Frozen

cold AmitaiAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

 

Inside the core of frozen

Lore

There beats a tender

Heart.

Beneath the glaciers of

Dearth

Unfurl forgotten

Paths.

Amidst the howling winds of

Cold

Whispers bid to

Start,

And feed the seed ‘neath Tundra’s

Soul

Awaiting summer’s

Part.

 

 

Note: just the other day, I watched parts of the movie “Frozen” (the first one) with a young child, in preparation for that child’s going to the movies with friends to see “Frozen 2.” Now I have an ear-worm and am yet to “let it go” … 😉

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS and JusJoJan challenges: Movie title

 

 

The Parade

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Photo: Mihai Surdu on Unsplash

 

It was partially because they needed to find something to focus on, and the months ahead stretched barren of anything worthy of looking forward to; and partially because they believed they had some yet-to-be-discovered organizational talents and this could be a good way to shine a little spotlight on them; and partially because they knew it was the last thing Mayor Perry would expect. The latter reason alone was worth the effort. Especially when it would be something he won’t be able to admit he was against and may even end up having to endorse.

So they planned a parade.

They enlisted friends’ cars for floats and roped in small sponsorships by neighborhood stores and minor celebrities. They tempted bands and cheerleaders from local middle-schools with free exposure and offered same for the martial arts students from George’s Judo (which, not to be outdone, was followed by the dancers from Teens’ Tap and Ballroom Ballerinas). They raised money (and attention) by holding bake-sales on stoops and organizing a popup donate-your-merchandise shop on the sidewalk in front of the library. They printed flyers and pinned them to bulletin boards then convinced store owners to tape some into their display windows, by telling them every one else already had.

Peer pressure worked.

Most people didn’t ask too many questions about why a “Celebrate Ourselves” parade was necessary, where it had been born or by whom or to what end. The general theme seemed good enough, and it probably didn’t feel right to be against celebrating who one was and what they belonged to and were included in.

They ordered “CO” shirts, stickers, and visors in neon-green, complete with an abstract sketch of a float-turned-banner-turned-thumbs-up to ‘carry’ the letters as the parade’s logo. They uploaded photos of themselves handing shirts to firefighters, visors to grinning grandmothers in the park, and an assortment of the stuff to slightly bewildered parents at the playground. The stickers were a hit with the kids.

They videoed themselves delivering a shirt to the mayor’s office, then sent the video to the local news, who shared it under the title: “The Mayor Celebrates ‘Celebrating Ourselves.'” Social media amplified it.

By the following morning the mayor was accosted by a reporter on his way out of the gym. The insistent young woman shoved a microphone in Mayor Perry’s face and asked whether he’d been asked to be the Grand Marshal.

“Not yet,” he mumbled.

An hour later they were in his office, neon-green shirts on, tailed by the reporter they’d tipped ahead of time for an “exclusive follow-up scoop.”

Soon enough a statement was issued and the news headlined: “Mayor Perry to Lead CO Parade.”

Sponsorships streamed on: The gym the Mayor belonged to. The bank. The local hospital. The Aerobatics Club.

Requests came in for satellite parades in nearby towns.

The national news picked the story. Talking heads nodded and argued the pros and cons.

Mayor Perry marched, neon-green shirt and forced smile on.

 

By the following year they ran for office, with the CO logo strategically in the background.

Celebrating themselves was fun.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS and JusJoJun writing prompt

 

 

The Vow

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Photo: Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

 

It was to be a fervent

Vow

For all the things their souls

Allow

For hopes and dreams, and yet

Somehow

The time and place did not

Allow

And left them both perplexed,

What now?

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS (and JusJoJan) challenge

 

 

In The Years

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Photo: Ian Schneider on Unsplash

 

In the years full of sorrows

They held on to the

Joys,

From the years when the

Smiles were more frequent than

Oys.

 

In the years where

Frustration

Overtook hope or

Peace,

They held on to conviction

That life can evil

Resist.

 

In the years where the wrong

Bloomed in hate

Unconcealed,

They held on to the truth,

So harm may be

Revealed.

 

In the years where they saw

Order crumble,

 Laws evade,

They held on and remembered:

Hope finds way,

Light’s ahead.

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: year

 

 

On Thresholds

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Photo: Offmetro.com

 

A few hours ago I stood at the first floor indoor balcony of “The Shops” at the Time Warner complex, “Jingle Bells” playing softly in the background, and stared at the commotion on the street below. The traffic circle and the whole street was awash in red, white, and blue. Not of flags, but in emergency vehicles.

Behind me the shopping center continued its pre-holiday buzz, filled with the distinct hubbub of people at the ceremony of gawk and point, browse and purchase. The mall was festive. Large ornamental decorations hung from the ceiling, and the balcony’s railing attracted a steady stream of visitors keen to capture a photo for immediate uploading into social media. It was a lovely spot to take a photo in, and yet it surprised me how many of the people who approached the banister seemed not to register the events that were taking place right outside the very windows that framed their shot.

It was impossible to miss.

