I didn’tunderstand it, we’d been dating a year and Raph never touched me in public. He didn’t mind when I rubbed his back in the mall or if I made the effort to lace my fingers through his. When I first pecked him on the cheek in public he blushed bright red.
I asked him one day why he didn’t touch me in public. In private he couldn’t keep his hands off me. He didn’t mind cuddling at home and he often tangled his hand in my hair or massaged the back of my neck while we watched TV. I adored these touches but didn’t understand why he was afraid to initiate small bits of PDA.
I explained to Raph how it was important to me because it made me feel like I was his, that he loved me, and didn’t care what anyone else thought of us. He was angry at first and confused, but the next day as we grocery shopped he linked his pinky through mine while we waited to pay.
Two days later he casually put his arm around my shoulders at his friend’s house. I snuggled into him kissing him when his buddy went to grab more beer. I linked my pinky with his and smiling, Raph returned the kiss as his friend walked into the living room. I was thrilled Raph understood how much these small touches meant to me.
Twilight fades and darkness overtakes the sun. It’s difficult to see at night in the winter when there isn’t much snow. Those glistening piles such as frozen clouds, usually manage to catch the moon’s radiant glow. But tonight the only light outside is a crescent moon and far above, the glimmering stars.
The lights on the dashboard flicker on and I gaze at you behind the wheel, humming softly to yourself as you continue our drive in an ink dark night. I can see from your face you’re exhausted.
“Please let me drive for you? At least a couple of hours so you can sleep, Tye?”
You roll your eyes at me in the relative darkness in the inside of our car, “You don’t drive well enough. You only drive to the grocery store and a short distance to work. You don’t have experience driving on icy highways at night, Cara” Tye looks at me waiting for me to respond.
Finally I peep, “When I took my drivers lessons, we drove on icy snowy highways. I drive all around the city,” I inform him. “Highways aren’t my favorite but you’re falling asleep at the wheel and I can handle driving until we reach Red Deer. The roads are deserted and I’m going to be driving straight and making sure I stay a good distance behind any other vehicle I come across.”
Tye nods and bites his lip. I can tell he has no energy to argue with me. “I do need the sleep badly. When we get to Red Deer let’s stop and stay at a hotel for the night, okay Cara?” I smile at Tye in agreement and watch him pull the car over to the side of the highway to trade seats wih me.
I start to drive and at first I can see he’s a bit frightened for me and frankly so am I. But eventually Tye realizes I can keep up the speed on the highway and that I’m driving well, keeping my eyes on the road.
At one moment I feel the car wiggle and slide over an ice patch but I pump the breaks and I drive the car without incident again. I wonder if he noticed my dangerous slip, but peering to my side I see Tye is sound asleep.
My poor guy, I think running my one hand through his hair as we reach Red Deer. I park the car near a decent hotel. The Best Western appears newer and well taken care of. Tye rubs his eyes when I gently shake him awake.
When we are finally in our room I shower and I’m surprised when he joins me. “So, we’re talking again I guess? You’re not mad at me anymore?” I ask Tye.
He holds me from behind, curving his body into mine and sighing in my wet hair. He kisses my cheek, “I don’t want to fight with you Cara. I want us to us again. I don’t like that your ex kissed you, but I thought about it the entire time we’ve been driving home from the mountains. You didn’t initiate the kiss and your friends said the same thing. My buddies agreed with them too. The whole situation made me so angry, I can’t even explain it.”
I nod and rest my head back on Tye’s bare shoulder, “I would never, you know that? But I can’t explain things to you if you won’t communicate with me. We could’ve solved this back in the mountains and skipped the tense ride home. I didn’t mean to make you jealous. I punched my ex for hitting on me after you went back to the hotel still foaming at the mouth,” I say with a proud smirk.
Tye strokes my cheek and kisses my lips, “Punched him, hey? I’m so happy to hear you did. I wanted to morethan punch him before I cooled down. It’s all forgotten, Cara. But I think we could both use some extra distractions just in case.”
I giggle and turn around so I’m flush against Tye, “Okay, let’s completely wipe our minds clear of the past couple of days.”
The night became one of our most memorable nights together.
Hi everyone! Wonderful to see you again for this biweekly interview withMicheleVecchitto. Michele is a friendly and kind woman who has a talent for writing wonderful poetry and engaging stories. I have been following her for a couple of years now, so I hope you will like her writing as much as I do. You can visit her blog here: Steps Times Two – Love and Life . . . The Second Time Around.
1. Hi Michele, Please Tell Us About Where You’re From?
I live in Niantic. It’s a lovely town on the Connecticut shoreline that somehow manages to hold on to the charm of days gone by while still offering all the conveniences I might need.
