The cool morning breeze gently caresses my face as I sit on the front porch admiring the colorful landscapes of summer. It is here, on this porch, where I gave birth to many dreams. Some came true, some did not.
Now I sit on this porch and memories are stirred of children growing up in this yard, family pets that have come and gone, neighbors that have moved in or out.
My fondest memories on this porch are watching my children walk down to the school bus, come home from school, playing in the yard, and the very fun water fights that often started with a squirt gun.
I usually instigated in squirt gun fight.
Once, in the dead of winter, I opened the front door and squirted my then teenage son and his friends. They were quite shocked when I ran after them in my bare feet right across the ice. They were so stunned that I actually was able to give them quite a soaking.
Now, I sit here and see my youngest grand son playing on this porch with all the wonder and zeal of a three-year old. He is in for a surprise this summer as I have decided it’s time to introduce him to the squirt gun fight!
The cool morning breeze gently caresses my face as I sit on the front porch admiring the colorful landscapes of summer. It is here, on this porch, where I gave birth to many dreams. Some came true, some did not.
Best friends they say are worth their weight in gold.
Makes no difference if they are new or friends from long ago.
Best friends hear you when you silently cry.
And stand by you without asking why.
They give you space when you need it most.
About your accomplishments they will boast.
They fill your soul with joy and gladness.
And help to wipe away your sadness.
They encourage you when you are down.
And when needed, put your feet back on the ground.
Having a friend like you makes me blessed.
To you all my secrets I have confessed.
A trusted friend like you is like a rare pearl.
Thank you for letting me into your world.
Morning intrudes upon our sleep, but brings the day in its place.
The darkness leaves and allows the sun to shine upon our face.
Another chance to spend some time with those you hold dear.
Be careful to tend to every day as they will quickly slip into a year.
Adrienne stood staring at the mirror. She didn’t see the lines of life that lay like a map on her face, deep and harsh around the mouth and long slightly curved ones around the eyes. Her cheeks were starting to lie in vertical layers and her eye lids drooped to partially cover her large green eyes. Eyes that were once bright and filled with wonder now are dull and saddened by the passage of time.
She could hear voices behind her, someone speaking about her and old age and Alzheimer’s or something. Not me, Adrienne thought still staring at the mirror seeing a young woman about thirty or so instead of the 86 year old face everyone else witnessed.
Every so often, tears would find their way down the tracks yielded by many nights of sorrow and wailing when she was alone, alone, without her Darcy. Darcy was the love of her life. She couldn’t help the way she felt. Her husband had lost passion for her at a young age and put all his energy into his career. He left her alone often with her children and an unfulfilled sense of purpose. No one could blame her for seeking out a lover and a little slice of life for herself. But, her children never suffered. They never knew about him or her unhappiness with life without him. They grew up like other children loving and needing their mother when they were young, hating her when they were teenagers, and leaving her behind to pursue their own dreams when they became adults.
“Miss Adrienne, come now. It’s time to go to bed. You need your rest, sweetie.”
Adrienne looked at the nurse grabbing her arm, nudging her away from her stance at the hallway mirror.
“No, I’m not ready to go,” Adrienne answered her and pulled her arm back. “Not yet.”
“Come now, Miss Adrienne. Let’s get you settled.”
Adrienne gave in and went with the nurse to the bleak bedroom. The room reminded her of the old black and white movies and even looked a little frightening. Everything was in shades of grey and white and the walls were stark and high.
“There you go, Miss Adrienne. Slide right on into bed. You’ll feel better in the morning. Now, here’s your sleeping pill. Make sure you take it or you will be up walking the halls again.”
Adrienne slipped in to the cold unwelcoming sheets and took the sleeping pill. But, the problem was that she always ended up vomiting them up. She wasn’t doing it on purpose, but, was afraid to tell anyone. They might give her an injection again and she hated them. She shuddered at the memory of the injection she received the night her Darcy disappeared.
It was her forty fifth birthday and Adrienne was putting on her very best evening dress. It was dark blue with white satin trim. It had a deep plunging neck line and slits up the side. White pearls or diamonds was her dilemma. She lightly scented herself with her favorite perfume and put on her four inch heels. Anticipation was rushing over her like waves that grew in strength and size with each passing. Will tonight be the night she asked herself? Will Darcy finally profess his love and ask her to marry him? She stared at the mirror as if frozen in time and dreamed of a life with him now that her children were grown and on their own. Her husband barely knew she was alive. I deserve some happiness too, she said to herself.
