The Apple

apple

The apple sat on the table. The table stood on glistening floorboards. The floorboards reached down into the dark hallway to blackness.

I could hear him breathing.

I was hungry but I refused to touch it. It was the deepest red I had ever known an apple to be. The shine was way beyond the waxy sheen of the grocery apples. This one looked like it was enameled.

I stepped closer. I sniffed. The perfume rose into my nostrils and swirled into my brain. My stomach growled. I hated him for doing this.

I stepped closer, my nose wanting another whiff. My stomach begging. As I moved my face towards the orb, a ghastly face appeared causing me to jump away tripping over my shoelaces and landing on my bum.

“Damn.” The shoelaces formed a devious smile curling at me.

I hurried out the door when I got his message. I hadn’t heard from him since we parted three weeks ago. He promised he would text me when he was safe. That was three weeks ago.

I almost gave up hope ever seeing him again. Although that wouldn’t have been such a bad thing. Whatever I did with him turned into trouble. I was still nursing injuries. But thinking he might not have survived at all, that made me hurry to meet him. So I didn’t stop to tie my boots and here I was sitting on the hardwood floor inside a house I shouldn’t be in wondering about an apple.

Oh, the tempting apple. I approached it, this time from the side with my hand waving in front of it. Okay. I was just a bit skittish before. The first time I faced the red mirror ball, the face was mine. But in the sheen of the strange apple, it distorted my face. Somehow all the things I didn’t like about my face appeared enlarged. I looked like a troll.

I hated when he did this. Everything was always a “trial.” He said it was good for me. It would make me sharper and stronger. I bought it at first. I think the only thing it made stronger was his ego. But I played along as he was was the one who was to help us and I was the chosen one to be his acolyte.

So now, hungry and with a sore bum, I had to decide what to do with the apple. Do I touch it? Do I eat it? Do I talk to it? Do I roll it down the long hallway hoping to make a strike?

I looked at myself again in the glaze. This time, although it was still me, I was older. Grey hair, wilding around my face with strong wrinkles and a kindly smile? Could that really be me? Kindly and smiling were two words that rarely, if ever, described me. As I stared, my hazel eyes with the gold specks in just the left gleamed back at me, winked, then faded away.

A fog started to roll from the top of the apple and began to veil it from my sight.

“Hurry,”

It was his voice. It caught me off guard. I didn’t realize how much I needed to actually hear it to believe he was still alive.

“Hurry.” This time it came more insistent.

“What do you mean?”  Should I grab it? Eat it? Smash it?

I hated him for this. I hated that I always had to figure it out on my own. I could feel his crystal blue eyes watching. I knew there was a twinkle. That ego of his was insufferable.

“Hurry, Little One.”

That was all it took. He knew exactly how to piss me off. I grabbed the apple and clamped down so hard I thought I might bite right through my fingers. But I didn’t.

Just as soon as the ruby skin broke and juice ran down my chin, my nose filled with the honeyed scent. I chewed with so much zeal that it took me just three bites to eat the whole thing.

I swallowed and felt warm and full. How could one apple fill a gut that was so empty?

I closed my eyes and sighed. And when I opened them, there he was standing in front of me. He rose at least three feet taller than the top of my head. It wasn’t that I was so short, he was just tall.

I wanted to hug him, tell him how worried I was about him. I wanted him to know how dark it was in the quarters waiting for word from him and how no one came. When they thought he was gone, they all left. I didn’t leave. I knew he would be back. I knew he would find a way. I wanted to tell him how much I cared for him.

“Hey, Pip Squeak, didn’t you even consider I might like part of that apple, too?”

I sat down on the floor in the house where we shouldn’t have been. Squeezing the apple core of the most delicious apple I had ever tasted I started to cry. For the first time, I let him see me cry.

“There. That’s what I needed to see. You are a softie after all. That’s important.”

He sat down next to me, reached out his big bear arms to encircle me, and I fell fast asleep.

I hated him for not making me hate him.

Author’s Note:

In the last post I explained why I haven’t posted here. Most of my writing has been for my class.

Today our writing group got together and we wrote. Harrison, the high school son of one of our writers, challenged his mom with this prompt: I hated him for not making me hate him. I also brought some book covers in a bag from which we pulled one to use the title or picture or words.

I was so pulled into the prompt that I didn’t even touch the book cover.

One thing I find interesting about this piece. My character voice which has been a bit more fragile, seems to have grown stronger. I like her. I want to see where this goes.

Elemental Breath

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Suburban Urban Minstrel

I breathe between mountain and plain,
mesa and wide-angle field,
on city streets and urban walks,
where night’s video-blue glow veils sky.

Spirit alights here, too.

In depth of dark I hear ancestral call
Make space, make space, make space.
Under Moon I rest, release and sleep,
my breath will carry strong.

