Photography, Pictures & Words Challenge, Writing, Writing Prompt

Pictures & Words Day 22: Today I Am Writing

Photo/Writing Prompt: Today I am…

I have spent the last six months diligently editing my Full of Days manuscript. Diligently doesn’t mean long stretches of time on any given day though so I am only half way through the novel as of today. A few minutes here, a lunch break there. Progress is progress though. With each page that I turn over to move to the next, I am more excited about the finished draft than ever before.

So, today I am writing.

I am stealing moments where I can to put my pen on these pages. Timothy and Annabelle are playing together happily. The scene before me, this pair on the floor and my manuscript on my knees, is one I treasure. It does not happen nearly often enough so it is a delight to capture it here.

Intentionality, Photography, Pictures & Words Challenge, Writing Prompt

Pictures & Words Day 20: Treat Yourself

Photo/Writing Prompt: A Cool Drink

This afternoon I’m having a few hours of a “Treat Yourself” day. My fellow Parks & Rec fans understand. Keeping the day more affordable than the spending sprees of Donna & Tom, I have indulged myself in a haircut (which, let’s be honest, ladies, is essentially a mini spa treatment). I am currently sipping this cool drink, pleasing to the palate, while I read a book (a sweet treat of the finest variety). Soon I will leave for my appointment for an hour long massage. If you listen closely, you can probably hear my sigh of anticipation through your screen.

The funny thing is that the plans for this afternoon of enjoying a few just-for-me treats motivated me to make the whole day good. After a short, restless night of sleep, I awoke ready to move. Rather than another day of putting off my intention of a morning workout, I changed out of my pajamas, grabbed my sneakers and weights, and headed to the living room to work up a sweat in the quiet of the early morning. A welcome extension of this, I had a renewed desire to eat healthfully today instead of taking up my old habit of considering unhealthy food to be one of the primary ways I can “treat myself.” Good breakfast; good lunch. I wore one of my favorite, most comfortable outfits. I made sure to laugh with both of my kids in the short time we had together before leaving home for the day. I kissed my husband a few extra times.

Maybe an ordinary day holds more opportunities to treat yourself [well] than I realized before.

Love, Marriage, Photography, Pictures & Words Challenge, Writing Prompt

Pictures & Words Day 19: Then I Remember

Photo/Writing Prompt: Sometimes I…

Sometimes I forget how it felt the first time you kissed me, or even held my hand. The nerves, the doubts, the thrilling hope; the sensations have faded like a dress left out in the sun. The vibrancy has dimmed. If I put that dress back on though, if I slip back into the seams of that memory, then I remember it all. The substance of it is no worse for wear. It still envelops me and I sink gladly into it.

Sometimes I forget, but maybe that’s how it should be for the sake of the sweetness of remembering.

Family, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Photography, Pictures & Words Challenge, Writing Prompt

Pictures & Words Day 15: Don’t Forget to Play

Photo/Writing Prompt: Play
(2 pictures because they are one moment together)

“Don’t forget to play.” Of all the things for my grandfather to say on his death bed, this was not what I expected.

I drove down from Detroit to see him one last time. The nurses said he would likely go in the next twenty-four hours. When I entered his room at the nursing home, pulled a chair up beside his bed, and waited for him to wake, I wondered what I could possibly say. Mom said he knew the end was around the corner. His clear mind was housed in a body exhausted to its limit. Grandpa was always full of advice and information. He could tell you something about everything while never claiming to know it all. My own mind was still blank when Grandpa’s eyes opened. They were watery and dim. Short, sparse gray hairs stood askew upon his head. Grandpa was a big man, tall, broad, and thick. Even in his diminished state, he filled the standard issue bed to its edges. He lifted a hand, gesturing for me to lean closer. I did and he planted a kiss with his dry lips on my cheek. That’s when I knew I wasn’t going to come up with anything worth saying. I didn’t have to though. Grandpa started right in.

“Patrick, I’m glad you’re here.”

I nodded. A lump was forming in my throat and I didn’t trust myself to speak.

“I was thinking about you and that little boy of yours. And the little boy you used to be.”

He reached for the plastic cup on his bedside table. I held it while he sipped water, the gurgle of air bubbles in the straw the only sound in the room.

“You were such a serious little one. Wanting to be older, wanting to be bigger, wanting to do important things.”

I chuckled quietly. “I was, wasn’t I?”

Grandpa had no smile though. He went on. “I know you’re frustrated at that job. Feels like less than what you should be doing.”

I ran a hand over my thinning hair. We’d had plenty of conversations on the topic.

“You are doing important things.” He narrowed his eyes when I began to shake my head. “That boy, he’s your important thing.”

He needed another drink. I could see the strain that it was for his neck to hold his head up from the pillow for those few seconds.

“When your Laurie died, I knew your son would be okay. I wasn’t so sure you would be okay, but I knew he would be. He’s your important thing and you’re doing it right. Can I give you just one bit of advice though?”

“Of course.”

He hand engulfed mine. “Don’t forget to play.”

I’m sure the puzzlement was written on my face. “What do you mean, Grandpa?”

“Just that!” His deep voice rose urgently. “Don’t forget to play! You have so much on your shoulders, so much worry. I see it in you from every angle, Patrick. Your son needs to see you play. He needs to see you laugh and smile and enjoy yourself. When he’s older, he’ll understand without a doubt how hard you worked to provide for him. He’ll realize all the sacrifices you made. But don’t let him wonder if you enjoyed your years with him. Don’t let him question that.”

I smiled then, aware that of all the advice he could give me in this moment, this was exactly what I needed to hear.

