Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sharing the Love

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  Maya Angelou

I am truly blessed to be one of a group of four friends who have known each other for a very long time. One of the four is my sister who is just over a year younger than me, close enough in age so that she thought my friends were automatically hers and just that much younger than me that I found her to be extremely annoying.  Being the slightly older, much more mature sister, I was forever telling her to “go and find your own friends!”  Being the determined, stubborn, younger sister, she finally weaseled her way in to my circle of friends for good and I am glad that she did.  Just don’t tell her I said that.

Another of the group, I have known since Grade Three when I moved to BC from Newfoundland with my gummy smile and my funny accent that she was so quick to point out.  She thought it was quite humorous when I would say things such as, “I loves that” or “I’ll have a root bear”.  My accent quickly faded but our friendship did not.  We soon became fixtures in each others lives and homes.  If I wasn’t at her house, then she was at mine and we had sleepovers all the time, even on school nights.   Our friendship started out with her laughing at me and continues with her laughing at me.  I don’t know if she just, automatically, laughs at everything that I say or if I am just really funny when I am around her.  I like to think it’s the latter.

The last to join our group was actually my sister’s friend first.  They were in Grade Nine when they met and I think the conversation went something like this: 

“Hey, you’re new here, aren’t you?”  

“Yeah, don’t you guys party around here?”

“Sure.  Why don’t you come to my house later?  It’s the one with the red picnic table in the front. Don’t mind the red picnic table.  Oh, yeah and by the way, my sister has an older boyfriend.  Cool, huh?”

At the house with the red picnic table, not only did she find the party that she was looking for but also the beginnings of a lifelong friendship.

It has been about thirty years since the days of the red picnic table and since then we have celebrated eight weddings, rejoiced at the births of nine children and two grandchildren, endured six marital break-ups and grieved the deaths of one father, two brothers and several friends.  

Between us, we have cried many tears, tears of sadness and tears of joy.  We have also consumed countless bottles of red wine and sung numerous renditions of Janice Joplin’s, Me and Bobby Magee including one that ended with a broken coffee table.  Don’t ask.

This past weekend I met up with the girls and, as always, we had a great time.  After lunch, we wandered around the quaint shops at the funky, touristy Fort Langley.  

As we tried on hats, browsed candy shops and sampled Lavender Tea, we laughed and we sang and then we laughed some more.  And then, it happened again.  It is a reoccurring phenomena.  We drew the smiles and comments from the people around us who were irresistibly drawn to the joy and laughter.  Strangers joked and laughed with us in attempt to capture the feeling for themselves and we, obligingly, shared because the happiness was only magnified as we did so.

It only seems right to share this amazing gift that we have been given and if our laughter can brighten the life of a stranger for even just a few seconds, we are more than happy to share the love.

This post is inspired by a prompt at Mama Kat's.

July 16th - Update 

I am linking this to The Lightning and the Lightning Bug's Dare to Share.  This week's theme is Friendship.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Running Late

The car swerved around the corners familiarly.  She was going to be late for work again.  She watched the clock on her dashboard obsessively.  She should have been at this intersection about three minutes ago.  Her foot pressed down on the gas pedal a little harder. 

She saw the movement out of the corner of her eye but it was too late to stop.  Her car hit the fleeting form with a sickening thump.  Her foot now moved instinctively from the gas pedal to the brake and slammed down on it hard.  The car fishtailed until it finally stopped about thirty feet down the road, slightly sideways. 

In the rear view mirror she saw a young woman running towards the crumpled form and that’s when she realized it was a child, a small child.  She opened the car door and stepped out.  She surveyed the scene unraveling before her in slow motion.  

A car stops.  A man jumps out while talking on his cell phone, running towards the scene.  Another man is racing down the driveway from the same direction as the young woman had come.  He appears to be yelling but she can’t hear what he is saying.  Is he yelling at her and what is that in his hand?  The young woman is bent over the tiny form; her primal cries of anguish ripping through her body.  The driver feels sick and her morning coffee steams as it hits the pavement.  She crumples to the ground in a heap.

The paramedic calls to dispatch, “We have a male victim, approximately three years old.  Witnesses say he was hit by a vehicle that was moving at a considerable speed.  The second victim is a woman approximately forty years old and apparently the driver of the vehicle that hit the boy.  It appears she has been shot?!”

Friday, January 21, 2011

Do you Mind?

