Posts Tagged ‘memory’

She Told Him That She Loved Only Him

Posted: October 16, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
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cleaning up the attic

Post #7 of the “She told him that she loved him” series. How many others were there? Who cares.

Felicia nearly walked right into the attic stairs, pulled down from the trap door in the third floor hall ceiling. She put the bin down. Hair fell into her eyes. She poofed it back. “Hello up there,” she called.

“Hi. Oh, sorry about the stairs.”

“Finding anything we can give to Goodwill?”

“A few things. I’m putting another bin together.”

Felicia checked the hall. She couldn’t walk through it with her bin with the stairs in the way, and the air became suffocating in the attic if you left the trap door closed too long. She sighed. Might as well see what Liam was so fascinated over.

On second thought, the attic could be stifling even with the door open. She coughed. Next to the stairs, Liam had piled four boxes and a trunk. He shuffled over to her. With their peaked roof, it was only high enough for someone to stand right in the middle of the attic.

“It’s mostly high school stuff. Records, comic books, board games, and shirts.”

“Oh my God. Look at all the fluorescents.”

“I looked damned good in it at the time.”

“I’ll bet you did, honey.” A fifth box was still in the corner. The lid was open, but he’d left it there. “What’s that one?”

Liam smiled a half smile. “I was going to tell you about that one. I opened it by mistake.”

She frowned. “What do you mean?”

Liam dragged it over. “It’s all your lost loves.”

Felicia put her hand over her face. That’s what she actually called it, too. A picture of a crying doll was taped to the inside of the lid, with the words “lost loves” written in red pen. She saw what happened. She’d put the box all the way in the back so that no one would see it, and wrapped it in twine. After 20 years, two moves, and who knew how many times rearranging the attic, the twine had frayed and fallen away.

“Oh. Look at this. I should just throw it all away.”

“It’s up to you. Your memories are important to you.”

“Teen Beat magazines and love letters to boys who never knew me?”

“I saw some from when you were in college.”

“Yeah, that’s true too. I stopped collecting after I graduated.” Felicia flipped through them. Tom. Kenny. David. Her heart skipped a beat on some of them. Sometimes you found the right person at the wrong time. She’d had to find herself first. “Do guys keep things like this?”

“Not a box of pictures. I made a list once.”

“How long was it?”

“Not enough for a box. But they were good memories, too.”

Felicia kissed him. “You know what they say. You’re not the first man I loved. Just my last.”

He caressed her hand, still resting on the box. “I know.”

Photo credit: “Cleaning the Attic” by Joe Shlabotnik at Flickr
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Land of Ghosts

Posted: August 10, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
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Little Round Top

Larry shivered as he walked up Little Round Top. Late October is hit or miss weather in Pennsylvania. Cool air misted the ground with patches of fog. It wasn’t the fog that made him shiver.

His son Greg held out his hand. “Can you make it, dad?”

“I’m fine. I’m fine. Just a little rocky here. Let me take my time.”

Greg rubbed his arms. “Wish we had better weather for you.”

“Don’t you worry about that. I’m just glad to be here.” He swept his arm across the hill. “Can you imagine? Can you see it? Charging up this hill, over and over again, with the 20th Maine up there behind those rocks.”

“A lot of brave people fought here.”

“So many.” Larry imagined gray uniforms around them in the gray mist. His ankles crackled with old age. He imagined the pop of musket fire.

They made a long, slow walk over boulders and slippery grass. Once Larry did take Greg’s help as stumbled on some rocks that came loose under his feet. A shy blot of lemon yellow sun tried to poke through the clouds on the far side of the hill. They made it to the top. Larry made the sign of the cross, touching his hand to his head, belly and shoulders. “My God. You can still feel them.”

“The shadows look like blue uniforms.”

“Are you messing around?”

“No. I was just thinking that.” Greg gestured toward the rocks and trees. “Especially over there, and there.”

Larry nodded. He believed him. Larry realized that he couldn’t hear anything besides their voices. The brush of their feet on the grass and the quiet clatter of rocks sounded like whispers.

Larry thought of his grandson. Timmy was resting back at the hotel. He had an earache. His mother was keeping an eye on him. Larry asked Greg, “Has Timmy learned about the Civil War in school yet?”

“He studied it last year. He drew a map of the battle area for a project.”

“I wish you told me! I’d love to see it.”

“We can ask him if he still has it when we get back.”

“That’d be great. I’d at least like to talk to him about it.”

