Saturday, February 21, 2015

Write me a story...

"I want you to write me a story."

"You do, do you?"

"Yes. Write me a story about me. I want to be the hero."

"You want me to write a story where you are the hero?"

"Yes. Have me do something cool. And say all the best lines. And get the girl in the end."

"Sounds like you already have the story written. Why don't you just go ahead and do it?"

"Because you are a better writer than I am. So I want you to write me a story about me."

"You know most of my stories don't have happy endings right?"

"This one will. I will get the girl and all the money and a cool car."

"But I don't write like that. If I were writing a story about a hero who gets the girl then the end would be something dark and twisty."

"Not this time. This time you will write something that shows me being awesome and everything great happening to me. It will be the best story ever."

"Yeah, I think maybe you should write this story. It doesn't really sound like my sort of story."

"You write all sorts of stories. Now I just want you to write this one. Come on, it can't be that hard."

"Well if it's not that hard, you do it."

"Not that hard for you I mean. You write stories. I'm just an idea man."

"I write my stories. This is your story. You should write it. You wouldn't be happy with a story I wrote for you."

"I would be though. Because I'm telling you how it should go."

She laughed then, "But that's not how it goes. I might start out writing about what a great big hero you are but it will turn at some point. Because that's what my stories do. You've read them right?"

"Yeah, I read them. That's why I want you to write it. Come on...write me a story."

And so she did.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Only the crows...

Nobody believed him when he said he saw a witch.

He even pointed her out to his friend Darlene. "Oh! Look, it's the witch!"

Darlene had rolled her eyes at him. "That's not a witch. She doesn't look anything like a witch. That's just a lady out for a walk."

But he knew she was a witch.

"Watch when she walks down the path."

So Darlene watched. "What?"

"Didn't you see how everyone got out of her way? It's because she's a witch."

"She's not a witch, people are just polite."

But he knew the truth. She never moved. Everyone always moved for her. Because she was a witch.

When she stopped and ducked down to pet the neighbor's mean cat he told Darlene, "See? Look! Whiskers doesn't like anyone and he let's her pet him."

Darlene sighed, "Whiskers just doesn't like you because you are too loud. He likes me just fine."

"Have you ever pet him?"

"No. But that doesn't mean he doesn't like me. I just haven't wanted to pet him."

"Because you know he will scratch you if you try."

Darlene ignored him. But he was right. Whiskers was a terror. They all knew not to bother him.

When the witch (he KNEW she was a witch) stopped petting him Whiskers rolled around on the ground for awhile. Like his cats at home did when they found cat nip.

"That's not normal."

Darlene said, "He's a cat. Cats aren't normal. And she's not a witch."

"Listen."

"To what? I don't hear anything."

"See? The birds stopped singing when she walked by. And the frogs are quiet too. They don't want her to notice them."

"Or it could be because Whiskers is on the prowl."

He shook his head. He knew she was a witch. He watched her walking away. Then he saw the crows. There were three of them. And they were watching her too. One would fly to a tree near her and watch her walk by, another would fly ahead and land on a street sign she had to pass, another perched on the rain gutter of the house near by.  They watched her walk away from the park and then when she got far enough away all three flew back.

They knew.

The crows always know.

She was a witch.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Food for the Soul (part 4)

Franklin had a great big booming laugh that filled the restaurant, "I'm kidding! But you should see the look on your face. I just thought maybe we needed to lighten it up a little before we got in to the nitty gritty."

Cassidy looked at him warily, "What's the expression? Fool me once, shame on you?"

"Trust me. Look, I know there is no reason why you should, but still trust me. I want this to be your story. What I thought we would do was hit on a few of the things that you were quoted as saying in the article, then what happened after it ran, and what continues to happen, you know like pushy reporters hounding you every Valentine's Day, that sort of thing, and what all of that meant to your business. Sound like a plan?"

"And I still get a chance to squash the story once it's written if I don't like it?"

"Hmm, not if you don't like it. That's pretty subjective. But if what I've written isn't true, then yes, you can kill the story. I've got it right here." Franklin handed Cassidy a pretty straight forward contract. She would agree to an interview, he would agree to let her have final call on if the story ran due to factual inaccuracies or out of context quotes. 

She took a deep breath and signed the paper.

"Let's start with the quotes. You said that you thought Valentine's Day was a scam, that it was the worst of all of the holidays, that there would be no chocolate covered strawberries or champagne to be found at Cassidy's Place, that the entire thing was insane and that you were afraid of how this was all going to be taken but that you wanted nothing to do with it. Is that right?"

"I did. All of that is true. But I said a lot of other things too. How about if I tell you basically what I told him and you can see what I mean?"

"Sure, but I will stop you here and there if I need more." Franklin sat back and started taking notes.

