Ugh! Did you see that? Suction cups, tons and tons of them, just pouring out
of that long black car! How weird! For OLWG #38
OLWG is also a photo/image prompt, if you put your mind to it. Fun!
Ugh! Did you see that? Suction cups, tons and tons of them, just pouring out
of that long black car! How weird! For OLWG #38
OLWG is also a photo/image prompt, if you put your mind to it. Fun!
When did you stop trying?
(according to the internet) by Soheil Rezayazdi
Oh, yeah…writing prompt? Anyone?
“…gimme your heart, make it real, or just forget about it.”
from Smooth by Santana
The OLWG prompts are: Not today, thank you; Don’t know enough about it; Hush
Sunday. Online Writer’s Guild prompt day. A day to write. All day, if I want, which I do some days, but not today. Oh, now, hush! Today, I have other things to do! I have coffee that needs drinking, and a shower that needs taking, and hair that needs washing, and clothing that needs to be put on, and a car that needs driving, to the grocery store to buy food that needs eating and to the hardware store for the door handle that needs replacing. I’m told it’s a cinch to replace a door handle, but I know next to nothing about how to get stuff that needs doing around the home done, so the plan is to go to one of those huge places where people in orange aprons tell you how to do things, like, install door handles. After all that, and after the new door handle is in its place, there’s a couch that needs sitting on, and a television that needs watching to see people who seek the thrill of victory but end up with the agony of defeat. Or if they’re lucky, the Bronze.
For OLWG 36. I got in 2 of the 3 prompts. The prompts are: Milwaukee; The cost of loving; Right at them.
The decision to let things go is never easy. If you arrive at the point where you have to consider letting go as an option, it means you have, from the first, put in the time. Most likely a lot of time. And, a lot of blood, sweat, and, no doubt, tears. All in the hope that someday, it will work out.
Wayne Newberry was at just such a point. He did whatever it took, whatever was needed. Time, money, you name it. It should be no surprise that everything else in his life suffered as a result. He was in deep debt. His friends stopped calling. His girlfriend broke it off with him. Wayne’s boss finally had to say he couldn’t give him any more salary advances or unpaid leave, not unless Wayne wanted to risk getting canned. When Wayne’s ex-wife’s new husband made a bid to adopt Wayne’s daughter, Wayne didn’t put up a fight. He never was a parent, not in the way it matters, anyway. No, he figured, his daughter was in a good place. The right place for a little girl. Besides, she could always come for a visit, so what is the difference? Besides, he had Bella.
Everything in Wayne’s life was because of Bella. It was all because of his love for his 1953 two door, rag-top Chevy Bel Air he called Bella, that made Wayne do things beyond all reason.
Since the day he got her five years before, Wayne worked tirelessly to bring the old girl back to her just-off-the-showroom-floor glory days. Every penny he had, plus whatever credit card he could max, was spent on parts, body work, a new rag-top, new chrome details, upholstery…you name it. He spent hours combing the internet and trade magazines for restoration retailers and long sleepless nights pawing through engineering and mechanics’ manuals.
When he wasn’t tinkering and fixing, Wayne took Bella to car shows and collector’s events. He had a custom trailer built to carry his precious Bel Air all over the country. Early on, Wayne had made the hard choice to install a 1955 engine, which disqualified Bella from showing at any of the high-end purist collectors’ shows, but that didn’t matter to Wayne. His next big project was to install an original 1953 engine. Someday.
What Wayne didn’t do was see any of the writing on the wall. Bella constantly broke down. Old components and parts routinely gave out. No repair or replacement was anything but expensive. When the collection notices started to roll in after his hours at work got cut, Wayne realized he had to open his eyes to the harsh light of reality. But, the clincher was the afternoon his daughter refused to stop by for a visit.
“Seriously why would I come over to watch you work on your stupid car?” she said in a text message. “You are in love with that stupid car, and never Mom or me.”
