Crazy Dark Place [Repost]

Prompt: Fight or Flight

plain-blonde-doll

Charlotte arrived home just after four am, and Jamie was asleep. The house still stank of beer, so he’d had friends over. The furnace had clicked over into overnight temperatures, so the house was cold– that especially bitter, early morning cold.

She went into the kitchen and washed her hands at the sink. She used Palmolive dish detergent as soap, and scrubbed up as thoroughly as the surgeons she occasionally worked with. Her hands, she noticed were looking pink and raw but she was too tired for a shower, and needed to wash away the death and decay.

Jamie had cocooned himself in the sheets and blankets at one side of the bed. She had to wake him, or sleep in the cold.

When she awoke the next day, she had a meal that was neither breakfast nor lunch, an egg sandwich and a glass of cranberry juice, followed by a can of beer. Jamie had gone off to work, and she was due at the hospital in less than an hour.

She combed her hair, thinking it was too long. Who was she kidding? Her hair was pale blonde and thick and there was no grey showing, but she was no longer the bright young beauty that had attracted Jamie and so many others. She rubbed baby lotion on her arms and chest. She put concealer under her eyes. She thought of Cassie, who was the wife of one of Jamie’s friends. Charlotte would agree to the Super Bowl party Jamie kept talking about, so Cassie could visit too and they could chat and Charlotte would inevitably laugh, because Cassie always put things into perspective. Cassie seemed to enjoy making Charlotte laugh. The world was a crazy dark place, that was Cassie’s philosophy. Might as well face it and deal with the paralysis of life with energy and a sharp tongue.

Charlotte understood that. She felt paralyzed but lacked the energy or power to feel that she was more alive than the patients she treated, and not one of the walking dead. She wanted handsome Jamie back. She wanted the feel of a hero’s arms about her, warm and soothing. She wanted a flat stomach and trim waist, and clothes that fit. She wanted to be admired and yes, even pampered. Instead she was surrounded daily by the dying, and had to fight off thoughts that the happiness of those she served might be better fulfilled by a deep, permanent, peaceful sleep.

Jamie had a gig that evening, and Charlotte would miss it. While she she nursed a vague nostalgia for the once inseparable performer and muse, she didn’t mind, and neither did Jamie. He was hardly the rock star she had worshipped as a girl. He was a DJ in a small town now. He didn’t write songs anymore, or sing them. She was no longer his inspiration. He played whatever music his clients wanted, even country and western. Being the wife of an indifferent DJ was not the same as being the wife of a rock star. To be honest, he was never a rock star either. Just a singer in a band that was no more.

He would be home from work by six, while Charlotte was at the hospital, then out again by seven, so she made him an egg sandwich too, wrapped it in cellophane and put it in the refrigerator. It was not a hot meal, but then Jamie was less of a cook than she was. It would have to do.

She had one more can of beer, and put another one in her bag.

She passed the hall mirror on her way out the door and looked into her own eyes. So, how she felt was obvious. They were as flat and matte as a painted doll’s eyes.

Cassie. She would wait to see Cassie before she made any decisions. Cassie could make her laugh. When she truly laughed, her eyes twinkled and shone. Many people had told her that, once.


  • Original Prompt: Jump, September 22, 2016
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Bad Goldfish

Prompt: Unrelated


Hello Wednesday,

As summer approaches we get busier here in tiny town, with gardening, watching fish mate, visitors, making up species names for birds, wondering what “that smell” is, mentally putting out forest fires, and treating sunburn. It is a magical time of year.

We are thinking of getting a puppy. There is a local farm litter of chubby creatures of unknown lineage, and a couple of shepherd/ lab puppies now available at a local SPCA. Life is so easy and peaceful without a puppy, dear Wednesday, so I’m of two minds. My brain is split. My heart wants a cuddly fur ball, but my muscles, joints, and sleep centre all scream ARE YOU SURE?

Decades ago I did this: I woke up in the morning and noted that I felt cheerful enough to hum a random song, that it was supremely easy to propel myself out of bed, that I felt healthy, fit, alert, awake, energetic, and optimistic about the day ahead. I wondered if that moment would be worthy of a spot in my memory. It was a worthy thought. I appreciated, even if for just a fleeting moment, my youth and vigour, and as I now am greeted each morning with bizarre little aches, pains, random bumps, vague mental lapses, and a desire for a puppy, at least I have that vivid sense memory of a time when my body sang, even if my brain was annoying and juvenile.

The saddest thing in the world: a lone duck or Canada goose gliding across the lake,  obviously looking for a missing mate. Also puffins washing up on shore starved to death because global warming has caused their food fish to flee to colder waters further north. Today I recycled a wax milk carton, so I’m part of the solution.

