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!

Spin the Bottle

The first time she saw him, he was digging ketchup out of a bottle with a knife.

Andy parked her car next to a blue van in the Denny’s lot. She was driving down the interstate and realized she needed food. Andy didn’t always eat when her stomach told her to. But she always ate when the gas gage on Raven read almost empty. It was her way of remembering to eat. Food wasn’t important to Andy. She never craved anything. She didn’t understand the fascination of cooking shows that sucked up people’s time.

The gage on Raven was nearing empty and Andy knew there were few stops between where she was and where she would be in a few hours. So she stopped.

Andy always chose her parking spot with an eye for quick and easy departure. She was once caught in a traffic jam trying to leave the scene of a robbery. She was stuck in the parking space and no one would let her out. Cars kept pushing by and she feared the next one would contain the thieves and their guns. She was afraid she would see their faces and they would have to “blow her away” as Harry Bosch novels would say. But they didn’t and when she was finally able to take the cup of water the police officer was trying to hand her to calm her down, she filed away in the back of her mind a plan to never be caught in a spot where that could happen again.

The parking space she found was at the end of a row near the street. She backed in pointing the nose of Raven toward the outlet ready to zoom away at a moments notice if need be. Andy also always kept her keys in her hand, only placing them down on the table when she cut her meat when two hands were needed, you know. She was now ready for some food.

Andy walked through the doors and plunked herself down at a table nearest the exit. She sat where she could see who was walking through the door. There was nothing feng shui, as her sister would insist, about it. It was simply smart planning.

The waiter with pimples and a squeaky voice handed her a menu and smiled at her. Andy wondered if that was his way of flirting or maybe he was just being nice. Nonetheless, Andy never returned smiles. It opened the door to conversation and conversation led to familiarity and familiarity led to friendship until the whole thing crumbled into tiny particles much like those that covered the sticky rug beneath her feet.

It was then that she saw him.

He was sitting at the counter with a bottle of ketchup in one hand and a knife in the other. Andy watched as he scraped and dug the ketchup from the sides of the bottle.

He was in no hurry. Each time he slid the knife out of the bottle, the tip was tainted with just a bit of red much like the end of a thermometer. He methodically wiped the knife on the edge of the hamburger bun he had turned over and placed in the middle of a napkin next to his plate. The plate was overflowing with french fries, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and onions that left no room for an upturned bun.

The process went on for a few minutes. Andy didn’t take her eyes off him. The waiter returned and asked Andy a question. She ignored him. Pimple Face stood watching Andy waiting for a response that she was never going to give.

Then the man finished with the ketchup bottle. Balanced the knife across the pile of french fries and slammed the bottle down onto the counter

“Who the fuck thinks this is good service around here?”

That got everyone else’s attention.

“How does anyone expect to get a decent amount of ketchup out of this fuckin’ bottle? Who do you think I am Houdini or something?” He grabbed the bottle off the counter.

Andy watched as the man threw the bottle onto the floor. It bounced with a dull thud. Then skidded toward her, her foot bringing the bottle to a halt. All eyes were on Andy. Pimple Face stepped away from her table.

Meeting the waiter’s wide eyes, Andy snorted and shook her head. Yeah, he’s a catch all right, she thought.

Looking at her table she picked up the ketchup bottle sitting in the middle of it. The bottle was newly filled. Her fingers noticed a sticky drip down the label. Holding the bottle in front of her, Andy walked over to the man.

He didn’t notice.

He was too busy staring at his ketchup bottle spinning on the floor. Andy accidentally kicked it as she scooted her chair back when she stood up. It was as if they were playing Spin the Bottle. However, Andy knew she would never, ever kiss either him or the pimpled face waiter.

“Here, you can have mine. You’re much more patient than I would have been.”

The man took the bottle from Andy’s hand, removed the cap, flipped the bottle upside down and began pounding on the bottom releasing the thick red paste onto his bun.

Andy returned to her seat as the other diners returned to their conversations. With shaking hands gripping his order booklet and a blue Bic pen, Pimple Face cleared his throat to ask his question for a second time.




Author’s Note:

Tonight at Sunday Afternoon Writers as A Church of the Holy Family we use a prompt from Bonnie Neubauer’s The Write-Brain Workbook.

We started with the word “craven” and made words from it for one minute. We then had to use all the words we made in our writing.

Then we chose one of two prompts: The first time I saw him, he was digging ketchup out of the bottle with a knife. Or: The first time I saw her, she was teaching third graders that ketchup is a vegetable.

We always share after a half hour of writing.

My words from “craven” and I didn’t get to a few.


Zuraw bowed deep and low.

