The perfect purse

handbag-24410_960_720 (1)The perfect purse, she is elusive. She has an outside pocket so the key card is easily accessible each morning. She stands up even after she is thrown on the floor, the desk, the counter, the table. She handles it well when she is hung on the hook, the spindle, the back of the chair, the arm, the elbow, the shoulder, the man.

She is a good color. Your favorite color. A color that won’t show the coffee stain, subway grime, baseball dirt, the floor of the car goo, the movie theater sticky. A color that looks good with all your outfits. A color that does not need cleaning, a color that cheers you up and makes you look slender. She is black.

She can hold it all and not break apart. She holds the permission slips, medical forms, chapstick, sunblock, 3 shades of lipstick, lollipops, tissues (old and new), the wallet, the granola bar, an apple, the phone, the pens, the chargers, sunglasses, water, receipts, the invitation, the card, the necessary and some change.

She knows where your keys are.

She is soft and it does not hurt to carry her. She knows how to sit quietly on the side.

She does not get in the way of the winter coat, the baby, the holding of hands, the lunch tray, the grocery cart, the Other Bag.

She opens easily to reveal all her organized wonders: yes, she is ringing, yes, here is the phone, yes, you can meet for lunch, yes, here is the lipstick and compact, go freshen up. No, you can’t put your leftovers in her, your perfect purse does have her limits.

She is fashionable, she is put-together, she is good on a plane, on vacation, at work, at soccer practice, in the car and really, really good at paying for pizza.

She does not spill, not even your secrets, which is good because she goes everywhere with you.

She knows you are angry, frustrated, sad, small and overwhelmed. She is forgiving when you put too much in her and on her. She has ways to tell you when there is too much.

She can make you laugh, like when she coughed up that sock.

She is always, always, always right there by your side, which is why you need the perfect purse, which is the purse you have right now.

 

 

 

Art Therapy is in the The Sirens Call eZine – Issue #51

My story Art Therapy is now published in the 51th issue of The Sirens Call eZine, pg 198 http://www.sirenscallpublications.com/
I also got selected to read  “Art Therapy” as part of a virtual open mic night, at 29 mins 34 secs my reading starts https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=zXwJer9EiMI#dialog

This is my first horror story (it was supposed to be a ghost story but turned into horror) and boy did I like writing it,

Great Falls

“There is no way this is happening to me,” Roman thought, even as it was—irrevocably, unfairly, totally—happening to him.

“The university regrets to inform you …” read the message on the submission portal, and you can guess the rest.

“I did everything they wanted me to do,” he told his counselor. “I was even in the goddamn chess club.”

He pushed his nails into his palms so hard they left dents in his skin. The pressure of his tight fists made his hands shake. The promise of his future turned out to be false. His hard work for the last four years was wasted. He learned that day that society that was never going to accept him, that there would always be barriers in his way. Prescribed paths were an exercise in futility.

From then on, Roman was determined to make his own way, to be true to himself. No more King’s Gambit for him. He blew off his homework for Monday and said yes to a hiking and rock climbing trip, something previously considered frivolous and without merit. Something he always wanted to try.

He pushed himself hard, pounding out his disappointment. He had to open his fists to scramble up the rocks. The sun melted the scowl off his face. The trees covered him in shade when he was hot. They finished up at the Great Falls.

“Man against nature,” the guide said, “we’ve conquered the hike.” He went to plant a flag on the rock.

“No,” said Roman, stopping the guide. “No, that’s wrong. We are here to be a part of it all. To exist in harmony.”

The roaring of the water and the power of the falls poured into his body.

He raised his arms up into the mist. He yelled, “I’m here. I’m here. I stay. I leave no trace.”

Roman’s legacy of balance was born that day, by the falling waters of the Passaic River. He would later take small groups of students to the falls and stand in the same pose, fists raised.

