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Blind Raise: A Poem by Shelley Robinson

7 Nov

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Inclinations: A Poem by Shelley Robinson

7 Nov

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The Finnish Sauna 101 (Pronounced Sowna) by Shelley Robinson

7 Nov

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Leonard’s Escape: A Short Story by Shelley Robinson

7 Nov

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Leonard:  The Journalist

Writing Prompt:  “Resurrection”:

I saw the body of a woman with her arms spread eagle, and her hair feathering out around her at the bottom of the pool.  How had I missed this? I jumped into action, blowing the whistle, and commanding everyone out of the pool.  My military officer’s voice of authority came back to me.  I dove into the calm underwater, reached her still body, and pulled her onto the deck. 

I had never rescued anyone.  I had been a father, and was not able to save my daughter, Vivienne, who had died when she was five.  I leaned over this woman, frightened for both of us as the crowd watched us battle for her life.  I breathed into her several times, and with relief, saw her chest rise and her eyes flutter.  I rolled her to her side so she could wretch out everything that had attempted to drown her.  Her daughter sat beside us, and I could hear her whimpering in alarm contemplating life without a mother.  The resurrection of this woman from one who could not breathe to one who could, was miraculous.  It was the one time in my life where I had been a hero, and I remember every second of it with crystal clarity.

Leonard was satisfied with his words after reading them over a couple of times like he had edited his thoughts when he was a journalist.  He waited for the others to finish their writing.  He always loved the sound of pens on paper in this little writing group.  For a few hours, once a week, he felt like he belonged somewhere important.  Interestingly, his son had taken to writing as well.  He was his only other child with a girlfriend from the States which was a lifetime ago.  Through Adam’s childhood, they visited once or twice a year, sometimes in Canada, and often in the States.  As a result, they had grown to appreciate each other through travelling in ways that normal father-son relationships did not allow.

Leonard looked over to see Sarah, another writing group member.  Her red hair and green eyes reminded him of what his ginger daughter might have looked like later in the life had she had the opportunity to live.  She had fallen overboard on one of his sailing trips with he and her mother.  Their marriage never survived the devastating loss of their only child together.

Sarah: The Teacher

Writing Prompt:  “Awe-Inspiring”:

…I remember the sunset on the Grand Canyon.  It brought to life the magnificence and the enormity of this wonder of the world.  It changed the hues of the rock as it descended into darkness transforming from atomic tangerine, to coral, to burnt sienna, and then in its final declaration of light, to glorious luminescent sinopia.  No painter would ever really be able to capture it.  I have tried.  It is impossible.  

Now, I sit on the little veranda in this little town and watch the clouds shape the colours in their rippled striation.  Every single awe-inspiring evening dazzles me with a different light show.  Then the curtain of light closes, and my heart applauds.

Sarah:  The Bank

She deposited her cheque, withdrew some cash from the bank machine, and then grabbed the receipt.  It was considerably more money than she could remember depositing.  Had she made a mistake?  She quickly reviewed her statement.  She put her card in again, and looked back through her banking history.  Fourteen thousand and forty-four dollars was deposited last Monday.  How could this be?  She walked into the bank to speak with a teller who reviewed the situation in detail.  Someone had deposited the money in cash.

“How did this person know my account information?” she asked, feeling exposed.

“They likely never knew your account number, but likely gave us your name and some details, and offered it as a gift to your account.  It is legal.  If it had been over fifty-thousand dollars, we would be obligated to notify you, but in this case, it was not necessary.”

“So, there is no way to track it?”

“No.”

She gathered up all of the statements that they had printed out for her, and left the bank in a daze.  Who would give her such a substantial amount of money?  Would there be unknown strings attached to such an anonymous monetary gift?  Would someone show up on her doorstep and expect something in return?

Leonard:  The Boat

Every time it came time to finally launch his boat, some other matters came up.  His son would phone up and talk him out of it.  Adam was irritatingly sensible which was probably why, Leonard concluded, Adam was still not married.  Or, Leonard’s friend would fall ill and go into the hospital and need a visit.  Or, he had to collect clothes from the laundromat, or food from the grocery store.  Eventually, he would lose his nerve wondering if it was truly the right decision to simply sail away into the sunset.

