Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Stories’ Category

The Enchanted Trail…LEMON PIE

I have held a number of jobs throughout the years. One of my favorites was as a waitress at a small restaurant in my hometown. The Enchanted Trail Restaurant was a place to grab a quick bite while catching up on the latest town news, a local hangout for teenagers, and the perfect place to hone my people and work skills for the future.

I started working there at age fourteen. During the school year I worked every weekend, and in the summer I worked full-time. When I left for college, they were flexible with my schedule. All I needed to do was give them a quick call to let them know I was coming home for the weekend. It got me a few extra hours and put much-needed jingle in my pocket.

Pearl and Aimé owned the restaurant. They had previously owned a number of businesses in our small town and were well-known. Pearl was a hard worker, a fair person, and she knew the business like the back of her hand.  Her husband, Aimé, did some of the heavy work, hauling barrels and cases of beer, moving things that needed to be moved, watching the cash register, and keeping us all in check.

Years before, as a teenager, my mother worked for them, too. She and their two daughters were great friends. I worked with their granddaughter, Sonja. When Sonja started working, Pearl sought me out and asked me to train Sonja. I considered it a great compliment because there were other more experienced workers there.

Juliette, the baker, a relative of Pearl, worked a couple of days a week whipping up her delicious desserts, puddings, and pies. One day, after Juliette had worked her magic, there were several pies on the sideboard, lemon meringue, apple, blueberry, raspberry, and strawberry rhubarb, all calling out to the customers. Those tempting smells permeated the dining room. My order pad was ready and so was I.

I approached a large group of folks who had just finished their main course. I took their dessert orders. Each ordered something different. I ran back to the kitchen and started with the lemon meringue pie. I moved it closer to me on the sideboard, placed the pie cutter on top of the pie and started to cut it into eight slices. Just as I got to the last piece Aimé came around the corner and saw every single piece of pie slip and plop on the floor. I heard an angry gasp and then he sputtered and told me I had destroyed the WHOLE pie and asked why I do that! I held back tears and replied I didn’t do it on purpose. He glared at me and said I needed to be more careful and not so clumsy. Then he huffed out. Mortified, I ran to the bathroom while someone else finished my order for me.

Please understand that Aimé was very good to me. He always called me ‘little girl’ and was, more often than not, very patient. In fact, he was a bit more patient with me that with some of the others. But, the more I thought about his reaction, the more hurt and stubborn I became. I decided to buy every piece of pie I had dropped. I grabbed a slip and wrote down eight slices of lemon meringue pie, used my tip money and paid for every single piece. Then, I went back to work!

Later that evening, when Aimé gathered all the slips and was ready to cash out, he noticed an order for eight slices of pie. He approached me and asked if I had done this. I said that I had since he had been so upset over the incident. He immediately said he would not accept the money and tried to give me the full amount. I argued with him and let him know that I did it because he was so upset. He went directly to my ‘tip cup’ and put the amount in. I didn’t say a word, knowing he was chastising himself for letting his aggravation get the best of him.

Aimé and I never had another altercation in the many years I worked there. We respected each other and worked well together. He knew I was doing the best I could and I always gave one hundred percent on the job.

.Believe me, from that point on, each time I used the pie cutter, I remembered Aime and the Lemon Pie incident.

Read Full Post »

Thank you to Indigo Spider for Sunday Picture Press and the picture prompts this week. I decided to go sappy and romantic with this one. But, I couldn’t help throwing in sadness, too. The picture I chose to write about is prompt #3, title unknown by Diane Arbus.

Visual Prompt 3 — Title Unknown, Diane Arbus

SHADOW

Laurie studied the handwriting on the package. It was not familiar to her. The return address didn’t include a name, just 1465 Gibbons Drive. No city, no state, no zip code. She glanced at the postmark, Fieldcrest, and sucked in too much air. She started to cough. It couldn’t be.

Her hands shook, and her heart raced as she gently opened the package. Inside was a small wooden box, exquisitely and painstakingly hand carved. At the center, was the sun, raised above all else, warm and inviting. Its rays emanated to all areas of the box. On the right was a single rose bud burnished into the rays. The bud wasn’t in full bloom yet, but it looked hopeful. On the left side were two hands, intertwined, fingers gently and intimately holding each other. The sun’s rays surrounded and caressed both hands. Brass hinges on the back of the box kept the cover intact as Laurie opened it. On the inside cover, engraved simply, were three lines.