"I thought we were doing a silly little puff piece. Or maybe not silly for me, but just a fluffy nice story about new restaurants. I was riding high from our early success. This is what I always wanted to do. Run my own place. We were doing well and getting good buzz. Then he asked what I would be doing for Valentine's Day at the restaurant. I told him nothing special. I've worked in the industry for years. In my opinion it's really the worst of all of the holidays for going out. Restaurants know you are going to go out. They know you want something special and so over the years you've seen this morphing from special night out to SPECIAL! You get prix fixe menus where you have no real options in what you are ordering. You have reservations that are so stacked and tight that a table is expected to be turned 6 times instead of say the normal 3. So your service is rushed, your meal isn't exactly your first choice and often isn't the best the restaurant could do if it weren't trying to crank out so many meals so quickly and they charge you more for the experience. I think it's a scam."

"So your issue was more with the industry than the holiday?"

"Yes and no. I'm not a fan of the holiday, personal choice, I think people put so much pressure on themselves to make it perfect that they are too stressed to actually enjoy the day. I also am uncomfortable with the whole idea of doing something special like that on one day a year. I want people to come to Cassidy's Place on what ever day they want to. I want every experience they have here to be special. To be a treat. I want the food to be the best. The service to be the best. The experience to be the best. That's why I said you wouldn't see chocolate covered strawberries. It's February. Strawberries aren't in season. They might be romantic, but they aren't going to taste good right now. I'd rather do a strawberry dish in the spring and early summer. And I'm certainly not going to increase my prices by 30% just to add them and a cheap glass of champagne."

"You said in the interview that you were worried how it was going to be taken. Did you have any idea at the time how badly it might go or were you just not sure?"

"I wasn't concerned with how my customers were going to take the interview, I was concerned with how my colleagues were going to. I was basically saying that the entire thing was insane. People were paying more for a lesser experience and that I didn't want anything to do with it. I thought there might be some backlash from the industry. But I thought, it's my opinion and they can make their own case. I wasn't expecting to be painted as the Valentine Grinch."

"So what happened next? After the article ran?"

"Well, at first I was just a little shocked. Yes, this is everything I had said, but it wasn't how I said it, or what I meant. I couldn't deny that I said those things, so when people asked I had to say yes, I had said them, but nobody wanted to hear the rest. It was picked up as a sort of joke. 'Heartless Restaurant Owner Says No to Lovers' People started talking about how I wouldn't allow reservations if you wanted to celebrate Valentine's Day. I was picketed by a group calling themselves 'Lovers of Love' it was crazy."

"Were you worried about the future of your restaurant?"

"I really was. People don't understand how precarious opening a new restaurant is. The food can be excellent, and I think ours is, the service can be impeccable, and I think we have the best staff in the city, the location can be great, everything can be just wonderful and you still fail. So here I was with great food, great staff, wonderful location and people cancelling reservations because they thought their romantic night out was going to be spoiled by going to the anti-love restaurant."

"You're still open, what happened?"

"Well as reservations were being cancelled for Valentine's Day by couples we noticed that we were getting a lot of large group reservations coming in. Fewer two tops, more 7 or 8 tops. It turned out that we had somehow tapped into a niche market for Valentine's Day that was being under served. Some of them were here to celebrate what they called S.A.D. Singles Appreciation Day. Some were here because they thought it would be edgy to not celebrate the holiday with us. But what we did was make sure all of them had a great experience. And we weathered the decline in business that hit when the article first came out. We outlasted the news cycle and were still standing when people moved on to other things to focus on. Until the next year."

"That's where I come in. Is that standard then? Every year do you get reporters revisiting your story?"

"Pretty much. The original story got so much attention that now everyone wants to put their spin on it. Are we the anti-love place? If we are does it make us hypocrites when we cater weddings? A picture of me eating a strawberry ran like it was a shocking expose. I can't tell you why it stuck or why it struck a nerve, but I can tell you that it was hard to get past. Now we're pretty established. We have a regular clientele. We have faithful customers who know that we love love just as much as everyone else. We don't do it one day a year we do it when ever you want. If your special day is February 14th or April 8th we are going to be here just the same."

"What happened with your anti-Valentine's groups? I saw an article that had a little backlash from them."

"Well once they discovered I wasn't really anti anything they felt a little betrayed. Like I had promised them something when I really hadn't. They wanted black roses and broken heart cookies. I had to be honest and tell them that I wasn't against Valentine's Day, I just wasn't really for it either. So we lost them. But we kept the people that wanted to come out and have a nice meal. And not feel rushed. And not have to pay more than they would normally. We've done okay, but I have to be honest, if we hadn't already been open for almost a year I wouldn't have had the money to hold us over during the first drop off in business. It came close to ruining us."