Wayne stopped taking Bella out on the town for a spin. He left her in the garage, tucked in for the night under her cover. Instead, over the next couple of months, he made an effort to see his daughter and join his friends in a game of pool every now and again. He made an effort to get out in the world, maybe look for a new job with better pay. People are real, Wayne coached himself. Cars are not people. Bella is a car.
As two months rolled into three, the pain of not being with his pretty baby Bella became more than Wayne could manage. One night after work he walked straight into the garage, threw off Bella’s cover, and went back to work on her. He finally collapsed on the couch in his living room around 4AM.
Then came the awful day Bella wouldn’t turn over. Wayne tried every chewing-gum-and-spit fix he knew, but nothing held. He consulted with every mechanic he could find. He even considered shipping her to Jay Leno’s outfit in California, and paying the hefty price tag to have his people work on her, but the equivalent of a years’ salary was just too high a price to pay.
A guy from Milwaukee answered Wayne’s classified ad and made him a pretty good offer. And Wayne liked talking to the guy. He wasn’t going to sell his pretty baby to just anyone, so, he agreed to the guy’s offer. Wayne threw in whatever parts he had lying around, including the custom trailer. Wayne didn’t want any trace of Bella left behind.
The day before the guy flew out to take her away, Wayne spent the night in the garage, sleeping on a cot next to his pretty baby. Before the guy arrived to cart her off to her new home, Wayne grabbed his well-worn shammy to give the old girl one last polish.
He moved in slow motion, gently rubbing and caressing every inch of her surface. As he made his way along the long line of her chrome stripe, a large tear dropped off his cheek onto the garage floor.
Wayne knew he would never love another as much as Bella ever again.
You think I’m kidding? Mention “The Rover” to my father—when he was still with us—or to my eldest brother, and just see if I’m exaggerating a bit.
How about I write something a bit more coherent, and we forget whatever that weird comment of mine was supposed to be about?
Mornings this time of year are dark as I head out to work. This particular morning is rainy. No sight of the Super, Blue, Eclipsed Moon for us. The night before, though, the rain clouds rolled all the way back, and the twilight sky, like a bare theater stage with a single spotlight, was a breathtaking setting for the tour de force showing of a very-nearly-super, not-yet-eclipsed moon.
Morning drives are uneventful, except for this morning. I merge and get cut off by a car that speeds ahead to get into my lane. Hey, bud! I’m in the right of way, not you! The driver continues in front of me almost 10 miles under the speed limit. I’m not awake enough for a road enraged shout, but frustrated nonetheless.
The school bus ahead is unsure of where the lane is, because, I assumed, the reflection of lights off of the wet street surface obscures the yellow lines. I slow down and hold back at least four car lengths, which slows my progress even further. Cars passing me quickly decide to do the same. I arrive to work almost 10 minutes late, but later, I feel guilty I did not report the lane-wandering bus, or flip off the car that cut me off and then slowed down.
Typical of my manager, a project we’ve made some significant headway on is now completely reorganized and proceeding in an entirely different direction. All that time planning, organizing, wasted. Whatever. The focus on her husband’s poor health has made her anxious, a bit impulsive and definitely scattered these days. I’ve learned to roll with it.
Alarm goes off, and I get up to do it again. The epic properties of ordinary.
Though it was still early morning, the summer sun made itself known. Ulani was accustomed to hot weather, but not like this. The dry Kansas air seemed electric. The constantly whirling dust devils were an annoyance, blowing dirt in her eyes and making her skin itch, but standing on the side of the road overlooking the sweeping and swaying emerald fields against an endless azure horizon enthralled her. The only experience she had to compare were the times spent on an uncle’s fishing trawler, far out to sea. There, the ocean stretched for what seemed like forever against an equally unending bright blue sky.
Somewhere in the distance, in the fields, once stood her great grandmother Amelia’s family home. Ulani tried to imagine what it might have looked like, but all she could see were black and white photos from history books of farm life on the plains and prairies of middle America. She turned to see if she could see anything down the road. Somewhere, near here, once stood Aaron’s great grandmother Mabel’s family home. She looked the other way, but nothing stood out. Only the ever reaching green fields of soy bean and stalks of early corn.