My promise to you
1962
Never forgotten

The inside bottom and sides of the box were padded and covered in fine silk, mostly the color of rose buds, with a delicate pattern set in, branches, laced in green and brown, like the limbs of a cherry tree.  On top of the silk, in crinkled, meticulously folded tissue paper, was a picture. Laurie teared up when she saw it. She remembered that very night. She had begged her sister to come along. She needed her near, for courage, to get through. Her sister had snapped the photo and Laurie always wondered where it had gone. It was the last night she spent with Bob, the night she learned he would be leaving to do the ‘right’ thing…marry someone else, someone who was carrying his child. Someone she knew he didn’t love, a brief encounter that happened before they met.

Underneath, below where the picture had been placed, Laurie saw an envelope. Her name was written in the unfamiliar handwriting. Carefully, she put the picture down and lifted the envelope from the box, opening it. Inside, was an obituary, cut out from the newspaper. She read it and let her fingers slide over the name…Robert Gordon, 69, of Fieldcrest.  Then, she opened the letter, stuffed in the same envelope, in the same unknown handwriting.

Laurie:
As I was going through my husband’s things recently, I came across this box he had hand carved and hidden in his garage. He promised me he would never see you again when we married and I know he kept his promise. He was that kind of man. I also know he didn’t loved me at the time and was being gallant since I was carrying his child. I thought time would take care of that and you would fade from his mind.  How wrong I was. I competed with your memory all my married life. He never mentioned your name to me, ever, but you were always there. He was a good man, good to me and good to our children. I’m not sure if sending this to you is the right thing to do and I may regret it, but since he gave up something he wanted badly for me, I feel I must do this last thing for him. Maybe doing this will help me to overcome the sadness I have felt all these years, living in a marriage under your shadow.
Best – Eve

Laurie fell back into a chair, staring.  A few minutes later, she stood up, holding the picture, the obituary, and the letter tightly in her hand. She walked to the mirror above the fireplace, looked at herself, 69 years old, soft delicate wrinkles, wrinkles of a life lived, and watched her eyes as tears slowly slid down her cheeks.

Read Full Post »

Thank you, Stephanie, of BeKindRewrite, for your Inspiration Monday prompts. It has been some time since I have written, but I just couldn’t resist the title No One Remembers But Me. It took me back to a time long ago, a walk down memory lane.

NO ONE REMEMBERS BUT ME 

When I close my eyes, I see the two of us, Mom and me, sitting together on the enclosed front porch of our small, white, two-story house. The supper dishes are washed and dried. Lunch is put up for Dad’s long day of logging in the woods tomorrow. I can faintly hear Dad talking to Mr. Brud Gilbert, also a logging contractor, as they sit at the kitchen table, the makeshift desk Dad always uses for his part-time bookkeeping work. My sister, Lu Ann, is off playing with her friend, Marlene, and my brother, Ernie, is swinging from the Tarzan rope in the huge tree behind our house.

On this warm and sultry evening there isn’t even a hint of a breeze coming from the porch screen door or the large, wavy, meticulously clean windows that give us a view to all the goings-on around this part of Main Street. The stifling air doesn’t bother us, though, as we sit together watching sporadic traffic pass by. We recognize each car, know who is in it, and know most of what is happening in their lives and the lives of their families. We even know their joys and sorrows on their personal roller coaster ride through life.

Through the screened porch windows we see Mr. and Mrs. Bouvier drive by at all of fifteen miles per hour, perhaps heading to tell someone who has not yet heard, about the invitation they received a few months back to attend John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy’s presidential inauguration  My paternal grandmother, Mae Lumbert, driving like the hot rod she is, whizzes by in her red VW bug, in a hurry to pick up someone in need of a ride to church services this evening. Mom comments on what a kind woman Grammie is. A couple of minutes later, Butchie Nadeau and Harold Coro fly by on Butchie’s old bike. They both have fishing rods in their hands and Harold is hitching a ride on the front handle bars. We wonder if they are going to crash before they get to the Moose River bridge. Mr. and Mrs. Vincent Smith float by in their large black car. Whenever I see Mr. Smith, it reminds me of the story Dad told me about working for him at Smith’s Hardware Store for a while when he was just out of high school. At the young age of eighteen he needed the work. He was already married to my mom and I was born just after he graduated from school.

