Parental Angst

“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter or opportunity.”

The slogan by Euripides was splashed across the front of her daughter’s t-shirt. As per usual, the tee was two sizes too small. Not only did her heavy bosoms stretch the fabric to its limits, but they also created a sort of oblong divot in the ruffled panels stretching between the two points.  The effect emphasized the generous gift God had given.  The neckline was obscene, even by 1970’s standards, which was saying a lot.  She imagined the slits in the back of the shirt were made by dragging a bare razor blade across the fabric panel as it was stretched over the back of their outdated toilet.  She’d seen slash marks on the toilet seat cover the other day and wondered aloud, “What the what??” 

Whatever way those slits had gotten on that tee, they exposed a Victoria’s Secret bra underneath that was having a tough time holding up under the strain.  “What must that thing have cost her, fifty bucks? And where’d that money come from?” her mother wondered.  She hoped she’d purchased it, and not just walked out in a moment when the clerk was otherwise occupied.

The girl chewed her gum, cracking and popping it with each downward stroke of her jowly jaw.

“I’m telling you, he’s creepy,” she said.  “Every time I get near ‘im, he wants to give me a hug. Did you see him pet my head at the picnic? Like I’m some dog…  No crap, he was petting the back of my head!!! She shivered a little shiver.  “I swear, I can almost hear him lickin’ his lips as he moves in to take a squeeze. Ugh…Sleaze!”

The girl pulled at shorts that appeared painted onto her skin. Chubby legs labored under the pressure, as she squirmed out of the bench seat at her favorite eatery and tried to get comfortable with denim riding up her cheeks.

“This too shall pass,” her mother murmured to herself, “this, too, shall pass.” In the meantime, she’d keep her trap shut and her opinions to herself. Like the therapist always said, she needed to pick her battles wisely. An opportunity would come along, just like the t-shirt advertised, and then she’d speak her truth. Until then she’d be praying, a lot.

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The tests were done. The biopsies, complete. The news, not good!

“I prayed it would be anything but this!” she wrote. In an email. Too cowardly to call.

Words were easier to convey when chosen carefully and printed on a page, she thought, even if it was an electronic page.

Her conscience immediately kicked in, over-anxious as always. You shouldn’t have sent that, it yelled. What were you thinking?

She wasn’t thinking.

She, like her friend, was numb.

The Shepherdess

Female-shepherd-leading-her-herd-of-sheep-and-goats-m2k34jHe stood there, staring with rapt attention as she approached the well where her sheep would water.

“Who is that?!” he asked the shepherd next to him.

“She’s Rachel, our master’s daughter.”

Does she own that flock?” he asked, still staring straight ahead, still unable to take his eyes off her.

“They are her father’s sheep. He is a rich man. She has done this always, as long as I can remember. At least these six years.  Before that, she was too young.”

“By herself?” he managed to get out before a droplet of his own drool slid down the front of his tunic.  He quickly brushed it away before a stain could set in.

“She has brothers. They are very protective. They came with her at the beginning, but now she needs no one. She has servants that go with her, but she does not need them to do the job. She is strong. Courageous. Beautiful, no?”

“Beautiful, yes!”

“She is also forbidden. She has a mark on her. Maybe it is her beauty, but perhaps an invisible brand. Whatever it is, no one dares ask for her hand in marriage.”

“No one?” he replied.

“No one. But maybe you? You look to be a wealthy man yourself. Perhaps you will capture her heart.” He said this not believing a word of it.

She was a shepherd, with her own flock. Jacob couldn’t imagine his luck in finding a jewel so exquisite here. In the wilderness. Beside a well. She needed to be in a palace.

Somehow, he knew he would have her. Must have her. Would, have her!

The Waiting Room

 

waiting room

The busy sounds emanating from the waiting room were jarring. A game show playing on the large flat screen TV overhead. People working puzzles nearby. Hospital staff members laughing it up in their cubicled spaces behind thick glass. The constant sound of flushing as one person after another emptied bladders previously filled with coffee too strong to provide any pleasure from drinking.

“Why can’t they all just shut up!?” Sue sighed. She held her fingers over her ears once more, hoping to drown them all out.

