Posted in Uncategorized, Writing

The Price of Gentrification

The leaves glittered a pretty gold green color, the wind ruffling them gently in the breeze. Blue skies and fluffy white clouds and serene sidewalks and dark green lamp posts and the occasional wooden bench dotted the landscape punctuated occasionally by a eggplant colored trashcan and a black car.

Perfectly landscaped shrubs shielded an impressive wooden fence guarding an impressive building of modern architecture, all red and grey and covered in various angles and degrees. Very very edgy. Modern. Definitely modern.

Every plant and shrub and piece of cement was immaculate and like new. The place was perfect. Too perfect. You almost looked for the error, for the mistake, for the hole. The red and grey had orange panels between, but you can tell it was planned, it was no accident.  There was no graffiti, no broken pavement.

It was like an oversized doll house. It didn’t look like it had been used. It was too new. You almost expected it to have that new car smell. Kind of a weird rubber tire smell, the kind that says there is something plastic and shiny here that hasn’t been corrupted by human stink yet.

Totally mechanical, and unused. But the air was fresh, with a hint of lavender in the air.  The windows were all various sizes and different heights. It was like the building was trying too hard to be edgy. It had accomplished that all ready, yet it was still trying to one up itself.

Why? What for? What was the purpose for it? What need or use did this random patchwork angled thing assist in? Did this color scheme somehow make the building more efficient? Was it more economical to heat because of it?

This building was built by and for the city, an administrative building created with no expense spared to look as glaringly new and different as possible. It would not settle and become one with the buildings around it, oh no, it was an individual.

Housing for the homeless was torn down and moved and gotten rid of so this beautiful monstrosity could squat over the entire block, housing no one, only fitting worker bees inside a useful building with a flamboyance that was beyond useful or necessary. The bill of course being footed by the people and for the people, because they deserve the best, except for those homeless sods, of course they should just leave. They are no longer welcome here in our pretty perfect town.

No more emergency shelter for them, the city needed a sharply angled giant building plus plaza to take up the entire area, this was more important, and the building showed it. It looked important and impressive. It was large, and expensive. And there would be no beds in there. Lots of rooms, but no beds. Lots of benches too. And trees. And the sun was shining with blue sky and fluffy clouds.

And everyone could see the impressive modern building in all its multicolored glory, no remnant of the sad apartment complex that used to be there. All the living and breathing and dying and eating, all that living moved somewhere, anywhere else. Now, this looked unused, like new, there would be working here but no living, no dying, no eating. Just working.

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Posted in Uncategorized, Writing

About Time And That One Guy Who Sailed in 1492…

I have the day off thanks to Columbus. Probably the only job I’ve ever had that gave me Columbus day off. It isn’t much of a holiday here. Controversial to some, and to others it is a “bank holiday,” or an excuse for some places to close. We have no statues in my town, and do no parades here. I worked for a bank here and I always had to work on Columbus day. So, it is a quasi holiday, it is there, but it isn’t really celebrated, at least not much here.

I realize there are places that do, like New York has a parade, and I read it is a big deal in Puerto Rico. I have Italian heritage. I do not feel especially threatened if they get rid of this holiday. Columbus was born in Italy, he was Italian, but he served Spain, and died in Spain.

He also never set foot on the continent. So, his “discovery of America” if you discount that he thought he found a short cut to India, and that the Vikings as well as the indigenous people were here before him, just never really rang true.

However, I have also read a lot of articles today attributing genocide and all the native populations being decimated by disease and everything that came after Columbus being attributed to him.

The deaths of the Taino people on Hispaniola can be laid at his door. I think it is a stretch to add all the rest to him. He couldn’t have foreseen the small pox epidemic that decimated the north American tribes. He didn’t even set foot here, remember? He thought he was in India the whole time. He would have had no way of knowing the far reaching repercussions his “discovery” would have, and there is no sane way to blame him for all the atrocities that would come later.

He was a guy with three ships who underestimated the size of the world, and shared the mentality of his time that “savages” were lesser men. We can think of that in horror now, but in his day it was quite normal.

Rudyard Kipling of “Just so Stories”  and the “Jungle Book” fame had some writings describing ethnic people in a kind of racist or patronizing way. I still love some of these stories, although his British Imperialism now colors them all in a tainted sort of way. And it was this view of superiority, that Europeans had a god given right to govern the lesser peoples and guide them to being civilized that is so hard to stomach now.

This was a time where people looked to the church for answers, not science. And, it was a debate whether these people had souls or not,  because they weren’t mentioned in the Bible. It was a different time, and to say Columbus and his men were ignorant would be obvious. They knew nothing about these lands, or their people, and made a lot of assumptions. Of course, not knowing anything about germs, and how disease and immune systems work, they would have no idea that they were spreading disease just by coming there.

