Es ist fremd! Or is it?

Foreign.

It’s foreign! Es ist fremd, in German.

This prompt. So rich, so inviting, so. very. up. the. alley for this girl who lives, breathes and is born for other cultures. The true Global Chick long before that phrase and concept became trendy and diluted by popularism.

Soooo my topic: Foreign.

But: I’m going to back away from the obvious for brevity’s sake.

Keep it simple. Sweet. To the point. Off-the-cuff first response.

Foreign.

Learning a foreign language. I’ve studied five to some degree or another.

Spanish. Booooooring. Oh so very boring.

French. Hated hated hated the sounds. One semester was plenty enough.

Italian. BEAUTIFUL.

German. Ja! Ja! Ja!

Japanese (written and spoken). Hardest of all — and this from someone who studied German, itself no cakewalk, for five years!

What I remember most about my earliest studies of Japanese is too intimate, to private to reveal. Boudoir matters that are none of your damn business.

BUT! That’s partly why those first instructions in Japanese are still so damn memorable 30 years later.

Language learning in the classroom vs. boudoir.

Takeaway lesson: Whatever your native culture and tongue, foreign sheds its inherent “otherness,” obstacles and problematic communications when passion, connection and love come knocking.

それは本当です
That's so true.

 

daily prompt: foreign

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Breathe Me, Wind!

Write what you’ll miss when you die.

April 6 prompt, “A Writer’s Book of Days”

The wind.

“Reeeeally?!” she exclaimed. She being a healer with whom I work when, just the other day, I mentioned — on a excessively windy day — how I looooove the wind!

“Reaaaallly?!” Her surprise saturated her voice and look on her face.

She’s no fan of the wind and apparently is not alone.

One of the joys for me of living amid the high and low deserts and mountains of Arizona is the wind.

Coincidently, we’re due for a particularly windy week, say the weather forecasters. The lion’s roar of spring. Good news for me! And the lion. 🙂

Ain’t easy to articulate exactly what about the wind so energizes me.

Uplifts me. Relaxes me. Cleanses and comforts me. Liberates me from the mortal chains and circles of worries.

Wind is both He and She and yet Neither. It can go either way depending on the day. Wind is androgynous.

Wind is the maestro of the world.

By her invisible hand holding an invisible wand, she conducts the swaying of tree limbs and the bending of branches.

She directs tender stems of tulips to arch and petals to launch from their green bases.

She commands puffy seeds of dandelions to scatter and ride the reckless roller coaster of invisible currents to destination unknown!

Wind shoves hats off our heads, pushes hard on our backs or gets in our faces in sweeping playfulness. No harm’s ever meant. Wind does what wind does without malice or intent to hurt.

{Can the same be said about human?}

Wind clears patios of dried fallen leaves, twigs and manmade trash like plastic bags.

Wind lifts particles of dirt, visible only under a microscope, from the hills and deserts and backyards and garden and mountains and deposits them — in crazy randomness — a mile away. Or 10 miles away. Or 20.

There’s no telling where the dirt that’s outside you right this moment came from! Where it’s been or where it’s going! It’s been around all right! As much as a promiscuous whore or a streetwise waif.

Wind is the World on the Go.

I reckon that there nails it for me!

Wind is Movement.

And I am movement.

Movement and mobility are deeply, profoundly inherent in my nature. Ask anyone who really knows me. Ask them where in the world I’ve been. Heck, ask them my address! What town I live in. Or what state — this time!

Gypsy. Rolling stone. Nomad. Wanderer. Restless wanderer. I’ve heard ’em all.

And I am all of those.

Yet in purest and simplest expression, what I am is a traveler. A natural traveler. The way I move through life is unique. My perspectives in life, doubly unique, in part because I AM so adventurous. Unafraid of moving through the world on my own.

Many have commented: “You’re so courageous, always going places where you’ve never been, doing it all on your own.”

