Lessons From Genny

I originally wrote this short story about 7 years ago.  It’s based on a real moment and real conversation that I overheard at church one Sunday morning.  A few weeks ago, I pulled it out to use in the beginning fiction workshop course that was part of my creative writing program at SNHU.  I went into it thinking that there are always areas of my writing that can use improvement.  However, I am not convinced the changes my instructor suggested (changes that I made in order to make the grade) are really an improvement.  But….

Here is the final draft of the story.  Hope you enjoy it.


Lessons From Genny

“I so appreciate you and Toby helping out this week, Connie,” Rebekah said, handing me a small stack of church bulletins.  “You can stand right here and just hand one to everyone who comes by.”

I followed to the place she indicated, about halfway between the front doors and the sanctuary.  My husband Toby was near the front doors, laughing with a couple of other men.  He didn’t notice my glare, not that he would have acknowledged it if he had.  He had addressed my less than cheerful attitude in the car, and I knew him well enough to know there would be no more mention of it that day.

“It’s been nearly six months,” he’d told me when I balked at his suggestion to “put on a happy face” for the day, no matter how I felt.  I just was not ready to do that, to stand in front of our church friends and pretend all was right with the world, not after what had happened.  “It is time to move past it and get on with your life.”

Five months, three days, 4 hours, and—I glanced at my watch—29 minutes.  But who was counting?

Me, that’s who.  I’d been counting ever since that day.  My life was clearly divided into before and after.  The before ended that day, and felt like a far off dream to me.  The after was a dark, lonely place; a place I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to be in but one that I didn’t know how to get out of.  It was a place that I was annoyed to be in alone.  Why wasn’t my husband in the same dark place I was?  Did he really not care?  The way he dismissed my continued feelings of emptiness sure made it seem as if he didn’t care about me or my pain.

“You OK?” Rebekah asked me, her hand resting on my arm.  “You just don’t seem yourself.”

“No, I am not OK!” I wanted to scream.  “I haven’t been OK in months.”  But I remembered my husband’s attitude that morning.  If he didn’t want to acknowledge what the day was, it was doubtful someone not emotionally invested in my child would be.  So I put on my best smile, hoping it did not look nearly as forced as it felt.  “I’m fine.  Just didn’t sleep well last night.”

She opened her mouth to say something, but was called away by an emergency in one of the Sunday school classrooms.  I watched as she walked away, grateful for the chance to be alone.  Rebekah was nice and all.  She was our pastor’s wife.  Talking to her had helped me more than even she knew.  Still, she tended to be overly optimistic about everything.  And this was one morning when I didn’t see much to be optimistic about.  I just wasn’t sure if I had the energy to keep up a conversation with her.

Obediently, I smiled as I greeted the worshipers that entered the church that morning.  I avoided asking, “How are you?” as I knew that would lead to my having to answer that same question.  The smile felt like enough of a lie.  Something about lying in church just didn’t sit right with me.  I didn’t want to tell anyone I felt fine when I felt anything but, and I had a feeling no one wanted to hear what I was really feeling.

I thought I was doing a good job of being pleasant and ignoring the pain eating away at my gut.  A good enough job, anyway.  And then I saw her.  Erin Andrews had walked into the building, rubbing her bulging belly.  My smile faded.  Anger and jealousy bubbled up inside me.  I thought of the tenth commandment, “Thou shalt not covet.”  Great, that just added guilt to the ugly feelings swirling around in me.

That commandment didn’t apply to a woman grieving the loss of her child, did it?

Erin and I had been friends for years.  When I married Toby, her older brother, we were excited to now be sisters.  Learning that we were expecting babies—the first for each of us—at the same time was almost too much.  We had plans of how we would raise our girls together.  They wouldn’t be just cousins, but the closest sisters ever.

And then disaster struck.  In the back of my mind, I knew when the cramping and spotting began what the inevitable end would be, but I denied it for as long as I could. The doctor confirmed the miscarriage but offered me little explanation. I sat in the hospital bed, staring at the stark, white sheets, devastated and bewildered, unable to understand how that tiny heart could be so strong one day and gone the next.  My baby, my dreams, and in a lot of ways, my friendship with Erin. They were all gone. Life went on around me.  Erin’s belly grew bigger every day, it seemed, a brutal reminder to me of her successful, thriving pregnancy and my utter failure as a mother.  Every time I saw my friend, I felt daggers in my heart.  Because she was family, I really couldn’t avoid her.  Hate was not something I was accustomed to feeling, but it was the closest word I could use to describe my new feelings building up inside, feelings that grew more painful, more intense each time I saw her.

