#52weeks52stories “Dream a Little Dream”

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#52weeks52stories: Week 26

Word Prompt: dream

Word count – 2007 words; Reading time – 7 mins

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She was here.

His day went from good to great.

Everything else fell away from his viewpoint as he focused on her every movement.

After clearing the east entrance to the park, she loosened the harness on the huge malamute and looped the leash around her wrist.

Mark Evans had seen his mystery woman at the park enough to know the massive dog who could be mistaken for a small furry horse, was named Midas.

Though his size was intimidating, Mark had never seen the dog misbehave and was sure his mystery woman had no need for the leash.

Mark followed her with his eyes as she and Midas did a slow jog around the park’s perimeter.

She wore no knit cap or jacket today because of the warmer temps of late spring. Her dark brown curls pulled back into a messy ponytail, bounced as she ran.

She was beautiful.

His Dream-girl.

Only she wasn’t a girl.

Mark guessed her age was closer to forty than thirty, and her thick thighs could be proof her park laps with Midas were the most exercise she saw on a regular basis.

But it wasn’t a criticism.

He admired every shapely inch of her.

Mark had never spotted his Dream-girl with anyone else and he wondered if there was someone special in her life. Or a child.

Her unhurried park visits coincided with his own—in late morning—and were more than enough time for her to give her beloved pet some exercise while a spouse was at work or children in school.

Yet, somehow Mark didn’t think so. While the love and attention Dream-girl lavished on Midas was genuine and showed no signs of ennui in her life, Mark picked up on signs of loneliness. The restless way she rested her hands on her ample hips while waiting for Midas to retrieve his toy. Or the extended hugs she bestowed on him for behaving.

Or perhaps Mark was amplifying his own feelings onto her.

After the third lap, Dream-girl and Midas went to their favorite spot on the grassy knoll.

Dream-girl slipped a bright green tennis ball from her pocket and lobbed it across the park. It didn’t matter how far she threw it, Midas always returned it, moving with a speed that belied his large frame. After dropping the ball at her feet, Midas would sit and wait for his reward, mysteriously pulled from a different pocket.

Mark wanted to know her name, what she did for a living, and what she did when she left the park. He needed to know everything about her.

He also wanted to know if she’d ever noticed him.

His park visits began several months ago as the brisk breezes of autumn gave way to the freezing cold of winter.

Mark didn’t mind the cold. It cleared his head and allowed him time to think.

It also made him feel alive.

Like a man.

His future was at first dark and bleak. And while he still had no guarantees, Mark had hope, something that had been missing from his life for too long.

Dream-girl and Midas wrestled when the dog realized she had put the ball behind her back.

Mark could watch her for hours. She got so much joy from playing with her dog.

Not like Bonnie.

Shep would be lucky if she remembered to let him out into the backyard.

But when Bonnie left him, she’d insisted on taking Shep since she picked him out at the rescue shelter. Mark found out from a mutual friend Bonnie sold Shep to a dog breeder less than a week later.

Just something else to add to the list of things he’d lost.

Laughter drew his attention back to Dream-girl. Her laughter was deep. Throaty. Sexy. She could tell him everything would be okay and he’d believe her, soothed by her sultry tones. Minute tinglings of desire buzzed through Mark and he smiled.

Midas scampered to retrieve the ball again and kicked it with his paw, causing it to roll in Mark’s direction.

After a few hesitant steps, the dog stopped and sat. He could not approach strangers.

Dream-girl gave him a quick pat on the head as she jogged past him to grab the ball.

“Good boy, Midas!”

After grabbing the ball, she stood and gave Mark a warm smile that lit up her face.

“Hello.”

He returned her smile.

“Hello. You have a beautiful dog.”

Her smile broke into a wide grin.

“Thank you. I think so too, but I may be partial. I’ve had the big moose since I could lift him with one hand.”

They shared a laugh as she backed away. “Treats will only hold him so long. I’ve got to get Midas home for his lunch… before he eats a park bench.”

Dream-girl turned back to Midas and Mark was elated and sad at the same time.

She spoke to him! She took the time to speak to HIM!

And now she was walking away.

He took a deep breath trying to steady himself when she turned to him again.

“Where are my manners? I’m sorry. I’m June. I’ve noticed you here before.”

Mark couldn’t keep the grin from his face. “I’m Mark. Nice to meet you, June.”

“You too. Well, I’ll see you around. Enjoy the rest of your day.”

She threw the tennis ball toward the east entrance and Midas ran, grabbed it and met her before she’d covered half the distance.

Mark watched dog and owner leave the park, still mesmerized by the encounter.

He’d been right about her age. The soft wisps of gray hair forming at her temples and the adorable laugh lines in the corners of her eyes proved she was close to his own age. Her caramel-colored skin was flawless and his fingers itched to touch her face.

And that voice. So deep, rich, and smooth Mark was sure someone had dipped him in hot chocolate.

He wished he’d had more time to talk with her.

“Okay, Mr. Evans. I think you’ve had enough sun today.”

But it wasn’t meant to be.

Miriam, his day nurse, slipped her book into her bag as she walked over to his wheelchair. She returned his seat to its full upright position before releasing the chair breaks and heading for the west entrance.

“Such a beautiful today, isn’t it, Mr. Evans? Not too breezy, not too hot. A perfect day to get some fresh air… and make new friends.”

Mark was glad she was behind him and couldn’t see his face. The wily grandmother was invading his thoughts.

“I couldn’t agree more, Miriam. And why do you insist on calling me Mr. Evans?”

“Because it annoys you and I can’t have you getting too complacent, now can I?”

They both chuckled as Miriam pushed him across the street and continued on to his three-bedroom home a half block away.

June. As warm and inviting as the month she shared a name with.

Her dark brown eyes sparkled like the stars on a clear June night when she looked at Mark.

At his face.

In his eyes.

Not at the chair which served as his prison for most of his waking hours.

Not at the legs held together at the knees by a strap and hidden by jeans now two sizes too big.

June may not have seen Mark Evans, the man, but she saw him as a whole person… and there was no pity in her eyes.

Mark was lost in thought as Miriam pushed him up the driveway and stopped to open the garage door.

He wished June could see him as he was before the accident. Mark would never be mistaken for a male model but he had worn the lost forty-five pounds well.

The accident had also cost him in other ways.

For a short time, he’d lost his memory, but even as it returned, his independence and personal freedom did not.

Paralysis had also cost him his marriage though Mark lost no sleep on that loss. He knew his marriage to Bonnie was a mistake, still, he tried to make it work. But her multiple affairs with younger men and her endless excuses for not starting a family killed any interest Mark had left and just a few short weeks before the accident, he’d decided to end the year a single man.

Though devastating and life-changing, the job-related accident gifted him with the fastest… and cheapest divorce possible.

Saying she didn’t sign on to be a nursemaid and that she wasn’t emotionally strong enough to handle Mark’s injury, Bonnie packed, filed for divorce, and fled even before Mark had a full prognosis.

Had she not been so quick to leave, Bonnie would have found out Mark’s years of paying long-term disability insurance premiums resulted in very lucrative benefits for him. And accepting full responsibility for the faulty crane which dropped the steel beam on Mark, Sunburst Construction avoided a lawsuit… and bad press by paying him his full claim. All eight figures.

Now Bonnie was shacked up across town with some muscle-bound idiot eleven years her junior who supported her with a part-time job as a bartender and selling illegal steroids.

Good riddance.

Mark Evans didn’t care about the money though. Except for paying for his round-the-clock care, his bank account went untouched.

What he was glad Bonnie didn’t know was he wasn’t a true paraplegic.

Initial tests first showed the tissue around his spine much too inflamed for clear test readings.