You cannot assume 21st century morality and science and put it on a person of another era. It is like expecting a cave man to know how to drive a car. People should be examined in context with their time, as the culture they are in will of course, naturally affect their thinking and how they act toward others.

In our current time, we act differently. There is an island, off the coast of India that has an indigenous tribe that has not been directly interacted with except for a handful of times. They want to be left alone and attack on site and the government of India has forbade anyone from going to the island or even within a certain amount of feet of it.

Besides respecting the islanders desire to be left alone, it was also indicated that the decision took into account that any interactions could cause disease and a ravaging of the population, also the language barrier and hostility.

A couple fisherman were killed and dismembered because they drifted too near the island, so the safety of not only the inhabitants but also of the outsiders had to be considered.

Instead of trying to civilize or bring these people to Jesus, it was decided that it was best to just leave them alone. I feel that some people seem to think Columbus could have or should have been capable of making a decision like that without the necessary information that the modern government of India has currently.

This is in fact preposterous. You can’t assume someone from that era can understand how disease works. In addition, the religious culture of the period, you have to bring people to Jesus or they die in eternal torment. It was your duty as a Christian to bring them to Christ if possible. As far as slavery is concerned, there was some that thought the inhabitants did not have souls, so enslaving them was okay.

The Catholic church eventually decided they did indeed have souls and asked the Spanish King to not treat the people harshly and to bring them to Christ.

However, this was decided after Columbus’s voyages and his crew did not always obey him when he implored them to not be too harsh, and it was apparent that none of these native people’s had weapons or a way to protect themselves from the invaders.  Unfortunately, as often happens, the strong destroy the weak.

The Europeans of this age were just as savage if not more so than the islanders.  The islanders were just living their lives and did not ask for any of this.  I feel their pain does deserve to be recognized, and I think our society still has much to learn.

The British and the United States that came after treated its native peoples horribly. But, I cannot realistically lay that at Columbus’ door. Sure, this all followed his voyage, but, realistically, there is just no way that he could have foreseen all of this. That is a lot of historical anguish to lay at one man’s door. Columbus wasn’t Hitler. He wasn’t even Mussolini.

He was kind of a Charles Lindbergh of his day. By the way, Lindbergh said some awful things about Jewish people. People can do amazing things, and still be jerks. People can do awful things, and still be celebrated for the things they did right.

Should Columbus be celebrated? I am not sure. He did travel a long way in three small ships. I probably couldn’t have done that. In fact, I know I couldn’t back then, being a  woman.  But, that is something. If he hadn’t stumbled onto the islands, someone eventually would have. The Europeans would have landed eventually, bringing their diseases with them. Maybe the name would have been different.

Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

Timed Write — First Thing that Comes to Mind

She walked down the street quietly, hands embedded into the pockets of an overly large beige rain coat. A piece of garbage blew past dancing along the street to some silent tune while the occasional rain puddle stood showing the sky in its natural mirror.

She sighed. Perhaps she just wanted to hear more than the occasional dripping of droplets from rooftops trying to hurry to the ground in their own wet way.

Sometimes she liked to hear her own voice, it almost sounded like it was coming from some other person. Her voice wasn’t how she imagined it would sound like in her head. It was higher, tinnier, distant. Like an echo of what she assumed was her voice.

She was young, wearing a maroon scarf and a small black hat askew. She had her own fashion sense, it was a bit nonsensical. Part retro part comfort, part a little bit detective movie, and a little bit couch potato. She wasn’t sure who she was yet, or who she would become and the impression she gave was of a whimsical and confused teen who wasn’t sure she liked herself all that much.

She knew she liked the rain. It was soothing when it hit her hat and her coat, it made a satisfying plop sound. It made its own music, a rhythmic percussion of sounds that set a tempo for action or just a lengthy walk.

She loved to walk. But, for some unknown reason, when the rain stopped something about the world seemed dark and gloomy. The music slowed down, and everything just sat wet and bland. Everything was just there, remaining around concrete and water.

The clouds were still overhead promising a return of rain in the near future. But in the meantime she was left walking down a largely deserted street wondering if the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse would resemble this.

Everything and everyone needs water, and rain is the form it often comes from. Rain was life, just like sunlight was. A plant would die without water just like it would without light. The air smelled different after a good rain.

The humidity messed with her hair more than her hat did, and she would stop to readjust a strand that somehow got into her face. It was a constant battle between her hat and her hair and her glasses. There was never a real victor, much like the rain or the sun, hair always came back.

