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Oct 2022 · 101
It Is Like A Sword
Dorothy A Oct 2022
It is a tool for battle
A symbol of saving grace
Jesus was crucified on it
And I imagine the cross,
Its portion inside the ground
As like the tip of a sword
Its sharp and spiked end
Plunged into the dirt,
Its horizontal part
As the quillon, the crossguard
Of its majestic knife

Who was on that cross
Is a Man that was pierced
His hands and feet
His head with thorns
And, lastly, right into his side
But it is he that, too, can pierce
And penetrate the hardest
Of men and women
With his love
Oct 2022 · 64
Wonder
Dorothy A Oct 2022
Never lose your sense of wonder
The kid inside the adult
One who never comes
To know it all
But one who stands in awe
Of possibilities
And life to come

Still learning
Still dreaming
Still creating
Oct 2022 · 58
My Mitten Home
Dorothy A Oct 2022
I'm a Michigan gal
Born and bred
My family has been here
For over one hundred years
Covering one whole century
And parts of two others

I'm a Detroit native
Born there like my parents
And my mom's parents
And her paternal grandparents
But the suburbs
Are where I reside
I have lived no other way

Michigan waved at us
With its mitten-clad hand
It beckoned us in
With a welcoming gesture
Yes, Michigan did
I love where I am from and
I'm proud to call it
My home
Oct 2022 · 26
Losing My Parents
Dorothy A Oct 2022
I lost my mom in August of 2022, a very short time ago. I lost my father much further back, in January of 2005. In my fifties, I still feel like an orphan. Tongue in cheek, I say this, for I'm obviously not a kid anymore. It's still sad to lose a parent, no matter what age you are or how long of a life your parents lived. Even when you know the time is getting close, it hurts no less. Pain is pain.

I was expecting both of my parents to die, preparing myself for it. They both had dementia and were in mental and physical decline. That said, it was still a shock. To see my father with his blue eyes wide open, and my mother laid out on the floor after CPR was done. My mom attempted to get out of her hospital bed in the group home. Not in a million years would anyone expected her to end up on the floor, after not walking for four years.

They are both gone now.  They are certainly not forgotten. Memories can fade, and time has done its work on those memories where my father is concerned. Pictures are a great source to look upon to keep things more vivid.

I still want to call my mom to tell her something, for a second or so. Her death is still fresh in my mind, and has yet to fully sink in. I grieve, but I still think I haven't felt the full effects of my mom's death yet.

They didn't hear "I love you", from their parents, so my parents didn't say it to me or my brothers. Their home lives were rough, and they brought some of what was done to them into their new family.  I'm glad I was able to initiate it with my mother and keep it going. I wasn't able to keep it going with my dad. It felt awkward, at first, but children need to hear it.

Though there is much more I could relate, I'm sharing just a few words. Writing can be a tool for healing. I am thankful for it.
Aug 2022 · 446
Destination
Dorothy A Aug 2022
I see that plane in the sky
Like a big, mechanical bird
It makes its way onward

Where's it going?
Where's it headed for?

In my car
Waiting for the train
To finish crossing the tracks

Where's it going?
Where's it headed for?

That bicyclist
Looks like he's on a mission
Two-wheeled, manpowered movement

Where's he going?
Where's he headed for?

Their destinations are unknown to me
But I'm often a traveler in my imagination
Good ones, mostly, I embark upon

Where am I going?
Where am I headed for

I've seen a fair amount
Of different, actual places
New faces, abundant

I'm still gonna go somewhere
Still heading for yet another destination

Alive, and breathing
Dreaming hasn't stopped
And destinations still beckon
Aug 2022 · 56
Porcupine
Dorothy A Aug 2022
I have to remind myself
To be aware that
Just because I'm
Having a bad day
Perhaps, having a
Rough period of life...
Pain, sadness
Confusion or anger
Whatever the struggle

Not to become
A porcupine
Not to form
Some pointy quills
For self-protection
Or preservation

I don't want
To poke or ****
Anyone who
Unknowingly
Crosses my path
Who doesn't deserve
A sharp jab
Aug 2022 · 69
School of Hard Knocks
Dorothy A Aug 2022
I'm a pupil  
Of the school
Of hard knocks
Very few aren't
Acquainted with
Such education

I just wish that I
Ended my apprenticeship
In other words,
Once a learner
I soon became
Much too skilled
Dorothy A Aug 2022
The womb
It's a glorious *****
A reproductive
Amazement

It was my first home
It was yours
It gave us
Exactly what we needed

We got "baking time"
Little buns developing
Being nourished and
Fully insulated
From the outside
From any of the bad
Any of the harsh elements
And the school of hard knocks
That we were not ready to receive
And my heart goes out to all those who were unwanted or unwelcome, or those who had the odds stacked against them
Aug 2022 · 250
Wishbone
Dorothy A Aug 2022
I don't want to be pulled into
Two opposing directions
I don't want to serve two masters
Like the Bible warns of,
One foot in this world
One foot in the kingdom
Despising or favoring
One over the other

