Dear Vonnie

Seeking forgiveness is a tricky thing. Your history is examined; your track record, post-offense, is doubted; your motives are questioned and the risk of rejection is great. But sometimes, to be welcomed back into a loved one’s good graces is worth the risk.

vonnie-letter

Dear Vonnie, I have to live my life in such a way that makes you feel a sense of pride, in spite of my brokenness.  My imperfections are like a scarlet letter on your chest. Everyone can see how mu…

Source: Dear Vonnie

Flashback Friday: Eating Alone

Warning: You may need a Kleenex while reading this piece. It’s a bit of a tear-jerker.

Today’s piece was written a couple of years ago. My writing challenge was to write a story about eating alone. I read this piece today and can think of several more things to add (which would mean you’d need more tissue), but I’m going to let the original post stand as is. I’ll jot down my ideas and play around with this story in my spare time. 🙂

So, I present to you, Eating Alone. (I’ve added some music below to set the mood.)

Shadows

Happy Flashback Friday Friends!! I LOVE a good ghost story! (But if the story is TOO good, I tend to sleep with lights and TV on to ward off the things that go “bump” in the night!) This story is my first attempt at writing the paranormal. I shared this a year ago, but you may have missed it! Enjoy! (With the lights on! 😉 )

Nikewrites Blog

Image from the Alvan S. Harper Collection.Image from the Alvan S. Harper Collection.

We spent the summer renovating our new home. The colonial style house, which sat vacant for over twenty years, was built in 1870 and sat on five acres of what used to be 180 acres of farmland. I was uncomfortable with our purchase. The cost of renovations being one reason, and the strange feeling that we were being watch was another. My husband thought I was just weirded out by the haunted appearance of the long abandoned house. I was the one who loved old houses and this house had character. It was a beautiful structure, with a field stone facade and wrap around porch. It was larger than most homes built at that time. The barn, which sat behind the house was large, but needed a lot of work. Steven planned on converting it to a three car garage with office space…

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Empty Chairs

empty chair

Today’s #TBT story was inspired by a writing prompt about an empty chair and a snippet of a documentary I saw years ago. It’s a bit of a sad story, but I hope you enjoy it!

Nikewrites Blog

empty chair

 

I was angry. Even though two years had passed, the pain was still deep. I understood her attempt at an apology was meant to bring closure to me and my family, but I felt like she was just trying to ease her conscience. It didn’t stop me from wondering what kind of animal she raised. There wasn’t anything that she or her son could say to ease the pain. I stopped short of wishing her son dead. I wasn’t cold enough or hateful enough to wish this kind of pain on anyone else.

There isn’t a word that describes the loss of child. There’s simply a void – a painful, sickening,  and overwhelming void. A piece of my heart died. The person that was a physical part of me for nine months, who I nursed and held in my arms, that looked up to me with loving and…

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Alone

Today’s #TBT piece is the first post from 2014’s A to Z challenge. For some people, being alone is a frightful thought! But, it’s not a bad thing to spend some time by yourself. “Alone is not lonely.” Remember that!

Nikewrites Blog

Alone I arrived,

And the same way I’ll die.

No one for company

While I grew inside.

But alone is not lonely,

Do not be so fooled.

Lonely feels hollow,

While alone is yet full.

Alone with my thought,

My desires and dreams,

I’ve discovered the life

I want and need.

Not introverted or selfish,

In solitude am I.

I’ve just learned to

Embrace solitude

And savor quiet time.

When all others fail me

Or leave me excluded

I won’t fret over the loss.

I will embrace my seclusion.

Alone is not lonely,

Do not be deceived.

For when I’m alone,

I learn more about me.

http://mashat.deviantart.com/art/walking-alone-123309004 Walking Alone by Mashat

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Beauty is Fleeting

Happy Throwback Thursday peoples!!

Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.

Enjoy today’s piece! 😀

Nikewrites Blog

Young Reflections Young Reflections

“I used to be beautiful,” she said as she looked into the mirror. “Now, I’m old and my beauty is gone.” I studied her reflection as she fixed her hair and put on her earrings. Her skin was dark, and baby soft, without a spot or scar. There were lines across her forehead, around her mouth and at the corners of her eyes.  The skin around her neck was loose, but not lined. I didn’t see any missing beauty. I’d seen pictures of mama when she was twenty. She was just as beautiful today as she was fifty years ago, when the pictures were taken.