One of the many treasures in Niantic is a used bookstore calledThe Book Barn.It now has four or five satellite locations, but the main store is a complex which includes a large barn and several quirky, smaller buildings, each overflowing with books devoted to a particular genre. The few resident cats and some goats, add to its unique vibe. It’s a place to spend the day and get lost in books. Niantic also recently opened a new boardwalk along the beach that offers fantastic views and a place to meet neighbors.
2. Can You Tell Us More About Yourself, Your Everyday Life?
I’m the second of four sisters. My family is especially close and the fifteen children my sisters and I have between behave more like siblings than cousins. My parents are definitely the foundation of our lives. I love everything about belonging to a large family – the support, the laughter, the chaos, and the history we create.
My three children are young adults, busy finding their place in the world. In some ways, they could not be more different from one another, but they remain close. I’m enjoying watching them evolve into the adults they will become. I’m proud of the choices they’ve made and the direction each of them is following in life.
I’ve been exceptionally lucky to find a man who provides the perfect balance to my life.My husband and I have been married just over five years. Markis an Executive Chef and extremely creative in his own way.
Our personalities are different but we complement each other well. We are each other’s top priority and do everything we can to support each other in our many endeavors. We’ve intertwined our families and I feel blessed to have his three strong, caring, and talented children in my life as well. They, along with their families, are a vital part of my life.
On a professional level, I teach middle school Literature and Language Arts. I love working with students of this age. It’s my favorite age group of kids. I’ve taught math and science and enjoy teaching each subject, but I’m most thrilled to spend my days sharing Literature with my classes. Preteens and teens this age are discovering their voice and it’s exciting to see the world through their eyes.
Additionally, I work as a freelance editor. I’m working with an audio book company and enjoy the exposure to books I might not otherwise read.
“I’ve been exceptionally lucky to find a man who provides the perfect balance to my life. My husband and I have been married just over five years. Mark is an Executive Chef and extremely creative in his own way.” – Michele Vecchitto
3. When Did You First Start Writing and Blogging?
I started my blog in 2014 as a way of keeping myself disciplined about writing, but I’ve always been a writer. I kept journals as a teenager and still have poems I wrote for a memorable class in high school.
My teacher, Ms. Jordan, helped me discover my voice and probably inspired me to become a teacher. I was a stay at home mom for fifteen-years, and when my children were in school, I’d spend eight or more hours a day writing. I took writing classes and completed two novels and a few children’s books.
When I divorced in 2007 and returned to work full time, I lost some of my dedication to the craft. Steps Times Two is my blog and remedy to not being able to write all day anymore.
4. What Does Writing and Blogging Mean To You? Why Do You Write?
I’ve always been a writer as mentioned earlier. I many of my stories and poems from younger days and used to write tales for my kids, nieces, and nephews.
I find if I have an idea for a poem or a story, it screams in my head until I write it down. It’s a great way to discover new ways of thinking about situations or work through issues which lurk beneath the surface. There were times, when I was going through my divorce, writing preserved my sanity.
Beyond these meanings, I love the way writing connects people. I am so excited to be able to talk with people from all over the world about subjects I have brought up or someone else has written about. It sounds sappy, but I believe people are more alike than different and we all have something to share. I am a big fan of the community writing fosters between writers and readers (etc).
“I find if I have an idea for a poem or a story, it screams in my head until I write it down. It’s a great way to discover new ways of thinking about situations or work through issues which lurk beneath the surface. There were times, when I was going through my divorce, writing preserved my sanity.” – Michelle Vecchitto
5. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write?
Sometimes motivation comes from pure emotion. I do some my best writing when I am out of my mind angry or excited about something or someone. I find the best writes are the ones in which I completely lose myself and emerge after I’ve released all my demons on the page. It’s a purge of excess energy which takes on a life of it’s own. Surrendering to the moment can lead to exciting results.
Inspiration for me can come from anywhere:a look between two people; a snippet of conversation I overhear; the expression on someone’s face when they don’t notice I’m looking; and/or an unexpected situation or some mundane activity we all experience. Music also inspires me. My playlist has a bit of everything on it and I love to hit play and let my mind drift. Sometimes I’ll find something to write about immediately and other times, I have to file an idea away and let it resurface when it’s ready.
As well, I’m a huge fan of writing prompts and blogging events. It’s a terrific way to stay involved in the writing community and interact with other people. I love to follow and read what other people are writing because each piece leaves me with something to think about and offers a varied perspective to consider. Prompts for me are similar to a puzzle. Each of us figures out how to put the pieces together in a different way to create authentic images. It’s fun when someone has a completely unique take on the same prompt.
6. Is There A Time Of Day You Prefer to Write?
I prefer to write in the mornings, although, it’s not always possible. During the week, I will write when I come home from teaching school. When I was a stay-at-home mom, I’d write from the time the kids went to school until they came home. I miss those days! I’m hoping to stay home next year and write full time.
“I do some my best writing when I am out of my mind angry or excited about something or someone. I find the best writes are the ones in which I completely lose myself and emerge after I’ve released all my demons on the page. It’s a purge of excess energy which takes on a life of its own. Surrendering to the moment can lead to exciting results.” – Michele Vecchitto
7. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects?