It was the honored way to begin his daily meditation with Marilyn. Every morning before the sun rose, Zuraw would gently lift his recorder off the shelf. He had a fine stand to hold it.

Zuraw walked around the neighborhood on trash days and picked up what he called his “lonely lost ones,” things that didn’t matter any longer to some but were precious to him.

This “lonely lost one,” the stand, was small and gold, a perfect fit for his green plastic recorder with tape wrapped three times around to hold the mouthpiece on. It always had to be three. Three was the perfect number, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as he was taught in his youth. The stand cradled the recorder with loving arms.

Zuraw imagined the stand once propped up a photo of a passionate and deep love. When that love broke, Zuraw pictured in his mind the photo being gently removed from the stand with one hand, a match lit with the other, and the tip of the fire kissing one corner of the photo.

In his mind Zuraw could see the blue flames licking up the face of the photo turning it to ash. Then the same hand that once held the fire, lifted the stand, not wanting to leave any bit of memory of the sourness of love gone bad, and placing it in the paper bag stained with grease from that night’s Chinese take out.

Recorder in hand, Zuraw slipped out the window, going through the door would make too much noise and might wake the others. He met Marilyn in their usual place, across the street, in the park, under the tree.

The city street was still quiet. The buzz would begin in an hour or so, just enough time for Zuraw and Marilyn to complete their daily ceremony.

Zuraw found Marilyn waiting. Marilyn was a fire sprit.

Now, one would assume a fire sprite to be small and quick and a bit mischievous. Some days that was true. Today, however, Marilyn was sleepy and decided that an elephant was much more to her pleasure.

Zuraw loved Marilyn and always wanted to share her with others, but no one could ever seem to see her. He would point out exactly where she was, the tracks she made, whether it was moose tracks or ash trail. Using his finger, he would outline her exact shape and ask people to step more closely and give her a sniff. Of course Zuraw would only ask people to sniff Marilyn when she took the shape of a grape flavored iris or cup of rainwater.

But no one but Zuraw could ever experience Marilyn. That was all right with Zuraw. It made her much like one of his “lonely lost ones,” but one he would never throw in the trash.

Zuraw bowed.

Marilyn lifted her foot and tapped the ground in acceptance.

Then Zuraw began to play.

When Zuraw first moved to the city from Costa Rica and began his morning concerts, some residents complained. So he moved from the apartment to the front steps. Then from the front steps of the apartment to across the street, in the park, under the tree.

Not everyone complained. Even three years later, a few residents would still grab their morning brew, open their windows and sit on their ledges waiting for the sunrise to be welcomed by Zuraw’s melodies. Not one of Zuraw’s audience would ever start their day blue listening to his music.

Marilyn’s eyes closed and Zuraw smiled. He knew he chose the right song this morning. When Marilyn was big and lumbering he knew she needed to sleep, so he chose a simple tune, a lullaby to ease Marilyn’s mind. The day would proceed much better that way.

Swaying to the music, Marilyn eased herself down bending first her hind legs and then the front, gracefully lowering her silver wrinkled body into the sweetly dewed grass.

Zuraw swayed with the wind curling through the trees branches. And Moe, leaning back against the window ledge from across the street, watched the steam from his coffee rise and sway into the new dawn.

From all accounts, it would be a good day.




Author’s Note:

We meet Sunday to write.

I started a group for writers at my church, A Church of the Holy Family, ECC. We meet every Sunday afternoon from 4:00 – 5:30. Hence the name, Sunday Afternoon Writers.

Everyone is welcome. Sometimes it’s easier to explain what we don’t do. We don’t come to critique our writing, red pens in hand.

We come to write – whatever we want. I supply a prompt. Writers choose to use it all, part of it, or none. We write for half an hour and then we share. If writers prefer not to share, it is honored.

There is a presence when everyone writes in the quiet, without noise, without talking. There is an energy and a vitality that feeds the soul. And when we share, we are sharing a part of our hearts and our lives and that is deeply honored.

This is what writing is all about.




My piece above is from last Sunday’s prompt. I supplied the photo below. Unfortunately there was not artist given on the Facebook page where I found it. If you know, please comment below and I will add gladly add the attribution for this lovely work.

We each started with a small piece of paper without seeing the photo. The first thing we wrote was the name of a color. Then we passed the slip of paper to our left. Next we wrote a name from our childhood and passed the paper again. We repeated the process writing down a place, an ice cream flavor, and a feeling/emotion. One last pass to the left and we turned the paper over to find this photo:


We then wrote for half an hour.

These were my words: blue, Marilyn Zuraw, Costa Rica, Moose Tracks, blue