Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Joy Comes Late

Georgina saw the younger woman enter the shop and felt as if God had just blessed her with a gift. It seemed to the elderly lady that the whole store brightened, lit by the blond hair and pale skin and delicate frame of the woman; though Georgina thought she looked sad, with her solemn expression and downcast eyes.

The woman didn’t see Georgina, nor did she make eye contact with anyone in the shop. She went straight to the sales rack and riffled through until she pulled out a plain blue skirt, then wandered to the blouses, fingering the material and examining price tags, finally selecting a white short sleeved, button up blouse and a light blue cardigan. As if she knew exactly what she was looking for, and no need to look any further.

The elderly woman ducked behind a clothes rack as the blond one passed her on the way to the fitting room. She slipped out of the store as the other went to try on her clothes, then positioned herself so she could see the sales counter, yet not be seen herself.

Georgina fidgeted with her purse, fluffed her hair in nervous anticipation and found herself struggling with emotions she’d thought long laid to rest. Her heart beat erratically, feeling as if the dead had been raised to life and was even now heading straight towards her, full of life and energy and totally unaware of the chaos she’s wrought within the old lady’s memories.

Georgina had always been bold, not one to let opportunity slip by and so she moved quickly, following the girl just to the mall door, then called out, tremulously.

“Virginia?” Her pulse raised and her heart seemed to constrict when the other woman turned towards her. “Yes, it is you! Oh, Virginia!  I would know you anywhere. Why, it’s like looking in a mirror at myself, forty years ago!”

“Nana?” It was said in the barest of whispers, the blue eyes widening in recognition, and for the barest of moments a glimmer of warmth shone from them, only to be replaced with steely ice and cold reserve.

“No!” She turned away from the elderly woman, her body ridged, tensed. “No! I’m sorry, but I have nothing to say to you. Excuse me.” Virginia turned away, but Georgina moved quickly, need propelling her forward, cutting off the exit the younger woman would have taken.

“Is that right?” Anger, and grief, strengthened Georgina’s voice. “You’ve nothing to say to your Grandmother, whom you haven’t seen or spoken to in twenty-five years? Why are you here?”

“That’s none of your business. I didn’t come to see you.”

“No. I’m sure you didn’t. But here we are. Could you not spare just ten minutes to sit and talk with me?” She hated that she felt the need to beg.

“And talk about what, Nana? How you drove my mother away and broke my father’s heart? How you… “ Her voice broke on a web of emotion, and she clutched the bag with her new clothes hard against her chest like a shield.

Two teenage girls brushed past them, chatting unconcernedly and letting a warm breeze filter in through the door as it opened and closed behind them.

Neither woman moved, as if frozen in time.

Georgina swallowed the lump in her throat, knowing that this may be her only chance to say the words and bridge the gulf that had separated them for so long. “I know that’s what you think. George must have thought it too, else why move so far away, so soon after Gloria left? But I was not to blame, Virginia. I only wanted your mother to get help, not to abandon her family.”

“I was there, Nana. I heard what you said to her. ‘You’re no good to them,’ you said, ‘you’re not a fit mother’ and ‘you’re not a fit wife’. I heard you!”

“Yes. God help me, I did say those things. And it was the truth. She was not a good mother…”

“But she was my mother!”

“And all I wanted was for her to get help. Twenty-eight days, Virginia, that’s what I suggested. As God is my witness. Twenty-eight days. She could have gotten the help she needed and come back to us.” The tears spilled over, the words caught in her throat. “I loved her too.”

“I don’t believe you. She would not have just left me.”

“I’ll not malign your memories of her. Either you don’t remember what it was like or you were unaware; which, given how young you were, seems more likely. But your father’ll remember. You ask him”

Her heart ached, and she could barely speak now through the tears that fell freely. She wiped at the tears with a finger, then reached out and stroked the younger woman’s face before turning away. “You ask him,” she said, opening the door, “and if it makes a difference in how he remembers, please have him call me.”

It was the hardest thing she’d ever done, Georgina thought, leaving her granddaughter behind.



“Virginia?” The voice on the other end of the line emanated concern, “What’s wrong, honey? Where are you”

“I’m in my hotel room. Remember? I told you I had to go to Walnut Creek for business. Daddy, I…. I saw Nana today.”

“Nana? You saw Nana? Where? Why?” Was that anger she heard in his voice?

