He took a cursory look at the damage. Just a paint scratch, really—one that could probably be removed from his back bumper with a little turpentine. Taking a look at the vehicle that had rear-ended him at the street light, he doubted that it had insurance, so it was a good thing that he’d already decided that there was no need to file a claim or to persecute the offender. It would make a good yarn once he got to the office and a perfect excuse for his being late.
“Better stay on the sidewalk after this,” he yelled at the back of the toddler pedaling his toy car quickly away from the scene of the crime, his little friend in the toy patrol car pedaling down the sidewalk after him in pursuit, red light blinking, siren wailing as they rounded the corner.
The prompts for today are yarn, being, cursory, and persecute.
She was more than irritated. Pissed, really, as she thumbed through the dictionary in search of the word. 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.
Fuck! She slammed the dictionary to the floor, picked up the half-smoked cigar he’d left in the ashtray, relit it, took a drag 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 in a frail heap below 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 darted her tongue out to nurse first the paper cut, then 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 e’s. When she’d found the word, “eschatology,” she chuckled and looked back at her lost love. In the letter he had meant for her to read after he had left, he had revealed that their night class in eschatology had led her mother and him to the decision that they must abandon their present lives to join an ashram in India and examine their final destinies. Ironically, she had found that answer for him, at least. She looked up one of the other big words he had used in her “Dear Jane” letter. “Heuristic: a practical method for solving a problem that is not optimal or perfect but sufficient for the immediate goals.” He had hit the nail on the head with that one. It was definitely a word that applied to her present situation, if no longer to his!
This is a rewrite of an essay from three years ago that I had totally forgotten. I’ve altered it to meet today’s three prompt words. A heuristic solution, no?
Concerted: contrived or arranged by agreement; planned or devised together. A concerted effort: done or performed together or in cooperation.
Planning Meeting at the Senior Citizens Center
Has anyone else noticed that it is much harder to make a concerted effort after the age of 65? Plans somehow get skewed, no matter how much harder we try. One person forgets the meeting. Another is ill or merely having an “off day” and can’t get out of the house. Yet another shows up but has forgotten to do the tasks they have agreed to do. Once at the meeting, one or two people can’t hear. Another is dealing with a phone call that has just come in on her cell phone. Two others ignore their calls but either can’t figure out how to turn off their phones or actually don’t hear the drone.
The leader of the meeting keeps forgetting the last word of her sentences, but luckily her friends are accustomed to this and they take turns filling them in for her. When she switches to a power point demonstration, the pictures seem to have turned themselves upside down and the man switching to each new photo has problems coordinating them with the vocal cues.
Several who can’t see move forward to a seat closer to the screen. A man in the front row falls asleep and everyone is distracted watching him as his head bends lower and lower. His next door neighbor wonders at what point she should put an arm out to catch him lest he pitch forward onto the floor.
The meeting seems to go on for longer than usual and at five minute intervals, women work their ways from wherever they are situated in the rows of seats, past the stiff legs of those they must pass on their way to the aisle, trying not to stumble over feet whose owners seem unable to shift them far enough out of the way. Their panicked eyes and the speed with which they move reveal that they have waited a bit too long to begin their journey. This serves as a lesson to several other women who rise and work their way out behind them. As each in the group returns, at least one other audience member stands to work her way out in the same direction. Occasionally, a man just leaves for a short stroll out into the garden. Everyone finds this suspicious.
Neighbors ask neighbors to repeat what was just said. Questions are asked that have already been answered minutes before. Men make suggestions that are widely agreed with, to the chagrin of the women who have made the exact same suggestion earlier in the discussion with no response.
There is a disagreement and one of the participants remembers that it is time to go home to feed her dog. Another person wants to get home before dark. Another has arranged for a taxi that will be there in five minutes.
If you are looking for a daily prompt, try this one. It posts daily, is easy to post your answer on and stays active for a month. The Daily Addictions prompt today is “concerted.”
Stomach, darling, first of all I’d like to tell you how indispensable you are. Literally, you are irreplaceable in my life. Aside from digesting my food, you separate my waist from my chest and keep my belts from straying. You warn me about absolutely revolting subjects as well as food and are handy for nudging ahead in tight crowds.
