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HOME IS THE WRITER

Published January 23, 2016 by Nan Mykel

My computer desk is not well lit. I don’t know why, unless it’s to keep company with my flailing vision. I know it’s “failing,” but if a writer can’t have a little fun, who can? Surrounding me, floor to ceiling, are remnants of my former craze for genealogy.  In the new digital robotic age, nobody cares, not even me. If we should meet ancestors in the sweet by and by we can introduce ourselves, surely!

And my books! They say writers should read, but… three copies of a book because I like it so much?

So much personal history! Who gives a hoot, as the old owl says.  My old report cards—with comments from teachers— Mrs. Arvesons’ two A-pluses on my term paper in ninth grade, my  National Honor Society certificate from high school and my tennis team letter, not to mention a drawer full of Christmas cards and correspondence from friends and acquaintances for more than 50 years;  at least 100 videotapes shot by me for Public Access line my shelves—many shelves.   Last week I came across a letter of congratulations for a forensic evaluation I did 25 years ago, which brings me to the question of why am I in two writing groups and maintain a busy blog and volunteer for public access when I need to spend a year dispensing with my junk?

Given my propensity for hoarding, how can I write anything, you might say?  Well, it has to do with escaping the melee I have created and continue to create. And oh yeah I forgot to mention  my blind deaf cat who requires his sanitary floor sheet changed daily.

After having an earlier computer fine-tuned at Staples, I lost it when I put it on top of my car and drove away. Now I have an hp  guaranteed to last a year, most of which has expired. My huge blonde computer desk sits more or less inside a vacant closet, whose doors are stuck under my bed in another room ..

Self-publishing three books last year was a step forward; I had file folders full of short stories, journal entries and info from the last job I held, so I published them to get rid of them.

Due to short cords and other unknown factors, I have to type—such as I am doing now—with my keyboard in my lap. As I survey the top of my computer desk I see the dregs of a glass of a cocoanut rum mixture, reading glasses from Dollar Tree, two new pairs of socks that are too small for me, a pack of hearing aid batteries, 4 paperback books, three flash drives, a screwdriver, a Diet Coke bottle top, a computer cord that I don’t recognize, an antique toy rolling pin I bought as a gift but never gave, and a green pair of pliers left from loosening  a recalcitrant   bottletop. Oh, then on the pull-out lap computer shelf there is a banana peel sans banana, a checkbook,  a journal and a free copy of a book by Bill Cosby.

I do love to be able to start writing at midnight  if I like, or groggily tap out a dream early in the morning.  See, it is 1:15 a.m. now.                                                            Nan

 

 

 

The Red Cat

Published December 1, 2015 by Nan Mykel

When we named the new red kitten we didn’t realize the importance of cat names. In ignorance, we named him after his most frequently displayed behavior. We named him “Lil’ Rascal.”

Later, when for a variety of reasons it seemed most sensible and kindest to give him to my son and his family who had just moved to a new town, we were stuck with trying to pawn off a cat whose name did not bode well. At that point he underwent a name change, to “Sweetie.”

My youngest daughter was assured she could see Sweetie (aka Lil’ Rascal) whenever she visited her brother Tim’s family in the nearby town. (One of a pair of their kitties had been struck by a car and they had promised my granddaughter that it would be replaced when they moved.)

It was several days after we waved goodbye to Tim and a howling Sweetie that I received the terse message: Sweetie had disappeared, and despite phone calls and telephone pole postings, he had not been found. Tim just wanted to alert me that our red cat may be history.

Caution suggested that I postpone informing my youngest about Sweetie’s missing status. As it turned out, it was a wise choice.

Beth, my daughter-in-law, had gone in one direction to search for Sweetie, and my son and granddaughter had headed the other way. In Beth’s path lived a woman who worked as a veterinarian. After listening to Beth’s story, she promised to consult with a friend who was a cat communicator and get back to Beth.

The next day the phone rang and Beth was advised that Sweetie was alive, and under a nearby deck. He liked the new house but was offended that he hadn’t been told of the move in advance. In order for Sweetie to return,  Beth and Tim should concentrate very hard on sending Sweetie an apology for not having prepared him for the move. Tim refused to do so, but agreed that Beth could use his name.

Subsequently Beth–a full profess0r with a Ph.D.–sent thought waves overflowing with apologies from both her and Tim, inviting him to please return to his new home.

Beth’s parents had not seen the new house, and were relaxing on the deck after a tour as Beth described the ordeal with the missing Sweetie. She was in the midst of describing his disappearance when Beth’s father interrupted her. “Is it that cat there?”  Beth turned to see Sweetie seated in the corner, nonchalantly licking himself over his shoulder.

