Fiction Friday: [The Patience of Spring]

Charles wrapped his crooked, knobby fingers around the top of his cane and lamented over the effort of each joint. Counting the spots on the back of his hand, he wondered where all the time had gone. With an ornery sigh and great effort, he managed to make it from the bed over to the window, dropping into his favorite, overstuffed chair.

“Well, look at you. Already up and at’em, I see.” This particular nurse was much too chipper for his taste. “You’re looking a bit grumpy today. Maybe we’ll go for a walk down in the garden later, huh?”

He grunted in response, hoping to knock a little shine off her cheery disposition. Sometimes a man just wanted to be in a funk. And the way Charles saw it, he’d put in enough years on this earth to do so when he pleased.

“It’s time for your morning pills,” she said with no sign of being even slightly bothered by his attitude.

It only added to the cloud of irritation that bloomed in his chest. It was all made worse when he took note of her uniform: t-shirt and jeans. Her unprofessionalism was infuriating and he just wanted her to leave him be.

He expelled an exaggerated huff then reached for the pills. When he noticed how shaky his hand was, he quickly drew it back. Turning away from nurse what’s-her-name and staring out the window, Charles allowed his embarrassment to morph into anger.

“Just leave them on the table,” he said dismissively. “And get out. I’m a grown man. I know how to take my own damn pills.”

 Stillness settled around the room. Charles could hear the lazy ticking of the grandfather clock down the hall. The longer the nurse stood frozen behind him, the more he realized how unfair he had been. But instead of apologizing, he pressed his lips firmly together and continued to stare out at the late-arriving colors sprouting in the garden. It had been a long, tough winter.

The nurse finally woke from her catatonic state and moved closer to Charles, setting a glass of water and pills on the table next to him. When she placed her hand on his shoulder, he didn’t yell. He was surprised by how comforted he was by the gesture. When she gently planted a kiss on the top of his head, he didn’t flinch. He closed his eyes and drank in the familiarity

“I’ll come back by later to see if you want to go for that walk,” she said, her joyful tone a bit chipped.  

Even with his back to her, he could still feel that she was there, hovering near the door.

“I love you, dad.” He heard her say.

But by the time he turned around, she was already gone.  

Fiction Friday: [Christmas Waffles]

Sunlight streamed through the window and Charlotte grunted, rolled onto her side, and snuggled even deeper into the down comforter. The thought of crawling out of the cocooned goodness didn’t appeal to her. Not even a little bit. But despite her best efforts, her mind had other plans and slowly climbed awake mountain until she remembered what today was.

Her eyes shot open and she was wide awake. Despite friends and family warning not to get her hopes up, Charlotte had no doubt that today was the day. The day when she would go from “girlfriend” to “fiancée”.

The sound of clanging pots and pans drew her attention down the hall and she flung off the comforter and jumped out of bed. She plodded down the hall and found Todd in the kitchen. The counter was covered with cracked egg shells, powdery piles, a package of bacon, and whatever was in the bowl he was attacking with a whisk. Standing out from all of it was a square box draped in beautiful paper that shimmered with glittered snowflakes and was secured with a bow tied so perfectly she knew he hadn’t wrapped it.

Doubt needled its way in when she noticed the size of the box. It was large enough to hold dozens of engagement rings. But knowing that Todd considered himself clever, she shed the disappointment, rebounding with a smile.

“Morning,” she said, trying to tamp down the excitement in her voice.

“Morning, Char.”

He abandoned the bowl and wrapped her up in a hug before spinning her around. His level of excitement was duly noted and she added it to her “Oh my God, I’m getting engaged” list of evidence.

“What are you making?” she managed to ask over the pounding pulse of her heartbeat.

“First,” he said, grabbing the present Charlotte had never quite let leave her sight. “Merry Christmas.”

She took a deep breath, then she took him in wanting to remember every moment. Todd’s eyes sparkled, the perfect accessories to his lopsided smile. With misty eyes and lips turned up fully end to end, Charlotte reached her shaky hands toward her glittery future.

The shock made her smile falter a bit. There was a weight to the box that allowed the doubt to creep in again. Studying Todd’s face didn’t help. His crooked smile and look of anticipation hadn’t changed.

With only one way to find out, she was indelicate as she ripped the paper away from the box. Her smile fell flat, but her eyes remained misty. She paused a moment before glancing up at Todd’s now irritatingly excited face.