My response is: “Nah. It’s who I am and what I do. Fear, to me, is staying put.”

The Wind.

She can never be roped in. Made to stay in one place. Confined. The words alone are the very antithesis of Wind!

I’ve often said that if ever I lose my mobility, if I ever stop moving, I’m dead. My father, bless his soul, was like that as well {though I’ve got the need to move even more intensely … if he was a 6 on a scale of 1-10, 1 being a deadbeat/couch potato, I’m a 9 or 10!}.

Yes, I’ll miss water when I die. Very deeply so. Water’s my element. My home on planet Earth. My nurturer. My mother of Mother Earth. Water is my friend … my healer … my regenerator … my all.

Wind, however, is my Spirit.

Breath. First. Without breath, we do not exist.

Freedom. Uplifter. The Creator who enters the jail and hacks off my chains.

It’s true. One day I won’t be around to hear the music of the wind blowing through the trees … or feel the sand of the beach striking my eyes … or hold tight to a my signature baseball cap on my head.

And while I shall miss the Maestro of the World that is the Wind, there’s something that can’t be forgotten.

When I go, I’ll leave this earthly Wind … and hitch myself onto the Winds of the Cosmos.

As Wind is eternal, so am I. A traveler … in time and space in my Subaru, listening to the wind gushing through the open windows … and outside time and space, rising and falling upon the unseen and unknowable waves of winds of the universe.

Sweet be that song of that Grand Maestro.

a whacky ruling replete with wisdom that never made the news

At 5 in the afternoon.
(after Federico Garcia Lorca)

March 4 prompt, “A Writer’s Book of Days”

(First, who’s Federico Garcia Lorca? Oh. A Spanish poet, playwright and director of the 1800s.)

The reverberation of the wooden gavel striking its sound block was felt across the courtroom. Not a difficult accomplishment as the room seated only around 25 at capacity. That day, it was inhabited by only three, which amplified the striking of the gavel all the more.

“Mister Abrams. Are you fully aware of the charges brought against you?”

“I am, your honor,” he responded, meekly. Dumbly. He didn’t truly understand. He did not understand how he could be brought to court for violating the peace and sanctity of another’s home. He thought the world was his oyster. His. H-i-s.

That his thoughtless, inconsiderate and obnoxious behaviors could so impose upon another human being, intrude into another’s home and ruin, if not obliterate, the “quiet enjoyment” of a tenant’s home as provided by Arizona law was a concept beyond the scope of Mr. Abrams’s intelligence and understanding.

“I’m a man,” he thought. “My family is from Egypt.” The machismo of his culture escaped his awareness. Ditto his — their — macho attitudes. He was the center of his universe, like most men of his culture.

Moreover, he was nearly revered as a god by his girlfriend, who sat in the gallery with a tissue already dabbing her eye. A blonde, shapely, busty lady. A real catch by Egyptian standards.

By America’s too. She was young, not merely in age — 25-ish — but life experience. Hers was not an old soul with innate wisdom, neither a soul to acquire wisdom quickly.

She was naive and for that she easily succumbed to the “charms” and powers of a macho dark-skinned man. Danielle Steele couldn’t have penned a more romantic figure. Cliched? You bet! But cliches and fantasies sell romance novels. Not realities.

“Well then,” announced Judge Heathrow, leaning back with all the earned authority of his 26 years on the bench. “Let us proceed. You are charged with excessive disruptions and disturbances of the peace of those around you, including and specifically the neighbor who lives below you.”

“Yes sir,” said Mr. Abrams.

He still didn’t understand how disruptive and distressing his actions were and had been. Months and months of stomping about, stepping with the force of booted Russian soldiers trudging through snowdrifts. Pounding and hammering and dragging heavy furniture across wooden floors into the night. Where was team lifting with the busty girlfriend? Even the judge wondered.

