The phone call

29/11/2014

On the surface

Baffled, she hits the END button on her phone, and gently places it upon the antique chest of drawers. With care and a deliberate slowness does she perform this act – as if she is in a trance. Although not privy to her thoughts during this mundane act on this quite typical evening, you know her thoughts are profound. Her body is still, except for the right arm, the hand cradling her phone. Her eyes focus to a distant point somewhere outside your view. Within the few seconds of the digital disconnection, she is reliving forty years down to the details of ritualized daily walks past tacky shops, and the sounds of tiny silver spoons against bone china cups, while dark coffee and white sugar kiss. One might question her reactions.  “More visceral,” you say.  Yes, I do believe this to be the case. Her breathing becomes irregular, her nostrils flare slightly, and it is only  the deep, final sigh signaling that years shared – years coursing through her every fiber – are at an end.

She knows she has lost something of value. Turning away from the dresser, her body regains vitality: telltale eyes that are once again bright, and breathing that is calm. You think to yourself, “She will survive this.” Yes, but I tell you, too, that she will not forget.

The End & the Beginning

One Summer Day.end

22/07/2013

drawing of fireplaceAbraham realized that he had been duped.  Taken in with words because of those persuasive voices, and stunning beauty.  Simple in their dress, it was the angels’ luminescent eyes, lilting voices, and easy familiarity that had drawn him into their web. If only he and Sarah had a girl instead of this sweet-tempered boy.  Yes, a girl…there would be no problems. No worries about inheritance and sharing.  She could have married Hagar’s son, after all.  Sarah and Hagar would have been pleased.  No animosity. No petty arguments within the household. His life would truly have been blessed.  The angels brought him nothing but grief! He felt too old to assert himself with these women any longer. He needed time away from the women.

It was then that he decided he was going to the mountains and beg the heavens for a solution, or at least a respite from all the bickering.  Yes, the mountains.  He would ask his God for advice to settle things once and for all.  Slowly pulling himself up, he walked past Sarah without speaking. He could feel her anger directed straight at his back.  With a slight turn of his head, he gave her a weak smile while he fastened the lead on his favorite donkey.  As he was walking away from the house, he heard her shout out in a shrill voice, “For heaven’s sake, take Isaac with you!”

This simple bit of writing was an assignment during a writer’s workshop. Each participant was assigned a reading from the Christian Bible (according to Wikipedia – 11:26-25:18 of the book of Genesis), and asked to write a story from a particular view point.  Not having a theology background, I called upon my immediate experience as a mother of two energetic, young boys.  Imbuing “Sarah” with feelings of an older mother, and “Abraham” with a father out of his depth, this was the final piece.  I apologize in advance to all “older” parents, as I KNOW this is not representative of everyone!

 

One Summer Day.2

20/07/2013

drawing of fireplaceAbraham sighed. He was a dutiful husband and father. He knew that it was his duty to listen to Sarah, and bear her tirade. After all, had he not chatted it up with those strangers – who knew exactly what to say and how to say it – none of this would have happened. It seemed like such a good idea at the time – a child, their child. Now it did not seem to matter how many times he told her that she was his first wife, and he loved her above all others. It always came back to Hagar and her son. He half-closed his eyes, sat on his favorite rug, and continued to listen.

“…I don’t understand why you keep her. You don’t stay awake long enough to enjoy her! God knows that she is good for nothing else. Why just the other day she was here, in my kitchen, using my best oils and herbs for those odious scents she smears on herself. Do you know what myrrh costs us? An Egyptian, Abe! Really! It is just too much for me to think about sharing your wealth with Isaac and her son. I didn’t go through this childbearing and these sleepless nights so our son could be usurped by this pagan. I am too old for all of this…either she goes or I do!”

