Tea Room Memories

Like Polaroid snapshots dropped one by one on a table, new memories replace the former. The static, scratchy broadcast of a cheap FM radio which sits high on a shelf behind the ice cream counter adds to the evening din; made worse by the surrounding mountain peaks that bounce the signal. The weak antenna draws intermittent snips, broken pieces of Bennie and the Jets and Love me Like a Rock, but even then, only if the weather is clear and still.

The slam of a screen door and footfalls on the wooden floor in the stagnant summer air evoke visions of a Tea Room where no one drinks tea. A single oscillating fan aided by two ineffective paddle fans force air movement. Vacationers gather to eat sundaes, play checkers or assemble puzzles together.

The adults tap bragging rights, sharing the year’s accomplishments of their children. “Bradley got straight A’s again this year. He won the spelling bee, he’s captain of the championship baseball team, still sings in the choir at church, and since he’s going into sixth grade this year, he’s a shoo-in for the lead in the winter play.  How’s Gregory doing?”

In hushed tones they share gossip. “Did you hear about how that Nick got Susan Wilson—preg.”

“Shush. His mother is coming in just now.”

Occasional titters punctuated with sudden blasts of uncontrolled laughter suggest shared off-color jokes. “Maybe you kids ought to go play shuffleboard for a while.”

The children finish their sundaes and rush outside to the shed beside the courts to turn on the lights and reach through cobwebs for poles and discs, vying for red sticking the opponent with dull black. The buzzing white lights draw swarms of gnats that dip and sway occasionally bombarding eyes of the competitors.

Later, gentle commands float on the humidity from the edges of the yard beside the Tea Room. “Fifteen more minutes. Last game! Remember to put the poles and discs back in the shed.”

Then, “Turn off the lights now. Grab your flashlights. Let’s go.”

Together they plod along the path that leads into the mountain dark back to the cabin.

 

Mind Reader

Prompt: If you had the power to read minds for one day before you went crazy from all the chatter, how would you use your mind-reading powers for good?

Days pass when the chatter of people carrying on inane conversations make me want to flip the off switch.

The 24/7 technological connectedness amplifies this condition and I imagine that reading minds would be yet a further amplification.  Except that while so-called “good” thoughts would be added to the mix, so too would the lies, the untruths and harsh realities.

I admit this would require growing an extra layer (or layers) of my already thick skin as a buffer against vitriol. However, I prefer to think I’d  take the high road as a clairvoyant and offer advice to those with negative proclivities.

photo courtesy: Huffington Post
photo courtesy: Huffington Post

People, in my experience, can often be their own worst critics. I imagine someone with plenty of talent but low on self-esteem pondering thoughts like: “I’ll never be good enough to make a living as an artist (or baker, or chauffeur, or deputy sheriff…)”

I’d inquire first as to the source of this belief. I have found that with reasonably regular frequency, when questioned on nearly any topic about why they believe what they believe, people come to realize that their basis is neither logical nor sound.  It’s as if they formed an opinion early in the thought process either because someone  told them things are a certain way, or they alone came to a quick conclusion without doing real research.

Can I be an artist? Who am I comparing myself to? Why am I comparing myself to them? Do I need formalized education to achieve my goal? What skills do I possess that can help me? What or who stands in my way? How do I want to live? Am I high maintenance? Do I live in an area where I can be successful? Does geography matter? Am I a night owl or an early bird? How does that affect my ability to become who I want to be? Who can help me?

Reading another’s mind, catching and pointing out the negative and analyzing those thoughts by asking a myriad of questions can easily clear a path to the positive.  If I could read people’s minds and help them improve upon themselves, I’d consider that as “using my powers for good.”

I know what you’re thinking…

Earliest Memory

What’s your earliest memory? Dig deep. Maybe you cannot.

Sounds (music in particular), scents or tactile encounters sometimes trigger memories long since squirreled away of places or events. Browsing a flea market, I leaned in to look closely at an old pram. A whiff brought this memory from my infancy or earliest toddlerhood. I can be sure of my age because the pram in our family could only have held a child not much more than a year old due to its relative size.

photo courtesy: Pretty Willow Prop Hire
photo courtesy: Pretty Willow Prop Hire

The scent of white plastic and age drifts in the summer air unleashing a rush of pictures.

I lie on my back inside my pram looking upwards, its half shield shading my blue eyes from the bright sunshine. The thin mattress and squeaky metal springs that support the frame beneath me cushion the ride. I reach a hand to touch the white mosquito netting that protects me from insects and makes me feel safe. My eyelids fight to stay open, but the motion relaxes me.

While only fleeting, the memory remains steadfast—resurrected from the archives if only for a moment.

Maze Escape

PART III Continued from MAZE ENIGMA

Unlike the paths she has traveled, the widening one before her becomes smooth beneath her feet. The ivy thins, choked by an invisible entity that exposes the stone walls. While she remains cautious, her pace quickens. Her leg continues to ache as she picks up speed. The sound of her breathing swells nearly drowning the footfalls on the dirt beneath her feet.

She hears a humming. Glancing back over her left shoulder a drone approaches, a glowing red display shows a countdown. A robotic voice echoes, sound bouncing off the uneven face of the rocky walls: “Three minutes until detonation.”

A whirring and a breeze overtake her and the drone like a flash of lighting against a dark sky disappears as a blinding sun obscures her forward view. Brighter and brighter into the light she runs, agonizing over each step but terrified to stop.

Without warning, the ground beneath her vaporizes. She hears a disembodied, deafening scream and realizes it is her own. But like a voice encapsulated inside a steel vault, no audible noise emits into the atmosphere.

She falls, appendages flailing at first until she resigns herself to imminent death, and surrenders to the air that forces bits of hair away from her face. She stretches out her arms, abandoning any attempt to stop the inevitable until, unexpectedly, she slows. Time seems to stop.

jelloIn slow-motion she passes into an unfamiliar gelatinous realm, neither air nor water. She can barely breathe, the cold blueness in her lungs.

TO BE CONTINUED…