#writephoto “Coming Home”

“Clouded”

For visually challenged writers, the image shows a landscape of green moorland and hills, with a pool of water near rocks in the foreground and a heavy bank of white cloud rolling in and masking the horizon.

~~~

Coming Home

She sat on the small, raised mound fisting handfuls of the dark rich soil.

Looking out over the clouded horizon of Camden, Lauren Hatcher’s memories came to life.

She saw the picnics with her grandparents, and closing her eyes, she could even smell Nana Meggie’s fresh-baked berry pies and fried chicken. She remembered the rides Pawpaw gave her on his thoroughbred, Preacher, and the glorious moment on her eleventh birthday when she rode the horse alone.

Looking over at the small brook, Lauren’s face heated remembering her first kiss from Dan Denton when they were catching tadpoles.

A loud crack of thunder brought her back to the present. Lauren stood and glanced over the meadow again, regretting the three decades she’d stayed away from this place.

She turned and headed back to the house she’d left in a near run the day she turned eighteen.

Ralph Prince spent all day working at the family livestock business and all night drinking and beating his wife, Louise. When he left for work before dawn the next morning, Louise would vent all her rage and frustration on Lauren, while treating her older sister, Karla, like a queen.

Things got worse when Pawpaw had a stroke the month after she turned eleven, and he and Nana had to move into the city for the constant care he needed.

Despite empty promises from her parents to visit, she never saw her grandparents again.

Ralph’s nightly drinking binges grew more intense as Lauren aged, and when she was thirteen, he punched her for the first time.

But it wasn’t the last.

Though they whispered behind her back, classmates and teachers never asked Lauren about the black eyes and bruises. No one ever asked if she needed help or wanted to talk.

Biology teacher, Patty Reedy knew Lauren’s story. She’d lived it.

Without discussing her home life, Patty encouraged Lauren to keep her grades up and look to the future.

In her junior year, the school passed out financial aid packets for college. Lauren returned to school without her packet and fresh bruises on her face. Frustrated, Patty scrambled for a back-up plan but knew she couldn’t actively interfere until Lauren turned eighteen. She prayed the child would live to see that birthday.

And she did. Five days after graduation, Patty boldly pulled her old Chevy into the Prince’s driveway and waited. Lauren rushed out the side door with a battered blue suitcase while her mother and sister yelled taunts and threats at her back.

Lauren spent the next year working in a small nursing home and saving her money.  Her apartment across the street from the facility was small even for being studio-size, but to Lauren, it was a mansion. Patty helped her find counseling and a support group, and Lauren Prince was reborn. Entering the university’s nursing program the following year, Lauren was on fire to excel and live life out loud.

Though she’d never lived farther than a hundred miles from Camden, she never returned. It wasn’t fear that kept her away, but anger.

 

The rain started as she reached her old dilapidated home. Her parents did no upkeep and the peeling wallpaper and faded paint proved that.

But the foundation was still rock solid.

Pawpaw built the three-bedroom home as a wedding gift for Nana right after they were married. Years later when Pawpaw built their second home, they used the first as a guest home for family, then gifted it to Louise when she married Ralph.

Anger burned in her chest as Lauren thought about the love that created the house and all the violence that it housed.

Not wanting the anger to consume her, she took deep breaths and exhaled in slow, metered fashioned. The coping therapies she’d learned so long ago still worked.

Walking through the house again, Lauren couldn’t keep the questions from forming in her mind even though the answers didn’t matter to her.

Had her family missed her? Were her parents sorry for how they treated her? Did they ever try to find her?

Shaking her head, she smirked, knowing the answer to all the questions was no.

And she was glad.