Months of dropping things that sent waves of crashing sounds reverberating across the plaintiff’s ceiling. Abrupt thumps and thuds and ruckus that caused her to literally jump inches from her chair. Her nervous system, overwrought by the continuous intrusions, no longer burned. It’d morphed beyond into a cold steel. She, the prosecutor, was done. She had had enough. Had enough of being unseen, unheard, disregarded by her neighbors. By HIM, the macho Egyptian.

She took the case to court. The judge had listened with fairness uncommon in this modern age of unreason marred by self-serving attitudes, political correctness and gains in the liberal agenda at any and all cost.

Judge Heathrow sat upright in his judge-ly chair with the tall black leather back. Straightened his shoulders. Looked with a poker face first at the defendant, then the prosecutor, then briefly a piece of paper on his bench.

Then, with that same poker face displaying but one expression: an unyielding commitment to fairness and peace that was his task, purpose and mission to uphold, he announced his ruling:

“I rule in favor of the defendant.”

Mr. Abrams’s gasp was as audible across the courtroom as the gavel bang had been. The busty blonde girlfriend’s too.

“With conditions,” he immediately and emphatically added.

The cheer of Mr. Abrams and his busty blonde girlfriend deflated, their shoulders sagged.

“The prosecutor has excellent grounds for this case. This court has found it a case of merit. You have, Mr. Abrams, been inconsiderate. Thoughtless. Inattentive to the right to peace and quiet enjoyment by not only this prosecuting tenant but all tenants in your building.”

Mr. Abrams, seated at the defense table before the judge’s bench, looked down at the floor.

“You have been found to have been arrogant and unconcerned about the impact you have on others.

“You have been the cause of distress, unwittingly perhaps initially. Yet when it was brought to your attention in a neighborly dialogue, you disregarded the agreement toward cooperative harmony and peaceful coexistence in tight quarters. I am assured of such by the photographs entered in the exhibits.”

Mr. Abrams bit his lip. He looked ready to both cry or punch the judge’s lights out. As macho men are wont to do when their machismo is usurped.

“The prosecutor in this case has convinced the court of the validity of every claim. She is, in fact, by law, in the right and in the spirit of the law has won this case.”

Mr. Abrams looked up at the judge, confused.

“To answer your question,” the judge proceeded, “I have ruled in favor of the defendant.”

“That’s me,” whispered Mr. Abrams.

“It is not because she is wrong. She is right. It is you who is wrong. And yet I rule in your favor because it is you who must learn the rules of community cohabitation.

“It is you who must remain at the property, not because you have the means and resources that enable you to do so.

“You have been an unneighborly neighbor and until you learn to be kind, thoughtful, considerate and mindful of those around you, you will continue to live there and received continual reminders from the divine and from tenants below that you are crossing the line,” the judge stated firmly.

“When you have learned that community living involves others, not solely your self and/or your girlfriend, you will be released from your lease by circumstances and forces greater than yourself and you will go on to become a better neighbor in the next location.”

Mr. Abrams’s expression of puzzlement was astounding.

Taking the cue, the judge “dumbed down” his ruling.

“In other words, Mr. Abrams, while the court has ruled in your favor, it is not because you have been in the right. You have not.

“It is because you have been inconsiderate and unneighborly. Until you learn otherwise, you must remain in your current residence and be subject to remands and reminders from those around you about your transgressions so that YOU might grow.”

“Oh.” It’s all Mr. Abrams could muster.

At 5 o’clock that afternoon, under crisp cloudless blue skies and a full moon, a Judge of Uncommon Fairness & Reason made a seemingly confusing if not convoluted ruling that favored the offender rather than defender.

Yet in his supreme reason, wisdom and insight, he issued a ruled ultimately designed to serve the good of all.

How so?

It meant, for the plaintiff tenant, opportunity after opportunity to speak up on behalf of herself and the sanctity of peace and serenity in her home.

It meant, for the defendant Mr. Abrams, lessons in growing up and mindfulness toward others.

