Tag Archives: Storytelling

Came The Wind

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leavesThe golden, brittle leaf brushed over the top of her shoe, resting  in mid air for a moment. Another gust blew, picking up the leaf and spiraling it away, under a sky filled with darkened clouds. Alice shivered in her coat, the hem overlapping her knee high skirt. She bunched the top together, clutching it closed, having already pulled up the collar. She stared down at the marble and stone work that lay around her, the past staring back up at her. More leaves blew past her and the others, milling around for a moment, then taking off to skitter across the grounds.

The side comments seemed endless to Alice. A few suffered in silence, getting hugged, heads leaning against shoulders for support, comfort. Alice drifted from one group to another, paying attention to the tone of the voices more than the actual words. The elder set, the few who could barely walk, stayed by the cars. They huddled near the aunt who always needed to be the center of attention, her husky voice talking about anything but what lay before them. A few tears, clutched tissues, and a dreary day filled them all.

The service done, the discussions turned to who was following whom, where they were going, who had to leave. Hugs and kisses were passed around, and the car doors opened, and then closed. One by one, the cars pulled away.

Alice looked on. As the last car left, a vortex of leaves swirled together in the spot left vacant, a mini tornado of golds and oranges and browns. Alice turned to watch the receding tail lights pass through the gates.

The leaves dropped to the ground.

The Brother Spectrum

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Night, a dark room,  twin beds on opposite walls.

“William. William. William…when I die, will I still look out for you? William? I know I’ll be in heaven. How far is heaven, William? How far is heaven? William? William?  When I die, will I still look out for you?”

William lay awake on his back in his bed, a baseball cap clenched between his teeth. His open eyes stared into the darkness, his thoughts playing colors and sound, zig-zagging around.

Johnny beat his chest, bit his palm, said “William, when I die, will I still look out for you? William?”

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The above is a Drabble, a 100 word story. It was a prompt for the first day of the StoryADay challenge.

I have not been writing much at all, in fact it has been a chore at times, simply because of personal things I’ve been going through. I will attempt to do this: a story a day for the month of May. We’ll see how it all goes.

Any readers of mine know that I will write in any style that suits me. I hope to stretch a bit and get things moving again. Time will tell.

Chromatic Labyrinth

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Piano-Wallpaper-music-24173621-1280-800Carlo, Prince and Count, imagined his wife in bed with another man. Not just any man, but his friend, the Duke of Andria.  Carlo noticed the Duke’s eyes always found the figure of Donna Maria more than pleasing. He noticed this look too often from the Duke, and he felt that the looks were too often returned . While Donna Maria protested her innocence, Carlo knew, in his heart, that she had already betrayed him…and would continue, this most vile of betrayals.

Unless…

These thoughts assailed Carlo as he pushed himself to compose. Music was his life-he knew that-but it, too, betrayed him.  His madrigals were politely received in court but ultimately…they were misunderstood by most and dismissed, mostly behind his back, but oh, how gossip reaches even the most closed off of ears!

He locked himself in his music room, the only living space he would occupy until he had finished this composition. Receiving food intermittently from his servant,  barely touching any of it, Carlo would not lie down to sleep, only dozing at his piano.  Nothing came out of his demand on the keys, tinkering, chords splitting into discordance instead of magnificence. Four days, and his mind wandered away from the task he set for himself.

Exhausted and light headed, it was on the latter part of the fourth day (although that was later told to him, as time had lost all meaning to him inside his cell) that the visions came. Donna Maria, nude, appeared to him. He stared across the room where she stood, and all his feelings for her rose to a grand level: lust, hatred, love, agony, pain, ecstasy…and rage. Word-paintings came to him. She sprawled, ever  so close, just beyond his reach. He used the keys of his instrument as knives, slashing down, sliding, pounding down until his fingers nails cracked and broke, leaving droplets of red on the ivory.

During all this, Donna Maria cavorted around the piano. She laughed in his face, touching herself, gliding across the room, behind him, leaping over or crawling under his piano. She would reach out to him, then pull away, her long black hair fanning out over the keyboard where he would try to grab a hold, only to have it whisked away. She twirled, and he played, and lost himself in his fury.

Every path he took drew him in deeper. He would sidle into a melody that would change, taking him in a new direction: most of them ending in a frustrating blockage, where he would only be able to retrace what he did, and go another way. And another. And another. Lost, in a place where meter and structure had no more sense, no meaning, and left him more desperate with each stroke of the keys.

