Author Blog

Lines of Many – For Our Veterans

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I wrote this poem years ago now.  I wanted to repost it today in honor of those fallen Veterans that are not with us today.  As an Army brat, I hold the service of our men and women close to my heart.  On this day I want to thank my father for his esteemed service both past in his military career and present as he continues to serve our nation’s finest at the VA.  I also want to remember my mom’s father who served proudly and fought in the Korean War.  To all Veteran’s: Hooah! and thank you!

In lines of green and brown, grays and blues
all colors of honor, concealing hues,
have stood the many facing expectant dawn,
for freedom, family or values, ready weapons drawn.

Into chaos, into hell, those lines of shades have gone,
before so ready, then so weary before the worst is done.
Yet, driving on, pressing on until the lines are broken,
till colors are muted, lines red and a hush o’r takes the din.
In lines of bright and cold, stark white
lie the honored colors, concealed from sight,
stand the many and face each rising sun,
reminding that for all, have fallen many a son.

Into valor, into glory the lines of souls have gone,
before so weary, now in peace for the worst is done.
Sod is driven, stone impressed, forming the lines of white.
Bold colors fly, lines of red, hailing those lines of white.

 ~By E.A. Henson

 

Author Blog

The Story of Robert A. Cahill’s Iron Box – Revised & Extended

As recorded on February 3, 1964 by Maggie Henith

I’m a busybody … or so I’ve heard.  You can’t really keep that report a secret from the neighborhood busybody, now can you?

I love hearing everyone’s news, good and bad.  Over the years there has been only one story I wish my ears never heard.  Ironically, it is also the one story that I kept secret.  I was already the busybody.  I was determined not to be the town lunatic.

The doctors say I’m really dying this time.  As such, I have decided to write the story of the Cahills down.  Maybe the tale will help explain why the house sits empty to this very day.

………………………………………….…

Time is funny.  Sometimes minutes seem like hours, and a lifetime passes in the blink of an eye.  I cannot remember if it was only seconds or closer to an hour until she bolted again from the house.  Suddenly, she was there, white as summer linen, racing toward my porch in the still twilight.richardi-house

Marie’s mouth moved rapidly but no words came out.

“Marie!” I exclaimed, chills creeping up my arms despite the warm evening. “What?  What’s happened?”

She seemed almost outside of her mind and ready to jump out of her skin.  I forced her into a chair and tried to get her to drink some of my lemonade.

“R- r-r-r-o-o…”

“What, Marie?” I asked frantically.  “You must speak so I can help.”

I will never forget the horror in Marie’s eyes as she told me in broken sentences of the days leading up to her husband’s death and of her deception.

On the night of June 6, 1943, Robert A. Cahill and his wife Marie were alone in their expansive house.

“My dear, Marie,” Robert Cahill’s hand shook as he reached for his wife’s.

“Yes, dear?” Marie responded, her fingers busy with her knitting, her eyes counting stiches.

This had become their life.  Robert, his health ailing considerably, remained on forced bed rest.  Only one bout of fresh air each day, the doctor cautioned Marie strictly only a fortnight ago.  For Robert, the doctor’s words came as a death knell.  He lived for the open air and never stayed long within four walls.  He felt restless and constricted indoors.

Although born into wealth as the son of Robert A. Cahill Sr., young Robert could not resist the call of the sea and left home to join the navy.  Robert did not return to his family for some time.  He moved up the ranks and became captain of his own vessel.  A war injury brought about an early retirement with full honors.

In celebration of his son’s return and his decorated military service, the elder Robert hosted a grand event.  It would be that fateful night when Robert would fall in love with Marie Sterling.

Marie and her only sister needed to marry well.  The once respected Sterling estate remained only a façade.  Mr. Sterling had long ago gambled away the family fortune.  Marie fervently promised herself many nights as she cried into her pillow, that she would not marry an unsteady man for love as her late mother had done.  She would find a respectable man whose honor opposed the very thought of gambling.

vintage-ivory-bouquet-benchMarie’s and Robert’s courtship was short, the wedding ceremony planned and promptly executed, and the bride and groom settled into their home, to all the world a happy couple.

Robert and Marie found themselves unable to have children.  With no little ones to spoil, Robert spent his time and fortune indulging his bride.  Robert loved Marie.  She was beautiful and when, for her purposes, she needed to be charming, her wit and grace were delightful.  Robert strove daily to provide her every comfort and keep her happy.  That is, up until a year ago when Robert’s age coupled with the injury he experienced during military service, took their toll and Robert’s health began to fail.

Now they spent their evenings in Robert’s room.  Marie knitting, Robert lying in bed with the comforter pulled up, reminiscing at intervals about the sea.

The weakened hand Robert held toward his wife dropped to his side.  His voice grew thin as if coming from far away, “There … is one thing I would like.”

“Yes, Robert?” Marie began a new row .

“To return to the sea.”

Marie looked up from her work quickly, her confusion apparent.

“You can’t, Robert … the Doctor said …”

“No, my dear,” Robert stared at her intently, desperate to relay his message. “I want you to spread my ashes on the North Atlantic.”

