Thursday, December 31, 2015

Prompt: "A clear conscience makes a soft pillow."

They say that a clear conscience makes a soft pillow. Truer words have never been spoken. I realize this as I sit strapped to the electric chair. Having finally admitted all my sins and crimes, last night was the best night's sleep I've had in 25 years. Why they made me suffer and wait so long to finally be free of myself I will never understand. Perhaps I deserved it for what I did. Perhaps I didn't. Either way it no longer matters. Within another ten minutes my life will be over.

I wish I could take back all the things that I have done and make things right again. I can wish that all I want and never be able to do it. All I can do is hope that the families whose lives I ruined will some day be able to find it in their hearts to forgive me for what I did to them. Forgiving isn't something most people do very well and I suppose that's okay too as long as they can live with that hatred toward me.

I'm the lucky one I guess. Soon I will no longer have to suffer the guilt of what I did. The families will still be here hating me for what I did to them, still suffering. May they find peace one day so that they can sleep as well as I did last night.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

PROMPT: He who hesitates is lost.

Fear of caseyR

Joann looked down at the crystal blue lake, its slight waves almost lulling her into a trance from the dock. "Come on squirt. Just jump on it. You'll be fine. We all jumped in. You watched us. Now come on or you can go back to the house."

Joann's sister was older than her by 5 years making her think she could boss Joann around any time. Amber had just turned 13 three weeks ago. The whole "I am now a teen" thing went right to Amber's head and she had been nearly unbearable to be around. 

"Quit calling me squirt." Joann objected. "You know I don't like being called that. Why do you have to be so mean to me?"

"Just jump then. Sheesh." Amber chided. 

"Stop being a baby, Joann," came the voice of Eric, Amber's newest boyfriend. He was on the football team, which automatically put Amber in with the popular kids. Funny how that worked. Eric was also on the swim team. This meant that should anything happen to Joann when she jumped in, he would be strong enough to help her back to shore if need be. Joann knew this but still hesitated.

"Let's just leave her behind," called out Maryann. One of Amber's newest popular friends. She was head football cheerleader. Apparently that means she is important for some strange reason. She was the typical looking cheerleader with her blonde hair up in a pony tail that swung side to side when she walked. She liked to flip that pony tail anytime she was annoyed or thought she was better than anyone else. She tried to do that now but her drenched locks wouldn't allow much of a swing. 

Amber splashes water up at Joann. "Come on. There's nothing to be afraid of. We are all here to help you learn to swim if you need the help. The best thing to do is to just jump in and go from there. We won't let anything happen to you. Now either jump or go back to the house."

Joann trembled on the wooden deck, unsure of why she was so scared. "I can't do it Amber. I'm too scared."

"Then just go back to the house baby sister. We are swimming out to the island.

Joann loved the island. Dad used to take her out on the row boat every summer. Dad had set up a nice picnic area in the clearing in the center of the island. It was so peaceful there. She had even seen deer there before. How they got there, Joann had no idea. She didn't care though as long as she got to see them. Mom had decorated the picnic area with flowers, making it more of a garden than picnic area. Mom loved her flowers. Joann could remember all the vibrant purples, reds, and yellows. It was stunning. It was her favorite place to go. 

Joann turned to head back to the house with a sigh. She really wanted to get out to the island and see how many of mom's flowers are still in bloom. She turned back around and stared down the lake. She was going to do it. She wasn't a baby any more. She was 8 years old and should have learned to swim before this since they lived on a lake. 

She stepped closer to the edge of the dock, took in a deep breath, and jumped. The warm water engulfed her as she hit the water. A few seconds later, she surfaced like a fishing bobber. Her arms flailed and her legs kicked as she tried to keep herself afloat. She remembered dad saying something about a doggy paddle. She needed to remember what to do. She kicked her legs and started moving her arms under the water, pulling water back toward her, almost like digging in dirt.

She bobbed under the water a few inches and bobbed back up again. Water filled her mouth as she yelled for Amber. She coughed and sputtered. Panic took over as she kicked and splashed trying to yell to her sister again. She tried to calm herself but couldn't. She was going to die just like mom did last summer. Her arms stopped flailing. Her legs stopped kicking.

