It’s Only a Number

Ten eyelet high combat boots would seem to be at odds with a 50’s vintage blue flowered skirt.

(Did she get dressed in the dark or what?)

And fire engine red lipstick, hair a tangled mop mess-is there anything graceful about that?

So what does it mean exactly, to act your age?

It all depends on how old you act.


Lillie McFerrin Writes


Shipwreck Rock

I am one of them, of late, on these frosty fall mornings. Huddled together near the sea-hemmed edge of an ancient grove of evergreens, they, like me, are drawn to the massive boulder that juts out just above the jagged cliffs, to wait and hope.  Mourn and remember.

The brass plaque is ancient, as well.

I Pine For You And Balsam Too

As ancient as the trees, and oxidized green from time and a constant shower of salt spray.  Engraved in flowing script left over from a long forgotten era, the plaque has been attached to stone for so long it’s hard to imagine one ever existing without the other.  Just as it’s impossible to recall a time when there was no need to wait and hope, mourn and remember.

Nearly a week has passed, and still no word as to your fate.  I look out towards the ocean, and sense my own hope, once as solid as flesh and blood, beginning to seem less and less corporeal.

Like this gathering of us.

And I wonder if I’ll still be drawn to the rock beneath the evergreens, even after I’m gone.

One Tough Coconut

A note about this story…this was one of the first pieces of fiction that I ever wrote.  (Four, five years ago?) Reading through it now it seems a bit rough, but I didn’t change any part of it.  What I love most about this is remembering how at the time I was working on it Amy and I laughed ourselves silly over those elephant jokes…


He knew Muriel Davenport was guilty.  The  evidence against her was overwhelming, but all circumstantial, unfortunately.    What Detective Martin Whitfield Dunmore was after was a full confession.  He had used everything on her, trying to get her to crack.  The bright lights in her face.  The trick questions. Even a little of the “rough stuff.”  But Muriel would not crack.  She was one tough coconut.  Detective Dunmore was tired.  He wanted to go home.  He could practically taste the dry martini he planned to make for himself.   “All right Mrs. Davenport.   You leave me no choice.  Sergeant Graff, go get the book of elephant jokes.”

Muriel let out a terrified gasp.  This was a turn of events she hadn’t anticipated.  “No!   Please no.  Not elephant jokes!”

Dunmore smiled, and with a feeling of renewed optimism, told the first one.

 Why are elephants wrinkled?

The are too difficult to iron.

Muriel felt a fit of giggles coming on.  She bit down hard on her lip.  She was going to be strong.

Why is an elephant big and gray?

If it were small and white it would be an aspirin tablet.

Unable to control herself, Muriel started to laugh.

 What’s the difference between a piece of paper and an elephant? 

You can’t make an airplane out of an elephant.

Detective Dunmore showed no mercy.

 What does Tarzan say when he sees a herd of elephants in the distance?

 “Look!  A herd of elephants in the distance.”

What is the difference between a herd of elephants and a plum?

 An elephant is gray.

What does Jane say when she sees a herd of elephants in the distance?

  “Look!  A herd of plums in the distance.”  (Jane is colorblind.)

“Stop!”   Muriel screamed.  Her sides ached from so much laughing.  Her temples throbbed.

“So are you ready to talk now Mrs. D.?   I know you iced your husband.  Where’d you hide the body?  Make things easy on yourself and come clean.”

Muriel took a good hard look down the road into her future, and knew that life behind bars was not on her bucket list.  She planned to be a free woman, in more ways than one, for a long, long time.

“I didn’t do it!”  Muriel shot back at the tired detective.  I DID NOT DO IT!   She would break him down.

Putting his head in his hands, the vision of his dry martini fading, Detective Martin Whitfield Dunmore started to cry very quietly, but he continued-with the longest and fiercest volley yet.

 How do you put an elephant in the ice box?

 Open the door and put him in.

How do you put a giraffe in the ice box?

Open the door and take  the elephant out, and put the giraffe in.

The lion decided to have a party.  He invited every animal in the jungle, but one didn’t come.  Which one?

The giraffe.  It was stuck in the ice box.

Two explorers try to cross a crocodile infested stream.  How do they get across?

 Simple.  They wade across.  All of the crocodiles are at the lion’s party.

 But Muriel would not crack.  She was one tough coconut.

Shift of Light

Her studio, the same.  Hand me down chest of drawers, guardian of paper and paint.  Hundred year old jars, purple with age, holding her brushes.  Cleverly arranged still life of chambered nautilus shell and vase of fragrant, sagging lilacs, nestled among the folds of rich old brocade.  Yet the overriding atmosphere of disharmony, as she lingers in the doorway surveying the room, cannot be blamed on the afternoon sun which casts her studio in deeply shadowed contrast and texture, but rather in how her circumstantial perception seems to have changed. She tentatively fingers the intricate twisted-link silver chain that rides the curves of her neck, not quite able to decide what to do with herself.  Slipping quietly into the room, no longer fitting comfortably among paper and brushes and paints, she sits, leaning over an unfinished watercolor, and tears, wrung from some unfamiliar place, mix and blend new colors.


My element, astrologically, is earth, bestowed upon me by virtue of my September birthday.  As such, I am characterized as being rigid and fixed.  Stable.  Easily confined. And my home, circumstantially, is the desert, though neither the realities of my birth nor my geography accurately define me. Water is my true element.  It rules my liquescent heart.

I nurture, in the midst of my arid surroundings, a modest patch of garden, lush and green, where I grow flowers and a few tomatoes. At the edge of this garden abides the crowning glory of my self-made oasis, a small stone fountain, able to charm heat wilted birds and insects alike with the promise of rejuvenation.

This morning I discovered a drowned butterfly in my fountain, its wings unfurled on the liquid surface as though embracing the final spilled moments of its life.  I cradled its sodden body in my hands, cautioning myself again what an all consuming thirst for water will do, if I let it.


I know about rainbows.

How you can’t have one without both sun and rain.

Or that the exact proportion of liquid to luminosity does not need to be an exact science.

And I also know this.

When the downpour comes, and the light goes out, if you cannot find your way through the implacable darkness, you will drown.


This is for a family I know, facing just that sort of darkness right now. I pray to God they come through it.

Lillie McFerrin Writes