Although dimmed with time, Robert’s eyes held again the spark of his youth as he spoke.  He waited anxiously for Marie’s response.  His request was one of the few he had uttered in their marriage.

“I know the trip would be long for you … and that you have never sailed … but …” Robert’s voice faltered. “It would mean so much to me to be finally back at sea.”

Marie looked down at her knitting and began feverishly looping stiches.  Quickly, her mind calculated the cost of an Atlantic voyage.  Visions of her father at the card table, a raucous group of drunken men around him, played in her mind.  Like father’s gambling, an expensive trip to sea only to scatter Robert’s ashes would be equal to throwing money over board.

Moments passed before she returned her husband’s steady gaze.  She knew too well that if she showed her displeasure long enough, her devoted husband’s will would break.  How many times had she succeeded in controlling him throughout their marriage?

At her hesitance, Robert pressed, “John Barkley assured me that when the time comes he will be at your assistance if you need help arranging the trip.”vintage-fountain-pen-4_21148656

“You spoke with the lawyer about this?”

“A year ago, when he and I prepared my will.”

Silence invaded the room almost as if it too sat personified at Robert’s bedside.  Marie’s pulse beat rapidly.  If Robert had spoken with John Barkley, there remained little she could do.

“Marie?”

“Yes … yes, Robert.  I’ll go. ”

With his mind at ease, Robert soon drifted off to sleep.  The room fell quiet except for the click-click of Marie’s needles.

Four days later, Robert A. Cahill Jr. died.  A modest service took place, mourners came, and Marie made her plans for departure.  She refused Mr. Barkley’s help.  He could not know there would be no boat ticket.

Marie planned to visit her sister for several weeks.  To everyone else, it would appear that with heavy heart she departed on a voyage to disperse her late husband’s ashes.

I still remember seeing Marie Cahill leave her home.  It was 3 o’clock on a sunny afternoon.  I sat enjoying my afternoon tea as I always do by the study window where I can see the comings and goings along the street.  96fa1f62ec69a2bc42f57734ecf6c74eShe wore a charcoal gray dress befitting a state of mourning and clutched the alabaster urn to her chest.

Three weeks passed before I saw Marie again.  Twilight was once my favorite time of the day.  Shadows and light seem to play a tug-of-war until at last, the day always succumbs to sleep.  I used to sit on my front porch watching the lights begin to flicker on in the houses along the street.

Marie’s car pulled slowly into her drive.  As she made her way up her walk, I decided not to greet her.  She must be tired and grieving.  There would be time, I thought, to hear of her journey on the Atlantic.  Just then, the ice settled in my lemonade.  The sound echoed in the still evening air.  Marie turned quickly to find the source of the noise.  I raised my hand in greeting but still hesitated to intrude.  I received a small wave back, but Marie continued up her front steps and into the house.

Like I said, time is funny.  My mind struggles to recollect just how much time passed between when I heard the Cahill’s door click shut through the evening hush to when Marie stumbled up my front porch.

Then, suddenly, she was there, standing before me, panic-stricken and inconsolable; confessing to me the story of the old iron box.

Robert A. Cahill would never return to sea, I discovered from her broken sentences.  The trip to the Atlantic would cost a pretty penny … her penny … pennies adding up to the fortune she married Robert to obtain.

Marie never planned to honor her husband’s last request.  Instead, she descended into the basement of their home on the night before her departure.  Even the servants rarely traversed into the dank depths of the decaying cellar.  Marie treaded carefully through the dimly lit corridor, making her way into the old boiler room.  Pipes covered the walls and ceiling,upstairs hissing and bubbling like a den of snakes.  Far back, directly behind the hot boiler, a maze of small pipes coiled almost disguising an iron soot box from sight.  The boiler had been converted to electric power almost a decade ago.  No servant was needed to fuel the boiler with costly coal or empty the soot into the iron box.  That had saved a sum of money; Marie comforted herself as she reached with shaking hand to open the small latch.

Her hardened heart beat faster despite itself for what she was about to do.  The hinges shrieked in protest as Marie opened the archaic box.  The metallic cry hastened the wretched deed.  Ruthlessly, she shook the urn’s contents into the mouth of the small iron box.  With the pipes hissing around her like angry souls goading her on, the last bits of Robert’s remains slid into the hidden recesses among the age old soot.  Frantic to leave the cellar, Marie shut the iron box back tight and retreated with haste, hopeful perhaps that her conscience would be that easy to confine.

When her story ended, I remained speechless.  Marie’s eyes darted towards her house as if afraid of something there.  Her entire body racked with convulsions and again her lips moved wordlessly.

“Marie, what?  Why are you so frightened?” the words fell reluctantly from my mouth.

“He- he …is there …” her voice came in a hoarse whisper as she pointed to her house.

“His ashes?  Still in the box?”

Marie turned slowly to stare at me; terror drew deep lines in her brow.

“He… he’s not in the box,” she muttered, shaking her head.  “He got out.”

