Near 500 words:Elgar

The farm was dying. Elgar knew it. His wife, Beatrice, knew it. His son, Jock, knew it. The question was what to do with it. After all, it had been his great grandfather’s, his grandfather’s, his father’s. For three generations before him, the farm had prospered. Fed the family. Kept them happy. Now he had failed. But not one of his forebears had had to deal with the droughts of the last several years.

Elgar’s feet were rooted in the soil like a tree. Elgar wrestled with the what-to-dos like Jacob wrestling with the angel long ago. To pull up and seek a new life, Beatrice and Jock knew would kill Elgar.

The farm was dying. God had abandoned this land Elgar loved so much. As the other farmers sold out and moved away, Elgar became lonelier and lonelier. When you’re the last of your kind, it’s hard to avoid the isolation, the alienation.

The tall, thin farmer walked his land one last time. As he did, he came upon his father’s old tractor seat, that “seat of power” where Dad ruled his domain. If his father had taught him anything, it was not to dominate the land. But to be its steward. It was still not too late to return to his father’s ethic.

He reached down and took the seat from the tractor, raised it above his head and began to dance. It wasn’t a rain dance. It wasn’t a folk dance. It was the dance of a man who loved his land.

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Near 500 words: Bridges

Another bridge. That’s what P C thought. How many bridges was he going to have to cross to get to Ellen’s house? It seemed that the bridges were placed in his way to prevent him from getting to her. But the more bridges there were the more desirous she became. Someone that hard to reach had to be desirable. Very desirable.

He found her on the internet. She posted a profile on a dating site. Her profile wasn’t any thing special. Nothing about her stood out. The face that stared back at him wasn’t beautiful. He liked it because it wasn’t doctored. It was quite ordinary. It said, “Accept me as I am.”

Her resume didn’t show her to be smarter or healthier or more talented. Quite the opposite. She bragged about being a C student. Gabe liked that too. He was a C student as well. He knew that C students had to work harder than the ones for whom everything came easy.

Ellen had an average kind of job. She was a bookkeeper for an auto dealership. Nothing special there, he thought. But it said she knew something about taking care of money. The debits and credits kind of thing mattered to a marriage.

The resume offered up something else. She hadn’t been popular in high school. She wasn’t into athletics or good books or great art or even music. Occasionally she went out dancing. But she admitted she had two left feet and no sense of rhythm. She made the comment, “I am pretty good at faking the steps.” Just an average kind of girl.

Then there was the smile. She had one heck of a smile. So Gabe sent her a post. She answered and mentioned her favorite movie. It was “Gone With the Wind”. That almost ended the relationship. Then he saw her photo again with her smile and her eyes. Though the eyes were gray, they smiled as well.

After a month of back-and-forths, he asked her out. At first, she hesitated, saying she was getting a lot of requests for dates. He persisted. Finally, she gave him a yes, but he was going to have to come by and meet her family.

And now there were these bridges. Well, he was not about to give up just because there were a few obstacles. After all, he had not let an obstacle course prevent him from getting the job. There had been other suitors. But he had beat out all the competition for the job of Prince Charming.

Red

I knew a girl once. She had blonde hair and hazel eyes much like mine. She dressed in green most of the time while I dressed in brown. She wanted to go travelling. Said it was in her blood. Her name was Red. Don’t how she got that name but that was her name.

The morning she left to go on the road, she gave me one of her sweet kisses. Asked if I would remember her.

Of course, I will, I returned. It would not be fair if I didn’t. She had given me so much.

She gave me courage. She taught me love. She helped me listen. To her and the universe. At night, we sat under the sky and counted the stars. Sometimes we counted an odd number, sometimes an even. Every night was different. She taught me how to read the sky like a book.

Then she threw her backpack on and took her first steps toward the morrow. Down the way a bit, she looked back at me. “Wish me luck,” she said.

“Luck,” I called out to her. Then I whispered, “Luck.”

Soon she was gone off on her adventures and I was alone again.

That was years ago. A distant memory of a girl named Red.