“He’d like that, too. He had a lot of fun with it. He brought home a foot-tall stack of books from the library. I swear he read all of them.”

Larry smiled. Memories were the best part.

“Looks like the fog is lifting a little bit.”

“Let’s start making our way back. We can make an early lunch.”

Photo credit: “Little Round Top” by rlwelch at en.wikipedia
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Like Waking Up the Dead

Posted: January 8, 2014 by writingsprint in Essay
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writingMike was going through a box of old memories when he found something that made his heart stop. It was a letter from a pen pal of his that he’d known in his twenties, half a lifetime ago. He recognized it before he’d picked it up. The business envelope was powder blue, edged in broken red and blue stripes, with the words “By Air Mail” and “Par Avion” printed on the front. Little stamps with Queen Elizabeth on them were in the upper right corner. Mike smiled. At the same time, he was living in the past and the present. He remembered the day this letter arrived – spring, and he’d been buried in books for school. He remembered his friend’s accent, how he couldn’t dance at all, and how he’d taken Mike to an English football match.

It was like that. Today I got back inside the clothes, skins and souls of five old and dear friends of mine. Their names are Logan, Marissa, Jon, Rolf, and Alene, and they’re some of the main characters of my first novel. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to rewrite a few essential sections of their story, maybe get a few parts of it illustrated, and then publish it on Kindle.

I was shaking as I started to write the first few words. I literally felt fear as I entered the villain’s mind for the first time in decades. I thought they were dead! Is there some risk in bringing back their soul this way? Creepy. I wondered what an actor would feel like if they read through a role they had once knocked out of the park, but hadn’t done in years. As my fingers tapped away I started to remember who they were and how they felt. It’s not that hard, really. An acting coach in a class I took said that we’re all the prince and the pauper, the queen and the maid, the priest and the criminal. We all have the same feelings and the same potentials. Acting — and writing — is about letting yourself feel those feelings.

Some of their decisions are changing. Some of them are stronger than I wrote them before. Others are more misunderstood.

This is a story that was written in longhand on somewhere over five hundred pieces of paper, not including the blind alleys, drafts and rewrites. It’s going to be finished on a laptop. Their souls, though, are as firey as they were when I first breathed them into life.

Logan and Marissa stood in the doorway between the author’s bedroom and the kitchen. They both folded their arms – one, then the other – and gave the author a long look. “Well? Where have you been?” Logan asked.

I love the smell of an engine

Posted: August 26, 2013 by writingsprint in Slice of Life
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Cougar engineChris and Terry put the intake manifold down on the empty work bench, alongside an open tray of tools. The fasteners and other parts that they’d had to take off along the way were laid out at the far end of the bench. Terry wiped his grimy hands with an old shirt. He started to wipe his face, then stopped himself. Chris walked back to the car, a 1967 Cougar, looking over the empty space. She loved how the metal felt under her hands.

Terry offered her the clean side of the shirt. Chris took it. She said, “Thanks. That was a lot easier with the two of us.”

“I forgot you knew so much about cars,” Terry said.

“Changing the oil is easy. Brake pads, fun. This is a labor of love.” Before she wiped her hands, she held one up to her face and breathed deep. “I forgot how much I love the smell of an engine. My grandfather owned an auto repair shop. My dad was a greasemonkey in his spare time. I grew up around cars.”

She started cleaning her hands. The rough cotton drank in the grease and dirt. Chris felt like she was a teenager again. “If I hadn’t loved writing so much, I would’ve been an engineer. Hell, I would’ve been a greasemonkey.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“It’s a tough day job. Nice hobby, though. I meshed the two together and wrote some articles on auto repair when I was starting out.”

She took a flashlight and looked at the engine more closely. Very little rust, but she saw wear everywhere. “Well, I don’t think the seller was lying. The body is good but the engine needs work. He put it through its paces. Kept it up pretty well but not as well as I would have.”

“My friend Little Pete can help us with the hard-to-find parts.”

“Let’s try my dad first. He knows some people, too. Junk yard people. Classic car people. Ebay savant people.”

Terry laughed. “I need to go pick up the kids at softball practice. See you later.”

She blew him a kiss and waved goodbye. Chris watched him go, then looked back at the car. She couldn’t wait to be up to her elbows in this thing. She’d been looking forward to this. Rebuilding the cougar would give them some father-daughter time. It would also be a lot more fun than art galleries, PTA, condo association and everything else she’d been doing for the past few months.

