Jean Louise

From adventofreason’s Xanga Archives . . .

jeanlouise

I will probably always remember those days with the bittersweet sepia color of a gracefully aging photograph.  Bitter because I saw that truth doesn’t always win and that ignorance and poverty can turn anger into hate.  And, yes it was also sweet.  Sweet and fragrant like the camellias of  my childhood that dripped their snowy petals onto the sun-dappled lawns.

I found, if not friendship, something akin to it in the most unlikely of places.  Not too many summers after we met, he died.  We all paid our respects to him, but were mindful of his shy ways.

Many years later, Father retired from law and continued to hold at bay the never-ending requests that he run for public office.  I remember that the only time I ever saw him cry, was the day that a misguided man ended the life of another; one who had a dream.  Even my brother, ever the grown up, coughed into his hand and took several passes across his eyes with his handkerchief.

He, my older brother, his hopes of being a football hero dashed, followed in our father’s footsteps and may one day run for governor.  We all believe he will succeed.

The sweet friend of my youth never did marry me, though he continues to flit in and out of my life, bringing with him his odd mixture of pathos and humor.  He is part flamboyant thespian, part wounded spirit.

In the years closely following that summer, we began to see past the facade of our own genteelness and saw an ugliness that we became ashamed of.  I think we became better people that summer; all of us.  I believe we did learn, after all, how to climb into another person’s skin and walk around in it.

 

*Although this piece is an  original piece by me, and created from my imagination, it is based on the incredible characters created by Harper Lee in her breathtaking novel, To Kill A Mockingbird.  This is what is referred to as metafiction, whereby I have inserted thoughts into characters created by someone else

ceg 7.15.08

Advertisements

When the Magic Died

From adventofreason’s Xanga Archives . . .

lastdays

The last days of magic were upon us. 

The trees no longer sang and the stars no longer whispered their secrets soft and low into our ears. The the divine goddesses whom we had worshiped for so long, had turned their golden faces from us and crushed our prayers beneath their heels.  We watched as the stars fell from the sky and the moon hung her head in misery.  Our tears left our faces wet and our eyes red with grief.  No longer the chosen.  No longer the loved.

One by one, we stood in silence, effigies of our previous lives.  The winds no longer moved our hair, but instead carved time upon our cheeks.  The flowers, denuded of their petaled poetry, turned their faces to the earth and the leaves once full of life, fell at our stony feet.

We stand, silent sentinels of a time when magic wove its way through our very veins.

ceg 10.1.11

At the Garden, by the Gate

From adventofreason’s Xanga Archives . . .

gardengate

My dearest Johannes,

There is a chance that I shall be able to find you yet.  I leave the islands today and should be in your fair city soon.  I can only hope that you will find it in your heart to greet me with open arms and a smile.  It has been a lifetime since I last felt your kiss brush against my skin and your whispers in my ear.  When I think of it, I tremble like a silly school girl.

I do remember that night we spent on the rooftop with stars above us and the glimmering of the lights from the city below us.  You said that the light made my skin glow.  I believe it is you who made my skin glow that night.  I can almost feel your mouth on mine, plucking it like some ripe fruit and savoring it at your leisure.  You had to keep your mouth on mine to keep me silent, lest some nosy passerby thought I were being ravaged against my will.

Do you still have that book of poetry that I gave you?  It took so long to write all of my favorite verses down for you.  That bit of a lyric that you loved so much; I never could find it and place it in the book for you, though I tried so hard.  I remember it was about a  rare flower found in a valley by a knight for his fair lady.

I never did believe Madeline when she told me that you had left.  I knew that no power could keep you from me and that you must have been taken by force.  Conscripted into the army, no doubt.  Set sail on some loathsome ship with wretched captors.  Or perhaps it was a robbery gone wrong that found you in the hands of some foul misanthrope.  It makes me shudder.  The thought of you being held against your will; my name upon your lips as you fought to get away.

I dream of you every night and know that I have at last found a trace of you.  I am saddened that your ordeal has erased my memory from you, but I am confident when you see me again, you will once again embrace me with the same vigor you held me all those years ago.

Until then, I leave you with this

In spring’s fair winds you seek me
Trembling to behold thee
In white linen’s sheaths I wait
At the garden by the gate
And when beheld by your eyes
I shall be your bonny prize
Your treasured love hast returned
Upon my heart your name is burned
  Fetch me now, I pray
  And by your side I’ll stay

Your Trijntje

ceg 2.20.12

Bugiardo and the Signorina

bugiardo2

Link to Part 1

I stared dumbly at the man, who before had seemed rather benign, but now appeared more sinister.  He leaned forward and reached for my hand, shaking it and introduced himself as Signore Bugiardo.  He then stood, bowed slightly and left without another word.  As I watched him depart, I was baffled, somewhat irritated and more than a little concerned. It was then that I realized that he had secreted a small piece of paper into my still-opened palm.

