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Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

Please check out the Haiku Heights blog and read the inspiring Haiku penned by fellow bloggers. Thank you for another  great word prompt…Gem.

My GEM

precious hands and toes
perfection filled with wonder
my treasure, my child

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Thank you to Stephanie of BeKindRewrite for her Inspiration Monday written prompts. I chose the last prompt and decided to write a Tanka poem for it. Please visit her blog and join in. You will find inspiration there!

Her Nose Gives Her Away

compare and contrast
faces back then with those now
size up and assess
visual paternity test
yes, her nose gives her away

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/katietakespicturesdotcom/6006599007/sizes/z/in/photostream/

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TWILIGHT

Twilight sings to me
Stars whisper sweet melody
My ears hear your song
These eyes know your rhapsody
Your lips hunt my ecstasy

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Thank you to Indigo Spider for the picture prompts this week. It is difficult to choose. I am looking forward to reading all the stories. I have chosen to write for Sunday Picture Press visual prompt #3.

Visual Prompt 3 — A Window on the Past by Marilyn Elmore Bragg (from chessiesphotos.wordpress.com/)
Window To My Soul
A replica of the long ago window was etched in Elizabeth’s mind. Every aspect of it was alive, a vivid capture, imprinted and engraved with indelible brain cells. This wasn’t a mere snapshot of a window, taken in haste, but a full album, which, when pulled from the mind’s memory shelves allowed for  different perspectives, lighting and composition. Often, when an especially hard decision had to be made, the window was a light to her soul, helping her see all angles, to better analyze and debate. The outcome was always a decision made from the vantage point of a balanced view.

Elizabeth sucked in deeply, eager to see her inanimate guide again, this window that had given her a view into her soul twenty-nine years ago. That decision had set her course in life. Now, she was in need of such help again.

Her mind flashed back to what once was. She had never lacked in the dating department. Men were naturally drawn to her. Her curves talked to them. When she walked, her bounce teased the eye. Her long, thick, soft brown hair followed the tilt of her head. Men, and women, too, couldn’t help notice her face, sensuous yet innocent. She never gave much weight to her outer appearance, though. She was what she was. After all, she had nothing to do with it. Genes, passed down through the generations, decided who this part of her was. She just happened to get some of the best from both sides.

What mattered most was the person she was inside, what her heart was, and her accomplishments. She worked hard at being fair and kind, respecting others, and helping when there was a need. Yet she needed to be her own person, one who could take care of herself, independent enough to always survive.This followed her throughout life, and in her career she was known for her fairness and good decision-making skills.

She thought back to the summer of her inner turmoil. Her closest college friend was spending a couple of months at an exclusive resort in the Catskills and had begged her to come. It would be a gift. Money was no object to her friend’s family. She had finally said yes and packed.

Then she thought of Don. She wouldn’t see him for two months. Don, who had her heart, loved her and gave all of himself to her. He could be described as everyone’s best friend, happy-go-lucky, and average in everything. He definitely was not a mover and shaker. She knew they would never be rich but felt she could live a comfortable middle class life with him.

Elizabeth still remembered the first time she had seen Thomas that long-ago summer. Her heart quickened. He was a looker, aristocratic nose, angular chin, easy-going, confident in every move he made. She knew his type. Whatever he wanted, he got. He could make anything happen. She saw him watching her. It excited her, an excitement she had never felt with Don. Such a pull. This was not part of her plan, not part of her being-fair code. But things happened. And they happened to Thomas, too. There were two full months of living the good life, fun, laughter, sunny days and sultry moon-filled nights with beach sand stuck to everything.

The road curved and Elizabeth turned when she saw the Catskill Resort sign. She was so close. She pulled in and saw ahead the dirt road that led to the old fort and her window. She parked. The knots in her stomach grew.

Half running  through the woods, she stopped short. There it was, in front of her, thick scored cement block walls. She had to stop. The memories were too powerful, overwhelming her. She needed to catch her breath. She bent over, with a hand on each knee and waited. Finally, able to look up, she saw, there, in front of her, her window, still faded gray wood, parched from the sun with peeling paint. Shivers ran the length of her spine. She walked up to it, slowly put her arm out and let her fingers gently caress the wood and glass, those same ones she had once touched and now were in her memory from all those years ago.

