Near 500 words: TW ends his day

Cat jumped up onto the table and trod across the postcards. She approached TW (aka The Writer) and rubbed her head against his. Then a purr and then a meow. She was hungry.

TW sighed. “Okay, let’s eat.”

He left the postcards and headed into the kitchen. Pouring out Cat’s food, he realized he was famished. After he fed and watered Cat, he went back to the postcards. He gathered them up and stacked them neatly back in the box, then put them away on the top shelf of the closet.

He would come back to the postcards the next weekend when he had more time to study them and get a handle on what they were telling him. Right then he had to clear his mind and prepare himself for the next day.

He went into the kitchen, pulled out a steak to let it breathe, then boiled potatoes, throwing in milk and butter for mashed potatoes. He took a bag of broccoli out of the freezer. Setting the timer on the stove for thirty minutes, he left the steak and went into the living room and plopped himself into his chair in front of the TV and clicked on the remote. He rushed through the guide and realized there wasn’t much on. Maybe he would watch a movie.

He went through his DVDs and came across just the thing. Humphrey Bogart and William Holden and Audrey Hepburn. “Sabrina” was one of his favorites. Nothing like Audrey Hepburn to get his mind off his troubles. He could make up his mind what his next move with the postcards would be later. They had waited this long. There was no harm to waiting a little longer. And maybe, just maybe, Sylvia’s yearly postcard would arrive in the coming week.

The steak and the broccoli and the mashed potatoes were served with a glass of red wine. TW finished the dishes, then returned to his movie. He fell asleep about three-fourths through the movie.

He snapped awake to the sound of a tree branch tap-tap-tapping against one of his front windows. Outside there was a rain storm passing through. Thunder, then lightning. The clock read midnight.

He reached for the remote. It wasn’t on the table beside his chair. He searched the chair and underneath the chair. He looked all around the living room and finally found it underneath the couch across the room.

Then a whishing noise came from the back yard. He ran through the kitchen and out the back door. Standing in the dark on the back porch, a streak of light crossed the sky, then the rain stopped.

TK’s body went weak and he slumped onto the cement floor and he passed out.


Near 500 words: TW and the Missing Postcard

TW (aka The Writer) looked through the postcards again. The first one was postmarked April 2, 1990. He laid the second one down on the table. Postmarked 1991. Again a third postcard and a fourth. Year by year they came, all laid down in chronological order until he came to 2018, then there were no more.

He went through the cards to see if any were stuck together. They weren’t. Then he counted them. Twenty-nine.

Here it was the beginning of May and no yearly postcard had arrived. Had something happened to Sylvia? If it had, how would he know?

He picked up the 2018 postcard. He studied the picture. Before him was a small village with Mount Everest rising above the village. The several people in the photograph were dressed in colorful clothes. Their features reminded TW of American Indians.

As he studied the card, he imagined Sylvia, dressed in the colorful clothes, her green eyes looking out at him with a smile on her face. Her face was peaceful. He missed her. He really missed her. For the first time, he regretted not going with her.

He then turned the card over. It was postmarked Nepal. He read the few words of text on the card in Sylvia’s delicate handwriting.

“Have landed here at the end of the world. After all these years, Maybe this is the end of the rainbow I’ve been searching for. Finally.” The card was signed Sylvia and there was that calligraphy below her signature. What did the words mean?

He reread her message several times, then stood up and went to the kitchen and heated up water for coffee. He looked outside. The sun was setting.

He headed through the kitchen door and out onto the porch. The sky before him was colored reads and oranges and yellows with streaks of blues from the sky. Thoughts in his head ranged over the last thirty years. What had he done with all that time? It was a mystery to him.

The novels he had meant to write. The stories too. Only ten published stories and a few people. Then it hit him square in the face. All his poems and stories had been about Sylvia. Maybe that had been why he had not been able to start a novel. Sylvia wasn’t in the writing of it.

The sun had gone down, and now it was dark. Night had creeped in with only a few stars and no moon. Just like night had creeped inside of his brain. A darkness he couldn’t understand. He was frightened.

Back inside the house, he poured himself a cup of coffee, flipped on the light switch and sat back down with the postcards before him. He picked up the first one. Timbuktu. In the background, a large brown structure like a castle wall and three towers. In front of the clay building, several women carried large blue jugs on their heads. A Bedouin rode a camel across the frame.

And something else too. Something he had not noticed before. Sylvia in a long yellow dress and brown sandals, walking down the steps leaving the brown building. Then she smiled at him.

Near 500 words: TW and the Postcards

“A horse. My spirit animal is a horse,” TW (aka The Writer) said, floating a foot off the floor in the arms of his wife, Sylvia.

With that, he returned to the present, dropping the carving on the floor. It was hot. Beside it was the mustang Sylvia finished carving the night before she left. Why had he left it in the box? Why hadn’t he left it where he could see it? Mostly because he wanted to forget.

And mostly he had forgotten. About once a year, a postcard came in the mail. He picked up the postcards and the other things and dropped them back inside the box and put the lid back on.As far as he was concerned, there was no use crying over spilled milk. She was gone and that was it.

Oh sure, he dated from time to time. Except for Helen, none of the relationships took.  He went to Helen’s wedding and then settled into his solitary way of life. As far as being lonely, he never thought much about it.

Then the robin appeared outside his house. Why?

He wasn’t sure why he did it, but he lifted the lid off again. He reached inside the box and picked up Sylvia’s postcards and put them in chronological order, the oldest on top. He looked at the oldest. A picture of Timbuktu on one side and a short note on the other. It was signed Helen. Under her beautiful script was a line of text that looked like Arabic calligraphy.