“Oh, it’s a long story. I flew in this afternoon, but the airlines lost my luggage and I needed to find an outfit to wear to work tomorrow, and she was there, at the mall and she said…”

“You saw Nana at the mall?” He sounded puzzled, obviously not connecting the dots to the story she was telling.

“Yeah. She was there, and she recognized me and she stopped me and wanted to talk.”

“And what did she say?” It was definitely anger and it made her feel as if she had somehow betrayed him for even speaking to his mother. A woman he had disowned over twenty-five years ago. A woman she had loved, and desperately missed, especially after her own mother had disappeared from her life.

“I didn’t want to talk with her. I told her it was her fault that Mom split on us and she said that she was only trying to help.”

“To help!” He laughed with bitter sarcasm, “How was convincing my wife that she had screwed up our lives supposed to help?”

“She said she only meant for her to go away for twenty-eight days. She said I wouldn’t remember what it was like, but you would and that I should ask you. Dad? Did mom have a problem with drugs? Or alcohol?”

“Oh, honey. No!”

“She did, didn’t she? I remember coming home some days and the house would be a mess and she’d be sleeping on the couch and I couldn’t wake her up. I remember! You used to argue all the time and she’d leave and not come home until late at night. You were so angry with her, and so was Nana. That’s why Nana said what she said, isn’t it? ‘You’re not a fit mother.’ Well, maybe she wasn’t.”

Virginia fingered the ring on her finger, thinking of her boyfriend and the grief his brother had caused to so many people. “Why did we blame Nana all these years, Dad? It’s no different than Justin’s brother, David. Always lying and stealing so he could buy his drugs, then promising he wouldn’t do it any more once the drugs were gone and he was no longer high. But David got help, didn’t he? He went to one of those programs, a twenty-eight day program, if I remember rightly!”

“No,” her Dad’s voice had grown quiet, contemplative. “No. She was doing better, she didn’t need ‘help,’: as Nana liked to call it.”

“You know what, Dad? You sound just like Justin’s mother! I’m sorry, but you do. She never wanted to believe that David was to blame for his own problems, she was blind to his addiction and the trouble he caused.”

“Oh come on, sweetheart. You know that Nana never liked Gloria, and she never tried to hide it. She was always putting Gloria down, telling her how she should keep the house or learn to cook. It was Nana’s fault that Gloria left.”

“I don’t believe that, Dad. Not anymore. I think Nana truly loved Mom, at least for our sake. I can only imagine what it must have felt for her when we left too. At least we had each other. She had no one!”

“So what? Are you saying we abandoned her, like your mother abandoned us?”

“Yeah, Dad. It kind of seems that way. Maybe we needed someone to blame for our hurt and we took it out on Nana.”


“Hello?” Georgina answered the phone, her heart full of joy when the voice on the other end asked:


This story was written in response to a short story challenge, the prompt "Joy", 1500 word count exactly.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Daily Writing Prompt 9/4/15

Write the saddest scene you can think of between a little boy and a little girl. Except it's the first time they've ever met.

The little girl gladly took the ice cream cone from the man behind the counter, admiring the single, hand-scooped cone as she turned away. She barely noticed the little boy who was next in line, although it registered that he ordered the same flavor as she did.

Rocky Road was her favorite, and she took a small lick, and then another. But the next lick dislodged the scoop of chocolatey goodness and there was nothing she could do to stop the ice cream from falling to the floor.

The boy had just paid for his cone, and witnessed the whole scene. Feeling sorry for the pretty girl, he gallantly offered his own cone to her, heroically trying to stop her tears and bring a smile to her captivating eyes.

"Oh,thank you," she replied, "but I just couldn't." But her eyes spoke the lie as she hungrily gazed at his cone.

"But I insist," the boy was raised to be polite and generous, and he smiled in delight when she accepted.

She would have liked to pay him back, or buy him a cone as well, but she had used all her money with her own cone. She took the cone from the boy, thinking him the cutest boy she'd ever seen, and at his prompting she gave the cone a lick.
The boy, happy with himself, but sad that he didn't have any more money himself, watched as she licked the ice cream, once, and then again.

She smiled at him, and took one more lick. But then, again, to her utter dismay and disbelief, she did it again! The sound of the ice cream plopping on the floor was the saddest sound either of them had ever heard.

Horrified, she burst into tears, but this time there was nothing the little boy could do to help, and, feeling rather lousy as this turn of events, he felt his own eyes well up with tears.

