Serial Fiction, Chapter 5: Better Now

IMG_0270

Photo and graphic by Shielagh, copyrighted 2017.

She sat on the beach, a few feet from the water where the sand was dry, watching the waves as they slid in and out, their swish and sizzle setting a soothing rhythm. Being down here was so wonderful. Staying with Gramma was a little weird with all the old people she hung out with, but feeling safe was worth it.

Michelle hugged her knees to her in the cool morning air. She came here a lot, mostly because Gramma could see her from the big picture windows of the apartment. In a way it felt she wasn’t trusted, or like being treated like a kid, but she knew it was because Gramma cared enough to keep her in view. She had her cellphone on her all the time, and Gramma would call her when she wanted her to come home. She figured, too, that if Gramma ever saw someone unsafe nearby, she’d call her, and if, God forbid, anyone tried to hurt her, she’d call 911 in a heartbeat.

Besides, she knew she was helping Gramma just by being there, because her grandfather had died a few years ago, and now Gramma had lost her son. It must be hard, Michelle, thought, and she was glad she could help Gramma too somehow.

The last few months had been a blur. Amanda had told her mom that Michelle’s mom’s boyfriend had been “inappropriate.” The first night she spent over there was one she knew she’d never forget.

“Let’s call your mom now,” Amanda’s mom had said, and Michelle got on the extension so she could listen. After a couple of moments of small talk, Amanda’s mom, Gloria, had told Michelle’s mom, “Michelle isn’t safe at your house, Donna. Your boyfriend has been touching her, and you have to do something. Get him out of there, and report him to the authorities.

“You little liar!” her mom had screamed. “You’re just making that up! He wouldn’t do anything like that!”

Michelle had sobbed, “It’s true! He comes in my room!”

“I don’t believe you,” her mother had said in a weird, quieter voice.

Gloria had spoken to her mom calmly and clearly, continuing to say that the creep had to go, or Michelle would be staying at her house. It had only gotten worse. Her mom had shoved her clothes into a couple of black garbage bags and dumped them on Amanda’s front lawn the next day. Thank God she’d taken most of her personal stuff and school books to her locker and had the rest in her backpack. Looking back, she began to feel as if she’d known she’d be getting out of there fast.

Gloria had helped Michelle tell the police what had been happening. The policewoman who came over had been really nice. She took a lot of notes, and she said a social worker would come see her, too. That had been okay. By then she’d told Amanda and her mom, the police and now this nice lady who reminded her of her English teacher, and the more she told it, the easier it was, especially when they all seemed to believe her.

“We need to find a better place for you to live. I’m sure you can’t stay here at your friend’s house indefinitely,” she’d said, looking at Gloria. Gloria had said that Michelle was welcome as long as she needed to stay, but they’d talked about a lot of other things, and it was decided that staying with her dad’s mom, her Gramma, in Florida, was the best thing, and the social worker had called Gramma right then.

“Oh, baby! I am so sorry!” Gramma had said, and in a few minutes, it was all arranged. The next week she’d flown down to Florida and in a few days was registered in a school with a lot of smart and creative kids. Gramma had been a teacher and she knew all about the Sunshine Academy. A friend of hers had taught there and she said they even had a school psychologist that kids could go see for free if they had problems. “It’ll be good for you to talk to someone,” Gramma had said.

So here she was, on a beach in the morning before school, mentally tossing her problems into the water as her therapist had suggested. Math test, sadness over not seeing Timmy anymore, not even getting to talk to him because her mom wouldn’t let him, missing Amanda and other friends, and some of the boys. The creep was gone. He’d gone to jail for a little while, but Gramma said his lawyer had gotten him out, and he could stay out as long as he went into counseling and did community service, but he wasn’t allowed to be near kids. Her mom said she would never forgive her for this. Michelle didn’t care. Not really. Like her therapist said, it was complicated. Mom had problems she needed to work out. A tear slid down her cheek and she brushed it away with her sleeve. Yeah, she cared.

She watched the seagulls wheel overhead, mewing like cats. A big brown pelican suddenly swooped down and scooped up something in its bill. Probably a fish.

Her phone pinged and she looked at it. “Time to come up and get ready for school,” was Gramma’s text. She got to her feet and brushed off the sand. She realized she really did feel better now.

img_0154

For the Daily Post

Your Weekly Diversion, Week 13

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

Welcome to Week 13. My focus has been a lot closer to home this week. Somehow it just feels better that way. We are preparing to migrate north. Here are the best photos I took this week.

IMG_0238

Steve and Tex, a Biblical Naples sunset, Daisy and the Easter Bunny, flowers peeking through a box hedge, and our blooming magnolia.

We’re having a drought here now and the fire risk is very high. The lake’s water level is lower than we’ve seen during this season. We hear it’s supposed to begin raining nearly daily soon, and it sure seems like a good thing! When the wind blows across Florida from the east, we smell smoke and find little bits of ash on our cars. Right now the culprit is the Cowbell Fire near Alligator Alley. It’s over 30 miles away from us now, but sometimes we can see a column of brown smoke in the air. Hundreds of fire fighters and their equipment and other resources are battling the spreading blaze.