“We’re in the right spot,” Aaron said, consulting the paperwork the local Grange could supply from their archived records. “Right in front of us was the Wright’s farm, and down the road, that a’way,” he said, pointing north, “was my great grandmother’s family farm. McAdams, it says here.”
Ulani looked at the paper Aaron held. “That name isn’t familiar?”
“Mabel McAdams. Amelia Wright,” Ulani mused.
“Only family names I’ve ever known are Greig and Rimouski,” Aaron shrugged.
“Holokai and Kapalakiko,” Ulani replied.
The two smiled at each other. Aaron continued, “Strange, to think there were people livin’ around here, back when.” He paused a moment. “Not now.”
Ulani shuddered a little. “Death is so weird.”
“No shit,” Aaron said.
“What do you think happened? Dustbowl migration?” Ulani asked.
“Nah. I mean, the Depression, sure. And, the drought was bad in those years, ‘course. But this area wasn’t the dustbowl. A little mercy in that, I suppose. Nah, farming changed, ya know? And, people went broke if they didn’t roll with the changes. Then there was the drought, like I said. And, then the Depression? The woman at the Grange said the train stopped coming through here sometime in the 40s. I mean, folks had to go where they could get work. Little towns, like Severy? Just dried up.”
“Looks like some came back.”
“Yeah. It never really went away, I suppose.”
Ulani giggled. “They got a gas station, right? Nail and hair salon, ACE Hardware? I saw a Real Estate office, and a feed and equipment yard, and a 7-11, so…” Aaron gave a short laugh in reply. Ulani continued, “There are many, many small towns in Hawaii that aren’t much more.”
The new-found cousins stood in silence for a while. Neither wanted to leave what felt like a sacred burial ground, but neither knew what else could be discovered by remaining a minute longer.
A pick-up truck approached, slowing as it came upon them.
“Help you folks?” an elderly man asked. Sitting next to him was a very old woman.
Aaron approached the driver’s side. “Nah. But, thanks. We’re just lookin’ at our old family homestead. You know the area?”
“Sure. Born and raised. This here used to be the Merrill’s farm. Part of FNC now. Twenty or more years, at least. Before Merrill, was the, uh…” the driver turned to the old woman, “Who owned it before the Merrill’s?”
“Wright,” the woman said, briefly glancing out the driver’s side window. As she returned her focus to out the windshield, she caught sight of Ulani.
“You Gregson’s kin?” she asked, pointing a finger at Ulani.
Aaron waved Ulani in, who had not heard the old woman’s question. “The woman asked about Gregson!” Aaron said, excited.
Ulani leaned in the driver’s side window, briefly acknowledging the driver. “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you. You know my grandfather?”
“You Gregson’s kin,” the woman stated.
“Amelia Wright married a Polynesian. Had a boy, named Gregson” the old woman said. “Crazy thing.”
“Hawaiian,” Ulani politely corrected. “I suppose it was. It certainly was for my family,” Ulani smiled.
“Girl was trouble, start to finish,” the old woman said.
“How did you know my grandfather?” Ulani asked, ignoring the old woman’s comment.
“Lady asked how you know this Gregson guy, Ma,” the driver said.
“Came looking for Amelia.”
“When was that, Ma?”
The old woman shook her head. “A long while back. Years.”
Aaron interrupted. “You know the McAdams?”
The old woman looked at him. ” ‘course.”
“I’m Mabel McAdams great grandson!” Aaron triumphantly declared. The old woman did not respond.
“Well,” the driver finally said, “Mornin’ to ya.”
The men exchanged hat tips, and Ulani waved. As the driver put his truck in gear, the old woman reached out a hand to stall him. She motioned to Ulani to come back to the truck.
“Gregson was a kind man. A good man. Nothin’ like his Ma. Had his intended with him, time I met him. Pretty gal. You look like the way I remember her. Anyway, he were disappointed he couldn’t find his Ma, but we told him, we said, he oughta bid her good riddance and go on back home to Polynesia.”
“Hawaii. Why’s that?” Ulani asked.
