If you want a nice relaxing, interesting read over the holidays — or in January when a blizzard sweeps down and you’re snowed in, check out The Christmas Sweater: A Short Story for Christmas, by Janice L Dick
Jeanne, recently widowed, is dreading her first Christmas alone, but tends to cocoon herself in her grief. Until an old school friend moves back to town — right next door. And she shows up frequently just to chat. Using their past friendship and a good bit of prodding, Debbie gets Jeanne out of those old sweats she’s been dragging around the house in, out of feeling sorry for herself, and back into life.
While Debbie’s friendship proves invaluable to Jeanne, there comes a time when Debbie has to draw support from Jeanne’s friendship as she faces her own trials. It is a great short story about how friends can help and encourage one another.
Grey doves flutter onto rain-soaked sidewalk to find the man who sits, rain or shine, on a bench all alone but for his pocketful of seeds. Friends never forget.
One time as we walked through a park in the city we observed a man sitting on a bench. At first it looked like a scene from “The Birds” and he was being attacked by a dozen pigeons. But we could see as we got closer he was feeding them from his pockets. His appearance was rather seedy as well; one could easily take him for a social outcast. I had to wonder if maybe the birds were his best friends. Seems they found no fault in him.
Here I am, back to do my duties for the Sunday Ragtag Daily Prompt, and today the word is ICE CREAM.
I picked this prompt a few weeks back when I thought the weather would be pretty hot, but we’ve had about the coolest summer I can remember here on the prairies. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this little tale.
THE NEW DIET PLAN
One evening Abby dropped in to visit her friend and noticed an unusual poster on the wall. “Hey, Terri, I see you have a new poster. But what’s with the chicken and ice cream cone?”
“It’s a great new diet plan. It’s called the ‘Death By Association Diet.’ You know how much I love ice cream, right? So the idea is, I look at this poster everyday and think of a chicken pecking at an ice cream cone. Then, by association, whenever I’m hungry for ice cream I’ll think of a chicken messing in it. That will kill my craving for ice cream.”
“Well… I guess that is a new approach to dieting.”
“So what do you think? Should work, shouldn’t it?”
Abby considered the poster a moment before answering. “I think it’s making me hungry. Why don’t we get some nuggets and fries at Chick-Fill-Eh?, then stop for dessert at Dairy Duchess.”
“Sorry I asked! You just fried my new diet plan,” Terri exclaimed, ripping the poster off the wall. “Now I’ll never get that association out of my mind.”
I’ve a dear friend who tries to see the sunny side of everything, quick to mention and compliment your good points and cheer you up if you’re discouraged. “Yes, it’s tough now, but it will get better; just hang in there.” I wish I could be a lot more like her.
She doesn’t butter you up with insincere flattery, but her simple, uplifting kindness is a balm for any ache. “You have a good idea; it may just take a little more work to bring it out.” She has opinions and expresses them, but in a gentle way, not slamming or ridiculing the one(s) at fault. Bless you, Cathy!
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”
In our day and age, it’s so easy to slip into the seat of the scornful and I often catch myself occupying that spot, but it’s not a useful nor satisfying place.
Our ideas aren’t always brilliant and we all need critical feedback. We all need to grow a spine and take advice. Over the ages of time, though, encouragers like my friend have done an invaluable service to the world.
She started out to say, “You know, yesterday I met a cousin of Katie Powers.” She trailed off, evidently gathering her thoughts.
I was so certain that I knew exactly where she was heading that I blasted back with a witty retort. Well…sort of witty. Sort of catty.
Her eyes focused on my face again and my conscience smacked me when I saw the startled look in her eye. I’d hurt her deeply; I was sure of it.
Filled with remorse, I started to babble. “I’m so sorry! I never should have said that! When you said you’d heard…well, I was just sure you were going to bring up what Katie and I had talked about. But of course you don’t know anything about that. And even if you do, you’d be too good a friend to bring it up in public like this where anybody might hear.” I waved my hand toward some other patrons in the crowded coffee shop.
My throat was so tight now I could hardly go on. “You’ve always been a good friend and I shouldn’t jump to such conclusions. And even if you were going to start in about what you heard, I shouldn’t make such a sarcastic comment. Can you ever forgive me?”
I paused. How would she react? Would my harsh response throw a wedge in our friendship?
She looked at me and opened her mouth, then paused to compose her reply. This is it, I thought. The moment of reckoning.
“What did you say, Terri? The two at that table over there started discussing someone I know. My mind was distracted and I didn’t hear you. I’m sorry. What’s this about Katie? Were you talking to her lately?”
Yesterday’s Word of the Day prompt was BUBBLE. I’m coming in rather late here, but this is my response.
paranoia life in a dark bubble everybody hates me
Not long before this prompt came up, I’d an account I wrote some years ago about a woman I met on a trip we took. She likely would have been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic — if she’d ever sought medical help. It sounds like her doctors had suggested mental illness, but why should she listen to doctors when they’ve all been ordered by the government to destroy people like her? Another man friend tried drugs, but hated the side effects.
I’ve visited with several afflicted ones over the years, enough to give me some picture of what their world must be like. I know there’s a wide range of symptoms and reactions to treatment, but here’s my non-medical insight, for what it’s worth.
“When I was in the hospital,” this woman explained to me, her eyes shining, “they did experiments on me. They poison a person with mercury. The mercury slowly comes out of you through your skin, you know; I see little silver drops on my carpet all the time.”
What could I say? You’re imagining this? But she wasn’t. She actually saw these drops. Just as someone else saw an upside-down cross on a hospital curtain one night — a sure omen of evil to come. Who can understand why or how the mind perceives silver drops, or beetles on all the plants, or people pulling their hair in the night? For the sufferer, the only “logical” explanation is that someone is trying to drive them mad. Once mad, they’ll be taken to the psych ward and quietly disposed of.
“There are two kinds of people in this world,” another fearful person told me years ago. “Those who wish I was dead, and those who think I already am.”
“Most of the people in this world don’t even know you exist,” I replied. However, that’s reality, and reality usually doesn’t cut through such fear. I wasted my breath.
Many, many times people trying to help a person through their hallucinations waste their breath trying to explain that, “No, it isn’t what you imagine. You still have all your hair; no one has pulled it out.”
I’ve learned that my rational explanations will never combat paranoia; they just can’t pierce that bubble of fear. The afflicted, be they on welfare, members of ethnic minorities, Christians, or whatever else makes them unique, see themselves as slated for destruction — and no one recognizes the danger they’re in. If you don’t agree, if you won’t see how the government is out to destroy people like them, you are either burying your head in the sand or you’re delusional.
Sadly, some misguided religious people see all mental illness as “demonic” and their answer is some type of exorcism. This is usually a double whammy for the sufferers. Not only are they NOT cured by this ritual, plus now they live with the guilt of being possessed by evil spirits, and/or the thought that God must have given up on them, too.
From what I’ve observed, medication has had limited success in treating this type of mental illness. Some works great — for a time. There is some healing in the aging process. I once read that schizophrenia loses some of its grip on a person’s mind after age fifty. The problem is the dangerous situations they tend to live in, often being homeless and isolating themselves.
Another friend of mine who has suffered from fears very much through the years became a Christian in her twenties and the words that help her the most are the scriptures about God looking after his own. He does see, He does care, and He has looked after her amazingly well in her circumstances. When she calls me, greatly distressed because something suspicious happened, or someone said something threatening, we talk about the day when the trials of this life will be behind us and we’ll live in Heaven, safe from evil, free from care. Focusing on that better place makes the troubles of this world more bearable.