I felt a tear sting my eye as I stared at her.  She turned in my direction and I quickly turned away.  Her due date was two weeks away.  I knew because hers was exactly 14 days after mine.  And today was my due date.  Today was the day my life should have been so very different.

I should have been at the hospital, in labor, waiting to become a mother.

The physical pain would have been a welcome relief, especially if it would replace this horrible, hollow emotional pain I’d been riding on since my baby’s heart had stopped beating.

“God, I don’t understand,” I whispered frantically.  “Where are You?  Why did You let this happen to me?”

I didn’t expect an answer.  For nearly six months, I’d been asking the same questions.  God had remained silent on the issue.  For whatever reason, He’d chosen to abandon me.  He was not just carrying me, like in that poem.  This was the darkest moment of my life, and God was just nowhere to be found, no matter how many times I cried out to Him.  I wanted to continue to love Him and to trust Him, but His silence made it so hard.  Maybe this was one of those things my grandmother had always warned me about, one of the many things that about God’s plans that I’d not be able to understand this side of Heaven.

The only thing worse than the tears was having to explain them to someone else.  When my own husband thought it was time to get on with my life, I couldn’t really expect anyone else to have even a small amount of sympathy for my sadness.  I reached for a tissue to dry my eyes.  As I did, my hand brushed against Rebekah’s.  I looked up, half expecting to find she was taking a tissue for me.  She didn’t even look at me, though.  My eyes followed her gaze and landed on Genny Fairbanks, one of the older members of the congregation.

Genny’s church attendance had been sporadic for the past few months.  Ernie, her husband of more than 50 years, had Alzheimer’s disease.  He had his good days and bad.  On the good days, she said she felt like they were teenagers, falling in love all over again.  On the bad ones, which came more and more often these days, he was too much for Genny to handle alone away from home.  Still, she resisted all attempts to put Ernie into a nursing home.  She’d promised to love and care for him in sickness and health.  So long as she was healthy enough to care for him at home, that is what she was going to do.

Ernie’s health had taken a turn for the worse recently.  It wasn’t just his memory that was a problem, though I could tell from the way she spoke of him that it broke Genny’s heart that Ernie didn’t recognize her most days.  His body had grown weak, to the point where he couldn’t handle daily tasks like bathing and dressing and even feeding himself.  It was just too much for Genny to handle alone, and she had reluctantly agreed with her children that it was time to place him in a home for the round-the-clock care he needed.  I could see in her eyes that morning the toll that decision was taking on her.  The depth of my own sadness was forgotten and I had this almost overwhelming desire to hug the older woman.  I watched as Rebekah handed Genny the tissue, then gently took her hand.   I stepped closer to hear what was being said.

“He’s not eating,” Genny said.  “Ernie doesn’t like being in a new place—he never did like change much—and he can’t do anything about it except refuse to do what he is asked.  He’s been refusing food and fighting his medications.”  She stopped and took a deep breath to steady herself.  Through everything, she had always been so strong.  She looked like she wanted to cry, yet seemed determined not to do it in front of anyone.  Finally, Genny said, “The doctors want to put him on a feeding tube.  I don’t know what to do.”

“Is that something Ernie would want?” Rebekah asked softly.

Genny shook her head.  “No.  We talked about it before, when his mind wasn’t so hazy.  Ernie didn’t want anything special done to keep him alive.  He said if a machine was doing everything for him, then he wasn’t living anyway.  He wanted to just go to Heaven with some dignity.”  She dabbed at her eyes with the tissue.  “I know I should honor his wishes.  I guess I am selfish.  I don’t want to let him go.”

Rebekah was quiet for a moment, giving Genny some time to compose herself.  And then she asked so very gently, “Genny, how would you like us to pray?”

Had I heard that right?  Had Rebekah really just asked how to pray?  It seemed to me that, as the wife or our pastor, prayer was something she know how to do.  If she was asking what Genny wanted her to pray for….  Well, that made no sense to me and, frankly, it sounded like a rather dumb question.  Really, how many was could a situation like this be prayed over?  I wanted to pull Rebekah away and let her know how insensitive that sounded.  “Her husband is sick,” I wanted to say.  “Of course she wants prayers for healing.”  Honestly, what other kind of prayer would she want?  What she wanted, I was sure in my heart, was her husband back.  What she needed was a miracle.

