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Dorothy A Sep 2018
Are you a friend?
Or are you a foe?
I think I like you
Well...I don't know
Just a tongue-and-cheek thought running through my mind
Mar 2018 · 336
Tightrope of Hope
Dorothy A Mar 2018
Doesn't it feel that way, sometimes?
That hope is a thin line
And your tottering over it?
One misstep and you fear
It's soon gone
It's over and so are you
As you plunge
Into the abyss.

That's when hope is
Thinning out
And the rope is fraying
And the line is swaying..
And if you can only make it
Before it all falls apart
Jul 2017 · 423
Planet Cell Phone
Dorothy A Jul 2017
I have a beef with plenty of things. One of them is how self absorbed we have become because of those **** cell phones. No, I am not a hypocrite. I own one. I cannot imagine not having a cell phone, for it comes in handy, especially when one is stuck on the road with a car that is broken down or if you receive an emergency call. Though I know, from personal experience, how life was before cell phones. We survived.

I still have a flip phone. Yeah, I'm behind the times, I admit. It's just that I do not want to pay a higher bill. I got enough bills. Would I enjoy those extra bells and whistles? You bet! But like my car, I just am looking at what I need verses what I desire.  I don't want to google and go on the internet as I am on the go to here, there and everywhere. I have plenty of internet use as it is, enough to say that I don't want to access it on of all places--the cell phone in my purse.  

So what has become of us? It used to be that the biggest enemy to being behind the wheel was intoxication. Not drinking and driving has been driven into our heads. A terrible problem. Now we are intoxicated on our technological toys. Texting and driving has become the new road hazard, comparable to *****.

Cell phones are everywhere, and people are on them like their lives depend on them. And do we really pay attention anymore? How about the person next to us who we may never notice? Our cell phones have invaded our need to be aware of our surroundings. It seems we are missing out on so much because of it.  

We would be lost without our precious cell phones--at least we think we would. I admit I am guilty. But sometimes, I'd just like to throw mine out the window and be free of the thing once and for all.
Jul 2017 · 385
Place in the Sun
Dorothy A Jul 2017
Sea of faces
All different races
Going all different places

I was at the mall
A solo mission
People were passing me by
A throng of beings
Going about their way
How I longed to connect with them
Any of them
For I had no smile
And the smiles I witnessed
Were not for me

My heart
Wanted to have a part
Lonely from the start

Loneliness has been my
Old, yet unwelcome companion
Since I was a girl
And it still reminds me
That it lurks in the shadows
In my shadow
As it follows me everywhere
In which the light cannot shine in

No matter your plight
Keep searching for that light
For every dawn banishes every night

That was my hope talking
Just now, that is
Indeed, it is a God given gift
Along with a faith
That refuses to give in
That says that I am *beautiful

That says that I am loved
That says that I am wanted

So now those sea of faces
In that tide of loneliness
Haven't swallowed me whole
As I, at first, feared that they would
For in those myriad of faces
I believe that theirs and mine
Are not so different after all
We are merely kindred spirits
Simply on that indomitable quest
Each one somehow searching for the light
And longing for that
Place in the sun
Jun 2017 · 396
Mouthpiece
Dorothy A Jun 2017
We writers
We are all artists
We are a mouthpiece
To add to the voices of the world
We express pain
We express love
We express life
We express disappointment
We express despair
We express hope
It is just that the pen
Is our choice of expression

Violins make their point
When the bow crosses their strings
And the ear is filled with music

We are the collective melodies
That share kinship to their song

Trumpets blare their sounds
As the breath of the player
Makes contact with the instrument

We are the breath of the world
Jun 2017 · 370
What Survival Means to Me
Dorothy A Jun 2017
When you've felt like there is nothing left of you
You're spent - flat out on the ground
The craziness of life has mowed you over
Well, you get up and stand
That is what survival means to me

If you cannot stand
And you have to crawl awhile
Then that's how you make it
To get yourself moving

If you can rise up
But your legs feel broken
Then you use a crutch
But you get moving

If you are utterly helpless
And someone else
Has to lift you up
Well, then reach out your hand
For it's up to you to start moving

The world is full of survivors
Apr 2017 · 1.1k
If I Were A Poem...
Dorothy A Apr 2017
If I were a poem
Would I rhyme?
If I were a poem
Would I be free verse?
Would I be classical or modern?
Ordinary or a cut above?
Minimal or long winded?
Humorous or deep?
Make an impact or keep it simple?

I have written all such things
So I'm not sure
Dorothy A Mar 2017
He was an old cowboy, and he never liked to hear that cowboys were a dying breed. Those were fighting words, indeed, so don't ever tell him that. Yes, a cowboy, through and through, and he hoped he'd die in the open, big sky of Montana, right by his old horse, Dusty. Falling in love with the outdoors, he grew up working on his uncle's ranch and was hooked from the very start. Now Ride 'Em Rick had breathed his last and finally met his Maker. He was ready, for sure, and died with his boots on, just like he hoped would happen. It wasn’t out in the open, but as he was snoozing on his recliner and he never woke up.

When most of his children were arguing about things they shouldn't be, Jet took charge to see to a proper burial. He refused to be among the squabbling siblings.

You never visited him!

Oh, yeah! The only reason you came over was to get more money out of him!

I loved Pop! You never loved the man!

You're just like him! Pigheaded! Impossible to tell you a ****** thing!

He's not just your dad, so don't act so high and mighty!

And so how would Pop have wanted to be buried? He was a hard man to know—even  after seventy-seven years on this earth. Well, Jet knew his father was a proud man, and a lover of all things cowboy. It would be nothing fancy—he’d be done up in his good flannel shirt and jeans, and of course with his boots on, and his cowboy hat slightly tucked under his cold, hard fingers.  A lasso would be a nice touch, and some of the old, cowboy tunes during the service would be perfect. Surely, if Rick was going to die with his boots on, they’d stay with him to the very end. So that was how it all would be.

And so Ride 'Em Rick looked regal in his humble garb. Stony in life, so he was in death. Mostly, the old man kept his distance, and that seemed normal to Jet. But now standing with his two boys, one on each side of him, Jet hoped he would have been a more hands-on father to his sons. With the help of his wife, Carly, he was surely keeping on course. The siblings were still at odds, but there were plenty of tears and hugs going around to keep the peace and to make a good gathering. And so it was a fitting farewell to man who felt most at home on the trails and in the saddle, buried with his boots on.
Dorothy A Mar 2017
Aubrey was confronted by her mom in the kitchen as she was making her lunch for school the next day. "Two sandwiches?" her mom questioned. "What's up with that, Aubrey? Since when do you eat more than one sandwich?" Actually Aubrey ate well. It was always a healthy lunch for her, perhaps a sandwich with some lettuce and tomato on it, or something cooked and leftover. She rarely indulged in sweet snacks, like her brother and sister did, never going without a couple pieces of fruit in her bag.  

Audrey was a freshman in high school, and she was a forthright girl. There was no need to hide anything, so  she replied nonchalantly, "It's not for me. It is for Wade Hodak. He doesn't have a sandwich in his lunch".

With her hands on her hips, Audrey's mom smelled something fishy. Was Wade taking advantage of her? She replied, "And why not? Since when is it up to you to look after him?"

"Mom!" Aubrey protested. "He is lucky his mom even gets any child support from his dad! Her paycheck doesn't come til the end of the week. Sometimes, he eats okay, but sometimes they just don't have the money! You know how it is with bills and stuff! It is usually just a bag of chips and whatever else he can find"

Aubrey's mom only vaguely knew of Wade Hodak. What little she knew of his mother, his mom seemed on the up-and-up. She remembered that the woman had to pull her daughter out of  dance class because she couldn't afford it, the same class her younger daughter was in.

Aubrey's mom smiled and gave her a kiss and a hug, "Peanut butter and jelly?" Well, don't lay it on too thin.", she advised.  Aubrey smiled big, a sweet smile with those braces on her teeth, and she was becoming a beautiful, young woman, both inside and out.

"That's what I was hoping you would say", Aubrey said and added, gratefully. "Thanks mom".  Peanut butter and jelly it was.
Mar 2017 · 332
Going Home (a flash story)
Dorothy A Mar 2017
Lily drove past tiny towns and big metropolises.  She packed up what she could in her small car and left the rest behind, anything to get away from the life that she helplessly felt was eroding away into disaster.

Her dad was right. "Never fall for a guy who is more in love with himself than he is with you," was his advice to her as she was about to embark to Los Angles. A practical man from Iowa, who was most comfortable on the cornfields, Lily's dad was always her solid rock.  She never felt she should compare her men in her life to her dad, but they fell far short in the comparison that she never tried to use as her measuring stick. Nothing phony or pretentious about him in his daughter's eyes, Mack was the real deal of what a man should be.

Now her husband, Trey, was just the opposite. He was the lead singer of a local band, and his magnetic attraction towards women was certainly not uncommon among musicians. They fell for him like he was the Pied Piper—for he was viewed as a lady killer—and he willingly obliged more than once to any adoring female fan. Lily couldn't put up with it anymore, and so she was heading home. Two years since she saw her dad, he was surely there to welcome her back with open arms.  He told her she always had a place in his home. Her old yellow lab, Buster, was waiting for her, too.    

Lily drove past mountains and valleys, twists and turns, drove by wheat fields and wildflowers. They were the breadcrumbs that paved a way to the cornfields and sleepy, little towns that were all so familiar to her. Once she got there, she'd give her dear dad a huge bear hug, receive dozens of sloppy kisses from her dog, greet an old friend or two, and take a nice good bubble bath—anything to clear her mind and soothe her soul.

So it was Iowa, once again, that she would make as her home. From there, who knew? All she knew is that she was well on her way.
Mar 2017 · 623
The Receiving End
Dorothy A Mar 2017
Often I've felt like I was on the outside,
Forever looking in..and
Now I've come to believe I'm someone in this world
It is so nice to be on the receiving end
Dorothy A Mar 2017
Dave took his little boy for a stroll. Hand in hand, they went, as-three-year old Brody loved walking with his daddy. The spring weather was finally here, and green color was starting to return back to the landscape. Brody stopped and  pointed up in the air, and shouted, "Daddy, look! Birds running in the sky!"

A flock of birds flew on by, fleetingly,  and Dave smiled down at his son beaming up at him. Oh, that little-man-in-the making! It was like father, like son! Dave used to say such things when he was his age, yet he never heard it put that way before. Birds running in the sky--wonder what the birds thought of the ant-men down below? He exclaimed to his son, "Those critters have feathered wings, and they can travel like airplanes!  And they can also relax a while and soar through the sky like they were floating on air! Like balloons!" Dave put his hands out like he was an airplane and Brody followed his lead.

"I want to fly!" Brody declared, running around in circles with his outstretched arms.

"Me, too!" echoed Dave. He knelt down on one leg and pulled his boy next to him and pointed to the sky. "When I was a kid I thought those clouds were made of marshmallows. My dad used to say to me, 'Let's go outside and play catch under the marshmallow roof'".   The cottony, white clouds were billowy, three-dimensional puffs of fluff, stuffed up in various patches as if to decorate the big, blue sky.

Brody gave his father a big boy squeeze, a precious moment, indeed. Dave never wanted to lose that imagination that he could share with his son, and his son could share with him.  They both continued on,  making their way under the marshmallow sky.
Dorothy A Mar 2017
It’s a horrible feeling when you belong to nobody, and nobody belongs to you. When you don’t matter to a single soul—there is no worse feeling in the world. That feeling nagged Clem throughout much of his life. He used to walk around, wounded and broken inside. Though what he felt inside may never have shown on his tough armor that he wore in public, Clem often felt his life pretty much meant nothing. So how did he ever get to where he was today? How did he get to be so blessed? It amazed him.

Born in 1917, Clem Manning never thought he’d ever make it to one hundred years old, yet here he was. Today was his special day, though he didn’t want any fuss over it all. But he was living with his daughter, Violet, for the past few years, and she wouldn’t have it any other way but to put together a celebration to remember. With a houseful of people, some inside, some in the backyard, and some on the front porch, Clem could say that he no longer felt that he belonged to nobody and nobody belonged to him. It was a beautiful Arizona day, and the distant mountains were ablaze in a fiery purple.  It was a day made for birthdays.  