Dawn comes, burns away all
that which no longer serves.
Ash into compost, rich soft soil,
make space for new to grow.

From earth’s wise path,
coil wraps to sing her song,
we all belong, one in Genius,
quiet and stillness your way.

In simple stream to rushing river,
in ocean that cleanses our soul,
make space, says she, I’ll help
and refresh, drink deeply of me,
your fears cooled.

I rest between mountain
and sweetgrass plain,
under stars and ancestral Moon.
I feel your tug, a red thread woven
from before, until now, and eternal.

I am Lady of Mountain, Lady of Plain,
Suburban Urban Minstrel,
Elemental Voice who gives from within,
a conduit for Ha-Ruach.

I call to those with urban hopes,
suburban dreams, from peaks to mesa,
plain and water, in all Creator dwells.

Make space,
make space,
you are a blessing from Grace,
make space
for your untold shine.

 

Author’s Note:

This piece was created over the last three months using a process called Intentional Creativity. I am being certified as a Red Thread Guide and part of my training was to paint. I never painted before and never drew either. So this was a very good process for me to move through.

Using intention as I put down each layer, I learned about myself and transmuted my old stories into new ones. I learned to release ego and listen to Spirit within. This painting moved me through many transitions as itself moved. I loved many of the images and colors and patterns that appeared each week. But I learned to let them go and allow the new to arise and speak to me about what it wanted to be and its new story.

Shiloh Sophia and Mary McCrystal were our guides and mentors. Through the Intentional Creativity Foundation, I found my new self. Or, should I say, the self I never really allowed myself to know.

Below are a few of the levels from the first to the end that sit underneath the final image above.

 

I’m back!

Oh, dear friends. This spring has been a whirlwind. Since January I’ve been in training to become certified as a Red Thread Guide with the Intentional Creativity Foundation. A trip to Hawaii and one to Sonoma has kept me busy writing and creating, but not for the blog. And on top of it all, I am retiring from a full time first grade teaching position in just two weeks.

So for the next few days I am going to post some of the work I have been doing so you know what I’ve been up to.

Thank you for remaining faithful….

I will begin with a little project I am currently working on. It’s called Creative Sprint, May 30-Day challenge. Yesterday we were challenged to select a photograph, painting or a picture from a magazine and extend the image beyond its current frame or edges.

I used one of my own photographs of the crows on one of my doggie walks with my Bean. And I used PicMonkey to “extend the image.”

 

The Birds.jpg

Bones

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To see the bones of lava,
The real bone,
You must have sand

When lava bears itself to sun
Pushes through Earth
To journey toward an unknown end
Kisses ocean and
Creates a new existence,
It’s not easy

Heat, where nearness may cause death,
Steam, if breathed too deeply, might suffocate
Yet, on its own, it endures
Moves towards a new
way, a way of being,
that must release
the heat of its fervor

Settled,
As journey completes,
Then comes rest

Time to cool in ocean’s
Caress, smooth it’s roughness,
Polish sharp places of brokenness
Giving way to gentle touch,
Patience, and presence

As shards round,
Creases weave and wave
Wisdom tells its story,
Sand listens
Dusting gratitude,
And lava becomes land.

 

Author’s Note:

I attended a retreat in Hawaii a few weeks ago. It was led by Amber Kuileimailani Bonnici. It was called Creativity Unleashed 2018. Through Intentional Creativity we delved deeply into ourselves to learn more, release more, and, for me. learn a bit about painting and Shiloh Sophia‘s 13 step intentional creativity process. I am also training to be a Red Thread Guide.

It was an overwhelming few days as I had to squeeze it into my school schedule. But every minute was a treasure to be mined and celebrated.

One morning I had intended to play with our watercolor set in my journal, but we stopped on the way to the hotel at Magic Sands Beach and this poem happened instead.

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MyPainting

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Creativity Unleashed 2018 Participants – Photo by Lacy Johnson Rootness

Beautiful Hand

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Man with a Newspaper, Eugene Ivanov
Czech Republic, Saatchi Art

She opened her zebra striped backpack and shook the contents onto the floor. She gave the backpack one more good shake. It plopped to the floor.

Thank god.

She thought she had forgotten it. After stuffing the other miscellany back into the pack, she grabbed the last item with her right hand and slipped into the big patchwork pocket she had sewn into the left side lining of her coat. She glanced quickly around as she stood up and jerked forward as the bus began moving.

Good. No one noticed.

She probably should have waited until she was at the back of the bus in her seat. But her stomach churned but when she remembered a turquoise flash of color as she walked out her front  door of the flat. Her heart was beating, fast. It beat faster and faster at the thought of the forgotten item left on the side table and she sitting there in the middle of everyone without it. Deep down she knew they would want it, even though they probably didn’t realize it. She couldn’t let them down. So she stopped in the middle of the aisle as she walked toward her seat on the bus and dumped everything out.

