Hospital Visit

Hospital Visit

I’d come to see my father, a man I hardly knew. I’d grown up with him, here and there, but only knew him as my dad, as a man who worked a job he hated and lived with a woman that wasn’t my mom. People would later tell me how funny he was, how much they enjoyed spending time with him, how adventurous he was. I wondered who they were talking about. But that would be later. For now, I’d come with a second hand book I thought he might like to have read to him and a vague idea that I would try to get to know him, or get to know what was left of his memories of himself.

Instead, as I was walking down the hall looking for room 204B, I heard a familiar voice and quite literally stopped in my tracks. It couldn’t possibly be who I thought it was, but it was very similar. Eerily similar. Far too close to be believed and I simply had to stick my head in to verify that this was in fact a case of my own memory playing tricks on me. Only there, right there upon a hospital bed that couldn’t possibly contain the personality upon it, was Mr. Tucker.

I quickly drew my head back out of the room and flattened my body against the wall outside the doorway. Feeling mildly ridiculous for such a move, I shook myself and realized I was smiling. Of course I was smiling. Who wouldn’t want to run into a man like Mr. Tucker after all these years. You see, Mr. Tucker was my teacher way back when, grade school, must have been third or fourth grade. Back when teachers told every student how perfect they were and every student believed them and adored them for it.

Would I be welcome in the hospital room. Would it be rude to walk in unannounced. What if Mr. Tucker suffered from the wasting away of his brain that my father was battling somewhere along this very hallway. The questions flooded my mind and rendered me immobile until I heard a shout that was so very un-Mr.Tucker-like that the next thing I knew I was within the room to stand witness to what was surely elderly abuse. It wasn’t, elderly abuse that is, it wasn’t at all. It was a young nurse, or perhaps even volunteer or candy striper, I didn’t think they had candy stripers anymore, who was finding that when Mr. Tucker said no, he meant no. She’d have known that if she’d had him in grade school.

I laughed aloud before I could stop myself and the scene froze before me: candy striper’s arms raised in battle with Mr. Tucker’s, a tray of grey food between them and a pink pitcher of ice or water or something precariously teetering on the edge of one of those rolling tables they insisted on providing to every hospital patient, as though anyone ever used them for anything other than setting vases of decaying flowers or the garbage from the latest injection.

“Mr. Tucker,” I said humorously, “you’re behaving badly. Give this girl a break, I’m sure she’s just doing her job. May I be of assistance?”

The young woman looked at me with a bit of relief before turning to Mr. Tucker and saying, “I’ll leave you to your guest, but you must get some of this in you or they won’t let you leave!” She backed away, straightening her uniform, before turning to leave but not before giving me a meaningful look. “I’ll be back in twenty, Mr. Tucker.”

Mr. Tucker rolled his eyes, a move he’d never have allowed from any of his students and I had to suppress another laugh. “Thank you for the rescue,” he said as he leaned forward looking towards the hallway, “and if you wouldn’t mind, there’s a toilet behind that door there you could take some of this and flush it for me.”

“I’ll flush one bite for every bite you take and if she tells me you’re allowed, I’ll give you a candy bar after, deal?”

He smiled and said, “you’re on! Now, you’ll have to forgive me, but I can’t quite place how I know you. Sit, tell me,” he indicated a chair near his bed as he picked up his fork and began pushing food around on the tray trying desperately to hide his look of disgust as he settled on a bite and forced himself to take it. I could see him cringing and figured the best remedy for a bad mean is good conversation.

“I wouldn’t expect you to remember me, Mr. Tucker. My name is Alice, and I was one of your students back in the day. Alice Tanner. I was walking by on my way to visit my father, he’s somewhere along here, when I heard your voice. It was unmistakable,” I smiled.

He smiled, too, and forced a swallow. “Right, that was four bites, I figure that’s about all I can handle unless you’d like to see it again. Off to the toilet with you,” and he handed me the tray.

I had to agree with him, whatever it was they were feeding him looked disgusting and none of it looked like anything I could name which was a bit frightening. I supposed if he was on a diet like this the odds of him being allowed a candy bar were slim to none, but I went to the toilet and flushed away a bit of the food as I’d promised. I returned the tray to the table and myself to the seat.

“Alice Tanner, yes, I’m beginning to see the girl inside the woman. You’re still very much the same, really, your walk. It’s there in your walk. Very determined. Good to see. What have you done with yourself these twenty years, or is it thirty? You’ll have to forgive me as I’ve lost track of time since retiring.”

“I’m surprised you remember me, sir, I never much thought I stood out,” I laughed. “I don’t know that I’ve done much of anything to tell you except that I tried my hand at marriage and failed, tried my hand at travelling and found it wasn’t for me, tried my hand at a multitude of odd jobs and while I’m proficient in quite a few things now because of it I’m not particularly good at anything,” I laughed again, realizing as I said the words that they were true. I realized my eyebrows were raised, I’d surprised myself with my lack of a life, with my inability to recognize my own lifelessness until this moment.