“What is taking so long?” she asked his friend, sitting near enough to him to send a drop of spittle careening onto his jacket as she sputtered and fumed about the wait.

“These things take time,” he’d said. “You want them to be thorough, don’t you? Find everything? Not miss something vital?”

“Oh, my God!” Sue said, as she stormed out of the waiting room. She needed to be away from these people, away from this situation. Far away from the fear. Far enough that she couldn’t feel it any longer; didn’t have to struggle with it breathing down her neck. Didn’t have to fight so fiercely for that little shred of serenity she needed to keep her stable. Of course, she knew these things took time. Of course, she wanted them to find anything that might cause problems later if they didn’t find it. Of course, she wanted a good report at the end of all this.

“What a dolt!” she thought. She needed this to be done!

After a few minutes in the hallway and a smoke snuck outside, she headed back in to the too warm enclosure where they remained waiting patiently for news that might ruin their lives.

“I seriously don’t know how much longer I can sit here.” She said, to no one in particular. As she did so, she stuck her hand into the pocket of her ratty jeans and touched the serenity coin. She lifted her cell phone from the denim oubliette that held it and began dialing.

Again, she was on her feet. This time in search of someone who would understand. God, she wanted a drink!

 

 

 

 

 

Story by Lori H. Copyright reserved April 27, 2018

 

Stranger Things

“Try it,” she said. “What’ve you got to lose?” It was the voice of my mom at the other end of the line.

“It’s creepy and weird, and I don’t think it’ll work.”

“But if it does…” her voice trailed off, as she fantasized about me being saved from surgery and possible chemo. I knew her desperation to be able to make her only little girl better, healthy and free of the cancer, but what were the chances?

“Okay, I’ll contact Berny and see if she can squeeze me in,” I replied, “but mom, please don’t get your hopes up. I don’t have much faith in this hocus pocus. My feeling is that I have cancer because I have cancer, and traditional medicine is the only safe way to fight back against that reality.”

“Just try it, Trudy, please. It’s said that she has a gift, and I believe it. Remember Beverly? Remember Lois? Remember Tammy, and how things turned around so dramatically for her?”

“Yeah, mom, I know, but none of them had cancer!”

Every time I said it lately, the word stuck in my craw. I was still angry. Still miffed. Still a little bit unbelieving that this was happening to me.”

The day of the appointment came. I slid out of the seat of the old Buick Century and into the fitness center where Berny worked as a massage therapist for rehab patients. The place was a surprise. No crystals hanging in the windows; no incense burning when I walked in. The place was fully lit, and full of people of all ages; kids, teens, geriatrics, you name it. The waiting room was packed. It was going to be a long wait.

Berny saw me from across the waiting room, winked, and put up one finger, bending it toward her as if to indicate I should come to her table and have a seat. She touched my shoulder and I felt a prick on the heel of her palm. I jerked my hand away, as if I’d been poked with a pin, I remember. Berny just gave me that gentle stare, like she knew what was going on, but she never commented on it.

“So, Trudy, I hear your mom strong-armed into coming today.” She laughed.

“Yeah, moms can be that way,” I replied, with a crooked half-smile.

“She says you’ve seen the doctor and the prognosis is sketchy for your type of cancer, is that right?”

“Yeah, sketchy is a good word to describe it. I’m usually lucky in life, but this jackpot I could have lived without. I might not even live, period, with this thing. Who knows.” I continued, “And I don’t mean to dis you personally, but I don’t exactly share my mom’s belief that any of ‘this’ can work, for me.”

“This?” Berny replied.

“This new age medicine…this healing massage thing you do. She thinks it’s mystical and magical, or something like that.” I crossed my arms, subconsciously closing myself off to any more superstition or hurt that might try to seep through, once Berny did the magic thing she was about to do and said those mystical mantras over me. I wasn’t sure how long this was going to take, but I was sure I wasn’t totally onboard with it.

Berny asked me to relax. Ha, that was a joke. I couldn’t relax here, not with “this” about to happen. Relax? No way, it wasn’t my style…

I woke to a warm sensation. The lights were low in the room now. Only Berny was with me. She sat, rubbing my forearm and whispering my name over and over, as I came conscious.

