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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Blessing in Disguise(part 1) will continue after edited

It is a dark and stormy night. The restaurant sits in hushed silence waiting for the impending storm. A dimly-lit light blinks on and off on the open sign. A waitress sighs from the day's workload as she cleans off the tables for any customers that need a place to dry off and just sit a spell. Rubbing her forehead where a headache had been screaming its protest , she grimaces. The restaurant is quaint but comforting. The booths are not of the finest quality but the service is genuinely friendly.
It was passed down through her Grandpa who first opened the place. He was a nice, friendly fellow who always had a cheerful smile to greet the many customers and a willing ear to listen to a customer's complaints or sorrows. He worked right alongside his granddaughter and her mother. He had opened the restaurant when he was in his late 20's and had continued the business even after he got married. His newlywed happily joining him and cooking her best recipes made the restaurant flourish with her cheerful countenance and sweet personality. They were a happy couple so much in love even when hard times fell. His wife's name was Rosie and they had met at college. Rosie was studying to be a teacher and he was studying to be a business major. They met at a college get together at a mutual friend's house. Their mutual friend's name was John, a highschool friend of both Rosie and George. Soon after they become reacquainted they started dating and not to soon after George proposed. Rosie cheerfully accepted and so began there life as newlyweds. George was the organized businessman and Rosie was the flamboyant energetic kid. Together, they were a great team.
"Rosie, honey, would you mind baking a few more of those delicious fruit pies. We have some important guests visiting tonight. Of course, dear. I do not mind a bit. Who are these important guests coming? "The Senator and his wife." George answered.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ancient Song

As the last kiss of night waltzes
with dawn’s light across the melancholy
sky, shimmering fog hovers, masking
the forest eternal in blanketed silence.

A blur crosses visual periphery as one denizen
of this wild abode sneaks homeward from nightly
revel. No populace, no towering concrete nor steel.

No overrun of vehicular smog, no noise, just still
surround. Above, a canopy of wild green dripping
condensate; below, leaf pack muffling this visitor’s
progress and behind, solitary footprints. Ahead,

a tunnel leads to a secret place. Glimmering light
guides this seeker through encompassing woods,
each step one closer to a singular miracle. Sudden

arrival stutters the breath into a duet with the soughing
breeze rippling all around. My sanctuary, nature's chapel,
a grove of old ones encircles a clearing, a woodland
garden ablaze, a firestorm in red, and a stream singing

an ancient song to guide this seeker home.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Aftermath

Conceived in hate, birthed in terror,
thousands died; everyday ordered lives
tumbled down, disintegrating
into corruption-tainted shards leaving
only sorrow-storms, hollowed hearts
and shattered trust

2 billion watched this Nation’s
innocence destroyed; bore witness
while our tattered dreams fell
amongst the smoke and rubble,
now haunted by the never-to-be forgotten;
co-joined survivors living the aftermath

Thursday, September 10, 2009

For the Love of Lily

Perfect timing, she thought. The sun had just appeared above the horizon. It looked like a big, golden Chinese lantern arising from the dark waters to light the day. The sky was dressed in multi-color stripes hovering over an ocean that looked like a sheet of midnight glass. “Yeh, nothing like a little purple prose to start the day,” she said.

She focused her camera, double-checking the settings and exposures.

“That should be a good one,” she mumbled.

“Excuse me?” a male voice asked.

“Jeezus! Give me a heart attack, why don’t you?” The man had just popped in behind her like some ghost in a horror movie. “Hey, you are real, aren’t you?” she asked.

“Excuse me?”

Well, he has a nice voice even if his timing sucks she thought.  “Don’t you know you shouldn’t sneak up behind someone? You might get socked, or something,” she said.

“I didn’t sneak anywhere. I was just walking my dog.”

She slowly turned in a circle before raising her eyebrows in question. “Your dog? Is he a ghost?”

“What is this fascination you have with ghosts? There are no such thing as ghosts.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really.”

“Okay, if it makes you happy to believe that, go for it.”

“It does, because it’s fact.”

“Okaaay then, where’s your dog?”

“Say what?”

“Your dog. The one you said you were walking. I don’t see any dog, so I just thought he must be a ghost. I guess he could be a figment of your imagination, but I don’t really know you well enough to declare you crazy.”

“Let me get this straight. If I said I had a ghost dog, I wouldn’t be crazy, but if I said that the dog was a figment of my imagination, I would?”

“Yeh.” When he made a noise that was somewhat of a cross between a growl and horribly-put-upon sigh, she laughed.

“Do you know my father?”

“WHAT?”

“If you had accompanied that noise with rolling eyes, you would have perfectly imitated him. I didn’t know anyone else actually made that kind of sound.”

“I understand his pain,” he mumbled.

“I heard that! Yeesh, clone-alert.” She turned back to check her equipment, examining the image captured on the LCD. “EEEEEEEEEEEE!”

“What? What’s wrong?”

“YOU MADE ME MISS MY SHOT!”

“Is that all? God, I thought something bit you, or stung you, or . . .”

“Is that all?”

“Well, there’s always another sunrise, isn’t there?”