She remembered that last night long ago,  sitting alone, near the window letting it reflect back to her. She had cried and reasoned, said everything to justify letting go of Don. But she couldn’t. Don was in her soul. Her heart felt sick at the thought of saying goodby to Thomas, of letting go of how he made her feel, of the endless possibilities and easy life she could lead. But, let go she did.

Sometimes she would read in the newspaper about a new business Thomas was starting up, or the new cottage he and his wife were renovating in Newport. Once, many years later, he had called her. It was probably the Lagavulin scotch talking. He told her she had been the only one to break his heart. But he had moved on as she had.

Elizabeth knew she had made the right decision. Don was good to her, a hard worker and a great father to their three grown children. With her career, they had been able to make it work. Things had been going great until last year.

Her computer broke down and she had logged on to Don’s laptop. There, in front of her were messages from someone named Lisa, explicit reminders of many rendezvous. After sitting there frozen for hours, Elizabeth copied them, emailed them to herself and then printed each of them.

That night when Dan came home from work, he walked into packed bags sitting in the hallway. The emails were hung up with clothespins on a piece of wire that was strung from the kitchen window by the sink all the way into the dining room.

The last year was rough, then four months ago Elizabeth met Rick. She still had it, that same curvy body and the same tilt of the head. At age fifty-four her face was beautifully seasoned, not so innocent anymore but still sensuous. Rick was kind and funny. He had time to enjoy her company since he was coming to the end of his career, a good career that had allowed him the finer things in life. They laughed often, enjoyed each others families and looking forward to traveling. With Rick she would have the luxury of retiring early and enjoying a soft relaxed pace.

Don’s letters of apology, cards and phone calls never stopped. Sometimes, it was a single rose with a ribbon left on her doorstep while she was at work. Other times it was a quick email to make sure she was alright. When the kids told him she had the flu, he had her favorite restaurant deliver chicken soup. He never saw Lisa again, told her it meant nothing to him, that he had lost his head and would make it up to her for the rest of their lives if she would give him another chance. Even after he knew about Rick, he didn’t stop.

Elizabeth sat on the ground looking up at this window, the window to her soul. She thought of Don, and their long life together, and the lives of their children and grandchildren. She touched her hurt heart thinking of what she had learned last year. She remembered back to her long ago summer with Thomas. Don had never known about Thomas. She had always felt guilty for not telling him. Was she really any better than he was?

Now, with Rick in her life, there was excitement again. He was like a fire that never stopped burning, had a love for anything old and all that is new. He kept things positive for his family, kept them close together, even after the tragedy of losing his wife.  She knew she could enjoy every day with him, for the rest of their life, knew he would spoil her with whatever she wanted and then give her more.

Sitting alone, staring into the panes of glass, Elizabeth thought about her many life decisions. Just after dusk, she saw the reflection of a young girl, just twenty-five years old, walk slowly away from the window, wiping her tears. She, too, stood up, following in the footsteps of that young girl, knowing what she must do, the answer etched clearly in her mind.

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Thank you to Stephanie, of BeKindRewrite for her wonderful prompts. I haven’t written for these prompts for quite some time and am thrilled I had the time to write this week.

Please listen to this song Painted Desert Serenade at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liZ_lXUvikI. It it one of my favorites and is part of the inspiration for this story, too.

80-YEAR-OLD RUNAWAY

“Do you love me, Lady Jane?”

His throaty whisper stirs even the cilia in her ears and the vibrations carry waves that reach deep in her heart.

Jane, eighty-two years young, whisks away a strand of sliver gray from her forehead, looks into his hazel eyes, tilts her head ever so slightly, teases with an almost wink, then goes back to business at hand, pouring each of them a glass of fine wine.

“They call me a cougar, you know, going after a younger man. After all, you are barely eighty.”

Douglas chuckles as his imagination goes wild. Cougar, prowl, hunt, corner, pounce. He likes it!

“I borrowed Doug’s ’67 390 V8 today. Rides smooth. Maybe we can take it for a spin around the block later. No bucket seats. You know what that means!”

Jane hands Douglas the half-filled glass of wine, her fingers brushing briefly on his, savoring the feel.

“Do I know what that means? Hmm, one hand driving, and one hand…well, not on the steering wheel.”

