I want to get her something really nice
She's very girly
like Jennifer Aniston
But she's not my girlfriend
Not just anything will do
I want her to know
I put some thought into it
without going overboard
It has to be just right
she's really nice
but she's not my girlfriend
they travel from shop to shop
a captive audience
Their purses empty
Their hearts and minds
with stories to tell
Most are old as time
a lost job
a lost love
an illness to be reckoned with
Every once in a while
makes it's way to my little corner
Causing me to give pause
The doctor is in
5 cents please
It's amazing what you hear
The acoustics make things
Politics and policies
even legal matters
of which they are now
they are eager to share
to expand upon
Until they've encompassed
every inch of real estate
Surrounded by the din
voices rise and fall
I have no desire
to be part of
Rather than unfurling gently
like a flower
she violently rips herself open
spilling a lifetime of atrocities
over the tile floor
and goes about her day
leaving me drowning
in her grief
Many, many moons ago I was approached by an acquaintance, asking me to write a collection of short stories for children. The project would be illustrated and published for a local school. Unfortunately, it never manifested. I recently decided to dust off the stories I wrote, do a bit of editing to freshen them up, and publish them here. I hope you enjoy them.
It was a day much like any other, or so it was to begin with. The Giant made their way through the forest which was said to be older than the keeping of time. It was also said that the trees never understood our need to track time in such small increments which were of no true meaning in the grand scheme of things.
The Giant wasn't pondering anything in particular when a voice floated down from the trees.
“Who! Who are YOU?”
It was an Owl, sitting on a branch high above the Giant's head.
“I am a Giant.” they replied.
“You must be mistaken. You cannot be a Giant. You’re not tall enough.”
“But I am. I am a Giant.”
“I’m afraid I must disagree. I’ve seen many a Giant in my day. Yes, many a Giant has passed this way and I can assure you that a Giant you are not!”
How could this be? That can't be right. But they were an Owl and everyone always said that if you ever had a question, you should find an Owl, for they are the keeper of all answers. The Giant had never known an Owl to be wrong, but then they’d never known an Owl at all so it was hard to say either way. Besides, it was rude to argue. Giant or not, they didn’t want to be considered rude.
“I thought I was a Giant.” they said.
“Who said you were a Giant?”
“Then why do you think you are one?”
“I don’t know. I guess I just assumed.”
“Assumptions, my dear, will cause the downfall of Man.”
“You are wise beyond my understanding, Owl. Please tell me, if I’m not a Giant, then what am I?”
“Not what, WHO.”
“Who, then? Who am I?”
“Pardon?” asked the Giant. This was very confusing.
“Follow the sun until it leads to the sea. There you will find you. There you will be.”
“Thank you very…”
And with that, the Owl flew away.
“…much.” the Giant said to themselves.
A tear slid down their cheek. The Giant felt as though they had lost something very dear. Everything that was once familiar now felt strange. How were they to act? What if someone happened along and asked who they were? They couldn’t say they were a Giant, could they?
I can’t touch the clouds,
as they go rolling by.
If I’m not a Giant
then what am I?
What am I?
I can’t stop the eagle
From sailing ‘cross the moon
If I’m not a Giant
will I be soon?
Will I be soon?
I should be moving mountains
or strolling ‘cross the sea
If I can’t be a Giant
what can I be?
Can I be?
Sadness overcame the Giant. They sat right down where they were and cried. The leaves on the trees trembled, for they had never seen the Giant sad. The breeze stopped altogether, for fear of upsetting the Giant further. The sun tried hard to warm the Giant but the effort went unnoticed. After a time, a voice was heard.
“Seems a shame for one so young,
to turn away from summer sun.
To choose instead the cold of fear,
and shed even a single tear.
When a friend is so very,
The Giant looked up, their eyes red and puffy from crying. A crow was standing on a tree stump, smiling at them.
“Hello”, the Giant whispered, wiping their face as best they could.
“You sit beneath a sunny sky.
You could play,
instead you cry.
Why is this, ask I?
Why oh why oh why oh why?”
“I don’t know who I am. I thought I was a Giant but the Owl said I wasn’t and now I don’t know what to do.”
“There, there, my dear.
What you’ve lost
I’ll help you find
if my company
you don’t mind.”
