Where’s the Party?

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is PARTY.

Time for summer reruns? Anyway, I’ve pulled up and tweaked a short tale I posted three years ago as THE MULTI-TASKING DRIVER.

Where’s the Party?

The policeman eyed her critically. “Are you all right, lady?”

“Of course I’m okay, officer. Just…uh…a little distracted for a moment.”

“The way you were writhing around in your seat, I thought you were having a seizure. What exactly were you doing?”

The woman took a deep breath. “This is so embarrassing, but I’m on my way to work, you see, and I noticed this huge snag my hose. I can’t show up at the office like that, especially not today when we’re having the farewell party for our manager. So I was just trying to slide them off before I get there.”

“While driving?” The officer scowled at her. “May I see your driver’s license and registration, ma’am.”

She handed them over. He went to his cruiser, spent a few minutes on his radio and returned, saying, “I hear you had another driving infraction last month?”

“Quite a minor offense, really.”

“Yeah. Blowing up balloons while driving ten kilometers over the speed limit on a main street? Now that’s funny.”

“I’m so glad you’re so understanding, officer. They were for my grand-daughter’s birthday party and I was running late. Sometimes a person just has to multi-task. ”

He handed her a ticket. “This is for driving without due care and attention. Keep on multi-tasking behind the wheel like this and you’ll be attending another party: the one your family has for you at White Lily Funeral Home.”

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Original Image: Peggy_Marco at Pixabay

Sunday Whirl: A Hint of Fear

Good morning everyone!

On Sunday I came across another writing challenge offered by host blogger Brenda Warren, called The Sunday Whirl. Here’s the banner:

And here’s the word list for Wordle #457:

I took the given words and wrote the story on Sunday already, just haven’t gotten around to posting it. The above words, in various forms, mostly appear in the first few paragraphs. The second part  I wrote just because I do like a good story. 🙂

A HINT OF FEAR

Larissa had won a scholarship to this college and she wasn’t going to waste it. She concentrated on her studies, foregoing holidays, declining invites to weekend parties. She even limited her trips back home so she could study.

Her diligence paid off in spades. When the marks were handed back after the last set of exams, she had to look twice. But it was true: she’d aced the exams. She was going to graduate with honors. She plowed her fist into the air and did a little pirouette.

She resisted the urge to dance around the room. Instead she thanked her professors and headed home where she could do all the singing and dancing she wanted to. Ah, but first a stop at Dairy Delightful, where she indulged in a delicious hot fudge sundae with whipped cream. This might inflate her waistline a bit, but she’d take a long jog tomorrow.

“Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars,” she sang as she slid the key in the lock on her apartment door. She opened the door partway when the strangest feeling hit her. Something felt very wrong, like someone was here. The odd sense of danger made her skin prickle.

She shook it off as imagination and stepped into the apartment, but that feeling of apprehension kept her from closing the door. Made her sigh a prayer. “God, if there’s really something wrong here, show me somehow.”

Though her eye saw nothing unusual, she did pick up a slight difference in the air. Had she left a window open? “Once I get a good-paying job I’m moving up in the world,” she promised herself. “Tenth floor at least.”

She straightened her spine and told herself firmly, “There is nothing wrong. I am not going to give in to some silly fear and let it spoil this beautiful day.”

But as she entered the room, the slight air movement brought to her a hint of stale tobacco. She didn’t smoke and neither had anyone else when they visited her. Acting on impulse she backed out of the room, shut the door, and locked it. Then she called her cousin Matt, grateful that she had his number on speed dial.

Handy having a cop in the family. So what if he’d find nothing amiss and tease her about being a chicken or needle her about her good imagination. She wasn’t taking any chances. Not like that girl in the news last week.

On second thought, Matt probably wouldn’t laugh.

Sandwich Spread

Sandwich.freeThe Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is SANDWICH

You’re all welcome to join the fun and post a poem, prose, photo, pertaining to the noble SANDWICH. And since I was the one who offered this prompt, I’d better respond, too. Here’s a little story my mom-in-law once told.

Years ago a busy mother, approaching middle age and broadening her…er…personal horizon, was visiting her doctor and he was concerned about her weight problem. (This was back in the 50s, while it was politically okay for a doctor to mention such things.)

“Your heart’s under too much strain, Helen. I think for your heart, and for the good of your overall health, that you’d better take off some of that weight.”