"All from a silly little puff piece?"

"All from a silly little puff piece. I almost lost everything. And everyone who works here almost lost their jobs. And my landlord almost lost his tenant. And everyone who had invested in me and in Cassidy's Place almost lost their shirts. And frankly the city almost lost a damn good restaurant."

"So looking back do you wish you had just done a Valentine's Day special?"

Cassidy laughed, "No. I still hate that. I still cringe when I see really great restaurants putting out not really great product on Valentine's Day. Or adding a Mother's Day brunch when they don't normally do brunch. Do what you are good at. Stand by your menu. Give customers the best every day. And be really careful who you give an interview to."

Franklin smiled, "I think this is going to be really good stuff. I really do. I would like to talk to your staff and maybe a few customers if that's okay with you?"

"It's up to them. But I don't have a problem with it as long as you treat them with the same fairness you are treating me."

"Absolutely. And one more question for you."

"Okay, shoot."

"Cassidy Paisley. Is that your real name?"

"Now that's a funny story. It's almost time to open for dinner, how about I treat you to a meal here so you can get the full Cassidy's Place experience and then I will tell you about my name over dessert? I recommend the flourless chocolate cake. It's a thing of beauty."

The next week a copy of The Insider was delivered to Cassidy's Place wrapped with a red ribbon and a single rose. The card red "Happy Valentine's Day,  Franklin Roth"

Cassidy sat down and began to read:

"When you think of a romantic Valentine's Day dinner the first place that comes to mind is probably not Cassidy's Place. But owner Cassidy Paisley knows a thing or two about love. Named after her mother's celebrity crush, Cassidy grew up in a house that did not hide their feelings. And didn't feel the need to celebrate them only one day a year. Little did she know transferring that to her namesake eatery would cause....."

She thought it was well done. It showed how her words had been twisted and how it almost cost her the true love of her life, her restaurant. Franklin had talked to her staff and she was touched with how much they appreciated working for her and how much they enjoyed their jobs. He had spoken with a few of her regular customers including the Jeffers. They had met at Cassidy's Place during that first S.A.D. dinner, gotten engaged there the next year and had celebrated Valentine's Day with them ever since. They joked that they hoped their story would show how romantic of a place it was, but that it wouldn't keep them from being able to get a good reservation with plenty of time to linger over dessert.

That night she agreed to meet Franklin for a drink to talk about the article. Walking in to her favorite bar she was greeted by Gary. "Cassidy! Great piece on you today! And really? You were named for Shaun Cassidy?"

"David actually."

"I think I love you..."

"Very funny. Can I expect you to sing that every time you see me now?"

"For awhile yeah."

Gary brought her a drink and told her Franklin had called and said he was on his way. "So...you and Franklin?"

Cassidy shook her head, "You are a hopeless romantic."

"It is the season! David Cassidy....I can't believe I never even asked. This is great."

"It could have been worse. My mother's name is Presley."

Hearing Franklin's booming laugh from behind her she smiled. Maybe Gary would get his Harlequin romance ending after all.













Friday, February 13, 2015

Food for the Soul (part 3)

Cassidy welcomed Franklin in to the restaurant.

"I hope you don't mind meeting me here."

"Not at all. It's what I would do if I were you."

"Excuse me?"

"If I were going to talk to someone I didn't quite trust about a subject I had been burned on before I would make sure I did it in the place I felt most comfortable and also most confident. For instance if you were interviewing me we would do it in my office and I would angle your chair so you could see all of my awards. Instead I will just slyly mention them here."

Cassidy laughed, "Okay, now that you've brought it up why would Pulitzer Prize winner Franklin Roth choose to do a piece on me? This is a little too fluffy for your normal writing isn't it?"

"Ah, I see you did do your research on me! Wonderful. Okay, before we get to your story I will give you mine. Seem fair?"

"Sure." Cassidy leaned back in her chair and sipped her tea, "Go on."

"As you now know I moved to town to take over The Insider. I haven't found a place to live just yet so have been staying at a hotel near the office. There is not much that is more depressing than working all day and then heading straight to a room that could be in any city in any place in the world. I wanted to start getting a feel for the people around me and that started at the bar in the lobby.

The reason why I got in to reporting was because stories fascinate me. Everyone has a story. Every place has a story. And what you see on the first glance is rarely all there is to know. So I tend to watch people when I am out. I see what they are doing. I try to guess why. So sitting in a bar watching people is great fun for me.

Our friend Sam intrigued me. The first night I saw him he was sitting by himself. He would glance at his phone then at his notebook then his phone again but every time someone walked in and Gary, it's Gary right? The bartender?" Cassidy nodded her head. "So when Gary greeted them his head would snap up and he would look to see who it was. He was obviously waiting for someone. Someone who never came. I thought the poor guy had been stood up. Happens. But then the next night I'm walking past the bar on my way out of the lobby and I see he's there again. Well now this is a little more interesting. I went in and watched him, same routine. Phone, notebook, watch the door, leave alone. So now I'm wondering, who is he looking for? Is he a private investigator? Is he a spy? Is he a really really unlucky dater?"