“Really? You would help me?”
across the miles I’d go.
William Roderick Crow.”
“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Crow”
That simply will not do.
Call me William, please
The Giant giggled a little. They never met anyone who spoke the way William did.
“I’m very happy to have met you today, William.”
William bowed low and said,
“The pleasure is mine, my dear.
Now please tell me,
what happened here?”
The Giant explained. William pondered their words, walking back and forth across the tree stump, stroking the underside of their beak with one wing.
“Follow the sun until it leads to the sea?
There you will find you?
There you will be?
It seems a sort of mystery, my friend.
Something we should follow through to its’ end.”
“You’re absolutely right. If I want to find out who I am, I have to go look. I certainly won’t find anything at all sitting here in a puddle of my own tears, now, will I?”
The Giant stood up right there and then, took a deep breath and turned their attention to the sky.
“Follow the sun until it leads to the sea. How long do you think it will take us to get there?”
“Hard to say, for it seems that I
Measure the distance as the crow flies.
You travel by foot instead.
I will, at times, fly on ahead
to circle back that I might advise
what I’ve seen with these dark eyes.
The decision, always yours to make.
The journey? Ours both to take.”
That seemed to be William's way of saying they weren't sure.
“Well, since I don’t have anything pressing to attend to, shall we depart?”
“Once upon this daytime splendour
An Owl’s words, we did ponder.
Their meaning will remain unknown
should we decide to stay at home.”
With that, the Giant turned toward the sun and William took wing. They did just as the Owl suggested. They travelled for days, following the sun until it led to the sea.
“Well, here we are.”, said the Giant.
“From the forest and the path
to the sea, we’ve arrived at last!
Long before the setting sun.
Plenty of time to find someone.”
“Now that I’m here, it won’t be long until I find out who I am truly meant to be.”
They remained at the seashore for three days, building sandcastles and playing in the water. William wrote poems and the Giant sang songs. It was fun for a while but then the Giant became impatient.
“When will I find out who I am?”
“It seems the Owl
although very wise
left you with questions
before they did fly.”
The Giant threw their hands in the air, plopped down in the sand and began to cry.
“Now what do we do? “
After some time, a sea turtle appeared. She was on her way back to her home under the waves after laying her eggs in a warm, sandy nest. She paused, then turned to the Giant and spoke.
“Do you mind if I sit here and rest for a moment?”
“I don't mind.”, the Giant replied.
The sea turtle took some time to get comfortable, then let out a sigh. She turned to the Giant, who was sniffling and wiping their eyes.
“Do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“No.”, the Giant replied.
“Why are you crying?”
The Giant told her about the Owl and what was said. About meeting William and their journey to the sea.
“And here we are.”, the Giant said at last.
“I see. If you don’t mind, I’d like to offer my opinion.”
“I’d be happy to hear it.”
“Large becomes small when you see it from a distance.”
“What do you mean?” the Giant asked, hoping it wasn’t another riddle.
“You look like a Giant from where I am.”
“That’s WONDERFUL! Did you hear that, William? The sea turtle thinks I look like a Giant!” The Giant jumped up and started to dance. The sea turtle however, turned her head this way and that.
“Why does it matter so much, what I think of who you are?”
The Giant stopped dancing and pondered this for a moment.
“I don’t know.”
“If you don’t mind, I would just like to express that it shouldn’t matter to you what anyone thinks or says. What matters is what YOU think and feel.”
“I feel confused.”
“If you don’t mind, can I ask you two more questions?”
The Giant nodded and sat down so they could pay attention, for they were certain this was going to be very, very important.
“Do you FEEL like a Giant?”
The Giant gave this some thought and finally said “Yes. I do feel like a Giant.”
“Does that make you happy?”
“Yes. That makes me very, very happy.”
“William, if you don’t mind. Can I ask you? Do they look like a Giant?”
William Roderick Crow turned and regarded the Giant.
“They don't look like me or you.
They look like themselves, they do.”
The sea turtle turned to the Giant with kindness in her eyes.
“If you don’t mind me saying so, you feel like a Giant and being a Giant makes you happy. Seems to me that a Giant is not only who you ought to be, but who you truly are.”
She’s right!, the Giant thought. What do I care what anyone else says or thinks? I am a Giant. I AM A GIANT! I AM!