An unknown fear gripped my heart.  I could not speak.  I could not comfort.  I only stared back.  Marie continued to shake her head, muttering.

Suddenly, she grew still.  Her eyes widened and a renewed fear swept across her face.  A choked scream escaped from her lips and she ran.

No one has seen or heard of Marie Cahill since.  The house still stands empty.  Somewhere in the basement is an iron box that was never meant to hold a roving sailor.76645_1

Author Blog

This Beautiful World

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I’ll admit: I’m scared. As persecutions rage in the Middle East against Christians, and those murdering them are professed to be part of a peaceful religion, I’m anxious. As diseases spread, even some that were thought to have been eradicated, and touch American soil, I’m nervous. As our culture lauds suicide as a ‘dignified exit’ for those unwilling to await a natural death, I’m horrified. With abortion of unborn babies continuing to be ‘an option’, I’m appalled.

I have asked myself lately, “When is God going to pull the plug?” We exist in a culture of supreme arrogance, a culture that plays God, a culture that strives to rewire our very consciences.

At the same time, though, I confess that ‘THE END’ is something I try not to think about. Whether it’s my individual end or me going down with everyone when the world is brought to its knees when all are reintroduced to the author of life, death has frightened me since I was a young girl. How do you just leave? Will I get to say goodbye? Even now my heart tightens and my stomach turns. Many great men and women practiced a spiritual separation or even disgust with this world. I pray I can emulate their detachment. I am too attached to God’s beautiful world.

I wish it were getting easier but now that I have two, lovely children I fear my heart is ever more entrapped by their little fingers. I selfishly cling to the idea that I will see them grow up, see them serve their Lord, have children of their own. It is not the material things of the world that keep me weighted to this earth but the intangibles. It is my deep, abiding love for my husband who is my rock, my smile, and my happy thought, the sweet hugs from my little ones and the look of adoration they bestow on their imperfect mother. Laughter, love, sunsets, sunrises, brothers, sisters, parents, friends. How do you leave? I know we’re not given a choice. The time comes as surely as a plucked flower will wither but … when I ‘go’ I think it might be easier if God takes me quickly or my heavy heart will crumble before I have drawn my last breath.

As ugly as this world can be … and is, there are so many happy-giggly-toe wiggling-hiccupping-whispering-sweet moments He gives us. If these moments are but a drop of water in the ocean of divine splendor we will enjoy in heaven, then, dear Lord I pray my soul, while living in this world, learns to detach from the created and yearn for the creator.

Author Blog

Tessa – Part I: Late Night Discoveries

“You can’t keep doing this, Theresa Anne.”

“It’s just Tessa, Deputy Erwin.  I’ve told you…”

BANG BANG BANG

Deputy Erwin’s fist beat again on the front door of the darkened house.

“If your dad doesn’t stop encouraging-“ The door flew open,  “Good evening, Sheriff Collins.  She did it again.”

The Sheriff’s blue eyes reflected sharply in the dim light of the street lamp as he stared at his daughter.  Tessa looked guiltily at her feet.

“Sheriff, with all due respect, she can’t-“

“I’m aware, Deputy, thank you.”

“It was a burglary!  The perp could have been anywhere –“

“Yes, Deputy-“

“This is what … the fourth time I’ve had to-“

“Deputy Erwin.”

“Yes, sir, Sheriff Collins, sir,” the Deputy tipped his hat, gave Tessa one last disapproving look, and headed toward his squad car.

“Theresa Anne Collins, step inside.”

Tessa hated the silent treatment.  She would rather her Irish descended father reveal his entire disappointment in one, long winded speech than sit in their living room with him mutely across from her, his hands folded.

“Tess.”

Only dad could call her Tess.

“Do I need to take the scanner away for good?”

“No! Dad, I promise-“

“Really?  Because at this point I’m starting to think that that was a pretty stupid birthday gift for a 15 year old girl obsessed with solving crime.”

“Dad-“

“Tess, listen,” Sheriff Collins rubbed his forehead. “I know you love the thrill of police work-“

“Detective work.”

“Right, that.  But you agreed to certain rules, did you not?”

“Yes, dad.”

“And you broke some tonight, did you not?”

“Yes, dad.”

“So… for that …”

Sheriff Collins thought for some time.  Tessa remembered with a stab that it was her mom who used to come up with the clever punishments.  Dad handled the lecture and, when he finished, mom calmly explained the consequences.

“You’re temporarily banned from the scanner.”

“What! But, dad! There’s a new case –“

“No buts, Theresa Anne.  The scanner was only for daylight hours after homework was done.  I fixed up that old box because I knew you liked police – uh, detective work.  That didn’t mean you could go gallivanting around at all hours getting yourself into danger.”

Tessa’s shoulders slumped.  Her dad’s expression and tone let her know his decision was final.

“Come give your old dad a hug.”

Tessa stood and embraced her dad.

As he held her, he said, “You can have the scanner back in one week –“

“A week!”

“In one week and if that case still hasn’t been solved I’m sure you’ll be the first to break it.”

He held her at arm’s length.

