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Friday, August 19, 2011

Prompt: Her letter lay on the table unopened

   Alexandria paced the floor as the fire crackled in the background. She followed the burgundy circular pattern on the rug.

    "Enough!" she cried. She looked at the letter on the dark mahogany table. Flames' reflections danced around the rectangular envelope.

   "I'm not burning this one."

   She watched the unopened letter as if it were threatening to her presence. It was the third she had received. The first was five days ago after their heated arguments. Her flames of fury from that night were now smoldering. She attempted to write letters in response, yet had torn them in anger. Sadness then led them, joined with his, to be kindling to the pine.

   Being drawn to the fire, she moved toward it and sat cross legged on the creamy long-haired sheepskin rug. She pressed her hands into the softness.

    A lone tear made a trail along her cheek and down toward her chin.

   She felt cold, abandoned and weak.

   Weakness was an unfamiliar feeling. This is why she felt the anger. The anger was her internal fire still prodding her to make a decision.

   "I should never have to do this," she said to herself. "It doesn't feel fair and has pain written all over it."

   She looked behind her. Beside the unopened letter, a red candle burned half way down, showing time's passing. Alexandria sat alone in the house, darkened by all but the fires around her.

   She felt darkened within herself.

   "I have half a candle left to make my final decision," she said as she turned back to look into the fireplace's flames.

   What am I going to do?

   Her chest rose as she took a slow deep breath. She exhaled as long as she could and felt some tension release as other choices came to her mind.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Prompt: Something was poised to attack

    The lizard was perched on top of the concrete wall. The sun-heated stone didn't seem to bother the small reptile. Its dorsal side had thick skin compared to the white and softer underbelly.

    The lizard did two quick push ups and from under its throat extended out semi-circular red flesh that retreated again.

   I have wondered if these precise actions were a mating ritual, territorial marking, or just haphazard movements from these small creatures.

   I took the moment to look around at nature for a clue. I looked for a temporary mate or rival lizard. I didn't see any. I looked for a bug--a meal, in the vicinity. I didn't see one either. My experience with lizard watching didn't expect this. I've seen lizards get insects. They are poised still until the attack and capture. I've also wondered before about those half-hanging-out-of-the-mouth bugs in lizards' mouths...are they dead or alive?...You know, with the head down the throat, like a shark devouring people in Jaws. (What movies do to the minds!)

   A flash of movement breaks my thoughts. It broke the stillness I was resting in. I jumped. The lizard is history. Apparently, a cat behind me was poised to attack.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Prompt: (From a picture of a bare room, teady bear on the floor, on a rug

On one evening, sometime in 2009, Chuck, our writers' meeting leader, gave us a picture to look at. It was a picture of a bare room, it had a window with no curtains, ... on the floor was an oriental rug and a teddy bear. There were 2 pictures on the wall.     Of course, as usual, he said we had 20 minutes.... go!    :)

Below is pretty much what came out.... cleaned up about 5% later.

S. Palmerton
     It was a night of rage, not long ago. Outside, a violent storm broke the blackness with streaks of lightning. Rolls of thunder shook the home.

    Inside, the electrical movement of a mother's protection.....
    "He can't find us here," the mother anxiously said to her child, as she tightly embraced the toddler to her chest.

    Like a strobe light, flashes of lightning minutes before, through a window without curtains, showed a mother run into the room--bend down--sweep the child into her arms, his teddy bear fell to the oriental rug--her silhouette move away--and then the room bare.

    Amid the simultaneous rolls of thunder, the night had heard her call out, the brief cry of the boy, the closing of a makeshift door, and the slamming of a distant door.

    Now she was secluded and laid her sleepy son next to her legs.

   Soon after, a flash of light streamed into the room--its path focused, searching quickly back and forth. From the door to each wall and covering the floor...over the lone teddy bear, light came and proceeded to move erratically. The rage had entered.

    The light dropped to the carrier's feet as the door to the room shut, and a locking of it was heard.

