Chance Meeting: Part II

Today, we’re finishing up the short fiction piece (because I write in this genre too) from Tuesday. If you missed Part I, here you go.

Part II:

“No, she’s not cleaning it up,” said Bernard. From three people back in line, he saw the whole ordeal, but he kept his mouth shut. Once the TSA worker grabbed a broom and dust pan, his holy ire burned white hot. This wasn’t how the dead should be treated. 4355765412_edb4064599

“Give me the broom. Don’t know you this is holy ground.” He unzipped his carry on and handed Hilda an empty water bottle.

“I promise it’s never been used.” He swept up the remaining ash, carefully funneled it into the bottle, and screwed the lid tight. “Now, let’s find us some holy water.”

Bernard helped Hilda to her feet and guided passed the security line, past the horrid worker still smacking her chewing gum, past the impatient passengers. Hilda, too shocked to resist, allowed him to lead her the bathrooms and the water fountains. Pulling out his rosary, Bernard reached for the bottle of ashes and turned the water on. Despite being a priest for over twenty years, he struggled to remember all of the liturgical prayers for blessing of the waters, the faithful dead, the dead in purgatory. So many prayers, so many almost empty words now. They sounded hollow every time he said them, but it was the only thing he knew to do. Looking down at his rosary and its well-worn beads, he began mumbling the first Our Father.

“But sir, I’m not Catholic,” interrupted Hilda. “Neither was my Robert.”

“Don’t have to be. But the dead deserve more respect than a broom and empty water bottle,” said Bernard. He continued the prayer then began reciting the Hail, Mary with more vigor.

“Now, go in peace.” Bernard handed Hilda her Robert’s ashes and tried walking away.

“He wanted to see the world, and I fucked it up.” Hilda cried, and Bernard knew he wouldn’t escape so easily.

“Look, lady, I’m sure you didn’t ruin anything,” said Bernard. Hilda kept standing there, shuffling her feet, waiting for him to say something. Anything would help.

“The accident was all my fault,” said Hilda. She held on to the water bottle filled to the brim with Robert. “He, my Robert, loved watching the Panthers play. And I told him to go to Lucky’s by himself.” The tears started again, and Bernard knew the drill well. He moved her to the gray plastic chairs to sit down before her uncontrollable shaking caused her to drop the water bottle.

“I told him to call a cab. I told him to call a fucking cab,” she said through her gasps for air. “But no, I let him go by himself, then there he was lying in the bed with tubes everywhere. Couldn’t walk or wipe his ass.”

“Ma’am, you can’t blame yourself. Everyone makes choices.” Bernard’s voice quieted as he choked on his cliched advice. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“To a stranger?” Who does that?” She blinked away a fear tears.

“Trust me. Lots of people line up to sit in a wood box and tell me their secrets,” he said. “This isn’t as private, but you do what you gotta do.”

“I’ve never told anyone,” said Hilda. Her hands tightened around the bottle.

“You can tell me.” Bernard rested his hands over hers and waited for Hilda to begin.

Hilda stared at the floor silent, waiting for the chatting businessmen behind them to leave. Somehow, she didn’t want everyone in the whole airport knowing just the one stranger. His black shirt and stiff white collar gave her an odd sense of comfort, even though, she never found religion very comforting at all. Too many bonnets and prayers and itchy tights and musky old ladies touching her new dress with their oiled up fingers. But today, she liked this priest’s version.

“The morning of the accident, I got laid off from United,” said Hilda. “Cause the other flight attendant told our supervisor I was having an affair with Thomas, the co-pilot.”

“Were you?” asked Bernard. The question punctuated the conversation with silence. Both of them could feel the gap widening between them and shrinking at the same time.

“Don’t I wish, but no. Thomas never noticed me until after I got fired. Felt bad about that lying bitch.” She smoothed the wrinkles in her shirt and watched the people milling about the airport’s Starbucks.

“As I was driving home, Thomas called and wanted to talk. I swear just talk. Nothing else,” she whispered. “Besides, Robert went steady with Jessica Burns anyways. Every time, I was away. I never said a word. That morning was supposed to be my turn.”

“And was it your turn?” Bernard shifted his white choking collar, loosened it a little, then just took it off. The only nice thing about the confessional box, he didn’t always wear the full garb. Sometimes, he sounded more like a therapist than a priest. If given the chance, he would switch professions. His direct God connection burned out years ago.

 

“Why else would I tell Robert to go by himself?” She brushed away a few tears and hugged the bottle tighter. “But Thomas never showed up. Typical.”