Mark had no feeling or movement below the waist and only minimal movement of his arms. Doctors were convinced MRIs and CT scans would soon show a severed spine.

It never happened.

It baffled doctors how an eight-hundred-pound beam could fall on a man and he not only survive it but also have no broken bones.

Mark Evans was living proof it could happen.

He was also proof swelling in spinal tissue could subside but it didn’t mean sensation in his legs and the ability to walk would follow.

His doctors were cautious in their encouragement but assured Mark the day might come when he could walk again.

Mark’s frustration with his situation soon became depression, and it was Miriam who insisted on taking him out for daily walks, forcing him to concentrate on something other than himself.

And that’s when he saw her… his Dream-girl.

Temperatures were dropping below freezing, but Miriam still insisted on his daily outing. She didn’t stop to read her book on those frigid days but she would push Mark around the paved concourse twice.

The park would be abandoned except for Dream-girl and her dog.

He marveled at her steadfastness and dedication to her pet. He decided any woman so loyal and committed to a pet would also stand by her man.

She occupied his thoughts as he created scenarios on what her life was like.

She occupied his dreams as he dreamed about what life would be like with her.

Miriam said something about lunch and Mark agreed, not sure what he was agreeing to. She pushed him up the ramp to the back patio doors and set the breaks while she opened the doors.

Now his Dream-girl had a name.

June.

And she knew his name.

Mark would give anything to run and play in the park with June and Midas.

It could happen.

It was just four days ago Mark spilled his morning coffee in his lap… and he felt it. Not just the sensation of the weight of the heavy, damp fabric, but also the warmth of the coffee. This morning he’d wiggled the toes on one foot. He’d tell Miriam before Chuck arrived and she left for the day. Mark knew she’d give him hell for not telling her sooner, but she would also be thrilled for him.

It was happening. He would walk again one day. He knew it.

Mark also knew his infatuation with June may never get past greetings in the park and comments about Midas.

But he had hope.

And he had his dreams.

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Song Lyric Sunday | “Dream Away” – Babyface & Lisa Stansfield

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Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati from This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time. For complete rules or to join in the fun, click here.

The theme for Song Lyric Sunday this week is “dream.”

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Looks like I’m move-inspired this week… and duet-inspired!

As I said last week, music was a big part of family life when my children were growing up, and many of our favorite songs were from the movies we watched.

The 1994 McCauley Culkin-Christopher Lloyd-movie, The Pagemaster, contains two all-time favorites, Whatever You Imagine, sang by Wendy Moten, and Dream Away sang by Babyface and Lisa Stansfield during the end credits.

The Pagemaster, about a cowardly boy who buries himself in accident statistics, enters a library to escape a storm, only to be transformed into an animated illustration by the Pagemaster. He has to work through obstacles from classic books to return to real-life, was by no means a blockbuster, only making back half of its 1994 budget of twenty-seven million dollars… but we loved it.

However, Dream Away, written by powerhouse lyricist, Diane Warren, took on a life of its own, reaching number nine on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles and number eighty on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The video below became a top request on adult contemporary channels and Lisa Stansfield included a remastered version of the song on her So Natural album twenty years later.

The pop version does not include the book references like the movie version, but it’s still a beautiful song.

FUN FACT: The animated “Books” – Adventure, Fantasy, and Horror were voiced by Patrick Stewart, Whoopie Goldberg, and Frank Welker. It really is a good movie… just horrible promotion. The reader/author in me can’t help but believe a prime opportunity was missed in using this movie to promote reading to children and literacy to adults.

Enjoy!

See my Song Lyric Sunday selection on Nesie’s Place.

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Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

Dream Away

by Babyface and Lisa Stansfield

Written by Diane Warren

When this world, the real that world you’re living in
Just gets too much for you to take

When you find too many troubles on your mind then
Feel just like there is no escape

And it seems your heart has forgotten how to believe
Turn a page in your soul

There’s a place you can go
Close your eyes and let your heart fly free (fly free)

Dream away, dream away
Let imagination light your way
Take you as far as your heart can see
Dream…, dream away, dream away
To a place where hope is shining
Find your silver lining (find your silver lining)
Everything you need is just to dream away

Remember when (remember when)
The dream could take you anywhere (anywhere you want to)
Just to wish (yes) anything could be
When the father Sol is one more star you could reach
Take a look in your heart
‘Cause that’s where dreams are, where it starts
Anything is real if you just believe (believe…)

Dream away, dream away

Let imagination light your way
Take you as far as your heart can see
Dream…, dream away, dream away
To a place where hope is shining
Find your silver lining (find your silver lining)
Everything you need is just to dream away

All it takes is faith to make your dream come true (ah ah)
And somewhere in this world, there’ll be somebody
To share your dreams with you

Dream away, dream away
Let imagination light your way
Take you as far as your heart can see
Dream…, dream away, dream away
To a place where hope is shining
Find your silver lining (find your silver lining)
Everything you need is just to dream away

 

Compiled from Genius Lyrics, YouTube, Wikipedia, and Google.

#52weeks52stories “Soar”

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#52weeks52stories: Week 25

Word prompt: ash

Word count  – 1200 words;   Reading Time – 3:30 mins

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Feu soared through the sky, the chill of early morning giving him energy and spurring him on.

He flew higher, touching the edge of the atmosphere where the air was the thinnest before swooping down to the clouds.

Stretching his wings wide, Feu closed his eyes, gliding along the blustery troposphere, wishing his brothers were at his side.

Moto and Kasai would challenge each other to races until exhaustion took them. Huŏ, the youngest, would pepper him with endless questions about their heritage.

But these were troubled times for the Kuen Kingdom. There was little time for fun and enjoyment or taking mates and raising families as long as their existence was threatened.

Guilt filled Feu’s mind and enveloped his body. He turned back, ashamed at the time he took for himself.

It was a luxury he couldn’t afford.

The humans were restless again and whenever that happened, his kind suffered.

Feu didn’t understand the small minds of men. The Ajidaar owned the earth and sky long before man existed. But since their arrival, there had been nothing but chaos and turmoil, strife, and death.

Through the ages, men would approach Clan Kuen in the name of friendship, but the clan would soon learn they only sought the help of the Ajidaar to dispense with a nastier adversary.

Once the clan restored peace and order to the land, humans would turn on them, proclaiming them their new enemy, saying the Ajidaar were too powerful to exist.

Feu’s kind was difficult to kill but it could be done.

Clan Kuen lost many lives over the centuries, hunted because of the ridiculous lies of men.

It wasn’t enough to kill the Ajidaar, but those who ruled over the masses created mythic legends that Kuen livers gave men the strength of gods, and their hearts were aphrodisiacs inciting hours of endless sexual pleasure.

Anger and grief burned in Feu’s chest at the number of clan members found down through the ages, killed and gutted because of a lie.

It was an awful end to life for any being, but heartbreaking for the proud, peaceful Kuen, who by nature were nonviolent.

No other species on the planet had ever challenged the Kuen, allowing them to live in peace.

Humans arrived without fanfare and the Kuen took little notice. Men appeared to have the same concerns as all other life forces. Survival and nurturing their families was their main priority.

Three hundred years passed and the mindset of humans shifted. They became arrogant and self-righteous, obsessed with accumulating wealth and power.

It disgusted the Kuen the way men treated each other. War, slavery, oppression, and deceit were the weapons of the ruling classes. Kuen regretted the loss of human life but it was not their place to tell others how to live.

And they remained silent.

Feu grimaced remembering how safe his clan believed they were. However, they soon learned the greed of men was insatiable.

The humans took more and more land, cutting down trees and clearing hundreds of acres to build castles and erect ridiculous monuments to themselves.