“Ta-dah! It’s the waffle iron you wanted,” he said, oblivious to the energy shift darkening the moment. “And you think I never pay attention. Pop it out of the box, I already made the batter.”

Todd cleared the counter and turned to discover Charlotte hadn’t moved. Not only that, but her lips had pulled impossibly thin, arching toward the floor. Her eyes twitched at the corners as they narrowed.

“What’s wrong?”

“What’s wrong?” Her voice projected in a lower register than normal. Even he had to know this couldn’t be good. “We’ve been together for five years. We’ve lived together for three. You can’t give me a waffle maker and then ask me what’s wrong.”

Anger and hurt seeped from every pore and grew stronger with each memory of past Christmas’, birthdays, and Valentine’s Day’s. She would have even happily accepted an Arbor Day proposal. But, no. Apparently it was too much to ask that they be on the same page.

“If you don’t know what’s wrong, then…well, that’s just the root of the problem isn’t it?”

The glare she shot his way was meant to cut through him. But no matter how hurt she was, when his crooked smile faded, her eyebrows softened a bit. Her gaze fell to the floor and she was flooded with the heat of embarrassment as the truest memories of what their relationship was reflected back at her.

How no one could ease her sadness or anger like Todd could. How he answered every time she called. How he asked about her day with actual interest. How every time he looked at her, she had zero doubt that she was loved.

She wasn’t sure when she had become this person, but she regretted allowing it to happen. Especially when she recalled the moment so many months ago when she had fleetingly pointed out the waffle maker in Macy’s. The fact that he remembered was a more accurate measure of the man Todd really was.

Charlotte knew she needed to apologize. But what she didn’t know was that when she looked up, the man she loved would be smiling again. A smile that grew more mischievous every time he squeezed the box in the palm of his batter splattered hand. 

Fiction Friday:[A Beacon in the Snow]

Lila’s knees hit her chest with every step, yet she insisted on walking. Her mittened hand clung tightly to my own as she trudged her way through. Each firmly planted foot earned her a satisfying crunch and the smile that spread across her ruddy face was all I needed to know that to her, the effort was worth it.

A gaggle of squeals and giggles drifted toward us and I could feel the excited anticipation vibrating from Lila’s body the closer we got. When she caught shocks of primary colors flashing between tree trunks, she let go of my hand, and with the intention of running, she fell face first. For a moment she just lay there, unmoving. I grabbed her shoulders and pulled her up, saddened at the thought of her initial excitement dwindling away.

Lila’s face was covered in freshly fallen snow and as I wiped it away, her eyes popped open. A squeal escaped through her smile that rivaled those we had been heading toward. She clapped her hands and the snow dislodged and rained down toward the ground.

Frosty and numb, my cheeks rose as her joy bolstered my own smile. By the time we had reached the other children, they had tamped the snow down enough to give Lila the freedom she had desired. She pulled free from my hand and ran into the fray. One of dozens of kids, Lila’s laughter served as a beacon.

I thought about how I’d cursed the snow as I looked out the window this morning. How I had resented it for ruining my day before it had even begun. But now I couldn’t imagine ever looking out to discover it had snowed and not being reminded of the sweetest sound I had ever heard. 

Fiction Friday: [Thank You]

This Thanksgiving I have so much to be thankful for: an incredible network of supportive family and friends, a roof over my head, Talenti Gelato Sea Salt Caramel in the freezer. But, I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude to those of you reading this right now. Whether you subscribe to the blog and read every post or whether this is your first time here...I want to thank you for checking out my tiny, tiny corner of the world. 


And, since today is actually Fiction Friday, I am going to encourage you to find your own story by providing you with a little photo prompt. Please do what you will with the following picture of how we capped off the Thanksgiving meal in our household:

Nothing says Thanksgiving like a punching ninja surrounded by hearts on top of a blueberry peach pie, right? Feel free to share what you're thankful for in the comments below.

Today and everyday...thank you. Happy creating!

Moxie Monday: Know. Love. Believe.

Kick start your week with a lil' moxie!

Fiction Friday: [Detonation]

It was the first time she’d seen him since he died.

Crossing Broadway and 72nd, Satomi was stopped in her tracks. Confusion numbed her to the throng of commuters knocking her to and fro around the bustling intersection like a pinball. As flashes of jackets and sweaters zigzagged past their unbroken gaze, the guilt washed over her.

