A Guilt Trip to the Beach

The guilt was too much to bear, she’d said, just before heading off across the hardened sand, splashing her feet through the sloshing tide without a word to us, without ever looking back. She’d said it to our aunt while shaking her head, making it obvious that she’d never believe otherwise.

Aunt Deidre stood as if to go after her, then glanced back at us in resignation. I watched the big sigh escape her chest, saw her bite her lip as lines creased between her eyes. I wanted to ask what my mom meant; I wanted to know what guilt was. But I never got the chance to find out.

“Come on, Jeremy. Let me help you work on that sand castle.”

I stared out at my sister who’d already abandoned our project, now searching for some unnamed, yet to be claimed object beneath the water’s glistening surface. She teetered back and forth on a loose rock, singing some silly girl song. I’d considered joining her over there before that.

“Um, okay,” I shrugged. I didn’t notice later whenever the breeze rose as the sun began to set. I only noticed the swirling sand that blew up into my face from it. Other than losing its top layer, our castle was looking pretty impressive – especially since it’d been constructed via exchange of very few words and with my aunt obviously distracted, periodically glimpsing down the beach.

“Where’s Mom?” Cindy finally asked, pulling her spindly legs in beneath her ganglier-looking arms, a pronounced chill traveling down her spine.

Aunt Deidre stood and brushed the loose sand from her legs. “Let’s get up to the condo. She’ll be along shortly.” She tried adding a smile to be more convincing.

If shortly was three days later, then Aunt Deidre was telling the truth. Mom showed up in different clothes than the ones she’d been wearing on the beach. I peeked through the curtain, watching her long uncovered legs swing from a convertible car door. Her shorts looked like they’d lost 4 inches from any we’d ever seen her wearing. I didn’t miss her eyes nervously shifting from beneath her large sunglasses or the scarf covering her head. The man who had given her a ride back to our place from wherever she’d been didn’t look like he cared all that much about saying good-bye. But when Aunt Deidre stepped out on the porch with a phone in one hand, her other hand over the receiver and a frantic look on her face, I noticed Mom get in a big hurry to get back to us all. Cindy and I barely got to say a quick hi to Dad before she hung up from his call.

Mom seemed a lot happier that night than she’d been in a long time, especially when she whispered in a sing-song voice to Aunt Deidre at the dinner table that Dad had been held up at work for another week. What was it with girls and singing, anyway? Whatever it was, Mom’s added wink told me that apparently, whatever guilt was, she’d found a new way to bear it.

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The Speakeasy is getting ready to go on summer vacation.

But before it does, there’s one Final (get it, Final…exam?) challenge to take – #111:

It includes a creative writing assignment prompted by the image included above, along with the 1st line provided by Karen: “The guilt was too much to bear.” Oh, and a 600-word limit.

Come join in the fun by writing, reading, voting…or heck, why not all 3 for extra credit?!

Life After Death

My life began with a funeral. How strange is that? To one day wake up and come to the realization that you’ve stopped living altogether?

How many times for the past year and a half had I come out here? How many times had I walked this shoreline, stood on this dock, my eyes intently searching for something my heart didn’t want them to find? I’d been locked away in that day far too long. Each and every morning since then, I’d gotten up early and stumbled groggily into the kitchen, expecting to find him there, getting himself ready to leave for his big fishing day. I’d squeezed my eyes shut on all occasions, imagining his crooked smile as he passed me a cup of coffee and leaned in to brush back my tangled hair. I’d experienced the brush of his lips on my forehead. I’d heard his voice teasingly refer to me as “sleepy-head” while grabbing his gear and heading toward the door. Then, once more, he’d be gone.

At least three times a week, I’d frantically exit my car, sometimes forgetting my jacket, once my shoes, hands shaking as I’d close the car door and look around. When I’d been sure no one else was listening, I’d call out his name, praying this was all a huge mistake. Just because his boat was overturned, couldn’t he have come up somewhere else, on another bank? Couldn’t he have forgotten who he was if the boat bumped his head? Maybe he’d remember, and…what if I wasn’t here, the last place he recalled being, when he came back? Or what if he remembered where our home was, and then I wasn’t there when he returned? He might think he was mistaken and leave forever.

For these past 18 months, I’d not been confident of where to be…who to be…how to be. Until this past week. When a knock came at my door, my heart skipped three beats. What if it was him? By the time I got the lock undone, I received the news I’d long been waiting to hear. My beloved. He’d come home to me, after all. Except he wasn’t the same. He’d never be the same.

Part of him will remain with me always. Today, I will scatter part of him here, in the place he has been residing throughout my angst. It only seems right. He loved it here. Maybe that’s why he chose to stay so long. I watch as his ashes lift off from the dock, into the breeze, then settle back into his eternal resting place.

“I love you,” I whisper.

“I’ll come again to check on you,” I assure him.

“But not for awhile, I think. Now that I’ve found you, after all my searching, I’ve decided it’s time…time for me to go now – to go and find myself.”

