Ms. Clara in 2B by Debbie Sickler
“You have a lovely garden ma’am. Been meaning to tell you so for quite some time now.” The old woman’s voice startled me as I jabbed my key into the lock of my front door. I had grown accustomed to viewing the silent figure by the door of 2B, as a piece of furniture. Nothing more.
“I beg your pardon?” I pulled Jason’s cap down below his ears and fussed with the collar of Brian’s polo shirt. “I don’t have a garden. The patios here are too small for that. And forgive me for saying so, but if I were to have a garden, how would you know it’s lovely? I always thought you were blind.”
“There are all sorts of gardens ma’am. All sorts.” My neighbor sat rocking slowly in her wooden chair as she spoke her riddles. “I used to have me a wonderful garden, I did. So beautiful. Shoulda spent me some more time enjoying it while I had it. Drunk driver put an end to it though. Put an end to my eyes too.”
“Well, I’m sorry for your loss. Maybe one day you’ll plant another?” I was running late to get Jay to school and was too short on patience to figure out the ramblings of an eighty-year-old blind woman with imaginary gardens.
“My time for gardening has come and gone. There won’t be any more flowers springing up for this old soul. Just make sure you enjoy yours while it lasts. The blooms fade so quickly sometimes. So quickly.”
“Yes, well, I really must be going.” I tried to scoot the boys past her door and down the hall.
I had almost made it to the elevator when she called out. “The names Clara Johnson. Ms. Clara’s fine. You have a lovely day and take care of that garden now.” She continued rocking and staring off into the distance with eyes as clouded as her thinking seemed. I pushed the down button a few extra times without saying another word.
When we returned that afternoon, I was in a foul mood; Brian’s diaper had leaked all over me. I hardly noticed Ms. Clara with all the scolding I was busy doing.
“Bri, when are you ever going to learn to use the potty?” The overstuffed diaper was creating an awful stench and I couldn’t wait to get inside.
“Sounds as though you’ve got your hands full.” The crackle of her voice matched the creaking of her rocker perfectly. I hardly glanced up as I dug around for my keys, which had managed to settle to the bottom of my purse already.
“Oh. It’s this stupid diaper. It leaked all over my new blouse.”
“You have to expect a little dirt if you want to have a garden.”
“Dirt I wouldn’t mind. It’s this fertilizer that’s getting to me.” I managed a smile at my own cleverness. “If this kid would just stop being so dense and catch on. I think he takes after his father. He wasn’t too bright either.”
“Now how on earth will your buds blossom if you pelt them with pebbles like that?” A wry smile spread across Ms. Cara’s wrinkled face. I had to stop and think about that one for a minute.
“Each one is different. Some will thrive in the bright sun, while others would simply wilt. Some need constant pruning so they won’t snap beneath their own weight. Others are meant to grow free and confident. It is up to the gardener to recognize their seedlings and apply the proper care.”
I still wasn’t sure Ms. Clara was all there, but she was starting to make sense. I looked down at my little ‘garden’ as she called it. They really were great kids and it had been awhile since I’d stopped to admire them.
Keys finally retrieved from my bag, I turned to unlock the door.
“Have a good evenin’ ma’am.”
I paused and looked back across the hall at apartment 2B. “My name’s Meg. You have a good night too Ms. Clara.” I herded the boys through the narrow doorway with a gentle, guiding hand.
Remembering the advice to enjoy my garden while it lasted, I inhaled deeply. Then I remembered Bri’s current potty emergency and regretted it. I rushed him to his changing table, but not without offering up a silent prayer for my wonderful garden, fertilizer and all.
About the Author
, a mother of three boys, began writing as a hobby in 2005. She has since won several awards and been published both on line and in print. She is currently working on a Christian fantasy screenplay. Contact her at email@example.com
© 2006 Debbie Sickler, Article Source: Faith Writers
Losing Myself by Jan Ackerson
Dan and I married young—we were children, really—but I was charmed by the curls that played at his neck, and by his raspy chuckle. Those were reasons enough to marry, as it turns out. Years later, those same qualities still quicken my breath.