Bernard sighed relieved that he wouldn’t be listening to a litany of carnal sins. He grew tired of listening to men confess their affairs, women their lovers in such detail that he swore they climaxed again after the retelling. Another unfair blow by the church. He listened but couldn’t partake.

“The accident took away any hope I had for Thomas,” she said. “Took away Robert too.”

“How long before Robert passed?” Bernard asked as he put his hands on top of her again. She gripped his fingers and squeezed. They sat holding hands in silence for several minutes. By now, she missed her flight to Brazil and Bernard his flight to Detroit. Somehow, neither one of them minded.

“A couple of weeks. I left him with the hospice nurse to go to the grocery store. That bitch walked out after I left and Robert strangled himself.” Hilda couldn’t finish. Her words interrupted by choking gasps and tears and sobs.

“I shall pray for his soul,” he said and whispered some jumbled version of the Purgatory prayers.

“Guess you never get a day off in your line of work?” She asked once she stopped crying.

“Not usually. But it’s time for a career change,” he said still holding her hands.

“You mean God let’s you just quit?” The question hung suspended between them as if they hoped God would write on walls again.

“Suppose so.” He stood up offered her his hand, and they walked toward the ticket counter. Two tickets for Vegas.

 

Chance Meeting

Today, I’m changing gears just a bit and offering up a bit of fiction “Chance Meeting.” Besides, poetry and blogging, I’m currently working on a collection of short stories about living in the South. 

Part 1: 4355765412_edb4064599

“Ma’am, I’m going to need to see what’s in that vase,” said airport security. He passed her precious urn to a fellow worker. Her long manicured nails didn’t quite get a good hold, and the faux Ming Dynasty urn slipped from the grasp of the TSA worker. Crash, thud, shatter. Hilda saw everything blur except the urn, and she shoved her way through the metal detector slipping on polished floor to get to her only carry on luggage. “Oh, shit,” she muttered softly. “Oh, shit, oh, shit.” The TSA worker chomped on her bubble gum loudly and stared at Hilda bending over the ashes, the shards of her dear Robert’s urn.

Somehow, time slowed down as her fellow travelers maneuvered around her. Hilda remembered the day she and Robert picked out their matching urns. The flea market aisles were hardly large enough for Robert’s electric wheelchair around, but it made him so happy to be with other people. He never noticed their cruel stares, whispered comments like Hilda did. She heard every word. But Robert insisted that they pick out how his ashes would be displayed, and Hilda never could refuse Robert anything. The white urns with bright blue peacocks mimicked some ancient Chinese pottery, but they would look nice on the mantle. Until that damn TSA worked dropped Robert’s urn and let his ashes mingled with the sweaty feet, dirty shoes, and dust at O’Hare.

Perhaps, bringing Robert along was silly. She didn’t need anyone flying with her before. When she could find work, she jetted from LAX to JFK to RDU. She sweated her ass off in Bombay, nearly froze in Moscow. She never needed Robert by her side because he was waiting at home. Before the accident. When she wasn’t wiping his ass or giving him medicine, she tried to find work on smaller commuter airlines. She never did. They didn’t appreciate her running off to tend to Robert because hospice failed to show up, or he woke up with night terrors again. Always reliving the crash, the river, the near drowning.

But he was gone. With no one waiting for her at home, she took her sole companion with her. He often bemoaned that Hilda got to see the world, and he was stuck in that goddamn wheelchair. She swore this trip to Brazil would make up for his lack of exotic travel. Of course, she wished she could just have her teeth bonded in the States, but her dental insurance wouldn’t cover such a procedure. Too risky.

Sitting on the ground, she looked up to see two young flight attendants saunter past security and into the staff only room. Their uniforms wrinkled from sitting down, and Hilda rolled her eyes at their lack of professionalism. There was only one way to keep those uniforms perfectly pressed till boarding, and she knew it. But her airline didn’t care for her outdated ways.

“Ma’am, you going to clean this up?” asked the impatient security worker. “ Or do I need to call security?”

 

To be continued….

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If I Tell You Where I’ve Been

If I tell you where I’ve been… OneWord2013_Ignite

I’ve been hiding behind piles of student essays pondering how one teaches writing. Some days, I have no idea why the words I string together like beads on a necklace create something beautiful; or why some days, I can’t write a coherent sentence to save my life(or use cliches for that matter). Yet, I taught my writing courses anyway.

