Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Holy Week

Through Lent’s discipline,
Journey’s road
Becomes repaired.
Vigilance discovers debris;
Diligence repairs
The potholes on the path.
Stones are rolled away
Life is renewed,

New fire is lit,
Kindled from last year’s
Forgotten promises and
Rituals are gathered together,
Built into a funeral pyre.

New fire is kindled from
Old dead deeds; new light
Flames in heart and soul.
Let us rekindle
Promises of devotion;
Exchange new lives for old.

© Judith Lawrence 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

This Is Your Life

This is another short-short story in Welsh Cakes: Book of Short Stories. The basis for this story is the old TV program that showed the life of a person through the eyes of different people who had known him or her at various life stages. The person was presented at the end of the evening with a book of his or her life. This is the story of a fictional teacher. She is retired and is asked to make a presentation about someone whom she has known. Estelle agrees but was none too pleased. "Estelle hung up the phone. Always someone else in the limelight, she thought. Even now, when I've had my first novel published at almost eighty years of age, my ex-student gets recognized ahead of me. How old would Martin be now? Forty? Half my age! Writes those self-help books and makes a fortune off other people's inability to make their own decisions. Oh well! Never mind! It will be a night out and I don't get many of those now. I'll get Joyce to make sure that I look presentable. She's always been a good daughter to me. I think she had a thing for Martin at one time." So she prepared her speech about Martin and was totally taken by surprise when the evening began with the introduction, "Born in 1920, in this very town; devoted almost forty years to teaching here in Crane High, Estelle Samoth, THIS IS YOUR LIFE."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Ice Storm

This is another postcard story from Welsh Cakes: Book of Short Stories; and, again, it is narrated by an elderly woman. I wrote this story after a particularly devastating ice storm in January 1998. Many people had no power for many days and elderly people, in particular, suffered and some died from hypothermia. I am putting this story in its totality.
My teeth chatter and my body shudders deep inside, so that my muscles and spine ache from the effort. The layering of clothes isn't helping at all and I fantasize about lying naked inside a sleeping bag next to Joe's unclad body. If I could wrap my arms around him and entwine my legs with his, skin touching bare skin, I would feel better.
I can't feel my toes, not even a tingle. My fingers are waxy-white like the emergency candles we keep in the kitchen drawer. The candles are almost finished, burned down to streaky grey-black stubs. I hold up my bloodless fingers in front of my eyes and contemplate snapping them off at the knuckles like frozen twigs and striking a match to them to light the dark.
A cup of tea would be nice, but there's no power. I'd have some brandy even though I'm teetotal, but Joe finished the bottle a while ago. Doesn't look like it did him much good.
“At a hundred degrees below zero, I button up my vest.”
I shake myself to stop the words of Joe’s firewood song repeating in my brain like a needle stuck in the worn groove of an old 78. With a final hiccup the singing stops in response to a loud knock on the front door. A young chap in army fatigues, no older than our Billy would have been next birthday, peers at me with eyes wide and bright from too little sleep and too much coffee.
“I'd better take you somewhere warm, ma'am,” he says.
“We'll wait. Joe'll feel better when the guy comes with the generator to warm the house through.”
“I'd better take a look at Joe,” he says.
He comes in without so much as a “by your leave” and walks over to where Joe propped himself up next to the wood stove last night.
“Ma'am, he don't look so good. I'd better get him to the hospital.”
“I told him we should get naked together in the sleeping bag. But he never would let his skin touch mine, something to do with his religion he always said. I told him, that's the way God made us, Joe, naked. That's the way we came into the world and that's the way we'll go out.”
“Ma'am, will you come with me to the hospital?”
“Billy? My, you've grown tall. Are you taking your dad and me home?”
“Yes, ma'am. Let's go home.”

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Green Carpet

This post is about The Green Carpet, a postcard story from Welsh Cakes: Book of Short Stories. The story is narrated by an elderly woman who is standing at the graveside of her recently deceased husband. She has been married to her husband for so many years that she has trouble thinking of him not being there when she returns to their home following the funeral. "This ceremony is outside of me, apart from my reality. When it is finished, I will return home and tell you of my morning's experience as I always do. We will have lunch and all will be as it was before...My eyelids are cold behind my glasses. The tears collect at the corners of my eyes and run slowly down my cheeks. I look up and see the snow falling in big flakes, gathering on the carpeted mound. The snow will blanket the earth and settle on your grave. It is the right time in the seasons' circle for death to come upon you. It will be your winter's hibernation. I break free from my son's support and walk toward the mound. I reach under the coarse green covering and my hand closes around the cold wet earth. I throw the clod into the hole and it breaks into tiny pearl size offerings. It is my last gesture of love for you. I turn away, the smell of earth's promise of new life still on my fingers."