Occasionally she would yank a particular strand out and examine the root of it, before tossing it. It would grow back. She guessed that was okay, after all, she didn’t want to be bald. Then again, since she liked to wear hats, perhaps that didn’t matter very much to her. Hair was kind of a symbol of vitality or health though.

People looked at a girl funny without hair. Everyone would probably make insane assumptions like cancer, or some terminal illness if she lost all her hair. Perhaps it is better to have it, so she can blend into the surroundings better. She didn’t want to attract too much attention. she didn’t want any more stares than she occasionally got for the hats she would wear.

A little attention was nice, a lot of attention was scary. She didn’t want stares, a glance was okay, but a stare would be altogether different. She wanted to be different, but not necessarily a freak.

It was a delicate balance that she might not ever perfect. But she was learning how to be herself and sometimes mistakes would be made.

Posted in Life, Uncategorized, Writing

Time to Do Some Writing….

My site is back and hopefully here to stay. I plan on doing a lot of writing, and hopefully it will be just what I need to elevate my craft. Thank you all for your patience while the site was in hiatus. I appreciate any and all follows and I do follow back as a common courtesy.

I took this week off from work and it was nice not having to worry about getting up early and to have an open schedule. I do feel for those out there that make their own schedules though. It was at times hard to get motivated. I wasted some time, but that was okay.

I kind of knew that was going to happen. It is like the kid who isn’t allowed to eat candy going to a friend’s house and an open candy dish is right there. Time has been like that for me. I never have enough of it it seems, and when I do I squander it like a lottery winner does their winnings.

I am trying not to be too hard on myself. But at the same time, we never know how much time we are allotted in this life. So, it is imperative to make it count.

With that in mind, be expecting some timed writes, writing prompts, and short stories of surprise and wonder coming your way. And, again, thank you. Your encouragement and inspiration is what keeps me posting.

Sincerely,

JennRae.

Posted in Life, Writing

Happy September Everyone!

I hope everyone had a great summer filled with adventure and good times! Now  is my favorite time of year. I love the way the trees start to change color and it cools down just a little bit. The days are still long and it isn’t cold yet, but it is just right. A truly beautiful time of year.

If you are in pain or in a tough spot, I would also like to send positive thoughts your way. For some, this may be their least favorite time of year.

The people in Houston with the flooding, and the people in British Columbia and Eastern Washington that have been affected by wild fires come to mind. It can be a chaotic time of year as well. One that can offer great change, which also can mean a great deal of unpredictability.

Financially I am in a tight spot, so I will apologize ahead of time if this site should expire on me before I can renew it.

If it does expire, please be assured that it is a temporary blip and not meant to signal an end to its existence. I am trying to make better, smarter choices with my money, and that means paying a lot of things off, and sometimes, that means certain things have to wait. This blog is very important to me, but unfortunately it is one of those things that can wait.

I also suffered some computer issues recently, and of course, I have been working as much as possible. I try to post regularly but sometimes I need a rest. From myself most of all. So, to any that pass this way, good fortune, and I hope all is well with you!

 

JennRae

Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

The Problem —A Character Study

The nightmare was about over when she laid the test face down at the front of the room, shuffling out the door shouldering a book bag that was lighter than it should have been. She knew she was failing geometry. Math was not her specialty. She cared less about school every year, as she felt her soul slipping away slowly, painfully, drifting away from its purpose.

Nothing seemed real, or important. She would watch the news at night talking about possible nuclear war, and people starving in some country across the world with the deep cynicism of one far removed from it all. She imagined the bomb going off and not having to explain to her parents her failure in geometry. It almost would be a relief, if only it was painless, and quick.

A post nuclear world seemed strangely interesting and a world that she would want to explore in a video game, or a comic book, or even a movie. In reality, perhaps not. I’m sure a resident of Nagasaki during World War II would probably love to switch with her and have a failing grade instead of all the radiation and cancer and sudden death.

What was it a friend of hers always said? First World Problems. Yeah, it makes everyone who complains about slow internet, or waiting in line to buy new shoes feel like a jerk. Some big eyed waif in some third world country someplace was doing hard labor without shoes, and here she was in ‘Ross Dress For Less’ cursing at a long wait while she buys a pair of zebra striped patent leather heels.

First world problems, indeed. Meanwhile, she would go to school, go to bed, and wake up to go to school while both her parents worked during the day and were tired in the evening. She had a younger brother that had some special issues that seemed to take their time, and she felt like an afterthought. Someone that was background noise. Until she screwed up, but that wasn’t the kind of attention she wanted. She would rather be background noise.

She had saved up for those zebra striped heels from babysitting a cousin who was in that age bracket where they are too old to be a baby but too young for real school.

