Posted in Storytime

“The Spot”

The wind whipped through the open car windows as I sped up the car. The rusted stoplight was the only thing between me and the park and for once, it was actually green. As I pulled into the lot and threw the car into park. I sat for a few moments in silence, listening. Under the rumble of the engine, I heard kids near the jungle gym yelling and laughing, skateboards thumping over the sidewalk cracks, car doors slamming, and drones buzzing in the air.

Even though it was lively, it wasn’t anything but an ordinary park with a jungle gym, a baseball field, and soccer fields scattered about. For a Monday night, it was pretty packed though. Most likely due to the hint of a long overdue spring day in the air.

I turned the engine off, got out of the car, and began my short little walk to “the spot”. “The spot” being the end of a rickety bleacher on the farthest baseball field. It’s nestled along the edge of the trees and brush that separated the park from the golf course. It must have been my lucky day for when I rounded the corner, “the spot” was clear of the bustling crowds.

The bleacher creaked as I climbed to the top row and plopped down, letting my feet dangle beneath me. I craned my neck back to the sky and closed my eyes. Letting the warmth of the evening sun spill over me.

I remembered the first time I found “the spot”. I was in middle school and just had a fight with my parents and I needed to cool down a bit. I jumped on my bike and made my way through the winding bike paths at max speed. Letting the anger course through my blood and pour into my feet as they furiously peddled the bike forward. I went as far as the path would let me and right at the end of it was the old bleacher at the last baseball field.

The path unceremoniously cut off right before the brush and I came to a screeching halt. I tossed my bike into the grass, huffing and puffing until I calmed down enough to sit down on the bleachers. When I leaned back and looked towards the sky, the sun peaked out from under a cloud and the sun’s rays filled my eyes. I closed them and felt the rush of warmth across my already heated face, but yet it felt so soothing.

The anger used to boil inside of me like a pot on the stove, and with just one wrong move, I would erupt. It used to be the way I dealt with the world when I felt it collapsing in on me. My mind tended to swallow me up in the thoughts of imperfections, germs, and not living up to the expectations put upon me. In my mind, I lived in a world that I had no place in. A square peg in a round hole.

I always compared my soul to that of a hot air balloon. How rare they fly across the sky these days, but it always seemed to fit. The hot air is produced by the flame and collected in the balloon which makes it push upwards towards the sky. The warm air trying desperately to escape from the constraints of the fabric, but never does. That’s like my soul, trapped in a body with nowhere to go. I can feel it pushing and shoving inside of me in desperation until all I can do is scream.

But in that spot. On that little rusted bench, leaning back into the sunlight. I no longer feel the struggle of being trapped in a body and world that doesn’t understand that my imperfect soul is the pearl of my being. That I do not pretend to be perfect, but try my best to do right. That I am kind by nature, but refuse to walk on eggshells for those who do not understand the reality of being a human being. That I am happy, but sometimes have those moments of sadness.

The sun’s ray’s melt into my skin and comfort the agitated ambiance inside. Like a little reminder that happiness can be hard to find sometimes, but is always there, lying in the crevasses of life. Like the sun on your face, the smell of fresh air, the soft rustle of trees in the breeze, the taste of crisp, cold water, and watching a child score their very first soccer goal.

Those little moments while sitting in “the spot” always brought me back and reminded me that the goal of life is not to become happy, but to choose to be happy. Even if the only source of your happiness that day is the rusted old stoplight was, for once, green upon your arrival and your favorite spot was open. Happiness is a choice. So pull out that saw and hammer and start building that square hole for your square peg soul, because the world isn’t going to do it for you.

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Posted in Storytime

The Space In-Between: A Historical Short Story

*Note from the author: Hello! Thank you for your support of my writings. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgot about you. I haven’t posted in a while because I am currently working on my first novel and I am excited to share it with all of you! Okay, now to the story:*

 

The sound of screeching little metal wheels echoed through the house. The soft padding of little feet followed along with sporadic vrooms and pews. Daniel steered his little tin spaceship into the kitchen where his mother was hastily whisking eggs over a hot pan. His father paid little attention to the distraction as his eyes were glued to the morning headlines of January 28th, 1967 inked into the flimsy paper.