Seeing one make it to one hundred was rare and amazing sight to witness. To make it this long meant you beat the odds.  Most of all, it was amazing to good, old Clem, himself. His parents died young, long before he could remember them. If others in his family lived longer, he never would have known. The only kin he knew of was his aunt and her husband. They may have taken him in, but he certainly never felt wanted. Both of them slapped him around, punished him by locking him in closets, and prevented him from eating meals when he was bad. They also neglected his needs of decent clothing and a good bed. He had a beat up mattress on the floor or nothing but the hard floor, itself, when he was being punished.  Thankfully, somehow someone intervened, and he ended up in a boy’s home. That place wasn’t a whole lot better when it came to dodging a hard hand, but he was kept clean and with a full belly.

Clem ran away when he was fifteen from that place, and that was in the throes of the Depression. From there on, he fended for himself. His days of experiencing hunger from living at his aunt’s house helped him to be street smart. The petty thievery he learned to master—just to manage to stay alive—continued on beyond childhood.  Like many men, down on their luck and traveling the country, he rode the rails illegally. Just how did Clem survive to be so old, anyway? In his hobo days, he’s been shot at, chased by police, and bitten by dogs. He also almost drowned once in a rapid river, and had a bout with double pneumonia that made him downright delusional and on Death’s door.  

But when the second world war came about, life became easier for Clem. He found his sweetheart, Bess, married her and settled down out west. He wanted to fight in the war, but a hernia disqualified him from joining. His life was surely spared then, for many of his friends were drafted in the army, went overseas, but never made it back alive.    

It sure has been one heck of a life. Resting in his easy chair, he was thankful he still had his wits about him—had a sound noggin—and that he could see and hear still alright—with the help of coke bottle glasses and a hearing aid. Everything that surrounded him was a grand sight to look at, knowing that he helped to create all this hustle and bustle of people in his presence, those here simply to honor him.

He and Bess had three of their own children, Hank, Violet and Daisy, and they also adopted two more, Ted and Sam. It was during those days in the home for boys that Clem saw some of the luckier ones go to good families, selected by potential parents that could give them the secure homes they desperately wanted.  Clem was never picked but picked over. Because he never got that chance, he swore he’d help out those just like him, ones who felt unwanted or ignored, ones that belonged to nobody and nobody belonged to them. He did just that very thing and strove to become the best dad he could possibly be. This was a learning experience for him, and his mistakes were his teachers. Nobody showed him how to be a father, but Bess was his rock and his ally. How he longed to be with her, again.

Clem outlived all of his friends. He lost his sweet Bess fourteen years ago, and buried one of his children—his beloved firstborn child, and it wasn't easy to bury Hank. It should have been the other way around.. There were now thirteen grandchildren, and he never did remember how many great grandchildren that there were, but they were all here now. It was a miracle to have everyone under one roof, as there was family scattered all across the country. He smiled to himself as he thought about how everyone took the time out of their busy lives just for one, old geezer.  

“You better matter to someone right now”, Clem once told a good friend, “Cuz one day you’ll be long gone, and you’ll be lucky if anyone knows your name. It doesn’t matter if you are loved by one hundred people—or one person. That’s how I see it, anyways”.  

With his wife’s relations, and his children and their families, Clem knew the family tree had plenty of branches on it. His life did matter in this world. One of his grandchildren, Amber, mapped a tree out, and she made it all seem so spectacular, and put together like a royal family’s would be. Sketched around the details was a tree done in colored pencil—vivid greens and browns that were eye catching to even a old man with weak eyes—and today it was on display for everyone to inspect and talk about.  

Clem knew very well that his days were waning, that soon he’d just be a memory in the minds of his children and his grandchildren—probably not his great grandchildren who would barely remember him, if at all. Someday, he’d just be a name in the family records of that famous family tree. Like he said to his friend, his name would barely matter to anyone some day. He was simply Clem Manning, a guy who got a break in life and dodged disaster. Maybe only the good did die young, or perhaps he was just too stubborn to die.

But this wasn’t a day for having a sourpuss or for dwelling on the hard things. This was a day to remember for everyone, more than just a birthday for a lucky, old guy that beat the odds. Clem couldn’t eat much of the food made for his birthday feast—too rich or not appealing to his declining appetite—but he promised to have a nice sized slice of cake. It was red velvet with cream cheese frosting, his favorite.

Happy Birthday to you…happy birthday to you…happy birthday, dear Cle-em

Da-ad

Grand-pa

Happy Birthday to you!

There was lots of applause, cell phones out and cameras snapping for picture taking, as Clem tried to blow out the three candles—1-0-0. Thankfully, he had a bit of help from the little ones up close, for Clem wanted to still show nothing was going to beat him, especially three, little, measly candles. But those weren’t just measly candles. They represented so much of who he was.

He still couldn’t believe he made it to see this day. How on earth did he pull it off, anyway?
Mar 2017 · 322
Limerick #4
Dorothy A Mar 2017
There was a handsome man named *****
Who made his home in East Toledo
Ladies' eye candy
Binoculars handy
As he jogged on by in his speedos
Mar 2017 · 611
Of The Stars
Dorothy A Mar 2017
If women are really from Venus
And men are really from Mars
Both are from the stars

Both complete the human race
Both portray an equal part
That creates a beating, human heart
Dorothy A Mar 2017
As she often did, Mandy wanted to see the sunrise, but she missed it while struggling to get up and make herself a much needed cup of coffee. Her mug in hand, along with her favorite magazine, she walked out onto her front porch to enjoy the tranquility of the fresh, new day. She thought she caught something out of her peripheral vision and was quite caught off guard. A bit startled, she did not immediately recognize the sleeping figure to her left. Even more startled, she soon realized what she was seeing.  

“Lloyd? What are you doing here?”

Lloyd didn’t move a muscle at her response, sleeping fairly soundly, too soundly to know that he should have already been in his car and long gone.
Again, she asked, “Why are you on my porch? Lloyd! Lloyd!” She nudged him in the shoulder a few times. Was he drunk? There was no smell of alcohol on him.

Now she had roused him out of his slumber, and Lloyd flinched. He was dumbfounded and needed a minute to get his bearings. With a sheepish smile, he slowly sat up and produced a pretty long yawn, stretching out his arms to shake off the night. He was in a rumpled T shirt and jeans, and certainly could have used a blanket.  

Just what her brother doing on her gliding patio couch anyhow, acting like a hobo? Getting it together, he responded, “I just didn’t want to be there...couldn’t handle it last night.”

Mandy’s heart sank. “You mean you were afraid to be home by yourself”, she confirmed to his confession.

He nodded, reluctantly, and slumped back in a slouched position. Mandy handed him her cup of coffee. He needed it more than she did, and he was glad to have it. Her feet in fuzzy slippers shuffled back to the front door as she stopped, turned towards him and said to him, “If it wasn’t summer out I’d call you completely and utterly crazy. You know you could have just told me what really was going on in your head, and I’d have let you sleep on the couch. All you needed to do was to ask—no not ask—tell—tell me instead of making my front porch your hotel room. What kind of sister do you think I am?” She wasn’t sure that her little lecture got through his thick skull.

Before she opened up the door, she threw her little brother a slight glance of compassion and said, “I’ll make us some breakfast…”  

Mandy asked their brother, Bill, if Lloyd was acting strangely in his company, as well. He said, “Yeah, he hangs around here a lot more than he used to.  We have him over for dinner a lot, and I know he feels like an intruder…though he never says it. Karen never complains and the kids like having their uncle around.” Bill paused and added, “He used to be so much fun, but I see the difference. I see when he pretends with the kids, and see how it is when he is more alone. He probably doesn’t think I notice.  I notice”.

Bill and Mandy always looked after their little brother.  A gregarious boy, he always loved attention. Getting that attention often meant getting himself into trouble. He found himself in the principal’s office more than once—pulling the fire alarm was a prank that got him two days suspension. It could also be graffiti, clowning around in class, coming in with a jar of spiders to freak other students out, or initiating skipping school with his friends made him a big target for trouble.

When it was Devil’s Night, there was one demon that could be counted on for soaping windows and tossing toilet paper up trees. It seemed like harmless kids stuff, but it got Lloyd caught and in his room for punishment for one, whole week after school. It seemed he was grounded all the time, and his mother often delivered his punishment, but she still held a soft spot for her son.  

Lloyd had his redeeming qualities. Everyone thought Lloyd would be great in the drama club in high school, not one timid bone in his body, and he could captivate an audience. He’d be great for the stage. So when the school was putting on the play, Fiddler On The Roof, Lloyd got to be understudy for the role of Tevya. When Joe Schwinn came down with a really bad cold, Lloyd finally got his chance to get on stage.

It was just that Lloyd had such a huge task to be the lead role for this production. It wasn’t that he didn’t learn the lines, but it was a tall order to fill.  He was doing a pretty good job, but he was adlibbing all throughout the play, getting a few, unexpected laughs here and there. But when it came time for Tevya to confront his third daughter and her Gentile boyfriend for wanting to marry outside his Jewish faith, Lloyd really started to get stumped. He couldn’t think of his next line, and everything got uncomfortably quiet. He soon blurted out, “Leave my daughter alone and don’t come back, you **** *******!”

It got him the biggest laugh of the night, but also booted out of the drama club and back into the principal’s office the next school day. Nevertheless, Lloyd got lots of high fives from other students, had a blast, and loved having his moment in the limelight.  

Being the youngest in the family, Lloyd’s immaturity made his parents’ hair turn grey—at least that is what his father told him. After taking the family car out for spin to impress his friends, when he only had his permit, Lloyd got into a minor fender ******. He was afraid to call his dad, but the police never gave it a second thought.

His father was furious. “Bill and Mandy, put together, never gave us even an inch of the trouble you give us!” he shouted to his son. For that foolish gesture, Lloyd did not get his license at sixteen, like his friends did. He had to wait until he could legally sign for his own, and that was at eighteen.  It wasn’t cool to wait while all his friends were driving their own cars.

But now Lloyd was thirty-one. He seemed to have learned his lessons, and was a fairly responsible man. He was glad his mother lived to be proud of him, before cancer took her life. He still did not feel he was that much of an accomplishment to his father, and they only talked occasionally. It was like his dad blamed him for her passing, and Lloyd would have done anything to have her back.

In contrast to his funny, devil-may-care side, Lloyd had the more serious, thought provoking side. When his report card wasn’t as full of A grades—like Bill or Mandy’s—he would beat himself up over it. In spite of his shenanigans, he was actually a very good student

He really missed his mom. Though she often wanted to shake some sense into him, still she always believed in him. Now Mandy kind of took up that roll in her place. Even after he could make her angry, his mom would not hesitate to sit him down and tell him things like, “I’m proud of you Lloyd. It’s not what you do. It is who you are…and you are my son.”  If only he could hear those words again from her lips.

Why would he want to go home to an empty house? Especially, the nights were the hardest. The digital clock by his bed seemed to be frozen in time, and the nightmare of insomnia seemed endless.

After knowing him for over six years, with four-and-a half years of married life together, Pamela left him. She once loved him-- or so he thought. She loved his crazy side—his humor and his fun loving nature. Maybe it was the miscarriage that did it. They both wanted children. Maybe it was because Pamela felt sheltered all her life, and soon discovered that marriage would be the way she envisioned it. Maybe it was him--period.  Anyway, she left Lloyd and it tore a hole in his soul. On top of that, he was denied a promotion in the office that went to someone else who didn’t work there as long as he did. The group of friends that he had known much of his life grew apart. Life was caving in around him and he felt helpless to do anything about it.      

It was Mandy who came up with the idea running through her mind. She told Bill, but he was against it and told her to stay out of it. Well, Mandy’s friend, Libby, was cousins with Tammy. It was Tammy who lived down the street from Lindsay and was acquainted with her. Mandy usually never played matchmaker, but she found out that Lindsay was divorced, too, and without any children. Since she dated Lloyd several years ago, at least they weren’t embarking on like some blind date that nobody really wanted to meet up with.

