Peter

A piece from our Wednesday Writer’s Group.

Peter

It seemed as though he would never find his place where laborers toil. It didn’t matter. He had a purpose. Just because it didn’t involve what others call “real” work, well, that wouldn’t stop Peter.forest.jpg

He had one blue eye, one grey one. He was a glassmaker, but not a good one who could sell in shops and at fairs to make a living. Rather, he made things for a purpose and then gifted them to the ones who were in need.

He made the glass goose for her. It was small and delicate. He didn’t know her yet but he knew it must be a goose and hers was the hand to hold it, hers the neck around which it would hang. She would make herself known when the time was in season.

Until then, he would eventually find and work with Alex washing windows. It had to be something to do with glass. It always was about the glass.

When Peter was young child, maybe six or seven, while walking through a forest having been separated from his family’s picnic, he came across an old beaten-down house. At least that was the voice he heard in his head describing it. It was his father’s voice. His father hated old beaten-down things, maybe because he was. Nonetheless it didn’t stop Peter from investigating the Forest House as he named it.

Peter could climb or run like any animal of the forest. Or fly, yes. Even fly he believed if he was given the opportunity. He was able to walk without being heard. It was as if he floated above, barely touching the earth.

When he reached the Forest House, the door was unhinged, hanging desperately to one side. Without a thought Peter let out a long sigh of air to make himself as small as possible and squeezed under and between making his way into his Forest House.

He thought it would be dark but it was the opposite. The roof was gone. Part of it sprawled across on what was once a floor. And the rest of the roof, well, maybe a wind took it to a place of new purpose. It was as if the forest became the house, or the house was now the forest. Vines and moss and golden streams of light from an opening high above flickered and fell across the cottage.

Then it caught his eye, glass. Strangely enough, the glass in the window frames was perfectly fitted. He stepped closer to the rectangles still holding a crystal glance out into the depth of trees and brush. As Peter approached one window, he noticed something more confusing. It was as if the window was melting. It was solid. No holes or gaps that he could see, just a sag.

Gently he reached to touch it not wanting to ruin or break it. Peter always had a gentle touch. It would come in handy while working with glass in later years.

As he reached to place his delicate slender fingers on the pane, a sharp voice screeched out to him. He made himself pull back instead of falling forward in his start. He stumbled away not wanting to break the glass and landing with a flop on the cool mossy ground.

Peter sighed. It was his sister, Anne, and he had been found. She always found him. She with her loud voice and stomping feet would halt whatever journey he undertook.

At least for this first day in his Forest House he would comply with her demand. But he wasn’t going to let her stop him. He would return often and for years. That first day he left holding Anne’s hand with the image of melting sagging glass in framed windows of his Forest House etched into his memory.

When he got home he asked everyone he knew about the dripping glass. He eventually found out that glass is considered a liquid and over years old glass will move like slow, very slow lava. And that was it. Peter was wedded to the magic of glass.

But now he was walking, to where he did not know. To meet Alex with whom he would partner. He would discover that he would be a window washer. Yes. That would be it. When washing windows he could look out as well as in.

And there Peter would find the owner of his glass goose.

 

Shards

Our writing group meets occasionally. It’s not nearly enough. Today we met to eat and catch up and laugh and revel in one another’s company surrounded by Christmas cheer. And we wrote. It was a joy. Thank you, Diane, Sandy, Dorothea, and Crystal. And always in our hearts, if not present – Niki, Sheila, and Annette.

Today we grabbed some chapter titles out of several books on the shelves surrounding us for our story starters. Five words trickled off the pages to be used as we wrote. You can see them following my story.

 

 

Shards

“Never keep the fork in the left hand while drinking water.”

“Excuse me?”

Looking down through her wing-tipped glasses, past her long pointed nose, and across the table, she bullseyed onto my left hand and repeated, “Never keep the fork in the left hand while drinking water.”

Then she returned to pick up her fork with a dainty bit of Christmas pudding placed every so politely at the tip and raised it up to her pursed lips, only to pause as they unlocked to allow the sweet to disappear.

