhaps slowing down or speeding up? Tell us all about it. If you haven’t had an experience in real life that you can draw from, write a fictional account of a surreal experience.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us SURREAL.


The sun had just peeked his face above the horizon sending brilliant red and orange light into Jack’s face as he got in his car to go to work. He sat in the car and before he started it up he just paused for a second. He had a strange nagging feeling, like when you forget if you left the stove on or left the front door unlocked. Only it wasn’t a nagging feeling that he forgot something. It was just a strange nagging feeling. He let it go and left to begin his forty-five minute commute to work in the chaos of morning rush hour that daily tested his patience.

As he merged into unusually light traffic on the interstate, he turned the radio on to his morning ritual of NPR’s Morning Edition. The news stories always seemed to calm his nerves during the chaos of traffic. It gave him something to concentrate on other than the morons cutting in and out of lanes or going ten miles per hour under the speed limit in the passing lanes.

The familiar voice of Renee Montagne filled the car reporting on some story. Jack couldn’t concentrate on the news because of that strange feeling. The radio filled with static as if he was moving out of the listening area but he was in the middle of the city. This had never happened. And the traffic was unusually light. He deftly changed lanes passing cars here and there. The radio kept going in and out and after a minute or so he just turned the radio off all together. He figured he didn’t need it with traffic being so light.

After a few minutes of silence he thought he heard a voice again and figured he might have just turned the volume down instead of off. But he looked down at the radio console and it was off. Then he heard the voice, clear as day, like someone was sitting in the passenger seat. The voice said, “It’s not the radio, Jack.”

Hearing this voice, and the split second it took for him to register it and know that nobody was in the car with him nearly made him run off the highway. He jerked the wheel back into the traffic lane from halfway on the shoulder kicking up tiny rocks and plenty of dust and dirt in his wake.

“What the hell was that,” he asked out loud.  Half expecting an answer, he braced himself so he wouldn’t repeat his poor driving of a few seconds ago, but the voice did not return. He turned the radio back on and This time a story about some kids in California dealing with the schools and the American flag. He still couldn’t concentrate very much but at least it wasn’t static like before. “It’s going to be a long day,” he thought to himself.

“Yes it is. But it will be worth it,” the Voice said.

“Who are you?!” Jack didn’t lose control of the car this time, but he was startled nonetheless. The voice didn’t answer.

He finally pulled into the parking lot and walked to his office, sat down and just stared. His coworkers all asked him if he was alright and he said he was. He just had a bad night’s sleep that’s all. He was afraid that people would laugh at him or think he was seriously going crazy if he told them what had really made him this way.

The day progressed normally until about eleven o’clock when he was wrapping up a report and getting ready to go to lunch. He thought he heard someone call his name, he turned around but nobody was at his cubicle. He stood up and peered over the wall, Sherry wasn’t in her cubicle.

“Tim,” he called across the isle at his friend. “Did anyone call my name out just now?”

“Nope,” Tim said without looking up from his computer. “I think you’re going crazy.”

Jack stood there agape. His face flushed and his palms started sweating. Tim looked up now and laughed at the sight in front of him.

“Dude, I’m kidding. You’re not going crazy. I just didn’t hear anyone.”

But it wasn’t what Tim said that caused Jack to freeze in his tracks. Jack saw a reddish orange glow around Tim’s body. It seemed to dance just like the lines on a digital equalizer going up and down in short quick movements, only around Tim there were thousands of thin lines that all seemed to blend together.

“That’s his aura Jack. The red signifies strength and energy in this case. The orange signifies determination. He’s in a state of concentration and is feeling very confident about his abilities and in himself.”

The voice seemed to come from his right, so Jack turned and saw a man who looked to be in his thirties, young, with chiseled features. He was dressed in white robes and had a white glow about him. “Dear God,” Jack thought. “I’m dying!”

“You’re not dying, Jack. You’re connecting to the Universal consciousness. We’ve picked you, Jack. We have agreed to give you powers beyond your abilities. What you would call psychic powers.”

