Today is a little different. My wonderful friend Miki Markovich invited me to post over at her fantastic new site, which I was more than happy to do. If you’d like, feel free to click on the link for this weeks poem. If not, now is the perfect time for me to wish you and yours a very Happy Holiday Season!
Once the little girl in pink arrived.
I ushered her in front of me.
While, from a small distance away.
Her mother examined me with great care.
Finally, mother came to a decision.
With a small nod to herself.
She smiled at me.
I grinned back at her.
Before turning back.
To mind my little charge.
No more than six years old.
She stood in the midst of what would soon become chaos.
It was Black Friday.
The little girl in pink had her eyes on the prize.
She told us all about it.
A gift for my grandma, she said proudly.
Mama’s letting me get it all by myself!
There was no haughtiness.
As the little girl in pink surveyed her temporary kingdom.
A ring of women surrounding their prize.
Felicity never lasts as long as we want.
Sweet things rarely do.
All too soon.
The turbulence came.
Carts propelled by strangers.
Staking their claims all around.
Yet, through it all.
The little girl in pink stayed calm.
I was her barrier.
And I marveled, as I bumped against her time after time.
Keeping myself between her and strangers.
At how fully she trusted.
How safe she felt.
It endeared me.
It frightened me.
And for just a moment.
I got a glimpse of the earliest version of myself.
The confident, wee girl.
The one who believed in fairies and magic and Santa Claus.
In happiness and dreams come true.
I would be a princess one day.
I would use only good magic.
I would rule the world.
I miss that little girl me who barely was.
Much later that night.
After presents were bought.
Then tucked away.
I thought again of the little girl in pink.
She helped me to remember.
Why holidays exist.
It isn’t bargains or expensive gifts.
It’s the excitement of helping your mama get a gift for grandma.
The laughter you share with strangers.
The magic in the air.
All we have to do is capitalize on it.
And remember how to share.
We met through a cruel joke.
There are perils in healthcare.
Seeing only the wounded flesh.
Never the soul.
I was the new girl.
They wanted to see what I was made of.
So they sent me to Ruby.
To bathe her.
Quietly, I entered her room.
Told her what we were going to do.
Lifted her up so carefully.
Older flesh can be…
As insubstantial as worn paper.
As easily torn.
And when I lifted her.
Her right arm started spinning.
There was no bone between her elbow and forearm.
They hadn’t told me.
Because it was my test.
If I ran screaming from the sight.
I wasn’t good enough to work among them.
I did not scream.
Gently, I grasped Ruby’s arm.
Untwisted the folds of skin that has twisted upon themselves.
And then I got to know her.
That was what they missed.
When they gave into the peril.
Oh, what they missed.
Ruby was a spinster, I learned.
An old maid.
Her parents had never been in good health.
The Great Depression took what health was left.
She managed, said Ruby.
It wasn’t easy.
But she managed.
She was young and strong.
She was willing to work from dawn to dusk.
But there was no work.
She could beg.
There was never enough.
They scraped by.
And then came the accident.
A horse and it’s rider didn’t see her.
She was knocked to the ground.
And when she told me about it.
Ruby was grateful.
“It could’ve killed me,” Ruby said.
“But the good Lord, he looked after me.”
That’s all she said.
She didn’t talk about the pain.
Dragging herself home.
Setting the arm badly.
Finding the strength to keep on keeping on.
I think of Ruby often.
Laying there in her bed.
Too weak to walk.
For the blessed life she’d led.
A buried gem lying helpless in a hospital bed.
She didn’t look like much.
The most priceless gems never do.
It takes effort to unearth them.
Time to polish them.
And great, great care.
To look for them at all.
He lost his fingers in the fire.
It didn’t stop him.
From waving happily.
With what remained.
Fine wisps of hair.
Finally growing back.
Gently propelled up and down.
Back and forth.
As he flew through the air.
Not once, did he seem bothered.
By the clothes that caught on his scars.
And his eyes.
Oh, his eyes.
Glittered merrily as he played.
One of the few parts of his body.
Not touched by the flames.
It started with a mistake.
An awful mistake.
One man was supposed to check gas pipes.
He did less than his job required.
A house exploded.
A boy caught on fire.
It hurt my heart.
But it wasn’t what caught my eyes.
As I watched the news report.
I saw joy.
Perhaps the simplest of joys.
Having limbs to move
The will to move them.
The good luck to laugh.
Numerous surgeries are still required.
His father cried at the necessity.
At the pain endured.
The pain to come.
While his son danced in the background.
Such a young boy.
Who knows so much.
That so many never learn.
Take what life gives you.
Make something good of it.
Remember to play.
Remember to pray.
And whatever you do.
Don’t forget to dance.
He was an unremarkable man.
A good man.
A tow headed youngster.
The only son of his proud parents.
Did everything he could.
To keep their pride.
He got great grades.
Joined the military after graduation.
Got his honorable discharge.
Married his high school sweetheart.
Went to college.
Became an engineer.
Had a son.
And I heard it all.
As he lay there in his hospital room.
I held his hand.
As his life wound down.
The important thing is this:
His parents first.
His wife and son.
And for his service, there was.
A measure of peace.
Finally, at the end.
Now he is gone.
And I wonder, on this Veteran’s Day.
How many men and women there are.
Out there, protecting us.
I know what they would say.
All of them.
Just doing our job, Ma’am.
Saving our lives.
Preserving our freedom.
Safeguarding our lives.
By sacrificing their own.
And in these times.
When babies are shaken.
It is those who describe themselves as unremarkable.
Who seem to me.
To be the most remarkable creatures of all.
It was beautiful.
Beautiful and melancholy.
Birthdays always are.
My most recent birthday was this past Friday.
And as I lay in bed the night before.
I thought back.
Back to a beautiful fall day long ago.
