Reminiscing Revisited

Daily Prompt: From You to You

Write a letter to your 14-year-old self.

~*~

Sally gazed thoughtfully through the kitchen window toward the hammock strung between maples where her 12-year-old niece, Manda, was once again happily swinging. The sweet tones of the young girl’s voice reverberated into the summer stillness, singing the tune to Reminiscing even though she’d only heard it for the first time a few minutes earlier. What a remarkable ear for music the young girl had, her aunt mused. A chip off the old family block, that’s for sure.

Sally smiled as Manda stopped to take a breath and inhaled chocolate ice cream. Oh, to be young again.

She returned to sit at the kitchen table with her glass of iced tea and sighed, remembering how much less idyllic her life had been at that age. And then her thoughts shifted to that favourite song and being 14 years old, and she sighed some more. Fourteen. What a torturous year that had been.

Sally reached for a notepad in the middle of the circular pine table, kept there for random thoughts, and dug for the fountain pen she always carried in her apron pocket. Perhaps it was time she wrote her 14-year-old self a letter. For some reason she felt prompted. Taking another sip of iced tea she set to work.

~*~

Dear 14-year-old Sally,

(She hesitated, not knowing where to start and then decided it was best to free write and see what happened … )

Oh, I remember you so well. Does that please you? To have not been forgotten? I hope so, because there are so many other periods of my life that have disappeared from memory liked clouds in the ether. But I remember you, and I wish it was for completely happy reasons.

(Sally took another sip of iced tea and peeked out the window. Manda was still happy. Returning to her missive, Sally continued to write … )

Having said that, I remember only part of that year ~ a time where you ought to have been most happy and were, instead, most traumatized. I know how you loved to visit your grandmother; to be in the small town where she lived, so close to the countryside where you and she and your brother would take long drives up to the old family homestead and stop for ice cream at the greasy spoon. I know you loved that. It helped you to feel rooted to hear the family stories of homesteading and hardship and ultimately, family success.

However, I also remember the terror you felt of  …

(Sally stopped. Was it too painful a memory? She took a deep breath and continued …)

Oh, if not for that dreadful man your whole life might have been different. If only people had known how despicable he was. If only gran had understood she would never have continued to let him visit knowing what he’d done and how much you feared him. Did she just not see? I know you were never able to tell her about what had happened eight years before ~ he’d made you promise. And you, being the good girl you were, kept your promises. But at such a cost! No wonder you ran away to your friend’s farm for weeks at a time to escape the prospect of him dropping by unexpectedly for tea.

Such terrible arguments you and gran had about your absence, but she never understood why.

If only you’d been able to tell her. 

(A deep swelling sigh freed itself from the depths of Sally’s chest. If only … )

I know you did what was necessary to protect yourself. Made yourself invisible; escaped however you could. It was no way to live. You missed so much, and I am sorry for that. What ought to have been the most care-free time of your life was made complicated by the sins of a nefarious heart. I’m so sorry.

(She wiped a tear as it trickled down her left cheek.)

All the trauma you felt lingered for years, and though I did as well in life as my invisible self would allow, I had to get help eventually. Your pain, I’m sad to say, crippled me emotionally. Still, the worst is behind us.

(Sally smiled to herself. Of course her 14-year-old self should know this!)

While your tenacity and sense of self-preservation served as a form of protection it also put obstacles in the way. I’ve been clearing those obstacles so we can both be free of suffering. I say “we” because you will always be a part of me. “We” are free to experience life fully and completely, now. It is such a wonderful gift. And I want to help Manda to do the same.

Thank you for taking such good care of yourself the best way you knew how. Perhaps now we can start to reminisce about more of the good ol’ days … like being on the track team at school, or spending time with the horses, or those lovely drives in the country with gran. You know, she did her best, too, with the limited understanding she had. We must always remember this.

With much love,

Your Self as a woman-of-a-certain-age,

Sally

~*~

Sally put the pen down and read over her letter. She smiled and pressed it to her heart. Somehow the exercise had been healing. Lovingly, she folded the piece of paper into quarters and slipped it into her apron pocket along with her lidded fountain pen. She would save the letter in her journal later. But now it was time to give that vivacious 12-year-old girl with those big, brown, sparkly eyes and the innocence of youth a big hug. Manda would always know who she could trust.