I love living in the city. No one pays attention to you. Weirdos do strange things all the time and no one wants to get involved.

So no one saw what she hid inside her coat. No one glanced up. Everyone’s nose was in a phone or tablet or Kindle. There was even one person with a newspaper, an actual newspaper, in front of his face. She decided to sit across from him. With that amount of coverage, he’d never see what she was going to do next.

Hahaha.

She laughed but quickly covered her mouth so she wouldn’t be heard. There was no reaction.  Nothing stirred from behind the newspaper.

Good. He didn’t hear me.

It was an odd sight. As she looked closer at her seatmate, she noticed the newspaper was upside down. As a matter of fact, it was a bit yellowed and crinkly and the front of it had a headline about the fire from two years ago.

Yep. That’s a two year old newspaper. What’s that all about?

It was his left hand she noticed next. His fingers were long and slender. There were no rings or no signs of any ring ever being on the fingers. His hands were wrinkled but his nails were immaculate. They were buffed shiny and filed to perfection. There were perfect little slivers of moon at each tip. But as she looked closer the slivers weren’t all the same size. A crescent started with the littlest fingernail and they grew larger with each finger. She couldn’t see his thumb, but she was almost positive it would be a full moon. She glanced to the right hand. It was gloved.

That’s odd.

Back to the other hand she marveled at the grace of his hand. It seemed kind and wise. It was a beautiful hand.

Wow. I bet he never bites his nails.

She looked at hers. There was a hangnail she missed earlier in the day. She bit it off.

That’s better.

Pure white stiff cuffs ringed his wrists. They were spotless and crisp. They were a little large, but she remembered her grandfather’s shirts. He had long arms and need special shirts tailored to his length. And they always seemed to make their way out from under his jacket sleeves. Her eyes continued up his arm.  A dark suit started where the cuff met the sleeve and worked its way up and behind the newspaper. She traced back down. A sparkle caught her eyes.

Yep. He has cufflinks. Wow.

They were gold with large sparkly red stones.

Could those be real rubies?

Her eyes looked up above the newspaper and saw only the top of his hat, a man’s hat. A business man’s hat like her grandfather’s. It was dark black, rounded on top with a thin black ribbon running around it. She couldn’t quite see the rim, but it had to be a bowler. It bobbled as if the hat was reading the paper and reacting to upside down news that was two years old.

I better get to work. We’re getting close.

They were sitting in the back, the last seats. Her back was blocked by the plexiglass wall covered with transit information. The man and his newspaper would cover the rest.

Quiet now, Claire. Don’t let anyone see.

Outside the window transformer lines clicked by. They were getting close.

Claire reached inside her coat and pulled out the item that would make all the difference. She carefully bent her head down. She glanced down the aisle and could see the tunnel looming. She didn’t like the dark and was sure the others in the bus would appreciate what she was about to do for them.

Her fingers knew exactly what to do. They slid the neon wig into place and with a push of a hidden button in the seam near her ear it began to glow an electric blue just at the perfect time. The bus faded into the tunnel and with rush hour traffic clogging the roads, the entire back of the bus would be lit up for the next ten minutes.

It’s crooked.

What?

The man with the beautiful hand and bowler hat didn’t move the paper. But in the neon light Claire could now see two glowy eyes looking at her from holes that had been carefully sculpted in the two-year-old yellow newspaper at exactly the perfect spot. They could not be seen in regular light, but in her neon glow she could see that the man with the beautiful hand and bowler hat could see everything that was going on.

She adjusted the wig.

Thank you.

You’re welcome?

Claire stared at the holes and tugged on it once more.

Too much.

What?

Too much.

Oh. Okay.

Another slight tug avoided frustration on the part of the man with the beautiful hand and bowler hat.

That’s better.

Thank you?

You’re welcome.

No one noticed Claire’s neon glow from the back of the bus.

No one notice the man with the beautiful hand and bowler hat.

And that’s what happens in the city.

Author’s Note:

Thursday Afternoon Writers met this afternoon. Tonight we each added words to our prompts and each of us wrote with a unique set of words and opening lines.

My words: Zebra.  Frustration.  Turquoise. Transformer. Neon wig – electric blue.

My opening Line: She opened her backpack and shook the contents onto the floor.

And I found the perfect image simply from a Google search!

The Bundle

Our writing group met this week. Silliness was afoot. This is what we needed so desperately this week. Thank you, Thursday Afternoon Writers, for help keeping me sane.

My opening line chosen at random: “Sing, lover, sing!” How embarrassing

All of us were challenged to use these words: Ire. Spellbinding. Small. Advantage. Trickster

 

The Bundle

“Sing, lover, sing!” How embarrassing.

