Friday Fiction – Up In Smoke

A writing prompt came across my Reader this morning called, “Friday Fiction” – the brain child adopted child of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields over at Addicted To Purple.   The photo prompt immediately caught my attention – I’m a lover of all things vintage – and prompts are a great way to get the juices flowing, creative or otherwise.

The idea is to use the photo as inspiration for an original story, 100 words or less.  So here it is, my first contribution to Friday Fiction: “Up In Smoke”.  It came in at exactly 100 words, but only after culling some I really wanted to keep.  LOL

antique-deskPhoto Credit:  Photo by Jan Wayne Fields, Rochelle’s husband

Gazing at her grandfather’s desk, Neeley remembered the man who once occupied it’s chair for hours pouring over the numbers he meticulously kept on his tobacco crops.

Once so familiar and beloved, with his ink stained fingertips, twinkling green eyes and the smell of smoke that clung to him, Richard Jamestone was now a complete stranger.

When she stumbled upon three journals hidden in the attic, Neeley thought she had discovered a treasure.  Her heart lept at the thought of learning more about this man who was so kind and gentle with her.

What she discovered instead was murder.

When The Wild Things Cry

It sounded like a young coyote.  The yaps and wails and howls were heart wrenching, even at 4 a.m.  I got up out of bed to peer through my window.  Was it trapped in someone’s yard?  Was it injured?  How had it gotten separated from the rest?

The light from the Super Moon had everything lit up like the Vegas strip, and I looked for a pack roaming the neighborhood.  My ears strained to hear answering calls from the hills not more than a couple blocks away.  Surely,  Mom or Dad would be taking soundings to get a handle on his location, and come to the rescue.

With the heat, the drought and some new construction nearby, I know the animals are roaming further into the ‘hood at night looking for unsuspecting cats or small canines to call dinner.  But that sound! The pitch and the almost human cadence of this coyote’s howls were like a 911 call begging for HELP!

On and off for an hour I listened, wondering…hoping…feeling distressed for this wild thing so obviously in trouble.

And then, I heard it.

Angry…curt….MALE.  “Shut UP!”

Wait, WHAT???

You are kidding me, right?

All that ruckus – all that ANGST I was feeling (at 4 o’clockinthefuckingmorningthankyouverymuch) –  was nothing more than the neighbors dog whining because Joe Loud Mouth put it in the garage?

It’s going to be a long day.



WHAT Did You Say?


I had a Moment this morning.

Having opted to do some meditation and journaling over walking before work (by 6:30, I had already done a couple loads of laundry, ironed 6 shirts for The Man, and watered the garden), I wanted to sit for a bit and prepare my heart for the day.

The candles were lit on either side of my bed.  My steno pad and pen, and one of my favorite decks (Denise Linn’s, “Gateway”) were at my fingertips.  Sitting cross-legged, propped up against the headboard,  I looked for something on one of my YouTube channels that would help set the mood.  When I got there, I had “suggested” channels of some wonderful meditation music over at TheHonestGuys.  Why, I haven’t a clue…this isn’t something that I normally d…but I dialed in one of the pieces that included water sounds, set the volume to low, then sat back to take a few deep breaths.

Maybe 5, 6 in, I could feel calm pour over me like warm honey. Muscles I didn’t realize I was clenching softened along with my gaze, and I went about clearing my mind of all the chatter.  It helps that it’s a cool, overcast morning, and the view from my bedroom window includes lots of trees, hills and sky.

In that clear space, Mom popped up.

Not a huge surprise, as I’m making meatloaf and mac n’ cheese (both long time family favorites we do from scratch, Southern style)  to take to her on Sunday.  She’s super excited!  Even though we planned my trip a week ago, and even though I do something with her every few weeks, the last-minute addition of my husband makes this trip more special.  My mom has always enjoyed spending time in the company of men, and she loves my husband.  They are two Libran peas in a pod, and in some ways, share more in common than Mom and I.  Things like Right Wing Conservatism, and needing to weigh EVERY decision for eternity, and having to deal with me. *grin*

Anyway, in this meditative state, I see and hear her in my mind very vividly.  She’s looking stern and a little aggressive around the eyes, as she tends to from time to time.  She’s saying something like “You don’t know a thing about it, so don’t you tell me what I should do!”…a discussion argument fight discussion we’ve had a number of times, especially in recent years with her declining health and solitary lifestyle.

But then, I saw her again..  NOT as the Angry Mom .  This time in a more detached way.  I saw her as an aging human with a lifetime of experiences, memories and thoughts that are completely her own.  A fellow traveler who didn’t want others to define her experiences for her, or to define HER, at the most personal level.

And THAT is when I had A Moment.  Suddenly, I could totally relate to her!  Just like that, rather than getting frustrated (my typical response when trying to reason with Mom about something we don’t see eye-to-eye on), a flood of compassion washed over me. My eyes filled with tears, I hung my head, and wept.

For the first time, I understood.

I recently went through an experience with my brother.  This was only the second time we had  seen each other this year, and he lives 15 miles away.  As you might guess, we’re not particularly close.

We were sitting in a bar, catching up over cocktails with a cousin we hadn’t seen in 30 years.  There were the requisite stories of our families, and growing up and what our lives are like now.  My brother suddenly says, “ You’ve been  more contemplative in the last five years”, and I…well… I got seriously prickly over it. Before I even realized what I was saying, I turn to him and spit, “How would you know what I’m like?  I see you twice a year on holidays!”.

Ugh! Even though I couldn’t see myself, I know that my forehead and eyes were all scrunched up in that “Are you fucking kidding me right now??”  way I’ve been known to get.

A little over the top, right?  It’s not like he insulted me.  He didn’t say, “Oh wow, Sis!  Packed on a few pounds, have we?  Sure you want some chips?” or anything like that.  No, he just made an observation.

The weird thing is, he wasn’t wrong!  I am contemplative…and maybe more so, at least out loud, in the last few years with Mom’s situation and my own Time Clock ticking away.  The truth is, I got pissy over the time frame: “the last five years”.  He said it with such authority.  With such knowing.

I was born a deep thinker.  My first recollection of communing with the Divine, I was maybe 10 years old and I spent my teen years reading the likes of Rod McKuen , Jack Kerouac and Leo Busaglia.  I’ve been into spirituality and “self help” and psychology and philosophy forever, have journaled my deepest thoughts since I was 12, and have been blogging about a good number of them for a decade.

I realized this morning that the “real” reason I got upset with my brother is that our blood connection didn’t matter a bit.  Here was a guy who, in many ways, I don’t even like and with whom I rarely speak.  And HE was telling me who I was?!?

As I’m reliving this conversation in my head, I imagine myself saying what I wanted to him then that I didn’t:



“Do NOT tell me who I am!”


…. I have a feeling this Sunday – and whatever else time I have left with my Mom – is going a be lot different.