Carlo was later told he unbarred the lock on his room and flung himself into the main foyer. Glassy eyed, he stalked past his ever waiting servant. Down the hall he  went, banging open the door to the armory, coming out with a saber in one hand and a gun in the other. The servant tried to talk to his master but was gutted, as witnessed by one of the maids who had come out to the main hall at the noise being made.

Cowering behind one of the marble columns, the maid heard her master rush up the stairs, a door bang open, and then another series of bangs as the gun went off, and screams from her mistress. She recounted that she heard sharp swishing noises, too many to count, her mistress’s cries loud and piercing, then fading, and then nothing.

Someone had summoned the constables, and the Sargent Major, known to all as a stable and strong man, could not report what he witnessed without feeling ill for quite awhile. Yes, he had seen battlefields, but the frenzy of the Count was like unto a butcher’s den. The Countess Donna Maria, and the Duke of Andria…

Carlo, Prince and Count, would stand trial for what he had done, but, in the end, he was freed. Money and ranking took care of that. He exiled himself from the city, trying to leave blood feuds and vendettas behind him. He withdrew more into his music, more into himself, and while he was lost in a complex labyrinth of creative madness, he composed.

And Donna Maria…she twirled around him for a very, very long time.

“What Will The Tree Be?” a picture book (repost)

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“What will this grow up to be?”
Sarah asked with a smile.
“Will it grow big and strong?
Will it take a long while?”
 
 
 
 
 
If I hold it in my hand, and show it the sun
Will it grow a lot of feet and run, run, run?
If the soil is soft and the roots are fed with dew
Will it grow up and play a harmonica or kazoo?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
If I put it in a pot, will it grow this way and that?
Would it grow up to be happy, small and trim, not fat?
If was sitting there, alone on a table
Would it pine for something more, if it was able?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I know, I know…it will have lots of friends
They will grow up all together
In this garden that I’ll tend.
 
They sing all day, and rest all night
I’ll keep them close by
They’ll never leave my sight.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
But…
If it was stolen by a big old UFO,
Would it grow up weird and have an orange glow?
If it was moving and mooing and calling out my name,
Would my tree ever really REALLY be the same?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Or…
If it was hit all over by some outer space like rays
Would it grow all big and furry, and refuse to play?
If it had one gazillion branches, and twice as many leaves
Would grandma have to knit a sweater with all those sleeves?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
If it grows up really big and really strong
Would it live a good life, nothing with it wrong?
If it stood way up high above the ground
Would you be able to sit atop it and see all around?
 
 
 
 
 
 
I love my little tree
And I know it loves me
I wonder when it grows up
What exactly will it be.
 
 
I love my little tree.
 
 
 
 

Papers of Pain

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Amidst the debris of clutter, among the years of things piled upon, chaotic shoving in of spaces, of things of little to no importance due to the distance of time, papers of pain were uncovered. A history unfolded in short passages, messages, of people passed on, most forgotten or unknown to the one riffling through the quagmire of emotions that the refuse brings.

Losing one’s parents is hard enough; uncovering aspects of them that you only thought you knew becomes the harder part to take in.

“Please forgive me…” began way too many letters, or messages in holiday/birthday cards, found among the leavings. Reading what he did was painful enough, so Bill only skimmed along, tossing, tossing, tossing…keeping a short pile that he knew he would confront at another time. Not now, not so soon, and maybe…maybe never.  Private thoughts that now are laid bare, never for his eyes in the first place. He thought: Do I have the right/need to know any of this?

Short words of “Love,…,” saying so little, punctuated by messages that left messages of hope and caring, of hurt, pain, and an end to suffering. Is that how they lived for so long, Bill thought, even as he knew the answer. He hoped to escape the yelling, the push and pull games, the neediness from such a young age, and he ran out as fast as he could when he was younger. He knew, though, he could not just abandon, for their world crashed down upon them, and with that crashing he became one of the broken pieces, held together with glue and tape, shattered enough, strong enough. At times.

And then…then, buried snatches of the other. There were the messages of love he now found. They were concealed among the many non-meaning platitudes. They were not long, snippets only, words of caring, of hope, of praise, of cleansing. Bill read these, everyone of them, in full, sometimes again and again. He weighed these few against the pile of pain, and while his own heart was heavy, his chest tight, his stomach roiling…he weighed the messages of love against those of suffering.

Shaking his head to clear the conflict inside, Bill put them all together in one bag, sealing it for now. They could lay still and silent, or battle amongst themselves in the bag.  He held his parents in his hands, their words, their wounds,  and their care and concern for each other. It was one weight, one mass, and he felt it was equal, balanced enough, as he carried it away with him.