Unwilling to take human lives, Kuen retreated from Talvara, their lush green valley of meadows, hollows, and sweet water streams to the caves and peaks of Mt. Labha.

But possessing the land was still not enough for men. They craved dominance over every living thing… and pursued the Kuen.

Feu’s grandfather, Pitav, had enough. He called a meeting of the surrounding clans and the K’eyi Filageni from the north and the Kizil Jalin from the south answered the call. The Kemp Jvolayo in the east was already too weak and diminished to fight.

The Ajidaar vowed the Kemp Jvolayo would reclaim their strength in numbers and dignity. They would sacrifice no more clan lives to spare those who sought to enslave or exterminate them.

The next attack of men was met with the full force of the united Ajidaar.

Humans were devastated and barricaded themselves behind high stone walls for centuries, leaving Ajidaar in peace.

Now history was repeating itself.

Arrogant men once again sought to defeat and dominate the Ajidaar, the wisdom of their elders and fear of failure faded with the passage of time.

Feu’s clan called for war, but he wasn’t ready to risk Ajidaar lives.

Startled from his thoughts, Feu’s keen hearing picked up Moto’s battle roar from miles away.

Thrusting forward, Feu cleared the mountain range and saw the reason for his brother’s call to fight.

Humans had Huŏ trapped at the opening of his lair.

Coils of Juzum Sabagi layered Huŏ’s huge body, and the humans continued to throw more, intent on not allowing Huŏ to take flight.

Juzum Sabagi was the sticky vine of the kooh fruit and once it adhered to something, the only way to remove it was with the oil of the kunvara plant.

Struggling against the vine only made it worse.

Feu saw the resigned look in his little brother’s eyes as he slumped over and waited for death.

Above the mouth of the cave, men labored to roll large boulders into place to rain down on Huŏ until his hearts stopped.

Like Pitav centuries before, Feu had enough.

At seven-hundred-years of age, Huŏ was still a young-ling learning his way and staking his place in Ajidaar life.

Feu would not allow that life to end today.

Dipping low, he released his own battle roar as Moto and Kasai arrived from the opposite direction.

They saw their brother’s lower wings extend and followed suit. The trio circled each other once as their eyes took on the golden glow of battle.

A slight head tilt from Feu and they each knew their target.

Moto went for the trail of humans rushing from the village to celebrate and feast on Huŏ’s organs.

Kasai headed for the motley group above the lair still pushing boulders of death into position.

The mouth of the cave belonged to Feu. Those who dared violate and sabotage his brother’s home to take his life would lose theirs this day.

The Ajidaar battle roars filled the air as the brothers of the Kuen summoned the smoldering fire from the pits of their bellies.

Flying low, they opened their mouths wide and unleashed a scalding rain of fire incinerating everything in their path, leaving only a trail of ash.

Later, as clan members arrived with kunvara oil to free Huŏ, Feu sat on the peak above the lair surveying the devastation.

Charred ashes floated away on midday breezes and Feu’s mind was uneasy.

He should feel victorious. No Ajidaar were harmed and his brother still lived.

But more men would come. They always did, and death soon followed.

A single tear rolled down Feu’s scaly face, sizzling against his still hot skin.

He wept for the future of the Ajidaar knowing they would never again live in peace.

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

~~~~~

#52weeks52stories “Left Behind – Conclusion”

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#52weeks52stories: Week 24

Word prompt: anchor

Word count  – 4629;  Reading Time  – 5 mins

Part 1

~~~~~

New tears threatened to spill from Teddy’s eyes and Barry chose his next words with care.

“You know that’s not possible, right? Your mom isn’t gone because of a wish.”

Teddy dragged his arm across his face wiping away the unshed tears.

“Some of the guys from the basketball team came by my house after practice the day before my mom… the day we argued.

They had all ignored me since I’d quit the team without telling them why. Couldn’t very well tell them I had to babysit my schizophrenic mother, could I? Coach got wind of them giving me the silent treatment and told them I was needed at home and that was all they needed to know. I was shocked to open my door and find them there with pizzas and sodas. We fell back into our old rhythm and it felt good to hang out with the guys again.

Then the singing started.

Mom only did that when she missed taking her meds. I rushed to her bedroom and she wasn’t there. I was on my way to check the other bedrooms when I saw the side door to the sun-porch was open. I bolted out the door and there she was… dancing around like she was at a party…naked.”

The past hit Barry like a punch in the gut. Teresa Cook had never shed her clothes—because she’d been banished to her bedroom before she could—but there had been more hysterical drunken episodes and bouts of hyper-mania than he cared to remember. He’d had Grams and Aunt Gwen to handle things. Teddy had been alone that day.

“I ripped off my shirt and raced toward her.” He flung an arm out to the side. “She thought we were playing some stupid game and ran. When I chased her down, she fought me and said I was ruining the party and I was too young to be so boring.  We fought until I got the t-shirt on her. She started to run again, but we were startled by Chris. He’d grabbed a throw from the sofa and bought it outside. He never looked at mom, just held out the throw to me, and said he and the guys were taking off and would check on me later.”

“I’d never been more grateful and embarrassed in my life. I couldn’t speak… I just nodded at him like an idiot.”

The history teacher watched his student short pace around the desks, words tumbling from him faster and faster.

“I turned to grab mom’s hand and get her inside and she smacked it away. That’s when we argued.”

Teddy stopped his pacing and leaned against the window ledge.

“She tore into me about how rude Chris was for not introducing himself and staying for the party… and I just lost it. I screamed there was no party and Chris was trying to help without causing anyone any more embarrassment.”

He chuckled, and Barry didn’t miss the fact it contained no joy.

“Mom told me I was being dramatic and there was no reason for me to be embarrassed. I reminded her of the time she ran into traffic and tried to drag some guy from his car claiming he’d stolen her father’s car… and my grandfather died before I was born. And there was the time she ran into the Toeller Building downtown, took the elevator up to the eleventh floor and turned it off. When maintenance finally got her out, she was hysterical and said the mean girls were after her for dating the captain of the football team.”

Teddy Carver slid down the wall to the floor just as new tears rolled down his cheeks.

“But I wasn’t done… nope. I reminded her how she was banned from all the adult day care programs for always running away, and how none of the home nursing agencies would even take our calls anymore.”

He buried his face in his hands, his body wracked with sobs.

Barry knew the boy’s pain and had worn the same guilt. He needed to get the teen out of the building and find his father.

“Teddy, nothing you’ve said or done is new or wrong. You’re human, and you’re a kid with adult responsibilities.”

Not hearing his teacher, Teddy continued, his voice now flat and void of emotion.

“Mom brushed past me, said she was going inside to speak to my dad about my attitude. She didn’t believe me when I told her he was at work. We’ve had that talk before. She knows he hates working nights, but a night-time shift manager makes almost twice as much as a day-time foreman. The company’s insurance sucks and deductibles for mom’s doctors and medicine are huge. He didn’t have a choice.”

“Sounds like the argument between you and your mom was calming down though.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought too. But when I took her hand to lead her inside she pulled back again and said she wanted Mrs. Butler to take care of her not me.”

“Mrs. Butler?”

“She lives one street over from us. A retired nurse from one of the adult day care programs mom was in. She took care of mom during the day for months… almost a year. But our luck was balanced on a house of cards. Mom was banned from care programs, dad got a position at night, and Mrs. Butler’s husband was diagnosed with colon cancer… so I had to quit basketball to be with my mom.”

Barry sat on the floor next to his student. “Then what happened?”

“She started singing again… and dancing. She said I was trying to trick her like Mrs. Butler did when she’d hide pills in the pretty pink punch.”

Barry Cook appeared calm, but his mind was reeling at what all this seventeen-year-old kid went through.