“She were no good! Amelia were no damn good. Be glad you ain’t got none of her in you. I can tell. I can tell you got your grandma’s looks and I knows your grandpa’s good sense. I can see these things. Amelia were no good, and I’m sorry for you ’bout that. Time you leave her be.”
The old woman turned back to staring blankly out the windshield of the truck. Aaron and Ulani made their thank you’s to the driver, and the truck drove off.
Aaron started walking toward his own truck and Ulani followed. A stiff breeze pased through the field, making Ulani abruptly stop. For a brief instant of a single moment, she thought she heard a woman say her name.
Ghosts in the Fields…fini
27 December, 1922
Let me first start by saying “thank you” for your telegram! I was beside myself with worry when I had not received a Christmas Greeting nor letter from you. This holiday was almost totally without tidings of great joy, but for finally hearing from you.
It is so difficult to accept that our lives, my dearest cousin, are no longer in the same time, nor same place. I long for a letter, or any word from you! You must know how very excited I am for you, of course, out there in the world, and on such a grand adventure. I live vicariously through your travels! Please, please, do not forget your cousin and please keep sending me your letters!
I trust your new husband is well. Your description of Mr. Edward Holokai is transfixing! He seems very handsome and clever, the way you spoke of him in your previous letters. You must tell me what marriage is all about! It is your DUTY, as my nearest and dearest, to TELL ALL about your LIFE as a WIFE!
Life here in Severy is much the same as when you left. Papa and Uncle Earl complain about the state of the farm, the price of feed and seed, and the loss of so many farmhands to Kansas City, Chicago and St. Louis and God knows where else. I envy all of them. I envy you! All of you have made your own destiny and gone wherever you pleased. I promise not to carry on any further. You are most likely uninterested in all that you’ve left behind!
I won’t know where to post this letter until you send word of your whereabouts in the HAWAIIAN ISLANDS (just imagine that!)
Until the next time, your forever pal Mabel
2 March 1923
Pregnant!! Oh, you lovely, lucky darling! I’ve just finished reading your letter of 29 January and I am so full of envy for what must be such a state of BLISS! My fullest, hardiest congratulations, my clever girl! (and to Mr. Holokai, as well!)
You say that Honolulu is as modern a city as Wichita and Kansas City, but I wonder if you truly mean it, or if you are concerned that I will worry for your welfare if you do not tell me otherwise. Do you, truly, have the care of a doctor? Even old Dr. Wilkins would be better than some uneducated fellow from the jungle (if you can BARE the thought of being once again the care of old DW! PERISH the thought!) You must miss Aunt Bea so much at this time. I don’t know that I would want to go through pregnancy without my mother to guide me.
Oh, my darling friend, while I am overjoyed for all your good fortune, I am sad for myself, because this means you really are never coming home. I am afraid we have lost you forever, and all I will ever have of our friendship are letters and photos…of your CHILDREN (that’s plural, little missy!)
I look forward to more news from your Hawaiian islands.
Until then, your forever Mabel
13 May 1924
My Dearest Amelia,
I trust you received my telegram. “Thank You” for sending me the information where I can contact you in Seattle, WASH.
I have so many questions! I am frantic with worry. Why must you leave Hawaii? Why are you not traveling with baby Gregson? You say he will stay with his father, but why? And, what is in Seattle? I did not even know where it was until I looked it up on a map! Lastly, why must I call you by your maiden name?
This letter will be posted to the address you gave me and will be there waiting for your arrival. Send word the INSTANT you read this. I will send money, whatever I have, or come to your aid. You know I will!
Until next we write or meet, your forever Mabel
P.S. – If you promise to behave yourself, I will introduce you to my darling Jared! I cannot wait to tell you all about him and share with you my happy news (very happy news!)
Inspired by OLWG prompt “Ghosts in the Field.” Scroll through my Home Page to get caught up with Parts I, II and III
Ulani’s discovery of ancestry she did not know she had began a short time before her grandmother’s death. During Ulani’s grandmother’s final days, Ulani returned to Hawaii and, with other members of the family and friends, took turns sitting with the old woman in the hospital. She was in and out of consciousness, and in some pain, but there was nothing more the doctors could do for her.
