To touch it brings a smile
to be touched ignites joy!
It's rarely white, nor truest black-
Purest tones are seldom seen-
a myriad of shades are in between.
Cream and mocha, tan and gold,
Reddish brown and beige and amber!
Darkish, lightish, dusky, pale...
Each one beautiful.
Each one warm.
Infinite shades of human.
the deep blue sky soars overhead
and golden sun rains down, limning
verdant field with treasure-edged blades of grass.
the snowy marble stone glows in the brightness;
words carved like scars across the light.
she clutches one starry-eyed forget-me-not to her heart,
leaving the rest to blanket him.
ever so slowly she turns
to hide again in her shadows
The first sporadic drops of rain on the leaves woke her from her dreaming. She tried to smile, but the bark wasn't wet enough yet to make her supple. The drops fell faster and heavier, and soon she could open her eyes. With deep sadness she saw that her closest sister was gone – the lightning strike in the last storm had been too much to recover from. Soft mourning hums thrummed from the others all around her. She hoped the rain would continue long enough to free her- it had been so long! Oh how she longed to dance beneath the waving branches, and along the shore – the thought of moving made her heart ache for the one who would move no more.
The clouds above thickened, and the rain became a downpour that flowed in tiny rivulets down the bark and freed her and her sisters. Lightly they tread over dampening soil to the empty husk of the fallen one where she lay, split nearly in two. One by one they solemnly stroked fingers light as spring leaves over the lifeless bark, and sang their farewell. But loss was loss; one day they would all be forever still... now, she was free – free! Even the death of one of their own couldn’t contain the pure joy of freedom!
Lithely they danced in intricate moving circles; slowly at first, touching one another, renewing their bonds after the long drought. As the pouring rain refreshed their trees, they moved faster and their dance became more fluid as they leapt between the trees, singing and laughing.
A ray of yellow sunlight split the clouds, and as the rains slowed, so did the dance of the dryads through the sun-dappled shade. Growing silent again, they wound their way back through the dripping leaves, each to her tree. The clouds cleared and full sunlight warmed the glade. The willow dryad sat nestled between the roots of home, glowing in the sun. Her skin stiffened to the bark of her somnolent state, and closing her eyes she slept, and dreamt of rainbows.
She stood at the bottom of the staircase, looking up.
On hand rested on the time-worn wooden banister, and she lifted a foot to rest on the first step. “Click!” her heel made a startling sound that echoed up the walls, and she quickly pulled her foot back down and toed off her black stilettos, kicking them aside. She took a step up; the wood tread was slippery under her stockings. Another step, and she paused to contemplate the paintings that hung on the wall, seeming to climb alongside her. Each was a portrait of a woman: some young, some old. Each from a different era; each representing different races… different nationalities. Each one different, yet with the same deterined look on her face; each standing tall and looking fearless. The Grandfather clock ticked at her from the top of the stairs, and she heard the creak of the floorboards above her; someone was up there ahead of her. Heart pounding, she lifted her foot to climb another step, but instead turned, and nearly falling she almost jumped back down to the bottom floor again. She sat on the bottom step and cried softly into her palms. After a few minutes she wiped her tears away, slipped her stockinged feet back into her heels, and crossed the long hallway back to the kitchen.
One of my favorite quotes is from Mr. Bill Shakespeare himself (I know we would have been, if not friends per se, at least friendly; and I do like to believe he wouldn't mind my familiarity):
"...THERE IS NOTHING EITHER GOOD OR BAD BUT THINKING MAKES IT SO."
This quote sums up something I find to be one of the greatest truisms of our reality, and can most certainly be applied to the question of what a good writer is. Grammar ain't nesessarily important to good wrriting, dontcha know. SPelling neither nor punctuation
Being a good writer depends entirely upon the READER. If one person (besides one's own mother, I feel I need to add) enjoys one's writing, one is a good writer. If a writer can touch one other person in this world, and make them feel understood, less alone, and part of the entirety of humanity; if one person is moved enough that they remember the words we write... that is what makes written work 'good'; and if what was written is good, so then is the writer good. Or bad? I dunno - what do you think?
... I felt the fine hairs on my arms raise as goose bumps moved in a wave over my body, and a chill passed across the back of my neck. It was cold out, and we passed the bottle of peppermint schnapps between us, staving off the winter chill. If we’d been indoors, we’d have poured it into mugs of hot chocolate. Taking a long draw on the bottle, I winced and tugged the fleecy collar of my jacket closer about my neck.
“Damn I wish we had some hot chocolate”, I murmured, and passed the bottle back to Cooper. He grunted, and screwed the bottle cap back on. Leaning over me, he tossed the bottle back into the glove box. I shivered, and once again wondered what the hell I was doing out here parked in this freaking cold pickup truck in the middle of freaking nowhere at three in the morning. Charlie had been right; I should’ve just gone back to the dorm with her. It was too cold for this. But it had been such a good time out at the bars that night and I hadn’t been ready to go home yet. Cooper’s invitation to drive to the meadow and stargaze til sunup had sounded great at the time… the reality felt less adventurous than the idea of it had though, and I was regretting the decision. Also, Cooper wasn’t being nearly as charming now as he had been a couple hours ago. I knew him through some friends – but was closer with his roommate, Doug. Frost was gathering on the windows of the truck, and the moonlight cast silver over the snow outside. The silence was getting a little creepy, and Cooper just sat staring ahead.