Not long ago, we waved at our darling Lily as she embarked on a new life with her own curly-haired charmer, in a flurry of lace. Dan’s arm tightened around my waist as their car disappeared, and he whispered in my ear. “We’re still young, sweetheart. Time to do something new.”
"Something new" was a spiritual itch that had plagued him for months. Dan wanted to be a missionary—had felt the call and started to research mission fields and financial arrangements while I was occupied with Lily’s wedding. I strained to hear the same voice that had reached my husband’s ears, but God was silent to me. I followed Dan anyway, transported to a distant land by the power of my love for him.
The air in my new country was richer than that of my home, thicker with exotic smells. Colors were more brilliant, the music filled with stranger harmonies. The language, when I learned it, fell softly from my tongue. The children were precious with their quick and dazzling smiles, the women sweetly shy. Yet I resisted falling in love with my new residence. My heart was home with Lily and her husband, with the granddaughter whose growth was chronicled in a well-worn photo album.
A few mornings ago, I awoke realizing that I had dreamed not in English but in my adopted tongue. I felt bemused, as if I was losing myself. The feeling intensified as I shopped for vegetables in the open-air market. Surrounded by the liquid syllables of native speakers, I was startled when an English-speaking tourist grasped my elbow and asked for directions. I blinked at her, uncomprehending, having to translate her words mentally before I could formulate a reply.
And yesterday, I sat in the front row of our cinder-block church, listening to the linguistic dance of Dan and his co-pastor, partners in the Lord. Dan spoke, his partner translated, the congregation laughed at his self-deprecating humor—and I realized that I had not heard Dan’s words at all, but had waited for the translation. I am fading away, I thought. If we stay here, I will disappear.
I spent the afternoon in something more closely resembling whining than prayer. "Your work is flourishing here, Lord. Dan loves it. But I have done nothing for Your kingdom, and I am all alone. Why did You bring me here if only to watch me evaporate? How can I serve You if I don’t know who I am?" My vaulted and chained spirit locked out God’s reply.
This morning, I kissed Dan good-bye, wrapped a colorful skirt around my waist, and prepared a cup of the local tea, spicy and sweet. While I sipped, I listened to the cacophony of accusing birds in the trees outside and explored the borders of my soul. My reverie was interrupted by a knock at the door.
It was my neighbor, a quiet woman with whom I’d occasionally shared a loaf of flat bread or a fruit-filled treat. Tears streaked her cheeks and she fell into my arms, weeping her husband’s name. He had been unfaithful to her, I learned, because of her inability to bear him a child. His mistress was now pregnant, and he had put her from their home, penniless and bereft.
I held her stiffly at first, unsure how to minister to this grieving woman, but my arms relaxed as a peacefulness settled upon me—a warmth that spread from the roots of my hair to my sandaled feet. My neighbor’s tears subsided, and she whimpered a proverb used to communicate despair: literally translated, she told me "with every rising of the sun, my teeth are broken anew."
God’s words filled all of the empty spaces in my spirit. “He is faithful,” I said, using the pronoun that means 'the Holy one.' “With every rising of the sun, His mercy comes anew.”
She cradled her head on my shoulder, drawing deep breaths. The mirror on the wall reflected my mixed blonde hair mingling with her brown and golden streaked tresses, her chocolate arms intertwining with my pale ones. I locked eyes with the missionary in the mirror and smiled. We held each other for many minutes, two women discovering grace.
About the Author
is a Christian who has traveled though sorrow and depression, and has found victory and grace. She dedicates all writings to her Heavenly Father. Contact Jan for writing projects at: firstname.lastname@example.org
© Jan Ackerson--2006, Article Source: Faith Writers
The Legend of Quito Road by Dwight Fryer
The Future seems to hold limited possibilities for Son Erby. The African-American child of a farm laborer in 1930’s Tennessee, his fate seems as certain as the sunset at day’s end. But when his father takes him to work at the Coleman farm and hands down the secret to making corn liquor, everything changes.
