(written for Jenny Lind, a character in one of my stories
as I’ve been fleshing out the character in twitter)
Don’t you know girl this defeat never stays that long, taking
two rooms in your house, dense and impermeable
every sadness now is just the mortar between the bricks
the glue that keeps all the memories from flying about
In your pink world, you make everything possible
and when he knocked you flat, you thought you were through
but these are changeable times and they pass
not only the good but the bad times too they go
So tie up your hair in a satin bow and sing with me
let’s sing about your sweet cakes and the friends you seek
shall we sing of grief and soft desires, or shall we
burn up on the fire all the memories to make way for new
Come evening they sit in the front room–
he with his chamomile and she has her crossword
puzzle on her lap. She swears when she makes a mistake in ink
The phone rings across the room. She coughs.He turns his head once,
but does not get up. She claims that she can tell
it is a telemarketer by the tone
“Is there any beer?”
She continues working on 23 down, not answering.
“Is there any beer?”
“There is no beer.” She writes in the answer.
The clock strikes 8.
she puts down the puzzle.
“Meet you there?”
“Well it is Monday night.”
“So it is. Did you?”
“Yes, of course.”
She stands in the doorway in crimson.
She typically wears only black, but
had promised to always wear his favourite color red on Mondays.
“A new one. Lace?”
they lie very still, he on his side and she on her back,
smoking. He makes a pretense of coughing.
“Your hair looks like satin in this light.”
“And you look like the boy I met on the train.”
“Was that 1988?”
“You know it was.”
“Best day ever.”
Smoke rings at the ceiling speak of it.
She sits cross-legged on the bed
while he brushes her hair. Every few strokes
he leans forward and speaks directly into her ear, whispering
“I love Mondays.”
“Did you say you bought roses?”
“Red ones, two dozen”
“Where are they?”
“I saw you were home and ran in quickly. They must be in my car.”
She lies on her side and he on his back. She pushes
a shock of hair off his forehead with a delicate gesture.
He closes his eyes.
“Let’s lay here until Tuesday.”
She remembers when the water was like diamonds
and she’d been dreaming about sparklers ever since
Cinderella with her magic fairy auntie
brought to light the possibility of lurking princes
She took off while he was working, packing
five t-shirts, as many pairs of Levi’s
and a red dress into her graduation luggage
still with the tags on, the air moist and oppressive
Starting off somewhere in the middle of the states
flipping a coin she headed west, not stopping
til the water was salty as her skin
her elbow jutting out the window, tan as walnuts
No one there to tell her to turn it down, she
blasted Guns N’ Roses, her hair
a storm about her head, her phone ringing
on the hour until she threw it out the window
I reached into my pocket and felt around for the shorty, a cigarette I put out under my boot when I had to duck into the butcher. I lit it.
The tip went cold and I shifted packages to one side awkwardly. A hand under my elbow held it steady while another brought ’round a match.
“Thank you green eyes, ” I said, and smiled, dropping the package of chops at his feet. “You saved me. I needed this smoke.”
We both bent for the package at once, bumping heads. I burned his neck with the cigarette, and dropped it.
Standing still, I let him pick it up for me, but instead of handing it to me, he put it under one arm and took my other packages as well. “Was that your last?” he asked.
“Yes. I smoked so many at a pub last night,” I said, wondering why I told this to a stranger. He started walking with my packages and my heels skipped over pavement to catch up.
Inspector Iris Cooper and young officer David Martínez took in the house before them. All the legends, myths, warnings, and mythos surrounding this place threatened to interfere with their experience and good judgement. From the icing on the roof to the gumdrop trim and doorknobs, Iris’ mind went back to childhood, to all the dreams of sugar her mother wouldn’t let her have, and jealousy of her schoolmates with more permissive parents. She inhaled the deep scents of cinnamon and cocoa, pulling on a pair of blue gloves, and reaching for the doorknob.
The screen door is open and I walk in. Jeremy likes it open so I don’t nag anymore. I smell spaghetti. He cooked? I hear his voice and call out to him. He walks out of the den as if he has not heard me, his hand resting at the small of the back of a blonde who looks familiar. Is she Jack’s teacher? I duck around the corner. I want to catch him in the act. I am furious when I see my favourite red pumps dangling from her fingers, as they walk through the kitchen and out the door. He closes and locks it and I run out the side way to watch from around the garage. They take off in -presumably-<em> her</em> burgundy BMW and I grab my bike and hop on, hurrying to keep abreast of where they are headed. They don’t go far, turning off the side entrance of the old arboretum where we used to walk. I am crushed. Why would Jeremy cheat on me?
They sat together and talked while the clouds couldn’t decide whether to be dark or white, changing and dancing in their indecision of midday. She would say, ‘I think it will rain,’ and look for her umbrella in the bag though she knew damn well she did not pack it. He would lean back and watch her shoulders move with her emotions, straight and soldier’d when content, shaking, when she laughed at his jokes, then later, sagging under the knowledge of what was taking place. The day was heavy for her, but not to him, because she had not told him in advance. It was a picnic. It was sandwiches cut into rooftops with potato chips and red grapes in zip-lock baggies. It was a checkered tablecloth on the grass, still damp with May when one leaned with an elbow, feeling the earth depress.
As I am one of the three people in the world that does not use a cell phone, I am going to toss this question out to you. I’m working on a story and this dude is 38 and doesn’t pay attention to trends, or hang out on the internet. He has an older phone that he uses only for a phone. I first wrote it in 2013 and said he used a Blackberry. Does anyone still use a Blackberry? Do they still function? Might they still a year from now (when this book might get published)?
What would be the oldest functioning phone he might use still? Any suggestions? I’d really appreciate it. I have no clue about these things and I don’t want it to sound stupid.
Your two cents is requested-
Blondes have more fun, some people say. It’s all fine and good until someone gets hurt.
(an excerpt of a work in progress)
Jorie was always putting out fires. It was not the way she had envisioned her life but here it was in her lap. If it wasn’t her children, it was her husband. If it wasn’t her husband and children, it was herself, lost in a burning house and trying to get to the ground floor. How would she see daylight again without getting burned? There was always this sort of negotiation. How many burns could she stand to live with? Counting the cost, always giving up something. Trade-offs.