Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Oh, The Places You'll Go

She sank into the depths of her memories.  Warm, salty air filled her lungs.  Emily savored the freedom she felt in those deep breaths.  The ocean waves sprayed her with blessings from beyond as her long dark hair danced upon her shoulders.  From the tops of these cliffs she could see for miles.

Emily cocked her head and smiled.  "Hey babe, remember when we were in Hawaii and we watched the sunset standing out on those large rocks?"


"Oh come on, yes you do.  We were standing up above the water, but the waves would still splash us a bit."  Emily dropped her arms to her sides and wiggled her fingers.

"I remember watching the sunset from the marina.  Oh man, and we saw that one yacht called The Codfather?  Remember that?  It was waving an Italian flag and everything."

Emily remembered the marina.  And the yacht.  Friends they stayed with in Honolulu had a boat and the views from the docks were lovely.  But she was somewhere else.

"No, that's not what I am picturing in my mind.  There were definitely cliffs and dramatic waves and no one else around.  It was peaceful, but I recall being a bit afraid.  Maybe I'm thinking about something from our trip to California to see Julie?"

Julie loved hiking and exploring.  Clearly this would have been the type of adventure her sister-in-law would have taken them on.

"I really don't think so, hon.  I would definitely have pictures of that."

Emily knew he was right.  In fact, she had twisted her ankle playing tennis their first day at Julie's and spent the remainder of the visit poolside.  It was fantastic, but incomparable to the thrilling terrain she could not shake.  

"Gah!  I feel like I'm going crazy.  It's so vivid.  How can I not place it?  What could I possibly be thinking of?"

"I don't know, Em.  Could it be someplace you went as a kid?"

Emily furrowed her brow and grimaced, "Right, like my family would go somewhere you had to schlep up rocks?  Puh-lease we went to the Jersey Shore every summer and you know it."

"Well, of course I know it.  I'm just trying to help.  Hey, maybe you're remembering a dream you had?

And then as certainly as it felt out of reach, it all came rushing back.  It hadn't been a dream, but a construction of her imagination nonetheless.  The echo of the caves, the insecurity of the coves, the rough feel of the canoes, even the smell of the wild dogs.  And while Karana eventually leaves the island in the book, Emily had kept her there in her mind.  At last, she knew where she was and she was so happy to have returned to the Island of the Blue Dolphins.


This work is a piece of fiction written in response to a weekly prompt.  Click on the button below to read the prompt and the other awesome writers who hang out there.  Or, better yet, join us at the best gin joint on the web.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sibling Rivalry

Something between the rocks glinted in the morning sunshine.  Danny impulsively jabbed at the mystery object with the scuffed toe of his navy blue sneaker.  In doing so, he discovered it was merely a small silver push pin, no doubt a fallen soldier from the telephone pole that stood tall at the end of his gravel driveway.  Perhaps the lost kitten had been found, or the yard sale a success.  Either way, the push pin's job was complete for now.  Danny plucked it up and absentmindedly put it in the pocket of his zip-up hoodie.  He had decided what to do.

"Mom!" he yelled toward the front of his house, "I'm going out on my bike!"

"Ok, sweetie.  But be back by lunch!  Your brothers need milk."

With his hands already on the handlebars, Danny hung his head in defeat and sighed.  "You want me to pick up milk?"

"Yeah.  I'll pay you back."

Danny settled onto the seat of his bike after a few initial pumps of the pedals.  The cool, autumn air tousled his hair and calmly encouraged him.  He would stop at the store on his way home, no big deal.  He had plenty of time.  He flew past the school and made a wide turn onto Walnut.  Even his lanky legs knew what he had to focus on first.  After years of churning turmoil, today was the day.  Danny Ellis was going to tell Katie Evans that he liked her.

He had ridden to her house countless times before, mostly because he couldn't think of anywhere else to ride.  One time, he offered to come to her house to work on a school project.  They had sat close together on the bench at her kitchen table and written a play about photosynthesis.  He played the plant.  She was the light.