This cat of mine

She is a curious thing, this cat of mine:
looking, seeing, chasing

She is a curious thing, this cat of mine:
running, jumping, playing

She is a curious thing, this cat of mine:
climbing, digging, dashing

She is a curious thing, this cat of mine:
wandering, exploring, adventuring

She is a curious thing, this cat of mine:
sneaking, disappearing, hiding

She is a curious thing, this cat of mine:
meowing, cajoling, crying

She is a curious thing, this cat of mine:
scratching, rubbing, sunning

She is a curious thing, this cat of mine:
bathing, eating, sleeping

She is a curious thing, this cat of mine.
And when she purrs, it is a fine fine thing.

Near 500 words: Happiness, and then some

Clara had such a smile it could wake up the world with its beauty. Especially when she told him, “I love you, Dan.”

Dan had dated a lot of girls. Clara was the first he thought he might want to spend the rest of his life with. Clara and Dan started dating on a blind date. Dan had told his friend, Jill, “Blind dates are the worst.”

Jill insisted.

To show Jill how wrong she was, he gave in. He saw Clara, then his heart went wow. Jill had been right.

Jill had dated a lot of guys. Most of them were duds. She too resisted Jill’s offer of a blind date. Then she saw Dan. The smile appeared on her face.

Dan wasn’t the handsome sort. Kinda skinny with a small nose and the curly hair. He wasn’t what Clara would have thought as Mr. Wonderful.

Clara’s face wasn’t that of a raving beauty. It was kind of plain. But then there were those dimples that came with the smile. And, oh, she warmed Dan’s heart.

That first night they gave each other their life stories and threw in some ancestral heritage to stir the pot. First they did dinner, then walked and walked and walked the city streets, then it started to rain. There under a bridge, Dan kissed Clara and Clara kissed Dan.

Clara was the first to speak. “I never.”

“I never either,” Dan said, just as surprised as Clara. “Could this be?”

“I believe so.”

Of all the nights in his life, this was to be the one Dan remembered the most. The same for Clara.

“What will we tell Jill?” Clara asked, smiling that smile, cradled in Dan’s arms.

Dan’s hand stroked Clara’s hair. “She’ll never let us forget how right she was.”

They laughed. Then they kissed one of those long slow kisses that make time stop. When the kiss was over, Dan asked, “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?”

“Spend it with you,” Clara said.

It wasn’t a big wedding. Quite small with a few friends. Jill got to be the Best Man. That was only right.

Dan and Clara went off on their honeymoon. They went to Spain. As they listened to the gypsies play the flamenco, Dan asked his beloved, “Let’s not go back home?”

“Let’s not.”

Dan wrote an article for National Geographic. Clara drew the pictures. They dropped them into the post and off the package went to the magazine’s offices. A week later, as they left their room in the hotel, a hotel employee hurried up to them. “You have a phone call,” he said.

It was the editor of National Geographic with an offer they could not refuse. She wanted to buy their story, and she wanted more. The magazine would pay them to roam the world, tell their stories, and draw them. It was perfect for Clara and Dan.

Their dream life. They hadn’t talked about it but they thought about it.

Dan called his brother. “Sell the house. Sell everything,” he said.

Then they hit the road. To Toledo, then to Barcelona, then on to Nice. It was in Nice that Clara found out she was pregnant.

“We’ll take a break,” Dan said. “We’ll be Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda.”

“Oh, no. Not those two. We’re not going to drown our joy in booze.”

Then all the happiness came tumbling down on them. Clara had a miscarriage. Clara cried for a week, and so did Dan. Suddenly their smiles disappeared. Finally, Dan asked, “What are we going to do?”

“We’re going to go on,” Clara said, not sure what she meant but knowing that was the only answer there was.

Holding hands, they looked out from the balcony at the sea. They both knew that the paradise was over. It was time to pay the piper. They also knew that, no matter what, they would pay the big fellow together. It did not bring back the smiles but, at least, it gave them hope as they watched the sunrise over the sea.