Jump At The Son

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JUMP AT THE SON

 

He was usually by my side. In his early days, we walked hand in hand. As our walks increased in step by step increments, he’d hold his arms way up high. Of course, I picked him up, carrying and mini snuggles. Other times he rode on my shoulders, clutching my hair. We became a Two-Headed Monster. We shared a gnarly growl; it always announced the monster’s arrival.

Always.

Yet, years pass as they dispassionately are prone to. From my side, hand-holding, carry snuggles, becoming a Monster were abandoned. We went on chases instead; more me chasing him. Then he’d chase after me, laughing so hard his head popped off his neck when I turned the table back to chasing him. When I was his prey, he always caught me. Once in a while, I would catch him.

We morphed into One less and less. We lost the “carry me,” and hand-holding didn’t exist.  By this point in our lives, we also lost the Monster.

He never said “Goodbye” to either of us.

Things change.

Things changed.

We ran the gauntlet most parents know. As he slalomed around me, his looking up to me would change to “I hate you!” to apologies and understandings, and back to volatile disagreements. In those cases, the slamming of his bedroom door was the coda that generally ended in “Arrrrggghhh!” from both sides of the door. There began the push away/pull me back times. From a protected, cared for son, a new monster, singular, appeared. He was striving to grow up, to be self-reliant. Independent.

Moments blipped passed us. We talked. We gave each other the Silent Treatment. Doing something fun together could quickly flip into parent shunning. I was waiting.

Waiting for things to even out, for our varying personalities to allow each other to breathe again when we were together. It happened with no rush to make it real. We had been on a strained thin rope, correcting our balances, expecting the other to fall.

I know there were times he did not like me. It might have bordered on hatred, but that remains in his secrets stash. It’s hard to say, but there were times I did not like him. Love, yes. I’ve always loved him.

Things change.

Things changed.

Marriage happenings took over our lives. He committed himself to his bride, his mate, his best friend; my commitment dissolved around me, shredding into strips and then pieces. What was left was a tattered life. It all turned to ashes.

I’m proud of the man he has built for himself. He holds his strengths, his humor, his intelligence, and his weaknesses.

We are no longer a combined Two-Headed Monster, physically. There are those moments that sneak up on us, where our inner gnarly growling meshes. It may happen across the many miles that separate up. Face to face, the growl surfaces.

In those times I can shout out: “Beware. Beware! The Two-Headed Monster has arrived.”

It’s still alive.

In some ways, things stay the same.

Encased

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ENCASED

This is what happens when you are not paying attention. When you are entirely in your head, which happens to be up your ass.

There is no real reason or excuse to so thoroughly isolate yourself from others. The walls of your cage have flexibility. There are windows and doors. There is resistance to using them. You sit at your computer; another window. Your cell phone is always at hand throughout all of your waking hours. It sleeps next to you while your body sleeps.

Yet, all of those options readily disappear when

Your

Head                                                                                                  Shuts

Off.

It takes time for awareness beyond the self to arrive.

You’ve left the bed, the computer, your room, as you travel through your cage. Streams of light particles glimmer around the sides of the drawn shades of the windows you walk by. The light is diffused, filtered so it does not flood the rooms.

But, not all of it. Not enough to keep the outside completely outside. The sunlight finds its way in. It hits the closed aluminum slats at a moving angle as it rises and passes overhead. The light pushes you into the bottled-up kitchen.

The tea kettle you had set begins to whistle. It is building up in shrillness until the steam screams. Turning off the burner, you pour the boiled water into the mug you’ve already set up with sweetener and a bag of tea. It seeps as you leave the kitchen, cup in hand.

Your hands are warm. The initial burning sensation you felt has lessened to a more comfortable feel. Sipping the tea, your feet lead you into the living room. The eyes flit to the windows, an aura of brightness around its edges. Walking closer, you notice the dust particles that dance in the sunlight. One hand drifts forward, fingers playing with the motes as you find the cord, pull, and raise the blinds.

Intense reflected light assaults the senses. The eyes adjust.

Ice.

Ice is everywhere.

Across the road, the trees are encased in ice, from the very top to the outermost ends of its branches. The trunks shine to the frosted ground. Icicles of various lengths and widths hang from the limbs. Nothing drips, yet.

Movement to the left draws your attention. A tree squirrel leaped from a high branch onto a power line that still connects the buildings and houses. It, too, is bound in ice and icicles. As it skates along the wire, the first icicles plummet.  The squirrel scampers away out of sight. The ice remains.