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This week’s Speakeasy prompt is:

The photo you see above +
“My life began with a funeral.”
First line provided by Stephanie,
winner of the speakeasy #109.

***

For those of you holding on tightly to the past,
I would encourage you to go search out a new tomorrow.

Gray sand peas, -jody

Word of Mouth

It surprised me when she started to talk. I thought she’d already learnt her lesson; thought she’d learnt it well. Hadn’t we personally been burnt by others’ hateful remarks about our past? Yet there she was, right in the midst of that nasty little gaggle of busy-bodies who passed gossip around like it was a plate of afters ready to be devoured. The look on her face was what wounded me most – that look of pure satisfaction in herself as those spiteful words leapt from her hissing tongue. I couldn’t help but wonder to whom she was doing the most damage. I wasn’t sure how much was being done to her victim. Yet I was certain there was a great deal being heaped upon her soul. As the poisonous venom dripped off her tongue, the others greedily gobbled it up as if it were a tart, juicy piece of ripe fruit. Come to think of it, maybe it was – just like in the Garden of Eden.

 Tantalizing words that tangle the tongue,

Seduce the brain once the brash deed is done.

Back away!

Flee the wrath!

Their fire flicks the teeth,

meandering wrong paths

as if they have feet.

Oh, turn your head from their creative conception;

Their lustful spice will ruin your perception.

This sweet kiss bestowed will steer you towards death

by the one leaned so near,

who has poison on her breath.

© jody love 2013

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One picture + a 1st line prompt  (provided this week by Maggie, winner of thespeakeasy #108)

+ a little creative thought =

So Who Invented Dad?

“They say necessity is the mother of invention,” quipped my grandmother, grasping onto the jar lid with her rounded piece of rubber. I heard the air let loose from the seal as her small wrinkled hands passed me the mason jar that I’d been prying on for the past hour. Okay, for the past 5 minutes.

Maybe it was more like 20 seconds.

I felt the corners of my mouth twitching back and forth, one to the other. I couldn’t tell if my lips wanted to turn upward towards a smirk or downward to a frown, as it seemed like they were arguing over which would win. I reached out and took the jar, sliding my spoon in to scoop out its desired contents. My mouth watered in anticipation of the sweetness to come. But it still didn’t smother the bitterness.

“The mother of Invention, you say? Necessity, is she?

“So they say,” my grandma shrugged, opening a drawer to replace her magic rubber jar opener.

“Hmm, whatda’ ya’ think they say about Invention’s father?”

She turned and looked at me, suspiciously, the wooden drawer slowly closing behind her. I watched as her eyes traveled into her thoughts. Finally she responded, “Don’t recall that they say anything at all about him.”

We exchanged an uncomfortable glance between us.

“I knew it,” I nodded, licking the leftover honey from my spoon and turning towards the fridge to pull out some milk.

My grandmother sat at the table, sliding into the chair nearest me, still casting an apprehensive look my way. She didn’t seem all that interested in stirring her creamer into her coffee anymore. “Knew what?” Her words were as tense as her lips.

“Nobody minds bringing up Invention’s mom, do they? But they skirt around the issue of mentioning who his dad is…”

“You can stop right there with those thoughts, mister…”

“Invention, clearly then, must be a bastar…”

My old grandma had cleared the corner of the kitchen table and opened my bottom lip about as efficiently as she had that jar. Only, this time, she hadn’t even needed her piece of rubber.

She turned her head away from me, throwing her hand over her face. It didn’t matter. I still heard a gasp of air escaping from the seal of her heart. When she turned back around, she reached to straighten the worn, red and white checkered tablecloth.

I licked the red spot from my lip, then wiped what was left of my milky mustache, all before she could get a washrag to doctor me. Pulling in my tongue, I hung my head and murmured the final sound, “D.”

That was the last time I ever brought him up again.

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Time to dig around in the pantry this week & come up with a story for the Speakeasy!

The first line this week was supplied by Rara, winner of speakeasy #107: “They say necessity is the mother of invention.”

That line + a jar of…whatevers (the included photo prompt) will get you access to today’s story.

That of Which Sea Legends are Made

She traded it all for a silver kiss, the kind that legends claim arise from the bed of the sea, no less than once every century or so – and never at any other time than on a midsummer’s night under the iridescent glow of a cobalt moon as it crests the harbor’s horizon. She didn’t know all this, though, and hadn’t planned on being there for that reason at all.

She’d sat there awhile, listening to the water lapping at the rocky ledge, dreaming of her younger years when she’d played along the shoreline. The cries she’d heard thereafter were no longer the gulls that had once accompanied her from overhead. Rather, they were the resonating remnants of innocence lost…dreams forsaken…hopes drowned…love scorned.

When she’d arrived home early, she’d delighted in the idea of surprising him. The thought of sneaking up from the sandy side of their beach cottage a day earlier than he’d expected her, of slipping through the laundry door that he always forgot to latch after walking along the sea banks, of sliding her evening-cooled hands around his warm torso from behind – these had made her fantasy as rich as the day they’d first found this abandoned shack and worked together to transform it into their personal paradise. Then and there, they had determined they would forever bask in the warmth of its sun and bathe in the glow of its moonlight.

