Old Steel Forges Chains

Better late than never, here I come with my bowl of stew to add to the Friday Fictioneers buffet. I didn’t think I’d be able to cook up anything this week—too many other irons in the fire— but my Muse has been bustling around in the kitchen putting things together.

Our witty Hostess and Toastess for this pot-luck is Rochelle. She serves up blue frog links to anyone who wishes partake of the meal; these you can find over at her blog, Addicted to Purple where you’ll usually find her seasoning her words. (I’m feeling very metaphoric tonight. Is it full moon?)

Photo prompt © Claire Sheldon

Enough Steel Forges A Chain

“You’re trying so hard to run from the past, you’re going to miss your future.”

“I’ve made mistakes, Jeff. Major ones.”

“He hurt you bad, now you’re scared to let anyone get close to you. Scared of being trampled on again.”

“I have some important lessons to remember.”

“And you’ve piled up bad memories like these old staples.” Jeff grabbed the cup and trashed the clips. “Out with the old.”

Vonnie glared at him.

“A pile of steel can forge a chain, Vonn. And God knows you don’t need any more chains.” He smiled and held out his hand. “Still friends?”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

This hasn’t been the most upbeat I’ve lived through. I started cleaning up my sewing room Monday and all the “To Finish” projects coming out of the closets threw me into a mini-depression centered on my main character flaw. Add to that Tuesday’s sudden appearance of outdoor bebittes in our bathroom, creepy-crawlies that needed dispatching. Ah, summertime!

I don’t handle multi-mess well; it tends to tower over me menacingly until I can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. I wrote a short story yesterday in response to the prompt, but it felt as gloomy as I did. Still, I may use it some other time. But I dealt with some pressing tasks today and tonight while making supper this opening sentence came to mind. It seemed like something I might use in a story sometime.

I munched and mused, letting the rest of the story sort itself out. The paperclips might represent something undesirable stored up too long. Painful memories. I thought of those of us who have endured some abuse in our childhood and have had to — or are having to — deal with dark memories, yet not let them damage our future. I’ve left it open as to who gave Vonnie those painful lessons, but I think Jeff might help her through. Do you? Or will she fish the paper clips out of the garbage as soon as he’s gone?

The Ages of Women

Another Friday Fictioneers prompt has come around and I’m cheating a bit this time. I’ve had this story in mind ever since I read about the three ages of women. No, I can’t claim credit for this bit of wisdom. it apparently comes from a Scottish grandma — whose name I of course can’t locate now when I want it. 😦

I realized lately that my new cell phone has no frowny faces, only variations of Happy-face. Is this a giant plot by a multinational corporation to force callers to make cheerful replies?

Anyway, with a happy smile I want to thank Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this multi-aged group of writers — and for this week’s photo prompt as well. If you wish to join the gang in responding to this prompt, check out Rochelle’s blog, Addicted to Purple. (Does someone care to offer a countering “Three ages of men” version?)

Photo prompt © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The Three Ages of Women

Helen squeezed Hazel’s arm. “I’m so glad you decided to join me on this trip. Travel’s much more enjoyable with a friend.”

“Well, I had been thinking I should stay home. Thought my children might not be able to manage without my helpful advice. Older and wiser, you know. Then a friend enlightened me on the three ages of a woman: ‘Muddle age, middle age, and meddle age’.

Helen’s laughter echoed in the narrow passage. “I’ll remember that one.”

Hazel grinned. “So I decided I’d better get some new interests in life before I slip into that last one.”

You Can’t Borrow Love

SOMETHING BORROWED

“Something old and something new,” Marielle said as she did up the buttons on the bodice of her gown. “But everything I have on is new. I just can’t think of anything old to add.”

“Well, I can,” said her mother, pulling a small bag out of her pocket. “I brought along one of my grandma’s brooches. Let me pin it right here at your shoulder.”

“Now I need something borrowed and something blue.”

“Something borrowed….that’s your groom,” said Treena.

Marielle heard her mother gasp and saw the glare she shot at Treena. Her sister had been trying for a humorous note, but there was an unmistakable jab to her words.

Marielle sighed. She supposed Treena was only echoing what everyone was thinking. Marielle lifted her chin in defiance against the gossips. Okay. So she had caught Kirk on the rebound. Renee had dumped him for a richer, better-looking guy. But Marielle had always liked Kirk and she’d made herself available when he needed a shoulder to cry on. Before long he was returning her affections, then he’d proposed.

Marielle’s mind went back to the evening she and Kirk announced their engagement to her family. Treena had been sour from the get-go. She’d been less than forthcoming with her congrats and after he’d gone home, Treena had come to her room to talk her out of her plans.

“Can’t you see the obvious, sis? Kirk has been hurt and he may be doing this to spite Renee, but I’m sure he still has feelings for her — if he’d just admit it.”

“So. I’m going to make Kirk so happy he’ll forget Renee even exists. I love Kirk.”

“Love him as a sweetheart, or love him as a pet project?”

Marielle had scowled at her sister and ordered her out of the bedroom. No one was going to rain on her parade.

She brushed Treena’s snippy remark aside and admired Great-Grandma’s brooch. What happened before doesn’t matter, she told herself for the nth time. I’m going to make Kirk so happy. I’m going to love him so much he’ll forget any feelings he ever had for Renee.

“I borrowed my bridesmaid’s toe ring. And my corsage has a blue ribbon around it. So I’m all set. Let’s be off.”

