Alice Wendleken sees Jesus

     Alice Wendleken sat swaying in her stiff, wicker rocker attempting to read her heavy Bible. She normally liked to read in the morning before the August heat set in, but she’d spent the morning telephoning the ladies at church about the back-to-school bash and charity drive. In fact she’d talked so much that she forgot breakfast, but she figured that doing the Lord’s work required sacrifices. She’d eat a little something after her reading.

     Her Read-Through-the-Bible-in-A-Year pamphlet marked today’s reading for “Nahum”, a little three-chaptered book. It should not be taking so long, she scolded herself, but when she read about “burning anger” in verse six, she couldn’t help but notice the melting heat and an uncomfortably large bead of sweat slide down and pool in the underwire of her brassiere.

     She scolded herself for even giving it any attention at all, and instantly banished any idea of adjusting her clothes in the public space that was her front porch. She was keenly aware of her porch being in view of Leroy Herdman’s house.

     Shrieks and screams echoed from the Herdman lawn as scantily dressed children sprayed each other in the face with a garden hose. Every time Alice tried refocusing on her reading, a new screech pierced the air. Pursing her lips, she placed a hand in her Bible to keep her place and raised her other hand in a wave.

“Show some courtesy, please!” She called, unheard.

     She waved more drastically, and one of the children waved back. Scoffing, Alice lowered her hand to her hip. The child, after giving one last good spray to her brother’s behind, handed off the hose to a smaller sister and ran towards Alice Wendleken’s front porch.

“Hi there, Mrs. Alice!” she said, swiping dripping strands of hair from her face.

Miss Alice,” Alice corrected, mentally concealing the child’s bikini with a towel.

“Whatcha’ reading?” The girl grabbed the white spindles of the porch railing and climbed up, draping her arms over the top.

“The Holy Bible,” Alice said turning her gaze back down to the page to keep herself from counting the immodest ribs of the girl.

“Hey! I was just at Bible camp!”

“Were you?” Alice raised an eyebrow glancing up to see if she were lying.

“I was there all last week!” The girl leaned back and swung herself back and forth with her arms gripping the railing. “We sang campfire songs, and rode horses, and I wasn’t even homesick!”

Alice concluded that the girl might be telling the truth.

“And one night this big kid got to confessing, and then that got everyone to confessing, and we all stayed out at the campfire way past quiet hour and even lights out because people was cryin’ and talkin’ about Jesus! Even the counselors!”

“That’s nice,” Alice said realizing she’d read the same three verses twice.

“And then the rest of the days was different cuz we didn’t care so much about riding horses, we wanted to read some juicy Bible stuff! This one kid took a Bible from the chapel and carried it around circling his favorite parts, and he showed me this one spot where a girl named “Jail” slammed a tent spike clear through a bad guy’s head into the ground!”

     With raving enthusiasm, she sprang forward and water from her flailing hair dripped onto the opening pages of Nahum. Alice dabbed the spots with her hand. She wasn’t surprised the Herdman girl was so enthralled with biblical violence.

“I hope someone told you,” Alice began, “That good Christian women are not supposed to drive anything through anybody’s head!”

“And there was this other lady,” the girl continued, paying no heed to Alice’s remark, “Who cheated on her husband and all these guys was gonna throw rocks at her to death! But then Jesus swooped in and was like, ‘Hey! If any of you never done sinned in your life, then you can throw the first rock!’ but everybody dropped their rocks and left Jesus and the lady so she didn’t get killed – but Jesus was the real one who coulda’ throwed a rock at her cuz he never done sinned! But he was like, ‘where’d they all go?’ and she was like ‘hell, if I know’ -”

“She did NOT say that!” Alice interjected, unable to contain herself.

“Well, she said somethin’ and Jesus was like, ‘I’m not gonna throw a rock, so go on and don’t do it again.’”

     Alice began flipping pages to reach the New Testament and find the exact wording of the passage. Sweat beaded on her forehead and a headache thrummed the base of her neck, but she had a suspicion of it’s cause.

“I never really knowed before how nice Jesus is! Of course he’s a baby at Christmas and then dies for our sins at Easter and walks out again, but he was a really nice guy! He didn’t like them fussy churchy people -”

“What ‘fussy churchy people’?” Alice looked up and wiped her brow.

“Them ‘fair-seas’! They wasn’t taking care of their moms and dads and Jesus called them out! They wasn’t kind to poor people neither, and they wanted to chuck rocks at that cheating lady! Course what she done weren’t right, but they weren’t right neither!”

     Alice’s head felt heavy and light at the same time. She reached for her drinking glass, but it was empty.

“I’m going in for some lemonade,” she stood and the edges of her vision stung with paint strokes of black.

“I’d love some lemonade!”

     Alice thought of protesting the self-inviting wet feet on her carpet, but gripping the door handle was a more pressing matter as the illusive knob was hard to locate. If she just closed her eyes a moment, she figured her head might stop throbbing.