She felt a hand on her arm. She weakly opened her eyes to see her mother under the water with her. Her mom took her by the arms and pulled Joann onto her back lifting her above the water. With ease her mom carried her across the water to the island. She left Joann lying on the shoreline.

Amber and the rest of them ran to the shore seeing Joann was not moving. Eric dropped down to his knees and turned Joann over to back. He started mouth to mouth to revive her, his CPR classes finally paying off. After a minute, Joann starts to cough and sputter. Her eyes flutter open. Amber smiled down at her through her tears.

"Did I make it to the island?" Joann choked out.

"Yes, squirt, you did." Amber said.

Eric and Amber helped Joann up. She was a little unsteady so they helped her to the picnic area and sat her down on a blanket next to the fire they had going. Amber grabbed another blanket from the ground and wrapped it around Joann.

"I saw mom. She brought me here. She saved my life." Joann whispered into Amber's ear.

Amber looked at her sister in disbelief. "Mom's dead, Joann. You couldn't have seen her."

"But I did Amber. She brought me here. Carried me on her back all the way. She asked me to tell you that she likes Eric and to stop picking on me all the time. She also said to stop smoking, it isn't good for your health. Amber, why would mom tell you to stop smoking when you don't smoke?"

Amber stumbled backwards in shock at those last words. "You really saw mom?" Amber sat down next to her sister and wrapped an arm around her.

"Yes. Just as beautiful as she ever was. She saved me from dying just like she did, Amber. She wanted to me live. She told me I have something special to give the world yet and it wasn't my time to die. She said I shouldn't have hesitated when you wanted to help me. Had I accepted your help, I would not have almost died." Tears started flowing from her eyes and down her cheek. "I'm sorry I hesitated, Amber."

Amber sighed. "I'm just glad you are okay now, Joann. I will do my best not to pick on you any more. It is just so much fun at times." Amber snickered and Joann joined in. Next they knew they were laughing like fools and didn't remember why. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Foggy Morning

Morning fog in Kakerdaja bog. Estonia.

The lake looked serene and somewhat eerie this morning. The fog gave the scenery a muted look as if looking through dirty windows. The leaves had mostly all fallen off the trees leaving a few stragglers behind showing their dead yellow. Many of the pines had fallen to some kind of disease over the past few years. Only a few of the pines are left leaving the shore line looking as though it was covered in skeletons waiting to grab you the moment you stepped out of your boat.

This was the first time Gordon had taken the boat out since the accident a couple Autumns ago. He and Jewels were out on the lake trying to catch well, anything. The lake used to be so full of life that your line would barely have time to hit the water and you would have a nice carp on your line. Only thing Gordon and Jewels caught that day were colds. Jewels cold turned to a life-threatening pneumonia that she never did recover from. 

The reason Jewels cold was so much worse was because of the accident. She'd cast her line out like usual and almost immediately had something tugging on it. Whatever it was, it was huge. She couldn't handle it on her own. Gordon had rushed over to help her reel this beast in. His help was nearly unnoticeable. They formed a rhythm with the creature. Gordon and Jewels would give a good pull from there end, reeling like mad trying to get the beast to the boat at least. It would then be the beast's turn. It would pull twice what they had pulled. No matter how hard they tried they couldn't keep the beast from pulling away further and further. Yet, they refused to give up.

After about 15 minutes the thing started slowing down making it just a little easier for them to reel the beast in. They would pull and reel; the beast would slowly pull away from them about half what they had pulled it in. They were making progress but  not much it seemed. They reeled and pulled and pulled and reeled, both getting exhausted from the strenuous work this beast was causing. After about an hour, Jewels, too exhausted to do any more, let go of her rod and drooped slowly into the murky water.

"Jewels" Gordon screamed as she took the plunge. He tried to grab hold of her coat to keep her from falling but it didn't work so well with only one hand. Under the murky water she went as if she had just fallen asleep and slowly crumpled until she hit the water. "Jewels" Gordon shouts again.