“You’re still beautiful, mama.”

“With all these lines in my face? No. Beauty is fleeting. Says so in the bible. Mine faded long ago.”

“But, there’s more to you than your face. You could’ve worn a paper bag over your head from the…

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The Lingerers

Orage 19 Juin 2013
Photo credit: Julie MissButterflies

Ray sat in the booth sipping his coffee. His sneakers and the bottom of his jeans, from his knee to his ankles were soaked and sticking to him. The storm came out of nowhere. It was sunny one minute and then torrential rains with thunder and lightning ripped through the sky the next moment.  He was glad the diner was just half a block away from the bus stop. There was no bus shelter on the corner to protect him from the elements and he had no idea how long the storm would last. He didn’t want to be out in the open if any of the lingerers were around. Something about the charge in the air during storms seemed to bring them out in droves. He knew it was a matter of time before they would find him. But until then, he would enjoy his tall black coffee and the wedge of apple pie the waitress placed before him. He took his first bite of apple pie and closed his eyes, savoring the combined flavors of the sweet apples and spices, and the perfectly buttery crust. It was an almost climatic experience that was interrupted by the sound of a man rushing into the diner and yelling, “RAY! I’m so glad I found you!”

Ray’s blissful expression did not change, but his heart sank. One of them found him and it knew his name. The man sat across from him in the booth. He ignored him, opened his eyes and focused on the plate of apple pie. There was a drizzled ribbon of caramel over the pie and the scoop of ice cream that was slowly melting beside the pie. It was beautiful. He considered taking a picture of it and posting it on his Pics with Friends account. Pictures of comfort foods always drew the attention of the masses. Instead, he scooped up a spoonful of ice cream and savored the cool sweetness as it melted on his tongue.

“Ray, I know you see me. I know you hear me. You have to hide! They are trying to find you and they are NOT happy!” Jack was one of the lingerers he didn’t mind having around – most of the time. He casually looked across the table at Jack and then refocussed on his meal. He put another spoonful of pie in his mouth and then dug his cellphone out of his pocket. He looked at it, pretended to read a message and then pretended to dial a number. He pressed the phone to his ear, looked at Jack again and said, “Jack! I just got your message. What’s going on?”

“We don’t have time for this! You have to leave now! They’re coming!”

“They are? What do they want?”

“Your life.”

“I don’t understand. Why do they want that? It’s not worth much.”

“Maybe not to you. But taking your life keeps them in power. They only need one life and yours is the one they’re after. You have to leave NOW! Get to The Light House!”

Ray bit his lip. He didn’t want to be that exposed. He was damned if he did, damned if he didn’t. He wanted to be able to hide in the dark like everyone else, but his path wasn’t like everyone else’s. He dropped a few dollars on the table and stepped out into the elements. The heavens seemed to be enraged. Thunder rumbled and boomed as lightening ripped through clouds and hit the cafe. The street lights and lights in the buildings up and down the street blinked out.

“RUN,” Jack screamed in his ear. His destination was just two blocks away. Icy rain hit his face with a force that made each drop feel like slivers of glass penetrating his flesh. He grit his teeth against the pain and ran harder. He darted into traffic and barely missed getting clipped by a delivery truck. The driver leaned on his horn as two other vehicles swerved to avoid colliding with the truck. Jack could see the door to The Light House, the warehouse where they met in secret, ahead. Two members of council were looking out for his arrival.

“I’m here,” he shouted. As he ran through the open door, he could hear the voices of the other six members of council. The room fell quiet as Jack stepped into the room and all eyes turned his direction.

“Are you alone,” Rueben, the eldest member of the council asked.

“No. Jack is with me.”

“What does it want?”

“He says they are coming.”

“Does it say anything else?”

Ray looked behind him to shadow where Jack hid, as if anyone else could see him. Jack stepped forward and whispered, his voice trembled with fear.

“They’re getting closer. You all have to leave this place. They know what you are looking for. They plan to kill you, Ray. They’ll kill the others to get to you if they have to. You have to leave. They’re coming!”

Ray told them what was said. Thunder rumbled outside and seemed to vibrate the brick walls of their hiding place. The other six members of the council exchanged concerned looks. They tried to remain hidden and conduct their business in secret. They were the minority in the city and what they were trying to resurrect was frightening to many. The Lingerers had access to and influence over the leaders and would reveal the names of anyone they found operating outside of the law.

“Then we must leave. We must leave now. You know the way,” Rueben announced. He looked to Ray and instructed him to make the lingerer who gave them the warning leave. They members of council didn’t trust Jack. Ray didn’t trust him entirely either, but this time he may have saved their lives. Each of the members understood Rueben when he said, “You know the way.” Ray turned toward Jack as the others left through several secret passages so they would not been seen together and to be sure Jack could not follow them. They would meet later at a their secret location outside of the city. Ray left through the front entrance. Jack followed. The street was still dark and the rain still fell, but the rumbling was distant. He looked up and saw the bus pull up to the stop across from the coffee shop. He ran to catch it before it pulled off. He stepped onto the empty bus and took at seat at the front. Jack lingered across from him, his head on a swivel, looking out for anyone or anything that may be following them. The bus stopped a block away from his house. He stepped down and began quickly walking home. He was a few steps away from safety. As he approached his door, Jack’s frightened voice whispered in his ear,

“Oh no! Ray, they found us! They found us! They’re here!”

L is for Life Goes On

White_Rose_by_FullmetalDevil
White Rose by FullmetalDevil, Deviantart.com

I looked over the lush green lawn scattered with headstones and through the wrought iron fence. Traffic flowed at it’s normal pace, the drivers oblivious to the fact that we were laying a citizen to rest. The irrational part of me wondered why they didn’t stop or at least show some reverence and drive by the cemetery slowly. I felt betrayed by them. I wonder if any of them said a prayer as they passed.

I turned my attention back to the graveside service. The Reverend started singing and everyone joined in. What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms? I have bless-ed peace with my Lord so near, leaning on the everlasting arms. I hadn’t been to church in quite some time, but I knew the song well. Mother sang it all the time. I missed her. I didn’t sing with them. I have a horrible singing voice. Everyone else raised their voices, clapped in rhythm and harmonized. A few family members raised their hands and shed tears. I swayed and let the rich sound of voices wash over me. The Reverend said a prayer. He talked about how short life is and the value of every moment, the importance of God in one’s life and eternal life. Then he extended an invitation to anyone who was not saved to accept Christ as their Savior and began to sing another hymn. No one stepped forward.

The graveside service ended with everyone placing a white rose on top of the casket and then they watched as it was lowered into the earth. The Reverend said a final blessing and everyone went back to their cars. I looked back toward to the fence. Cars and trucks still sped down the highway like nothing happened. The world only stopped for the family, and a little bit for me. I couldn’t be upset with the rest of the world for not stopping or slowing down to realize a soul had moved on. Life goes on, after all. My partner tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a shovel. “This body ain’t gonna bury itself. Let’s get this done and then we can go get some lunch,” he said. He was right. We got to work and quietly covered the grave.

Empty Chairs

empty chair

 

I was angry. Even though two years had passed, the pain was still deep. I understood her attempt at an apology was meant to bring closure to me and my family, but I felt like she was just trying to ease her conscience. It didn’t stop me from wondering what kind of animal she raised. There wasn’t anything that she or her son could say to ease the pain. I stopped short of wishing her son dead. I wasn’t cold enough or hateful enough to wish this kind of pain on anyone else.

There isn’t a word that describes the loss of child. There’s simply a void – a painful, sickening,  and overwhelming void. A piece of my heart died. The person that was a physical part of me for nine months, who I nursed and held in my arms, that looked up to me with loving and dependent eyes suddenly stopped being because somebody else didn’t value his life. It doesn’t make sense. It will never make sense.

I still mourn. Two years later and I still break down and cry when I think about the milestones he never achieved. He didn’t get to graduate from high school, he didn’t get to go to college.  He had a girlfriend. Maybe they would have gotten married one day. Maybe they would have settled down and started a family. He would have carried on the family name. Her son robbed us of that future, and now she stood before me and before this crowd and offered a heartfelt sounding apology. I admired her courage.

She talked about her son’s life, his desire to become a professional athlete, the scholarships he lost because of the murder he committed, all of his academic achievements and his regret for his mistakes. I listened as she made it a point to turn toward me and apologize for her son’s “mistake.” I would have been able to accept her apology and move on if she hadn’t said the following:

“I can relate to what you are going through. I’ve lost my son, also. His future is gone. We are forever changed by his mistake.”

I heard several gasps from the crowd. I remained still. She continued to speak with a pained expression on her face as she talked about her son. There was quiet applause as she sat down. The facilitator called me to the podium next.  I looked out into the crowd at the other families who were somehow affected by the violence that has overtaken our city. I saw politicians, police officers, and members of the media in the audience waiting for my speech.  I glanced down at the note cards in my hands. They were shaking. I wasn’t nervous. I was angry. I felt tears stinging my eyes. I let them fall.

“I had some statistics and other information I wanted to share with you today. I wanted to tell you a bit of my son’s story and about the process – the entire process of going through the court system to get justice for my son while mourning his loss. But, I think it’s more important to address a few of Mrs. Bellamy’s comments,” I began. I turned toward her and looked her directly in the eyes.

“I can understand that you miss having your son at home. But you get to visit him. He can call you. You still get to hear his voice in real-time, not on video or an old voicemail. He is still alive. He may not be comfortable, but where he is more spacious than the grave my son rests in now. How dare you attempt to compare the two. Your son is losing time ‘on the outside.’ My son’s life was taken. People have tried to comfort me by saying his death was ‘God’s will.’ No, it wasn’t. It was your son’s will. He took my son’s life, not God. I am respectfully asking you to never make that comparison again. Our losses cannot be compared.”  I took a deep breath and turned back to podium and tried to still my shaking hands. The audience began to murmur and I heard movement behind me. I looked back to see Mrs. Bellamy’s seat was empty. I turned back to the audience and shared the information I originally intended to share.

After the program was over, some of the panelist and audience members came up to me and offered words of support and comfort. I needed to find Ms. Bellamy. Even though I was direct and meant what I said to her on stage, I didn’t want her to leave believing I didn’t understand how her son’s actions changed her life. I found her in a small conference room with her husband and daughters. Her husband saw me first and moved towards me with a stern look on his face.

“You can’t come in here! You’ve said enough! My wife tried to apologize to you and you weren’t even graceful enough to just accept the apology,” he yelled as he shook his finger in my face and attempted to close the door on me.

“David,” she shouted, “You aren’t helping matters! Stop yelling at her! She was right. Girls, take your father out of here. Let me and Ms. Dreyer talk.”

“I’m right outside this door, Rita! You call me if you need me,” he made sure to plant me with an angry look before leaving and slamming the door behind him and his daughters. I sat down next to her at the conference table.

“Ms. Dreyer, I didn’t mean to make you angry with my apology, but I’ve been through something, too. I’ve been hurt by this and it continues every day. It doesn’t end.”

“It doesn’t end for me either! The person that is missing at your dinner table is still able to communicate with you! I don’t have that anymore! The empty chair at my dinner table will never be filled again! My daughter doesn’t have a brother anymore. I lost my husband and son in the same month, and to hear you say that your son being locked up is anything like burying a child…yes, it made me angry. I know you regret what’s happened. I accept your apology for that, but you cannot compare our losses.”  We sat in silence for a moment. There was more to be said, but I certainly didn’t want to add to the hurt with my words.

“I had to leave my job,” she said softly. “The firm was concerned about all the attention my son’s case getting. They didn’t want their name associated with my son’s case in any way. They offered me a package to leave. All those years I worked and fought to become partner…no one in town will hire me because people have the notion that I raised a murderer. I’ve read the comments to the news stories online. Everyone wonders how come I didn’t supervise my son better, why didn’t I know he had a gun, why didn’t we lock our weapons up better. His crime was my fault. I was on trial with him. He wasn’t a bad kid. You know that. He used to visit your house sometimes.

We’re struggling to pay bills. My husband lost his job. He got in a fight with co-worker who kept making remarks about our son being a gangster and a thug. David was charged with assault. We’ve gotten death threats, our home and vehicles have been vandalized multiple times. Neighbors that we once considered friends no longer speak to us. Our lives don’t belong to us anymore. The media practically lives outside our front door. This is no kind of life. I try not to let Ricky know everything that is going on. He’s going to be in that place for the next 18 years. But he knows – he hears about the things that are going on. He’s depressed about this. He realizes how much his actions have changed all of our lives. He tried to kill himself twice.

Even my daughters had to deal with bullying in the classroom and parents expressing ‘concerns’ about having the siblings of a murderer in class with their precious children. We’ve been home schooling them since the trial. This is the weight my family has carried for two years. It’s nothing like burying a child, you’re right. I should not have made that comparison. But it’s hard as hell to live like this.”