“That, my dear, does not at all sound like the Alice Tanner I remember. Perhaps I have you confused with a different student? Alice Tanner was confident. Independent. She was going to change the world. She told me so herself on a few occasions,” he said, his eyebrows drawn down low, and a glint in his eye. No longer facing me head on, he was giving me a sidelong glance as though his peripheral vision afforded him a bit of time-travelling.

This #writethirtyminutes session was prompted very loosely from “A Year of Writing Prompts” by Writer’s Digest, available here

Unforgettable Meal

Unforgettable Meal

The storm had been expected. You don’t live in the mountains without checking the weather reports religiously. So everyone knew and was well stocked. Most people had generators for back up power, but not everyone. Even those with generators had water put by though. You don’t live in the mountains without having a bit of common sense and a healthy understanding that you’re but small on this large plane.

Despite having prepared for the storm, there was the occasional person, like herself, who without a backup generator would be struck with a loss of power and an overstocked fridge and inevitably there’d be an invitation to dinner. The food needed to be used up before it went bad and who knew when the power would be back on and yes, yes, thank you, but no, I’d rather not move everything to your fridge but you’re very kind to offer.

And so it was that she found herself knocking on her neighbors door at five til, a bottle of sparkling cider in one hand and a flashlight in the other. She was welcomed in by a different neighbor who’d apparently also just arrived and was still hanging up his coat. Good to see you, how are you faring, did you get that generator put in this year, yes, yes, excellent timing.

There was small talk in the living room with a few other local faces, lots of laughter, a bottle of red being passed around, yes, I know it won’t spoil as it was never in the fridge, but on a chilly night who wants a white, after all. The smells from the kitchen were overwhelming and her stomach had started to murmur, she realized she’d skipped lunch what with the added chores a storm brings like felled trees and washed out driveways. The call to come eat came in the nick of time.

Having been invited to a fridge cleaning party her expectations had not been high. She honestly expected to find a bit of this and a bit of that. Smaller amounts of food all cooked up to create a larger spread, but not very much of any one thing. She was wrong.

There was a turkey and a ham, as though it were Thanksgiving. There were two kinds of rolls, one of which appeared to be very much homemade. There were the expected frozen veggies, warmed and slathered in thick pats of melting butter. There was the occasional odd dish here and there, clearly leftovers that would get thrown away if not eaten tonight, a bit of macaroni and cheese, some cottage cheese, an odd assortment of olives and dill beans.

The thing that took her breath away, the thing she realized she’d been smelling, that had set her stomach to rumbling and her mouth to drooling were the oranges. There was an entire platter of oranges that had been gutted and filled with sweet potatoes. They smelled absolutely delicious and she hoped there were enough for everyone, or that she’d at least get first crack at ’em and not have to miss out. She deliberately edged closer to them in an attempt to be seated within passing distance in order to be in the first one or two served assuming passing would go clockwise, because of course passing would go clockwise.

As everyone sat down and voiced the expected thank yous and this looks lovely and even a my goodness but it looks like Thanksgiving, she smiled, for she’d managed a chair directly in front of the platter of oranges. Up close they were even more delectable, she could see the sweet potatoes or yams or whatever they were inside had been mashed about like a twice baked potato and instead of marshmallow there appeared to be something else, honey perhaps, at the edges. She’d missed whatever was being said but recognized the people around her were grabbing dishes, serving, the passing would begin shortly.

She grabbed the oranges, placed one on the plate before her and passed them along, clockwise, of course, accepting the platter from her right and taking a tongs-ful of green beans, passing again and again and again. The food came in a near endless stream and she found herself running out of room, a balancing act now of food piling on food, the green beans succumbing to the turkey, the turkey to the roll. She left the orange undisturbed.

Finally the first round of passing was complete and people were taking their first bites, the conversation had died down and the occasional mmm or aaaah or clink could be heard. At one point someone paused their chewing long enough to say delicious and there were murmurs of agreement, a bit of laughter here or there, the host saying thank you, or I’m so glad, or please please eat up.

She took her fork and pressed it gently into the tuber mix, swirling out with a beautiful biteful and swiftly brought it to her mouth before any bits could fall. As the fork sat on her tongue and the flavor spread across it she closed her lips, unable to remove the fork, unable to move for a moment as the sweetness overtook her tempered a moment later by the tang of the orange flavor, subtle but there. It was like nothing she’d ever tasted before. She removed the fork and mushed the bite against the roof of her mouth, inhaling deeply before swallowing on an exhale. Phenomenal.

This #writethirtyminutes session was prompted very loosely from “A Year of Writing Prompts” by Writer’s Digest, available here

This?!

This?!

Judging by the empty disposable cups of coffee on her passenger floor, she’d been driving for at least two days, it’s possible it’s been closer to three, but she doesn’t want to give herself too much credit. Remembering to throw out the empties every times she fuels up has been harder than she thought, there’s the fresh fuel to pump, the “fresh” coffee to obtain, the toilet to use, and if she can remember to buy a bottle of water or something to eat she feels like she’s winning.