The cuckoo clock sings. Four times. Douglas calculates quickly. At six chimes, Doug will be home from work, check the garages, know which car he ‘borrowed’ this time, and make his customary phone call. As tolerant as Doug always is, Douglas wonders if it was a mistake selling the home he and Edith lived in for almost fifty-five years and moving in with his son and family. His eyes crease a bit, remembering Edith’s pain as she fought to the end.  Nostalgia aside, he wonders what she would think of Jane?

“Penny for those deep thoughts.” Jane pats and rubs the couch and Douglas sits down, close enough to feel the warmth of her thigh.

“Just thoughts of how empty life would be if Lady Jane hadn’t run into me.”

Jane’s eyes flicker as she remembers how bittersweet that day was over two years ago.  Jim, the love of her life, who didn’t know her face anymore, was ready to let go. They had called her back into the nursing facility, just an hour after she had visited and fed him his dinner. She was running around the corner, wanting to hold his hand one last time, to say good-bye and thank him for all those years, for his love, for their family, for giving all of himself to her. She wasn’t looking, just running. She ran right into Douglas almost knocking both of them down.  She didn’t have time to stop, but yelled out an apology as she continued down the corridor.

Douglas turns to Jane and looks at the beauty old age has given her. Wrinkles, some deep-set and some fine, show the richness of a life well lived. Her beautiful hands, the hands he loves to hold, paper mâché hands he calls them, have shown love to many and now are showing love to him.

Jane cuddles up close, puts her head on his shoulder and Douglas moves closer, too, just in time to hear a soft growl in his ear.

Just then the phone rings. No one gets up and the answering machine clicks on. “This is Doug, looking for my 80-year-old runaway. Please give me a call back.”

Neither of them hear the phone click off.

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Thank you to Indigo Spider and Sunday Picture Press for her inspiring picture prompts. Here is my submission.

Visual Prompt 1 — Bridge by Marilyn Elmore Bragg (from chessiesphotos.wordpress.com/)

THE BRIDGE TO QUIET

As I step on the weathered walking bridge, I feel a gentle sway, a rhythm set by the wind and my body movement. My feet respond to the tempo, like a dance, a cadence dance. Such music to my soul! The soft mellow flow persuades me to move on, and the healing effect is already part of me. I can feel it infuse my very being. I love the tenderness the bridge shows me as my body feels its light soothing breeze caress and wrap around me in waves of warm-air rhyme. The well-worn bridge boards, seasoned and discolored, hold me close as I walk from the middle to the sides breathing in its welcome. Falling isn’t a worry. Life has already felled me and I now hope to be lifted. The motion beckons me as we step forward, the old stained-by-rain bridge and I, melded as one.

Looking up, I see, ahead, the cottage, my home for the next month, my hoped for Shangri-la, a place surrounded by lush green forest trees and overgrown spreading bushes. The time alone will be my elixir, my time to become whole again. The rocking chair on the covered porch is moving slightly to and fro, hardly noticeable, but I know it is the kindly wind once more welcoming me and whispering to me, hoping to mollify me, to release and then mend my deep hurts, bind my wounds and renew my broken spirit.

I look behind me, back at John, standing alone on the other side of the bridge, his kind sad eyes following me as I become smaller to him, moving farther away from his touch, from his life. Tender-hearted tolerant John, who took the time to find this haven for me. Never a better husband has there been. Eleven years of deep intimate love he has given me, and I, him.

The day we met, our hearts knew, our eyes spoke to each other with bashful blinks. What fun we had exploring and  learning together. Our first kiss, so shy and awkward, young lips, hardly touching, and then laughing together about it later on. Holding hands has never grown old.  I still love to weave my fingers in his, to squeeze his hand, embrace the sensual feel it gives, and then smile at his crinkled eyes, knowing he is smiling back. Soul mates. That is what we are, what nothing can take from us, not time, not disappointment, not life hurts…not even miscarriage.

My brow furrows as I think of the word miscarriage. Once, I looked up the definition. It said ‘failure’.  Does that word convey the pain of seeing your much-wanted first baby born blue and without breath, the umbilical cord wrapped around its neck. NO. Does that word explain how you feel when a year later your second cannot make it to term and is born on the bathroom floor three months too early, and dies before the ambulance arrives. NO. What about the third, fourth, fifth and just three months ago, the sixth. NO. NO. NO.NO. That word does no justice to the emotional pain. None.

