February, Not Yet March

I haven’t seen anyone trapped under the ice today. For this I am grateful. The dim midwinter light filters in through the window, reluctant and winsome as I return from my daily stroll through the woods, looking for anything out of the ordinary. Fear shoots through my limbs as I ponder the plight of those in the ice, frozen until their rescue. Perhaps I have only imagined them and their presence, perhaps I will find them roaring back to life once the calendar sheds another month.

Their situation was hideous as blue hands pounded the ice from the underside and I was obliged to go inside their world. It makes me hot and cold all at once, but I know that whatever comes, I will be given what I need to complete the task.

I stare to the ceiling, and see only a whisper of snow gliding past the ghostly windows. It is not yet time. I close my eyes and descend into the fevered dream once more.


A Mutual Gift

The saying informs us to keep one’s friends close and enemies closer. She had one friend and one enemy. The latter lived one floor above her in the crazy brownstone they call home. On the other hand, the friend she had was great, the most loyal and caring ally for which one could hope. In short, she had everything. And yet there was a deep place in the recesses of her heart where she had nothing. It was a decent parallel, she supposed, to the friend and enemy balance.

She had no past. As if by design, she was an enigma. Faint mentions of a shade of a something, floating through the air like the phosphorescent cloud that it was colored in the details that could satisfy most curious minds. Her background in music and theater, dance and writing. How she was born in a better place but exiled. How she was born healthy but was taken down systematically, as if reduced to ashes. However, out of the ashes, a new person had risen like a phoenix. She was a person of the moment without much to hold her to any singular time or place. She was ageless. Young, very young, while older than expected.

Those who were accepting would be loved forever. They literally had no idea how much it touched her, running deeply into the seat of her soul that she was not an outsider among them. They had not even seen her, so she decided to finally show herself to them.
The elegant building, more art installation than brick and mortar, was crowded that night with men and women in fine dresses and suits hovering about, the tinkling of their champagne glasses mingling with the ubiquitous hum of conversation. At one table they sat, not expecting anyone who had not appeared on the guest list to join them. But then there was a brief break in the buzzing as they turned to see a lone figure walking away from the entrance and toward the tables. One of them murmured that the stranger’s dress was hauntingly familiar, the kind of question that lingers without resolution. It was a black skater minidress with a nearly open back, daring yet fitting the glamour of the night. The figure walked in smooth steps, nothing halting or hitching, causing the spectators to draw their eyes downwards to her feet, where one might expect to see a dramatic pair of stilettos. Instead, she wore a pair of soft leather flats in bright fuchsia. Turning toward the bar, she nodded slightly toward the watching table.

They began to talk at once, not unkindly but curiously. Where had they seen her before? Why was it that in her steady gaze, they imagined themselves looking into the eyes of someone so achingly familiar? What was it that drew them to her? They began to sense something calming, peaceful and enthusiastic in their midst, and there was no denying that it was because of her.

But like the phosphorescent light, she was gone.

She was undoubtedly satisfied with being so near, yet so far. It was a mutual gift. Were she made of flesh and bone instead of unfulfilled wishes, she could have joined them at the table. But she was not. She was formulated from heartbreak leading to a counterintuitive sort of freedom, the gleeful futility of someone with nothing left to lose. With nothing on the line, it was easy to enjoy.

Images And Intuition

This is part of my point of view exercise, taking someone else’s story and telling it through first person point of view. Hope you enjoy! xx

One weekend in 1980, I went to the movies by myself. It was freeing just to get out of the house in this strange town to which I’d been moved not even a year ago. A new movie starring an actress I’d loved in the seventies was playing. Both the star and the show in which she’d acted, set in a television station, reminded me of the place I had left. I was still achingly homesick for my friends, and decided that the movie might take my focus off my loneliness for a couple of hours. My husband was working, as usual. My three-year-old daughter was spending the weekend with my parents. It was just me. How I craved the anonymity and freedom of going wherever I wished.

