Friday, July 30, 2010

Letters to Punkin: Immediate Storm

Letters to Punkin: Immediate Storm

Immediate Storm

"You standin' on the front porch prayin' for rain?" Russell was yelling from his house across the road. We all looked up smiling. Zuzu and Asher were in the yard, arms outstretched, hoping to get a bit damp.

"We're doing a rain dance," I yelled back.
"We sho' do need it. Do one for me too."  Russell turned and took his wife Jane by the hand to help her down the steps. Jane had recently won another round with bone cancer, but the chemo left her feeble and a bit off balance. They carefully made their way to the car. Russell held her hand while she steadied herself and crept in.

"We'll do. Y'all be's gonna rain," I said as they were driving away. A triple flash of lightning lit up the northwestern part of the sky. The kids started counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7...then a rumble of thunder. 

"Daddy, does that mean it's comin' closer, or goin' away?" Zuzu was looking up from the front sidewalk. I could see the darker spots on her shirt where the first drops had fallen. 

"Well, let's wait for another flash and we can compare how long it takes to thunder again," said Nathan as he scanned the darkening skies. He had just gotten home from working four hours away in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. He had been gone for three nights so the kids and I were happily welcoming him home. Since he'd walked in the door, it was one question after another or a very excited summary of the last few days. Nathan didn't mind the onslaught  of information, though. He answered every question and inserted the proper "wow" or "oh" where needed.

Then, a bolt of lightning. This time it was just over the horizon of the trees beside the house. 1, 2, 3, 4....BOOM! 
"I think that means, whoa! Y'all come up here with us," I said as more flashes filled the air around us and disorganized rolls of thunder sounded from all directions. "Let's just watch it from the porch, kids"

Zuzu and Asher ran up the steps and stood next to us as the wind picked up and plump, round droplets of water fell to the ground. The thunder and lightning were coming so frequently that we couldn't tell which boom went with what flash. The wind was strong enough to sway the trees, but it still seemed safe in our haven on the porch. 

"Get in the house. Get in the HOUSE!" Nathan had his back against the wall of the house and the kids turned to shield their eyes from the dust that began pelting our faces. I was looking at the silver maple in Russell's yard when the leaves and bows began to whip wildly back and forth as a wall of opaque wind and rain rushed straight at us with the force of a hurricane. It only took one or two seconds at the most, but everything seemed to move in slow motion. 

"Get in the house!" I reached for the handle to usher the kids inside, but the wind was so strong it pushed the door shut again. The trees next to the house were bending in frantic, low, unnatural ways. The creaking and moaning that came from the branches seemed to echo the warning that something bad was about to happen. I muscled my way through the wind and opened the door as dirt and leaves were thrown into my mouth and eyes. We pushed our way into the foyer and shut the door behind us.

Moments later, as we were huddled in the basement, the sound of a bird chattering signaled that the worst was over. Nathan, Zuzu, Asher, and I carefully stepped outside to assess the damage, completely forgetting that dinner was cold on the table. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"What the Leaves Won't Hold" (Part 7)

I heard the thunder rumbling somewhere far away. I hadn't put much faith in the rains actually wetting the
patches of dirt that dotted what used to be a lush and thriving garden. "What are we doing?" I wasn't sure if  I
said that out loud. I thought it had come out as a whisper, but it could have just been a loud thought. I said
those words to myself so much I couldn't be sure anymore whether they came out.
"Life is too short." Was that your voice or mine? I knew you must be feeling the same cold rush of time blow
past your face. How could you not? "We'll have her for less time now than we have had until this point." That
was me. That one I couldn't keep in.
I walked outside to see how far away the dark clouds were. I could feel the temperature dip and the wind
tousle my hair as the first drops fell. "It's a shame, not knowing what you should know in the first place. No
one understands until it's over." You always made sense. A loud crack of thunder, a flash of lightning, and the
skies opened. I thought the porch would keep us dry, but the rain poured in sideways soaking us both.
"When you're in it, you're not aware of everything sliding past you. You just laugh and go on like it will be that
way forever. Then, one day, you look at the faces of these people and realize they've changed. Everything is
different and you've got nothing to show for the passing time."
A pause in the downpour effectively caused a lull in the conversation. It was the deep breath before the
"What are we doing?" It didn't matter who said it anymore. The fact that it was being said at all was enough. The rain was all but gone now. It wasn’t enough to do much good for very long. My eyes burned as I watched your mouth form the words, but all I could hear were a few droplets the silver maple beside our house clung to as it reluctantly gave up and let them fall.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Oldest Movie Palace

Virginia's oldest "Movie Palace", The Byrd Theater,was built in 1928. Since then it has been going strong year in and year out (with the exception of renovation times). The seats are old and torn, the roof needs some leaks fixed, and there are other things that could help this gorgeous old girl really shine...if only they had the funding.
Recently the Byrd Foundation was approached with an opportunity to win a grant from Pepsi Company. So, they decided to hold a writing contest to pick a favorite Byrd memory. I was one of the two winners. We begin filming soon..... (yay!!!!)

