And Then You Were Gone
I stand by your bedside holding your hand. You had always said I would be the one standing by your side when this day came. You even said I would be the one holding your hand. Well here we are and yes I’m holding your hand. I look at your short stocky fingers limp within mine and then my gaze goes to your face.
Your face, even though it has been ravage by the disease, still holds its charm. I wish I could look into your eyes one more time. If only you would open them and I could see that sparkle that was always there even as you came to the end of your journey. What I wouldn’t give to see that Elvis quirk on your lip when you smiled. I used to tease you about how women would chase you. A short stocky man with a badly balding head and still women flocked to you. I would give you such a hard time over that but I have to tell you, I did get it. You were capable of charming a bird out of a tree and you had a magnetism few had. Yes I got it, I simply would never tell you that because your head was big enough.
I can’t help but think about all the years we shared. Our dad passing away when we were so young and you trying to take his place. Oh how I hated you at times. You were determined you were going to play dad and I was just as determined that you weren’t. We fought like cats and dogs. You poor thing, you carried my marks on you more than once when we locked horns. Well if nothing else big brother you taught me to stand my ground and defend myself so that one is on you. Never once though did you ever lay a hand on me in anger. Well there was that one time you turned me over your knee and I totally deserved it. Funny thing was you ended up crying harder than me over that one. Anyway all I can say about all of it is, you must have had the patience of Job.
When we got older we still fought on occasion but never as we had when we were young. We mellowed with age I guess. We also became more than brother and sister. We became friends. We shared our darkest secrets with one another. Oh you were still a pain in my side but I wouldn’t change that. Some of my very best arguments I had with you. You were so funny when you got mad. Absolute reasoning wasn’t your strong suit. I loved the way you would huff and puff and draw up your shoulders when you stomped away. Even now the image makes me smile.
How long have I stood here? I don’t even know. I look at your face for some sign that you are still inside that body and there is nothing. Oh you still breathe but it is a slow, shallow, labored breathing. There’s no movement in your facial muscles, no twitching of your eyelids. I wonder if you know I’m even here.
Suddenly your mouth opens and I think you’re are about to say something but that isn’t it. It has come. The end. You take your last final breath and everything is still.
For some reason I look up and you’re standing there facing the door. You cock your head toward me and it drops a little the way you always did when you were up to something. I see you standing there in your uniform and you’re smiling at me. I can see through you but there is that smile and those big blue eyes with all their sparkle. I see you. Suddenly you straighten up as if you have come to attention and turn your face back toward the door. For some reason you light up and then as if you take a deep breath and an even bigger smile crosses your face, you exit the room.
I walked out of your room and out onto a large upper veranda there at the hospital and as soon as I’m out the door I fall to my knees screaming your name. I cry until there is nothing left inside me. Not even when our parents died did I cry like this. You are gone and nothing will ever take your place big brother, my friend.
It has been over five years since that day and every now and again in the quiet moments I will catch the scent of your cologne. You are with me still.
I love you big brother.
I have to say here that a very talented young woman inspired this story. I love her like my own and I'm so proud of the young woman she has become. He would be proud of you too.
If anyone ever tells you writing is easy they’re lying to you. It isn’t easy to write. As a matter of fact it is probably one of the hardest things you can ever do. Oh if it was just a matter of sitting down and putting words to paper, yes anyone can do that. It is when you decide to be a serious writer that things start to get hard. I’m not talking about mildly irritating, I’m talking mind numbingly, painfully, unbelievably, heartbreakingly hard.
You work to get your story together, and that alone isn’t easy whether it’s a short story or a novel although with a novel depending on the size the longer it gets the harder it gets, you have to start on all the other things involved.
You’ll sit and read, reread, then read it again. Once you are somewhat happy with it you’ll pass it on to someone to proof. After that you go for the editing. Now if you trust your proofer and editor you will go from there to formatting if you’re an indie writer. Piece of advice here, don’t trust anyone. Remember this is your baby and you want to make sure that everyone has done right by it. Also remember no one is perfect any more than you are so read your work again after you get it back from all the people it has had to pass through to get back to you.