One afternoon, when Ulani was with her, the old woman abruptly sat up in her bed. Her eyes were wide open, urgently searching about the room. When they landed on Ulani, the old woman smiled.
“Tutu? You OK? You need the nurse?” Ulani asked.
Ulani’s grandmother held out her hand and Ulani took it in hers. “No, my girl. No. Please. Come sit next to me,” Her grandmother said, patting the bed. “I’m so glad it’s you,” the old woman continued. “I have something to tell you. Something secret.”
Ulani raised her eyebrows and giggled. “Oh, Tutu, please don’t worry. Everything will be OK. We’ll all be fine. You just rest, now.” she teased.
“This is important, and, well, you, I can trust. Now come here,” she indicated once again to the side of the bed and Ulani sat beside her as instructed.
“I meant to keep our family’s secret, if only for your father’s sake. Take it to the grave with me. But, just now, I remembered the letters.” Ulani’s grandmother paused, and took both Ulani’s hands in hers. “He can’t find them. Your father. I’ll tell you where they are, and I want you to promise me, before I’m gone, you’ll get them out of the house. What you decide to do with them is up to you, but I wouldn’t share anything you learn from them with your father.”
Ulani mind jumped to a what she thought an obvious conclusion. “Tutu…are you trying to tell me, that…are you trying to tell me the letters are love letters? Are you trying to tell me Papa Gregson wasn’t daddy’s father?!”
“No, good Lord, no, girl,” Ulani’s grandmother shook her head with great exaggeration. “Nothing like that, at all. Your grandfather was my whole world.”
Ulani was relieved to hear it. “So, what’s the big secret? Why can’t daddy know?”
“You know your father. A very proud Hawaiian. It was bad enough, where he’s concerned, you marrying a haole. At least Arturo is Filipino, I told him. Anyway, you’ll understand. You are the one who will understand. I trust you, my girl. But some things are not for everyone to ever know. Promise?”
Next part sometime this week…
This week’s OLWG Prompt inspired a little multi-part short story. Catch up with Part I.
“Bet it’s nothing like British Columbia,” Aaron said eventually.
“Nothing like it, for sure,” Ulani replied, putting emphasis on the last two words.
Aaron said, “I looked up pictures of Vancouver. Pretty.”
“Yeah, I think so. At least, the area. The Northwest. I love the Northwest. The city itself,” Ulani shrugged. “I liked Portland better.”
“You just haven’t given it enough time!” Aaron teased Ulani, wanting to be encouraging. “You think you guys will stay there?”
“For now. Until we can get my husband’s status ironed out. Hey, you know, I really appreciate this. You being so open and willing to show me around, and everything.” Ulani said, wanting to change the subject.
“Sure! It’s crazy to find out I have a distant cousin. Crazier to find out we got Hawaiian relatives!”
Ulani giggled. “Well, it’s been crazy to learn I have Irish roots, after all this time!”
“I tried explaining to my wife how we’re related,” Aaron continued, “but I think I got it wrong. Your great grandmother is my great grandmother’s…first cousin? Second?”
“No, you’ve got it right. They were first cousins. Their mothers were sisters. Very close. According to Tutu, uh, sorry, my grandmother, they grew up like sisters. Lived just a block apart.”
Until the day Aaron received Ulani’s letter, he had no idea his people were anything other than Midwesterners. As far as Aaron was aware, almost everyone in his family line were either from Kansas and Missouri, or from Texas. It was still strange to grasp that anyone from his family, however long ago, up and married someone from a completely different place in the world.
“Severy?” Aaron finally said. “Our great grandmothers grew up in Severy?
“Well, Severy is no Oahu. Or British Columbia. Or Oregon, for that matter.”
“I wouldn’t imagine so,” Ulani acknowledged. “But, the thing is, I’ve been thinking about this, you know, my family? My island ancestors? They also come from a long line of farmers.”
Part III, tomorrow. Maybe Wednesday. 😉