The next year the postcard was from Egypt. The pyramids and the note and the same calligraphy below her name. Then a third postcard. Jerusalem and the calligraphy again. Next was Petra, then the Parthenon, then whirling dervishes. Hagia Sophia was on the following postcard. On and on they went, each from a holy place. And each one carried the calligraphy below her signature.

Why didn’t he recognize the script below her name? It looked familiar and yet strangely unfamiliar.

Suddenly he was hungry. And not just hungry. He was famished. From the kitchen, Cat was meowing, giving the signal that she too was hungry.

“Okay, okay,” he called out to Cat. “I’m coming.”

He dropped the postcards onto the carpet, then headed for the kitchen. Outside the sun was setting. “When did it get so late?”

He reached into the cat’s food box and pulled out her food and poured the kibbles into her bowl. Absentmindedly.

For the next hour, he felt like he was sleepwalking, his mind elsewhere, as he prepared his food, watched the news and ate. Quickly he washed the dishes, then went back to the box and the postcards.

Year by year he laid the cards out on the table. First he laid them out with the photographs facing upward. They made a beautiful collage of color and images. He sat for over an hour, admiring them. Then he turned the cards over. He checked the postmark. All were dated the first week in April.

Then it hit him. One was missing.


Near 500 words: TW finds a wood carving

TW (aka The Writer) knelt and picked up the wooden carving off the floor. He sat down on the carpet, leaned against the wall and rubbed the butternut wood. It had a beautiful brown tan.

Into the wood, Sylvia had carved a butterfly riding a robin. She had given it to him for his twenty-sixth birthday. When he asked about the butterfly, she smiled. Her smile always gave her face a glow. “Oh, it’s a monarch. It’s my spirit animal. And I wanted to share it with you. If something ever happened to me, I would be with you still.”

“What’s a spirit animal?” he asked, feeling the smoothness of the carved wood in his hand.

“It’s a guide. Kind of like a guardian angel.”

He gave her words some thought.

She continued, “Everybody has a spirit animal. It’s a gift.”

“A gift?”

“Yes. From the One.”

“From the One?”

“You might call the One the Tao. The One has many Names. The Great Spirit. Father. Mother. Yahweh. Jesus. Buddha. Allah. Vishnu. Shiva. Brahma. They all apply.”

TW looked at Sylvia. He didn’t really know the person who sat before him, her legs crossed into a full lotus. This was someone who had a depth to her. The kind of depth no one else he knew had. It was as if she were an onion, pealing the outer skin off. There were many more skins to pull before he would know the real Sylvia. He wasn’t sure he deserved her. And her love. That scared him. What was he going to do?

Sylvia reached over and touched his head. A warmth surged through his body and he felt calm. It was like a peaceful evening on a beach with the ocean singing to him. Tears rolled down his face. Sylvia wiped the tears away and embraced him, and they made love.

As they lay side by side on the floor, he realized he had forgotten something. He rolled over and faced her. “What about the bird?”

Her green eyes twinkled like stars. “The robin also is my spirit animal.”

“You have two?”

“Actually the butterfly is transforming into the robin. I was a butterfly once. Now I am a robin.”

“Well, that’s interesting. Do I have a spirit animal?” he asked, frightened that he might not have one.

She reached over and put her arms around his neck and kissed him. “Of course, silly. You might even have more than one.”

“What is it?”

She laughed. “I am not the one who should know.”

“Then who?” He was anxious to know.

“Don’t you know?” She asked as if she was trying to get him to dig down deep inside and pull the insight out.

Now he was confused. He had always been good at digging out information from the most unlikely places. But this didn’t seem like information he could discovery through research.

He looked down at his hands. She had been holding them all along and he didn’t realize it. Her hands exuded some kind of energy from them. The energy felt like joy and peace and happiness. It was at that moment he saw that the two of them. They were levitating a good foot in the air.

“Don’t think,” she whispered. “Just enjoy.”

Near 500 words: TW Goes Missing In Action

TW (aka The Writer) walked around the house, looking for the robin. It was nowhere to be found. It had lit out for parts unknown. Then he realized that there was no birds filling the spring morning with their song. They seemed to be missing in action.

TW sighed and headed back in doors. As he opened the kitchen door, Cat dashed outside.”You’re on your own today, Buddy. I’m not waiting on you out here on the porch. I just don’t have it in me.”

Cat gave him on of those looks that cat owners known may just mean trouble.

“Okay.” There was a resignation in his voice. “Let me get a cup of coffee.” He filled the Keurig with water and waited.  As he did, he thought of the lines he had written. He had the next sentences worked out until the robin showed up. The water was hot. He popped the cup into the Keurig and poured his coffee into his Grumpy mug. Then he grabbed his kindle and sat down on the back porch.

Cat was giving him the eye. “What took you so long?”

TW lifted the mug to his lips and sipped and ignored the cat. He just wasn’t in the mood.

Cat, being Cat, sensed her human just wasn’t in the mood for their usual game. She came over to him, gave him a consoling meow and laid her body across his feet.

Sitting in the chair, TW realized he didn’t have the energy for writing. Cat’s body felt warm across his bare feet as he waited for his mood to pass. An hour passed and his cup was empty and his mood had not passed. He mustered up the energy, reached down, pushed Cat off his feet, then he stood up. “Let’s go inside.”

Cat followed TW into the house. He rinsed out the mug and sat it in the sink, then he went back into his office and sat down at the computer. He looked at the lines he had written.

It was the week after Mrs. Dish ran away with Mr. Spoon. All because of the Cat and the Fiddle. They had introduced the two at a company picnic. On top of that, Cat had jumped over the moon.

Then he typed. Jack sat on the stool beside the cow. Maudie was being cooperative as Jack squeezed her teat. The warm milk…

TW stopped. Then he jumped up and hurried to the hall closet. He reached and pulled down a cardboard box. He dropped the ingredients on the floor and there it was.