Elizabeth Melton Parsons

Writing~Art~Life


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First Meeting

Thursday was my 10th wedding anniversary. We’re going for lunch today at The Overlook restaurant on the river to celebrate. I thought I’d post a short story about our first meeting. I’d began this as a fiction story several years ago, but for this post, I removed the fiction elements. My point of view is of course my own. His point of view was dictated by him. Hope you enjoy it.

Ohio River-2

OverLook

First Meeting

 

“That’s just gross. Will you turn that thing off and talk to me?”

I laughed at Barb’s irritation. “You’re the one who suggested the cyber sex thing. I can’t just quit in the middle and leave the poor guy hanging.”

“Oh yes, you can.” Reaching over me, she grabbed the mouse and clicked off the IM box. “Now come on, get me some coffee.”

“Hey, why did you do that?” Swiveling the desk chair, I followed her to the kitchen and poured two mugs of steaming coffee.

Plopping down into one of my vintage, mismatched chairs, she sighed heavily. “Look, Liza, since your divorce you’ve been spending entirely too much time in those chat rooms. I’m worried about you. Charlie Hobson was asking about you the other day and I…”

“No.”

“But he’s interested and he’s a real live flesh and blood guy.”

“No. I told you before I don’t want you fixing me up. I’m not interested. Most of the men around here are just like my ex. They have the same mind set. Women should not have an opinion. They should always agree with the Lord and Master.”

“Now you’re just being stubborn. Charlie isn’t like that. Besides I never said to marry him. Just go out and have some fun. You can’t possibly get anything out of all that typing.” Rolling her head back and breathing faster, she spoke in a sexy voice and made typing motions with her hand. “UMMMMM…AHHHHH…Oh that feels so good. Oh yes…yes.

“Stop it, you look ridiculous.” I couldn’t keep from laughing at her antics.

“Well, it is ridiculous. You’re an attractive, passionate woman. Why waste time on that crap when you could be having real sex with a real man?”

We’d had this conversation before. “I’m not interested in having sex at this point in time and that cyber stuff just now was your idea. And, I happen to like the chat rooms. I can speak to guys who are interested in a vast variety of subject matter. I can flirt and be silly and not worry about what he’s expecting at the end of the evening.”

“But, Liza, they—are—not—real.” She dragged the words out slowly as though that would somehow cause them to imprint firmly onto my brain.

I gulped a large drink of coffee and took a deep breath. “They are real, Barb. I just haven’t met them in person and that’s fine for the most part, but…what would you say if I told you I was meeting one of them?”

“I’d say you’d lost what little sense I always thought you had.”

“Thanks.”

“Okay, sorry. Wait, you aren’t serious?” I avoided her eyes and turned to pour another cup of coffee.

Jumping up from the chair, she came over and spun me to face her. “You aren’t serious?”

“As a matter of fact, he’s flying in this weekend.”

“Have you lost your mind? You want to end up floating in the river?” I could feel her trembling and knew she was truly frightened for me.

“Settle down, Barb. It’s not like you think. I haven’t told you about it because it’s special and I wanted to keep it private until I was sure we’d meet.” We moved to the table and sat down.

“So tell me now. And don’t you dare leave anything out.”

“I met him online not long after my divorce, about a year ago. It was an instant attraction that started with the silly flirting stuff, but then we truly began to talk. I mean we really talked, Barb. About everything. We started to email every day and then we spoke on the phone. We’ve been talking once or twice a day ever since. He’s wonderful, Barb. Everything I always wanted, but thought wasn’t out there.”

“No wonder you’ve been looking so happy, but you know what they say about something that sounds too good to be true.” She reached over and took my hand, as though needing the contact to be sure I was listening.

“It’s not like that. He has his faults and I’m not blind to them. We’ve had our fights. As I said, we’ve talked about everything. Our conversations have gone on for as long as five hours at a time. When you aren’t there with the person and you’re holding a phone to your ear, you have to talk. I probably know him better than I know anyone in the world.”

She gave me a deadly serious look. “Listen you’ve never met the man. You can’t possibly know him. You only know what he’s told you or what he’s led you to believe. This is just nuts.”

“You don’t understand.” I snatched my hand away.

“Okay, I don’t understand, but I’m advising against this.”

“He’s coming, Barb. I can’t wait to see him, touch him.”

“What’s his name? Where’s he from?”

“Garland Parsons and he’s flying in from Miami.”

“That’s not a normal sounding name. It’s like the name Blain. He probably made it up. When will he be here?”

“I’m picking him up at the airport Saturday morning. And what’s wrong with the name Blain? I like it.”

Her brows rose. “How many men named Blain have you actually met or for that matter, how many Garlands?”

“None, but that doesn’t mean anything.” I sighed, exasperated by her reasoning.

Barb reached across the worn table and took hold of my hand again, refusing to let go when I tugged. “I really wish you wouldn’t do this. With so many guys right here, you could date a different one every Saturday night if you’d stop being so stubborn.”

“Save your breath, Barb. It’s a done deal.”

She stood and gave me a stern look. “What about Eric?”

“He’s excited to meet him. They’ve spoken on the phone several times and seem to really like each other.”

“Fine, if I can’t talk you out of this, I want to meet him. I’ll be here on Saturday. You and Mister Too Good To Be True had better be here. I have to get going.” Frown lines marred her brow as she gave me a worried look before grabbing her bag and leaving.

I’d known she wouldn’t understand. I didn’t understand it myself. After my divorce eighteen months ago, I was determined to avoid any kind of relationship with the opposite sex. At the time I hadn’t realized just how much I’d miss the interaction, the sexy sparring, or for that matter the sex. My marriage had not been happy and I’d completely lost interest in anything remotely related to the act. Now, although I wasn’t ready for a physical relationship, I missed it—a lot.

I’d thought the chat rooms would be a safe and anonymous way to ‘date’ without actually dating. I was right. The flirting turned out to be fun and I was surprised to find that I could still talk a pretty good game. Barb had been correct about the Internet flirting doing nothing physically for me, but on some emotional level it eased my frustration. And that meant I could avoid accepting a date with one of the men who’d come around as soon as the ink had dried on my divorce papers.

I’d always dreamed of meeting a man like Garland. He loved music of all kinds, played the violin, was romantic, and a gentleman. Most important, I appreciated the fact that he supported and encouraged me to just be me. A refreshing change after being married to a man who wanted to stick me in a cubbyhole and make me into a shadow of himself.

Before my marriage if anyone had told me I’d fall for an ex-surfer from Miami who loved racecars and sports, I’d have said they were crazy, not my type at all. Garland was different than what I ever thought I’d want, but I sensed this was right.

When I’d first met my ex, I’d thought he was the perfect man for me. Stable, solid, old fashioned and liked some of the same things I did. I never dreamed he’d also have the mindset of a Victorian Lord. Every thought, every action had to go through his approval process and most failed to pass. If it was my idea, it was wrong. He believed it should be his way or no way. I don’t think in ten years of marriage we ever had a conversation. He spoke…I listened. He was a very good person in many respects, but I eventually found it impossible to deal with that attitude. Garland was the complete opposite and regardless of Barb’s disapproval, Saturday could come none too soon.

***

Opening the window, I leaned on the ledge and took a deep breath. The scent of honeysuckle growing along the fence was heavenly. The evening had cooled somewhat and the welcoming breeze billowed the curtains, freshening the warm air in the bedroom. It was hot even for July. I’d have to call tomorrow and have someone come to repair the air conditioning.

I’d been shocked when Garland told me he slept in the buff. I’d never considered myself a prude, but even the thought of sleeping in the raw had a blush burning across my cheeks. But it was terribly warm. Oh why not—just this once? Slipping my nightgown off, I slid into the cool comfort of satin sheets.

The satin felt blissful against my bare flesh. I’d never known just how luxurious satin sheets could feel until I’d bought the first set. Such luxuries were something my ex would never have approved. Now addicted, I owned several sets in white. I even had a red set, which I’d never used. They seemed a little too sexy for sleeping alone.

When the phone rang, I snatched it off the bedside table, knowing who it would be. Garland’s soft voice came over the line turning my thoughts away from sexy sheets. Our nightly conversations were almost always the same. We’d catch up on each other’s day, then speak quietly until one or both of us fell asleep holding the phone.