Shauna is very much aware that one should not have to travel cross country at break neck speed with very little sleep and too much coffee, but when your best friend calls from New York and asks you to come and get her…so here she is. She should be arriving any minute now, or at least that’s what her phone’s map is telling her if it would stop rerouting…ugh, New York. Upstate is beautiful, she’ll concede, but it’s a nightmare on her GPS. Normally Shauna would pull over to make a call, but this is an emergency.

The phone rings and rings and, there! Nope, went to voicemail. It’s good to hear her friends voice so cheery, the tone and whispering were very concerning yesterday when Shauna’s touched base to tell Elise she would be arriving today.

“I’m here, El, sort of, I think. Call me,” she hangs up the phone then sends the same message in a text. Using fuel to drive in circles in ridiculous so Shauna pulls to the curb and waits, noticing the houses around her for the first time. Adorable little houses with quite a bit of land all around and not a fence to be seen. “Huh,” she says, not realizing she said it out loud til she jumps at the sound. She laughs at herself and then continues aloud, “must not have dogs.”

There’s a pounding on her window that makes her scream before she turns and see’s Elise there all smiles. Shauna throws open the door, jumps out and hugs her friend. “I’m here,” she says, “I’m here.” When she pulls away she expects to find Elisa crying but she’s not. She’s still smiling, not only that, she has grasped Shauna’s hand in her own and is tugging her towards the house across the street.

“Come on! You have to come in and meet Frank!” Elise says.

“Wait, what? He’s here?” Shauna asks, stunned and pulling back on her hand, looking up and down the block for cars in driveways, or a postal carrier, or someone they could call upon if assistance were needed but finding the street empty, quiet, nothing but birds singing in the trees.

“Of course he’s here! I told him you’d be arriving sometime today so he took the day off to meet you. How long can you stay?” Elisa asked.

“Stay?” Shauna’s mouth dropped open and she ran her free hand across her face. What was going on? “What’s going on?” she asked, “I rushed out here because you said you needed me, I thought it was an emergency,” I haven’t slept more than two or three hours in days, I’ve had nothing but coffee and bags of chips, I’m filthy, exhausted, starving, and more than a little dehydrated, so you better tell me just what in the actual fuck is going on and quickly.”

Elise quirked an eyebrow, “I appreciate that you rushed, and I’m sorry if I scared you, but it turns out I just misunderstood. Everything’s fine. Everything’s great! I really want you to come inside, meet Frank, stay a few days. You can rest up here! I can feed you and we’ve got really good water, we’ll get you all fixed up super fast,” Elise finished with a smile.

This #writethirtyminutes session was prompted very loosely from “A Year of Writing Prompts” by Writer’s Digest, available here

A Decision, a Laugh, a Howl

A Decision, a Laugh, a Howl

The best is when Halloween is on a Friday or a Saturday. I prefer Saturday, but Friday works, too. Everyone starts celebrating on Friday anyway, but if you go out to all the adult parties on Friday then you can sometimes stay home on Saturday and see all the kids in their costumes. That’s the best part. I always buy way too much candy and make sure my front door space is as decorated as possible and still be functional.

Anyway, Halloween is on Saturday this year, so I’m getting the adult party thing out of the way tonight. When I say it I realize just how much I’m not into the adult party. I love to dress up, don’t get me wrong, but the standing around as people get drunk all around me and the music and the laughter get louder and louder, as though a party that’s not visited by the cops isn’t a party worth having. I didn’t realize I sighed out loud, I thought the sigh was a mental one, but this Dracula guy next to me just looked up and smiled.

“Having a good time?” he asks, sarcasm and curiosity dripping from every word.

“Oh, well, no actually,” I’m surprised to hear myself telling the truth, I guess maybe because I know he doesn’t really care and is just being polite. I figure I can say anything, he’s going to grab a beer and move on. But he doesn’t. He’s standing there, beer in hand, waiting for me to continue. And he’s really good at making eye contact. The night is early, I remind myself, shaking it off, “how about you? Having a good time?”

“I just got here so I don’t really know yet. Good music though.”

He’s right. This is a good song. I hadn’t realized my feet were tapping. “So how do you know Jimmy?” I ask, figuring he’s one of my co-workers long time friends that he’s always going on and on about.

“Who’s Jimmy?” he asks.

I give him an assessing look and determine he’s serious. “If you don’t know Jimmy, how’d you get invited to the party?” I didn’t mean for this to sound quite so bitchy, but despite the fact that Jimmy’s a bit of a frat boy pain in my ass at work, he’s also got a big heart, and I find myself protective of his space.

“Oh, I live a couple doors down. Guy that lives here is always over at my place hitting on my roommate and he invited us. Guess he must be Jimmy, I’ve honestly never caught his name before, he’s not exactly there to see me.”

I cocked my head, a slight smile, that was definitely Jimmy, “so you’re only kind of a party crasher?” I teased.

“Definitely not a party crasher. Invited by default as part of an attempted hook up,” he smiled broadly then gestured toward me with his hand, “I like this. Where’d you get it?”