He knew Sarah was beyond reasoning with now. Imagine, an ultimatum! This jealous streak of hers would drive him to an early grave. Closing his eyes, he slowed his breathing, sat with utter stillness amid her icy silence, and pondered his situation. Why did God have to give them a child, anyway? Life was calm before all this motherhood business. Despite all their years together he still felt a quiet excitement run down his spine at the touch of her hand; her scent of rosemary filled him with desire. But all she did was complain endlessly, about housework, child care, money. He could no longer get close enough to even touch her. Those damn angels!

end of Part 2

One Summer Day.1

19/07/2013

drawing of fireplace The sun rose early on that scorching summer morning.  The cicadas had been chanting incessantly as Sarah bustled around her kitchen. Sweat poured down her back, her old flaxen dress already soaked with it.  A little boy played quietly with her wooden spoons, keeping a measured distance.  She had been up half the night with him, soothing his childhood fears.  He had recurring nightmares of two boys fighting: one killing the other.  As she wiped her forehead with her sleeve, she could not help wondering where he ever got these wild and haunting images.  God knows they lived in such a remote place that visitors were almost unheard of, and her husband would see anyone heading their way easily from miles away.  She hoped he would outgrow these night frights soon. She could not go another night without sleep, whether from the heat or this boy.  She was exhausted.  It showed in her bearing and her face.  Shoulders slumped. Dark grey shadows under her eyes.

Her husband trod carefully this morning. Leaving his sandals outside to appease his wife’s frustration with the constant dirt on the homestead, he greeted her with a tentative smile.  “Sarah, my love, why not spend some time alone this morning?  I am happy to watch Isaac today.” Keeping her back to him as she furiously wielded the knife cutting herbs and greens, she could not muster the angry voice to match her fury.  “Watch Isaac!  Ha! Some strangers will enter our village, and you will get into another one of your philosophical conversations. The last time these went on forever.  You’ll forget Isaac is even there!  Only God know what he’ll get into?  Playing those stupid war games with that woman’s son again, and coming home covered with bruises.  You’ll watch Isaac!  Ha!”

end of Part 1

At the end of the street where all the big oak trees lived, there also lived an unusually small ant.  Not only was he unusual because of his size, but because he loved to spend his days inside the house at this corner.  It was a big house with lots of floors that almost reached up to the treetops, and lots and lots of windows to let in the sunshine on a beautiful day.  It was a yellow house, so when the forsythia was in bloom this very corner was ablaze, radiating love back to the sun.

This ant loved to live on the very top floor of this house where there was a small room, not quite finished.  The floor was made up of wide, rough planks of pine with knotholes.  Sometimes things disappeared down into these, never to be seen again.  The windows were large and round, so that when it stormed with angry wind and rain, it felt like a ship at sea.

But, the best part about this room was that a young boy lived up here too – well, not exactly lived, but let us say that he spent most of his time here.  He had made it into a fort, like boys do, but it was a bit different.  Instead of army men lining the wooden crates, he had old coffee cans of quills, paints, brushes and an old Ball jar with bluish water.  Among these were scattered pine cones, acorns, leaves, and anything that interested this young boy.  But, the very best part about this room at the top of the house was the chimney in the middle of it.  It was old and crumbly, with sand falling out here and there, but that didn’t matter.  Pete’s mom had let him bring her big old pillows here, so he could sit on the floor and lean against the chimney, as one might lean against an old friend for comfort.  He spent hours and hours up here, in all the seasons and all kinds of weather, drawing or just sitting…well, sometimes even singing to himself.  All this the little ant observed from his own secret spot on that very chimney.

end of page 1

When we settle into our autnmn, these stories will settle in, too.  Some will be long; others, short.  Get comfortable.  Put on your pjs (no? okay, sweat pants?), grab a soft pillow for your back.  Maybe bring over a cup of tea (decaf, I hope).  Sit with your child, or have your own quiet moment.  Slow your breathing.  Uncross your legs & don’t forget to drop your shoulders (blue bunny sees you!) Begin a storytime here. Among these pages. It is a safe, quiet space created for you.

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