Small Things

This token. 

It’s a small thing, really. 

Only it isn’t. 

Because this token, what it represents, spans the widest ocean.

Soars higher than any mountain.

And here, in this present time and place, it’s all she can do.

Kiss her fingertips, press them to her heart, and write his name in the sand.


At a loss for words this week.  This one comes in at a very diminutive 53/500…

Still, please enjoy.


“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire


You come to me.

A skull and crossbone shard of coral.


Worn smooth.

Wisdom of a hundred ages old.

Scars fade.

Sand falls away.

You seek to discover the treasures I forgot I had.

And I find you.

Milk and Honey

You know what love looks like.  Worry lines criss crossed by strands of grey-brown hair.  The faded rose-print dress, worn and washed, and worn and washed, until it’s as tired as the wisp of the round-shouldered woman whose waist you can almost wrap your arms around twice.  And this wisp of a woman in the rose-print dress, when you picture her and think about how hard she’s worked and how much she’s done without, hoping to give you a better life, your heart is torn to pieces.

A moment of clarity emerges, amid the haze of endless dust and toil and too many mouths to feed, when you realize that no matter how desperately your mother tries to fool herself, the rainbow she seeks does not exist. Not here, at least.  You realize something else as well.  At 15, you have reached the August of your youth, and that beneath an emerging grownup sense of duty to do what is right, also lurks the shoved-down-deep-into-your-pockets desire of wanting more than this place can ever give you.  And you are burdened, for the first time in your tender life, with the millstone of guilt.

It won’t be long now before you hear the inevitable-your future calling to you in the whistle of a passing freight train. You’ll cloak yourself in a pair of your little brother’s overalls.  Twist and pin your dark curls into a knot on the top of your head-hidden under his old mustard yellow newsboy cap.  You’ll heave the responsibilities of adulthood onto your young shoulders.  Hop aboard the blackness of an open boxcar.  And you’ll be gone.


Wrapped in a faded beach towel, I sit by the lake for the last time.  The lengthening shadows of the trees behind me creep beyond the point where shore and small waves meet, spilling onto the surface of the water, and I realize that I’ve been here, on this patch of grass, for quite some time.  I’m cold, and a shiver presses through my wet hair, all the way down to the tips of my toes.

The thoughts I am lost in take me back to a certain summer, the memories still so vivid in my mind.  Like black silhouettes against white paper.  It was the summer after my second year of college.  The summer  I met him.  Liquid blue eyes and a straw colored crew cut.   Ocean and sand.  I’d singled him out from the group of other swimmers who were gathered at the lake, and shyly I realized that I had been noticed as well.  By late afternoon we  were sharing  ice cream and holding  hands.

Several nights later, I began to get the phone calls.  A voice over the line, her voice, whispering the warning I would come to know so well.   Stay away from things that don’t belong to you. Followed by a click, and then silence.

I knew her, even though we’d never met.  She was the girl who had been his girl, and had been replaced-and she was devastated.  She’d made plans for the two of them, sketched out a future that she saw as their destiny.  Baked him cookies, and knit him sweaters.  I was nothing but a thief.  All  summer long, she continued to call me.  The same whispering voice, and the same warning.  The same pitiful attempt to stake a claim on a heart that was no longer hers.  I felt sad, more than threatened.

I  stand up and brush off my bare legs, polka dotted with small bits of dried grass that have stuck to my skin.  The surface of the lake has grown dark, and in the fading daylight I see the glint of a silvered trout as it jumps, as though suddenly afraid of the deep, cold depths of its home.  I’m urging myself to leave this place as well.   I’ve done what I came here to do.  Swim one last time in this water.  The same water that was so deeply shadowed the last time he swam in it that it swallowed everything.

And fate decided he would belong to no one.


Keeping Time

One, two, three, four.  One, two, three, four.

Deep breath.  Keep the tears at bay.

She’s made the mistake again.  Chirping on like a canary at breakfast about pan fried-steak dinner plans (mashed potatoes or rice?) and how she’d love to have a brand new toaster.

But judging by his eyes-fixed on a point outside her existence-it’s clear he’d rather be watching  paint dry.

She stands, begins, under the lingering cloud of his silence, to carry dishes to the sink, while he fetches his raincoat from the rack in the hall, drapes it over his arm, puts on his hat, and with leather briefcase in hand-is gone without so much as a word goodbye.


In her kitchen, she switches on the radio, plugged in next to the failing toaster. Wait Till You See Her serenades rainbow-colored ballroom bubbles that erupt as she runs an enameled dishpan full of hot soapy water. 

The steam coaxes her memory out into the open-like an envelope, sealed shut, but yielding under the sultry persuasion of moisture and heat.  She is at the Dixon’s party, and she’s gone into the sitting room to fetch a drink for Vance, only to bump into Glen Dixon.  He seems stunned at the sight of her.  Her hair, unrestrained.  Her filmy rose flowered gown draped softly on her body.  Are you having a good time, Lou?  he flirts.  Beckons her to come close, pointing to a spot on his cheek for her to plant a kiss.