Once you have that little darling back into your own two little hands and you have read it yet again and if everything is all right if you’re an indie writer you are ready for the formatting part. If you’re good at this then you’re looking at about 3 to 4 hours of mind blowing work. If you’re not good then make sure your fridge and pantry are well stocked before you start because it could take a few days. Sorry. Of course here you can take the easy way out and hand it over to yet another person to format and you don’t have to worry about that part.
OK you know have it formatted what do you do now. You sit with your finger over the upload button trying to get up enough courage to hit that little rectangular little box on your screen asking yourself if you’re ready for this. Anyone that hasn’t done that is one or all of the following. They are really confident, unbelievably naive, an established well know author, or they are just plain damn crazy. For me as for being a nervous wreck through the whole process especially with the first book.
Of course somewhere in between writing the darn thing you will hand it over to a few people to read so you can get a take on it. This isn’t a bad thing but remember not everyone is going to like what you wrote and if they are honest they are going to tell you so.
For those who offer well-meaning criticism remember this. Everything is suggestive. What one person tells you may not and probably will not be the same thing you hear from another. I may love what I read and will tell you so but someone else might not or might find flaws in your work. When that happens remind yourself that you have to take it all and weigh it with how you feel about your work. Are you happy with it? Do you feel it isn’t right? You are the one who is important. This is your work.
Above all, and I hate using this, be true to yourself. Ultimately it’s your work and you have to be happy with it. Don’t feel pressured by anyone to do anything you don’t want or are not ready for. This is your work and in a way your world and you rule it. In this you are the lord and master and you are in control.
John was the county coroner and they had all met him about seven months ago when Mary’s body had finally been found. This was a lot different now than how it had been then. Mary had been lovingly buried by her family in a hidden spot because Grayson had been so influential at the time. He had seen to it that Mary couldn’t be buried with her family at Staten Cemetery. It had resulted in a curse that followed her family for a hundred and thirty years. Between Emma inheriting the land and Mary being buried with her family the curse ended and finally peace came to both families.
Now John was back because of some poor girl who was murdered and then bumped on her property. Emma had no doubt that the girl was put there by Connors but proving that would be hard to do without the evidence to back it up.
Emma turned her gaze toward the Southwest direction and looked out at the iris fields hoping they would bloom on schedule. A soft wind was blowing the sea of green plants in soft waves exposing small flashes of lighter green from the new growth as they were exposed to the light. This sea of green would be a kaleidoscope of colors in varying hues in a short time. She didn’t know why she was thinking about this right now. It seemed to be callous of her to be having such thoughts at a time like this.
Emma now wondered how they would ever be able to pull off one wedding here little on two. Steve’s and Charlotte’s was supposed to be the second weekend in May and then Callie’s and Jeff’s the third weekend in June. How do you put enough distance between this day and those, especially with them being so close together.
She continued to take in the soft gentle motion of the irises hoping they would calm her mind and help her find an answer when she notice the figure of a young woman moving among the flowers. Emma didn’t do anything to bring attention to this person and hoped that she would fade off before someone else saw her. Mary seldom put in an appearance and usually when she did she appeared happy but now there seemed to be a cloak of sadness hanging over her. Mary looked up at Emma then she did fade out.
“Did you see her?” Alison who had been sitting next to Emma leaned in so no one else would hear her.
Emma was somewhat started by Alison’s proximity but showed no outward sign of it. “Yes, I saw her.”
“That’s not like her. Mary tends to keep a very low profile.” Alison continued to stare at the green field.
“I know. Do you think anyone else saw her?” Emma was more than a little apprehensive about that.
“Are you kidding? If my coworkers had seen her nearly everyone would be out there in that field now trying to chase her down.” Alison kind of chuckled at the thought.
Charlotte, who had been sitting across from the two younger women, couldn’t understand Alison giggling at a time like this. “Alison I don’t know what you find that’s so amusing right now but if you want to share we might all could use a laugh.”
Alison, who felt like a kid caught with her hand in a cookie jar, answered her. “I was thinking how funny it would be to see a bunch of these guys in uniform running around in a field trying to catch a ghost.”
