Happy Belated #ThreeWordWednesday

The sullen man next to me on the bus made me uneasy.  He was dressed in less-than-clean clothes and didn’t appear to have shaved for about a week.  I had the distinct impression (reinforced by his sotto voce mutterings) that he was irrational.  I was stuck, though – the seats were full and people jammed the aisles, shifting and dodging in a nearly Brownian motion at each stop. I exchanged a glance, and raised eyebrows, with my other seatmate over the man’s bowed head. The third member of our happy little group was the sullen man’s polar opposite – Hugo Boss, clean-shaven and just, well, clean; he nearly looked like he was spit-shined. Ex-military, I’ll bet, I thought briefly, and pushed aside everything to try to order my workday before I hit my desk.

This was a long ride, all the way down Lakeshore Boulevard and then on the freeway to East Ninth.  I’d missed my usual express bus, which got on the freeway right away.  I wouldn’t do that again.

The squeal of the doors at yet another stop broke into my reverie. A pretty lady in a business suit and heels got on and shifted into the mass of standees.  She was pregnant – at a guess, about five months. She grabbed the overhead bar – which she could just reach – and balanced herself with the briefcase in her other hand.

The spit-and-polish businessman gave her one look – just a glance, really – and went back to his iPad. Just as I was about to stand and offer her my seat, the man next to me beat me to it.

In a gentle voice that I could barely hear over the noise of people’s voices and MP3 players whose earphones leaked a cacophony of music, the man, with a sweet smile that completely changed his face, said “Please, ma’am, have my seat.”

The Allegory of the Long Spoons (look it up) talks about the difference between heaven and hell being that in heaven people feed each other and in hell, they only worry about themselves.  For me, from now on, there’s going to be an Allegory of the Bus Seat. And maybe, too, a lesson about impressions and how misleading they can be.

Tonight, #poetry – 2/5/2013

Snowing@Night_6573

On this empty night, I listen
to the unromantic sound of the furnace
and in between snow spatting against the windows
Morse code of no meaning.

The cat scattered the deck; cards tossed across the floor
It’s okay – I was cheating anyway
Nothing holds my interest tonight
Not my thoughts or the quiet jazz on the speakers

I would like to not think of you
For my only considerations to be of
Silly games and my plans for tomorrow
Not of signing on and not finding you there

It’s not like I don’t have friends – good ones, too.
They are kind, but I want more than that.
I want what you will not give me
It hurts, and for tonight, I wish I didn’t care.

Amputation (Poetry, 9/25/12)

Another four o clock

The tears on my face mirrored

in the rain on the window

This isn’t how it was supposed to be

Not what I was building towards

My life crumbling inside my heart wearing down

Like the bones like my health like me

Waiting to hear from you

Please don’t go away

I’ve had enough cut out of me

I can’t bear to lose you, too.

Let’s Dance, #FridayFlash 7/6/2012 (Lisa and Philippe #5)

Lisa sighed and looked around the house.  It was clean, for once – amazingly so.  But with their sons, Gaston and Marc, visiting her parents in Pennsylvania, it was a lot easier to stay on top of things. Of course, when they returned, it would go back to normal, but that was okay too. She and Philippe had agreed the night before that neat was nice, but things had been too quiet lately. And then I had to snap at him this morning…

She locked the apartment and headed out, pulling her cart behind her. Lisa wanted to get to the marché before it got too busy, get what she needed for today so she could return and finish writing the story she’d been working on.

The streets were relatively quiet and she made good time. Lisa greeted the security guard, who swung the door open and held it so she could bring the cart in without banging it on the door. She waved to those she knew as she passed.

Bella, when are you going to leave Philippe and run away with me?” Fratello, one of the vendors at the corner spice stand, called out to her as she passed. Lisa exchanged smiles with Fratello’s long-suffering wife, Antonia.

“How do you put up with him?”

“Ah, we can’t all be lucky like you!”

“Hey!” Fratello gave her a look of mock hurt. “That’s not what you said to me last night!” He squeezed his wife in an enormous hug and she pretended to swat him.

