Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘FICTION’ Category

42-207336911A short “what if?” piece, purely fictional. Do you ever imagine how your life would change if you suddenly learned you were dying? I do. This is just part of what I imagine regretting.

“Carpe diem.” I know what it means but it’s made no difference. I’ve lived each day, each year on delay, as if I will exist forever. I’ve been Scarlet O’Hara, following the mantra. ‘Tomorrow is another day.” I’ve been a fool.

I’ve been a fool.

Denial is the panacea of the cowardly. Reality is a bitch and the truth hurts, or so says my son’s latest tattoo. Delusion, whether drug-induced or a natural inclination, is gentle. You tell yourself that people are rarely as cruel as they appear; that the dangers of global warming are exaggerated, that good always triumphs over evil; and as for death? It’s so distant that it doesn’t bear thinking about. That’s the way I’ve lived my life, until now.

Within a few short weeks, I will be dead, and I am suddenly overwhelmed with regret for the time I have wasted, for the work left undone. I will never accomplish all that I expected to. I will never know what it is to have my dreams fulfilled. I foolishly pushed them to the back of the shelf, waiting for just the right moment to speak them aloud and bring them to life. They will die with me.

I try to turn onto my side but tubes and sterile tape make it impossible. I moan in frustration, rage inwardly at this turn of fate. I want to say something brilliant, something so enlightened that it will make my creator stop and say “The world needs her. Let her stay.” Instead, foolish clichés fill my thoughts.. ‘My ducks aren’t all in a row. There are fences yet to be mended. Not enough bridges have been built. I still have fish left to fry.”

I am not ready to leave.

I lower my head and whisper my deepest truth: “There are stories I need to write.” A searing pain rises in my chest and it hurts to breathe. Is it the cancer that eats away at me, or is it the words that will be forever buried?

I have no one to blame but myself. For years I allowed everything and everyone else to come before my writing. When I put words to paper, I tore each sentence to shreds, rewrote, revised, recycled and picked at my writing until nothing remained of me. I was uninspired, overly critical, unable to find my focus amidst the distraction of my life. My muse fled, licking her wounds. I told her to be patient, to wait for my “someday.” How could I know that “someday” would never come and that my thoughts would die with me?

When I was still a teenager, I read “The Prophet,” until I could recite parts by heart. I loved its wisdom, the purity and simplicity of its language and truths. “Your children are not your children. You are the archer. They are the bow.” I dreamed of writing a book like that, one that would be passed from friend to friend, from parent to child, one that would live long after I was gone.

I wanted to touch children in a way that mattered. Like Barbara Parks, I would write a story that would make them laugh but teach them compassion. I think now of the first time I read Barbara Parks’ book, Skinnybones, to a group of nine year-olds. There were times I had to stop and regain my composure because I was choking with laughter. Such a gift, to be able to make children and grownups laugh, all the while teaching respect for our differences. I longed to write like her.

I wanted to write about unlikely heroes, unveil a perfect multi-dimensional character, my own “Holden Caulfield,” someone whose layers could be slowly peeled away, earning him or her a place in the hearts of my readers. I wanted to write a character that would make people cry with laughter and laugh through their sorrow. I wanted to write magic.

I waited too long.

Read Full Post »

 

On days when I’ve had no time for new writing, I’ll post the occasional older piece. This is something written for fun a couple of years ago. The speaker is Marion Cormier, a fictional character from a previous story I wrote called “It’s in the Stars.” Marion is a no-nonsense, salt-of-the-earth woman from Prince Edward Island, and in this discourse, she’s venting her frustration over what she sees as my lack of ambition and discipline.

THE QUEEN OF DILLY-DADDLE

Have you ever watched someone dilly-daddle for so long that you were ready to jump up and give them a damned good shake? I go through that most every day, but all I can do is grind my teeth and roll my eyes. I’m trapped, knee-deep in my creator’s hard drive, and it’s frustrating as hell. Fact is, she drives me crazy, floating along and letting every little breeze send her in a whole different direction.

Girl, don’t you know that you gotta pick a course and stay on it if you ever wanna get somewhere in this world?