“Let the energy enter you,” he told them. “Let it fill you up with purpose and light. Make your own definition of success. That we live with nature, not against it, not fighting it, not as conquerors, but as symbiotics. The water of the mist is like the water in our cells, small, powerful, and eternal.”

In this way, Roman learned that nature was his true teacher. That kings and castles will crumble, but water falls with endless force.

Image by mac231 from Pixabay

Cellar Dweller

Twelve years old, a responsible boy. He crept down into the musty basement, searching for hidden cookies.

BANG!
The door slammed shut.
Quick, up the stairs.
Too cold! The door’s stuck.

POP!
The dim bulb zapped dark.
Fast heartbeats. Desperate to leave.
No light! Can’t see.

Be small, be still.

Cave crickets, shadows and spiderwebs ’till Mom’s home at six.

This post was written for the YeahWrite #442 Microprose grid. Click the badge to read and comment on other entries. Don’t forget to vote!

Island Girl / Jersey Girl

What is the difference between “a place you live” and “a home”?

I’m an Island girl and the long Newport Bridge carries me home to Aquidneck Island. When the pungent smell of rotten red seaweed hits my nose, I roll down the windows and take deep breaths. A salty mist settles softly on my skin. I’m so happy to be home, where there’s an ocean breeze every afternoon and I know all the shortcuts to avoid the tourist traffic.

I didn’t know how lucky I was to grow up in Newport until I moved away. Didn’t everyone go to the beach, every day, all summer long? Didn’t everyone go to sailing camp? Didn’t everyone ride bikes around town and climb in trees on the great lawns of mansions?

No? Right. I was lucky to have a special childhood by the Atlantic Ocean with all its gifts.

The job choices in Newport are: cop, teacher, bartender, or waitress. I didn’t want to be any of those things. I wanted to shop in more than three stores; I wanted to explore wide avenues and dark theatres; I wanted to try sushi, tandoori, and cannoli. I moved to Manhattan Island.

I’m an Island girl and the long George Washington Bridge carries me into New York City. When the garlicky rotisserie chicken is placed before me from La Casa Del Pollo, I lean forward and inhale the Dominican aromas. A grimy summer sweat builds up on my skin. I’m so happy to be in the City, where I have tickets to a show and I know the best place to get a Bombay Sapphire Gin and Tonic, the one that comes in a pint glass.

I didn’t know how lucky I was to live and work in New York City until I moved away. Didn’t everyone go to Free Shakespeare in the Park plays and discuss them later with the “We Love Shakespeare” Club? Didn’t everyone explore the East Village bars on Friday nights and eat a late night slice on 1st and 9th? Didn’t everyone walk along the The High Line at sunset and people watch?

No? Right. I was lucky to have a great job in Manhattan and absorb all its energy.

The dating choices in New York are: finance jerk, acting flake, legal sleaze, or West Village experimenter. None of those things really worked for me. I met a tall, dark, handsome man sailing on the Hudson River. Turns out he was a really nice guy, too.

I’m an Island girl and I married a man from New Jersey. When you fall in love with a man from New Jersey, you end up living in New Jersey. The address of our first apartment was: 550 Jersey Ave, Jersey City, New Jersey.

Now I’m a Jersey girl, and I truly live in the heart of the “Garden State.” When the apple cider donuts go on sale in the fall, I eat the first three before I’m even get back in the car. A quiet peace surrounds me during autumn hikes. I bargain for thirty pumpkins and celebrate with friends at a Halloween Party. I look forward to the creativity every year.

I am amazed at the opportunities my two young sons have in New Jersey. Doesn’t every child have a Science Fair they can participate in and watch a Raptor Show as a part of the day? Doesn’t every town have a sixty-boy-strong Cub Scout troop that actively camps, bikes, hikes, and teaches kids how to tie knots? Doesn’t every school have a Chess Club, Minecraft Club, Drama Club, and more?

No? Right. I am lucky to be raising my children in a place where education is valued and to find community with my neighbors and friends.