I didn’t know much about Alzheimer’s, other than it always got worse and not better.  But I knew God, too.  I knew that He could give Genny a miracle if He wanted.  Just because He had not given me the one I wanted for my child didn’t mean I stopped believing He could do it.  I wanted to tell Genny that I would pray for a healing miracle for her husband.  I took a step closer, intending to tell her just that.  But she started to speak, and her words caused me to freeze on the spot.

“Just pray that God’s will be done,” Genny said, her voice shaking with emotion.  “I don’t like what is happening.  I don’t understand it, but I know He is in control.  He will get me through this.”  I heard her say that she was angry, sad, and scared about what was going on, but she knew that her life—and Ernie’s life—belonged to God.  “We’ve had 50 good years here,” she told Rebekah.  “But I am not going to let my sadness over the end of that keep me from spending eternity worshiping God with Ernie.”

Her words hit me like a slap across the face.  I suddenly felt like the most selfish woman on Earth.  Six months after losing a baby that I never saw, that had only been a part of my life for a few brief weeks, I was holding tight to my anger and sadness.  After 50 years of marriage, Genny was holding tight to God as she watched the love of her life slip away. Which one of us had the best chance of enjoying life once the season of sadness had passed?

But maybe I didn’t deserve the chance to enjoy life and be happy.  God must have felt that I didn’t.  Otherwise, He wouldn’t have created such a big hole in my heart.

But was the hole in my heart any bigger than the one in Genny’s?  Why did she have such a peace about her, how could she be so accepting?

Probably because all of the sadness and despair were flooding my body.  There just wasn’t enough left for her.

I stumbled backward, expecting to bump into the wall.  Instead, I felt a pair of arms slide around my waist to steady me.  “You OK, Connie?” Toby asked me.

I smiled at my husband, an unsteady, unsure kind of a smile.  The concern in his eyes touched me in a way I hadn’t allowed anything to touch me in half a year.  Suddenly I felt sorry for the negative things I’d thought about him just that morning, and an unbelievable relief that I’d not let any of those thoughts come out of my mouth.  His comment about moving on was not intended to hurt me.  It was Toby’s way of telling me that I needed to give the pain and anger to God.  I squeezed his hand.  “I feel…”  I stumbled to find the right words and finally settled on, “I feel OK.”

“You feel OK?” Toby asked, sliding an arm around my waist and guiding me toward the sanctuary doors.

I nodded.  “Yeah, I think I am.”

He led me toward the row of seats in the back of the room, the seats I had picked to hide out in after the miscarriage.  The seat kept me in the room and allowed me to be technically a part of the service.  But it was far enough away from everything so that I could hide.  As we were about to sit, I saw Erin and her husband slide into a seat two rows in front of us.  I turned my eyes away, not liking the idea of spending the next two hours looking at the woman who had the life I so desperately wanted.

My eyes landed on Genny, sitting on the other side of the room.  It didn’t take long to notice there were two empty seats beside her.  “Why don’t we sit over there?” I suggested, motioning toward the older.

“With Genny?” Toby asked.  My husband was shocked.  Not that I could blame him.  I’d spent the last six months hiding, and now I was suggesting that we move to the front of the church.  It surprised me, too.

But I felt drawn to her.  There was something about the peace she had that I wanted to be near.

A piano began to play and the congregation stood for the first song of the morning.  I sang along, or at least tried to.  Genny’s words played over and over in my mind, making it hard to concentrate on anything.  “We had 50 good years here….”  Was the difference between the two of us?  Was that what made it easy—and if not exactly easy, at least possible—for Genny to let go?  The fact that she and Ernie had spent a lifetime together?

They’d made memories together, memories that would sustain Genny through the rest of her life.  They’d raised children.  They’d enjoyed grandchildren.  They had shared more together than I could even imagine.  Perhaps it was the ability to relive those memories at will that made this transition less difficult for Genny.

Only, I didn’t have any of the memories.  I’d not had any time with my child.  I’d never felt the baby kick.  I’d only once heard the heartbeat.  I’d never been able to count ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes, kiss pinch chubby cheeks, or blow raspberries on a freshly bathed belly.  In the game of life, Genny had hit a jackpot, while I’d been cheated out of anything.