“Thank you! Thank you so much!”
With that, the Giant made some seaweed tea to share with their new friends. The trio visited until the sun was done with the day and the moon came out to play and for a while thereafter.
"I really need to figure out a way to travel more."
It's interesting, what you think about when the word "cancer" enters your vocabulary in a way that only cancer can. When it is no longer something "out there" and has taken up space in your life. When the mundane things that you take for granted, like a long soak in the tub, are replaced with waiting for phone calls from the hospital.
Not once throughout this experience did I ever think, "Wow, I'm sure glad I worked all that overtime." Not once did I concern myself with my clients or their ad campaigns. What gave me pause was how much I enjoyed travelling and how little I'd done it thus far in my life. I spent many hours of my recovery time wracking my brain, trying to figure out how I could manage it financially.
It never ceases to amaze me, how things come together if you are open to possibilities. I had surrendered my question to the Universe, stating my intention that I would do whatever was needed in order to bring my goal to fruition.
We were sitting at the kitchen table one day during my recovery and out of nowhere I said "I really need to figure out a way to travel more." I wasn't looking for an answer, just stating my intention. My mom replied, "Well, we've been meaning to talk to you about something."
My parents asked me if I would like to come live with them. Apparently, for reasons I can't quite comprehend, they enjoy my company. They said my living there would help them tremendously and in return, they would help me save money that I could use to travel and set up a solid retirement fund. I could sell my house, be debt free, have the acreage life that I always dreamed of, and travel.
I have to admit, I wasn't completely sold at first. As with all decisions, I needed some time to warm up to the idea. But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. I had been watching shows about "Tiny Houses" and thinking that I could definitely stand to downsize my life. Not quite to that extreme, but certainly let go of some stuff. The thing I kept coming back to was being debt free. That was a dream come true. I would no longer have to borrow money when the unexpected occurred, only to worry about how I would ever be able to pay it back. I would no longer have to put off doing the things I really wanted because of lack of funds.
It took me about three days to decide to downsize my life, sell my house, and move out to the acreage. Now, the real work would begin.
The "C" word isn't anything anyone wants to hear while they're sitting in a paper gown on an exam table. You never know exactly how you're going to react until it actually happens. A tidal wave of emotion threatens to pull you under, drowning in a combination of fear, denial, and disbelief. When you finally come up for air, there doesn't seem to be enough of it any more.
At least, that's what happened to me. They discovered a form of soft tissue cancer in my leg, which is why it refused to heal after I cut it. I was not sure how extensive the damage was or how much more of my calf they were going to have to take or if I would ever be able to walk without pain again.
I went into the third surgery with the attitude that no matter what happened, everything was going to be fine. If I eventually lost my leg, then worrying and being angry about it wasn't going to change that. I was prepared to wake up in immense pain, but I'd been through it before and I'd get through it again. I refused to allow cancer to change who I was and how I dealt with things.
When I awoke in the recovery room, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. Something was different. But I wasn't about to count my proverbial chickens as of yet. It would be two weeks before I knew either way.
So I returned to the acreage, where the initial intended two week stay had turned into a month and counting. I was bandaged from hip to ankle and instructed to remain as immobile as possible. I spent the next few days stoned on pain killers, which helped me tremendously. But I couldn't read, which was a bummer. I would find myself staring at the same page for who knows how long and eventually gave up. So I sat in my mom's big comfy chair, my leg propped up on the ottoman, enthralled with episode after episode of reality TV shows like "Gold Rush" and "Pawn Stars" and mowing down Lays plain potato chips like they were going out of style.
Then the hallucinations started. Four days post surgery, I woke up in the middle of the night and thought the ceiling fan was a giant white spider, it's legs reaching out for me, her voice calling out to me, trying to draw me into her shiny mouth. Super fun. Thankfully, I had enough presence of mind to ride out the bad trip I was having and vowed not to take any more of those "fun" little pills.
The nurses came and went. I gazed at the birds outside the window, the seasons changing from autumn to winter. I watched a "Game of Thrones" marathon with my dad. I enjoyed fabulous meals made with love by my mom. I waited to learn my fate.
