Thursday, September 1, 2016

"I'm not really sure how this hasn't happened to me."

"Do you know what giving up feels like?" the fish asked the cat who stood outside the bowl trying to gauge the depth of the water.
"Quiet," said the cat, "I'm doing math." He lifted an orange paw and carefully touched the top of the water in the bowl.
"It is really an awful feeling," said the fish, diving deeper into his bowl. "I look around and see the world, but am constrained by walls I can not see. I will never escape this fish bowl."
"I think I can help you with that," said the cat, dipping his paw deeper into the water.
"Yours is not the kind of help I need," said the fish, swimming inside a plastic sunken ship at the bottom of the bowl.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

"I just discovered they're still doing The Real World on MTv - and it's still super annoying;)"

I woke up with all of the conversations we never had lodged in the back of my throat.  Dreams of times we never spent and the things we will never do haunting my morning, making reality seemed skewed.  It was 1pm before I realized that today we would have celebrated 15 years.  That we would have cracked open the bottle of Chateau Margaux that bought on our 5th anniversary and served it with braised New Zealand lamp chops or tender skirt steak cooked with onions.

There is no option on Facebook to post about the milestones you don't meet. And the bottle of wine was opened years ago.  On our last night together, even though at the time we could not call it that, we sat together in the living room of our home.  Candles in the fireplace, the spring wind coming through the windows, behind us, stacks of boxes that will need to be loaded into the Penske truck tomorrow.  And the wine was young when we opened it, it had needed more time to become the wine it had been created to be.  And wasn't it the same with us?  That time and patience could have fixed so much.

I woke up with all of the things that I have left to say to you on the tip of my tongue.  The summer wind blowing in my window, just as it had 15 years ago. Wondering if you had saved the bottle...

Sunday, June 5, 2016

"Boom!"

I woke out of a dream from a nap gone wrong.  Filled with thoughts of a lifetime ago.  Wracked with regret and sadness.  On the table next to me my phone emitted a quiet beep letting me know that someone was reaching out.  My eyes still full of tears I opened the message to find a note from you.  You had been thinking about a time when you and I were an us and were compelled to, at the same time I was dreaming of that very moment, to let me know you had been thinking about it too.  I held my phone, looking down at the keyboard that had automatically opened waiting for me to type my response.  But to respond is to admit to something I can never say out loud.  So I deleted the message.  Your face from the screen. If only I could also delete the memory.

Friday, April 15, 2016

"Sign!"

"friday in the sugarhouse"

When we started dating you lived in a ground floor apartment hidden away in Beacon Hill.  It had the right address to sound exclusive but was close enough to the Red Line that you could feel the vibrations when it made it s lumbering journey from the  deep recesses of the city to the bridge that would take it to Cambridge.

You invited me over one night when we were just dating and I made the walk that I would make so many times in the next 6 months 20 years later it is still burned in my mind.  Out my door at 80 Boylston Street, across the Boston Common on the diagonal.  Cross the street where the ducklings from Make Way for Ducklings crossed the street in the famous book.  On Charles Street now.  Dodge the people who are suppose to live here...the ones with money and power, stop and buy a pack of smokes at the Seven Eleven.  Pass the retail stores and the expensive bakery that years later would be my go to breakfast spot.  Turn right at Revere street.  The road turns sharply up, almost reminiscent of the hills in San Francisco. But it is a short block and and soon as you turn left onto West Cedar the road slopes down again, leading you towards the river and the honking cars of Cambridge Street.  At the next block you take another right.  Look for the door that has no marking.

But what I can not remember from that first walk was if I hesitated.  If I had made the walk with Matchbox 20's inaugural album blaring in my ears and then upon arriving had been able to feel the consequences of that heavy iron door.  If I did, it wasn't long.  I still make the walk in my head sometimes.  It is spring and I am young and I know you are waiting.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

"Alright everyone get the ides of March quotes/memes out of your systems"

We didn't need the help of a seer to predict our beginning or our end. There were so many signs in the beginning that led us to believe we should be together.  From those first fated moments in Ithaca, the Monica Lewinsky scandal breaking on TV, wrapped in a hotel quilt staving off the winter air.  It was a trip I wasn't suppose to be on, trading an invitation for a weekend away in the Poconos for this trip instead.  But for every early easy moment, we would be met by an equally hard road block.  The early fights, the fire, the year we didn't speak.  So many times that one or both of us could have turned and chosen a different path. And yet we always chose the hard path.  The fight to find each other, to stay together, even when we knew it was a futile one.  And the sad march to goodbye, through years of memories and moments of hope, that brought us back to the end. To where we started.  The only price we paid, was time and our hearts.