Seeming to fade in louder and louder he heard his name being called out. Jack turned back to Tim who was standing up now with a concerned look on his face.

“Dude, what the hell? Are you feeling alright? You just zoned out on me. What’s going on?”

“I don’t know.” He looked at Tim and saw his “aura” alternating between pink and blue. The voice came from in his head this time, “The blue signifies Tim’s loyalty to you and his sensitivity to his perceived condition of you. The pink signifies his friendship for you.”

Jack thought to himself, “Can you hear me? Can I talk to you through my mind?”

“Yes, of course,” the Voice answered.

“Can I pause time or something so I can think for a minute without being interrupted by anything?”

“Just think it, and believe it and it will happen.”

Just like that, time seemed to stand still to Jack. He stepped back from Tim and walked around him looking at Tim frozen in time in mid sentence telling him he ought to take the rest of the day off and go home and relax.

He walked around the office, not hearing anything but his breathing. As he walked, it felt like he was in a dream, moving in slow motion. His limbs wouldn’t work as fast as he wanted them too, as if he was trying to move like normal while being underwater.

He walked around the corner and saw his other friend Rikki Ann sitting at her desk frozen as she was typing an email. He tentatively reached out to poke her cheek expecting her to jump at him and scare the crap out of him. But she didn’t. And it felt just like he thought it would. It just felt like normal. Then he picked up a lock of her long dirty blonde hair and held it out and then let go. He didn’t know if it would stay where he left it or if it would fall back into place. It stayed in place when he let it go. But when he looked closer it was sort of floating there as he could barely see it moving back and forth as if it was floating on the calm and gentle waters of space and time.

“Amazing!” He sat on her desk staring at the floating hair trying to process everything he was experiencing for the first time. He felt like he was in a dream. Like he could wake up at any time and find himself in his bed with the alarm screaming to wake him up.

The man appeared and Jack looked at him smiling. The man smiled back. “I am called Phillip. I am your guide and I will be with you until you die. When you die, you will become part of the Universal consciousness and may someday be called upon to be someone’s guide. This is nothing to be afraid of, Jack. This is a wonderful gift you have been given. We chose you because of your kind, giving heart. We determined you wouldn’t use this power for bad, but for good. For helping people and yourself. Your reward for this will be happiness beyond your wild imagination. You need only to think of something and it will manifest itself to you in time. More will be explained as you progress in your abilities.”

Without knowing how, Jack seemed to understand and accept everything Phillip just said without question. And instantly he felt happiness like he had never felt before. Every fiber of his being seemed to jump for joy.

It was the most surreal five minutes of his life to that point. He was sure he would have more as the days and months and years passed by.

Without help from Phillip, he walked back to where he left Tim and found him still frozen in time. He resumed his place and looked at the concern frozen on his face and he smiled. He was going to seriously enjoy his life now.

Jack formed a thought of time resuming, he believed it, and it happened; time continued and thus began his lifelong quest of bringing happiness to others.


Mesha’s Gypsy

Mesha woke up on a haystack in a barn. It wouldn’t have been strange for this to happen twenty-five years ago because she grew up out in the country and on a farm with horses. But it was strange right now for the simple fact that she had gone to sleep the night before in her bed.

She sat up and looked around, her blue eyes seeing rather well in the dark, and picked at strands of hay that had gotten caught in her long blonde hair. She was in the loft of a barn, that much was obvious. But she didn’t know where she was, or how she had gotten there.

The first of the birds were chirping as they found their worms for breakfast and quickly gobbled them up. She saw she was near a ladder that went down to the ground and figured she’d better have a look around to see just what was going on.

She got to the bottom and turned around and saw the very beginnings of the day. The pale blue light from behind her gave just enough light to see the huge wheat field. She walked out of the barn and knew she wasn’t near her home. The next thought she had was, “I think I AM in Kansas, Toto.” The thought made her chuckle as the impact of her not being where she was supposed to be hadn’t fully registered yet.

