Thursday, March 7, 2013

An Old Flash of Story

Caught Between the Sun and Moon

The cold earth would not remember him. That was left to me.

Alone, I sat on his grave; bewilderment and anger filtered through packed soil. A dirt fractured voice, I heard, betrayed by flesh and desire. His one true love lay between us solid and silent, encased in steel and satin. They were forever. He would never abandon her, though she died without him. Their decades together stretched through molecules of silica, clay, and carbon. I was always outside—a part, but not really. I was simply an idyll, an occasional intrusion, to be cherished or ignored, when what I wanted was to be the rift in the continent of their love.

It started before I could remember. It always was: my world between his Sun and her Moon. I became a tide. High and low, pulled and released between orbits.

When I was with the Moon, she was cold and remote. Phases were her moods. She was full when we went to the movies. She held my hand as I leapt from bench to bench in the park while we waited for the Sun. After I pushed her away to cross the gaps unaided, she nursed my sprained wrist.
The night was her time. She sang: “La-le-lu nur der Mann im Mond schaut zu, wenn die kleinen Babies schlafen, drum schlaf auch zu.” She sang in a language she swore she did not speak, if you asked in daytime. As I dreamt, alone in her twin bed, she disappeared. The days were waning.

The dark Moon wandered the house. She searched. Things went missing, photographs and money put in drawers and beneath cushions. She forgot where she was and who we were. Over and over, she would sit with me and tell me of her childhood: of riding next to her father in a carriage on a crisp winter day, of teeth, lost when she was fourteen. Her dentures smiled from a jar each night.

He was the day. Hot and commanding, though his love was winter-cold. I could not touch his adoration of the Moon. I became a release from his vigilance. The Sun could be kind. He bought me gifts, listened to my stories, my loud music. He drove me places. I was special. There was something within me that was needed. He ignored the others. But, his need and anger scalded.

In my absence, they had each other. Only each other. The routine of their days diminished as they cycled through ages. Without me, they ate breakfast at the small table. He had his bran, she sometimes gummed toast. They wandered through the remaining hours with crossword puzzles and television. At night he slept while she wandered. He cared for her, nurtured her, made sure the doors were locked before dark. The Moon was locked inside at night.

I learned to stay away. I grew old enough to shun her chill and deny his heat. I imagined a life far from their gravity, a place where I could command my own Sun and become a new Moon. There was a day when I revealed my wounds, laid bare the invisible puckers of scar and charred flesh. Flaunting my damage, I longed for escape. It was a dream. Once caught within their orbit, I was always drawn back.

Later, I visited when forced, gibbous with adolescent righteousness, pretending to be a tepid stranger, unscarred and whole. Never again, would I linger on the edge of breakfast at the small table. I was too big for the Moon to rock to sleep. I freely spoke the language she forgot. The Sun no longer listened to my stories or brought me gifts. I could drive myself.

Still, he burned. Occasionally, across the crowded dining table, I met his eye. Sometimes I was defiance, he was the question. Or vice versa. He sat at the head, I at the foot. The Moon sat between, an arrangement as natural as rain.

Gradually, the Moon forgot the day. A night-time world embraced her as she drifted through the dark. The Sun learned to cook. He coaxed her to eat. When she wandered, he watched. When she finally slept, he retired to his room. She asked for nothing, locked in her own nocturnal orbit. He gave her what she needed.

The day they said the Sun was fading, I laughed. His defective heart sputtered. The others were angered and disgusted; they left me alone with my guilt. No matter how scarred, I was required to care. I knew he would shine once more. He would fight against his traitorous heart for each beat, if only, to be able to lock the doors before dark. For his Moon, who needed him.

In his absence, the Moon escaped; half-dressed, she roamed, lost in the driveway. I sat with her through the night, listened to her speak of carriages and snow, spoke to her in the language she forgot. I tucked her into the small bed as the Sunless day dawned. She slept while I locked the doors.

When the Sun left forever, the Moon waned and followed. He was buried first and deeper. In death, she guarded him, locked between him and the sky.

My wounds severed me from their world. As I sat on the unforgiving ground, I offered only tears to the earth that now kept them, leaving my scars to rot beneath the dirt.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


In a room inside a government building in Waterbury, CT, members of my family and I once again faced the man responsible for the deaths of my mother and aunt. We sat on a side of the room, perpendicular to the long table where the three members of the parole board sat. At the front of the room a large flat-screen TV held the image of the inmate. We could see him, but he could only hear us.

I know emotions were high for my sister, my niece, and my brother-in-law. For myself, I held on to the numbness that had steadily grown inside me since that awful morning of early-morning knocking at my door. I had wanted to come. I felt it was important. But I no longer knew why. Nothing said or done on this day would change anything. Though I often joke about them- my tough, sarcastic, driven mother and my crazy, hoarder of an aunt- there remains a deep hole full of "what-ifs" and longing that can never be healed.

