The Look

Another Wednesday has come and with it the prompt for Friday Fictioneers, the rule of which is to gaze at the prompt until inspired, write our tales and trim them down to a bare-bones 100 words. Then participants shall post their stories and link our posts to all the others via InLinkz.

“Muchos gracias” to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this menagerie of writing talent, and today for also supplying the photo prompt. To read what others have written, or to add your own, you need to find and click on a blue frog. You’ll find one on Rochelle’s blog, but alas, I can’t get the things to survive on mine.

I like to write humor, but this morning’s picture made me think of something other. Since the basic facts here are true, I guess one would label this story Creative Non-fiction.

PHOTO © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

THE LOOK

Zanna stared into her mirror. “Lose another five pounds,” her photographer had said. “You can do it!”

This time she’d resisted. “Don’t men want women curvy?”

“Designers want spaghetti strands with a smile, sweetheart. Curves I can add digitally. Long and lean brings the best fashion shoots.”

At 5ft-11″ and 105 lbs Zanna could count every rib. I could start selling organs, she thought wryly, those that still work. She opted for skipping more lunches and jogging longer.

“She’s got the look.” The ad words struck her funny as she eyed her reflection. She laughed until she sobbed.

It’s YOUR Face

Photo prompt © Roger Bultot

Time for another Friday Fictioneers tale. This group is hosted by the kindly and ever-smiling Rochelle Wisoff-Fields over at Addicted to Purple. As usual she’s presented us with a picture that should unleash our creative energy — and then it’s cut, cut, cut. A most valuable exercise for learning concision. If you wish to participate, check her blog for details. Everyone is welcome to submit a story.

A special thanks goes to Roger Bultot for supplying us with this photo. Since it’s his photo, lent to the group specifically for this week’s prompt, it must not be “borrowed” by anyone for any other purpose without asking permission.

My mind bounced around on this prompt and finally came up with the following 100-word tale:

It’s Your Face

There she is, conceited, backstabbing brat. Hanging out with my former friends. Probably flirting with that server like she does with all the guys in the office. She makes my blood boil!

I feel a hand on my shoulder. “Too much lemon in the drink today,” Mike from accounts-receivable asks.

I nod toward the giggling trio. “If you only knew!”

“I do know… some at least. Yeah, she’s annoying, but let it go. It’s disfiguring your face.”

I hear her laugh and grit my teeth. “She’s so fake!”

Mike shrugs. “It’s your face,” he says as he turns away.

Becoming a Mom

On Saturday I like to highlight another blogger who has written something informative or inspiring. Today I came across Chrissy’s article on becoming a mom. When did the realization first hit home and how did it feel?

I thought you others might enjoy reading this, too.

ChrissyAdventures

That moment you realize you are a Mom!

How to describe that moment? That moment when it hits you, when it all comes down like a ton of bricks and reality steps right in your face – You’re a Mom, a Mother, the one trusted source of information about vomit, diarrhea, diaper rash & common illnesses.

Not during pregnancy, although many women experience revelation then, but when that young one is in your arms. That’s when it’s real.  That moment when the mental connection is made. I’ve heard some say it was in the hospital it hit them, but not for me. Oh no, it was after I got home. Suddenly, I realized how helpful the hospital staff had been during the first couple of days. They didn’t come home with me. There was no help really!

Nothing prepares you for it – not books, movies, seminars, or pregnancy classes. Nope, no stories…

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The Poet in the Park

I posted this story when the Daily Post writing challenge was to write about any topic, but your post must include a cat, a bowl of soup, and a beach towel. And today’s prompt word is pursue, so here’s the tale of a poet pursuing the perfect verse.

I wander through the park on this beautiful morning, making my way to one of my favorite places in the whole world. Oh, good! My favorite bench is free. I like this one where I’m sheltered by the maples overhead. After all, the sun’s rays aren’t good for a person, so we’re told, and at my age I have to be careful.