“What are you wearing, Darlin’?”

“Nothing.” I answered in my best sexy, siren voice.

“Hum…My mind is racing with that vision.”

This kind of beginning would normally lead to some serious sexy flirting, but I was too nervous.

“Aren’t you nervous, Garland?”

“I’m excited and yes, nervous too. I guess I’m worried this is a dream and when we meet it will crash around us. I don’t want to disappoint you.”

“You could never disappoint me, but I understand what you mean. I’m worried about the same thing.”

“You, my lovely angel, have absolutely nothing to worry about.”

I smiled, he always made me feel beautiful. “I can’t believe we’ll be together in the morning. We’ve waited so long.”

“Too long.”

“I’ll let you go now, so you can catch a few hours sleep before your flight.”

“Goodnight, darling. I’ll see you tomorrow.” He laughed softly. “You have no idea how I’ve longed to say those words.”

I laughed too. “Oh, I believe I have an inkling. Good night. Try to sleep.” I forced myself to lay the phone on the cradle, knowing he’d not hang up until I did. Snuggling into the bed, I closed my eyes. I hoped sleep would come quickly and with it the morning—and Garland.

Squinting my eyes at the early morning sunlight coming in the window, I rolled over and checked the time. Seven o’clock, I just had time to shower and get to the airport before his flight came in at nine. I’d spent most of last evening deciding what to wear, but was still none too happy with my choice. I was nervous and getting more nervous by the minute. What if we hated each other on sight? What if there’s no chemistry? Oh, please let there be chemistry.

After checking to see that Eric was ready, I strapped on my sandals and took another look in the full-length mirror. The white eyelet blouse enhanced my light tan. The red skirt fell a good three inches above my knees and I wondered if I were being too obvious. So who cares if I’m being obvious? It’s a warm day and I want to look fresh and cool. Who am I kidding? I want to knock him out and have him wanting me so bad he couldn’t see straight. And then I want him to come back to my place and…. Giggling at the crudeness of my thoughts, I grabbed my purse and hurried Eric to the car.

***

Pacing the little waiting area, Garland tried to quell the nausea that had been with him since take off. Unlike most flights, his plane had landed a good fifteen minutes ahead of schedule and his nerves were getting the best of him.

He’d dated off and on since his divorce ten years ago, but nothing serious. Liza was different, special. She’d put off this meeting for so long, he’d begun to think it would never happen. Now that the time had come, he wanted everything to be perfect.

He felt as if he’d known her forever even though they’d never actually met. He’d told her almost his entire life story and she’d reciprocated. It was time to meet face to face. Fear gnawed at his stomach causing the nausea to return. Garland knew he wasn’t any woman’s dream man. He wasn’t a spring chicken, his hair was beginning to turn silver and his nose had been broken playing sports. Liza would probably take one look and run fast and far.

***

He doesn’t see me. I stopped and stared at the man pacing the small waiting area. I’d have known him anywhere, but he far exceeded my hopes. My breath stopped and I reminded myself to breathe. Drawing in a shaky breath I took the opportunity to study him.

His salt and pepper hair was more silver than dark. The straight Grecian nose had a tiny bump in the middle, indicating a past break. He’s taller than I expected, over six feet, fit and trim. The casual, khaki pants outlined the cutest rump I’d ever seen.

“Is that him, Mom?”

“I think it must be, sweetie.” I looked at Eric. I’d thought he’d be nervous too, but he just seemed happy and excited. Sometimes he seemed much older than his eight years.

***

Garland turned and saw the redhead and young boy watching him. He knew it was Liza. She’d described herself numerous times over the past months, but she’d never used the terms beautiful, sexy, or cute. Yet she was all of those and more. Petite, with large breasts pushing against the white blouse, they seemed to beg for his touch. Luscious red hair curled past her shoulders. She took his breath away.

***

He’s looking at me, his ruggedly sensual features devoid of emotion. Is he disappointed? The neatly trimmed, silver mustache spread over a wide smile. I stared, astonished at the change. The sexy Adonis transformed into little, boy cute and I urged my steps in his direction. When close enough to touch him, he spread his arms wide and I walked into them, savoring the warmth of his body against mine. Tiny prickles of excitement ran through my body. Quickly stepping back, I cursed the pale skin that I knew had turned as red as a ripe strawberry.

Garland was grateful Liza stepped back before the warmth and scent of her caused an uncomfortable and embarrassing situation, but oh how he wanted her back in his arms. Watching the flush spread across her chest and into her smooth cheeks made him wonder if she felt the same. He hoped so.

“Liza, you’re more beautiful than I ever imagined.”

Smiling widely, I looked into his cornflower, blue eyes and said hurriedly, “I feel the same. I mean…” I stopped before making a complete fool of myself.

“You aren’t disappointed?”

“Oh no!”

His low, sexy chuckle had my flush returning and I decided to take charge of the situation, as I was apt to do in times of extreme nervousness. “Umm…this is Eric.” I really needed to get a grip on my emotions.

He turned to Eric and held out his hand. They shook hands like two adults and then grinned at each other like long time friends.

“I thought we’d go get some breakfast before going to my place. The repairman is fixing the air conditioning. Maybe it will be back on by the time we get back. Do you need to get your luggage?”

“It’s right here.” He picked up a large travel bag by one of the chairs. “Lead the way.”

There were a lot of advantages to walking behind a beautiful woman and he blessed every one of them as he watched the gentle sway of her hips in front of him. Visions of her lying naked on a bed with that red hair spread out against a white pillowcase had his heart racing and his trousers growing tighter. He tried to muster some kind of control before he embarrassed himself. Not to mention how totally inappropriate his thoughts were with her young son right there beside her.

***

Breakfast had been a disaster. Neither he nor I appeared to have any appetite and the conversation had been stilted and polite. If Eric hadn’t been with us, there might not have been any conversation at all. The two of them chatted as if they’d known one another forever. Glad to return to the apartment, I hoped the tension would ease, but things had not gotten any better. Garland went to the spare bedroom to unpack while I brewed tea. Eric left with his dad and wouldn’t be back until Tuesday. Four days alone with the man of my dreams and I was acting like an idiot.

He came to stand behind me as I poured the fresh tea over ice filled glasses. His body brushed against mine and I could feel his hardness pressing against my bottom. The wonderfully erotic sensation caused me to push back against him.

Turning me to face him, his hand gently cupped my chin, forcing my head up. “Look at me, Liza.”

I looked into his eyes and instantly relaxed against him. This was Garland. Why was I acting like I’d just picked up a stranger off the street?

He smiled. “That’s better. We’ve been acting like strangers, Liza, and we’re not. I’ve been wanting to do something for a very, very long time.”

His lips came down on mine—hard, hot, demanding. It was nothing like the gentle, first kiss I’d thought we’d share. It caused light-headedness, an almost physical pain of wanting. But it was too soon. Things were moving too fast. I raised my hands and pushed against his chest. He immediately moved back.

His eyes were full of disappointment. “I’m sorry, Garland, I…”

“It’s okay, Sweetheart.” His voice was raspy with desire. Reaching behind me, he picked up the glass of iced tea and drained it in one gulp, then laughed. “Ah, I needed that, and maybe a cold shower.” He winked and I knew everything would be okay. He’d not rush me into anything I wasn’t ready for.

While he went to shower, I headed outside to check on the progress of getting some air on. My libido wasn’t the only thing getting hotter in this apartment.

***

 I twisted and rolled first one way and then the other. Groaning, I kicked the sheets away from my legs. I was being slowly roasted over an open pit or at least I felt as if I were. And it had nothing to do with the temperature. The air was working perfectly again and the bedroom was cool. No, it wasn’t hot air keeping me awake and burning alive. The thought of Garland sleeping just a few feet away in the tiny spare room was driving me crazy. I remembered he slept in the nude. Was he over there now with all that sexy, tanned skin glowing in the light of the full moon? What on earth was wrong with me? I’d wanted this man for so long. Had dreamed of lying here in his arms. Why was I torturing myself?