She couldn’t wait to recapture that magic.

The horror of what she’d instead encountered had been too much to take – most especially since he hadn’t bothered coming to search her out, to even try to provide some lame excuse that might persuade her to reconsider.

Entering the depths became easy after that. Too easy. Answering the siren’s call had been peaceful, like the faded cry of the gulls, her final sobs of resignation. As the last breath of air escaped her, being swept up in the tide and carried away by a son of Neptune to some distant shore had surely not been a viable expectation.

Okay, so perhaps she wasn’t actually enraptured by any legendary god-like merman from the ocean’s floor. And, quite possibly, the shore down the coastline wasn’t really all that distant, after all. But the captain of the fishing vessel, The Silver Triton, who had stayed out later than he’d intended that evening, surely got himself a better catch than he’d ever expected when he spotted and rescued her from the depths of despair on that mystically moonlit night.

Sweet dreams, -jody

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Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
NaPoWriMo is Over
Whatever Will I Do?

Oh, I’ve got it! I’ll stop in & drop off a little story at the Speakeasy, sans rhymes! Maybe you’ll find it to still have a little poetic justice attached.

If you’re not familiar with the Speakeasy, it comes with a picture prompt and a first line prompt (from the prior week’s winner). You can see the picture above and I’ll bet you can even guess the 1st line! “She traded it all for a silver kiss.” (by Megan, winner of thespeakeasy #106)

The rest is up to the writer’s imagination! Feel free to come join us with your own silver-tongued imaginative version in 600 words or less. 🙂  -jody

Mucking Up the Fall

He dug himself a hole in the ground.
Twasn’t no sandy dirt neither.
You’d think once he’d gotten far enough down,
he’d have stopped to take a good breather.

Heavens no!

In his mind, he was moving further upward,
traveling e’er higher and higher.
So hooten falutin and hoity toity,
he ne’er took notice he’d sunk in the mire.

I’ll say!

Dig himself out? No, he never would;
for he’d long lost that betting chance.
Before he climbed to the top to exchange
his (m)eager life for one last glance.

Dear Lord!

He looked down on that concrete block,
then decided he’d changed his mind.
But before he could turn to step away,
he was caught by the northern wind…

Er, I mean…his last stride was unrefined.

So what?

The lesson to this story, you inquire?
Besides taking care not to misstep?
If you’re going to write your words in rhyme,
best be sure to properly prep…

Regardless of the tough schlep…

Oh my!

Lest, as a poet, you risk your good rep.

© 2013 jody love

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Speakeasy #106 is on – and I’m down to my final week of NaPoWriMo – so this might be my last poem submission here for awhile. Maybe…maybe not. We’re back to a starting sentence prompt (as opposed to anywhere in the post), so I’m betting you’re “purty smart” and can figure this one out without me giving a hint. The 2nd prompt is the picture that’s been supplied. The limit is 600 words max, but I felt like I was on Wheel of Fortune this week without having to buy any vowels – I still have plenty of those to spare. I bought expletives this week instead. 😉

By ‘n by Birdie (a bird-brained ditty for the Speakeasy)

Birdie Little, highest town flyer,
always demanded the best.
If not out gathering the juiciest worms,
she was building the finest nest.

When rumors took flight
all the other birds would say,
she wasn’t about to let anything
get in her way.

Oh-ho! Then Junior Redbreast
came gliding into town,
strutting his cocky ‘birds n’ bees’ stuff,
parading all around.

He had all foul beaks chirping,
all fancy feathers fluffed –
the chicks began ‘cheaping,’
flocked to call Junior’s bluff.

But hawk eyes for Birdie
were all Junior had;
he knew he wanted Birdie,
wanted her worse than real bad.

Birdie just wanted to flip up her wing
at her dreadful one traffic-light town;
she had bigger dreams of singing Freebird –
not settling for some bird-brained clown.

Junior preened and he courted, overtime,
to romance her with his dance;
then, early one day, hiding out in the bush,
Birdie cooed and he took his chance.

These days, Birdie seems to have forgotten
her birds-eye view of a distant shore
as she perches, awaiting Junior’s return
atop these freckled four.

We shan’t call a swan song for Birdie, though;
she’s putting back nest eggs.
For after Junior’s flown the coop,
she plans to spread her wings – living high on crab legs.

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Time for the #105 speakeasy’s fiction slam & poetry jam this week!

Here are the main points to remember for this one:

  • Use the photo prompt (included above).
  • Use the theme sentence anywhere within the entry (provided by speakeasy #104 winner Natalie DeYoung):  ”She wasn’t about to let anything get in her way.”
  • Focus on the Future as part of the theme.
  • Keep it fiction (even if poetry) & limit it to a 500 word count max.
  • Oh, and go to the link & check out the other entries – and feel free to add one of your own!