I have my blog which I try to work on each day. I also post on Poet’s Corner on WordPress and do my best to keep up. I am working on a historical fiction novel based on my husband’s grandfather who escaped from Poland in the early 1900’s. I’m enjoying the research portion of this novel greatly. In addition, I recently cleaned up a YA novel I wrote about ten-years ago. My romance novel also needs editing and I have two short stories to finish.
My biggest hope for writing projects is finding time to submit projects again and become more involved in responding to all the blog posts I read. Responding to blog posts is a full time job in itself!
8. Can You Tell Us About What Your Publishing Process Has Been for Some of Your Writing?
I’ve had poems published in anthologies and in places like The Reverie Journal. I have self-published two volumes of poetry which can be found on Amazon. I’m considering adding a third volume but I think my next push will be seeking a publisher for a novel.
Years ago, when I had more time, I was organized about sending my work out. I had a contract with Blue Mountain Arts and several ‘good rejections’ from publishing houses. I took classes and attended conferences. I think networking is a huge part of the publishing process and hope to get back to it in the next year.
I’ve been invited to participate in the Austin International Poetry Festival next April. Eight of my poems will be included in their anthology and I plan to travel to the event to do some readings.
“My biggest hope for writing projects is finding time to submit projects again and become more involved in responding to all the blog posts I read. Responding to blog posts is a full time job in itself!” – Michele Vecchitto
9. Are You Able to Describe Your Writing Process To Us?
My writing process varies, depending on the type of project I’m working on, but it always includes music. I have a million playlists and a great pair of headphones.
The first thing I do is put my headphones on and blast the music so I can disappear from the world around me.If I’m working on a poem, I jot ideas or prompts on post-it notes and arrange them around my writing space.
If I’m working on a formal piece, I’ll have notes on rhyme schemes and various types of poetry. After I write, I’ll look for photos to accompany what I’ve written and then decide on a title. My titles always happen last.
If I’m working on a novel or short story, the music part is the same, but I’ll have notes on my bulletin board or in folders which I can flip through. I also send rough drafts to my sister Maureen. She’s read everything I’ve ever written and offers me honest feedback. She’ll tell me what works for her as a reader and what doesn’t, then I go back and edit.
I set my larger pieces aside, sometimes for days but often for months, and then return to them so I can see them with fresh eyes. My YA book has been through three major revisions already and I think it’s almost ready to send out.
11. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing or Reading? Any Genres In Particular?
I’m not sure you can be a writer without being a reader. I love both equally and will read almost anything. I like to balance my writing with quick, light reads and books which require more concentration. I’m a big non-fiction reader. It must be the teacher in me, but there’s never too much knowledge to learn. I always want to discover new things.
My own writing style has surprised me at times. My YA book is a fantasy novel which is something I’ve never followed, however; a fantasy story was the tale waiting to be told when I tackled the YA book project.
I must confess, I do enjoy writing darker, more provocative pieces. There’s such power there. I enjoy inspirational pieces as well.Both of these kinds of writing have their place.
“The first thing I do is put my headphones on and blast the music so I can disappear from the world around me.” – Michele Vecchitto
12. Do You Have Any Advice For Other Writers or Anything Else You Would Like To Add?
I find the more I write, the better I get. It’s a commitment and like any other craft, needs to be nurtured so, keep writing.
I’ve also started aFacebookpage and hope to add more writing related posts in addition to my own poems. Twitterhas been a great resource for finding writing communities and sharing information for me as well.
13. Do You Have Any Favorite Blogs?
I’m not sure I have favorites. I love to read blogs of all styles and content. A friend of mine started a blog in which she combines book reviews and running calledBelle of the Book. It’s fun to follow a blog when you know the writer personally. If the writing is good I want to read it.
14. Here is A Piece of Michele’s Writing She Has Shared:
Michele says about “Deerfield’s Ghost:” “I love this one because it almost wrote itself. When I came to the point when I narrowed in on a subject, I googled “massacre” to find a specific date to use and came across a list of victims from the Deerfield massacre of 1704. The funny thing is, it included the names and ages of people I had included in my poem.”
More Links To Michele’s Blog Pieces:
Ray holds special meaning for me because it was written for a dear friend who passed away. Reading it at his funeral was the first time I’d read my poetry in public and I feel grateful I had a chance to honor him in this way.
Small Town Hens is an example of a poem I wrote after I witnessed a situation that made my blood boil. It makes me chuckle now because it captured my disgust at poor behavior.
Light of Love was written after the nightclub attack in Orlando. I will sometimes respond to current events in poetry. This incident demanded a response.
The Choice and Metamorphosis are two old ones that I wrote during very difficult times. I try to live my life as described in “The Choice”and “Metamorphosis” speaks to the ability to persevere in even the darkest of times.
