He tugged on my sleeve, a tiny urchin who couldn’t have been more than four, and deep, soulful brown eyes locked with mine as he motioned behind me to a balloon bobbing against the ceiling. Smiling, I stretched my hand to the bright ribbon trailing down through the air and tugged it down to his chubby fingers. With a giggle he was off, running happily down the hall with the red balloon sailing behind him.
The noise in my head
Has grown quiet
Biding its time
Until midnight awakens
The dark embers within
Savannah turned the corner from her bedroom and entered the kitchen, fastening the gold hoop earring on her lobe and fluffing out her long auburn hair. A steaming bowl of rich gumbo, thickened with a distinctive sassafras filé, sat on the counter, no doubt left by her Maw Maw who always left something for supper before she went to Mass on Saturday. Luckily, Savannah was alone to eat, able to avoid the awkward conversation that frequently arose at mealtime about the fact she was still single at the age of thirty. An unprecedented occurrence in her family which caused a controversy that was brought up at every opportunity, including family dinners on Saturday with all her aunts, uncles and cousins chiming in with their respective opinions. Sometimes a large family was a disadvantage.
It’s a fact that flowers smell sweeter after a soft spring rain and puppies are more cuddly after a hard break-up and the sound of his voice saying “Good-bye” will echo in my heart forever.
Her life was messy in a complicated Thursday night sitcom sort of way. Although her apartment wasn’t quite as nice, and she didn’t have nearly as much free time. Still, sometimes she could laugh, and other times she only wanted to cry. There were nights, lying alone in bed when she desperately waited for the director to yell “Cut.” But it never came. So, she woke, and dressed, and went about her day, half fantasy and half reality. Living in her messy, complicated, Thursday night sitcom life.
The forlorn foghorn rang out in the dense night air, as if calling for her lost love, to bring him safely home.
He bent down and kissed her forehead and a wave of emotion surged through her. Flashing a winsome smile, he disappeared through the doorway, waving goodbye. “I’ll see you tonight, sweetheart.”
It would be the last time she would see his smile.
She sat in her favorite cozy overstuffed chair, flames of orange danced in the fireplace and cast a warm glow in the darkening room. A half-drunk cup of Earl Grey tea kept her hands company in her lap as her mind played over memories of the last ten years with him. The smile on her face changed from timid to beaming to amused to sad as she relived every moment, every adventure, every heartbreak to the last good-bye. When she was finished, she tucked them all away for the night, like a mother bundling her precious babies. She was certain would take them out again. On another cold and lonely night, in front of a comforting and warm fire, until she was over him.
I confess my love in silence
Words of adoration offered as a prayer
You, unwilling victim
Never knowing my heart’s desire
Driving through the country roads towards the small town where I lived, in the last evening light, my mind was ticking off the items on my to-do list when an old but familiar voice softly crooned on the radio. Jolted from my thoughts, I reached for the dial and turned the sound up, fingertips lingering on the knob while a wistful smile crossed my face. “Do you hear what I hear? Ringing through the sky shepherd boy.” My cowboy was singing, not just for me but for everyone.
The setting sun was glistening off the lightly falling snow and the meadow in front of me looked perfectly arranged for a winter wedding; late blooms of color peeking out of the new snow, circles of evergreen giving promise of new life, and the fresh, white snow signaling a brand-new start. A sob formed in my chest and unexpected tears slipped down my cheeks, I quickly brushed them away as if it could ease the sudden ache that had formed in the center of my heart, the place where he began and ended.
I was sadly proud of him. In the years that we had spent apart, he had made a name for himself and shared his beautiful gift of song with the world. It was what he dreamed about and that made it my dream too. I hadn’t known then what I would be giving up now. But isn’t that the way the world goes? It was subtle, a week away, then two, a month here and there. Not unlike his life before only different. Too late we realized how much had changed and then, you really can never go back.
My thoughts returned to the deep whiskey melody filling my car. Maybe it was fate, hearing him on the radio, singing my favorite Christmas song after all these years. Maybe he hadn’t even remembered it was my favorite song. Either way, our life together had not worked out. But I found happiness anyway. I hoped with all my heart that he had too. And, I would always cherish my memories of him, my sweet cowboy.
It’s easy to write every day. You simply write something. Every day. But to write something good, that’s a bit more challenging. And often what keeps writers from writing. Every day. It’s not enough to speak for the sake of speaking. Words should provoke thought, emotion, feeling. Words without meaning are merely noise. A meager offering to a starving crowd.