I was six.
In a foster home at the time.
And I was so sure…
As we went on errands with our foster mother.
That we would return to a surprise birthday party.
I was six.
I had hope.
And so very, very much to learn.
I remember the door.
Such a big door to such a little girl.
I skipped up to it, so sure.
So sure in my heart something magical was about to happen.
How I smiled.
It would be my first birthday party.
But of course, there was nothing.
No candles to blow out.
No gifts or laughter.
Just chores and other things.
Things not fit to mention here.
But I look back.
And I remember that feeling.
What it felt like to believe.
Against all logic.
That something wonderful would happen.
That hope has not diminished in the thirty five years that have followed.
It has been tempered.
And what is tempering.
But a process used to make metal stronger?
They took away one hope that day.
But so many were left untouched.
That is what hope is, after all.
That part of you no one can reach.
The part that believes.
That magical things still happen.
That wonder will always march on.
Hope sustained me then.
It sustains me still.
And as long as the flames still burn.
As long as the forge exists.
My hope will burn on.
It’s time to tell new tales.
And so you will see some changes here.
A complete overhaul of the site.
What I once did.
I no longer do.
And that is where the tales come in.
I grew up with animals.
They taught me first.
You’ve read about that.
For nearly ten years, I worked with the oldest among us.
I learned from them.
And I loved them.
You’ve read about that, too.
You still will.
Twenty more years have passed.
Thousands of clients walked through my door.
And I learned from them, too.
That was the point.
I had a policy.
I chose clients who were better than me.
My hope being that one day…
One fine day.
I could be like them.
That day has not arrived.
Yet their lessons remain.
Not all of them are still with us.
But their voices still ring true.
Sharing their stories is a privilege.
One I hope I’ll always be able to do.
I am so excited to interview the incredibly talented authors of A Touch of Darkness, Tina Moss and Yelena Casale!
Tina Moss is a writer of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense. She lives in NYC with a supportive husband and alpha corgi, though both males hog the bed and refuse to share the covers. When not writing, she enjoys reading, watching cheesy horror flicks, traveling, and karate. As a 5′1″ Shotokan black belt, she firmly believes that fierce things come in small packages.
Yelena Casale was born in Kiev, Ukraine and came to New York when she was 13, which gave her a great perspective into two very different cultures. Being very curious and inquisitive, she’s always been an avid reader with a wide range of literary interests. Writing has been Yelena’s passion since she first learned to write, and it only grew over time. Yelena is especially fond of reading and writing urban fantasy and paranormal romance. The world of vampires, shifters, angels and demons is a wonderful way to escape the mundane and lets her imagination run wild.
Yelena has two degrees from New York University, and has spent over a decade learning from New York City’s diverse atmosphere.
Martial Arts has always been Yelena’s other love through the years. She has a second degree black belt in Shotokan Karate (a traditional Japanese karate style) and helps teach at her husband’s dojo. In Yelena’s books, you will see many influences from martial arts, not only in the fight scenes, but in the philosophies and motives of the characters throughout the stories.
I never heard her utter a kind word to him.
Not once did he say a word against her.
Anna and Herb had been married for fifty one years when I met them.
Her attitude towards her husband took some adjusting to.
Until one day at lunch.
Anna was the stronger of the two, as well as the bossier.
I listened to the litany of complaints directed towards her husband.
“Did you get any of that food in your mouth?” Anna snapped.
“You do own a comb, right?”
“You need to eat better. Leave that cookie alone and eat your vegetables.”
Through it all, Herb smiled sweetly at his wife.
Reached out a palsied hand to pat her knee from his bed.
Herb had never been strong.
He spent much of his time in bed.
Suddenly, I saw it.
That while Anna’s mouth was still working.
Herb didn’t hear any of it.
He loved her.
As Anna loved him.
Despite her harsh words and apparent condescension.
Anna’s thin, wrinkled hands showed how she really felt.
They shook only a little as she gently wiped the soup from Herb’s face.
And while it took her a little time to stand up.
Anna shuffled over to retrieve a comb.
The angle wasn’t good from my point of view.
But I watched still.
I could see Herb smiling adoringly up at her as Anna carefully combed his snow white hair.
With only a little difficulty, Anna settled back into her chair.
Then she gruffly shoved the chocolate chip cookies she had saved from her lunch to him.
Even though he hadn’t touched his vegetables.
Herb had a notorious sweet tooth.
Well Anna knew it.
Herb caught pneumonia a few months later.
I was there when he died.
And I had no idea what we were going to do about Anna.
We didn’t have to do a thing.
“He came to say goodbye to me in my dreams last night” Anna had said quietly.“He said he was waiting for me.”
Herb didn’t wait long.
Anna died three weeks later.
I missed them both.
But I didn’t grieve.
Herb was a good man.
A good groom to have waiting for Anna.
Many grooms must walk ahead of their brides.
Before turning to welcome them home.
I had the real privilege of reading Shadow Born, and I was absolutely floored by her talent. Like the Avengers (I’m a comic book/movie geek, okay?) Shadow Born sucked me in and wouldn’t let me go until I’d reached the last page…and of course, I immediately wanted more. Nicole omits in her bio how hilarious she is on Twitter @NicolShadowbled, where I love chatting with her and trying to get spoilers for the next book, and of course, you can find her on her site, sites.google.com/site/shadowbled/
Author Nicole Camp has written three books to be published by Entranced
Her first book, SHADOW BORN will release October 14, 2013, followed by
SHADOW THRONE, then the first novel in another series, THE LADY OF ISPA :
MAGIC AND MERU.
Nicole is an ice cream lover, who lives in Arizona with her family and two
pets. She is always tirelessly working on her next book. When not writing,
she likes to explore the world through amateur photography, snapping
pictures of her surroundings.