“Mom claimed I was trying to make her feel bad because I was jealous of her life. I told her I couldn’t be jealous of her life because it was the only life I had.”

“What did she say to that?”

He leaned his head back against the wall. “She called me Theodore the bore.”

“Teddy, I cannot be -”

“I snapped. I grabbed her arm and dragged her inside all the way to her room. I made her take her pills, put her in bed and told her not to call my name or get up before dad got home. She got really snarky… said maybe she’d go to sleep and just not wake up. That would solve everyone’s problems if she wasn’t there to be such a burden. I turned to leave the room and she screamed, “Say it, Theodore, say it! You wish I was dead, don’t you?”

I didn’t answer. I had to get out of that room and away from her.” He shook his head. “But she wouldn’t let it go. She jumped out of bed and ran into the hall behind me, pushing me, punching me in the back and arms.” He mimicked his late mother’s voice, “C’mon, Theodore. Say it. This is your day of truth to share your feelings so, say it.”

“Had your mom ever acted that way before? Lost control? Hit you?”

Teddy pulled his long legs toward his chest, resting his arms on his knees. “She experienced mania but I can’t remember her ever being so angry and confrontational before.” He stared at his hands but continued, his words weighted with regret. “But I was different too.”

 

Deanna Carver jumped in front of her son, blocking his path. He was half a foot taller than his mother, but at five-feet-eleven, Deanna could be an imposing figure.

“Stop walking away, Theodore, I want an answer.”

His bottom lip trembled as he searched her face for the mother from his childhood. The woman who took him on field trips after school and made him eat green vegetables. Before everything changed.

“No, momma. I don’t wish you were anywhere but here with dad and me.”

His words didn’t ease the hardness in her face and the anger and defiance in her eyes confused him.

“But things would be better for you… and us if you’d just take your pills when you’re supposed to. We could all -”

She cut him off.

“Take my pills? You want me to take the pills? Fine.”

Deanna whirled around, storming back into her bedroom, with her son on her heels.

“Theodore wants me to take the pills so he can have a happy life.” She grabbed the bottle of Thioridazine from the nightstand.

“Momma, what are you doing? You just took your meds not ten minutes ago.” He reached for the bottle and she swatted his hand away.

“I may be a crazy mother, but not so crazy I don’t want my child to be happy.” Deanna bested the child-proof cap and emptied the bottle into her palm.

“Mom!”

He grabbed his mother’s wrist.

Pills fell to the floor, but Deanna clenched the majority in her fist. “This is what you wanted, Theodore.”

Teddy worked to pry her fist open. “Mom stop this or I’m calling dad and your doctor.”

“Go right ahead! Call them both. They want me to take the pills too.”

Teddy cried out in pain and yanked his hand back to see the reddened area where his mother pinched him. Turning his attention back to her, Teddy saw his mother raising the handful of pills to her mouth. He drew back and punched her hand while pushing her onto the bed with his other hand. Teddy fell to his knees. Biting his bottom lip to hold back the sobs, he crawled around the floor scooping up pills and returning them to the bottle.

Deanna sat up on the edge of her bed clutching her right hand to her chest. “You hit me.”

Refusing to look at her, Teddy continued to scramble around the floor in search of loose pills, his resolve weakening. “I did not hit you, Mom. I knocked your hand away to keep you from doing something craz – “He caught himself.

“Crazy? Go ahead and say it, Theodore. We’re being honest, remember?”

“Mom, just lie down, please? We both need to step back and calm down. Dad’s halfway through his shift and if you rest a while and sleep, when you wake up he’ll be home. Okay?”

“And then what? More pills? More goodnight, Deanna? He’ll give me that puppy dog look of his and try to feed me and talk to me… beg me to share my feelings. He’ll kiss my forehead and hug me tight, telling me everything will be okay.”

Teddy’s anger flared. He rose to his knees and pointed an accusing finger. “Stop it, momma! Be mad at me, yell at me, fight me, but do not mock dad!”

“Don’t mock your dad?” She laughed, her tone high-pitched and lyrical as the hysteria returned. “Big Brandon Carver won the girl and made her his wife, but all he got was a dud for life.” Her laughter went even higher, reaching keening levels.

Teddy jumped to his feet, rage causing him to sway. “How can you make fun of him like that? He loves you, momma. You’re everything to him.”

Her laughter stopped. She widened her eyes while tilting her head to the side. “Guess it sucks to be him.” Amused by her own remark, Deanna fell back onto the bed laughing like a school girl.

Standing to his full height, Teddy’s supply of resolve was gone… and so was his mother. He no longer cared about the psychotic woman on the bed who mocked his father and had to get away from her now. Clenching the bottle of recovered pills in a tight fist, Teddy backed toward the door. Her shrill laughter continued, assaulted him with each breath, dulling his reason until all he wanted was to make her hurt and defend his father.

Pausing his steps, Teddy addressed his mother, his deep voice filling the room to get her attention.

“When I said I didn’t want you anywhere but here with dad and me? That was a lie, mom. Every time you had one of your episodes and ran off, dad was frantic, desperate to find you and bring you home… to keep you safe. People would look at him, their eyes filled with pity, but he didn’t care, he just wanted his wife home with him. I did too when I was younger. But after you ran out into traffic and assaulted that poor man, I was done.”

Deanna sat up again on the edge of the bed, no longer laughing.

“I know you’re sick, momma… I get it. But after that day every time you had an episode, I wondered how you lived through it. Why you were still alive.” He backed up two more steps toward the door. “So, yeah, ma’. Sometimes… sometimes I do feel life would be easier if you weren’t here.”

After delivering his cruel words, Teddy turned to leave the room.

“Theodore?”

He froze in place but didn’t turn around.

“I’m sorry.”

“You always are, mom.”

 

He’d leaned his head back against the wall again. His eyes were closed, but tears streamed down Teddy Carver’s face.

Barry Cook remained silent, knowing the boy had to tell his story.

“I lost track of time… just sat in the family room crying. And they were selfish tears. They weren’t for mom or even dad, they were for me and why I couldn’t have a normal mom and a normal life. I thought about how I would tell dad about what happened when he got home, and then it was his voice, loud and clear in my head.

“If you think we’re tired and frustrated, son, just think about how much worse it is for your mother. She doesn’t want to be this way, but she can never escape it. There is no cure for a damaged mind. Those pills make her appear in control but what they actually do is make her manageable. Inside, the voices and hysteria… her pain and anguish are all still there. They never leave her.”

“I knew that. I knew all of that. But I let my anger and pride get the better of me. I was so ashamed and knew I had to apologize to my mom. I ran to her room, but she was asleep. I was going to sit next to the bed until she woke up when I heard the front door. My dad was home, and now I had to face him.

One look at his son’s face and Brandon Carver knew… Deanna had another episode.

“What happened?”

“She didn’t take her meds. I found her in the backyard… naked.” He rushed toward his father. “I’m sorry, dad. I should have watched her closer, made sure she took her medicine. But… some of the guys from the team were here and I was distracted. I’m so sorry.”

Brandon fell into his recliner, raking his hands over his close-cropped, dark curls.

“This isn’t your fault, Teddy. None of it is. I’ve put too much responsibility on you, but I didn’t know what else to do.”

“She’s my mom. Of course, I’m supposed to help with her.”

“Help, yes. Fix her a meal. Watch a movie with her, not stand guard to keep her from running away or hurting herself. Not devote all your non-school time to her because she’s banned from everywhere because of her behavior.”

His exhale was loud and harsh as he leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “We talked about this, Teddy. It’s time.”

“Dad, no -”

“We agreed, Teddy. One more bad episode and we’d find residential care for your mom.”

“We can’t lock her away, dad, we can’t.”

“If we don’t, son, the day’s going to come when the state will.”