This is the one strange quirk of being a teacher–I will never know how well or how much of a “difference” I made. Perhaps, none at all save the assignments which allowed said students to pass a required course. I hope for more than simply that, but I know the teacher who first walked into those classrooms is not the same one who walked out. I’m changed. I learned. I hope they did as well.

If I tell you where I’ve been…

I’ve been hiding behind my computer screen clicking-clacking keys into letters and ideas until they form stories and characters and plot lines. Rolling around behind my eyeballs, stories of Southern life and its quirky, beautiful people keep coming like bowling balls down the lane until I must write them down on lose those stories to another writer. Slowly, I’m forming my mish-mash stories into a collection that I will finish by the end of summer (someone hold me to this, okay?).

I’ve labored through drafts and classes and characters who won’t shut up until I finish their story, or sometimes, those characters sigh and step into the shadows for awhile. One of the odd quirks of writing fiction really, I can’t force my characters to speak or show me something knew when they want to nap or sip sweet tea on the front porch. So, I wait too. When they are ready, I put their lives on the page as they would have wished to known to this world.

If I tell you where I’ve been…

I’ve been reading and writing and cooking and living and remembering. This is where I’ve been for the past four months, and now, my words are here again. Thank you for your patience.

Short Story Beginnings

Today, I’m offering up a bit of a short story for this Monday…Monday should always include a bit of fiction.

Rufus

It was the night of the mosquito orgy. All buzzing, low sultry lovemaking—too bad it would only end in more mosquitos. Every summer evening, Rufus sat on his porch slapping half-heartedly as the humming rhythm intensified and waned then climaxed again. Any sensible person would have gone inside, moved away, but Rufus didn’t mind. His only concern was sipping his whiskey, Jack Daniels Green Label, the only kind he would ever drink. Curled up at his feet, his coon dog Mutt, the only kind of dog he would ever own. Staring across the knee high grass in front of his trailer, he could see the large farm house where he grew up. His mother rented out his room only. She kept hoping his brother Donny would come back, but Donny had been dead for sixteen years. Snaking through the long hay and unkempt yard, his drive way ended at the beginning of Highway 52, the main road in and out of Junction. No one came up this far to his house. The only visitors out this way came from the Baptist Women’s Alliance to see his ailing mother.

Leaning back in his chair, he stared toward the white clapboard farmhouse and watched the hired painters leave. A few lights flickered on and off, and his mother would have by now settled on the couch. She probably gave those poor guys an earful about her alcoholic son living in the trailer over yonder. Looking down at his whiskey, he remembered that first sip. The bitter burning liquor almost drove him back to being a lifetime teetotaler, but a few more did the trick. Like every man, he needed something to piss the Jesus fire of his mother off. Not that she would notice. These days, she rarely moved far from the farmhouse sofa feigning illness. She didn’t notice the maid Eva who cleaned. She didn’t notice all of the school’s phone calls and messages about Rufus’s absences, his official withdrawal forms, and his constant work on the farm.

Spitting his chewing tobacco into an old coffee can, he watched the lightening bugs in his yard. He never apologizing for being a bad country song cliché. He loved the farm. The cattle, the large plot for his garden, his large blue Ford tractor. He always dated the waitresses at Jenny’s. Perky, small town girls looking for a small town fella, just like Rufus. His broad shoulders, bronze hair, and full teeth smile got him everything from extra tea to an extra piece of chicken. And an extra piece of pie to share later after work complete with whipped topping.

Now, his leathery hands scarred from working the land. His hair streaking silver only garnered the attention of the divorcee crowd with their silicon enhanced cleavage, but he was done chasing after those types. Only one woman ever lived up to his expectations, and she was too busy bothering the Bennett twins or batting her fake eyelashes at Dave Pike. Another sip of whiskey, and he would call it a night. His knees creaked as he stood up, but the rumble of a car wheels and door slamming jolted him from his usual routine. Never one for disruptions, he kept going in the house hoping whoever it was would take the hint that he wasn’t interested.

“You Rufus?” A strong female voice hollered from the gravel drive. He turned to see a short, well-endowed teenager with bronze hair and fiery blue eyes. She stood next to her car in a tank top and jeans complete with pink leather cowboy boots. He stared long at her since she looked just like, but no, not really.

 

What do you think should happen next? Who is the young woman wanting to find Rufus?


Fiction Friday

As a writer of fiction, short stories, and maybe, an occasional novel, I will be sharing some of my works in progress on Fridays.

Welcome to the 1st installment of Fiction Friday.