The downtown looked so empty when compared to the city, but it had a bit of charm which i discovered inside theater’s lobby. It was old and vintage, predating the ones I’d grown up with as a child.

I was engrossed in the film when I noticed one of the characters, a teenage girl, tall with dark hair and large eyes. I instantly thought of my little daughter and suddenly imagined her looking much like this teenager when she grew older. Then I smiled at the thought of what they were probably doing now, she and my parents. They were most likely either winding down a trip to the mall forty-five miles away or planning a new one. My little girl had inherited the shopping craze from my mother. In the city, it had been her favorite thing to do, although she had not yet been two years old when we still lived there.

When the movie was over, I continued to think about that image that came to mind earlier. My intuition was always practically flawless. Suddenly I felt a little less lonely with the future in my fantasies.

Don’t Talk About Me

“The song says something about not talking about me when I’m gone,” she whispered in his ear. “But I think that’s utter nonsense. Do talk, please,” she entreated.

He kissed her gently on the lips. “And you think the same of me,” he said as he looked up at the sky. Thunder and lightning were flashing wildly, giving rise to morose and solemn topics. It was as if nature was lighting a bonfire around which to tell scary stories.

“The roses in spring, the way the snow looks when it falls for the first time and my favorite songs,” she continued. “Talk, oh, just talk.”


She tried to open her eyes. The sleep had been one of cement, dragging her down into an abyss of oblivion, and it took a few seconds before fully awakening to focus on what was dream and what was real. Her eyelids were uncooperative, heavy and felt like they had been sealed closed with marble. But when she felt the slight pressure of someone squeezing her left hand, she opened them to see a pair of gentle brown eyes looking down at her.

“What? Where…”

“Hey, sweetie,” the woman’s voice crooned. “You’re home.”

Home? She swept the room with her eyes, but nothing looked familiar. As she propped herself up on one elbow, she remembered her dear friend’s voice and her eyes began to fill with tears. Could it be? Was it really happening now, after all this waiting?

“Do you mean?” The question floated away from her lips.

“Yes,” she answered, “you are home. There’s no going back for you. None, I promise.” She turned toward the door. “They’re coming, the others.”

One by one, they filed in, congratulating her and echoing the promise that she was not leaving.

The brown-eyed friend continued. “It was a long journey, but we made it.”

“No going back for you!” A second voice, belonging to a blonde girl at her right, said. “You’re one of us. You always were, but this is your home now. No worries, no worries…”

The tears of gratitude were quickly spilling down her face, and the two sisters at her sides wiped them away. “You’re home…”

Together, Forever

The bomb had shattered everything in the air it had touched; what once had been a marketplace was now covered in glass shards and death. One always heard the idea that the bomb falling directly from above was the one that went unheard, so death had come unexpectedly in an island of momentarily silent peace. Yet he held me, despite the cuts running down his handsome face. “Look at me,” he urged with insistence in his voice.

I tried. All things were rising and falling, as if I were on a boat, swimming in a sea of blurred colors.

“Look at me, look at me,” he repeated as the frantic notes in his voice was controlled, but present. “Just keep looking at me,” he begged.

My head began to droop to one side. He lifted it with his free hand, the one that was not supporting my back. My body felt heavy and everything was moving, and I couldn’t make my lips form the words vital to express myself. I wanted to speak to him, to let him know what I hadn’t said. I needed him to know, I forgave him, wanted him forever, as long as it would last for us, anyway.

“Please,” he continued.

I forced my lips into a bloody smile as I gazed at him. Sighing deeply, I shook my head.

“I love you,” I said. “I will love you… beyond forever.” I squeezed his hand, wishing for the strength to bring it up to my lips. I would kiss each finger, every knuckle. But life was leaving me.