All I had to do was call out to him. But no, he was sleeping. After the long flight and a two-hour layover, he was surely worn out. Especially since we’d sat up past midnight. Once the air had been fixed we’d gone down to the little pizza and video shop in town. We’d settled on a large cheese pizza with mushrooms and then had a great time deciding what movie to rent. There wasn’t a huge selection and we both figured there’d been enough tension for one day, so we finally chose two comedies, Joe Dirt and There’s Something About Mary.

Garland’s laugh was infectious, and we laughed until our sides ached at the silliness portrayed on the screen. Barb had shown up about half way through the first movie and stayed till the end. When she was leaving, she leaned over and whispered, “Wow, what a hunk.” Then she gave me a big thumbs up, as I hustled her out the door.

After watching the other movie, we’d necked for about an hour like two teens in a parked car. If he’d ask me then to go to bed with him, I’d never have been able to resist, but he never let it get out of hand and when we went to bed, he kissed me gently and headed for the little room I’d told him he could use. So here I was, hot, frustrated and mad at myself for being such a cautious goose. I suppose it’s for the best. Sure, we’d been talking for a long time and I felt I knew him better than anyone on the face of the earth, but in reality, we’d only just met. I kept repeating the bit about it being for the best until I fell into a restless sleep, but I don’t think I believed a word of it.

***

Next morning dawned bright and clear and as hot as blue blazes. It was July, but that didn’t keep me from wishing for a snowstorm. Maybe if I rolled around in a foot of snow naked, I could get rid of the heat flooding every pore on my body. I was in heat, pure and simple. I’d always known female dogs came in heat, but I’d never known it could happen to a human. There was no two ways about it, either I’d have to give into my baser instincts or I’d have to exert a lot more will power and control the animal hunger fighting for dominance.

So did my animal hunger win out or did I exert my will power? I’ll leave that to your imagination. We married two years later so the story did, of course, have a happy ending.

Hubby and Bernie

Hubby and Bernie

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The Legend of Jack-O-Lantern ~ An Irish Folk tale

This is one of my favorite Irish folk tales. I know I must have posted it around somewhere before, but here it is for those who have never found it in the archives. Happy Halloween.

Jack-O-Lantern-public domain

Legend of Jack-O-Lantern

Jack was a lazy farmer and spent more time at the local pub drinking and betting than tending his crops. He was a prankster and all his mischief making did nothing to endear him to his friends and neighbors. Jack felt sure this was the devil’s doing and if Satan would stop putting so many temptations in his path, he could make a turn for the better.

Now Jack figured the devil was as fond of betting as he was and devised a plan to trap him. He’d met Satan at the pub on many a dark night and it was always the same, with the devil offering riches and fame in return for Jack’s soul. Jack of course refused such offers, not wanting riches and having no use for fame. He did, however, want to be less of a sorrowful burden to his family and stop all his evil shenanigans.

Although his wife argued vehemently against his scheme, Jack decided to proceed. He was confident the plan would succeed, not to mention, it allowed him to go to the pub every night with a legitimate excuse. He didn’t have long to wait. A few nights passed and Satan once again joined him at his table, buying him ale and making the usual offers in return for his soul.

“You truly want my soul, Devil?”

Satan laughed. “You know I’ll have you sooner or later, Jack. Why not take my offer and enjoy what’s left of your wretched life?”

“I’ll make a wager with you. There’s a tree on the south end of my land. It grows straight and tall with limbs only at the top. Now, many a man has tried to climb the tree, but none has made it to the top. Even with you being the devil and all, I don’t think you can do it. If you can climb to the top without slipping back down or falling, I’ll take your offer and you can have my soul.”

Satan loved a good bet, but he was slightly irritated that this miserable mortal doubted his ability to accomplish such a simple task. “I can climb your tree, Jack, never fear. Lead the way.”

The two left the pub and walked the short distance to the tree. Satan removed his hooded cape and shimmied up the tree without any problems at all. “I made it, Jack, and now you’re mine.” His laugh echoed hollowly from the top branches.

Jack hurriedly removed his hunting knife and carved a cross on the trunk, as high up as he could reach. “Think again, Devil. I’ve trapped you. You can’t come down unless I remove the cross.”

Satan howled in anger when realizing he’d been tricked. He was trapped in the blasted tree and would have to bargain with the man to gain his freedom. “What is it you want, Jack?”

“I’ll carve out the cross and set you free if you promise to never again set temptation before me.”

“Agreed! Let me down.”

Jack’s plan had worked. He could now go about his life without the danger of falling to temptation. Unfortunately he was never allowed to reap the benefits. The very next day, the same tree was felled in a storm and came crashing down on poor Jack, taking his life. Having been involved in more than a few evil misdeeds, Jack was denied entrance to Heaven. It would seem the devil would have his soul after all.

But Satan was still angry at having been tricked and would not allow him into Hell. Jack was doomed to walk the earth in the cold darkness for all eternity. He begged the devil to have pity and Satan relented by giving him a single glowing coal. Jack found a large turnip and carved out the middle and front. He placed the burning ember inside and used it to light his way.

Many have claimed to see the swaying of Jack’s lantern on dark nights and most especially on All Hollows Eve. Perhaps you will, too.

 


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Killer Wave – A Short Story

Below the image is a fictional story written by my husband.

Growing up in Miami, my husband was an avid surfer. If you’ve ever lived in south Florida you know that part of the country doesn’t get huge waves. So my husband traveled quite a bit to find bigger and better waves, but one thing he loved was surfing in Florida when there was a hurricane just off shore. This would of course generate much bigger waves. His story isn’t a scary one, but it has just enough of the spook factor to fit into my Halloween Spook Fest theme. Hope you enjoy it.

surfing

 

Killer Wave

Grabbing my board, I rushed out to the old Woody where the guys were impatiently waiting. I quickly loaded my board on top with the other three and climbed into the car. Joe was still blowing on the horn even as my backside hit the seat. I told him to lay off it before my dad came out and grounded me. One thing my dad hated was being awoken before sunrise on a Saturday morning.

Everyone was in high spirits, thinking about the great waves we’d catch. We raced off down the highway, heading for Breakers Point. We knew the waves would be good because of the storm over the Atlantic. Darrin told Joe to slow down, as he passed around the soda pop and biscuits he’d brought from home. Darrin was the oldest of the three of us at nineteen and was like an old mother hen at times. I had to agree though when he said we’d all like to live to surf another day.

We could see the waves were rolling in fast and high, as we parked the car and unloaded the boards. The sun was just beginning to rise and it looked like a giant red ball being pushed up out of the ocean by an unseen hand. In spite of the teasing from Lenny about the artist in me, I had to stop for a moment and take in the beauty of the scene. Red and orange streaks raced against the gray sky. Dark clouds edged in purple were boiling up in the distance.

The glassy green of the ocean and the white foamy peaks rushing onto shore were awesome. I couldn’t wait another minute to ride those babies home. I’d been surfing since I was a little kid and there was nothing like the sense of freedom or the rush of excitement from riding a wave.  As I was paddling out, I noticed Darrin and Joe had already caught their first waves and were riding them to shore. Lenny was sitting there watching so I paddled out to him and asked what he was waiting for.

“I’m waiting for the big one,” he stated calmly.

That was Lenny. He could wait in line at the movie house for hours and never get antsy. I thought he was wasting time and letting a lot of good waves pass by while waiting for that one perfect wave. I wanted the perfect wave too, but was willing to ride the others until it came around. I told Lenny I’d see him and paddled off to catch my first wave of the day. While it wasn’t the biggest or most perfect wave, it was still one great ride. I felt the familiar rush of excitement as I gained my balance and went rushing towards the shoreline. After catching several more waves I decided I’d relax and watch the others for a while. Lenny paddled up and the two of us sat there in silence just enjoying the beauty of the morning.

“So, what you waiting for now?” He asked me.

“Just relaxing for a minute.”

“Well you’d better watch out for those sharks.”

I jerked my head all around and saw nothing but the smooth glassy water. Lenny began to laugh. He pointed his finger at me for falling for that one and I was tempted to knock him off his board, but I was in too good a spirit not to appreciate the humor of it. He finally calmed and looked over at the waves building.

“If you’re not going for that one, Stevie, I am.”