He had an Island Packet Long Keel Cutter 35 and named her Gloria.  It was the Volvo of sailboats, boxy, not sexy, but very safe and comfortable.  It had been a lot of work restoring sections of it over the last few years, in an effort to finally get off the grid away from this little town.  Escaping had become his primary reason for living lately.  He wanted to feel alive again.  It was time to feel the pulse in his veins that had become shallow and unpredictable.  He wanted to explore some of the world that remained open to him like a gaping question mark.  Most importantly, he wanted to know himself again because he had become lost in this old body that housed a young man’s heart.

Sarah:  The Survivor

Every week she attended a writing group.  This eclectic group of creative writers met in a little community hall that was built when this little quintessential BC hippie town was first built by a paper mill company in the early 1900s.  The Douglas Fir floors creaked under the weight of her feet as she moved carefully through its hall carrying coffee and loaf cake to her seat.  Each week, she was ready to sit around the old wooden table with eight or so other members who came to free-write with their journals and pens in hand.  They were given a writing prompt by Fran who was the leader of the group who then carefully timed them for ten minutes to compose something out of thin air.  “Time” she would call out in her loud deep voice when it was time to stop writing.

It had been the one morning every week that Sarah would force herself out of bed.  She was always five minutes late no matter what her efforts to be punctual had been.  It was a struggle to get moving in a life where she no longer had any real time commitments.  She chose to move to this small town to be near the ocean, and the woods where she could breathe better, rest and rediscover herself.  Recently, every time she looked into the mirror, she stared deeply into the tired eyes of a societal burn out.  She now had time that had never really been afforded to her in her previous educator’s life composed of bottom lines, deadlines and front lines.  She now sat dormant on the sidelines in the grey weather of the Canadian West Coast where she came face to face with herself.

She wrote in order to preserve her sanity and to ward off a sense of purposelessness, isolation and depression that threatened to devour her each and every day.  She was not the only person healing in this eclectic group.  Leonard was the oldest member.  He was in his eighties, and had been first an officer in the military; then a journalist; next a commercial diver; and finally, a recluse on one of the Gulf Islands where he jokingly described his profession as selling pot out of the back of his motorcycle.

Leonard was an articulate writer who spoke softly of his plans to escape this town.  Sometimes he wrote about sailing away on a boat he had been building and harbouring nearby for over a decade—Gloria.  At other times, he told them about his motor cycle and his plans to drive down into the States to visit his family, and then camp along the beaches of the Oregon Coast.  The group quickly learned that there was always some sad delay with his boat, or his bike, that prevented him from launching his dreams.

What Sarah learned was that no one in the group really aspired to publish, and as a result, there was no real expectation to critique each other.  Instead, these people let down their masques and disclosed intimate details of their lives in this profoundly free writing.   It was here where she started to heal.  She did not disclose much about herself because she felt like an imposter in her own life.  These people made space at the table; welcomed her warmly when she arrived; and listened to her intently when she read aloud.

Leonard:  The Motorbike

Writing Prompt:  “Roadways”:

I had found the perfect two-man tent that would fit nicely into the saddle of the motor bike.  I have done a ton of upgrades to my Road King.  It is more than just a lot of chrome.  Last week, I put on a new rear tire with lots of tread.  It has seen miles of highway, this motor bike.  I think that it is ready to hit the road again, and I phoned my son to let him know that I am coming down.  He talked about us getting over to the Grand Canyon which has always been my favourite place to go. 

The roadways always feel good to me under a motorbike with a good engine.  When I am heading somewhere with my helmet on, and my gear stowed behind me, I know that my life has purpose and adventure.  I like not knowing what will happen next.  