“Tessa.”

“Yes, dad?”

“Just stay safe.  You know I can’t lose you too.”

“I know, dad.”

“Now, go to bed.”

With that he kissed her forehead and turned her in the direction of her bedroom.

It took Tessa awhile to fall asleep.  Tonight’s burglary had been more than the typical prank their little town occasionally experienced.  The conversation over the scanner had provided little detail before Tessa impulsively decided to leave the house that evening.  She had walked the several blocks to where the lights of the squad car whirled around on the sign of Missy’s Hair Salon.  Her notebook in hand she had only just begun taking notes when Deputy Lou Erwin discovered her.

A week!  There could be a lot of detail lost in a week off of the scanner.

“Well,” Tessa thought to herself as she finally lay down, “I guess I’ll just have to keep it to some old fashioned sleuthing until the week is out.”

If you would like to read more of Tessa’s adventure click here to find the book on Amazon and I truly thank you for your interest!

Author Blog

Pink High Tops

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Mother’s Day is approaching again.  As a mother of one with another on the way, I work 365 days out of the year to ‘earn’ this day.  I do not take the day lightly but strive with each new dawn to live up to the expectations I have set for myself in the role of ‘mommy’.  Do I fail sometimes? … Oh yeah!  But I do not like myself in those moments and use them to work even harder.  I’m too far from perfect to rest even a moment on the laurels of a ‘good mommy’ day.

There are many different ways to be a ‘good mommy’.  More than one way of expressing human love exists.  Quality time, physical touch, and words of affirmation are just some of the ways we humans show our love for one another.  Each mother might strongly lean toward one expression or practice several naturally.  The sweet result of her particular love language is a love unique unto her motherhood.

As on every Mother’s Day, I recollect the love my mother showed my five siblings and me.  My mom set the bar high for us when it came to expectations of respect, hard work, and self-reliance.  Sometimes, I forget how high she was likewise setting the bar for herself.

In speaking with her on the phone recently her words struck me with just that lesson.  In passing, she mentioned calling her own mother to ask if she was a ‘bad mom’ for not always understanding the babbling of her toddlers.  Today on the phone, I expressed that my daughter was having a rough day and had cried a lot.  She reminded me of how she used to lower herself to our height and just hold us and that my daughter probably needed that today.  Then, gleaning what my daughter wanted at that moment, she chided me laughingly for not just letting her take her nap in her ‘princess shoes’ like she had let me wear the pink high tops to bed which I loved wearing.  Hearing that my mother had called her mom concerned about being a good mother and hearing her remind me of those precious moments in which she gave me what my tiny heart had wanted told me so much.  The strong, capable mother I knew growing up, who expected much of her children, was simultaneously sensitive and deeply caring.

Am I suddenly having this revelation?  No.  It has, in fact, come to me on more than one occasion.  When I was a child and more self-centered, I failed to realize that the six thoughtfully packed lunches awaiting us before school or the clean, painstakingly folded laundry were acts of profound love.  When I reflect that my mom’s heart could love six children as much as my heart bursts with love for my daughter, I am in awe.  When I remember the countless hours and careful pennies spent preparing for 385501_10151011527785577_1841400268_nour Birthdays and Christmases or the sleepless nights spent rubbing my fevered forehead with her cool hands, my eyes cannot remain dry.  When I see the affection in her eyes as she holds her grandchildren for the first time, the depth of her love is apparent.

All moms are different and we express our love in varying ways.  That each of us loves deeply, however, cannot be disputed.  I can never thank my mom for everything she did for me or repay her for the love she had for me.  The closest I can come to repaying the debt of gratitude I owe to my mother is to love and care for my children as she much as she did for me.

~A Mother’s Prayer~

By: Emily Henson

I can kiss a finger when it’s hurt

and when they fall brush off the dirt.

I’ll gladly bend to tie a shoe

and mend each and every tear brand new.

But may God grant me the graces

to look into their upturned faces

on frenzied days when I’ve lost control

and take the time to nurture a soul.

The wash my hands will roughen and chap

but I’ll tuck them in every nap.

I’ll clean the floors on which they play

and shoo the dust bunnies far away.

But may God help me do my part

to see to the needs of their heart

even when chores remain undone

for dust can wait till tomorrow’s sun.

That song they love with the silly rhyme

I’ll sing for them a hundredth time.

Nails will be clean with daily bath.

Rules of writing learned along with math.

But God help me to remember

that more in their minds than lessons stir.

While I stay busy with my hands

they may fly off to Neverlands.

While a cleanly house is noteworthy

and tasks await before I’m free,

I’ll blink my eyes and they’ll be grown

but sweet moments I want to have known.

Author Blog

A Little Christmas for the Neighbors

IMG_2388The series ‘Peter’s Chance’ is ultimately about discovering the true spirit of Christmas.  The Christmas spirit can be defined in varying ways and it can be difficult to understand its many facets.  One simple way to live in the Christmas spirit is selfless giving.  The emotion that arrives through giving without expectation of return, giving solely to bring pleasure to the receiver remains one of the closest experiences to true Christmas spirit we can enjoy.  So, give …. bring a little Christmas to those around you.  Follow the link to Joyful Home and Life’s website to read how I bring a smile to my neighbors and share in the Christmas spirit.