She had never even shed a tear.

The angry horns of yellow cabs barely registered through the ticking. She knew it was the time bomb her family and friends spoke of when they thought she was out of ear shot. Her breathing grew shallow in anticipation of its detonation.

Heat, from deep within, rose to the surface in opposition to the crisp fall air. As her skin tingled, she had no doubt the time had come. A moment that should have happened months ago in the loving arms of her family, instead played out amongst the loud ringtones and honking horns of strangers.

Cutting through it all was his smile. It wasn’t until she tasted the salt in her tears that Satomi realized she was smiling, too.

It was the first time she’d seen her father since he died and her smile grew, knowing it wouldn’t be the last.

Fiction Friday: [Puzzle Pieces]

The waiter set the plate down in front of me. They called it cake, but there was no frosting. It looked like a wedge of cheese, but nevertheless, there were oohs and ahhs filling empty spaces around the table.  

Not wanting to repeat the embarrassment of eating my salad with the wrong fork, I waited to see what everyone else would do. I looked over at Danny, the only other one at the table that didn’t quite fit. He had used the wrong fork, too. His hands lay on either side of his plate and he used his thumb to touch the tips of each of his fingers—pinky, index, middle, pointer, pinky, index, middle, pointer—over and over again like they were stuck in a loop. His eyes darted around to each plate, surely awaiting guidance like me. A tinkling sound stopped Danny’s fingers mid-loop, gluing his thumbs to his index fingers.

Mr. Dunleavy stood, placed the fork he’d used to tap his glass back on the table, and waited for the conversations to peter out.

“Well, I just wanted to say that this is a big day for the Dunleavy clan. One we’ve been waiting for, for a long time,” He touched a single finger to his lips and closed his eyes for a moment before clearing his throat and continuing. “Our beautiful daughter and her husband have blessed this family with not one, but two new additions. Boys, come on up here.”

Danny eyed me nervously. I knew he was waiting to follow my lead. I remained in my seat and he did the same.

Obstinate was the word they used describe me at the home and after looking up the definition, I bragged about it to the other kids. One of the case workers had overheard me. She tried to convince me that it wasn’t something I should be proud of and I laughed, I couldn’t help it. Maybe she should’ve looked up the definition before trying to convince me of anything. 

Danny was a different story. A nervous Nelly—the case workers words, not mine—he was small for his size and everyone always referred to him as adorable. Being obstinate was way cooler than being a nervous Nelly, but I was still a little jealous. No one had ever referred to me as adorable.

The Dunleavy’s were rich enough to afford the best of everything. Including kids. So why me? Either of us, really. Did they think that dressing us up in suits and ties would carve our edges and shape us into the pieces they needed us to be in order to complete their puzzle?

Glancing over at the man and woman who insisted that we didn’t have to call them mom and dad until we were ready, I fully expected the masks to be off. I was prepared for looks of burning anger in response to our bad behavior. Anger, along with embarrassment, exasperation and irritation…these were the reactions I had grown accustomed to receiving from adults.

Their encouraging gazes threw me off guard and awoke a yearning that scared me. An overwhelming need to do whatever it took to keep them smiling at me. The vulnerability sent my mind racing as I tried to cling to all that had kept me safe for nearly all of my fourteen years. My fear of rejection, my fear of abandonment, loneliness…my fear.

Shifting my gaze to Mr. “Call Me Grandpa” Dunleavy, it was easy to see where his daughter had gotten her smile. His eyes radiated with empathy and I stood before it had even become a thought.

Danny jumped up and smiled at me, his toothy grin filling his entire little face. They were right, he was adorable.  

Fiction Friday: [I'm Still Here]

I hate the beeping.
I know I shouldn’t
since it’s a
constant reminder
that I’m alive.

But I do.
I do because
it also reminds me
that no one believes
I’m still here.

My mother visits.
She holds my hand,
but I know.
I know she thinks
I’m just a shell.

The lifeless body
of the daughter
she doesn’t know,
doesn’t realize,
is still here.

If she knew,
she wouldn’t
talk about
how close she is
to giving up hope.

She wouldn’t lament
over all the things
she never
had a chance
to tell me.

She would know
I heard her.
Every word. Every time.
Even over
the relentless beeping.