“Miss Adrienne, are you still awake?” The nurse came into the room and tucked her in bed. “Now, you took that sleeping pill, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” Adrienne answered. “I’m just not tired yet.”
“Would you like a glass of warm milk?”
“Maybe that will help,” Adrienne answered knowing it really wouldn’t make a difference. The nights were long, but, Adrienne didn’t mind. She spent her time alone in the bliss of a life of romance and joy that had long since passed. Nights of romantic intrigue with Darcy played in her mind like reruns of a favorite movie. They were nights filled with romance, parties, and friends. It was as though she lived two separate lives. At first she found it exciting to sneak off into the night and not tell her family where she was going. It was easy, though. Maybe it was too easy. It seemed no one missed her.
The nurse came back into the room with the warm milk. “Here you go, Sweetie. Drink it down and I will pick up the glass later. Have a lovely dream.”
Adrienne wished the nurse hadn’t mentioned the injection earlier. Now she couldn’t get it off her mind. The injection they gave her when Darcy disappeared made her sleep for what seemed like months. She had no recollection of that time in the hospital. Perhaps if they hadn’t given her that injection and kept her there, she would have found Darcy. If he had come looking for her, he wouldn’t have known where to find her. How could he know? He never had contact with any of her family. He never called direct for fear her husband would answer. It was always Adrienne that made the contact except for rare occasions when he would ring her once and hang up as a signal. Her husband had discontinued her phone service when she was in the hospital. He later restored the phone service, but, the number was not the same.
Adrienne’s night would now be filled with distress and sadness instead of the bliss of joyful memories that usually lasted well into the dawn. Then, she would rest peacefully till about nine o’clock when they would come to take her to breakfast.
Adrienne felt tears trickle down her cheeks, causing her pillow to be damp. The bad memories were flooding back as her body shuddered with the pain that started from her neck and cascaded down her entire body. “Darcy,” she cried. “Where were you?”
“Miss Adrienne, are you ok?” the nurse called from her door. “Are you crying? Are you in pain?”
“Just a nightmare,” Adrienne answered quickly hoping the nurse wouldn’t come in and find her in such a state. Surely, they would give her one of those injections.
“Ok then,” the nurse spoke again. “Let me know if you need anything.”
Adrienne tried to push the unpleasant memories back so she could think about the romantic dances she used to have with Darcy under the stars in his backyard, but, they wouldn’t relent. She hugged her pillow tightly and gave up trying. Her memories brought her back to the night that ended her hope of a better life. She had taken the whole afternoon preparing for the wonderful evening she would be spending with her love, her Darcy. She admired her beautiful gown in the mirror, her long auburn hair laying gently over her shoulders, and the brilliant diamond necklace shimmering from the strong bathroom light shining above her head.
Adrienne’s husband knocked on the bathroom door. “Addie, I’m leaving now. I will be back on Monday. Please remember to mail those letters I left on the table. They are very important. At last he is gone, she thought. Now she could finish packing her make-up bag and put her belongings into the car. “I’m never coming back,” she said aloud, smiling at herself in the mirror.
Darcy had found her a darling little cottage to rent on the water. He had tried for a long time to get Adrienne to move out of her unhappy home. Now it was really happening. Adrienne tingled with excitement, wondering if Darcy was going to propose now that she was leaving her husband. Maybe this is what he was waiting for.
She got into her car and drove to the cottage, anticipation growing with each nearing mile. She pulled into the long dirt driveway, framed with large weeping willow trees. The welcoming wooden porch was laden with beautiful summer blooms planted in large ceramic containers. The air was heavy with the flowery aroma and the scent of the lake gently rolling to the shore just a few feet away. She wondered how long it would be before Darcy arrived to take her out for dinner and dancing at the country club.
Darcy never came. Adrienne waited for hours, sitting on the porch in her beautiful evening gown. She tried to phone, but he didn’t answer. She had even called the local police department and hospital to make sure nothing happened to him. She didn’t have the phone numbers of his friends.