At the first appointment, they removed my bandages and I made the mistake of looking at my leg. It was horrific. They removed about 6 inches all the way around, the edges trimmed in staples. It was over an inch deep in some places, a huge crater that looked like something out of a Stephen King novel. I cried so much I almost threw up.
The nurses continued to come to the house for daily dressing changes, but made a note in my file to keep the wound as covered as possible as the sight of it upset me. I gripped my pillow and turned my head, gazing out the window as they worked. They kept assuring me that it "looked great". I tried to believe them.
I went to yet another follow-up appointment. As I lay on the exam room table, eReader in hand and a blanket keeping me warm, the nurses were gathered around the printer waiting for the test results.
The surgeon appeared, file in hand. She looked at me, smiled and simply said, "We got it!" She showed me the file but even if I could read it through the tears in my eyes, none of it would have made much sense. I just sat there, stunned. I was waiting for the "but". It didn't come. Instead, she hugged me tight and I felt months of stress evaporate.
There were hugs and high 5's, cheering and clapping in the waiting room. All of the nurses gathered at the desk to share the good news. No more surgery. No more cancer. Just go home and heal.
I did heal, and quite quickly. Suddenly, the sight of my leg didn't bother me. Not much at all bothered me anymore, to be honest. I had a firm grasp on what was important. That realization would be the first step in what would become a major change in my life that only a few months ago could have never seen coming.
"Just tell me the truth. Am I going to lose my leg?"
"I don't think it will come to that, but I can't be sure."
I was sitting in the exam room, which was a regular routine by then. I had been given the news that the second surgery was not successful and that they didn't get it all. The cancer was not only still there, it was pissed. I knew that because I was in a tremendous amount of pain and something felt very, very wrong. I had been up all night worried, which didn't help my ability to hear what I was being told. That they were going to schedule another surgery ASAP and that she was going to take all the tissue right down to the muscle.
My Mom was out in the waiting room and as soon as she saw my face, she knew. I sat down and started to cry. She did, too. In that moment, I wasn't thinking "F Cancer" or "I am gonna fight this." I was scared, I was beaten down, and I was exhausted. All I could think was, "Please don't let them take my leg."
So we returned to the acreage and broke the news to my dad. Then we carried on as we had been, the homecare nurses coming daily to change my bandages, the hospital calling with a thousand and one questions, and waiting for the surgery date.
I was able to hobble around, so I accompanied my Mom on short trips to the grocery store, which helped keep my mind off things. I was feeling really depressed but didn't want to worry my parents, so I put on what I hoped was a brave face. One night, I was laying in bed watching TV when a commercial came on for War Amps. A little girl, no more than 8, had lost her leg in an accident. There were clips of her swimming, riding a bike, playing with friends and always with a smile. I suddenly thought, "If they have to take your leg, it's not going to end you. You can't let it."
About a week and a half later, I was laying on a gurney waiting to be wheeled into the operating room for the third time. For some reason, I was quite calm. I reflected on my trip to Ireland, thinking that I was so grateful that I didn't know about the cancer then.
I hadn't said much to anyone outside my family. A few close friends knew and I had to tell my supervisor at work because I was on medical leave. So I struggled with how much to share. I didn't want a lot of attention, nor visitors. I just wanted to be alone, to spend quiet time with my family and deal with how this was affecting me emotionally.
In spite of that, I decided to go ahead and post a request on FB for "healing vibes and positive energy". So, on December 1st I made yet another early-morning trip to the hospital on an empty stomach and dressed in my favorite PJ's.
While taking a walk through the woods one rather gloomy spring day, The Writer caught a glimpse of a young girl with short dark hair and dark eyes. There was something strange (yet not sinister) about her. She seemed familiar, somehow. The Writer continued on, searching through breaks in the trees until, much to her surprise, found herself face to face with her quarry. They regarded each other for a moment. The girl’s eyes narrowed and grew darker still.
The words were heard not with her ears but with her heart, for the girl’s lips remained still. The Writer wasn't especially frightened, not by the girl anyway. What scared her was the thought that the stories she loved so much may never be known to anyone else but her.
So The Writer retreated from the mundane world to her cozy little home and immersed herself in the Faerie Realm. Sipping tea and losing complete track of the time ( as will happen when one visits the Fae ), she continues to document the stories they are willing to share.