I felt a sharp jab at my knee under the table as Connery whispered into my ear, “Stop staring.” The jab hit just right to cause enough pain to startle me. I dropped my fork and water glass onto the white dessert plate rimmed in gold and trimmed with playful green holly leaves and three teeny tiny pricks of red.

The quiet was deafening as everyone froze to stare at me. Again. Shards flew everywhere. There was a gasp out of the old lady’s locked lips, a sigh, a roll of the eyes ending with an excruciating “Humph!” while her boney long fingers settled not so delicately into her lap.

I stood. Short curtsied. And excused myself before the tears in my eyes sealed off my exit.

Instead of running upstairs and barricading myself into my room for the rest of Christmas Day, like I always do, because “God only knows what she will do next!” had become the expectation, I turned right instead of left. My quick step turned into a full out run as I made my way down the long hallway past the ornate mirrors and around the center table with lion’s claw feet balancing a Christmas tree that reached higher than my apartment ceiling. I continued across the Persian runners to the door hung heavy with evergreen boughs and chartreuse bows and gold and silver balls larger than my head. It was her kingdom. She ran it well.

Charles was not there to open the doors for me. It didn’t matter. With all my might I pulled the double doors open and ran down the icy steps across the newly snow covered drive and into the woods that lined the road into my grandmother’s estate.

I wouldn’t be missed. Everyone could now relax without me there to cause more damage. Peace would quickly descend with my exit leaving only the whistling breathing of the grand dame rising above the stilted tea sipping and gazing out the window into the crystal white jungle where freedom called everyone, most too afraid to answer. Inheritances have power, even more than howl of the wolf or the glow of the full moon or the sea blown wind as they beckoned to the souls encased behind glass and bricks and wrapped in velvet. Some ignored it completely. Others wished. I answered.

Once hidden within the trees, I stopped to look back. I touched the necklace that hung around my neck to be sure it was safe. It was a habit I formed when I first received this lucky charm. Ignoring the cold and wet snow seeping into my required lace covered slippers, my first thought was to wonder how much it cost the old woman to pay the window washers to keep all those windows clean.

They were always spotless, clear and crystalline. One of my earliest memories of summer visits at the estate were of window washers arriving early morning as the sun rose after an evening storm. It didn’t matter that an afternoon squall would again throw its tears against those rectangular eyes hoping someone would notice. No, the window washers would just stop where they were to return the next day. Not to pick up from where they left off, but at the beginning, the windows the old woman used.

I enjoyed watching them. They would laugh and joke and sing. Something seldom heard in this house. I looked forward to the thunderstorms, not only because I liked to stand on the veranda and let the rain pour over me. But I knew I would soon be in the presence of joy.

Once a window broke accidentally as they were going about their regular post-rain duty and glass shattered into the library where the old lady and I were reading.

The window washers were immediately dismissed and told to never return. She had some cruel words for them. They had put up with so much from her for so long I wondered why they ever returned at all.

I stood back holding my breath as the old lady scolded them. One of them noticed and winked as if it was all in a days work. I think he was glad to be released from the prison.

I slipped away as they were packing up their tools. She would never miss me. I was never missed, only tolerated when I was noticed. So I needn’t worry about being caught talking to the freed criminals.

“I am sorry I won’t see you again.”

The one who winked at me smiled, and held out his hand. “Open your hand and promise me to always be yourself?”

His words confused me, but I obliged.

I extended my hand, palm open, “I promise.”

He dropped a small crystal into my hand.

“It’s a glass goose. I wash windows for my father. But at night I spin glass for me.”

“Hurry up!!!” called his partner now in the drivers seat gunning the engine. “Let’s get out of here. Good-by and good riddance.”

“Promise?” He winked again and I noticed that he had one green eye and one blue eye.

“Promise.” I smiled and closed my fingers around the goose and brought it to my heart. My other grandma always told me that when I got something I loved to place it next to my heart and breath in deeply so our heartbeats would become one.

As I looked through the boughs draped with snow into the lighted windows, I reached to my heart where the crystal goose hung on a silver chair around my neck.