A dog barked in the distance. She turned to her left and walked around the barn. She faced the rising sun and saw a meadow full of pink and white hollyhocks and tall green grass. About two hundred yards away there were covered wagons arranged in a circle. It took her a moment to register this because she had never seen them before. These weren’t the covered wagons she had seen in the old John Wayne movies she watched with her dad when she was a little girl. These looked like traditional gypsy wagons!

She turned around to walk back the way she came and for the first time realized the barn she had come out of wasn’t a typical barn either. It seemed to her to be some sort of white-washed stucco, or maybe it was dried and hardened mud. And the roof was made of thatch!

Also for the first time, she began to feel a little panic rise up in her chest because she had no clue where she was or how she had gotten there. A cool breeze passed over her and she shivered, not knowing if it was from the breeze or out of her growing panic. With the breeze came the smells of a fire and she assumed it was coming from the circle of gypsy wagons.

Seeing no signs of activity in the house nearby, she reluctantly started toward the circle of wagons to see if she could find out where she was. A dog ran up to her and trotted next to her with is tail wagging and it reminded her of her own dog. In fact, the similarities were uncanny, from the light khaki color between his eyes and the random pattern on his back. The only real difference was this dog was a little bit thinner, more than likely from a lack of food and more running around. And of course it couldn’t be hers because she wasn’t anywhere near her home.

As Mesha got closer to the band of wagons, the dog darted away and disappeared under a wagon and behind the big wheels. She admired the intricate wood work on the side of the wagon and ran her fingers across it. Looking up there were two small windows with dark red curtains covering the people on the inside from the morning chill. She could only imagine who was in there or what their story was. She was brought out of her thoughts by someone clearing her throat.

She turned around and saw a young girl of about twelve or thirteen years old standing behind her. As soon as their eyes met, Mesha knew there was a connection between the two of them, but what it was she didn’t know.

“Hello,” Mesha said quietly. “Who are you? Where am I?”

The little girl smiled and said something in what sounded like Russian. She looked as if she expected an answer, but Mesha had no idea what else to say, let alone what was asked of her.

“What,” she asked. “I don’t understand you. Where am I? Where is this?” She opened her arms and looked around motioning to the fields and the house that was behind the barn. The girl only smiled and made a motion that she could only mean as “Follow me.”

Mesha walked around the wagon and soon was in the middle of a little community of gypsies. They had tables and chairs sitting close to their wagons and small camp fires were blazing to help keep the chill off the mens’ bones as they sat down and smoked their pipes talking about the day’s work ahead. A few women came out of the wagons and put bowls of something, Mesha couldn’t tell what, in front of the men and they heartily ate. Some children were playing with the dog that was the first to greet her as she approached the circle.

She was led to the largest of the wagons and was told to sit at the table. Without understanding the words, she understood the meaning and sat down, watching the daily routine of the little wandering community.

A moment later, she heard shuffling in the wagon behind her and the door opened. She heard tentative footsteps on the stairs and a few moments later stood before her the matriarch of the community. She didn’t know how she knew, only that it was true. The girl helped the old lady over to the table and into the chair. As soon as she sat, the girl went back into the wagon.

Mesha sat there, not knowing if she was supposed to say something first or wait for the old lady. So she sat quietly and watched the community wake up and start the day. The girl came out of the wagon carrying a tray with two cups and a teapot. She poured one cup and gave it to the old woman and poured another one for Mesha. The girl smiled at Mesha and left.

There was something so familiar about that girl. There was a bond there, but she still couldn’t place it. It seemed to be right on the edge of her thoughts but she just couldn’t grasp it. The silence was broken by the old woman.

“You do not know where you are, no?” The old woman spoke in a thick Russian accent.

“No, I don’t,” Mesha answered. She took a sip of the hot tea and was pleasantly surprised. It was very good and wasn’t like any other tea she had ever had. It had some sort of berry flavor with a hint of woodiness. As if they pulled the branch off the berry bush and steeped it in the water.

