A Tiny Bit of Love 17 April 2018

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She sat at her desk and graded. But she brooded over that conversation with her dad. Prayers were said before bed every night and songs of faith sung as they fed cattle or horses or she road along with him in the tractor working the field, and they’d driven the thirty miles to town when they could to attend church. Marlee’s faith in God had always been there, a part of her that kept her strong and brought her joy. But that was before they’d had to rent out their ground, sell most of the cattle, and before she’d had to watch as her dad fought the cancer.

Her guitar sat in a layer of dust and the black stand had a greyish color to it. “Won’t you sing for me?” he’d say. But she’d tell him that the strings were worn and needed to be replaced and she just hadn’t had time to get to it. When the cancer had come back after all that prayer and pleading with God, Marlee felt that rock solid faith pulverized and broken into tiny bits. The fierce prairie winds had carried it off and now it was fodder for badgers digging holes in the ditches.

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A Tiny Bit of Love 12 April 2018

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“Marlee, where are you girl?”

“Sorry dad. I was just thinking.” Setting her bowl on the bedside table, Marlee smiled into her father’s brown eyes. Eli Riverstone had been a handsome man. She could still see that in the strong bones of his face and the easy way his lips could still curve into a smile.

“The egg was delicious. I think you’re finally getting the hang of this cooking thing.” It was a joke he loved to share about every other day, because Marlee had been cooking his breakfast since he’d taught her as a little girl.

“Must not have been that good. Look at all you left, and who was it that taught me to waste not, want not?”

“Well, I did pretty good today. You can’t complain. Now, what are you thinking so hard about?”

“Nothing really, just my students.”

“Don’t you try to buffalo me. I might’a been born at night, but it wasn’t last night. Take it to the Lord, girl. Leave your burdens there and the answer will come.” Marlee got up to clear away the tray without responding. Eli put a hand on her arm, “Girl, I mean it. The Lord knows best in all things.”

Marlee smiled and nodded without meeting his eyes and left with the tray. Putting it on the kitchen counter, and taking a deep breath, she came back to the bedroom doorway, “You want some help to get into the chair, Dad?”

“Not just yet. Let me rest a while.”

“Right. I’m come check on you in a bit. Love you.”

“I love you too, kiddo.”

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A Tiny Bit More Because, Love… 10 April 2018

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Easing her dad’s bedroom door open, she set the tray on the bedside table, opened the blinds for him and helped him to ease himself up as she placed the pillows behind him for support. She leaned in to kiss his cheek, “How was your night, Dad?”

His lips moved to form a smile. “Just fine.” His voice was always gravely now, the deepness she remembered was still there, but softer and subdued.

“I want you to eat the egg and at least one piece of the toast.” She settled the tray on his lap, flipping the little stands down on either side of his legs.

“Yes M’am.”

Sitting in the rocker placed next to his bed, Marlee reached for the bowl of oatmeal she’d put on the tray. He could eat on his own, but sharing meals was something they’d always done, so she preferred to sit with him and eat her breakfast. Later she’d help him into the wheel chair so he could have some independence to move about their home.

While she ate, she tried to record the details of her father. The cancer had aged him, well, the treatment really. Finished with another round of chemo, he was slowly regaining some strength, but still needed to put more weight on. Marlee cooked all of his favorites, attempting to entice him to eat more. She’d be lucky if he finished the egg and half a piece of toast, but she’d take it.

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Because, Love… 5 April 2018

So this is still the same story and you can read it all so far by going back to Beginnings, but what do you think of this title: Because, Love…

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She finally moved to plug in the phone and head into her bedroom to shower and let the day bring whatever it would. Dressed and with a hot cup of coffee, Marlee pushed the little toggle switch to turn on her desk lamp, opened her laptop and began to sort through the day’s work. The sun wouldn’t be up for another hour at least, if it even decided to show its face in this steely gray cold.

Checking to see how much work had been submitted over night by her middle and high school students, she decided she had time to work on her story. Setting the lap top aside, Marlee opened the soft sided journal and reread the last part she’d written:

Olivia went to college because, well, that’s just what you do, she supposed. It seemed to be expected so she went. She kept quietly to herself, got close to no one, and studied English. It was a nice quiet routine and one that she could conceal herself in very well.

But her college required a semester’s study abroad. This was to build “a more well-rounded” student, whatever that meant. Olivia went off to Scotland. She was placed with a local family and enjoyed their bustle all around her.

When spring came, they took her into the Highlands to see some of the country. Walking down a forested path, she found herself alone in the quiet as the family trounced on ahead of her. There was something different here, she felt some kind of alive in these woods.