I should still be angry. But I am not. I am numb.

I watched the screen and waited, witholding my judgement, holding on to the only scant scrap of hope I could imagine from this scenario. Was he truly sorry? Had prison changed this young man for the better? Can you look at an image on a television screen, listen to a voice, see into the soul of another human being and ome away with the assurance that all this loss was not for nought? No, but that was the fantasy I held to. I wanted a crystal ball.

It had been five years and I noted the changes.

He sat patiently, his hands folded against the front of his beige jumpsuit. His dark hair was cropped close, his goatee well-trimmed; it was easy to tell he had added muscle to his tall frame. He had aged. I waited to see if he had matured.

His daughter was now seven.

The parole chairwoman called the session to order. She listed all the things he'd done while in prison: he'd enrolled in drug and alcohol counseling, taken college courses. On paper, he was on the road to rehabilitation. He had jobs lined up for after release and he planned to live with his parents.

He spoke about what he'd done and what he'd learned. The board asked questions. He answered them with a quiet, humble voice.

In turn, my sister read a statement she had prepared, citing all the damage done to our family, letting him know of our continued pain, but also of our hope that he could find his way to a better life, learn to be a better father, and a productive, not destructive member of society.

My niece read an essay she had composed shortly after the Incident and followed it up with how that resonated now. She articulated her sadness, her anger, and her belief that his sentence was too lenient, that an early release would diminish the fact that he had killed two innocent women.

He was permitted to speak again. He wiped a tear as he expressed his sorrow, his guilt, and how he had a "life-sentence" knowing he had caused the deaths of our mother and aunt. The chairwoman called for a decision and we filed out of the room while the panel deliberated.

In our waiting area, we deliberated, too. Did we believe him? Could we dare?

It came down to one, simple thing. The words of remose, his apology to us, the family, those words should have been the first words out of his mouth as the hearing began, uttered because he believed them, not because he suddenly realized we were there and watching.

We were called back in and the verdict was read: parole denied, probation lengthened from three to five years. The board had not believed him, either.

And here I am, safe in my home, figuratively surrounded by friends and family, thinking about the advice I gave my niece before we went in to the hearing. Advice I learned after a different lesson. It has served me well. Like me, she thirsted for revenge, she wanted him to pay and pay for his crimes and the hurt she still feels; she was afraid they would let him go.(Though her words were what kept him in prison.) "It doesn't really matter." I told her. "In the end, we all have to live with what he did. And the only person you can control is yourself. You need to live your life. It will never intersect his again, whatever the outcome of today, unless you let your anger at him destroy you. Don't give him that power over you."

Am I following my own advice? I try. I am still numb. I am still conflicted. I wanted to believe him, wanted to see the positive, have faith in the changes, faith in his love for his daughter. I know I am naive. My anger and sorrow will return. I will again want him punished and will feel justified in denying him early freedom. Either way, I will continue with living my own life the best way I can. What he does and who he becomes is irrelevant.

But, deep inside, I hang on to the hope that it will sink in, that he will learn to feel remorse, that he will rehabilitate himself...that some shred of good will come out of this tragedy.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I'm Back.

It's a new year and I felt it was the perfect time for a new start. So what is my intention with this revised platform? Well, I have to admit, after lots of soul-searching, self-depreciating thought, where I questioned my purpose, my desire to write, and fought with my inner narcissist, I decided to let go a little. What does this mean? Probably nothing. But instead of detailing the minutae of my day or my rides or my writing progress, I thought I would share the things that chase that fading dark cloud farther away or post some creative writing instead of talking about the difficulties I encounter. Of course, the road to Hell... well, you know. So what do you say? Let's give it another go.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pony Possession

After much thought and consideration, I have finally concluded that the recent issue between Tucker and I is entirely his fault.

Was it only scant months ago, when the sun was warm and the days were long, that I laughingly mentioned my "racehorse's" lack of motivation? I made fun of the fact that a Morgan mare outwalked him? Yes, yes, that was true.

Well, welcome to the change of season.

I must add that Tucker has been great (after a little convincing to get on the trailer) when I have shipped him over to my friend Sheryl's for lessons. Everything I have asked of him, he has done willingly, with me flopping around and trying to find my balance. (For some reason-age, perhaps?-my ankles don't flex and absorb the motion, forcing me to brace over fences. Added to my tendency to snap back too quickly on the downside right onto Tucker's sensitive back.)

I really felt like I was getting somewhere.

So as a reward, I figured a few trail rides were in order. The first one started out fine. The late afternoon light was beautiful. Unseasonally warm, it was the quintessential autumn day. We meandered through the harvested cornfields, fallen leaves crunched under hooves, and those trees that had not shed their summer finery rustled in the slight breeze.

It was one of those rides that reignites my deep love for horses. Until we headed for home...