Cassidy laughed, "You have quite the imagination."

"It's part of the job. You have to think of the questions so you know what to ask. So this goes on for four nights. I decided that I was going to approach him and get his story on the fifth. There had to be something there. So I made sure I was sitting near enough to him to make my move and then you walked in. I could tell you were who he had been waiting for because he became like a dog on point. Everything turned toward you. But he didn't approach you. And you obviously had no idea who he was. So now I was really curious. What exactly was going on. Not a private investigator or a spy because he was too obvious about you being his target.

Then when he did finally approach and I accidentally leaned in closer to eavesdrop on your conversation I heard my newspaper and misquoting come up I knew he might not get his story but I had an angle for mine."

Cassidy shook her head, "Now I'm really lost. You heard that I was angry over being misquoted by the newspaper you are now running and your first thought is you want to talk to me more? Shouldn't your first thought have been how the hell can I get out of here without being noticed?"

Franklin laughed, "No. I run toward danger! Okay, well, maybe not danger but slightly ticked off restaurateurs I run towards them. Now don't take this the wrong way, but you are just the first step in a series I want The Insider to do. Our industry hasn't had the best of reputations as of late. Too much sensationalism, not enough journalism. I want to do a series showing what happens when things aren't presented in exactly a fair light. We are going to start with you, a local story, and the ramifications of that interview, and then move broader and broader showing regional, national and international stories and the effects of less than honest reporting. How misinformation is really worse than no information at all.

So that's my story on why I want to tell your story. I'm using you to make a broader point basically. You should know that upfront. I want to ease our readers in to paying attention to what I am going to be saying later. And I think if I can coat it all in hearts and flowers, or the lack there of, then it will go down easier."

"Okay."

"Okay? As in we have a deal? You give me the long interview and we tell your story the way you thought it would be told all along? That okay?"

"Yes, that okay."

"Great! So tell me, Cassidy, how long have you hated love?"







Thursday, February 12, 2015

Food for the Soul (part 2)....

Who knew something so simple as answering "Nothing" would start the ball rolling on an entire article written about how much she hated Valentine's Day. And who knew so many people would take it so personally. 

"Five years ago The Insider wrote about your restaurant and how you would be the only place in town not celebrating Valentine's Day. This in turn made you the go to place for the Anti-Valentine crowd. So would you say that your stance on hating love has made you a sort of anti-hero for the ages?"

Cassidy laughed, "It seems like you already have your story written. Why are you bothering talking to me at all?"

"Well I had to do something while your staff was freezing me out. I asked around. Re-read all of the previous interviews and articles. But honestly, I thought it would be nice to get it straight from you." Sam flipped through his notebook, "'Cassidy's Place won't be the place for star crossed lovers this Valentine's Day if owner Cassidy Paisley has anything to do with it.' That was the lead for the original article that put you on the map. 'Valentine's Day is basically a scam.' That was a quote from you right?"

"Yes it was. And I stand by that. And what I said before and after that. The parts that didn't make it in to that article. And the parts that would ruin your pre-written paragon of journalistic integrity piece as well. So I will leave you to it, and because I'm a swell gal I won't even hold you to paying my tab." Cassidy waved Gary over to settle up and leave.

"Fiesty Cassidy Paisley stands by her Valentine hating ways, that works, thanks!" Sam collected his things and left the bar.

As Gary headed over toward Cassidy he was intercepted by another customer, "I'd like to pay her tab, that is if the offer for an interview is still open? And I'll take those remaining," he looked at his watch, "Nineteen minutes if you are still up for a chat?"

"You'd understand if I said no right?" 

"Absolutely. But I can guarantee you that I don't have a preset agenda. I will actually have to go back and research everything I overheard because I'm not familiar with the story at all. But what I did hear seems like it might make an interesting piece.  And as I'm now working for The Insider I think we have a good line on a follow up." He held his hand out to Cassidy, "Franklin Roth, how do you do?"

"Cassidy Paisley. And I'm sorry but I have no desire to speak to anyone from The Insider ever again. And as of tonight no one from The Gazette either."

"I can see that, it seems as though you were misquoted before. Is that what I heard? How about I make you a spectacular deal. You get to read my piece before I submit it to my editor, if you think it's a misrepresentation of facts you get to kill the story."

"I can read it before you send it to your editor, I give you approval to run the story and then she cuts and pastes my quotes in to something else entirely and you run the whole thing as the authorized story? Is that the deal?"