The Flavor of your Reply

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Her kiss left traces of apples, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and sugars, both dark brown and white. That is what Avrum remembered most of their first kiss. He relished that nights’ memories, but it was the flavor that was transferred to his lips, his breath, that still penetrated deepest, remained clearest, that still brought a smile to him, both inside and out.

It was a short walk outside of her parent’s house, where they could still be viewed for propriety but still…private enough. He had been working up the courage all day to ask her to marry him, and it almost faltered when her father went off on one of his tirades, but looking in Sarah’s eyes reestablished his resolve.

The ground was crunchy with fallen golden and brown leaves. Sarah grasped the top of her coat, tugging on the scarf wound around her neck, when a northern wind whipped across the yard. He took her hand and rubbed it back and forth. She smiled and thanked him, glancing back quickly at the house to see if either of her parents were watching them. No one at the window, Sarah clasped his hands in hers tightly.

Avrum was on his knee proposing before he knew it. Tears welled up in Sarah’s eyes, a large smile and a nod, and she said “yes” without having to think. They kissed, then, in the yard, with the window drapes pulled back and eyes watching. All the mixtures of pleasure and happiness, of the meal they had just finished still on their lips, the future they would share…it was all there in that moment. Her reply was all he had hoped for, and he would relish it for as long as he lived.

Hand in hand, they walked back to her parents house, the front door already opening to welcome them in.

 

Yesterday, Memories (non-fiction)

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In Memory
1926-2012

My mother passed away on October 14th, 2012. One major reason I haven’t been writing, or that my meager attempts have been sombre. My father died on October 15th, 1999, which has still sent shivers through me, that they parted this earth one calendar day apart (although thirteen years passed).

It’s Halloween, a holiday she did enjoy, seeing all the children in their costumes, playing like she was afraid of the “scary” ones, cooing over the very cute tots and babies coming out for their first Trick or Treating, and giving out bags of candy (each bag had to be the same, piece by piece, number by number, so she felt no child felt cheated).  It’s been one of my favorite holidays as well…not so much this year.

She was “known” in our family as the “family historian,” being able to recall all the family stories, connections, etc. This she did orally, rarely writing anything down. Which is a shame: those stories now only reside in the memories of those who listened, and if we don’t write them down, they’ll be gone.

I did find her beginning attempts to write some of the history down, colored through her lens. I’m posting it here where I normally write my own fiction. Not sure when/if I’ll really come back to this blog with any real attention. I hope you enjoy her early memories.

Yesterday, Memories…by

Edith A. Nager: 1926-2012

(1)          My mother and father met and married in Odessa, Russia. Papa had served in the Russian Army for five years and then was discharged. I have a picture of him in his uniform. He was quite dashing. He came to America first and then sent for my mother. This was before the First World War

(2)          The day I was born my father declared it a holiday. He kept my three oldest brothers home from school. The other two were too young for school. There were five boys and now me. The truant officer came to the house and asked why they were home, and Papa said: “After five boys, a girl was born!” That fine gentleman stayed and helped Papa celebrate.

                Mama said, and I quote her: “This is it! If it’s another boy, no more!” Papa ran through the building knocking on doors to tell them the good news. He finally had a daughter.

 

(3)          Saturdays, my mother did not cook. Papa said it was Mama’s time off. He went to the kosher deli and bought Pastrami, Corned Beef, Specials (knockwursts), Salami, Knobelwurst (very garlicky salami), and rye bread. The mustard came in paper cones. Oh my, how delicious it all was. Mama made the potato salad.

                Saturday evening after sundown was the time to turn on the radio and listen to station WEVD. It was Jewish music and singing. It was OK, but Sunday morning was better. Same station, but it was all about “Troubles of People” and “The Bintel Brief,” as well as more music and singing.

                The “Troubles of People” were some of the saddest tales you could hear. Husbands came to the Promised Land first and became Americanized. They met other women, forgetting about the wives and children back home. Sometimes it was a three hankie story.

 

(4)          Sunday brunch was out of this world. Bagels, bialys, pumpernickel bread, sweet butter, cream cheese, Muenster & farmer cheese; Belly lox, a large smoked white fish, and pickled herring in cream sauce with onions. Of course, a large salad: lettuce, tomato, cucumber, radishes and green pepper. We ate and talked. Everyone showed up for this feast. My brothers: Lou, Phil, Ezra, Sam, Bernie and me…and of course, Mama and Papa.

 

(5)          My brother Bernie gave me a lot of grief. He was the youngest of the boys. He used to tell me I smelled like a flower: it was called a stink weed. One day, he came home from school and went to the medicine cabinet. He took out a box of Feenamint. He got a box of Chicklet’s Gum and replaced it with the laxative. Some of the boys in school were giving him a hard time, so he got even. They never bothered him again. We gave him a new name: we called him “Dr. Fleckel.”