Author Blog

Great Read: “Michael Vey ~ The Prisoner of Cell 25”

In light of my last post, ‘The Orphaned’, which discussed the sad plight of books continuously donated to used book sales and which never find a ‘forever home’ I would like to take a moment to highlight a book I recently finished and believe to be a modern-classic.

Richard Paul Evans is the author of the Michael Vey series and has done a phenomenal job so far of creating an extraordinary plot line and a diverse cast of memorable characters.  From beginning to end, readers will find themselves engaged in the twisting storyline and laughing out loud at the witty dialogue.  The good guys are good and the bad guys are bad; there exists no wavering in the line of good and evil while a hope even for the worst of the bad guys remains until they show their resolution.

Harkening to timeless qualities of bravery, respect for fellow man, and stalwart resolution, “Michael Vey” breaths fresh life onto the stage of classic heroes.  Yet, the novel is very much 21st Century, enrapturing the Young Adult reader through the similarities with his or her life even amidst remarkable adventure.

The “Michael Vey ~ Prisoner of Cell 25” was already a bigger seller than “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” when it was first released and upon reading it you will quickly see why.  I look forward to continuing the series and highly recommend the “Michael Vey” books to Young Adult readers.

Below is a link to my review on Amazon if you would like to visit.

http://www.amazon.com/review/RNI7I7RESQHP9

Author Blog

The Orphaned

Used book sales are a common occurrence in most cities.  Often, donations are requested months in advance and the books trickle in steadily with a few books here and, more rarely, a larger drop off by a particularly zealous donor.  The generous contributors almost always share the same sentiment no matter the amount of their patronage, “Thank you for taking these!” or “So nice to purge some books!”

The sale day arrives and the piles of orphaned books sit neatly stacked ready for a new home.  Yet, among the rows and rows of spines one question arises: Where are the classics?  Not simply the classic-classics but the modern-classics, too.  A few customers will happen upon a lucky find but, generally, one does not cross a masterpiece at a used book sale.  Books such as To Kill A Mocking Bird, A Wrinkle In Time, Little Women, and, even the first books of the Harry Potter series are a scarcity.  Authors famous for their works such as Lewis, Tolkien, Twain, Austen, Dickens, and the like rarely make an appearance on these occasions and if they do are often tossed because of their dog-eared condition.

Yet, some titles (and none will be named) reappear numerous times; the same book sitting beside multiples of itself on the book sale table.  Ironically, these titles have also appeared on the New York Times Bestseller list.  For this reason, they will be purchased again, carried home with excitement, and read voraciously … but only once.  Some months down the road another book sale will find them sitting on a table beside their twins.

Several questions arise from this phenomenon of orphaned books: What makes people so happy to purge books they once enjoyed?  Why there exists a dearth of classics at used book sales?  And, why is it that the same books dropped carelessly into donation bins are purchased at the sale only to be re-donated later time and again?

The same answer pertains to each query.  True classics, the stories that dwell in a reader’s heart long after the book is given a special place on the bookshelf, are kept, treasured, and passed down from generation to generation.

These observations are not meant to say that every book at a used book sale is not a classic or that the classics never end up at a sale.  The rule of thumb persists, however, that the books orphaned on the sale tables were not cherished enough to be counted as members of a household.

To my fellow writers, though we occasionally fail despite our best efforts, may we strive to write stories which speak to the depths of souls, imagine characters one can call friend, and leave an indelible impression on the hearts of our readers.  May it be that our books are never orphaned but find forever-homes, highly revered and their pages caressed more than once.

Author Blog

For the Little Ones

Please click the link below to visit my guest post on the Army Wife Life blog.  I wrote the post for the young everywhere who we are called to mentor through our words and actions.  Enjoy!  Please leave comments as well.  I am very interested to hear feedback and would also love to hear personal stories about the amazing mentors in your life or how you mentor others.

http://imfunsize.blogspot.com/2013/09/for-little-ones-and-mentors-that-guide.html

Author Blog

Snapshot Story Guest Blogging!

I am excited to host guest bloggers to my site!  This simple way to guest post will be fun and interesting for everyone.

So, here are the guidelines:  My blog is for Young Adults so the story needs to fit that genre at least loosely.  (Ages 10-29)  The short story can be no longer than 1/2 a page, single spaced, font: 12, Times New Roman.  The catch?! – Your story must be inspired by the picture below.   The steps are simple: 1)Think up a snapshot story to go with the snapshot. 2)Post it below in the comments (I will add it as a blog post for you).  3)Comment on any other stories you’d like to. … and you’re done!  I look forward to reading the contributions!! *You don’t have to have your own blog to guest post!!!  We welcome all.