I must heed that warning
To not be of that mindset
Otherwise, I'll snap into two
Like the good, old wishbone
That has to give, somehow
And shall only bend so far
Contrary to societal slogans
Of invincibility...
"Fear nothing"
Is wishful thinking, for
Frailty is part of
Our human condition
Aug 2022 · 90
Skyward Bound
Dorothy A Aug 2022
I'm just a lowly butterfly
Crawling on the ground.
But look. Quickly!
Now I'm a magnificent butterfly
And I'm skyward bound

Cocoon disintegration
Unexpected transformation
Fascinating!

I like this new look!
Can't believe my own eyes!
A brand-new "me" with wings
Off to heights, imagined
Where gravity is defied!

Cocoon disintegration
Unexpected transformation
Fascinating!
Aug 2022 · 71
Afghan Women
Dorothy A Aug 2022
As a fellow woman
I'm appalled by the brutality
That you are enduring
The Taliban are cruel cowards
They are trying to blot the light
From your eyes
To take the breath
From your souls
To destroy your dreams
Denying you a reason
To ever get up again
And go on

Afghan ladies and girls,
You are my heroes
You that cry in despair, in fear
Who demand to be heard
You are the true warriors
You that fight for your lives
And for your dignity
Though the so-called men
That heap abuse upon you
Try to silence your voices
And shut you out from hope
That you need in order
To blossom and flourish

Oh, their wicked ways!
Their gloat and greed!
Those hallow hearts
Define them as the villains
That they truly are
Not a legitimate leadership
Deadly and dangerous
Are accurate descriptions
That define them well

Oh, Afghan women
May you always know that
I am on your side
Aug 2022 · 152
Jesus Gave It All
Dorothy A Aug 2022
I am in need
Can you spare a few bucks
From your pocket?
Money does find its way
Back around, doesn't it?

I am wanting friendship
Can you give me any
Of your time?
The clock is ticking away
But its hands haven't failed yet

Share your God-given talents
I want to be inspired
And in wonder
Those incredible gifts
That keep on giving

But you still haven't
Given it all, have you?
Well, someone already
Did that, paved the way
His name is Jesus, my friend
He laid down His life
In love for us
For we could never
Save ourselves from destruction

He healed many
He fed many,
Body and soul
He listened
He befriended
He forgave

And above all,
He died for the world
Jesus gave it all
Mar 2022 · 83
Ukraine
Dorothy A Mar 2022
My dad's parents were Lithuanian immigrants. Lithuania was the first nation to break away from the Soviet Union. That was exciting news for me in 1990. Then I thought, "How are they going to pull this off?"
Remarkably, they did and then others followed suit and broke away. Ukraine was one of them.

Oh, Ukraine
My heart bleeds for you
Wounded is the land
Broken hearts
Shattered lives
Your resilience amazes me
Mar 2022 · 93
Planet Cell Phone-Revised
Dorothy A Mar 2022
I first wrote and posted this on July 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 an emergency call comes. 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 here, there and everywhere. I have plenty of internet use as it is, enough to say that I don't want to access it in a moment's notice.

So what has become of us? It used to be that the biggest enemy to being behind the wheel was intoxication. "Don't drink and drive",  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.

Postscript-added on March 2022

I now have a smart phone. I now access the internet on it all the time. New and improved?
Dorothy A Mar 2022
Dear Folks,

It's been a while since I last posted a piece of writing on here.

Though a woman, and a proud one, I feel like the tin man, all frozen up. The tin man got stopped in his tracks in the rain, rusted. What's my excuse?  

Perhaps, I thought I've said it all. Perhaps, my tears have all dried up. Perhaps, I got complacent or apathetic.

Perhaps, I was just plain scared.

Oil can, please.
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 · 541
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 · 958
Planet Cell Phone, Revised
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 an emergency call comes. 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 here, there and everywhere. I have plenty of internet use as it is, enough to say that I don't want to access it in a moment's notice.

So what has become of us? It used to be that the biggest enemy to being behind the wheel was intoxication. "Don't drink and drive",  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 · 541
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 · 565
Mouthpiece
Dorothy A Jun 2017
We are writers
And 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 add our own kind of breeze to the world
Jun 2017 · 566
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 · 1.3k
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 · 407
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 · 698
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 · 388
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 · 681
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 · 298
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 · 567
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 · 441
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 · 261
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 · 453
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 · 479
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 · 597
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 · 336
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 · 1.2k
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 · 395
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 · 553
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 · 434
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 · 371
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 · 1.4k
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.
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