 

 

Our prompts:
Opening line chosen at random:
1. Oysters and other shellfish
2. Your mustache attracts baby goats
3. Backbone pie
4. Her new perfume attracts circus folk
5. Never keep the fork in the left hand while drinking water
6. Don’t let your elbows stick out like buttresses
7. A Key to Good Digestion
Words to be incorporated:
kingdom     lucky charm   window washer   jungle   knees   chartreuse

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Rio

Every so often our writing group gathers. We eat and laugh, cry and share our lives that were once more closely connected but now seem to only pass occasionally. We need to gather more often.

Today at Sandy’s house she supplied the prompt. We read an old poem – The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes. It brought some of us back to our childhood poetry classes where we didn’t understand what was happening. But I remember the girls loved the love story and the boys, well, there is a robber and muskets. What more can I say?

This day, after we finished a shared reading of the poem, we looked and one another and wondered how this was going to help us write. Then we each took a page, closed our eyes and pointed to a word. We came up with eight, and our prompt was born.

We had four entirely different stories flavored by the poem. One story happened on a ghostly walk to church on the night of the Easter Vigil. Another was a rhymed poem about a carousel gone terribly wrong. The next was a heart-touching story from one of our members who was recently widowed. And mine is below.

The words we were to use in our story:
breast      attention     musket     listened     jeweled     trigger     riding     ghostly

Rio

The jeweled box sat on the ledge of the bedroom window. It drew the attention of the moon. As she smiled down on the delicate vessel, the box proved itself to be a treasure of hues. Each jewel’s essence threw itself against the wall like raindrops kissing a pond. Colors radiated from each pinpoint melding into the next.

Rio waited for the full moon riding across the sky. She knew exactly when it would find her windowsill triggering a light show. Tonight was no different. She sat on the small padded stool covered in baroque tapestry of purples and gold. There were tassels on each corner. The short and spiraled legs made of alder wood curled into lion claws. It was her grandmother’s.

Rio’s grandmother was a gypsy and the stool accompanied her across the land as she traveled. When Rio’s grandmother didn’t come back from her last adventure, a large box of her belongings were left on the steps of her parents’ house. The stool was discarded immediately. A “flea trap” her mother called it. But Rio knew better.

In the middle of the ghostly night with fog hanging low and before the trash pickup in the morning Rio took a large plastic bag bulging with old clothes and items that no longer served purpose for her to the curb in front of her house. Carefully and as quietly as she could, Rio replaced one bag for the other and like a flea, flitted back up the stairs to her room to retrieve her treasure from the black sack.

Rio stilled herself to hear the rhythm of her parents snoring. She knew, after years of listening, when their deepest sleep arrived, when no noise would trigger their attention. She was in luck. Their breathing siphoned in and out between their clenched teeth.

Rio pulled the stool from the bag.

Something slipped out of the bag and crashed to the floor.

It was small but the noise startled Rio. In the quiet between the inhales and exhales down the hall, the sound went riding through Rio’s room and out the bedroom door like a locomotive. She reached down and snatched up the object that fell from the bag, an item she didn’t know existed. She held it tightly next to her breast as if that would erase the crash. With her stilled breath and eyes trained down the hall to her parent’s room, she counted slowly as she released her breath until her mind could hear the rhythmic snores once more. By the time all her lungs were emptied, all was well.

Rio reached to the windowsill and placed the small box on the ledge. Then she turned her attention back to the stool. It needed some cleaning, but not too much. She remembered her grandmother telling her that dirt and grim held stories to be remembered, things to be learned. There were stories within this stool to be discovered.

A flash of light caught her eye as if it was shot out of a musket. The clouds covering the moon parted just enough and stood as still as Rio’s breath had been held just moments earlier. The moon’s brilliant array filtered through the window, gypsy ribbons catching hold of the jewels covering the tiny treasure.

Rio could hardly take her eyes off what seemed like a movie. She sat down gingerly onto the stool to watch. Her seat fit perfectly into the pillowed top. Her legs bent and crossed naturally at the ankles with her knees pointing to the floor. It was as if someone had measured the stool and her for a perfect fit.