I look down at myself, remembering that this year I came as a wolf. I only have two costumes and I switch them every year, sometimes throwing in a different homemade costume if I can come up with one. The wolf is from when I volunteered at a nature center that ended up closing it’s doors. I still missed my time there, but man, the costume was hot and heavy. Thankfully the night was cool and foggy, a perfect Halloween Party night.

I start to explain but stop myself, “It’s a long story. I’m just glad I chose it. Aren’t you cold?” I ask.

“Nah, this cape is velvet, heavy. I was worried I was going to have to ditch it,” he said, tugging the cape around his shoulders a bit more and draping it in front of himself.

“I like that you didn’t do the bloody face makeup,” I said, gesturing towards his mouth, “People make it look like they’ve had a victim and then they have their first drink and it gets all smudged and then it just looks,” I gesture vaguely with my hands and shrug, “gross.”

He laughed, “I don’t like face paint either. Itchy,” he cocked his head and then smiled largely, “aren’t you going to join in?”

I was about to ask what he was talking about and then I hear the howling. I couldn’t help myself, I started laughing, “those are coyotes, so no.”

“How do you know that?” he asked, eyes widening.

“There are no wolves around here, only coyotes. I used to work at the nature center.”

“I didn’t even know we had a nature center.”

“Well, we don’t, and I should really get going,” I said, tossing my empty cup in the trash and rubbing my hands together.

“Do you live nearby? Can I walk you?” he asked.

“I drove,” I said, “but thank you.”

“You drove?” he asks, incredulous, “in that?” and he gestures at my costume, the long tail an obvious impairment to sitting, the perfect reason to wear it, and the perfect excuse to leave when I wanted to.

“Yes,” I laugh, “I have clothes on underneath, it just slips off. Have a good night,” I said, looking around for Jimmy.

“Let me at least walk you to your car then,” he said.

This #writethirtyminutes session was prompted very loosely from “A Year of Writing Prompts” by Writer’s Digest, available here

A Church Mandated Penance

A Church Mandated Penance

Everyone is always obsessed with whether or not they’re a good Catholic, but I don’t know that it really matters. You’re either a good person, or your not. That’s the key. It’s not about practicing your religion or donating to your church or attending midnight mass, it’s about waking up and being a good person. A good human. But maybe you shouldn’t listen to me, because I haven’t been a good human in years. That’s all going to change though. I woke up this morning and decided to be a good person. I also decided it wouldn’t hurt to go to church and see if maybe a little Latin, some genuflecting, and a confession would help me. It can’t hurt.

I decided to go to the closest church, because I want to get started on being a good person today immediately, so why not go to the closest church and get this show on the road. Man, this church, it’s really beautiful. The people who attend here and give their money, I can see why. There are tall spires on the outside, stained glass on the inside, stone floors. I don’t think anyone really builds like this anymore. It’s beautiful.

I remembered to stick my fingers in the water as I came in, crossed myself. I probably shouldn’t say “I remembered” because it’s more like I walked in and my fingers were wet and making the cross without my even noticing. A muscle memory mind of their own. The next thing I know I’m halfway down the aisle and sitting in a pew.

These are nice pews. I remember growing up and the pews were so hard I’d be grateful to stand up, bow down, kneel, stand up. But these pews are nice. These have cushions and not just those hard foam kind, these are real cushions covered in a some kind of soft material. Is it velvet? It might be velvet. Nice.

I don’t think there’s a homily today. It’s not Thursday or Sunday and I don’t see anyone around besides a little old grandma lady lighting candles over there by Mary. That’s a good looking Mary. You know, sometimes you see Mary and she’s not beautiful. She should be beautiful, why not? She’d have to be beautiful, who knocks up a thirteen year old kid? You’ve got to make her beautiful to make it all make more sense.

I may not be getting a sermon today, but I can see the confessional has a curtain open. That’s probably for the best, I need to show I really mean this whole change I’m making. I realize as I’m walking towards the claustrophobic box that this really is my chance to make good. I was an altar boy once and I can change. This is gonna be great. No more violence or shame, I’m starting over today.

I squeeze myself in and close the curtain. The little box smells like incense and sweat. Perfect. There’s no room to kneel in this thing so I lower my head and clasp my hands in front of chin. “Bless me father for I have sinned. My last confession was…twenty years ago or so.” And then it all came out. I blabbed for what felt like an hour, if it weren’t for the occasional “mmhmm” or “go on” from the priest I’d have thought he was asleep, although who could sleep through the dirt I was spewing. I finally came to the end and heard myself saying, “that’s all I can remember. I’m sorry for these and all my sins.”

And there was a moment there, right there, where I sighed on those words, where all the words had been spoken and I did feel good. I did feel lighter, more relaxed, ready to make good. I was shocked. I didn’t think it would work that good. But it did.

But then the priest gave me my penance.