    Sounds of rushing footsteps moved into the hallway. The next room examined. Again, a locking of the door and more footsteps heard, farther away.

    The woman sat crouched in the hidden closet-size room. Three inner deadbolts double-checked were on her secret door. She heard his footsteps above, climbing the staircase, it seemed two at a time.

     Rolling thunder and the pelting of rain continued.

    She hoped the storm inside the house would go away. Her heart beat against her ribs. She looked down at her child with blond curls, asleep on his favorite sheet laid over a thick lambskin rug. A dim nightlight glowed onto them. She looked up to the base of the stairs that was now her angled ceiling. To her right, on the secret door, she looked at her taped picture of her and her child. A quote of Einstein's was paper clipped on it.

    At the speed of light I'll get away sometime, she thought and began to feel thinning of her chest's fear. She took a sip from a water bottle, screwed the top and set it beside a few more non-perishable foods. For now, this is my safe place, she thought and rested her head on a feather pillow. She'd figure out what to say in the morning.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Prompt: When papa laughed like that, I was at once reminded of the past.

Aug. 2009
S. Palmerton

     Although the years had slowed his gait, his height enveloped him vertically into looking like a lanky giraffe.  Bold crimson red walls with cinnamon trim framed his presence tonight. He sat in the firm chocolate leather chair and his grandson plopped himself right onto his lap.

     Pulling on his snow white beard, young Johnny pronounced, "Grams, it's your turn to tell a story."

     "It is, isn't it." I heard my father state. I looked around. Tonight it was the three of us.I sat at the hearth and stoked the burning logs to bring them closer. After adding a fresh one to burn, and I chose one that would take a long time, I turned to give my father attention. Seeing my son nestled in his lap, stretched my chest forward. I took a deep breath in.

     I don't remember him doing that with me, I thought. In my time, for him, work was from dawn to dusk. My scanning mind couldn't locate any memories of sitting in my grandfathers' laps either.

     Yet there Johnny sat, perched quiet and still.  That's unusual, I thought and inwardly laughed.

     Time was lovingly expressing itself within three generations present, and was as tangible to me as the warmth from the fire behind me. I moved to the couch and stretch out, laying a blanket across my legs that were longer than my son.

     "Yes, go ahead dad. Tell us all a story," I said as I interlaced my fingers behind my head and crossed my ankles. The couch always fit me perfectly. Tonight I'd try to listen and not fall asleep within a half hour.

     I basked in the sight of my father, my papa, holding my son.

     The tale he told was spun like threads from a golden spider. It was natural and intricate, a piece of artwork.

     When did he learn this? I wondered. I could tell he was improvising anew, as we noticed Johnny beginning to drift off, even though he was trying to stay awake.

    By the end, he began to close his imagination's journey with a  joker's bells and a steam train riding on rails, to a land of butterflies, lizards and baseball games... all of Johnny's favorites. Father laughed. Oh, did he laugh. He tried to keep from hooting and gently rolled out soft laughter. His open heart washed over us with glory.

     Oh..., my mind alerted me. When papa laughed like that, I was at once reminded of the past, back to a time I now remembered... when I was no taller than his legs.

Prompt: It was a time when he had been happy and hadn't known it.

S. Palmerton

     Jack stood outside, leaning against the white post railing of the wrap-around porch. He looked over the horizon. Rolling hills stretched out in front of him. And in his view, long, uncut grasses waved as swirls of ocean breezes blew inland from the west.

     He breathed in air so clean, he wondered if he were breathing at all.

     Jack thought of the moving boxes inside. Some were opened, and all were labeled and in the appropriate rooms. The quietness surrounding him seemed louder than the taxi cabs he used to hear at night. That was of a time when he had been happy and hadn't known it. Now, he realized it.

     Jack took another deep swallow of beer and crumpled the can in his hand. He left the porch and walked back into his cabin. A lone open window showed the only movement inside, as navy curtains shifted easily in the breeze like the outside grasses.