I watched her as she spoke. Her face was wet with tears. I’d been unfair in my judgement of her, just like everyone else. I took her hand and gave it a squeeze. Then I reached over and hugged her.

Shadows

Image from the Alvan S. Harper Collection.
Image from the Alvan S. Harper Collection.

We spent the summer renovating our new home. The colonial style house, which sat vacant for over twenty years, was built in 1870 and sat on five acres of what used to be 180 acres of farmland. I was uncomfortable with our purchase. The cost of renovations being one reason, and the strange feeling that we were being watch was another. My husband thought I was just weirded out by the haunted appearance of the long abandoned house. I was the one who loved old houses and this house had character. It was a beautiful structure, with a field stone facade and wrap around porch. It was larger than most homes built at that time. The barn, which sat behind the house was large, but needed a lot of work. Steven planned on converting it to a three car garage with office space above.

During the course of the renovations, I kept seeing shadows, always in my periphery, but they were there. Even our dog, Bo, sensed something. He constantly stood in the foyer, barking and growling toward the living room. He refused to enter that room, and I always felt light-headed when I entered that room.

Two weeks after the renovations were complete, we moved into our home. I still could not shake the feeling we were being watched, but the space felt more like it belonged to us. So I began to relax a little. We decided to throw a Halloween themed housewarming. For the party, we erected a tent and had a barbecue on the sprawling front lawn. We gave friends and family a tour of the house and barn and showed them before and after pictures of the updates we made to the house. Steven and his friends poured over details for what we called “Phase 2 Renovations” for the barn. We bobbed for apples, carved pumpkins, had a potato sack race, made s’mores over the hibachi grill. Everyone had a great time. As the sun set, Steven and I pulled out a couple of Adirondack chairs to the middle of the front lawn and watched as the harvest moon rose high into the night sky. There were not a lot of street lights near our home to obstruct the view of the stars, which made the view of the night sky spectacular. While we talked about the events of the day and pointed out constellations to each other, Bo began to growl. I was about to scold him, when I saw why he was growling. The living room light was on, and someone was standing in the window watching us.

“Do you see that,” I asked my husband.

“Yeah,” he responded, concern rising in his voice, “I thought everyone left.” Everyone had left. We both rushed toward the house to investigate as the silhouette moved away from the window. Bo bolted ahead of us, running through the open front door of the house and into the living room where we saw the stranger.  We ran in after him. I had my cell phone in hand. I was about to dial 911 when I heard a snap and then Bo whimpering.

We entered our home to find an old woman, dressed in a servant’s uniform, her hair tied up under a white scarf. She was holding the limp body of our dog. She raised her withered hand and pointed at us. She spoke in a loud, raspy, whisper:

“A life for a life

Was once the rule

And a rule again

It shall once more be.

Under the light of the next full moon

You shall return what’s mine to me.

Time has begun

And swiftly fades

A life was taken

And must be returned.

To the ancestral plot

Where her loved ones await.”

“And if we don’t,” my husband demanded. She looked him in the eye, then turned her hollow gaze upon me and quirked a menacing smile in my direction.

“Then she will take her place.”

She gave Bo’s neck a final twist and let his body fall to the floor. Then, she vanished. I screamed and fell to the floor beside my dog. He was dead. I looked up at my husband. His chest was heaving.

“What are we going to do,” I asked through sobs. He helped me to my feet and held me.

“I think we need to find the body woman she’s looking for and return her to the family plot.”

“But we don’t even know who that is! This is impossible! We have to leave! We can’t live in this house!”  It was at that moment, the mirror in the foyer fell and shattered. The sound startled me and I screamed, again.

The mirror was one I found in basement when I was cleaning up. I re-stained the frame and hung it on a large picture hook in foyer. I looked at the space on the wall where the mirror used hang. The hook was still firmly secured to the wall. The wire on the back of the mirror was still attached and in tact. The mirror should not have fallen. I looked at the shards of glass scattered across the hardwood floor and the hallway runner and noticed what looked like a piece of paper. I carefully reached down and picked it up. It was a picture of a young woman in a striped dress who had a strong resemblance the apparition they encountered. On the back of the picture, in faded black ink was the name Edwina Josephine Milford, 1910.

“This must be who she wants us to find. Maybe that was her daughter,” I said, handing the picture to my husband. He looked at the picture and nodded in agreement. He held me a little closer.

“We need to find her.”