“But – “

“I have to work an early shift tomorrow. Mrs. Butler will take care of your mom. I’ll arrange for a few days off and next week we’ll find a place… a nice place close-by where we can visit whenever we want.”

“Dad – “

“Go to bed, son, you have school tomorrow.”

 

“It was the longest walk of my life. I started down the hallway but turned to try and change his mind one more time. He’d picked up their wedding photo from the end-table and was just staring at it… his face covered in tears.”

Barry reached over, squeezing Teddy’s shoulder. “I can’t imagine what it took… or felt like for your father to make that decision.”

“I didn’t think about that at the time. I was back in good old self-pity land. I tossed and turned the rest of the night, then jumped up and left for school an hour later, not having the guts to face either of my parents.” He turned his head and Barry was gutted by the self-hate he saw in his student’s eyes. His memories of his own self-hate exacerbated the pain.

“By second period, I knew I was the worst son on the planet and couldn’t wait for the day to end. I had to get home to my family… while we were still a family.” Sobs choked his next words. “But I was too late.”

Barry schooled his features to mask his own emotions but nodded once for Teddy to continue.

“Mrs. Butler’s van wasn’t in our driveway when I got home, but I didn’t think anything of it. Sometimes she took mom to the market. I found out later her husband had to be hospitalized and Mrs. Butler never got to our house.”

“I went inside and found all the drapes still closed. The omelet dad made for mom every morning was still on the warmer. I knew something was wrong.”

“The family room was empty, and mom’s bed was unmade. She never left her bed unmade. I was going to call Mrs. Butler but decided going over to her house was better. I headed to my room to leave my backpack and change… and saw the door to the sun porch was open.” He shook his head. “I didn’t believe mom would leave the house open and unsecured, but I knew Mrs. Butler wouldn’t. I ran out the door praying I didn’t find my mom dancing around naked again. Our yard was empty. Mom was nowhere in sight.

I heard this… this creaking sound behind me. I turned toward the sound and there was my mother… hanging from a rope thrown over a beam. I screamed and ran to her, trying to hold her up… to get her down, but I couldn’t do both. I couldn’t do anything… so I let go. Her body sagged against the rope and I fell down in horror… as though I was killing her myself. I stared up at her. Her beautiful face… all bloated and purple. Her eyes. Her eyes were open. Seeing nothing but yet staring at me…”

Teddy Carver slumped over, his body heavy with guilt and wracked with sobs.

Barry grabbed the boy and held on, not knowing where Teddy’s tears ended and his began.

The teen pulled away, clutching at his chest. “She’s dead because of me. Because of what I said.”

“Teddy, stop it and listen to me. I’m not a doctor but I know a bit about suicide and not just because my mom killed herself.”

The youth wiped his nose on his sleeve and tried to focus on his teacher.

“Everybody has a theory about suicide. It’s selfish, it’s revenge, it’s a coward’s way out. Suicide may be all of those things or none of them. Even the experts can’t agree on them. But what I can tell you is most people who commit suicide thought about it before and more than once. And, most people have a plan and those plans do not center around anyone but themselves.” He leaned closer to Teddy, hoping he was hearing his words… and praying they were true. “You argued with your mom and said things you regret. But, Teddy, your mother did not kill herself to make you happy or solve your dad’s problems. No matter what either of you said or did, her pain… her torment was inside her and she brought an end to it the only way she could.”

Looking more like a seven-year-old than a young man about to turn eighteen, Teddy rested his head on Barry’s shoulder. “I want her back. I want my mom.”

“I know you do, son. I know you do.”

He stood and pulled Teddy up from the floor. “Where’s your dad?”

“Home. He hasn’t been able to go back to work since… the funeral. He’s shut down. He won’t talk to me… or listen.”

Barry took his student’s arm leading him to the door. “I’m taking you home. He’s going to listen today, but even if he won’t, it doesn’t mean we can’t find you some help. You cannot ruin your life over misplaced guilt. It can’t happen. I won’t allow it.”

Teddy’s brow knitted in confusion as Barry looked out into the hallway.

“Just a few stragglers left. Go across the hall to the men’s room and wash up. I’ll let my wife know I’m going to be late.”

Still confused, Teddy did as he was told, holding on to the hope his dad would, at last, listen to him today.

Barry Cook closed the classroom door and pulled out his cell phone as he walked to his desk. He typed out the short text to his wife, letting her know he talked to the student he’d told her about and would explain it all later.

After pressing Send, his cell dropped to his desk, followed by a stream of tears.

Barry knew Teddy Carver’s pain… all of it.

He didn’t know Teresa Cook or Deanna Carver’s pain. No one ever would.

But Barry Cook had a better understanding of suicide than most people. He didn’t approve of it. He hated it. But, he understood.

He knew firsthand the feelings of endless despair. Of being afraid you’ll never be happy again. He knew of the malicious voices inside teasing and taunting.

Barry was the boy no one wanted. Not worthy enough for his father to stay, not worthy enough for his mother to live.

Grams died right before Barry’s fourteenth birthday and he never felt more alone. Aunt Gwen and Uncle Dean took him in and even wanted to adopt him. But to Barry, it was out of obligation not love. Who could love him? Why would they want to? His own parents didn’t even stick around.

The next year saw Barry isolating himself, slipping farther into the darkness. He saw his uncle cleaning his gun one day and tried to seem uninterested while watching his every move. When Dean returned the gun to the case and left the room with it, Barry wanted to run after him to find out where he kept it. But he stayed in front of the television, pretending to watch… while coming up with a plan.

Months passed, and life grew worse for Barry. Gwen and Dean found counseling for him, but the therapist seemed more concerned with how often Barry masturbated and he grew annoyed with her and begged to stop seeing her.

Waking up each day became more unbearable and nothing his family tried helped. He just wanted them to stop trying to help. He wasn’t worth the effort.

The holidays were approaching, and Aunt Gwen rushed into the house one day with bags of wrapped gifts. She took out one large box wrapped in blue foil paper for his uncle and asked him to hide it in the hall closet next to the attic door. Barry obeyed, entering the closet, pushing hung garments aside to get to the farthest corner.

And he saw the gun case.

A calm washed over Barry as he stroked his hand over the polished walnut case.

Everything was going to be okay.

Two days later when his family, excited about caroling with their neighbors, dressed for the cold snowy evening, Barry begged off saying his throat was sore and he thought he was coming down with something. Promising not to be gone long, they left the fifteen-year-old with a mug of hot soup. He ran to the window and watched them enter their neighbor’s home across the street, then Barry headed for the closet. He grabbed the case and scooted up the attic stairs, grateful the end was within his reach.

Barry sat down in a corner and opened the case. The Browning called to him. Barry wasn’t afraid or anxious. He was relieved. His useless existence was over. No one had to pity the boy unworthy of love ever again.

He took a deep breath and raised the gun to his mouth. Closing his eyes, Barry squeezed the trigger.

And nothing happened.

He squeezed the trigger again only to get another empty click. His mania rose. He checked the chamber and magazine, not understanding why the gun didn’t fire. A shadow fell across him and he looked up to see Dean standing at the top of the stairs.

“I’d hope I was wrong, but I wasn’t taking any chances.”

His uncle held out his hand and Barry saw the Browning’s firing pin.

Defeated, Barry dropped the gun. His mournful wails filled the attic.

Dean grabbed the boy and held him tight, rocking, much the way Barry had held Teddy.

His uncle made promises to Barry that day that he kept. Promises Barry would be forever grateful for.

It didn’t happen overnight, and it wasn’t easy, but Barry did get the help he needed. By the time he walked across the stage to receive his high school diploma, the young man was more in control of his emotions and didn’t believe in his own worthlessness.

