Hindsight 20/20

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shoes-and-books-by-magaly-guerrero

PHOTO PROMPT © Magaly Guerrero

Hindsight 20/20

A lie frolics here around shoes with ribbons for laces. The art book chuckles at my naiveté.

“Strawberry-flavored wine?” Duane asks.

I stare at the shoes wishing I’d accepted Will’s invitation for poetry and ice cream rather than Duane’s “romantic evening.”

“They’re my wife’s.”

“You said . . .”

“Ex-wife. She lives here,” he says. “It’s not ideal.”

I say, “No wine, thanks.”

“Perfect, on to bumping uglies.”

My jaw drops. “No.”

“Raincheck?”

“Don’t think so.”

“Dinner was expensive.”

Complete nightmare, I think.

Hindsight admonishes: Poetry and gelato with a funny caring man weren’t romantic enough for you?

 

end 4/23/2017

S. Darlington

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Review of Songs About A Girl

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Songs About A Girl

Chris Russell

Flatiron Books

Release Date: May 30, 2017

Blurb from Goodreads:

Charlie Bloom never wanted to be ‘with the band’. She’s happiest out of the spotlight, behind her camera, unseen and unnoticed. But when she’s asked to take backstage photos for hot new boy band Fire&Lights, she can’t pass up the chance.

Catapulted into a world of paparazzi and backstage bickering, Charlie soon becomes caught between gorgeous but damaged frontman, Gabriel West, and his boy-next-door bandmate Olly Samson. Then, as the boys’ rivalry threatens to tear the band apart, Charlie stumbles upon a mind-blowing secret, hidden in the lyrics of their songs… Continue reading

S is for Sorrow #AtoZChallenge #amwriting

s

sorrow.png

 

“Nathan Bickham lived by the ubiquitous quote: between the choice of being right or being kind, be kind. And Nathan Bickham was the most intelligent man I have ever known so, while he was most often right, he always chose to be kind,” Reverend Keeler said from the pulpit.

There are people you think will live forever because they carry with them a vitality, kindness, and sense of purpose that distinguishes them so completely from the rest of the population. Lena had always placed her grandfather in that extreme minority. She wanted to emulate him, but always felt she failed because her temper came from her grandmother’s side and frequently she felt kindness eluded her, harmony a futile quest.

The cancer riddling his body had not been kind. In true Nathan Bickham fashion though he had fought and continued to live the life he wanted. At ninety he had still been a force to be reckoned with.

“You don’t need a bucket list, Lena,” he told her. “Bucket lists devalue living in the moment.”

With those words she’d put away the paper and pen and stopped constructing lists to compete with the lists of her peers. He taught her to see the natural world, to be open to the experience of watching the woods and observing all of the creatures observing her.

He taught her that relationships were built on openness and trust; that not being forthright for fear of being hurt would hurt in the long-term but the hurt from being forthright would always diminish with time, and the truth gained would supersede pain. He taught her generosity and patience and kindness, but kindness was still an attribute she worked hard to attain.

The one thing he never taught her, although he tried during his last days, was how she could navigate life without his presence.

“I have taught you everything I know,” he said.

Tears pricked her eyes. “But I’m not like you,” she told him.

“You’re more like me than you know, but you are the best you. I’m proud of you. You approach life with grace,” he said.

Yet, that didn’t feel enough.

Later after the mourners left her grandparents’ house, Lena stood at the pond, listened to the throaty bullfrog chorus, watched the water snake’s red bands undulate through the murky water, and relinquished the ache in her chest. She could feel the essence of his words around her, the philosophy with which he lived his life, a shawl of protection and of comfort. Sorrow rose up and away from her, towards the mantle of clouds billowing toward the sea. She understood that while she lost him, his life continued through everyone who knew him, all of those with whom he had selflessly shared himself, and, perhaps the quintessence of Nathan Bickham would always exist in lives well lived with thoughtfulness and kindness. This knowledge that he would never truly be gone consoled.

 

end 4/22/2017

S. Darlington

Run for Your Life!

I call in the fire and then I call Linc. The call goes to voicemail. There’s just no good way to tell a man that the home that has been in his family for generations is literally going up in smoke and it’s crap to do it on voicemail.

The fire is puzzling me though because it’s overkill, no pun intended. Two people against me? Surely they could have found a better way to get rid of me than a fire, which they didn’t even stick around for. I mean, if you were intending to literally smoke someone out, wouldn’t you stick around to make sure they were dead and didn’t run out of the house when you left? I would, you know, if I suddenly decided to go on a murder spree.

“Maybe they weren’t after me,” I say to Buffy. She tilts her head slightly. “They probably weren’t after you either. Maybe there was something in the house.”

She lowers herself to the stone porch and places her chin on her paws as if giving this consideration.

We don’t think too long about the situation because I hear the sound of a vehicle driving up the rocky drive behind the house. The nice thing about the country is that you have ample warning when a car approaches. I grab Buffy’s leash and dash toward the woods. Buffy, thinking this is a game, barks shrilly but then quiets down. I duck behind the cover of a mountain azalea and peer through its branches. Two people get out of a black SUV. I don’t recognize either of them. They are definitely not from around here. My heartbeat spikes when I see that they both have guns. I’m pretty sure that these are the guys who set Linc’s place on fire. They must have seen me up here, which is probably why they didn’t bother sticking around to see if I ran from the house. I’m cool, but I can’t be in two places at one time.