Franklin laughed, "Well, that's a really good and tricky idea but no. I tell you what, I'm going to leave you my card and you take a day to research me and then get back to me. I think what you will see is, and I know this sounds like bragging, but that's only because it is, I am not someone who has their stories reworked by editors. And just as a show of good faith, I'll still pay your tab."

After settling up with Franklin Gary came down the bar to talk with Cassidy.

"You know in a romance novel you and Sam would have hit it off and ended up running the world's most romantic restaurant right? Instead you end up piquing the interest of Franklin Roth. Only you."

"Wait, you know who he is?"

Gary laughed, "Only you wouldn't." he pulled is phone out and did a quick search before handing it over to Cassidy.

"Pulitzer prize winner Franklin Roth takes the reigns of The Insider. What does this mean for the competition?" 

"Oh, so he's the real deal?"

"The realest." Gary took his phone back, "So what are you going to do?"


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Food for the Soul....

Cassidy noticed the man smiling at her from the other end of the bar. She knew what to expect by the twinkle in his eye as he walked towards her.

"Cassidy Paisley?"

"Yes, that's me." Now to see if he was a fan, a fanatic or a reporter looking for a human interest piece.

"So, any big holiday plans?" Well that was at least a slightly clever lead line.

"Why, whatever do you mean?" Cassidy motioned toward Gary for another round.

"Sam Carlisle, The Gazette." Ah, well, reporter it was then.

"Cassidy Paisley, but you already knew that. Stalking or just lucky?" She gave him her patient smile.

"A little of both. A friend told me you like to come here after work to unwind. I tried contacting you through the restaurant but...." He trailed off. She knew exactly what had happened. This time of year her staff screened her calls quite thoroughly. Anyone wanting to talk about her unique reputation had their message put in a giant round file by the compost bin.

"And so you thought you'd just take it upon yourself to show up here?"

Gary came over with Cassidy's drink, "You okay?"

Cassidy gave Gary the real smile, "I'm fine, thanks. It's the time of year for it right? I'll let you know if I need any help though."

Gary gave Sam a cold look, "You do that." He put back on his bartender welcoming face and turned to the crowd doing shots at the end of the bar.

"Seems as though I'm not really popular tonight."

"You ambushed me in my favorite bar. What did you expect?"

"Okay, we've gotten off on the wrong foot. You know why I'm here. Like you said, it's that time of year. It would be a great story for me to get. And a good follow up for you. What do you say?"

Cassidy thought about it. He was going to write something anyway, they always did. What harm would giving a few fresh quotes really do? Maybe if she did speak to this guy the rest of them would see it wasn't really all that interesting after all and leave her alone.

"You know what? Fine. You've got 30 minutes and you're paying my tab. Make the most of it."

"Wow. Okay, I have to say I'm a little shocked. Everyone I've spoken with has said you don't give interviews. I wasn't really expecting you to agree."

Cassidy looked at her watch, "Twenty nine."

"So how long have you hated love?"

Cassidy laughed, "Well, I can see how this is going to go."

Five years ago Cassidy had given an interview for a food reporter on up and coming new restaurants. Cassidy's had been open for almost a year at the point and was getting quite the reputation around town. She was really proud of her place and thrilled to be featured in the piece. When the reporter had asked what special plans they had for Valentine's Day Cassidy had answered honestly, and that's when the trouble began.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Here's how it happened....

I needed to run a few errands today.

It was cold outside. Much worse than I thought it would be.

I knew it was going to be chilly so I was prepared for that, but it was really cold.

When I went to get dressed I realized I didn't have any clean jeans so I did a load of laundry.

That's when I noticed that we were almost out of laundry soap and I needed to add that to the list.

I keep a list of things we need on my phone. That way I always have it with me when I am out running errands. Like what I needed to do today.

When I went to add the soap to my list I couldn't find my phone. I had it this morning when I came home from the gym so I knew it was in the house someplace.

I remembered I was listening to some music while I showered. It was probably in the bathroom.

Yep. Right there on the counter. Then I saw I missed a call. It was a reminder for an appointment I have tomorrow.

I was glad they called because it is a half hour later than I was thinking it was so I had to double check my calendar to make sure I had the right time listed there.

I did. Which is great because now I can actually get some things done in the morning I didn't think I would.

Like paint. Then I thought, I wonder if I really need to paint the wall again, or if it's okay.

I went to the living room to take a look at what I had worked on yesterday.

I got out the small paint brush and touched up a seam but other than that I think it will be okay so I decided to just leave it be.

I still needed to bring in the beige and the white for the baseboards and study wall touch ups. So I closed up the grays and decided to take them down to the garage.

I decided I could just take them down as I headed out to run some errands. Bingo!

And that's how I ended up at the grocery story without any pants on.