The pull on the rod slackens. Gordon lets go and plunges into the cold water after Jewels. The water seemed much clearer from below the surface that it did from above it. Gordon frantically looks around, searching for Jewels.

"If you lie down with dogs, you'll end up with fleas."

"If you lie down with dogs, you'll end up with fleas."

What does that mean anyway. I'm sure it isn't literal, even though it can be. The only thing I can come up with is that if you make friends with bad people you will end up like them. Google confirmed. So here goes:

"Martin, ya never treated me like that before, what's gotten into ya." Martha cries out to him from the floor.

Martin kicks her in the ribs. The air escapes Martha's lungs quickly. "That's none of your business woman. Now shut your yap before I have to hurt ya more."

Martha knows what got into him. It's those men he's been hanging with. All they do is drink, fight, steal and beat up their helpless woman. Oh and let's not forget that they lay with the Ladies at the saloon as well. Lord knows what all kind of bugs Martin has picked up from them. Martha shivers just thinking about it.

"Martin, " she says barely audible. "Please find different people for friends. These current ones ain't nothing but trouble and you know it. Please, Martin, I love you but I cannot take much more of living like this.  I cannot...."

"Woman I told you to hush that mouth of yours."  With as much force as possible, Martin kicks Martha in the head bashing it against the end bed post where she'd been lying on the floor.

Martin sees blood coming out from under Martha's head. "Lord, what have I done." He gets down on his knees next to Martha and lifts her head into his lap. "Noooo. Martha I am so sorry. I never meant for anything like this to happen. Please Lord," he prays "please don't let her die. I will change my ways. That's my promise to you and to Martha both. Please Lord hear my pleas.

Martha's eyes flutter gently like a butterfly.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Germ Specialist

