Friday, January 25, 2013

WNP: Gardener's Bounty

prompt:  "The backyard gardener stopped as his shovel hit something solid."

Thunk. The sound shocked him as much as the sudden jolt of reverberation firing up through his arms like a thrum of electricity.

Shaking out his right hand, he pulled the shovel out of the hole he had been digging and tossed it to the ground off to the side. Peering down he tried to see what might have caused the problem. Unfortunately the chestnut tree was casting rather a long shadow over it in the early morning light. Carl looked at his watch in frustration, then dropped to his knees to get a better look.  The evening primrose bush he was attempting to transplant from his sister's old house to her new one sat calmly behind him, its root ball wrapped in thick burlap.  He saw something rather large on the left side of the small hole where he had just been trying to widen it.  Just his luck. A big rock to try to dig out before he had to leave for a work meeting.

He pulled the well worn leather glove off his right hand and fished in his pocket for his cell phone.  A moment later he had his sister on the line.

"Natalie, there's a rock."

"You can't get it out easily?"


 A heavy sigh from too many late nights and too much unpacking carried over the line to him.  "Alright, I'm coming out."

Soon the patio door slid open behind him and Natalie came out to join him. His niece Ainsley, all pig tails and sleepy eyes, trailing after her in her fluffy bunny slippers.

"Can I just move the bush to the right a foot?" He had a bad feeling that was too simple a solution.  Natalie could be very... decided.

"Absolutely not.  It'll through off the whole balance. Let's have a look at this rock." Somehow Carl managed to keep from rolling his eyes.

After four minutes of contemplation the three had decided that it might not in fact be a rock but the dented corner of a tool box. Natalie went and got her trowel to start digging away at the sides of the hole, and Carl started digging down from a little further out. Ainsley curled up on the ground next to them as she had been ordered out of the way, sitting Indian style with her fluffy slippers set carefully off to the side. Her sleepy eyes had been replaced with bright ones and cheeky over energetic grin as she practically bounced in place. 

After about twenty minutes they finally worked it out of the ground.  To the top of it, sealed in plastic, a letter had been taped that read through the smudges of dirt simply "To the Finder".

"Maybe we should wash our hands before we open it?" It was agreed, and the trouped back indoors, Carl carrying the case (after having brushed it off as much as possible) and Ainsley her slippers.  They walked through to the laundry sink and then carefully washed their hands.  Natalie found a letter opener to slice the plastic and fish it out. The envelope was remarkably pristine for having been hiding out in the ground for a long enough amount of time for the grass to have settled in over its head.
Inside was a small white slip of paper covered with a few short lines of spidery handwriting to match that written on the front of the letter.

Dear Finder,

I am going to hope that you are a gardener and not someone building a pool.  Inside are all the heirloom seeds my husband collected from his gardening over the years.  He is gone now, and I am moving where they can't be of use to me.  All those years of collecting, I just couldn't quite throw them out. Hopefully you will find these helpful in your new gardening adventures.

Ann Carter

 Carl opened the box, and inside were hundreds of little labelled envelopes.  "Guess you'll be needing me a little more regularly as a gardener, eh, sis?" She grinned at him, then started flipping through envelopes, dreaming of late summer bounty.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Memory Beyond Memory

(from a photo writing prompt of my friend Copper)

As she watched, the old photograph began to pulse and hum as though slowly coming to life. A breath more and she found herself standing behind the dusty counter of an old style general store.  The man from the photo seeming to grow larger, to draw nearer.

A gust of wind passed in and through, scattering the layers of time, flooding the world's sepia tones with color.  A moment later she stood there face to face with her great grandfather. Up close she could see the twinkle in his eye, the quiet quirk to the corner of his lips, as though he had heard a good joke just outside the front door from a passing neighbor and still carried the quiet laughter rumbling in his chest.

Friday, January 18, 2013

WNP: That Box

(Write Now Prompt - "I pried the lid off the box with a crowbar.")

After a lifetime of wondering what was in That Box, that glorious packing case in the corner of my uncle's living room, I was about to find out what was in it. He who had traveled round the world thrice and then backwards round the world another several times, taking it with him always; it must be filled with all kinds of treasures. Even if it was just small bits of personal treasures- stone and sand and bits of riff-raff from all the places he had been, it would be exciting to myself who had never been anywhere. Suppressing a shiver of excitement as I stood there surrounded by other curious family (Uncle Bory had passed a way a fortnight before and had left me the case in his will), I pried the lid off the box with a crowbar. The box was filled bubble wrap and styrofoam packing.  Giving a grin to the relatives, I began to dig through the layers.  I, we, were not prepared for what I found.

All of his dogs--  a Great Dane, a beagle, and two black labs- commemorated in taxidermy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

WNP: Under the Train Clock

(a Write Now Prompt:  "What do you mean today's not Friday?)

Kory looked at the careful block printing lined up on the tiny square of notebook paper clutched in his hand. His damp shirt hung askew, and his left shoe was untied and trailing a line of mud behind him. A harried swipe to his forehead left his wayward hair standing on end as he huffed in annoyance at his forgetfulness.  The paper, which was creased and smudged with dirty water, didn't look much better. In fact it looked very much as if it had been ripped from someone's pocket spiral and then promptly dropped in a puddle.  (Which it had.) He read it again just to be sure.