Monday, March 14, 2016

"...and it begins!"

I am jealous of the scars that you can see.  The ones that you can point to and say, this is from our first Valentines day when a thorn from the roses you bought left an inch long scar on the side of my middle finger.  This one was from when the ceramic jewelry box my father gave me when I was eight shattered in my hand, leaving a scar deep enough to need stitches from the top of my right pointer finger all the way to the first knuckle.  The one on my chin from the little dog that bit me on Christmas Eve when I was three.  Jagged and uneven.  The ones that I don't talk about faded and white on the inside of my left wrist.  Even those.  External.  It's the ones that no one can see.  The ones that line the inside of my stomach and my heart. That keep me up at night and take my breath away.  The ones that will never heal.  It is those I want to tell you about.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

"I want to say a joke about Ebola, but you probably wouldn't get it."

While working the lab during his masters program Jim was poked through his glove with a needle.  The contents of the syringe did not carry any horrible disease or blood or anything(or so they assured him) that could hurt him.  But he because obsessed.  Focused on illnesses so rare, so localized he could not possible have them.  He made them run tests, tracked symptoms and eventually dropped out of the biology program.  If he was going to die from some undetectable disease he was going to do on his terms.

He grew a beard and let his hair get long.  Went weeks without leaving his small apartment.  His friends, once concerned became distant.  No one wanted to hear about rare and fatal diseases all the time and Jim figured it was better that way...since he was a goner anyway.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

"Breathe, Journal, and Treat Yo Self!"

I had Eggs Benedict and you laughed at me because I ate the raw sugar meant for the coffee out of the bowl.  You sipped your Bloody Mary and read through the Boston Globe.  It was a Sunday morning in May and things were about to change.  But as the sunlight fought to enter the darkened dinning room we couldn't see it coming.  Could only see what was right in front of us.  The rich coffee, the flickering candle, the white tablecloth, the breakfast spread before us like a banquet for kings.  We ate in silence.  The rustling paper, the quiet din of waitstaff clearing tables and preparing for the lunch rush.  The morning was ours.  A final calm before the storm.

Monday, February 1, 2016

"Want. So. Hard."

We pulled up to the house.  For sale sign in the yard.  It was an old farm house that sat right up against the road.  But the road was amazing.  Trees that looked like they belonged in the deep south.  Farms all around.  Space and sky.  We were 30 minutes outside of the city, an hour+ commute during rush hour.  But it was quiet.  The realtor showed us through the home.  Built in the 1800's, dirt floor basement, no heat on the second floor, 5 bedrooms.  The barn, ready for animals, the shed, perfect for a workshop.  And the yard behind the house, fields as far as the eye could see with thick trees growing on either side to block out the neighbors.  I wanted to see us there...fixing up the old kitchen, getting barn cats, grilling in the back yard while the children played.  Finishing the basement floor.  Painting the chipping exterior.

But all I saw was work.  We worked 10 hour days so when would we make those changes.  You were not handy and did not need a workshop and we preferred to keep our cats inside with us.  And there were no children.  So all we would have would be bedrooms full of empty future hopes, that even as we stood looking up at the beautiful home we knew would never come to be.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

"Mittens are delicious!"

The stone steps are cold beneath me.  I can not remember how long I have been sitting here but the light is gone.  It is suppose to be spring but the season can't seem to show up.  Winter holding on too tight.  Is that what I have been doing?  Holding too tight to what I was sure I was suppose to be and not allowing something new in?  My hands are jammed in my pink coat, headphones on.  Home is the next stop.  But I know what is waiting for me there.  The silence of a life abandoned. The ghosts of movie nights and Survivor finales. Of 7 course meals and pizza deliveries.  I work as late as I can, knowing he will be ducking out early.   Each of us trying to maximize time.  Him with her. And me, anywhere but there.