IMG_0241

Okay, take a deep breath and calm down. Hey, guess what? Research now validates what we who meditate have known forever: deep breathing is the best way to calm down. UPDATE: Wow, since I posted this, I just learned that my friend and fellow blogger Joan Rothchild Hardin had written an extensive post on the breath.

As we prepare to hit the road in a few days, let’s hope it’s not a hard road.

Yes, indeed, sweet young singers Lennon and Maisy help us pray that Hard Times Come No More.

Namastéimg_0154

Your Weekly Diversion, Week 8

IMG_0180

So how was your week?

Here in SW Florida we’ve been experiencing close proximity to a brushfire that devastated 7500 acres of pine scrub and palmettos and created a huge, mushrooming column of choking smoke that hung about for days. Only four rural structures were destroyed, and thankfully no one was hurt, but that smoke was epic. Here’s what we saw from our driveway on Tuesday.

IMG_0488

Collier County brushfire 3/7/17

The Collier County fire paled by comparison to the conflagration in Washington DC spawned by hot air, smoke and mirrors, hubris, hypocrisy, and paranoia. And, no, it isn’t the same on both sides.

IMG_0182

Photo courtesy of Travel Wires

Now for your diversions. Column of impressive smoke, you say? Italians can claim the prize, produced by Mount Etna this month.

IMG_0183

 

After all these fiery natural phenomena and irrational political bombast, I needed some good news. A man lost his beloved parrot. Thanks to an implanted ID chip, the parrot was found years later and reunited with his owner. You’ll have to read this to learn the change the parrot exhibited upon his return.

 

IMG_0184

Here’s another feel good diversion. When her dad wouldn’t do it, a business leader walked a lesbian bride down the aisle.

And I wouldn’t leave you without some good music. My cousin from Knoxville, Tennessee shared one of her favorite artists with me this weekend when she and her sister came for a fun visit. Here is Amos Lee and “Southern Girl.”

 

Namasté

img_0154

Your Weekly Diversion, Week 7

img_0172

Here we are in week 7 of the Wacky World of American life. Schadenfreude notwithstanding, what a ride! My bet is that you either have a TV or get your news on a computer or mobile device, or even a radio. Maybe you read a real, paper newspaper, but you may be aware of how goofy some of the political machinations and contortions have gotten, and who foments false news and who is merely accused of doing so when they really tell the truth. If you do, I have some questions for you, and some great music.

img_0174

Photo courtesy Travels with Amy

Are you hankering to visit Havana? A travel agency in a strip mall near my home in SW Florida boasts a cruise to Cuba for $699 per person. How do you know which Cuba travel opportunity is right for you? Read this before you plan your trip.

img_0175

Hungry? Wouldn’t it be great to prep a full hot breakfast on your countertop? Check these out. I’d be happy to give several of them a home.

img_0176

Are you looking for love this year? Venus is in retrograde with Aries and Pisces. Not sure why that matters? Me either, but anything with “retrograde” gets my attention. Enough weird stuff has happened in my life when Mercury was in retrograde to make me respect the paths of the planets. The Old Farmers Almanac gIves the dates for Mercury in retrograde in 2017.

Maybe you just want to let the mystery be. Iris Dement’s lyrics tell us she does.

 

Namasté

img_0154

Your Weekly Diversion, Week 3

img_0841

Photo by Shielagh

 

It’s been another week filled with disturbing news. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. My mother always said, “Consider the source,” when I worried about something mean or false someone had said to me.

img_0128

Yes, this post is meant to be a bit of diversion, but we aren’t ostriches, so here’s something relevant that may comfort you. Buddhists are speaking out about the controversial so called Muslim travel ban.

img_0127

And today when I opened a favorite app, Bloglovin’, I was greeted with this banner atop the page: “Stand up for civil rights. At Bloglovin’ we aim to give a platform to influencers of every nationality, race or religion, and to make everyone’s voice heard. Please join us in standing up for civil rights. Click here to make a donation to the ACLU.”

And by now you must be aware that the ban has been stayed by a Federal judge through a temporary restraining order. Naturally there have been angry responses from the new administration, including immature, indignant tweets. Look them up if you wish, but I will give them no forum here.

Design.png

Poster by Shielagh, also on @sonnische on Instagram

We’ve planned a beach day today here in Florida, a therapeutic bonding with nature as we walk in the sand, slosh in the surf and if it isn’t too cold, swim in the sea. We all need a regular dose of nature, and I urge every reader to go out and make contact with the natural world around you today, be it the sea, the desert, the mountains, the woods, the rivers or lakes, your window garden, or even a vestpocket city park. And remember, illegitimi non carborundum!

Update: Oh, how could I forget the toe tapping! Here’s Fitz and the Tantrums just for you.

Namasté

img_0154