Lastly it meant for humans and future neighbors of Mr. Abrams and his blonde-busty- “what a catch!”-girlfriend a quietude that otherwise they’d never enjoy.

A win-win-win in a landmark case on the books that receives none of its due recognition and applause in the legal profession. Unfair? You bet. As are humans.

At 5 o’clock that afternoon on March 4, an unconventional, even whacky, case was sealed with a reverberating strike of the gavel on its sound block.

The judge rose in dignity ad silence, turned and retreated to his chambers.

At 5:15, after hanging up the black robe on the coatrack in the corner of his chamber, he poured himself a thimble of superb single-malt Scotch and sighed a deep sigh of tremendous and voluminous weariness with the human race. “Why must people be so unfair. So unreasonable. So selfish.”

Sadly, he found no answer in his law books, his compelling wisdom or dignified sips of Scotch.

Hair. Humbleness. Hallelujah.

Write about hair.

March 1 prompt, “A Writer’s Book of Days”

Well, there’s Hair, the rock musical of the 1960s. A timeless classic of hippies in love beads, bell bottoms, flowy colorful Grateful Dead dresses and barefoot singing the virtues of free love, sex, Hare Krishna and the Age of Aquarius.

Well, they weren’t always clothed, to be honest. At some point in this rock classic of the psychedelic ’60s, the anti-war flower children got naked.

Back then, it was a radical move. Today, we can see endless selfies of Kim Kardashian naked. Barf. I could morph this into an exposé of culture, of how Americans no longer have shame, no longer value discretion or modesty or privacy but that’d be to sidetrack from the prompt.

Then there’s hair, that protein-based stuff found on heads and bodies. I’m about as non-girly as a girl can get! I’ve never worn makeup (well, except for Halloween costumes). The whole shaving legs & underarms — unnecessary and waste of time; a cultural dictate and “rule” of femininity (allegedly) that interest me not at all.

Don’t even get me started on heels, perfumes and nail polish! Barefoot, soap and biting my nails (a lifelong habit I struggle to break).

And beauty salons — since the topic IS hair — you can guess where I stand on that too! Have never had my hair professionally colored or straightened or permed (ditto pedicure or manicure). I’ve had it cut of course by professional cutters.

Then I’m about the basics.

Wash as long as there’s no extra charge.

Work with the waves and the thickness. No need to blow-dry — though they always insist! If blow-dry you must, then do NOT shape the hair with that curling brush! Let it be itself. Let it be.

I always begin a professional haircut by telling the cutter that I don’t do gels, mousse or any product. I’m lucky if I include conditioner in a regime! I’m wash-and-go.

I don’t own a blow-dryer; I don’t even own a brush any longer because now I keep my hair super-short. And I cut it myself with proper hair clippers. Some 14 bucks from K-Mart. I remember vividly when I bought them. From K-Mart in Tacoma, Washington. The darkest chapter of my entire adult life. When $14 was a LOT of money. A LOT.

I stood for a very long time at that shelf, studying the few clippers available, examining their differences, weighing their features. Weighing whether to spend the very little money I did have on clippers. They were an extravagance, to be sure. A luxury. Anything outside of food and paying the bills was a luxury. Even a cup of coffee was a luxury.

I remember many times of handing a dollar bill or two over to a barista and speaking silent prayers of gratitude that I had that money to spend on a cup of coffee in a cafe. It was a luxury. Those humbling experiences colored my external world in black and reshaped, and eventually lit, my inner world in ways profound, meaningful and enduring.

So it was with those clippers. After about 20 minutes of contemplating the cost, value and affordability, I decided to go ahead and purchase them.

Why in a time of such financial duress and stress?

Because I recognized that those clippers would pay for themselves after only one haircut. With even the cheapest cuts (think Supercuts) going for around $16 in Californicated Washington state, at every three months (I really stretched it out!), it’s expensive. The better choice, and smart one, was reasoned. It was clear.

And so it was with great mindfulness and appreciation for the money in my wallet that I purchased the cheapest hair clippers K-Mart had.