Helen sighed. “I’ve tried cutting back, but I just can’t seem to lose a pound. Even when I eat less and am on the run all day, I still don’t lose weight.”

“What foods do you normally eat?”

“Whatever I can put between two slices of bread.”

“Ah!” The doctor smiled. “Let’s start there.”

The Worrywart and the Cave

Today’s Word of the Day prompt is GALLERY. I was dismayed when I saw this word, wondering what I could ever write about a gallery. My only thought being art gallery, until I checked with Merriam-Webster and learned that an art gallery is only #4 on their seven-point list of definitions.

The preeminent meaning is: a covered promenade or corridor.
The second is an outdoor balcony, porch, or veranda
The third is a long, narrow passage, even a subterranean passageway in a cave or a mine shaft. Ah! A twinkle’s coming through…

One definition is: “the highest balcony in a theater commonly having the cheapest seats
b : the part of a theater audience seated in the top gallery
c : the undiscriminating general public”
This variation brought to mind an expression we teens used half a century ago:
“No comments from the peanut gallery.”

Now that I have a wider range to work with and the twinkling of an idea, I’ll begin my response to the prompt.

The Worrywart and the Cave

“Just discovered it last week and went through again yesterday,” Ozzie told his sweetheart, “It’s absolutely gorgeous down there, and no one else has found it yet. Come on, I’ll show it to you.”

Polly frowned. “Are you sure it’s safe? What if we get lost?”

“The path is easy to follow and I’ve got a great flashlight. Trust me, it’ll be perfectly safe. Listen, sweetie, being a worrywart is a drag. You can’t always think about what might go wrong or you’ll never try anything. You’ll miss out on LIFE. Come on, let’s check it out.”

A few hours later they parked in a secluded spot not far from the cave entrance and set out on their spelunking adventure. Polly grabbed her purse as they left they car.

“Surely you’re not going to take your purse along? It’ll just be a weight you don’t need.”

“I’m not leaving it in the car. Someone might steal it.”

Ozzie rolled his eyes. “There’s no one else anywhere near here. You worry about the silliest things.”

“I’m taking it. A girl never knows when she’ll need a tissue or something.”

Fifteen minutes later the couple was deep inside the cave. Polly followed Ozzie through the gallery with a little stream flowing beside it. “Don’t you think we should have brought another flashlight, just in case,” she asked.

Ozzie groaned. “This has lots of power left. Stop fretting and enjoy the scenery!”

A moment later the passageway opened up in front of them and they saw the most beautiful display of natural architecture. Ozzie’s flashlight played on the stalagmites and stalactites in intriguing formations. “And here we are. Didn’t I tell you it was awesome? Nature’s limestone gallery in grand display!”

Polly gasped. “This is so amazing!” She looked at the clear pool of water beside the ledge they stood on. “That must be the purest water ever. Do you think anything lives in there?”

“Can you imagine anything living in this kind of darkness?” He shut off his flashlight.

“Now, aren’t you glad you came? You wouldn’t want to miss an adventure like this.”

“Oh,” Polly squealed. “Be careful. It’s so black!”

“Absolutely devoid of any light” Ozzie spread his arms enthusiastically. The hand holding the flashlight bashed against the cave wall. There was a metallic clunk and a splash.

Polly screamed. “What was that? Ozzie, turn the light on!”

“Uh… That was the light. I banged my hand on the wall and lost my grip.”

“Oh, no! What’ll we do? How will we find our way out?” Polly’s voice rang with terror.

“Not to worry. We’ll just turn around and follow the ledge back out again. Easy peasy.”

Polly heard Ozzie moving and guessed he’d turned around. She squeezed against the cave wall to let him pass.

He brushed by her. “Just follow the sound of my voice and we’ll be out of here…aaah!” Polly heard a big splash, then a lot of floundering.

“S-s-slippery. I…fell in,” Ozzie gasped in the darkness. More splashing. “It’s deep…and so cold. Where’s the ledge? I can’t find it.”

Polly sighed, then groped in her purse and pulled out the little flashlight she always carried. She clicked it on and the cave was dimly lit. She set the light carefully on the ledge and reached into her purse again.

“Grab hold of this and hang on,” she ordered, tossing Ozzie a length of nylon rope.

A few minutes later he was sitting on the ledge, dripping wet and shivering.

Polly picked up the flashlight. “We’d better get out of here. You’ll want to get changed.”

Ozzie nodded and shivered some more. Then he got up and stumbled along the gallery behind Polly.