“Now, I know you must be a long, lost relative on my father’s side of the family.”

“Huh?”

“There’s always another sunrise. It’s not like it’s a real job,” she responded. “Isn’t that what you mean?” As she spoke, her shoulders hunched and her face scrunched into a sneer.

“Well, …”

“I’ll have you know, this is my job. I’m a professional photographer.”

“A professional? You mean you get paid to take photographs?”

“Yeh, that’s right. Don’t know what to say now, do you. It’s different when there’s money involved, isn’t it? Yes, I get paid to take photographs. I have a contract with a publisher for a book that I’m finishing, and I display at several galleries.”

“Galleries. You mean like an artist? Well, I guess that explains the ghost thing then.”

“Oh, because I’m an artist, I’m a flake?”

“You said it, I didn’t.”

“Well, I’m not the one walking an invisible dog.”

“She’s not invisible.”

“Really, because I still don’t see any sign of her. Perhaps I was too hasty in deciding your mental faculties are intact.”

“She’s not invisible. She’s just exploring.” He placed two fingers in his mouth and shrilled out a whistle.

“Well?”

He whistled again then turned toward what sounded like a horse at full gallop coming from the other side of the dune.

As the animal crested the dune, she said, “Oh. My. God. What on earth is that?”

He glanced at her long enough for her to see the slight smile on his face, then said, “That’s my dog, Lilith. Lily for short.”

“There’s nothing short about that animal. Are you sure it’s a dog? ‘Cause it kind of looks like a miniature wooly mammoth. Or, maybe a small horse. A very hairy, small horse. Having a really, really bad hair day.”

“Shhhh. Don’t say that so loud. You’ll hurt her feelings.”

“Huh?”

“Lily is very sensitive. She was the runt of the litter and well, if I hadn’t taken her home, they would have gotten rid of her.”

“That’s barbaric!”

“Yeh, I know. Anyway, she was a little homely as a weanling pup.”

“I can see that.”

“Hey, now. That’s my dog you’re insulting.”

“I’m not being insulting, I’m being honest. She’s . . . really BIG.” The dog was only six feet away but didn’t appear to be slowing down. “Ummm. She will stop, won’t she?”

He turned back towards the dog and held one hand out palm forward, then slashed downward. The dog sat back on her haunches and slid the remaining distant showering both of them with sand. Tongue lolling, panting, Lily sat at their feet looking at them.

As he began brushing sand from his jeans, he said, “Sorry about that. She’s still a puppy so we haven’t quite mastered polite introductions.”

A puppy?”

"Yes.” His eyes were crinkling at the corners.

“What type of dog is she?”

“Lily’s a mixed breed. Part Irish Wolfhound for sure, and the vet thinks maybe part Newfoundland as well.”

“She’s huge. And hairy.”

“Oh, she’s just a growing girl. She won’t reach her full potential until about three years of age. If she continues along the lines of her mother, she should weigh about one-hundred and thirty pounds and top out about three feet in height.”

“Gawd. You mean to tell me she’ll weight more than I do?”

He looked her over before saying, “Well, that’s not saying much, but she’s probably nearly there now.”

“Hmmmm.” She looked down at the dog sitting between them. Lily looked up at her and stretched her mouth wide, happy with the attention of the two humans. “Did you see that? She smiled at me.”

He ruffled the fur at her head, and Lily leaned into him. “Dogs can’t smile, but she’s a very good-natured pup.”

Squatting down, she was eyeball-to-eyeball when she addressed the dog. “Just goes to show what he knows, doesn’t it Lily?” She ran her hands over Lily’s head then stroked her neck. “By the way, Lily, everyone calls me Caro. I’m pleased to make your acquaintance.”

Lily rumbled and slurped her tongue across Caro’s cheek in acknowledgement.

“Lily, mind your manners.”

“Oh, she’s okay. She’s just a very affectionate girl, aren’t you, Lily? Are you going to introduce yourself?”

He held out his hand saying, “Kieran Hunter.”

Reaching up to shake his hand, she replied, ”Caroline Irving, but my friends call me Caro.” Lily squirmed under Caro’s hand, whined and leaned against her chest. Caro’s breath wheezed out as she said, “Okay, Lily. I get it. You don’t want to be left out, do you?”

Lily grinned, and whoofed her agreement.

Kieran groaned, “Lily, behave.” Then he realized that Caro was giggling. He couldn’t remember the last time he heard an adult laugh like that, so exuberant. Most of the people he knew would never giggle. Laughter, like everything else was controlled and very, very proper. Of course, they also wouldn’t get down in the sand and play with his dog. Usually, they just ignored her.

When Lily toppled Caro onto her back and began licking every inch of exposed skin, he flinched. The giggling continued then burst into full-blown laughter. He shook his head. She wasn’t like anyone he knew.

After a few minutes, she looked up, pushed Lily’s head away and said, “You might give me a hand, you know.” He stretched out his hand, she grasped it and pulled herself into a standing position.

“So, Kieran. What brings you and your very visible Lily out today. I’m here every morning and don’t remember seeing the two of you before. And, believe me, I would remember meeting Lily. Oh, and you too, of course.”