A hissing sound filled the kitchen as Mother poured the eggs out onto the pan. As if she was just thrown a hot potato, she flinched and frantically turned down the heat to the boiling pot of water next to the bubbling eggs.

Daniel blasted the little tin spacecraft into the air and did a “fly-by” of the stove. Before it could even reach its final destination of being tangled up in the phone cord, Mother snatched it from his hands and slammed it onto the counter next to her.

Without saying a single word, she glared at Daniel who quickly sprinted to his spot at the table next to his father. Mother let out a heavy sigh before pulling the tin of coffee out of the top cupboard and scooping it into the metal holder. She placed it on top of the boiling water and quickly returned her attention to the eggs.

When she was satisfied with their look, she scooped them from the pan onto a white serving platter. The one with the pink flowers that circled the flat of it in a figure eight. That one was her favorite. She rarely used it, however. She only pulled it off of its place in the curio cabinet when it was a special occasion.

The day outside was hot and muggy in Cape Canaveral, Florida and Daniel didn’t see a reason that any guests would be going out in such weather to join them for breakfast. Father, anyway, spent most of his days working until the sun went down. But, Mother told Daniel that yesterday was a bad day at work and father had lost some very close friends. Daniel didn’t really understand why that would be considered a “special occasion” in his mother’s eyes.

Mother sat the platter of scrambled eggs right next to the freshly brewed pot of coffee. Father barely even flinched, his eyes still glued to the newspaper.

“Honey? Would you like me to pour you a cup of coffee?”

Humph,” he nodded his head in approval.

Mother poured the coffee until it just reached the rim of the cup. She sat the pot back on the table and took a seat in her chair.

“Daddy look!” Daniel’s arm shot out and he began to point his chubby little finger at the back of the newspaper Father was reading. But before the tip of his finger could make contact with the inky tissue, the side of his hand knocked his father’s cup of coffee and it splashed onto the white table cloth and Father’s work pants.

“Daniel!” Mother lurched back in her chair and scampered up to get a kitchen towel.

Father frantically tossed the newspaper out of his hand, sending it floating to the linoleum floor. Father’s chair scratched against the floor as he pushed it out and ran for the kitchen sink.

“Hot! Hot! HOT!” Father’s hands flailed up and down as if it would cool the steaming coffee stain dripping down his trousers.

But, Daniel wasn’t so much focused on the incident anymore. He hopped out of his chair and reached for the newspaper. The sounds of his father’s hysterical shouting and his mother’s calm mumbles faded into the background.

Daniel had seen that man before. The one with the deep brown hair, slicked to the side. The dark eyes burrowed beneath thick eyebrows. Father has introduced him as Mr. Chaffee. Roger Chaffee. Father had told Daniel that they worked together and that he was going to go to space.

Daniel was in awe when he met him, the man that would be among the stars and the planets that had fascinated Daniel so much. But Father’s voice boomed in the kitchen and it shook Daniel back into reality.

His eyes shot over to his father who was now holding his hands against his face. Father was sobbing. His body heaving up and down as he took in gasps of air every now and then.

Daniel had never seen his father cry. Never.

Mother quickly escorted Daniel out of the kitchen, guiding him by his back with her cold fingers into the living room. She turned him around and knelt down by his side,

“Daniel. Do you remember Daddy’s friend from work? Mr. Chaffee? The one that was going to space?”

Daniel nodded.

“Well, yesterday, there was an accident…” She trailed off and stared into Daniel’s little blue eyes that were filled with confusion.

She started again from a different approach, “Do you remember how I told you that Grandma Smith went to heaven a few months ago?”

Daniel gave a swift nod.

“Well, Daddy’s friend and two other people who were going to go to space are in heaven now too.”

Daniel stood, looking towards the back wall of the living room, trying to wrap his head around what his mother just told him. He eventually looked her right in the eyes and said,

“Mommy? Isn’t space where heaven is? So, they just took a different way. Right?”

Mother looked into her son’s innocent little eyes and let a small smile make its way to the corner of her lips,

“Yes, Daniel. That’s right.”