It was hard work because the little guy had a ton of energy and could completely destroy a room in a matter of minutes.  Plus, he put everything in his mouth, so she had to watch him carefully. Balancing that with school work and studying was hard.

School used to be easy for her, but this year she felt suddenly stupid. She couldn’t concentrate and found herself slipping from the room while the teacher’s voice became a constant drone like a hive of bees. She felt so incredibly tired.

Finally, her teacher cornered her the next day as she was attempting to sneak out. “Natalie, wait a moment will you? I want to speak to you.” She gulped and sat at the nearest desk watching the others file out the door, some looking at her blankly, most not even looking at her. She had become invisible to most.

“Okay, come here my dear, just sit down.” Mrs. Grimble got up and shut the door after the last student had left, leaving the room to just Natalie and herself. “Okay,  you need to tell me what is going on with you. I see you struggling. Coming in late, not turning in homework. I can see it in your face. Is everything all right at home?”

“This is about the test, isn’t it?” She said tiredly.

Mrs. Grimble looked her in the eye, and pulled out her test from a drawer, handing it out to her.

“I think it is more than that. I looked at your records from last year, and I can see a drastic difference in your work. I hope you know I want what is best for you, and I hope you feel you can trust me. I just want to help you.”

Natalie looked down at the desk, and then eyed the wall clock ticking away. “I think I will be late for my next class, Mrs. Grimble.”

“I talked to your other teachers. We do compare notes on occasion. And, it is the same story. There is something going on. We can see it. You just aren’t really present in class. Would you like to speak with the counselor? Would that be helpful?”

“I do not know what’s wrong. I guess I feel like I have to be perfect all the time. And, no one likes me. I feel stupid this year. I just can’t think. I am just so tired. I just want to sleep and not wake up.”

Mrs. Grimble looked horrified, and concerned all at once. Natalie wanted to shove her desk over and scatter all the pens and pencils onto the floor. She suddenly felt anger toward her for all the fake sympathy, the pity.

She didn’t want sympathy, or pity. She was all alone, and everyone seemed false and fake. She didn’t trust Mrs. Grimble. She didn’t trust anyone. She did have a secret, but she wouldn’t share it here, not with anyone at the school.

“I think dear, that we should schedule you with an appointment, to see Mrs. Fenton. It can’t hurt, right?”

“You want me to reassure you, Mrs. Grimble? Or is this your way of asking my permission?” Mrs. Grimble was jotting something down on a pink slip and she slid it across the desk toward Natalie.

“Are you going to tell my parents? I don’t want them to be bothered with this.”

“Don’t you think they should know that something is bothering you?”

Natalie looked at the slip in front of her, not reaching out to take it.

“It would just make them worry about me. I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want them to fret or worry about me. They have their hands full dealing with Brian.”

“How is your brother doing, Natalie?”

“As good as can be expected for someone who is slowly dying. He takes all their time when they aren’t working, and they worry over him, and sometimes they get hopeful. Then other times things are bleak. I am tired of the roller coaster at this point. I just wish a miracle would happen, or it would be over. Sometimes I hate him. Isn’t that terrible? I am a horrible person aren’t I?”

“No, dear. You have a lot on your shoulders right now. Maybe you should just take a leave from school. It would be hard to catch up, but I can talk to the principle and the counselor, and we can explain the situation…”

“No, I don’t want to take a leave. I just want things to be easy again. I don’t want to be stuck in the house watching my brother all the time. Watching him slowly get worse. Just watching. I’d rather be bored out of my mind here.”

“Natalie, you want to graduate with your class, right?”

She said nothing. Mrs. Grimble pushed the paper a little closer to Natalie. “Take it. Go to Mrs. Fenton. It can’t hurt.”

Natalie reluctantly took it, and lifted her bag and didn’t say another word. Mrs. Grimble watched her leave and began composing an email on her computer.

 

 

 

Posted in Fiction, Life, Uncategorized, Writing

The Secret

“What is life? Why are we here? I mean, what’s it all for anyhow?” The curious red head asked  her Uncle in all seriousness, her eyes squinting to avoid the glare of the campfire as the flames toyed  with each other in a never ending battle for supremacy. He laughed a deep, carefree laugh. She asked so many questions that he shook his head after awhile. She was a born inquisitor, and was tireless in her examinations. She wouldn’t quit, even after the rest of the children grew tired and went to sleep in their tents.

“Life,” began her Uncle choosing his words slowly, “is complicated. It can’t really be summed up in one word, nor can I explain it in a one night. It is one of those things that we do year after year. We search for the why’s and the what for’s. It wouldn’t be any fun if we started with all the answers, would it?”