Just Walking Home From School
When I was in junior high, yes I was once that young, I experienced one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. It left a scar on my poor impressionable mind that has stuck with me over these many, to many for me to want to think about, years. I was at the tender age of fourteen and we all know what a difficult period is in every human being’s life.
The walk to get from my home to school and back was a one way out and one way in type of thing at a certain point. By this I mean somewhere in between my home and my school you had to cross a major road. There was no way to avoid that. Even where you crossed it because of the way the roads were situated in that area unless you wanted to take a really long way around and the walk was long enough without adding to it. Now at this point somewhere the powers that be decided to build an express way that would cross over this major road so everything on both sides of the damn road was torn up. If you didn’t stay on the road itself you were walking in dirt pits and getting home dirty never went over well with our mothers when we were in our school clothes. Back then girls still had to wear dresses and look like proper little ladies. It has always baffled me a little how we could look like proper little ladies when miniskirts were the in fashion but, we were expected to. This was also the time when young ladies graduated from little girl flats to something more grown up like a higher heel. Yeah we looked like proper little ladies. I mean my daughter came out in a dress the other night that would almost give my miniskirts a run their money and I almost told her to go back in and change and she is several years older than I was when this little incident happened. Tell me why the hell our mother’s didn’t tell us to go back in and change back then, wait, it’s because they were all wearing miniskirts. Don’t believe me? Go back and look at pics of your mothers, and if you’re young enough your grandmothers, and if they were under forty during the mid-sixties to early seventies I promise they had at least two of the things in their closets.
Now to really set the scene. After several days of pouring down rain the sun was shining brightly on this beautiful warm late April, yes I can remember the damn month, and all was right with the world. I’ve got my head in the clouds like most girls do at that age, probably thinking about one of the dingy pretty boys of that time hanging on my, and I’m totally oblivious to the world around me. I come to the street.
I at this point take my head out of the clouds and my ass to check the oncoming vehicles to assure my safe crossing of this very busy street. Remember once across I have to walk on the edge of this damn road. Remember the dirt pits I mentioned earlier? Along that road the powers that be have dug up everything to the very edge of the asphalt and there is about a one foot drop off the edge to those frigging dirt pits. This busy road has also been cut down to a two lane street from a four lane. Remember I said it had poured down rain for several days prior to this? Well those dirt pits are now a mud trap that would have stymied the most experienced off-roader, mudslinging, four wheel driver in the most advanced four wheel vehicle of this day and age. No this is not an exaggeration. Scene set. One little added thing or two here, remember my school clothes I mentioned? You can add to the fact I was a little better put together than most girls my age and didn’t look my age. No again not exaggerating just tell it like it was. I’ll get back to this, to what looks like I’m tooting my own horn, later.
I cross the road. No problem, I make it safely across and continue on my merry little way again with my head in the clouds and up my ass oblivious to the world. Do-di-do , do-di-do. I am keeping one eye on the oncoming traffic because I was smart enough to walk up that side so what was on and what was going on on the other side was not important. Not my smartest reasoning I must admit. The next thing I know I hear this loud battle cry and feel this horrific burning pain on the right cheek of my ass. As I jump three feet straight up in the air a convertible is passing me and trying to get back on his side of the road still bellowing out that cry of victory. I remember the man’s face to this day as he turned around to check out his conquered foe. Now of course what goes up must come down right? Well I came down all right but did I land back on the asphalt? Hell no. I landed on the side of the asphalt and sunk damn near to my knees in mud. Now if you think this couldn’t get any worse boy are you wrong.
What goes with road construction? Construction workers of course and there was loads of them. As I struggled to get out of the muddy mess I found myself in I hear all the great big tough guys laughing while the only success I’m having in my predicament is to manage to sink even deeper in the mud. I’m now up to my knees and sinking deeper by the second. One of the laughing clowns realize evidently that I was good and truly stuck and came to pull me out while still laughing. He didn’t expect to walk up on what he did. With tears running down my dewy little cheeks, on my face, I shouted at him it wasn’t funny. It was at this point I think he realized I was a lot younger than I looked and he stopped laughing.
“How old are you honey?” This very large man asked.