     I miss the haze of smog as the sun sets in the city, he thought. His mind drifted as he walked over to boxes, opening a couple and walking away, disinterested in taking out any holdings.

     Jack walked over to the refrigerator and got another beer.

     A rhythm of quick steps caught his attention as he heard paws of his new Labrador slapping the wood floor.  Looking down, Jack saw slobber drop next to his boot. His dog, London, barked once.

    "Want some food do you? Me too." Jack poured some dry food for London and took some cheese and salami slices for himself.

       The screen door creaked and shut with a snap behind him as he walked outside. Jack winced, knowing he would be fixing that this week too. He looked over to a tractor showing rust around more than its edges.

     Man, what was I thinking? He paused. A little farming, fresh air, the quiet and a change would do me good, he remembered.

     He wondered. What would he do without the city lights and movement of people? All kinds of people, meandering together in ways he thought had agitated him, and now he felt he missed the rush...the communion. He felt antsy inside his belly as he looked around... at all this space. Time felt broader, unfilled and waiting for him--and he didn't know what to do.

     I'd rather have ten things to get done in the same hour like I used to. I feel unproductive, even bored here.   "The city never bored me. That's for certain."  Doc said I needed a change to live. I don't know. I felt more alive before. Living out here may be slow self-extinguishing... all this silence.

     A bark came from inside. Jack put his plate and beer down on the white wooden porch and stood from the rocking chair. London sat at the screened door, looking for company, looking for Jack.

     "Come on out, guy" Jack said, as he opened the door. He figured his Lab would run over the grassy grounds with delight.

     London didn't. He sat beside the rocker and looked up at Jack and then to the horizon.

     Jack laughed. "Okay, let's see how this is done... this thing called relaxing." He sat down and reached to pet behind London's ears.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

ps!!! always exploring

Yes, yes, whether big, or small, life is about exploring it---observing and feeling, wondering why at times the feelings or relations or moments are as they are. Experiencing life is what is happening... from birth until death (or crossover time). To explore self or explore life... it's quite a journey. (to be active in exploring and know this is being done..... not just chaotic feeling ---like one is "being done" while going thru the days.
I find it best now to go slower, observe more, be gentle and respect as much as I can. .. to learn or know what is good, what I want and how to get there....or accept and do what I can in the moment.   And if I feel lost for a moment, staying still and looking for choices.

It doesn't have to be big

I took a quiet break and checked in on my glowing embers.
I softly smiled at what I felt. Joy in seeing ladybugs the other day while trimming outside bushes, and in hearing the laughter of my children, and looking at their smiles. Feeling gratitude for my friends and our communications, seeing expansion of the world through, yes-- the internet, and the beautiful posts of life--photos and info of travel and home.   Home... there's no place like home. (hmm I don't have, nor want, red slippers, but I do like my red sandals. :) )


I remember traveling to Colorado, in December, 1997. Hiking during the days was breathtaking (in exertion and beauty seen) whereas  cold snowy nights had this FL woman under blankets on a sleigh ride, or by the fireplace.    Back then, my wanderlust nature was in full steam.

Years ago were also times of strong self exploration---as I felt the muck and mire of...something... and wanted to unzip it like a tight wetsuit in a swampy horror film and step out. It wasn't the only time. That course of my life (self exploration) spanned from l984-2005.  Some times were tough, yet they also were...light. Light, in a sense of clarity in the heat.

Sometimes presently I think my embers of desire for discovery are glowing only. I peak in on them in my busy days, making sure they are not out, yet ---in these busy days/work and to dos--- they don't seem to get to burn brightly.  Sure sparks come at times.

Perhaps I need to add some new wood. I always liked burning pine.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sam & Shadow

A semi-mental story can't be left alone!  How about a lost-in-the-woods one? ;)

A prompt and result with the local writers group. We meet 2x/month and began Jan 2008.

2-23-11 prompt:
He/she stared into the darkness not knowing what to expect.