She looked solemn a moment, her face puzzled, the words settling into the niches of her young brain. “Well, what if I want all the answers?” Her Uncle shook his head again, and chuckled. “Well, one of the first things you’ve got to learn, and this is a big secret. In fact, come closer.” He motioned with his hand gently for her to crane her head as near to him as she could conspiratorially.

“The secret?” She whispered hopefully when she deemed she was close enough. The fire warmed them both, and the crackling of the wood was soothing in its own way.

“Awh, yes, the secret. First, you must promise me something, then I will share the secret with you.” The red head gave a frown, unsure of the new conditions of this secret.

“All right, I promise.”

“Well, then. You promise? You promise this will be the last question tonight? Your Uncle is getting tired, and must get some sleep, too.”

She frowned, she didn’t like this promise, but since she had all ready agreed, she could do nothing but nod. “The secret is…,” he began again, watching her face light up in anticipation, “No one has all the answers, and the world doesn’t give you what you want, but dishes out what it has.”

“That can’t be the secret!” she shouted. Her Uncle laughed again.

“See? Not everything is as you would want it. Better to discover this now, then later. And, since you promised, you must go to bed. And, I can get some sleep.”

“But I didn’t promise to go to bed!” She cried, horrified at the thought.

“Well, I am tired, and I can’t stay up to watch you, so you must sleep like the others. Your mother is all ready asleep. It is only fair that I get to sleep too.”

She grudgingly agreed, and walked slowly to her tent with her little face turned toward the ground in disappointment. Her Uncle watched her in silence, as the fire started to die down. He absently added one more log, thinking. Who would be there to answer his questions when the time came? He got up stiffly, and made his way to his tent, contemplating life and its meaning.

 

Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

The Question of Why? A Portrait of A Sad End

He watched her die slowly in his mind’s eye. Imagining the temperature of the water, of the look on her face. Was it windy? Was she tired?

Everyone else stared blankly, avoiding the pain and confusion within his eyes. Instead, they studied the wood grain of the floor boards, or the unfinished knitting of the caretaker. How did she come to die so young, he heard someone say. Who was she, and why should it matter you might ask?

She had hair of the softest yellow melting into a warm golden cinnamon at the tips. Her eyes were the blue of the tide rushing onto the beach. Not a true blue, but a blue with a hint of a cloudy grey. Her hair lay in damp curls, framing an oval face while a few strands got in the way of her apparent serenity.

In death she appeared to be an angel, in life she had been more of a demon, he knew. Her laugh cut through the miles of his memory like a hot knife cuts through a pat of butter, efficiently, and ruthlessly accurate.

For all her sharpness and uncontrollable anger, he found himself missing her. She was the sea that kept life from becoming an endless horizon with nothing to look forward to.

She was life, in  all its irony and bitterness. In death, she was like a forgery. She was somehow fake; unreal like a child’s life size doll. This wasn’t her. This was a mannequin dressed in her clothes, wearing her make up, wearing her knowing, sly smile.

Everyone else in the room had known her, or thought they did at any rate. They knew of her, surely, knew she loved orange sherbet ice cream, and that she hoped to get a Bachelor’s degree  in computer science and that her favorite color was purple. You know, just like a million other girls’ her age.

No one knew her quite like he did. They saw an innocent friendly smile, not the sly mischievous smile of one who knew they knew, and loved the fact that you didn’t. But they didn’t really see what was behind that. The forced nature of it, the fact that it actually meant, “I know nothing. I wish I knew what you know, but know that I can’t.”

Her coldness wasn’t cool. It was hot, tempestuous; interesting. It wasn’t coldness. Not really. It was passion. She was very lonely, this girl. She thrived on her imagination. Everyone else came and went around her, but she had her own reality which stayed the same, until the end, of course.

At the end, it must have all come crashing down, the blue skies, the white Christmases, the rose colored glasses and the yellow walls of sunshine. It all came crashing down, and it took her with it.

Life without her isn’t life, but the xerox copy of a copy of a copy of what it once was and never would be again. He sighed. Everyone else shifted uncomfortably at the ongoing silence. A cough was heard, and a quiet murmur. Perhaps a prayer for one who never prayed?

The water of the sea near the lighthouse was cold. It must have made her cold as ice when she dived off the rocks into the brutish water below. It invaded her nose, her mouth, her body, until it turned her a sickly pale blue green color. They called him then, after pulling her ashore when the lighthouse attendant who happened to take a late night stroll on the beach saw her.

The local ambulance  was called immediately of course, but it would be a while before they arrived. Family was called and she was carried into the lighthouse, seeming heavy and blue. Her mother would ask why, but no one answered. Why? Why not?