She got into her car and began to drive up and down the roads searching for him. She drove back to his house and found his car still in the drive and rushed up to the house.
“Darcy, are you home?” Adrienne asked as she entered through the front door. There wasn’t anyone inside. Darcy’s wallet lay on the counter along with his car keys. After searching the whole house, Adrienne decided to phone the police. They weren’t much help though. She took another look around the house and then went back to her car. She sat, trembling, not sure what to do next. She didn’t even know who to call. Darcy never gave her phone numbers of his friends or family.
What was his name, Adrienne asked herself. Darcy’s best friend’s name was Allen, but, Allen what. Adrienne headed back to the little cottage where she could sit and try to think things through. She would have to calm down so she could think clearly. Obviously, Darcy was in some kind of trouble and needed her help.
Adrienne sat at the little wooden desk in the front room of the little cottage and started making a list of names of people Darcy had introduced her to. There was his sister Ellen and her husband Bob. She couldn’t remember Bob’s last name either.
“Miss Adrienne,” the nurse whispered as she picked up the glass from Adrienne’s night table. “Are you asleep?” There was no answer. “Well, then sleep well Sweetie.”
Adrienne had lost her train of thought and finally drifted off to a restless sleep tossing and turning. Pleasant dreams wouldn’t come tonight, only the fear and loss of her love. Tears traveled down a familiar path in her face and settled on a damp pillow.
“Good morning, Mom. How are you today?”
“Melanie, I am so happy to see you. Is it morning already? I can’t believe you are finally here,” Adrienne smiled up at her daughter.
“Of course I’m here, Mom. It’s Tuesday. I come every Tuesday,” her daughter responded. “Are you hungry? I would like to take you out to breakfast. Does that sound good?”
“Oh yes, I would love to go out. I just have to dress. I want to wear the white dress with the blue roses. It reminds me of spring.”
“Let me help you with it,” Melanie said as she withdrew the dress from the small closet space. She removed the dry cleaning bag and held it up. “Oh yes, it does look like spring,” she said. “It will look lovely on you, Mom.”
Adrienne smiled as she removed her night clothes and reached for the cotton dress with a semi-long flowing skirt. It made her feel young and light hearted. She even did a twirl once she got the dress on. She took Melanie’s hand and they headed for the Porsche that was parked out front.
“Is that your car?” Adrienne asked her. “Wow, that’s something.”
“It’s the same kind of car Darcy drove, remember,” Melanie said.
“You know about Darcy? How did you ever find out? I was so careful to keep him secret all those years ago. How long have you known?”
“Mom, we all knew Darcy. Are you forgetting again?”
“But, I never told anyone.” Adrienne began to shake from the anxiety enveloping her.
“Oh Mom, please try not to be upset. I just wanted to have a nice breakfast with you. Maybe we could talk about something else.” Jonathon is going to meet us at the restaurant. It’s been awhile since you’ve seen him.
“Jonathon,” Adrienne paused.
“Yes Mom, your son.”
“I know. I know who my son is. Are we almost there?”
“I just need to find a parking spot. Are you up to walking a bit? There doesn’t seem to be any parking places close by.”
“Oh yes”, Adrienne answered. I love to walk. I hardly ever get to walk anywhere past the yard at the nursing home. They won’t let me step foot off the property.”
Adrienne got out of the car and looked around. Everything looked familiar, sort of.
She walked happily with her daughter for two blocks to a little café where Jonathon was sitting in a window side booth waiting for them. He smiled out the window at his mother whom he adored. He didn’t like visiting her at the nursing home. He couldn’t bear to think of her living anywhere but the beautiful little cottage by the water, waves pounding on the shore, beautiful flowers everywhere. She loved it so.
“Mom,” Jonathon stood up to greet her. “I am so happy to see you. You look wonderful.” Jonathon was somehow able to look past the passage of time that took a toll on her face. He just saw his lovely mother, a woman of elegance and grace.
Adrienne backed up suddenly. “Who is that?” She was trembling and almost fell back.
“Mom, it’s me, Jonathon. It’s your son. I know you will remember in a minute. Please sit down and we will get you some tea.”
Adrienne slid into the booth still feeling unsure.