There is a movement at a distance. It stops my thoughts and I see John waving goodbye, hugging his chest, then pointing to me, a motion to show his love, that he understands and knows I need to heal. My John needs resuscitation, too, and badly wants a child. He will miss me as much as I will miss him. John, also broken, is putting himself aside for me, giving me this time alone, to take what is withered and broken inside, to pull it out of me, painful like a stillbirth, to cry and scream and moan even more than I have, and to work at healing – going from in to out.  My compassionate John.

As he turns to walk away, John holds up his phone. I smile, pull mine from my pocket and wave it to him. After giving me the thumbs up, he turns, shoulders a bit sloped, and walks a distance back to our car. Panic sets in. I have not spent a day without him in such a long time. I miss him already.

I look down at my phone, a reminder of why I am here. A new medical procedure we learned about last week sounds hopeful.  Can I make peace with what has already been so I can move forward and try something new? Can I endure more disappointment? Do I dare hope once more?

I turn back looking toward the trees and bushes as I hold the sides of the bridge, touching the railing, like I would an old friend I know very well. The sway and rhythm again appease my spirit and take away my restlessness as I make my way to the nestled cottage, across this bridge to the land of quiet, alone.

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This weekend I spent time with my memories. Not all of them. There are far too many for that. Fifty-nine years of  living has taught  me how to reach in and pull them down from the inner shelves of my mind. One at a time, I can dust off whichever I choose and enjoy the gift of reflection.

My memory folds keep and nourish my experiences as well as things near and dear to me, like family, friends, loves, good times, hard times, travel, work, sorrows, joys and even things unknown to me.  Some are easily attainable and others I have tucked away, cradled deep in the recesses of my mind.  These I have to unfold a little at a time, like an accordion, rhythmically, because of their heaviness, and eventually when enough air enters the folds they open themselves to me.

I woke up Sunday morning very early with a restlessness inside, a raw longing that wouldn’t go away. It was more like an ache, a gnawing, and unreachable. It was deep enough to touch my kidneys. I finally gave in to it and dragged myself out of bed. It wasn’t even 6:00 A.M. I sat at my desk staring at the computer without turning it on. How could I take care of myself, take care of whatever this ache was?

I decided I should write, get my feelings out. When the pencil touched the paper nothing happened except the gnawing grew and the rawness became sharper. Words weren’t there.

I knew, then,  what I must do, what I had avoided for quite some time, what I didn’t want to do. As a master at deceiving myself, I no longer had the luxury of time. I was long overdue to face my albatross.

Breathing deeply, audibly, I decided to dig into the very nook and cranny of my memory that I prefer to avoid, the ‘What If’s’ and the ‘If Only’s’. These are very painful to me and when I go there I deal with fear, despair, hopelessness, grief and tears.

Opening the “If Only’s” takes great courage on my part because the crevices often feel like canyons.  My heart becomes heavy and broken knowing many of the ‘If Only’s” were decisions I made that changed my life. Sometimes they were decisions made because I was backed into a corner, sometimes because I didn’t know how to do it any other way, sometimes because circumstances dictated it, and more than once the decision I made was one I continued to regret all my life, despite being the right decision at the time.

I have learned the hard way, that to move on, I must make peace with what burdens me. So, revisit I must. Revisit I did. It was a long hard day, one filled with memories that made me laugh, then cry, comparisons of ‘what if’ to ‘what is’ and vice versa. I held close to me some of the ‘If Only’s’ and refused to let go for hours, finally giving in to what I knew must be. I laughed at the preposterousness of some of my thoughts and cried when my heart ached.

Finally, long after midnight, I was able to put to sleep memories that needed to rest.  Folding them gently, lovingly, I placed them in hibernation, beyond the folds where the accordion can soothe them awake, into the innermost of folds where some day in the future, time will wink and nod. I will know then, I can caress then once more, for a while, without tears and, then,  put them back, not in the innermost of folds, but this time in the memory folds of joy where they can be taken out a little at a time and, then, more often, fondled lovingly and put back for a later visit. Someday, they will be my joy.

Yes, Sunday, I organized my life once more and in the process I didn’t sell my soul.

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