“Then you do not know when you are either.” The old lady smiled as if she was going to enjoy telling her. She took a sip of her tea and motioned for Mesha to drink up.

Obeying the old woman without a thought, she took another sip and in disbelief stared at it as she put the cup down. The flavor was stronger than before, yet there was nothing in it to make it brew. She noticed little swirls of something in the otherwise clear liquid and thoughts of poison or drugs seeped into her mind. She felt fine and then something else dawned on her.

“You know English?”

“I know a great many things, child,” the old woman said cryptically. “I know your name and where you are from. I know you will not believe me when I tell you where and when you are. They never believe.” She chuckled and continued to drink, eyeing Mesha closely.

“So where am? When am I?”

“You are in Ukraine. Part of the Soviet Empire. The Great War has just ended. You’re grandmother, Malenka, has not yet gone to the United States for she is just a girl of twelve or thirteen years. She will escape the Holodomor which will happen in ten years time from now. That will be her reason for leaving her family and moving to your country where your mother will be born and your brother and your sister.”

Mesha looked at the old woman in disbelief. The old woman had used the same “thought” as she did when she first saw the girl outside the circle and estimated her age. She hadn’t even realized she’d done that until just now. And how did she know about her siblings? “You mean, I’m in the past? In Russia?! You’re right, I don’t believe it.” Without thinking she took another sip of tea and the wonderful flavor seemed to explode in her mouth. She looked at the nearly empty cup in amazement. Her mind raced with questions she didn’t know how to ask or in what order to ask them.

“You have many questions, I know. They will not be answered as you will soon be returning to your home. You will have to figure out the meaning of this on your own. You are not dreaming, child. Trust me.”

“But how? I don’t even know you? How can I be back in time halfway across the world? It’s impossible! Who are you?”

“You know me even though you have never met me. My blood runs in your veins. You have a bond with the girl don’t you? You’ve felt it haven’t you?”

Mesha couldn’t believe her ears. How did the old woman know this? “Yes. There is something about her that is so familiar.”

“Malenka,” the old woman cried out. The girl came out of the wagon and stood next to the old woman. She spoke something in Russian to her and the girl went inside and a short time later came out with a tiny package wrapped in brown paper. She handed it to Mesha and smiled that very familiar smile. The girl turned to the old woman and said something to her. They had a short conversation and the girl went back inside the wagon.

Mesha looked at the package and noticed that it had her name written on it in the neat and orderly penmanship of a child in school. It had her name on it!

“You’ve been expecting me?”

The old woman smiled. Her smile too seemed familiar. “Yes, my granddaughter and I have been expecting you. She made this gift for you. She said you are very pretty and that you have her smile.”

Mesha’s mouth was open but words were not coming out. “You mean,” she stammered. “That’s my grandmother? That’s my grandma Molly?” She swallowed hard, her mouth dry. She picked up the cup of tea, but before she could drink, the old woman interjected.

“Stop! You must not finish that yet, for when you do, you will be returned to your time. Open your gift first.”

With trembling fingers she untied the string and carefully unwrapped the paper. Inside she found a long piece of cloth with a red triangle at each end with a little design in it. The point of the triangle was attached to the long, tan piece of cloth with small, rectangular indentations of a different texture all along the length until the point of the other triangle was reached. She felt its coarse material and felt the bumps of the rectangles. She looked up at the old woman.

“It is called a lestovka. A prayer cloth. It was supposed to be made of leather, but we didn’t have any so we improvised.” She smiled. “Unfortunately, we are almost out of time, my child. When the tea gets too cold and the flavor dies down, so does the effect and you will be stuck here with us.”


“There is no time. Drink up. You will figure out the meaning of this some day. I am sorry I cannot give you any more. Goodbye my great-great granddaughter.”

Mesha didn’t want to go, she had so many questions, but something made her drink the last of the tea and just as the flavor peaked in her mouth she bolted upright.

Something was ringing. She looked around and found herself in her bed, in her room, in her home. The phone on her nightstand was ringing. She looked over and saw it was her mother.