Suddenly, I was riding a plunging idiot. He bounced, he yanked, and cantered in place. I tried to bend him, turn him around, play with the reins, talk to him, remind myself to keep breathing, all of the things I have been told to do with a naughty horse. Except kick. I couldn't bring myself to boot him forward. When I lightened my contact, Tucker took the bit and ran. All of those times I could not get him to gallop, he was saving them for now. I pulled him up into another round of bouncing and yanking. I turned around and sent him away from home. It worked until I turned for home again. And time was not on my side.

As it got darker and his bounces gained altitude, I made the decision to walk the rest of the way. Once I dismounted, Tucker quieted. At least I got my exercise.

Fast forward to the next day. I was on a mission. We left earlier and I chose a route that offered a plethora of options. Same thing. Nice ride out. Turn for home and off to the rodeo!

I stayed with him longer, chose alternate routes to confuse him, but he knew which way meant home. And again, I was running out of daylight. And guts. There is something about being on a plunging beast alone in the woods to make you remember you are not immortal. There is the everpresent possiblity of bodily harm-especially on a rock-strewn, windy, undulating trail.

I gave it a good fight, battling between the leaping and galloping sideways, but in the end, I dismounted and did the long walk of shame back to the barn.

I have since overanalyzed what happened, what I could have done differently, and why my placid pony has become a fire-breathing demon. It all boils down to less turnout, more food(too much high-test), and, most of all, a severe need for some serious damage control. We're going to stay in the ring, reduce his grain intake and increase his turnout (hello, darkness my old friend).

At least now I know he has it in him- and maybe he just wanted me to eat my "non-racehorsey" words.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Popping in to Say Hello

Fifteen minutes. That is the extent of my "spare" time this morning. I've been busy. And I have written some blog posts, but...I haven't posted them.
They are horrible.

I don't like them. Not at all. I was trying to be funny and fell flat on my literary face.
A little bumped and bruised in the ego department. I'll get over it.

Meanwhile, my other writing projects are swimming along like happy little fishes. I can't have everything, I guess.

Now, I'm off to the barn to play with the ponies. (Well, lets be real. I'm going to clean up after them.)And then it is time to sit my butt in the chair and let the words flow. Hopefully, some of the more witty ones will find their way to this page.
I'm confident they will. Soon.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lovely Day for a...Power Walk?

Her name is Velvet. She is 14.3hands(or 59 inches at the shoulder), a lovely deep brown- so deep it should be called black, with a long flowing mane and tail; she is an excellent example of her breed: the Morgan Horse.
You know...Justin Morgan had a horse. Yeah I drank too much of the Kool-Aid in Vermont, but they are incredible horses. Imagine, a breed of horse supposedly traced back to a single sire. Even the noble Thoroughbreds were developed from three stallions.

But I don't want to give a lesson on equine history. Velvet lives in the here and now. And she lives in my barn.

Velvet is here for Mr. W. to ride, but since he works during the week(I didn't put the quotations around work- I am evolving)my friend Anne offered to ride with me. She used to ride Cosmo the Good Doober, until his passing last year (yes, I still miss him.) Nevermind that Anne now has her own "pony" - a 15 hand large boned Haflinger who lives in our sheep pasture until her barn is built. Oh and the "pony" has never been ridden- another small detail that needs attending.

Anne is tall, Velvet is not. No matter, Velvet is a Morgan. They are mighty. It finally stopped raining. So Anne and I saddled up and headed out. I mounted first and Tucker bounced a bit in excited anticipation. Anne swung her leg over Velvet's back...and away they went.

Let me make it clear that Velvet never did anything wrong; she never even broke out of a walk.

Tucker and I followed at a nice, brisk, forward walk. But Velvet was gone. She was fading into the distance, tail bouncing back and forth, head in the air, mane flowing in the breeze created by her speed. Tucker broke in to a jog to close the distance. Anne pulled back on the reins and Velvet slowed, turning around and chomping the bit in...anticipation? frustration?

Anne laughed and made like a train: "Choo choo. We've left the station!" And it's an express. Tucker and I caught up and off we went. Tucker gave his speedwalking all to no avail.

Velvet faded into the distance and we trotted to keep up. It was not a ride for conversing much, unless you count shouting. Mainly stuff like, "We're coming!" or "We'll get there!" or "Trotting up on your right!"

We passed the Hunt Kennels, the hounds were bellowing at two ladies walking their two dogs.

"Are your horses used to dogs? They're so pretty!"

I glanced at the cacophany of foxhounds, howling and barking. Um, yeah, they're used to dogs. Though Velvet was doing her best to imitate a giraffe as she surveyed her domain...

The one loose dog, a Lab, bounced around the horses' legs and wanted to follow, but he got tired an gave up once Velvet turned on the afterburners. Anne pulled her up a ways down the road and waited. Tucker sighed as I pressed my legs against his side and asked him to catch up.

