Malingering

Beware of self pity.”

Patty hadn’t thought too much about Dan’s parting words from two weeks earlier, but now they were niggling at the back of her brain. Self pity? Is that what he thinks I wanted? I just needed a little break, some time off work. I never asked him to feel sorry for me. Geesh. Party pooper.

The last of the pain pills swam through her veins. What a ride this has been, but I guess I better get my shit together. She sat up from the couch, where she’d spent most of her time the past four weeks, nursing her “wrenched back”.  She parted the heavy drapes, letting daylight into the darkened room, causing her to squint. That’s it, the party’s over. Patty rested her chin on the back of the couch, with a heavy sign, and looked out at the apartment parking lot below.  Back to work tomorrow I guess.

Dr. Murphy had told Patty that she could return to work the day after the accident, but when she called her supervisor, after the emergency room, Patty heard herself telling Katherine, “The muscle spasms are so bad I can’t sit up. The doctor gave me some pills and told me to rest and come back in a week.”

There were subsequent calls to Katherine. More visits to other doctors, three different pain pills, two pharmacies. Getting out of work is hard work.

I’m glad that crazy old man hadn’t been going faster when he rear ended my car – I would have been hurt for real.

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Pickles Gap

Dave left his downtown Fort Worth loft at 6am for the seven hour drive to Pickles Gap, Arkansas where his 84 year old father, Bruce lived on the old home place. Bruce had steadfastly refused to be moved into a nursing home in Conway. “I’ve lived in this house for 57 years dammit. Can’t nobody make me leave now or never.”

The sky was overcast but no rain fell – perfect driving conditions – no glaring sun to blind him through the windshield of his brand new Toyota Tundra pick-up. Lately Dave dreaded the drive home to Pickles Gap, and rarely told people the truth when asked where he was from. Dave was embarrassed by the name of his home town, and ashamed of his poor upbringing and uneducated family. His visits had grown fewer and farther between the last few years. Ever since mom passed, we’ve all drifted to the far corners of the world, Dave thought as he exited onto I-30 East. Even the bopsie twins don’t visit these days.”

Dave’s mind drifted to his younger sisters, Linda and Bonnie (the twins, with names that mean ‘beautiful’ but whose faces are ‘handsome at best’). They are both busy raising families of their own in California and Georgia respectively. “Mom was the glue that held us all together,” Dave remembers hearing Bonnie cry through muffled tears at the burial site almost two years ago.  Linda, the older “beauty” by 3 minutes replied stoically; “We’re family and families stick together no matter what. Dad needs us now more than ever.” She hasn’t been back to Pickles Gap since the day we put momma in the ground, Dave thought bitterly. Being the oldest, and the only male sibling, really sucks sometimes. Continue reading

You Make The Deviled Eggs

Bridget approaches the grocery store with confidence, her nine-month old daughter on one hip and her two-year old son clutching her free hand. The words her mother spoke to her on the telephone last week are still fresh in her mind, “You Make The Deviled Eggs this year sweetie. I’ve got plenty on my plate and Lord knows, at 27, if you can’t handle the deviled eggs, we’ve got worse things to worry about.”

Never before has Joyce, the matriarch of the huge family let anyone else make the deviled eggs for Thanksgiving. She finally accepts that I’m a responsible adult, Bridget thinks to herself as she gets the kids settled into the shopping cart. Earlier she Googled deviled egg recipes searching the list of ingredients for those that sound like they might closely match the famed deviled eggs her mom and grandma before her have fixed for eons. The recipe is not written down anywhere. Bridget silently whishes she had paid closer attention in the kitchen all those years.

With her shopping list pulled up on the Workflowy app on her iPhone, Bridget navigates the aisles of the store swiftly, gathering all the right ingredients, and is back home by nap time when she puts the kids down and dons her grandmother’s vintage apron that hangs on the hook inside the pantry. In no time, the eggs are boiling. Everything goes off without a hitch and she proudly places the finished eggs on the special tray, garnishing the center with olives and pickles. No one is going to be able to tell that Mom didn’t make these eggs. Continue reading

Thanks Mom, You’re The Best

“UGH! What is your problem? I’ll clean up later,” Heather sighed heavily as she finished lacing up her shoe and brushed past Josh in the narrow hallway of their apartment.

“But that’s just it,” said Josh, following after her. “You never seem to get around to it. We’ve been living together for what…six months? and I haven’t seen you clean anything yet!”

