Another World

Photo prompt: © CEAyr

 

“See the lamppost?”

Nick nodded.

“See that reflection?”

Another nod.

“You walk into that store and you’ll be in another world.”

The younger boy shook his head, hair so severely cut it almost looked shaven. Ruben fed him, but everything had a price. True in the orphanage. True on the streets.

“Your loss,” Ruben shrugged. “If you prefer life as it is now …” he drew the last word out.

Nick tried to see through the window. It was like a mirror. He didn’t like what he saw.

“I’ll go,” he said.

“Hat on. Bring out something good. Don’t get caught.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Them Poor Bushes

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Photo: Burst on Unsplash

 

She figures it would be okay.

She figures it would do.

She’ll find her schedule and get back,

Within a month or two.

She figures she could do the task.

She figures it is fine.

She’d done a thing like that before,

Not quite, but in outline.

Still, she figures it a breeze.

She figures she’d succeed.

Even when history, at best,

Is wondering if indeed.

She figures this, she figures that

In neutral all her wheels,

And it becomes impossible

To not begin to feel,

That maybe it’d be easier

To let them bushes be

They’re beat from hedging here and there

And wishing they could flee!

 

 

Note: This was really just for fun and isn’t about (ahem) anyone … So similarity to any individual is (sort of) coincidental … 😉 Dedicated to all the ‘he’ and ‘she’ and ‘you’ and ‘they,’ who won’t say yea and won’t say nay, and leave us all in limbo every day …

For Linda Hill’s SoCS challenge: figure

 

 

Choosing Dandelions

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Photo: Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

 

I wake and turn my back on the clock and seek the comfort of the dream that is still floating like a bubble, already fragile, above my head. It pops and disappears and there is nothing but a vague sense of something lost. I wanted to go back into it … and yet the choice, when it was made in some subterranean neurological net within my mind, was that sleep was to escape.

The day to unfold.

Still, and throughout the mundane tasks of morning, small search-parties like tentative roots into hard-packed sand, send shoots into my consciousness to try and capture whiffs of the dream. A hope that perhaps a fleeting dandelion seed of recollection will find purchase and regrow a stalk.

A place of in-between. Perhaps a corner of my mind is still in slumber. Perhaps if I find it, I will come across the dream, robust in puffy bubble-hood, still tethered to my insides, waiting to be seen.

Sometimes writing helps.

I have too much to do.

I will ignore.

Will choose to sit and breathe and let my mind and fingers wander where they may, the sands of time, the depths of grief, the dawns of days, the fluttering delights, the warmth of recognition, the sorrows of injustice. Currents of discovery of what’s already there. A sea of tethered bubbles like a field of hot-air balloons, straining at the anchors to let loose.

I wrote of a blimp just the day before.

Was that the origin or the reaction to the imagery of bobbing thoughts and fullness so tangible it turns air into rising power? Was the blimp the source or the reflection of the fragility of any skin if pulled too tight, of the leaking deflation if seams are untended, the world upended as it spirals out of flight?

I write. I breathe.

I look pointedly away from the pink sticky notes and the open documents holding forms awaiting filling for a speaking engagement and another for an upcoming presentation and a list of emails needing a response.

I make a choice.

To chase a dandelion.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS Challenge: Choices

 

 

Attitudes of Gratitude

Living princess A.L.

Photo: A.L.

 

I chose to write this response to Dawn as a stream of consciousness piece. No edits. No pauses. No revisiting or rethinking or rephrasing. Typos and mismatched sentences and mixed metaphors and all. It is what it is. And so it is. Here goes, some ten things I am grateful for.