Lisa laughed and kept going.  The speakers overhead kicked into life and she recognized the opening sounds of Aznavour’s “For Me, Formidable”.  She sang as she passed Stephane and Philippe’s stand:

                “You are the one, for me, for me, for me, formidable…”

Stephane looked up from where he was placing loaves in the case and grinned.

                “You are my love, very, very, very, véritable …”

From behind her, Philippe’s voice joined in.

“Et je voudrais pouvoir un jour enfin te le dire,
Te l’écrire
Dans la langue de Shakespeare…”

She turned toward her husband and he swung her around, dancing with her in time to the exuberant music. Around them, the marché was starting to wake up, vendors unpacking trucks and putting vegetables, meat and other products on display. The couple danced on, the smiles of those around them unnoticed, as Philippe continued singing alone.

Darling, I love you, love you, Darling, I want you … you are the one for me, for me, for me, formidable…”

He kissed her heartily as the song ended, but instead of walking back to help Stephane, he cupped her face in his hands, his expression serious.

“Philippe? I’m so sorry –”

“I love you so…” he interrupted, softly, hardly more than a whisper.

Lisa answered him silently, her love showing without a word. “Forgive me?”

“Of course. Need you ask?”

“Let’s always dance together.”

His eyes smiled back. “Always, ma chérie.” He winked. “I think it’s a good thing the boys are away.”

A moment later, Lisa moved down the aisle, cheeks pink, Philippe’s kiss on her lips, hugging his whispered promise to her heart.

[A/N: This is the continuation of “Cherries”, two Three-Word Wednesday pieces and “An afternoon with mon Papa”.  My hope is to write 3 to 5 more stories and create an e-book]

An afternoon with mon papa – #FridayFlash – 3/23/2012, Lisa and Philippe #4

[Author’s Note: This is a revisit to my “Cherries” universe, a follow up to this Flash piece.]

Lisa tiptoed toward the door.  Philippe looked up and smiled. “Don’t forget the milk, chérie!  Be careful driving.”

She waved her hands, and, too late, Philippe winced. “Sorry,” he mouthed.

Maman!” Her shoulders drooped.  Gaston came toddling around the corner at as full a speed as a eighteen-month-old could manage, and latched himself onto her legs.

Non, mon p’tit,” said a repentant Philippe as he scooped his son high in the air. “Maman allez.”

Non, papa.  Maman rester.”

“Don’t you love Papa?”

The little boy studied him solemnly for a moment and turned back to Lisa, arms outstretched. “Gaston allez!”

“Non, chéri.” She brushed his cheek, kissed his nose. “Have fun with Papa.” She exited as quickly as she could manage.

Gaston’s face puckered into a pout. He began sniffling, and it wasn’t long before he was crying.  Philippe futilely tried distracting his son.

Half an hour and nearly a whole box of toys later, Gaston was standing silently at the window, clutching the curtains and watching for Lisa’s car.  Philippe was stretched out on the floor trying not to fall asleep.  He propped himself on his elbows and watched the little boy compassionately.

He crawled over to the window and cuddled Gaston. “I miss Maman, too, when she goes.” His well-meant sympathy brought tears to the little one’s eyes, which ramped back up to full-fledged crying again.

Hé, p’tit. Maybe a song?”  He thought for a minute and began. “C’est la poulette grise qui pond dans l’église…” Gaston only got louder and Philippe stopped. “Ok, not a song.” He tilted his head to one side. “Although I must say I don’t think my voice is that bad.”

He rocked the little boy and thought. A book, of course! Forty-five minutes later, he had gone through Bonsoir Lune, half a dozen Golden Books and a toy catalog that had come in the mail that day. The little boy subsided into noisy sobs and Philippe felt like joining him.

“How about something to eat?” Gaston refused all offers, looking wistfully at the door where Lisa had disappeared.

Philippe walked the floor with his son, back and forth, and tried with no success to come up with a story of his own. Finally, he sat down on the couch and turned on the Habs, playing a rare afternoon game against Vancouver.  “Regardez, Gaston! Hockey!”  At that moment, Max Pacioretty finessed a shot past Schneider, who was spelling Luongo between the pipes, and the goal horn set Gaston off again.

Philippe slumped back in the sofa.  “Je me rends. I am a horrible father.” He gave Gaston a long, sad look, and the little boy quieted to hiccups.