I had to check with him again about what he’d just said, cause I couldn’t believe it. “Are you sure I’m not supposed to do some community service or something, Father,” I said. I mean, I just couldn’t believe this, what I was hearing, what I had to do. But he insisted. And I said, “but Father, that would be murder. It’s a sin, Father!” But he insisted. He kept telling me there was great evil in the world, and if I was sure I was ready to be forgiven, if I was sure I wanted to make good on all I’d done, the only way was to kill Tony Scarpone.

So I went home saying my Hail Mary’s. I made sure the place was clean and nice and I grabbed my gun. I figured a gun is the simplest option, it’s what I started with, so it seemed appropriate now. I double checked that everything was neat, that I’d said all my prayers, and I pulled the trigger on Tony Scarpone.

I thought the death would be more instant. I’m a good shot, I know I did it right. But it took a little longer than I’d thought. Couple minutes maybe before everything went totally dark. And it was as the light was fading, as I held as long as I could to the knowledge that I was helping to make the world a better place, that I realized the Father was right. Tony Scarpone was finally a good person.

This #writethirtyminutes session was prompted very loosely from “A Year of Writing Prompts” by Writer’s Digest, available here.

Sorry I Had to Rig Your GPS

Sorry I Had to Rig Your GPS

“You have arrived,” the robotic voice intoned.

“I thought we were going to Jodi’s house?” she said as they pulled up to a man standing under cover of trees. An otherwise unnoteworthy location in the forest along the highway.

“You put in the address! I have no idea where we are,” he said putting the truck in park and turning to look at her pointedly. She had a habit of getting them lost, hence the use of GPS.

“Should we ask him for directions?” she asked pointing towards the man who appeared to be waiting for them. Impossible.

“I think we should ask him not to skin us. Seriously, Amy, this is getting ridiculous. I thought you said you’ve been using the GPS?”

“Seriously, Adam,” she said snidely, mockingly, her eyes squinting and her arms crossing her chest, “I have been, and aside from the impossibly long time it takes to put in an address, the thing has been quite helpful. Now, in this instance, and forever whatever reason it is not,” sighing she dropped her arms and picked up the surprisingly heavy little machine. “Maybe there’s a typo in the street or something,” she said as she began to fiddle with it.

She startled as the knock upon the window sounded. A sharp sound in the small space of the cab. She’d made a surprised sound as she inhaled, a sound that drove Adam crazy, and she looked towards him apologetically, before rolling down the window.

“I’m sorry I had to rig your GPS,” the man said, “but this is urgent.”

Afraid to turn away from the man at her window, who was clearly insane, Any reached her hand across the seat towards Adam, clenching his hand when she found it. Perhaps if I speak calmly and smile he won’t kill us, she thought, plastering a smile on her face. “Are you lost?” she asked, looking for another vehicle and not finding one, “broken down somewhere?”

“No, ma’am, I’m not lost and neither are you. Again, apologies for rigging your GPS, but this is an urgent matter,” he looked Amy directly in the eyes and she saw that he wasn’t crazy, or at least didn’t seem to be, he was quite serious and confident. She reminded him a bit of an FBI agent in a movie she’d seen recently.

“I’m sorry, I think I misunderstood, you rigged my GPS?” she asked, “I didn’t, I mean, I don’t,” stumbling for the words she ultimately blurted, “how is that even possible?”

“Well, ma’am, you see, we’ve been trying to reach you about your vehicles extended warranty.”

Apologies to everyone who reads this. I’m so, so, so, so, SO sorry. This was terrible. It was. I know this. These prompts though…this is not my kind of writing, but I’m giving it my best…until today. This was not my best. But I hope I made you laugh. -sunday

This #writethirtyminutes session was prompted very loosely from “A Year of Writing Prompts” by Writer’s Digest, available here

Whiteout

Whiteout

My parents named me Blanca. We’re not Spanish or Mestizo or Latino or anything like that. We’re white. Like, super white. Like soooooo white. But people always ask, because my name. So I’ve learned a bit about the other cultures, a bit about the history of my name, this name that doesn’t feel like mine because I haven’t earned it. But it is mine. My name. Cause what else could I call myself? I mean, I guess I can change it when I’m eighteen or whatever, but like, it’s mine. My name. I was born and they named me and now it’s mine. I don’t even know what else I’d call myself, because my name is Blanca. I’m not a Sarah or a Jessica or a Tiffany or any other super white girl name that would be more appropriate. I’m Blanca.

Right, so the why, I’m sure you want to know why. Why in the world would two super white, ultra white, parents name their kid Blanca? Are they super woke? No. In fact, I’d argue that if they were woke they would have known better than to steal someone else’s culture. Def not woke, but I’m working on them. Still, the question: how did I end up with this name? First of all, and you may not know this because I didn’t know it til I started doing research around twelve years old, Blanca is also a French name. Like Blanche. Second of all, my parents are not French either, and the only other Blanca’s I’ve ever heard of have been Spanish speakers. So.

I’m Blanca cause when I was born it looked like I had no hair, or like that super fine and super light blonde hair that makes everyone call you a Toe Head, whatever that means, I mean, my toes aren’t blonde so whatever. Anyway, as may parents are cooing over their little blonde marvel (my mom’s a ginger and my dad’s a brunette so the odds were low) they realized that it wasn’t actually fine blonde hair on my head, but white. I was born with low melanin and therefore am what people refer to as albino.