Sure, Lloyd was lonely, but it wasn’t for Lindsay. He was lonely for Pamela. How could his sister expect him to just get over her?  She, too, was alone, almost married her longtime boyfriend, but backed out. Didn’t she understand? But Mandy made Lindsay her Facebook friend, and told her all about the latest with her brother. Though he was a bit perturbed, Lloyd knew his sister meant well. Soon, upon Mandy’s recommendation,  Lindsay sent Lloyd a Facebook request to be her friend.

They never had dated all that long—less than a year. Lindsay reminded him of that duration of time when he first came over for a visit to sit out on her deck in her back yard. To shut Mandy up, he agreed to see her at least once. By now, the feelings for her had long passed. They were once an item together, but it was over a decade ago. They seemed like just kids at the time, though they were twenty-years-old at the time. Lindsay was actually two months older.

“My mom was so upset when she knew I had been drinking with you”, she told him. “You remember?”

Lloyd lifted up his beer in irony and Lindsay lifted hers as they clunk their bottles together. They both burst out laughing, a rarity for both. “I know. She would never allow liquor in your house”, Lloyd said, “Strict Baptist lady, for sure!”

Lindsay teased him. “Oh, you’re such a bad influence! Mom was right!”

“I was!” he exclaimed. “We were underage and lucky no harm came of it other than some **** in the toilet. No wonder your mom wanted you to ditch me!”

Lindsay always tried to please her mother who single handedly raised her only daughter. That was hard to do, though no matter what Lindsay did. She liked Lloyd a lot, but she also loved her mom. But just where was there relationship going anyway.

“You know”, Lindsay confessed. “You were my first, real love”.  She playfully winked and sipped on her beer. “I love bad boys”.

It was like the rebel in Lindsay was delayed, not like it was in her younger years. She always tried to be the good girl, the dutiful daughter, unlike Lloyd. The two were in the same grade, and went to the same high school, but they barely knew of each other in those days. They were never in the same class together and only saw each other in passing down the school halls. Her locker was once across from his. Lindsay did remember, though, his famous role as Tevya, and thinking about it again made her crack up like it just happened the other day.

“You are so much more laid back”, he told her. “I guess your mother was always there to crack the whip, but not anymore. How is she, by the way?”

Lindsay looked sad for Lloyd as she said, “Like your mom, she got cancer, but thank God she recovered. She moved to Florida a few years ago because my brother and his wife insisted the climate would be better for her.” It was actually a relief to not have to rely on her mother. She now had no excuses.  “Sorry to hear about your mother, Lloyd. My condolences.”

Lloyd appreciated her condolences. They reminisced a while, but neither one wanted to talk about the pain of being alone nor express the pain of feeling like utter losers. Lindsay wanted to open up about her two failed marriages, but she also wanted to forget about them. Lloyd was never one to share his innermost thoughts to her. He certainly didn’t want to tell her that he preferred to sleep in his car or on his sister’s front porch or that he tried not to cry because guys don’t do that, struggling with the lump in his throat from holding back so much.  

After talking about their times at the lake, of how they loved to lay on the ground and look at the stars, Lindsay finally said, “I don’t really want to date anyone at this time. I don’t really feel like doing a lot, lately, that I used to do.”

Lloyd didn’t look at her, but felt her eyes upon him. “I know what you mean”, he agreed.  “Depression *****, doesn’t it?”

“I know”, she responded. “I’ve been seeing this counselor for a while, another one, and I guess it helps. I wondered if I’d ever feel anything again. I just often felt like I was going through the motions…and that it was the best way to just get along in life.”

Lloyd didn’t know what to say. Often, he felt the same way, but he just couldn’t voice it. Would he ever want to share his life again with another woman? No, Pamela wasn’t coming back. Everyone told him so, especially Mandy. She never really felt that good about him marrying Pamela to start with, but it wasn’t up to her. It was over. Lloyd logically knew that about Pamela, but emotionally he still wasn’t there.

“I pretend a lot”, Lindsay told him. “I mean I do what I’m supposed to do—go to work, pay my mortgage and my bills…I’m just existing but not living. I’ve made my mistakes, and now I’m afraid—period.  I prefer playing it safe. I prefer not to feel.” She smiled to lighten the atmosphere and rested her hand on his. “Now how’s that for a good catch phrase for a dating website?”  

Lloyd pondered upon what she said. He could have easily said it himself. Eventually, he stood up and extended his hand out. He decided they should go for a walk. It was about three and a half miles to the park they used to hang out in—a good spot.  They walked hand in hand, like they were still together. The wind blew through Lindsay’s hair and spread it around like plant life in the ocean, soft and swaying. She was lovely.

They got to the park and Lloyd pushed her on her swing, higher and higher until she felt like a little girl again. Then they went down the slides and the balance beams. Lindsay would tickle him in the back to try to get him off balance, or she’d push him off and he would pretend to chase her and give it to her. They truly enjoyed each other’s company. Being together really banished the blues for the time, and kept the ugly thoughts of loneliness at bay and from rearing its ugly face.

“So where do we go from here?”  Lindsay asked.

“Huh?” Lloyd wondered what she was getting at. Did she mean for the park or in a deeper way?

“Can we be friends?” she asked him. She seemed uneasy, as if he would say, “Thanks, but no thanks”.

Lloyd felt a bit uneasy himself. He never wanted to hurt Lindsay, or Pamela or anyone. “Of course we can,” he told her. He said what he meant, too. He really wanted to spend time with her. “Let’s just enjoy things for what they are”.

Lloyd picked up some pieces of mulch, and threw them one by one, ahead of him. He asked Lindsay, “Was I really your first love?”

Lindsay thought a moment, and then pulled him by the arm, taking Lloyd to one of the picnic tables. She inspected it.  No, it wasn’t that one. She looked at another table. No, it wasn’t that one, either. And then she went to another one.

He asked, “What are you doing?”

“Found it!” she said at last. Lloyd looked at the table, and among all the carvings in it, Lindsay pointed out what she intended to find.

Lloyd loves Lindsay

“Did I write that?” he asked. He didn’t remember it. He ran his hands over the indented letters surrounded by an uneven heart.

They both sat down and Lindsay explained. “All the time that we were together, I knew I was really starting to like you. I mean really, really like. I wasn’t sure at first, but the feelings just got stronger. I just didn’t want to be the first one to say it—and I thought you’d never!” Her eyes beamed as she went on. “Then it happened. You said, ‘Baby, I love you”. I said, ‘What? Did I just hear what I think I heard?’ Again, you said, ‘Lindsay, I really love you’. You could have knocked me over with a feather! I never thought you’d say it, but I hoped you would!”

Now he remembered. At the time, he was carving something into the table with his pocket knife. When he finally got the urge to tell Lindsay that he loved her, she asked to borrow his knife and right then she wrote it in the table. Lloyd than took back his knife and topped it all off with outlining those words in a heart.

Lloyd truly did love Lindsay. He didn’t lose those feelings after all. To know she loved him back was like medicine to him now. They began to walk back to her house
Mar 2017 · 235
Personal Limerick #2
Dorothy A Mar 2017
You've heard that Michigan looks like a hand
We all come from somewhere - that's my land
Honored of where I'm from
Far along I have come
It's the Great Lake State in which I stand
Mar 2017 · 319
Personal Limerick
Dorothy A Mar 2017
There was a girl born in Motown
Cold Detroit day with snow on the ground
I'm February's girl
An oyster's pearl
My writings become my voice, my sound
Feb 2017 · 267
Limerick #3
Dorothy A Feb 2017
Fefe hailed from the state of Maine
She loved to guzzle down champagne
A party girl
Diamonds and pearls
Sugar daddies always played her game
Feb 2017 · 189
Limerick #2
Dorothy A Feb 2017
Black Widow did whatever she pleased
She really was such a tease
Caught up in her web
Her men all left for dead
They infiltrated her lair like fleas
Feb 2017 · 320
Limmerick
Dorothy A Feb 2017
I wsih to write a limerick that's fine
But I'm gettin nowhere, line by line
In fact, it *****
I want to rip it up
But maybe more will come to mind :-(
Feb 2017 · 367
Age of Innocence
Dorothy A Feb 2017
I miss the age of innocence
No, I'm not an angel
As none of us are
The terrible twos and those tantrums...
But that tiny child
Who didn't have a cynical
Or snarky bone
In her whole body
.............................That was once me

For quite some time, we Americans
Loved to pretend we were so naive
When Lucy and Desi slept in twin beds
When Leave It To ****** produced perfect parents
When the world seemed less disturbing
As we wore those rose colored glasses
  
In my parents' generation
Nothing seemed meaningless
We were victorious and invincible
In the midst of World War II
There was great glamour and pride
The news wasn't 24/7- craziness

This was all before my time
I am a product of the sixties
When the Vietnam War surely made war seem like Hell
When fighters for civil rights showed us the ugliness of racism
When what it meant to be female was quickly shedding its old skin
Far from the role my mother represented to me

I wish I could be that believing again
That trusting and forgiving
I miss being so unaware
So fresh in imagination
Where I could shield myself from it all
And I'm now sad that I never will be that way again
Dorothy A Feb 2017
Hold onto that Faith
When others mock and see faith in God as foolish
When you're told your final destination is the cold, dark grave
When you are branded as illogical, uneducated and ignorant
When Doubt is knocking at your front door and demands a foothold

Hold onto that Hope
When you sense you are in a downward spiral
When you are tired of the long uphill
When tears threaten to drown you
When you just don't see the sense of life

Hold onto that Love*
When you encounter those who have none for you
When you have the desire to be unloving
When you know this world is nothing without it
When you know it what makes life bearable and true
Feb 2017 · 531
Friends With Yourself
Dorothy A Feb 2017
Make friends with yourself
For a lifetime is too long
To be your own worst enemy
Jan 2017 · 239
No Risks
Dorothy A Jan 2017
No Risks?
No problem!

Less embarrassment
Less troubles and headaches
Less pain

So no risks?
No problem?

What about achievement and success?
What about regrets of "almost, but didn't"?
What about settling for less than what is possible?

Yeah, risk is risky. It could invoke ridicule and scorn, rejection and slammed doors. It would be easier to play it safe. To risk is to be vulnerable and open to a world of hurt. Ultimately, it could involve danger and be life threatening.

Yet the world has been shaped by risks...technology, medicine, the arts, relationships and friendships, creating a family, alliances, acts of forgiveness, rescuing someone from certain death,  people being born...

When you put it that way risk is a pretty noble attribute and a value to esteem
Dorothy A Jan 2017
I know what it is like to be a survivor. I know what means to be redeemed. I have fallen down with a hard crash, but I can walk, today.   I've experienced hate, but also love. Indifference has gained plenty of territory in this age, and fatigue is no stranger. I've grown weary of the daily grind and sometimes feel like a pretender. Nevertheless, I have found much to be passionate about, and I'm glad to be a part of the Beating Heart Association-also known as "alive".

We are warriors in a battlefield, because there is a war going on out there. I've wanted to shake hands and call a truce, for I've needed the peace and quiet. I needed to take hold of my thinking, for I think my punches were landing back onto me. I'm often guilty of self-deprecation, so don't look for lemonade from me. I'd just as well hand out lemons.

Sure, I love happy endings, for it is a distraction from many harsh realities.  This planet surely contains conundrums.  There are many amazing things in the world as well as there are many things that are far too perplexing. I have had plenty of doubts in God, others and myself, but still manage to maintain a flicker of faith. How it gets rekindled is what makes it divine. Everything else in this world will end up old, useless and discarded, but such intangibles have staying power.

Visions of hope make this world possible.  An existence without flux is an existence most stagnant. To conclude, throwing in the towel just cannot be an option. So take note: You can still see me walking down that Yellow Brick Road, experiencing the journey that is full of bumps, twists, turns and surprises.
Jun 2016 · 1.1k
Don't
Dorothy A Jun 2016
Don't write to please others
It won't be the truth anyway

Don't write to be edgy
If it means you don't even believe what you just said

Don't write to be popular
For popularity doesn't always mean quality

Don't try to write what you think someone wants to hear
Dare to be yourself
Jun 2016 · 344
What Is Your Story?
Dorothy A Jun 2016
Who are you?
What is your story?
What makes you tick?
What are your hopes?
What are your fears?
What are your dreams?