~*~

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti 2015

Nectar to Hummingbirds

Daily Prompt: The Kindness of Strangers

~*~

“It was such a long time ago,” Sally mumbled sadly to herself as she gazed through the window to a hummingbird hovering by a feeder which hung there.

“What was, Aunt Sally? What was so long ago?”

Young Amanda flopped down on the sofa next to her favourite, albeit only, aunt, and wrapped her arm around hers. She was pretty astute for a 12-year-old. Some thing, some memory, had loomed in her beautiful aunt’s expression that she just had to understand.

“Why are you sad, Aunt Sally? I don’t like it when you’re sad.”

Sally grabbed her niece’s hand and held it tight. She loved her Manda; an old soul full of youthful vitality. Such a gift … and such a burden.

“Don’t grow up too fast, sweetie.” Sally released Manda’s hand and attempted a smile. “And enjoy every blesséd moment, because they go by so fast.”

“Are you thinking of any moment in particular, auntie?” Manda asked, curious.

Sally sighed. “Yes, yes I am.” She turned to face her niece, and smiled. She should share it.

“When I was 21,” she began, “I was engaged to be married. It wasn’t a particularly happy engagement. I cried a lot. He was a good man, but not good for me. So, two weeks before the wedding after a particularly angry series of telephone conversations, I called it off and fled to Toronto.”

“You were a runaway bride?” Manda interrupted wide-eyed, her imagination running away with her.

“Yes, I was a runaway bride,” Sally confirmed with a wry smile. “I left everyone, everything I knew behind. Your aunt Ruby, my mother, was left to tell everyone what had happened and to send all the gifts back. Return the dress. Cancel the cake. What a mess. But I didn’t know any of this so absorbed, was I, in my pain and loss and suffering. I’d run far away to escape; to search for something, somewhere, else where I might be happy. Truthfully,” she paused and sighed, “I was probably searching for my self, at the time, but I just didn’t know it.”

Manda gave her aunt a quizzical and concerned look.

“Don’t worry …” Sally reassured and patted her niece’s hand. “It was a terrible time in my life. I stayed with my father, your uncle Joe, with whom I had no relationship at all, as you already know. He lived in a 20th floor apartment in the suburbs. I hated it but had nowhere else to go. He offered me a sort of safe haven until I could get my feet back on the ground, something I couldn’t do fast enough. It took me two weeks just to find my bearings. It was the dead of winter and colder than I’d ever experienced. I rarely left the apartment. My diet was Edam cheese and hot pickles. I watched a lot of Young and the Restless. I was not myself.”

Sally turned again to gaze beyond the bay window looking out to the pretty pond surrounded by willows. Manda sidled closer and rested her head on her aunt’s shoulder. She loved listening to her stories.

“Eventually I found work downtown as a secretary in a brokerage. Dreary really, but it gave me the income I needed to start saving for a place of my own. Then one day,” Sally’s expression brightened a little, “I was walking north on Yonge Street from King, on my way to the bank to deposit my pay cheque. I wasn’t that happy. The amount was less than usual because some extra deduction had been taken. Woeful thoughts of living the rest of my life in my father’s second bedroom haunted me. Anyway, as I walked a sporty red convertible with a couple of cute guys in it drove by. I noticed it only because it was quite different to all the other cars … okay, yes, those two young men sort of caught my eye, too.” She giggled at the memory and Manda giggled with her. “But they drove on their way and I continued sadly on to the bank to make my deposit, and that was that … or so I thought.”

Manda hugged her aunt’s arm tight. “Then what happened?” she asked, eagerly.

“Well,” her aunt continued blank faced, “I was walking along the busy street back to the office, still feeling pretty low. Lonely. Unloved. Sorry for myself, I guess,” she sighed, “when that red convertible pulled up beside me. The two young men were trying to get my attention. I thought they needed directions … not that I could have helped them, of course, being so new to the city myself.”