She had so much to look forward to, someone said. The line was a tired one, and didn’t much alter the mood in the small circular room. The rocks had scraped some skin off her shins someone noted. A kid’s injury, not the injury of the dead, he thought.

Despite the hand wringing and solemnity, she was just another lost soul, another person who gave up before they even started.

 

 

Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

A Flower’s Revenge – A Dark Fairy Tale

Luscia of the spring morn, skin as fair as milk, with braids of gold down to her waist, wearing a silly dress of sky blue, was walking to town in her clumsy wooden shoes. She hummed off key, and kicked a pebble or two.

She had a basket of bread and cheese for lunch, as well as a few coins for some pretty bauble she might find. She stopped to pick some flowers, and proceeded to dismember them, and laugh uproariously at their fate.

Luscia began to collect a few to keep intact in a small blue vase in her window. She hoped they would keep their freshness and smell until she got home. Her armload got larger and larger until it was filled with various flowers and weeds.

She heard a rustle in the tall grass of the meadow, and had to stop, arms full of flowers for her vase, and her pleasure. She looked toward the noise, her tune now forgotten upon her lips. A red fox poked its head out of the grass briefly, and fled from the silly blue-eyed girl in the sky blue dress.

The girl followed the vibrant red till it was gone. Luscia let her flowers go for this new treasure, and ran after the fox giggling mischievously.

Luscia followed  the path easily at first, and began to hear the tumble of a brook or a stream. She went on a ways and soon the water became evident. The girl looked down at her wooden shoes in disgust; the bank of the stream was muddy and now so were her shoes. She looked to her pretty favorite dress and realized with dismay that she had gotten mud speckles on it as well.

Luscia’s mother was normally a very sweet lady, and would give her girl a piece of taffy if she were especially good. From the girl’s past experiences however, muddied clothes changed her mother into a demon of a woman, who was as likely to take the large wooden spoon in the kitchen to her behind.

Luscia was then at a crossroads. She truly wanted to follow the fox, but then she had muddied her dress all ready. There might still be time to go back home with her bread and cheese and the coins, and somehow win her mother’s forgiveness.

How to do that? Luscia came  up with no clear plan of action, which made her decide to follow the fox further. Her mother would be mad anyway, so she might as well continue on this path.

Luscia took a deep breath and started to walk forward considering herself brave. Soon, the girl began to be silly again, and started jumping and singing songs. Before she knew it, a root had caught her wooden shoe and she fell face forward into the briars on her right side. Oh, what a howling she started after that. If the fox had still been near that would have been his cue to run further away.

She cried as she pulled herself out of the brambles and brushed the debris from her dress. Now she was dismayed. Her dress was now covered with berry stains and dirt, and was torn in several places. It would need mending as well as cleaned.

The girl knew for certain that her mother would be angry at her now. She decided to continue to follow the stream, which she fancied would lead her to the elusive fox.

Luscia walked on, but caught no sight of the fox. It occurred to her then, that he might not be following the stream like her, and that he might have heard her cry in the briars.  She looked around her and saw that she was deep in a wood, and that it had gotten darker, much darker than when she had last looked toward the sky.

The girl heard her stomach rumble loudly, and glanced at the basket still on her arm, almost forgotten like the flowers she had long since dropped.

Lusica sat down on a nearby log, and contented herself momentarily with a piece of bread and cheese. She supplemented this with some choice blackberries and soon felt satisfied. The only thing she could wish for would be a cold jug of milk, and the red fox of course.

Luscia had been cheerfully thinking by the moment, and it now looked quite dark. She looked around her, and knew she had no idea where she was, nor how she would get home. The happy girl began to get afraid for the first time, and this feeling steadily increased, as she remained sitting on the log, terrified of the prospect of how to get home.

The fox was now finally forgotten, but it was too late for Luscia.

She cried out of fear and loneliness and wished she hadn’t strayed from the road to town with her basket. She tried to smooth out her ruined little dress, crying over the tears in it, and the dirt smudges on it. She stopped a moment, hearing another rustling noise in the nearby bracken.

The girl held still, and became quiet. In the daylight the rustle had been an adventure starting sound, at night in the dark woods the rustling took on a much darker meaning in her young mind.

She began to tremble, and debated internally whether she should run or stay where she was. The rustling became louder. The girl couldn’t sit on the log any longer. Luscia got up quickly, and began to run. Her wooden shoes stopped her again, and she tripped and fell to the ground a few feet from the log where she had sat.

The rustling had stopped and something now padded up to her. She saw no red, she could hardly see a thing it was so dark. She stumbled up, and discovered that her ankle hurt intensely. She had no time to think about it much, she threw off the remaining  wooden shoe and began to run barefoot. The thing lashed out, and she felt animal teeth bite into her foot. She yelled. She ran with a new purpose, and much faster than she had ever before.