You had only thought of taking a look outside. The ice has held you there. The panorama before you draws your attention, from trees to squirrel to frozen lawns to cars cloaked in their icy covers. The ice has enveloped all; it has created a tableau of a winter day that is waiting for the activation cue.

It fascinates. Its glitter suffuses you. It satisfies in its purity.

Finishing the now cold tea, you leave the mug in the sink. Washing it is for later.

You dress. The winter boots laced up snugly. You grab your parka, hat, and gloves. Before you unlock the front door, you go back for one last item. A long multicolored wool scarf gets wrapped around your neck.

 

This is what happens when you pay attention.

When you realize you’ve encased yourself in nothing tangible. When your head takes a peek out of your ass.

Keys in hand, the door to your cell is unlocked. You journey into the world.

The ice is already thawing.

Isabella’s

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Isabella’s

The crowd reached out into the hallway, overflow from Isabella’s apartment. Her metallic blue door was wide open, but the mass of flesh in front of it acted as a barrier.  She hadn’t told me that a party was going on. This was Isabella.

Parties happened.

Greeted by those who knew me, I inched my way through the dancing, drinking, shrieking mob. Drugs of different potencies passed around me. I turned down all of the offers.

A hand on my butt squeezed it and then slapped the vacant cheek; that forced me to plow through a bit faster. I wasn’t in the mood for playing grab-ass. This was a tight groper’s paradise, no matter the orientation. I was here for Isabella.

The closest door of the foyer was open, bursting with a mish-mash of outerwear. It took some time but I breached the congestion into the kitchen. Grabbing a cold beer, I popped the top and made my way past the island and folding table against the wall. Jostling and hugging stalled my way to the living room. Finally, at the entranceway, I caught my first sight of Isabella for the evening.

She was dancing and shaking about on top of her couch. She was topless, but her long curly red hair gyrated to the beats throbbing throughout the apartment; they covered her breasts until a sweep of her head floated her hair around her. With so many people in between us, dancing, twirling, jumping, entwining each other, I couldn’t tell if Isabella had wholly stripped down. It was too early for that, but…Isabella.

As I made my way to the couch, I caught glimpses of her black mini-skirt and patterned knee-high stockings. Smiling, there was a moment where I wasn’t sure which part exuded Isabella’s sexiness and sensuality more: top or bottom. That thought was quickly tossed aside. Fully clothed or not, Isabella was.

She caught me watching her. A feral grin broke across her face. I finished my beer, turning to toss it towards the kitchen. Someone would pick it up. Or not. Clean up happened when it did.

I began to turn back to Isabella but found myself tackled to the floor. Others went down around me, a domino effect, leaving the partiers tangled and laughing. A body was on top of me, palms resting on my face.

“Hey, you,” Isabella said, brushing her lips against mine. My mouth was deeply engaged with lip nips and kissing. She began to tongue wrestle with me.

Isabella won, as always. Our lips parted.

“Hey, you!” I booped her nose. Isabella pushed my hands down to my sides. She pinned my arms with her thighs and knees, sitting up, on top of me. Around us, the floored partiers unjumbled themselves, got up, and returned their bodies to the music. If anyone noticed us still splat down, I was equally unaware.

Isabella locked eyes on me. Her features softened as she dragged her tongue across her lips. The desire for another kiss drew my chest up. Isabella’s palms were on my chest, forcing me back down.

“Nuh, uh,” was whispered. Her eyes closed as her face went from neutral to somewhere else. A slow rocking turned notch by notch, climbing up as Isabella undulated, dancing in place as she held me still.

I lost count, and awareness, of the many songs that morphed around us. Sweat from her forehead dripped down her nose, springing free, to land on my face. A splatter in my eyes stung. I could have turned my head physically. That was not going to happen.

Isabella’s lips had been tight, breathing flaring her nostrils in and out. Her mouth grew taut and then parted open. A smile returned to her face as she opened her eyes, her body shaking. The pressure pinning my arms lessened. Isabella moved them as her body stretched out, lying prone on top of me. Her hair splayed over my face and chest, her face nestled in the space between my neck and shoulder.

She fell into a steady breathing pattern. The rise and fall of her chest against mine was even. I knew she was asleep, even as she cuddled entirely into me.