Monday, January 25, 2016

"Yup... This is so me"

It was two weeks before Christmas and I had come home early from work to get ready for your clients holiday party.  Some hugely festive event held at a fancy hotel where we would get to put our dance lessons and knowledge of wine to the test against those who belonged in that world.  I had laid out my dress and shoes that morning, freshly pressed by the dry cleaner.  It was strapless, black, cinched at the waist and then flared out to right above my knee...perfect for dancing and for standing at attention next to you, perpetual arm candy.

I was getting out of the shower when you came into the bathroom.

"I bought you something." you said and as I fastened the towel around my body I imagined the necklace or earrings you might have purchased when from behind your back you pull a CVS bag.  I took it from you as though it might have contained an explosive, peering inside.  "It's a straightening iron," you said.  "For your hair.  For tonight."

And so I did.  And in the picture of us our neighbor took as we left our Beacon Hill apartment you can see the black dress, my fake smile and my perfectly straight hair.

Monday, January 18, 2016

"Don't you hate that dream where you're some sort of law enforcement, trying to protect the laundromat from being overrun by criminals? So you caught them and loaded them into the back of a pickup truck, but we're surprised when they jumped out as you went through the McDonald's drive thru?"

My dreams are filled with small moments and inside jokes. And so when I wake before the sun, before the children or the dog.  Before the carefully stocked fire has burned down. I can not remember which life I am living.  How is it possible to long for both?

This morning the snow was falling and the breaking dawn had turned the world a faded blue.  The kind of color new parents would consider for their sons nursery before choosing something more uplifting.  The air was cold on my cheeks and it took longer then it should have for me to realize I was barefoot.  The world was still, exhaling before the day began.  In a moment I will move.  Knowing only that where ever the door I open takes me, somehow it will always be a step backwards.

Monday, January 11, 2016

"Exactly"

I was walking down Bourbon Street, the noise from the bars deafening even at 4pm on a Wednesday and I felt my phone vibrate against my bra.  I was just running to the store for some milk and a pack of Marlborough Reds and the pockets in my jean skirt didn't fit my phone.  I stopped carrying a purse whenever possible months ago to reduce the risk of someone grabbing it and instead taken to tucking credit cards, keys and my phone into my bra.  I was always surprised by just how much fit.

Stepping into the shadow of a doorway to check the text message I discovered it was from you.  You who I had left behind.  You who contacted me whenever you liked, but would never return my calls.  Even when I wanted to ask you for a divorce I had to make an appointment with your secretary.  But here you were again.  Even in the shad sweat gathered on my back.  The August heat as oppressive as the smell of bleach.  "Jim Carroll died.  Was thinking about the last show we saw him perform in."

I held the phone until the screen went blank.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

"heading to teach at only 3 degrees and not even 5am, living my dream"

There was a constant flurry in the air as we walked the Cornell Campus.  Why I had thought visiting Ithaca, NY in February was a good idea at the forefronts of my mind.  Noses and cheeks pink.  Gloved hands and hat hair.  It was the beginning of so many things.

Inside an empty bar we sat across from each other.  Taking in the heat and the silence and you quoted from Hemingway's A Clean Well Lighted Place, and I remembered why I came.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

"Fairly obsessed with my new rug."

She only dated guys who loved The Big Lebowski.  It wasn't something she looked for or asked about it just sort of happened.  That somewhere around the second or third date they would drop a quote from the movie and she would realize that she was again involved with someone who held up the movie as a guide to life.  Some embraced the Dude... inspired by his simple approach.  His way of making life work for him.  Others saw themselves in Roger.  A man who gave his all to his country and his wife, long after she had left him. Others to Donny or the the Big Lebowski.

She would wonder what was in her that attracted these men.  They had little in common outside of their reverence for the movie.  Dropping quotes or making reference to the rug that "really tied the room together".  One time she had pretended she had not seen the movie and the guy had spent the rest of their dinner describing it scene by scene while they ate steak frites at a French Bistro.

Monday, January 4, 2016

"And we have a new bed time fave!"

