Monday, March 22, 2010

Magpie Tales #6

Write a poem or short using the below photo prompt from

This week's photo prompt was agonizingly hard for me. I had to really dredge the mindfield. I have had a drought of the mind lately, unable to read or write anything.  I know when this happens to just let it.  I keep saying soon, soon, I will return to my life....only to discover I am standing in it. 
Ha..the jokes on me!

I gave it my best....what's more important, I showed up.
 Thank you, Willow, for making it difficult.

The day after my high school reunion, feeling rather disappointed and deflated, I decided to 
drive by the old house I grew up in to see if it was still there.
Maybe it would be a better walk down memory lane.
The white frame bungalow sat abandonded and according to the neighbor out front it was in foreclosure.
I swung open the old gate and noticed that it was the very one that I used to swing on, I know because my inititals were still there covered in layers of white paint. My feet quickly remembered the spacing of the old steps up to the porch where I peered through the windows of my old house and was shocked to see that the entire place had been stripped to the studs. I tried the front door but it was locked so I left the porch and went out back to the garage.  Nostaglia filled me as I saw that the door, with the old leather flap over the lock, was still there. I lifted it expecting to see the old forged nail stuck through the levered handle, but there was nothing under the leather flap but a hole in the wooden door which I promptly pulled open. My eyes needed to make a sudden adjustment to the dark, but my nose was instantly familiar with the smell of old oil and varnish, and by instinct I walked inside expecting to see my father sitting at his cobbler's bench putting cleats on my shoes. How I hated those cleats. But,my father knew that he couldn't afford to get me new heels all the time, so he insisted on extending the wear of my shoes by adding those little pieces of embarrasment to my feet. At the back of the garage was a little closet that my father had hidden the train he had gotten me for Christmas one year, the Christmas I ruined for him by snooping around where I didn't belong.  I leaned my body into the door and it gave way as in my mind's eye I saw the train hidden behind the old suitcase where my father had also hidden a bottle of whiskey.  Nothing was there of course, but I stood and closed my eyes wishing that I might just hear his voice one more time.
 Five minutes passed and I left the closet and walked back passed the empty space where his workbench had been and headed for the way out. As I reached for the door my hand struck a piece of cardboard and a box of nails went spilling onto the floor. I dropped to my knees and began searching the dirt floor for the nails and as my fingers hit the grimey soil a memory struck me out of nowhere. A memory of my playing in this very dirt on late afternoon in summer, when my father burst into the gargage and headed straight back to the closet. I remember getting up,then hearing the faint sound of crying coming from that room. I wanted to run and hide, frightened by his crying and embarrassed for him if he should see his son hearing him cry.   My father then stepped out of the closet, holding in his hand what seemed to be a letter.    He stood there, it seemed then like an eternity, staring at me before I decided to head for the door knocking over a box of nails. I turned around and saw my father's tear soaked eyes and barely caught his voice saying, "My father is dead."
I knelt down in the dirt and began picking up the nails as my father leaned his body against the wall and sobbed. 
It was the first time that I saw who my father really was...and in that darkness with the smell of oil, from a long gone oil drum surrounding me, I saw for the first time who I really was.
I leaned my back against the wall and began to cry, then heard myself sob in the darkness,
"My father is dead."


  1. Suz, How difficult it must have been to dredge up these wonderful but painful memories. You, my dear, are an extremely talented writer. Continue to inspire those of us who do not have this gift.

  2. Wow!! This brought major tears to my eyes!!!

  3. dang...way to go and make me cry...

  4. oh suz, tell me you're going to publish your short stories in a book!!!!

    you move me so much with your always seems real and i find myself completely immersed in the story.

  5. The house the darkness the smell the objects. These are powerful reminders of past events. I've been writng a longish piece triggered by exactly these things. It has seemed so vivid to me - as is yours. Nice ending.

  6. Suz --

    A very Zen moment -- its works so well because it has the one ingredient necessary for a wonderfully written piece -- its universality, it can apply to anyone anywhere... certain moments trigger memories of our dear ones gone - but not forgotten.

    I am teary eyed now -- missing my loved ones.. You may have posted late but beautifully done.


  7. Very evocative, Suz, and a very neat ending. Funny how grief can be put on hold for ages, years even and then suddenly pours forth.

  8. Another example of your great story telling gift! Really good Suz. :-)

  9. Not much makes me shed a tear..this's so true, so real..thank you!!

  10. The sadness, coupled with the dank, oily dirt floor, struck a chord with me.

  11. I'm with Willow ... the oily dirt hit me hard and I found myself getting choked up! My father had a little workshop in our backyard and I could see it very clearly in my mind.

    Beautifully done! Few people can make me cry!

  12. Suz, sometimes when I hit that writers' block, I just start and am amazed at what comes forth. If that's what you did with this prompt, you wrote a winner. It's a fantastic heartfelt story.

  13. Oh I so love this. It made me cry and smile. Absolutely love it.

  14. You stepped up on that block and went for it! Way to go! Loved the way her feet remembered the spacing of the steps!

  15. I don't know what to say - I felt, heard, smelt, saw - fabulous use of words.

  16. Delicately written, Suz. It's always bittersweet to return to a place of childhood memories, and sometimes bitter when we do it as adults.

    This was most touching for me... With my own Dad now in a nursing home, we all watch your story unfold before it's written......

    A beautiful treatment to something nearly all of us experience.

  17. OK, are you ready for my 2nd try?

    Hmm hmmm.


    They hurt like hell

    when you step on one.

    I know, don't quit my day job;)

  18. Oh so poignant, heart tugging and tear inducing! Having lost my father ten months ago, I related to this very much. You are a very talented writer, the poignant scene, the nostalgic look at the past, it all reaches the reader. Thanks!

  19. I loved this! Made me cry too - so poignant. Wow - I wish I could write as well as you do when you apparently have writer's block!

  20. I like the way you lead the reader right up to the end before you allow us to see where we are....inside our own memories remembering what it feels like to loss one we love. Masterful!


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