 

(6)          Walking with a group of girls and boys along the Gran Concourse to Fordham Road you could window shop. The stores stayed open till 9:00 p.m. We went to Rushmyers on University Avenue for Ice Cream in the summer and hot chocolate in the winter. We’d also go to 161st Street to Addie Valin’s and the Roxey Deli.

                Trolley cars in the summer, the sides were heavy metal mesh so you would feel cool. It cost five cents each way and some of us would take a ride in the evening. We went all the way to Throgs Neck and back. This was before A.C.

Imprint of a Bad Dream

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Three a.m., and Rachel woke suddenly, feeling as if an arm had withdrawn, a body, light,  pressed against her. Her heart pounding, Rachel turned away from the wall and searched the darkness. She should be alone, had been alone, for a long time now. No arms draped around her, no heat generating body snuggled in such a familiar way, no touch, no caress, nothing. Laying on her back, the clock light the only illumination in the room, the only sounds the passing of a car, then others…Rachel was aware of being the sole occupant in her bed.

Why, then, did she still feel like she’s still being held?

Tossing and turning, the night crawls by. Her pulse rate takes its time in returning to a relative state of normal, chest finally relaxing where she no longer feels like her rib cage would expand to bursting. Sleep comes, but is interrupted often by a quick wake up, startled, flipping over, wrapping her sheet around her, kicking off the blanket, putting the blanket back on. Three and a half hours pass this way.

Rachel slams the alarm button, and the clattering noise stops and leaves her hearing her own ragged, panting breath. The left eye hurts, the right one not much better. She rubs them with the palms of her hands, and they tear when she blinks them open again. Massaging her temples, Rachel puts her feet in her slippers and gets up off the bed. It takes a second to balance herself.

Her morning rituals go without a hitch. Rachel is on auto-pilot, showering, dressing and completing all her needs in the correct order, as she’s done for so many years, and while this stabilizes her, at the back of her mind she can not get over the feeling of the arm, the hand, the fingers splayed upon her back. “A dream” she says to herself. “A nightmare.” Shrugging it off, Rachel leaves to, as she sees it, truly begin her day.

It is one disaster after another. Stress piled on top of anxiety on top of belittlement, with a dash of confusion, worry and angst blended in to the mix. The car that cuts her off; the boss reaming her out; the phone call not returned; the splatter of grease from her lunch on her suit; the call that interrupts; her mother; the co-worker; the bill that she thought she paid; the smile not returned; the feeling that she still has not shaken off the nightmare grope, what it meant, why it still is touching her.

She feels as if she carries around an imprint of the appendage from the night, that it is affecting her day by rippling out to those around her. Rachel sees a grasping, a clutching that cuts off anything from running smoothly, the same old same old to the unexpected. It tightens and pulls, runs strangle holds over thought processes, thumps speeds bumps into her path. She was physically exhausted from lack of sleep already; Rachel felt, by end of her work day, completely beaten up, drained of energy, worn out, worthless.

Her briefcase, shoes, stained suit, shirt, stockings, bra and panties are scattered from the front door of her apartment to the bathroom. That was not like the normal Rachel, the put together Rachel, the almost OCD Rachel, the orderly, neat and clean obsessed Rachel. That Rachel had a phantom arm around her throat, constricting her every movement.

The shower head pumps out steaming hot water, the mirror fogs up in seconds. Soon her white skin is pink, turning to red, and it gets to the point where she almost screams that she feels the limb dissolve, melting away in the heat, running down the drain with the too hot water. Rachel presses herself against the tiles, cold on her back, fiery blast assaulting her front. Closing her eyes, she stands there until the pain finally reaches her, and she stumbles to turn off the left faucet, letting icy water race down her torso, genitalia  and legs.

Eleven p.m., and Rachel has finally made her way to her bed. Before this it was  mindless TV watching on the couch, huddled in her pj’s and terry cloth robe, nursing a beer along the way while she downed a few shots of Tequila. Her normal to bed time went by an hour ago, and she knew she could not put it off any longer. Two days of little to no sleep would do her no good, nor would two days in a row of being batted around by others, and herself.

Lying on her back, eyes wide open, Rachel checked the darkness, looking for any sign of movement. Nothing. She closed her eyes, re-shifted, opened her eyes, tried to focus, closed them, shifted again, and again, pulled the top sheet and cover up to her neck, swaddled her feet, curved into a semi fetal position, and finally…finally….finally…

Three a.m., and it was more careful this time, not wanting to wake her, to distress her, to cause her any pain. It floated its caress around her,  a diaphanous embrace of the night.