The night air had turned cool and Jay stood by the carelessly built fire.  The school year had ended with a whimper and he relished in the last few days of freedom before he faced a long summer of working on his fathers lobster boat.  Years later, long after he had forgotten the details of the smoke filled party he would find his breath catch when The Freshman came on the radio.  He would be reminded just for a moment what had happened that had set the course of his life.  He could track back every bad decision, every wrong turn to that night.

He saw her, as he held his hands over the fire, shirt incorrectly button emerging from the shadows.  She was shaky on her feet and he was pissed because she was suppose to be his.  Not his girlfriend.  He had one of those with beautiful hair and grace.  But his play thing and somehow tonight her attention had turned elsewhere.  He tucked his blond hair behind his ear and watched through the side of his eye as his best friend took advantage of the moment.  Collecting her and holding up.  Leading her away from the party.

The first decision that led him off course, was the one to follow them.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

"Bye bye Carolina"

"It's OK if you cry," he said.  And so I did.  I cried with my face buried in his naked back.  I cried while the moon rose and his breath evened into sleep.  I cried as I grasped his hand and as the garbage truck lumbered down Mt. Vernon street.  I cried as the street lights turned off and dawn broke across our bed.

Our bed.  The one we had shared since I was 19.  Our bed.  The one that had seen 3 moves.  The one we bought with money I got as gifts for my college graduation.  Our bed.  The one I would never again share with him.  The one, in a few hours, I would dissemble with the special tools LL Bean gives you and pack into the back of a Penske truck. My bed.

By the time he stirred I wasn't crying anymore.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

"We are some of the worst drivers in the country but we do have a sense of humor;)"

The ice storm in 1998 hit Maine during Christmas break.  Home from college you and I were suddenly kept apart by mother nature herself instead of just distance.  Whose idea was it to flee southern Maine for the mountains?  Tucked together in my mother's green Subaru we drove snowmobile trails to avoid downed power lines and sang along to the radio, windows down. We arrived at Sugarloaf to find the resort all but abandoned and were able to rent a condo for nearly nothing.  It felt like some grown up dream.  As though you and I had a future together instead of series of short affairs in between other relationships and trips home from school.

We built a fire and held each other while the storm covered the state in ice so thick it looked like glass.  A reflection of what life might have been in the cards had been dealt differently.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

"I have a spare for Parquet Courts tonight. Anybody?"

Remember in high school we had that fight and you walked away.  You were the first person I had ever told about what had happened.  It seemed safe because it had happened to you too.  When my mom picked me up from school I was crying and she drove me to find you and on the side of Route 1 we fought for another hour.  My feet were frozen in my sneakers and we ran out of cigarettes and I didn't understand why we were fighting since I was sure you were the only person who could understand me.

When you went away for two weeks a month later you wrote me 14 letters, one for each day you were gone, and I did the same.  Some puppy dog love attempt to stay connected over a period of time that felt like forever to our 15 year old selves. Do you remember the moment you knew it was over?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

"Clam chowda with lobsta roll love New England"

I am standing in my kitchen trying to figure out why I bought shallots.  I haven't cooked with them in years.  Since I stood in a large kitchen with a black and white checkerboard floor and a marble fireplace.  There, I used them more then regular onions.  Maybe because Whole Foods charged more for them and so they seemed more valuable.  But they were always in my kitchen.  At the ready for dishes of roasted vegetables.  For steak marinated. For quiches and side dishes.  For a person I know longer knew.

And so it must have been instinct or habit that led me to put them in my cart.  I didn't even realize I had purchased them until I got the groceries home and unloaded.  There in my kitchen with laminate wood floors and a large breakfast bar, amidst the whines from my toddlers for lunch, I found them.  Tucked away with the string beans.  I hold them tight in my hand for a moment.  I roll them over remembering the feeling of them.  Of then.

Before I drop them into the trash.

Friday, December 11, 2015

"Oscar the grouch revisited."

He puts on Pandora.  Trying to fill the empty space of our home with music.  For him, it is background noise.  Something to break the hard edges of silence.  For me, it is the soundtrack of my life playing.  Every song conjuring a moment.

