Thursday, October 31, 2013

injaynesworld it's "Not Just A Halloween Tale..."

It was the one day when she could roam the neighborhood streets just like any other child with no notice taken of the rags draping her tiny frame; her shoes, much too large, stiff and warped by rain, the laces long gone; her hair, once the color of the sun, now a dirt-encrusted mass of mats and tangles.  Bright Eyes, she was called by the others who camped under the bridge at the edge of town and, indeed, her large green eyes shone like those of the cats who kept the river rats at bay.   No one knew where she had come from for she did not speak, but she was one of them now and being a child afforded her no special privileges.

She blended in easily with the witches, goblins and zombies who roamed the streets that night – beggars welcomed with a bounty of sweet treats – and eagerly scooped up the unwanted apples thoughtlessly discarded by children who had never felt the painful knots of an empty stomach.  These she would devour on the spot, letting the golden juice run down her chin, leaving sticky tracks of sweetness in its wake.

Inside the houses were grownups eager to join in the night’s fun:  “Look at this little ragamuffin, honey,” they would say, laughing as they tossed a candy bar – sometimes two – into her outstretched bag.    

As the hour grew late, she watched the others return to the safety of their warm, clean homes where, costumes removed, they would once again transform into the children of privilege who would taunt her with words and stones should she emerge from her world and dare to enter theirs. 

But for this one night – these few hours – she was one of them.

From the prompt “Costume” at One-Minute Writer.

Monday, October 28, 2013

injaynesworld we are "Plunged Into Darkness..."

Or so it seems this time of year when the days, incrementally growing shorter quite nicely all on their own, suddenly start leaking light at 4:30 and leap off into an abyss of total darkness at five o’clock as they will a week from now when daylight savings time ends.
I do not take kindly to abrupt change of any sort, but I’m especially sour on the idea of losing an hour of daylight.  Yes, I know it’s an hour that, according to the sun, I was never entitled to have in the first place.  At best, it is a loan, but why must the loan come due all at once?  Who pays their bills that way?   I’m a big proponent of the “minimum payment plan.”   If I had my way, we would move the clock back two minutes a day over a period of 30 days for a nice, civilized slide into December where, on the 21st, we have the official shortest day of the year, and then “Bingo!”  The days start getting longer again! 

Can I get a “Hoo-ah!”?

I envy people who are productive at night.  I’m not one of them.  Once darkness falls, I’m done for the day and all I want is booze, food and sleep.   Long, long ago and far, far away in the land known as my youth, I would rise at eleven, start to get going at around one, and drag my partied-out ass in at three o’clock in the morning.   Now, however, I rise with the sun, my work day ends at six, leaving plenty of light for a little reading on the deck, then dinner with friends, a bit of television and I hit the sheets around ten.   There are really only two hours of darkness I need to fill.  It works for me.

Although there is no fondness in my heart for George W. Bush, starting in August of 2005, he did give us an extra four weeks of DST.  I could have almost forgiven him the Iraq War had he made it the law of the land year round, because such is the degree of my self-interest.  Every year at this time the question is floated again about doing just that, but then people start bitching about their kids going to school in the dark to which I say, let them sleep in.  School shouldn’t start before nine anyway.  Why should I be inconvenienced?   

But I’m not one to wallow in my misfortune – well, not for long anyway.   I will instead choose to see the pony in this pile of manure:  I’m a morning person and so what I lose on the back end of the day, I will gain on the front end and, if I don’t adjust the clock by my bed, I can fool myself in those first groggy moments into believing that nothing has changed at all.  And hey – it does, after all, move up cocktail hour.

Besides, there’s really no way the Iraq War is forgivable. 

Do you welcome the time change or go kicking and screaming like I do?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

injaynesworld it's "Finders, Keepers..."

A story for all those who, at some time in their lives, have experienced unrequited love.  In other words, all of us...

It twinkled like a bright star in the north sky; sunshine bouncing off metal as if calling to her from the deep spring grass.   Charlene knew this object, knew the one who wore it, knew the sadness she would feel at its disappearance, but as her hand closed around the locket’s warm, smooth surface, she also knew she would never give it back.  

