Saturday, May 15, 2010

Magpie tale # 14

hosts a weekly writing prompt

using the below photo
write a vignette or poem

The skin on the turkey is golden and the brown sugar glaze on the sweet potatoes is bubbling filling the house with the distinct smell of Thanksgiving. The candles are lit and the Blue Willow dishes are set out on the table as they have been every holiday for 40 years. When the children were little they loved to tell guests the story on the plates,how the two lovers were changed into birds to be together forever. Forever. I used to believe in forever, but now I sit waiting for the doorbell to ring,still not knowing who is coming for dinner.
I called them and left messages on voicemail and sent them each a reminder card.
What I really wanted to do though is tell my side of the story, unzipping my long held silence regarding the infidelity of their father.
But, instead I collaged the prettiest cards with the most heartfelt thoughts on gratitude, inviting them to come to my new home, small as it is, for the Thanksgiving feast.
They are still angry about our divorce... so am I.  Forty five years is a lot of one's life to just walk away from;but I wasn't the one who broke up their family,he was.
That morning, one year ago, he came and sat down next to me as I was sipping my cup of coffee. He folded his hands in his lap and simply and coldly said, "I want a divorce." It was one week before Thanksgiving.
As I sit here peeling potatoes I remember what he said next.
"You'll be well taken care of." He actually had the nerve to say that. I asked if there was someone else, but of course they all say,"no". Cowards.
We had are usual Thanksgiving meal and the children barely noticed that anything was off. Instead they huddled around their father as he indulged them with stories of themselves as little children. What would he know about them as little children he was hardly around, always working. The stories he told were my stories.
Bitterness and tears were mine for the next three weeks, deciding in the end to make it easy and just let him go. Our children were grown and married with children of their own. They tried to talk to me about the divorce,but I refused to speak on the subject, barely able to hold my composure. How could I tell them the father they held up on a pedestal wasn't the man they thought he was...all his talk, all their lives about honor and family. So I just kept my mouth shut and suffered in silence letting them have the father they knew. He really was a good man, who happened to break my heart.
The little pop up on the turkey tells me it is done and all I have to do is mash the potoates and I am done. It is nearly 3pm,they should be arriving about now, we always ate at 3.
It is now 5pm and the turkey is cold. One by one I put the things away hoping that this will bring a ring at my door, but it doesn't. As I reach for the Blue Willow dishes I bite my lip so hard it bleeds and I feel the pain straight through to my aching heart. My finger runs along the rim of the dish then stray to the two birds flying together over the bridge. "Forever" I whisper to no one but myself and the tears that have set on the rims of my eyes fall onto the plate near the bridge near the pagoda where the young woman was fenced in by her father.
"You'd never do that Daddy, right?" my youngst daughter onced asked her father with a shaky certainty in her voice.
 I pour myself one last glass of wine before turning in for the night. I think of calling them and wishing them a happy Thanksgiving, but that would be a lie. What I really want to do is unload...tell them what I really have been through all year,but that would be like blaming them in a way. I made the choice to protect their father's pedestal. Devastation fills me and for the first time all year I realize that my family is fractured. I finally surrender, turn out the lights and lock the door.
The bedroom is cold as I enter it. I put on my PJ's and slip between the chilly sheets, turn out the lights and lay in bed thinking. The phone rings and my first impulse is to run to it like a heartsick teen. But I am a grown woman on her own and I let it ring. Tomorrow, I will pack up four boxes. They all deserve to have some Blue Willow in their lives, including him.   


  1. Wow, what a tear jerker that is. I'm sitting here with a lump in my throat

  2. Oh Suz you really do write so well, your stories always hold me and there is never a word wasted. I have never tried writing short stories but if I did, you and your stories would be my inspiration. x

  3. Good job breaking OUR hearts! And Suz, you gave her the ultimate strength in the last line: "...they all deserve to have some Blue Willow in their lives, including him." Great ending!!


  4. By the way, Suz, would you have any objections to my posting your heart photo with my comment? I'd also like to acknowledge your writing in a post as well if you wouldn't mind.

    No problem if you'd rather I not...


  5. The bastard. why is she so nice?
    A very human story and so often what happens.. sad old world!
    Very good story!


  6. suz, this tale was magnificent and so well written! this tale shared a story so real, so heart wrenching. i loved the detail, the story ending in an unexpected way. you have captured my heart, my dear!

  7. Rick are you kidding...of course..and I am humbled
    Hearts belong to everyone

    Nana ..sad, but it does happen that way don't?! Well you better if you can write a line like that arrow and the light in the can write woman..get busy..jump in..join us
    Ah are right..bastard...
    Sheri...oh I'm glad you liked it..mistakes and is a wonderful challenge to sit and see what stirs up and comes through the fingers!