It's much colder outside than I was expecting....

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Unraveled...

It was the music that should have tipped her off.

"Just an old-fashioned love song, one I'm sure they wrote for you and me" she looked around to see who was playing their radio and the music faded away. How odd. She tried to remember the rest of the song, how did it go again? She should know it. She used to know it. They had danced to it at that street fair when they first started dating. It was just so goofy and fun and it became one of their songs. Why couldn't she think of how it went anymore? She tried to hum the part she had just heard and it was gone now as well.

A few weeks later she was looking through pictures from Jamie's going away party. She had been traveling for work and hadn't been able to make it. Clicking through the album smiling at seeing all of her friends having a great time and wishing Jamie well for his next adventure she was surprised to see a picture of her ex. There he was, one arm around Jamie and one arm around a woman she had never seen before. He hadn't even liked Jamie when they first started dating. Said he was pretentious. Now here he was cozied up to him at a party? She read the comments, they were going camping together before he left? What? As she started to click through more pictures she realized that she wasn't able to pull the names of the people that were there without looking at the tags on the picture. Eventually she stopped looking when she realized she didn't know anyone.

That weekend she went for a hike to clear her head. She had been feeling more and more foggy lately. Some time outdoors would help she was sure of it. She crested the hill and saw her spot. There was a small clearing at the top of the hill, she had found it when she was a kid. Used to hike up here with her dad for picnics. She had only brought two other people here ever. It was her place. As she sat down to contemplate her place in the world something shiny caught her eye. It was an earring. She picked it up and something about it was familiar. A picture flashed in her mind and then faded. A woman she didn't know with people she thought she should know but couldn't place. She put the earring back down. Maybe who ever lost it would come looking for it again. She got up to hike back to her car thinking, this was a nice spot. I should try and remember it and come back sometime.

Out with friends for drinks when her girlfriend handed her a phone showing an open Facebook page. A picture of her ex out to dinner with the woman from the picture. "Isn't that your cousin's place?" She looked at the picture, "It is. Great food." then she read the caption, "Good for the body, good for the soul." That's when she felt the tug. Really paid attention. "I need to go."

Driving home she tried to remember the song, the party, the view, the restaurant, how many times he had told her that she was good for his soul. The memories had to be there somewhere. There was a song. She knew there was a song, what was it? The people in the pictures, they were friends, right? Who were they? This couldn't really be happening right? He wouldn't be doing this. Couldn't be.

She hit the door to the house and started running upstairs. "Well I've been afraid of changing cause I built my life around you..." bursting in to the attic she saw the tapestry hanging where she had stored it. Or at least she saw what was left of it. Threads had been pulled out. So many that it was unraveling.  She followed a loose thread, a memory of a moment, walked along with it remembering, and then it wasn't hers anymore. It changed. He was still there but he had changed the color of the thread. Moving her out and someone else in. Weaving a new tapestry using her threads.

She sat back and looked at the ruins of her once beautiful tapestry. How many pieces could he take before she ceased to exist? Could he really just weave her out of her own memories? She looked around her attic once more at the things she had up there. The tapestry that she had made with her father. The colorful one with the glitter string she and her mother had made together. The first one she had tried to weave with her high school boyfriend. If it was on Etsy they would call that one artisanal. But it really was a hot mess. She looked at how they were all joined. The threads they had in common, the ones that belonged only in one piece.

"Time makes you bolder, even children get older..."

The music got louder.

She picked up a pair of scissors and cut the loose threads.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Job Fair...

A long time ago, long before there was a you or a me or even a thought of an us they were here. And they were creating things. The basic things that we take for granted every day. The very fabric that weaves us together as a society. They made those things. And they never get any credit. It's a shame really, but they like it that way. They like us to think we came up with all of these things on our own. It makes the rest of their jobs easier. In fact I think making us believe we made it all is one of their jobs...but that's not the story I want to tell today. Today I will tell the story of the beginning. The start of all of this.

The lesser demons had gathered for their final interviews. The tests had been completed. The resumes had been read and polished. The first round of questions had been answered, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" "What would you say is your weakest trait?" (You had always suspected job interviews were a thing from demons, now you know) Now it was time for the last round. Job placement would now be decided. 

The ancient ones looked around the room and asked the final question. "What is the greatest punishment you could give to man?"

Smiles lit up the room. This is what they had all been waiting for. What they had practiced for. What they had dreamed of. Now they could shine. One by one they stood and walked in to the private offices to give their answer.

"Bamboo under the fingernails. Slowly. Then soaking them in lemon juice."

note were taken:

(effective but rudimentary)

"I would slowly drive them mad with songs they could not get out of their heads. I would call it an ear-worm so they could have the vision of a parasite slowly eating their brains as they hummed, 'Hey Macarena!'"

