Tuesday, January 1

New Years

This year I've only made two resolutions:

1.  Complain less - I have a great life, so I've got to do more to look at it that way.

2.  Write something every day.

As part of my second resolution, I'll be posting bits of stuff I'm working on here on the blog.  This will hopefully push me to keep my second resolution and provide updates/something to read for the faithful few that continue to stop by. 

Today's posting comes from a story I've posted part of before.  I didn't write anything new for it, per se, but I made some edits and additions.  I'd really like to focus on this story in particular and get it finished.  I began writing it during a vacation to California and I've sort of put it on a shelf, but it's to/about/for my children and I want to get somewhere with it for them.  There is other stuff before and after this section, but I was working on it tonight and figured it was as good a place as any to begin my resolution.

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Josh only realized how hungry he was when wisps of steam starting floating out of the shining copper pots and into the cavern.  It smelled good – no, it smelled fantastic – and Josh was ravenous with hunger now that he thought about it. 
His stomach gave a great, wild lurch and Carly laughed where she played in the fairy dust.

“Are you hungry Josh boy?” she said, picking up Gremelda’s name for him.  Blister gave a tinkling laugh, glitter raining down onto Carly’s head and catching in her tight curls.  It almost looked like she had put on a glittering crown.

“I’m starving!” he said.  He was sitting in one of the overstuffed chairs, a blue one with tattered arms patched in red.  “What are you making Gremelda?”
Gremelda was whistling over the steaming pots, stirring noisily and lifting lids to purposely let out the strong, spicy smells.  She inhaled deeply and Josh thought, for a moment, he saw her tiny feet lift off the ground.  But then he blinked and she was firmly settled on the stone floor.

“Toad nose, pickled moss, and worm drippings!”  Gremelda answered, gleeful, and smacked her lips.
“Eww!” Carly wrinkled her little nose, but she was smiling, expecting a joke.

Josh wasn’t so sure.
Mom picked a careful path about the room, examining the myriad of objects but touching nothing.   It didn’t seem like she had heard, but it was hard to tell.  Her face was as smooth as the stone, unreadable.

“Much is not changing in The Deep,” said Gremelda said conversationally in mom’s direction.  Mom did not reply.
Gremelda was drawing things out of her apron pockets as she cooked.  Some things she dropped into the pots, stirring wildly before snapping the lid back on with force.  Other things she shoved onto overburdened shelves above the stove.  It was hard to tell the new things from the old. 

“Much never changes,” she added after a moment and drew out a silver spoon from one of the pots.  It was overflowing with stringy looking noodles and oddly shaped foods – at least Joshua hoped they were food.  Gremelda blew on it and took a bite.  “We is almost ready, Turt.  Where the table is today?”
Turtle had been sleeping on Josh’s feet, half on one and occasionally licking the other.  His head perked up and he unrolled his spindly legs before tottering over to a junk stuffed corner.  With his two front legs he pulled out the flat square of a dilapidated folding table, the blue vinyl cover peeling back to reveal brown particle board and metal.  Josh was sure the pile of junk above the table would collapse but it stayed intact, held up seemingly by the brute force of things shoved together. 

“Gets up and help, Josh boy.  Turtle’s just small you know, barely a Turt at all.”
Josh clamored out of the chair and helped Turtle open the rickety legs and set the table upright.  Carly brought over a white wooden chair, pink paint showing where the white had chipped off, and set it down before running to find another.  Soon there were three more mismatched chairs around the table - one green chair with a wobbly leg, a blue chair with an embroidered cushion that was losing  its thread, and a dark cherry-wood chair with slats missing from its slatted back.  Carly had deftly drawn them all out from the walls of junk, wholly unafraid of the piles caving in.  Mom set the table with a pile of dishes Gremelda gave her.  It was a fully matched set in mustardy yellow with a strange caricature of a drooling dog painted in a repeating pattern.  Josh added the utensils – one setting was a set of ornate chopsticks, another was a shrimp fork and baby’s silver spoon, the third was a pair of salad tongs, and the final place was a spoon and fork carved from ivory.  Carly immediately claimed the blue chair and chopsticks, hopping up eagerly to her place. 

Dinner, once prepared, was an overflowing conglomeration of dishes covered with silver domes and steam leaking out from beneath the lids.  Strangely the steam, which had been milky white while it issued from the copper pots, now leaked out in myriad of bright colors.  Pink from a large porcelain soup tureen, orange from a long shallow serving plate of gold, lime green from a salad bowl with a slot in the silver cover for tongs, and a scary color of black from a small square brown dish with an ornately painted design – among others. Gremelda set at least 20 hot dishes on the table, Josh began to worry that the table might collapse under the weight and they barely had any room left for their plates.  His brown eyes were very wide as Gremelda pulled herself up to the table in the wobbly green chair.  Josh noticed her apron was gone, replaced with an overlarge red checkered napkin that was tucked into her collar.  She rubbed her hands together, smiling her gap-toothed smile so wide that her wrinkled face looked almost like a scrunched up piece of paper. 
“Shall I say grace, Mother?” asked Gremelda folding her age-spotted hands together tightly and bowing her head.  A mass of curls fell forward onto her forehead.

Josh and Carly folded their arms across their chests, mom’s hands were folded in her lap.  Even Turtle crossed his two front legs and let his round head drop.  Blister was busy filing her nails and couldn’t be bothered, turning her back to the group.
Josh was expecting it, somehow, when Gremelda yelled “GRACE!” at the top of her lungs, the grating and gleeful sound bounced and echoed through the cavern room, shaking the stalactite crystals and pushing glitter out of the bottom of Blister’s cage.  The piles moved ominously beneath the sound, but held, groaning.  Josh smothered a laugh behind his hand, his eyes flickering to mom’s face.  He expected her to be annoyed or angry, but she smiled at him instead and pulled the shining cover of the soup tureen.  Her face vanished behind a puff of pink steam, dissipating with a burst of laughter from around the table.

Josh was still laughing when mom dished the first spoonful of sugar coated gumdrops onto his plate.  His eyes darted from the stack of glistening gumdrops to mom’s face and back again, expecting mom to notice the mistake and snatch the plate away.  Instead she dropped another colorful scoop of gumdrops onto Carly’s plate and offered some to Gremelda before dishing out a serving for herself.  Carly was pulling the covers off the other dishes with eager hands, colorful steam gushing out and rising into the endless chasm above like balloons cut loose.  Pizza was piled high, chocolate truffles mounded in a heap, gummy worms peeked (perhaps even wiggled) in crushed cookie and pudding dirt, and éclairs swam in rivers of caramel and chocolate with cream oozing from their golden tips.
“Eat up!” clucked Gremelda, her own plate already piled high with sweets.  Turtle was munching on a piece of pizza, sauce clinging to his round cheek and chocolate truffles tucked between the joints of his legs.  He made a strange almost purring sound as he ate. 

Josh was still expecting his mom’s face to bloom with anger or annoyance or – what was it parents usually felt when something fun was happening?
Oh, yes – concern.

But, mom was eating now, chewing deliberately on a gooey éclair.  Chocolate stained her fingers and lips.  “Eat Joshua,” she said, pointing to his plate with her shrimp fork.  “It’s ok.”  She met his brown eyes with a steady, unflinching gaze and took another bite.

1 comment:

Mistylynn said...

Smiles all around!