There are many reasons the Byrd Theater deserves the Pepsi grant. Its historical value to the
city of Richmond, its beauty, and nostalgia are just a few. However, the Byrd is (personally) very special to me.
When I was twenty years old, I moved from Florida to Richmond to be with my boyfriend who had just graduated from VCU. We didn’t have a care in the world. He was a musician and I went with him wherever he played. Between the two of us, we barely made enough money to pay rent for our small apartment, and we definitely couldn’t afford a night on the town. Whenever we had a chance we would empty the change jar in the kitchen and scrounge enough money for two tickets to whatever movie happened to be showing that night. We never checked ahead of time to see what was playing. We’d just walk down Cary Street, into this beautiful old movie house, and for about $4.00, have a romantic evening together.
That first Christmas I spent in Richmond was scant at best, but it was so very special. Christmas Eve night we walked to the Byrd to see “It’s a Wonderful Life”. The show began by the lights dimming and the Mighty Wurlitzer rising from the orchestra pit with a disco ball spinning above. The organist played carols and the entire packed house joined in song. After a few fun minutes of music, the organist ended his introduction to the main event with a blessing for the new year and a moment of silence for the past. Then, the opening credits, and my most favorite movie of all began. I was touched. At that moment, I knew more than ever there was just something special about this old place.
My boyfriend and I married, got jobs, and had our first child. We named her Zuzu (after Jimmy Stewart’s daughter in the movie). Zuzu is ten years old now, has a little brother, and as a family we’ve enjoyed Christmas Eve at the Byrd Theater every year since. Even if the Byrd kept the old torn seats forever, we’d never stop going. It’s as much a part of our family tradition as Santa himself. But, there is no doubt in any of our minds that the Byrd Theater is absolutely deserving of a grant to keep her beautiful, up, and running so that people like us can enjoy our Richmond tradition for years to come.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Still working out the bugs...

I knew the second I felt my itchy trigger finger flinch, there was no stopping the email from being prematurely sent. Lesson learned. The next time I write something that is going to be judged, sit on it for a minute! I didn't even title it!! Rookie.

Still, I didn't lose exactly. An honorable mention is absolutely wonderful, and I am very proud to have been recognized by people who are actually published writers! However, I know what I did wrong. There is that voice again, "Fool. You should have done this." I know, I know.

May 2, 2010
entry #7

Dear Punkin,
Observationally speaking, yesterday was one of the most interesting insights into the "little people's" culture that I have witnessed thus far.
The smaller of the two, adorned in a white shirt with numbers on the back and long striped socks, joined with other little people on a large field of grass. There were nets set up on either side of the rectangular area where they ran around frantically trying to kick a spotted ball into them. It all seemed very chaotic to me, though every "little" on the field seemed to derive great joy from pelting one another in the shins. Oddly during this event, their arms appeared to be paralyzed as they never once did the obvious and simply pick up the spotted ball and throw it into the net. I have yet to surmise any possible reason for such behavior.
Periodically, the small one would run at me and seemingly demand that I pour water into its open mouth and all about its head. It would then return to the field of grass and continue beating the other's legs with its feet.
Because I had expected an onslaught of whines and clicks after such an activity, I was able to quickly throw the foodstuffs into their mouths and escape to the sanctuary of our room. For now, I am safe. Though for how long I cannot say. I am, as always, awaiting your swift return.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I wrote this for a "Flash Fiction Contest"

Contest rules: 400 words, must use the words, "crimson", "sincere", and "rickshaw"
I stuck with the original format.

"Hopscotch and Wine"

As he wrapped the blanket tighter around his shoulders, a draft of cold air sent a chill down Nathan’s back. He shivered as he looked at the unopened envelope in his hand. It was crinkled in the middle and around the right side where he’d toyed with the idea of not reading its contents at all. The handwriting on the outside revealed its author. After all, his wife had sent word about their children many times before. Nathan sat in his hotel room on the edge of the crimson flowered comforter and ran his forefinger under the flap she had licked to seal the news.

January 7, 2010

Dear Punkin,

This may very well be my final transmission. Those little people are back again. They have now taken washable writing sticks and drawn an alien language down the sidewalk out front. I can only assume it is some sort of signal to the "others" like them. They have fashioned a grid with what appears to be numbers written inside the boxes. They then stand inside a drawn semi-circle and throw a single stone which lands on one of the numbers. Then, horrifyingly, they hop on one foot to pick up the stone they just discarded, all the while laughing out loud. I'm frightened!! I shudder to think what would happen if they noticed me spying from the kitchen window. If they sense my most sincere need for solitude they are sure to stop me before I am able to ascend the stairs. It's like they're trying to tell me something! I just KNOW it! I will try throwing foodstuffs at their mouths and surrounding them with the loud, plastic things you bring from your travels in Asia.
I do not know how long the “little people” intend to hold me captive, and I am beginning to believe there may not be enough wine in the house to sustain me until you return.
You’re my only hope.


Nathan dropped the letter and gazed out the window to the street below. He knew what he must do. He grabbed his suitcase and ran out the hotel door leaving the blanket and the letter to lie on the rented room’s floor.

Waiting just outside was the rickshaw and driver that couldn’t get him to the train station fast enough.

Written by Leslie M. Brown

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Quote of the day

Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put. -Winston Churchill

Some sort of grid with numbers and signs.

Some sort of grid with numbers and signs.