I still have them, some five years later. That won’t sound significant without knowing how many times I’ve moved across states with only what I can get in my Subaru and how much I’ve released than kept! Space is a premium. Waaaaay more things are cut than come-with! (Heck, I didn’t even have a bed for 3+ years but that’s another story.)

But those clippers — still in their original box and the thin plastic cape unused and still in its original wrap — have survived those cuts. No pun intended.

Since I’ve no plans (or desire) to return to the hassles of long thick wavy hair — hair with definite personality and mind of its own! — I’ll likely have those clippers until I die.

If the day comes that I no longer need them (i.e., am rendered unable to buzz myself), then I shall pass them on to someone who can use them. That’s how I am. I hate clutter, which includes things unused lying around. Stuff needs to be used and appreciated and valued — I truly believe that. And if not by me, then another. I truly believe that too.

Funny. When I began this post in response to the hair prompt, initially a whole other direction sprang to mind.; it too a worthy (and colorful) tale.

Yet because I let the writing take me where it wants and needs to flow (with prompts, the more I stay out of the way, the better), I discovered something.

I discovered how much those clippers mean to me. How much I value them to this day, years later and three intrastate moves and countless miles on the road later.

I discovered — or rather, was reminded — of a truth that for me is fundamental. When you’ve been truly poor, you never forget. Even if wealth and riches come your way thereafter, poverty shapes and affects the soul and mind and life view in lasting ways.

For some, impoverishment instills a chip on the shoulder. A sense of entitlement. Of going into the world and stealing and taking what is not yours and demanding and bullying because you feel entitled. “Look at what my parents … white man … society … world … {fill in the blank} didn’t give me!!”

My experience was (and is) far from that. Impoverishment leaves its scars. In my deepest darkest poorest years of lack, I cultivated a gratitude and humility and humbleness that I truly believe now, as I endeavor still to heal, would not have been possible had I not gone through the Valley of Darkness.

Those hair clippers are a memento. More importantly, they are a reminder of where I’ve been. They remind of humility and humbleness.

We’re each hair today and gone tomorrow. (Couldn’t resist.) Between today and gone, I’d like to pay it forward … to give because I received. I reckon one day I’ll have opportunity to cut the hair of someone who cannot afford a haircut. Perhaps a homeless person, perhaps a single mom so struggling that she cannot afford the “cheap” costs of the cuts-n-go shops.

I don’t know when or where. I just know that someday, somewhere, someone(s) will be able to partake of the clippers (with all the different-sized combs to boot!). It would be my pleasure and honor to be of service with humbling hair clippers that cost 14 blessed dollars at K-Mart.

Hallelujah.

It’s a bird! It’s a fish! It’s Supersea!

Close your eyes. Write about what you see.
February 20 prompt, “A Writer’s Book of Days”

Azure water.Golden sand. Brown sand saturated by surf. Bold yellow ball high in the sky. Sunny.

Kids shrieking in their fear and their play in the water. I stand where the water surrenders its fierce rolls into laps before disappearing into the wetted sand all together.

I advance 4 steps. My soles sink in as sand becomes like quicksand. Froth and undertow nibble and wrest for a hold of my my ankles. I stand firmly, unafraid. The water is my friend. My element.

A man floats the watery crescendos lying on his belly and paddling offsides like a dog. He’s maybe 20. A grown-up in the eyes of a 12-year-old.

An orchestra in weird harmony. Continous high-pitched shrieks and blows of shootings from kids, like horns from the whale’s blowhole, contrasting with the rhythmic roar of the ocean.

For my petite and skinny stature, I am a strong swimmer. Unusually strong even. I have no fear of the water, even now after I’ve ventured in fully. I understand the water and respect it. Even at my young age, I understand the power of water and her undertows and not to challenge them. I would lose as would most anyone.

Deeper into the ocean, the currents twist and turn and change directions abruptly. There is no policeman or traffic control beneath the surface of the water! Their willy-nilly forces tumble as they will. No man can destroy the forces of water neither should he try. He shall be defeated, ultimately, even fatally.

I plunge head first into monster waves. Well, monstrous enough. They’re not the 50-footers of Hawaii but they’re certainly big enough for fun rides. I love the science of riding the waves. Treading water, studying the wave out there as it comes closer and closer to shore. Rolling. Gaining swell. Gaining momentum. Each pull only pulling more and more for or speed and height. As if water’s imploring, “hey everyone, come along on this ride!!”

Sheer delight. As the wave forms before my very eyes, anticipation only mounts! The dynamics of waves formation are fascinating to watch! But, much as I’ve got an astute observant researcher within, it’s not the researcher who’s here to play! It’s me!

I await that moment where the base of the wave is at its maximum swell and its curve at maximum height but not yet broken into its inevitable fall. That moment where all forces converge into a stellar harmony. A symphony of the sea.

I plunge forward — a dive into glory! Head, arms, legs, feet, all given over to the wave. I let go. The wave flings me up in her forceful arc. I’m a bird in flight! Alighted atop the curve of her neck, I ride, effortlessly. Then all too quickly the flight is over. She thrusts me back to earth, speedily and in no uncertain terms! Unmerifully even! Suddenly I’m a sock in the washing machine. My eyes are shut and mouth closed to keep from gulping rushing salty water. It happens sometimes. Oh well. All in good fun!

All in the world is tempestuous churning water. That is all that is in my world! Her roar fills my ears. No sound but the apex of her symphony.

Gradually, predictably, her frothy wrath — the sea only SEEMS angry, she’s really not — subsides, unwinds, calms into the inevitable meeting at the shore. There, the wave may leave her mark as bubbly froth along the shore or vanish into grains of sand, never to be seen again.

I may gallooop out but only briefly to regain my footing, turn to face the sea and press back in over and over and over! There is no joy like the ocean and merging with her waves! Better than any ride at the fair or a carnival!

Am I an amphibian trapped in a human body?! Or part fish and part bird?! Perhaps! Kinda like the mythical phoenix who rises time and time again from the ashes of fire … only in my case the water instead of fire? Very probably!

When I close my eyes, I see the place from which I came and from which we all originated, mammals that we are. I see too the place to which I’ll return in the form of ashes, when my time on Earth is up.

I’ve no fear, only the greatest respect and regard for the water who birthed us and nourishes us still. She is my orchestra of ever-moving and seemingly clashing forces all come together in one marvelous, outrageous, divine symphony that not even Mozart could write — though he may well try!

When I close my eyes, I see the place where I began and the place where I’ll end up before I resume my astral journey in other galaxies. I see a symphony. I am at peace as the waves thunder in my ear.

Romancing the Stone — with a Twist

Open the box.

February 17 prompt, “A Writer’s Book of Days”

It’s not what she expected, Marilou.

When Sam dropped to one knee and presented a box balanced on the fingertips of two hands held aloft, her heart went a-flutter. Just like in the Danielle Steele romance novels she consumed along with her favorite munchies, bags of buttered popcorn, at her side.

A royal blue velvet case. Just like in the movies. Just the right size for an engagement ring. Or a pair of emerald earrings.

How would she disguise her disappointment if they were those instead of the ring? She’d cross that bridge if she came to it and prayed it wouldn’t.

She and Sam had been dating, what, about 2-1/2 years now. Is he in or is he out? It’s about time he make a commitment. It’s about time he got SERIOUS about their relationship. Their future.

She ruminated on these thoughts a thousand times a day.

It’s about time they both settle down. Find a house. Start a family. All those things that people do. That you’re supposed to do. That’s normal to do, she thought.

How sweet he looks there, on his knee. Totally disregarding his slacks getting soaked by the day’s early showers resting now on the street. Just like in the movies. Just like in those romance novels.