Patty Reedy risked her job to help a student at risk, and Lauren never forgot her kindness. The bubbly teacher was now retired, raising Corgis with her husband and doting on their twelve grandchildren. They always included Lauren in the Reedy family gatherings, and it gave her the love and wholeness she’d felt back in the meadow with Pawpaw and Nana.

Something she’d never get from her family.

Ralph Prince died thirteen years ago from emphysema. Her sister, Karla, drank herself to death before she was forty, leaving three ex-husbands and five children. Her mom died in September from complications with diabetes and a bad heart. It took the state six months to find Louise’s estranged brother, Dale, who lived across the country, and another two to find Lauren, who lived just eighty-seven miles from the front porch she now stood on.

Though her grandparents “gifted” the house to her newlywed parents, the deed wasn’t turned over until several years later.

And Ralph Prince’s name wasn’t on it.

To ensure the house stayed in the family, Pawpaw and Nana signed over the house to Louise Hart Prince, Karla Beth Prince, and Lauren Holly Prince.

She wondered if that was the cause of her father’s rage—living in a home that wasn’t his. Did he see his in-law’s actions as disapproval and disrespect and take it out on their daughter and granddaughter? He had no say-so over the property and her grandparents included the caveat the house couldn’t be sold until she and Karla reached adulthood and could sign for themselves. They could only use power of attorney or probate documents in the event of one of their deaths.

Now they were all gone and the house belonged to her.

Lauren crossed the porch to the ledge, watching the rain cover her mother’s overgrown garden in sheets.

They were gone and she felt nothing. No pain, sadness, or loss. The unbearable ennui over what could have been no longer clouded her mind. Before today, the only regret Lauren felt was for the things she and husband, Gale, had put off for “the right time.”

That time never came.

Gale blamed his love of spicy foods for his stomach pain.  Three days later, as the pain intensified, he blamed a stomach bug picked up from a patient at work. One week after the pains began, the chief radiologist lay on a table in the department he ran for nine years, and five weeks later, he was gone, his body ravaged by inoperable pancreatic cancer.

Memories of her gentle giant and their eighteen years together made Lauren smile even as her chest tightened. Though he’d been gone seven years, her husband’s counsel still filled her mind. She was grateful for all the therapists who helped her on her journey to self-love, but Gale Hatcher was her rock. He was protective without smothering and never missed an opportunity to admire her strength.

Gale also never missed a chance to gently suggest Lauren return to Camden.

“The place didn’t hurt you, Honeybun, the people did, and that will never happen again.”

His faith in her was stronger than her own, and she always found a reason to not make the trip.

Lauren’s face heated with shame even as an abrupt giggle escaped her lips. She could see herself telling Gale he was right, and him, splaying his enormous hands out in front of him, saying, “You doubted me?”

She walked over to the door and made sure it was locked then stood at the top step.

She wouldn’t tell the boys about Camden right away. Kevin and Glenna’s wedding day was two weeks away, and his big brother, Riley, was a part-time paramedic, taking classes and trying to be there for Kevin. She wouldn’t overwhelm them with her drama. A month from now when the kids were back from their honeymoon and everyone had time to exhale, she’d bring them all to Camden and finally share the parts of her childhood she’d kept secret for so long. In the meantime, Lauren could finish sorting things out with the probate court and reach out to the uncle she hadn’t seen in forty years.

A large crack of thunder appeared to split the heavens as rain poured from the sky.

Descending the steps, Lauren strolled to the center of the yard as though it was a bright sunny morning. Stopping at the spot where Nana’s prize yellow rose bush sat so many years ago, she closed her eyes and leaned her head back, her arms outstretched at her sides, welcoming the assault of the downpour. It plastered her dark curls to her head, soaked her clothes… and hid her tears.

Lauren exhaled as the last vestiges of the weight burdening her soul melted away.

She smiled, glad to be home.

©Felicia Denise 2020

