Earlier this week I joined six other writers for the first ever Roslyn Writing Marathon, part of the Fresh Air Artists’ Festival sponsored by High Country Artists. Led by writer and educator Janine Brodine, we wandered around town, stopping at various lovely, interesting, and spooky places to write together and read our work to one another. A delightful day, one I hope to repeat soon.
My two favorite pieces, with the place they were created noted after the title, and a photo of the Roslyn Cemeteries, which turned out to capture just a hint of their spooky beauty.
The Picture (Morning Glory Inn/Retreat Center)
She felt the presence of the little girl most in the garden. It wasn’t even her own garden. She’d discovered it on their last vacation, the one that was the most – or maybe the only – spontaneous thing they’d done together.
The inn’s garden held a small statue of three cherubs, tucked among the daisies, sunflowers, butterfly bushes, all old-fashioned flowers in bright colors.
It wasn’t even an old statue.
Yet there she felt the little girl’s presence the most. Why would a ghost choose this spot? Well, once you accept that ghosts exist, you can believe anything else.
The ghost of the little girl who’d grown up to be her elegant, daring, intelligent mother. She owned only one photograph of her mother as a little girl. And that little girl – so different than her adult self, so light, so silly, her face in the picture filled with a toothy smile, her gingham dress askew, her knee marred by a scrape or two – that little girl visited her grown daughter in this tiny garden at this tiny inn nestled on a side street in this tiny town. A place she’d never visited until so close to the end of her elegant, daring, intelligent adult life.
“Mama,” her daughter prayed, sitting near the cherub statue, gazing at the bright flowers. “Mama,” she wished.
And a little girl’s face, overcome by a toothy grin, peeked from behind the daisies.
This Spot (Pie in the Sky Cafe)
There is a spot in the universe for each of us to call home. Finding it? That’s another story.
Crowded elbow to elbow in the city – a city known far and wide to be hip, cool, progressive, “green” – so green it’s nicknamed the Emerald City – so many hip, cool, progressive people call it home, they have to build boxes on top of boxes to hold them all. The highest boxes command the best views and the highest prices. The simple life of being hip, cool, progressive, is simply expensive.
It seems the kind of place she should call home; it offers so much hip, cool, progressive shelter from the elements. But twenty-plus years in the shelter leaves her yearning to crowd elbow to elbow with trees, grasses, river banks, birds.
She craves breathing room. She forgets it comes with loneliness. Although –
She is touched by the bug, the need to wander. She tries so many places. She catches herself hating the “there’s no place like home” lesson of the Wizard of Oz, her previously favorite movie. One day she notices she is staring longingly at a ten-year-old boy’s pet box turtle. He never has to seek home; he carries it on his back.
She knows that envying a box turtle living in a small glass box in a small house in a large city is, quite probably, a sign of insanity.
Then, in a town she knew of but never resided in, a pair of kind brown eyes catch and hold hers across a diner’s melamine table. A smile encourages her to speak. A large hand holds hers as they cross a nearly empty street. She’s dating! There is music, and laughter. He cooks. Miracle of miracles, he also cleans up.
She begins to wonder if, after all her seeking, home is not a “where” but a “with whom.”
She forgets the turtle.