He laid me gently in the floor and I imagined I was sinking into the first green grass of spring, perhaps at a picnic. “I love you,” I sighed again, but I could not hear his reply. My mind became jumbled with chess sets and airplanes and why a cloudless night was the coldest of the year. I saw iceboxes open and fireworks exploding and flowers budding in the snow, saw myself dancing with him in the rain, winding the Victrola and changing the record. And I knew I was sinking, sinking into the blanket of his love as my chest rose slower with each uneven and nearly forgotten breath. I saw him now and I had to make it my forever. I had to carry him with me wherever I went from this point on. Although I could no longer clasp his hand, I still felt him holding mine. It was so difficult to stay awake, and the images were coming faster. I’d missed my chance to sing to him, make love to him on the beach. These were the things I thought I had a lifetime with which to surprise him, but I had been wrong.

The chances for my unresolved wishes would never come again. I closed my eyes tightly despite his pleas to try to stay awake, making the last effort of a wish that I could remain with him forever. Screaming from outside interrupted my reverie and I tried to turn my head away from the renewed waves of crashing and falling. We were at once thrown backward, but all I saw were his eyes. They continued to be my anchor to everything right as I felt the rest of my strength leave my body. However, the greatest surprise was to find myself still looking at them when I learned that there really was soft spring grass under my back, without wounds, blood or bombs. Here, there was no more pain, despair or dying; just he and I together, forever.

Blueberry Heaven

I was born into my new environment in an embryo of an ensemble, flesh colored with flowers that grew like morning glories breaking ground in June. There was a dinner party at an upscale restaurant in a city mall, and I covered myself with the tablecloth out of mistaken imagination that the flesh garment stopped only at the torso. Upon discovering that the length of the organza like fabric stopped a few inches above my ankles, I let go and mingled among the guests.

At one table sat my grandparents and various aunts and uncles, all absorbed in lively conversation. A waitress strode over to the table with a tray containing a blueberry pie and two crystal champagne flutes, filled with a sparky aquamarine liquid.

“Here’s the blueberry pie and the blueberry champagne,” she said as she put the pie in front of me. My great aunt looked confused as the waitress placed the two champagne flutes in front of her. The waitress laughed as she realized her mistake and swapped the dishes. “Here you go,” she smiled with a cheerful tone in her voice. “Enjoy!”

I took the glass and swallowed the swirly berry colored champagne in one or two swallows and proceeded to do the same with the next flute. It was becoming stranger by the moment in the restaurant, because nothing felt out of place. It should have seemed very odd. I kept waiting for other people I knew to arrive, yet they never did. However, the conversations among those seated at the tables was of ordinary things. Gardens and neighbors and next Saturday. A loneliness crept into my being, but vanished at the sight of a few faces I remembered from the other place. It was as if the previous ten years hadn’t occurred. They encased me in tight hugs and I could feel their bones under my fingertips. Their voices danced above the swirl of the room. I wanted to safely climb inside them, clinging to the edges of all the places where they had been and I had not. I felt the sting of how much I missed them. Yet, the people I sought were nowhere in sight.

The next thing I knew, I noticed someone tugging on my sleeve and I was led down the empty mall corridor. As the other one and I traversed the various stores, I saw their excitement and exclaimed that once I’d been here long enough, I could forget all about that other place, whatever it was. It was seeping from my memory more and more with every second that I spent here. It was fuzzier, out of focus. Everything I had been or done before was wiped clean, as though it had only been a dream or imagination. This was all so much more real and lasting.

I started to run with mirth through those echoless halls until I found myself not inside at all, but on a tree-lined street. A pumpkin-colored house stood across the street from me. It looked familiar and felt inviting. A tall blonde came up beside me. It took me a long time to recognize her as the childhood friend I wasn’t given a chance to have in my life, in that other place.

“You’re going to get to see my children grow up!” She exclaimed as she enveloped me in a hug. “That’s yours,” she said as she pointed to the pumpkin house. I was filled with a joy that I had never felt in that other place. Then, she disappeared from sight, along with the house and trees.