I looked and then began to paddle as fast I could. This was going to be the ride of a lifetime from the looks of the huge wave. It continued to build and at first I thought I’d be able to handle it and make my way into the barrel, then I knew I was in trouble. I turned my board and caught the edge and suddenly I was going in. Water sucked at me and I felt like I was inside Mom’s washing machine during the spin cycle. Angry fists of water pummeled me from all sides like battering rams as I was tossed and tumbled by the churning water. I tried to relax and just wait for that moment when I’d be able to surface. I felt something thump into my head and everything went black.

When I came to, I was at the surface with my board still attached to my leg by the surf leash. I climbed on board and tried to get my bearings. I’d been pushed down quite a ways from the other guys and could see them all bunched together looking at the water. I waved my arms, yelling their names and trying to get their attention. They didn’t seem to hear me and I thought I was too far away. While I watched, Darrin and Lenny dove off their boards and went underwater. They came up again, looking all around before climbing back on their boards.

I lay down on my board and began to paddle my way closer. As I got near enough to hear them, I knew they were looking for me. I could hear them calling my name. I yelled and waved again, but still they didn’t hear. I didn’t understand why I could hear them and they couldn’t hear me. I paddled closer and could hear them clearly. Sitting up on my board, I yelled and yelled and still they didn’t react. I thought they were kidding around and began to get angry. I was just too tired to paddle any closer and knew I was close enough for them to see me. Suddenly Darrin grabbed at something in the water.  He cursed and Lenny began to bawl like a little girl. I knew then that they weren’t kidding.

“Hey, guys, it’s okay, I’m right here.”

They didn’t hear me and then I saw what Darrin was holding. It was my board. I thought that couldn’t be possible, I’m sitting on my board. Wait, something was very wrong. Am I dead? No, I’m right here. Oh, God, help me.

 

Story: ÓCopyright Garland Parsons

Photograph from: http://pdphoto.org/PictureDetail.php?mat=pdef&pg=6140

 


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Celia – Ghost Story

Halloween is fast approaching, so it’s time for a spook fest in honor of the season. I’ve always loved Halloween. Because of my dad’s religious beliefs we were not allowed to participate when I was a child. Although some cousins did dress me up and take me trick or treating once. It was great fun. So if you have beliefs against the spooky season, I’m sorry. All my posts until after Halloween will have some spooky aspect. The first will be an old story of mine (mainly because I’m busy or maybe just too lazy to find something else). This story is hiding behind the walls here somewhere, so you may have already read it. If not, I hope you enjoy this re-posting.

Celia

Celia

It was a long haul between Leavenworth and Casey. Tom knew if he didn’t fill up in Organ Springs he’d never get the cargo to Casey without running out of fuel. He’d been a trucker for over twenty years, but had never driven this particular route and wasn’t any too happy about doing it now. The narrow road wound itself like a snake through the mountain passes and the passing rain left just enough fog and mist behind to make seeing the dark road difficult. Tom couldn’t see the steep cliff to his right, but knew it was there and it made him nervous.

Turning the radio on, he settled for a station playing an old favorite about lost love. Listening to the old familiar tune, he could feel his anxiety slip away. He’d be in Organ Springs in less than twenty minutes and was looking forward to some hot coffee and a brief rest. Looking through the slapping wipers, he could just make out the Organ Springs road sign up a head at the crossroad. He geared the big truck down, preparing to stop.

Just as he was getting ready to turn right onto the road leading into town, he caught a glimpse of something white in the middle of the road to the left. He looked again, but didn’t see anything. Oh, boy, I’ve been on the road too long tonight. Now I’m seeing things that aren’t there.

Continuing on his way, he quickly put the incident from his mind. All he could think about was getting that much needed coffee to clear his head for the next leg of the trip. Hopefully, the mist would clear and he’d have smooth sailing the rest of the way. Tom had always been proud of getting his cargo where it was supposed to be and getting it there on time, but he never took unnecessary chances.  In his twenty plus years on the road, he’d never had an accident. A fact for which his company was grateful. Cora, Tom’s wife, felt they should have shown their gratitude in a more tangible way such as a raise in salary.

Tom smiled, as he thought of his wife of twenty years. An outspoken woman, Cora loved him with a fierceness he’d never thought possible before meeting her. And he loved her the same if not more. Cora had finally succeeded in convincing him to retire from the company in five years with a nice pension. Then they’d finally be able to move to the little house on the cost of Maine they’d bought years ago. Cora could paint all day and Tom could fish, something he never seemed to have time for now.

When his twenty-year retirement date came up, Cora had tried to convince him to take it. He thought they should wait another ten years, so there would be more money. Cora argued they’d spent too many years apart as it was. So they had compromised on the twenty-five year retirement.

Lost in thought, Tom never the less was paying attention to his surroundings and when the white thing appeared in the middle of the road, he was able to stop in time. Looking closer, Tom saw a lady in a long white dress. Jumping down from the cab, he hurried to her.

“Geesh, Miss. I could have run right over you. What are you doing out here in the middle of the road? Did you have an accident or something?”

“No, sir. I’d appreciate a ride into town. I was out walking and got caught in the rain.”

“I’ll be happy to oblige, I’m Thomas Withers. Call me Tom.”

“Thank you, Tom. I was afraid no one would come along and I’d have to walk all the way back, I’m Celia.”

Tom helped her into the cab and then climbed in himself. He looked over and realized she was shivering from wet and cold. Turning the heat on high, he reached behind the seat and pulled out a warm blanket to drape over her.

“Why, you poor little thing, you’re wet and freezing. Were you at a party? That’s a mighty pretty dress to be out walking in.”

“It’s my wedding dress. Do you like it?”

Tom was taken aback by this comment. Looking at the woman more closely, he saw a pale oval face and large dark eyes surrounded by purple smudges. She had an air of sadness about her that wrung his heart and he wondered if she’d gotten cold feet and run off from the wedding.

“It’s a beautiful dress, Hon. Are you getting warm now?”

“Yes, it’s nice and toasty under this blanket.”

“I’d better get you back to town then.” Tom put the big truck in gear and headed towards Organ Springs.

On their way to town, Tom tried to make polite conversation, hoping to get more of her story out of her, but she didn’t seem inclined to talk. She began to hum the tune to the same old love song he’d been listening to earlier and he softly sang the words. She turned her huge eyes his way and smiled, then continued to hum as he sang.

Right at the edge of Organ Springs sat a huge, old Queen Ann style house that had seen much better days. It was here, Celia asked Tom to let her out. Tom stopped the truck and eyed the old place dubiously. It was dark and there wasn’t a sign of a light inside the old place. The weeds growing in the yard were knee high and he couldn’t imagine anyone living there.

“Are you sure you want out here, Hon? I could take you on into town.”

“Oh, no. I live here. This is my home. Isn’t it just beautiful? Charles said we’d have lots of children to fill it up.”

Tom was worried about dropping the lady at this dilapidated old house. “So then, there’s someone waiting inside for you?”

“Of course, Charles is there waiting. He’s been waiting for such a long time. He’ll be so happy to see me.”

Tom glanced back at the old house, as he helped Celia from the cab of the truck. A small light came on in one of the front windows, easing his mind.

“There, you see? Charles has put the light in the window for me. He does that every night.” Happiness lit her eyes and her face seemed to glow as she said the words.

“Well, Celia, I’ll bid you goodnight then and I hope your wish of filling the house with children comes true.”

The glow left her face and she smiled sadly up at him before making her way through the weeds to the front door. Tom climbed back into his truck and drove to the truck stop on the other side of town. He was surprised that he was the only trucker around the place. He didn’t see how they could stay in business with so few customers. While the attendant filled his truck, he went inside to order coffee and a bite to eat.

He sat at the counter and an elderly man in a white apron came to take his order, shouting it to the cook in back as he filled Tom’s cup with hot coffee. Tom sighed, as he sipped the fragrant brew. “This is what I’ve been needing. Thank you.”

“Come from Clancy, did ya?” The man asked him.

“No, over the pass, I’m heading to Casey.”

The man’s eyes grew round in surprise. “Well, I’m mighty glad you made it safely. Guess you don’t know, but most truckers won’t come over the pass, they circle around through Clancy and take southbound 180 to Casey.”