She shook the cobwebs from her head and thought she had just woken up from a dream. A very realistic dream. She picked up the phone and answered it.


“Hi Mesha. How was your visit?” Mesha heard the chuckle on the other end of the phone not believing what she was hearing. Was this a joke? Was she dreaming? Was it a coincidence? What did she do yesterday that would make her mother ask how her trip was. The questions came faster than the answers and vaguely she heard her mother saying something to her again.

“What? What did you say, mom?”

“I said look in your other hand.”

Mesha looked down and under her hand, laying on the bed beside her, was the lestovka and the piece of paper with her grandmother’s handwriting on it.

Brady’s Silence (explicit)

The Challenge
There are multiple ways of interacting with silence: purposefully leaving something unsaid, breaking the silence around a topic, or, quite simply, getting tongue-tied. For this week’s challenge, we want you to take the theme of silence and explore it in your own way.

The summer of 1956 was a most memorable summer for young Brady Holt.  Brady was a precocious ten year old from Peru, Indiana and he was out of his element in the balmy, sticky, humid climate of southern Alabama.

Rarely had Brady been outside of his tiny hometown except a few times for a wedding or a funeral or something he didn’t really care about in Indianapolis, just an hour or so to the south.  Brady wanted to go places to see them, not to attend stuffy formal events and be cooped up all day long inside.  He had the typical mind of a ten year old boy that wanted adventure in the exotic places of the world like the Wild West tracking down Geronimo or perhaps the deserts of Egypt making his way to see the Great Pyramids.

It was with this spirit that he could hardly contain himself when his father announced one day that the family was going to Pensacola, Florida to visit his relatives.  It was going to be the adventure of a lifetime for Brady.  He’d meet cousins his own age for the first time.  He’d be near the ocean!  Well, as near to the ocean as he’d ever been anyway, and the Gulf of Mexico seemed just as big as the ocean when you were in its presence.

So the tiny family of three, Brady and his father and mother, packed the car and headed south along US route 31which ran straight through the middle of Peru through ninety percent of the trip to Pensacola.  It was early evening on the second day of the journey when the family stopped for gasoline and dinner in the small town of McKenzie, Alabama about a half hour north of the Florida state line.

They stopped at Floyd’s Station and Brady’s dad told the man to fill it up, check the oil and top off the radiator.  He said they’d be back in a little bit after grabbing some supper at the diner across the street.

Brady reluctantly held his mother’s hand as they crossed the street, protesting the whole time that he wasn’t a child and he could cross the street himself.  In the end his mother won and only let go of his hand once they walked into the diner.

It didn’t seem like anything new to Brady, but he was excited nonetheless.  Elvis’ new hit Heartbreak Hotel played incessantly on the jukebox and the smell of hamburgers and fries wasn’t new to him either.  But it still held a mystique to young Brady because it was in a far off place called Alabama.  He knew more of this state because of baseball than what he learned in school.  The extent of his knowledge was that Willie Mays and Hank Aaron were from Alabama and the capitol was Montgomery.  And he had heard plenty about Montgomery and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lately with the bus boycotts going on.

Brady had heard about it from the evening news he sometimes listened to on the radio with his dad and he sometimes heard a passing comment his dad made to his mother while reading the newspaper.  He often wondered why the “negro’s” would boycott the busses and why they were treated differently than regular people.  He sometimes tried to ask his dad about it, but he rarely gave him a satisfactory answer stating that “they” were just different and these laws were there to protect them because white southerners weren’t ready for integration yet.  Brady never got an answer as to why the white people weren’t ready for integration or how black people were different than white people.  To him, the only difference was the color of their skin.  But then again, in a small rural area of central Indiana, Brady had actually never seen a black person in the flesh.

Brady went to the counter where there was an extra seat.  He sat down claiming his stake at the “bar” and begged his dad to let him sit there.  He agreed and he and Brady’s mom sat down at a nearby booth.

