(Author’s note: With the final part of my Korean experience finally complete, I now focus on the next phase of life. This means that Music and Fiction will likely get an upgrade/update in some way. Once I get settled back in a routine, this should happen. Until then, it’s Fictioneers and other stories I plan to write. Hope you enjoy today’s offering!)
(Author’s Note: Things can change in a week. Currently, I am waiting for my visa number to be issued. Upon that, I apply for a visa and head back to teach students in Korea yet again. I will likely be gone by the end of December and starting to teach at the beginning of January. So, I will be back to writing lots of newer stories, along with writing other things that won’t be published here. Today, we have another fictioneers event that seems like it’ll be quite fun.)
The crunch awoke Paul from a dead slumber. Grumbling, he walked down stairs. He nearly reached the bottom when he froze.
Paul looked into his 16 year old daughter’s face, surprised that she found his old college mascot costume.
“Charity! How did you get that?”
“I found it. Now tell me about this!”
“Well, I went to a local college here. You know it as the big university now. Our mascot was a yellow chicken. I did this to help pay for my tuition.”
Charity flipped her hand, knowing there was more.
“It was also the costume I wore when I first met your mom.”
“And there we have it.”
“She didn’t like it. She was a sour girl the day that she met me…”
“And how many years now?”
“19 wonderful years…”
(Author’s notes: Sorry for not being as productive lately. It’s been a really tough time here in the land down under, and because of all that’s going on, my attention has been on getting myself stable, then getting myself out of here. I want to thank each and every one of you for reading my stories the last two weeks and giving me great feedback. You all make me so proud. Here is today’s fictioneers story.)
“We’ve been coming to Dad’s grave for 14 years. I’m about to graduate. You never told me what happened to him.”
“I guess it is that time,” her mother sighed, sitting down next to the flat gravestone, “Your dad came back from the Gulf, and he wasn’t right. But he always told me he was, so I didn’t say much about it.”
Heidi slowly knelt down by her Mom.
“He never told anyone. He never told me!”
She started to sob. Heidi hugged her, tears flowing down her face.
“He was too stubborn to ask for help, and he took his life. He never truly made it home.”
Tina Greene looked out from the cliffside at the ocean’s tantrum. She felt the winds as they blew sea spray into her face. The sea and the spray were very well reflective of her current situation and mood.
She was in the center of a storm in her heart, and the center of a storm in her life.
Her heart felt like it was ripped out of her chest, the crimson effluence pounding out what was left of the life she used to have with her husband, or rather, her former husband. The initial rip came from the delivery of the divorce papers at the summer cottage that they once shared, the site where Tina was currently staying. As she kept reading the papers, she noticed that he left her many things that would keep her pacified, but that the majority of what they made together would be left in his care.
Including their 12-year old daughter, Karin.
A fact that, upon reading, caused her to weep bitterly for hours.
She didn’t care about the summer cottage, or the 1.2 million in money that her husband was willing to part with. She didn’t even care about the half of the pension money her husband would have to give up after he retired. None of that mattered to her, none of it was important.
Her daughter was the most important person in her life at that moment in time, and there was no way she could fight her husband to get full custody. She would lose Karin forever.
It broke her heart.
She looked upon the seas again, seeing the swirling waves crash against the rocks below. She spotted a small dinghy as it crashed into the jetty a little ways off. The cracking and breaking of the wooden hull made a cacophonous echo that reverberated through Tina’s ears.
She looked down at the papers in her hand, the divorce papers that she long agonized over. As she sighed and shook her head, she pulled the pen out of her skirt pocket and signed the bottom. Putting them back into the envelope, she turned and walked away from the cliff, back towards the summer cottage which would now serve as her permanent home. Her new home.
She slowly walked to the back door, taking what old men called a “widow’s walk”, the walk of someone who lost someone or something very important and dear. While she didn’t lose a physical person to death, divorce was just as bad as widowhood.
And it would be something Tina would have to feel for a long long time.
– A tribute to all parents who ended up in divorce, and what they have had to go through in those times.
(For Kristi, in the tough time she’s going through)
Fool’s Gold by Miles Rost
Teresa Farmer’s hand let the phone slip from her fingers.
She was in shock, she didn’t know what she could do.
“Hello? Hello? Teresa? You still there?” the voice on the other end of the phone asked, shaken with fear and peppered with worry.
Teresa picked up the phone and breathed again.
“Yeah….yeah…I’m here. I just…I…I’m not sure if I can say anything…”
“I understand. I guess, all I can say is that I am so sorry for what’s happened, and I wish I could be there to help.”
“Yeah, I know,” Teresa told her friend, who was stationed in Germany at one of the Air Force bases.
“When I get leave, I’ll come back and we can have a gripe session about this.”
“Get here when you can.”
They talked for a couple more minutes, said their pleasantries, and Teresa hung up her phone.
She walked to the living room, the place in her house that became her conversation parlor. She leaned back in her rocking chair and just pondered her situation. She lived alone in her house, her husband moving out many years ago after a rocky fight. 6 years of marriage, suddenly gone. No kids in the house to yell at, or to pick up after.
One more lonely piece of news filled the room, a room that was slowly becoming a room of memories. The news from her friend of her mother’s passing was intensely tough. While Helena Farmer was not a rough and tough rancher’s wife, she still held her own after many years of battle. Whether a battle against a railroad company to reclaim the mineral rights under her farm, or the battle against a major crop company that tried to force her to use seeds she didn’t want, Teresa’s mother was steadfast. She may not have been physically strong, but she made up for it plenty with sheer will, guts, spit, and vinegar.
Now, she was gone. It was less than a year after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and she was now gone. Teresa did not know what she was going to do. As she rocked in her chair, a warm afghan wrapped around her, the tears started to fall. As the cracks in her “armor” started to grow bigger, she wept louder, until it was unstoppable.
For the rest of that day, she grieved. She remembered, she cried, she wailed, she sobbed. She would go through the five stages of grief a few times before she could finally release. For this day, however, she needed to grieve.
(For my Dad, Harlan. A wonderful man who knows good music, and does good things! I love you, Dad.)
Sandy couldn’t remember a time when she wasn’t without something important from her childhood.
30 years old, living on her own in an apartment in a fancier area of Portland, and she still held the teddy bear that she received from her dad when she was 3. She loved that teddy bear with everything she had. It was her best friend when she was young, a protector from the monsters in the closet and under the bed. It was her companion when she was rejected by boys in junior high school, and embarrassingly enough, her practice doll in anticipation of her first kiss.
The teddy bear was squeezed in front of her. Sandy’s chin rested on top of it’s head, as she looked around her room. She carefully studied all of the items on the shelves of her room, neatly places all over the room. She looked at a small box on the top shelf, and mused a little bit. She took in down and put it on the desk.
She opened the box, and a small ballerina popped up. The music that played started up, and she just smiled at the sounds of the little charm piano that played in the bottom of the box. She remembered back to a time when she received the box, when her dad returned from a trip to Zurich. He had gone for two weeks, spending his time negotiating business deals involving metals and parts. He returned home after two weeks, and smiled.
“Daddy!” little Sandy cried, as she ran up to him and put her arms around his leg.
“Hey there, Sunny,” he said, using his pet name for her, “Let me get sat down and I’ll show you something very neat!”
She smiled, as she ran into the living room at the speed of a normal 9 year old. She got his pipe and his slippers ready for him, so he could relax.
He walked into the living room, and carried along a big paper bag with handles, something new at the time. She asked him what was in the bag.
“This is a present for you. It’s something special that I think you will love.”
He gave her the okay, and she pulled the wrapped gift out of the bag. It was large, and somewhat heavy for a 5 year old. But, like a trooper, she handled the gold wrapped package and put it on the couch, where she promptly tore the paper open. She opened the latch on the front, and pulled up on the lid.
The familiar sounds of the music box dancer jumped Sandy back to the present day, and a small tear rolled down her face.
“Dad, we’re gonna listen to this again,” she said, as she put the music box into a paper bag. And as she got in her car, to go to the nursing home where her dad was staying due to his Alzheimer’s, she thought about the music. It lifted her spirits as she drove, and kept the box open while she drove.