Mom looks over at me with a twinkle in her eye, and starts to sing one of her old French songs. The words are coming from deep in her heart. I know them because I always listen intently, not only to her words, but to her voice, a voice untrained to some, but, beautiful to me, and full of love and fun. These are the very songs someone taught her when she was a child sitting with her family and friends on the front piazza at the boarding home her mother, my grandmother, owned and ran.

As she finishes her song, Mom glances my way and asks what the meaning of this song is. I translate the words from French to English for her. She smiles at me, an intimate mother to daughter smile and changes her question. What can we learn from the words of this song? I think for a minute about the song and what it teaches me, what the meaning behind the words are. This song is about a girl who ignores her parents warning not to go dancing on the old rotten wooden bridge. The consequences are disastrous. Sometimes I almost want to cry because some of these French songs are sad. They teach lessons about hard times in life, and hurts and disappointments that result from our choices. We talk a bit about how to make decisions that will benefit us in our own lives.

Mom winks and then starts to sing another French song. This time it is light and funny. I smile and start to sing along with her.  We laugh together because we both know that I can’t carry a tune for the life of me. I can’t even tell the difference between a good singing voice and a bad one. It doesn’t matter, though. Mom loves my voice just the way it is. She always tells me if a song comes from the heart that is what matters.

No one remembers but me…

Read Full Post »

Thank you to Indigo Spider’s Sunday Picture Press for the inspiring prompts. I appreciate the hard work that goes into this and am glad when I have time to participate. Thank you for giving many of us the opportunity to take part in these writing pleasures! I have chosen the picture below to write my story.

Visual Prompt 2 — Untitled by Imke Rusk (http://imkerust.com/)

SURVIVAL STRETCH

Helmut positioned his seasoned body and crouched, yoga-like, into himself as he folded his knees into his upper trunk. One arm he tucked under his chest, the other he stretched and wrapped around the back of his head, cradling it while extending it beyond the space that was his body. The ridge of each vertebrae stretched to the point of relief. He felt the slight arch as he lay, frozen in time, remembering a different life, a time before he knew this survival stretch.

His old fingers felt young again as his mind touched the black and white, the ebony and ivory of his piano. His eyes closed and memory began to play his composition. Melody, chorus, melody, chorus, change up, chorus, melody. He felt the audience lean forward in unison, engulfed in his creation, drawn in by the emotion of his piece.  The burning inside, the intense fervor for his music carried him and embraced his being as his passion intensified, kindling his movements. Always, he felt honored at their standing ovations, at the sense of accomplishment he felt knowing they were at one with him in their appreciation of his work.

Slowly, Helmut disentangled his body from his survival stretch. He was still grateful, all these years later for the empowerment his stretch gave him, for the good memories it was able to bring up, for the ability to hold on to the richness of life he and his family had known at one time in his beloved Germany.  It had been a country of his people, Jews like him with a passion for the arts, an intensity for life itself.

He thought of his father, a talented doctor who often gave his time to those of his kind, his own, while maintaining a prosperous practice. And his mother, ahh, his mother…a beautiful and talented musician in her own right who had nurtured his love for composing and his ability as a pianist. How eternally grateful he was for them. Dachau may have taken their bodies but he would make sure their memories, their souls, lived on.

Helmut checked the calendar on his desk for the date of his next lecture. Chicago, next week, Tuesday. How many lectures had he given? How many schools had he visited? How many questions had he answered? Never enough. Never. Never must they forget.

He smiled as his talented pianist fingers, worn and wrinkled, picked up the picture of his family, taken years ago.  He, his wife and their three children. This wasn’t just a picture. It was a celebration of survival. He and his wife had, miraculously, made it beyond Auschwitz. Their three children were now carrying their family history as part of who they were. They would spread it forward to their children, too. Helmut’s mother’s vivid brown eyes were now being worn by both of his daughters and their musical ability was her gift passed to them. His son walked exactly like his father and his affinity for medicine was a testament of what one can be given.

The piano in the corner of his living room stood ready, beckoning him to sit and touch the lovely keys, no longer made of ivory and ebony, but of plastic. An elephant somewhere was lifting its trunk in approval of the change.

Helmut, too, lifted his trunk, straightened his head, and walked to his piano, in approval of the life he had lived and the choices he had made. Sitting down, he touched different parts of his piano, then closing his eyes, he let his fingers work magic until his ears tingled with pleasure.