At his college graduation, Barry Cook was a vibrant young man proud of his accomplishments and grateful for life. He was also grateful for the graying gentleman standing next to his aunt with tears in his eyes.

Dean took the journey to wellness with Barry, never leaving his side. Barry considered Dean more watchdog than parent until the day Gordon Cook showed up looking for a way to capitalize on Barry’s academic success.

“Your parental rights died with Teresa, not that you were ever any kind of father. Barry is my son and a terrific young man with a great future. He went through some bad times because of you and I will take you to hell myself before I allow you to hurt him again.”

Gordon Cook didn’t need to be told twice and disappeared. However, his absence didn’t affect Barry this time. Dean had been the anchor that kept him from drowning in darkness.

Barry stood, wiping his face. He grabbed his cell and laptop case and left his classroom in search of Teddy.

The kid had a father, a good man dealing with his own grief. But Barry knew he couldn’t give up. He’d find help for both of them. He didn’t want Teddy to ever sink to the depths he’d known, and unchecked, Barry knew that’s where he was headed.

There was still too much stigma attached to mental illness, but much ground had been gained and new therapies discovered in the thirty years since Barry first sought counseling. He’d work with Teddy and his dad until they found one that fit. Teddy deserved that much. He was on the cusp of adulthood and should embrace life fully, not waste away in the shadows, devoured by the guilt and regret of those left behind.

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

~~~~~

Song Lyric Sunday | “Seasons of Love” – cast of ‘Rent’ (2005)

Song Lyric Sunday banner

Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati from This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time. For complete rules or to join in the fun, click here.

The theme for Song Lyric Sunday this week is “seconds/minutes/hours.”

 ~~~~~
I was texting with my three adult children while thinking about this challenge and asked them for recommendations… even though I knew what their answers would be.
The oldest and youngest voted for 525,600 Minutes (Seasons of Love) from the Broadway musical, Rent. What did the middle kid pick? Time from Hootie & the Blowfish.
How did I know what they’re choices would be? Let’s just say 1995-2010 were very musical years in our home. I knew the words to three Hootie songs before I knew who they were! 😀 😀
They gave me two recommendations so today blog visitors get two songs because any mom knows to choose one over the other could lead to future problems… and a whole lot of whining! The boys already swear their sister (the youngest) is my favorite because we’ve spent more time together. However, I’ve assured them anytime they want to share a mani-pedi appointment with me, I’m there! 😀 😀

Seasons of Love is a song from the Broadway musical Rent, written and composed by Jonathan Larson. The song starts with  “Five hundred and twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes” (the number of minutes in a common year [60×24×365]).

Seasons of Love is performed by the entire cast in the musical and in the 2005 film of the same name. The lyrics ask what the proper way is to quantify the value of a year in human life, concluding in the chorus that the most effective means is to “measure in love”. Since four of the lead characters either have HIV or AIDS, the song is often associated with World AIDS Day and AIDS awareness month.

The video is from the opening scene of the movie.

Enjoy!

See my Song Lyric Sunday selection on Nesie’s Place.

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

525,600 Minutes (Season of Love)

by the cast of the 2005 movie, Rent

Written by Jonathan Larson

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear.
five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.
How do you measure,
Measure a year?

In daylights?
In sunsets?
In midnights?
In cups of coffee?
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife?

In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.
How do you measure a year in a life?

How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love…
Seasons of love…
Seasons of love…

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand journeys to plan.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.
How do you measure a life of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned,
or in times that he cried?
In bridges he burned,
or the way that she died?

It’s time now to sing out,
though the story never ends.
Let’s celebrate remember a year in a life
of friends

Remember the love…

(Oh, you’ve got to you’ve got to remember the love)
Remember the love…
(You know the love is a gift from up above)
Remember the love…
(Share love, give love, spray love, measure your life in love.)
Seasons of love…
Seasons of love…

~~~~~

Time was released in October 1995 as the fourth single from Hootie & the Blowfish’s breakthrough album, Cracked Rear View. It peaked at number 14 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and reached number one in Canada. The song also peaked at number 35 in New Zealand, number one on the Billboard Adult Pop Songs chart, and number four on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.

The video was directed by Frank Sacramento and filmed in Charleston, South Carolina.

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

Time

by Hootie & the Blowfish

Written by

Time, why you punish me?
Like a wave crashing into the shore
You wash away my dreams
Time, why you walk away?
Like a friend with somewhere to go
You left me crying

Can you teach me about tomorrow
And all the pain and sorrow, running free?
Cause tomorrow’s just another day
And I don’t believe in time

Time, I don’t understand
Children killing in the street
Dying for the color of a rag
Time, take their red and blue
Wash them in the ocean, make them clean
Maybe their mothers won’t cry tonight

Can you teach me about tomorrow
And all the pain and sorrow, running free?
But tomorrow’s just another day
And I don’t believe in…

Time is wastin’, time is walkin’
(Time, time) You ain’t no friend of mine
(Time, time) I don’t know where I’m goin’
(Time, time) I think I’m out of my mind…
Thinkin’ about time
And if I die tomorrow, yeah
Just lay me down to sleep

Oh, no no, no no

Time is wastin’, time is walkin’
(Time, time) You ain’t no friend of mine
(Time, time) I don’t know where I’m goin’
(Time, time) I think I’m out of my mind…
Thinkin’ about time

Time, you left me standing there
Like a tree growin’ all alone
The wind just stripped me bare, stripped me bare
Time, the past has come and gone
The future’s far away
Well, now only lasts for one second, one second

Can you teach me about tomorrow
And all the pain and sorrow, running free?
Cause tomorrow’s just another day
And I don’t believe in time

(Time, time, time, time) You ain’t no friend of mine
(Time, time) I don’t know where I’m goin’
(Time, time) I think I’m out of my mind
(Time) Walkin’, (Time) wasted
(Time, time) You ain’t no friend of mine
(Time, time) I don’t know where I’m goin’
(Time, time) No, no no no

Time without courage, time without fear

Is just wasted, wasted, wasted time
Oh…

Time, why you punish me?

Compiled from Genius Lyrics, YouTube, Wikipedia, and Google.

#52weeks52stories “Left Behind”

left behind photo

#52weeks52stories: Week 23

Word prompt: suicide

Word count: 1496, Reading Time  – 2 mins, 19 secs

~~~~~

The watched hands of a clock are not supposed to move.

But Teddy Carver had seen the hands move for every one of the last twenty-four minutes.

Five minutes remained before the three o’clock bell rang signaling the end of history class and the end of the school day.

Time to go home.

Nervous jitters caused his knee to bounce while his fist tightened around the pencil he was holding. It snapped, breaking into pieces Teddy laid on the desk without taking his gaze from the clock.

He knew his classmates were staring at him. Some, out of curiosity but most were because they pitied their young friend. Teddy appreciated their kindness and concern. The school sent a beautiful wreath to his mom’s service and the GoFundme donations helped to pay for the service and more… since there’s no payout for suicides.

But he could live without the pity.

The bell sounded and any thoughts of Teddy Carver and his troubles faded into the chaos of the mass exodus from the classroom.

When the last student was out the door, Teddy eased his six and a half foot frame from the cramped desk.

Slipping his textbook under his arm, Teddy approached the door with slow steps, in no hurry to ride the wave of students crowding the hallways.

Two steps away from his goal, Teddy’s path was blocked by Barry Cook, his history teacher.

“Teddy? A minute, please?”

The teen towered over his teacher but his slumped shoulders decreased his stature.

“Yes, sir?”

The older man slipped his hands into his front pockets, trying to hide his discomfort with what he was about to say.

“I was so sorry to hear about your mom. My wife’s been ill, and I didn’t find out until I returned to work yesterday.”