  1. You. I am thankful for all of you whom I met in the blog-lands in 2019, and for those I’d met before but got to know better in 2019. I’m thankful for the glorious, tender, poetic, empathic, wise, witty, funny, delightful, mysterious things you write and post and share. For all of you who love. For all of you I love. For the kindness shown to me.
  2. Kindness. I cannot overemphasize how grateful I am for kindness. For the big things people do for each other, yes. Opening one’s home to the needy. Giving of what one has enough of to those who do not. Going all out for someone else. Yes. All that. But also for the seemingly small acts of kindness: Holding the door for someone, making eye contact and smiling, paying for someone’s coffee, carrying someone’s groceries to the car, babysitting someone’s child so they can have a moment for themselves, clearing snow from someone else’s car, slowing down at the street crossing so someone who is slower or frail does not need to feel rushed lest the light changes before they are on the other side, being the driver who waits patiently till that slow-crosser gets safely to the other side … It all matters. Especially now.
  3. Connection. Through the big and small acts of kindness. Through the words we say and the things we do and the words we don’t say and the things we could’ve done and decided not to, because it was the better thing to do to refrain. To think not only of the immediate gratification but the long term realities of who we are and what we want to know about our own choices.
  4. Choices. For being able to have them. For being able to exercise them. For being able to know what they are and not take them for granted. For remembering those who fought for them and taking on the charge of fighting to help those who have far less choice, so they, too, have the choices they should have.
  5. Patience. Am grateful for learning a bit more of it. For knowing I’ve got more to learn and that I can take the time to become better at it. Patience with others who don’t see as I do. Patience with others who need me to see as they do and even if they have a difficult time accepting I do not see eye to eye with them and likely won’t, and yet that it is okay to disagree and no one needs to feel as if they’d lost face or have less worth. Patience with the things that take time that I don’t always feel I have. Patience with myself, especially. With my body’s limitations. With others’ human limitations. With the realities of pain and the cost of histories and with the urgency to know what the future holds, even if I know I can’t.
  6. The future. Grateful for the opportunity to work toward one. To be part of what change can be done that may help ensure the next generations will have one. To be part of believing that good matters and action matters and small choices matter, and that together we can be more light than doom, more responsible than victimizing, more repairing than damaging.
  7. Repair. Am grateful for the trust placed in each breath we breathe. For the potential to repair: relationships, the fractures of mistakes, the misunderstandings that come with complicated communications and different points of views and variations on information and the tug and pull of forces that may wish to harm, but we need not succumb to. Because we are better than that, and stronger at the seams of our repair. For the potential to hold hope and action for the repair of some aspects of this Earth, too.
  8. Hope. I am deeply, deeply, deeply thankful for hope.
  9. Children. I cannot imagine this world without them. There would be no world without them. They represent, embody, live, breathe, exude hope.
  10. Love, and the power of voice. I know. Two in one. For they are often one. Written, spoken, expressed love and voice. The kind that comes through in actions, in thoughts, in educating, in offering help, in wisdom, in words, in gestures, in the myriad ways that make us who we are. And help us grow.

May every day in 2020 — and in the decade unfurling, new and brimming with what can be still be born — bring us all that we are grateful for. And the courage and power and strength and stamina and magic to dream and trust and do and move beyond.

With a heart full of tremulousness and gratitude,

Na’ama.

 

 

(Adding here a link to last year’s list. Because it made me smile to read it. I’m quite predictable to myself, I am. I am.)

For Dawn’s “The 2019 Attitude of Gratitude List”

 

 

Reconsidered Romance

Photo prompt: © Dale Rogerson

 

It was better in the movie.

She’d slipped on the snow and had a wet imprint of her behind on her dress and a freezing spot in her lower back. His shoes got drenched when he’d stepped in a slush puddle, and generated awful squeaky sounds in every step. The benches needed deicing or they risked breaking their necks if they as much as tried to climb them, let alone jump around.

“I am sixteen, going on seventeen, and I’m going back inside,” she declared, teeth chattering.

“I am seventeen going on eighteen, and I’ll beat you to the house…”

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

No Big-Mart

 

“It says this way to the manor,” Doug tugged Lily’s sleeve.

“I know,” she shrugged to release his hold. At thirty-four, he was really quite too old to tug on clothing for attention.

“So why are we going in the opposite?”

She wondered how it was that there was a time when the nasal tone of his petulance didn’t bother her. Had she simply ignored it in the beginning, when infatuation took precedence to logic? Doug was still easy on the eyes, but her heart had become wiser.

“Because the manor will still be there later, while this Farmer’s Market stall might not.”

“What’s wrong with Big-Mart?”

Her lips tightened. She couldn’t believe he actually whined. “Big-Mart has no proper food. Everything’s processed. And anyway, I’d much rather support local farmers than corporate executives.”

She cringed at the sound of her own voice. She’d become her mother. To her boyfriend.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimsons Creative Challenge #57

 

Halfway Home

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

She never grew tired of it.

Even if fatigue had become part and parcel of her every day. Of her very breath.

It did not matter. Her fatigue didn’t, that is. At least, it did not matter as much as it would have otherwise. As much as she knew it could. As much as it had in the other place, where there was naught but white walls and white squeaky soles on squeaky clean tiles and antiseptic air and officious hands and flickering images on a screen where well-dressed persons babbled about things that did not feel relevant to her in the least.