When people realize I was born with white hair they’re always shocked. “I thought you just dyed it white cause of your name,” “why would anyone name their albino kid Blanca,” “wait, so it just stayed that way?” I’ve heard it all. Some of it is insulting, upsetting, rude. Some of it is just curiosity or lack of tact. I dunno. I try not to let it get to me. People are messed up, not just kids being mean to kids, but like adults really don’t know what the hell they say sometimes either.

So here I am, an albino chick with a Latin name and honestly, it’s all good. I wouldn’t change anything. I mean, I’m super lucky because really there are a lot of issues we people with albinism sometimes have like the obvious sunburn concerns and a higher risk for skin cancer, but more than that, stuff like blindness and racists. I lucked out and have really great vision, I mean I need glasses and all, but that could be just as much due to the fact that both of my parents needed Lasik as it is to the albinism. The major thing though is people. People can be assholes.

Did you know that people actually think I’m a witch? Seriously. That costume is out at Halloween, because people already believe it. Ridiculous. Or like, a ghost. Can you see how far back into my head my eyes are rolling right now? Cause oh my god, people think I’m a ghost. Not all people, obviously, but this is a sincere issue for us. I’m lucky in my small town though that everyone has been welcoming, at least outwardly anyway. I’ve lived here my whole life and no one has ever said anything mean or bad to me. It might have something to do with the fact that we’ve studied albinism in every grade I’ve ever been in, which I think is thanks to my parents being sure it was always included in our science curriculum, but I mean, I think people would have been cool without that too. Or I hope so anyway. I dunno.

I guess it just could be worse, and I’m pretty lucky, all things considered. My parents didn’t know what they were doing when they named me, but I don’t think any parents ever do. They did their best. And when they saw a little white haired baby they said, “I’ve always thought Blanca was the prettiest way of saying white.” So I know they think I’m pretty, and that helps. I think I’m pretty too. Not like in a stuck up way, but like a confident way. And that’s cool.

This #writethirtyminutes session was prompted very loosely from “A Year of Writing Prompts” by Writer’s Digest, available here

Magic Poem

Magic Poem

Her mom had always called it the “magic book,” and growing up it would appear anytime people were sick or stuck in bed for any reason. The magic book contained poetry, prose, recipes, incredibly simple but beautiful drawings of foxes and squirrels and toadstools. It was easy to believe it really was a magic book because just the sight of it would have her feeling better, the anticipation of a woodland story to take her mind off her ills.

All grown up now and still feeling very much a child, she’s going through all her parents things, it must be done, and it falls to her. It’s all just stuff. The smell of her childhood is no longer on these things, they just smell musty, unwashed, the clothes are easily bagged and given to the thrift store. With the exception of the occasional bowl or mug, the kitchen is swiftly dispatched to the thrift store as well. She ought to hold a garage sale but that would take too much out of her. The thrift store runs are smooth, and the furniture she can sell to an antique store that was more than willing to give her a price that included all of it except the books.

“No one buys books anymore,” she is told.

The antique store will be there tomorrow to pick everything up, so the books must be dealt with, the shelves must be empty, the drawers, the nightstands. She is digging through every title, every leather bound and cloth bound edition. Most are going into boxes for donation to the local library which, thankfully, is happy to have them for their upcoming book sale. An occasional volume is stacked near her purse, a book she’s always wanted to read but never taken the time, The Painted Veil, The Screwtape Letters, The Art of War.

She remembers the magic book before she ever finds it. Begins searching for it subconsciously, no longer stacking books near her purse but throwing every book that is not the magic book into boxes. Faster and faster they are tossed, she’s no longer reading titles or checking bindings. She can tell immediately that this book is not it, nor this one, and into the box they go. She’s becoming frantic but is unaware. Her face now contorted by panic, by need, by an overwhelming sadness at the loss of her mother, which is suddenly there with her. The loss.

She begins crying, a copy of Eudora Welty’s The Optimists Daughter in one hand. She has been delaying this. The crying. Not at first, the delaying, that is. At first there were no tears, this was the thing she’d known was coming, if the timing was a mystery. And now it’s happened and she’s here and suddenly there’s nothing to say, nothing more to do once the books are delivered and the furniture removed. The house will be sold by a realtor, the money forgotten in a bank account somewhere, perhaps coming in handy in the event of one of life’s unexpected turns. There’s nothing left to require her attention except the absence.

Surrounded by her grief, her tears having ruined the book in her hands, she stands, slowly, as the though the arthritis affecting her mother was now hers. She lets the book slip onto her pile as she passes her purse and heads towards the kitchen. A cup of tea ought to help, she thinks, as she takes her mug from this mornings coffee and fills it with water.

She is about to set the mug, now full of tap water and a tea bag, into the microwave when she becomes aware that the microwave isn’t quite flat. It has been set on something to boost it up higher in the cabinet, to allow the door to swing freely open. She places the mug on the counter and attempts to life the microwave with one hand, pulling the thing out from underneath it with the other.