Songs that bring memories of mornings spent sobbing in the shower.  Trying to convince myself, that someday the pain will become something I can live with.  Memories of my CD Walkman headphones, walking up Revere Street so sure that where I was heading was where I suppose to be going.  Driving over the bridge, the city of New Orleans behind me, the East breaking through the sunrise and fog, cigarette burning, radio on loud.  The walk home through Downtown Crossing where every step felt like I was both running away and towards something all at once.  Broken dishes. Loud voices. Expensive wine. Sleepless nights. Sushi. Abandoned dreams. New Orleans, Boston, Maine, Savannah, Virginia, Manchester, Pensacola, California, Ohio.

Memories of the person I used to be, regrets of who I am and the knowledge that I can not change a thing. That I can never go back.

The song switches again.  I am 18, walking home drunk through the Boston Common.  Trying to convince myself that I wasn't doing the walk of shame.  That it has been my choice to leave your warm bed at 3am.  That everything was going to be OK.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

"14 years ago. Wow. Check us out."

At night when darkness settles around her like a blanket, and the kids are nestled in their beds.  When her husband is asleep and re-runs of Law and Order generate a constant stream of chatter to fill the silence.  She sits alone in a room that has never felt like home. A throw with woven images of Bethel from a lifetime ago covering her legs and a laptop keyboard never far from her fingers.  She fights hopelessness with every key stroke. Answers emails with vision blurred by tears.  She clenches her teeth against the rising tide of anger that fills her chest. Swallows down the resentment. Not just of today or last year. But of years wasted.

Out the window the sky is filled with small blinking stars.  Without thinking she starts to say the old childhood rhyme..."star light, star bright..." and then she remembers that most of the stars she can see burned out thousands of years before.  And that wishes don't come true anyway.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

"Good advice. Not something you can rush..."

From her well appointed apartment on Mt. Vernon Street in Beacon Hill she could see down Walnut Street to the skating pond on the Boston Common.  It was a Sunday afternoon and the pond was covered with kids while their parents sipped Starbucks coffee and tried to shake off the post holiday malaise.  The holiday lights and good tidings replaced by the monotonous gray of January.  She was seated on her floor at the foot of her Christmas tree meticulously removing, wrapping and sorting each ornament.

This one was hers, her mother had bought it for her when she was 10.  A wooden gymnast captured in perpetual motion on the uneven bars.  This one was his, the Star Trek emblem his mother had made him when he was a child.  Hers, the glass unicorn from her youth, his the Mickey Mouse made into a nutcracker.  Theirs, the glass ball they had bought in Disneyland Paris.  Theirs, the "Our First Christmas" heart hung on a red ribbon he had bought for their first Christmas together.  The year they spent tucked in the Kenmore Square apartment shared with two friends.

How do you divide memories?  Divorce papers not filed yet and her husband of 7 years seated in a leather recliner watching football, but they both knew.  Both knew what they could not say.  That it was their last Christmas as a married couple.  That the next time boxes of Christmas ornaments were opened they would not be together.  That years after this moment one of them would unwrap one of those shared ornaments and surrounded by new families, a new spouse they would pause before carefully re-wrapping the memory in tissue paper and pack it away.  That there would be no place on the new tree for it.

2016- Back to Basics

My attempt at character writing in 2015 was not a success.  Mostly because I failed to devote the time necessary to create what was in my head.  The idea has not been abandoned and I am determined to create the story and characters I envisioned a year ago.

In the meantime we are going back to basics.  I am returning the original intent of this blog.  Capturing moments and memories inspired by Facebook posts.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

"Do you ever feel like you spend so much time running in circles that you're going to wear out the ground and fall right through?"

Heather Morris was 17 and a senior in high school.  She had dark brown hair that she worked very hard to straighten in the morning.  Her parents had certain expectations of her... that she would get good grades, date nice boys, go to college, look nice.  She had grown up in the exclusive Windsor Heights section of town.  That was if any part of this town could be exclusive.  The houses were big and all of the them had gotten cars for their 16th birthdays.  Her parents were college educated and if they wanted a drink they drove to the nearby city to have one.  It would have never occurred to them to stop by the bar on the way into town.