  8. Love it-kinda hit close to home but ah so is life. Move on. The best thing for your creativity to surge seems to have been the magpietales. Great work! Oh wait, I'm having a giveaway. Make sure to visit again.

  9. Hi Elena! Oh I love these writing ditties....sort of like being in a group and getting a prompt and've got 10 minutes..write..don't put the pen down..keep writing..taps into the deep part of the brain that needs dusting! I still write everyday..but it's not the exciting thing like writing something I wasn't prepared for or agonized's JUMP!
    Some of it is dreary writing..mistakes all over and some bad writing..but the good thing is that I see it....
    Revision is my middle name!
    I do love these happy I found them...they are so much fun to read..everyone has a different take...wild
    I'll go over and visit you now

  10. I guess it's because I don't have children, but I never understand the desire to not speak the truth in order to protect someone who has hurt us. Guess I'm also not a "better" person...

    You can tell it's well-written when I'm arguing with one of the characters LOL!

  11. Bug! that thrills me...I can't believe it when my girlfriends and I sit and argue about a charcters motives and they are real people...usually the author has left nuggets for you to go back to and think about...Ahh..what is left unsaid...that's what I like...

  12. As a woman who has been through divorce after nearly 22 years, I so empathized with your Magpie! The only bright star in my story is that years later, my former husband has become one of my best friends.

    This was a great Magpie!

  13. Oh Helen....I am so happy for your outcome..maybe my lady will have the same thing...who knows...Oh Me....I made her up I can do what I want !

  14. Hi Audrey..thanks for stopping by..

  15. sad, honest, real, heart-felt, amazing...i was hooked the entire time. I like the fact that it did not end "Happily Ever After" and that the kids did not show up...because it was real life.

    I lie to my kids daily as I keep my mouth shut about the selfishness that is their father. It is for their sake...not my own. I totally understand this character.


  16. oh Suz, i'm just feeling so sorry for this woman and have to remind myself you are a skilled weaver of stories......very skilled. i had a friend similar to the one in your story. she was a brave *big girl* woman who i admired. it all turned out well for her eventually....very well.

  17. Janean, I like to tell stories in first person..intimate..
    I've been thinking of chapter two..the phone call's had a heart that evil or what?
    thanks for traveling with me on this magpie tale
    Lisa happy endings...I stopped writing them years ago...boring...glad you understood my lady..oh but there could be so much more to write...but I'll leave it to the reader to think on

  18. What a beautiful and heartbreaking story, Suz. You are majorly talented. When is your collection of short stories going to be published?

    Cory and I had a fun day-- thanks for asking. I splurged a bit on paper goods for collages, but managed stay within my budget. We had a fantastic lunch at a tea room and you were with us in spirit (that means we talked about you :o) only good things, of course)

  19. Suz, thanks for the very kind and supportive comment on my blog at Jaded Heart. You, m'dear, have no need of my muse. Yours is magical and helps you write powerful, powerful words.

    This post struck a chord inside of me. :)

  20. Wow, that literally gave me chills. You have a true gift, Suz!

    Keep it coming.. Your words take me away!

  21. oh i love this...of course i am going to have to wash my heart off after i pick it up off the floor...superb job!

  22. I was there, with her, I felt her pain, cried her tears,her loneliness was palpable.
    But I wasn't as nice...I broke a few of those precious dishes:)

  23. Oh my and the holidays are so hard on so many souls -- I am glad you made her up and it was not a true story -- for it was a sad tale indeed.

  24. I can see that getting involved in Magpie Tales is going to provide an excellent lesson in how to write well. Excellent piece that just kept me reading, what more can I say.

  25. Heartbreaking. And the packing of of the willow dishes at the end...oh, man. Excellent piece, Suz.

  26. A great write that most likely resonates with many single parents. Today is just not the same.

  27. I love this story. You made it sound so real. I love the dignity and integrity maintained in the end.

  28. Suz,
    What awesome writing! heartwrenching in every detail!

  29. My step-father did this exact thing to my Mom...only he didn't have the guts to say the words himself. He just never showed up that Thanksgiving and then there was a knock on the door, papers delivered. The end!

  30. Strong writing with tender words for Blue Willow and all the China stacked in boxes! Great Suz!

  31. Love this one, I don't know a divorced women with children who has not felt at least part of this. Thank goodness my children never turned their back on me. Then again, I always answered their questions, let them love their father, and told the truth when asked... I still have my grandmother's blue willow...


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