Something light for tonight. While going through some old emails, I found the quote “loving the smell of an engine” that I clipped from a friend’s Facebook post (thanks, Chris!). I thought it would be cool to write a scene about a wife and husband working on a car. No angst, no heartburn, just friends bonding over family, grease and metal.

parkI remember heat. Summer cross country practice in Pennypack Park, sophomore year of high school. I remember RK, yelling, “Country music sucks!” as we ran past a country music fair at the start. I remember JD, and his smile that went for miles that all the girls loved. I remember GD, the only guy on the team as weird as I was, with his brush-straight hair, braces, and the time that he said, “Leather and feather go together!” while sticking his tongue out like Ozzy Osbourne. That was back when you could understand what Ozzy was saying.

I remember the tunnel under the bridge at the start of our route. I called it Echo Tunnel. People clapped to hear the sound bounce. Some whistled. I yelled, “Ho!” because I couldn’t whistle like the others. People had smeared the walls with graffiti. Some of it looked pretty cool. The tunnel smelled like the gray smell of wet ashes. It always smelled like that. Cars rumbled on the road above us. I heard the bang when they hit the expansion joint on the bridge.

I remember the woods. The sun was going down and the bugs were coming out. You probably ate at least one every mile. You ignored the ones that you ran through. I remember the sun through the leaves and the sky darkening overhead. You ran faster when you saw it getting darker. Coach kept talking about the time they had to call the local police to find a guy who got lost. You’d never hear the end of that one. I remember fireflies. I remember bikers, runners, kids, moms, dads, dogs, frisbees, barbecues, burgers, and horses.

I remember sweat sticking the hair in my sideburns together and the scratchy burn of summer air as I pumped it down my throat, lungs working like a bellows, arms feeling the white burn of sore muscles on the third mile of five in summer practice runs. Long way to go.

Most of all, I remember the day I came over the last hill before the last turn at the end of the last run in my last year. I came to a part of the path where a wood rail fence ran along the jogging path, next to a steep drop to a creek that ran nearby. The creek bent here and turned deeper into the woods. Today I arrived as the sun was hitting the water as it went down. To this day, it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

I remember.

This is one of my favorite writing exercises. The style is inspired by a story I read in a magazine about twenty years ago. I’ve long forgotten the title. The narrator would have asides where he talked to the audience, which he would start by saying, “I remember Siri.” (This was twenty years Siri became the voice on your iPhone.) Siri had been his love. Something happened to her, and he was haunted by her memory. I loved his eternal, almost obsessive grip on her memory.

This post was inspired by the WordPress weekly challenge prompt, “I Remember.”

Book of Days

Posted: September 25, 2011 by writingsprint in postaday2011, postaweek2011, Weird, Writing
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“I burned it all. Everything,” Evelyn sobbed. Every scrap of her life. Childhood. School. College. Ten years of graduate study. The love of her life. All of it was vanishing as the flames licked the paper and turned it into ash.

The Devil stared at her. “You… what?”

“What?” Evelyn asked. She could barely remember anything now, not even the past two days. “Do I know you?”

“I needed that book!” he screeched. He grabbed her shoulders and shook her. “Do you know what you’ve done?”

Evelyn grabbed his beautiful raven locks and pulled them hard. He let go and staggered back. “Oh. Oh, I hate people. I hate you!”

“I don’t know what your problem is, mister, but get lost before I call the cops.” Bits of ash fluttered past her. Evelyn squeezed up her nose. Why couldn’t people burn cedar, or other things that smelled better. She caught some words on a scrap that floated by…she thought it was ‘blue candlelight.’ It tickled her memory. It made her feel like smiling. She thought she saw someone’s face.

‘Psycho Jesus’ suddenly looked at her. “Wait, wait…,” he said. “Tell me what you’re thinking.”

The face vanished in a burning, searing wisp, half fire, half her anger. “I’m thinking you really need to walk. Now.”

He threw up his trembling hands in front of his face, moaned again, and walked away. It must have been her imagination but it looked like little smoke puffs came off his feet. Evelyn smirked. What a fool. As she turned back to the urn, she wondered why someone would burn such an elaborate thing in the middle of nowhere. For some reason, she had no idea, and it didn’t bother her.

This post was inspired by a prompt from Inspiration Monday at Be Kind Rewrite. The photo was taken from the Tucson Today Photo Gallery.

Yoga is in the House

Posted: September 13, 2011 by writingsprint in postaday2011, postaweek2011, Yoga
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Redneck Yoga

Redneck Yoga: Good. Now breathe deeply.

I’ve been taking a yoga teacher training class, and soon I’m going to have to stand in front of a room full of my fellow students and teach them for an hour and 15 minutes. (Insert picture of me screaming HERE, or my brain dissolving into a pool of jelly.)

The big challenge is, how do I remember 40 yoga poses, when I can barely remember 10 digits in a phone number? Not just the poses, but how to teach each one, and smooth transitions between the poses. Step 1: I have 4 weeks to study and practice, so STUDY and PRACTICE! Step 2: Method of Loci. I’m going to use the memory technique where you imagine something familiar, like a place that you know very well, place landmarks within it, and use those landmarks to imprint what you’re trying to remember. I haven’t used it in a long time, but I used to love Method of Loci. Vivid images make the method more effective, and I’m the king of vivid, silly images.

I have 40 poses to remember. There are three floors in my house. The third floor is the warmup, the second floor is the main workout, and the first floor is the cool-down. I’m making the front door the very last step, so that I connect saying goodbye with leaving the house. The third floor bedroom looks something like this:

My wife’s closet Crocodile pose A crocodile is sitting in the dirty laundry
My closet Cobra pose A cobra is hissing from among my ties
Easy chair in the corner Baby dog pose A puppy is barking and jumping around like a nut on the chair
TV and DVD player Downward facing dog pose An older dog is jumping into the “let’s play!” pose, in front of the TV
My dresser Monkey pose A monkey is shrieking and leaping up and down on top of my dresser. Amazing, no books get knocked over
The bed Twist from monkey pose Another monkey is spinning on our bed like a whirling dervish. He’s wearing a funny outfit and tassels are flying
My wife’s dresser Overhead stretch Nothing especially wild here; me reaching for the sky, with my hands up among the stars. I can knock them around like they were a mobile hanging down from the ceiling
A side table with flowers Shoulder and neck stretches Me doing shoulder rolls and neck stretches. My body looks rubbery, like plastic man

As you can see, my bedroom is now a cross between a jungle, a zoo, and a circus, but that’s the best way for me to remember. How am I ever going to clean it up?

The Walking Drug Store

Posted: December 29, 2010 by writingsprint in Memories
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This is from an exercise called, “I don’t remember.” The idea behind this one is to focus on a non-memory, something that was absent, or was the opposite of what you thought it would be. I brainstormed a few and used this one.

I don’t remember being healthy much when I was growing up. My brother used to call me “the walking drug store,” because of all the cold medicines I would take, one after the other, day and night, trying to stay ahead of the symptoms I was buried under. Nasal snot. Lungs filled up. Headaches. Coughing. Itching. Wheezing. Chills. My winter wardrobe included half a pound of Vicks vapo-rub under my shirts.

Most of my memories of winter, other than snow and ice, were filled with coughing fits, phlegm, those awful-sounding coughs that sound like it’s coming out of a rusty pipe. Is it discolored? More like, what color is it this week? White or clear means allergy. Green means infection. Really green or brown means get stronger antibiotics. Red means go see the doctor, like, now.

You learn to love your cold medicine when you’re a sick kid. You start with the childrens’ stuff, then move on to heavier medicines as you get older. One thing you learn is that worse the medicine tastes, the more powerful it probably is, so the better it probably is for you. I toughened up on Vicks Formula 44. Some kids learn to be tough playing football; I learned to be tough taking cough medicine. It felt like liquid fire going down my throat, but I was a tough enough little kid and I was going to take whatever I had to.

We didn’t know that it was allergies at the time. The fact that it was seasonal probably should’ve been a clue. Those were the days that I lost my fear of needles. To get tested for allergies, they lay you on your back and map out a grid in ballpoint pen. Then they stick you with needles coated with allergy agents in solution. Whatever turns red or bumps up, that’s what you’re allergic to. That was bad enough. Next, my psychotic German allergist — is it safe? — decides he’s going to treat me by giving me massive doses of allergy shots in quarterly intervals. Imagine you’re 11 years old and your dad is holding down your arm while you get a dozen needles, one after the other. Three months later, you do it over again. And again. After that some genius got the idea that we could do three shots weekly instead. That person is still on my Christmas card list.

The one payoff was that I was so doped up on medications that when the chicken pox ran through my school, I was infected, but only barely. I probably had five spots over my whole body, and barely any headaches or sore throat. Count your blessings where you get them. Years from now I’ll be the one who mysteriously survives an alien virus… and no one will ever know it’s because I took Dimetapp like it was pancake syrup.