The next half hour whizzed by; soon she was walking up the aisle beside her father to take her place by her groom. Kirk wore a big happy smile as he turned to watch her approach. Perhaps it looked a little forced, a little too bright, but Marielle was confident that his joys would soon be as real as hers.

A couple of hours later they were standing beside the reception table receiving congratulations from an elderly family friend when, out of the corner of her eye, Marielle saw Renee approach. She was alone. What happened to Mr Rich Hunk, Marielle wondered.

Renee paused not far away and gazed at Kirk, a look of regret on her face. Marielle glanced at Kirk and saw the same expression written on his face as he returned Renee’s gaze. All three of them froze for a moment, then Kirk turned back to her again.

She saw a quick flash of remorse in his eyes, then his too-bright smile fell in place again. But in that brief unguarded glance, Marielle recognized the truth.

She’d just make the biggest mistake of her life. You really can’t borrow love.

I posted this story last year on Christine Composes. It’s a bit depressing compared to my usual style, nevertheless true-to-life for some young women. I’m pondering whether to include it in my book.

(I see part of this post leaked out last night as I was scheduling it. Sorry about that.)

Got Your Back, Pal

The Friend Who Just Stands By

When troubles come your soul to try
you love the friend who just stands by.
Perhaps there’s nothing he can do;
the thing is strictly up to you

for there are troubles all your own
and paths the soul must tread alone,
bad times when love can’t smooth the road,
nor friendship lift the heavy load.

But just to feel you have a friend,
who will stand by until the end,
whose sympathy through all endures,
whose warm handclasp is always yours—

It helps somehow to pull you through,
although there’s nothing he can do.
And so with fervent heart we cry:
“God bless the friend who just stands by.”

Google tells me this poem was written by
William Carlos Williams, 1883-1963

Unique Father’s Day Verse

Back when my birth father was still alive I searched, often in vain, for appropriate greeting cards to give him, a man I hadn’t spent that much time with in my life. So nothing like “How much you mean to me,” seeing as, in all honesty, our relationship was mainly an acknowledgement of a biological fact.

These special days are a challenge for those of us who’ve had almost no relationship with the man who contributed to our existence. No “You were always there for me” or “You were always a shining example” kind of sentiments. A shining example he wasn’t and I think he’d be the first to admit it.

And you want to be honest about it. A friend told me she’d bought her mom — with whom she’d always had a distant relationship — a really sentimental card one year for Mother’s Day. When her mom read the verse, she said, “Well, this is nice. It isn’t true though.”

So you buy a blank card, scribble “Happy Father’s Day,” and give it with a box of chocolates. Then one day I decided to write a verse for offspring who haven’t had the greatest relationship with their fathers. This is what I came up with:

Hi Dad,

It doesn’t come through very well
to the younger generations
why grownups do the things they do–
those unseen motivations.
And sometimes kids get so upset,
stubborn, rebellious, too.
At times we clench our fists and swear
we’ll never be like you!

But Time has ways of teaching us,
then we look back and see
things more from your perspective
how you hoped that life would be.
Some times are precious memories;
sometimes were really sad;
sometimes I didn’t understand–
but now I thank you, Dad.

—C.G.

What would you write?

Book Review: Blue Hydrangeas

BLUE HYDRANGEAS: An Alzheimer’s Love Story

Novel written by Marianne Sciucco
Published by Bunky Press (April 2013)

It’s apparent to Jack that his wife has gone beyond “a little forgetful.” Their doctor is talking about Alzheimer’s and suggesting 24/7 care is needed, but Jack’s convinced he can care for her in their home. He has a negative image of nursing homes and dreads the idea of putting the love of his life in one of them.

This is an awesome tale of love, devotion — and stubbornness — as Jack grapples with the Alzheimer’s disease that is slowly stealing his wife’s mind. We can relate to his efforts to help her remember, his fear and panic when he turns his back for a moment and she’s gone. The story draws the reader into the thoughts, emotions, and desperation that many people feel who have loved ones affected by dementia.

All through the book I sensed the darker undercurrent of truth here: Alzheimer’s can hit anyone. In an informative, encouraging way, Blue Hydrangeas introduces the reader to the possibility of dealing with this disease, should it strike someone near and dear to us. And the take away point is powerful: a couple should enjoy each day they have together.

This isn’t the newest book on the shelf but well worth reading. I received an advanced reader copy of Blue Hydrangeas from the Story Cartel in exchange for an unbiased review. If you’d like to help an author and are willing to do book reviews, do check out the Story Cartel.

The Perfect Man

One afternoon in an old English town Lynn and Millie were enjoying tea and scones at a local tea shop. During the course of their visit Lynn remarked, “Have you heard that June’s daughter Tiffany is finally getting married?”

“Yes. I heard June telling her sister Debbie all about her daughter’s fiancé at the flea market last Saturday,” Millie replied.

“I gather Tiffany’s telling everyone she’s found the perfect man,” Lynn said as she spread jam on her scone. “She claims it’s a match made in heaven.”

Millie smiled and shook her head. “I’m afraid she’ll soon learn that there’s no such thing as a perfect man.”

An older gent sitting at the next table had been listening in on this conversation. Now he leaned over to say, “Forgive me for eavesdropping, ladies, but I’d like to correct your misconception. There is indeed such a thing as a perfect man.”

“Oh, really,” said Millie. She regarded him with raised eyebrows and a bit of a smirk, fully expecting he’d declare himself to be this perfect specimen.

The gent nodded. “I’ve been told this many times. But I confess, I’ve never met him.” This was followed by a long-suffering sigh. “He was my wife’s first husband.”