Here is the snapshot:
Image

My story is as follows:

The Keeping Case

By E.A. Henson

I laughed when I found it missing, the ring once held in the case.  An attractive ring with some value too, sparkling and polished.  My smile does not mean to be callous and my hand will miss the pretty piece.  The cleaner must have taken it from the suite where I’m staying.  Surely I could raise alarm.  Yet, my heart lacks the urge care.  My amusement erupts from sweet relief that something more cherished remains.  It was not the ring that I found dear but the box that kept it safe.  Black and gold and red, pieced together carefully.  Tenderly designed and painstakingly fitted by hands that once held mine.  Long before my world turned around and cares became the past, her heart broke as my birthday neared.  There would be nothing to give.  Too hard a year and the 22nd of August arrived too quickly.  Late into the night, her hands worked, covering the ugly pill box.  Until, at last, shining and bright, the elegant case was wrapped.  A simple gift which, to me, could hold nothing more treasured than itself.

*This fictional narrative is dedicated to my own mother who puts so much of herself into every gift she gives.

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Promise

By Guest Blogger: Kathleen Smith

She held a keepsake of every heart she had broken. Displayed in an open glass box, they rested comfortably in their secrets, whispering of memories to her as she gazed at them every morning. I was allowed to ask her about one piece each week I visited the silver-haired heiress. But one morning I suppose I made the poor decision to touch one of the treasures.

“Don’t open that box!” she exclaimed, fanning herself against the summer warmth.

The box was small, sitting right in the middle of my palm; it demanded admiration for its red and black embellishments, the gold clover in the middle of the lid. Instantly I guessed an engagement that the woman had turned down long ago, when her hair was brown and her face bright with youth. But she studied my expression from her settee and smiled softly.

“It’s not a ring, child.” She rose and crossed the room. “But it is most dear to me.”

“Another broken heart?” I asked. And she smiled. There was sadness in her eyes.

“He was a poor man, could offer me nothing more than I already had. Yet one morning, as we were shopping downtown, I noticed this little box.” She held her chin up confidently, “I asked him if I had that box, would he fill it with everything he had just for me?”

“What did he say?”

“He brought the box to his lips, lifted the lid, and whispered… I love you. His promise still rests in this box.”

I did not ask any more questions.

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Be Like a Little Flower

By Guest Blogger: Adrienne Stravitsch http://imfunsize.blogspot.com/

Irene couldn’t believe that she was talking to her.  Rebecca hasn’t spoken a nice word to me all year, she thought.  Irene looked up, terrified at what was going to happen.  The chaos and electric excitement of the last day of school filled the halls.  Irene had just wanted to make it out the door and onto the freedom of summer break without another incident.  “Irene, I want you to have this. I…I…I’m sorry.”  In a flash, the terror of her entire year was gone.  At the bottom of her locker sat a tiny box, painted carefully by hand.  The crisp dimensions of the strokes were covered in a clear lacquer.  Irene ran her fingers across it, and then opened it.  Nothing inside.  She closed it.  A three-petaled flower on a dual-colored lid, the design was more geometric than flowery.  Irene’s heart warmed.  She opened the box again, and noticed the underside of the lid.  “Luke 7:47-48” was scripted there in tiny, shaky black ink.  Shame.  Contrition.  Forgiveness.

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Wishes

By Guest Blogger: Angie Smith

Before Michaela was born, her parents traveled all over Europe seeing all the famous landmarks – the Coliseum, the Eifel Tower, Big Ben, the Louvre – the kinds of places that, having seen them, make you believe you are a more intelligent and sophisticated human being. It was a trip most people only dream of experiencing. On her seventh birthday, Michaela’s mom took her aside and gave her a souvenir from that trip to Europe – a colorful round box that looked like a cupcake too pretty to even think about eating.

“This is a very special box, Michaela,” her mother explained. “When I bought this box on my adventure with your dad, I knew in my heart that someday I would have a daughter and that I would give her this as a place to keep her wishes.”

“What do you mean, Mama?” Michaela asked, intrigued by the plans her mother had for this mysterious box.

“You are seven years old now – a young lady – and young ladies have dreams and wishes. I want you write them down and keep them forever in this box so you don’t forget them. This is your very own Wishing Box.”

Twenty years later, Michaela was mourning the painful loss of her mother to brain cancer when she found the box in the back of a dresser drawer. She carefully opened it, reading each wish as if it were a rare discovery. Most of them were the dreams of an ambitious little girl, and each one reminded her of her mother’s adventurous spirit. It had been many years since Michaela had even made a wish, let alone put one in the box.

“Am I the same girl who wrote down all of these wishes?” she wondered.

Michaela stood up, put her Wishing Box in her purse and walked out of the house. Opening the Wishing Box had been like taking a breath of fresh air. Michaela was not exactly sure where she was going, or what would happen when she got there, but she did know one thing: her mother had inspired her to start wishing, and now it was time to honor her by finding the wisher and dreamer inside herself. Time to really start living.