Thanks to Michele for thoroughly and thoughtfully answering the interview questions. I wish her much luck with her writing and future endeavours. Here is the link to her blogone more time: Steps Times Two.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s interview. If you would like to share and answer interview questions on writing and blogging of any kind, feel free to reach-out to me on my contact page.See you in two-weeks!
“When the comet hit, the town lit up like a Christmas tree. The holidayswere usually uneventful so sister Bernadette was surprised when it destroyed the Abbey. It made her think, “. . .her last dash to the mall [with her two friends had] had unforeseen consequences.”
The sisters near this town were an austere group of nuns. Their Christmas celebration consisted of countless hours stuck in mass. Dinner was no different from any other time of year, except each nun got a piece of disgustingly hard fruit cake. Bernadette was blessed to have two friends who made it possible for her to last through each lacklustre day at the Abbey.
Sister Sara and sister Pauline, had driven with Bernadette to the shopping center in town, deciding to buy each other Christmas presents this year — though it was frowned uponat the Abbey. Then, Pauline had said the fated words outloud:
“You know, I’m thinking of leaving the Abbey. I don’t think Our Saviour would’ve liked such an hateful and bitter place. I wish the process of leaving was somehow easier. ”
Bernadette and Sara had nodded in agreement and that’s when the comet hit the Abbey. All three sisters had grimaced and crossed themselves.
“I didn’t want all those nuns to die, but I guess when God answers prayers, he reallyanswers them,” Pauline said shocked.
Despite their genuine sorrow at the deaths of their other sisters (most of them) a small smile touched the lips of all three friends.
They threw off their habits and never looked back. Clearly, this was a sign from God.
Tallia anxiously glanced at Teegan who was asleep on her waiting area couch. She was sure Teegan would be angry at her for drugging his coffee, but Tallia didn’t feel she had a choice. Something was off about Teegan and the darkness surrounding him and Tallia didn’t want to make his potion rashly; there could be dire consequences.
She had found one ingredient which was odd, scrawled off to the side of the ingredients and directions for the potion for Teegan in her Aunt Willow’s tome. Apparently, the potion required a giant gold fish. Tallia wasn’t sure why Teegan’s potion would require the gold fish, but it was something she would have to leave the store to buy.
Teegan had told her if he drank his potion the darkness surrounding him, the shadow that caused a sensitive magically inclined person such as Tallia to hurt and feel pain, would leave for a long time. How long was a long time? And how old was Teegan really? To her he looked about thirty-five.
If he was as old as she thought he might be, she knew he might understand the sleeping drought in his coffee, knowing Tallia as a magic shop owner, had to be wary if Teegan’s potion involved dark magic. Tallia had no way of knowing how long he would be asleep from the drought. She had tried calling Jude, the owner of The Black Coven magic store numerous times on his cell.
Jude must be having a brisk business at his store because he or his assistant, never picked-up the store phone either. Jude was about eighty-years-old as best as she could guess. But his family magic shop dated back to the Middle Ages. He had to know something about Teegan and the potion.
Tallia checked on Teegan one more time, she hoped he’d be out another two hours at least. She needed to leave the store buy the giant goldfish as well as visit Jude. Something inside her told Tallia it was vital she gathered as much information she could get on Teegan and his potion before she set about making it.
She drove her Vespa to The Black Coven first. It was located in an ancient, rundown part of town dating back to the 1400’s. But those who needed to visit Jude’s magic shop, knew how to find it. As Tallia’s own magic shop had been with Aunt Willow, Jude’s place was also a hole in the wall.
The streets were narrow here and Tallia knew her Vespa would be more inconspicuous, as well as, she would be able to travel down narrow streets she couldn’t maneuver with her car. There was a bit of parking lot a block down from The Black Coven. Tallia parked, leaving her Vespa in a parking space.
She walked down to the ancient magic shop, opening the creaky old wooden door and removed her side-bag. She had placed her Aunt’s great tome in her bag. She turned the book to the correct page, listing ingredients and directions to make Teegan’s potion in the script Tallia did not recognize.
Then she called out, “Hello Jude, are you there? It’s Tallia, Willow’s niece. I’m sure you felt me coming. Was there a reason you didn’t pick up the phone? Or have you guys been extremely busy today?”
Tallia received no answer. She gazed around the dusty store, it appeared empty.”Um, Jude’s assistant, Aspen, are you here? We’ve never meant, but last time I talked to Jude, he’d said he hired you to take over from him?”
Again Tallia received no reply. She walked around the magic shop. The Black Coven was a mishmash of magical items all stored on old stone and wooden shelves in no particular order or thought to design.
Powerful and dangerous items were among those items which were standard, and pretty harmless magical items. She saw crystal balls, different statues, and a wall with ingredients for potions and spells kept in jars.
She was shocked to see certain items used only for dark sorcery. These items frightened Tallia. She could sense there blackness in her mind. They were much worse than the darkness which followed Teegan — at least she thought so.