“Why do you suppose Mom remembers you and not me? Maybe it’s because you are able to see her more often. I wish I could be here more.”
“Don’t be too hard on yourself, John. You have a family and business four hundred miles away. Anyway, the disease is random when it comes to which memories stand and which ones fall”
“Melanie, did this young man know Darcy? Do you think he knows what happened to him?”
“Mom, we all knew Darcy, don’t you remember?”
“But, I lost my Darcy that night. It was my fortieth birthday. I searched everywhere for him.”
The tears filling Adrienne’s eyes broke Jonathon’s heart. He hated to see her so sad. He reached into his briefcase and pulled out a small gift wrapped package with a blue bow. “This is for you, Mom. I made this special for you.”
“Look,” Adrienne said. “The paper has blue roses on it. You remembered that I love blue roses. It’s really too pretty to open.” She took the little package and held it over her heart. “You must be my son. You remembered the blue roses.”
“Open it Mom. It’s a DVD. I had it copied from an old VHS tape of yours. I hope it will help you remember. Take it home with you and watch it.”
Adrienne smiled and slipped the little package in to her purse. They finished their breakfast and left the café. “Are we going back to the nursing home, Melanie? It’s such a lovely day. Couldn’t we spend some time outside somewhere? It is such a lovely day. I get so bored in that little room.” Adrienne brushed her white flowing hair back from her face. She walked a little easier than usual as they headed towards Melanie’s car.
“Mom,” Melanie began. “You seem to be feeling a little better today. Would you like to come back to my house? We could watch the video and then maybe have tea in the garden. What do you think?”
“That would be lovely, Melanie. I haven’t been to your house in awhile. Let’s do it.”
When they got to the house, Melanie set up the DVD player in the family room and brought out some tea and cakes to have while they watched the DVD. Adrianne sat anxiously waiting to see what the movie was about.
“Oh, Melanie, it’s someone’s wedding. Look at that lovely wedding gown with tiny blue roses around the waist and neckline. Isn’t it gorgeous…? Melanie, that’s me. That’s my dress.”
“Yes, Mom, it is. You were a beautiful bride. Look how happy you were.”
“But Melanie, that’s Darcy. How is that possible? Look, that’s Darcy. I can’t believe it.”
“I know you don’t remember Mom. A couple years after you and Dad were divorced, Darcy showed up at your door.”
“Oh, yes…yes. He had been looking for me. We were both in the hospital at the same time without knowing it.”
“That’s right, Mom. Darcy was rushed to the hospital on your fortieth birthday. At the time, you didn’t know what happen to him.”
“I remember now. Darcy found me and we were married. Oh, Melanie, how could I forget?” Adrienne’s eyes filled with tears of joy this time as she watched Darcy and herself married. She had a blissful marriage with him. “I’m afraid I will forget again, Melanie. I don’t want to forget again!”
“That’s why Jonathon made the DVD for you. You can watch it whenever you want. He sent a DVD player with me. You can take it home with you. What’s wrong now, Mom? Why are you crying?”
“I was thinking about Darcy’s funeral. It broke my heart when he died. We had a wonderful marriage, you know. We did everything together. But, it’s ok. I have this beautiful movie and beautiful memories.”
“That’s right, Mom. Whenever you are feeling sad or you can’t remember, just play the DVD. It makes you smile.”
Adrienne brought the DVD home with her and placed it on the little white night stand. She called the nurse to help her set it up.
“Certainly, Miss Adrienne, I will be happy to set this up for you every night so you can have sweet dreams. Your daughter, Melanie, told me all about it. There you go. Now, just press Play on the remote when you are ready.”
“Thank you for your help,” Adrienne said as the nurse stepped out of the room. Adrienne sat back against the head board of her bed and pulled the warm quilt up to her neck. She smiled as she watched the handsome couple make their wedding vows. And oh the reception was wonderful too. Darcy held her in his arms and they seemed to float across the dance floor. Her long flowing hair glistened in the ball room lights and Darcy was as handsome as ever. She wished the night would never end. Adrienne drifted off to peaceful sleep and present dreams. There were no more thoughts of injections and hospitals. She had her Darcy and that was all that mattered.