Where have you been?
Where do you want to go?
Why do you do what you do?
So what do you have to say for yourself?
Are you like me and wonder: Who will listen to you?

I will

So please tell me

What is your story, anyway?

Isn't that why we are all gathered here together?
May 2016 · 471
Words
Dorothy A May 2016
Did we run out of words?
Is that why they rhyme so much?
I mean did we just get lazy?
Is the English language only like this?
I don't know

Luck...you're fortunate
Truck...remove the L and add TR...and now you're going places
Use  F instead and now you are being ******

Words can be confusing
Flower - flour
Son - sun
one -won
hour - our
Who was asleep on the job when this stuff happened?

Words are a writer's best friend
I couldn't be one without them
They are food for the eyes and the mind
I love the study of words
I could swallow a dictionary whole

Words can hurt
They can curse or bless
And words can also heal

Don't give up
You can make it
You matter in this world  

Some words I wish I could take back
But good memories don't forget
Some words I wished I would have said
But didn't

I love you
Please forgive me
I forgive you

Long ones
short ones
Their origins borrowed from foreign soils
Some have gone extinct for lack of use
Others were conquered by invading tongues

Pity
For words are wonderful
I love words

They connect us, the world over
Dorothy A May 2016
She remembered it well. Ben made no bones about it, as he told his little sister, "You want to make something of your life, you got to get out of here and don't look back."  And he did just that, saying his goodbyes to her as he embarked off into the army.

There's a whole other world out there than just Jasper Island

How terrifying of a concept that was to Rachel back then. Ben was almost three years older, and without him it was just her and Pop . Jasper Island was all she knew, and at the age of sixteen that was a terrifying concept to a shy girl who had been sheltered her whole life.

Rachel envied Ben. Between the two of him, he was the only one who really remembered their mother. She was close to three-years-old when her mother left this earth. Ben was six. Her recollections of her dear mother were like vapors, like dreams that had lost most of their definition.

There was only one time she really could envision her mother correctly. She could just faintly recall her mother hanging up sheets outside, and they were blowing in the wind like sails, matching her mother's windblown skirt. Rachel was giggling as her mother tried to shoo her out from getting caught up in those magical sheets. She could still remember the beauty of her mother as she snuggled up against her, her mother catching up to her impish daughter as she twirled up in one of the sheets like a girl trying to play dress up. Her mother's skirt smelled like a soft perfume mixed with the sea.

Everywhere, as a child, Rachel was surrounded by sea. It made her dreary home pleasant after she lost her mom. The sea was a constant friend. With its mystery and its beauty, the sea gave her a right to dream of what lay beyond it. Ben was right. She needed to get out from under her little, protective shell. She would read Ben's letters that came  Germany, where he was stationed, and would dream of being there, herself.

Pop never mentioned Ben, again, like he didn't exist. Her father was a distant man, a fisherman who never had much for conversation or desire for closeness. Rachel was used to his distance, for that was her norm. But as she grew up, she realized he was bitter when he lost her mother. Rachel's aunt, Roberta, her father's sister, clued her in on his former life before marriage. She told Rachel, "Your father never was a man to show his emotions. He shied away from people and would rather tinker around in his tool shed or be out on his boat. I sometimes don't know what your mother saw in him, for she was quite a social gal."

Rachel saw herself more in her distant father, more than she cared to see. She was artistic, and felt more at home with a paintbrush than with anything else. She would paint pictures of anything--the quaint homes around where she lived, the woods and nature, and especially anything  to do with the sea.

Everyone told her she had talent. She won a talent contest in her school, though the pool of artsy students was small. Her island school was about three times the size of a one room schoolhouse, and it was quite easy for her to shine there. Was she really that talented? Many of her teachers saw and encouraged her abilities. They  wanted her to do something with her gift, and surely not to waste it. Everyone said so--except her pop. He never took much notice.

Ben was right. Frightened as she was, Rachel decided to try to make it on the mainland. It just became too irresistible of a notion. She promised her father, "I'll write to, Pop". He didn't even face her as she was saying goodbye, so she repeated, "Pop...I am going to write, will keep in touch".

"Don't bother", he simple replied. He wouldn't even look at her, but buried his nose into his newspaper.

Eight years later, on Jasper Island, Rachel stood before the home she grew up in. Those words still stung.

Don't bother

Pop had died. Aunt Roberta was the one to inform her, and she wasn't able to get back in time before the funeral. It was a small one--you could count the attendees on one hand--but her pop probably wouldn't have cared either way.  Rachel felt numb about it all. How should she feel? She knew she should grieve for her father, but the tears didn't come. He was such a hard man to know.

It would be nearly half a year before she returned to Jasper Island. She was living in Europe at the time, and she had moderate success in living off her art.  It was enough of an experience in which she could support herself. She first saw her brother in Germany then eventually went to Rome, to Paris and to London, working her way through as she traveled. Eventually, she stayed in London and became an art teacher. But now here she was again on Jasper Island.

She looked upon her hold house for the longest time. It looked so different. There were new shutters, a new coat of paint, and it didn't seem right with the backdrop of the sea. The house was yellow and the plastic pink flamingos were an eyesore to her. New residents occupied the house, and it just didn't seem right or real. Though she had no claim on it anymore, it still was her home. Now it was sold off soon after her pop died. She never even got a chance to stand inside for one last time, to peer into her old room or sit upon the back porch and bask at the beauty of the sea.

She tried not to appear too nosy, as she looked out back. Clothes were hanging up on the line, blowing in the breeze, and she thought of the faint memory of her mischief with her mother so long ago.      

Rachel didn't dare to knock on the door. Perhaps, she knew the people inside. Everyone knew everyone on that island. If she did know them, she didn't really want to know the details. She was the intruder, after all. Or was it the other way around?  

She made her way around and marveled how time seemed to catch up with her island home. There was a new movie theater in place of the beat up one that she knew as a child. The playground by the school looked so much better it wasn't filled with children. Hardly a soul was there, like all the children had grown up, or something.  

Aunt Roberta was her only real link to her old home now. The few friends she had left a long time ago, just like her. Her mom's people vacated the island long before she ever met them. Aunt Roberta was still there to receive her, though. She had something special for her.  Gathering up two shoe boxes, she handed them to her niece. Rachel wondered what what the contents were, and she couldn't believe her eyes.All the letters she promised to write to her pop were all in there in those two boxes.

"I found them," Aunt Roberta said, amazed herself, "after cleaning out my brother's closets. He kept them all, it seems."

Rachel promised that she would write home, and she did. And it was true--her pop saved every single letter or postcard she ever sent him.  The envelopes were all opened up, so he obviously looked at them. She was amazed that he didn't  throw them away or burn them.  Never once, did he write her back, and Rachel thought he had completely dismissed them and disowned her.

Holding those envelopes and postcards in her hands was like finding some rare and valuable artifacts, and now the tears would come. For the first time in quite some time, Rachel felt something when it came to her distant father. It was everything rolled into one--her island home, her mother, her brother, her father, her sense of self--and she just wept freely as her aunt held her tight and comforted her.

Rachel never cared about the money. Her pop never made a will. He never owned much, but Aunt Roberta would make sure she was fair about the money. Rachel would have traded every cent of it if only she was to see her father one last time. She wanted to come back sooner, but she feared she would not be welcome, that the door would be slammed in her face. Now her only way to see her father was at the cemetery were generations of fellow island dwellers met their resting place.

At the grave, her parents were buried side by side, and the sea was their backdrop. It was just as her father would have wanted it. Rachel cleared away a few weeds, and she placed a handful of wildflowers at her mother's grave. "Hi, mamma", she said out loud. "I miss you and wish I could you could be here, again. I see you in my mind, and you are that young, delightful mother I still think of. " The sound of the breezes, and the birds constant communication of chirping, was a calming response.

She then addressed her father's grave, "Pop", she started to say, "Thanks for keeping those letters. I know it was hard for you now. We all left you, didn't we? Mamma, Ben...me..."

Rachel looked out into the sea. The sun was shining well, and it was like the waters were filled with diamonds. That enchanting sea--that is what her father cherished the most. He taught her how to swim there, not to be afraid of the waters but to respect the strength they held. He protected her from feeling so small and scared by it. He taught her about what was in the sea and how to fish from it. She smiled and thought of how she would have rather collected pretty seashells than to handle a slimy fish . He reaped so many things from the sea, and she knew he belonged to it. She closed her eyes and tried to think of such moments between her father.

Before she left, she held an unopened letter in her hand and said, "Pop, I got really, really sad looking at all those letters, especially because I can't write to you anymore. I'm just amazed you have them. I hope you read them, and if you did, I hoped you knew I really loved you". She smiled at what her dad would probably think as silly sentiment. He probably was rolling in his grave right now, squirming from all this mushy stuff. But at least now, she could tell him she loved him.

Rachel put her hand on his tombstone and stroked its rough exterior. She added, "Well, then I thought--who is to say I can't write? So I did. I got a letter for you,Pop, and I'm going to read it to you, now. Hope your listening."

She didn't know when she would come back for another visit to Jasper Island, but she knew she would return. Unlike Ben, she would not go way and never look back . How could she deny it as her home? She opened the letter, cleared her throat, and read it out loud, "Dear Pop, I hope you are at peace. I hope you are proud of me and that you hear me now. Take care of Mamma, and I'll see you on the other side." After she stopped, the tears came again, rolling down her check. She closed up the letter, put it on her father's tombstone and laid a rock on it to anchor it well. Eventually, the elements would get to it--the sun, the rain, the changing seasonal forces--but for now it was in good shape,

As the ferry made it's way from Jasper Island, the land became smaller and smaller, until it was just a speck in her view. But once it was the whole world to her, not just a destination to visit. Nevertheless, it wasn't some insignificant blip on the many maps of the world. It would always beckon her. Rachel could never forget Jasper Island.
Dorothy A May 2016
They could practically be heard arguing throughout the whole diner, but they were oblivious to their small audience of onlookers in the heat of their conflict. Tori stood there with her hands on her hips as her husband, Hank, made himself clear that he was upset. He was sitting up at the counter on one of the barstools eating his chili. On the other side, Tori poured herself a much needed cup of coffee.

“You’re a waitress, not Mother Theresa! A mother with two hungry mouths!” he bellowed out to her. “That’s less money that goes into our pockets! What the hell were you thinking, Tor?”

“Was only helping a poor guy out!” she shot back. “He looked hungry and—big deal—so I bought him something to eat! So forget it, Hank, cuz I’m not sorry!” She remained defiant in her stance, unapologetic in her Good Samaritan role. Her boss never allowed her to give free food away, so the food was on her. It was a hot dog and fries, one time, some bacon and eggs, another.  She got the man bagels, donuts, toast, oatmeal—whatever she could supply with his usual cup of coffee he ordered. It was obvious from the word go that he had little in his pocket, and he could barely put a tip on the table—usually a nickel or a dime, sometimes a few pennies. He wore the same shabby tee shirt, flannel shirt and bummy jeans. And those pitiful shoes—with his dingy white socks poking through at the big toe of his right foot—that was pitiful.  So what if she had two young children? Nobody was going into the poor house because she bought a poor guy a few meals.

“Well, stop buying him food! No more!” Hank commanded. Tori gave him her best you’re not the boss of me look as he put his spoon down and walked over to the booth towhere the man with unkempt, silvery hair, and an untrimmed beard, sat.  That was his usual spot, and that was Tori’s booth to cover.  

The man just stared at him, not seemingly startled by the younger man who boldly confronted him. “Hey, look!” Hank said, lowly, yet sharply, “Straight up and no *******. Get a job. Get a life. Just quit taking advantage of my wife. Got it?”

It didn’t seem like the intimidation was working. The man just stared at Hank, his deep, soulful, brown eyes could penetrate right through him, and Hank wanted to shift his gaze away. He didn’t though, for that wouldn’t have given him the menacing upper hand. “Well!” he demanded, fidgety and frustrated, “What’s your problem?” The response was simply the same silent stare and Hank blurted out through clenched teeth, “Don’t take nothing no more from my wife!”