The thing could be heard following her whenever it broke a twig on the ground, or if it went briefly into the bracken. Otherwise, the girl couldn’t hear it over her own harsh breathing and barely stifled sobs of pain.

She couldn’t see where she was going even, only going on, forward into more darkness, away from the thing.

It followed closely, but hung back a ways, as if it were waiting for something. The girl dropped her basket thinking maybe the cheese would distract it from pursuing her. This thing, whatever it was, didn’t seem to hesitate much over cheese,  because she could now hear it panting off to her left somewhere.

This creature of the night was obviously much faster than Luscia, and she knew it, but it wasn’t over eager to catch her and she didn’t know why. Perhaps, it was simply waiting for her to tire; perhaps it was waiting for more things to arrive. She shivered at the thought. This was no fox. Foxes didn’t go after children. Not even naughty ones. She had the name of it on her tongue, but dare not say what it was, although in her child’s heart she knew it very well.

She could dimly feel the many cuts on her feet, and the scratches on her arms, and even her face where a tree punished her lack of vision with the scrape of a low hanging branch.

Her sky blue dress was now in tatters, but she had no time to mourn it. Her long gold braids slowed her down too, getting tangled here and there, and she felt the pain when a chunk of it was yanked free from her head while she was running.

Luscia began to feel her energy waning, and although she tried not to slow down, it became difficult to keep her legs moving. She began to trip over her own bloody feet without the aid of her cursed wooden shoes.

The thing was hovering about her now. It moved in briefly, taking a jab at her with its white animal teeth. She fell. She could feel it now, as it tore at her bloody feet. Her terror made her scream, and then she went limp with fear. Her child’s heart gave way to its death, and she lost consciousness and never awakened to her dismemberment by the creature.

Luscia’s mother went in search of her child when night fell, but she went to the town, not the woods, and asked the baker if he had seen her, knowing that Luscia had some coins and had a liking for sweets.

He hadn’t seen her, and neither had the hat seller. Luscia always took a look at the hats, although she never had enough to buy one. Her mother returned home reluctantly, filled with sadness and anxiety.

Soon, the town had almost forgotten the little girl known as Luscia as the days went by. Tatters of sky blue cloth and a muddy wooden shoe were all that were ever found.

Her mother never did forget of course, and some of the other children were slow to forget, for their mothers’ didn’t let them out at night much after that.  Soon the children made a song out of the fate of poor Luscia.

‘Luscia of the spring morn, skin as fair as milk, with braids of gold down to the waist, a silly dress of sky blue,

Whence did ya go in the night? To the town with milk and cheese, or to the woods as much as you please!

Luscia of the spring morn, skin as fair as milk, with braids of gold down to the waist, a silly dress of sky blue, wooden shoes and silly tunes, flowers are for fools!

‘Whence did you go in the night? To the town with milk and cheese, or to the woods as much as you please?

When  the morn came to find ya gone, your mother went mad with grief to know that ya went to the woods, not the town, as much as you please, with milk and cheese!

‘Luscia of the spring morn, skin as fair as milk, with braids of gold down to the waist, a silly dress of sky blue,

Lost in the woods to the night, poor girl of the spring morn,  lost to the night, and for the wolves to eat like good, milk, bread and cheese!’

 

 

 

Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

Apple Pie By the Slice– A Short Story

The room consisted of a wooden chair, and a faded green rug near the rock fireplace. The fire blazed merrily, little sparks here and there dancing among the embers. The glowing light brightened the small room considerably.

An old woman was in an old wooden rocking chair with a comfy but worn afghan covering her lap near the fire. Her old wrinkled hands were outstretched toward the fire seeking additional warmth.

The stranger shut the door behind him loudly, and put his wide brimmed black hat on a peg near the door. He strode in wide strides to where the old woman sat.

She didn’t seem to notice his presence. She had some knitting materials at her side, kind of a haphazard jumble of green and brown yarn. The man stood a little to the right of her chair as she rocked it gently and evenly; the wood making a sharp creaking sound.

“Old mother. I have come home at last. Do you know why?” The man said leaning toward her ear. His black eyes flashed with a cruel intensity, the fire making him appear devilish.

The old woman didn’t turn her head, but calmly said, “Of course. You have come to finish what you started years ago. You have come to kill me.” She didn’t stop knitting, only hesitating over a cumbersome knot as a hint of annoyance briefly crossed her face.

The man’s expression changed little. Some of the glee had been stolen from his eyes by her calm and emotionless affirmation of his intentions. The old woman had done this sort of thing for most of his life, and the man felt somehow cheated of his victory over her.