Marvin decided to take a visit to his old high school yesterday. So much had changed he didn't even recognize it. The entire inside had been remodeled to be more modernized looking than something from the 1950's.
Everything was arched. There must have been about 200 arches just around the halls on each floor. Each of those arches contained metal fencing to keep people from falling off onto the floor below. Ever the doors to the class rooms were arched. Someone went arch crazy here. He was surprised there weren't arches over the stairs as well.
Marvin felt like a fish out of water, until someone bumped into him on purpose knocking his briefcase out of his hand and spilling its contents out all over the highly polished floor. As he bent down to pick up his papers, someone chuckled. He looked up to see his old high school bully Johnathan Tomas standing glowering down at him.
“He buddy let me help you pick those up.” Johnathan said as he bent down to assist with collecting the papers. “Sorry about that. I had to do it for old time's sake. Sorry about all that bullying I put you through in school. I never realized just how much it can affect a person til I started being a teacher. Kids can be so cruel to each other.”
Marvin smiled surprised at Johnathan's help. “Thank you and yes it can have a lasting affect on someone.” He stood up shoving papers back into his brief case. Johnathan stood up holding out the papers he had collected and Marvin shoves those into the case as well.
Johnathan extended a hand to Marvin. “So what brings you back to old Hempshire High School today, Marvin the Martian?” Johnathan chuckled. “Sorry had to just once. I hope you don't mind.”
“No I don't mind at all,” spit out Marvin through clenched teeth. He takes Johnathan's hand and shakes it.
“So what do you do for a career, Marvin?” Johnathan asked as he started leading him around the school.
“Oh, I am a scientist. I work with germs.” Marvin grins proud of his accomplishments.
Johnathan lets out a hearty laugh and slaps Marvin on the back. “You always were a very big nerd. That's one reason you got picked on so much when we were kids. “Oh here take a look at this. This is the cafeteria. Looks more like a college set up doesn't it. There are so many choices and the entire floor is open. The kids love that they can choose what they have to eat. It really is a great set up. Are you hungry? Would you like something to eat?
“Thank you, Johnathan, but I am good. I ate before I came thank you.” Marvin took in all the new cafeteria sights and smells. One smell reached out to him and he wanted some of it. Pizza. It smelled divine. Yet, he could not afford to take his hands out of his pockets at this time. So the pizza would have to wait.
Johnathan showed him the new gym, complete with a new Olympic sized swimming pool and new basket ball courts. Outside was a soccer field and several tennis courts along with the track and football field.
Marvin had the priveledge of seeing Johnathan's new office as well. It is here that he took his hands out of his pockets finally. “I want to thank you for the wonderful tour.” He extended his hand to Johnathan, who took it.
Johnathan's curiousity got the better of him. “I noticed that after we picked up your papers, you never took your hands out of your pockets. Was there a reason for that?”
Marvin grins. “Absolutely. I am a germ specialist remember.”
“So you were trying not to get any germs on your hands?”
“Oh no not at all. I'm not afraid of any of the germs I could get here. The one you have to worry about is a special germ that I created myself. I named it Johnathan just for you. No one knows that I made it. There is no cure. In the end, you will die.”
Johnathan stared at Marvin in disbelief. “You mean to tell me that you just gave me some kind of germ that only you know about because you created it? What a bunch of bull pucky.”
“Well, if that's what you want to think, go ahead but I would start watching for syptoms if I were you. They should start in a couple hours.”
“What are the syptoms, Marvin? Please tell me.”
“Now that would spoil the surprise now wouldn't it ol' buddy, Johnathan?” Marvin grins clear to his eyes and nods at Johnathan. “Have a nice day Johnathan.” Before closing the door, Marvin looks back at Johnathan who now looks incredibly worried and perplexed. Marvin chuckled to himself and shut the door.
Marvin ditches the brief case full of papers in the first waste can he comes to. All just part of the prank. Johnathan fell for it hook, line, and sinker. After all the teasing Johnathan put Marvin through, it was time for him to have his.
Marvin enters the cafeteria, orders two slices of pizza and a mountain dew. He finds a seat next to a large window so he can sit and watch the bird outside playing. As he takes a bite of his pizza, he wonders just how long it will take Johnathan to realize he'd been scammed. Marvin works as a custodian at the school for seven years now and not once did Johnathan even notice him. Now he will never forget him. Will he realize it is a prank or spend the rest of his life thinking every little itch, bug bite or sniffle is something from the germ that Marvin the germ scientist created just for him.

He Sees You When You're Sleeping

He Sees You When You're Sleeping

He comes out at night
and gets into your head.
He sees you when you're sleeping
in your safe, comfy bed.

Cover your head
don't you dare peek
close your eyes tight
no matter what you seek.

If you hear a noise
don't make a peep
don't even move
pretend you're asleep.

It isn't Santa,
that fat, jolly elf
with lots of toys
to put on your shelf.

He's dark and he's ugly
full of worms and of slugs.
He eats small rodents
and all little bugs.

He scurries around
all through the night
just to see you
such a beautiful sight.

Your childish spirit
is what this one seeks
so stay under those covers
and don't you dare freak.

He craves the fear
of good boys and girls
their spirits he takes
in smoke-like swirls.

When your spirit is gone
and belongs to him
he hangs your body
out on a limb.

Everyone knows then
that you were bad
your family and friends
will surely be sad.

For now you belong
to He who is watching
from under your bed
when sleep you should be snatching.

(c) Teresa Brown/Ananda Crystal 12/23/15

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sometimes the best intentions often go unnoticed.

She wondered how long it would take her kids to notice the gifts under the tree. They are older now and not so inclined to get excited about Christmas. She guessed she wasn't as excited about it herself. The tree was white with blue decorations. A request from her daughter. The tree looked great. Her son did nothing but grumble about having to have decorations at all. She just couldn't win.

Her son was away for college more often than not and that was quite alright with her as he had a tendency to be incredibly negative and grumpy most of the time. Some days it would be better for her if he wasn't at the house.

Trying to find a way to be positive with that much negativity going around makes it very draining on her. He daughter didn't help much either. She seemed to be either grouchy or bitchy and some times both. I've heard that's normal for a 15 year old these days. Had she down or said half what her daughter has when she was growing up, she'd have been backhanded and paddled. Now it is the normal for the kids to act this way? Something doesn't seem right with that picture.