Here's Sam & Shadow
by S.P.

   It was a cool, foggy night. This usually brought a comfort to Sam as he looked into the woods. Not 
now, however. Somehow tonight was different. If he had been sitting on his porch, in his own wooded back acres, it would be fine. Yet out in the woods here, it was different. He was in unfamiliar territory. He checked his supplies and shook his head thinking how he misplaced his GPS earlier.  He had come to rely too much on it instead of his attention to details. Now all he had was his instinct.

  “Which way, girl?” he said, not expecting an answer, as he kneeled to pet his black lab.
A small whine was all he received in return.

  Sitting for a moment, he began to backtrack within his thoughts. Where had they gone? 

  Excitedly, Shadow had pulled him off the trail. She had smelled something.  Sam knew he saw a buck in the distance and fresh rutting on the nearby tree bark, so he let Shadow have fun. He let Shadow take the lead. Something he hadn’t done before.

  At the time, he didn’t pay much heed. He had tapped his side and felt the GPS in its holder on his waist, and they had taken off.  Shadow was in her harmony and Sam was getting a work out as they traversed over the sandy boulders and cracking leaves underfoot.

  Now they stood, as all pines looked the same, towering toward the sky getting darker by each fragment of time.  Sam inhaled deeply. This time, it was not done from the running, but from exasperation of not knowing which direction to turn. He held his breath to listen, and stared into the darkness, not knowing what to expect.

  Another small whine came from below. “Steady girl,” Sam said to Shadow. He reached down. Shadow was sitting, with head and eyes toward him, waiting for direction. Sam reached to pet her, and questioned whom he was encouraging.
  Overhead, he heard a flapping of wings. Looking up, he noticed he was loosing definition of the branches into the night from all but the west. His mind began to trace a pattern of topography.
He knew where the old mill was on the mountain, relating to the east, yet it wasn’t enough of the puzzle pieces he sought.

  “Too bad I wasn’t a better boy scout, Shadow. Maybe I would know the pattern of stars as a map.”

  Shadow barked.

  “You think that’s funny?“

  Shadow barked again.
   “You always did trust me, girl.”
    Sam began to relax. He sat for a moment with his arm over Shadow. Her fur was a welcomed warmth, as he realized he had a slight chill. The night’s temperature would drop and he hadn’t been prepared for this either. He shook his head in frustration, yet contained himself. Breathing in calmly, he rested. He listened. A few small animals were beginning to scurry. Then he heard it. He heard his answer. A faint, yet growing more clear answer was registering.

  “We got it, Shadow,” Sam said as he stood. "The river’s below us. It’s south. And by the look of the two peaks west, I think we’re about forty minutes from the cabin.”

Let's Begin!

  It's Sunday, Aug. 7, 2011, and being new to blogging is appropriate to write. (Hello writers group :) ! )
I'll get the hang of this blog thing soon---if I can recruit a little help from my friends!
  A writer (of horror stories) I was talking to the other day read a short story I had written after a prompt I read in Stephen King's book On Writing. She liked it, and suggested I post it to "my blog." (I didn't have one.)
  My son, who says, Mom you really didn't grow up with computers.... would understand my initial dilemma. He's sleeping or I'd ask him--How to I pull the story from my documents to this blog?
Oh how I love pen and paper and snail times; I'm loving the speed of computers too.
  Back to prompts--- It's a great exercise for writing. A brief suggestion is made--a sentence, a scene, 6 words, etc and for the next 20 minutes (or other alloted time given) one writes what comes to mind.
   DING DING--- I figured it out. Simply copy and paste.
  Ok: In Mr. King's book, he had set up a scene between a man and woman, where the woman is the ...dangerous one. The names were Dick and Jane.   The following is what came to my mind--I did clean up what I wrote--not much. What fun writing is!  
  PS Usually my writing is women's fiction with slight romance.   For the following to slide out of my brain was an interesting insight.
  Hope you enjoy!  Sharon