And there it is. The book. The magic book. She feels she ought to laugh, to be surprised by this find, yet she’s sure the book was waiting for precisely this time to appear.

This #writethirtyminutes session was prompted very loosely from “A Year of Writing Prompts” by Writer’s Digest, available here

Matchup!

Matchup!

You could blame it on the Ouija board, I suppose, this whole fascination I have with getting help from others, with needing outside help, with this certainty I have that there’s a way to “fix” me. I don’t even know all the things that are broken but I learn about them slowly and then try to fix them.

The Ouija board was the first time I realized there was something that needed fixing. Typical situation, really, a slumber party of mostly eleven year old girls, someones birthday probably but who would remember that. There was Bloody Mary and Truth or Dare and some movie that I can’t remember now but was probably something rated PG13 that all our parents had given permission for because it was a special occasion or because those ratings have always been bullshit.

Anyway, it wasn’t until we were asking the spirit questions and the Ouija board pointed out that the spirit probably died alone because they didn’t shave their legs that I realized all the girls around me shaved theirs. It just hadn’t occurred to me that something so “adult” would be expected of me at eleven. But that’s cool, all the other girls had shaved legs, message received. Thank you Ouija.

And what eleven year old isn’t willing to jump into all things woman? To be an adult and have freedom, this was the goal, the only goal, unless of course one could talk ones parents into a dog, then a dog was the temporary goal. We already had a dog. So the very next day, at home and showering before bed, I shaved my legs. Uneventful. Lotion applied afterwards. The only exciting part was the feeling of newly shaved legs running through the sheets as I climbed into bed. That was delicious and, I decided, totally worth it.

As I got older there’d be hints here and there about other things I needed to fix. The rise of the internet meant there were now entire search engines at my disposal, a giant Ouija board of information. It was sometimes hard to know which things I needed to fix and which things were broken in others. That could be somewhat satisfying, it turns out, to learn there are things about others that are broken. Do they have a Ouija board to guide them or access to the internet and the gods at Google? Do other people take the time to right their wrongs?

It was through Google that I learned I didn’t have to shave my legs, a relief that came too late as now the habit is firmly ingrained and I am perhaps a bit addicted to the feeling of freshly shaved legs sliding along clean sheets. Regardless, I also learned through my engine searches that I need to know how to cook, a thing which has never appealed to me, but which I now know how to do.

It’s simple really and there’s no excuse. You open your search, type in a few of the major things you have on hand, like “chicken onion mushroom soup” and then you add “recipe” at the end. Simple. All these recipes will pop up with those ingredients and you’re off. Everyone says “if you can read you can cook,” and I guess it must be true cause I somehow manage to feed myself everyday.

The thing is though, you gotta be careful with those recipes and read them all the way through before you start making them because sometimes they want you to have ingredients you don’t have on hand and then you’re in trouble if you’ve already started. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to stop in the middle of something to run to the store. Which defeats the whole purpose of using the internet to find a recipe with ingredients you have on hand.

My point is, I can cook now, ish, and that was something I never would have known was wrong with me if it weren’t for someone like Google pointing it out…well, it wasn’t actually Google that told me I had to cook, it was the people I found on Google while searching for something else. But still.

The thing is, I always think I’m okay, I always think there’s nothing really “wrong” with me, but then I’ll be at a garage sale or a used book store and I’ll come across something like this book I’m reading now, that helped me see what a terrible parent I am. Or I mean, what a terrible parent I would be if I had kids. I don’t even know why I picked up the book to be honest. Who picks up a parenting book when they aren’t a parent? But I did, and I found out I’m terrible at it. Or I would be. But now, because I’m reading this book, I’m not, or I won’t be. Or whatever.

So see, the thing is, my point I guess, is that you never know what you don’t know about yourself and all these things you don’t know can’t be fixed. And if you’re lucky, you start finding these things at eleven years old at a maybe birthday party, and then you just keep finding them forever afterwards. And I mean forever. There is no shortage of things that are wrong with me according to all these searches I do and all these books I’ve found.

Like this newest book I got through a search that told me I shouldn’t eat carbs. Who knew? But this book tells me that not only am I still a terrible cook, I’m also a terrible eater, but I’m fixing both, or I’m going to be able to fix both, as soon as I finish this book. And then I’ll be a good cook, a good eater, and healthier. Plus I’ll be an even better parent than the parents who only read that one parenting book because I’ll know this stuff about cooking and eating which weren’t covered in that book. And if I’m ever the parent of a girl I’ll be able to teach her about Ouija and also about how she doesn’t actually have to shave her legs but if she does the best part about it is clean sheets.