Soon Rio was bathed in a cascade of hues, colors swirling all around her. She spun around on the stool to see the reach of the jeweled light. That’s when she noticed the dancing colors on her wall. As she watched, the colors moved and jiggled. After a few minutes they stopped and came together to form words.

As quickly as Rio rose to grab her journal and a pen, the clouds closed back over the moon and the words made of color and light fell into a puddle on the rug and faded away.

I am so blessed to be part of these women’s lives. We must get together more often.

Lexanne

 

Marguerite, a Myth

Marguerite was known for her magnificent flowerbeds. Every shape and size held court, not one diminished by another for its size or stature. She honored them all with the attention of a good friend and fair lover. They were forever in bloom, as all flowers were at that time. Never a petal fell, not one ever released or given up. Never a blossom drooped in any pot or plot across the valley. They lived under the sun and smiled through the snow. But stayed their place, as all good flowers should.

Until, that is, the morning following the night before, whether by reason or dreaminess, Marguerite neglected to close her dining room window on her way to slumber. When the sky turned creamsicle shades against the heliotrope and azure sky and birds raised their chants to welcome a new day, Marguerite turned her eye to the dining room window knowing an addition filled space once empty.

On the sill facing south, in a Delft blue earthenware vessel, sat a daisy so fair, so perfectly shaped, so splendidly flowery that children would be drawn to peek inside, especially as cool fall breezes allowed for open windows and curious eyes.

It was a Cape Daisy, lightly tinted lavender with a purple eye so deep it could almost could have been an ebony marble. No one had known this flower before it showed up on Marguerite’s sill. That morning it was just there. Marguerite smiled at her whimsy of leaving the window open with little worry of Night Visitors that sometimes made themselves at home.

Once when Marguerite left the window open, Night Visitors reveled under a sleepy moon through her house until all her dishes were upside down stacked one on top of another with such precision that one little tick, one little puff would have sent them tumbling. But Marguerite was a kind soul and moved with such gentleness that even the most busy of souls stopped and took a deep breath as she passed by. There was no fear of tumbling. The dishes barely clinked as she lightly set them once more into their correct places.

So it was on the morning of the first day of the Cape Daisy that Marguerite pulled a chair up to the lacy draped sill for a visit.

“Hello.” Marguerite folded her hands gently in her lap.

The Cape Daisy nodded. Marguerite recognized the reply. Others would have attributed it to the breeze.

“Thank you for coming to stay. I hope you will enjoy yourself.”

Marguerite picked up her crochet needle with thread so fine, the children thought she created cloths made of spider silk.

And there Marguerite sat for most of the morning with her new friend until the lunch bell rang and school children began their trek home for their afternoon repast, a nap, and then back again for their remaining lessons.

Marguerite, too, disappeared into the kitchen for her lunch.

“I’ll be back soon. I’ll bring with me some lemon water when I return. You will like it. It’s good for your system.”

As Marguerite left, she didn’t see the Cape Daisy turn its head toward her exit, nor the slight shiver running down its stem at being left alone. The Cape Daisy is also a delicate soul and once a friend is made, even a short time apart is a sorrow for the Cape Daisy.

But as promised, and Marguerite never let a promise float away, she returned with a glass of warm lemon water. Somehow she knew the perfect temperature. As she approached the Cape Daisy she noticed a tear-shaped petal from the perfectly ruffled face had slipped to the floor.

“Oh, my, I shouldn’t have taken so long to bring you your lemon water.”

She poured the water around the graceful stem and it gurgled down into the thick loam.

“Ah, that’s better now, isn’t it?”

Marguerite lifted the tear-shaped petal from the floor and walked to the bookcase.

“Let’s see. Yes. Here. This is the one.”

Marguerite opened a photo album. It had photos of every type of flower one could imagine, and they all forever lived in her garden. She kept photos to remember her lovely friends in the depth of winter. Because, even though they never lost a petal or a leaf, Marguerite preferred the warm winter fire to boots and coats and scarves and mittened hands holding her shaking stick used to lighten the load of snow from her garden mates.

She turned to the first blank page of the album and lifted the clear cover and placed the Cape Daisy’s tear-shaped petal on the sticky paper.