My arms and hands were asleep — pins and needles pain that needed unkinking. I reached around, brushing some of her hair off of my face. I wrapped my arms around Isabella before the sensations entirely died away. Turning my head, I kissed her cheek, closing my eyes as I hugged her that much tighter.

The party continued around us.

This was Isabella.

Parties happened.

NaNoWriMo Reflections: 2019

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Refractive Reflections

NaNoWriMo 2019

The organization that runs NaNoWriMo sets a goal for those undertaking the challenge:

50,000 Words.

Write Every Day of November.

It is the first draft of a new idea for your novel. Their website is a place to check-in: daily word counts adding to your total; words per day you need; your speed of typing (how many hours you put in divided by # of words); and lots of other info and support.

I did set out to meet and hopefully surpass their goal.

Missed it by that much.

I wound up 8K shy of the mark. Pleased as anything by going beyond 40K, but still.

November 2019 started off great; halfway point and life, stupid life, got in the way at times. Obstacles, Thanksgiving, Second Thanksgiving, sadly no Elevenses, work, and communicating with others far and wide.

Short by 8K.

I AM continuing the writing, as this is a novel idea I’ve had for a novel. Never committed an actual word until November 1st.

It was an excellent exercise that hammered down some fine points into me:

  1. Write every single day.
  2. Do Not Edit as you go along!
  3. Proofreading, editing, and adding things in that you just thought of: all get in the way of 50K
  4. It is very, very good to have a buddy group to share with and be supported by.
  5. Do not sit six hours in a row to type words. Your back will appreciate it.
  6. Did I mention Write Every Day?
  7. The importance of constructive critique from others is super important.
  8. Don’t judge nor compare your work. I knew that. Just amplified.
  9. Doing extensive research while writing this way wastes time & will blow your mind.
  10. Finding great writers on writing quotes. My favorite, for now, is from Hemmingway: “The first draft of anything is shit.”

A BIG THANK YOU to Lori Soderlind, Director of the MFA in Creative Writing at Manhattanville College.  She created the NaNoWriMo Foxhole Buddy Group for us wayward writers.  We plan to meet up again.

Big thanks to my fellow Foxholers: Lexi, Jenn, Jim, Terri, Lynn, and Lauren. It was a pleasure working “alongside” of you and getting to read your posts.

Lastly, I will attempt this again next year. Whole big new idea.

Same Bat Month. Same Bat Goal.

 

Yes, I Am

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NaNo_2019_-_Poster_Design_1024x1024 To order this beautiful poster print, use this link: NaNoWriMo Poster

Yes, I am taking part in this year’s NaNoWriMo event. It is kicking my buttocks and taking names.

For those who don’t know:

NaNoWriMo is a month-long writing challenge to get out the Great Novel you swear is in you.

  • Start a brand new Novel on November first;
  • write EVERY day during that same month;
  • Match, or surpass, the daily word goal they have set, just a teeny tiny bit under 1,700 words a day;
  • Ultimate Goal: 50,000 words that will hopefully lead to a brand spanking new novel.
    • Yes, 50K does not a novel make. Start it, write more, boom! Novel.

As of 11/10/2019, I have scribed 16,684 words of my “novel” idea, one that has been percolating since 2010. Yes, I know, not “brand new” 100%, but I’ve discarded so many ideas over the years of how to approach this. New start, new path. New. Don’t mention all the first chapter first drafts that I wrote, and deleted.

Don’t. Mention. Them.

I joined a Buddy Group. I signed up on the main site. Posted my daily achievements on the site and on FB. Procrastinated a bit (why do you think I’m writing this post?). And thought and thought, researched and thought, finally actually sitting in front of my WIP and adding more and more as the days pass.

Check it all out if you like. I am not discussing exactly what I am writing, but, sad to say, it is not The Abysmal Dollhouse. That is a major editing re-write that I’m taking a few steps back from. It’s a bigger job than I initially thought: to take the individual pieces and novelize them.

UGH!

If you enjoyed AD, I think you’ll enjoy the new WIP.

I’ll be silent here for the rest of November. For those who celebrate Thanksgiving, go celebrate.

Celebrate anything that warms the cockles of your heart. Fight for your right…to PARTAY!

Don’t drink and drive.

Upended, IRL

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Relativity by M. C. Escher

Upended, IRL

“Mabel, you’re upside down again.”

Daphne sighed, folding her arms tightly across her chest.

She was disappointed that the unusual was becoming the norm.