Untying the strings of her yellow gingham apron, she lets it drop to the floor. Kicks off her shoes.  Pulls out the pins holding up her hair.   She forgets the gaudy gilded wallpaper she did not choose.  Forgets her seldom used ice cream soda spoons.  Forgets that the rhythm of her life, like a 5/4 beat, is almost impossible to dance to.  And starts to waltz.



Write On Edge


I first notice him as I step outside my front door to retrieve the mail-two bills, an overdue notice from the library and a letter from Billy.  He is a dark flash, darting quickly behind my neighbor’s azalea bush.  Oddly enough, he reminds me of Cupid.  Toga.  Bow and arrow.  But dressed in black, not white.  I shrug it off.  What some guys won’t do to get classified 4-F.

Thirty minutes later, freed from the burden of delinquent books and the threat of library card suspension, I see him again.   Now he’s hiding, though not very well, behind the large Public Library sign, and yes, he is most definitely wearing a toga.

Feeling a little rattled, I decide I need a milkshake at the five and dime.

I’ve just finished ordering coffee (no ice cream, today) when he ambles in, and carefully arranging the folds of his toga, takes a seat at the counter, across from my table.  Laying his bow and arrow in his lap, he is soon sipping his own cup of coffee and eating a slice of pie, unaware of the mild commotion he’s caused.

I roll my eyes, and let my mind return to the letter from Billy-one of those “Dear Janes.”  Evidently, Billy’s met someone else.  I laugh.  A few weeks ago I’d simply volunteered to have my name and address wrapped up with a caramel popcorn ball, to be handed out when the next troop train came through town-the idea being that I’d be a sort of pen pal sweetheart for some lonely soldier or sailor.  Since then Billy and I’ve exchanged three letters.  Not exactly a commitment.  As I’m remembering the letter, an arrow flies well above the top of my head, hits the wall with a soft thud, and lands next to the salt and pepper shakers. 

I hear a distraught Oh dear and then the sound of someone crying. The cherub at the counter now has his boyish face buried in his hands, and between sobs I make out the word failure.

Then I get it.  Who this flip side of Cupid is.  He’s supposed to be the god of heartache.

Only he’s not very good at it, and I’m not heartbroken.

Nevertheless, I pick up the arrow, clutch its suction-cup point to my chest and dramatically stagger past him.  I can see him brighten.  Stopping at the cash register long enough to pay for my coffee before staggering outside, I hand the clerk an extra fifty cents.  His next slice of pie is on me, I whisper, and point to the only guy in the place wearing a brand new pair of black wings.

He’ll need that extra pie to keep up his strength.  Truly earn those wings. 

There is a war on, after all.


Picture credit here.

Hell’s Kitchen

Only a fool, she believed, would be silly enough to argue against the merits of modern appliances.  Still, why would a woman with a bone to pick deny herself  the brute satisfaction of beating fluffiness into a bowl of cake batter, or giving a batch of bread dough a good working over?  So she drew the line at electric mixers.  Sure, they did everything for fast.  But nothing for furious.


Lillie McFerrin Writes

The Swimsuit Monologues

I’m encased in spandex and nylon.  The same bought it on clearance and I’m sick of it now spandex and nylon I’ve encased myself in for the last five years or so.   It’s hot for March 1st, but only because I accidentally left the thermostat turned way up.  At the moment, I definitely feel underdressed, but soon this attire will be de rigueur if I don’t wish to become waterlogged in street clothes and sink like a stone.

When I finally summon the nerve to face my reflection in the full length mirror, and assess the damage that the past few chocolate laden holidays have inflicted, once again, as in previous winters, I’m pleasantly surprised.  I don’t look half bad!

Still, my inner interrogator is forced to begin a series of familiar questions:

Did the mirror come from a fun house?

Do I need stronger glasses?

Does my svelte appearance owe itself to the eye-fooling pattern on my suit-a lively red, black and gold figural design reminiscent of the interior of a stereotypical Chinese restaurant?   (And after one look at my suit will everyone suddenly vacate the beach in an attempt to satisfy their cravings for  sweet and sour chicken or a side of egg rolls, so what I look like won’t matter anyway?)

Let’s just suppose for a minute.  If I were to persuade myself to purchase a new swimsuit this year, could I get away with a solid color, say sultry black or elegant navy blue?  In a smaller size?  Or perhaps even a two-piece?

Unfortunately, as I’ve pointed the glaring spotlight so unforgivingly on myself, I’m adrift in a sea of self-doubt.

Hopefully, if I take out a small loan and order swimsuits in every conceivable style, color, pattern and size, I’ll find the answer.  In any case, it must be about time for lunch.  Fried rice sounds good.


No prompt for inspiration today.  This was just a free write I did for fun.

Picture courtesy of Glamour Splash