Stressed in Space

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I’m about to explode. Despite training in enhanced mindfulness techniques, there’s a tension in my thighs and my toes itch. I’m leaving suspended relaxation. From the ceiling viewing screen, I see we haven’t left the atmosphere.

Hibernating in self-contained pods, we hope to make it to Mars in a self-driving ship. Some billionaire’s idea. What a bad time for insomnia since success depends on no one eating for six months.

This is my sister’s idea of togetherness. She’s a long time yogi. I’m not. Though I’d like the company, I hope no one else wakes up. I need to relax.

The Luck of Three

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His father told him good things come in multiples of three. Then, he left his third son at the crossroads. Taking a contemplative path into mountains and mists, the youth finds an ox, a horse and a royal ring. Riding the horse, leading the ox and wearing the ring, he’s stopped by a bailiff. The man’s skin and bones poverty cries out for help. The youth hands the man the ox’s rope.

Giving the horse its head, he arrives at a castle where the glint of the ring summons the queen. Three well solved quests later, she makes him king.

Don’t You Believe It

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An elderly lady, squeezing tomatoes in a pre-pandemic way, pulls her mask down. “You’re almost out of the woods.”

Whatever does she mean? “I’m healthy.”

“Yes, my darling, but stifled.”

Your father, reading Lang’s red collection with a Grimm smile, would say, “Poppycock.”

Imagining him in the library, a hole in one stocking, propping his feet on a worn stool sets something tingly-strange a-move.

Dozing later, you dream of the tomato woman, who waves her wand and turns you into the fairy tale of your choice. In a surprise move, you choose Into the Woods. Four stories, one price, music included.

Magic Eight

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Magic was in the air the day Maureen’s father retired. A charmed life was how he told it. From that first rabbit he’d pulled out of a hat, he had an itch to travel. He took to the road, bringing his family along from one carnival to another.

Perhaps that’s why Maureen stayed anchored. “When will you settle?” Maureen lit a seven decade birthday candle.

“Oh, someday, maybe.” He pulled a quarter from behind his grandson’s ear and handed it to him.

At eighty, he moved into care, where he roamed the halls doing card tricks. He never grew old.

A Dream, Really

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All of this is true. I wore a forty year old skirt I’d made when I was fifteen. I’d lost some weight. I brought my teenagers to the party. While eating appetizers, the hostess gushed and I blushed. Rhyme intended. All I could think about at dinner was how much I wanted to be sitting with the teens, talking about horror flicks. I have no interest in expensive wine.

Segue to the kid’s table. I’m patched in. The one upping seems more honest, until it seems more pointed. “You sew. How retro.” The daughter glibly changes the subject to France.

Flashing Heels

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Heels, flashing at silver speed, step to the beat of a brassy swing band. It seems effortless. A shoulder shrug here, a dip of the hips as she circles in a tight twirl, sliding under her partner’s arm. She vamps, he poses. Their faces are flushed with exertion. The music, a seductive lover, gets what it wants. He smiles and smirks and waves his glad hand in a shimmy. She moves away and rounds back, moves away and rounds back. They say nothing. There’s no need. Everything is there in the rhythm, in the moves, in the love of dance.

Chair

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It’s an old chair. A well used chair. One that has seated its share of guests and heard its quota of secrets and meted out a good measure of comfort. The chair sat in the nursery for decades, making a cushy seat for the nursemaid when she wasn’t walking the floor with a colicky baby. After the nursery became a study, the chair had a grand refurbishing in burgundy velvet. It sat under a bright lamp, digesting scholarly papers while its occupant snored. In the attic now, a mouse has made a nest in the seat. Time to reclaim it.

Wear Flats

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In grade school, we played out of boredom, shooting spitballs at the ceiling from straws. A sodden mess, the glop hit tables, never lights. I was the tallest.

I’m a long sip now, a Margarita.  Tall as most college guys. My superpower is passing. As in basketball scholarship. Now that I’ve learned chess, nerds get nervous. I trot out opening gambits, spiking pieces across the board at lightening speed. Checkmate.

They call me “Show-off.” I say, “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did backwards, wearing high heels. She didn’t make as much, though.”

I wear flats. I dance straight ahead.

Rainstorm on the Gulf

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Dark clouds drift to the west, bearing a load of rain drops on the wind. There was a storm earlier. The water pounded the bay in sheets, splashing and sparkling against the gulf, moving in a quiet pattern of ripples. Light and dark shadows reflected across the shallow bottom of a sandy shoal. While it rained, the birds were quiet, the trees were still, it seemed as if the whole of nature’s shop had closed up to watch for the rainbow. When the sky cleared, an osprey was the first one out, soaring and diving, making up for lost time.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly Photo credit: Peter B. Kessler

The latticed wings resembled a ladder. Like a red-orange crayon they drew a line in the sky, a purposeful gash that attracted attention to the one broken stem in a field of reeds where it landed. The dragonfly held its position the way that top predators dominate a food chain. I snapped one picture after another, directing the lens towards its complex eyes. Imagine one insect seen through the lens of a camera and hundreds of moving human beings seen through a multifaceted instrument like the one the dragonfly projects from the slim taper of its body. Would you stay?