Once upon a time, there was a damsel in a red dress
the young prince jealous of all the dashing penguins
surrounding her, courting the lady with words, fancying themselves
new Byrons, and one in every crowd, a Bukowski in tights
catching her eye
She wasn’t much to look at in the midday sun, but when the shadows were cast across the folds of her dress, he would turn his head, his eyes soft and lost in daydreams of what could be done with such a woman
Knowing that the nights, such as they were, were payment for days of ludicrous loss they would never see coming, the wars fought without swords, inflicting wounds that would never heal, festering fathoms of ache
Allowed one indulgence, one glorious night under the moon, wrapped up in her tresses, the rising sun giving away the messes of what would be their great romance, a lifetime in one night, an ending before they were ever begun.
sailing through cherry blossom days
and crème brûlée nights
she wasn’t going to lay down her arms
for a mere brat of a boy
saving up her trinkets for later
giving him all her daydreams
and night sweats
he did not know the tango
but they moved through summer
amid a soundtrack of Ravel
all second thoughts
stuffed under the mattress
back in the town onto which
they shook the clay from their shoes
all their dues, paid
if you took into account
their mothers’ latent wishes
and the fears of their fathers
Jeopardy question: When is it ‘too little, too late’?
In 1989 I met a family that a year later I would become a part of. I had come from a place and family from the mid-west U.S. and was about to enter a very American-European family on the east coast. I was insecure about fitting into a family. Put me in a room with 30-100 strangers and I was the life of the party. Put me in a living room with 15 folks that were about to welcome me as sister, daughter, etc, and I had utter stage fright.
I came from a family where I had not hugged anyone in years, except a side arm hug at the airport and a bear hug from my mother who had longed for that for years herself. I entered a house where every face was kissing me and every arm was hugging me. But I still felt outside. Why?
I didn’t know how to express affection that way. I wanted it, but I was afraid of it. I questioned their motives, I assumed they didn’t accept me. Didn’t like me.
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?
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.