“Yeah, I saw that route on the map, but that’s a good forty miles out of the way.”

“Most feel the forty miles are worth it. You didn’t see the ghost, then?”

Tom grinned. “What ghost might that be?” He’d heard these stories before in many small towns all over the country.

“The ghost of Celia Matheson.”

Tom choked on his coffee, coughing and sputtering. Once he’d got his breath back, he looked into the face of the old man and saw the knowing look in his eyes.

“You did see her then?”

Tom nodded, thinking the old man was pulling his leg, but wanting to hear more anyway. “Tell me about her.”

“Celia and Charles Matheson were childhood sweethearts. I went to school with both of them and they were in love from first grade on. Charles was going to law school when he and Celia decided to get married. A few months before the wedding they bought the old Queen Ann on the other side of town, course it was a beautiful place then. Celia loved that house.”

“What happened with him and Celia? They did get married, I guess.”

“Yes, sir, they did. Got married at the little church over on Walnut Street. They left for their honeymoon, but a big truck ran the stop sign over at the crossroad and rammed right into them. There wasn’t much left of the car and Celia didn’t make it.”

“That’s terrible. What about Charles?”

“He lived, still alive in fact. He’s lived in that big old house all alone for the past fifty years.”

“The house is in pretty bad shape. Hard to believe anyone lives there.”

“Yep. Charles is one of the good guys. He’s helped a lot of folks out with free legal advice over the years and has defended more than a few of his neighbors in court, never asking for a dime. So when his health began to fail, folks would get together and mow the lawn, do a few repairs. Charles thought it was charity and got so upset, everyone figured it was best to leave him be. He never did remarry and puts a light in the front window of that house every night, saying it’s for Celia to find her way to him when the time is right.”

Shivers crept along Tom’s spine. He didn’t believe in ghosts, but this was getting pretty spooky. “Right time for what?”

“For the two of them to be together again. They say Celia haunts the old crossroads. Before word got around, there was many a trucker come to town and swore they’d run over some lady in a white dress and then she’d just disappeared. Some said they stopped in time to miss her and actually spoke to her and offered her a lift, but she always said the same thing. ‘It’s not the right time’. So what’s your story, Mr.? Did ya run over her or offer her a lift?”

“I not only offered her a lift, but brought her to the old Queen Ann house and dropped her off. Now why don’t you tell me the real story behind all this nonsense. Is this some kind of way to draw in the tourists?”

“You say ya dropped her at the old house?”

“Yes, I did.”

The old man behind the counter rushed to the phone and dialed a number. “Hello, Sarah, let me talk to the sheriff.” He waited a moment and then spoke into the phone again. “Yeah, Pete, it’s me Hank. You better get a car over to the Matheson house. I think Charles might be ailing. Yeah, okay, let me know what happens, will ya? Thanks.” He hung up the phone and walked back to counter.

Tom finished his meal. He’d had enough of this silliness for one night and needed to get back on the road.

“Thanks for the meal, Hank, and for the entertainment.”

He left the truck stop and headed his big rig out of town towards Casey. He couldn’t get Hank’s story out of his mind and he kept seeing Celia’s lovely, pale face full of sadness.  “Darn it,” he whispered. He just had to see for himself what was going on at the old house.

Turning the truck around, he headed back to Organ Springs and drove to the old Queen Ann. There was an ambulance and a police car parked in front. As he watched, they wheeled a gurney out of the house, a body covered with a white sheet on top of it. An ache settled into his mid-section and Tom wondered if it were possible he’d actually had an encounter with the ghost of Celia Matheson. He climbed down from his truck and wandered over to a small group gathered in front of the house.

“What’s happening?” He asked one woman.

“Poor old Mr. Matheson passed away tonight. It’s a shame. He was a nice old man.”

Tom returned to his truck and began to turn it around to head back out of town, many questions running through his mind. As he started to pull away from the old house, a flash of something white caught his eye in the side mirror. Turning quickly, he saw Celia Matheson and a handsome young man in a dark suit walking hand in hand down the road.

As he stared open mouthed, Celia turned and looked at him. She smiled brightly before turning and continuing down the road, snuggled close against the side of the young man. As Tom watched, the two of them disappeared into the mist. Only there was no mist. It had cleared while he was having coffee. Tom shook his head and rubbed his eyes. Either he was going crazy or he’d actually just seen Celia and Charles Matheson’s ghosts.

Tom was quiet and thoughtful for the rest of the trip. After dropping his cargo, he found a phone and called Cora.

“Hello, Sweetheart, I’ll be home tomorrow. And, Cora, I’ve decided to take the twenty-year retirement. This is my last trip. Ah… Honey, don’t cry. Yes, I know. I’ll tell you all about it when I get home. I love you too. Bye, Darlin’.”

Tom walked back to his truck with a smile on his face. Ghost or not, Celia Matheson had shown him that spending time with his Cora was more important than a few extra dollars in retirement benefits.

Copyright Elizabeth Melton Parsons

This link was left in the comments by my lovely Aussie mate, Deb Stevens. It’s for another spooky ghost tale: http://www.unexplainedaustralia.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.101

Check out Deb’s blog, She’s awesome. http://deliberatelydebbie.wordpress.com/


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Mom’s Day – Painting and Story

Mom-Acrylic on Wood

Mom-Acrylic on Wood

Dad was an avid gardener and roses were his specialty. Every spring he’d order new exotic specimens, put them in the ground and tend them like new-born babies. So it’s pretty clear where I got my love of gardening and my love of roses. Mom was a totally different creature when it came to gardening. She loved pink roses, but to my knowledge, never grew a single rose plant.

Mom’s old fashion perennials, sweet peas, wild flowers, weeds and grasses all grew together in wild abandon–like an over grown meadow in full bloom. This penchant for wild gardens showed me a side of Mom not easily discernable. A long buried yearning to be as free as the wild things she grew–a longing to throw off the restrictions of society and just be herself.

I was a pretty wild tomboy growing up and often wondered how Mom managed to put up with me. A lady who never left the house without changing her dress and putting on lipstick–who tried desperately to teach me to be a lady. A woman who never smoked, drank or uttered a curse word and yet, the two of us were close–having a special bond. Although she tried valiantly to teach me proper behavior, I believe she took great pleasure in the fact that I was more like her free flowing wild garden than Dad’s well tended specimens.

When you pull into my drive and step up to the side door leading into my kitchen, there’s a Bleeding Heart bush growing along the foundation, just as there always was at Mom’s. In that same bed you will find hostas, wild daisies I dug up from along a country lane, strawberries, and numerous other plants, both wild and cultivated varieties–all growing in a disorganized, yet somehow, beautiful mess. If Mom were still here, she’d look at that flower garden and say, “That’s my girl.”

Happy Mother’s day to all the mother’s out there and may your gardens and your lives bloom with beautiful abundance.

 

 

 


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Katie Blue Eyes 3

Supper was over and I’d settled several residents in the lounge to smoke and converse together, while others were in their rooms watching TV or reading. The scent of their cigarettes drifted to the desk where I was finishing some paperwork and caused my craving for a smoke to increase. I tried to put it out of my mind. I’d been cutting back in an effort to quit, but knew I was failing miserably. With Pat answering lights for me and by working through first break, I’d managed to finish most of the showers. Now I kept an eye on the hallway and as soon as I saw her returning from supper break, I jumped up and hurried her way.

She laughed as we passed each other. “Hungry, are you?”

“Oh, yeah. Starving.” She laughed again, knowing full well how badly I was wanting a smoke.

 I squeezed my way into the tiny staff lounge and found a vacant seat. Lighting my cigarette, I took a deep draw, sighing in satisfaction and wishing for the hundredth time that I had even a shred of will power. Several people were just finishing and rose to leave the room, making jokes about aching feet and breaking backs. With their exit, the room seemed to expand and become more comfortable.

“Hey, Gail, are you in here?” Peggy’s sleek dark head appeared around the corner of the door.

“I’m here, come on in and talk to me.” Peggy was one of my dearest friends and I knew she’d waited to take supper until she was sure I’d be here. I stubbed out my cigarette in the ashtray and rose to take our sandwiches and drinks from the fridge. Sliding hers across the table, I sat facing her.

“Did you hear about Joe?”

