The Vocabulary Lesson


The seven-word prompt was to make use of as many of these words as possible in a short piece: knickers, oneiric, cigar, shenanigans, cold-cocked, finish and sun-dried. You needn’t check.  I used all of them. The November writing prompt was “Lipstick Lover.”

The Vocabulary Lesson

She was more than irritated. Pissed, really, as she thumbed through the dictionary in search of the word “oneiric.” Any word that needed to be looked up didn’t belong in a “Dear Jane” letter anyway—as though to the very end he was trying to demonstrate his superiority—her inferiority.

BASTARD! She slammed the dictionary to the floor, picked up the half-smoked cigar he’d left in the ashtray last night, relit it and surveyed the new paper cut on her index finger. Just one more of his shenanigans, she thought. Right after he’d cold-cocked her with the news that he and she were finished—that he was leaving her FOR HER MOTHER!!!!!!, he’d lit up his Cubano for one more puff before grinding it out and handing her this letter, telling her not to open it until he’d gone.

His finish had been pretty much like their beginning—with him ending up on the floor. But this time she was standing over him rather than lying on top of him. Idly, she flicked an ash into his open mouth, hitting him squarely on his tongue. The sun-dried blood on his lip looked like the smudge of a lover’s lipstick. Around his head were the remains of the crystal candlestick her mother had given them for their wedding.  She sucked at the paper cut, then at the gash across her palm that she had gotten from a shard of the candlestick that had taken a far smaller part out of her than it had out of him.

Far away in the kitchen, the phone rang and rang. Probably her mother. Well, let her get her knickers in a bunch waiting for him. Let her think (for as long as she could put off coming to investigate) that her daughter had reclaimed her property. She was in possession for now and everyone knew possession was 9/10ths of the law. She took another long draw before examining her wounds again.

Then, her curiosity getting the better of her, she moved back to the dictionary to thumb through the o’s. When she’d found the word, she chuckled and looked back at her lost love. Gone from this world, but no one would ever know it if she just shut his jaw and wiped off the bloodstain. As a matter of fact, he’d look downright oneiric!


The Nov. 8 Nov. Writing Prompt is Lipstick Lover.

11 thoughts on “The Vocabulary Lesson

  1. koolkosherkitchen

    I didn’t know you were into melodrama, Judy! I hear Verdi’s music in the background. Well-crafted and amusing, and I’d guess I am one of the few who didn’t have to ask Mr Google for “oneiric,”as I have been taught oneirology at a very early age. My grandmother was a phenomenal dream teller.


    1. lifelessons Post author

      I kept dream journals for years and was once quite good, I think, at dream interpretation. I went to a meeting of Jung enthusiasts and Jungian psychologists and one analyst thought I was an analyst as well. I think anyone working with symbols through writing and art is bound to have a natural affinity toward Jung and dream images. Forgottenman has incredible dreams and remembers and tells of them. I love this as I forget mine unless I write them down immediately, which I never do anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. koolkosherkitchen

        According to my grandmother, one must look out a window before telling dreams to other people, otherwise unpleasant things might happen. Thanks to her, my head is chock-full of all kinds of old wives’ magic.


      2. lifelessons Post author

        What are some others? My mother always threw spilled salt over her left shoulder. So do I to this very day. She also never let us go different ways around the same object. If we came to a pole in the middle of a sidewalk, both needed to go around the left side of it or the right side..not to do so meant an argument. We also never walked under ladders. I have never walked under a ladder in my entire life.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. koolkosherkitchen

        Yes to the pole thing. A pinch of salt should be thrown over the threshold of a new dwelling before you step into it, and you step over all thresholds right foot first, always. Salt should also be thrown into all corners of a new dwelling, even a temporary one, before furniture and personal belongings are moved in. As to different ways, never return the same way you started out walking (she specifically mentioned that it didn’t apply to any kind of transportation, but only walking). To this day, I say a blessing before cooking or baking every dish for Sabbath and holidays; she, however, blessed every dish every day. This does not apply to uncooked food. We sit down before starting on a journey and get up with a blessing. It’s a very long list, Judy, including cursing (which she admonished me not to do) and removal of curses from others. Supposedly, one is not able to remove them from self, but should be able to recognize the effects. For lack of qualified assistance in that calamity, charity and/or good deeds also turn the trick.


      4. lifelessons Post author

        Wow.. your life is harder than mine. We also had a superstition that wishing aloud for something would change your luck..i.e. not to mention something you wanted to happen for fear of making it not happen. Although I don’t think my mother had a superstition regarding black cats, just to be sure, I turn around if one crosses my path. I would never not have a black cat for this reason..I’ve just never had a stray black cat appear, which is how I’ve obtained all 12 cats of my lifetime. Just realized my next cat will be my 13th. Oh oh. Another superstition.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. koolkosherkitchen

        Not wishing out loud is in the Talmud, so it’s not a superstition. Black cats, especially male black cats, are usually extremely attached to their humans and very affectionate, as I can attest, and so can you, I am sure. Thus, in the Middle Ages they were perceived as witches’ familiars, hence the superstition. My husband calls our black cat “Dolly’s familiar.” People tend to freak out when they see him (cat, not husband) grooming my eyelashes or whispering in my ear. We don’t have any number superstitions; instead, we have Gematria, which is a sophisticated method of substituting and calculating Hebrew letters that are also numbers. For instance, we usually make donations or give monetary gifts in multiples of 18 which means “life.”


      6. lifelessons Post author

        I knew that numbers had special significance in Hebrew but never understood how this worked. I have no repugnance for or fear of black cats but just take the precaustion of not letting them cross my path. Ha.

        Liked by 1 person

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