“Ma’am, I’m going to need to see what’s in that vase,” said airport security. He passed her precious urn to a fellow worker. Her long manicured nails didn’t quite get a good hold, and the faux Ming Dynasty urn slipped from the grasp of the TSA worker. Crash, thud, shatter. Hilda saw everything blur except the urn, and she shoved her way through the metal detector slipping on polished floor to get to her only carry on luggage. “Oh, shit,” she muttered softly. “Oh, shit, oh, shit.” The TSA worker chomped on her bubble gum loudly and stared at Hilda bending over the ashes, the shards of her dear Robert’s urn.

Somehow, time slowed down as her fellow travelers maneuvered around her. Hilda remembered the day she and Robert picked out their matching urns. The flea market aisles were hardly large enough for Robert’s electric wheelchair around, but it made him so happy to be with other people. He never noticed their cruel stares, whispered comments like Hilda did. She heard every word. But Robert insisted that they pick out how his ashes would be displayed, and Hilda never could refuse Robert anything. The white urns with bright blue peacocks mimicked some ancient Chinese pottery, but they would look nice on the mantle. Until that damn TSA worked dropped Robert’s urn and let his ashes mingled with the sweaty feet, dirty shoes, and dust at O’Hare.

Perhaps, bringing Robert along was silly. She didn’t need anyone flying with her before. When she could find work, she jetted from LAX to JFK to RDU. She sweated her ass off in Bombay, nearly froze in Moscow. She never needed Robert by her side because he was waiting at home. Before the accident. When she wasn’t wiping his ass or giving him medicine, she tried to find work on smaller commuter airlines. She never did. They didn’t appreciate her running off to tend to Robert because hospice failed to show up, or he woke up with night terrors again. Always reliving the crash, the river, the near drowning.

But he was gone. With no one waiting for her at home, she took her sole companion with her. He often bemoaned that Hilda got to see the world, and he was stuck in that goddamn wheelchair. She swore this trip to Brazil would make up for his lack of exotic travel. Of course, she wished she could just have her teeth bonded in the States, but her dental insurance wouldn’t cover such a procedure. Too risky.

Sitting on the ground, she looked up to see two young flight attendants saunter past security and into the staff only room. Their uniforms wrinkled from sitting down, and Hilda rolled her eyes at their lack of professionalism. There was only one way to keep those uniforms perfectly pressed till boarding, and she knew it. But her airline didn’t care for her outdated ways.

“Ma’am, you going to clean this up?” asked the impatient security worker. “ Or do I need to call security?”

Question: what should Hilda do next? Offer your suggestions in the comments. 

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Novel Beginnings

Greetings from the almost mid-point of #NaNoWriMo!

Just to give everyone a bit of an update, I’m currently over 20,000 words into my novel and working my way slowly toward the 50,000 mark.

 

Here is a brief beginning to my novel:

 

Between Lake and Tent Stakes

 

The pool chlorine covered the odor of the dead body as bright red leaves fell into the campground’s large rectangle pool. The water level in the deep end when full was eight feet, but with winter approaching, it had been drained from its normal depth to about half. Four feet of water and a sloping ledge meant the poor floater didn’t die here. Deep purple bruises around the base of the head, the duct tape around the wrists, and no tinge of blood in the putrid pool water would be suspect. The body must be moved and quickly.

Standing in the shadows of the bathroom area, a tall figure evaluated the  scene. The vast woods and lake offered enough of a refuge for the decaying corpse. Indeed, the campground could easily close for a week for maintenance, and the body could be burned. Ashes mixed well in the soil. A flick of his wrist gave the command for the two other figures to crawl out from the shadows. They sat underneath the open umbrella at one of the flimsy green and white patio sets. The plastic chairs frozen cold with dew didn’t offer much comfort. But comfort was the last thing any of the three thought of while looking downward into that pool.

“Don’t tell, Lula,” whispered the tall man to his two accomplices.

Slowly, the younger man slipped down in to the pool, lugging the water logged body up through the shallow end. He whispered the rosary’s Hail, Mary.

“Can’t carry him , no more, sir,” said the soaked young man. His arms straining to lift up the weight of the body and soaked through winter gear.

“Grab the wheelbarrow,” said the taller man. He brought a large tarp just in case. While waiting for the wheelbarrow, the man rolled the corpse onto the tarp, laced parachute cord through the metal grommets, and tied the body up. In the morning, he would pressure wash the pool deck. Fortunately, the concrete gave up its secrets without much coaxing.

Question: How’s your novel coming? Any tips for finishing well?