I shook my head, not wanting to talk around a mouth full of sandwich. Joe was one of the few male aides in the facility. He’d moved here from another state and had taken his classes and licensing exam the same time I had. Joe was in his forties, thin and shorter than most of the female aides. He always managed to get his work done on time and most of the residents liked him.

“He was fired.”

I took a swig from my bottle of tea. “Fired? Whatever for?”

She leaned closer and lowered her voice, although there was no need. We were the only two left in the lounge at that point. “Abuse. One of the nurses walked in on him. He was up on the bed straddling Mr. Davis and punching him in the face.”

“What! Is Jeb all right?” I knew my face had gone red, could feel the heat rushing into it. Anger swept over me. I couldn’t believe anyone could be so vicious, as to assault a helpless old man. Jebediah Davis suffered from senility and was bedfast. Although a few of the residents could be violent and abusive to staff, he wasn’t one of them. He had a sweet demeanor and was always cooperative.

“He’s fine physically, only one small bruise on his chin. But imagine what the poor old guy was thinking, being attacked that way.”

“Incredible. I would never have thought Joe capable of such a thing.”

“They say he just flipped out.”

“Was he arrested?”

“Yes, and charged with assault, but he’ll probably get off on some kind of mental breakdown excuse and be ordered to take counseling.”

“That’s one rotten egg out of here, but I fear there may be others.”

Her brows rose into peaks, but she remained silent, waiting for me to say more. I told her about Katie.

“Are you sure it wasn’t Joe she’s afraid of?”

“No, not a hundred percent sure, but from the different things she’s said, I think it’s a woman.”

“See, this is what comes from always having a shortage of staff and aides having to do shifts alone. When there are two, the job isn’t just easier, but there’s less chance of abuse because someone’s there to see. And some people just aren’t cut out for this type of work. You have to be both physically and mentally strong. Remember a while back when Gary was punching you in the hallway that day and the reporter guy saw it? He asked if you received combat pay and when you laughed and said no, he said you should. You never lost your cool with Gary.”

“That had more to do with compassion than mental strength. If I was eighty or ninety and my family stuck me in a nursing facility so they could sell my home and everything else I owned, I’d want to punch someone too.”

“Oh, poo. He was a bully way before that ever happened. He was terribly abusive to his wife before she passed away. He’s as right in his mind as you or I and he’s physically strong. He’s just a bully, pure and simple. Always was and always will be. But you’re right about the compassion. Without that…Well, you know.”

“Yeah, I know and I also know that I need to get off my duff and back to work. I still have Katie to shower and a couple of others before bedtime. I still can’t believe Joe did that. There’s no excuse for it. I just wish we’d have more in-depth in-service meetings on recognizing and handling burnout and other emotional stress on the job.”

“So do I, but we’d most likely still have incidences like this one. All the training in the world won’t help if the person doesn’t seek help when they need it.”

“ You’re right.” I rose and went to the door. “Talk to you later. I’m alone tonight, so can’t take a full supper break.”

“When things are caught up over on my wing, I’ll come and help you. Save Katie’s shower for last and we’ll give it together. Maybe with both of us there, she’ll feel safe enough to tell us what’s going on.”

“Okay, see you later.”

***

To Be continued……©Elizabeth Melton Parsons  http://elizabethmeltonparsons.com

 

 

 


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Katie Blue Eyes 2

 

 

After getting Katie down for a nap, I went back to the nurse’s station. Janice was just finishing her paperwork. “Why was Katie still up?”

 

Janice raised her head, a blank look on her face, as she tried to switch her thoughts from what she’d been writing to my question. “I don’t know. She wouldn’t let anyone touch her. She wanted her ‘Bubble Girl’. Why does she call you that anyway?”

 

“Because I chew bubble gum and I blew a bubble one day and she saw it.”

 

Her face wrinkled in distaste. “That’s a disgusting habit. You shouldn’t be chewing gum on shift.”

 

“Ill mannered perhaps, but not disgusting and there are no rules against it. Who was on day shift?”

 

“Barb and Kevin here on the west wing, why?”

 

“Just curious.” I’d had my suspicions about Barb for a while now and the fact that Katie didn’t want the woman near her only strengthened them, but why hadn’t she let Kevin put her to bed?

 

“Here comes Pat. I’m out of here. Have fun.” Janice hurriedly draped her sweater over her shoulders, grabbed her purse and was halfway to the time clock before Pat had even reached the desk.

 

“Where’s she going in such a hurry? Got a hot date or something?” Pat turned and watched, as Janice rushed down the hall.

 

I laughed and shook my head. “Just happy her shift is over. Katie’s been difficult today.”

 

“Katie’s always difficult unless you’re here. But I don’t blame her for that. You treat her like a queen.”

 

“I don’t treat her like a queen. I treat her like a human being and that’s no different than I treat anyone else.”

 

“Not true. You broke the fundamental rule of elder care. You bonded—got too close and not only to Katie, but others like Ben.”

 

“Ben’s a doll. I can’t help it if I like him.”

 

“He’s a crotchety old man and has half the aides scared witless. Do you know some won’t even go in his room?”

 

“It’s all bluff. He’s the sweetest man ever. They need to tease back with him and when they see that silly little grin sweep across his face, they’ll know they’ve won him over.”

 

Pat laughed and went behind the desk, pulling the day reports out and looking them over. “I know that and you know that, but they don’t and I have to admit, I get a kick out of seeing how intimidated they are.”

 

“Meanie.”

 

She grinned and handed me a paper. “Here’s a list of the showers that weren’t done on day.”

 

My heart sank, as I saw the long list. “Goodness, did day shift do any showers?”

 

“Only two and don’t ask me why. I wasn’t here. And something else, you’re on your own tonight. Sally called in.”

 

“What a surprise. I’d better get moving if I’m going to give twenty showers before supper.”

 

“I’ll help, as soon as I finish meds. We can save some to do right before bed time.”

 

“Thanks, Pat.” Sighing heavily, I hurried down the hall in answer to the blinking light over Mr. and Mrs. Paulson’s door. The couple was self-reliant, so I hoped whatever they wanted could be quickly dealt with. It was going to be a long night and I needed to find time to question Katie about Barb in such a way that she wouldn’t know I was fishing for information.

 

To be continued….

©Elizabeth Melton Parsons

http://elizabethmeltonparsons.com  

 


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A Father’s Gift of Love

A Father’s Gift

 

Straightening, I stretched my back and wiped the sweat from my brow. The seemingly endless rows of corn offered shade, but blocked any breeze that might offer relief from the sweltering mid summer heat. I longed for the shaded coolness of the creek bank—could almost feel the cold rush of water flowing over my feet, as I delved into the fantasy world of the book I’d began reading the night before. The image lasted no more than a moment before reality reasserted itself.

 

Grumbling, I once again bent to the task of removing the morning glory vines from the fully mature stalks. As I contemplated the insanity of the chore, anger moved over me the way a dark cloud covers the sun. It swelled in intensity with every vine I pulled. By the time I’d reached the end of the row, a raging storm had brewed within me and it’s fury begged for release.

 

Dad stood at the end of the field, leaning on the handle of his hoe. He watched me, as I pulled the vines from the last corn stalk. To my anger-shrouded mind, he seemed an evil overlord and I imagined he’d invented the chore simply to torment me.

 

“I could hear you mumbling all the way down that row.”

 

It was embarrassing to know he’d been listening to my grumbles and I had the most absurd feeling that he’d somehow invaded my privacy. This of course only added to my anger. “It’s too hot and I don’t know why we’re doing this. It’s crazy and useless.”

 

“If we don’t pull the vines, they’ll choke the corn.” He spoke reasonably, as though any idiot would know this.

 

“The stalks are fully grown. Those vines aren’t hurting it at all.”

 

“The ears aren’t fully set.”

 

“I don’t care. I love morning glories and I’d rather see their beautiful flowers blooming than this ugly corn.”

 

“Morning glory flowers won’t feed the pigs come winter.”

 

With every word of this argument, I could feel my peaceful afternoon of reading on the creek bank slipping farther and farther away. My anger wanted to shout out at him, but I pushed it back. I was only fifteen, but far from stupid. If I went so far as to scream at him the way I longed to do, he’d only think of some other way to torture me tomorrow. Glaring at him with an emotion very closely resembling hatred, I turned my back and started down another row. Maybe if I worked fast enough, I could still salvage part of the afternoon.