His lips twitched at being an afterthought. “We just moved in to a house down the beach. So, now we’re exploring, right Lily?”

Lily grinned and whoofed.

“Well then, welcome to both of you. I live there.” She swung around and indicated the lighthouse on the point.

“You live in a lighthouse?”

“Yeh, isn’t it great? Which one’s yours?”

“It’s the gray and white Shingle style at the end of the beach.”

“Oh, I thought . . .” her voice trailed off.

“You thought what?”

“Well, I must have been misinformed. I was told that a blind man had move in there with his . . . dog. Um, huh.”

“Yes?”

“Well, it’s just you are wearing sunglasses and it’s not very bright out here. You’re not blind, are you? I mean you couldn’t be. You helped me up, shook my hand.” She stopped talking at his heavy sigh.

“No, I’m not blind now.”

“Now?”

“I was in an accident about two years ago. When I purchased the house, I was the blind man with his dog.”

“That’s incredible. How did you, I mean, if you don’t mind my asking … ”

“Get my sight back?”

“Yeh.”

“Well, the loss of vision was only partially due to the head trauma. Mostly, it was what they call psychological or hysterical blindness.” He reached up and removed the sunglasses.

She looked into his face, unveiled for the first time, noticing a scar that ran from the corner of his left eye back to his hairline at the temple. “If that’s from the accident, it looks like you took a solid hit to the head.”

“We were in a boat accident.”

Caro found it suddenly very hard to swallow. “We?”

He closed his eyes, then jerked his chin downward. “My wife and son and I.”

“What happened?”

“We were on vacation, taking the boat out. Some kids lost control of their boat and rammed us. They had been hot-dogging, just being kids, you know.”

“Your wife and son?”

“They didn’t make it.”

“I’m so sorry.”

He nodded in acknowledgement. “I hit my head on something, don’t really know what. When I woke in the hospital, everything was dark. It stayed that way until about six months ago.”

“What happened then?”

“Lily.”

“Lily?”

His lips twisted into a smile. Not a happy one, but a smile none-the-less. “My sister decided that I needed a companion and tricked me into taking her. She told me that she was the runt of the litter and if no one took her, she would be sent to the pound.”

“She didn’t?”

“Oh, yes she did. My sister’s ruthless when she wants to be, and she’d decided that it was time for me to face the living.”

“So what did you do?”

The smile this time was a true one, reflected in the clear blue of his eyes. “I have Lily don’t I? Or, perhaps, she has me.”

She joined his laughter. “Oh, the latter, I’m sure. Seems like she has you exactly where she wants you.”

“Well, she’s entitled. When she first arrived, I wasn’t very happy about it. I mean, I couldn’t see, so how could I take care of a puppy. But, Kathleen, that’s my sister, wouldn’t take no for an answer. Truthfully, once she put Lily in my arms, I was a goner. She put her paws on my shoulders and reached up to touch her nose to mine and something inside me just melted.”

She smiled with him, but said nothing.

“The first six months were hard. I was trying to adapt, to take care of myself, then suddenly I had the responsibility for another being.”

When he didn’t say continue, she prompted him. “Well, what did you do?”

“Oh, sorry. I guess I was lost in darkness again.” He shook his head, straightened his shoulders, and went on with the story. “Well, I had to accept help and stop wallowing which is what my sister intended. I couldn’t very well let something happen to Lily because I couldn’t take care of her. So, my sister hired a person to help me. Strangely enough, about three months after I did that, my sight began to return. It was just a lightening of the darkness at first. Then flashes, and then one day, I could see. It was hazy, but as the doctor said, that was to be expected since it had been almost two years since my eyes had worked.”

“What did you do?”

"What do you mean?”

“What was the first thing you did once you could see again? Did you read a book, go to the movies, meet with your sister?”

“Oh, okay. No, none of that.” He just smiled and looked down at Lily.

“Well, what was it?”

“I went outside and let Lily show me around the backyard.”

“Ohhhhhhhhhhh.” She clasped her hands over her heart and looked down at Lily as well, then said, “Well, Lily, what did you do?”

Lily cocked her head to one side, seemed to think about it, then grumbled out her answer. The both laughed at the dog that seemed to be trying to speak to them.

Caro turned back to Kieran and asked, “How long until it was back to normal?”

“My vision, or my life?” he laughed. “’Cause with Lily, I’m certain my life will never be normal again.” Lily grinned and slurped a kiss across his hand. “My vision’s still a little wonky at times. I’m very light sensitive, hence the sunglasses at dawn. I have to stay out of the full sun yet, but the doctor says that will probably change with the seasons.”

“For everything there is a season.”

He nodded, “Yes, and now my season of darkness is at an end. All because of a sister who wouldn’t give up, even though I nearly had.”

“And, Lily. Her love showed you the way.”

“Oh, yes. But for the love of Lily, I’d still be there fumbling around in the dark, or else I’d have given up completely.”

Lily crooned. When they looked down at her, they saw her eyes looking out over the bay. They both turned just in time to see the sun crown the horizon and cast off the lingering darkness.
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