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First Things

By Guest Blogger: Rachel Fogarty

Her chubby little six-year-old pointer finger wiggled the tooth back & forth. This was her first wiggly tooth and her face expressed a combination of excitement and worry, “Mommy! Do you think the tooth fairy will come tonight?” This was the moment that Kerrie had anticipated for a long time. The feeling of a loose tooth, wondering whether or not she would see the tooth fairy, and the possibility of a treat from the tooth fairy enthralled the little girl.
Smiling at her with a twinkle in her eye, Mrs. Warner whispered to her little girl, “Of course, little one. She will remember. First things first. That tooth is ready to jump right out. Keep it moving back and forth so we can pull it and put it under your pillow before bed.”
No sooner had she said these words than Kerrie pulled the shiny white tooth from her mouth. Her eyes blinked with incredulity, “I did it, mommy! I pulled my very own tooth!” Her smile displayed the small space that her tooth had occupied. “The tooth fairy can come now! The tooth fairy!” Her happy squeals echoed down the hallway as she ran to find just the right place under her pillow.
Mrs. Warner was having a difficult time trying to figure out just the right gift she could give Kerrie in place of the newly-pulled tooth. Tucking Kerrie into bed, she sat stroking her daughter’s hair while reading to Kerrie one of her favorite books.
Suddenly she knew. It would be the just the right gift. Kerrie would be delighted.
Finishing the book, Mrs. Warner gave Kerrie a kiss, and hurried down the hall to find the treasure in a drawer. It was the box that had been given her by her mother when she had lost her first tooth, some thirty plus years prior. Pretty and simple, the wooden box would be the perfect gift indeed.

http://rfogblog.wordpress.com/

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Repairing Dreams

By Guest Blogger: Monica McCord

The merry tinkle of a bell finally announced the entrance of a customer. Hans sighed wearily. “Yes, what do you–” “Hello, Hans!” A pretty little lady beamed at him from across the store. The bright sunlight made it hard to distinguish her features, but she was very well dressed. A fine, red, shiny gown whispered gently across the floor as she moved towards him. “Well? Don’t you remember me?” Hans felt his heart leap a little. Hesitating another moment, he finally managed to respond. “Marie?” “Hans, it is so good to see you. You can’t imagine how surprised I was when my husband mentioned your name!” He forced a half-smile and nodded politely. “Yes, I’m still a shoe-maker. I finished my apprenticeship a good while ago. Did you come in for a fitting as well?” The lady grew a little downcast. “Hans, I . . . It’s been so long, and I never thought I’d see you again.” The two of them stood silently. Hans stared rather fixedly at the floor, while her eyes wandered over the entire room. “I also wanted to ask you to fix something for me,” she added quietly. “Remember this?” Fumbling with her tiny clutch purse, she brought out a delicately painted box, glinting with red and gold in a whirling, flower-like pattern. “You made this for me years ago, when we were children.” She smiled fondly and stepped closer to him, placing it in his rough, leathery hands. “I wouldn’t trust the finest artist to duplicate your work on this piece. Please, would you repair it for me?” After finishing the box late that night, Hans sat and contemplated it a while. He’d forgotten, or blocked out, nearly all of his artistic spirit in the pursuit of mere survival. Was it worth it? “There are so many things that have passed me by, and so many things I cannot change,” he sighed. “Perhaps this is something that I still can.”

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Keepsake

By Guest Blogger: John McDevitt

Aiden shifted the rubble off the dresser to the side, and a small, round shape tumbled with it. Debris was never perfectly round, so he picked the thing up and dusted it off. Black and red with a gold ribbon painted on the top, it fit in the palm of his hand and felt lighter than a feather compared to all the destruction he’d already cleared from the house. Crashing sounds from the next room over told him Padre and Emma were close.
“Padre!” Aiden said. “What is this?” The old priest appeared in the doorway, his worn black shirt and pants coated in rock dust. Aidan tossed him the thing. “Worth anything?”
“Depends,” Padre said. He removed the rounded lid and peered into the pristine, magenta insides. “It’s a keepsake box. Sometimes people your age, even younger, put little mementos … trinkets they wanted to hold on to in there.”
“Oo, like what?” Emma asked, popping her head in the room. Her emerald eyes glimmered even in the dirt and dust they’d stirred up.
Padre placed his fingertips on his forehead the way he always did when he was thinking. “Maybe a ring, a note, a picture. Anything you want to cherish.”
Aiden’s pack was mostly filled with supplies and tools, and none of it was small enough for this box. He stood up and dusted himself off. “Well, that’s about it for this room.”
Emma sucked the dirt off her finger and ran it along the fabric on the inside of the box as Padre went back into the other room. “What would you put in here, Aiden? Just look at it. It needs something pretty.”
Aiden smiled to himself. Forget everything in his pack. There was only one thing worthy of being cherished. He took the top of the box from Emma and set it on top of her wavy brown hair. Her gem-like eyes shined at Aiden, and he smiled back. “C’mon. This house won’t scavenge itself.”
Emma slipped her hand into Aiden’s and leaned against his shoulder as they walked down the hall. In the vast emptiness of their broken world, it was impossible to imagine something worth more than this.