And yet, I had this nagging feeling that I was cheating myself.  Memories or no, Genny could have wallowed in her own sadness and no one would have blamed her.  A six month—or even longer—pity-party would have been understandable for her.  No one understood my sadness, my continued pity-party.  As I watched Genny sway to the music as she softly sang to the Lord, I realized that I didn’t fully understand why I continued with the pity-party either.  Really, what was it accomplishing?

The bigger question, though, was how to put an end to it.  How could I find the understanding, the acceptance that Genny was living with?

When the singing ended, the pastor shared a few brief announcements.  One was about the need to volunteers in the nursery.  “Could you spend just one Sunday a month,” he asked, “cuddling the babies and playing with the toddlers?  If so, please see my wife Rebekah after the service.”

See Rebekah….  Now that thought wouldn’t leave my mind.  Was God telling me something?  Not that I really wanted to listen.  After all, I’d been asking for answer for half a year and He’d remained silent.  And yet the nagging feeling that I needed to talk to Rebekah would not go away.  Volunteer in the church nursery?  Could I really do that?  Could I handle holding someone else’s baby, loving on another child for just a few hours?

I wasn’t sure.  Still, at the end of service, I found myself standing in front of Rebekah, volunteering to do just that.

Perhaps I had been cheated out of making memories with my own child.  But there was nothing stopping me from making memories with the other children of the church.


Mary Elizabeth the Spotless Cow

My youngest son is just learning how to read.  He comes home from school every day with a new book that he is supposed to read to

My sons, Seth and Andru, enjoying Mary Elizabeth the Spotless Cow.

My sons, Seth and Andru, enjoying Mary Elizabeth the Spotless Cow.

Mom or Dad, or both of us.  Because he knows so many words on his own now, he doesn’t like to sit down and let me read to him anymore.  So when the opportunity came up to review Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow, I couldn’t resist. I told Seth that I needed to read the book for my job and asked if he would sit beside me while I read it.  So we snuggled close together to begin to read….

Mary Elizabeth is a cow on a new farm.  She is a little different from the other cows on the farm—Mary Elizabeth doesn’t have any spots.  This makes her unique.  It also makes her so much different from the other cows in her new home that she has trouble making friends.

Author Salvatore Barbera tells the story of differences and friendship in a fun way.  His illustrations are beautiful and fun.  Seth loved them as much as the story.  When we finished reading it, he couldn’t wait to read it again.

This book is one that will remain on our bookshelf to be read over and over.  And before too long, I have a feeling that Seth will be reading it to me.


Purchasing information: During the month of October, purchase Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow from the Sweetles website for only $12.00 (List price: $17.99). When you buy this book, 50% of net proceeds go to Phoenix Children’s Hospital Child Life Program. Visit http://www.sweetles.com/product/books/mary-elizabeth-the-spotless-cow-book/ for more information.

About the book:


Mary-Elizabeth-Spotless-Cow-coverMary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow Book

The story of “Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow” takes us on the journey she travels to figure out how to get the cows at a new farm to like and accept her.

While she hopes to find friendship at her new home, instead she learns what it means to be different from everyone else. (Spotless!) Mary Elizabeth uses clever ideas and a sense of humor to help her on her quest for friends at the new farm.

This inspiring tale shows how perseverance in spite of obstacles, using a sound thought process to arrive at solutions and the importance of having fun, using humor and enjoying playtime can build friendships.

When you buy this book, 50% of net proceeds go to Phoenix Children’s Hospital Child Life Program to make a difference in the lives of children with critical and life threatening illnesses.

Lucky Friday the 13th

The kids are back in school, which means Mom and Dad have plenty of time to read.  Right?

I’ve teamed up with some awesome authors to bring you the amazing Clean Authors Back to School event.  Most of our books are $0.99 or less TODAY ONLY.  All five of my novels are a part of this event.  You will also find books from some amazing authors you may not have heard of yet.  Check out the Clean Authors website for the full list of participating authors and descriptions of their books.  Be sure to share this with your friends.  They won’t want to miss, and there are plenty of eBooks to go around!



Andrew rolled his eyes.  “Leftovers,” he said with an air of disgust that only a preteen can muster, “are disgusting.”

