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