(inventive, diabolical, order extra copies of Hey Macarena! in a few thousand years when it is released)

"I would add cars to the road at random times of the day. Traffic jams at 2 on a Tuesday."

(we can work with this, expand on the idea. get on inventing the wheel quickly so we can work to this point)

Answers came and jobs were assigned. Big and small jobs. You will work on clothing sizes, you will work on shoes that won't stay tied, you will be in politics, you will work on network TV. Finally the last interviewee walked through the door. He brought with him one of the ancient ones. Demon or angel it is sometimes hard to tell with the old ones.

"What is the greatest punishment you could give to man?"

"I have more than one answer. It depends on the man, you see."

"Then give me your top line."

"I would give them love."

(love? did he come in the wrong door?)

"Unrequited love. Love that leaves. Love that is replaced or misplaced. And for the worst of them I would let them watch the person they love fall in love with someone else."

The room fell silent. Now this was genius. They could start now. No waiting. They wouldn't have to stop when technology moved forward. This was an all time great. They had even stopped taking notes as the ideas were flowing too fast and furious to keep up.

"Yes, I see. Brilliant. I don't think we need to hear anymore. You have earned this."

And with that the bow and arrow was handed over.

"Be careful. You know each tip is coated with poison."

Cupid smiled, his rows of razor sharp teeth glinting. The scaly wings on his back vibrating with pleasure.

One of the ancients waved to the demon (angel?) next to Cupid, "Why did you accompany him?"

Cupid bowed to his elder and took a step back so the old one could take the stage, "I will work with him."

"You? But how?"

"Not every arrow in that quiver will bring pain and longing. Sometimes it will be true and ever lasting joy. Sometimes the love will be returned."

Great booming laughter filled the room, (I call it laughter because that is the closest I have to describe it, but if you were to hear it? It would have driven you mad.) nods and smiles were shared. And it was agreed that they would work together from that day on. 

"Ah, Hope, you are the worst of us!"






Thursday, February 5, 2015

Call the crew...

She was curled up on the couch reading while her son worked on his homework at the kitchen table. She glanced up to see how he was doing and saw a group of boys playing catch out on the lawn.

"That looks just like Bobby Giles." she thought. But Bobby would have to be almost 50 by now.

She put down the crochet piece she was working on and got up from the chair, "Hey, do you see that?" she said to her mother who was sitting at the kitchen table working on a jigsaw puzzle.

Wait, was that right? She looked out the window again and it had started to snow. Big fat flakes drifting down and covering the rose garden with a fine layer of leaves, golden in the fall sunlight. She shook her head to clear the cobwebs and turned away from the window.

"I'm going to my room for a minute," she said but no one was there.

When she passed her sister on the stairs she realized she needed to make a call. "It's your turn to do the dishes," her sister sneered at her. She snapped back; "It's not, I did them yesterday. You just want to sneak out and hit the racetrack early." Her brother shrugged, it was the truth after all.

Yes, definitely need to make a call.

Opening the attic door she wasn't exactly surprised that there was a mess there, but she was surprised by the amount of mess. There were papers strewn everywhere and trail of sawdust on the floor.

"No! Oh no, oh no, oh no!" She was panicking now as she raced to the closet at the far end of the attic. The one that had to remain locked. Had to.

The door stood open. The box, THE box was laying on the floor. The top broken. Sawdust in a pile. Broken pieces on the hardwood floor. She picked up two halves and tried to see if they could be pieced back together, but there was a sliver missing now. It would never fix exactly right. She set the box back upright and started to see if any of the fragile things had survived the fall.

"Excuse me? Ma'am? We got a call to come to this address? I'm assuming that's you?"

She turned around, oh good the crew was here. Waving her arms around the attic in a helpless gesture she said, "I don't know what happened. But..." she trailed off, it didn't matter, the cleaning crew was there. Sorting and refiling. Tossing the broken things. "Oh no, I need that!" she would shout as they would hold up an obviously ruined item. "Do you really?"

"I guess not."

Hours passed. Finally a cry of triumph came from the back of the room. "Found it!" She looked over and one of the crew was holding up a football. "Looks like it came in through that window and knocked over the cage there. Once they were loose it was game over."

She looked at the cage. Oh yes, them. Anytime they got loose they did make a mess of things. The crew was busy wrangling them all up. "Careful, they bite."

One of the crew held up a hand with a dark black furry shape holding on to a finger by it's sharp fangs, "It's okay, we have gloves." He shook it off and locked the cage again.

"Should you just get rid of those as well?" She asked hopefully.

"Sorry, lady, you know we can't do that. We're just here to clean up the mess, you have to take care of the rest."

