Living Life #20 "How Far"

(a collection of independent vignettes)

Photo by Eugene Triguba on Unsplash

Jenna didn’t know how this night was going to go.

Headlights appeared over the bend of the hill. Glaring and warning they careened off the low hanging branches of the trees and the concrete cracks in the road. When they reached the tombstones Jenna ducked low. But only when they reached the tombstones.

“I’m sick of doing this at night.” she hissed to the weeping statue of an angel next to her.

The angel answered, “As if we can do this in bright daylight.” Or at least it had the appearance of such before Jared stepped out into the dark. Dirt up to his knees, boots scuffed to his socks, and a scowl to scare a bear away. Her brother needed to take a chill pill.

“Well…” she drawled. “There have been dealings before when the sun was up too, ya know…”

“Yeah, as well as the rest of the world.” He pulled a pack from his pocket and in the next breath there was a cigarette already up and lit and in his mouth.

“People visit cemeteries.” Jenna argued haughtily.

“Not private ones…” Smoke snaked up into the night. “when they don’t have permission.” His footsteps made barely a sound as they crossed the grass over to her.

“Are you sure this one’s information is good?”

“We can trust him. He’s not one to go back on his word, and besides…” he flicked an ash at the fresh mound of earth next to the angel. “our end of the bargain is done.”

“My end.” Jenna looked down at her own hands, all smudged and grungy, and she wondered when the last time her fingernails had actually been clean. “You really shouldn’t smoke.”

Another set of headlights rolled down the road, only this time they scoped slow and steady, and eventually stopped as the bright shine hit the marble of the tombs. Finally.

Jared took a long drag, and responded, “It’s not like it can hurt me.”

Right now.” she hissed.

Jenna didn’t know how this night was going to go. What she did know was how far she would go. No matter how much they bickered, no matter how different their attitudes or ways of dealing with the world she knew how far she would go for her brother.

All the damn way. And back, if she had to.

As the man emerged from his car, Jenna came out of her hiding spot.

“I didn’t think you would actually come alone.” The gruff man barked, his headlights illuminating the slop on his shirt and the acne on his neck.

Jenna hardened her jaw. She was told that whenever she was in a bad mood that she scowled just like her brother. “I keep my word.” Jared took two pointed steps forward, though Jenna knew her brother was protective there was no way for him to protect her now.

At least not until this man told her what she needed to get him back from the other side. “Now you keep yours.”

Living Life #19 "Eggnog"

(a collection of independent vignettes)

Photo by Drew Coffman on Unsplash

She could see the bottom of the glass once again. Twirling it in her hand, the bare remnants of froth shifted from one side to the other. It looked like the melted snow outside, when in reality it was the dregs of a third glass of eggnog.

“Poor me.” she laughed. Unsteady and a little sick, the woman rose from the armchair by the dying fire. Its crackling was almost silent since it was now midnight. First a chair and then the table got in her path but through determination and reckless luck she made her way back to the counter where the punch bowl was waiting.

One ladle, two ladles, and another half. Now her glass was full once again.

Even though she was not.

“Merry Christmas to me.” she breathed, and downed the fourth glass. Maybe this time it would fill her up.

Living Life # 18 "Decorating The Tree"

( a collection of independent vignettes)

The tree was taller than she was. Green as the forest in summer beyond her backyard and as prickly as the thorns on the dead bouquet in the vase on the counter. Tooth and nail it dragged through the back door leaving a trail of needles like gingerbread cookie crumbs right to the far corner of the living room. It did not come easy, but she didn’t back down. Not even as she had to hoist it into the stand with only minimal help from the wall.

A stepladder was necessary for the lights, and even though there was no one there to help she took her time. The stool danced around the wood floor and the lights were placed string by string until it was her feet waltzing around the ground instead. The cord was gently plugged in and then the house seemed a little brighter, the fir now lit up like a star. The tree warmed up to her a bit then. But only just a bit.

The red beads were next, and then the gold tinsel. The tree certainly wasn’t going to bend for her but she didn’t need it too. She rose to meet it again and again, and swayed around and around. The fire in the background crackled and snarled but it was only empty threats. The light emanating from the small space was too golden and too warming to be anything but a sarcastic friend. Being inside, the tree realized, was a lot different than being outside. A little more snug and a little less lonely.

It paid no mind to the silver bells she planted along its branches, and the red ornaments felt as light as air as if they were barely there. The rest that were piled on were mismatched and worn. A little blue sled with the year 1982 scribbled on the bottom, a fading snowman with two buttons missing, eight bronze deer then four gold ones and a rocking horse no bigger than her palm. Before long all the spaces were filled and instead of feeling weighted and tired the tree noticed the perk to its branches in the mirror across the room. Maybe it should have been a little nicer to her on the way in. She had plucked it out of the solitude of the harsh winter wind, gifted it a steady stream of water and shelter, then given it decorations to cloth and adorn it. The tree liked her a bit more than it had before, making its emotions swell now to twice what they had been.

A drop of sweat like a melted snowflake slid down her temple, and the tree could see she was tired. She absently moved to put her hand down on the end table nearby and the tree wanted to warn her but it had no mouth to speak.

When the glass shattered, it was loud. The wit of the fire was drowned, and the glow of white lights on the tree’s branches left her eyes. Quietly, the young woman bent down and as she kneeled careful of the broken bits, she looked much smaller than she had when she originally hauled the tree in. More like a girl, left alone in a house, with a few modest lights and threadbare ornaments that really didn’t matter much if one thought about it, unless they were reflected in her eyes.

The picture was face up on the floor, but in the shadow of where the lights couldn’t reach. Piece by piece and sliver by sliver she picked the edges up, cupping her hand to her chest. The picture, still in the frame, was last. Another tiny snowflake ran down her cheek, but the tree knew there were was no sky above their heads. She took a deep breath and in the next moment she rose and walked away. A minute passed, and then two. The tree wondered if maybe it should have at least tried to warn her, though it had no means to speak words. But then, she came back. And she wasn’t alone.

There was petite angel cupped in her hands where the glass had just been.

The stool made its return, and with the fire cackling quietly in the background, she rose one step then another. Even then though she could barely reach the top. An inch more of height and everything would have been okay. She didn’t have that inch though, so the tree gave her the inch instead.

With all its might it buckled its trunk and the young woman stretched her toes until finally then the angel was set on top. Blonde hair, white gown, a happy mouth and golden wings graced the room.

The young woman stepped down from the stool, and that’s when tree liked her most of all with the lights in her eyes, the fir needles in her hair and the angel in her smile.

Living Life #17 “________”

(a collection of independent vignettes)

Tick, tock.

You stare at it. The longer you look the more it looks back into you.

The more you start to hate yourself for all the time you are wasting. And have wasted in the long, endless days before.

All the research and all the work and long nights, and eons spent typing away at the computer. all. for. nothing.

Because everything you had written, you now hate. And so you are back at the beginning again.

The dreaded blank page.

And time is rushing by.

Tick, tock.

Living Life # 16 “Spelled.”

(a collection of independent vignettes)

Bubble bubble toil and trouble…

Cassie spread the the pages of the tome out before her. It was easier to read the handwritten scribbles and see the crawling illustrations this way. They scattered across the page and in the dusk light, almost seemed to be moving with a word jumping a few lines here or the picture of the lemon going fuzzy and then rapidly going into focus again. After she lit the three candles, it got better. The dust was a different issue.

The book had not been touched in over twenty five years, Cassie was sure. It had been her grandmother’s a long time ago. She had passed it onto Cassie’s mother and then she had passed it to the attic where it sat long and lonely for a quarter of a century. At least till it had found its way onto the kitchen table right now. Every time Cassie flipped a page, a cloud went up, a cough rattled her throat and the dust clung to wood of the table in tiny finger prints.

So she began by lighting the sage. A small bowl, the bundle of herbs and a match that burst and then died. Then that was complete. It filled the room with a rush of scent, earthy and natural, taking over the air and it wasn’t long before the dust was forgotten.

Looking at the tome was like reading a manual for building a chair or a recipe for pumpkin cookies. All that needed to be done, now that she could see and breathe, was follow the steps.

Bubble bubble toil and trouble…

The pot of boiling water on the stove was starting to salivate, the water sputtering out in rabid little pops. Lifting the lid she tossed in a sprig of rosemary, then another. The water simmered down, satisfied for the moment. At least until Cassie threw in the frankincense and myrrh. Together the words ordered, so as to help the reach of her little cooking stint. A dash of salt for safety, a bunch of roses for attraction, and then the clove to keep the whole thing tightlipped from the world. Or at least her mother.

Rubbing her hands together Cassie stirred the contents and a gray smoke cloaked the room mingling with the sage burning on the counter.

Bubble bubble toil and trouble…

Now only a few bits left to add, then the incantation.

Bubble bubble
toil and trouble

dusky air,
lock of hair

leaves of rose,
two blue bows

a ghost’s kiss,
a snake’s hiss
the pretty things
you shouldn’t miss.

On this eve
meet my need.


Help to find
a steady mind

to guide me through
this witch’s brew

To see the past
understand at last
the hidden truth
my question asked

and granted answer
to become advancer

and much more clear
in the way of seer
. “

The candles went out like a sigh. All was quiet. Even the night outside was still… all except for her heart which stuttered for a beat, then two. What did she do? Had it worked?

Cassie didn’t feel any wiser. Or, any less confused. Maybe her suspicion had been wrong and Grandmother hadn’t been a witch at all…

A purple spark jumped from her fingers lighting the room in a flash, then another. Cassie held up her hands and stared. Again, her hands sparked, brighter this time, because she was aware. It danced like a little beam of static across her palms, and then back.

“Cassie…” called her mother from upstairs. “how you doing Sweetie?”

“Magical Mom.” she smirked. “Just magical.”

A pause, then “Are you being sarcastic?”

Cassie shook her head and called out, “No!” Then quietly to herself, “Not this time.” She clenched her fists but the purple flickers remained.

Bubble bubble toil and trouble…