“Marilou,” he said, holding the velvety box aloft and looking her directly in the eye. “You know I love you. You know I love you like I’ve never loved anyone else. Well, except for Rascal.”

Marilou smiled. Yes, he certainly loves that big goof. A motley mutt mix of, to the best of anyone’s guesstimation, muscle-y Rhodesian ridgeback, lab and boxer. That big goof goes everywhere with him. “Surprising he’s not here with us now!” she thought.

Her future fiancé — Marilou was just about that certain that a proposal was in the works — loved that dog to death. But that’d change once they were married. She’d teach him. She’d train him to love her more. Or at least to put her first. Put her before that dang mutt.

“I’ve been trying to give this to you for a while,” Sam said from their spot on the sidewalk in front of the cafe.

The cafe where they first met. He seated at a table with a cappuccino and his head buried in a magazine. A dog magazine of all things. “Figures,” she thought in retrospect. “He’ll outgrow that, once we’re married. He’ll learn to put me and family first, once we’re married.”

Marilou cheered her good fortune at a table emptying next to the man with the magazine just as she paid for her latte. Snagged the seat. Struck up a conversation. And the rest is history. Just like in the movies. Just like in the romance novels she devoured.

“I finally got the nerve,” he said, an unmistakeable bashfulness briefly sweeping across his face. “Here, I’d like you to have this.”

“For me?!?” she cooed. She even batted her eyelashes but he didn’t notice.

Sam glowed as she received the fuzzy box. With anticipation dripping from her every pore, she took hold, prepared herself to remember this very special moment and flipped the lid. Just like in the movies. Just like in the romance novels.

She was stunned. Incredulous even. “What’s this?!”

Grinning with all the pride of a 10-year-old boy presenting his mother a bouquet of wildflowers that he himself had picked from the nearby hills, he answered gleefully.

“That’s a rock … what’s left of a rock, I should say … that Rascal chewed. Down to the nib. It’s the first rock I ever threw for him way back when he was a puppy on our first walk.

“He carried that rock around in his jowls for that entire walk! Refused to let go. Except for me to throw it. Again and again! It was like his tennis ball, ya know?”

“No, I don’t know,” Marilou glared in her mind. She feigned ignorance with a shrug.

“He carried it home, so proud, this little goof with a rock half his size. After that, he’d lie around gnawing that thing down to the bone,” he reminisced lovingly. “What a guy. I kept it all these years. Sentiment, I guess. I just love that Rascal. Now I want you to have it.”

Marilous was speechless. Well, she was receiving a rock all right. But it looked nothing like the one she envisioned or that every girl dreams of. Such was her conviction.

“Definitely not like in the movies. Not like in the romance books,” she fumed.

Her impulse was to take that gnawed-down rock and heave it mightily against the sidewalk in front of the cafe where they’d met, cracking it into a million pieces. “THAT’D show him!”

But a blip of her higher self intervened. Stopped her. And thank God because it’d would’ve broken Sam’s heart in a million ways and he’d never recover.

She snapped the lid shut. Handed the box over. Smiled and said: “Perhaps you should give this to your dog instead. You two would make a very lovely married couple.”

Then she stormed off, leaving Sam dumbfounded, speechless and immobilized still on one knee.

Funny how most things do work out in time.

Marilou and Sam each recovered from their split.

She ended up finding her perfect dream man. Of course he was nothing of the sort. Marilou never truly knew or saw him at all. With her rose-colored glasses, what she saw — and married — was the dream man straight out of the movies and romance novels.

And Sam, he came out the real winner. He and his big goof.

He and Rascal shared a true friendship. They were the best of buddies. Genuine, soulful, unconditional love both ways, fun, playful and honest. Always there for each other. Always listening to each other. Never calling each other shitty names or making hurtful judgements, accusations, false statements and all the rest of the crap that comprises most marriages.

