Another challenge! Several fun writing and photo challenges are scattered throughout The Land of Blog and on occasion, I’m inspired to participate. Today is one of those days.

This Six Word Story Challenge, hosted by Nicola on the Sometimes Stellar Storytelling blog, can be found here and the prompt is the word Wicked. Here is the entry I submitted:

Scathing innuendos never really hurt anyone.

Johnny was quite the tough guy, or so he thought himself to be. With his cigarette dangling just so and the sleeves of his grungy white t-shirt rolled up above his quasi-impressive biceps, this wanna-be JD strode toward the jukebox with what he hoped resembled an imposing swagger. Stopping to deposit a three-quarter inch stem of ashes from the Marlboro that was fixed between his teeth, he dropped in the requisite coins and selected P-2. Born to be Wild.

Silently, he returned to his booth in the corner, sitting with his back to the wall in order to survey his kingdom with Steppenwolf padding his brain (and his male-diminutive 5-7 frame) with adrenaline. A sneer slowly exploded in the space between his left and right ears.

“Yeah, this is how it’s done”.

Daily Prompt: Notorious

While photography has become a primary passion, I first started blogging in order to explore (and contribute to) The Land of Blog via the written word. As I began devoting more and more of A Sawyer’s Daughter to showcasing my photography, writing was put on the back burner. Heck, it wasn’t even on the stove anymore after awhile. I’d started participating in photo challenges and over time, my photography skills began to improve. I loved (and still love) taking – making! – photographs. Along the way, my enthusiasm and sometimes urgent desire to share my photos and everything I’d seen and experienced, the places I’d been, the quirky things I’d discovered – all of this, now instead – comprised the bulk of what I was posting on my blog.

Now that I’m retired, however, writing has become once again more of a priority. I’m not only writing more now (my own daily journaling, responses to WordPress’ Daily Prompts as well as 682 Things to Write About, a book of writing prompts, which is great fun!), I am also READING about writing, reading inspirational prose related to writing and reading more of what others are writing – about writing. And I’m finding it to be pretty heady stuff. Learning about plot and character development and setting and point of view is getting me pumped up – again – about writing!

Last week I walked by an older woman sitting on a bench watching young children at play in the park. As I continued to walk, an idea for a story took root and that’s what I’m working on now. Where this thing ends up remains to be seen but for now I’m intrigued with where it’s going. I find myself thinking about this story character throughout the day even when I’m not working on it, outlining questions in my mind (and on paper) about how old she is, what her history is, the dilemma she’s facing and how she chooses to deal with it, if indeed, she does at all. I get in a groove once I start writing and it just flows. Occasionally, I’ll stop, put the pen down, remove my glasses and take note of my surroundings or get up to stretch my legs or complete some chores around the house. I could be wrong but I believe this is exactly what writers do! And I think I like it…

So for now, I’ve decided to add writer to my repertoire to keep company with that of my other monikers, that of photographer and blogger. A person can (and should) do that, you know: Decide Who You Are and What You Want To Be. Not bad work if you can get it!

When it came to calmly and rationally contacting her Members of Congress, her best intentions went AWOL. Her emotions took over and the F-bombs went flying. Such was her anger and her frustration with the way these elected officials (not ‘her’ elected officials since she sure as hell didn’t vote for this lot) were conducting the nation’s business.

Did they not care about people’s sufferings, their hardships? Did they not realize the legislations they proposed and the regulations they gleefully rolled back would only serve to weaken, degrade and destroy the environment? Surely they knew – but apparently did not care – that this was the only planet we’ve got? Did they truly believe Big Business would do the right thing and ensure people were treated fairly, that they would have adequate and accessible health care, that they would not dump pollutants into the air, water and soil? What kind of fools did they think we all were?

Apparently the kind of fools who’ve allowed this kind of thing for generations.

She was dismayed (and embarrassed) at her lack of control in conveying all these concerns in a lucid, respectful manner. But more than that, she was horrified at the control these few had over so many. She could not wrap her head around how all of this came to be and was hopeful for a rectitude, of sorts, although for the life of her she could not imagine how that might come about.

Still, she held on to that because she just had to believe that what was right would prevail.

Daily Prompt: Control

A grassy bank
Blue sky overhead
Fluffy white clouds
Tall grasses swaying in the wind.

Teenage years
Always filled with angst.
Yearning, discovery
Sometimes pain and loss.

I remember lying there
Wondering about the world.
Idealistic brain babblings.
So sure of how things should be.