     Those distant squeals and shrieks returned through clouded noise, mingled with barked orders.

“Joany, get a wet rag! Harold, call 911! Mrs. Alice is dyin’!”

     Dying?

     Cold water dripped on Alice’s upturned face and a wet cloth covered her forehead. Her eyelashes batted open as if peeling back molasses.

“She ain’t dead!” A little girl squealed.

“Shut up, Joany! Don’t scream her ear off!”

     The cloth dabbed at Alice’s forehead. The girl in the bikini kneeled on the floor beside her patient.

“You dying, Mrs. Alice?”

     Alice cleared her throat. “I think I fainted…low blood sugar.”

“Joany,” she barked, “Get some lemonade! You musta’ fainted alright, Mrs. Alice. You fell right over!”

     The boy hollered from the kitchen, “Whaddo’ I tell the cops if she ain’t dying?”

“They still gotta check up on her, Dip Wad!” She turned on her sister, “Not that glass she dropped on the floor! Get a new one.”

     A chill replaced the heat in Alice’s body, but she began to sit up.

“Take it easy, Mrs. Alice!” She removed the wet cloth and helped her sit against the wall.

“Here’s your lemonade!” The smaller girl offered the glass, her arm still wet from the hose water.

     Lemonade had never tasted so good.

“Ambulance should be here soon,” the boy said coming in from the kitchen.

“Thanks, Harold. Go get Dad and tell him what happened.”

     The boy whizzed past, water dripping from his swim trunks.

“I’ll stay right here with you. And I’ll ask Dad if we can go along to the hospital so you won’t be all by yourself.”

     The small girl sat beside her sister on the floor.

“We thought you was dead!”

“She’d a seen Jesus, right Joany?” She put her arm around her little sister.

“Uh huh.”

“Cuz she’s a Christian, like us!”

“Uh huh.”

     Alice smiled finishing her lemonade. Without prompting, the glass was whisked away for a refill.

     I suppose I have seen Jesus, Alice thought wistfully as she looked into the smiling eyes across from her and laid down her stone.

Today I am Happy

Today I am happy for liquid glass,

and reading books to un-amused cats,

and furry sweaters with upside-down owls,

and drying my hands on clay dusty towels.

Today I am happy for gray winter skies,

and nods from friends I see passing by,

and pickle ball scores confusing to say,

and sugar-white snow blown along the way.

Today I am happy for morning alarms,

and music to listen to stretching my arms,

and warm places to study and sleep,

and writing new words that I get to keep.

Fall

Fall is crunchy burn bright leaves

and skiddy-scrape sounds in the wind.

Fall is itchy sweaters made of wool

and holey socks on the mend.

Fall is crispy apple smell with a bite

and warm cider sittin’ in a mug.

Fall is jumping in slippery leaves

and a late night blanket hug.

Fall is snappy campfire sparks

and flicking spiders off the tinder.

Fall is frosty grass in the morning

and soft gentle hints of winter.

One Week Later

Sitting still

hurts

just like

moving

does.

Tilting

off-kilters

and

woozies

as dizzy

day dreams

die.

My head

feels

screwed

on wrong

and my

bones

poke

out of place.

The spine’s

still mine

but in the pictures

it looks like

a textbook

mistake.

I fidget while standing.

I fidget while sitting

and while I’m awake

I just want to sleep.

And while I sleep

I just want to run

and dance

and look down at my feet

and lift heavy things

like books

like food

like laundry

like one-month-old babies.

But today’s

not

the day

that I

am all better

and that

is okay

with me.

 

The Difference Between Messy & Dirty

There is a difference between messy & dirty.

Messy is clay counterclockwise on the wheel, paint splatting spots on clothes, and baking flour dusting your nose.

Dirty is surprise spiderwebs, festering ants, and age-old dust turned grime.

I’ve decided I hate feeling dirty.

Sometimes it’s more than what soap could wash away.

Dirty is holey 5-year-old shoes, nodding when you don’t understand, and when guys look at you the wrong way.

Shame. Guilt. Inferior

Dirty.

I love clean.

Clean is warm soapy water, thick new socks, and an out-of-the-tray printed page.

Clean is deep air through nose and closed eyes, stars with nothing between, and strawberries with sugar.

Clean is baby skin, fresh ink, and warm towels.

Clean is a light switch both on and off.

Clean is the sound of moving water.

Clean is pure.

Joy.

The Spreading Disease of Horizontal Surfaces

So, I’ve been wanting to write this poem literally for months.

But I didn’t ever try sitting down to work on it.

And then today, while procrastinating work on my little dinosaur book project, I got the first lines while standing in front of a mirror examining my chin scar.

What follows is the result:

“Here, here! This meeting’s 

not yet adjourned 

for all parties 

much concerned 

all gathered here 

like gathered dust 

on our topic: 

horizontal surface-sus! 

“Good friends, good day 

and do not fear! 