Teddy shuffled his feet in place, eyes downcast. “Thank you, Mr. Cook. And I hope your wife’s better.”

Barry Cook reached behind him and pulled the classroom door closed. He sat on the desk nearest to him and motioned for Teddy to do the same.

“You know, this school is one big rumor mill and teachers hear things—who’s dating, who’s pregnant, whose parents have split—and we have to decide what to ignore and what to act on.”

He stumbled, trying to find the right words.

“I know you had some… tough times before your mom died. But I also knew you were on the basketball team and had a good relationship with Coach Ramos. I know he takes an interest in his team and talks about more than just sports.”

Barry Cook appeared exasperated… and frustrated.

“But I didn’t see you in the third home game and Coach told me you had to quit to help out at home. I should have reached out to you then, Teddy. I should have been there for you.”

The boy’s brows knitted in confusion.

Barry scrubbed his hand over his jaw.

“I lost my mom when I was nine.”

Teddy stiffened, but remained silent.

“My dad walked out on us when I was five. I was too young to understand it all or how my life was going to change.

We had to move a short time later. We left our big yellow house and moved in with Grams. I cried for a week because we couldn’t take my swing-set. Grams didn’t have a backyard. But it wouldn’t be long before other things would shade my world.”

Teddy was mesmerized hearing his teacher’s story.

“One day, mom stopped going to work. She stopped coming by my school at lunchtime or to evening events… she stopped doing everything.

Grams took care of me. Mom’s sister, Gwen, moved back to town with her family. She had a son and daughter close to my age and they would pick me up for long weekends of family barbecues, trips to amusement parks and museums… all the fun stuff I couldn’t do with my mom.

Aunt Gwen took me home one Sunday and as soon as we got inside, she rushed me off to put my things away. She’d never done that before and I knew something was wrong. I left the room but stood in the hallway to listen to her and Grams.”

“Is she sleeping… or drunk?”

“No, this time’s she high.”

“Mom, what the -”

“Calm down, it’s legal. Something new her doctor says will help with the depression.”

“Pills? But with her drinking -”

“There isn’t a drop of anything in this house. I even got rid of the mouthwash, and I warned that friends of hers, Patty, to not sneak anything else in here or she’d no longer be welcomed or allowed in.”

“What’s going to happen with her, mom? Barry needs his mother.”

“I know, dear, and I agree with you. But depression isn’t something that can be cured with a quick fix. I’m just trying to be there for her… and keep her away from alcohol. And you’ll never know how much I appreciate you and Dean moving back to help with Barry. I could never give him what he needs and be there for his mom.”

“That’s what families do, momma. Speaking of which, has the scum-sucking dog been around?”

“Gwen! What if Barry heard you? You shouldn’t call his father names.”

“Well, has he?”

“Gordon moved out of state right after the divorce papers were signed. Teresa cried for days.”

“I hate him so much.”

“Just when she was getting back to her old self, we saw Kim, Gordon’s cousin at the cleaners. She told us his “new wife” was expecting. Your sister changed that day and hasn’t been the same since.”

“That piece of crap snaps up a new wife and starts a new family without a thought to the beautiful son he already has? Barry deserves better.”

Barry Cook closed his eyes as though he could still see his aunt and grandmother.

“That was eleven days after my eighth birthday and the first time I learned of my mom’s depression and drinking problem.” He shrugged. “I had no clue what depression was just that it kept my mom in bed. I got a crash course sooner than I wanted.”

“That was also the first time I knew my dad was never coming back.”

The pain Teddy Carver saw in his teacher’s eyes caused his chest to tighten even more.

“The pills worked for a while. There were days when mom was like her old self, laughing and telling bad jokes. But there were still bad days. She would sit in one spot and cry without making a sound… just big, fat tears streaming down her face and soaking her clothes. She’d cry so long she would fall asleep from exhaustion and wake up and start all over again. To this day, I still don’t understand the depth of mom’s pain, but it had a strong hold on her and never let go. Four days before my tenth birthday, my mother died of an overdose of pills and alcohol.”

Barry Cook fixed his gaze on Teddy. “And it wasn’t an accident. Mom had just picked up a refill of her pills earlier that day and told Grams she was going to rest a while. Grams found her unconscious right before I got home from school. She called 911… but there was nothing they could do. We found out later she’d taken the entire bottle of pills with a glass of whiskey.”

Teddy winced. Mr. Cook’s mom had wanted to die… just like his mom. He saw a shadow of something pass over his teacher’s face. More pain? Regret? Grief?

The teacher schooled his features, walked over to Teddy and reached up, squeezing his shoulder.

“Son, I won’t insult you by telling you I know how you feel or I’ve been in your shoes. I’m not going to say remember the good times or the pain will get easier…because none of it is true. But what I can tell you is those left behind often are consumed with guilt on top of their grief. Did they miss something? Did they do too much? Too little? But there was nothing you could have done to change this outside of never leaving your mother’s side. And even then, she still could have found a way. So don’t take on the guilt. None of this is your fault.”

Teddy opened his mouth to respond, but choked sobs escaped instead.

“Teddy? It’s gonna be okay, kid… I swear.”

The teen leaned over with his hands on his knees, gulping for air. After a harsh exhale, he raised his head to his teacher.

“You don’t understand. My mom’s gone and it’s my fault.”

Barry froze. His racing pulse made him light-headed and he leaned on the desk as he tried to understand what his student was confessing to.

“My mom is dead because of me.” He gulped for more air. “We argued and I told her I wished she was dead and now she is.”

~~~~~

The conclusion to Left Behind will be posted next week. Thanks for stopping by.

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Song Lyric Sunday | “Weeping” – Josh Groban

 

Song Lyric Sunday banner

Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati from This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time. For complete rules or to join in the fun, click here.

The theme for Song Lyric Sunday this week is “to post a song with a metaphor in the title or lyrics.”

 ~~~~~

While it’s been covered more than a dozen times, it was American recording artist, Josh Groban, who made the song, Weeping, more accessible to the international community.  In fact, Weeping is a song about apartheid South Africa. It was written by Dan Heymann of the South African band Bright Blue, while completing his compulsory 2-years of National Service in the South African army in the mid-1980’s. From Dan’s own website:

“I’ve been asked many times about the symbolism in the Weeping lyrics, so maybe I should say something here.

The man referred to in the Weeping lyrics is the late P. W. Botha, one of the last white leaders of South Africa before the end of the Apartheid regime;

The demon he could never face in the Weeping lyrics refers to the aspirations of the oppressed majority, while the Weeping lyrics also refer to the neighbors, literally the journalists from other countries who were monitoring the situation in South Africa.”

Song writer Heymann, was an unwilling white soldier, drafted into the Army. Weeping began as an instrumental piece, expressing his unhappiness at being drafted by the regime, and later he wrote words to Weeping when the government declared a State of Emergency and imposed a ban on media-coverage of the situation in South Africa.”

It is an extraordinarily powerful song, and was voted the “All-time Favourite South African Song” in 1999.

Below are two versions of Weeping – Josh Groban in concert in Salt Lake City, Utah and Dan Heymann’s group, Bright Blue, singing the original version.

Enjoy!

See my Song Lyric Sunday selection on Nesie’s Place.