I then found myself in the yard of the house in which I’d lived in that other place. It was cold, dead and noiseless, until a small turquoise bubble car pulled up. I watched as an eighty-year-old woman got out and walked toward me. As she neared, an expression of sheer bliss came over her face. She ran faster and faster. The more she ran, the younger she appeared, until she was recognizable as my college friend who stopped at my home on the way back from spring break. As much unhappiness as living there had given me, she knew only happy memories. Suddenly, I knew what I must do to receive my pumpkin house.

I held the keys out to my friend. “It’s yours,” I said, and she gave me the biggest grin in all of heaven.

Then it, too, disappeared and I was back at the mall, sipping iced coffee with a new friend from the dinner party. We were within sight of the large glass entryway. I marveled at the beautiful colors that the sky was turning as night fell. It started a deep cerulean blue and morphed into inky, finally black. The pattern repeated endlessly, like a lava lamp. It was eternity and bliss, from which and I could only tear myself away because of one thought. The people I missed. I excused myself, pulled out my phone to find it fully powered, despite the time that had most certainly passed. But we were all energy and life, as long as I was touching it, my joy infused its battery, an exchange of this utopia and that other place. I dialed the numbers that were indelibly etched into my mind as I watched the changing sky.

Even though I could not make myself heard as I tried to speak to the living, I knew we wouldn’t be apart forever. This is forever, I knew, and nothing in that other place could come close to its blueberry wonder.


I toss and turn yet again, the sweat trickling down my neck. I have lost command of the words I want to use as I watch the dancing images flit in front of my closed eyes. She doesn’t want to panic me, but I already understand the severity of the situation. It is dark in my room, yet her hand finds me to brush the soaked hair away from my neck. My hair is inky and my skin is even more resembling of the drifts of snow outside, I am shaking. The only sounds in the room are the ticking of the wall clock and my strangled gasps.

I fall into a dream, but it doesn’t last long because by morning I cannot remember any of it but instead lie mercifully wrapped in nothingness. It is only punctuated by brief moments of semi-wakefulness. I cry because I cannot find my red shoes, but the fever has made me more than confused. What I might have seen on a picture or website has now transported itself to my closer in my world of delirium. But she is kind and immediately orders a pair for me to find if and when I awaken. The promised high storage iPad appears in the same way.

Although I am on fire, I dream of ice. People are tumbling through and I must catch them, five into that water to save a life, if I can manage. I want to try out of sheer necessity. Beneath the water, there is no putting my head down just in time for the first loss of consciousness. There is just swimming and rescuing, all that matters. I search for the word for round but end up making a shape with my fingers to express what my brain cannot.

When I am a little more awake after having drifted around in my mind before the darkness takes over, I realize that Saturday has turned into Tuesday. We watch movies, anything to occupy our time. Inching our way through my favorite series, she cries at the sight of another tall brunette writhing in pain and fever. After I have fallen asleep again, she turns it off, mumbling that she feels she is looking at two versions of me. It will be another week or too before I can stay awake for more than thirty minutes. It will be another month before the sudden faints have subsided.

But spring comes, it always manages to reappear.


Curled in my corner, I try to disappear into the music that blares over the stereo. I close my weary eyes and try to think of a better time, a time less cold and unpopulated. I blink to try to clear my focus, but it’s as it has been for at least five years, hazy and blurred and undefined.

I’m still here, I think, not that anyone will notice.

But maybe one day it will be different.

Preview of Story Collection: The Singing Contest

This is a sneak preview of my upcoming short story collection, Marble Halls.

I dedicate this entry to my sister Becca, who helped me regain my confidence in writing, without whom you would not be reading a single word here. Thank you. 