Read Full Post »

Thank you to Stephanie of BeKindRewrite for her prompts. Again, they were all so good. I chose Children’s Prayers with a slight adaptation. This story deals with something many children have had to face. It is true to life and needs to be told for all those young children who deal with things we adults sometimes forget.

A CHILD’S PRAYER

The sobs were coming from a bedroom down the hall, heart wrenching sobs, then gasps for air, sometimes deep, sometimes shallow.

Gina lifted her head from the pillow, and, listening intently, she turned slowly.  She pulled herself up and swung her feet around to the edge of the bed. This was something she never expected to hear.

Swallowing hard, she thought of the many reasons a mother can never get used to the sounds of heartbreak coming from the heart of her child, especially a five-year old, so innocent and loveable.  Her eyes glanced down and saw the brown teddy bear laying next to her feet. She bent, picked it up and hugged it to her chest.

As Gina entered Evan’s bedroom he looked over at her, tears brimming, spilling from his blue eyes and rolling down his cheeks. He pulled the covers over his head.

“Evan, sweetie, can I sit down on your bed next to you?”

“O.K.”

“Can you tell me why you are crying, why you feel so badly now.”

“No.”

Slowly, a blond head with tousled hair peeked up from under the blankets.

“Is it because Daddy isn’t living here any more?”

Her sweet boy’s head disappeared again and the howls of his heart breaking into a million pieces were almost more than she could stand. She lifted his blanket just a bit and put his teddy bear next to his arm and then lifted his arm over his stuffed friend to hug tight. She listened to more of his sobs and his gasping while he tried to catch his breath.

“You know, Evan, Daddy loves you very, very much. He has always told me how special you are to him.  What is the special name he calls you?”.

Evan lifted the blanket and pulled himself up still hugging his little friend.

”His buddy”.

“That’s right. And, I know for a fact,  he doesn’t call anyone else his buddy. That shows how important you are to him and you will always be his buddy, too”.

“But, Mommy, why did Daddy leave me?”

“Remember the other day when you and I went to the beach.  I told you that Daddy is always going to be a part of your life. You will always be able to visit with him and he will come here to visit you. Daddy will always love you.  He hasn’t stopped loving you. He never will.

“But he isn’t here anymore. He left me.”

“Sometimes grown-ups make decisions that are very hard for children to understand. Remember, sweetie, even though he isn’t here anymore you will still see him often. You can call him anytime and when you start kindergarten soon Daddy will be there, too. He can go to your school just like I can. He will never stop seeing you. Never ever stop.”

“Mommy, can I say a prayer for my Daddy?”

“Of course. Let me hold you and Teddy tight.”

“Dear God – Please help my Daddy to come back home. I like it when he tickles me awake and when he cooks I sit on the counter and watch him. I miss him, God. Please, please bring my Daddy back home to me. Amen

As Gina struggled to hold back her tears, she kissed his tear-stained cheek and give him a huge, tight hug.

“Let me tuck you in with Teddy Bear. You know when you feel very sad you can hold him close and kiss him. And when you cry for Daddy, it is ok. Everyone gets sad sometime. There is nothing wrong with that. The important thing to remember is both Daddy and I are your family and we will always love you THIS MUCH, both of us. I will turn off the light now and when you wake up tomorrow morning you can call Daddy to say hi, o.k?”

“I love you Mommy. I feel better. But I still want Daddy to come home again.”

Gina sat on the edge of Evan’s bed caressing his cheeks, those plump cheeks she loved to kiss, and waited until he fell asleep. She watched as his breathing became slow and regular. Then she made her way back to her bedroom, alone.

She shut the door quietly, threw herself on the bed and wept uncontrollably.

Read Full Post »

Thank you to BeKindRewrite for this weeks prompts. I have chosen ” What they Wanted me to Be’ as my prompt. Again, thank you, Stephanie!

WHAT THEY WANTED ME TO BE

The cocktail glass reflected the deep claret color of wine Mother was drinking. Her perfectly French manicured fingernails enhanced the thin elegant stem while her dainty protruding pinkie gave proof of her status in life.

“I mention this, darling, because we want the very best for you. After all, your great-grandfather worked extremely hard to establish his legacy.  His trust is not one to be mocked. Your life would have been significantly different had he not been diligent.”

I glanced down at my t-shirt with the large chartreuse fluorescent letters and the blaring motto “Teabaggers gave America a Boehner”, then looked up at my mother and wondered if we were truly related.

“Don’t worry about it, Mom. I am not doing anything great-grandfather would have been upset with, okay?”