I told him my age and I don’t know if he signaled the other men working or what but the laughing all around stopped suddenly. This big mean man wrapped his arms around a very hurt child and told me in a very gentle voice to go on home and get cleaned up and he and the guys were sorry for laughing.
To this day I remember this event in my life with crystal clear clarity. Yes it was traumatic but looking back I have to say that it must have been the funniest thing those dear men had ever seen and I can see why. If I were standing there watching that scene unfold I would be laughing my once burning butt off too.
Back to the well-developed, very curvy, over sized top side of that young, impressionable fourteen year old. Remember ladies those lovely curves and other assets like all thing have to eventually give way to the laws of gravity and end up hitting your knees and or dragging the floor as times passes by. There is a price for everything.
copyright June 2016
Emma was settling into her new home in Missouri and things were going great. She had inherited the farm from her Grandmother when she had died the year before. Emma soon found out that her family’s estate came with more than the land. There was a curse and a few specters that had made things a little rough for a while. It would appear a buried treasure has been added to the list as well to go along with everything else. The biggest problem with that is there are people out there looking for that treasure and they are by far worse than any ghost she had fought. Now she has a new love in her life and planning a future but those people have every intention of cutting those plans short and ending Emma's life. The body count is rising: can she and her pieced together family stop them or will Emma and her friends be added to the rising body count. Among Emma’s little army she does have a secret weapon. Those pesky spirits that had caused so much trouble when she came back are now fighting on her side and Emma is going to need each one and even they may not be enough to defeat these monstrous individuals.
Crime has been on the rise all throughout our little town. Most of my neighbors have been complaining a lot about the problem but none of them seem to know what to do. True several have been the unfortunate victims of break-ins and one poor old man was even killed during a home invasion. They have taken notice that the crime rate in our little community has gone down, a lot.
They don’t seem to wonder why the crime has gone down around us and I guess it’s best if no one ask too many question, you know the old ‘don’t look a gift horse in the mouth’ thing. I personally don’t really like to talk about it. When someone breaks into my home they will find me here and ready to defend myself and my home.
Of course this makes for a messy situation if you do have to protect yourself. I mean it’s unlikely that once someone breaks in they will simply turn around and leave especially if the person confronting them is some old lady, so what do you do?
I just wish people would learn to read, it would save me so much time and energy if they did. After all, I did post a sign.
Cathy Pace Matthews
Copyrighted 04/09/2016 by Cathy Pace Matthews
Mary was in her basement where you couldn’t even see her through a crack in a curtain of a window. She had been down here now for a long time trying not to be discovered.
She found herself down here more and more often of late. She has a neighbor. Oh not just any neighbor but a neighbor. You know the type. The one who is always knocking on your door if it’s locked or just walking right in if they happen to find it unlocked. Mary didn’t leave her door unlocked anymore.
It wasn’t only the barging in at all hours of the day or night but she no longer felt comfortable on any social media site. If she signed on there was that neighbor ready to pounce. The minute she signed in the neighbor would jump right in. Mary no longer had many friends that the neighbor hadn’t friended as well so there was no privacy. She was afraid to even send someone a private message or phone them anymore because the crazy neighbor had become friends with everyone Mary knew. Hell in a lot of cases he had even made friends with Mary’s own family.
Things had gotten so bad she hadn’t retrieved her mail in days. When she did leave the house it was in the early morning hours in order not to be seen by this neighbor. Mary had even called the police about the man but they had acted like she was the one with something wrong with her.
Mary had been so afraid to leave the house she hadn’t gone to work in over a week and her boss had called this morning telling her that she had better be in the office the next morning with an excuse from a doctor or not to bother coming back in at all. She hadn’t bothered to answer her cell phone but had listened to the message her boss had left. Mary was quickly losing everything. She had tried to talk to her mom about this but her mom had ignored her. It was as if her mom hadn’t heard a word she was saying. Shortly after calling her mom she had found where the neighbor had friended her mom. She was alone and there was no one she could trust or who would even believe her.
