Sep 10 2015

reaching for the middle

Maizey knew secrets about everybody. She wasn’t the town gossip, quite, because she only ever listened—no one’s deepest fears ever passed her lips. Instead, she was a sponge, and felt herself grow heavy with whispers and confessions, felt herself expanding with fertile wish and hopeless error. Some days her head tilted to one side with the weight of it all.

But that never stopped her, never kept her from patting a shoulder and asking all the right questions. This was her purpose, her role in life, and she’d never once questioned the wisdom or the burden of her gift. At night, she planted these secrets like seeds, and then she waited. And every morning there were flowers. Morning glory and nasturtium, rose and daisy, snapdragon and alyssum.

In her mind she knew their real names, Fred and Ruth, Shannon and Cindy, Brittany and Brian, but she liked to think of them as blooms, growing up through life’s soil.

She liked to water them with tears and open them with sunshine. She was happy to keep their truths hidden underground.

She was happy to be the gardener.





Aug 27 2015

alone in the forest of grief
{snippets and stories #7}

Because that’s where she felt most alive. When she’d said that to Stuart he snorted a little, not mocking, really, but clearly not understanding. Still, he hadn’t said a word, just walked back down into the cellar, and pretty soon she’d heard the sound of his saw. She knew then he wasn’t thinking about her any longer, he was thinking about getting that shelf finished for old Mrs. Lattimore.

She wished she had a hobby to distract her, or a project. She wished she could read. But her eyes had got so bad in the past few years that mostly all she did was sit in the rocking chair closest to the fire and listen to herself growing old.

Her body was betraying her after all these years, forgetting how to do all the things she’d once taken for granted. But she didn’t feel old on the inside. She still felt young and stupid and naive. And most of the time, she felt scared.

Every day she tried to rock herself a little farther away from this place where she’d lived all her life. She always thought she and Stuart would travel once they retired, but she knew now that she was stuck here, in this house, in this chair, in this creaky old body.

But that never stopped her from going places in her mind. Just this week she’d been to Spain and Paris and even Cuba, following Hemingway around in her mind.

She always ended up right back in her own living room though, staring down at someone else’s gnarled, spotted, wrinkled hands.

But sometimes, when she came back around, she was smiling.





Aug 25 2015

the tunnel is the frame
{snippets and stories #6}

Without the darkness, we would never appreciate the light. At least that’s what you said when you took my hand and pulled me in.

We still had to walk through all those cobwebs though, me holding my breath the whole way and you pretending not to be scared. I heard water dripping and my imagination slithered a little beneath my feet, but I kept heading for the green I could see in the pinprick of light I named Beacon.

Funny how we didn’t make it, you and I, somewhere along the way our paths split apart and there I was, alone in the tunnel of love, up the proverbial creek without a paddle. I had a feeling that you’d planned it that way, planned to leave me in the blackest of shadows so you couldn’t see my eyes when you walked away. I only called your name out once, and when you didn’t answer, I stopped moving, just for a moment. I heard a splash and then silence, and I waited as it settled down around me. I knew it was time to make my own noise, and I guess I forgot to tell you that I’ve never been afraid of the dark.

I walked for an hour and then started singing—a song my father used to sing when I was young, something about a bicycle built for two—and far away, I heard you laughing. Or maybe I heard my own echo, I’m not quite sure.

I made a choice that day, a choice you forced, but I’m the one that made it. I came out of that tunnel with my head held high, refusing to cower.

I always was good at lessons.

Every so often, I think I hear it again, that faint, faded giggle, skittering across the floor. I never think it’s you though, not anymore. I think it’s the string of strength I pulled myself out with, playing cat games with these memories. I think it’s my heart, volunteering to walk through the darkness to find maybe one or two more.






Aug 20 2015

my heart worn smooth
by the shore of your fingers
{snippets and stories #5}

I found another rock the day you planned to leave me, white granite, sharp-edged, palm-sized, set down right in the center of my path like a gift or an offering or a message.

It felt just right in my hand, too, as if it had lived there once, forever, and then been lost. Later, I buried it beneath the pine in the corner of the yard, embedded in a sea of needles.

And even though it was a rock, it took root and grew beneath the surface, became a boulder. I know, because I tried to dig it up once, I spent a day on my knees with a pick and a spade until finally, at dusk, I gave up and filled it all back in, tamping down and spreading smooth the bed of my discomfort.

I slept beneath the stars that night, too tired to move and too silent to care, refusing to listen. The sky whispered lies and the stars held their arms up high like a prayer or a promise or a salutation.

I kept my cheek pressed to the earth, kissing gravity in gratitude for holding me in place, the rock beneath me still warm from the sun of exposure.

In the morning I went inside, boiled water for tea and sat in the chair by the window, already forgetting about rocks and love and heartache, my head filled with dark sparkling stories.




Linking in over at dVersePoets for Open Link Night today, join us!

Aug 18 2015

veins and verities
{snippets and stories #4}

I was thinking the other day about the way you used to mock the girl who fancied herself a writer. (It wasn’t me). And that made me wonder if you ever wrote anything at all, and I guessed the answer to be no.

I’m glad we never run into each other, glad there’s no need to fill awkward silences with pleasantries as we stand on dirty sidewalks. Besides, you wouldn’t recognize me, I’ve become a new person three times since we last met. Just now, I’m becoming another.

I’ve still got that chink in my side and those veins on my legs, but I think I’ve grown a bit taller. My knees are wrinkled and my lips are crinkled and I’m still holding hope like a seed.

I planted the moon a long time ago, watched it vine up the side of one leg. It only ever bloomed in the dark, and I laughed at how quickly we twisted.

You ran away from my laughter and I howled until tears lit my face.

That was my very first garden.





Aug 13 2015

straight man
{snippets and stories #2}

“I saw a murder of crows on my way home tonight. They all lived.”

You laughed when I said that, the way you always do when I make a stupid joke, because that’s what you do when you love someone. You laugh, even when you’d rather be sitting outside beneath a sun that always tells the truth. But you can’t hold the sky, no matter how wide your arms open.

So let it go, leave it for the crows. They know how to blend with the shadows and disguise the clouds, they know how to rise above it. They know, too, that even flight is a means to an end, and we all need a nest to rest in.

Laugh. Toss your voice up high and let it fly. And carry me home the way that you do, all strong and silent and compromised.

The stars are falling.




Aug 11 2015

remembering to forget
{snippets and stories #1}

i bend to retrieve the slip of paper you dropped last time you were here, tucked beneath the corner of the bed, forgotten in a sea of dust. it’s a list and it’s nothing but you wrote it:




and i wonder if you remembered all three when you went to the store, or if you forgot the razors, and were you planning to make chicken piccata for dinner?

i can’t remember when it was that you were here. six months ago? eight? i can’t remember the last time you were there, either.

later, after i’d cleaned the floor, swept and mopped and made the bed, i put the list back where i’d found it, just to have one thing that made sense.




May 31 2014

sometimes life leaves a
bad taste in your mouth
{story a day}

Myrna Bellweather sank her teeth into the slice of watermelon the aide, that one named Corinne, had set before her. It tasted just the way she thought it was going to: day-old and mushy, and something like biting into water. She pushed the plate away and struggled up out of her chair to head back to her room, muttering to herself as she went.

“Can’t even get a decent slice of watermelon around here.”

Corinne placed her hand on the rail of Myrna’s walker. “What’d you say, Myrna? Where you headed, anyway?”

“I’m going back to my room. The food here sucks.”

Corinne let go of the walker and snorted at the same time. “Fine, go on then, I’ll come fetch you for dinner.”

“My dad grew the best watermelon in Munion County. My mom’s pickled rinds won the blue ribbon at the fair five years in a row. That plateful of air you just set before me is an insult.”

And she headed down the hall, quick, before Corinne could see that she’d worked herself up into a crying jag. The thing was, she knew it wasn’t just this place. Fred had been bringing melon home from the grocery store for years, always thinking he was bringing her a gift, and they all tasted the same way. Empty. Nobody had gardens anymore, and the stuff from the store had been grown a thousand miles away with all the flavor bred out of it in exchange for portability.

Fred had been gone four years now, and that was the last time anyone had brought her a melon, even if it was a tasteless one. Then just last week, Joey had brought her here, to this place. He’d told her it had to be done after she fell getting out of the bathtub, and then he’d sold the house and set her up in this situation he called perfect, and went right on back to Michigan.

Myrna struggled to open the door to her room, which was way too heavy, and shuffled her way over to the big chair by the window. She had a nice view of the parking lot, and she was still surprised by how seldom anyone new pulled up for a visit. She also had a view of the sign out front. Greener Pastures. That still made her laugh every time she sat down, though not in a good way. What kind of a jackass comes up with a name like that for an old folks home?

She sat there for the rest of the afternoon, waiting, though she couldn’t have said for what.

All she could think about was her and Fred out on the boat that one afternoon when they were just teenagers. He kept spitting watermelon seeds in her direction, and she just kept right on pretending to ignore him, turning her face up to the sun like he wasn’t even there.

She wished he was here just now, she’d let him spit all the seeds he wanted, even if they were inside.

Hell, she might even spit some back.


Story A Day: One last story at the end of a month that got away from me. But I enjoyed the process when I could carve out the time for stories.
Today’s prompt was Endings and Beginnings. Which seemed like a fine way to end the month. Thanks so much for reading.





May 22 2014

{story a day}

Dear Liza,

There’s a hole in the bucket. I know that doesn’t sound like much of a problem, but the water’s been off for two weeks now because the pipe that burst still isn’t fixed. I’ve been walking down to the spigot at the end of the lane several times a day, just to get the basics taken care of. Trust me when I tell you that nobody wants to be the person who bumps into me on my morning trip, before I’ve had my coffee. Also, I haven’t had a proper bath in 15 days. (Yes, I’m counting.)

Now I have nothing to carry water in. I’ve tried several times, but by the time I get back to the house, most of the water has leaked out, even if I walk as fast as I can. This is ridiculous. You promised you’d have someone here to fix it by last Tuesday. Please advise.



Dear Henry,

I can’t believe you wrote me a letter to tell me there’s a hole in the bucket. Walk your lazy butt down to the store and get yourself a new one. I’ll reimburse you when you pay next month’s rent. Then again, I won’t be holding my breath waiting for that to happen, because you still haven’t paid last month’s. Or the month before that. Maybe instead of spending all your time carrying water, you should think about looking for a job.

By the way, I haven’t sent anyone to fix the pipe yet because Darren broke his collarbone, and Fred’s had the flu. I’m sorry you’re being so inconvenienced, but I’ve got my hands full just now. You should see how much laundry I have to do every day, just to keep up with the twins’ diapers. And that’s not to mention Jordy’s play clothes. Life isn’t easy, that’s a fact. If you want to take a bath you can come over here. I’ve got a stack of ironing piled up to the ceiling, the garden hasn’t been weeded in weeks, and I’m almost out of firewood. A pair of extra hands would come in handy.



Dear Liza,

I’m really sorry to hear about Darren and Fred. I didn’t know you were having so many troubles of your own, sometimes I get to thinking it’s just me that’s miserable, up here on this hill all alone, and everybody else is just peachy. I’ve been thinking of looking for a job, but right now’s not a good time, especially since all my clothes are dirty.

I’ll figure something out about the water, there’s a couple a bowls in the cupboard that might work. Thanks for your kind invitation, but I wouldn’t want to impose on your household and keep you from your work.

And I know just what you mean, I find myself wishing for an extra hand or two often, just think how much easier life would be! Heck, if I had more hands and a couple more buckets, I’d be able to make fewer trips down to that spigot.

Listen to us, just a couple of dreamers.

Anyway, please send someone to fix the pipes when you can, as things are getting a little ripe around here, if you get my meaning.

Dirty Henry


Dear Henry,

You’re not so good at taking a hint are you?

I’ve got two extra buckets here if you want to come and get them. Maybe while you’re at it, you could chop some wood for me and we could deduct some money off your back rent. I gotta tell you though, Fred’s just about had it. Yesterday he told me he thinks you’re a freeloader. And even though I told him not to talk that way about my brother, I didn’t have much to back up my argument, especially after I’d mentioned that you said no when I asked you for some help.

So now I’m just gonna come right out and say it: I’ll be expecting you by Wednesday at the latest. I need help and you need the work. Fred’s still real sick and I’m exhausted. Ain’t nobody going to get to those pipes for a long time. In fact, Fred’s thinking it might be best to just put the old place up for sale, it being more work than it’s worth and all.

Make sure you clear out all the food and close the place up nice and tight before you come, okay? Clean everything up, too, I hate finding a mess when I walk into a place.

Oh, and can you bring granny’s old silver along with you? I think I’m going to take it down to Old Bart’s and sell it off, we sure could use the extra cash right now.

‘Til Wednesday,


Dear Liza,

It pains me to tell you that I took Granny’s silver into town a few months ago. I polished it up real nice before I took it down, and Bart gave me a real good price. I bought myself that nice pair of boots I’d had my eye on for a while, which is a good thing now that I’m doing all this walking back and forth to carry water.

I found a few more bowls, and even an old milk jug, so I’m getting along just fine. I even rigged myself up a little shower with the garden hose and the rain barrel, so you don’t need to worry about me. Tell Fred I said hello, and I hope he’s feeling good again soon. I’ll mention your troubles to old Jakes when he brings me the mail, maybe he’ll know of a girl who could come and help you out for awhile.

But don’t you worry about me, none, I’ll be fine.

Things are good,


Dear Henry,

Well, if that doesn’t just take the cake! Momma always said you were too lazy for your own good, and now I can see she was right.

Just so’s you know, Fred’s feeling better, and tomorrow he’s going to see Mr. Witherspoon about putting Granny’s house up for sale. He’ll be sending you a letter telling you how soon you need to be out. Please make sure the place isn’t a mess, I don’t want to be embarrassed on top of being mad as a hornet.

Oh, and be sure to leave your rent money, plus whatever you made when you sold off Granny’s silver. It says right in her will that the house and everything in it belongs to me.

Just because you already squandered everything Momma left you doesn’t mean you’re gonna live off me and Fred. Don’t write me anymore of your stupid letters, neither. You live less than a mile away. If you got something to say to me, quit being a coward and walk down here and say it to my face.

By the way, George Garrett is coming by tomorrow to fix the pipe. Please throw away that useless bucket.

Have a nice life,


I’ve signed up for A Story A Day’s May challenge, which is to write a short piece of fiction every day. I don’t think I’ll be posting every day, but I will be writing, and I’ll post whatever seems worthy.
The prompt for this was “Write An Epistolary Story.” I have no idea why Liza and Henry popped into my head, except that I used to love that song when I was a little girl. I thought I’d have a little fun with it.










May 17 2014

{story a day}

You find yourself sitting in a chair at midnight, the tail end of a fire glowing in the woodstove, and you can’t remember how you got there. There was beer and a shot of tequila, toasted to an imaginary clink, and music: Neil Young and the Indigo Girls and then Cowboy Junkies. And tears, there were lots of tears, your head still feels like a lazy balloon, one whose skin has grown too thick for popping.

A throb in your left heel reminds you of the broken teapot, the one that belonged to your grandmother, the tiny shard you’d stepped on despite sweeping the floor three times, the blood, the cursing of a loss you hadn’t known you’d feel, the lack of band-aids in a medicine cabinet that never seemed to hold anything but regret.

The window is open to one of those nights with just the right amount of breeze sliding in through your dirty lace curtains at exactly the perfect temperature, and the only sound is the triple-layered cacophony of frogs having a party down at the swamp. The word raucous keeps pinging through your mind.

You don’t move. Because you know that as soon as you move, something else will go wrong, and then your heart will slide too far to the right and the weeping will begin again. So you sit there, rigid, silent, and let the night air feather your skin. You think about nothing and everything, and after awhile, you can’t tell which is which. The darkness gets darker and you wrap yourself in folds of ink. Words tattoo your skin, news of floods and murder, corruption and deceit, who wore what dress to a party no one’s ever invited to.

And then, you dream. There’s a forest and a radio playing softly, somewhere in the distance of the room you’re still in. The trees disappear, or rather, dissolve into bars. The window shrinks, and moves up the wall before you have time to grab on, and then you can no longer reach the ledge, or see anything but a tiny square of sky.

There’s one star there, peeking in at you, but without companions, you can’t name it. This makes you laugh to yourself. A giggle bubbles up from your belly and you know that if you open your mouth, you will roar.

And then there you are, back in your living room and it’s late enough that the sky is beginning to lighten. You know you should go to bed, but somehow, this night was meant for chair sleeping. Window dreaming. Sob releasing. You shift, slightly, to give the foot you’ve crossed beneath your hips some blood. That tingle, the one that lets you know you’re still alive, rises up through your ankle.

Somewhere far off you hear a robin, pecking at the edges of the sun, trying hard to hurry dawn into dressing. Another day. There’s always one more.

The floor is clean this morning. You think maybe you should scrub it with your tears more often. You love the way it feels beneath your feet.


I’ve signed up for A Story A Day’s May challenge, which is to write a short piece of fiction every day. I don’t think I’ll be posting every day, but I will be writing, and I’ll post whatever seems worthy.
The prompt for this was “second person, awkward.”