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Fiction Writing: Prompt idea

I write fiction, and LOVE IT!

But sometimes, I find daily inspiration sparse. I really loved this writing prompt from a creative fiction writing class that I am taking.

Prompt: Choose a book of  fiction, go to page 110 and the second full paragraph. Use the first sentence of that paragraph and create an exciting opening paragraph for a new story.

So, show me what you came up with for this prompt. In case, you were wondering, here is my response:

Oh, really,” she said, all cynicism.(my sentence from the book)

“Oh, really,” she said all cynicism. Her glossy red lips formed her signature pouty sneer, and her acrylic fingernails fondled the small blue box. LaVonda Starr demanded complete honesty from all of the men she dated even though the majority of herself was fake. “How am I supposed to know this is real Tiffany’s? You lying son of bitch told me the diamond earrings you gave me were Tiffany’s. They turned my earlobes green.” She glared at the scared farm hand Donny Joe. His leathery, hard-working hands shook in fear that his first real adult love LaVonda would say no. LaVonda breathed in the pleasure of his insecure boyish nature and reveled in her power.

“And another thing, Donny Joe, if you buying a Tiffany’s box, then putting a Wal-Mart diamond ring in it, gets your ass in my double-wide. Well…” she paused letting her words sink into Donny Joe like the razors sharp quills of a porcupine’s back side. She pulled the tight white lace tank top down lower, exposing her perky, silicone enhanced cleavage. The gift of a previous boyfriend, but Donny Joe didn’t know how she got her boob job. Worse, Donny Joe had no idea his brother Rufus Ray used the extra money from selling the cows to pay for LaVonda’s bosom extenders. Every collagen injected part of LaVonda came from the eager wallets of her boyfriends. Dylan Webb bought her collagen so LaVonda could have a sexier pouty lip. Then, came the Webster twins who financed the brow lift, tummy tuck, five different hair color treatments at the European beauty parlor. Now, LaVonda needed to blinged out with clothes, jewelry, and high heel shoes. And Donny Joe was just the farm hand to do it.

 

Princess Mommy: a Bit of Fiction

I’m a fiction writer, and I feel most alive as a writer when I write fiction. This bit of  writing came from a writing prompt on voice–write about an adult situation through the eyes of a child. It is not a polished piece, but a fun bit of writing for me.

Enjoy!

My mommy is a princess. Barbie as the Island Princessphoto © 2007 Andrea Della Adriano | more info (via: Wylio)

So, I’m a princess too. Mommy is a princess because the pink sparkle jewels on her belt spell PRINCESS, and I’m the best speller in my whole class. And only real princesses can wear princess belts. A princess belt makes mommy pretty because all true princesses are pretty. One day, I will wear a princess belt too and sparkly heels just like Princess Mommy.

Auntie Jannie is not a princess cause Mommy says so. Auntie Jannie is mommy’s step- sister and wears blue eye shadow and shirts that show her boobies. Princesses don’t show off their boobies. Mommy says Auntie Jannie used to live with mommy and daddy. But daddy played slumber party too many times with Auntie Jannie. She left then daddy left, but Mommy and I stayed. Sometimes, I wonder why I look more like Auntie Jannie than mommy. Mommy has bright red hair. I have straight, tangly brown hair. Mommy has big green eyes. I have plain old brown eyes.

Each night before mommy goes to her Princess job, she loops the white leather princess belt through her dark blue jeans. Her jeans feel itchy when I give her a big princess hug. When mommy wears her princess belt, I have to be super careful when I hug her. Sometimes, the princess sparkles scratch my arms.

“ Owwwww, band-aid, mommy!”

Little red beads pop up on my arms, but mommy gives me a hot pink princess band-aid to cover up the little red beads. She wipes the big fat tear from my face, and I touch her soft hand. Mommy has the nicest hands. She has bright pink nail polish on every day. When she walks around in her bare feet before bed, I can see her toes are bright pink too.

“See, all better, my little princess,” mommy says.

This time I remember not to hug her princess belt just her snuggly, squishy middle. Hugging my mommy’s soft, cuddly waist is best. I love her jiggly, squishy belly. It’s like hugging my favorite teddy bear Mr. Snugglebunches except mommy is alive and moves and gives me snacks. Then, I give mommy a little poke on her belly. Mommy doesn’t like me to poke her belly because it jiggles. Then, she complains her middle isn’t like Auntie Jannie. I don’t like hugging Auntie Jannie because she feels like a big hard pole.; besides, she smells funny like old candy and cigarettes. Mommy is prettier and smells better. She smells like the soft white blossoms outside my window. And those flowers are my favorite.