She went to the cage to count. One, two, three, four...there was one missing still. She knew leaving it out was a bad idea. You had to get them all under control at once or one day you open the attic door and well...this.

"There's one missing."

"Did you check your pockets?"

Oh, right. She put her hand in her pocket and felt it there. She pulled it out carefully and looked at it in the light. "I wonder how it got there."

"Probably snuck up on you when you weren't paying attention. They do that. Here drop it in quickly."

All five locked back away. Now curled around each other sleeping peacefully. Worn out from the damage they had done.

The crew was finished. Everything tidied back up. Things put back to right. Some old things tossed. Some ruined things never to be seen again.

"Did you want us to clear out these broken pieces?" The head of the crew was vacuuming up the spilled sawdust.

"Not just yet. Even the broken pieces are something to look at right?"

She put them back in the box and added a layer of bubble wrap this time. Maybe that would keep them safer. She set the box on the high shelf and closed the door.

"Keeping them on the high shelf isn't the best place for the fragile items, Ma'am."

"It's not is it?"

She locked the door and turned away from the closet.

"Thank you for calling Viking Cleaners, your protection is our business."

The alarm went off and she rolled over to start her day. "Thank you...." she mumbled.

Her husband gave her a sleepy smile, "You're welcome?"








Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Just a little paint...

First coat of paint done. She stood back and looked at the wall. And laughed.

It actually seemed to highlight the spot instead of camouflage it. She could still clearly see the outline of the old china cabinet. Well a few more coats of paint should do it, after all that spot had a lot of catching up to do.

The cabinet had been so heavy and so big that they had decided it was easier to paint around it over the years. There was no where else it could go in their small, we'll just stay here until we have kids, until the kids are out of elementary school, middle school, high school, place. The plain beige wall that greeted her when the cabinet was finally gone was a surprise. She had forgotten what color it had originally been.

That section of wall had missed the first application of slate blue that it was now wearing. And the sage green. And the fiesta orange. And the mauve that she had loved so much in the mid 80s until the morning she woke up and hated it and they had to paint the whole house NOW...what was it that time? Seafoam? She couldn't even remember anymore. But all of those coats of paint were on the walls; one layer over another. And primer for those very bold choices. Except for the china cabinet shaped space she was now looking at.

She had sanded the edges of the painted area down before starting. There had been so much paint there had been a ridge. A clear line of before and now. She had thought that would take care of it. That a smooth transition from one to the other would be enough once a fresh coat of paint went up. But no such luck. Now she had a lighter colored blue patch of wall shaped just like a china cabinet.

For a second she thought about running to Home Depot and buying some drawer pulls and attaching them to the wall. Making it an art piece. She loved the idea for a little while, until like the mauve paint she hated it. A shadow of a former life. That's all it would be. A reminder of what was here but now is gone.

She would not get maudlin over this.

Maudlin. Maaauuudlin.

What a great word. Maudlin. Were women named Madeline more likely to get maudlin? She giggled to herself.

Okay, time to open a window. The paint fumes must be thicker than she thought.

She sat outside on the porch and drank a Coke. How long to wait between coats of paint? She checked her phone. Google says an hour. Wow. That's not too bad. Didn't it take longer before? It used to take a day at least, right? Longer before you could just move on. Pretend like the cabinet was never there.

When the movers had come to take that piece and the others away he had stood at the door to what used to be his house, waiting to be asked in. She had stood behind him. A younger version of what he already had. Hair still red without the dye assist. Face still smooth even in natural light. Directing the movers with what they were taking. Taking things that didn't belong to her.

When the cabinet was moved and the bare wall stood out one of the moving guys had whistled, "Look at that, it's like a shadow."

She had smiled sweetly, "Yes, like a shadow. But don't worry, nothing that a few coats of paint and a little time won't fix. Soon you'll never even see the difference."

She finished her Coke and walked back inside. Time for another round.

Looking at the room she noticed how much bigger it looked with that heavy old piece.






Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Do you trust me?

Standing at the top of the tower looking down the giant water slide.

Legs shaking.

Teeth chattering.

"Do you trust me?" he asked.

She looked deep in to his eyes.

Trying to see only him.

Not how impossibly high they were.

Not how terrifyingly steep the water slide was.

Just see him.

"Do you trust me?" he asked again.

Heights weren't her favorite.

Everyone knew that.

But you have to challenge yourself.

That's what he told her.

So now she stood at the top of the Raging Rapids.

"Do you trust me?" he asked slower this time.

She took a deep rattling breath.

Her palms were sweating now.

The attendant gave her a small smile.

"You can always go back down the stairs. You wouldn't be the first to change your mind."

He blocked her view.

"Do you trust me?" once again. Now with an edge. A demand.

She gathered herself together.

Walked to the edge of the slide.

"No."

And with that she let go and plunged in to the rapids alone.