As they made their way to the car, Polly suggested, “Maybe we worrywarts are such a drag because we haul along all the things we might need in an emergency?”

“Yeah. I don’t suppose you have a towel in there, too?”

Faceless, Voiceless Women

we knew they lived
those faceless voiceless women
up in that small room

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In the book, Write Like Issa: A Haiku How-To, writer David G Lanoue says, “Write with compassion yet understatement. Leave space for your readers’ minds to wander and wonder.” In the verse above there should be ample room for you to wonder and surmise — just as I have over the years.

Putting together my collection of haiku verses now, I often wonder if I should stick with Mr Lanoue’s advice, or share a few lines of back-story that led to my writing this verse? What do you think? Do you like to read the story behind the story or verse?

Here’s the story behind the verse above:

Back in the fall of 1981 we bought a small 1½-storey house and moved into a small hamlet in SW Ontario. The neighbours were friendly and different ones dropped by to visit after we were settled; through their accounts we learned quite a few details about our home’s history. One elderly couple, Jim & Jean, enjoyed visiting and had lived in the village for years. Since they’d known a number our home’s past owners, we found out some interesting details from them.

For example, Jean talked about the school teacher and his wife who lived in our place years back (I’m thinking late 1950s) and how they’d visit this couple from time to time. I’m guessing the teacher & wife were middle-aged and had no children still at home, but his aged mother and sister lived with them.

Jean told me, “We never saw them. His mother and sister stayed upstairs in their room whenever we were there. They never came down when the teacher had company — we never knew why.”

I sometimes think of those two women and wonder, why did they live as recluses in that tiny bedroom? Did they have embarrassing health issues; did the mother have dementia and couldn’t be left alone? Did they refuse to visit with the locals; were they snobby, shy, or did they think “it isn’t our place”? Were they not allowed to join the company, ordered to stay upstairs and not “interfere”? How free were they otherwise? My mind is very free to wander and wonder about that situation.

I’ll never know the answer, but since today is International Women’s Day, this is the perfect opportunity to appreciate and express my thanks for the many options women have now.

Of Downfalls and Updrafts

The young woman rushed along the street in a fit of desperate emotion. Life was over for her! What dreadful future predictions played out in her mind as she headed for the Clifton bridge? Was the weather as dismal as Sarah’s spirits that day? Surely you wouldn’t start out in the bright sunshine to fling yourself off a bridge?

Yet that’s exactly what Sarah was about to do. She’d just received a letter from her fiancé breaking their engagement. She’d never hold her head up again. Back in 1885 this rejection would have seemed like the end of the world to the heart-broken young miss and she was going to end it all. Leave all the heartaches of Earth behind.

A nagging voice in her head — we all know it, that voice of “all hope lost” — drove her on. “Love is lost forever. There’s nothing ahead for you but a long and dreary spinsterhood. You can’t live without him. And the shame! Jump, by all means. Jump.”

Sarah walked onto the bridge and looked down through her tears to where the river wound through the gorge 245 feet below. Another wave of despair swept over her and she climbed over the railings and onto the parapet. One last sob and she leaped into the emptiness.

But air isn’t empty. And in this case a draft of wind, coupled with her volumnious petticoats, considerably impeded her descent. To Sarah, the fall must have felt like slow motion, as the wind caught and swelled her wide skirt and crinoline. Down she drifted, not into the water below, but onto the riverbank where she sank deep into the soft mud that prevented her serious injury.

Astounded watchers below rushed to the spot and pulled her out, shocked but unharmed.

Sarah later married and lived to be 85.

Wikki tells us:

Sarah Ann Henley was a barmaid from Easton, Bristol, who became famous in 1885 for surviving an attempted suicide by jumping from the Clifton Suspension Bridge, a fall of almost 75 metres.

And poet William E. Heasell wrote a verse about the event:

An Early Parachute Descent in Bristol

Once in Victoria’s golden age
When crinolines were all the rage
A dame in fashionable attire
Would change her life for one up higher
So up to Clifton Bridge she went
And made a parachute descent
But though, ’twas not the lady’s wish
A boatman hooked her like a fish
And thus a slave to fashion’s laws
Was snatched from out of Death’s hungry jaws
This story’s true I’d have you know
And thus it only goes to show.

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My response to today’s writing prompts:

Fandango: LEAVE
Word of the Day: DISMAL
Ragtag Daily Prompt: WALK