Another time, her parents had employed him to take care of their cat while they were away over the summer.  He got to ride to her house almost everyday.  He ran his fingers over her furniture, smelled the soap at her sink, stood in her room, laid on her bed.  He would never forget those few weeks.

Danny parked his bike on the sidewalk and leaped up the now familiar front steps.  He knocked on the door and waited, nervously working his fingers.  The snapping sounds he made bounced around the large, covered porch where he had once taken shelter from a sudden rain shower.

"Oh, hey Danny.  Are you looking for Shaun?"  Katie's dad pushed up the sleeves on his chocolate brown sweater as he reached to open the screen door.  "Wanna come in?"

Danny looked at his sneakers and then back up.  Cracking his knuckled he replied, "My brother?  Shaun is here?"

"Well, actually he and Katie are out on a walk together, but I bet they'll be back soon."

Danny's mind reeled, but he finally managed to mumble, "Uh, thank you.  I, uh, have to go to the store for my mom."

"Ok, bud.  You take care.  See ya around."

As Mr. Evans turned to shut the door, the cat scurried up to Danny, rubbed herself against his corduroys and then meandered over to a bike parked on the porch.  Shaun's bike.  Focused as he was, Danny had overlooked it before, but there it stood.  It had gotten here first.  Danny buried his hands into the pockets of his zip-up hoodie.  He had decided what to do.

He jammed the push pin right into the tire of his brother's bike.  Five times.  One for every brother he had.


This piece is a work of fiction inspired by a weekly prompt.  Click on the button below to read the prompt and the other amazing writers who post flash fiction and poetry there.
The Speakeasy is open...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Immerse Yourself

I was sitting as I often do, one daughter under my left wing, one daughter under my right.  My husband was crouched beside our bench, poised to capture each moment with his camera.  The sun shone warm and bright across the pool and the faces of those standing in it.  We all waited and watched the water in wonder.

During the ceremony, my four-year-old looked up and whispered, her eyes sparkling, "I like this mommy, but..." Her mouth turned serious, "I can't get bath-tized."

I smiled.

I have no expectation that she make a life-long commitment to anything (or anyone) until she is at least 45.  I considered telling her she couldn't get married either, but since I never want my children to feel inhibited in anyway I responded logically instead.  

"Why not, sweetie?" I asked, stroking the peach-fuzz on her sweet, little arm.

"Well, because I don't want to go under the water."

Ah.  The preschool mind revealed yet again.

But she's right.  One can not experience full-immersion (being dunked, not drizzled) baptism if one does not want to go all the way under the water.  In my maternal interpretation: she's not ready.  In my experience: she will know when she is.  And I'm not talking about making a commitment to follow Jesus, I'm simply talking about literally putting her entire head in the pool.

Doctrine, faith, even spirituality aside, I believe we are all "bath-tized" throughout our lives.  Anytime we know we are ready for that next pivotal thing and we go ahead and take the plunge, we are made new.

Now, I am not talking about the tinier things in life like how I knew today that I was desperately ready for a new drain board because the one I had was nine years old, I never liked it in the first place and it was covered in permanent crud completely unacceptable for freshly washed dishes.

I am talking more along the lines of changing jobs or careers, reaching out to an estranged family member, embracing a new hobby or removing those proverbial training wheels you have been relying on for too long.

I just wrote an essay in which I describe the bravest thing I have ever done.  At that time in my life I felt weak and scared.  But, I felt ready.  I knew deep down in my belly button that my circumstances were convicting me to change.  And thankfully, I was given the strength to take the risk.  

When my daughter is ready to put her head completely under the water, she will know.  She will feel hesitant, but she will take the risk regardless.  And it will change her.  The entire pool with begin to open up for her.  She will be made new.

As the service concluded, the sun inched further behind the trees and the older kids inched closer to the water's edge.  The air had been refreshed.  And after only a simple phrase, "the pool in now open" the patient children of our church jumped in to celebrate.