Marlee continued to detail Olivia’s experience in those Highland woods, when she realized

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that dawn had come and the fog outside the window where her desk sat was beginning to dissipate. It cast a moon-like glow onto the pages. Stretching, she knew that would have to be enough for now and she set about fixing a bit of breakfast. Toast and an egg for her dad, and some of that instant gingerbread oatmeal for herself.

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A Tiny Bit More 3 April 2018

I’m searching for a title…ideas?

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Today, of all days, she wanted to believe in something. This day marked her at a quarter of a century old; she felt older. Marlee didn’t regret coming back home after college. She loved the long and empty pastures and fields. The seasons were plain to see: white snow in winter, the bright green of spring, the ripening yellow wheat of summer, and the deep brown of fall. Her own season was browning like fall, going dormant and empty and draining her a little at a time.

Her father hadn’t asked her to come home, but it’d been there in his voice when he’d told her that he was too weak to travel for her graduation. He’d said he be getting stronger soon. And she didn’t come straight away. Comfortable in the college town where she’d spent four years, she found a job teaching and hoped  to make something of her writing.

But it soon became clear that she had to come home. There was no one else. Her whole life it had been Marlee and her dad. She didn’t even really know what had happened to her mom and she rarely thought to ask her dad about it, not since she was a little girl. Oh, he’d comment now and then that her dark brown hair was the same color as her mother’s, or that he didn’t know where Marlee’s blue eyes had come from because his were brown and so were her mother’s. She had his crooked nose and long fingers but was just average height like her mother.

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Her father had never remarried. He’d never even dated anyone. But around here, there wasn’t really anyone to date. She and her dad were a team. That’s what he told her and that’s what she believed. So, there was something she believed.

She stood there, leaning on the counter. The soggy head gear hanging from her right hand while her gloved left hand held tight to the dead cell phone. Pulling in a shaky breath, Marlee stared out the kitchen window seeing nothing but cold grey fog.

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Going On 29 March 2018

Continuing from yesterday (Beginnings 28 March 2018) and hoping for more comments:

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Slowing to walk the last quarter-mile north, the ice that covered her crackled. She couldn’t see the little teardrop shaped lights, faerie lights, that hung on the bottom branches of the huge pine tree standing guard over the old dug out. Stepping off the dirt and onto the narrow sidewalk, she slid her way to the door and let herself out of the eerie frozen fog and into the relative warmth, and at least dry, of the garage.

The thin fleece face mask had iced itself to her ear-band and skull-cap. Pulling them off as one, they stood stiff on the bench where she put them while she got the little nail to dig the gravel out of the bottom of her Nike’s. Whoever thought of putting all those tiny troughs on the tread, never ran on dirt roads.

Finished and ready to walk across the dark silent floors, she picked up the stiff head-gear and quietly opened the door, going into the house. Easing the storm door closed as she stepped onto the mat, she pushed the thick door shut behind her, gently turning the brass knob to close it. The quiet was habit, born from so many days of repetition in order not to wake him.

Her father was a man of routine, and she long ago learned not to disturb his early morning sleep by letting the storm door slam shut as it invariably did if you didn’t guide it. Did it matter anymore? She didn’t think so, but all the same, she never took a chance. He rarely woke up at all anymore, the sickness having gnawed him to almost nothing.

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She froze by the tall counter of the kitchen island. Straining, the sound she’d heard was barely there, a kind of humming and soughing, like delicate wings moving against each other and emitting some kind of harmony: a chord or the tiny whisper of something. She lost it but stood as still as that cold layer of fog, longing for the warmth of that sound, that consonance.

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Beginnings 28 March 2018

I’d love some feedback on this beginning. What do you like? Not like? Where do you see it going? Thoughts?

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The fog settled just above the road. She could see her feet, but it was like they were disembodied from the world. It was the invisible man with feet. Cold clung in icy drops to her eyebrows and lashes. Taking off one wool mitten to see why her phone had stopped playing the novel she was listening to, she could feel the slick ice frozen to her nylon sleeves.

Leaving the house to walk in the light of the setting moon, she’d forgotten to wrap the phone in the fleece warmer and it had frozen in the cold wind. The battery didn’t enjoy cold walks in the dark, especially with a twenty mile-an-hour wind blowing through the thin nylon pocket that protected it.

Oh well, it gave her more time to think. There are those who wondered what she needed so much time to think about and why she insisted on this long journey every day, but no one could know her demons, her desires, her dreams, or her dread. The novel distracter her, but in ways that helped her too. The seer had just relayed a vision of pain and death to the small group of friends charged with restoring light to a dark world before the darkness took over completely.

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She thought she could use that, somehow, in her own story. But it was gone now and she was left to consider the real work waiting for her at home, her own dark thoughts that crept up out of the fog, chilling her calves through the exposed skin just above her short Smart Wool socks.

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