“Old woman, that is so. Why don’t you put that knitting down?” The man’s tone had a bit of hurt pride and a mixture of impatience about it now. Somehow slaying the old woman while she was working her needle seemed fundamentally wrong to him, while the act of killing her did not.

“You are a grown man now, and left this house when merely a boy. I wasn’t even aware that you had gone that day, till you didn’t clamor and holler for food first thing,” the old woman said, her voice tired and hoarse. The man only grunted in response. He had a tool especially prepared for this day, and he had taken  meticulous and proper care of it just for this moment.

He pulled out a slender blade, a small sword or a large knife, when a gun would have done as well. He wanted to use a blade for a reason however.  He wanted to see the look of pain on her face. He wanted to feel the blood when the metal cut through the corpse-like body of the old woman.

“It is your time, old mother.” The man said quietly in anticipation. The old woman continued working, looking toward the fire. If she heard him she gave no sign.

The man took out his custom sword knife out of its sheath of oiled leather, admiring the gleam of freshly sharpened metal as it gleamed from the firelight.

He placed it against her throat, adding just a little bit of pressure. He smiled at the little line of blood he had caused. The old woman didn’t give him the satisfaction of a reaction, merely looked ahead toward the fire as before.

There was a loud knocking at the door in the next moment. It was very loud, and happened again. The man looked toward the door, and cursed under his breath.

“Old mother, tell them it is all right, and that you wish to visit another time,” The man hissed in her ear, moving the blade only a little ways from her throat so that she could speak proper.

“But, dear boy, that would be a lie. You would have me lie, when you know how much I despise liars.” Now it was the old woman who had a glint in her eye. The man was now at her mercy because she knew he wanted her dead, and that this call of hers wouldn’t give him much time to flee the scene.

However, she must know she was dead either way. Whatever love had once existed between these two creatures had died a long time ago, and neither could remember when it had existed.

“Little Joe, Maryann, by all means come on in. The tea is ready in the kitchen, and i have a fresh baked apple pie for you!” The old woman yelled with sudden strength. The man glared at her, and lifted the blade just as the couple opened the door and entered.

Maryann shut the door, while her husband exclaimed, “Sir, what do you think you are doing here? Leave my grandma alone.”

The man was taken by surprise by the face displaced before him. It was so much like the face of his brother. The one that the old mother had favored to a fault. He had hated him so much, almost as much as he had hated the old woman. He now found himself more sad than hateful. This visage was much younger than his brother would have been on this day. It was his brother Joe’s son, and he was wedded as well.

This made the man realize how much he had missed of life after he ran away from home. This made him hesitate. The old woman grabbed at his hand with renewed energy and took the slender and rather small sword from his shocked fingers.

The old woman didn’t hesitate but neatly drove the blade through his back while he faced the newcomers. He felt it and put his hand where the blood began to well, in yet more surprise and pain. The old woman calmly reached out for a nearby wooden cane and motioned for the couple to follow her into the kitchen where the tea and pie were waiting.

“Well, that Johnny was always a failure. Too bad though. He is ruining my green rug. He always did, so I guess that’s nothing new. Come on, why are you standing there like that? We can’t let him stop us from our visit. He has tried to kill me before. Well, sit down!” The old woman ordered with a happy smile, oblivious to the act she had just done.

Little Joe and Maryann reluctantly sat down at the table, both  glancing nervously into the other room. “Grandma, don’t you think, we had best call the Doctor? Or something? There is a man bleeding to death in the other room.”

“So there is,” answered the old woman. “But then, you both saw him towering over me with that fool’s sword, don’t you? Well, it is nothing then. Here have some pie. I made it for you, especially.” The old woman dished out a slice for each one, and gave them each a cup of tea. The old woman looked at her apron in disgust. Well, laundry would be on her to do list for the next day, anyhow. She removed it carefully, and threw it into the sink.

“So, my dears, do you think your child is going to be a girl or a boy?”

Maryann remained pale, and knew not what to say. Little Joe answered, recovering a bit quicker from the shock. “Actually, we are still not sure; it is still a ways off after all. But, we were thinking if it is a boy,  of naming him perhaps after my Uncle who disappeared. I wonder what happened to the poor fella.”

“Hmm. Hard to say. Runaways are a sad lot.” The old woman said sternly. “I think Joseph would be much better suited for a boy though, myself.”

Maryann finally managed to speak and trying to sound normal said,” Of course, it could be a girl, and then I am sure we can name it after you, Grandma Mathilda.”

Little Joe nodded, patting Maryann gently on the hand. It was then that another knock came at the door. It was also very loud. They all looked at each other, no one saying a word.