The sight of Mabel being upside down made it difficult for Daphne to understand: was Mabel aware of the problem?

Daphne tried placing mirrors in strategic locations to provide feedback to Mable.

Mabel thought that Daphne was confused about who was upside down.

The bell from the Ice Cream Truck rang out from down the street.

Mabel wasn’t sure if the sound came from the left or the right side.

It was just enough to remind her that chocolate was her favorite flavor.

Mabel got her coat and went out to the Ice Cream Truck.

When she got there, the Ice Cream man was upside down as well.

Daphne, right behind her, paid for the chocolate ice cream cone, clicked her heels, and joined the others, upside down.

*******************************************************************

Notes:

For the past month, I have been leading an Intro To Creative Writing/Storytelling class. This was set up by an organization that offers hands-on explorations for the senior community in New Rochelle, NY (but is open to anyone in the area). In our final session, I closed the group with a Round Robin writing challenge. I gave them a prompt from #storyseeds cards, created by Laura Packer. I randomly pulled a card from the pack and used that for the opening line: “Mabel, you’re upside down again.”

Everyone wrote that down in their writer’s journal and then added the next sentence. Once everyone lowered their pens, the journals were passed to the right. That person had to continue the story with, again, one sentence. Pens lowered. Pass to your right. This was repeated until the writer’s own journal was in front of them. They had to option to add one more sentence (they all did) to tie the story up the best they could.

The entire group enjoyed this activity. It also gave them a piece of everyone involved to take home with them. That, in itself, created a beautiful close to our group. Community happens when you allow it and help it grow.

The above is from my journal. After the prompt, the first and last lines are mine. The rest is a piece where I can carry all of them along with me. All the stories were different. Most had whimsey and humor; a few took on a more serious tone in places. Different POV’s/ways of thinking coming together.

Keep writing.

CRY

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Don’t CRY

 

Silent, vocal, whimper, roar

Grief, joy, empathy, share

Hushed, “Don’t”, ignore, keep in

When you cry

When you cry

 

Catharsis, release, relieve

Shush, hush, ‘there there”

Attempts to just

                        SHUT

                                 YOU

                                      UP

When you cry

When you cry

 

Feelings, numb

Expressing, bursting

Discomfort, ignoring, nonunderstanding

When you cry

When you

 

CRY

CRY!

LET IT FLOW

FUCK THEM

CRY!!!

Unintended Consequences

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UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

7c293f567878d204f3613fb0926af1b4--illuminated-letters-illuminated-manuscriptnce upon a time there was a household in turmoil. One sister, one brother, and a widow who had lost the will to keep her children proper. Her husband left her with the debt of the home and the banes of her life.

illustrated Every day the siblings fought, cursed, threw fragile items at each other, stole what they could and sold those items. They wound up at the village pub drinking until oblivion took them both.

illustrated But one day the widow unexpectedly left, never to return. By the end of the first week they tore through the makings of their home. What they couldn’t sell, they bartered. They ate, drank, and took care of their baser needs.

illustrated Because of that they soon ran out of money. The sister and brother had to vacate, unable to pay the house debt. With little more than a bag of clothing each, they set off in opposite directions. The sister vowed to never to see her brother again. He felt the same.

illustrated Because of that as they traveled, taking whatever work they could find. Without the sense to save what they could, the sister and brother would find themselves penniless soon after receiving pay. What wasn’t spent on food and alcohol went to gambling. Outside of the comfort and safety of the village they grew up left them adrift. Often robbed, both suffered beatings, and sometimes worse.

illiustrated Until finally, many months later, each sibling took root in a haven. Broken to their cores by this time, they each had the chance to rebuild their lives. Both found themselves welcomed and absorbed into the communities they now called home.

illustrated E coloredver since then each found acceptance, and love, in their ways. They kept their vows: they never saw each other ever again. As to the widow, she moved in with her sister and her family in a completely different direction from her children’s wanderings. She never heard from, or saw, them again. She lived out her life in bliss.

*********************     ****************     *************************

Author’s Notes:

  1. The above was from #FlashFiction Prompt from my friends over at Fiction Can Be Fun. This time, the prompt was just this: A case of the law of unintended consequences. Rules are simple:
  • Word count: 500 – 1,500 (ish)
    Deadline: 2pm GMT on Friday 11th October 2019
  • Post your story on your site and link to it here in the comments below, or drop us a line via the contact us page and we’ll post it for you.