“For safe keeping.”

And then she turned back to the Cape Daisy.

It was dancing. Although anyone else would have said it was the children laughing and giggling and touching its petals that made it move, Marguerite knew better.

“Hurry, the bell is going to ring. You don’t want to be late. You can visit the Cape Daisy again tomorrow.”

And the children skittered away and the Cape Daisy sighed. Although anyone else would have said it was the door closing at the school across the street.

And this went on for days, fourteen exactly.

One day for each tear-shaped petal surrounding the deep purple eye of the Cape Daisy. Sometimes the petal blew further into the house to remind Marguerite to return. Other times it lifted with the breeze to the back porch as Marguerite read Shakespeare. It would land exactly where her eyes met the poetry on the page. And she would return to the Cape Daisy and read aloud until dinnertime. No matter where Marguerite moved, even when she visited the farmer’s market for some fresh eggplant, she would find a lavender tear-shaped petal resting in her sight.

Marguerite continued to place the tear-shaped petals in the album drawing a perfect remembrance of the Cape Daisy. She began to worry what would happen to her friend once all the petals fell. When there was only one petal left, she thought she should stay with the Cape Daisy and never leave it. But that is not what life is about. One must trust that all will be well.

On the last day, when all that was left was the deep purple eye, Marguerite sat with her crochet needle and hummed a lullaby. For she knew it was time for the Cape Daisy to rest.

When she finished, Marguerite snipped the deep purple eye off the now fragile and wilting stem and wrapped in a spider cloth. She strode to a new garden plot she had prepared. Marguerite buried the eye not too deep, but just right. She didn’t know what would happen, but somehow she knew this was the right way.

In the middle of winter, when fire burned warm and Marguerite sipped a big mug of hot chocolate with homemade chocolate marshmallows, she would first wander through her picture book of flowers. Then with a spider cloth in hand, she would visit each tear-shaped petal of the pieced together flowers the Night Visitors continued to leave on her window sill through the fall and remember their gentle and grace-filled presence.

In the spring, Marguerite and the children, as well as everyone from near and far, rejoiced in the new gardens. And the old flowers, that refused to release their beauty, surrendered now understanding the promise of new birth.

You see ardent flowers are great and sincere friends with tender hearts. When their loved ones leave their presence, it’s too much sorrow to bear. Not wanting their loved one to lose their way back to them, their tear-shaped petals mark the journey home trusting all will be well. And so, this is the wisdom of the first flower who lost its petals.

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Author’s Note:

Oh, how I love our writer’s group. With busy schedules what was once a week meeting, now is a infrequent pleasure. We need to gather more often.

Today it was my turn to bring the prompts. I found a set of interesting prompts from
http://www.writerswrite.co.za. It was 20 Prompts for Writing Myths, cut into strips and each one of the writers picked one. Mine was to explain why flowers lose their petals. Perfect for the gardener in me.

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            Cape Daisy

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            Marguerite Daisy

I’m fast asleep and now I am awake…

In deep of night I fall fast into
moon’s full smile
who brings the wild out in
every child mortal

I dance on toes with arms
a-swing, I reach to touch
most anything that warns
against such foolishness

In her glow, Luna’s silvery
stream I swim in ripples
and waves of beams to
carry me to lustrous
wide realms

I am awake in her quick
light fast and watch you
hidden solemn in your dim
night cold

Follow me far from your
hallowed cell, be with me
at the Moonglow Ball

Together we waltz
fast and awake
leaving night to those
asleep in their ache

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Author’s Note:

Today I reunited with our writing group. I have been gone too long. What a joy to reconnect with these lovely writers and even lovelier people.

Sheila brought “Malieisms” today for our writing prompts. Not sure how to spell that. Malakhi is her grandson who is three. He is always sharing his wisdom. And, yes, his words are wise.

A few examples:

There’s an exclamation point in my mouth.

Let’s follow the sky and see where it leads.

And then my prompt chosen by blind number and the title of my poem:

I’m fast asleep and now I am awake.