A couple of days later, during rushed preprations at dinner time, Sweetie began complaining vociferously about something, and Beth set him outside. Within an hour there was a knock on the door.

Both the vet and her husband stood beaming with pleasure and goodwill. The vet, who was holding Sweetie, proudly announced, “We found your cat!”

After that, Sweetie was kept inside for several days, made friends with the resident house cat, and found peace and eminence from atop the family room’s very high mantel.

c. Nan Mykel

 

 

The Lonely Hour

Published November 27, 2015 by Nan Mykel

Pita hated taking naps. She was always sent up to sleep on the cot in the attic so the household noises wouldn’t keep her awake. It was warm up here beneath the rafters of the old house, and everything seemed so far away. She could still hear the neighbor’s dogs barking and the click of silverware as Mother did the dishes, however. Not that she minded staying awake, mind you.

She hated taking naps because she felt left out of whatever was going on downstairs, because that’s what children have to do and she was seven, and because nap time was a lonely time. Pita took a deep breath and lost herself in the dust particles floating in sunlight from the dormer window.  Her eyelids grew heavy as she watched a lazyu spider in the corner slowly spinning its web ever so slowly, as though in a dance. Her eyelids grew heavy and she closed her eyes.

Suddenly, from behind the cot she heard a giggle. A giggle? Pita raised up on her elbow and looked behind her. She saw a girl about her own age sitting cross-legged on the floor, playing jacks. Seeing Pita raise up, the girl laughed, swinging her long braids from side to side as she did so. “Daddy bear said ‘Somebody’s been sleeping in my bed and she’s still here.’!”

Pita sat up, shocked into silence. She must be dreaming. If so, it was the clearest dream she had ever had. “This is your bed?”

The girl continued bouncing the ball but picking up no jacks, and nodded. “It was.”

The sound of dishes rattling in the sink downstairs cut a swath of reality–or unreality–through Pita’s mind. She felt a twinge of nausea. “What’s your name?”

“My name is Lydia Perkins and I’m one of your great great grandmothers.”

Pita scrunched up her face and blinked hard. “Huh? You don’t look old enough to be one of my grandmothers.”

Lydia responded with a tinkle of laughter. “Oh, I’m not now. Just on the calendar. Right now I’m your age, seven.”

Pita was at a loss for words. Finally she stammered, “Are you a ghost?”

Lydia laughed again. “Yes and no. Yes  I’m  a ghost because I’m here and I’ve died, but no, I’m not a ghost because I just slid sideways through a pocket in time. I got curious and wanted to see who was living on the farm now.”

Pita blinked again, thoughts and questions pinging around inside her head. Finally she managed a “Huunh,” whereupon Lydia broke into peals of laughter again.

“I’ve never done this before, but others have told me how much fun it is.”

Pita studied the girl;. She had a heart-shaped face, brown hair, dark brown eyes and was wearing white cotton stockings and a pale pink pinafore tied with a sash in back. A look of scepticism crept over Pita’s face. “Who were–are–your children?”

Lydia drew in a deep breath and exhaled. “Well, I don’t know it yet at seven, but I’ve been told I had three boys and a girl. Willie died of brain fever as a baby, and Johnny was three when he died of scarlet fever. My daughter Phoebe caught whooping cough when she was five, and we buried her in the family burying ground. They–we–are all in the family cemetery beyond the third pasture. My third son lived to carry the family line all the way down to you.”

Pita placed her hand on her chest and softly said, “me.”

Lydia shrugged. “I don’t really directly remember anything but being seven years old and sleeping on that cot.” She looked around. “Not much has changed up here, after all these years.”

She stepped across the attic floor and rubbed some dust off an old rusted high-backd trunk. “Did you ever look in this trunk?” Pita slowly shook her head and blinked once more. She knew Mother was downstairs in the kitchen, oblivious of Pita’s visitor.

“What’s in it?”

In answer Lydia raised the top of the trunk and sighed with satisfaction as she reached out and ran her finger around the cover of an old scrapbook. Pita glanced toward the attic stairs. Shouldn’t she get Mother? Lydia seemed to read her mind. “It’s got to be our secret,” she cautioned. “That’s the rules, the only way you can have visitors your own age through the time pocket. You can’t tell. Anyone. Ever.

Lydia and Pita sat side by side on the cot, their reflections captured in the old mirror propped against the wall.

To be continued?

 

 

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