Moving from shadowed parlors of the wealthy Sawyer clan to the illegal activities in the woods along the Mississippi River, this perspective novel explores the roots of racism, and the dangerous power of secrets that will shatter every taboo in a sleepy town caught between the past and future. The Legend of Quito Road
is a look at a bygone time, the sobering echoes of which can still be heard today.
Chapter 7—A SECRET SCIENCE
In the scene below from The Legend of Quito Road
, Papa Gill Erby, a religious man, teaches his only boy how to make illegal whiskey and keep secrets. Are there really many spiritual or physical differences in making crack cocaine or crystal meth today and white lightning yesterday?
“Now, Son, this is serious business, awful serious for a boy. Remember when we talked about the Ghost of Quito Road yesterday?”
“Yessuh, he was a runaway slave.”
“Son, I said that and plenty folks ‘round here know it. But they don’t talk it in public. I waited five years after we married befo’ I spoke with Sarah on this. Now, I’m telling you that the Ghost wasn’t just any man. He was my daddy, Gillam Hale.”
“Gillam Hale…” The boy paused while he processed it. “Papa, why’s your daddy’s name different than ours?”
“Well, I’ll tell you that long story after we get things set up. But, for now, I need to get a few things straight. Understand?”
“Yessuh, I do.”
“Son, remember, you promised. You know Sarah gone ask, but don’t you tell yo’ momma one thing. You hear me?”
“This week, we doing the same thing that made Gillam Hale a valuable slave to the white folks.” Papa Gill looked around as if someone else was there. One of the mules snorted. He whispered, “Me and you gone make whiskey this week on the Coleman place.”
“Whiskey?” the youth said, twisting his face.
“Yeah, that’s what we gonna do. We’ll fill every five-gallon jug in the back of this wagon with white-lightning whiskey.”
“Papa, we got twenty-five jugs! What’s Mr. Rafe and Mr. Conrad gone do with all that whiskey?”
“Sell it!” Papa Gill spat out. “They’ll probably get as much as six dollars a gallon off the whiskey we fixin’ to make.”
Papa Gill placed his left hand inside his overalls and a strained silence surrounded them from the naked roadside underbrush. Only the noises of the mule team’s hooves and the slicing sound from the steel-lined wagon wheels echoed along sandy Quito Road.
Son’s breath trails thickened in the winter air as he did the math in his head and pondered the economic possibilities.
On that farm, Mr. Conrad and Mr. Rafe Coleman raised cotton, sorghum and corn—corn so sweet that Son liked to eat it straight off the cob in the field during the summer months. You could use corn for feed or you could grind it into meal. But during this third week of December in 1932, thirteen-year-old Son Erby learned you could use corn for something else.
That week, Papa Gill taught his son to make white lightning like Gillam Hale had showed him. Making illegal corn liquor changed everything for that colored boy. Son was never the same. He learned a secret science and he learned it well.
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Meet author Dwight Fryer
shares from his twenty-five years of business experience in leadership, technology, finance, accounting, marketing and publishing. He has written two critically acclaimed novels. The Legend of Quito Road and The Knees of Gullah Island. Dwight speaks about life, healthcare, business, leadership, history, literature, community and storytelling. The University of Memphis teaches The Legend of Quito Road in its Masters of Fine Arts Program in the English Department.
has inspired audiences at universities, corporations, schools, faith communities and nonprofit organizations. His passion is to help people do all they can to succeed and use his experiences to inspire others. Fryer was diagnosed with cancer two days after a 1998 layoff. In 2001, the disease meningococcal meningitis took his youngest daughter’s life. He works as an advocate for immunization against bacterial meningitis with the National Meningitis Association. He survived a wreck caused by a driver under the influence. Contact him today for more details via email at email@example.com
Thankful by Doris Washington
Let's be thankful for the times we come together
Not only for the holiday feast,
And the pumpkin pie,
But also to cherish the time
In seeing each other again,
Till the time we come together-Again.