These remind me one of my favorite poets, Naomi Shihab Nye, and her poem One Boy Told Me. I play it every April during National Poetry Month for my first graders.

Thank you, writers, for a wonderful morning.

The Animal Inside

I howl when the animal inside me sings.
I howl to let the world know I am,
the animal inside me sings harmony.

I wear red when the animal inside me wears blue.
Red sears hurt hurtling my way, spring water blue
calms my fear.

I wish for the moon to fall from sky. The animal inside
me weaves wishes braiding a ladder I climb to lead
the moon back home once more.

I collect sighs and sorrows from souls lost in wander,
the animal inside me collects dandelion puffs on which
to place each one, and blows.

I wait for Venus to rise and Sirius to spin out
of control, while the animal inside me twirls with
the stars in a tango of dreams.

And sometimes when no one is looking,
I lay myself down under the willow and cry. When no one
is looking the animal inside me cradles me to sleep.

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Author’s Note:

Our writer’s group met again tonight, hopefully a return to regular meetings.

We used a prompt from Bonnie Newbauer’s book, The Write-Brain Workbook, 365 Exercises To Liberate Your Writing. We used Day 105, Animal Tendencies.

Visit Thursday Afternoon Writers on Facebook to see what others wrote. (I know it’s Wednesday. We used to be called Wednesday Afternoon Writers, then moved to Thursday, and now we’re back on Wednesdays. Think we need a new name?)

Calliope

I was completely captivated, like a child on her first carousel ride spinning to the music of the calliope. But I wasn’t like the child who screeched and giggled as the unicorn raised and lowered itself to the musical notes ringing through the air. It wouldn’t be the purple mane braided with pink ribbons dotted with indigo violas or the horn twined with golden cord that caught my attention. Nor would it be the brassy chimes belching out the same tune over and over as I went round and round that charmed me.

No, my quest would be found in the steam rising from the brassy pipes, steam that swirled up and out of the hole in the top of the undulating circus tent. A hole small enough not to be noticed to break the elegant lines coming almost to a perfect point, shading us from too hot sun and the occasional raindrops of summer on the plains. Yet it was a hole large enough for steam to make an escape. 

I sat not on a tiger or elephant or giraffe, but nestled myself in the tufted red leather booths reserved for lovers, who sneaked kisses when no one else would be looking, not realizing that it was the rising beasts near their secluded nooks that were the first to be snatched up for the privilege of watching their show and then the bragging rights thereafter.

I sat by myself, stretched out, arms crossed over my chest staring straight up at the steam rising. I let myself be woven into its breath and carried up and out into the awaiting blue, zippering the tiny hatch behind me after my escape.

I rose above the carnival and its merrymaking. I could see hysterical figures like Mexican jumping beans, those little boxed booby prizes for those not lucky enough for a real carny award, pointing to the sky and at me rising, rising. 

The liberated steam melded into the atmosphere now free to roam the universe. And I would keep rising, too, without wings, without wind, without aid from any source. I would roam to whatever caught my eye, be it above or below. 

When I tired, not of travel but of amazement, I would lower back down to the tent, unzip the pocket and settle back into the arms of the red leather puff just in time as the carousel waned, slower and slower until a complete stop jolted a halt to my adventure. 

And the children would slide off their noble steeds and go skipping to their next amusement under the red hot summer sun smiling down upon our little piece of heaven.

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Author’t Note:

Ahhhh. Our little writer’s group met today for a reunion of sorts. We have been on a very long hiatus, as one member described it.

It was a lovely morning of honoring the voices of four brilliant women whose lives pulled us apart for a while. What joy to be joined together again.

We used The Write-Brain Workbook, 366 Exercises To Liberate Your Writing by Bonnie Neubauer. The challenge given: eighteen words of which we were to choose six and use the starting line – “I was completely captivated, like a…”

We wrote for a bit over a half an hour and shared. Our pieces are not polished and it takes a bit of bravery to post them. But it is fun to share none the less.

My words were:

quest   undulate   viola   zipper   calliope  hysterical

Thank you, Niki, Diane, Sheila and me! I am so very honored to be in such lovely company.