Before I go and peel an orange, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons of no particular theme?

cartoon switch on

cartoon reserved table

cartoon bad goldfish


Love, peace, and happy memories.

~~FP

Conquer [Repost]

Prompt: Senses

yin yang fish

Beth wondered how much to tell him, as she snuggled close, her arm draped over his waist and her middle finger idly stroking his breast bone while he slept.

It wasn’t love. It wasn’t just lust, either, exactly. It was an almost Zen contentment, a match, a yin and yang, a yearning perfectly met. Theirs was a playful relationship, without intimacy, but with good food and fun and flirting and far too long in bed. Beth was reeling from the intoxication of it, she walked just a bit above ground, she was just a bit too forgiving, a bit too ready with a smile that couldn’t be contained.

There was no reason she should feel ashamed of anything in her past. Ok, her military husband left her for a man while she was pregnant. Ouch that did hurt, but didn’t really reflect on her, since in the end she was well rid of the bastard.

A single mom then, basking in the attentions of a rich man, who some might say bought her “services”. She didn’t look at it that way. Roman was lovely, attentive, in love, and Beth was young and desperate and tired of the struggle. Who could condemn her for that?

And Deborah. Beth had never really approved of Deborah’s husband, Vincent, but Deb was like her father— there was no stopping her when she wanted something. They shared a healthy ego, confidence, and the sense that the world owed them a happy life. He hadn’t met Deb yet, hadn’t heard the story of Vincent’s murder. How would it sound to him?

Vincent was out walking late at night (why?). He was robbed. It happens. But how often does the robber shoot their victim in the face? It was more than a robbery; Beth could feel it. No one had ever explored any other motive for the crime. But Beth could add. She knew Vince. Something happened that night.

And Beth didn’t know how to explain it to Geoffrey, or even if she should try. She longed to talk about it with someone. Geoffrey, deep in a dream adventure, was breathing heavily next to her, smelling strongly of his cologne, Makizmo.

Yes, and that scent had to go. It had been Vincent’s cologne too. Very musky and sweet. The smell of it upset Deborah, and even Deb’s strange friend Leep noticed it.

Beth had a little gift for Geoffrey on the night stand. A new cologne. Musky, grassy, citrusy, fresh, and not Makizmo. It was called Conquer.

A new cologne. Beth knew how foolish it was to set landmarks in relationships, but she set one anyway.

Conquer meant both defeat and victory.

Beth moved even closer, and Geoffrey, in his peace and comfort, started to quietly snore.


  • Original Prompt: Conquer, March 19, 2017 

Of Course

Prompt: Memory


Hello Wednesday,

Here’s a random memory:

When I was backpacking in Europe, my travel companion and I borrowed/ leased a really terrible car (a lemon of a VW Beetle) for the latter part of our journey. While in Greece, we had to surrender the thing to a garage for some necessary repairs, and this set us back financially. We arranged to have some money sent to Zurich, and to reach the city economically we took on two paying passengers, Richard and Brian.

The car was mechanically sound by now, but a wreck nonetheless. The driver’s side door had been struck by a motorcyclist and could no longer be opened. The driver’s seat had come off its rails so needed a person in the rear seat to brace their knees against it for stability so the driver wouldn’t be flung backward. The passenger side door wouldn’t securely close, so once we were all seated inside it was tied shut by a length of twine. The gas gauge and reserve tank did not function and we were constantly running out of gas in the middle of nowhere (once in the country on the opening day of hunting season– scary). The heater was constantly blasting, and the windshield wipers didn’t work at all.

Brian lasted as far as Rome, where he bolted in horror never to be seen again. Richard persisted. He was a sentimental, horny fellow from Rhode Island, USA, who once, at our request, drew a map of Canada that looked like a pizza. He was a bit of a health nut, and kept a biscuit tin of vitamins and supplements, plus aspirin and other OTC remedies that he had simply emptied out of their bottles into the tin. It was a colourful if daunting melange of meds of different sizes and shapes, but Richard could confidently identify each one.

This was fine until we reached the Swiss border. We were selected, perhaps because of our rather scruffy appearance, to have our luggage searched. They also took apart the poor beleaguered VW Beetle. And of course they found Richard’s stash of unlabelled pills.

The put the car back together (without fixing anything, alas) and cheerfully told my friend and I we could carry on, but Richard and his biscuit tin were suspect and he would be detained at least overnight. Richard was aghast and panicked. “Wait for me,” he pleaded as he was marched away, perhaps fearing he would rot away in a foreign jail cell without anyone ever knowing. “Of course!” we called out to him.