Or was it?

Perhaps the tourists, energetically set to mingle with the locals, assumed that a constant whine of fire-engines, ambulances, and NYPD in a mass of first responders’ flicker is part of everyday in New York City. And perhaps in many ways it indeed is … and I am the one inured to an ongoing level of it. Perhaps where the quantity outside had, for me, somehow shifted qualitatively from the mundane to the attention-getting … the flickering outside had long surpassed the visitors’ threshold and had moved them beyond a place of response …

I considered how this was representative of the way in which, in general, once a “Too-Much” level for something is reached, a further increase in magnitude of too-muchness can paradoxically fade into the woodwork, swallowed by saturation.

A gaggle of teens passed by me, loudly debating the level of celebrity of some pop artist and the likelihood of her responding to a social media message. I found myself thinking of how an aspiring celebrity’s fan mail may be eagerly read when it first comes, every letter representing an individual … but might turn into a mass measured by boxes or at most a quick count of envelopes by the time fan mail becomes too numerous to actually read. One would have to pull out a single letter from the avalanche in order to rediscover the real person who’d placed a bit of themselves into the message. Otherwise, the very same person’s letter would remain as unseen as the rest.

It was the way so many other things — or at the very least the individuality of them — became meaningless when turned to be too many to count or attend to.

A stubborn blare of a siren jarred me out of my reverie and I returned my eyes to the scene outside the window. A ladder was raised to a high floor on one of the ornamental buildings on the exclusive street ahead. As far as the eye could see, Central Park South was brighter and more colorful than the lights around a tree.

Smoke billowed. It was a different kind of column than the one exuded by steam vents in the streets or steam stacks in the roofs of buildings. Fire.

Someone’s home. Someone’s belongings. Someone’s person could be at the mercy of the flames, tittering between existing and being devoured. The safety of the emergency personnel, too.

In this city of millions, it was all of it real. It was all individually significant in its own way.

“Keep safe,” I breathed. “May whatever this is, not completely mar your day.”

 

 

[Click for a Citizen App video of today at that time. Thankfully, all are safe.]

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: ‘ingle’

 

 

Relative Loudness

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Photo: Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

 

“It’s way too loud!”

Maria smoothed her skirt. Her mother’s sense of what wasn’t “too loud” was limited to washed-out grays, faded pastels, and the kind of drab that would put even a hyperactive child to sleep. “I like it.”

“You can’t possibly think you’ll get the job dressed like this.”

Her mother always went for the jugular.

Maria shrugged. She’d learned the hard way that to show her wounding only meant that more of it was certain to be dished out.

“Don’t come crying to me when someone more professional gets the position,” her mother added.

“Thanks for the support, Mom,” Maria sighed. She grabbed her bag, checked to see that the bus card was in her pocket, and walked out, deliberately ignoring the foyer’s mirror. She’ll give herself a final once over later, against a store’s window or parked car if she needed to. Any reflective surface would be more forgiving than her mother’s eye.

Some days the anger churned inside her like a witch’s noxious brew. A dash of fury, an evil eye of newt, a cup of resentment, a clump of shame, a fistful of sorrow, all stirred with the bone of a dog left to die in the street under a full moon.

“She can’t help it,” Sam, when he was still around, would try to soothe her. He was spared the worst of their mother’s tongue-lashings, being a boy and therefore less intrinsically prone to disappointing her. But he was well aware of how their mother’s wrath was doled onto Maria, and he’d even take blame where he could, knowing he wasn’t likely to be punished for the same misdemeanor, and that he’ll get off lightly when he was. “Mom sees in you everything she wants to be and cannot.”

It was truth. It was also small consolation.

“I can’t help it that she had less opportunity,” Maria would pout in answer. “It’s not my fault she was kept home to raise her siblings and never got to finish school. It’s not my fault she feels unable to try anything, or that Dad liked pointing out how uneducated she was.” And still … more often than not Sam’s reminders of where their mother had learned criticism toward daughters, and of the inordinate amounts she’d had to put up with, did help awaken a measure of empathy.

Some days less than others, though.

And on this particular morning Maria had very little of it to spare.

She’d worked hard to prepare for this job interview, and she’d put much thought into the clothing she selected. The turquoise top and a the splash of magenta in the beaded necklace were meant to put a bit of color in her pale complexion. She coupled that with a dark blue skirt with a banana-yellow belt. A matching silk scarf was tied around the handles of her rather overtired bag. She wore a single turquoise bangle on her wrist, and the dark blue pumps she’d kept for special occasions. Her hair was pulled back from her face behind one ear to reveal a single studded earring, and fell in soft curls over her cheek on the other side.

She thought she looked nice. Till her mother’s acid raised welts of doubt.

A whistle sounded and she turned around fully prepared to frown, only to have her lips turn up when she saw the whistler.

“You look glam!” Her eighty five year old neighbor leaned onto his rake and grinned at her through few remaining teeth. “Big day?”

“Hi Mr. Green,” she smiled back. “Yes. I mean, I hope. Job interview.”