She wrapped her arms tightly around his little body in a hug as hot tears rolled down her face. Father suddenly appeared from around the kitchen doorway, after listening to the entire conversation, and wrapped his arms around Mother and Daniel. And for the first time in years, the three of them sat, crouched on the living room floor tangled in each other’s arms. The space between them being no more.

Posted in Storytime

If Life Came with Instructions: Part I

I’ve often heard the joke, “you couldn’t handle me even if I came with instructions” when referring to relationships. But while I was waiting in line at the local coffee shop, I couldn’t help but think of the phrase as being used to describe other things. For example, when it starts to rain out of nowhere even though the weather app said it wouldn’t for the whole day, I can imagine the rain as a person sitting there laughing at the fact that if weather had instructions, it would probably still rain out of nowhere.

But then I thought about life in general. What kind of person would life be like? I began to imagine Life as a sassy grandma sitting on a front porch, leaning over close to your face as she points her gangling finger at you and bellows “YOU COULDN’T HANDLE ME EVEN IF I CAME WITH INSTRUCTIONS YA LITTLE PIECE OF SH…”, you get the point.

I may not be an expert at this whole “life” thing (is anybody really), but I thought I’d share a few steps to take to live a life even Life herself would be jealous of.

Step 1: Know that the rules that follow may or may not work, the world doesn’t like to give you a heads up when it flips itself upside down (essentially, “results may vary”)

Step 2: Happiness is never going to be and never will be a singular destination. You’ve got to learn to be happy along the way and enjoy every second of life you are given in this world.

Step 3: It’s okay to not be okay. Nobody’s perfect, so it’s completely fine to say that you’re not okay and take some time to heal yourself. Our humanity can be a gift or a curse, no matter the circumstance.

Step 4: Don’t eat the yellow snow.

Step 5: When driving, there’s a little device called a “blinker” and it should be utilized at all times. Trust me. It can save you from a dent…or two.

Step 6: Follow the “Golden Rule”. Treat others the way that you would want to be treated. So basically, don’t be an a**hole.

Step 7: Karma really is a b**ch.

Step 8: If you really think about it, we are all going to die one day. So, treat every day as if it’s your last, you never know when your time on earth will come to an end.

Step 9: Never judge a book by its cover (they could be the next bestseller 😊)

Step 10: If you’ve got a crush, tell them. It’s easier to mend a broken heart from rejection than a broken/exhausted heart from months or years of waiting for the “right moment”. This one is a hard one. I know because I’ve experience it more times than I can count. But from all the heartache that I’ve had, I’ve learned that it’s easier to bounce back from someone saying “no” than never knowing and continuing on for years waiting for a miracle that isn’t going to happen.

Step 11: Enjoy being single. (For example, I’m writing this in sweatpants and eating pizza that I had delivered to my door just for myself…why?…because I can, that’s why. I also get to enjoy a giant cozy bed all by myself and I can hog all the covers I want.)

Step 12: Remember this quote:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Rob Siltanen

*mic drop*

Step Infinity: Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual or rules. All you got is what others teach in life lessons. Listen to them. It’s better than learning the hard way. Trust me.

 

To be Continued…

Posted in Storytime

You are What You Eat: A Very Short and Humorous Tale

We were sitting around the kitchen table when my Uncle Leo walked in. He grumbled a few choice words as he shuffled across the floor trying to peel the Buick’s emergency break from the palm of his hand. With a swift jab of my elbow, Henry’s snickering stopped and he covered his cheeky grin with his fan of cards. When Uncle Leo made it to the sink, he slammed his new accessory to the counter with one loud thud. It startled me so much that my cards scattered around me like confetti and Henry let out a loud screech as he tumbled to the floor in a fit of cackles.

Uncle Leo, though, seemed less than amused with the situation. He sluggishly turned his head to the side, away from the afternoon sun, and his big brown eyes practically rolled back to his brain before fixing in on Henry rolling on the ground in laughter.

I, on the other hand, was more interested in evading the pugnacious Uncle Leo before things started to get out of hand. Henry just never knows when to quit, which reminded me of my father.