I believe a cure 

is rather near 

for stubborn  

plateaus ever mean 

which are so hard 

for us to clean. 

“On every table, shelf, 

counter, or chair 

clutter mounts up  

just everywhere 

spreading like some  

infectious disease 

going wherever  

it may please! 

“This devastation 

must meet an end 

any suggestions 

you recommend?”  

“I say we stop it 

spreading more 

by placing clutter 

on the floor!” 

“No that won’t do, 

try this instead: 

place everything  

upon your bed!” 

“What a solution! 

Look what we’ve learned. 

Good friends,  

This meeting is thus adjourned!”

777 Writing Challenge

Writing novels can be a lonely undertaking.

Few people outside of my writing community know anything about my story worlds and characters that I’d lived with for years.

What I write is FAR from publishing so I don’t share much, if anything.

Yet.

Here we are.

A fellow OYANer, Rachel, did this 777 challenge on her blog:

The 777 Challenge
This challenge is a little “game” to share your current WIP (work in progress) of whatever it is you’re writing, assuming you have enough written to qualify.

Also apparently after looking through the backlog of tags from previous blogs who have done this, this challenge was originally referred to as the 7777 Challenge (four 7s instead of three), but I’m dropping the last 7 and you’ll see why at the end of the list.

How It Works

  1. Open WIP to the 7th page.
  2. Scroll past the 7th line.
  3. Copy the next 7 paragraphs, and… paste them on your blog for the world to see!
  4. Tag 7 other people to do this challenge.

 

I just went down quite the rabbit hole of poorly fonted blogs trying to see where this challenge started, but the internet is a vastly dark and dangerous place….

What follows is an excerpt from approximately page 7 and since there was dialogue, I fudged the 7 paragraphs thing.

The girl’s cone had collapsed. The others handed her napkins and she wiped off everything. She unhooked Jerry and, to my horror, dropped him in the trash! They all walked away laughing!

“Ugh!” I said, coming out from behind the counter.

The bell clanged as I sped outside. There in the trash can, on top of grimy spoons and paper bowls, lay poor Jerry face-down in despair. I pulled him out and took him inside.

“What are you doing?” Goldi asked.

“I’m going to clean him up.”

I carried him to the bathroom sink and ran warm water over his dear, soiled body.

“What are you going to do with it?”

She leaned in the doorway.

“Keep him, of course!”

“For what?”

I turned off the faucet and squeezed the water out. He looked loads better already.

“For me.”

Grabbing some paper towels I patted him as best as I could. Goldi still stood there. She looked ready to say something.

“So, I’m weird!” I said. “I like stuffed animals. There are worse hobbies to have, right?”

I pushed past her through the doorway, walked to the back, and clipped Jerry onto my purse.

The rest of the work day went pretty smoothly. An hour before the shift ended, I dipped waffle cones in chocolate since there was a lull in customers. Goldi’s phone went off, and she rushed to the back to take it. We aren’t really supposed to be on our phones at work; I keep mine in my purse.

The doorbell jangled but I had just dipped two cones, one in each hand, and the chocolate rained down. A rowdy family of six joked and laughed pointing their grimy fingers on the freezer glass.

This was loads of fun!
If you are inspired to take on the 777 challenge as well, feel free to leave a link in the comments so I can read yours and edit this post to share your link.

Three Harps

Edge of seat silence,

thick as resin,

spreads throughout the room.

Most here have heard

it all before

but mine are novice ears.

Below, small hands

ease with grace

shoulder to shoulder

in fond embrace.

Parallel palms

press quiet

trembling wires

as each foot pedal

tests once

twice.

A deep breath

breaks the surface

of silence

rippling open the tide of liquid

music.

Hum tremors

thrum heartstrings

pulled tight in

wonder.

Mesmerising thumbs

bat butterfly wings

of dreams drifting

themselves to sleep.

Spell winding gossamer

drips honey

like rain

and pools ripple

thunderous

mid-chest rumbles

plucked up

and hung to drift dry

in wafting

sunset July

breath

caught

so as not

to miss

one

note.

Southside Diner

You’d think I would have learned my lesson in college, but no.

Today it finally struck home: half&half is NOT the same as creamer, no matter how much sugar you pour in.

Southside is the breakfast hangout of the greatest generation of our community. I think it’s safe to say I was the youngest in the building by 20 years – taking into account the waitresses.

As “I wanna get lost in your rock and roll” played over the radio, someone in the kitchen clapped along.

I was tempted to change seats from the booth with a front row view of the bread rack to the bar with swivel seats by the shining traffic light. But I stayed put ordering eggs benedict to go with my coffee.

I’ve never had eggs benedict previously, so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I only knew the name becasue of a Facebook restaurant game from a thousand years ago.

When my meal arrived, I couldn’t help noticing that it appeared to be drowning and pleaded with it’s eyes for rescue.

southside eggs

I can safely say it was the best eggs benedict I’ve ever had!