Trying to figure it out
‘Where do I fit in?’
And sometimes, that small voice:
‘Do I fit in? Do I belong?’

All these years later
I can still visualize that one particular moment.
So unaware of what was yet to come.
Considering this, the future is not so daunting.

Always, one foot forward.
What else are you going to do?

My father’s sawmill:
Lovingly built and nurtured
For more than fifty years.

He got into the business
Grudgingly, at first
From my mother’s dad.

Prostate cancer took Daddy from us
He’d lived a good life.
I miss him.

It’s sad that no one
Took over the mill.
No one to carry on his legacy.

So. We simply remember
With joy and with pride.

Daily Prompt: Apprentice

The world can be such a sad place, so full of disappointment. Not the world itself per se but the people who inhabit it: Folks whose hearts are cold and cruel and only self-serving. Individuals who, by rights and connections – none of their own making really but there you have it – should be the guardians and nurturers and caretakers of those closest to them but fail utterly in that regard. Relationships where love and gentle regard is sorely absent.

It’s sad to discover there are members of the human race who possess these traits of ugliness, brutality and disregard. When the knowledge that the world is filled with this caliber of humanity becomes apparent to us, it’s as devastating as when a young child first discerns there really is no Santa Claus, if the child was fortunate enough, that is, to have lived in a family where the perpetuation of this loving tradition was cultivated in the first place. To recognize that some children have never even had that… Well, that’s a sad realization in and of itself, is it not?

I won’t lie. I still struggle with resentments of my own. My father drank a lot and rarely put his wife’s and his children’s well being before his own. He was a good provider, however, and did love all of us, of that I am certain. Perhaps it was just the era but I don’t really fault him for this. I can’t explain why. So the duties of child-rearing fell to our mother and with a husband who drank and six girls under the age of ten to raise, I can only imagine how difficult it was for her.

I suppose, then, that I should be a bit more charitable and excuse her for her lack of affection, for her utter disinterest in nurturing us (maybe she just didn’t know how?). For failing to foster strong sisterly bonds (rather, she chose to exploit and corrupt them instead). For her, then and even now still, her only regard was and is herself. Her neediness seems to know no bounds. And, here I am sixty years old and it still rankles. Especially when she bemoans the fact that the six of us don’t get along well at times. In her mind, she apparently thinks she was a perfectly wonderful mother and does not believe there is any cause for her to feel regret or remorse. Oh yes, that rankles too.

Sigh. I know it could have been worse, glaringly, shockingly, horrifyingly worse. I get it. We weren’t abused – not physically, anyway – but still we’ve spent a lifetime of distrust. A lifetime that could have been spent as friends, we sisters, where we had each other’s back instead of using them as targets. We could have spent these years delighting in each other’s company rather than merely tolerating our sibling relationships. This small artifact of truth, that our mother does not recognize this consequence, this fall-out of her non-mothering, speaks volumes of her refusal to accept responsibility for her own actions – all the while she readily chomps at our own failings and misdeeds.

Yes. I need to move on. And quite often, I feel that I have. But every so often I’ll read or see or observe others’ realities, and the niceness of their relationships, and I’m hit on the head – soundly! – with what we were denied. It’s less – much less – than the brutality and depravity of much of what lies in the world, I know that. I do. But it doesn’t make it hurt any less, not for me, for my five sisters and me, that our childhoods, our family’s bones were so lacking in love, nurturance, warmth, safety and structure.

There is beauty and love and resilience and nurturing in the world, this I know too. I must strive to seek it on my own, and to find it within myself. The past is the past and while I know it will always serve up small reminders of what was (and what was not), I must actively choose to see it for what it was and nothing more. I’ll get there. I’ll be fine. Sometimes, a body just has to fess up and recognize those nagging voices from the past, deal with them, and push forward. Get right with one’s own soul and enjoy the sunshine of today.

The bar scene: Strobe lights, dancing,
Saturday Night Fever.
Places to shake your groove thing.
To see — and be seen. Guys, take note!

Girlfriends all made up, on the prowl
Going out on the town.
Best duds (new duds), eyes made up a bit too much: Spider Eyes.
High heels, wobbly as all get out but dang girl – so sexy!

Charlie, Opium.
White Shoulders, Enjoli.
Avon Sweet Honesty. Musk.
Love’s Baby Soft ~

“What’s that you’re wearing? Bug spray?!”

Perhaps not as hot as I’d hoped for, I’m afraid. Ah, youth.

Daily Prompt: Perfume