“It’s no big deal. Lighten up. I promise, if it gets real bad, I’ll get around to. Right now, I’m going for a run. Come on Disco.” She grabbed the dog’s leash off the hook by the door and slammed it behind her. Geesh, what a nag, she thought as she walked briskly toward the trail, a frisky 2-year-old chocolate lab leading the way. He’s starting to sound just like my mother.

Josh was still fuming when he answered the phone a few minutes later, “Hello,” he barked into the receiver. “Oh, hi Mom. No, it’s Heather…we just had another huge fight. I can’t get her to clean up after herself. She’s such a slob.”

“Honey, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, that girl has some serious issues. You were not raised to live in filth. I can’t even imagine….why don’t you bring your laundry over here. I’ll fix you a nice dinner while your clothes are in the wash.

“Mom, it’s not that bad…and we kinda have plans tonight…”

“Let me ask you something Josh…is this the woman you plan on marrying?” Continue reading

Where Will The African Violets Live?

Erica’s tiny frame was bone-tired after moving all of her possessions across the street and down two blocks, all by herself; with only the help of a “borrowed” shopping cart. Just a few minutes, she thought to herself. I deserve a little break before I return this cart to Thurman’s.

She laughed out loud (imagining the spectacle she must have been to the neighbors these past two days) as she pulled her honey-colored tresses from the messy ponytail, ran her fingers through the shoulder-length strands and fixed them back into another messy ponytail. The last of the darkening tangerine sky was disappearing behind the houses across the street as Erica plopped down on the 5-step stoop of the historical semi-detached that would be home for at least the next year. Watching the color of the sunset fade into twilight soothed Erica’s weary soul.

The bathroom has been updated but the kitchen is original. Erica would have preferred it the other way around, but you do what you can with what you have (she hears her mother’s voice in her head). She knew she was lucky to have found the one bed/one bath on such short notice after her roommate, Sunshine, had gotten them evicted by not paying the rent and running off to Jamaica. Erica swore she would never live with another roommate, EVER again, no matter how tight things got.

She had wanted another place that faced due east, but begrudgingly ended up here facing west. The tiny kitchen is in the front, Where will the African Violets live? she fretted silently. Continue reading

Oh Honey!

It was one of those late summer days where the heat felt dangerous. The sky was stripped of any color, the birds were no where in sight. We swam, slow-motion, from air-conditioned cars to air-conditioned buildings; drowning on the thick, humid air.

We arrived at ‘Branded’ just before 6:00 pm for happy hour. I had taken the time to change out of my work clothes into some tight jeans, a white tank top and my favorite pair of well-worn cowboy boots. It was hump day and my co-worker and I were both in need of a little R&R. She was the designated driver and I planned on taking advantage – it was my turn.

He was the only diner brave enough to sit outside; the table partially shaded by a lonely sapling planted in the sidewalk on the West side of 5th Avenue.  On the shady side of the street, another patio was jammed with early revelers enjoying a folky singer-songwriter’s rendition of the Avett Brothers’ “I and Love and You”.  I took notice and thought it was nice, but we were in the mood for some boot stomping country music and the band that night was all over the radio (plus I kind of had a crush on the lead singer).

I first noticed his facial hair, thinking how hot he must be with a full beard in Texas…in late August. At least it was nicely trimmed and he looked good vs. the ragged, homeless look some guys are sporting these days. I let the metal gate slam behind me and he looked up from his menu. His ice blue eyes caught my gaze and held on the way a good book won’t let you put it down when you’re finished. We traded quick smiles before Rainey dragged me inside. Continue reading

Living on The Edge

She wipes the sweat from her brow as she slowly climbs back on to the bus with the nine other pitiful souls who chose the hottest day of the year to take this wine tour. The legs of her white capris are literally glued to her body and the cute up-do she had been so proud of, and had admired in the hotel bathroom mirror this morning, has wilted, fallen and frizzed.

This is their third stop of seven and Melody and the others are a bit tipsy already.  She is not sure she’s going to make it to the end without a nap, but at least the bus has air conditioning…so far none of the tasting rooms has.

This is the Hunter Valley region of Australia. There are Aussies on this tour and they keep marveling at how it is 45 degrees in November. Of course, they mean Celsius and she uses the Units app on her iphone to quickly learn that this translates to 113 degrees Fahrenheit! She is a California girl, lives in Grass Valley northwest of Sacramento, and before today would not have believed it was possible to survive such heat. Continue reading