Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Draped Like a Benediction

While in the bitter midst of his second time out, my youngest decided to tear all the sheets off his bed.

Walking into his room, I saw the mess, and my chest caved. The heaviness. Oh, the heaviness.

Sometimes, there's so much to carry. So much to clean.

I should have made him make his own bed. Or, even better, left him to sleep on a bare, cold mattress. That would be all Love-and-Logic-y.

Unmake your own bed, now sleep in it.

Instead, I chose new sheets. The soft, dove-brown flannel ones, adorned with pirates. I smoothed the loose creases, fluffing his pillow, and folding over the top sheet and comforter.

An invitation.

I thought of my mother, and how she did the same for me. Soft, yellow sheets, draped like a benediction. My favorite doll nestled close by, waiting for my midnight embraces.

And so, I made his bed. I wanted him to know that even when he's angry, he will still have a soft, warm pirate-sheeted place to fall.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fluttering and Light

"Three, two, one," I counted out the change, and slid it across the counter.

He cupped his hand and scooped the pennies in. "Thank you," he said. "Room for cream?"

"No," I said, "I take it black. Like my men."

My hand flew to my mouth. A nervous half-bark, half-snort escaped. 

Raising his eyebrows, he handed me my cup. "Surely you can't be serious."

I rubbed my finger around the lip of the cup. Once. Again. He crossed his arms across his green apron, leaned back, and smiled.

A challenge. I twisted a curl, and stepped forward. My hand rested on the counter. "Oh, but I am." I took a sip, "And don't call me Shirley."

I held my breath, watching the words float from my mouth to his ears. They flapped their little syllabic wings. Would they soar? Or plop?

He ran his fingers through his dark hair; his green eyes sparkled. "Well," he said, "It looks like I choose the wrong week to quit sniffing glue."

The coffee warmed my hand, as I felt his words. Fluttering, gossamer and light.

It's good to be gotten.

"Well, I'll see you then," I said.

"Looking forward to it."

I stepped into the chill. The warmth never left my cheeks.

(With mad props to the classic film, Airplane.)

And, of course, the folks at Write on Edge, would brought this prompt to the table:

This week, we’d like you to write a post – fiction or creative non-fiction – which begins with a countdown. “Three, two, one.” You pick what the countdown is for. The ideas above are just suggestions. Use your imagination and have fun with it!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cleaning House

"I got off the phone with Blue Cross Blue Shield today, " he says, collapsing into the sofa. He rubs his forehead.

"And?" I place my nook on the armrest, attempting to give him my full attention.

He talks of forms and figures, furrowed brows and forgotten details. For months now, he has helped his father sweep up the debris and fragments of his mother's life.

Insurance. Medical bills. Retirement. He works the gnarls from the knot. He tries to be gentle, but he still must tug. Strain.

Last Monday: "I had to tell them she's deceased,"  he said, spooning spaghetti in bowls.

Yesterday: "The hospital sent a postcard to Mom today, inviting her to a Bone and Joint Health Seminar."

I forced a smile, "I guess she's not going."

He shook his head, "Yeah."

I hold his hand and try not to study his features too intently. I annoy him with my furtive glances, as I scan his face for crumbling.

I want to dump the bucket, and let the water flow into every corner of her house. I want a flood. An outpouring. A release.

But he needs containment. Checks on paper, and creased, crisp envelopes.

He is mourning. He is cleaning house.

And I am trying my hardest to let him do it his way.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


"Nancy. We're going. Get in the car."

I took a furtive sip of my mudslide, which Emily had poured into a Big Gulp cup. My stomach twisted as I settled into the backseat of the convertible.

"Woooo!" squealed Jessica, "That's my jam!" She lifted her hands in the air as Prince's "Pussy Control," blared from the speakers.  I ducked---my seventh grade students were everywhere.

My husband had said, "You should go out with Steve's girlfriend, Marcy. She's a lot of fun."

He would be hearing about this. Or maybe not. 

I took another long sip. A bit of ice clogged in the straw. I wiped my hands on my jeans, and tried to smile, laugh.  I could be fun, too.

"Ahhhhh. Pussy Control!"" screeched Marcy from behind the wheel. We approached the intersection.

"We're almost here, bitches!" She took a quick left, and rear-ended a truck. A thud. An air bag. And Prince singing, "Better sit your ass down."

"OhShitOhShit," mumbled Marcy. She was sober, yes. But also an Air Force Airman.  The Big Gulp cup rested heavy in my trembling hands.

The rear ended car drove away, as Marcy paged her boyfriend.

We sat in the parking lot, the marquee reading, "Home of Thunder Down Under."

It was to be my first trip to a strip club. But the universe, or perhaps Prince, had taken control.