Writing 101 Day Five A Red Letter Day

Day Five: Be Brief

Today’s Prompt: You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter. Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.

Pearl walked on, hating her mother and her miserable life. Rev. Arthur would be waiting. Wind compounded the morning chill. Trudging along, a crumpled envelope danced by. She chased and caught it. Why? What did she want with a soggy letter? Noticing it was half opened, curiosity overcame her. Who could it hurt? The red ink was smeared. What she deciphered made her queasy.

Dear H,

My time grows short…

Indebted to your sacrifice…

Served my church… Love always, “A.”

Struggling to digest the contents of the letter, her cell rang. Hester blinked on the screen.  Pearl dropped the phone.

The Transporter | The Daily Post

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Transporter.”

Today, instead of doing what I “should” be doing, (as a little voice reminds me of the saying, “don’t should on me”) I went to the Daily Post and hit the writing prompt randomizer. It instructed me  as follows, “Tell us about a sensation — a taste, a smell, a piece of music — that transports you back to childhood.”  I used to wonder about my father, who says he remembers little of his childhood.  I’d plead for stories about when he was younger, and received some from my Uncle, but not much of anything from my father.  Now, I understand this better because I do not have an abundance of childhood memories. Many of my more profound memories, of music, sights and sounds, come from teenage years.

Now that I’ve said that, I do have memories of  my parents driving my brother and me around at Christmas time to look at the different neighborhoods and see how families decorated. The colors were vivid, the mood was festive and the excitement and anticipation were palpable to me as we drove. Even in the dark, there were these tiny beacons that stood up to what as a child was a sense of foreboding, especially when things are cold and dark.  One house was prettier than the next. If the moon was out, so much the better. The lights mirrored the night sky. The dark and light, reflecting back to us the things we prize about our lives, each a little twinkle that can shine or be snuffed out by the things we do that we would rather bury in the dark. I’m sure my parents had no idea the lasting effects these annual drives, from my earliest memories have informed my life, my livelihood and existence.

My Grandmother, divorced from her Catholic roots, (She loved to tell the story of coming home from parochial school and telling her father that if the Nuns hit her one more time she would quit school.- They did and she did, going to work as a waitress at a very young age.) did not celebrate holidays, except Thanksgiving with much fanfare.  But she would string tiny white lights across the living room, and if she decided to have one, the tree.

Religion was complicated in my growing up family, but the sense of wonder, awe and mystery heralded by the lights is something that still excites and is rarely tiresome. I decorate our house with outside lights most of the year.  It is a calling of some sort. I imagine it is the power of the tradition, as well as the symbolism of light that invoke this need I have to light the darkness.

I light it because in my heart I am preserving that sense of wonder, giving it honor and connection. It is about entering into mystery and ritual and creation through the beauty of the lights.  It is a continuation of the ritual. It is hope that was kindled in the lights of my childhood and the affirmation that even when the way appears lost, there is a light somewhere, leading me on.


Grateful Reminder

A topic suggested in somewhere in the blogging 101 commons is “on my wall.” I’m in and I’m intrigued. I read a couple of my fellow bloggers posts and feel even more interested.  For example, The Little Novice (https://thelittlenovice.wordpress.com/) wrote a lovely one that notices lights, among other observations made in the post.

I got to thinking, what is “on my wall?” There are family pictures and lots of framed embroidery samplers many of them created by a woman who does primitive folk art work. There are pictures on my wall given to me by a dear friend, there are angels because I have collected them/they have been given to me since one of my first jobs.

But one thing that I often try to stand near hangs almost hidden in a corner of our kitchen. It has hung in nearly every place we have lived for a very long time. It was a “gift” to me because really, I was not supposed to have it.  It belonged to my sister-in-law who was sadly killed in an automobile accident when she was in her early thirties. Honestly, I don’t know how we came to have it.  It is one of the things I prize highly.

I’ve tried to attach a link to a picture at the end of the post. It is written in what I believe is Arabic. The letters are brass with a blue background and I have framed it in blue with a white mat. I thought it might be a saying, but I cannot find it explained as such. I only know the translation because it was written in pencil on the cardboard backing of the letters. It reads, “You have many gifts which you must remember.”

When my sister in law died, it became mine, I think because I was drawn to it, even though I did not know -right away- what it said. I don’t know if anyone in my family has paid it much mind, but it informs me in many ways. It reminds me to be grateful more and to whine less. It informs my world view, and I hope many of my days. It helps me remember stories, loved ones and special events. The death of my sister-in-law caused my husband and me to affirm our lives by having a child. I believe the words for many reasons, not the least of which is this. Her death really gave us the courage to start our family. Life was humming along and I don’t think we would have our oldest child had she not died.

I like to think she knows that, her spirit guiding and watching over us. She died overseas and we did not get to say goodbye to her. Her unexpected gift is something I cherish. She is a gift I remember, and offer a silent prayer of thanks to, when I see the words on my wall.