Brady noticed the waitress take a plate from the window that the cooks would put orders on a ring the bell and thought she was the prettiest woman he’d ever seen.  Her chestnut hair fell in loose curls over her shoulders and she had the biggest brown eyes he’d ever seen.  She walked over to him and smiled.

“Hi there, sweet pea,” she said in the most beautiful southern belle accent this ten year old boy had ever heard.  “What’ll it be?”

“Um, hi,” Brady stammered.  “Can I have a plain cheeseburger and some French fries,” he asked.  He heard his father clear his throat somewhere behind him and Brady added, “Please?”

The perky high school senior smiled, “You sure can, honey.  You want anything to drink like a Coke or a Dr. Pepper?”

“I’ll have a Coke,” he said.  “Please,” he added before his father could clear his throat again.

Brady looked around again, soaking in this new experience so he could tell all his friends about it when he got home.  How he had visited Alabama and went to the same diner that Willie Mays might have gone to!  Even sat in the same chair!

Brady hadn’t realized that the Jim Crow laws would have prevented Willie Mays from ever sitting right where he was sitting.  Even now that he was in the big leagues, Brady would never have known that Willie Mays probably wouldn’t even be able to get a Coke from a place like this.  But he would soon learn.

The waitress brought his cheeseburger and French fries over and a chocolate milkshake over and set them down in front of Brady.  “I made this milkshake by accident, honey, and didn’t want it to go to waste.  Do you like chocolate milkshakes?”

“Yes, ma’am!  Gee, thank you!”  Brady took the cheeseburger in his hands and took an unhealthy fist size bite out it and chewed with the biggest grin on his face.  He was really here.  Far away from home and everything he was used to.  In the morning he’d be at the ocean and going on adventures with his cousins.  He swallowed and sucked for a second on the straw in his thick chocolate milkshake that was melting fast in the evening heat of the deep south.

He heard the slam of a screen door in the back but paid it no mind as a Patti Page record started to play on the jukebox.  He took another bite of his cheeseburger and turned his head to a commotion he barely perceived in his young impressionable mind.  What he saw made his eyes widen and he swallowed his half chewed cheeseburger hard.

By the back door of the diner was the door to the kitchen and there stood a wiry black man who was just about as old as the pretty young waitress that had just served Brady.  He looked frightened as two big and burly farm boys flanked him.  Brady could hear one of them talking to the black man but he couldn’t hear what he was saying.  He strained, but try as he might, he couldn’t hear what was being said.  The black man kept looking down at the ground but wouldn’t say a word.

Suddenly, the farm boy closest to the door took hold of the kid and shoved him up against the wall.  Then he threw him into the main dining room and the kid fell right at Brady’s feet.  Brady looked at the terrified kid’s eyes and didn’t know what to do.  He had never seen a real fight before and had never seen a real black person before.  This was all new, but it seemed so very wrong to young Brady.  What had he done?  He was just standing there as far as Brady knew.  Why had they pushed him against the wall and then shoved him down?

Brady held his gaze and started to do the thing he felt like he should.  He got off his stool and held his hand out to help the kid up, but a strong hand lifted him up and put him back on the stool.  He had no idea what had just happened, he kept looking at the terror in the black kid’s eyes.

“What’re you lookin’ at nigger,” one of the farm boys yelled.  “You lookin’ at Cindy?  That’s my girl, nigger!  You lookin’ at my girl?”

“No sir,” the kid stammered and shuffled backwards on his hands as the farm boys approached him.  He stumbled and fell on his rear, his feet trying to gain traction to keep pushing himself backwards.  He was nervous as all eyes were on him and he didn’t know how to get out of this mess he had somehow found himself in.  “Please, sir.  I jus wanted a Coke.  I’m jus passin’ through, sir.  I don’t want no trouble.”

“’I don’t want no trouble suh’,” one farm boy mocked.  “Well you got trouble, boy.  This here diner don’t serve no niggers.  Never has, never will.”

“I am sorry,” the kid managed and finally was able to stand up.  He turned around and was ready to high tail it out the front door when one of the farm boys pushed him from behind and the kid went crashing through the screen door, getting tangled in the metal mesh of the screen and tumbling again to the hard concrete sidewalk.

Brady turned back to the counter and noticed the smug look on the pretty waitresses face and all of a sudden, she didn’t look so pretty to him anymore.  He took another bite of his cheeseburger and went to the booth where his parents were and sat down next to his mother.

“Dad,” he asked.  “What did that kid do wrong?”

His dad looked at him and said, “Not now, son.  We’ll talk about it later.”  He leaned over and looked past the booth and out towards the front door and didn’t see the kid or the two farm boys.  “You done with your dinner?  We have another hour or so until we get to Uncle Kevin’s house and I don’t want to get in too late.”

“Yeah,” Brady answered.  “I guess I’m finished.”

He got up and his mother followed and Brady’s father went to the counter and handed the pretty waitress that wasn’t so pretty anymore a bill and some change for the meal.

When they left the doorless diner, they had walked only a few feet when they heard more commotion across the street nearby the gas station they were headed to.  Brady ran across the deserted street without looking and stood on the curb not able to take his eyes away from the horror of what he was watching.

There stood the black kid, being held up by one of the farm boys.  The other, the one whose girl was the waitress, was punching the kid in the gut and giving hooks that Brady thought Joe Lewis would throw, to the kid’s jaws.  With one hook, Brady saw a spray of red and something white come flying out of his mouth.

Brady wanted to yell at them to stop.  That the kid said he only wanted a Coke and that was it.  He didn’t want any trouble so stop beating him up.  But nothing would come out of his mouth.  He took a step forward and tried again.  He opened his mouth but nothing would come out.

His father had stepped up behind him and tried to steer him towards the car, but he shrugged him off.  He knew this was wrong and yet how could he stop this?  What could he do as a mere ten year old kid?  Tears started streaming down his cheeks and he looked up at his dad, pleading with him to stop this.  He couldn’t do anything, but his dad could.  He was an adult.  Hadn’t he always said to go to an adult if something bad happened or he had trouble with an older boy at school?  His dad looked at him sympathetically and said, “Come on.”

He once more tried to steer him toward the car and once more Brady shrugged him off.  More defiantly this time since his dad seemed to not want to help.  He turned and saw the kid crumpled on the ground and the farm boy that was holding him got his two cents in by kicking him full in the gut before the two of them walked away.

Brady took another few steps forward, as if he wanted to help the kid, but didn’t know what to do or how to help.  He could hear the kid coughing and groaning and could see the blood on his clothes and around his mouth in the cold light of the street lamp.

Brady wiped tears from his eyes as the kid staggered to stand up.  He stood there for a brief second and looked up at Brady and for the second time their eyes met.  He gave Brady such a haunting look that it would never leave his mind for the rest of his life.  It was a look that said, “You’ve just been shown only a little bit of what my people have had to go through and are going through now.  Don’t just stand there next time.  Don’t just stand there in silence and watch.  I’m no different than you except the color of my skin.”

The kid staggered and stumbled back to some house or some car from where he came.  Only when he disappeared around the corner did Brady turn around and slowly walk to the car.  In that moment in young Brady’s life, he resolved to never again be silent.



The Valentine

Vince couldn’t concentrate all day long. He wanted to go home and see his girlfriend Olivia and surprise her for Valentine’s Day. Their relationship had been rocky for the last several months, but it wasn’t anything he thought they couldn’t work through.

The whole week he was thinking about what he could do to show her just how much he loved her. He wanted to do something special on Valentine’s Day for her and try to patch things up. He knew he had work to do in order for their relationship to heal and to progress, and he was up to the task. He loved this woman and wanted to be with her forever.

Vince thought of all kinds of things. Simple things and elaborate things. Things that would be expensive and things that were cheap. He tossed around a romantic weekend getaway and he tossed around dinner and a movie. What he settled on was simple, elegant, and romantic. And he knew she would love it. The minute he decided what he was going to do it was half past nine and he put his plan into motion. He still couldn’t concentrate on work.