The thing about travelling is that when I travel, I miss home.  This is the harsh reality of the traveller.  There is the tugging of the heart to leave and the pulling of the mind to return to its comfort zones, just like canaries that fly back into their cages when they are released…

After the writing group, Leonard walked downtown.  Without really remembering how, he found himself on the town ferry without much money and no real destination.  He just sat comfortably in a seat looking out over the water.  The captain announced a sighting of a pod of Orca on the starboard side.  They breached for quite a few minutes right in front of him.  They were marvellous in their enormity.

Sarah:  The Departure

“Where is Leonard?” she asked.

“He was put into the hospital because he was caught wandering.  He has been struggling with the onset of dementia for quite awhile and his behaviour has become unpredictable,” one of the members who knew him well, explained.

They talked quietly, contemplating the writing group without Leonard.  “Will he need anything?  Should we be visiting him or sending him anything?”  Silently they contemplated their own cognitive mortality.

“I think he is being assessed, and will be medicated.  The hospital is likely the best place for him to be right now,” Anna reassured us.  “There aren’t many places for someone like Leonard here in town.”

Sarah sat listening to the gentle rhythm of people reading their weekly devotions.  This little community hall had become her church, and this group, its spiritual congregation.  Their religion was the written word.  They wrote to prove their existence.  Leonard shone here.

Adam:  The Visitor

He came up the steps and found her sitting, enjoying some morning coffee and sunshine on her veranda overlooking the water.  Her hair was wild with curls, and she was wearing her favourite flannel pyjamas.  She did a double-take when he showed up.  He looked familiar.

“I’m Leonard’s son, Adam,” he announced awkwardly.  He set down a parcel by the door and came over.  He looked around at the view of the ocean in front of them.  He was the spitting younger image of Leonard with dark red hair, blue eyes, and fewer wrinkles.

He sat next to her and got straight to the point, “Leonard passed away.”

“I’m so sorry,” she gasped, taken back, pausing to find the right words to continue.

“He wanted me to give this to you.  He said that you would appreciate this painting.”   The artwork leapt out at her with vibrant intensity.  She could visualize the exact spot from which this artist had rendered this perfect twilight moment on the rocky ledge above the canyon.  Someone had actually been able to capture the colours and light of this beautiful place on canvass.

“Did your father leave me some money in my account?”

“Probably.  Money was always showing up in my account too.  It is his MO.  He explained that you would sometimes drive him home from writing class.  To be honest, I think he loved how you wrote about travelling. Now that I see you, I think you remind him of Vivienne.”

“Yes, he told me.”  They sat transfixed with the masterpiece in front of them.  “Thank you for bringing it over.”

He struggled with his story. “I got my love of motor bikes from Dad.  Anyway, I thought I would come and pick him up and we would just hit the road.  When I showed up, he barely recognized who I was.  I said, ‘Pops, let’s do that road trip’.  I remember looking over at him sitting beside me with his helmet and a big grin on his face like a small child.  He didn’t care that it had come down to me driving and him sitting in a side car.  He was just so happy to finally be on the highway.

“It sounds so good,” she squeezed his hand.

“But, he didn’t wake up at the US border.”  Adam wiped his face with his hand.  “We rushed him to the hospital, but he had passed away somewhere on the last part of our trip.  He left me everything—what is left of it anyway, and his treasures.”

“And Gloria?”

He nodded.  “…and he mentioned that you loved the Grand Canyon and should have the painting.  I asked around to find out where you lived.”

He stood up to leave.  She was as startled to see him go as she was to have him arrive, and felt disappointed.   They both hesitated about how to end their brief encounter.  “Thank you for bringing it by.”

He walked down the steps, and turned around.  “What do think about going for a sail?”

via Leonard’s Escape: A Short Story by Shelley Robinson

Pressed: Sailing Home: A Short Story by Shelley Robinson

29 Mar

 

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via Sailing Home by Shelley Robinson

Pressed: Goal Posts: Reflection by Shelley Robinson

28 Dec

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via Goal Posts: Reflection by Shelley Robinson

Pressed: Focal Points: Reflection by Shelley Robinson

28 Dec

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via Focal Points: Reflection by Shelley Robinson