That said, I need to bring up one large touchy matter. For all the good you do in this world, do you need to be quite so large? Lately, for instance, I’ve watched you extending your territory–venturing out into one plump donut extending around my back. This makes looking at my rear view in the mirror extremely distressing. “I never look at myself in back,” one friend told me years ago, but darling, that had been evident for years–testified to by the tight snarl of hair in the middle of her head.
But I digress. You’re awfully quiet. I’m a bit worried that I might have offended. But, the topic of magnitude of sound being brought up, I’ll continue. Were you aware that you have taken to communicating with me at inopportune times? A small growl after midnight to remind me of today’s brownies hiding in their microwave storage space safe from ants and marauding family members and friends? That’s fine…and probably the real reason you were given a voice in the first place. But that long low rumble increasing in volume in the middle of the significant pause in the dialogue of the movie playing in a hushed movie theater? Totally unacceptable. Other times your voice is uncalled for? At the dentist’s office and in the throes of a long passionate kiss. In teachers’ conferences and at ladies bridge afternoons. No. No. No. You are not invited in this capacity. Yes, digest the margarita, the popcorn or the rich dessert. Comment upon it? No.
That’s it, dear stomach. I appreciate you. I know you are vital to my health and happiness. You provide me with countless pleasures–those pleasures increasing with the years. But, sweet middle of mine, if you could see your way clear to not increasing at a rate commensurate with my pleasures, I would appreciate it very much. Oh. Talking again, I see. And probably not listening. Oh well. I hear your message loud and clear. A pint of triple chocolate extra fudge gelato in the freezer? Well, honey, this time you are speaking my language. No one is around. And it is totally acceptable!
Prose poem For NaPoWriMo’s Early Bird Prompt. Write a love letter to an inanimate object.
OMG, you guys. Daddy slept all morning so I made a fast run to the house to find his reading glasses and pick up some clean underwear. Hold onto your hats, because I have big news. Our old Dad has really cleaned up his act! He got rid of all the empty paper bags and National Geographics. There is space between objects in the refrigerator. You can see the hall walls again. No countless stacks of empty jelly glasses and yogurt cups. No drawers full of used twist ties and rubber bands streaked with carbon from newspapers thrown twenty years ago.
All of the flowerpots with dry cracked soil and the ossified skeletons of plants? Gone, along with their friends the stacks of empty pizza boxes and six packs of beer bottles.No cupboard full of clam chowder. No year’s supply of ketchup stockpiled in the pantry. In the bathroom drawer, just one tube of toothpaste squeezed from the end. No ranks of out-of-date prescription bottles. No shriveled tubes of Preparation H.
Mama’s clothes are finally gone from the closet. Her dusty doilies, vanished from every surface in the house. No mismatched socks and wrenches in his bedroom drawers.
How did this come about? Impossible to say as he still hasn’t come to after his surgery, but if I were to assay the probabilities, I’d say a woman might be involved. There is a vase of flowers in his hospital room and a container of homemade soup in the little fridge beside his bed. His hair looks newly cut and his nostril hairs are not in evidence. All presentable underwear in the valise I packed for him and sis, his jockeys are in shades of maroon, navy blue and rust brown!!! No more untidy whities. No more undershirts with holes in them. It’s like they operated on his whole life, not just his appendix. Removed every dusty, tattered, useless, outgrown part of him and plopped down a new father in his place.
Oops.. gotta run soon. The nurse just said he has another visitor. Not a family member, but the one who admitted him to the hospital last night at midnight. The one who left the key to his house for me. They say only one visitor at a time, so guess I’ll have to leave when she gets here. Door opening. She’s coming in the door! I’ll call you from the car.
(After a ten minute lapse, the phone rings again.)
Okay. You guys? Are you all there? Sit down, will you? All sitting down? A slight modification. Make that a he who came in the door!
The prompt word today is assay.
I just asked Siri how to spell faux pas and my iPhone and computer both answered in chorus–perfectly synched. I’d ask them how to spell synched, but I’m afraid they’d get in a fight.