Tell Me A Story Tuesdays – The Return


Ahhhhh, home!

Rounding the bend near the end of the lane, Joyce saw at once that the cars were still there sitting like a permanent part of the landscape in the place she’d remembered. When she was a child she had gone missing for an afternoon after she had crawled in through a broken window. She’d brushed the tiny pieces of glass off the seat and onto floor of the car after slipping a few pieces of what looked more like diamonds than broken glass into the center pocket her blue jean overalls. Always a petite child, she’d dropped easily into place behind a steering wheel that would seem huge compared with those found in modern cars today, but back then even sitting up as big and tall as she could, she had barely been able to see over the wheel. Tilting her head back so that her nose pointed up she’d struggled to see over the cracked dashboard of the abandoned car. After a while her neck had begun to ache and she diverted her attention to what was easy to see and close enough to reach. Picking at the peeling strips of interior paint, she tried to tug a piece loose scratching at it gently the way she might pick at the scabby places she always seemed to have on her knees.

Joyce had disappeared that day, lost for what her foster family would say seemed like most of the afternoon and evening. Sitting in the remains of someone else’s dreams, she been lulled to sleep by the heat of the afternoon sun which even in late summer was still baking hot and only bearable because of the cars position under a leafy canopy of trees. Walking through the tall grasses was easier at her age now as she made her way over to the shell of what had been her first mode of transportation. This old wreck of a car had never actually moved from its present location not with Joyce in it anyway, but looking back she remembered the places she’d traveled in her mind while sitting on its worn front seat using her imagination as a roadmap to all the places she would go.

Seeing the tireless rims of what had been her spaceship to the moon and an airplane built for one, she thought about the times when she had pretended that this old car had special powers that could protect her from the evil outside forces that threatened her daily life. Outside evil forces was the name she given what she couldn’t understand and it was the comic books that taught her about superheroes and their powers. She’d found them stuffed inside an old cardboard suitcase almost too small to contain them all. One day while hiding in an old shed behind the barn, she had made herself as small as she could and pushed in behind a dusty tarp. Backing up against a wall, she’d bumped into the suitcase that held what she would come to think of as her handbooks for survival.

Joyce shifted a bit, restless with the discomfort caused by old memories and the weight of the box she held in her hands. It had been so long since she was last here that she wasn’t sure where the path was anymore. As overgrown as it was now, she couldn’t quite see it and tried to remember with her feet instead of looking with her eyes. She knew that the last member of the foster “family” had died not long ago. The old man had held on to his miserable life long after she wished him dead for the first time and now years after she’d left this place which was never a home, she finally felt safe enough to return.

The air was so hot that she could barely move feeling like it took too much effort to even walk, but she was on a mission to return what she’d taken years ago even though it meant going back to the place where she’d found it. A friend that she’d confided in had suggested she sell the contents of the box, after all there was a huge market for old comic books. Joyce had explained as patiently as she could that these well-read worn out pages had no value to a collector in their condition and that selling them would be like selling off the stuffed Pooh bear her friend had treasured since childhood. ” These Masters of the Universe belong to another world ” she’d said, while thinking quietly to herself…a world that I am finally done doing battle with.

Thanks to Karen Caterson for her suggestion that I used for this week’s TMAST. Judy Harper joined me again in writing a story for TMAST and her story can be found on her blog here. Please take a look at the pictures for next week’s TMAST and offer up suggestions for topic sentences based on the photographs. Thanks for reading and commenting and please consider writing along with me next week.

Tell Me A Story Tuesdays – Lemons Into Lemonade

Baumholder Germany HHB Divarty Load Up

“This’d be a great place to set up our lemonade stand.”

Madeline said, turning her head in the direction of the row of military trucks. “I just know my daddy’s here somewhere and we’re going to find him,” she said more to herself than the ratty old Pooh Bear she had wedged in her backpack. “Maddie my girl,” said Pooh, “if anyone can find him, I believe you can.”  Pooh tended to call Madeline Maddie in same way her mother did and it wouldn’t be until she was much older that she would look back and think of all the advice she’d attributed to her bear when she was little and wonder if it had really been the voice of her mother all along. Leaving Mrs. Ulster behind in the house just before daylight, she’d packed up the things she remembered her mother used when making lemonade last summer. Mrs. Ulster was staying in the house with her until they could find what she had heard her say was, “Her next of kin.” She’d  heard Mrs. Ulster say this while talking softly to someone on the kitchen phone unaware that Maddie could hear her while sitting in her secret spot in the hallway upstairs.