They’d urged her not to leave.

She left.

No regrets.

Not when the trade-off was brisk air and the smell of just-trampled grass and the scent of rain and the open vistas of the world rolling down into the horizon where the sun met the mountains and the sky kissed the ground.

No regrets.

Not with the play of night and day around her, not with light that flickering on her covers and the sun licking her fingers as she lay in bed. Not with a world that breathed and changed and lived and died and reemerged. With yips of puppies racing down the lawn. The hiss of wind. The chirps of birds.

Sure, others were concerned, or so they said.

She did not share their dread.

Death did not scare her. Nor did the warnings that she’d be too far from hospital to get assistance in time if another crisis came. For a crisis was bound to come, and when it did, she knew she’d be content to face it with her face to the hills and her eyes on the valleys and the snow-capped mountains where her soul would soon roam.

For she was halfway home.

More than half, perhaps, now that most of the sand in her hourglass had been shed.

It did not matter.

She was halfway home, content with whatever lay ahead.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto Challenge

 

Slippery Slope

Not penguins InbarAsif

Photo: Inbar Asif

 

 

Down the slippery slope

Of icy past

And current treachery

They go,

Balancing precariously

On the edge of

What to do

With what they know.

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Slope

 

 

Dressed Down

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Photo: Marjorie Bertrand on Unsplash

 

He eyed her twirling in her tutu and his heart squeezed with longing.

He wanted to do that, too. It was not fair that it was not allowed.

That only girls could.

Be princesses.

Wear dresses.

Put on make up.

Play with dolls.

Paint their nails.

He’d tried, of course, but he could tell that even those who did not outright take things from him or forbid him or call him hurtful names, didn’t really feel comfortable with his choices. There was that look they gave, the forced smile, the way they inevitably ran out of patience and gave him “other suggestions” or directed him toward “trying other things.” He was given gifts that made it clear that what he’d asked for was not acceptable and therefore required others choose for him.

He could tell his parents were ashamed.

They loved him. He knew. But they didn’t quite love that part of him. The part that he loved in himself the most. The part that he hated. Sometimes.

It wasn’t even that he didn’t like sports, or climbing trees, or making mud pies. He did. It was just that those weren’t fun without adding a bit of dance, of looking for fairies amidst the branches, or pretending that the mud pies were part of a birthday bakery for princesses.

They kept saying how “wonderful it was to have such an imagination,” but their body language told him that they’d have much preferred if his imagination didn’t quite go where it wanted to. That they would have liked better an imagination of the kind they felt was more appropriate for boys.

“Do you want to be a girl?” his sister asked. They were in her room for a tea party. She was wearing one of her ballet-princess dresses and the full set of jewelry she’d gotten from Grandma just the other day. She let him wear the crown. They pretended this made him a princess, too, but they both knew she chose the crown because it would be easy for him to take down if someone walked in.

Or say he was a king.

Sometimes he envied her so much that it carved a hole into the center of his being. The ease and confidence with which she could prance around in rustling taffeta and glittery baubles, the smiles she got when she dressed up and smeared lipstick on her face … It hurt. It hurt. It hurt.

She let him into her world, but they both know that it was not his to live in. They both knew that when her friends came for a play-date he would be excluded. They both knew that even with no dress on, and with a crown fit for a king, at any moment someone might barge in, and frown, and find a reason to ‘redirect’ him.

Her question made him cry.

Because he didn’t want to be a girl.

He wanted to be a boy who liked playing with dolls and painting his nails and having tea parties and trying on dresses and decorating mud-pie cakes for princesses.

And yet … it would have been so easy. If he were a girl.

No frowns. No shaming. No overhearing adults talk of how he needed “toughening up” or was “too sensitive” or was “definitely gay-material” or “headed in the wrong direction.” Not having to know that Mom and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa were kind of ashamed of him.

“I want to be me,” he sobbed, and fingered a dress his sister discarded and that he would give his heart to be allowed to put on without fear. “I just want to be me … and I don’t understand why it is wrong.”

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS challenge: dress

 

 

Or Not

blue plastic frame desk globe

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

The sun will warm

Again

Or far

Too hot.

The water that sustains

Will flood

Again

Or not.

The tenet that prevails

Remains:

This magic of a planet

To protect

We ought,

Or an ultimatum

Spurred by greed

With life as

Afterthought,

Will render what we

Know

And what we for our

Children hoped,

Into a disaster

We had let be

Bought.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Ultimatum in 62 words