30 01 2014

Just something I’ve been writing. Feedback would be great, thanks!

There he stood, on the porch, by the front door, his hat clutched in his right hand. Sunlight lit up behind him. His hair glowed, infused with reddish glints. Grace rose and walked to him, even though she knew her mother’s eyes were staring at the back of her head with spite and anger at the loss of motherly control.

“I know I’m not what you thought I’d be for your daughter, ma’am.” Ruffie spoke over Grace’s shoulder. “But you have my word I’ll always provide for her and love her like I do right now.”

He switched his gaze into Grace’s eyes when the indignant huff and retreating footsteps indicated disgust and reluctant acceptance from Grace’s mother.

“You know I will, don’t you Grace?” He closed the distance so that she could smell the fresh sweat and wood smoke on his skin. He leaned his face in nearer to hers. “You know that, don’t you?”

Her answer for him was a deep breath exhaled and a tiny nod. Blush rose from her neck as the giddy joy of standing so near to him flooded through her body. He raised his empty hand and touched her collarbone lightly, tracing the bone and caressing her pale skin. His fingers were rough and scratchy. The touch left behind a trail of fire that burned and swirled with something she was not yet that familiar with. Whatever it was she felt now had a life of its own, and every cell became aware of everything around it. Every bit of fabric against her skin suddenly felt raw and sharp. The sun seemed to glow even brighter. The smell of the early lilacs outside became more heady and even with this fire in her belly; she felt a slight course of nausea. She steadied herself by placing her hand on the door jamb. This ghostly urge inside of her wasn’t exactly new, but she now felt there was more to this wanting and need that seemed to haunt her body more and more. At night, alone in her room, she found she could conjure up this same feeling in a guilty way, touching her body and thinking of Ruffie. Standing there now, she blushed more, recalling her own self-ministrations of release.

“When I first saw you that day last spring, this is what I wanted to touch,” he whispered, and retraced the path of his caress. His breath echoed the cigar he smoked before he met with her. “You seemed so delicate. I never knew you were so strong. Standing there laughing with your friend. I never knew I could be something to you. I dreamed it though. I wanted it. I wanted you.”

She leaned in towards him, brazen in the late afternoon sun, there on the porch. And then she kissed him. Only their lips met in a gentle chaste touch. She felt his chapped lips against hers. This tiny kiss, this sweet and innocent gift to each other remained just so on the outside. But Grace felt as though this kiss was the most revealing she had ever let him see her. She became naked in her own wants of this fine young man in front of her. She knew he would always be hers. That she now had control over his entire being. This good and kind man would give her his heart and soul and she wanted to nurture that and care for him always. She wanted to give him back all that he gave her. And under this all, Grace was shocked to find herself wanting to tear all his clothes off and attack his body with a passion now awake, pacing and growling within her own body.

They broke the kiss and smiled at each other. Unspoken understanding was theirs already. He winked at her, and she knew that he felt this passion too, and she also knew that he guessed at her own lustful thoughts. They broke out in huge guffaws together.

“I’ll come by for you tomorrow at 11. Give you time so you can sort things out here with your mama.”

“There’s not much to sort out Ruffie, she’s a pig-headed old cow and you know it. She’s not ever going to be happy about this, and I’d just as soon marry you right now and be done with this.”

“Lord, you are a stubborn one ain’t ya? You won’t back down either one of you. Well, this is all your own business, I guess.” He raised his eyebrow at her and she nodded. “Just don’t let it get to the point that you might have nothing left. This is your family anyhow. That’s something that lots of folks don’t have.”

She huffed at that, sounding remarkably and ironically just like her mother; the woman she detested so much. “Don’t you say a word!” she admonished when he opened his mouth to say just that. “I am nothing like her at all. Nothing.”

“Nope, then. Not at all,” he smirked and put his hat back on his head. Before turning to leave, he leaned towards her again and whispered, “Do you got any more of them kisses for me Grace? I sure wouldn’t mind another.”

“You’re a rotten scoundrel Mr. Payette, and you’re trying to make a bad girl out of me.”

“Never” he said and puckered his lips.

“That’s too bad then.” She leaned in to kiss him one more time. “I wouldn’t mind trying to be a bad girl at all.”

He grinned at her and turned and left. She watched him walk down the steps and turned onto to the street below. He walked with sureness in his step that only a man who knows that his woman loves him has.

Her mother was waiting for her in the kitchen when she came back into the house. The raised brow upon her mother’s face set off some deep-seated ire within Grace. That look, above all else, she hated the most. That look said superiority and judgment. The familiar churn in her belly set Grace’s tone for the conversation.

Grace lifted her chin and said “Now don’t you start, Mother. I will not have this argument anymore. My mind is made up, it’s modern times. I can marry whoever I want and do whatever I want and you know it.”

Grace’s mother, a woman of means and hateful beginnings, rose, with great inner difficulty and walked towards her to embrace her child. “I know. I just wish it could be different. Your father can’t bear this. I cannot say I can either. But I would not be a good Christian if I didn’t say what’s on my mind. He’s a poor miner. He shuns the church. He’s rough. I can’t stand by and watch you lower yourself and not say a thing at all.”

Grace stiffened in her mother’s arms. “This whole town was built by men like Ruffie. Why, you and Father wouldn’t be where you are if it weren’t for men like him. All this money you have to buy you all that you want and need? It comes from men like him.”

She stepped back and looked into her mother’s face. Louise was a strong woman, with clear blue eyes, her face lined and hair a bit gray at the temples, but she still held herself in a fashionable regard, and kept her figure neat. Grace’s own face was a stark reminder to Louise of her own youth, long passed. Louise wondered to herself how her daughter could be the one to defy her family. Then she recalled all the times that Grace had tried her patience as a child, and a rueful smile crossed her lips. Climbing trees. Cussing. Stealing licorice whips from the mercantile. Tearing out the ribbons from her hair and throwing them in the dirt after church, in front of all the other horrified mothers. Running naked across the lawn. Hearing whispers of Grace sneaking out to see this man when she had been forbidden to see him. Louise felt as if she might fall backwards with how much love and hate it stirred within her. This young woman standing in front of her, with a stern look and desperate eyes. Did she really come from me? wondered Louise.

“I’m marrying him tomorrow. We’ll be at the courthouse just past noon. If you want to see me marry, I would love to have you and Father there.” The lie felt sour on her tongue.

Her mother looked at her feet, and shook her head. “I … I can’t Grace. You know your father. I can’t. You don’t understand. Your father, he’s… he can be so difficult.” She looked into her daughter’s eyes. “You’re better than this, Grace Caldwell. Your father and I raised you up to be a good daughter and a good wife to someone better than that.” Grace stared hard, and before Louise dropped her gaze, Grace saw the conflict there.

“Fine,” Grace said. “It’s clear to me that you are spiteful and hateful. I don’t understand you, Mother. I never will. I wish you would stand up to Father. And you know I am just as stubborn as you are anyways There’s not a thing you can say to me to make me change my mind.”

She left the kitchen and went to her bedroom, where her trunk sat on the floor, open and full of all her belongings. She regarded her dresses and petticoats and all of her other belongings nestled inside, and then kicked the trunk as hard as she could.

Louise heard the violent thud, knowing her daughter’s fierce temper not unlike her father’s, and dropped her face into her hands and wept.

Oh, how sweet it was.

22 01 2014

Someone asked me the other day to sum up our little trip to Mexico in one sentence. I thought about it for several days, letting various words dance in my mouth, the structure and play of sentences whirl around my mind like dervishes. Words like tantalize, ache, heat and love, surf and salty breath, sticky, delicious, satisfaction: they all teased me, almost in a sexual way. Erotica in the form of sand and sunshine? Maybe.

But I just couldn’t do it. There was too much to gather, to reveal and to acknowledge, regardless if I jammed it all into a long, run-on, overly wordy sentence jam-packed with semi-colons and pro-nouns and commas and adjectives.

What did come to me was each long drawn out day. Each one arrived with me waking at dawn, sliding out from the covers to peek outside at the sky. I’d stretch and yawn, and marvel at how we still had ___ days left. Each day breaking was like a ribbon, it stretched out before me, waving in that warm tropical breeze. I couldn’t see the end of it, as every moment was NOW. We moved in slow motion, grabbing coffees and heading to the playa to watch that marvelous ball of heat rise from the ocean waves. Pelicans gliding above the water, backlit against orange, tilting each way to play their wings along the surface of each crest. The wind blowing back my hair, feeling that warmth on my my face. Breakfasts with laughter and mimosas and pain au chocolat. Sunscreen slathered, towels gathered. Waves pushing and pulling us to their whims. Fish swarming by, flashing blue and yellow and sparkly silver. Lunch? Yes please! Pico de gallo smothering thick crunchy tortilla chips, finished off with cervezas or margaritas. A stroll to discover treasures amongst the rocks, spotting the camouflaged iguanas. Swimming again, wondering how I can be so sticky from the salt water. Laying down on the beach chairs: that magical afternoon beach nap, where you hover in between true sleep and that blissful zone of awareness without connection. Hearing half a dozen languages around you. Finding out how easy Spanish words roll out of my mouth. Knowing your nose needs more sunscreen and not really caring. Oh, wait! It’s almost supper! Meandering back to the villa to shower off and change as the sun sets. But here in the tropics WHAM, it’s dark almost instantly. There’s no foreplay with these sunsets. Rather than a long, drawn-out dance of colours, like making slow love, hovering and teasing between light and dark for an hour, they are more of a quick and dirty tryst, a quick and furtive knee-knocker, the light is bright orange and then dark…. but both are equally satisfying. No need to bundle up, folks. We walk to dinner in our sleeveless dresses, t-shirts and shorts. We laugh and eat and laugh some more. Check out the entertainment, or maybe another moonlit stroll on the sand? Whatever….We roll with it, we cease to tell time. We relax so deeply and breathe so easy. We vacation in that true sense.

Each day dawns with one purpose. To live in the moment. We stop counting days to when we go home: rather we marvel at how much time we still have here. Oh, it was heaven, and it stays with me still. The echoes of that scent of the air, the smiles of my kids, the peace in my heart, the sand between my toes.  The utter contentment we all felt.

There’s always one in every crowd… In this case, there was more than one…

21 01 2014

We went to a show at the resort one night, during our (heavenly) week in Mexico. It was a fun performance, full of hip hop, break dancing and funky music. At the end of the night, the MC got a few folks up on the stage for a couple of funny games to try to win prizes. We watched this one man up there carry on as if he were a comedian himself. (Maybe he was, I dunno.) He took various liberties with the other people on the stage to eek out a few laughs from the audience and while I admittedly thought he was funny at first, his increasingly annoying antics led me to believe that he was That Guy…. You know the one, that guy who doesn’t know he stopped being funny ages ago and thinks he can just keep on doing his thing even though most people are getting kind of squirmy and uncomfortable. He tried taking center stage, and I noticed his son and wife in the audience laughing as if it was the funniest thing in the world. Shortly after, the boy ran up on stage and started acting like a mini-version of his dad, grabbing at people and running around like a little maniac. The mom stood up and started taking video, occasionally looking around to validate to everyone in the audience that yes indeed, these two are the MOST AMAZING PEOPLE IN THE WORLD.

I try not to judge people, as I am sure they are a loving group and have nothing but good intentions… but man… sometimes there are people that drive me up the wall….

And so, two nights later, we decided to catch the circus show that had various acrobatic performances. Guess who we ended up sitting right next to?

Granted, it was no Cirque du Soleil, but for a family-friendly free show, it was entertaining. At one point one of the girls on stage was rope climbing to do some crazy-ass flippy sort of trick and her sheer strength blew me away…. I turned to comment on this to my family and noticed the mom beside me, with a pinched angry face and her arms crossed as if someone just farted in her face. She didn’t clap once. Meanwhile, her son, who was in front of me bounced around, standing up and talking to his cousin (or brother, not sure, as there was a whole crew of them), ignoring the performance in front of them and basically being a nuisance. All the while, the dad was drinking and the mom sat, unimpressed while the rest of the packed theatre went crazy with the performance.

After the show, a clown got up on stage and did his schtick. Hey!! Guess who went up on stage?? And tried to take over the show? And guess whose son went up to do a goofy dance? And guess who thought it was the funniest thing on the planet and got her video camera out? Both the son and the dad were up there, carrying on…. and what got me were the pleading looks of validation they kept shooting out to her. And she would clap and laugh and cheer them on, completely oblivious of the body language of everyone else around them. The poor clown tried to direct his comedy routine in the direction intended, but they just kept on doing their own thing, ultimately souring the whole performance. The kicker for me was when the dad thought he could grab some of the acrobatic props to try to do a trick. We finally just got up and left, as did a good majority of people, leaving them to their own desperate comedic devices.

We all had a good chuckle over “some people” as we walked under the Mexican moonlight back to our villa.

Other than the antics of the Not So Funny Duo, we enjoyed our stay at the Grand Bahia immensely and loved every single moment.