I had watched enough movies and read enough books to know better than to sit there and read the note.  I may be an amateur but I am not a stupid one.  I gently closed my hand over the note and continued gazing out the window, concentrating on acted interested in the view.  I counted to 100 tend times before rising and carefully making my way to the ladies’ room.  With practiced disinterest, I looked over the heads of the other passengers who were in various states of bored sleep.  Of the man, I saw no indication.

I opened the door to the lavatory that I would have never gone to if it weren’t for the note pressing itself into my hand.  I entered, put the seat down and sat.  Wasting no more time, I quickly opened the note.   In cramped writing I saw:

bugiardo

I stared at the note for a few minutes trying to fathom the implications of Bugiardo’s note, simultaneously memorizing every word, every nuance of it.  After a few moments, I returned the note to its former state and pushed it into my mouth.  With a grimace, then a cupped hand of water, I swallowed the note.  The short melodrama of the act amused me somewhat and when I caught my reflection, I saw a wry smile playing about my lips.  I quickly left the confining space and returned to my seat and resumed staring out the window.
Later, as I watched the train pull away from the station, Canada bound, I picked up my suitcase and asked the ticket agent about applying my refund towards a return ticket.  The man simply smiled and wordlessly handed me an envelope with my name written in a familiar hand.  Inside was a return ticket.  I looked at the ticket agent, who nodded.

“You have made the right decision, signorina.”

He turned away and I was left standing and staring at him before turning away myself to wait for my train.

Years later, sitting at a café with one of my few friends, we talked about trifling matters before she lit a cigarette and after a long pull, she commented on how I had changed after that trip that I had refused to speak of.  I asked her how she thought I had changed.  She mulled it over for a few long moments and then spoke carefully, looking at a place just beyond my shoulder.

“You seem more secretive now.  You rarely give straight answers to questions. I think of all the times I asked you about the time you left with little explanation and returned abruptly with even less of an explanation.  What happened?  Really.”

“Nothing,” I returned.  “I just changed my mind.”

“Bugiarda,” she replied, angrily stabbing her cigarette out.

With a start, I asked her what she had said.

“I called you a liar, cara mia.”

ceg 8.28.15

Immediacy

images

He watched my foot tapping turn to a full-force dance and he laughed.

Not the sweet laugh from long ago, but the kind that is mean.  I don’t think I will ever forget the ugliness of it.  He knew I was almost frantic in my need, and yet he laughed, finding humor in my pain.  What is it they call it?  Schadenfreude? Coming from someone who is supposed to love you, it is never appealing.

That incessant need-It starts with a gentle nudge and builds to this screaming demand that refuses to quit until heeded. Unrelenting.  My thighs were squeezed together and I was using those I internal muscles I had learned about when I was pregnant.  Squeeze.  Hold.  Breathe.  I was terrified of losing it completely in public, but he thought it was funny.  He laughed as he saw tears begin to swim in my eyes.  I had come to terms with his bullying.  I had learned to ignore the almost constant stream of belittlement.  This laughing thing was an unwelcome addition to an awful repertoire that he had displayed for years now.

Through the blur of my tears, I spied the urban equivalent of an outhouse.  To me, it looked like a green gateway to paradise.  My nose found it as well, but my need was too great to worry about that.  I “ran” with my knees squished together, beginning to gag from the smell.  I heard his peals of laughter ringing in my ears and the sound of my own retching, as I grabbed the handle and slammed the door shut behind me. Fumbling quickly with the button and zipper of my jeans (had it always been so difficult?), I managed to yank them down and sit before my bladder completely let go. I cried in relief and gingerly rubbed my tender side.  In a fit of pique, his boot had connected with my ribs. The resulting bloom of blue, purple and black was impressive.

When I emerged from that little hut of horror and blessed release, I looked for him and contemplated, and not for the first time, what it would be like if I could just run away.  Run away and not look back.  I had stayed with him all these years.  I couldn’t just leave, even though he was a monster.  A monster.

But, I stay.

It’s not like you can divorce your own child.

ceg 7.24.15

A Story and A Dream

     Image

People said that “her hair was as black and as wild as the grackles which kept vigil at her window.”