~~~

Minus One… finally

Marriage Cert

There’s always that one piece of unfinished writing which haunts a writer.

This is mine.

My 2014 NaNoWriMo project, Plus One.

It was my first time taking the NaNoWriMo challenge, and I got off to an amazing start. But as an uninformed pantser, I had no idea what I’d set myself up for.

Words flowed as my word count surpassed two-thousand daily. However, as I neared the 40K mark, I ran out of words. And ideas. And energy. All I had was the sound of crickets buzzing in my head. My total word count for the next eleven days was 547 words! I was so disgusted, after November ended, I couldn’t finish or revise it.

The experience taught me even a pantser can benefit from a bit of prep work, and I’ve had no problem finishing NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo ever since.

But there’s still this one. Sitting on my hard drive… mocking me.

I try to pull it out once a week and work on it. I went back to the beginning and created an outline, character sketches, and plot points. I will complete and publish it sooner than later. I have to. It’s a moral imperative. 😀

~~~~~~~~~~

Perri Norton was exhausted.

Her joints throbbed with each step. Beads of sweat ran down her back as she approached the parking garage. She should never have come alone. She should have told someone, and asked them to come with her. Three blocks were a breeze for a healthy person, but for someone dealing with multiple chronic illnesses like her, they may as well have been a marathon.

It had been much easier making the short walk when she’d arrived three hours earlier. Now, not only was the sun high in the sky, Perri was certain Los Angeles would record a new high temperature for this mid-August day. Combined with the slight incline back to the parking garage, Perri knew she could trigger a flare-up which would leave her immobile for days. She said a silent prayer as she reached her Lexus LX SUV.

Giving her car remote a click, she opened the rear driver-side door. A blast of heat hit her in the face, taking her breath away. The car’s interior was stifling. Another quick click started the car, and Perri was grateful she remembered to leave the air conditioning settings on high.

Setting her bag on the back seat, Perri removed her linen blazer, grabbed her cell phone from the pocket and the manila folder from the side of the bag. She laid the blazer over the bag and closed the door to give the car time to cool off.

She turned and looked out at the Los Angeles skyline. Thick, brown smog hung over the city like a blanket. Perri could not wait to get back to the less oppressive environs of Brentwood. She loved the frenzied, cacophonous atmosphere of the shopping district, but it was humid, smoggy days like this that reminded her why she moved away.

Her lips curved into a faint smile as she glanced at the Los Angeles Court House. The few hours she had spent there, and the exhausting walk back to her car was a small price to pay for what the folder held inside. She opened the car door and stuck her head inside. Satisfied with the cooler temperature, Perri slid into the driver’s seat and closed the door. A sense of euphoria washed over her as she stared at the folder. She opened it, removed the formal document and read the bold heading.

FINAL JUDGEMENT FOR DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE,”

It was over. Leaning back against the seat, Perri ran her fingers over the paper. No more pretending.

No more phony smiles or empty promises.

No more sad, pitiful looks from family and friends.

No more dreaming of the day when her farce of a marriage would end. Today was that day.

She knew she should feel remorse or regret, but Perri had to stop herself from laughing out loud. She was giddy… happy, and she wanted to celebrate.

Sobering, Perri realized again no one knew where she was. It was no secret she had filed for divorce. The week after Marlena’s eighteenth birthday party, Perri hosted another small dinner party and made her announcement during the first course. No one was surprised. Most were relieved and applauded her decision to dump Parker. Her children were ecstatic. There was no love lost between them and their father.

But no one knew today was the official end to the Norton marriage.

However, they all knew Parker well enough to know he would never just agree to a divorce, and he had not made it easy for her. But as Perri prevailed and walked away, she still had the hope of a reconciliation between Parker and their children… children who had long ago reconciled their feelings for the father who all but ignored them.

Had the twins, Daniel and Ethan, had their way, she would have sought a divorce seven years ago. The young men had the misfortune to witness firsthand their father’s adulterous ways and wanted their mother as far away from him as possible. Having grown up in a household ripped apart by the ugliness of divorce, Perri assured her two oldest children that evening she knew of their father’s after work “activities”, and she could handle it for the time being.