“Where’s Doug tonight?” I asked. “He’s usually at Stocks or the Cellar on Saturdays, but I didn’t see him out.” The sound of my voice fell into the silence like stones down a deep well.
Cooper seemed to shudder a moment, then turned sideways in the driver’s seat to face me, crossing his legs under him. He leaned back against the door and grinned; the moonlight casting odd shadows on his face, but not quite reaching his eyes.
“Maybe he got lucky.” he chuckled, “I haven’t seen him tonight.”
His smile evaporated, and there was a flash of something cold in his eyes, that maybe I only imagined. I had been drinking, yeah - but wasn’t really drunk – only pleasantly buzzed. I wished he hadn’t tucked the bottle away so soon though. Worse, I was starting to get a bad feeling, and wanted to go home. I looked away from Cooper, and saw a large something fly over the hood and off into the trees. Owl, probably.
“Hey, Coop? It’s pretty cold out here, and I’m getting tired. I just remembered I have a paper I need to finish up tomorrow too…. we really can’t see much of the stars tonight anyway … maybe you could take me back to campus?” I shivered, and clenched my teeth tightly to still their chattering. I looked at Cooper from the corner of my eye, hoping he’d agree. He didn’t answer me. I waited patiently half a minute or so ... swallowed, and opened my mouth to ask again, when he started speaking softly. It almost didn’t sound like his voice.
“Doug and I sometimes drive out here and hang. He likes spook stories, did you know? Anyway, a couple nights ago we were up here and he freaked me out completely. I had gone over to French Town that day after morning classes, and hadn’t gotten back to our place til about ten that night. I’d picked up a couple six packs, and texted him to meet me at the corner and we’d drive up here. He met me, but seemed in kind of a pissy mood, and didn’t say anything but ‘hey’ when he got in the truck. I parked just here, and popped open a beer, knowing he’d tell me what was eating him in his own time. He chugged a beer and stewed a while before he said anything. Then he asked me what the fuck had been wrong with me all day. He didn’t give me a chance to say anything, but kept going on once he’d started.”
I could relate to that – Cooper was doing the same thing now. His eyes stayed on me as he told his story.
“You know our place right? How my room is?” (I nodded, feeling like my lips were fused shut. They lived in an apartment in the basement of an old house off campus. It was laid out strangely, and Cooper’s ‘room’ was really just kind of a shadowy alcove behind a wall, under the stairs. It had a doorway to it, but no actual door. It was a gloomy space, with exposed weathered wood beams crossing the ceiling, and a single light fixture hanging in a corner that was just an exposed bulb. I don’t think it even worked).
“Well. Doug was peeved because he said he’d been trying to talk to me all afternoon. He said he came home after class and asked if I wanted to go to the gym with him, but I just curled in my bed with the covers pulled around me; only my face showing... watching him through the doorway. He thought I was sick or something: I was really pale. He kept asking if I was alright. If I needed help, or anything. Asking what was wrong… but that I just stared at him. Stared and stared, but I didn’t answer. Then he said that I rolled over in the bed to face the wall, and he got pissed off and left. He figured if I was gonna be an asshole he would just go to the gym himself, and I could just fuck off. So he left, with me still in my bed. He was ticked, so he didn’t go home after the gym – he went to dinner on campus, then to the library, and was just headed back home again when I texted him to meet up. He was still pissed because I seemed fine now, but didn’t offer an apology, or even say anything about it. ‘It’s weird’ he said to me. Then he looked at me and I was laughing. Oh man, he got really pissed then - I thought he was acting, I really did.
“Fuck you man” I told him. “You need to make up stories about other people, dude. You can’t make up one about me, I know it’s a story, you idiot!” I laughed… I laughed, but he just looked… confused.
“Doug, man – I’ve been at my folks’ place doing my wash today. I haven’t even been home yet. Not since my morning stats class.”
Cooper stopped speaking, but kept looking at me. His colorless face was blank… emotionless.
A sharp wind blew through the pines at the edge of the clearing, and clouds dimmed the moonlight. Then, Cooper blinked. He smiled, a slow, indolent smile that numbed my heart and chilled my blood. I was frozen, looking at him, unable to speak as his eyes seemed to glow red… red. Where, I wondered to myself, would red be coming from to reflect in his eyes?
An owl screeched loudly and I jumped in my seat, turning to see that big white bird sitting on the hood; glimmering golden eyes looking right at me through the frosty windshield. A choked laugh escaped me, and with a shaky voice I told Cooper he was an asshole and I wanted to leave right fucking now. I turned back to him and stiffened. The driver’s seat was empty. I felt the fine hairs on my arms raise as goose bumps moved in a wave over my body, and a chill passed across the back of my neck…