Jude had always been grandfatherly to Tallia. She had meant him many times as grew-up. He often had coffee with her Great-Aunt and Aunt. She wondered why he wasn’t answering her. Tallia walked up to the counter where a 1950’s cash register sat in dust. There was a bell and Tallia dinged it a few times.
Eventually, a man about the same age as Teegan came out. He looked Tallia over and before she could say anything he held up his hand.
“We knew you were coming Tallia. It’s alright. Jude hasn’t been well lately and he’s in the hospital. For his age, he has done well until now. It’s why he hired me to handle things. I’m one of his great-grandsons, I’m. . .”
“You’re Aspen. I know, Jude told me about you last time I saw him a few months ago. He attended my shop’s re-opening. I run Fairy Dust.”
“Yes, Jude told me about you. You rang his cell, but he has trouble talking right now my Aunt told me. He had a stroke. I’m sorry I was busy when you called out in here. From what I can glean from you, you’re dealing with some sort of darkness from a client and you need some advice,” Aspen said.
Tallia nodded, “Poor Jude, that’s awful. I’m sorry for your family.” She put the tome in front of Aspen and waited as he read and reread the potion procedure and ingredients.
“These seem to be pretty normal ingredients, except for the large goldfish. But maybe the potion requires it’s life force? I’m not sure what to tell you Tallia. What’s Teegan like?”
Tallia couldn’t help but blush thinking about Teegan.”He’s demanding but seems to be understanding enough. I thought he was about your age, when he first came to my shop. I could feel the shadow emanating from him. It made me sick, especially when he came back the second time.”
“The second time?”
“Well I pretended I was sick the first day, even though he did give me a headache. I went home for the afternoon and I hoped he’d go somewhere else. But the next day he was back. He told me he was old. My Aunt and Great Aunt made him his potion before. He was able to stop me from feeling ill, from hurting me, by chanting a few words,” Tallia said.
“I’m not sure what I’m dealing with, will the potion truly make Teegan well? Will it make such evil leave him?”
Aspen was paying attention to Tallia’s words carefully. She noticed he was concentrating. He wasn’t bad looking himself. He had auburn hair and bright green eyes. He was tall but not as tall as Teegan. He was attractive but more in a nice guy way. Teegan was definitively what women would call a bad boy.
“Well,” Aspen said,”I think your Teegan is cursed. That’s why he needs the potion, quite badly I’m afraid. You really should hurry back and make it for him. We’ve an extra goldfish around here somewhere, we must.”
“Cursed, cursed by what or whom?”
“It’s hard to say Tallia. Jude would know more I think. Even so I believe Teegan is much older than Jude by hundreds of years. I’ve heard whispers of Teegan. He must have done something terrible in the past would be my guess. Something awful enough to warrant being cursed to live so long and to require a potion.”
Tallia sighed, letting out her breath.
“I have a feeling if he doesn’t get this tonic, he’ll be a resistant foe to deal with Tallia. There’s a reason he takes it. I doubt he wants to be who he is when he’s dark. He wants to be normal and this potion allows him to be.”
“You know all this?” Tallia questioned. “How did you know?”
Aspen smiled mysteriously, “There’s things I’ve heard Tallia. Also, I can read through you, what you felt around Teegan. I can feel his presence too, so could Jude; he’s a powerful guy. Go back and make his potion quickly. He’ll be awake soon.”
“But . . .”
“Tallia, such as you and many other magically inclined people, I have a sixth-sense. That’s how I know these things.You have one too, although less developed. It’s telling you to go back to Fairy Dust and hurry.”
Her blue eyes became huge and Tallia nodded mutely. Aspen handed Tallia a bag with the giant goldfish.”On the house,” he said with a grin. She wondered how they had this giant goldfish just lying around. It wasn’t a typical magical ingredient.
Tallia called back to Aspen lightly,”Stop by come check-out my store some time; have coffee.” He walked her to the door and Tallia stuffed the tome back in her side bag.
“I’d like that,” Aspen said grinning. He winked at Tallia as she left. She was deep in thought and was surprised to find herself getting onto her Vespa, placing the fish on the back of it.
She told herself to payattention and hurriedly drove back to Fairy Dust. Tallia too felt she needed to make Teegan his potion and fast. She prayed he wouldn’t be angry with her or worse. With such darkness within him, she didn’t want to be an object of Teegan’s wrath.
Alice was home from school. She hated boarding school, but she hadn’t had a choice. Her father had insisted his daughter have the best education a girl could have. This meant school was not merely academics as it was for boys. Her boarding school was an all girls boarding school and a great deal of focus was put into “the finishing school” aspect of education for women.
She needed to learn how to be a proper hostess and wife; those were the ideals of the Victorian woman. She needed to be the angel in the house, the moral compass of her household.