A few short months away from their twenty-first birthday, and less than a year away from their college graduation, Perri’s boys argued that she should at least start the proceedings and they would return after finishing school to help with their two younger siblings. She remembered the pride she’d felt seeing the seriousness in their faces. Perri wasn’t in the habit of explaining herself to anyone, but her children were the life’s blood that kept her going. It had taken most of the evening, but her boys understood and had promised not to confront their father. Ethan was even complimentary on her way of thinking, saying he almost felt sorry for anyone who was silly enough to underestimate her.

Underestimate.

The word brought Margaret Gower Bradford front and center to Perri’s mind. The unsympathetic family matriarch was adamant Perri caused all her own problems. From her straying husband to her chronic health issues. If Perri had done enough, given enough, been enough… none of her problems would exist. Margaret didn’t even see them as problems, but more like Perri’s issues. She had cautioned Perri to not even consider divorce. Marriage was forever in the eyes of God. This sentiment from a woman who had been divorced for forty years, refused to remarry, and still found a reason to fight with Maynard Bradford anytime they were in the same zip code.

No, Perri would not be calling her mother anytime soon.

She thought about her small, close group of friends — or the “old broads” as she liked to refer to them. They hated that label. Tory, Sara, Connie and Valerie were always the cause of Perri’s fits of hysterical laughter. None of the women had an OFF button. No subject was sacred and anyone with a pulse was fair game for their biting, caustic remarks. She picked up her phone and dialed Tory’s number, but hit End instead of Call. A celebration with the girls would involve a long evening with way too much alcohol. Better to save that party for the weekend. She’d call them all later and set it up.

Glancing down at the court documents again, Perri knew there was only one person she wanted to call. The only person who knew all she had gone through and understood. The only person who was always there giving her unconditional friendship and emotional support. Her fingers hovered over his name on her contact list. She hadn’t told him about this morning’s court date. He would be upset. He would have offered to come with her.

Perri dropped the phone on the seat. She would not tell him over the phone, but he would be the first one she told. After all the years he’d held her together when she thought she was at the end of her rope, she owed Grayson that much.

Easing the car into the flow of mid-day L.A. traffic, Perri focused on the task at hand… surviving the drive home. No one could maneuver the crush of downtown traffic or its many surrounding freeways unless they were a bit unbalanced, and she fit right in for sure today. Perri couldn’t name the light, bouncy, but apprehensive feelings that buzzed just under her skin. It didn’t matter. She liked it. She liked it a lot.

She felt reborn.

©2014 Copyright Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

The Afghan


White afghan

This is another unedited excerpt from my NaNoWriMo2017 project, Sacrificial Daughter.

She smiled standing in her friend’s room. It was one hundred percent Rosie Chastain, appearing light and delicate, but held up by a solid sturdy foundation.

The ninety-year-old high-back rocking chair still sat in the corner. Made from thick oak by Rosie’s Uncle Preston, with pale pink cushions hand-sewn by his wife, Delia, it was Rosie’s special place. Whenever she had to sit and think about something, pray over something or someone, or collect her thoughts after a bad day, Rosie sat in the rocker.

Ana ran her hand over the smooth, glossy wood.

Next to the rocker was a massive nine-drawer dresser. Ana wasn’t sure what tree the dresser’s wood came from, but she remembered hearing workmen swear at the dresser’s weight when Rosie bought new carpeting and it had to be moved.

She opened drawers, not surprised at the order and neatness. Ana walked into the closet and was overwhelmed with memories of Rosie. The scent of the light jasmine and amber cologne Rosie loved was still in the air. Nurse’s uniforms, surgical scrubs, and lab coats took up a full third of the closet. Ana looked through the dress clothes, smiling at her friend’s love of silk.

She walked out of the closet and stood next to the large four-poster bed. Like the dresser, the bed was made from real wood and took four men to move it.

Sitting on the side of the bed, Analeigh buried her face in her hands.

Rosie was gone and now she had to get rid of these precious things.

How?

Jeff told her to leave anything she didn’t want in the house and the auction company would include it in their inventory and sale.

Ana didn’t think she could part with the bedroom furniture. She had no space for it in her modest two-bedroom condo back in Columbus, but these were the pieces Rosie loved and cherished most and they were important to Ana too. She would find premium movers and storage until she made decisions about her future.

Ana reached for her notepad and realized it was on the kitchen counter.

Headed for the kitchen, Ana stopped when she saw something behind the bedroom door. She closed the door to find a dark leather ottoman. It was large and square… and Ana had never seen it before.