His younger brother breathed an exaggerated sigh of agreement.  “Can’t we just order pizza?”

I squeezed my eyes shut, took a deep breath, and counted to ten.  All calming tricks I’d learned in my years of therapy.  None of which seemed to be working that night.  As much as I wanted my boys to get along and not fight with one another (after all, it had been less than ten minutes since I told them to stop fighting or I was going to make them sit side-by-side on the sofa, holding hands until they could be kind to each other,) I did not need for their one moment of solidarity in the week to come at my expense.  It had already bee a stressful day, dealing with a client who adhered to a very rigid deadline where work was concerned but was not nearly so rigid about the deadlines on payment.  On top of that, the boys’ father had called me that afternoon to apologize that his child support would be late.


He had the money to take his new wife and their daughter on a week long trip to Disneyland, but he couldn’t bother to send basic support for his two sons.

It wasn’t a new thing, and wasn’t a complete surprise.  Still wasn’t something I was happy about.  I’d done nearly $600 worth of work for a client that I wasn’t being paid for and how the $200 of child support that should have bought enough groceries to get us through the week until my paycheck from my steady teaching job came in wasn’t coming.  And the boys were moaning and complaining about having to eat leftovers.

Oh how I wanted to send them to their father that night!  Then he’d have little choice but to pay something for them. 

The thought of my ex’s face if I were to drop the boys on his doorstep and drive away did more to calm me than anything else.  I was finally able to smile.  I opened my eyes, smiled at the boys, and said, “We can have pizza, no problem.”  I reached into the open fridge and pulled out an aluminum foil covered plate.  “We made homemade pizza two nights ago, and there is plenty left for tonight’s dinner.”

My oldest son repeated the rolled eyes.  But he did step aside so I could pop the plate into the microwave.

“Well,” my youngest said, “it’s better than what they made us eat for lunch at school today.”

flash fiction, memories, monologging, Leave a comment


I am not a big fan of fruits.  As far as I can remember, I never have been.  It’s not a taste thing so much as a texture thing.  Most fruits feel odd and squishy in my mouth.  Makes me squirm just to think about it.  And then there are the seeds.  I cannot stand seeds.

I don’t know.  I am just not a fruit fan.

Once upon a time, though, I was a fan.  At least I was a fan of one particular fruit.  There is a picture—oh how I wish I had a copy of it that I could attach to this post and share with the world—of me sitting on the porch steps at Grandma’s farm, eating a slice of watermelon.  One of my older sisters is sitting beside me.  I couldn’t have been more than three or four in the picture, wearing my brown framed eyeglasses and my long chestnut colored hair in two curly ponytails, one on each side of my head.  Yeah, I was an adorable little thing.  From the smile on my face and the watermelon juice dripping down my chin and covering the front of my shirt, it sure looks like I am enjoying the watermelon.

So many times over the years, I have thought about that picture whenever anyone has offered me watermelon.  I don’t remember eating it.  I remember a lot of summer days spent at Grandma’s house.  I remember a lot of family picnics in that yard and eating a lot of sandwiches sitting on that front porch.  Good memories, all of them.

Well, most of them.  I’m sure there are some not-so-good memories in there somewhere. They are not what I choose to remember, though.  When I think about Grandma’s house, I choose to remember only the good times, only the fun.  There are enough other places in my life that I associate with negative thoughts and feelings.  I want to keep one place with only the good, happy memories.

Is that so wrong?

Memories that are like that picture of me eating watermelon.  A little grainy, and a lot a sweeter than they would be if they were experienced today.

memories, monologging, random thoughts, thoughts, watermelon Leave a comment


Groupons?  What in the world are groupons?

I know it can’t be what first comes to mind…a group of tampons.  I mean, really….  Who would care about those?

From what I understand, they are supposed to be group coupons.  Still, the name is so dumb.  It’s really stupid.

Sorry, dear readers, but this isn’t really going to be a short story.  It’s more of a rant about odd words and odd slogans and things that I find just plain, well, ODD.

I mean, really.  The word “groupon” doesn’t sound at all appealing.  Why would I want one?

And then there is the feminine hygiene product with the “Have a happy period” slogan.  Really?  What man came up with that?  I have to believe that was a man.  “Oh, I am having such a happy period,” said no woman…EVER.  (Perhaps they got the idea that this slogan wasn’t particularly popular, as I don’t recall seeing it recently.)