Olivia sat at her desk in her cubicle and sighed. Three in the afternoon and still no flowers from Vince. He really didn’t love her. He knew she was a sucker for holiday’s and she had dropped him hints about Valentine’s Day coming up. She resolved in her mind that if she didn’t get flowers or chocolates or even just a note or phone call on Valentine’s Day, she would leave him. She didn’t want to, she loved him, but she couldn’t go on like this for the rest of her life. Trying to change certain things to make him happy while he never did anything to try to make her happy. What kind of relationship was that? So when her afternoon break came at three o’clock and there were no flowers, chocolates, notes or phone calls from him, she went from depressed to angry. She thought of all the things she had given up because of him. The big promotion at work that meant they’d have to move, the weekends with her girlfriends, and as much as she hated to admit it, she’d do it again if she just knew how he felt.

Olivia had tried, for the three years they had been serious, to get him to open up more to her. She wanted him to let go of the fear and stigma of men talking about their feelings. She knew it would help him. But he never really “got” it. He would come home upset about something and be so cold to her and she’d gently prod to get him to let it out and instead of talking, he’d explode. Those nights usually ended up in an argument and Olivia crying herself to sleep on the sofa wanting to get out of the unhappy relationship but not wanting to leave this man she loved.

She had worked up the courage all day long for the inevitable, had made arrangements with her best friend to stay with her at her apartment until she could find a place of her own and figured she would go home, tell him she was leaving him, pack a few essentials and leave. She would worry about getting the rest of her stuff later. It was 3:30 now. Time to leave work. She would have forty-five more minutes on the commute home to figure out what she would say to him.


Vince put the finishing touches on the home-made card and set it on the dining room table in front of the bouquet of lilies he had bought when he left work. There was a dozen roses on her nightstand in the bedroom too. He went into the kitchen to check on the dinner he was making to make sure everything was done and hot and ready for when she got home. He heard the garage door open and was so nervous. He was so excited to see her.

Olivia walked in and looked so sad. His heart skipped a beat as he saw her look so sad. What was wrong? What happened? Her face turned from sadness to confusion as she looked at the dining room table already set for dinner and she smelled the Italian food cooking with wafts of garlic and oregano finding their way to her from the kitchen. She saw the flowers and the card on the table and her own heart skipped a beat as she looked at Vince.

“Hey, baby,” he said quietly. “Look, I know I’ve been a jerk these past couple months and I know I haven’t exactly been the best guy in the world before that either. But I love you. I can’t describe it so I let other people say how much I love you. It’s in the card.” He walked to the table and picked up the card and handed it to her. She looked at it as he handed it to her and then took it. Before she looked at it, she looked up at him. She looked in his eyes and flushed. She looked down, paused for a few seconds and then opened the card.

Dear Liv,
I love you. But that’s not enough to explain how I feel. It’s much more. You know I’m not good with showing feelings, or talking about things, but from today on, I will try. I love you more than anything.

She put the card down on the table and sniffled as a tear rolled down her cheek. She looked up and he wasn’t there. He appeared in the corner of her eye from the living room and music filled the air from their surround sound stereo system. It was a breezy bossa nova type song and then she heard Tony Bennet start to sing. Vince opened his arms in the traditional dancing pose and she walked over to him and put her hand on his shoulder and took his other hand in hers and they started dancing.

“Hold me close and hold me fast,” Tony crooned. “This magic spell you cast, this is la vie en rose. When you kiss me heaven sighs, and though I close my eyes, I see la vie en rose.”

Olivia closed her teary eyes and rested her head on his chest. He brought her hand in towards them both and the arm around her waist brought her in closer and held her tightly.

“When you press me to your heart, I’m in a world apart, a world where roses bloom, and when you speak, angels sing from above, every day words, seem to turn into love songs. Give your heart and soul to me, and life will always be la vie en rose.”