***

Lisa sighed as she unlocked the door.  She loved her husband and adored her son, but sometimes she just had to get away for a bit.

As she closed the door behind her, Lisa froze in shock.  The room was a shambles, with toys and books scattered across the floor, the orange juice out on the counter, along with a banana, half a sandwich and a small pile of cookies.  The hockey game had given way to L’antichambre, and the sound was off.

“Philippe?” Lisa called quietly.

A small head popped up over the back of the couch. Gaston tried putting one finger to his lips and said, “Chut, Maman.” His little voice dropped to a whisper. “Papa dort.”

She came around the couch cautiously. Philippe was indeed asleep, Gaston’s favorite blanket partially covering his chest and the boy’s small pillow gently placed over his father’s face.

“Gaston aime Papa.” The little boy patted his father’s hand, crawled between Philippe and the back of the couch and carefully laid down next to him. Philippe stirred in his sleep and laid a gentle hand on his son’s head.

Three Word Wednesday, 1/4/2011

Naughty, Tactic, Zenith

Xeri focused briefly on the terrain in front of her and then strode briskly on a course three degrees to the left.  I’m sure this is where it is — it’s the kind of tactic he’d use.

Nearly half a wake period later, she stopped in front of three rocks, sculpted together by the wind. For years, they had met here, played, grown and bonded, to the despair of their parents. Naughty girl, she could remember her mother crying, and after we’ve worked so hard to establish the contract with Caetor Brandis. Do you know what you’re doing?

Xeri had shrugged her shoulders and nonchalantly accepted her punishment. I can’t help it if Ixle Brandis thinks he wants me. It will be Falai or no one. She repeated the words to her father, who visibly sagged and returned the mate-price to the Caetor. The following winters had been very difficult — and would have been worse had Falai not done what he could to help her.

What’s past is past. She climbed the rocks, finding the familiar hand and footholds, until she reached the zenith. Her vision blurred with tears, but she brushed them away angrily. Falai would laugh at me.  He had been gentle and practical — even-tempered, not given to much emotion; a stark contrast to her volatile nature.

You give me fire and I –“

You gentle me. Yes.”

It had been their balance.  Now she had to find a new balance, alone.

Xeri reached out with her mind — here, there — trying to sense what he’d left behind. There?  No, there! She let her sense brush it gently, bring it to life. Slowly, before her eyes, a spark glimmered and grew. It was all that was Farai, all that was left of him. She cupped her hands in front of her, and the light floated to them, settling in.

“Xeri.”

“Yes, kerame?” The light glittered on her face in the wake of a single tear.

“Always with you. Always.”

“I know. And I with you.”

“Let me go now.” When she hesitated, his face shimmered briefly in front of her. “You must, mekera.”

“Yes.” She spoke the word of release under her breath, and the light rose, and thinned and vanished on the wind.

“Always…”

Lisa and Philippe #3, Three Word Wednesday, 9/28/2011

Cherish, Guarantee, Nausea – Thought I’d have some fun following up Cherries and this story

Lisa clenched her teeth tightly as the wave of nausea passed over her.  She glanced at the timer set on the bathroom sink and closed her eyes. Just five more minutes… Not that there’s any real doubt, is there?

Philippe peeked around the corner of the door, wary. Lisa’s temper had been a byword for the last week, and he didn’t want to set her off.

She smiled wanly. “It’s okay. I won’t snap your head off.”

He entered, sat down beside her on the side of the bathtub and handed her a mug of steaming hot licorice tea.

“Are you sure this will work?”

“Yes.” He gave her a sideways glance. “I guarantee it. I remember… Maman… Stephane.  It’ll help.”

She sipped slowly and he put his arm around her to pull her close.

“I love you, Philippe.”

“I know, ma belle. And I cherish you.”

The timer chimed. They both started, and then exchanged a long look.

“You look,” she said. “I can’t.”

Philippe stretched out one long arm and picked up the stick. “If there’s a line, yes?”

“Yes.”

A smile slowly spread across his face, like the sun dawning in the bathroom’s small window. He pulled her to him more tightly and kissed her on top of her head.  “So, what shall we name him?”

“Him?”