Sneak Peek at today’s writing/editing

Year of the Survivor 369
Pemberley-on-the-Sea
New East Anglia, Terra St. Edmunds


“Sláinte,” King Charles said, raising his glass toward the door opening behind him. He had been standing idly at his sitting room window, gazing over the gardens, the darkening horizon, and the distant ruins of the old castle in the distance.

“Sláinte maith,” Edward answered from the doorway, then joked, “Next round’s on you.” When his father chuckled he asked, “Has the Earth risen yet? Both suns have gone down.”

“It’s too overcast to tell,” Charles said, as he distractedly ran his hand through his wayward, grayish-blond hair.

“That’s good. I can still say I’m not late,” Edward commented with a grin. When he stepped all the way into the room, he discovered Queen Mother Ann and General Higgins were also there. He kissed his mother on the cheek and nodded to the general.

“Every time I see the night sky, I think about how far from our roots we are here on Terra St. Edmunds,” King Charles contemplated, holding up his empty wine glass. No footman was present, so Edward took the glass himself, then collected the others’, and topped everyone’s glass. “I wonder why centuries have passed since anyone from Earth has been here.”

Edward handed the king’s wine to Queen Mother Ann who passed it to General Higgins. The general walked the few steps to give it to Charles then the king settled in his favorite chair. Queen Mother Ann accepted her glass, and before returning to his own seat, Higgins collected his. Edward poured a scant glass for himself, cupped the bowl in his fingers, and swirled the wine without tasting it. He waved his free hand up at everyone assembled and asked, “Why have you asked us here, Father?”

“Hold the glass by the stem and stop playing with your wine, Edward,” Charles replied. “It’s Oakham, the finest in the country.”

“We aren’t here to debate your dependence on alcohol, Father. That’s well-known and beyond argument.” King Charles’s shoulders tightened as Edward took two steps forward, deliberately continuing to swirl his wine. “You led me to believe this would be a private meeting between us. Why are they here, too?”

Charles hid his face from his son’s gaze. “If only things with Westhorpe had gone as planned.

Edward canted, then asked coldly, “You planned Albert’s kidnapping and the Duke of Westhorpe’s murder?”

“It was supposed to be your kidnapping.”


### End of Sneak Peek ###

Lasdays

The first time I invited him in
I was fourteen. I waited all afternoon
but nothing happened.
Four years later
in a lonely car on a dark, dirt
backroad, I opened the door
and let him ride along.
Only a pair of intervening headlights
coming at us changed the course of events.
After that I kept him hidden,
behind alcoholic wildness and stern,
absolute uprightness and brilliance
and genius and I don’t know what else.
Now, he shares every sidewalk with me.
We trade off using my cane.
I’ll glance at him
and the corners of his mouth will turn up,
his hair, as white as mine,
tumbles into his eyes,
and with that soft, enticing voice
he’s always had, he asks: was it worth it?
Turning me down, sending me away,
Was it worth it?
Yeah, I say back to him  
then pause to consider all the things
we’ve done together, and I say,
Yeah, it was.



Christmas Has Rules, You Know

brief salvage

She lay there listening to her teen-aged sister’s slow breathing from the twin bed across the room and could tell her sister was asleep. No lights came from the hall. No voices from the television in the living room

She thought, I could sneak to the Christmas tree, look around quickly, and be back in bed before anyone notices.  She propped Teddy, her stuffed bear, up in the corner of her own bed by the wall.  Folded back the blankets, and slipped her feet onto the floor. She paused. She listened.  Her sister’s little snore hadn’t changed, so she knew she was still asleep.

She rose to her feet and tip toed across the linoleum floor, pushed aside the tattered curtain that served as a door to the bedroom, and peered into the hall.  No one was there.  She stretched her neck, ear to the right, toward the other bedrooms…

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holiday thoughts

About this time in 2000, maybe a bit later in the year, I sat at the kitchen table with the telephone in my left hand and a list of names in front of me. I phoned every person on that list and explained that although I didn’t know what their plans were for the holidays if they wanted to spend Christmas with my mother this would be their last opportunity.

I said, “If she is alive next year, she won’t know that we’re there.”

The response was great. Lots of people came by and that Christmas my mom saw all of her family. She died on November 28. 2001.

She is on the far right in this photo which shows her with two of her grandchildren and a daughter-in-law. I snapped this photo in the mid-1970s, when I was still young enough to confuse the term ‘now’ with the word ‘forever’. Since then not only my mother but also the daughter-in-law and one of the grandchildren have died. The youngest little girl, now a beautiful woman, is a cancer survivor despite her medical treatments having been sidetracked by the pandemic.

Don’t put it off.

Love the people you love.