I set my sunhat on the bench beside me and rummage through my handbag for my pen and notebook. I’m a poet, so I always carry a notebook. I relax and breathe in the inspiration around me. This agreeable spot, surrounded by the plush lawn, is so conducive to the task at hand. I need to write a poem for my blog — so why not do one about this beautiful day.

At the top of the first blank page I write, Ode to a Summer’s Day.

Scratch that. Sounds too cliché. Maybe I should rather start with something like, “I wandered lonely through the park…” I’m not really lonely, though. In fact I’m quite happy to be alone, pursuing my muse.

I hear a rustle, glance down and see a mouse poke its nose out from under a bush. “Wee tim’rous beastie,” I quote. “Your best-laid plans will go sadly awry if you don’t beat it.” The mouse trembles a bit and retreats back into the shrubbery. I return to pursuing a line of thought suitable for this perfect day.

“What is so rare as a day in July?” Hmm… Rings a bell. Has it already been done — or something like it? Anyway, what rhymes with “July”? (I insist my poems rhyme; I find free verse so undisciplined.) Birds fly; awry; my eye. “A day in July gone awry…a bird just dropped in my eye….”  Nope. Scratch that.

I gaze at the treetops above me. Oh, to be a tree top, caressing the sky, I write, then ponder the phrase. Now that has potential! And I may be able to work July in here after all.

I look down and see a cat nosing around by the bush. See there, mouse. Aren’t you glad I saved your bacon? If I hadn’t scared you, you’d have ventured out and been toast.

“SCAT!” I say to the cat, stamping my foot. It appears well enough fed already and besides, I detest the sights and sounds of slaughter. Unaesthetic—not conducive to producing pleasant poems.

I hear a “throb, throb, throb” coming down the path toward me and look up. Ah, some ‘band in a box’ escorted by two teenage girls. I frown, hoping they are only passing by and will do so promptly.

No such luck! They leave the path and stroll out on the lawn not far from me. One of them shouts at the other, “Here’s a neat spot. Let’s stretch out here.”

Oh, brother! It would be neat if you’d shut off that radio. I feel my bench vibrate from the deep bass throbs and I write in my book, “Thunder rolls across the sky; the earth trembles. The powers that be are shaken.”

They unroll two beach towels and, baring as much as legally can be, they stretch out. Exposing their bodies to the harmful effects of the sun’s rays, not to mention the leers and comments of males passing by. And loving every minute of it.

Well, since I can no longer meditate on the stillness of this beautiful day, perhaps I could go get some lunch while they and their boom-box occupy this spot. There’s a neat little Bistro on LaMontagne Avenue that serves an excellent bowl of Vichyssoise, my favorite soup, together with herbed croutons. Perfect for a hot day, together with thé glacé. Which is iced tea, but I prefer the French ambience.

Perhaps I’ll stop by the Library after to brush up on Emily Dickinson. She might have something inspiring to say about a summer day. Hopefully when I get back the girls will have fried and gone.

As I walk away a picture flashes in my mind. I smile as I think back to the sunny summer days of my teens, when my friends and I spent hours browning ourselves in the warm sun. Neither we nor our mothers had ever heard of dangerous ultraviolet rays back then.

Forget the ode to a summer day. Over lunch I’m going to compose a poem about the joys of youth.

My thoughts go back to those two teenage girls and I wonder what their names are and where they live? Do they have a concerned mother like I had? Has anyone told them about ultraviolet rays and skin cancer? Has someone explained to them that there are sharks in the pool of Life, that you need to protect yourself in more ways than one? Do they know where they’re going in life and how to get there?

Really, I’m sure they didn’t mean to disturb my musings. Will they just think me a nosy old busy-body if I try visiting with them?

I turn around and make my way back to my favorite bench, pausing to nod and say “Hello” to them as I pass. Lunch can wait; the Vichyssoise won’t get any colder

Christine G — Reposted from July 2014

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Auntie Ding-Dong

There once was a woman named Mrs. Dingle. The children who lived on her block liked to call her “Auntie Ding-Dong” because she often rang their doorbells. Mrs. Dingle, you could say, had “an enlarged heart.” That is, a heart full of sympathy for busy mothers and families under stress.