I finally completed my challenge of writing two five hundred word stories for young children. It was definitely more difficult than I thought it would be, but I am happy with my results. Now to write the cover letter and send off the submissions to the publisher. I am still waiting to hear from my critique service about my seven hundred word picture book, “That Bee Is My Friend.” I am anxious to hear the results.
In the mean time, I am still working on my middle grade book, “Owen and Max Time Travel to Christmases Past.”
They will travel to a Christmas in 1800’s America, 1700’s London, 1600’s Germany, and finally to the first Christmas. I am enjoying writing this one so much. I can’t wait for Owen to read it.
It didn’t cross my mind that it would be challenging to write a children’s story in five-hundred words or less. I am comfortable with the eight-hundred word count for a picture book I wrote, so I thought this would be fairly easy. Turns out, it is a bit of a challenge to write an engaging story with interesting characters in such a short work. If you are looking for a writing challenge or an exercise in writing, try this one.
I was sitting in the surgical waiting room while my grandson was having surgery on his hand. Luckily, I brought a crochet project with me. It’s works like an anti-anxiety medication for me when I am required to sit still somewhere for too long a time. There I was, working the stitches minding my own business when an adorable little girl with large brown eyes and long light brown hair plopped down next to me. She had an irresistible smile that I found charming. After setting down an armful of bags and totes, her mother sat down next to her. Well she comes well prepared, I thought to myself and returned to my project. The little waiting room was filling up fast. How many of these things do they schedule at one time anyway.
A little while later, I looked up from my project to see the little girl tugging on her mother’s arm. But, Mom was to intent doing something on her phone. Perhaps she was texting or face booking I thought. Well, whichever one, she definitely found it more important than her daughter. “Mommy,” the little girl tried to get her attention again. This Gracious Grandma was about to put her two cents in when the little girl tipped her bowl of pickles all over herself and one of the totes. You could smell pickle all through the waiting room. Well, Mom jumped up at this time to take care of it.
It really tries my patience when I see a parent too busy texting or playing a game on their smart phone to pay attention to their child’s needs. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love smart phones and have one myself. However, I have no trouble restraining myself from using it when my grand children need me or when I am driving, etc.
It seems that young parents these days do have the same compassion for a child that we or our parents had. I see a child crossing her legs waiting to go to the bathroom and Mom or Dad simply makes her wait. Really, make the game wait…it won’t wet its pants
Well, it’s not off to the porch with my laptop yet. This rain is driving me crazy. I am craving the warmth of a summer’s day surrounding my being and uplifting my mood. Enough of the doldrums!!! So, I’ll sit at the table with my cup of coffee and revisit Ariel at the Inn where I left her.
Ariel finished her lunch and sat quietly watching the other patrons. She couldn’t help but notice that most everyone there seemed to be paired off into couples. Why am I having so much trouble finding the right person for me, she asked herself. She thought about her past relationships and how they were doomed. Must be me, she mumbled.
“What was that,” Tony asked. “I didn’t hear you.”
“Oh, I was just thinking out loud,” Ariel answered. “Sorry I am such bad company. I just have so much on my mind.”
“Are you sure you wouldn’t like to talk about it?” Tony asked her. “Sometimes it helps and I don’t mind being the sounding board.”
“Thank you for being so kind, Tony. But, I’m not ready to talk about it. It’s kind of hard to explain, but, I am not quite sure what is really going on.”
“Well, that sounds intriguing,” Tony said. “Here, take my card in case you change your mind. I would be glad to listen or perhaps help you sort out what’s going on.”
“Thank you,” Ariel said and took the card. “I think I will take a ride and try to relax.” She drove down the road past her cottage. She slowed down, but, didn’t stop. Nothing looked amiss, but, Ariel was still frightened. I wish John would get here she said to herself. Even though he could be a little difficult, John had a way of helping Ariel see the reality in a situation. She remembered the time she thought Cheryl, a bully from school, was following her home. It turned out that Cheryl had a crush on John and was following him around like a puppy. John had a good laugh about that one. She began to wonder, am I being just as silly about what is happening now? It was obviously not the first time she had acted a little paranoid. Well, I’m not taking any chances she said to herself. I’ll just wait till John gets here to prove me right or wrong and headed back to the little Inn.