Home Away from Home

Randy could see nothing exceptional in this man—a man at least twice their age. This made no sense for a survivor.

He slowly kicked open wide the driver’s door, his heart pounding against the constraints of veins. He tried to wet his lips with a dry tongue. What he wanted was a smoke. He’d quit tobacco three years ago and there was no one in the motel parking lot to bum a cigarette from anyhow. Continue reading

Sweetly Sentenced

From behind, she snatched the soda pop can out of his hand with urgency enough to spray his clothes and the back of the couch.

“You know you can’t have regular colas—” She caught sight of the empty Drumsticks® wrapper on the end table. The pitch of her voice climbed. “Ice cream?”

She faced him. “You’re a diabetic. This stuff will kill you.”

He gripped in his fist the candy bar he’d opened before his wife’s unexpected return from errands. The chocolatey guts squished from between his fingers.

She stood back and crossed her arms, glaring as if he were her child. “What, have you got a death wish?”

He glanced away.

©2015 Sandra R. Davidson (Image)
deepfriedmars

Double Glazed

“It’s my job, Rick.”

“Whoa, they laying you off?”

“Nah, I’m good, I’m good.” James took a drag from the fresh espresso. “I’m on the phone with a person for a minute, two max—except today. Today I get a 20-minute window into this couple’s life. He puts me on speaker phone and walks around the house. This woman’s voice comes on. They’re laughing together trying to get the motion detector apart. The guy finally manages it and she’s, like, cheering.”

Rick nods in the slow quiet between them.

“I could use me some cheering.”

©2015 Sandra R. Davidson (Image)

Really? Labels on Psychology Today

Beyond YourselfMental health issues have come a long way from being covered up by family or applying the label, “nutcase.” Labeling reduces people to objects, convenient as the phrases may be.

Psychology Today is the last place I would expect the use of derogatory labels such as “crazy.”

Here is a list of the instances of crazy in the article by Donna Jackson Nakazawa.

Paragraph 1: “…[someone] simply acts crazy in ways that confound us…”
Suggestion: Drop the word crazy.

Paragraph 3: “How can we stop feeling embroiled in other people’s craziness?”
Suggestion: The word behavior would be a suitable substitute for “craziness,” though I can think of other alternatives.

Item 11: “…to prevent a crazy-making altercation…”
Suggestion: Slightly less succinct would be, to prevent an altercation that leaves us with distressing thoughts.

Item 14: “…who’s driving you crazy…”
Suggestion: How about, who’s become the center of your thoughts.

Also, I ask, “Who is behind the wheel driving? And why isn’t it you to begin with?” That could be another article in itself. I suspect there is more than one side of the equation that needs to address mental health.

Postscript: From the point listed in response to paragraph 3 [“How can we stop feeling embroiled in other people’s craziness?”], are we conveniently turning away from recognizing others require help? We likely are not the person to help them; however there are many ways to foster connections between the person in need and persons who can offer help.

Sandra R. Davidson

Young

YA friend of mine is one of the youngest people I know. She’s also hovering around age 70.

Simply contagious. It is as if all the extra protons attach themselves to nearby electrons, even those of strangers.

Gregarious ought to be her middle name. She drives from the north to the south borders of the west coast and east a ways too. She teaches anyone who has an eye for artful craft. This is an annual odyssey. People remember her–hard not to–and return each year to see what new product she has brought along.

With her there is no pretentiousness. She has no patience for thoughtless people yet she will spend all the time it takes to teach a child who expresses interest in crafts. Adults too when she senses sincerity.

There will come a day arthritis claims the dexterity of her fingers; it is already working its way to the bones. I expect she may become road weary. If not, the financial hassles of buying, selling, tracking earnings and reporting taxes may erode her enthusiasm.

Hard to imagine her confined to fewer road trips. Harder still to know she may not visit each year on her pilgrimage.

So I steep in her company when she is here, phone and email between. And wish, fervently wish I had met her so much sooner.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Trail

TI know she’ll be hungry. She’s inexperienced enough to fire a rifle while standing—on a hillside. She chanced a kill with no way to haul it. I boggle.

I’ve been two days and three nights puzzling. Okay, worrying. If a person has so little experience with the essentials of sustenance, how will she manage her own bandages? Shelter likely is an issue. Does she have something safe to eat?

With the venison smoked at different camps, the tanning of the hide was underway. Always on the move.

“April, I feel compelled to find this girl…woman.”

“You think it wise given her attitude?”

“Her inexperience might take her life.”

“Trying to find her might cost us our lives. If she has access to one gun, she probably has access to more.”

She has a point. I thought it through during the nights of worry. “We’ll have to take that chance.”

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Off Theme: Response to Poetry and Social Media

I’ll cut away from the April A to Z theme for a hmmer I’ve just had. Join me?

I read Fox Chase Review’s entry Poetry and Social Media:

“How does a well-crafted poem fit into social media? …poets write poetry because it is who they are and no matter what changes there are…the poet will always write.”