…I Blamed It On The Dog… (#100WordChallenge)

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I set fire to the house, watching it burn a safe distance away. Flames lept up into the night, licking up the side paneling that I no longer had to worry about painting. The gutters melted, the tarred shingles smoked; it all came tumbling down, bit by bit, ashes to ashes. The chimney was the last thing to fall, having never been set right in the first place.

Neighbors surrounded me, many of them holding onto their spouse or children. They looked at me, wondering where Margaret was. She screamed then. They knew.

Later, police handcuffed me. Asked me “Why?”

I blamed it on the dog.

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100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups – Week #48

The Rules from Julia’s Place:

This is a weekly challenge for those who are over 16 and enjoy challenging themselves with writing. Each week you are given a prompt. It may be a few connected words, a selection of individual words or a picture.

You have 100 words (or the number that have been set for that week) plus the prompt to write a creative piece. If you have a blog, post it on your blog then link the URL of the post (not the blog) to the link that is at the bottom of that week’s challenge.  You can right click the badge above and copy the image URL into your post.

This weeks challenge:

… I blamed it on the dog…

Your pieces should be 106 words long (the prompt plus 100). Please make sure you visit to comment on others and do leave a link back here for others to find us.

Indifference To A Walk In The Park

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The writer wished he  was a painter. In his mind, he painted, as he strolled through the park that surrounded the lake. “An artist that crafted something permeable,” he thought.  “People would enjoy the aesthetics of my creation. Or not. Who cares?” He knew his words held power, but they came fleeting, more often then not. He wanted a blank canvas on an easel, paints, brush…all the accoutrements. What he had was his hands in his pockets as he walked around the shallow body of water.

He thought in tones of realism, but wished he was  a writer who tended to the abstract, maybe even pointillist, impressionist or surrealistic styling. He wished to dig at the what emits through the nature of things, taking away the shell and leaving the essence.  He wanted words that would fly, forgoing concrete for emotive deconstruction. The writer who wanted to be a painter wanted intrigue, disgust, passion…not the indifference of being one of so, so many.

His thoughts led him along the path, noticing moments: the couples on the benches that were shaded, not in direct sun; the gangs of geese, on land or in the water, their droppings littering almost any step he could make; the twin girls learning how to bike ride, both in pink helmets and pants, one free wheeling, the other still attached to dad, who yells out “Be strong!” to her as he’s ready to let go; the bicyclists who pass him by; the joggers who run, stop, start, all around him, in various work out clothes, both loose and tight; the woman with the  lame leg trying to keep up with her younger walking partner; the broken pathway, cracked earth, the cloudless blue sky that’s letting the sun light to beat down on the surroundings, on him, sweating. He wants to paint these moments, these scenes.

It happens in a lost thought. Coming up the path, straight towards him, wide open eyes staring at him, a smile plastered across the dirt streaked face. A collision course, chicken played out in daylight. A foot splashes into one of the many puddles that dot the walkway, sending a light spray towards the writer, towards geese sitting to the side, silent. The writer stares back, keeping to his path, and a reflective smile creases his face. His hands, which are at his side, reach up towards his belt, elbows bent, ready.

The mother shouts “Liam!” and  takes the three year old’s hand, moving him out of the writer’s way, just as the writer side stepped the child. She and the father apologize for their child, but the writer waves it off, laughing, and says “It was just a showdown. Liam would have won, ” and he continues walking. Looking back, Liam is riding high in his mother’s arms, looking over her shoulder at the retreating writer. His little hand waves. The writer waves back, then continues on.

From there on, the writer observes the dragons that come to roost on the banks of the lake, the mates and their dragonettes in clusters, resting. The Swan King settles down in the middle of the water, standing on one foot, and calls out to all his turquoise and brown brethren, who swim in a circle around the king, genuflecting into the water, and coming up with catch for their supper. A high speed chase flashes down the path, two wheeled and two legged, a race on a moebius strip of gravel and dirt. The writer notices things out of the corner of his eye, but he pays them no heed, for when he looks directly at them, they are altered forever.

He sits on a throne of blue painted planks held up by ornate grey cement, etched with decrees of love and foul curses. Breathing in the moments, it all plays out for him in hundreds of different ways. He is an artist, and he is a painter, and he sings and conducts and composes and his mind dances to all the tunes he can imagine, and all the colors are at his disposal.

Levitating off the throne, he wings his way home.