Unexpectedly, the man placed his hand upon Hank’s and said, “My son, don’t be angry. Sin no more. I give you my blessing, and go now in peace”. Hank quickly pulled his hand away, his face burning with embarrassment. A few guys at table nearby snickered at the sight of the pair.

“The guy’s nuts!” Hank got up and moved back to the counter. “What does he think? He’s Jesus or something?”

“Hank, quit stirring up drama or you gotta leave! You’re gonna drive out business!” Al chimed in. Al was in the kitchen helping the cooks in the back to get out orders. Now if anyone had a right to kick Hank out it was him. He owned the place.

Hank, still enraged, pointed his finger at Tory and promised, “We’ll talk later!” He quickly stormed out. Tory was not to be dictated to, feeling vindicated for her kind actions.

Well, everyone thought the man who tried to bless Hank was harmless, off kilter, maybe, but harmless. He didn’t seem to cause any trouble, and he minded his own business—only spoke until spoken to, and it was always with grace. Was there something special about him? It was only Tori and fellow waitress, Bonnie, who put more stock into this than anyone else would.

“And what if he is God?” Bonnie asked.

Al scoffed, trying to keep the conversation at a low minimum.  “You sound just as loony as he is”

“Well? And what if he was?” Tori backed up Bonnie. “Or maybe even an angel! You know they can come in many disguises! Maybe God is trying to test us to see if we really give a ****. Did you ever think of that?”

Al shook his head. He couldn’t believe he was having this conversation. “Test us?” he asked back as if Tori had no sense at all. “You’ve watched too many TV shows!” He raised his hands up in a grand fashion of showmanship, knife in hand,” Or maybe I’m not the owner of Al’s Diner, but I’m really God myself”, he mocked.  “So, as God, my dear little children, I command you back to work! Come on, now! Chop, chop!” He started to shoo everyone away. “How you think we are going to feed the masses, huh? With loaves and fishes? Customers! Customers! Get those orders moving!”  

The smells and sizzling sound of hamburgers on the grill were enticing to the senses. Tori and Bonnie went back to busily retrieving orders, and Al went to chopping some tomatoes, but soon he was playfully tapped on the shoulder.  It was Amber, another waitress who never seemed privy to the conversation.  “You remember this song?” she asked him, singing the tune in an off-key way, “What if God was one of us, just a slob like one of us….”

“Just a stranger on a bus, trying to make his way home…” Tori sung along, cheerfully moving about, adding a pretty, more melodious tone to the song.  

“Exactly”, Bonnie exclaimed, enthusiastically. “Like God’s gone undercover!”

Al rolled his eyes, for he thought he made himself clear he was done with this talk. But he couldn’t help but get a kick out his quirky waitresses. “Sure I know that tune—a few decades back—blonde chick—what’s her name?” he asked, smirking.  

“Joan Osborne”, Bonnie proudly stated. “Cool song, too. Makes you think a bit…at least for me.”

“And so why not ask him who he is?” Joey asked. “He’s got a name.”

It was like everyone forgot Joey was in the room though he was busily busing tables and sweeping floors. Tory, Bonnie and Al stopped what they were doing and intently looked at the teen. He seemed to ask a sincere question.  Al burst out laughing. “Now someone’s talking sense, and chalk it up to the kid with good wits. Yeah, Joey, these ladies just want to exist in fantasy land. Go, Team Al!”

Joey shook his head and said, soberly, “Not taking anyone’s side. I just think he’s got a name and he’s got a story behind him…and it isn’t what you think, Tori…or even you, Al.”

Al waved his hand to dismiss the whole thing. “Yeah, his name is probably Ralph, or something. Even then, I bet Tory would believe he is the Almighty right there in the flesh!”

“I would!” Tory shot back. She looked at Joey and answered, “Maybe you do think I’m as bad as Al does, but you’re too polite to admit it…but…yeah…I did ask him his name.”

“And, so?” Al asked, pretending with wide eyes to be full wonder, like he was clinging to every word, anxiously. “What’s his name?”

He was simply finding humor at her expense, and Tori wished she never said a thing. She reluctantly replied, “I am what I am.”

What?” Bonnie asked. “What does that mean?”  

Al replied, “I am what I am! Well, that sure don’t mean Popeye, sweetie!” With a comical, gravelly voice, he did his best Popeye imitation, “I yam what I yam and that’s all I am!”, squinting up one of his eyes he teased Tori, “Got that Olive Oyl?”

Bonnie and Joey laughed along at the sight of him, and Al added, “Look! I may be practically an atheist, but I’m not ignorant to the bible. That’s just what God said to Moses when he asked the same question!”

Tory defended the poor man that she so proudly helped. “So what if he does think he is God? He’s not doing anyone any harm, is he?” Al completely ignored her, so Tory to turned to Joey, and asked again, “What harm is there in it?”

Joey slightly smiled at Tory, trying to remain respectful to her beliefs, and said, “Truth be told, I don’t know much about God. I’m not a churchy person. He pointed over at the poor man in the booth and said, “I just know if God existed, it’s not him.”
  
Tori was saddened by Joey’s words. It was not that because he didn’t believe her ideas were feasible—that maybe God was testing them—but that he didn’t even know if God existed. The youth nowadays—who did they have to look up to?  Who guided them? The internet? Their cell phones? So many people seemed to have walked away from their faith or had none at all. And Al reminded Tori so much of her own dad. She grew up in a home without religion. Her mom had a vague notion of God, but her dad was a huge skeptic that had the same mocking spirit that Al had. Neither her father or Al were bad guys, but there were no miracles in their worldview. There was nothing divine, and everything was so ordinary and practical.

But Tori always felt awestruck by the world, nature and the animals, a curious minded child. She was the one who had that childlike faith—even now as a grown woman—and she yearned to know God, personally, not just know about Him. She just had to believe that this world and the universe were not all just for nothing, not at all a happenstance, not a just a brief journey on this earth and then that was it. It was after searching and yearning that Tori went to her friend’s church, and soon became a Catholic. She might have been alone in her family in this endeavor, but it gave her life more meaning.

Tori would look at the figure of Jesus upon the crucifixion and oddly was comforted by the sight of him that might bring others revulsion or doubt—the nails piercing his hands and feet, the thorn of crowns, the blood, the tragic sight of his lifeless body so cruelly tacked up upon the cross.  She raised her own two children to know God, and Hank’s lukewarm feelings did not match hers. He wasn’t much help in that department at all. But she knew by looking through the bible that true life was about helping other people, that God loved the poor and the downcast. To find your life, you had to lose your life. To feel exalted, you had to humble yourself. To give your life, to save someone else’s—well, that was the greatest gift you could give. That means you gave it all.  She might not have been the smartest person in the world, but she didn’t need to be bible scholar to figure such things out.  

Well, it would be a while before Tori would see her special customer again. But one day she ran back into the kitchen and told Al, excitedly, “His name is Bill!”

Al shot her a strange look, and then he got the connection. “Oh, so that’s God name?” he said jokingly.

Tori pulled him by the arm and took him out front, summoning Bonnie and Joey over, too. Bill was sitting in the same booth he often did, but there at the counter stool sat a petite, sixty-something-year-old woman whom everyone was about to meet. “Al, Bonnie, Joey, this is Bill’s sister, Mary”, Tori introduced her. “She shared with me about Bill’s story, and I think you should know, too.”   She looked like Bill, but had black dyed hair and was better put together. There was a warm and gentle way about her that intrigued Tori. And she sat there to shield her brother by keeping him out of the conversation, for she didn't want to upset her brother by mentioning something that might cause him pain.

Actually, they all were intrigued by her story.  Mary had told them that Bill once had a family, a wife and two sons. He couldn’t keep a steady job, though, and he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. His wife divorced him years ago and moved out of state with their two boys. His sons never tried to contact him, and he hasn’t seem ever since. For quite a while, Bill lived on his own, but he didn’t take good care of himself. He was living more poorly than ever—not eating right or caring for himself, erratically taking his medication, and so it wasn’t a surprise that he lived a deluded life. “He does strange stuff like that, think he is God”, Mary admitted to Tori. “He’s been made fun of a lot for acting that way, and it’s my job to watch over him and see that he is safe. So now I help take care of him, and he lives with me. Bill’s always been too proud to accept my help, but the doctor says being with me will help to give him a better life”. Mary was a widow, and she didn’t have much money herself, but she did what she could to protect her brother.  

Al looked embarrassed, knowing now the truth about Bill and realizing he was making fun when he should have known better. Mary gave Tori a huge hug. “And thank you”, she said to Tory, “for looking out for my brother, too.”  Everyone, even Al, was deeply touched by their embrace.  

“You know that Tori is a saint”, Bonnie bragged on her behalf to reiterate the same sentiment. “There should be more people like her.”

Tori remained humble and disagreed, “No, I’m just doing what we should all do in this world. If anything, it teaches me that we should all see God in every opportunity.”

Al whispered into Tori’s ear and told her, “You want to give him something to eat again, well now don't bother paying for it. It's on me”.  She smiled at him like was ready to give him a big hug, and he added, “Don’t think this makes me all buying all this God stuff—or anything”.

“And why not?” she asked.  

He replied with his own question, the ultimate question that people have been asking for ages. "Why would any god allow a man to suffer like that? Just look at him! How could that happen and you still think there is some guy in the sky that's all warm and fuzzy, like some invisible Teddy bear?"  

"Oh, you mean so how can God be loving, fair and merciful?", she snapped back, hurt that Al would make faith sound so childish and idiotic. Tori thought a moment, and simply replied, "I could ask the same question. Is life fair? Is it just wishful thinking? Actually, all my life I've wondered such things. The difference between us though is I don't know all the answer any better than you...but I still believe."

Al waved his hand away at her, "Whatever..."

"Wait!", Tori commanded him as he walked away. Al stopped and turned to face her like he was more than through with this conversation.  She said, "Maybe if us mere mortals did our job on earth of helping others, it would better a whole nother story. You'd probably have a different point of view, Al."

She didn't expect Al to have some bolt of enlightenment when it came to God, but before he went back to the kitchen he left her with words she wished he didn’t say. “All those people way back then…all those prophets and saints…supposing they were around today. You think they'd they stand up to today's world? I don't. Wouldn’t they on meds, too? I'd say we wouldn't see them any differently than we'd see Bill.”  Blindsided, she never did know how to follow up with all that. Al just knew how to rain on her nice parade.

Joey never said anything about that day, but when Bill came in again, Tori surely took special notice of them sitting together for a while. When she passed by the table, Joey was watching Bill walk around, and she quickly noticed the new black and green athletic shoes on his feet. Even on him, they looked sharp.

”They fit alright?”  Joey asked. Bill nodded, and shook the boy’s hand. He never said anything about it, but his silly, old grin—along with a few missing teeth—was priceless. He truly was happy to get those shoes. The old ones, with the hole in the toes, remained on the floor to be pitched out.  

Tori had to ask Joey, “You bought those for him? That’s so sweet of you!”

Joey smiled. “I just never could stand those beat up, old shoes”, he replied. “They are a good brand, but didn’t put me back that much. I’m not making a big deal about it, though. I’m not even going to tell anyone I did it. Only telling you, because you asked.”

“Makes you feel good, doesn’t it? Like it really makes a difference”.

“Yeah, it does. It’s like buying God a pair of shoes.”

Did he just say it was buying God a pair of shoes? How odd to hear that from Joey, but how that statement impacted her, and Tori would never forget that.  She gave Joey a peck on the cheek and a hug. He was like a little brother to him. She didn’t feel old enough to be a mother figure, but she felt some kind of sisterly feeling for him.

Joey went on to explain, “Yeah, I’ve been thinking a lot about Bill, lately. He lost his job, his family—he lost everything. No, he’s not God, but I was thinking…though I don’t know that much about religion or God, I thought that if you do
Apr 2016 · 385
Nothing New
Dorothy A Apr 2016
Nothing new
Written under the sun
Every word
Another pun

Innovation's whisper
Only left are crumbs
Oh, pitiful fool
It's all been done!