And just for sentiment, Sam placed that box, with the lid opened to display that chewed-to-the-nib first rock that he’d thrown, the rock that had begun a bond and lifetime companionship, on his dresser.

Time to time he caressed that rock, just a little with the tip of a finger. He never thought about the bitch who’d try to sink her catty claws into him — her projected image of him as husband straight out of the movies, out of the romance novels.

He and his dog had a bond that was healthy. Full of good and replete with joy. He felt like the luckiest man alive.

He would never be boxed in by a woman and her watershed illusions or delusions.

And he would never close the box that held the rock that to him meant more than any diamond from a jewelry store — be it inside or outside of a romance novel.

the kiss we remember isn’t always the first.

Write about a kiss.
February 1 prompt, “A Writer’s Book of Days”

He lay on the mattress. On top of a piece of plastic and a sheet. He hated that plastic. Only reminded him of his infirm state of body. Most days he was lucid. However, he slipped in and out of consciousness. Felt confused, disoriented, illogical. An effect of the drugs. Only God knew how many chemicals coursed now through his body. Except the man, clear-thinking or otherwise, didn’t believe in God. So no one knew how many drugs to fight off the cancer were in his body. The doctors lost count.

He was a proud man. A smart man. A severely stoical man. His was a life of severe abuse. He had survived it. Or had he? Yes. He lived through it. Came out alive. But at what costs. Many many many. Too many. He wouldn’t talk about it. He probably didn’t even known himself how many.

He shifted slowly from his back to his right side. The plastic cover crinkled. It pained him, the slight movement as much as that sound. Yet another reminder of his infirm condition.

Life was draining from his body. Cancer was taking it all away. Aggressively. Inarguably. The man who had dictated life, its ways and means according to HIM to so many — his children, his wives, sometimes even friends and relatives of his wives’ families — was now being dictated to. Ironic. A turn of the tables. A taste of his own poison, so to speak. Just as he had dictated to and forced his will upon others, he was now being dictated to by forces stronger than he. By a disease that refused to surrender. An illness that marched through the whole of his body and mind.

The illness was brutal. A half-million soldiers under the command of a cruel general. It took no prisoners. The man himself was captive to forces greater than himself. Was at the mercy of all the rage inflicted on others through his lifetime. Especially those he loved.

“That’s more comfortable,” he thought, once he accomplished that shift from his back to his right side. A seemingly simple move of considerable exertion for the sick, the elderly and the immobile. Even the seemingly simplest of turns in bed taken for granted by most people can take 5 to 10 minutes. A turn or two can mark a major achievement in a day for the debilitated and the demented.

Gratitude for having at least some strength left to move one’s self on one’s own with no help from a nurse or doctor or partner or caretaker? Perhaps.

Gratitude for still being alive? Perhaps. But what if it’s accompanied by crushing pain. Debilitated drugged-up existence. Muscles atrophied by cancer. No recovery in sight now. Ever.

Is the cost of “staying alive” worth the costs? The enormous costs of doctor and hospital visits and drugs and more drugs and medical tests and studies. On and on and on the list of expenses. Just to “stay alive.”

“This is not life,” he said to himself. The initial comfort of lying on his right side slowly gave way to discomfort. Stiffness. Immobility. He was a man of mobility. He HATED this immobilization. More than anyone could understand except his daughter, one of his two, who was just like him. Had inherited the Mobile gene. Take away mobility. Motion. And life for those two was over.

He felt it through his morphined-up body and mind. At least now he was relaxing. Experiencing some streams of peace through the torrents of ravaging pain of the months, the agony of cancer eating away at him. And eating him alive from the inside out.

Yes. The streams of peace expanded within. Like air they felt. Like the soft rides along the airstreams. His mind had last-minute recollections. Flashes from the life he was leaving behind. He would miss his wife. He would miss his dog. He would miss riding the airstreams as he had countless occasions in an airplane he no longer had.

Except that he was gliding on those currents, the winds that he loved, when death came to him with a kiss.