Before the situation had a chance to escalate, the sound of my Grandma’s truck revving up the driveway cut through the tension in the room and momentarily distracted both guys. I hopped out of my seat and lept over Henry like a gazelle to the screen door. I was out in the yard before my Gram could put the truck in park. She didn’t even have to ask to know that Henry was up to his callous tricks again.

She sighed, “What’d that boy do now?”

“Put super glue on the emergency break in Dad’s old Buick.”

“Good grief! He should know by now to avoid all those there relics.”

Gram snatched her purse from the passenger seat, near the dog, and flung open the car door. She slammed it shut and was about to charge ahead but was comically snapped back when her zipper got caught in the door. But with one swift pull, she yanked her jacket free. Resembling a bull just released from its pen, she stamped through the grass in her heels like a drunk goose. I knew Henry wasn’t going to last the whole eight seconds it took for her to throw her ecclesiastical morals out the window and swear upon the name of the good lord.

I followed her as she stiff-armed the screen door open in front of her and entered like she was a damn Queen.

“What the hell kind of shit are you pulling, Henry,” she barked, “You know better than to go on and mess with your Uncle Sal’s stuff like that you little brat!”

“Come on, it was just a…”

“Don’t you say another word,” Gram snapped as she pointed her wiry finger at Henry, “Don’t you dare tell me that this was a joke cause that ain’t no excuse in this house no more.”

Gram’s demeanor loosened as she dropped her hand back to her side and the red rage in her eyes calmed to their original caerulean color.

“Cause your Uncle Sal said those same words before he…before he blew himself up trying to scare the shit out of your Great Aunt Maria” Gram stammered.

The room became still as my father’s untimely demise was brought up. Uncle Leo, who hadn’t moved from the sink, only paused his fiddling with the break to turn and face Gram. I looked to the ground and crossed my arms. Henry finally picked himself off the floor, giggling like he was imagining my father as Wile E. Coyote getting blown up trying to catch to the Road Runner. But unlike the cartoon wolf now covered in soot, my father was now covered in six feet of dirt.

Gram quickly shook off the solemn mood and shot Henry an unforgiving look. Her sassy stature seemed to put Henry in his place as he half-heartedly apologized to Gram, and of course to Uncle Leo too. When she was satisfied, she put her purse down and walked back to the car to retrieve my Dad’s eager Dachshund, Pickle, from the truck.

As soon as the screen door slammed, my Uncle finally turned around proudly displaying his hand which was freed from the break. Henry reluctantly sighed and reached for the emergency break my Uncle Leo was holding out before him.

Before he left, Gram opened the screen door and let the dog scurry in past her legs. Henry gave Gram a somber look as he ignored Pickle who was jumping up on his legs as her tail wagged enthusiastically.

“Look Hun, I’m sorry I yelled” Gram apologized, “Here. Take one of these.”

Gram offered Henry a piece of chocolate fudge brownies she got at the store as a peace offering. Henry snatched it from the container and popped it into his mouth as he pushed the screen door out of his way.

“What a little shit” Uncle Leo mumbled as he rubbed his sore hand.

A genuine smile crept across Gram’s face as she placed the plate on the kitchen table. She knelt to the ground to give Pickle a belly rub and didn’t even flinch when angry yelps and coughs suddenly started pouring in from the yard,

“What the hell, this tastes like salty dirt! What in God’s green earth did you give me ya old hag!”

In tandem, My Uncle Leo and I looked to Gram.

“I find it funny how your father named this cute little hot dog Pickle after you fed him a whole jar of them when you were just three years, Rae” Gram said with a tinge of nostalgia, “When your daddy yelled at you that the dog was gonna turn into a pickle cause of it, you howled in a pool of tears and pickle juice ‘til your daddy scooped you up in his arms and told you it was a joke.”

“Uh, yeah I remember that a little…but what does that have to do with Henry’s hissy fit in the front yard” I asked.

Gram looked up to reveal a sly smirk on her face, “Your father had it right with his joke about Pickle, you are what you eat. And your Uncle Leo had it right with Henry being nothin’ but a little shit so…”

My Uncle Leo hoot and hollered as he bent forward in laughter. Gram and I began to chuckle too. Even Pickle howled to join in on the collective laughter. I mean, she was the one who helped make Henry’s special fudge brownie.