My ego's gone from massive
Back to square one
Once I thought the road, endless
Now I feel shunned

Prose regurgitation
Upon the page it's from
Even the muses agree
It's all been done
Dorothy A Feb 2016
What can I say in ten words?

Well...

In spite of the pain, life is surely worth living
                          ______
Make a noteworthy difference - look past your own front door
                         ______
You, the author, can reach my soul with your words
Jan 2016 · 323
Regrets
Dorothy A Jan 2016
The court jester
Does his mocking dance
Dressed in bells
And wild colors
Acting the fool
Sticking out his tongue at me
To ridicule and to scorn

This courtyard fool
Who calls me the fool
Is just an obnoxious reminder
Of the roads I've not taken
Or the ones that never
Should have been my path
Not able to relive yesterday
I am painfully reminded

Yes, that is how I picture
All of my regrets
Jan 2016 · 1.1k
Logan, The Bully (fiction)
Dorothy A Jan 2016
His mother thought he had the face of an angel, but his teachers and his schoolmates saw the demon in him. Many knew the real Logan, contrary to the darling boy image in his school picture.  His chunky, freckled face was obnoxious, not angelic. Instead of innocence, the look of deviousness came through in those shifty, light blue peepers of his.  His incisors were on the pointy side, like mini fangs, and whenever Logan smiled one thought of a rattlesnake. Sure, he was smart, and he had stellar grades, yet he used his wits to be sneaky, often trying to outwit everybody, appearing to be a prize student in the classroom while being the Class A **** on the playground.  

A big, stout boy, he used this physical advantage to torment his less advantaged peers. When no adults were in sight, he was always trying to corner others at school, pushing his weight around to abuse those smaller than he was, applauding his own one-boy-show of intimidation with raucous laughter and claps.

Indeed, the targets of Logan’s aggression were always the weaker ones, not the ones who would ever think twice about beating the crap out of him. He went to great lengths to terrorize others—tripping them up, pushing them around, getting up in someone’s face to tell that kid how ugly or how stupid that he was—anything that caused trouble. The victims were sometimes brought to tears, and Logan was quick to call them sissies and babies. A kid named Conner, a fellow six grader, was one of Logan's favorites to pick on. Sometimes, Logan attracted a small audience of bystanders, some of them egging him on while the rest were just watching.  So Logan had his partners-in-crime through either entertainment value or passivity—a great ego booster for such a bully as him.

Few kids tried to fight back, for they were quickly overpowered, and they all knew they were no match for the likes of such a creep.  For fear of retaliation—not wanting to be branded as a snitch—most of Logan’s victims were too scared to tell anyone, the teacher or their parents. Once in a while, a protector, a fellow student, would tell the teacher on their behalf.

Logan hated snitches because it would land him in the classroom during plenty of recess times, or in the principal's office. It also brought him a day of suspension, here and there, with his mother threatening to sue the school. A small number of parents were banding together, wanting Logan out of that school, and Conner's mom was one of them.  Conner might as well have worn a target on his back saying, "Come and get me!"    

Conner knew where he stood—as a member of the group of unpopular kids. He was one of the smallest of his classmates, and with his bright red hair and crooked teeth he was a splendid target for Logan’s juvenile jollies. He avoided Logan any chance he got, staying close to the classroom during recess or walking a much longer route home from school, often delaying going home but feeling all the more alone and vulnerable. His few friends all told him the things they wanted him do to Logan, things they wouldn't dare do, themselves.

Kick him in the nuts!

Jump him from behind and gouge his eyes out!

Tie him up and shove Ex-lax down his mouth!

Wear boots with spikes so you can wrestle him to the ground and stomp all over him!

Conner, you should take up Karate and Kung Foo the **** out of him!!!

Well, Conner would have loved to have given Logan a taste of his own medicine, but never believed it could happen. One day, though, he had enough. For sure, he never even planned to do it, but it happened, nonetheless. When Logan fell back flat back on the school sidewalk, Conner couldn't even believe the big boy landed there. And it happened because of him! Logan couldn't believe it, either, sitting on his rear end with the most dazed expression on his face. Conner clocked him right in the jaw!  Conner was David, and Logan was Goliath, and it was awesome!

Conner just had a perfect shot, with perfect timing and aim. Logan was long overdue to get the result of someone’s wrath, and it was about time someone stuck it to him. Yet Conner never meant this to be a statement for all of Logan's victims. He just was tired of being afraid, of being humiliated.  For the thousandth time, Logan was waiting for him outside of class, blocking his path, and there was just no avoiding things.

Conner truly wanted to fight his own battles—dreamed of it, imagined it—but never in a million years did he think he’d ever really do it!  His mom couldn't be there to defend his every step. Nobody could.  

And there was Logan, so embarrassed as a few other kids gasped and pointed. Some were now applauding and cheering at what Conner just did, even the hypocrites who once cheered on Logan’s bullying. Now the bully was reduced to tears, for a change, as the small crowd jeered and yelled out such things as "Karma!", "Crybaby!", "Way to go, Conner!" and "Kick Logan’s ***!"

Conner actually started to feel sorry for the kid as he stumbled up off the ground and ran off. Other kids came along the scene, and soon Conner was bombarded with congratulatory measures, questions, and wonderment at his great accomplishment. Chalk one up for him! He was the unlikely defender, the kid who had the guts to give it back to the one who made his life miserable. This event would become the talk of his peers for quite some time, something of school legend.

So Logan never bothered Conner anymore. He still was an obnoxious kid, but others took Conner's lead and stood their ground more. Logan slowly learned to back down, still reeling from that one, single and swift defeat. Though he only grew an inch or two that year, Conner felt seven feet tall, and was treated with respect, free to come and go where he pleased. He still had his same nerdy friends—nothing changed in that department—but life was good.
Jan 2016 · 387
P-O-E-T-R-Y
Dorothy A Jan 2016
P**   Put your thoughts to words

O  Over a piece of paper, computer screen - or whatever

E   Edit your work to your satisfaction

T  Tell us tales with your fingers - let it be your voice  

R   Read your work over, and then read someone else's

Y   Yearn to express yourself, again and again
Dorothy A Jan 2016
Rob's father came up to him on his eighteenth birthday, and tossed a *** of cash at him. "Time to be a man", he said in his usual gruff manner, "Get yourself a hot one".  His grinning face seemed more like a sneer, but Rob wasn't all that surprised. Throughout his adult life, he was thankful and glad that his mother kept him fairly grounded, did the best that she could, molded him into the man that he was, and he marveled at how she put up with such an *******.

Her name was Kat, but there were no introductions, not while he was soliciting her for ***. She was a few years older than he, but Rob never asked for any details.  He just wanted to get on with it, for he felt not only awkwardly nervous and ill-prepared, but halfhearted in his approach to buy some time, to hook up with a stranger in the shadows of the street lamps.  

Sure, if his old man wanted to give him some money—free cash—why the hell not? Instead of finding a "hot one", Rob was face-to-face with a burned-out and vulnerable, young woman who tried to hide behind her ****, seductive exterior. She was equally as halfhearted as he was about getting it on, for business-as usual seemed to weigh her down like a heavy chain wrapped about her ankles

So Rob opted out of this whole thing. He asked if he could buy her a cup of coffee. Why not? It was a chilly night, and they wanted to warm up—in  a legitimate way.

They found a small, late-night diner. It wasn't long before Kat admitted she made a huge mistake, and would do anything to get another start. Her regret was leaving Nebraska, leaving her hometown—her mom, her little sister and brother left behind. Her father was the dearest man she ever knew, but he died when she was eleven-years-old. If only he could see her now. She would be so ashamed to face him, and glad he wasn't around to witness this sordid path she regretfully chose.

Once, Nebraska seemed like an insignificant blot on the map of the world, but now it was inviting to her. She longed to make amends to her family and to get back to the basics.  She wasn't sure what she would do with her life, but what she had right now wasn't what dreams were all about. It was a world of unscrupulous pimps and men who lurked around, wanting their fill, their lusts exposed discretely, yet so ****** upon her to be met.

She had enough. Rob was the first guy that came along in a long time that really cared to listen to her, though he seemed more a boy than a man. Yet she's been with his kind before. She has seen all kinds—white and blue collar, old and young, married and single, the well-experienced and the sexually inept, the *** addicts and first-timers, the boring, the daring, the *****—yet safe ones—as well the creepy kind that a street-smart lady needed to have eyes in the back of her head for.  

When they went to the bus station, together, Rob admitted, "I got to tell you, straight. I'm still thinking you could be scamming me for drug money...and I'm maybe a complete *****... but I want to take this chance." Kat smiled, a tender sort of a smile, and gave him a soft peck on the cheek, along with a big bear hug. "You're an angel", she declared. She really was beautiful, with big, lovely eyes surrounded by big, fake lashes.  Seen through eyes of his inexperience—his innocence—she really felt beautiful, something she hasn't felt in a long while.

Kat wanted to pay Rob back for giving her the needed, extra money to buy her ticket. She offered to do that in the best way she knew how and made him an offer. Having a night of free *** wasn't what Rob ever wanted. No, there were no strings attached. So she jotted down her mother's address in Nebraska, and told him to be in touch. "I want to prove to you that I'm turning my life around. I'm going to do it, too. I promise", she said, sincerely. She had no trouble looking him in the eye, tears beginning to well up, and she began to choke up while saying, ”I just can't thank you enough".

Whether he did the right thing or not, Rob would wonder. He would never forget her—even if he wanted to forget. Only a brief couple of hours with her, but she made an impact in his mind, like a branding iron that would sear the hell out of his brain. Later, he lied to his dad, and pretended to be thrilled that he got the chance to have such an awesome night—just rocking! It was the best birthday present so far!  For a moment, he thought of telling him the truth, but he pictured his dad saying, "You *****! You wasted your chance and my money!"

Rob decided that he wasn't going to write her. He just didn't want to know, instead wanting to assume she made it out okay. He decided to keep the paper with her address, anyway. It took him several months, after mulling it over in his mind, to actually write her a brief note to ask how she was managing. Did she really go back home? Was she doing alright? Did she put her ****** life behind her?

It was only a week when he received a letter back from Nebraska. Rob kept that letter to himself, never telling a soul about Kat. She was back with an old boyfriend from high school, staying with her mom and working part-time as a cashier in a supermarket. She was so eager to write him back, thrilled that he finally contacted her, and wondered why on earth it took him so long.  Rob believed her, like he first did about her story, and it was a relief to hear from her.  He was glad he took the chance. It seemed to pay off.

He heard nothing back from her until over a year later. This time she sent a picture in her letter. Kat and her boyfriend broke up, for the second time, but she was now married to her good friend's cousin, Nolan. She was glad it didn't work out with the first guy, because now she was pretty happy and couldn't imagine her life any other way. Rob smiled as he saw the picture of the couple, and she was holding her little girl in her arms. He name was Willow, a cute, little girl with strawberry blonde hair.

Thanks, again, Rob! It is all because of you! You’re a sweetheart. My hero!!!

He didn't want to take the credit. He was no hero. It was bound to happen, with or without him.  Rob was quite sure now that he would not write her another letter, but did pick up a card to congratulate her, to acknowledge he got the good news and was glad for her.

He still had that picture of her, and the last news he found out about Kat is that she moved to Colorado with her husband, and now had a son, Nolan Rob. Her husband got a better paying job, and she felt at home near the mountains. A picture of the kids came with it, and her two smiling children conveyed the innocence that she once had and cherished.

Wanted you to see my boy. His middle name, Rob, is after you! I figured you'd know this, but I want to tell you, anyway! :D Much love from us to you, Robbie!

Time has passed, and during that back-and-forth.  Rob's parents split up, sold the house, and he had graduated from college and was on his own. Contact with Kat waned down to nothing at all, and it probably was just as well. Were things still going good in her life? Rob still wondered and hoped so.

Now he was married, with a nice house and boy and girl of his own, thinking of Kat, now and then. He envisioned her doing well, a far cry from the young woman in a scene that replayed in his head, a night when he helped an unhappy and desperate lady get a chance to find her life, again. If ever his day ******, such thoughts could pick him back up.