Mary realized she needed to go to the bathroom but that would mean that she would have to leave the sanctuary of her basement. There wasn’t a bathroom down here. Mary thought she might have one installed down here but it really wouldn’t matter if she lost her job because she wouldn’t be able to afford to keep her home and she would have to move. Mary looked around the basement to see if there was anything she could use as a temporary toilet but saw nothing that would accommodate her needs. She would have to leave her hiding place and go upstairs unless she wanted to soil her clothes.
Mary took a deep breath and tried to work up the courage to leave what had become her entire world. She had been hiding down here for days now and tried to remember the last time she had relieved herself. For some reason she couldn’t recall the last time she had even left the basement. Was she losing her mind? Why could she not remember when she had walked up those stairs?
Mary felt her bowels empty themselves and the need to make a run to the bathroom was no longer an issue. She should have clean clothes in the dryer and decided she would simply change her garments and put the dirty ones in a plastic bag. She knew she had plenty of those down here.
She started to come out from behind the boxes she had made into her little hidey hole in but heard someone knocking on her front door. Mary froze in her place not daring to move. Deep down she knew that whoever was at the front door wouldn’t be able to hear her but she was still afraid to move. No that wasn’t even right, she wasn’t just afraid to move she was unable to move. She was that scared.
The knocking came again along with the ringing of the doorbell. Mary wanted to slap her hands against her ears to block out the sound but knew that to do so would only keep her from hearing anything should the neighbor try to mess with the lock on the door.
Mary remained where she was long after whoever was at the door seemed to have left still afraid to move. She knew she should make an attempt to clean herself up but her fear held her captive making it impossible for her to move.
Her phone rang again and Mary again didn’t bother to answer it. She no longer trusted anyone and had no one she could turn to. She wondered if she would allow herself to stay down here and starve to death or would she finally be overtaken with hunger and crawl her way back up the steps to try and get something to eat.
Mary must have closed her eyes and slept because she was awakened by a loud crash coming from upstairs. She coward in her little hiding place knowing that the neighbor had busted in her door and was coming to get her. She was so dehydrated at this point that tears wouldn’t even fall from her eyes. All she could do was wait here for the end to come and she knew it was coming.
The two officers made their way through the house looking for the woman who lived here. They had gotten a call that she hadn’t been seen in days. She hadn’t shown up for work and her mother had tried to reach her many times but she hadn’t been answering her phone.
When they found the steps leading to the basement they drew their weapons. Neither could tell you why but something didn’t seem right as they had opened the door. There was a horrible smell coming from the lower level and they were both unsure of what might be down there.
“Oh God do you smell that?” One officer said to the other.
“Yes I smell it. This isn’t going to be good. Hello Ms. Collins you down here? Mary?” The second officer didn’t know if he wanted an answer or not.
The two men carefully walked almost the entire basement when they noticed the wall of boxes stacked close to a far wall. They could tell from where they were that there was a small space between the wall and the boxes big enough for someone to hide behind.
One officer motioned to the other letting him know that he wanted him to supply cover as he made his way toward the corner of the large room. The other one nodded his head as his partner made his way toward what could be a setup.
“Oh Jesus Christ!” The first officer said as he got his first look at what was behind the boxes.
“What is it?” The second officer asked as he came up behind the first.
“Crap.” The second officer was trying hard not to lose his lunch.
“Call it in. Someone really did a number on this poor girl.” The first officer was having the same problem as his partner.
Mary wanted to cry from joy. The men were law enforcement. They must have decided she had been telling the truth and they were finally here to help her and she could get cleaned up and maybe save her job.
“How long do you think she has been dead?” The second officer asked
“I don’t know but I would say for at least a week.
A lot of people are jumping up and down over a gorilla being killed to save a human. Now I like most think this is a terrible thing to have happened but I understand why it had to happen. For those of you who think they should have waited for a tranquilizer versus a quick kill and take the chance that the animal would go down without hurting the human if it helps to bring it into focus remember the human was a small child. If you still have issues then I feel sorry for you.
A great many of you are now on a witch hunt against the mother of that child. I wonder how many of you have children yourself. I do. She is grown now and a stable and fairly well adjusted human in spite of being raised by a mom like me and I thank God for that every day.