But Heather liked her friends that didn't live in Windsor Heights better.  She liked to hang out at their homes while their parents worked.  To smoke cigarettes in their living rooms.  It was like breaking the rules but not breaking the rules.  She felt so much pressure to succeed...that people like Kaylee didn't seem to experience.    Like there was a peace that came with knowing you would never leave this town.   It was not at Heather wanted to stay here forever, she had dreams that would take her far beyond the town line.  But the pressure her parents put on her to leave was crushing most days.  If this was such a bad place to be then why did they move here?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

"Yes. And on that note I shall shut my eyes and look forward to a better day tomorrow, a new beginning."

Kaylee was 16 and knew the way some people knew they would be singers or preachers or veterinarians that she would never leave this town.  Her mother rented a 2 bedroom apartment across the street from the towny bar on the way into town.  From the small window above the sink she would watch aging home town heros come out for smoke breaks.  Like a real live music video for that song that she could never remember the name of.  Was it Hero or Glory Days? When she would stick her head in to see when her mom would be coming home the regulars would say she looked just like her. Same auburn hair, green eyes, sad smile. She looked so much like her mom that no one could even remember who her father was anymore.  Was is Bobby, her mom's long time high school boyfriend. Homecoming king and football star?  Or Reggie the science teacher everyone was sure her mother had slept with. 

She searched these men's eyes for the truth of how she had come to be.  But in Bobby's sunken dark eyes, clouded with alcohol and in Reggie ' s hidden behind glasses so thick he must be blind she saw nothing.  When she had Reggie for biology last year the town gossip had gone wild, but he had never acknowledged her as anything but a C student.  She hoped her looks could land her a husband but her legs were so long they looked like toothpicks under her dress and it seemed the one thing she had not gotten from her mother was her ample chest.  She was clumsy, plain, and just smart enough to know she wasn't smart enough.

Friday, January 9, 2015

"Chill airs and wintry winds! My ear has grown familiar with your song; I hear it in the opening year, I listen, and it cheers me long."

Jay was turning 40.  His brown hair was still a deep chestnut with not a hint of gray.  His pale blue eyes , that if had been a teenager today he would been accused wearing colored contacts were just as bright as when he was young.   After a decade in Long Beach working at a surf shop he had come home to be closer to his family.  Bringing with him his common law wife and 3 daughters.  He was nervous about coming back.

He had talked to Abercrombie and Fitch before he came back and had his final interview to be an assistant store manger the day after he arrived.  The manager had told him he couldn't ask him how old he was but to let the staff know he was in his late 20s.  So he traded the sunlight and sand of the surf shop for the windowless, strangely lit storeroom in the old town library.  He knew his healthy tan would soon be gone.  And that by returning he would too.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

"That is one happy boy!!"

Ida lived on the same street as the high school.  In the 50 years she had lived there she had seen a lot of changes.  When the weather was warm she liked to take her afternoon tea onto her front pourch.  In her house coat and slippers she would watch the school day come to a close.   Some students would walk by and wave.  More would rev their engines as they passed. The car models changing from sports cars to trucks from Ford's to Toyota's. 

The school had grown in the number of students and in size. She had lived through the construction of the new auditorium, the raising of the football goals.  And the fashions. ..from the bralsss dresses of the 60's to the bell bottoms, the big hair, grunge and belly shirts.  And all the while Ida wore the house coat and slippers. While she was on the pourch with her tea.  When went to the end of the driveway for the mail.  Destined to always be just on the outside.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bliss.

Chris had always thought she would leave this town.  When she was 18 and thin it seemed  like there might be hope for her. But genetics and time had not been her friend.  And now this was where her kids went to school. Walked the same halls she had.  Took Chemistry from the same teacher.  While she struggled  to make ends meet with her job as a teller at the bank on Maine Street, and struggled to get ahead by taking classes online after the kids went to bed.

Her only relief was when she slept. Her amber hair fanned out behind her, streaks of gray reminding her that she is no longer young.  But when she dreamed it was of someone she had never met.  She met him when he seated her at a restaurant that had been created from a converted barn. She was sure she was in her home town but could not seem to place the barn in the geography of the town.  He was handsome but still approachable and she was sure that he was both above her and beneath her all at once.  She was eating alone and he had walked her back to a quiet table by a barn window.  She was wearing a skirt which was how she knew it was a dream...her waking self would never show her spider vein covered calfs.

In her dream through stolen glances and the touch of a hand she felt something stir deep in her gut.  A feeling so far removed from her normal life she thought it was indegestion at first.

When she woke the emptiness was greater. She could hear the kids making a mess of the kitchen and the dog scratching to go out.  Her only hope for the day was she  would see him again tonight when she slept.  That maybe on her drive to the bank this morning she might noticed a building she had never seen before.  That somewhere in this town was a man she could fall in love with.  Someone who could look past the extra 50 pounds and glasses. The stretch markets and GED.  That there was still hope for her.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"This was super thick fog! It was really weird, and beautiful!"

Colin worked on a lobster boat.  His tall, thin frame had slowly built up muscle in his arms and neck.  He had a perfect farmers tan from his time on the boat and he always had a perpetual white line at the very top of his forehead from his Red Sox hat he used to keep the sun off the spot he knows he is thinning on the top of his head.  He didn't talk as much as he had back in high school.  Losing his college scholarship and having to come back to this town a failure stood in too stark of a contrast to how he left as a hero.  He didn't want to be a boat captain, was happy to be part of a team.  Contributing when he needed to but filling the day hauling and setting traps.  At the end of the week he would tuck his earnings into a Folgers Crystals can.  A slit cut into the cop of the plastic lid.

He rented an apartment made from the converted hay loft of a barn that one of his friend's parents owned.  He spent the summer months with no shirt on and the winter months wearing a ski cap, but it was cheap and no one bothered him and it was home.  In the mirror he did not recognize the man who looked back at him.  He couldn't trace the path of his wrinkles from yesterday to today.  He would hang up his ball cap and rub the salt water out of his eyes and look again.  But the image never changed.

Monday, January 5, 2015

"How could I ever discipline this?!"

Ms. Yellow had been a teacher in the town for more than 20 years.  She had grown up in Northern Maine, went to college at the University of Maine, Fort Kent and had never been south or west of Boston.  She was new in town when she took the English position but had added friends and a husband along the way.  She had also added lines on her face, and spotty memories of students who seemed to come and go like dreams.

When she started she wore her blond hair in lose curls, held half up in a clip with her bangs curled and hair sprayed into a pompom poof.  But even though she came by being a blond naturally when she started to go gray she dyed her hair a light brown and cut it into a bob more suited for NYC then rural Maine.  Sometimes she would paint her nails a deep red and watch her fingers while she typed papers for the online Master's program she had enrolled in.  Sometimes she would close her eyes while she sipped her coffee and imagine that she was somewhere exotic drinking a coffee she couldn't pronounce.

What kept her teaching was not her success stories.  The straight A students who went on to escape Maine winters for colleges in places like Virginia, Miami and Southern California.  It was not the students who challenged her in class, forcing her to re-think her positions on things and pushing her out of her comfort zone.  It was the ones she failed.  The ones who came with so much promise and so much trouble.  The ones who carried scars behind their eyes and who she knew were screaming.  She had become a teacher to reach those students...but there was usually not enough time in the day and she could never seem to do enough.  It was them she tracked on Facebook or through Google searches long after they left school by dropping out or graduating.  The ones she could have done more for, but for whatever reason didn't.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

"No phone till Friday. Yikes"

In high school Justin had a bowl haircut.  It was in fashion in the early 90's and was a good fit for his straight blond hair.  He had been the middle school king.  Tall, handsome and smart enough.  Dated the most beautiful girl, popular, a star on the soccer field, the basketball court and the lacrosse field.  When he looked back now he was pretty sure he peaked in 8th grade.  Things fell apart pretty quickly once he got into high school...an unplanned pregnancy, failing grades and so no one was surprised by him when he dropped out in 10th grade to go and work on a lobster boat.  His hands now rough and calloused from more then 20 years on the water.  From pulling traps and blistering sun.  His blond hair in a buzz cut and always kept under a baseball hat.

When he would meet up with his friends, most of whom he had known his whole life what surprised them most was how little regret he had.  The boy born while he was in high school, JJ was 21 now, and he had joined his father on the lobster boat.  They lived together in a 2 bedroom cottage home along route one.  An old motel converted into a series of small apartment rentals.  They would go together most nights to the bar on the way into town.  Drink a Bud Light or two while Sammy sloppily pole danced against a wooden beam and the Red Sox game played on in mute.