I started the poem over and over for the last hour and a half. It had devolved into this:

“Sing, lover, sing!” How embarrassing.

Spellbinding words? Nope.

I could feel ire building. Usually, I can come up with something, but today was not that day.

I was writing at the coffee shop next to the park. I sat by the window even though it was cold outside. On top of that, the door opened every few minutes to blow its arctic breath across my back. I have no idea why I didn’t move. I guess it was in the stars that this would be my place for the day. Prophetic? Maybe.

It snowed the night before and there was fog. How could there be fog? Wasn’t fog supposed to happen when it was warm and then moisture and then some cold? The weather app said it was going to be forty degrees. Right.

“Sing, lover, sing!” How embarrassing.”

There is was again. It was like a bad song you can’t get out of your head. You know when you pass the preschool and they are singing about a llama in pajamas and then you end up singing about that llama and its pajamas all day long? And the librarian shushes you, and the lady in line at the grocery store gives you a weird look, and you wake up in the middle of the night and take a shower to hoping to wash that llama in pajamas right out of your hair and down the drain? Yeah, that kind of song.

“Sing, lover, sing!” How embarrassing.

My nerves were getting a bit frayed and my third cup of coffee wasn’t helping.

The door opened again but this time a strong wind blew it all the way open, and what looked like a small brown bundle about the size of a large garbage bag rolled away from the opening into the street.

What was that? The door shut slowly. No one was standing there to open it or shut it. Did that thing open the door? I watched the bundle.

A car slid around it in an attempt to avoid it and ended up hitting the bench across the street. I could only sit there looking out the window and watch as if the wind had frozen me solid. People ran from the surrounding shops and some trudged through the snow from the park toward the bench, then past the car to where the bundle sat. They almost completely encircled the bundle, which now was motionless in the middle of the road. Luckily, I guess it was luck, people left an opening on my side so I had the perfect viewing of the small brown bundle.

A woman was helped out of the car.  She seemed okay as she stumbled towards the bundle, but it was the bundle everyone had their eyes on. First, it started to wiggle. Then an arm, then another, stretched themselves out from the rounded blob. As if they were on springs, two legs popped out and stretched just as the arms had done. We all just stared, even the woman from the car.

At last a head curled up from the top of the small bundle. It looked up and now it  seemed to resemble a person. Rolling from side to side until it righted itself, it stood up and walked back to the door of the coffee shop.

No one said anything. I couldn’t see its face. I could only make out a long scarf that was wrapped tightly around the neck and head leaving a slit for two small eyes. They peered at the door. Mittened hands and booted feet hid anything else that would have given us more details as to what was inside the small brown bundle.

It waddled with a slight limp. Someone ran to the door to hold it open and with a bit of a nod of thanks the bundle entered the coffee shop and began to look around. The bundle had a purpose, looking for someone or something it knew it needed to find.

As the head swiveled around stopping for a slight pause at each person, heads lined up along the outside of the window staring in at the bundle, steaming up the glass with their moist warm breath and freezing it into a frosted pane, eventually hiding their faces behind a curtain of patterned ice crystals.

The bundle turned with what seemed like straight legged stomps and its slitted eyes rested on mine. Mine!

Did I know what creature lurked inside the three foot brown bundle? Did it know me? Would this trickster take me on a journey to places to where I had never dreamed?

I watched as heads peeled themselves away from the window and went about their day. A police car pulled up to aid the woman and her now crunched front end. And as I turned back to find where the bundle has situated itself, there was no one left inside the coffee shop but myself, one barista, and the small brown bundle.

I was still seated as the bundle waddled up to the empty chair at my table, pull it out with its mittened hand and heaved itself up onto the seat, standing on top of the brown hardwood with brown booted feet.

I noticed I was holding my breath. I think I was afraid to breathe. I let it out and as I inhaled once more I watched as it’s eyes watched mine. The mittened hand began to unwind the rainbow colored scarf from around its head and neck.

Wait a minute. Had its changed colors since it walked into the warm? Wasn’t it brown when it was outside? I noticed the rainbow hued painting hanging on the wall behind what was once the small brown bundle, now a rainbow hued bundle. Was it my imagination, or did it do a chameleon thing and change to match its surroundings?

The scarf was long, longer than one could imagine. It unwound again and again and again until it was a heap on the floor almost as high as the tabletop. All that was left was a head covered in a rat’s nest of dirty golden hair, still with just a slit for the eyes to look through. The small rainbow bundle’s mittened hands made an opening through the hair where its mouth should be. In the stillness of the the coffee shop where I had once found solace to write, the bundle cleared its mucousy throat.

And what sounded like a voice that had not been in use for a long time, maybe forever, scratchy and tiny, came the words that had haunted my day,

“Sing, lover, sing!” How embarrassing.