By Sharon Palmerton

            Dick and Jane…This is not from the 1960’s kindergarten book… Dick sees Jane... See
Dick run. Although Dick would like to run—back to the past to warn his foolish self, or at least faster than Jane. Jane--The maniac woman who enticed him at the bar, became a real whack job within time. At first, Dick was in denial. No woman could be planning to murder me, he had thought. Then it was reality after Little Nell was born—He couldn’t overlook it—It was in several dashes of time, he concluded with no doubt, the woman he married was schizophrenic and dangerous.  He couldn’t understand how a woman with a PhD could have a metamorphosis in reverse, like a butterfly into a worm… not a caterpillar, but a worm. One that belongs at the bottom of a Tequila bottle, or better yet, chewed up and dead in the belly of a fish, deep in the ocean.
            Dick had been in denial—but no more. In reflection, Jane had manipulated and drew him in. Her workings were like casting bait on a fishing line.  She liked being the bait. She was also the rod she held as she cast the line and hook. He had been caught like a hungry fish. And all of it came to smell. Yes, he admitted, he had been hooked for four years. Four years lost of his life. Three years of his daughter’s.  A daughter he would watch only months ago, as she played with her dolls, … to make certain she didn’t behead another and blame it on Rex, the dog. His pet dog, whose tail used to curl up and wag, and since Jane entered, it too often seemed stuck in a tucked position.
            Dick made it to hell. All because he found Jane irresistibly attractive. She had taken his internal compass, his radar, and shifted the views. She moved like a professional sniper, seemingly quiet and out of sight…all while in the midst of his presence.
            Now, Dick cracked a beer. He grinned… and then felt familiar anguish. He wondered about his sanity. He sniffed the dark ale and felt foam run down his fingers wrapped around the cold glass bottle. He brought them up to his mouth and licked.  As he popped the cap into the garbage can, he thought about taking the trash out in the morning. It was after all, trash day. Maybe that’s why he was thinking of Jane again. He tried not to, yet seemed to, twice a week, on the nights before garbage pick up.
            “Never again,” he said as he opened the refrigerator and saw four more beers. “That’s enough for tonight.”
            He went into the living room, moved three books off the cushion and sat down in his chair. He looked at the mantle. Three framed pictures grouped on the end were dust free. “Here’s to you, my little Nell,” Dick said as he took a swallow and his throat tightened. His cheeks held the extra cool liquid until enough went down, and then he pulled the rest inside. He rubbed the tender spot over his belly where it landed.
            Dick stood and moved in front of the pictures, watching the eyes of the beloved as he traversed his path. In the first picture, one of Nell soon after birth, her eyes stayed the same as he walked. Hairy, wet, and he thought, full of potential. His blood. Or half anyway. The middle picture was of her at two, playing with blocks, looking up, and smiling at him. He saw her. He knew her, the good her. At two, she was still fresh eyed and charming; he had no clue what would happen the next year. The third framed shot was Nell’s last picture taken. In it, Dick held her, but she had a look...dazed, glassy eyed. Or had she been reaching out? He now wondered.
            Dick walked three feet, looking into the last picture of him and Nell. He watched his eyes. He walked back. They stayed fixed. He walked three feet and looked into Little Nell’s eyes. He walked back. They followed him, both ways. Her headless doll was behind them, on the ground, under the bush. He hadn’t noticed it that day, only later when Jane told him she had bought the fifth replacement.
            “It’s her, I swear it’s her doing it! She’s not your little princess like you think!” Jane had screamed. They were taking Jane away, her arms pinned across her abdomen with a strap. Spit leaked out her mouth. Her once immaculate strands of hair laid in order were frazzled over her face, somehow leaving spaces for her eyes to be seen…black pupils reaching out instead of being empty place holders Dick had become accustomed to.
            The next stretcher had sent him reeling to his knees as the adult body bag was but a quarter full, with Nell.

((That's what I get for reading Stephen King---- Oh, let me go read some Jane Austen!))