“Sweetie, the fact that you didn’t attend the fund-raiser I sent you a ticket for, well, darling, it sends a message that can’t be ignored.”

“Thanks for the visit, Mom. I am NOT getting into another political/philosophical discussion with you. The semester ends in just a few weeks, and, I will be back soon..”  A quick touch of a kiss on her own index finger and then a touch of her finger to Mom’s lips and she was gone, out the door, off to bigger and better things.

After a significant sigh, Dianah, climbed the massive granite staircase and entered her bedroom suite. Walking over to a dresser in the far corner, she pulled the large drawer open. Gently, she unfolded a t-shirt and looked at the message…”Haight-Ashbury…Summer of Love – 1967″. Her mind wandered back to what her life had been while she had attended the University of California, Berkeley.

Dianah’s lips smiled while her long fingernails helped her fold this t-shirt she had never been able to let go. She reflected on ‘what they wanted me to be’ back then, long ago in 1967,  to what she was now.

Her tongue wet her lips, those same lips her daughter recently kissed by proxy finger, and she thought “Ah, yes, what goes around, comes around!”

Read Full Post »

Thank you to Indigo Spider of Sunday Picture Press for three amazing pictures, visual prompts for the week. I have chosen the second picture. Head over to her blog and join in the fun!

Visual Prompt 2 — Title and Artist Unknown

BRIDGE OF SMILES

Standing at the top of the curved bridge, Jeanne stopped short. Where was she? What was she doing here?  In the water below she saw the reflection of an old woman, someone she didn’t know. Panic spread to her soul. How could it be? She stared at the still water, hardly a movement, except for the blinking eyes on that barely moving old woman. The dark tree branches from the water’s edge gave the air a misty feel. The gray bricks of the bridge and the high round shape of the walkway made a perfect circle for her to peer down under and look through. Maybe, just maybe, if she peered hard enough…

Jeanne squeezed her eyes shut, then opened them and continued to let the water soothe her until she remembered. Him. His laughter. His touch. His warmth. Ahhh, yes, yes. Her tense wrinkled forehead softened. Her mouth curved up into a smile. Yes, there had been good times. Even when there had been hardly enough to eat, and no work during the depression, they still had each other to hold. And children, a house full of busy, noisy children. A passing memory, a whiff of baby lotion, of clean, air-dried laundry and bread baking caused her to look even deeper into the water. What were their names?

Debbie sat on the edge of the bank watching her grandmother, seeing the smile on her face, the smile which had, of late, become so elusive. She looked beyond the bridge, to the other side. All those white granite stones had names on them, family names, and dates. Everyone there, lying deep in earth’s dust had been loved by someone, even if it had only been the woman who birthed them.

She thought of her Grandfather John, his name carved there, too, in the small plot beyond the bridge. He had been a gentle man, a hard worker who never tired of providing for his six children. She had heard stories from her mother about his kindness to others. Debbie had felt his kindness, too. She remembered the times he took her fishing in the river below his house. Each time she insisted on a new hand-made fishing pole from an alder. He always winked at her, saying no, then off they would go, hand-in-hand, to look for the best one to cut. That was such a long time ago.

Coming here, to this bridge had become a family ritual, a place to come to catch a glimpse of a passing smile on a face that had once worn a perpetual smile.  After Grandfather John was gone, no one knew how to ease Grandmother’s grief. It was so hard watching her mind move inward, forgetting things and forgetting people. She often didn’t remember her own children’s names, and none of the grandchildren.

As Debbie looked up her heart swelled with love. This woman she no longer knew well, who had always been so special in her life but was now almost a stranger, this woman deserved the kind of love she had given out all her life. Visits here would continue as long as possible. There was something about the bridge that allowed  her to go back in time, to remember. She saw Grandmother lift her head and look toward the white granite posts.

Looking beyond the water, at the grassy area, Jeanne’s eyes caught the white markers. She stopped smiling. She lifted her head, sadness in her dull blue eyes. Where was she? She looked down at the water again, puzzled, then turned to see a young woman coming forward. She looked so familiar. She didn’t remember where she had seen her, but when she looked at her, she saw her own blue eyes, smiling back.

“Let’s get your sweater, Grandmother, and then we will head home for dinner. We’ll come back again, soon.”

Debbie put her arm through her grandmother’s, touching fondly her paper-thin, see-through skin, and slowly they walked, arm-in-arm toward the car.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »