musings of a lover… of … yes… that, too…

Archive for January, 2013

Down from Heaven: Uncle (3rd Installment)

She had decided that it would be the very last time she called the number. Angela had insisted that she keep trying. “He won’t answer immediately,” she whimpered. “But he will. And I need my uncle.” She had wanted to call the child’s parents, but since she wouldn’t give her full name and the only number she would surrender was her uncle’s, she had no choice. The doctor wouldn’t treat her without parental consent. She had no such consent. And now, standing in the foyer of the emergency room, she was getting irritated at the one person the child insisted had to be there. “Pick up the damn phone!” she whispered under her breath. “Pick it up!” 

John sat by his bed in the overstuffed maize colored chair. It was his favorite from growing up and the only thing he had insisted on inheriting when his mother died. All the other children split the fine china, the antiques, and the two million dollar policy they were surprised to learn about at the reading of her will. He told them to keep his portion and divide it among themselves. The lawyer raised her eyebrow ever so slightly as she explained in a monotone that he would have to sign an affidavit and get it notarized in order for them to take his quarter of the money and give it to his siblings. He had already anticipated her response and had brought his own attorney and a notarized statement surrendering any and all effects left to him, to be divided among his siblings and their children as allowed by law. He had already told his sisters that he only wanted the chair. Sitting here now, he waited once again for the phone to stop vibrating. He had looked at it each time, and had not recognized the number. He waited for the person on the other line to actually listen to his message instead of merely hanging up when the message center picked up. “Idiot,” he thought. “You can find out you have the wrong number if you just listen to the message.” He turned his thoughts back to the comfort of his chair and the latest collection of Alice Walker essays, “Living by the Word.” Running his fingers over book spines in Book Lover’s Haven, the title had caught his attention. He wrote, but had not yet figured out how to live by what he wrote and hoped there would be a hint, an inspiration in the volume that would help lead him.

She walked back into the emergency bay where Angela was curled into a fetal position with four blankets thrown over her. Even so the child shivered as if she were naked in a snow blizzard. Her heart hurt for the baby. “Honey, he still hasn’t answered. Please give me the name of someone else to call. Or I’m going to call the principal at the school to come identify you so we can get you some help.” Her own desperation was talking over. Almost in concert The Voice and the little girl said, “No!” She shivered, but not from cold. “Please try one more time,” Angela said. “He’s there. He’ll answer this time.” She sighed, some out of frustration, some out of compassion, but mostly out of unbelief. Thirty minutes of nonstop calling did not give her hope that this time would be a charm.

He put the book down and closed his eyes to imagine himself at a reading from his own novel and a book signing. He saw himself smiling as his sisters and their children lined the walls, watching him with admiration. He caught Angela’s eye and winked. She was his favorite niece, the child he never had. He was more than uncle to her and, holding her when she was five as she cupped his face, he promised her with the earnestness that she demanded that he would never leave her. This promise felt more covenant than anything he had ever said in his life, and he had meant it. In this reverie, she looked intently at each person that approached him and either approved or not. She had his attention even as he signed books, but…

The phone interrupted his daydream. He looked again. It was that number again. He decided this time to tell the person how much of an idiot he thought she or he was.

“Hello, you crazy person,” he answered the phone with the irritation and sarcasm he felt. She was taken aback and paused. “Well. You’ve been calling for the past 30 minutes. What’s wrong? You realize you’re an idiot when I answered the phone.” He was amused at the silence on the other end. “I, I… I’m calling for your niece Angela.” She didn’t know how to respond to his rudeness. But she knew Angela needed her not to give a damn about his phone manners in that moment.

“What?!? What’s wrong? Who is this? Where is Angela?!” he asked with rapid fire cadence as he reached for his keys and his coat. “WHERE is my NIECE?” he screamed.

“Angela is going to be okay. She’s at Mercy Hospital and asked for you.” The phone clicked off. She knew the rude uncle was on his way and she would have to meet him. She wanted to calm down before she did because right now, in that bed crying was a little girl who needed them both. The Voice had insisted.

Down from Heaven: A Voice (2nd installment)

She expected to hear a voice when she prayed.

Sometimes, the Voice sounded like her. Sometimes indistinguishable from hers. Sometimes it sounded like a man, maybe her dad. But when she sit still after making her requests known the Voice would speak. And never cryptic, even if she didn’t understand its meanings. “Go to the playground at King Elementary,” the Voice had said in prayer. Never why. Or what to look for. Only this instruction.

She crosses Jackson Street, then Hawk’s Down. She had never paid attention to Hawk’s Down Street. Who named it that? She imagined the hawk that must have landed down just in front of the person who named it. She made up a whole story about the naming of the street. Lost in that story, she missed her turn onto Douglass Avenue and had to circle back around. Then the growing since of excitement as she approached King Elementary. She was scared but didn’t know why. She was keenly aware that she was being led to something serious. The Voice returned. “STOP!” She wasn’t accustomed to a shout; it was usually a whisper. She was startled and so stopped abruptly, causing the driver in the car behind her to swerve and curse. She waved her left hand in an apology, but from the frown and expletives she could tell it was not accepted it. Oh, well, she thought.

She parked to collect herself. “Look at the swings,” the Voice said. She squinted, trying to take in the landscape. Oh, the swings were behind the slide. She got out of the car and started walking. The dread in her stomach got heavier. She squinted harder as she walked toward a little girl on the swings, clasping the mettle links and sobbing. Her heart quickened with her footstep.

“Oh, baby,” she said, as she scooped the child into her arms.

(January 5, 2013 installment posted late)

Inventory

The New Year always tempts me to take inventory, to see how I’ve come on the things I promised I would do. And usually, I am extremely dismayed at my inconsistencies. It’s the usual list: did I lose the weight I wanted to lose? Did I exercise as much as I intended? Did I drink water? Sleep well? Did I make amends with the people with whom I am estranged? Did I nourish my older friends? Make new ones? Have I lived in balance? I’m very personally satisfied with how the answers land to most of these questions. So, while I’ll probably continue to “take inventory,” I’ve decided to try something new. I’m going to try making a decision in the morning and assessing how I did at the end of the day. If I’ve over-committed, then I’ll reassess for the next day. I’m going to try not beating myself up. Tomorrow, I may decide to combine my two blogs into one. But I’ll decide that… tomorrow.

 

(Late January 6, 2013 post)

The Down from Heaven (working title) Novel

You should see your face, he says. He stands over the stove scrambling eggs and her mind at the same time. She never knows what he’s gonna say that will make her head hurt. This time it’s a simple thing. He say: people don’t like you like you think they do.

What fascinates her is that she never thought people liked her at all.

He says, People just know you’re gullible like any jackleg preacher. He snorts laughter as he lifts the steamy eggs on a plate next to the toast and hands it to her. The butter has congealed on the cold toast. She wants to warm it up or toast another piece. Instead she puts the eggs on it with strawberry jam and folds the bread over. He puts sliced cantaloupe on the table, then a glass of pulp-filled orange juice. He has a system whenever he makes her breakfast and in all the years they’ve sit at this table looking out the back window over the garden, he has never broken the ritual. She knows the hot coffee and a glass of cold water will follow in five minutes. That is the way eleven years of breakfasts that he cooked always proceeded.

I want to be who my reputation says I am

I have come to this morning praying and meditating and resolved to live into this day by being impeccable with my words, not taking it (any “it”) personally, not making assumptions, and doing my best, whatever that is today. I awakened aware of my own sins, foibles, frailties, and faults. I am not despondent, only resolved to be the woman I dream about and the one my bio and reputation says I am, that is, to live with integrity. Love is my calling card. I want that love will infuse me this day from inside out and that I will wear right action and behavior, love’s most glorious garments. I lean into this life, praying with my feet and my actions. God help me, is my earnest prayer. The human project continues.

Making Decisions

Making a decision to write something. Anything. Today.

Done.