Rosie must have bought it after Ana left Corwin.

She knelt for a closer look and saw the tiny brass hinges. Ana raised the ottoman’s lid and clutched her chest with a raspy gasp.

Her eyes filled with tears as she reached into the ottoman to retrieve the treasure.

Sitting on the floor, Ana hugged the one hundred percent Merino wool afghan. She rubbed her chin and cheek against it, incredulous it was still as baby soft as the day she and Rosie completed it.

 ~ ~ ~
Ana made a few bracelets and necklaces, but she never had the patience for jewelry making and working with crystal the way Rosie did. She had no passion for it. When a friend told Rosie about loop knitting and arm knitting, she thought they might be something Ana would enjoy, and it was a creative endeavor.

She was right.

Ana was thrilled when Rosie presented her with the bulky snow-white yarn. She watched the accompanying video four times over two days before she would even consider beginning her project.

On the third day, Rosie laughed as a giddy Ana dumped the first bag of yarn on the dining room table.

A small piece of paper clung to one of the skeins. Ana picked it up and read it. Her mouth gaped open as she backed away from the table.

“What’s wrong, Analeigh?”

Shaking her head, Ana opened her mouth to speak but the words didn’t come.

“Analeigh? What’s wrong, honey? You okay?”

Rosie took a step towards her, but Ana threw up her hands, the slip of paper clutched in her fist.

“You spent almost five-hundred dollars on yarn? For me? Rosie that’s crazy. You have to take it back.”

“Is that what has you so upset? The cost of the yarn?” Rosie waved her off. “The cost is not important, sweetie. The look in your eyes and the smile on your face is what matters. The sense of accomplishment you’ll have at trying something new… being creative, that’s how we grow. Accepting challenges. Now, calm down and let’s get-”

“No, Rosie. You have to take it back.”

“Stop talking nonsense, child. I’ll do no such thing. And haven’t I taught you it is rude to refuse a gift?”

Ana walked over to Rosie, lifted one of her hands and placed the receipt in it.

“Yes, you did, Rosie, but this is too much. I’m not worth it.”

Rage erupted in Rosie and her tawny brown skin glowed as heat suffused her body. She crumpled the receipt in her hand and stalked around the table. Her arms flailed, and her gaze darted around the room.

Analeigh Sellers took a step back, afraid Rosie would send her away and not be her friend anymore.

“I’m sorry, Rosie.”

The wiry old woman rushed to Ana, grabbing and clutching her to her chest.

The teen didn’t understand, but held on, not wanting to be sent away. When Rosie pulled back, Ana saw her face was wet with tears.

“What’s wrong, Rosie?”

She smoothed Ana’s hair down and cupped her cheeks in her hands.

“Some folks think the worst way to hurt a child is physically… beat on them, smack them around. But, sweetie, what’s been done to you is just as bad… worse in some ways.”

“I don’t understand.”

Rosie Chastain tilted her head toward the table.

“Child, if I spent ten-thousand-dollars on that yarn it was worth it to me to see you smile because you are worth it. You are important to me. You matter.”

Ana opened her mouth to argue, but Rosie stopped her.

“You can’t put a price on people, Analeigh, everyone has value. Everyone matters because they are here… alive. There isn’t one of us who is better or more worthy than anyone else. I know that to be true. I’ve seen a lot in almost seventy years on this earth, but I’ve never come across a person who was better than anyone else.”

Pain mixed with the confusion on Ana’s face and she looked away.

Rosie gently turned her head back to see her eyes.

“Child, I could tell you how special and worthy you are all day long, but it don’t mean nothing if you don’t believe it yourself.”

~ ~ ~

Ana wiped her eyes remembering that day. It took a little more time, but she soon learned to walk with her head held high. Because of Rosie Chastain.

~ ~ ~
For the next three weeks, Ana stopped by after school every afternoon, and she and Rosie worked on the afghan together. Methodically matching loops and rows.

On the last day, Ana locked the final stitch and the women complimented each other as they admired their handiwork.

“We’re pretty good, huh?”

“Child, you could sell this for twice what the yarn cost.”

“No way. I’ll never sell it.”

“Does my old heart good to hear that.”

Rosie ran her hand over the blanket.

“Just a month ago, this was piles of yarn, no shape or form, sitting on the store shelves waiting to be purchased. I bought the yarn and you, Analeigh, studied the process. You decided on a pattern and we worked together, keeping the blanket uniform…no loose ends. And now we have this beautiful creation.”

Ana admired her handiwork until she realized Rosie stopped speaking. She glanced in her direction only to find Rosie’s eyes locked on her.

“This blanket is you, Analeigh.”

Ana’s brow knitted in confusion.

“Your young life here… in this town, was just a pile of loose ends. No one tried to give you structure and guidance. They just grabbed a loose end and pulled. But you’re growing into a beautiful young woman and forging your own structure without anyone’s guidance. You’ve got the pattern, Analeigh, time to make your own creation.”