 

Unfortunately, the work continued till the sun began to set before we trudged wearily to the house when hearing Mom’s call to supper. Every day for the next five, my younger brother and I followed Dad to the field, pulling vines from dawn to dusk. My brother worked quietly while my complaints about pulling the colorful flowers grew louder and more frequent with each passing day. Dad never said anything. I suppose he figured as long as I was getting the job done, I could grumble away.

 

On the last day, I walked lightly to the field, a spring in my step. There was a cool breeze, compliments of the night’s passing storm. It blew over the stalks causing them to sway and ripple in one mass of beautiful green. It was like watching waves rolling over the sea.

 

“It’s lovely.” I said aloud.

 

I thought of the coming autumn and the chore of picking all that corn, throwing it into the wagon and then riding the wagon back to the corncrib in the barn. It brought a smile to my face. It was a chore I loved and never tired of. There would be no complaints coming from my mouth during those workdays. Dad stared at me for a moment before heading for the far side of the field where there were only a few rows left to weed. There would be plenty of time today for reading and my mood brightened even more as I followed behind him.

 

Two days later I stood on the front porch and watched, as Dad dug holes along the garden fence that bordered our drive. He’d been gone all morning and just returned. I couldn’t imagine what he was doing. It was too late in the season for planting. Mom came out and stood beside me.

 

“What’s your dad doing out there?”

 

“Looks like he’s going to plant something.”

 

“Well, go tell him lunch is ready before he gets too far along and forgets to come in.”

 

I sauntered across the soft grass, enjoying the feel of it on my bare feet and stopping short of the gravel driveway. “Mom says to tell you lunch is ready.”

 

“Okay, I’ll just be a minute.”

 

Being a teen, I was loath to show interest in what he was doing, but my curiosity got the better of me. “What are you doing?”

 

“Planting morning glories along the fence for you.”

 

My mouth fell open. “Why?” I could barely get the one word out around the fist-sized lump that had formed in my throat.

 

He continued to work, not looking at me, as he answered. “You said you love them. I can’t have them choking the corn, but you can enjoy them growing here along the fence.”

 

Moisture gathered along my lashes and I rapidly wiped it away, hoping he hadn’t seen. My voice was thick with emotion, as I asked, “Will they live, being planted this late?”

 

“They’ll live, I’ll see to it.”

 

Dad wasn’t the type of man to show outward signs of affection, and I’d often doubted his love for me. But with every vine he put lovingly into the ground along that fence, I could feel my heart rejoicing and hear the words, I love you, loud and clear in my mind. I never really understood this man who was my father and at times the distance between us seemed much too wide to bridge, but I understood this gesture. Every morning for years afterward whenever I’d step onto the porch and see those lovely purple blossoms, the gulf between us shortened. Today when I see morning glories, my heart swells with the memory of this gift of love given by my father.

 

Copyright ©Elizabeth Melton Parsons

http://elizabethmeltonparsons

 


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Katie Blue Eyes

Katie Blue Eyes

 

Gail…! I could here her calling for me before I’d made it halfway down the hall leading to the west wing. I made a right at the nurse’s station and headed for her room.

 

“She’s been calling like that all day. It’s given me a splitting headache. I’m sure glad my shift is over.” Janice continued to grumble, as I just smiled and continued to Katie’s room.

 

Janice was a nursing supervisor and I often wondered why she’d entered geriatrics. She was short on patience and had a decided lack of compassion for the elderly and disabled in her care. She did her job though, and did it well. She was dependable—someone you could count on in any situation. For that reason, I was sorry she’d had the day shift and I’d be working with another nurse during the evening. Katie’s voice rose to a crescendo and I hurried my steps.

 

She stretched her arms out to me when I approached. “There you are, Bubble Girl. Will you lay me down for a while? I’m so tired.”

 

She sat in her special chair, the high back leaning backwards a bit so she couldn’t topple forward. Pillows were stuffed down beside the arms to prevent leaning too far to the left or right. Katie did look tired and uncomfortable. Had she been sitting in that chair since breakfast? Taking her hands, I gave them a gentle squeeze, careful of the soft papery skin that could tear so easily.

 

“Of course I will, but why are you still up?” I was annoyed. All the residents who couldn’t fend for themselves were supposed to be put to bed for a couple hours rest before the evening shift arrived.

 

“I called and called, but no one came. I’m sorry I called your name, but I was so afraid that other one would come.”

 

My hands stilled on the coverlet I’d been turning down. This wasn’t the first time Katie had made reference to ‘the other one’, but when questioned, she’d clam up. Bending over her chair, I looked down into the biggest, bluest eyes I’d ever seen. Eyes so beautiful, they didn’t seem real, but the fear and confusion within their depths were real enough.

 

“What other one, Katie?”

 

“I don’t know. Are you going to lay me down, Bubble Girl? I shouldn’t call you that should I? It’s rude.”

 

“You know I don’t mind a bit, Katie.” I felt it best to get Katie to bed and let the questions go for now. Eventually I’d get to the bottom of who this other one was and what they’d done to generate such fear in the helpless ninety year old.

 

To be continued….Part 2: https://elizabethmeltonparsons.wordpress.com/2008/06/27/katie-blue-eyes-2/

 

©Elizabeth Melton Parsons

http://elizabethmeltonparsons.com   


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Celia ~ A Short Story

Celia

 

 

It was a long haul between Leavenworth and Casey. Tom knew if he didn’t fill up in Organ Springs he’d never get the cargo to Casey without running out of fuel. He’d been a trucker for over twenty years, but had never driven this particular route and wasn’t any too happy about doing it now. The narrow road wound itself like a snake through the mountain passes and the passing rain left just enough fog and mist behind to make seeing the dark road difficult. Tom couldn’t see the steep cliff to his right, but knew it was there and it made him nervous.

 

Turning the radio on, he settled for a station playing an old favorite about lost love. Listening to the old familiar tune, he could feel his anxiety slip away. He’d be in Organ Springs in less than twenty minutes and was looking forward to some hot coffee and a brief rest. Looking through the slapping wipers, he could just make out the Organ Springs road sign up a head at the crossroad. He geared the big truck down, preparing to stop. 

 

Just as he was getting ready to turn right onto the road leading into town, he caught a glimpse of something white in the middle of the road to the left. He looked again, but didn’t see anything. Oh, boy, I’ve been on the road too long tonight. Now I’m seeing things that aren’t there. 

 

Continuing on his way, he quickly put the incident from his mind. All he could think about was getting that much needed coffee to clear his head for the next leg of the trip. Hopefully, the mist would clear and he’d have smooth sailing the rest of the way. Tom had always been proud of getting his cargo where it was supposed to be and getting it there on time, but he never took unnecessary chances.  In his twenty plus years on the road, he’d never had an accident. A fact for which his company was grateful. Cora, Tom’s wife, felt they should have shown their gratitude in a more tangible way such as a raise in salary.

 

Tom smiled, as he thought of his wife of twenty years. An outspoken woman, Cora loved him with a fierceness he’d never thought possible before meeting her. And he loved her the same if not more. Cora had finally succeeded in convincing him to retire from the company in five years with a nice pension. Then they’d finally be able to move to the little house on the cost of Maine they’d bought years ago. Cora could paint all day and Tom could fish, something he never seemed to have time for now.

 

When his twenty-year retirement date came up, Cora had tried to convince him to take it. He thought they should wait another ten years, so there would be more money. Cora argued they’d spent too many years apart as it was. So they had compromised on the twenty-five year retirement.

 

Lost in thought, Tom never the less was paying attention to his surroundings and when the white thing appeared in the middle of the road, he was able to stop in time. Looking closer, Tom saw a lady in a long white dress. Jumping down from the cab, he hurried to her.

 

“Geesh, Miss. I could have run right over you. What are you doing out here in the middle of the road? Did you have an accident or something?”

 

“No, sir. I’d appreciate a ride into town. I was out walking and got caught in the rain.”

 

“I’ll be happy to oblige, I’m Tom Withers.”