“What time is it?” I asked.
“7:30.”
“7:30 at night?”
“Yes.”
“Are you kidding,” I said, incredulous. “My appointment was 11:30 this morning. Have I been asleep that long?”

“Yes,” she said, as she moved away from me and began picking up the items lying around the room, on desks and counter tops. She was cleaning up, getting ready to go home. I was still groggy and unable to get up from my sedated position.

“What did you give me?” I asked.
“Give you?”
“Yeah, you know. Dope. Drugs. Valium? Roofies?”

“I didn’t give you anything,” she replied. “You fell asleep naturally. I merely covered you and allowed your body to do what it wanted to do. You slept peacefully all afternoon.”

I was disbelieving.

“With your clients here?” I asked.
“Yes.”

“And you continued to work while I snored?” I inquired.

She laughed. “You didn’t snore. You didn’t make a sound. You were quiet, really quiet and so out.”

“Is this normal?” I asked.
“Well, there really is no normal with these things. Each person is different. Each problem unique.”

“So that’s it? All I needed was a little sleep and now I’m cured? Of cancer?!”

“Only God knows these things,” Berny replied.

I rose. I wrapped my coat around my shoulders, then tied it around my waist. I prepared to leave, then as I went for the door, I asked, “What do I owe you?”

“Nothing.”

 

 

 

Original work of Lori Hoose, copyright reserved 2018

 

Ridgebury’s Gift

Spot lit microphone and stand on an empty stage

With a calculated gait she eased toward the open mic. Her soft pink lips moved closer to the cold steel end of the amplifier as the audience hushed their noise. The waitresses stopped serving drinks. The drunken businessmen focused on her with rapt attention. The bartender’s rag stopped in mid-swipe, as gently her hair moved across her face on its way to her chin.

She glanced out at the crowd. She knew what was happening to them. She’d seen it before. She’d experienced it herself, although it seemed a million years before. She knew the talent she possessed and she knew how to use it to her benefit. Long after she’d mesmerized them with her song, they’d want her. Want to be near her. Want to touch her. Want to own her talent, her swagger; her promise.

She sang at this same gay bar every week, and every man in the place wanted to be like her. Desirable. Longed for. Unique. She never allowed herself to imagine what it would be like to crawl inside their skins, though. Her calling was of another bent. She served another Master. She worked for a different kind of “high.” She’d have it too, that promised reward, after this gig was done. For now, she gave the gift He’d sent her to give, a melody so sweet and enchanting it moved even the most hardened heart to beg for more.

It all began with that first moist note, and she sang it low and slow…

 

 

 

 

Copyright Lori Hoose, April 4, 2018

A Girl, A Guy, and A Line

It’s Friday and I have some fiction for you this afternoon; an original piece by me, so be classy and don’t steal it.  Have a great weekend. Enjoy!

Like peanut butter stuck to the roof of her mouth, so was that Chesterton quote stuck to roof of her mind; “Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.”

She had to draw the line somewhere, she knew this, but where?  Would it be drawn when he got out of the car and walked her to her stoop?  Would it be drawn after he’s entered her apartment and a night-cap had been served?  Should it be drawn long before either of those choices were birthed? The version of her mum living in her head said she shouldn’t even be going out with someone she met online.

“What if he’s a rapist?”

“What if he’s only after your money?”

“What if he ties you up, beats you, and leaves you for dead in your bed?”

It was this particular brand of crazy she’d lived with all her life.  Doom and gloom projections, that haunted her waking hours as well as her sleep.  She was afraid, of course, because she had been taught to be afraid. Trained.  Beaten with emotional whips if she had not adhered to momma’s rules when living under her roof.

“I’m out of there now,” she said, to herself. “She doesn’t rule my life anymore.”  It was true. Her mother didn’t rule over her anymore. Hadn’t for a long time. Had been dead and in the grave for three years now, so why, oh why, couldn’t she get past all this paranoia?

Her cell vibrated.  That would be him. What would she say?  How brave did she feel tonight?  Was she ready to roll the dice once more?  Only time would tell the tale.  Even she didn’t know what she would do next. That’s what came of being tormented for years. Under her thumb. Unable to move without checking with her first.  Again, with the voices of yesteryear. She was sick of it. Really, sick of it.