And have you seen the toilet tissue commercials with the little bears?  “Everyone has to go, why not enjoy the go?”  Sorry, but when I go, the tissue doesn’t have much to do with it.  That’s more for cleaning up.  For me to “enjoy the go” would require the kids actually understanding that a closed bathroom door means Mommy needs a bit of privacy.

Oh, and while I am on the subject, your flushable moist wipes might help with the cleaning, but that does not mean I want to go to Facebook and talk about my bum.

There is a pizza place around here that is geared toward kids.  They had a commercial that talked about making things “funner.”  Seriously?  Since when is that a word?  Kids sound unintelligent enough with all the text shorthand that is making its way into daily conversation.  Is it really necessary for companies to use incorrect grammar in TV ads?  Let’s work to make our nation smarter, people!

Oh, text shorthand…. I should not have even mentioned that!!!  That is my biggest pet peeve lately.  The only time I use anything other than “LOL” is when I am texting and in a BIG hurry.  Or if I am trying to be funny or sarcastic.  I never use it with my kids, and I don’t put up with them using it.  Seriously, kids need to learn how to spell.  They need to learn how to communicate in a mature fashion.  Yes, they need to be kids, but they also need to know when to show maturity (and sometimes they need to know when to show more maturity than their parents show, but that’s another story.)  When adults try to “communicate” with teens and tweens using text shorthand, it doesn’t help things.  You want America to be taken more seriously in the global marketplace?  Then you need to help turn out more serious Americans.

Just my two cents….

Sorry if you don’t like it.  I can’t give change.

flash fiction, monologging, random thoughts, Leave a comment

Why I Write…Again

I’ve talked about it before, and I will probably talk about it again.  Most every writer is asked the question.  And the answer, for many of us, changes as we grow and our writing evolves.  In this blog, I have covered more times than I can count at the moment the reasons that I write.  Recently, though, I found myself face-to-face with one of the reasons I started writing in the first place.  I immediately took a picture of it.

DSCF4843_thumb.jpg My husband and I took our sons on a vacation “Up North,” to Grand Traverse County, Michigan.  My mother’s family has roots in the area, and a cousin now owns property in the small village outside of Traverse City where my great-aunt raised her family.  We were able to stay there.  My oldest son, who is 12 now, helped me tour the property on a golf cart—he drove while I took pictures.  At one point as we drove along the dirt road, I just started to giggle.  The road that stretched in front of me reminded me of my favorite book, Anne of Green Gables.  All I could think as we bounced along that road was, “If this was a horse-drawn buggy, this would be just like what Anne Shirley saw on her first approach to Green Gables from the train station.”  It took me back to the first time I read that book and the reasons I started to write.

I began writing because of Anne’s wonder.  From the moment I first read that book, I was entranced with the way L.M. Montgomery captured Anne’s view of the world, her wondered at experiencing all new things.  Her Anne books are my biggest inspiration.  I can’t imagine that my writing is nearly as good as Ms. Montgomery’s work.  But my goal, especially when I am writing for young adults, is to create characters as memorable as Anne Shirley and Diana Barry, and to craft a love story as touching and enduring as that of Anne and Gilbert Blythe.

Though Anne’s stories take place on Prince Edward Island, Canada, and this photograph was taken in Grawn, Michigan, it reminds me of those feelings I had when I started to write stories.  I plan to enlarge this picture and have it framed to hang above my writing desk.    This is why I write.  Whenever I need extra inspiration, looking at this should help me to find it.

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Food Poisoning

She didn’t want to poison him, not really.  Not enough to kill him anyway.  But if she could make him just a little bit sick….

She heard about food poisoning on the news.  It happened quite often, actually, and almost always was seen as an accidental thing.  Something wasn’t cooked long enough or perhaps it had been left at the wrong temperature for too long.  Produce was contaminated.  It would be easy enough for him to get sick from something that he ate.  And no one would point the blame at her.

After all, she was the loving wife.  The one who had borne his children, who gave up her career to stay at home and raise them, who washed their laundry and picked up their toys and made sure their homework was done each evening.  She was the one who made sure his dinner was hot and on the table when he came home from work each evening, who baked fresh cookies or cakes or pies at least once a week to satisfy his sweet tooth, who washed the bedding in the scented soap he liked and made his bed each morning.  She did all that and more, and while she couldn’t say that she always did it cheerfully, she did do it without complaint.