 

“Thank you, Tom. I was afraid no one would come along and I’d have to walk all the way back, I’m Celia.”

 

Tom helped her into the cab and then climbed in himself. He looked over and realized she was shivering from wet and cold. Turning the heat on high, he reached behind the seat and pulled out a warm blanket to drape over her.

 

“Why, you poor little thing, you’re wet and freezing. Were you at a party? That’s a mighty pretty dress to be out walking in.”

 

“It’s my wedding dress. Do you like it?”

 

Tom was taken aback by this comment. Looking at the woman more closely, he saw a pale oval face and large dark eyes surrounded by purple smudges. She had an air of sadness about her that wrung his heart and he wondered if she’d gotten cold feet and run off from the wedding.

 

“It’s a beautiful dress, Hon. Are you getting warm now?”

 

“Yes, it’s nice and toasty under this blanket.”

 

“I’d better get you back to town then.” Tom put the big truck in gear and headed towards Organ Springs.

 

On their way to town, Tom tried to make polite conversation, hoping to get more of her story out of her, but she didn’t seem inclined to talk. She began to hum the tune to the same old love song he’d been listening to earlier and he softly sang the words. She turned her huge eyes his way and smiled, then continued to hum as he sang.

 

Right at the edge of Organ Springs sat a huge, old Queen Ann style house that had seen much better days. It was here, Celia asked Tom to let her out. Tom stopped the truck and eyed the old place dubiously. It was dark and there wasn’t a sign of a light inside the old place. The weeds growing in the yard were knee high and he couldn’t imagine anyone living there.

 

“Are you sure you want out here, Hon? I could take you on into town.”

 

“Oh, no. I live here. This is my home. Isn’t it just beautiful? Charles said we’d have lots of children to fill it up.”

 

Tom was worried about dropping the lady at this dilapidated old house. “So then, there’s someone waiting inside for you?”

 

“Of course, Charles is there waiting. He’s been waiting for such a long time. He’ll be so happy to see me.”

 

Tom glanced back at the old house, as he helped Celia from the cab of the truck. A small light came on in one of the front windows, easing his mind.

 

“There, you see? Charles has put the light in the window for me. He does that every night.” Happiness lit her eyes and her face seemed to glow as she said the words.

 

“Well, Celia, I’ll bid you goodnight then and I hope your wish of filling the house with children comes true.”

 

The glow left her face and she smiled sadly up at him before making her way through the weeds to the front door. Tom climbed back into his truck and drove to the truck stop on the other side of town. He was surprised that he was the only trucker around the place. He didn’t see how they could stay in business with so few customers. While the attendant filled his truck, he went inside to order coffee and a bite to eat.

 

He sat at the counter and an elderly man in a white apron came to take his order, shouting it to the cook in back as he filled Tom’s cup with hot coffee. Tom sighed, as he sipped the fragrant brew. “This is what I’ve been needing. Thank you.”

 

“Come from Clancy, did ya?” The man asked him.

 

“No, over the pass, I’m heading to Casey.”

 

The man’s eyes grew round in surprise. “Well, I’m mighty glad you made it safely. Guess you don’t know, but most truckers won’t come over the pass, they circle around through Clancy and take southbound 180 to Casey.”

 

“Yeah, I saw that route on the map, but that’s a good forty miles out of the way.”

 

“Most feel the forty miles are worth it. You didn’t see the ghost, then?”

 

Tom grinned. “What ghost might that be?” He’d heard these stories before in many small towns all over the country.

 

“The ghost of Celia Matheson.”

 

Tom choked on his coffee, coughing and sputtering. Once he’d got his breath back, he looked into the face of the old man and saw the knowing look in his eyes.

 

“You did see her then?”

 

Tom nodded, thinking the old man was pulling his leg, but wanting to hear more anyway. “Tell me about her.”

 

“Celia and Charles Matheson were childhood sweethearts. I went to school with both of them and they were in love from first grade on. Charles was going to law school when he and Celia decided to get married. A few months before the wedding they bought the old Queen Ann on the other side of town, course it was a beautiful place then. Celia loved that house.”

 

 “What happened with him and Celia? They did get married, I guess.”

 

“Yes, sir, they did. Got married at the little church over on Walnut Street. They left for their honeymoon, but a big truck ran the stop sign over at the crossroad and rammed right into them. There wasn’t much left of the car and Celia didn’t make it.”

 

“That’s terrible. What about Charles?”

 

“He lived, still alive in fact. He’s lived in that big old house all alone for the past fifty years.”

 

“The house is in pretty bad shape. Hard to believe anyone lives there.”

 

“Yep. Charles is one of the good guys. He’s helped a lot of folks out with free legal advice over the years and has defended more than a few of his neighbors in court, never asking for a dime. So when his health began to fail, folks would get together and mow the lawn, do a few repairs. Charles thought it was charity and got so upset, everyone figured it was best to leave him be. He never did remarry and puts a light in the front window of that house every night, saying it’s for Celia to find her way to him when the time is right.”

 

Shivers crept along Tom’s spine. He didn’t believe in ghosts, but this was getting pretty spooky. “Right time for what?”

 

“For the two of them to be together again. They say Celia haunts the old crossroads. Before word got around, there was many a trucker come to town and swore they’d run over some lady in a white dress and then she’d just disappeared. Some said they stopped in time to miss her and actually spoke to her and offered her a lift, but she always said the same thing. ‘It’s not the right time’. So what’s your story, Mr.? Did ya run over her or offer her a lift?”

 

“I not only offered her a lift, but brought her to the old Queen Ann house and dropped her off. Now why don’t you tell me the real story behind all this nonsense. Is this some kind of way to draw in the tourists?”

 

“You say ya dropped her at the old house?”

 

“Yes, I did.”

 

The old man behind the counter rushed to the phone and dialed a number. “Hello, Sarah, let me talk to the sheriff.” He waited a moment and then spoke into the phone again. “Yeah, Pete, it’s me Hank. You better get a car over to the Matheson house. I think Charles might be ailing. Yeah, okay, let me know what happens, will ya? Thanks.” He hung up the phone and walked back to counter.

 

Tom finished his meal. He’d had enough of this silliness for one night and needed to get back on the road.

 

“Thanks for the meal, Hank, and for the entertainment.”

 

He left the truck stop and headed his big rig out of town towards Casey. He couldn’t get Hank’s story out of his mind and he kept seeing Celia’s lovely, pale face full of sadness.  “Darn it,” he whispered. He just had to see for himself what was going on at the old house.

 

Turning the truck around, he headed back to Organ Springs and drove to the old Queen Ann. There was an ambulance and a police car parked in front. As he watched, they wheeled a gurney out of the house, a body covered with a white sheet on top of it. An ache settled into mid-section and Tom wondered if it were possible he’d actually had an encounter with the ghost of Celia Matheson. He climbed down from his truck and wandered over to a small group gathered in front of the house.

 

“What’s happening?” He asked one woman.

 

“Poor old Mr. Matheson passed away tonight. It’s a shame. He was a nice old man.”

 

Tom returned to his truck and began to turn it around to head back out of town, many questions running through his mind. As he started to pull away from the old house, a flash of something white caught his eye in the side mirror. Turning quickly, he saw Celia Matheson and a handsome young man in a dark suit walking hand in hand down the road.

 

As he stared open mouthed, Celia turned and looked at him. She smiled brightly before turning and continuing down the road, snuggled close against the side of the young man. As Tom watched, the two of them disappeared into the mist. Only there was no mist. It had cleared while he was having coffee. Tom shook his head and rubbed his eyes. Either he was going crazy or he’d actually just seen Celia and Charles Matheson’s ghosts.

 

Tom was quiet and thoughtful for the rest of the trip. After dropping his cargo, he found a phone and called Cora.

 

“Hello, Sweetheart, I’ll be home tomorrow. And, Cora, I’ve decided to take the twenty-year retirement. This is my last trip. Ah… Honey, don’t cry. Yes, I know. I’ll tell you all about it when I get home. I love you too. Bye, Darlin’.”

 

Tom walked back to his truck with a smile on his face. Ghost or not, Celia Matheson had shown him that spending time with his Cora was more important than a few extra dollars in retirement benefits.

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