You don’t have to be a hermit to know how the social habit of publishing is seemingly counter to the cocoon of writing. I’ve asked myself similar questions and considered how reclusive the writing/publishing process was a hundred years ago compared with today. If your feet aren’t pounding it out to the public, it won’t fly.

Okay. I dragged my heels on creating a blog. What is one more web page out of millions? Who hasn’t said what there is to say in one format or another? (I am adept at talking myself out of just about any form of “public,” aren’t I?)

Got to be pebbles here…A few of my favorite poets plopped their poems right to the public online, in their blogs. My jaw hit the floor. I questioned existence as I knew it and wondered if we as a species could ever go back to non-instantaneous pleasure. The “I want it for free!” decades. Give it to them once and they don’t want to pay for it, which means seiving an ocean of practiced communication to gather pebbles of poetry.

More than a few conversations with writers and readers. All the same considerations of “will physical books disappear?” We’re still wringing our hands and trying things both ways.

You decide. No, really, you will decide with your dollars and participation.

I have switched from clicking private or friends-only on everything I post or email. If I have something to say, I must want to make sound.

Our words are finite. Our lives are finite. The days of capability dwindle. It is difficult to find your calling, which I haven’t, only after the primary skill it requires no longer functions well. Model making and needlework, those fine motor skills evaporate with arthritis and macular degeneration.

Three good friends routinely remind me: Whatever you have to give, you give it.

Writing anything well is serious work though the treatment of a subject and the intended response needn’t be bleached-bone still.

I hope not. If so, I’ve bored someone to death. Not much could be worse.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson (<<I always forget this part. Is it even necessary??)

The Switching Station

SMy grandparents lived near an overpass beneath which a half dozen pairs of railroad tracks form a train yard, a switching station. This is where cars hitch up from one route to another, one engine to another.

It is a relatively quiet dance given the massive amounts of metal being shoved around. When the small town traffic and the highway noise reach a low, the steel wheels and rails sing. This became a lullaby of my childhood to which I fought sleep.

I returned at a point in my life when insomnia and had taken over my nights while confusion and sadness were starving me, literally. In three and a half weeks I had lost 32 pounds and could no longer keep water in my stomach. I didn’t feel and I didn’t care.

The first night, sleep wouldn’t come. I sat on the cement steps my grandfather had poured years before I was born; I fretted. I felt hollow of body and spirit. I felt a calm come on. It took some time to recognize the haunting lullaby still sings.

I slept.

The morning brought familiar smells and tastes at the table in my grandparents’ one-person kitchen. I ate some. During the day I ate the morning’s refrigerated ham between a room temperature biscuit. I sipped Southern sweet iced tea my grandmother kept refrigerated in what was once a one-gallon, glass pickle jar.

By the time I boarded the flight to Portland, Oregon, I felt physical relief. I was unsure what might have happened while I was in California. Sleep and time away helped me hold to the calming lullaby of the switching station.

Three children, my father lost to cancer left the two siblings. Eight grandchildren, one memorialized, and then great grandchildren. After 50 years of Grandma and Grandpa’s, we all mourned the day their home sold and they moved to another house.

Gone the scent of an old King James Bible read aloud in my grandmother’s cadence; the bounty of the garden my grandfather kept watered and weeded; the sight of their neat rows of multicolored canning jars on shelves beside his steel coffee cans filled with nuts, bolts and the aroma of WD-40.

The two-lane highway we used to cross to get to church three times a week is now two in each direction with the center turning lane bringing the count to five. Traffic never reaches a low.

I’m certain the wheels and rails still sing in the din.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Periphery

PShe was forgettable in a handy way. Quiet, she wore unremarkable clothing in analogous colors. Neutral hair of medium length, neutral skin, no beauty marks or tattoos. Her posture wasn’t open or closed, just demure, accepting. Her eyes were on the path or whatever was just below another person’s clear view of her face.

She was the new kid in high school—a sophomore—in a town of fewer than 500 people. The males were sharks, circling for a couple of weeks before deciding she wasn’t much of a thang. The females seemed not to notice her.

Heaven, though, don’t let her smile. I mean, she had a closed-lip smile that failed to reach open eyes and left her head in the down-nod position. In that sense, she smiled constantly.

The first snowy day of school, everyone took off their shoes at the wide entry hall. What a picture that made! She followed the lead of the more experienced and added her shoes. By this time, the hallway to the classrooms was a riot of bodies run-sliding in their socks. More hilarity than injury.

She picked up her backpack and stepped away from the door onto the heated floor. Her chin lifted to share surprised green eyes, and her smile bloomed. Transformed, transfixed, she hadn’t even noticed I was watching. I was always watching, curious.

Her toes wriggled inside her socks. The building was heated from below. Her brightness spontaneously spilled at random times during that first snow day.

As much as she wished, she couldn’t return fully to the periphery of attention. What is seen cannot be unseen, much to my delight.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Author’s note: This is my fourth attempt at the letter P for the April A to Z writing prompt. Certainly not because I was displeased with the writing of the first three; however, each of the three became too intense to post.