Tucker pulled alongside and Velvet jumped slightly. I think she fell asleep while waiting. Either that or the large boulder on the side of the road was harboring a saber-toothed chipmunk, but Tucker usually finds those.

To get home, we had to climb a hill. Now, I use this particular stretch to condition Tucker- it's a great butt workout for him. I thought maybe, just maybe, it would slow Velvet down a tad.


I called out the turns as Velvet flew up the incline- still walking- while Tucker cantered, yes, cantered to keep up. With her walk! Did I mention that Velvet is 14.3 hands and Tucker is 5 inches (mostly leg length) taller? And Tucker has been ridden at least five times a week (when the weather is good); he's in fairly good shape. Velvet gets ridden...whenever someone has time.

We got closer to home and I was a little worried that Velvet, with her excessive speed and dense coat, would be overheating. Nah. She was a little sweaty, but her eyes were bright and eager. Anne and I could almost hear her saying "Well, that was a good warm-up, where to, now?" (Gotta love Morgans)

Tucker, however, was definitely looking forward to getting off that train.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why My Office is in the Barn!

I'm feeling a bit peckish today. I've been having a bit of trouble sleeping lately, for many reasons-overtired, reading good book, mulling over good writing ideas, a dog who likes to sleep with his hind feet toward my face and frequently stretches, another dog who insists he must pinion my legs, too hot, too cold, my hip hurts if I'm on my right side, stiff neck on my left, not comfy on my back or get the idea. I'm just the princess and the pea restless lately. Plus I wake up at 5:30 AM waiting for the elderly Jack Russell to get up, which makes the mixed breed perk up and wait for me.

The bottom line is I decided to relax a bit and write at home. Yeah.

It goes something like this:

Push the kitten out of my skim chai latte (LOVE the Keurig milk frother!)

Yell at the dogs to get away from the kitten's crate-they love the litter and the food.

Shoo dogs out of office. Put up the gate and barricade the door.

Sigh when the Pomeranian starts whining. Let him in the office.

Yell at the ancient JRT when she knocks down the gate and tries to jump the barricade.

Go see what the other dogs are incessantly barking at.

Tell them to stop. They do. Walk away. Run back an yell at mixed breed who has returned to whoofing at the door. Look outside and assure myself that there is nothing there. Place hands over ears when all four dogs return to barking just because the mixed breed sees a bird in the lawn. Threaten all dogs with bodily harm if they don't stop. Stomp my feet to get their attention and tell them, "good dogs" when they look at me like I am possessed.

Go back to computer and type a few words. Sip what the kitten left of my skim chai latte. Pet kitten who has lovingly settled on my lap.

Get aggravated with JRT trying to force her way in. Move the kitten, who bites me to let me know he's annoyed at being moved. Lock the kitten's crate, move gate and unblock the door.

Type some more.

Grab kitten before he pees in a bucket of snake bedding (don't ask, I don't know why it's there either), unlock crate, shove kitten in box, lock crate.

Why are they barking now? Go look. Let them all outside to bark.

Hit the keyboard a few times.

Yell at the Brittany who is throwing himself at the door and barking to come back inside. After all, he's been out for a whole nano-second. (Yes, this is the dog who used to have an automatic doggy-door. It would open when he came near with his special collar. He burnt the motor out. Enough said.)

Let dogs three dogs in, let kitten out and relock crate.

Sit at the computer again.

Go let the fourth dog in, who couldn't be bothered to come to the door with the rest, he waits until I get comfortable and back into some semblance of a writing rhythm to emit a high pitched bark every three seconds, just in case I wasn't aware that he is ready to come in NOW.

Type until the JRT starts scratching at the crate's tray in an attempt to dump the kitten's food dish.

Push her away. Ok and yell a bit, then feel guilty for pushing and yelling because she is so ancient.

Type some more.

Break up dog fight between the old JRT and the mix (Maltese/Shih Tsu/JRT-what were they thinking? And what was my mother thinking when she adopted him...sigh) as they argue over who has the right to dig their way into the kitten crate for food. (And while I appreciate their kindness in wanting to clean the litter box, I must gracefully decline said offer.)

Clean litter box and remove food dish to a high shelf.


Yell at kitten who is climbing the shelf to get to his food.

Shoo dogs out of the room, yell at the JRT for trying to bite my foot, tell the Brittany to go lie down, break up another bicker session between the JRT who has snuck back to the kitten crate and the mix who now thinks it all belongs to him. Physically pick both up and throw them out of the room. Close the door and settle down to...

What did I want to write again? Oh. Yeah. Ok. Sip my cold skim chai latte. Revel in a moment of peace and quiet. The kitten comes back and snuggles on my lap again.


Until the Pomeranian starts whining and scratching at the door...