Alice spent countless classes based on the proper religion for an English girl. The God her school taught about, was an an angry God; judgemental and all powerful. He didn’t seem particularly forgiving. But she was told doing her duty as woman would make God happy.
Alice and her best friends Margaret and Prudence, often liked to cause trouble. They played tricks and sometimes skipped their more tedious classes. The girls were often punished with rulers smacking their hands soundly until they couldn’t feel them. Or writing lines of verses from The Bible until their fingers were too numb to write or days.
All in all, the school couldn’t punish Alice and her friends how the would’ve punished other girls. Her and her friends were daughters of enomoreous patrons of the girl’s school.
That being said, Alice was excited to go home for the summer. She thought fondly of her childhood, her dreams that always wandered to her childhood fantasy world Wonderland.
When the carriage dropped her off, Alice approached her home with a bit of trepidation. Her mother had been angry she had left flowers all over the headmasters office. The man had almost had a heart attack and Alice had laughed and laughed when she heard what he discovered. Bringing her suitcase with her, she opened the front door.
Suddenly, the house started to move in various directions from the front entrance. Staircases opened from every way, along with doors leading to God knows where.
Alice had a peculiar feeling, she was travelling back to her childhood world. Staircases continued to rumble and groan as they moved. Leaving her suitcase, Alice jumped onto a staircase leading to a familiar giant golden door knob with a large decorated keyhole underneath.
Suddenly, the door knob sneezed. “You again. I thought I’d seen the last of you.”
“Alice, yes? I remember. I had a cold last time you were here too; although, you’ve grown since then. Thinned out too, you were a bit fat for awhile, all that bread.”
She gasped, “Excuse me, the ideal woman these days, has a round body with childbearing hips, my teachers told me and my mother agrees. And you aren’t even real. I’m dreaming.”
“I wish the staircases would stop moving and the rest of the house weren’t so confusing. I have no idea where to go and I really was looking forward to a nap, ” Alice complained.
The giant door knob sneezed again. “No Alice, I know you and you know me. You know us all. It’s been a while and you’ve blocked us out. We tried to visit, but you convinced yourself we were all childhood dreams, despite having been to Wonderland twice.”
“You do play delightful tricks at school, I must say –you, Margaret, and Prudence. You should’ve brought them along . . . Then again, they wouldn’t believe Wonderland is real either. They don’t believe in magic, but you do. Oh, you deny it Alice but you do believe. You wouldn’t be back here if you didn’t,” the door knob lectured.
Alice stomped her foot, “You’re not real.”
“I am indeed, open me. Better yet, have some of that bread you like so much, in your left pocket first; it should do the trick.”
She gasped and frowned when she put her hand in her pocket and found the delicious bread. She nibbled on the edge. Alice hadn’t realized how hungry she was. She took a bigger bite of bread and sighed with pleasure.
“Not too much,” the door knob cautioned. She sniffed and raised her nose at him; she had shrunk in size considerably. Carefully, Alice turned the icky runny door knob nose, she needed no key. She stepped into another world; wiping her hands on her skirt, before gazing up in shock.
Alice truly was in the Wonderland of her youth. It appeared to be the same as she dreamt it to be. A path lay in front of her and she saw her body had become small. The grass and foliage around Alice was lush and towered over her.
She started to think of her old Wonderland friends when she came upon a catapillar on a large mushroom.”But you’re a butterfly now,” she said to the catapillar without thinking.
The catapiller sniffed at her and took a long drag from his hookah. “Whoareyou? Have you figured it out yet? Time does pass. My great-grandfather spoke of you. Time doesn’t move so fast here. He’s out flying about and I’m waiting until I can fly too. Why have you returned?”
Alice blinked rapidly. “I don’t know. I went through a doorway talked to a door knob, shrank, and now I’m here. It’s not a dream is it?”
The catapullar laughed, taking another drag. “I assure you. It’s all quite real. There’s a pathway going that way,” he pointed to his right. “You should go there. It leads somewhere important.”
“I see it’s a dock and we’re below it. It’s so large. Should I go below it in the sand? Or should I grow larger and go ontop of the dock. It’s quite big when you’re only six-inches tall.”
The catapillar laughed, inhaling his hookah promptly after . “There you go insulting those of us only six-inches tall again. Do you have bread in your pocket to grow taller?”
Alice searched in her right pocket, “No bread but I think the mushroom you are laying upon has one side which will make me larger. Alice ate of one side which made her shrink more, than climbed up the mushroom to eat off the other side. She grew until she was her normal size again.
“Curious and curiouser,” she said. “This is all too familiar. I hope there’s no seagull who thinks I’m a serphant ready to eat her young.”
“You can say that again,” the catapillar said smirking. He bowed his head as Alice walked off, having shoved a piece of mushroom in her right pocket for future use.
She walked ontop of the dock until there was nothing but a short stairwell leading to a row boat in the sea. She recalled this moment in her second journey to Wonderland. But there should be a sheep somewhere she reasoned.
