Margaret had wondered for most of her adult life why she seemed so male in her thinking. Her female friends bored her too often with their over-emotionalism. She wanted facts, to fix things, to do things. Like a guy.
She wondered why she had a tremendous desire to visit England, Ireland and Wales as often as possible. Her husband’s job took him their periodically and it gave her a chance. In some ways she felt more at home there than in the states.
Liam tried to concentrate on his maths as the teacher wrote on the board, but his mind was on the new “cat’s eye” he had just traded Fabian for before school. He had wanted it for weeks and couldn’t wait for the bell so he could play with his friends.
Pantglas Junior School was an integral part of the small hamlet of Amberfan, Wales. The school was home to over 160 children who worked on their maths, spelling, reading each day.
Liam was not a studious child. For that matter, he wasn’t a good student at all. His father, a supervisor for the National Coal Board, chided him often for his marks. But Liam was an active boy of 12 and sitting still for lessons was a chore at best and an impossibility at worst.
Liam wanted to play football or marbles or wrestle with his friends. His “da” had all but given up on his goal for Liam to be the doctor he hoped for. Well, at least the Coal Board was always hiring.
As Liam looked out the window, day dreaming about marbles, he noticed something strange. A shadow was climbing down the hill next to the town. Strange, he thought, it was a sunny day, but the shadow was black. It almost seemed as if the ground itself were turning black and flowing into the town.
The coal slurry buried Liam, crushing him and filling his lungs with black goo. There was no air. Fortunately his end was quick.
At the same moment, half a world away, a baby was born.
“What will you name her?” asked the obstetrician.
“She’s Margaret” was her proud father’s reply.
Tom hated her.
Every day she was there with her brightness, joy, light, dancing in the parking lot just outside his apartment. Emma had been his brightness, his joy, his light. His Emma. Now Emma was gone and she was a daily, painful reminder. So he hated her.
What right did she have to invade his tiny, dark life? Why must she, every day, kindle his pain with her warmth? It was cruel.
He watched her dance through the dirt smeared window. He found his gaze drawn to her. She moved gracefully, purposefully for hours. Even the flowers turned to watch.
He squinted against her intensity, pushing the welling tears down his cheek. And still she danced, moving lightly across the lot, reflected in the chrome and glass of the cars.
When he could stand to look at her no longer, he would close the blinds and retreat to the darkness, and think about his Emma.
This is from a writing prompt for a writer’s group. I was supposed to write a piece on observing the sun like a ballerina without actually mentioning the sun.
Dr. Meg and I are writing a little novella we hope you will enjoy and keep you in suspense. I wrote the first chapter, she wrote the second. The third is here. To read the fourth, go here. The fifth installment is here. Read the sixth installment by clicking here. The seventh is here. Eight here. Nine can be found here. Meg has written chapter 10, go over to her blog to read it. Chapter 11 is here. Chapter 12 is over at Meg’s blog. Chapter 13 is here. Go over to Meg’s to read the exciting conclusion by clicking here.
Chapter 14 – The Solution
“The rope, Melody. Get it, now!” Anton commanded.
Mel, still in shock and reeling from what had just happened —from what she had done— shook herself into action. “The rope, the rope, the rope,” she repeated, willing herself to move. She stumbled toward the SUV while Anton… (Click here to read the rest at Meg’s blog.)
Hope is a luxury only afforded to those at ease. Roger had given up ease and hope months ago.
Pancreas. A death sentence sooner rather than later. There would be no appeals. Three months in and he decided to give up treatment. “Dead is dead” his father would say when someone passed. No mourning. Dead is dead.
The temporal nature of life hadn’t ever entered Roger’s mind. He was 48. Young. He would make something of himself. He had plenty of time.
They were the same lies he told himself all his life – he would be someone. Failed venture after failed venture did not dissuade him from his fantasy. He knew it would happen for him “soon, just around the corner….” The books all promised it. “Just believe,” they would say.
Now he realized for the first time he was done. Dead is dead.
His children were grown, out on their own. Occasional cards but no genuine contact. His wife left him a dozen years ago. “I can’t do this any more,” she said. He didn’t even have her address now.
He was alone. Dying alone. Still a nobody, also-ran in life. Dead is dead.
Positive thinking, motivational posters all meaningless now. He would never be anything. He had wasted his life pursuing greatness and had, in the end, become nothing. There were no family, no friends, just a tiny life. One of 7 billion.
His children would come to the funeral, of course, it was an obligation. But that’s it. He had squandered his life selfishly chasing his ego dreams and had ignored the truly important.
We reap what we sow, he said to himself.
Dead is dead.
This is just an update for anyone who’s playing along at home.
Last week was tough.
Monday morning he had a seizure. She took him to the vet’s and they were unable to do anything for him. He died a little before 9am.
Waco came home, empty collar and his toy in hand, and cried. We knew this day was coming, and that it might come soon, but her pain was intense. She called and asked me to come down that afternoon.
She had a doctor’s appointment of her own in the afternoon, so when I arrived the house was empty. I walked in to the living room and found Benz’ collar and his booboo laid out neatly on the ottoman. That’s when I cried.
Monday evening was difficult, as expected. Tuesday was as well. She didn’t want to come home to the reminders in every corner, so we went out. We came home and continued our drinking. We talked. Cried a bit.
Over the weekend we stayed busy. Caught up on some chores. Waco did some crafting. Went to a Superbowl party. I came home Tuesday morning.
Last night was Waco’s first night coming home to an empty house. No sound of Benz’ collar jingling, no greeting her at the door. She likes to process alone so I didn’t talk to her about it. I’m sure she cried, but I’m sure she did fine.
A year ago today, after years of ravaged body leaving him blind and deaf, Waco’s friends’ son passed away. It was not unexpected, but it was sudden. Today I felt inspired to write a piece based on some of the impressions those who loved him shared with me.
He still had joy.
He still spoke joy.
He still sensed joy.
Smile not forgotten.
He still brings joy.
They found the brain tumor shortly before her 32 birthday and she died before her 33rd. He mourned. He was angry. Angry with her for dying. Angry at the doctors and chemo and everything they had done to save her. None of it mattered. He was angry with her for dying.
They had been together for eight years. They had a son. She left them alone. Alone. Alone to deal with the world. Sadness. Life went on and she wouldn’t be there, ever again.
He avoided dealing with her “stuff.” Her closet was still full of clothes and shoes. That dress that was “too small” but he loved. Shoes that were “impossible to walk in” but incited his libido.
And, in the back of her closet, were her journals.
During the time they were married he never would have considered reading her journals. They were her private thoughts. Her dreams. Her fears. They were the “real” her.
But now she was dead. The word destroyed him. Never again. Never again would they have anything. Not good nor bad. Just never.
Never plagued him.
After months, he was ready. Ready to read her private thoughts. More than ready. He wanted to know her most intimate thoughts. He wanted to know how she really felt – about him, about their son.
So he read.
He started at the beginning. She was 17. Crushes on boys. Fears about her future. Concerns about algebra.
He skipped to their relationship. “Does he really like me?” “What is he thinking?” Then, “he said he loves me” and “he proposed!”
He cried. He missed her. He wanted to join her, but their son…
Finally, he skipped to her last entries:
“I know you will read this. I loved you always. I will love you and Stephan always. I may be gone, but you will go on and you two will be the me I always wanted to be.”