To write every day requires words yes, but also something to say. Please forgive my silence.
He sat on a stool in the center of the smoky stage, soft lights focused on his face, his hands, his guitar. The sleeves of his worn plaid shirt were rolled up, revealing his tanned forearms, strong hands with calloused fingers gently strumming a beautiful melody. His chestnut hair was longer now, falling in soft layers that framed his face, then curling into waves at the nape. His eyes were closed, fringed with long, dark lashes. Rough stubble darkened his face, giving him a disheveled, sexy appeal. As he sang, his lips formed that familiar heart shape when they pursed together, and unleashed a deep croon when they came apart. The effect was altogether sensual.
I sat motionless on my bar stool, not daring to move – not wanting to leave this moment. He sang for me. In his deep whiskey siren song, I heard the pleas of his heart and the promises from his soul. I succumbed to the overwhelming emotions coursing through me and tasted the salty relief that slid down my cheeks. As he asked, my heart had listened and his song had moved me to tears. For so long I had questioned his intentions and his motivations. Life had beaten him down, broken his spirit. I wondered if the past would always haunt him. While he wandered and chased his dream, I hoped that he would realize his dream was waiting for him to come home.
That night my cowboy sang his song for me. His words touched my soul. And I finally saw forever in his eyes.
The Cowboy Series
We deny our feelings as if we could avoid the pain of loss and the misery of a broken heart simply by our silent assent.
I walked into the smoky room and scanned the crowd, settling my sight on a figure standing at the bar. His snug denim jeans and worn plaid shirt only highlighted his muscular, athletic frame underneath. If I didn’t know him I might have mistaken him for a player on the local minor league baseball team. But this man’s talents were in the deep whiskey croon of his voice and the sweet melodies that sprang from his guitar. Walking up behind him, I snaked my arm around his thick waist and pressed my head against his back.
He turned and pulled me into his arms, tipping my head up and stealing a kiss. “Hello darlin’. You’re just in time.” A bright spotlight lit the stage and the host walked out to warm the crowd up. He bent his head down, kissing me again. “Sit here, it’s the best view in the house.” He nodded to the bartender. “Brian, take care of my girl.” I watched him walk backstage and sighed. He had a new song tonight – I’d not yet heard it – and my stomach fluttered in anticipation. He would only say it was a love song and I should listen with my heart. Soon I heard his name being called out and, as he walked on stage, a smile crossed my lips. My heart was listening.
Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting Friday Fictioneers.
PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bulltot
“Mama, that doesn’t look like happy ever after.”
Ella’s deflated voice was another bitter reminder of our disastrous vacation. My precocious daughter had been so excited to see a real castle. I should have known better. How could a six-year old see past her Disney-colored glasses at the beauty of this twelfth century wonder? I looked up in awe and imagined an idyllic Camelot, my own unachievable idea of happily ever after.
Time for a change.
I knelt next to her and pressed my hand to her heart. “Sweetie, happily ever after isn’t in a castle. It’s in here.”
His suitcase lay on the bed, clothes thrown in haphazardly. I sat perched on the edge of the mattress, fidgeting with the pillows. Hugging his to my chest, I softly inhaled and savored his soapy smell. I peered up at him and memorized his face so I could pull it from my mind later, when I was alone and sad and looking for comfort.
Bright cornflower blue eyes with soft lines at the corners that crinkled when he smiled. Plump, pink lips that easily curved into the shape of a heart. Chestnut brown hair, short and spiky on top and curling into longer waves at the nape. I closed my eyes and imagined that face hovering near mine, hearing his deep, whiskey voice whisper my name just before his lips claimed mine. A single tear slid down my cheek and I quickly brushed it away before he noticed.
Finally, bags packed, it was time to say good-bye. “I’ll always love you.” I said. He only nodded and my heart broke into a million pieces all over again.
A poem doesn’t have to rhyme
To take your breath away
It doesn’t have to be complete
To break your heart
Omit a line, misspell a word
You can still touch a soul
It’s a secret I keep, nobody knows, but he still inhabits a tiny corner of my heart.
Tears laced with betrayal leaked from my eyes
My shattered heart oozed crimson regret
My soul was consumed with fiery flames of jealous rage
The broken bonds of love lay scattered in the ruins.