Grandpa’s face relaxed and his eyes lost their focus on me. “You remember how we used to play, Patrick?”

“I do. I remember you teaching us baseball in the backyard. I remember sitting on your shoulders for half a mile to reach the river and filling my jar up with tadpoles. You used to carry me around upside down and I’d tell you what I saw that was different than when I was right side up.”

Tears were trickling onto his leathery cheeks but he was smiling so I continued.

“I remember you pretending to be a bear and chasing us around the field behind your house. There was one night we had a board game marathon and you tried to play Twister with us. We all laughed so hard that Grandma almost peed in her pants. I remember the whole family going camping out at Carter Lake. It was the only time all year we could count on Dad taking a couple days off from work. You and Dad taught us boys how to handle a canoe but our first time out alone we tipped it. I remember surfacing next to Greg and the two of you were up on the shore laughing at us.”

Grandpa nodded. I squeezed his hand and added, “It made me want to tip it a second time so I could hear you laugh that hard again.”

His eyes refocused on me, brighter than before. “So, you’ll remember to play?”

“I will.”

Grandpa died several hours later. My brother Greg and I were there beside him. My mother, too, but she had dozed in her chair. His passing was so quiet, so calm, that it was over before we realized she was sleeping through it.

After the funeral, the whole family went to Grandpa’s favorite restaurant. We had reserved most of the tables in there and still had trouble finding seats for all of us. Everyone swapped stories and memories, laughing and crying together. As we walked out to our cars later, my little boy squeezed in between my brother and me. Without a word we both grabbed his hands and swung him as high as we could manage. Giggles poured out of him and he shouted, “Again, Daddy, again!” I could hear my grandfather’s laugh in my ears as we lifted him again.

Photography, Pictures & Words Challenge, Writing Prompt

Pictures & Words Day 14: This is Why

Photo/Writing Prompt: An Emotion

If I could hang this one on a museum wall, the tiny gold plate hanging beside it would simply read “Giddy.” This. This right here is why I try to always carry a camera. It’s not only so I can capture and preserve and share the moments that matter. It is so that I do not miss the moments that matter. With my camera in hand, I am looking for them. I am on watch for those fleeting bits of life that are too easy to pass by without absorbing their value. Maybe you’re better at catching those moments than I am. For me, the camera helps.

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Photography, Pictures & Words Challenge, Writing Prompt

Pictures & Words Day 13: 3001 Marley Road

Photo/Writing Prompt: Black & White
*Disclaimer: The title is not the actual location of this picture. It’s a fictitious address for the purpose of the story.

The solitary lamp post at the end of the dirt drive was encompassed by wildflowers. They stood tall and bristly with names unknown to Tate.

Tate stopped at the edge of the road, a narrow two lane stretch of countryside cracked pavement. He fixed his green eyes on the dirt path in front of him. Plenty wide enough for a car yet not a trace of tracks upon it. No divots typical of gravel driveways from the repeated passing of the same vehicle day after day. Nor were there any fresh disturbances of the dust and pebbles to signify recent activity.

He stepped sideways to the crooked mailbox. The rusted door creaked as it was opened just enough to see inside. Empty. He checked the blue numbers painted on its side again.

3001.

Yes, that was the address he was given and this was the only Marley Road in the county, or any of the neighboring counties. He’d checked.

Tate rubbed the scruff that grew over his cheeks and chin in the last two days. He had packed his bag in a hurry and his razor was forgotten.

A breeze wafted through the trees, rustling the leaves like the sound of a dozen whispering children. The wildflowers’ heady scents rose to his nostrils. The early sunshine was warm already and Tate wiped away the bead of sweat trickling down the back of his neck.

His eyes kept returning to the lamp post. It was lit.

Someone is here, it announced.

A solemn, proud butler at the entrance to his master’s home. Can I help you, sir?

Yes, someone is here and by God, I certainly hope you can help me.

Tate nearly answered aloud before laughing at himself.

Elections; earthquakes and hurricanes; Afghanistan and Iraq. Tate had covered them all and much more. He’d followed each story wherever it led, to whomever it led, until his pen was satisfied. None had tortured his nerves like this one.

27 years. That’s how long he’d followed this story. 27 years of questions, theories, interviews, leads – some adding a piece to the puzzle, some detouring him from the right path.

27 years to bring him here. 3001 Marley Road, Black Mills, Wisconsin. A lamp post and a dirt drive and a house beyond the trees, in which, if he finally had it right, Tate would find the brown haired girl he watched being kidnapped when he was 7 years old.

Flash Fiction, Photography, Pictures & Words Challenge, Writing Prompt

Pictures & Words Day 10: Ever in Motion

Photo/Writing Prompt: Motion
There were numerous reasons to love the lake. Everyone had a favorite. For Alex, it was the movement. The lake was ever in motion. Even when it appeared so, it was not still. There would always be a current beneath the surface. Tides would roll in and back out. The lake wasn’t capable of stillness.Therein was the romance, in Alex’s opinion.
That perpetual movement meant you could not be still if you were to be a part of it. Swimming, floating, boating. Either move yourself or let the lake move you. True stillness was not an option.
Alex’s favorite hours to kayak were at dawn when the surface was as close to motionless as it could manage. Paddling until she was surrounded by water a quarter mile in any direction, then laying that paddle across her knees, Alex let the lake have the helm. Often she could see straight down to the ribbed sand 12 feet below. Picking an object still discernible on shore, usually a tree, Alex would watch it to gauge where and how far the lake took her when she offered no resistance. 
Nothing soothed, excited, or satisfied like the endless motion of the lake.