Watermelon Mallow

Watermelon Mallow

Watermelon Mallow© Lex Leonard, collage done in PicMonkey

 

 

The coal train meandered by.

Wheels clicked. 

Locking her eyes on the rail she could see an occasional spark. 

It was hot.

Mallow grew alongside the route. Yellow orbs too delicate to be there opening their souls to the sun. Yet, there they were.

She leaned back against the tree that also somehow survived surrounded by dry brittle grass and weeds. Curling ends beggared of water from the last spring rain.

The train continued on.

Closing her eyes to barely a squint she was able to merge the spinning wheels until it looked as if the train was floating on some kind of magic heat rising above its rails, making it stand still. All that iron and power just floating motionless.

In each window was a face looking at her, just staring as if they had something to tell her. A wistful look. A veneer of gloom. There was fear. Anger. Each mask holding their story that somehow was hers now.

The alarm on her phone buzzed. 

The end of the train passed and she watched the last face, gentle and perfectly framed in the back window, fade away.

The walk back to the abandoned house was through the old fields that once held crops to feed hungry bellies. About an hour’s walk from the tree would find her feet planted on the porch. The paint, if there ever was any, was long faded away. Only an ashen grey lingered.

This was all hers now. The house. The land of anecdotal crops. 

The railroad held the only easement between her and the next homestead, also abandoned.

She didn’t want it. 

She was of water and ocean and floating. She was of horizon that met sky where sun and moon each in their own time would rise and fall. She was of sea wind that carried story.

She was not of this place. Or at least she didn’t think so.

The man at the gas station had given her a watermelon. She had no idea why or where he had gotten it. But she was glad it was waiting for her on the table. 

The inside of the house was decorated with spider webs, dust, and time. 

The table wobbled but she was sure it wasn’t from neglect. It had been made that way. She propped it up with a flat stone she found near the fireplace. She traced her finger around a small indentation. It was a perfect fit. 

She was hungry and tired. And thirsty. 

There was only one way into that globe of pleasure. On the ledge under the once glazed window that looked out to the railroad tracks was another stone. It was slightly larger than her hand with a carved point on one edge. It had to have been carefully chipped and formed for its purpose. There was a swirl with a line that would sit next to her palm. This, too, was intentional.

Raising the rock above her head and holding it with both hands, she brought it down with all her might into the center of the watermelon. 

It cracked……

The sidewalk. The burning asphalt. The push. The crash. The blood spatter across her jacket. There were screams and everything blurred, sounds, people, hands pulling her back in slow motion like the wheels of the train. Only she was the motionless object, floating above him. 

Or rather, what was left of him…

 

. . . . .

 

Author’s Note:

It is always sacred time when our writing group meets. There were nine of us today at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Our warmup write morphed from a practice I learned in a class at the Denver Lighthouse Writers Workshop.

We each started with a small blank piece of paper. We were to write one quick sentence on it describing something we experienced that morning. The trick is not to think too much. Not to try to be cleaver or descriptive. Just write. We passed the paper to our right and wrote one word that came to us about the gardens. Passed again – one verb. Passed again – another word. Passed a last time – an emotion. As we gathered our drinks and settled, we could chose which prompt paper we wanted to write from. It is our rule that you may use a prompt or not. Let it inspire you. Or not. I took the one that was left:

They waited as the coal train meandered sleepily through the crossing.

mallow     locking     watermelon     wistful

Thank you, dear friends. You are AMAZING!

The Woods

The Woods

The Woods, image by Lex

She had perfect feet. Not too big. Not too small that she would totter. Her toes were long, long enough to grasp her pencil when it rolled off the table to escape as she set it down to take a sip of coffee. The kitchen table tilted ever so slightly missing one pad underneath one leg. That made just enough difference for her toes to be engaged in the process of writing her daily laundry list.

The first thing on her list called for a bus ride. This was easier said than done.

She lived past the far edge of town. Not all the way to the woods, but almost. She always wanted to live in the woods. She asked her mom if they could and her mom always answered no. It wasn’t an angry no. Just a simple no to end the discussion.

But what if mom said YES?

Many a night she would lay out near the edge of the woods looking up at the sky drawing pictures in her mind of what it would be like living the woods. Gossamer clouds erased each adventure to create a blank slate for new ones to be imagined.

But that was long ago and wasn’t for right now.

She was older now, much older, and she was so far from anywhere that she would have to take a bus to catch the bus to get to her appointment.

Now she carried a responsibility bigger than she was. She knew she had to be on time, if not early. She had to be ready.

She counted her coins to be certain there were enough for a round trip just in case there was no one to bring her home. She was wrapped in her warm scarf and coat, held an umbrella in case it did rain as was promised, packed an apple to eat on the second bus, and slipped her perfect feet into her perfect comfortable shoes.

The box was prepared earlier in the day. She didn’t want to forget anything. And even though the box held all she needed for the meeting, it seemed weightless. When something is important – no vital – it could almost float by itself. Which she was sure it did at times, but she never told anyone of this.

“Alright, then!”

She said to no one in particular, but to anyone who happened to be listening.

“I think I’m ready.”

She listened for an objection. None was had. All was magnanimous. She was ready and that was that.

She arrived at the exact second the first bus did and was promptly whisked away.

Maybe it was the wind coming through the crack of open window where she sat in the last seat of the bus, but she thought she heard a great sigh of someone or something bidding her a farewell.

She smiled.

She, too, loved her house near the woods and felt a bit of a loss each time she left to town. But she was needed this eve along with the all the other wise ones. It was her time to be there.

And she could hear her mother’s words that were the words she heard from her mother who heard them from her mother and so on and so on and so on…

What the elders see sitting, others can’t see while standing on their toes.

Author’s Note:

Our lovely Afternoon Writers met this past Tuesday. We missed a few dear friends this month. Much love and many hugs to them.

We now each bring a sentence and a word as our prompts. We choose how we use them, or even not use them at all. We write for a half an hour. Then we share. What a wonderful time of community we have here listening to each others voices come through words that enchant and humor us and bring a tear.

I am gathering small shots of place and character and events to work into a larger piece of work. I love this process. Someday…
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Here are our prompts for the afternoon. Joins us! We would love to read what you wrote.

What the elders see sitting, others can’t see while standing on their toes.

The town of Gros Ventre was so far from anywhere that you had to take a bus to catch the bus. I carried a responsibility bigger than I was. From Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig

They arrive over the wise distances on perfect feet. From If Women Rose Rooted by Sharon Blackie

What if mom said, “Yes?”

Gossamer
Escape
Magnanimous
Weightless