 

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

Weeping

by Josh Groban

WEEPING Written by Dan Heymann
(Copyright Bright Blue)
______________________________
I knew a man who lived in fear
It was huge, it was angry, it was drawing near
Behind his house, a secret place
Was the shadow of the demon he could never face
He built a wall of steel and flame
And men with guns, to keep it tame
Then standing back, he made it plain
That the nightmare would never ever rise again
But the fear and the fire and the guns remain
It doesn’t matter now
It’s over anyhow
He tells the world that it’s sleeping
But as the night came round
I heard its lonely sound
It wasn’t roaring, it was weeping
And then one day the neighbors came
They were curious to know about the smoke and flame
They stood around outside the wall
But of course there was nothing to be heard at all
“My friends,” he said, “We’ve reached our goal
The threat is under firm control
As long as peace and order reign
I’ll be damned if I can see a reason to explain
Why the fear and the fire and the guns remain”

 

 

Compiled from Genius Lyrics, YouTube, Wikipedia, and Weeping.info.

The Devil You Know, Part XII #52weeks52stories

The #52weeks52stories challenge is supposed to be flash fiction… and today I’m posting the TWELFTH installment of my story!

What am I doing with my life?

The Devil You Know is going on hiatus. No, not sticking it in a drawer. I’ll work on it during July CampNaNoWriMo—tighten up the beginning, clean up errors and discrepancies and bring it to a whizbang finish!  😀

Check back here for updates!

Intruder

#52weeks52stories: Week 22

Word prompt: cake

Word Count: 1226, Reading time – 2 minutes, 1 sec

~~~~~

Part I    |     Part II    |    Part III    |   Part IV   | Part V

Part VI   |   Part VII   |   Part VIII   |   IX   |   |  XI  |

(All links open new windows.)

Vincent Perreti never played a video game he didn’t want to master or saw a website he didn’t want to hack.

Had it not been for a savvy guidance counselor, the twenty-nine-year-old could have easily ended up on the other side of the law. But tough-love moved the street-wise tech-geek past juvie hall through college and onto the Marbury police force.

“I am amazed at the number of men named Mossford.”

Ending his phone call and turning back to his monitor, Myles Griffin chuckled. “It’s an old-world name from another era.”

“No, it’s a hillbilly name from the back woods.”

“Man, would you quit? What have you found on our guy?” Getting no response, Myles glanced over at his partner.

He knew by the mischievous glint in Perreti’s eyes and mega-watt grin the man had found a gold mine.

“Get this. Mossford Oswald Samuel Sievers was born to Benedict and Gracelyn Sievers 11 February 1921.”

Griffin frowned. “And?”

“Don’t you get it?”

“Get what?”

“Mossford… Oswald… Samuel… Sievers. M-O-S-S. Moss. Who does that? Was it intentional? Were his parents wordsmiths? I love it!”

The thirty-two-year-old Griffin leaned backed in his chair, laughing. “Only you zero in on that kind of stuff. But Marks is coming in here soon and will want to know more than the man’s name was an acronym.”

Perreti smirked. “You never let me have any fun. Fine. Like I said born February 1921; entered the Air Force June 1939; and married Lindy Ellen Piquat August 1939. He was stationed stateside in Dover while that base was being built.” Perreti frowned. “I can’t access his actual service record… yet but looks like he didn’t get deployed until two years later after Pearl Harbor.”

“Do not hack that system. I’m still filing reports from your last data breach. We make the appropriate requests.”

Perreti pounded away on the keyboard, trying to gain access. “Yes, boss.”

“Vince? Don’t start. I’m not your boss, I’m the Forensic data lead, okay?”

“But if you’d taken that job with Google, I’d have the position, right?”

“I didn’t want to work for Google, I like being a cop.”

“Yeah, but you’re breaking your mother’s heart.”

“No need to remind me what a disappointment to my parents I am by being a lowly civil servant.”

“Oh, please. You could have my mom… who’s happy I’m on the outside of the bars.”

Griffin laughed. “Good thing we’re both confident men.”

Perreti feigned tears. “Speak for yourself, I need counseling.”

Both laughed while shaking their heads. Perreti pointed at Griffin’s desk.

“What did you find out?”

“Mossford and his kids were busy… breaking laws. Grifting, cons, scams, they were at it for years. No arrest record for Lindy, though, and nothing on a Gary Sievers.”

Vince opened another browser. “No one is invisible. No one. Even folks who live off the grid left a footprint somewhere.”

The two detectives smirked and spoke at the same time. “Unless they were never on the grid.”

*

“Please eat just a little, mom. It’s been hours since you’ve had anything besides coffee.” Joanie Case held out the deli-style turkey sandwich to her mother.

As though on cue, hunger pains roared to life in Sally Bennett’s stomach.

Joanie smirked, and Sally took the sandwich. She munched without thought, her eyes unable to leave the large double-doors leading to the surgery suites.

Two hours into the procedure, Dr. Weathers came out with an update.

“We’re still cautious, Mrs. Bennett, but it’s looking good. We’ve removed all the bone fragments and there’s no evidence they added to the injury. There’s no intracerebal, or brain bleeding. Swelling has decreased since his MRI, which is a good thing. We’re about to begin the delicate portion of the procedure—draining the fluid.”

Sally clutched her chest. “That sounds serious.”

“I have to be honest with you. No matter how much care and time we take, an ischemic or brain stroke is a possibility.”

He stood and leaned over Sally, squeezing her shoulder.

“He’s strong and a true fighter. Ted and I feel very good about this. Someone will update you again soon.”

The doctor’s words replayed in Sally’s head. “He’s strong and a true fighter.”

She smiled to herself as she crumpled the sandwich wrapper.

“I guess someone was hungry.”

She smirked at her son. “I didn’t think I could keep anything down, but my body took what it needed. I feel better.” She reached over and gripped his hand. “About everything.”

Carolyn returned to the waiting room from the hallway.

“The Red Cross cleared an early release from duty for Cheryl. She’ll change planes a few times but will arrive in Philadelphia tomorrow evening.”

Darrin frowned. “So, I need to meet her at the airport?”

“No, big brother, got it covered. Dave is packing as we speak. He and the kids will meet Cheryl’s plan and head on here.”

“I told Merri not to come. If she hears Dave is here I’m in for it.”

“Same here with Rick,” Joanie added.

Carolyn chuffed. “All of us and seven kids? Now is not the time for a family reunion.”

“It’s the perfect time.”

They all turned to their mother.

“We’re past the point of this disrupting our lives. Better we should all be together so you all don’t have to worry about how your absence is affecting your families. At least for a few days.”

Sally leaned forward in her seat.

“Your father would never admit this, but he loves being surrounded by his children and grandchildren. Having everyone here when he wakes up will be better than any medicine.”

Joanie slipped her arm around her mom’s shoulder. “You believe he’s going to be okay, ma? One hundred percent like before?”

“I’ll take any percentage I can get, but yes, your father’s going to be fine.” Her gaze returned to the double doors. “He has to be.”

*

The five detectives had chairs pulled close to Gavin Marks’ desk as they all listened to Michael Benchley, the current sheriff of Drexler, Delaware on speaker-phone.

“Haven’t heard the Sievers name in quite a while. Thought they were all dead except for Melville.”

Marks perked up. “Where’s he?”

“Vaughn Correctional in Smyrna… for second-degree murder.”

“Can you give us details? Sounds like we’ll be making a road-trip to Smyrna.”

The sheriff chuckled. “I can pull our local files and tell you whatever you want to know. But I have a better idea. Since you’re planning a road trip anyway, come here first. You’ll find out more from my dad than any file will tell you. He was a deputy and the sheriff back in those days and knew Moss Sievers and his family. Dad’s in his nineties but still sharp as they come.”

Gavin wanted to leap from his seat.

“Holland get started on travel vouchers. Gans, find out if you or Hill can go along. Griffin and Perreti, work on getting clearance for us to see Melville Sievers.”

He turned back to the speaker-phone.

“Will you be around this weekend, Sheriff?”

“If I want to keep breathing, I will. My wife’s birthday is Sunday.”

“Well, remember to save us some cake.”

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved