The Old Stair Well

The old stair well was dark and cold.  On the way up, each board would creak and moan.  The hairs on my skin would stand up tall and my mind thought things I should not know.  At the top, there was a door—turn the knob and the fear was gone.

The room was light and full of space, with dabs of white, red, green and blue.   A large place made for the kids to play, run, nap, and dream.  Like clay to the mold and paint to the brush, this was the place to be if one were three or four.  Some books, toys, chairs, and a couch to fill the place.  But to get here, meant I had to go up the old stair well.

My first years were spent in that room, it was the bright spot of my days.   Light and love came to my heart and I smile when I think back in time.  I met peers who felt its charm and too think back with much praise.  There is one thing to which we can all point; the odd sense we felt when we went up the old stair well.

Years have come and gone, and I went back to see, the room on that side of the door.  The old stair well was still dark and cold and each board still gave a creak and a moan. But this time, I felt no fear as I went up the stairs, just a sense of home.

The knob a bit tight, and yet it did turn and gave way to the sight of the old room. The cob webs have grown. The reds, blues, and greens are now dull, and the toys and books are all but gone. An old chair still sat by the wall and the light still made the room bright and warm.

Tears fall. I close my eyes. I think back to how it once was.  I say out loud, “I love this place, just up the old stair well.”


This was written for GBE2 writing group.  This week’s challenge was to write something using all single syllables.  Phew. I think I did it?  We’ll see :) 

Invisible People

I had wanted to be a part of this mission for a long time, but for very complex reasons, I was never invited to do so.   When Jack, Kelly Sue’s right hand man, was diagnosed with cancer and was too ill to continue, I finally got the invitation.  Kelly Sue knew of my eagerness and she was worried it would somehow rub these people the wrong way. 

These people were invisible to most of society, maybe circumstances had driven them there, but they joined this society by invitation and by choice.  An elaborate society of people who abided by their own laws and their own way of life, which became a hidden culture within a culture of society that would judge them for their failures and their present circumstances, and thus they kept themselves invisible to most of the outside world.

We drove the expressway toward the downtown area, then we navigated some back streets, winding ourselves towards the river.  Then she slowed the vehicle down and made a right turn, jumping the curve and following a somewhat muddy path between a bunch of shrubs that were clawing the paint off of Kelly Sue’s vehicle.  We almost got stuck in the mud twice—but she somehow managed to keep us moving, and finally she stopped the car.  The area seemed void of people completely, and I wondered if these people actually existed.

Kelly Sue looked in her rearview mirror then announced, “Jorge is approaching.  I’ll get out first.” She handed me the keys.  “In three minutes, open the trunk and bring me the first bag.  Remember, No eye contact.”

In the moment, I was nervous and curious.  And yet I knew this society of people didn’t trust anyone but their own.  I waited exactly three minutes, opened my door, kept my eyes down and made my way around to the trunk.  I pulled out the first bag of food and carried it to Kelly Sue, who met me half way.  She walked the bag to Jorge who turned and handed it to someone I did not dare look at.  I just kept my eyes down.  Next I pulled out a case of water, and we repeated the same.  Then a few bags of blankets, coats, shoes. 

When I was done. I shut the trunk door and Kelly Sue called me over.  Careful not to look at Jorge, I walked over.  Surprisingly, Kelly Sue introduced me to Jorge.  I gave him a warm smile and a handshake, but not a lot of eye contact.  Kelly Sue explained, “She will be helping me now. Jack is not doing so well.  She may be coming with me for some time, maybe indefinitely.”

Jorge did a surprising thing, he invited Kelly Sue and me to come back to see their community.  We must have walked a half mile, down the muddy banks, then we weaved ourselves back into the shrubs.  At first I didn’t even realize I was in the middle of their colony—but when I finally opened my eyes—the “debris” I thought was just piled up between the shrubs, were actually make shift structures.  And each structure was spaced out into somewhat even areas.  Through quick glances, I seen little eyes peering out my direction—more so I could feel them. It wasn’t an uneasy feeling I had but more of a curiosity.  Still, I kept my eyes forward and realized we were approaching the central building of their village.

We followed Jorge into the central building—which was comprised of cardboard and tarps.  Inside he invited us to sit, and I followed Kelly Sue’s lead and sat on the ground.  He explained we were in their community center—this was the building they distributed the food, clothing, and necessities we brought them.  It was also where they held court, called the monthly village meetings, taught school, celebrated their own holidays, and took refuge during major storms, as none of the individual homes could usually withstand such systems. 

Jorge explained that each member of the society worked, taught their young, and contributed to the society as a whole. This was the price for residency. The citizens were required to abide by the laws of the village and there were consequences for breaking the laws, including jail time and exile.  He then took us around and introduced us to several people who lived there.  I noticed people who were very ordinary, mostly happy, and most of all, appreciative.

While this community of homeless people, were self governing and did not trust the outside world, they were not completely self-sufficient.  They allowed me to see a glimpse of their society only this one time, because they knew that Jack would probably never come back.   They depended on the work of this mission, but they would cut off its support if they felt that trust was ever betrayed.  My glimpse into their world was not only an eye opener for me but also a test, to see if they trusted me. 

Perhaps I passed, because every Saturday for the next three years, Kelly Sue and I brought them the bags and boxes of food, clothing, and necessities they needed.   Jorge was always there to greet us with a hug and a smile, thanking us for our relentless efforts. It was not until I had gotten pregnant with my last child and was eight and half months along that I had to step aside.  My last Saturday, Jorge and several of the ladies met us and after we handed them their bags and boxes, they presented me with a cardboard cradle. It was the most precious baby gift I was ever given.

It has been about 6 years now since I’ve been down to the river.  Kelly Sue is still going down there every Saturday, taking many needed donations.  It is this time of year, I try to get the word out to my friends and family to donate to the mission—clothes, shoes, food, blankets, coats, and cases of water. I think about these invisible people often—and I remember them in my prayers. If I am ever asked to rejoin Kelly Sue—I plan to step up in a heartbeat.


The following was a fictional take on a true story of a group of “invisible” homeless people who really do live by the river.   Since the holiday season is upon us, remember that there are others in need.  You may not ever see them—but what you contribute will matter.  Happy Holidays!

Wrong Number

Marks__Spencer_Miami_Kitsch_shirt_2250_bikini_1950_Per_Una_Skirt_2950_Necklace_15She had said things.

He was embarrassed that he had pegged her for his type.  He could not have been more wrong about her. 

How could he have known what she was really like? 

Women didn’t act outspoken and forward, it was just not proper.  At least no woman he had ever known had ever dared to act the way she did.  She had pulled him right in too.  Maybe she went to one of those Hollywood shows and seen too much on the big screen? 

He didn’t know, but he knew he wouldn’t ever make the mistake of dating someone like Annabella Dorchae again.

And still it infuriated him because on the surface she was everything he had looked for.  She was beautiful, intelligent, and witty.  He found this to be refreshing and rather alluring.  She was up on all the social gossip, current events, and even foreign politics. So advanced compared to the other women he had met. He could sit and talk to her-and she would end up teaching him a thing or two.  He certainly hadn’t met too many women like her.

She possessed a spunky demeanor and she had that innocent look about her.  He slowly realized the latter was a misjudgment on his part.  She came across as educated and sophisticated, probably from an upper class family.  Precisely why he asked her to dine with him that evening at the country club and later join him in the poker room while he and the guys played a few rounds. He thought it would be nice to have her there—so the other guys could see the diamond he had found.

1950s-mens-fashionHe picked her up that evening dressed in his finest.  When she came out he noticed she was dressed a little liberally. He had his apprehensions at first, but he only thought of how the guys at the card table would respect him for hitting a home run with this babe.  So he let it slide. 

During dinner all seemed to be going well—she was very flirtatious, friendly, outgoing, and most of all she could talk eloquently with the friends who stopped at their table.  He anticipated the spotlight would be on him and his prize in the poker room for all his efforts.

He wasn’t sure what had changed.  Perhaps she had his number the whole time?   They had walked in the back room, he pulled up a seat, she sat cozily on the arm of his chair.  One of the boys passed him a cigar.  That is when Johnny piped up, “Charley, where’d you find the babe?”

Before he could even answer, she spoke for herself, “His babe doesn’t need for him to answer.  So why don’t you ask her yourself?”  This elicited a response from the other men at the table, “Ooooh, look out. Charley’s got his hands full” and other mutterings.  He felt sorry for her, but he shouldn’t have. Johnny wasn’t put off too much, “Alright then lady, what’s your name?”

“My name is Annabella Dorchae,” she rasped out in her best Bette Davis voice.  “You may call me Bella.”  She narrowed her eyes at the unsuspecting victim, “That is until you make my temper flare, then it will be Miss Dorchae to you. Understood?”  She was serious and flirty all at the same time.  Johnny raised his eyebrows and gave him the old stare.

It took Charley a few steps back. It was certainly unexpected, to have a woman with her boldness accompany him, but he tried to play it off with his best poker face. It wasn’t working as it became all too obvious that he was just as much a victim to her assaults as the other men at the card table.  While the boys sure got a kick out of trying to harass her being so bold and brash, they could not hold a candle to her quick retorts, her witty sarcasm mixed with her powers of intellect and perception.  They had never dealt with such a lady. 

She turned otherwise prowling men into prey. She argued with his friends on their political views, stomped on their religious devotions, exposed them for the chauvinist monsters they were and she even smoked a cigar.  Charley was mortified, because she clearly made it known that she was beyond any of their collective capabilities to handle.  Leaving Charley regretful of his decision to bring her along in the first place.

At least he was grateful because she helped him win a few hands of poker—so he didn’t leave the table broke.  He had to give her that.  She could watch those cards and know exactly when he should fold and when he should raise the a few.  Eventually Johnny accused Bella of cheating—but when she proved him wrong, he got mad and threw down his cards and stormed out.  She also made Frank cry and nobody ever made Frank cry.  And she pissed off George, the owner, to the point he threw her and Charley out of the game.   

George was screaming for them to get the hell out of the room and Bella had no intentions of leaving without a tenacious fight, because she saw the injustice of a cheating poker player and called George on it.  This forced Charley to drag her out of there, forcibly, and testing the limits of his gentlemanliness. It was no wonder George’s henchmen didn’t run them around the back and kill them both. Finally they made it to his car and he told her to “Get in, NOW!”

She complied and he got in the driver’s side.  He was so angry—and for a moment Bella was still.  He tried to start up the car-but it wasn’t turning over.  At which point she started to laugh uncontrollably.  He looked at her—catching the wildness in her eyes—almost in disbelief.

“"Say!  What do you find so darned funny?” he asked in an agitated manner.

“Oh Charley, you are so uptight!” she giggled, “You really should at least loosen your tie.”  She reached over to help him, but he immediately brushed her away.

“Stop that now.  Just sit there quietly so I can get you home in one piece.”

He turned the key again, this time the car started and he drove her as fast as he could all the way home.

He parked on the street, got out to open her door.  And that is when she had gone and done it.  She pulled on the tie he forgot to loosen and she kissed him.  A full mouth kiss—something a proper girl would never do. Then she propositioned him, “Come on Charley, there is more where that came from, all you have to do is follow me through that door.”


His immediate reaction was to follow her—but part of him was horrified by the thought of a woman being so forward, so he stepped back.  “N-No.  Y-you go, go on Bella. Go on.  I think I had enough of the likes of you.”  He backed away, stuttering like a young chap, almost losing his balance and fumbling to quickly get inside his car.  She shrugged her shoulders and walked up the sidewalk towards her door, but not before giving him one last glance over her shoulder.  He shook it off, started his car, and sped off.

He took a drink of his scotch and he sat on the sofa in his apartment—embarrassed by the events that evening. Upset with himself that he let her act in such an ill fitted manner.  He wasn’t sure if he’d be showing his face around the country club anytime soon.

And then for her to kiss him.  For her to make a pass at him like that.  Who did she think she was?  Who did she think he was? And as the minutes passed—the more it bothered him.  He just wanted to give her a piece of his mind. He wanted to put her in her place.  He wanted to… He wanted to… and so he walked across the room, picked up the receiver and he dialed 7952 and waited for the phone to ring.

resumidas-dress“Hello?” she purred.

“Miss Dorchae,” he stated with an agitated voice. “This is Charley” his voice was no nonsense and straight to the point, “About earlier…”

“Oh? Yes, yes, Charley,” she acted as if she had to search her memory bank  to place the voice with the name, “So sorry, didn’t recognize the voice.  What is it?”

“I’m wondering if the invitation is still open?”

“Invitation?” she inquired—as if she had no idea what she was referring to.

“Yes when I dropped you off earlier,” he paused, quieted his voice a bit, “You invited me into your house.”

There it was—he admitted he wished he would have followed her inside.  He didn’t act on it-and now he wish he would have.

“Excuse me?” she scoffed, clearly offended by the insinuation, “I’m sorry, Charley.  No such invitation ever existed.  I only invite in those men who can respect what they have found.”

He was confused, after all, what had he done?  He cleared his throat,“I don’t think I understand?  I thought—“

“That’s your problem Charley—the way you think.  So you need to hang up now.  And don’t call back, because clearly you have the wrong number!!” and she slammed the phone.

He quietly hung up the receiver—agitated, embarrassed, and confused.

Turn Back the Clock

Trying to trace her last thoughts, Martha found herself staring at the swirl in her cup of coffee.  It seems they were all slipping away these days—those precious memories in her mind.  Like seeds carried on the wind, her memories would scatter. 

blowing dandelion seeds 

What was it she was going to do today?  Oh yes, that’s right, she was going to run an errand. 

Where was she supposed to go again?  She stared a little longer, watching the swirls in her coffee made by her little stir. 

The Post Office? No.  That wasn’t it. 

The Grocery Store?  No, she was there yesterday. 

The Bank? Yes that was it, the bank.  But why? 

She really didn’t remember now.  What she did remember is that she was all alone and desperately trying to hang on to any thoughts and memories she knew she should have.   

She would call her son Davy, but he lived too far away.  She’d call Tommy, her youngest son, but he seemed to get so mad at her, like when she brought home that cat.  She didn’t want Tommy to be mad.  She didn’t need the stress.  She would call--

It didn’t matter, she couldn’t find her address book anyway.  And what good would it be?  Most of the people in it had moved or died. 

As she took a sip from her cup, she wished she could go back, return to a time when Joe was still alive and the kids still came around.  She would tell them how much they meant to her.  She didn’t do enough of that back then.  At least it didn’t seem so now. 

She’d call up her sister Orphie and make amends.  Or maybe she already did? She couldn’t remember now. She never did understand why they never got along. Too bad Orphie wasn’t around any more. Oh what she would give to go back and do it right.

And she take better care of Joe.   She’d make him quit those cigarettes.  If only she could have convinced him—he wouldn’t have died such a painful death. Her heart ached at the thought.

Most importantly, she would take lots of pictures and write things down.  She never thought she’d have these moments when her memories went missing—and how it only came back to her in bits and pieces.  She never thought she couldn’t recall the names of her kids and grandkids.  She never thought she’d forget where she was going to go that day.  It seemed now, when she pulled out a paper and a pen she could hardly remember what she needed to write down so she wouldn’t forget.

Finishing her coffee, the thought floated by, “The Bank,” and she latched onto that thought before she dared to forget again.   She stood up slowly, letting her hips, knees, and legs adjust, and then she grabbed her walker.  She went into her living room and grabbed her purse and her keys and headed for the door.

“Where you going Mom?” came the familiar voice.

“I have to go to the bank and run an errand.” she hollered back without turning around, heading out the door before she forgot.  “I’ll see you in a bit.”

“Whoa, wait a second!”  Her voice was really familiar, but she couldn’t quite connect to it.

“No. No!  I have to hurry!” she was out the door and on her way to the driveway.

She looked around.  Where was her car? 

It didn’t matter because the thought she clung to so desperately was gone.

“Mom, come on back inside.” pled the voice. “You can’t go without your shoes.”

She turned and looked.  Staring back at her was a woman that was a spitting image of herself 35 years ago.  Who was this woman? 

“Orphie?” she asked puzzled. 

“No Mom, it’s Gina.” she replied, directing her back inside.

“Gina?” she asked in a puzzled haze.

“Yes, Gina.  You remember, Davy, Tommy, and Gina?”

She faked a smile, “Yes dear, how could I forget?” she paused for a moment, “Where’s my car?”

‘You don’t have a car anymore mom, you stopped driving 8 years ago.”

Now she was more confused than ever.  How would she run her errand…to the----

“I couldn’t have. I need to run an errand.” she insisted.

“Which errand is that?” the girl pressed on.

“I don’t know…I just know I had to go run an errand today.”

“Mom come sit down and let’s have some coffee.  Does that sound like a good idea?”

Martha nodded.  Coffee always sounded like a good idea.

The girl brought her over some coffee and she took her stir—swirling it around.

“How’s your coffee, Mom?” her voice was gentle.

All at once it came to her as she uttered it aloud. “Gina Marie Koslowski”

“You remembered!” Her face had beamed.

“Oh how could I forget?” Martha was on the verge of tears.  “This damn memory of mine. I just can’t find …” frustration over took her and she was getting angry. “Find what I want to remember.  Like the puzzle pieces aren’t there.”

“It’s okay Mom—it is called Alzheimer's.  I don’t want you to worry though, someone is always here to look out for you.  You are never alone.”

She looked at her confused again. “Why are you here?”

“I live here,” she chuckled.  “Besides, someone has to look after you when you go to the bank without your shoes.” she said reassuring.

She found that last part funny, who goes to the bank without their shoes she thought.  Then she looked down.  Trying to put the pieces together wasn’t easy. She insisted one last time, “I have to go run an errand.”

“You don’t have a car.” Her daughter reminded. “You stopped driving 8 years ago.”

She stirred her coffee some more. Eight years ago was a long time not to remember she stopped driving.  What did she remember?  Oh yes, there was one thing she remembered, “Joe died.  He died 12 years ago.”  She was confident she got this right.

She could see the girls face—somber with a tinge of sadness. “Daddy died about 16 years ago Mom,” she said softly.

16 years?  How could it have been that long ago.  She only remembered it being 12 years ago.  She slowly brought the cup to her lips.  She took in a sip.  She could never forget the taste of a good cup of coffee.

“I think I better go lie down.” Martha said.

“Okay, come on Mom, let’s take you to your room.”

Martha followed the girl on an unfamiliar path, to an  unfamiliar bed.  She didn’t remember any of it.  She laid down and her daughter covered her with a blanket.  “Get some rest Mom, I’ll be here when you wake.”

She didn’t want to wake.

She closed her eyes and she thought of her sister, Orphie.  She thought of her three children, Davy, Tommy, and Gina.  She dreamt of her Joe.  A few more pieces of the puzzle began to scatter once again, although she tried to hang on to what she could.  If only she could turn back the clock, and remember all she used to know.

**This was written for BFF 241 Turn Back the Clock.  This is a work of Fiction.**

turn back the clock

This is the first GenFab Blog Hop brought to us by Chloe of the Mountain,  and I wanted to participate.  Only, just a few weeks ago, I did a Dear Past/Future me on my regular blog, Wine-n-Chat, for BlogFEST, and I didn’t want to duplicate a post there. This is my fiction blog, so I’m going to do fictional letter based on some real stuff.  I’ll let you decide how much is real and how much is not.  I will never tell.  Here we go!!

Dear 20 Year Old Me,

Boat pictureIf you are reading this letter, I’ve successfully found a way for a letter to time travel. If only I could come back in person, sit you down, and just explain a few things. As strong headed and as bull headed as you are, you probably won’t pay much attention to this letter or even believe it is from your wiser, older self. 

You need to pay attention!!

Where to start—let’s start with work.  Nothing in God’s creation is worth the stress that place brings you. Get Out!!  Get another job ASAP.  You do not need that kind of stress.  Before you quit?  Go down the hall and talk to that financial guy—about putting back a portion of your earnings.  Trust me when I say, down the road, you are going to wish you would have.  Don’t be worried about what he thinks of your meager earnings.  He may just hire you.  Go. Do. It.

On to school.  You KNEW when you graduated high school that you were not ready for college.  Why did you let your family pressure you into it?  Luckily you have your grades, but seriously, you know deep down you won’t graduate and you are just wasting your money.  Do yourself a favor—you have enough credits for an English minor, apply for your AA.  Then drop out of college and go get a real job –a job that doesn’t stress you out so bad. 

On down the road you WILL go back and get your BA. You will absolutely LOVE to learn at that point in your life.  You will take college seriously. It will be everything you want it to be.  However, NOW is not your time.  You just need to take care of you financially, because no one else will.  And you need to get out of that party town before it leaves you rock bottom.

Yes, that is right. I just said it.  As many fun times as you are having, you need to slow down on drinking. You are not immortal.  There are health consequences from your drinking. You will alienate some of your better friends. 

And seriously, YOU ARE STUPID not to hand over your keys thinking you are never going to get caught on the road under the influence.  Want to know something?  FEAR is what you will feel when you get pulled over while drinking.  You will be shaking and almost in tears.  I won’t let you know how this one turns out—because I really want you to think about it next time you decide so foolishly.  Maybe, just maybe, you will do the right thing.

Love life?  Ahh yes.  Well first I want to tell you to forget your past two mistakes.  And I want to warn you, the next man coming around the corner (if he hasn’t already), will seem like the one you’ll spend the rest of your life with.  He will do all the right things—and for almost a year you will be on cloud nine.  You will be officially engaged.  You will believe NOTHING will split the two of you up, and he will believe it more strongly than you.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t turn out to be the case—but you need this experience to do a lot of growing up.  So listen up.

A moment is coming and your fantasy bubble will pop.  You will vow to drop him forever. You will not be successful.  You will take him back.  You will fall in love with him all over and there are going to be some very joyous and very heart breaking moments that you will endure together. 

Buy stock in Kleenex is all I am saying.  But you will never learn to completely trust him again during round two. You will love him, but there is a small part of you that will always be a bit scared around him.  And you will decide to leave him again.

I am here to tell you the way you want to leave him is wrong.  He deserves a goodbye.  Disappearing on him while he is active for two weeks one summer is just wrong. You will regret this.  Be a woman, give him a proper goodbye. Meeting up with him years later will be awkward and seeing him at the cemetery will be even more heartbreaking for you both and you’ll have a lot of explaining to do to your family.

Yes, you heard that part right!!  You will get married to Mr. Right.  And you will have a family.  And you will finally have that sense of security you’ve longed for your whole life.

And even though you will tell your Mr. Right about that previous relationship and all it entails—it won’t be real to him or to your family until you run into Love #3.  And it might just all be avoided if you leave Love #3 properly to begin with.  I know this sounds vague, trust me. A lot of awkwardness and explaining can be avoided by just doing the right thing by #3 when you decide to leave him for good.

So yes—you will find Mr. Right.  You need to learn to trust him sooner in your relationship…because this one is totally a keeper.  If this means reconciling with your father before marrying him, then do so.  Your mistrust of men is stemmed from your relationship with your dad.  Unfortunately, what you believe now about your dad, much of it was fabricated.  Wait til you are 22 and you discover the truth…all I will say is it will be a mind blowing experience. 

Unfortunately, you will never again trust those that lied to you outright about your Dad.  And when you do discover the truth—do what your heart tells you and don’t let fear hold you back.  It is a shame when adults play games with kids and feed them lies for many years.  The good news is, you won’t have to worry about this with your own kids, because your husband to be is the best thing that could have EVER happened to you and them.  You just have to realize it sooner than later.

Not much more to say than that.  This was long.  Will you listen?  I can only hope.

With Love,

Your 40-something Self.

night out 2

The Room In The Attic


Come little child

Let’s go explore

The treasures and stories

Just beyond this door.

So the child latched on

To her hand of many years

And together they climbed 

Up to the attic floor.


They found boxes and books

Scattered all across the room

Some jewelry and trinkets

And her special Heirloom.

Her old voice called her near

‘Please, come sit down

I have something to show you

And not a moment too soon.’


Together they sat

With a big ole book

Bound by leather ties

Wearing an old leathered look.

Running her hand over top

She turned to the first page

Reading the inscription

Her voice audibly shook.


Down the generations

We hope this book finds

Your home full of peace

And soundness of mind.

With the good Lord willing

You’ll continue to share

The roots of your ancestors

Written in kind.


Then page by page

She handed it down

The story of their past

Like the passing of a crown.

Then she came to a page

That was void of ink

She reached for her pen

And wrote ‘Anna Mae Browne’


She finally cleared her throat

A smile of pride on her face

You have been added

You now have your place

Into this precious book

Which I am passing to you

Of our family, our heritage,

All for you to embrace.

The child looked up

Into her Grandmother’s eyes

Please don’t be sad

I don’t want you to cry.

It’s okay dear child

Granny’s not sad

These are happy tears

It’s okay they’re not dry.


One day when you’re older

And you are in your prime

It will be your turn to share this book

And the history of your time.

I hope you will remember

The stories Granny shared with you

Up in this old attic room

Near the end of her lifetime.


room in the atticWritten for: BFF #238, The Room in the Attic.  Come join the blogging fun!

Written by: The ShortStoryGal © 2012.  All rights reserved.

Too Late to Apologize?

Today is Day #14 of BlogFEST 2012.  Our host for today is Sylvie Branch of  Her topic today is


I am also writing this for the GBE2 topic Exploring POV for Week #72.  I’m a bit behind in that group—I’ll never catch up—but I wanted to explore it here :)


It had been years since he looked her up.  It wasn’t that he had forgotten her or that she wasn’t important enough, it was just that he was busy. Busy with his job, busy fighting a war, busy doing anything but making time for her.

And for this he was sorry.  He was sorry he let life get in the way, that he made excuses, and that he had forgotten his promises.  He had regrets.  Regrets about their last conversation, the last letter he wrote her, the way he knew he had broken her heart.  It wasn’t easy for him to do any of that.  He thought he was looking out for her, putting her best interests first.  Hindsight is always 20/20.  He knew he had to reach out.  It would be the only way.

He needed to man up.

He looked again at the number on the screen.  He picked up his cell phone and stared at it for a long while.  Then he took a deep breath and he called the number

One ring…

Two rings…

Three rings…

Four ---- “Hello?”

It was her voice.  His heart thumped, his mouth went dry, and he fumbled for words—any word—at all to come out of his mouth

“Hello is anyone there?” he heard her voice again.

“Uhm, Yes.  Shelly?” his voice cracked.  At least she should remember him then.

“Yes, this is Michelle.” her voice was inquisitive and yet she seemed so distracted.  A lot of background noise he couldn’t quite decipher.

“Is this a good time or should I call back?” he asked without introducing himself.

“Who is this?” she almost demanded, in a preoccupied way.

“Sorry, Shelly.  This is Denny Gordon.” he paused almost wondering if the name would jog her memory.

“Denny Gordon?” her voice sounded almost irritated until something clicked. “You mean Denny Gordon from Forest Hills High?”

Yes. You remember?” he asked almost relieved.

“Of course I do.” she said with an even more confused tone.  “Wow. I think you’re the last person I expected a call from.”

He engaged her for a few minutes of idle chit chat.  She was doing great.  Really surprised to hear from him. She inquired about how he was doing—if he was still serving the military.  He caught her up briefly—the short version of his life.

But he had to know for sure.  If she was really okay…if he could make amends in any way.  He lowered his voice, and softly approached, “So tell me Shelly, how are you, really?”

Her answer didn’t come immediately. He knew she knew what he meant.  Yet, all he could hear was a long minute, maybe two of silence.  Those were painful moments.  He was prepared for anything – or so he thought.

“You know, all things considered, life has turned out pretty good. I have a wonderful family now, I have three great kids, I have a decent part–time job. Looking back, I have no regrets and I carry none going forward.” 

Again she paused for a quick moment and spun it back around to him, “And you Denny?  How are you, really?”

Denny let the question hang.  Her voice echoed in his head ((family)) ((kids)) ((regrets)) ((none)).  Not what he thought he’d hear, but he could hear the honesty and sincerity in her words.

“Denny, you still there?” she seemed to wonder aloud.

“Yeah, I’m really good.  You know life has its twists and turns but its all good.”

The conversation ended a few minutes later after a few shallow exchanges of niceties. Denny hung up the phone.

It would be their last conversation—ever.

He wanted a do-over, but there were no do-overs in life. He wasn’t able to find the right moment to say he was sorry.  Would she have ever understood why he was so sorry?

She was happy—she was living her life on her terms.  Maybe his moment to apologize had come and gone a long time ago. 

Maybe it was just too late to apologize.


The dishes were piled up.  There was more laundry than she could remember to be folded. The kids were in the living room- Nick Jr. on full blast—singing some happy clues song, while her kids were arguing over some toy that she didn’t remember buying last Christmas or last birthday or maybe Aunt Corrie bought it.  

And that is when the phone rang.

Across the room she sprinted…praying it wasn’t another bill collector.  Hadn’t she had enough of them lately?  She made it to the kitchen—only to realize the portable wasn’t on the hook.  It was – over by the laundry machine.  Another sprint and she had it--

“Hello?” she answered trying to sound all put together.

She didn’t hear a reply—but she could tell someone was there. Getting slightly irritated she quipped, “Hello, is anybody there?”

“Uhm yes, Shelly?” The voice sounded familiar, yet she couldn’t place it.  Besides, whoever it was, he forgot that no one called her Shelly anymore.

“Yes, this is Michelle.” she corrected, but then her youngest started screaming for her binky and she grabbed one off the kitchen floor, wiped it on her pants and hoped she had gotten all the germs off of it.  Handed it to her to quiet her down and then motioned her back to the living room.

“Is this a good time or should I call back?”

There it was, that vaguely familiar voice. She should just hang up, but she had to know.  So she decided to force the issue, “Who is this?”

“Sorry, Shelly. This is Denny Gordon.” followed by silence. 

Denny-freaking-Gordon.  Wow—there was a name from the past.  A name that she hadn’t thought much of in a very long time.  The boy from her past—and if she thought too much about him—emotions would easily flood her.  She didn’t have time for that.  Not today. 

She turned and saw her reflection in the mirror across the dining room.  Touching her hair—to make sure she still looked half way decent even though she knew he couldn’t see her.  He always had that effect on her.

“Denny Gordon?” she repeated without invoking emotion at first.  Then gave him the a-ha moment, “You mean Denny Gordon from Forest Hills High?”

Yes. You remember?” his voice seemed to carry a tinge of regret,  Was that what this call was about?

“Of course I do!” how could she not, really. And for old time sake, she had to be honest with him, “Wow. I think you’re the last person I expected a call from.”

She listened as they both told each other the answers to some very surface type questions.  It seemed so surreal  to her.  What was she supposed to say after 15 years? I had to move on because you left me no choice?  No she could say that.  She just listened for a few minutes and gave some stock answers. 

Then he lowered his voice tone—the way he used to do all those years ago, when he could read her like a book—and he wanted her to level with him, “So tell me Shelly, how are you, really?”

She felt invaded.

She took in a deep breathe.  Really?? He could still do that to her??  After all this time?  Just like that?  Questions flooded her mind.  Why now?  Why even bother?  She let out that breathe and took another. And with the most honest and sincere heart she gave him her standard reply:

“You know, all things considered, life has turned out pretty good. I have a wonderful family now, I have three great kids, I have a decent part–time job. Looking back, I have no regrets and I carry none going forward.”

The emotions started to evade her.  How dare he interrupt her happily-ever-after-him, after all of this time—but she held back.  And she tried in her nicest way possible to mock his question back at him. It wasn’t that she didn’t care—it was she was had moved on. He needed to know that. He needed to feel that.  She didn’t live in the past. Not even for him.

“And you Denny? How are you, really?”

Maybe she had gone too far…because he didn’t answer.  She wasn’t sure what this conversation was all about—or why it even happened today of all days.

“Denny, you still there?” she was getting irritated—but trying hard not to let it show.

Finally, the question seemed to register and he answered, “Yeah, I’m really good. You know life has its twists and turns but its all good.”

She thought knew he was lying.  It may have been forever since they last spoke,  but she knew when he wasn’t being honest.

She had to make the conversation short.  Her oldest had a taken the markers to her family room wall behind the toy box and her youngest was falling asleep upside down on the couch.  She hung up the phone and she shook her head.  

She had no regrets about the past—and none going forward.  She was honest about that much. She didn’t completely understand the reason for his call.  Maybe she never would.  It didn’t matter because life happened—and right now she had to attend to it.

**This is a fictional story—if you like what you’ve read—please feel free to check out my other work on this site.  Comments welcomed and most appreciated.


The Shadows of Death

This post is written for BlogFEST 2012—and our host today is Leigh Young Isles of Views of an Optimist.  Be sure to check out her post as she gives us the topic of “Shadows”

ol blind manThe scenes that once played before him, so vivid and clear had yielded to movements shaded in gray, formless, and unsensical.

At least he still had them—for whatever time he had left.  His sight fading and his hearing not what it once was—he seemed silenced into a life of memories.

Memories of his youth—a young boy who adored his father.

Memories of his teenage years—becoming a man and going off to war.

Memories of meeting his Jean—falling in love and marrying her.

Memories of their family—his children-all 4 of them—definitely his pride.

Memories of his only son—going off to war a young boy—and coming home in a box.

Memories of his grandchildren—playing catch with their Granddad.

Memories of his Jean—losing her battle with cancer.

Memories of his first great grandchild being born—and holding that life in his weakened arms.

Memories of a life—well lived.

But his memories—once so vivid and clear—becoming like the world around him—grey, formless, and unsensical.  How he wanted to hold onto his memories—but they were fading…giving way to the shadows of death.


This is a fictional piece…written for BlogFEST 2012.  The host of the day is Daphne Palmer Romero of My Distant Husband.  It is a picture prompt—picture is shown below. 

I awoke on a brisk fall morning—to find that the waters, although calm, had turned dark.  It was a sign that fall was receding and winter was starting to seep in.  I poured myself a cup of hot tea and I sat down with my laptop near my favorite window over looking the beach.

I could not concentrate, so I shut the laptop and took in a sip trying to rid myself of the undeniable chill that seemed to cling to my skin.  I pulled the throw over my legs and looked out again.  To my surprise, their stood an apparition with his back turned toward me.

boy looking out to the ocean

He could not have been much more than 11 or 12. Although he was small in stature his presence was strong. He gazed out onto the sea, and  I could see the waves kiss the sand through his form.  

I pinched myself to make sure I was not dreaming—and indeed I was awake.  I sat and I stared for quite some time wondering: Why he was there? What did he want? And a part of me had wondered: If he knew?

As if a channel had been bored into my head, I was immediately surrounded by the sounds of his affliction, “You don’t play fair!”

Betrayal.  Hurt.  Sadness

“I thought you were my friend?” 


The sea reached toward him in response–this time chopping at the sand in front of him—making an effort for amends. In his state of anguish, the boy did not budge, unmoved by the ocean’s pleas for forgiveness. 

Stubbornly, the boy stood motionless-although his presence was starting to wane. I couldn’t help but wonder why he was so angry at the sea? And as the thought lingered in my mind—it seemed to float out there—and it was answered almost immediately.

The sea was relentless in its pursuit—what once begged forgiveness now demanded to be reckoned with.  The boy shrieked out from his soul and the sea waves started to pound on the shore. 


His shoulders slumped and slowly the sea made its way to where he stood.


The ocean unleashed and his form was swallowed up in one strike.  In an instant, the boy was no more. 


The sea settled; the waters dark.  The air still carried a chill.  Another autumn slipping past to make way for a brutal winter.

Jane barreled up the highway—if that is what you would call it. The road was definitely there—but it was continually being washed over by the sands that constantly blew across its path.  The desert was brutal like that.  The strong rays of the sun didn’t help either, her not quite dark enough sun glasses would have to do, although she had a few opinions about the smart-ass that labeled them “standard issue desert eyegear”.  Apparently they had never been out in the desert, in the middle of the day, having their corneas seared from the glare of the sun bouncing off the sand. If she ever found out who the smart-ass was, she would be sure to have a few polite words.

ConvoyDespite having too much windshield time to think about these less than trivial things, she knew she had an important mission—leading the caravan of trucks that brought logistical supplies to the the men in the field.  In essence, she led the lifeline that kept these men going in this god-forsaken war.  Not that she was against the war—she was thrilled when her country called upon her that she could be there.  She just wanted to be on the front lines, not behind the steering wheel of a day cab hauling much needed supplies and whatever else one could think of. Yet here she was, and what she did mattered. 

Within minutes, she could see the next stop insight.  She pulled out her binoculars to make sure she could identify them, then she radioed back to the rest of her caravan that they were on approach.  As she pulled into stop, she was greeted by some of the uniform’s hardest and finest working soldiers in the field.  Knowing they were desperate to eat the fresh MRE’s on board, so she wasted no time organizing the efforts to unload.  In the most orderly fashion, the supplies for this stop came off the truck a little quicker than they went on.  Her orders were to refuel, and stay there for the night, moving on to the next stop at 07:00 in the morning. 

Setting up camp did not take long.  It was the desert.  You either slept in the vehicle or dug a spot in the sand.  Tonight would be cool, but she couldn’t take another second inside that truck, so she made her bed.  Knowing the boys that were regularly stationed there would take turns being on lookout…she spread out her makeshift cot and a thin standard issue blanket, got as cozy as one could in her situation and counted the stars as she drifted off to sleep.

She sat straight up.  Nothing quite wakes a woman up out of a sound desert floor sleep, like a bunch of men running around, shouting back and forth as they are taking on fire.  Jane reached for her weapon, at the ready, she shouted out to the rifleman closest to her, but he motioned her to stay down and out of sight.  Damn.  All she really wanted was to be a part of the action.  Laying in wait, was not her style.  They took on heavy fire—and she could see off to her left that one of the men had been hit.  Also being trained as a medic—she shouted back to that rifleman that she would bring supplies over to help him out. He somehow signaled the okay, and Jane ran to the back of her truck, grabbed a bunch of medical supplies and then made her way over to the injured soldier.

First she pulled him to a lower lying area, and looked at his wounds.  He was hit in the stomach and the leg.  While the leg injury could be contained, there was no way for her to know if that bullet to the stomach hit any organs or was causing any internal bleeding.  She did what she could with his leg and put some firm pressure on his abdomen.  He was with her every step of the way—and she knew he was fighting, not giving up.  A great sign.  Then they called her over another direction.  Another soldier had been hit.  This time she arrived to see the bullet firmly lodged in his skull and there was nothing she could do for him, but close his eyes and say a prayer. 

She realized she was in harms way. Being dark, she had no idea if she was taking on friendly fire or enemy fire.  She kept low, weapon by her side and raced over toward an ATV.  She paused by the passenger front wheel, realizing this was shielding her from some of the bullets whizzing by her head—but also putting her life in danger, as one strike to the gas tank, would undoubtedly blow her up along with the ATV.  An uneasy feeling—but for now she was safe.   A few soldiers, made their way over to the ATV.  Told her to get inside and stay low.  The commander took the wheel, two men in the back pointing forward shooting at an unseen enemy.  Jane in the front passenger seat, leaning over toward the center trying to stay low.  She wanted to sit up and fire her weapon—but noooo—the commander wanted to keep her safe.  What the hell? She thought. She knew her job was important—driving the lead truck on the supply caravan—but come on already.  She could fire her weapon just as well as any man.  Highly skilled, well trained—but the commander had no idea about her skills as she was part of the supply team and he was going to keep her safe.  Damn it!! This is why she joined the Army…she wanted in on the action.  It didn’t quite seem fair.  But she wasn’t about to disobey now. 

From what she could tell, they were advancing and the enemy was retreating.  Then the firing seemed to come to a halt.  A sigh of relief over came the four in the ATV, and only when she sat up did she see they were following a line of tanks.  No wonder the firing stopped she thought to herself, the bad boys were just ahead of them demolishing the enemy line. But they kept advancing, ever so slowly, something she was sure that would make the enemy regret their advances in the first place.

The first bullet sounded surreal—as it penetrated the sharp shooter sitting directly behind her.  She quickly glanced at her passenger mirror and realized they were being flanked from behind.  “Enemy approaching from behind Sir!” she shouted as the commander’s hand pushed her head down and out of the way once again.  He radioed to gather support to fight the enemy taking up the rear, and the uninjured sharp shooter went to work-defending their position.  The second bullet took out their communications and shattered their radio, spraying shrapnel everywhere. Feeling the hit from that blow, she turned her head toward the back seat, and came face to face with the injured sharp shooter.  Realizing his wound was not a life threatening wound, she quickly grabbed his shirt, tore it off and tied it the best she could around his shoulder to put pressure on the bleeding. 

“You’re going to live,” she tried to reassure him. 

“So are you,” his voice was calm and even.

What the heck was he thinking?  Of course she was going to live.  Was he making a statement because she was a woman or because he thought he was infallible? She didn’t rightly care.  How dare he tell her she was going to live—she already knew that.  Just as the thought crossed her mind, she felt her face flush and her head began to swell, and she didn’t like the feeling overcoming her—then she seen the blood dripping from somewhere all over her standard issue sleeve.  Had she been shot?  Before she could answer herself, the lights dimmed out.

Jane woke a few hours or so later in the medical tent.  She felt the burning of the antiseptic as it seared the wound on her face, and then she realized a medic was giving her stitches.  Carefully moving from one section to the next, the medic pulled out the shrapnel that had embedded itself in her skin, poured on the burning antiseptic and stitched some more.  Jane was convinced this line of torture would resurrect the deadest of the dead.  Damn… that stuff was strong.

“Ah you’re awake” the medic said smiling.

“Where am I?”  Jane inquired.

“Medical Tent”.  He answered.

“What happened?” Still a bit groggy.

“Why don’t you tell me?” the medic asked.

“Well—that would be hard, seeing that I don’t remember anything since I passed out.” She said a bit sarcastically.

That got the medic to laugh at her, “I can see you’re a bit feisty Jane. Definitely a good sign.”

A voice came in from behind her, “They hit our radio.  The blast caused the shrapnel to fly everywhere.” he walked around and she noticed the sling on his shoulder. “Unfortunately, some of it got embedded in your face. And as far as faces go—they like to bleed a lot.”

She looked down at her shirt— Yeah, it was going to take some effort to get all that blood out of her shirt.

“Yes,” replied the medic, “And I have the painstaking task of making sure we remove it all and get you stitched up.  You’re due out at 07:00 and that doesn’t leave much time.”

GIJaneShe swallowed. A battle scar. She never thought she would see action driving a supply truck.  Damn.  She had not realized she had been hit at the time it happened.  She wondered how they made it out of there.  Then she remembered, she had not even shot her weapon.  This just about infuriated Jane.  It was her first time being in the middle of enemy fired and she was pretty sure it wouldn’t be her last.  Still the commander insisted on keeping her safe. Oh how she’d like to have a few words with that man.

About a half hour later, the medic finished up a few last stitches.  27 in all.  He brought over a mirror and she had a hard look at her self. 

Her once pretty face—now had a nice scar in the shape of the letter J.  Fitting, she thought.  She tried to smile—and winced a little from the pain.  Maybe later she could look at herself again, as she lay the mirror down, she quickly admitted that the Commander knew what he was doing.   “I have a job to do,” she felt the determination to do her duty rise up from within.  She got up, thanked the medic.  Then she shook the sharp shooter’s hand—wished him well.  She recovered her weapon and made her way back to the truck.  She had orders to move on to her next stop so she fired up the truck and led her convoy on down the sand covered highway. 

After careful consideration and a few glances at herself in the rearview mirror, she decided there was still time to use her rifle.  She’d been in the desert 3 months and had 12  to go and she already had a battle scar.  So Cool.  The stories she’ll get to share one day. She went for a weak smile…and put on her sun glasses.  “It’s going to be another scorcher.”

**THIS was a fictional story written for the GBE2 prompt to “give Jane a better story”.  In a nutshell, the real Jane got 27 stitches from exhaustion and dehydration from the tail end of a respiratory infection—and when she went to enjoy a glass of wine and email some friends—she found her self waking up to a broken wine glass in hand and blood trickling down her face. (Ouch).  So it was up to us this week, to have a little creativity in our writing, and come up with a better story on how Jane got her scar.  This was my contribution. I will say I am no military expert. I know I probably goofed a lot of the military terminology up—but use your imaginations and go with it.  I hope you could see through any of the mistakes and just enjoy the story!!**