He'd never cease to wonder about her, but what he did for Kat belonged in the past.  If it wasn't happily-ever-after for her, he'd rather not know.  He did his part, was glad that he had enough maturity and integrity to do the right thing, but no way was he a knight in shining armor.  Still, he was a hero in her eyes, a reluctant hero of sorts. He could live with that.
Jan 2016 · 326
Mirror, Mirror
Dorothy A Jan 2016
"Mirror, mirror
What do you see?
Who is that
Looking back at me?"

I see a wounded warrior
Who bears the battle scars
Yet gazes upon the bountiful sky
Her eyes full of stars

"Really?
Wow!
Tell me,
What you see now!

I see a frightened girl
In the form of an adult
Her own worst critic
When it comes to her faults

"Yes, that's true!
That really is so!
Tell me,
What else do you know?"  

I know her heart is still tender
Yet firm and strong, like a drum
It beats for hope and faith
For whatever love may come

She struggles with her value
She doubts herself, no doubt
But she hasn't given up on herself
That's what courage is about

"Okay, okay!
There's too much to hear!
Why do I keep searching
For answers in this mirror?"

Well, there comes a time you have to see yourself
And then pause to behold your reflection
And then there comes another time
To stop all the self-inspection

For your reflection of who you are
Changes, coinciding with the years
And your beauty lies within
Not dictated by a mirror

"I'll take those words to heart
Without the self-condemning stare!
Acceptance is so refreshing
When looking in the mirror"
Jan 2016 · 707
Love Is....
Dorothy A Jan 2016
Love is more than...

A feeling
An emotion
A romantic notion

Love is often...

Quite a challenge
Painful - like a sore to heal  
Not always the real deal

Love sometimes...

Is lacking
Has no appeal
Is falsely based on how you feel

Love certainly...

Requires risk
Will not always be returned
Is a gift - cannot be earned

For without love...

We would not be human
But merely beasts
Therefore, love must increase

Nobody is...

Hopeless in a desire for its reach
For shattered lives can be made whole
Love can penetrate a broken soul!   

Love is...

Not a tired, worn-out cliche
But not as carefree as it is told
A treasure I'd never trade for money or gold

Love ...

Banishes hatred
A state of being and mind
Truly, of values, sublime
Dec 2015 · 422
Life Isn't Playing It Safe
Dorothy A Dec 2015
Though life is not a game
I've often conducted mine
Like the King on a chessboard

Shielded
Protected
Cautious

Yes, I've made daring moves
But was more often on the guard
And I don't want to finish this venture

Known for playing it safe
Dec 2015 · 785
The Tin Man Experience
Dorothy A Dec 2015
Thinking about that guy
How he got all rusted up
How he longed to have a heart
How he got stuck in mid-motion.

I long to write again
But like the tin man
My heart (for writing) seems lacking
Haven't I said it all?

I mean it gets old
It's no longer refreshing
Writing is a gift that seems to have peaked
Something that once flowed very well

I'm frozen up
I need some oiling
To get the process churning
Frustrating, when I want to move

But I feel stuck
Dec 2015 · 599
Dear Santa
Dorothy A Dec 2015
Dear Santa

I know you don't exist
So I've no requests on a list
You see, my parents had me believing
And I never thought they'd be deceiving!
My mom confessed to me, one time
Oh, the shock that blew my mind!

No, I'm not- for good- traumatized
I just don't care much for lies!
Truly, I'm sick of all the attention
Nauseating, and really much to mention
A jolly, fat guy parading through the sky
Has been nothing but a childhood lie!
You're as bad as the tooth fairy
Suit of red and white--AND hairy!

Godlike powers to know who's been bad or good
And reindeer taking you to every neighborhood!
Come on, hey!
I say, "No way!"
Sure, there is a kernel of truth I can pick
A generous man of old - St. Nick!
He really gave gifts to pass around.
For his kindness, he was found.
So get lost, Santa Claus, just go!
I'm cynical, yes, I know!
Kids might hate me!
They might berate me!
But when they grow up, they'll get my drift
That you are nothing but a myth!!!

Okay, it's off my chest
I can give it a rest!
So, really, why do you dominate the Xmas scene?
Makes me wonder what it really means.
Is it really for the children or the child inside?
Who's it truly for, the simple fun it provides?
Yeah, I do get it, your silly charm.
Actually, it's done me no harm.
I long for what Christmas should stand for.
Love for others, the needy and the poor.
But I think you get in the way!
Shopping up a debt isn't right, I say!
Comprehending a love that came here on earth.
Two millennium ago, that wondrous birth.
That gets lost in the hurry
All the frenzy and the scurry!
Cliche-but I've just pinpointed the reason
At least for me, for this season.  

Quite sincerely
Dorothy

P. S. Merry Christmas, everyone!
Dorothy A Apr 2015
Are you wounded?
There are endless ways that life can mar your heart
I need not read off the written list
For it would wind around the world
Again and again and again
Resembling a paper mache ball

Are you wounded?
Feeling beyond repair?
Oh, I hear you
And I don't know
Your persistent, internal struggles
Nor you truly mine
But I'm writing to testify now
That I'm still here

Though words can often seem empty
I'm proclaiming today: Never give up
When you think you've felt too much
Know that the sun rises every day without fail
And like its beacon of light
A glorious, universal flame
Take heed of its returning presence
And do likewise

For there is always someone else
Who is just as hurting as you
Or even worse
Who needs your light
To shine his or her way  
And banish the suffocating darkness
So share your torch
It just might initiate a spreading trend  

Don't let your pain be in vain
Dorothy A Apr 2015
Abraham Horowitz thought he was dead. Maybe this was what death was like, desolate and bleak, no different than his last few years of sheer misery, humiliation and pain.  He already felt he was in Hell, for Buchenwald was a Hell on earth, but what was going on now?  Just where was he exactly? His glasses had been smashed by a **** guard months ago, and now he couldn't understand why he could not make out the hazy figures of the guards barking out orders and smashing the butts of their rifles into the heads and backs of tormented inmates.  All that seemed to exist were walking skeletons aimlessly drifting about in the blowing wind.

His situation was always dire, but today was an indescribably odd day.   It wasn't good or bad. Lately, little aroused Abraham to ponder upon as he had long ago begun to believe that he was an animal and not a man. After all, different walks of life were thrown away like subhuman trash—left for the flies to feast upon—and it had powerfully defined the ghastly surroundings of his disgraceful existence. People who once were somebody to someone had soon become nobody in the world.  The rotting corpses proved that out. Since he was deemed as a beast, Abraham no longer thought or reasoned like a human being. There was no longer any reason to think or to feel or to imagine anything that could inspire his will to thrive.

The inhumanity had taken its toll. Too weak to stand, he had been fading in and out of sleep and consciousness when much of the chaos of forced marches took place. The Nazis were desperately trying to avoid encountering the allied forces that opposed them. They weren't going to give up easily as they'd sooner shake their fists and make all the prisoners suffer to the bitter end. Many of prisoners were moved out as possible, but not all went willingly. The remaining prisoners—those who weren't half dead—now had their chance to resist.

Abraham's back was leaning against the splintered, wooden wall of one of the barracks. He had tried to prop himself up in an attempt to sit up and then stand up. He only succeeded in sitting up in an awkward slouch, much to the discomfort to his bony backside. The sun beat down on him, his only solace to warm up his frail, battered body, his only comfort in his state of wasting away to the shell of the man he once was. Soon the sweet sun was quenched as he was engulfed in the shadows of a soldier standing before him.  

There was nothing left in him, no more will to live. He was done. No more fear flooded his mind, only thoughts of nothingness that gave him an actual period of relief.  If he was still alive—he had thought—the best thing to happen would be that the soldier now in front of him end his miserable life with a bullet to his head. What once was deemed a horrendous fate now seemed like a welcome surrender

"Hey there... sprechen sie Englisch?", the man asked him. It was the worst German accent that he ever heard, but it might as well have been the voice of God.  

Did he speak English? Oh, yes, he did! "Ja…Englisch", he managed to utter, in sheer bewilderment. He struggled for words to say, but they could not leave his mouth.

The man crouched down and said, “It’s okay now. You can say whatever you want, buddy.”

Abraham still struggled to speak. "That is yes...I...I... do....I do...and Hebrew... and Yiddish... German and… a bit... Polish", he answered with a parched, throaty voice.  Abraham had enough strength left to place his quivering hand up to his eyes. He simply cried as the light went on in his mind. The rumors going around the camp were true! The Americans had come!

Tears are for little boys. The image of his father, scolding him for crying as a youth, dashed into mind. Abraham tried to contain himself. Weeping was one satisfaction that the inmates wanted never to give to the Nazis. Only the irrevocably broken ones begged for mercy, wailing uncontrollably as they were laughed at, mocked and scorned by their enemies.  Conditioned to show no emotional response was one up on the Germans, the only control and dignity that a man had left.  Self-restraint meant you were never owned by anyone.  

Soon a slightly cool cup of water was placed upon Abraham’s shaking lips. He slurped at it—getting more on the ground than in his mouth—like a man coming out of years in the desert. Oh, how precious was that water! He could have drunk it by the gallons, splashed in it, played in it—danced in it!  If he could only stand and be given the chance!

"Easy now, buddy”, the American advised. "My name's John, by the way". The young, freckled-face private smiled proudly, stating,”John Dunn from the good, ole USA—from Jersey...New Jersey, that is."

He was only the second soldier that Abraham ever met in this entire ordeal of brutal capture and madness of war that had a heart. The soldier was rare sight in that he showed him even an ounce of kindness. John Dunn reminded him so much of Otto Brumler that he began to weep, again. He didn't know he even had it in him, for he had stopped crying so long ago that it was as if he had forgotten how.  Lately, there just weren't any more feelings left—not even hate. Oh, how he used to hate! There were only numb movements of a dead man walking about. The tears felt cleansing upon his dry and ***** face.

Otto Brumler was a rare anomaly. He just didn’t seem to make sense in this sea of insanity. A **** guard, he liked to talk with some of the inmates, discreetly giving them gifts to pass around—some cigarettes, chocolates, cheese, bread and sausages. How peculiar to be coming from a German soldier!  Some of the inmates were suspicious that he was a spy that was out to trap them and feared him even more than the most loathing of the guards. Abraham was one of them who at first thought the man was purposely trying to get them in trouble.

Trouble abounded in the camps. If the men couldn't work hard enough, they were daily beaten and tortured, so badly beaten down that many could not get back up again. If it wasn't an act of harsh aggression, it was starvation and disease that got them. Herded up like animals, the filth from their ****** fluids and human waste was an ever noxious presence, their ragged clothes soiled in the foul mess. The stench that was once unbearable eventually became to define them as trash to be thrown away, and they had forgotten what a clean existence smelled like.  

Abraham would sometimes wake up in the morning and find the one next to him had not made it through the night. Sometimes, it was on both sides that dead bodies had sandwiched him in-between. If not those succumbing to the horrible conditions, the weaker ones were taken away while alive, never to be seen again. And some would give up the will to live by refusing to press on, passively taking a bullet or a fatal beating. Then there were those who would end their own lives as the only means of escape. It seemed one less triumph for the Nazis, to deny them the sick satisfaction of killing yet another, wretched soul. Yet the Nazis always won the victory of a victim’s life ending.  Regardless of how the death of any of the undesirables occurred in the camps, it fed their ideology of superiority just fine. Many of the prisoners lay awake at night wondering how this barbarism could flourish and go unnoticed.  When would it end? Had the whole world gone mad?  

"We survive and that’s how we win”, one of the Polish prisoners, Jan, encouraged some around him. "We make it to the end because they will be defeated. They cannot last forever. You mark my words!"

"And how do we do that?" “a doubtful Jewish teen, Eli, insisted. He once was so spirited, and he had great plans to travel the world one day. "I lost my whole family. I'm the only one left and it will just be a matter of time before they get me, too. We are all doomed!" His gaunt face and hallow eyes spoke for themselves.

Abraham needed to believe he'd have even a glimmer of hope to be free one day, or he'd have lost the battle by now. His sanity would not hold out. Many already had no hope and that was like a death in itself.  Most of the men knew that to hold on, they'd have to defy logic and hold out for hope. They'd pray with each other, regardless of being a Jew or Christian or even the agnostics, sometimes losing the meager hope that they were had. It grew as scarce as their rations of crusty bread. Nevertheless, they prayed.  