II. The Singing Contest

The contest was a thing of numbers. Out of sheer boredom, I entertained myself by counting the contestants in white dresses adorned with sashes. Then came the pairs of white suede ballet slippers chafing against the wooden floor, followed by the sounds of songs lined up to be accompanied by pieces in the orchestra. Once I was finished, I shook my head vigorously to try to free it of the mandatory oversized white silk ribbon. However, I only succeeded in making my shiny light brown hair a total mess. Even that aspect was monotonous and could be numbered. It was a wig, identical to those worn by every other contestant. We were a sea of conformity, which irritated me more with every passing second. After all, wasn’t music an art of self-expression? I moved a little more to try to dislodge the bow as I pondered the meaning of the contest. My motions in a crowd of stillness upset the handlers nearby to present us all as proper young women.

Not being twenty years old like the other contestants, I didn’t care to be a proper young woman. I just came to sing and be myself. I held a worn jazz book in my hands, paging through it as I waited. I turned my attention to the enormous cathedral style building in which we were sitting. It was pleasing to my eye because I liked contemporary things. It was a modern twist on traditional design with glass walls that rose up to meet a sharply pitched roof. As I craned my head back, once again disregarding the annoying bow, I watched each cloud in the early spring sky float by in their lazy flight. Like swimmers lounging on pool chaises and basking in the sun, they drifted with ease. I longed to do the same instead of wait inside in silent, stifled rows and lines. On its own, the building was a beautiful place full of echoes and capable of joy. However, on this day, it only held silence juxtaposed only by the hushed sounds of a pensive crowd. Where there could have been lively conversation, there was the occasional sigh. Instead of dancing, there was the shuffling of suede bottomed shoes in unquestioned complacency.

I stood up and stretched, raising one of the handler’s eyebrows. Not caring about the woman’s reaction, I casually sat back down, forgetting I still held my jazz book in open view. When the girl sitting next to me saw it, her eyes grew wide in alarm.

“You’re not using,” she shot a surreptitious glare at the book, “something on that order, are you?”

“It’s my favorite,” I declared in a regular volume, rather than a whisper, making echoes bounce off the glass walls. “Why not? It’s a singing competition, right?”

The girl nodded. “Yes,” she conceded with a forced smirk.

I returned her smile. “That’s what I thought.”

The day wore on, morning into afternoon with more forced silence, subtle shifting in seats and disapproving expressions directed at my book. Different contestants in their all-white ensembles averted their gazes, shook their heads or made saccharine criticisms on my choice of music. At some point, they finally garnered the attention of the handlers because one of them approached me with a stern and wary gaze.

“This is your material?” She asked in a voice full of ice.

“Yes, it is.” I held myself totally firm in stance and all else.

“Then we have a problem, young woman. No books are allowed, only single pages that can be contained within a folder.”

Undaunted, I nodded. “It’ll take me only a few minutes to correct that,” I said.

She seemed frustrated as she turned to walk back to the edges of the building, where the other handlers had assembled like a living fortress wall designed to keep away anything unfamiliar.

I reached into my purse for change, remembering the little convenience store I had passed on my way to the glass building. Excusing myself as I bumped into countless pairs of primly posed knees along the bench row to which I was assigned, I made my way to the aisle. Once I was free, I exited through the back door.

As soon as I was outdoors, I rejoiced in the refreshing burst of cool air as it met my face. It was the essence of freedom after being held to their standards and scrutiny all day long. I blinked in the sunlight, trying to orient myself. In a spring day that still held onto the last vestige of winter, the breeze grew colder and harsher upon the little drifts of snow in the emerging grass.

My dress whipped around my legs as I walked toward the store, having at once remembered its direction. It was on the edge of the surreal park-like area that housed the glass building. I made steady progress, despite the wind, opening its door for shelter.

At long last, I heard lively conversation for which I had longed since my arrival. People were milling around, buying things such as soft pretzels or hot dogs, paying for gasoline and sipping sodas at tables lining the windows. As I approached the counter, I noticed the attendant taking in my provincial outfit and snickering softly to himself.

Ever focused upon my purpose, I asked the question regarding the purpose for which I had come. “Can you please tell me if you have a copy machine?”

The attendant nodded wordlessly toward the area in back by the tables and the soda-sipping couples.