We spent a comfortable night at the border town on the Swiss side and in the morning packed up the car, excited to be so close to our destination. We weren’t sure where Richard was, and in any case, much to my eternal shame, we didn’t really care. I suppose we were naively optimistic about his fate as well as hungry (close to literally) for the cash that awaited us in Zurich. So we got in the car and drove around the town, looking for the directional sign to get us on the road to Zurich.

Purely by accident we came across Richard meandering down a sidewalk with his backpack. He waved ecstatically and climbed in with great relief. “I knew you wouldn’t desert me,” he said in gratitude.

“Of course not!” we said.

May I now present a few of my favourite cartoons relating to the prompt, memory, the first of which I don’t totally understand?

cartoon memory refresh

cartoon bad memory

cartoon watering can


Happy memories!

~~FP

Someone [Repost]

Prompt: Forest

jaguar_e_type_from_1961-rdd88dfd1b4934185aacee1d2d2d695f2_v9wxo_8byvr_700

Plato and I were driving across country. We had nothing else to do, really. Surprisingly, in a world devoid of life everything pretty much worked still. Electric generators still generated electricity, the Internet was still there— I don’t know how, but it was— and gas pumps still pumped gas. Since my dog Plato and I could do what we pleased, I was behind the wheel of a 1961 E-Type Jaguar convertible, red in colour, speeding down the highway in the direction of a mall I remembered visiting with my now-gone family back when we visited the Grand Canyon.

I remembered the town because we were stuck there for about four and a half hours, as we waited in the heat of mid-day for some kind of car part to be couriered. A fuel pump, maybe. In any case we were side-tracked and explored the town as a pack: My mother and father, my two sisters, and me.

There was a water slide near a huge indoor mall. It was one of the biggest malls in the state. It stood on the edge of a forest— a dense, wild, rather dark expanse of land that I remembered because it was such a contrast to all the concrete and glass, the street lamps and oil stains, the harsh sunlight and noise of the town.

My sister Katy had wanted to go hiking in the woods— she was always trying to be contrary— but we all ended up swooshing down the water slide, which was fun because the water was cold, and then going to the mall for hot dogs and Orange Julius, in our damp clothes and wet hair, smelling of chlorine.

That day, in that small town, remains one of my most treasured memories. We all of us were together, truly together, for one of the last times. In the next year my oldest sister Cher would be going away to college, and Katy, bless her, would get pregnant and married and moved out at the age of sixteen. You just never knew what was going to happen.

As Plato and I well knew, since we’d witnessed the end of the world. We tried to look on the bright side: We were going almost 100 miles an hour in a vintage Jag, and Plato loved the rush of air and I put goggles over his eyes and his ears flapped around his head and his tongue was glued by the wind to his jowls. Happy days. Maybe this would be a memory, too.

We camped in the woods behind the mall, in a tent we got from a huge sporting goods outlet in the mall. I made a bonfire, which I learned to do in Boy Scouts, and Plato and I roasted hot dogs and drank gallons of Orange Julius. I told Plato about my sisters, and he listened with his head tilted, as he always did, and just as we were about to crawl into the tent, Plato leapt up and started to bark.

He made a whimpering noise too, and growled some, and then barked again. He didn’t move, as he was well-trained, but he looked at me, barked, whined, and then howled, staring out into the darkness of the forest that surrounded us.

Yes, a shadow moved. It wasn’t the wind, as there was none. It was someone.

Someone!

 


Buried Treasure

Prompt: Success


Dear Wednesday,

A funny thing happened on my way to a deep depression.

I got away from my life for a few days simply by being a tourist in a big city for a change— walking, shopping, sight-seeing, eating, drinking, playing, getting up early, falling into bed exhausted, and forgetting I am meant to be completely miserable.

Instead of dragging myself around in a state of constant fatigue, I had energy and enthusiasm. These were like strange, quirky friends who had dropped off the radar but whose sudden reappearance made me realize how much I’d missed— and needed— them.

I found comfort in the things I do, my reactions to them, the people around me and how my words and actions could affect them for the better; I realized I am not wholly terrible and hopeless but just may have something inside me that is worthwhile and that I can share. And, importantly, that there are emotional crutches and destructive self-medications that need to be eliminated from my life.

So I’m a little busy at the moment, getting rid of the “piles” in my life, both physical and metaphorical— those heaps of things that I’ve neglected for so long.

It helps that spring is here, with all the scents of hope and renewal that it brings.

Recently I came across an old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon (they are all old now, since creator Bill Watterson retired the strip in 1995) and thought it might be fun to share some of Calvin’s life philosophy, a capsulated guide to success…

cartoon calvin ta da

cartoon calvin fort

cartoon calvin treasure

Peace and love,

~~FP