Let's be thankful
And remember it's the moments we share,
The Love we give,
The Love of family,
The Love of friends,
Near or far.
Let's be thankful for every moment,
For each day,
And remember as we give to others in need,
We too will be blessed.
For its the Love of family,
The Love of friends,
And the Love of Giving.
copyright (c) Doris Washington, November 2010. All rights reserved.
About the Author/Poet
Doris Washington is a spiritual writer, author, poet, and disability advocate who resides in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with her husband and son John. Doris takes the inspiration from her poetry from an unfortunate incident that involved her 18-year-old son with autism, and two police officers in December 1993. This incident impacted Doris' life greatly. She was empowered to advocate for a statewide program for police officers to be aware of and recognize persons with special needs. And it was through this period of Doris' life her writing began.
Her son is her inspiration to write. She has written over 450 poems about her closeness with God, spirituality, autism awareness, inspirations, positive thinking, social issues in our world, and greetings. She is an entrepreneur of DORIS' POEMS. She does poetry readings at nursing homes, and residential home facilities, churches, and the community. Her poems continue to inspire many. Her desire hopes that her poetry will be an inspiration for the world.
Voices of Thanksgiving AND Gratitude
Lutishia Lovely grew up in a small Kansan town, and often had to rely on her own creativity and imagination for entertainment. Her childhood habit of long conversations with imaginary friends and fantasies of traveling the world have evolved into a satisfying career that allows her to indulge her passion for spontaneous jet-setting to parts unknown. She’s visited forty states and more than a dozen countries.
Since childhood, she’s also had a deep-seated belief that dreams can come true. This is what gave her the courage to take her self-published novel to a conference attended by 25,000 people, give one book to one editor, and get a book deal. She says that magic can only happen, when we believe…
What was your most memorable holiday from the past?
My favorite holiday memory is from when I was eight years old. Christmas was coming, yet on Christmas Eve, there were only two or three presents under the tree, and none of them had my name on them! I was VERY concerned, and shared this anxiety with my mother. "Well, maybe Santa won't come this year," she said. "You'll just have to go to bed and see what happens." I tossed and turned, but sleep finally came. Seconds after opening my eyes the next morning, I threw back the covers and flew into the living room! Presents abounded under the Christmas tree! "He came! Santa came!" I shouted to my parents. I was soooo excited! My parents beamed, as my joy became theirs.
I don't even remember what I got that Christmas, and I think it was the following year that I found out that Santa Claus's real name was Mama and Daddy. But that for one Christmas, I believed that anything was possible, and that a total stranger thought enough of me to drop off gifts at my house. It remains my favorite holiday memory. And I still believe...
How do you celebrate the holidays?
What are the "traditions" for your family? For the past several holidays, I've begun making my own traditions. One of them is to give gifts to the homeless on Christmas morning, instead of receiving. Myself and a couple friends buy essentials and treats: socks, underwear, toiletries, etc., and also candy, toys and BOOKS, wrap them, load up the car, don a Santa hat, and drive around the streets of Los Angeles looking for people living on the street.
We don't go to organized places such as Salvation Army, rescue missions, etc. We find people sleeping on the street, tap them on their blanket, and when they come out from under the covers blinking away sleep, we smile, hold out the gift and say "Merry Christmas." I can't tell you how special these people feel, and how much joy I've gotten from this inexpensive act. They've been some of the best Christmases of my life.
What are you most thankful for today?
To be who I am, an awake, aware human being, and a published author! What message does all your books have in common? That Spirit is Love, and that while my books are about the drama in romantic relationships, our relationship with Spirit, and to who we really are, is the most important one of all. The miracle you're looking for is in your mirror. Website: http://www.lutishialovely.com/