I climbed onto the ferry boat in the early morning hours, before the sun had a chance to peek through the clouds hanging low on the eastern horizon. I felt the ship lurch beneath my feet. The boat felt as unsteady as my nerves. I was leaving him for good this time. I’d been here before, heart shattered and faith destroyed. It was the last time I would let him make me feel this way. I let the cool ocean breeze wash over me as I left my broken life behind me. Beams of sunlight finally broke through the clouds and warmed my face, signaling a bright new beginning.
His toothbrush is still sitting in the cup next to mine. It’s the last thing, the only thing I have left of him. It’s a silly thing to hold onto, a piece of plastic. Still I can’t bear to throw it away. It gives me a strange sort of comfort seeing it sitting next to mine in the cup on the vanity in the bathroom we used to share.
Bury my heart in a shallow grave.
Water the flowers with my tears.
My soul at rest, I no longer crave
The promise of our eternal years.
Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting Friday Fictioneers.
PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll
Her backpack and duffel bag sat at her feet as she slouched in the seat. She had been staring at the pay phone for hours.
She had gone through every emotion – anger, frustration, fear, hurt, rage, and confusion, now back to fear.
She stood and quickly closed the distance between her and the phone.
“I’d like to make a collect call.”
She waited what seemed an eternity to hear the familiar voice answer.
“Mom?” Her frightened voice was a whisper.
“Lindsay, I’ve been worried sick. Are you okay?”
“I’m at the bus station. Will you come get me?”
I kept my love for you hidden.
Silently I watched you.
Secretly I ached for you.
Alone I still wait.
The latch on the garden gate is rusted shut. Years of neglect seen in the overgrown plants and tangled vines. A fountain in the center of the garden, once bubbling with life, is now eerily still in the stale autumn air.
lollipop dreams danced in her memory
visions once so vivid now forgotten
a faraway twinkle in her eyes
every now and again when she smiled
the only reminder of days long ago
made of fairy tales and shooting stars
“I’m home.” I hear his voice and excitedly drop the pot I was washing back into the sudsy water. I turn the corner from the kitchen into the living room and my heart skips a beat. He’s been gone for six months and seeing him now – cornflower blue eyes, spiky hair, heart-shaped lips – I realize how much I’ve missed him. He drops his guitar and duffel bag on the floor and shrugs off his jacket. I run to him and bury my face in his neck, savoring the smell of soap and sweat. Our bodies fuse together as if they’re tailor made for each other. For months I’ve been bumbling along, stringing hours into days and days into weeks.
He kisses the top of my head and I sigh into his chest. I’m whole again.
Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting Friday Fictioneers! If you’d like to participate, you can find more information here.
PHOTO PROMPT © Claire Sheldon
She was six years old sitting on his knee while he balanced the checkbook.
She smiled, the sudden recollection warming her. It felt as if it was yesterday, but nearly fifty years had passed.
Now, he was in a different kind of home and she sat at the same desk and packed up his belongings.
The decision had been painful but necessary. His rapidly declining memory had become an increasing danger.
He had been angry when she moved him, and thrown a tantrum.
She wished she could go back to being the child in their relationship.
I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and take flight. My mind a willing partner with my heart as I sail through the air, escaping the stifling loneliness of my invisible prison walls. Up here freedom flows through me, lifting me ever higher. My heart dances and my mind finds peace. I am at once unchained.
A noise outside the window jars me from my reverie. A hitch in my breath and I fall back to earth, settling again into my dreary routine. Forlorn eyes reflect the hollow soul within me. I await my next flight.
She could count her friends on . . . well, she didn’t even need fingers. She was certain the people she knew LIKED her, but the late-night phone call on a Saturday night friend? That she didn’t have.
Do you really wonder why people leap to their deaths? It’s because in a world of 8 billion people, they can’t make a real connection to a single soul. And it’s not their fault. And it’s not your fault either. Not really. On this supercharged, high-pressure, success-driven, always plugged-in highway, some people never quite master the rules of the road – mere passengers in life. And, in their quest for the best, the ones in the fast lane drive right on by without a glance in their rear-view mirror. Each passenger on his own path, each driver worried about her own destination. Neither giving a thought to the basic and indispensable humanity underneath it all.
So, she sits alone every Saturday night. She stopped listening for the phone to ring a long time ago. And she always knows the location of the nearest bridge. It gives her a strange sort of comfort.