This #writethirtyminutes session was prompted very loosely from “A Year of Writing Prompts” by Writer’s Digest, available here

Halloween Party Mishap

Halloween Party Mishap

Coming up with a Halloween costume has always been difficult for me. I don’t know how to sew and I don’t like the mass produces costumes available at the party stores or online, especially cause the ones for women are always so trashy looking, why be a nurse when you can be a slutty nurse? I don’t know. Anyway, I try really hard every year to come up with something different that I can piece together myself with thrift store finds or whatever I can cobble together from my own wardrobe and this year it was even more important to figure out something epic because I was going to a party.

I’ve been a gypsy a number of times until I realized how racist that is. I’m working on being woke and it’s amazing how many things I don’t know that I don’t know. So anyway, this year I knew I couldn’t fall back on that old standby and I started trying to figure out what I could be. I decided that if I could just get an electric guitar, I had everything I needed to be a Robert Palmer girl: red lipstick, gel for my hair, black heels, dark nylons, smokey eye makeup, and a little black dress.

Spoiler alert! There are no electric guitars for sale under $100. Not even ones that don’t work anymore. Not in thrift stores or garage sales or Facebook Marketplace. None. So I did what any girl with no money and a deadline would do, I made one. I got some cardboard and cut one out using a sharpie to color on some details. This was brilliant, way lighter than an actual guitar and much cheaper. I was all set.

The thing is, I was pretty proud of myself. I mean, how many people would even think of Robert Palmer not to mention that iconic video from before I was even born. So you can’t even begin to imagine my surprise when I got to the party and there was another chick dressed almost exactly like me. Only difference was she actually had an electric guitar, way rad. Luckily she was super cool about the whole thing. In fact, we made a killer duo as we stood side by side doing the whole sway back and forth thing that the girls in the video did, you know that like lean, pop, lean thing? We had it down! We totally exchanged deets so we could get together sometime and then she decided to go stow her guitar cause it was heavy and cumbersome, making me even more grateful I hadn’t spent money on one.

So anyway, there I was looking fantastic and having so much fun when some dude came up from behind me and grabbed my ass! I bellowed something like “what the hell?!” and when I turned around you could tell the guy was super shocked too and he said something like, “er not mahla?” before stumbling off in another direction.

Marla! He thought I was the other Robert Palmer girl. Oops. That was awkward. Oh well, no biggie. I mean, my butt was still stinging where he’d grabbed it, but I’d survive, nothing a little more Fireball and Red Bull couldn’t cure. I went in search of a top up and found the whiskey was out. I was grabbing a beer from the ice bucket when I heard “you bitch!” behind me. I turned to see what the hubbub was about and as I did so, a hand slapped across my cheek a bit of nail catching in a scratch.

“Ouch!” I exclaimed, putting my palm to my cheek and checking for blood.

“Oh my god! Oh my god, I’m so sorry! I thought you…oh geez, are you okay? Here lemme get you some ice.” The girl who’d just assaulted me was cute, in that way that all the beautiful girls wish they were cause they now their beauty will fade but the cute girl will always be cute. Her glare had been replaced with raised eyebrows and a lip trapped between her teeth as she rushed to put ice in a napkin and hold it to my face.

We stood there in stunned silence for a minute, well, I mean, we were silent, but the party was so loud you can’t even imagine. Someone had the bass up way too loud so it was impossible to say which song was playing, but whatever it was you could feel it in your bones. Finally I asked, “what’d Marla do?”

“You know her? Is this like a group costume?”

“Yeah, I mean no. I met her here, but we didn’t know each other before. Coincidence,” I stammered. “So, what’d she do?” I asked again.

“It’s a long story,” she looked me in the eyes and kind of shuddered before saying, “I should just let it go. She’s not worth it.”

“I could give you her number?” I said, remembering Marla’d given it to me earlier.

Now, the girl really smiled, a bashful and sweet and sincere smile, “that’s okay, really. I need to let it go. But thank you.” She came up beside me and reached down for two beers, opening one and handing it to me.

I’d forgotten all about getting a beer, the one I’d grabbed right before she hit me was broken and empty on the ground beside me. “Thanks,” I said.

“Cheers,” she tipped her beer towards mine.

Several beers later we were still hanging out. Turns out her name is Maya, same as me only pronounced different. We had the same taste in music and went to the same coffee shop, it was crazy we’d never run into each other, “drive thru!” we both said and laughed. By this time I was super drunk and I’d been mistaken for Marla a few more times but had the great good luck of Maya’s support and protection. We were sitting back to back on a fountains edge when she asked, “there’s something’s been bugging me all night, I gotta know, who are you?”

I turned my body round to face her, confusion written all over my face, “I’m Maya?”

“No, girl,” she snort laughed, “no, I mean, your costume. Who are you supposed to be anyway?”

I started laughing too, “that girl from the Arnold Palmer video!”

“Who’s Arnold Palmer? You mean like the lemonade guy?”

“No, no, no, from that old music video,” I stood up on shaky legs and started trying to do the lean-pivot-lean only it wasn’t coming out too great, “the lights are on, but you’re not home,” I sang loudly and off key.

We were both laughing so hard I thought I’d pee myself.

This #writethirtyminutes session was prompted very loosely from “A Year of Writing Prompts” by Writer’s Digest, available here