this is a bitchy blog post

Two things. A book reviewer had a one sided argument with me today. I even tried to be nice about how I worded an opposing point of view. Wasn’t Mercury out of retrograde here recently? *shrug* I suppose some folks just have to be right and feel like they’re always on the attacking end of something. That sounds like an unappealing frame for life, but everyone’s perfect just how they are.

The second thing. Someone posted a Jesus blog saying something like Jesus had said it. And then they responded to Jesus asking how they could get more people under his (Jesus’) protection. Answer: well, you could start by not making up a Jesus quote, but what the hell do I know?

I lied, third thing. There was this guy asking for critiques in this writers group on Facebook. I’ve started really paying attention to these groups because I need to stay on top of my shit if I’m going to finish this novel by my birthday. He writes this ~500 word tirade about how (basically) parents need to be more strict. But he used the word “independence” in describing why kids turn out poorly. I kindly said I thought he was misusing the word independence and gave him two very reasonable replacement words. His response? “I’m using it right, you just need to look deeper into it.”

Listen, motherfucker. I know what you’re trying to say and I’ve been writing about parenting for a long time and doing some parenting intermittently for the last nine years and let me tell you, teaching your child “independence” is not why these kids are turning out delinquents. Mkay?

Alright, now that’s out of my system. 30,000 words as of today, baby.

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Tables Turning

SELIAH’S NOTE:

 

I found this letter to mom when I was helping her pack her things to leave Dad’s house. I had no idea why this woman would write something like this – it didn’t make a lot of sense. Like she and Mom were friends passing a baton or something. It made me really nervous about when mom left. I guessed she didn’t really know where she was going. Looking back, I suppose that’s how it is for all of us. Do any of us ever know exactly where we’re going?

 

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TONI:

 

My first reaction was non-belief. I folded up the letter and stuck it back in its envelope. It was meaningless and held no power over me. Besides, I’d had a love spell done up, and I trusted that there absolutely would be a way for things to work out.

 

The thing about initial reactions is that they’re usually for self protection. I was no different. I wasn’t going to admit to myself that I might be wrong about the plan. There was no way some girl named Maggie could interfere with the connection between me and Harold.

 

So I ignored it. I tucked the letter away and continued with my plans. I focused on being a good mom and wife. If the Universe was going to set this up to test me, then so be it.

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And then there were the days it crushed me. I spent those days in bed or in a hot bathtub. I lit candles and said prayers to my guardian angels, asking that they watch over me while I put one foot in front of the other. The sound of the clock ticking away in the background unnerved me and it usually ended up unplugged or in pieces in the trash bin.

 

But every morning on the following day, I felt that flower of hope pressing against my ribs. I would find a way to make it happen. Maybe not tomorrow, and maybe not even next month. I was convinced I was favored by the gods. I could do this.

 

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The secret to getting through all of it was creation. Now, don’t go calling it a hokey mess, okay? I didn’t know exactly what I was doing or how it would work out, but something deep inside of me convinced me that it would turn up alright for me. I wasn’t the kind of person destined for misery her whole life. That was impossible.

 

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ROY

 

Eventually I came to terms with the idea that my wife was a handful. She was both a hard worker and a passionate artist. She’d given our kids good genes, though, and she really put a lot of effort into being a good mom and wife for a lot of those last years we were together. And boy was she determined.

 

I think that’s where you got that part of your character, Seliah.

 

There wasn’t anything to complain about, really. ‘Course there wasn’t a whole lot of consistency from her, either. I never really knew which person I’d be coming home to: the wife who was totally together and putting forth huge amounts of effort, or the one who didn’t get out of bed that day. Most of the days were pretty good. Sometimes she’d make a killer meal and she loved hearing all of us ooh and ah over it. Some nights she’d show of an amazing pencil drawing or a painted canvas she had put together. It was spectacular – those times. Other times it seemed like everything I said or did was this close to pushing her over the edge into tears. I had no idea what was wrong with her, and I was pretty alright with that. I’d given up trying to figure that woman out years before. She was who she was, and we just made our terms together.

 

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WAITRESS AT THE BREAKFAST DINER

 

Roy? Yeah, I knew him. He came in for breakfast a lot over the years. He was a very decent man and a nice tipper, by golly. He made sure I got a good tip, “To help take care of the boys,” especially around the holidays. What a sweet fella he was to me all those times!

 

He always asked about my kids as they were growin’ up. “Say, how’s that Bobby of yours,” he’d say, or, “Did Petey ever take up baseball like I recommended?” He’d tell me about his two kids, too. Boy, those kids must be all grown up by now.

 

Yeah, it was always Roy there in that booth over on the left wall, see? He had his spot and I made sure to save it for him. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. He came in, lookin’ real nice in his jacket and tie. Handsome fella. I’m not sure why he didn’t ever bring the wife and kids in. Prob’ly he just liked a little quiet time before headin’ in to the office, I reckon.

 

Oooh, girl, but he did come in with a lady once. Not sure who it was, but I wasn’t thinkin’ she looked like she’d had any babies. Didn’t introduce myself to her. She was pretty, but her nose was pretty big. Long dark hair. Very polite. Didn’t talk a whole lot. When was that? I’d have to thinka ‘bout it.

 

Must’ve been 1961, I guess. Bobby’d just tried out for varsity baseball, and he did that his sophomore year. I remember because I was so excited to tell him and then there she was, and I didn’t want to interrupt anythin’. I’d say it must’ve been 1961. Yeah, ‘cause Bobby graduated in ’63 so there ya go. Why? You lookin’ in on Roy for some reason? He was just the nicest man! Here, ya want some more coffee?

 

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TONI

 

As things, go life moves forward bit by bit. Every week that passed led me farther away from that letter and instead of feeling unsure about what the future held, I started thinking maybe things would turn out as a special surprise for me. I didn’t really have to know what the future held. Life has a way of turning all your expectations right upside down, and that was no different for me.

 

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Of course, there were ways you could make things work out in your favor. I hadn’t spent all those last handful of years learning the craft for no reason. In fact, I kept finding every opportunity to get clear on exactly what made me happy, what made me tick, and trying to open up my mind to whatever I could take for the pickings.

Continue reading

Toni has a plan, Maggie drops a bomb

TONI

 

A lot of thinking can be done when you’re alone. When I wasn’t learning from the girls, spending time with the kids, or making sure everything was ready for Roy when he came home at night, I was home, formulating my exit strategy.

 

During the winter months, as I sat with piano keys tolling out beneath my fingertips, I watched my life play out before me. I could catch myself on the porch swing with a cigarette, wondering about those things I didn’t want and figuring out how to create the things I desired. During the summer, I caught myself authoring possible scenes while digging my fingers into the garden soil. Every moment of solitude had me one step closer to the plan.

 

I would save extra money from our household allowance. I would sell my drawings for a tiny sum, and every bit brought me one step closer to being able to break it down for Roy. He’d understand. There’s no way he couldn’t get it. He knew my love for Harold. He knew my soul was tied to someone he wasn’t. He wouldn’t be left alone parenting Seliah this time.

 

It could be such a pleasant break.

 

And on one of those beautiful moments of introspection, a time when I was watching the seasons change from winter to spring right in front of my eyes, the sun shone down and I had this surrendering inside that made it so clear to me. As I sat on the porch swing, smoking a cigarette and contemplating all the places I had been so far, and all of the places I would eventually end up, I know I was doing exactly what I was meant to do. I was paying my tribute to the man who brought me here, who gave me our daughter, who showed me how to live in this foreign land. Roy had been so compassionate to me. He was exactly who I needed to be with when I had hit rock bottom with the drugs and alcohol. He was my safety net.

 

And now that I was doing so well, I knew it was finally time for me to move on to the next chapter. I would be rewarded for finally growing up. Lamar Kevin would meet his real father and Roy and I could raise the kids in two separate homes, and they would have twice as much family to love them.

 

It was like paying penance in the Catholic church, only instead of being driven by guilt and fear, I felt so alive and clear. This life was meant to be beautiful, to be absolutely magnificent, and I was going to end up with the man whose soul I was bound to.

 

The gods would grant us this.

 

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Peace wrapped itself around me. I was overjoyed and overwhelmed and leaned my head back to savor this taste of ecstasy. I would be with Harold again someday soon and every little thing was exactly as it should be. There was so much confidence inside I was sure this was how it felt to be catapulted across the universe.

 

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LETTER FROM MAGGIE TO TONI

 

Dearest Toni,

 

I feel like I know you, and I even think I like you on some level. I’ve heard so many stories and have done everything he’s asked me to so he doesn’t feel so lost without you. That he loved you, I am absolutely certain. You were the best thing that happened to Harold, until me.

 

I know this comes out of the blue, and I’m sorry for that. I don’t think you’ve had any communication with my husband since you left with the baby. Because I know he will never tell you, I thought it appropriate to be fully honest with you. He and I married the spring after you left, maybe four months after you went back to Roy. Harold has been so broken without you and I’ve done everything I can to help him heal. I know it must have hurt you, too, and that’s why I’m telling you all of this. True love like that can carry on for the rest of your life.

 

But I love this man with every ounce of my heart and I promise you I have done and will do anything to make him happy.

 

I’ve been trying to have children so that he doesn’t feel like there’s such a huge gaping hole in his heart without you and your baby. He won’t admit it outright, but I can see how he looks at infants and young children and it’s almost like he is searching for some sort of familiarity or recognition in them. Like he’s hoping to one day come across a stranger’s child and see that it is his after all. Please send me good thoughts as I pray that now, finally, he’ll find a sort of closure being able to have his own child with him every day. I am pregnant, and if I have done my calculations right, we should give birth in May. Please be as overjoyed about this news as we are.

 

You have been such an important person in his life all these years. I’m certain he’ll always hold the memory of you very close to his heart, and I’m sure you feel the same about him. I assure you, I am not jealous of you and instead delight in knowing that both you and Harold had an unspeakably beautiful experience loving each other – because love really is the most joyful feeling a person can have. I want you to know that I’m taking very good care of him now.

 

Please don’t be angry with this letter, Toni. You are very special woman and I think you do understand what it means to give a man the invaluable gift of being a good wife and mother to his children. May you feel comfort knowing that the man you left behind is no longer suffering.

 

My kindest regards to you and your family,

 

Maggie Cason

 

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