I don’t know if this is true, but I can tell you that it framed her face with visions of midnight dances against the glowing embers of a January fire.  

Her laughter was a song, almost lost to the capricious winds that made sailors dream of spice islands and nights spent in the arms of desire.

They say the her lips were succulent berries, plucked from vines no man has seen before or since.  Men would swear that if you kissed them long enough, passionately enough, you would taste the essence of ecstasy. 

The contours of her form were meant for delight, joy, and enchantment.  

Goddess, woman, stuff of fairy tales; I do not know which.  

But I do know that I loved her once.  

In memories.

Or dreams.

she dreams of knights and maidens fair
and wonders now if she should dare
to see beyond her virgin’s bed
a man who yearns see her wed
who, swept up with passion’s thrall
would beseech her to forever call
his favored name as her true love
a radiant blessing from above
if only she should dare to pray
that he will find her some golden day

ceg 1.23.14

A Winter’s Tale

Aurora over the Hay River, Northwest Territories

and was he very brave?

indeed, he was, brave and strong and
so handsome it made us almost cry

why would you cry, mummy?

not sad tears, mind you, but tears
that were proud and full of joy
sometimes, as you will see, very strong
feelings sometimes cannot be kept
inside your heart, but they must find
their way out and up into the sky

will i see him again?

i see him in your baby brother’s face
and in the lights of the skies at night
sometimes i think i hear him still calling
my name and i want to go to him

you won’t leave me though, will you mummy?

no never, my sweet
he would not want it, nor would i
he lives in the deepest woods
in the falling snow
in the silence of the night
and the brilliance of your eyes

does he love us still, do you think?

he loves us forever and a half
and he will always be here
when we think of him
and call him home

© ceg 11.26.11

The Red Beast

Image

She fell in love with it the first time she saw it.  She actually squealed with delight and declared then and there that she must have it or die.

He looked at the bright red monstrosity and  shook his head; whether in disbelief or deep regret none of the smiling old timers knew.  But Joe knew that  Maddie would give him no rest until the natural gas-powered Servel refrigerator was hogging up space in their new house. He found out later that it had been custom painted in a body shop.  And it was BRIGHT red.  Very bright. And heavy.

After several sighs on his part and pleading eyes on her part, the deal was made and a delivery date set.  Joe was certain the quiet chuckles erupted into yowls of laughter and disbelief as soon as the door shut behind them.  Maybe even an undercurrent of sympathy for him-the man Maddie had set her cap for twelve years ago.  The man who did whatever it took to make her happy.  The man who just bought a bright red Servel gas refrigerator.

The layout of their home was a bit unusual; the only way to the kitchen was to go through the main level and down a staircase.  A very narrow staircase with a 90 degree turn in it. And then another.

Maddie met the delivery men out front and told them how it was going to have to go in.  The delivery men looked at her dubiously and asked to see the kitchen.  She led them in and brought them to the stairs and down to the kitchen.  After an abbreviated discussion, they knew she was right.  A look of dread passed between the three men’s eyes before going out to get the beast.

The thing easily weighed 400 pounds.  Probably more.

And it got stuck on the stairs.

For four hours.

The house was filled with salty expletives, grunts, thuds and the occasional prayer.  Joe came home and offered nothing but sympathetic looks to the weary, sweating men.  Maddie fretted about the living room, asking the ceiling how she was supposed to use a refrigerator whose new home was on her stairs.

After more grunting, thudding, cursing (and the occasional prayer) the red behemoth finally moved and found its new home in Maddie’s kitchen.  The men made short order of getting it installed and handing her the user’s manual.  They explained how it had to be charged from time to time and that she had to put her food items in it a certain way to maximize efficiency.  She waved them away absently; she only had eyes for her beloved red Servel.

Joe, for his part, was glad that he had surrendered to her desire.  It made her happy.  She had this way of pushing the door shut with her hip that always got him thinking how much he loved those hips.  And how the color of the kitchen beast often reminded him of the color of her lipstick when it was a “going out on the town” night.

That had been almost 60 years ago.

The bright red Servel still stood, hogging up more than its share of the kitchen, but Maddie had died years ago.

Joe still could hear her cooing over it the first time she saw it.

The way she pushed it shut with her hip.

The way she kissed him with those Servel red lips when it was a big night out on the town.

He stared at it as it hummed quietly.  With a sigh, he rubbed the spot on the door that had kissed Maddie’s hip for so many years. He shut off the lights and clambered up to bed, wishing, not for the first time, that she were still there. Still telling him how to make her happy.

© ceg  6.11.13