She would bake loaves of delicious bread, put them in baskets and take them around to neighbours who were going through a tough time. If she heard a mother was sick or just had a baby, Auntie Ding-Dong helped the family in her little way, carrying in a casserole or pot of soup, feeding the children, doing the washing up.

One neighbour boy tells how he loved to meet Mrs. Dingle as she walked down the streets carrying her basket of bread. She always had a smile and a cheerful hello for everyone. One day when his own mother was in bed with the ‘flu Auntie Ding-Dong rang their doorbell, handing them a large, still-warm loaf. The aroma made his mouth water.

Auntie Ding-Dong had been widowed when she was still quite young, so never had children of her own. But rather than spend her days hoping for the sympathy of others, she found fulfillment in helping other mothers when they were overwhelmed by the needs of their families. Someone once asked her whether she ever felt sorry for herself, to which she replied, “Why, I haven’t got the time!”

Note:
I once read this story in The Friendship Book of Francis Gay and thought it was worth retelling.

Books: Pennies From Burger Heaven

Written by Marcy McKay
SkipJack Publishing, Dec 2015

2016 USA Best Book Awards Finalist, General Fiction

This poignant story of one street kid’s search for her mother has lots of danger and suspense, twists & turns.

Life on the streets of Remington, Texas, is rough and raw at best. It becomes sinister after Copper’s Mama, a homeless prostitute, disappears one morning. Her daughter, Copper (Penny), blessed with abundant nerve — and a good deal of scared — sets out from their cemetery “home” determined to find her. She heads into the inner city they know so well, slowly untangling the web of her mother’s past involvements, hoping one of the threads will lead to Mama.

If the reader doesn’t want to be dragged through the mire of a ghetto — the crime, drugs, gang wars, predators and hookers — then don’t read this. Language isn’t a stream of profanity, but there’s enough realistic dialogue. God, Jesus and religion get a lot of bad press. There’s your stereotype phony televangelist visiting ladies-of-the-night when he’s not singing “Amazing Grace.”

That said, McKay has been accurate in her portrayal of the living conditions among the homeless and the people who prey on them, as well as the confusion about religion that exists among those who never attend a church or open a Bible. Coming from a non-religious background as I do, I see the thinking of my own people in this story.

For me the real hero isn’t so much the I-can-do-it-myself, spit-in-your-eye Copper, but rather the Detective who tries so hard to grab this scrawny little alley cat who’s clawing, kicking, and lashing out at him and everyone else. He tries to grab her from the streets before her life is destroyed as her mother’s was. Copper suspects his motive for his interest in her: what connection could this cop have to her mother?

Thanks to some supernatural — you might say divine — intervention, this kitten is granted another of her nine lives. On one hand, you somewhat anticipate the ending, yet all the slimy twists and turns — and final revelations — are totally unexpected.

Marcy McKay has penned a sequel to this book; this hasn’t been released yet, as far as I can tell. Marcy McKay is a frequent guest contributor to The Write Practice site, where she gives tips and exercises for improving your writing skills.

What Next, Grandpa?

Photo  credit : Jellico’s Stationhouse

With thanks to the cheerful and patient Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, for hosting our supposed-to-be-Friday Fictioneers group and inspiring us with a prompt every week. And to Jelli for the © photo.

Archie huffed. “Nursing is no profession for women, especially a youngster like yerself. It’s hard, dirty work, and too…revealing!”

Mary ignored the “Never contradict your elders” protocol. “Well, Grandpa, I’ve talked this over with my parents and they approve. In fact, Dad’s bought me a bicycle so I can attend classes to get the credits I need.”

“A bicycle! What next?”

The pop-up memory tickled Mary as she watched a jet land. Oh, yes, Grandpa. What next? Maybe it’s a good thing you didn’t live to see this, she thought as a young female pilot strolled past wheeling a suitcase.

Written in memory of my dear friend, Mary Strathdee, who braved her grandfather’s displeasure and became a nurse back in the 1930s. (I doubt she got the bike, though. 😉 )