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The Masterpiece

By Guest Blogger: Kelly Henson

Miguel stretched and wiped a streak through the dust and sweat on his forehead.  He examined the box closer.  There was nothing particularly special about it; it was empty.  But he didn’t remember seeing it before, and he knew every corner of his family’s small house.  “Papá!  What is this?”  Miguel’s father’s reply was smothered by the pile of blankets he had carried around the corner, “Miguel, you must not get distracted!  The funeral is tomorrow and we have so much to do.”  But he stopped speaking, his voice caught in his throat, when he saw the small, painted box.  Dante settled onto the hard floor next to Miguel, took the small trinket box in his hand, and looked hazily at the spiderweb in the corner of the ceiling.

“Miguel, did you know Maria . . . um, your mother, was una artista?”
“No, Papá.”
“I met her one day in the market in el Distrito.  She was selling beautiful talavera vases and boxes.  The only thing more beautiful in the whole market than those boxes was the lady selling them.”  Dante smiled at the memory and continued, “I asked her about the vases.  To be honest, I just wanted to hear her speak; I couldn’t afford her things.  We talked for a long time, and I asked her to join me for tacos al pastor after her work.  When I had to go back to the city for Señor Díaz other times that year, we talked more.  She was a very modern woman, your madre.  She was educated.  She was an artist.  But she picked me.  I don’t know why!”

Miguel pulled his knees to his chest and sat silently.  His mother.  The woman loved by all the little children with their dirty feet and scratched knees.  The woman hanging freshly scrubbed diaper clothes and rolling out tortillas until her calloused hands ached.  (Miguel saw her quietly massage them when she thought no one was looking.)  The woman who was so softly spoken and never boasted, demanded, or nagged like the other women by the store.  She was an educated woman?  An artist?  He wondered why she gave it all up.  He had always yearned to leave the dusty streets of his town, to go to San Luis Potosi or even el Distrito to work, and she picked this life?

Dante looked at his son, “Are you ok, Miguel?  . . .  I miss her too.”
“Why did she come here, papá?  How did she give it up?”

Dante took the box from his son and held it gently, the way Miguel would have handled a baby bird out of its nest.  “She gave me this box when we got married.  She said it was the first thing she ever painted, and that learning to make a beautiful thing takes a long time.
“A year later, when you were born and she was tired and rocking you to sleep, I asked her if she was sad not to be in the city painting, meeting people, selling her art.  She looked at your curly black hair and replied, ‘I am still an artist.  I am learning, but my children will be my best masterpiece yet.’”

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Calling Card

By Guest Blogger: Ben Butina

This wasn’t the first time my condo had been tossed. In my line of work, it happens every once in a while. If you know your business, they don’t find anything because you’re not stupid enough to leave anything worth finding in your own place. The bastards trashing your place know this, too. They’re just sending a message: “Someone knows what you’re up to.” But who? Who knows and why do they want me to know that they know?

As far as apartment trashing goes, this looked mild. A few drawers pulled out. Some papers scattered on the floor. Then I noticed that my fridge door was wide open. All my food was spoiled. Who thinks to do that? Down in the basement, I saw the lid to the washing machine was open, too, and it stank of bleach. My clothes were ruined.

Trashing my furniture would’ve been an easy fix. Just buy new furniture, have it delivered, and you’re back in business. Now I was facing a Saturday morning at the grocery store (which I hate) and a Saturday afternoon clothes shopping (which I hate even more). Back in my living room, I noticed something that hadn’t been there before. A little wooden box, shaped like a cupcake. It looked pretty good on my bookcase, like it belonged there. A calling card, maybe.

For the first time in my career, my place had been trashed by a…girl.

To see more from Ben: http://approximatelyforever.com/

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The Box

By Guest Blogger: Christy Henson

I was 18 when the call came in from Germany, an operator asking if I would accept the charges, as they did back then for collect calls. Both Mom and I said yes. Apparently she had also been awakened by that 5am intrusion.

The call lasted only a minute, then Mom rushed into my room, asking “Mama or Papa? What did she say? Mama or Papa? Did you hear…?”

“Mama,” I answered, now understanding that neither would be good, grasping from the look on her face that “Mama” was unexpected.

Somehow, of all the siblings, Mom ended up with the box and its contents, well, just one content, actually. The box held Oma’s rosary, with its mother-of-pearls beads and crucifix of silver worn by her gentle touch. Mom told me how her whole family gathered every evening in May and October, the months of Mary, to pray a family rosary. With 11 children and a farm to tend, they sometimes said it at record speed, but they prayed it.

My grandma prayed the rosary, with the rosary in the box, every single day, every month of every year. I can picture Oma’s lips moving silently while her thumb and index finger lingered on then moved from bead to bead, her face lit up by the glow of the lamp or a winter’s firelight, her whole being radiant by the glow from within that she just could not contain: Her love for Him, her thanksgiving for His gifts to her, especially her family…for her husband and their children around her and the two who awaited her, eternally patient and joyful.

And her box? It has been passed to me. I know that when I pray with the rosary, more worn yet lovelier than ever, Oma silently prays it, too.

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