A Ghost of a Pinned Chance

For this week’s prompt, we’re at a restaurant for lunch. One of those local businesses, with an antique fireplace in your favorite room to eat in. The restaurant, you see, is inside a very old house, one with a murky, somewhat spooky, history. The restaurant is even part of the village’s ghost tour at Halloween time every year. But that’s all nonsense, right?….. (Read the rest of the opening prompt here.)

You eye the door. It’s solid, naturally, being a door and all. Still, if Lara Croft can fist-punch a granite statute, this skeleton-keyed obstruction shouldn’t stand much chance against a vegan-powered, Umbrella Academy-watching powerhouse like you.

Unfortunately, an attempted shift of your center of gravity reminds you that about three feet of petticoats and lace obstruct any sudden movement. If not for the witch-woman who first introduced you to The Door, you would have fallen in a puffy white heap. “Steady, Beatrice,” she admonishes. Then, some expression or resolve of your eyebrows catches her attention. “I wouldn’t try fainting again, Miss Pondewaste. Your father supplied me with smelling-salts.”

With a sniff, your matron of imprisonment opens the door. She hustles you out, arm firmly round your brocaded waist. “Not that he would consider such an event occurring that I would need smelling salts…” the stern woman mumbles as you attempt to walk down a narrow hall.

You feel too distracted to pay her much attention. The walls, formerly painted and hung with cheap printer paper pictures of vintage times, are now wallpapered. Sad, serious paintings hang in proper frames at measured spaces along the papering. A spindly-legged end table supports a flickering oil lantern atop an embroidered cloth. Its light plays across the delicate white stitchings of your dress.

Your dress! You stop mid-shush to admire the extensive needlework and lacework arms. How many slave laborers had to give their lives to produce this thing? “Now, Miss Beatrice,” Mean Lady hisses. Your tailing ladies-in-waiting snicker unprofessionally behind you, stopping at a quick glance from your captor.

Against any will you might have had, she drags you to the end of the hall. What is going on? What can I do? you wonder. Dimlit walls and antique furnishings distract and confuse you. Your tormentor walks you forward relentlessly, grunting with the effort and chastening you that, “It’s just the entry, for Pity’s sake!”

As a sunlight-outlined door flanked by sentry windows draws imminently close, you realize that something sharp is within your hand. You’ve been caressing it as you walked, oblivious to the action.

Your tread slows, even against the push of Mean Lady. You draw your hand before your face and squint to focus on the object in question. It’s the sewing pin, the one you picked up from a restaurant floor a few centuries hence.

“What have you got, Beatrice?”

As your fingers slip down the sides of the pin and you hold it aloft in the light, her eyes widen. Her eyebrows raise. “Where did you get that? Just give it here; I’ll -” her clawlike hand reaches to take it but instinct tells you to keep it away from her. You move it just as she snatches.

“Beatri- Miss Pondewaste! Hand it over this instance!” She makes another grab. Very unladlylike.

You turn your body to help shield against her reachings and make a split-second decision. With the aid of the other hand, you snap the pin in half. *Snit*

The Mean Lady’s gasp is the last thing you hear before blacking out.

The next thing you hear, of course, is that too-good-looking server’s voice, “Mushroom risotto, just as you ordered.” A plate clinks to the table in front of you and its steaming contents are the first, blessed thing you see. After that is the gorgeous server’s face. Nothing like the present.

“Oh, hey,” he says suddenly. “Did you drop something?” He stoops to the floor and retrieves two broken halves of a sewing pin.

“No!” you nearly yell. Seeing his confusion and surprise, you repeat it more calmly. “No, thank you.” You take up your napkin and lay it on your lap. “Go ahead and just throw it away.”

He shrugs and walks away, leaving you to your risotto. It’s a good thing Mean Lady isn’t there to witness your eating it, because you’re too hungry to mind many manners.

In response to Peregrine Arc‘s writing prompt. What an imagination!

What is the Beat of YOUR Creation?

After delving into lighthearted topics like Life After Death, I thought it might be time to hit a heavier subject today. Let’s discuss music.

Do you like music? Do you listen to music when you write? How about if you do other creative things; like painting, sewing, singing, dancing, acting, etc? I feel like creation comes in so many forms and even tried to capture that idea with poetry. I, myself, delve into other arts besides writing. I sing, play, paper-craft, paint, draw, and do not dance.

And I need music.

A friend of mine told me she doesn’t listen to music much because it affects her. That is precisely why I listen. Yes, with the mental and emotional issues I deal with, I am affected as well. I am moved to tears, anger, fear, resolve, sadness, or elation. Not only that, but I am moved beyond the slip of a shadow those two-dimensional words convey in print.

Take this angry piece I’ve listened to today:

I have played it fifty times because, when music influences me, I have to hear it over and over and over …till whatever feeling it ignited within is appeased and I can move on.