“Ah,” he nodded sagely. “And you sure do look the part! Go get ’em! And don’t you let yourself worry none. Tell them all the good things that you are and can do, and don’t you be shy about it, either. It’s is your time to shine, so you go ahead and speak up as loud as anything. Show them who you are so they not miss the chance to employ you. And swing by on your way back to tell me how it went, will you now?”

She nodded. She did not trust her voice …

But her heart felt warmed and her feet were lighter as she walked toward the bus, every window reflecting rosy cheeks and a sparkle in her eye.

 

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS challenge: Loud

 

 

The Key

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Photo: Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

 

It was the key that would change everything.

He only found it because Cooper, ever disobedient, had slipped the leash and ran off the trail and into the thick of the woods. Again.

Deena thought his walks in the forest were cruel.

“It is his breed’s nature to hunt scents,” she’d inevitably complain about the leash, ruining what calm there was to be had in an afternoon walk. “How can you chain him to you when he’s meant to run where his nose leads?”

In Leigh’s view, walking the canine on paved sidewalks where there was no loam or crushed insects or chipmunk poo for Cooper to breathe, was actually far crueler. And so, like they often did when it came to disagreements, they ended up taking the easier way out by splitting the walks between them.

Deena would walk Cooper in the mornings in the neighborhood, where the most the dog could sniff was garbage cans and the occasional fellow leashed-pooch’s butt. Leigh walked him after work, and almost always in the direction of the woods, where in some ways they were both of them at home and both straining against some kind of leash.

It wasn’t perfect and sometimes it was lonely, but he preferred it that way. Quieter. With none of Deena’s nattering about minutia that he found excruciatingly boring to listen to and only slightly less indecent to ignore.

Not that he’d say that to her. Life was better when some observations were kept to oneself.

Like about keys …

He’d been running after Cooper when he tripped on an exposed root. A stream of words he’d learned while serving on a Navy ship spilled out of his mouth, when a shape manifested on the leaf-strewn forest floor. And it was as if a switch flipped and turned his mouth dumb.

He swallowed but there was nothing. His body shuddered with the memories of how quickly a mouth can turn devoid of moisture. That, too, he’d learned while serving on the ship.

He shook it off to make the involuntary shaking into an act of volition. Still his heart whooshed in his ears as he took a knee to the wet ground and reached for the key.

He didn’t know how long he remained frozen, fingers hovering without actually touching the bit of metal. Long enough for Cooper to return to investigate. Because the next thing  Leigh was aware of was Cooper’s wet nose, sniffing at the object of his master’s interest, licking Leigh’s fingers, breathing on his cheek.

“Move,” Leigh nudged the canine gently out of the way.

And Cooper, for once respectful without bribery, obeyed, and stretched with head on paws, his tongue dangling and his long body smeared with something Leigh noted to himself in passing would need scrubbing off with soap before being allowed back indoors.

“It’s the key, Cooper,” Leigh whispered. He was awed. He was aghast. “But how?”

It’s been eight years, five months, and two days since he’d lost it. On a different continent, in what felt a different world, in the middle of a battle, and not two hours after he’d sworn to his dying best friend that he would guard it with his life and bring it home to the fiance Mark had left behind.

“It was to be my wedding gift to Deena,” Mark had gasped, fighting for every breath. “She doesn’t know about it. I was waiting to tell her. It’s the key to my safe.”

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: Key

 

None To Be Had

crater view OfirAsif

Photo: Ofir Asif

 

There was no shade to be had.

No shelter from onslaughts

Of glaring heat,

Too bright.

There was no shade to be had.

Exposed as they were

To everything

In sight.

There was no shade to be had,

Other than what they

Conveyed in

A shrug.

No shade other than the small frowns

That communicated how

Very much in need

They were of a

Sheltering

Hug.

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS writing prompt: Shade

 

 

Side-Effects

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Photo: Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

 

They said it was the best thing for it.

They hinted that to forgo discussing it will

Mean all manner of awfulness

happening

(And would, perhaps, be partially my fault

For not taking steps to fix

By listening).

 

They showed how it would better

Everything:

My house, my shape, my friends

My job.

May even lead to what I never had

Or always wanted

But an illness was sure

To rob.

 

The ad said it was the best thing for it.

A discovery deserving of a

King.

If only my eyes hadn’t left the screen

To pluck an errant string,

Which had my ears

Abandoned

To the chatter —

Which had previously lay hidden

Under sprawling beaches

And smiling people

And every beautiful

Thing —

And I heard

The actual words

That listed

All the side-effects

(from death, to heart-attack, to vomiting)

That this supposed

Miracle drug

Was likely to also

Bring.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: Flyer/Ad

 

 

Slivers Of Dreams

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Photo: Marina Shatskih on Unsplash

 

All those dreams that he had

As a child

Snug

Under covers

At night,

His tattered teddy

In arms.

His dreams

Parsed out

Into slivers

When

Under stars

At war,

His battered rifle

The only thing

He could

Hug.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: Dream