Manda released her aunt’s arm and pulled herself out of the sofa to rest on its edge. Her eyes were bright with query. “What happened? What happened?”

A big, beaming smile curved across Sally’s lips as a tear of happy remembering pooled in the corner of her right eye.

“I wandered over to the car and asked the fellow in the passenger seat, who’d been trying to get my attention, if I could help.”

“And?” Manda could hardly contain her excitement.

“He gave me flowers.”

“He what? Really? He gave you flowers?” Manda asked, astonished.

“He gave me a flowers … a variety, if I remember correctly,” Sally mused.

“Did he say anything?”

“Yes he did, actually,” Sally became thoughtful. “He said, ‘You are the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen and I want to give you these flowers.'”

“Really? He said that?” Manda shrieked with such enthusiasm she almost fell off the sofa.

“Yes, he did,” Sally assured while grabbing Manda’s arm and pulling her back into the sofa. “Really, Manda, you must be more careful.”

“I’m fine, auntie.  … Then what happened?”

“Well, needless to say I was totally overwhelmed. The thing I needed perhaps more than anything at that time ~ some positive assurance that I wasn’t invisible ~ had happened out of the blue at the hand of a stranger. It was such a wonderful moment.” Sally sighed. “I could barely say thank you before the flower fella and his co-conspirator had driven off never to be seen again.” Sally paused and reflected, her eyes closed, her hands gently resting on her lap. “I was on Cloud Nine that whole afternoon. I felt seen. Felt alive; lighthearted; wonderful. For a little while life felt good again. And I felt beautiful.”

“Oh auntie, what a lovely story! But how did they know to find you when you were walking back from the bank?”

“Honestly, Manda, I don’t know,” Sally puzzled. “I have no idea how the timing of that worked and believe me I have thought about it often. How did they know I was going back that way? How did they know? I still don’t know, but I’ll tell you one thing …”

“What’s that, aunt Sally?”

“Life is full of little miracles if we will only pay attention to what’s going on around us. Even in our really dark moments someone somewhere … and maybe even a complete stranger … will do something randomly kind like that, something that will bring sunshine into our lives when all around us feels cloudy.”

“Are there many people like that out there, auntie?”

Sally thought for a moment. “Be a kind spirit, my Manda, and like nectar to hummingbirds you will attract kind spirits in turn.”

“Is that why you were given the flowers?”

Sally reflected, “Who can say, darling? Who can say? Now, come on … let’s make some of tea.”

~*~

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

Something Normal

Daily Prompt: A Dog Named Bob
You have 20 minutes to write a post that includes the words mailbox, bluejay, plate, syrup, and ink.
And one more detail… the story must include a dog named Bob

~*~

“You have no idea what you’re talking about,” Abby growled as she grabbed a clean plate from the dishwasher for her freshly toasted waffle. “Pass me the syrup, will you … please?”

Martin sighed and hobbled to the fridge to take out the maple syrup. “What do you mean? It’s all a matter of opinion … or taste,” he winced. “I simply don’t like cold syrup on my waffles. It tastes horrible.” He handed her the sticky bottle and heaved himself back on the bar stool upon which he’d been perched.

“Well, I’m afraid you’ll just have to warm it up yourself,” she said forgetting how wobbly he was. “I’ve just realized I need to pick something up from the mailbox. A notice was left at the door yesterday that the package I’ve been waiting for has finally arrived.” Abby showed Martin the notice. “Will you look at that? You’d think the post office could afford to use indelible ink. It’s so faint as to be almost illegible!”

Her fiancé gave the piece a once-over and growled. Not about the running ink, but about the fact he had to warm up his own syrup.

“Are you going, then?” he asked Abby who’d become distracted by a bluejay flitting and flying around the bubble rock in the back garden.

“Pardon?”

“Are you going to the mailbox or can I live in hope you’ll look beyond yourself long enough to be able to heat up some maple syrup for me? You know I can barely move with this torn calf muscle.”