Friday. Under the clock. Train Station. 4:00 pm. Or else. Kennedy.

He looked around frantically, then let his eyes settle on the board holding the clock. It had Gate 3 in bold letters across the top of panel.  The clock also read 4:57. Late. So very late.

A quick visual search of the area did not produce a cynical red head tapping her foot and giving him the stink eye.  Where could she have gone? And why had everyone else picked this week to go out of town, forcing him to be the one responsible for picking her up?  Kennedy was going to kill him.  

He had gotten so focused in on his research he'd almost missed the snooze timer going off on his computer planner for the umpteenth time.  He was so close to solving the formula. He could feel it. Not, he admitted to himself with a sigh, that he would have been any less involved in his books and theories if he hadn't been close to a solution.  Thank heavens Kennedy knew him well enough to have set a back up timer on his computer, or he'd have never remembered.  Maybe he could call her.  Scrabbling through his pockets, he searched for his cell phone.  An image of his cell sitting on the shelf above his computer where he had plugged it in to charge earlier this afternoon floated through his mind. He could feel the panic level beginning to rise.

A tug at his sleeve brought his attention to an older Indian gentleman standing in front of him. He blinked once or twice, trying to place the familiar face.  Coffee shop? Bookstore? Post office?  No. Where else did he go?

"Kory Evanston, no?" the man's soft voice repeating itself for the third time brought him back to the present. Train station 4:00...or 4:58. Late.

"Yes.  Have you seen Kennedy?" he blurted, then nearly slapped his own forehead at his stupidity. Of course the man didn't know Kennedy. Fortunately his question was interrupted by quiet laughter as the man handed him a second square of paper torn from his pocket notebook. This one dry and neatly folded. Vaguely he wondered how the man had gotten a piece of paper from his notebook.

As he took the paper, he saw the hooked curve of scar running the length of the man's thumb from a fishing accident. He felt memory clap into place. The owner of the curry shop in the corner where Kennedy had made him go to lunch before she left. Saying, not only was it her favorite shop, but absolute tradition as well. She had made especially sure to introduce him to Mr. Kapoor. That meal had been amazing.

"Yes. Not for a few days though. Not since you were here before.  She left you this though. Thought you might show up early, apparently."

The early part was enough to snag his thoughts back from alternating waves of anxiety over finding Kennedy and memories of the tasty saag paneer he'd enjoyed. "Early? But I'm late."

"It's Thursday." 

It took a minute for the meaning to sink in. Thursday. Not Friday. Quickly he bent his head and unfolded the paper.

Trial run. See you tomorrow, sucker. Kennedy.

 Sure enough. She'd set his timer for a day early.  His whole body went limp with relief and a huge smile cracked his face. He hadn't forgotten her after all. She'd have never let him hear the end of it.

 The man held up the white bag containing a styrofoam take-out box he'd been holding in his other hand. "She also thought you might want dinner."

"Saag paneer?" he asked hopefully as he took the bag.

The man gave him a wink before turning to head back to his curry shop. Kory took his dinner and nearly danced back to his car and his research. He hadn't forgotten Kennedy after all.

It was only as he slid in behind the steering wheel of his Blue Beater (a Kennedy nick), sweet relief still coursing through him like a double shot espresso, that the terrible truth of the matter began to sink in. He was going to have to do this all over again tomorrow. The remembering. The showing up. On time. Evil. His twin was evil. 

The elderly bird-like woman, carefully picking her way across the wet parking lot with her cane and her umbrella, saw him begin hitting his head against the steering wheel and then did her best to pick up her pace and get away as quickly as possible.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Write Now Prompt (WNP): Drought

Prompt was "Four Weeks and the Rains Still Haven't Come"

A veritable Dust Bowl. That's all Sid remembered his father saying before he drove off that last morning. The dark dust billowing up in great gusting clouds behind his red truck as he drove down the farm lane and out toward the highway and then drifting slowly out over the wire fences and deadened grass of the pasture.  He had sat on the front steps cradling his mug of orange juice. Felt the pinch of the boards against the back of his knees, and the rapidly disappearing cool of the stone steps in the early morning sun under his bare feet, already stubbed and dirty from a round of tag with Bertie. Bertie was his shaggy mutt collie, lolling under the maple tree with his tongue hanging out.  Afterwards there were a thousand explanations, bitter recriminations, tears, screams, A lot of hustle and bustle. Of changes he couldn't quite make sense of. But those few words spoken spoken in his father's deep craggy voice as he adjusted his cap and loped down the steps to slide in behind the steering wheel encapsulated his father.  A quiet man of few words, but a lover of words all the same, who always had one eye to the weather and the other to the work that needed doing.


(from writing prompt with my friend Copper.)


I feel, standing here on the flagstones of 2013’s entry gate of January, that this year is like a bridge stretching out before me.

I can see the lines of its guide wires and the  arc of its beginning to stretch up up so high. But most of it is still obscured by the sheets of mist and the curtains of fog blowing in form the bay somewhere off to my right.

On my back I have my rucksack.  It’s pretty bare bones but really all the tolls I’ll need. My black gel pens, my composition notebooks, my eating list ever rotating on its four day schedule. On my feet I have got my hiking boots of time and intention. Somewhere in the fog I hear my friends and family are calling out their thoughts and encouragements, but still it is my bridge to cross. My space to add to with my bricks of words.