“Thank you!” I was off to the back, ignoring the stares of patrons as I quickly copied off my three selections. I tucked them tightly inside my book, in order not to lose them in the wind as I traversed the otherworldly park again. I glanced at the remnants of snow as I made my way back to the building.

Once inside, it was exactly as I found it in the beginning, quiet and inexpressive. At first, I contemplated moving in front of everyone whom I had previously climbed over for a second time. Instead, I took a seat at the end of the furthest bench in the building. The handlers stared at me as if I had done something outrageous.

One of them approached me. “You weren’t supposed to leave, and now you’re… disheveled.” Her facial expression added to the words of her discontent. “I suggest you go directly to the washroom and remedy this,” she added in a tone that was anything but a suggestion.

“Finally!” I couldn’t help myself. The relief I sensed came pouring out in my words. “I’ll happily do it at once.”

I left the room with the stares of all the perplexed handlers in my wake. The washroom was cool and dark, forcing my eyes to wait a few moments in other to adjust in the dim light. I leaned into the mirror, and what I saw made me laugh. My purposely makeup-free face had grown flushed from the enlivening wind. My hair was an utter mess as the white bow hung on by a few strands. I pulled it out with a sense of gratefulness and proceeded to evaluate the rest of my appearance. I could not remain this way for another second. Thankfully, I had a tote bag large enough to easily hold every necessary item for the transformation back into myself.

First I removed the shiny light brown wig and shook out my own hair. It was wild and full of static, but I tamed it back into its normal state. Then I peeled off the dreadful white dress and pulled one of my favorite black miniskirts from my bag, discarding the required ecru hose. I considered what to wear with the skirt, as I had several options. All black would be as stark as the total white, so I decided on the deep hot pink blouse that contrasted the darkness nicely.

Makeup was next. The provincial girls wore none, but I was not one of them. Therefore, I applied my usual eye and lip color, the latter matching the blouse. Then I slipped into my three inch fuchsia heels.

As I confidently strode back into the massive room, I noticed that the orchestra had begun to warm up. I listened closely for any sounds of brass, but disappointingly heard none. I could not really imagine my songs backed to the sounds of only classical instruments.

The gasps of the handlers were amusing to me as I took my place in my original row, not having to persuade the girls to move aside as they stared at me with varied expressions of shock, horror and a few of sheer admiration. I smiled to myself as I sat down. The girl who had mentioned my book sat frozen, agape at the sight of me. She moved her mouth as if trying to say something, but the words simply did not come.

I waited my turn, sitting through aria after aria, thumbing the edges of my pages in their bright silver folder. This time, though, I was set free from the stifling sensations of the wait and merely enjoyed my daydreams. When it was my turn, I gave a copy of my music to each player in the orchestra, without really expecting them to accommodate the arrangement. However, I knew that it couldn’t hurt to try.

The building was hushed as I began my songs. Not a person moved or stopped staring for at least the first thirty seconds. The orchestra was soundness, too. This was fine with me, as I knew the songs well enough to not need accompaniment. However, a moment later, one musician after another raised a brass instrument from some hiding place in the orchestra pit. The first one was a saxophone, then a trumpet followed with a trombone. Then both bass and drums added their voices to mine, completed by the most syncopated piano playing I had ever heard. It was now more than a competition, because no one was bent on rankings or winning versus losing. We were already winning because of the joy we were deriving in the mere act of creation and collaboration, not as individuals, but instead as one.

I had truly forgotten about the audience as we finished, so their tentative applause was a surprise. What truly astonished me, though, was its growth into a massive wave of thunder. Had they understood that we were in it for the joy? I prayed it was so. Everyone here needed to understand that being in the moment was more important than constantly looking over one’s shoulder for someone else’s nod of approval.

In the end, it all came back to numbers. I was fifth out of three thousand. The judges had to penalize my score given all the rules I had broken, but I did not care. I had come there to be myself, and that was exactly what I had accomplished.