Abby rolled her eyes and smiled apologetically. “Well, that’ll teach you for trying to play a shot you have no business making after years away from the game. Why take up tennis now? Can’t you do something normal … like dog walking? That’s great exercise at our age.”

“You know I don’t have time for a dog of my own right now.”

“But your older neighbour, Mr. Samuels,” she defended, “has a dog … you know the one … a mutt named Bob, of all things, … and needs help walking him occasionally. You could do that … on the weekends. I’d even come with you. I love dogs!”

“Then why don’t you walk him?”

“We’re not talking about me. I have plenty to be getting on with. You, on the other hand, need more exercise that doesn’t involve you throwing yourself across a grass court and getting injured in the process.” Abby paused in an effort to appear thoughtful rather than nagging. “Once you’re walking better you might approach Mr. Samuels to see if you can help him with Bob. He’d probably appreciate that.”

“Who? Mr. Samuels, or Bob?”

“Both, I dare say …” Abby grinned and made a beeline for the front door.

Without thinking Martin poured cold syrup onto his hot waffle and reluctantly admitted to himself that Abby was probably right ~ that he had overextended himself. At 51 he was no longer a spring chicken and should probably limit himself to more casual physical pursuits. Golf wasn’t so bad as an option. Neither was walking the neighbour’s dog.

“Abby, where are you going?”

Abby stopped, sighed and turned to look with affection at her deflated fiancé.

“To quote the great Gloria Pritchett ~ and I thought we still had a few years until the mind started to go.” She smiled, “Here … let me make you a fresh waffle and heat up your maple syrup first before I pick up my package.”

~*~

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

The Writer

Daily Prompt: The Show Must Go On

If you were involved in a movie, would you rather be the director, the producer, or the lead performer? (Note: you can’t be the writer!)

~*~

“Cut! … What do you mean I can’t be the writer? Isn’t that the role the lead performer … and that would be me … is playing in this epic tale of the lost alphabet?”

“Huh?”

“Look … the script clearly shows that the lead performer plays the role of a writer searching for a lost alphabet deep in the heart of … well, you know all that, but I wish you’d get your other facts straight. I’m playing the part of distinguished wordsmith, Avery Happirighter, so I do believe she must be able to write?”

“Yes, of course, but you’ve misread the prompt. You can’t be the writer of the movie, you are the writer in the movie.”

Write old change“But if I’m the writer in the movie don’t I have some say in how the story is going to unfold? I mean, I’m a writer in search of the lost alphabet. Isn’t that going to require some writing?

“Yes … but not of the story. The story is already written. You are merely acting the  lead role of the writer.”

“Sure … so I’m the writer.”

“Yes.”

“But you’ve just told me I’m not allowed to be the writer.”

“OF THE MOVIE!!! (sigh) … You’re the writer in the movie.”

“So that means I can write.”

“In the movie.”

“Why didn’t you just say so?”

“I did.”

“I don’t recall it.”

“A few sentences ago. Now please, can we get on with you being the writer … in the movie. … From the top … “

“What am I doing again?”

“Searching for the lost alphabet.”

“I thought I was supposed to be writing.”

“You are … a writer searching for a lost alphabet. You don’t actually write anything … at least not at the beginning.”

“So, why don’t you just cast me as the writer who hires an adventurer to seek the lost alphabet so I can keep writing. Is Harrison Ford available?”

~*~

I had fun with this …

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

The Writer’s Nightmare

Weekly Writing Challenge: Poetry

 The Writer’s Nightmare

No inspiration,
There is none,
I sit here, void, and
Twiddle thumbs.
It’s writer’s block that
Bogs me down.
The channel closed;
My smile a frown.
I patiently await a sign,
A notion that
Might just be mine,
That from the Ether
Will descend
And soon to Earth
Through me be penned.
But somehow it
Has missed
Its mark,
The channel
Unaligned; no
Spark.
A shift in
Wave length
Must be wrought
Before the
Words flow
Into thought.
So ’til that time I
Wait and
Wait and wait and
Wait and wait and wait,
Til once again Muse
Can be free
With words and thus
Inspire me.

~*~

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014