This post was inspired by this week's prompt at The Red Dress Club:

Hemingway was famous for his super sparse writing. He used almost only dialogue in many of his works. Write a piece in which you use ONLY dialogue.

I can’t believe you actually did it.

Why not?

Well, because I really didn’t think you would.

Apparently, you don’t think very much of me.  Do you?

What do you mean?  Of course, I do.  

Well, it sounds like you didn’t think that I could do it.

No.  That’s not what I said at all.  I said I didn’t think that you would do it.  I knew that you could do it.

Then you didn’t think that I had the guts to do it?

Guts have nothing to do with it.  I just thought that you had more sense than that.

What is that supposed to mean?

Well, I really thought that you were above all this new agey stuff and it disturbs me a little to know that you finally caved.

Caved?!  Hardly!

Well, what would you call it?

I call it keeping up with the times and stepping into the twenty first century. You should try it.


What are you afraid of?

I am not afraid.  I just can’t be bothered.  It seems silly to me.

I think you’d like it.

What makes you say that?

Well, because it’s relaxing and liberating.  Why don’t you try it?  

I don’t know.  Do you really think I would like it?

Of course, I wouldn’t lie to you.  Do you want to try it right now?

Well, okay, but don’t tell anybody.

Of course, not.  Who would I tell anyways?  Come on over here and sit down.  

Okay, now what?

Well, close your eyes.  Relax your shoulders and your neck.  Are you ready?

I guess so.

Okay, now take a deep breath.

All right, now what?

Well, you’re done.  That’s it.

What do you mean, that’s it?

Like I said, that’s it.  You just meditated.

But I didn’t do anything.

Exactly, all you have to do is relax, be still and clear your mind.  Since you’ve already got the empty mind part down pat, all you had to do was work on the relaxing part.  Now, wasn't that great?!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Surrogate Wanted

Slowly she ambled her way through the marketplace, taking in all the sights and sounds and protectively shielding her stomach from the throng of people as they jostled her to and fro.  A lot of them were in a hurry, running to be somewhere, buying gourmet foods to be used in that evening’s dinner.  She did not feel hurried.  All she felt was an incredible peace.  This time was going to be different.  This time she had made it past the dreaded three month mark.  She slowly made her way to the coffee booth.  “White Chocolate Latte, with whip.  Decaf, please.”  They had the best chocolate whipped cream and after all she could afford a few extra calories; she was eating for two, now.  She smiled a little as this thought crossed her mind.  It must have been contagious because the girl behind the counter smiled back as she handed her the warm paper cup piled high with chocolate whipped cream.  She closed her eyes as she took the first sip, the whipped cream leaving a little “mustache” above her lip.  Her tongue reached out and ran along her upper lip to retrieve the remnants of the velvety, frothy cream.  It was funny how she enjoyed the small pleasures lately.  It seemed her senses were heightened, lying in wait for her next indulgence.  Leisurely, sipping her cup of decadence, she made her way through the market.  

 A table full of colourful, little, knitted hats caught her eye and she stopped to admire the handiwork.  She fingered one of the hats.  It was a little orange pumpkin with a green stem at the top.  So cute.  She held it wistfully.  The woman behind the table asked if she had a little one in mind.  She smiled and replied that, yes, actually she did.  Impulsively, breaking all her rules, she decided to buy it.  It was her very first purchase for the child that would be hers.  She accepted her change and held out her hand for the bag, while telling herself that it was okay to break the rules, she was past the crucial point.  This time it was going to take, this time her uterus would accept the little embryo just as willingly as she would cradle the little babe in her arms when the time came.  Until then, she would cradle it inside of her, letting it know somehow that it was unconditionally loved, even now.

She decided to take the rest of her coffee and sit outside in the warm October sun.  It was a beautiful fall day, one of those days that tipped the balance in favour of fall being the favourite of seasons.  She found a wooden bench and sat back with her eyes closed, the combination of the warm sun and the ocean breeze was delightful.  She drifted into a lazy, languishing state, not sleeping but completely relaxed.  She was tired lately but that went with the territory, so she was told.

She was pleasantly startled from her reverie by the sound of a small child emitting a belly laugh, the sort of chortle that came from deep within and from a place of pure delight making all those who witnessed at least smile, if not laugh themselves.  The little boy, blonde curls bouncing at the back of his head, was rushing into a flock of pigeons causing them to all fly away and when they alit a little ways away, he would do it again, and again, all the while giggling infectiously.  She observed this scene for a while until the little boy tired of the game and decided that he was going for a walk down the pier, his mother, closely, in tow behind him.