One time, Abraham was grabbed by a guard by the throat and hurled to the ground for being too slow. He had been dumping out human excrement from the campgrounds. The guard berated Abraham as he kicked him over and over again while the poor man curled up into a ball in helpless submission. Protecting his face and head, he soon found himself sheltering his groin, writhing in  pain in that sensitive area that had been attacked by a heel of a boot.

It was Otto Brumler who astounded him. Why wasn't he like the others? As a Jew, the disgust the Nazis had for Abraham was as obvious as the gloom hanging over the camp. Hatred defined Abraham’s world ever since ****** took power and convinced the people that they would be better off without his kind.  Otto was looked upon as being too soft on those he guarded, reprimanded for not being too tough and rough on the prison ****. He did not go above and beyond his duty, nor did he take pleasure in anyone's pain and suffering.

"My best friend was a Jew", he confessed to Abraham one night, sneaking him some salve for his cuts and abrasions from that last beating, providing him some meat to satisfy his longings to fill his stomach.  

Abraham actually showed a real emotion that was a rare sight these days, a slow expression of surprise. "So why are you here at the camp?" he asked him.

Otto puffed on his cigar and passed it to him. He laughed a little, replying, "I think ****** is a little man...but a big bully. I would have gladly be no part of this greedy thirst to devour other nations, but I was forced into it." He looked at Abraham and smiled a bit with sad eyes. It was quite the contradiction of mirth. Otto had a ruddy complexion and dark blonde hair. In his youthfulness, there still an air of innocence about him, a kindness that the ugliness of the war had not killed in him.

"I love my country", he admitted.  "I just hate what they are doing now and how blind we have become. It will be to our ruin."

Abraham admired his honesty. "I guess there are a few good men in this world", he admitted. "My father taught me that it isn't where you come from but who you are that counts."

"That is true, my friend." Otto patted him on the back and added, “My old friend, Avi, had saved my life."  He was speaking of his Jewish friend from childhood. "Many years ago, he rescued me from a lake in my hometown. We went there to cool off from the summer heat.  I couldn't really swim, but I became overconfident and dove in like I was the best swimmer in the world.  There, I found myself in water over my head and didn't end up so well.  I would have drowned without Avi rescuing me. Unlike me, he was fearless."

"So now you know we Jews aren't devils." Abraham remarked, with a hint of a twinkle in his eye.  

"Of course not! Avi was like a prizefighter, a real proud kid. He never backed down from a fight, and there was always a challenge for him..He had to fight off the boys who picked on him for being different from most of us—for being a Jew. So he learned how to stand his ground. I was a fat boy, and Avi would defend me from the bullies who picked on me, too. He was a good friend to me. I know a a bully when I see one, Abraham” He pointed his finger all around, “Bullies everywhere, but they are not men…just weak, little boys who need someone to kick around to feel better”

Abraham knew he had a genuine friend in Otto. “What happened to your friend?”he asked about Avi.

Otto just shrugged his shoulders. “I hope he hasn't lost the fight. I wonder what has happened to him quite often...if he is alive now…if he has made it this far."  

It was nighttime, but it seemed even less secure to come together like this than if mingling in plain sight.  There was never a time where anyone could feel safe, not one minute. Abraham knew this encounter was risky, deadly for sure if caught. He talked about his lovely, young wife, Rivka, and how she felt she was not blessed with having a child. Now it seemed like it was a blessing not to rear up a child, not to have it cruelly ripped away from them and mourn the aching loss and its tragic demise. Rivka was already dead, herself,. Women and children were often the first to go. All Abraham had now was her memory, the image of her sweet face in his mind. Otto talked about his young sweetheart, Gretchen, and his dream of starting a life with her once the war was over. He still believed in a bright future.

That wish would never come true.  It wasn't long before Otto was found out about for his secret encounters with some of the prisoners and shot before a firing squad as a traitor. When Abraham found out, he wanted to weep over the loss but the tears wouldn't come. They couldn’t even come for his lovely Rivka. They only came now when Private John Dunn had given him water, mirroring the same kindness that Otto had once done, redeeming him from an animal to a man  once more.  

Abraham was eventually placed on a truck with other survivors and transported to more humane conditions. Allied soldiers were fully in charge the camp now, and there was no going back to that hellhole ever again. At last, he was truly a free man, though a heartbroken one who was not the same man as he arrived. He had not died—this was not just a dream—but he still was not convinced he would have the will to go on. The breeze on his face felt wonderful, the sun in his eyes, miraculous. That held some shred of promise for him. He passed by trees and mountainous views that he was never convinced he would ever see, again.  No more smell of death, but even the most fragrant flowers could not mask the memory of the horrible stench of his war-torn memories. Some things did just not die away that easily. Memories had a stink of their own that could not be masked by beauty. He had seen things that few could bear, much less go on to tell about it.  He'd never forget being penned up like pigs for the slaughter and made to have no hope. But by the front of the truck, there was Jan, the Pole who once said that the Nazis would be defeated and everyone could mark his words.  

Abraham looked at him until Jan's eyes met his and they both managed a smile. He had come too far to give up. He would not win the victory if he did not survive. He owed it to those who did not make it—to his people, to his fellow inmates, to Rivka, and even to Otto Brumler.  He had no clue, no answers of where to go or how to conduct himself in the world, again, but he would continue to hold onto hope that he would make it.

It suddenly dawned on him that his wife had a few cousins in Chicago that she grew up with. His mind was alerted with the remembrance of Rivka exchanging pictures, postcards and letters throughout the years, All he had of her was robbed from him in the war—everything. To lay eyes on her image—once again—and the possibility of maybe holding her actual words in his hands began to overwhelm him. His imagination could barely contain the thoughts, and he began to weep yet again. As once, crying was weakness to a man, the tears just now meant he was alive. To be counted among the living—to belong somewhere—it was the closest thing to pure joy. Thoughts of America started a small spark within—just enough to start a little fire in his soul—to lead him on to a path with a hopeful purpose. There was no turning back now.
Dorothy A Apr 2015
Don't listen to what the culture says about you. Forget about what you see in the magazines. Forget about what you watched on TV. Forget about what you have seen in the movies. Forget about what you hear on the radio or came across on the internet. Forget what you just saw on a billboard or store poster. We are women of worth. It doesn't matter what we look like, how much we weigh, what our bra size is, or how **** we are...we are beloved by God who made us and He loves us without ridiculous, unrealistic demands, the cruel demands to be perfect to the eyes of the world. Outer critics are everywhere, and our inner critic wants to chime in and get aboard. We are women of worth. May we all remember this.
Mar 2015 · 326
The Purpose of Life
Dorothy A Mar 2015
The purpose of life: It's not all about you...including me
Dorothy A Mar 2015
I've got two pieces of wood and a few nails

You've got millions?
You've got gold?
You've got silver?
You've got diamonds?
You've got rubies?

I've just got two pieces of wood and a few nails
I've got what appears to be almost worthless
Pretty much a joke!

Two pieces of wood and a few nails..

You can't build me a house with it
You can't build me a ship with it
You can't build me bridge with it
You can't build me a car with it

What good is it?

Well, not so fast...

It's amazing what two pieces of old wood can do
Cross them together
Place a Man of sorrows upon it
And insert nails
For all the world to see

Two pieces of wood and a few nails....

Now I see their worth
Mar 2015 · 1.1k
A Crown of Thorns
Dorothy A Mar 2015
Who would wear such a thing?
Who would be so despised?
So pathetic to a jeering crowd?
So utterly cursed?
So utterly shamed?
So utterly broken?

A foolish one, you say?
A liar?
A crazy one?
A sucker for punishment?
A mythological man?

How about this?

A man who would lay down his life for a friend
One who would take the place of others who really deserve what he got instead
One who demonstrates that the works of weakness truly outweigh the brutality of the mighty
One who is willing to connect the Divine to a suffering world

I say that is one who would wear a crown of thorns
Mar 2015 · 467
Pain
Dorothy A Mar 2015
When we grow deeper with others down the path of our lives, we are bound to run smack right into pain. It's an inevitable experience of the human condition.

The alternative? It's just you stuck in a shallow abyss.
Dorothy A Mar 2015
I was volunteering in our church thrift closet yesterday. It is a time to change over the winter clothes to the spring clothes. This is a great benefit to the community to be able to shop there.

I talked and worked next to another church volunteer, and we got into a really good conversation.  I will not share her name, but will share some of what she said to me. I have no problem opening up to strangers, for I find that I have that gift in the ability to share my humanity. A very sensitive person, I like to be able to relate to people who have a story to tell. We all have stories to tell, do we not?  

We talked about our faith. We talked about the problems that we had in our family of origins. She shared about her divorce and ability to get back on her feet and start a daycare center when she was used to being a housewife.

The indomitable human spirit. Well, clearly many succumb to the hardships they face. I've seen plenty of things on the TV. I've witnessed this tragedy in some people's lives that I personally knew. In addition, I heard about some unhappy stories from what other people told me they experienced or heard about.

Absolutely, the news is supposed to report what is actually going on in the world, and much of that is grim reality. We all grow weary of it.  Yet the entertainment value of television can often provide nothing better than the unpleasant side of life to get ratings. Often it is fictional violence and crime. That's odd, because I observe that we Americans shy away from death. It still seems like a taboo topic.  Yet at the same time, we are so intrigued as if to peak at it from a distance like wondrous children hoping not to get caught.    

Back to my discussion with this woman, I shared that I am an amateur  writer. I shared about my first encounter with tragedy, as I just wrote about two children close to my age that I knew of who were murdered by their mother. I was just a child. It was a very, very scary reality for my young psyche.

This fellow volunteer related back to my story that her paternal grandmother and her aunt were both victims of suicide. The grandmother turned on the oven and letting the gas fumes overtake the house. "They both did it together?" I questioned.  

It ends up the aunt was only three years old. I said, "No, it was a ******/suicide."  The mother was in a forced marriage and desperate to get out.  This is the kind of stuff that is far more shocking when in your own life than when on the news.

This woman also told me that her father was the one who found his mother and sister. He was only seven-years-old! I truly felt for her and for that man! Well, she had shared prior to this story that her father had a mental breakdown in his early twenties and wasn't able to work after that.

"No wonder", I replied, understanding what he went through. How could he be unscathed by such a tragedy?  I'm sure there was more to what was wrong with him, but I could see how this could be so damaging to a seven-year-old soul.

Later in life, he spent a lot of times in mental institutions. I had shared that my paternal grandmother had to be committed, too. The woman also shared that though her parents were separated and eventually divorced. Her mother and father still loved each other very much, so that wasn't the reason. She loved her father very much, too, and looked after him when she was an adult. Her father just couldn't cope with his family or be the provider that he was supposed to be. Times were hard, and the mother had to scrounge around for any menial work that she could acquire to support the family, sometimes not having enough to eat so the children could have enough. It is similar to my dad having to support himself, his mother and his brothers when he was still a boy, living in terrible poverty.    

This kind of story swapping gives me great insight and is helpful for when I lose my proper perspective or get angry at the world.  I cannot deny that I have been bitter, yet this woman never felt this way. It wasn't on her radar. She made that quite clear that she was able to avoid those pitfalls. Undoubtedly,  her faith helped her to move forward, was and is the wind in her sails.

Bitterness is a choice. Both of us go to church in spite of the ugly stuff we witnessed or knew of, the things that often become the easy chance to question the existence or fairness of God or the meaningfulness of life.

I have struggled--and still have struggles--with becoming better by my trials. I'm not always there, but I realize that to give up on the battle is not an option.  The world is full of over-comers. The news doesn't always report that. It isn't the sensational stuff of headlines, but it is up to each of us who struggled with life to make our own, personal news stories. A triumphant headline, indeed, is the one I want to publish. To dismiss that experience is to miss out on any growth, and I find that more tragic than the hardship itself.

For when we overcome, we are more willing to relate our humanity, reaching out and helping those who also desperately need a helping hand, as well.
Better is when the "i" is taken out of bitter
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