On que a sheep appeared and they both rowed off into the sea, but it wasn’t really a sea. Alice thought it was more like a river. The sheep said: “Bahhh,” then smiled at Alice.”Hello Alice have you learned to feather yet?”
“Oh, that’s a rowing term. I understand now. Same with catching a crab. I was so young then, sheep. I reached for those rushes remember? They’re still look and smell lovely. You can never catch the most beautiful ones, they are free.”
The sheep bleated and sighed. “Do you ever think, Alice, that beauty is not meant to be tamed or kept?”
“It’s a curious question coming from a sheep. But I think beauty should be left to exist and shine. You’re saying I should leave the lovely smelling rushes alone?” Alice asked.
The sheep sighed again. “I’m not talking about rushes. You should pay attention Alice. That school you go to and those Victorian norms and rules of society, do you think they’re all correct? Do you believe everything you are taught without question?”
Alice wrinkled her forehead and thought. “No not really. My bestfriends don’t either. It’s why we play tricks, skip classes, it’s why I sit in class bored. I do not want to be a proper woman, a tamed or kept Victorian housewife with her brood of children. I don’t want to think God is always angry and mean; I think he’s benevolent too.”
“Ah, I didn’t think you agreed with your education. I think in the future things will be better, only wait and don’t grow-up too much. Don’t forget Wonderland –we’ll see you when you dream. We need your wildness, Alice.”The sheep bleated again and Alice instantly, woke up.
She was riding in a carriage to her house for summer vacation. She attempted to remember her dreams. Alice swore she dreamt of Wonderland vividly. But all she could remember was a sheep telling her to stay wild and untamed. She grinned thinking of the tricks she played at school. She wasn’t a tame women yet; never if she had her way.
I’m so thrilled with Lady Gage’s new album. I love her dance and pop-music stuff but her new songs, some of them go deep. This is one of those songs and I used the lyrics “Angel Down” for this poem. What I love is how in the video she is live, and sounds the same as if you were listening to her on her new album. Talented singer!
She built her life, she built it strong, made it so —
It wouldn’t fall;but you can fortify —
The keep, make it so no one can slip in,
There are always cracks within perfection;
Angel Down, Angel Down.
You can see the lines forming before she breaks,
Memories from the past she thought would save.
She’s safe –an illusion broken when the mirror —
Of life shatters within her face, she’s beat;
Angel Down, Angel Down.
Trapped in a birdcage, no song to sing,
Her tunes aren’t lucid and her wings are clipped,
Such dreams as a young woman, such glad times,
Now she’s angry, so frustrated — life’s a lie;
Angel Down, Angel Down.
Paints her makeup mask, hide the mirror’s blood tracks,
She thinks she’s imperfect tries to conceal —
New dress, she’s pretty, long legs on display yet,
She can’t hide feelings, she doesn’t fit in here;
Angel Down, Angel Down.
He said heels were stupid, girls can’t walk on —
Four-inch needles; yet they made her happy.
Night of the dance, stumbled; wore light blue chucks,
Sitting on the radio at the party crying;
Angel Down, Angel Down.
Years pass, another day spent sifting in,
Her see-through life, on clothing racks, she —
Attempts to find the perfect fit, but she —
Knows like her, it’s elusive, can’t be found;
Angel Down, Angel Down.
Music saves some, for others it magnifies,
A hurt and hole inside her –can God even fill?
Remembering hideaways, experiences —
To fill the void within, smile with tears dripping;
Angel Down, Angel Down.
Time in lavish living rooms, won’t make her,
Feel love she’s so denied; she can’t even —
Love her own body, isn’t what it was,
She fingers trinkets bought, fears with tears smear;
Angel Down, Angel Down.
Jewel she thought would invoke good memories,
Fill her with hope and joy again; sharp pains of —
Anna sighs as the teacher tells the grade-one students in her class to find a partner of the opposite gender to dance with for a Christmas concert song they will also sing.
Anna is a bit chubby. She doesn’t eat much if any junk food. Her parents are careful about feeding their kids candy because children on Anna’s Dad’s side of the family have a tendency to be chubby. They tell Anna she has those genes. Her weight bothers her even at a young age. Anna doesn’t think she is fat compared to some chubbier girls around her age; she sees how much and what they eat — often fruit roll ups and McDonald’s Happy Meals.
Nevertheless, the boys pick on Anna for her weight and they don’t like her as they like some of the smaller and cuter girls. She’s not unpopular but she’s not popular either. Anna is nice and gets along with almost everyone. She is smart and can read better than most kids in her class. Her worst problem is a tendency to cry if she gets into trouble.
Anna peers around the music room and sees the other boys and girls have partnered up. The only boy left is Devon. Anna and Devon look at each other unhappily. The teacher, Mrs. Nette, pushes them together and starts to teach the six-year-olds to waltz. Both the boys and girls think co-ed dancing is kind of icky, unless you happen to end up dancing with someone one you have a crush on.