She doesn’t hear me. Not sure she wants to, if truth be told.

She’s ‘bout my age, nearly as well-preserved as me. Not bad-looking either. She owns a cheap mirror that takes a good twenty pounds off her frame, and without her bifocals, she can’t see the little lines that others can, the ones that are just starting to appear. I think she refuses to even think about getting long in the tooth.

Lord knows I understand how that can happen. Gosh, nothing’s a bigger blow to a girl’s ego than the first time you lean sideways and realize the skin on your cheek seems to have left the bone.

But my creator’s going through life like she’s got forever – like she’s stuck at forty and still has plenty of time to become some kinda famous writer. She doesn’t. Something tells me if she looked reality square in the eye, saw that her life is moving along lickety-split without her accomplishing a whole hell of a lot, she’d be scared shitless. She’s living in a whole heap of denial.

You know, down deep I know there must be some of my feistiness in her, that we’re more alike than she wants to admit. After all, how’d she come up with a character like me if that weren’t the case? How’d she know that there are women like me who can’t resist the twinkle in a man’s eye? Don’t matter whether he’s a teenager old hawking overpriced chocolates at my door or a salt-and-peppered hunk of a guy with thirty years of lovin’ experience under his belt, if you know what I mean.

Heck, she wrote me in the blink of an eye, words coming as easily to her as breathing. I was under her skin, hidden ‘neath that proper veneer she learned from the other women in her life – the ones that came before me, the ones who told her “nice girls don’t” and all that other bullshit. I was bursting to come out of her like the sweat that beads up when the humidity rises. You know what I mean? You can’t do nothing ‘bout that kind of release, the kind that seeps from your pores even when you’re trying so hard to stay cool.

So, my point is, (forgive me if I’m goin’ in circles here but I do that when I’m steamed), she knew me then like she knew the palm of her own hand, so why the hell can’t she live like me, and do something for herself? Why can’t she admit there’s something inside her just dying to spring free and fly?

Okay, so maybe that’s not fair. Once in a while she does reach for her dream, but then her motor starts to sputter and she’s stalled on the “on ramp” all over again. It really gets me pissed that she’s not single-minded enough to stick to what she says she cares about.

Problem is, she sells out; I don’t.

You know, there was a time I followed the town heartthrob half way across the province, but when I found him and Stella Blanchard canoodlin’ behind the Tasty Treat, I knew enough to turn around and hightail it back to single living again. I never sold out on my dream of snaring a good, faithful man. Far as I’m concerned my creator just doesn’t seem to have the same sense.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggestin’’ she should leave her husband. The stars must’ve been shining on her when she met him ‘cause he still treats her like she’s Cleopatra or something. Damn, I could use someone like that.

No, what I mean is she gets all fired up ‘bout her writing, then lets every bloody little thing distract her. She goes from the computer to the laundry room to the day’s newspaper to the telephone and then to the soap operas. Now, don’t get me wrong. Some of those guys on those soaps set my heart a-flutter just lookin’ at them, and I sure can understand why any red-blooded woman might find herself lost in a little daytime fantasy. But once the credits start to run, you think she’d go back to her writing, right? No way, Jose! Then she starts playing some bloody computer solitaire game that gives me a headache every time I try to follow it.

Then sure as naught, her afternoon’s kaput and she’s getting ready to go out somewhere, fixing her make-up and primping even if she’s just headin’ out to the grocery store. See, that’s another way I know we’re kin. Like me, she always tries to look her best, and isn’t adverse to helping mother nature a little on her way.

I’ve heard those fancy television psychologists talk about fear of success. Makes no sense to me, ‘cause I figure failure’s a damn sight worse. But if there’s ever such a thing as being scared of both of ‘em, I know where Dr. Phil’s can find his first patient.

She’s my creator, a middle-aged woman who says she says she wants to be a writer. On good days, she shouts it, but other times it’s barely a whisper. Though she’s dear to my heart, there are plenty of times I wish I could just pry my foot off this page and kick her where the sun don’t shine!

Read Full Post »