Maddie had discovered it a few years ago when she was five or six and it was the best place to hear what was going on downstairs in the kitchen especially on the nights when her Aunt Judy stayed over with her mom. Her mom would say they were staying up for some girl talk as she kissed Maddie goodnight and then go back to the kitchen where she could hear them talking and laughing long after she should have been asleep. Sometimes when she was feeling restless, Maddie would creep out to the landing and tuck herself on the far side of the hall table out of sight of the kitchen, but still within hearing range and it was on one of those nights she first heard her mother telling Aunt Judy about her daddy. Aunt Judy asked a lot of questions that night and her mother’s answers had left Maddie confused. She had not considered that a daddy was something everyone had before hearing her mom’s explanation. Maddie was still was young enough then to think that Mommy was a name like her name was Maddie and that the man living in her friend Lucy’s house across the street was named Daddy.  She didn’t realize back then that everybody had a daddy because she didn’t seem to have one….at least not until she heard her mother telling tell Aunt Judy what happened to hers.

Maddie wished she could talk to Aunt Judy now because she was more like a second mommy  than an aunt often staying with her when mom had to go away on business trips. This time though was different, Mommy and Aunt Judy had gone off together on a trip and Mrs. Ulster had come to watch over her. It was only now though that she was beginning to understand that they were not coming back, not next week like they’d planned, not ever. Mrs. Ulster had sort of fallen down on the old sofa when the policeman came in to talk to her a few days ago and even from upstairs, Maddie had heard the sound the cushions made when someone plopped, as her mommy would say, too hard when sitting down. Peeking over the railing she could see Mrs Ulster’s face and heard the policeman say, ” It looks as if they both went instantly.”  Went instantly…Maddie had wondered what he meant then…”went where?” she thought to herself.  It wasn’t until later that Mrs Ulster explained that they’d gone to heaven, snatched out of the car by the hand of God because he needed them with him more than they were needed on earth. Maddie had been confused by this as she remembered more than a time or two hearing her mom say that people blamed a great many things on God that had nothing to do with what she called, ” An act of God.” Besides, how could they be needed more in heaven when she needed them here.

All this talk about next of kin and what to do now with Maddie made her remember what she’d heard her mom tell Aunt Judy when they’d had what she thought of as the daddy talk. She heard her mother as she said, ” Maybe I should have told Jim about her…I don’t know, it’s just he didn’t seem ready for fatherhood and I sure didn’t want to be the wife of a soldier.” Sitting in the hall that night she’d listened as her mother talked about this daddy fellow whose name was really Jim. Aunt Judy had asked her mom if she knew what had happened to him and she’d told her that she saw in the newspaper where he’d been accused of something he hadn’t done and managed to prove it to the military police before being tossed out of the army. She heard her say that after all the drama, he’d landed on his feet receiving a promotion and a cushy job at the military post in Fairfield, the next town over where so many soldier’s families lived.

Laughing softly, she’d heard her mother say, ” That man always could turn life’s lemons into lemonade.”  Maddie remembered this when she’d heard Mrs. Ulster on the phone talking with someone about not wanting to put her in the system just yet. She wasn’t sure what the system was, but it didn’t sound too good and Maddie decided she was going to have find this soldier Jim who her mom had said was her daddy. She wasn’t sure how to do it just like she wasn’t quite sure how to make lemonade, but she had the sugar and she had the lemons and maybe if she set up a little stand like she did last summer when her mom had helped her, she might be able to find her daddy and he could help her with the rest.

Remember it’s practice writing not perfect…still hoping someone will join me on a Tuesday with a story of their own posted on their blog. Go on over to Tell Me A Story Tuesdays to leave a topic sentence for next week or see what I’ve posted. Thanks this week to Karen for her opening sentence suggestion in bold at the top of this page and you can go here to check out her blog.