But I’m still an Island girl at heart.

An island has bridges to send you on your way when you are ready to leave. But it always welcomes you back.

Family tree

The family tree project my eight year old son made in school hangs in a place of prominence above his desk. He proudly points it out to guests and tells them about the important parts.

He traces up the branches back through three generations of couples, starting with his picture, at the bottom of the tree. We are lucky to have black and white pictures from American, Canadian, and Indian ancestors from the early 1900s.

My son points out the flags he included, what they had in common, and how they changed over time.

“Mom, is that why you and Dadi jaan both like tea so much?” he teases, “because of the British?”

One hundred years ago, because Canada and India were part of the British Empire, both the Canadian and Indian flags had the Union Jack, the national flag of the United Kingdom, in the upper-left quadrant.

flads
Canadian Red Ensign, varieties used to 1965. Star of India, used from 1880–1947

“Probably,” I agree with a smile. When my mother-in-law visits (Dadi jaan to my son) we love to sit and have a good cup of tea and a treat. I realize her background and mine are more alike than I thought.

He looks closely at the pictures. He notices how my Californian grandfather looks just like my father. He comments on the crinkle in his uncle’s nose was passed down from Dada jaan.

“Am I half-Indian and half-Canadian?” my son asks.

“Not quite,” I reply. “Your half-Indian, one-fourth Canadian, some Norwegian, German, British and Swiss.”

I wait. I hold my breath.

Will he ask about being brown? Will he ask if I’m white? Will he ask if he’s white? If he asks me these questions, I have no idea how to answer.

“Mom, I’m tanner than you,” he says.

I hold out my arm, place it side-by-side to his.

“You sure are,” I say, “Every summer you get a nice golden-brown tan. I just get pinker and full of freckles.”

We look at the pictures of people that look like him, that look like me, that look like my husband.

“I like my family tree,” he says, “It’s cool.”

I like the family tree so much; I laminate it. Together, we hang it back up above his desk.

Whenever guests come over, he brings them over to look at his origins. He uses it to define who he is. He understands those who came before him, makes him who he is today. The family tree helps to answer lots of questions he wasn’t even aware he was asking.

How Grandma got a new oven

cookie.jpg

Grandma hugs and Grandma Cookies are some of the best things in the world. Grandma mixes in love when she bakes.

One day in December, Grandma made banana bread for her bridge group. She was sorely disappointed in the results.

“A dense, hard brick,” she poked angrily at the solid loaf that came out of the oven.

When sweet Aunt Nancy came to visit, they bickered making apple kuchen like sisters always do. Even the cinnamon, sugar and vanilla ice cream couldn’t make up for the undercooked dough they had for dessert.

“This just doesn’t taste good,” said Aunt Nancy. She put her fork down in dismay.

As the month went on so did the baking disasters.

The Christmas cookies were flat firm discs. Eat one, and you might break a tooth.

“I’m going to wrap these up for the Canadian hockey team,” Grandma said. “They are better off as pucks for practicing.”

“But I love Christmas cookies,” Poppy said.

“We won’t be having any this year; the oven is broken,” sighed Grandma.

The next day, a big truck rumbled in with a brand new oven. It was the talk of the sibling group phone texts.

Grandma christened it with a batch of chocolate chip cookies. But they stayed tight balls of dough; they did not rise.

“Hmm,” said Grandma with her hand on her hip. “I followed the recipe.”

She reviewed her ingredients. She had the right flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda.

That’s when she saw it. The expiration date on the little yellow can, so small, so hard to read.

So seven years old.

“Oh well, we needed a new oven anyway, that thing was almost as old as our marriage,” she said to herself as she threw away the offending can.

She pushed the new digital screen with authority, setting the oven to 350°.

“Poppy, I’m making Snowball Cookies, can you get me some baking soda? We’re all out.” She handed him her list.

I’ve got a lot to learn from Grandma.

Image source: Slice of chic