“If I did any of those things, Rosie, it’s because of you.”

“Oh, no, child. I was the shelter from the storm. We all need one sometimes, and we all act as one. You’ll be someone’s shelter one day too so they can have the opportunity to figure it all out. That’s all I did for you.”

“No, Rosie… it’s not. You gave me structure and guidance. And love. And Rosie you saved my life.”

Ana gathered the ends of the snow-white afghan and placed them in Rosie’s hands.

“That’s why I want you to have this.”

~ ~ ~
Ana closed the lid on the ottoman.
Rosie Chastain broke down in tears that day. Ana knew the spry senior citizen was fond of her, but she’d always felt Rosie acted more out of pity. A sense of dread stayed nestled close to her heart, fearing the day would come Rosie would no longer consider Analeigh worthy of her time.

The bond between the two friends was cemented that day. Ana knew she would leave Corwin and its suffocating judgment behind. Leaving Rosie Chastain wasn’t an option.

 

©2017 Felicia Denise
Image by jdurham

Sacrificial Daughter | #WIP

Sacrificial Daughter

NaNoWriMo lives! This unedited excerpt is from my 2017 project, Sacrificial Daughter, currently in revisions.


Thirty minutes passed before Ana Sellers returned Jeff Russell’s call. Expecting a receptionist or machine, she was surprised when Jeff answered the phone.

“Russell and Peters, may I help you?”

“I’m returning a call to Jeff Russell.”

“Analeigh?”

Pulling the phone away from her ear, Ana stared at it, incredulous. He knew her? Sixteen years had passed since the day she left Corwin without looking back.

“You know me?”

You were a year ahead of me in school.”

The name still didn’t ring any bells so she would have to take his word for it.

“I see. And now you’re an attorney in Corwin.?”

“Yes, my cousin, Adam, and I took over the practice from our dads about seven years ago.”

“And… and why d-do you need to speak to me, Jeff? What is the urgency?”

Silence was his response.

“Jeff? Still there?”

“Yes, I’m here. I’ve been looking for you for over two weeks.”

“Please tell me what this is about and why you’ve been looking for me.”

She heard an exhale escape from him, gruff and harsh.

“Analeigh, Rosie Chastain passed away.”

Ana froze. Rosie? Gone? No. No way. She spoke to her dear friend… three weeks ago. Damn it. Rosie said she was coming down with a cold but was looking forward to flying to Georgia in July to see her good friend and surrogate daughter.

Ana pulled at her chest, trying to ease the pain gnawing at her heart.

“W-What happened?”

“Heart failure. She told everyone she had a cold, but it was pneumonia. Her heart wasn’t strong enough to handle it. Rosie had a heart attack and slipped into a coma. Three days later, she coded. There was nothing the doctors could do.”

Her dear friend was gone. Ana’s skin prickled with anxiety as she fought to keep grief from overwhelming her.

“Jeff, how did you find me? What made you even look for me?”

“Like I said, it took some time, Analeigh. Rosie didn’t get out much the last few years. The few people she did talk to said she was disgusted with the changes and direction of Corwin.”

Ana knew that was true.

She tried to avoid the subject of Corwin when she and Rosie talked. Ana didn’t need memories of the place flashing through her mind, and Rosie said it decayed into nothing more than a political cesspool. The town’s first families — the Burfords, Foleys, and Lakes held all the offices of power. They treated Corwin like it was their personal kingdom and speaking out against them killed social standing and sometimes worse.

“Rosie had no family, and at the beginning, we thought she had no will. After wading through the legalities, we were able to enter her home. We found her will, drawn up by an attorney over in Spradlin. We also found your name and number, but the number was disconnected.”

Damn it! After a mini-battle with her cell provider over dropped calls and shoddy service, Ana switched carriers… and got a new number… four days after she and Rosie last spoke.

Analeigh didn’t bother to wipe away her tears when she realized by the time she activated her new number… Rosie was already gone.

“Analeigh?”

“I’m here, Jeff. Just trying to take all this in.”

“I’m sorry to have to tell you like this, Analeigh.”

“It’s alright. I do appreciate the call, Jeff… and thank you.”

“Wait, Analeigh. I didn’t hunt you done just to tell you Rosie was gone. In her will, she left everything to you. Her home and the store.”

The buzzing in Ana’s ears roared over Jeff’s voice. Analeigh Sellers sat there overwhelmed and in shock with a sense of dread taking over.

 

Image from ThinkStock
©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

It’s time for a Drabble!


Drabbles


Back with another Drabble!

I believe I’m getting the hang of the rhythm.

The difficult part–word usage–is… coming.

Much like any story, writers want readers to be able to empathize with the protagonist (good or bad), and visualize and feel the scene.

Tall order for a hundred words but it is fun!

How did I do?

