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Reflections…A Writing Excercise…

April 26, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Stymie – definition: to present an obstacle; to stand in the way of

As many of you know I really enjoy writing prompts, and have overcome ‘blocks’ using them. So don’t get stymied use one to refresh and release your creativity.

I was inspired by a fellow blogger’s photograph of a set of windows. http://storiesbyfrances.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/untitled-2/ and promised to share the short story it inspired. The changing light in the two windows made me think of reflections of a personality.

Window 1

Madeline believed wholeheartedly that the eyes were a reflection of the soul so no matter what a person might appear like on the outside, she knew it was their inner being that was their true self. When she moved into her new apartment she relished the golden light that shone through. It reflected her joyous nature. With a bubbly, friendly personality many people were instantly drawn to Madeline. She made friends easily and was known as a loyal and supportive person.
Although she had been living in the apartment for over two weeks, she had not met her immediate neighbor. Their apartment window was always dark and gloomy such a contrast to her own, even though they were facing the exact same direction. Madeline had heard movements through the wall and the murmurings of a television but nothing more. Wanting to make introductions, Madeline baked a batch of cookies on Saturday morning. Once they were cool she placed a dozen into a small tin lined with a napkin.

Window 2

After taking a deep breath and with a broad smile on her face she knocked on her neighbor’s door. She waited and turned her head to listen. No footsteps. No response. Maybe she had missed them going out while she had been busy baking? A shuffling noise stopped her from turning away. The door slowly opened and an old man’s face appeared just above the door chain.
“What do you want?”
“Hello, my name’s Madeline. I’m your new neighbor. I wanted to introduce myself and offer you some cookies I baked this morning.”
The man’s brow crinkled, as he looked her up and down.
“Cookies you say?”
Yes chocolate chip. Would you like them?”
“You want to give them to me?”
“Yes.”

Window 3

The man put his hand through the gap in the doorway and took the tin. A slight smile creased his lips.
“Well thank you. The name’s Boyd.”
Not waiting for a reply he shut the door.
Madeline was a little surprised but thought Boyd was probably lonely. From the small glimpse of his apartment she could see numerous cobwebs and there was a distinct stale odor. She thought her gift had given him a little happiness but wanted to help more. She would think on how that would be possible as she cleaned her own apartment.

Boyd sat in his armchair with a mug of coffee and ate the cookies hungrily. It had been a long time since he had such a treat. After Mildred passed he seldom left the apartment. Luckily the corner shop delivered the same food order every Wednesday so his only outing was to collect his pension once a month. He would pick up the money, pay his bill at the shop and return home. He felt anxious whenever he was outside; the neighbourhood had changed a great deal in the last five years.
Madeline’s idea came to her as she was folding laundry. She knew she would have to be convincing but maybe it would work. Once supper was cooked she made up an extra plate and knocked on Boyd’s door.
“Who is it at this time of night?”
“Hello, Boyd, it’s me, Madeline, from next door.”
Boyd opened his door and peeked through the gap.
“I wondered if you would like some supper? I haven’t got used to making single portions and made far too much for one person.”

Window 4

The aroma made Boyd’s stomach grumble.
“Well, it seems wicked to throw it away, I’ll help you out.”
Boyd took the chain off the door and opened it. Standing to one side he motioned Madeline to enter. Her heart ached when she saw how dark and dirty the apartment was. The poor man was obviously living alone and could not manage. Boyd followed behind Madeline shuffling with his cane.
“Just put the plate on the little table by the armchair. Thank you.”
Madeline surveyed the room, apart from the armchair, side table and the television everything else had a layer of dust covering it. It was obvious Boyd sat in that exact spot most of the time.
“If you will let me I could bring a plate over every evening.”
“Now why would you do that? We’re strangers.”
“Not anymore, Boyd, we’re neighbours. I hope we will get to know each other well, in time.”
Boyd looked at Madeline friendly, smiling face. It was a long time since he had anyone want to be his friend. A broad smile lit up his face and Boyd nodded as a single tear ran down his cheek.
“You are so very kind. I would like that very much.”
Over the following months Madeline managed to clean Boyd’s apartment and they regularly went for walks at the weekends, picking new coffee shops to visit on their way. Light began to reflect in Boyd’s window and his eyes. Madeline shared her light willingly.

Tizzy

March 28, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Tizzy – definition: a very excited and mixed-up state of mind.

garden1I can hear my grandmother saying this to me from a very young age. It brings back memories so sharply of visits to my grandparents bungalow in England. The rooms had a mothball scent as did my grandparents although my grandmother’s lily of the valley perfume nearly overwhelmed it. Afternoon naps, or ’40 winks’ as my grandfather called them, spent dozing on his lap in the front room in his wing-backed chair. Tea and biscuits ready when we woke up and a slight rash on my soft cheek where his stubble had brushed it. The kitchen backed onto the rear garden, which was sectioned into flower beds on one side and the vegetable patch on the other. I loved to pick fresh pea pods for supper with my grandmother, although I  popped most of my harvest so I could eat the sweetest little peas. I enjoyed this garden so much, running around with my younger brothers and sister playing make believe. A real treat was going into my grandfather’s shed, which was always locked. It had the rich scent of sawdust and potting compost.

The scent of sweet-peas and lily of the valley are forever reminders of my grandmother. Both plants were in her garden, the lily’s delicate blooms I imagined as fairy hats and the glorious colors of the sweet-peas grew through the vegetable patch to brighten it up. I learned later that the sweet-peas attracted bees and ladybirds, which helped pollination and to keep the pests down.

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When I was older I realized that my mother’s love of gardening came from her parents. She is the ultimate green thumbed person, making even dry sticks grow! Gardening was her escape from four noisy children, a way to save costs with mountains of vegetables and a passion to grow everything from seed. Alas I am nowhere near as great with gardening, although I can keep indoor plants alive and will ‘potter’ around the flowerbeds quite happily on a warm summer morning.

When my siblings and I got too noisy, my grandmother would shout out ‘That’s enough, you are all in a tizzy, come and sit with a nice glass of milk.’ Or if one of us was the ‘odd’ one out of a game and was throwing a tantrum – “There now, no need to get in a tizzy, come and help me.”  Helping grandmother entailed rolling out pieces of surplus pastry and cutting them into shapes. She would bake them and then we could nibble on them or crush them up for the birds. Or if we were at the local playground she would take the upset child and put them onto another piece of play equipment away from the rest.

This photo shows a very similar cupboard to my grandmother’s where we would roll the pastry.

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Years later my grandparents came to live with us and we got used to that word all over again in our home. Getting into a tizzy was considered a bad thing and something we had to get over and be quick about it. Different standards for raising children I suppose. There was little pandering going on, I can tell you.

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