That’s not to say I’m a grunge rock groupie. Before Blackbriar, I swam the soporific currents of Chopin. This piece, in particular, was on repeat for a few days:

I haven’t talked to my husband much about my Chopin infatuation because he’s already a little sensitive about how much into The Awakening I was in high school. Chopin has brought me to new heights, however, even 169 years after his death.

In my defense, I am not the only author who has attributed inspiration to music, nor even to specific tracks. Stephenie Meyer, who wrote some sort of romance book you may have heard of, even lists the songs she “hear(s) in (her) head while reading the book.”

I’ve written two or three blog posts with a certain song playing. One of my favorites, Let’s Stay in Bed Today I wrote while listening to “Defcon 5,” by Book on Tape Worm:

And, another of Blackbriar’s songs, “Preserved Roses,” plus Faith Marie’s “Antidote” were responsible for depressive works like It’s All in Your Head, Are You In There?, and It’s All a Lie.

I hate to end on a downer, so you’ll be happy to know that Wilhelmina Winters is often fueled by The Piano Guys:

So, is music your muse? What are some of your favorite jams?

—–

Here’s what transpired this past week:
Wednesday, December 5: Should I Stay or Should I Go?, just my pondering on what comes after death.
Thursday, December 6: Skinwalkers, XLIV
Friday, December 7: Winner of The Fourth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest announced. Congratulations, Michael B. Fishman.
I also re-blogged Susanna Leonard Hill’s children’s story contest. She does another around Valentine’s Day, so try again then.
Saturday, December 8: Beginning of The Fifth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest (Enter it!).
Also, The Little Shepherd’s LullabyI wrote part of this as new lyrics to a song the children our local church ward (parish) are singing. I added, tweaked, re-worked, and submitted it to the contest with a minute to spare.
Sunday, December 9: Livelihood, a flash fiction entry for Carrot Ranch Literary Community. I put on my angry music, thought of the theme, and pictured paint gushing like blood onto a brick wall.
Monday, December 10: Inspirational Quote by e. e. cummings.
Tuesday, December 11: Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-Five,
and The Bedtime Routine over at my motherhood site. My second son’s picture is in that article, though I generally prefer to use stock photos.
Wednesday, December 12: This post.

Livelihood

No passersby knew why he sat, in the sun, staring at nothing. A few threw coins or insults. One threw lunch, which he ate, staring as he chewed.

Night fell to all but the wall before him; the whiteness of antique, virgin brick burned into his mind. He paused to start a silent soundtrack. Nodding along to *bom!-bom!-bom!* he opened equally invisible paints.

Pain sprayed black in a wild arc, then red for beating love, then blue for days without the red; then green, grey, purple, orange –

Till, breathless, he stood staring at his soul upon the wall; satisfied.

For me, with the prompt provided by Carrot Ranch Literary Community.

The Eye of the Beholder

Good day, fellow art-lovers. On this fine morning, as you are all well aware, we gather to consider the latest artistic offerings one might find in his local market. Our pieces this day are all found in a curious shop named KSL Classifieds.

Without further ado, then, ladies and gentlemen, let us begin.

Our first sample is titled “Orange.”

Orange

Yes, yes it is. ‘Twould seem the artist felt no other explanation was necessary, and the seller as well. For $45, this… erm, orange, may be yours for the picking. (So sorry; it was too tempting.)

 

If obvious statements are your cachet, then our second item (for a mere $10) will leave you feeling …fabulous.

Fabulous

No, madame, I will not pronounce it as written. Anyone who cannot spell, nor include a photograph instead of a screen shot deserves to be shot. What’s that, sir? No, no. I was simply mumbling about the weather. Terribly hot day, this.

 

Of course, we are not simply purveyors of paltry paintings at this establishment. Those who wish to open their pocketbooks slightly wider may appreciate an original …print of an artwork, crafted by a man known as The Painter of Light.

Kinkade

I can’t help but feel the vendor did little to forward that reputation, by want of a clear lens for photographing. Ah, well, perhaps you may all picture its beauty, and thereby feel compelled to pay the $250 price tag.

 

Although I have studied and promoted creative works for many years, I’ll admit that some popular items still elude my personal preferences. Therefore, if any here express interest in Colombian paintings for their bathroom (as suggested by the seller), I’ll do my best to back them up.

Bottom

I’d say to move quickly on this $135 oil painting, but I imagine she’s not going anywhere in a hurry.

 

Our organizers thought this wall “art” might do well to follow the woman at her toilette; I can’t imagine why.

Moon

 

But really, what better place to rid oneself of an entire paycheck than on secondhand art? Take this print, for example, at $300:

Urn

“(B)eautifully framed urn artwork in pristine condition” advertises the owner. I agree. Tai Pan Trading did an excellent job purchasing framed and glassed-in Chinese merchandise, selling them to willing buyers, then closing down once said buyers could pick up their own through Amazon dealers.

 

Esteemed collectors such as you fine people know the value of a good piece. You know, for example, that a Renoit or Rembrandt is worth its sticker -provided one may prove its authenticity.

Therefore, you also know that a piece by an up-and-coming artist no one has heard of (and a name the vendor himself will not list) is most certainly worth $7,000.

Expensive

Since it is also un-titled, we will refer it is as Bird Merchant with an Extra Hand in the Shadow of Random Nudity. Don’t be shy, now; step up and part with the minor sum post-haste.

 

All you fine patrons who have held out for true genius, this final artwork will not disappoint:

Twilight

Twenty-five dollars, ladies and gentlemen. Twenty-five United States currency is all that separates you from artistic perfection.

 

As our session draws to a close, I wish to thank you all for your kind patronage and generous manner. Please feel free to join us in future, whenever we may have material enough to promote once again.

Do Not Acknowledge When the Grim Reaper Calls

Old Folks

I am afraid of dying. It’s not a unique fear, nor a novel one.

From people in the religious community to which I belong, my statement draws vocalizations of denial. They say life persists after death. They know I will see my passing friends and relatives again in some grand family reunion.

But even they avoid reminders of The End.

They do not house dying relatives, attend festivities at Adult Day Care centers, or wish to visit those inevitable hellholes that await the living: nursing homes.

They’re just as afraid as I am. We’re all afraid.

My parents took us to visit relatives in “care centers” when we were young. I didn’t like going. I resented being forced to sit there while some wrinkled, age-stinked woman barely recollected her younger years. I didn’t realize my parents didn’t like the situation, either. Still; it was a sense of duty, family, and love.

Perhaps our problem is not entirely a fear of death.

True, we are scared. We do not wish to stare at the handiwork of The Grim Reaper and know it is our end as well.

However, the whole picture of avoiding age is a painting of mural dimensions. The painting, of course, is not a happy scene of meadows, sunlight and wildflowers. It’s more like those dark-shaded scenes of swirling landforms and moody lakes.

painting

(Pinterest)

See those painted weeping willows over the water? They are not happy trees. They are our own, selfish sadness at losing our loved one. We feel the hole in our lives, to some degree. We recall happy (or sad) memories and accordingly droop to the reflective surface morosely.

Mountains and hills shading the background represent trials and difficulties. Why is an entire range present, and why are they so far away? We want them far; we don’t like discomfort.

Real life, adult life, needs people willing to face and overcome uncomfortable things.

One such uncomfortable activity is the care of helpless, dying humans. If you think you don’t want to do it, think about the people who are paid by hospice companies or care centers. The high turnover rate is an obvious sign that no one likes wiping old peoples’ bottoms.

Filler scenery like grasses, dips, valleys, and bushes are the long, unknown journey. It’s not a cushy trip, nor one we can predict the duration of. It’s annoying. It’s a detraction from our regular life and a depressing play on our emotions.

Finally: the lake. Water is a favorite metaphor in creative works. We think we see the bottom, though it’s a murky, weed-choked one. Simultaneously, saddened viewers may see a reflection of themselves on the surface, of their mortality.

The water is the dying one’s life. The size and depth thereof depends on their personality and experiences.

So, what now, art lover? Do you wish to continue avoiding your picture as it takes on more and more of your regrets and negligence?

Dorian Gray

(Wikipedia)

I don’t blame you, really.

I’ve brushed closer to Death within the last week than I’ve had to for many years. Good healthcare, I suppose.

My grandmother is drawing her last breaths, completely unaware of the world around her. She hasn’t been awake or eating for five days. She hasn’t known who I am for a few years.

She was moved to a special Alzheimer’s facility last autumn. It’s only ten minutes from my house, but I have not gone frequently. I’ve felt impotent, as she stares at everyone around her in confusion.

I’ve felt deeply saddened as I briefly made eye contact and saw only emptiness.

Why go, then? She doesn’t know.

Fear of an eternal religious judgment? I’m not that superstitious anymore. Mostly.

Judgement

Let me draw you a death-scene a little different than the one my grandmother is part of now. Different, slightly, than her being completely asleep; with her anxious children staring at each other for hours, for hours of days.

Over a year ago, we were told my husband’s grandmother was failing. Confined to her bed in a home shared with her oldest son, she woke occasionally and spoke little.

When I arrived, armed with disruptive children and a picture book of garden flowers, I found my husband’s cousin already there. She had brought a guitar. Patiently, sweetly; she strummed it and sang.

She had a lovely voice.

Right then, I decided I wanted to be loved enough that someone would sing me off to Eternal Sleep.

And that, fellow Thanatophobics, is my impetus for care of the elderly. It’s a Golden Rule sort of thing. How would I want to be treated? What attentiveness may I expect?

Given the obvious truth that I may be susceptible to Alzheimer’s as well, I’m likely to degenerate to a similar state of ignorance. When I am anxiously rubbing my hands, wondering at the empty walls of strange rooms, and feeling a strange sort of violation at having others bathe me -who will care enough to visit?

Will you?