~~~

C H A N G E S – Drabble #2

Kerri Kennedy sat alone on the swing watching her four former friends play across the schoolyard.

They treated Kerri as though she’d changed.

The accident last winter took her father and left Kerri with mangled legs.

She couldn’t stand up straight and walked with a limp, but she was still the girl who liked pineapple on her pizza.

She wasn’t the one who changed.

A soccer ball bounced against Kerri’s foot. She kicked it back to the girl running toward her.

“Thanks. Wanna play with us?”

“I can’t. My leg.”

“Sure, you can.”

Surprised, Kerri smiled at her new friend.

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

The Visit

River Ridge


Scene from the Upcoming Family Matters. Still struggling to overcome her issues of abandonment and salvage her personal life… and sanity, attorney Olivia Chandler attempts to visit the mother she hasn’t seen in five years and who’s been a resident at a private mental facility for almost thirty years.

“Olivia Chandler? I’m Sandra Riley, Sarina’s case manager.”

The tall woman grasped Olivia’s hand into both of her own, shaking briskly. “We’re so glad you’re here today. This is a big step forward for your mother.”

“Nice to meet you, Sandra, and honestly, it’s a big step for me too.”

“Oh, I’m sure, Olivia. Any questions for me before you visit with Sarina?”

Visit with Sarina. She made it sound so cute and homey, Olivia thought.

“Does she know I planned to be here today?”

“Yes, she does. When Sarina asked about you a few weeks ago, she said she also knew you’d have little or no reason to want to see her, but she’d always hoped you come someday.””

Olivia stared at the woman blankly, not knowing how to respond to the comment.

“I’m sure this is confusing, Olivia, and now isn’t the time for me to explain all that Sarina has gone through, but please know she is fully cognizant of her aging, of you, her late husband”, Sandra paused only for a second, “she even remembers the accident. It’s everything between the accident and a few months ago that’s fuzzy for her. It’s as though a switch was flipped off in her brain that was recently turned back on.”

Olivia frowned but didn’t ask the question on the tip of her tongue.

“May I see her now?”

“Of course! Follow me.”

The case manager’s long legs covered the distance across the sitting area in no time at all, with Olivia almost scurrying to keep up with her. Margot and Randie were always teasing Olivia about her brisk walking pace, but she had nothing on Sandra Riley! Olivia would guess Sandra to be at least six feet tall… and light on her feet.

Reaching an unmarked door in the far corner, Sandra held it open for Olivia, who walked through and found herself standing in yet another sitting room, only this one resembled the average family room. Large, overstuffed chairs, throw rugs and even a flat screen television graced the area.

“Welcome to Honey Ridge East, Olivia.”

“Honey Ridge East? I don’t understand.”

Sandra pointed to a bulletin board on the wall near the door they’d just come through.

“The residents here are grouped by floor, the severity of mental disorder, and the amount of care and supervision needed. The healthiest, most independent residents reside here in Honey Ridge.”

“My mother is here…in this section?”

She nodded.

Olivia tried to digest the information. Her mother was healthy? Required little or no supervision? Trying to reconcile this new Sarina with the bedridden, incoherent woman she last saw five years ago was difficult for Olivia.

“How long has she lived here?”

Sandra pursed her lips, thinking. Then she nodded.

“I’m pretty sure Sarina was here for the group’s Valentine’s Day dinner dance, so that makes it eight months.” Sandra tried not to laugh at the horrified expression on Olivia’s face.