She sat near the Christmas tree thinking back over the years and how when the kids were younger they seemed to appreciate her more. They didn't really say it when they were younger but they showed it. Now it seemed like sometimes the best of intentions went unnoticed by her kids. They didn't appreciate anything she did. Honestly, it seemed they felt they were obligated to get whatever I gave them and then some.

It was very frustrating for her. Her heart would cry silently tonight, like every night, after hearing her son complain about everything and her daughter giving her attitude with a magnitude of a 7.0 on a Richter scale.

Her only wish this Christmas was that they would know how much she loves them and that she is sorry she hasn't been the best mother in the world but she's done what she can with what she's had. She may not have always made the best choices but she always tried to fix them and think of her kids. It wasn't always easy. So many times she just wanted to walk away and not look back it got so bad. But she loved them and she stayed to be put through more torment.

Love will make you do crazy things some times. Like stick around and keep trying no matter what life throws at you.

Sometimes the best of intentions often go unnoticed. Pay attention today and appreciate even the smallest thing that someone does for you. It could mean the difference between going to bed wanting to die and going to bed excited for a new day to come.
It's been quite some time since I posted here and thought it would be a great day to start again. Here is a short story I wrote this morning using the words tea, Christmas and green as a prompt. Hope you like it. 

The Green Afghan

Winter came early in Northern Maine. Especially in the mountains where Nina lived. She'd already been snowed in for a week and predicted at least 2 more weeks. She didn't mind though. She was all stocked up and ready for anything. She'd lived up here on the hill long enough to know what to do and what she needed to make it through the winter – 70 years now to be exact.

She sat by the fire with a green afghan that she crocheted wrapped around her shoulders like a shawl as she sipped her peppermint tea. She watched the fire crackle in the fireplace glad that it would be yet again another white Christmas up on Hutchison Hill. That's what the locals called it because Nina's family had lived here for several generations now. Nina was the last of the Hutchinson's, having never married nor had any children. 

She often wondered what was going to happen to the place when she passes from this world. She's talk to her lawyer several times about what to do with the place. The best idea so far is to turn it into a Writer's Retreat. Nina loved this idea because she loved to write. She wrote something every day no matter how nonsensical it might be. She wrote no matter how short or long her writing. As long as she could still write, she would write.

She glanced over at the Christmas tree that she herself cut down and dragged back to the house. It was a beauty. Dad had taught her how to pick the best trees and she remembered every word. “You want one just the right height so you don't have to cut any off and so you don't have to shove the top through the roof.” Nina had always giggled at that one. “Make sure the branches are uniform so they make a nice shape. You want a girl with a bi g middle and even bigger behind.” He always made her laugh. “She has to be plump in the middle. Not one of those barbie doll types with the skinny waist and no ass.” So that was what she found and brought home. It was perfect. Dad would be proud.

Her sparse decorations brought her even more pleasure. They were all of various shades of purple; her favorite color. All different shapes and sizes. Some were shapes like angels, some like doves and others just regular Christmas balls. She set the purple off nicely with just a few silver balls and some silver garland. The tree was beautiful.

All this wonderful beauty around and she had no one to share it with. Nina sat her chair with the green afghan wrapped around her shoulders like a shawl. Her tea now cold and sitting on the side table beside her. The fire long burned out, the house was bitter cold. The Christmas tree sadly drooping from lack of water, bulbs falling to the floor and smashing.

It would be another two months before anyone found her lifeless body still sitting there with that green afghan, her eyes fixed on her tree. She passed among things she loved and family that came to help her cross over. She was more than glad to go. She'd seen enough of the bullshit of this world and was glad to be gone from it. The only thing she was going to miss was that green afghan to keep her shoulders and arms warms. She wouldn't need it any more but it was her favorite and was always there for her when she needed a warm hug.

She passed from congestive heart failure, the paramedics said but everyone in town knew that what she really passed from was a lonely and empty heart.