This is one of those instances that I decide not to wait to find out what happens next as what happens next could be me with a bullet between the eyes, a graphic I have no desire to explore. Considering that they look like pure city boys, I’m not too concerned about them tracking me down in the woods, not these woods that I know like the back of my hand. On the other hand, they did find me up here so they get points for that.

There are deer trails cut through the woods, which are nice paths to follow so I take one that links to the Old Smith farm. I figure it will take those two guys some time to scout around before looking towards the woods. A blast from behind and the splintering of bark from the scrub pine tell me quite impressively that I was wrong. Damn. Now I have to hope that I was right about them being city boys and not being able to find their way out of can of beans. Buffy and I start running for our lives.

end 4/21/2017

S. Darlington

 

 

R is for Rejected #AtoZchallenge #amwriting

“It’s been so busy I almost forgot about the challenge!” she screeched.

r

rejected

 

“Just do it. What do you have to lose?” Barbara asked Petra. “Either he says yes or he doesn’t. At least you’ll know and can move on.”

Petra nodded. Excellent advice for most people, but most people were not Petra. They didn’t worry over every little word or every little look or what would happen if he said no and then all of the dreamy possibilities that she’d molded in her fantasies would go splat. Was holding on to a dream better than facing reality?

When Geoff entered the teacher’s lounge, Petra felt herself flush. Barbara nodded fiercely at her then picked up her things and left.

“It’s been a long week,” Geoff said. “Glad today’s a short day.”

Petra nodded and smiled. Words. One was supposed to respond with words. Why couldn’t she think of any?

He sat opposite her, unwrapped his usual peanut butter, no jelly, sandwich, and bit into it. He washed down bites with black coffee, no sugar.

“Geoff, I’ve been thinking . . .” she began.

After a moment he raised his eyebrow. “Yes?”

“Well, it’s like this . . .” She felt her face flame and looked down at the table.

“Is everything okay, Petra. You look like you might have a fever.”

“I do?” she asked vaguely, wondering about that. She felt fine though. She shook away those thoughts.

“I wondered if you might like to get a cup of coffee sometime?” Her voice rushed through the words, even tripping over some.

He held up his mug. “I am having a cup of coffee.”

She nodded. “Er. Maybe you’d like to go out for Chinese?”

He leaned back in his chair and wiped his lips with the back of his hand. “Are you asking me out?”

She squeezed her eyes shut tightly and then bounced her head up and down. “Yes.”

“That’s really nice,” he said and then paused.

She felt hope swell in her chest.

“No offense but I don’t date girls like you,” he said.

Splat. She felt it, heard it, and almost couldn’t believe it. “Oh?”

“And the fact that we work together. Yeah, just not a good idea.”

She nodded as if she agreed while all she could think about was escaping. Not his type.

“Right well, no harm, no foul. Right? I have my first parent meeting in ten. I should go. Have a good weekend, Geoff,” she said.

He nodded as he took another bite. “You too,” he said around the crust of bread, crumbs escaping from his mouth.

Strangely she felt like she was really seeing him for the first time.

 

end 4/21/2017

S. Darlington

Carry On

 

You would never have guessed that I would be the one carrying your banner long after you’d gone. But I’ve always been the one to feel too much and wish too much and dream too much and miss people long after, when others have moved on their faces directed forward. I never knew your dreams, but maybe they’ll interweave with mine and carry on just the same. There will be peace when we’re done.

end 4/21/2017

S. Darlington

Annie on the Run!

 

Annie on the run! With Buffy. Did you think I’d leave Linc’s dog there when I had no idea who or what I was up against? I really didn’t think they’d care about hurting a dog when they were murdering people right and left.

I’m at the old Hulver place. It’s abandoned, but there’s a semi-roof and there’s a kitchen and don’t ask me why or how, but the propane tank still has juice so I fry up some eggs that I took from Linc’s house.

Buffy seems to think that this is a great treat. I keep it in the back of my mind to tell Linc to spend more time with his dog.

The nice thing about the Hulver place is that it’s on the ridge above Linc’s place so I can sit on the front porch (or what’s left of it) and have a clear view of Linc’s.

It took Buffy and me thirty minutes to hike here. I cooked for five. The telephone rang forty minutes ago at Linc’s.

I wish I had binoculars because when a vehicle pulls up at Linc’s I have no idea what it is except it’s dark, which pretty much matches most SUVs in Carderiff County, you know, except for mine because I don’t freaking drive an SUV. Two people emerge from the SUV, one goes to the door, the other circles around back.

Huh.

I am too far away to see who they are. I thought hiking up here was a good idea, and it was to the extent that Buffy and I are safe, but I can’t make out who these people are. Then suddenly flames erupt around the house and the two figures dart back to the SUV. Dust rises as the tires roar and the SUV skitters onto the road and vanishes. The house roars with flames that I almost think I can feel here, almost a mile away.

I sit with Buffy at my side, my mouth open because two people who I may or may not know just thought they’d killed me. Buffy licks my chin. Yeah, I’m glad I didn’t leave you behind either.

 

end 4/21/2017

S. Darlington