As she watched them walk away, mother chasing son, she supposed it was time that she left as well.  It was getting late and she need to think of something to make for dinner, although this was difficult these days as nothing really appealed to her.  

One more stop in the bathroom and she would make her way home.  She had to pee a lot these days, but she didn’t mind because it went with the territory.  She found the bathroom, no lineup, which was good because she really had to go by now.  A quick glance under the doors revealed that all the stalls were free.  She tried to open the door of the farthest stall but it wouldn’t open.  Someone had locked it from the inside.  She opened the door to the next stall, went in and locked the door.  She took down her pants and hovered above the seat.  Knowing she was alone in the bathroom, she let go with an audible sigh of relief.  Then something caught her eye.  She looked down.  It was unmistakable, the angry, crimson streak on her panties.  She fell onto the toilet seat, her heart sinking to her ankles along with her pants. Again.  It had happened again.  She allowed herself a moment as hot tears streamed down her face.  Then resolutely, she stood, pulled up her pants and walked from the stall.  As she washed her hands, she made a decision.  She dug deep into the bottom of her purse and sorted through the receipts and business cards.  There it was:   a piece of paper about eight inches by five inches.  She looked at it, sadly at first - she didn’t think that she would have to do this – but then determined.  She dug deeper into her purse and found some tape.  She looked around for somewhere to put it.  The hand dryer was as good a place as any.  People would see it as they walked in the door.  She taped the piece of paper to the dryer and read over the words she had written one more time as she drew her hand across the piece of paper in a gesture that seemed to finalize her decision.  As she walked out of the bathroom she threw the bag with the pumpkin hat into the garbage can by the door.

From her perch atop the toilet seat upon which she squatted, Mia watched this scene unfold through the crack in the stall door.  After the lady had left the bathroom, Mia place her hands on either side of the stall to brace herself, slowly unfurled her legs from underneath her and stepped onto the tile floor.  She opened the stall door and went directly to the hand dryer, curious to see what the lady had put there.  She stood reading the sign:

Earn money for bills, student loans
or for your children's education.
(604) 321-5685

This piece was inspired by the note above that I actually did see in a bathroom at Granville Island Market last fall.  We were attending the Vancouver International Writer's Festival and I think somebody planted it there specifically as a writing prompt.  Who knows, but our writing group had fun interpreting it.  The phone number is fictitious. 

Minding Your Peas

“Always eat everything on your plate because there are so many children in this world who don't get enough to eat.”  Beulah has heard her mother repeat this dinner time mantra over and over again.

Crying this time, she sat at the table and stared morosely at the pile of very green peas on her plate.  “Do I really have to eat these?”  

“Everything has to be gone if you want dessert!”  

Fortunately, Harry, her dog, was in his usual spot beneath the table.  Giving the peas to him, one by one, seemed like the perfect answer to her problem.  Harry didn’t appear to mind at all.  Ice cream was well worth the risk of punishment and besides peas were so yucky.  Just five more peas for Harry and she would be done.  

Knives and forks clinked against plates as her mother cleared the table. “Last one at the table again, Beulah.”  Mother was getting impatient.  “Next time, you had better be finished sooner.”  

“Okay, I will, Mom.  Please, can I have some ice cream now?”   Quickly, she fed the last pea to Harry.

Realizing then, that it was not Beulah eating the peas, but Harry, her mother paused for a moment. “Since Harry ate the peas, Harry gets the ice cream.”  

Tears, hot and alligator-like, streamed down Beulah’s face when she realized that she had been discovered and that there would be no ice cream tonight.  Under the table Harry’s ears perked and he sat up expectantly.  

“Vanilla for you Harry,” said her mother as she plopped a scoop of vanilla ice cream into Harry’s plastic dish.  “What have I told you, Beulah, and how many times? “ 

“X-ray vision,” Beulah mumbled.  “You told me that mothers have X-ray vision.   Zillions of times.”

This piece was inspired by this week's crazy fun prompt at Red Writing Hood:
Your assignment is to write a short piece - fiction, non-fiction, poetry, whatevs - in which each sentence starts with a the next letter of the alphabet. Starting with "A." So, yes, your finished product will consist of 26 sentences.

 June 26 - I am linking this post to The Lightning and Lightning Bug's Dare to Share link up.