Why do I say a mom like me? Well I was one of those overly protective, attentive, very involved mothers who insisted on knowing what she was up to and why she was getting into. I was so bad that she went to her high school proms with a law enforcement officer on her arm. She didn’t go out at night that she didn’t have at least two such people riding shotgun, hell they were driving. I was that protective of her from day one and I would be today if I could get away with it but now she would have me committed. She could too.
My point? None of you know a damn thing about this mother whose little boy managed to get away from her. She may be the best mom in the world instead of the uncaring reckless idiot you have made her out to be.
Let’s go back to the question I asked before. Do you have children? If you don’t sit down and shut the crap up. If you do then let me ask you how old they are. Can you honestly say that if they are over a certain age, old enough to crawl or walk on their own, that you have never once had them get out of your sight. Can you honestly say that you have never came up on them doing something that might bring them harm or in some way bring harm to someone else? You’ve never lost sight of them in public? I can’t. It didn’t happen but a couple of times but as much as I hate to admit it mine managed to get away from when she was very little. I remember both times clearly. Yes it was only twice but to me it was twice too many. I was not being a bad mom or not paying attention. In both incidents I was with another adult who required my attention for a moment and I looked away for a second and she was gone. The second time she hadn’t gotten far but had hid in a rack of cloths because she thought it would be funny and her two older cousins had instigated it because they wanted to scare the crap out of me and their mother. It worked. The first time it was more serious. I was holding her hand and a friend I was with in a damn book store said something to me and her little hand slipped out of mine and I got her as some woman was getting in a car with her. It happened that quickly.
If you’re wondering if I was really that careful and caring how could it happen then you are worse than me and I feel sorry for your kids but I salute you as well. It isn’t easy to be able to keep a constant eye on your child. I was warned that my daughter would grow up to hate me because I was so tight on her. Well I can’t say we didn’t hit a rough spot when she turned eighteen but it was because I backed off a good bit. Yes it was hard as hell and I hated it but I knew she had to be responsible for herself and that did cause a bit of an issue. She thought I didn’t care anymore. Over time she found out different and today we have a wonderful relationship. She’s still a momma’s girl.
Anyway back to the woman you want to hang. Well if you have been the perfect parent, those of you who aren’t parents stay out of it, then here. Take this stone and start throwing. Go ahead, your perfect remember. Aim for her head because you seem to think she has no heart or if she does you’ve already done all the damage to it you could. Here take it and throw it. I DARE YOU.
,Everyone has felt it at some point in their lives to one degree or another. Fear reaches out and takes hold of us in times when we are at our most vulnerable. We step out of a tent at night to relieve ourselves and we hear something approaching us out of the woods close by. We realize in a spilt second that our child has pulled their small hand out of ours and now is running toward the street loaded with traffic. We take our eyes off the road for a second and when we look up there is a car barreling head on toward us. We read a book or short story. It doesn’t matter what it is that calls it forth, it’s only important that it has heard the call and comes rushing in on us faster than the speed of light and grabs us in a choke hold that threatens to rob us of our minds.
I know that some people talk about it slipping up on you but in all honestly it doesn’t. That slow building feeling that comes over you is apprehension. It makes you nervous and jittery and can rob you of common sense but it doesn’t have the hold that honest unadulterated fear has. You can fight apprehension but when fear takes hold there is no fighting it. It has you and until you have reached the end of your ordeal you are its prisoner. You are left a shaking mass of flesh afterwards and only time will get you through it. No one can hold you tight enough, speak to you in any words, offer you any comfort that will abate the aftermath. Only time passing will bring it to an end or death.
I have known such fear and most people have. Those that haven’t scare me. These are the ones that are the most frightening to me. If you feel no fear then you are dangerous. It is the emotion that lies at the basis of all emotions. You love someone and you see them about to be hurt, you react to it and you react quickly. You have a big event coming up and something sends it sideways you respond accordingly. You fear the possible outcome of the mistake or possible injury to you or a loved one.
So what has me thinking about this? A story. That’s it, a story. Can I tell you more about it? No, not right now. I only know that a story has brought about a sense of apprehension that is boarding on fear and I’m not sure what to do about it. It involves a project I’m working on and I’m not sure how it will play out.