The proprietors of Fiction Can Be Fun, Debs and David, are working on a shared novel that I can’t wait to read (yes, I still would love to be a Beta reader for the two of you). I met them during the AtoZ Blog Challenge in April of 2018, and I’m glad we have remained in contact. Visit their page. Lots of great stories, challenges, and essays to sink your teeth into.

2) The words in italics after the illuminated letters is from an Improv technique I’ve used for years in warmups and in my workshops and school residencies. I recently found out that the style is credited to Kenn Adams, author, educator, teaching artist, and performer. He is the Artistic Director of Synergy Theater based in Islip, New York (but they do travel across the country).

The pattern for Improv, and what I used above, is:

  • Once upon a time
  • Every Day
  • But one day
  • Because of that
  • Because of that
  • Until finally
  • Ever since then

If running this in a warm-up or as a rehearsal exercise, the amount of Because of that would increase due to how many were in attendance.

And…sorry, Debs & David, the word count is only 321.

Points For Style

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POINTS FOR STYLE

The doorbell rang and Esther’s eyes flew open. She had been napping on the couch. There was a groan, followed by an “OW!” as she started to raise her head. The bell rang again. Esther yelled “I’m coming! I’m coming!” in a hoarse, phlegmy way.

Esther made multiple noises, verbally and bodily, as she leveraged her way to a sitting position. They mixed with the occasional muttered curse. An “Oh, shit!” punctuated the calliope of sounds. The library book she had been reading, before she nodded out, fell to the floor. The bookmark went flying free, coming to rest on the other side of the coffee table. Her back creaked more as she retrieved the book.

Grumbling, Esther forced her swollen feet into her pink mules. Getting to her feet was a feat. Her smart-aleck son called this her “Rice Krispee Olympic Maneuver. From Prone to Standing in 6.5 minutes, accompanied by snapping, crackling, and popping, the whole way through.

“Putz,” she muttered, the pain holding back the sometimes smile that comments made. Esther adjusted her faded baby blue housecoat and touched her thinning hair.

Something was hitting the door as she shuffled out of the living room to the main foyer. It was a consistent, rhythmic beat. Already, the vein in her right temple began to throb. Esther cursed some more under her breath, still loud enough for others to hear (though she denied it every time). She thought she was quiet. End of story.

Even though she thought she knew who it was at the door, she still asked: “Who is it?” Esther had to: she could no longer reach the peephole and peer out of it.

“It’s me, Grandma. Becky. I have to go to the bathroom!”

Esther tsked and winced as she began to unbolt the three locks and then unchain the door. The blood rose in her cheeks: she hoped none of the neighbors heard Rebecca. Esther loved her granddaughter, but it was times like this she wanted nothing more than to give her a little zetz.

Taking a few steps back after “The Great Unlocking, another of her son’s quips, Esther grasped the doorknob. She turned it, bit her lip as arthritis in her hand flared, and opened the door. Her mouth dropped open as Rebecca skittered in.

“Hi, Grandma” rushed forward, followed by a cheek kiss and running into the apartment. Esther heard the bathroom door slam shut and the lock click.

The front door was still open and Esther still had her hand on the doorknob. A noise from down the hall startled her. It was Beverly, taking a bag of garbage to the incinerator door. They made eye contact, nodded, fake smiled at each other, and as one opened a door the other one closed hers.

Esther locked the bottom lock. She was back in the living room, sitting on the couch when she realized that she hadn’t bolted the other two locks. Nor did she re-chain the door.

She heard the bathroom sounds then. Flushing. The sink water turned on full blast, then off. The bathroom door unlocked and Rebecca came into the living room. Esther’s eyes roamed up and down the teenager.

Becky saw she was getting The Look. She sat down in the wing-back chair that had always been her favorite seat when visiting. She crumbled into it, threw both of her legs over the right chair arm, and sighed.

“What?”

Esther’s son warned her: “Don’t make a big deal out of this,” he told her over the phone. “This is not the ‘Big Fight!’ It’s a phase,” he emphasized. “She’s not hurting anyone. Do not start,” he demanded. Esther gritted her teeth at this memory.

She stared at her granddaughter, her Rebecca. Her Shayna Maidel. Her pretty girl. She stared, and in her head repeated: “it’s only a phase.”