Question: What writing do you like writing best? Or reading best?

 

The Waiting Room pt 3

This is the final installment of the short story “The Waiting Room.” If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, I have provided the links for you.

Photography by Mark Askins

“Mrs. Smith,” called the middle-aged doctor with thinning hair and a thickening waistline, “I’m Doctor Baker, hmmm, I remember you—your husband came in here for the procedure a few years ago. He handled this like a trooper, now if you will follow me.” Dr. Baker motioned Clara to move into the hallway separating the waiting room from the small nondescript examining rooms. The memory of Ed, the funeral, all the rhetoric flooded her mind. She stood rooted to the dingy carpet as though she stood on the brink of a sheer precipice. Gathering the last vestige of hope and strength, Clara stood next to the doctor and in a voice that was barely above a whisper she uttered the words; she had kept pent up inside, “I don’t want to …”

“ My dear, Mrs. Smith think of the greater good of society, You know the condition that our world is in now. Think of yourself as a pioneer into the beyond…” droned the doctor who was a little bored with this small act of heroism. He politely rattled off the same reasons that Clara had heard before sounding like one of the adults in a Charlie Brown cartoon. This was not the first time Dr. Baker had encountered someone who resisted the procedure.

“But I don’t believe that anymore, I was wrong. How can it be for the greater good? Annabel, Jason tell him—I don’t want to,” pleaded the desperate Clara to her disinterested children.

“Mother! The one time society asks that you make a small sacrifice, you pitch a fit. How selfish,” demanded her son Jason.

Clara’s heart filled with shame as she turned to walk down the hall with the doctor who was smiling at his sense of victory over the individual nature of this petite woman. Clara glanced back to see that her daughter and son had returned to their previous activities. Each one mumbled some sort of good-bye as the door separating the waiting room and the hallway shut.

The Waiting Room pt 2

This is Part 2 of a short story that I have written. If you missed Part 1, here you go!

Clara started suddenly from her bittersweet reverie. She had been waiting for about an hour when she dosed off on an uncomfortable chair. Her eyes full of tears waiting to flow, but a wrinkled arthritic hand stayed the tears’ course. She smoothed the wrinkles of her navy dress with white roses printed over the fabric. Clutching a small handbag containing the usual insurance information that every doctor’s office requested from each patient, Clara sat in a typical doctor’s office with its uncomfortable gaudy thrift-store furniture. The décor of the room belonged to another decade with its faded gold carpet and orange patterned wallpaper. The artificial light cast an eerie yellow glow to the golden and orange jumbled menagerie of floor coverings and wall treatments. The room had no windows for the natural, cheery sunlight to peek through, but the synthetic light gave the office a deadly stillness.

Shifting uneasily in the chair, she remembered that ten years had nearly passed since the death of her husband Edward—Ed for short. She recalled that day ten years ago when she walked into the same office and sat in the same chair. She smiled as she remembered how his gentle, rough hands felt holding her hands that day—but, no more, Clara chided herself for allowing her suppressed memories to resurface again. She glanced at her two companions her daughter Annabel and son Jason each one engrossed in different activities. Her daughter was once somewhat pretty—nothing out of the ordinary—she was now middle-aged and the effects of aging showed visibly upon her visage. Life had made her complacent and accepting of society’s edicts. Jason was a successful businessman who fell in love with himself for his moneymaking abilities. Clara’s two children had accompanied her to the doctor’s office only because Clara had insisted upon it. Neither one of them would have been there except they believed that it was their duty for Clara. Annabel sat pleasantly cross-stitching while Jason paced about the room speaking harshly into a cell phone. Clara just watched them with her eyes full of memories of their happy childhoods.

“Mother, stop worrying. The procedure is painless—remember? Dad didn’t worry as much when he went through this. Relax,” scolded Annabel, “Remember, he called it ‘embarking on a new journey’ or something like that. Dad was always a philosopher at heart.”

“Yes, dear? I know it is painless, but I’m afraid, I mean, I still want to …”

“Mother, no more of that kinda talk,” snapped her daughter, “what you are doing is for the greater good of society.”

Clara was taken aback by the harsh language of her daughter, yes, she had heard all the rhetoric about the “greater good,” and when she was younger she believed it. The phrase the “greater good of society” was tossed about so frequently that it was now a meaningless catch phrase for every situation or person that did not agree with society. She questioned in her own mind the seemingly harmless decisions of her past now affecting her today.