Friday evenings were her favorite. She had brought up a film on Netflix, muted the sound and selected the subtitles. Curled up on the sofa in the dark trying to lip read was her idea of fun. Mister was prowling around the house making sure that there were no interlopers of the insect or rodent types. It was a perfect night. But her luck was never any good. She had the sound off but her phone still vibrated making a buzzing noise. It made her jump. Before her hand reached the phone, Mister was on the coffee table glaring at it. She hesitated before turning it over to check the number or name displayed. “Stupid people” she growled. Then she answered the call. “Hello.” she said in a flat tone. “Hi. Is this Aurora Dupin?” the cheery voice asked. “No.” was her reply. The woman on the other end was flustered and then asked to speak to Aurora. Again she replied a firm, “No. There isn’t anyone by that name here.” The perky fled from the caller’s voice. “I’m so sorry. I was trying to reach her. Is this 555-242-7890?” A wry smile played across her face and she winked at Mister. “That is my number. But my name is George.” The confused pause was loud and clear and she was greatly amused. Her mirth was reflected in Mister’s shining eyes. The caller however was persistent asking if she could have any information on the whereabouts of Aurora Dupin. When pressed, the caller divulged that she was calling on behalf of the estate of an anonymous individual. That was all she needed to hear. She abruptly ended the call and then blocked the number. She had placed the phone on the coffee table and started the movie when it once more began to vibrate against the wood. She started to reach for it but Mister was standing on the phone putting his full weight on it. His ears were flat against his head and his pupils were dilated. He had the look of a demon and was warning her not to think of touching the phone. So she didn’t. It eventually stopped buzzing. Mister took up the position of phone sentinel keeping one paw on the phone as if to say that it was no longer hers to answer. She left the phone on the table that night. Saturdays were generally decompression days, a time to regain a sense of equilibrium. On a good weekend, she wouldn’t have to see, hear or speak to another person. By Saturday morning, Mister had carried the phone away. It took her the better part of the morning to locate it. Mister seemed to want to protect her from whatever message was on the phone. But there wasn’t a message, there were 20 messages. The same perky woman had relentlessly called. She was feeling a small twinge of guilt for telling an outright lie to the woman. Her name wasn’t George but it wasn’t Aurora either. Technically it was Lucile but she went by Lu, at least that was when she had to give a name. Now she was going to have to deal with some random, persistent, misguided person. She paused and considered cancelling her phone service. It wasn’t convenient. She’d have to spend hours waiting to get a new phone in a crowded store. It wouldn’t be worth the trouble. Procrastination wasn’t a trait she encouraged in herself or others. Mister perched himself on the arm of the sofa as she looked through the messages listening to a random selection. A deep breath and she dialed the number. Mister squinted his eyes. A short explanation and she had agreed to meet with the woman from the law firm. She was not looking forward to the meeting scheduled for Monday evening. At least she could forget about it for the rest of the weekend.
Here is the 3rd episode of “An Introvert’s Story”. We learn a little more about our main character and her life – or lack thereof.
Let your hair down
Finger comb the tangles
Toss your head
Uncover your eyes
Look into my soul
Search for my heart
Sift through my memories
Pick apart the deceptions
Uncover the truth
See me as I am
It is the perpetual dilemma – to be seen and to hide. We want to selectively reveal to the world those parts of us that we think will be acceptable, pleasant, popular. And in turn conceal anything we are ashamed of or believe will merit derision, ridicule, or ostracization. On a personal level we crave a connection and in the same breath are so afraid that we are reluctant to expose our inner most feelings to anyone else. We are fragile and easily hurt. Love of course can give us the courage to open our hearts and allow another to see and touch the delicate soul.
She sighed deeply as she turned off the ignition and closed the garage door. The interior car light was on and she paused to savor the quiet and calm. When the light turned itself off she headed into her house. She had only two keys on her ring, the car and house key. Prying her boots off on the door mat, she steadied herself on the arm of the sofa. The interior darkness wasn’t complete. The blue light from the DVD player cast a glowing circle. As she moved through the hall she could see the reflection of the microwave display in the glass of the wall clock. She sighed again. This time it was the sound of satisfaction. All was as it should be. There was serenity. Even the air was welcoming. A small smile played across her face. The crease between her eyes relaxed and the tension in her muscles eased. Silently she hung her purse on the back of the kitchen chair and shed her winter coat. She stood motionless for several minutes letting her eyes adjust to the dark and her ears pick up the subtle sounds of the house. She waited. It had become a game she played, marking the time from opening the garage door to when he would finally realize she had come home. She savored the delay, amused at how quickly he would appear. She jumped with the light touch on her arm. He was a marvel of stealth and it pleased her that he greeted her with this gentle gesture. “There you are, Mister.” she whispered. He responded with a soft touch and was gone. She knew where he went. Reluctantly she turned on the light. She had installed dimmer switches throughout her home. She preferred a soft light to the glaring white in her office. Mister seemed to prefer the shadows too. His sleek black form rarely ventured into the center of a room, preferring to hug the walls and navigate behind and beneath the furniture. If only she could have been born a cat she thought. With a relaxed motion, she gave Mister his dinner. While she watched him eat she pondered her own dinner choices. She wasn’t usually lazy when it came to meal preparation but today had been a trial. The choices were slim, leftover quiche or cereal. “Eeny-meeny-miny-moe” she intoned and then decided that a scrambled egg on buttered toast sounded better than either of the other choices. Mister appeared on her lap as she started to take the first bite. She was never sure if he just wanted attention or if he was after her food. It didn’t matter. She willingly gave him the second bite. He was a dainty eater nipping off just one little corner before curling up on her lap. It was as if he knew that she savored the silence. Everyone always talked about their cats purring loudly but Mister didn’t make any noise, only a constant vibration deep in his chest. In fact he was so quiet that most of the time she couldn’t determine his location. He could be lurking under a chair or stretched behind her head and she wouldn’t know until he tapped her ankle or her shoulder.
This is episode #2 of “An Introvert’s Story”. Some people are dog lovers and others are crazy cat ladies. You can draw your own conclusions.
The ceramics studio has announced that they are going to hold another student show in the spring. Of course I plan to enter a piece. The problem is that I can’t decide which piece to enter… I finished another orb that actually made it through the kiln. There have been some issues related to the cold weather. The kiln is in the basement of the conference center/museum and it vents to the outside. There is a damper that permits the steam to exit and then closes to prevent critters and unwanted weather/debris/miscellaneous stuff from getting onto the vent. With the cold weather the damper iced up and prevented it from closing. This allowed very cold air to flood into the kiln. It wasn’t too much of a problem when the kiln was running (took longer to get to temperature). When the kiln was no longer actively firing and the pieces were supposed to be SLOWLY cooling the cold air caused some fragile pieces to shatter, others had some ugly cracks, and a lot had the glaze craze. Crazing of the glaze is where it develops a web of tiny cracks in the glaze. It looks pretty but it makes pieces unsuitable for using for food, they may not hold liquids, and many will break if placed in the microwave or exposed to extreme temperatures. The mug makers were a tad (understatement) irate. As it was I lost a piece that I had experimented with made of half white stoneware and half porcelain. I regret now not taking a photo. It had come out of the kiln intact. Until it was placed on my cold metal shelf it looked like it had survived. Once in contact with the shelf (under the exhaust fan that draws outside air) it made a couple popping noises and fell into 5 or 6 big chunks with a handful of tiny slivers. I didn’t try to pick them up – I swept them into the trash barrel with the whisk broom.
Anyway, here is the latest survivor. It is a half white stoneware and half porcelain body with Royal Blue glaze and red iron oxide stain on the tips. It is my interpretation of the pollen of Arnica chamissonis also known as American Arnica. It is a bright yellow flower that grows native to California and blooms in June/July. It is sometimes used as an anti-inflammatory in topical applications. It is considered toxic if taken internally. Others are sensitive to the plant and find it does not have soothing properties but instead have a reaction similar to poison ivy…
I used to write stories on Xanga. They were of various length, with a variety of characters. The feedback suggested that my protagonists were endearing and relatable and above all memorable. I had one reader nearly hurt herself when Maisy Duchenne got into some trouble. Another was so enamored with Detective Evans that they made me promise not to killer her off in the story! It was the story of Rose that made several confide their stories of domestic violence to me. All in all I had very positive reactions to my stories. I have decided to post another story. Like all the previous stories, this one will be posted in serial format with one episode/chapter a week. If it goes beyond March 31, I will put it on hiatus so that I can post a poem in its place to participate in April’s National Poetry Month. So without further ado here is the first entry for “An Introvert’s Story”
It was snowing. Her back was tense and there was a dull ache below her left shoulder blade from gripping the steering wheel so tightly. The seat belt was rubbing against her jaw as she leaned forward to see through the only clear spot on the windshield. She had turned off the radio since she couldn’t hear it over the sound of the heater and the wipers slapping against a ridge of ice along the far edge of the windshield. She wanted nothing more than to get home. The frustrations of the day dogged her flight from work. It was as if the snow and ice were aiming for her and her alone. She sighed and muttered under her breath, “Stupid drivers.” It wasn’t in anger but a statement of fact. Her opinion of the human race as a whole was not positive. Sure there were a few people she could tolerate, in small doses, but by and large she preferred her own company. The traffic was heavy and moving at a crawl. She sat at the light counting the cars ahead of her. If she was lucky she might make it through. She wasn’t lucky. “Idiots.” she intoned. It was getting dark and the neon lights were fuzzy beacons shining though the falling snow. Taco Bell or Wendy’s she asked herself. But the cars started to move faster. Her desire to get home trumped her hunger and she drove without stopping for what would only be the irritation of additional human interactions.
Lost buttons and metaphors for life. That is the unraveling of the thread that holds all things together. Buttons and breath. A stitch in the side and the thread that rubs against the sharp edge of a metal button. Eventually the thread breaks and even with sewing it back on it is only a matter of time before the thread is worn through again. If you are fortunate the button falls off in your hand. Without luck, the button is lost to the snow or dark or the deep pile of luxurious carpeting. No matter it is still lost. In the end it is lost and there is no chance to recover it. We can replace the lost button. It might not match the others. If you want to stay warm it won’t bother you that the coat has an odd grey button among the black ones. I suppose all of life is making due with mismatched buttons and searching for a needle and thread. How often do we put a button in our pocket because we don’t have time to sew it back on? How many buttons fall out of pockets when we pull out gloves? It is all coats flapping open and buttons found lonely on the sidewalk. So many lost buttons. So many lost people. So many.
The snowfall has revealed some unexpected traffic on my front porch. When I was checking Sparky’s progress on shoveling the driveway, I noticed foot prints on the porch. At first glance it was evident that a cat had slinked its way across the porch. Closer examinations showed where it had squeezed through the rail at the far end and hugging the house walked to the door. From there it cut across the door mat, down the single step, and then through the flower bed toward the garage. However the dainty cat paw prints were not the only ones there! There were some fairly large bird prints. I’m guessing a large crow or two. They took steps instead of doing the song bird hop. There were a few rabbit prints at the edge of the porch – just far enough to get out of the wind but not too close to the door. Rabbits seem to be much more wary than most of the other critters. I would have missed it entirely but there was a good chunk of snow missing from the railing. I thought at first that the wind had swept the accumulated snow off the top rail or that snow had fallen from my wind chime. I was wrong. It was obvious that a larger animal had danced on the railing. I can’t be certain but it looks like a raccoon hopped onto the rail and examined the wind chimes – possibly thinking it might be a bird feeder. On the other side of the garage from the porch, it was a veritable highway of animal tracks. I suspect that the pile of old wooden fence and assorted garden accessories (chicken wire and tomato cages) is housing a large colony of rabbits, chipmunks, and rodents. I really don’t mind as long as they don’t get any ideas about coming into the house!
Caught in a trap of wire and wood
Pinned and crushed it couldn’t move
The soft fur crumpled and red
Where the neck had snapped and it had bled
Eyes once bright and shiny black
Blinked and dimmed and closed to a crack
Shutting out the glare and light
Welcoming the eternal night
Stiff and cold the animation gone
A little mouse, a little life, a little song
The feet once dainty pink and frail
Now deaf ears, dead mouse, uncurled tail
Noise and nonsense echo here
People push and hurry near
The world rushes on unaware
That a little life had once been there
No gentle kiss blown sweetly from your lips
Not the zephyr of spring awakening the bud
Nay, you are more fierce a breeze
Yes a howling wind demanding entrance
Yea, you pound on the door “Let Me In”
You push at the chimney and pull at the latch
Jealous that I hold onto summer in my soul
Determined that you will gust and blow
Removing not only summer but marrow from my bones
We are in the midst of Chillageddon according to saintvi. The wind chill is in the extreme range. I subscribe to a safety newsletter and they had dire warnings (with some gruesome photos) of cold weather injuries. They cautioned that 15 minutes was the maximum exposure time when the temperature reached -20 degrees F. When the wind chill gets to -50 your time outside should be less than 7 minutes to avoid frost bite. The moisture on your eyeballs will freeze at -60 causing damage to the eye (possibly permanent)! It has been cold last week and is thankfully warming up. Of course the definition of “warm” is relative… I’m not ready to put away any of my winter duds. In fact I pulled out the Cozy Spot hand warmers so Sparky and I can keep our mouse hands warm while working at the computer!