Of course, not being able to end a story on such a sad note, I should tell you that the man behind the counter gave the little boy and the little girl each their own Rocky Road ice cream cone, as well as one for himself, and proceeded to give them a lesson on the proper way to lick an ice cream cone.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Daily Writing Prompt 8/26/15

"Whatdy want to do now, Maisy?"
"Let's go down to the crik and git some crawdads?"
"But yer mama don't like us to git wet an' dirty."
"Then we just got to be careful a'n not git wet, Laney."
"But how do you not git wet gitten crawdads?"
"I don' know, but we cin try!"

Friday, July 24, 2015

Daily writing prompt 7/24/15.

Write about a deserted city. Use all five senses to describe the scene

Sunlight reflected off shattered windows, shards of glass crunching under my boots. The road was deserted, as were each and every building I had gone into since entering the city. There was no sign of life anywhere. The only thing moving, other than myself, were these little pieces of paper, swirling, tornado-like in tight little circles among the cars and busses and bicycles left abandoned in the streets. The sound of the wind whistled eerily as it shrieked through the broken windows; eerie because it was the only noise in what should be a bustling city. I snatched one of the papers as it fluttered near; it was thick and stiff, and gritty in my fingers. My curiosity piqued as I read the words written there. I grabbed up several more of the papers, but when I realized they all said the same thing, my curiosity drained away and left only one emotion in its place. Fear.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

By the sea - daily writing prompt 7/14/15

I jog across the empty beach, winded and looking for a place to catch my breath and enjoy a moment of solitude as reward for having just run three miles. Up ahead, I see what looks like an old abandoned dock, or maybe it’s a pier, made of roughhewn planks across railroad ties, and I make that my destination. I sit carefully on a jagged board, mindful not to get splinters on my bare legs, feeling the coolness of the wood and the morning breeze that shivers across my sweaty skin, raising goosebumps on my arms. The action of the waves breaking upon the shore is somewhat hypnotic, and I can tell that the tide is out, because the breakers are far away, and mostly what I hear is the susurration of the water as it creeps upon the wet sand, leaving brackish foam in its wake. The cry of a seagull rings across the sky, and I watch as it soars and circles and gracefully lands in the water, joining more of its kind, lazily floating and bobbing in a shallow outlet.
In the distance, I watch tanker ships making slow progress across the horizon, and I find myself entranced by the whitecaps dancing upon the surface of the sea, whipped in to frothing motion by the ever rising wind, which carries the scent of salt and brine. And then my stomach growls with hunger, reminding me that I have not yet eaten this morning, and I think how lovely a nice hot cup of coffee would be right now; and with thought, I push off and begin my return jog, back the way I had come.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

And I Dance

What am I doing here? I don't even like ballet! Night after night, the same routine, the same costumes, the same stage; the same, the same, the same! And then, here I am. On stage. The familiar racing of my heart as adrenaline surges through my body, and I barely have time to register the hush of the crowd as the lights dim and we take our places. The music and the dancing begins, and I am caught up in the motion and there is no more time to think, only to dance; and I forget, for the moment, that I hate ballet. And I dance...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Daily Writing prompt 6/2/15

The sun was warm against her skin, the damp sand cool under her bare feet. She walked slowly, contemplating the immensity of the ocean and the timeless repetition of the waves as they crashed upon the beach; like tears of sorrow that faded into memories and turned, in time, to acceptance and finally to joy. She gathered little bits of brightly colored stones and shells as she walked, thinking of the years that had passed, and the miscarriages; the lost children denied to her, though they had lived, briefly, in her dreams. They had grown older and wiser, these unborn children, who surfaced like the tide; ebbing and flowing from her consciousness with the tide of her hormones. One day they might form a vivid and sorrowful memory, like a clock ticking their names in her heart; another day they might be a distant, disconnected image of someone else’s children playing cheerfully in the park. They were like the stones that she gathered, these memories; and she thought perhaps it was time to let them go. One by one, she set them down in the sand; the stones and shells representing lost dreams, lost hopes. She contrasted them as she placed them: bright, dark, colorful, dull, light, bright, dark, colorful, dull, light, bright and so on, deliberately forming the shape in the sand. When the last stone was placed and she stood back to view it, the heart shape stood out in hard contrast to the softness of the sand, a portrayal of her love; a bearing of her soul. When at last she turned away there was peace in her heart and a smile forming on her face, for there was her husband sitting nearby with his grown daughter, and a child, laughing and running straight towards her calling for “Grammy” to come and play!