“Don’t be shocked. We also have Easter Egg hunts and 4th of July barbecues. Most of the residents have signed up for hayrides next week for Halloween, and…” she leaned in towards Olivia, “I heard Santa will visit on Christmas Eve.”

Shaking her head, Olivia was incredulous.

“What kind of mental hospital is this? I mean, um…I thought…”

The case manager guided Olivia past the sitting area while answering.

“River Ridge Meadows is a private care, private pay, voluntary commitment facility. We’re fully licensed by the state and the federal government. Insurance isn’t accepted here, and no resident is here against their will. We currently have one hundred and sixty-one residents ranging in age from seven to eighty-six. Most are from throughout the state, but there are a few from other parts of the country, and even four from Europe. River Ridge has two permanent, board certified psychiatrists, two permanent, board certified medical doctors, six psychologists, and a nursing staff of 40 that includes licensed physical therapists.

The residents here are used to a certain way of life, and we provide that here, within reason. That’s why we also have an event planner and a social activities director on staff.”

Sandra stopped at the top end of a short hallway. “But we have all the time in the world for me to tell you about River Ridge, and even give you a tour, if you like.” She nodded towards the end of the hall. “Your mother is expecting you.”

Olivia pressed her hand against her stomach, the tiny nervous tremors threatening to morph into a full-fledged earthquake. Heat enveloped her body as the familiar tang of bile crept up the back of her throat. Closing her eyes, the nervous woman tried to will the anxiety away.

You’ve come this far, Chandler, don’t you dare freak out now!

 

©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

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I Wrote a Drabble!


Drabbles


I wrote my first drabble!

YAAY, me, right?

Wait. Don’t you know what a drabble is? It’s a short story written in 100 words or less, and it’s easier said than done.

I’d never heard of it either until a couple of weeks ago when I saw this post on Connie J. Jasperson’s Life in the Realm of Fantasy. Do you follow Connie? You should. She gives great writing advice… with examples!

After reading Connie’s post, I went on a drabble info search.

Google drabbles. I dare you! The search returns were mind-boggling. I felt like the planet was drabbling (← I have NO idea if that’s a word!) without me!

What’s the point of drabbles?

You’ll find several reasons listed on Connie’s blog, but prime for me is there is no room for anything which doesn’t move the story forward. Words must be chosen with much thought… because you can’t use more than a hundred.

If you’ve read anything by me, you know I have a love affair with the written word and don’t believe there can ever be too many, wonderful, glorious words! *Glares at last sentence* So, um… yeah.

I give you… my first drabble!

~~~~~

Calling His Bluff – Drabble #1

She removed her scarf and wiped her brow. The apple tree’s shade did little to protect her from the oppressive heat.

“Raelene – ”

“I’m done with this, Willie. Daddy is sick and needs me here to run the orchard. I can’t marry you.”

“He ain’t sick, Raelene! His mind is gone. He’s never getting better. Sell this land and put him in a nursing home.”

“No.”

“I thought you wanted to be with me?” He smirked. “Patty Walters would love to marry me.”

Raelene grabbed her basket. “I hope you and Patty have a nice life.”

She walked away… relieved.

~~~~~

Okay, so I didn’t redefine drabbles, but… I did have the key elements: a setting, one or more characters, conflict, and resolution.

It’s a start!

I feel an obsession coming on. You know, after all my other writing obligations.  Averts eyes.

On average, drabbles will take about an hour to write.

It took me longer than that. A lot longer.

But don’t tell Connie.

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Quotable – Toni Morrison


Toni Morrison

                                                  Toni Morrison
                   (African-American novelist and professor)
                                        Image from Pinterest

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”


Quotable – W.E.B. Du Bois


WEB Du Bois

William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B.) Du Bois  (1868-1963) sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, editor, and author. Image from AAIHS.


“A little less complaint and whining, and a little more dogged work and manly striving, would do us more credit than a thousand civil rights bills.”

 

“The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.”

 

“To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.”

Quotable – Langston Hughes 1902-1967


Langston Hughes

James Mercer Langston Hughes – an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz poetry. Image from NYDailynews.


“I swear to the Lord I still can’t see why Democracy means Everybody but me.”

 “An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose.”

 “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”

 “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?… Or does it explode?”

 “I have discovered in life that there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go, if you really want to go.”