Charlene Woods had loved Richard Daniels since childhood.  They had climbed trees together and raced each other across this same field.    In fifth grade, when a virus nearly took him from her then, she had brought his school work and sat with him every day until he was well.   He had taken her to their eighth grade graduation dance where they shared their first real kiss and his hand had lightly (accidentally?) brushed against the bodice of her dress.   But high school had changed everything and now it was Lauren who was on his arm and in his heart.  

Charlene’s fingertip lightly traced the delicate etching:  “Richard and Lauren forever.”  She could see that the clasp on the locket was broken and imagined it slipping from Lauren’s neck as the two of them embraced under the cool moon in just that place the night before.   Tucking it into her pocket now, she felt no remorse.   

Once home, Charlene gently opened the locket and gazed at the two tiny pictures inside.   She slipped a fingernail under Lauren’s photo, which popped out easily; so much for “forever,” she thought.  Then she opened the high school year book to her own photo, carefully cutting around the edges until it was of the same oval shape and size, and placed it inside the locket next to Richard where she knew she was meant to be, and believed with all her heart that one day he would know that, too. 

And so she waited, spurning the attentions of others until they ceased altogether and she was alone, while Richard and Lauren only seemed to grow closer.  It was no surprise to any of their friends when the couple announced their engagement after college.   Charlene was invited to the wedding by Richard who told her that, as his oldest and dearest friend, he could not imagine the day without her.  “Of course, I’ll be there,” she had replied, smiling while the locket under her blouse burned a hole in her heart.  

The years passed quickly.   Richard and Lauren had children and then grandchildren, and Charlene, who had never married, was always included in their family festivities.   Lauren often told her that she was the sister she had always wanted and, despite her best attempts to resist, Charlene developed a growing fondness for Lauren, as well.      

Richard’s death came after a long and debilitating illness that had required the total devotion of both women to meet his needs.    Charlene watched as Lauren held Richard’s hand and he looked into his wife’s eyes one last time.   “Forever…” he whispered.   As if of its own accord, Charlene’s hand moved to touch the finely-linked chain around her neck…

“… And that’s where the locket was found upon her death the very next morning,” Lauren told her eldest granddaughter, as she opened it up and showed her the photos inside.  

“I don’t understand.  Why do you still keep her picture there next to Grandpa’s?” the girl asked.

Lauren’s hand closed around the locket and she held it to her heart, “Because I knew that I had taken from her much more than she had ever taken from me.”

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

injaynesworld “Country Ways…”

There’s nothing quite as sad as the cries of mama cows calling for their babies.  This is the time of year when “calving” takes place whereby the young calves, ready or not, are separated from the herd.  The females go off to be dairy or breeding cows, the males maybe prize breeding bulls if they’re lucky, more likely a “Burger King” special.   This particular herd lives in a field not twenty feet from my door.  

As cow lives go, they’ve got one of the better ones.  Each spring, I watch the mamas out on the rich green grass, their heavy bellies nearly touching the ground, waiting to give birth.   Then one morning I spot the first newborn shyly hiding behind its mother.   While curious about the two-legged, red-haired creature who coos to it softly, trying to coax it to the fence for a pat, it stays pressed firmly to Mom’s side.  Mornings go by and there are more babies to romp and play with the first.  Each year I caution myself not to name them, but I can never resist.   Francesca, Mikey, Belle…

The herd is a matriarchal society; other mothers, aunts and even grandmas tend to the discipline of any youngster who strays too far or otherwise requires correction.  We humans would do well to take up this practice.   

They are lovely neighbors.  Mostly quiet, they tend to mind their own business, and happily take care of the yard work, providing brush clearance for free, making the high-fire area where I live less likely to ignite.   So I can’t complain about the loud, mournful bellowing that kept me awake last night and greeted me this morning as the mother cows, teats still painfully full of milk, roamed the hillsides searching for their babies. 

I step out to water my garden and they gather at the fence line, look at me expectantly, hopefully, as if I can restore their little ones to their sides, though I’m sure it is my own guilt for just being a human being that causes me to believe this.  Still, I apologize.  “I’m so sorry” I say.  

It’s quiet now.  Maybe they’ve given up, or maybe they’re just exhausted with grief.  Living as intimately with the animal world as I do, I’m blessed daily with joys too numerous to count, and then there are times, like today, when I’m brought just as low by its sorrows.

But that’s life, isn’t it.

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