Rebecca’s hair was dyed ink-black, cut short and spiky. All white face makeup. Exaggerated black mascara and eyeliner. Dark purple lips. A short red plaid skirt, legs showing through torn black stockings. Those horrible black Doc Martins. Her tee-shirt was one of her father’s that he got from a concert: T-Rex, faded black, with the sleeves torn off.

“Darling,” Esther said behind a strained smile. “Is that a dog collar around your neck? With spikes?”

Becky nodded her head.

Esther nodded hers.

They sat looking at each other for a bit.

Finally, Esther sighed.

“Bubala, are you hungry?”

Becky smiled, got out of the chair, and said: “Yes, grandma. Here, let me help you.” She moved to Esther’s side, knowing her grandmother. It took a moment, but together they got her standing.

“Oh shit!” they said in unison, and then went to the kitchen for a nosh.

******************         ****************************           **********************

Author’s Notes:

The above is from another writing group I am a member of. Today’s prompt was the above title: Points For Style. Style can mean many things, and the writers today took the prompt and delivered very different interpretations. Some very thoughtful, some amusing. We wrote for less than an hour and then shared. Hope you enjoy my piece.

I AM RUNNING A FOUR WEEK CREATIVE WRITING PROGRAM

Starting on Friday, October 11th, I will be leading a Creative Writing/Storytelling workshop, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.

Held in New Rochelle, NY (lower Westchester County), the workshop can be reached by car or by the Metro-North Train stop (New Haven line). It is accessible to any of the five bouroughs of NYC, Westchester County, Rockland County, lower Connecticut, and Northern New Jersey.

Primarily created for the newly retired community, the sessions are open to anyone wanting to flex their creative writing muscles.

For full information and to sign up, please click on the following link:

Storytelling 101: An Intro to Creative Writing.

If you know anyone who would benefit, I’d appreciate it if you could pass this on.

Thank you!! Hope to see some of you there.

Grassy Fields

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Grassy Field

There are sixteen words for love. Showing love is limitless. How either is perceived, the depth that it touches or bounces away, can change, depending.
 
Depending on the moment, the time of the day, or the year. Depending on the weather that has moved on or that envelops you in the now. Depending if it was heartfelt or only going through the motions. Depending if it was a complete and utter lie. It all depends.
 
She sits on fallen red and burnt orange leaves, leaning against the trunk of the tree, staring out across the open dale. Before her the grass bends to the right. The same breeze sends tendrils of her long brown hair in the same direction. Strands wrap themselves across her cheeks and nose. It is a soft reminder that she needs a trim, letting things go.
 
The hunter green fisherman’s sweater is large on her. It falls below her waist and over her hands. She is happy she chose this to wear today; cocooning herself inside, the tight cable knit blocking out most of the chill. She pulls the collar up and over her nose, the smell of last night’s first fireplace usage buried deep in the skein.
 
Another gust and her hair is flung over, and into, her eyes. Both hands pop out of her sleeve cover to secure the hair, forming a loose braid. She knows it won’t hold.
 
Maybe I shouldn’t have come here today,” she says to the field. ‘Maybe this wasn’t the best idea I’ve had.” She waits, still against the tree trunk. “No answer, huh?”
 
A short burst of chilled air hits her in the side of the face, sending her head back, bumping into the bark behind her. She laughs, touching the spot that she is sure will produce a small bump. She tilts her head back, her eyes moving away from the green to the blue.
 
The sparsely clouded sky has shifted in density and speed. White masses move past, some forming into larger floating islands. Off in the near distance a few of these are growing dark. The wind is picking up.
 
The tree sheds more leaves. As they drift down and around, she notices a bright red one tumbling down towards her. She watches its approach. It sways and circles, finally placing itself on the upper part of her face, covering her eyes.
 
Picking up the stem, she runs the opposite index finger over the edge of the leaf. A piece flecks off. Brittle. She twirls the stem, the red shape going in and out of focus. Her movements, at first, are soft and slow, an imitation of the leaf’s descent. She increases the force, now sharp and jagged. Finally, encircling the leaf in her hand, she closed it into a fist. Crushed, tiny red flakes get brushed off her hand as she stands.
 
She walks away from the tree to stand at the edge of the grassy field. She reminds herself why she came here, why she came on this particular day.
 
There are sixteen words for love. She thought she had said them all.
 
She thought she had shown love in a myriad of ways.
 
She thought it all depended on how it was received.
 
She walks back to her car, burrowed deep into the cable knit fisherman’s sweater.