Devon looks at Anna and sneers. He was her friend Roxeanne’s little brother. Roxeanne lived by Anna’s house and she was a good friend who was a couple grades ahead of Anna.
Anna peers up at Devon and tries to take his hand as Mrs. Netted instructed, but Devon doesn’t want to touch her. He makes a fuss to the teacher. Mrs.Nette will have none of Devon’s complaining and makes him put his one hand around Anna’s shoulder and the other around her waist. He looks dejected and Anna sighs, not liking Devon touching her; he’s a jerk. She doesn’t want to look bad on stage because of Devon.
Mrs. Nette turns on the music. The song is called, “The Log Driver’s Waltz.” The girl knows it because Sharon, Louis, and Bram, sing it on the kid’s music tapes her Mom plays in their van.
“Come on Devon. Just do it. It’s not that bad. If you do a good job Mrs. Nette will stop watching you so much,” Anna says perturbed. Devon frowns at Anna and nods hestitantly. The class practices dancing to the song and then singing it a few times. They do this every music class until the Christmas concert. It’s tricky having to waltz and sing as well. Anna is nervous because her grandpa and grandma will be at her first Christmas concert. She wants to do well for them.
At the dress rehearsal Devon sneers at her, “I’m not even going to be here for the Christmas concert. I’m going to be at my Dad’s; I hate you.” She shrugs, Devon is always angry and often lashes out. Anna thinks it’s because his parents are divorced. She tells Mrs. Nette about Devon not being at the concert. The music teacher phones Devon’s Mom who assures her, he’ll be there.
Anna chooses a pretty dress to wear to the concert. She knows how to waltz even though she isn’t much of a dancer. She waves to her parents and grandparents sitting in the audience before going back stage. Then the grade-one class lines up to go out onto the stage. She doesn’t see Devon anywhere. Anna tugs on Mrs.Nette’s hand and she tells her, “Devon’s not here.”
“Well, will put you in the back and you can pretend you’re waltzing with a partner,” Mrs. Nette says. Anna frowns, not happy about the situation. Mrs. Nette grabs a boy from another class who is in grade-two, “Here you remember how to waltz don’t you?” She asks the new boy. He nods looking at Anna and taking her hand.
The music starts and all the grade-ones starting dancing and singing to “The Log Driver’s Waltz.” Mrs. Nette puts Anna and the grade-two boy filling in for Devon in the back of the stage. The grade-two boy isn’t a great dancer, and Anna isn’t great either but she does most of the leading anyways.
As the grade-ones start singing the second song they had practiced, Anna sees her Grandpa laughing and smiling. It didn’t matter what the grade-one class did, the audience thought it was adorable.
Anna remembered the “Log Driver’s Waltz” always; it became stuck in her head. Twenty-five-years later, she still finds herself humming the tune occasionally and remembering Devon –such an angry little boy.
Sam peered at Tom, the brother he hadn’t seen in almost nineteen-years. “You look the same Tom, you’ve weathered the years better than me.”
Tom snorted. “We’re still nearly a mirror image of each other. We’re also in the same place we were nineteen-years-ago. How could you betray your own brother?”
“You were working for the Russian’s Tom with Garig. I had to shoot you, leave you in prison — it was my duty. But you didn’t die.”
Tom snickered. “You’d like to have me dead wouldn’t you? Things aren’t exactly as they seem Sam. Now where’s Chad?”
Both brothers heard the back exit door slam and the fire alarm go off shrilly. Tom pushed past Sam; he tackled Marrion and Chad.
Tom put a gun to Chad’s head and threw Marrion to Sam. He shoved Chad into a life boat which began descending.
“I’m not your son,” Chad said, his voice weak from blood-loss.” Someone shot my tattoo. I’m not a nuclear bomb anymore. Leave me alone.”
“Chad, I know you’re my nephew. It used to make me so angry that Sam shot me almost fatally and I went to prison.But I escaped and I’m here now to help you.”
“I didn’t realize how undercover Sam was nearly nineteen-years ago. He didn’t understand how deeply undercover I was and am.”
“Garig put that chip in your tattoo making you into a nuclear bomb. Garig’s the enemy, he always was; though he tried to make me appear to be.” Tom said.
“I don’t trust you. . . ” Chad muttered. He’d lost so much blood he was surprised he was awake. Tom put new gauze on Chad’s gunshot wound and wrapped bandages around his body, enclosing the wound securely.
“Here,” Uncle Tom said. He handed Chad a chain necklace of the family crest.”We’re a loyal family Chad. I would never betray my country, or my ancestors.”
“My friends are waiting Chad. My higher-ups will ensure Sam and Marrion get to where we’re going. Together we need to defeat Garig once and for all. I want to come home.”
Chad, as usual, found himself fading into unconsciousness.