He only had one regret.  And it was the one he was pretty sure he was being punished for.  It was such a small moment when he left her in the back of the pick-up truck.  Later, when that band put out that crappy soft rock song "we were merely freshman" it would make his chest seize when it came on the radio.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

"Broke down and hired a monthly house cleaner...and feeling pretty damn good about it!"

When Em returned to New Orleans in a few months she would move in with her boyfriend who had already secured them a small Creole house deep in the Quarter.  Em's family had been living in the area since they came over from France generations ago.  She was a shining example of southern wealth.  Everything about her was understated but yet old money seemed to drip from her.  Currently a senior at an almost Ivy League school hidden amongst the snow banks of New England her heritage was unimpressive to her classmates. No matter how perfect her black hair looked, how straight and white her teeth were, how well spoken she was.  Here amongst the Mayflower set she was a second class citizen.

She had learned in her 3 years at the school to quiet her voice.  Even though she did not have a southern accent persee, there was something in her tone that made her stand out.  She had joined a soreity that had deep roots in the south and it was here and only here where she felt as she belonged.   She had 6 months left of her senior year but her mind and heart was already living in that small cottage on St. Ann Street.  Where coffee came with chickery and she knew her place.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Facebook tells me that 2 years ago I posted a picture of Baxter "easing" into 2013 - I wanted to assure you that nothing much has changed;)

Sammy rented a trailer on the edge of town.  It wasn't in one of those fancy parks with cable hookups and community picnic tables.  She couldn't afford that luxury.  She had grown up here.  Her parents living in one of the expensive neighborhoods and then they left.  She still wasn't sure how at 35 she had ended up back here.  Her hair was long and blond like it had been in high school but instead of looking shinny and healthy it looked broken and frizzy.  Too much hair dye maybe? Too many years in the Florida sun?

Her fingernails were bitten to the quick.  Her eyes sunken and sallow. No one ever carded her when she bought her smokes.  She would like to blame her absent, alcoholic parents. Or the boy she thought she loved.  When the weather was nice she would sit outside the door to the pale green trailer and watch the road leading into town.  The makeshift ashtray made from a Folger can by her feet. A bottle of white wine between her knees. She had given up on using glasses long ago.

When night fell she would sometimes make her way to the bar on the road into town. Most nights it was the same crowd, the losers from her high school who back then she didn't give a second look to and now she would give bjs in the bathroom for a drink. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

"its that time of year again. don't let that stop you from paying a call, just don't forget your gloves"

James worked his whole life on the family farm.  His hair was gray around the edges and his skinned lined and leathery from the sun.  His hands scarred and calloused for years of work ached with early  stages of arthritis.    When he walked he preferred his right side. A suspicious fall from the barn loft as a teenager leaving him slightly lame.  He was at his best in a large group, telling tall tales about his farm, his life. 

He lived in an outbuilding on the far end of the bean field.  His parents still occupying the main house.  And when January came and brought the snow he would walk a half mile through deep drifts to the barn where he would catch a ride with one of the draft horses the rest of the way to the main house...and the driveway where his car was parked. 

2015- The Year of the Character

In 2014 I focused on writing short stories inspired by the Facebook posts of my friends.  It was a mostly fun, sometimes exhausting and occasionally illuminating project.  The challenge I have given to myself for 2015 is to write 365 character descriptions again inspired by the posts of my friends on Facebook.  I am seeking to place all of these characters in one town in Maine.

Like my work in 2014 these will be mostly short and will not be about the persons whose post I have selected.  Instead, in only a few paragraphs I will seek to bring to life a fictional character.  If I do it well you may feel as though you just ran into an old friend, or had a good laugh with the server behind the counter.  It is the challenge to, without the benefit of visual imagery or context of a story to create a compelling character that you wish you knew, are sure you are friends with or hope you never cross the path of.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Wrap-Up

I didn't make my goal...but hey...I fail a lot and I'm OK with that.  What follows this post are the short stories I wrote in 2014 inspired by the Facebook posts of my friends.  A selection have been accepted for publication and will be available for purchase in paperback later this year.