And without recognition.

Not that she needed the recognition.  Not constantly, anyway.  An occasional, “Thank you,” or, “I appreciate all that you do for me and the kids,” would be nice.  It wasn’t necessary, though.  After all, it was her job as a wife and a mother to do those things, to look after the house and the children, to make his life easier.

What she would like, what would make her life easier, would be to have him come home from work and greet her with something other than criticism.  Her eyes worked well—she could see that the laundry was not all folded, that there were homework papers on the table, and that a few stray action figures were resting in the corner of the living room. It made her wonder if that was how his bosses treated him, if they ignored all of the goods things he did on a daily basis and only pointed out the negatives.

Not that she could do anything about his work situation.  But she might be able to do something about him.  If she could only figure out how to inflict food poisoning on him without getting herself or the children sick.

That wouldn’t arouse any suspicion at all, would it?

The Writing Question

Why do you write?

If you are a writer, you will be asked that question at least once in your life.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked it.  And it seems like every time I hear the question, the answer changes.  Oh, at the heart of it, the answer is the same—I write because I cannot NOT write.  Writing is as much a part of my daily life as breathing.  While the lack of writing may not bring the same physical problems that a lack of oxygen would bring, when I don’t write I do suffer a sort of emotional suffocation.

One reason I write, one that is playing heavy on my mind this morning, is because it’s a great escape from my life.  Writing allows me to explore how my life could have been had I made different choices.  Oh, I am not talking about the “little” choices, like what if I’d picked a different colored blouse or if I had picked something different for breakfast.  I mean the bigger choices in life, like what if I had sat in a different seat in my 10th grade history class or what if I had gone to my senior prom with a group of friends instead of with the date I had.  Those may not seem like big, life altering decisions to you, but to me they were.

The girl I sat next to in 10th grade history?  She is still my best friend today.

The boy I went to my senior prom with?  He and I have been married for 13 years.

If I’d made a different choice about either of those things, my life would be totally different today.

For the most, I am happy with my life.  I can’t say completely happy, because there are things in my life that I am not happy with.  Mostly, those things are health-related.  I wonder sometimes how things would be different if I had made different choices.

This morning, I’d like a little escape from my life.  My kids are off school this morning, and they are especially loud.  I don’t know exactly why.  Could be just because they are boys….

Today, I write because I need a break.  I need to get away from the loudness, the madness that comes from having four (yes, four–they had a friend stay over last night; could that be part of the reason for the loudness??) boys at home today.  Only I don’t know that I will get the quiet to be able to do that.  After all, it’s taken me nearly two hours just to write this simple post.

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Coffee & Cigarettes

“Your total is $12.92.”

Ginny tried to put some sort of feeling into the words, tried to make them sound as friendly as she hoped the smile on her face looked.  Truth was, she just wasn’t feeling it today.  She handed over the pack of Marlboros, watched her customer run his credit card through the machine, and looked with an odd longing as his sipped the steaming black liquid that he purchased every morning.  It looked like coffee and smelled like coffee, and since it was made from those same aromatic beans, Ginny supposed that it technically was coffee, though she knew it couldn’t hold a candle to the stuff she used to drink three or four cups of each day from the upscale shop in the lobby of the building where she used to work.

Oh what she wouldn’t give for one cup of the good stuff today.

It had been too long since she tasted it, but she still dreamed of the stuff.  She still dreamed of a lot of the things she once took for granted, the luxuries that had disappeared when the hospital downsized and her job as patient liaison had disappeared.  “We need to focus on patients,” she’d been told.  “Getting them in the doors, treated quickly, back out as fast as possible.”  What the public thought of the hospital didn’t matter anymore.  Neither did long-term relationships with the patients.  The fact that there were more complications from this “drive-thru” care didn’t really matter, either.  In fact, that was seen more as a plus.  Nothing could be conclusively blamed on the hospital.  It just looked like people were getting more sick, needing more hospital services, and bringing in more money to the hospital.

And leaving Ginny here, at the gas station, selling gas, coffee and cigarettes to the doctors, nurses, and hospital board members she used to work with each day.

She wondered if their attitudes would change when they were the ones neglected after a serious illness.  That thought almost made the smile on Ginny’s face real.